Blog Archive

Friday, March 1, 2024

Trip to Seville, UK going to the Dogs, Dogs going to the Dogs, Amazon Returns

Trip to Seville

We went to Seville for a long weekend. It's the third most visited city in the second most visited country in the world. That means lots of tourists! We loved it and would like to return. Volver a Sevilla.

Plaza de Espa├▒a - so busy that the authorities are planning an entrance fee

I like:
  • 400 churches and 4,000 bars means there is a church on every street. And somewhere to have a drink every few metres!
  • The architecture is over the top but the more modest creations are often beautiful.
  • Food quality: tapas, ham, ham, ham.
  • Le d├ępaysement: fans, religion, ham, meal times, tapas, OTT architecture, bull ring, flamenco.
  • Deep blue skies
  • Cultural mix - Mediterranean / European / Arabic / dark
  • The people are friendly and have time to talk
  • Cleanliness (for big city)
  • The river Guadalquivir
  • The Neo Victoria, first ship to circumnavigate the world in 1509-12
  • My 18,000 steps a day!

I dislike:
  • Meal times! Many restaurants don't open until 20.30. Lunch is often not served until 14.00.
  • Too many tourists (like me)

Las Setas - world's largest wooden structure

La Basilica de la Macarena

La Basilica de la Mercadona

The Cathedral and the Giralda

Lifesize replica of the Neo Victoria on the Guadalquivir

The UK is going to the Dogs

You may be forgiven for thinking that after 14 years of Conservative government, the country might be going okay - at least economically. Well you would be wrong. Growth is almost non existent as the graph below demonstrates:

Source: House of Commons Library

And compared to similar countries, only Germany has done worse than the UK since 2019:

That means we are poorer than we should be, if we had say an average growth rate, and that there is less to invest in our public services as is amply demonstrated by daily media stories such as:

Queues for the third day when a new NHS dentist opens their doors in Bristol

The King gets seen immediately after been diagnosed with cancer while ordinary people have to wait months: in November 2023, 65.2% of people treated began first definitive treatment of cancer within 62 days of an urgent suspected cancer referral, breast symptomatic referral, urgent screening referral or a consultant upgrade. NHS Data

Nearly 35,000 patients a month waited for 12 hours or more for a hospital bed in 2023, new FactCheck analysis of NHS England data reveals. That’s more than 3,000 times higher than in 2011.

Cancer waiting times for 2023 in England were the worst on record, a BBC News analysis has revealed. The waits have worsened every year for the past 11. BBC News 08/02/2024

And my personal experiences:

When I drive into town people must think I'm drunk as I swerve to avoid the potholes, reminiscent of a third world country.

I have had to cancel several trips to London as the trains have been on strike. The NHS doctors and nurses are regularly on strike, making the the health service even more unreliable.

Even the Dogs have gone to the Dogs

Facing a surge in dog attacks, the most violent breed - XL Bullies - has just been banned 

The hideous and violent XL Bully dog breed

Amazon Returns

I recently ordered the wrong digibox for my French satellite TV. So I ordered the correct one and returned the first one. Amazon provided me with a label and I took it to the post office, paid the postage and off it went to a European Amazon Returns centre in Slovakia.

Except it didn't. A couple of weeks later, the same package was returned by my postman having been refused entry in Slovakia. There was a small red sticker on my parcel marked 'Return' in French and in Slovak (I presume).

So I decided to use the Amazon Chat service to try to get it resolved. Here is a summary of my chat:

I spent 60 minutes on the chat
The bot transferred me to a real person (agent) when it was clear it could not help
I was transferred to each of the following people who reviewed my case
Maddela was unable to help me so transferred me to
Zineb was unable to help me so transferred me to
Ialla was unable to help me so transferred me to
Audrey was unable to help me so transferred me to
Maria was unable to help me so transferred me to
Inass was unable to help me so transferred me to
Nesrine was unable to help me so transferred me to
Saida was unable to help me so transferred me to
Mohamed was unable to help me so transferred me to
Saida was unable to help me so transferred me to
Awatef who said he would organise a refund. I said okay, what should I do with the digibox I am trying to return. He said whatever you wish.

Next I contacted the Royal Mail to get a postage refund as it was guaranteed delivery. After a 30 minute wait, I was told no problem and that they would send me a cheque for the GBP7.10. Remember what a cheque is?
I asked why it had not been delivered and he said that electrical appliances going into Europe (since Brexit I imagine) require a test and that it's not worth it for low value items. This of course leads to a lot of waste.

I have sent my digibox for recycling. What a waste.

Quotes for the Month

Mr Navalny would not want Mr Putin’s message to prevail. “[If I get killed] the obvious thing is: don’t give up,” he once told American film-makers. 
“All it takes for evil to triumph is the inaction of good people. There’s no need for inaction.”
Alexy Navalny 1976 - 2024 Murdered by Vladimir Putin

"Evil thrives on apathy and cannot survive without it"

Hannah Arendt 1906 - 1975 German Philosopher, whose passage to America was secured in 1940 by Varian Fry and his team.

“For evil to happen, all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing.” 
Edmund Burke 1729 - 1797 MP for Wendover and Democracy Campaigner

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