Monthly Archives: April 2013

20130427 – The Lunatic Fringe in the Bible Belt

Saturday – hot and humid. It’s 78 by 10:00.

DSC00239

Breakfast is back to normal with waffles. Black guy (not PC I know) comes into the breakfast area to ask the receptionist how to tie a tie – no this isn’t the start of a joke. Receptionist has no idea either so I end up giving tie tiring lessons and tie two ties for this geezer. Good to know that usBrits and empire are still good for something.

Check out of our Quality Inn & Suites. Nice hotel; a really friendly greeting on arrival; great wifi; Ice cream, cookies and popcorn in the evening; hot breakfast in the morning; large suite all for $80 a night.

Drive over from Vicksburg to Jackson – the state capital. 

Check in early to another Quality Inn & Suites. Another large suite, great wifi and all for $60 a night.

Drive down to the Farm and Agriculture museum. A interesting indoor museum  along with original farm buildings; village store; gas station (petrol); church; masonic lodge and cotton mill to DSC00216name but a few. A pleasant 2 hours strolling around on a self guided tour.

Then decide to drive into Jackson to stroll around the Froden shopping district. Best described as a dump.

Visit a giant outdoor shop complete with 100 foot waterfall; giant aquarium and trout stream – only in America. But there the amazement with Jackson ends.

We’re still trying to find a supermarket. It seems the whole state has been monopolised by Walmart. That’s it you have Walmart, Walmart and perhaps a Kroeger. Choice? There is none. Should this be a wake up call to us?

I think I may have mentioned that the dominant cuisine in Mississippi seems to be frying. If its edible then before ŷou dish it out, fry it seems to be the rule. Breadcrumb it and then fry it is the ultimate golden rule.

Well tonight we’ve had enough. Yes we’ve enjoyed all the new exotic dishes, but tonight it’s something simple thats been no where near a frying pan. So we search high and low. What do we have in the end? A salad, the only thing they can’t fry. “Oh I’m sorry we can’t serve wine sir, this is a dry county.”

DSC00229

You know friends think this travelling is all fun and pleasure. Little do they realise the deprivations us pioneer travellers have to suffer. Here we are in the 21st Century in Jackson, Mississippi a dry state. NO WINE. How do people survive here? Has the place been infested with Mormons? It’s like going to a 3rd World country. No doubt some local tin pot religious fruitcake Christian fundamentalist clown of a politician has decided to inflict his views on the rest of the inhabitants.

Certainly not impressed with Jackson in particular and Mississippi as a state seems a bit basic and backward.

A guy goes in an adult book store and asks for an inflatable doll.
Guy behind the counter says, “Male or female?”
Customer says, “Female.”
Counter guy asks, “Black or white?”
Customer says, “White.”
Counter guy asks, “Radical Christian or Muslim Extremist?”
Customer says, “What the hell does religion have to do with it?”
Counter guy says, “The Muslim Extremist blows itself up.”

Go on have a good laugh at yourselves. It’s really not that bad.

Sunday – clouds and rain, but very warm.

DSC00233

Breakfast is a waffle training session for one of the locals who doesn’t have a clue. Followed by a discussion with some red neck who has the solution to the Korean situation. Bomb the little bastard, it’ll only take an hour and those poor blighters don’t look very happy anyway. 

Swap cars at Jackson airport. “A full-sized Chevy for you sir.” “Please can I have a mid sized Chevy Cruze?” She looks at me as if I’m some sort of half wit out of a shack in a Bayou.

Chevy Cruze it is.

Drive up to Birmingham, Alabama about 3 hours drive.

Check into a lovely suite in a Comfort Inn just outside Birmingham. All of $75 a night including breakfast and wifi.

Pop out in the pouring rain for some dinner and a bottle of wine, 

Here in the Bible Belt there’s another form of Religious fruitcakes, it’s the Christian fundamentalists this time, mind you, in the main, they don’t go around trying to blow you up or stone you to death. Instead in Shelby county it’s no alcohol on a Sunday, yet 2 miles down the road in Jefferson county you can buy alcohol. And of course you can buy a gun anywhere!

Apparently many states prohibit selling alcohol for on and off-premise sales in one form or another on Sundays at some restricted time, under the idea that people should be in church on Sunday morning, or at least not drinking.

Yet the 1st amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….”. So here we have a law respecting the Christian religion and ramming it’s archaic doctrines down everyones throat.

DSC00199

The Supreme Court of the United States held in its landmark case, McGowan v. Maryland (1961), that Maryland’s blue laws violated neither the Free Exercise Clause nor the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It approved the state’s blue law restricting commercial activities on Sunday, noting that while such laws originated to encourage attendance at Christian churches, the contemporary Maryland laws were intended to serve “to provide a uniform day of rest for all citizens” on a secular basis and to promote the secular values of “health, safety, recreation, and general well-being” through a common day of rest.

