Big Week In Spanish Sport

Big Week in Spanish Sport

It has been a big week (or so) for sport in Spain. Just over a week ago Rafa Nadal won the US Open tennis tournament. Last Sunday Spain won basketball’s World Cup by convincingly beating Argentina in the final.

Last weekend also saw Dani start his swimming classes again.

Really more of a social event where he can chat with his swimming teacher. When she is trying to shout instructions from the poolside he has also taken to floating with his face out of the water but his ears submerged. Almost daring her to jump in and slap him. Well she has my permission. Despite all this messing about he is getting there, slowly but surely, and I cannot complain. He is way ahead of where I was in the swimming pool at his age.

We watched the basketball final and it was a good win for Spain. The team you would have expected to win the world cup – USA – were eliminated in the quarter finals. Apparently the top 25 players in the USA refused to go. Were not interested. Work that one out! Although I suspect it has as much to do with that NFL (American Football) national anthem nonsense as anything else. Look it up online.

As for the tennis…

I don’t like Nadal. I really can’t put my finger on it. I just don’t like him. But I do quite like tennis as a sport. It must have something to do with it being a lot like boxing…. Yes, really.

On that subject: Dani has recently expressed a slight interest in boxing so I may find him some gloves so he can try out a little bag work. It is probably just a passing interest. A very short-term thing. I do believe that at this age he should try any and every sport that they want to. Then hopefully he will find where their real interests lie. Then it will be the right time for parental encouragement.

Fireman Sam – Update…

If you read the previous post you will know about this one… Over the weekend I read a newspaper article which discussed this madness.

Some years ago in an effort to increase the number of females enlisting in the fire service, the government greatly reduced the requirements for height and strength. Still it did not work. Not only did that idea fail spectacularly but it had an unforeseen yet natural knock-on effect. It has reduced the number of big and burly men who manage to get in. In other words it has increased the number of weaker, more feeble men now fighting fires. Who thinks that is a good idea?

Poor Sam – the Fall Guy

“When I grow up I want to be a fireman.”

Not the worst thing a dad could hear his son say, right? Not that Dani has even hinted at any future career.

But if he ever did want to become a fireman my son’s chances of being one are actually getting slimmer by the day. Welcome to another day in the crazy world of political correctness.

An old Kid’s TV Show

The kids’ TV hero, Fireman Sam, is being attacked for being to ‘sexist’. Apparently, the show (which is over 30 years old) is not inclusive enough. I first read about this the other day. Now it is out there in the mainstream media.

The story broke when some county fire service made the ridiculous claim that the show is ‘not inclusive’ enough. Fireman Sam must be ‘sexist’ as he is putting women off joining the service. Or so they say…  So guess what? They have stopped using Sam as their mascot; in the warped belief that it may be putting women off joining the fire service.

OK. Let me set the record straight. I know from fairly recent experience (watching with Dani) that Fireman Sam is just about the most over the top, bending over backwards to be PC, children’s programme out there.

Allow me to explain…

It is set in the tiny fictional village of Pontypandy. There will be similar places all over the UK and believe me they are no metropolitan multi-cultural melting pots. Why would they be? But when did reality ever have any relevance?

Firstly, there is and always has been a female firewoman/fighter/person in the ranks. Her name is Penny and wouldn’t you know it; she is portrayed as the most sensible and most efficient in the team. The team comprises Sam, Penny, Elvis and the station officer Basil Steele. So the fire crew is 25% female. In fact you could say one third female if you take the station officer out of the equation. Current only 5% of firefighters are female in England. So far from not being ‘inclusive enough’, Fireman Sam is some 28% above the national average.

And more…

Forget the female firefighter numbers for a moment. Even back in the early (stop motion) episodes Pontypandy already had an Indian family and an Italian Café owner with the incredible name of Bella Lasagne Yes, you read that correctly; but you don’t hear Italians crying about it do you?

In later (CGI) episodes they even had an Australian helicopter pilot – flying a helicopter called “Wallaby 1”. So, no stereotyping there then. Perhaps they should have made the pilot an Aborigine?

All this in a tiny backwater village remember. You really couldn’t make this nonsense up. I just laugh at it.

Back to the real world…

Imagine for one moment if your son really does want to be a fireman. If you live in one of these places then his chances would be severely limited right? Wrong gender and all that. It’s not good is it?

