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20191201 – Last Few Days In Tokyo; Goodbye Japan We’ll Be Back


Sunday

Senso-ji temple.

Breakfast on 40th floor. Great views but an expensive breakfast.

Set off to the Senso-ji temple. An interesting combination of the cultural, holy and spiritual complete with about 100+ stalls selling all sorts of tat that you’ve neither need nor hopefully want. It’s as busy as hell, all the world are here. But combining the cultural with the shopping cravings that Wendy has meets both our expectations.

Then it’s down to the Akihabara district for the Kanda Myojin shrine and the hustle and bustle of electric town, the centre of maid cafes and anime and manga culture. Wendy is reluctant to go to one of the maid cafés, exploits women she says – so it’s not PC, all the more reason to do it, hopefully it may offend some snowflakes. Mind you at 500 yen each for a 30 minute visit to a cafe it is a tad expensive. For that price I’d be expecting Pole dancing.

Empty barbecue.

No this isn’t a joke, Maids in the café’s will also kneel by the table to stir cream and sugar into a customer’s coffee, and some cafés even offer spoon-feeding services to customers. Recently maid cafés also offer other services such as dance performances, singing karaoke together or taking photos together on a nostalgic polaroid photo. Customers can also sometimes play rock-paper-scissors, card games, board games, and video games with maids as well as prepare arts, crafts and many more fun activities. You even can request your favorite maid to perform for you some type of fun and cute activity (P.S.: Anime character acting is very popular)!

They close the main road off so you can stroll down the road. It’s humming.

Senso-ji.

Catch the train to Tokyo station for a visit to the palace gardens. Unbelievable how many people are being herded in. We take a short cut to avoid the well behaved conforming crowds and get away with it. Then we’re in and realise how futile this really is so we try and get out of this rat trap. Really makes you realise what it must be like living in these high rise rat cages. How anyone can put up with these crowds is beyond me. I suppose the whole of Tokyo must come out at weekend to escape and supposedly enjoy the open spaces. Sadly they’re not open as they’re full of people trying to escape. It really must do something to their psyche, living like rats in a cage. I’d be demented.

Having a rest on a zebra.

Finally escape and head back to Tokyo station. Another hell hole, signposted by a lost blind man. It rightly has the accolades of the busiest and most confusing complicated station in the world.

Decide we’ll eat in tonight so go to try some bento boxes, so very Japanese. The shop is busier than a public stoning in Tehran, I think all the crowds from the palace gardens have decided to buy bento boxes.

Finally escape, search for our platform and for some reason our pasmo card has been invalidated. It’s probably as confused as I am.

Crowds the the Emperor’s palace.

Back to the hotel for sanity, peace and luxury. I take a stroll around the hotels amazing Japanese gardens to calm my frayed nerves. Have afternoon tea in our club lounge along with free chocolate cake.

Then it’s back to our suite for our bento feast, along with a well deserved bottle of Hofbrau original – how civilised is that – and more of The Crown. Very disappointing this season.

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Not really a laughing matter.


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Tea tonight.

Why do we not see the word Islam in this or any other Times article dealing with Islamic terrorist’s. Why are there no comments on any of the pieces covering the Islamic Troy attack on London Bridge. What are we not talking about the problem. Hiding it will not make the problem go away. I’m sure there are many Muslims who are disgusted with this and would like to provide their moderate views.


Monday

Wait time to get into the Nintendo store. These people must be insane I’d be terrified of joining a queue with them.

Breakfast on the 40th floor this morning, would be great views but it’s raining.

Then we set off to Shibuya for Wendy’s shopping trip. She’s obsessed with going to the Nintendo store. Get there and there’s a 180 minute queue, yes that’s not a mistake, Monday and a 180 minute wait. To top out all the store looks pretty crap, not really that much in it. What is wrong with these people. Living in rat cages must addle their brains.

Sushi on a conveyor.

As it’s pouring down we decide to have our conveyor belt sushi for lunch. Wendy’s clever idea. Really smart, order on an iPad and it’s all in English. Interesting watching the Japanese eat sushi. Unbelievable as they take a 4” long piece of sushi in their mouths all at one go. Whereas I’m struggling to cut it into a few pieces with my chopsticks. No wonder chopsticks work for them but you need a big gob.

Carols back at the hotel.

Must have RFID in the plates as all they do is scan the empty plates. £26 for 14 plates and beer, no wonder people were queuing.

Have a stroll around including yet another BicCamera. Pick up some cake and sandwiches for tea. Can you believe it they even provide a small freezer pack to keep your food cool. How cool is that.

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Our Bento boxes for tea, note the quality beer.

Metropolitan Police counterterrorism chief Neil Basu said the suspect appeared to be wearing a bomb vest but it turned out to be ‘a hoax explosive device.’

Basu said officers were keeping ‘an open mind as to any motive.’ Obviously this guy will never make the grade as a detective. Go read the quran and then perhaps you’ll get it.

For allahs sake he was a convicted terrorist who had served time in prison and was wearing an electronic tag at the time of the attack. 


Tuesday

My snack of grilled eel on a stick being prepared.

Yet another average but expensive breakfast however the Japanese garden view makes it worth every penny. Then as we approach the lift one of the staff of 5,000 presses the button for the lift for us, escort us to right lift shaft and then scrapes, bows and smiles as we enter. Perhaps she thinks we’re too old and frail to push a button and to senile to decide which door to use. I could really get used to the service level in this hotel.

Catch the subway to Tokyo station to reconnoiter the way to the Narita express. Essential with this maze the station from hell – must have been laid out by a blind woman with an etch a sketch.

Tucking in.

Then it’s onto the giant BicCamera store to see if we can get a Nintendo figure for Jasper. All this way and we spend more time shopping than seeing any thing Tokyo has to offer. No luck on the Nintendo toy.

Set off to the old fish market. A crowded maze of stalls selling every fish you can imagine, some are cooked, some are raw and some are still alive. Most are served on sticks ready to eat. Not seen any live ones on sticks though. I try some smoked eel.

Wander back to Tokyo station in the hope of finding somewhere to have a coffee and something to eat. Fat chance. Finally find some where. Then find we have to pay 140 yen to leave the central part of the station – because it has shops. How crazy is that.

Passed on this.

Head towards the palace in the hope that we can finally have a stroll around the gardens. We’ll just like yesterday we can, along with half of Tokyo and all the school children in Japan – forget it.

Head back to the hotel for Otani club lounge and afternoon tea. A sanctuary of sanity, with free tea, coffee and cake.

Wendy then does the packing. I offered to do my own but she won’t let me. Seems to think I’m irresponsible.

Quality infrastructure.

Tonight’s we treat ourselves to tea at a ninja themed restaurant. Getting like me mother, always finishing a holiday with a meal treat and bingo. Fortunately I don’t think they do bingo in Japan. Meal starts off by being greeted by a ninja jumping out of the wall. Not recommended for anyone with a weak heart. Haven’t a clue what we eat, but it was 9 courses of most of the sea creatures known to man and some unknown.

Yamato Spirit Course
1. Shuriken star-blades grissini
2. Appetizer of the season
3. Turban shell bombs with garlic butter
4. Special stone-boiled soup (Japanese bouillabaisse)
5. Seafood specialty of the day
6. Sherbet candy in flavors of the season
7. Meat specialty of the day
8. Special Sushi & Sushi Roll
9. Today’s dessert

Ninja food.

Did they bother cooking them? Who knows. I can at least confirm that none of the fish were still alive – count your blessings. It was good and entertaining, including amazing ninja magic at the table.
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Top tips to survive Japan

Wear slip on shoes, you’ll be constantly taking them on and off.

If it’s the colour of green tea, then leave it be. Avoid anything green, it’s probably made with green tea – not my cup of tea.

Walk on the left apart from some train stations.

Use google maps.

Buy a pasmo card, great on the trains and subway.

Have plenty of cash

Avoid popular places in Tokyo on a Sunday.

If it’s raining and you don’t wear glasses then invest in some welding goggles to save your eyeballs from the umbrellas.

If you’re thinking of getting perfect photos with no strangers in them, forget it. Download off the internet. There’s always a cast of 5,000 extras lurking in your view finder.

Avoid Tokyo station at all costs The station from hell, laid out by a blind woman with an etch a sketch.


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You really can’t believe that these two Communist, terrorist sympathiser might be in Downing street. If so time to seek asylum in Tehran.


Wednesday

More Ninja food. Yes, I’m still alive.

Early hurried breakfast and then the subway to our nemesis, Tokyo station, to board the Narita express to Narita airport. Just over an hour to the airport, all very comfortable. Glad we reconnoitred the platform but as luck would have it it was so easy to locate.

Of course British airways check in haven’t bothered to open yet.

Go to the IASS, priority pass lounge, what a dump. Would be better sat on a bench outsides local doss house. Is anybody stupid enough to pay for this, the cafes outside are more welcoming and comfortable, ah but you don’t get the one free drink. Oh and there’s no food.

Colourful ninja dessert.

To top it all the lounge is land side rather than Airside. Stupidity abounds.

Like a young lager lout on a booze trip to Amsterdam it’s 09:00 and I’m drinking beer already. Forgive me oh Flying Spaghetti Monster for I have egregiously sinned.

Wendy’s done the smart thing and gone shopping. She did ask me if I wanted to go. Such an enticing offer but I declined.

And they even say goodbye in style. No tips needed.

Flight was very comfortable despite the food screw up. Seats are very roomy and comfortable, but choice of films is dire. Give me Virgin Atlantic anytime.

Bretts at the airport to pick us up Thankfully tea tonight does not include fish but good old Shepards Pie. Proper food. And tomorrow night we’ll be celbrating with baked beans on toast. Enjoyed trying all the different foods, sadly missed Udon Noodles, but will be glad to get back to my junk food diet.

Go home with an overdose of omega 3 in me and like most Brits abroad still not knowing a word of the language, apart from the word for thank you – Arigatōgozaimashita, try remembering or saying that after a few beers, better stick with origami! Mind you I can recognise the Japanese symbol for Yen.
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Final thoughts on Japan

Waiting for the Narita Express.

Would I come again? Yes, absolutely but would not bother so much with Tokyo, apart from the new otani garden hotel which is amazing. Instead would explore Kyoto and other older towns with the benefit of a Japanese Rail, the trains are so convenient.

Would Wendy come again. Nah not now we’ve been.


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Narita Express.

I realise I might as well chalk pentagrams and stroke my toad as expect British airways not to screw up, again. On the way out they ran out of our chosen meal even though we’d ordered it online in advance. Yet again they’ve run out of our choice of meals despite there being only 9 people served before us. I have a major meltdown. We pay extra for premium economy and they can’t even get the meal right, so we end up eating a cattle class meal. I feel a serious complaint coming on. They log a complaint on their system and give us a bottle of champagne.

20191127 – Kyoto, Castles, Shrines, Temples and Adventurous Food


Wednesday

Golden Pavilion

There’s a queue for one of the two breakfast buffets in the hotel – no way. So go down to the gold room, it was worse than St Thomas primary school canteen, complete with greasy table clothes and non existent service. Go to complain and ask for a reserved table in the other breakfast room for the next 3 mornings. Manager has not arrived yet, still abed no doubt so they summon the restaurant manager. He has about as much English as I have Japanese. No he can’t reserve us a table to avoid queuing. No way is this 5 star service more like a Spanish 2 star. So we check out and cut short out 4 night stay. No way I am paying these prices for such service.

