Where the hell did “furlough” suddenly spring from?

OK. Rant time. It was a rhetorical question. I mean, why is everyone suddenly using that word? Do they know what it means or are they just copying what they have seen on TV? And how many of those using it have only just heard of the word since this bloody coronavirus crap started?

Furlough?

Furlong, yes. I know what that is. It is 220 yards (old money for 200 metres). That’s an eighth of a mile. I knew that one. Anyone who watches horse racing would also know that. But FURLOUGH? I am struggling to recall hearing of it before this coronavirus crap. I am not the most verbose but I have usually come across words like this one. In this case though, nope!  

Come on. Hands up! Who knew what it meant? Really?

One dictionary definition states its use as a noun thus: Leave of absence, especially that granted to a member of the services or a missionary.

It is defined as being used as a verb in the United States, meaning : Grant leave of absence to. E.g. “furloughed workers”.

Oh no…. Ex-footballers using it!?

What caught my attention was not that it was being used in news reports (for over a month now). But that ex-footballers were using it. Yes that’s right. I am not saying all footballers, or ex-footballers are thick, but the ones I read of using the word actually are thick. (Not mentioning any names though). So I thought, wait a moment; what the hell is going on and why don’t I know what it means? Of course, I do now. Right after I saw one of those ex-footie players using it in fact I made sure I knew. 

Then I thought, how is it pronounced? ‘Fur’ as in animal skin. ‘Lough’ as in low (not high). It could just as easily be Fur-luff (‘lough’ as in rough) right?

Furlough House

Then I saw this place last weekend. Where did they get that name from then?

Furlough House?

Towards the end of the First World War, this building (opposite Narrabeen beach) was called Furlough House. It had evolved into a home providing permanent accommodation for ex-servicemen and their dependants. This is consistent with use of the word as a noun (see above)

America

Well truth be told, I kind of did know what it meant. At least I got it from the context but still wondered why it had popped up in normal conversation all of a sudden.

I think the word ‘furlough’ as a verb is far more widely used in America than the UK (see above). I also believe President Trump has been using it a lot, so now when anyone talks about letting workers go or laying off employees, they are using the word too.

Another one…

It’s like “flattening the curve”. All those dopey presenters on TV who don’t really know anything about the statistical mathematics of that curve just throw it into a piece like they seriously know what it means. They don’t! Really they don’t. Otherwise they would question its use by dumb politicians.

OK. Rant over… Just needed to get that one off my chest.

 

Budgy Smuggler Pale Ale from Nomad Brewing Co.

I said in the previous beer post that I like the simple beer can designs, but these beers looked so good I just had to buy them and try them. OK, it was more for the name than anything but still… here goes…

Budgy Smuggler Pale Ale

These beers, made by the Nomad Brewing Company actually tastes great. Refreshing and could be all you need on the beach – apart from your budgy smugglers.  In fact, just as they have advertised it. That is if they allowed you to drink it on the beach (which they don’t – see previous post). Nomad Brewing went into collaboration with a company called ‘Budgy Smuggler’ for this ale. The can designs are all based on real Budgy Smuggler swimwear. Two great companies each making great, seemingly unrelated products, coming together for these fun cans of pale ale. Private enterprise at its best eh?

The Nomad Brewing Company is based near the North Shore Beaches – some of which we visited recently. I may just get in touch and arrange a visit… That attempt to organise a piss-up in a brewery may yet come to fruition.

Budgy or Budgie?

If you are wondering about the spelling? That has its own story too, just check out their website (details below). It is hardly a new name for men’s brief swimming trunks. Not even close. I am sure my old nana (my mum’s mum) used to call then budgie smugglers way back. Probably as far back as the 1960s. I will double check on that…

The Budgy Smuggler company is based in Manly – home to the world famous beach. They have been making those infamous smuggling garments for over fourteen years now. Here are those four budgy smuggler swimming trunks. A snip (pardon the pun) at $55 per smuggler.

Available in the UK – and Everywhere (more or less)

The company even has a sales outlet in the UK so you can buy your genuinely named smugglers in Europe just as easily as here in Australia. Great news for those who may be interested in illegally trafficking that little native Aussie bird (so to speak).

There are so many designs to choose from too. For women and kids as well as men.  Oh, and there are plenty of other products under the same brand name. But I don’t need to go into detail here, just go to their website to find out more…

Website details: https://budgysmuggler.com.au/  and https://budgysmuggleruk.com/ (for UK)

P.S. Do me a favour…

If you place an order please be sure to let them know that you heard about their smugglers from this blog. Who knows? The blokes down at Budgy Smuggler may just offer me a discount. Well you have to try eh?

