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since 25/06/2001


Gloucester in General 25/11/2002

Go to Gorgeous Gloucester.

Gloucester in General I've been to Gloucester twice. I have friends who live there and my visits encompass a stay, over a weekend, catching up with the latest family news and gossip and exchanging old memories. I never really "looked", at Gloucester until just lately; the second time that I visited. Did you know that it is home to Britain's most inland port? I only found out, during conversation that it recently celebrated its BI-centennial, which is techno speak for 200th anniversary. Once the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal had been built to link the City with the Bristol Channel, giving grain ships access to the docks, the area never looked back - at one time, ships would apparently queue for miles along the canal waiting to unload grain and timber. This does not happen any more but there are about 15 red brick, Victorian warehouses which stand, like guardians, around the three basins of water and, today, provide homes to fascinating attractions. The National Waterways Museum is appropriately placed in the restored Llanthony Warehouse and covers the 200 years of life on Britain's inland waterways. You can try your hand at steering a narrowboat - on a simulator of course! - along the canal, but watch out for the locks, they're trickier than you think! The museum is full of simulators, models and displays, all bringing to life the people who once worked on the canals. If this isn't enough, the museum continues outside with a variety of colourful narrowboats and barges as well as a ...

Tragedy in the United States 13/09/2001

There are no words........

Tragedy in the United States If I feel angry at anything I usually find it easy to write the most wordy letter imaginable giving vent to my feelings. I put every bit of invective I can into the letter and get every feeling out of my system then, and only then, I print up the letter, put it in an envelope, carefully address it and then.......put it in the waste bin. This gets rid of the pent up emotion and I can get on with my life. I am really angry now but, how do you find the words to write about the horrific events of Tuesday 11th September 2001. I do not want to get the pent up emotion out of my system. I want to remember this day as long as I possibly can. Somebody or a group somewhere has to be called to account, there can be no turning the other cheek this time. God help us, we do not want another World war. I have been preaching for a long time that there must be understanding between peoples. I have said, time and again, we must try to understand the other person's point of view and find a middle ground. I now feel that the time for understanding is past, particularly any kind of understanding about the present events. The immediate shock, horror, terror and utter sadness has given way, now, to utter bewilderment of how can one set of human beings do such things to other human beings. They tell me that it is the name of religion. They tell me that it is because the Western World gave Palestine to the Jews and created Israel. Whatever the reason that many parts of the World are in ...

Ootacamund or Ooty (India) 10/08/2001

Go to Snooty Ooty.

Ootacamund or Ooty (India) Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again. A.E. Housman 1859 - 1936 We used to travel south from Hyderabad on the Deccan plateau toward the hill stations in the south. Our train journey used to be long and hot, (There were no air conditioned trains in those days), and we longed to be in the hills. At every stop along the railway there would be vendors selling Cha and they would hand over, into our compartment, a silver service of teapot, milk jug and sugar basin with the necessary amount of cups and saucers - this was long before the advent of mugs and, as British travellers, (Actually we were the families of British Soldiers) we would not be expected to drink our of glasses which contained the inevitable spoon. Personally I liked tea in a glass with a liberal helping of sugar but never could get used to tea with Carnation evaporated milk, as was the norm. These silver tea services would be handed in to a vendor at the next station, I never know how we knew who to hand them to, I have to imagine that they lost a lot of crockery. Vendors would also be plying everyone with Charminar cigarettes named after a Landmark in Hyderabad as well as Golconda named after another famous Mogul Fort nearby . Still, I digress as usual, we are on the way to Snooty ...

Go Fly - GOE 05/08/2001

I went with GO

Go Fly - GOE I have now been to Malaga four times in four years with Go Airlines. Flying with Go since they started their no-nonsense service is a pleasure after travelling all over the continent with Charters such as Caledonian, Britannia and Monarch. It is far easier to book, on-line with GO than the others but you must remember to try out various dates of departure and return as the fare can vary so much. I just tried to get particular dates in September and have had to compromise slightly and make the Holiday last sixteen days instead of fourteen, SHAME. Trying to leave at a particular time and return 2 weeks later was going to cost me £124.00 for each person each way. I tried cchanging the dates and the best I could do was £99.00 each, each way a total of £396.00. However, by leaving on Tuesday 18th Sept and returning on Thursday 4th October the fare was £64 outward and £74 inward a grand total of £276.00. I realise that it is not always possible to re-arrange your dates but, if you book early enough it usually is much cheaper. Go Airlines is, as I mentioned above, no-nonsense. When you book on-line or on the telephone, you get a reference number and not a ticket. You present this at the booking in desk at Stansted or Bristol if you have booked from there and you get a boarding pass and return ticket. One of the disadvantages for many people in UK is that GO only fly from Stansted or Bristol. I live in Essex and therefore only 35 minutes to the Airport. There is long ...

