signing out part 03

Well the pick pockets didnt get us in rome and the civil unrest in libiya didnt get us while we were in Istanbul nor did the gorgons in athens…well thats all there was to be afraid of in Athens, and the humidity hasnt got us in singapore, Yes we admit to almost having been ‘got’ by the british home office, but we dodged that hail of bullets like a firing squad wall, which technically isnt much a feat as there is only one bullet and it should lodge in the head of the punished, but you get my point.
a 17 hour transit in singapore has reminded us of possible heat we may encounter in OZ but never fear that is a few months away so we can aclimatise just like the rest of you.
Anyway rome was full of old broken down stuff, the Pantheon ranks as the best of the Roman Buildings in my opinion and to be truthfull I am an expert, the Zaha new Maxxi building was a pretty good building for what we saw and in Italian could understand. I have been vocal of my thoughts of thoise types of buildings but like the fire station in , no i dont have terberculosis, the vitra museum it wasnt al bad in fact the fact im writing about it suggests Im impressed. Nah

Athens was warmer that both istanbul and rome in fact, ther is that word again, remember im an expert so I can use it, was warmer than the uk in all our time there, not saying much, possibly warmer than if you added up the average daily temperature for the duration. Yes thats how Im going to describe my time inthe UK from now on, the duration, If i was an empire builder it may be the occupation, but Im not, In fact, yes one more time, The singapore condition is also a victim of the ‘Empire’ what an interseting and recent history. So to end our empires tour meeting the turks, romans, greeks and british.
I dont think I have complained enough,

Rome had too many broken old things, the hotel was nice though but the hotelier gave me almonds int he shells for breakfast, not only almonds I did get other stuff but. Of course I had to break the shells with the nut cracker and Jane thought it drew attention to us and our special milk and special youghurt that the other plebs didnt get in their breakfast, I like being special, I am special, I am an expert so anything that identifies me as special is OK by me.
Anyway being shoved towards the aircraft so


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Our Greek Odyssey

I know, cheesy title. But there is quite a lot of cheese in Athens – feta, halloumi, saganaki – to name but a few. Actually the food has been generally excellent, with pita breads, eggplant salad, greek salad, giant beans, fresh orange juice etc featuring regularly for us. We’ve come to the conclusion that any food, no matter how simple, looks and tastes better greek-style, with the addition of a little drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice and a scattering of dried herbs, so henceforth shall add these to everything.

We love Athens! Everyone seems to be very friendly and laid back, fabulous sights to see, and some really lovely urban spaces. We walked and took the funicular up to Lykavittos hill yesterday and the view from above is quite different from somewhere immediately picturesque like Prague or Venice with their distinct individual sloped terracotta roofs. Here, a lot of development seems to have occurred in the last 100 years, and it looks like a very cluttered collection of squares, with lots of blocky apartment buildings, flat concrete roofs, rectangular sunshades and solar panels (good to see!) such that the aerial roofscape looks like a pixellated white/grey expanse that stretches for miles. However at street level it’s a completely different story. There are not a lot of parks, but loads of street planting and trees everywhere, including the delightful fragrant orange blossom. There are heavily vegetated balconies and roof terraces and patios everywhere, vines climbing up walls and over the streets… I know Athens has a pollution problem but it actually smells fresher than London… except in our so-called non-smoking hotel room…

Thus far we have visited the Acropolis complex including the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, plus the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Library. Quite an impressive architectural roll call! Although ruined, there is something quite amazing about seeing this original Classical architecture in the flesh. Although it is amazing to think of the impact this architectural style has had on the cultural landscape of the western world, the millions of Neo-classical and post-modern buildings saturate our built environment to the extent that the forms can seem familiar and almost hackneyed. To try and strip away the cultural layering and view the raw power of these originals is just stunning. The forms are so clean, minimal, and fundamental; while the layering of finely crafted detail is a plea for the importance of beauty in our surroundings.

