August 24, 2016 by Michael Madden
If You Don’t Know Where You Are…
The important news for this edition comes from the US where I have put the wheels in motion to set up a US subsidiary. The name will be the same, Legacy IT Consultants Limited, but rather than be a Director I now get to be President!
Its actually quite straightforward, but being the US, attorneys and paralegals have to be involved. Not had the bill yet!
Speaking of which, there have been some legal issues in the US, and I have been asked to provide a witness statement. Apparently it is just that. No q & a, just a statement of facts. Sounds interesting – I will let you know what happens.
I’ve also recruited three students to ‘test’ some websites for me. If you have a website and you would like it testing for free just get in touch.
The Whaley Warriors got their season under way against Buxton with a hotch potch of kit as Bouncer Sports’ shipment got held up in customs, then at the TNT depot, then back at customs, returned to France, then to customs again, gave TNT another passing glance before being held in customs! Anyway, it finally arrived so we looked resplendent for our second match against Glossop.
Just been on holiday to Gozo. Absolutely wonderful place, but to be honest a week is about enough. Its a relatively small island, and nothing is more than about twenty minutes away by car. Anyway, the journey was a bit ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’, as we drove to the airport, flew to Malta, then boarded a minibus. The minibus took us to the port where we took the very efficient ferry across to Gozo, then the minibus took us onwards to our destination. I would definitely recommend booking this all inclusive transfer, especially as our hire car was waiting for us at the villa.
We drove into the capital, Victoria, which was about 10 minutes away, and stocked up on provisions, then returned to get the all important WIFI working. Its always tricky trying to read the the labels on foreign products, and that probably explains why I spent five minutes trying to get the shampoo to lather up after Sally accidentally purchased conditioner. We had wonderful views across to the sea, and to the rear of the building there was the historic shrine of Ta Pinu. We actually managed to walk there one day, but Sally was inappropriately dressed to gain entry.
It was hot and scenic, and peaceful despite having 4 kids with us. The journey wiped them out, and by 10.30 the next morning they still hadn’t surfaced.
The local village, Gharb, had an array of restaurants, and of these we preferred Rangers Bar mainly for the WIFI!
Out and about we found several beaches. We followed the signs to Xlendi and found ourselves winding through narrow potholed streets running alongside traditional stone houses. Eventually this led to a steep hilltop descent where passing oncoming vehicles was a challenge. After driving around for a while we found a place to park, but it was too windy for swimming so we contented ourselves with lunch.
Another day we headed for Marsalforn. This was billed as the most developed beach and resort on the island. We followed the signs and found ourselves winding through narrow potholed streets running alongside traditional stone houses. Eventually this led to a steep hilltop descent where passing oncoming vehicles was a challenge. After driving around for a while we found a place to park, but we didn’t stay very long. There was a tiny beach and it was not particularly picturesque. A quick check of the map pointed us towards Ramla, which was another 15 minutes away. We skirted around Victoria and then followed the signs for Ramla. Not for the first time we found ourselves winding through narrow potholed streets running alongside traditional stone houses. Eventually this led to a steep hilltop descent where passing oncoming vehicles was a challenge. We found it surprisingly easy to park, and we enjoyed an hour or so on a very sandy beach amongst crashing waves, despite the ‘No Swimming’ flags that seemed to be ignored by just about everyone. Sadly, it was too rough to rent a pedalo, though we did go back a couple of days later and manged to steer one past a somewhat hazardous swimming area.
Whilst on Gozo Sally’s horse, Elements Legacy, returned to the racecourse (no, not on Gozo – it was at Kempton). We got a decent signal at Rangers Bar and watched as it got bumped coming out of the stalls. It was knocked off its stride and ran poorly, though the jockey still thinks it can win a race!
We decided to visit the Azure Window, a signature landmark on Gozo, and we went early to avoid the crowds. Whilst the view was spectacular there was not so much as a cup of instant coffee to quench our morning thirst, so after a few photos we headed back.
