Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Travel advice

Thinking of going on holiday? Got something booked but need advice on the sights? Look no further than today’s blog. All your travel questions answered.

Danda on the Taj Mahal:
“Shite. Really, really disappointing. Right in the middle of nowhere.”

Danda on the Golden Temple in Amritsar:
“Fabulous. Great day out. Best place we went in India.”

Danda on Mumbai/Bombay:
“Second favourite place on my Indian Odyssey. And we won the Test Series.” (Cricket-speak, I’m guessing.)

Danda on going to a test match in Mumbai/Bombay:
“Indians really love their cricket. It’s more like a religion than a sport. It was noisier than the FA cup final. It was 40 degrees and the humidity was off the scale. Really really enjoyed it, especially as we drew the game to win the series.”

Danda on the pyramids:
“Best thing I’ve ever seen.”

Danda on going down into the pyramids:
“Nope! Wouldn’t go! It wasn’t cause I was frightened. It’s just that I… I’ll go tomorrow… Next time.”

Danda on the Caribbean:
“Fabulous beaches. Uh. What else can you say about the Caribbean? I wouldn’t recommend the cuisine. Unless you like chicken, rice and peas. Great cricket grounds! Fav island = Antigua. Lovely people.”

Danda on Rome:
“The Eternal City. Wonderful place. Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful. And Laura took me there for my birthday.”

Laura on the Philippines:
“Unbelievably idyllic. Gorgeous, like a brochure. Luscious, green, sunny, pale beaches. I think I’ll retire there one day.”

Danda on Florida:
“Best place in the world for a fun vacation.”

Danda on Niagara Falls:
“Awesome!”

Laura on Niagara Falls:
“I have photos of me looking grumpy there. Not any prevalent actual memories. Just some grumpy photos.”

Danda on Bangkok’s red light district:
*pulls a face* “Uh. Yeh. Alright for a laugh. Not very tempting but good for a laugh.”

Laura on Bangkok’s red light district:
“Where else in the world can you find clubs unashamedly blazoned with the name Superpussy?”

Danda on Amsterdam’s red light district:
“I was drinking at the time. Good place to go for a drink. But, like any red light district, you’ve got to go with the right people. People that are game for a laugh and aren’t easily offended.”

Danda on the Inca Trail:
“A beautiful experience. That’s all I can say.”

Laura on trekking the Great Wall of China:
“Epic. Jaw dropping scenery. I swear Mordor was based on this place. The Chinese are the friendliest people I’ve met.”

Danda on Paris:
“I’ve been ten times probably. Good place to take a bird. Specially if her name’s Laura.”

Danda on Germany:
“Wonderful place. Great people. Great country.”

Danda on the south of France:
“Wonderful, wonderful place. I love France. Cannes and Nice are fabulous places.”

Danda on Italy:
“La Dolce Vita.”

Danda on the Algarve:
“If the weather’s good, it’s a good place to go. Golf is prohibitively expensive!”

Danda on Sri Lanka:
“Really interesting place. And the hottest place I’ve ever been! And we won the Test Series.” (I think this is cricket-speak too.)

Danda on Spain:
“Love Spain. Love the Spanish way of life.”

Danda on London:
“Best city in the world by far. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a London cab driver.”

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A dream I had last night

I had a strangely long and obscure dream last night. It went like this.

My friends, Sophie and Jay, and I were in Australia. We were travelling and having an adventure type of holiday. I remember us going to a shopping arcade place which had those cloth bag things which are brightly coloured and part of the general attire of people who have recently returned from a gap year. At one end was really expensive stuff so we never went to that end.

Suddenly it was our last day and we had to get our flight home at 2.15pm. It was only a few hours off and I started to panic. Sophie and Jay didn’t seem too worried and next minute, we were doing that thing I’ve seen on TV, where you have suction pads on your hands and feet and you climb up the side of glass buildings. I had the hand bits and was climbing up and when I got to the top, Sophie and Jay were already there somehow.

When I started looking for the suction things to climb back down I couldn’t find the feet bits and I started to panic again because I thought we’d miss the flight. I really didn’t want to miss it because if we had to buy tickets to get the next flight it would cost at least £70 (!).

