26 December, 2006

rss & feedburner

Well, Christmas is over (nearly) so I decided to spend today doing a little research on getting my blog looking better! I am using Wordpress as blog platform, and early on I managed to get my Flickr PhotoRoll and also some more html in the sidebar. That was easy! What I have found difficult is getting javascript working.

Also I have a favour to ask, please view the full post!

One thing that has assisted me is getting the Wordpress plugin Sidebar Widgets working. But sometimes all I want to do is place a little javascript in the page. The one I am trying at the moment, is from Widgetbox and allows me to place my del.icio.us tags there. According to the site its as easy as:

  1. Log into your WordPress admin panel.

  2. Click on the "Presentation" tab and then click on the "Theme Editor" subtab.

  3. Click on a page item, such as Sidebar or Single Post, from the theme file list.

  4. Find a place in the PHP file that you'd like the widget panel to appear.

  5. Paste the code snippet from below into the file and then click the "Update File" button.

  6. Click the "View the Site" link located in the header to see your widget panel in action on your site.

Simple eh?? Except when I get to part 4. Find a place in the PHP file where you want it to appear.. OK no problems. Done that! But it does not work.. So I have looked at the Wordpress help pages and it just gets complicated. I am not a Web Developer, I am like most people who right blogs. I understand HTML, and other technologys but I dont need or want to know that much. If I needed a professional blog/website written, I would hire someone who knew these things!

Also, I wouldn't be doing this if I could simply have one of the pages on my blog (LINKS) to simply be a page of my del.icio.us Tags. According to the tagroll page, it can be done, but again it uses Javascript... Can ANYONE give me some assistance here?

Whilst I am here moaning about my lack of WebDev skills, perhaps someone can show me how I can get my Flickr and/or PicasaWeb images into my (PHOTOS) page?

Oh, and ONE final thing.. Do you view this site using your RSS reader? I view 90% of websites in my Google Reader, and only just noticed that mine was looking a little tacky! So I amended the BuzzBoost to HTML, hopefully it will change it! Could you let me know in the comments?
Anyway everyone, hope you all have a very Happy New Year!

UPDATE -- ONLY WORDPRESS slef Hosted blogs support this..

25 December, 2006

merry christmas

just a quick note to wish you all the grandest tidings of christmas.. hope Santa bought you all a little joy today! don't forget all those unfortunate in the world today, that need some help, I will be thinking of them also. Hope you spare some time for those as well


21 December, 2006

del.icio.us links

del.icio.usI have been using del.icio.us for some time now as my primary bookmarker. I used to save loads of pages within Firefox/IE, and I would have trouble syncing between different browsers, and especially different computers. I tried using GooSync and Foxmarks, but its just... hassle. Del.icio.us makes it simple.

All I do now is use firefox and the firefox del.icio.us Bookmarks addon, and save the page. The best thing about this?? The fact I can add tags, so when I search its easier. I just wish, the 3500 pages I uploaded from Firefox could be automatically added with the best tags. Another thing is that I wish I could add my tagcloud to the Links page on my blog.

Any suggestions?? oh yeah, for my links view jezarnold

home for christmas

christmas treeSo I am home for the Christmas Holidays now! I have moved out of my old house now, and moved about three miles from where I work (instead of the ten miles I was before). That means I can now run to work a few times each week, getting ready for my half marathon at the end of March.

So the house I am moving into is owned by Lee, a webdesigner. He bought the place some years ago, and uses the house as his office, hence the good rate I am paying for rent! I am going to be sharing the house with Alan, who works an early shift and is a snowboarder as well.

Another thing with the new house, is that Lee wants to put in some Home Automation. He has already got a gigabit network in, and is putting servers etc in place. It will be good to see how he gets his place all setup, as I really want to see how simple it is, as I really think Smarthouses are the future.. and I want to be a part of it!

09 December, 2006

lack of posts

So has anybody noticed the lack of posts recently? I doubt it, after all I don't exactly write a blog as popular as techcrunch do I? Anyway, its been nearly a month since I last wrote, and its because I have been pretty busy at work. That and trying to find a new place. Why?

Well, sometimes relationships just don't work out.  Me and Zee have called it a day. We still love each other, but we realise that we just don't connect like we used to. So we are going to call it a day before we are at each others throats. I'm going to miss her so much.. She will get access rights to Booley, so we will still see each other around!

As a result I have been busy with Gumtree, easyroomshare and others trying to find the right house share. Its not easy, but I do have a viewing close to where I want to be on Monday, reasonable rent too!

Also went out for a run today. My 19week training plan started today! (only 4weeks overdue) LOL

13 November, 2006

business conferences

Just back from my company's annual business conference. I had a great time, and finally met some of those I jabber too a lot. But at 31 and 1/2, I don't know if I am unlucky never to have attended one before.. or blessed! I mean its not as if I haven't travelled abroad on business before, but that was always actual work!

Anyway, this last week ABC Company (I will NEVER mention my company online, as I don't want to let anyone ever get me sacked if I mention a bad day!)  had our our annual Training / Kick off event in Tunisia. You know what? I loved it! It was bloody hard work, and I have never before spent 5/6 hours preparing for a ten minute presentation! But, the chance to meet those I assist and speak to regularly was amazing. It was also good to hear what the big bosses propose for us, as a strategy for the next few years.

Tunisian 5 Star hotels are not 5 Star, I would say about 3. The pool was lovely, if only I managed to get into it more than twice (one of those was a lunchtime, so I wouldn't fall asleep in the afternoon!), and the beach was only 200m away, with camels strolling about.. I ate salads all week, as the little meat I did eat gave me a dodgy tummy. And the room was alright, if only they woke me up when I requested an alarm call!

It wasn't all work though, and a couple of nights out were much appreciated. We had a night out in Sidi Bou Said on one night, and the final night was held in this gorgeous fifteenth century church, where a big gala dinner was in place for us all. Very enjoyable, even if I was on the rowdiest table in the place, the Scots sure know how to drink! :)

Anyway, I went on one run when I was there and it was bloody hard work. So when I got home, I thought I had better get that training plan put into my diary. My 19 week plan starts... yes, yesterday! I was meant to go out on a 30min run, but went to the pub for a roast and a few strawberry beers.. oh well, I will start tomorrow!


31 October, 2006


I think I was a little hasty today. A colleague told me about something happening in Reading on the 25th march 06... Do you want to know what I did?

I signed up for next years Half Marathon.. yes, 13 miles of running the grey and wet roads of Reading. Put it in your diary's, so that nearer the time you won't mind me asking you to contribute towards my registered charity JezArnoldBeerMoney

Any regular readers here may remember that one of my 30th birthday resolutions was to get fit. The others were keeping a journal (still do here..), stop smoking and manage my cash better. Well, most of those are going great! Obviously the get fit needs some work, as my belly is starting to remind me of Gazzas mate, five bellies!

So I have a 19 week training plan, which involves a lot of running and a lot of recovery, and I aim to do the race in less than 2 hours! I am extending the plan to 23 weeks, as I want to make sure I finish the bloody thing. A few of the people at work, are doing it as well... So there is no way I am letting them down!

29 October, 2006

snowboard crew

ReunionSo a week after I had caught up with old friends in Worcester, I was seeing the ex-members of the Yellowsnow Snowboard Club in Richmond. One of my best friends at Uni, Kate and her boyfriend Mike have decided to upsticks and live in Tauranga, New Zealand. Good for them! They are loving life there..

Along with Mike and Emma, Sherman and Matt and Ben, was Gary; Mikes brother in Law. I had never met Gary before, but hes a top jazz musician, from Chicago! Even teaches little kids a little music. Top Bloke!

It was good to see everyone! I get on really well with the snowboard crew, and miss our holidays! I organised one of the Holidays one year, when Matt was Yellowsnow President. In fact, thinking about who was there, was a veritable Who's Who in Yellowsnow! Mike Rhodes - First President. Matt Walder - Second President. Me - Second Holiday Organiser. Mike Edwards - Third President. Sherman - Third Holiday Organiser. Ben Lloyd - Fourth President... wow! Oh and the girls of course!

I missed my train, and arrived about 15minutes late at Smollenskys, a gourmet burger bar in Richmond, SW London. After a few beers, we all headed to this great little bar where Emma's sister worked.. We all chucked in £20, and didn't worry about drinks all night.. SWEET! All in all a really good night, and at the end Me, Mike and Kate went back in a taxi to Fulham.