This particular county (don’t know, don’t care), it seems, won’t be happy until there is a 50:50 gender split in their service. Despite the fact that nowhere near that many women want to apply. Still, never let the facts and figures get in the way of deranged idea eh?

And let Fireman Sam take the hit for that… Poor Sam.

More on Trees

Following on nicely from the recent post about Dani’s insightful view on trees I received a couple of things from friends.

It seems these recent fires in the Amazon are nothing new. Nor indeed anything to panic about. No: This news item has been manipulated especially by certain politicians for their own ends. Nothing new there then.

A Couple of Articles

The first article talks about the French president attacking Brazil’s leader. A good article showing that the French leader probably has another agenda. … Read it here.

The second is from a different source. It discusses the (apparent) increasing amount of greenery on our planet. If true then things are not nearly as bad as we are told by our honest politicians eh? Even if it’s not true you still have to wonder why such arguments are not being countered by the ‘green’ lobby and media. That alone is suspicious at least eh? You can read that article here…

This second article appears to come from an impartial source whose only aim is to inform people from all walks of life, on both the positive things as well as the potentially harmful..

Who to believe?

Now admittedly some such articles come from sources which do not agree with the usual mainstream media (and hence our illustrious leaders). But when all we see on TV is one side of the story it must be time to look elsewhere for another angle. Otherwise we are just sheep believing everything we are told on TV. The truth (as they say) must at least lie somewhere in between. Unfortunately our kids are bombarded with a single view.

Personally I choose to believe my own son and what he said the other week. Certainly above anything the mainstream media or politicians tell me.

Thankfully not another Greta…

Although Dani’s comment was quite perceptive it was just a passing comment. Not a constant preaching. It really makes me wonder what is going on with that scary Greta girl. If you don’t know who I am talking about just google that name and you will find it. I can’t quite work it out. On the one hand it seems as if she suffers from autism or something similar. My first thoughts were that she is being exploited. Surely a form of child abuse right? Whichever side of the argument you believe it is clear that she is being used by adults for their own agendas.

I will gladly take my boy’s passing comments if that is all they remain. In fact I look forward to having more in depth and scientific conversations on the subject.

But for now I am happy, that he is happy, playing with his games. Like the one we just played. That old classic ‘Twister’. Played out on a so called “single use” plastic mat shipped all the way from China. Very  eco-friendly eh? Maybe I will buy Greta one for Christmas…

A Little History

As so often happens with these posts I thought I would check something before publishing. So I decided to find out more about the history of that Twister game. I would have said it was a 1970s game. Probably because that’s just how far my memory goes back. In fact it was invented in 1966. Far tougher to play than I recall too. I have just been playing it with Dani and it was like a bloody gym workout.

From School to Retirement?

It was back to school today for the little fella. His fourth year of full time 9 to 5 school. His first in the proper primary section. Naturally I took the day off work to take him. Just as I have for the previous three years.

It has also been a landmark week for two of his cousins. Little Stan has now started school. Uniform and all. While Emily has made that biggest of leaps into high school (or senior school as we used to call it).

All of them oblivious to the fact that school could well be a complete waste of time. The world continues to become more crazy as each day passes. At least that is what you would believe if you took the media at its word. But here’s the thing: Whenever I think about such things I come to the same conclusion. It was always the same. It always reminds me of that Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire“.

For Example…

Something in today’s news immediately caught my eye. Robert Mugabe the former president of Zimbabwe has died at the age of 95. Back in February 2017 I wrote about a “Dinner List”. A sort of bucket list/wish list of famous people I would like to chat with over dinner. Mugabwe was on that list.

While Dani is starting real primary school I can recall very well the year I left school; 1980. Mugabe became president of what was then called Rhodesia in that year. It is not that I ever thought he was a great person but he always fascinated me. How does a man take charge of a thriving economy – supposedly one of the richest countries in the world at the time – and turn it into a complete basket case. Its a bit like one of those huge lottery winners who end up spending (or losing) all their winnings in a short space of time. Only to end up back where they started. In Mugabe’s case he held on to power for a very long time and certainly did not end up destitute. I am well aware of his shortcomings (many would say ‘crimes’) but I have always thought that he would have made for an interesting conversation.

