Posted by: travelrat | January 17, 2021

Thw Wrist Watch

I gave a snort of derision when I first heard the tem ‘wearable technology’. I’ve been doing that for as long as I remember, I thought … as has just about everyone I know. But, we simply called it a wrist watch.

Now, just about every time I turn on the TV, they’re trying to sell watches that monitor your pulse, your heart rate … and probably remind you when you’re due your next dental check-up. But, I think most people have stuck to watches that simply tell you the time. Of course, there are those that regard their watch as an indication of their success, wealth and influence. My view is … it does the same job as a watch that didn’t cost the same as a decent motor bike … and nobody ever got mugged for a Swatch!

Mention of these prestigious timepieces does, though, remind me of a tale from many years ago. So long ago, I can’t even remember where, exactly, it took place. One young troop excitedly recommended a shop in the local market; he excitedly told us he had bought a Rolex for only twenty quid! I do remember, though, our ‘Skipper’s’ response:

‘If that’s a genuine Rolex, laddie, I’m the Duke of Edinburgh. And, you have to call me Your Royal Highness!’

‘Skipper’ wore (I think) a Seiko, in spite of the fact that most aircrew were issued with a Hamilton ‘Chronograph’. This was classified as a ‘Valuable and Attractive’ item, which would involve a lifetime’s grief and form-filling if you lost, or even broke it. There was a joke that the Royal Air Force was the only organisation that takes your watch off you when you retire … and it has been known for some to be returned in the box they were issued in.

Sometimes, I wonder if the wrist watch has had its day. Most people carry a device, mobile phone or tablet … that has a built-in clock anyway. So, will this maybe, render a watch superfluous?

I have another watch story, too, dating from the mid-80s. I was paying for petrol at a service area, when I realised I’d come out without my watch. The lady behind the counter showed me a card displaying cheap digital watches … at £1.50 each.

And, that’s exactly what my first-ever watch cost, back in 1953!

Posted by: travelrat | January 14, 2021

Another Train!

Albufeira: 12th September 2020

On our last day in Albufeira, we took a ride on the land train which tours the town. In retrospect, we should maybe have done this on our first day here. The tour didn’t really show us anything we hadn’t seen before, on the open-top bus tours. However, we did see more of ‘The Strip’, where many of the bars and nightclubs are. I always feel a little saddened at such places. Why do people journey abroad, then seek to impose their own culture upon the place? I mean, if I want to drink in an Irish bar, I’ll go to Ireland; if I want a full English breakfast, I’ll stay home

Posted by: travelrat | January 12, 2021

N for ….

Netherlands:

I wanted to avoid the clichés of windmills, tulips and clogs … and Maastricht is just about as far from them … and everything else in the Netherlands ,,, as possible.

Norway:

‘Did you ever go to a place … Norway, I think it was called? That was one of mine! Won a prize, you know. Lovely crinkly edges’

(The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Posted by: travelrat | January 10, 2021

Gullible’s Travels

Gullible’s Travels

John Carter

Bradt Travel Guides. Ltd,

ISBN: 978.1 78477 032.7

Anyone who liked to watch TV travel programmes ‘back in the day’ will be familiar with the name of John Carter. Here, he takes a look back at his exploits over the past six decades, both as a travel broadcaster and a ‘private citizen’. He uses a breezy, informal style in a series of easy-to-read short stories, detailing his exploits … not always favourable to him.

I’m particularly interested in his take on a number of popular resorts back in the 60s, ‘before the tourists came’; the Algarve and the Costa Smeralda in particular. And, of course, the people he met on the way.

This is a book to read from cover to cover once, then keep it on your bedside table, to dip into from time to time, and read a random chapter of two, as you like.

Posted by: travelrat | January 7, 2021

Pavement Patterns

I first came upon these patterns on the Promenade at Copacabana, in Rio de Janeiro. I was particularly pleased with the picture I took; the pattern seemed to draw the eye to the figures in the middle distance. The judges in a photo competition I entered it into apparently thought so, too, for they awarded it a ‘Honourable Mention’.

(Of course. Honourable Mentions don’t pay for many trips, or upgrades to my photographic gear, but they’re still nice to have)

These patterns, I was told, were popular in Portugal, and were brought over by early Portuguese settlers. So, I went looking for them. I didn’t see any in Albufeira, until we got to the Old Town. But, there were plenty in Lagos.

