Around the world..in a couple of years!

A few photos from a few places I’ve had the good fortune to travel to..

Feeding time at Safari World, BANGKOK

Tree adorned with balloons, GERMANY

Big Ben, LONDON

Temple in lego colours Kathmandu, NEPAL

Hôtel des invalides, PARIS

Buddhist temple, BANGKOK

Louis Vuitton, PARIS

Notre Dame, PARIS

Donkeys ridden in Petra, JORDAN

Porcupine eating fries!

Camel handler, BAHRAIN
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Ode to Autumn.

 

It’s funny how a single memory can trigger such vivid, potent recollections, that you almost feel like you are back there, in the place the memory was created. I was choosing scented candles in the supermarket the other day and suddenly I smelt home. Or more specifically home on a winter’s evening just as dinner is being prepared. The candle was a winter spicy type, and the fragrance instantly took me back to home and drinking mulled wine with all it’s spicy, fruity comfort in the winter. As Autumn is here and soon winter will be I started to think about how much I miss about this season in the UK. It is my favourite season, for so many reasons.

 

The smells are clearer and duller at the same time. There’s a fading freshness to the air that is both lingering and fleeting at the same time. The season won’t last long but it’s intransigence makes it all the more special. Bonfires, chimney smoke, dampness. And the weather! Admittedly, there are some horrible rainy days but when the sun is shining and the air has a chilly bite to it, and you can just about make out your own breath like a puff of hope to bid farewell to Summer, you know why this season is famously full of merry fruitfulness.

 Looking around you are dazzled by leaves of the most wonderful shades, browns, golden, olive, russet, ochre. It’s all so colourful, it’s hard to imagine that Nature is off on a well-earned rest. The trees gradually get barer and barer until all their bounty lies in rustling piles on the ground, or blowing around the fields, gardens, playgrounds.

The days are getting shorter and the nights spring upon you unexpectedly. Children come home from school and after tea and toast it will almost be time to close the curtains. With fewer hours of darkness it’s easy to see why people feel closed in and mourn the long, luxurious evenings of summer. But when you wake up and look ou of your frosty windows to see the mist rolling across the valley, separating you from the rest of the world like Gods atop their mountain you know this season is not one to feel sorry for it is the crowning glory of a perfect summer and the start of a promising winter’s journey.

 

Spot the camouflaged cat!

Stop shark sacrilege

I like sharks. I think they’re interesting, varied, nice looking and misunderstood.  But for people all over the world they are apparently delicious. I am no vegetarian, I love eating all of God’s creatures, tender medium rare steak, roast chicken, crispy duck..they are all wonderful, but I eat them knowing they are not half killed and put back into the wild. This is cruel and unnecessary.

Shark fins are used mainly for shark fin soup, predominantly in Chinese cuisine, but the trend is now seen on Asian menus all over the world. The soup is served at weddings and celebrations and is seen as a delicacy, and a sign of wealth and prestige.  Due to the booming middle-class in China the soup is becoming more sought after and also more commonplace. The fins are skinned and trimmed and then dried and sold like this or frozen. They have little to no flavour and are chewy in texture. Despite the fact they don’t sound very palatable, the delicacy has decreased in price with its growing popularity. Although you can still buy a bowl for over $100, buffets also serve it (and its variants) for just $10!

Courtesy of CNN: When sharks attack humans, it inevitably makes news – it is a sexy story. What is rarely reported is that worldwide, sharks kill an average of 10 people every year. It’s usually when people venture into a shark’s habitat and not the other way around. By contrast, humans kill around 100 million sharks every year – a number that has ballooned in recent years because of the enormous demand for shark fins to make shark fin soup.

The huge threat to the species has spawned countless environmental and animal rights campaigns. The WWF has an awareness campaign that aims to stop this (as yet) legal practice. ‘Shark Savers’ is an organisation that seeks to solve this problem by eliminating the market for shark fin soup. Their ‘Say “No” to shark fin soup’ campaign aims to reduce this demand by creating and continuing a revolutionary multi-media campaign, using celebrities and grass roots campaigns.

Follow this link to pledge your support to the Say NO to shark fin soup campaign.