OK sort of makes some sorted of warped sense. In which case why aren’t the supermarkets closed?

21st century and this lunacy prevails in a supposedly civilised country. Yet another argument in favour of banning religion. God bless the agnostics and atheists!

Buy 6 bottles to be on the safe side as who knows what Christian lunacy prevails in Tennessee.

 

20130425 – Picking Cotton

Thursday – hot and sunny.

DSC00039

Good breakfast followed by coffee in the room watching the Mississippi roll on by. Massive barges plying their trade, fast down stream but walking pace upstream against the current. 

Drive down to the Frogmore Plantation for a guided tour around an original plantation and slave quarters. Superb guided tour. Knowledgable guide tells us all about cotton picking then and now and slave life. Even get the chance to pick some cotton. All supported by two great videos. Can’t believe it took us 2.5 hours. Well worth the money.

After our lavish lunch, a banana and water, we visit Melrose an original Antebellum Greek style plantation owners house. Operated by the National Park service and as its National Park week entrance is free. As usual with NP there’s a great guided tour. All the original furniture is still inside and it’s been lovingly restored.

Then we have a stroll around downtown Natchez. Stop for a beer at a local “pub” by the river.

DSC00085

Stop off in a local gift shop run by the black equivalent of Arkwright. A real sales women. Mind you not that we could understand her, our “teach y’all American” certainly dint prepare us-all for this Southern drawl. I’m sure it’s getting broader as we move further North!

For tea it’s Fried dill pickles, Muffalattas and hush puppies complete with jalapeños – yes they’re fried but not a shoe. For Wendy it’s shrimp and crawfish chowder followed by a catfish po-boy. Thankfully I had half a Muffalattas, a real cholesterol special. How DSC00088anyone could eat a full one defies anatomical logic – you certainly wouldn’t be able to walk out, probably need a 911 call to carry you out on a stretcher.

Another action packed day.

According to one of his family members Tamerlan Tsarnaev was, among other things, ‘angry that the world pictures Islam as a violent religion.’ His efforts to refute this charge included planting bombs in the middle of a family sports event in Boston, killing – among others – an eight year old boy.

The case brings to mind that of Muzzammil Hassan from western New York. Hassan was the founder of Bridges TV in the US – a station set up to help ‘non-Muslims overcome the negative images they may have of both Muslims and Islam.’ Mr Hassan was subsequently convicted and sent to prison for beheading his wife.

It seems like the religion of peace has really been at it this week, two Muslim Canadians are on trial for trying to blow up a Canadian passenger train to New York. Three Muslim men DSC00047– including a convert – are on trial at the Old Bailey for plotting to blow up a number of UK targets including the town of Wooton Basset. And at Woolwich Crown Court a cell of radical Muslims from Birmingham are being sentenced for attempting to detonate a set of rucksack bombs and carry out ‘Mumbai-style’ attacks in the UK at targets including synagogues.

Fortunately we in Britain have many politicians willing to address the issues surrounding this. For example, there is Baroness Warsi who was on the television only the other day presenting a short film on ‘Islamophobia’ and declaring that ‘the good news is that government is finally dealing with the issue [of ‘Islamophobia’] and it is now a priority.’

I’d have thought the priority was stopping these fundamentalist attacks and ensuring that we retain freedom of speech, including the right to criticise or mock any religion. “Sticks and stones!”

DSC00108

Q. How many Muslim extremists will it take to destroy America?
A. None, American Liberals can do it all by themselves, thank you.

Friday – another hot, sunny and humid day.

By way of a change I go completely native for breakfast with grits, biscuits (well scones to us Brits), gravy, bacon that brittle it shatters into tiny fragments and scrambled eggs. Wasn’t sure whether I was expected to smoother it with maple syrup so passed on that.
 
Grits I could live without in my life. Looks like wallpaper paste and I suspect wallpaper paste has more taste. Biscuits and gravy not too bad, just savoury scones smothered in mushroom soup. Stick with waffles or cereal in future.

Take a short drive up the river to Vicksburg, scene of famous civil war battles and long siege. Vicksburg was a key Confederate stronghold that controlled the Mississippi. Many battle as the Union tried to take it but all were repulsed. In the end they lay siege to the town and eventual the Confederates surrended. That’s the history lesson over.

DSC00130

Great hotel within walking distance of the military park. Yes it is just a 5 minute walk if you can manage to cross the busy two lane highway. Do the patriotic American thing and drive there.
 
Place is run by the National Parks Service so as usual there’s a good visitors centre with a great movie on the battles of Vicksburg. Then you do a +90 minute drive around the battle fields and visit the Ironclad paddle steamer Cairo. All very well done and informative but for the battlefield you can’t help feeling it lacks that something. More of a pleasant drive DSC00135around a monument filled cemetery. Not the sort of place that would excite or engage young children. Perhaps that says it all about the age of my mind. Would have been really good if at least one area was set up “as it was at the battle”, Disney style, complete with trenches, shell craters, mud and gore etc. You don’t come away with any feeling of the true horrors of war, especially back then.
 
