Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ancient towns of Southern Italy

I knew that Italy is full of very old ancient historic places, I have worked out of Florence for the last 9 years and have traveled extensively around the Tuscany region but I have had the opportunity to visit the Puglia region of the south and it is just chock full of old places and cathedrals and ancient castles and it is just reeking of history.  Yesterday i went to Matera and it has ancient water cisterns which are the largest in Europe apparently, plus the cathedral and a castle but i will say it was a tiny castle but maybe most of it was pulled down and the stone used to build the rest of the town. This is my 6th cathedral and probably not my last in this region, every house in towns are at least 3 hundred years old and haven't had a lick of paint since the second world war for some reason. its a pity that all these places couldn't be saved but slowly they are all falling down and the crisis is just making things even worse, anyways just wait for the next edition of which cathedral this coming weekend

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Pisa Tuscany Escapade

It has been a while since my last blog, but the reasons will be obvious when i tell you, I have been in negotiations for my present job and i didn't want to jeopardise my chances, I have landed a post with a large multinational japanese oil company and I am now working as a resident engineer in Italy at the start of a possible 5 to 6 year project that will see me end up working full time in Australia. I am doing the same stuff as before, gas turbines and compressors and in the same factory as i worked before, so not much has changed just the fact that i am now the customer and not the vendor. I am living in a fake farmhouse just outside of Pisa in the Tuscany region and I will be traveling around quite a lot, we have a panel builder who is based in Bari in southern Italy and the test centre is just outside of Massa which is just up the coast from Pisa, about 50Km, so it will be a busy year or so while i will be here, once all the equipment has been tested it is shipped to South Korea and put onto the worlds largest semi-sub as it is designed for a 40 year life cycle and it has 7 gas turbines aboard aart from all the other processing equipment.

So for now as I look out of my window at the chain of snow-capped mountains on sunday morning just thinking about the week ahead, I just thought you may want to see them

just wish it had the same climate as costa rica, with the option of skiing

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Just accepted a new job, Lecturing in Gas Turbine Operations

Since I found out my wife was pregnant last summer, it was pretty obvious that I had to get out of contracting and get a real job, well it took me a good while to find the right sort of job that fitted my experience, you know my background is pretty strange, I am a chemical engineer and I have worked in many types of engineering, service and maintenance and installation and commissioning so to get back into the office it was going to be a long drawn out thing.  I applied for everything and anything for a long time, I had a few bites but nothing was coming, I wasn't desperate as the baby was due and then the baby arrived and after 12 weeks I was thinking i really should get a job, and I was just trawling though all the LinkedIn jobs and I saw a little message saying someone was looking for someone with gas turbine and compressor experience, i really skipped over the other parts that said lecturer, I sent off my Cv and that afternoon I had what i would call a chat with some person in the office, I wasn't hopeful, he then said he would discuss it with the company secretary and she would call me later, well 3 days later she rang me and offered me the job, and the day after we were discussing terms, it was all quite shocking and sudden. It seems I still get to travel and not relocate, I stay in Spain travel to company offices to lecture about GT's and Compressors, and there maybe the chance of a permamnent office posting in Australia to Perth, I am so happy as Oz is my destination of choice. All I have to do is make sure I learn how to lecture to engineering professionals who I know can be a little rough around the edges. I start on the 10th of May, here we go.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Life as a Dad in the Gas Turbine World

I have been a dad for about 4 weeks and I am feeling the strain, disturbed nights and diaper changing, i am sure it will be worth it one day, it has screwed with my working life, i had to postpone my trip back to Peru. we will see where I end up next.

taking a rest with the little froglet

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Dinosaur crane graveyard

I have almost finished my 11 week trip to Ulsan Korea, to the biggest shipyard in the world, it builds on average 150 large ships a year and they are huge tankers and bulk carriers mostly, to build these monster ships you need monster cranes of all types, Hyundai managed to buy the worlds largest gantry crane froma bankrupt shipyard in Sweden, it is 138 meters tall, and can lift 1600 tons, it is so huge as to be beyond scale of description

here is the video of it being moved to Korea, they managed to pay only $1 for it at auction but they had to pay to move it of course.

