Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 A retrospective review

2010 has come and gone rather quickly, in fact it has taken exactly a year to do so but if we thought about it there would be lots of days and months that sped by without causing any significant memory.
I guess what I will try and do is piece together the year in as little words as possible for a change.

The highlights of the year

Work conference in Bandung and start of new contract for work 

Another work conference in Jakarta this time 
My distrust of BCA began
I got A/C for the apartment and paid the rent for another year to stay in it

Not much really happened

Bangka Island for a weekend

Kuta Tua (old City ) tours

Floods in the city
Belitung for my birthday

Fun times at Hard Rock cafe

Batavia Marina
Renewing my drivers licence

Celebrating a year of blogging

Spending all my savings for a ticket to England - Thats why the year is very empty
The countdown has begun
Freeflow in the city
My introduction to Blackberry

Bogor and day trips
Motorbike is paid for

Flying home and free holidays in the middle east due to snow
Snow and Christmas in England

So not the busiest of years as I was mainly saving for going back to the UK for a holiday but still lots of fun had. 

And that brings me to now, New Years Eve. Not really sure what I am doing but I will be doing something. I have not done everything I wanted to here but I cant have everything. Hampered by the weather and transport and time I have not seen all those I wanted to. But I know they will understand. 
I should also like to thank my followers for following and my readers for reading and my commentators for er commentating.

My next blog will be in a while as I fly home to Jakarta on Sunday and then on Tuesday I will be in Bali for the week. So maybe after that.

So all that is left for  me to say is 

Thank you all for your support through the year and I wish one and all a very happy, safe, peaceful, eventful, prosperous new year. 

Happy new year Everyone!!!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas in England

So its Boxing Day now (26th December), another public holiday and a time for the cold meats and cheese to be eaten, trip to the sales, wearing the Christmas jumpers and feeling rather fat.
Christmas in England is always fun.

For me this is the first English Christmas for a few years and so I had the double shock of the weather (ice and snow and bitterly cold temperatures) and also the amount of food and drink that needs to be consumed in order to appreciate it fully.

I had a little need to shop luckily as I had bought most gifts in Indonesia but it has not stopped me from shopping for stuff and getting into the mood for the big day.
Christmas eve was spent visiting friends and family which I have not seen for many years, drinking beer and looking forward to a big night out in a town close to mine. Not the most pretty or exciting of places but still always a good night.
I took the train to the town I was staying in (Trowbridge) and for some reason there was no ticket check and so I travelled the 20 mins free of charge. I then took a taxi to an old friend of mines house and stay a few hours while waiting for another friend to finish work and then met him and back to his for the night.
His wife was not coming out with us, so we opened the whiskey, ate some dinner and got ready. As a tradition which we have kept up for the past 4 times of going out on Christmas eve, loud shirts, sunglasses and hats were the order of the day and so glasses empty, taxi waiting we headed out into the town.

The shirts this year were batik. For the sake of human decency there are no pictures of the next 5 hours!!!

We went into the local pub, got past the comments and stares and then settled down for some more drinking. The pub was visited by the police and a sniffer dog and they took out a few suspects who were probably carrying drugs of some kind. One of the police men recognised me almost instantly and we had a good chat about things. He had to keep going outside to arrest or search people and then come back in for a chat. The policeman used to be working in the same town as I worked in and part of the relationship we built with the police, they were offered free breakfasts in the coffee shop or staff canteen or lunch or really anything and I would often spend time chatting and talking to him when he visited either for food or to arrest shoplifters. 
We went to a bar/club which me and my friend Tony have frequented for years and spent the night, drinking, chatting and dancing badly.
At around 2am, we left and then moved on for something to eat.

This man makes the best kebabs you are likely to eat in Trowbridge at 2am in the morning when it is -6. Large mixed donor, extra chili for £5 was a bargain. From there we staggered to a taxi ate back at Tonys. 

Later Christmas morning we left to go back to my mums house, Tony and his wife were on the way to his parents and so he dropped me back to mums. Our family was meeting up with my brother and his family so it would be a big afternoon.

