Memories of Flying in Cuba

Off to Cuba in 1999.  Flew one day late due to engine problems. Should of seen it as a sign. Arrived in Havana and mooched around. For me it was a delight. For the locals a nightmare stuck in time. Remember one shop, a chemists, with only vinegar for sale.

Onwards and another flight. Driven out to an airport that an Estate Agent/Realtor would call ‘’well lived in.’’ There was a plane, shiny and modern. A list of names tramped out and boarded the gleam machine. I waited. Next airplane. Older but relatively new and smaller. Another list, but not for me. Then I spied a relic being towed to  museum or knackers yard. No, wait a minute, it’s stopping. It stopped outside the departure lounge. Departure seemed to take on a new meaning. Everyone left was beckoned onto the relic. An ancient Antonov, probably from the 1950s love festival between Castro and the U.S.S.R.

As we approached the Wright brothers reject an engineer was tapping the nose cone with a mallet. Nervous laughter. On we climbed. The seats gently in their brackets and Russian accompanied Spanish instructions. Gunning the engine outrageously, the pilot got us airborne.

As we straightened out the cabin began to fill with smoke. The steward ran up the aisle to assure us it was harmless and from the old air conditioning  system. More nervous laughter, and a large rum, please. As I sat in the window seat I decided to watch and pray. Then to my dismay a flame shot back out of the engine. A couple of people said, ooh and one person screamed. The steward tried allay our fears by stating that on these engines, ‘’it was normal.’’ He needed to try harder. Well we landed and it was time for a large rum..Return flight to Havana was at night, in a thunderstorm on the same aircraft. It was a very, very quite flight.

Baggage Allowance

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Whitby bound soon. Flying to Newcastle, and later out of Leeds, with Ryanair. Some wags say that is the best thing to do with Leeds. Fly out.

The luggage allowance is so low with Ryanair that I can only pack my emotional luggage. Could still be tricky! Must check how many pairs of socks I can fit on my feet?

Travel and Pollution

Ripping the skies

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We travel. We like to go places. I like to travel. Travel broadens the mind. We like to travel to many places. Most people travel by air. Flying further and further in search of the exotic or simply a week in the sun. This coupled to an increase in the number of people travelling is a cause of pollution. Flying is the number one culprit. Estimates state that around 13-15 percent of greenhouse gases in the UK are generated by aircraft.

As we speak, the Arctic is rapidly moving towards an ice-free scenario. The upshot will be the increase in plumes of greenhouse gases, which will warm the planet even more. Our protection, the Arctic Ice, which has  shielded us from climate extremes is rapidly disappearing. Predictions state that 2016 will be the hottest year ever since records began.

We are like a smoker with a hacking cough who simply cannot quit. We are addicted to our own demise. Technologically there is no airborne revolution that will change this situation. Certainly not one which will comply with the number one directive. Namely to make money.

This is something we must take into account when planning our travels. For as we travel, we are killing that which nurtures us all, our planet. It is time to look beyond our own noses. But will we?

Memories of Koh Samui

Arrived via a small ferry. Chose a place to stay from the hawkers at the quayside. Onto the small van like vehicle and away.  Accomodation. One of six, or maybe eight small chalet style places in a neat row. Think I can still spot them on Google Earth search. Clean inside with a backroom with a hole in the ground and a tiled mandy for washing. Great.

 

Hot, hot hot. And don’t forget humid. No namby pamby aircon for us. Budget constraints meant we had only a fan on the ceiling. On reflection on the floor would have been rather troublesome.  Fan, you were lucky! Okay but a fan so slow the flies hopped on for a rest. Our neighbours were German lads with their ‘temporary’ Thai girlfriends. True love runs deep.

 

The beach, (Lamai I think), was a little stroll away. Somebody told us that it would be even hotter when we got to Indonesia. It was not. At that time Koh Samui was not overly commercialized. Plenty of hippy style chill out places to doss and chill. I remember  one good hotel with one good pool. The problem. The clientele was entirely German. We snuck in and tried to blend around the pool. However  the hotel staff saw us for what we were, thin and poorly dressed, and we were forced to scuttle away. We left heads held high, and feet higher.

The girls with me adopted a little doggy. She was sweet and they christened her Lucy,  They fawned on her. I remember them being heartbroken on the day we moved onto Penang in Malaysia.

Food was sadly western if required. I remember eating a super hot soup which had the words crab and hot in the title. I liked it, my body not! When ill there was a well equipped medical centre. Nearby weer shack like phone booths for that call home, to reassure you why you were there1

Nightlife was fantastic. Well certainly after a few glasses of Mekong whisky. The full moon party was full on craziness.  Starting with the almost embarrassed tipping of small amounts of water over people, it rapidly grew into a frenzied water battle. Then dance the night away. Magic.

Eating crabs on the beach at a barbecue, watching the sun rise. Great stuff. In the end we left Koh Samui, but Koh Samui never left me. After Koh we needed a rest.

Memories of Cameron Heights

Monday mornin’ and raining here. I love the rain. Must be an English thing. Yes, that’s it, an English thing.

Recall making plans to go to the Cameron Heights. Booked tickets on an old jalopy of a bus and had an overnight drive. The road meandered through the forest in the pitch black. Then  a thunderstorm rolled over and accompanied us. The lightning illuminated the soaked forest for milliseconds at a time.

Pulled into Cameron about 4am or 5am. Some ungodly hour. Everything was shut. So thoughtless of Cameron;-) I made my way to a hostel, but it was closed, too. Constructed in an imaginative square. But redemption was at hand. The building had a wide porch running around the font and both sides. How does a porch run? Slowly.

The rainy weather was kicking in again. I settled down on one of the comfy chairs, feet on my backpack, and slipped into my sleeping bag. Remember feelin’ cosy, dry and happy to watch the rain from my temporary sanctuary.

Cheese pleez

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What is the one food in your fridge that is never wasted? Never left till mushrooms pop up, or it turns green and evolves into a lower life form. For us, it’s cheese, cheese and cheese. Yellow, red, green full of nuts, bearing blue strata or just nice and smelly.Cheese pleez!

Predating even fridges, yes that ancient, cheese has always been with us. In France the cheese was great. Whole sections were set aside for this product in homage like manner. We would buy about eight unknown varieties and sit down with a fresh French stick and a glass of red vinegar for a tasting. Wonderful. Only one cheese was beyond hope. Upon opening it a safe containment zone was imposed. Essentially me running it out of the room at speed. Strong is not the word! The rest was delicious.

Cheese for the uninitiated comes from, milk. What did the first man to milk a cow think he was doing? Anyway, cheese is to to be savoured with relish. Even some scientists are swinging back round to saying that its health benefits outweigh the negatives. Bless them.Let not a day pass without cheese, for that will be a sad day.

Now its time for a tasty toasted cheese sarnie. Smacznego:-)