The worse driver

Today’s topic from WordPress is to describe the worse driver I know. 

There has only been a handful times where my life has flashed before my eyes. This is the story of one of them.

Back in 2004, I was steadily climbing up the retail ladder at my local Body Shop. As assistant manager, I had to attend a training day up in Telford. It was a Big Deal, and I was tasked to bring what I had learnt back to our little shop in Hastings. My boss suggested that I, along with the rest of the assistant managers, share cars and drive up to Shropshire.

So that’s what did. We met up at Bluewater car park and decanted into the various cars.

I had an awful time up there. Not with the Body Shop conference – that was great – but groups of girls can be hard work and very, very bitchy.

The journey home was uneventful, up until Bluewater. The girl from Tunbridge Wells offered to drive me back to her home town, where I would take the train back down to the coast. This girl gave blonds and women a very bad name. After realising that she was about to miss a turning off the motorway, she decided to cut across several lanes and drive over the lane markings. A second more, we would have crashed into the barrier.

So far, so scary.

Weirdly, she decided to add time to our journey by taking a different route, because she was: “passing by her house, and was annoyed that he couldn’t go home.” By this time, I was a little weary of her attitude and just wanted to get out. This was then I realised that the road she was driving on wasn’t a dual carriageway and there was another car hurtling towards us at great speed.

I think I managed to squeak something out, but thankfully there were some traffic lights which were red. Trying not to go berserk, I asked if she realised she was driving on the wrong side of the road.

She said no.

I have never wanted to get out of a car so quickly!

Seeking an adventure

I may have treated my boyfriend to Iceland for his 30th this year, but I have decided to trek to Everest Base Camp when I turn the big 3-0 in November.

Ever since I spoke to a couple of travellers who told me November was a good time for Everest, and having spent my 25th in Melbourne, I wanted to celebrate the end of my 20’s in true teacup and cake style. Seeking another adventure by climbing a big ol’ mountain.

At the moment, I’m at the research stage. I went and borrowed a couple of books from my local library – The Longest Climb by Dominic Faulkner, Everest Exposed by George Band – to get me in the mood. I haven’t read them yet, but I’m looking forward to some good reads.

Not  confident to hop over to Nepal and organise the trip, I’m looking into an organised tour over here in the UK. My starting place was www.responsibletravel.com. I believe that when embarking on a trip such as this, it’s important to be sensitive to the environment and to the place that you visit. Not only do I want my money to go back to the people in the country that I spend my time in, I want to make sure that it’s sustainable for future generations.

What am I looking for? Well, I want to make sure that the porters have decent shoes and that they are not overloaded when transporting things up Everest, that local guides are used and the group is not too big. That’s just the starting point.

If you can help me with any tips or suggestions, let me know.

The un-suprise birthday – part II

If you ever got to Iceland, then I thoroughly recommend the Blue Lagoon Spa. The naturally heated water is the by-product of the nearby geothermal plant. Visited by over 400, 000 people yearly, the water is changed every 40 hours and can get very hot, as I found out whilst swimming past one of the water outlets.

Being British, I don’t see very many naked women – even in the gym. There was boobies and bums everywhere in the changing rooms. I didn’t know where to look. Awkward.

The lagoon itself is man-made and surrounded by Iceland’s volcanic rock. There was still snow on the rocks, although steam was coming off the water. We were lucky, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. The water is supposed to have healing properties, and is good for those who have psoriasis, thanks to the mixture of silica, algae and minerals.

In total we spent about five hours at the lagoon. The was partly due to the fact that we decided that we wanted to have massages, and there was a waiting list. I decided to go for the silica salt glow and massage. It was supposed to be leave me rejuvenated and relaxed. I just felt seasick. The salt scrub wasn’t  the problem. It was the in-water massage that wanted to make me hurl. The burly Icelandic man who performed my treatment, slid me off the bench after the scrub, and floated me on a mat where he proceeded to do the massage. For me, there was too much movement, and I spent most of my time concentrating on not being sick. It was a shame, as it was quite a good massage. It was a very odd experience.

It turns out that come four o’clock on a Saturday, the Icelandic youth use the lagoon as a pick-up joint. The bar opens up, and it becomes one big social. And yes, I just happened to be chatted up too, which flattered and amused me immensely. As soon as the boys found out I was British, the brief conversation turned to football. (Of course!) They happened to be Man U and Chelsea fans. I come from a Tottenham family, so I bantered with them for a bit before being rescued by my boyfriend.

If you ever go to the Blue Lagoon,then remember to douse your hair with conditioner – I used an intensive condition. The water will turn your hair crispy.

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Read part I

A Very Good Day

Saturday was A Very Good Day. Very Good Days don’t happen to me very often. It involves cupcakes.

It started with Lomography’s first stop on their LomoRoadshow around the UK. Starting the very hip and cool Hotel Pelicrocco in Brighton, littlemisslove and golfpunkgirl ran down the list of assorted Lomocameras and their accessories. I’ve only recently got into Lomography, and I’ve discovered a whole new (expensive) world waiting for me.

