Thursday, 8 October 2009

President Bongo I presume ?

Auchmithie Church

I got confirmation yesterday of my new Vessel assignment. Its a Boat which is considerably shinier, and newer than the one I have just left, which come to think of it, is probably already on its way to a remote Indian beach somewhere to be turned into some of Mr Gillette's products......and about time to.
Anyway, the first job is in Gabon. Its been some 5 or 6 years since I had the dubious pleasure of working in the various countries in this Region of the World, and obviously a lot has changed, or in Gabon's situation, actually not a lot, by the looks of things.
Its a country with a population of some 1.4 million people, 99.9% of whom still live in abject poverty, yet were governed by one of Africa's richest men.....the delightfully named Pres Omar Bongo. Now I say were governed, as earlier this year the aforementioned 70 year old Bongo decided to eventually croak ( Money certainly buys you longevity in Africa these days, compared to the rest of the General population ! ), and totter off to the great rich mans play ground in the sky.
So an opportunity therefore arose to allow the 1.4 million Gabonese to have a say, and vote freely for a new start. However, aided and abetted by the Cheese eating Surrender Monkeys, led by the Midget Sarko, the election result was ...... how can i delicately put this........Rigged.
The upshot of all of this being, that the 4th largest Oil producing Nation in Africa elected a new President, whose name strangely, had a familiar ring to it.....Yup, you've guessed already Dear Reader..... From the ashes, lets all give a big hand to..... President Bongo.

This time though, Its a Bongo with an equally ridiculous first name of Ali, which esentially makes him sound, and no doubt look like, a 2nd rate Magician, but a magician who has pulled off the trick of a lifetime, and now gets to follow in his fathers Footsteps, and continue to rape and pillage the Country he has been sworn in to serve, just like good old Pa.
To be honest, it makes you puke.

Anyway, as Money obviously talks in these situations, and Oil and French support being the root of Ali Bongo's riches, we are now doing a 2 month job down there, quite close to the capital city of Libreville, which incidentally used to be quite beautiful in places a few years back.
So although its a new Boat, and a new start for me, its really Groundhog day ( I guess a little like how the Gabonese feel), with another Country, with yet another Corrupt Government based on Oil to deal with..... Don'cha just luv it....Don'cha ?

A fancy face in some Fancy stonework on one of the Local Houses.


PS. The pics are from a rather grey and overcast day when we did the coastal walk from Arbroath to Auchmithie, where the original Smokie came from, for those of you who are even in the slightest bit interested.

PPS. Another Dentist appointment next Wednesday.....She is pushing her luck, as I WILL be certifiably insane by then .......

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

D D D Dentist

When i was away in Dubai last time i detected the beginning of an ache in the old Molar.... Now, if you are anything like me, you just try and do your best to, a) ignore it, or b) masticate your food on the other side of your mouth, and hope the pain will go away, or remain bearable enough to live with....the reason being is that I am completely terrified of Dentists, and especially their rather noisy, hard and pain giving objects that they attempt to put into your mouth....thats when they can prise my jaws open of course.

Don't get me wrong, I have a wonderful Dentist, and whats more she is wonderfully attractive, but as soon as I sit in that chair, and the back starts to descend into a lying position I break out into a cold sweat....pathetic I know, but there you are.
Anyway, this time it was a case of a (thankfully) quick patch up, followed by an X ray...all pretty painless, except the old gag reflex kicked in during the X ray....just why do they try and fit awkward and overly large objects into your mouth ? its not my fault that i projectile vomited out the 2" piece of card she had wedged in my Gob....OK, it was only a 1 cm piece of photographic card I saw her pick up off the floor, but it sure felt like at least 2" square at the time.

Anyway the upshot of all of this, is that I now have another appointment on the 7th of October...a sadistically long enough period of time, for me to have a complete nervous breakdown just thinking of what might be coming my way on that to cheer myself up (Oh yeah !!), we ventured down to the beach at St Cyrus, which is not a million miles away, to soak up the remaining summer sun that is left.

