The World This week from Mennies.

Saturday 27 November 2021

Scotland is independent, Why do our leaders not know this?

I have said this before and I will say it again, Scotland is an independent country. We are an independent country joined to the rest of the UK by a ( theoretically) free choice made in the lead up to the act of union enacted in 1707.

This choice although not made in what we would now call a democratic manner, was made using the political system we had at the time and that was by a small group of people set up as representatives of the people.

It was an agreement made between two sets of pseudo-democratic politicians, neither of which would fulfil the definition of democracy by today’s standards.

As far as I can see, there was nothing in the act of union that extinguished Scotland as a nation, in fact, there is a provision in the act for the situation to be reversed if either country wishes that to happen.

Scotland retained its own legal system and education system, although the education system was subsequently heavily influenced by the larger partner in the arrangement, England and that is obvious even today by the inclusion of “English” as a subject in the educational curriculum. Remember, in 1707 both Galic and Scots were the main languages used in Scotland.


There is no doubt that Scotland was always treated like a colony, but it could be held that that was through choice by large sections of the population, although, remember too that after 1707 there were several uprisings in 1708, 1715, 1719 and 1745. The 1745, being the most successful of them all but it should be noted that the turning point in this uprising was when the Scottish army reached Darby, where they turned back. And having looked at that uprising for some time now, to me it draws parallels with what is happening now.

In the 1745 uprising, the clans were gathered and rose to the standard of Charles Edward Stewart based on the attainment of freedom for Scotland and were very successful in defeating the English armies of occupation, within Scotland. However, once the army moved south and into England, it would appear that the highlanders and indeed lowlanders in the forces of Prince Charlie realized that the agenda was not exactly what they had been led to believe and they were being used to usurp the crown of England, therefore by the time they reached Darby there was great consternation within the army as to exactly what they were doing so far south in England.

A parallel could be drawn here in relation to why our Westminster MPs are still in England after achieving an almost total Scottish majority in 2015.

Regardless of how this union was looked upon by England from 1707, and it is obvious that this was as a takeover, the actual act of union was never altered and therefore to my mind still exists as an agreement to cooperate, similar to the EU agreement, giving either party the right to remove itself from the agreement when it becomes obvious that the arrangement is not working for that partner. Exactly as was the situation with the EU.

Now again drawing a parallel with the 45 uprising, the people of Scotland are becoming fed up with the situation where we have a vast majority of Scottish MPs in London doing not a single useful thing for Scotland and a leader in Scotland who was more intent in saving England from the follies of Brexit than she was for Saving Scotland from the harm that leaving the EU would do to Scotland. This could have been done by ending the voluntary union.

So just in the same way as  Charles Edward Stuart became a traitor to Scotland when he crossed the border into England with a Scottish army, so is Nicola Sturgeon by allowing Scottish members of the Westminster Parliament to waste a vast Scottish majority by remaining in the Westminster parliament without using that majority to annul the act of union.

It is not a case that Scotland should have to gain its independence, all it should be doing is asserting its independence and removing itself from an unequal union.

It is actually, as simple as that and the only person who is preventing that is Nicola Sturgeon. There is no doubt in my mind that she and the politicians who support her illogical policies are traitors to Scotland.

Scotland never lost its independence through the act of union. It is still independent.                       

A Nautical Nomad

Friday 26November 2021

So, here I am aboard the Britannia, after a horrendous week of trying to get various tests booked and completed together with a constant barrage of emails from P&O telling me that they can’t wait to welcome me on board, “but here is just a few more pieces of information” to make you feel even more uncomfortable, such as if you should contact Covid we may put you ashore on one of the islands.

Wow, really! Now some of these islands are not exactly up there in the top ten countries with a highly developed health care system, in fact some of them have raw sewage running down the street gully’s en-route to the nearest river where it flows untreated into the Caribbean Sea, quite often at a beach where tourist gaily frolic in the surf.


The last email with “a few last-minute details” was 16 pages long. So, anyway after quite a stressful week I made it through to the airport and settled in at the Premier Inn which is situated right next to the terminal building at the airport. Perfectly reasonable and clean accommodation and at £44 a very reasonable price for an airport hotel. Dropped my case in the room and walked across to the airport to check on where I had to go the next Morning to be once again tested before boarding the plane, to find that the covid testing center did not open until 7 AM and my information pack was telling me that I should be there by 5 AM, oops. This did not give me a high level of confidence as to what was to unfold the next day.

First time flown with TUI, once Thompsons good flight

However, back to the hotel for dinner and an early night and to be honest the next morning went like clockwork. The testing center was open at 5 and the testing procedure caried out very efficiently, followed by a seamless checking in process.

