Category Archives: Travels

Churchill Museum within the Cabinet War Rooms

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Ever seeking more knowledge, some people say I am full of useless information, and my visit to the Churchill and Cabinet War Rooms in Central London, gave me the opportunity to learn more about one of the greatest leaders of British history, Winston Churchill (1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955).

The secret underground bunker which served as the Cabinet War Rooms in the Second World War, where the Chiefs of Staff and the Prime Minister worked continuously from 1939 to 1945.

Within the facilities, Winston Churchill, as well as other person holding high positions in the armed services, had his own bedroom, office and other amenities. There was a kitchen which catered for his eating requirements, and also a bedroom for his wife Clementine. To keep in touch with other world leaders but especially USA President Roosevelt, within Shefridges on Oxford Street, a special room called the Transatlantic Room was created, with a secure telephone/radio connection using a scrambler device called Sigsaly installed.

Cabinet war rooms

The Transmission Room in the Cabinet War Rooms, London

was 40 tons of equipment, shipped from the USA and installed in the basement of Shefridges on Oxford Street. Another Sigsaly was installed in the Pentagon in the USA, and it was said the scrambled signal generated was “almost” impenetrable. Having now learned of the secret decoding work by the British at Bletchley Park, I wonder if the Germans had broken Sigsaly.

Within the bunker of the Cabinet War Rooms, is a very large space which was partitioned off for use by various departments of the Chiefs of Staff and the War Cabinet during WWII, as since 2005 become the Churchill Museum.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace into the Spencer family on 30 November 1874, he came from a aristocratic family, his father being Lord Randolph Spencer-Churchill being the 7th Duke of Marlborough, his mother was an American.

Churchill was sent away to boarding schools, and had little contact with his parents despite his repeated requests for his mother to visit him. He was not a good student other than English and history, and his poor results could be attributed to him having dyslexia. Churchill also had a speech impediment, especially noticeable was his lisp, having difficulty pronouncing the letter “S” and, it has been said a stutter. All these problems did not deter Churchill, as he said, “My impediment is no hindrance“, and he became a great author and speech maker.

Despite having to take the entrance exam three times, he was accepted into the Royal Military Academy, better known as Sandhurst, to become an officer in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, using his family connections to be posted on active duties. It was from these campaigns that the public started to know him through his writings as a war correspondent, and writing his own books on the campaigns.

Throughout his life he was a world traveler, and in the military his campaigns to him to Cuba, India, Malakand (now Pakistan), Sudan and South Africa. He became First Lord of the Admiralty at the start of World War I.

His first try in politics in 1899 was in the English constituency of Oldham, where he stood for the seat to the British Parliament, and lost the vote. But, in the 1900 General Election he won his seat to Parliament in the same constituency of Oldham. In the 1906 General Election he had changed his political party from the Conservatives to the Liberals, and stood for the Manchester North West Constituency which again he won, only having the seat for two years, when he was elected as member of Parliament for Dundee. He became a high powered member of the Liberal Government, helping to pass many reforms.

During World War 1, Churchill again rejoined the military to fight, having the rank of Colonel in the Royal Scots Fusiliers but still being an MP (Member of Parliament).

In 1922 he lost his Dundee parliamentary seat, and despite standing for other constituencies, was not returned to Parliament until 1924 for Epping.

Throughout the following years, Churchill had many positions in the British Government, but also he feel out of favour sometimes, and had periods of obscurity. It was after the start of the Second World War, that Churchill again gained power being given the job of The First Lord of the Admiralty.

When the then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned due to the lack of confidence the county had in him in his handling of the outbreak of the war, Churchill was asked to become Prime Minister. 10 May 1940.

Throughout the Second World War, Churchill led the British nation with inspiration, his speeches were well thought out and rehearsed, that rallied the nation to fight on to the end. He formed good working relationships with other world leaders, Roosevelt, Truman, Stalin.

Some of Churchill’s greatest speeches contained now famous lines which rallied and inspired the embattled people of Britain and the world:-

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat“.
“….… we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

At the end of WWII, the British people voted Churchill’s Government out of power in the 1945 election, and he would lead the opposition party until the General Election of 1951,  he resigned in 1955.

