Friday, July 18, 2008

UK TV

With some time for reflection, I am moderating my opinion of UK tv. Earlier perhaps I would have said that there seemed to be endless talk shows hosted by some old hags who wouldn't get a look in on Australian tv. But then there were some seriously nice looking and personable men co-presenting or participating in these shows. But then I thought of Richard from Richard and Judy and he was boring and dull.

The English seem obsessed with shows about houses and property and prices. There must have been a dozen of these shows, ok, maybe four. Most were repeats and the prices did not reflect current values. But the shows were well made and very watchable.

News presentation was quite alien to what we get. One night I recall watching the BBC news for half an hour and there were only four stories.

Up north where we were, and I think I noted it was the same in the west, you get half an hour of national news then half an hour of local news. It depends if you watch the Beeb or commercial as to what order they come in. The news seem more repetitive than ours, minor stories seemed to run for days. Our world view is much wider and certainly more Asian and American focused. While I wasn't here in Aus, I doubt Zimbabwe would have had the coverage here that it did on English tele, ad nauseam. Hey, what about Australia? We were a colony too!

The only story I saw about Australia was in a newspaper where an English tourist in Australia had been bitten by a snake/spider.

One night at the caravan when R peaked early and went early to bed, I stayed up to have a play with the cable tv. Ohhh, a soft str8 porn channel, boring, but more than we get at home. Actually, not sure about that. Another channel that incidentally showed a guy with a full on exposed erection viewed from a distance and then a sheila giving him head. I was quite drunk by this time of the night and was surprised by what I saw. But better still, a show about the youth of England binge drinking and then throwing up, in graphic detail. Can't get much better than that.

It was a bitter sweet time when I was able to see EastEnders after not having seen it for twenty odd years. It would have been better left in the memory. The show is crap. But it was nice to see a slightly older Dot Cotton still going. Lou Beale was still alive the last time I saw the show.

The locals call it Corres, Coronation Street. It is on cable tv here I think. But I was under ten years old when I last saw it and would you believe, there is still one person still left in it who was in it when I was under ten. It is in colour now, I only remember it in black and white.

Here, it was Coronation Street, followed by the US show, Peyton Place. I used to find endless reasons to get up for a glass of water or to go to the toilet.

In summary, I like our tv better, as much as I whine about it. But one outstanding point about English tv, and perhaps even the English in general, the presenters never take themselves too seriously. This is quite un American and I would say, shows some maturity and sense about the medium they work in. But truly, we do get the best of UK tv. There is a lot of dross we fortunately miss.

Pics are of some silly northern tv weather presenter, who grew on me as the days went on, and someone who is a very respected newsreader and I knew of him well before going to the UK. I have no idea how.

Wow, I did not know this until I found his pic online. Sir!!! Trevor McDonald who reads the ITV news. Of course, I must overlook the long tribal war between my family and the McDonalds.
Bob Johnston, goofy, but appealing.
A tribute to the lady in the in the north who died of a heart attack when a thief was stealing diesel from the family storage tank. Tv news managed to string it out for a week.

Pee off pope

I don't like religion. I don't like Moslem religion, I don't like Jewish religion, Buddhism is not so bad, but probably the worst and the religion that the most heinous acts have been committed in the name of is Christianity. Most of the most zealous of Christians are Catholics. I was brought up in a time where would have nothing to do with Catholics and we were taught that they were our enemies.

Many of the prejudices that I was brought up with, I have overcome. But I still dislike the Catholic religion intensely.

And just to reinforce it, here is a quote from the current leader of the Church of Rome.

"Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. Homosexual acts go
against the natural moral law. They do not proceed from a genuine
affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they
be approved."

It is ok Popey, I don't need you approval, moral or legal.

Bugger off back to Rome Ratzinger, and take the godawful Pell with you.