Hotels zen garden – not quite up to New Otani size.

Our new hotel seems a lot better. Rooms not quite as big but very tasteful and well equipped, you also get a feeling of quality, well staffed, good English and plenty of respectful bowing and scraping. Amazing it takes two to take us to our room. One shows the way and opens doors for us, the other carries the luggage.

Then we set off for a gruelling day of tourist attractions.

Hotel room

Start with a train towards Kinkaku-ji (golden pavilion) and rather than risk a bus we have some good exercise with a 30 minute walk. The Golden Pavilion is amazing, so many awesome vistas, just a pity there are so many tourists. We spoil everything.

Then we take a walk down to the Ryoan-ji, Buddhist temple for their World class Zen garden, on the way we pick up some lunch for Wendy and a coffee.

The Temple is pretty good but the Zen garden is a bit of a disappointment. Not really impressed with the master raker (not to be confused with a masterbator), it’s supposed t take 10 years to train but his patterns and depth were not what I expected. Could do better – please try harder.

Top world famous zen garden.

After over 9 miles walking we head back to the hotel. Tired and wary.

It’s amazing how many people are asleep on the trains. Must be working them to hard. Many iPhones dropped while nodding off.

Emperor of Japan passing by along with a Shinkansen.

More of the zen garden.

Still battling on with chopsticks. Think I’ve got the hang of it, can even pick up single grains of rice – good for the diet. Still struggle with how to cut large pieces. There is a market for razor sharp edged chopsticks.

Set off for dinner, Google leads us a merry dance down a load of dark lonesome back streets. Finally find our restaurant hidden in a hotel. Tonight’s tea is another Japanese buffet. Seems to be the best way of experiencing so many different dishes, mainly fish and then mainly raw. Must have tried about 30 different dishes.

Getting back to the hotel without the back streets requires us to cross the ginormous and complicated Kyoto station It’s a feat of daring, desperation and dead ends. Finally make it.
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QuickPath swipe keyboard on the iPhone is amazing, so much easier and quicker that normal typing. Just love it. If you haven’t tried it give it a go and you’ll soon be typing 120 words a minute.


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Grand Prince hotel Kyoto – Review1 star

Good – Royal floor lounge.

Spacious room.

Bad – so bad we voted with our feet

5 star prices but not 5 star, especially after 3 nights in Tokyo New Otani hotel.

Choice of queue for breakfast in one restaurant or the gold room. It was worse than St Thomas primary school canteen, complete with greasy table cloth and non existent service. We gave them the opportunity to put this right by reserving table at 07:30 but not prepared to do that so we cut short our 4 night stay and checked out. Had they put this right we would probably have stayed.

Hardly anyone spoke good English.

Not very well staffed.

Bed was rock hard.

Poor location at the end of a subway line way out. Yet Booking.com think it was a “great location”.

Infested with party of school kids.

Coffee table in the room had multiple cup rings and stains on, should have been a clue to what to expect.

No bottled water or towelling gowns in room.

Thursday

NIjo-Castle

New hotel is lovely but the bed is like sleeping on a concrete pavement. I suppose if you’re Japanese and used to sleeping on the floor with a brick for a pillow it must seem like a feather bed but not for us softie gaijin’s.

Breakfast is ok. But at least well served and pleasant.

More of Nijo-Castle

First trip is by train up to Nijo Castle, another UNESCO World Heritage site. Interesting and worth a visit.

Here we are drowning in culture and what does Wendy want to do she wants to go shopping, oh well each to their own.

Then we catch a train to the Shimogamo jinja shrine, yet another UNESCO site. Very colourful and not too crowded. By now we’re both pie fagged so catch the train down to Gion and end up in a massive food court for lunch and coffee.

Shimogamo Shrine

Then it’s a stroll around Gion and the Nishiki food market. It’s heaving and sells all imaginable delicacies, the majority of them raw or on skewers.

After wandering around Gion markets we go to Liptons tea house and the perverts serve tea with evaporated milk. They tell me that all there is. After kicking off big style we finally get some cold milk. No chance of cold skimmed milk.

Shimigomo shrine

Finally off down the backstreets of Gion to the Gion Tanto restaurant for the Okonomiyaki (savoury pancake) which is much thinner in Kyoto and jam-packed with fillings. The place is awesome; shoes off and put them in a quaint wooden locker; only room for about 15; either sit on floor or at the bar with a well for legs; hotplate and see the kitchen. I have the special, which is packed with every sea fish and creature of the deep along with a few meats of course – pretty good. Very cheap.

Head back home tired after another day of cultural excesses.

Dinner in the backstreets of Gion.

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Retired Star Wars fan who never had a light sabre.


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Friday

Guess who is the Geisha.

What what a lovely day we had around here, more temples and shrines than you can shake a stick at, you seem to trip up over one on every corner.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha

First stop is a train ride to the Fushimi Inari-Taisha shrine. With all those amazing gates that form long tunnels through the gardens. Sadly very crowded and spoilt by all us tourists. Well worth the visit and the photos just don’t say it all.

Then it’s off to the Kennin-ji shrine for a World famous zen garden. Sadly we could not really find the Zen garden as there were no signs in English. Turns out what we should really done is go into the temple and they were in the middle of the temple. Anyway included some pictures acquired from the internet so I can see what we missed.

That temple again.

At the Kodai-ji temple we enjoyed the gardens and saw what is reckoned to be one of the top to Zen garden in the world. I was totally devastated with the desecration, vandalism and the perversion that occurred. It seems that somebody has gone into the Zen garden with cans of spray paint and painted multicoloured patterns onto the gravel. How could anybody commit such crass sacrilege.

After trekking for miles amongst the crowds of fake geishas – it seems that all of Japan has come here to rent Kimonos and shuffle round – we have coffee and a quiche at the only cafe that seems to cater for our English taste. Not only thousands of fake geihas posing for pictures but can you believe even muslim geishas – I wonder how that reconciles with their little red book.

Desecration.

Gion is such a lovely lively area, yes it’s a bit too touristy in places and very crowded, but there is so much going on.

On our way back we pass the Yasaka shrine – really am shrined out by now so it just warrants a picture. Just one of the many.

One we missed.

For dinner we decide to go to a temppanyaki restaurant in the Gion area. It’s a highly recommended mom-and-pop restaurant, just 12 seats, very small very cosy and you can watch the chef preparing your meal. Yet again I have Okonomiyaki. But this time I just have beef and I have to say it was even better than last night’s. Wendy had shrimp and pork noodles which were also good. The chef and his wife were lovely, treated us like royalty and went out of their way to be polite and accommodating. They provided Japanese entertainment from YouTube while we were waiting, were interested in our tours of the temples and even offered us free tickets to the local temple which was lit up and open at night. Sadly we were so tired that we gave it a miss. And to top it all the food was very good and rare that I ever say this but also very cheap.

Dinner again in the backstreets of Gion.

Then it’s back to our hotel for some complimentary drinks in the bar. Pleasant end to yet another 9 mile tiring but awesome day.

Note to ourselves we really must avoid organised tours and make sure we do our own thing, it may be more exhausting but so much more fun.
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Pinchenko parler.

Amazing the subways have banisters at two heights to accommodate children.

There are even dedicated children’s toilets and staff of 1000’s to direct you down the platform.

The place is teaming with old Toyota taxis, but unlike the 20 year furry diced Nissans in Blackburn, they’re all in immaculate condition.

Sadly the majority seem to live like rats in a cage, high rise cramped conditions. Probably conditions are a factor in explaining their conforming psyche. Makes us appreciate Belthorn, but that’s not to say I’ll never complain about it again.

Another garden in To-Ji

Free complimentary drinks tickets each day if we don’t have a room serviceAmazed at the attention to detail. A Japanese worker gets on the train to set up new advertisement’s. Not only does he put up a new one with unerring precision but goes and adjusts an existing one by about 2mm because it’s out of line. Most people would not even notice the Misalignment.


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Saturday

To-ji

Start our last day in Kyoto with breakfast, checkout and then take a stroll to To-ji (at least that was easy to spell). Another UNESCO temple just 20 minutes away. Complete with 5 story pagoda. Really could do with some Brasso on the brass. The steps up to the Pagoda must be about 18″ high, how did they manage these steps with their little legs?

Then we trawl around the stores, including ToyRUs to try and find a model Shinkansen train. No luck.

One from the internet.

Finally pick our luggage up from the hotel and catch the Shinkansen back to Tokyo. Pass on the green car this time to see how the poor people cope. Amazed there really isn’t that much difference and it’s £200 reserved, instead of £270 reserved green car. Trains is full so a reserved seat was a good idea. Just 2 hours of comfortable travel, with Japan whisking by and we arrive in Tokyo.

Mount Fuji from the Shinkansen.

Have really enjoyed our 4 nights in Kyoto, so much to see and do especially enjoyed Gion area. Only two regrets, firstly we gave up on trying to find the zen garden in Kennin-ji (resorted to pictures from the internet) and secondly that we didn’t spend more nights there.

Check back in to the New Otani Garden hotel. Sheer luxury and the standard by which all future accommodation will be measured.

Our room back in the New Otani Garden Tokyo – the new standard by which all future hotels will be measured.

It’s a lazy dinner tonight, we try to find a couple of bento boxes but no luck. Then troll the main restaurant district with an agreement that if we can’t find anything it’l be the Wendy’s at the end of the street. Settle on a Wendy’s triple burger USA style and some spec boll and cheese burger for Wendy – really enjoyed some junk food. Then back to the hotel for a couple of cans of beer whilst we plan our remaining days in Tokyo and try and stay awake through The Crown.
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No litter, no dog muck, no dogs, no begging, no sleeping rough, no drunks, no smell of piss everywhere including the trains, no yobs with feet on seats, no yobs, no graffiti, no chewing gum and no spitting.

Guard bows and smiles every time he leaves the carriage.

Don’t you just love it. Shinkansen (bullet train) guard walks through, smartly dressed, complete with white gloves on, and bows and smiles to everyone as he leaves the carriage.


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View from hotel room at night.

Yet another attack from an Islamic jihadi there’s not a mention of the word Islam or would that be to presumptuous, islamophobic (not that such a word can really exist) or likely to offend some PC snowflakes. It really is about time we started talking about the real threats.

Let’s wake up to the reality and threat from Islam before it is too late.

20191123 – Bye, Bye Cruise, Hello Tokyo


Saturday

First stop the Apple Store.

Goodbye Celebrity; goodbye food; goodbye free drinks. Catch the shuttle bus to Yokohama station into Tokyo and then onto some unpronounceable station near the luxurious 5 star New Otani Hotel. Arrive wet and dishevelled only to be wiped down on arrival. Drop our luggage off and go get a really expensive coffee in the hotel – I suppose we’d better get used to it. All this luxury, bowing and scraping comes at a price.

Then as we’ve a few hour to pass before check in we catch the subway to the Apple store. By now I think we’ve mastered the subway.

Lounge area in our suite.