Today we went to the Acropolis museum – as luck would have it today is International Monuments Day, so we got in for free! – where all the best finds and sculptures from the Acropolis site are displayed. What an impressive museum! Clearly no expense spared on the building itself, very high quality materials throughout, lots of contextual information, and practically the entire lower floor is glass to showcase the archaeological excavations found on site during construction of the museum. The collection itself is incredibly impressive, and taken entirely from the Acropolis hill, showing just how dense the finds have been. The original Caryatids from the Erechtheion porch are here on display (copies are outside at the Acropolis) and are just stunning – I was millimetres away from them! I also really liked the sculptures from the pediments of the Old Temple of Athena (nothing of the building remains other than a few of these sculptures) which was destroyed in 480BC. The sculptures are perhaps less refined than the smooth, serene style of the later ones, but they have an incredible dramatic power to them – there were lions ferociously attacking a stumbling bull, and two giant serpents, their fat coils practically writhing. These sculptures and also some of the brilliant collection of kore dedication statues had been mainly buried after the first destruction of the acropolis, which preserved hints of the original bright paint colours and black outline detailing – quite a different effect from the austere white marble we mainly see today. Oh and of course there were the Parthenon marbles, with half the spots filled with plaster copies waiting for the return of the originals… hmmm controversial. Very impressive, and extremely well displayed, although I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed and saddened by the somewhat limited number of the originals (compared to how many there should be), and how deteriorated their condition was. Apparently much of the damage was done in 1687 when the Venetians decided to attack Athens which was under the control of the Ottoman empire, hitting the Turkish supplies of gunpowder – which were being stored in the Parthenon, of course… where else would you store your explosives other than in an irreplaceable monument of world significance…? Anyway, a great museum. Yet again we got kicked out at closing time, but at least we managed to see this one in chronological order rather than our usual backwards version.

So Athens comes highly recommended by us, and we’d love to see more of Greece. Tomorrow morning we see the Kerameikos then off to Rome!

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Signing out 02

The grand tour continues, and its being done in fine style better than any post renaisance british toff or prospective artist could ever dream, for starters ‘we are Australian’ read that as per we are sparta in 300 or even better, secondly we are not british toffs or perspective artists. After turkey we found ourselves in Greece, some 12-13 hours later than we planned but these things happen. Not sure what happened but rest assured we’ll never know and Im sure theyll never tell but we arived nice and on time for our Turkish Airlines flight to be confronted by cancelled, it wasnt cancelled when we booked it so a fair assumption upon arriving at the airport was it would be not cancelled then, wrong, so the check in aide bumped us onto the next flight some 7 or 8 hours later. No biggie, drop the check in bags, and hide the carryon in an overpriced locker and back on the train and tram into Istanbul for another half day sightseeying which was well nice, but on return to the airport everything was in mayhem, but no explanation, no help, the usual story. After having been bumped we were then delayed by 6 more hours which after a brief internet search is not uncommon with turkish airlines, and to mention the dirty ‘c’ word…compensation renders staff unable to speak English and of course my turkish, as excellent as it is was not enough to describe my fair and mild tempered frustration at no information or fair play. So we arrived in athens 2 hours after the last train left and was forced into an expensive and unecessary taxi fare to the center, fortunately Greece has craked down on its cowboy taxi drivers and a set fare was introduced and upon selecting our driver an obviously australian Greek taxi driver lauded our choice, I’m guessing he wanted to let the Aussies know he was there, how nice of him. The trip was actually quite painless as our taxi driver selection, aided by him being next in line, was actually a very friendly and helpful chap, in fact we are yet to meet a unhappy, well there was the sweet seller in Istanbul, person. I was worried the islamic turkey may have been a bit like Morocco. wrong! Islamic but not hasslers and was worried about Greece given its current economic problems, riots etc but it truly has been a great week so far. and of course the Grand tour continues having now seen the acropolis, hagia Sofiya and in a couple of days of to Rome.
All is good here, watching the best 30 dance pop videos on Greek TV, it is better than their soap operas…Oh It’s Thriller!


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Turkish adventure

I know I’m in extreme post debt at the moment and have many to catch up on, including Norway, Iceland, the Lakes, Scotland, to name a few. However at the risk of messing up the post timeline, I’ll pick up with Istanbul… My Turkish is coming on a treat, I can say hello and goodbye (from both the departer and the departee), yes and no, please and thankyou (informal and formal), I can order turkish tea and fresh orange juice, state that I’m a vegetarian, identify a few types of breads, meze, and various sugary desserts, order tickets (any number from 1 to 4, or 11), and ask for the toilets. Pretty much sorted on the language front!