Day 18, Hexham and Vindolanda

In the morning, we blobbed in front of the tele, mesmerised by the appalling tv shows. By late morning we got our act together and motored off towards Carlisle on the A69 but turned off onto a minor road, then a single lane road, then a minute strip of bitumen with occasional passing places which lead us to Vindolanda.

Vindolanda is old Roman fort which is in the process of being excavated from the soil. I say in the process, it has been going on for decades and quite a bit of progress has been made. We braved the strong wind and spent a few of hours there, including lunch at the cafe and a good look around the museum that had bits that had been found.

My imagination was really working overtime. Like we are talking the site first being built on around two thousand years ago. Found in the ruins were a pair of sandals, perhaps 1800 years old. Just mind blowing. Here, so many years ago, people ate, loved, rooted, defecated......well the latrines had been uncovered. I assume it all ended up in the creek below. One thing I did not wonder about was why being posted from Rome to England was considered a punishment. The wind was strong and cold.

On the way home, we stopped off at the lovely town of Haydon Bridge for a cold ale. We needed a drink after suffering sitting stationary for cumulatively half an hour for roadworks. They need to build a bypass to bypass the Haydon Bridge bypass works.

Cumberland sausages and salad for dinner. Who cares which county they come from, but they were rather nice.

Ruins



Channel from a latrine. Latrines were good places to find dropped jewellery.
Bridge in the valley below, not so old
Although it looks to be nice weather, there was a cold wind. It would be great here in the valley below the fort on a nice day.
Haydon Bridge, no longer used by motor vehicles. Well worth a click to see it bigger.
The Anchor Hotel at Haydon Bridge where we had a coldie.
The ubiquitous Foster's, spread far and wide over England.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 17 Newcastle to Hexham

We stayed a second night at L and D's then took off for Hexham in our own car. I we missed the turn off to Westerhope where sister K lives. We needed to call in and collect our freshly washed clothes. I took the next turn off and eventually found my way there when we came across the Jingling Gate Hotel which I recalled driving past with K and J. Niceties with K done, back onto the A69 heading to Hexham, all on our own. Yes!!!

At this point, I did not know what the A69 speed limit was, so I just travelled at 60mph. I was a bit nervous heading into Hexham with the odd, to us, roundabouts. The traffic gets very busy there at times, but no problem encountered.

After settling in, we walked to the village shops, had some lunch and visited the very beautiful and impressive Hexham Abbey. Via Tescos for our liquid needs, well food as well, back to the caravan for dinner.

R cooked some quite expensive lamb shops that we bought at Tescos. They were British lamb and they were sublime. I suspect the animals had been grain fed as the texture of the meat was quite different to back home. Can you grain feed sheep? We had lamb chops once more during our stay and they were much more like we have. Bags of mixed salad are not what we normally buy, but in this case, they were very appropriate.

A bit of tv and then bed. R decided it would be better to pull the mattress off the short bed and sleep on the lounge room floor, so he did.

Exterior of Hexham Abbey but not really its best angle.
The best I could do of the interior.

World Ute Day

I think I heard on the radio that today was World Ute Day. I like nothing better than a big fat ute, so happy World Ute Day.


Pictured filched from caradvice.com.au
But there are other celebrations happening up north, like much much Popery going on in Sydney. I have emailed my shallow Sydney friend and told him I will give $50 if he can get a proven Catholic visitor to Sydney for World Youth Day on web cam jerking off. Bet he will go for a Brazilian, well, a guy from Brazil.

I also heard today that the Pope Ratzinger sometimes prays alone. Well I ask you, what is the point of praying if there is no one around to see or hear you?

Victor has a couple of nice related pics of Sydney Popery here and here.

Wicked

We didn't go to see the musical Wicked last night, but my sis in law, nephew, his girlfriend and my niece did. The younger niece did not go and at fifteen she did not really need babysitting but we did.

We all met for dinner at a new place to me, Red Silks Chinese restaurant in Bourke Street. It was excellent. We sat out on a large heated terrace just one level above Bourke Street and had a fine meal with excellent service and pretty good prices. Huge menu. Sis in law had webs from ducks feet and as I was late and they ordered for me, I was told I was getting pig's intestines for my main course. Fortunately not. It was on the menu and I was scared for a time.

