Posts Tagged ‘walk’

Lemons and ice cream on Capri

Yesterday started well. We rose early, repacked our already stuffed suitcases and jumped in a taxi to Gatwick. As we had already checked in online, we just went to give our bags in and headed through security. The flight was quick and fuss-free (read: I slept through it) and we had landed in Napoli before I could say ‘truffles’.

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Danda, ever the efficient man-on-board, said lots of words to me about buses and ports and things while I nodded politely and looked around squinting my eyes and pretending to help when really I didn’t know what I was looking for.

We found our way onto a bus to the port and purchased tickets to Capri. The boat was leaving in half an hour so we were on it before we had time to get bored. After a 40 minute boat ride across the Bay of Naples, we reached Capri, a mountainous island, looming out of the sea and rising up to meet the clouds.

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Danda came to life again leading us to the ticket booth for the funicular, the train up to the main town. Tickets purchased, we waited a few minutes for the next train. It’s not really a train as such. It’s a cable car that runs up the side of the (extremely steep) mountain and gives you your first glimpse of Capri life.

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Lemons trees are in every direction, the sea is the backdrop to everything and houses are positioned on the edges of the impossibly steep slopes. Despite the plane-bus-boat-train combo, which had taken about six hours, we felt refreshed by Capri, as soon as we arrived.

We found our hotel, the Hotel della Piccola Marina, easily enough, a short walk away from the main square and designer-shop-lined streets but far enough away that it felt quite and relaxed. When we walked into the hotel, we knew we had picked a winner. The receptionist was friendly, chilled out and welcoming, like we were old friends come to visit him at home. He looked comfortable and easy as he walked around, showing us the hotel and our room.

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(The decor is refined and relaxed)

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That sums up Capri pretty well actually, comfortable and easy. There are very few people about as it is not the tourist season. The shop assistants and restaurant owners do not shout out in the street, trying to attract you in. They sit, working on their ceramics or paintings or jewellery, and you are left to wander in and out of them as you please. On the one hand, this could be seen as unwelcoming or aloof. On the other, it is fabulous because you can potter at your own pace, stopping here, looking there, having an espresso as you wish.
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It’s like the islanders know that visitors are here to do nothing so they leave them to move to their own rhythm.

And we loved it immediately. The views from the balcony promised much for our afternoon so we put on walking shoes and got exploring. And we walked and walked and walked! Up this road, down that one, round this corner, down this path.

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We found the Roman Emperor Augustus’ garden….

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…and had a lemon ice drink from the hugest lemons known to man…

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We also found a huge tower of flowers and so photographed me next to them. Look.

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We then returned to change before heading out to dinner, which wasn’t that photogenic but tasted great. I had the veal escalope with marsala sauce and potato and parmesan croquettes in a restaurant patronised by the celebrity elite.
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Every place worth its salt has a fair few of these pictures. Anne Hathaway, J-Lo, Rod Stewart, Ingrid Bergman, Elton John…. Capri is the land of the rich and the famous, of the moneyed classes, of those who can afford the singular luxury offered in the fashion boutiques and the unique perfume shops, offering fragrances made in small batches on the island to methods used by 13th century monks.

And we like it. We’re thinking of doing a Graham Greene and moving here. Anyone got any money we can borrow?

We finished the evening by finding an icecream vendor near the main square and got a little something to sustain us for the walk back to the hotel.

O is for…

I’m handing over to my regular guest blogger today for O. here goes. Enjoy it…

 

O!

 

The title might seem a bit strange since all the other letters so far have referred at least to a word or phrase.

Some of you might remember a post from 2.1.13 called Toponymy where I told you about the furthest points north, south, east & west in mainland Britain. The info came largely from a really interesting present I was given at Christmas – A Dictionary of British Place Names (A.D. Mills). For this week I’ve decided to return to it and have a look at some of the entries under the letter “O”.

First entry in the “O” section is Oadby (appears as Oldebi in the Domesday Book of 1086). The “-by” ending means village or farmstead and the first part is the English version of the Scandinavian name Authi.

Another one is not exactly a place but it gets an entry because of its geographical and historical significance – Offa’s Dyke. It was a rampart forming the boundary separating England & Wales. As you may know Offa was the ancient king of an area called Mercia during the latter half of the 8th century AD. He was quite an aggressive king conquering large areas of central England and finally Wales. He built the 150 mile long Dyke to stop the Welsh sending raiding parties into English (=’his’) territory. Mercia was a large kingdom occupying the Midlands area of England: its southern border was with the West Saxons (just east of Bristol area) and East Saxons (a much smaller kingdom north of the Thames and south of the area inhabited by the East Anglian peoples). Mercia’s northern boundary appears to have been at least as far as a horizontal line through Liverpool but may have extended much further up before meeting the southern boundary of the kingdom of Northumbria (today the NE of England).