they also have these enormous 800 ton crawler cranes and tower cranes all over

how many cranes, just too many

perhaps they have too many, the shipyards here have built so many ships the crisis is making it difficult for them to make money, all the contractors have been laid off and they have slowed down the building to keep the main employees in work, we will see if they have built too many ships

Friday, June 24, 2011

How To Check If Your a Redneck

1. You let your 14-year-old daughter smoke at the dinner table in front of her kids.

2. The Blue Book value of your truck goes up and down depending on how much gas is in it.

3. You've been married three times and still have the same in-laws.

4. You think a woman who is out of your league bowls on a different night..

5. You wonder how service stations keep their rest-rooms so clean.

6. Someone in your family died right after saying 'Hey, guys, watch this'.

7. You think Dom Perignon is a Mafia leader.

8. Your wife's hairdo was once ruined by a ceiling fan.

9. Your junior prom offered day care.

10. You think the last words of the Star-Spangled Banner are 'Gentlemen, start your engines'.

11. You lit a match in the bathroom and your house exploded right off its wheels.

12. The Halloween pumpkin on your porch has more teeth than your spouse.

13. You have to go outside to get something from the fridge.

14. One of your kids was born on a pool table.

15. You need one more hole punched in your card to get a freebie at the House of Tattoos.

16. You can't get married to your sweetheart because there's a law against it.

17. You think loading the dishwasher means getting your wife drunk.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Week 3 In Ulsan

I have been here for 3 weeks now and this is a large industrial city with one thing in common, it is Hyundai town, it is the largest shipbuilder in the world and it builds an awful lot of cars here also, but it is clean and well planned sort of and the Korean people are the most respectful nice people you could ever want to work for and visit, whenever we go out there is not a feeling of threat ever, some school kids don't leave until 10pm, yes I have actually seen them going home at 10pm at night, this would be unheard of in every country i have ever seen. The food is interesting, I do love the spicy noodles, the indoor barbecues are amazing, beer is OK, but the weather is letting this trip down badly, it has rained for almost 2 weeks, it turned a little bit nice over the weekend though, unfortunately it is an ugly boring town, meaning virtually no entertainment, if we want to do something in the city it is a 20 minute cab ride and then once you have walked about the city center then that is it, I have seen far too many ugly towns in my time and this is just another, Okpo where i working before Christmas was better as it was more rural and just more interesting.
The yard is amazing, just gigantic structures being moved about like it was a giant mechano set. The project i am on has some crazy designs and the control system of my turbines is just insane, with 3 separate controllers and all difficult to work on. Why do they want to make my life so difficult with these insane decisions.

I was planning on bringing my wife and little girl here for the summer but the job isnt going to last long enough so we are planning on 2 weeks in Tenerife, The Canaries.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Heading Back to Korea, Woohoooo

I have had my prayers answered, I am not going to North Africa of the middle east this year I am going back to South Korea, the land of the respectful hard working intellectual safe haven for engineering. It is such a relief to know that I am going on a long installation job in a nice city by the sea, Ulsan, it is a tad too close to Japan at the moment but to think i will have super high speed internet and be able to go out and get a beer with some interesting food is wonderful.

I must have done something nice for someone,

just to catch up this last 5 months, i went to Costa Rica for my Christmas holidays and saw all the relatives, had some nice food, in fact my mother-in-law was in a frenzy to keep me fed to the point of bursting. The weather was actually a little cold, but we did get a few days at the beach

Then since Christmas I have been taking it easy, completing the garden project behind the house on the community land, We have tomatoes and some herbs, two almond trees and now steps and a tiled pathway.

I just cannot wait to get back to work though, having 5 months off is great if your able to get out and do things but winter in Spain is restricting as it rains here like all other European countries, I did spend 5 days in Portugal during a non typical dry spell, but it has rained alot since then.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Last Week of My Korean Trip

I have had a reasonable trip here, the food was interesting, not the local food but the available international food, they have a barbecue style of restaurant which is very enjoyable, you get raw meat that you cook on a grill on your table, almost a barbecue, you eat as much as you want, all with Chopsticks and it is great fun, we like this so much as a group we do it maybe 3 times a week, we have also found a great thai restaurant, also a great little bistro that does the biggest burger i have ever eaten, the final place we eat at is a Turkish place,

The yard we are working in is just immense and like something out of a science fiction movie, everything is on a giant scale, building super-tankers is for big boys only, this could only have happened with government help, think of how Ford would build a car, and these build ships the same, bring all the semi finished pieces to an assembly line and it is finished in a couple of hours, here i saw a ship built in 5 WEEKS, yes it is incredible.

there are 30 thousand employees and many thousands of expat technical staff to assist from all countries around the world.

just take a look at some of the giant things here, the crane can carry a full section of a ship, 4000 tons.

