Monday, 28 March 2011

A weekend walking

The fire pics from Valencia shall have to wait whilst I share with you the weekend just gone.

A few weeks ago (three, to be precise) I decided I wanted to head back to Snowdonia to climb the mountain again.  It came up over a Sunday lunch with my housemate (Kate) and a colleague/friend (Dave).  Then it came up again over a Monday lunch with Dave and another colleague/friend, Jen.  Dave, Jen and I had been to Snowdon (along with others) on a couple of occaisions last year and loved it.

So on Friday evening (5.30 by the time we all left our respective desks, gathered in the Wharf and met those we hadn't met before), we headed for Betws-y-Coed in north Wales.

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Saturday saw us heading up Snowdon.  There are loads of paths to take, with the Pyg Path and Miners Path being the most popular, Crib Goch being the most challenging, Llanberis the most boring and pretty much everything in between. 

Whilst we woke to cold and clouds (and snow flurries had been the early forecast, we were met with perfect walking weather - clear but not too warm nor to windy). We went up the Rhyd Ddu path to the South West and I can't reccomend it highly enough.  It takes a couple of hours but the snaky path and ridge walks mean you are constantly seeing new scenes and it really is stunning.  There was a mixutre of gentle and steep slopes and a variety of terrain (some scree but not too much).  I did not take nearly enough pics to really show it, but here's a few...

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early days, very early days
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looking back from about 1/4 of the way up, we started by the lake

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Nearer the top (this is the only pic with views, sorry about Dave being in it. This was about 2/3 up)

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At the top!  Yep, Dave was the only guy.
L-R, it's Dave (colleague), me, Priscilla (front, ex-colleague of Dave and Jen, left before I started here), Jen (at back, in red, colleague), My Le (colleague and who I sit next to at work, poor her), Kushma (My Le's college mate), Kate (my housemate).  This is a terrible photo of me but the only one of the whole group.

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Some of Snowdon as we walked back to the car.  We went more or less went up the right ridge and came down the left for a great big circle (14.6 kms)

Coming down, we went off in different directions - Jen and I back down the Snowdon Ranger path (so boring but I guess it was good to try a different one) which left us about a mile from the cars which we then collected.  Dave and P tackeld the Lliwedd path and first timers Kate, My Le and Kushma came down the stunning & enjoyable Miners  (it's a seriously steep descent but then an easy mostly flat walk on a path around a lake).

We rewarded ourselves with hot showers and a load of excellent welsh food afterwards. 

How were your weekends?  Able to get out and enjoy the weather? (was it even nice where you were?)

Friday, 25 March 2011

Friday Funday

Some random thoughts this Friday.


  • I am sunburnt and have a cold.  Go figure.  Go figure, knowing how much it hurts to blow an overly blown sunburnt nose.

  • I drove into work this morning.  For the second time since I've lived in London.  I quite liked it, had a smooth run with traffic enjoyed crossing Tower Bridge in the sunshine.  I don't have a car but was driving Scarlett, my housemate's (scarlett coloured) car. 

Driving to work

  • Scarlett came to work with me this morning as she's taking a group of us (seven, in two cars) to Snowdonia this afternoon for some mountain climbing over the weekend.  Tres looking forward to it.

  • Wonder how mountaing climbing will go, given my cold leaves me out of breath if I type too energetically?

  • I love seeing the sights of Europe but I'm just as happy in the open spaces of the UK.  Maybe even more so?  I just love vast open spaces (but don't want to live in the country).

  • Work is interesting at the moment.  Very very interesting.  Probably more on this another time although I rarely do blog/tweet/fb about it though.  If I do, it shall be done historically.

  • I'm part way through a Las Fallas post. There will be more than one but the first one sets the scenes.  I'm saving the ninots and fires for the second one.  Do you want me to include the video where I got hit by firecrackers?  (it's obvious when it happens, very very obvious!).

  • I'm not wearing any nail polish today.  I feel naked.  There is some in my handbag though so I might put it on at lunch time whilst I sit in the square by the fountain.

Happy weekend lovelies  (I'll be back this arvo with the first of the Las Fallas posts sans video of me getting hit by crackers)

Valencia - Las Fallas - Part 1

Part 1 and some...

So I've said that the weekend was brilliant and whacky and chaotic and crazy (all of which are true) but did I mention the sunhsine?

The Las Fallas festival, in part, comes from carpenters celebrating the end of Winter and burning their wooden scraps.   Those scraps are what previously made up the falles (or statues).  Now they're made by full time artisans.

What better way to celebrate the end of a long travelless London Winter with some glorious sunshine.  Walking in it, sitting in it, even laying in it (gardens and beach, not so much on the street) was just glorious. 

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Science and Arts Musuem (and carpark!!)
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The beach.  Oh how I loved it (but not my sunburnt feet and nose)
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Ceramics Museum (marbl building - quite amazing up close)
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One of the last remaining gates to the town from the Moorish times.
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The Central Market


...and on to the festival...

As mentioned, the festival is quite multi faceted.  Wiki does a pretty good job explaining things, so I'll be brief and just share some pics.  Pics of the statues & fires will follow seperately (there are so many - I want to cull etc).