There is a 177 mile footpath you can walk if you fancy it that follows the line of the original dyke. Lonely Planet have nominated the dyke as one of the must see sites for 2013. It has also been listed in the top ten great wall walks “in the world”. (The rest can be seen here: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/themes/best-in-travel-2013/the-worlds-greatest-wall-walks/ )

Those of you who know your history will remember that the area of North Wales is very probably where King Arthur’s ancient kingdom (5th/6th century) of Avalon was located. The locations of many of the stories about Arthur can be traced to places in the North Wales area. One of the books I’m reading at the moment is called The Keys To Avalon (Steve Blake, Scott Lloyd) and it does a fantastic job of debunking many of the claims about King Arthur (father Uthyr Pendragon, mother Eigyr) being related to areas in the south of England around Glastonbury and even as far north as Scotland. They do it simply by returning to the original Welsh source documents used by the early writers and showing how misinterpretations of some words have caused misleading info to bed itself into major historical works. It also shows how political manoeuvring in some cases and straightforward commercialism in others contributed to some areas or places being claimed as the “real” locations of parts of the Arthurian story. It’s a good read but you’ll need perseverance to keep going through some of the necessary but difficult sections of Welsh etymology.

I was surprised to read the entry just a bit further on – that of Ogbourne Maizey. It had an entry in the Domesday Book as Ocheburn (stream of a man called Occa) and later as Ocheburn Meysey. This latter name comes from the family name de Meysey. It is first mentioned in records just after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and has a variety of spellings: Meysey, Meysy, Maisie, Maysey & lastly Maisey. It is first recorded in Gloucestershire having been given Lordships of the manors of Hampton Meysey & Marston Meysey by the Conqueror himself. Tradition says that the de Meysey family came over with William the Conqueror. It appears to have come from Brittainy (or possibly Normandy). The family does have a crest & coat of arms so it seems LLM may have some very important ancestors. However treat this information carefully as it could be seen that your family displaced existing lords of the area of their homes and lands simply because of its connections to the conquering nation which gave grants of land to its own people. I’m wondering at this point, as LLM has just done a volunteer stint at a massive country house estate (Ham House), whether she is actually subconsciously returning to her thousand-year old ancestral roots. Something in her genes might be saying: “I belong here!” Hmmm… I wonder how long before we will have to address her as “Milady”?

Next is Old Wives Lees; this has to be one of the most unusual village names. Originally called Oldwoods Lees no-one seems to know how it became corrupted into its present form. The highest point in the village is called ‘The Mount’ and this area was used in the film Last Orders (2000) starring Michael Caine & Bob Hoskins. The Pilgrims’ Way – a 132 mile footpath from Winchester (Hampshire) to Canterbury (Kent) – passes close by and was used by those going to the Canterbury shrine of Thomas à Beckett (Archbishop of Canterbury 1162-1170 who was murdered by supporters of Henry II).

Oswestry (Shropshire) means ‘Tree of a man named Oswald’ and I suppose you can see how easily, over many years, you get from Oswald’s Tree to Oswestry. There is a possible connection to St Oswald who was king of Northumbria in about the 7th century although it is clearly in Mercian held territory (see Offa’s Dyke para above).

Odd as it may seem there are 3 places in England called simply Over: one in Cambridgeshire, one in Cheshire, one on Gloucestershire.

Next a couple from across the Irish Sea: Owenavorragh (in county Wexford) meaning “river liable to flood” and Owendalulleegh (in Galway) meaning “river of two milch cows”. At first sight you might be tempted to think they have Welsh connections because the start of both is “Owen” but the etymology splits the names after the first two letters. “Ow” meaning river.

Final entry in the “O” section is Ozleworth meaning ‘Enclosure of a man called Osla’ or surprisingly ‘enclosure frequented by blackbirds’.

And there you have it a brief survey of some interesting places beginning with “O”.

A lovely day out

Yesterday, I took a cheeky jaunt up north to spend the day with family. The weather held up ok and didn’t rain until much later in the day, when we were safely hidden indoors, sipping cups of tea.

Mid-morning, we set out for a mini adventure to Frodsham Hill. Despite taking a wrong turn early on and coming out at the top in a different place than we expected to, it was lovely all the same and the sun shone bright, although it was cold.

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Midway up, I realised that I was really panting with all the stair climbing! Hard to believe I once trekked the Great Wall of China… True story.