Drive down to old town Vicksburg. The “historic district”. You really do feel for the Americans as they have so little long term history and what they do have they seem to have a paucity of genuine artefacts or buildings.
 
Vicksburg, lovely town pleasant to walk around, free wifi and music but so many shops are closed down. Is this the Great Depression all over again or is it the result of out of town shopping Malls. Although the town needn’t bother providing piped Muzak as the local blacks (a tad non PC) share music from their car boom boxes. 

DSC00152

 
Can’t even understand the drawl of the beggars. Boy is it hot and humid. Thankfully we’re not here in summer. 
Visit the Mississippi River museum a great hands on place with a river barge you can explore and drive on a simulator. Best of all it’s free. 
 
Then off to a barbecue joint. Another culinary first with Cajun ribs and corn on the cob for tea (dinner for Southern softies). Tasty but difficult to eat with knife and fork, a sticky fingers job.
 
Another great day. Need a rest.
 

DSC00191

Now here’s a great Muslim initiative and yet another reason to avoid the Maldives.
 
Maldives discussing a total ban of alcohol and pork

A proposed blanket ban on the import of pork and alcohol would destroy the tourism industry of the Maldives beyond repair, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb has told parliament’s National Security Committee.

Local media reports said Addeeb told the committee that vast majority of the Maldives economy relied on tourism, which in turn depended on the sale of alcohol and pork. The whole tourism industry would suffer should these commodities be banned, Adheeb said.

Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed told the committee that serving alcohol and pork or profiting from the trade of such haram commodities was not permitted under Islam.

20130424 – Tornado Watch

Tuesday – hot, very humid and sunny.

DSCF9802

Another action packed day. Off on an airboat swamp tour and then a stroll around the Barataria Park park of the Jean Lafitte National Park.

Get to see an Albino crocodile. In captivity as it would not survive in the wild – no camouflage. Also get to see Albino fire engines, They’re all white, freaky, now there’s a first.

It’s a 2 hour tour all very interesting. Before we start, what does raw chicken, human fingers and marsh mellows have in common? Answer: Alligators love them. Don’t ask how they discovered the passion for marsh mellows!

Our guide throws marsh mellows and the gators come. Interesting tour but the gators are no where near as impressive as those we saw in the Everglades, but at least we got to hold one, poor thing was terrified and peed itself – mind you some of us weren’t so comfortable. Make a lovely pet this ones just 2 years old and will easily grow to 5 foot by the time it’s 5 DSCF9847and then slow down to an inch a year.

Call in at Best Buy on the way home to get the new Sony HX300 camera; 50 time magnification, should be great for birding; good stabilisation, it’ll need it at those magnifications; quick focus, unlike my existing camera; doesn’t take 15 seconds to warm up. Then have a relaxing Starbucks. First of our trip. Starting to get withdrawal symptoms. Really fancy a proper DSLR but I’d need a 3 foot, 15lb lens, a gattling gun sized tripod and a Ford Transit van to tote the gear around. Not my idea of photography. Give me a shirt pocket camera.

Smoked pulled pork Po-Boy for dinner with just a few glasses of wine. What’s a Po-boy? Really nothing fancy just a sandwich served on French bread.

Well the religion of peace has exploded into senseless violence yet again with the Boston Marathon bombings. I’m sure the backlash against their religion will be horrendous. The Americans have had enough.  But what can they expect. I can also see that tightened security may even result in TSA on the streets. Now that would be a disaster, but the way the DSCF9823media is feeding and the potential extra profits make it a strong possibility.

Oh well it looks like Malta’s off my holiday destination list.

A report on worldwide human rights from the US Department of State has revealed that 99 individuals were convicted in Malta last year for public blasphemy , down from 119 in 2011.

Despite its popularity amongst Brits, many are unaware that Maltese law prohibits the vilification of or giving offense to the Roman Catholic Church.

It is also a criminal offense to utter publicly any obscene or indecent words, make obscene acts or gestures or in any other way offend public morality, propriety or decency.

With my blog I could well be prosecuted. Yet another attack on free speech.

Wednesday – warm, black skies, lightning and heavy rain. To top it all there’s a Tornado Watch alert.

DSCF9877

We set off on our drive up the Great River Road on our way to the Evergreen Plantation. Alas no one, including Trevor MacDonald mentioned that you hardly get to see the Mississippi as you drive along as it’s obscured by Levies – obviously no thought for the tourists when they built them. Mind you as we criss cross the river at least you get some good, but fleeting views from the bridges. Interesting most of the bridges have no walkways, but then again this is America so no one walks anywhere anyway – perhaps they swim across.

