Friday, January 14, 2011

Alive and well in BrisVegas

I apologise that I have not blogged early to let everyone know I was ok.

I am fine. My house and the homes of my family are all fine; safe and dry.

Unfortunately one of my very good friends was not so lucky. We have been doing everything to help them that we can. Currently they are staying at our place and we have moved in with my parents in law. This weekend we are having a working bee to start the clean up at their house. I am pleased to be able to help but devastated for their loss.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The 2010 Adventure - France

France is one of my favorites places in the world. It is probably second only to my home. And that really isn't a fair fight because home has my bed in it and I really love my bed.

In France we stayed in Grenoble, Carpentras and Carcassone. They were all great bases for travel in the surrounding areas. My favorite is Provence.

The markets in Provence are renowned for their fresh local produce and beautiful hand crafts. The weekday morning market at Bedion was the highlight of my overseas holiday. I really can not describe how much I enjoyed it or exactly what it was like. Suffice to stay that I spent all the cash I had on me, all the cash Tom had on him, then all the cash my brother (who was traveling with us) had on him, including the euros he had hidden in his shoes and I only agreed to leave after I realised I could literally buy not more as there was no atm available. Below is a photo of the town of Bedoin.

Provence was alive with flowers. The sunflowers were spectacular but as I didn't get a photo that I was happy with of them, below is the photo Tom took of lavender while we were wandering around Gigondas in the heat of the middle of the day.

Another highlight in Provence was Orange. I persuaded Tom and my bro to drive to Orange one night for dinner, it was only a 30 minute drive and a 1.10 Euro toll away from where we were staying. I had read in my guidebook that there was a Roman Amphitheater and an Arc de Triumph, as well a quite a few nice restaurants.

Now going at night meant that the Amphitheater would be closed but my guidebook gave directions for how to reach the hill above it which allowed you to see down into the Amphitheater. Taking advantage of the looonnnnng daylight hours we went to see it after a lovely dinner at a local restaurant. When we arrived it became obvious that there was a concert on in the theatre and when we tried to follow the guidebook instructions to reach the hill it was all blocked off. Disappointed we started walking back down but on the way one of the roadies from the concert tried to show us the way around to the entrance, when Tom explained that this was not where we were going because we did not have tickets for the concert the roadie asked if we would like some. Three tickets and much cudos for the success of such a complex conversation in french later we were inside the theater climbing the stairs to our seats. The concert was the Opera Tosca. And below was the view...

After Provence we went further South to Carcassonne. As my guidebook says "Medieval Carcassonne is a 13th-century world of towers, turrets, and cobblestone alleys". It was amazing, especially around twilight when all the other tourists had gone home.

Another great thing that happened while we were in France was that while we were visiting some castle ruins in the Pyrenees we stumbled apon a birds of prey show. I am terrified of birds and these one were HUGE, but they were graceful and amazingly tame. Below is the trainer with a bald eagle.

Would I go to France again? Hell yeah!
Why? I love it. It is beautiful.

The 2010 Adventure - Switzerland

From Germany we drove into Switzerland. We made a day trip of Zurich and then drove to Luzern, on Lake Luzern. The bridge over the river in Luzern was especially beautiful. I love the way everyone in Europe makes an effort to have flowers in public places. Just beautiful.

And the food! Oh the food!

From there we went to Lauterbrunnen which is near Interlaken. Below are the pictures we took from the balcony of our room. The view was stunning.

From Launterbrunnen we took the cog-train to Jungfraujock. These were the views we enjoyed for the two hours there and back.

And this was the view from the top. The middle of summer and it was freezing. The day was glorious and we had a great time playing in the snow.

Would I go back to Switzerland? Yes.
Switzerland was beautiful and while I was not as taken with it as Germany I would certainly be happy to return to see move of this country.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A bad start

Most days I eat very well. I have lots of fruit and vegetables in my diet.

Today I got off to a bad start. I had a cheese and bacon roll with ice coffee for breakfast. And that bad start to the day seemed to snowball.

I had another coffee at 9 am.

A Nutella crepe with ice cream at 10:30 am. This was followed by deep breathing and three large glasses of water. It may be have been too rich....

Some fruit for lunch, one apple, one banana at about 1 pm.

Then for dinner we bought some pate and fresh white bread and made sandwiches.

And now I am eating my third honeycomb chocolate biscuit while I blog.

Tomorrow I am having porridge for breakfast, I just don't trust myself with any other option.....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The 2010 Adventure - Germany

The European leg of the 2010 Adventure started in Germany. We flew into Frankfurt and stayed one night before picking up our hire car and driving to Bacharach, a small town on the Rhine in Western Germany.

Germany in summer is beautiful. The people are friendly. Flowers are abundant. Everything is well organised, well maintained and easy to understand (even though it is all written in German). We stayed at Pension Im Malerwinkel, which was a lovely half-wooded old house set literally into the village wall. This was our base for three days while we recovered from the hectic few weeks leading up to our trip and explored the surrounding area by car and bike. This stretch of the Rhine is covered with castles (about 65 within a 30 minute drive from where we were staying).

These pictures are of the pension, the gardens near the river in Bacharach, a nearby castle and the local bakery.

From here we drove to Baden-Baden in South-West of Germany. This was a pretty flash town known for its Roman baths (which are still in operation), casino and horse racing.

