Friday, 2 October 2015

art on the streets of berlin

The Man and I had a few days in Berlin together this summer, and it was a city I was really keen to explore.  I'd heard a lot about the Berlin art scene, and it was fascinating to see murals and street art popping up all over the place.  So here's a bit of what we found!

We dived down alleyways, found old sections of the Wall, and plundered riverside beach bars, finding treasures around every corner.  We also found there to be big political, cultural and historical significance behind a lot of the art, reflecting Berlin's past and reminding locals an tourists alike of the impact Berlin's past has had on its flourishing present.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Back tomorrow to share my preparation for Scrapbook Sunday.  The goal: five pages in a day... Find out more in this post here.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

skimming the salt flats

With a 3-week volunteering project lined up in Ecuador with Girlguiding this summer, I knew I had to take the opportunity to see as much of South America as I could.  So when my team returned to the UK, I stayed on to travel.  Deciding where to go was easy: it had to be Bolivia.  And it had to be the salt flats.

I had seen pictures of the huge, flat plains of salt when googling South America back in university.  It's been on my list to visit ever since, as I have literally never seen anywhere else like it.  So I booked my flights to Bolivia, joined a tour run by Oasis Overland, caught a 4-hour bus and a 7-hour train up to Uyuni, and got ready to explore the region by jeep.

We set off nice and early one morning, and before long approached the edge of the salt flats.  It's dazzlingly white as the sun arrows down from an impossibly blue sky, and reflects in a hazy glare.  And it's cold.  Bitterly cold.  But there is so much beauty here, in a stark, brittle way.  We climbed out of the jeep, and you almost expect to be stepping onto snow.  But instead it's hard planes, cracked into geometric tangles, and playing with perspective.

And then it was time to do the 'funny photos'.  As Marco, our guide, said.  You don't need to tell me twice!

We drove to Incahuasi island; a rock jutting out from the flat salt.  Climbing to the summit, it really did feel like being on an island in a sea of pure white, and it was surreal to watch a jeep drive across its surface in the distance. Somehow in the crystalline cold, cacti reach their spikes up to the sun in defiance. The views were spectacular, and we explored, ventured into caves, and definitely didn't poke any of the prickles.

In fact, this vast, alien, ethereal landscape s impossible to describe, so I shall simply share pictures, and observe with some resignation that I should remember to clean my lens more regularly in sandy, dusty, windy environments!

We reached the edge of the salt flats as the sun set, and Marco, our guide, commandeered lodgings for us all in a hotel made of salt!  It was simple (not so much with the electricity) but lovely, and we met lots of other travellers, sat round a salt table on salt stools, and headed for bed on our salt beds, wrapped up warm in 4 layers of blankets and a sleeping bag to fight against the rapidly dropping temperature.

An incredible experience, and we still had 2 more days exploring this wonderful, ecclectic, dazzling land.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Seriously, needed to clean my lens SO BAD. But never have I been so grateful for a polarising filter!

Monday, 28 September 2015

back into scrapping

I haven't finished a scrapbook page since the spring.  The spring!  That seems like such a long time ago, and while I was away for the summer, and I've been busy with lots of lovely things, it has definitely been too long since I scrapbooked.  Now is the time to change that.
I have this weekend that very rare thing: a free Sunday.  And so I intend to challenge myself this weekend: I'm going to sit down and scrapbook.  My goal is to make 5 pages.  

If you are a speedy scrapper, you might think that very manageable.  If you're anything like me, you will think that that is an insane number of pages to make in a day.  I think it's insane, as I normally take a day just to work on one page.  But I love a good challenge, and so Sunday will find me with scissors and paper and pretty things with stories to tell and photos to celebrate.  I'm getting back into scrapping.
And I don't mind if I don't end up with 5 pages.  If I only end up with one, that's better than nothing.  But I am really, REALLY looking forward to it! Sorting through old pages reminded me how much I love a hand-cut title, tiny camera embellishments, white backgrounds, tiny layers... I have missed the pretty things.

And if you get the chance this weekend, I'd love to see what you're making, or sharing.  I'll need inspiration! However, in terms of planning I'm going to keep it minimal.  The only preparation I will do is to print my photos.  And clear off the table, obviously.
And I will make sure that I have plenty to watch in the DVD line (I like to be entertained while I scrap) and will intersperse this with the odd Youtube and Class videos from Shimelle and Wilna.  LOVE them.

Finally, I'm going to embrace the day, get back into a hobby I love, indulge in the time to pursue it, eat an embarassing number of snack items, and I will try and blog and Instagram mini updates. 
Kisses xxx
P.S. Do let me know if you're scrapping or crafting this weekend.  I always like to have company!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

the middle of the world

The Equator!  Any visit to Ecuador must include a visit to zero latitude.  Ecuador even means 'Republic of the Equator'.  However, this isn't as simple as it may seem: there are two separate sites that claim to be on the Equator.  And they're at different latitudes..

