Sunday, November 29, 2009

A fleeting visit

I am in New Zealand for a week.

On the 23rd I left London, Heathrow for Christchurch and arrived on the 25th (local time) having traveled 12413 miles via Los Angeles.

My friend had a very premature baby on the 12th October so I wanted to see her and meet her gorgeous little baby boy.

He is putting on weight and learning to feed slowly but surely. Hopefully he will come out of hospital in the next week or two. I have been lucky to have lots of cuddles with him and I have promised to teach him all the best mischief for when he is a bit bigger.

In between visits to the hospital I have managed to fulfil a lot of yearnings for foods that I didn't realised I actually yearned for until I got here. But that is a whole new story for another day.

I also got to spend this weekend with my nephew who flew down from Nelson - his first flight as an unaccompanied minor! He arrived Friday night and we stayed with my friend that night and then drove out to Hinewai Reserve, near Akaroa to spend Saturday night at Tricia's. Lucy came up from Lake Hawea so the (poor/lucky) boy spent 24hrs with 3 doting aunties.

Tricia and Paul have a beautiful little spot in the wilderness to call home. After a yummy dinner we walked to the beach and enjoyed the views, the sounds of waves and birds and watching my nephew as he inadvertently filled his boots with sea water.

We watched as a pair of Canada geese wandered along the beach with just one tiny baby. The parents headed for the waves and each slightly bigger wave would send the hatchling hurtling back up the beach until it could finally dig it's toes back in the sand. Very cute to watch but obviously hard work for the baby.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mum and I are VIP's for an evening

I was given VIP passes for me plus one to go see Kasabian last night at Wembley Arena.

I first asked Megg (sister) if she would like to go but the answer was a resounding negative (not surprising - she listens to Radio 4!). So I asked my friend Teresa, again a no.

So talking to mum a bit later and I said I didn't ask her as I knew it would be mega loud. And I have still a very clear memory of mum stuffing tissues in her ears at the Tom Jones concert a few years ago!

How wrong can one be! She said she would love to come!

So last night we both finished work, jumped on trains and met at Wembley. Kasabian weren't playing until 8.45 so we planned our arrival on that. Picked up our VIP passes, dropped of our work bags to the coat check and made our way to our seats.

We got there just as Kasabian was about to start.

OMG! What an amazing concert! The special effects were simple yet great to watch, the crowd below us in the mosh pit were great fun to watch also.

All drinks were poured into plastic cups for the show as the night before a bottle that had been thrown had hit the guitarist in the hand. When talking to him, he said it is a sign of how much fun they are having and things get thrown all the time. What an interesting way of showing your affections. But if that is the case then this crowd were more in love with Kasabian then words could express!

Cups were flying the whole night and a few other interesting things too. Crowd surfing was banned and the security had a very busy time dragging off the offenders.

At the end we were escorted to the VIP room to meet up with the band. We had a drink with them and then headed for home - getting out of the VIP/stage area proved more challenging then getting in! They take security very seriously.

But as we left we got to see the floor covered in plastic cups and awash with beer as the cleanup gang started shovelling loads of cups into rubbish bags - I really really hope they recycle!!

Mum sat through the whole thing and can now say she has been to a real rock concert! Took a few years to get that one under her belt - but better late then never.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Christmas lights in Chicago last year


Well, OK...
So it's a little late to be posting last years Christmas photos.

But at least I got them in before this years Christmas!

Friday, October 09, 2009

From busy to... well... busier!?

I seem to have no time or energy to write on here these days but change is afoot and I hope it means more words on the blog.

I have taken a 5 month job working only 2 days a week (see Maternity Nurse Diary) although it seems to be more like 2-3days most weeks. And I am about to fill in some more days - the other 5 actually - with a local family having baby No1. Sounded like an easy job and here's hoping I am right. So although I was planning to reduce hours, I may well have increased them for a short time instead.

I've also moved house with Mum and my sister Megg. We now have a 3 bedroom place. So for the first time in 7 years, I have my own (double!) bed in my own room. I cannot believe I lasted this long! It is taking a bit of getting used to as I now have to walk the length of a hallway to make a cup of tea or go to the loo. I can't reach the toaster from my bed or the CD's to put in the stereo (also sadly out of reach now). We have more then one window to open, a real oven to cook in - unfortunately a gas one - and a little garden of our own.

