Some time back my friend, Razzbuffnik, posted a photo of people touring about Bruges on Segways. Like Razz, I don’t really understand why a Segway might be preferred to simply donning your walking shoes and getting some exercise as you explore a new place, although plenty of people seem to be keen to take a spin on these Jetson-like sets of wheels in the name of tourism, which raises the question: what do you do with the Segway when you reach a museum or other place of interest? Do phrasebooks now contain “where do I park my Segway?” or “would you mind if I leave my Segway at the door while I lunch at your establishment?” or “Are the museum’s corridors wide enough for my Segway?”, or “my Segway’s battery is running low. Do you know where I can charge it?”
It’s not just tourists who are taking to their Segways, however. Last November, Monsieur and I spied a pair of policemen using Segways to get around the Portuguese capital. Stood a good foot taller than anyone else on the street, they stopped at a newsstand, answered the public’s questions, before zooming off at a reasonable pace to the next stop on their beat. I just wondered what would happen, should they take chase to a bag-snatcher, so I visited the Segway site to see if these vehicles are fast enough to catch a thief.
The Segway site tells us that the standard setting is 12.5 miles or 20 kilometers per hour. As they put it, this is “roughly equal to a 5-minute mile, a really fast run.” So I guess a Segway-riding policeman has a reasonable chance at catching the perp.
As they’re a green alternative to other modes of inner-city transport, being charged by electrical sockets, the energy of which causes “fourteen times less greenhouse gas emissions than driving a car,” and as they don’t take up as much space as cars or scooters, the people at Segway must be hoping that interest in their product will steadily increase. A single charge will see you travelling a full 38 kilometers and 15 minutes of charge will allow you to go 1.6km. But if you weigh more than 117kilos, you can forget it. Segways can only carry so much of a person. And if you’re a lightweight at less than 45 kilos, the Segway won’t work effectively so this is an off-limits vehicle for kids and small people.
I admit I’m curious to try one out at some point, but I doubt it will be on an organised Segway tour of, say, Florence. But first I’ll have to make sure my weight doesn’t double and I up my lingo. FYI, an outing on a Segway is called a GLIDE. Sounds a bit odd, no? “I’m just going for a glide.” or “how about you glide on over for coffee?” Hmmm. Not convinced.
So before I sign glide off, have you ever been on a Segway? If so, please do tell. I’m keen to hear whether or not they have fans (apart from the Portuguese police) and why. Did you know there’s even such a thing as Segway Rally Races? Oh yes, people, it’s true. God bless Google; you learn something every day.
Here’s the link to Razzbuffnik’s Segway post.
When I wrote about the St Patrick’s Day cocktail-fest for London Bloggers at Diageo, Australia-based Razzbuffnik liked the sound of the Bushmills apricot mule, so I asked Haran at Splendid Communications to send me the recipe. Here you go, Razz! A little taste of summer for you as the leaves start to turn in the land Downunder…
Bushmills Apricot Mule (Classic adapted by Duncan McRae)
This twist on a classic Moscow mule uses Bushmills ® as its base, and combines the subtle flavours of apricot and the spicy ginger to play upon some of the more exciting sherry cask induced notes found in Bushmills® Black Bush.
50ml Bushmills Black Bush
12.5ml Apricot Liquor
12.5ml Sugar Syrup
25ml Freshly squeezed Lime juice
Dash Orange Bitters
Topped up with Ginger Beer.
Served in a highball glass over ice.
My Blog Friend, Bunk Strutts of Tacky Raccoons fame, has tagged me in another meme. It’s seven things you never knew about the tagged person, and then I have to tag six more poor, unsuspecting fools to continue the Seven tradition. (Sounds like a severed head, Brad Pitt and some deadly sins should be involved, no? At the very least, I expect someone, somewhere is going to poke pins into an Epicurienne voodoo doll when they get this meme)
Here are seven things you never knew about Epicurienne:
1. My accent is so screwed up from living in New Zealand, Australia, Italy and England (with French Monsieur at home) that I have been asked at different times if I come from Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Sweden or Tasmania. It’s the Tasmanian guess that got me. Now Monsieur is getting good at mimicking my accent, which keeps me awake at night; he does my accent with an accent.
2. I make a fantastic seafood lasagne. It’s my culinary pride and joy.
3. I love bandes dessinées (graphic novels), including everything from Tintin to Persepolis.
4. I have a lot of time for Buddhism. It makes sense, hurts no one and shows kindness towards all living things.
5. I dream in technicolour every night. Some nights my dreams are so intense that I wake up completely exhausted.
6. My favourite landmark in the whole, wide world is the Eiffel Tower.
7. I speak English (mother tongue), French (with lots of mistakes), German (enough to discuss Kafka and the environment, preferably not at the same time), Italian (so that when Monsieur’s luggage went missing en route to Naples, I knew the words for contact lenses and shaving foam when we went shopping) and just enough Spanish to find me the nearest Tapas Bar. I can also say various random things in Japanese (including the numbers 1 to 99 but 100 escapes me) and Maori (welcome, white pig, and many different words beginning with WH- which you pronounce F-). Go figure.