 We spent our time eating the best Roast Turkey meal with all the trimmings, followed by Christmas Pudding and Cheese cake and then Cheeses and Fruit, drinking whatever we liked. I choose Cider, wine and port as well why, its Christmas. The atmosphere was great and there was lots of noise and chatter and everyone was happy and enjoyed the day, food, gifts and the time spent. This would be the only time I will get to be with my god children and my brother for the next couple of years and so it was time well spent.

Boxing day morning was a very very cold morning with temperatures in the early morning reaching -12 degrees and so the snow and ice became even harder and more slippery to walk on.
Coming round from the hangover and excess of food and drink, it was time to embrace the cold and go for a long walk. I took mother and the dog with me and we headed off a for a walk along the river into the town and then home.

 The river Frome with Ice                                                 Some of the older buildings in the snow
 View over Frome

Near the river

Whilst the countryside always looks pretty in white, don't forget it is also very cold and dangerous.The roads on hills were sheet ice where they have not been either gritted or the sun has not been warm enough to melt the ice away. The last 2 photos are of my parents road which is very dangerous at the moment to walk in.

After about 1.5 hours we came back, hot and cold and really from there done another typical Boxing day activity, watch tv and chat and be very lazy. I did not feel the urge to join the shoppers buying the boxing day bargains in the sales, I will wait for a few days and do it then.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Qatar Airlines

Yeay, I Made it to Frome, England and its bloody freeeeeeeeeeezzzzzing... which is but not nice and also means there is snow and ice and it kinda makes things more christmasy.
Mum has no decorations up this year as father has been ill and so thats been more of a priority but I dont think it will matter much as the whole family is here together this year and so thats the best news.
So its Wednesday afternoon in England, 2 degrees and gloomy outside. I have been in England for the past 22 hours and I left Jakarta on Saturday?
Where I have been? In transit, in Doha, In Qatar, in the Middle east for 2 nights!
The weather in England is pretty dire, snow, ice, fog and more to come, this has impacted heavily on transportation as England is often not really suited to the cold and cannot cope with snow at all. It has been snowing for a few weeks before I arrived and it has really impacted on the airports and airlines.

The weekend was spent being anxious about flying home and I was packed and ready. I spent the day with Yovita and after some coffee and not much else we went to the airport in Jakarta for around 8pm. I checked in successfully at 9pm, paid my monies owing and the without issue got through Immigration and was then waiting to fly.
Jakarta airport is gloomy and dull at the best of times and when you have to fly internationally it is not much better. Luckily there was a bar so I had a couple of beers but at 39,000 each that was all I could have and then I waited to be called to the flight.
I was flying Qatar Air (The worlds 5 star airline) and it was a nice plane and great flight. We left at 12.50am Sunday morning and so it was a long 9 hour night flight into Doha airport. The food was great although a little slow but the stewardesses were helpful and you did not really want for anything.
We landed early into Doha at about and then I had a 2 hour wait in international departures for the flight to heathrow. Or so I thought.....

So we get through immigration control and the wait about a bit. I asked at the customer service desk which gate the flight to London would be and I was told that they could not tell me as the previous days passengers were still in the airport and no flights to London had left. So the mood changed quite a lot.                                                     

 Doha airport is not the most interesting or dynamic fun airports to be in, no tv screens, no bar, rubbish restaurants nothing to do. The free wireless spots were all taken and so that meant that it was a case of waiting and waiting.

After a while a gate opened and everyone queued and then an announcement was made to let us a know an announcement was to be made about the flights and what going to happen.
This again did not help. By 10.30am I had been there for 5 hours and still only knew that I was more than likely not to be going to home on Sunday.

 The announcement finally come that we needed to go the transit desk where we were told that we would be put in a hotel for the night as there would be no flights to London on Sunday. This was at 3pm, 10 hours after arriving there. So I went to the bus and then got stamped into Qatar and waited for the bus to come to take us to the hotel. The luggage was to remain at the airport and so that was not too bad as long as I could eat and shower I did not really mind.
The hotel we stayed at was called Retaji Al Rayyan hotel and it was very nice thats for sure. The rooms was big and the food was superb. There was so much help it was almost embarrassing. The hotel was about 30 minutes from the airport and was 5 star luxury.