Our former landlord was sad to see us go and did try to convince us to stay by telling us after we gave notice that he could reduce the rent - after putting it up just as the recession really kicked in! Too little too late.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A bee - but not in my bonnet

It's been too long, and so much going on - but no time or energy to blog.

I'm in Colchester now in an 8 week job with twins. As usual it keeps me busy and oblivious of the outside world. In fact, today I took the boys for a walk in the garden for the first time since being here. Not sure if it has been laziness, exhaustion or the weather keeping me inside and idle.

I am in a lovely country house on a very quiet lane with only tractors with trailers laden with summer harvests dashing back and forth. The postie drives along once a day and we occasionally hear another car, but so very peaceful after the madness of London.

They have a huge garden (at a guess it must be about 3-4 acres) of which about half is lawn and the rest an orchard and out buildings.

Today while out tootling in the garden I realised just how many insects there were and how I have become 'unused' to them being around. I had my macro lens on and was trailing quite a few interesting creatures. Every time one flew away there were many waiting to take it's place.

Tonight is a perfect summer evening (about bloody time too!) and I have walked along public foot paths to a pub that comes recommended for it's food. There is a little fountain and lots of outdoor seating. It reminds me a bit of a garden bar at home - except better hanging baskets.

I am off tonight and tomorrow so will hopefully get out and explore somewhere a bit further afield - they have lent me their car for the day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Braving the world

Today we crept out into the streets of Essaouira, having holed up for the better part of 2 days.

We have eaten pasta with courgette, onion and tomatoes and bread and jam for 2 days as the thought of going shopping was just too much.

But we had a thoroughly enjoyable day with only a few 'moments' of unpleasantness.

We walked down to the water front - a place bustling with activity. There were fishermen taking care of fish - gutting and cleaning etc. Seagulls swooping in anticipation of the scraps. Cats stalking - also in anticipation of the scraps, and maybe something a little better...

The smell was something else!! Not a nice fishing village sort of fishy smell, but a full on 'fish guts from the last 100 years left in the heat' sort of fishy smell.

There were lots of men sweeping and scooping up caked on layers of sand from the walkways and we both thought it seemed odd that it had got to that state without being dealt with earlier. It was only later that I remembered a conversation with someone a couple of days earlier, he had said there was a movie being filmed here and they had put sand down to cover the cobbles for the set. I guess filming was over.

We walked out towards the fishing boats and got 'got' by a man who wanted to show a boat that was being built. We weren't remotely interested, but of course he managed to drag us in. After 2 minutes telling us about the wood used in the building of the boat, he then asked for money for his little 'tour'. I just happened to have 3 dirham in my pocket (and genuinely no more as we were yet to go to the bank) which I knew was a pittance, so handed it to him happily. He asked for more and I said I had no more, I needed to go to the bank, and he went off moaning and grumping.

How is it, someone invites me to go see something, they then expects me to pay for the privilage. Moroccan culture is obviously very different from my own.

We had some breakfast (ripped off again) and then went off to do a bit of shopping. Mum was keen on getting some slippers, which she duly did in a painless way (not ripped off).

I also bought some shoes (not ripped off) and then we wandered down towards the sea front, but a different point. The wind was incredible, so strong and blustery. We ended up covered in sand and sprayed sea water.

Home again buying some vegies for dinner (not ripped off) and then to buy tickets for the bus tomorrow (not ripped off).

So in general a good day. After thinking that I would only take the one memory card for my camera as it still had space for over 400 photos, I ended up having to delete some along the way - it was a big day for the camera!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Never to be repeated!

Yesterday we braved our first Grand Taxi on the open road. Never ever will we set foot in one again - and advise all others to consider very carefully this mode of transport.

We had read and heard about the drivers being kamikaze madmen, but it couldn't be that bad... could it?

YES!! In a word, it can be that bad AND worse.

We left Marrakech at 4.30pm and getting out of the city was fine. Once on the open road though, the driver became obsessed with being in front of every vehicle on the road - those going in our direction and those not!

I said to mum at one point, 'I hate to think how fast we are going', and from where she sat she coud see the speedo.

'100... 110... 120.... 130' came the terrified whisper in my ear.

We swerved in and out of the traffic barely enough room at times for the ocassional 3 vehicles side by side on the 2 laned road. Scooters, bikes, pedestrians and donkeys were tooted a warning before being passed within inches.

