Monday, 22 June 2009

Curse of Corsica (Final Part)

So, for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of my Corsica trip. Sorry it's taken so long, I haven't been busy, just lazy.

This was another long walk. It was going to be a 'stroll' (like they all are) towards the river. We did that bit, which was relatively easy. We saw a nice Genovese bridge.
Then Stephen and I jumped in the ice-cold water as dare. I may not be having children after that. We decided to carry on as that bit was quite okay. And it wasn't that far. Which was true, as the crow flies. However, with the steep gradient and the fact that mountain paths zigzag, it was really far and really hot. Also, as we only anticipated a short walk we didn't have much water; so Stephen and I raced ahead and bought some and came back and gave it to the dying fogies. We then had to wait at Evisa, as our cars were still at where we started, so the Dads basically ran the walk we just did and then drove back. As the road was long and windy we had to wait a good two hours. I read a French magazine, snoozed in Evisa's town square and ate Milka.

Everyone bar the dads drove to the beach and they decided to walk it. They looked at the map and thought the path looked easy. Unfortunately for them, this path didn't actually exist. Typical Corsica. so we waited ages and then went on a boat ride. Cue pretty photos.
The lover's cave ('une grotte')

'une fenetre''une porte'. Thank Mr Ashmead for all pretty pictures.

We had a meal, (I had some salad thing I forgot, then wild boar then A creme brulee with Myrtle wine in it).

Went sea kayaking, packed, had the last supper. Whilst we were sea kayaking, Stephen's new-found respect for the sea meant we couldn't go that far our (we were in a double kayak), which was fine with me. It was still nice.

Early start, 4:15 French time (3:15 GMT +1). Three hour drive to Ajaccio, needless to say we were very tired. Had a meal at a pub which was really nice. End of holiday.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Merciless Straw Man

Don't you mean The Wicker Man? No, I have no compulsion to view that film let alone write about it. Though, alas, I have done so just there. No, the straw man is an often used rhetorical device which distracts away from an argument. An example could be:

Person 1: I think abortion is acceptable
Person 2: Think of all the dying children in Africa and how they don't deserve to die.

Okay, perhaps the least subtle example imaginable, but that is a straw man argument. I was reading a Times Article on Gordon Ramsay's misogynist outburst, and there was a rather ludicrous example of a straw man argument. The basic line of the article was that Ramsay was wrong for saying someone was a porcine lesbian but it was also symptomatic of a common misogynistic trend in all males. However, Patrick from Blackpool helpfully added:

When I left school in 1982 boys were hugely outperforming girls and it was deemed a problem. We then had 25 years of trying to raise their results - but tampering with the system. It was recognised that girls were conscientious with coursework. So coursework now takes priority. Any help for the boys

Thank you, Patrick from Blackpool. You want the TES, I'm afraid, and a question mark. If you were an example of the boys that 'were hugely outperforming girls', well, those girls had problems. I think I now understand why misogyny is still rife.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Third time lucky, eh? Blogger Buzz suggested what seemed to be a really cool application for Firefox. And from what I've seen, everyone seems to enjoy it and think it's the bee's knees. The application is called Zemanta.

If you knew what it does (or meant to do) you'd probably think 'Why had no-one thought of this earlier. This is genius!'. Imagine this scenario, one that I frequently face. You are writing away and you think 'I need something to jazz this post up a bit.' Perhaps an image here, a link there. Then you think, I will have to trawl through Creative Commons sites (such as Wikipedia) to find the content I want. Then go through the hassle of inserting it, or highlighting the word, and copy and pasting the link. No more, my friends. Zemanta does this for you. I finds the stuff you want and then with just one click it inserts it.

That's the idea anyway. So far I've had limited success. First, the images only go on the right side of the text. Second, you can't preview when Zemanta is activated. Third, if you spell check with Zemanta stuff, everything goes crazy. I'm liking the italics today. Then you get scripting errors. And on my last attempt I managed to select and dump just about everything Zemanta had to offer, wanted or not, onto my blog. Some of this may be the fault of blogger. My dedicated readers (how snobby does that sound? Dedicated readers) will know of my love-hate relationship with blogger. Some of the fault may lie at my doorstep. It wasn't Zemanta's fault that I highlighted and dumped everything, it was doing what I told it to do.

So the jury is still out on Zemanta
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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Curse of Corsica (part 2)

Today I have been tidying my room and sorting my junk out. If you do not throw away at least one bin liner of rubbish, you haven't done it properly. As a break I have decided to update my blog. So here is the eagerly awaited (by three people) second instalment of the Curse of Corsica trilogy.

Tuesday was one of two exceptionally long walks. There is an area of Corsica that is preserved, and can only be accessed by foot or boat (and presumably plane/helicopter in emergencies). So my dad thought it was a good idea to walk to a village in this reserve, and we did. The first part to a beach was fine, but the next bit was difficult. Bear in mind that the weather was HOT, and the terrain was up (at first). This was one of two routes, the one that went up and over the ridge, the other being along the cliffside. So we finally got to the village of Girolata and had paninis. This was the first attack of a rogue tomato.* Tomatoes in paninis are hot and slippery and well, they burn. So Kath was attacked by hers.

On the way back to the car we walked the coastal path owing to less up and down terrain. However, this way was even harder as the path was made of loose rocks and was bordered by a precipitous drop. My mother was wearing sandals, so didn't have the best grip on the terrain so she slipped. I heard a scream and through my mind went a scene like this (not that my mum would ever swing on a vine).

However, she just rolled down the path and emerged caked in dust and with two cuts to her elbow. We went home exhausted and had a barbecue.