The 4 stooges were in their element, sprinting off in all directions, none of them the same; chasing seagulls and the like, and generally behaving like hooligans, which is 2nd nature to them.
It was so good I almost forgot about the 7th ......... for all of about a nano-second !


ps. In case i have a complete nervous breakdown, and don't post tomorrow.....pinch and a punch !

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Edinburgh Zoo

We had a pleasant few hours wandering around the Zoo the other day, it is remarkably quiet at this time of year, so there were no sniveling, screaming snot ridden kids wandering around in Hoodies etc, which meant that for once the Adults could come out and play.
The weather was great (especially after the crap we had been having earlier in the month), and we even saw most of the Animals, which made a change from the recent visit to the Highland Safari Park, where we saw the sum of bugger all.
One word of warning for those passing through Dundee to get anywhere going South or West, the City Council in all their esteemed wisdom have succeeded in completely bringing the Traffic to a grinding halt near the Docks, so make sure you travel with a packed lunch, extra blankets and a thermos, as you'll be quite a time getting through that area, if indeed you eventually do.


Friday, 18 September 2009

Leuchars Airshow

This was a good day out, apart for those who decided to take a car, and then found out some hours later that the other 11,999 cars on the Leuchars base, were all trying to get out of the same gate.... Last year there had been similar scenes, so the RAF in their understandable wisdom, decided this year to let a "Traffic management Consultancy" arrange the parking this time. So it was good to see that they made exactly the same mistake as the "Boys in Blue" had made in 2008.....I would love to know, just how much they (We) had been eye wateringly charged for this piece of consultancy, but i guess there were a reasonable number of noughts involved.
As you know the weather was fantastic, and there was many a red nose seen at the end of the day, as the sun started biting. Of course no one had bothered to bring any suntan lotion, as none of the 50,000 crowd believed for one moment, that the big yellow object would eventually make an appearance in this part of the World ! We expected dry, yes; but Sun, never !
Anyway, it was all very noisy, Boys Toys and colourful tail art on the various aircraft.

Everyone also got a little taste of what the Guys in Helmand Province, Afghanistan must feel like, as the Chinook helicopter broke down and couldn't display..... Mind you, I was wondering why on Earth there was a Chinook here in the first place, as I just had the idea that maybe it could have been more usefully deployed elsewhere.... call me a cynic if you wish.

The Mighty Vulcan

Oh, and before i forget, if you want to attract the "Birds", then dress up in red flying coveralls with lots of patches (mainly saying Red Arrows), and wear a Breiting never fails, as "She who must remain nameless" was pictured asking for an autograph....Shallow, very funny and a good end to the Show !


Thursday, 17 September 2009

I'm (eventually) back.....

Yes I know...... there I was saying i will be updating stuff around the end of last month, and then came complete silence.... sorry.
My pathetic excuse is that quite honestly I have been incredibly busy, these last few weeks.
Dubai passed in a blur, as the de rigging of the Boat was just so fast, and consequently manic. I then arrived back in the UK last Friday to a beautiful sunset (see above for untainted pic) to find that "She who must be obeyed" had kindly organised a rail trip to the Leuchars airshow, which was fun, but at my advanced age completely knackering, and since then, I have been in recovery !
My consequent silence was then helped by Btinternet (God bless their cotton socks) deciding to play with the old broadband cut me off, for no other reason apart from losing us in their records.....unbelievable, but sadly true.
Anyway, its good to be back; even with every Tractor and Combine Harvester in the world trying to currently aim themselves at me whenever i see them on the road, but thats another story.....

Pretty pics of Leuchars Airshow will be downloaded shortly, and the rant will begin again once more....fingers crossed.


Friday, 21 August 2009

Thank you.

The kind response from everyone there out in Blogger land has almost restored some of my faith in human nature. So, thank you for that.

Normal service will shortly resume, either just before, or just after I fly to Dubai on the 29th August.....The KSA experience has come to a close i am glad to say, but there are still stories to tell, from the safety of the bars of Dubai......


Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The sad reason that no entry has been posted on the Blog, is that on the 14th August my Father in Law unfortunately died, so since that time, I have been travelling back from KSA, so that I can support and comfort My Wife, and also pay my respects.

He was a man of few words, but with an enormous number of Friends and Family, who thought the World of him.
I was so lucky that I could truly say, I felt I had 2 Fathers, with the amount of love and friendship he gave to me, and that I had for him. He will be totally and completely missed, but never forgotten.

Matthew Smith


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The Immigration Gentleman very kindly let me back into KSA yesterday, after just a 4 and a half hour wait, which for them is pretty speedy, and worthy of note.
I wasn't however particularly interested in watching just how far up his left nostril he could stick his finger, which was his trick of the day for that Tuesday. Its somewhat disconcerting to be standing in front of an alleged official, and watch him stare back at you, as he gently slides his finger into his nose for about 40 seconds....however, i was counting my blessings that a) it was his nose, and b) he hopefully wasn't planning to stick his finger anywhere else, and more importantly, into me.
Anyway, i can report that he got to the 2nd knuckle, which he was pretty pleased about, his delight of which, being increased further by a fairly bountiful harvest appearing on his finger when he eventually finished rooting around. Needless to say i have just finished spraying my passport with Spray disinfectant (soft linen scented), and we didn't bother with the shaking hands routine.
After that, it was onto the mini buses and the 1 hour journey to Ras Tunarra, followed by a further 3 hours of hanging around while various Port authorities/Custom Officials pulled apart the paperwork, or our bags in the relentless search for drink and porn, both of which if found they would destroy...... oh yeah !
After they had finished their fruitless search, it was then onto our crewboat for the 10 hour sail to our Seismic ship, upon which we embarked in the early hours of today.
Its the height of summer right now, which essentially means heat and wind for another 6 to 8 weeks. So as i stare at the screen I see that we are recording 46°C as an outside temperature with winds of 25 knots. Of course with the shamal wind comes the sand, so the whole vessel is turning dun coloured in front of our very eyes.
Only another week, and then hopefully we will be out of here, but as everyone knows, in this Country, nothing comes easy, so it will be an interesting few days ahead while we try and extricate ourselves, and move to Dubai.
I will keep you all posted on the adventures ahead.


Saturday, 8 August 2009

Rush, Rush, Rush

Well its the last weekend, and "Her Indoors" has been comparing the remaining number of jobs on her "To Do" list, with contest really, I lost.....but that's a given !
Its always a bit of a panic the last few days, as there are always things to do, that you have put off for better things at the time, ie clean the gutters, mow lawns, check oil etc in cars, and that's all coupled with the fact that you are also trying to squeeze as much time in together as possible, so it all gets a bit chaotic, even after 20 something years of living this way.
So to make the most of the remaining time (and to delay doing anymore list items), on Friday we dragged ourselves up to Glen Clova, or rather Glen Doll, and walked up to the National Nature Reserve of Corrie Fee, which is most definitely worth a visit. Its a wonderful, peaceful amphitheatre you enter when you finally break through the tree line, and on a sunny day it was glorious.
Angus Council and the Forestry Commission deserve large pats on their respective backs for looking after this area so well, apparently the Ranger was telling me that they are on target for 80,000 Visitors this year....we saw 3 other people, and not a bit of litter anywhere.
After 6 hours we eventually called it a day and started back for Home and the reality that, no matter how hard we try, you just can't delay time, and I'm off again on Monday for 5 weeks.....and with unerring accuracy the weather is finally coming good, as i am about to Y'all enjoy your Summer, you lucky People.
Next post from KSA, IF I manage not to insult an Immigration official.....a quick note to Myself....remember to engage brain in Cretin mode as soon as the aircraft door opens in Dammam.


