Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Sicily - part one

Since I've returned from relaxing holiday in the sun I've made a resolution to go easy on you guys and to try and keep the Blogs relatively short. In the spirit of this I have split the Sicily Blog into bite-size chunks. The unfortunate side effect of this, when combined with my normal wittering, is that we don't actually make it to Sicily in the first instalment......

No real drama on the way to the airport other than a 40 mile tailback on the good old M25 - We managed to avoid this by going into London and it would have been plain sailing if I had not decided to check on the route back for our friend Kirsty, who was not only on cat feeding duties but also got press ganged into dropping us at the airport (Kirsty does get to drive ElleGee for her sins but to be honest, from what I heard about the weather*, the "top down" opportunities** have been few and far between).  I found out the route was clear for Kirsty's journey home. Shortly after this Tom-Tom instructed us to leave the route we were on. I assumed there was more trouble ahead and instructed Kirsty to turn off the motorway. Just as she did I remembered I had not reset the destination to Gatwick Airport and Tom-Tom was therefore trying to take us home. Doh! Fortunately it was quite easy to get back on track and we only lost a couple of minutes. If we had been pushed for time, however, I'm sure we would have been at one of those junctions that ended up adding half an hour to the journey. Sensibly Kirsty ignored any further instructions from me after that and we got safely deposited to Gatwick Airport. Unlike Nafman, our previous Sat-nav system, the Tom-Tom seems to work pretty well and generally only has problems when user error creeps in. Like the time it tried to take me to Suffolk when I was attempting to drop a friend off at Euston station. It turns out that when I had typed in Euston to Nafman, I had inadvertently selected the Suffolk village rather than the London train station. (In my defence it did have the picture of a station-like building next to the name Euston. The building certainly did not look like it belonged in a small Suffolk Village.)

* What can I say? You don't expect hailstones in Bishops Stortford in July. I think even I would have been reluctant to have had the roof down.

** ElleGee's not Kirsty's  -  It's not that kind of Blog (That will probably see the loss of half the existing readership)

I also managed to have a huge fight with Tom-Tom on the Thursday before we came out to Sicily. I was returning from a business trip to Berlin and was using Tom-Tom to check for any traffic problems. It kept trying to take me off the motorway and even worse was telling me that the journey which normally takes just over an hour was going to take 20 hours. Without Mrs B in the car I took the opportunity to use some choice words, I can tell you.  I carried on the motorway route and although there were lots of roadworks there was no sign of any real problems. Tom-Tom, however, continued to take every opportunity to tempt me off the Motorway. It was only when I reset the machine, when I got home, that I realised that I had accidentally selected the "walk" mode, which accounted for the 20 hours predicted travel time as well as Tom-Tom's futile attempts to take the stupid (if somewhat fast-moving) pedestrian off the motorway (I thought these machines were meant to have an in-built intelligence? If it can work out a route checking millions of different roads in minutes  - at least that's what it informs me it is doing, while I wait for it to plot my journey - could it not work out that the pedestrian was going a bit over the average walking pace of, let's say, 4 miles an hour by around 2000%? In my book, anyone who can walk at 80 miles an hour should be welcome to use the motorway*** and probably be drafted into the GB Olympic team for the 2012 Olympics .....While I did not actually say sorry to Tom-Tom I did feel a tad guilty for the torrent of verbal abuse he received. It's just as well he has not got special parrot-like abilities to repeat choice phrases - I suspect Mrs B might have been having a word or two in my shell like if he did.

*** Let's face it, that's faster than most lorries, caravans and Volvo drivers go.

My sister had, as usual, got to the airport hours early and was already moving the tribe around the Duty free area like Moses taking the Israelites through the desert. I think they were on their 10th rotation of the shops and had eaten about three meals by the time we arrived (another few hours and they would have qualified for lost in translation status). Considering the relentless pace she was driving them around the airport, the kids and my sister's friend Lisa were still in good spirits, holiday excitement kicking in to cover the pain of early arrival.

Tune in next week to see how we get on for the rest of the holiday. In an attempt to draw you back and to try and make the Blog sound more exciting than it probably is I can promise you it will contain details of :-

The Mozzie Mafia;

My thoughts on Italian driving; and

Our attempts to train, in the scorching Sicilian heat, for the Triathlon that Mrs B rather foolishly signed us up for.....

To end this week I promised Douglas (from the US) that I would show some video from the last BlackLOG demonstraiting Zip wiring - So please stepforward Mrs B and show us how it's done. For those with fear of heights look away now...


  1. It was slightly surreal watching hailstones hitting BS the other week!

    Am looking to reading about the Mozzie Mafia - although apparently Jungle Fever insect repellent is highly toxic for kids, so I hope your story does'nt involve various nieces and nephews having to choose between either being bitten or sprayed to death!

  2. Imo - thanks for the tip I shall have to get some of that Jungle Fever Insect Repellent in, sounds more affective than an ASBO....


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