Somehow we were back down the side of the building and it was 1.15pm and we rushed back to the hostel where we were staying and asked the people at the desk there if it would be faster to go by train or taxi. They said taxi so I ran to the room to get my backpack. The other two already had theirs with them even though they hadn’t gone to get them. Such is the way of dreams ….

When I came back to the reception, Sophie and Jay weren’t there. They had gone for lunch somewhere. I panicked. I saw their bags but there was only an hour til the flight. I didn’t have time to wait for them! I ran outside, flagged down a passing taxi and jumped in.

I got to the airport with ten minutes to spare, yelling at them to hold the plane. I checked in and started to run to the gate but it was really just one big room with one gate. So I just stood there and one side of the building was glass so I saw a small plane come in and land on a grassy area right next to the building. The other passengers and I marvelled at its smallness. There were only about twelve seats.

We walked out to get onto the plane but suddenly there was a swampy bit we had to cross so we got wet up to our knees. I also realised that in my rush I had forgotten to check my bag in so hoped no-one would notice it.

As I got on and sat down and strapped, Soph and Jay were there too and Jay was pregnant. She had been pregnant the whole time, I think, but I had been unaware of it for some reason. And Sophie was saying to me, “I can’t believe you left us,” and I was going, “Well, I looked for you all over. If you two were going to be stranded in Australia, there was no point me being stranded there too, just for the sake of it.”

They seemed especially annoyed that I had left them with Jay being pregnant.

We were just strapping ourselves in and having this discussion when my alarm beeped and when I opened my eyes, I was genuinely surprised that I wasn’t on a plane.

Strange.

Analyse that, psychologists.

Hobbies and resolutions

The last week has been a good one for my new year’s resolutions. The travel agency I worked for in Namibia send two people over to a big travel show in the Exhibition Centre in Earl’s Court in London every February. I went to see them on Friday and Saturday and spent both days also working on their stand with them, talking to people about Namibia and Botswana and South Africa and Zambia and about when to take holidays and about whether to take anti malarials and how to travel around etc etc.

In amongst all of that, I managed to have a little chat with my old boss about my own planned trip, as per my new years resolution. The plan is as follows – a 14 day self-drive trip, seeing as much as possible, with a sprinkling of crazy fun here and there, eg, hot air balloon rides over the desert. It will have to be next year because of the following, which will happen this year.

Some friends are moving to Australia this summer so a trip to that side of the world is in order. Given that I dont often get over there, I’ll be making a stop in to see the little girls I sponsor through Plan International, in Vietnam and the Philippines, as I haven’t visited in years. This, then, covers the second of my new years resolutions, to plan a trip to Asia.

Next, I made a point to go up to the local butcher at the weekend and order a rabbit and asked him about which rabbit choice is more ethical, farmed or wild. We had a long discussion and I then ordered a rabbit, which I will pick up tomorrow. I also went up today and got two beef fillet steaks, which were amazingly soft and tender when I cooked them for dinner tonight. So that’s three new years resolutions dealt with.

Next, some fun. I got me an electric piano! Well, it’s not mine. Yet. I’m hiring it from the man in the music shop at the moment. I might decide I want to actually buy it from him at some point. I set it up immediately that I got home and got started on trying to learn How Deep Is Your Love by The Beegees.

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It is tons of fun! Even Danda, who had been unsure about the whole idea until I kind of forced it on him, took a seat and gave You Are My Sunshine a go. He has the first two lines memorised. It falls apart after that.

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All in all, a fabulous few days. Bring on the holidays and the rabbits!

Distraction techniques!

When travelling, I often used (what to thought to be) a clever technique for distracting potential burglars. I would be using a big backpack and worried that someone might easily zip it open so I put, all the way around in a line, some *ahem* lady things. You know. So that it would be the first thing someone saw when they opened the bag. Hopefully they would be male and horrified by this sight and rapidly rethink his plan to steal from me.

That was the plan. I’ve never been stolen from while travelling but I’m not sure whether it was my clever distraction technique or luck.