Evergreen Plantation is a wash out. Pouring it down – in typical American fashion even the rain is bigger – and they don’t fancy doing a guided tour amongst all those oak trees and lightning. Never mind we have to stick with the Trevor MacDonald DVD.

DSCF9799

Drive up the back roads to Baton Rouge and then onto Natchez. Call in at a Mississippi Tourist Information centre. Offered free coffee, good helpful advice from very pleasant and friendly staff, with free wifi of course.

Comfort Suite hotel in Natchez is pretty grand, when we finally find it – bloody satnav. We get a suite with a Mississippi river view. Very relaxing watching the barges.

Dinner in the hotel is best described as interesting. The fried green beens were off the menu. I venture for the Catfish, fried of course, along with everything else in Mississippi. Frying seems to be their signature dish. You name they fry it, although they were a little taken back with the thought of a fried Mars bar.

In France, the police are now taking action against people caught in public wearing a burqa.

DSC00023

So far they’ve arrested four Muslims and seven letterboxes.

Has the BBC finally grown some balls?

BBC: Panorama – Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils

Panorama goes undercover to investigate what is really happening in Britain’s Sharia Councils – Islamic religious courts. Some women reveal they have suffered domestic violence ignored by these councils as campaigners say it is time to tackle the parallel legal system which can run counter to British law.

How can we tolerate a separate legal system? Meanwhile lets wait for the toys to be thrown out the pram, the backlash, the rioting and protestations.

Birmingham rally calls for the UK to implement blasphemy laws

Up to 25,000 British Pakistani people gathered in Aston Park in Birmingham to call on the British government to introduce legislation that bars people from insulting Islam.

The participants made a peaceful and colourful mile-long march to the park where they heard speakers included interfaith leaders from Christian, Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish religions and parliamentarians from Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats.

DSC00021

Hazrat Peer Alauddin Siddiqui, who is a renowned Sufi cleric, told Geo News: that the recent film, The Innocence of Muslims has caused hurt to Muslims all over the world. He added that It’s not fair that some people insult Islam everyday and preach hatred through their actions and words but the lack of legislation encourages such elements. We want to tell our government that insults are unacceptable and inflammatory language is contributing to the rise of extremism amongst youth in western countries.

Here they go again. Oh the poor wee things. No doubt the do gooders and bleeding hearts will be chomping at the bit. Free speech seems to be under attack everywhere, predominantly from religious fruitcakes. If this gets implemented I think we’ll become political refugees and flee the country.

20130420 – The Mighty Mississippi

Saturday – crisp sunny morning. Makes you wonder why we go away :7)

DSCF9533

Manchester airport – joy. Long queue to be screened. Now there’s a surprise. It would loose its official designation as an airport if there wasnt a queue. Only 2 out of 8 lanes manned. And surprise, surprise the multi million pound terra hertz scanners are not being used. Perhaps they can’t find any perverts to man them.

Bacon butties for breakfast. Wendy hits the brandy to help her tablets go down. Then has the empty glass nerve to criticise a family who are “drinking like mad”, probably jealous or apprehensive that there’ll be no brandy left. When we set off to board the plane she feels woozy, now there’s a surprise, I wonder what caused that.

DSCF9504

 

Delta flight to Atlanta. No seat back tv system; half way through the flight there’s an emergency situation – they’ve run out of red wine; glad to report that Delta seem to have managed to train their staff to smile, although by the end of the flight some are turning to grimaces.

Interesting navigation solution they seem to be following the vapour trail in the sky.

Business class seems such a rip off, but possibly makes it more comfortable on a 9 hour flight, but sleeping tablets would seem to be a much cheaper solution – perhaps that’s the answer in future.

DSCF9463

Landed in Atlanta on time to a typical American welcome.

35 minute queue for passport control. Yellow standdee line; finger prints; smile for the camera, yes I’m really in the mood for the 6th smile this year; stamp; stamp; questions galore, but at least he had a personality. On the positive side the queue for US citizens was longer, now there’s a first, and our luggage had arrived.
Usual question “why the hell do we come to this country when they treat visitors like this?”. Perhaps their economy is so strong they don’t really need tourists.

All made up for by the concierge in the Delta lounge who let us in, even though our card wasn’t valid. He was a real Anglophile and good to see that Delta really empower their staff.

4 hour stop over then we have a 90 minute flight to New Orleans. It’s 03:00 in the morning by the time we hit bed in our hotel.

Another hotel where our rooms next to a noise plant. Vibrating walls. Joy. Fortunately we’re that tired it doesn’t make a happeth of difference. Change rooms tomorrow.

DSCF9482

Sunday – warm and sunny.

Up early for a waffle breakfast. Back to airport to pick car up. Nice top of the range Ford Focus. Hang on there’s a tyre pressure warning light on – come on Mr Hertz get it right. Here we go again. “No problem sir just go and choose any of those mid size cars over there”. Boring I know but pick a brand new top of the range Chevy Cruze. Great to drive, all the gadgets and gizmos and pretty good MPG for American gas guzzlers – yes they’ve still not learnt.

