A Nautical Nomad

Days one to three 15 Sept 2019

So, off again on another wee trip, this time headed to New York with a two day stay here and shortly heading to the pier to board the Norwegian Escape, aptly named as for a wee while I will be escaping the madness that is Brexit back hone. An idiocy that Scotland did not vote for but is being sucked into because of the UK Union.

Ok so enough of Brexit as that is exactly what I am temporarily escaping from. So I started my trip just after four in the Morning with a two mile brisk walk to pick up the bus from the city center to take me to Edinburgh airport. A great new service run by National express and the best part of it was that I used my Sottish government travel card, meaning that all it cost me was a one pound booking fee.

Arriving timeously at the airport and through security without a hitch, I checked into one of the Airport lounges for a relaxing wait and some breakfast. Now on this trip I had decided to travel light and at the same time save some money . I booked with United at an incredible £320 return. New York and back. But hold luggage was extra at $160 for the two flights, so I decided to see what I could take in a carry on and together with a small back pack and I think I have managed it. I will know better when I unpack and realize what I have left out. The advantages of this ( apart from the cost saving) is that I am always in charge of all of my luggage, I don’t have to wait at the luggage carousel and I go straight from immigration to customs and on to ground transport.

Boarded at 8.45 ( early) and believe it or not the flight took off early too. I have managed to persuade the lady at the check in desk to allocate an isle seat as, because of the economy fare I did not get a choice and had been allocated a middle seat. Unfortunately there was two very large people sitting beside me and the over-spill left me kind of leaning into the isle which meant that every time the trolley came past it usually almost took my arm off, or indeed, a couple of times, my head, when I had dozed off.

On my way

Because of the early departure and a cooperative tail wind for most of the way we landed early at Newark airport. Not much of a wait at immigration although could have been quicker if the attendant on the aircraft had realized that I did indeed need an immigration form to pre fill in, She seemed to think it was all done electronically now. I think we are some time off from the day when immigration can read your mind electronically. This meant that I had to hurriedly make out one of the forms whilst waiting to go through immigration. Once upon a time there was also a form which basically asked you if you were ever involved in any acts of terrorism. I think they stopped issuing that form when they realized that not many people were answering that question in the affirmative for some obscure reason.

So through immigration and through customs and on to ground transportation where I realized I had made a big mistake. I had booked super shuttle which is a shared ride operation , basically a minibus service which does various drops around Manhattan before getting you to your hotel. Now I had cleared customs about 12.30 and at 15.00 I was still somewhere in Manhattan still in the shuttle when I told the driver to stop around 48 street and decided to walk South to my hotel which was in 32 street plus a few Avenues to the west. What I should have done was take the bus which goes from the airport to Pen station which it directly across from my hotel, what a Dick.

First view of Manhattan
Manhattan in sight
Holland Tunnel

After an energetic walk , zigzagging through Avenues and streets I arrived at my hotel in time to join a long line waiting to check in, but at least it was good to be in an airconditioned place as apposed to the very warm streets of new York.

Foyer of the Pennsylvania Hotel in a quieter time as I write this blog

Checked in and went to the room to find it was a complete tip, stained carpets and Curtains( for some reason) paintwork dirty , bathroom a complete mess. Tried to contact desk but impossible to get through , No doubt because every one was doing the same as me. Went down to the desk and went right to the front of the line and told the receptionist that I was not happy and if I couldn’t get another room I was going to check into the nearest hotel and send them in the bill for it. The girl went and spoke to the manager, returning to announce that I was to be given a room on the club floor. Great I thought and moved my luggage to the new room. A definite improvement ( which wouldn’t be difficult) but I am not sure what kind of club they had in mind when naming this floor the club floor but certainly not the normal hotel “club Floor” I can only assume it was a club for plumbing enthusiasts as the wash hand basin was precariously hanging off the wall and the tap had a handle missing which made things very difficult getting water out of it. Ok ,I suppose I have slept in worse places, although the last time I slept in a ditch, the Government were paying me to do so.

So out into the only place on the planet that could be new York, the city that never sleeps ( probably because all the hotels in the city are as bad as the one I was staying in). Only kidding , I have been in a number of hotels here and in the main they are all very good. Everything anyone can want is here and at any time of the day and night.

Heading for times Square
Empire State Building, day
Empire State Building at night
There is only one times Square
All the super heroes in one place
All the non Super heroes in one place

So into the night in New York and a meet up for dinner with a few people I have known for some time who are to be on this cruise followed by a retreat to an Irish Pub which at one time was a Scottish pup by the name of The St Andrews Lounge and now called O’Brian’s for the obligatory few pints of Guinness, before heading back to the hotel after a long day.

