Television, Walks and Favourite Podcasts

I’ve decided to stop watching the daily updates and news for a few days as it just creates anxiety. Unfortunately, it is all bad news so I will be reading my news on the BBC page which is comprehensive and useful.


Television (Netflix)
We’ve been watching Jack Whitehall Travels with my Father, whilst drinking beer in the evening and this has been a roaring success. Nothing like having comedy on to cheer you up. Also, it is about the countries they visit, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and fascinating as a travel vlog. Father and son go off together for a ‘gap year’ which Jack didn’t finish in 2009. His father, Michael Whitehall, is an unadventurous well dress gentleman whose obvious distaste of most things Jack related, is hilarious. They journey across South East Asia to partake in some rather curious explorations, mishaps and escapades, and comically demonstrates two diverse perspectives. However, ultimately they find it is a good way to strengthen their father and son bond and proves a successful adventure.



Walks Tuesday
We’ve continued with our country walks. The first one with David (husband), included a trip to the other end of the village where there is a private school and The Old Church. This is set in copious amounts of farmland, orchards and woodland. The sun was shining and we really appreciated being outside. Whenn we arrived at The Old Church we met and chatted with another couple (4 metres plus away) who was discovering all the local walks during this (lockdown) time, having moved to the area of Kent 11 years ago! They are certainly making up for it now. Their walks were derived from some printed maps given to them when they moved in.

Yesterday – Wednesday
I decided to go for a solitary stroll across the local recreation ground and into the woods. I really enjoyed walking for about 50 minutes which got me out of the house. Don’t get me wrong, I have been decluttering, organising and cleaning my home but I’m afraid I will always find ways to escape the four walls into the outside world.
Whilst walking I listened to the Minimalists podcast which is one of those easy to listen to chatty podcasts which is often thought-provoking. To be honest, these days I listen to BBC podcasts but forgot to download for my walk, so I just tried this one which had been downloaded but not listened to…

The Minimalists 197 Successful People

A listener asks ‘How do I find what I’m passionate about and when should I give the passion up?
The basic premise is not what are you are passionate about but what you are enthusiastic about? Everyone knows what they are enthusiastic about. Which friend am I passionate about or which friend am I enthusiastic about? This stops the excitement perspective which doesn’t necessarily translate into a long-term interest. You just seem to know what you are enthusiastic about.

30 Day Challenge
Answer 3 questions for 30 days.
What made me feel enthusiastic today?
What drained me of energy today?
What did I learn about myself today?

Don’t give up until 30 days. You will feel like you’ve got all the juice out of the lemon before 30 days and will see a pattern after the 28th day. Not before.

Favourite Podcasts

5 Live Science Podcast (like the Aussie Dr Karl)

Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Fortunately… with Fi and Jane

The Infinite Monkey Cage

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

The Minimalists


When I got home, I set about making a huge bolognaise sauce full of beef, tomatoes, stock, herbs and masses of vegetables. I plan to make it last several days, so I even added grated carrots. Probably on the second day, I will add chili and beans to turn it into a chili con carnie.

Thursday
I just listened to music and did a home workout. All good fun. I’m enjoying the soulful tunes of Lianne La Havas and Marc O’ Reilly on Spotify, at the moment. During the afternoon we popped to a nearby brewery and bought lots, and I mean lots, of ale for both of us. After that excitement, I read my book (a review will be forthcoming) The Year of Living Danishly and then cooked the dinner (Chili Con Carni).

During the evening we had a lively chat with family which is always fun. I’m glad to know they are well and busy working from home. I’ve recently heard of someone with the virus and am very concerned for her. Hopefully, she will make a quick recovery.

Anyway, I will sign off here. Let me know how you are passing the time?

 

Cooking Spanish Tortilla…

I did my workout this morning which has cleared the mind and is good for the soul and decided to cook something different for lunch…


After much thought, I decided to cook a Spanish Tortilla. Only 3 ingredients and seasoning. What’s not to like?
I chopped some potatoes, small onion and beat 5 eggs. This will last us 2 days of lunches.

Cooked the potatoes for 10 mins, on a low heat. Added onions for another 10 minutes and seasoned the egg mixture.