Those going to the show departed and we lingered a bit to finish off the wine, caught a tram down Bourke Street, another down Elizabeth Street, walked the Elizabeth Street subway and then crossed the river on a footbridge to be at Southbank.

We took my niece up in Eureka tower to the viewing floor, we had a two for one voucher to help defray the cost, and then into the box that extends out of the building. It was surprisingly busy for nine on a weeknight.

We then caught the bus home to await the arrival of the show mob to collect my niece. I am tired today.

While going up in Eureka tower is good, I would not say that going out in the box is worth the money. You don't see anymore really, the only extra being the thrill of standing on clear glass floor with silly slip overs on your shoes.

You may see something in this picture if you click it to make it bigger.

Day 16, Newcastle

We had planned for L and D to take us to see some sights of Newcastle but another bro in law of R's was arriving at 12 to take us to collect our hire car and then sister M had to view our house at 3pm that she was interested in buying. So apart from our trip to the car hire place in Wallsend in R's bro in law's Mercedes, it was a pretty quiet day and I got rather bored sitting around.

D did take us out in the morning for an hour, looking at old areas where he grew up and also where R grew up. D, as is R, from Scotswood, mostly pronounced Scotchwood and D is very proud of his Scotswood working class history.

The area where R grew up is now all parkland awaiting rebuilding. The old houses were all demolished and rather than leaving the land as bomb sites, it was turned into temporary parkland and maintained as such until redevelopment starts. Many of the empty streets are blocked off with huge boulders to stop joyriders. There are many streets with houses boarded up and awaiting demolition and they aren't bad houses really. So I was kind of sad that where R lived has now vanished. His school is still there though and many other buildings.

Scotswood Road, which runs along the banks of the Tyne, is now a big multi laned road with very little along it but grassy banks. It used to be lined on one side by warehouses and businesses to do with shipping and on the other side, by pubs. No doubt there was a tram that ran along it. The now turned into a bike path old railway line has long gone but there are plenty of remnants.

Our modest little Ford Fiesta. The car hire man thought Aussies only drove automatics and among his stock, he did happen to have one auto. I did not mention that I am an experienced double de-clutcher. Make of that what you will Brian.
A creek or drain in Hexham. Whichever, it is pretty.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 15, Hexham to Newcastle

After breakfast R and I took off on our own for a Sunday morning walk but caught by J's niece, husband and daughter and we felt obliged to walk with them. We walked along the river a bit and managed to lose them when they came to some play equipment. We walked back through the town and to the caravan.

We all then went to the local car boot sale which was quite a big market by our standards. Of course goods aren't sold from car boots, but stalls as we know them at our markets.

Some lunch at the Station Hotel, $10 for a very nice roast lamb meal. Sunday lunch seems to be something of a tradition in England, or dinner as they call it.

We packed up and back to Newcastle and we were dropped back at L and Ds where we caught up on what had happened in our absence and we spent the night there. I finally got to have a decent check of email and sort things out.


Rotunda in Hexham Park. As per usual, I chopped the top of a building or statue. Must be the camera's fault.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Traveller's Internet

Singapore was a disaster. We paid a couple of dollars to use the computer and internet at our hotel and it was so slow, it was almost unusable. It is not what I expected in Singapore. I complained at the hotel desk, only to be brushed off with that it was that is was the company who maintains the systems problem. In fifteen minutes, I did manage to check some home email.

As mentioned, London internet was fine in the Arab area of Edgware Road.

I tried at the library at Hexham, but it was closing time on the Saturday. It was suggested to try the hotel up the street that had been advertising internet access. After some misunderstanding, I realised it was wireless access only for a laptop. The price was ridiculously high anyway.

