Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Apprentices

I dropped off my younger brother and sister to the Birmingham airport this morning so they could catch their flight to Boston via Amsterdam. They arrived about 12 days ago and boy, if ever there were 'house cats' these 2 are them. They are not the type to travel outside of their element for too long. It is funny how siblings can be raised in the same environment but be so different than each other.

I am not hating on them for not liking the food in the UK as the pickings are definitely slim when it comes to locating great food but these 2 had issues almost everywhere we went even while on the continent. If it wasn't McDonald's or pizza they were looking at it as if it was meant to eat them and not the other way around.

We were able to acquire cheap flights to Frankfurt Hahn and then make our way across to Paris before flying out of Charles de Gaulle airport on this past Wednesday night. As well I took them to Stonehenge and briefly stopped through Salisbury and Bath since we drove all that way to see rocks in the middle of an English field.

I have previously written about my experiences with Ryanair and this one-way flight to Frankfurt Hahn was probably the worst flight experience I have had with Ryanair. It seems we were fortunate to be in the midst of a stag party en route to somewhere and they were just plain out of control on board and the flight crew did nothing but facilitate them in getting even drunker on an 11AM flight.

We landed at Hahn and caught a bus to Luxembourg city where my firstborn son lives with his mother and stayed there in a hostel for 3 nights. I had never stayed in a hostel before as I believe they would disagree with me. In fact unlike my sister and brother I have never even been inclined to see a scary movie that involved a hostel so my expectations were pretty low.

They should have been lower. Really. Much lower.

I do not ask for much from a hotel when I stay in one. I mean clean linen/towels, an electrical outlet to charge my phone and laptop and decent shower. I can deal without TV/cable, a refrigerator or a nice view. This hostel had none of these things except clean sheets. And we had to go fetch those from reception. I had to borrow some towels from my son's mother because the hostel charged for them. They also charged for soap and I am really surprised they didn't charge for toilet paper although I am sure they tried but realized it was to the benefit of their cleaning staff to not do so.

The 'shower' was especially noteworthy for its terribleness. I have been in rain storms that got me wetter than this little spout coming out of the wall in the bathroom. And even better was the squeegee you had to use afterwards to steer the water on the floor towards the drain. Or maybe the the best part was that the bathroom lights worked on a motion detector and when you closed the cloth curtain to enclose you in the corner the lights would magically go off making you wave your hand outside the curtain trying to get the lights to switch on. You decide.

Anyway Luxembourg is a really cool city to explore and in my view maybe the most underrated capital city in all of western Europe. I wore them out with a lot of walking up gorges and down valleys and my brother got really cool blisters because he thought it would be gangsta to wear some heavy Timberland boots.

We took a short train ride to the nearby German city of Trier as my brother felt like he was missing something from the last time he was there and I stopped by there. Apparently he was. The crowd of people was especially strong for some reason on this particular Saturday and all the Germans seemed to be competing in an event to see who could irritate us the most by stopping in front of us or creating a wall of humans walking at a snail's pace.

They succeeded fairly quickly as my brother takes to people about as well as British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith takes to answering questions about her husband's taste in pornos.

We left Luxembourg train station on a TGV train heading to Paris on Monday afternoon and made it to Gare de l'Est in slightly more than 2 hours. I had booked a hotel in the area near Jardin Luxembourg on the south side of the river Seine and after staying in a hostel it seemed like a chateau.

My brother seems to have this notable ability to act as a magnet for weirdos. He was approached by one particular nutter who seemed to admire his aggression and made some gorilla motions while using both his hands to indicate on himself that my brother had huge nuts. And the guy who was in the middle of the subway train with a bag full of the type of stuffed dolls you win at carnivals. He had characters ranging from Superman to Homer Simpson and was performing a play with them. Unfortunately my French is too poor to understand the storyline between Homer and Pokemon.

We walked around and hit the normal tourist areas for a couple days and I even (for some reason) took them to the one tourist area I have always avoided. The area between Sacre Coeur and Montmarte is particularly seedy. I never get used to seeing sex shops next to the post office.

On a positive note I did have the best pizza I have ever had outside of America. I highly recommend Cafe di Roma on the Champs-Elysees although to eat on that road one must apparently be prepared to part with €14.20 for a 1 liter bottle of Pepsi. On a plus note they did give us some ice for free.

We eventually got tired of the bad weather and headed to the airport early for the 2100 flight to Birmingham on FlyBe.