The flight was long but good, with reasonable in-flight meals. A bonus was that I had three seats to myself, so was able to stretch out and get some sleep, heaven. Next stop Barbados, where the efficiency was continued with a seamless transfer to the ship, involving disembarkation from the plane and straight on to coaches which were parked on the apron, with no need to go through the terminal buildings.

This is only the second time I have sailed with P&O. The first time I left with a not very high impression of them and one of the main reasons for tying them again was the price and the length of trip and of course the Caribbean. My reasons for the low opinion I gathered the first time, were mixed, the main one being the imposed Brittishness. It was things like every deck was named after a colony of the British Empire. There was always a “curry of the day” on the menu. The union Jack is emblazoned over the front of the ship. The food was very British and therfore generally bland with not a lot of choice.

Yup very British


One of the main things that kind of put me off was the discussions with fellow passengers. Now let me say here that I have no problem whatsoever in people expressing honestly held views, but the distinct impression I got was, that there was a lot of uninformed opinions going about looking for someone to attach themselves to and for some reason that generally was me, therfore there was a lot of re-education went on as to the viability of Scotland as an independent country.

Anyway, enough of that and I am here with an open mind as to any improvements in P&O who are, by the way, anything but a British company as they are owned by Carnival, an American company, as are Cunard, another “very British” Cruise line. The Britishness is a branding, which, to be honest seems to work.

So, after settling in, I made my way out into Bridgetown which is the capital town of Barbados. Barbados was a colony of Britain, and they became independent in 1966. It has taken them a considerable time to shake of the effects of being governed by another country, but they seem to be getting on their feet. I have been in Barbados several times over the last 20 years and during that time I have seen steady improvements. When they became independent, they, like other ex-colonies kept the Queen as their head of state, however they have now decided to become a republic and this I believe becomes official by the end of this year.

One thing I have noticed in the Caribbean and that is the difference between islands which have been ruled over by Britain and ones who have been part of other empires such as France and Holland. The French and Dutch islands are prosperous and have very good infrastructures, whereas the once owned British islands, are generally very poor and underdeveloped, the exceptions being islands like Bermuda and the Camen islands, which are tax havens.

A few bottles of Banks beer, local and very nice

So, after a wander through Bridgetown which is generally safe except an area of  a few streets ( which I couldn’t find) I settled for a bar on the way back to the ship where I partook of a few bottles of Banks beer which is a local brew and very nice too, before heading back to the ship by 10PM which is the curfew limit in Barbados.

Saturday was hot and I took advantage of the additional day in Bridgetown to further explore and re-acquaint myself with the town, stopping again at the same bar for some re-hydration before heading back to the ship , whereby ,on board I joined in a dance lesson followed by dinner and ended up in the disco. A good start to the holiday with the ship heading for Curacao in the Dutch Antilles.    

Ships Atrium

The World This Week From Mennies

Thursday 25 November 2021

The phenomena of Nicola Sturgeon

When Nicola Sturgeon’s tenure as First Minister is looked back on, it will be as a phenomenon ( an unexplained happening). Her popularity is certainly on the decline and rightly so, but how she arrived at such a level of popularity will be a mystery.


Her ascension started on the back of the bitter disappointment at the loss of the referendum and I can only surmise that at that point, her loyal following wilfully embedded into their psyche, an adoration state way above any logical or rational level.


From there on people would find it difficult to withdraw from that intoxicated state of mind, regardless of the disaster she was about to become in regard to both fulfilling her propose in life as the leader of the SNP and first minister of Scotland, a country governed on a mandate of gaining independence.


Not only has she presided over a shambles of an administration, reference covid handling and the seeding of retirement homes with infected patients, Fergusons shipbuilding shambles, Alex Salmond conspiracy, etc, etc, etc, and neglect of the cause of independence, but she has also strived to insert policies specifically designed to split any independence vote. Policies such as Named person legislation, Hate crime bill, Gender recognition bill and the introduction of what can only be termed subliminal Child grooming and attempted normalisation of unnatural and dangerous sexual activity, again in children.


Add to this, the attempted destruction of woman’s rights in connection with safe places being shared with men self-identifying as women, and you have a huge question mark over why it has taken so long for her popularity to drop.
One of the reasons of course could be the people she is being compared to, as in Scotland and indeed the UK, as far as politicians go there is not a high bar to reach. We have people like Boris Johnston who rambles on about Peppa Pig during speeches, Kier Starmer who is probably more of a Tory than most of the MP’s on the Tory benches.


