Friday, 25 May 2007

A History Lesson

King Henry the XIII of England wasn’t really King Henry the XIII. He was actually Henry the XI but because he was so large historians could not fit him all into one reign. To get around this problem they divided him into Henries XI, XII and XIII. Fortunately the real Henries XII and XIII were thin enough to allow this. It was rumoured that he killed his Grandmother with the thighbone of a Turkey. This is why he is so often portrayed holding a Turkey leg in various paintings.

Alfred the Grater got his moniker during the days he was on the run from the Mormons. He was hidden by a pleasant woman who made him work in the kitchen when the Mormons came looking for him. Alfred spent two days grating cheese for the Mormon’s Cheese Toasties before he could escape.

Ethelred the Unready was a notorious womaniser but he had one major fault. When ever he got down to the job he always discovered that he had no condoms. This may have been due the fact that they were not invented yet.

King Canoe tried to cross the English Channel in an Eskimo Kayak but, alas, no one had ever heard of Eskimos, let alone kayaks so he had to make do with a Sedan Chair. He gave up the attempt when he realized there was no way that he could do it without getting his feet wet.

Theodotré's Bathroom Spider.

Discovered in 1883 by Hammond Theodotré. Found only in bathrooms of old houses. Due to the often damp atmosphere in bathrooms it's own web material falls apart. Instead the spider has developed the amazing ability to Build it's webs entirely out of the strands of hair that people leave after washing their hair. They are combined by using a complicated knotting procedure very similar to Macrame to form complex geometric shapes in the upper corners of the rooms. The resulting web is then covered with a mixture of the spider's own saliva and soap. This forms an incredibly sticky glue that snares the spider's prey. The saliva/soap glue does have the unfortunate tendency to dry out quickly making it necessary for the spider to constantly replace it. This may be why your soap disappears so quickly.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Hamilton, New Zealand

If I lived in Hamilton I would kill myself. The place is so awful I would be unable to live with myself any longer. Whoever decided that Hamilton should exist was probably taken out and shot. Actually, whoever it was probably killed themself once they realised the awfulness of what they created.

It's just a bad city. A bad city in which everyone lurches around like zombies. Maybe they have all killed themselves but Hamilton has sucked out their souls leaving their fleshly husks to wander the streets moaning in low, zombie tones, "UUURRRRRRRRR HHHHAAAAAAMMMMILLLLTTTTONN URRRR".

How on earth did we end up here? Well, let me tell you. Camille has a one day job to do up north so we decided to take few days extra and take the opportunity to do a little planning and also give ourselves a well deserved break. Camille had the bright idea of leaving after work on Wednesday so we could have more time away. Rather than drive all the through to the Bay of Islands where Camille has to work she decided to find
us a place to stay in Hamilton.

"Hamilton!!??", I said (enunciating the excessive punctuation).

"I know", she replied. "There is no other place. I don't want to stay in
Auckland and there are no hotels/motels online to view anywhere else".

"But Hamilton?", I said, being somewhat gobsmacked.

So Hamilton it was.

We loaded the car: 2 bags, 2 laptops, 1 data projector, 1 still camera, 1 video camera, 1 pepper grinder, 2 sharp knives, 1 steel, 2 wooden spatulas, 1 high quality big pan, 6 bottles of wine (including 2 Unison Selection 2004, 1 Burnt Spur Pinot Noir, 1 Squawking Magpie Cab Sav 2002, and 2 I can't recall at present) and 1 bag of work stuff.

Then we left.

The drive up was fairly uneventful. At one stage around Taupo we realised there was this strange stuff falling from the sky. It kept landing on the car obscuring our vision. It took us sometime to recall that this strange phenomenom is natural and is known as rain in other parts of New Zealand. Fortunately the car came with some equipment which allowed us to continue our journey unimpeded.