School, Work and Retirement….

When I started writing this blog I mentioned that I wanted to be able to express my hopes and fears for my son’s future. The way things are going these kids will have to leave school and work till they drop. There will be no pensions by the time Dani leaves school – let alone tries to retire. Of course they will be expected to pay into the pension pot as we all do now. But there will be no return on their ‘investments’. It is just one big Ponzi scheme (see below).

That said of course the kids need to get a good education. At least to a standard where they can make informed decisions and choices later in life. They don’t have to all strive to be doctors, lawyers or even engineers (oops). I am not one for pushing kids to follow particular career paths. It should be their choice. But having a decent grounding – which really has to include a good standard of education – is still a big part of all that.

Hopefully they will all continue to enjoy school and make the most of it. Trust me kids; all that work stuff can wait.

Ponzi scheme: For those who have never heard that term or those who have but may not know what it means; here is a quick explanation:

A Ponzi scheme is a basically a form of fraud that attracts investors and pays out some profits to the early investors (but generally only in order to attract more investors). The scheme leads people to believe that profits are coming from genuine product sales or other means, but in reality it is the other investors who are the real source of funds. A Ponzi scheme can maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as new investors continue to contribute to the pot of money. As long as most of the investors do not demand full repayment and still believe in the non-existent assets they supposedly own a Ponzi scheme could run for some time.

The scheme is named after a real person. A certain Charles Ponzi who actually became infamous for starting and running such schemes way back in the 1920s. Wow! That’s almost 100 years ago!

Trees (and a Certain Flower)

One of the tools used by politicians these days to scare the people is a little thing called ‘climate change’ formerly known as ‘global warming’ and now morphing into various even more scary sounding things such as ‘climate emergency’ etc etc…

None of it scares me though. And judging by a recent chat with my son nor does it scare Dani. I say ‘scare the people’ but one could just as easily say ‘tax the people’ eh? Well work it out for yourselves. Meanwhile this is what Dani came out with the other day….

It’s all about the trees….

We were talking about oxygen (for some reason – don’t ask why). Then Dani said: “Trees produce oxygen. The trees give us what we need and we give the trees what they need”.

A phrase to knock down any eco-loon. Well maybe that’s a little unfair. What I (and many others) call eco-loons actually do have some good points to make. Not least about plastics, pollution and the general wasteful world we live in. The real offenders are the “climate change” loons. They have little or no real valid points to make apart from trying to scare the younger generation. It is a thin line between educating kids and brainwashing them. Sadly the latter seems to be more prevalent these days.

What he had to say certainly took me by surprise. He had obviously been taught that in school. Basic photosynthesis no less. I have wondered for some time now; do they still teach that in school these days? Hats off to Dani’s school at least.

You certainly hardly ever hear the climate-change-loons talking about planting trees as a possible solution do you? All they seem to bark on about (no pun intended) is paying more “carbon tax” and taking away our cars. And now, most recently (in the UK) taking away the boilers to heat our houses. Yes. With no solutions and alternatives on the table this is exactly what they are now telling us. What complete and utter crack-pots!

Which brings me to that flower.

Moonflower in fact. Not the actual flower however – a white tropical flower also known white morning glory – but that great album by Santana. It is an album that I have recently rediscovered. I say ‘rediscovered’ because I still own the vinyl (double album) version which I am sure sits somewhere in my mum’s attic. I recently bought the CD version. Even that sounds out of date now. Kids today do not realise what they are missing though.

I am actually hoping that Dani discovers it for the first time. I play it in the background while he plays. One of these days he will pick up on it and ask who it is. Then he will be hooked. This album was one of those great sounds of the seventies that kept me going through that long flight delay saga the other week.

What a great album it is! Released back in 1977 it is a clever mix of live performances interspersed with (new) studio tracks. If you have never heard it, I urge you to go out and buy it. You will definitely not regret it.

This was always (probably) my favourite Santana album. It features a cover of an old 1960s Zombies number, ‘She’s not There’ – which I also still own on 7 inch vinyl. Other tracks include ‘Let the Children Play’, a live version of the fantastic ‘Soul Sacrifice’ (a track originally recorded on their first album) and the title track ‘Flor d’Lun’ (Moonflower).