R's sister L and bro in law D had both a desk top and a lap top and I did spend a bit of time on them, but they were a bit slow. Maybe I am spoilt with cable. The worst part is, they would not leave them on and it took both units about ten minutes to start up. I blame the evil bloatware Norton.

I had a second try at the Hexham library, but it was closed on this particular weekday. A third try was more productive with a card issued and a payment of a pound for each time we used it.

Where were all the net cafes? Well, there was one in Little India in Singapore that we used at a very cheap price. But that and the London one were the only ones I saw throughout the whole holiday.

I did come across plenty of wireless internet access points and I don't think I would ever travel again overseas without a wireless lap top, if only for Google Maps, but heaps of other reasons too. It would be fair to say that my life is very dependant on the internet.

Day 14, Hexham

Bacon and eggs for breakfast again, yum. Many grams are going onto the bod.

Although it took as long to drive and park as it would have to walk, we did drive into the village proper. We parked in a carpark and walked through the Moot Hall arch to the shops. It was a market Saturday and the village was buzzing. I needed to unload the camera card onto cd and there was a self service machine in a supermarket. I put my pound in and it started processing and then crashed and windows restarted. I could have complained but forget the pound. J took us to a photo shop. It took about two hours to make a cd and a back up, and then second disks had to made as we were just five photos over one cd. That done and a look around the shops, we adjourned for our first English fish and chips at kind of a chain operation but not a chain per se. Too much food.

Back to the caravan for a relax and after dinner, we visited J's niece who, with her husband and daughter, also have a weekend caravan. They were very hospitable and the drinks flowed as usual. The husband is about 30, and can I just mention, he was to die for. Incredibly handsome with a deep voice that just melted my.......well not heart, but something. I managed to get my arm around him for one of the photo shoot. I listened with adoration while he went on about his various medical problems. He was quite painful actually, but he could afford to be a bit of a bore. Ah, drunk again, what a surprise. Will sleep well at least.

The Hexham market area on a quiet weekday. Unlike our markets, they have refrigeration and sell meat, fish etc.
The gates to Hexham Park.
The main shopping street, a mall, in Hexham.

Day 13, Newcastle to Hexham

We arrived back in Newcastle at about nine in the morning after our swaying overnight trip. We went back to the hothouse, aka K & J's flat. They had both taken a weeks leave for our visit but K was immediately assailed by residents and staff with issues. We had planned to journey to K & J's caravan at Hexham in the late afternoon, but a snap decision was made by K, we pack and leave now and avoid any more work bother.

The caravan was to be my and and R's base while we were in Newcastle, but we had yet to see it. It turned out to be our sanity refuge. We had travelled so much, met so many people, partied, seen so many things, we just needed some time on our own to smell the roses. But it was not to be quite yet, as K & J were staying with us at the caravan until the Sunday night and today was Friday.

Hexham is a very old market and administrative town on the Tyne River about thirty minutes drive from Newcastle along the A69 to Carlisle. My first view of it from the bridge as we crossed the Tyne blew me away. Rising on the hill in front of us was everything you expected an English village to be.

It is the only Tory area in the north of England I believe, which means there is money there, and it showed. But don't think it is all old and quaint. It has all modern services, good sporting facilities, an industrial park and a huge particle board factory belching steam out of its stacks.

Being Friday, other weekend caravaners started to arrive and everybody knew everybody and while the was some bitching behind backs, never to anyone's face. The caravans are not exactly that. They only have tiny wheels for manoeuvring into position and are similar to our caravan park on site cabins, although a bit smaller.

The park closes for the winter for two reasons, one being the weather and the other for residents to avoid the poll tax. The vans are privately owned and a site fee is charged. There is mains water and sewerage, but gas is by bottle.

K & Js is a two bedroom, 30 feet long by 10 feet wide and with its own bathroom. The second bedroom is more for kids as the beds are very short, but that was ours for the duration. Finally we would not be packing and unpacking our suitcases. When we were away from the van, a back pack was adequate.