That’s the end of my meme.
I tag the following six:
- Razzbuffnik of All The Dumb Things
- Single For a Reason
- Nathaliewithanh, although I still owe Nathalie a six-word meme from months ago; my problem is I can’t choose ONLY six words!
- Rax Lakhani, by way of revenge for his recent London meme-ing of me,
- Jim’s Muse
- Brandon of Mojitos and Burritos
Okay, kids. Put those Voodoo Stress dolls of Epicurienne to one side and get to work. Don’t forget to link back to me when you’re done, so I can learn about your own special quirks.
For some time now, I’ve been promising to write a list of things to do in New York for a colleague who’ll be visiting there soon. Then I thought, better to blog it. Same result, different method. Here’s the first part:
It’s family legend that as a foetus I first kicked in New York. My parents were there because Dad had a work placement in New York for a while and Mum tagged along. I love asking her about that time. In my mind it is a different New York with a slightly faded technicolour look and lots of people wearing mini skirts, ironed hair and orange and brown striped shirts with wide collars. Inside my mother, I was coming alive. Perhaps it was New York that woke me up, with its honking yellow cabs and loud, city people. Perhaps that’s why I love the place so much.
The past couple of years, Monsieur has travelled to New York for a winter bonding session with his American colleagues. They have off-site meetings and off-site sporting fun. He has won curling contests in Mohonk (so proud!) and artfully avoided ice skating in a blizzard (Monsieur hates the cold). Then, once Action Monsieur is all actioned and bonded out, I fly across to join him for the weekend so we can have some New York fun.
For my first winter weekend spent with Monsieur in the Big Apple, the company booked us into the Roosevelt Hotel. This was a bit weird because my father used to stay there when he came to New York on business. The halls are wide, the bedrooms small, the bathrooms tired and the central heating noisily erratic, but it’s central. So central that it’s right by Grand Central Station and you can’t get any more central than that.
I love Grand Central Station. I’ve even travelled in and out of it by train when I went to visit Yale with friends. There’s something so New York about this honey stone building with its landmark clock and destination oyster bar. Once upon a time I had the oyster bar on my must-eat-here-list. Then I had a bad oyster. The poisoning was so bad that my doctor told me I could never eat oysters again because my body would remember and press the eject button. Having ejected quite enough oyster at that time, I haven’t touched one since, but I miss them terribly. A saving grace is that the Grand Central Oyster Bar doesn’t only serve oysters so I’d be perfectly safe. Today’s menu reads like a sea-lover’s dream: Maine mussels, popcorn shrimp, bouillabaisse and New England clam chowder. Bluefish, catfish, halibut and monkfish. Sea scallops, soft shell crab, fresh Maine lobster and fried Jumbo shrimp, and even though I can’t eat them myself, to read Oysters Rockefeller on a menu is to read a line of New York’s culinary poetry. Okay, Oyster Bar at Grand Central, you are on my list for next time.
Apart from the trains and the Oyster Bar, Grand Central Station has a great little shopping mall. There are gift shops and a Banana Republic, food shops and florists and hair salons… and, best of all, a food market!
Food markets are my thing. I love them. I take photos in them while Monsieur buries his head in a cookbook, trying not to be associated with that strange woman who insists on photographing fruit. I love the smells and the colours and the textures and the inspiration. I love talking to the chicken man about the best way to prepare his breasts (yes, I know how that sounds). I love the spices, the recipe cards, the ingredients I’ve yet to try, the vegetable I’ve never seen before because it isn’t popular where I live. Grand Central Market is one of these places. If you love food, you must visit. The last time I went, the fish stall had the best looking tuna burgers you can imagine – all minced yellowfin pressed into patties with a few breadcrumbs, a squeeze of lemon and tufts of fresh coriander…
Razzbuffnik will be pleased to hear that there are only two Starbucks in the entire mall, and there’s even a museum shop to keep trainspotters happy. Called The Transit Museum Gallery and Store (related to The Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights), there’s all sorts of transport-related paraphernalia to add to your collection, alongside changing exhibitions. If I run out of my favourite face cream, there is an Oliviers & Co selling olive-based products direct from la belle France, and if you’re there on a Wednesday or Friday, you can join one of the free tours of the station to hear its fascinating history and how it has been saved, on more than one occasion, from the wrecking ball.
If you do visit Grand Central Station, stop in the main concourse and remember all those moments when this backdrop has been immortalised on film, and then, slowly, look up. It’s the Sky Ceiling, and if you know anything about astronomy, you’ll see that it’s back-to-front.