Early doors the next day, a bit of brekkie and we all met up again in Richmond for some Wagamamas at lunchtime. Everyone else was raving about it, but I thought it was a bit pricey, and a little standard! Made some ninja stars put of paper, and headed down the Thames to test them out on the ducks! Don't worry, when a paper Ninja Star hits a duck it doesn't even fly off... London Ducks are just too hard!

It was really good to see Kate and Mike again, and it will be a while before I see them again! I am going to keep up with all the boys though. Shermans off to do a snowboard season in Mount Snow, Vermont, USA. Matts living in Brighton, working for Snowboardclub.co.uk, and living with one of my brothers friends! Mike and Emma are living in London, working for Event Management/Marketing agencies, whilst little Ben is a Broadcast Engineer in Southampton! KEEP IN TOUCH!!

23 October, 2006

cowboys and indians

Lewy and Laura were having a party back home in Worcester on Saturday, and as I haven't been home to see the boys for a while, I thought I'd better go and show my face before they forget what I look like!

It was down the Tops. What a place.. I did actually go back there a few years ago, when I was younger it was pretty much a local for me. I didn't go down there for a few years, but when I came back to live at home for a year before I went traveling, we went down there. Nothing had changed, but I asked Steve and Lewy anyway.. They looked at me with surprise in there eyes and said, "What do you mean? they've changed the bloody curtains!"

Anyway the party seemed to be a success, Cowboys and Indians theme and everyone made the effort.. Well, everyone I knew! As happens with your friends, there were a few new faces but it was my old mates I went back to see.. Saw Dicky, who I haven't seen in a fair while, and Matt and Andrea and baby Holly. Shes three. First time I had seen here... I am just too slack!

It made me realise its good to have some great friends around. I have been lucky in my 31 years to have some great friends. Its important to understand that you need to spend time with them. Don't forget that.

14 October, 2006

the future of smarthouses

Now I wish I had the technical & business skills to be able to approach someone for Venture Capital. I have this kickass idea, that one day we are all going to be going "Why didn't I think of that!" .. and as I have no chance of getting the cash together, I am gonna write it up here and look back in ten years..

Its all about computers / smartphones / internet / networks and our homes.

Basically at the moment we have one, maybe two or three, computers hooked up at home connected to the t'interweb. Each of these computers have there own internal harddrives, and all require significant power to keep running. They all require a degree of knowledge to operate, so if something goes wrong, you have a rough idea of what to do. If something goes drastically wrong, then you have to start again, or pay a significant amount to you local computer store to get things working again.

So whats the most important thing on your computer? Its the data. Everything else is covered by insurance, but you can't replace the data. Its like if your house burns down, you can't replace your pictures can you? The future of computing resides in backup. Not just in one place either.

Home Servers. Fireproof/thiefproof and totally secure. Nothing is totally secure, so the data will be backed up offsite. So, if you are going to have a home server, why bother with PCs. Why not have virtual machines.

VMWare are a company that have seen profits rise by 60% each year (can't remember where I read that) and its helped by Dual Core chips.. or quad core .. or n-core.. On a server you load a copy of the operating system, and all the software you are going to require. From there you run out to Thin Clients (TC) and they show and allow you to operate all of your applications, on a cheap computer. Yes, thats right cheaper computers.

For those users whose computing requirements are office/email/internet/music/films/photos, a TC will be fine. Even if you want to create images, or write programs, as long as you add some more memory, it should work no problems. And thats with todays TC machines. You can attach a TC to the back of a flat screen monitor, attach some USB ports for Keyboards/mouse etc, and a a decent networking connection, and there you go all set up. How much money will this save you? Less money on the machine in the first place, and even less energy costs.

Each user authenticates with a fingerprint, and they get logged in to there profile. This is stored on the house server, and backup up remotely. Oh did I mention your mobile use? You use a smartphone. It logs into your profile, and with WiFi you can make calls, or browse the net, write some IMs or emails, do some work. It will be that simple.

With IPTV not long away now from being everywhere, we are soon going to have all entertainment on a screen near by. Oh and another thing, you will be able to control the house. Dim the lights, turn on the washing machine, set the cleaning robot on its way, CCTV when you are away, all these things..

What do you think? The best way for this is the ISPs create a service, where they set it up and lend you basic equipment for free. You want something better, then pay for it yourself! You will have a service plan, and a Technician can be at your house in four hours to fix things, or they may be able to do this remotely. This obviously needs some kickass company to be able to get these things together, but I have heard that the Freebox in France, is going in this direction. Perhaps my favourite company, Google can make a google box, and get it installed where ever there is a monitor in your house...

anyway like I said, its only an idea!!

more google news?

What is it about Google and the media constantly looking at what they are doing next? As you may be aware (unless you have been living under a rock) Google bought YouTube for $1.65billion in Google Stock last week. Some say its a bargain, some say Google are now going to face huge lawsuits for copyright materials; I think that Google want to take on MySpace. I can see Orkut going through a 'merger' with YouTube soon, to bring a community focus to YouTube.. but then again what do I know?

Been playing with the new Google Groups this week. At work I have volunteered to create and manage our Teams Guidebook. Basically, I want to create a collaborative document that I can create and my colleagues can help keep updated. I found some ideas online, but they all wanted getting paid and I wasn't going to pay for this. Google Groups seemed the best idea, as you can create non-searchable, members only pages and discussions. I started getting it all ready, when a colleague points out that we can't keep commercially sensitive information on there. "Yeah, I know!" I reply, "its just guidelines on how to do your job better." so he comes back with "But our processes are commercially sensitive" ... oh... So I binned that idea, and now we are looking at Microsoft Sharepoint. I hope we don't have to pay for this..

Google have also combined Spreadsheets and Writely into Docs which is obviously taking a hit at Microsoft Office. You know that the BigG went into partnership with Sun Microsystems recently? You didn't? Anyway Sun are the owners of Open Office, and Google have some of there programmers down there improving this free opensource software. Eventually, we are going to have Docs & openOffice working together - on your home PC you can use all the functions of OpenOffice, and as long as you are on an internet connected PC you will be able to work on your docs online.. very clever.

Next year, I forsee the launch of an online storage from Google which you will use to back up photos, docs, etc. I reckon they will give everyone a minimum of 2Gb of storage, link it in with Google Search/Gmail/Calendar/Reader/Picasa/Open Office and there we have a FREE kickass package..

Does that make sense? I hope so.. Maybe I will finally be able to ditch the expensive Microsoft packages, and do everything online!

England vs Croatia

What a disapointing week of Euro 2008 fixtures. Having played four games in our Group E fixtures now (and winning the first two) we go and draw against Macedonia, at home... Steven Gerrard and Gary Neville both hit the post.

Worst is that we lost 2-0 to Croatia in Zagreb, after a goal from Eduardo and a freaky own goal by Gary Neville, which jumped over keeper Paul Robinsons foot as he was about to boot it down field...

Anyway my own team, Aston Villa are still vying for Premiership leaders, after a 1-1 draw with Chelsea and we are still in 7th place in the league.. Now that owner Randy Lerner outright owns the team, perhaps we can see new signings in the January transfer window? heres hoping that I can't start taking an interest in my team again!!

02 October, 2006

all alone :(

My girlfriend has left me...She has gone and left me to look after the cats on our own.. Booley and Chanel have now only got one person to 'Miaow' at...

However its not all that bad news! She's only gone on a holiday for her best friends wedding..
Jayme and Don get married next Saturday in Moncton, Canada.. I was invited, but back in January when we heard the date and location, I was busy sunning it up in Sydney and didn't have the spare cash for a flight. Thats why I am not going..

Anyway as Zee has a few problems with flying (She once screamed, "WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!" much to her mums amusement) so I hope she managed to get to Toronto without any problems! A few days shopping and sightseeing, and then on to New Brunswick.. I am left behind to play Amped3 (and tidy the house for an inspection)

Jayme and Don.. Have a wonderful day, and I wish you both a happy life together!!! Sorry I couldn't make it :)

google products

Am I a Google Fanboy?? I am a big user of Gmail > Google Calendar > Google RSS Reader > Google Writely > Picasa > Google Analytics > Google Maps/Earth > what is it about this company that makes products i just love using??