Poor the cook potatoes and onion in the uncooked egg and leave for 10 minutes before you cook. This part, is the bit that makes a true Spanish Tortilla.
Throw everything in a pan and cook for, you guessed it, 10 minutes.
Turn over carefully and cook the top for 5 minutes and slide onto a plate. Done. We had salad with ours and thoroughly enjoy it.

By the way, the film was Film Stars don’t die in Liverpool. Quite enjoyed it and based on a true story. About the actress Gloria Grahame who finds romance with a younger man, but then her life changes when she becomes seriously ill. I can recommend it.

 

Workouts, park woodland walking, chatting, clapping, a visit to The Lockdown Inn and thoughts…

As the days flow by, I do seem to be slightly less apprehensive and more resigned to the situation. For some reason, that I can’t fathom, I became calmer once the UK lockdown was announced. This is probably because everything has become rigid but more organised.


There is a queuing system at our local Tesco’s now, only allowing 40 people in the store at once. The online and click and collect is now more or less reserved for the vulnerable folks, which is fair enough and the mass hysterical panic buying has abated somewhat. At least loo rolls seem to be filtering back into some of the stores. Hooray for that!


Thursday –

The day was spent doing exercise! Thought I’d try The Body Coach’s workout at 9 am. It is meant for school children but what the hell. Anyway, it is really good and consists of arduous exercises (running, lunges, planks, box kick, Russian twists, squats, crunches, push-ups, etc). Then I tried a yoga video (Beginners Yoga with Adrian) which I am rubbish at but was sort of relaxing. Lots of breathing, downward dogs, twisting, warrior posing and more breathing. All of the above is on YouTube and can be transferred to your television by pressing the square Wi-Fi type sign, in the right-hand corner.


During the afternoon, I drove a couple of minutes to our local park for a walk. Don’t know about you, but I can’t stand being indoors all the time. The park is a beautiful space but, on this occasion, too busy for my liking. Kept dodging people by walking on the grass. Trying to keep more than 2 metres away from everyone! What a weird situation we are all in. Still lovely to get out and people watch. I didn’t have Oscar with me, so pondered whether park visitors may think I was strange, bonkers or stupid wandering about on my own. They didn’t. Everyone else seemed to be doing the same.


During the evening I cooked a salmon dish with mushrooms, peppers, onions, red wine, herbs, mustard seeds, fennel and a little cream cheese. We had boiled potatoes with the fish. After this, I had a video chat on WhatsApp with my daughter. It is lovely to catch up. Miss seeing family and friends but we will get through this. We temporarily ended the call to go outside and clap for the wonderful work the NHS, etc. are doing. This was an incredibly successful event. You could hear clapping, cheering and pot banging from miles around. Fantastic and quite emotional! At least it shows we care. Also, the Government has had over 600,000 applications for people wanting to assist the NHS as voluntary Responders, which includes picking and delivering prescriptions, phoning isolated folk and taking people for medical assistance, etc. Feeling proud of the UK at present. Shows how, as a nation, we can pull together.


Friday

Again, the sun was shining so David and I decided to venture out for a long walk in our local woods. We have a footpath walkers’ map and have become accustomed to using it again. We used to go for long walks with our children and they enjoyed marking the map to demonstrate where we had been. Anyway, the light on the trees was incredible and it was uplifting as we strolled about the orchards, fields and woodland. We really enjoyed it. One thing that has come from this experience is that I am discovering the outdoors again and small independent shops. Maybe, this will change how people live their lives.


When we arrived home, we had a sandwich and then got the deckchairs out and sat in the sun. It was a bit chilly (it is only March after all) but really enjoyed the warmth on my face and even got a little burnt. Before I knew it, my husband woke me up with a toasted, buttered hot cross bun and cup of tea which was devoured very quickly.


I had a phone chat with a friend who said, when I told her about feeling anxious, that it is about changing your mindset and getting into a routine. (She had been laid up for 6 weeks after an operation.) However, being laid up, is not the same at all. Everyone is scared and frightened. Although, the ‘jolly hockey sticks, stiff British upper lip’ attitude is probably correct. One of her friends said she felt she was on holiday in her own home. Must say this is a thought-provoking perspective on the worldwide situation.