We spent a pleasant evening in Victoria, dining outside in Independence Square. The kids went to the cinema, whilst we spent a relaxing time with traditional food and beer, watching the preparations for the forthcoming festival. The Maltese are clearly proud of their British heritage, and on this particular night they set up a small stage where a brass band played such classics as ‘Land Of Hope & Glory’. It was a surreal sight that will live long in the memory.
My Kindle ran out of charge on Gozo, which meant that I could divert some time to The History Of Zombies which now nears completion. Hoping for the first part of the serialisation next month.
I must admit, the seven seater hire car was a bit of a challenge with a very loose gearbox. Narrow streets and steep climbs didn’t help, and I stalled on more than one occasion. This caused amusement with Zac who incorporated it into a game of I-Spy. I spy with my little eye, something beginning with B. Have you got it yet? No? Obviously its Bad Driver!
Back at home the cricket match against Hollingworth proved to be a disaster with the seconds picking up just 1 point. The following week could have been even worse as we arrived at Compstall with just 8 men including Zac. We managed to muster 171-2 before rain intervened, and we happily took our ten points and ran.
Its the time of year when the garden gets overgrown, but armed with saw and strimmer Sally soon brought it under control. Unfortunately she managed to completely block the driveway.
I took the opportunity to cycle to Marple with no app and no music as a distraction (well after my last ride was clocked at an average of 93mph I’ve started to distrust the app). Anyway, it was a very peaceful experience, even had time to stop and chat to Hermione the local heron.
After a week’s holiday wth the kids there is nothing better than getting away from it all for a few more days, so Sally and I headed for Killarney. We flew into Cork and picked up a rental car, then drove the 50odd miles to Aghadoe Heights. This hotel is not much to look at from the outside, but the service is second to none and the views are spectacular. A wedding had booked out the whole hotel the day after we arrived, so they put us in a room furthest away from where the noise was likely to be, which turned out to be a luxurious suite. We had a nice surprise on arrival as a colleague of mine had left a gift for either a bet at the races or a drink. She was here a week or so earlier, as many of her family are buried in the graveyard across the road from the hotel. And as it turned out, our room overlooked the cemetery, and the lake beyond.
We went back to reception to get a taxi to Killarney races, our destination on our first night in the Emerald Isle. Sally was about to help herself to the jar of sweets on the desk, until the concierge pointed out it was a ‘guess the number of sweets in the jar’ competition, and her interference would have deemed the competition null and void.
Anyway, we arrived at the races in plenty of time. In fact, we were so early that the bar hadn’t even opened. No problem, we waited 15 minutes but then Sally began to get thirsty and demanded Prosecco. Unfortunately they didn’t have Prosecco, so she had to settle for a bottle of Louis Roederer. We were joined by five Americans who were shocked by our decision to Brexit, questioning the rationale of the nation. They soon shut up when we started to discuss Trump versus Clinton. We had a very nice Barbeque, and after three winners I had more than broken even, so we headed back to the hotel for more food and drinks. The hotel clearly offered a turndown service, but it didn’t take long for Sally to devour all of the complimentary chocolates. including the ones cunningly disguised as dominoes.
The next morning Sally decided to try to make use of the Nespresso machine. Lift the handle, insert the capsule, place the handle back down. Lift the handle – no, that’s not supposed to happen as the unused capsule disappeared into the depths of the machine. She managed half a cup of espresso, and half a cup of greenish warm water. We decided that breakfast was the safest option.
