Friday, 10 August 2012

Olympic Fever

Like the majority of the UK and I expect other parts of the world (although I hear your coverage hasn’t been brilliant) O and I have been caught up with Olympic fever the last couple of weeks. Things are starting to slow down over the last couple of days simply because a lot of the sports have finished but we’re still choosing to watch the sports we know little about or turn the TV off rather than watch something that isn’t Olympics related.

There have been a couple of stand out moments for me so far in the games that have really touched on what sportsmanship/womanship is really about. (In reality there have been a huge amount of stand out moments but these have really stuck with me).

Kirani James of Grenada, the 400m runner, who won gold Grenada’s first Olympic medal however it wasn’t James’ sprinting ability that I admired most it, was his attitude and behaviour after one of the heats. Where despite winning the race he immediately turned to one of his opponents Oscar Pistorius and asked to swap name badges something I’ve never seen done at the end of an athletics race. I’m sure you’ve already heard Pistorius’ story but if not you really should look it up. The fact that he was allowed to run at the Olympics was a mammoth feat in itself. Interviewed on his victory and his journey through to the next round James was asked why he’d wanted Pistorius’ name badge and the young athlete spoke of the honour it was to race against him and that Pistorius’ was a legend in their event and he had wanted the name badge as a souvenir of the momentous day when they’d been able to race against each other.

The second moment came just last night, I’d rushed home from my Pilates class and had come sprinting up the stairs just in time to watch Bolt and Blake run the 200m final. I’d debated just sitting in the car and listening to it on the radio as I knew it would all be over in 20 seconds and I definitely can’t run that fast. However I did make it to the sofa in time and got to see the race. After the race we watched as the three Jamaicans did their laps of honour and took in the adulation of the crowd. Bolt performed his usual antics and they mucked about as team mates who have all just won medals can. It was a hot night and the windows were open to try and get air circulating through the house. Our downstairs neighbours were having a family gathering and we could hear strands of their conversation as well as the grand kids playing on the lawn. It was then I heard the young boys saying to each other – “You be Blake, I want to be Bolt” “Ok now it is my turn to be Bolt”. Inspire a generation – right there and then. Ok so they were soon back to playing with their football but for a moment they realised that football wasn’t the be all and end all and that they have been able to witness sporting legends.

There have been less pleasant standout moments but they have involved male rowers/cyclists and their incredibly tight shorts. However to go into detail would just demean the point of this post! 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Iceland V 2011

On our last full day we did our own Golden Circle tour. We headed to Thingveiller to start with and had a wander and learnt about Icelandic history. 

Then we went up to Gulfoss (waterfall) – OMG I’ve never been so cold. Could barely stand up because of the wind. It is a spectacular sight and you can feel the power. The spray coming off the waterfall had completely frozen all the ground and grass around.
Then we headed back down to Geysir – again pretty amazing. These places are the only ones where we felt pretty surrounded by tourists which was a bit of a shame.

For our last night we booked a room very close to the airport because our flight was a 7:30ish in the morning so we stayed in Keflavik. We checked in got a take away pizza and drove to Hafnir (or just past it really) to see the Intercontinental bridge where the European and American plates meet. O ran up to the bridge, I was too interested in eating the pizza before it went cold. 

Then we finished our trip at the Blue Lagoon. It is beautiful, we didn’t get to see the landscape as it was too dark when we got there but we swam about looking for the hot bits. The trip was kind of made by the fact that we could see the northern lights from in the pool. They eventually kicked us out of the lagoon and we headed back to Keflavik pulling off the road down a dark track to watch the northern lights – attracting the attention of the police, don’t know what they thought we were getting up to. But once they realised we had our faces stuck to the windscreen and the camera desperately trying to capture the lights they left us be (photos did not happen!). When we got back to the hotel we realised we could actually see the northern lights from in our hotel room but it was extremely cold and windy with the wind open.

Iceland has to be our favourite holiday and we're already desperate to go back.

photos by O or me

Iceland IV 2011

Not many of the shops are open on a Sunday unfortunately. However go to the flea market where we managed to get O a hand knitted Icelandic jumper, which he wanted. I was going to get one as well but when we realised how expensive they are even second hand we decided we’d just share the one! 