Saturday and was up with the lark and headed along to Herald Square next to the famous store Macy’s. There is tables and free Wi FI in the Square and a nice place to watch the World go by. Caught up on social media and headed north through New York ending up at an oasis in the midst of the madness that is new York, Bryant Park , again with free Wi Fy and great views of the surrounding skyline and the central libraries. Not bad coffee to. Walked up through New York as far as around 74th street and Central park, passing Trump Towers on the way, asked if Trump was at home but unfortunately he was heavily engaged in matters of state on the golf course, left a message that I was in New York so he will no doubt get in touch later.

Dinner at an Irish Pub off Times Square then an attempt to get into the Copa Cabana, which is a dance club only to be informed that it was a private function last night, so headed back to the hotel, stopping on the way to purchase an extremely large ice cream cone, bliss, Good Night New York.

Advertisements

I wish I didn’t have to say, I told you so,so many Times

I apend below a piece I wrote in September 2015, and yes I did tell you so . I warned of SNP complacency and their fear of promoting independence. You will see it covers two main events the run up to the war in Syria ( which came about) and the bunker mentality of the SNP ( which still exists), Now we find ourselves on the cusp of yet another exceptional event as the Tory government implode and resort to the most devious tactics ever employed in the parliament of the UK. We will know on Monday if their latest attempt to force a general election before the 31 October will be successful. This simply for the propose of winding down the clock to Brexit day so that we will leave without a deal. This ,hopefully has been forestalled by the opposition parties who managed to bring in legislation to take away the option of a no deal Brexit but this of course does not hold a future Government to the same strictures and could be overturned by a majority government.

We are on the verge of a general election , the prime oportunity for the SNP to go for it on an independence ticket and use the result to ascertain the peoples will in relation to independence. Surely after all the promises , the marching of the troops to the top of the hill and down again, the constant affirmation that we have a triple lock mandate for a referendum. Surely Nicola Sturgeon will grasp this god given opportunity to move towards independence.

I fear not, as from the utterings that have been coming from her she seemes to still be banging on about ” the gold standard” a section 30 order, which temporarily sets aside schedule 5 of the Scotland act. Now any one listening to her speaking about this “gold standard” method of legitimizing a referendum might just think that this is standard practice on a countries road to independence, but in fact it is nothing of the sort because if by some chance we were to achieve independence by this manner ,we would be the only country on the planet ever to have done so. No, all of the rest of the countries who have achieved their independence have either had to fight for it or they have simply ascertained the will of the people and declared independence. This ” gold standard” is a figment of Nicolas overactive imagination.

It is now time for, either the SNP to do their job ( which is gain independence) and stop trying to save the UK, which is what they have been trying to do for the last three years since the Brexit referendum or for a new party to be formed which will concentrate on independence.

In this respect, two weeks ago I declared my intention to stand as an independent, independence candidate in a possible forthcoming General election. I would go a step further and encourage Stuart Campbell of Wings over Scotland ( who has suggested fielding candidate in the next Scottish elections for list seats only) to start his new party now and field candidates in this forthcoming General election if the SNP will not use it as a mandate for independence. It is way past the ridiculous stage when the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon continually go cap in hand to successive incompetent Tory governments to ASK permission to hold a referendum. She is demeaning the Scottish people and should be ashamed of herself.

I have had it said ( not by too many people) that if I stood in this election I could split the vote. My answer is this. No, because there would be two completely different issues. A vote for the SNP would be a vote to remain in the UK for an indeterminate time, whereas a vote for me would be a vote to leave the UK at the very first opportunity which, if Nicola Sturgeon was to get her act together could be within the next couple of Months.

The time for prevarication is past ,it is time for action now. We are on our road to independence Nicola, if you don’t like it, then leave and let someone else take over.

Bob Costello‎ toYES BUS… SCOTLAND’S DRAGON FOR INDY 6 September 2015 at 16:13 · Dundee

THE ROAD

The drums of war are a beating once again and this time the perpetrators of another incursion into the affairs of the Middle East, the Tories , have an outright majority in parliament, so buckle up your kit Lads and Lasses because you could very well be on your way to Syria.

