Thursday, 29 May 2008

alain (de botton)

Alain de Botton raises some interesting points in his beautifully written book, 'The Art of Travel.'

He starts off by talking about anticipation being all-important. In the past my travel has involved booking, jumping on a plane and seeing what's out there. Of late, my well-travelled neighbour has planned/helped me plan trips. I've been stunned by the amount of work she puts in, and also stunned at the outcome.

Clearly, thinking about which parts of a city you'll visit, which attractions you'll stop off at, what the 'must do' restaurants and venues are and thinking about the location of the accommodation all help to ensure a fun trip, but most importantly they whet your appetite. She helped us plan a trip to Bangkok. The outcome was that I hated it and loved it at the same time. Interestingly the bits I loved were the bits I'd probably never have found if I walked in with my old 'let's see what comes' attitude. My impression of the city would have been quite different. I enjoyed the planning and the anticipation, and the trip itself was greatly enhanced.

Botton also talks about two different views of travel itself, both of which ring true. One is that if you're moping around and unhappy, you won't enjoy the trip because the fact is that when you go on a trip, you bring yourself with you! The other side of that argument is that on a trip you are out of your normal environment and your old patterns. You can reinvent yourself. Both views seem to me to be true.

Another issue he raises is the romanticisation of travel. We sometimes have wildly inflated views of the thrill of what we'll experience. When the reality doesn't live up to the dream, we can pretend it did. This is the approach that the French novelist, Gustave Flaubert writer of Madame Bovary, apparently took. Or we can reflect on our expectations.

I haven't got to the end of Botton's book yet. I'm too busy planning our European extravaganza. Only 21 sleeps left. Whoo hoo!

Friday, 16 May 2008

difference between a laptop and a macbook

I published the previous blog from K's Macbook and noticed a difference post-publishing. When I publish on my laptop the pics remain a reasonable size when you click on them on the blog. However, from a Mac-published blog, the pictures are enormous when you embiggen them.

Given that I've been in danger of tossing my laptop out the window on several occasions recently, I decided I'd never talk to it again and would use the Macbook from this day forward. Everything on the Macbook is in the wrong spot. I feel quite dislexic at times. Even the mouse behaves differently. I guess I'll get used to it and even figure out how to publish pics that don't require a giant screen to view them in their entirity.

trip to Fuj

We set off on an overnight trip to Fujairah last weekend and came home via Dibba. Some parts of the trip were sensational. The first pic is dried out palm fronds that have obviously been growing out of this ute!

In a previous post I mentioned the camel hazard on the road to Fujairah. They are likely to step out in front of speeding cars at any time. Here they did just that. The car in front of us stopped to let a camel by. It was just outside the town of Al Madam. Luckily we, and they, weren't going all that fast! Note the three camels on the other side of the road! Glad no one was driving in that direction at the time.

Building in progress on the outskirts of Fuj.

The beach scenery outside Fuj is pretty.

Sunset in Dibba

Mosque in Dibba

Sunset over an industrial area outside of Dibba

City in the sticks 1 & 2 (In Australian English 'in the sticks' = in the middle of nowhere!)

Houses in the desert

Friday, 2 May 2008

May day

May Day has a long history. I remember, 100 years ago when I was young, reading about girls dancing around poles adorned with long, colourful ribbons. May Day was a pagan celebration which, like many, was picked up and adapted to a Christian ritual. In my lifetime though May Day was always workers' day. There were marches through the city of Melbourne celebrating workers' rights.

The workers' marches began in the US in 1986 and soon turned into bloody clashes between workers and police. The actual catalyst for the marches though was an event in Melbourne in April of 1856 when stonemasons downed tools and went on strike for an eight hour day. They achieved their goal and battles ensued in other industries and workplaces around the globe. A speaker at the 1901 May Day celebration in Melbourne talked about 'the worker being an abject slave who was downtrodden and oppressed both by capital and the government.' Nothing new here! Another speaker talked about the 'abominable deluge of infernal rubbish' produced by the press. At uni, also a hundred years ago, I had cause to look at many old newspapers. The standard of writing was quite different, but in many ways it had an air of innocence. The 'infernal rubbish' produced back then had nothing on the 'infernal rubbish' we get these days. (How is Madonna these days? And Kylie?)

The 1901 meeting in Melbourne expressed solidarity in the aim of having industry owned and run by the people, to have fair wages for all and to bring an end to militarism. More than a hundred years later none of these things has happened.

I can't see it being in place a hundred years hence either!