Meanwhile…waiting for another easyJet flight…

As I type this post I am waiting for another easyJet flight this time into Malpensa (Milano). And guess what? Yes. It is delayed nearly two hours. Or should that be two hours and counting?…

Time for a little Santana maybe? ….

EasyJet: The Writing is on the Wall.

Oh; what a difference a week makes. Call it coincidence. Call it irony. Something like an uncontrollable event waiting to happen. A dam about to burst. Like a cry from the movies: “Look out, she’s about to blow!”

But first a quick apology. This is a long one. Much longer than usual. I considered breaking it up into two parts (as I have done before) but I feel some of the impact would be lost so please bear with me… Here goes… Tray tables up, window blinds up, arm rests down and seat belts fastened and visible to the crew….

Timing (as they say) is everything

I could not have timed my easyJet criticism any better. This week saw a widely published story about easyJet flying with backless seats. Here is a link to one version. (There are many just search easyJet backless seat.) The company themselves had to back-track and admit that there were seats on a plane with no back support – but of course no passengers were allowed to sit in them. The damage was already done however. And not by the story itself. No. I believe the fact that easyJet’s Public Relations (PR) is so lacking in ability that this whole episode has spectacularly back-fired on them. Firstly, they tried to say that the origin of the story had no basis in fact. Bad move for sure. It may have originated from someone devilishly bending the truth but the story (tweet actually) did have good grounds for being aired. If only because it made a witty comparison with easyJet’s biggest rival Ryanair. (Which was surely the point.)

Finding the right staff is a universal problem – more on this below. Does easyJet have a PR staffing issue?

Never say ‘Never’

If easyJet’s PR people can be accused of not doing their jobs properly – which they definitely did not in this case- then Ryanair’s PR team are the exact opposite. They never sleep. Strangely, Ryanair encourage stories like that backless seat tale. They seem to work on the basis that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Only free publicity. Getting their name in the headlines. Someone at Ryanair could surely be heard saying “Shit! Why didn’t we think of that one?” (Again, probably the whole point of the original tweet for this story.)

And so; my joyous time of flying with easyJet could soon be at an end. Although I am not expecting Ryanair to be any better. It just goes to show you can never say ‘never’. After years of telling people that easyJet were much better than Ryanair and that I would never fly Ryanair I have come full circle.

Welcome to that world….

The truth is that easyJet have now become everything they were set up to oppose. They are now the large airline that takes over whole airport terminals and on which millions of travellers depend.

There’s an old saying: ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Also known more officially as ‘the law of unintended consequences.’ Way back in the 1995 a young Greek-Cypriot businessman called Stelios Haji-Ioannou launched easyJet. Their main selling point was that the flights themselves were cheap. You had to pay extra for other things like snacks and drinks. It launched with the phrase “the no-frills airline” which these days has been overtaken by the more commercial and now ubiquitous terms like ”budget” or “low-cost airline”. He completely transformed the airline business. Blimey! This had a bigger impact on flying than the Hindenburg ever did!

At that time the target in their sights was not just any well-established (and large) carrier. The main target was British Airways (BA). easyJet revelled in slagging off their much larger opposition at any opportunity. They gloated at BA’s frequent delays and the general problems that BA encountered with managing such a large number of flights and passengers. EasyJet seized on any bad press that airlines like BA received.

They of course were different. You never had to worry about the complicated stuff with them. If all you wanted was a cheap seat on a flight then it really was “Easy”. Right?

Wrong.

Now Here’s the Thing….

When your company becomes that large do you really expect to maintain the same high level of staff selection and training? Of course not. When you need thousands of extra staff to run the operation (such as basically running a whole airport terminal) you can expect that some of them will not be what you are really looking for. But what the heck? You need bodies, right? Indeed with the standard of education these days I would expect that a fairly large percentage of applicants would be unsuitable…(an old dad’s dig at the current state of the education system there folks). And so it is. The evidence is clear for all to see where any large company tries to operate.

And so, to last week’s coincidence…

Following on from previous posts and the main-stream media latching on to the backless seat story, this happened…

Last weekend my flight with easyJet was delayed by over 4 hours. The reason – excuse if you will; the words are often interchangeable I have found – was that the captain noticed a strange smell just after we started boarding. I could have told him exactly what that smell was. “Shit!” Because that is what easyJet has become.