Is it the simplicity, in that the minute I open it I naturally know how to use it? or the elegance of the design, and that everything is where it should be? There are plenty of us Google fanboys out there, and a few thousand blogs about anything that may be coming out soon... even if its wild rumour!

I even PAID for my gmail invite :) a couple of dollars back in August 04!! I love the integration of Calendar with Gmail, just wish that Google could do a great To Do list now (perhaps in line with Getting Things Done??) ... who knows??

What are the websites you visit?? for me its BBC news, Times Online, Guardian, Flickr, YouTube, Gmail, and Google Reader. I have Firefox 2.0 load up all of these in Tabs, but what about all the other websites.. Well If I am interested, then I grab the RSS feed and load it in to Google Reader. That way anything new comes into that, and I go to the page if I am interested!! What a great idea!! don't you think??
So I use writely to write documents on the fly.. Picasa to manage my extensive photo collection (5000 + from Travelling alone!!) and also any images I like online.. Analytics to manage website stats.. and finally Maps to find somewhere (surprising that..) and Earth to look around the world!!

To be fair, I don't like multinationals. Why? I think its something to do with why I don't like salesmen. I don't like the grip they have on people.. SoAndSo company has substantial shares in ThisAndThat media group, who make the Daily News. Is it a coincidence that the DailyNews never has a bad story about SoAndSo? I also don't like it when a Multinational release a product that just does NOT work how its advertised, or they then go and release something 'slightly' better two weeks later..

Google don't really fit this mould (just yet..) there motto is 'Don't be Evil' and I still believe they have this ethos.. maybe in time the TRUE Google will come out, but as long as they don't release my search history to any Tom, Dick or Harry they will be good in my eyes!!!

26 September, 2006


So whos got an xbox 360 yet?? Or are you waiting for the PS3 or Nintendo Wii??
I have had mine just short of a month now, and I can honestly say that Call of Duty 2 and Project Gotham Racing 3 are two amazing launch titles... just can't stop playing them!!

My feeling is that Microsoft are starting to do a few things right for once.. I know that everyone loves to hate M$, but in my eyes they are doing great!! They have this amazing console out, that should kick Sonys a$$, and they have also developed one of the best phone software out for a long time..

Microsoft Smartphones.. I just got myself a new contract with Orange and have picked up a M3100. I'm going to link to CoolSmartPhone.com here, as they did a first class review on it recently (as did el Rego) ... "It's packed with features. You name it, it's got it. Push email, ultimate connectivity, video calling, camera, flash, Bluetooth 2.0, 400Mhz processor, slide-out keyboard and it runs on Windows Mobile 5.0 (Pocket PC), so you've got mountains of software available to download." one thing it was missing was MSN Messenger. If you want the WM5.0 version, then expect to pay £10.99.. but the WM2003 version works just fine...

Anyway, I am going to go a little more techy with my blog.. if you don't like it then let me know in the comments. Don't worry I won't be too boring, just a few notes on some toys and stuff!

One last thing ... my xbox360 gamertag jura55ik find me and try and beat me (you probably will...)

12 September, 2006


BestivalLast weekend I went to Rob da Banks Isle of Wight festival, otherwise known as Bestival.

8-11th September on the Robin Hill Country Park, I can honestly say it was amazing! It was great to catch up with my uni friends, and make some new ones as well!! Lets make some noise for OJ & Pegs, Jimmy & Lanners, Chrissy & Daisy, Finchy, Paula & Kate!!

Didn't think the weekend was actually gonna happen at one point, when I was stuck for two hours in traffic on the M3, but I was soon in Southampton.. Met up with OJ & Pegs, and Frenchy in Bedford Place and once we got all my stuff in the car we headed to the Ferry.. and what a queue awaited us...

That was the only queue though, and before you can say, "she sells seashells on the seashore" we were in the Bestival carpark and getting our lovely yellow weekend passes. Zero Mobile phone signal though, with my new phone burning the battery up :(  and not knowing where everyone was, we hung near the entrance until we met Daisy, Paula and Katy who took us to the campsite, and we got set up. Lanners & Jimmy soon rocked up, looking worse for wear, and we headed into the festy for some friday night shenanigans! I soon lost everyone near midnight, and headed back to the tent for a kip, ready for a big all dayer on Saturday.

Bestival has a fancy dress theme every year on the Saturday, and this years theme was circus. That was until they realised that a lot of people get spooked by clowns, and it ended up being a free for all! We just wandered round all day, sampling the booze and music and food, until we all headed back for a little kip and then get ready for the fancy dress parade at 6. Great plan, apart from the fact that we all woke at 7.. Me, Jimmy, Lanners, OJ and Chrissy all decided to go as Ooompah Loompahs. We had already seen some that day (who looked terrible ..NOT) and our painters suits, green hats, orange paint and spraypaint on the overalls made us look the biz! We soon headed for Fat Tuesdays tent, where we proceeded to have an ace night, which didnt finish till 7am.

I woke feeling like hell, and was in a daze all day long. The only thing going for me was the weddings at the church, as well as Pimms. Queued for 1/2 hour for some bloody cash, and just generally felt terrible.. Headed out again that night, this time without any sleep, and I was just not coping. I think its something to do with being 31.. Anyway I headed back at 11:30, back to my bed!

The morning just saw 9 unhappy campers get up, and pull some tents down.. then out and on to the ferry. I was home and clothes in the wash by 3pm.. I had an amazing weekend, it was really good to see old Uni friends again, and I reckon that Bestival will be on the tour next year as well as Glastonbury! More photos HERE

03 September, 2006

England vs Andorra

I missed the match, as it was only Andorra. It was Englands opening qualifier for Euro2008, played at Old Trafford and we cruised to a 5-0 victory. Peter Crouch got two, Steven Gerrad got one, and Jermain Defoe the other two.

See the BBC write up here

In other news, my football team Aston Villa FC have finally got rid of 'Deadly' Doug Ellis, and we now have a new chairman Randy Lerner from the USA, who bought his stake for approx £64million. With him and Manager Martin O'Neill, perhaps we will do a lot better than the previous 26 years.. New signing Stillian Petrov from O'Neills old club Celtic for £6.5mill should help..

Grandads Life

Grandads Tree at Daws Hill FarmI had Friday off work so that me and Zena could go back home to say our farewells to Grandad. It was really good to see all of my family in one place, even it was for such a sad occasion.We all gathered at Homestead Farm, and then went down to Worcester Crematorium for the service. That was followed by a church Service at St Peters in Powick, a fabulous church from the 15th Century. The church was packed, which goes to show how much my Grandad was respected in the community.

27 August, 2006

Bristol Party

A busy week at work ended with the last Bank Holiday Weekend of the year. Me and Zee had Sy and Chrystal over for Zee's speciality Cheese Fondue (750g of three different Swiss cheeses, 1/2 bottle of white wine, and some shots of vodka and you then dip different veggies and breads in...mmmmm) and we all got very drunk. It was a fun night and we were listening to Reading Festival which is happening about a mile from our house!

23 August, 2006

Terrible Holiday

Me and Zena took a couple of days off work last week, so we could go camping in Devon. As I mentioned in a previous post, we didn't end up going the first day as it was raining.. The same happened Friday, so all we did was go down to Exmouth for Zenas Grandparents Diamond Wedding Anniversary.

17 August, 2006

England vs Greece

Steve McLaren and John Terry, respectively the new Manager and Captain of the England football team, won their first game last night, in a 4-0 drubbing of Greece in a friendly. JT even managed to get first on the score sheet, with Peter Crouch grabbing two and Frank Lampard, who during the recent World Cup had the most shots in the tournament, managing to score one as well!

Lets hope this means a turn around in the quality of the England team, and a win at the 2008 European championships!

Does anyone else hate the Daily Mail?

Me and Zena are on our first holiday since coming back from travelling, and we have taken a few days off work to go camping down in South Devon. Guess what??

Its raining :(

Anyway we haven't got any further than Zees parents house in Somerset, and while I am just lazing around reading "Is it just me or is everything shit?" by Steve Lowe & Alan McArthur, the self titled encyclopedia of Modern Life; Zee has gone shopping with her mom.

02 August, 2006

Grandad :(

I took half a day off work today becuase my Grandads ill :(

He had a hip operation on Monday, which went very well but afterwards suffered a massive heart attack. Later that day he had another. I couldn't concentrate on work all day, as I kept thinking about himGT and Nan. I was phoning Mum n Dad and Olie to see who had the most recent news.