I really do not believe history will be kind to Nicola Sturgeon and she deserves nothing less than an honest condemnation of her failures, which mount up by the day. If she is lucky she will get a mention of the baby box, an idea she borrowed from the Scandinavian countries.

A Nautical Nomad

Tuesday 23 November 2021

Ok, so a wee while since I did a Nautical Nomad blog, the last being on my travels around the coast of Croatia and Malta.

This cruise finds me in the Caribbean and being here made me think of another great explorer Christopher Columbus (tongue in cheek) as it was in this area where he first landed after leaving Spain in August 1492 and arriving in what is now the Bahamas, landing on an island he named San Salvadore, after a
trip of two months, before sailing through the Caribbean.

Now this is where I am now and the difference from Chris and me is that I knew where I was going. You see, Chris thought he was heading for Asia and in particular India and indeed although he completed four expeditions, he never really realised that the large land mass that kept getting in the way of his passage
to India was in fact the Americas.

One of the main things that Chris discovered was that he was not much of a navigator, when he sailed around Cuba, he thought he had reached China. He sailed around the Caribbean for several months looking for riches to take back to his sponsors in Spain, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

He landed on an island called Hispaniola, now called Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I have been to both places and the poverty is heartbreaking.

One of the things that marked Chris’s travels was the violence killing and torture that he brought to wherever he landed. He wrote himself in his diaries that the people were invariably peaceful and did not possess weapons. He changed that and after leaving a party of colonists to develop Hispaniola and
return to Spain, he returned some months later to find that all the colonists he had left been slaughtered by the peaceful inhabitants. He had obviously learned them something.

Now one of the big differences between Columbus’s travels and mine in the Caribbean is that I make a point of killing and torturing as few of the locals as possible, I also, as matter of principal take very few slaves back to Scotland with me.

At one point the news of Columbus’s excesses reached Spain and the king sent a governor to Hispaniola to investigate the reports of brutality and cruelties, this resulted in Chris being sent back to Spain in chains, only to be released shortly after and sent back again. It is estimated that the local tribe the Taino, was reduced from something in the region of 250,000 to several hundred
within a few years.

So, all in all Columbus was not exactly a pillar of good. He did however open up the south American continent to Spain, making it at the time the most wealthy country in the world.

So back to my travels and I have kind of digressed and ran out of time as I have a few islanders to pack into the hold of the ship before dinner in connection with a new venture I have embarked upon  related to Brexit. A few weeks ago, I was speaking to a farmer in Mennies and he was complaining vigorously that because of Brexit he was extremely short of workers. Ok, I thought following in Columbus footsteps I would take back a few workers’ to test the market as they are well used to working in the open and would amply stand up to the searing temperatures we experience in open fields of Scotland, so hopefully this trip
can pay itself.

Oh, and one more thing, when was the last time you heard the name Hispaniola? Well, wasn’t that the name of the ship that sailed to Treasure Island in the Robert Lewis Stevenson book “Treasure Island” I wonder if the treasure island Stevenson had in mind was indeed Haiti? It was certainly
Columbus’s treasure island.


	

The World This week from Mennies

Saturday 13 November 2021

Day to day stuff
COP 26 Climate conference and Nicola Sturgeon
The Ghost of JF Kennedy.
Boris, the dangerous clown.

Day to day stuff

Well another week in and a busy one at that, business-wise with ever-changing requirements in the automotive industry, it is a constant challenge to keep abreast of modern-day requirements.
The last few weeks have seen, the setup and commissioning of the new paint and body shop, the installation of a new 25 Ton vehicle hoist, Jamie’s accreditation to stage four ( highest level) of electric vehicle technology and also ADAS, which is vehicle radar systems connected with driver-assist systems and will eventually lead to driverless vehicles.
We also took delivery and installation of dealer-level Ford diagnostic equipment.
We continue our close association with Asda and Morrisons, super-markets in the servicing and maintenance of their home delivery fleets, where we cover most of Scotland.
So all in all a very busy couple of months. This accounts for the lack of blogs of late, so I apologise to my vast following for that omission, the whole three of you.

COP 26 Climate conference and Nicola Sturgeon

Some of you might not have noticed but we have had a huge conference in Glasgow over the last two weeks. A conference, attended by hundreds of delegates together with their entourages amounting to many thousands of people all brought here on numerous forms of transport, mainly aeroplanes which are among the worst contributors to global warming. Believe it or not, the conference was on, err, global warming, and to make matters worse, held in the middle of a pandemic, in a country where the new infections are totally out of hand and with a Scottish government who do not have a clue how to control it. So try if you may, to make sense of that.
As if all that was not bad enough, we had the unedifying sight of our glorious first minister who was in the huff because Boris the clown did not invite her to the conference, prancing about having selfies taken with people she deemed important in order to fill in her resume for the next job she applies for when she is finally found out as a fraud in the independence movement.