My room (above) was great and had good views of some of the city skyline. After dinner I took a walk out in the city to have a wander round with some other passengers and the streets were empty and the cars were fast and expensive. The buildings were very impressive. We found a street with all the embassies on and walked through that. One of the people I was with almost had his camera taken as he tried to take photos of the Iranian one but he managed to convince the armed guards otherwise and deleted the pictures.
And that was the first day in Doha, by 9pm I was in bed asleep.

The next day we were told again there was no flights to England and the next announcement would be made at 7pm. So I went back into the city for something to do, found a starbucks and read a book. Feeling hungry I walked back to the hotel ate as much as I could and then spent the afternoon and early evening with the other stuck passengers just talking and resting.
At 7pm we were told that we would fly to Manchester not Heathrow in Tuesday and to be at the reception for 7am. Great.
So about 8 of us decided to go to the Irish bar in the Sheraton and have a few cold g&t's and enjoy a little time before flying on. The Sheraton was so massive and very impressive, we needed passports to get into the bar and the bar was not too crowded but was full only of Expats.

Tuesday morning I was at reception at 6.30am, bundled onto a bus and in the airport by 7.15. We had to check in again to get new boarding passes. By 8.45 I had yet to checking as the computer system struggled with the chartered flight and the change of destination for the baggage, but by 10.15 we were in the air and all good. Lots more gin and wine on the plane and landed in Manchester by 3pm.

With all the weather issues in London and the chaos that it has brought with it I must say that Qatar looked after me very well. A free 2 night break in Doha full bed and board, get in flight service as well makes the airline really competent. Sadly the airport service and lack of communication was a little less than good but they did all they can and I would use them again.

I have however lost a couple of days of my stay here and so have to rethink my plans. I have lots of things to do and people to see, I guess it might not all be possible with the weather and time of year. But regardless I shall enjoy it....

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley

Some 17th Robert Burns poetry to kick it off, that will really mess with my google search stats!!!! I wonder how many people will have be searching for those words?

Actually it is from an amazing poem which can be read here. What has this have to do with my week and whats going on?


The waiting game is never that pleasant even if it is worth the wait. 4 days now and this will be the last blog from me from the tropics this year and the next one will be from England probably early into the week. So I am looking forward to sharing some of the experiences from Hatto Airport to my home and beyond and then back again.

I spent the last week planning and scheming for everything to be ready and that seems to be quite involved. Some simple advice, if you planning to return back to your native country for a visit, plan and plan wisely if you have little time. Also budget the gifts as to be honest you can get carried away with the feeling to buy everyone you ever knew a gift. Why bother? well its nice but then the danger is, what happens when you forget someone?
The easy answer keep it simple and focus on close family and always spoil your parents. Although dads a pain to buy anything for,  so well,  lets hope he likes it. And you cant go wrong with Kopi Luwak to brighten peoples days!!! So fingers crossed for getting that, tea and other delights through customs and everyone will be smiling.
Keris in Menteng has some amazing stuff not too cheap but not really out of my price range and with less choice it is an easier option than Blok M and the malls that sell all things Indonesian although you can get upto 70% discount it is still hard work and to be honest I am all in favour of the easier option.
From there fully loaded I headed to Semanggi for some more of that excellent shopping experience and finally to a Hero for chocolate and tea! Easy.
I was also wandering about with the money that needed to be cashed into £ pound sterling. From at least 4 money exchangers only £5 was available (60,000 idr) and then after some phones calls there were some possibilities of getting my money changed but later in the week. I guess I should not be too surprised really but then at the end of the day whats the point of money exchangers if they dont have what they advertise selling or buying.
The rates were all around 14250 selling which is ok. Luckily my gf is more tenacious than me and got me a good deal and had the money delivered to her office on Monday.

The thing about leaving work for a holiday this time off year is the need to complete all reports and outstanding work. So reports a go go and teaching and stuff has remained full on but finally there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is pretty all much finished just a few loose ends to tie up and then I can leave the place for a while.

I have been trying to get to my gf's house to pick up the last bits I have  so I am all packed but the rain and traffic has been hampering that one although if I can't make it she will bring it on Saturday. I will try again on Thursday.

