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February 2, 2005

Haul Out

Monday morning was sunny and calm, so we got up early, motored across the marina, and they lifted Zamindar out of the water with the Travelift. It's always a bit stressful watching your boat being hoisted out of the water in slings, driven across the street, and propped up, and though I'm a bit more used to it now, Carita seemed a little concerned.

We then spent a couple of hours pressure-washing the hull clean, and we've been busy for the last days scraping the loose anti-fouling off.

We have to get an insurance survey done while the boat is out of the water, and as there aren't any properly qualified marine surveyors in Ibiza or Formentera, we have one flying over from Mallorca on Friday. Though with the anti-fouling still to do, and good weather needed for re-launching, it's really going to be touch and go if I'll be able to catch my flight out on Tuesday.

February 3, 2005

Sleeping in Airports

As someone who ends up doing it far more often than I'd like, here's a website dedicated to sleeping in airports - which are best, which to avoid, and in which you're most likely to meet a sleep deprived Scottish person who is likely to go insane if you waken him up.

February 5, 2005


The weather remained good all of this week, and apart from a trip across to the mainland of Ibiza on Wednesday, to travel all over the island and hunt out some anti-fouling, we've been working hard on the boat all the time. Most of the week I've been getting strange looks, wandering around with red hair and with dust in my eyes, mouth, and everywhere from all the old anti-fouling we've been scraping off the hull. The surveyor arrived yesterday, seemed very Dutch and professional, and did the inspection before having to rush off again on the ferry. In the afternoon, with all the scraping and preparation finally done, Carita and I began painting the hull, and continued until sunset when we were forced to open a five litre keg of my favourite German beer, Warsteiner, to quench our thirst.

This morning we managed to finish off the anti-fouling just before the Travelift arrived to take us out of the yard, and after another tense trip across the road, we were re-launched this afternoon. It was a lovely day, so instead of just taking Zamindar back to her berth in the marina, we motored down to the idyllic, white, sandy beaches of Illetes and anchored for a few hours. In the summer that whole coast of Formentera is packed with boats, but today it was just us and a big Italian motorboat sitting in the incredibly clear water. It felt good to be anchored again, and really seemed to make the last week's hard work worthwhile.

February 7, 2005

Fake Polo Ad

Though this has been out for a while I still thought it was worth a link. Volkswagen are apparently very upset about this fake ad done by LeeandDan.com showing a suicide bomber blowing himself up inside a Polo.

Similarly, Nokia were quite bothered when this video of a cat spinning around on a ceiling fan appeared last year.

...yet more evidence that viral marketing is in.

February 8, 2005

Formentera Hospitality

Either Formentera has become friendlier this winter or we're just more accepted after two years on the island, but whatever the case 
the last couple of weeks have been very pleasant. Even if fresh bread is still hard to get.

Ironically, after flying down and hauling the boat out specifically for an insurance survey, l spoke to the insurance company yesterday to tell them it was done and they replied, "What survey? Our records don't show that we ever asked you to get a survey done."

February 10, 2005


With all the work completed we flew out of Ibiza during a thunderstorm on Tuesday. After a stopover in Barcelona and a late lunch we got into Heathrow and I nipped into a shop to get some credit for my British sim card. Suddenly, I realised that I didn't have my credit card and my mind went back to the smiling guy in the sandwich shop in Barcelona airport with my card still sitting in the visa machine as he happily waved "Adios!" to me! I hastily called and cancelled the card, which thankfully hadn't been used, and luckily I still had enough cash on me to get around London.

We caught the tube over to Sanna's flat and Carita tried to drag her 50kg of luggage along the street whilst kicking old people and children out of her way. In the morning, after a very energetic Sanna gave us breakfast in bed, I headed out to the bank as the only way I could get cash without my card was over the counter. Needing to be in the airport by 1100, it was somewhat frustrating to discover that the bank was closed for 'staff training' until 1000 and after finally opening their doors and serving me, we jumped in a taxi, rushed to the station, and managed to catch the Stansted Express in time. I caught a flight up to Glasgow to visit Colin and Carita flew back to Finland.

February 11, 2005

It's All Gone Pete Tong

The Glasgow World Film Festival has just started and tonight I went along to see a pre-release showing of It's All Gone Pete Tong, set on location in Ibiza. Based on the true story of legendary dj, Frankie Wilde losing his hearing, it's a truly enjoyable film that manages to capture the spirit and vibrancy of life in Ibiza and the infectious energy of dance music. Between taking you to some of Ibiza's most beautiful locations and featuring Frankie's daily fights with the evil Coke Badger, after watching the film all you really want to do is head off to Pacha...

