Saturday, August 02, 2008

UK Summary

I saved these clips for when I wrote my UK summary. What I forgot to do was to save info to cite the authorship. Never mind. I found the clip below somewhere. The article said more, but what essentially the writer was talking about, was that in Thatcher's time, although her period as PM had ended in 1990, the media was very compliant with not reporting trouble. Interesting.

About the same time, extensive trouble on a Luton estate, 35 miles north of London, wasn't even mentioned until it had been quelled 5 days later. And so on. Of course, Newcastle in September '91 was so dramatic and big that everyone knew about it and the media gave up on its familiar blanking.

Now this one below is something many white working class people and not so working class I expect, would agree with. It sums up to me what many people told me. Their vitriol presently is towards to the Kosovans. They seem to have adjusted to having West Indians and those from the sub continent as neighbours and part of their lives. Not that there is a lot of co-mingling. But you have to be there to hear the way they spit out the word Kosovan. They have the privilege of seeing our own tv programme, the always very drawn out Border Security. Why can't England be like Australia, they say? Why can't we just stop people from coming in? It would seem, as explained to me, that refugees should request asylum in the first (western? euro?) country they get to. Instead countries like Germany, Italy, Netherlands etc push them on towards England by being very slack at immigration points. England is the refugee's ultimate destination where they know they will be treated softly.

What really disturbed me quite a lot was how critical English people were of their country. Gone to the dogs, was a great country, has so much potential if not for...., its ****ed. Quite sad really, because I saw it as being pretty marvellous. I suppose in some way we are not so different. We are all critical of our country, but we perhaps say, with the confidence that we know it is a very desirable place for many people, Australia would be better with just a bit of tinkering. Or Australia would be ok if we had decent politicians. Actually, perhaps we are not so different to to the English. It was very clear to me that that our antecedents are English and that while American culture is omnipresent here, English culture is strong here, except it is not as in you face as American culture is. It is just what we have grown up with. Maybe it will be different in the future.

As I always seem to get myself into trouble when talking about race and have lost blog mates, I will add the disclaimer that I am not expressing a view on the pasted in texts. But from many I spoke to in four areas of England, one a very middle class person (in the old sense of middle class), I think they would endorse the writing below.

Come on Brian, you would have some sympathy toward the view below, from the comfort of Hughes Castle in the monocultural town of Fleetwood. Dangerous area perhaps. What about you Pants, who is surely at least an honorary English person.

There is, of course, nothing that can be done now. England has become a multicultural society, though no large number of English people ever wanted it to be. Through the folly, arrogance and sentimentality of their well-insulated ruling class, and by their own inattention, deference, disorganization and reluctance to appear unkind, the English have given up large tracts of their country to foreign peoples, whom they dislike and who dislike them right back. The English have created their very own race problem from scratch — possibly the greatest act of self-destructive folly perpetrated by any civilized nation in the twentieth century.

And here is the news.

It is with some joy that when I open the electric newspapers in the morning, I see headlines like these. This day was particularly good. Beheadings, naked footballers, coloureds, Libs in a mess, a PM with dodgy genes. Bliss.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Newsletter

R and I are busy producing the building's newsletter. There is summer edition and a winter one, but this one will be late as we were away. As much as I would like to make it a list of rules and penalties, we recognise that it needs to embrace all residents, foreign born, owner or renter, mob of students, or quiet old person and should be more than a list of rules and regulations.

Although Asian residents, including Indians and Sri Lankans, make up half the population of the building, they are not forward in participating in building matters. Positive things have been put in place to encourage, but to no avail.

I found this a bit interesting and thought it would go down quite well in the newsletter. I can assure you, it goes before a proof reader before being published and it it is still quite raw anyway. I don't think this is the picture that I took will be used. I have better ones.