And then I had to deal with the fish incident... Seems there are as many nutters in Birmingham as there is in Paris.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Something's Fishy!!

I have been away from Birmingham for a few days because my little brother and sister are visiting from America and I took them to Germany, Luxembourg and France.

I was planning to write about that tonight until one of the weirdest things to ever happen to me occurred today.

First off I must tell you that I have been borrowing a friends car for a month or so while I have been trying to get finance for a new car. It is a decent beater that gets us from A to B and helps me to stay true my American heritage and remain free from utilizing public transport.

So last night my wife picked the 3 of us up from Birmingham airport and when I kicked her out of the driver's seat I smelled a faint odor. Or at least I think I did. I didn't pay much attention to it as it was that faint. Maybe my wife had a tuna fish sandwich before she picked us up.

So today I had an appointment at Barclays in Small Heath and when my brother, sister and I got in the car I smelled a stronger smell of fish but thought that maybe it was the surrounding area. We drove over to Barclays and they stayed in the car while I was jerked around in Barclays. When I came back outside and opened the driver's side door the smell overpowered me. It smelled worse than 8 cans of shark shit.

I quickly came to the conclusion that there was some dead animal inside the car or in the engine bay. It smelled like fish but it had to be a rat because there are some serious sized rats around here and I am no where near any water.

So we pop the hood and find this...

Yes, indeed that is a 10" gutted silver fish sitting on the manifold of a Vauxhall.

I have no idea how it got there. I called up the guy I am borrowing the car from and he confirmed that I have the only key to the car. There is no spare key. So just how this now half cooked fish got there will be a mystery that is probably never solved.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My New Problem

And the poor get poorer...

I shut down my laptop this morning to take it with me while I was on the go and there was absolutely nothing wrong with my screen. I pull out my laptop to look at something and find a white 6" by 4" rectangle box illegally occupying the bottom right hand corner of my screen.

I am not that upset because the way things have been going for me lately I am accustomed to things going from bad to worse. But at the same time I am perplexed to how it occurred. My laptop was at my side for my short walk and went through no traumatic events that would make incur its wrath.

But now I open my laptop and half the screen is now white. It has gotten much worse. And when I pressed on the back of the screen it got slightly better but obviously that is not a long term solution.

Mac shop; (in the Bullring) here I come....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BBC2 wants me to grow my own drugs! UPDATE!

I have an update to the post that has brought much traffic to my blog in the recent weeks that you can find here!

I received the hops and lavender pillow that I ordered from eBay in the mail yesterday and was quite curious as to how it would work on me. I paid a total of £7 for the pillow and the shipping which seemed worth it to me considering that it was ready-made to use as opposed to trying to source hops and lavender and a small pillow to put in.

Once I opened the small package the scent of lavender was immediate to myself and anyone who walked into the room even though the pillow was still sealed in a small plastic covering.

When I was contemplating going to lay down I busted it open and kept it in front of me to see what the effects would be and I can say after maybe 5 minutes I started yawning... Frequently. I would yawn maybe every 30 to 45 seconds in fact. Then after another 10 minutes my eyes were very heavy and I had to fight to keep them open.

But then after a few more minutes the yawning and heavy eyes was not so constant. I now felt mildly tired and stayed awake for maybe another hour or laying down on my living room carpet. I then decided to go lay down in bed and brought the small pillow upstairs with me wondering how long I would lay in bed as at this point it was perhaps 90 to 120 minutes before I would normally fall asleep.

I estimate I was sleeping within 10 to 15 minutes of having the black bag underneath my chin as I lay on my side. Tonight I will try using the pillow only when I lay down in bed and not before and post write here on this post how that worked out.

Here is a photo of the pillow next to my passport so you can have a proper perspective regarding how actual size of it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In the News

When I write of the events of the past almost 10 years I try to write about them during the same month or week that they occurred years prior. A month like March is particularly hard to write in because I can remember so few things occurring in this month. Thinking about that maybe this is because I generally do not like the month of March. There are no holidays during March and generally the weather is still cold and wet and you are just waiting for the winter to end.

So with that I give you this...

Finn creates USB 'finger drive'

A Finnish computer programmer who lost one of his fingers in a motorcycle accident has made himself a prosthetic replacement with a USB drive attached.

Jerry Jalava uses the 2GB memory stick, accessed by peeling back the "nail", to store photos, movies and programmes.

The finger is not permanently attached to his hand, so it can be easily left plugged into a computer when in use.