This is my vessel, it is not a ship as it has no engines

It is over 1000 feet long

it goes on forever

How did that sneak in there again

and ever

this is about as big an engine you will ever get

these are some of the finished ships that are waiting to be paid for

Once i get back home after this week, I am busy for a few days doing all the family type things and then i fly away to my Costa Rican paradise holiday, for a whole month, then who knows what will happen in the new year, I may retire

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Something you will only see once in a blue moon

Ahoy All

I have been trying to enjoy my time at home, but there is too much to do and too little time to do it in, the third floor is almost completely finished, decorated and furnished, bed installed with a nice fake leather bed head, I did a crazy thing, i even bought a 32" tv to put on the bedroom wall which has a built in digital TV tuner and hooked it up to the local spanish TV, so now it is fully functional for guest, i have even gone to my sisters house in the UK to see my old dad and everyone, i also grew a crazy moustache and goatee beard for fun, but as i am now leaving for work tomorrow for Korea then I have shaved it off already,

so here is the pic of the beard you will actually never see live

Friday, September 10, 2010

Facebook is Killing my Blog

I have been working on this Blog for maybe 5 or 6 years now and to be honest I think Blogging is losing its relevance, It was developed for keeping in contact with friends and family but now with the advent of Facebook it has lost its need, Facebook is easy, you see the folks your trying to keep in touch with and you can chat like messenger, you see pictures, you share more with the folks there, but with blogging your hoping that your friends know your there and can they really be bothered with going to read the usual silly stuff i come out with.

Facebook is so easy to setup, just arrange your own account, they search via e-mail addresses for your friends and hey presto, you see everything these people put in, just maybe a 1 liner, or a birthday thing or many things, it is so much more personal, I am addicted and as you can see, i am blogging less and less, since i blogged I only ever got one unknown reader who asked me what Malabo Equatorial Guinea was like, other than that i think i have about 4 regular readers, and a few who come and see what is happening in my insane lifestyle.

just take a look at and check for my email address, as this maybe one of my last ever posts in Blogger. times are moving on.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Working in The Middle East

I have one thing to say about this part of the world, i will never ever come and work here again, not for all the tea in China or the gold in Fort Knox, my life is not long enough to tolerate the squalid conditions that I am forced to live in, it couldn't be worse in any third world country and probably would be far better as they would be grateful for my working for them, here I am just tolerated. I even have to obtain permission to leave the project, not acceptable, I dont think i need to add anymore.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Birds on the Desert ISland

yesterday i saw a bird that I was amazed at, it was a hoopoe, such an amazing bird with its crazy crest, I am not sure how it got here, it must be a wild bird, there are many Doves here, mostly collared and maybe a bleeding heart dove, some Indian Mynahs and some red-vented Bulbuls, lovely to see but i am feeling sorry for these two escapee parrots, red and blue lorys, just amazingly coloured, scarlet red with blue wings, like a kids painting, but I hope they feed them as there is very little for them to eat here, just a few date palms and some bouganvillias, I think some of the birds have escaped from the mini zoo, they have african guinea fowl and some Arabian Gazelle, maybe 10 of them they look lovely but on a miserable island like this is not practical or necessary and should be removed, but the birds are a nice distraction from the horrible isolation we have here.

amazing crest

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Maybe Escaping from Under the Vaulting Horse in 4 Days

Well time is rushing by when your having fun, i have been here for 7 weeks now and it seems like 5 years, what a crappy existence, some of the old boys here have been working here for over 30 years and one has been here for 34, what crime did they do for that. My project is almost over and testing in 3-4 days will be over, but they cannot run my Gas Turbines as the pipeline isn't ready yet, it may take 2 more weeks before it is ready. So the plan on their part is to get rid of all expensive contractors, as you know they are such a poor Engineering conglomerate they will go bankrupt if they keep us here, what a bunch of cheapskates they are. I am now planning my return to normal life. I have promised to take my wife to a nice hotel just up the coast in Almeria, overlooking some large lakes at the coast. Not sure how i can compensate my little girl for being away all the summer holiday, I have bought her a fake IPod but it looks real, plus it does play video.