Time for a Beer

I think it’s about time I wrote something about beer. More specifically, beer in Australia. Even more specifically the craft beer and smaller breweries.

Aussie Craft Beers

 That scene is booming in most countries. It has been growing for years and there seems to be no end in sight. Which is great news for people like me who really don’t like the usual lagers and other mass produced brews.

I think the craft beer selection in Australia is better than the UK and Spain. There is a fantastic selection here and I have only just begun to scratch the surface.

What’s on offer?

My preferred tipple (of the beer variety) would be an IPA – that’s India Pale Ale. Something big on the hops and that smell. Or should that be aroma? As you can tell I am no ‘Real Ale Geek’ but I do know what I like. Australia seems to have loads of the types of ales I like. When the beer smells a certain way you just know it’s going to taste exactly how you like it.

As well as a glut of IPA beers there are plenty that are just labelled ‘Pale Ale’. They are not the same as the dull and often flat pale ale they used to serve up back in the 1980s though. They still have that distinct smell and fruity fizzy taste.

Pale Ale

This one is labelled ‘Pale Ale’ but tastes much the same as the IPAs – to me at least. Generally every Pale Ale I have tried seems to be that way. Basically, I like them all.

Flight Path Pale Ale. One of my favourites. (So far…)

IPAs

The India Pale Ales (IPAs) are generally a safe bet. I could just ask for one and would probably like it. That said, some are far more bitter than others. There is also quite a difference in strength across the myriad of brands.

Here are a few I have tried:

Balter IPA. Fantastically simple can design. Works for me.

Triple Hop Bomb. Nice one…

Pirate Life IPA. Strong and bitter. But nice.

As much as the beer itself I like the simple no fuss designs of most of these cans – or should that be tinnies? Anyway, there are many with far more complicated designs but mainly they seem to keep to the rather elegant artwork.

XPA?

This was a new one on me. I have heard of Double IPA – where they double up on the hops (I think?) – but not XPA. Apparently, it means Extra Pale Ale. I must do a bit of research in to that name. If anyone knows please tell me.

These are possibly my favourites. That extra floral smell and fizzy refreshing taste that I think would always be better than a cold lager even in the height of summer.

Here are a couple of those I have tried (so far):

Balter XPA. One of my faves.

Summit XPA, Session Beer. Yes, you could easily do a session on this stuff…

The Name & The Design Seem Perfect. But…

This was an odd one.

Beach Beer. BONDI. Really?

Great simplicity in the label. Tells you everything you need to know eh? Bondi Beach Beer? Simple right? That label immediately attracts you doesn’t it? Keep yourself refreshed in that hot sun while sat on that famous beach eh? Erm… Actually, no!

The problem is you are not allowed to drink beer in public in most states in Australia. In New South Wales it is prohibited in ‘alcohol free zones’. And guess what? Bondi Beach is one of those zones. Bloody pointless really, having a great simple yet attractive beer can design and calling it something that you cannot actually do with it. What the hell is going on in this country? Sometimes I wonder… But hang on… Let’s read that label again…

How do they get away with it?

Maybe if they called it “Bondi Beach Beer” rather than “Beach Beer. Bondi” it may be sending out the wrong message. Hmm… subtle stuff eh?

Is there such a thing as the Trades Descriptions Act in Australia? I bet there is. They will have very similar laws to the UK here. If so, then this beer gets a bit close to being illegal just by its name alone.

How can a bottle shop (off-licence/liquor-store) sell a can of this beer just around the corner from the beach itself, when you can’t actually drink the stuff on the beach? Beats me. Right now it’s a moot point as still nobody is allowed on the beach – as such.

Not much info on that beer can eh? Well if you turn it around it actually claims to be an XPA. But to me it tasted more like a lager mixed with a pale ale. Almost like a VB (Victoria Bitter, a ubiquitous, lager-like brew in Australia). Nothing special. All in all, a little disappointing.

It claims to be an XPA

Back to the beer tasting…

Well with so many other craft ales to try I had better crack on… More beer updates later…Cheers for now.

Rufous Net Casting Spider

Hello, who is this four legged fella? Is that a spider with only four legs? I always thought spiders had eight legs.

Four Legged Spider?

Yes it’s a spider…

Well actually some spiders when resting keep their legs in pairs. Although you have to look damn close to see that there are four pairs of legs. Apologies, in this photo I did not get quite close enough to allow that kind of zoom.