As the rest of my family had had their incidents, it was turn for mine. I was somewhat anxious about it as Stephen, Sarah and I were due to go SCUBA diving and I had watched my brother nearly drown earlier in the week. So we went to the SCUBA school (or école plongée), and got changed. I never appreciated how difficult it was to get changed into wetsuits. Still, on reflection, I bet divers were glad when neoprene was invented.
So we went out on this boat to a rock on the Corsican coast and waited to go diving. As we were beginners we had 1-1 instruction, so had to wait our turn. Sarah went pretty much first, I was the last to go in. I was sitting in this boat in a full wetsuit (aptly known as a steamer) under the baking Mediterranean sun for about half an hour. I was getting more and more dehydrated and overheated and then it was my turn.

I went into the sea, donned my SCUBA gear and set off diving. The initial bit my ears really hurt as I hadn't quite mastered the equalisation process. We stuck close to the rock and being a beginner I had not quite mastered my decent and accent yet. To stop me plowing straight into the stone edifice of underwater Corsica I had to push of it with my hand, and I put it straight on an urchin. They looked a lot like this, but these are from the Caribbean.
The sudden shock with the stabbing pain coupled with the aforementioned dehydration resulted in nothing. Nill. Luckily it was only a minor scratch and it didn't even bleed. But the blood was to come later... It came for me to return to the boat, just as I was getting use to this diving malarkey. I surfaced and then suddenly my instructor's face looked worried. In broken English he asked 'Ears okay?'. At this point my wetsuit was covering my still waterlogged ears so I couldn't hear. I just signalled the internationally recognised okay sign and got onto the boat. As I was the last one out into the water I was the last one back and everyone was waiting for me. People were looking at me and Stephen asked, 'What happened?'. I was puzzled and slightly concerned at this point. 'Would someone tell me what was supposed to have happened?' I thought. I took my mask off, wiped my face and there was blood on my hands. Simply, I was having a nosebleed. Apparently it's quite common. So Wednesday was a day of firsts, SCUBA diving and my first ever nosebleed.

For Thursday to Sunday's adventures, see part 3. They're not quite as exciting, so will be abounding in pretty pictures. Everyone loves pretty pictures.


Monday, 15 June 2009

The Curse of Corsica

Yesterday I came back from a family holiday in Corsica. There were seven of us in total, as we were accompanied by the Elderkin family (consisting of two parents, Kath and John, and one of their daughters, Sarah). It was the second time I have been there, and, by my estimations, we managed to offend a local gypsy woman who cursed all our trips there. This was not to say that it wasn't an enjoyable trip. It was. However, there are always, to put it mildly, glitches. So here is a run down of my holiday.

Sunday we arrived in Corsica after having got up at 3:15am, for a 6am flight. We left a wet and cold Gatwick and found ourselves in a hot and dry Ajaccio. We got our hire-car and drove for about an hour to a town called Sajone (like Saigon, but with an 'ah' not and 'ay' sound). We had some lunch and then went for a swim. Cue incident number one.

Stephen and I usually do not go out of our depths when in the sea, but this time the sea got deep and then there was a sandbank which caused it to get shallower. I didn't like being so far out so I turned around, and found it hard to get out. It was difficult to get anywhere, but I pushed on and got to the shore. Stephen, despite turning around just after me, was finding it a lot harder. So much so that he had to ask John for help. The waves were getting choppier and they both would disappear under a wave to reappear some seconds later. They were obviously struggling. My mum was getting hysterical, I was praying and we watched them slowly make their way forward. After about ten agonising minutes Stephen slumped onto the beach, completely white, and crawled up to where we had our stuff. It was scary.

We then drove to where we were staying, having to drive through Les Calanques. These are precipitous cliffs that fall into the sea, with huge coaches blocking the winding roads. They were stunning though. We got to our accommodation in a little village called Partinello (or Partinellu in Corse). It was a bit basic, and had no kettle or mugs. We were obviously in France.

This was a quiet day and we went to the nearest big town, Porto. It's a nice little port town with an old Genovese Tower.We went to the beach, playing volleyball, sunbathing and explored said tower. The glitch occurred a bit later when my dad fell through an old chair he was sitting on. It happened with a startling crunch and the sound of a shattering bowl and there was my dad surrounded by broken wood.

That's it for part one...stay tuned for the other two Ashmead incidents, mine involving Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus...

Thursday, 4 June 2009


Today I voted in the European election and also for my local election. I've now voted a grand total of two times, and put crosses (at least I hope I did) on four ballot papers. I'm a big boy. I hope that Gordon Brown calls a general election soon, so I can say I've done one of those too. It was a bit twee, because our whole family went down and voted together. I'm not going to disclose who I voted for, but I managed to create a facebook monster. I told my ex-housemate (oh, it is so sad to write that) Rose that I wasn't going to vote conservative (a more pleasant alternative was the cannibalisation of my hypothetical children, as I told her), leading to intense debate as to who I was going to vote for. Well, I say intense, I did get 10 notifications on facebook as to the debate. Which wasn't a debate, Rose surmised I had voted Labour and only one other person was involved. Whether she was right or wrong, again, it's none of your business.

I'm thinking of doing French A Level this year, as well as getting a job. It's not set in stone, but I'd love to learn it and it'll give me an incentive. I'll have plenty of opportunity to practice. Stephen, my twin, is practically fluent, my dad is really good, and I'm going to Corsica next week.

My laptop is being really slow. I need more virtual memory. So I'll think I'll give the poor thing and myself a rest. Bonne nuit.