Thursday 28 January 2016

Positional Check-in

Here is the latest itinerary snapshot of our winter cruse, travelling south along the Mediterranean coast of Spain. The weather has been improving as we cruise south. Mainly sunshine, light winds and no rain. The temperature has been variable between 22c and 18c in the day. Falling as low as 15c at night.

Currently located at EL Verger just north of Denia. Our next point of call is Benidorm. Time scales for this adventure are very flexible. But we are aiming to be somewhere near Torrevejha by the end of the month.

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Spanish News for the English (2)

The 'Spanish News for the English' 2016 is a tongue in cheek service, in support of European Multiculturalism for English Pensionistas (pensioners) Pensionistas who are considering a different type of winter break. This time as an alternative to the more usual break of an ankle, leg or arm due to the inclement UK weather.
Today, I must share with you an interesting, if somewhat bewildering story. One which will help in understanding the inner working of Spanish mindset.  Picture the scene, we are sat in a small (stood back from the roadside) taverna. The location of which we will keep secret. For reasons that will become clearer as the story evolves. 

It's lunch time and the taverna begins to fill with what I assume are regular punters. First there was a sprinkling of local tradesmen arriving, in small groups of three or four. They were arriving in what are obviously work related vans and pick-ups. Soon there is a good gathering, the conversation is in full flow about the weekends football match involving Barcelona. The little Argentinian maestro and football legend that is Lionel Messi. Has naturally scored the winning goal. 

Soon it was not only the conversation that was in full flow. Because as the food was consumed. A great deal of the locally grown and brewed 'el vino collapso' is also in full flow - and flowing down the necks of the tradesmen. A short while later, I heard the doors of a couple of cars outside being slammed shut. Into the taverna, stroll a small group of Police. Just as I was expecting something being said about drinking and driving - Perish the thought about what might happen to someone who had consumed a few glasses of plonk and was later going to be in charge of power tools.

To my surprise the police officers wangled their way into the throng and sat at the table. Soon food for the officers appeared as if by magic. The officers tucked into the food and also made a good start on the wine. Some time later everyone was now full of good spirit and good food (it was excellent fare that was provided). When into the taverna stroll a couple of English tourists. They had stopped when they saw the police cars parked outside the taverna somehow confusing it for a police station. Who then attempt to engage in conversation with the police officers in a language (with which I am also fluent) called Spanglish. 

Soon everyone was outside looking at the back of the mobile home. It seems that the tourists had spent the night parked up on a backstreet. In a small town some distance to the north. They had set off to continue on their journey the next morning. It was only later when they had stopped for a comfort break. That they discovered there was now an extra bicycle attached to the bike carrier on the back of their motor home.

There was a lot of shrugging, gesticulating and pointing. The problem was not only the extra bike. But the bike was also securely attached to their bikes. The bike was secured with one of those padlocks with a thick heavy plastic coated wire. Intended to help prevent theft. Another police car arrives, this time the officer can speak very good English. After a conversation with the English couple, he calls over one of the workmen.  The workman goes to his van and returns with a pair of bolt cutters. Snip! and the wire is cut. 

The English couple seem to be much happier with the outcome. Everyone goes back inside the taverna. The English couple remarked on the police officers command of English. He says with a cheerful grin 'it's a gift!' now the couple asked him what they should do about the extra bicycle. The officers says with a shrug and a smile 'it's a gift!'

Some time later, the tradesmen and the police officers drive away. No breathalysers, no walking a white line in a test of capability. After a show of Spanish logic and what the French would describe as Anglo - Spanish 'entente cordiale'  in resolving a small problem. 
Caveat: Due to language difficulties and the unavailability of translation services. There may be one or two small inaccuracies in the news provided.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Spanish News for the English (1)

The 'Spanish News for the English' 2016 is a service in support of European Multiculturalism for English Boaters considering a different type of winter break. As an alternative to the more usual break of an ankle, leg or arm due to the inclement UK weather.

Dateline Castello De La Planta:

If you want something quaint and traditional inspired by religion - In Spain they like to throw from time to time a live Goat from church roof. Celebrated on the fourth Sunday of January, Which happens to be today. Its a time when hundreds of people, many who will be in fancy dress, descended on the sleepy village of 'Manganeses de la Polvorosa' to witness the annual ritual in honour of the local patron saint.

The goat emerged unscathed from the 15-metre (50-foot) plunge after tipsy revellers caught it in a canvas sheet and paraded it through the tiny village on their shoulders. Some of its predecessors have not been so lucky. The practice was banned and now a toy goat is thrown in celebration. Now that's quaint.

In Dénia and Alicante, bulls are chased off a pier into the sea where they often drown. Three years ago, Catalonia banned bullfighting but the correbous, in which bulls are chased down the street, often with flaming brands fixed to their horns, remain popular and legal.  In 2002 the Andalusian government banned the fiesta in Cazalilla, in which a live turkey is thrown from the church tower. But the practice continues and each year the villagers club together to pay the €2,000 £1,450 fine.