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Flight details time

Well the flight details arrived through the email yesterday, and that successfully adds doom and gloom to my life, as you know that in one weeks time, I am having to get off my lardy ass, and actually go and do some work, which means in turn, I have to leave Home for another 5 weeks, and what is worse travel to Saudi of all places.....although not for long i am glad to say. We should finish our job there after a week, and then we can head to somewhere considerably more civilised, where women can drive (did I say civilised ?), people don't get stoned for looking at another Mans Wife, and you can go and get a sensible drink somewhere other than Bahrain, which is where every hypocritical law abiding Saudi goes whenever he gets an opportunity, and thinks he can get away with it......which seems to be most weekends by the looks of things....allegedly.
To forget about the flight details, the Missus and I foolishly thinking the weather forecast would be correct (why do we never learn ?), decided to head up the A9 (another one of my favourite roads) towards Aviemore, and go and visit the Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie.
For anyone who is thinking of doing this as a day out in itself, then don't bother wasting your money, please just send me, lets say 10 squid for this tip. For a Couple with 2.2 Kids it costs 37 squid to get in, and for that you see about 10 animals, as most of the other Buggers are either hiding, sleeping, or wilfully avoiding being seen by the paying public....its a joke.
The joke is then further cranked up a notch when it comes to the catering facilities, one cheese and tomato panini, venison hotdog (yuk !), coffee and a coke came to 14 squid.....unbelievable, and even more unbelievable that I paid for it as well.
The scenery though is lovely even with the threatening skies, and whats more its free, so I would recommend you just go up there for that, and avoid this rip off of a Tourist attraction.....the Kids will certainly thank you, and your wallet will only be lighter by the 10 squid you will be sending me.

A "Not hiding" Owl.

Cute Himalayan Blue Goat.....allegedly

Check out the technique on these Paddlers Ms TB...


Saturday, 1 August 2009

Road Rage

Well my blogging hasn't been so great these last few days as I have been driving all over the place, mostly visiting, or either taking people to Hospital.....I am in danger of rapidly becoming a professional Hospital visitor !
Number 128 is not doing too good, but I better be circumspect and not comment further as there is shortly going to be a massive complaint being made to Leeds Health authority regarding his treatment and their duty of care attitude....all i will say is that they are really a bunch of Cretins.....and there, I feel a lot better for saying that !
My father in law is coincidentally also in hospital, being treated here in Scotland, and the difference between the care he is getting, compared with what Number 128 is allegedly getting is breathtakingly so very, very different....anyway, enough of the online whining, so lets get onto some decent moaning....
On my travels around our Sceptred isle I have begun to notice that driving standards are just bloody awful (it never used to be like that in my day etc !). There are obviously more people out there now, who should be no more in charge of a car, than I should be in charge of running a Hospital....hang on, come to think of it.......!
I am no Angel (honest) when it comes to speed limits, but the number of people i have followed who have blindly been doing 40/45mph on main roads (where the speed limit is 60mph), and then if that didn't piss you off enough, blithely then go ahead and continue to do this speed in the various Towns and villages (where the speed limit is 30mph), is staggering....shooting is too good for them, its should be a straight electrocution....these people are dicks. how difficult is it to understand the concept of giving way to the right ? Well it must be bloody difficult for some people, as the number of people who have nearly had me joining them in their back seat is rising. For heavens sake, observe more than 10 yards ahead, look to the right, and if there is nothing coming, then knock your socks off and drive. Anybody would think that these people live with the Cheese eating Surrender Monkeys, as they keep insisting on giving way to the left, or to the car that they can eventually see (when they raise their eyes, and actually look through the windscreen) approaching 500m away.....these people should be hung, with maybe drawing and quartering added for good measure on days with a Y in them.
And finally, the use of as far as I am aware, an Indicator is a wee orange light, its not something physical like a big, cushioned, mechanical arm, or barrier which shoots out from the side of your car and stops other cars from hitting you when you are joining a dual carriageway from a side road, and insist on pulling out in front of them, as your indicator is on, and therefore you must have right of way....what is that about ? There is a clue in the name for Gods sake...Indicator, ie a means of identifying an intention, and not "sod you, I'm coming out, and whats more, i'll be joining the motorway at the princely speed of 43mph" Jeepers, please give me the name of a stockist of the biggest set of bullbars, so that I can ram these twats.
On Thursday the evening light was wonderful,and I was lucky enough to find Myself on the (empty) road between Blairgowrie and Dunkeld, near Clunie Loch from where these pictures were taken, so I shall leave you for now with some calming pictures......I am away to do some deep breathing exercises.......
Have a great weekend, and happy 1st of August.