Anyway I got there today and Mum was there with Nan and Aunty's Gill and Jen.. He was sleeping a lot, but he seemed much better.


26 July, 2006

The blogs working!!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my web host providers, who last night fixed two problems with my siteground hosted web pages..

MX records are now working, and my email for this domain is now being routed to gMails Hosted emails. Also Siteground Tech Support fixed the blog last night, and comments and actual blog posts are all working as they should!!

Thanks again Siteground

10 July, 2006

The blog needs work!

I am a bit behind in the blog at the moment, guys!! I still have not put up my USA overview, and also the entire trip overview!! There are three England Posts missing (Ecuador, Portugal, End of World Cup) .. plus more news on our new house and life in Reading!

Keep in touch.. I am just v.busy here!!

PLUS why if I click comments does it go to my homepage? and not to a comment?? grrrr

Aaaargh! Sorry…

So there I was about two weeks ago happily enjoying the World Cup.. Everything was great!! In fact I was on such a high, I decided to go and completely mess my blog up.

I started afresh.. New host .. New blog provider .. Why oh why???

02 July, 2006

26 June, 2006

21 June, 2006

England vs Sweden

The final game in the group stages, and its against a team England have not beaten in 38 years, nearly as long ago when we last won the World Cup!! This time its on the more respectable time of 8 o'clock but unfortunately on ITV. In recent years, my opinion of ITV has gone downhill. I am not a BBC fanboy, but there coverage of sports always seems so much better. ITV have a tendancy to slag the team off, when they make the slightest mistake. I don't like to hear it...

With Rooney starting the game, we have to win or draw. We have already won the group, but the result of this match decides who will be playing Germany in the next round. I would rather have Ecuador... But within two minutes of the game starting, Michael Owen twists his knee and is out. England seem to play so much better in this game, with Rooney and Crouchy upfront. It isn't long before a long shot from Joe Cole puts england ahead.

I don't know what Sven says to the Engalnd boys at halftime, but after a grest first half, I sometimes wonder if its along the lines of, "Ok Lads, we are beating my home country. Lets not make it a whitewash, and lets have some sloppy defending in the second half" When they comeback on, they dont seem as fired up as they were in the first half. It isn't long before Allback scores...

With Rooney bought off in place of Stevie G, England seem to play a little better. When Gerrard scores, its amazing!! But ITV are still slagging the team off... Larson socres in the dying minutes of the game.. its 2-2. BBC's match coverage as usual is superb... Match Report Stats/Action Photo Gallery Rate Players Virtual Replay Your views

However, we have won the group and get to play Ecuador on Sunday afternoon. Sweden get Germany!! The rest of the second round up reads:

Saturday, 24 June 2006 ArgentinavMexico, 20:00 GermanyvSweden, 16:00

Sunday, 25 June 2006 EnglandvEcuador, 16:00 PortugalvHolland, 20:00

Monday, 26 June 2006 ItalyvAustralia, 16:00 SwitzerlandvUkraine, 20:00

Tuesday, 27 June 2006 BrazilvGhana, 16:00 SpainvFrance, 20:00

17 June, 2006

England Vs Trinidad & Tobago

The hype for this years FIFA World Cup is going through the roof here in England!! I suppose it doesn't help that is being held in Germany, and the Germans have said, "Come on over! even if don't have tickets.. Its time to party!!"

And you know? No-one partys like the Germans :D

I lived in Germany for three years, and had a wonderful time! The beer is cheap, and the bars were open all night! To be fair, you didn't need to know much German except, "Ein bier bitte" or "Pommes mit mayo.." and its really hot there during the summer.. I imagine everyone is really enjoying themselves:)

Everyone is 100% behind England (except the Scots.. You know who a Scottish persons favourite two football teams are? Scotland and anyone playing England..), so its a little annoying to watch a game like the one that half the country knocked off work early to see on Thursday.

Some lucky B***tard (namely my little brother) was fortunate to have a mate, who knows someone who managed to get him a bloody ticket.. While me and Sy watched the first half in this deserted pub, where we had the big screen all to ourselves. There was nobody else in the room with us.. and considering the terrible performance, you could sort of understand. However, we headed into Reading for the second half and ended up in Bar Risa.

Bar Risa is Chav central! Its great to watch England matches, because everyone is really happy (unless they lose of course), but even in there there was a sense of WTF?!? When Rooney came on, the team suddenly seemed to change up a gear, but still no goals. Until the 83rd minute when Crouchy heads one in! Closely followed by Steven Gerard, with a typical strike to the back of the net! WoooooooHooooooo!!! Match Links courtesy of the BBC:

Next game England Vs Sweden.. We don't have to win this game, it all depends on where Germany come in there group...

In other news, I am looking for a car.. Cheap insurance, bit a little different.. Less than £1000 please! Any ideas?

11 June, 2006

England vs Paraguay

Me and Zena have finally got the house sorted.. well nearly :)

Our first guests were Sy & Chrystal. Both good friends from Uni, who live a 15 minute walk away, they came over when the place was a bit of tip! Fearless Phil also came over the other night to watch the opening game of the World Cup. This weekend though, we have had some of Zenas good friends from Southampton up, Jayme and Don! They are fortunate to have been our first guests to stay over as well in our spare room!

Anyway yesterday in the 30 degree heat, me and Don watched the England Vs Paraguay game on TV courtesy of our new cable box. Nice and cool sat indoors, and with England 1-0 up we headed to a pub in Caversham to catch the second half with Sy, Phil, Chrystal and her friends. It must be the best time to drive in Reading; there was not a car on the road! But there was no parking anywhere :(

It was nice to be out in the sun on such a nice day! Even a lacklustre performance by England didn't dampen our spirits. The BBC coverage of the game was great, but the online game performance is amazing. You have to see what BBC is doing for the coverage of every game. Obviously they are doing a match report and also the action as it happens, 10 photos of the game, you can rate the players (or the Ref) and see your views. But I think the highlight of BBC onlines World Cup coverage is the videos (must be on the ISP list) and also its Virtual Replay.

Virtual replay is a Flash app, and has full statistics, highlights in detail, as well as Player/default/referee camera angles which is great for seeing how a particular play went!! clever! well its not, but its very well executed which on my broadband connection is super speedy... :)

Now that the house is looking liveable, you are welcome to come and stay over.. give us a little warning please! We are looking forward to seeing friends and family, that we haven't seen whilst we have been away! Reading is only an hour away from most places in the UK - London, Southampton, Bristol and Worcester is only 1 hr 30 mins! Give me or Zena a call/email and we will see you soon..

House Warming Party once we get paid :) all welcome!!

10 June, 2006

My new house..

Sorry there hasn't been a posting for a while, but I have been a little busy.. Moving in to our new house!

After finally coming home to the UK after our amazing world tour, me and Zee are now settled in the town of Reading. Slap bang in the middle of the Silicon Valley in UK. Both of us working for massive IT companies (I would say, but I make a point NOT to mention my place of work online)

Its 9 days now in our new two bedroom terrace, and today the NTL guy came over and fitted us with cable and a 4mb Broadband connection. It all appears to be fine.. believe me its good having TV to zone out in front of after work sometimes!! I could go on the computer, but when there was no internet its a bit boring!!

I am loving our house (as is Zena), but little Chanel Sweetie is a bit scared. She is always hiding under the bed in the spare room, and crying. She really wants to go outside, but we have to keep her in for three weeks! A couple of trips to Tescos has filled the house with unnecessary things.. hey who cares!! I think the only bad thing we are having, is with our parking situation. Its bloody terrible!!

Anyway, the build up to the World Cup is now over.. Its on for real now!! I am looking forward to see England win some games, and hopefully go all the way!! Come on ROONEY!!

25 May, 2006

The Future of this Blog

This blog was created back on April 03 2005, and back then the idea was to write a journal for when I was going travelling through NZ, Australia, Fiji and the USA. I had no idea what I was going to put within these hallowed pages! In fact I foresaw:
"Well this blog is gonna be showing you the highlights and downsides to travelling the english speaking world, as well as any of my rants about President Bliar and his New Labour crones... I'm gonna share my love of snowboarding with you. I'm also going to share with you my latest jokes.. strange but true happenings on the tinternet.. what books I have read.. which movies I have watched... what music have been listening to... what crap is on the TV this week.. and anything thing else that I can bother to share with you!"

