Saturday, 30 March 2019

An (affectionate) Welsh joke about their English Overlords.

I heard this joke today on the most estimable Rick Steves' radio programme about travel, on National Public Radio (6:00 a.m. on WUSF in the Sarasota/St. Pete/Tampa area.)

Some of the programme had to do with the joys of travel in North Wales.

Rick Steves' guest was a Welshman with the unlikely name of Martin de Lewandowicz. 

Rick asked him about the historic English antipathy to all things Welsh.

Martin told us that the very word "Wales" has a Germanic language origin meaning "foreigner".

In other words the continental Anglo-Saxon invaders of England were bemused by the existing Celtic population and did not understand them.  So they designated them as foreigners.

Those Celts (Wales, Cornwall, Ireland), down-trodden by the English/Anglo Saxon invaders, used humour as resistance.

Hence this, a joke via Martin de Lewandowicz. 

Welshman with a question.  "Why are the English buried twelve feet underground?

Answer,  by another Welsh citizen."Because deep down they are nice people"

Ha, and ha, and ha!


Welsh flag

English Flag

Friday, 29 March 2019

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Three dreadful Parliaments - England, Scotland, the United Kingdom.

1. English Parliament  1648  "The Rump Parliament"

In which the English Parliament, having been purged of quasi-Royalists, manipulated the stage to allow for the trial of King Charles I, his being found guilty of treason, and his subsequent execution.  Regicide


2. Scottish Parliament 1707

In which the Scottish Parliament - utterly cash strapped - voted itself out of business.  Henceforth Scottish M.P.'s sat in the Westminster Parliament. (Selling one's soul for a mess of pottage?)

Old Parliament Hall, Edinburgh.
After the death of the English Queen Elizabeth I , the Stuart  King James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England. 

The subsequent Stuart Monarchs were Kings of Scotland and of England (one head, two crowns), until the Reign of Queen Anne, during which the Scottish Parliament was abolished, and the crowns were merged - hence the United Kingdom.  

(First the United Kingdom of Great Britain, then the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, now the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).


3.  The current parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The most dreadful, divided, and inept U.K. parliament in my lifetime.  The Brexit nonsense, (a foolish and dangerous concept from the beginning) has deeply divided the people of my homeland, and has led to a an infertile and barren parliament.

Yesterday (27th March 2019) the U.K. Parliament voted on eight "indicative" resolutions (akin to  a straw poll) with various BREXIT options.  Not one of them gained a majority.


A quotation from an American journalist, as published in the  London Guardian newspaper, sums it up.

"Is there a word for something that has passed through farce and tragedy like nine times already?” 


My native land (which I love), and my adopted land (which also has my heart) are both riven by destructive and dangerous divisions.


Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Reunited today........

.......... with my i Pad which I left at the T.S.A. security check point at San Antonio International Airport.

This, you must  understand,  was deliberate on my part.  It is a part of my on-going training to become an old coot/old fart/old codger. 😕

Kudos to the entirely helpful TSA "lost property" agent at S.A. Airport who was so pleasant and gracious when we spoke by telephone.  He found my i Pad within minutes.

Warmest thanks to my San Antonio host Ward Symons who retrieved it from the airport and sent it to me by FedEx.

Good work by FedEx who received it in San Antonio on Monday 25th, and delivered it here on Wednesday 27th.

Just before I left Ward and Kelley's home they gave me a copy of their 2018 Christmas Card which bears a great photo' of them.

I placed it under the cover of my i Pad so that it would not get crumpled in my luggage.

Nice........  'cause this made the identification of my i Pad (probably one of several or many which had been left at the airport) a piece of cake.

Ward and Kelley picture below.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Good folks. Good food.

I had lunch today with my dear friends Pat and Jack McLaughlin (ex Pittsfield, MA, and now Nashua, N.H.) who come down to Sarasota (in truth to Longboat Key) for a month each year.

They are great folks

We ate at the 1812 Bistro on (South) Osprey St.

Goodness gracious it was a super lunch for the three of us. Good food, freshly made, nothing from a can! My Grouper Fish Tacos were terrific.

N.B. (full disclosure)  I know the owner/chefs Jim Palermo and Adam Palermo from St. Boniface Church. (But if I had not cared
for their food I would be silent - in truth it was great!)

I whispered to Jack and Pat "don't order coffee", not as a judgment on the 1812 brew,  but because I wanted to take them around the corner to Cafe Perq on Hillview St. for some of the best Java which Sarasota offers.

It's expensive, their coffee beans are sourced directly from the farmers, but it is so good that it makes my home brewed coffee taste like dish water (almost!).

Good folks. Good food.

Such a good day!

Monday, 25 March 2019


It's my grumbling time.

INTERNET (and other) purchases.

I used them for one short ride in Austin, Texas.   The driver took me to the wrong address, miles from my destination.

She tried to correct the error, by concluding the first (erroneous address), and booking herself for the correct address.

UBER then charged me for six rides.  But of course I could not correct this with a simple 'phone call.  Instead I had to make a complicated series of internet communications.  UBER canceled four of the six charges, but since I could not figure out their complicated hieroglyphics I am still $11+  out of pocket.