Aside from bullfighting, which still attracts large numbers of spectators. There are village festivals such as the toro enmaromado (roped bull), held to celebrate Corpus Christi in Benavente, Zamora, central Spain. Here, a bull has a rope tied to its horns while dozens of men chase and drag it to the abattoir. It has been declared an “event of regional tourist interest” by the regional government of Castile and León.Many other such cruel and unnecessary fiestas enjoy legal protection. 

Caveat: Due to language difficulties and the unavailability of translation services. There may be one or two small inaccuracies in the news provided.

Monday 25 January 2016

Scottish News for the English

The 'Scottish News for the English or Fractured Facts' is a tongue in cheek service, in support of Sassenach Multiculturalism for the English. Many Scots will now be considering a different type of winter break. This time as an alternative to the more usual break of an ankle, leg or arm due to the inclement Scottish weather.

Scottish poet Robert "Rabbie" Burns (the Alta Ego for street philosopher Rab C. Nesbitt) was born on this day in 1759. The day is still celebrated not just by Scots, but by Burns fans across the English-speaking world. The high-spirited “Robert Burns Night” feasts, feature the first of the seasons wild caught Salmon and Haggis As well as other Scottish delicacies, such as a toasted Mars bar or a Fish Supper. It should also be noted that there is a small amount of enthusiastic drinking. There is a modicum of toasting and speech making about the World famous Scots national drink. One that has been distilled and shared to the world - Iron Bru.

Burns, the son of a poor farmer, received little formal schooling but read extensively. A restless, dissatisfied spirit, he fell in love with a young woman named Jean Armour in the mid-1780s but refused to marry her when she became pregnant. The pair endured a legal struggle, at the end of which the courts declared Burns legally single. The child support agency appealed the verdict but Burns thwarted their plans when married Armour anyway. Eventually, the couple had nine children, the last one born on the day of Burns’ funeral.

Burns published his first ladybird poetry collection, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, in 1786, and he quickly became the darling of the first battalion of the Edinburgh Academicals. Perhaps more famous for his lively lyrics in the Scottish dialect than for his longer, more literary poems, Burns is still beloved and celebrated today as the author of the New Year’s anthem, “For Auld Lang Syne.” Which through respect for Burns is not sung during the first footing ceremony.  Of the almost defunct new year Mahogany festival. Which due to the tightness of the Scots wallets,  has now largely been replaced by the Yorkshire 'How Much!' festival.

Caveat: Due to the prevailing language difficulties and the unavailability of translation services. There may be one or two small inaccuracies in the news provided. 

Sunday 24 January 2016


Joe Soap is the mortgaged owner of a popular London pub. For some time, Joe has been feeling a bit uneasy about the dwindling numbers of drinkers. However, it was simply that Joe's customers are now mostly on zero hours contracts. For his regular clientèle money is increasingly harder to come by. So the clientèle can no longer afford to patronise the pub every day. Joe resolves try and sort the business problem. He comes up with a revolutionary new business plan. One that allows Joe's customers to drink now and pay later. So he keeps track of the drinks consumed in a ledger. Word gets around about Joe's "drink now, pay later" business strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into the pub. Soon Joe has the largest sales by volume, for any pub in the whole of London.

This is how business entrepreneurs have been working since 1960.

By providing his customers with credit and so the freedom from immediate payment. Joe gets no resistance from the customers when, at periodic intervals, he substantially increases the prices for wine and beer. Consequently, due to the popularity, Joe's sales volume increases massively. A young and dynamic banker, reads in the business press about Joe's success and recognises that the customer debt actually constitute valuable future asset. He calls Joe into the bank and convinces Joe to increase his borrowing limit, allowing Joe to open more pubs. The banker sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the zero hour customers as collateral.

Joe's success naturally comes to the attention of one of the corporate traders at the banks headquarters. Soon the trader and joe's banker, figure a way to make a few large commissions. Made through the simple expediency of transforming the customer, drink now and pay later loans into Drinking-Bonds, Alki-Bonds and Puke-Bonds. Such is the success of Joe's business that the drink now and pay later securities are subsequently bundled and traded on the stock markets. The investors did not really understand that the securities being sold to them as triple 'A' secured bonds. Were in reality, Double 'A' bonds as the debts of mostly unemployed alcoholics.

This is how the business brokerage sector has been working since 1980.

The news of Joe's success travelled far and wide. As a result the bond prices continued to steadily climb. Before long, the drink now and pay later securities, were taken up by other pubs. To become the hottest-selling items for the leading brokerage houses.

Even though the bond prices were still climbing, a risk manager at the bank, became a touch jittery. He was suspicious about the rocketing success of the business. He decides that the time has come, to demand part payment on some of the debts incurred by the drinkers at Joe's bar. Joe was now required to start and call in payment from his now indebted, inebriated, unemployed, alcoholic patrons. However, being unemployed alcoholics, unsurprisingly they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since, Joe cannot fulfil his loan obligations he is now forced by the bank into bankruptcy. The pub chain closes and the eleven employees all lose their jobs. 

