Sunday, 22 November 2009

The Why I have not been Writing Regularly Razzamataz

In one of the oddest periods of my life I followed our school debating team in a support role. I sat in the mini bus earnestly on long trips and during the debates I had an official capacity. I was the bell ringer. Bell ringing is not for the faint hearted and through my time I learned this important fact.

The best debates are one sided.

So gather round and read why I have not been writing very much. What must happen before I can and the very little that has been.

There shall be no interjections, no points of order and no bell ringing other than my own.

Well as I forebode we did not start our trip to the Maldives on the 20th of November. This is disappointing but the scary thing is it is impossible to tell when we will be leaving.

We do have one line in the sand. The Dubai yacht show in March.

Add hotel fatigue to my list of fatigues. We are not living on board at the moment. Hotels are nice for a change but living in the same one for a month wears thin.

Given the situation of the still being built Yacht we are not really allowed to do much on board at the moment. Thankfully our inventive superiors find us tasks to do which stave off suicide.

In the last weeks I have engaged in.

  • Carpet cutting
  • 3m hook hanging
  • Bicycle seat clamp installation
  • Roster board painting
  • Plan measuring
  • Ikea table building
  • Box transporting
  • Towel counting
  • A lot of sitting looking attentive and keen

Suicide is probably a bit harsh. We are making the best of a bad situation. Things will get a lot better when we move on board.

Until then I have the guilt of not updating my blog as frequently as I would like to. Have you written humorously about counting towels?

Travelling is a great way to find things to write about. Witness Rome. Unfortunately trips to Rome eat up a lot of money. Money that I should be saving for my retirement.

Drinking heavily is a time honoured creative kick start. Unfortunately escalating feats of stupidity have led me onto my annual month long detox before Christmas sobriety scooter. Good to know things are the same in both hemispheres.

I know from the past when I get to this low point in the sine wave of creative endeavours things start to happen.

So things start happening!


Ding Ding.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Rome in a Day and When we was In Rome

You do not know how ecstatically happy it makes me to mash those two very popular sayings together and commence with this commentary from the depths of the eternal city.

Our journey to Rome was not without scandal. Our usual touring party had two extra members selected on merit. A Swedish national (Uncle Phil)who can do a semi convincing impression of a Roman Gladiator and a Croatian Princess whose pigeon Russian would prove useful.

While waiting at the Viareggio train station. We drank six coffees and assorted condiments at a café. We took it upon ourselves to plug my laptop in to watch movies. The café owner was mortally aggrieved at this remedial action and promptly told us off. Three members of our touring party proceeded to deface a sugar container and liberate a glass and spoon from the tyrannical café.

The train journey was thankfully smoother. Uncle Phil is a keen riddle player and stumped us for a good portion of a trip with a combination of mind bending puzzles.

First impressions of Rome is that it is a busy place. The locals are used to the swelling rise of tourists that swamp the place and they have developed a variety of natural defence mechanisms that I will share with you later.

Personally wanting to contrast Rome with Naples we soon made ourselves to a McDonald's. I can say with some authority that the McDonald's opposite the Roma termini station is the most corrupt, devious and down right dangerous place I have been in. There was a constant stream of dodgy looking characters who would enter, scan for targets and then stroll menacingly outside to confer with other unsavoury types. I took some solace in the solitary security guard until I spotted him greeting several of these gangsters in turn with welcoming arms. I was also impressed with the staff members who have seemed to twist and mangle the tried and trued formula of fast foot into something truly Italian. Well done.

Scurrying to our Hotel, we slept soundly with the promises of Rome bouncing in our heads. Our hotel room was quite nice. It was certainly better than our travelling partners who were happy to announce that their bidet came with an assortment of hair and they may have had a dead mouse decaying somewhere in their room.

Starting off early is a must in Rome. We were on the road by 8:00am and made our way to the Vatican city and St Peter's Cathedral. Our timing was impeccable having no queue to speak of we were soon marvelling at the largest church in the world.

Pausing beside this statue Uncle Phil took time out from his busy schedule to give a small Swedish lesson.

Leaving the square behind we headed off to engage in a lengthy queue amongst the other tourists and wait patiently to see the Vatican museum. One very large and possibly important lady pushed in front of all of the queue. I do believe my doppelganger may have yelled at her.