Today we started out bright and early and headed via the Hippodrome and its ancient obelisks to the Aya Sofya – absolutely stunning. We knew it undergoes pretty much continually ongoing repair work so were preparing ourselves for scaffolding obscuring the interior but it was completely free of scaffolding! Very lucky. The space is just amazing, such a huge dome span free of columns, built 1500 years ago, and constructed over only 6 years, commisssioned by Justin’s favourite and eponymous emperor, Justinian. I particularly liked how the extremely lofty space is so impressive and awe-inspiring, yet is rendered human scale by the decorative ironwork lighting rigs suspended by extremely long supports down to just above crowd level, although I guess on a practical note it makes it easier to change the millions of light bulbs. There is an incredible extent of marble wall cladding throughout the interior but it actually reads as reasonably subtle due to the fairly muted colours – grey-blues, grey-greens, grey-reds, while the remnant mosaics with their glittering gold byzantine tiles are anything but subtle. Amazing that it has been both a church and a mosque and now a museum, and remains intact rather than a lost victim of iconoclasm.

Next we headed to the Blue Mosque, which is still very much a functioning mosque, and were able to walk through the rear and view the building. While also amazingly beautiful (inside and out, in contrast to Aya Sofya which is quite dumpy and plain from the outside) and in almost immaculate condition, it is neither as large nor as technically daring as the Aya Sofya, relying on four enormous columns to support the dome span. I did not feel that the space was ‘neutral’ like the Aya Sofya, due to its ongoing function – I felt a bit of an intruder and didn’t want to hang around too long inside. I felt that it was more intrusive to the poor women rather than the men, as they stay in enclosed areas at the rear to pray, and are divided from the main space where the men are by the constant stream of tourists pouring through.

After this we went underground to the Basilica Cistern – an amazing Roman water storage space about 1500 years old, that although currently at quite a low level can hold 80 000 cubic metres, and I think runs underneath the Hippodrome. The brick vaulted ceiling is supported on 336 columns, through which raised walkways run. The space is quite eery, with dim lighting, dripping ceiling, and ghostly pale carp drifting around in the water. I particularly liked the fact that it was a functional space rather than a show space, so the columns are constructed from leftover bits of other buildings, with a mix of doric, ionic and corinthian columns, odd mismatching parts and a few standout carved stones including a column covered in carved peacock ‘eyes’ and two large medusa heads.

We then headed to the Grand Bazaar, but found it was not really our kind of place – less hassling than the Moroccan souks but also a bit less interesting, although perhaps we didn’t give it a fair go… we gave up with headaches and headed back to the hotel for a quick break before dinner.

Dinner! was fantastic. Found a lovely restaurant and drank Turkish tea while waiting for a free table, then the Bread arrived…. (yes it deserves a capital letter…) large, soft and steaming, scattered with sesame and nigella seeds, blown up like a balloon to the size of a football – perfectly inflated at first then slightly sinking before being torn apart and devoured… fabulous! We also ordered a selection of mixed vegetarian meze, with another Bread! And being too full of Bread to eat main courses we moved straight on to dessert (separate stomach) – a super-syrupy mound of semolina, toasted pine nuts and spices for me, and a turkish rice pudding for Justin. And so to bed, with the intent to visit the Tokapi palace tomorrow…