Mr Jalava says he is already thinking about upgrading the finger to include more storage and wireless technology.

"I'm planning to use another prosthetic as a shell for the next version, which will have removable fingertip and RFID tag," he wrote on his blog, ProtoBlogr.net.

Half of Mr Jalava's left ring finger had to be amputated last summer after he crashed into a deer while riding his motorbike near Helsinki.

He says he was inspired to create the unique storage device when doctors treating him joked that he should have a USB "finger drive" after finding out that he was a software developer.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/03/17 16:45:05 GMT


Monday, March 16, 2009

Mind the Gap?

I went to a new dentist's office this morning looking to get a tooth fixed that a filling fell out of a few years (yes, I did say years) back. I mind was already made up before going inside that I was probably going to have the tooth pulled but I was interested in perhaps having the tooth saved if possible.

I had gone to a dentist to have it repaired not long after I arrived in Birmingham but was told by the dentist that it would first needed a root canal. I have had one root canal before in my life and like most people, enjoyed it about as much as one would enjoy a person sticking toothpicks down into a hole they made in your tooth.

I do not have a bad history with dentists just the methods they utilize to numb pain. I typically require the highest level of local anesthesia allowed legally to a human being and yet I still feel the drill. Once while under general anesthesia having my wisdom teeth removed while in the military (I wanted a few days off) I woke and sat up in my chair scaring the dentist out of his seat.

So the first dentist I went to a while ago couldn't get very far because the pain was too intense. He gave me a prescription for some horrible tasting antibiotics and I never returned but he did put a temporary filling in.

So last Friday I woke up with a bubble on my gums underneath where the said tooth is located and decided that as I will be traveling this week maybe I should have it looked at... And probably pulled.

So I looked on Yell.com for a dentist in the area that could offer general anesthesia or nitrous oxide because I am a scared little girl when it involves drills inside my mouth and found one not to far away in Edgbaston. I called asked if they accept NHS patients and was told much to my surprise by reception that they did. An appointment was made for Monday morning.

I left the house early with my wife because I knew that there would be forms to fill out and what not and because I had a feeling I would be behind a truck that would slam into a white van and so it was. We arrived at the dentist's surgery about 20 minutes before my appointment and I filled out my forms.

I was seen by the dentist only a few minutes late and had my tooth looked at. The options where then laid out to me and I was told that it would cost £300 to perform the root canal and cap it with a porcelain filling. I was quite taken aback by these words as I was told that they accepted NHS patients and after a long conversation that I couldn't be bothered to repeat found out that they do 'accept' NHS patients but that they only accept NHS payment for certain treatments.

And root canals nor porcelain fillings are included. But the anesthesia and the tooth extraction are.

Is £300 worth not having a gap in the back of my mouth?

Friday, March 13, 2009

All Greek'd Up

Tonight I went out to a Greek restaurant here in Birmingham named Zorba's to eat with my wife and children. I found them on the Internet and decided that we would give it a shot.

The exterior of the restaurant was beautiful and stood out from the buildings around it like a rose blossoming from a crack on the sidewalk of Birmingham. I cannot recall seeing any shopfront like it in all of the 4 years I have been in Birmingham. Perhaps it was due to the lighting showcasing the shop in the night but it was very impressive.

Too bad that was the best the place had to offer.

The interior was better than average but slightly conflicting between traditional Greek and Victorian era architecture. In the main dining room it had Victorian style chandeliers and other ceiling fixtures but ostentatious Greek art and drawings on the walls. In a side dining room that we ate in the decor was cool and very much in tune with the outside of the restaurant but the white Xmas lights flashing kind of made it look a little tacky.

We were given menus and took out time looking over them as we waited for our drinks. The starter menu was more expansive than the main course for some reason and when I think of Greek food I am sorry but lasagna and rigatoni are not up there at the top. We ended up ordering 4 starters and just nibbling on them between us.

We ordered one of my favorite salads named Caprese, an assortment of Greek sauces including Tzaziki and hummus, and a few other dishes. None of them were particularly any good and only the sauces and fresh pita bread with Haloumi cheese was really any good. A plate of Calamari rings tasted like something I could buy frozen from the supermarket and cook at home on my own. In fact most of the starters were like that.

I think they over-charged me as well. I guess the moral of the experience can be summed up in 3 words.

Book, judge and cover.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

UK vs USA universities

As promised.

