Category Archives: Travel

Marmaduke Enjoying Utah

Marmaduke liked the wide open spaces.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

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Food on Friday ~ American

Foreigners cannot enjoy our food, any more than we can enjoy theirs.  ~  Mark Twain

Go to almost any town in the USA and you will find a Mexican place, a pizza joint, and a bar selling a mixture of ‘Italian’ and ‘English’ food.  If you’re in a larger town you will probably also find a sushi restaurant, (Sakura in St. George UT is pretty good),  and likely there will be a Chinese place, and a Thai restaurant.  Sakura in St. George has a super entrance doorway.

Is there such a thing as ‘American’ cuisine, or is it merely foods borrowed from the rest of the world?  I would aver that real American food consists of steaks, burgers, hot dogs, french fries, salads, and of course lots of bad cheese and ketchup.

On my recent US road trip I ate the best steak I’ve ever had, and didn’t eat the very worst chilli dog I’ve ever been served.  The quality of the food in the USA goes from very, very good to stuff I wouldn’t give a dog.

In the same joint that served that great steak, (White Mountain Mining Co, Rock Springs WY) I also had a truly boring salad that was 90% iceberg lettuce, and a baked potato that was left over from the day before.  On the same trip I also enjoyed a really good pizza from a place called Craftsman Wood Fired Pizza, in Placentia , Orange County CA.

In California, in the western USA in general, they also have a buffet thing going.  My friend and I had a pretty good meal at a buffet place in Primm Nevada.  On the way back to civilisation, Primm, just like every other town in Nevada, is totally devoted to casinos, gambling, and gamblers.  I don’t gamble, my friend loves the slots, and that can be a little annoying for both of us.  If you don’t like gambling, don’t ever go to Nevada.

The most impressive buffet I’ve ever been to, in my whole life, was the Champagne Sunday Brunch, aboard the RMS Queen Mary, in Long Beach California.  If you’re ever in Southern California, I would strongly recommend you take your girl there for Sunday brunch.  Just don’t eat much the day before, and make certain that one of you is the designated driver, (or book a room).  There is a fabulous cocktail bar aboard her too.

A few things for the unwary traveller to bear in mind when eating at a Restaurant in the USA; try to go during their happy hour, to European eyes places close very early, remember to add sales tax to the prices when you’re budgeting ~ and on top of that the standard tip anywhere is 20%, (and I hate that).  Don’t expect to be given cutlery, (Americans are like children and eat with their fingers), and if there’s a wait for a table, you can always eat at the bar, where it’s first come first served.  (I hate eating at the bar because brash Americans will talk to you while you’re eating.)

In bars that serve food the beer is generally pretty good, but the wine and margaritas can be of very variable quality ~ they will still get you very drunk.  The food in most American bars is garbage.

Americans can eat garbage, providing you sprinkle it liberally with cheese, ketchup, mustard, chilli sauce, Tabasco, cayenne pepper, or any other condiment which destroys the original flavor of the dish  ~  Henry Miller, American Writer.

All in all, eating in the USA is a different and sometimes unnerving experience for a well-mannered Englishman.  But then eating in France, Greece, Italy, Spain…  has its own idiosyncracies.  Close your eyes and enjoy the experience.  Some American food is fabulous, and sometimes the dining experience is even better.

Just don’t eat Mexican food…

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Cars for Road Trips

Nissan Rogue SUV

I’ve been on long road trips, (Tuscany, The Loire Valley, back to Tuscany, Exploring California, and driving 3,000 miles to witness an eclipse), in all kinds of cars; Triumph TR6, Lotus 7, Ford Mustang, and lastly driving from California to witness a total eclipse of the sun in a Nissan Rogue.

Although it isn’t always completely possible, the car should completely suit the trip.

And this choice of car comes down to where you’re going, how far it is, what’s the weather going to be like, what kinds of roads are you going to be driving , and exactly who is the girl riding shotgun.

For my recent trip I knew I was going to be driving up to 600 miles in a day, on a mixture of LA freeways, long desert roads, and mountain climbs.  Also I knew that the girl riding shotgun was going to want to feel safe, be comfortable, and carry an unconscionable amount of luggage.