Anyway, this one time, my friend and I were off backpacking around South East Asia for five weeks but we had different flights. He had had a stopover in Sri Lanka, been wined and dined and a beautiful hotel, swum in their beautiful pool and had a little nap. I, however, was changing in Kuwait and had a long eight hours in Kuwait Airport, with lots of massive duty free shops selling Toblerones and alcohol, neither of which I wanted.

For some reason, although I definitely wasn’t keen on staying in Kuwait longer than necessary, the announcement for my connecting flight wasn’t being made in the area I was sitting in. So I realised a bit late and had to make a dash for it. As I was running, I heard the announcements that they were waiting for one more passenger to board. That was me!

Desperately embarrassed, I arrived at the gate, panting and sweating and a stern faced lady said they were just about to close the gate and I had held everything up. I apologised profusely and handed over my backpack for her to search.

She zipped it open at double speed, her face a picture of grumpiness….

And all my *ahem* lady things spilled out all over her little desk.

She looked at me like she hated me.

I did a nervous little laugh and vaguely tried to explain how I did it to deter thieves.

“Well maybe you should have repacked it when you knew you were getting it searched,” she said, very very unamused….

Woops.

More awards. More of my nonsense.

Ok, it is time. Now that all the holidays and fancy lunches have died down, I am going to address the Liebster Award I was given by iamkaturah, who’s blog Internets Can’t Handle Moi, is a fabulous read. She’s young and witty and her blog contains a healthy amount of tongue-in-cheek.

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(This is the first time I’ve ever worked out how to put a banner for an award up, very exciting! Apparently you just copy and paste…..)

The rules are that I answer the 11 questions posed to me. Then I nominate 11 other blogs and pose 11 questions to them.

1. If you were money, where would you most want to be spent?
I would most want to be spent on some amazing food. I would feel well spent then. Something unusual and very tasty. Some lovely truffle oil, maybe.

2. What is the most important quality in a friend?
Calmness. I’m not into the whole friends-with-drama scene. I like a calm life. My brain doesn’t operate well with drama. People who are into the dramatic thing, having awful boy/girlfriends, staying in jobs they hate etc. Then moaning about it. It’s irritating. I’m outta there!

3. What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
Chill out. Mind you, I like looking back on the anxiety-fraught bad decisions of my teenage years. I would tell me to stop worrying about small stuff because I move to Africa when I leave school and things start to make sense. Life starts happening.

4. What did you think about life when you were 16 compared to now?
I don’t think I really thought about ‘life’,  as a concept. I just went to school, went to work, went to clubs. Now I think life is about finding things you like doing and trying to do them as often as possible. And it’s about finding people you like and spending as much time with them as possible.

5. Chocolate or lollies? Why?
I think chocolate. Because there is a little specialist chocolate shop near where I live and their stuff takes A LOT of beating.

6. Would you rather be a man who looked like a lady or a lady who looked like a man?
Man who looked like a lady.

7. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
It’s a toss up between The Great Gatsby and Tender Is The Night by Fitzgerald, The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd and Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeta Naslund.

8. What is 27 x 16? ( Don’t use a calculator!)
Well, 20 x 10 is 2000. And 20 x 6 is 120. So 20 x 16 is 2120. Now 7 x 10 is 70 and 7 x 6 is 42. So 7 x 16 is 112. So, technically, 27 x 16 should be 2232…. Did I get it right?

9. What is your favourite thing to cook?
Italian food. O, and banana bread.

10. If you could invent anything, what would it be?
A way to insert more hours into a day but without getting tired.

11. Why do you blog?
Because I like it. (See question 4)

So next up, my nominations are as follows:

1. Maggie of SomeoneFatHappened. Yet again. Because she said I can clean her yard for chocolate cereal bars. Four boxes of them.

2. My Little Italian Kitchen. What’s not to love? The clue’s in the title. This blog is one of my favourite recent discoveries.

3. Read Stuff With Me – this blog covers anything and everything and, predictably, is a space which encourages reading, which is a very admirable pursuit, I’d say.