Did you know that we have the oldest continuously operating Buddhist temple in Australia just a fifteen minute walk from xxx. The See Yup Temple is at 76 Raglan Street, South Melbourne and was built in 1866, making it one hundred and forty two years old! George Wharton designed the temple in the Classical Revival style with Oriental influences. Contained within the temple are over 13,000 tablets to commemorate members of the See Yup Society who have died throughout Victoria. See Yup means Four Towns of Canton. It is open every day of the year; worshipers and visitors alike are welcome.

The Homeless Homeless

For some years a bearded chap lived in a hut on the bank above Queens Way, or St Kilda Junction underpass as it sometimes known, or even Dandenong Road. The hut was barely high enough to stand in and was perhaps four metres square. He had a brazier for heating, but there would not have been any running water and certainly no electricity. How he ever put up with the noise of the traffic, especially trucks, I don't know.

I was going to post about it a while ago, but as the location is so identifiable, I decided not to. Doesn't matter now. It was quite hard to notice from the road, or even a tram.

He was still there before we went away in June, but upon our return, a fence has been erected that would have straight through his hut. The hut is gone. I wonder where he went?

Not too many people live in huts nowadays. I recall a couple in the country near where we lived when I was young. They tended to be scary types, probably made grumpy by kids harassing them. Of course during the depression of the nineteen thirties, many, many men lived in huts. Perhaps some women did too.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Bank Chiefs

I kind of lent a friend money. My friend was very decent and respectable. He lent the money to another friend, who was also decent and respectable but lived a long way away.

This extended friend lent money to someone who was not very respectable. This non respectable distant friend lent the money to people who could not pay it back.

So my extended friend could not pay back my friend, and my friend could not pay me back.

Instead of giving my friend a hard time for not paying me back, I will just give him a heap of money to get out of my face, as he has proved himself to be an unworthy friend. But I should really ask him for the money back and some extra for my trouble. My friend should have kept tabs on where, what was actually my money, was going.

But I also feel sorry for the people who the non respectable person lent money too. They suffer too, somewhat more than me. They are poor and ended up to be a victim of circumstances.

Worry about it later

Before we went away, we kept saying, 'we will worry about that when we get home'. The list grew long, but some matters have been addressed. I did finally wash the skirting boards of their build up. But a few medical matters were pending.

I made a dental appointment at a dentist in Richmond for 9.30. Not so keen on the hour. Perhaps I could get into R's dentist, nearby in Albert Road. No problems and at the civilised hour of 12.30. R's dentist used to be Dr Alan Aylett of football fame, but he has retired and the practice has been invigorated. I was asked how long since my last dentist visit, and I said five years. I think really it has been about eight years. Inflamed gums, the dentist said. Floss more often. Ok, I am slack on that. But otherwise, teeth are fine. I was a bit surprised. They are lovely and clean now, and I won't go back at their suggested six month period. Probably a bit over twelve months.

I made an appointment for an eye test. My mother has just undergone surgery on her eyes. To my surprise, nothing wrong with my eyes, except that I can't read or see the computer screen without glasses. I explained my two pairs of $2 shop glasses, one for the pc screen and the other for reading, and my put on take off and then loose, and having specs spread all over the apartment, and always having the wrong pair for reading or pc, said glasses way of seeing, and they said fine. If it works for me, no high pressure for OPSM specs.

Then there is the cholesterol test that I am supposed to go for. My doctor got sick of me cancelling because I was not up to fasting and gave me a referral to big diagnostic place. But watching my diet, eating tinned fish for lunch, taking fish oil capsules and sprinkling phsyillium? husks on my cereal must help. I am expecting an ok result. If it is bad, I will blame overseas travelling where I was not so disciplined.

Last night we took a swim, spa and sauna. Today I walked in the city, including the length of Exhibition Street, and walked from home to the Arts Centre and then from there to the Casino. Why do I feel so old and unfit?

Sex on holidays Mild XXX

Apart from the already mentioned guy in Singapore and our visit to a gay bar in Blackpool, I felt pretty well sexually dead while overseas. The latter part of our holiday was mostly spent in with R's family in northern England. I had to be on my best behaviour, so I just drank a lot instead. Fitted in with the locals very well did I.

