Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Photo an hour: 22 May 2016

This time I didn’t completely fail to realise photo an hour was happening! I have failed to get my post about it written until today, though. Baby steps…

Here’s how my Saturday went.

10 a.m.(ish). Instead of the usual tea cup, here’s the top of my tea tin. As always the day started with a cuppa.

11 a.m. We have a dishwasher so why do I still seem to spend half my life doing washing up?

12 noon. Finally off for a shower. Is there an exciting way to photograph a shower?

1 p.m. Deciding what to eat for lunch. I went with crackers and cream cheese, in case you care.

2 p.m. Washing down lunch with more tea. Herbal this time.

3 p.m. Folding some clean laundry while I wait for Jan to stop watching TV and get in the shower.

4 p.m. Fiiinally getting ready to leave. The shoes are on!

5 p.m. We decided to walk into town then got distracted by the botanic gardens.

Bonus! My final total number of photos wasn’t even and we can’t be having that, so here’s a lizard we spotted in the botanic gardens.

6 p.m. Street food festival! Having a wander round deciding what to eat first. We didn’t have any of that meat on sticks, but I was next to them at 6 p.m.

7 p.m. Eating sweet potato sticks. They were disappointed – I mostly tasted sesame seeds.

8 p.m. We had just set foot on the bridge when I heard the clock striking 8, so I took a picture of the Rhine. Not the best photo from a technical standpoint, but I kind of like it.

9 p.m. Back home. Jan put football on and I kind of half watched while surfing the Internet on my tablet.

10 p.m. In bed with The Grapes of Wrath. Depressing book!

And that was all. I was actually still awake at 11 p.m. but my camera was across the room and I was too lazy to fetch it.

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as usual.


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Friday letters

Woah, it’s Friday already and I haven’t posted since Sunday! Sorry about that. Bad blogger. I need to get back to writing about New Zealand, but this week has consisted mainly of overtime and being too tiiiired to even contemplate doing anything other than work and then make dinner in the evening. We did receive our new chest of drawers on Wednesday though, which Jan put together after work that day and I filled with clothes yesterday, so that’s something. Anyway, since it’s Friday, here are some letters for you.

Eye'm watching you...

Dear bedroom. In just 35 little days the wardrobe will be delivered then we can finally unpack the rest of the clothes and rid you of boxes for good! Sorry it’s taken so long!

Dear tuna pasta bake. I love that you are both easy to make and relatively healthy. You were my saviour the other day when even the thought of chopping or peeling anything made me want to go straight to bed!

Dear sun. Oh, hi! I don’t suppose you feel like sticking around for the weekend?

Dear scales. You’re so mean! I thought I’d been doing a reasonable job of eating healthily recently, but you had to go and tell me that I’ve put on another kilogram! No wonder the skirt I wanted to wear last Saturday refused to go over my bum…

Dear fellow bloggers. If I usually comment on your blog regularly and haven’t recently I apologise! I’ll get to you soon, promise!

Have a great weekend everyone, whatever you have planned! There’s a street food festival happening here, which I can see being spectacularly unhelpful for my mission to get these extra kgs back off…

 


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Summer Book Challenge 2016 preliminary list

It’s summer reading challenge time again! Well, nearly. I can’t start reading my books yet, but the categories have been released so I can decide what I’m going to read. This time, the number of pages has been cut down from 200 to 150, which is nice. Although I plan to use the challenge to try and make some progress with the BBC Big Read and most of the books on there are loooong!

As usual, we start with the rules:

General rules:

  • The challenge will run from June 1, 2016, to August 31, 2016. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on June 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on August 31 will count.
  • Each book must be at least 150 pages long. Audiobooks and large-print books are fine, as long as the regular print version meets the length requirement.
  • A book can only be used for one category, and each category can only be completed once.
  • The highest possible total is 200 points, and the first five people who finish the challenge will be invited to contribute a category for the winter 2016 challenge.

Okay, formalities out of the way. Now for the most exciting part. Categories!

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long. Like I said, BBC Big Read, so I’m thinking I’ll go with The Color Purple by Alice Walker

10 points: Read a collection of short stories or essays. They may all be written by the same author, or the book may be an anthology from different writers; your choice! Maybe Different Seasons by Stephen King since it’s been sitting on my shelf for a while. Provided novellas count as short stories, that is. It’s a collection anyway.

10 points: Read an adult fiction book written by an author who normally writes books for children. Examples: J. K. Rowling, Judy Blume, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, etc. – Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Kelly E. Umm, maybe something by Judy Blume? I have nothing on my shelves so whatever I choose will have to be purchased. TBC.