Apple store is heaving, even more so than in America. Find a red shirt that speaks excellent English and check out the new iPhone 11Pro. I can save nearly £300 on the UK price and to top it all they can deal with the tax refund. Walk out the proud owner of another new toy – us nerds have to keep up with the latest technology. Have to admit if Apple were to come out with a new cardboard box I think I’d be there queuing overnight for it.

Back to the hotel to check in, again much bowing and scraping. It turns out that our deluxe room also gives us Otani Club lounge membership, whatever that is. Luggage is carried up to our room by a tiny tot of a Japanese girl in smart uniform, complete with pillbox hat, very smart. I fear she will collapse under the load, but no she makes it. More bowing and scraping as we’re shown into our lovely suite. The bathroom alone is bigger than some hotel rooms I’ve stayed in.

Bedroom area.

After settling in we venture across the river and down a side street for dinner. Too much choice and most of it we haven’t a clue what it is. Settle on some skewers of under cooked chicken, grilled rice ball, sushi for me and various other offerings too numerous to remember. Will I wake up dead tomorrow?

Back to the hotel to enjoy our suite with a beer and to start watching The Crown. Thankfully no mediocre Celebrity showtime tonight.
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Towel wipe down when you arrive out of the rain into our hotel.

Dinner

Approach information desk and they both stand up to attention and even bow. How neat is that.

Elderly Gentlemen offers his seat to Wendy while two young whipper snappers continue to sit engrossed on their iPhone.

Easy travel with the pasmo card. Just a pity you have to reload with cash only.

Music on on zebra crossings.

The Otani Lounge club is great. We pop in any time and get a choice of tea, coffee or fruit juices and always served with a delicious chocolate cake and daily newspapers. Very relaxing.


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I hope not.


Sunday

View from our breakfast table.

Go down to breakfast in our white slippers from another hotel and we’re accosted by one of the staff of a 1,000 saying that hotel slippers are only for use in the room. Then they realised they were from another hotel, oh so that’s ok, you can pass.

Another important temple.

Start with an expensive breakfast but with an awesome view over the Japanese garden. The view alone was worth it. Then we have a stroll around this awesome Japanese garden in our hotel. It’s amazing.

Catch the metro to Shibuya to visit the Meiji-jingu Shrine. Shibuya station is unbelievable. Never seen so many people in one place. Walk up to the shrine. Impressive. Weddings galore. They seem to be marrying them off at the rate of one every 10 minutes. Each one led by some priest and entourage, they must be minting it. All very interesting with kids dressed in their beautifull kimonos for their 3rd, 5th and 7th inauguration of some sort.

Main temple entrance.

Then we try and visit the Nintendo store. Can you believe they are even queuing to go in the shopping Mall and then when you finally get to the Nintendo store admittance is only via ticket and no more are being issued that day – too busy, too easy money.

Wend our way back through the Sunday crowds to the station and the hotel.

Venture out again in the evening and finally find a buffet all you can eat restaurant. A tad expensive but you get such an amazing selection of different Japanese foods – well worth it.

If the Japanese are so clever how come they didn’t invent the knife and fork?

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Yet another wedding.

I see the pope wants to stop spending on nuclear weapons and spend it on the poor. All very laudable. Yet we have a conclave of about 10 cardinals, red skull cap geezers, staying in this luxury 5 star gin palace of a hotel. Surely if they’re serious about the poor they could stay with local parishioners who would no doubt be delighted to put them up for the night.


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Stupidity (Baka) Today

KIds getting blessed in their Kimonos.

Metro signs – it seems that the subway don’t want to admit that the JR line exists and vice versa. Stuff the poor unsuspecting customer. If you’re in the subway looking for a train line and it happens to be a JR line then there’s no mention of it and vice versa. Moral to that story is either vote with your feet at such poor customer care and walk, or if you can’t see the line in the subway then head for JR lines, while if you can’t see the line in the JR section head for subway or metro.


Monday

Nintendo store.

After a leisurely breakfast overlooking that awesome Japanese garden in our hotel, we set off to Tokyo station to pick up the hop on off bus tour. Not very impressive. Wendy rated it as the most boring bus tour this century.

Have a stroll down to the Bic Camera store, an amazing 7 floors of technology.

Lunch is a sandwich and drink from Starbucks before we catch the blue bus route. Slightly better than the red route.

I think Wendy expected them to drive into each famous land mark. She’s being a bit harsh, miraculously I don’t think either is that bad. Just gave us an overview of a big city, mainly full of high rise buildings. What can you expect.

Can’t believe I walked past an Apple store without noticing it.

Get to Shinjuku station and this Japanese geezer comes up to us and starts rattling away in Japanese and shakes a box under my nose. I ask him “do I look like I speak Japanese”. The clues in my Caucasian looks. Looks like he’s collecting for animals. Not one of my favourite charities.

Finally find a cafe for afternoon tea. Amazing how you can never find one when you need one. Anyway excellent choice as they even do Assam tea, and with boiling water. Best cuppa we’ve had since arriving in Tokyo.

Dinner Sunday night.

Find the Zauo Fish restaurant hidden away in a hotel.

Issued with a fishing rod and then a rather rotund Japanese young man puts some scrawny bait on my hook and point to the sea bream and away I go. Soon catch one, even if it is a tad on the scrawny side. Decide on having it cooked 50% boiled and 50% fried – not sure if there is really enough of it to do half and half. Then spend a good 10 minutes trying to find someone who speaks a modicum of English – no chance. So no idea what comes with our freshly cooked fish – answer when it turns up is not much. I order a portion of Sushi raw fish, 6 different types, whilst Wendy goes for sea bream kamameshi – get it cheaper because we have to cook it ourselves.

Bic Camera store.

Finally get back to the hotel after a long day and there’s 13 bods, 7 with red light sabres and 6 meeter and greeters on the entrance to the hotel. Bloody hell just sack half of them and Room rates could be slashed. This country really is the ultimate in job creation.

After fishing and scoffing raw fish we get back to our room after another exhausting day. There’s a note from housekeeping apologising for a problem and asking us to ring housekeeping. Ring them and they’re most apologetic but one of the two sinks is blocked and can’t be fixed today. Want to move us to another room. Most apologetic. Tell them we’ll struggle by and manage with just one sink.

Google maps is amazing. Tells you train station, time, platform, least crowded car and map guidance for walking. Only downside is that initial direction orientation can be awkward.
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Catching our tea – Sea Bream.

People walk on the left consistently. Apparently this is because the samurai usually would wear a sword on their left side because it makes drawing it with the right hand easier. It’s said that the streets were way more narrow than they are today, so when the samurai walked on the right side with their swords tied on the inside, they would collide against one another.

Well the one good thing about chop sticks is that you won’t get fat with them. Then of course the raw fish just helps with the starvation.

Amazed how smartly dressed the Japanese tend to be, men in suits, complete with a tie, and women in dresses or skirts. But there really is an opportunity for a tie tying school, they are hopeless at getting a good knot.


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Waiting patiently for her tea to cook.

I really want to buy some of these surgical masks, especially one of the bad ass black ones, and go into the Nat West with one on. Then when challenged I’ll claim I’m a member of a fundamentalist sect of the religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and this is my daily wear.

Catch of the day.


Tuesday

Bullet train to Kyoto.

But the blocked sink saga didn’t end last night. On check out I’m told the housekeeping manager would like to see me. OMG what have we done? Don’t tell me he’s found out we used one of the sinks with our shoes on! He comes up to me, bows not just any old bow, but a deep one and apologised profusely for the problem. I tell you at any moment I think he’s going to bring a sword out and commit hari-kiri.

Another deep bow and away he goes. Then he returns and hovers waiting for me to finish check out, then another deep bow and hands over a carrier bag with a gift wrapped box of cakes in as an apology. How neat is that.

On board bullet train.

Find our Shinkansen (bullet train), with reserved seats in the green car (first class). Immaculate and 6MB Wi-Fi, I don’t think I’ll ever get off.

Two hours to Kyoto. Amazing they seem to run about every 20 minutes and of course they are fastidious in there timeliness.

Check into grand prince hotel in Kyoto. All very nice but not quite up to the new otani standards. We have access to the royal floor lounge, similar to the access we had to the Otani lounge, only this one has free booze and cakes all day and evening.

As the countryside flashes by.

In the evening we check into the royal floor lounge for beer, prosecco and bourbon. Then tonight’s feast is beer and a selection of bento boxes from the local supermarket. Cost us all of £10 and we even got free chopsticks.

Then some more of The Crown. Well the pillows may not be bricks but the bed is rock hard – I suppose if you sleep on a Japanese floor you would find it quite soft.

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Even the toilet on the bullet train requires the skills of a high priest of technology to operate. Just love this sign that tries to stop 7th century rag heads from squatting on the seat.


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Hotel bedroom.

A Populous Poll from 2006 showed that 12 percent of Muslims in Britain believe that suicide attacks against civilians in Britain can be justified and 1 in 4 support suicide attacks against British troops.

In 2007, the Pew Research Center conducted a poll which found that 26 percent of younger Muslims in America believe suicide bombings are justified. 42 percent in France.

Hotel garden.

With these figures it’s hard to settle for the common quip of “Islam is peaceful.”

Looking at just the United States, which has an estimated Muslim population of five to 12 million according to Frontline, that’s still over a million Muslims (even taken from 26 percent of the lower estimate of five million) who statistically believe suicide bombings are justified. Granted, this number is taken from the 2007 percentages and I’m highly skeptical of such a high number, but it’s still quite telling.


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Stupidity (Baka) Today

Free bar.

Slippery trays in the restaurant so your glass and cup slide all over them.

Japanese, English and German QR codes too close together, so it is virtually impossible to select the one you want. If the numpty who positioned them had only tried using them he or she would have realised what a plonker he was.

Bento box feast for dinner.

Delicate chocolate cake sealed in a wrapper you need a chainsaw to open, by which time it’s just mush. Does no one ever try out their creations to realise how stupid they are.

Hotel garden at night.

20191119 – Hairy Crabs, Gate Crash A Food Exhibition, Tea Ceremony And Cupanoodles Museum

Blog 1911 to 2211


Tuesday

Hakodate

Hairy crabs.

Well today we’re in Hakodate on yet another tour.

First we go to a fish market to ogle the hairy crabs and some not so hairy but live giant ones.

Then it’s the red brick warehouse, full of shops selling things you probably don’t want and certainly don’t need, where we’re told we’ve an hour to “enjoy the shopping”. Seems an oxymoron to have the word shopping and enjoy in the same sentence.

Then its lunch. Very Japanese stye with fish, fish and fish. They obviously know were coming as well as chopsticks they provide knifes, forks and even spoons, along with a box full of extra forks. Lunch was ok, not something you’d get fat on.

What a monster. Only £140 to buy.

Next we’re supposed to be catching a cable car up to an observation deck. But high winds mean it’s cancelled. So we’re off to a park and an observation tower. Should add a reminder that it’s freezing cold and we even get snow flurries. Neither the park nor the 300 metre high observation tower, complete with shops and cafe, are that stimulating. At least we manage to relax and have a coffee.

Not one of the better tours. Apart from the fish market which I found fascinating the whole tour was a tad disappointing.

Port in Hakodate.

This evening we’re thinking of going up to the cafe for dinner, but first check the main restaurant menu. Amazed that we find quite a good choice so stick with the main restaurant. In general we’ve found the menu choice to be rather bland but have to say whatever we’ve had has been excellent.

