My photo scavenger party

I’m quite selective when it comes to subscribing to mailing lists. Even when an e-newsletter pops though on my emails, I’m not that interested. A quick scan to see if anything is relevant, then in one click it goes into the trash (or bin as we like to say it in the UK).

Then this dropped through my inbox from Photojojo: Plan the Photog Party of the Century in 5 Easy Steps. All my favourite words – photo, party and easy – were in one sentence. Intrigued, I read on.

‘Instead of tackling that giant list on your own, turn your ‘someday list’ into a group effort by having the most-fun-you-ever-had-with-a-group-of-photog-nerds: a photo scavenger hunt.’

Straight after reading this enewsletter, I got onto Facebook and rounded up some nerds friends. Not only that, I even Tweeted about it. I’m that ridiculously excited about this scavenger hunt.

I’m now hosting a photo scavenger hunt around Brighton this summer. Yikes!

Now, I need ideas on what I on what my friends (they’re not really nerds, but lovely, wonderful, intelligent and hilarious human beings who are mad as I am) to photograph.

The premise is this: in teams, they will have around three hours to take photos of the list I will provide them. Each photo will have a score depending on the level of difficulty. The team who has the highest score wins a prize (on which I have yet to decide on). Crazy ideas welcome, but they must be (partly) realistic.

Of course, a post on teacup and cake and links to photos will be written/uploaded in due course.

Love our libraries

Since the current coalition government came into power, they have been preparing the country for savage cuts. I’ll happily admit that I’m no economist, but the speed and depth of the cuts is frightening.

Already they’ve climbed down on the over the selling of English woodlands due to furious public backlash.

But here’s one that we must stand up and say no to – the closure of libraries. Earlier this week, the Guardian reported on one library in east London which was saved thanks to people power.

I love reading books. I can’t afford to buy them (have you seen the price of art books?), so I borrow them from by local library. Far from being dusty, boring places, my libraries are welcoming places. My local one has been brought up-to-date with a refurbishment, and includes the latest technology where I can borrow and return books at a computer terminal. There are mum and toddler groups, the Internet, and the latest books in stock.  The librarians are not stern old witches who tell you to ‘shush’ when you breathe, but very happy to help. I can even borrow books from Bexhill and return it in Eastbourne.

The library has a special place in my heart. When I was very young, my mother and I would walk down to the library pick out my books for the week. It’s where I learnt to read, got whisked to other planets, time and even to space. I even read about talking animals! It’s where I learnt about body language, about the bus names in Brighton and my next travel destination. I’ve sat in the library doing research for school, college and university.

To deny people the pleasure of reading, to deny children from learning to read and write should not be tolerated. Closing our libraries is not an option.

So the next time you want to read a book, why not save yourself a few pennies? Go and pop down to your local library and show your support.

Giant Love Hearts

Of course, the Flickr theme for my 365 project this week is Valentine’s Day. I thought I do something around Giant Love Hearts. I went to four newsagents before finding a packet of Giant Love Hearts. Who would have thought?

According to Wikipedia, Valentine’s Day first became associated with romantic love back in the day of Chaucer, when courtly love flourished.

This is what I came up with my Love Hearts. If you want to see more, click on the images on the right.

Damn you streaming error code 14 – 80040241 – Mongolia to China

For the next instalment on my retrospective world travel is the next leg of my trip – Mongolia to China.

After spending two amazing months in the landlocked country, I spent the next 30 days training it though China. I walked part of the Great Wall of China, trained at a kung-fu school, got very sick and ended up in hospital, saw baby pandas and took a boat ride down the Yangzi River before getting into Hong Kong.

Last August saw traffic jam last nine-day that spanned 100km in Beijing. Nine days?!  Thankfully I didn’t get caught up in that. But it was a culture shock. Within the first few days, I had a Big Mac from MacDonald’s and regretted the first bite.

Excerpts from my myspace blog

20 Aug 2006

Nee Hao everybody

Yes another country, another language. I have my LP Mandarin phrasebook, so am determined to learn something.

I took the local train in Beijing which took two days. surprisingly it was ok. The Mongolian part was just like being on the Trans Mongolian, but the Chinese train had 6 beds, instead of the four. I met a few people from UB, and we ended up getting drunk on vodka. True Mongolian stylee. No hangover for me, although I did sleep in late and missed seeing the Gobi Desert at 5am. The window was open so I got covered in the sand though.

30 Aug 2006

I’m in central China now, in a grey city called Zhengzou. Yes another city, and I’m a bit fed up with all the rush and the fact that I can’t seem to launch Yahoo music. Damn you streaming error code 14 – 80040241, whatever the bloody hell that means.

I took another night train. I’ve decided that I’d rather sleep for 8 hours whilst travelling at night than sit and watch the world go by and being board for 8 hours. Short distances are ok, but China is rather large.

Beijing is a massive city, especially when you’re used to UB, where everything is down one road. surprisingly it is more expensive than Shanghai, which means another two Chinese style tops will be made there.

31 Aug 2006

So, the reason why I’m in grey Zhengzhou was to get to a place called Song Shan to train at one of the oldest and largest kung fu school in the area. The Shaolin Temple was not far from where I was, and the school has at least 7000 students. That is 7000, all fighting, all screaming little Bruce Lee machines. I would walk around the school and though the playground where all the little children would be practicing their moves and playing with their swords. They are good! They are very good.

I was training with some other Westerners, one had been there a year already, another had done 3 months last year, and is spending 5 months this year. We were sharing with a class of Taekwondo, who are a bit mad. When the girls scream (its to frighten the opponent and using the force of chi) they sound like scary banshees.

I trained 6 hours a day, and now I now longer punch like a girl. W-hoo. surprisingly I’m not as stiff I thought I would be, but then I did lots of stretching today, cos i knew I’d be walking around with my backpack. The stretching was just as hard as the actual martial arts, but they were really good, at making sure you stretched out properly. It is so easy to hurt yourself! Getting up in the mornings were a bit of a mission, especially when your legs don’t want to move.

17 Sept 2006

So, yesterday was A Good Day. Well, apart from losing my credit card, and now realising that I have to phone England to let them know, even though I’ve emailed them, which I know will cost a bomb ‘cos of the bloody automatic voices and cheesy music they play down the line knowing how much a min they’re charging me.

Bastards!

I hired out bikes and cycled through the rice fields with a bloke called Andreas. It was great and the views were stunning.Unfortunately the houses in the villages were getting rebuilt to be modern looking, which  just reminds me of how quickly China wants to modernise itself to compete with the Western world. However, once you turned your back, it epitomised my vision of the Chinese countryside; rice fields, mountains, women walking their cows with the typical Chinese hat and the sun beating down. The most important thing for me was the quietness of it all with only the wildlife making sounds and the air being so clean. I’ve never smelt fresh rice before and I loved it. The rice back home is always in packaging, so it was nice to see them in their natural state.

Speaking of which, down here is real Chinese food, as in having snake blood with vodka after eating the snake, having dogs reared for food, then chopping them up just like a pig. Some people have a hard time, but think about it, we eat cow etc, so its not really different.

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