15 points: Read a book set in Appalachia. – Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Ericka B. (Try this list or this one for inspiration. And here’s a map if you have a book in mind and want to know if it fits the setting.) No idea! I’ll have to check those lists and see if anything looks interesting. TBC.

15 points: Don’t judge a book by its cover! Read a book with a cover you personally find unappealing. I will need to look at some covers for this, but I’m hoping I can make it a Big Read book. TBC.

20 points: Read a book that you have previously only seen the film (movie) of. – Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Bevchen. Hey look, my category! Usually I read the book first, but I’ve definitely seen a few films and only realised later that they were based on books. I have two options for this: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby or Papillon by Henri Charrière.

25 points: Read a book with a punny title. The title can be a play on another book title, movie title or a common expression. Examples of such titles include Southern Discomfort, We’ll Always Have Parrots or Bonefire of the Vanities. – Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Jamie G. I will let you know when I find something:-) TBC.

30 points: Read a microhistory. (Try this list or this one for ideas.) I had no idea what a microhistory was, but having looked at that list it seems I already own some! I have yet to read The Potato by Larry Zuckerman or Swindled by Bee Wilson so I’ll probably make it one of those.

30 points: Read one book with a good word in the title, and one with a bad word. Note: This category is reeeeeeeally open-ended! Maybe you like turtles, so The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a title with a “good” word. Similarly, the “bad” word could be a swear word or a literally negative word like “not” or “none,” or it could just be something you don’t like. Have fun with it! (Remember, you must read both books to get 30 points; this category is not worth 15 points per book.) I’m thinking I might go reeaally literal with this one and make my bad wrd something like “war” and my good word “happiness” or similar. I haven’t picked specific books yet, though. TBC.

40 points: Read two books that contain the same word in the title, but once in the singular and once in the plural. For example: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter and The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer, or Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. (Remember, you must read both books to get 40 points; this category is not worth 20 points per book.) I have a few ideas for this one. Trying to make it fit the Big Read, so I’m thinking Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson and The Secret History by Donna Tartt. The Old Man and the Sea and Two Men in a Boat are also options.

That’s all of this year’s categories. Looks like it’s going to be an interesting one! Roll on the 1st of June!

Are you joining in? You can link up your preliminary list or get ideas from everyone else’s here.


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Friday letters

It will be a short Friday letters today because I have a big, difficult translation at the moment and I need to cut my lunch break short then work longer tonight to make sure it’s done in time. I do get a long weekend to make up for it though. Thank you Whit Monday😀

Mailbox

Dear Eurovision. I’ve purposely avoided all your semi-finals and things so I have no idea what to expect tomorrow. I can’t wait to revel in your cheesiness!

Dear weather. How very kind of you to turn awful just in time for the long weekend. (In case you didn’t get it, yes that was sarcasm!)

Dear new chest of drawers. I’m so excited for you to arrive next week! Hurry up, Wednesday. (Although, on second thoughts, don’t hurry too much. I want t enjoy my long weekend.)

Dear bulgur wheat. How did it take me so long to discover you? Since moving to Switzerland you’ve become a staple in our household. A delicious, easy to cook staple.

Dear summer reading challenge. The category list comes out this Sunday you say? Ooooh!

Happy Friday everyone. I’m off to eat a quick lunch. Hope your weekend is fabulous!


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Inside the Theme: Woodland Fantasy

inside-the-theme

I’m going to do something a bit different today…

A while ago I mentioned that I had signed up for a geeky pen pals site. But the IGGPPC is so much more than just a place to find pen pals. There are forums where you can chat and a blog that discusses the latest happenings in the geeky world (new computer games, books, films, TV shows…). Each month, there is also a different theme including various activities to go along with it, such as a watch-along of a film (everyone watches a film at the same time and tweets about it). There is also a set of questions to go along with the theme. This month, the theme is Woodland Fantasy and I liked the questions so much that I’ve decided to answer them on my blog.

