Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Gingerline : Grand Expedition #GLExpedition #GrandExpedition @Gingerline

Last Saturday night Stuart and I went somewhere and did something we can't really talk about. What I can say is it involved food, an expedition, dressing up, a bit of dance, and lots and lots of entertainment.

Great fun.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Drinking Coffee...

Drinking coffee:
Yes, too hot.
Still, too hot.
Ah, a great temperature I'll just have a few...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Nice to see @Arsenal promoting @GayGooners on their #GG members pack scarf!

Nice to see Arsenal are promoting we GGs on the scarf their have included in our gold season tickets members pack! Ha ha.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

This seems a long time ago now. Back in the saddle...

....Did I say saddle? I meant harness.

It's been a lovely few weeks off work travelling around India. I think we will be going back. But maybe heading south next time... Lots more to see in that amazing country.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Give a man a fish...

Give a man a fish... Oh, just give him the fish, you arsehole. He’s hungry, you’ve got an extra fish. Hand it over, fuckface. He doesn’t have time to go to your shitty "fishing school." I’m gonna count to 3. 1... 2... 3! Now dish the fish!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

India Day 20 : The People

As we head home to the UK and after all the amazing sights and sounds we have seen, I think the most enduring thing about India for us has been the people we have met.

Friendly, welcoming, funny, questioning, industrious, uncynical, and seemingly genuinely pleased to see us. 

Some great memories. Thank you India.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

India Day 19 : The Lake Palace

I must just tell you about where we have been staying in Udaipur. We have spent the last two nights at the glorious Lake Palace  and it is everything we had been lead to believe it was and more. 

Perched upon its unique location - a tiny island on Lake Pichola - it is a pure white marble marvel. 

One of the most photographed hotels in the world, A former pleasure palace - the hotel commands views of the City Palace which are magnificent and uninterrupted. The interiors are extremely atmospheric and have been carefully restored to their 250 year old glory offering intricate decor. The walls are made of white marble adorned by semi-precious stones and ornamented niches. Gardens, fountains, pillared terraces and columns line its courtyards. 

There is the bar where the king sat, three lovely restaurants, a health centre, two jacuzzis, a wonderfully designed swimming pool, shops and a mangrove pool. They conduct free sunset lake tours, have cooking classes, nightly shadow dancing, a piper plays an India flute gently during early morning yoga, and nothing is too much trouble. 

We got here by private launch (available free and on demand) and we were greeted by warm smiles, a red velvet umbrella to protect us from the midday sun, a welcoming ceremony and hundreds of red rose petals being scattered on us from the rooftop. 

Our room was opulent to say the least, the service unmatched (private butler!), and we were treated like kings. 

We simply loved it. A great way to finish our Indian adventure. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

India Day 18 : Udaipur - The City of Lakes / The White City

Yesterday morning Stuart and I drove south through the Aravalli range, a lush landscape of rolling hills, passing small villages and flashes of the brilliant pinks and reds of shepherds' turbans. 

We were heading towards the beautiful 'City of the Lakes' (also as known as the ‘White City’) - Udaipur. A gorgeous city where the pace of life is somewhat slower than the rest of Rajasthan. 

Upon arrival into Udaipur, we headed to our hotel (more of that later) and just relaxed and soaked up the romantic city vibe! 

In the evening, we enjoyed a steady bike ride around Udaipur and it's surrounding villages during sunset. It was a wonderful way to see the city and to experience the lesser known areas of Udaipur. We stopped half way and a street vendor made us some fresh masala tea (fast becoming my favourite tipple in India.)

Udaipur is one of India’s most romantic destinations, with stunning palaces and colourful bazaars set alongside lakes and surrounded by wooded mountains. 

