Antarctica Prize Draw.. ought to be renamed. Unfortunately, the whole competition seems to be less about blogging than marketing – it’s simply about votes.

In fact, it may just as well be called for all it has to do with reporting on events. So I’ve joined the capitalist scramble to the summit, and created a website. Well, I say I’ve created it, but of course I got a man to do it – more on that later.

Oh, I abhor marketing. Really what I want is to mention something once, you all do it, then we can get on with flippant accounts of European touring. But no, I have to waste a whole blog harping on about me. So, before you get any more saucy stuff, I now have to promote myself. I’d rather not…

…but not many of you voted for me at, did you? Well, you’re rotters. For those that did, thank you. For those that didn’t, it’s not too late. In fact, now is the perfect time; the campaign is now ramping up nicely.

Win A Free Ticket To Antarctica

The promise of a shirtless Namibian – in return for votes – perhaps made your blood run cold. Well, scrap that then. I’ve come up with something else entirely: a prize draw for the second Antarctica ticket, worth $10,000. You’ll have to accompany me, though, I’m afraid.

Please, please, please, then: check out and vote. Forward the site to EVERYBODY you know and I shall forgive you all for so few comments on this blog. Whether you are pathologically shy, or not, this should be no great hardship. Just think of the man hours I’ve spent entertaining you with drivel, and then think of karma.

If you don’t fancy Antarctica, vote and join the campaign anyway and give the ticket (if you win) to anybody you like. The ticket is  transferable!

Big Don’s Guest Blog..

My dear friend Barnaby asked me to write a little entry on this blog about three months ago, I think. So here I am, finally….. I actually wrote the material for this months ago, but I’m very lazy and would make a terrible office worker.

Whilst planning this short expose, my first thoughts were which story to tell first. What can I say about the great Barn? He’s very punctual. What’s that? Not enough for you? OK, I’ll carry on. He said any old shit will do, but I thought I’d go one better and write some new shit.

Alpha Male

I suppose I’d better introduce myself. The picture (above) of me topless is merely how I like to greet strangers. I didn’t say I had a lot of friends. Like the host of this blog, I also claim to be a trombone player. We have sat in many an orchestra pit together.

Note that I say “sat” and not played. Out of all the other people that I’ve worked with, I am least productive when sat next to sweet Barnaby. Some of the filth that comes out of his mouth would make even the most seasoned pornstar blush.

Perhaps Barn is a primeval man in a civilised body;maybe one day, someone will make a time machine and he can go back to a period in time that will allow him to act out his fantasies.

Should I mention the one with the donkey, triplet midgets with Austrian accents and industrial sized forceps? Oops.


I don’t know what distracts me the most – the constant innuendo or the persistent dropping of mutes and mouthpieces during quiet sections of the show.

Anyway, in a recent exchange of texts, Barn suggested I mention his doodle-tonguing. Now, I hear you say, what is doodle-tonguing? He doesn’t know either. But as I said at the start, he is very punctual. Maybe I should’ve left it there.

[The editor: Goodness, harsh talk indeed. But I simply can’t abide this libellous rumour. Hand on heart, I can in all honesty say, that I’ve never dropped a mouthpiece during a show. Well, certainly not in a quiet bit.]

A World Without Traffic..

As one progresses through life, one notices draughts. ‘I wake up with a stiff neck…and that’s all,’ says “Wrecker Jon”, edging ever closer to his forties. With routine resignation, we’re off to the continent once again: one sleeping while the other drives, crossing the channel using the port of Dover.

There is a part of me, however,  that still relishes a European adventure; for me, it’s the mystical intrigue of foreign lands, or, as George Cole once brusquely described going abroad, ‘it’s Plod with guns and iffy water.’

Last time I was up in Gothenburg, Sweden, I wrote a blog for another site that went off on a tangent – yes, I know it’s hard to believe – regarding large people. It turned into something of a rant against the spherical among us, and ought not to be repeated.

Fancy the chances, then, that, while nervously eyeing a chainsaw in the luggage rack of the ferry to the Southern archipelago, I should be faced with the sign above. Ooh, it’s tempting to run with it. But no, let’s have a little look at this delightful group of islands.

Gothenburg’s archipelago begins just a nine-minute boat ride from Salthomen ferry terminal. Ah, a world without traffic. Yes, there are scooters, and a peculiar form of sputtering tricycle – used to transport cargo and whooping fair-haired children – but, thankfully, no cars.