J took us for a walk to Tescos to get supplies for dinner. We were very impressed with Tescos and its range of goods for sale. Think a supermarket and Big W combined. I can see why local shops for local people would be worried about one opening in their area. There was plenty of Australian wine available, often with specials two bottles for a much reduced price. The first night we stuck to what we knew, Aussie wine. And it was priced about the same as what we would pay here in Oz. Later we discovered Tesco's prize offering, Ogio, an Italian wine, both whites and reds excellent. It was so popular, the store could not keep up the supply.

As they say in the area, that evening we just 'chilled'. We slept well, although woken in the morning by birds running across the roof, a not unpleasant sound.

The road bridge into Hexham over the wide and fast flowing Tyne River.
Our sanity refuge caravan
Ok, it is a bit frilly for us, but very comfortable

Whick bank would you trust?

Banks are serious and stern places. They need to inspire confidence. Below are a few banks to be found around the world. A couple of them are in financial trouble. Can you pick which banks by their names that would not inspire confidence and could be in trouble? Weird!

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Thai Farmers Bank

Royal Bank of Scotland

Industrial and Commercial Bank of Vietnam

Bank of Hong Kong

Bank of America

Barclays Bank

Fannie Mae

Freddie Mac

1st Birthday

It was Little Jo's first birthday. The park plans fell apart when the weather was deemed to be a bit brisk. Now who would have enough space to host a kids party for about twenty five people? More an adults party as there were only two babies.

Yes, our place. It was a lot of hard work, even though my sister did the food. Most of my day off on Monday was spent cleaning sticky finger marks off windows, mirrors and furniture. Jo can now walk when pushing her dolls pram, so it will only be days before she walks on her own.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Maggie's Poll Tax

Unlike here in Australian where the property owner pays the council rates, in England, the resident pays the rates, be you an owner or a tenant. Without taking the overall tax system into account, like the 17% VAT, or for us GST, the council rates seem extraordinarily high.

Maggie's poll tax is no longer called that, but something similar to our council rates. From vague memory, perhaps well over $3,000 a year. I think they all pay monthly.

The council services in some areas are excellent, but in others poor. Letting public gardens to go their natural state is a good excuse for not maintaining areas. I would guess that Newcastle, being a Labour town and always has been, has a very over bloated city beaurocracy? with a strong arts focus. Sounds a bit like my beloved City of Port Phillip.

Day 12 Amsterdam

Now think about this. For two people for a cost of $250, a cruise from Newcastle to Amsterdam which includes a cabin for two, coach transport from the port to the centre of Amsterdam and back, then another night on the ferry to return to Newcastle and that includes on board entertainment, shows etc. Pretty cheap hey. Well, we saw ads the day we left the UK where they had dropped the price to $220 and thrown in breakfast which is worth $20 each.

But where they make their money is from their captive diners and drinkers. $8 for a glass of wine. Evening meal, $40. A plunger of coffee for two cups, $10.

We had pre paid for our dinner and it was an excellent spread. The same for breakfast, again fantastic food. But we were blowed if we were going to pay $40 for dinner on the return trip.

The first night we had a late dinner and then watched a few shows and performances. We were out aft looking at the sky at about 10.30 pm and we could still see traces of the sun. Our cabin was ok although the drain in the shower was very slow which was to become a problem on our return journey when the waves were bigger and the water sloshed back and forth across the whole bathroom floor. The water managed to find a horrid ball of black hair and at one point it was chasing my feet across the bathroom floor. I had no option but to pick it up and flush it. Believe me, there was a lot of paper towel between my fingers and the hair.

R hauled himself onto the top bunk that night, but then could not get down in the morning. He had to wake me to get the steps and prop them up. We heard later that this is not unusual.

We docked at the port of IJmuiden (sic) about 9am and after a bit of a coach drive, we found ourselves opposite Central Railway Station on the corner of Damrak, the main tourist street. We walked along a bit until we saw some canal boats offering a very reasonably priced canal tour. The trip was excellent although we did get a shower of rain.