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When we got to the top there was a lovely wide view of the surrounding area. With large flat areas, it’s hard to make it look good on a photo but anyway, here’s the view.

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Soon after this, we reached the WW1 memorial….

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…which is next door to a lovely hotel, positioned on the top of the hill so that, if you get a seat by the window, you can have lunch with the beautiful view. We had planned to have lunch there yesterday but they have a no-lunches-at-the-weekend rule so we wandered back down the hill via the roads and found a nice little country pub serving food (I was upset by their lack of apostrophes though).

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After waiting quite a while for the food to arrive, I got the breaded duck’s egg with pancetta…

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….and the Thai crab cakes with lime

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After this, we headed back to the car, again making a slight directional error which took us off down a different road and we came out quite far from where we needed to be but it was nice to be outside walking so we didn’t mind.

Also, we found a place called Castle Park, a National Lottery funded thing which had, amongst other things, a children’s art centre. We found some of this new ‘graffiti’ knitting stuff too. Has anyone else heard of this?

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People knit colourful strips then put them around things, like here on a post or maybe a bollard, to brighten the place up! It officially counts as graffiti but as it’s quite pretty, the police are ‘overlooking’ it for now. I kind of want to get into this!

After all this, we drove back, put the kettle on and settled in for an evening of Grand Designs Australia, which was actually quite interesting, before I jumped on the train to London.

London trip (Part 1)

Good morning all. It’s over to my guest blogger today for a little tour of some of London’s little-known hotspots…

 

After my visit to Bletchley Park I drove further south and stayed overnight in London. Next day a relative had organised a walk round some of the lesser known parts (and some of the more well-known). We headed by tube to Blackfriars and began walking from there. The origin of name Blackfriars itself goes back to the 14th cent. It comes from the black cappa worn by Dominican Friars and the Friars part comes from the French word frères meaning brothers. Close by we saw this very unusually named church:

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Now if you’re wondering how a parish church can get a name like St Andrew By-The-Wardrobe I can tell you it goes way back in history to 1170. However the “wardrobe” bit of the name did not come about till 1361. Apparently Edward III (1312-77, reigned 1327-1377) moved his royal wardrobe (included, arms, clothing & personal stuff) to somewhere just near the site of the church and so that’s how it got its current name because it was near (or “by”) the king’s wardrobe.

 

Next we came to the College Of Arms. Now this is nothing to do with weapons. It’s all about coats of arms. It’s the place which oversees the granting of various heraldic symbols, shields & town crests used by various councils and individual families across England, Wales & N.Ireland. If you want your family to have its own crest or coat of arms it’s to them you have to apply. (It’s not cheap by the way!). Here’s the entrance:

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You can just see the name above the shield over the centre window. It was founded by Richard III in 1484. (His remains, as you may have seen in the news recently, have just been found in Leicester buried under a car park!). Although a royal corporation, with heralds appointed by the British sovereign, they are self-financing and receive no state funding.

Now if you or I decided to make up and use our own coat of arms or indeed someone else’s without their permission we could be brought into the courtroom at the College of Arms. Here’s the pic.
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This is where you would be tried for your crime of using an unauthorised coat of arms or misusing someone else’s.

 

Next stop was The Monument. It’s only ever called that and most people know it only by that name. Many people don’t know what it’s a monument to; I also didn’t. It was designed by Christopher Wren & Thomas Hooke and commemorates The Great Fire Of London (1666); it was built 1671-77. Interesting things about it: it is 202ft (62m) tall and lies 202ft from the place where the fire started in Pudding Lane; it is the tallest single stone column in the world; there are 311 steps to the top. As we arrived we saw a queue waiting to go up to the top. However the wait wasn’t too bad and soon we were paying our entrance fee and climbing the spiral stone staircase. I tried to keep count so I knew how far there was to go; I ended up at 314 so not too bad in that I only miscounted by 3 (less than 1% error!). It was pretty full at the top and we could only just about move. They were letting too many people in and not balancing it with those coming out. However it was a great view from the top. Apparently it was used by a number of people for committing suicide by jumping off the top so the area is now fenced in.

 

From there next stop was a church called St Magnus the Martyr. It’s interesting because it stands at what became the start of the (very) old original London Bridge. The church was cut back and an arch built so that horses and carriages could get onto the bridge. Here’s the arch

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And the sign nearby

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The original bridge as you will know had many buildings on it – houses, shops etc. Selling them was how they financed the building costs. In the church they have a model about 5-6 feet long showing just how many buildings were crammed onto the bridge.