There also had to be room for Marmaduke.

Ergo, I chose to rent a reasonable-sized SUV, and Enterprise at LAX could offer me a Nissan Rogue, which was vastly over budget, but my friend with all the luggage was worth it.

What’s good about this car?  It’s big enough for two on a long road trip, (swallows luggage with ease), it does good mileage, (we averaged 29 mpg, and that’s US gallons), it’s quiet, comfortable, holds the road well, and the engine has a lot of low-down power.  What’s bad, well, it was very over budget, and has some annoying blind spots.

Would I recommend this car to a friend?  Yes.  In a New York Second.  With definite confidence.  (Of course, you may find your dream car on a long road trip.)

Another important thing on a long road trip:  don’t have a girl riding shotgun who thinks she can drive better than you.

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jack collier

jackcollier&@talktalk.net

Barcelona

The haunting of history is ever present in Barcelona.

Despite just having returned from a four-week vacation in the USA, I’ve now booked flights to Barcelona, to see a very close friend.  I fly out there On September 26th, and come back to England on September 29th

The journey from Newcastle upon Tyne, to Amsterdam, to Barcelona, is about 11 hours each way, and the flights are costing me about $400.  Add in hotels, taxis, meals, and the like, and this will easily be an $800 / $1,000 short break.

Barcelona is a fabulous city, which I’m only visiting for two days on this trip. I ‘m going a long way for only 2 days, but what price on friendship?

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Is This The End of the Internal Combustion Engine?

Environmentalists are killing the planet, destroying the economy, and stealing your children’s future.

A bunch of rabid environmentalists have forced the British Government to announce that all petrol and diesel cars will be banned from the year 2040.  Nobody ever accused rabid environmentalists of being intelligent, or having any common sense.  Banning diesel and petrol cars, (or will it be all cars that have exhaust emissions?), has staggering implications that the officials, politicians, and environmentalists haven’t properly thought through.

In Sweden, Volvo has announced that from 2019 all of its new models will be either completely battery powered or hybrid vehicles.  There’s a couple of interesting points here.  Firstly this move will put a whopping premium on the price of all new Volvo’s.  And secondly, hybrid cars still have to have a petrol or diesel engine that will produce nasty polluting exhaust fumes.

Diesel exhausts are killing us all, allegedly.

Across Europe several major cities, (Paris, Madrid, Athens), say that diesel cars will be banned from entering their environs from 2025.  The Hell-Hole that is Mexico City has followed suit ~ ha!  The mayor of London, Mad Sadiq Khan, wants to ban Petrol and Diesel cars from London by 2050.

These headline grabbing moves will achieve absolutely nothing except to cost consumers and taxpayers trillions of Pounds / Euros / Dollars.  Banning diesel and petrol cars in the UK will impose vast costs on drivers for little environmental benefit.

There is no conceivable way that the British electricity generating and distribution systems will ever be able to provide enough power for all those battery powered cars, (and vans and busses, and trucks?).  Just where will all the extra power come from?  The back of an envelope estimate is that all these electric vehicles will add an extra 30 gigawatts to UK peak demand, and that means we would need 50% more generating capacity.  That’s equivalent to another half-dozen huge nuclear power plants like Hinkley Point, or another 20,000 wind turbines, (which only work some of the time).  I have no idea how many acres of solar collectors it would take to generate that amount of power, but they don’t work at night, which is when most people will be charging their electric vehicles.

The British Government says it will install a fast charging point every 20 miles on major roads ~ imagine how many holes in the road and road works delays that will mean.

The British Government are also considering slashing the maximum speed on our motorways to 60 mph, and what is that supposed to achieve except more fines from speeding tickets?

This all seems a bit rich considering that the whole man-made global warming agenda has been exposed as nothing more than a massive fraud.  The best estimate is that if all the trillions of dollars Obama proposed to spend on his Clean Power Plan to tackle non-existent man-made global warming was actually spent, then global temperatures would perhaps be reduced by 0.057 degrees Fahrenheit ~ one five-hundredth of a degree.

Climate change is a normal, natural, and perpetual process which occurs, and has always occurred, with sublime indifference to man’s puny input.  ~  James Delingpole.

