2009 KiTT: The story so far

I have finally managed to get around to using the ultra fast internet here on the Isle of Man to upload the first few photos of the 2009 Kids in Tow Tour to flickr. And not only that, but these are also the first batch taken with my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28. And I love it.


Calf Sound, Isle of Man

The weather is sunny, but the northwest wind is keeping it cool. But get out of the breeze and it’s lovely. And though we’ve only been here for 24 hours, it feels like forever: this place relaxes you instantly. We were down by the sea this morning, watching the seals and for about 2 hours, we just did nothing. Any parent will tell you how rare and precious that sort of time is.

The boy, born and brought up in suburban Cape Town, is in his element. There is space, fresh air, farm animals, birds, sea, rocks to scramble over, grandparents and a plastic tool kit that his Auntie Jane bought him. This morning he went up to the farm with Grandma to collect the milk. The rural equivalent of 7/11 – this stuff comes unpasteurised in churns, not in plastic cartons.

Now, as I sit inside this beautifully renovated 18th century cottage, tapping away on a rather posh laptop, I can see the family beginning a game of cricket outside in the sun. It seems foolish not to join them.

Until next time…

P.S. Thanks to all of you who have forwarded me Louise Taylor‘s hysterical piece in the Guardian on visiting South Africa for the World Cup next year.

She suggests that Egypt should have hosted the tournament. That’s Egypt which polled a mighty zero votes when they were selecting the host nation. Yes, Louise knows all about democracy.

As she says, “surely if the Egyptians could build the pyramids they could host a World Cup?” Yes, Louise knows all about hosting major sporting events.

And then, the piece de la resistance. Those four little words: “I’ve never been, but…”.

Yes, Louise knows all about South Africa.

Back home on the Isle of Man

After a short trip to the ghastly Gatwick airport and the bumpy flight over the UK and the Irish Sea, followed by the most horrendous landing ever, I feel profoundly lucky to be safely “home” in the Isle of Man. Not many people know that I almost died here, on a runway at Ronaldsway Airport just after 1pm this afternoon. But it was not to be.

I’ve seen four airports over the past few days. Four very different airports.

Cape Town is in a state of development ahead of the 2010 World Cup. And while it looks pretty spectacular and is already a huge improvement on the previously dated and rather ramshackle terminals. One slight issue is the thick dust, which is covering everything – including the cars in the long stay car park, which are well on their way to becoming fossilised. Every car park ticket comes with a free car wash. Or at least it should.

And then the much maligned Terminal Five at Heathrow. Well, I was completely impressed. Quick, clean (although I probably still had Cape Town on my mind) and very modern and stylish. We sped through in record time via the internal transit train thing and then spent all the time we’d saved watching the dancing fountains outside the terminal building.


Photo by LightReflections on flickr

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Gatwick. Aging, poorly designed, ugly, overcrowded and full of chavs. The humourless security people made me take my belt and shoes off and then laughed as my jeans fell down. So not completely humourless then. But I didn’t find it funny. Shuffling across the apron in the kerosene-stained drizzle was even less fun. And difficult with my trousers round my ankles.

And then little Ronaldsway. I’d love to tell you all about it, but I was still stunned by the utterly appalling landing by the apparently novice pilot in the blustery crosswinds.

The Isle of Man is still as pretty as I always remembered it to be. But it seems even more beautiful when you thought you were never going to see anything ever again. I’d even have settled for another afternoon in Gatwick departures lounge.

Out of the Frying Pan (2)

(Not to be confused with my original Out of the Frying Pan post from February last year)

I’m in two minds whether to fly this evening. We’re packed, we’re all checked in, our hosts are ready and waiting, the weather looks good and the boy can hardly wait and is literally twitching with mounting anticipation, but then I read this:

Official crime figures show the UK has a worse rate for all types of violence than the U.S. and even South Africa – widely considered one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

Seriaas? Seriaas.
Well – sort of, anyway – it is from the Daily Mail.

Completely violent: SA beaten back into 3rd place in hysterical Daily Mail article.

It’s nice to see that while SA is only the third most violent country on earth according to this survey, it somehow maintains the perception of being the gold standard when it comes to criminal naughtiness. Give it a couple of years and everyone will be comparing their violent crime rates to the UK:

Oh yes dear, I know Dennis was mugged twice last week, but it’s still nowhere near as bad as the UK.
And it’s not raining.

