Cretan Blog – June 2012

A warm welcome from a warm Crete. The tourist season is getting fully underway now but there are not as many tourists as the local shop and Taverna owners would like to see.

I should also give a warm welcome to a new reader to these words of wisdom, Graham Coomber, G0NBI, who is now the RSGB General Manager. It is a pity he was not in place a couple of months ago when I was having all the delivery problems with RadComic – why? Well, he used to hold the call SV0XBA so he could relate to my problems far more that some others I could mention . . .

Recent Visit – part the First:
Readers of the Cretan Correspondent will remember my last visit to the UK and the trouble getting through LHR. Well, before leaving for our recent trip, we saw on the news about some of the delays at ‘The Border’ at Heathrow. We were not too concerned about this as we would be arriving at Gatwick.

How misguided we were.

Not-soeasyJet landed at LGW and taxied off the runway and stopped. It seems that no-one at LGW knew we were arriving and had not turned on any Stand equipment. The buses which were meant to greet us were also conspicuous by their absence. Announcements from the cabin crew were at odds with those coming from the cockpit. What an airline!

We eventually get on a bus and were moved, like cattle, to a door several miles from where we have to have our passports checked. Then the wait started. Despite us all having EU Passports; we queued and queued for well over an hour. This was at 01.30 in the morning so God alone knows what it would be like at a civilised time of day!

When we eventually get through the ‘UK Border’ we descend into another dungeon to collect our luggage. However, because we have been so long in getting through the ‘UK Border’, all our cases have been removed from the baggage carousel and put on the floor so the carousel can be used for another flight . . .

What a good impression to give to a visitor to the UK . . .

Our return trip started off being just as fraught. We arrived about 45 minutes early for check-in and so the XYL went to the Not-soeasyJet Customer Service Cock-Up Desk to ask if we could check our bags in early. “Of Course!” she was told, and we were told to queue up in one of those long ‘rat-run’ things that they have these days.

We eventually get to the desk and are told that, because we are early, we could not check in!  Eh? What a way to run an airline! Two people, sitting no more than 15 feet apart, tell you totally different stuff. I let it be known, quite loudly, that I was not happy with Not-soeasyJet and that with their no leg-room seating, seats that do not recline, overpriced cans of beer/soda/water, I do not anticipate flying with them again.

However, the XYL does not like changing planes in Athens and would rather fly direct with all the noisy screaming parents and their kids so maybe I will have to, but I may have to take a bottle or two of Valium first.

Some things continue to amaze us out here . . .
Back in April, the XYL needed to see the local Dentist as she seemed to have an infection under some tooth or other but he was away, having taken a couple of days off after Easter. As it was not urgent, she said that she would give him a ring the following Monday and then pop down and see him.

With the XYL having to do this walking thing, the other Sunday afternoon we parked the car some way outside Elounda and took a walk into the town. This took us about 40 minutes. As we approached a café where we had arranged to meet a friend, a chap crossed the path in front of us and said “Hello!” – It was the Dentist!

The XYL, not backwards in coming forwards, said that she wanted to see him etc. He says “No problem. Pop in tomorrow, around noon!” Appointment made, we wander off quite happy.

The following day the XYL visits the Dentist. For an infection the Dentist would normally prescribe some Anti-bio things, usually Penicillin based, however, the XYL is allergic to Penicillin as it could be a touch on the fatal side if she takes it. She would normally take Erythromycin but it seems that this is no longer available, so a substitute needed to be found.

The Dentist says, “Do not worry. You go home and I will phone you this evening about the replacement and you can pop down to the Chemists in Elounda and pick it up”. We plod round in the house and garden and after tea, round about 8.30pm, the phone goes. It is the Dentist. He tells the XYL what the new tablets are called and that he has phoned the Chemist to say we will collect them that evening and that the Chemist will stay open until we get there!

We set off to Elounda. We arrive at the Chemist. The XYL enters to collect the stuff. Out here you pay for your drugs on a sliding scale sort of thing but the XYL had forgotten her purse and so did not have any cash on her. Having only my old working clothes on, I had no cash either. Maria in the Chemist says “Don’t worry. Pay me next time you are passing through!” This sort of thing may happen in the more remote areas of the UK or the Outer Hebrides, but I doubt it would ever happen in Cheshunt or Loughton!

I do not understand why . . .
I cannot get a normal cup of coffee in the UK now.

On our recent trip, wherever we went, be it a pub or a restaurant, you could never just get a normal cup of coffee; it always had to have some weird made-up name. When I asked, [Shouted? – Ed] for a NORMAL CUP OF COFFEE, I was looked at as some form of Neanderthal as I did not understand what a Lattay or a Mocker was.

When did a normal cup of coffee become extinct? While in one of these coffee places, I think it was called Café Rude or something that sounds similar, I looked at their meandyou and saw some of their descriptions of the wines that they serve. Amazed by the stupid explanations, I wrote some down.

How about a wine called Merlot (Which I am told is pronounced MerLOW – then why spell it with a T?) which they say is – “Big, Inky plum-fruit, with Supple Grip” – has it got handlebars? Or how about the House Red which is “Crunchy” (probably got broken biscuit in it) or something called Tannet-Merlot which has a ‘Dark Chocolate Backbone’?