Overnight, the bank tries unsuccessfully to sell on at a marked down price the loans. The market in Drinking-Bonds, Alki-Bonds and Puke-Bonds catches a cold. The bonds drop in price like a stone and are instantly converted into junk bonds. The collapsed bond asset value almost destroys the banks liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans to business. As a result, freezing credit and economic activity in the business community. The bank is now even struggling to pay the staff performance bonuses.

This is how the business banking sector has been working since 1980.

The suppliers of Joe's bar had based on his success and turn over, granted him generous payment extensions. Other businesses had meanwhile invested their firms' pension funds in the various Drinking-Bonds, Alki-Bonds and Puke-Bonds securities. They all find they are now faced with having to write off Joe's bad debt and with losing all of the presumed high value of the bonds.

As a result, Joe's wine supplier is also forced into bankruptcy. Closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations. The liquidators come in and make their huge fees but there is little else for their creditors.  Joe's beer supplier is financially crippled and taken over by a hostile competitor, who immediately strips the assets and closes the brewery, sacking 150 workers.

This is how the suppliers to business has been working since 1920.

Fortunately though, for the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives. The banks are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion pound, no-strings attached, cash infusion from their cronies in Government. Quantitative easing is the new banking watch word. The performance bonuses continue to grow.

The funds required for this bailout are obtained by the government imposing an austerity budget. As well as new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in any of Joe's bars. At the same time, the high earner bank and brokerage executives are granted a cut on their taxes. Then as the banks recover, the shares held in our name by the Government are sold off cheaply to Hedgefunds and other speculators. Proving there is money to be made in a crisis and that austerity is a sham.

Now, you should understand how Gideon Oliver Osborne-omics has been working since 2010.

Saturday 23 January 2016

Latest Update.

Here is the latest itinerary snapshot of our winter cruse, travelling south along the Mediterranean coast of Spain. The weather has been somewhat varied. Mainly sunshine, light winds as well as almost no rain. The temperature has been variable between 22c and 15c in the day. Falling as low as 10c at night.

Currently located at Barcelona, our next point of call is Tarragona. Time scales for this adventure are very flexible. But we are aiming to be somewhere near Benidorm by the end of the month.

Sunday 17 January 2016

Winter update

Here is the latest itinerary of our winter cruse south along the Mediterranean coast of Spain. The weather has been somewhat varied. Sunshine, windy and calm as well as rain and the odd thunder storm. The temperature has varied between 25c and 15c in the day. Falling as low as 9c at night.

Currently located at Santa Susana, our next point of call is Barcelona. Time scales for this adventure are very flexible. But we are aiming to be somewhere south of Benidorm by the middle of next month.

Monday 11 January 2016

Row, row, row your boat!

I would like my politicians to be able to row a boat without sinking it. 

There was a boat race between a Japanese crew and a crew from the National Health Service (UK). Both sides practised long and hard and the Japanese team won by a mile. So the NHS now faced with this problem set up a working party which reported that the Japanese had eight people rowing and one steering and the NHS had eight people steering and one rowing.

So they brought in management consultants and the management consultants confirmed the diagnosis, suggested the NHS team be completely restructured to make it more efficient, more cohesive, streamlining and all-round better performance. A strategy document was drawn up and the recommendations encouraged restructuring for the entire organisation.

As part of the restructuring, a number of appointments were made including three Assistant Steering Managers, three Deputy Steering Managers, a Director of Steering Services and the rower was given an incentive to row harder. They had another race, this time the NHS team lost by two miles, so management laid off the rower for poor performance, sold the boat and gave the Director of steering services a large payout for making the ‘hard decisions’ and concluded they had too many management consultants and not enough managers!"

A story from Tony Benn.

Sunday 10 January 2016


Mr Cadbury met Miss Rowntree on a Double Decker.
It was just After Eight.
They got off at Quality Street .
  He asked her name. 'Polo, I'm the one with the hole' she said with a Wispa.
'I'm Marathon , the one with the nuts' he replied.
He touched her Cream Eggs, which was a Kinder Surprise for her.
Then he slipped his hand into her Snickers, which made her Ripple.
He fondled her Jelly Babies and she rubbed his Tic Tacs.
Soon they were Heart Throbs.
It was a Fab moment as she screamed in Turkish Delight
But, 3 days later, his Sherbet Dip Dab started to itch.
Turns out Miss Rowntree had been with Bertie Bassett and he had Allsorts.
Somebody has a lot of spare time on their hands - but I liked it anyway!

Friday 8 January 2016

French Canals

We are currently down in a sunny and today very warm part of northern Spain. After enjoying a leisurely - if sometimes wet but very sedate - tour south through France. While we have been here, we have made a point of visiting a few of the French canals. Such as the Canal du Midi and the Canal du Mers. 

There is such a startling difference between the way our canals are run and the French system. Which seems to be much more organised and boater friendly. This of course may only be a superficial view. I have started putting together an article contrasting and comparing our experiences.

You can find our latest Motorhome exploits while travelling in France and Spain on our 'Bessie of Arden' blog.