So there are a few world-class universities here in the UK and a great deal of very good ones. Virtually all of them are in England as is to be expected as the majority of the population is in England.

Here in the UK education is only compulsory up to the age of 16 at the moment all though there is talk of bumping that up to 18. In America when you apply for universities fresh from high school your grade point average (GPA) and your Standard aptitude test (SAT) scores are basically what universities look at. In the UK the students take what is known as A levels in certain subjects which the universities here look for.

So in America you apply in your senior year (12Th grade when typically students are 17 or 18) of high school for the universities you would like to go to and they send acceptance letters in the spring I believe.

Here in the UK the students take their A levels and apply but through a computer system named UCAS. Apparently it is the only way to do it. You pay £17 and get to apply for up to 5 programs.

And then the differences are much greater.

In the UK bachelors degrees are typically 3 years and not 4 as they are in America and that is because the whole approach and methodology to attaining the degree is polar opposite.

In American universities you have to achieve 120 credits in order to attain your bachelors degree in any given subject with each course being worth 3 credits. Simple math tells you that 120 credits divided by four years of school is 30 credits per year with each class being worth 3 credits equals 10 courses per academic school year.

Those courses you take are structured into subjects and you are entirely free to choose what courses you want to take BUT you do need to attain a certain amount of your 120 needed to graduate from a variety of subjects. For example you may need 12 of those credits to be English and 9 to be in Math even though you are pursuing a History degree.

In England if you are taking a degree program in History then ALL of your courses are generally to do with history.

In my eyes this is better. Your knowledge level and understanding in that specific subject will be far superior in practically all instances than someone who takes a 4 years degree in the same subject at an American university as they do not focus solely on the degree that will named on your shiny piece of paper.

3 years of history based classes to attain a history degree or.... 4 years of history, math, science, English, PE, and a foreign language to attain a History degree????

Seems like an easy choice to me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Visit day at B'ham Uni

This morning I had an appointment at Birmingham University's School of Education for one of their many 'visit days'.

Overall it was a waste of time with the exception of actually being able to meet the head of the program I am very interested in and the head admissions guy for the School of Education and put a face to the emails. These two individuals were a tremendous source of guidance and insight and I really look forward to hopefully working with the head of the program starting in the next academic school year.

The reason why I found it a waste of time other than them though is that the majority of people at this 'visit day' were all teenagers and the table of events was obviously more geared towards their needs. I am what is called a 'mature student' here in the UK and I am not in need of looking for the on-campus dorm that is closest to the local watering hole and the like. So while I did take a quick tour of some of the beautiful university grounds I still ended up waiting almost 3 hours to speak with the head of the program.

Indeed it was worth it in the end though, as she outlined what I needed to do to be accepted into her program. As all of my qualifications are American based and I have not been in school since people were doing the Macarena she requested some supplemental work from myself to assist her in making a sound judgement on my application.

Fair enough. She asked for 1500 words on 'Why Education is Important."

Quite the broad subject title, yes, I know.

Perhaps tomorrow I will outline the differences between a UK and American degree program.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Feeling the 'Crunch'

A week ago or so I wrote how I tried to do my part for the UK economy and get myself a new Land Rover but was rebuffed at every turn.

So I was forced to 'settle' for helping France or Germany's economies as Mercedes, Volkswagen and Citroen treated me the way that I have come to expect them to. That being salesmen trying to sell me a car. Land Rover seem to think that cars are meant to sit in showrooms and seaports or something.

So after agreeing to prices and options the next step is for the dealership to acquire finance on our behalf. Less than 2 years ago when we bought our last new car the 0% finance was approved over the phone at the dealership in about 15 minutes but of course we are in a severe recession and banks are tighter with credit than a frog's butt underwater even though governments are trying to create circumstances and incentives for them not to be like that.

But it seems they can't help themselves.

Even though my wife has a long and perfect credit history and I have a short and perfect one we were still turned down at every dealership we went to. We are utterly amazed. Even the car manufacturer that we bought a new car from in 2007 and paid on time every month for 17 months before paying off the total sum turned us down... WTF!!

So, I made an appointment with a manager of the dealership that we had bought a car from before and explained to him the situation. He is currently trying speaking with the higher ups at the finance company trying to get this sorted.

I sort of feel bad for the dealerships all around the country. I saw in the news a few days ago that new car sales in February were down almost 22% from February 2008. And that in late January it was reported that 300,000 people were turned down for car loans in the UK for a 6 month period in late 2008.