There were several miles of road works in a few locations and these were treated more like a race track then the road - many vehicles were overtaken while on 40km/h restrictions.

He knew exactly where the police with speed cameras hung out so would drive sedately past them, only to put his foot down the second they were out of sight.

At one point, mum gasped as he overtook in a very stupid place barely missing an oncoming car.

'What are you worried about, we missed it by several millimetres' I said in relief.

We made it to Essaouira at 7.10pm. I think if there had not been so much traffic and road works, we would have broken the record for Marrakech to Essaouira.

Thank goodness for traffic and road works.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Watermelon and desert

We're back in Marrakech, both been sick and I am still recovering. Yesterday felt like I had been run over by a steam engine. Today only a few scooters have run me over so must be improving!

The desert was great, loved the camels, and the sunrise and sunset were pretty - although a bit underwhelming. The clouds came over as we got closer to Merzouga - where we left from to ride into the sunset. I took a temperature reading from Merzouga and because of the wind I couldn't get an accurate one, but was between 40.8 and 43.4 celcius. Quite warm really....

The food at the camp was the best yet, but I was unable to eat more then a couple of pieces of carrot.

Mr Camel was very good to me and we enjoyed each others company very much.

Before we got to the desert we drove through a few sand storms and were very thankful that we were in the car with windows up!

I will hopefully be able to upload some photos soon as we are staying a few days in one of mum's former clients house in Essaouira. We are hoping to take a break from the manic activity and hide indoors with a very big watermelon and some oranges for juice.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Morocco in one photo...

This is Morocco - my favourite photo so far...

It's clear we have the same sense of humour. But then it is also clear that the donkey doesn't mind a hard days work - there we have to differ.

Today...

...we saw

1 half flattened snake (ie flat one end and not the other)
1 very alive little tortoise (although with a suicide mission well in place)
42.49 billion mud houses
33 dozen donkeys
3 tajines
4.25 litres of water
522.64 trillion sheep and goats
17.14 million other tourists
every colour of the rainbow - and more - in the landscape
1 kasbah ruin
293.86 gazillion lads selling gemstones - fake or real...? (anyones guess)
one blue lizard
one tiny black and white bird
2 stork nests, each with mum and 3 babies
about 300km of road
and
1 funny little thing resembling a chipmunk...


I swear, I never exaggerate at all...

Dishonesty and hard work

Today we are off to the desert - here's hoping the people are nicer there.

It's incredibley hard work fending off all the dishonest con artists - of which there are so many!

Yesterday we went into the Place Djemaa El Fna in the Medina (central square) We had a great time wandering around the markets and chatting with a few locals, buying a couple of things and then having mint tea in a central cafe looking out to the market.

Then we went back to the hotel to meet a potential guide for todays journey. Afterwards we went back to the market and intended to look for more companies with guides.

Firstly when we got out of the taxi, he tried to charge us over double of the metred fare. We got out and left him with the fare on the machine. Then went over to a sign to read what one company offered and of course got nabbed by someone telling us this office was closed for day and we needed to go to the 'other' one jsut down the road.

We followed him to said office and of course wasn't same company so walked off. He followed us saying it was the same. We said no it isn't and continued walking. Another man then joined in and said he was from original company and was now open if we liked to go there.

We said no, you are lying to us and we are not going to either company now. The second man insisted he was telling the truth - but damage done. He retreated fast as he knew we could call the tourist police at any moment and he would be dealt with...

Then trying to get a taxi back and everyone wanted to charge triple or quadruple the metred fare again, so we started to walk instead. We both decided to try one more taxi and he gave us the right answer and got us home happily - so we paid him double...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuna, donkeys and the bus

Three days with no connection. What a challenge!

Where to start...

We left Mililla, crossed the border again into Morocco and caught a grand taxi into Nador (again) and bravely entered the bus station. Mobbed within seconds by 'helpful' men asking where are we going. The first man was trying to lead us off somewhere unknown so we stopped and found another who was much nicer and he led us to a kiosk nearby.

The first soon stormed up and started to argue with the second man - we were obviously 'his' catch! They then seemed to work out an agreement and we were led off again with the first man (the second man assuring us all was well).

6 Euros each to Fes and then onto the bus and allocated a seat (after moving aside the cases of tuna with tomato sauce) to await our departure.

The journey itself was relatively uneventful.