All this history and more is on display in the Churchill Museum, along with his famous jump suits, his awards, his medals. They are displayed in such a way that it is as if one is having a personal tour. For example, his many famous speeches, which I have never appreciated before can be heard, by standing is one spot, the clever sound system delivers Churchill as if he is standing in front of you. You can sit and watch films and hear the commentary which hardly interferes with the other visitors.

Although as a young boy, not being old enough to have really experienced his leadership first hand, I remember vividly his State Funeral, not often given to commoners in the UK, after his death at the age of 90 on 24th January 1965. The whole nation stopped to view it on the TV’s. There, in the Churchill Museum were the same pictures, and I felt the emotion of the time once again, as tear welled up in my eyes.

Throughout his life Churchill wrote many books and articles. His speeches are orinspiring and are I have now found out, worth listening to for their content and construc
tion, In 1953 was award the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Here again there is a physical link back to the Bletchley Park in the 21 Century, for in one of the buildings is the Churchill Collect, a vast private collect of Churchill memorabilia. Winston Churchill visited Bletchley Park many time and said of the workers that they were :-

The geese that laid the golden eggs – but never cackled.”

A typical British Bank Holiday

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It was a typical British bank Holiday , a promise of great weather, which turned out to be quiet different.

Vanessa, my daughter, has moved down to the southern coastal city of Southampton in England, a place she has found to be full of interesting things to do, full of history, a place of surrounding beautiful countryside, near enough to many facilities and for her, work.

Knowing the traffic problems as people drive to the seaside and places of interest on Bank Holidays, I decided to let the train take the strain, and although an early start, the journey, with only one change at Clapham Junction, would only take two hours, much the same as driving, but at least I would be able to read the Sunday newspapers, and the fare would cost less than the petrol my car would use.

As the train pulled in at Clapham Junction, I spied an empty carriage, and I quickly found myself a window seat, and sat back to read the newspaper, only to be joined by a group of about 15 foreign people, I would presume to be Mexican as they were speaking Spanish but looked South American, and it was party-time for them.

They were shouting jokes from one end of the carriage to the other. most frustrating as I could not understand what they were saying. they were playing music, the songs again being in Spanish, and passing food around. I could feel myself becoming angry for disturbing my peace, invading my space, and had to change my state to remove them from my world.

I had been advised by my cousin, Glynis who lives in the area, to wear my shorts, as it would be good weather, but I decided to wear my slacks and take a jacket, and I was glad I did.

On arriving at the Southampton Airport railway station where Vanessa would pick me up in her little yellow car, it was drizzling. Where was the sunny weather Glynis?

What were we going to do?

I remember way back when Vanessa was a young girl, and I was allowed to see her on one of my trips back from working in Saudi Arabia, and i did what most divorced dad’s do when they have to entertain their children on the very rare access visits, I took her to London Zoo.

Oh how the tables have turned.

When I said, “what shall we do?Vanessa replied, “We could go to the zoo.

I suddenly had the image of me being the senile old man, that now the children have to take care of.

Oh Poo Poo.

But no, it was time to catch up, to talk over lunch at Nando’s, to pass-on family history over cups of coffee, to visit a small museum of the port of Southampton which included a display of the history of the RMS Titanic which left Southampton on its’ ill fated voyage to America.

 It was a time to give what I would call useless information, which I am full of, to Vanessa, like that the bronze statue of the Titanic’s captain, Captain Edward John Smith, which is in Beacon Park, a public park in Lichfield, Staffordshire. The story goes that Captain Smith’s home town of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, had the statue made, but refused to have it when he managed to sink the Titanic, and Lichfield was the only city to take it.

It was after the museum, we walked the short distance to the old docks where the Titanic would have sailed from, and it was alive with ships and ferries still using the facilities.

We watched as four massive cruise ships left for I hope warmer climates, because I was frozen, and this was an August holiday.

Typical British weather. 

Cunard Queen Victoria leaving Southampton

P&O Cruise Ship Aurora leaving Southampton

P&O Cruise Ship Ventura leaving Southampton

I thought my boat had come in

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Deserted back streets of Bologna, Italy.

Yesterday was the Italian festival of Ferragosto or Assumption Day, and as I wondered the streets of Bologna, visiting churches, admiring the buildings, the back streets, I reflected on this festival, of how friends were getting together, in their homes, the beaches, the mountains, any where other than the hot streets of Bologna, and how I was alone with my own thoughts.