Member Advice on Giving Up Smoking 02/08/2001

Smoking is not an addiction, it is a habit.

Member Advice on Giving Up Smoking Smoking is a habit, it is a matter of opinion as to whether it is a bad habit. Cigarette smoking is not an addiction - that is my personal opinion. You may as well say that the sexual act is an addiction, not that I am saying that that is a habit. The two actions are disparate. You develop a habit because you like doing something or it appears to help you through the daily grind. A cigarette contains soporific drugs which give you a feeling of calmness, they mask agitation and stress, this becomes enjoyable and then becomes a habit. It is an excuse to call it an addiction, you are just telling yourself, like a naughty child might do that you enjoy smoking and don't want the good feeling to stop. I smoked cigarettes from the age of 13 until the age of 55. When I decided to give up cigarettes it was because the taste in my mouth in the morning and the smell in the house was awful - I had stopped enjoying smoking cigarettes. I stopped immediately, one minute I was smoking and the next I wasn't. Yes it was somewhat difficult to continue but will power and persistence paid off. I do not believe that patches, imitation cigarettes or anything like that actually work. I wouldn't have tried them in any case. Apparently you get a dose of nicotine that is supposed to kill the craving for the cigarette, how is it, if the nicotine is harmful that the patches are considered OK? The pharmacist thinks that they are OK of course, he/she sells them and they cost a packet. In UK they ...

Estepona (Spain) 31/07/2001

Spanish Culture in Andalucia.

Estepona (Spain) I have been visiting Spain for more years that I care to think about. Not that any of those visits were not pleasureable, not that I am weary of the number of years that have passed by. I first went to Spain in the early 1960's on the instigation of an older friend who had been in Pamplona for the running of the bulls at the same time as Ernest Hemingway. During that visit I visited, amongst other cities, Pamplona and fell in love with Spain. I speak Spanish nowadays, fairly well, and try to use the language as much as possible when there. It is becoming more dificult, there is nothing so infuriating - no I never get infuriated in Spain - or perhaps daunting, than asking a question in carefully phrased Spanish (or any other language for that matter) and receiving a reply in perfect English (or your own mother tongue). That aside, and I digress, as always, I will return to my love of Spain. Amongst those cities that I have visited, over the years, I include those that I love best, in no particular order. Taragonna, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, San Sebastian, and Estepona. I leave the latter until last, (well I couldn't have the latter first could I) because it is this city or more properly town that I want to opine about. The most southern part of Spain is the Costa del Sol or Andalucia to give it its proper title. The part of Andalucia called Malaga (as opposed to the city of Malaga) and therein, just to the West of Marbella is Estepona. What I love about this ...

NTL - Broadband 30/07/2001

Surfing in the mud no more.

NTL - Broadband I have been with Ntlworld for some time past and, when I first, "joined up" I thought that it was the best thing since sliced bread. Those who are of the younger, more modern set will probably recognize this expression as the DB. East Coast Cable dug up all the roads in Colchester, some years ago, and laid in cable for the, 'new' cable television channels that were coming our way. After many months of disruption and leaving all the pavements to take their chances with the oncoming frosty weather, East Coast Cable departed with all their tools and machines. We next had all the door knockers, asking us if we wanted to link up to cable and, as the deal offered was good, I took on a contract for telephone and television. In my road I was and still am the only user!! I then found out that, if I paid the TV and Telephone bills to NTL then I could go on the internet, FREE 24/7, and although I had heard of reports that you waited months for the disc, I received mine in 10 days!! I enjoyed using NTL for surfing but didn't like the cut off every few minutes if you left the keyboard alone. This year they were offering Digital Televison at hardly any difference to the rate I was paying so, once again, I took on the new service - All channels now are digital and the pictures are wonderful - pity about the many extra programmes that you are able to receive, mostly re-hashed repeats from the 60's and 70's if you ignore the better factual channels such as History, Geographia and ...

Maltese Islands 23/07/2001

Go to Gorgeous Gozo.

Maltese Islands Having visited most Mediterranean Islands I approached a visit to the Island of Gozo, with all the Hype I had read about its beauty, with the usual degree of skepticism. To say I was surprised is an understatement; the Island is beautiful, if only for the fact that it is about 50 years behind the rest of the Western World. I think that this is where lies its appeal to almost all ages, it is so restful. The local population gets on with their daily lives and, although the income to the Maltese Island comes from tourism, you could say that Gozo is unique in that the tourists are not bothered with the usual gimmicks, knick-knacks and cheap tawdry souvenirs. Rather the innate pride that the Gozitans have in their own artistic ability is passed on to the tourists without a hint of commercialism. The craft cottage industry that exists on the Island rewards you with such things as hand made pillow lace, at a fraction of the price you would be prepared to pay anywhere else. Hand knitted articles in designs reminiscent of FairIsle and other Scottish Islands as well as modern sweaters and pullovers selling from £5.00 to £8.00 each. I wonder how long it will be before someone comes along and spoils it? Hand drawn table linen, which is reminiscent of that other beautiful Island, Ireland. Religion on the Island is strictly Roman Catholic and the Islanders are extremely strong in their faith - every village has its own parish church and each one is grander than the last. In ...