We were screaming along in the dark doing 120km/hr up a hill in some passing lanes coming up behind a vehicle. Camille was driving and was eager to pass but there was another vehicle very close behind us and in the lane we wanted to be in. Bloody annoying. As it drew level with us we both turned to the right and were stunned to find ourselves looking at a police car. It must have been doing at least 130km/h. It sailed past off into the distance. It wasn't in any particular hurry. Not like it was racing to an emergency or anything. Must have been off duty.

We arrived at Hamilton (!) and found our hotel. This is where the zombie factor began to present itself. We went into the reception and a human like thing came out carrying a small dog.

"Hi", said Camille "We are booked in for the night under Feast".

There was a long silence while the creature behind the counter did things
with a computer and then it made noises.


"Feast. F.E.A.S.T.". Camille helpfully spelt out her name.

"UUURRRRRRRRAAAAAAHHH... I can't find anything here."

Uh oh. This wasn't looking good. Camille waved the booking confirmation which the zombie latched onto. It put down the dog (which I had concluded must be its meal for the night) and pointed out the booking was for the next day.

Definitely not good. We started ringing around other places but they were all booked except for one. It had one vacancy. We took it and drove off to the new place.

It was awful. Small and smelly. The rank, greasy odour of some dreadful chemical air "freshener" filled the place. We could hear televisions in other units. We could hear people. The place smelled. There weren't
enough power points for all our laptops and phones. Fortunately I had the foresight to pack a 4 way plug box.

By this time it was around 8:45. I had checked a restaurant review site online and had decided on a particular restaurant. It was the best out of a bad, bad lot of Hamiltion reviews. So we drove off to find it. Could we? Well, yes but not easily. Hamilton's road system where we were is very strange. All sorts of bits coming in and out, folding round, going back. Very badly designed.

We ended up at the Le Grande Hotel. The food was not good. I ordered the scotch fillet. It came out 5mm thick at one end and 1cm thin at the other. It was medium rather than medium rare. Mind you, at that sort of thinness you could cook it for a minute and have it overdone. On the other hand the brocolli, whole carrots and potato slices were very good. Camille had a carbonara which she couldn't finish. The waitress said that it was a strange night as nobody who had the carbonara could finish it. Camille told me later that this was because it wasn't very nice.

The worst thing though was the two zombies who came in after us and sat between us and the door and proceeded to have a long and loud conversation about two people named John.

"Anyway, John was up on the stage doing his stuff and who do you think was at the back of the hall? That's right. John Hore!"

This was bellowed out like it was the most startling news ever.

We went back to crappy motel and decided to take a spa bath. It didn't work properly of course. The jets just produced strong water jets. No bubbles at all. Camille also had an unfortunate accident. She sat back on the spa drain which was actively sucking the water out. She let out a small shriek and leaped upwards. Now she has a lovely drain shaped bruise on her very lower back. I compassionately laughed like a drain.

In the morning we headed off towards Auckland. We stopped at a strange shopping area in the middle of some industrial zone for breakfast. We ate at "The Coffee Club" which had a large menu labelled "The Breakfast Club". One item was ribeye fillet steak served with bacon, scrambled eggs, tomato etc. I latched onto that as I really enjoy a good steak was severely disappointed after the previous nights effort. It duly arrived. The steak wasn't a "ribeye fillet". It was cut off a bit of rump. However, it was still superior to the bit of leather I had at the Le Grande.

Then we left Hamilton looking forward to our journey through "The Ugliest Town in New Zealand". That's right, Huntly! I have videoed our trip through Huntly catching all its eyesores accompanied by the thumping, driving music of Tom Waits, "Hang On St. Christopher". Excellent.

The two zombies who trapped us in the restaurant. What you can't see is that the one facing the camera has his right arm resting on his leg. He isn't using it because it doesn't have a hand attached to it BUT he is wearing a glove on his stump to hide this fact. A cunning disguise to make him look more human. Camille and I thought he might have eaten his own hand in a fit of hunger.