DSCF9465

Interesting listening to a rotund customer at the Hertz desk ‘How do I get to the airport?”. Clerk “just down that walkway”. Rotund “What no bus?”. Bloody hell it’s only 200 yards and she certainly needed the exercise.

Drive down to the French quarter of New Orleans. Lovely relaxing place with with plenty of street entertainment and music going on. But of course you always get one scrot.  Guy sat on the pavement with a bucket in front of him. DSCF9546Jackson square has so much entertainment. Try some famous beignets at the famous Cafe du Monde. They’re tasty but the coffee with chicory leaves a bit to be desired.

Seafood Pistolettes for lunch – a creamy shrimp and crawfish on golden French role.

A really enjoyable day.

DSCF9519

Walmart on the way home for wine and other essentials. Complete free health check for me, all done sat at computer screen. Good to see Walmart  respect their customers with someone on the door inspect receipts and goods in the trolley. Wendy gave her a very pleasant mouthful about respect for customers.

Monday – warm and sunny.

DSCF9633

Breakfast nearly turns into world war III, when some stroppy gobby wench argues with her husband and me about how the waffle machine works – her husband needs to get a grip, but she definitely wears the trousers in that household. Does she not realise I’m the Egon Ronay of the waffle machine. We win, she waffles on.

DSCF9659

Back down to the French quarter again. Stroll around one of their ancient cemeteries with there above ground burial houses, some are even 3 stories high. Lunch is a picnic in Jackson Square.

Then we go for a 2 hour trip down the Mississippi in a genuine Mississippi Paddle steamer, complete with Jazz band – no Mark Twain though. Pleasant afternoon. 

Dinner is on Bourbon Street in the French quarter. I have Jambalaya, crawfish pie, filet gumbo – name that song. Great food apart form the Jambalaya. Wendy’s not so keen on the Jambalaya.

DSCF9711

Another great day. It’s all go though.

Really like New Orleans and especially the food. Even giving Taco Bell the elbow for now.

The famous Bourbon Streets a bit on the seedy side compared to the other streets, Royal is much nicer, but it has its compensations – see picture of the wench with the backside, enough to put you off sex for life. Alas it’s no pole dancing or Gentlemens clubs tonight! 

DSCF9794

20130403 – Homeward Bound

Wednesday – hot and sunny.

400 mile drive up to Las Vegas. Quite pleasant drive most of the way with the exception of Sun City. The traffic light centre of the Universe. Even worse than Tucson. More traffic lights on the main road than Talibans at a stoning. Unbelievable on a major road. Perhaps they have the idiot town planners we had to plan Shadsworth?

Hotel very comfortable, although they did try and put us in room 208 again. WHen I complained she recognised me from last time and had read my Tripadvisor rant. Problem solved and a note in our account to keep us away fro 208.

After 20+ years of coming to America we finally get to go to a Red Lobster. I even get to pick my live lobster that’s to be boiled to death. What a disaster, also a disaster for the lobster. Starters delivered late; food mediocre; my lobster was supposedly to be ready cleaned and excavated from it shell, but delivered whole. Ends up with the manager exacting it for me at the table. What a disaster of a meal. No one is happy. Complain and we all get a free meal. At least they put it right but it’ll be the first and last time at a Red Lobster and certainly no more whole lobsters.

Don’t you just love American logic. 20 children and 6 adults killed in Newton Massacre. What’s the response? Outright ban on all guns. Tighten gun controls. No since the massacre more states have eased gun controls and regulations than have bolstered them. Gob bless the 2nd and the masterminds of the NRA! Lunacy.

A hint of Dark Matter. WIMP’s a new form of matter may have been found which will help explain Dark Matter – one may be passing through you right now. These might help us find out whether the universe will carry on expanding ad infinitum; stop expanding at some point; stop and then start contracting. Put’s our trivial lives into perspective!

Why not to be a Muslim. Just a few Fatwas from the religion of peace:

Sleeping naked. Not allowed.

Mother day. Not allowed.

Valentines day . Not allowed.

Christmas tree up in a Muslim household. Not allowed – “It is not permissible to imitate the kuffaar in any of their acts of worship, rituals or symbols, according to the Prophet (blessings and peace o fAllah be upon him).”

Disobedient wife. Not allowed – Wives in general have to understand that obedience to their husbands is an Islamic duty that is required of them. The husband should do a good job of being in charge of his wife etc……

Shave your cheeks. Not allowed.

Women wearing the trousers. Not allowed. Pants or trousers are clothes that show the shape of a woman’s body and ‘awrah, so for this reason it is not permissible for women to wear pants, unless she wears over them a wide or loose shirt.

