Welcome to my new blog!

I already run a successful blog: www.leavingcairo.blogspot.com - a blog about an English girl the wrong side of 35 who finds herself settling (for the moment) in the beautiful country of Greece.
But there's more to Bex, the author - hence "The this 'n' that blog".
Documented here will be every day ramblings and observations - enjoy!



Saturday, 18 August 2012

Five Minute Friday - Stretch, Cat Yoga

It's that time again!  Write for five minutes, unedited about a topic.  Today's subject is - STRETCH.

One, two, three...GO!

Er, God, this is a difficult one today!  What to write about?  Well,  I have an obsession with cats and can waste many hours just watching them.  One that I looked after recently, Branston, was found in Athens Airport and I looked after him until he was re-homed permanently.
You can see him here, enjoying a Stretch (and Yawn as it turns out).

Cats are great eh?  Very versatile and can STRETCH into all sorts of places.  I often wonder if there's a cat equivalent to yoga - some of their 'poses' look like Yoga ones.


Friday, 10 August 2012

Five Minute Friday - Connect

This week, Five Minute Friday is all about Connect.  Five minutes to write.  No pausing, editing - just full on writing.  OK:


We all connect in different ways.  Which one is your favourite?  I now live in Athens, Greece away from my family in the UK and find the best way for me to connect is via Facebook, my blog or email (especially to my father who is clueless about blogs and Facebook).

Others prefer mobile phones.  Sometimes technology can be a bad thing though.  How many times have to witnessed (or done this yourself?) people sitting at a table in a cafe/restaurant all texting and not conversing with each other?  I've been guilty of it - but now when I meet a friend, I turn my phone off so I can give him/her my full attention.

Email is an interesting one: you can say so much more without FEAR.  Without fear of confrontation, recriminations and be a lot more expressive.  I've noticed my 78 year old father is much  more comfortable telling me he loves me in an email.  And ironically, this helps him when he sees me!  He has also become more affectionate & huggy.  I suspect the email has helped him express his emotions.

Me?  I prefer face to face where ever possible.  Things get lost in translation, communication can break down.

How about you?  How do you Connect?


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Where did all the REAL, GOOD men go?

At the end of the day, all a woman really wants is the
hunter type who'll keep her safe!  Forget this "new man" bollocks!
Source: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/42498.html
I mean, where are they?  You know the ones: they'd catch a rabbit, skin and cook it if they had to (we are coming to the end of the world this year, supposedly, after all).  They are so comfortable in themselves, they lack ego & don't need a bevy of women around them to flirt with them, to keep that ego inflated.
They talk to you without looking at your breasts, they hold an intelligent conversation yet can throw you around the bedroom (if you get what I mean).

Am I asking for too much?  Is there a certain age range I need to be looking at (IE: older men)?  I've been told older men are more comfortable with themselves...but I don't want a geriatric!

Eleni Zoe, a Greek blogger/author of "Hope Dies Last" laments these issues in better detail than I do.  I will ask her for some advice.  But if anyone has any in the meantime IE: where to look?  Nationalities preferred (I have to say, the Greeks are preferable as they're a lot rougher round the edges, less prissy and don't moisturise as much as the 'modern' man).


Friday, 27 July 2012

Five Minute Friday - Beyond

Today's topic for Five minute Friday is...Beyond. Write for five minutes, no editing, uninterrupted on this topic...OK...


Well, as you can see from this gorgeous skyline picture, I have spent the last few days in London, UK.  I am very excited by this picture because it doesn't just depict the City skyline, but what lays beyond is the Olympic Stadium!  And we all know the opening ceremony is tonight.

Now then, I was privileged to be invited to a tech rehearsal and show around the Olympic Stadium last Wednesday, but have been sworn to secrecy!  You'll just have to watch tonight.

There's a little lesson here too: always look 'beyond' the obvious and see the other side...look through the immediate to see beyond what's in front of our noses.  This will teach us tolerance and respect, make us better people in the long run.


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Five Minute Friday (but writing on a Saturday) - "Enough!" with negativity

Today's topic for Five minute Friday is...Enough. Write for five minutes, no editing, uninterrupted on this topic...OK...


Well, what should I blog about?  I like to try to keep my blogging upbeat, sometimes it'll stray into negativity at times though.