Now that I am past the age of thirty, and even here in Australia, I have realised that a glance in the direction of someone cute no longer works.

There was a hot guy on the tram today when I went to the shops. I was watching him. Lo and behold, coming back from the shops, he boarded my tram at the Alfred Hospital and winked at me. He looked terribly straight and I then realised it was just an involuntary tic........I think.

It could be a hard thing for someone who perhaps used to validate themselves by how many guys they could pick up with just a look, but I am realistic. If I was less than 35, I probably wouldn't be interested in me, unless I knew how good I was at the business!

What I really wish is that I could work out where my desires lie. Do I like a skinny young Asian guys? Do I like a black thug African American guys? Do I like an older white guy who has experience or a cute pretty young white guy? Am I a top or bottom? Am I kinky or am I vanilla? If I am kinky, will people still respect me in the morning? But what about Latin guys.......drool. And thanks to Xtube, I have been forced to see some women in action. I would have never imagined it, but I find them interesting. Of course straight porn is not the real world. As I said to dear Vik in Japan once, straight porn for men is more like a gynacal, ah, gynycol, well that word, examination.

I made no effort to pursue any sex while away, although had I suggested it to R, he would have gone along with a visit to some sex on premises venue or a visit to a bar to pick up but what is the point? Guys are the same the world over. I rarely chase at home, why would I go to the effort overseas. I would rather have a drink, half watch tele and read.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday Balance Sheet

R has been giving a bloke a lift to work over the last few months. The guy has resigned and so R gave him a lift for the last time. R moans sometimes about having to pick him up and sometimes drop him off at the end of the day. The tall, handsome, gym built str8 guy showed his appreciation with a gift of a bottle of single malt scotch. $40 probably. Clearly R did not grope him. R has just gone to bed and said I can have just the one single malt, but don't drink the whole bottle!

A shower of rain had just gone through. Will we walk or take a tram. The rain had stopped and the traffic in St Kilda Road was worse than usual, so we walked. Ok, the tram beat us, but cars and buses certainly did not. A win.

Is this not a beautiful picture? It advertises the Art Deco exhibition at the National Gallery (Victoria). It is a picture of a the steam powered Southern Aurora Spirit of Progress train from Melbourne to Sydney, change trains because of the track gauge change at Albury.

While the train was steam powered, it could travel at 115kph and it was very luxurious and the first air conditioned train in Australia. Didn't I say that about the Silver Comet in Broken Hill? I am just quoting.

The exhibition was very busy, but well worth seeing. Art Deco is surely the most beautiful period of design. Cost to see the Art Deco exhibition, $22.

Dinner at Margots at Crown Casino. With work supplied card for two for one meals, price should have been $23.50 for our steaks, instead only charged $22. And she forgot to scratch off the number on the card, so we can do it again. Cost $22, value, including card, probably around $100.

A brief play on pokie machines. I won $20, R won $40.

Bus home. R's ticket would not work. Driver said don't worry about it. About $3 saved.

It was just a day when we felt we weren't behind the eight ball.

De celebs in de hood

I like the looks of many black men, and anyone who says white men compare to favourably to black men when talking about important statistics clearly has not been much around the internet.

Here is a picture of a black male found at random on the net. Very nice looking and natural.

We in Australia will be hearing and seeing a bit about his bloke, Tyson Beckford, but in spite of him being a super model, I just don't find him attractive. Of course if he said to me, hey whitie, come and wrap your lips around this, perhaps I might change my view. Your opinion? Is my taste in my ass?

Day 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 Newcastle to Melbourne, via London and Hong Kong

We did not rush our last day in Hexham, our usual leisurely stroll to the shops, clean up the caravan, pack and organise. We sadly left Hexham about 2pm and headed down the A69 for the last time to L and Ds. At four we walked a street away to a party being held for us at R's sister M's son and wife's house. Lovely place and backed onto a park. They were very hospitable to us and all the other people who arrived to say farewell, well, some we were meeting for the first time, mostly distant relatives.