And just when you thought it was all abstinence, bans and no enjoyment a little ray of joy creeps in:

Stoning. Allowed. Nay positively encouraged. Almost a sin not to. Whoever takes part in stoning a married adulterer, is rewarded for that, and it is not fitting for anyone to abstain from it if a ruling of stoning is issued.

And Allah knows best.

Thursday – very hot and sunny. Really looking forward to home at 7 degrees C :7)

Leisurely morning. Late checkout. Drop car off. Hertz as efficient as ever. Curbside check in – very painless. Just the usual TSA crap to deal with and then we’re tucked up in the lounge. Wendy getting ready to down a bottle of brandy with gusto. I think it helps her tablets go down better than water. 3 half pints later I assist her to the plane.

Virgin have excelled themselves again and given us bulkhead seats – extra legroom. Wendy in her alcoholic haze spots emergency exit row seats available and arranges with the Air Hostess to get them for us. So another great Virgin flight with plenty of legroom at no extra cost.

Flight is fairly comfortable with great movie selection and lands on time.

Pick to car up only to realise that the tax disc has run out while we’ve been away. Fortunately there’s a post office around the corner from APH and with the wonders of technology manage to get a copy of my insurance on the iPhone and tax it there and then. What a major cock up on our behalf. We’d assumed it was tax for a year from when we bought it. Of course the DVLA didn’t bother sending a reminder until after we’d left. Try eating through to the DVLA to sort out the SORN issue – a major nightmare because they’re constantly too busy and hang up on you.

Back to sunny Belthorn, yes it is the same village and the sun is out with no sign of rain. Mind you to keep up it’s reputation it is only 5C with a howling gale. Bloody freezing – Joy! 

Just 15 days to go before we escape again.

We just love America but you do have to wonder about their education system. Conversation with bimbo at petrol pump. Bimbo – “Love your accent. Where are you from?”. Wendy –  “England”.  Bimbo – “Wow. How long will it take you to drive home?”. Sadly this is not an isolated incident. It’s the 3rd time we’ve encountered this cast iron believe that England is on the same continent as North America.

Just when you think everything is banned it appears that a new Fatwa Permits Rape of Non-Sunni Women in Syria, and lots of other places. Sorry it’s a bit long but it really is unbelievable:

Yet another Islamic cleric recently made it permissible for the Islamic fighters waging a jihad in Syria—politely known as “the opposition”—to rape the nation’s women.

Justifying rape in Islam’s name – a “legitimate fatwa” making it legal (in the eyes of Islam) for those Muslims fighting to topple secular president Bashar Assad and install Sharia law to “capture and have sex with” all non-Sunni women, specifically naming Assad’s own sect, the Alawites, as well as the Druze and several others, in short, all non-Sunnis and non-Muslims. Calls to capture and rape non-Muslim women are appearing with increasing frequency from all corners of the Islamic world.

A few months earlier, Saudi preacher Muhammad al-Arifi also issued a fatwa allowing jihadi fighters to engage in “intercourse marriage” with captive Syrian women that lasts for a few hours “in order to give each fighter a turn”—also known as gang-rape.

Then there is Egyptian Sheikh Ishaq Huwaini, who once lectured on how infidel captives, or to use another term from the Koran, ghanima, the “spoils of war,” are to be distributed among the jihadis and taken to “the slave market, where slave-girls and concubines are sold.” He, too, referred to such women as “what your right hands possess,” saying: “You go to the market and buy her, and she becomes like your legal mate—though without a contract, a guardian, or any of that stuff—and this is agreed upon by the ulema…. In other words, when I want a sex-slave, I go to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her.”

Indeed, even some Muslim women advocate the enslavement and rape of fellow (non-Muslim) women. Kuwaiti political activist, Salwa al-Mutairi, for instance, is working to see the institution of sex-slavery return. In a video she posted online, she explained how she once asked Islam’s greatest authorities living in the city of Mecca, the city of Islam, about the legality of sex-slavery and how they all confirmed it to be perfectly legitimate. According to Mutairi:

A Muslim state must [first] attack a Christian state—sorry, I mean any non-Muslim state—and they [the women, the future sex-slaves] must be captives of the raid. Is this forbidden? Not at all; according to Islam, sex slaves are not at all forbidden. Quite the contrary, the rules regulating sex-slaves differ from those for free women [i.e., Muslim women]: the latter’s body must be covered entirely, except for her face and hands, whereas the sex-slave is kept naked from the bellybutton on up—she is different from the free woman; the free woman has to be married properly to her husband, but the sex-slave—he just buys her and that’s that.

All great places for perverts and rapists to hang out, assuming of course they convert to the religion of peace and don’t sleep naked, celebrate Valentines day etc…..