February 13, 2005

Death By Ikea

ikea in arabic
Such is the desire to own even more bland, functional furniture that proudly declares a lack of individuality, that this week one man was stabbed and nine people hospitalised in the stampede to get into a late night opening of the Ikea in Edmonton, London. This mirrors what happened at another Ikea opening in Saudi Arabia just last year in which three people were killed in the excitement. Ok, so given the choice I too would sometimes go to Ikea if I had to, but their globalisation is doing more harm than McDonalds ever have. Now, I get lost and forget which country I'm in when I go into a flat in Singapore or a house in Glasgow, as everyone has the same Ikea chairs, beds, vases, and toilet brushes. Cafes all start to have the same Ikea candle holders and ashtrays. Interiors everywhere starts to look generic. Last year in Britain 33 million people flocked to their Ikea cathedrals in the hope of sacrificing yet more of their hard earned cash to the Swedish god of flat-pack furniture and doing their own small part to make the worlds' interior design that bit more dull.

Ironically, Ikea set up their own fake hate site and were running adverts allegedly by an organisation called the 'Elite Designers who Hate Ikea' to publicise the opening of the Edmonton store. The main webpage for that has since been pulled but some of the site still exists.

February 14, 2005


While we were in London, Simon gave us a private, Sunday night tour of Liberation, his shop in Covent Garden. As well as being the main outlet for Libidex, his latex clothing brand, there's also an appropriately bizarre collection of vintage erotica and antique fetish gear. Naturally, we had to try on some of the lovely gear - my favourite item being the gimp mask which, personally, I think, suits me quite well!

Downstairs, the main showroom is complete with dungeon, prayer stool, and a collection of leather straps that took me right back to being belted at school. (Actually, I only got belted at my primary school, St Peter and Paul's which I went to until I was twelve, but it sadly doesn't have a website. Although this, the website of my secondary school is truly appalling as you can see!)

More photos from Liberation and our trip to Formentera.

February 15, 2005

Glasgow Protest

police horses
Walking through the centre of Glasgow this afternoon I began to pass dozens of vans full of police parked in all the streets. It turned out there was a protest against the occupation of Iraq by twenty or thirty students and the police had decided to send in hundreds of officers, mounted police, and mobile camera units, to deal with it. In one place, protesters being filmed by the police (which, let's face it, is just to make people feel that their identity as troublemakers is being recorded) were responding by photographing them with their cameraphones! In the end, the twenty or so people sat down in the road for about five minutes before a 'well timed' fire engine came around the corner, the police moved in, cleared the protesters off the road, and it was over. Nice to know the police are in control of this state.

February 16, 2005

Unable to Write

So yesterday I had to write a cheque & suddenly I discovered that I can't write anymore! It's something I just never do - I just use a keyboard all the time & never pen & paper. Henceforth, will stop using keyboards & go back to using pens!

February 17, 2005

Touch Me

wacom cintiq
This is obviously what I need to overcome my writing disabilities...

The $2500 Wacom Cintix 21UX - a 21" flat screen that you can draw directly onto just like Wacom's terrific pen tablets but without the usual hand to eye coordination problems.


February 18, 2005

Electro Wear

The electro-shock coat by London designer Phil Worthington is finished in strips of fur which become electro-statically charged and stand on end when the wearer feels threatened, mimicking the behaviour of many animals. If someone continues to invade their personal space, the fur will begin to crackle with the electricity given off by the wearer, until finally, if the person touches the fur, they'll receive a nice 100,000 volt shock.

via Gizmodo

related... the no-contact jacket

February 19, 2005

Call of the Wild

A plan to re-introduce wolves, lynx, bears, and wild boar to Scotland has been unveiled by environmentalist landowner Paul Lister. Although there have been repeated calls for this to happen for a long time in the country, they always seem to have been overshadowed by farmers worried for their livestock. In most of northern Europe, however, these predators survive and enhance the environment, as they once did in Scotland, rather than causing any serious problems, and their re-introduction would be a wonderful boost to the country's biodiversity.

February 20, 2005

Estonian Charms

I caught the late flight down to Stansted last night and made myself as comfortable as I could there, wondering what I was doing sleeping in the corner of an airport when I should have been in the bosom of a nice, warm pub in Glasgow. I had to check in for a sleazyjet flight to Estonia at 05:30, however, so I had no other choice.