 

  • What is your favourite fantasy story, and what’s so great about it?That’s a difficult one to answer, but I think I’d have to go with Discworld. Pratchett was such an excellent writer. I love his humour, the way he incorporates elements of our world into his Discworld, managing to look at society critically while still being funny. The way he brings his characters to life. His descriptions. Just… everything about the series. Please don’t ask me to pick a specific book though!
  • What was your first experience with fantasy?It depends what you consider fantasy, I suppose. If animals that talk and dress in human clothing are fantasy then it was probably Beatrix Potter’s books. Otherwise it would have been something by Enid Blyton – maybe The Wishing Chair? Or it could have been Disney’s Alice in Wonderland – my favourite film as a child! Then again, there was also Bananaman and Superted. Which came first, books or cartoons? Hmm.
  • Modern technology allows fantasy stories to be told in a variety of different mediums now; do you prefer diving into a good old fashioned book, reading a colorful comic, yelling at your videogames while bathing in the blood of your virtual enemies, or snacking on all the popcorns in front of your TV or at the movies? (Listening to troubadours performing the ballad of Beowulf is also a totally valid choice.)Regular readers probably won’t need to be told this, but for me it’s definitely books! Real ones… no Kindles here, thank you. I do like a good fantasy film occasionally though.
  • Pets are a very popular choice in fantasy. Because pets are awesome. Which magical pet would you most like to adopt? (You can either go with a kind of creature, or a specific pet from a specific story you wouldn’t mind moving in with you – because let’s face it, we all want Toothless as a bestie.)Dragon Eastside GalleryA dragon! Party because of the relationship between the dragons and their riders in the Dragonlance series, and partly because of Toothless. I mean… who doesn’t want a Toothless of their very own? Obviously I’m assuming I would have somewhere to keep said dragon and that it would either be harmless (no fire-breathing!) or very, very tame!
  • Your RPG play style: alignment, faction, race, and class. Do you play tabletop style or in a digital medium?I play a wizard in Warhammer Quest. Never anything else. I’ve also played the original Warhammer (the one with the huge table filled with different armies) where I was dwarves. I prefer Warhammer Quest though. I’ve never actually played Dungeons and Dragons, the original roleplaying game! And neither have I played on of the various computer-based versions (World of Warcraft or whatever).

So there you have it. Feel free to answer the questions yourself if you want – there’s no need to sign up to the website to do so!


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Canyon swing, canyon jet and Queenstown

I am going to use this post to tell you about our final day on New Zealand’s south island and also for some general photos of Queenstown that I took on various evenings throughout the week.

As you may know, Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. Actually, they claim to be the adventure capital of the world… If you’re interested in bungee jumping, paragliding or white water rafting (to name just a few examples), Queenstown is a pretty good place to be!

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Paragliders over Ben Lomond

We decided that we should partake in some adventure tourism before leaving the south island, so we booked the Shotover Canyon “Double Shot”, which meant the canyon swing and canyon jet for a special price (cheaper than booking each thing separately). We were told to be at the Shotover Canyon shop half an hour before our booking, which we did. There, we were weighed and waited around a bit for the rest of our group to arrive before being driven up to the top of the cliff that we would be swinging from. Jan and I decided to do a tandem swing and I’m a wimp so we chose the least scary version, The Cutaway, where they lower you over the edge of the platform and then pull the pin so you fall down (the next least-scary option is jumping forwards). Neither of us wanted to go backwards because we actually wanted to see the view as well as having the adrenaline rush.

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The above photo shows the platform you swing from with the canyon below. We couldn’t take a camera with us on our swing (you are allowed a GoPro if you have a proper wrist strap for it, but neither of us own such a thing), but after our swing I took some photos of other people from our group. I think it’s okay to use them here since they’re too far away to be identifiable.

The initial freefall is 60m, but it seems much shorter… it was over so fast! I didn’t even scream when they let us go because my breath was literally taken away! After the freefall, you swing around at the end of the wire for a bit before being brought back up. Various jumping methods are available, including diving head first or going down a slide. For a small fee, you can do a second jump, but we chose not to since we had already spent a lot and had a whole week of north island to go!

Once everyone in our group had finished their jumps and purchased whatever photos/videos they wanted, we headed back to the van. Everyone else went back into town while we were dropped off at the canyon jet. Again, we couldn’t take any photos – all our possessions had to be placed in lockers so they wouldn’t get wet or fall out of the boat! But here are some photos of where we went and of one of the boats:

The jet ride was really fun! The driver (captain?) of the boat stopped a few times to tell us where we were and give us some information about the area and the views down in the canyon were absolutely spectacular! I so wish I could have taken photos. The only annoying part was that we had a lady behind us who would not stop screaming and carrying on! The driver used hand signals to indicate when he was about to do a 360° turn because we were supposed to hold on and brace ourselves at those times, and every time he did the signal the annoying woman would start screaming before we even started the turn (he gave us plenty of warning). Gah!! I thought the turns were fun. The worst part for me was when we went over huge rocks  because there wasn’t much warning there. We were right at the front of the boat and I got jolted around quite a lot! I can definitely recommend the Shotover Jet though.