So there are a whole bunch of us out here looking to spend our money but not able to because the banks and finance companies want to hoard their cash and not loan it out. Hence putting pressure on the car manufactures who are begging governments around the world for tax-payers money...

What can be done to get the bankers to stop being afraid like George Bush at an Iraqi shoe factory?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dad's 1st Visit

It is said that most Americans do not have a passport and an even greater amount never leave America's borders. With recent legislation in America making the old past-time of traveling to Canada, Mexico and certain Caribbean Island nations with a driving license or birth certificate now extinct more passports are being issued than ever before to American citizens. Yet it is unknown how many actually utilize them to travel outside of North America.

Whether most Americans not leaving their continent is an admirable or detestable situation is indeed debatable on many levels. It is understandable to believe that North America has so many different cultural treasures and great vacation spots that a person could spend a week vacation every year for 20 years easily exploring the continent and not going to the same place twice.

At the same time there are so many other cultures and environments on 6 other continents that have so much to offer and explore that it seems a shame to limit oneself to one continent.

In late February 2006 my father made his first trip outside of North America to come and visit my family and I in Birmingham for about 9 days. My dad is a typical American man in his 50's with a slight resemblance to Liverpool Football Club manager Rafa Benítez and getting him to actually apply for a passport was a huge step. At this point I had actually been living in Europe for almost 7 years and it amazes me that it took this long for my dad to get a passport and get on a plane. In fact, that more of my family has not taken advantage of me living in Europe to come and visit me leaves me incredulous. If I was in their shoes I would have been over at every opportunity. But I digress.

My Dad flew on KLM from Boston to Amsterdam and then after a small layover a short leg of Amsterdam to Birmingham. He didn't much take to Birmingham in those first few days. He wasn't too thrilled with the food nor the trash that people around here seem to religiously throw wherever they please in Birmingham. The only food he actually liked while he was here was Nando's.

I had booked us a flight from London Luton airport to to Grenoble airport in the French Alps on Easyjet while he was here in Europe so that we could go visit my son in France. The flight wasn't until late morning but we were catching a coach from Birmingham to London Luton at 6.45AM leaving us plenty of time to get stuck in traffic on the M1. As I only lived about maximum 10 minutes from the coach station we went outside to the car at around 6.15-6.20ish to have my wife drive us to the station.

Unfortunately the car decided that it didn't want to start. It was actually a very cold night out but I never had the problem with the car prior to that. We tried push-starting the car for about 5 minutes before we gave up and I called a friend to drive us to the station but of course we had missed our coach by then.

The next best option was a 7.30AM bus heading to central London. Luton airport is not actually in London. I would estimate it to be around 40 minutes drive north on the M1 from central London with decent traffic. I was actually hoping that the coach driver would drop us near the airport but I didn't have the nerve to ask.

By the time we got to London it was around 10.30AM and now we had to find a way to back track through the city and up the M1. It wasn't looking good. If we missed this flight my dad wouldn't have another chance to fly to France to see my son. I asked a black cab how much it would cost me to get to Luton and he quoted me "around £120". I found a private taxi and he told me he could get me there in time for £75 and we were off. He drove like a mad man through the city in his Ford Galaxy minivan and even stopped on the way for some gas before dropping us off at the airport with literally only a few minutes to spare.

We checked in and hurried to the gate to board the aircraft. After landing at St George airport we passed through immigration and boarded a bus for centre of Grenoble. I had booked a hotel nearby to where my son was staying and we had an excellent time having fun with my oldest son.

My dad loved France. He found the atmosphere and the environment of Grenoble to be extraordinary not to mention the great food. I think while he obviously wanted to spend time with his granddaughter in Birmingham he really hated to fly back to the UK.

The morning of his flight to Amsterdam continental Europe was having some terrible weather. His flight to Amsterdam was delayed a day and then when he did make it out to Amsterdam the next morning he got stuck there for another day before getting flown to Newark airport and then on to Boston.

I guess he didn't have that bad of time here in Birmingham though because he did end up returning about 2 years later. He still insisted on flying to France though.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

BBC2 wants me to grow my own drugs!

Last night I caught a show on BBC2 starring an ethnobotanist named James Wong entitled "Grow Your Own Drugs".

I found it very fascinating as I believe that in many (and perhaps most) cases nature possesses the remedy to that which ails us more so than the pharmaceutical companies would like us to know. If we know that a certain plant that we can grow ourselves will act to sooth eczema for example then why would we purchase their creams and pills?