There was food aplenty and then R's very glam niece, who had been at the races all day, arrived, so drunk she could hardly stand. But she lasted the night and then went out clubbing too. At one point she put roller skates on and naturally enough, fell down. Her knee was very swollen the next day, as was her head. I am not a party person, but it was really quite enjoyable. Of course the Scotch came out, and once again Highriser peaked early and staggered off down the street to L & D's to bed about 11.

Next morning, D took R and myself in the car to the cemetery where R's grandfather was buried. R remembered that he could see the headstone from the No. 1 bus as it turned a corner, so we had a pretty good idea of the location. Alas, it was not to be found. It could have fallen and or been removed, but he was only buried in the sixties.

More hanging around back at the house and off to the Fox and Hounds for a late lunch. It was ok, although one of R's nieces, not the already mentioned one, who had stayed up all night was very emotional. L & D's daughter bought ten children's meals for her three boys. Of course half wasn't eaten. What a waste. Shocking diet. This was one of L's not eating anything green days, so she ate nothing green. D had his favourite, Gamon Steak. I had one cooked for me while I was there and I couldn't see what the fuss about them is. They are ok, but nothing special.

Back to K & Js hot special accommodation house, that wasn't so bad as the weather was cooler. K and J had to work the next day, but in spite of that, K and I stayed up a bit late, 'sortin' the world'.

Next morning R and I went for a really long walk around the local area. Quite interesting. One of the staff cooked us a sausage sandwich. She was the funniest person I met in England. She greeted us in the morning with the news that she had lost her pussy. It was actually a large toy cat for an inhouse raffle. It was found in one of the resident's flats.

In the afternoon R slept while I helped K with the residents' bingo game. That evening we returned to L and D's to give the hire car to a niece who's car was going in for repairs. This was the third and final farewell. We stayed a couple of hours as people dropped by to say goodbye. Some take away dinner that night at K and J's then at 6.05 the next morning, we were at the local airport.

We flew domestic to London in a plane with most awful seats. They were vinyl and tilted forward, so you just kept sliding off them. It was an Airbus, but an older model I think.

We left Heathrow about 12 noon and we were surprised to learn that we were going home via Hong Kong. After much calculating, I worked out that it took about the same time. Meaningful to Australians, the flight number was QF30 and I expect it was the same plane which had recently had some trouble. The flight wasn't too bad, a short day, a short night and another short day. We arrived home at about 8pm and what a bother to get out of the airport. Customs!!! While I appreciate their efforts to protect Australia, there were just not enough staff. I think it was about two hours from landing before we got into a taxi and drove the streets of my beloved city and country.

A distant relative of R's shows us his stuff on the trampoline at the party.
I have always fancied having a house over a creek. Taken in Hexham.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

That was fun, not

Last Sunday we ventured to Langwarrin to see off the nephew who is going to live in Glasgow for two years, via, Bangkok, Cambodia, Laos, Bangkok, Helsinki, London. It was ok. We lasted an hour and a half and brother had lit a fire in the back yard to warm everyone. It was quite some fire and just getting going as we were leaving. More people were coming.

Weren't we lucky. We travelled on Eastlink on the first day that they started charging tolls. It is a beautiful road though. So smooth. So easy. We saw the art work, a bird eating a worm and the highrise motel and the fallen down electric pylon?

Approximate road tolls for the weekend, Citylink on Saturday night to go to the brother friends, and again on Sunday and Eastlink, $28.

I bought shares in Crown Casino in the early days and made a killing when I sold them. The profit paid for our trip to Vietnam. I hated Citylink when it was built, just as I hated the Crown Casino and still do, but I wish I had bought shares in Citylink.