There are a few inconvenient truths that politicians and environmentalists would rather the public didn’t wake up to;

  • Man-made global warming / catastrophic anthropogenic climate change doesn’t actually exist in any meaningful form ~it’s nothing but a fraud, a massive scam designed to give politicians back control over an increasingly independent populace.
  • There is no such thing as completely clean power.  Green Energy produces nastier and longer term environmental pollution than does burning fossil fuels.  Nuclear Energy is a case in point, look at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.  Wind turbines have a massively negative impact on the environment, are bad for wildlife, and a blot on the landscape.  All batteries are inherently polluting, expensive, and dangerous.
  • Switching to electric-powered private transport will require at least a 50% increase in electricity generating capacity in any country that tries it.
  • A vast investment in an infrastructure of new charging points to support all these new electric vehicles will be needed.
  • Electric vehicles cost a hell of a lot more than an exactly equivalent bike / car / van / truck / bus powered by an internal combustion engine.
  • Electric vehicles are less capable, and have a shorter life-span, (about 5 years), before major maintenance is required, (new batteries), than do ‘conventional’ cars, trucks, and busses.
  • There aren’t enough qualified mechanics to maintain the huge increase in the number of electric vehicles the politicians propose.
  • Disposing of all of the ‘dead’ batteries will require a huge investment in a recycling technology that, as yet, doesn’t actually exist.
  • The value of used vehicles powered by petrol and diesel engines will plummet, destroying the economies of the developed world.  There is a vast investment in lending to finance vehicle purchases.
  • Internal combustion engines don’t have to run on either petrol or diesel fuel.  Is a ban on ethanol / methanol / vegetable oil / propane / butane fuelled vehicles also proposed?
  • Are politicians also proposing to ban aircraft / railway engines / ships / electricity generators powered by fossil fuels ~ otherwise what’s the point?
  • If Politicians think the backlash against Hillary Clinton was an isolated aberration, they’ve got a big surprise in store after all this banning cars crap.

In my life I’ve seen some insane ideas put forward by politicians at the behest of special interest groups, but a total ban on the internal combustion engine running on fossil fuels has got to be maddest thing I’ve ever heard.  But then, politicians, special interest groups, and bureaucrats have never been known for putting much thought into anything.

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.  ~  Henry Ford

At least I have the personal benefit of being able to totally and completely ignore all this banning petrol and diesel fuelled cars crap.  Not only that, because I live in a democracy I can cast my vote in ways designed to discomfort the current crop of lightweight, insane, political pygmies.  (And that’s an insult to pygmies and the mentally ill.)

Meanwhile, the Lotus 7 is 60 years old this year.  Now that’s a great car.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

read about the Seven

Scenes on Sunday ~ Sand, Sea, and Sun

Life’s a Beach.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Scenes on Sunday ~ Santa Monica

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Liar, Liar

Never lie, never cheat, never steal.

Everybody lies.

Mostly that doesn’t matter one little bit.  Deep down we know when we are being lied to and we act accordingly.  Little lies are what makes the world go around.  Little lies are the lubrication in relationships.  Little lies are what keeps us sane.

I firmly believe that lying is wrong, but I also believe that, in the big scheme of things, little lies may not matter so much.

Big dark lies are destructive, damaging, and dangerous.

Big Lies Matter.

But everybody lies, and that matters when the liars are scientists, doctors, bankers, lawyers, judges, charities, the police, the military, the security services, politicians, prime ministers, and presidents.  Big dark lies by the ‘Fat Cats’, and ‘Important People’ ruin lives, affect interest rates, cause financial crashes, get people hurt, and start wars.

This is a nation that has lost the ability to be self-critical, and that makes a lie out of the freedoms.  ~  Joni Mitchell

Big dark lies reported in just one newspaper today, (Tuesday April 11th 2017), involve airlinesbankers, more bankers, politicians, more politicians and generals, presidents… And now, we are but a short step and a few lies from WWIII.  Take your choice of the spark that starts WWIII, the Middle East, or North Korea?

Clinton lied.  A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is.  ~  Barbara Bush

You would really think that a President would follow the example of George Washington and be unable to tell a lie.