The only things i have planned is drinking a few beers, going to the UK for a trip to see my old dad (He's 90 Now) and siblings, plus picking up all my Amazon purchases, then my little trip to a hotel to live like a king unlike living like a slave here, I can promise everyone here that i will never come back here, it is just appalling and shocking, nobody deserves to be treated like this.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Version of Crazy Eating

Last night at dinner i saw a new variant of eating crazy, how about this one to try, try sticking out your tongue all the way and then placing the spoon, fork or any other implement onto the tongue before bringing them in together, it looked insane, i just couldn't stop looking at him. I was so rude with the stare but it was by far the most bizarre eating habit i have witnessed here so far, maybe i will see someone even worse. I will let you know

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eating Habits of Peasant Labourers

I am here with 5000 of mostly Indians and i can say without hesitation they are all peasants, I eat with the supervisors and even the majority of those are peasants made good, the reason i say this is that their eating habits are just unbelievable. The mostly eat with their fingers and it is a horrible sight, they mix up their food round and round with their fingers making like a puree, and then make balls which they shove in, they also use flat breads to wrap large lumps of the food to shove in wrapped in the bread. I have seen some of them using spoons and forks at the same time as this is easy to shove lots of food in together. The use of a knife is not really adopted here but i did see one guy with a knife and fork but had the use the wrong way round, he was pushing food onto the knife and putting the knife in his mouth.

The other main reason you can tell is that when you give a peasant free rein in the restaurant they go insane and pile the food as high as the plate will allow. also taking excessive amounts of fruit afterwards. They become very fat guys after eating like this for the usual 6 months they are here at a time. The pulling back of the lips is also something i have commented on before, watching someone try and at a huge pile of food without it touching their lips is just incredible, just try it yourself very difficult. The food is pretty good and as you are aware it is mainly catering for the Indian palette and even though i like it if can become overwhelming so i have started having salad at least once a day. I will try not to stare too much but these guys are like doing it for show, trying to outdo each other with the strangest method. God Bless Curry.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Abu Dhabi, What a Joke

What do you think of the United Arab Emirates, the UAE, you think of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but it is really just an empty desert wasteland, with a city in each emirate, Abu Dhabi is all new, very little is old and if it is old it is a shitty mess, there are apartment blocks with the bricks falling off and trees growing out of walls, yes I saw a tree about 30 feet in the air growing out of the brickwork where the water from an A/C unit was feeding the tree. all the new building look the same and mostly are empty. the City has no soul at all, just ugly great buildings and millions of poor peasants from India and Pakistan and Bangladesh and from all over actually, all trying to make a living, but it has no soul, no life of its own, no community. Just folks trying to make some money. Now don't get me wrong that is a noble thing, keeping your family fed but if you don't have to live there, I would rather be somewhere with real people and real places, not a desert city, the locals all live out of the city anyway, in their huge palaces out by the airport, why would they want to mix with the plebs in town, I found it all totally boring and lifeless and not an ounce of redemption. The esplanade along the sea front is crap also, with some low lying island in front so no clear sea view. I was desperate to get away but now i am back. Nothing to shout about, some of the guys have been to Dubai, and say it is one giant building site and again everything is empty, just a speculators building site and hopefully they have all lost their shirts on it. I can say that when folks say they are going to Dubai for a holiday, they are insane, temperatures up to 50C and high humidity, no wildlife and no trees apart from the obligatory Date Palms, it is a fake place with lots of fake people. Don't be fooled by the shiny glass and expensive cars, it is a place to make some money and run away, I will run away and never return if i can avoid it, life is too short to suffer such a empty place.