It was a fine morning, ideal for energetic activity. I dropped Sally off to go horseriding in the picturesque Killarney national park, which was a very steep mile long slope down from our hotel. I told her that if I wasn’t back within two hours she should make her own way back up to the hotel. ‘I’ll be on horseback before I walk back up that hill,’ was her succinct response. Anyway, I decided to spend the time cycling. I went back to reception and asked for a bike. No problem, they said, the concierge will sort it out in a minute. So I took the opportunity to don cycling shorts and a cycling top, and just for good measure, my gel fingerless cycling gloves. As I arrived back at reception the concierge gave me a rather strange look, and it was soon apparent why. ‘I’ve only got a ladies bike,’ he said, without the hint of a smile. ‘And you are dressed like a man who needs a serious bike,’ he continued. He gave me a cheeky grin as I explained that appearances could be deceptive, and he led me round to the side of the hotel where a smart, red, ladies bike was waiting. It didn’t have many gears, and it had rather large tyres that looked like they would slow it down dramatically. But, it was a pleasant day and the landscape needed exploring so I asked him for a good route. I explained that I wouldn’t want to do more than about 20 miles, and his grin returned. ‘You’ll not be doing 20 miles on this bike,’ he explained, and then he pointed me in the direction of the riding stable. ‘Go down the hill, and when you get to the bottom just cross the road and you are in the national park. When you come back, get to the bottom of the hill and give me a ring. I’ll pick you up as you won’t get back up the hill on this bike.’
Filled with such reassurance I ventured far and near, crossing streams and finding a very peaceful lakeside spot. There was wildlife, traffic and monuments, with Ross Castle at the heart of the park, and the bike was surprisingly good on all kinds of terrains, except hills. It wasn’t very good at going up, and it wasn’t much better at going down.
I did as I was told, but when I got to the bottom of the hill I decided to give it a go. I got halfway up and met a car coming down. I had to stop and dismount, and the gradient made it virtually impossible to restart my ascent. Admitting defeat I walked the last half mile, placing the bike back on its rack ready for the next unsuspecting cyclist. The concierge was pleased to see me, if a little surprised. ‘You look like you’ve hardly broken into a sweat,’ he commented. as I fought to get my breath back after the climb.
After our strenuous exercise we headed for the coastal town of Kenmare. Actually, ‘coastal’ is pushing it a bit, its actually on an estuary, and the estuary is quite some distance from the town centre. So, we spent our time wandering up and down the two streets, and then Sally noticed a problem. The main street is very narrow, and one way. It is lined by tables and these were populated by diners and drinkers. A car wanted to turn left into a side street, but another car wanted to come out of the same side street. It was gridlock, and so Lady M took charge. She marched into the middle of the road and held her hand up, stopping any more traffic from adding to the congestion. Then she beckoned to the first car to slowly reverse, indicating when it had gone precisely far enough. This allowed the other car to pull out onto the main street and everyone got on with their business. Cue applause from locals, and a suggestion that she could get a permanent job doing that, but she had ice cream to eat and so we moved on. She was quite pleased with herself. I walked on ahead.
We followed a tortuous path through the mountains back to our hotel, where the wedding was about to get under way. As we found out earlier, the wedding had hired out the whole hotel, except for our room, and we were advised that the restaurant would not be open. No problem, as we had decided to head in to Killarney anyway, but more of that later. First there was a spa treatment to be had. So Sally went to have a foot treatment and a facial (the kind with oils and cloths), and I was shown to a relaxation room where I lay on a heated wooden bed and read Stephen King’s Finder’s Keepers. Not the most comfortable experience – not really sure what all the fuss is about. It was soon over, so we headed down the corridor to the swimming pool and jacuzzi. This looked out onto the front of the hotel, and in another surreal moment we sat on loungers in swimwear in front of a huge glass window, whilst wedding guests gathered to drink champagne outside.
We decided it was time to move on, and after picking up a couple of recommendations for dinner we prepared for the delights of Killarney town centre. Our taxi driver was very helpful as Sally bombarded him with a barrage of questions. ‘Where’s the Thai restaurant?’ ‘That’s in the shopping centre.’ ‘And what about the tapas restaurant?’ ‘That is close by.’ ‘And what pubs would you recommend?’ ‘Murphy’s Bar is a good place to start.’ ‘And are the pubs close to the shopping centre?, I’ve never been here before and I don’t want to end up lost.’ At this point the driver gave us the most profound, conversation stopping quote that I have ever heard.