Fins from up to 70 million sharks a year are used for shark fin soup often with the rest of the body dumped overboard dead or alive. Shark poaching is rife in marine protected areas, such as the Galapagos Islands and Cocos Island. A recent study by the world’s top shark scientists (IUCN Shark Specialist Group) reported that of 64 species of open ocean sharks and rays 32% are “threatened with extinction,” primarily due to overfishing. In addition, 24% were “near threatened,” while another 25% could not be assessed due to lack of data. Sharks are highly vulnerable to overfishing due to their late maturity and slow reproduction. Globally shark catches are unregulated or unsustainable. The shark fin trade is unregulated worldwide. (Shark savers website)

Clearly, something needs to be done. The damage to the marine ecosystem and the possible impact on global warming as a top predator is pushed to extinction is huge. If there are no sharks, the fish which eat plankton will balloon and the plankton will be hugely reduced. Like all plants, phytoplankton produce oxygen by reducing carbon dioxide from the air. Moves are being made to ban this practice, such as the bill passed in USA in 1993 that bans shark finning within 200 miles of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Educate yourselves on this wasteful and cruel practice, and make up your own mind.

http://www.sharksavers.org/en/programs/shark-fin-soup-campaign.html

http://articles.cnn.com/2008-12-10/world/pip.shark.finning_1_shark-fin-shark-populations-top-predator?_s=PM:WORLD

http://naturescrusaders.wordpress.com/tag/food/

Colour namer

I know how important it is to be happy in your job. I’ve always thought how much fun this job would be..to be the person who creates the names behind colours. For example you want to redecorate your kitchen so you look for a nice yellow paint and doesn’t dusty sunshine just sound wonderful but maybe tuscan lemons is more you..

Here’s some I came up with during a  procrastinating session…

Raspberry fool

Winter’s day 

Custard and cream

Christmas tree

Dorothy shoes

Dreamer’s dream

Tuscan olive

Rock chic

These are a few of my favourite things!

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad!

pink seahorses

French fancies!

Samoyed puppy

gingerbread house

Lucky Charms

I want a house with a pink door like this

Lemony shower gel

Christmas lights in trees

Rivendell, LOTR elven city

nice lip balms

 

creme eggs

Bonsai trees

 

white fur jackets

Coca Cola Christmas advert

Decisions, decisions..

Last night I was reminded of a humbling fact. I am spoilt. Not necessarily through my or my parents fault, it’s just the society we live in. Take for example this decision my mother told me that my younger sister faces..

“She’s trying to decide which laptop to take back with her”

I don’t blame my sister. But consider how extravagant and fortunate we must be to be able to choose between 2 laptops! The the kind of choice I faced this morning..straight hair or curly hair today!

Some people probably had to decide whether to give their children the last bowl of rice or wait to give it to them after their 8km run from school. And other life threatening choices. We do live in a world of contrasts..

What can you do though?

Help where you can-support charities, NGOs, get yourself informed about globa crisis, and not so huge ones-the less documented ones. Sponsor a child, or a charity for a year..

and be grateful-thank whoever you want to, but there’s obviously someone up there looking out for us.

(by the way I went for straight hair)

Excited about my holiday..hopefully!

Although I travel the world daily, it’s not the same as a real, planned holiday..especially when I’m going with my man! I am excited..bu haven’t really planned much yet. We are supposed to be going to the States in December, it’s already been put off from August..and yes, I know the weather is going to be superbly freezing-in Washington DC! We only have a week now to spend there, but I plan to enjoy every second. I actually haven’t done much planning for it, even though I am super-excited..so that is what I will get on with today..oh! the life I lead! ♥ so grateful..

I’m thinking  4 days in DC, then train to New York for a couple of days but staying somehwere out of town so it’s actually afordable..we used to fly to NY but not for a long time. I was born at the wrong time to join the flying club 😦  It used to be such a glamourous, enviable job. It’s still lots of fun but not like it used to be, so I’m told.

So plan plan plan! In January we plan to go to Kenya, which is maybe even more exciting. I like animals more than almost anything so I think I will be in heaven..I just hope our plans don’t get altered.. 

Nice looking twiga

Job searching.

