Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Postcards from Australia Part 3 - Jet Lag and the 50th Shade of Unfashionable Lateness

Dear Reader, 

When I last left you, breatheless with excitement no doubt, I had just vented with regards to inappropriate queuing behaviour outside airplane toilets. You will be pleased to hear this post contains no toilet humour of any sort, honest.

Having arrived at out hotel in sunny Sydney (even in Winter) at 9am local time we were more than a little miffed to find that our room would not be ready until Midday. Just what we needed to hear having been travelling for the best part of thirty hours. We camped in reception, looking moody and homeless and eventually had a room ready for about 10, amazing what a little bit of righteous indignation can do.

Jet lag is an amazing thing. We were meeting friends in the evening who were hardened travellers. They advised sleep, but only a little bit, a couple of hours a most. We managed five and then ventured out into the Sydney night. After the pleasant sunshine of the morning we were a little shocked to find that the evening was bloody freezing. Oh well. 

After a pleasant evening we returned to our hotel and the miracle of jet lag and a mini bar ensured we were tucked up in bed by 4am, awakening fresh as a daisy by 7am. Something was not right, but we were awake. So we trooped to Taroonga Zoo, after an ill-conceived walk to the ferry. The sun may have been out but Sydney's Main Street to the ferry was wreathed in shade (bloody cold again) and much further away than expected. This, coupled with my initial bold strides in completely the wrong direction (albeit on the right road) didn't help matters. 

We eventually arrived at the zoo cold and grumpy. A mood which was shared by the animals, most of whom were either asleep or hiding away.

The ferry terminal is bracketed on side by that venerable Australian landmark, the Sydney Opera House. Having set eyes on it close up for the first time, I realised it is much like a polar bear... I may need to explain. From a distance a polar bear looks pearly white and shiny, get up close (not too close) and the polar bear has a distinctly yellow tinge. The Opera House is much the same. Every photo I had ever seen portrays a brilliant white Opera House. Up close it is yellow, definitely yellow. Anyhoo...

At about 3pm we returned to our apartments, shattered and needing sleep. This was a little unfortunate, as we had to be in North Sydney for 7pm for a pre-wedding get together. 

We had a little snooze and woke up before 7pm, but only just. Jet lag had us in it's grip. Getting ready was a little bit like running through treacle, slow and sticky. 

Eventually we made it out into the Sydney night and arrived at the venue at 9.30pm. This gave us ample time to meet all the relatives of the happy couple as they were leaving.

Following this the Dear Lady Wife and I were treated to a night out in North Sydney with the lucky groom and one of the groomsman. Much fun was had as we were accosted in a pub by a man who thought he had solved the worlds problems by inventing an iPhone cover! This iPhone cover would change the world by reflecting microwave radiation generated by mobile phones away from the user. My suspicion was that he spent time at home with his head covered in tin foil (just for testing purposes). 

An amusing photo opportunity presented itself, unfortunately photos are a bit of a challenge in the dark but you get the idea...

Groom, Dear Lady Wife and Groomsman in spitroast shocker.
Infantile, I know, but there are some photos that you just can't resist. For some reason this amused me as well. Details for the caption competition will be disclosed shortly.

Insert caption here...
More soon Dear Reader.

xx

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Postcards from Australia Part 2 - The Flight

Dear Reader,

When I last left you I had cleared security and boarded a flight to Australia. This was largely un-eventful with the exception of one issue which I refuse to let pass. Sadly this post involves toilet humour.

Strangely, just like the last post, this is in fact a queuing issue. So, at the back of our plane where we are sat there are two toilets. As the plane is wide, there is a middle bank of seats, resulting in queues naturally forming for the toilets on either side of the plane. These queues are managed by an old-fashioned thing called good manners. If you are at the front of your queue, then you are facing the leader of the other queue across the width of the plane. If a toilet becomes free then either you, or the person you are facing grabs a toilet, depending which of you was there first. Does any of the above sound like rocket-science beyond the grasp of the average tool-wielding chimp, let alone human?

The Nirvana we dreamed of

I have reached the front of the queue on my side of the plane. This position is by an exit door, so I spend my time watching nothing in particular whilst I wait for nature to take it's course in front of me. The lady facing me who shall be named Superbitch Lady A is, based on the system outlined above is after me. All is well in the world.

At this point the toilet in question becomes vacant. The door opens, someone leaves, avoiding the carnage that is about to ensue. Superbitch Lady A stares down Supermegabitchfacefromhell Lady B. Words are exchanged. Superbitch Lady A wins the war of words, taking the cubicle with her. Supermegabitchfacefromhell Lady B, remains stoically in front of me, intending to take the second available cubicle.

This is too much, at this point I have choices. I could make a scene, which would be a much larger scene as she has no intention of backing down twice, or back down. I choose a third option, being that we are close to landing, which is to wake the Dear Lady Wife from a deep slumber to tell her all about it. She is not amused.

