Saturday, July 30, 2005
How quickly a holiday goes, I've been here two weeks now and it only seems like a few days, but I'll put that down to the hectic round of visiting the in-laws and the rest of the family.
Tomorrow, theres going to be a huge celebration in Sevastopol, part of their rememberances for the end of the "Great Patriotic War' as they call it. The harbour in Sevastopol is filling up with great warships which will form the centre of a huge water borne parade, again I will be taking loads of pictures, something which would have been totally impossible ten years ago.
Yesterday I mentioned Balaclava, upto about 1996, this was a closed town, not even people from Sevastopol, the next city were allowed to enter. If you had to enter you had to have special passes, because of the secret sub bases.
Sevastopol was also a main naval base for the soviet navy and of course is still very 'Russian' rather than Ukrainian.
I have mentioned before in this blog how ironic it is that only ten plus years ago, these lovely people, my wife and family, were our 'enemies' and our leaders were ready to obliterate them in a nuclear holocaust! How ridiculous that sounds when one is sat relaxing in a beach bar enjoying the local Piva!
well I suppose I must get off to the beach, its just gone 10am here and the locals are probably on their second bottle of beer, i've some catching up to do!
Friday, July 29, 2005
Yesterday in best Angliski spion tradition I visited the 'secret' submarine bases in Balaclava (and no jokes about wooly headgear your mum used to make either!). I took enough photos to make James Bond envious and was extremely worried when we were in a dark underground vault and the guide told us that this was where they made the nuclear torpedos, I worry that I might glow in the dark, but its more likely that the asbestosis will get me from the amount of corrugated asbestos board that had been used to build the place with.
Yes One might have been saved from the initial nuclear strike but the shoddy workmanship would get you in the end. No doubt the problems occuring because probably the place was built by inmates from the Gulag.
well must be off
Monday, July 25, 2005
Hello all from Ukraine.
Do you think I look like a 'mastermind'? Well according to Special Branch I must do. There I was minding my own business in the departure lounge at Bristol airport. They called our flight and we sped to the gate to be first on the plane and myself and my family were pulled by Scotland Yard Plod or special branch. They told me it was just routine, but wanted to look at my passport, ask me where I worked, my date of birth and where I was going and why. Just routine they said. Then he wandered off and spoke to his partner. Came back and was very polite and let us get on the bus for the plane - phew. But I watched him and he didn't stop anyone else on our flight. So all I can think is that i fitted the profile of the London Bombing mastermind - spooky hey, but at least we can sleep safe in our bed knowing that special branch is on the ball stopping people in loud shirts.
I have been enjoying Ukrainian hospitality which includes imbibing loads of vodka and chips. Chips simply becuase the idea of vegetarianism hasn't really hit Ukraine yet and vodka, well simply because its there and if you are thinking its something similar to smirnoff you are very wrong. Why its just gone midday and I've had to partake in a number of toast already (hic). Well the suns over the yardarm somewhere in the world!
Tomorrow we are off to Sevastopol on the sleeper train, I have taken loads of photos, some of which I will post when I get back.
If you want to travel to Ukraine look at my website www.ukraine-4u.com and I can arrainge a great holiday with you with the friendliestpeople.
I'm of to a cafe now for more chips and vodka, so stay cool dudes!
Friday, July 15, 2005
So dear readers, it has come this, my last post in England before I set out across the channel to the land of Johnny Foreigner, those lands where, unless I’m very lucky I will not see a civilised toilet for at least 4 weeks and I don’t think I can hold it that long.
To the lands where time forgot, or at least something was forgotten, perhaps it was building regulations or how to cook palatable food or how to mix concrete properly. I don’t know but in some quarters Stalin is still the man, apparently quite popular with some of the old guard, obviously the ones that didn’t go to the Gulags, like my wife’s grandfather, who was never seen again.