Yet again we seem to be on the brink of another disastrous incursion in the affairs of another nation . A nation which by Middle East standards was being run reasonable well until we decided to encourage an uprising for the purpose of regime change , ostensibly because it was being run by a dictator , similar to other countries in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman etc .
So why you might ask are we not attempting regime change in these other countries? Well simply because we are the best of buddies with these countries so we turn a blind eye to the governance of these dictatorships.
So why are we not so happy with Assad of Syria? Well it’s complicated but to be truthful, we don’t really have much of a problem with him but our best buddies the Israelis do, and that is alł to do with the Golan heights which is where Syria borders on Israel and has been occupied by Israel since the Six day war in 1967. Now the complication there is believe it or not , Oil. Yes there is oil in the Golan heights and Israel has started drilling for it , an action which is against all international accords which relate to occupied territories.
Now if we could just get rid of Assad and install a nice friendly and compliant government ,then I am sure they could come to some accommodation with Israel to annex the Golan heights to Israel, this time legally because it has been done before ,in around 1983 if my memory serves me well.

So here we go again , the West doing Israel’s dirty work for them. Now can anyone hazard a guess why we have a terrorist problem? Yes you are right ” Israel”

So let’s get back to this country and when I say ” this country” I mean Scotland. Now you might have noticed that we have at present a wee independence situation here , in as much as it would appear the majority of Scots would like to see this country independent , according to the Ipsos Mori poll taken the week before last. Now it is only one poll but it forms a pattern since the referendum. In fact it follows a pattern for over two years as when the last referendum was announced polling was standing at around 25% ,over the referendum campaign it rose to a high to 51% then dropped back to 45% at the actual referendum ( if the polling figures were accurate) since the referendum they have steadily risen and now stand at 54% for independence. Now this may or may not be a blimp but the direction has at least been all in the one direction and that is towards independence .

Ok so what relevance has all this to do with what’s going on in the Middle East ? Well quite a lot actually ,because Nicola Sturgeon who is the leader of the SNP has on several occasions alluded to the scenario of ” an exceptional event” triggering another referendum. Such an exceptional event could in fact be about to happen and that could be the Tory Government taking us to war again and this is going to be the granddaddy of them all because we are going to have a hell of a job choosing the enemy. We could choose Assad because he owns the Golan Hight’s which have all that lovely oil that Israel wants or we could choose ISIS or Al quida who are sworn enemies of both us and Assad , because we put them up to it in the first place and us, because of our support for Israel. Complicated? Yes very and that is why there will not be a good outcome , unless you think that another half a million refugees is a good thing.

Now getting back to independence, yes we might actually be on the brink of ” an exceptional event” and with the polls going in our favour you might think that hey, we are on our way. But you would be wrong and the reason for this is that we are not ready for a snap referendum. Why? You might ask is that. Well during the last referendum we made several big mistakes , mistakes such as not explaining properly that there would be no adverse effect on pensions in the event of independence. also there was huge concern regarding monetary union and the No campaign latched on to this and because of certain people’s stubbornness it was thought that we did not have a plan B.

A couple of days after the referendum and realising that although we had just lost a battle ,we had not lost the war .I approached the SNP and asked the question, ” OK what’s the plan”. This question was met by ” the plan”? There WAS no plan and a year later these questions ,pensions and monetary union have not been answered , and that is way we are not prepared for a referendum.

Wake up SNP for goodness sake and get us back on the road to independence .

We through the Yes Bus for independence ,campaigned hard throughout the referendum campaign ( as did all other grass roots campaigns and SNP activists) and then we supported Chris Law in his selection to stand for Dundee West. We then campaigned for Chris to be sent down to Westminster .
A few days before he went down there I spoke to him in Menies over a pint I warned him against getting too comfortable in Westminster because he might be back sooner than he thought. I expressed my concern that the SNP might wander off the road to independence.I gave him a quote from William Wallace spoken before the battle of Falkirk , I said ” we have brought you to the ring , now dance best you can” ( he said he might use it in his Maiden speech) .
I told him that the Yes bus team has sweated blood for the cause of independence and that I had had enough, and was retiring from the ring. But there would be one exception and that was if I thought that perhaps the party had in some way veered of the well trodden track of independence and their commitment had in some way wained then we would be back and the big blue bus would be once again on our City Square and this time it would be there to get them back on the track.

Well this has come to pass and we will be there in our City Square on October the 4th and we will be there to call the SNP to account . We the people want a road map to independence and we expect the SNP to provide one. We would like our politicians to speak to the people in Dundee on the 4th October to tell us of the road map to independence. That road map doesn’t have to have a date but it has to have the preparation attached to it and the SNP must stop being terrified of the word independence and terrified of the press.