See Phil and Kim and do one of the game shows with them. Then it’s bourbon, coffee and brandy (this free drinks package is a nightmare – all that free booze). Watch the Elton John show, it’s not the really him.

Then early to bed as we have a 08:00 start tomorrow.

The last Samurai.


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Still in awe of how civilised Japan is. They’re all so friendly and so many speak English.

On the downside they do seem to have a bit of an issue with personal space.

A great place to visit if they just sort the language and writing to English they’ll have it made.


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It is not a “war on terror”—it is a war against an ideology that employs terror as one of many tools to advance itself. Second, the leaders and their foot soldiers who actually plan and perpetrate the terror are only one element of the enemy.


Wednesday

Aomori

Didn’t expect this.

A tad windy, force 7 / 40 knots, so we can’t dock. Spend all morning waiting for the wind to drop. Snow flurries and they’ve even built a snowman on deck.

Finally allowed to dock about 12:00. Decide to cancel our tour, don’t fancy 3 hours on a coach. Sadly will miss the pottery, sounded interesting.

Float museum, they were awesome.

Wendy has lunch In the cafe. Then we set off in a snowstorm to the museum of the Nebuta Matsuri parade, with all the amazingly colourful paper floats. It’s only a 20 minute walk. Costs us $5 each so we’ve saved $94 each on the ships tour. The museum is amazing, see pictures. Hands on opportunity to play the drum s and symbols. Really enjoyed it.

Wendy tries her hand at music – don’t give up the day job.

Called in at the tourist info centre, full of shops. Gate crashed a food exhibition. We do stand out a bit as we’re the only Caucasians and looks like it was a wholesale buy invite only. Like Costco on steroids, just so many samples. Nobody seemed to mind that we didn’t really belong, even sat and had a free coffee.

Then we pop upstairs have our photos taken with some Samurai, followed by watching a samurai sword dance. Followed by yet more photos. They’re all so friendly.

Stroll back to ship. It’s still freezing cold but at least the wind and snow have stopped.

Samurai dance.

What a great afternoon. Really reminds us that we should do our own thing rather than ships tours.

Evening meal is downstairs. Have to do a fly pass on our usual table as Groucho and good Russian internet brides are there. End up on a table with 4 Canadians and 3 Americans. They all hate trump apart from one American. Another American asks about BREXIT and trumps up that the problem was the Brexiters didn’t understand what they were voting for. Well that was like a red rag to a bull. Needless to say I ripped him another ahole and enlightened him on how rude and arrogant that was. Told him, somewhat brutally (he deserved it), we knew exactly what we were voting for, very similar to a lot of things you guys voted for in 1776.

Coffee and brandy in the lounge and then early to bed before I nod off and spill me brandy.


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Snowflakes transport.


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A rather boring park and it’s freezing.

Grateful to all the blobbies on board, they’re as numerous as dandruff ridden tea towels in Afghanistan, for constantly reminding me that I need to keep on top of my weight. All this food is just a constant temptation.

I know it’s a tad cruel to say it and totally non PC, so makes it all the better.


Thursday

Archery, not quite as I know it.

Lazy start to our second sea day as we don’t get up until 09:00. Breakfast is a tad crowded, but we cope.

No really a lot to do. Have a go at the indoor archery.

Wendy did some knitting whilst I played on the Internet. Then had afternoon tea, not to forget some wine, with our LA friends in their luxurious suite.

Dinner was flexible dinning with not the most stimulating of company.

Friday

Tea ceremony.

Meet up with the only Republican Tesla drivers in LA for a free day in Yokohama. No tour guide; no serenading; no being treat like a 6 year old. Sadly it’s raining all day . Catch the free shuttle to the main train station and then are escalated along to the Park Royal Hotel, highest in Yokohama and fastest lift in the World. Start our day by doing a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony on the 65th floor. No Typhoo quick brew tea bags here. All very formal, sedate and proper. Green tea is not too bad, a tad fishy for my liking, but quite an experience – see pictures. Mind you us geriatrics can’t sit cross legged or on our knees too good.

All bow.

Then we make our way to the Cupanoodles museum. Just can’t believe that such a big building can be dedicated to cup noodles. Along with mainly Japanese children, hardly and an adult or caucasian in site, we get to colour own cup noodle cup and then get to fill it with fillings of our choice. Sadly the make your own noodles activity was all booked up. What a laugh we all had.

Then we have a chinese lunch. Seemed a bit bizarre to me going for a Chinese in Japan but that was the majority decision.

Cupanoodle making.

Swiftly followed by a shopping expedition to the Red Brick Warehouse. Phil and I cop out and go for a coffee.

Then back to the ship. Where Wendy gets the packing done while I while away my time on the Internet.

Dinner tonight is with 2 Brits and 2 Americans who we’ve encountered before. Typical the Brits a Southern soft and of course voted remain. We have an interesting, yet sensible and well mannered, discussion on the merits of leaving and project fear.

Finally meet up for drinks with our LA friends. Wendy gets to sample too many Martini’s. She’ll pay for it tomorrow no doubt. Say our final goodbyes and look forward to them visiting us in Park City and us going to LA.

What bunch of nerds.



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How to gate crash a food exhibition.

If any bleeding heart remainer out there says it’s us geriatrics that are ruining their future then think on this.

We’re rapidly decomposing – as we wake every morning we’re reminded of this – yet the benefits of BREXIT are greater for the future of my kids and grandkids. Because we ain’t go so long before we kick the bucket we’d probably be vastly better off remaining. With our gypsy lifestyle currency fluctuations under BREXIT will probably make us worse off. But it’s the long term, probably when we’re pushing up daisies, that we’re thinking about with our decision.

20191115 – Volcanoes, Gardens, Sea Day And Korea (South That Is)


Friday

Kagoshima

That Pompei moment. That’s no backdrop. It’s real, spewing out hot ash.

Well today’s sharabang takes us to an Arimura observation platform of an active volcano on Sakurajima. I thought we were going to an observatory at the rim. Turns out we go to an observation platform in the lava field. At least it’s active and get some spectacular photos and video of giant ash clouds spewing out. Sadly no hot lava spewing forth. Every where Is covered in dust.

On the ferry to the volcano.

If our squeaky pigeon English tour guide mentions the word samurai or shogun any more I will not be responsible for my actions. Thankfully she is not giggling and so far has resisted serenading us. 

Well worth the visit to the volcano just to experience close up the giant ash cloud spewing up.

Volcano again.

Then we’re off to the Shoko Shuseikan Museum. Quick wander round avoiding the mind numbing detail from our tour guide. Amazing to see some sort of press made by Platt’s in Oldham. Not really worth a visit.

Escape to Sengan-en garden, designed by a Samurai Lord. Now this is more up my street. Quite impressive but alas no Zen garden. Have a coffee and tea in the cafe along with some stoggy rice cake on a stick and some other fried rice cake with black bits in it. Browsing the store is a bit like Costco. Loads of free samples.

In the evening we get landed yet again on a table with the rude bores from Michigan, Groucho and his Russian wife, internet bride I think. Groucho is so boring his mindless monotone monologue will grind you into a coma before he reaches his first full stop.She has all the charm and interpersonal skills of a wild boar with toothache, while he just interrupts and chunners on about nothing in particular. If we encounter them again we’re leaving.

Meet up with our new found friends from LA for drinks and the show. We thought it was a full blown Cirque du Solei. Turns out it’s Duo de Solei, a couple of acrobats. Very agile and impressive. She’s certainly fit, can bend like a pretzel, and is just wearing a provocative costume to help keep the men awake. Any minute now there could be a costume failure. Not quite what we were expecting though.
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Our first Japanese garden. First of many I hope. Sad!

More delights of the Japanese way of life:

Hotel wifi is 90MB, sort of place you’d have to prize me out of.

Interesting but all our female tour, irrespective of age, seem obsessed with good looking males. Every one of them has weaved some saga on handsome males, into their spiel.

Today’s Japanese trivia – the colour red drives away evil spirits.

Very aware you’re in a minority, but the Japanese all seem very helpful and don’t resent you. Amazed how many speak English.

A lot of Japanese women seem to shuffle along flat footed. Then you have the pretty youngsters dressed in trendy clothes yet wearing high black Doc Martin style clod hoppers – bizarre.

Haven’t seen any perambulating bin liners with slits in them roving around like Daleks. But you do get the white surgical masks – “what pretty eyes”. The black surgical masks can be a bit more intimidating..

Job creation in Japan beats the USA. For example a car park with hardly any cars yet 7 directing non existent traffic. Lollipop men everywhere waving you to safety with their red light sabres.


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Green New Deal Aims to ‘Fully Get Rid of Farting Cows and Airplanes’ — Eventually


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More garden.

Every time Europeans accommodate Islamic demands to conform to Islamic law, culture, or tradition, a chip of European culture is eroded—there is a bit less democracy, freedom, enlightenment, and Judeo-Christian values.

An old Arabian proverb says: “If the camel gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.”

Europeans are waking up to the new reality. They no longer live in Europe. They live in Eurabia where Muslims are getting the upper hand:


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I know it’s a first World problem but why in the name of the FSM have we been inflicted with this need to constantly accept cookie policies every time we go to a web page? Does anyone ever stop and read the inane T&C’s?


Saturday

Fukuoka

Remember him? Seems he emigrated to Japan. Probably was politically incorrect and offended a bunch of snowflakes.

Try pronouncing that after a few beers.

Yeah, no tours booked today in Fukuoka, so no squeaky pigeon English; no being serenaded by a failed Karaoke entrant; no mention of Samurai or Shoguns; no temples; no shrines.

Lazy morning doing blogs and battling with the internet. My Internet been restored to full LTE capacity. Amazing a few days ago I couldn’t get my iCloud photos to synch and today, because I don’t want to risk busting my so-called UNLIMITED data limit, I just can’t stop the photo’s from synching.

No we’re not in Australia.

Ship docks at lunch time so we meet up with the only Republicans in LA for a ferry ride to Uminonakamichi Seaside Park. It’s like a poor mans Disney, really unspoilt, plenty of open spaces, a small zoo and gardens. After 6 days of Wallace Arnold geriatric tours I’d settle for anything under our own steam. Even a trip to the local re-cycling plant would be welcomed, so low expectations for todays jaunt.

Really pleasant 4 hours just strolling around, enjoying the lovely sunshine and good company. Had a great time. Amazed how relatively easy it all was and how many spoke English. We really should have done more of our own thing, but we’ve got that to look forward to in Tokyo and Kyoto.

He looks friendly.

Then it’s the ferry back to the ship and off to dinner, hopefully not with Groucho and his Internet Russian bride. Yeah, no Groucho or rabid plastic recycling greens. And for a perfect end to a great day our Sommelier has finally summoned up a bottle of Carmenera for me. I have to say her and all service is excellent, my glass is never empty. Must have drank the whole bottle.

Cafe for after dinner espresso and then early to bed. So tired I didn’t even manage to finish my Brandy.

How romantic!



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They get everywhere.


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Brexit: Why Britain Left the European Union


Sunday

Busan – South Korea

South Korea.

Wot no Rocket Man.