For those who are wondering what I am wibbling on about, I am off to sunny Ukraine today and flying tomorrow. You will notice that I did not write ‘The’ Ukraine, because saying ‘The Ukraine’ really gets up their noses and is incorrect. I mean we don’t say Oh we’re off to The Devon, or The France (maybe ‘the’ USA works, there’s always an exception to the rule and we always have to make exceptions for those Yanks and anyway Bruce Springsteen would have had a problem with his song titles!) or The Germany, so there’s no need for us to say ‘The’ Ukraine, its just Ukraine.
Despite my first two paragraphs, written for humorous effect and of course no hint of truth in them (clears throat surreptitiously), I do enjoy going to Ukraine, it is a wonderful country and cheap too, I would recommend it to anyone who wants a different holiday. Get down to Crimea (not ‘the’ Crimea) and enjoy the Black Sea (yes ‘The’ Black Sea is correct don’t get pedantic with me) and the wonderful places to visit.
Of course you also get a flavour of what it was like during the Soviet times as its only 10 years since independence so many things remain the same. The people are very friendly and of course if you want a wife, like I did, its cherry picking time (er I’m not sure if that’s a good analogy) anyway it is a lovely place with lovely people and its all just lovely, am I gushing now?
Of course if any of you dear readers would like a postcard from the edge or even Ukraine from Dr. Rob please go to my website at www.ukraine-4u.com and contact me (with your address of course) via the contact email address given there and I will attempt to find you the most boringest soviet style postcard I can, unless of course you want a nice one.
Now I have to go and see if I can fit any stuff in the overflowing suitcase.
Hasta La Vista
‘I’ll be back’, as someone famous once said
I will try and Blog from Ukraine – honest! - Before Withdrawal, Cold Turkey and the Shakes set in ....
Thursday, July 14, 2005
This is my two minutes silence to remember and honour those who lost their lives and who were injured in the London Bombing, as we should also remember their families too. We should also remember the families of these misguided boys who caused such distaster, they need our thoughts and support right now.
Give Peace a Chance!
Love Peace and Happiness
We think we will be OK because as there are 4 of us in the family the total baggage allowance will be 80 kilos plus the 40 kilos allowed as hand baggage, but as more and more things are dragged out of the wardrobes and other hidey holes, I start to worry. I worry because I know my mother has another suitcase waiting for us at her house of unwanted clothing which we will take to Ukraine to dole out amongst the family. She tells me that this is another 11 kilos. I worry because the excess baggage payment could eat severely into our spending money.
My wife wants us to dump the three sets of snorkelling equipment from the boys suitcases to enable her to fill it with more stuff and clothes, as she has to have an item of clothing for every eventuality including the sudden onset of the ice age – this in a country where the temperatures are currently in the 30s. The boys and I will be allowed, it seems a pair of shorts, a pair of trousers and a few t shirts, maybe a more formal shortsleeve shirt for me (for meeting the parents as if they have never seen me in a t shirt!), plus our swimming things and some pants. (I have secretly put my books under the clothes she has already packed – snigger)
Talking about pants (undergarments for our American friends) I am currently wearing my holiest (or should that be holeyest) pair as all my clean pairs are packed ready for the big day. That’s the thing about going away; one doesn’t want to dirty the clothes set aside for the hols and have to wash stuff when one’s away. Really someone should re-invent paper pants for holidays, so every night one could just throw them away, use them to light the barbecue or what ever and next morning just tear a new pair off the roll. Isn’t that a great idea, remember paper pant manufacturers you heard it here first – I want my cut!
Last night I experienced severe stomach pains, the immediate urgent need to rush to the loo before I soiled myself, sweating, dizziness and uncontrollable swearing!
Yes I had lost the airplane tickets.