4. Barcelona Street Scraps – Great photos. I love taking time out of my day to browse around the posts on this blog.

5. Reflections of a Book Addict – if nothing else, this is for recently reviewing a book I’ve been wondering about for ages and helping me make up my mind!

6. CyclingEurope.org – a great blog about all things bike-y. His book, Good Vibrations, about cycling to Italy was an obvious winner with me (I’m into all things Italy since my trip to Rome).

7. Fitness and Frozen Grapes, again. The great pictures of food, the impending move to the Big Apple, the Downton Abbey love. It’s all going on in this blog.

8. Little Commas – Because everything in this blog is beautiful. Everything. It’s all very very beautiful. Fact.

9. The Usual Bliss – Her Bliss Bits posts are lovely, that’s why. That’s not the whole reason, but it’s a large part of it.

10. The Idiot Speaketh – Because I think he needs cheering up after his wife gave him an old M&M as a congratulations….

11. Canadian Hiking Photography – This blog was a recent find and the photos are stunning. Check them out.

And my 11 questions are:

1. You go to the fridge and all you find are some garlic bulbs, celery sticks, marmalade, an aubergine, double cream and chilli chocolate. What do you make?

2. What is your favourite part of the day?

3. You can only listen to one song for the rest of your life. Which one is it?

4. How do you feel about Paulo Coelho?

5. How many of the wonders of the world have you seen?

6. What is your favourite place in the world?

7. How long do you stick with a book you’re not enjoying before you give up? Do you give up?

8. Do you think Kylie Minogue should make a comeback?

9. I’d like some good life advice. Do you have any?

10. I’m thinking of taking a minibreak for my next birthday. Any ideas?

11. Zombie films… Love or hate?

A dedication to my childhood friend

My favourite friend when I was a little girl at school had blond hair, like me. She was a little bit short, like me. And we were always together. People used to mix us up.

One time we swapped shoes for fun at breaktime and forgot to swap them back. Our parents were quite annoyed at us when we went home with the wrong shoes on.

We used to play with two dinosaur shaped erasers, one blue and one green. The game we played consisted of us burying the dinosaurs at break time then coming back at lunch time and digging them up. It was a pretty good game, if I remember rightly. We were about six years old and inseparable.

When we were about nine or ten, my favourite friend said she was moving away. They were moving Wales, which was the other side of the world for all I knew! I now know that it was essentially just down the road, a few hours at most. But then, it was the most far away place I could imagine. I was pretty gutted.

A few years of letter-writing later and we planned a visit. My mum drove a friend and I to her house and we stayed overnight. It was hilarious. We ‘made’ a Ouija board and made out we were terrified of looking in the mirror at midnight. We giggled and pulled our stuff into the front room, away from the mirrors, to sleep.

A few years later, my friend came to Liverpool to stay over. Another friend was there too and we had great fun. The next visit was a few years later, when my friend came to look at the university in Liverpool on an open day.

Then I left for Africa and lost contact with most people. I then went to university in Glasgow for a bit and one day, I decided to try texting her old phone number. She was still using it! Amazing! A bit of catch up and lunch in Liverpool next time I was back re-established the friendship.

Next thing I knew, I was back and forth travelling quite a bit before settling into a different course in London and we start emailing again. She’s in Thailand, teaching! Perfect. I had just started sponsoring a little girl in Viet Nam and was really keen to visit her. So I planned a trip to see my little sponsor girl in Viet Nam and my friend in Thailand. It was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. It was such fun.

The next year, after she had returned to England, I went back to Asia with a friend and she came for two weeks of our trip. That was in 2007. She moved to Hungary for a few years next.

I don’t think we’ve seen each other since then. We’ve been friends a long time now. Over twenty years. I don’t think I’ve known anyone (excluding family) for that long!

And then, a few months ago, my friend Facebooked. She had a place on a postgraduate course at my old university, down the road!

This is very exciting. For a whole year, my childhood best friend will be living down the road, instead of across the world.

Tonight, she is coming for dinner. I am preparing a feast. When I get excited, I cook. I hope I don’t burn everything now, in a frenzy of excitement and forgetfulness.