It started off with little things about how the preperation was going.. Mostly the snowboarding prep for NZ.. A little note about my Girlfriend Zena.. something about my 30th Birthday .. but it soon started to be a little travel diary.

Thats whats it gonna continue as.. Jez Arnolds Traveling Experiences. Be they in the UK, or be they abroad in some fabulous city, or amongst the wilds of Africa.. Its just gonna be my travel blog. About me and Zena, and the wonderful things happening in our life (good n bad!)

Absolutley NO WORK or the boss may pull me up.. (unless I am leaving for pastures new!!) There may be a few bits on current affairs, nothing too boring though! I am sure you will all find it thrilling!! Let me know if you want anything different!

Anyway I am now back back and settled. My contact telephone number in the UK is +44 (0) 7970 869599 or email me.. if you don't know it, then leave me a comment! Look after yourselves!

Happy Birthday Jez :)

Img_5016Happy Birthday to me.. Happy Birthday to me.. Happy Birthday to jezzzzz.. Happy Birthday to me!!

Yep, another year and another number added to my already over the hill age of 30. I am 31 today :(

Never mind, its not too bad. I have been back in UK just over a week now, and already me and Zena have picked up jobs in Reading. I'm a Internal Account Manager, while Zee is a HR Manager. Both for big IT companys in Reading, and both of us on reasonably good wage.

Also we have our house sorted. A nice 2 bed, 2 reception Terraced house in one of the better parts of Reading, with catflaps for Chanel Sweetie... Fully furnished; the only bad thing = lack of parking!!

22 May, 2006

18 May, 2006

USA Overview

TBC :)Our USA tour is now over and after our 6 hour flight from JFK Airport in NYC to Heathrow, me and Zena are now back in lovely Somerset!

I thought I would do a quick overview of our trip through the United States of America... After a lovley 12 hour flight from Fiji to LAX, I was stopped by the Federalos for an hour long Passport check.. I thought my US trip was gonna be cut right down.. No problems though and we were picked up by Danni, and given a quick tour through Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Downtown LA whilst we suffered from jetlag!

After a day around Orange County, and of course a free day out to Disneyland where we went on all the main rides - Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain,  Indiana Jones,  and the Disney California Adventure Rollercoaster we headed off on our 10 day Cali Roadtrip.. with La Rue the dog!!

Our first stop (after outlet shopping in Barstow) was Las Vegas, and as we didn't go out until midnight we found ourselves wandering Ceasers Palace at 3 in the morning!!  The next few days were spent downtown Vegas, and also around the main Casinos themselves. However, we had to get out of Vegas for a while, so went and had a look at Red Rock Canyon. This was before our detour to the Grand Canyon via Hoover Dam and a small section of Route 66...

The Grand Canyon was really impressive.. if you ever get the chance, try and book ahead and do a mule ride to the bottom of the canyon. We didn't though. All we saw was the impressive views, from numerous viewpoints.. We headed back to Vegas, and after finding that we had no chance of a room anywhere we slept on a casino bars floor at the entrance to Death Valley!

Death Valley was overcast the day we went through, but you can see why it can get so hot. The lowest point in continential USA is here.. We drove on through a Naval Bombing Range and onto the Sierra Nevada mountain Range. Home to the Giant Sequioa National Park, it was amazing to see some huge trees and feel so insignificant. General Sherman, the biggest tree in the world, is over 2300 years old!!

We didn't have time for Yosemite, instead we headed to San Francisco. The Golden Gate bridge, Chinatown, the Worlds bendiest street, and Alcatraz were all on offer here. We also saw Barry Bonds hit his 710th Homer when we saw SF Giants vs NY Mets.. We all love San Francisco. Its a wonderful city. After a few days here we headed back to LA via the Pacific Coast Highway...

After saying byeee to Danni and Mr La Rue, we headed to collect a driveaway car, unfortunately our Toyota Matrix was not ready for a few days, so me and Zena went to Hollywood and then to Venice Beach. The next day we left LA for Route 66!!

Route 66 - I have wanted to do this for ages. I believe its iconic of the USA; small town America, cars and apple pie! 2319 miles through 8 states. We had to deliver a car from LA to Rochester NY via Chicago under a deadline - 9 days and 3000 miles!! The first night was spent getting out of LA and into Barstow CA. Stayed in the Route 66 motel! The next day we saw hundreds of Harley Davidsons on our way to Flagstaff AZ. We headed through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert NP, which was really picturesque as well as very old! A night in Albuerqueque NM was followed by a look round the Route 66 Auto Museum, and we also reached the midpoint of our journey to Chicago.

I bought some genuine cowboy boots the next day in Amarillo TX, closely followed by some lunch at Arnold Burgers... mmmm! 1 1/2 lb of burger which I tried damn hard to finish! We drove onto Clinton OK that day, and woke up early to see the Route 66 Museum. It was great!! Most attractions along the route are free, but the two museums were $5 each.. Bargain!! Oklahoma interstates were toll roads, so we took Route 66 through some lovely towns. We stayed in Baxter Springs KS, and in the morning headed to Galena. It might as well be a ghost town. Hardly anyone there, but it was a wonderful place to have a look around. Missouri wasn't that great, so it was straight through to St Louis MO for the international bowling Museum..

The last stretch of our trip along Route 66 was started at the Chain of Rocks Bridge on the Mississipi River. A little bit of history, which hasn't been in use for over 40 years! It was a nice straight road ahead all the way to our Pit Stop, and the end of Route 66 in Chicago.. We stayed in a hostel in Lincoln Park, and spent the day there on the El, sighseeing and some shopping!! Leaving early the next day was our 500 mile dash through Detroit, Canada and on to the Niagara Falls. This tourist trap was pretty spectacular, its actually three waterfalls. The most famous being Horseshoe Falls. However we couldn't spend all day here, and we drove onto Rochester NY to return the car to its rightful owner! :)

After an eventful night in the Greyhound Bus Terminal, we caught an all nighter to NYC. Our hostel is on 23rd Street, which is in the Chelsea area of Manhatten Island.

17 May, 2006

361 days away

after 361 days in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and the USA, our travels are finally over :(

06:30 Wednesday 17th May 2006 and me and Zena arrive back at London Heathrow, after a 6hour flight from JFK Airport NYC, in good old UK mist! I have gone to Zenas house in Somerset for a few days, and I will be back in Worcester next week. A week sorting things out, and then its time to find a new job and a house in the Reading Area!!

Anyway I will write a big review of my entire trip soon.. be prepared for a massive email. You don't have to read it though!! I will put the links through to my blog entrys, and of course its going to be on the blog as well.. Also don't forget my Flickr Photo albums .. New Zealand ... Australia ... Fiji ... USA!!

Anyway, I have to get off this internet now! Now that I am home, I don't want to spend forever on this thing anymore... :)

Will let you know my mobile number soon.. Keep in touch

15 May, 2006

Central Park

Central Park 1
Originally uploaded by jezarnold.

Today me and Zena went our seperate ways as Zee wanted to do more shopping.. I wanted to spend a beautiful day in the sun going around another museum, but it was not meant to be..

After leaving the room later than I hoped, I thought I should go and see the New York Public Library instead of the Natural History Museum. Except it was closed. So I decided to wander up the shops on 5th Avenue.

They were all pretty pricy.. I spent a little time drooling over laptops and HD TV's in Best Buy, and the trainers in Niketown, but they were mostly too expensive for my modest tastes! So instead of all my plans I went to sit in Central Park reading my book and waiting for Zena.

We had a picnic planned for this afternoon, but the weather was crappy and all we wanted to do was watch a DVD in the warmth. So after laughing at the playful little squirrels, we went home...

Tommorrow is our last full day in NYC, and we are spending it buying souvenirs and I am going to the Grafitti Hall of Fame as well, as well as the NY public Library to do this tour.. Tuesday me and Zee are heading up the Empire State Building first thing, then lugging our numerous bags to JFK for our 18:45 flight back to LHR with Virgin Atlantic..

14 May, 2006

The Mets

Img_4717 We moved rooms at last.. We are staying at the Chelsea International Hostel on 20th Street between 7th and 8th Ave.. its a great place only US$70 a night for the both of us.. However we have slept terribly our first two nights. We were right on the road, and only on the second floor (which would be the first floor in UK).. All night long people honking, and NYPD going off..