Only one thing for it: a visit to both! My intrepid team of Girlguiding volunteers and I set out to to investigate.

The first has a rather charming line painted on the floor, ideal for the posers among our ranks, and an excellent opportunity to break out with some selfie-stick action. And it seems that this is the 'real' equator.  At least, it's pretty much at zero latitude.

However, then we made our way to the official, if slightly inaccurately placed, equator monument.  Apparently French astronomers calculated this position to be on the equator, and given the equipment available to them at the time, they were pretty close.  Having said that, nowadays, we were told that any half-decent sat nav will tell you that you're a bit off, if you were hoping to stand at the middle of the world.

We took a jumping shot anyway, obvs.

Something both sites have in common is extremely 100% convincing and genuine museums of not-at-all dodgy equator science. Because only if you're exactly on the equator can you balance an egg on its end on teh head of a nail.

I got a certificate proclaiming me to be an Egg Master. This was at the 'real' equator site, and our guide was brilliant, explaining and demonstrating all the science (we observed water spiraling in different directions down a plug hole) and we also learned about chocolate production, pre-Incan civilisations local to the area, and got an official equator stamp in our passports.

We ended our visit to the 'fake' equator monument by renewing our Girlguiding promise.  We videoed it (and so did another tourist, which was a bit strange) and Jazzy and I presented the team with promise badges to celebrate the occasion.  It's certainly the most exciting place I've ever renewed my promise, and it was a great way to make our visit significant to us as leaders within Girlguiding.

Kisses xxx

P.S. I know it's been a while since any updating has happened by now photos are prepared and I'm gradually hoping to be back with South American adventures and crafty projects :D  Yay blogging!

Monday, 31 August 2015

things to accomplish: the list

Well, it's now two years since I wrote my list of things to accomplish.  The original deadline was my 30th birthday, which gives me 18 months or so to achieve my remaining goals.  I don't think this is likely, but I'm going to keep ticking things off anyway as I find it an immense amount of fun, and very satisfying! It probably doesn't help that the list has more than doubled in length since the original too, as I keep thinking of new things to do, adding them to the list, and then having to come up with more plans.

No problem: I love to plan and anticipate and look forward to things!

So far I have completed 42 goals on the list leaving me with 57 still to do.  I achieved a huge goal this summer by spending 5 weeks in South America, a continent I've dreamed of visiting for years! And a few more on the list are in the works, planned and booked.  I love using the start of a new academic year to review my ambitions and goals, and think about what I want to achieve and experience in the coming twelve months.  It's going to be exciting!

Here's the current list, linked up where I can, highlighted item completed.

#1 Make cake pops
#2 Make a multicoloured layer cake
#3 Go on a canal boat
#4 Play Dungeons and Dragons
#5 Play hooky for a day
#6 Get a film projector and screen films in my own little cinema
#7 Go on a sleeper train
#8 Have tea at the Ritz
#9 And Claridges
#10 See 2 London Shows in a day
#11 Make a photo wall display
#12 Build a den.  A really cool one.
#13 Road trip in the USA
#14 New York, New York
#15 Go glamping in a fancy tent with fairy lights
#16 Buy an expensive set of lingerie
#17 Sew something to wear
#18 Get married
#19 Make a set of jam-jar cocktail glasses
#20 Make blueberry gin
#21 Play ultimate sandwich
#22 Learn how design this blog the way I wish it looked
#23 Go skinny dipping
#24 Milk a cow
#25 Learn to make pasta
#26 Get up early to photograph the sunrise 
#27 Swim in the Hampstead ponds
#28 Stay out all night
#29 Do an Escape Room
#30 Play the tube game
#31 Have dinner at Dans le Noir
#32 Re-purpose something second-hand
#33 Go to a cult Rocky Horror screening
#34 Go to a burlesque show
#35 Go ape
#36 Go to a Secret Cinema screening
#37 See a play at Cornwall's Minack Theatre
#38 Go on a helicopter
#39 Make my own ice cream (malteaser, peanut butter and caramel flavour?)
#40 Have dinner at Dishoom
#41 Take part in a Murder Mystery Treasure Hunt
#42 Buy a bikini
#43 Go to an auction
#44 Get my eyebrows shaped
#45 Inhale helium
#46 See the Northern Lights
#47 Go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
#48 See New Zealand
#49 Stay in a tree house
#50 Have a bash at karaoke
#51 Go to a roller derby
#52 Travel to South America
#53 Ride a motorbike
#54 See a film at a drive-in cinema
#55 Go to a sh*t-faced Shakespeare production
#56 Make a new giant floor cushion
#57 Have an indoor pool party
#58 Learn to scuba dive
#59 Have a go at spinning
#60 Go for Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea
#61 Go to the circus
#62 Learn to knit from a chart
#63 Knit a lace pattern
#64 Start a teacup collection
#65 Go on a Segway
#67 See a midnight matinee at the Globe
#69 Visit the Cutty Sark
#70 Go to a Casino
#71 Go stargazing
#72 Eat a deep-fried Mars bar
#73 Have dinner at Veeraswamy
#74 Have a day at Thorpe Park
#75 Ride a camel
#76 Have cocktails on Madison Terrace
#77 Play Dinosaur Safari Adventure Golf
#78 See a baseball match
#79 Go to Bounce Below
#80 Visit the Rough Trade Photobooth
#81 Swim in an infinity pool
#82 Ride a tandem
#83 Cook a roast
#84 Make something out of leather
#85 Get my International License with Girlguiding
#86 Go to a Christmas Market in Europe
#87 Dine in a Michelin star restaurant
#88 Go on a photography course
#89 Design a Lace Shawl
#90 Visit a Guiding World Centre outside the UK
#91 Sit in a box at the theatre
#92 Go to Africa
#93 Spend a day at Lyme Park
#94 Try white water rafting
#95 Sleep in a 4-Poster bed
#96 Fly first class on a plane in lying-down beds
#97 Learn Brush Script
#98 Visit Beachy Head
#99 Have a Christmassy afternoon tea