Can I have a word? Part 4

Our regular guest blogger tackles the subject of ‘Portmanteau Words’ today.

It’s back to that subject of words and, in this case, some very special words. As you’re probably aware English is a kind of “made up” or mongrel type of language. The purity of whatever language the inhabitants of our island spoke has been watered down (improved?) over the centuries in a number of ways. It’s become a mixture of so many words that have come to us from other cultures and languages around the world. Since the Romans invaded brining their Latin words, more influences have come in from a number of other conquerors: Danes, Vikings, Angles, Saxons, Normans have all been responsible for changes in our language (and place names in particular) over hundreds of years. Immigration has provided more foreign flavours to the mix. Other words have come from the days of the British Empire and the countries it traded with. Some words we’ve taken in without modification (e.g. précis & fiancée from French, apartheid & trek from Afrikaans, ashram from Sanskrit and hundreds more); others have a kind of anglicised version but betray foreign roots. It’s estimated, for example, that 30% of English words have a French origin & 60% have a Latin origin; some duplication because of the Latin origin of some French words. A recent arrival into English (late 19th cent.) is the word safari which comes directly from Swahili where it means “long journey”; more recently Wiki (as in Wikipedia) from the Hawaiian “wiki wiki” meaning fast; Baboushka (also a 1980 song by Kate Bush) from the Russian for grandmother and Gulag which is actually an acronym in Russian for Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey i koloniimoped from the Swedish and short for motor and pedal. And there are, of course, hundreds more.

One of the things you might not have realised is that a word like moped is actually called a “portmanteau” word because it is made up of two other words or shortened versions of them. In fact, if you think about it, the French word porte-manteau is itself made up from two other French words: “porter” (meaning to carry) and “manteau” (meaning cloak). Apparently it was first used, in the context of joined words, by Lewis Carroll in 1871 (Alice Through the Looking Glass). Remember Freedom Literature, when I quoted, from Jabberwocky, these words “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, Did gyre and gimble in the wabe” – I wonder did you know that “slithy” means lithe & slimy? LC was also responsible for the following portmanteaux: chortled a combination of chuckled & snort; frabjous for fair, fabulous & joyous; mimsy for flimsy & miserable. In 1964, when the country of Tanganika joined with the islands of Zanzibar the new nation was called Tanzania, a portmanteau of the two original names; similarly when Europe and Asia are combined to describe the whole land mass they become the portmanteau Eurasia. If you look back to LLM’s blog, Z is for, you will see the word zonkey – a portmanteau of zebra & donkey; also there is a zorse, a zebra/horse crossbreed and her very own, but rather difficult to conceive (think about it), catterpony. LLM’s blog, Attempting ‘sporty‘, mentioned having started NaNoWriMo which looks very “portmanteau-ish” to me. There was the interesting quidnunc from the K is for knowledge blog: that’s actually a Latin portmanteau taken directly into English. There are, of course, many others along these lines. (Btw, the French though, in their own language, don’t use the word porte-manteau this ‘joined-up words’ way).

Older residents of the UK will remember ‘O level’ exams called G.C.E.s; later came the exams for those not as academically clever – they called them C.S.E.s. Then in the rush to get everyone “on a level playing field” both exams went in the dustbin and the first portmanteau exams arrived in 1988 – the G.C.S.E.s

Probably one of the most recent – anyone heard of a turducken? (Not me!) It apparently arrived into the English language officially in 2010. It’s made by inserting a chicken into a duck, and then into a turkey. (Why would you do that?).

One of the most useless portmanteaux has to be guesstimate – it simply doesn’t help. When would you use it instead of estimate or guess both of which do the job of saying something or some figure is not exact? If you can help me out – please do.
As an aside, I suppose you could call this whole process LLW – lazylanguagewords. Why? Because it means the language (i.e. me & you) doesn’t have to come up with an original new word as such. You need a new word? Just grab a few existing ones and with a bit of welding & a few twiddles – hey presto! (You want to drive and travel – you dravel or drivel.)

