Wednesday 23 February 2022

Ants on the bus

This photo was taken in Norway, but it does contain ants...
On one of the many foreign trips I have done driving my coach, I went to Italy with an agrarian themed trip. Visiting a radish farm, a mozzarella farm and a pecorino farm were the farming ends of the journey, but there were also the more touristy things. And one day, my coach rolled in to Rome. 

I drove up to the hotel and as soon as everybody was off, a porter in a clapped out car (that's how I remember it), told me to follow him to where I could park the coach. I followed him left. I followed him right. I followed him for miles and miles and I was starting to get worried. And the worry didn't ease when he drove unto a court filled with really clapped out cars and a rickety gate. Please park and I will take you back to the hotel.

Not this car, although I do love it
So, I parked, got my stuff together and got in that clapped out car. We then drove back to the hotel (oh yes) and the next morning he drove me back to the parking court yard to collect my coach. This went on for several days. But all good things must come to an end however and on the last morning, he drove me to the parking court yard. The night before I had been told to park it in a slightly different place than the other days and that had been an error.

Apparently I had parked one of the wheels right on top of an ants nest. Ants being ants, they then decided to get up that wheel, just in case there was something edible at the top. Not finding anything edible there, they proceeded up the axel, further and further in to the coach...

By the time we arrived in Florence (several hours' drive), a fair few people had taken a look and reported on an abundance of ants in the toilet area. The passengers would have a few hours of sight-seeing in Florence, I would have a few hours of hunting down ant traps. Fortunately there were some smaller shops even in the center of the city that sold those things.

However, the large number of ants would soon deal with the two ant traps I had gotten. And as we hit the road again after lunch to do some sight-seeing in Siena, I contemplated my options. Of which there were precious few. So far, the ants had kept themselves to one area mainly, but there were already a few daredevils that had ventured further afield. 

After arriving in a large car and coach park in Siena, there was only one real option open: clean the toilet area from top to bottom. With what though? Yes, there was water and I did have some cleaning stuff, but this needed a bit more bite and force. And then I spotted it: the hose pipe used to wash coaches. I was going to have to flush them out! 

I started the coach and drove a couple of meters further forward, so the hose could come straight through the back door. I got the hose, I opened the door and let rip! The ants never stood a chance, as one by one they went down the plughole and onto the tarmac of that Siena car park. Once they were all gone, I gave the toilet another good going over, this time using some kind of cleaning agent as well. 

When we left Siena that day, there was an occasional 'I've got another one' from the back of the coach, but really? They were toast...

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Tuesday's Travels 22-08

Wow, several of you knew this was the Atomium in Brussels, Belgium, built for the World Expo of 1958. It represents an iron molecule. Points go to Bettina, Fun60, Gera, Gerrit, Harm and Yamini. Millie and Walter get a quarter point for mentioning molecule.
My story? I have seen this landmark several times, most often because I went to a large multiplex cinema which was in the same area. I remember watching Home Alone there when I was living in Brussels for a few months. I think this photo stems from a holiday my sister and I took to Belgium and Luxemburg around 1996, but apart from this photo, we did not enter the building, going to the cinema instead. Since we were there it has been completely overhauled.

On to this week's challenge. Where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week. Oh, and by the way, look out for the antsy story later this week.

Wednesday 16 February 2022

More telly

Apart from watching films that are geared more towards young adults, children and families, I also love watching another type of film. The type of film where the body count usually is on the higher side of the spectrum. One of the good guys gets it good and then a lot of the bad guys go the same way (ie untimely death). And sometimes they can be quite funny as well. Like 'Spy'. Starring Melissa McCarthy and Jude Law with a brilliant comedic turn by Jason Statham. A desk-bound CIA analyst volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent diabolical global disaster. Very much a fish out of water story, I had seen parts of it before, but never the whole film. And even though it was very clearly a film, it was also quite believable as you rooted for Melissa McCarthy trying to do her best as a new spy.

Something with nearly the same title was 'My Spy', starring Dave Bautista and Chloe Coleman. A hardened CIA operative finds himself at the mercy of a precocious 9-year-old girl, having been sent undercover to surveil her family. There were parts of this film that were so funny they had me nearly wetting myself as I laughed so hard. I thought the chemistry between the two main leads was very sweet and the supporting cast was brilliant.

'Safe' was another Jason Statham film (I really like him, he could read the phonebook and it would be good). Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops. Coming to her aid is an ex-cage fighter whose life was destroyed by the gangsters on Mei's trail. I fell into this halfway and once finished, I had to go back to the beginning to really get the whole story. There was definitely a higher body count here, as the Triads, Russian Mob and police force all were severely short of people in the end. And apart from some of the wise cracks, there was not much of comedy here. But, as I said, it had Jason Statham in...

I saw a few films recently starring Sam Worthington. 'Clash of the Titans', 'Wrath of the Titans' and 'The Hunter's Prayer'. In the first two he stars as Perseus, a Greek demi-god (Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes also star), in the last he is an assassin who helps a young woman avenge the death of her family. Very much in the same vein as the film with Jason Statham and still quite entertaining, the good guy and the bad guy looked very similar to me and were hard to keep apart until quite far into the film. Which did definitely not help. It was still a nice watch though.