I am trying to keep my worries under control by keeping busy and not watching/reading the news more than necessary. Must say, incidentally, how impressed I am with how the British government has dealt with this. It may not be perfect, but considering it is a new situation, they are, like everyone, doing their best to help and inform the British public.


Saturday – A visit to The Lockdown Inn

Now although I have endured and enjoyed plenty of exercise there is no denying, I like a drink or two. So, I spent much of the morning working out to a The Body Coach’s 30-minute HIIT session (exhausting), read in the afternoon and then had a boozy call with the young family folk. We chatted (via Zoom) about our week, where we’d been for exercise, beer, restaurant takeaway meals, and of course, the current situation. Really revelled in it all.


Thoughts

So, I’m constantly washing my hands, cleaning door handles and even food packaging. Who would have thought it? My husband is, when he sees me with a bucket and cleaning materials, actually saying sentences like ‘What are you cleaning now?’ I am trying to keep busy, sorting, decluttering, cleaning, listening to podcasts, music, walking, writing and reading, all of which I enjoy. I’ve even unpacked my case this week as we were supposed to be on a holiday.


Overall, the struggle to adapt is real but I’m pleased to come through another week without catching it.


Thanks for reading my rambling post. Speak soon. Take care and stay safe.  Andrea x

The new shopping experience and ideas for my future blog…

Apparently, in Italy, they had panic buying but after a couple of weeks the shops were fully stocked again and people calmed down. To be fair, I’ve been fairly lucky because David and I did a big shop before the panic started and were able to buy loo rolls and essentials. However, I understand it has been dreadful for people, particularly the elderly, vulnerable and health workers who have worked long shifts.

I can’t understand why people cannot shop as normal. Food shops won’t close even in a lockdown situation. Apparently, the supermarkets are employing temporary staff. Anyway, recently I had a bad day, full of anxiety and decided to go to our local farm shop. It was fully stocked with fruit, vegetables, pickles, mayonnaise, salad, wine, beer, ham, bacon and it was quiet. Bliss!!!

When I told my friend, she could shop the first hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to our local supermarket, she informed me she was going to make use of her local grocers and the farm shop ‘because we don’t want to lose it’. Very sensible.

So, thought I’d remind people there are other options other than supermarkets:

Tips:
Go to your local shops
Farm Shops
Garden Centre (Ours has an excellent meat counter)
Small ‘I sell everything’ grocers
Pubs/Restaurants are now selling takeaways
Order online (which I’ve only done once, and hated)*
Click and Collect*

*These options don’t appear to be available at the moment. Panic buying!

After this post, I will be writing most days a diary type blog. I think it is vital to record what you are feeling, doing and seeing.

Update: David ventured forth to the local middle sized supermarket and remarked that ‘it wasn’t too bad.’ Although still didn’t have loo rolls and limited brands. Perhaps, the nincompoops now have enough sanitiser, baby food, wipes, washing powder, ready meals, etc. Let’s hope so.

Thanks for reading my blog.

 

Hastings Old Town

Wellington and South Island Highlights… New Zealand

Wellington

We spent the period on and around 25th December in Wellington. The time was taken up exploring the city, going around galleries, museums (Te Papa) and larking about on the beach. Yes, Wellington has a splendid beach.

It also has lots of craft beer pubs with quirky decorations. We endeavoured to check these out of course. The city is lively, although became rather quiet on Christmas Day because nothing opens which is understandable.

I did succumb to booking a Christmas dinner but apart from that did very little to celebrate it this year. Usually, I entertain the family and this year was certainly a change from that. Probably back to normal next year because I did miss the (grown up) children.

It is good to have a change from the usual routine though and I did enjoy the day but it was a little surreal. I might add that it has been quite easy to forget about Christmas because they just don’t seem to make such a fuss about it here in NZ.

We stayed in Cuba St which is near the main centre of Welly. It is also near the cool bars, cafes and indy shops. We passed many happy hours wandering around Wellington taking in the views, ornamental arty displays, local architecture and beaches. There is a bucket fountain in Cuba Street which, in my humble opinion, is too stupid and splashed water everywhere.