 

On the way to St Paul’s Cathedral we went past a statue (bust) of John Donne (1572-1631): poet, satirist, lawyer and cleric in the Church of England.
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He is famous of course for a number of poems but perhaps his best known lines are No Man Is An Island & For Whom The Bell Tolls. As I looked at the statue I thought that probably Paul Simon would disagree with the sentiment in the first as his song I Am A Rock (from the album Sounds Of Silence released 1966 although the song began life a year or two earlier) says he’s built walls that make a fortress deep and mighty that none may penetrate; also that he has no need of friendship because friendship causes pain. Van Morrison fans – yes I am one – will know there is a tribute to the man on his album Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart and the track Rave On John Donne. (The song also references Walt Whitman, Omar Khayyam & WB Yeats.)

 

Then we passed a sign reminding us how the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) started – no not in 1978 with The Village People! In 1844 George Williams and eleven others began it in the drapery house where GW lived and worked. The closing words on the plaque are: From its beginning in this place, inspired of God, the association grew to encompass the world.

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And how about this place?

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The name comes from the nearby GPO (General Post Office) Headquarters.

In 1900 the park became the site of the Memorial To Heroic Self Sacrifice (by George Frederick Watts). Basically it is a memorial to ordinary people who died saving the lives of others. Here are a couple of examples of the sort of acts commemorated

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That seems a good place to take a break – with people whose only thought in that moment of incredible danger was for the person in the danger and not themselves; and their actions, whilst saving that person, actually ended up costing them their own life in the process.

 

I will do part 2 next week.

An afternoon of distraction and Pi

Yesterday, whilst heading out of the house, earphones in and audiobook playing, I had plans to go for a long walk as I was at a good bit in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I’d get an hour or two of listening in and it would be great. I also really love walking when it’s cold. I love the crispness of the fresh air and how the river looks in the bright sunshine. I had a fabulous afternoon ahead.

Then Danda called, five minutes into my walk.

“Do you fancy going to see a film?” he asked.

“Alright,” said I, my dedication to my original plan immediately disappeared. “Life of Pi is on and someone told me it’s really good.”

As we approached the cinema and were asked for the small fee of a million pounds (or thereabouts) for the pleasure of seeing the film, Danda said…..

“So the film probably won’t be that interesting. The Life of Pi? It’s simple, isn’t it? You make it, you put it in the oven, you bake it, you take it out, you eat it.”

Ah Danda, ever the witty one.

And actually, the film is really good. I read the book when I was a student at Glasgow University briefly. I then read another book by Yann Martel, called Self, as I was doing a module on my English Literature course called ‘The Self.’ I always remember that module because my friend Jamie and I thought it was hilarious to call it ‘The Shelf.’

Anyway, I’d loved the book of Life of Pi. I even referenced it in essays that were about completely different things, as much as possible. I loved the section about how he trained Richard Parker. I loved the episode with the flying fish. And I loved the funny meerkats on the island.

I was really glad the film was so good because it was just how I would want it to be, had I thought about how to make a film out of such a fabulous book.

If you don’t know the basic premise, it is this – Indian zoo keeper and family decide to move to America, they are taking the animals with them on a boat, the boat sinks, one boy and a handful of the animals survive on a lifeboat. What’s not to love?! Go and see it if you get a chance.

And now I am off for a walk and to listen to Brave New World. I wonder what will distract me today?

Lazy Laura and the big hospital strop

Almost two years ago, as mentioned in C is for…, I had a bit of an emergency. Like a life-threatening, I-thought-it-was-some-mild-food-poisoning, extremely-rare colon thing.

It was a Wednesday, any old Wednesday, no forewarning, nothing out of the ordinary. I ate my dinner, felt a little ill, it got worse and worse til, by Friday, I hadn’t slept in two days and was becoming a little delirious. By 3am on Saturday morning, it dawned on me that it wasn’t going to be ok and I got scared and went to hospital.

It was supposed to be my first day back at law school after the Christmas break. I had all my books ready. I was hoping they could just give me a little painkiller and send me on my way and I could still make classes at 10am.

Then things went crazy. I didn’t have any time to prepare myself for it. I honestly thought I was going home in a few hours. Then all of a sudden, there were things being jabbed into me with liquid painkillers, there were x-rays being taken, I was in a ward full of people waiting for operations and, wait a minute, I was waiting for an operation! And they were talking to me about my colon and I couldn’t hear them properly through the haze of fear that was throbbing in my ears.

Anyway, I woke up from the operation later that day and proceeded to spend the next three days in bed, sulking over why I had become ill, “why me?” etc. Doctors and nurses would come round and be nice and friendly but I had turned into Little Miss Grumpy. I was having a tantrum at ‘Life’ and that’s how it was going to be!

