Sometimes a photo says it all…….

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just stunning.....

Every so often NASA and the European Space Agency release photos taken from their satellites over the Earth. Some show how we are causing problems for our planet – others are just plain stunning – like this one taken over the Iberian peninsular at night…….

FIFA – totally out of touch!

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I will put my hand up now to confirm that I am not a fan of football as it is now – the majority of footballers are in my opinion over paid ‘prima donnas’ who don’t have the correct attitude for their roles.

Strong words, but I believe that the ‘beautiful game’ as some of my colleagues try to make me believe it is, has completely lost touch with the real man in the street. It is frighteningly expensive to take a family to a match – even in the lower leagues, the behaviour and language in the stands leaves a lot to be desired, and the players are an appalling example in many cases for the kids of today.

And today, just to add insult to injury FIFA (apparently ‘the wise men of football’) have decreed that the England team cannot wear poppies in their next match to show respect for the fallen in the two world wars and subsequent conflicts.

A spokesman for Fifa said:

“Fifa fully acknowledges the significance of the Poppy Appeal and the ways in which it helps commemorate Remembrance Day on 11 November each year.

“As a multinational organisation comprising over 50 different nationalities, the significance of this date will also be observed by many of its employees, who will remember family members too.

“Fifa’s regulations regarding players’ equipment are that they should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages.

“Fifa has 208 Member Associations and the same regulations are applied globally, and uniformly, in the event of similar requests by other nations to commemorate historical events.”

If I am honest – I have total contempt for that decision – but it doesn’t surprise me if you look at the recent ‘form’ for FIFA.

Hopefully they will reverse the decision – or England will refuse to play (fat chance I know). If not it is yet another nail in the coffin of ‘the once beautiful game’.

Rant over!

Spain is so clean!

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One of the things we have all noticed about our holiday destination is just how clean it is!

Every morning in Barcelona when I was out to get our breakfast croissant I passed street cleaners collecting leaves and rubbish – by hand brush and bag, not with big vacuum cleaners.

It was also very apparent that the Spanish don’t share the British ‘gum dropping’ problem. Their streets are clear of any gum (and it’s not because they clean it up – they don’t drop it). There appears to be real ‘civic pride’ here in Spain, and it makes a big difference to the overall ‘feel’ to the country.

As I sit here reading up on the recent events in the UK, and more importantly the comments from politicians about why they believe the riots occurred, I can’t help thinking that we don’t care much for our country or how it looks. All part of a much bigger underlying problem?

Barcelona – a great city

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Our week in Barcelona is at an end, Spain was a total unknown to us when we decided to come here – so how has it compared to Italy our previous holiday location of choice?

Well to be fair, pretty well! Barcelona is a great city to spend a week in, there is lots to see and the food and shopping (for the ladies) is excellent. Something for everyone probably describes it best.

I loved the Gaudi and other similar architecture, Sagrada Familia was for me an amazing experience and has made my week. But Barcelona is so much more; The people are really friendly and helpful, the Metro system is fabulous. It is spotlessly clean (like the city), and there is a phone signal throughout the system – will London ever achieve this? The carriages are also air-conditioned – pure bliss on a hot day.

The cable cars to the castle and the views from there across the city are spectacular, as is the view from Parc Guell.

I have loved the Tapas – a great way to eat, so sociable and relaxed. A real discovery was the Vegan restaurant, the food was amazing (and no I am not a vegi).

The kids loved the ‘one off’ shops – like Happy Pills, and wandering through the old parts of the city. The late lunch also works well with teenage kids who don’t want to get up early in the morning!

Any downsides? No not really, although I just don’t ‘get’ the Ramblas, it’s too busy and totally touristy – perhaps I am just getting old!

So all in all a very good week, a thoroughly recommended city.

We are off to a villa on the coast for the remainder of our break, we have a pool but may not have wireless internet, so there may be a short break on blogs (or at best they will be sporadic) until we return to the UK. Some enforced R&R which can’t be a bad thing!

The ultimate vending machine?

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So this is a blog entry requested by my son, Sam. He is like any male, easily impressed by ‘tech’ – especially if it delivers food and drink!

We came across this machine in a Metro station in Barcelona – it is a monster version of the small platform based ones (and I have to say rather impressive). It has an arm that sweeps across to gather your choice and delivers it to the door on the right – pure poetry in motion!

Sad to say we did not get to play as we were on our way back to our apartment and rather weary! If we pass it again tomorrow it may have to be used!

It’s the 70’s all over again

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One of my (older) colleagues at work keeps telling us all that things in the economy currently reflect the 70’s rather too closely.

Today yet another thing from that era has raised its head (albeit in Spain). The reduced speed limit. I (just) remember this from my childhood, 55 mph was I believe the maximum speed limit during the ‘winter of discontent’. The idea being to save fuel.

Not quite there yet.....

Spain has decided to go further, it is to lower motorway speed limits, cut train ticket prices and use more biofuel in a bid to combat rising oil prices. The maximum speed limit on Spanish motorways is 120 kph (75 mph) and this will be reduced to 110 kph (68 mph). A car running on petrol will use 15% less fuel at this new, lower speed limit.

This has been forced on Spain by the Libyan crisis which has sharply reduced exports from the oil-rich nation, (about 13% of the oil Spain consumes comes from Libya).

Spain’s energy supply is not in danger, but the national energy bill will rise significantly because of the sharply higher petroleum prices. Spain’s energy-saving measures will be approved formally next week and take effect on a temporary basis on 7 March.

The government will also order a 5% reduction in fares on commuter and middle-distance trains by the state railway system Renfe.

Finally, oil companies will also have to add more biofuel to the gasoline and diesel they produce – from the current mandatory 5.8% proportion, up to 7%.

How long before we see similar changes in the UK?