The stupid German hire car…

I’ve finally got all my pictures from the UK trip sorted out and uploaded from the camera – I am amazed that so small a chip can hold the better part of 900+ pictures: a fair cry from my first big overseas excursion when I had to lug dozens of rolls of film around with me.

Anyway, this is the stupid German hire car that we had:

CLAW 09 - Stupid German Hire Car

We picked it up from Avis at Heathrow who were nice enough to hunt down a detailed UK roadmap for us (lesson: they don’t provide this automatically anymore) and then promptly dropped the ball by giving us the wrong directions out of the airport – if the guy on the security gate hadn’t set us right we’d still be doing laps of the Concorde…

Things we liked about the stupid German hire car:

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Things we hated about the stupid German hire car:

  • It was called a Passat – a stupid name with no sense of coolness at all..
  • It was ¬†manual – not the car’s fault but we’ll blame it for this accident of birth anyway – what a pain in the bum to drive around narrow twisting Brit roads and towns.
  • Reverse was down and forward from first – if you shift too energetically into first while stationary, you could find yourself in reverse, much to the consternation of people queued behind us at the lights.
  • It would take anything to from 2 to 17 nudges on the unlock button on the ‘key’ to unlock all the doors.
  • I say ‘key’ with squiggly things around it because it wasn’t really a key at all: just a chunk of plastic and chrome that fitted into a hole in the dash. We think this is EU fallout out from the car-keying incident (it was Norris, dummies!!) on Coro St a couple of months ago (in NZ; probably a decade ago in the rest of the Coro watching world) where the over-efficient Germans are trying to avoid any such recurrences of such trauma (it’s all fun and games til someone loses a spleen).
  • To start the car, you just push the ‘key’ in while depressing the clutch at the same time but if you stall it (see comment above about stupid manual German hire cars) to can’t restart it by just pushing in the clutch and pushing the ‘key’ home again…nope, too simple – you actually have to pop it most of the way out and THEN push it all the way home again…that’s not a pain – yeah right…sorry, all you folk backed up behind us on the roundabout – it’s just the Germans getting payback for that Sea Lion thing….This sort of thing probably seemed like a good idea for when the Russians broke through at interesting places like Kursk but for a family sedan…nuh…
  • There’s no handbrake…just a button on the dash – works brill for setting the brake and makes a cool whirr-clunk sound but…to release the brake you have to push in the brake pedal while pushing the brake button; not only is there no whirr-clunk sound but you need to have three feet if you want to do a hill start. We had to limit our travels to flat places only.
  • The manual was over an inch thick – no wonder it was still sealed in the original plastic. This might have told us about the cruise control that we didn’t find until the last day…

The Peace Prize and the Olympics

Word on the street is that Obama won the prize (hardly seems worth capitalising it nowadays) because Europeans like him. They like him because he at least goes through the motions of communicating with them – while still doing what he wants anyway. I suppose they should be grateful as well that he engineered the 2016 Olympics going to Rio and not to some EU city that would be forever broke afterwards. After all the grief that Venezuela has been giving the US recently (but didn’t they get dealt to so well in John Birmingham’s Without Warning??), I’m surprised that it didn’t go to Caracas – that would certainly have put them in their place and then some. The Olympic city is fast becoming a economic kiss of death for many nations and I really have to wonder if Obama’s ‘failure’ to secure the Games for Chicago was not actually a masterstroke that Machiavelli¬†would be proud of – it’s unlikely that Brazil will be throwing its weight around too much once it sees the bill…It would actually be quite nice if the Olympics went back to the original concept of sporting excellence instead of the municipal oneupmanship it has become…

Food Blogging

Have been thinking about the food blogging thing I mentioned yesterday and think I will do this from tonight where dinner consists of all the leftovers in the fridge mixed up in a big bowl and turned into rissoles (flash name for patties), consumed between slices of homemade sourdough bread (an accident with the mix last night but tastes great) with fresh tomatoes and sliced cheese – there would have been beetroot and lettuce except I forgot the beetroot til it was too late and parley was the closest thing in the fridge tonight to greens…

From a more organised kitchen we had a great lunch at Out Of The Fog in Owhango (it’s on GoogleEarth) on Sunday (unfortunately it is now only open on the weekends – probably a reflection on the Central Plateau job market) – very fast and friendly service: I had hardly finished the front page of the paper when my snack arrived and they do a great Chai Latte too (but not as good as my homemade ones)…the Owhango Pub has just closed up so Out Of The Fog is now it for refreshment between Raurimu and Manunui…