Net Casting Spider

Dani spotted this one on a wall near his school as we were walking home. It turns out that there are quite a few spiders that lie like this.

This one is called the Rufous net casting spider. One of several net casting spiders. This type of spider has a unique way of catching their prey. They make a small web in the form of a net held by the front legs that can be stretched out wide to envelop an unwary insect passing by. I got this photo from the “web” – pun fully intended.

Spider with net (from the “web”)

This spider is very common in Australia and apparently in New Zealand. Although not harmful to humans it still looks a bit scary right? Australia is known for having some very frightening spiders – mainly the funnel-web and red back. But it turns out that there are anti-venom injections available for the bites of these two notorious arachnids. So even these can no longer kill a human. 

Dani seems to have a knack of spotting spiders even the tiniest ones. In this case I am glad he did. It’s always good to learn new things about nature. 

Does Your Kid Wannabe a Youtube Superstar?

Guess what my six year old son said to me the other day?

“Dad. I want to be a Youtube superstar.”
“WHAT?!!”

Yes; he meant it. At least for a short while. And whenever I bring it up again actually. This is how kids are today. Totally influenced by things like Youtube and Instagram (whatever that is) and who knows what else.

Teenage Aspirations

I have heard of teenagers in their final years of school who really think that is what they can do when they leave school. This genuinely is the limit of their aspirations in more than a few cases. ‘I want to be a youtuber’…. ‘I want to be an Instagram Influencer’ (whatever the f*ck that is!)
Really? Well why the hell aren’t you already doing it now? would be my argument. They can already operate a PC and they know how to record videos on their phones; so what is stopping them? The truth is that they really cannot be bothered. And they will not be bothered doing anything with their lives in the immediate future. At least for a few years. Most will eventually wake up to reality. Sadly quite a few will not. Many will drift through some form of higher education until they realise they have wasted another 3 or 4 years of their lives. 

Anyway, when did real career aspirations disappear? Whatever happened to “I want to be a nurse” or “I want to be a carpenter”, or even “I want to work for the council”?

Back in the Day…

When I was his age we used to play outside as much as we could. Football, cricket, fishing or on our bikes. Although we also tried to watch the TV as much as possible even though there were only three channels and one of those was rubbish. That used to annoy our parents back in the day. We never ended up with square eyes though did we? So we must have got out a fair bit then?

Definitely Worse Today…

I guess using the iPad watching Youtube “stars” videos is not much worse than watching crap on TV. Or is it? I guess my grandparents would have said the same thing about that one-eyed box invention the television. ..

Sometimes I think it really is much worse. He watches all sorts now. Even though there are control settings etc… He can now read and write well enough to search for videos online. Before you know it he has watched them and comes to ask about them.

“Where the hell did you know about that from?”
“A youtube video (laughs)”
“What?”

And then we have to take it off him. It shouldn’t be like that but in these days of (anti) social media it is a bit of a mine-field out there.

True Story to put this Coronavirus thing into Context.

Here’s a true story to put all this coronavirus rubbish into context.

My Dad’s Uncle

My grandmother’s brother was called Ernest Hughes. He was my dad’s uncle. My great-uncle. Dani’s great-great-uncle.

In 1989 he was consulted about events towards the end of the second world war in which he was one of 1300 prisoners being shipped to Japan to work as slave labour for the ailing Japanese war effort. On the way to Japan the ship was sunk by an American submarine and only 104 made it off the ship. Even then the ordeal was not over as the Japanese refused to pickup any of the Allied forces. He spent five days in a tiny boat being baked by the sun and with sharks ever present, looking for an easy meal.

The Film

The reason he was consulted about all this is because in that year they made a film called “Return from the River Kwai.” I remember my dad telling me about this many years ago. Then my sister dug up the newspaper article (see below) while doing some family tree research. You can read the article in full below. I had never seen it until now but I found the whole film available on Youtube – link here. Please watch it. It is not a sequel to the fantastic “Bridge over the River Kwai” but it is related to the events that followed, specifically the shipping of slave labour to Japan.

He had nightmares about his ordeal and the treatment he and many others received at the hands of their Japanese captors. As a result he never had anything of Japanese origin in his house. Not an easy thing for many post war years – as Japan was much like China is now producing much of the cheap stuff that we don’t really need but buy anyway because it so cheap. I can actually remember that his sister – my grandmother – was the same, and would not tolerate Japanese products in her house.