We went to the National Museum, where we had lunch and to the cathedral in the centre of town, which is stunning in its simplicity. You can get a lift to the top of the tower where you get great views out over the city. We went for another swim at Vesturbæjarlaug O’s favourite pool. We had dinner in the apartment that night and then went to try and find a dark place to spot northern lights from. We failed but mostly because it was quite cloudy, we were both tired and weren’t really in the mood.

Iceland III 2011

This guy was in the lobby of our hotel

The next morning we walked round Akureyi again waiting for the swimming pool to open. The pool complex was huge with different pots at different temperatures and a steam room. The locals seem to do their stretches and yoga in the steam room which was a little disconcerting at first. Then back to Reykjavik with me trying to take pictures of the hundreds of Icelandic ponies from the moving car. We tried to take a lot of photos from the car strangely enough they haven’t really come out or we’ve got some cracking photos of the windscreen wipers or side mirrors!

On the way back South we tried to sort of go to Glymer. Glymer is Iceland’s tallest waterfall. First you need to get along the incredibly bumpy gravel road to get to the head of the walk – this is terrifying when you’re not supposed to take your hire car on gravel roads and when you haven’t taken out the windscreen cover or chipped paint cover insurance. So we got to the start of the walk about 4:45 and expecting that it’d be dark on the way back we took a torch with us. We walked quite a way crossing a smallish stream following the marked path. I don’t do too well with too much walking and my back was quite sore. 

We then came to a huge hole in the ground which basically took us under a huge rock and down the side of a cliff – it was pitch black here! We came out the other side unscathed and kept going (should point out I’m also a huge wuss and have no sense of balance so I don’t do well with scrabbling over rocks and jumping streams. I’m the one on my bum to go down the smallest of slopes). 

Eventually we came to a rather full river with a wire across it. There were stepping stones to the centre of the river and then a log for the rest of the journey. This was my breaking point and thankfully O’s too. We were not crossing the river in the dying light to see a waterfall. Especially when we could see where the path went on the other side and that didn’t look like much fun either. I told O he could go on if he wanted to but I’d had enough and would meet him at the car. (in contrast to me being a wuss and having no sense of balance my husband is like a mountain goat and can bound up hills at the drop of a hat). However, we decided that neither of us was going to cross the river. I suggested to O that he climb the hill in front of us and see if he could see the waterfall from there at least to get a picture. He decided we should both climb the hill to have a look we might have had a small argument, I might have had a tantrum but somehow I ended up climbing the bloody hill. YOU CANNOT SEE THE WATERFALL FROM THE TOP OF THE HILL.  We stomped back to the car practically in silence. On the way back we passed a couple just setting out (they’d been in the car park when we’d set out, not sure what took them so long we assumed they’d already been to the falls). We gave them fairly honest advice – are you mental it is dark, don’t do it, you’ll never make it. They went on regardless but O saw them turn almost as soon as we were out of view. My advice is don’t try and get to Glymer falls!

a grumpy me trudging back to the car

This time we checked into an apartment for two nights. We walked from the apartment into the centre of  Reykjavik and ate at a really nice vegetarian restaurant. On the walk into town we passed a couple of red cross charity shops and some second hand shops which we planned to visit the next day however we hadn’t planned that very well and it was Sunday the next day. 

all photos by O or me
Finally getting round to finishing these posts off.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Shocking bodies

A while back I posted that I'd removed the bar from my belly button piercing. This resulted in some shocked reactions from people who didn't realise I had a piercing.
So I was wondering what bodily secrets do you have that people couldn't guess from looking at you? I'm only really talking about piercings or tattoos those things that some people think of as taboo. If so why did you do it and are you still happy with the decision you made?
My belly button piercing is the only thing I have to reveal and I've removed it. Not too much of a rebel.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Iceland II 2011

We were up early the next morning and set off north. We went to Akureyri  which is Iceland’s second city. It was about 5 hours drive away (just shy of 400km) the weather was incredibly rainy on the drive and got a bit snowy in patches but nothing too serious. We went through their new tunnel which reduces the journey quite considerably, the tunnel is quite amazing, incredibly long with a big hill in it, to the extent that it has a crawler lane and corners – not sure what went wrong in the planning that they ended up with corners in a tunnel! 