Interior of Convento Padri Agostiniani, Bologna, Italy

I also noticed other people walking by themselves, and wondered why they were alone, what was going through their mind, and decided just to smile at people as they passed.

I was happy as I got a reaction, they smiled back.

I walked on, and what little Italian I know, I decided to use.

I gave a smile and said “Buongiorno” (good morning), and that also created a reaction, a reply of “Buongiorno“.

Perhaps I was raising the spirits of the others like me, walking the streets alone.

But that was as much as I conversed in italian, until I got to a gelateria, an ice cream parlour, seen on nearly every Italian street corner.

I love my gelato, my Italian ice cream. (see the articles on Jack Frost, Milano), and in the 35 degree heat, I decided on buying a cup.

Walking slowly down some of the 42 km of arched walkways, I savoured every spoonful, my mind concentrating on not missing one mouthful of the gelato, when two very beautiful young ladies overtook me, then stopped and turned back towards me, speaking in Italian.

Via Zamboni arches, Bologna, Italy

My heart jumped, two wonderful young Italian ladies, by boat had arrived.

Then my heart hit my shoes, I did not understand a word. My attempts at talking Italian gave a bewildered look on their faces, Non parle italiano, sono inglese“, (I don’t speak Italian, I am English).

With a shrug of their shoulders, they turned, and walked away, leaving me alone again, but happy with my gelato and my own thoughts.

Sometimes sad, sometimes astonishing, sometimes fun, sometimes hard work

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It has been a quick trip from Rimini in Italy, back to the UK, flying out the same day to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a few days of meetings and giving training, back to the UK for a couple of hours, to go to Milan to be part of the training team for an NLP Practitioner, then back to the UK.

Jet lag? 

There has been no time to get it. It is a matter of keeping state and not allowing it to happen.

The whole trip has been sometimes sad, sometimes astonishing, sometimes fun, sometimes hard work.

I was sad to leave yet another fantastic group of 60 participants in Milan starting their journey of learning NLP, having teaching them important aspects of NLP, anchoring, sub modalities, state control, including Antonio, plus other elements of the Practitioner course.

After handing over the course to Claudio Belotti, another NLP trainer I have worked with for many years, seeing him develop into a great, with Elena Martelli my translator, we headed for lunch at New York New York, a great restaurant near the Stazione Centrale.

My flight back to the UK was from Bologna, a wonderful city, which by Trenitalia Eurostar train, only one hour away. The UK is way behind Italy in the modernisation of their rail system, with the Italians laying a new track from northern Italy to the south via important cities, perhaps halving the journey time.

Previous journeys on Trenitalia had been a strange experience, having to travel first class standing. (click to read).Yesterdays journey did not fail to make me smile.

The Eurostar train glided out of Milan’s Stazione Centrale (the Central Railway Station) ten minutes late, with the lady train manager racing up and down the carriages shouting something in Italian into her hand phone. 

I must learn Italian one day.

Shortly after leaving the station the train came to a sudden stop, but soon started again, and continued its’ very high speed but smooth journey to Bologna, with Elena and myself sitting back in the laid back second class seats.

An announcement was made by the train manager in Italian about the journey, and she repeated it in very good English.

Then the restaurant car made and announcement, and I saw a smile cross Elana’s face, but being given in Italian, I could not share Elena’s hilarity.

The girl on the public address system repeated the announcement, again in good English.

She said that the restaurant car was in the center of the train, and then commenced to say, that first class travelers would be receiving complementary coffee, croissants, newspaper, water, the list went on and one what the first class travelers would be getting free of charge.

There was no mention of second class travelers.

It was as if she was saying, “you other lots of sub standard travelers, look what you are missing, you should have paid a little bit more, and you would have got all that too.”

A visitor on the 26th floor Villa Angsana, KL

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It was late afternoon sitting in the 26th floor Villa Angsana apartment in Kuala Lumpur, when it appeared to be a large piece of paper float past me in the strong breeze coming through the open French windows.

It soon became apparent that it was not a piece of paper but a moth, and a large one at that.

I had a mixture of shock, fear and amazement at the size a beauty of this moth.

It rested a while, then flew of again.