Up and out at the crack of sparrows on a tour to the Orukdo Skywalk. A tad disappointing. Not that long, not that high, so not that scary, and not that spectacular. Some picturesque little islands though.

Supposedly a Sky Walk – not very terrifying or impressive.

Then it’s a 50 minute drive to the Tongdosa Budhist Temple. Quite impressive and worth a visit, but very busy.

Buddhism just another one of those wacky religion, but seems relatively harmless. Has some really good common sense beliefs:

 Don’t be stupid – well that rules out any politicians
Don’t be angry – does that still apply when dealing with computers or web sites?
Don’t be greedy – again excludes politicians

No Wi-Fi today. How will I survive. Well at least on the coach we’re not serenaded by the tour guide, instead we have our ears battered by the repetitive chants of Buddhist monks.

Another Buddhist temple. At least this ones in Korea.

Just have a few minutes on our Lightning schedule for a coffee, plum tea – soo sweet – and Korean walnut cake – with a walnut filling that hot that it clings to the roof of your mouth like napalm.

Back on board ship for lunch. Then around mid afternoon we go to the only Republicans in LA suite for wine and champagne. Sweets are very light and roomy. Now Wendy thinks that is how we should always travel – another great way to fritters away the kids inheritance.

Cheerful folk.

For dinner we manage to avoid Groucho and have a reasonably convivial table of 6.

We were going to go to the show for a snooze but ended up retiring early after a couple of excellent brandies.

A grave yard.



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“We want our priorities funded and one of the biggest priorities during the campaign was border security, keeping Americans safe, and part of that was a border wall,” he said.
“We still don’t understand why the Democrats are so wholeheartedly against it. They voted for it in 2006. Then-Sen. Obama voted for it. Sen. Schumer voted for it. Sen. Clinton voted for it. So we don’t understand why Democrats are now playing politics just because Donald Trump is in office.”


Monday

Sea Day

Islands in Busan.

Yeah, our first sea day. A lie in. A lazy day.

Navigation deck tour.

Captains makes his daily 10:00 announcement. I think it’s full of useless information such as precise longitude and latitude, problem is understanding a worda thisa mana saysa. I’m sure we all look forward to his daily pronunciations. He should share a dinner table with Groucho.

Well we’ve not seen any news from the Times or the Wall Street Journal for days now. It’s a bit like being on the dark side of the moon, but I’m certainly not fretting over the news blackout. It’s quite refreshing, although I miss the Internet for fact finding etc.

They don’t let you steer.

Lazy day around the ship, no internet and very little in the way of stimulating things to do or lectures.

End up going on a free Bridge tour courtesy of Phil as they have two free tours but Kim is not interested. Very interesting. That desperate we even end up going to a Trivia quiz.

In the evening we go with Phil and Kim to the Tuscany restaurant, one of the speciality, empty my wallet restaurants. Have to say the meal was excellent, Parmiani, lobster and superb steak. I’d certainly do that again

Then for entertainment we all do a His and Hers quiz. The men win.

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Just remember The glass is neither half-full nor half-empty: it’s twice as big as it needs to be.

20191111 – Cruise Japan


Monday

Osaka
Lazy start to the day as we don’t dock until 11:00. Mind you still up at the crack of sparrows in time for breakfast at 07:00. Still sleeping fitfully due to the jet lag.

First of many castles.

Sumptuous breakfast, with fruit – yes me eating healthy stuff – and Becher Museli.

Then it’s coffee on our balcony and blog time. My data SIM seems to work pretty well as we follow the coastline I have pretty good speed even on board at sea. Mind you as we approach Kobe and I could do with it, we loose connection.

Stairs inside were steep and high, don’t know how the little Japs managed them.

I think Apple must have declared bankruptcy as much to my excitement there’s even a small Apple store on board, mind you they’re never open, but at least I can peer in like a child outside a candy store.

Today we’re sampling the highlights of Osaka. First of many castles and shrines. I’m sure by the end of this trip we’ll be shrined out.

And now a shrine.

Castle is ok. More impressive from the outside than inside. At least the climb up 8 flights of stairs gets us some exercise.

Manage time for a rushed coffee and sandwich for Wendy, then it’s back on the coach off to a shrine.

These kids seemed to be Christened or whatever passes for it in Shinto.

The shrine is much more pleasant. Looks like there is a family christening with kids dressed to the nines in beautiful kimonos and costume. Volunteer to take family group photo for proud parents and doting grand parents. Never ceases to amaze what weird things people believe in but if it gives them solace what the hell, at least the Shinto religion don’t want to kill me, stone me to death or conquer the world. For me I’ll stick with a devotion to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

And some boys also.

It seems that not all toilets in Japan are high tech bottom scrubbers, there are some holes in the ground – obviously installed by the French.

To finish a busy day it’s afternoon tea in the lounge, entertained by a mini chamber orchestra. For me it’s a dirty chai, all convered by the drinks package.

Table for 6 tonight with two other geriatric couples. Wine flows and after dinner I try one of the Bourbons, not bad.

Talk about boring and confusing dinner guests. Couple A are talking about their trip to yet another castle whilst couple B were talking about there trip up a mountain. Nothing wrong with that other than each thought they were talking about the same thing. Confusing, but hilarious, after about 5 minutes they finally realise they’re both talking about different things. Get me out of here, beam me up, I’m too young, mind off a 16 year old it’s just that my bodies decomposing.

Japanese bridge with style.

Then we’re off to the evening show, yes even me, in fact I’m quite keen. it’s a performance by the World famous Kobe Taiko Drummers – see video. We’re sat on a front balcony row. 9 people in all but can you believe it that 5 of them are asleep, even through all that drumming. For once I manage to stay awake.
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More things to like in Japan:

All our tour guides (female) like to sing to us, it must be the karaoke in them. Whilst their voices are not necessarily going to win them a place on X Factor, you have to respect them for trying to entertain us.

I just love the way they hand anything over to you Double Handed. It just oozes respect and seems filled with a happy politeness.

Even though they have awesome dexterity with chop sticks, able to pick up a single grain of rice, they’re also capable of using knife and fork simultaneously.

Again so clean, orderly and civilised nobody would even dream of jaywalking. Apart that is from a half-witted American couple who nearly get themselves impaled on a shiny Toyota symbol in a place where the sun doesn’t shine.

You don’t see any blobby Japanese, must be all that raw fish. The only blobbies are foreigners.


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Is this the idea of a pillow in Japan, slightly more comfortable than a brick.


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Another day another castle.

Remember the piggy bank? For most children in Western cultures, the piggy bank is their first savings plan. Scratch that for the children of England, thanks to Salim Mulla, secretary of the Lancashire Council of Mosques. “Muslims do not eat pork, as Islamic culture deems the pig to be an impure animal.” 20 In an effort not to offend Muslims the Bank of Halifax and NatWest were the first to ban piggy banks from their premises. Mulla went on to say, “This is a sensitive issue and I think the banks are simply being courteous to their customers.”


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And there’s more.

UNI professors have been told to avoid saying “as you know” in lectures over fears “snowflake” students could feel inadequate, it was revealed today.

At a meeting of Bath University’s equality and diversity network, members were warned it might cause some students to feel dimmer than others if they did not realise what was being referred to.


Tuesday

Kobe

Family portrait. Note my smile.


Another Wallace Arnold tour. What the he’ll are we doing on this Wallace Arnold tour for geriatrics, treated like a simpering simpleton; I’m too young; I can’t cope; let me out.

This time we set off for a ride on a funicular up to the observatory overlooking Kobe. Well they keep calling it an observatory but it’s more like an observation platform. Great views over Kobe and the sea though.

Overlooking the sea.

Then we’re off down to a Sake museum. Interesting video on Sake making on days gone by. My was it labour intensive. Enough to put you off drinking for life. Lots of interesting exhibits and of course a shop at the end of it all. Although to be fair to them you could escape without being forced through the shop. Wendy couldn’t resist buying the plum Liquid sugar.

The first process in Sake making is to polish the rice. Now I know the Japanese are small but where the hell do they get people small enough to polish rice?

Then it’s back to the ship for Wendy’s lunch.

Just resting a the observatory.

Thankfully a restful afternoon sat on balcony doing my blog, minding my own business and Wendy’s doing some knitting. Along sails a boat full of Japanese tourist’s, all gawking in at our floating gin palace. The Victor Meldrew in me is not amused and refuses to wave back or smile for all the clicking Nikons.

In the evening we meet up with our new found American friends, the only Republican’s in LA, well I assume they’re of that inclination from our conversations.

Sake museum. Of course Wendy had to buy some Plum Sake.

We have dinner at the Le Petit Chef an animation themed restaurant where you see the cartoon chef make your meal on the plate – see video, it’s easier than trying to explain it. It’s really awesome. What a creative idea, the kids would really love it. Amazing wealth creating idea.

At last I find a bottle of Carmenera, pretty good it is too and they keep it flowing.

Then it’s to the Yes / No game, where Kim chances her luck. Finally down to the theatre for an illusionists show, which in time honoured fashion I nod off through.

A great evening with our new found friends Phil and Kim.

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Is this what your kids do with you?


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Waving us goodbye.

Islam is a revolutionary faith that comes to destroy any government made by man. Islam doesn’t look for a nation to be in a better condition than another nation. Islam doesn’t care about the land or who owns the land. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power that gets in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy. In order to fulfill that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution. This is jihad.”


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The problem with socialism is that you always run out of other people’s money.


Wednesday

Kochi

Our first and I’m sure not our last Budhist temple.

First tour today is to a Buddhist temple. All very interesting, even have Shinto shrines in the ground. Two for the price off one. Steps are steep and rocky. I’m sure the hospital and ambulance must pay them to keep them that way, helps drum up trade.

Wendy starts taking her shoes off to go into one of the inner sanctums, within a second, and out of nowhere, a women descends on her shouting ticket, ticket. That’s what happens when your signs are only in Japanese.

A lantern. There are millions of them.

Shinto believes every thing has a spirit in it, including rocks, trees and any thing. The bigger the object the bigger the spirit. I’ll stick with the Flying Spaghetti Monster, seems equally implausible, but at least there’s a beer volcano and a stripper factory in FSM heaven.

Oh just up Wendy’s street we go to an indoor market for a browse around and a lunch opportunity. Wendy tries the save option when it comes to food, pork noodles but then again was it pork, after all there was a picture of a cat on the front!

Wendy trying to get in the Temple. They’re having none of it.

Then it’s off to get another castle. More steps than jihadis in Syria and some of those steps are so tall. No idea how those little Japanese ever managed them.

Toilets are a major trek away, hidden down the bottom of a hill. At least they don’t call them conveniences. I bet the gift shop more easy to get to.

Wendy tries chop sticks. Not very successful, she’ll probably starve over the last two weeks.

Final destination is some beach to see a statue of a prominent war lord geezer. Beach is oh so grey but has the advantage of yet another small shrine – joy.

By the time we get back to the ship we’ve done 5 miles and over my magic 640 calorie limit – so that’s enough for a whole bottle of red wine tonight.

Yet another bridge.

Well I always thought the Japanese were experts at copying other countries products, but it seems when it comes to handrails they just couldn’t crack that idea. Certainly the castle and the Buddhist temple could do with some handrails to assist the less sure footed escapee’s from the Wallace Arnold bus tours.