Right now I know I am in a very crowded boat full of people all looking for jobs. In the UK unemployment is growing and growing. Well qualified graduates and people I know are having to take on jobs that 5 or 10 years ago they wouldn’t have needed to. But unfortunately many more people can’t even get a job..it’s not for want of trying either, there are some lazy people out there but not the ones I refer to!

I am supremely lucky and grateful for my job and God above knows this. I have to keep searching for other opportunities though. Whilst doing this I have come to realise 3 things: firstly, you will only ever hear from a few applications, and these could be a NO. Secondly, you will start to feel a bit rejected and useless, and thirdly, you will get over feeling sorry for yourself and you will persevere.

Humans are lucky creatures indeed in that we have intellect, reasoning, morals and qualities such as perseverance ( beasts too-consider the beaver). Few people ever actually give up. This is something quite remarkable when you think about it. For me, I will keep trying. I applied today for something I really want, it would be so exciting to hear from this one! So fingers crossed for me please!

What is Life.

 

 I like this poem for inspiring you to live for today..

 

 

What is Life?

Life is a challenge-meet it.

Life is a gift-accept it.

Life is an adventure-dare it.

Life is a sorrow-face it.

Life is a duty-perform it.

Life is a game-paly it.

Life is a mystery-unfold it.

Life is a song-sing it.

Life is an opportunity-take it.

Life is a journey-complete it.

Life is a promise-complete it.

Life is a love-embrace it.

Life is a beauty-praise it.

Life is a spirit-release it.

Life is a struggle-fight it.

Life is a puzzle-solve it.

Life is a goal-achieve it.

 

Stop using Africa as a collective noun!!

Africa is a whole continent. It is three times the size of Europe and yet people still refer to the general ‘problem area’ of that part of the world as Africa. So some countries are bad. Some countries are very bad. But does Mugabe’s vicious land reclamation and consequent starving of his people mean all of Africa’s governments act the same way? Do the recent discoveries of mass rape in the DRC demonstrate all of Africa’s inhumanity and violence?

It has become common place to hear phrases such as ‘the problem of Africa…’ or ‘African leaders should concentrate on ….’ But is this the right way to refer to such an extensive land mass, variety of cultures, and variety of targets. Correct me if I’m wrong but Africa as a whole is still portrayed as a place with a number one goal of AID. The images coming from the continent are not so different to the harrowing images used during mass aid campaigns during the famines a few decades ago. These images did their job, and a certain amount of international aid arrived and to some extent I imagine, reached the people it was intended for. However, 20 years and the general public still receives the same message. Corruption, war, poverty, disease. Now we all know not all is rosy on the continent. But is it not time to send out a more true and positive message?

There are 2 problems addressed here. The generalization of ‘Africa’, and the negative images portraying the countries that make up this great continent.

Even if you switch on CNN you will hear the presenters in their ‘diversity advert’ referring to ‘I come from Africa’ or ‘my parents both come from developing countries’..yes! and so what! Tell us which one before we make assumptions and generalizations.  Some countries are economically, politically and socially more stable than others. Some a lot more so. The good examples should encourage the rest to change their attitudes. Nothing is going to happen over night and this is a land mass with countless obstacles but these are obstacles to be faced! The ‘West’ will not change their near neo-colonialism if the continent as a whole still accepts international aid with open and welcome arms. It’s time for strings to be cut. Immediate relief aid and sustainable development are 2 different things and each country should become responsible for their own continuing developement.

The majority of educated people will still panic over what they imagine Africa to be like. Sure, we all have to be P.C and say the right things but the vast majority will still have negative images. It’s to be expected, when every day the news reports feature some new trouble or atrocity from an African country. During the new Kenyan Constitutional celebrations the BBC coverage of Uhuru park featured about 30 seconds of innocent festivities and 3 minutes of flashbacks to the 2007 post-election violence.

Fortunately, there are a lot of positive ground breaking developments taking place. These should be focussed on by  the international press, much as in any developing country there should be a balance of the type of report covered. Of a country is to develop there needs to be foreign investment. There’s no getting around this. But what company will invest in a corrupt, self-doubting, unstable country. From the bottom up things need to change, starting now!

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