I didn't mention that it is a peninsular in a mangrove swamp, good for the birds and mosquitos, just hope the global sea rise will make it a second Atlantis, i would put a photo of Abu Dhabi in here but the country blocks Flickr as though it was a communist threat, it also blocks Skype and any VOIP software as that would mean your not paying enough for your phone calls. It is like being back in the sultans palace and he has all the toys and you can have none and no food and have your balls cut off so you cannot play with the girls. This place does my head in really badly.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Modern Life in the Jetstream

Well life surely gives you a kick in the guts now and again to remind you not to think your so special and privileged. I had to fly to Florence to my head office to pick up a laptop, it needed setting up and lots of security passwords and it is far easier for them to do this than send me the laptop and then let me try and get it done over the phone. So i had a crazy early morning, up at 4.30am and flew out via madrid and then i had to catch a train from Pisa to Florence, all very primitive i thought but it was the only way I could get there on time to pick it up. The train even dropped me off at the gates of the factory at Florence Rifredi station, perfect I thought. I was met at the gates but my old manager and I didn't recognise him as he seemed to have lost about 40 Kg, but it was my eyes that deceived me as he said he had gained weight. Well i told him i want to live in Australia again for the 20th time as I keep sending him mails letting him know. That evening i went out for a meal before going to bed early, outside my hotel was a food van which i had seen the previous time i was there 3 years before and i thought it must be good or it would have gone bust by now, I went over and was met by an English speaker who asked me what i wanted and I was offered the local specialty Lampredotto (Google It for description), i didn't know what it was but it sounded exotic, he pulled out a large break roll and then opened a pan with some spicey smelling sauce in it, and pulled out a huge lump of meaty stuff and chopped it all to pieces on a board, it was clear enough to me that it was cows stomach as i used to have it as a kid, i was worried but it tasted really nice actually it was just the texture that was pretty unappealing, it was like chewing a jelly fish that was full of dental floss that all stuck in your teeth. it was huge also, with about 1 pound of this meat in it, the beer i had with it cost more than the sandwich, total price 4.50 Euros. I felt over stuffed afterwards and i struggled to sleep right with such a full stomach.

I flew into Abu Dhabi with a copy of my work permit in my pocket and on getting into the terminal i was looking for the office that i saw last time, but i never found it, i just ended up at the immigration desk, last time the immigration officer saw on his screen that i had a work permit issued and pointed me to the office. This time he spent a long time just looking at his screen and then he stamped my passport and waived me through, when i got to the other side to be collected by the company rep, he asked if i had the visa, he was panicking as he was going to get his arde kicked for me not getting the visa, as we walked from one office to another, it was obvious that i had had my work permit canceled and a visitors visa issued by the idiot on the desk who didn't think to ask me first, it meant i had to leave the country to get my tourist visa canceled and issued with another. the next day I had to leave to Qatar and stay overnight to be able to have a new one re-issued. It all went find, i even managed to get time to visit the project manager in Qatar who is overseeing the job. But it was another 2 flights i didn't want and another night in a strange bed, but the internet was fantastically fast. I was able to download five of the movies that have just been released as i need some entertainment while on the offshore island. I was even downloading Jeeves and Worcester, some old comedy from the UK, i managed about 10 GB over 12 hours which i thought was excellent. pity the one in Abu Dhabi is about 20 X slower. I am now back from Qatar and everyone is smiling again and I have been to have my regular HIV & Hepatitis tests and X-rays for TB, so i cannot transmit anything to any of the 5000 Indian men who are all probably with tropical bugs that I don't want to catch. It is just a waiting game now until the company manage to get hold of my travel pass and get me a seat on the flight. I hope life is easier out there on the coral atoll now the job is almost complete.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Third Floor Sun Terrace

Hurrah, my sun terrace is almost finished after 7 months of work. I have been using my time usefully while my wife makes her recovery. The builders started last year in the worst winter rains in 70 years. it rained into my bedrooms and ruined the ceilings but now the building work has finished and I am ready to enjoy the sunshine, but it is really hot already, the decorator is leaving for the UK for his holidays and I am going to have to wait for the painting but I am going to be up in the sun pretty soon. we even bought a parasol and fancy chairs for the sun, we even considered a fridge for the beer and water but that was going over the top.