We saw...
brown fields
green fields
5 dogs
20 zillion donkeys (predominantly bundles of straw or grass with legs and ears)
11 harvester machines
10 trillion harvester people
and more herds of sheep and goats then you could poke a stick at

The bus did not close the door for most of the journey so you could say it was air conditioned.

The good news of course is that we made it and did not have to share our seats with any chickens, goats or tuna.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Part 2

So we got into a taxi and said we wanted to go to CTM Nador (bus station). After a lot of discussion in French, Spanish and Moroccan, we were on our way. English is not a language used much here - no need really as all the neighbours are Spanish and the old language is French. Out comes my trusty phrase book...

We then ended up in a taxi again going to Mililla which is Spanish and needing to get our passports stamped again as we crossed the border into 'Spain'.

What a difference - cheaper, friendlier and calmer. We found a hotel and went out to get some food at last. Unfortunately, in true Spanish style, the restaurant that sounded nicest wasn't open until 8.30 and as it was 7.20 we couldn't wait. We had a pizza in a little place that was full of locals - very good sign.

And back to the hotel for a welcome shower and sleep.

This morning, we went upstairs to the breakfast room and in my very few words of Spanish managed to get dos cafe negro - 2 black coffees - and some toast.

Now we need to repack our bags and get out to explore this little place before heading for Nador again for a bus to Fes (and the welcome tourist trail that will hopefully make our lives a little easier...)

Friday, May 15, 2009

The longest day... Pt 1

What a day, yesterday we decided to go to Montserrat - about an hour out of Barcelona. But the pressing issue was what to do regarding our onward travel plans.

Off to the train station to book a ticket to Almeria or Algecaris so we could then take a ferry across to Morocco. The train to Algecaris was leaving at 10pm so 'perfect' we thought and then went to book it. Alas, there were no seats, not even a sleeper berth. So with no onward journey plans and no idea what to do next, we jumped on the train to Montserrat and forgot about Morocco for the time being.

Montserrat is a lovely monastry set high in a mountain with great views of the valleys below - on a nice clear day that is. Unfortunately it was raining and very cloudy so we had virtually no view at times and none at others. But it did make for some interesting photo opportunities (none of which I have viewed yet).

So back to Barcelona and on to the bus station to see what was on offer. A bus to Almeria leaving in 2 hours that would travel overnight and arrive 12 hours later. Perfect! So into a taxi to go and collect our bags from the hotel, then back again in time to buy tickets and board our bus.

While waiting for our bus we went to pick up a few food items to snack on - having not had any solid food since breakfast. And back at the station we were sorting it out when a man came by to ask a question about heck knows what - while another man proceded to pick up mum's wallet and start to walk away. Luckily mum spotted him and called him a not very nice name and grabbed it back - disaster averted, thankfully.

The journey was long and tedious - not helped by the smelly man in the seat next to mine. Every couple of hours the bus stopped and the smokers got out to smoke and then everyone got back in and off we went again.

09.10 this morning we pulled into Almeria and headed for the port to see what was available there to get up to Morocco.

By 10am we were aboard a boat ready to sail to Nador. Unfortunately this left no time to buy anything more to eat and the boat was not selling anything. We had just enough as it turned out - eating the last things as we docked.

Nador, it turns out, is a depressed town unused to foreigners - especially 2 lone women. We were 2 of 7 people who had non-local passports coming off the boat. The other 5 were all men and all looked like they probably belonged here, but who knows (they definitely knew the language).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The big bus in Barcelona and a croc of a handbag

Today we took the Barcelona Bus Turistic all around town.

We intended taking the red route first, but got on the blue one near our hotel instead. First stop for us was MontJuic where we wandered around the MNAC (way too long to type out in full) art museum. Then up to the site of the 1992 Olympics. It felt a bit surreal to think that this was the place of huge hustle-bustle a few (17!!??) years ago. I wasn't inspired to use my camera here though until I found a lovely grass seed head and felt obligated to take it's photo with as many backgrounds as I could find...

Back down to the MNAC and a few more photos and we headed back for the bus. With beautiful views over the city, a warm sun and a man playing guitar, I think I could have sat there for a while.

We took the cable car up and then down the mount to see the view. Not particularly mind blowing, but pleasant all the same. The cable car running down to the harbour front was out of action due to strong wind (hadn't noticed the wind myself...).

To cut a long (boring) story short, we stayed on the bus until the point that we could do a swap to the red one. This was more interesting as it took in quite a few of Gaudi's buildings - what a clever and unique man he must have been!