For example, "ENOUGH!" I say about all the negative twaddle that is coming out by the media about Greece & Spain.  Greece is a LOVELY country and perfectly safe for holidays!  I love Spain too - unfortunately these countries have been caught up in a maelstrom of negativity and it's like something/one is trying very hard (doesn't need to try too hard!) to discredit them for some reason.

OK, what else?  "ENOUGH!" about the Olympics! There has been a lot of negative hype in the newspapers about the 2012 Olympic Games regarding security, queues at LHR airport, etc.  But as my recent post shows, I think the up and coming Games might be quite exciting, especially the Opening Ceremony.

So, ENOUGH with the negativity people!!!


Dress Rehearsal of London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony

Yes!  Bex has been privileged to be invited on Wednesday 25th July to the Dress Rehearsal of the London Olympics Opening Ceremony!
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bensutherland/5595806897/

Don't ask me how - it is through a six degree of separation process. And I doubt I will be allowed to divulge much afterwards, but I can give you an indication, at least, as to whether it'll be any good (unless I am made to sign something! Spooky!)

Nevertheless, apparently the play list has been 'leaked.'  I know I have been sceptic of this Olympics, what with Border staff threatening to strike on 26th July and the debacle over Olympic security, but I have to say - I am excited about the prospect of a preview of the Opening Ceremony...if not because, let's be honest, I don't particularly feel patriotic (sorry, but I don't) - more because of the fact it'll be like going to an outdoor concert!  And I was looking for a good festival or concert to go to whilst visiting the UK, why not this one?!

I'll write what I can on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Queueless & British drunks

Yes!  I take my cap off in apology to the Olympics.  Due to recent media hype about immigration queues at LHR, I feared I would miss my train down to the West Country. 
But my fears were unfounded!  Arriving at about 7:45pm last night (Monday 16th, incidentally when an extra 10,000 people were supposed to pass through London for the Olympics), not a queue was in sight at Immigration.  I wanted to take a photo for you all, but that would NOT have been a good idea really now would it? (Especially as I have changed so much from my passport picture as well!).

Off I trot onto the uber efficient train system to Paddington station, to whisk me away to the West Country.  But NOT so uber efficient are their food or coffee outlets.  I was helpfully informed by a smiling barista in Starbucks that they close at 9pm, so I couldn't order (CLOSE AT 9??!  Don't forget I've been living in Greece, people - where things START TO OPEN at 9pm).

At least Costa is open 24 hrs.  I sit in the grim, chilly station - observing the world around me.  Alas Costa does not offer free Internet (unlike their Athens branches).  Ho hum, being internetless would probably do me good anyway for a bit.

I board my train - it pulls away at 9:45pm.  As it's the last train to the West Country that night, it stops at every single tiny station you can think of.  If the weather wasn't reminder enough that I was back 'home', at Bristol Temple Meads on jump about 7 youngish people (in their 30's) who've been to a concert and are absolutely rolling drunk.  And yes, they choose to sit opposite me.

Source: http://pixabay.com/en/sign-people-person-cartoon-danger-40363/

"I bet they get off at Bridgwater" I silently said to myself.  For those of you familiar with the West Country and Bridgwater, you'll understand why I thought that.

Actually, we had a really interesting chat and once I'd managed to ignore the overtures of one guy (and he got the hint that he wasn't really getting anywhere anyway), they were an interesting group.  They kept repeating how NICE I was, and how non-judgemental.
Well, to be honest  - they made my journey quite interesting and certainly gave me a lot to think about regarding cultural differences.  You see? Not even in the country 24 hrs and ALREADY subjected to drunkenness and potentially threatening behaviour.  They WEREN'T threatening at all, once you just spoke to them - but on the face of it they were.   BTW they did, indeed, get off at Bridgwater.

All this: weather, drunken people in their 30's shows me even more that I've made the right decision to stay in Greece - where people don't become aggressively drunk, where they don't PLAN to get drunk, are FRIENDLY drunks (if they do happen to get drunk) and where the sun shines almost 365 days of the year.

Still, it's good to be back for a while.  I will report back more when I go to London next week.  I'm looking forward to seeing my friends and attempting to get into Olympic mood.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

In London week before the Olympics

Source: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2293738
Hi everyone,

I usually blog from Athens, Greece but have a lovely trip planned home to the UK to see friends and family.  I will spend a few days in London with friends, but am wondering if this is such a good idea, with all the Olympic hype!

Anyway, for the next few days I will blog from there - let you all know the atmosphere, the weather (!) and whether those queues at LHR really are as bad as they say.