And one more thing , I personally am fed up of having to say I told you so.

We are still on the road to independence
This is our unfinished journey.
Bob

A Nautical Nomad

A memory of a trip I did one year ago when I was persuaded to once more get out on the road to take a tour to the outer Hebrides with a group of Swedish people. This was day five of the trip

Bob Costello

27 August 2018 ·

Trip to the Hebrides day 5.
Well second last day and last full day on the islands .
Day started at 7.30 loading luggage then taking the guys from
Loch Boisdale Hotel to the Askernish Golf course then back again for some breakfast then load up the ladies luggage and on the road to Eriskay, a trip of about half an hour.

Early Morning View from Lochboisdale hotel


Having told them about the “Whisky Galore” incident where the ship Politician, ran aground in the shallows off the island of Eriskay with a cargo of Whisky which was subsequently claimed by the locals, they were interested to see the pub of the same name built in the 1980,s.
We headed there only to find that it was shut and did not open till 11 o’clock. The Outer Hebrides are fantastic islands but they do themselves no favours with their crazy opening hours, or to be more exact, their closed hours.

The Ladies on the beach on Erisky, Unfortunately they decided to keep their clothes on today

Last night after dinner ( which took far too long) I had my, now costomery, debate with the owner of the Lochboisdale hotel, on independence. These debates generally range into the night with copious amounts of beer and wine being consumed in the process and the rest of the bar customers becoming alarmed at times. Last night I had to be careful with the beer as I was driving today, but I am beginning to see chinks in his Unionist armour. His piece de resistance last night was.” Ah but you see I am actually for independence, but I would like to see a border drawn along the highland line, which would give the highlands and the islands, the oil” ” it wouldn’t work” I quickly retorted. “Why” he said ” because you would want to close the rigs on a sunday” I said. Game set and match. We always part the best of friends, agreeing to take up the debate on my next visit.

I digress, so after our visit to the closed, Politician and realising that a closed Politician Pub is about as useful as our real Politicians, I took the ladies a walk along the beach under strict condition that they were not to tear off their clothes and throw themselves into the sea as they did the other day on Lewis. They wandered off along the beach whilst I sat and pondered the meaning of life and the mysteries of the universe. Coming out of my trance I realised that they had disappeared from view around a headland and realising that we had to return to Askernish to collect the men and get to the ferry by one o’clock, I set off after them. When I reached the headland, they were nowhere to be seen. OOps lost four clients. How was I going to explain this to their husbands? My first thought was that they had indeed decided to go for a swim after all and been swept out to sea or been eaten by a sea monster. I headed back to the bus intending driving further along the road that ran parallel with the shore and there they were, waiting at the bus. Hmm , they had decided not to walk back along the beach to where I was waiting for them, in the full realisation that my mind reading abilities would kick in and I would of course deduce that they had taken another rout back, women!!

So back to Askernish where I locked the Women in the bus whilst I went to collect the men and set off to the ferry, getting there in plenty of time where, to kill time I engaged two Jehovah’s Witnesses ( who had set up a stall at the slipway) in a debate about religion in a blatant attempt to convert them to Atheism., I think it was a draw, as they did not convince me of the advantages of their way of life and when I left them, they still had the stall and were handing out leaflets.

Ferry from Erisky to Barra
Leaving Erisky
The group on the ferry to Barra

Really nice trip over to Barra on the ferry in brilliant Sunshine, with the cocelshell beach used as a landing runway for the airport coming into sight from about half way over. After docking we headed straight for the Airport for some lunch and to watch the plane landing , perfect timing.

Plane from Glasgow just landed Barra Airport
Barra Airport ,not quite as large as Heathrow

A nice lunch at the Airport Cafe and then a walk over the Machre and onto the beach on the west side of the island ( see photos below). Sten , (the group leader) went in for a swim but was pretty hyperthermic when he crawled out of the water., I had a paddle. The Women ,unfortunately did not take their clothes off to have a swim. So after we managed to get some life into Sten and get his circulation going again the group went for a long walk along the beach and I fell asleep in the sun.

Sten in an advanced stage of Hypothermia
Me relaxing on the beach on Barra

Back in the bus and a drive down the west side of the island ,stopping at the 9 hole golf course for a wee look. Must be the only golf course in the World to have an honesty box for the £10 fee for as many rounds as you like.

Then on to the Craigard Hotel which sits above Castlebay overlooking Kismul Castle in the bay. Looking forward to dinner tonight as the seafood on Barra is second to none.
Have a good monday evening folks


Slainte