So what’s the link with today?

Well, there are three things that spring immediately to mind for me when reading this true story:

  1. The anti Japanese sentiment in the newspaper article would never be printed today. It would simply be edited out. Leaving the story largely incomplete.
  2. We should all being doing something similar now and avoiding anything made in China  in the aftermath of this coronavirus nonsense. It is not just because of the origin of the virus or even that they covered it up. It is more to do with being self-reliant and not being economically controlled – and bullied – by China; something that is only going to get worse unless we become more independent. We really do not need most of the things made there, and there are alternatives. This is something we can all do without leaving it to the useless politicians.
  3. Finally, and this one really struck me the moment I read the article: This really shows what a bunch of pathetic bed-wetters people have become. While people like my great-uncle went through serious ordeals and saw fellow soldiers starved and tortured to death, so many people today are hiding behind the sofa frightened of catching a glorified cold. For me that really puts this current situation into perspective.

The Article

The Book

The film is based on the book of the same name written by Ex-US submariner Clay Blair Jr and his wife Joan. They travelled to the UK and Australia to interview survivors. The book is a true account of the prisoner’s lives under the Japanese while the film is a suitably sanitised Hollywood version of events. The film was OK, but I feel I must now read the book.

 

Palm Beach – aka Summer Bay

Today’s trip took us to a place that more people probably know of by its TV name. This is Palm Beach also known as Summer Bay – to fans of the TV soap opera ‘Home and Away’.

Palm Beach and the TV Soap Opera

This is a beautiful spot. Although very crowded today being a Sunday. The amount of ‘essential travel’ never ceases to amaze me around Sydney. The roads were full of them. How do these roads cope without a virus lockdown?

There are probably more people in the UK that watch Home and Away than there are Australians. Now there’s a scary thought eh? I have seen it a couple of times but that would have been many years ago. I knew it was filmed somewhere near Sydney but have never been a fan of the show so not particularly interested in this place for the TV show. This is just a really nice little area with a real village feel. And of course the beaches and scenery are fantastic.

Palm Beach (south)

Palm Beach (north)

About an hour drive north of the city centre (traffic allowing) this time past Narrabeen beach to the tip of Barrenjoey Head. If you stay on the east coast from Sydney this is as far north a you can go. Then you hit the Hawkesbury River and series of bays and headlands. Geographically similar in some ways to Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). They do Hawkesbury river cruises/trips. At least when allowed to. I would like to take one of those.

Station Beach (aka Summer Bay)

The Boathouse. Aka Alf’s place (apparently)

Pittwater  and Palm Beach 

The actual bay on the TV soap opera is Pittwater. Calm waters with Station beach and Barrenjoey beach sitting either side of The Boathouse cafe/restaurant (Alf’s in the TV show).

Pittwater – aka ‘Summer Bay’

Palm Beach is the ocean side of this headland. Rust coloured sand almost like Narrabeen beach. Popular with surfers and busy enough.

Dani evened the score with the Pacific Ocean – or so he says. This time he was a lot more wary… Basically staying well away from any big waves. All waves!

Long Reef Point

On the way back we stopped at Long Reef Point where Dani was in awe of a para-glider who was swooping up and down like a bird on the cliffs overlooking Dee Why beach and beyond.

All in all, another interesting exploration in to the northern beach areas of Sydney. The only downside was that the Barrenjoey lighthouse was closed off. We were not even allowed to walk up to it. The views from there would have been fantastic.

Dani at Long Reef Point

Overlooking Dee Why Beach

 

Dani vs Pacific Ocean: Who wins?

Today is this old dad’s birthday so we went for a quick (half) day trip to the North Shore. Narrabeen Beach to be exact. Our first time in this northern part of Sydney. Very nice I must say.

Narrabeen

It was only a quick look at this part of Sydney but we will be back again soon. We did manage to have our first meal inside a restaurant (more like a café) for eight weeks. Eight weeks !!!! Where did that time go?

After seeing the waves from the promenade, Dani insisted on going on the beach even though we didn’t have the right gear. There was no way he was leaving before he had faced the ocean waves. And there were some big ones…

Question

Who would win a fight between Dani and the Pacific Ocean?

Let’s see…

He came up laughing and it certainly made me laugh. Best birthday present ever!

Virtual Beggar – A Crazy Video Game

Virtual Beggar? What the f#*k?