Speak to you all soon.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Five Minute Friday - Story

Source: http://cdryan.com/blog/living-the-dream/
Today's topic for Five minute Friday is...Story Write for five minutes, no editing, uninterrupted on this topic...OK...


The other day, I saw a trailer for Matt Damon's "We Bought A Zoo" . Now, I'm not a 'weepy' kinda film gal, but the part that made my ears prick up was when the little girl asks her dad

"Daddy, why don't you read me fairy stories anymore?"

"Because we're living a fairy story sweetheart."

I got to thinking about this concept of living your own story, living the dream.  Is it selfish to create your own story and live it?  That's exactly what I'm doing now: teaching and living in a foreign country.  I feel I'm living in a fairy story.  I've been living it for 3.5 years now (learning the language slowly, getting to know the locals, loving the kids and adults I teach and occasionally writing about it) - but because it's not a 9-5 Monday to Friday existence in drizzly rain, I feel like my life is one big fairy story, and I will awaken with a rude bump one day.

But life doesn't HAVE to be like that.  I am slowly coming around to the fact that it's OK to live your life as YOU want, not how others perceive it should be.

So if there's always something you've wanted to do, make that change in your life, live YOUR life.  Make and create your real, living story.


Friday, 29 June 2012

Five Minute Friday - Dance, Greek style.

Today's topic for Five minute Friday is...Dance. Write for five minutes, no editing, uninterrupted on this topic...OK...


Now then - as you will know from my other blog Leaving Cairo, I am a British gal who lives in Athens, Greece.  Greece is a beautiful country and the Greeks know how to live life.  Part of that living life includes dancing.

Source: http://www.livinginrhodes.com/News.aspx?Page=2
A particular favourite is the traditional dance as seen on "Zorba" - but contrary to popular belief, Greeks do not throw plates.  No, they clap and throw rose petals and this dance is usually performed by a man or a woman in a circle of people - then perform this for the one they love.

Dance can be used across all cultures -  African, Aboriginal, Native American Indian - to celebrate anything: a great feast, a wedding, a successful hunt or, in Greece's case - just a pure celebration of a love of life.

If only we could all rid ourselves of our self consciousness without the aid of alcohol and just DANCE, uninhibited.  We can learn a lot from the Greeks.


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

It's the little things...

I was travelling to work today on the trolley (the Greek name for the yellow 'buses' that run on electricity) and two things made me smile:

1) An old man gets off the trolley at his stop - looks around him and passes his still valid ticket to a person about to board.  The person thanks him very much.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TrolleyBusPiraeus.jpg
(In Athens, you buy a public transport ticket for 1.40 or 1.20 and stamp it in the machine upon entry of said transport.  It stamps a time on it and your tkt is valid for 90 mins of travel from the time you stamped it.  So, obviously once you've finished your journey and there's still time left, it's nice to give your ticket away - I've done it in the past and had it done to me too).

2) Same old man sees a homeless person on the street (an increasing number unforutnately of late), and stops to chat to him and give him some small change and a cigarette.
OK, this isn't going to stop the man being homeless, but it's the compassion that made me smile, the humanity displayed.

Keep it up Greece - don't let the IMF and Germany strip you of your dignity and human spirit.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Travelling to Hong Kong by container ship!

Remember back in February I posted about my proposed trip by container ship to Australia? I then further investigated my fears about this, especially given the pirate activity in the Indian Ocean.

Photo courtesy of Darren B. Hillman at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dazzy1960/5922809930/sizes/m/in/photostream/
Not my exact ship, but the same Container company

Anyway, after discussions with the shipping agent and a long think, plus that discussion with my father, I decided to go for it!  So today, I have placed a deposit for a proposed July 2013 departure date.  However, having looked at finances, I will not be going as far as Australia.  I will take the following route:

