Saxo-phoney

My introduction to saxophones is probably a bit different than most. A couple years ago I bought a saxophone in India with beautiful red leather pads. It was quite expensive one £30 and a fake pair of Oakley sunglasses. I hung it on the wall and thought one day when I have the time I will learn to play it. This summer I was going to rural France for a few months and thought I’d take it with me and start to play. All went well at first and I could manage a few tunes but soon realised that I could not get all the notes. A few repairs were made with cork from wine bottles of which there was no shortage and that seemed to improve it. Or it might have been that my judgement was impaired in the sourcing of the cork. Anyway I never managed to get it to function properly and decided to take it to the repairman when I return to the UK. Upon which he informed me that it wasn’t a saxophone I had but more of a saxo phoney.

Now finding myself short of a saxophone the research started. I checked out The three main categories on E-Bay, I intended to take it up but never got round to it and put it on the on top of the wardrobe for 12 years, it has been on the school bus, and well used needs a bit of TLC. These old horns were frequently for sale for more than the cost of the same one new today. Looking round the reviews I noticed the Jericho was being strongly tipped as a good buy. One review on taming the saxophone tried a number of alto Saxes starting with the Jericho which I fancied at the time. The next one was the Bauhaus Walstein Bronze Alto Saxophone AS-PD I was impressed and the focus my attention changed to this model even though it didn’t have lovely red leather pads.

Looking round the Internet the average price was £699 the highest price was £799. The lowest price was The Sax Shack at £549. They were very helpful and the service was spot-on. I have been managing to practice for more than an hour each day and things are coming along fine. I do intend to take some lessons when I feel I’ve familiarised myself with the instrument sufficiently. Clearly I am in my post red leather pad period or is it post traumatic red leather period.

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The Golden Triangle tour of North India

We have just arrived back in Goa from a Golden Triangle tour of Northern India. The Golden triangle consists of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Many famous world heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal are in this triangle. The simplest way to tour is by car so you need to find a reliable agent who will book your hotels and provide a good driver with a comfortable air conditioned car. Concierge service of this nature is comparatively inexpensive in India. We used www.rareholidays.com and I can recommend them highly. Shantanu Roy from Rare Holidays was very helpful and made sure we had everything we needed.

The Taj Mahal Agra

The Taj mahal Agra

This is by far the safest way to travel. A good driver can translate, negotiate with traders and protect you from touts.  It’s up to you to decide where you would like go for how long and in what order. Most two star hotels in India are basic but adequate but it is the choice of the individual depending on needs and budget.

Humayun's Tomb Delhi

Humayun’s Tomb delhi

The temperature in Northern Indian cities can be 40 degrees C. this time of year (April) so viewing sites in midday sun was thirsty work. We set ourselves a hectic pace but it was worth the effort to see and photograph so many iconic world sites.

Jal Mahal lake palace Jaipur India

Jal Mahal lake palace Jaipur India

A young boy driving a camel cart in Agra

A young boy driving a camel cart in Agra

Travelling by cycle rickshaw in Delhi

Travelling by cycle rickshaw through the market in Delhi

The man that took us worked very hard cycling us round delhi.

 

 

 

 

 

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Queen Mary 2 visits Liverpool.

The Queen Mary 2 visited Liverpool on September the 15th for one day. It arrived at 11am and left on the evening tide.

QM2 arrives 2011

Queen Mary 2 is a transatlantic ocean liner. She was the first major ocean liner built since Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969, the vessel she succeeded as flagship of the Cunard Line.

On 1 December 2011 Queen Mary 2 and the other ships of the Cunard fleet will change their registry to Hamilton Bermuda in order to host weddings on board,  thus ending 127 years of Cunard British registry. The word “Southampton” across the stern will be replaced by “Hamilton”

Fireworks for the leaving of QM2 2011

 

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Tigers in Goa

Tiger resting in the shade at Bondla wildlife sanctuary India.

Tiger resting in the shade  at Bondla wildlife sanctuary India.