But I’m seriously considering a last minute change of destination to somewhere safer, like Baghdad or Kabul. Or maybe being adventurous but taking just a bit less risk by heading to Salzburg, famous as the historic birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Knifecrime.

EDIT: It’s a good job that forum is down for repairs. They’d be having a cadenza over this one.
Excuses central: more buts than a goats’ night out at Teazers. Hahaha!

The 2009 Kids in Tow Tour

The 2009 Kids in Tow Tour is almost upon us and I know that there is one burning question on your collective minds:

How will it affect us, the reading public of 6000 miles…?

It wouldn’t be right if, like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown, I didn’t put you out of your misery, so here’s the deal as I see it.

  1. I am not guaranteeing a post every day, although I’ll certainly try. If you want to know when a new post is up, you can follow @6000 on twitter or better still, you can subscribe to the 6000 miles… RSS feed.
  2. Comments may take longer to get through moderation. Sorry and all that. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t comment, but I’m going to be on holiday, chasing my boy around a beach and generally drinking red wine and beer. Pretty similar to life in Cape Town then, but a slightly different beach.
  3. There will be plenty of photo action. Not least (I hope) with my new camera. Those photos will go onto my flickr and I will let you know when they are going up there. Some (if not more) will probably make it onto the blog as quota photos anyway.
  4. It’s possible that I won’t be reading your blogs as often as usual. Don’t hold it against me – I will try to catch up when I get back. However, SA blogs will be my main link with the Saffa world while I’m away, so please keep me informed of developments. (Or lack of them, if that stadium-building strike begins to bite.)

And that’s pretty much it. We fly tomorrow, Kids in Tow and, anticipating un jour ‘ectique, I’ve already pre-published a special KiTT send off post, which will appear here at 1800 CAT (or some other time, if I got my time zones mixed up) tomorrow.  That post may appear mildly trivial (although reading it now, rather prophetic) if there happens to be a nuclear holocaust between now and then; but then you probably won’t be reading it if there’s a nuclear holocaust between now and then, will you?

I leave you with the ever popular Simple Minds 1985 hit Don’t You (Forget About Me); firstly, because I love songs (with brackets in the title) and secondly, because I’m gonna miss you guys. *sniffle*

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAdaQhitdKg]

Listen to Jim:

Slow change may pull us apart
When the light gets into your heart, baby

Don’t You Forget About Me
Don’t Don’t Don’t Don’t
Don’t You Forget About Me

See you soon!
6k.

Smelly penguins are a thing of the past

Here in the Cape, we’re lucky enough to have a couple of local colonies of the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) which one can pop along and visit, should one feel the need. Summer days are obviously nicest to spend in the sun, by the sea, getting up close and personal with these curious birds; with just one rather large drawback – the smell.

Penguins eat fish (which smells) and then they defaecate (which smells). It’s like smell². In short: penguins stink.

The penguins at Boulders Beach (so called because of the huge boulders there) and at Stony Point (so called because it’s all stony)* are a huge draw for the tourists, most of whom go home with a head full of wonderful memories, a camera full of wonderful photographs and a nose full of wonderfully fishy poo. Each time I go and visit Boulders, I am reminded of the need to do something about the dreadful whiff that greets me as I open the car door. And again when I arrive there.

But now I can, thanks to an offer from The Guardian in the UK. The UK isn’t known for its penguins, but there are, of course, several zoos and wildlife parks which have penguins in them. And I’m guessing that’s the market that The Guardian is trying to corner here, with the Penguin Steam Cleaner:

psc

They’ve even made it look a little bit penguinesque, so as not to frighten the birds on approach.

The Penguin Steam Cleaner features:

  • Continuous 1600 watt high-pressure (good for repeated penguin cleaning)
  • Steam exits at 105°C (bit warm, but penguins are well insulated)
  • Powerful jet nozzle, ideal for awkward spaces (beak, webbed feet, wingpits etc)
  • And it removes creased feathers. What more could you ask for?

    It’s expensive, but I reckon that the SanParks, who run Boulders, could get a better deal if they bought a job lot. After all – they have a whole load of penguins to clean.

    I will be pitching my idea to them later this week by getting one of these wonderful devices, “borrowing” a penguin and demonstrating the myriad of benefits a steam-cleaned penguin colony would bring to both their visitor numbers and their beleaguered olfactory systems.

    * I don’t make the rules.