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Signing out part 01

well this whole london plan thing is coming to an end, or actually has come to an end, and in such fine british style we were screwed till the last. of course we were supposed to have left on out return pilgrimage on april 1st, ist now the 11th, but UKBA despite their own capital and bold statement, on their own website, a website which they continually direct you towards rather than actually speak to you, stated a 15 day return of documents, yet when we requested the return of said documents, they had our passports and visas oh and nearly 1600 pounds of ours, they firstly took 4 days to understand we actually really wanted our documents back, then when we actually had our stuff in our hands was some 25 days later. and we made no bones about the fact the return of documents was urgent. They had our application for 9 weeks, we requested an urgent treatment of the application, that would take 20 days to assess if it was deemed urgent, and it might no be, we had planned based on UKBA’s own advice to request our documents backin ample time, we were wronged, and what can we do , nothing but leave late, lived under a bridge for a week or 10 days as we had quit our job, left our flat, but could not leave!
But we got them and are underway, but of course 2 days before we actually take off, HSBC who had become, well almost competant, compered to when we first got to the UK had to screw up one more time. We were booking acommodation and flights when we recieved a phone call stating our card had been compromised, by someone booking flights and accommodation, of course the cancelled first asked questions last and of course it was us booking flights and accommodation as previously mentioned. and guess what, they couldnt get a replacement set of cards to us in time before we left so travelling across the world without credit cards. Hmmm.
So we sorted that and I thought Id log into internet banking and pay credit cards of and transfer funds, of course and I can only guess the resetting of the security regime triggered by us using our cards and HSBC trigger happy fraud squad, meant when logging in I needed to reset our security, culminating in a final security proceedure of calling the bank with a number at hand and quoting it. So I duly followed instruction, reentered my details into the phone, pressed numbers according to my needs and was duly passed to an opperator, then went through my details once again, to be told I cannot do what I was doing and had to pass Jane onto the operator who told her off and directed us to the hard bank (branch and not soft bank) Apparently as joint but subservient account holder I cant know anything about our account and we had compromised our own security by knowing our own security answers. so after 2 hours at the branch we had an apology and working accounts and a clear statement to them of our travel itenerary so they dont believe we are compromising our own security again and cancel our one and only remaining last of the lot credit cards. But I have to say and apology doesnt cut it, I wanted a bank manager to fall on his own sword, literally.
Oh, just remembered we threw out our pillows this morning, granted I have needed a new one for 12 months or more but its a sad day when you actually discard a loyal, albeit floppy, thin, sleep stained, probably bed bug ridden friend.

So where are we, well we are not in London anymore, having hopped a plane from Heathrow to the coast of the sea of Marmara where it meets the Bosphoros, As we only just arrived, and had dinner i wont say much tonight, about where we are, but I will continue complaining.

Ok no more complaints tonight just casual observations…
have you ever noticed that the journey home takes less time than actually getting there, well I have and I can say its not true, it took 24 hours to get to the UK, well I cant actually remember exactly but for the sake of this lets say it did, Its going to take 15 days to return to adelaide.

and our stuff all 20 Kg’s of it ( Ok I lie here it amounts to 4.5 cubic meters 158 cubic footsies and I car) will take nigh on 12 weeks to arrive. so maybe our return seems longer as we are carrying so much more but couldnt handle, Oh hang on, Jane has just had a knitting blowout, be right back, Ok where was I, I couldnt handle giving all my stuff up again like last time. Well to be fair again we have 12 cubes, thats what Im calling them now as it takes less typing, still in storage somewhere inAdelaide.
Actually it dawned on me the other day, in the shower , where most things dawn on me that all Jane an I’s (Jane wanted me to correct this but Im living onthe edge tonight so it stays) belongings are controlled by someone else, our storage, our shipping and our financials, we have cloud posessions, stored remotely and intangibly. Trust is our strong suit and perhaps our downfall. Now if your a scammer reading this don’t try it on, we may be trusting but not gullible an actually don’t have anything worth scamming.

anyway our stuff is on its way, the insurance costs more than the actuall shipping and I tell you its a scam, not a scammers scam but a legitimate scam, which really is just a dressed up scam. Cant be happier with our shippers to date, but what they dont quote you on is the insurance. 900 pounds shipping to OZ but near 3k in insurance if we were to insure total loss on true worth, yes we can get cheaper but they are unlikely to pay out on anything but total osss and the shippers havent lost anything yet in 20 years, well so they say, maybe I am that gullible, but scammers, dont believe it, so we insured the best bits and scrubbed our shoes new and prepared everything we wanted ready to be collected. it was easy enough