Lyssa zampa, a moth from Malaysia

Lyssa zampa
(Butler, 1869), from in the family Uraniidae (subfamily Uraniinae). It’s colour can vary gray to brown depending on the light. It is one of the largest moths in the Malaysian Peninsular, the largest being the Atlas Moth. The wingspan can be 100-160 mm., and flies from June to August depending on the location. Commonly found in primary forests or secondary growth.

My part of the skyline of Kuala Lumpur

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It is not that I am not doing anything here on the 26th floor of Angsana Villa’s. I can, on occasions, get a WIFI signal from a nearby apartment, or a mobile phone internet connection, allowing me access to the internet to answer emails, send messages, write proposals. I have a couple of books I wish to read and research, and I trust I am helping in a small way in caring for the sick people here even if it is moral support.

I have time to look over the vista of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, to reflect over our own mortality, of how short life is.

Kuala Lumpur's skyline with Petronas Twin Towers and Telecom Tower from Agnsana Villa
Kuala Lumpur’s skyline with Petronas Twin Towers and Telecom Tower from Agnsana Villa

I have time to observe the interaction of different personalities of a large family group, the dynamics, the power struggles, the strong characters competing with the weak, of those who only put an appearance once in a while but who try to influence the outcome with little or no background knowledge, and how that affects the state of those who are left to “run the show”.

I see loads of kindness, compassion, help and support, as people pull together to find resolve and peace. Each in their own way contributes to the whole.

Compromises have to be made as the situation changes from one minute to the next, and even if one person becomes upset by another’s decision, they soon come back into the group.

I now see group decisions, where people are coming together in the hours of need, listening to others points of view, facts are being presented in a meaningful way, as the core group discuss and decide the best outcome, the best strategy.

It is a good learning curve for me. I am in my small world on the 26th floor of Angsana Villa’s and I am just a speck, only a small part of the whole, a small part of the visa of Kuala Lumpur, but like us all, my contribution, now matter how small, adds to the group, the whole, the world.

I must act with integrity, compassion, trust and goodwill, with kindness of heart, to stand back and consider others feelings and points of view, and to put a positive outcome on what may come our way.

Villa Angsana Condominium swimming pool

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Here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it is a tough time as there are two gravely ill relatives, husband and wife, who cannot look after their basic needs, and as a result I find myself stuck in an apartment on the 26th floor in the Villa Angsana Condominiums, with no head for heights, offering what little help, encouragement and support I can. Today the husband will be taken to hospital for a CT scan, leaving me to be with the sister-in-law.

There is on the complex a swimming pool, in well maintained gardens, used by many of the residents in the complex of this multi cultural and religious country.

Villa Angsana, Kuala Lumpur, swimming pool  Villa Angsana, Kuala Lumpur, swimming pool
 Villa Angsana, Kuala Lumpur, swimming pool from 26th floor walkway and poolside.

Yesterday, two of the many nephews and nieces, and whose parents own apartments in the complex, well the father’s company constructed the condominiums, came across to visit and to take a swim in the pool.

Now me, uncle Phillip is always game for a laugh, and is roped-in to join them for the swim. I have no objection as I enjoy being in water, and it is a chance to cool down in the tropical heat and humidity.

I put on my red swimming shorts and a white short sleeved shirt, the nephew and niece each wearing a short sleeved swimming top and tight figure hugging swimming shorts.

We get down to the pool, and I am just about ready to dive into the pool, which already had a few teenager boys in their tight fitting swimming shorts and briefs, when a guard approached us and indicated that I could not go in the pool as I was wearing shorts.

But these are swimming shorts by Speedo, they are not baggy, or too tight, showing none of my manhood, in fact being very conservative, unlike the bulge enhancing swimming costumes usually seen on the beach or swimming pools, and as the ones being worn by the teenagers.

I then understood that it was not acceptable that I did not have any covering on my upper body, a tee shirt.

But hang on, what about the teenagers in the pool already, how about the man sitting in again tight fitting shorts at the side of the pool? They all have bare chests.

I can not understand that the day before I was swimming in the same way without comments, and now?

OK, I do not want to cause offence, cause distress, go against any religious beliefs, after all Malaysia is not my country, and I must respect others beliefs and culture. It is a shame that visitors and new residents to the UK do not respect the British way of life, culture, and demand to impose their beliefs and religion on the British.

So if my bare chest is a problem, I am happy to cover up, so I put my shirt on, and jump into the pool.

