Showing posts from February, 2010

Tomorrow here

This is tomorrow here is Bosnia and Herzegovina. What's it all about? Google it! I say that because I don't want to appear either ill-informed or insensitive and I know enough to know there are different opinions about the day. Are such disagreements so surprising? Let me avoid any deep issues and give my less-than-totally-serious answer. Things surprise me less and less but I think, in a way, this is surprising. In the UK people don't seem to care what a Bank Holiday is for, just that it's a day off work. For example, I'm sure it's that inherent laziness, rather than deep-seated English pride, that fuels the annual call for St George's Day to get added to the list national days off. Here, it seems, people are perhaps more principled. Anyway I post this picture for the friend who was really excited when we saw this sign during a Sunday afternoon stroll through her town centre.

Don't Jump

I wasn't going to post on this story, but then I changed my mind. Back in the summer we went to the 443 rd annual bridge jumping competition from the Stari Most in Mostar. It was an insane – and awe inspiring – spectacle. Divers from all over had come to demonstrate that art of shallow diving. There seemed to be two basic techniques: feet first or head first. One seemed to score points for a big splash, the other didn't. Later that evening, I was leaning on the railings at the launch point, staring down into the swirling waters, discussing with a friend whether I'd have the bottle to jump if my life depended on it. This morning I heard that someone died jumping off the Stari Most on Monday. The local word was he jumped from the wrong side, landed on his back and and never reappeared from the swollen waters. One local friend seemed bothered that people he knew were treating it quite lightly; “perhaps we saw too much death in the war” he offered. The sad fact is this i

Wheel be stuck in snow then!

I've said a few times since moving to Bosnia and Herzegovina that I should be keeping a list of 'things I wish I'd paid more attention to in school'. Unsurprisingly, language lessons would be near the top of the list but, perhaps less obviously, vehicle mechanics would be right up there too. I don't remember if the local comprehensive I went to even offered such a GCSE but it would have been really handy if they did. I ability to make an informed guess about the possible outcomes of what was probably inadvisable activity might have soothed the nerves a bit on my latest auto-related adventure. It was Sunday afternoon and we were up on Jahorina, one of Sarajevo's Olympic mountains, with Rowan's parents and an old family friend. I was the driver and one of Novi Most's Volkswagen Transporters was our transport. When we came to move the vehicle from one part of the resort to another it quickly became apparent the driver's side rear wheel had locked up.

The Climb

This is not a picture of me executing some fine overhang-conquering free climb. I’m in the picture below, staring up into a dark dead-end. But I was climbing and, as my fingers, hands and arms testify as I type, this evening was an upper-body workout unlike any I’ve had in a while. A week or so back – which could mean anything up to a month ago! – a co-worker mentioned they had discovered a neighbour was involved in a new indoor climbing venture in Mostar. One thing led to another and a few of us went ago to check the venue out and ask about bring a group of young people along from Klub Novi Most. This seemed like the first request of its kind as the owners had to go away a work out what price they’d charge for a one-off group visit. Tonight, somewhere on the campus of Univerziteta Džemal Bijedić in Mostar, a dozen young people and youth leaders got to play at being monkeys! It was all good, relaxed fun, with no accidents or injuries. But it was the sort of fun that it sadly outlawed t

Me on The Economist on Facebook

If you happen to be my friend on Facebook you might have noticed I updated my status the other night to say I was off to read what The Economist had to say about social networking. Someone asked me what they said. I replied: nothing that I didn't know already. This post is intended to clarify what might be seen as both a sweeping and an arrogant statement! I'm typing from our computer room in Klub. Around me are teens and twenties online. They all live in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and represent a mix of the different ethnic and social backgrounds of the city's residents. There are all on Facebook. I don't just mean that they all have Facebook profiles, they are all on Facebook now. While the whole world of the internet is at their fingertips they have all chosen the same destination. Well done Mark Zuckerberg. The Economist says social networking dominance in Facebook's to lose. Experiences like mine help prove the point. It is an indicator of that all importa

The Snowy Mountain Section

I've never owned a games console but I've played a few. I remember a friend getting Sega Rally and the hours of driving that ensued. It was all high-speed fun and sliding round corners; clouds of dust or spraying snow flying in every direction depending on the terrain. The best bit was that when it all went horribly wrong the car magically reappeared, blinking, in the middle of the road, counting down three, two, one until you were off again. The part of the UK we lived in was not the sort of countryside that got to model for games like Sega Rally, at least not the roads I spent most of my time driving, although I did once get airborne, all be it microscopically so, accelerating hard down a bumpy bit of single track on the South Downs in our new Mini. To date my only other real-life Sega Rally moment had come driving a dirt track through the Joshua Tree forest on the our way to and from the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. Yes, I did get the hire car sideways at one point. No,

Scrap Metal and Malls

I was out for a walk earlier and took the opportunity to film this...