Anyway now we are on the top floor away from the road, and we slept like logs. Thats why we got up late today!! Anyway we headed down to Greenwich Village. The Friends apartment was selected from around here, and Zee just had to see it!! After that we decided to head for the Met..

No not the Mets, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Its world famous.. and has over 2 million pieces in its collection. Its famous for its paintings, but also has an amazing American, Egyptian and Japanese collections. It has famous paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Picasso, Monet, Cezanne and of course Van Gogh.

I was constantly taking pictures.. it was really difficult to just get around it in less than 6 hours. I am absolutely worn out now.. So we came home and ate Chinese food out of cardboard boxes!!

13 May, 2006

Union Square to United Nations

Building the UN - Zanetti Mural
Originally uploaded by jezarnold.

There is so much to do in NYC, and even if you are here for a week like we are.. you still couldn't do it all!

We wanted to do a little sightseeing today, so our first stop was Union Square. Me and Zee split up for a while as I wanted to look through bookstores and Zee wanted to do shopping! The Strand was my first stop, and its one of NYC's famous secondhand bookstores. As I wasn't looking for anything in particular, I found it frustrating wandering through. I ended up just getting a Strand canvas bag. After here I went to Forbidden Planet, and then Barnes and Noble. Both of these stores were amazing..

After meeting Zena (half an hour late again!) We headed to Flatiron, which is this triangular shaped Skyscraper and then up 5th Ave. We went past the Empire States Building, New York Public Library and Grand Central Terminal. Then headed for the United Nations...

John D Rockefeller Jr donated the money to purchase this land for the UN, and its looking pretty dilapidated these days. However I had been wanting to do a tour for some time, so as I still have a valid NUS card I did the Student tour!!

It was pretty interesting as well. We saw donated Artwork, as well as the main conference rooms including the Security Council, Economic Council and of course the General Assembly rooms. Normally all the flags are up, but they have this rule that says "In bad weather they come down".. apparently it rained for a short while earlier!!

12 May, 2006

Remembering NYC

Img_4617 Today me and Zena went to Ground Zero to remember all those who perished on Sept 11, 2001.. it was a pretty harrowing experience and one that will always be with me. It was a cold grim day today and afterwards we headed down to the NYSE to see if we could visit the Trading Floor, but were told it has been closed to visitors since 2001. They was NYPD all over the place, some armed with Automatic weapons.

Later this afternoon we went to see United 93. I cried...

NYC is a wonderful city, and just walking though Lower Manhattan today, catching the Staten Island Ferry and using the Subway.. I was just constantly remembering everything that happened that day 56 months ago.. Its still clear in my memory.

Rest in Peace. You will always be remembered... :(

10 May, 2006

Niagara Falls

Horseshoe Falls
Originally uploaded by jezarnold.
After a 500 mile dash along I-94 and a quick run through Canada, we arrived in Niagara Falls. We stayed in one of the cheapest motels so far, and it wasn't long before we saw the beauty of these waterfalls.

Its actually three falls - two of them are on the US side (American falls and another smaller one) and Horsheshoe falls which straddles the border between the USA and Canada. They are mighty impressive...

We went for a walk the evening we got there down there, and again first thing the next day... Rainbows and mist everywhere; apparently its magical in the winter!

Anyway on we drove to Rochester via Outlet Stores, where I got a Samsonite Airline CarryOn for half the price in that store, which was already 2/3 retail!! Bargain.. I love it!! Rochester seemed a very nice city, and the lady whose car we delivered was very pleased to see it back..

We were pretty unhappy to see it go though.. The Toyota Matrix served us well on our trip across the states, and very fuel economical! especially now the price of gas is catching up with UK!!

Instead of staying for a night in Rochester and getting the Amtrak the next day, we decided to do an overnight Greyhound for a couple of dollars more. It was real fun waiting in a drug dealing neighbourhood, with US Border Patrol questioning people, Crack Whores trying to get money for there next fix, and the heroine Greyhound Lady threatening misfits with her baseball bat.. Great Times!!

Anyway arrived in the Big Apple... Woooohooo!! Its pretty pricey here, so are flying back four days early. We arrive in LHR at 06:30 Wednesday 16th May!

08 May, 2006


Img_4474Chicago - The Windy City.. The Second City.. is amazing!! Here and San Francisco have been my favourite US destinations so far..

Unfortunately we only have a day to explore, so after a go on the El, its a wander through the streets and a little shopping for Zena (I did my faves - Apple, Niketown and book shops, whilst Zee did Bloomingdales for a makeover)

We wandered past the beach on Lake Michigan and then back to the Arlington House hostel in Lincoln Park, and then caught a bus so we could go out for Pizza at Ginos East. Famous for its Deep Pan Chicago style.. mmmm

Got to come back here one day.. I LOVE IT!!

07 May, 2006

Route 66 - St Louis MO to Chicago IL

Early start today as we want to get to Chicago to get a room... There is only a few things to see, but one of the most important icons on Route 66 is the Chain of Rocks bridge over the Missisippi in St Louis.

This bridge has a 22' bend half way across, because of this it was closed in the 1960's .. its still open to pedestrians/cyclists. Its really amazing..

After that though was the dead straight I-55 to Chicago.. set up Cruise control and we were away, and apart from a brief stop in Elkhart IL, we were soon arriving next to the "Historic Route 66 - END" on Jackson Blvd, Chicago. Total Mileage?? 2295 ... only 100 extra miles!

06 May, 2006

Route 66 - Baxter Springs KS to St Louis MO

Img_4373We have managed to stay in every State on the Route 66 so far. The one I was worrying about was Kansas. After all there it is only 13 miles (or less than 1%) of the entire trip

It is one of the most beautiful parts of Route 66. People really look after there homes here, and Galena is one of the most photographic towns we have come across. It used to be famous for its mining, its banks and its brothels :)

We stopped here for photos because of a Route 66 photobook we came across, called "The Tropic of Route 66", a Japanese book we discovered in Adrian TX. It had a photo of Bucks Recreation.

Just because of that we had to visit... We soon discovered Bucks Recreation, apparently it used to be a whorehouse, (hehehe) then a pool hall. Anyway after that we drove straight on to St Louis, so we could got to the International Bowling Museum. Pretty standard...

Staying in HI St Louis (V.Friendly Manageress) however our roomies are mad and/or smelly.. Total Mileage so far? 2051

05 May, 2006

Route 66 - Clinton OK to Baxter Springs KS

Img_4340 Headed striaight to the Route 66 Museum. We did pass the National Route 66 Museum, but the book said that this was the better one, so we followed its guidance!! It was pretty impressive, giving a decent run down on what has happened in the last 70 years of its existance.

It was established in 1926, It originally ran from Chicago, Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California before ending at the beach in Santa Monica, California for a total distance of 2,347 miles (3,755 km). A major migratory route west during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. When Eisenhower became President, he had seen the German Autobahns during WW2 and decided the USA needed an Interstate system. It was made a Historic Route in 1985 when it was finally decommissioned. For more info visit Wikipedia or the Route 66 Museum online.

After we reached Oklahoma City, we discovered the I-44 in Oklahoma state was a Toll Road, so we took a very scenic route instead.. it was non-stop driving!! We stayed at Baxter Inn in Baxter Springs KS.. total Mileage so far? 1740

04 May, 2006

Route 66 - Amarillo TX to Clinton OK

We had a nice lazy morning, shopping in a few malls, trying to find internet (no such luck at the Library and I couldn't do anything with my piccys on the Macs at Schlotskys Deli)..

Anyway last night I had been to Cavenders Boot City, and I decided to go back to have another look at some cowboy boots. I had put some aside, but as I had another look I came across some beautys. I had to get them!! My USA souvenir

We had also found out there was an Arnold Burger in Amarillo. It was closed last night, so we had to go for some lunch. The standard burger is two 3/4 lb patties with a big bun.. It was damn tasty, but I just couldn't finish it.. I tried Lanners, honest!!

As were driving out of Texas, we decided to pass through MaClean to see the Museum. Zena was driving, and we got a bit confused. Before we knew it a Texas State Trooper was given her a Driving Violation Ticket.. he was more interested in what England was like!!

Stayed at Clinton Inn in Clinton OK.. total mileage 1424

03 May, 2006

Route 66 - Alburqueque AZ to Amarillo TX

Img_4273 Instead of heading to Santa Fe, we took the alternate route so we could see the Route 66 Auto Museum. Its in Santa Rosa, and has some amzing classics.. including my favourites the Ford Mustang.. I was hoping to see a Shelby but was out of luck!