Unanswered Emails

Email to R's sister L, unanswered. (Subsequently reviewed and nothing inappropriate)

Email to R's sister's husband's twin sister, unanswered. (Subsequently reviewed and nothing inappropriate)

Email to workmate who has left work, unanswered. (Subsequently reviewed and nothing inappropriate)

Email to a bloke I came across on the net who might have been able to assist in locating R's grandfathers grave in Elswick, answered, but what a grumpy and suspicious old bastard. (Subsequently reviewed and nothing inappropriate)

Email to bloke who may have had more information on Benwell Riots, unanswered (it was only via a forum).

Letter of complaint to Qantas, not answered.

Email to Metlink, not answered with anything more than a case number. (I have forgotten what it was about now though)

I have received much kindness via the net at times, and I always try hard to respond and be helpful when something is requested of me. Seems not everyone does.

R tells me that not everyone is like me and that for some it is too difficult and returning emails can be hard.


The Benwell Riots

The area that R's sister L and her husband D live in is a small private estate that was originally surrounded by government housing. It was a rough area, known as Benwell.

I have done some research on the net and come up with very little. But in 1991?, there were the Benwell riots in Newcastle. In their private house in a nice area, surrounded by a not so nice area, people rampaged through their street, smashing cars, street furniture, front windows. Riot police formed a barrier at one end of the street and repelled a further invasion. The rioters came in the other end and attacked the police. D was at work and L and whoever was with her cowered at the back of the house.

Seeing the area for myself, it is hard to believe that such a thing could happen. It is just a suburban street full of houses and people going about their business and friendly neighbourliness.

In the aftermath, council properties were sold for 50p, with provisos to improve. With a price for a house now around $200,000 plus, many made an absolute killing.

It was said that the riots in Newcastle started at North Shields? and for whatever reason, ended up in Benwell.

The cause so far as I can work out was a reaction against the deaths of youths joyriding and being pursued by police.

If anyone can add some more information, I would be most appreciative.

Tour de France

I have never watched the Tour de France, but I did on the last night it was shown here, the final day, the entry into Paris. Look, there is the Eiffel Tower, I have been there. Look, there is the Arc de Triumph. I have been there.

Everything I have heard about the Tour de France television coverage is true. The coverage is superb and the French scenery is stunning. While I don't find our Cadel at all attractive, I did find many of the cyclists hot!

Now, I will just wait for the winner to be drug tested.

Where it go man?

Remember the picture of the balloons I posted for Little Jo's 1st birthday? There were about twenty of them on our ceiling, but sister took most of them home and only left us three. Her's have long gone flat in their chilly flat, but ours have stayed up, well two of them anyway.

Last Saturday one of ours went flatish. It dropped down and then sat under the bulkhead that sits below the ceiling. Then it decided it liked our air con unit and sat in front of it for a bit. I set it off and the air currents moved it around the room and sent it drifting. I found it very amusing. I had a deprived childhood with only blow up balloons and not helium. But then its ribbon was dangling on me and tickling me. It bothered me for quite some time as I was trying to read the newspaper.

We went off to attend the building's working bee, that is painting the new bicycle area in the basement and we left the balcony door open to give the place an airing while we were downstairs. We returned to find the balloon had gone. It must have drifted out the balcony door and gone to balloon heaven.

Meanwhile, there are still two balloons hard up on the ceiling, although when I was out today and the heating was off, one dropped to sit under the bulkhead. I have put it back on the ceiling. I can't see them lasting much longer. I just looked around at them, and they are twisting a bit on the ceiling from the heating air currents. I reckon they have pretty well had it.

Its all about the little things in life.

Day 27, Alnwick to Newcastle to Hexham

I am over writing about the holiday. Not much happened on the last few days, so they will be brief. Bear with me.

Bacon and eggs for breakfast again. We headed off back to Newcastle and stopped off at a garden centre along the way to buy some fish for D's aquarium. I believe Sydney has the biggest garden centre in Australia, but Melbourne is not far behind with Garden World on Springvale Road. They have nothing on this garden centre. It was a monster.