After a while I managed to sleep in 30 minute intervals, punctuated by something or other wakening me up, until finally my alarm went off just as it felt like I'd finally settled down for the night. I checked in and boarded the flight, hoping to get some sleep - which of course didn't happen. My natural talent for attracting screaming kids ensured that there was one sitting directly behind me, kicking and punching my seat as penance for my sins for the entire two and a half hour flight.

Estonians seem to appreciate a drink for breakfast. When the cabin crew came around with the tea and coffee trolley just after seven o'clock, the woman on my right ordered a whiskey while the guy in front of her opened his bottle of spirits and continued to down it until he was so pissed that the stewards finally came over and threatened to take it away from him.

We touched down in Tallinn, which was white with snow, and I set off to find the guesthouse I'd booked. There then followed a two hour scenario of me sitting on all of Tallinn's trams, going around the entire town in circles, looking for the fictional tram stop for the guesthouse, which being fictional, didn't exist. I attempted to ask a couple of people for directions but they pleasantly responded with 'Fuck off' looks and left. Eventually, after stumbling across a crazy guy wrapped in a torn polythene sheet, I wandered around through the snow and ice until, almost by accident, I found the street I was looking for.

Decided not to leave guesthouse due to possibility of never managing to return in my exhausted state.

February 22, 2005

Passive Tourism

estonian weather
One of the highlights of being in Tallinn is wandering around the medieval streets and alleys of the old town. That pleasure is somewhat challenged, however, when it's -13c, so instead I've been taking part in passive tourism, which is where you sit down in a nice cafe or bar and wait for the foreign experiences to come to you.

February 23, 2005

Cafe Culture

So partly due to the arctic conditions lately I've been spending some time thawing out in various cafes and bars in Tallinn - and it really does have a great selection to choose from. One of my favourite places is Stereo, a futuristic all white bar with waitresses in short orange outfits and free wi-fi - what more can you ask for? They even have an iMac on the bar for free internet access, though I've seen more people sitting in bars and cafes with laptops here than in any other country. Maybe it's because wireless internet is so ubiquitous - almost every cafe has it, either for free or for 10EEK a day - under 1 euro. Or maybe sitting in a bar with a laptop is the status symbol of the newly rich here as they surf and ignore their blonde girlfriends - which anywhere else would be a geek symbol.

Attitudes can be feel quite cold and unfriendly towards you as a foreigner, which I suppose is a leftover from their Soviet days - yesterday a waitress in another cafe tried very hard to smile back but just couldn't manage it! But everyone isn't like that as they adapt to more tourists arriving to spend money and an increasing number of expats working in the capital. Occasionally some big mafia looking guy will come into a cafe, not order anything, but just sit staring out of the window. Then suddenly he'll jump up and run out after someone who passes.

Estonia does seem to be getting trendier (and more expensive) since I last visited a year ago. Dance music seems to have taken off in a big way here, but unfortunately the clubs really just seem to be open at the weekends so I'll have to leave that Estonian experience until another time.

February 26, 2005

Frozen Sea

I checked out of Valge Villa, the guest house I'd been staying in which had been pretty good - friendly, and fast internet access in all the rooms, and headed for the port to catch a ferry over to Helsinki.

The ferry turned out to be packed. Lots of drunken Finns were taking home cases and cases of beer, and with no spare seats anywhere I eventually found a space on the floor, sat down, and read my book.

As we began to get closer to Finland I went out onto deck to look at the sea and was amazed to find that it was frozen over and had turned to ice! The ship was going through a frozen sea, cracking the ice with it's hull and sending fragments flying out and moonlight illuminating the frozen surface for miles. It looked incredible and felt just like being on the Titanic! Although it was about -12c I just couldn't go back inside and was the only person standing mesmerised by the frozen sea all the way to Helsinki harbour.

February 28, 2005

Life in the Freezer

It's continued to stay very cold for the last week or so with temperatures being consistently between -5c and -20c, which is getting to the stage that even wearing a lot of clothes you start to feel very cold if you stay outside for more than twenty minutes. When the wind blows into your face it's really painful and the dog's drool has been freezing on her chin.

The sea around Espoo has frozen solid, though, so I've been enjoying taking Ira for walks on the ice every day past people fishing through holes in it. Cross-country skiing is really popular here and at the weekend the ice was busy with people skiing, some pulling their children behind them in sledges. Lots of small islands are just off the coast that can normally only be reached by boat, but now of course you can just walk or ski out to them, which is a novel experience.