Oh, To Be In England

…in normal times (whatever those are these days).

In Boscastle, Cornwall, where The Englishman has a holiday cottage, a local restaurant has set up a 24-hour webcam to show the outskirts of the village where the river runs down the hill on its way to the Atlantic.  Yesterday I went there, expecting to find a black screen.  Silly rabbit, I forgot it was England (note the time stamp):

I sat for a while, just watching as the occasional car went past on the road and people walked up and down the paths which run along both sides of the stream, and my mind went back two and a half years, when I was there all by myself…

A pint of Tribute Ale (local Cornish brew, on a par with Wadworth 6x) at the Cobweb Inn, hot fresh rolls from the little Spar grocery store behind from where we’re watching, and of course, the matchless fish ‘n chips from Sharon’s Plaice, just behind us to the right.

It’s a scene as familiar to me as my own backyard, it was one of the best weeks of my life, and I wish I was there right now.

Update:  15 minutes later:

Time to turn in.

Update 2:  The Englishman writes:

I too logged on yesterday to see the sunset.  The little building opposite the Old Store House has been turned into a bijou restaurant.
A lady staggered out with a bunch of flowers and meandered up the path to the bus stop which provided much needed vertical stability.  It was a joy to watch, especially with the jeopardy of the stream edge which she was close to several times.
I wish I had been there.

Fond Farewell

I see that British Airways is finally retiring their wonderful Boeing 747 airliners from service, which gives me yet one more reason not to fly with them.

Seriously:  if I ever had a choice between flying DFW-LHR-DFW on American or BA, I generally preferred to fly with BA even though my track record with the pocket-picking bastards has not always been a good one.  And the 747 was the only reason, because these ugly giants were designed back in the day when passenger comfort was the goal (as opposed to sardine-packing economic reasons, e.g. the 777), and Boeing aircraft could be relied on to act like airliners and not lawn darts (ahem  737MAX).

And call me a timorous wussy, but I’ve always preferred four engines over two when it comes to long-haul flights, because if I’m flying at 40,000 feet over an ocean, I like having the redundancy of lots of engines — no matter (or especially because) how much the engineers try to reassure me that two engines will be just the same, cross their hearts.  I know the odds;  and while one engine failure is bad with either a two- or four-engine aircraft, two engine failures will have a totally different outcome for a 777 versus  a 747.

Gah.  It’s probably a good thing that the Chinkvirus has fucked up international travel for a while.  It’ll give my irritation a chance to subside.

Darwin Tourism

I see that some idiot was trapped on a volcano, can’t be rescued and will no doubt be dead by the time you read this:

A tourist is stuck close to the crater of the highest active volcano in Eurasia with rescuers unable to reach him by foot or helicopter.
The ailing man is stranded some 650ft below the rim of the giant 15,580 ft Klyuchevskaya Sopka in Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.
Spewing volcanic activity and a melting high-altitude glacier is preventing rescuers getting close to the tourist, aged 35.
A helicopter bid to lower rescuers onto the rim of the volcano so they could climb down to the man had to be aborted due to extreme toxic gas and vapour emissions and atrocious weather.

I have the same reaction to this as when some mope is eaten by a shark while swimming among a bunch of them, or when some “adventurer” falls off a mountain while climbing it “because it was there”:  they were asking for trouble.

I have a simple policy when it comes to travel:  don’t do stupid shit that will endanger your life, and don’t go to dangerous places (e.g. an active volcano, a shark-infested lagoon or any Middle Eastern- or primitive Third World country, some overlap).

That’s my own personal policy;  yours may differ in that you get off on danger or want to see exotic (read: shithole) places and so on.  I am never going to be bitten by a shark, for instance, because my idea of a maritime adventure is sitting in a dockside restaurant in Cannes or Boothbay Harbor drinking a fine wine and eating the local delicacy — not swimming in a sea full of riptides and stuff with spikes or sharp teeth.  Of course, said restaurants are not without their own set of perils, e.g. prices where you need a magnifying glass to find the decimal point, scrofulous Frenchmen or New Englanders and so on, but on the whole, the mortal peril thereof is somewhat lower than coming face to face with a fucking tiger shark in its own habitat.

Call me a coward, or “unadventurous” if you will, but I will point out that I was once surrounded by Puerto Rican gangsters in Hell’s Kitchen simply because I had an urge for a pastrami sandwich from the local deli.  (That story for another time.)  So I’m not that much of a coward, and sometimes there is a decent risk/reward balance.

But the reward of a wonderful deli sandwich is far greater than a “look, I’m standing on the crater of an erupting volcano” moment, and in any event, I’d rather risk death by choking while trying to inhale the entire sandwich than knowing I’m going to be cooked alive by molten lava.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but you’re not going to change my mind.

RFI: New Orleans

I’m thinking of taking New Wife to New Orleans for a couple weekdays sometime after July 4 because a) she’s getting cabin fever and b) she’s never been to Nawlins.

Does anyone have a sitrep about the place, of recent vintage?  I don’t want to go there if Bourbon Street is now a BLM CHAZ, for instance.

I’ll be staying with friends, so it won’t cost me anything other than gas to get there, and I know what to do there because I’ve been there many times before, so I’m not looking for that kind of info.

But if anyone’s been there recently, or lives there, tell me what I need to know, please.

Sensible Enough

I note that some of the Euro airlines are going to mandate that passengers wear face masks for the entire journey, which seems somewhat excessive given that they’ve (finally) got round to installing HEPA air filters to clean the recirculated air.

The main danger of infection is not through the air, but in touching the surfaces inside the aircraft — given how shoddily these are typically cleaned, if at all.

Based on thousands of hours imprisoned in these winged cigar tubes, I would suggest that what people really need to do is carry many sterilized wipes with them, and clean as thoroughly as possible areas like seatbelt buckles, tray tables and armrests — the places that people touch with their filthy hands and (yes) feet.

Oh, and ALWAYS bring your own food, especially on long-haul flights (I wrote about my choices here).  That way, you’re assured of eating exactly what you want and not being compelled by hunger to eat airline food [pause to let the nausea go away]  and even have emergency food if you’re stuck on the plane or in the airport for longer than expected.

If you have to fly, that is.  I don’t see myself doing so until next year.  (Mr. Free Market has hinted at a high-bird shoot in Dorset in Fall 2021…)


Being inhabitants of an island or two, the Brits have always been very much a nation of travelers, but even I have to admit some surprise at the extent of it:

Up to a million Britons are STILL stranded abroad scrambling to return home after countries closed their borders

Indeed, even my Longtime Friends the Sorensons were until recently stranded while out of the country, and only just made it onto the last flight back to Britishland.

Now of course, the country they were stranded in was the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, which admittedly does take some of the sting out of it (pics taken by Mrs. Sor):

(There were more pics, but they’re somewhat personal nay even indelicate, with half-naked Sorensons all over the place, so I’m not publishing them here…)

Here’s the beach near their hotel, lest anyone still needs proof of their dire predicament:

I suspect that Mr. Sor’s deepening panic came not from being unable to get back to Blighty but from the prospect of the hotel running out of gin — entirely understandable, of course, as the thought of being marooned Robinson Crusoe-like on an island with no gin… well, I don’t think I need say any more.

But they’re back home, self-isolating in their historic urban residence, and despite a ready supply of gin they’re not at all happy about being there, for some reason:

Note the “social distancing” of their neighbors…