‘If you don’t know where you are, you can’t get lost.’
We opted for Murphy’s Bar where amongst other things Sally photobombed a German group’s team photo, and then offered to rectify matters by taking the pic herself. Next she assisted a French couple (well they might have been a different nationality but they certainly had Gallic gestures). He was clearly struggling to read the menu, so she offered him her readers, then gave them a tip that if they photographed the menu on their phone they could then enlarge the photo making it easier to read. By way of distraction she asked me to send some messages on her phone. That was a real eye opener. A number of people were involved, but it soon became clear that not only could they not spell what they were intending to type, they never checked the after effects of auto correct either. I could devote a whole blog just to this, and I may well do in the future, but for now I can reveal that Fiona referred to her husband as pizza and Sally mistyped FFS as FFT! I could go on, but as I don’t have access to Sally’s phone at the moment I will leave it at that until next time. With no one else to help we headed for O’Connor’s where a band was in full flow, as was the case in most bars. The town had a real buzz about it, not even dampened as one unfortunate singer absolutely murdered a number of Johnny Cash songs.
Sally got a bit peckish so we ventured in to Quinlan’s chippy. Not your regular chippy. They almost insisted on a meal deal, cod & chips & a drink for 10.95. Sally didn’t want a drink. What about diet Coke? No thanks – does it include Prosecco? No. Well I don’t want a drink – just give me extra chips. Surprisingly, they did. And after a delicious battered cod she was left with a designer paper carrier bag that she used to good effect. As we went from pub to pub the punters got a waft of the hot chips, but had no idea where the aroma was coming from. Sally then offered her bag, that looked like it should contain expensive lingerie, and grateful strangers helped themselves to her extra chips.
We returned to the hotel where the wedding was in full swing, so naturally we joined in and no-one asked any questions, and by the look of the revellers the next morning it was no surprise.
All good things must come to an end, and we headed for the airport amidst gale force winds and torrential rain. We dropped the car off, checked in and sat in Departures, two hours before we were due to fly. And that was perhaps as well as Sally asked me to ring her phone. Nothing. I tried again. Nothing. She then decided that she had left it in the hire car. This might have been a problem at Manchester, but not so at Cork. She just went back through security, located the hire car with the help of a man from the hire car company, and retrieved the phone.
We arrived back home where my sister, Fiona, had taken up residence. She asked Zac why his mum gave him the nickname of Golly Gosh. His reply was very straightforward…’because she’s broken, damaged beyond repair.’
A quick shoutout to my nephew Liam Daniels who is the goalkeeper for Stanway Rovers. Last night they beat Barking 3-2 after extra time in the preliminary round of the FA Cup. They now go into the first qualifying round, the Wembley dream is still alive!
On Sunday we are heading for the Twinwood Vintage Festival in Clapham, Bedfordshire, and that will no doubt fill a large part of my next blog, and then on Sunday we will hopefully get a visit from Gabi, Matt and Pixie. I have decided to make burgers, and as Gabi is a vegetarian that offers its own challenge. I will start with Quorn Mince, breadcrumbs and seasoning and take it from there! Another experiment will be Chocolate Key Lime Pie. I know the Key Lime Pie will be good, but as chocolate limes are always popular I thought I would add a substantial amount of dark chocolate just to see what happens. I will let you know.
The final word goes to Zac who has just had a fun time at Alton Towers. This time last year he wouldn’t go anywhere near a big ride, and now he is not only ‘Mr Confident’, he also has advice for others. And so it was when he was queuing for The Smiler, the rollercoaster that crashed last year. One girl was particularly nervous, so he told her, ‘The second row is the safest. If it crashes you will only get whiplash and you won’t lose your legs.’