Monthly Archives: May 2010

Casa Batlló, Barcelona

I visited Barcelona in 2005 before I had really heard about or fully appreciated the architecture of Antoni Gaudi so this place came as a real surprise.  On a sightseeing day I was walking along the Passeig de Gràcia part of the Illa de la Discòrdia in the Eixample district of Barcelona and heading for the Casa Milà, which is Gaudi’s most famous creation when across the street I saw the most amazing building that I have ever seen that turned out to be the Casa Batlló, recently restored as a museum and open to the public.

Read the full story…

Ten things I didn’t know about Spain

Spain consists of a number of autonomous communities established in accordance to the second article of the Spanish Constitution which recognises the rights of regions and nationalities to self-government whilst also acknowledging the ‘indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation’.  Currently, Spain comprises seventeen autonomous communities and two autonomous cities, both of which are on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa.  As a highly decentralised state Spain has possibly the most modern political and territorial arrangements in Western European.   Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia are designated historic nationalities and Andalusia, although not a nationality, also has preferential status, the remaining are regional Provinces without nationality.

Read the full list…

In search of the real Spain

With an area of just over five hundred thousand square kilometers Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe after France and with an average altitude of six hundred and fifty metres it is second highest country in Europe after Switzerland.  That is a lot of country to try and see and visit and with so many northern European ex-pats living down the eastern coastal strip then the chances of experiencing the real Spain was always going to be difficult to achieve in this part of the country.  And so it was.

Read the full story…

Cory Environmental, (dis)Organising the Work


“Compulsory competitive tendering was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s to force councils to outsource or privatise services.  Everything was up for sale from NHS cleaning and catering, to road maintenance to refuse.  The plan was based on cost and profit, not providing a service, making a profit means slashing the service and worsening workers’ terms and conditions.”    The Socialist Worker

So, contract awarded, mission accomplished, winning the work had been a piece of cake and hacking off the entire work force a relatively straight forward process that usually took only a couple of hours at a work force meeting but now came the really tricky part when someone had to plan the work.

Read the full story…

Cory Environmental, the Tendering Process

Laurel and Hardy

Blunders and Bodger carry out a thorough review of a proposed tender submission!

Cory Environmental was rather like working for the waste collection equivalent of the keystone cops.  I mentioned before that my opportunity to work for the Company was almost entirely due to their incompetence at preparing a realistic tender and they were certain to win the work in the first place because the always managed to under price the bid.  In the 1980s and 1990s because Margaret Thatcher thought that the private sector was, by definition, much more competent and efficient in these matters than the public sector, local authorities were required to offer certain services for open competition.

Read the full story…

Ronda, The Spanish Civil War, Ernest Hemingway and Bullfighting

“Ronda is the place where to go, if you are planning to travel to Spain for a honeymoon or for being with a girlfriend. The whole city and its surroundings are a romantic set.
… Nice promenades, good wine, excellent food, nothing to do…” – Ernest Hemingway

I went to Spain in October 2003 to play golf and stayed near Marbella on the Costa del Sol.  I have to say that I didn’t really care for Marbella or Puerto Banus next door, it seemed to be just one long ribbon of inappropriate concrete resorts and a busy motorway rushing by.  It didn’t help that it seemed to rain continuously and the weather was so poor that when it was impossible to play golf or go to the beach it was necessary to find alternative things to do.

Read the full story…

Croatia, Primosten

Continuing north with the Dinaric Alps soaring above us inland and catching the clouds as they rushed in from the sea we stopped again at Primošten, not because there was anything in particular to see there but just because we liked it there.

Read the full story…

Croatia, Trogir Tower of Terror

We were heading for the town of Trogir, which is about twenty kilometres north of Split and is the best preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex not only in the Adriatic, but also in all of Central Europe and inevitably is a UNESCO World heritage site.   It was mid morning when we arrived and the town was already very busy.  The old city is built on a little island, only separated from the mainland by a few metres and with access to it over a small bridge.  This is a popular visitor attraction and parking is inevitably at a premium and at fifteen Kuna an hour easily the most expensive of the week.

Read the full story…

Croatia, Split and Diocletian’s Palace

After we arrived we walked along the recently improved pedestrian area next to the harbour with its rows of bars and cafes and immaculate gardens and lawns and then we retraced our steps from the previous visit and went back into Diocletian’s Palace.

Read the full story…

Croatia, Hvar to Split by Ferry in a Storm

First thing the weather had been quite promising with a bit of cloud but a lot of blue so the plan was to spend the morning in Hvar and see the side of the town we had missed yesterday before getting a mid afternoon ferry back to the mainland.  We started our walk by visiting the market and then through the main square and down to the harbour, and then it started to spit with rain.

Read the full story…