I acquired my Diana F+ at Christmas. It takes 120 film, meaning it takes a bigger film than the standard 35mm. It also means that developing is expensive. Thankfully, Lomo have produced a 35mm back. Out of my first roll of 36 exposures, only 11 came out. I was gutted. So, seeing a tweet about the LomoRoad show, I immediately signed up without thinking (Lomo rule 6).

After the talk, we grabbed our borrowed cameras, and went on a walkabout. I decided to try the LC-A+. Unlike my Diana, which is all plastic, this camera has a glass lens and can auto expose. I also tried a new type of film – the red scale, with the hope that they will have a vintage feel to them.

We went down to the carcass of the West Pier (which caught fire in 2003) and walked along the beach. The obligatory hen party rolled into town, complete with blow-up doll and t-shirts emblazoned with classy names such as Vibrator Vicky and Handjob Hannah. The hen, dressed in a gold number and heels, tried out her skateboarding and basketball skills with the local lads. Of course, this was perfect photo fodder and we trailed them like their own personal pack of paparazzo.

After about 20 mins, we drifted away from the hen party and finished up at the merry-go-round. I can’t wait to develop my photos and to see everyone else’s. Here’s a photo taken of the group by Adam Bronkhorst.

They day got even better when I popped in to see a couple of friends armed with some scrummy cupcakes. The chingwag soon turned into a Very Good Idea. Hopefully we can develop our Good Idea into something workable before I unveil our mission to take over the world. Muhahaha.

The final Good Thing to happen was at the train station. There I was standing idly on the platform, when a friend I made Mongolia stepped off the train. I hadn’t seen him since 2006. That was a nice surprise. I’m hoping we’ll be able to catch up for a drink over the summer.

Twas A Very Good Day indeed.

If you have a Lomo, find me at my Lomo home.

The un-surprise birthday – part I

The intention was to surprise my boyfriend at Heathrow airport with tickets to Iceland. After three months of planning and secrecy, I fell down at the last hurdle. Two days before we were due to fly out, I blurted out our destination, whilst moaning about my dreadful cold.

Damn you illness.

Iceland was desolate, cold and full of rocks. Staying at the  family run Northern Light Inn, we were about a 15 min walk from the Blue Lagoon Spa. The hotel staff were very friendly, offering a free transfer to and from the airport and a free ride into Grindavik, the nearest town of 3, 000 people. The hotel itself was very clean, with a very comfy bed. Behind the hotel was a big geothermal power plant, which spewed out stream 24-hours a day. At night, the lights cast an eerie glow, which wouldn’t look out-of-place in a horror movie.

We were lucky enough to see the northern lights on the first night of our stay. It was around 10am, when I noticed a green patch in the sky. Not really knowing what to look out for, I thought it was my eyes going funny. The more I looked at it, the more it reminded of Slimer from Ghostbusters. Grabbing my boyfriend we stepped outside of our hotel and watched it dance across the sky. Now, I know I’ve just used an over used cliché to describe the lights. But, that’s what it looked like. It was amazing. My camera (for once) caught it better than our naked eye. It wasn’t until the next day that we were told it was better after midnight. By that point, we had gone to bed. Huge mistake as it was the only night we managed to catch it.

The lights are mythical beasts. You never know when they’re going to appear and for how long. Naturally, there are many folklore to describe the Aurora Borealis. For some that are an omen, for others it was a sign of doom. The Icelandic believed that if a pregnant woman gazed up at the lights, their child would be crossed-eyed! My favourite story is that souls having a party in the sky.

The scientific explanation is the lights are caused by solar winds from the sun interfering with the earth’s magnetic field. Personally I like hearing the myths. The science takes a bit of the magic away.

That’s the end of part I. Look out for part II sometime this week!

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Sun = smelly bin on train

So I finally found Southern Rail’s real Twitter account – not that I was looking, mind. I’ve been following their alias @Southern_Trains for a while. Their tweets light up my somewhat miserable journey. It also reminds to me that other people are suffering more hellish journeys than me.

Today’s return journey, the 5.09 from the Sunshine Coast to God’s Waiting Room-on-Sea consisted of a foul-smelling bin, more prams, no air con and no seat. Joy.  The smelly bin now means were officially in summer. All this for a princely sum of 73.80.

What I don’t understand is the 5.09  on a Friday is always busy. The 8.22  from God’s Waiting Room-on-Sea to the Sunshine Coast is always busy. Why not put more carriages on?

I posed the question to @SouthernRailUK.

No response just yet.

To be fair,  the staff at my little station at God’s Waiting Room-on-Sea are good. One kindly told me that if I paid until the station after my stop, it was actually cheaper. Odd pricing, but hey, if it saves me pennies… The station itself is spotless and the staff are friendly. All in all, the trains are usually on time. Here’s my post on trains and the snow last year.