I spent all day asleep, too terrified to eat anything so sleeping through meals or refusing them, then spent all night awake, with my headphones in, watching Supernanny or Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen on my little TV, gently weeping to myself like an idiot.

I was allowed visitors but mostly just watched while they talked. I think I had convinced myself that I was quite legitimately ‘depressed’ and that was that.

Then Danda came to visit.

“Try and get her up and about,” they had said to Danda. “She lies in bed all the time, she needs to be a bit more active if she’s going to recover.”

So Danda came to my bedside and shook me awake. I was sleeping, as usual.

“Come on, Laura. Let’s go for a little walk.”

I looked at him with my No Face.

“Come on. It’s been four days since the operation. You need to pick yourself up a bit. Don’t you want to get well so you can leave the hospital?”

I did my best quivery-lip, I’m-so-sad-and-ill face, which he ignored. What?! My sad face wasn’t working?! Panic set in. I’m busy sitting around feeling sorry for myself here! You’re interrupting me! Don’t you get it?

“Come on. Put your little slippers on. Let’s go for a little walkies,” as though talking to a child.

That was it. I had had it.

‘Danda, can I tell you a secret?”

He nodded and leaned close so I could whisper in his ear.

“I don’t WANT to go a walkies!” And I stuck my bottom lip out.

And suddenly he was laughing uproariously. He had to sit down and clutch his stomach. I heard what I had said and realised what a baby I was being and put on my little hospital-issue slippers and went for a walk down the corridor, which tired me out for the rest of the day.

But that, that little strop, that was the beginning of the recovery period.

These days, if I don’t want to go a walkies, I at least come up with a more decent excuse, like “It’s a bit cold,” or “I’m far too busy making this cup of tea” or “Family Guy is on.”

This one’s for everyone who’s supported me….

… it’s not really. I’ve not struggled or seen off any adversity to write this blog. I just sit down and write it. But it is for the people who read it. Because that’s amazing. That people read things when I write them. People from all over the world. Just today, my stats page tells me that pageviews came from Korea, Turkey, Brazil, Poland, Greece, Qatar, UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. That’s just mind blowing. People pooh-pooh the whole technological age, say that social media is not the real world, etc. But I think it’s fantastic. How else would a silly story about a ‘fight’ I had in school be available to those people? I’m not saying people’s lives are greatly enriched by anything I write, nor will I inspire them to transform a new generation of potential world-savers. But lots of things make me giggle. Lots of things in life are very amusing. And if people like it when I point these things out, then that’s enough. My work here is done. I’m off to laugh at a small child pulling a cat’s tail.

Anyway, a few months ago, when I thought to myself, “What is all this blogging nonsense about?” and got involved, it was such a great decision. It’s honestly been so fantastic. As silly as this may sound, it makes me make sure that my life is more exciting. If I have a day free and can’t think of anything to write about, I go on a walk some place interesting, I find somewhere I’ve always passed by but not looked at properly, I photograph something pretty, I read something out of the ordinary. So that I’ll have something interesting to write about. Writing in itself makes me pretty happy and finding good stuff to write about can turn every day into a little adventure.

So thanks for reading, people. I always say I write for myself mainly and numbers aren’t my main priority but when people do actually read it, it feels so great. Well, I don’t need to tell you, you’re all bloggers, you know what I mean.

Ok, that’s my thank you speech over and done with. Now onto the award.

I’d like to thank david-and-emily.com for the Liebster Blog Award. Their blog, Husband & Wife est. 9/18/11,  is great. These guys do an awful lot, on not much sleep, and take exams inbetween it all. Their posts always fill me with feelings of laziness and the thought that I could be doing more.

For this award, I must answer the 11 questions posed to me and ask 11 of my own to 11 nominees. I’m supposed to nominate blogs which have fewer than 200 followers but I don’t know many a lot of them have so I’m just gonna stick in ones I like and hope for the best.

Here goes:

1) Favorite body part to work out and exercise of choice?

I love walking because I love getting to know London and am slowly turning into a total history geek. So I like how the pace of walking let’s you take in everything you’re seeing, better than on a bike when you just whizz by (although I love cycling). Recently I took up swimming quite seriously, and can’t enough of it. I like how my arms feel like they’ve taken a pounding because it makes me think that my bingo wings must be getting smaller…. surely?

2) Job you wish everyone had to do for an entire day in hopes they would gain some perspective?

Cleaning toilets in McDonalds… I’m not sure why. It just came to me. Although, I guess it just makes you appreciate how nice it is not to work in grime. I think actually, something to do with law is important. It makes you understand how and why the law and politics are as they are and why empty statements like, “They should bring back hanging,” don’t make legal or political sense. It really infuriates me, actually, listening to people of the sort who say that, discussing anything remotely important like politics. I physically cannot enter into discussions with them.