Well not so much lost as misplaced. I always keep the tickets in the envelope they came in (Purchased off the net - O and if you do need to purchase airplane tickets please do so through the links on my website www.ukraine-4u.com you will find the cheapest deals there and in that way I will receive a little bit of money off the airlines/agents, at no extra cost to you, and it helps me keep this informative site up and running – thanks) Yes, I always keep the tickets in the envelope on top of some books in the bookcase, I know they are there, I can see them on a regular basis. So last night I took the envelope down and IT WAS EMPTY!!!!!
I experienced all the symptoms listed above and probably some more, in fact I did notice that my hair had got greyer this morning when I looked in the mirror, as I frantically started searching for the tickets, which after about 10 minutes of frantic looking my wife found, on the bottom shelf of the bookcase, under my daughters crayon box. – How did they get there? I quizzed the family – dumb insolence was the response – no one knew.
Well I hadn’t put them there, the rest of the family denied it, and so the only explanation is that someone or other crept into our house with the sole purpose of moving the airline tickets from their usual place to somewhere more unusual.
And if you were that person or something or other – STAY OUTTA MY HOUSE.
I need a holiday
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Going on holiday is expensive, we all know that. There’s the transport costs, the hotel costs, the ‘having enough in one’s pockets to enjoy one’s self’ costs, they all mount up. So most of us try to save up and save up until we leave that state of Holiday limbo we entered into about 4 days before leaving work on that particular afternoon and enter holiday Nirvana.
I am currently in holiday limbo. The clock is counting down. I currently have, by my estimate 10 hours left at what we might want to laughingly call ‘work’. All my projects have been finished, reports written, ‘clients’ mollified and told to get back to me sometime in mid-august. My desk is now clear of cake crumbs, chocolate wrappers, crisp packets, coffee stains and assorted bits of paper that might or might not have had something to do with my job. They are now all filed in the bin as ‘outgoing’. All my pens are lined up like soldiers, my stapler and hole punch are lined up next to the sellotape dispenser like Concords after their last flight, they have been mothballed for the duration.
As I have been in holiday limbo, my lunch breaks have naturally had to be extended in order to get down town to buy all those things I will really need* and have forgotten to get on the normal shopping days of Saturday and Sunday.
Now I know I said going on holiday is expensive, but there is always a hidden cost that we forget when we are adding up how much our holidays cost us. This hidden cost is what the wife will spend on essentials for the holiday. Such as at least two new outfits, two new swimming costumes (despite there being 3 or 4 perfectly good ones in the drawer – I know I looked), new shoes, new bag, new cosmetics, new hat, presents for all and sundry (we will be visiting the family in Ukraine), about 20 packs of tea (don’t ask me why), new tee shirts for her and the boys, new swimsuits for the boys, new sunglasses, about 6 different factors of suncream, new undies, (a failed attempt at a new camera), the list goes on, I can’t as I would have to crawl under my desk and slit my wrists.
By the way I had a haircut as my contribution to the holiday spending extravaganza, O and I bought some more shaving oil, but I would have had to buy that anyway, and come to think of it ditto the haircut!
I am not looking forward to the 2 hour stop over at Schipol Airport either – have you seen how many shops they have got there….
* This is what I really need for my holiday
Books - Three for the price of two at Waterstones, the rest of the books I’m taking have been bought over time at car boot sales for 20-50p each – I hope to take at least 10 books with me.
Afore mentioned shaving oil
Ear phones for my MP3 player
Daktarin for those prickly heat moments
New Hat as I left my bestest one on a train in Portugal a few years ago and have been hatless ever since
The rest of the stuff I have at home, why buy new stuff when the odds are KLM will send it to the Dutch Antibes instead of Kiev!
Time for a hard earned cup of tea I think!
(PS. America that’s irony!)
So these boys decided to bite the hand that feeds them, however poorly that might be. Although it seems that these guys are not the alienated unemployed Asian youth the TV will no doubt focus on, but generally from good families (not that the unemployed boys are not good) and by good I mean hard working, industrious, small business people, the very sort that get maligned by their not so bright and not so industrious white neighbours, who moan about the ‘Paki’s’ taking our jobs, except for when they need a packet of fags at 10:30 on a Sunday night and the only shop open is the shop on the corner.
