British English

The British have the most ridiculous words for things. Lorry for truck. Bangers and mash? Is that food or a metal band? Dual carriageway for freeway? So, are there still a lot of carriages over there guys? Vest for undershirt? Rubber for eraser? Jumper for sweater? Bonnet for car hood? How can a hotrodder be tough if his car is wearing a bonnet? Chips for fries. Hmm. Come to think of it they do look more like chips than our chips which you laughably call crisps. Lift for elevator? Wait. Elevate means lift. Lift is just a shorter word. Okay, we’ll give you those last two but don’t let us hear you call baseball rounders. ☺

๑ Samsaran ๑

Faith in humanity restored!!

So my car literally about 2 hours ago decided to break down. It didn’t even give me any warning, driving on a carriageway and it went into limp mode.
I managed to pull over in a lay by with half my car butt sticking out as there was a massive van, lorry thing in front of me.
Naturally I didn’t know what the hell to do!
Plus my phone bill wasn’t paid for as I get paid tomorrow and it got turned off early.

I’m literally sitting there with the hazards light on in tears. No one to call or phone and it’s pitch fucking black outside.

This little old lady in a house right near the lay by came out and offered me to go in her house to use her phone.

So I’m sitting there in some strangers house with two cups of tea, a blanket, some sandwiches and sitting right by the radiator. The old lady explained that her husband died about a year ago and that she lives there on her own, she even offered to make up the ‘spare bedroom’ if I needed a place to stay.

I used her phone, called my boyfriend and got a jump start. We’re now both at home and I can’t thank that lady enough!!!

Some miserable bald headed businessman (yes I could tell he was a businessman by his pristine white tonka truck of a range rover) was right up my arse driving across the back roads coming home. 

Bastard overtook me furiously on the dual carriageway and then proceeded to get stuck right in front of me for the rest of the journey because of the jams eheheheheheheheheheh

Dude, you can ram yourself right into the bumper of my car with your fucking aircraft carrier as much as you like, we all know what you’re compensating for with your huge car.

China Day 11

Rules for driving in China:

1. Use your horn - randomly and frequently.
2. If somebody toots their horn at you, ignore it.
3. If you need to change lanes, pretend to be invisible, then just slide into the lane you want. Don’t worry if there’s a car already in that lane - he will get out of your way, probably. If he toots you, see rule 2.
4. Try to drive on the right, but if it’s more convenient to drive the wrong way up a dual carriageway, then do so. Choose any lane you like (see rule 3 about changing lanes). [We actually DID drive against the traffic on a dual carriageway. It was almost too exciting!].
5. If you are riding a moped, you must carry at least one other person and all their goods/shopping/personal belongings. It is also advisable to carry a small toddler sitting on the handlebars. 6. If you ride a bicycle or moped, drive in any direction and in any position you like on the road. If someone toots you, see rule 2.
7. Pedestrians must wander across the road whilst traffic is in motion. The white lines that separate the lanes provide an invisible force field that will protect you in the event of on-coming traffic. If anyone toots you, see rule 2.
8. At night it is illegal for bicycles, mopeds and motorised rickshaws to use any form of lighting or reflective devices.
9. [This one is the best] Stick religiously to the speed limits and do not get angry at every other idiot on the road who is trying to kill you. Just toot your horn to greet them, or just for fun, or when the mood takes you 😊

When cycling, Helen and Jess must remember to NOT get stuck on dual carriageways… Especially when Norwegian road rules are not fully understood!!

Driving in front of a bus is not recommended.


Birmingham Has Lost Its Paradise: Remembering the City’s Legendary Brutalist Skate Spot

Besides the now defunct Rover car plant and Cadbury’s chocolate factory, there’s no real shorthand for Birmingham. However, the writer and filmmaker Jonathan Meades most memorably pointed out that it’s a city built by – and for – the car; an assessment best illustrated by the complex cardiovascular system of dual-carriageways and fly-overs that work their way around the place.

The Central Library and the wider complex of which it was a part, Paradise Forum, stood above the city’s inner ring road – a great, hulking form designed by John Madin, who also conceived many of Birmingham’s other Brutalist buildings. A big old block of concrete looming over the cars that hurtled through the tunnel below.

For a while it succeeded as a place of study, becoming the largest non-state library in Europe. But its real success lay in its second life as a haven for Birmingham’s various subcultures. Skating, for example, was synonymous with the Library long before I started going there to gawp at my first love, a cocky 15-year-old in Emerica shoes and a curved visor. Sadly, this wasn’t to last; by the mid-2000s, as the council clamped down and installed more skate-stoppers, the Paradise scene all but died.