“Yes Sir, the wine doubles as a hot chocolate in Winter”. Who, in their right mind thinks up these stupid descriptions?

As we left a coffee emporium in Canterbury, we were given a little card. This has a number on it and you go on T’internet, put in the reference number and fill in a questionnaire.

Oh Boy, was that fun! Whenever you clicked on of those little ‘radio button’ things that meant Disagree or Strongly Disagree, the screen went mad and other questions were thrown at you to find out why you disliked this or that. The first time this happened I really let fly but after this each time the screen came up again I kept referring to the first answer.

At the end they wanted your name, address, email and other stuff and although I gave them a valid email address, it will be interesting to see if (a) they ever answer my complaints, or (b) if I start to get spam and other solicitations to the name I gave them.

Recent Visit – part the Second:
It was good to be able to come to a Friday evening Club Meeting while we were over and I had no trouble in getting a normal cup of coffee through the hatch . . .!

The ‘chat’ by Deputy Regional Rep Norman Crampton was ok but I’m still not sure if he is one of us, or one of ‘them’. I doubt that anything he raises with those up in Bedford will change much. I know my argument and comments were aimed at receiving RadComic on-line and being able to download it but I do not think he really understood the (my) problem.

I don’t think he was very receptive to the thoughts about the RSGB web site either. Here I think he was following the ‘party line’ by saying about all the changes that were coming. And why base it on the BBC web site which, I am told, is based on the RSGB web site and offers the same quantity of rubbish when you try and do a search?

Archaeological Day Out:
As mentioned previously, the other week we wandered off to the Minoan site at Gournia. The previous evening to the actual visit we once again met up at the Taverna where we have our Gardening Club meetings and were given a history and full lowdown of the site by Don, the Curator of Knossos.

What a brilliant speaker he is. He does not talk down you because you are not some Graduate studying archaeology, but talks to you as if you are a mate.

The following morning we all met up at Gournia and, along with an ‘official’ guide, we spent about 4 hours walking round the site, learning about this and that. Having the ‘official’ guide with us meant that we could visit parts of the site that are fenced off from the usual visitors due to the excavating work being carried out. A fascinating few hours and although the site just looks like a pile of old stones, when you know what was where, what has been found, and what is currently being done, it all seems to drop into place.

The people who lived there, around 2,000 BC, even had two buildings that are now called ‘ship-sheds’ where they used to haul their boats out of the water for repair. The basis of these buildings are still there!

Fascinating stuff.

Where is he?
You may recall that when these funny ‘Q’ and ‘O’ prefixes were announced, some of us asked the question: How will you know where someone is?

Well, during the Aegean RTTY Contest I worked a GI4 station, then, 10 minutes later I work the same guy, but this time signing GQ4***. I know he was the same GI as the last letters of his call are the same but what of someone who does not know the UK Licence/Call system?  Maybe he just wanted Crete for a new one, I don’t know but think the people at Bedford and Ofcom never seriously thought this one through . . . [More callsigns thoughts in the Summer Newsletter – Ed]

Other Radio Stuff:
The other week I received the WARD 2012 Award from the QTC people in Poland and again the turn-round time was less than a month. This is quite impressive as more and more people apply for the award each year. [For followers of World Amateur Radio Day, next year it is on Thursday 18th AprilEd]

As an aside, when I received the award the envelope was ‘padded’ by a stiff piece of card. The card was in fact another award issued in Poland but to Shortwave Listeners and called “My First HRD Award” which just shows details of the first ever QSL card you received while being a SWL. What a good way to help someone get started out in the hobby and I think it is based on an old ARRL scheme. What an excellent idea. RSGB please note.

I have also applied for ‘The Welsh Award’ from the Tenby Repeater Group. With this, us ‘Europeans’, have to work five Welsh calls while you in G-land have to work 10. Anyway, after a recent RTTY contest found that I had worked 5 people from across the other side of the Severn Bridge and so claimed for a mixed mode version of the parchment. When I receive it I will give more details but it seems quite easy to obtain.

Put up a ground plane for 6 meters the other weekend. At just over 1.42 meters long it so not what you would call ‘big’! A quick tune round found the band closing as the couple of UR stations I heard calling CQ were getting weaker all the time. Then up comes an HA8 – I call him, we work and I’m quite pleased at this as he is my first ever QSO on 6 meters. Over 800 miles on a piece of old mains lead and a few watts – I will try this band again! [Indeed he did – Dick replaced the ground plane with a vertical dipole and worked an OH5 at over 2,800kms or 1,750 miles the following day!]

Shoot Yourself In The Foot Dept:
I’m sorry if I keep having a go at the RSGB but they do make is so easy –

On page 8 of June RadComic, someone, I don’t know who as they did not sign the article, says: “Sadly, many of us will have seen examples of such stations where the operators sit with their backs to the public, talking into a microphone.”

Then, on page 15 there are two pictures of people operating from The Green Shed with their backs to the public . . .

Saying of the Month:
Those of you old enough to remember Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In will remember the ‘Lady from the telephone company’, Lilly Tomlin, the comedienne. She says:

“It’s my belief we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.”

Well Said!

Response from the RSGB Rep by the time this was sent to Deez:


That’s it. But here’s something to put on your QSL cards… and I didn’t even mention the Data Protection Act!

“Keep Radio Live! Ban Internet linking.”


Dick SV0XBN/9

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