Week 7 of Gibraltar Diary

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Sunday 27th April 2008

Firstly, we call in at Morrisons in Gibraltar to buy a copy of the Sunday Times and are surprised to discover that it is open until 10.00pm most nights but 7.00pm on Sundays.

Next we set off for PC City in Los Barrios as we wish to buy a wireless router to extend broadband reception round the flat. According to their website, PC City has "permitted hours" of 10.00am to 10.00pm on Sunday, whatever that means. When we arrive we discover it means that it is closed on Sundays.

We then drive on to Tarifa round a series of wonderful bends that really need a proper car to do them justice but our rented SEAT just about keeps up with the Mondeo in front. The Tom Tom directs us right into the centre of Tarifa where we manage to park right amongst all the cafes. We have a wonderful baguette between us and then another one. After that we have a nice cake from the shop next door. All of this plus a couple of soft drinks costs ten euros.

We head for the beach which is just glorious. Tarifa is famed as the wind surfing capital of Spain. This is a triumph of marketing over reality. What it really means is that this is the windiest spot in Spain - so windy that some of the girls on the beach have had the tops of their bikinis blown right off. We leave before the driving sand can finish sandblasting our cameras.

In the evening, back in Gibraltar, we can see a ship parked right behind a nearby building and go off to explore. When we get there we find it is our old friend Sea Cloud. Quite what it is doing there I have no idea but there seem to be a lot of women from Manchester on board judging from their shreaks so maybe they hid it there out of embarrassment.

Monday 28th April 2008

I am half way through writing about the frigate HMS Monmouth (F235) which is parked right opposite us when I realise that it has gone. According to Wikipedia, it flies a black flag because of the blacking out of the Coat of Arms of the Duke of Monmouth in 1685 following the Monmouth Rebellion against James II of England. Normally, I only show photographs taken on the day in question but I can already feel my standards slipping so these are photos taken yesterday.

No sooner have I finished noticing that HMS Monmouth has gone than another block of flats turns up, namely Grand Princess. Already my initial sense of wonder at seeing these enormous ships coming in is beginning to fade. Sad, really but permanent astonishment is hard to maintain. I fear that in due course I will just think of them in terms of noise and crowding in the cafes.

Tueday 29th April 2008

I spend the morning working now that I have got my mini office set up properly with a landline telephone and internet connection.

What I should really do next is set up wireless internet so that we can wander around the flat with laptops and still connect to the web. I delay doing this as I know that it will reduce me to raging frustration at the idiots who write these so called manuals. See, I've already started and I haven't even unwrapped the box yet.

It is a lovely day and we decide that we will drive up the coast to Estepona which according to the guide book has glorious beaches of golden sand. We keep a careful lookout for golden sand but all the way up the sand looks somewhat grey and dirty. When we reach Estepona we cannot find anywhere to park but my girlfriend spots an underground car park with a big lit up sign saying "Libre". She does some stuff with our clever translator and announces that "Libre" means free. I am deeply suspicious but we drive down an extremely narrow slope and park the car. There are no signs saying that they charge nor are there any arrows pointing to pay machines so maybe it really is free?

Of course it is not free (maybe "Libre" means there are spaces free) and when we leave it refuses to let us out. We go in search of enlightenement and the consensus of passers by is that there is a machine just across the road. Nobody points down into the car park and we conclude that maybe the Spanish have their pay stations on the street. Hey, why not? Anyway, they don't, it is two floors down cleverly hidden away behind a wall. How do Spanish people find it? Psychic powers? Mind you, how do English people find pay stations in the UK?

The sand is still muddy grey and it is very windy so after a while we give up. We buy ice creams in a cafe which takes forever and then I drop my ice cream on the floor. I am past caring and pick it up, being careful to lick all the sand off before I eat it - I do have standards. We drive back to Gibraltar and decide to look at the beaches on the east side. These are also a bit grey looking. In the distance is a Liquified Natural Gas carrier Arctic Voyager

Tueday 30th April 2008

Well, my wireless network is up, running and secure. This only took about three hours and my girlfriend and I are still talking so all in all, not too bad. Here are some lessons which may help other people thinking of doing the same

1. Do you really want to do this? Why not pay a man to do it? If you insist on doing it then empty the house of people and moveable objects before you start.

2. Bear in mind that manual writing is a task allocated to people who have committed some crime real or imagined and the manual is their revenge on the world.

3. Be prepared to waste time with cable connections that do not fit together. My flat in Gibraltar has Danish phone sockets, Spanish power sockets, English telephones and a French Modem

4. Splitter and Filter are the same thing. What it does is separate high frequency electrical signals (the ADSL) from low frequency signals (Voice Traffic).

5. When it says Configuration Panel it means Control Panel

6. Your browser probably already connects directly to the internet unless you set it up differently.

7. You are connecting the ethernet cable to the Router (which the manual may casually refer to as the ADSL Modem or maybe DSL Modem) in order to set up the Router so once you have got it all working you can disconnect the ethernet cable it and put it in a drawer (or in a box, this is not critical)

8. Check with the man in the shop and/or the local phone company for the following and ignore what the manual says. This is because the man who wrote the manual lives in Taiwan and you probably do not:
Encapsulation Type

By example my settings are:
VPI: 0
VCI: 38
Encapsulation Type: VC-MUX
Protocol: PPPoA (not PPPoE)

9. You name your network by changing the SSID eg to "My_Network"

10. If you have a problem, ask the local phone company if they can "see" the router on their computer and whether it is connected. Mine was very helpful and without them I could not have got it working - they pointed out that it does not use the PPPoE protocol as stated in the manual but uses PPPoA. This is the kind of thing that could stall you for days.