As we crossed the border into Texas, we soon came upon Adrian TX - The midpoint of Route 66, where its 1139 miles to Los Angeles or Chicago.

Found out some real useful info.. the new Disney/Pixar Movie Cars?? its about Route 66... The lady who owned the place was real friendly. Apparently the burgers are great, but we didn't get any.. bought an amazing Route 66 photo book instead (and got the lady to sign it!!)

After the Midpoint we came across more tumbleweed, and then the Cadillac Ranch just outside Amarillo TX. Loads of Cadillacs buried nose first into the ground.. got some spraypaint and painted "Jez loves Zena"... ain't I sweet!!

After a browse around Cavenders Boot City, we stayed at Camelot Motel in Amarillo.. total mileage? 1219

02 May, 2006

Route 66 - Flagstaff AZ to Alburqueque NM

Img_4177_2 Mayday - The day without Immigrants..

Today thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly of Mexican origin, decided to strike. They striked because of HR4437, which would make the immigrants even more resticted than they already are... its a difficult choice for many Americans.

Anyway we were heading on. We went through Holbrook AZ on our way to the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert NP. Petrified wood is when logs millions of years old, become stuck in dams and over millenia absorbs the minerals flowing down the stream. It soon turns to stone. There is some amazing examples in this National Park. It also has wonderful vistas of beautiful desert scenery.. truly stunning!

Carried on through Navajo Indian Country and stayed at Rodeway Inn in Alburqueque.. total Mileage so far? 908

01 May, 2006

Route 66 - Barstow CA to Flagstaff AZ

Img_4116 After staying the night in the Route 66 Motel in Barstow CA, we got up early the next morning for our 300 mile journey east!

As we got on the I-40 we saw loads of bikers heading back to California. We met up with a few later in Amboy CA, when we took a Route 66 detour and found out there was a huge biker festival and they were all heading home. Loads of Harleys roaring up the highway all day long!!

We took a few detours along the way, otherwise the route is interstate and its boring! We took the same Route 66 detour we took with Danni the week before, it was just as fun! We discovered the cruise control... it makes driving so easy!

That night we stayed in a Budget Inn at Flagstaff Arizona.. total mileage so far?? 719

30 April, 2006

Route 66

It's difficult to stop everyday and write an entry for the blog. Most motels have free hi-speed wireless connections, but I haven't got a laptop to utilise this.. so I haven't managed to find anywhere yet.

Until Amarillo... Its quite a big city in Northern Texas. Famous for the Cadillac Ranch and also the song made famous by Peter Kay for comic Relief... Anyway we went to the visitor centre today to ask where we could use ye olde tinternet. We were told the Public Library or Schlotskys Deli.. The library used PCs, but would not let anyone plug in an external device, and schlotskys use iMacs.. So i have 200 photos on my camera that I can't move to my iPod.. Thats why you don't have any piccys!!

Anyway I am going to write some entrys soon.. I am pre-dating this to the 30th April (the day we started our 9 day journey across to Fairport, NY via route 66) .. I will, when I get decent internet access, tell you what has happened each day on our amazing Route 66 adventure..

Back in LA..

Img_4101 After a great drive back down the Pacific Coast Highway, via one of the Central Coast wine regions, we arrived back in Long Beach. Ordered some pizza for us all, as a thank you for Danni and La Rue for showing us around California and also Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon!!

The next morning we said goodbye to them both, and headed on the LA Metro to Koreatown to pick up our driveaway car. They had two cars leaving Los Angeles. A Volvo S60 was heading to Chicago, and a Toyota Matrix was heading to New York. As the Toyota had a smaller engine, we went with that. However we weren't allowed to take it until Sunday. So for the rest of the day we explored Hollywood!

Hollywood, the place where movies are no longer made (Its Burbank now..), but it still has its walk of Stars, and some touristy places.. We even did a tour of the L. Ron Hubbard Exhibition. Ron is the founder of Scientology (well, actually he just came up with the principles of how to lead your life) and its quite a decent exhibition. You can't just wander around, its a guided tour. Anyway its quite interesting... Unfortunately Scientologys got its problems. Some people think its an organised business masquerading as a religion!! Apparently his son also said that "99% of what my father ever wrote or said about himself is totally untrue" ...

Headed on the Metro buses to Venice Beach that night and stayed in the Cadillac Hotel. Its a dorm, but its got a great location. Next morning we wandered the Venice Boulevard, and I met up with Jasper and his mates later for a beer and a catch up!

Now, we were meant to pick the car up Sunday.. but we thought as long as its after close of business Saturday, it would be ok!! So after a long bus journey downtown, and then a metro to Koreatown, we picked our driveaway up at 5pm and drove on to Barstow, CA...

Route 66 here we come!!

29 April, 2006

San Francisco

We arrived in San Francisco late that day and found a great place to stay, right near downtown. We have been having a few problems on the way, in that we have to get La Rue (Dannis dog) a place that allows pets, even if we don't declare it.. So finding a place in Downtown is always good news.

The next day after doing some much needed laundry, we headed to the Golden Gate Bridge. This bridge is pretty impressive... I took loads of photos as usual, and we walked to the first pylon. I am not that keen on heights, so it was pretty hard!

Later that evening we bought some tickets for San Francisco Giants Vs New York Mets. These baseball (Rounders!!!) tickets cost $20 and we had great views (See Flickr photos for more) Unfortunately the Giants lost 4-1...

The next day we headed to Fishermans Wharf first thing to get tickets for Alcatraz, and then me and Zena went for a walk through North Beach, Chinatown and Union Square. We got a tram back via Hyde Street and also the worlds crookedest street.. and we had to run for the boat to Alcatraz. We missed our scheduled departure, but were fortunate to get the final boat across. Its pretty amazing at Alcatraz, and I felt as if I already knew where I had to go... I realised from constantly playing THPS3 - Tony Hawks on Sy's PS2... I had that level nailed! :)

25 April, 2006

Giant Sequioas

Img_3898_1An early start for our trips to Sequioa & Kings Canyon NP and hopefully Yosemite. It's a great drive whichever way you go up to the National Park, and we were a bit concerned when we saw snow and mist on the edge of the road on the way up.
By the time we had got to the Giant Sequioa Museum, there was nothing to worry about. We had passed a few Giant Sequioas on the way up, but the museum was covered in snow and had an amazing Big Tree Trail.
If you look carefully you can see me in between these two huge trees!!
These trees are beautiful. They are so big and so old, with some of them more than 2000 years old.. I kept repeating, "Wow.." After a walk around the meadow where there must have been 50 of these Sequioa trees, we headed to the biggie... General Sherman!
Yes, a tree named after Sherman - Snowboard Meister of Yellowsnow fame! Its absolutley massive. 1300 tons.. more than 2300 years old, 31m in circumferance, 83m tall... its the largest tree in the world!

We left at 12:30 on the way to Fresno, and then Yosemite. But by the time we had got to the bottom of the hill, which was misty and snowy it was 2pm.. no time for Yosemite. On to San Francisco...

24 April, 2006

Death Valley

Img_3858The Grand Canyon was amazing, but we had to be gone by 16:30 to make it to Las Vegas, so that we could stay the night and then head on to Death Valley. It was at least a 6 hour drive...

I drove the interstate for a while, until it got dark, and we had arrived in Kingman. Then Danni drove, back across the Hoover Dam and onto Vegas about 9pm on a Saturday night. We started looking for a motel. We discovered quite soon that Vegas was pretty full.. so we drove onto the next town.

That was full too... So we drove onto the next town. Guess what?? Yep, no beds. We finally arrived in our destination which was Beatty, Nevada and the entrance to Death Valley. We went around every Motel and even the casino. No Beds available. We had one option left...

Zena had asked in the casino, jokingly, if it was okay to sleep on the lounge bar floor. The bartender said as long it was okay with his relief, then yeah! So after a few beers and some apple pie, me and Zena grabbed a sleeping bag and sleeping sheet and got some shut eye. Until Danni woke us up. She had slept in the car, but at 4am decided she needed the toilet, and locked herself out of the car..

We couldn't phone AAA (as they were 2 hours away in Vegas), and we couldn't phone the local Sheriff department until 7.. so Danni had to sleep on the floor next to us!! The Sheriff's Deputy came round at 7, and we headed on... to Death Valley!!

