Saturday, June 30

Back Again

Well that's me back to reality after two weeks in the beautiful Greek island of Crete, and I can well recommend it as a place to take a holiday. But whilst sat in a bar enduring the brain frying temperature of 45c (113f) and watching reports on TV of torrential rain and major floods back in the UK. It really does seem time to believe that something must be behind these extremes in weather that we are seeing more and more often. Like it or not climate change is now a fact of life. Locals told me that they had not endured temperatures as high as this for the time of year for twenty years or more, and constantly warned visitors not to stay out too long in the blistering Sun. Most folks were sensible, but of course some weren't and the local medical centres did a roaring trade, with heatstroke and bad sunburn cases galore. When holidaymakers end up visiting these medical centres they are impressed by the treatment that they seem to receive. But what most don't seem to realise is that most of these places located in holiday resorts don't work like the good old NHS, they are private clinics and are purely and simply there to make money. If you limp in with a sprained ankle don't be surprised if you are given blood tests, X-rays and an ECG and any other expensive procedures and tests that they can dream up. OK we know that your travel insurance is going to end up paying for it all, and that's exactly the idea of having insurance, but these places are one of the reasons that it's so expensive.

Tuesday, June 12


Well it's that time of the year again and time for my annual break, but I will be back soon hopefully refreshed and with more tales to tell. I'm hoping that the wife doesn't have any more tricks up her sleeve like the one she pulled a couple of years back. We were flying from the busy Manchester airport and I was asked to open my bag whilst they checked it. No problem with that I thought, I have nothing to hide, or so I thought. The stern faced security guy delved into the bag and pulled out a clear plastic bag full of a white powder, what's this he asked holding it up triumphantly. I was speechless, I genuinely didn't know and all sorts of visions started to come into my head of handcuffs and jail cells. The wife meanwhile had gone on ahead but thankfully returned when she noticed that I had gone as white as the mysterious powder. She explained to the now disappointed security guy that she had packed some soap powder in my bag without telling me. Even then he opened the bag and smelled it to check that we weren't international drug smugglers. Even though I am not that keen on flying, I was still very relieved to board the plane and order a stiff drink. I won't say where I am of to but if you watch these cookery videos you may guess!
How to make Fajin
Stuffed Vine Leaves

Monday, June 11

Damp Carpets?

A taxi driver managed to crawl out of his vehicle after driving it into the swimming pool of a condominium in Puchong Perdana yesterday. —Picture courtesy of Sin Chew Daily
A taxi driver managed to crawl out of his vehicle after driving it into the swimming pool of a condominium in Perdana yesterday.

So heavy was the rain yesterday that a taxi driver drove his vehicle into a 1.5m-deep swimming pool at a condominium there.

The incident happened at 5pm when the driver in his 30s entered the Vista Millenia condominium in Puchong Perdana to pick up a passenger.
"It was raining heavily when I entered the area. I couldn’t see clearly," said the traumatised taxi driver.
According to the condominium’s security guard, the driver entered a pathway meant for joggers around the swimming pool.
"The sky was so dark that the driver must have thought the pool was a rubber mat.
"When he reached a dead end, he tried to make a U-turn, not realising he was driving into the pool," said the guard.
The driver managed to get out of the car as it was sinking. A tow truck took nearly an hour to pull the taxi out.
The condominium’s residents’ association chairman Chidan Paran said the pathway which the taxi entered was not blocked.
"Anyone could have easily mistaken it for a driveway as it is wide enough for a car to pass through," he said.

Smoke Free

Leaders of England’s taxi drivers are welcoming the complete ban on smoking in taxis and private hire vehicles which comes into effect at the end of this month.
“For some years we have promoted the right of drivers to ban smoking in their taxis, and the new law will end any confusion on the issue,” said taxi driver Jim Kelly, who chairs the Cab Trade Committee of the T&G Section of Unite – the union. “For us, this is primarily a workplace health issue. Like other workers, taxi drivers are entitled to do their job without being at risk of cancer and other deadly diseases from cigarette smoke.

“No-one would expect to be able to blow smoke over a factory or office worker while they are at their posts. Now taxi drivers, together with bar staff and others still at risk from cigarette smoke, will get the same protection and consideration as the rest of the working population.

