Thursday, 27 December 2018

Approaching the end of the year. Bits of oddness!

Damp December makes its soggy way to a close. People around here make the best of it. I walked to Uppermill this morning - the baker there makes a very fine rye loaf - and as I tramped back along the rather muddy Donkey Line bridal path I saw loads of people out walking their very dirty dogs. One little dog was fitted out with a bright red jumper. Not your usual dog coat but an actual jumper with “sleeves” for all his legs. The owner said the intention is to prevent the dog from getting a muddy underbelly and needing a shower after his walk.

Such are the joys of dog ownership! A friend of mine in Vigo let me know that there are boat trips from Vigo to the Islas Cîes this weekend. Usually they only run during the summer months, with occasionally a special service for the Easter weekend, depending on the weather. The mild, calm weather they have been having has been a factor in the decision to run boats this coming weekend but the main reason is demand from tourists.

Apparently the city had an influx of tourists coming into the centre to see the Christmas lights. I remember reading criticism of the mayor of Vigo for spending too much on the lights and his justification being that it attracted tourists. It seems he was right. Coach parties have come in to see the Christmas illuminations. Some have stayed for several days. Hotels, restaurants and shops have benefitted. Who would have thought it? Now, I thin’ Christmas lights are all very fine but I would not go out of my way yo make a special trip to a city to admire them. And how many days can you truthfully spend gazing at electrical representations of parcels, baubles and Christmas angels?

No wonder they are seeking something else to do. And good for the Nabia company for seizing the opportunity and organising the boats.

Some other friends of ours have just recently come back from a cruise. They like cruises and have been on quite a few. This one was a cruise round places with Christmas markets. Like the Christmas lights, these markets are all very fine but is there really so much variety from one to another that it merits doing a major boat trip? Surely a tat-stall in Hamburg is not very different from a tat-stall in Oslo. Each to their own, I suppose!

In Greece they re contemplating the need to count parrots. Parrots are not native to the Greek islands but they like the climate or so it seems. There are now so many of the birds that the Hellenic Ornithological Society is conducting a Christmas parrot count into the new year in the hope of learning the extent of this aerial invasion. “It’s a very important census that we’ll be carrying out in Athens, Thessaloniki and urban areas on islands like Rhodes and Crete,” said Panagiotis Latsoudis, who heads the society. “In Crete we believe parrot populations have increased greatly in all major cities.”

Parrots do not migrate as a rule so it is thought that these are birds which have escaped from captivity and bred. I have seen parrots in El Puerto de Santa María, in Andalucía, where my sister lives, but also further north, in Cangas, across the bay from Vigo. And I am reliably informed that there are some living in parks in central London.

Are parrots taking over the world.?

Finally, from a collection of photos of things going on in 2018,  here are a couple of examples.

Gun toting christians.

"The gunwomen of Pennsylvania

Spencer Platt/Getty Images 29 January

This was taken in Pennsylvania just weeks after the Parkland shooting [in which 17 students and staff were killed at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida]. It’s a “commitment ceremony” in this fringe church, where guns are the centrepiece of their faith. I was on my way out when I saw the woman in the photo. There was something in her expression that was different – an almost religious bliss. It was surreal. Turn one way and you’d see an 80-year-old woman struggling with the weight of an AR15; turn the other and you’d see a young woman with a pistol in each hand. I grew up a 30-minute drive from Sandy Hook – the shooting that killed 28 people. I covered it, and I have a child, so it’s embedded in my consciousness. As a journalist you try your best to understand, but to see guns used in mass shootings being celebrated is a little disorientating"

And American nationalists.

"White nationalist rally.

Go Nakamura/Reuters 12 December

I was covering this neo-Nazi rally in Georgia and had heard they were going to have a secret ritual after dark. We all met at this bar, and were told they were planning to set up a big swastika on a cross and burn it. There was a moment when the organiser turned on me because he thought I was there for a leftwing organisation. As the torch was burning and the men were chanting, I got a little nervous – almost high on the adrenalin. It’s a frightening photo because most people, myself included, don’t realise these secret rituals still happen until they see it. I am not Caucasian so I was surprised at how nice the organiser was to me. He thanked me for coming. I don’t know why they let us photograph.”

I am once again convinced that some Americans are more than a little crazy!

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