Nicola and a very important person, I am sure, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Alexandria
who?

The Ghost of JF Kennedy.

Once again the restless specter of JF Kenedy has arisen in the form of another documentary from Oliver Stone in a sequel to his box office hit in 1991, JFK. This one is called through a looking glass and lays out the possible involvement of the CIA in the assasination, presenting evidence that an assasination was planned in several alternative cities, again using people associated with the CIA.
The CIA have long been a government within a government and have been the cause of untold misery and death in the various theatres throughout the world in which they have been involved. Kenedy had sworn to cut them down to size and paid the price for it.

Boris, the dangerous clown.

Jonston, the village idiot is at it again, bumbling through the governess of what is slowly becomming a failed state. His latest venture was to change the law so that one if his Tory pals could be forgiven for misleading parliment regarding paid lobbying. Unfortunately he has found his bumbling has opened a can of worms, with second job Tories making hundreds of thousands of pounds in aternative ventures instead if looking after their constituents welfare. As usual , Jonston was not in parliment to hear the row and instead decided to visit a hospital somewhare. Surely there must be a village somewhere, looking for an idiot, that he can be safely retired to.

And now to the rest of the weekend and a pint in Mennies, with, No doubt, an involvement in some lively political discussion.
So to my friends the World over, have a good weekend and remember .
Every day is a new page in your book of life
You have a choice
You can simply read it
Or you can write it
Sainte

The World This Week From Mennies

Saturday 23 October 2021

I am getting tired of saying it

Yes indeed, I am getting very tired in saying it and that is “the SNP and Scottish government are not doing the job they were elected to do”. The person responsible is Nicola Sturgeon. She took over from Alex Salmond in 2014 after the last referendum and one if her first actions as leader of the SNP and Scottish government was to expunge all mention of independence.

Yes believe it or not that is exactly what she did. The reasoning behind it according to several politicians I know was to prove that Scotland could be governed well and then people would then turn towards independence.

I will say that again in a slightly different form and see what you think. “prove that Scotland can be governed well within the union and people will turn towards independence” Can you see just how stupid that statement is? That believe it or not was what they Sturgeon was trying to make us believe.

I have not had the inclination to do much blogging lately, for two reasons first one is that I have been insanely busy in the family business and the second reason is that I am simply fed up saying the same things day after day and year after year.

In fact I have been casting doubts on Nicola Sturgeons abilities and commitment almost ever since she was elected. This has led me to the inescapable conclusion that she is either mind numbingly stupid or, more likely has been working against independence ever since the first day she took office.

As an example of my persistent warnings I append a Facebook posting I did on 23 October 2015. Now please do not get me wrong. I am not trying in any way to suggest the Nicola Sturgeon actually does call a referendum, for two very good reasons. The first reason is that if she did then it would be only to deliberately scupper any chance we had and the result would almost certainly be another no.

The second reason is that a referendum is neither the best not the most effective way to gain independence and as I suggested in the appended blog from 6 years ago, a far better and mire direct method would be through a plebiscitary election.

Have a wee read of the Facebook piece I wrote in 2015 and with a straight face, tell me I was wrong .

Have a good weekend folks no matter where you be on this fragile planet of ours.

Slainte


23 October 2015
  · New York, NY, United States  · Shared with Public

Public

So we now have English votes for English Laws , passed in the Westminster Parliament. Now I am abroad at the moment and perhaps not as tuned in to what is going on as I would like, so I would like to be corrected if I am wrong, but I cannot find much outrage expressed by either the SNP or the Scottish government.

Now this has been on the cards since the day after the referendum and therefore the SNP and the Scottish Government have had plenty of time to do two things (1) Formulate a policy commensurate with the implications which follow from this decision of the Westminster Parliament and (2) have had time to properly investigate the constitutional position regarding the Act Of Union and depriving Scottish MP’s of their rights under this arrangement.

I have briefly looked at act Of Union, from a very basic layman point of view and on the surface, it would appear that there is an automatic provision for dissolution , in the event of either side being disfranchised by the removal of equal representation in the Parliament.

Now ,as I say , I am very much an amateur in this field but the Scottish government is not ( or shouldn’t be) so I and I am sure, many others would like to see what provision our Government have made for this eventuality and what conclusions have been arrived at.

