Friday, September 26, 2008

Birthday message

A little while ago my sister posted some unusually lyrical spam on her blog. I am likewise moved to post this message I received today:

Strait in a bag, and when it is boild, butter up several times in bed, and had begun to talk it doth anybody that is of lofty birth and the ? Well, yes... I was trying to
make a decision also he promised to supply me with two reliable.

Personally, I am all in favour of being buttered up several times in bed, though I'll skip the boil in the bag bit thanks, I'll take the two reliable whatever they ares, and as for being of lofty birth, I can honestly lay claim to only a small dash of loftiness in my otherwise very mixed heritage, and as far as I know my mother gave birth to me in UCH (35 years ago today) and not a treehouse or some other raised platform, although for all I know it may have been on the 5th floor. Does that count?

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The plot thickens

As I'm not one to take these things lying down, I went to the department of roads and asked them to alter my car documents so that they say I have tinted windows. Which they cannot do because they are stick-on, not tinted glass, as verified by the polite young man who is dealing with me.

"OK, so the police say they must appear on my documents and you say they can't, what do I do?"
"Take them off," replies the young man.
"But I like them! They provide shade for my children. Is it illegal?"
"No, it's not illegal."
"Then I'm not going to take them off!"
"But then the police will hassle you."
"So can you put them on the documents?"

By then we are back in the office and I ask to see the Highway Code, to see what is says about tinted windows. My fine says I am in breach of article 38/3. Article 38/3, I discover, refers to the correct nomenclature for motorcycles under 50cc. I am appealing.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

The rough with the smooth

It's Saturday, I'm a bit bleary-eyed after a later-than-usual Friday night and an earlier-than-usual wake-up call from the boys, and I'm on my way to a meeting at work with representatives of our major donor, AFD. So you could call my mood middling. I'm driving around the ringroad, which follows the shore line into Pemba Bay proper when a huge splash catches my eye,and there's only one thing that can cause a splash like that:

Immediate upgrading of my mood to excellent. How often do you get to watch humpback whales breaching, visible to the naked eye? One good reason to love living in Pemba.

2 minutes later I am flagged down by the traffic police. My car is 100% legal, I imported it myself and everything works. My driving license is valid, never besmirched by an offence. I am fined for having dark windows in the back, which should - apparently - appear on my documents. Immediate downgrading of my mood to slightly pissed off. I've been driving this car for over 2 years without anyone ever saying anything about the dark windows. I could surely have been given a warning and told to have my car documents altered. I grit my teeth, refuse to offer a bribe, accept the fine. The fine is small, mood returns to middling. On my way home I shall take the ringroad and look for whales.

That's Pemba all over!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy birthday!

Toblerone. Surely one of the finest chocolates in the world. What could be more satisfying than those chunks of top quality chocolate (intense dark or rich milk, as you prefer, and I prefer the former) peppered with perfect nuggets of almond and honey nougat? And the excellent presentation: triangles of bliss. And yet – and I’m sure I am not alone in this – I only ever buy Toblerone in Duty Free. Which is how I come to have not one but two (see options above) large bars nestling in my fridge. When and how did it become such an airport staple? In the course of our five-hour stop-over in Heathrow I had the chance to compare the special offers on this Matterhorn of chocolates, currently celebrating its centenary (and may there be many more). I plumped for 3 for 2 on the large bars, spurning the arriviste limited edition fruit and nut, and sticking with the classics. The third bar, pure white, has found a happy home next door.

So it would appear that we have survived the flights and had a smashing holiday. I will not bore you with the details of our return journey which took a whopping 30 hours from the moment we entered Lisbon airport to the moment we left Pemba airport, but I must give credit where it’s due and in this case it’s due to my boys who were exceptionally well-behaved, all things considered. It did help - a lot - that they are very keen on planes and as a result relatively easily entertained watching take-offs and landings at the various airports, and remaining remarkably enthusiastic about every flight, yes even the eighth. Bless ‘em. What could have been Hell was downgraded to Purgatory.

So, highlights of the holiday.

Joaquim’s: Mekyla, the theme park in Johannesburg and in particular the big wheel, dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, running with the pack (of cousins) in France, discovering mini-golf, pony-riding, the big sunfish at the Lisbon Oceanarium.

Sebastian’s: the elephant doing a poo at Jo’burg zoo, the “robot pick up rubbish” (wall-e), riding a chairlift up the mountain, late bedtimes in Lisbon, so many enormous aeroplanes.

Mine: being with my parents, siblings and all their offspring for a week against the background of the beautiful Alps, the London Eye (at last!), spending a night and a day at the house we restored for our wedding, exactly 8 years earlier, with a bunch of my favourite in-laws, eating figs straight off the tree.

Paulo’s: dramatic walks in the Alps, bonding with the lads (my brother, brother-in-law and oldest nephew), having his phone on silent for 4 weeks, seeing his 3rd sister for the first time in 3 years, late-night sessions with old friends.

What more do I need to say?

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