The Story So Far

I arrived in Scotland last Saturday and spent the afternoon with Mr. Free Market, shopping for sundries (flip-up scope covers, whisky etc.) in preparation for next week’s shooting in Scotland.

Then that night the Fiend Mr. FM introduced me to a drink called “Whisky Mac”, a mixture of Scotch and something called “Stone’s Green Ginger Wine” (see below).

After extensive trial (one might even say over-sampling) of said beverage, I can safely say it is a fine thing but it can cause a massive hangover, as I discovered the following Sunday morning when Mr. FM dragged me out of bed at the crack of noon, threw me into a Land Rover and dragged me off to the range for some rifle shooting. Oy vey.

Let’s just say my marksmanship has been better.

It took me a day or so to recover from my overindulgence, whereupon last night The Englishman came over in his Land Rover, dragged me kicking and screaming away from Free Market Towers and deposited me into a place which serves Wadworth 6X and fish & chips, both of which I partook in great measure.

I’m not at my best today. Further blogging will occur when (if) I’ve recovered sufficiently.

Mr. FM returns from London tonight (fresh from evicting widows, beating junior staff and doing Capitalist Things in general), and will no doubt force more of those Whisky Mac things down my unwilling gullet. So tomorrow may see even more-painful blogging.

Yes; I’m having a wonderful time back Over Here, thank you for asking. It hasn’t even rained on me yet, and temperatures are around 45°F in daytime, falling to about 34°F at night. Outside, it looks something like this:

Few leaves on the trees, otherwise still green. Yes, I love it here; why do you ask?

And now, if you’ll excuse me… I’m off to make myself a nice hot cup of tea.

Back In Britishland

Back to my digs in Hardy Country, this time for only a brief-ish period (more on that later). Free Market Towers looked its usual splendid self:

…and to show you what fine hosts I have, Mrs. FM delayed the Friday Flogging until my arrival so that I, whisky in hand, could watch.

Nothing like the moans of the working classes to put one in a good mood… and tomorrow, it’s Range Time:

But first, I have to get through a little “Welcome Back” party tonight.

It’s a hard life, but what can one do?

And Away We Go

It’s time for Part 2 of Kim’s Amazing 2017 Sabbatical.

As you read this I’ll be in the hands [sic] of the TSA again.

Think they’ll like my t-shirt? I had it made for just such an occasion.
Back:

Front:

 

 

Define “Powerful”

Britain’s Daily Express just ran an article ranking the various countries’ passports in terms of what they term “power” — which for them means the number of foreign countries to visit without requiring an entry visa of some kind.

American passport holders have less power to travel visa-free compared to countries such as Germany, South Korea and the UK, having dropped down one tier in the Arton Capital passport index rankings since 2016.

Austria, Switzerland and Singapore rank with the above at or near the top of the list; we’re about fourth or so, because there are quite a few countries which require us to get a visa prior to arrival — India, as I once discovered for myself, being one.

And a lot of times, this is simply retaliation when we impose a visa restriction on their country:

Earlier this month, Turkey removed the visa-free status to the US after a row with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
US passports could be set to get weaker still, as the European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans back in March this year.
The vote came after Trump refused to allow visa-free travel to members of five EU countries: Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

Last time I looked, we still don’t need a visa to go to France for less than a 90-day period, which is good because I’m going to France for a week later on in the year and I’m damned if I would submit to their bureaucratic rigmarole just for that.

I once estimated that the average U.S. citizen will spend about $10,000-$12,000 (excluding airfare) over a two-week vacation trip to Europe. I am pretty sure that were the EU to make things more difficult for us to travel there, a number of people (myself included) would simply decide to go somewhere else — and thus spend our highly-prized U.S. dollars in a place where we’re apparently more welcome.

Which brings me back to the issue of “power”. Being able to visit a country without a visa does not fit my definition of power. This does.

If a citizen of a country is kidnapped or otherwise harmed when traveling in a foreign country, do you think the wrongdoers would feel more comfortable knowing that the victim is Singaporean (to pick one of the top passports at random), or an American?

Put even more simply: is there a risk that the Singaporean military would send a drone strike to snuff out the bad guys?

To me, that’s the real power of a passport: whether you can mess with your visitors with impunity, or whether you may get some more visitors from a Special Forces team in response.

So how does that make the U.S., U.K. and Germany (to name but three countries with bad-ass special forces) look now?

Of course, given the state of affairs right now, U.S. citizens face added insecurity when they travel because Muslim assholes look on us as high-visibility targets — so in that regard, we’re worse off than the South Koreans. Frankly, though, as long as Americans avoid traveling to places we’re warned about by the State Department, we do just fine. (And for those idiots who just have to spend their vacation in Yemen or Syria, you deserve everything you get.)

Right: I’m off to finish packing.