Back in Newcastle we met up with R's sister M's ex husband's brother, who we are told is gay, but he gave nothing away. We had met him once at the Denton Hotel. D dropped the three of us in Newcastle proper and we went to the pretty marvellous Discovery Museum. From there we went to the very marvellous Laing Art Gallery. There is plenty of higher culture in Newcastle and glorious history, contrary to Brian's beliefs.

H then walked us around the shopping streets of Newcastle. Somethings R recalled but much of it had changed. This brings us to Primart.

Primart (PRYmart) was on everyone's lips. Amsterdam people come across on the ferry to shop at Primart. It is incredibly cheap, even by Australian standards. You might pay double here for a similar garment of a lesser quality. It is mostly clothing, although there are other goods. While we were in the UK, BBC's Panaroma did an expose on the the kiddies labouring in third world countries to produce items for sale in Primart.

But there were plenty of designer shops with goods with labels and at extraordinary prices.

At mid afternoon we were a bit hungry and so guided by H, we went into a pub. It was in one of the few remaining narrow cobbled streets in Newcastle. We already knew from other sources that H's mother used to manage three hotels in Newcastle, one of them gay, and we correctly guessed this was the gay one. Not a gay venue as we know it, but a place where gays go and mix it with straights. Anyway, it was a good pub and we had a nice meal.

Back to L and D's on the bus. For once I put my hand down with a firm foot and insisted that we would return to the caravan for the night. No, I will not be emotionally blackmailed. We had to go back at some point anyway, as our luggage was still there. A last night at the van was bliss.

The farm house at Whittingham, near Alnwick, where we stayed. The shed is for sheep and cows. The building to the right was some sort of mill. To the left is a garage. The house itself is the two storey building.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Declan Strikes

Once upon a time, a fair while ago, I knew a proof reader at the disappeared Herald evening newspaper. He took his job very seriously and with some pride.

I worry about my sentence construction in my blog. I worry less about spelling. If I ever back read, I notice that I sometimes leave connecting words out entirely. I do minimal checking of what I write. Quantity over quality is my niche. When I attain the exulted position of being perfect with the English language, spelling, punctuation, sentence construction and grammar, I will start criticising others. It ain't gonna happen is it?

But I do expect people who make their living from words to get it right. And perhaps there is an odd occasion when they don't and the proof reader will correct it. Obviously I am ever so old fashioned with this view.

From The Age. 'The Department of Health and Ageing spokesperson said polive would asked to investigate whether criminal charges were warranted.'

Well, I am not the spelling police and I have been known to do get the c and v key wrong, but the whole article was individual sentences served as paragraphs. Can't paragraphs have more than one sentence? I am not sure that I am so good at paragraphs, but I try a bit.

Ok, writers for newspapers are probably under extreme pressure to produce. Online news website writers probably more so. But can't at least the newspapers afford proof readers?

I am not understanding this

Fuel surcharge on air flights. Why? Of course keeping it a separate charge means it has to be paid even when using points for a flight. But really, it should be built into the cost of tickets. Fuel goes up, air fare goes up.

The same for trucks. A fuel levy charged by drivers to those who contract them. Stupid. Charge more or apply for a contract variation. Yes, we consumers will just have to pay the extra. We need to pay the REAL cost of things, including decent wages and environmental impact. Yes, the compensation will come from wages or social security benefits.

Well, if ever you want to discredit a report you have written, you could not do much better than copy and paste other peoples work into it and not even mention that it is other people's work. See Daniel's post on the Eddington Report into Melbourne's transport. (Later addition, Daniel's post was mentioned in the gossip column of The Age last Friday)

Melbourne's population has been growing steadily and now quite rapidly for more than a decade. I think too quickly, but that is my personal opinion. Why was not infrastructure increased to match the population growth? Our economy is seemingly based on an increasing population who need housing. This just cannot go on forever. Why do cities I have recently visited overseas not feel crowded when they have a much denser population? I am tired of focusing on reports only for them never to be implemented.