From around 40,000 at the turn of the last century, there are just 1411 tigers left in India. What started as a Royal Sport during the olden times is now a target of poaching and depleting habitat in the rest of India. Now India’s national Animal is fighting for its life. Poaching of prey-base animals like the Barking Deer, Sambar Deer, Mouse Deer, and wild Boar is not a new story for villagers staying on the fringes of forest sanctuaries in Goa. They routinely set traps and hunt animals with illegal guns. Snares like wire traps are used to catch the animal and it was the case of the tiger walking into a wire trap laid by the villagers for a deer. What followed was most barbaric. If in China and some other parts of India, the wild cat which is also the national animal of India, is poached for its body parts and skin to cater to an illegal market, in Goa the poachers had no such plans, so they shot dead the injured tiger and allowed its carcass to rot.

The last wildlife census confirmed the presence of five tigers in Goa, the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Shashi Kumar, says that tigers are not there in Goa, which is not true. The state government wanted to cover up the tiger killing at the behest of the highly influential mining industry in Goa, according to reports. The implication of a tiger reserve in Goa is difficult to accept for everyone, especially to the mining lobby who are not interested in sustaining the forest they are interested in sustaining mining.

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Se’ Cathedral and the Church of St Francis of Assisi Old Goa, India

Se' Cathedral and the church of St Francis of Assisi Old, Goa, India

The remains of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Old Goa contains churches affiliated to various congregations, including the Se Cathedral (the seat of the Archbishop of Goa), the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Church of S. Caetano, and notably, the Basilica of Bom Jesus which contains the relics of Saint Francis Xavier, which is celebrated every year on 3 December.

 

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Ferry interesting

I was looking at ferry times and prices today in preparation for the return to the UK. A night crossing with a cabin (my preference because I arrive fresh for the drive north) is three hundred pounds for the trip. Yet it’s difficult not to notice that a ferry to Rosslare Ireland night crossing with cabin is €150. The journey is three times the distance as the channel crossing so how can they do it? Or more to the point why can’t the cross channel operators do it. Normally the weather can hinder a crossing but this year it is more likely to the French protesting about the increase in the retirement age from 60 to 62. When it is increased in the UK from 65 to 68 it will probably happen without a whimper. One of  the differences between the Brits and the French is that French are still a revolutionary people. Unlike the Brits who are good at queuing. Perhaps if there was a queue for the revolution some of the cuts to the welfare state might be prevented in the UK.



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We usually leave from La Havre but we have missed our ferry the last two years on the run. But on the plus side La Havre has plenty to offer such as the Eglise St Joseph a UNESCO world heritage site.

 

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French life

The Robins have been very co-operative this year. The white frosty looking material in the photo is stale french bread crushed and rolled with a wine bottle.

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Eastern culture

The paradox of our time
The paradox of our time

When in Goa India it is difficult not to be impressed by how happy the people are and yet they have very little material wealth. To the westerner travelling to India for the first time it is obvious that poverty is all around. It makes you aware of just how affluent we are in the west. You might even get a pang of conscience when you compare the living conditions of east and west. But it appears that western society is not without its problems. Surveys show that a higher than ever percentage of people are not happy. There are more psychological problems depression, neurosis, obesity, anorexia and anxiety. The increase in drug dependency, gun crime and violence in society indicate that things are not well in the west. It appears a two dimensional society where glitz and celebrity have become more important than reality. It is a triumph of style over function, an illusionary world where the emperor is consistently sartorially challenged.

 

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Back to civilisation

When I walked into the path lab for a blood test in India the results were ready the same day. Here in the UK it was a week before the appointment and after seven days I’m still waiting for the results. Suffice to say I won’t be going to France until I’m fit enough. Hepatitis A has no chronic stage and confers lifelong immunity. Unfortunately it can take up to 12 months to clear up. To rest the liver the recommended diet is no alcohol, meat, protein or fat.

Children in India have the viral infection Hepatitis A with little or no effect. It is transferred through the fecal cycle, sea water, sea food or just poor hygiene. It is common throughout the third world and more of a problem for westerners. Lesson learned here take the necessary precautions. On the bright side a lobster in a restaurant is £5 in Goa.

 

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