Amazing isn’t it, I buy a 30 day unlimited data SIM for japan and it even works out at sea as we’re relatively close to the shoreline. My Photo Library gets corrupted so I have to rebuild it from iCloud. 10 gigabytes later and it’s rebuilt, sadly without the album structure, but worse still I’ve now been throttled back on speed to a blistering dial up modem speed of 256K.

So it’s a series of emails to Sakura pointing out that their web site says “No limitation whatsoever”.

Oh it’s probably because the telecom company have detected runaway usage. Normal service should be resumed Saturday. Needless to say they haven’t heard the last of this. Every dog has his day when it comes to review time.

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Politically incorrect 1970s TV series such as Love Thy Neighbour and Till Death Us Do Part have been left off the new BBC-ITV rival to Netflix because they are deemed unsuitable for modern audiences.


Thursday

Hiroshima

The famous gate shrouded in plastic and scaffolding.

Start our Wallace Arnold Geriatric Experience with a bus and then ferry ride to Miyajima. This tour has to be one of the most expensive and at 7 hours I wonder whether we’ll have the endurance to last that long, but it was the only one that did the Atomic Bomb Dome and Miyajima. A certain Anna had told us that we absolutely shouldn’t miss Miyajima so here we are. She’d better be right.

Shrine.

Well it’s yet another shrine (a UNESCO World Heritage site) with the Torii Gates appearing to float in the sea. One of the most iconic pictures of Japan. Just our luck the gateway is covered in scaffolding and plastic as it’s being repainted. The rest of the place is interesting though but sadly we’re frog marched through so don’t have time to linger and enjoy it. A great pity. But at least Anna was right.

Then it’s back to ferry and bus to head to the restaurant for a Western (sadly) lunch in a 5 star hotel. Ideally we wouldn’t want to eat on one of these meals for the masses, but again it was this the only way to do these places.

Meal was very good and not too big.

Bridge to shrine.

After lunch we set off for the Atomic Bomb Dome, followed by the Peace Memorial Park and the Museum. Our guide speaks excellent English, we can even understand him and gives us very informative and relevant commentary on all the places. Quite a sad place really. Then we go to the museum. It’s an awful place. Packed like sardines, carried along at a snail pace, through the rug rat infested narrow corridors of exhibits. Just so glad to get out. A real shame as there was some interesting exhibits and we could have leisurely lingered longer had it been less crowded.

Guardian of the shrine.

Back to the boat / ship, never know what to call it, for a quick turnaround and down to dinner. Risk what we now call the geriatrics from hell table one more time. At least one American couple are vibrant and interesting, unlike the other mind numbingly boring American couple who can’t even be bothered to wait for everyone to be seated before ordering.

Try the show. It’s a Motown singer so Wendy should enjoy it. I put myself to sleep to avoid the agony. Even Wendy gives up after 10 minutes and wants to go to bed rather than listen to this.

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“We are all born ignorant, but one must
work hard to remain stupid”  Ben Franklin


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Pagoda.

Tax office send me an email telling me my estimated income tax has changed. This is just yet another insult to common sense.

Firstly have to log in and can I find this revised estimate.

They send a confirmation code to my phone see below:

60886
Your Government Gateway access code is 999545. Your code expires in 15 minutes.

I wonder how many people use 60886. What is the point of it, just begs for confusion.

Wendy rings the bell.

Never mind I’ll check what my tax code is now. Seems fairly fundamental. Can I find my current tax code anywhere.

Finally find the estimate summary. My tax codes not changed so my payment won’t change. And to top it all there’s no estimate anyway. Beggars believe.

If I thought there was anyone with a skerrick of common sense I’d complain.

Hiroshima.


Hiroshima.


Hiroshima


Shadow of a women burnt into stone by the blast.

20191107 – Japan


Wednesday

Drive to Brett’s
Set off down to Ascot to stay at Bretts overnight.

Only an 8 minute delay, no real hold up. Have I been teleported into some alternate parallel universe? Am I still in Britain?

I suffered with the squitters and was shouting for Huey and Ruth last night, but bizarrely saw no diced carrots. Today is 24 hours starvation. This is what happen when you have little grandchildren milling around. They’re just walking germ factories. Mind you 3 days with no alcohol is probably also a major factor.

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Oh yes please. Let’s have a grand clear out. Guy Fawkes had the right idea.


Thursday

Heathrow off to the Land of the Rising Sun
After a good nights sleep I’m feeling better, but still going to keep off food and alcohol for another 24 hours.

Brett runs us to the airport.

We’re flying from Heathrow terminal 5 and I have to say the check in and security screening is some of the slickest I’ve experienced, even though they had to pat me down.

BA flight in Premium Economy is pretty comfortable but 11 hours with no food or booze is purgatory. To make it even more dire the choice of films has obviously been made by an escaped Chinese paedophile. Fortunately manage to get some sleep.

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Stupidity Today – I decide to be a paragon of high tech devotion by checking in online, even using the boarding card via my iPhone and thereby do my bit for the planet, saving a whole oak tree. Guess what the idiot machine doesn’t work. Common problem says the very helpful assistant “you just have to enlarge the bar code”.

I’m sure by now you know my retort “well why don’t they send it ready enlarged one the email?”.


Friday

Yokohama

I’m ashamed. All this awesome looking food and I resort to this. Not my usual approach to foreign travel.
I’ll try anything once, but my head in a toilet bowl has temporarily limited my horizons.

Arrive at Haneda airport in Tokyo 20 minutes in early. Despite having split our clothes across two suitcases in case BA loose a bag – they do tend to excel at loosing bags – both bags arrive. Customs and immigration is one of the slickest ever accounted. So fast that then we have to wait nearly 20 minutes for our luggage.

Our hotel. It’s the tallest one.

Pick up my unlimited data SIM from the arrivals hall and went over to the desk to buy a No 8 bus ticket to the Hotel – all pretty efficient. Saves £60 on a taxi. Bus arrives on time and sets off at 08:40 precisely, not at 1 second before, not even 1 second late, but spot on 08:40. Just one of the many awesome features of Japan.

Daytime view from our 62nd floor bedroom.

Drive into Yokohama was interesting pass through all the new industries and then you pass the old rusty, decaying and obsolete smoke stack industries.

Bus arrives at the hotel ahead of time. It’s the Yokohama Royal park hotel 5 star, the tallest building in Yokohama. Fastest lift in the world.

More bedroom views.

I passed on the breakfast on the plane – full English no less, and it looked pretty good – as part of my starvation, but now it’s time for some food. I think perhaps I’m pregnant as I have a real yearning for a MacDonald Egg MacMuffin.

Not exactly a recommended light meal to recover from a failed attempt by Wendy to poison me, but it’s what I want.

Old dry dock in front of the hotel- now a feature.

Within 4 minutes from the hotel we’ve found a Macad’s. It goes down a treat and is served on a tasty sweet bun.

Night time view of the hotel. Bugger me we’ve left our bedroom light on!

By now it’s only 10:00 and the room’s not ready but for an extortionate fee they can somehow miraculously summon up a room for us. You’d think for the price that this hotel is extorting they could be a tad more accommodating. We’re pretty tired so stump up the extra – it’s just the kids inheritance anyway.

Have a well deserved 3 hour nap – I know a violation of my 3rd law of retirement.
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Impressions of Japan

Light flower display, constant changing colours.

Yokohama – awesome, rad, gnarly – civilisation on steroids, this is how it should be done. After this no chance I’ll ever go to some 3rd world cesspit.

Pictures give the awesome views day and night from our room. It’s the tallest tower in Yokohama and we’re on the 62nd floor. Needless to say Wendy overcame her fear of lifts. Fastest lift in the World apparently.

No litter, graffiti or dog muck, mind you not seen any dogs yet.

Laser light, music and public frolicking in the park.

Just love the smiling, bowing and politeness. Expected it to be obsequis and sickening, but no it’s pleasant and reminds you to smile. Really love the way they hand everything over to you with a slight bow and double handed.

Night time view from our bedroom window.

Realised that even in Japan in a 5 star we wouldn’t be sleeping on the floor but did expect a brick for a pillow. Instead it was the softest pillow – and I like soft pillows – I’d ever encountered, no need to drill a hole or channel to fit my ears in.

Oh so civilised just need to sort language, mind you to be fair most speak English, even in MacD’s.


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Saturday

Yokohama to board cruise

Oh no not another shopping mall and all ready for Christmas, don’t you know.

Good early breakfast. Mainly Western with some tempting tastes of the orient. See the Japanese Monks eating salted plums so give them a try. Must be some sort of punishment for their sins, the worst taste ever, I’d rather chomp on nettles.

Hotel Wi-fi was a blistering 90mb. I think I must have died and gone to Flying Spaghetti Monster

Old sail boat outside our hotel. Thank the FSM we’re not travelling on it.

Have a stroll to try and buy a few essential for the cruise. Then get a taxi to the Celebrity Millennium. Lightning quick and efficient check in. Amazed and impressed, a very rare occurrence for me these days.

Champagne to greet us. How am I going to cope with 24*7 free drinks?

Lazy afternoon.

Finally on board.



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Sunday

Shimizu for Mount Fuji and Mount Hakone

Mount Fuji from top of Mount Hanoken.

Dinner last night was on a table for 6. Ok but not really a very stimulating bunch. At least they all spoke English. Free drinks package was good though, the wine flowed freely, topped up regularly by the Eastern European surly sommelier. Even had to refuse the last top up.

After a great breakfast we dash off on our first Wallace Arnold tour for geraitrics, mentally infirm and weak bladdered moaners. Our tour guide is a giggly, squeaky and singing Japanese lady who is chronically suffering from a severe dose of verbal diarrhoea. Absolute nightmare would be waking up with her screeching away on your pillow. But to be fair she did keep us entertained and she did epitomise my expectations of Japanese womanhood.

Mount Fuji backdrop. Yes, it is the real Mount Fuji in the background.

Two hour coach tour; then a pirate ship across a lake; followed by 30 minute queue to catch a cable car up to the top of Mount Hakone to view Mount Fuji. Great photo opportunity. We were really lucky with gorgeous sunshine and a clear view of Fuji, it can be covered in clouds 50% of the time. Then a pewk invoking one hour drive across the mountains. Just about survived without calling out for Huey and Ruth again. Two hours later we’re we warily board our floating gin palace. Was it all worth it?

Wendy was quite disappointed on today’s tour, she thought we were going to the top of Mount Fuji and not the top of Mount Hakone to take a photo of Fuji.

Met an interesting American couple. Must be the only Republicans in Los Angeles, good to know there are at least two.

Greeted at the port by a Japanese drum band, big, big drums, followed by a brass band.

Back on board we have speciality afternoon tea in one of the lounges, serenaded by guitars and a singer.

Dinner is again on a table for 6. Not a really exciting menu but food was good. Company left a bit to be desired, spoilt by southern softie snobs from oxford – majestic centre of the known universe, don’t you know. Really do prefer avoiding Brits at dinner, American’s or Canadian’s are much better dinner companions. Sad isn’t it.

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Equity has passed a motion that the phrase ‘Ladies & Gentlemen ‘ should not be used in theatres so as not to offend those who do not see themselves as either.