“I have just returned from Dublin, where I found that the well-established ban on smoking in taxis there has not caused any real problem. Of course, it needed a culture shift for passengers, and for some drivers, too. But the overall effects, and the health benefits, make that worthwhile.

“I hope the next generation of taxi drivers will wonder how we ever tolerated smoking in our vehicles, and this measure could mean a lot more of our members will still be around to answer that question.”

From July, legislation will make it illegal in England to smoke in virtually all enclosed public places, workplaces and public and work vehicles, including public transport and buildings associated with public transport. The new legislation will mean smoking in all taxis and private hire vehicles will be illegal. Previously, drivers could decide whether or not to allow passengers to smoke in their vehicles.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics. Remember never test the depth of the water with both feet.

Sunday, June 10

Drunken Sailor

Visiting Royal Navy sailors had a whale of a time in the pubs and clubs of Barrow over the weekend. But it seems that one jolly jack tar at least had a little too much of the local hospitality. He emerged from the Blue Lagoon, Barrow's floating nightclub at four am and decided that instead of walking the two miles or so to his ship that he would swim the few hundred yards across the dock and back to his bunk. Even though the ship looked temptingly close, he was soon in trouble in the ice cold dock water. Luckily for him he was spotted going in the water and a Navy rescue boat was launched to recover him. Boy I bet he was in trouble early next morning, but these guys of all people should know that alcohol and water just don't mix.

Saturday, June 9

Dancers and Sad Sacks

Well the local parade season has started with our neighbours in Dalton enjoying a sunny Saturday for their annual bash. As usual the main streets were blocked and as usual we had folks who rang up wanting picking up from the blocked of areas, you would have thought that they would have learned by now wouldn't you. Most of the fares I had going up there were members of the dance troupes who hold a competition after the parade. Most of the dancers are young girls who just do it for fun, but the mothers take it very seriously. You wouldn't believe the amount of backbiting and catty remarks I overhear from the mums about their opposition, and I have been told of arguments which have ended up in hair pulling eye, scratching cat fights. Apart from the poor kids caught in the middle of this open warfare the ones I feel the most sorry for are the husbands and partners who are dragged, sometimes unwillingly along. You can spot the poor downtrodden sad sacks a mile away carrying their canvas deckchairs. They tend to wear three quarter pants and a football shirt in the colours of the team that they would be watching if only the football season hadn't just ended. Come on guys, don't do it get a hobby fishing, darts, hang gliding, drinking beer anything must be better than putting yourself through this torture!

Friday, June 8

Pretty Sub?

Well it seems that I wasted my time giving the taxi that extra wash and brush up, just in case Camilla (Duchess of Cornwall) wanted a quick cab ride into town, maybe for a pint at the Cross Keys or a pie from Green's. Apparently she landed at Walney Airfield, which is a pity because if she had been coming by road you can bet your life that Abbey Roads long delayed roadworks would have been finished in double quick time. But no the only fares I took to the launch of Barrow's newest built submarine HMS Astute were two local couples. One of the couples was boasting to the other about how they had seats at the top table along with all the VIP,s and about how jealous other manager,s would be of them. Funny how office politics always rear their ugly head, myself I'd rather have the Greens pie and the pint at the Keys. When the huge sub finally made it's way out of the giant Devonshire Dock Hall onto the huge ship lift ready to be lowered into the water hundreds of folk were busy taking photos. Myself I can't see any beauty in the huge black beast, they all look the same to me it's just a large black steel tube. OK so they tell me that it's more complex than the space shuttle and that they will be the largest and most powerful nuclear attack submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. But when I see the paintings that adorn some pub walls no matter how pretty the sunset or how blue the ocean it's still a big black steel tube no matter what.