the views from the terrace are spectacular, when i went up the other night, the whole town was lit and looking fantastic with the cool evening air feeling wonderful. almost worth the crazy amount of time and money spent on it, the next door house but one, sold for 60,000 euros and so mine is worth about the same as i spent on the terrace. I also covered over the back as it is my laundry area and build a new sat dish pole. it is a crazy thing with spiral stairs and landings and all to be decorated now, more pics later

A View from the terrace

A view of the rear where the barbecue area will be

A view of the top floor from the terrace, not decorated yet

soon to be available for vistors

Summer Sun

The summer has finally arrived, we have had only 1 small rain shower in the last 4 weeks and basically the dry season is now upon us.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Golf Shirt Heaven

I was working in Colorado USA a long time ago, I spent almost a year working on 3 different projects, finally after a long and cold winter where the frost was an inch thick. I was sent onwards to another project in Arizona, about as different in climate as possible. As soon as i got out of the airport in Las Vegas, ( the closest to the site ) it was obvious I had all the wrong clothing for this place, the airport temperature was 97 F, which is very hot in centigrade. As soon as i got to my hotel, which was a nasty motel on route 66, yes that is route 66, some of it still exists. I went looking for some clothing shops, in this town there was nothing and all i really wanted was some working clothes, i decided to find the local charity shop to get some shirts of some sort, now i normally wore long sleeves being used to the UK weather, and wore nothing fashionable so when i started to go through the shirts on the racks it was obvious that i was going to have to wear what is normal in the USA, this means golfing shirts are pretty common. I went through maybe 2-300 golfing shirts and bought some of the darker checked colours and anything also that fit me, i also bought some Nike shorts and many other things, i bought myself a whole new wardrobe, it was insane, maybe 20 shirts in total, most of them had hardly been worn at all, looking new, probably they were, some of them were from special events so probably hadn´t been worn, I fell in love with the gold shirt, I still have about 6 left from that very buying spree and they are totally worn out and i feel so comfortable in them, I am thinking seriously about travelling back to the land of the golf shirt to do a replacement shopping spree at the good will shop, one shirt in particular was great, it was made from organic cotton and was a very nice gray and cream fleck colour and I wore the poor thing to death, i wore it to go out and it was on my back 50% of my waking time. it eventually fell out of shape being washed so many times and i had to let it go to the great gold shirt graveyard in the sky. My wife basicvally hates these 6 remaining shirts as i refuse to throw them away and get new ones, new ones are not the same, they dont make them the same over here, and wouldn't feel comfy in new shirts, old ones, pre worn ones make me feel relaxed so much more. Is it the cheap ass in me or do i get some Kama from them, please let me know.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

My Wife Was Involved in a Major Car Wreck

about 12 weeks ago my wife was a passenger in a car crash that nearly took her life, I was working away in Abu Dhabi and my neighbour mailed me and my company to get me to come home ASAP, there was mention of pelvis damage and liver damage and a big bang on the head, it was far worse than I was told. She had sustained a near fatal side impact while being a rear seat passenger. The impact smashed her pelvis and broke it away from her spine, she broke a rib and her coccyx( Very Painful) and ruptured her liver plus she had two minor brain bleeds, I was in shock and denial but never once did i think she would die, but she was as close to death as any crash victim could be. She was in the intensive care unit for a week before she had surgery for her broken pelvis, they implanted a bar to hold the front to the back, they actually never told us most of the details, it was probably for the best.

She was in the hospital for 3 weeks until her wounds had healed enough, I have been caring for her at home ever since, she is allowed to shuffle about with walking sticks but she has an external metal fixator to hold the parts rigid and aid the recovery, but the pins into her pelvis are painful and any movement is a problem, she hopefully has the frame removed in 10 days time and then we can look forward to getting her walking properly, but as you will see in the x-rays her left side of the pelvis is displaced upwards, making her left leg shorter in effect, this is going to make life a little harder, her memory is missing many thing due to the knock on the head and the brain bleeds and also some possible damage to her optic nerves which have left her with some loss of vision, but in the long term she will recover and lead a normal life but that may take 2 years. I am back to work at the end of June as i need the money and to keep my career on track, we will see how the next few weeks progress, thanks to all who sent their best wishes

Totally broken but alive

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thinking of Retiring to a Foreign Country??, Disaster Awaits You