Perhaps we should adopt another activity recommended by the students at Oxford University, just a bunch of PC snowflakes, and greet the end of a theatre performance with ‘Jazz Hands’. I wonder how the praise-needy egos of the average bunch of luvvies would cope with complete (non threatening) silence.

20190911 – France, At The Caravan In Normandy

Well again there’s no daily blog on this trip. Instead I’ve just done the main photos from our French trip to the caravan in Normandy. Sadly in no particular order. France like America is now so much part of our daily life that we no longer really treat it as a holiday, just somewhere we go to live for a month or so each year. But my blogs important if just for an aide memoire of what we did. Through my blog that we can find out what we actually did. One of the problems when you can’t even remember what you had for breakfast and I’m sure when we’re sat in the old folks home, drooling and waiting for the grim reaper it’ll come in even more handy.

Here goes with a picture blog to remind us, no rants or raves, just pictures with some captions.

A semaphore station near Cap Levi on the Cherbourg peninsula. There’s a lot of them around.

Awesome coastal walk near Jobourg on the Cherbourg peninsular.

Coastal walk.

More of our coastal walk.

Granville on a grey day.


Harbour at Port Bail.


Relaxing with early morning coffee and papers. More depressing news from the treacherous clowns in the big chattering house. When will they do as they have been told and get us out?


And to see just how bad the weather can be click here –
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New blow up awning. Easy to blow up but you still have to crawl around for an hour trying to peg it out.


Call in to see Brett and Karine on the way back from France. Visit to Windsor Castle. Well worth it even if the staff are somewhat arrogant and truculent.


Sadly her majesty didn’t pop out to welcome us. Still going strong though. Heaven knows how she puts up with the treacherous self serving MP’s. She should sack the lot of them for failing to deliver what they were instructed to do by the public. They really do seem to have got above themselves and forgot democracy and that they are there to serve the people.


Windsor Castle.


St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.


If ever you go to St Georges Chapel just look at the exquisite minuscule wood carving under the chairs and around the pews. They’re called misericords and each tells a story.


Finally on the way home we make an awesome pilgrimage to the hallowed grounds of Bletchley Park. One of the birthplaces of computers and an enormous contribution to our 2nd World War effort, estimates reckon that their codebreaking efforts shortened the war by 2 years. Sadly did not get to see Colossus, but can look forward to that in a return visit – Wendy will be ecstatic.
Whilst the birthplace of modern computers with the rise of artificial intelligence and the approach of the singularity – when they’re finally smarter than us – will it also be seen as the birth place of the demise of the human race?


An Enigma Coding machine.


One of the original Bomb machines (early electro mechanical computer) used to help crack the Enigma codes.


Statue of Alan Turing, the genius who founded modern computing and so much more. Just pause a moment and consider how life would be without modern computers. Sadly he committed suicide at an early age. Who knows what else he would have gone on to develop.


Well France may be ok but paradise in the Fall just has such awesome colours. Has to be on my bucket list.

20190601 – Park City For Summer. Then A Wedding In St Louis

Well there’s no daily blog on this trip as I’m just too busy, so much to do. Just see my typical week here which helps explain how busy we are and why we love Park City so much.

A typical week for us in PC.


Plus I’ve managed to recapture the joy of reading, admittedly mostly non-fiction these days. Instead I’ve just done the main photos from our summer in Park City and then Paul and Mels wedding week in St Louis. Sadly in no particular order.

I realised how important my blog was to us when I tried to remember what we’d done last time we were in St Louis. It was only through my blog that we could find out what we’d actually done and all the photos were of. One of the problems when you can’t even remember what you had for breakfast.

Here goes with a picture blog to remind us of a most awesome summer, no rants or raves, just pictures with some captions.

Jasper just loved his Friday bowling session with the geriatrics from the Newcomers Club. Such enthusiasm inspired us all.


Early morning bike ride to the white barn with my daughter-in-law.


1812 Overture concert at Deer Valley outdoor venue, complete with real cannons and not forgetting picnic, approved low chairs and of course wine.


Oh she’s back again.

Introduce Jasper to all the fun of the Heber City Rodeo. Just love it.


Fiona gets her gun. Wait until you see her with an AR15.


Kayaking on the Jordanelle as a volunteer with the National Ability Centre


Hiking with our friends the Schmitts.


Leading a weekly Leisure Bike ride with the Park City Mountain Sports Club (PCMSC).


Dinner with good friends at an authentic American diner. Great food, awesome atmosphere and excellent company.


Bike ride with Mike down the Provo River trail. Awesome ride and spectacular views.


Another one of my many early morning bike rides with Fiona.


Hike to the top of the ski jump.


Olympic ski jump.


4th July parade. Just love how they respect their troops and veterans. Pity Englands forgot ours.


Target practice. Make my day.


Deer Valley free concert. Car park this week as the grass is too wet. Never mind we still have wine.


Jasper enjoys the free outdoor water park down at the Basin Recreation.


Leading a weekly leisure hike.


Best ribs in Salt Lake.


Pickleball every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon. Awesome game.


PCMSC 4th July Barbecue.


More Deer Valley concerts. This time in first class seats with Ruth and Mark.

View from the front.


Kayaking with Jasper.


Hiking with Kurt.


Jaspers first hike in the mountains. He did well.


All the fun of the Coalville parade. Whatever happened to parades in England. Gone the way of all our traditions. I wonder why?


Freebies from the Coalville parade.


Fun in the Jacuzzi.


Kayaking with the NAC.


Our home for June through August in 2020.


Shooting with the Johnsons in Saint Louis.


Visit to the Arch in St Louis complete with Beatrix and her doll.


In the train to the top of the St Louis Arch.


St Louis Arch.


Paul and Melanies wedding in St Louis.


St Louis wedding.


St Louis wedding evening do.


Wendy gets ready for brandy and flight.

20190324 – Still Oodles Of Snow, But It Has To Be Goodbye To Paradisde.


Sunday


Not many new pictures this week so I’ve selected the best from our two months here in paradise.Wendy has a cold and is just a constant sniffle and nose drizzle.

I drove down to the gym for a workout. Then dropped Wendy at the supermarket.

Yeah….. Sunday and no vegetables. Instead the ultimate in junk food as at last I get Kaisserscharm for my tea. Nothing else just Kaisserscharm – it’s an Austrian pancake like dessert. I really love desserts but try to avoid them as they are so fattening – see being healthy – however I’ve decided that one night a week I’m going to have just a dessert for my tea. Bring on the Macaroni pudding next week.

More Netflix and a luscious bottle of Cline Zinfandel. Stagger to bed as I had to drink it all by myself.

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This magic is amazing. Magician Justin Flom Cuts Open James Corden – The World’s Best Championships


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Just about sums it all up. Secret diary of an MP: I want to help but it’s humiliating — a dead cat would be as useful:

“I’m one of the 650. We’ll all get the blame when the ship sinks, but in truth you might as well have put a dead cat in there instead of me; it would have had as much of a role as I’ve had in the Brexit discussions. Want to know what that feels like? It’s embarrassing, humiliating and hugely, overwhelmingly frustrating.”


Monday

Excitement as Apple announcement today. Big decision do I replace my old iPad Pro with the new iPad Air Pro, iPad 11″ Pro or keep my 3.5 year old 13″ monster? Good trade in values at the moment ($270) so very tempting.

Well the announcement was a black screen of disappointment. Too much snowflake crap, just California on steroids, full of holier than thou PC, goody two shoes intentions and constant mention of culture. Apple TV+ is still a twinkle in someones eye. I had such great hopes of them finally offering a one service for all rather than having to have so many different services. Why don’t they stop messing about, buy Netflix and consolidate it all in.

Wendy has yet another cold so she stayed in all day. Meanwhile I had a marathon 2.5 hour Pickleball session. I borrowed someones paddle as mine wasn’t making that consoling sweet spot sound. Really liked it and sound was more rewarding. Don’t think it improved my game though. I was cream crackered.

Home to a Jacuzzi and beer, followed by Netflix and some Midwinter Nights Dram. Nearly finished it.

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You just have to laugh at this fiasco.


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Let’s hold all muslims to account, by asking, on every conceivable occasion and on every conceivable platform: Do you agree that those who leave Islam should be killed? Or punished in any way? Yes or no? How many ways can they possibly squirm out of answering that?

Then let’s ask do you want Sharia law in this country?


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Parliamentarians were given the opportunity today to take control of the negotiations, after holding indicative votes on their preferred Brexit strategy. Now, the results are in, and we have found out that they don’t support any option at all.

Below are the number of votes for each option. Of the eight proposals, none managed to achieve a majority in the House of Commons, giving them little chance of passing in the weeks ahead:

Brexit option Ayes Noes
(b) The UK should leave without a deal 160 400
(d) Common Market 2.0 (Norway Plus) 188 283
(h) EFTA and EEA (Norway) 65 377
(j) The WA must include a customs union 264 272
(k) Labour’s Brexit plan 237 307
(l) Revoke Article 50 the day before Brexit 184 293
(m) Any deal needs a second referendum 268 295
(o) Malthouse B / mitigating no deal 139 422


Tuesday

Pop down to the PCMarc, just around the corner from us, as they now have Pickleball most mornings, but alas there was no one there. Very disappointed.

Wendy’s off out shopping with Marilyn. She drops me off at the gym so they can have the car. Of course they could always have walked! I’m afraid Wendy’s caught the American disease – why walk when you can go in the car.

Have a good workout. Managed to survive that elliptical torture for 20 minutes. It really do seem a great exercise, especially on my dodgy hip. Follow through with a coffee at Starbucks then catch the electric bus, well not so electric these days as someones smashed the charging station so it’s back to harmful diesel – am I bothered. Then another walk from Fresh Market – alas no free Sushi, again.

Wendy and I go round to look at number 130, our potential AirBNB for next summer. It’s fine and will be great for next summer, especially as it’s just round the corner on the Racquet club. All we need to do now is sort out the deposit.

B&M and Helen and George come round and we troop off to Sammies in search of grub. Just love their Chivito sandwich. Then it’s back to our place for drinks. The ladies sink down some Basil Haydn Dark and then I finish off the last of the Midwinter Nights Dram. A great nightcap. I suppose I’ll have to wait until next winter for a refill.
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Wednesday

Lazy start.Try and sort the deposit on 130. Drop Wendy off at the CC and then return to watch the treacherous loons arguing over BREXIT and screwing us.

Off down to Pickleball. Really enjoy this and will miss it when back in the UK. So much I need to do to improve, especially get up to net. Never mind perhaps my new book will help. AT least my serves seem to be improving. Really need to get in more serve practices and play against the wall. So far the wall always seems to win in the end.

More Netflix in the evening and no alcohol.

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The left ruins everything:


Thursday

Finally get to my target weight of 182lbs. That’s 11lbs lost since we arrived, despite eating well and plenty of wine, whiskey and bourbon.

Lazy start, then we’re off down to The Apple store in Salt Lake to pick up my ne iPad Pro and trade in my old (nearly 4 years old) one got $270 trade in against my new iPad. Service in store was great. Ended up buying a case at Best Buy in Kimble junction. New ones really fast, a smaller more handle able size and the case is thin and light and protects both sides.

I went to the gym in the afternoon whilst Wendy had her nails done. Just love that elliptical machine. It’s a great workout, up to 30 minutes now.