We skipped the gambling and headed straight for a relaxing day at the baths. We went to the more modern baths as the "proper" Roman ones were closed for renovations. This was probably just as well because we found the Roman (nude) part of the modern baths quite confronting and hurriedly returned to the modern (clothed) parts. We soaked in 36 degree water, then 38 degree water, then spashed into the 17 degree pool followed by a trip to the 100% humidity room and the brine room. We stood under waterfalls, pulled buckets of "arctic" water on our heads and participated briefly in aqua aerobics. We also both had a massage which was great, if not painful. After all this we were relaxed and exhausted so returned to our hotel for an afternoon rest before going out for a wonderful meal at a hidden local restaurant. Above is a photo of our hotel and below is the view from our hotel window and a picture of the wonderfully moody restaurant we ate in one night.

From Bacharach we took a lovely scenic drive through the absolutely unbelievably beautiful Black Forest down to the bicycle-filled university town of Freiburg. The Black Forest was amazingly dense with trees and the scenery was just divine. If I were an artist this is the place in the world I would chose to paint. Below are two photos of the Black Forest, the second was taken by the car of Tom and me.

Would I go back to Germany? Yes.
Why? The landscape is beautiful, the people are welcoming and the prices are very reasonable compared with other countries in Europe. Germany was amazing and I would return there in an instant.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The 2010 Adventure - Japan

The 2010 Adventure started in Tokyo. Like all big cities Tokyo is busy, noisy and has poor air quality, but if you can get past that it is ok.

The streets are busy with short (to me) people weaving their way between each other to reach their destinations. The buildings are covered with advertisements in ever increasing multitudes of colors which have a garish and childlike look to them.

The pavements are tidy and litter free, save for the businessmen in black or gray suits chain smoking their way through their lunch breaks.

We visited Ueno Park and enjoyed walking around for an hour looking at the trees, monuments, lake, shrines, fountains, views and locals.

There were few homeless people visible during the day but many locals out for a stroll or mediation....

We stayed in Narita, a small town outside Tokyo, which is about an hour and a half closer to the airport than Tokyo. It has two train stations about 300m apart which made travel into Tokyo very convenient and lots of restaurants, including Macdonalds.

On the night we arrived we were too exhausted to look for food so stopped in at McDees for dinner. The polite young girl behind the counter seemed surprised at the amount of cheeseburgers we were buying. Her numerous confirmations about our order made more sense when we opened the burgers to discover that we had accidentally ordered double cheeseburgers.

Would I go back to Tokyo? No.
Why? It just didn't really appeal to me. Smoking is permitted everywhere and that made most places smell bad and made me sneeze. And it had a really busy feel to it and I found that stressful.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Not getting what you didn't want

There is nothing more frustrating that not getting what you want....... except maybe not getting what you didn't want but expected to get.

It is sort of like being annoyed at someone else more than you really should because they did something that really annoys you when you do it. Confused yet?

Recently I reluctantly tried to obtain something.

I didn't really want it. I didn't need it. I didn't enjoy many different aspects of it. But everyone thought I would get it and I decided that trying to get it would at least leave the option open to me if I decided that I wanted it.

So I tried to get it. And while I was waiting to find out if I had, I decided that I definitely didn't want it. I decided that once I was offered it I would turn it down graciously. Say "Thanks but no thanks" and explain that the disadvantages of the thing were more than it was worth to me.

But I didn't get it. Someone else did. Someone I know, like and respect. Someone who will appreciate it much more than me.

But because everyone expected that I would get it, and expected that I would want to get it, they are disappointed for me.

And although I am disappointed that I didn't get to say"Thanks but no thanks", overall I am more relieved than disappointed. The disadvantages are still too sharp in my focus.

But all is not sunshine and lollypops, there are some parts of the thing that I really loved. I grieve for the loss of them.

It has been such a wonderful opportunity to be gracious and classy. There is nothing like being in a bad situation to allow you to show who you really are. I am the woman who can congratulate the person who got what she expected to. I am the woman who can accept the outcome that I didn't expect.

The interpretation of my upbeat attitude to the outcome tells me so much about the people around me. Those who assume I am putting on a brave face are correct though they probably don't realise that I am cheerfully hiding the childish tantrum I want to throw for not getting the outcome I expected, even though in the end I got the outcome I wanted. Those who tell me that there will be others in the future and not to worry about this particular one are right but probably don't realise how far into the future that might be. Those who tell me why I should have got it renew my confidence in my skills and myself. Those who show absolute shock and surprise inflate my ego. And those who say nothing, say most of all. I will remember them.

But like a clever Hollywood play write once said, when God closes a door he always opens a window. I wonder what this one will be like......

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The honey-moon is over baby

I am taking a break from uni this semester.

I have been studying for two years now and we need some time apart. I need some time out, to invigorate my soul so I can love it even more.....

(if that make no sense to you please watch this link)

I am hoping that six months should do it and that next semester I will be back and ready to go. Time will tell.

Birthday China

I was give these lovely Royal Albert pieces called Poppyland by a good friend for my last birthday. They are divine to drink from, beautifully soft and fine, and came with plates just the perfect size to combine tea with toast.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Christmas China

My sister in law gave me this beautiful cup and saucer for Christmas. Isn't it lovely?