Thursday, June 7

Cops Crash Too

Now that I've heard the reason why most of our police vehicles are old wrecks it makes sense to me now, they just can't trust them in new vehicles. And now I'll smile when I hear of the holier than thou attitude towards motorists from some police forces and their officers.
"Police have caused more than £2.3 million worth of damage to their own police cars - while reversing, new figures have revealed."
Most were minor parking accidents as officers backed into bollards, parked poorly or bumped into buildings. But the cost of repairs comes out of taxes because insurance premiums and excesses are so high that the forces do not claim for the damage. The bill of £2,348,757 could have paid for 100 newly-qualified police constables, who earn £23,454 a year. The accidents left 105 officers claiming to be injured - most suffering shock and whiplash. The figures were released by 31 forces across England and Wales under the Freedom of Information Act. They were asked how many accidents their vehicles had suffered while reversing in the past three years and how much the damage cost. Of the forces that provided figures, a total of 7,348 reversing accidents were recorded between 2004 and 2006. However, the true total is likely to be much higher because the Metropolitan Police - Britain's biggest force with 23,600 vehicles - was among those which did not respond. Of the forces that did provide data, Greater Manchester suffered the greatest number, with 873 incidents costing £257,000 and injuring six officers. Hertfordshire Police said the "vast majority" of its incidents "happened at slow speed, when officers were trying to park a car or carry out a three-point turn. Many happened on police station premises, not on public roads". Three of its officers suffered whiplash injuries and another two shock. "You can understand a policeman who is responding to an emergency making an error like this,"a Conservative MP said. "But it seems like an awful lot of money to waste on avoidable minor collisions in police car parks. "The forces obviously need to lay out their car parks better and make sure all their vehicles have parking sensors because £2.3 million would pay for a lot of policemen on the beat."

Tuesday, June 5

Askam Pier

I have to admit that for once I was stumped, I have lived round here all my life and thought that I knew every nook and cranny of the area. But when my fare who was a stranger to town asked to be taken to Askam pier I had to admit that I had never heard of it. Now when I picture a pier the grand wooden structures of Blackpool or Brighton spring to mind, definitely not the small nearby village of Askam. But not wanting to show my ignorance I drove through Askam and down to the beach, then thinking that I would get laughed at I asked a local "which way to the pier mate" and amazingly he pointed to a road leading through a new housing estate and down to a stone bridge which led to Askam's famous pier. But this one hadn't the usual amusement arcades and shops selling saucy postcards and no theatre shows with past their sell by date comedians telling dirty jokes. This one was constructed from slag produced way back in Askams long gone iron making days. No wonder they keep quiet about it, stretching a half mile or so out into the Duddon bay, this is one of the most beautiful unspoilt places in the area, with fantastic views and sandy beaches this really is a hidden gem.
Check out the high-res photos on Two Steps Back

Monday, June 4

Russian Roulette

Local motorists were forced into an unwanted game of Russian roulette at the weekend. Temporary traffic lights at Barrows ridiculously over delayed roadworks at the junction of Rawlinson St and Abbey Rd were faulty for the forth or fifth time within the last month. This led to the red lights not showing on both sides of Abbey Rd and drivers speeding through the junction with one crash at least and many near collisions and bad tempered arguments. Surely someone must be in charge of looking after the lights over the weekend, why weren't they called out and told to fix the fault before someone is hurt or killed?

Sunday, June 3

Cowboy Outfit

The normally quiet village like atmosphere of Roose was shattered by the sound of gunfire as I drove back from Holbeck early on Saturday morning. The smoke and the stench of cordite hung in the air like an early morning mist. I could hear the gunfire but it took three circuits of the roundabout before I spotted smoke signals rising from the local Roose Conservative Club. As I cautiously drove into the car park to investigate the smoke got thicker and the gunfire got louder. I expected to see maybe our local goths and chavs in some sort of final confrontation, maybe about which group has the right to hang about outside our local Dalton Road McDs. But no the first character I saw walking across the tarmac was sporting long black hair in a pony tail and was dressed in native American Indian style buckskins. More characters all dressed in various western outfits sauntered out from the bar carrying pints of beer and toting six guns and rifles. None of them took aim at my cab and so I hitched up and had a little mosey around. It was quite a sight to see with confederate soldiers rubbing shoulders with union troops and Indian squaw's sharing cigarettes with buffalo hunters. The gunfire started up again and after I had climbed out from under the taxi, I saw that a posse of lawmen were in the middle of a deadly gunfight with a gang of desperate outlaws. When I saw that no blood was being shed I realised that they were firing blanks and that if I avoided the fierce looking Indian who was sharpening his tomahawk nearby, I should be safe. Turns out it was a meet of a western reenactment group, and boy do they take it seriously with costumes and weapons perfect in every detail, it was just like being on a film set of a shoot em up western..

Friday, June 1

Women In Art

I think this is great, it portrays women in art from the middle ages right up until the recent past. Watch it and see how many artists works you can spot.