Packing not completed yet, lists made and piles of things everywhere at the moment. I hate packing and so am not going to take much but will bring a lot more back.  ( I have a fair few lists of what to bring back as well!!! )

That brings me to my home in England. All I know is that it is cold there at the moment. Currently its around -4 degrees centigrade and here it is 28 degrees centigrade.  That's a big difference and a tad colder than normal for me.


                                              From this                                                                        

To This

 My last 3 Christmas holidays: Lombok 2009, Bali 2008 and England 2007

Mind I do like frozen cobwebs in England in the winter, they are simply nature at its finest and despite my affection for blue skies, seas and yellow beaches, freezing cold foggy mornings in England with big coats and hats to keep warm are just as beautiful. I am certain there will a lot of photos of England this year... and I will be back to Blue Skies, Skies and Yellow beaches in January when I will return to Bali for a week.

Yeay for holidays!!!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Facts about Everything or Anything

Found these whilst surfing so thought I would share them all with you.... Cheer up soon be Christmas

The Tube carries more passengers than the whole of the national rail network.
The optimum time to book a flight is eight weeks before departure.
The Stig was originally going to be called The Gimp.
Milk used to be watered down, then coloured yellow with toxic lead chromate to make it look creamy.
It's possible to watch 28,000 films in a lifetime.
Sumo wrestlers can't use iPhones because their fingers are too fat.
The socks-wTith-sandals look came from the Romans.
Tornados can burn.
Putting a cat in a bin is not illegal.
Traffic jams can last nine days
Apples originated in Kazakhstan.
Ray Winstone turned down the part of McNulty in The Wire.
It is illegal to dry clothes in various parks in Whitstable, Kent. 
The UK's newest submarine will last 25 years without needing to be refuelled.
The Queen washes up.
Tony Blair was nervous meeting Des O'Connor.
Usain Bolt was called VJ as a child, because his mother thought he needed a nickname. It doesn't stand for anything.
Guinness can be deep-fried. 
The biggest crisp factory in the world is in Leicester.
Britons drink less alcohol than the European average.
The salary with optimum happiness is £50,000.
Hull lost 85% of its buildings during the Blitz.
Geoff Capes was a champion budgerigar breeder.
Spiders eat birds. .
A hand dryer can increase germs.
Clint Eastwood turned down playing James Bond and Superman.
The trapped miners in Chile were recycling.
People who rise from their chair quickly are more likely to live longer.
Diners pay more for desserts when they on a trolley.
Happy people give more to charity.
Cancer patients typically make 53 visits to hospital during treatment.
Bubbles lives in Florida.
DJ Paul Oakenfold made about £20,000 a year from the Big Brother theme tune. Tony Blair has has not watched The Queen, in which he features.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, invented bifocal glasses.
When people fall in love they lose on average two close friends.
Subbuteo has a rugby version.
The Pope's aircraft is known as "Shepherd One".
Humans could not digest milk 10,000 years ago.
Oxford University doesn't care whether you can play the flute.

  1. Blowflies can help solve murders.
  2. New Zealand's birds suffer from body odour.
  3. Would-be hobbits should be no more than 158cm (5ft 2ins) tall if male or 153cm (5ft) if female.
  4. Strong winds could have parted the Red Sea.
  5. Children's waistlines have expanded by an average of 12.5cm (4.9ins) since the 1970s.
  6. Ed Miliband can solve a Rubik's Cube in one minute 20 seconds.
  7. Customers using cash machines of the Vatican bank are offered Latin as the preferred language.
  8. The Facebook logo is blue because founder Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colour blind.
  9. Northern Ireland has the lowest proportion of out gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the UK.
  10. Denim jeans come from Italy.

Elgar wrote world's first football chant.
The UN has an Office of Outer Space Affairs.
There's a market for mammoth ivory and it sells for £330 per kilogram.
Neanderthals were tech-savvy.
Engineers estimate that 12 to 15 tonnes of rock were needed to have been cleared by the trapped Chilean miners each day.
In French, the words for "inflation" and "fellatio" are very similar.
The first travelator in the UK was at Bank Tube station in London.
Former PM Edward Heath left his home to the nation as a museum when he died.
Intestinal worms can grow to more than 2m long.
Penguins have been around for 36m years.
The world's largest circulation newspaper is the Japanese title Yomiuri Shimbun, selling 15 million copies.
Squirrels can be black.
Chimpanzees can become addicted to smoking.
e in 10 babies born in Europe is conceived in an Ikea bed.
Tarantulas are edible.
People can begin apprenticeships in their 70s.
Adolf Hitler promised to give his foreign minister Cornwall.
Men sweat more efficiently than women.
Sewage can be used to heat homes.
Potatoes can be purple - inside and out.