Along the way we went past a shop called Croco-Park so after having completed a full circuit we stayed on board and headed around again to check it out. Turned out to be a very boring shop with lots of very shiney, glittery leather handbags more suited to... well, someone else...

So with that out of the way we found a Tapas restaurant and ate what we could - that wasn't cooked with the use of gas as the gas was out of order ( did they pay the bill??) in the kitchen. We picked up a cake each on the way home and finally limped into the hotel about 9.30'ish - both exhausted.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The adventure is in motion

Mum and I are finally off on our adventure. We've both been looking forward to a break from work and the mundane slog of normal life. The main destination for our journey is Morocco, but we decided to get there by land and sea rather then fly - we have a month to spare!

Yesterday we left London on the Eurostar a couple of hours earlier then our needed timing (to catch our onward train) in order to have the joy of sitting in a Parisian patisserie supping good coffee and feasting on fantastic French pastries for a couple of hours.

Alas, it was not to be.

We wandered around the grounds of the Natural History Museum thoroughly enjoying the poppy gardens, the Petit Panda (seen throught a thin veil of bamboo) and the Biturong sitting on the roof of it's little house. OK... so I have no idea what a Biturong is, and the man I asked had no English word for me, but it was very cute and it's little face looked just like a seal. If anyone should wish to enlighten me, I appreciate it - time online is limited.

After a bit we decided that we could resist the temptation no longer and headed back to the streets to find afore mentioned patisserie. There was not one to be seen.

A snap decision was made as we knew that the next train was a long journey and vegetarian/fishatarian food likely to be limited, we had to eat and we chose what turned out to be my vote for the worst restaurant in the whole of Paris - and possibley France. Salad with dead lettuce, boiled potatoes, and an old car's waste oil made into salad dressing, and salmon (probably caught circa 1969), cooked until unrecognisable and then placed beside a pile of (very) boiled rice. Both meals bland and completely uninspiring. We knew though, that the train could not disappoint anymore!

Back to the station, thinking that we would find a cafe selling something, that even if not the desired perfect Parisian pastry, would still put British food to shame - not this time.

C'est la vie!

The train arrived and we found our little cabin and made ourselves comfy. The train did not disappoint in it's delivery of cr@p food - thank goodness we had bought our NZ made butter from London to have on our toast though!!

The journey was 12hours and ultimately, painless. There were several stops most of which I was awake for but one of which I seem to have missed was the border control from France into Spain.

The train guard had taken our passports upon boarding so we didn't need to be present as some unpleasant hour of the morning - nice man.

We arrived in Barcelona at 8.30am - 12 hours from departing Paris.

PS. Just tried to spell check and all words except about 7 came up highlighted - my computer seems to think I should be writing Spanish. Apologies for any bad spelling...

Milk chocolate fields forever!

Eurostar to Paris and on the way, suddenly realised it was dark outisde - inside the chunnel already! Way too fast for me.

Popped out the other side and glorious fields of luminous rape seed flowers, fresh spring grass and delightful milk chocolate fields combed to perfection. Glad I couldn't get out to lick the ground and spoil the fantasy!

Wish I'd been able to get a photo - but the train so damned fast and windows so damned dirty, not worth the effort. I'll stick with the visual memory of this beautiful view...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A tube of what???

A father of babies I was looking after went to a pharmacy to get some Metanium - a nappy rash cream.

When he got there he asked the shop assistant for a tube of Meconium*...

The look on her face apparently said it all!!
He did eventually come home with the right stuff!


*for the uninitiated, meconium is the black poo that babies do when first born.

Friday, April 10, 2009

G20 protests

The other day, just before starting my current contract, I decided to go into London City to check out the G20 protests.

It wasn't hard to find where to go - follow the excessive number of police and the closer you get the more police there are.

I shuffled and elbowed my way to the front of the crowd and stood in front of a row a police who were 'holding us back'. They were in good spirits, no growling or scowling from this lot. My purpose for going was in fact to get the camera out on an excursion. It's been severely underworked these days.

So I played around and snapped this and that. Nothing was happening and I wondered how long I should stand there. No sooner having thought this, the crowd opposite started to get a bit agitated and began to push the line of police until they eventually broke through and started heaading our way.