What these boys seem to have forgotten to take out of the equation (or they may well have considered this) is the aftermath of their actions, not on the people of London or Britain in general, because as we have seen it is simply ‘business as usual’ in London, these toe rags have not changed one thing. But within their own communities things will get tough. Not only will the Police presence and undoubtedly the security services be increased in their communities but their innocent Muslim, Asian, Black brothers and sisters will be tarred with the same brush and innocent kids will get the shit kicked out of them by the bully boys of the National Front and BNP.
These rightwing thicko’s have enough of a toehold in these northern city’s and towns without these misguided idiots giving this sick bunch of psychos some sort of reason to start parading around the streets of Leeds and Bradford like Mosley’s Blackshirts threatening and terrorising the Black and Asian Community.
The TV has already poured some fuel on this debate as only this morning the news team interviewed some blonde doxie in Leeds with a horde of kids around her feet who was mouthing off about ‘them people who come into our country’. Ding Dong lady these kids are born and bred here, they are as English as you are, even if you don’t like the colour of their skin, their customs and their religion, they belong here you mongrel.
Clearly these kids have been manipulated into carrying out this gruesome attack and I feel for their families, their mums and dads, brothers and sisters, who will have to continue to live with their neighbours, white, asian and black with this weight upon their shoulders. The Police and security services need to apprehend the people who are twisting these boys minds.
There are evil people abroad, with evil thoughts that poison the minds of our youth, both Al Qaeda or the rightwing groups such as the NF or BNP.
Enoch Powell once wrote: ‘As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see "the River Tiber foaming with much blood."’ I would hate to see his predictions come to some awful fruition. We must ALL stand with our Muslim, and Asian friends, neighbours, brothers, sisters, and comrades and not allow this evil to continue.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Now, despite the overwhelming urge to provided encouragement and indeed practical help (like a good shove in the back) to these shivering youngsters who stand teetering on the wall summing up the courage to leap out past the back breaking rocks into the sea a good twenty or thirty feet below, I am at a bit of a loss to understand their fashion sense.
Most of these kids, mostly male I might add, are wearing wetsuits (apart from the few who are brave or just too poor to own a wetsuit) but they are also wearing shorts over the wetsuit! What is that about? Are these boys so self conscious that they have to cover their groins, that are already encased in about one eight of an inch in neoprene, with a pair of shorts. Maybe they are scared that the girls, who they are clearly trying to impress, as there is always a group of be-tattooed blonde bimbettes hanging over the wall screaming epithets at their hero’s as they surface once again, blowing the briny ocean out of their lungs, scared that the girls will notice a slight bulge in their suits and presume that they, god forbid, have cocks?
Maybe they are worried that the fear and the impact of the cold water on their genitals would actually mean that there isn’t even a bulge to show off, maybe that’s an even greater fear for a pubescent teenager intent on showing off his prowess and bravery by leaping into the sea. And no doubt if they used a sock or two balled up to provide a suitable bulge, they would, no doubt after a few leaps and dowsings make their way down the wetsuit leg to hang flapping like a slightly off white flag of shame for all to see and rag upon.
I can also understand the need to wear trainers for the great leap, as they have to scramble up rocks to get back onto the wall, but socks as well? I am sure that if these kids actually knew how stupid they looked, they would all throw themselves off the wall without a second thought whilst holding the concrete block they had chained around their necks, never to surface again. But I guess if they all do it then they’re not stupid, because it’s the done thing.
And I, of course, never ever looked stupid on the beach in the hand knitted costume my mum knitted for me!