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well we are still here but we have a new date to leave. well a pending leavcing date.
If my Italian is any good we will be leaving from Rome on the 24th of April. If my italian is poor we may not be leaving at all.
If Janes english is poor we wont be leaving ever as our application for indefinate leave to remain was submitted along with all our passports etc some time ago, and submitted to an organisation that predicts a window of only 6 months for processing an application we may die here passport-less. it might actually be quicker to marry a local and get a UK passport that way so we can travel. Not only would that be quicker it would be a lot funnier, a better story to tell the grandchildrens, whomever they belong too.
I have operated on the assumption that Janes English is OK and we will get our passports back some time sooner or later so now we need to.
Postiung has been slow around here for a while, Not a lot to mention really, that and Jane discovered photofaceskypebookpalm and spends her evenings posting photos of some fella called ishmail and snow, sometimes the two combined. No he is not english and cannot help get us a passport.
Other than that we are knuckling doen in collecting many things we want before our return, wool, engines, wool and more engines. at this stage the wool and engine pile is substantial. Our shippers don’t know what they are in for do they…
I am not doctor evil, I still like robots and we cant wait to get home.

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where to live

So it looks ever more like we will be heading back to Australia for a while at least. I can’t and thus won’t promise forever, so a while it is. But where should we settle, There are two options that have immediate merit, these are , if you havent guessed it Melbourne and or Adelaide, but we’d be open to other destinations should the opportunity arrise.
So help us decide, let us know which state loves us the most and you stand a chance of possibly swaying our decision.



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New Job

Having learnt from the last time I started a new Job nearly 4 years ago I will not spell the new offices name properly…But I now work for B/D/P British Des!!ign Prac–tice

That should confuse them, however like last time I have nothing nasty to report…on the new firm.
We (see what I did there) are a multi disciplinary office with structural and services engineers, interior designers, landscapers, and I think some others all under the one name and across 15 offices in Europe and Asia, though it’s the European Asia not real Asia.

I have been taken on board to bolster their Aviation department especially in Bids for BAA work which I am quite experienced and well regarded I gather.
They pay very well with an achievement of a nearly 30 percent remuneration improvement over the last place, and most importantly I don’t have to put up with the incompetents I came to know as…um…well incompetents, nor Do I have to put up with a certain someone’s taking credit for my work and effort
Well not yet anyway.

I’m still dealing with them in some ways as I have to keep reminding them of the obligation to provide a reference and an expenses cheque and P45 and statement of payout, which while I’m thinking of it thanks for the payout it was um…large best bonus I have had to date and having started work within a few weeks of leaving the timing was just right. But I still have their laptop and Phone so that can sit nicely at home till they deliver the outstanding items, and it will be interesting to see what they offer, in terms of a reference. Last correspondence I had suggested they were waiting on an associate to return from leave to tell them what jobs I had worked on, of course I had only worked with her for 8 weeks of 4 years so what was she able to add…I don’t know, but I’m sure it will go backwards and forwards a bit to get right as I’m sure they will forget most of the projects I have completed for them. I’m not bitter just angry that I put up with them for so long and had to endure the lying and of course that I had contributed hundreds of pounds to leaving presents only to get nothing upon my departure.

I have to say thanks though to many of my old colleagues who arranged a party at one of their places for me last weekend, Im guessing Im not that much a bastard after all.

We have booked our tickets for 4 days in Iceland chasing volcanoes and the northern lights and we have just booked our first ferry for our Scotland highlands and islands odyssey, that’s coming up
Anyway I’m obviously over this new CAD package malarkey this week, every word I type needs correction so

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Mum don’t worry…These things are perfectly safe