The Vatican museum was good. Although I must confess a little museum fatigue. I wonder how much of ancient Egypt is actually left for me to see when I get there. It seems a lot of it is in Italy, France and the UK.

There was an interesting room full of animal statues.

This sacrifice depiction had a scorpion attached to a very compromising part of the bull. Uncle Phil may have had a photo taken with it and could have been chastised by a very matronly Italian madam.

The long walk to the Sistine chapel was accentuated by various facades, mosaics and elaborate art works.

The Sistine chapel was very busy. We did get to share in some of the neck straining effort that Michelangelo must have laboured through. The chapel had an impressive array of ushers making what could have been a very enlightening Swedish lesson impossible.

From the Vatican Museum it was a quick jaunt across town to the Castle St Angelo.

By this time our intrepid and somewhat ill gang decided it would be best to eat and put our feet up for a while. We were all suffering the effects of the cold I wrote about here.

We found a magnificent Argentinean restaurant.

Ristorante Argentino can be found on Via Cavour 315.

Sated and less weary we made the pilgrimage to the Colosseum. A world heritage site, the Colosseum is well, colossal. For the thrifty people who intend to visit Rome on a budget we have a tip. The Colosseum is actually a lot more impressive from the outside.

If you do venture inside there are plenty of nice photo opportunities and this excellent quote to be found.

Outside there is an abundance of locals dressed as gladiators ready to pose for photographs with you and charge the earth for it.

There is also a lot of people who enjoy tooting car horns. I do not know if this is common place but it is inane.

With the loss of our solitary map we decided to circumnavigate the Roman forum looking for an entrance, this proved largely fruitless. Daylight was diminishing as was our vigour. After a session of information gathering we decided to take a walk to an interactive movie venue which amongst other things promised a seat inside a theatre.

There were some technical difficulties at the theatre and we were given a generous discount and offered to visit the souvenir shop first. Uncle Phil took it upon himself to fit himself in the garb of a gladiator and scare us with his Gladiator face.

An interesting event to record would be dressing a hero in gladiator gear and sending him to fight the Gladiators outside the Colosseum. I wager the fighting would be very amusing.

Naturally dressing up as Romans is not something you do every day. So we all got in the spirit of things.

I am naturally a Senator. Uncle Phil was not keen on carrying my fasces of office. I do not know why.

Special thanks to Maria who acted as an ad hoc Russian tour guide for some random Russians on our tour.

I am naturally a Senator because during the interactive movie which included a fight inside the Colosseum I fell asleep.

It was now dark. Retiring to our hotel was on the cards. But not before we discovered a very Roman behaviour in the subway. It seems nobody in Rome has grasped the core concept that people need to get off the subway carriages before you can enter one.

A bout of hotel card playing commenced and a very tired quartet slept soundly until Sunday morning.

Sunday was our last day in Rome. Our by now somewhat ragged and slightly haggard ensemble decided to visit the Spanish steps and the delightful fountain Trevi.

Yes that is water in the background. No that is not a tourist at the end spoiling my masterpiece.

After some mild shopping, people watching and sporadic fits of laughter it was decided we should eat again at the Argentinean restaurant.

Never mess with Success!.

The other diners meals were middling compared with the heights of the day previous. But I managed to order prime pork cutlets on a bed of mashed potatoes with prunes and and apple sauce. Divine.

What followed is the only disappointing part of our trip. Our group was split by gender. The girls went to organise an earlier train ride home as we were all feeling pretty rotten. The boys were to bus to the Colosseum and spend a couple of hours at the historic forum.

I am sad to say that Uncle Phil and I deviated wildly from the forum and were soon being ferried through previously unheard parts of Rome and there was not a tourist in sight. We were happy to burrow into a handy underground terminal and emerge at the train station albeit a bit sheepishly.

In closing, Rome is a fantastic destination. It deserves more than a weekend. Its charm is in its slightly chaotic exterior. It is both ancient and childlike at once. I would like to go back when I am feeling better. It is surely more beautiful at night.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Crew Bio #1 Uncle Phil

With not much travelling on the horizon for the immediate future I thought I would write a series of illuminating and hopefully funny mini biographies on the crew on board our new Yacht.