I am constantly amazed by the crazy ideas old farts have about retiring abroad to a country where they cannot speak the language and think it is like living back home. It is a running joke here in Spain about all the silly old farts who sell their houses back in the UK and retire to a lovely little place in Spain or France or any other crazy place that they think will be great to retire. It is a recipe for disaster, I am here with my Spanish speaking wife and life here is hard work. The weather is shite most of the year and the houses are designed for Spanish peasants so they are primitive and cold in winter and hot in summer. So when some of these old farts come on holiday year after year to the same country and they fall in love with the lovely warm sunny summer weather they think that living here is the same as coming on holiday, it makes me wonder if they think it is warm and sunny all year round. It isn´t, this year was the wettest for 60 years and some houses have been lost to giant landslides, where there was once a little creek there have been raging river bursting through gardens, and when the town hall find out about the house, it appears that it never had planning permission and then they fine you 50,000 Euros for having an illegal build.

The legal system here is totally alien to anything you can imagine, it was created by lawyers who were wanting to steal as much money as they could from anyone. They are all crooks and I have been a victim of this also. So if you buy a place it could be an illegal build, but the lawyers have hidden this from you, the fines are enormous and now the Spanish government are planning to demolish 10´s of thousands of these illegal builds. So you could be facing a total loss.

Te other thing is living here is not the same as holidaying here, shopping and living and dealing with normal everyday things medical things. As an example there is an old couple who sold there UK house and moved to spain after buying a house 10 years ago. The house is tiny and maybe 10 feet wide and is almost a 1 up and 1 down, their idea was to save money and just enjoy the outdoor life. This winter has made everyone stay inside for 6 months, so all the brits are going insane, the houses are cold and damp and tiny, these folks lived 70 Km from the coast and away from the town centre, again the isolation has been driving them insane. She has also had the need for medical attention and this is the biggest difference here, the system is geared about the family taking care of the patient. So being here alone is a disaster, these people have been here since last Autumn and are looking like they are destined to return within the year, but the running joke is that all the old farts return within a couple of years.

My recommendations for anyone thinking of moving abroad is don´t, if your thinking of doing it to save money, you will not. If you think that being on holiday for 12 months a year is good then you will get bored. Life is not a giant holiday and missing your friends and family will be far worse. I recommend that you just rent a place for 3 months at a time and still keep your house in the home country. maybe rent a place for the entire year to get a good rate and share it with other people, so when you get tired you just quit and stay in your house in the UK. The other thing right now may be a temporary thing is that the exchange rate has gone the wrong way by 30% and if your on a fixed income then that is a 30% cut in your income. so many brits right now are leaving spain and cutting their losses and just going back to the mother country. I can speak about this from experience from traveling and living all round the world and having a base to live from is critical it gives you a feeling of security but packing up and leaving for good shakes you to your roots.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What would it Be Like In Pandora

I have watched the movie in spanish and English and several times at home, it is the best movie I have seen in a long time, it fills my heart with nice awe inspiring thoughts, like what would it be like to live with such frightening creatures running about and having luminous and mobile plants all over, trees taller than apartment blocks. Just makes me shiver all over. There were some reports that some people were leaving cinemas all depressed as planet earth is so crap and Pandora was so nice. Yes i was almost in that category, the planet earth is crap and full of morons who need to die but not quite depressed about it all. But i thought i would give you an idea of what i may look like when on the planet Pandora. No wonder the guy wanted to stay there having sex with a big blue pussy cat. Anyway life back on earth is more mundane, I have been checking out where I am going to be working next, it seems all the work is in Australia, sounds good to me apart it is on a small island in the Timor Sea, but it could be worse, i could going to Saudi.

This is one handsome looking Alien

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

10 Important Life Thoughts

Number 10
Life is sexually transmitted.

Number 9
Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Number 8
Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny. If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich.

Number 7
Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day, teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks.

Number 6
Some people are like a Slinky ... Not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

Number 5
Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

Number 4
All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to Criticism.

Number 3
Why does a slight tax increase cost you £200.00 and a substantial tax cut saves you £30.00? Pounds or dollars - the currency doesn't matter ...

Number 2
In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is Weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

And The Number 1 Thought For 2010:
"Life is like a jar of Jalapeno peppers - what you do today, might Burn Your Ass Tomorrow"