The Wrong Kind of Volcanic Ash

The sun is out the sky is blue there is not a jet trail in the sky to spoil the view. I am not sure whether that would work as a song lyric but it does seem to represent our recent aviation related events.

The media is full of stories about people paying over the odds for alternative transport solutions. One of our friends has just paid over three-hundred pounds for a taxi journey from Holyhead to Bingley. If she was old enough for a bus pass she could have made the same trip for free. Albeit having to change buses seventeen times on route.

I know that we covered volcanoes during my school years but never once did anyone mention Iceland in this regard. And yet here we are with our air traffic on hold due to one of its eruptions and the threat of further disruption from a second brewing mountain.

The conspiracy theorists are having a field day and have so far preferred to believe that the real cause of the problem is either aliens or terrorists.

It never ceases to amaze me that these ideas are usually offered by people who would rather believe the incredible over the plausible.

I have a theory that the same person starts all conspiracy theories; which in itself makes it the ultimate conspiracy.

Does this overdose of volcanic ash mark the start of an Icelandic spring? We are used to having an Indian summer and a Canadian winter so this is just another one to add to our collection.

Whatever is happening you have to feel sorry for all those who are stranded away from home. Of course there are some more preferable places to be stranded. Perhaps if you are able to sip cocktails, near a sun soaked beach, whilst you wait for northern Europe to be ash free, you would be able to see the positive side of things.

So whilst Britain is sending navy ships to Spain to collect stranded tourists the irony of Iceland's Keflavik airport still being open for business is not lost on me. Perhaps ash is more of an export activity for our northern neighbour than a home-grown luxury.

As the planes start to roll off the runways over the next few days we are told there will be a two-week catch up in operations due to all the chaos caused. Ash! Who would have thought it?

The situation was not helped by a recent expert trying to explain why there had been such a problem; apparently it was the wrong type of volcanic ash. Experts! You gotta love 'em.

Fishing - An Expensive Sit Down

The pleasant weather has brought the crowds out of their houses and on to towpaths of our local canal ways. In general the warmer climes bring out the best in people and we pass other travellers with a nod and a smile and an occasional 'thank you' to cyclist who offer us even the smallest of signal that they are steaming towards us from behind.

We like to think that we walk a good distance on these occasions but every now and then we see a sign that reminds us that the canal has a life outside of our experience of it.

Leeds is 19 miles in one direction whilst Liverpool is 120 miles the opposite way.

If it wasn't for such signs you could be blissfully unaware of the existence of either city as you walk through the Yorkshire countryside.

With renewed interest we started to look out for other signs on the towpath. Mrs M soon spotted one that informed us that we could fish for the day, if so desired, for the small price of £2.

I commented that this seemed a good price if fishing were your chosen hobby.

My bride did not agree and offered the comment 'it seems a lot of money just for having a sit down'.

I felt the need to defend the local anglers against such an onslaught even though I have not taken part since I was seventeen.

'Just having a sit down' I said somewhat exasperated, 'you could say a similar thing about most hobbies. Under such a system we might conclude:

The Cinema is merely £7.40 for sitting in a dark room.
Ten Pin bowling is just paying money to wait for your ball to be sent back.
And going swimming is just a more expensive way of having a bath.

Mrs M thought I was taking things too far but the point was made.

Knowing the value of your hobby is all about context. One man (or woman's) game of golf is another person's expensive long walk.

The same is true of canals; one person's three-mile stretch of inland water is another man's section of a Leeds to Liverpool highway. To be honest I am not sure if anyone travels the whole distance anymore but you get the point.

We travelled a little further in the general direction of Leeds, without any intention of visiting the city, and wondered if those engaged in fishing were getting value for money. After all if they weren't catching any fish it would make my wife's comment correct: two pound is a lot of money just for having a sit down!

One on a diet. All on a diet!

Mrs M is due to speak at a conference in a few weeks time and amidst all the excitement of getting ready for the event she has decided that she needs to go on a diet in order to fit into her chosen outfit. The only problem is that when she says 'I' she means 'we'.

Somehow I have been dragged into things. I suggested that I didn't need to be included because I am not attending said conference, and instead shall be spending the day in the pub with some mates. None of whom will be even faintly interested in either my weight or my BMI.

This didn't wash with my bride and it seems I don't have a choice in the matter. She muttered something about needing my support and she wandered off to gorge on some lettuce. I tried to point out that when I support my favourite football team it doesn't involve actually kicking a ball but she wasn't convinced.

As part of this new regime we have increased the length and intensity of our evening stroll. Included in our workout is a brisk walk up the towpath of the Five Rise Locks.

Our normal routine includes spending our time chatting about a variety of subjects. This has, however, been somewhat restricted by the incline we now have to traverse.

We start off with a few words but it isn't long before silence descends apart from the panting noises we make as we try to breathe.

Because Mrs M is due to speak at her conference she takes our walks as opportunities to rehearse her chosen topic in front of her audience of one. This means that I do little of the talking until, that is, we reach the Five Rise Locks and my bride has to concentrate on the incline and breathing.

I have taken this as my time to get a few words in edge ways.

Not happy with this intrusion into her thought patterns my wife asked me during our walk today to wait until we arrived at the top.

I asked her why it should matter given that she is unable to offer any input into the conversation during this time. Her reasoning; she feels frustrated when she thinks of thinks to add and can't do so.

At this point I take the opportunity of highlighting the fact that whereas she isn't fit enough to converse I, in fact, am.

I suggest that this means I don't need to join her in her decision to go on a diet.

'But I need your support' she gasps.

'OK' I reply 'But don't ask me to kick a ball

Tweeters or Twirlies

A few days ago I overheard one of my daughters calling us 'the wrinklies'; I immediately looked in the mirror and realised that the description was a fair one.

I offered some protestation, however, because it is not an accurate name for Mrs M. She may be three weeks older that me but she looks youthful. I know that I definitely married up.

Trying to offer support I commented that she didn't look a day over forty. She was quick to point out that we are at the age when such compliments don't work, mainly because forty still has the ring of age about it.

I shouldn't be too upset with being called a wrinkly as, much to their amusement, we have been using the title for our parents for a number of years; they must be thicker skinned than us.

I told my dad about the latest stage we have reached, and commented that, if we have arrived the moment where our laughter lines have determined our description, what should his generation now be called.

He informed me that his generation already had a new name. Apparently the local bus drivers in his locality have started carling them 'twirlies'.

I asked him why; suggesting that perhaps it referred to their dancing abilities and deftness of foot when getting on and off buses. But no!

He went on to describe how the name only applies to a five-minute period between twenty-five past nine and nine-thirty in the morning.

Evidently, as the drivers arrive at each bus stop during this period they are greeted to the sight of groups of pensioners all asking 'Are we too early to use our free bus passes?'

Hence the name Twirly. I guess it's a northern thing.

It does strike me as excellent that the elderly of Britain time their morning journey for maximum value.

Before the introduction of the free bus passes there was nothing to stop them setting off on their journeys as early as they desired.

I asked my dad why pensioners were so eager to travel during the early morning and he simple replied 'because we run out of sleep'.

'Added to this' he said 'is the fact that we need to get back for our tea'.

Apparently this is the age when you can no longer eat onions passed five o'clock without your whole sleep pattern being disturbed.

It struck me as ironic that whilst my wife and I are all too eager (tweagre) to use our social networking sites before nine-thirty our parents prefer to get out of the house and meet people for real.
Where we are tweeters whilst they are twirlies!