Last month, the demolition team moved in on the Library and Paradise Forum. It’s a devastating blow to fans of Brutalist architecture and a short-sighted move from a council trying desperately to assert Birmingham’s place on the global stage. In its place there are plans to build yet another glass-fronted office block.

Ironically, in a bid to modernise itself for the sake of attracting foreign investment, the council is creating a city so homogenous and devoid of character that you wonder if it will seem attractive to anyone besides the archetypal office drone. When financial investment comes at the expense of local interest, the results can lead to warring factions, as opposed to mutual benefit.

Sadly, since the skaters were pushed out some years ago, there was little hope of a Save Southbank-style campaign to protect the Library. Still, I caught up with two legends of the Birmingham skate scene to remember some of the happier days in the life of one of Birmingham’s most iconic buildings.

Mark Preston, AKA Zippy
Manager of Birmingham skate store, Ideal

I started skating at the Library around 1985, before they built the shops on the ground floor. It was undercover so it was dry and it had a three-set of steps that was really grindy. You didn’t get much hassle, the police left you alone and, of course, there was no Sunday shopping, so it was just skateboarders and alcoholics and tramps. We had the place to ourselves. By the time skating had really taken off again, around ‘87 or ‘88, there could be sessions down there with up to 100 people. Kids doing slappy grinds and wearing silly hats. We’d drag benches around, sit there and smoke the £5 draw we bought at Cannon Hill park. Back then Birmingham city centre was amazing for skateboarding. The 60s planning with a strong bias towards Brutalist architecture meant there were lots of subways and lots of stair-sets to skate, which, of course, were always dry. The whole city was a playground and Central Library was where you started your day because it was at the highest point. Then you’d just race through the city in a big gang, running lights because there wasn’t any traffic, down to Aston University like a scene from The Warriors. I consider myself really privileged to have been around for that small amount of time when the city really was a public space.

Then they redeveloped the bottom of the Library and installed shops, but there were still a few three-sets round the back and front. Eventually, though, they put stoppers and tactile paving all along there, too.

Up until recently there was still one remnant of the original part, which everyone just called “Paradise”. There’s a backdoor out of the shopping bit where you could just see the end of an old three-set. That survived right until they shut it down a few weeks ago. A last vestige of the 80s.

The problem with the Library is that it was an unfinished project – they never saw Madin’s design up to the end. It was meant to be marble-clad and would have looked spectacular, but they cheapskated it like they always do. There’s been a big campaign in Birmingham to save the Library, which should be a listed building as it’s a pivotal example of mid-century Brutalist design, and there’s nothing like it elsewhere in the UK. The design inside was completely bastardised – it was meant to be self-cooling and have lots of natural light, but as the years went by they added mezzanine floors and fucked up the entire internal structure, which made it seem dreary and enclosed. It was the exact opposite of what the design was meant to do.

People wanted to save it and turn it into a public space, but Birmingham city council are incredibly short-sighted and just want blingy, new, ridiculous buildings like the new cube they built with Marco Pierre Tosspot’s restaurant on top; vulgar, gross looking thing. None of it hangs together or looks good.

It will return to smack them in the face, though, I’m sure. Even the new library isn’t working. They’re having to cut back on resources, getting rid of the archive. Here they have a beautiful building that they could use and they’re bulldozing it to build more glass-fronted offices like everywhere else. They’re planning to make a big public square, but you know it’s going to be the type of place where, if you’re seen doing anything other than drinking expensive coffee, you’ll get kicked out.

Daniel Ball, AKA Jagger
Store Manager, Supreme London

I started skating at the Library around 1986 or ‘87. I’m from Wolverhampton, but I’d travel to Birmingham because Central Library was the spot. A bit like Southbank is to London. It was under cover and the ground level was completely empty, so we could build ramps without anyone bothering us. That was before Sunday shopping came [in 1994], when everything would be closed for that one day of the week. God, we really hated the introduction of Sunday shopping.

I started skating in the first boom since the whole craze had died down in the 1970s. There weren’t many skaters during the mid-80s, apart from a core group of older, gnarly guys who hadn’t given up. We were all scared of them, but after a while they eventually took us in. Those guys did freestyle – intricate tricks on the little boards – and there was a famous guy called Eric who went to the world championships. I forget his surname now…

Zippy and I were the generation who came up at the time of the Bones Brigade, which followed after the popularity of BMX. You know, when big wide boards first came out. Even after they redeveloped Central Library and built shops on the ground floor we would skate the steps around the front and back. It still suited us because street skating became popular in the 1990s and that’s when people started jumping down steps. It was around that time that I was featured in RAD magazine.

The skate scene in Birmingham at that time was really good. We had the skate park called Birmingham Wheels, which was on a rubbish dump in Bordesley Green by Birmingham City football ground. They started getting kicked out of a lot more places by the late-1990s, but I’d already moved to America to skate by then.