We had a look around the old St Paul’s Cathedral which was resplendent with Christmas decorations and wooden interiors. Afterwards we went up on the cable car and appreciated the fabulous views of the city. Loved looking at all the weather board cliff side properties and some have their own cable cars!

It turned out to be a successful holiday break and a useful stop for the ferry.

South Island

So we caught a ferry to the South Island to explore the quieter part of New Zealand. Because we’ve been having a road trip, I decided to have a break from blogging during the Christmas period. Also, I’ve had some troubling family news from home so wasn’t really in the mood for writing. However, things have improved, January beckons and I need to write so here are some very basic highlights..

The Ferry Crossing

Before we started exploring we caught the ferry across which goes along the Cook Strait, through the Marlborough Sounds and is so spectacular, many journalists have said it is one of the best scenic ferry rides in the world and I concur.

It takes three and half hours and is enjoyable. Also, when you arrive at Picton, the beautiful natural landscape continues.

Kahurangi National Park

Firstly, we explored the top of the South Island by driving to the Kahurangi National Park. This is the area for holiday makers and there are plenty of those in December/January onwards. The beaches are sublime, particularly the Kaiteriteri beach. Some are quite difficult to reach and some are just wild and unspoilt. Something you don’t really see much elsewhere and impressive.

Onwards down the west coast towards Nelson and the Ruby Coast. This takes in a landscape which is diverse. Large wild wind swept beaches, geological sea cliffs, earthquake shattered slopes, serene lakes and the occasional falls.

I drove through a tiny place called Charleston and hubby shouted out that we need to stop there. It is easy to drive, mindlessly because it is so rugged and quiet. Hardly any traffic in New Zealand and you can blink and miss places that are relevant to your journey.

Hokitika

We stopped at Hokitika and enjoyed an elevated walk, 20 metres above the forest floor. This area is fascinating because it contains plants related to some of the earliest species to colonise the Earth. The temperate lowland forest is dominiated by Podocarp trees, ferns, mosses, liverworts and hornworts. All have ancient origin.

During the walk we climbed a tower and had an even higher view. This included the mountains to the east, the Southern Alps, formed from the collision of the pacific Plate and a number of glaciations, which have helped form the landscape including lakes, valleys and hills.

Ross

During part of this road trip we often stopped the car for short walks towards falls and it is exciting to see the flora of the NZ forest on the way. We stopped at Ross and decided to do the Water Race Walkway. This walk takes you past Ross’ newest lake which was formally a gold mine and along the gold mining area to include the A & T Burt Sluice Nozzle which was used up to the 1900s, Jones Creek (the public paning area), and through regenerating native forest, passing numerous old gold workings, tunnels and dam sites. We also passed a miner’s hut before entering a historic cemetery with views of the Ross area. A great walk and very interesting too. Also, I might mention we passed a family panning for gold during the walk!

Pancake Rocks

The above area lies on the edge of Paparoa National Park and is a significant feature due to the indented coves, rock pillars and pancake rocks at Dolomite Point, near Punakaiki. Evenly layered stacks of limestone have been eroded to form surge pools and blowholes. They do look like pancakes and apparently have taken thirty million years to form! They are formed from fragments of dead marine creatures and plants. Water pressure caused them to solidify into layers of limestone. Gradually seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed where water, wind and salt spray eroded the softer layers leaving a ‘pancake’ stack of harder limestone.

New Year’s Eve – Haast

We stopped at a place called Haast. A one horse town if ever there was one. After locating a hotel we were advised the local pub had a band on and the hotel were able to take us there and back.

Off we went to the pub. It was packed with locals and we got chatting to them. Apparently, they love our TV particularly the comedy. One lady told us how she had moved from Taunton (Somerset), nine years ago and how she loves New Zealand. I admitted it was a good job I didn’t come to NZ when I was young, because I’d have wanted to move to NZ. (No litter, traffic, tedious politics and shock horror, you can flipping park your car when visiting the local town.) It was a good evening with lots of reminiscing about England and the wonders of NZ. To be honest, I do prefer home and I actually love where I live with the fruit orchards, beautiful countryside, historical architecture, family and friends. Miss the dog walking and even the gym too.