Now before anyone jumps to any wrong conclusions let me state for the record that in this case the real reason was ‘safety’. He was quite correct to raise the issue and the odd ‘smell’ had to be investigated. He was correctly following protocol. But that was never the real problem. Once again, the easyJet ground staff came to the fore. Probably equally to blame are those working in the background. The ones you never see who are supposed to be dealing with the planning and logistical operations. And finding the quickest solution to problems like this one.

Unfortunately for us passengers, it meant disembarking (without even flying) and being herded once again like cattle. We had already been left standing in a confined space (aka the boarding bridge?) for a long period. Then we were let out onto the ground. Some of us standing in the sun with no shade, for another long wait. So to then be told we had to leave the aircraft was a little too much.

Now; Milano Malpensa may not be the worst airport I have ever been in (I would need to think on that one) but trust me;: If you had to choose an airport to be stuck in, Malpensa Terminal 2 would most definitely not be it. Only one decent place to sit and eat and large queues for any other refreshment point. Packed – especially at this time of the year – and only easyJet flights. And being a safety-related issue the wait was bound to be long.

That ‘knock-on’ effect again…

It is every travellers’ worst nightmare. But even that was not enough. EasyJet saw fit to change the departure gate. Herded once again. Then left standing for yet another long wait. Even when on board (the new aircraft) there was a further delay. This time blamed on the air traffic control at our destination, Málaga. I couldn’t care less at this point. The damage was already well and truly done.

Interestingly, the ‘new’ aircraft I refer to was one already at the ‘new’ departure gate. Bound for Barcelona. So yet again easyJet decided to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’. Rather than have our flight even further delayed they probably swapped planes. The knock-on effect being that the passengers flying to Barcelona were now going to be delayed more than was necessary.

Despite running the whole terminal easyJet still do not have any spare aircraft waiting on standby. At least that is what all the evidence would suggest.

‘Traveller’s Welfare’ pre-paid cards – one of the things the airline is obliged to do….

Before all that however the ground staff issued every passenger with prepaid plastic ‘Traveller’s Welfare’ cards to the tune of 9 Euros. I received two such cards each worth €4.50. I had an image of a cold beer in my mind. But the only places I could exchange these cards for a beer were already crowded. There was no way I was going to be able to ‘spend’ these vouchers. I held on to them.

Then on the plane when the ‘Bistro’ trolley arrived I ordered a cup of tea and a chocolate bar. The total came to exactly €4.50. I promptly presented one of the pre-paid snack cards.

“Here you go.”

“I am sorry sir. We cannot accept these on board” came the fully expected reply.

“I am also sorry. Sorry that I could not manage to spend these cards in the airport. Not only is there nowhere or hardly anything to spend them on, but, where there is anything the queues were too long. It was virtually impossible to spend them. So, you can have them as payment for this little snack. Surely if they are worth four euros fifty in the airport they can be worth the same up here?”

“We cannot accept these on-board sir” repeated the stewardess.

“Well in that case give it back to me” I said, half the chocolate bar already stuffed in my mouth. “Because that is all I have.”

There was clearly only going to be one winner in this exchange. Guess who?

OK, a little white lie there, I did have some cash but who gives a f**k at this stage right? I had had enough at this point but had completely held it together. Seriously. While other passengers were becoming more agitated throughout the unfolding delay, I was totally calm. While others were chasing EasyJet staff in a futile attempt to find out what was going on, I was watching (and smiling) from a safe distance lost in my music. Never underestimate the power of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and other classic sounds of the seventies.

More irony…

As far as I could tell they neglected to inform passengers of their rights to claim €250+ each. Yes, that’s correct. Each passenger is able to claim 250 Euros in compensation for any flight being delayed by more than 3 hours. This is European law. Were they trying to sweep this delay under the carpet and avoid paying a full plane of travellers their due? Who knows? But it is fair to assume that they were.

I have already put in my claim for compensation and easyJet have agreed to pay me some £232 (pounds) – admitting it was their fault. The delay caused me to miss the bus I had already booked and paid for to reach Marbella and see my boy. I had to take a taxi, costing me another €80. Ironically, I booked a bus an hour later than the one I could have booked – if the plane arrived on time. The reason? Because I know full well that easyJet flights are now always late. For me there has not been an on-time departure for well over a year and I have taken two easyJet flights per week (sometimes more) in that timeframe.