Local university students and overseas university students are not connecting. There is a gulf between them. See my thoughts in the comments at 'Am I Racist' at This Devil's Workday. Perfectly predictable.

Alleged corruption at the City of Port Phillip. Well, well, what a surprise. Time they were all, bar one, tossed out.

A City of Melbourne councillor locked out a bar at Crown Casino because of the 2am curfew. Haha, bet Councillor Ng supported the legislation. Given her age, she ought have been home in bed at 2am.

The older I get, the more puzzled by things I become. I put the blame squarely at those who we appoint to govern us.

Day 26 Alnwick

It took me ages to relate the place name Alnwick to what I was hearing which sounded like Yanik.

The six of us drove in two cars to Yanik, and there I saw the Alnwick sign and all became clear. It wasn't much of a day weather wise. We took a walk to the Alnwick Castle, which is pretty good as castle's go, but we had seen enough old stones and baulked at the entry price. We walked down to a pretty bridge over the River Aln. It just started to lightly rain, so we headed back to the local club for a drink. We had to stop along the way when the rain briefly pelted down. We tried not to laugh as a gust of wind caught a canvas roof in the market place and dumped a few litres of water over a poor unfortunate. We sat in the club far too long nursing a single beer but eventually we left and had a bite to eat at a cafe.

The weather was not really going to get any better, so we headed back to the farm house. Dinner was served about four thirty! But then we had a big supper later. Another evening of quizzes and assisting our 60 plus year old host with her Facebook page.

Alnwick Castle, second in size as an inhabited castle to Windsor Castle and home to the Earl of Northumberland. The no longer used for the purpose Alnwick Railway Station is very ostentatious I believe, as royalty often used the station.

Pottergate Tower, part of an old city wall.
A man put these bottles in a window over 150 years ago, and promptly died. It was said that if anyone ever tried to move them, they too would have the same fate. So there they have sat, untouched and now sealed in the window.
The lion was sculpted for a reluctant payer, and so the sculptor added the absurd tail.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What Highriser missed when overseas

God, the plumbing I experienced when travelling.

Big taps, little taps, levers, buttons, knobs, set temperature electrically controlled showers.

Toilet bowls of all shapes, some full of water, some with just water in the bottom, some that would disembowel you if you flushed while sitting on them, some operated by buttons, some by levers.

Rubber plugs, plugs on chains, metal plugs operated by knobs, levers, things you pulled, things you pushed.

But one thing bathrooms all had in common, from Singapore to London, to Newcastle, Hexham, Blackpool, Alnwick, and ferry.

They were all low pressure hand held showers. I did not have a decent shower for my whole time away. I continued to try and shower the way I normally do with shower head in the wall bracket but I had to give up at the caravan as the water pressure was just too low. It was now a case of wet myself, soap up, then rinse off. Horrible.

The worst was the farm near Alnwick. The bathroom was modern enough, but if the shower head was lifted chest height, the water went cool. If it was lifted head height, the water stopped altogether. It was a case of squatting in the bath to use the hand held shower.

The only time I felt really clean was when I had a bath at the caravan in the hip bath, it took an hour to run, and one in Blackpool in the lovely big bath.

So far as I could tell, the boilers provided instant hot water and the water for the heating radiators. There seemed to be no such thing as mains pressure hot water.

It can't be because of water shortage. The toilets all used huge amounts of water and a dual flush is rare in England, although, they tended to need only one flush, unlike ours that require multiple flushes.

The nicest thing I did when I arrived home was get straight into my own shower, with hot water gushing out the non water saving shower head. Bliss as it warmed me, washed away the grime, stress, woes and worries. My shower is my mental therapy. Next time I travel, I think I will take my own shower head, thread tape and a shifting spanner.