Siena (Italy) 17/07/2001

Siena, Italy's Jewel in the Crown.

Siena (Italy) I was lucky enough to be chosen, by the Colchester Town Council, to put together a Judo Team to represent the town at the Twin Town Games in the Magical City of Sienna in Tuscany, Italy. I was also fortunate enough to be working for the Local Newspapers at the time and they requested that I prepare a write-up of the event. I thought it would be churlish not to include a "Travelogue", of Sienna whilst I was there, so here it is. I found it hard to understand why the magical city of Siena is not on any of the tours offered by Travel Agents. Not that I am personally disappointed, for the very selfish reason that I was able to enjoy this Italian delight in comparative isolation from everything that smacks of "Holidays Abroad". Just 35 miles south of Florence, Siena is a jewel of medieval splendour. It invites the visitor to stroll through narrow Gothic streets, lined with palaces and patrician mansions, the oldest bank in the world - the entrance of which more befits a church - and the famous Piazza del Campo. This square or rather quadrant, is the venue, twice annually, for the popular Palio delle Contrade. The whole town prepares for this spectacular event for weeks beforehand. It recalls the medieval administrative organisation of Siena with its 17 parishes or Contrade, beginning with a procession in costume and followed by, what is possibly the most dangerous and spectacular, horse race, around the Piazza. The Palio is a standard or banner which bears ...

Hunstanton in General 10/07/2001

Hurry to Hunstanton.

Hunstanton in General Have you been to Hunstanton? The first time that I went was in the late 1970's and was surprised how quiet it was. I went there, with my wife and small son after first visiting Kings' Lynne, one Sunday in May. We had a running family joke for many years about Kings' Lynne, which went, something like, "Went to Kings' Lynne once and it was closed". We visited Hunstanton on the same day and the quietness took a little getting used to. We felt that we had stepped back in time. The feel of Hunstanton is that the World has passed it by, therein lies its wonder. It is not a very big town, it has a cluster of shops, banks, pubs and in fact everything that one needs of any small town when you are on holiday. There are some very nice hotels and restaurants which are mostly geared up for familes and many guest houses and bed and breakfast establishments that I thought had disappeared during the 60's. There is a splendid town hall, which enjoyed its centenary in 1996 along with the Methodist Church and the recreation ground. The pier was built in 1870 and the town, at that time was favoured as a health cure. The Victorians were very big on town where you went to be cured of something; either the water or the mud was said to be efficacious! In the 1950's there was a huge influx of Americans working at nearby Sculthorpe Air Force base and that earned Hunstanton the name of little Brooklyn. In 1953 sixteen of the 31 who died in the infamous and disastrous East Coast floods ...

Lincoln in General 10/07/2001

Lope along to Lovely Lincoln

Lincoln in General I have said that the city of Rochester, in beautiful Kent is one of the smallest cities in England and that, for that, I love it. Lincoln however is one of England's most beautiful Cathedral cities. Set on a hill, overlooking the unspoilt Lincolnshire countryside, you can see further than in practically any other county in England. The land is so flat that, the relief of a wooded area containing a few trees, a welcome sight in the area, could almost be called a forest. The Romans were amongst the first to discover Lincoln. They must have gone north from the town in which I now live, Colchester the old Roman Capital of England. In AD48 they set up a military garrison in Lincoln to watch over the two great highways from North to South and from East to West. Roman Lincoln became one of the finest cities in Europe with, an inland harbour, an aqueduct and a sewerage system that was, at that time, unique in Britain. I would think that Lincoln Cathedral is one of the finest buildings in Europe. Cologne Cathedral takes some beating but I would think that Lincoln comes a close second. The Normans started to build here in 1072 but the church was rebuilt in the 13th century after damage by fire, and, would you believe an earth tremor. Churches in Colchester suffered from tremors and an earthquake in the 19th century and are probably on the same fault line on the East Coast of England. Lincoln Cathedral's spire in 1311 was the tallest building in the world. There are many ...

Member Advice on Learning a Language 01/07/2001

Learn another Language.