Chinese apple trees are pollinated by hand.
There have been 39 marriages between Riverdance cast members.
Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are related.
Eighty percent of young women in Finland go to university.
Hermaphrodite dogs exist.
Noise affects taste.
The chairman of Liverpool FC supports Chelsea.
Martin Freeman of The Office turned down the part of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.
Insects are attracted by the colour of wind turbines.
Bilingual children get confused less easily.
Baseball bats make good violins.
Getting drunk quickly is genetic.
King penguins flirt with other penguins of the same gender but tend not to settle down with them.
Leopards' spots are camouflage.
The Vatican likes The Simpsons.
Germans have been blurring their homes on Google Street View.
Sparrows eavesdrop on fighting birds.
Labradors shake their bodies to dry off at a frequency of 4.3 Hz.
Traces of silver can be found on the moon.
A third of iPad owners haven't bothered to download any apps.
Crows go to school.
Flamingos use make-up.
John and Margaret were the most popular baby names for 30 years.
Polar bears wave.
More than half of all Americans dress up at Halloween.
The normal lifespan of an octopus is three years.
Liberalism is genetic.
A footballer can be allergic to grass.
Mount Everest has its own 3G wireless network.
Some 7.2 million British people get by without a wristwatch.
Tea parties were invented in the 1830s.
Which means that the 1773 Boston Tea Party wasn't known by that name until more than 60 years after the event. At the time it was referred to as "the destruction of the tea". 
Adult kingfishers need to catch about 5,000 fish a year to thrive.
Dick Bruna, the man famous for creating children's character Miffy, also created the stick man with a halo in the Saint TV series.
Smokers on average, according to one reckoning, spend an hour a day on fag breaks.
Chips implanted in the eye can, under certain circumstances, let the blind see.

Just thinking you're fit might help you avoid getting colds.
Having fewer brothers and sisters can be good for your education.
It's not just in comedy films that babies can fall from tall buildings, bounce on awnings and be caught by a passer-by. 
And it's not just in sci-fi films that holograms can be sent as messages.
You must be 16 to buy Christmas crackers in the UK.
George W Bush read about 95 books a year when US president. 
Turtles breathe in to float.
Nazis coined the verb coventrierung (literally, to coventrate) to describe total annihilation of a city - Coventry - through aerial bombardment.
One in five people only clean their homes at weekends.
A cat's tongue moves at one metre per second when lapping milk.
The tomb of the unknown soldier was originally the idea of a padre called David Railton.
Aerial massed acrobatics performed by starlings at this time of year are called "murmurations".
Bush crickets have the biggest testicles of any animal, in relation to body weight.
People daydream for nearly half of their waking hours.
Away football teams usually have a 30% chance of winning.
 Babies born with no cheekbones have a condition known as Treacher Collins syndrome.
David Cameron slept on the Mall the night before Prince Charles married Lady Diana.
A solitary church may signal where an entire village once stood.
German shoes are wider than Italian.
It can take 18 years for the foot's bones, muscles and ligaments to harden into adult form.
One in three people aged over 65 will die with dementia.
Dartmoor prison rents land from Prince Charles.
Badgers still occupy setts known since the Domesday Book.
The number of people raising funds for charity has doubled in the last three years.
Fish shrink in winter.
A elephant's cracked tusk requires at least 47 tubes of resin to fill it.
North and South Korea have technically been at war for decades, because no peace treaty was signed in 1953.
The Shard was first designed on the back of a napkin.
The number of schools teaching cheerleading is triple the number that teach judo.
A cup of coffee combined with a 20-minute nap will double the caffeine effect.

Donald Trump's hair is real.
One in four people with HIV in the UK is unaware they have it.
The US president has the power to shut down key computer systems in that country.
Turkey tycoon Bernard Matthews started his business with 20 eggs and a second-hand incubator.

Now you know even more stuff than you really need to :)