How many doors left…??

According to my Christmas (chocolate) calendar there are only eight more doors to open until Christmas Day and whilst not all pressies have arrived or are wrapped they have been all purchased and most of them are sitting on a shelf awaiting the attention of the wrapping paper.

On the other hand, my Christmas Card list hasn’t even been dented yet… this is something I’m definitely going to work on this evening. I suspect that some might be arriving post-Christmas… especially those that are travelling to different continents!!

Now… where’s my address book….?? ;o)

As I was saying…

before I was rudely interrupted by the Summer of Sport* I am greatly looking forward to both the Olympics, where I have tickets, and the Paralympics, where I am going to be a Gamesmaker.

I did find one amusing thing about having a Home Olympics, whilst I got to see more Olympic sport live and in person, due to the highly convenient time-of-day that it was on, I probably saw less television coverage than normal… either being at work or travelling to/from/being at a venue!! I remember the Sydney Olympics in 2000 lying in bed watching it… and then waking up early in the morning with the TV still on to continue my viewing pleasure!!

However, I got to see a lot of archery over at Lords, as well as Volleyball over in Earls Court, Beach Volleyball at Horse Guards and Fencing in the ExCel Centre. And of course, one of the joys about something like the Olympics is that minority sports suddenly get to take a step forward, the athletes getting to take part on a global stage that would normally ignore them. And I love it!! 😀

This in turn is followed by the Paralympics which can simply be described as “Awe inspiring”. I saw even less of this than the Olympics due to being a Gamesmaker… on the other hand I did see all (bar one) session of the Paralympics archery which was pretty impressive, and we managed to have an All British final between Mel Clarke and Danni Brown. And in that one session I skipped I was over the road watching some 50m rifle shooting… and a British medal (bronze) there!!

And now, if you’re really lucky, or not… depending on your views, I may actually try to blog a bit more often than once every few months!!

* – wait… you mean the Summer was over ages ago, we’ve gone through Autumn and am nearly in Winter…?? It’s almost as if I’ve just plain forgotten to blog at all… *whistles*

The greatest show on earth…

In case you haven’t noticed, the circus has come to town. And you know what?? I’m looking forward to it, helped by the fact that I have some tickets to events and that I just love getting to watch the sports I like rather than the boring football that’s normally being shown.

One of my earliest Olympic memories was in the 1992 Barcelona when Chris Boardman won the individual pursuit, not just by being faster than the other guy, but by being so much faster that he actually caught up and overtook the other guy!!

However, the moment that really sticks in my mind comes four years later in the women’s team gymnastics with the US team trying to win gold on home soil and beat the Russians. With two gymnasts left they only need one of them to land on their final apparatus, the vault. Their penultimate vaulter, Dominique Moceanu, fell on both landings leaving it to Kerri Strug. On her first vault she too fell. Fell and injured her ankle. Fell, injured and with the US team still requiring one more vault, and a good vault, to win gold. What must of been going through her mind as she lined up at the end of the run-up…?? Knowing that to win gold she was going to have to do something injured that she had failed to do moments ago whilst not.

And you know what… she landed it. Hurt herself worse and had to be carried off, but when it mattered, when all was against her, she landed the toughest vault of her life.

What moments will there be from 2012…??

Topsy-turvy time…

There has been a lot of topsy-turvy in The Church recently over the possible election of female bishops. It’s one of those things where I can’t quite get what’s going on, mostly because as inevitable things go, the eventual election of female bishops is fairly obvious. Especially considering that there is just an infusion of women in The Church at nearly all levels. And when I say nearly all levels I’m including the Supreme Governor of the CoE, Queen Elizabeth II.

I sort of have sympathy for those that are in the anti-camp, though I am of the general thought that they are just missing the point*. For some reason there seems to be a great deal of importance being put on having a continious and direct male line going back to the time of the Early Church…. however I’ve always consdiered the message of Love and Forgiveness that you get in The Gospels to be… well, more important.

I know it’s probably a totally terrible cliché but if you were to ask he question ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ if confronted with the question, “Should a woman be allowed to be a church leader?” I suspect He would say something about how God’s Love is inclusive and that turning someone who is of God away is to turn away God Himself… though I’m not a theologian so what would I know??

* – though the Anglo-Catholics are probably right, it will stop, or at least cause issues with, any unity with the Roman Catholic Church

Nighty night!!

As an experiment this week I’m trying going to bed early… which whilst I realise is probably still a lot later than normal people go to bed, but is still a lot earlier than what I usually manage… nighty night!! sweet dreams!!

Frankly my dear…

This week is my birthday, though if I’m honest I don’t really care… if I’m really being honest I haven’t cared for about twelve years now. I don’t know why, but to me it’s just another day, no different from the day before my birthday and no different from the day after… or you know… a day next week or next month.

However this does wind my mum up as she starts the whole, “what do you want for your birthday?”, “what would you like to do for your birthday?”, about a month before it happens. Of course, I’m unable to answer because I just don’t want to do anything.

Now Christmas… I love Christmas!!


So it is time to break out the sequins and the glitter and to get ready for the cheese-fest that is the biggest and greatest singing competition in the world… Eurovision!! I don’t know if anyone watched last nights semi-final (the first, the second is on Thur), but I was greatly impressed by most of the acts. In my little notes there were only two that got the ‘rubbish’ notation (Montenegro and Russia), with a few more ‘like – but won’t make it’…. I think there might also have been an ‘Ok – but no better.’

