Its been a long time since I posted anything here and with today being the first day of 2017 I thought it was time to post.
2016 was a funny old year, from a personal perspective it was a good year, work is good, home life and family are good too, I had the holiday of a lifetime and with solar panels and CCTV added to the house the property value has been enhanced and I have no major health issues despite being morbidly obese at 27stone 2lb (380lb/173kg). I’m hoping that 2017 will be an even better year and last week embarked on a diet, in the past I’ve dieted half heartedly and had mild success but this time it needs to be for real. The health risks aside, the practicalities of life also demand it. Simple things like buying clothes that fit without using online specialists would be great. On top of that, the cost of clothing is high and most things look like a sack I’d love to wear good looking clothing again and I have a wardrobe full of the stuff too so it will be a no cost win until I hit my target weight of 15 stone (210lb/96kg).
From a political standpoint though the world is in a state of turmoil, Brexit came and still has no actual movement and now it looks like the UK vote has encouraged other EU nations to consider the same, could this be the end of the EU? Then we have President Trump, America is divided on this issue, I’ll admit that I’d not have voted for him if I was an American because he just seems so volatile, however at the same time I don’t think I’d have voted for Hilary Clinton either because I don’t think she is a much better option to Donald Trump. That means my two options would to be NOT vote or vote for the independent guy, Gary Johnson, both options are pretty much a waste although if those Americans that felt the same way as myself voted for Gary Johnson I think we’d have had a very different outcome. I really can’t see 2017 being a good year politically but we can hope and lets face it Donald Trump has set his own bar low already so the ability for him to make things worse than many are predicting is slim and he could even surprise us all should he turn out to be a good president.
2016 was a year of celebrity deaths, many of my childhood icons passed away, here are some of them:
- Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart, Radio 1 DJ & Crackerjack presenter
- David Bowie, singer/songwriter
- Alan Rickman, actor (Severus Snape in Harry Potter)
- Terry Wogan, Radio 2 DJ & TV presenter
- Keith Emerson, musician & co-founder of Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
- Paul Daniels, magician
- Johan Cruyff, footballer
- Ronnie Corbett, comedian
- Victoria Wood, comedian
- Prince, musician
- Burt Kwouk, actor (Inspector Clouseau’s manservant Cato)
- Muhammad Ali, boxer
- Caroline Aherne, comedian
- Kenny Baker, actor (R2-D2 in Star Wars)
- Gene Wilder, actor/comedian
- Jean Alexander, actress (Hilda Ogden from Coronation St)ut me where I am’.”
- Pete Burns, musician (dead or Alive)
- Robert Vaughn, actor (Man from UNCLE)
- Andrew Sachs, acto (Manuel from Fawlty Towers)
- Peter Vaughan, actor (Harry “Grouty” Grout in Porridge and Maester Aemon in Game of Thrones)
- Ian McCaskill, weatherman
- Greg Lake, musician (Emerson, Lake and Palmer)
- John Glenn, space pioneer and former US senator
- George Michael, musician
- Carrie Fisher, actress (Princess Leia in Star Wars)
Hopefully 2017 won’t be quite as brutal for celebrities.
I’ll signoff now and wish you, your family and your friends a great 2017.
So the Olympics are over and love them or hate them they truly are an amazing sporting spectacle.However, this time round I never caught the Olympic fever because of the overlap with my holiday in the US, and I feel guilty about that because I missed out on a lot of great spoting moments. So as my tribute to our sportsmen, women and animals that shed blood, sweat and tears during the past 4 years to make us proud to be British I’ll have a roll of honour here to celebrate their success
Gold Medal Winners
Silver Medal Winners
Bronze Medal Winners
The official medals table tells a great story of how Great Britain finished second to the all powerful Unisted States of America and Rio 2016 was, undeniably, an amazing Olympics for Team GB and whilst the gold medal tally is down one, from London 2012, overall we got more medals improving on the London 2012 tally of 65 to Rio’s 67 medals and improved our ranking from 3rd in 2012, behind the US and China, to that second spot.
But there are lies, damned lies and statistics and I realised that our little nation, or group of nations, actually did much better than most countries on that list despite our size and relatively small population. Then I got thinking about how successful we were per person and decided to check to see what the medals table would look like if we factored in population. the result is shown below.
The results are only the top 10 nations but of those Team GB rank top in gold medals with 1 medal for every 2.3 million citizens, sadly we didn’t finish top in overall medals, that honour went to Australia. Other countries leap frogged the mighty US team too, Germany, South Korea and France all performing better than the human resource pool available to the US.