Amsterdam property rates are charged on the width of a propertie's frontage, or they used to be, so houses are built as narrowly as possible. This means they also have very narrow steep staircases, which make it impossible to move furniture in and out in the conventional manner. Many of apartment blocks have a large metal hook at the top. To move furniture, a window is taken out and the furniture hoisted in or out via the window.

Some of the houses and apartment blocks are very very old, like hundreds of years old. Their foundations sit in a wet syrup and so many of them are on a lean. Leaning blocks lean on dead vertical blocks who in turn hold them up. Do they ever fall down? I have no idea. I would guess that they are carefully monitored.

After the residential and commercial canals and houseboats, we were taken out onto the harbour and we saw some large significant buildings from the water.

Back on land, we wandered along Damrak and had some lunch, looked at shops, wandered along a back street. I sat for a bit watching the many trams carting their loads along. I recognised a Combino tram, similar to what is in Melbourne, except it only had controls at one end.

There are huge works happened off Damrak behind a fenced area. The trams could go in the fenced area but to stop cyclists, there were gates for the trams to enter. While the electric gates were reasonably quick, most of the tram drivers were a bit quicker and pushed the gates out of the way with the fronts of their trams. Every tram had marks on the front apron from this gate pushing business.

We were warned in advance to be careful of cyclists because many of them are stoned when riding their bicycles and consequently don't notice anything in their paths. It is not usual for them to end up in a canal. There are even a couple of cars each week run into a canal, in spite of barriers.

J had some local knowledge and we walked along a street to another street with a canal running down the middle of it. I think it is called Oudezijds Voorburgwal and it is the start of the red light district. We did see a couple of women in the windows of their premises, but I expect it is much busier at night. We walked back along a narrow street and look, a coffee shop. We went in and ordered cold drinks from the front of the menu, and someone's sister in law ordered a couple of splifs from the back of the menu to take back to England. We wouldn't dare try get something through customs like that here, but evidently it is quite common for English people to take 'stuff' back to England.

More looking in shops and watching the street life and then to the coach pick up point. We could have also done the included coach tour of the sights, including Ann Frank's house, but I was over ruled on that one. Shops are boring.

We had stocked up with booze and food and got together in one cabin for food and drinks. It was a fairly early night. The sea was much rougher and it was a side to side sway as you walked. This did not worry me until I was back on land.

I found Amsterdam interesting but not as appealing as London or Paris. Maybe it is an acquired taste. Of course we hardly saw anything in just a few hours and the skies were grey with a couple of showers of rain. I had a mental picture of Amsterdam, and unlike London or Paris, it really was nothing like I imagined.

Bicycles are everywhere, thousands of them, often hanging almost down into the canals.
Some houseboats are legal, some illegal, some are floating junk but this one was quite neat and nice.
This house has quite an appealing look
Hundreds of thousands of bicycles.
Evidently a replica of a restaurant in Hong Kong harbour. It was pretty big.
The canal in the red light district. You want photos of a girl in a window, you pay, or someone will be out to smash your camera.
Tram at the gate to the works area on Damrak. The very grand Central Station is in the distance.




Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 11 To Amsterdam

We had a not so rushed start at K & J's flat. They took us for a drive to a nice peaceful area along the Tyne River called Newburn. We took a walk along the river and watch some kiddies canoeing or kyaking. As kids do, one ended up the drink. There was a nice looking pub nearby so we stopped and had coffee.

We headed back towards Newcastle and stopped at the cemetery in the West Road where R's brother, who suicided in 1986, is buried. R's parents who both died in the 1990s also had their ashes scattered on a lawn nearby within the cemetery. You want to know why R's bros suicided? I usually want the juicy bits. While he was happily married?, he also very occasionally had sex with men, including being seduced by R's ex when they visited the UK in the mid 1970s. 1986 was perhaps the height of AIDS hysteria and because he was not on the scene at all, his knowledge of HIV was very limited. He thought that because he had had sex with men, he automatically had AIDS. While R was never his father's golden haired boy, this brother was. We think the pressure of both just got too much for him.