I gave up trying to correct this $11 error for the sake of my blood pressure.



I rarely use Amazon  but I did so today to purchase a nylon/fabric watch band, which seems to be unavailable in local stores.

 (I cannot wear leather or metal bands).

Since my Amazon registered credit card has a new expiry date, not the one on Amazon's files, I have to await Amazon's pleasure to correct this  -  and they'll take only twelve hours to assist me.  Blah to Amazon.



I rented a car in Texas from a company which shall be nameless (but the photo' above will give you a clue!)

The young male clerk was very aggressive as he tried to make me take out CDW Insurance @ $33 per day.  

My resistance was as strong as the Rock of Gibraltar as my AMEX credit card covers this.

I asked about renting a portable GPS/SatNav and the young man told me that I could upgrade my car to one with a built in navigation system at no additional charge.

Then I made a mistake.  He presented a document with the instructions to "sign here, and initial in about 9,500 other places (I exaggerate).

I did not read every jot and tittle of the document - who does? - because I trusted that the clerk had got it right.  BIG MISTAKE!

Back at home I checked the bill only to find that I had been overcharged by $210 for the CDW and for the vehicle upgrade.

I had a long conversation with a rep. of the Company who reminded me that though the San Antonio clerk had made errors I had accepted these errors by my signature and initials.

"It was" she said, "a legal document". 

I countered that it was indeed a legal document,  but that there was another consideration:  "should I not have been able to trust the word of the San Antonio clerk as a matter of good business practice by his company?"  

I was gentle and polite.

Point half well taken.  The rental company refunded $127 of the $210 "overcharge".

This conclusion was (as we say in the U.K.)  "better than a slap in the face with a wet fish!"

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Final Travelogue SAN ANTONIO good friends and a fine City

I spent my final two days in Texas as a guest of Ward and Kelley Symons.

Ward grew up in Fitchburg MA where I was the Rector at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 1976-1980

By that time he had already flown the coop, but I knew and liked his parents Les and Jesse Symons.

Sorry, no picture of Kelley -  it will come later. But know that she makes the most  fabulous Apple Pie!

Kelley and Ward were good enough to invite their neighbours Vicki Chew and Sherri Lipper for dinner on my first evening.

Don't tell Zion, but I had an affair with Vicki and Sherri's gorgeous Doberman,  "Bella".

  Bella 1

Bella 2


Of course you cannot be in San Antonio without a visit to the Alamo Mission.

"Remember the Alamo" of course, but  recall that it was the scene of a Mexican victory against the expansionist Americans who were bound and determined to conquer and subdue Texas - then a part of Mexico.

In due course the Americans succeeded. First there was the quasi independent Republic of Texas,  which later became the present day U.S. State of Texas.

When I first spotted the upper stories of this building I thought that it was a Cathedral.

Turns out that it is the Emily D (West) Morgan Hotel  -  good golly,  those Victorians knew how to build magnificent public and private buildings, this being a great example.

It is named for Emily Morgan, allegedly "The Yellow Rose of Texas"

The story of Emily (West) Morgan as the Yellow Rose of Texas is almost certainly phony-baloney  (look her up on a reputable historical site), but the myth remains - and the Hotel which bears her name is an utterly lovely piece of Victorian architecture.


Then there is the famous San Antonio River Walk.  This was originally a 1939 W.P.A. flood control scheme.

The denizens of San Antonio turned a WPA sow's ear into a silk purse.

It's now a great urban park.

I was there the day after St. Patrick's Day - when the River had been coloured green.

Of course I took the 30 minute "touristy" boat ride  (I was a tourist after all!) in a electrically powered vessel  (no noise and no air pollution).

Ward Symons and I ate lunch at the deservedly famous River Walk restaurant

Great food in a fabulous restaurant.


I very much liked San Antonio and would be happy to return there some day.

Zion at Bayside Pet Resort

I left him with  an unlaudered tee shirt which I had slept in the night before he went to Bayside, thinking that my scent would comfort him.

My scent certainly did something for him!   This is how the tee shirt was returned to me.

Fine Food in San Antonio

I had an all too brief visit to San Antonio, TX to see my friends Ward and Kelley Symons.  Ward grew up in Fitchburg MA where I was the Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd 1976-1980.

By 1976 Ward had already flown the coop, but I knew and liked his parents - Les and Jesse Symons.

Much more about my San Antonio trip tomorrow (with photo's).  

For today I report that  we had lunch last Monday at one of the finest restaurants on the River Walk -  "Boudro's"

I chose the... CHICKEN ENCHILADAS VERDES $12 Corn tortillas filled with breast of chicken and topped with tomatillo sauce, queso fresco and sour cream with pico de gallo and black beans.

'Twas a great choice, and the food was delicious.

But after I had placed my order I watched our fine waiter as he created (table side) Boudros' utterly fresh Guacamole for guests at another table. It was a work of art.

How I wished that I had ordered Guacamole rather than Enchiladas.

Boudros' Guacamole with its fresh ingredients and various textures makes me realise that what passes for Guacamole in our local supermarkets,  is nothing better than flavoured wall paper paste