No body died! Its Ok
I can’t believe I had that conversation, I was 100 percent confident that nothing as exciting as a plane crash would occur at an event we were at, In fact typically I was 110 percent confident. But It happened, despite my assurities to mum, who warned of euro-airshow-deathtraps, 2 incidents and 3 damaged planes and one bail out. firstly a tri plane topples upon landing onto its propellor and right wing, funny looking thing all upside down and awkward, missed that As I was consuming caravan Nachos with liquid cheese, yes thats right ‘liquid cheese’ and the crowd arose as one while us crash novices obliviously marvelled at liquid cheese…and cups of mushy peas.
As the Duxford Airshow was on sunday and the last day pof our odd british weekend away and the night before a week of job interviews, we thought it wise to join the homeward throng of incapable mergers home…missingth e grand finale of 20-30 WW2 warbirds taking to the sky ina series of flyby’s and a clipping of parts which led to one half wing na da mustang pilot abandoning the bird 100 meters from the ground as it spiralled to its crashy fate.
But I got a new job so leaving early was worth it, this takes my UK experience to 4 damaged or destroyed aircraft that I had some form of association with.
the night before this exiting day we drove from Chatsworth house to a service station days inn motel south of cambridge desperately searching for accommodation, whod have thought we woudl have difficulty on a 20 mile stretch of road, but wherever we stopped we were faced with no vacancies…apparently somehwere in the vacinity of the british GP there was to be no beds available, felt a bit like a modern day Joseph. I actually think some people drove further away from the GP that they lived just to get a room for the night. anyway that was a frustrating way to end a great day of strollingthrough the great Chatsworth house and gardens, Impressive stuff, pity it was all built on the back of the proletariate who toiled for generations to support a priveledged family…but hey I wont go there.
Before this day we had spent friday night in stratford upon avon, where the royal shakespere company have their headquarters, we went and saw captain picard…oh I mean Jean luke…OOps I mean Sir Patrick stewart play shylock in Marlowes merchant of venice. We also went about the town following the trail of shakespere, his life his loves and the birth room. Eeek
Three days away doing quintessential british things, shakespere, old grand houses and nerdy air shows. And the car didnt brake down either, I live to drive again.

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Knock, Nock, whos there

I like pirates and robots, Jane likes Romans and period costume dramas involving colin Firth who recently won awards for his depiction of a king who couldnt speak, geofrey rush, who is an australian played opposite the king, in the film, and was also on Tv the other nighe promoting a Pirate film, which I would possibly like, was interviewed by, the host of this Tv show who also hosted the Eurovision TV show which was won by aberzibajanioliod despite me voting for the icelandic performer, and the bosnia and herhorsegotnumonia member becuse he was old and wore tweed, not that I make a habit of supporting the aged as the icelandic contestant, who placed poorly I seem to recall was certainly not old, a bit like jedward who were in the english got no talent show or something but perfomed for irelandish and also didnt win but did better than the ukadiom who did not have robots in their lineup, who doesnt englandland send blur or one of the other boy bands who are world famous rather than the cows stomach theyend every year, I think the Irish independence army, or whomever should take control of voting for the england representer rather than plant bombs or fake bombs in londons covent garden, well know more in the next 24 hours what the bomb alert is for, but dont worry the romans are not concerned as they are probably all dead, well the english romans of 2000 years ago, why does the west worship an arabic man, who was poked by a roman stick while on a roman cross, I dont get it, but I dont get many things, but we did see romans ruins recently and things ruined by the romans, and some things that while coming after the romans and I dont mean persue, but cronologically after, had nothing to do with them other than had the romans not got fat and blasphemous would have done 1500 years earlier, or maybe not as the vikings may have had something to say about it in Norse with bad fish breath, I cant confirm this as even the most worse breath only lasts a week after death and lets get one thing straight Im not that old, despite assertions from Jane and the copius grey hair all over the place, and my memory of the first CD’s back in 83 which would have sounded really strange had the fish breathed ones won the wars and taught us all how to vike, what would crowded house sound likein norse and would they win eurovision or in fact actually be robots.

went up noorf a few weeks ago. piled into the suzuki with tents and backpacks full of 10 days of clothing and spares of course and heahed to the lake district. On the way we stopped of at coalbrookdale to see the iron bridge, or was it ironbridge to see the coalbrookdale, cant remember but we did see the birthplace of the industrial revolution or as I like to call it the begining of the end!, we also saw a bobbin mill which having now toured through must hav efelt like the end of the end for the poor who worked there. Very thinly disguised slavery, the owners of the mill, would own the accommodation, the shops, the pubs etc would get their money paid as wages back paid as rent and for goods and services and a 7 day work week on absolute minimum wage surely ruined too many generations and the rich families probably still have the wealth they accumulated now and look down upon the now washed masses with distain. If I could be botherd Id call for a rise against the idle classes by the workers, a revolting iw what I could go for now, no more, its not fair.
Then we made our way to Ambleside wheer we frequented a loverly vegetamarian B&B who also ran two excellent vegetamarian reastraunts in the town propper.
Im not making much sense am I
work too hard

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