Wednesday, 29 July 2009

BBQ Summer..... My Ass

So its official, the Met Office have got no more clue about what the weather is going to be like in the next 10 minutes, as my Yorkshire (Yaarksheer) Terrier has. They are a total and complete shambles, and what is more we are paying for the buggers to make these jokes of a prediction.
If they were thinking it was going to be a BBQ July, then we should have made them cook only on a BBQ for that period, ie put their money where their mouth is.....the prick teasing (skinny) B@£$ards.
The only good thing these last few days, is that this heavy, showery weather we have been having has got our bug population up, and the Red throated Swifts ( so My learned Wife tells me), have been having a ball, and in doing so have provided me with plenty of photo opportunities (most of which i have missed by a short mile).
I have no idea what speed these little Hooligans are capable of, lets just call it fast..... as in most cases the reflexes of a 49 year Old Man has not got an earthly of photographing them. My poor feeble attempts i attach below for your derision.....but hey, it kept me occupied for a while doing it.....Simple pleasures !


Saturday, 25 July 2009

Arbroath Seafront Spectacular

Saturday was the big day, and the Crowds were most definitely out to see what Arbroath "Could do for you" in terms of seaside entertainment. For once it was blessed with good weather, which was the major difference compared with last year where the rain just made everyone go home with that years version of swine flu.
Entertainment included some daft French motorbike stunt artist.....although heaven knows why they had to fetch him from France, as I had seen better wheelies etc performed along Victoria Promenade on a Friday night by the local Barry Sheens (Boy does that name date me !). There was some idiot called the Human Statue, who basically stood still.....good act eh, a real money spinner, and really incredibly interesting along with it......NOT. Unbelievably amongst all the various stalls for Fostering, International rescue (who bought a clapped out old Fire engine with them, which last rescued someone in 1953), various assorted stalls with candy floss, Sweeties, Chips, burgers, Fudge (In no assorted order of consumption by Myself of course), there was some maniac selling Rugs and carpets, who was doing a roaring trade for some unfathomable reason..... I mean who goes to an event like this with the express intention of buying a sitting room rug ?
Oh, and there were this lot below.....

The Brylcreme boys impressed the crowds with their fake Spitfire, I say fake, as it had some kind of new fangled lawnmower engine in it, instead of a Merlin, which therefore made it sound like a Flying sewing machine.

Old bikes, along with posing Middle aged Hells Angels (the UK soft version) riding Harley Davidsons. Who incidentally saved the day, as they stood in for the Sea king helicopter who was meant to show what a sea rescue looked like, but unfortunately could not make it due to some kind of gearbox issue (try putting some oil in it). So the Harley Club really pushed the boat out and their 10 bikes cruising up and down the seafront saved the day with the crowds.... No really, it was that good....almost !

Pretty in pink, and driven by some well muscled Young Ladies....."Nice bike Madam".

Montrose's version of the Fred Dibnah show. Roll up kids, and come and sit on my lap and have your photo taken....strange, but true, as i was there, and No, its not me in the picture !

Someone with far too much time on their hands, and could someone please tell me Why the Flintstones ? The Italian Job, Michael Caine and the Swinging 60's.....but the Flintstones ?

Is it a bird, is it a bee....No its....what the feck...

Its the Wing walkers, who really were the best bit of the Show, apart from leaving of course.

That attractive rustic old building at the bottom of the picture is the local seafront toilet. I thought you would all just like to know that just for future reference in case you are ever caught short in Arbroath....and no, you don't have to pay an entry fee.

What do you put on your CV/Resume to get a job doing this ? and how many Flies are you picking out of your teeth afterwards ? All good questions that deserve an answer, but continue to remain a mystery to this very day (Early Monday morning).

Whoops, now where has she gone ?

...and finally, why do grown men feel the need to dress up like this ?

Answers on a postcard please.