Wednesday, July 16, 2008


What happened to Clustrmaps?

The Gnomad has been using their really useful little map since the inception of this blog to see where you, dear reader, are viewing from. Suddenly there is no more map, just a link to their website. The Gnomad notices a similar thing on other blogs too.

Oh dear! Are the old archived maps lost? What's happening? Gnomad has followed the link, signed in and set up the Clustrmap again, below the original, but will leave the original in place in case normal service resumes.

[edit: now resolved, see comments]

Friday, July 04, 2008


The Gnomads are enjoying a very pleasant vacation after the hassles of the Magic Kingdom. Yesterday saw the Gnomads and the Squablins on an outing to the Tops.

Now, dear reader, might be a good time to introduce the "Squablins". The Gnomadette is from a large family and has many relatives who live nearby, including two younger sisters and a cousin. These three are all young ladies in their late teens or early twenties who live with the Gnomads in their Philippine home. They take care of most of the household chores and ensure that the Gnomad's life on the Island is one of ease and relaxation. The Squablins are delightful and very pleasant company, except of course, when they fall to bickering with each other, which the Gnomad is very relieved to say doesn't actually happen that often, but on the occasions it does happen has earned them the collective noun "Squablins".

So the Gnomads hired a car and a driver for the afternoon and, accompanied by the three Squablins, took an excursion to the Tops. The Tops is a small tourist location here on the Island. It is at the top of one of the mountains that forms the central spine of the Island and has splendid views over the Island, across the sea and over the town. There is a large circular paved promenade with toilet facilities, fast food, vendors of souvenirs (pasalubong) etc. These amenities surround the promenade on about one third of its circumference. The building is very much in the local style and does not obscure the best of the views at all. This being Typhoon season, and therefore not a favourite time for tourists, not all of the retailers were open, but there were enough.

The view of the Island is very picturesque with palm covered mountains, deep river valleys and a waterfall. The view over the town, during the day at least, is not so picturesque but is very pleasant none the less. At night however, the view of the town is one of a mass of sparkling lights and has a curious eldritch beauty. On a clear day the view over the sea is spectacular with many of the other islands visible and the sun sparkling off the blue of the sea.

In one of those curious turns of chance the Gnomads managed to time their excursion perfectly. The party arrived at the Tops at about 5 pm and, despite it being rather cloudy, had the benefit of all of the daytime views. As dusk set in the Gnomad and Squablins set up for their picnic. The amenities included tables and chairs under cover and since the Squablins felt the wind to be a little chill one of these was secured for the party's use. Hot soup with noodles, hot-dogs and longanizza (a local, delicious, pork sausage) were purchased to supplement the food and drink that the Gnomads had brought and the party sat down to eat. Whilst waiting for the hot food one of the Squablins quickly went off to find the driver so he could share in the picnic as well, such is the spirit of hospitality on the Island.

As the Gnomads enjoyed their picnic so the weather became wet. The wind got up a little and a light drizzle soon turned to rain and then a brief but exciting thunderstorm. As if on cue, the weather improved as the food was finished. The Gnomad settled the bill, rather less than four and a half UKP (9 USD) had fed the Gnomad, The Gnomadette, three Squablins and their dirver. The party then enjoyed the night-time views and rather a lot of flash photography (and some pleasant silliness) before returning to the Gnomad abode having had a thoroughly splendid time.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


The Gnomads are now safely in the Philippines , which is the Gnomadette's birthplace and has been the Gnomads' second home for some time.

The flight from the Middle East was, for the most part, very enjoyable. The food in Business class in the Gnomads' airline of choice is very good indeed, and the seats large and comfortable. This was all the more enjoyable because of the free upgrade, the Gnomads had expected to be flying cattle class the whole way.

The only downside was the turbulence. It is typhoon season in the Philippines and many of you will have heard of the very recent typhoon and subsequent shipping disaster. The weather had calmed significantly since then but was still somewhat unreliable. The last hour or so of the flight it got a bit lumpy, there was a thunderstorm heading in. The Gnomads' plane was just ahead of the bad weather, not so close as to be dangerous, but close enough to make the ride unpredictable. The Gnomadette was more than a little miserable as the stugeron was not readily to hand and she suffers from motion sickness. The aircrew were very sympathetic and solicitous and the Gnomadette was soon very much recovered.

Life in the Philippine Islands is so much more civilised than in the Magic Kingdom. The standard of driving and lack of courtesy on the road is just as bad but at only about on third of the speed of the fatalistic Arab drivers, so that's better over all. The range of foods available is much wider with only a few of the Gnomad's preferred items unavailable. The Gnomad even saw shawarma for sale in one of the food courts. Added to this there is, of course, pork produce. Pork featured quite prominently in five of the Gnomad's first six meals in the Islands. It is amazing just how much a person can miss a pork chop or a bacon sandwich.

The Gnomads' have six more weeks of vacation in these islands before heading off to their new life in the Mundane Kingdom.