The city was founded by Udai Singh in 1567 after a resounding defeat by the Mughal Emperor Akbar at his former stronghold of Chittaurgarh. The city was attacked by the Mughals over the next 25 years, and subsequently by the rising power of the Marathas, until lasting peace was achieved under British influence in 1818. The rulers of Udaipur are the senior family of Rajasthan, and may call themselves Maharanas, which is a cut above the average Maharaja. 

Later in the evening we took a swim in the hotel pool and enjoyed the view across the lake over dinner. 

Today we undertook a city tour which covered the main sights including the spectacular City Palace overlooking Lake Pichola and the Lake Palace. The Lake Palace is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan and houses a thoroughly impressive range of interior decoration, as well as a section on royal paraphernalia, toys and miniatures (Udaipur has several schools of painting).

Nearby is the Tripolia Gate, where the ruler was weighed on his birthday and his weight in gold distributed among his subjects.

We also visited the Saheliyon-ki-Bari Gardens (Gardens of the Maids of Honour) at the north end of the city. Complete with an antique artificial rain system (waterspouts supplied from a series of clever pipes and gravity) and boasting attractive ornamental designs as well as a delightful lotus pool it was a nice change from the bustling streets. 

Tonight we are promised a Folk Dance Performance at Bagore Ki Haveli. Now, I don't about you, but any folk dancing, even traditional Rajasthani folk dancing, fills me with dread. So let's see if we make to through to the final bow.

Nice place here. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

India Day 17 (later that day) : Indian Tonic Water

Tonic water (or Indian tonic water) is a carbonated soft drink in which quinine is dissolved.

Quinine was added to the drink as a prophylactic against malaria, since it was originally intended for consumption in tropical areas of South Asia and Africa, where the disease is endemic. Quinine powder was so bitter that British officials stationed in early 19th century India and other tropical posts began mixing the powder with soda and sugar, and a basic tonic water was created. 

The first commercial tonic water was produced in 1858. The mixed drink gin and tonic also originated in British colonial India, when the British population would mix their medicinal quinine tonic with gin.

So since we’re here, it would be rude not to. Chin, chin!

India Day 17 : Chanoud Village

Having rested in the luxury of the fort for a day or so Stuart and I decided to explore this classic Rajasthani village a bit more. 

After breakfast we took a tour with the old retired headmaster of the local school. 

It was an intimate experience of rural life in Rajasthan; as we were met and greeted by the exceptionally friendly locals. The chance to experience life in a small rural community.

We went to temples, people's houses, and one of the schools. 

The locals here are so friendly for lots of reasons. They love the fort and anyone who stays there, they realise our money filters down into the local economy, and they are just genuinely friendly people! No cynicism here.  

Also everyone was dying to have their picture taken. Why? Well, we promised to send them physical copies. And people do. We distributed loads of photos from previous visitors. It was a sort of village-wide hide and seek - we showed people we met photos taken weeks or months ago - have you seen this person or that person? A sort of game the whole village plays. 

Many of the families said that they can't afford cameras of their own so this game was the only way they got to see photos of their kids growing up. It was quite sweet actually. So everyone wanted their photo taken. Everyone! They were queueing up!

Most of the villagers here are actually farmers, but have skilled second jobs too. The two harvests a year (first green lentils then chickpeas) are over in a matter of months so a second skill is always handy. Cattle herders, silversmiths, leatherworkers, shop owners, builders, masoners, teachers, cleaners at the fort, cooks at the fort, drivers for the fort... Ok, you get one of themes here. The fort is a big local employer. 

Back in 1971 the current fort owner's father gave 400 acres of land to the villagers to farm. And they have never forgotten it. They farm, they raise cattle, buffalo, goats and sheep on the land they were given. 

Incidentally we learned that buffalo are up to ten times more valuable than cattle round here as, a) they can actually be slaughtered, b) they produce more milk than cows, and c) the milk is richer so produces more and better butter. As a consequence the only crime in these parts is occasional buffalo rustling!

Lovely village, lovely people. We'll be sure the send copies of the many photos we took back to them.