Again I could be wrong but I have a certain unease at the seeming lack of outrage expressed by our representatives in the Scottish Government, the Westminster Parliament and the SNP.

I would also like to know the situation this presents regarding a future referendum or indeed what I and others have been advocating for a considerable time with regards to a manifesto of independence being presented to the Scottish people next May by all the independence minded parties at the Scottish Parliamentary Elections to be held next May. In the event of all the independence parties collectively receiving a majority then I cannot see this being seen as other than a democratic expression of the will of the people.

What ever the case , it is obvious that the British Parliamentary system is now broken beyond repair and independence is now more inevitable than ever, all it needs is a willingness of the people who have been given our trust.

The World This Week From Mennies

Saturday 9 October 2021

A leader way past her selling date

I write this blog tonight as a sign of sheer frustration at the way Nicola Sturgeon has misled the independence movement over the last 7 years .

Relatively recently, many of what are termed the indy bloggers have been saying much the same as myself and thrown grave doubts on the commitment and abilities of Nicola Sturgeon to fulfill her remit as the leader of the party of independence.
I append a blog I wrote on the 4th May 2016, which was a letter I wrote to Nicola Sturgeon, and this was not the first time I had thrown doubt on her commitment and abilities, no, I had had grave misgivings since 2015 not long after Nicola was crowned Queen of the SNP and de-facto leader of the independence movement.

You might note that the theme is very similar to the many accusations that are being made today on the veracity of Nicola Sturgeons tenure as leader, as even then she was “at it” dangling carrots before an election.

The event described in the blog was a supposedly public meeting, held in a meeting room of the Queens hotel addressed by Nicola Sturgeon, at which I walked out, coincidently , the same room that I had the confrontation with Jeremy Corbyn when he came to Dundee to tell us that he was not to be authorizing any section 30 derogation of the Scotland act to “allow” a referendum on independence to take place.

My point is this. How many carrots does it take before people wake up to the fact that independence will never be achieved with Nicola Sturgeon at the head of the SNP and Scottish government. Just yesterday she was laying the ground for yet another carrot in the run up to next years local authority elections.
The faithful really need to wake up, remember this was 2016

https://wordpress.com/post/bobsblog.scot/868

A Nautical Nomad

Tuesday 21 September 2021

I append below a posting I did in 2017 as a result of sheer boredom as I waited to see just how the captain would avoid the Hurricane we had been heading into and trying to avoid for several days. Then like now was very near to the anniversary of the attacks on the twin towers in 9/11. The incident I related, happened only a few weeks after 9.11.

12 September 2017

Day 13 of my trip and another sea day as we head on an ever-changing course towards New York. The hurricane has been downgraded to a tropical storm and we are about to enter its actual area of effect. The Captain eventually went back to the original plan of sailing in a southerly direction, thereby skirting the lower edge and we are now on a North-West heading. We should reach New York around 8 Am on Friday and I will be glad to get ashore as it feels as though we have been at sea for ever.

Ok, so as there has been not a lot happening on the ship, I will recount an interesting travel incident going back to 2001 which has relevance to an anniversary just passed, 9/11.Now as you will no doubt remember, September 11, 2001 was when the terrorist attack took place on the twin towers in New York when two planes flew into two of the three buildings which collapsed.

A few weeks after this event I travelled to new York to see a friend, and I remember going to the check in desk at Edinburgh Airport and the young lady asking if I had a seating preference as there was plenty of room on the flight (not surprising after recent events), I said to her “well, if there are any Arabs on the flight I want to sit right behind them,” She gave me one of these reapproving looks and a wry smile.

From that day on I have always taken an aisle seat. So, after a pleasant few days in New York I found myself in Newark Airport waiting for my flight to return to Scotland via Amsterdam, as I had booked through KLM. There was a delay in boarding, which is not that unusual, but once boarded there was further delay and a lack of information as to the cause of the delay.

After about an hour the Captain announced that there would be a further delay and the cause was that during the previous flight a turbine fin had become detached from one of the jet engines and they would have it replaced and we would get on our way.

Now I am anything but an engineer but I do now the basics of how a jet engine works, to the extent that one of the functions of the turbine fins is to cool the engine, and this happens by drawing cold air through the engine. Therefore, if a fin had become detached then it had probably went straight through the engine cavity, quite possibly causing other damage, making the repair something other than a quick fix and certainly not a repair that should be completed and then tested in the air with over three hundred people on board.