K-Cups In Britishland

 

No, this is not about some Brit tart with huge breasts — larger still than a “GGG” cup size — oh no, this is a serious post. Reader Chris C. sends me this news:

I remember you mentioned something about having a Keurig K-Cup brewer — I have one too. I also remember you mentioned something about not being able to find one in 220-240V for UK and other non-North American use.

I’ve actually found an option:

Stateside Coffee (Bidford)

They have the Keurig K140 which I think is the older version of the K145 commercial brewer that you can find in Office Depot right now. The price isn’t fantastic (£150), but given the dearth of options, it’s at least a workable one.

I don’t know about the K140/145, but I used to have the larger K150 which is an excellent coffeemaker.

(Daughter stole it from me and it’s still working, some five years since I bought it.)

So for all my Brit Readers who want to escape the Nespresso Matrix, here’s an option. As I see it, however, the only problem is the poor choice of K-cup coffee available Over There; even a cursory look through amazon.co.uk yields few options — although the Green Mountain coffee isn’t bad, it’s not Dunkin Donuts (which they may get, though, if you pester them for it. And the price isn’t too bad, about £1 per cup).

And for those of you Murkins who are looking for a more rugged version of the Keurig for your travels, Reader Chris suggests the CoffeeBoxx (which accepts K-cups):

Tactical coffeemaker? Kim likes, but the price is a little yowzer. Still (as any fule kno) you always pay more for mil-spec, so it may be worth it.

Many thanks, Chris.

I have the best Readers of any blog on the Internet. And now I think I’ll go and make me another cup of coffee, on my Keurig.

Then I’ll look at pics of Casey Batchelor on the Internet.

Not Wanted Here

Following the anti-tourist demonstrations in Majorca last week comes this new outburst of hatred for tourists — this time, sadly, in one of my favorite cities in the whole world: Amsterdam.

AMSTERDAM has launched a city centre crackdown against holidaymakers as anti-tourism riots gather pace across Europe.
Souvenir shops and bicycle hire, as well as fast food outlets boasting ice-creams, waffles and cheese, have now been blocked from opening in the Dutch city.
Officials say the shutdown is in a bid to stop “mass tourism” ruining Amsterdam’s “magnificent streets”.
It is the latest city to hit back at holidaymakers, with rioters and protesters intimidating tourists in Spain and Italy claiming they are ruining the country.
Mayor of Amsterdam, Kajsa Ollongren, said: “Tourists are very welcome, but we want to avoid mass tourism taking over our magnificent streets, canals and neighbourhoods.”

Ms Ollongren added: “We want to make sure the city centre remains attractive and liveable for the residents of Amsterdam.”

Let’s be honest, here. “Mass tourism” is a euphemism for “masses of drunken foreigners, especially Brits” because like Marbella and Ibiza, Amsterdam has become a destination — this time for bachelor parties — with ultra-cheap airfares and ferry fares making it less expensive, in many cases, for partygoers to travel there than to, say, hire a bus to take the party from Manchester to Margate. And with the high cost of hotel rooms in Amsterdam, the drunks don’t stay overnight — at least, not in hotel rooms: they simply drink themselves into a stupor, pass out in the streets and parks (Amsterdam has a very tolerant police force), and then catch the morning flight back to Britain, severely hungover (or still drunk). Here’s an example — and imagine if this happened at your favorite restaurant:

So I can appreciate the Amsterdam government’s point. Like the Balearic Islands, there has to be a point where you draw the line and say, as the mayor did: we’re going to put our residents first. And for those who don’t know this, Amsterdam, unlike tourist meccas such as Paris or London, is actually a tiny city: you can walk it flat in three days — I have — and pretty much see all the sights (unless you’re an art aficionado and spend hours in the Rijksmuseum, as I also have). So yes, it’s easy for the city of Amsterdam to be swamped and overwhelmed by tourists — more tourists than they’ve normally had to deal with in the past — and especially by tourists who act like the foul slobs above instead of like well-mannered guests.

And let’s be clear about this: if the wonderful, civilized and tolerant Dutch people are getting pissed off about these invasions, then things have really deteriorated.

I’m sad about this because in the past I’ve tried constantly to be the absolute antithesis of the above-mentioned unspeakables: I’m quiet, try to fit in by acting like a local, eat the local foods and in general, be a traveler more than a tourist. In other words, I’ve always been aware that I’m not a local, and there under sufferance. But thanks to the bad behavior of some revolting louts, it looks like I’m going to be caught in whatever net the various tourist cities erect to preserve their sanity.

Which sucks.

I love to travel, and it pains me to think that one of my great pleasures in life is going to be restricted because of the baleful outcome of the coarsening of Western society.


Update: I forgot to include the official anthem of Amsterdam. (Okay, it isn’t; but it should be.)