Once we hit Akureyri we kept going to Lake Myvatn stopping by a waterfall (Godafoss) on the way past. I’d really recommend a visit to Lake Myvatn this might have been our favourite day although I loved every single day it is really hard to chose. 

We saw the pseudo craters, a park of natural lava sculptures and the bubbling mud and steam vents – can’t remember what this place is called but it was amazing and we had the place to ourselves. On the way back we went to the baths I think this was my favourite of the swimming experiences. We got here when the light was just dying so we got to see the landscape and then the darkness descended. It was also very quiet so we could just float around the baths finding hot bits or moving off to cold bits when it got too much. Bizarre being outside in your swimming costume when there is snow not 6 feet away and being TOO hot.
We’d hoped to see the northern lights on the drive back to Akureyri and we did see something strange in the sky but we weren’t convinced it was northern lights. I spent the drive back looking at the stars, which were amazing. So beautiful and there seemed to be three times as many as we see in Scotland.  Once in Akureryi we checked into our hotel and then went for a walk around Akureyi with their heart shaped red traffic lights. 

(all photos by O or me)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Iceland I 2011

O, ok and I, were very excited when we got on our Iceland Airways flight to discover that there were individual tv screens in the backs of the seats. We touched down at Keflavik airport at quarter to 4 ish and went to pick up our hire car, raiding the tourist information office in the airport for free maps. We were a little apprehensive about potentially driving in snow and ice but the hire car came with winter tyres (feels like you’re driving on flat tyres) as standard and heated seats (essential). From the airport, we headed straight to find our hotel which for our first night was part hostel/part hotel, cheap and almost cheerful but it served us. Once we’d checked in we headed straight to the supermarket for supplies shocked that the shops don’t have very long opening hours. Once we had our supplies, we headed out for a walk from our hotel. 

We headed up to the Perlan, which was quite stunning at night. During the day you can go in – you can also go in at night I think, to eat but it is vvv expensive. From there we walked to the shore to see the heated beach, which is either not on at night or not on during the winter but it was not warm. We walked home through the graveyard, which is apparently stunning during the day. It wasn’t bad at night, is very well lit, and feels safe if not a bit bizarre to be walking through a graveyard. 
For tea, we followed a recommendation by Cakes and Bunting and went for fish and chips it was lovely yummy food. After dinner, we went to the swimming pool.   Laugardalslaug for our first experience. Thankfully Cakes and Bunting had warned us of the strict routine that you need to follow when swimming in Iceland so it wasn’t a shock. You leave your shoes outside of the changing rooms. Take off all your clothes and leave them in your locker. Take your swimming costume and towel with you from the changing room to the “wet” area where there are cubby holes for your towel.  Here you must shower naked then you put on your swimming costume and make the very cold dash to the nearest bit of hot water you can find. There was a British school group at the pool and they were very loud and boisterous so sort of spoiled the experience. We soon realised how much of a social experience swimming is for the Icelandic there are always loads of conversations going on and you feel a little out of place if you’re in a hot pot without anyone to talk to.  After the pool you go and shower – they have absolutely no qualms about being naked and you get strange looks for being in your costume and trying to hide behind your towel. You dry yourself in the wet area and only then should you return to your locker. You get dirty looks from the Icelandic women if you trek your wet self through the dry area.
After all that we collapsed at our hotel and prepared for the next day.

(photos by O or me)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Up North - November 2011

9 members of the same family in the same house for 3 days and it wasn’t even Christmas?! There was another big birthday last year but this time it was on O’s side of the family. A long weekend away in a beautiful part of the country? Count us in.