Supermegabitchfacefromhell Lady B has not finished with me yet. When the plane lands it transpires that Supermegabitchfacefromhell Lady B is only sat a couple of rows in front of me. I am in the process of dis-embarking, about to pass the seat where Supermegabitchfacefromhell Lady B resides. She has not as yet retrieved here hand-baggage (which I presume to be a broom-stick and a very angry black cat) from the overhead storage lockers. Undoubtedly spying me with her third eye, she decides to start this process whilst I am parallel with her. She does this by throwing her not inconsidable body mass in my direction, propelling me into the right hand row of seats as she retrieves her items.

When I recover, and rejoin the shuffling ranks exiting the plane, I find myself behind her and her family. She only stops to talk for ten minutes to each flight attendant she passes on the way out of the plane, deploying that body mass in such a manner that means she won't be passed. I wonder whether urinating down her skirt is unacceptable behaviour on a long-haul flight, as I still haven't been.

Ah, this will be the luggage

Eventually we clear Supermegabitchfacefromhell Lady B and security and spot her and her brood once more awaiting the arrival of the luggage. Our cases emerge first, a small victory, but you have to hold on to what you can. As I leave the baggage area I spy a long item of luggage which definitely isn't a case wrapped in brown paper retrieved by Supermegabitchfacefromhell Lady B... Yep that'll be the broomstick.

 

Myself and the DLW are now in Australia. Who knows what will happen next. More soon Dear Reader.

Xx


 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Postcards from Australia Part 1 - The Journey

Dear Reader,

A dear friend is getting hitched in Australia, which provided enough excuse for me and the Dear Lady Wife to finally make the journey from the UK to Sydney. This was an interesting journey, dotted with notable events, some of which I will attempt to recapture here.

 

We begin at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 3. We have arrived unfashionably early, as we have many important supplies to acquire at the airport. The intention being to breeze through check-in and security leaving us two hours to eat and purchase the essentials for the trip.

 

Problems started almost immediately. We tried to check-in automatically, using the machine provided for the task. After what the machine described as a moment, but was in fact a string of moments joined together to form an eternity, our attempt failed. This excluded us from the short bag drop queue. The much longer check-in queue beckoned. This queue snaked towards the entrance of the departures hall. Apparently this was a problem to our airline, who came up with a novel solution. Solutions which sprung to my mind included opening more check-in desks, staffing the existing check-in desks with humans who possessed the ability to do the job and so on. The airline was way ahead of me though.

You may have encountered a device like before, it is called the tensabarrier. This device, linked to a huge number of it's friends are deployed in airports throughout the world to control tired and irritable travellers at check-in and security to stop riots from occurring. Sometimes, they are deployed for a bit of a laugh, which was the approach of the airline here. So, the check-in queue, which already resembles the world's largest conga line has spilled beyond the control of the tensabarrier colony currently deployed. We are currently queuing in the "beyond the conga line" part of the queue. A representative of the airline addresses the area "beyond the conga line", excited we think more of the numerous currently empty check-booths to our left will be opened and this is where we were going. We were wrong. A new colony of tensabarriers had been hastily assembled to control the area "beyond the conga line". We were now part of the "outer conga line". There is a gap of a couple of metres to the "inner conga line", this is the "conga-less zone", an area so riddled with unseen danger and peril that an airline attendant has to guide people across it. You can imagine my amusement.


Several months pass, during which time we cross the "conga-less zone" without incident, and approach the end of the "inner conga zone". At that point another attendant of the airline asks if anyone on the several flights preceding ours are in the queue. Several people behind us stick up their hands. I initially presume they are going to be told that they are too late for their flight and settle in for the wailing, shouting and fighting to ensue. Image my horror when it transpires they were being allowed to "conga line jump", thus further delaying our journey. By this point I was ready to have them shot.

A mere week later and the queue jumpers have been shot checked-in. We made the front of the line. As always, at this point all check-in desks are populated by family groups spanning five generations, all of whom have, unbelievably, considering how long they have been in the "inner conga line", not got their documentation to hand. I wonder whether tossing imaginary hand-grenades in an airport is an act of terrorism.

 

Then a gap, and we check-in. This takes less than a minute, which leads to question it was taking so long to check everyone else in. Never mind, we are through, to security, anyway.

 

I wish I could say this bit was easier, but I am not that good a liar. The signs on the walls make it quite clear what you must do before going through security. Strip down to bare essentials, no belts, shoes, whips, concealed hand-guns etc. Also no liquids, everyone clear on what a liquid is? It is the sloshy stuff that isn't solid. Why am I always waiting for someone to throw away three gallons of the sloshy stuff? Why do they always have to re-pack their hand luggage as a result of doing this? We clear security, leaving only twelve minutes to board. Just about enough time to have a meal and buy some magazines and make last call for boarding feeling thoroughly sweaty and bedraggled. It can only get better.

 

More soon Dear Reader.