Out of the eighteen acts that were performing last night I picked my Top 10 (only ten go through) with two possibles that might make it (apparently the voting isn’t always on performance!!). I will admit, it was helped having already bought the Eurovision album so I know how the songs should sound post-production. With this, my list of acts to go through were:
Iceland, Greece, Latvia, Switzerland, Israel, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Moldova and Cyprus with my two possibilities being Albania and Romania.

Those of you who have followed any Eurovision news might note that the Russian Grannies didn’t make my list, not because I didn’t think they’d not make it, but because I just wasn’t impressed with their performance… what can I say, I’m more impartial than the general public of Europe!! ;o)

As it turns out, with the exception of the Russian Grannies, the other nine acts going through to Saturdays final can all be found on my list… with the exceptions being Latvia, Switzerland and Israel, which is a shame as they were all good performances.

Coming next in Semi-final Two will be Serbia, Macedonia, The Netherlands, Malta, Belarus, Portugal, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Sweden, Georgia, Turkey, Estonia, Slovakia, Norway, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and finally, Lithuania…. I can’t wait!!! 😀

You got mail…

This week I have been mostly living old school… I have even been writing letters… well, cards cause that way you get pretty pictures as well. There is just something a bit more permanent about ink on paper than electronic letters on a screen. Those just seem so… transient… but ink on paper… there’s something very solid about that.

That and the fact that everyone loves getting what I refer to as “fun post” through the letter box. Expecially when it’s not expected. Surprise fun post… how much greater could it be?? Well… sure I guess I could also put cash in there, but I’m not going to!! :p

Hehehehe, that just reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon that I saw in an exhibition on Canada Post at the Canadian Museum of Civilization


Busy doing nothing…

You know, there are times when I feel that I really should blog about stuff other than my trip… mostly because at the rate I’m going it’s going to be sometime after the Olympics before I get close to finishing… alas, I’m afraid to say that my life generally seems to be fairly boring… that is not the same as not busy though…

It does feel that I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and been here there and everywhere. I’m quite sure that at weekends you’re not supposed to be getting up earlier than you do during the week, but for some reason this just hasn’t quite been happening for me!! Indeed, checking my calendar I’m going to be busy every weekend until sometime in July… and that’s only because I haven’t planned any further!!

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been up to Liverpool, Newcastle, Chelmsford and Houndslow… other places I suspect I’ve been to but can’t really remember… Oh…. and there’s been Easter… I’d forgotten about that!!

In the mean time, I promise to either do something more interesting that can be blogged, or write the next holiday blog that has some rugby in it!! Which considering this is a trip to the Rugby World Cup is probably a good thing!!

Transport not included…

Now that we had arrived on North Island the girls headed North by train to go to a spa and visit some cultural things… this left me a few days not to go to a spa and do cultural things. I instead flicked through my guide book and saw a place called, ‘National Park’.

Alas, even though the train passed through NP it was fully booked so I was required to catch a coach there. It was upon arrival that I discovered something very important about NP… it is very small. Small enough that it is possible to walk around the village in under 20minutes. By which I mean around the outside, not just around the centre…

But a nice spot of lunch at the railway station cafe meant that I was about to say hello to the J&P when their train pulled in. And to be vaguely confused how I was unable to buy a ticket for a half-empty train…

Now I realise by now I’ve normally thrown a photograph in, so here’s the wooden kiwi that was outside the hostel with the VOLCANO Mount Ruapehu in the background…

Wooden Kiwi and Volcano

For some reason, living in the UK you just sort of forget that there are places where being able to see snow covered active volcanoes from your kitchen window is perfectly acceptable…

With these snow covered volcanoes there are two main activities that happen… skiing (which I can’t do) a hiking, and there is what is deemed to be the New Zealand’s best one day hike… the Tongariro Crossing. In the summer months I may well have been tempted, at 20km long it isn’t an easy hike, over the first 10km you ascend a height of 1km, and over the next 10km you loose that height. But this being early Spring and there being snow on the ground I decided to be sensible and not to do it. Though so you know, these are the other two volcanoes (Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe), and the hike starts on the far side of the left hand peak (Mount Tongariro), comes around the back, over the col between them and then down towards us… if you want you can make a slight detour and visit the top of Mount Ngauruhoe (the right hand peak) if you wish…
Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe

Now, I understand your general confusion at my suggestion that I was going to be sensible, do not worry. To make up for that I did a little used hike out to the Tupapakurua Falls, taking care not to take a map or compass, nor to tell anyone that I was going… it is by far and away the best way to make a hike more exciting*… more of an exploration!!

As waterfalls go, Tupapakurua Falls probably aren’t going to win any prizes, but it is a nice two hour hike through natural forest… nice apart from after long, steep descent there is a sign at the bottom telling you that you will have to go back up the steep descent… and that it’s a vertical climb of 115m… but if you’ve already gotten to the bottom you may as well carry on to see the falls themselves. but to save you the trouble…
Tupapakurua Falls

Oh, and if you were wondering about the title to the post… well, National Park is small. There are two bars, three places to eat, a shop and a garage/shop. If you go there by bus I would highly suggest that you plan to go there and don’t do it on a whim. If only because you might find yourself stuck in the village with little to do. A useful laundry stop though. And if you do go, and you stay at the HI you may very well find this outside your room….
View from door

Yes… I am standing in my bedroom door and that is a climbing hall…

* – though H&S does mean that I have to advise at all times to take a map, compass and to let people know where you plan to go. I can get away with such things because I know what I’m doing and don’t get lost. And am foolish.