Filip or Uncle Phil is the person I spend most of my time with. He is the other Deckhand so we naturally work together. He is our youngest crew member and without sounding like someone who reads a lot of football magazines he is a lot of fun to hang out with.

Some interesting facts about Uncle Phil.

He is a self professed Ski bum/ Yacht bum.

His eyes pop out of his head when talking about Swedish meat balls.

He likes to snus

We were both given lucky charm nuts by our local restaurant. We promptly ate Phil's one over some beers. We didn't know it was lucky at the time and it tasted like shit.

He would make an excellent bicycle mechanic or Ikea assembler.

He loves Europe but often prefaces other nationalities with expletives.

He likes to tout Sweden as the origin of all worthwhile inventions, pop culture and art of merit when he is bored.

He seems to be quite photogenic.

I don't think this will be the last you read about Uncle Phil.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Season of Horror

A growing sense of unease has been building over the last couple of weeks. It has been getting cold. Daylight hours have been shrinking. I have bought gloves unwittingly and confess to hiding behind placards to stave off devilish winds.

This morning I arose to an uncomfortable sensation in the back of my throat. I have gone two years without a Winter bug, I do believe Winter has caught up with me. This was not part of the plan.

My arch nemesis snow has draped the perfectly good looking Apuan Alps ruining my now familiar panorama.

I blame snow and the grey skies for making the water look murky as well.

I did not sign up for this. I do not know what I signed up for or if in fact I did sign anything but it surely is not this.

I blame the change of seasons for a gradual slow down in my blog production. I blame not being near my Scorpio kith in the season of Scorpio for feeling suitably restless. I am angry and to this end.

I am going to Rome.

Friday, 6 November 2009

For the propellor heads

There is an article in the latest Yacht report about the ship yard and Yacht that we are working on.

I have hastily scanned them and you can view them here.

Roma Article

Please excuse page two. I think the office was rolling.

The extra observant amongst you might notice that Roma was in the very same dry dock my last Yacht spent a couple of weeks in.

My first crew bio will be up this weekend. Ciao.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The Italian Hair Job

It has long been a belief of mine that the greatest differences noticed travelling are observed during the most mundane of tasks. With this in mind I ventured off in search of an Italian hair cut. For over a year I have proudly cut my own hair in the fashion that suits a warmer clime. Unfortunately all of the blue sky and olive oil in the world can not hide that it is getting colder in this part of the galaxy.

I had vaguest of directions to find a hairdresser. This suited me just fine and I meandered towards my goal through the streets of Viareggio until I saw a ladies hairdresser and then a more manly coiffure. Once again I was struck by my less than rudimentary grasp of Italiano but luckily the scissors finger sign is universal. The hair dresser also knew one universal word. Ok. He motioned me to sit down and I sat down on a wide bench to soak in the male bastion of resistance that is a barbers shop.

The hair dresser was busy. He was an accomplished shaver and was also running a betting league or other testosterone induced syndicate. Routinely men would come with envelopes of cash and he would provide them with tickets or letters which I could only guess at the function of.

At one end of the bench was a small shrine to the football team Juventus. Various team photographs, autographs and mementoes were arranged above a large stack of football magazines. I have made a habit of reading Italian news papers in the faint hope my subconscious will learn Italian. After reading a couple of football magazines and looking at the pictures I fear prolonged reading would render me homosexual.

Feeling odd it was with a jump that I was ushered into a seat for my hair cut. The hair dresser took the very clever initiative of unzipping my jacket and folding it down upon on itself and fitting me with a large cuff before placing on a sheeny robe.

Again we used sign language to describe my hair style and it agreed upon with two thumbs up. The hair dresser was an artisan. He quickly shaved the sides of my head with two different electric razors. He then prepared a razor and set about tidying up the edges.

The only scary part was my face. Throwing caution to the wind he shaved across my eyebrows and set about going inside my nostrils. I did not have time to even make a British cough of disapproval it was was over so quickly.

Soon after the hairdresser snipped the top of my head. He was a very energetic snipper. After agreeing my haircut was good, he took the time to style my hair and spray my entire head with some perfumed water concoction which I have never smelt or seen the like of.

The price was right. The hair cut was good and I had something to write about.

It is not every day you get your eyebrows shaved and you are awake to see it.

My nostrils do feel a bit violated.