m/v Ever Chivalry:
Thamesport (2 Days)
Piräus (10 Days)
Suezkanal (12 Days)
Jeddah (15 Days)
Colombo (23 Days)
Tanjung Pelepas (28 Days)
Kaohsiung (34 Days)
Ningpo (36 Days)
Shanghai (37 Days)
Taipei (39 Days)
Hongkong (41 Days)
Yantian (42 Days)
Tanjung Pelepas (46 Days)
Colombo (50 Days)
Jeddah (56 Days)
Suezkanal (58 Days)
Piräus (60 Days)
Rotterdam (68 Days)
Hamburg (70 Days)
In purple is the route I will take - so in total: 31 days from Piraeus to Hong Kong and spend a few days in Hong Kong.  
Looking at this itinerary, the longest stretch at sea will be between Jeddah and Colombo (8 days) and then Tanjung Pelepas to Kaohsiung (6 days).
How will I spend my days I wonder?  Well, don't forget I've already travelled by container ship across the Atlantic, so I am aware of what to expect.  It's a good job I now have a Kindle to store loads of good reading material before I go - plus write up a fantastic log of my journey!
Am I excited?  Oh yes!  My next question: does anybody know anybody in Hong Kong who'd like to show me around?  Or any idea of affordable accommodation?

And if any publication is interested in featuring my journey, do please get in touch.  I would love to hear from you.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Five Minute Friday - Risk - Life in Greece

Today's topic for Five minute Friday is...Risk.  Write for five minutes, no editing, uninterrupted on this topic...OK...


People think that I take a risk living my life the way I do.  It's no big deal, I am a qualified English Language teacher and enjoy teaching in different cultures.  I have had the pleasure of being about to teach in countries as diverse as Sri Lanka, Egypt and currently, Greece. 
People turn their noses up when they hear I live in Greece, especially when they hear Athens.

"Isn't there a RISK living there?"

Well, isn't it a risk stepping outside your front door every day, wherever you are in the world?   It's not a dangerous country - the people here are friendly, helpful and beyond all that, HUMANE.

Yes, it can be risky - just like in your own countries.  But where would we be in life if we didn't take risks? I took a risk, coming to a strange country to work - and I love it.  It's taught me humanity, broadened my mind and tonight, I will even be supporting my adopted country in the EURO 2012 football (Greece vs Germany).

So go on people - take a risk in life. Don't let fear hold you back.  You could learn something about yourself in the process.


5 Minute Friday - PATH

I've joined a Friday challenge: a 5 minute Friday challenge to write about a topic for 5 minutes, completely unedited, etc.

So - here goes!

PATH is today's topic.  My path, I thought, was set out for me.  I had a good job in London, my flat, the car, the cat, etc.  But was I happy?  NO!  I kept feeling something was missing.
Always one to get itchy feet, I assumed as I 'matured' I'd get rid of this feeling, but it just grew.  I got miserable in my job until eventually, in my 30's, I jacked it all in - went to University and am now living in Athens, Greece after having re-trained as an EFL teacher.

Am I happy - you bet!  Is my life secure?  Not really, but then that was what was missing for me - I need a sense of 'insecurity' in a way.  Luckily I don't have kids yet, otherwise that'd surely change.

So it seems my Path has changed, and I am grateful.  Or maybe this was always meant to be my path, but I was on the wrong one originally!  I'm glad I've found my 'Itheca' - my path.  And just because your path might be vastly different from those around you, don't think it's a wrong path.

Whew!  5 minutes isn't a long time eh?

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Across the Atlantic

I've been promising this post for a long time now - my adventures across the Atlantic. 
Sorry I've neglected this blog for a while - the month of April saw me busy with the A-Z Blogging Challenge here.
So here it is!  Enjoy...

Our route

“You’re going WHERE?” enquired friends.  It was not so much my destination(s) that fascinated them: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Colombia and Costa Rica – rather the fact I had chosen to get there by ship, no – not a cruise ship but a passenger on a Del Monte ‘banana boat’…a container ship if you will.

            “But why?” asked my father.

            “The journey’s all part of the fun…besides, you should understand, being an ex man of the sea.”  Having been nurtured since birth on stories of the great high seas and countries afar, my wanderlust for all things original had certainly been, in part, from his gene pool.

Boarding the ship
            I boarded the Hornlinie German Del Monte ship in Le Havre.  Registered in Liberia, she was an impressive sight – the bridge aft with the containers forward of that and as I was lead up the gangplank by Stewerd Slava, I felt a growing excitement well up inside:  5 weeks round trip – 11 days at sea until our first port of call: Guadeloupe.

My cabin
            My private cabin rivalled that of any cruise ship – champagne and flowers greeting me.  Unpacking I opened my cabin door at the knock and found a German couple standing there: Bernd and Christina from Breman.  They helpfully advised that there were 5 other passengers, the rest would be crew.  Bliss - only 8 of us!