However America still ranked 6th on the list ahead of the Russians, Italians, Japanese and Chinese who all performed statistiically worse than the Americans. The Chinese haul of medals looks impressive however their gold medal work out at only 1 medal for every 53 million citizens, which would give Team GB a lowly one medal. That really puts the Team GB performance into perspective, as we denied the odds and beat the world, well almost. Could we ever challenge the United States’ dominance atop the Olympic medal list? I doubt it purely because of their commitment to sports and their popultion being 5 times that of Great Britain but we’re closing the gap and hanging on there with our true bulldog spirit.
Today I’m back to reality, no more touring the USA at the speed of a rock band and sitting back at my desk for the first time in 4 weeks. No idea what I’ll have waiting for me and hoping that the lack of news from my colleagues is a good thing rather than a sign of impending doom.
Rightly or wrongly I have faith in Nada and Gary, who were left to cover me in my absence and only time will tell if the training and instructions left for them was sufficient for this confidence.
Today is the last day of my American Roadtrip. It will be spent counting down the next 12 hours waiting to get on the plane back to England.
A clerical error on my part means in 5 hours the car needs to be returnedalt JFK airport, 7 hours later we got which means the last 7 hours will be a slow passing waiting game in the airport. Hopefully we can get checked in real early so we’re not babysiting our suitcases for to long.
Our last day of sightseeing in the US was a lot more expensive than expected because of the tools on the route between Washington and New York City. Added to that was the fact that we got lammed twice with the $15 ‘Welcome to New York’ tax twice because we left the main city and went into New Jersey when we went to the Statue of Liberty.
Thankfully when we visited the weather brightened up as en route the weather was a little way as can be seen in some of the cityscape photos. Also on the way we as a very familiar name when we were near Baltimore.
Tomorrow is our last day and we fly home hopefully the folks at Delta won’t be interfering with our flight.
With a full day in Washington we had a overdose of American history waiting for us and decided to take a Big Bus Tour to help move us around the city conveniently. Sadly, a single day in Washingon is nowhere near enough to do everything so many things were bypassed as we wnet for the headliners and one of the many Smithsonian Museums.
Today we were making our way to Washington and along the route from Tenessee we stopped at the deepest caverns on the east coast of America, the Natural Bridge Caverns.
Today we set off early for the tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery which was 20 miles from our overnight stop in Manchester, TN.
We got there in time for the first tour which was perfect as we still had 8 hours driving to do to end the day. The tour was good and highly recommended the biggest surprise was seeing Jack Daniel’s killer, a safe…
Like our tour of the Bayou Rum distillery much of the tour prohibited photography which I don’t understand the reason for but they make the rules 😢.
We discovered that all Jack Daniel’s drinks come direct from the distillery in Lynchburg, TN and each bottle is bottled and packed by hand. Also, I got reminded that Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee Whisky NOT a bourbon. So take note.
In a lighter moment we made a pitstop in a McDonald’s in Knoxville, Tenessee and found one of the staff picking a pair of mansized underpants from the floor just inside the door. How you and up losing your underpants there I have no idea but it made Louise and I giggle.
As we left Knoxville, TN we got a little rainstorm which forced us to drive at 20mph for 30 minutes. We ended another long driving day in Wytheville Viginia ready to make our push to Washington DC and a third long driving day.
We left New Orleans and hit the road to Manchester, TN. It was one of those will days where we did nothing but drive so not much to report. I have included pictures of the drive over the Gulf of Mexico as we drove out of town and then our tea stop in Fort Payne in Alabama and my tea.
We ended the day in Manchester Tennessee ready for the Jack Daniel’s tour…..
Today was spent in Nawlins sightseeing maintain the French Quarter.
We started with the Louisiana State Museum that was essentially a Katrina and Mardi Gras museum and if that sounds like a criticism it isn’t it was very good.
This was followed by a brif visit to the Cathedral of St Louis which was OK at best but if you are religious (which I am not) I’m sure it would be a better experience. That said the architecture inside was amazing.
We then visited the old New Orleans Mint, which oddly was also a museum celebrating Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino, before heading off to the WWII Museum.
Today we left the deserts of the past week and into the swamp land of Louisiana as we headed off to New Orleans.
With a 6 hour drive and departing at 8am we had a chance to be flexible with sightseeing along the way.
Our first stop was to be breakfast but we couldn’t find anything except chains like Ihop/McDonald’s/Waffle House until almost lunchtime when we got to Lake Charles where we stopped at Luna Bar & Grill and enjoyed a rather fine meal.
After lunch we found a Louisiana Spirits a rum distillery and took their free tour and a few samples which resulted in us buying 2 bottles 😊
Whilst there we were tipped off about a Gator rescue place that allowed you to handle the baby gators and Louise was sold on that idea so off we went to Gator Chateau.
We finally arrived in New Orleans and along the way see a roadside as that made me chuckle as I thought it made the guy look like he had big square Mickey Mouse ears, maybe that is just my odd sense of humour.