Anyway I was particularly interested in a method Wong showed to help insomniacs like myself as I have built up a resistance to OTC sleeping medication. What would he suggest that I could grow myself or extract from a common natural source to aid me in falling asleep?

Well, quite simple really. Hops. Yes the same hops used in beer.

Apparently on the hop plant their is a yellow dust that aides in inducing sleep.

As not to have your bedroom smelling like hops Wong suggested adding a few handfuls of dried lavender to a breathable mesh bag that you lay on your pillow when you desire to go to sleep.

I am trying to source the ingredients over the net as I write this and will write how it pans out for me in the near future.

Here is his recipe from the BBC2 website:

For a pillow about 32 x 23 cm:
4 handfuls dried hops flowers
4 handfuls dried lavender flowers
1. To dry the hops and lavender yourself, tie them in bunches and hang upside down in a well-ventilated space out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks. Alternatively, place in a low oven (about 100C) for 30 minutes or so until dry and crispy. Strip the flowers off the larger or harder stalks.
2. Put equal handfuls of dried hops and lavender flowers into a cotton pillowcase, and seal the end.

USE: Place the pillow under or beside your head to induce sleep.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Can't get over Land Rover!

I have a good friend here in Birmingham who works as an engineer for Jaguar/Land Rover and he says that it is very likely that he will be one of the 3000 people working for them to get the axe here in the UK. When he told me this a week or so ago I was absolutely dumbfounded.

Admittedly Jaguars and Land Rovers are not 'popular' cars in a world gone 'eco' nuts but they are British cars (Or at least they used to be.) and support the economy of this country. As someone who does not believe that human beings are to blame for the so called 'global warming' (Or is it climate change now, Al Bore?) not to mention needing a 7-seater vehicle I am in the market for a Land Rover Discovery 3.

I have looked at other vehicles such as the Mercedes R320, the Volkswagen Touran and the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso but would have loved to get the Discovery 3.

So, I looked online and found 3 Land Rover dealers in my area and took a ride to the closest one to take a test-drive and get some literature on the truck. Upon arriving to the dealership I walked inside and started to look around at all the different vehicles available including the 2 different versions of the Discovery 3. After a few minutes I was asked by some woman if I had been helped yet to which I informed her that I had not been.

She told me that she would get someone right out to help me as I looked at the interior of one of the Discovery models.

A minute or so later a man walks out and asks me some general questions as to what I am looking for. He then asked me a few questions that I have never been asked before at a dealership in the UK or any other country for that matter.

"Are you a resident of the country?"

"Do you have a full UK driving licence?"

"What kind of car are you driving now?"

It seemed to me that he was trying to get rid of me so that he could go back and sit in his office before going home in 50 minutes when the clock struck 6PM. Once he realized that I was not here to waste his time he sat me down and took some information from me to get a price for the truck.

After leaving me outside on the sales floor for about 20 minutes he comes out and shows me what he can offer me the truck for. I told him that was all very well but when was I going to be able to take the truck for a spin?

He looks at his watch. It is now approaching 5.35PM. He says to me well we don't actually have a manual for you to test-drive. There are only a few automatics. To his frustration I told him that that was not a problem.

He went to get the dealer plates and make a photocopy of my licence and then took me to the back of the dealership where the trucks were parked.

"Oops. I grabbed the wrong keys." By the time he comes back it is slightly past 5.40PM and we get into the truck. I pull out and test-drive the very comfortable and sturdy Discovery 3 for only about 10 minutes as the dealership is beginning to shutdown.

I park the truck back in its place and we sat there having some small chat about how I liked it.

He then gives me his card and we part ways.

As I did not like the way the salesman had treated me I had no intention of returning to give him my business. But I had taken my literature, received a quote and test drove the vehicle.

The next day I called the other 2 Land Rover dealers in the area and spoke with some salesmen and told them what I was looking for. I was told by each dealership that they would look up some numbers and get back to me.

To this day both of them have not. I even called them both back a week later and told the receptionist that I had already called and given my information to a salesman but had not had a call back.

I tried to give my money to Land Rover and they didn't seem to want it. And that is a shame because my friend and many others may lose their jobs because this company doesn't have enough cash-flow. I am not silly enough to think that I would save a few jobs at Land Rover/Jaguar if I had bought a Discovery 3 but the troubling part is that if this has happened to me I am sure it has happened to others too.

Oh, well. I really don't mind a German car I guess...