The more you look into our language the more examples you can see. It got me thinking about how economical these words are: as I mentioned before, instead of saying something “is a cross between a zebra and a donkey” you just say “it’s a zonkey” – neat eh? Now I think we could use some more of these to save space and time when either speaking or writing. What next? ………Yes, you’ve guessed, I’ve been working on a few.

I was thinking of transport and how easy it would be to describe your journey with some new portmanteau words. Take this sentence for example (when you arrive at a friend’s house and they ask how you did you get here?) – “I came by bus, train and taxi.” This can be “portmanteau-ed” (see how I made a noun/adjective into a verb there?) into “I came bybutratax”. Do you see what I did there? A triple portmanteau! But it’s also very adaptable because if the journey was by train, bus & taxi it becomes trabutax. Switch it round for any combo of the words. If you wanted to include the walk to the bus stop (so walk, bus, train, taxi) you could make wabutratax (a quad portmanteau). If you’re a cyclist and you ride then travel on the train and ride again you could make bitrabi and so on. If you’re going abroad you could add the flight by plane into the mix – so taxi, plane, taxi would be taxplatax.

Now you may want to say how each leg of the journey went: good, bad, rough or whatever. I’ve had some thoughts on this too. So, for example, “I came by trabutax and the journey was gobaro. Did you get it? The journey was good, bad & rough on each of the corresponding legs by train, bus & taxi. If all three legs were good or bad you’d getgogogo or bababa.

Suppose someone serves in a café (or deli) and a customer could ask for alatchesanchoca which is a latte, cheese sandwich & chocolate cake. (Imaginary scenario: Customer to LLM – Can I have a latchesanchoca without the sandwich? LLM grits teeth & thinks: “But then it’s not a latchesanchoca!”) When four friends, each wanting a different drink, come in they could ask for an escaplatam – you got it didn’t you? An espresso, a cappuccino, a latte & an Americano. (Eseseslat = three espressos and a latte and so on.) Easy eh? Imagine the questions you’d get if those were on the menu on the wall: what’s that? Why is an escaplatam so expensive? Are they all mixed together in one cup? Are they definitely all separate? We’re definitely in LLM nightmare territory here? Where was that café again? …..Oh yes, ELM St!

Now, strictly speaking of course, the grammar-savvy among you will know that these words of mine are actually neologisms (that is words that may be in the process of entering common use) rather than actual portmanteaux (plural as per French not portmanteaus as would be in English) because they haven’t actually entered the language yet. (Therefore, to be precise, you can say that I’m making some speculative forays into the world of neologisms rather than inventing actual portmanteaux.) However just as it’s a fine line between genius and madness so it’s also a fine line between neologism and portmanteau! A definitely blurred, but possible, final frontier between invention and reality.

I wonder if you’ve thought of portmanteaux as a kind of ‘final frontier’? Out there on the edge? Are you ready to boldly go where no blogger (linguist?) has gone before? Such an ‘enterprise’ would be quite a trek wouldn’t it? Lots of stuff to Chekov the list and some old stuff to Klingon to. Also you’d need to make sure with the doctor that your “bones” are the real McCoy. Still, no space to go into all that here. (See what I did there?) Remember, as Captain Jean-Luc Picard said to his daughter, “Seize the time, Meribor. Live now; makenow always the most precious time. Now will never come again” — (from the episode calledThe Inner Light). I’m just off to scan those transport suggestions again – “beam me up, Scotty!” (To the Starship Bloggerprise – of course).

But you can see how the language could develop? It’s exciting isn’t it? (Perhaps LLM could revisit her “Things to get excited about” mood before becoming too sporty? New items on menu in café perhaps?) And it’s happening right here! And you read it first here!

Now it’s over to you – perhaps you could have a think and post some of your suggestions in the comments. It would be great to see some readers’ inventions. I’m sure you can come up with some better efforts than mine. (I can speak to Messrs Chambers, Oxford, & Collins once we’ve collected our suggestions.) Let’s get on board the E.S.S. Bloggerpriseand take our language forward to that final frontier– together! (This entry – using the most recent calculation method – is from the Captain’s Log: Stardate 2012.178)