3) Favorite Holiday and traditions that go with it – please!  Elaborate!

Holiday? As in a day on which you celebrate e.g. Christmas? Not a holiday I went on to another country? I like Christmas a lot. I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia. I start on the 16th December. They make me feel very magical. That’s it really. The other stuff, like where to spend the day etc, is changeable. So long as I have Narnia, I’m happy.

4) What topic are you really passionate about writing?

I write mostly comedy, I guess, if my writing were to fit into any genre. Lots of things I feel passionate about; genocide, capital punishment, crime and rehabilitation, the importance of understanding between people who are different, (culture, language, ethnicity etc). I don’t necessarily write about these things, though, because I don’t feel it’s the right arena for it or whatever.

5) You wake up in the morning and get a mulligan.  What do you use it on?

My… erm… face? Erm. To pluck my… erm… nose hair?

6) Which teacher motivated you the most or least?

My drama teacher, Miss McGowan. She was just ace. She was teacher age yet she was still fab. Unusual. I just wanted to be in her lessons and be like her. The perfect person to want to be like as floundering 17 year old who just toddled about wanting to be and do everything! I met up with her a few months ago for dinner and it was lovely. She didn’t ruin the illusion of her fabulousness at all. I liked her even more.

7) What lesson learned caught you off guard when you learned it?

Sometimes things can be just as lovely as you wanted them to be. Life and relationships aren’t a constant struggle, like you’re led to believe by older people when you’re younger. Things happen. Of course things happen. I’m not immune to misfortune. You’ve never quite got enough money or you don’t quite agree on everything, or your landlord is rubbish. But whatever. Overall, if you can recognise the things that make you unhappy and banish them, life can be very nice. And is.

8) Finish this sentence: The world would be a better place if everyone:

Considered each other and their own actions a bit more.

9) Grammatical error that drives you batty?

Comma and. For example – I went to the shop, and got some chocolate.

10) Did you take a foreign language in high school/college?  If so what?  If not – did you regret it?

Took French, it’s still quite useful to this day. Not massively useful as I don’t remember much but it doesn’t feel like a foreign language when I hear it or am in France, which makes it easier to attempt.

11) What is something you think people misjudge you for?

Erm… Erm… That I… erm… Ok, this one is quite difficult. My non-ladylike-ness, I guess. I’m not super uncouth or anything. I just don’t do my hair or make-up or wear high heels or anything. I’m too lazy.

Right, enough of my nonsense. Now it’s my turn to quiz my nominees. Here are my nominees.

1) indigo euphoric – This blog is pretty new on the scene and is already providing me with plenty of food for thought. They are the type of posts that I discuss with my friends later in an ‘I totally say/do that too’ type of way

2) Someone Fat Happened – I knew. I just knew when I saw the name of this blog that I was going to like it. Because that’s what happens isn’t it? You’re just going about your business as usual, nothing much going on, then all of a sudden, there are extra rolls. Ridiculous! Who did this to me? This blog captures that feeling exactly. The Korean bathhouse post might be the best thing I’ve read recently.

3) Fitness and Frozen Grapes – I’ve nominated her before and I’m going to nominate her again. Because she’s fab.

4) drinkrunyoga – This blog is fabulous for many reasons, one of them being the amazing before/after pics on a recent wedding anniversary post.

5) St Andrew’s Lynx – The lastest offering, about being imperfect, has stayed in my memory. The photo is beautiful too.

6) Swonderful Smarvellous – Two reasons why this blog is great. 1. The most recent post was about Rome. I am going to Rome in a few days. Hence, I became very excited indeed when reading. 2. The post before that was quotes from Downton Abbey. Amazing.

7) The Unbearable Lightness of Being Me – Little snapshots of life in the Philippines. I went there a few years ago to visit a friend and had a really lovely time so I love remembering that while reading this blog.

8) The Good Greatsby – I just can’t get enough of this blog. My only problem with it is that he doesn’t write often enough. I check here first before I make any important life decisions. His words of wisdom always teach me something.

9) Pa-BLAM! – This blog is great and she’s a great blogger to have on side. I love seeing that she’s commented or liked one of my posts. Although she recently blogged about having a cold, and now I have one…. Suspicious.

10) Humorous Interludes – I love this blog. The horoscopes are very important to me. I am forever grateful to him for his advice about, for example, what to do when on a date with a paleontologist. Which is, like, always. Obviosuly.

