Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Golf balls in Greenville

January 28th, 2012

Getting things off to a tee, Ken spots a large golf ball. Wondering where the club is. And who might be wielding it… In Greenville, Florida

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Novelties

January 27th, 2012

With just a few days left to reach Florida’s Atlantic coast, Ken’s starting to give a little thought to a few small gifts for close family and friends. On the outskirts of Tallahassee, stumbling on a shop that appears to have potential…

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Neighbourhood Watch

January 13th, 2012

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Neighbourhood Watch. In Redneck country…

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Austra-nomics

January 12th, 2012

Austra-nomics (n); Branch of "Down Under" economics that defies logical analysis. Gives rise to the expression austronomical (coloq) to describe something especially expensive. See also Greed and Rip-off (coloq).

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Lovely stack

January 12th, 2012

"Lovely stack. Can’t wait to drizzle maple syrup over them" I said. The humour was lost. Fortunately. I’d stopped a small cafe and grocery store in the village of Richards. Established 2009. Meant just to enjoy a coffee indoors but quickly succumbed to the notion of a few pancakes. Side of bacon. Despite my tardy efforts at wit with my server, they were the nicest I’d ever tasted. Even if they took quite a while to come. Leaving me thinking I’d been forgotten.

Thoughts drifting back to Alaska. Small roadhouse I’d stopped in for breakfast after a night’s wild camping over the border in British Columbia. My server leaning across the table. How, she asked, did I want my eggs? So wanted to say poached. But just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead muttering scrambled.

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Rocket science

January 9th, 2012

It was a German, explained Doris, who’d got men to the moon. She seemed very proud of this. First generation German-American. Yes, I said, von Braun. He’d surrendered to US Forces at the end of World War Two. Adding I didn’t blame him. The alternative years in a Russian Gulag or put to work for the Soviet military machine. If you’re lucky rewarded with your own Trabant and an extra bowl or two of borscht.

But not a man, I explained, popular back in England. Something to do with dropping V-2 rockets onto London. Not the sort of thing that’d exactly endear you to local residents. Probably the same reason Bomber Harris never got Christmas Cards from Dresden. Funny thing was more people had died building the missiles than had ever been killed on the ground.

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Much reviled

January 7th, 2012

Teasing e-mail from Mike in Australia. I’d stayed with him and his family near Brisbane. The title referred to a much reviled continent. Punctuated with an exclamation mark, suggesting he realised my not infrequent sharp digs Down Under were humour. Mostly. Perhaps a little barbed in places, but that’d be the fault of a brief and wholly unwarranted detention by Border Protection at Sydney airport. My nervousness at opening the note was misplaced. Little annoyed with myself for thinking it might be otherwise. Should have known better. Fellow Englishman.

I’d earlier chatted to a couple of Australians staying with me in the hostel. Finding unexpected camaraderie in tales of blatant profiteering. Sheer greed. And indigenous cultures. Firm agreement that being invaded – the Aborigines often refer to Australia Day as Invasion Day – is part and parcel of history. Get over it. Besides, without it, they’d still be living in the Stone Age. None of us having as much as a modicum of tolerance for blame cultures or blood money. You don’t find me rounding on the French for 1066. Too busy with the Germans.

I’d added that writing, sometimes even discussing, indigenous people can be fraught with difficulty. It’s the ’R’ word, I explained. More a label. One you don’t want. Closely allied with oft-missed irony. For never have I encountered such a bigot-rich environment as race relations. Surprising? Not really. What do you really expect from the likes of positive discrimination? Much better to treat people as individuals. Even garlic munchers.

And those who play the racism card? In tolerant societies usually the hallmark of someone who has to rely on ill-judged emotion to attempt to win an argument, rather than sound intellect or rational thought. Bit like shouting. Vocal manifestation of cowardice.

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Looking for Lance

January 7th, 2012

Actually I wasn’t. Just happened to notice an Austin street map showing the Lance Armstrong Bike Trail. His home town apparently. Told there’s also a bike shop. No plans to visit. Suspect it’s more for the Size Zeros. Whereas my trusty steed’s a more busty lass. Wide child bearing hips and that. With the panniers fitted.

If anything had intrigued me, it was the Texas State Capitol building. I’d noticed it in the teeming rain as I’d ridden in on Christmas Eve as I’d headed up Congress Avenue before swinging right onto 7th Avenue. Reminded me of Capitol Hill in Washington DC.

And it presumably meant that I’d at last found a State Capital I’d heard of. Most are surprisingly unfamiliar. Take Alaska. Anchorage, the State’s biggest city? No. Juneau. Hats off to anyone who can name all fifty without omission.

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Semi-spontaneous irregularity

January 5th, 2012

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Semi-spontaneous irregularity.. Drink kumus – fermented mare’s milk – and you’ll get the same effect. Incidentally, didn’t think you could milk a horse, or at least the Sexual Offences Act 1956 precluded it. Enough to put you right off Cappuccino…

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Snowy desert

December 24th, 2011

Ken still struggles with the concept of snow in deserts. But not erectile dysfunction. Despite the wind chill…

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