Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Travel insurance

Mrs W had a bout of tonsillitis and pharyngitis on our recent holiday (she's a martyr to her throat), so we had to visit a local doctor. When you arrive at the surgery, you're supposed to put on slippers, but I have to admit that I missed this particular piece of Swissiquette. Perhaps it has something to do with germs? I've never been asked to wear slippers at a doctor's in London.

Anyway, the bill and the subsequent medications probably came to about £100. We thought we'd claim it back on our travel insurance on return.

You wouldn't believe the guff they expect you to send. Nightmare form to fill in. Loads of original documents, showing our shoe sizes etc. I felt compelled to send these special delivery, in case they got lost, which cost about £4. The excess is £50, I think, so we've already written off more than half the cost. Mrs W and I spent a couple of hours getting everything together.

All in all, you have to ask whether it's worth it. But we're not prepared to shrug our shoulders and say forget it. I'll keep you posted.

I've found the olive bar

My local Tesco Metro has recently had a makeover, but Mrs W and I were struggling to find the promised olive bar. They've only gone and tucked it away in a normal aisle, haven't they? Up near the bread and milk. I didn't like the look of it, if I'm frank. Not much protection against coughs and sneezes. Not that I'm a hypo or anything.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Time flies when you're having fun...

... but not when you're reading The story of a watch company - the book that celebrates the history of Swiss brand, Tissot (see blogs passim).

We learn, for instance, about the extensive "peregrinations" of Charles-Emile Tissot - a reference, I believe, to his frequent trips to the Americas and Russia.

The author is excited, on examining an old register, to discover that Tissot produced hydraulic watch hammers between 1860 and 1875.

There's a picture of Marie Tissot celebrating 50 years of activity in the company back in 1966. She is cutting a three-tiered cake with Mr Weibel and Mr Schatz.

Without question, it's touching and enthralling in equal measure. But I'm sure there's more to come.

Watch this space.

So to speak.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Iranian nuclear programme

I heard on the news tonight that Iran is pushing ahead with heavy water production. This is absolutely stupid, because everyone knows how much limescale heavy water creates in kettles.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Picture perfect

All the photos you see on Washed and Ready to Eat are taken courtesy of the Canon A95 PowerShot - The camera that thinks for itself. If I had to do the thinking, the pictures would probably be a lot worse.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Phil Woodford: the story of a mountain man





I've just returned from a week in the Swiss resort of Saas-Fee. As you can see from the photos, I am very much at home in this spectacular region near the Italian border and think I may possibly have been some kind of Alpine goatherd in a previous life.

Throughout my short trip, I kept a watchful eye on the comings and goings of the hardy mountain folk who inhabit the local area. I broke bread with them, learned about their ecologically-friendly, subsistence lifestyle and tried not to spend too much on their overpriced coffee and cakes.

Below, you'll find evidence of the Saaser lifestyle as it is lived today. Hardly anything has changed, I suspect, since people first settled in the area thousands of years ago. Or certainly not since the 1980s.

Some characters I met on my travels



Alpine pingpong


Extreme table tennis at 2000m. Not for the faint-hearted, believe me.

Always use a condiment


No ketchup? OK, pass me that tasty Swiss-style alternative...

Wooden it be lovely?


This giant bird makes me feel a little peckish. I head straight for the nearest restaurant and order a schnitzel.

Herd today, gone tomorrow


Anyone who knows me will testify to my love of nature. There's nothing I like better than wading knee deep through cowpat to chew the cud with some bovine pals. On this particular occasion, it was a little bit wet, so I couldn't stop for long. We discussed the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy on Switzerland, bearing in mind the country's non-EU status. I also asked about BSE, which seemed to ring a bell with some of the more active animals.

Boost for Swiss referees

On the 'ead son: balls are now easier than ever to spot on Swiss football pitches, as this picture demonstrates.

The mountain man relaxes

Splashing out: after a day chiselling carvings into Alpine horns, there's a need for some serious relaxation. In most cantons, this would traditionally take the form of a jacuzzi in a luxury spa resort.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I should have said...

I asked my therapist to record a few words of endorsement for me a couple of weeks ago. You can hear his thoughts by clicking on the link at the top right of this web page.

A taste of Switzerland

I'm heading for the Alps soon and this is the kind of stuff I'll be eating. I think that tomato counts towards my five a day.

Aisleyne on Nikki and Pete's romance

As Nikki re-entered the BB7 house tonight, Aisleyne commented: "It's like the most beautiful love story evah.... real.... real... real...."

Bless.

What Sub Post Offices sell

There's a funny Sub Post Office near where I live that sells a lot of strange stuff. You know those places that are more than just newsagents because they've got the post office bit too? It seems to give them a licence to fill their shelves with all kinds of weird goods.

Example 1: A cork screw
Example 2: A pack with paperwork that allows you to sign over power of attorney to someone.
Example 3: A cowboy six-shooter gun of the kind that I would have had when I was a boy.

Scenario: You persuade someone to sign over power of attorney to you and celebrate by firing your gun in the air as you swig a bottle of vino.

More news from the Post Office soon here at Washed and Ready to Eat.

Birthday faux pas

I've been so busy that I forgot my old friend Evie's birthday present. I emailed her and asked what she'd like. She said a Pret brownie, because she lives up in Liverpool and dreams of posh London food.

I bought the brownie and it sat in my office for about 10 days before I got around to sending it, along with some other bits and pieces. She's just texted to tell me it was nine days past its sell-by date.

Well, it's the thought that counts, isn't it?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A new best-seller?

Watch out for excess packaging: Tissot's luxury tray system contains a full-length paperback on the history of the Swiss company.

The story of a watch company - Swiss style

I'll be heading to Switzerland soon for a well-earned break in the mountains. It's a beautiful and fascinating place, if just a little on the kitsch side. You can rest assured that I'll be on the look-out for things worth photographing and, if I find them, they'll be uploaded to the pages of Washed and Ready to Eat quicker than you can say gep├Ąckaufbewahrungsschein. (I once went to a bier keller, incidentally, in Lucerne where performers threw flags in the air and a pantomime cow wandered around among the tables.)

Anyway, I recently bought Mrs W a watch for her anniversary, which is made by the Swatch-owned Swiss company, Tissot. In the beautiful packaging (see above), there's a book that charts the history of the Tissot brand from ye olde days - or should that be yodeley days? - through to the 21st century.

It's a lovely idea. We learn, for instance, that Elvis Presley and Nelson Mandela had Tissot watches. The only problem is that the narrative and translation in the 270-page volume make no sense whatsoever. Here's a typical section: "At that moment, I am saved by my sense of tact from criticising the photograph. The black pavilion with its lugubrious drapery is certainly in doubtful taste!"

More snippets to follow.

Piz Buin

On my bottle of Piz Buin sun cream, it says the product has been "Sahara Tested". This sounds very reassuring, because temperatures in South-West London are rarely as high as those in North Africa. But would you honestly wear Factor 9 in the Sahara? Perhaps it would cover you just long enough to make it out of your tent and down for a sip at the oasis.