I called over, a flight attendant and asked to speak to her superior as I was not happy with what I had just heard. She of course tried to reassure me but under pressure agreed to get the chief steward. Eventually, he arrived and in a very squeaky voice, enquired as to what the problem was. I told him that I was off the opinion that we should be allowed to disembark whilst this repair was carried out and the plane properly tested before allowing passengers to re-board. He was of course insistent that there was no problem. I insisted on speaking to someone in a managerial position as I was not happy with the situation.

Eventually after much debate he went off to consult someone else from Northwest airlines which was the partner airline to KLM, whose plane we were on. By this time, we had been on the plane for over two hours and people were becoming very annoyed and many of them were making their dissatisfaction known to the staff. After some time, the Stewart returned to say that someone from Northwest would speak to me but it would take some time for him to get there. So, we waited and waited.

After about another hour they decided to serve a meal. I could not believe my eyes when I saw that they provided us with stainless steel cutlery. Yes, only a few weeks after 9/11 here was an airline handing out knifes on an airplane, a few miles from where it had all happened. They were in effect handing out “do it yourself hi-jacker kits” The attackers at 9/11 had used craft knifes to kill the crew.

I again called for the chief Stewart and enquired as to whether this was part of some weird reality television show and insisted that he expedite the appearance of the airline representative. Meanwhile I took photos of the staff handing out the “do it yourself hi-jacker kits” being careful to remove the photo card in the camera and replace it with another one.

Eventually, and after we had been on the plane for about 4 hours the Stewart came along and told me to come to the front of the plane where someone would talk to me. I had of course appraised some of the people near where I was sitting of the situation and there was a lot of concern at how things were being handed.

My concern was that there was the possibility that I might have ended up spending more time in New York than I had planned. So I was taken to the front of the plane along the gangway where there was a guy who introduced himself as the New York manager of Northwest Airlines who looked rather annoyed.

Quite brusquely he said “I believe you have a problem” “ I believe it is you who have the problem , in fact you seem to have two problem’s” I said “ firstly you are carrying out fairly major repairs on a plane filled with passengers with the intention of testing it in mid-air with the passengers on it and secondly you have just issued everyone on the plane with do it yourself hi-jacker kits, so who has the problem”?

There followed a rather ill-tempered exchange with both of us using some pretty straight forward language and him demanding that I hand over the photos I took of the staff handing out the offending articles. I refused.

I explained that he should allow the people to disembark and wait in comfort while the repair was carried out and then test run the engines before allowing the people back on again, meanwhile taking the opportunity to get rid of the planes stock of weapons which they had been freely handing out.

At one point he said “ well ,if you are not happy, you can leave the flight but you will be responsible for making your own arrangements to get back to the UK “ my response was, “I have a better idea , why don’t you go and F**k yourself because the only way I am leaving this plane is with everyone else while you get it properly repaired and tested”

At that point I was pretty sure that he would have me arrested to get rid of the problem but just at that point there was a commotion behind us at the doorway to the plane and the chief Stewart whose squeaky voice has gone up a few octaves seemed to be trying to stave off a lynching, which he seemed to be object of.

A number of people had come down to the front of the plane to find out what was happening and I discovered later that what had precipitated it was an answer to a query by one of them as to where I was, the attendant commenting that she thought I wouldn’t be coming back.

So, a look of complete panic came over the managers face when he saw that things were not quite going to plan and in fact the good old American Cavalry had arrived. It did not help when I looked at him and with as straight a face as I could, said, “ok your move”

He asked if I would get them to go back to their seats whilst he considered the situation and would make an announcement very soon. I went back in to the plane got them to settle down and after about 10 minutes the pilot announced that they would disembark whilst they completed the repair on the engine whereupon they would take the plane away for testing and only when they were absolutely sure everything was ok would they re-board the plane.

We disembarked and went into the departure lounge. We could look out on the plane where it became apparent why they did not want us to see what was happening because they had a scaffold up to and surrounding the engine and there was a squad of men busily working inside the engine.

After the repair was completed they took the plane away and presumably ran up the engines to test them before allowing us to re-board. On the flight, we had plastic cutlery with our meal. As you can see, a rather bored Captain Pugwash, heading for the Big Apple.

And a rather bored Captain Pugwash bobbing up and down near the entrance to the harbor at Victoria on Gozo Malta. Packing mostly done and looking forward to a 4 o’clock rise tomorrow to be transported to the Airport on mainland Malta and a long day ahead.