11) Better Than IMDB – I always remember his recommendations e.g. if someone suggests a film, I’ll be like, ‘No, I’ve read quite bad reviews about that.’ Then people are like, ‘Where have you read that?’ And I’m not sure. Because I rarely read film reviews in magazines. Then I realise that I’m actually getting the majority of my info from this site!

And my 11 questions to them are as follows:

1) Imagine you are a vegetable. Which one, and why?

2) I have a cold. Can you recommend anything?

3) What is your favourite book? You can only choose one!

4) If you could have one thing you were amazing at, what would it be?

5) What would you chosen Olympic sport be?

6) If you could only eat food from one country for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

7) Do you love tea? If not, do you think it will get in the way of our friendship?

8) You left the house without any trousers/skirt on this morning! Oops! What is your plan of action?

9) How do you feel about cake?

10) You’ve won £1 million on the lottery! How much of it are you willing to donate to a fund for my general wellbeing? (This one is quite important.)

11) If I ask nicely, will you please wear your underwear on the outside of your clothes for the duration of your working day?

Fun with eggs

I can just imagine the search terms people will enter today and end up here. Things like, ‘how to bake a cake with eggs’ or ‘how many eggs should I use in a quiche’ or something. And do you know what they’ll get? They’ll get a silly story about my first year of living in halls at university.

There were five of us girls, all sitting around, day in, day out, being all free and away from home. Actually, we started as a six-peice but one of us, we’ll call her Smelly, opted for a life of not washing or being present. We’d find old unwashed pots and pans hidden in her wardrobe when we entered to find all our stuff she had borrowed and never returned. It was like entering a dungeon.

Anyway, I procrastinate, as usual. So we were a five-peice. We spent a lot of time dancematting. I think I have skated over this issue briefly. Now is the time to explain what was really going on. I would play dance mat every day. Every single day. For hours. Hours and hours and hours. I would shower two, sometimes three, times a day following yet another sweat-filled session jumping around in front of the tv. I often had a bit of a limp when I walked. I had blisters on my big toes and my calves were so tight, I couldn’t walk down stairs properly. I had to turn sideways and step gingerly down, both feet on one stair, before being able to move to the next one. As I lived on the first floor and my walk to work took an hour, this became quite a problem.

Another thing we did to pass the time was to play The Egg Game. I don’t know who came up with it. I think it was the product of one of those discussions about wierd facts that surely can’t be true. Do eggs really cook in the microwave, was the discussion at hand.

We took eggs from the fridge, as clearly, the theory must be tested. We each had one. We each drew a face on our egg. We each placed our egg on the glass plate inside the microwave. We closed the door. We set the time going. And we watched. And we sang. And we sang louder in excitement until the singing was screams. We watched. And we screamed.

And nothing happened.

We stopped screaming. We watched. We got bored.

BANG!!

The door of the microwave was thrown open violently and cooked egg nonsense hurled itself out at us all. We SCREAMED and ran as though under attack. Then we laughed nervously, pretending we hadn’t been scared.

Were you scared? No, I wasn’t! Haha! Were you? Was I? No, of course not. No. I wasn’t. Not me…. Definitely not me…. Noooo… Nope.

We approached the eggy microwave and peered in. Only one had gone. Another was squealing threateningly and another had leaked a little and the leakage had cooked white.

There was only one thing for it. We removed the suicide bomber, closed the door and continued the experiment, gripping each other, nervously. One after another, each went. Some barely making a noise. Some throwing their entire contents against the walls of the microwave.

A brief clean up and breather got our heart rates back to normal and now we knew. The next time we were bored, we had a game to play. The Egg Game.

One time, we found a egg which has become legendary in the history of our friendship. The Long Egg. As the name suggests, it was an egg which was longer than your average. I forget exactly how the egg went, but I’m sure that, during it’s time on the battlefields of The Egg Game, it fought valiantly and with great courage. It left a little of itself forever ingrained into the nooks and crannies on the ceiling of it’s fighting arena, the bits you can’t get to with the cleaning wipes, you know.

We salute you, Long Egg. You have a special place in our hearts. Love from the inhabitants of Flat D.

(P.S. We also tried testing another rumour, that if you put a carrot in the microwave for ages then take it out and snap it in half, flames shoot out! This one, sadly, did not work.)

A walk with mad dogs and Englishmen….

I’m handing over to the guest blogger today, for his last post about his holiday walks.