Saturday, July 09, 2005
In a week I will be off to Ukraine for a month with my wife to visit her mum and dad and family. While we are there we will be meeting up with an America (Glenn - do you know him? From Georgia?) who I 'met' earlier this year online when he rented our flat in Vinnitsa, Ukraine (see my webiste www.ukraine-4u.com) for a few days. He has returned to Ukraine this summer on a mission with his church and will meet up with us for a trip to Lvov before returning to the US of A.
My little dilemma (and I am not really this unimaginative) is what gifts from the UK should I take to give him and his 14 year old daughter who is with him? He tells me that he's not much of a drinker, so the tradition bottle of scotch is out. And what would be like kewl for a 14 year old Southern girl? A Tee Shirt with Plymouth UK? on it? Or a list of the pilgrim fathers?
Anyway thats the task for today as I am all presented out having to think of what to take for the Ukrainian contingent and still have some room in my suitcase for some clean undies!
Friday, July 08, 2005
What fun that was, I enjoyed my self and at the same time seemed to alienate about a third of the readers, well the voters anyway! But hey, you guys, you who have found your way here from the House, who enjoy a good wibble, now know where it is. Welcome to Dr. Robs Day – the home of the wibble. I’ll have to try and keep the standard up!
During my time in the house, my alter ego, the real Dr. Rob, had to continue his normal job of careering around the countryside, visiting schools, doing research on behalf of the large educational institution that he works for. Sorry drifted into the third person again there – back to first person please Dr Rob!
And of course I have to eat out. And I want to moan on for a minute about bad service in restaurants. Is it only me as I seem to be jinxed. Whenever I go into the restaurant, there always seems to be a problem in the kitchen, they have employed waiters with amnesia, I become strangely invisible as I enter the doorway so they ignore me and serve the 20 people who come in behind me.
A number of examples, and I do have hundreds.
On Sunday I was in Wales, I had to drive up in the afternoon as I had a 9 am appointment the next day. I got there about 7:30 ish and decided that instead of sitting in my hotel room I would go to see ‘War of the Worlds’. Fortunately next to the Cinema was a Pizza Hut. Great I could buy my ticket for the 8:30 show and get a bite to eat!
So ticket purchased, into Pizza Hut. Made my order, Pizza and side salad, nothing too complicated. First I had to pint out there was no soap in the Gents toilets, then had to point out that the bowl I had been given for my salad was dirty. Got my salad, sat and eat it. Then I waited, the film remember started at 8:30. At 8:31 I asked where my Pizza was. ‘O’ said the girl, there’s a problem in the kitchen, ‘THEY RAN OUT OF PIZZA’S!’ ‘ Great’ I said, why didn’t you tell me? My film started a minute ago ( it didn’t really , well the adverts did). So no food that evening and I didn’t pay for the salad and coke!
Then a while ago we visited the Barbican, in Plymouth to sit in the sun. We decided to have some food, sitting outside a restaurant that had been recommended to us. We ordered coffee and some starters as all we wanted was a light snack. My started was hummus and toast (basically) my daughter wanted chips (well she is 6) and my wife was having a prawn cocktail. Nothing too difficult there then. We sat, drank the coffee, ate the bread that came, my wife took Matilda for a walk because she was getting bored and after half an hour I had to beckon the waiter over and say what’s the problem? He went away, came back and said ‘O’ there’s a problem in the kitchen! (i..e. they forgot us!). ‘It would be here in a few minutes’, I told him ‘I assumed that they would not be charging us for the food’. He offered us the drinks for free. 10 minutes later the food still hadn’t arrived, so we got up and walked off.
My point is, we all work hard for our money and if these sladdash restaurants want our money then they had better work hard for it too. I don’t give me money away.
That’s why I enjoy Gordon Ramsey’s TV programmes where he shows Restaurant owners just how bad they really are.
Start complaining, you know it makes sense!
Sunday, July 03, 2005
I spent most of my day watching the Live8 concert on a big screen in Plymouth City Centre.
Am I a wus? Because I spent most of the time with a huge lump in my throat and tears coursing down my face.