Ever since I started blogging, I’ve found it fascinating and enriching to get to know some other bloggers. One of my first blog-pals is Razzbuffnik, who writes All The Dumb Things. The reasons I’d recommend visiting his site include his fantastic photos, covering every sort of subject from seventies’ Cambodia to a firebreathing Razz and the fact that this multi-faceted man writes about his many adventures in life, with a combination of intelligence, good humour and wisdom.
I asked Sydneysider, Razz if he’d answer some questions for me so I could post them on this page.
“Sure” he replied. So here we go, getting to know a bit more about Razzbuffnik.
Epic: When and why did you decide to take up blogging?
Razz: Last year in April because Mrs Razz has been at me for years to write down my anecdotes and then turn them into a book. She’s filled out three pages with just titles of my various stories. I also have thousands of photographs that are just sitting around going mouldy so I thought that I might do something with them.
Epic: Why do you call yourself Razzbuffnik?
1. I want anonymity and it also gives a modicum of privacy to the people I write about.
2. When I was in the carnival there was a kid I knew whose father used to call people by either of two made-up names. One of the names was Simeon Gloudfartz and the other was Izzy Razzbuffnik. I’ve always thought that Izzy Razzbuffnik was a funny name so I thought I’d use it as a nom de plume for blogging.
Epic: Explain your inspiration for All The Dumb Things
Razz: Paul Kelly’s song, “I’ve done all the dumb things”. Also, when I think about my life and all the stories that I have, it makes me realise that it’s “all the dumb things” I’ve done that people are interested in hearing. Many of the things that I’ve done are so stupid that most people are just incredulous when I tell them about them.
Epic: What makes you laugh?
Razz: That’s a hard one. Sometimes it’s the stupid things that people do. Then again, stupid things that people do sometimes anger me. I like wit and crazy off-the-wall stuff.
Epic: Which is the best blog you’ve read recently and why?
Razz: Besides yours of course Again that’s a difficult one. I find that I read about 10 blogs regularly and I don’t feel that I’ve got a favourite. Pat Coakley’s Single For A Reason is pretty good as she quite often has very good photographs with interesting observations about life. She’s a pretty smart and insightful woman.
I’ve also been reading Finkenwalde who is an ex-marine. He’s a very insightful guy who’s proof that not everyone who volunteers for the armed services is nuts or a meathead. Sometimes he writes about mundane family stuff that almost brings a tear to my eye. I think he’s been through a lot (not combat) and he’s one of those people who thinks a lot about what goes on around him.
I also check out Unique Muslimah to keep in touch with what Muslim women have to say. I think that anyone with fears about Moslems should check out this blog to see how decent and loving most of them are.
Epic: If you found yourself stranded on a desert island with three people of your choice (alive or dead) who would they be?
Razz: This would be conditional on whether I could speak their languages or they mine.
1. My wife (I’m not just saying this to look good. Mrs Razz is my favourite person.
2. Leonardo da Vinci
3. Thor Heyerdahl.
Epic: If you were visiting Sydney for the first time, what would you recommend doing or avoiding?
Razz: Recommend: go to a small beach like Clovelly and do some snorkelling. Avoid: King’s Cross.
Epic: After Sydney, where would you like to live next? (if you might ever consider moving again)
Razz: A few years ago I would’ve said Vancouver (I used to live there) but I’ve been back a few times over the last couple years and it’s really gone downhill. If I had the funds, I think I’d like to live in France for half of the year and Sydney the other half.
Epic: Where is your favourite place on the planet?
Razz: The Grand Canyon. I’m also very happy to be sitting in my backyard with Mrs Razz, reading the paper and relaxing.
Epic: What has been your proudest moment?
Razz: Getting married to Mrs Razz.
Epic: If there are three pieces of life advice you could give to a banker caught in the current credit crunch, what would they be?
Razz: Are you a banker? If so please don’t take offence.
1. Get out of that profession. (I’d say this even if there wasn’t a credit crunch.) 2. See 1. 3. See 2.
Epic: What’s on your bedside table?
Razz: Three unfinished books.
“Freedom at Midnight” which is about how Britain gave away an empire. It started off pretty well, but Gandhi’s decision to start sleeping with his niece so he could get in touch with his feminine nurturing side has turned me off.
“Love and Death in Kathmandu” which is about the Nepali prince killing his father. Way too much astrology and superstition for me.
“Attila” a fictional account of Attila the Hun. Not very well written.
Epic note to reader: Perhaps you’re starting to see why I so enjoy reading All The Dumb Things. Visit the site with a cup of something warm and plenty of time to read… And just in case you’re wondering what the photo of tomatoes signifies at the beginning of this post – you’ll just have to visit Razzbuffnik’s site to find out.