Posted by: travelrat | January 5, 2021

M for …

Marseille:

A French port … and another port at which we wish we could have stayed a little longer.

Melbourne:

I couldn’t post a picture of Melbourne without one of the famous trams in it!

Posted by: travelrat | January 3, 2021

Where am I?

I suppose it’s to do with the amount of time I used to spend in the hills, or maybe it’s something I picked up in the Air Force, but I always have to know approximately where, on the surface of the Earth I am … and the less ‘approximate’ the better!

Recently, I came upon www.what3words.com , which seems to me to be an extremely ingenious idea. The idea is, you can identify any 3-metre square on the planet by just quoting three words.

What can you do with this? Well, if someone is visiting you, instead of giving complicated instructions, you’d just tell him ‘treacle.viking.aardvark’ or something, and with these words, he could find you. Maybe he could feed them into his SATNAV? 

Or, the mail! It could even do away with the need for addresses and postcodes … and, hiking across town to take a letter to Stinkwort Avenue which was delivered to your home in Stinkwort Drive. (as an aside, if you wrote on it ‘Not Known Here’ or ‘Return To Sender’, I wonder where it would finish up?

Mind you. Our Post Office is already pretty resourceful. A letter was once delivered to my friend, addressed thus:

‘Mr Malcolm (??)

(Village that sounds like a policeman (???)

Yorkshire.

The letter was delivered only two days after posting … possibly facilitated by the fact that Constable Burton is a very small village!   

Happy New Year to all visitors! I hope 2021 turns out much better than 2020 did!

Posted by: travelrat | December 31, 2020

Henry the Navigator

Sitting on a plinth, seemingly staring out to sea, is a statue of probably Lagos’ most famous son, the Infante Dom Henrique, better known as Prince Henry the Navigator. He was born in 1394, the fourth son of Portugal’s King John I.

In 1415, he accompanied his father and brothers in the capture of Ceuta, on the North African coast, which had previously been the base for the Barbary pirates who plagued the Mediterranean coasts. After this he explored the African coast, skirmishing occasionally with the Barbary pirates who remained.

He was appointed Governor of the Algarve province, on Portugal’s southern coast, and had built for him a palace called the Vila do Infante, near Sagres. Close by was the port of Lagos, where an innovative kind of ship, the caravel was being built. This was much more manoeuvrable than the traditional ‘square rigger’, since it had a lateen sail, like an Arabian dhow, which allowed it to sail into wind.

And, the caravels sailed far and wide at the Prince’s command. He wasn’t styled ‘Henry the Navigator’ until three centuries later. It’s a bit of a misnomer, anyway, for, as far as is known, he didn’t actually do much navigating … he just sat in his palace, and briefed his captains something like:

‘Go! Learn things and discover places!’

However, information the captains brought back was carefully recorded and collated … and, although Henry financed these voyages, he was entitled to 20% of the profits arising from them! So, maybe expanding the Portuguese influence wasn’t his sole motive?

Posted by: travelrat | December 29, 2020

L for …

Lima:

When we landed at Lima, we had a couple of hours before our flight to Cuzco. But, we were met by guides sent by the tour company, to show us as much as possible of their city,

Leros:

One of the Dodecanese Islands … the port, and former Italian Navy base of Lakki was built in the Art Deco style much favoured by Mussolini when the islands were under Italian rule between the Wars.

Posted by: travelrat | December 27, 2020

Looking Back

This is my last ‘Sunday Miscellany’ post of 2020, and I shan’t be sorry to see the back of this year. And, to think I thought 2016 was bad!

Usually, I’d look back at the places I’ve been this year … but, like everyone else, this will be forever marked as ‘the year I didn’t go anywhere’. Not quite true; we did get a week in Portugal, although they ‘demolished the air corridor’ while we were away, and we had to quarantine when we returned.

Maybe I should look at places we didn’t go … Borneo (postponed twice, then cancelled), Croatia and Slovenia, Sardinia … at least, we got everything refunded, and the money is ring-fenced for when we can go somewhere.

Last Christmas, among my presents, I received a copy of the National Geographic’s ‘2019 Almanac’, I’d suspect, if they’re bringing out a 2020 edition, it’s going to be a lot thinner.  

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