Just love this (should explain that Ryanair is a cheap airline that offers flights for as low a £1 then charges a fortune for even breathing): 

Saturday.Ryanair’s Micheal O’Leary arrives in a hotel in Dublin, he goes to the bar and asks for a pint of draught Guinness. The barman nodded and said, “That will be one Euro please, Mr. O’Leary.”
Somewhat taken aback, O’Leary replied, “That’s very cheap,” and handed over his money.
“Well, we try to stay ahead of the competition”, said the barman. “And we are serving free pints every Wednesday evening from 6 until 8. We have the cheapest beer in Ireland”
“That is remarkable value” Michael comments
“I see you don’t seem to have a glass, so you’ll probably need one of ours.
That will be 3 euro please.
O’Leary scowled, but paid up. He took his drink and walked towards a seat.
“Ah, you want to sit down?” said the barman. “That’ll be an extra 2 euro. – You could have pre-book the seat, and it would have only cost you a Euro.”
“I think you may to be too big for the seat sir, can I ask you to sit in this frame please”
Michael attempts to sit down but the frame is too small and when he can’t squeeze in he complains “Nobody would fit in that little frame”.
“I’m afraid if you can’t fit in the frame you’ll have to pay an extra surcharge of €4.00 for your seat sir”
O’Leary swore to himself, but paid up. “I see that you have brought your laptop with you” added the barman. “And since that wasn’t pre-booked either, that will be another 3 euro.”
O’Leary was so annoyed that he walked back to the bar, slammed his drink on the counter, and yelled, “This is ridiculous, I want to speak to the manager”.
“Ah, I see you want to use the counter,” says the barman, “that will be 2 euro please.” O’Leary’s face was red with rage.

“Do you know who I am?”
“Of course I do Mr. O’Leary,”
“I’ve had enough, What sort of Hotel is this? I come in for a quiet drink and you treat me like this. I insist on speaking to a manager!”

“Here is his E mail address, or if you wish, you can contact him between 9 and 9.10 every morning, Monday to Tuesday at this free phone number. Calls are free, until they are answered, then there is a talking charge of only 10 cent per second”
“I will never use this bar again
“OK sir, but remember, we are the only hotel in Ireland selling pints for one Euro”

Awaken to glorious sunshine and clear blue skies. Are we back in Tucson? Is this really Belthorn? The breakfast on the patio test confirms we are truly back home – a bone chilling 6 degrees Centigrade.

20130401 – Wow Cross paths with a Gila Monster and Mojave Rattle Snake – Totally Bodacious

Monday – hot and sunny.

Gila monster

Wendy and I are up early to do the Pima Canyon trail. On the trail head for 08:20. Kevin and Anne are doing the Tucson Mall.

Pima Canyon is gorgeous. Up hill all the way and one of the most difficult / technical walks we’ve ever done. Certainly think that coming down is going to be more technically difficult and much slower but it turns out to take the same time as the ascent. Get up as far as some of the pools and after an hour decide we’d better head back down as we think it will take us 2 hours to get back down. Turns out to be much quicker than we envisaged despite the difficult sections.

DSCF9367

Rewarded for all our efforts with the sighting of the poisonous Gila Monster. Sadly I didn’t have my camera with me. By the time I’d got my iPhone out he’d gone. See picture from the Internet.

Well worth the early rise and the effort. A gorgeous canyon and being rocky and difficult meant you hardly had chance to notice the climb.

Wendy wanted to go to Tohon Chul gift shop – it’s a women’s thing. Glad we did as we get out the car there’s a Mojave Rattle snake (apparently one of the most aggressive and poisonous rattlers) sauntering across the car park – see pictures. Another real treat. All we need now to make the days the sighting of a Roadrunner – so far we’ve only seen the one doing what Roadrunners are good at – crossing the road. By way of compensation there’s a great video of a Roadrunner doing battle with his favourite lunch the Rattle snake – click here.

IMG 1259

A Gila Monster and Mojave Rattle snake all in one day. How lucky can you get? Well a Roadrunner would have been a nice addition but don’t get greedy.

Tuesday – hot and sunny.

IMG 1265

Ladies are doing the tidy up, ready for departure tomorrow, while the men explore the Romero Canyon. A lovely walk down a riparian in canyon but alas few birds and no Roadrunner. Take the car to be cleaned. That’s an experience $5 and all finished off by hand. They’re queuing up and it’s a proper assembly line.

 Nip down to the airport to pick up my hire car. Order the cheapest and smallest car with4 wheels from Mr Hertz and get an upgrade to the top of the range Chevy Cruze. Satellite radio and bristling with blue tooth, USB ports, electronics and gadgets. 

DSCF9375

20130330 – At Last A Rattler, A Diamond Back No Less

Saturday – cloudy (now there’s a first) and hot, 84F, as usual.