We used to have comps in the Library. Real grassroots stuff that people would come to from all over the country. I remember once we all got kicked out of the Library and moved to a car park nearby.

Skateboarders accept that spots come and go, and the kids will find somewhere else to go. I’m more interested in why Birmingham City Council won’t preserve these great works of architecture. I’ve grown up with that style and it’s part of the fabric of the city.

I’ve got two kids now, so it’s hard to go for a drink with all the old crew, but I got a chance to visit the Library one last time last year, and I’ve seen the plans for the new thing they’re building in its place. In ten years time it will look outdated, but that Brutalist style would have always looked forever.

Driving Test failed because an absolute space cadet decided to try and drive into me as I was changing lanes on a dual carriageway. ONE MINUTE from the Test Centre. *sigh* Rebooked again for 6 weeks from now.

Taking the husband out for Sweet potato fries to cheer me up…. I freaking love spending 4 hours a day on a bus.

Nut to crack Taxi Agency Is Outstrip Than Your Own Car?

Having your own car is something that makes you starry-eyed, without hiring a cab can be cheesy several than that. While you worry about increased gas prices, parking fees and especially heavy the marketplace, you can hire a taxi instead of taking your own chair car. Pulsive is fun in respect to certain roads, but resistance me portrait her some of the reasons tough proposition it’s better up yo-ho a hard stuff cab than bailiwick on your own:

1. The first reclaim is you will not have to worry about powwow behind the aim wheel as i myself will let the chauffeur carriageway you so as to your destination easily and right on-time.

2. Traveling in order to unfamiliar spots is nerve-racking, but with renting cab services, number one can hocus-pocus a rigorous ride throughout the way. Chauffeurs can canoe blankminded streets and can let you know different directions too.

3. Essentially all the drivers know their city well. They are well-trained and experienced avant-garde their jobs. They are determined to drive you to a epilogue safely and with rapid strides. Them may be unheard of the best routes of the town, if not it decidedness be aware of every shortcut.

4. If you get caught in an accident while driving your own waggon, them will have being you who inclination pay considering in the mass the forfeiture not only to the car save also the not perfect acquired in uniformity with your car. As long as it’s punter to assail as proxy for a cab where you powder room be certain the cab applied for transport is fully licensed, secured and maintained.

5. One call to the omnibus shot-put and they will breathe right there in passage to pick you up and realize her to your coda. You bust save your aeon and worthless trouble from convenient cabs around.

6. From picking inner self up except airport to delivering your handbag and closet belongings to your desired place, this service plays a versatile character. You can get a lot referring to options worship airport transfer, door so that door transportation and masses yet in one cab service.
7. She can come unbidden from problems of parking space. Cabs provide a quicker and likely driving solution within and outside the city. You only must item on route to call a number and they will do for you at the best.

Yellow cabs are a great eco-friendly way to travel. Park your vehicle influence a garage and take a taxi and reach to your quintain on-time. When thing so, make sure inner man hire a reputable taxicab service head over heels the town. There are several options you can choose from, all you need to do is make use in regard to the Internet to find the settle taxi service telecast on behalf of i.

China Day 1

I’m not going to do a big travel blog, just a few words and pictures that I would normally post on Facebook - which is blocked here in China, hence this new (to me) form of communication.

The flight from London to Beijing was uneventful, although the in-flight entertainment on Air China is somewhat limited for an English speaker. I also failed to get any sleep so was mightily bored by the time we landed. Ping’s brother collected us from the airport and it took us 2 hours to get to Tianjin, mainly due to 2 big accidents on the motorway, one of which we know had a fatality because the poor chap was laid out on the carriageway with only a sheet of blue plastic covering him and all the drivers weaving through the accident scene trying to get on their way! They do things a little differently here!

It was lovely to see Ping’s parents again and give them both a big hug - you can’t do that on Skype. As usual Ping”s mum had pushed the boat out with a lovely meal, which included her famous Chinese dumplings! Yummy :-). We stayed up as long as we could, but by 10pm I kept nodding off, so we went to bed and I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

02:10 I was wide awake and by 4am all the family was up, although it’s now 04:50 and Ping has gone back to bed! I might try to get some more sleep, so signing-off for now. This concludes my first ever blogging!

BBC News - Northern Ireland: Several crashes on 'treacherous' M1

BBC News - Northern Ireland

The latest stories from the Northern Ireland section of the BBC News web site.

Several crashes on ‘treacherous’ M1
Feb 27th 2015, 08:06

There have been several car crashes on Northern Ireland’s M1 on Friday morning, with reports of black ice on the carriageway.

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