Category Archives: Uncategorized

Goodbye TravelPod – Thanks for the memories

For over the years I used TravelPod to write blog posts while travelling and in all that time I had 6000 page views which certainly won’t give TripAdvisor sleepless nights.  The site also informs me that during the period I travelled 104,156 km or 2.6 times around the earth, all of them wonderful trips.

TravelPod was a free travel blogging platform that was easy to use but lacked a compelling reason to exist. I fear it was killed by Facebook and Instagram where people were content to upload a snap and fifteen words and call it a day.

I miss the long-form content it allowed its authors to create and so I am in the process of migrating all of my old travel blogs to this site which is a painless if lengthy process.

You can see a couple of example here

Morocco

Laos

If you are interested you’ll find them tagged travel and I’ve even recovered the images so thank you TravelPod for being a responsible,decent company and letting me restore my memories.

Future travel stories will be posted here and may or may not contain young Japanese women dressed as school girls or swimming with a wild dog in Thailand.

That’s the great thing about travel, you never know

Sanctimonious, Self-righteous, Groupthink

sheepI’ve noticed on Facebook in particular and to a lesser extent on Twitter a tendency towards a hideous self-righteousness that is driving me crazy. My town of Lymington has a Facebook page called Lymington Rumour Control that is supposed to be a lighthearted watercooler (or village pump if you go back that far). The plan was that local people could gossip about local events in a lighthearted manner, share a joke and generally get along with each other.

However, in the past year a hideous form of groupthink has arisen whereby you must agree to the following tropes or be denounced and verbally shat on by the scores of mouth-breathers who inhabit the site

  • Our local community hospital can do no wrong
  • All local shops and business are exemplary and must be supported even if they are feckless rip-off merchants
  • The armed forces are saints
  • Fireworks emanate from Satan’s darkest nether regions and should be banned as they scare dogs, cats and most importantly horses
  • You are a Nazi sympathiser if you don’t wear a poppy for Rememberance Day
  • Cyclists and gypsies should be banned from the New Forest
  • …and the list goes on

What I particularly dislike is self-righteousness of these opinions. Who would want an animal to suffer ? therefore no fireworks for anyone. If we don’t support local businesses we will end up with 23 branches of McDonalds in the High Street.  It is so thoughtlessly binary; A or B, if you criticise the hospital you de facto want to destroy the NHS. There is no debate or nuanced discussion; just for it or if not for, against.

Our local hardware shop Knights closed and people rung their hands in nostalgic outrage. The fact that the owners plan to sell the land to a property developer to build retirement homes is conveniently overlooked. The news was greeted with the same degree of shock as if the National Anthem had been replaced with Gangnam Style and Winston Churchill was gay. Now we have Screwfix, a national chain, that are open longer hours, seven days a week and are, as a result a great deal more convenient. But God forbid you should mention the fact as you’ll be denounced as some disloyal, bourgeois interloper who’s only aim in life is to destroy our precious High Street which as it happens is filled with charity shops and coffee bars.

So my message to the pseudo-outraged of Facebook is calm down and get some perspective or as they say so eloquently in the United States. Take a chill pill.

 

 

Ferry Tales – a long photographic commission

13310430_224797594571059_7035204963894275067_nA good friend and poet, Robyn Bolam asked me to join a project called Ferry Tales which is a group of poets, musicians, writers and a photographer (me) in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight who are running events, exhibitions and workshops for local people on the theme of arrivals and departures in their lives.

The plan is that I take photographs which acts as stimulus for the poets and musicians and we run a series of workshops and exhibitions from now until 2017 in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight showcasing the work.

You can follow us on Facebook at ferrytalesproject and please like/follow us. I’ll be growing the body of photographs as the year progresses but here are a few to get you started including a girl on her way to the Isle of wight Festival.

Our web site is at http://www.ferrytales.org

13260114_225496297834522_5702937191766659983_n

13418533_232695477114604_1940714637605870534_o

13317033_225496301167855_6613705383424063913_o

What the bleeping hell is wrong with kitchen appliances

microwaveI’ve been thinking about the way modern kitchen appliances have gone mad. I mean seriously mad.

In the old days, like three years ago, you bought a washing machine or an oven and it just did its job. No alerting, no insane bleeping, it just did what you asked of it.

Fast forward a few years and the average kitchen device has become a health and safety Nazi. If I get too close to my oven it bleeps so that I don’t charbroil my genitals. My gas hob won’t start unless I sign a consent form and our washing machine ends its cycle with a cacophony of bleeps and chimes that go on longer than Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

My only friend in the kitchen is a fifteen year old microwave that just does what it originally promised.It heats food by the use of a simple timer. It doesn’t weigh the food or calculate the cooking time based on orbit of Mars, it just heats stuff. Given it’s age it probably irriatiates my genitals but that’s a risk I’m happy to take.

So now I’ve decided that I will keep every kitchen appliance until it explodes or simply gives up because the new ones are wonderfully sophisticated, but totally useless.

Black & Decker: Industrial design in the hands of five year old

Black-Decker-Screwdriver-1024x1024If you asked an alien to design a sex toy or five year old to design a spacecraft, you’d end up with a similar design.

Luckily for Black & Decker this creates a host of new ideas for their latest crop of insane home ‘improvement’ gadgets. Not only do these products looks like the bastard love child of Anne Summers and the Transformer they are also about as easy to use as a Rubic’s Cube on a unicycle.

BD jaws

This little beauty is some sort of cutting devise but surely the five year old in charge thought it should looks like a character from Nemo .

It matters not, as the life cycle of these products is the same as a Mayfly, and each insane model will be replaced by something equally bonkers in three months .

My advice is, if you think you are Luke Skywalker and are 5 years old; buy Black & Decker. If not, don’t and enjoy life as a grownup.

 

 

Why hospitals are becoming like airports

ronaldI was recently visiting someone at Southampton General and it struck me that your average teaching hospital and small regional airport are becoming almost identical in terms of visitor attractions. As you walk through the main arrivals ‘lounge’ you bump into Costa Coffee, WH Smiths and most bizarrely of all Burger King. Nothing says ‘Hope you get over your bypass Dad’ like a quarter pounder with cheese.

So it got me thinking about why should a modern hospital be catering to the same behavioral mindset as an airport? The first reason is that the public, whether holiday makers of hospital visitors will eat gummy bears, slurp Venti Grande lattes and gobble burgers at anytime of the day or night irrespective of context.

“I hope Gran recovers from her stroke”

“Don’t worry son have a caramel frappucino”

“Dad, what is a prolapsed rectum?”

“I’ll tell you later son, when you’ve finished your burger”

“What is a colostomy bag Mum?”

“Do you want another Capri Sun, Tracy”

The second reason is because both hospitals and airports need to take your mind off the reality of what is happening behind the scenes. None of us really want to dwell on the dangers of air travel or hospital surgery so if we can hop ourselves up on sugar, fat and e-numbers we can fool our brains that everything will be alright.

What I particularly loved on my visit was trying to actually get some fresh fruit. Naturally you couldn’t buy any fruit in its natural state so the nearest I could find was a fairly disgusting fruit pot from Costa which I could then pick the bits out that looked half way reasonable.

So the next time you’re looking for a holiday experience without the need to book an expensive flight try your local hospital.