It’s a tremendous time for us all in the world and in particular those people in Africa at the moment and so much depends on it. How in a democracy can everything simple depend on 8 individual men – politicians at that!
Children are dying every three seconds, how can I not look at my 6 year old daughter and not feel torn. I would be totally distraught if she died and I couldn’t do anything about it. How often do we hear people in the West say ‘O I’d die for my kids’ but we sort of know that’s never going to be the case. IN Africa parents, men and women are losing their children even as I write - there goes another one…. It’s an unfortunate case here in the UK if a child is harmed or God forbid, killed. How many kids in the UK have died of starvation? Maybe a few through the neglect of their parents who are probably unsuitable anyway but never one every three seconds. My god there would be an almighty uproar if that was ever the case here in the UK.
Our kids here in the West are religiously protected, they have become SACRED objects. One can hardly look at them without incurring some sort of record as a bad parent or paedophile. God forbid that we should force them to do something that might in some way or other put the little darlings at risk, like go on a school trip or feed them greens!
I am not a great charity giver, I, like most people, need to protect my family first and foremost. But if Governments or more precisely these 8 unfortunate men can sort this out, if they need a shove, a push, a big poke in the eye to make them see then we need to be poking and shoving every minute of every day!
I hope that these Concerts have done this, I hope they have listened and seen the ground swell of opinion that has turned against them.
If they do not, then let’s follow Trotsky. His advice, still valid today, is One Solution – Revolution!
Not in the sense of over turning the democratic process but over turning the negative, protectionist thinking of these protectionist males. If they will not listen to today, then things MUST escalate until they listen and change the world.
Meanwhile I’ll continue crying for the adults and children dying right now in Africa which is a fucking fantastic place and I know because I have lived there!.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
I saw THE WHO many many years ago at the NEC but these two songs really blew my mind tonight, weren't they the best?
Friday, July 01, 2005
I admit that I had fallen on my own sword as I didn’t think that I would have time to blog as I am in the middle of a project at work which means being not only away from my desk, but being away from home, so I thought I would not have time to blog, or post a final blog, so I thought that I could get beamed out and have some fun. But best laid plans and all that….
Anyway I am back in and no doubt will have to face a third vote. Maybe some of those anonymous bloggers who vote against me, could actually break their silence and tell me what is the problem – Its Big Blogger and I blog, the rules do not disallow it. Come on lurkers I dare you to tell me, I won’t be upset or anything, honest. It’s a game right?
What gets me more annoyed is people not doing what they both say they will do and are actually paid to do.
Over the last few days I have been driving here and there across the country doing my job. On Wednesday I drove for 4 hours, did my work, drove back, picked up a colleague in Sunny Plymouth and then had to drive to Chelmsford another 6 hour drive, so that we could attend an event there at 9 am the next morning. Spent a night in a hotel, got to the event on time and raring to go, only to be told by the organiser that we did not have permission to be there and that we could not do what we wanted to do (a spot of market research). So we had to turn around and drive the 6 hours back to sunny Plymouth.
Were we pissed, (emotionally not alcoholically) of course, the person whose responsibility it was to get that permission, had told us, everything was OK! And when we phoned her, she just said, O well come home’.
I had been driving and sat in my car for over 15 hours the previous day and now we had at least a nother 6 hours drive home, in the event it was 8 hours, we had to use the M25!.
There’s a good old adage which really does work, If you want something doing well, do it yourself!
And when I ask for more money, they always say well you’re at the top of your scale and you’d need more responsibility before we can pay you more – WELL GIVE ME THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DOING ALL THE THINGS I HAVE TO DO BECAUSE THE OTHER MANAGERS ALWAYS SEEM TO FUCK IT UP AND IT ALWAYS IMPACTS UPON WHAT I AM TRYING TO DO!
Phew got that off my chest didn’t I.
Stressed me nah – where’s the vallium!