Well, that was all very jolly.

We visted J's sister who was at work in a post office and then a mate of J's who was at his home. This bloke was married but is now single. His house is so stunningly decorated and immaculately clean, I can out guess that his wife found out about his sexuality and bolted. He had a great raised gold fish pond in his back yard too. We were hungry and eyeing the larger of the gold fish.

God, we are surrounded by pooftahs.

Back to K and J's flat to pack as we were sailing at 6pm. We headed off in the car about 4pm for a 6pm sailing from North Shields. Finding the car park was hard. Boarding was reasonable straight forward and I will write about the ferry trip separately.

Pub garden at Newburn.
The Newcastle Crematorium Entrance
The King of Scandinavia, our ferry from Newcastle to the Holland port of Ijmuiden.


We started the day with a visit to

Day 10 Newcastle

That's the thing about drinking too much scotch. You pass out early and wake early and feel reasonable fresh. D was up too, tidying up and restoring the garden to its neatness after the kiddie assault. Those who saw the dawn, surfaced about 9.30. Next morning, I did vaguely recall insisting on bacon and eggs for breakfast the night before, in a joking way, but I got them. Actually it was one of many bacon and egg breakfasts.

After everyone apologised for their behaviour the night before, we were collected by K and J and taken to their flat. She is the manager of a sheltered care place for the elderly. They all have their own flats and K just smooths out their day for them and also organises activities. England is way ahead of us for care of the aged. It is a big industry there. K and J's flat is three bedroom and is on the premises and quite nice, except for the heat. While the radiators were off, there is a constant flow of hot water through the pipes and it was boiling hot. They have two vertical fans that they put in front of open windows to blow cool air in.

Late afternoon, they took us for a drive along the coast. We saw places where R used to holiday as a kid, Cullercoats, Whitley Bay and we turned back towards Newcastle when we reached St Mary's Lighthouse, a lighthouse accessible only at low tide.

We bought some takeaway Chinese for our evening meal. Now this is funny to us Australians. You get chips with your take away Chinese/Indian/Lebanese. Everything comes with chips.

For one of the few times, we went to bed at a reasonable hour. R was burnt out, physically and emotionally from the night before.

Tomorrow, we are off to Amsterdam.

St Mary's Lighthouse

Foreign Accents

Well, they were foreign to me. I really got fed up with the English accents for no other reason than that towards the end of the holiday, they started to grate on my nerves. Of course, like Australia, there is no one English accent, however, theirs are much more varied.

For us Aussies, the Geordie accent is not unlike Scottish. In fact they use some Scottish words, such as bairn for baby or young child. They also say tab for cigarette. "Tab mate" means a request for a cigarette or if a rising inflexion is used, it could be an offer of a tab.

Geordie does have at least one wonderful word and I am not sure how it is spelt but I would spell it hoy. It is a multi purpose word. You can hoy something away (in the cupboard perhaps). You can hoy something out, put it in the rubbish bin. I think you may even be able to hoy off home. You can certainly hoy a boy/girl friend.

And when you meet someone, it is not necessary to say to say hello, how are you. You pre-empt that by just saying 'orright', as you shake their hands or give them a peck.

While listening to the car wireless when driving to Blackpool, I became quite excited when their was discussion on the Beeb about internet domain names, because there was an Australian being interviewed. Although an obviously educated Australian, it did give me a thrill to hear him speak.

Blackpool was the only place where a thick English accent beat me. He was a young bartender and I ordered meals. After the fourth time trying to understand him, I just gave up and went back to the table and sent R, who did not do much better. I mentioned this to a couple of people and they just muttered something about Lancashire.

Well you English folk, as much as our accent may grate on you, at least you can understand us.......mostly.

So Bwca, does Pants have an English accent or a Queensland one?