Bicyclists and pedestrians meander down broad leafy lanes; well-tended flowers adorn every wooden verandah and window-box. These low-lying rocky islands, connected by a regular ferry service, are a walker’s paradise.

A capital starting point, I think, ought to be the viewpoint on the island of Branno. Right, well where the bloody hell is it, then? Pausing, I ask for directions from a rosy-cheeked family walking a Great Dane. Rosiest of all is the daughter who smiles shyly.

I’m sent back up the hill with the following instructions: ‘Between a red house and a white barn is a path. Get to the fork and you’ve gone too far.’  Well, there’s a fork twenty yards away. Surely they can’t mean that one?

Floundering with a map that is about as good as a metro plan of Paris while negotiating the Arc de Triomphe, I ask again. A youngish chap, again walking a dog, and looking a little like a skateboarder, points confidently back down the hill, toward the cafe which opens at 11ish, depending on the weather.

Smelling a rat, and in my usual circumspect manner, I deem it prudent to put the matter of the viewing point – the highest point on the island – to yet a third person. At this rate, I’ll have approached every one of the 808 inhabitants.

A craggy lady, smelling faintly of liniment, puts me on the right track: yes, back up the blasted, beastly, oxygen-sapping slope. Drinking in a view that is nice – unless you’ve lived in Reading all your life, the brochure description of “magnificent” is a stretch – I look onward. The path to Husvik, complete with a “well-known dance pier” beckons.

The next ferry takes me to the bustling island of Styrso, housing 1346 people. I notice that the museum is open between 6-8pm on Tuesdays only, and that the last ferry back is about 5pm, probably running every day except Tuesdays. Just then, a tricycle motors past, towing a brace of sandy-haired angels, shrieking with delight.

And a jellyfish pulsates at me, while resting on a wooden footbridge. Serenity personified. Everything is just so clear and clean in Sweden. When driving up here, I always feel I should wipe my feet before getting out of the truck.

The island of Donso is even bigger than Styrso. Home to a port of ten shipping companies owning 45 ships – the funny part is that most of them cannot visit Donso because the harbour is too small – the island can be reached by bridge from Styrso. The photo of speedboats’ wakes is taken from that bridge.

My penultimate ferry ride, before the voyage back to the mainland, is to Vrango, the most southerly inhabited island in the archipelago. Having such a splendid afternoon watching pretty canoeists, golf carts and marvelling at the occasional proper signpost, I lose my way on Donso. What can one do, then, but nap under a pine tree on a grassy knoll, a slack flagpole-hoist flapping like a yacht’s mast in the background.

With ferries missed, little can be achieved on Vrango in seven minutes; cut that down to four due to the ferry’s idyllic tardiness, and it’s hopeless. So, just sit back and enjoy the ride. Whatever you choose to do in the archipelago, the salient, underlying point is that you won’t get anything to eat before 11. But, armed with a flask and a slice of fruit cake, there is nowhere finer..

I’ll make you a deal..

I’m a wally sometimes, you know. Having embarked on another project for which I need votes, it has only just occurred to me to use the blog to advertise. Honestly, anyone would think it was I that was dropped on my head as a child, not Crazy Sandra.


Speaking of which, she has written – in conjunction with her chum Patricia – some dross entitled “the two-bird blog”. If you like Metallica, I’m sure it’s marvellous. If you don’t, you may stare glassily ahead and wonder what I’m playing at by publishing it. What should I do? Yes OK, I’ll bin it.

To the nitty gritty, then. As you all know, the Queensland job went sour. It would have involved watching me on video, too, so maybe it is just as well. It’s a minor setback – a A$150,000 setback, admittedly – but the important thing is to move on. Draw a line under it, as bent politicians would say, having been caught with their pants down.

So, what’s the next hare-brained scheme? Well, I’ve applied to be Official Quark Blogger on an Antarctica voyage. This job has my name stamped all over it. But I need votes – loads of them. So I’ll make you a deal.

If you not only vote but also send the link to your email contacts, and Facebook cronies, I shall post a picture of a debonair Namibian with his shirt off, the epitome of sophistication. A bony silhouette, stark against the twilight.. Deal?

If you’d be so kind, please copy and paste the following into your address bar. Scroll a fair way down the page then vote, vote, vote. And spread the word! Ta..