It has been a good trip although restricted somewhat by necessary precautions. Viking cruises, would I do another one ? Yes I think I would, and tomorrow I am heading back to the best wee country on the planet

Bob

A Nautical Nomad

Friday 17 September 2021

Croatia

After leaving Malta we sailed in a north easterly direction through the Mediterranean, into the Ionian Sea, turning north and into the Adriatic sea, heading for Dubrovnik in Croatia. We had two nights and a day at sea, docking in Dubrovnik in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

One of the pools and a great refuge from the heat

There is an interesting selection of things to do on the ship on sea days, from deck games to table top computerized games such as chess, drafts and of course a excellent program of lectures. On the larger cruise ships lecture programs are generally confined to longer trips such as transatlantic crossings. These voyages are generally very good value for money as the cruise lines have to reposition according to seasonality, such as Summer in the Med and winter in the Caribbean. Mind you, crossing the Atlantic in say November or March does have its challenges as the weather can be changeable.

Coincidently, a memory came up on my Facebook today from 2017 concerning a transatlantic I did with Princess . We were to dock in Boston and then Newport, before finally landing in New York. Unfortunately a hurricane by the name of Jose had other ideas and the captain announced that we would have to divert south to attempt to skirt the edge of the hurricane . Jose of course had a mind of its own and decided to, itself change course, so over the next few days we changed course several times in an effort to miss the worst of the storm. This meant that we had to miss out Boston and Newport and we had a pretty rough few days into the bargain. We actually arrived in New York a day early at the end of an exciting trip.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

So, after a very calm sail through the Med, Ionian Sea and the Adriatic we arrived in Dubrovnik, Croatia , Now Croatia in general is a very beautiful country and in particular the cities on the Dalmatian coast are spectacular. However within recent history Croatia was involved in a viscous war in what is still called the Homeland wars or in particular, and as far as it affected Croatia, the war of Serbian aggression or more commonly the war of Croatian independence, because that is exactly what it was.

The Croatian Navy’s first “battleship”

I wont bore you by trying to go into detail of this and the other wars in the area at that time, but suffice it to say that as far as Croatia was concerned the war lasted ( all be it sometimes sporadically ) from 1991 to 1995 and basically it concerned the countries within the Yugoslavian federation and as far as it concerned Croatia it was between them and Serbia. There was if course a large Serbian population in Croatia who did not abide by the referendum which was held to ascertain the will of the people, in fact the Serbs in the main, boycotted the referendum.

However, the referendum was held and it returned a 95% majority for indepoendence. The war started as a civil war between the two factions Croats and Serbs with Serbia heavily supporting the Croatian Serbs. Croatia had no actual Army at this point and the early fighting fell to the police. The photo above is of their first “battle ship,” so you can imagine what sort of navy they had.

Eventually, they did managed to get an army together and they prevailed over Serbia, but it was a long and bloody war with around 15,000 Croatian armed forces losses and 6,000 civilians. Serb forces withdrew from Croatia in 1992 but the war spilled over into Bosnia with the Croats supporting the Bosnians against the Serbs. Eventually the war ended in 1995.

Coming into the old town of Dubrovnik

Just a thought here . The Croatian situation in 1991 just before the war has parallels here in Scotland. They had a large independence movement who wanted independence from a union, Yugoslavia. They had a large Serb population. The Serbs had a disproportionate hand in the governance of the country and the Serbs had more or less control of the armed forces. Croatia had more or less all of the coastal areas of the Yugoslav federation therefore controlling a main source of income through the ports.
Could it happen in Scotland?

One of the many churches in Dubrovnik

The old town of Dubrovnik takes your breath away . History exudes from the sandstone ramparts to the beautiful churches. Most of the fortifications date from the 16th century and it was here in Dubrovnik that much of the series Game of Thrones was filmed.
It was hot as I wandered through the smooth polished sandstone streets , thankfully traffic free. I found a café to sit and watch the world go by. Prices in Croatia are in the region of half that in the UK.
Dubrovnik was one of the towns laid siege to during the homeland wars and the old town was hit by over 600 artillery rounds, now all carefully repaired.

16th century ramparts looking out to the Adriatic sea

After a peaceful and interesting walk around the old city of Dubrovnik I headed back to the shuttle bus and back to the ship and a rather quieter evening on the Viking Venus than I perhaps would have had on some of the larger ships.

Viking caters more to the quieter more sophisticated cruiser with all activities and bars closing by midnight, whereas on most of the other ships I have been on, midnight would have been about the time to visit the disco. Unfortunately because of Covid restrictions there is no dancing on the ship, which I miss.

As the sun started to set we slipped out of the harbour into the Adriatic sea and headed north up the Dalmatian coast towards Split.