Death Valley National Park has the hottest, driest and lowest records in the USA, with an average rainfall of 2"... It was pretty cool to go around, but don't go in the summer... We saw salt flats, the Devils Golf Course and of course Badwater - the lowest spot in the USA.

After we had finished in Death Valley, we thought we may have time to get Sequioa National Park in California, but we arrived in Vallisia at 6pm. Everyday I have thought we could do more driving than this, but America is one big country!!

23 April, 2006

Grand Canyon

Img_3822_1One of the seven wonders of the Natural world, the Grand Canyon has to be seen to be believed! As we are doing a few National Parks in the USA we decided to get a $50 annual pass, and when you have three on the list (Grand Canyon, Sequioa, Yosemite), it already saves you money.

I wasn't expecting the sheer vastness of the canyon. The rim is at 7000 feet, the basin is a mile deep in places , and its 277 miles around.. As the official Grand Canyon website states,

"This canyon is a gift that transcends what we experience. Its beauty and size humble us. Its timelessness provokes a comparison to our short existence."

Unless you spend a few days there, all you can really do is drive from viewpoint to viewpoint, and some short walks. If you get the chance to ever go, try and book a day long mule ride that actually takes you inside the canyon itself. We walked about 2 miles in total, it still look us ages, because we were constantly taking photos. Also I was slightly petrified of slipping in.. The most asked question for Park Rangers is, "How many people die here each year?" (it ranges from one to many)

"If you don't have a photo, then you don't have a memory" is Danni and Zenas new phrase, which is taking the mickey out of me, as I am constantly taking photos. I must admit thought that the USA has some of the most memorable views ever.. Lucky people, you live in a great place.. No wonder only a quarter of you have left, there is loads to see inside your country!!

22 April, 2006

Route 66 to Williams, AZ

Img_3786 We left Las Vegas on Friday morning, on our way to the Grand Canyon. As it takes more than 6 hours to drive there, we decided to take a nice drive via the Hoover Dam and also a small section of Route 66.

Hoover Dam was built back in 1936, and its a pretty impressive structure. It provides water and electric to some of Arizona, Nevada and Los Angeles County. There is a big security check on the way in. We decided to not pay the $11 entrance and just explored the top instead. We soon arrived in Kingman, AZ.

This has a great Route 66 museum and its also the end of the longest uninterupted stretch of Route 66. We headed on through, and it wasn't long before we saw tumbleweed and trailer parks! We soon hit Hackberry, which has an old store and even older cars.. it was like stepping back in time! The next town, had without doubt the best Cheeseburger I have tried yet in the USA (forgot the name of the town!!)..

We finished the day by arriving in Williams, Arizona. This is the town for budget motels, and is one of the Gateway towns to the Grand Canyon. We went to the Route 66 Diner, and then Danni and Zena went out for a few drinks. I wish I had.. they had a so much fun!

21 April, 2006

Viva Las Vegas

The City of Sin.. The first stop on our 12 day tour of California, Nevada and Arizona.

..and what a place!! As we are taking Mr La Rue (Danni's Dog) with us on our trip, we couldn't book into any of the Casinos, so had to settle for a Super 8 Motel. Perfectly fine though, but its one street behind the strip, this is where you spot all the seedy aspects of Las Vegas.

We arrived in the evening, so were lucky to see Vegas lit up at night time. Its amazing! We went out late that night to Caesers Palace (a Roman Themed Casino), and had a nose about this fabulous casino. The next day went to Red Rock Canyon which has amazing geology.. and later on went Downtown, which was the original spot for the Casinos back when the Mafia ran the town. Tried a classic 99c Shrimp Cocktail...mmmmm!

The next day we headed out to explore more of the town. We started at Luxor (an Egyptian Themed Casino), whose 41.5 billion candle power can be seen over 200km away.. Then it was on to Excalibur (a King Arthur themed Casino), New York New York (Guess the theme..), MGM Grand, Belaggio (Famous for its fountains and also where Oceans Eleven was filmed), Paris Las Vegas (half scale model of the Eiffel Tower), Casino Royale (white trash central) and finally the Mirage (where Roy of famous Vegas White Tiger act, Siegfried and Roy got mauled).

I played a few slot machines, and at Casino Royale I played a little Roulette.. I lost it all :) but the best thing about Vegas? If you are gambling the drinks are free! just leave a $1 tip..

14 April, 2006

The Longest Day

Thursday 13th April 2006 - One of the longest days of my life..

Img_3375 Yesterday we flew into Los Angeles International (known to all Angelenos as LAX .. pronounced lacks). Our first US destination, and nearly my final stop. Why? Well some criminal with the same name as me is currently wanted by the FBI..

I know that I am not wanted by the Fed's, but the Customs guy who checked me into the USA didn't. I was asked to "follow me please sir" and placed in the Secondary Inspections department at LAX. Zena followed me but was not allowed to sit with me... I had to wait an hour whilst they phoned Washington DC and confirmed it wasn't me. I was pretty nervous throughout... not because I was a criminal, but because of the Salad Bowl I bought in Fiji without a certificate and receipt.. ooops! That was the excitement of the day!

Anyway Thursday started with me and Zena leaving the Beachouse and heading back to Nadi on the Bus. Unsurprisingly the bus went nowhere near our hotel, so we waited at Nadi Airport for an hour until the free bus came to pick us up. Took us back to Nadi Bay Hotel, where we were going to shower and collect our left luggage.

We got a taxi back to the Airport later and after checking in, had a nose around Duty Free. I saw some Mount Gay Rum for F$5 for a 200ml bottle, and I also got some Kava... its semi-narcotic, so was a bit worried if I would have problems getting it into LA..

As usual our Air New Zealand flight was freezing, in a crappy 767 with no individual TV screens. Tried to sleep but woke up during Chicken Little. Must have flown in a time warp during the journey as we arrived 8 hours before we left! wtf?!? ;)

We were met by Danni and then given a quick tour of LA. Started off by heading to Santa Monica Pier, and then we went to Beverly Hills and looked around the shops on Rodeo Drive! Zee loved it! Then we headed to The Standard which is downtown.. It had wonderful views of the Skyscrapers. Had a few Vodka Tonics, and then headed back to Long Beach where Danni lives.

By the time we got home it was nearly 1 o'clock in the morning, and we had a Thursday that lasted nearly 40 hours... We were both shattered zzzz

13 April, 2006

Fiji overview…

If I could have any superpower it would be hindsight. (or xray vision..)

We really loved Fiji, but I wished that I could have had some advice about where I should NOT have gone... there is so much to do everywhere you travel, but sometimes you just want to chill out on a holiday and have it all easy and perfect!

If someone had told me, "Don't bother with that Pass; get one way tickets. It works out cheaper" or "Don't bother with So and So Resort, the food is terrible" I would have asked why, and followed some local knowledge.

Thats one of the problems with going somewhere in the first place. Actually choosing the right places. Normally a combination of the Guidebooks, and recommendations means you can find a great little spot, but at sometimes you end up at a dive! Even the Guidebooks get it wrong sometimes (or they make a place soo amazing, that it is best to avoid..) I don't want to miss the pleasures of travelling, like finding that amazing restaurant/beach that no-one had ever been to before. I just want to avoid the blunders or errors that loads of travellers have come across..

I appreciate that to experience good things, you must have also suffered horrible things. Its a part and parcel of life. I just hate getting exploited :) Some of the locals see a foreign face, and its "Ker-ching.. $$$$'s".. perhaps we have been doing that for so long, its time for some payback!

Anyway.. Fiji. If you are going anytime soon, dont bother getting a Bula Pass as it definitlely works out cheaper going one way between a couple of nice resorts on different islands. Also I would avoid Sunrise Resort if you can (unfortunately its very heavily promoted by the Travel Agents in the Airport) The buses in Fiji are perfectly acceptable to get around, at very cheap prices. Dont expect to have drinking water anywhere. Let alone electricity or Internet!!

If you want a little luxury for a few days, go to Oarsmans Bay on Nacula Island, Yasawas. (F$81 pppn inc meals) Also we found the best budget resort on the Yasawas Islands as White Sandy Bay (F$55 pppn inc meals) In Nadi, the Nadi Bay Hotel is great (F$26 pppn with AirCon), and on the Coral Coast, spend a few nights at the Beachouse.. its superb. Went for three nights and spent a week! (F$25 pppn F$8 meals)