Unfortunately, we made the mistake of leaving before midnight and the hotel bar closed at 11.30!!! Can you imagine our shock? Anyway, onwards and upwards. It is noticeable people in this part of the world don’t celebrate this time of year as in England haha. Little bit of a culture shock which doesn’t do me any harm.

Queenstown

I’ve not mentioned that during our time in the above area of Haast and surroundings the weather was pretty awful. We weren’t able to fly above the Westland National Park and famous glaciers (Franz Joseph/Fox), due to the inclement weather. We may try again later.

When we drove toward Queenstown we finally saw the clouds part and sun shine. The area is lovely and we’ve been to Wanaka and Arrowtown and on a magnificent steam boat ride along the Wakatipu lake. The lake is pretty and we’ve stayed in an apartment overlooking Lake Wakatipu which is quite a breath taking distraction as I’m typing this, I can tell you.

The water looks very blue and clean and that is because it is. Scientists have rated it 99.9% pure. You are better off dipping in your glass in the lake than buying bottled water. Can’t think why you’d want to buy bottled water anyway, especially if you live in the UK.

Queenstown is clearly the hipster place because it is full of them. Queenstown is as much a verb as a nown because it is the adventure capital and where bungy jumping was invented. No, I’m not going to attempt a jump, in case you are wondering. I’m happy wandering around the lake, town and surrounding area. It is a beautiful place.

Thanks for reading. The news from home is encouraging too.

Sources

https://www.westcoast.co.nz/plan-your-trip/punakaiki-pancake-rocks-and-blow-holes/

Lonely Planet New Zealand

Where two oceans meet… New Zealand

We decided to stop at Paihia despite a disparaging opinion in the Lonely Planet NZ book. It suggests going to Russell, because it is prettier. Although it is pretty, we found Paihia pretty too and more vibrant. Plus it had a good craft beer pub. (Haha)

Paihia is a bustling village and significant, due to being the gateway of the Bay of Islands. It is an attractive and well set out village with an array of shops, cafes, restaurants and a barbers that is not open when it says it is! Yes, hubby is desperate for a haircut.

However, on the plus side, the village has, according to the sign, the most scrumptious ice scream establishment for the last 18 years. As I discovered, if you ask for a one scoop cornet, you are given a two scoop cornet and it is huge although considered ‘small’. Oh dear, I only wanted a small ice cream. Nevermind haha. Crikey, it was tasty.

A splendid sea view from the craft beer pub called Thirty30 Craft Beer bar is always very much appreciated. We both devoured the most delicious seafood chowder with thick brown bread. After this bowl of deliciousness, and a long day touring, I had an early night.

Before our road trip, the next day, we popped along to Waitangi Treaty Grounds to view the giant Maori sea faring vessel. The vessel signifies the founding of modern New Zealand. It is a certainly an interesting experience to explore this part of New Zealand.

We then drove towards the famous (top of New Zealand) Cape Reinga. This is where two oceans meet; the Tasman sea and Pacific.

As we were travelling to Cape Reginga, I booked a room at Awanui about 50km away. Must mention that our traveller mobile has been a great success for booking last minute accommodation as we tour around NZ. This village turned out to be a quiet place which looked a bit wild west but the motel was great, Large room with bed, lounge area and kitchen. The owner left a box of chocolate almonds for us. They didn’t last very long. Of course, I fell for the ‘last room available’ note on the internet. Only three other lots of residents were staying and they turned up late. My panic to book turned out to be unnecessary although it was a Saturday so you can’t be too careful.

The drive to Cape Reinga took about 80 minutes and was worth the trip. Great scenery, little traffic and not a cloud in the sky. Always helps when you have sunny weather, don’t you think?

Cape Reinga is an important area because according to Maori legend, this is where a person’s spirit comes after death and departs for their eternal home. We found many wooden boards explaining historic facts relating to Cape Reinga, as you explore the site, which makes the climbing and walking even more worthwhile. As you walk around this magnificent area it is compelling to look at the panoramic views where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean come crashing together.

The solitary iconic lighthouse is also a serene and spectacular vision and is said to be where the point of the colliding oceans swirl together. Amazing!

Well worth a visit and the historical details are interesting. Also, the area is a recognised home to many threatened plants and animals such as the tiny orchids and endangered flax snail.