We collected O’s brother and his girlfriend from the train station and then I swiftly dropped them at the shops so they could actually purchase the birthday girl’s gift. We were soon on our way and had a relatively easy drive up the road stopping at Fort William for a sandwich and a toilet break. Then we turned off and headed towards Mallaig. We soon pulled up at the beautiful wooden lodge type esk building with a field of ponies and a stream outside.

We had an explore, went and petted the very friendly ponies and helped O’s mum prepare the dinner for that night. The house was really, really lovely but we soon realised that it was impossible to take a single step without the floor boards creaking. There were wooden floorboards throughout, which meant you couldn’t get anywhere without someone hearing you. We even had a competition later that night and no one managed it without a squeak. We ate a lovely meal and once baby nephew had been bathed and put to bed we settled in for a tense game of trivial pursuit (O’s family is hugely competitive). O was teamed with his brother in law and they were very smug over their victory.

The next morning breakfast was eaten and the shops were popped to. Once everyone was back it was time for the birthday girl to open her presents and us to have a slice of cake (of which there were several). Then in order to work off the morning cake we headed to beach leaving O’s dad who was making another cake. We were very lucky with the weather the whole weekend and it was quite mild. The others played frisbee and football as we walked along the beach. Back to the house for a bite to eat and a lazy afternoon playing with our nephew while preparations began for dinner.

That evening we had:
Cream of mushroom soup – made by O’s brother and his girlfriend
Beef stew and dumplings with roasted veg on the side – made by O’s brother in law
Vanilla cheesecake and baked key lime pie – made by O and I
Birthday cake for those that weren’t bursting

The rule was that O’s mum didn’t have to lift a finger. Once the dishwasher was stacked and the pans were cleaned we put on plenty of layers and wrapped up as warm as possible. We made a torch lit procession down to the beach and stood well back as the boys arranged the fireworks. We didn’t have many and had purposefully chosen the ones which we thought would be quietest (yup we were after quiet fireworks). Baby nephew did very well to start with but soon got a bit upset and started saying “all gone” “no more” to which we responded “just one more” “oooh isn’t it pretty” “yay, you like fireworks” he remained unconvinced. Once the last one had gone off the boys with their torches scoured the beach to pick up the debris. Back in the warmth we played a couple of rounds of a game similar to call my bluff, O was very smug to be on the winning side again.

Unfortunately during the night I started to feel unwell and the next night O and his brother followed suit. After a day in bed the following day when we were due to leave I was still feeling pretty ropey but I was the best out of a bad lot and we needed to get home somehow. Throughout a very slow packing process which included one sock on, sit rest, other sock on, sit rest, bend pick up jumper, sit up, rest, place jumper over head and arms through sleeve, realise you’ve moved too fast and your brain is hitting off the sides of your skull, sit and rest etc. etc. We eventually got all of our belongings and O’s brothers belongings into the car. I drove very slowly down the road, which was thankfully the road was very clear. There were a few stops for fresh air but we finally made it home in one piece. We collapsed onto the sofa with the duvet and switched between sleeping and watching TV.

A lovely, lovely weekend which was unfortunately spoilt by a stomach virus, we had a great time up until then.

(photos mostly by O apart from the rubbish ones which are by me)

Friday, 20 January 2012

Pantone vs panettone

I always get the pronunciation of these words mixed up. It makes me look like a moron.

If I'd got my act together I might have posted this before Christmas

Thursday, 19 January 2012


I thought about doing a round up of the year like I did for 2010. Then I realised that I hadn't actually done enough or blogged enough for the same sort of round up. But I need something to kick start my blogging in 2012 so I'm making a half hearted attempt. I was reassured that Gaynor did her round up this week so I'm not too late.

Highlights of 2011
Zoe and Neil created a sunshiney wedding on a rainy day.
Adizzygirl married IB with a bouncy castle and a hog roast. It was also an opportunity for most of the long suffering other halves of blogging six to meet.
2011 was a year of travelling including trips to Italy, Iceland, the Lake District and Spain. I also increased the number of Scottish Islands I've visited.

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary.
I turned 30, nephew turned 2, neice turned 13! 
I attended Blookclub

Maybe 2011 wasn't completely uneventful after all.