James Miller


Friday, March 28, 2008

Safari to the Masai Mara


This is a collection of the videos I shot of animals that I have produced using the little Fuji S5700 camera and Windows Movie Maker.

You do notice the limitations of a £125 camera with sound. It picks up the noise of the truck and anything spoken closely very well and the noises of the animals are rather drowned out.

But it does show how easy it is to put passable video on the Internet.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Judy Dyble


Judy was at Minchenden Grammar School, a couple of years below me.

We exchange e-mails as we have a few things in common, like being widowed, and she has just told me that she is now at 31, 32, 33 and 36 in HMV's download chart. She is pleased as punch and feels like a popstar.

What was it those Guinness ads said about everything comes to those who wait?

Update on 10th March 2008 from Judy.

.......and now I am no 7 in the radio 1 indie pop singles chart as well as no 26 in the HMV chart


I am as happy as a happy thing!

Fancy becoming a top ten pop star in your late forties.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Englishman Light


I consider myself a true Englishman. In other words, I'm a complete mongrel as my mother's family were French Hugenote and my father's were German Jewish. There was a bit of Irish thrown in too and some from Upcotts from Devon and Spencers from Northamptonshire.

But we don't talk about the latter.

The coeliac disease seems to have come down from my paternal grandfather, who died in his forties or so, mainly of smoking, asthma and drink. Or that's what my father told me! My father had a lot of coeliac symptoms, including the ability to fart for England. He too died earlier than he should in his sixties because he smoked.

So why is this piece called Englishman Light.

Because I'm travelling around with very little in Celia's old backpack, in which she used to transport her legal papers around. It's under the size allowed by EasyGo and Ryanair and full it weighs about six kilos.

So all I had space for was four shirts, one spare pair of Daks trousers, one cashmere jumper, six pairs of socks, five pairs of knickers, one DK travel guide to Italy, two paperbacks, one toothbrush, one tube of toothpaste, a hair brush, one tube of Savlon, a camera and a charger for my reliable Nokia 6310i, which looks a bit like the ruins that Napolean knocked about a bit.

But I could have taken less! But not much less!

I didn't bring shaving gear, as I don't. I could have have brought smaller Sloggi knickers to save weight and I could have left out the spare jumper.

But it has so many advantages and there is so little to carry, that I can walk about a city on the way from the airport or train station to the hotel and not notice it.

Next time though, I'm going to find a slightly bigger and lighter case, so I can actually buy something.

Three Coins in a Fountain


Just dropped three coins in the Trevi; one for Celia and me, one for Diana, who lost her Eric and the last for everyone else in our state. I won't say sorry state, as I don't think Eric or Celia would want us to mope!

Rome has changed in that it's busier and all the nasty kids who used to haunt you have gone! I even asked a policeman how to find this Internet point and he was civil and very helpful.

I thought about a B&B, but in the end settled for the Lord Byron. Comfortable and the most expensive of the trip.

But then it's Rome.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Lack of Toilet Seats


Naples seems to be a place, where public toilets have a full bowl, but I've yet to find a seat.


Even on Capri, where I was today, I had to pay fifty cents for a disgusting bog on the Marina Grande. I use the term bog advisedly, as there was water all over the floor.

It really wasn't a good way to start in Capri.

More Thoughts on Naples


Naples is a dump. A glorious dump!

It's as though everybody has sent their leftovers and rubbish to the city. I know they are still going through the end of a dustmen's strike or something like that, but there are full bins and rubbish beside them everywhere.

Take the transport system, which works quite well really. They have standard buses, bendy buses, electric buses, trolley buses, trams, underground trains, surface commuter trains and funiculars. I can't think of anything else that they might want, except for boats. But then they do have ferries to Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Capri and other islands, as well as much further afield.

So the city is a transport enthusiasts delight.

They are also building a new SudMetro to close a gap in the underground. According to the signs they started in 2001 and aim to finish in 2012. That makes CrossRail in London look speedy.

I've said that signage and maps are good, but not always.

I wanted to go on the trains at Dante, which is one of the central stations. I thought the station might be Dante, but all it had was a large M. Only when I got on the train was I sure I'd got the right station. But it all adds to life's rich pattern.

Now I said Naples was a glorious dump, but it still has all of the good Italian shops and an awful lot of little ones with a Neapolitan slant and they are all such a contrast to get inside compared to the chaos outside.

But I like the city.

If I ever wanted to learn Italian properly and perhaps combine that with the cooking course I need, then I'd do it in Naples. It would probably be Italian with a harder edge.

This reminds me that perhaps when I was 18 or 19, I was hitching home to Felixstowe from London and got a lift from an sergeant in the Royal Corps of Transport, who was helping to run the TA in Ipswich. His previous posting had been in Marseilles Docks, where an officer, a sergeant and a few squaddies, helped to unload and chaperone the British Troops who used to exercise on the Lodeve plateau.

As befits the Army, they'd sent him on a basic course in French, but he'd really learnt it in the hardest docks in France. With his large size and close cropped hair, he was not a man to be trifled with either.

But one day, when he shared the driving with the officer to Paris for a meeting with the French Ministry of Defence, when he asked in a bar for a drink, the owner thought the Marseilles version of the Mafia had come for their money.

Let's say that it all ended well.