            My days were spent writing, reading, being shown around and educated about the hold: cargo included electronics’ and cars to the Caribbean, swimming in the small outdoor exercise pool and chatting to the Latvian Captain on the Bridge.  I inadvertently found myself thrown into the unofficial role of EFL teacher to the crew – a new career opening, perhaps?

Fire drill training
Not 'haute cuisine', but delicious nontheless!

Captain & Pilot on the Bridge

            Eating with the senior crew three times a day – salads for lunch, delicious meat and fish dishes for dinner and experiencing sunrise and sunset at sea is an experience beyond explanation.  The captain explained in his 25 years of sailing, he had never missed a sunset – always hoping to catch a glimpse of refraction…that green light that bounces off the horizon when the sun hits – he’s only ever seen it twice, and no such luck for me either that trip – proving just how rare this phenomenon was.

            24 hr stops at our destinations allowed just enough time to tour the main sights: bustling local markets of the French Antilles, colonial architecture and the Walled city of Cartagena as well as armed guards with Alsatians tending our ship at Turbo, Colombia (pretty scary, but we were well looked after).

Loading in Turbo, Colombia

For me, the biggest impact of this trip was the sense of peace being at sea affords you: how life is put into perspective out here.  Seamen are quite spiritual people deep down, despite this crew’s Eastern European dour demeanour.  These 5 weeks spent at sea with them – I am starting to see the appeal.

Sunrise - day 1

Hence my decision to undertake another trip in the summer of 2013 - read about my proposed plans here.

Thank you, Kevin Griffiths at the The Cruise People for organising.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A not so conventional person?

I had a very odd conversation with my dad yesterday on the phone.

Me: "Hi dad"
Dad: "Hi love - I'll call you back." (Bless!  Even at my age, he still likes to save me money)
Me: "Hi again.  Have you heard what's happened in the Maldives?" Click here to see the story
Dad: "Yes - are you worried?"

(For those of you who might be wondering why I might be worried, see my past post about my planned trip next year).

Me: "Yes! But when I went across the Atlantic by container, we were in danger in Colombia too."
Dad: "Yes, but that was from drug lords - this is pirates.
Me: "My agent's told me the ships they take passengers on go at twice the speed of the taken ship, have armed escorts and are high sided."
Dad: "Yes, he's trying to tell you those ships aren't as easy to board.  Listen, there's an element of risk either way - you just have to decide if you want to do it."

THAT'S when I had my thunderbolt moment: I'm a woman in her late 30's, not married, no kids  planning a trip to Oz by container ship from Greece through some bl**dy dangerous waters. WHAT a bizarre conversation to be having.  How many other people would be having this sort of conversation with their dads? 

Do I have a death wish?  I know I have a slightly unhealthy desire to 'be different' and non-conventional, but am I pushing boundaries?
Clearly not too unusual as my agent's told me the trips get booked up with passengers up to a year in advance (let me make myself clear, this is NOT a cruise ship, it's a container ship passage).
Obviously, then, there are people out there like me who also take these trips.

The thing that makes me chuckle is the very laconic style of our conversation (my dad and I).
We finish off with:

Dad: "The problem comes is with the guns.  Clearly you don't want to get shot."
Me: "Hmmmm, clearly not, no. 
Dad: "If it comes to it, the crew will tell you to stay inside, and you must do so, understand?"
Me: "Sure - my agent had also said the problem is with the stupid passengers who want too much adventure and go out on deck."
Dad: "Good, so if you follow your instructions of the Captain, you shouldn't get shot at" (said in a very conversational tone I might add).
Me: "Yes, this might be the one time in my life I actually do as I'm told!"

I will have a serious think about this trip, stay in touch with my agent and keep myself well informed.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Volunteerism and the Kindle

What do I mean by my title?  Well, those that follow this blog (and for all things Greek, don't forget my other superbly popular blog), you'll know in recent posts I've been debating the merits of the Kindle and have drawn the conclusion that I actually read more now (it's just so much EASIER) - yet if I come across a good paperback, will not rule out the chance to devour one.
Image courtesy of: www.inside.org.au

So!  My latest excellent Kindle read?  This fantastic adventure by Tony James Slater (who hails not far from my native part of the UK I hasten to add!), about life as an animal volunteer in Equador. 
It was a book close to my heart as I, too, had spent time in a developing country (Sri Lanka) volunteering, albeit as an English Teacher (I sense another blog post coming on for all you interested readers).  I contacted Tony through his Facebook page to congratulate and thank him for such an entertaining read (and at such a good price too!)
He very kindly responded to me and, as a fellow blogger and trying to get my own novel off the ground, has offered support in any way he can.  Ahhhh - these writers, they're a nice bunch really aren't they?