Moral in this tale?

If there is a moral in this sorry tale then it has to be this:

EasyJet have become the very thing they were set up to oppose. They have morphed into a huge airline. So large that they have taken over whole airport terminals. They can never hope to attract enough quality staff that are clearly needed to make the operation run smoothly.

They have become what they claimed their former nemesis British Airways once were.

EasyJet vs Ryanair – Let the battle commence

Step Forward Ryanair….

Having recently felt the need to vent my spleen (so to speak) with EasyJet, I also made the comparison with that other well known budget airline Ryanair. How ironic then that I ended up using that most infamous of budget airlines once again…

 Using Ryanair…

A company I needed to visit in Italy is located close to Bergamo airport. It just so happens that This coincided with my weekends in th south of Spain with my boy. Even more of a coincidence was the fact that Ryanair fly between Malaga and Bergamo. Conveniently for me eh? Well, we are about to find out…

The flight began boarding on time, as advertised on the flight information screens. A good start. Unfortunately, as soon as I got on board I noticed the stuffy climate. There was hardly any ventilation. So, those who pay the premium and board first (so called ‘Priority Boarding’) – including myself of course – managed to soak their shirts in sweat. Quite uncomfortable. Everyone seemed to be commenting on how hot it was and/or fanning themselves while trying desperately to get some respite form the overhead aircon units. Not the best of starts.

But then after that once boarding was complete and the doors were closed the aircon kicked in and off we went. Ok. Not quite. There was a slight delay while “waiting for an air traffic control slot” – that well used, official excuse.

After that I tried to sleep a little. I must have succeeded as I managed to miss the in-flight catering service. What a shame! We landed about 20 minutes late in the end.

Conclusion?

Too early to say, but I do have a few more Ryanair flights coming up in the next couple of weeks so I will reserve judgment until a later time.

Taxi and Hotel

The real fun started when I took a taxi. About 6km from my destination the taxi suffered a tyre puncture. The driver limped the car off the road to a nearby petrol station where he attempted to get it fixed/replaced. This was not going to be done quickly so I sent a message to the people I was to be working with. They came and collected me within 10 minutes. Not before the taxi driver charged me 48 Euros however! The cheeky f**ker!

My company had supposedly booked me a hotel for the week. It turned out that this was at Bergamo airport! What? An airport hotel was the last thing I needed. Then one of the guys I was working with suggested I stay at Lake Iseo. It was much closer than Bergamo airport and a much nicer place to spend a few nights. He even found a place online and phoned them to check price and availability.

I took it. A small hotel in a small town called Sarnico, right on the lake. A better price, much closer to “work” and such a beautiful setting. And, importantly with lots of great restaurants. My first ever visit to the Italian lakes. Various people have told me in the past how they had loved their time spent in the Italian lakes. It only takes a split second to see why. This work thing can be just about bearable sometimes.

Meanwhile, in Italy…

I like Italy and sometimes think that I haven’t spent enough time seeing what the country has to offer. Many people compare Italy with Spain. They say it is similar in many ways and they like it for much the same reasons; Italy, it is often said, is like Spain but more polished. Like Spain might be when it’s finished (Spain always looks like some building or roadworks needs completing). Another comparison you may hear is that Spain is like Italy in many ways but has that added chaos. Or even that Spain has that ‘couldn’t give a damn attitude’. John Hooper’s book The New Spaniards mentions this. He suggests that this is what people love about Spain. The ‘mañana attitude’ and chaotic things that can make Spain so frustrating also make it such a fun place to be.

Which reminds me: John Hooper wrote a similar book about Italy called The Italians which I feel I must now read.

Green Eggs and Ham

Here are a few Bits n Pieces from the past few weeks….

Dessert and coffee before your dinner sir?

Before I forget….To follow on from the previous post – basically a moan at the declining service offered by EasyJet – I must mention their in-flight catering.

Normally I never bother. Either I am trying to sleep (on the early morning flights) or I have something at the airport before boarding. However, last week I found myself in the position of needing to eat something on board or have to wait a few hours. I was already hungry.