Member Advice on Learning a Language Language is everything - by this I mean that you are nowhere at all without it. If you want to be understood in your own country and even in your own area of that country then you must understand the language, the dialect, the local idiom. In English Schools we do not start learning another language, other than English until about the age of eleven. Far too late: By now the majority of children have learned their own local idioms and their learning curve is inextricably set to their own local dialect. They find that learning any language, even another English dialect is too difficult. We all know that attempting to learn anything at all which is difficult leads us to one conclusion. I can't learn that! (I don't personally believe that there should be such a word as can't or even cannot anyone who tries to do anything at all can accomplish it. But leave that discussion to another opinion). In the first place, I believe that all children should start learning at least one other language as soon as they begin to speak. This would be, at first, very difficult if the parents had no second language. In a multicultural society however which England - Sorry I mean Great Britain or the United Kingdom, whichever description of these Islands suits you - has now become, nearly everybody has two languages. I don't necessarily mean the latest group of immigrants to these shores although the various Colonials that have come, ''home'', are a natural consideration. Indians, ...

Judo - General 29/06/2001

Judo, a sport for all, 8 to 80.

Judo - General Judo is a sport for everybody, any age, any sex, any caste, colour or creed. It may be played and enjoyed by anyone with any disability, even blindness and is an aid to all the senses as well as being a great confidence and character builder. It is the only sport that is played in more countries in the World than any other and the only Martial Art that is fully accepted into the Olympic games. Opinions usually begin with the origins of Judo as they do with other Martial Arts. This does not happen with any other sport or collections of sports that I know. The reasons are not mysterious. Judoka (one who practises, or as we say plays, Judo) are proud of what Judo has taught them and they are encouraged and also eventually want to remember where this wonderful sport or art came from. It has been well documented elsewhere so I will just give my honest opinion about Judo for all and in particular, children. The Jesuits had a saying, "Give me the child at the age of seven and I will give you back the man!" Many Judo schools, organisations, federations and societies do not want to start Judo Players until the age of 8 which is reminiscent of the academic schools in UK where they do not teach languages until a child is too old to have any interest in it. I ask you, at what age do children in Switzerland, for instance start learning the 3 or 4 languages they finish up with. Most of the European countries are bi-lingual or tri-lingual and learn languages at school ...

Saga 28/06/2001

Saga is not just for Wrinklies.

Saga Have just been on a Saga, all inclusive, Holiday to Malta. Wanted to make sure that we were looked after at whatever cost for one week whilst we sampled somewhere new, (We usually go to Spain or Italy). We found that the brochure is totally informative and everything is explained in great detail, almost got fed up with their office keep sending updates, months before we were about to go. Were able to select exactly the hotel and other refinements we wanted and found, when we got to Maltal that all was exactly as explained leaving us to enjoy the holiday at our own leisure. The Hotel had a buffet service for all meals as well as another restaurant where you could dine a la carte. The local Saga representative was always on hand, every day from 8AM until 10AM and from 5PM until 7PM with extra visits to ensure that new arrivals and departures were attended to. There were many excursions on offer and there was no pressure to take part if you didn't want to. Each excursion was accompanied by a local, very experienced and well informed guide that made each excursion so much more enjoyable. I would recommend SAGA to anyone and not only will visit Malta again we are looking forward to our next SAGA escapade. SAGA offer holidays of all types in the UK as well as overseas and, for the members of SAGA (We have now joined) there are offers on car insurance and other goodies. ...

Best Western Hotels 26/06/2001

Rabbits in Malta

Best Western Hotels On a visit to Malta, not having been there before, we wanted to make sure that we stayed at a good hotel. We chose the Best Western Hotel of Les Lapins. SAGA gave a very full description of this hotel and we decided to try it. Les LAPINS (at Ta'XbieX ((Say, tashbeesh)), as you will know, if you understand French, means "The Rabbits", which are very prolific and popular on the Maltese Islands and form a great part of the local culinary delights. We opted for a balcony (slight supplement) overlooking the Marina which is situated just behind Valetta in one of the creeks. It is on the western side of the Valetta promontory and only a walk away from Sliema, one of the Islands resorts, only a short ferry ride across the bay from Valetta. If you go there, visit Valetta first before trying the Ferry as the climb from the Ferry in Valetta is up a long, one-in-ten, Hill - not funny in the heat. The Hotel is international, air conditioned in all the rooms. Buffet Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in one Restaurant and a la Carte in another. There are bars on the ground floor and the Pentouse (7th floor) and there are also swimming pools on these two floors. The food is excellent, the staff all speak English and cannot do enough for you. I cannot remember when I last had that sort of service outside the Hong Kong Hilton. Expensive you might ask? - not a bit of it. When we stayed in Malta the Maltese Lire was very strong and you could say that this made everything more ...
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