Now another guard turns up, senior to the first, as he is wearing a white shirt as against a blue one worn by the first guard, and also he has more badges. He is not happy that I am swimming in my white shirt. Me? I am happy as I will not get sunburnt like I did the previous week in Rimini, Italy.

So I take my shirt off, and nothing more is said, except the phones are hot to the relatives in the apartment on the 26th floor, that uncle is in the pool swimming in his shirt.

I am confused. Keeping calm, I try to work-out the logic, the reasoning behind what is happening. I can understand the need to keep standards, keep moral code especially in a family based complex, but a swimming pool is a swimming pool, what do people expect swimmers to wear?

Perhaps it is my missing six pack which has long since become a barrel, or my white skin which is really red from the sunburn, and or my white head of hair and beard contrasting against the blue tiles of the pool. Or perhaps it is that the residents management committee is holding their AGM near the pool, and the guard must be seen to be doing his job, upholding the rules.

Such is life.

Rimini Italy, to Malaysia

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Today I start the long journey to Malaysia via the UK, after finishing my training in Rimini in Italy.

It has been yet another wonderful experience working with the participants on the Society of NLP’s Master NLP Practitioner course.

I must thank the participants for all their hard work, and joy they gave me.

But now, I must start my journey to my next training, in Malaysia on Wednesday (see entry) with HR personnel with LexusNexus.

I have to go via Bologna, a wonderful city, to catch my flight to London, to arrive Monday afternoon, then take the evening flight to Malaysia, arriving Tuesday night.

I hope the flight will be smooth so I can get some sleep. Having been sun burnt on the beach here in Rimini, I think I will have a restless flight.

What a difference a day makes

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After my new experience of first class travel on the Italian TRENITALIA Eurostar to Rimini, and the thunderstorms on arrival, I have woken to a different day.

A near cloudless day, I look out over the sandy beach of Rimini, which is just a mass of sunshades, all segmented into regimented lines, of different colours, designating which hotel they belong to.

Early morning view of Rimini (Italy) beach from the Bellevue Hotel my balcony.

Although it is still only 8:30am, holiday makers and sun seekers are out and about, even some taking an early dip in the sea. Too early for me.

Now I need to get ready for the start of NLP Italy’s NLP Master Practitioner course, and stop using a free internet connection.

If you would like book Phillip Holt to deliver courses in your country, please contact him via the email on the left or CLICK here.

First class travel?

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These days I seem to be traveling most of the time, but today traveling from London to Rimini in Italy gave me a form of transport I have never traveled before.

Rather than take a taxi from my home to Gatwick Airport, I took a train, or two trains, and knowing how public transport is usually good, but on the odd occasion there is a delay or breakdown, I find it better to take an earlier train or bus than I would normally take just in case.

This meant that I had extra time to watch the world go by in the departures lounge. I would have preferred an extra hours sleep.

As there is no direct flight to Rimini from London, I took a flight to Bologna, (Italy), a beautiful city I have visited before and having some great statues and history. See previous entries.

From Bologna, I had to take a train to Rimini and as I waited on the platform it started raining. So much so for sunny weather.

I had to buy a ticket for this train when I arrived at the station, but was told it was full. But then I was told, I could travel first class, Standing.

How can you have first class standing?

OK, I could get to stand in the first class carriage, with those extra wide and comfortable seats. But I would be standing in my shoes. Are they first class? My socks are quite old now and wearing thin, so not all that comfortable unlike the armchair seats.

Still I was superior to the “ordinary passengers, the other side of the dividing glass door.

Arriving in Rimini with sore feet, it was still raining, and I had to wait for a taxi in the drip, drip, dripping of rain, along with four other people. After a long wait, a taxi arrived and the first person got in that and disappeared, leaving another two in front of me. Shortly later another taxi drove up and the next person got in, and beckoned by the taxi driver so did the second person, the he asked me to get in.

The last time this happened to me was in Cairo, when I got a taxi from the airport to my hotel. Along the way, the driver picked up other passengers, and dropped them off, making a fortune at my expense. He was not happy when I refused to give a tip.

My Rimini driver still charged each of us the standard charge for each of our individual journeys,even though we traveled together.

Once in my compact room, I looked out of my window with a balcony, to see a big thunderstorm forming.

Oh well, perhaps it will not be my chance to see all those bikinis on the beach just across the road.

Oh Poo Poo.