I looked at the “Bistro” menu on board. I decided to go with the Meal Deal. Basically for just under 10 Euros you get a choice of “main” course, a choice of snack (mostly sweet/chocolate) and a drink. The “main” course I asked for was not available. In fact, only one (out of about 10 so called choices) was available. The other two selections were straight forward. I ordered a Kit-Kat and hot tea. After serving me my chocolate (dessert) and cup of tea the lady informed me that my “main” course had to be heated up and it would take about 10 minutes. What? Are you kidding me? Why couldn’t you have said that before serving me my dessert and drink?

When did anyone ever go into a restaurant and have their dessert and a coffee before their main course?

Needless to say, that pissed me off. Another nail in the coffin for EasyJet – as far as I am concerned. Guess who will not be dining from EasyJet’s so called ‘Bistro’ service in the future? (No prizes for the right answer – sorry.)

Green Eggs and Ham

Speaking of dining. I went on a work-related trip recently to a small town in Switzerland and almost forgot about this one. Probably as my photos were on my old mobile phone.

When I saw these eggs at breakfast, I immediately thought of Dr. Seuss. It gave me the perfect photo opportunity. I just looked that up and it was written in 1960. Four years before I was born!

I am really not sure whether they paint them or not. If not, then how and why are they green? (And there were also yellow, and red eggs.) I meant to ask at the hotel but sadly forgot. Come to think of it; why would anyone paint the shells of a hard boiled egg anyway?

Dani’s Own Blog

Dani is doing his own diary this summer. Documenting his activities in his own handwriting. We have all tried to keep a diary and it can be difficult. This Blog thing is hard enough for me so I can only imagine what it is like for my son, a young kid whose mind is running riot most of the time. It is probably more accurate to say that he is being forced to write a summer diary. But still… he sometimes seems to enjoy it.

Although he may not always want to do it he certainly has plenty to write about….

Dani in Marbella

This time of the year most of Spain seems to be on holiday. Apart of course from those who work all August to serve and accommodate the holiday-makers. Usually it gives Dani (and his cousin Susana) the chance to spend time at their grandmother’s place in Marbella. Basically, that means spending their days playing in the communal swimming pool or on the beach. All the while getting more and more tanned. More on that one later…

For myself and Dani’s mother – and indeed all parents – August can be tricky. This year I have managed to wangle my flights in an out of Malaga in line with my work. Lucky, I guess – for once. Because this August, bizarrely, my work has taken me to Italy for a few weeks. Those weeks coincide with Dani’s stint in Marbella. That means it’s Italy-Malaga flights for his old dad.

And that is where the EasyJet-Ryanair comparison becomes reality….For more on this please see the next post.

 

Flying Problems – The Knock-on “Delay”

Regular readers of this Blog will know that my airline of choice is EasyJet. Maybe that should be my default airline. There is sometimes a choice but by the time you factor in my regular membership it is really not worth considering the other options. In any case when I book in advance EasyJet are usually as cheap or cheaper as their opposition. Recently however the EasyJet operation has become very poor. I have noticed the quality service decline rapidly over the past year and this fall shows no sign of slowing.

Before I explain in detail some of their issues I must point out that, in general, the in-flight crew are never a problem. I believe the real problem lies with the management and size of operation. To put it in simple terms; EasyJet is now too big and the operation has become something they always tried to compete with (and indeed criticise) when they started up. The management clearly struggle to cope fit the business model into the now huge size of their operation.

The “Delay” Trick

When EasyJet have several flights to and from the same destination this is what they do to handle a delay.
Once one flight is “delayed” they start to increase the new “estimated” departure time. This increases slowly until the departure time of the flight is almost the same as the scheduled time of the next flight to that same destination.

Then a delay appears to the following flight time. This second (knock-on) delay begins to increase until it is clear that the flight you were initially going to board is actually the next scheduled flight.

Meanwhile the time for the (official) next scheduled flight can be seen disappearing into the distance. That one too will become the next flight in the scheduled list.

When you finally board your flight (i.e. the next scheduled flight) they give you some cock and bull story about your flight (by which they actually mean their next scheduled flight) having been delayed some other place for whatever reason…

The reason? Well it is simple. If your flight really was delayed by more than three hours then they would have to pay every passenger at least €400. This has been EU law for quite some time now.