After our jet ride, we took the free bus back into town where we decided to have a relatively relaxing afternoon. We went for lunch at an organic café called Rehab then went to play Frisbee/disc golf in Queenstown Gardens. We then took the gondola up Ben Lomond for some evening views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain ranges.

I also found some more of my little friends the Paradise Shelducks. These ones were much easier to photograph than the ones in the Gardens and I spent ages trying to get a shot of them that I was happy with.

After taking the gondola back down, we tried to go to the Queenstown Birdlife Park to see the Kiwis, but it turned out to be closed (Good Friday!) so instead we went for dinner.

And now, as promised, some of the photos I took of Queenstown at various other points during the week:

Photo overload! Gallery two below:

Finally, I shall leave you with a photo of the full moon… which from our point of view was upside down!

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As you can hopefully see, despite being incredibly touristy and not really feeling “real” (I would like to know where the actual residents live/eat/shop!), Queenstown is a beautiful. There aren’t many of the original buildings left, but the builders have done a pretty good job of making everything feel quaint and not too modern. As a base for exploring Milford Sound, the Central Otago region and other parts of southern south island, I can definitely recommend Queenstown!

That was the end of our time on the south island. The next day we returned the rental car and then spent most of the morning at Queenstown airport waiting around because all flights in and out had been delayed due to fog! Watch out for my north island posts coming soon…


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Arrowtown and South Island’s south coast

Day four on New Zealand’s south island saw us deciding to take the poor, neglected car for a drive – it had been sitting around doing nothing since our trip out to Paradise the day we arrived in Queenstown! The plan was to head to Arrowtown first and then drive down to the south coast. An excellent plan as it turned out – we had glorious sunshine all day while it poured down in Queenstown!

A former gold mining town located on the banks of the Arrow River, Arrowtown is mostly famous for its gorgeous autumn foliage. Unfortunately, we were a few weeks too early and the leaves were only just starting to change colour. The town itself is quaint though.

After leaving Arrowtown, we took state highway 6, which leads past Lake Wakatipu. The weather was starting to turn by this point and I was almost blown away taking the following photos:

Look how low the clouds were!

As we continued driving, the weather got continually worse and when we stopped for a cuppa we had to run from the car to the cafe! I would like to tell you where we stopped because we had an amazing vegetable scone there, but I can’t remember the name of the place. Sorry!

Next, we drove down to Invercargill, but it didn’t look that interesting so instead of stopping there we drove straight through to Stirling Point, in the town of Bluff. By this time, the weather was amazing! Here, photos:

There’s a lighthouse at Stirling Point, which was built in 1912. There’s also some art sculpture thing, consisting of a giant chain with an anchor at the end. From Stirling Point, you can see Dog Island, which houses New Zealand’s tallest lighthouse. The island has been uninhabited since 1989 when the lighthouse was automated.

Our next stop was another lighthouse, this time at Waipapa Point. First a few photos that I took from the car park:

Sheep and farms, grass and sheep. So very New Zealand! (Could also be Ireland…)

Now some photos of the lighthouse and the sea and stuff:

I took many photos of the lighthouse, from every possible angle. I’ve spared you most of them – be grateful!

We left the lighthouse and drove on for another half an hour until we reached Curio Bay, famous for being the site of a petrified (i.e. fossilised) forest. The rocks in the photos below are actually trees… or they were, once upon a time.

The signs also claimed that we would be able to see yellow-eyed penguins here. Supposedly it was malting season, so they would be on land and we weren’t to worry if they looked sick – that’s just what happens when they shed their feathers. Of course, the signs also warned us that we should stay away from said penguins and not frighten them, which I would have been very pleased to do if I had seen even one penguin! Of course, there were none to be seen so I had to make do with this guy:

Some kind of heron I presume? Where are all the bird experts?

With a three hour drive ahead of us to get back to Queenstown, Curio Bay had to be the last stop on our tour along the south coast. Instead of driving back along the coast, we headed straight inland and took the quick route back. At some point we stopped to take photos and I got the shot below. No idea where it was taken, but I like it!

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Finally, we stopped again in the same place as in the morning. By this time, the sun had come out in Queenstown as well (although we were assured it had rained for most of the day).

Oh, what a difference a day makes…

Back in Queenstown, we dropped off the car and went in search of food having had a lovely drive. With more time, I would have liked to stop off somewhere for a night and then drive further around the south coast, or maybe even take a boat trip out from Bluff to Stewart Island, but this was a lovely day trip. If you find yourself in Queenstown with a car and a day to spare, I can highly recommend this drive along the coast.

New Zealand was my April trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge (take 2!) and I’m also linking up for Monday Escapes.
Packing my Suitcase
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