La Mascleta  is the day time fireworks display.  I know - day time fireworks, right? I'd seen the once before and been completely underwhelmed.  These though, are paired with outright explosisions and create their own beat.  Completly amazing. Pics, well not so much so maybe just appreciate the blue blue sky that had me mesmorised.

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L'Ofrena Floral is the offering of the flowers to the virgin mary.  The offering is done in tradtional Valencian dress and left in the Plaza de la Virgen where they are then put to use building a huge statue (you can see the progress below over two days)

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The traditional dress is quite something.  I didn't get any great pics of it but here's the best...
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Loads were wearing veils as well but I don't seem to have any clear pics.  The parades of men and women in traditional dress (followed by brass bands at regular intervals) seemed to go from about 11am to 1am.


Els Castells refers to the nightly fireworks displays that get progressively later.  On the 17th they were at 1am, 1.30am on the 18th (La Nit del Foc).  It's well documented that I'm a sucker for fireworks so I loved them.  Whilst there wasn't anything I hadn't really seen before is terms of colour, size, spray etc, these were set of in such a rapid succesion and really built.  I loved it.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

What a weekend

Wow!  I’m back from the Las Fallas festival in Valencia, Spain and wow wow wow.  What a weekend (a long weekend).

I wanted to try and sum it up and share some pics tonight but instead ended up going hula hoop shopping and having pho with friends so a real recap might have to wait. The is probably a good thing as I don’t know what to make of it all any way. 

A festival for carpenters, to celebrate the end of winter and for the patron saint of Valencia. 

A festival that involves fireworks, firecrackers, fires, traditional dress, carnations and flower offerings, parades, brass bands, falles (statues, sometimes up to 7 storeys tall) and falles on fire?

A truly amazing weekend.  Whilst I go through the pics to try and recap it properly (or even just make some sense of it), check out this photo.  Do you see what I see?

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(and if you see what looks like Voldemort in it, then you see what I see.)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Ten on a Tuesday - 71

 Tuesday - questions from Angie via Chelsea - thanks girls.

1. What is your cleaning style like?
A real mixed bag.  I’m in a shared house but even when I lived solo, I don’t mind a messy bedroom but I hate mess elsewhere. I think that's because less people see my room? (in theory - it is usually where people dump their bags etc when they come over).

2. What is your favourite thing to add to an outfit to take it from casual to classy?
Probably some jewellery?  I’m not sure that makes it classy (most of my stuff is costume jewellery) but it’s what I do.

3. Do you like stormy weather?
Yep, sometimes if I have spare time and can hunker down inside and enjoy it.  Especially if there is a tin roof (rain on a tin roof is a sound I love)

4. What is your favourite cold treat on a hot day?
An icy pole – a calipo or something I guess?  I’m normally happily with some ice cold cordial too, and pineapple, oh how I love pineapple.

5. What is your favourite warm treat on a cold day?
A good coffee – to cradle and to savour.

6. Who is your favourite animated character?
Not sure I have one.  I use to spend a lot of time watching Tom & Jerry – maybe one of them?

7. What do you keep your jewellery in?
I have hand for the rings or necklaces I wear the most.  The rest are in a box on hanging on nails along the side of my bookshelf.


8. Do any of the rooms in your house have a theme?
No – not at all.

9. Do you watch any interior design TV shows – if so, what is your favourite?
No – I’m bad at making time for tele and when I do sit down to watch it, I rarely know what I’m watching.

10. When was the last time you did something risk-taking?
I can’t think of anything.  Probably jaywalked? (yeah, I don’t think I’m much of a risk taker)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

First World Problems–Travel

Want to know what I’ve spent my evenings doing?  Researching, booking, more researching and planning. 

Researching, planning and booking holidays.

Sometimes it’s the easiest thing in the world, but more often than not (especially when I’m travelling solo), my indecisiveness is near on crippling.

So what have I got booked in the last week or two?
  • A return flight from Barcelona (yep, I half book a trip to Valencia a few weeks ago and then the whole decision making about where I might like to end up got too much and I didn’t book the return.  I’m off to the Las Fallas Festival this Thursday.

  • A 10 day trip to Morocco.  Beginning and ending in Marrakech, I’ll be doing a southern clockwise loop, spending time riding camels in the Sahara, walking in the Anti Atlas Mountains, staying in a Berber village and then taking in the coast in Agadir and Essaouira

  • A climbing weekend in Snowdon.  I'm heading back there with some colleagues and a housemate the weekend after this. (Here's one of two trips there from last year)

And what can’t I sort my stuff out for?  Lots.  The following are trips I’ve committed to but yet to book:
  • Amsterdam and the bulb fields.  The dates for this are just about confirmed, just waiting to confirm numbers (otherwise, I know which flights I want to take)

  • Isle of Wight music festival – tickets booked, but need to sort out transport (cars, ferries, etc).  A dear mate is coming over from Australia for this (which coincides with her thirtieth).  I think there is 16 of us going.  It’s not like I’m trying to organise everyone, but I do often feel I’m trying to please everyone.