Much better that they put you all on their next scheduled flight – which will generally be within that critical three-hour period. They then need to kick that flight down the road so every flight gets impacted. Unless of course they can recover a plane or until any genuinely delayed flight finally arrives then they can slot it into that list of scheduled flights. Probably the last flight of the day to your destination.

This is how it works…

To better illustrate this see the list below. Times are just examples
(Example) Flights from Gatwick to Madrid.
Flight 1: Scheduled departure 1300
Flight 2: Scheduled departure 1530
Flight 3: Scheduled departure 1740
Flight 4: (Last flight of the day). Scheduled departure 1930
Flight 1 is delayed (possibly genuinely) and it looks like it may be delayed till after 1600 hours. EasyJet start increasing the delay times on the departure information screens at the airport until the (new) departure time is more or less the same time as (scheduled) Flight 2 – say 1520. When you finally board and take off however it is clear that you are leaving on Flight 2. Not Flight 1!

But your overall delay time is only 2 hours 30 minutes (max) therefore within the compensation pay-out timeframe.
Meanwhile – usually an hour or more after you were informed that Flight 1 was going to be delayed – Flight 2 starts to show a delay. This delay time increases rapidly until it basically morphs into Flight 3.

And so on… By the time the final flight of the day is due any genuinely delayed flight may have caught up or been recovered/replaced. At least that is what the airline hopes will happen. That way they will never have to pay out any compensation but will have delayed many passengers by virtue of this knock-on effect.

Should I Start Flying Ryanair?

The way this lot are performing I may well start flying Ryanair. Now there’s a phrase I never thought I would hear myself say, never mind write!

Maybe I need to clarify that statement. A couple of months ago I read a Newsweek article (link here) which listed the ‘15 worst airlines in the world’ as voted for by passengers. The list was the result of a survey by a group called Air-Help.
Ryanair faired slightly better than EasyJet; coming in at 5th worst. EasyJet came in 3rd worst. Although on closer inspection of the data EasyJet actually came out slightly better than Ryanair on both timing and “service”.

Well what do you know? I am about to find out….

 

What do Busy Airports and Father Ted have in common?

I am playing catch up again. I have been busy and have neglected my (Dani’s) blog posts. So here goes. Right off the top of my head and thinking back a few weeks…

Return to Madrid

We returned from Dani’s week long visit to his nana’s via Liverpool airport. By now the holiday season getting into full swing. The airport was busy. People seem to find money for holidays no matter what. In fact looking around the airport I was amazed how poor most of them looked. They may be able to afford exotic foreign holidays by many seem unable to afford any new jeans. So many of them waking around with holes and rips in their pants.

Fashion! (turn to the left)

I believe it is the fashion. I just laugh. Practically in their faces. I even saw a girl with big holes in the front of her denim jacket. Then as she passed I looked round and saw that the back of this ‘garment’ was virtually missing. Basically one huge hole. I almost pissed my pants (with no holes or rips I might add). I laughed aloud actually. Because it reminded me of my favourite sketch from that classic comedy series Father Ted. The ‘Dirty House’ episode to be precise.

Here is a youtube link to that sketch. Absolute classic. It makes me feel like having a Father Ted binge watch. Yet these people think it is OK to walk around in such gear. They even pay good money for it. In the case of that “jacket” she really only paid for a collar, two sleeves and the shoulders. To quote a Father Jack; What the feck!

Fashion! Indeed. We really are ‘the goon squad’ – as the legendary Bowie sang.

Dani managed to visit a beach in North Wales and go in the sea for the first time this year. The weather was that good. Sadly I have lost the photographic evidence. My phone packed in recently and led to a fairly long running saga – more on that one to come. Which brings me onto anther subject.

Mobile phones.

Why are people so transfixed with them? I managed with an old one for a couple of weeks. Without one completely for a couple of days.

I am probably one of those people who can confidently say they need one. I work away from my son, I work freelance and I am often in other countries. But I hate them. Yet it seems to me that most people (especially youngsters) who would rather cut off one of their legs than give up their mobile phone. What is that all about?

Back to air travel…

And finally – for this post. While we had a good flight back to Madrid I have had a few bad experiences with a certain budget airline recently. They have definitely fallen out of favour with me. This is just a reminder to write something about that… In the very near future…