This was my 3rd and last holiday walk. It was overcast. I packed my rain gear. I began by heading north through the village. What I witnessed next seemed somewhat ominous.
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It looked a bit like that scene from the Hitchcock film and I looked behind just in case I was going to turn into Tippi Hedren II. (Tippi, by the way, is Melanie Griffith’s mother.)
However just 15 mins later the sky began to clear a bit and I came across this.
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As I was walking through the next village I saw this little chap
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One of those horses with little legs. I didn’t have my tape measure with me to see if it qualified as a miniature horse but I thought it should be one. Apparently it would have to be 34-38ins (86-97cms) to the last hairs of the mane in order to be called a miniature horse.
A bit further on and I was down another one of those narrow pathways.
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Through the gap in the trees in the distance, across a golf course and a bit further on I came to this
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It was one of those things that there is always a waiting list for here in the UK – a beach hut! This one is about 15ft (4.57m) x 10ft (3.05m). The gentleman told me he’d bought his in the 1960s for a few hundred pounds and that recently one was sold for £22,000 ($34,500). Sounds a big increase but I suppose you have to bear in mind it’s probably a 50 year gap. Had he bought it from the council? No, from the LeStrange Estate which owns the land. The family can trace their ancestry back to around 1100AD when the first LeStrange, a Breton who emigrated from northern France, inherited the land through marriage. The name, not unsurprisingly, means ‘the foreigner’ or ‘the stranger’. There are no service facilities to the huts. Water is available via a tap nearby. When offered a cup of tea I was asked to fill the kettle. “The tap’s behind the hut near the path,” he said. Off I went. Unable to locate the tap I returned and he showed me where it was. Can you see it? It’s near the fence post in the grass!
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A barrier of sand dunes means that this is the view from the hut.
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The sea is over the other side and a long walk out. I didn’t.
I set off continuing my exploration and in a mile or so came to the local lifeboat station. Because of the nature of the coast, the sand dunes and the fact that the water could be a long way out a conventional “launch” down a slipway is not possible. The lifeboat is not really a lifeboat – it’s a “lifehovercraft” – Problem solved! I’ve never seen one of those before.
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After an ice-cream stop it was time to return to the cottage and as with many routes around there it was off across the fields again for another couple of miles. Then through the Downs area and back along the road. As you can see by this pic the day which had begun overcast now had bright sunshine. Time to mop that brow again as the heat really rose. I was the Englishman out with the “mad dogs”!
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Fancy having this as your walk home from the office each day? Summer yes! Winter, maybe not.
Just before arriving back at the cottage I passed the sign I mentioned a couple of weeks ago by the duck pond:
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The big 100!

Can you believe it? This is blog post number 100! It has been an interesting learning experience. I originally started it because I was having one of those days. We’ve all had them. I had a huge essay to write and I thought I’d take a little walk and stretch my legs before I started. I walked to the river, intending to potter to the next bridge, cross it, then return. And I walked. And I walked….

And I walked…

And walked….

And kept walking a little bit more.

And I couldn’t see any bridges. I had been out for hours. And my brain got ticking. I thought about my essay. I panicked. I’d never get it finished in time. I had no idea what to write. There was no way I’d get 4000 words out of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2006.

I had thought it’d be right up my street when I chose the question. Then I read the Act. It was not juicy and interesting. There was no gossip to be had. It was rules and regulations. Wordy ones. I worried about not finding it interesting as it meant my ‘life plan’ might be in danger. I was worried that my back-up life plan consisted of coffee making and that I’d one day be really old and grey, with rollers in my hair, and a Zimmerframe, standing behind a coffee machine, steaming milk. Forever.

I had a bit of a panic. How can I be approaching thirty and not be in charge of the world already?! I was slacking.

So, for the three and a half hours it took me to get to the next bridge (!) and the hour it took to get to a town centre on the other side, I felt pretty annoyed at myself. I couldn’t believe I’d been trundling along doing ‘not much’ for so long. And I went into a bookshop because that always makes me feel better and somehow found myself holding a book called The Happiness Project.

The author talks about being honest with yourself about the things you find fun (having a book and free time, for example) and doing things you enjoy. She is a writer and enjoys writing so she starts a blog. I thought that I’d start one aswell as I enjoy writing, although I hadn’t done any in years. I’d sort of been contemplating doing one for ages too but couldn’t think what I’d write about. And that’s how this came about.

There have been highs (getting to read Chat magazine and call it ‘research’), the have been lows (eating everything in sight during revision). There have been silly moments (the invention of the catterpony), there have been serious moments (…wait a minute…. have there?). There have been various themes (freedom, the alphabetChat magazine, the way we speak).

But mostly, there has been…. lots of words…. and a high proportion of nonsense.

I am proud of my nonsense. The Happiness Project book introduced me to the idea of being honest with yourself about what you’re good at and what you enjoy. And as much as I wish it were the opposite, making social commentary on the current political climate is not what I want to write about at the moment.

So, here’s to the next 100 posts! I wonder what I’ll be saying then???