Kisses xxx

P.S. Shout if you're free and want to come with me :D

Sunday, 9 August 2015

one photo and twenty words

I love that he not only tolerates selfies, but he creates brilliant ideas for them. Travelling with him is wonderful.

Kisses xxx

P.S. One photo and twenty words is a monthly collection of pictures and tiny stories shared by bloggers and created by the charming and lovely Abi over at Creating Paper Dreams.  Why not pay her a visit?

Thursday, 23 July 2015

giant galapagos tortoise (not to scale)

Team Ecuador 2015 are off for the summer.  You can read about our trip preparations here; this is a volunteering project we're doing with Girlguiding and as a team leader I've been planning and preparing for this trip for abour 18 months now.  And it's finally here.

And we were all ready except for one thing.  No team mascot.  It was decided early on that it should be a Giant Galapagos Tortoise, as even though we aren't visiting the islands themselves, the tortoise has huge historical significance, and they're really lovely creatures!  But where should we get one?  Who should be responsible for looking after it?  Who would get to name it.

The debate went on.  And so unbeknownst to the team, I decided that we would each have our own mini mascot.  I found a knitting pattern for a little tortoise from Mochimochi Land (it's part of the pets collection here) and I picked up some sturdy cotton yarn. For two weeks, whenever I commuted or got on a tube or had to wait for a bus, out came my needles, the green cotton and the pattern and the little creatures gradually grew.

Meet the team of mascots!  One little giant Galapagos tortoise for each team member.  Everyone can name their own, and they won't take up valuble luggage space.  But they look a bit tumbled about here don't they?

Come on lads, line up!

That's better.  And to make sure that they were definitely Girlguiding members, I gave each of them a World Guiding Trefoil to wear proudly on their tummies.  Which they cheerfully modelled.  They are very well behaved little pets.

So now we are ready, and our little friends are ready.  I'm sure they will appear in many a photo, and as long as we're careful not to lose them (because they are very little for giant tortoises) I think they will come back with lots of stories to tell.

Their navigation skills are up-to-par as well - they must be homing tortoises.  

And this is my little friend.  I've called her Tiny.

I think the team of Tortoises is pretty excited about their upcoming adventure.  But not as excited as the team themselves - hello adventure!

Kisses xxx

P.S. Eeek! Exciting!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

one photo and twenty words

Travel is so inspiring; I've had incredible adventures this year, and I'm so excited for the summer. World: here I come!

Kisses xxx

P.S. One Photo and Twenty words is hosted by the lovely Abi over at Creating Paper Dreams.  Stop by for more pictures and stories.

Monday, 6 July 2015

high tea of highgate

It's lovely to indulge in a spot of tea and cake, and during May, I spent a lovely morning whiling away the hours with friends at High Tea of Highgate.  Safe to say I will be going again for three reasons: 1) They have a wide-ranging selection of delicious tea, 2) They have delicious cake, and 3) It is pretty and a lovely place to take pictures.

I'm always drawn in by the mismatched vintage china look, and no matter how many places serve their tea this way, it's always extremely attractive.  We sat in the window and watched the world go by and nattered away, and it was lovely to have a little sprig of blooms nodding along.

I had a very tasty slice of carrot cake, and enjoyed no less than 3 pots of tea ranging from Russian Caravan to a flavoured, summery Earl Grey through to a delectable, marzipan-inflected, almond tea.  I'm all about the black tea served with milk, but their selection was huge and between us, we got to sample quite the number!  So if you're ever passing through this area of North London, I can highly recommend High Tea of Highgate.

Kisses xxx

P.S. It's finally summer!  Season of tea and cake and Pimm's and Guide camp and travelling and photography and blogging and every good thing!