Pop in the liquor store to get some brandy to take home, they’ve got two new ones I’ve not tried. Miracle is they also had some High West Manhattan that B&M have been trying to get hold of. Bought a bottle to help Bob recover from his shoulder op. Probably better than any of those crazy pain killers they give you.

Then it’s one of my favourite for tea, a carnitas burrito from Chubasco’s.

Another alcohol free TV night.

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These had the right idea to show their contempt for parliament by giving a moonie from the gallery in parliament. I could have shown the moonie view but really felt the boob view was more interesting. I’m sure you get the gist of it.


Friday


Ten pin bowling in the morning.

We’re child minding so we pick Angela up from school and then Wendy takes her to the CC with her for the afternoon. Whilst Im go down to Pickleball for the afternoon.

Home for a quick shower and then we’re off down to Hearth & Hill for the TGIF. Just have a swift drink and then we finally get to go Giordottis with Helen, George, Mark and Judy. I enjoyed the meal – OSSO Buko – but Wendy wasn’t so impressed. Their Chianti was luscious and couldn’t resist a glass of Fonesco Bin 27 port to finish the meal off along with am espresso. Great evening, good food, wine, company and great intelligent conversation.

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How great it is to have a good snow storm in our last few days. Something magical about walking and driving in a snow storm.


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I DON’T BELIEVE – the latest from the Snowflakes.

Ban the word ‘cyclist’ as it dehumanises ride bikes riders and promotes aggression towards them, expert say.

Cyclists should instead be called “people who ride bikes” because the former term is dehumanising, experts have claimed.
An academic study in Australia found that there is a link between the dehumanisation of cyclists and acts of aggression they face from other road users.


Saturday

Lazy morning packing and getting ready to leave. Wendy’s cleaning like a banshee.

Hal and carol pop round to say goodbye then we’re off to B&M’s for dinner. Bob’s rotator cup surgery seems to have gone ok, but his arms in a sling for six weeks. We’ve got Bob some proper medication, a bottle of High West Manhattan. Much better than Oxycodin. Psychedelic, hallucinating drugs.

Great meal, company and of course a Midwinter Nights Dram to finish off the meal. We’ll really miss them but we’re back on 1st June. Can’t wait.

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Sunday

Lazy start to the day. Don’t need to set off until 10:00 so it’s quite relaxing, until the usual TSA CRAP. But at least I survived the TSA. Always an ordeal. Really need to consider some of Wendy’s propanaol tablets to help me through. Good news is they’re improving, they now only miss 70% of weapons.

On a more positive note, great news Green Book is on the Virgin flight.

Great to just get in the lounge and starting sinning by downing some wine before 17:00.

Flight is very comfortable as Wendy’s booked premium economy seats, and after the Green Book; two glasses of champagne; two glasses of Malbec, seconded from Upper Class as I cant’ stand Syrah; two large Otard brandies; and just one sleeping tablet, I settle down to 5 hour deep slumber. Wake up just in time to watch The Girl In The Spiders Web. Great flight, pretty comfortable.

Chaos at Manchester airport as you now have to go yomping on a root march to the pickup point. Welcome home to chaos.

Well we’re home. Never mind just 4 weeks before we escape to France and only 2 months before we’re back in paradise.

AT least we get to see the grandkids and we’re around if our very pregnant daughter-in-law goes into labour. Anybody would think Wendy was going to be delivering it.
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Well we say goodbye to 2 months in paradise, but I don’t despair too much as we’ll be back in two months. Great news is I survived winter without skiing. Just so much to do. I think I’ve actually done more exercise than when I skied. Lost 11 pounds and still managed to eat pretty well and consume copious alcohol. Loved it, great friends, pickleball, snowshoeing, walking, ten pin bowling, shooting, archery and of course drinking.



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and the chaos goes on:


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An interesting article on that religion of pieces and permanent offence.:

Leaving but we still have snow.

Generally, public criticism of any religion, ancient or contemporary, is completely acceptable, and should be encouraged. It is noteworthy, then, that criticism of any other religion nowadays will earn you at worst a dose of invective, whereas saying the wrong words or drawing the wrong cartoons about Islam will get you killed in any country where Islam is the official religion, and liable to earn you physical repercussions in countries where it is not.

Why is that it in Western countries, merely pointing out the similarities between the writings of the Quran and the Hadiths and the violent and intolerant preachings of groups such as the Islamic State is cause for censure?

Up, up and away.

We certainly have no problem holding Christianity responsible for its part in the horrific Spanish Inquisition, nor do we stutter at recognizing Christian scripture as having encouraged anti-Semitic attitudes along European history.

Ah, I can hear the rebuttal already: “Of course there are horrible passages in the Quran. It was written at a different time, and there are similarly horrible ones in the Bible!”

Without a doubt, the Bible is a bloody, violent book filled with unspeakable atrocities. But then, why is it that no Christian feels personally targeted when Deuteronomy 21:18-21, which encourages the public stoning of disobedient children, is criticized?

It is because Christianity has gone through, over the past few hundred years, a modernization process where it has been ejected out of civil law, and where its most vile and intolerant preachings are no longer ordained as official doctrine by the church’s institutions.

With some exceptions (such as enduring Medieval attitudes toward homosexuality and fundamentalists’ rejection of science in favour of creationism) the most vile, intolerant, and backward parts of Christian practice have been abandoned.

Perhaps this might help explain why the treacherous political elite can’t manage to implement a simple democratic mandate such as BREXIT – No Deal Please.

Islam, on the other hand, has become more intolerant than it was a millennium ago, when Muslims were creating algebra and algorithms and naming the celestial bodies. The result is that Christians can shake off most criticisms of their own scripture and their beliefs, but the Islamic world seems a lot more thin-skinned.
I, however, reject the often-brought-up and dangerous notion of this conflict being a “war of civilizations,” pitching the united secular West against the similarly united dogmatic Islamic world.

This is wrong simply because it is an inaccurate depiction of both sides. This particular struggle is far more complicated and it is certainly not contained by international borders or racial origin. This is a war of ideas, not of skin color.

Which is why the first victims of Islamic extremism are almost always Muslims: women, apostates, homosexuals, modern Muslims seeking the evolution of their faith, and yes, even just Muslims who belong to the wrong traditional Islamic sect.

Similarly, the people often most opposed to helping the victims of Islamo-fascism, those who refuse to hold Islamic ideas accountable for their role in these crimes, are not Muslims at all, but westerners brandishing multiculturalist arguments.

Meaningful change can only come from within the Islamic world, from the reformist voices that want to modernize Islam to fit today’s standards of human decency and compassion. These are the people whom we must try to empower today by giving them coverage, a platform to speak out of, and most importantly, by acknowledging their suffering and struggle.

It is for this reason that we must not delude ourselves with the idea that all cultures are equally good in every way. We should not shy away from sensitive conversations about the role of religious dogma, even at the risk of being called racist or Islamophobic. Such insults are minor and insignificant compared to the atrocities that the victims of this violent and intolerant doctrine suffer every day.


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A long piece but I wanted to preserve it for when I’m sat in the geriatrics waiting for god space, drooling down my bib, to try and remember the difference between the left and liberals.

What is the difference between a leftist and a liberal?

Answering this question is vital to understanding the crisis facing America and the West today. Yet few seem able to do it. I offer the following as a guide.
Here’s the first thing to know: The two have almost nothing in common.
On the contrary, liberalism has far more in common with conservatism than it does with leftism. The left has appropriated the word “liberal” so effectively that almost everyone — liberals, leftists and conservatives — thinks they are synonymous.
But they aren’t. Let’s look at some important examples.
Race: This is perhaps the most obvious of the many moral differences between liberalism and leftism. The essence of the liberal position on race was that the color of one’s skin is insignificant. To liberals of a generation ago, only racists believed that race is intrinsically significant. However, to the left, the notion that race is insignificant is itself racist. Thus, the University of California officially regards the statement “There is only one race, the human race” as racist. For that reason, liberals were passionately committed to racial integration. Liberals should be sickened by the existence of black dormitories and separate black graduations on university campuses.
Capitalism: Liberals have always been pro capitalism, recognizing it for what it is: the only economic means of lifting great numbers out of poverty. Liberals did often view government as able to play a bigger role in lifting people out of poverty than conservatives, but they were never opposed to capitalism, and they were never for socialism. Opposition to capitalism and advocacy of socialism are leftist values.
Nationalism: Liberals deeply believed in the nation-state, whether their nation was the United States, Great Britain or France. The left has always opposed nationalism because leftism is rooted in class solidarity, not national solidarity. The left has contempt for nationalism, seeing in it intellectual and moral primitivism at best, and the road to fascism at worst. Liberals always wanted to protect American sovereignty and borders. The notion of open borders would have struck a liberal as just as objectionable as it does a conservative. It is emblematic of our time that the left-wing writers of Superman comics had Superman announce a few years ago, “I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my American citizenship.” When the writers of Superman were liberal, Superman was not only an American but one who fought for “Truth, justice, and the American way.” But in his announcement, he explained that motto is “not enough anymore.”
View of America: Liberals venerated America. Watch American films from the 1930s through the 1950s and you will be watching overtly patriotic, America-celebrating films — virtually all produced, directed and acted in by liberals. Liberals well understand that America is imperfect, but they agree with a liberal icon named Abraham Lincoln that America is “the last best hope of earth.”
To the left, America is essentially a racist, sexist, violent, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamophobic country. The left around the world loathe America, and it is hard to imagine why the American left would differ in this one way from fellow leftists around the world. Leftists often take offense at having their love of America doubted. But those left-wing descriptions of America are not the only reason to assume that the left has more contempt than love for America. The left’s view of America was encapsulated in then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s statement in 2008. “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” he said.
Now, if you were to meet a man who said that he wanted to fundamentally transform his wife, or a woman who said that about her husband, would you assume that either loved their spouse? Of course not.
Free speech: The difference between the left and liberals regarding free speech is as dramatic as the difference regarding race. No one was more committed than American liberals to the famous statement “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Liberals still are. But the left is leading the first nationwide suppression of free speech in American history — from the universities to Google to almost every other institution and place of work. It claims to only oppose hate speech. But protecting the right of person A to say what person B deems objectionable is the entire point of free speech.
Western civilization: Liberals have a deep love of Western civilization. They taught it at virtually every university and celebrated its unique moral, ethical, philosophical, artistic, musical and literary achievements. No liberal would have joined the leftist Rev. Jesse Jackson in chanting at Stanford University: “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Western civ has got to go.” The most revered liberal in American history is probably former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who frequently cited the need to protect not just Western civilization but Christian civilization. Yet leftists unanimously denounced President Donald Trump for his speech in Warsaw, Poland, in which he spoke of protecting Western civilization. They argued not only that Western civilization is not superior to any other civilization but also that it is no more than a euphemism for white supremacy.
Judaism and Christianity: Liberals knew and appreciated the Judeo-Christian roots of American civilization. They themselves went to church or synagogue, or at the very least appreciated that most of their fellow Americans did. The contempt that the left has — and has always had — for religion (except for Islam today) is not something with which a liberal would ever have identified.
If the left is not defeated, American and Western civilization will not survive. But the left will not be defeated until good liberals understand this and join the fight. Dear liberals: Conservatives are not your enemy. The left is.