Big dark lies by the people you care for ruin relationships, imperil your health, imperil your mental health, cost you a fortune, and lead to nasty things like alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, domestic violence…  A big dark lie by someone you love can kill you.  And, thinking your loved one will ever change and stop lying to you is nothing but wishful thinking.

Cheating and lying aren’t struggles, they’re reasons to break up.  ~  Patti Callahan Henry

If you catch someone out in a lie, what can you do about it?  Almost nothing.

The chances are that if you have caught someone telling a big dark lie it’s because you’ve been investigating them, for example by following their twitter feed, hacking their emails, listening in on their conversations….  and do you want to admit to that?  Spying on liars is almost as bad as lying ~ almost.

The only thing you can do about being lied to is know that you are dealing with a liar, and take everything they say with a very large pinch of salt.  In other words, when you know someone is a liar, believe nothing they say until you have got yourself some independent proof.  All lies, and all liars, get found out eventually.

Besides, leopards never change their spots, and liars don’t ever stop lying.  Catch a liar in a lie and they’ll just strive to become better liars in future.

Lying is addictive.  And, once a liar, always a liar.

Some liars are so expert they deceive themselves.  ~  Austin O’Malley

But you know what?  Once you stop believing the lie, it loses all power over you.  Once you know someone is a liar, everything they say is just pointless noise.

I’m sorry, what language are you speaking?  It sounds like bullshit.

Have a nice day.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Food on Friday ~ interesting side dishes

You like your potatoes more interesting?

If you’re unlucky side dishes can be really boring, even when the rest of the meal is fabulous.  None of these sides are anything less than interesting, and some of them are good enough to make a tasty snack all on their own.  So, what’s not to like?

I love the look of this recipe from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest; crispy oregano smashed potatoes with feta and lemon ~ wow!  Such a fabulous side dish that you could just eat this as a super-filling snack, (and oregano is such a great herb).

Crispy Oregano Smashed Potatoes with Feta and Lemon

Chungah at Damn Delicious gives us these great slow cooker cheesy scalloped potatoes ~ she says this crockpot dish is so damn easy.  Well, it does look so damn good for something that only takes 20 minutes to prepare, and then can be left to cook while you’re doing something else ~ like going to work.  It would be a great accompaniment to Chungah’s bacon scallops too.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Another potato dish, this time from Amanda at Chez Le Réve Français; cheese and onion potato cakes.  This very, very easy 20 minute dish would make a tasty supper as well as a much more interesting side dish than ordinary mashed potatoes.

Cheese and Onion Potato Cakes

Something different from Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower; cheesy cauliflower mash.  Allegedly this tastes like mac and cheese but has the texture of mashed potatoes.  Weird but nice.  Looks good for a 20 minute dish that would be an interesting side, snack, or something to take to work the following day.

Cheesy Cauliflower Mash

Do you want something spectacular made with potatoes?  Then what about these Tahini whipped potatoes with cilantro chili sauce from Heather Christo?  I bet these are some spicy potatoes.  I’d like to choose Heather’s Peking cranberry lacquered turkey to go with this.

Tahini Whipped Potatoes with Cilantro Chili Sauce

This is a spectacular dish for a romantic dinner for two.  From the lovely Alina at Passion Cook we have salad tulips, (aka devilled cherry tomatoes).  Pretty, or what?

Salad Tulips, (aka Devilled Cherry Tomatoes)

If you like green beans, then you will love these loaded skillet toasted green beans from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet It is.  Allegedly, these are the most unboring green beans you can get.  Not bad for a 30 minute dish.  Would go well with Jessica’s unboring bourbon fig + gorgonzola stuffed pork tenderloin.

Loaded Skillet Toasted Green Beans

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thanks ever so to all the great cooks featured in this week’s Food on Friday

all of these dishes be nice at a Champagne Sunday Brunch, say in Long Beach

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

peacefully pacific intimacy

P1030482

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secluded sleepy serene sunset light

presaging warm and tender nighttime

in love’s gentle arms and contented sight

and promises whispered soft, low, in rhyme

emotions adoring, congruent, pacific, so right

~

P1030451words and pictures by jack collier

jack collier 7@talktalk.net

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