11. Get it working unsecured before trying to secure it

12. Security. When it asks for a WPA Shared Key, this could be "simple simon met a pie man" or "4y923ty9wehfw9ehyc" or whatever. In other words just invent some gibberish (not too obvious like "my wireless network") and type it in. Then write the gibberish on a label and stick it on top of the Router because one day you will need it and you cannot rely on an electronic device to remember it with total certainty.

13. When your laptop picks up your brand new secured network it will ask you for the "WPA Shared Key" so just type in the same gibberish and it should work.

14. Best of luck. Like everything it is easy when you can do it but baffling when you open the box

Thursday 1st May 2008

We are in Gibraltar. It is cool but the sun is shining and there is very little wind so we decide to try another visit to the seaside. Accordingly we drive to Tarifa and spend a glorious day on the beach which is truly beautiful. For once it is not being blasted with wind and all the windfarms on the surrounding hills have ground to a halt. A friendly Spanish couple point out a "flamenco" in a nearby seawater pool and I wade in after it but it keeps moving away.

When we get back I find that I have been badly burned by the sun and have red and white sections, just like the flamenco.

Friday 2nd May 2008

I get up late. I am feeling sorry for myself as a result of my sunburn and to make matters worse my girlfriend is beautifully bronzed.

At about 1.30pm Gibraltar time a cruise ship, Arcadia, attempts to reverse into our flat. Accordingly, it is much closer than usual and we can see all the people lined up on the deck under a mass of Union Jacks. Quite why there are so many flags I have no idea. Maybe they were just feeling patriotic? If you were there you may be able to see yourself if you click on the image below.

In the evening I attempt to find out what is happening in Boris v Ken. It seems that the bookmaker Paddy Power has already paid out on a Boris win and Betfair is offering odds which reflect the same result. If you put 10 on Boris then you stand to only win 70p if he romps home. On the other hand, 10 on Ken will give you winnings of 110. So the betting market is saying that Boris is at least 100 times more likely to win. Meanwhile the journos on TV are being very cautious. This shows the age old principle, never mind what they say, look at where the money is going. Talk is cheap - money is real.

Note: According to Bloomberg, "Boris won 48.4 percent of the vote, beating Livingstone, who has held the mayor's post since it was created in 2000, with 42.6 percent."

Saturday 3rd May 2008

Two skiffs come by and when I look at my photographs closely I realise that in the nearest boat is a very beautiful girl. The cox, meanwhile, is very substantially built. If you are wondering why he has seated this beautiful girl in tight shorts right in front of him, this is clearly to balance out the weight in the boat. I had always assumed that rowers were men and that coxes were tiny - clearly, there is more to this boating than meets the eye.

We wander down to Casemates Square where we sit inside a cafe as it is very windy so the cafes have not put up the parasols that I normally shelter under.

My girlfriend buys a Times for me and a copy of the Sun for herself. When I have finished reading the Times I read the Sun and note that they are trying to pin the bizarre behaviour of Joseph Fritzl ( who had 7 children by his own daughter who was meanwhile locked up in the cellar) on the Nazis. It seems that the three year old Fritzl turned out with the rest of the town to welcome them and this proves he was a bad 'un even then.

Later, at the age of about six, the Sun says that he may have joined the Hitler Youth (all the records were destroyed - funny that). He may also have gassed thousands of Jews at the age of seven and been personally responsible for machine gunning Allied Prisoners of War at the age of eight. We just don't know. On the other hand he could have just been an ordinary, boring kid indistinguishable from anybody else's but that wouldn't make much of a story would it? And the editor was very specific "I want a story about Nazis because stories about Nazis really sell newspapers, along with cats. Did he have a cat?".

One thing we definitely do know, however, is that His Holiness the Pope joined the Hitler Youth. What is more, His Holiness was fourteen when he joined up so he is clearly a lot worse than Fritzl - maybe we should look in the cellars of the Vatican? Could be a whole children's home down there.

In another paper I learn that Fritzl was clearly a sex pervert because he went on holiday to Thailand and "God knows what he got up to there". Nothing much according to a friend of his as Fritzl fended off local women offering him sex. That, of course, is even more proof that he is not only a sex pervert but a really cunning sex pervert as well. By this logic, the most cunning sex perverts of all are people who have never been to Thailand as they are clearly trying to avoid suspicion. Right. All we have to do is lock up everybody who has been to Thailand and everybody who has not and we have got it cracked.

What all this really proves is that there is no limit to the depths that people will stoop to but I suppose they have to sell newspapers somehow.

Note to the Sun: To join The Hitler Youth you had to be at least 14 years old, like His Holiness the Pope, so Fritzl could not have been a member as he was ten years old when the war ended. But why let the facts interfere with a good story?

In the evening I watch a programme on the National Geographic Channel which describes how the British fleet send out a whole bunch of Swordfish torpedoe bombers to sink the Bismarck. Unfortunately, they attack a British ship by mistake but this doesn't matter because none of torpedoes work anyway, because they have all been fitted with duff fuses. What other country could do that? It makes me proud to be British.

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