What am I reading now?  I just HAD to purchase the adventures of a flight attendant, "Around the World in a Bad Mood" and to be honest, I was up 'till 3am reading it!

Thanks, Kindle.  I hope you don't - after the Honeymoon period, decide to up the prices significantly of your books (at least wait 'till I get mine out there!)

Happy Reading everyone!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Oscars - and what IS it about Angelina Jolie??

I should warn you now - if you are a fan of 'that woman,' please read no further...you won't like this post.  I shall try, I promise, to remain a little balanced (emphasis on the 'little' I'm afraid).

OK, what has prompted Bex's outpouring on this page THIS time?  Well, last night I went round to a lovely friend's house, sat down to a delicious Clean Monday meal (Clean Monday, a public holiday in Greece and a blog post of its own) and then settled in to watch The Oscars that she'd recorded the night before.

Ahhhh, Billy Crystal - don't you just love him??  Such a natural, and perfectly happy to take the p*ss out of himself (to non-native speakers of English: to 'take the piss' means to make jokes at your own expense).
But that Angelina is another personality entirely!!!  First off, I think she takes herself WAAAAAAAAAAY too seriously.  Now to be balanced: OK, no doubt she's beautiful (purely aesthetically speaking) and I remember her in films like "Girl, Interrupted" and in her earlier career, "Pushing Tin" with the very talented Billy Bob [Thornton] and my fave, John Cusack (where's he recently??).
Interestingly I note from those films (especially the latter), she has a slightly fuller figure - and looks 100 TIMES BETTER than these days!  I couldn't help it, as I watched Angelia (before her presentation of the Writer's award), I let slip a groan:
"Ohhh GOD!  That woman doesn't have a genuine bone in her body!  Everything about her is staged" and realised :
'OOps!  I'm a guest in my friend's house and she might like her, plus my friend's just fed me, so I might be considered a bit rude!'
I needn't have worried - my friend also let out a torrent of abuse, culminating in:

"She looks like a lollipop." 

OK, see what you think:
Angelina Jolie


I'm trying to get you to all see how thin her body is, compared to her head.
Thanks to my friend for the comment - it made me laugh out loud.

Oh, THEN she came up on stage to present the Best Screenwriters award.  Up she saunters, and takes about 15 seconds to 'arrange' herself.  This 'arrangement' consisted of her left hand on left hip, whilst her right leg sticks out of her dress.
Now, at first I thought she was 'taking the piss' out of herself - but no!  Apparently this woman takes herself very seriously (and takes her right knobbly leg seriously too) and was 'stricking a pose.'

With Madonna's "Vogue" going off in my head, I looked incredulously at my friend and we just watched, struck dumb as she proceeded to present the Award. 

BUT (and this is the piece de resistance):

The Screenwriters were seemingly of the same opinion  as my friend and I (and most of the world?) and "took the piss" out of her!  See this Angelina Jolie Leg clip.  At least these men have a sense of humour!

So what do you think?  Who would you rather have a conversation with?  Angelia Jolie, or Cameron Diaz?  I adore this woman personally:  genuine, a slight pose - but seems down to earth and an all round adorable person (I am turning Greek, I just want to pinch her gorgeous cheeks in between my finger and thumb and kiss her, bless!)

Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Container ship anyone??

Those who've read earlier posts will know that I love the sea, and yes, a few years ago I travelled across the Atlantic to the Caribbean by container ship.  I will write a separate post about this soon, I promise.

But now I am considering the ultimate: from Piraeus in Greece (where I am currently) to Melbourne to visit family, but it has to be on 2 ships, via Korea.

Am I mad???  Do I have the money more like.  I will have to look into it some more.  But let's get back to the 'Are you mad??' bit:
No, I don't think I am actually.  It is clear that there is room for passengers on such a journey, and surely the journey is all part of the adventure, not just getting from A to B.

One thing my first experience of a container ship voyage taught me: it's an incredibly humbling experience, being amongst and at the mercy of the elements and Mother Nature.  And sea faring men are very gentle, if not spiritual creatures (despite their gate, build and dour expressions).
And besides, isn't it always nice to try to do something a little different?  And I'll have plenty to write about!