Xx

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Car Park Wars Part Deux

Dear Reader,

When I left you yesterday, I left a cliffhanger. For those who can't be arsed to read yesterday  a bulletpoint summary below. This is a little like the bit at the start of a TV series episode which if you are watching in sequence you don't need to see. I fast-forward to get a minute of my life back, on this occasion if you are dialled-in as it where, skip the bullets and go straight to the plot. Otherwise, you will need read the bullets. So,   
  • Dear Lady Wife (from this point forward DLW) has parked in a car park on a Monday, purchasing a weekly ticket. She has a fractious history with the car parking attendant
  • DLW departing car park on Monday on a hot day with windows open encounters a mischievous gust of wind, ticket flies out of window. All should be good, as the receipt has not suffered the same fate
  • On Tuesday DLW displays the receipt, assuming that this would be sufficient proof of ticket purchase.
  • Receives a parking contravention ticket.
  • On Wednesday DLW displays the receipt again, assuming that this would be sufficient proof of ticket purchase.
  • Receives a parking contravention ticket.
Things are a tad fraut when I return on Wednesday, crockery has been broken, there is a cat dangling from the lamp shade, which can only mean one thing, DLW is NOT HAPPY. A letter has been written, a blog must be written and a solution planned. The solution involves A4 paper and blu-tack. Now the fool that evaluates DLW's car everyday cannot fail to miss the proof of purchase. See below...

Come on, do your worst!
I was very excited when this very evening my DLW walked to the car. I was actually, live to her, via satellite to ascertain what the status of the car was. The previous sentence sounds like I had a news team waiting by the car, helicopters overhead and other stuff to catch the latest, which isn't true. I phoned, DLW approached the car and the truth was revealed.

So, what was this truth? 

...

...

...

...

Keep going
...

...

...

...

NO TICKET!

So, a battle has been won but the war is not over. We still have two days parking to reclaim. We have a letter to file. This matter is not over until a lady of significant physical presence sings.

More soon Dear Reader. 

xx

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Car Park Wars

Dear Reader, 

After a long silence which may or not be explained at a later date, I am compelled once again to discuss an irritant in my life, or more specifically in the Dear Lady Wife's (from this point forward DLW's) life. 

So, every day we are currently commuting from our local train station as work requires, leaving our cars in the station car park to be collected for the journey home. This does not always happen. Alcohol has been known to disrupt these best-laid plans, meaning cars holiday overnight in the station car park. This in itself does not pose a problem. A problem arises when next morning, in the mad rush to make the appropriate* train, there simply isn't enough time to renew the ticket on the car. 

*Appropriate - in these circumstances has to tick the following boxes...

  • Leaves at such a time to allow a longer lay-in than we intended
  • But not so much later that many eyebrows are raised at our respective places of work
It's a fine balance, anyhoo...


That evening, if we are unlucky, the dreaded yellow and black sticky envelope will be attached to the windscreen. A ticket, a fine and much grumbling about the unfairness of the world. No amount of grumbling makes up for the fact that the ticket, no matter how irritating, is fair.

OK, fair cop this time.

There are times when it does not seem fair. There have been times when we have both committed the same offence, in the same car park at the same time, but the DLW has got a ticket on her car, whilst I have not got one on mine. DLW calls this victimisation, I call it Karma, it's all about the viewpoint I suppose.

Then there are the times when it really isn't fair, such as now. On Monday, the DLW purchased a weekly parking ticket, which results in a ticket and a dated receipt dispensed on two small pieces of paper. On Monday evening, the DLW collects the car, it is warm and the air conditioning is about as effective as three asthmatic hamsters with hay-fever wheezing at you from the dashboard. Windows are opened and the journey home begins. A breeze picks up the parking ticket and blows it out of the window in transit, not a problem, the DLW still has the receipt. 

Tuesday comes, the DLW returns to the station car park, displaying the receipt for the weekly ticket (containing full details of date and time purchased and amount paid - DLW is dictating this bit to me), in the windscreen. 
Tuesday night comes. Ticket! 
Wednesday night comes. Ticket!

What is highly annoying about this is that in an effort to dispel any attempt at unjustified dispute, the warden of the car park company takes three photos of the dashboard, left, right and centre to make it clear that a ticket has not been displayed. So, for the last two days they have photographed DLW's proof of purchase and still issued tickets.

Tomorrow shall be different. This is a vendetta against DLW. She is waging a WAR OF JUSTICE (by leaving notes and underlining words rather than actual killing), but even so, it is a noble war and a people's war. Let them issue a ticket, let them take their photos. What they will be photographing is this...

Damn them

This is a social experiment. Will the evil attendant blindly ignore this clear evidence of purchase and plaster another ticket on the car? Note that in doing so the attendant will have to photograph this evidence and store it on the car park operators website. Will common sense prevail?

We have written a complaint to the car park operator, who, for the moment, shall remain *APCOA*  nameless. Damn this stupid computer. I thought I had sorted the "don't insert what I think, just what I type" issue last week. The letter is yet to be posted as we are waiting to see what happens tomorrow. There may be more miscarriages of justice to pursue. 

I will be back with an update soon Dear Reader.

xx