Thanks for stopping by 🤗 .

 

Melbourne – Highlights

Botanic Gardens

I decided I wanted to visit the botanic gardens. Every city on this trip seems to have one and they all seem to be very different so you don’t get bored.

These gardens were designed by Director William Guilfoyle in 1873 with the premise of providing sweeping lawns, curving pathways, lakes and hidden vistas. The area is beautiful and centres around a volcano which influenced him during a visit to New Hebrides in 1868. The volcano is depicted with ‘lava’ flowing down (with circular paths), exotic plant beds, coloured pathways flowing from the crater and volcanic basalt rocks scattered throughout the site.

The ‘crater’ is quite surreal because it serves as a large pond area but, get this, the shrubs slowly move in the water. It was quite weird looking at the shrubs and then realising they are actually moving. All very clever.

Victoria Food Market

One of the highlights of Melbourne was the Wednesday evening food market. It is brilliant and just across the road from our flat.

When we first arrived we feared it was going to be empty and soulless. How wrong we turned out to be. It was packed full of food stalls from around the world, craft stalls and phenomenal music sets.

The standard of music whether in pubs or busking is superb in Melbourne. We’ve seen many musicians throughout our walks, pub and café visits.

During the evening, I enjoyed a pork dish from Nepal and it was delicious. Also, had a cookie, ice cream sandwich which was incredible. Sat and looked at this amazing vista of Melbourne and sculpture, as I was devouring it.

National Gallery of Victoria

Yes, of course we had to do the arty bit on the Southbank. Always a good gig especially when some of the art is focusing on surrealism and pop art.

This particular exhibition concentrates on the reasons why Surrealism, and precursors Dadaists, transpired. After the First World War, the movement flourished during the 1920s rebelling against authoritarian control whilst exploring varied art forms.

Influenced by Sigmund Freud’s controversial theories of dream analysis, they invoked irrational logic through their art whilst disparaging society’s values through perverse films, paintings and views. The idea is to liberate the unconscious through an interpretation of imagery.

Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel produced the ground-breaking film Un Chien Andalusia in 1929. Man Ray experimented with photography to project ghostly images and Max Ernst experimented with grattage art, by rubbing pigmented paper or canvas thus producing new artistic techniques.

These exhibitions included Andy Warhol Self-portrait no. 9 who is supposed to be one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century. His influence was profound and included television and music and he may have been the inventor of celebrity culture? The weird and strange portrait was produced just before his death in February 1987.

The iconic Pop Art is thought to be the antithesis of industrial and commercial culture as mass production took shape. The work exemplifies significant change in society and depicts a world of mechanised aesthetics connected with advertising and marketing including labels, magazines and posters.

An interesting mix of furniture and clothing design elements also are displayed in the Designing Women exhibition which includes product design, fashion, digital and architecture innovation and show cases works from significant diverse and creative fields.

Well worth visiting the gallery and it is worth noting that Julian Opie is exhibiting if you enjoy his simplistic work.

Elegant Enclave walk

This is another walk suggested by a friendly man in the tourist office. It is fundamentally a nose around the posh part of Melbourne looking at East Melbourne’s architectural suberbs and encompasses elaborate iron work, classic columns and lofty verandas from the Victorian era. Great fun and you enjoy a walk through the lovely Fitzroy Gardens too. In fact, that was the best bits because it includes Cook’s Cottage, the Fairies’ Tree by sculptor Ola Cohn and the sweetest Model Tudor Village. The Model Village was presented to the City of Melbourne by the citizens of Lambeth, England in appreciation of gifts of food. How lovely.

Also, of course you can wander around the pretty gardens and fountains too. All very enjoyable.

Final thoughts…

Melbourne is many people’s favourite Australian city and I must say I can see why. It is FUN, musical, creative and vibrant. The tram system is ingenious if a little perplexing for the tourist. Can’t really understand why you need to drive in this city and the traffic is pretty horrendous. Unfortunately, I find the mix of old and new a little annoying because I like modern and historical architecture but it is all mingled together and this is a shame. Most cities have old and new areas which, for me, is preferable.

However, I have enjoyed visiting Melbourne and loved the creative vibe of the city, the friendly people and amazing landscape.