Apparently this low resolution video game has been around over a year. Who knew? Not me.  But recently I caught my son playing it. I wasn’t shocked but it is one of those things that at least makes you roll your eyes to the sky. As if to say ‘whatever will they think of next?’

Actually I think it quite funny. But only because I can see through it and clearly can see that it was made by people who clearly knew they were just taking the piss.

It goes something like this…

You play some unshaven street beggar hanging around on the street, outside a motel or whatever.  Passers-by throw money your way and you try to collect as much as possible. When you have enough money (don’t ask for details) you then move on to the next step – Investing your begged money.

You invest in buying hotels etc and then make more money. Then you spend it all. Yes, the aim is to spend it all! Then you need to go back to begging on the street. Hilarious. Right?

It even gives you option to move towns. Presumably when you have exhausted the good nature of the original town’s bleeding heart citizens. Crazy. Have begging bowl, will travel.

The Game

The graphics are deliberately retro. Old fashioned pixelated figures, like that mine-craft rubbish kids seem to love.

The game is advertised as having four simple steps:
Step 1: Make Money (meaning, beg for it on the streets)
Step 2: Invest it.
Step 3: Spend it all (really ALL)
Step 4: Repeat (i.e. go back to begging, because you have spent all your money)

You can even spend some of the money you make begging to buy things like a puppy. Because beggars with a cute little puppy get more money thrown at them. How mad is that? The whole thing turns into a rags to riches story until you spend (waste) all your money on private jets, mansions – you name it – and end up back where you started. Totally insane. You have to laugh; or you would cry.

What do you think?

Frivolous? Yes. Stupid? Yes. Setting a bad example? Yes. It ticks all those wrong boxes but still made me laugh. It is just the crazy fact that you can do almost anything now and it can become popular and make money. Especially where these bloody video games are concerned.

Unsurprisingly, the attraction of this stupid but simple game is easy to see. Dani loves it. But he does realise that it is only a daft game.

We Are All in this Together. Really?

There’s a storm. A coronavirus storm. A shit-storm you might say. The politicians keep telling us, “We are all in this together”. Really?

Then let’s get people back to work. Let’s open the bars so people can go to the pub – which should be a human right in places like the UK and Australia!

Easing Restrictions in NSW

In New South Wales this week they are “easing the restrictions”. But this is what they are doing:

Religious gatherings and places of worship can now welcome up to 10 people while restaurants and cafes are allowed to have up to 10 patrons at a time as long as they maintain social distancing.
A total of 10 guests are allowed at weddings and up to 20 people at indoor funerals and up to 30 at outdoor funerals.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet confirmed this week pubs and clubs will join cafes and restaurants in being able to open for dining from Friday as part of the state government’s push to boost the economy.
The NSW announcement came after the national cabinet recommended excluding pubs and clubs.
Bars and gaming facilities will remain closed but table service for alcohol with a meal will be allowed so long as businesses adhere to social distancing requirements and stick to a limit of 10 patrons.
Takeaway services will continue as before.

Takeaway services eh? If there was ever a way to spread a disease (if it really was rampant) then this would be it. I have mentioned this one before – with reference to ‘Typhoid Mary’ (click here) – but something struck me the other day. Pizzas and pies may be OK. Piping hot out of the oven and not even handled as they are dropped into packaging to take away. But around Sydney there are just as many (maybe more) places selling sushi. Yes sushi! It is hand rolled, uncooked and passed on to the consumer. As far as I could tell none of them have ever closed during this plannedemic.

Workers representatives stopping people working?

Meanwhile back in the UK unions are trying to prevent a return to work for teachers. (And other groups.)

These days Many can do their jobs from home but if their kids are there it really isn’t an option. Working at home with kids in the house is virtually impossible. So why the hell aren’t the schools opening? Why should the unions, who are supposed to stand up for “working” people, be allowed to stop people “working”? Of course these union ‘leaders’ will not be losing a penny in all this shutdown crap. They are alright.

Not only that but the kids need to get back to school for all the obvious reasons. Otherwise why not just shut them forever more? At least in Australia they have tried to do the right thing with the schools.

All in this together?

There has not been a pandemic in Australia. Nor even an epidemic. Now it is (normal) flu season so any deaths will probably be counted as the second coming of the coronavirus. Yet the politicians are loving being in the spotlight. As if they are saving the earth form an alien invasion. Lapping it up while their jobs are safe. Their pensions are guaranteed. Their expenses will still be getting paid. Meanwhile other workers will lose their jobs and many private businesses will close.

We may all be in the same storm, but we are definitely not all in the same boat.