DSCF9260  Version 2

Highlight of the walk is we get to see a rattler – a diamond back no less. Actually would have missed it if this little kid hadn’t come running up to say there’s a snake and then proceeded to lob a big stone in its direction. Fortunately it didn’t hit the poor sleeping snake or else there would probably have been one child with a rattler attached. Amazing camouflage you would never spot it in a month of Sundays and it was only a foot off the main path. Just asleep and not bothered about all the passers by.Drive down to Sabino Canyon for a walk up Bear Canyon. Although cloudy it was quite hot and humid. Turns into a 4.5 mile walk quite a bit of it down a lovely stream.

DSCF9288

Colorado sure seems to have more than its fair share of stupid laws, here some more:

It is permissable to wear a holstered six-gun within city limits, except on Sunday, Election Day, or holidays.

It is illegal to bring your horse or pack mule above the ground floor of any building.

The dog catcher must notify dogs of impounding by posting, for three consecutive days, a notice on a tree in the city park and along a public road running through said park.

It is unlawful to lend your vacuum cleaner to your next-door neighbor.

You may not drive a black car on Sundays.

It is illegal to go in public dressed in clothes“unbecoming” on one’s sex.

DSCF9248

Now Christians are kicking off. Riots pending?

Former Bishop speaks out against Good Friday documentary suggesting that Mary Magdaline was Christ’s lover or wife

Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, said the BBC programme, The Mystery of Mary Magdalene , presented by Melvyn Bragg would be hugely offensive to devout Christians because it amounted to the sexualisation of Christ .

He said it was all the more upsetting because it is being screened at midday on Good Friday, the moment the Bible says Jesus was put on the cross.

Lord Bragg, who describes himself as no longer a believer , argues that Mary’s close relationship with Jesus was effectively airbrushed out of the accepted Biblical account by misogynist Romans. He points to a series of ancient writings known as the Gnostic Gospels which were not included in the agreed list of books which became the New Testament. They include references to Mary being kissed on the mouth by Jesus, being his favourite and even, as one passage suggests, his wife.The campaign group Christian Concern has emailed its supporters urging them to complain to the BBC. Andrea Williams, director of Christian Concern, said:

Noon Good Friday is the precise time Christians are remembering Jesus’ crucifixion. To air a programme which questions the purity of Christ is at best insensitive and at worst offensive.

Now here’s the real kicker, apparently the head of BBC religious programming is actually a muslim. Can you imagine the Muslim response to a TV programme depicting Mohamed having sex!

DSCF9313

Anyway the good news is I would have missed it. Now at least I’ll get to see it.

Sunday – hot and sunny again.

Happy Easter everyone, or for the PC / Dhimi brigade it’s “Spring Sunday”. If you’re offended by my wishing you a Happy Easter then I’m pleased, you clearly shouldn’t be reading my blog. You can tell it’s Easter Sunday as all the church car parks are bursting at the pews. Seems like the only time people go. I’m sure no one walks.

Wendy and I drive down to Saguaro National Park East and have a great walk around the desert. A pleasant 2 miles stroll. It sure feels like the desert – great. Followed by a lavish picnic. But alas no Roadrunner.

DSCF9321

Then it’s coffee at Starbucks – becoming quite an aficionado and can now even order a coffee using Starbucks speak, with all the gusto of a resident of Pike Place – look it up if you don’t understand. Now we know the Americans go a tad OTT when it comes to their pets, but when you take your puppy to Starbucks, along with his luxury bed to lie on, it takes some believing. I’m surprised they didn’t order it a Starbucks drink.

Talking of Starbucks hows this for common marketing rip off sense. Each coffee I buy with my iPhone Starbuck app earns me stars and stars mean rewards. Excited so far. But if I but two coffees and pay with the card I only get one star. Now it’s two separate orders; two entires on the till; two receipts; twice as long. Come on you greedy marketeers get a grip.

More Colorado stupidity:

It is illegal to have a broken down car on private property or public right-of-ways.

It is illegal to have weeds in your yard

Residents may not own chickens, but may own up to three turkeys.

It is illegal to let a dandelion grow within the city limits.

DSCF9352

Cats may not run loose without having been fit with a taillight.

It is illegal to crash into obstacles on a ski slope.

Do not allow somebody to park less than 2 feet from you, or you will have to pay a fine.

More lunacy from the holy man of the religion of peace:

CLEAN-SHAVEN young men, according to a mad American Muslim hate preacher who was recently barred from speaking at the University of East London, tend to make Muslim males horny. 

DSCF9365

Imam Khalid Yasin. who once claimed that the US government created AIDS and asserted that “the Koran gives a clear position regarding homosexuality lesbianism and bestiality. … They are aberrations punishable by death”, raised laughter when he told an audience that:

The beard is a natural sign of manliness and it is a natural sign of distinguishing men from women. And among the companions of the Prophet, they used to not even look at a man who shaved his beard for fear they may have desire for him.

He added:

Allah cursed the women that looked like men and the men that looked like women.

So does Islam turn all Muslim men into latent homosexuals?