  • Paris – The same friend that is coming over for Isle of Wight is spending some time in Europe.  I’ll be meeting her for the weekend in Paris.  If I must (it’s not actually a place I like but I haven’t been for years so I’m thinking maybe this is the time I fall in love with it)
 

Other trips in the pipeline are for Eastern Europe (including a music festival in Budapest), something for my 30th (in November, thinking of Borneo), a trip home to Australia (for a wedding and Christmas), Santorini (we just didn't do it justice last Summer) and whatever else comes along.

It’s going to be a great year for travel – if only I could make some small decisions.  If you could go anywhere, where would you go? (I’d choose India but I don’t want to go solo so I’m waiting for my mates to realise just how cool it will be).

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Let there be painted nails

And let them be colourful.

After the longest time of sticking to clear polish on the fingers, I’m enjoying the freedom I’ve given myself to lash out a little, add a splash of colour.

Here’s what I’ve been wearing lately:


OPI Texas I Vant To Be A-Lone Star 15ml   /   OPI Texas Do You Think I'm Tex-y? 15ml   /   OPI Texas Austin-tatious Turquoise 15ml 
Mavala Berlin   /   Essie Sugar Daddy  /   Colour 1 seconde – Bourjois Paris    /   Colour 1 seconde


The Mavala (Berlin) is my favourite so far (and what I'm currently wearing) but the Essie will get the most wear I imagine - it's a sheer pink, just lovely.  The others are all just a bit of fun.  The OPIs were in a little mini's pack - so whilst I love the Do You Think I'm Texy and Austin-tatious, I wouldn't have gone for the I vant to be a Lone Star on its own.  They lack coverage too - like it takes 3 or 4 coats for some vibrancy (where as I'm used to Mavala ones which only need a coat or two).


Any polishes you are digging?  Excited about Summer comming?  It's my toes that I really love to wear the colours on

Whilst I was missing–London

February (and January even) wasn’t a bust.  Far far from it.  There was lots of fun to be had.


  • There was the London Ice Sculpting Festival (bicycle…bicycle…I want to ride my bicycle)
  • There was Anish Kapoor’s exhibition “Turning the World Upside Down” at Hyde Park (admittedly on a cloudy day – would be brilliant in the sunshine)
  • There was a free afternoon spent at the (free) Tate Modern (including Monet)
  • There was Chinese New Year in China Town (briefly, before we escaped the madness for dim sum south of the river)
  • There was roller derby (go Ultra Violent Femmes, Bruisin’ Susan is cheering for you)

And yes, there was certainly inconsistent camera use! Very very much so.

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And then there were things I didn’t take pictures of – nights out, friend’s engagements, movies and random good times.   So February, you are my least favourite month but that doesn’t mean I hate you!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Ten on a Tuesday - 69

Can we have a yee ha for Spring?  With March beginning, Feb is behind us.  Great news for me as it’s been my least favourite month as long as I’ve lived in the UK (and probably before).  I quite like Winter and being all cosy cosy but I’m over it come February.  A general “meh” sort of sets in.  Hopefully now that that is behind me, I’ll lift my game*. 

Today being Tuesday brings another ten questions. Thanks Chelsea


1. What type of cell phone do you have and how would you rate it?
iPhone 3GS.  I’m sure you’ve seen/heard enough about them.  The camera is pretty sucky, I don’t love it as a phone but I do love it as a gadget.

2. What has been your most serious injury?
Torn ligaments in my ankle and knee.  In one fell swoop, I damaged the right ankle ligaments whilst tearing cartilage and my posterior cruciate ligament in my left knee.  Nothing that surgery and six months of physio (3 times a week) couldn’t fix.

3. What is one movie you hate and why?
A Single Man.  I know it’s meant to be great but I just found it dull.  It wasn’t slow as that implies it took a long time to get to the point.  There was no point!  (I wish I liked it – a lot of people who’s opinion I respect and usually agree with liked it).

4. How many email addresses do you have?
Three – a work one, my personal one and then a spammy one for when I want to sign up for things on the webs.

5. What website do you waste the most time on?
Google Reader I suspect?  or newspapers sites (http://www.theage.com.au/ – more so in Aussie rules season).

6. Which Mexican restaurant makes the best salsa?
My favourite Mexican restaurant here is Wahaca but I’ve not really paid attention to the Salsa.

7. What is your dream car?
Lame, but I don’t really have one.  I wouldn’t mind a new Ford Fiesta but that’s not a dream dream car.  I don’t need a car in London and given parking permits, congestion charge etc, I’m not sure one would add to much to my life which makes it hard to dream about it I guess.  Maybe a camper though, that could be cool?

8. If you could spend up to $100 with no strings or restrictions or guilt, what would you buy?
Music and nail polish.  I’m in a music buying phase and lusting after quite a few nail polishes at the moment.

9. What is your favourite board game?
There’s no board per se but I love Scattegories.  Always have.

10. How often do you change your hairstyle?
Infrequently.  As in, I had it cut on the weekend for the first time since July 2010.  Within said period, sometimes I straighten it, sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I tie it back, sometimes I don’t.

*It's not all doom and gloom - I had a lot of fun in Feb which I'll share too