At this point, the police holding us back all turned into different creatures and became very aggressive shouting 'GET BACK!' whilst pushing us. I am guessing the thought of 1000 or more people mobbing them from behind wasn't an attractive option. I was shocked at how quickly they turned from calm and quiet to very angry and loud.

So in short the crowd pushed through all police lines and the police were left looking a bit surprised. They then regrouped and formed another plan which was to hold the crowd at another point and bring in the riot squad. These police were not so friendly.

After a while I got bored at this location so headed off to Trafalgar Square where a more peaceful protest was happening. This one was specifically focussed on Palestine (whereas the 'main' one was for all agendas).

This was a whole different scenario, singing, invited speakers, etc. Peaceful and pleasant and yet still getting their point across.

Interesting day in all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Český Krumlov - in pictures

Too braindead to be writing screeds of anything of importance so instead, here's some photos of my day trip to Český Krumlov in Southern Bohemia...

This is the town itself - the castle is on the top right (left of the tower).







Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The day of steps

Phew, today I walked for 8 hours with only a short stop for lunch (earlier post).

After lunch I wandered aimlessly again through lots of beautiful alleys and squares. After a few hours, I found myself at the beginning of the steps leading to the castle.

I never broke a sweat on the climb, simply because every 3 steps I had to stop and take a photo (or 7). The views are stunning!

The castle is not a castle in the Knights in Shining Armour kind of way. It is more of a series of buildings perched on top of a hill that are united and fortified by a surrounding wall.

Each entrance and exit is protected by two guards. I just happened to be hanging around photographing their untidy looking footwear when I heard the tell tale sound of more guards arriving.

The changing of the guards was over in a few seconds without much fuss and the 'old' two were marched off home. Hopefully for a well earned hot bath... although I suspect not. (They were in the path of a very cold wind.)

I didn't go into any buildings as it was getting late in the day, but I could wander through the complex unhindered taking many photos.

I was headed in a direction that I hoped very much had an exit so I wouldn't have to climb all the way back up to the top - I was lucky! I limped down the steps wondering how I was going to make it home with an aching back and very sore foot. At the bottom of the steps I discovered the No22 tram and it's route took me very close to my hotel - again I was very lucky!

John Lennon et al

Even John gets a mention here.

I have been to see the John Lennon wall which is directly opposite the French Embassy. Funny really as, being a New Zealander, I don't see the French as a 'peaceful' people...

It is a very colourful wall on which people can express themselves in a very colourful way should they wish. I didn't wish, but I did enjoy looking.

I walked over a bridge of no great importance this morning after finding my way to the 'Dancing Building' nearby. It's a very wonky and interesting piece of architecture. There were lots of photos to be taken from the bridge.

Once I realised I was off the planned track for the day, I decided to head for the John Lennon wall instead via the other side of the river from where I am staying.

I found my way to the Charles Bridge before the JL wall - which wasn't supposed to happen. So I retraced my steps and eventually came across it.

I now am having lunch at a nice little cafe next to the wall. Replenishing the energy supply before heading out again on the next adventure.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sleet, snow, hail and strong wind

That was the weather forecast and it has prooved to be smack on! Damn!!

I waited indoors this morning for a very heavy hail/sleet storm to pass by then ventured out. It was sunny, cloudy and windy for the first few hours of wandering then came a very heavy snow storm - no photos of this as I found a very nice cafe with good cake and coffee and felt no need to thrust me and my camera into a blizzard...

Then fine again until I was on my way home and started with very heavy hail then very heavy snow.Today I just wandered. No plans or intentions so, of course, I never got lost. I figure I couldn't be lost if I had no place I had to be - if I was supposed to be somewhere and couldn't find it then I would say I was lost... But I wasn't! So there!

The architecture is stunning - the new town dates back to 14th century and the old town, well... it's older. Lots of pretty buildings painted yellow, pink and pale blue - a bit like baby wear.

Will be posting photos later when I get them downloaded. In the mean time I'm off for some dinner.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Prague, here I come, maybe...

Well, the day started off so well, got up at a pleasant time, packed my bag (didn't manage it last night) and headed off to the airport about 11am.

I had intended leaving about 10.30, but that was the early estimate time so I wasn't worried to be a bit later. All was good, checked in online last night, the journey by tube was painless, got to the baggage check and it dawned on me that all was NOT well.....