A Nautical Nomad

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Well here I am on my second cruise since the Covid restrictions were eased . The first one which was in July was a pretty restricted one along the coast of the UK with no way to get off the ship unless you were on a ships excursion and even then the guests were pretty much herded together . I decided not to go on any of the excursions, therefore the cruise was pretty much like being incarcerated on a luxury prison ship.

So , here I am bobbing up and down in the Mediterranean heading for Croatia where the bulk of the shore visits are to take place, on the good ship Venus of the Viking line.

My latest trip started on Sunday with an extremely early rise of 2 am to catch the airport bus outside Mal Maison Hôtel in Union Street Dundee.

Pickup spot on 03.00 and a one hour 10 minute journey to Edinburgh Airport. Now I had already checked in on line with British Airways for the first leg of the flights to Malta where the cruise was to leave from, but couldn’t check in on line for the next leg, so assumed I would be able to do this in Edinburgh Airport, Unfortunately, this was not to be, as the check in for the next flight was not open yet in Heathrow. This created a potential problem as I had to change terminals in Heathrow and there was not a huge amount of time between flights.

Ok. so arrived in Heathrow a little early, so far so good, and changed terminals without a great deal of fuss meanwhile the clock was ticking to my next flight. Once in terminal 2, I found a desk with ( among others ) Air Malta, problem was that there was quite a queue , so I fell in line and after half an hour eventually got to the desk, only to be told that I was at the wrong desk. I politely pointed out that the sign above the guys head was stating quite clearly that this was the desk for Air Malta. He was very dismissive and said that I would have to check in at the gate.
Problem was that he didn’t know what gate it was to be and the gate number had not came up on the screen and it was stating that the gate number would be announced just 35 minutes before the flight time. Now with Covid regulations meaning that there was a plethora of forms to be carried and the possibility of one if these forms being filled out wrongly, this did not give ne a good feeling and once I told this guy what I really thought of his attitude I set of finding the routs to all the gates, some if which could take 15 minutes to get to.

In the event the gate was announced early and I managed to get there in time and boarded the plane in good time.

At last, a seat on the plane and on my way

An uneventful flight and an on-time landing in Malta. I then took one and a half hours to get through the airport’s procedure including customs and passport control together with Covid checks on paperwork. At this time I would like to thank the mindless Brexiteers for the unnecessary time wasted in the non EU line of people.

From exiting the airport the procedure was flawless in the hands of Viking staff and transport to the ship and again, boarding was smooth and efficient.

Beautiful cabin

Now, at this point I should explain that Viking is not a cruise line I would normally choose and indeed this is the first time I have cruised with them, However Moira ( my travel agent) was able to obtain an exceptionably good rate for this cruise and an excellent veranda cabin for around about a third of the normal price for a single occupancy cabin.

A view of Valletta Harbor from the ship

Once settled in, I headed into the beautiful town of Valletta with its impressive fortified structures built directly off the cliff faces surrounding the harbor. The colonial past of Malta very prevalent in the grand buildings that are generally built by colonials powers, in this case Britain, in an attempt to overawe the local populace and convince them of the benefice of their colonial masters. The benefice of course generating in the opposite direction in reality, as all of these grand buildings together with the administration that went with them was financed through the rape of the countries’ assets by the colonial power.

Another of the “gifts” to Malta from Britain

Malta has long been a crossroads of Mediterranean trade and culture, shaped by countess civilizations . The Harbor at Valletta was built by the Knights of St John who defended the island against the ottoman empire in the 16th century.

In more recent history the island was laid siege to by the Axis powers in the second world war, and I had a longish visit to the underground headquarters of the joint services group from where they planned the response to the forces laying siege to the island .

A beer to counter the heat

So after a longish walk a stop for a beer before heading back to the ship and a nice meal in the World Cafe which is ,under normal circumstances the buffet but because if Covid restrictions it is served up to your choice . An excellent band ended the night but unfortunately and again because of Covid precautions, no dancing.

A nice capachino and watching the world go by

Sunday, and again a walk into Valletta to explore the harbor area and the narrow but in the main, straight streets of the town itself and a chance to indulge in what I have been missing the most ,during the pandemic, sitting at a street cafe, enjoying a capachino and watching the world go by, bliss. Then back to the ship for dinner which was exceptional.

Excellent menu

I had the Oriental style Scallops with Lobster, delicious. Then watched as the ship slipped out of the harbor and set a course for Dubrovnik.

Valletta by night

The evening ended with some good music from the band in the Torshavn lounge , thinking of a small independent island at peace with itself, Goodnight Malta, I will be back