A Mark Wahlberg film next. When I saw this film advertised, I watched it because I thought it had Matt Damon in (there was a tiny picture next to it). A man discovers that his hallucinations are actually visions from past lives. I did really feel for the protagonist and very much rooted for him and his friends. However, I did not get much from Chiwetel Ejiofor. He played the bad guy, but he didn't do it for me. Yes, at times it was a bit far fetched, but with these type of films you have to suspend your disbelief to some extent I think. And as long as they are not billing it as 'based on a true story'...

'In Time' was a film I had seen several times before, but only ever the second half, never the beginning. So when I saw it streamed on one of the streaming services I subscribe to, I had to watch it again. In a future where people stop aging at 25, but are engineered to live only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the situation is a shot at immortal youth. Here, Will Salas finds himself accused of murder and on the run with a hostage - a connection that becomes an important part of the way against the system. I am not much into Justin Timberlake's music, but I do like his acting very much. 

To end with something altogether less violent now: 'The Hating Game'. Resolving to achieve professional success without compromising her ethics, Lucy embarks on a ruthless game of one-upmanship against cold and efficient nemesis Joshua, a rivalry that is complicated by her growing attraction to him. When I first saw this, I fast forwarded quite a bit, but once I had finished I went back to the beginning and saw the whole thing from beginning to end again. I especially liked Austin Stowell's acting and his looks were very much cold and ruthless. Until he smiled...

Tuesday 15 February 2022

Tuesday's Travels 22-07

It was clear from the start that some people knew what last week's photo was all about, although there were also some people who were a bit confused by the commenting, even phoning me to say there was something wrong. No Dad, there wasn't! He did however get the answer right and gets a point, together with Harm, Hilary and Fun60. It was the Duomo in Florence, Italy. 
My story? When I visited Florence I took my trusted camera with me again, but like in Liverpool, the batteries ran out and this is one of the few photos I managed to take before it went black. I could have gotten more batteries, but I was more concerned with getting an ant trap, as I had an ant investation on my coach, as I had parked above their route I guess. I finally had to hose them out in Siena. 

On to this week's challenge. Where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week!

Monday 14 February 2022

I am so done!

I am. I am so so done. I just want to throw the splint in the nearest canal so it can be taken out to sea and drown, but I won't do that for several reasons. Reason number 1: I need it still. Even though the hand therapist told me I would have to start wearing it a bit less, there are still a fair few things I cannot or am not allowed to do without. Heavy duty stuff, making the bed with fresh sheets, sleeping. 

Reason number 2: I have plans for it once I can finally relegate it to the dustbin. I want to use differend coloured threads and such and turn it into a piece of art that will be highly personal. That will definitely have to wait, as I still am not that good in using my wrist.

Reason number 3: The splint is made of a plastic substance and plastic is not good to let loose in nature. NOT GOOD! So, even if I were to throw it out, I would use the proper channels to get rid of it. 

In other words, I have seen the therapist and she was happy with the progress so far. And over the past few days I have taken the splint off several times, mainly during meal times. I will have to do that more and more often now, although as I said: nights and heavy work excluded. Which also includes work of course. Yes, we may have power steering now, but no point undoing all the frustration of not using the hand for so long, to ruin it in one go. 

My boss did ask me the other day when it was the left hand's turn for the CTS and to be honest, I don't know. It does not cause me any trouble right now. The muscles in my left arm have gotten used to more heavy lifting as well (tea pot, pans etc). However, it is a case of preventative as opposed to curative. I will have to have a meeting with the surgeon first I think, before making a decision either way. 

Wednesday 9 February 2022

Tuesday's Travels 22-06

Did you think I had forgotten? Well, you were right! I did, I had, I was. As in forget, forgotten, forgetful. As I have to tick each day as it's gone by to just keep any semblance of knowing what day it is, I hope you will forgive me. Back to the 'game' then. Last week's challenge was for some easier than for others, but as several of you so rightly said: it was Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) near Stavanger in Norway. Bettina, Gera, Harm and Gerrit get a point each.
My own story? Well, Bettina said it was easy, but I can tell you that it very much wasn't! In fact it was my first foray into Norwegian walking and it proved to be very hard. I will leave you with the link to the story I wrote back when I actually walked up it and sat on the edge!

Before getting onto this week's challenge, let me just say I altered the commenting bit again so that no other answers show. So where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week!

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Tuesday's Travels 22-05

Well, some of you knew where this was, either from personal experience (Janice: 1 point) or from realising where I have been (Yamini: 1 point). It was of course Lake Louise in Canada. 
My story? I visited Canada in 2011 and went to Lake Louise with a Canadian friend. There were three things that stood out for me that day: 1. it was beautiful and cold. 2. There was a wedding and I just thought that bride was going to freeze! Did I mention it was cold? 3. I saw wildlife up close and personal. In fact the only wildlife I saw up close and personal during my whole trip to Canada. Two chipmunks! Yes, I saw Chip 'n' Dale! 

Anyway, moving on to this week's challenge. Where is this? Have you ever been? Tell us your story. Answer next week!