THE BL@@DY PASSPORT!!!!! It was safely tucked away in my top drawer where it had sat since getting back from Chicago in December... It has to happen to everyone once so I have been told and I am guessing it is a hard lesson not to learn after doing it just that once!

OK, so can I rebook a later flight and take the tube home and back again? No - there is only one connecting flight from Zurich to Prague each day. I have 1 hour before the check in closes on my flight.

I decide to call Airport Cars (AKA Premier Cars) who have picked me up from the airport on many occasion, and request their fastest, most risk taking, racing driver to get me home and back within the hour. Anyone who has driven (or taken the bus) in London knows well that luck has a lot to do with traffic conditions. Cars are flowing nicely one minute and the next there can be a 2 mile tailback for no obvious reason.

The powers that be were on my side today and it took 25minutes to get home, 30seconds to get out of car, unlock main house door, run downstairs, unlock my door, locate top drawer and afore mentioned passport, run back upstairs locking doors behind me and back into car. (You should have seen the drivers face!)

Then 30 mins to get back to airport (leaving a BIG tip for the driver) and then I sauntered up to the check in with minutes to spare! Through security to airside - and then had to wait for the gate to be announced!! I had time to window shop, but instead I took a seat and, holding my head in my hands, caught my breath...

Flight was uneventful although over Switzterland looking down on all the snow and forests was beautiful (thought of you Walter and Karen!).

Connecting to the Prague flight was easy too and arrived in Prague on time to a cold,windy and raining evening. I'm hoping it gets it out of it's system tonight so tomorrow is a nice day! Just had a pizza for dinner (told you Megg I would end up eating pizza as only vegie food I would find!! Didn't go far tonight so will hopefully find something exciting tomorrow).

Then found a nice little convenience store and tried to buy some sparkling water. Only to discover that not only does water come still or with 'gas', but gas is then divided into 'big' or 'small'. Big gas for me please - no comments please... Czech water gets my seal of approval so far. Very delicious.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The art of procrastination - or simple avoidance

It's amazing what I find to do instead of packing my bag... I loathe packing and unpacking so when it comes time to pack - I first have to unpack... Silly me!

Tonight I have managed to vacuum under my bed and behind the freezer. I cleaned the bathroom and toilet - even behind the toilet. I have washed all my scarves and hung out to dry, washed and dried my washing and found the table beneath the mountain of junk.

But I haven't yet packed my bag...

I am going to Prague tomorrow morning and really do need to put some clothes in a bag, sort out my camera and my computer too. At least I have unpacked now - and only 11.45pm! Doing well I think.

I have started to reload all the files back onto my computer - all lost when my hard drive died a couple of weeks back. Luckily I was backed up until just before the event. But still don't know exactly what I lost.

Anyway, back to packing I guess if I am ever to get to bed tonight..

Lack of Adventures of a Slackyjenn

It's a while since I was here with energy and enthusiasm to write anything, but after the hue and cry from the general public(well, one or 2 friends anyway...), I am back!

A long time ago I received an email titled The Adventures of a Slackyjenn and so in return, I would like to announce my latest blog title...

The Latest Adventures of a Slappyjenn.

So no being mean to me any more!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Kindness... all for salt

A knock on the door this evening and it's the neighbour asking me if he could have some salt as he has a visitor and no salt to serve.

Not a problem, I give him the salt pot and tell him to take what he wants as I don't really use it.

It turns out mum has had a couple of interactions with this man, the first when he was trying to do his washing in the communal machines. After putting 3 times the needed coins in, mum showed him how to get it started.

The next time mum was on her way to work with her suitcase and she had to climb the stairs to get to get outside (we are in the basement). This man was on his way down and insisted on carrying mum's suitcase all the way out the front door.

Tonight we had a bit of a chat about the fact there is no heating in our rooms yet again - a common occurrence these days it seems. Mum said she had contacted the landlord and he is out of town until tomorrow. We are lucky as we have a small electric heater so we won't freeze.

The neighbour was very concerned that we may be cold and checked that we had a heater - offering his one if we didn't.

He whispered quietly to me so mum wouldn't hear 'it is not so bad for us - we are young, but it is not right that your mother has no heating'. True, we are younger but mum also has a really bad cold and should be warm in her home.

After a few more words of anger about our landlord, he goes back to his room. But not for long.

A short time later he knocks on the door again and he has an electric blanket that he has taken off his own bed, insisting that mum use it.

There are some kind souls in this world and one of them lives next door to us.