So!  Take a look at this route:

Piraeus                   Day 10 (journey starts in Thamesport)
Suez Canal             Day 12
Jeddah                    Day 15
Colombo                Day 23
Tanjung Pelepas    Day 28
Kaohsiung             Day 34 (24 days total to Kaohsiung)


Kaohsiung - Melbourne 11 days on HANJIN PRETORIA
No stops, so 11 days straight at sea.

I better get my world atlas out!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

An update about how we read in this digital era

Thumbnail for version as of 17:57, 16 May 2011
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Amazon_Kindle_logo.svg

A while back, I wrote a post about Kindles and whether we'd see the demise of the good old fashioned bookshop.  I received numerous thoughts and comment, all very interesting points to ponder.
One person commented that he/she used it maybe once, then it got put to the side and forgotten about.
I have to say, since I've had mine (from late December 2011), I have devoured approximately 7 books so far, OK - one was a 'novella' but still.

I got to thinking: does this mean I now value quantity over quality?  Well no, I loved every single book I read, plus the Kindle price was much cheaper.  Here are a list of books I've read and would recommend:

"Are we nearly there yet?" by Ben Hatch
A family's adventure traversing the UK

"Greeks bearing gifts" and Poseidon's Trident, both by Patricia Fenn.  A humorous and ironic read and especially poignant for me as I live in Greece now.

 "Breakfast at the Hotel DeJa Vu" (sorry for the lack of accents) by the ever marvellous Paul Torday.  A Political fiction writer, he certainly makes you think.    This one was a novella/short story.  He's actual claim to fame was "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen", a book I'd highly recommend.

And one I've just finished: "The Woman Before Me" by Ruth Dugall.  Brilliantly priced at just £0.99!

OK, not all Kindle books are that cheap - and I STILL stand by my slight fear that those lovely bookshops with the coffee shops will disappear - but I still like to read paperbacks too.  Actually, think about it - do you buy paperbacks from bookshops even now, or order them on Amazon??  To me, the bookshop is a lovely quiet 'institution' that I hope will never die out - kind of like old Vinyl record stores (but one can't buy coffee there - unless anyone knows of an old LP shop which has a coffee shop out back?)

As ever, comments please.

Oh!  And enjoy this little link about the good old book: 

Long live the book!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A Green Tortoise trip across the States

What's a Green Tortoise?  An animal (crustation??) Well, as I've mentioned here and in my other blog, I've done a lot of travel.  One of my best memories was on board a renovated 1960's Greyhound bus, called the Green Tortoise.  They offered various trips, the one I chose, after an exhausting flight from Fiji to Los Angeles, was a West - East coast trip across the States.
The bus set up was made so that one could sit at tables during the day, and at night converted into one mass sleeping centre.  Here, in pictures (some courtesy of Sarah Williams, fellow traveller as I didn't have a digital camera in 2004, date of this trip) are some of the beautiful highlights:

Our route

Las Vegas baby!!

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon sunset

White Sands National Park (with bus in the background)

White Sands National Park

So if you're looking for a trip where you'll get to experience the highlights of the States in approx. 2.5 weeks, get to meet fantastic people (some of who I am still in touch with 8 years on) and are not a fan of big hotel chains and don't mind pitching in, helping cook delicious meals (all food bought from Trader Joe's - good quality) - this is the trip for you!

Monday, 9 January 2012

What is it about the sea?

I've been debating which of my blogs to write this - and decided here is best.  Yes, it does involve Greece, but is a general topic so I thought I'd share it with my avid followers here :0)

Yesterday was a sunny day in Athens, but COLD.  Ohhhhhh so cold.  Many might think that Greece is hot and sunny all year round, but in the winter it can be cold - mainly because it's humid, hence the air gets wet and into your bones.

Being as it was so sunny, I had the choice: go for a walk in the Park and have a hot chocolate, or do the same by the sea.  I decided on the latter - and was so glad I did.

Hopping on the tram, I meandered my way down to the coast and watched the mixture of classical and grey buildings whizz by.  After about 30 minutes, these buildings start thinning out, we turn a corner and there - I am confronted with the sea finally.  I IMMEDIATELY felt my spirits lift.  There's something so peaceful about the sea that I can understand one wanting to make their livelihood from it or on it.

There's something beautiful about the Mediterranean sea, even in winter
Sunday blues banished - the mixture of setting sun on the horizon is beautiful.
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