Monday, 30 April 2012

Z is for Zinnia

And so we reach the end. I don't know about all of you but I feel a bit ZZZZZ after all those blog posts. I thought about ending with Z is for Zebra as I started with A is for Apple but decided against that. By the way, did you ever wonder what colour zebras actually are? Well, they are black with white stripes - not white with black stripes.

  That post would have been a bit monochrome so  instead this thread is more colourful as I shall add a few pictures of the Zinnia, a very pretty flower from the Americas, mostly situated in Mexico, and a member of the Astor family. Strangely the Spanish used to call them Mal De Ojos or the Evil Eye, but also because they were considered to be ugly! They like hot dry climates so if you want to grow them and don't live in such a place may do better grown in a greenhouse, but can be put outside once it has germinated. There are many different types, and lots of different pretty colours. They attract butterflies which is a bonus.

  I actually had this name on my baby name list for my first child but The Chauffeur discounted it - one of many names I liked. He didn't have any particular choice but I had a huuge list. He wouldn't go for anything unusual, that included Zinnia, but also any 'hippy' type names I liked such as Meadow or Blue. Nor anything too old fashioned, out went my Olde English choices such as Isolde, no foreign names as the surname is foreign and he was worried about bullying, out went Titziana. in fact my huuge list was quite shortened by the end. Not that I chose anything too different, certainly not Talula Does The Hula In Hawaii as had been chosen in Australia, nor Number 16 Bus Shelter - another real choice! With choices like those what on earth is wrong with Zinnia? In the end we went with sensible traditional which luckily I do like a lot, though very popular.

So, we have reached the end and I find it all quite sad. But don't forget the Reflection Post. I will be visiting many more blogs in the coming year as the list will still be up, so that will be fun. In the meantime have a look at some more Zinnias - none of them  mine, of course as she is named something quite different.

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Apologies yet again for being a day late.

Although I don't live in Yorkshire or anywhere near it's the area where The chauffeur's mother is from and I've been to visit. It's beautiful, rugged and wild.

It's the location of my very favourite book - Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Emily was the daughter of a Curate and led a simple quiet life. People often wonder at the passion shown in her book not understanding where she could have found it, but surely the area she lived had some hand in it due to the wild land around, the space and the rugged Dales. I have been to her house and walked those Dales, it is easy to imagine a passionate Cathy and brooding Heathcliffe wandering around there.

  More history of Yorkshire is the War of the Roses, the name of which is so contradictory if you imagine roses to be harmless, sweet smelling flowers. The reality is the House of York was represented by a white rose and were at war against the House of Lancaster, represented by a red rose. This war went on for 30 years before Lancaster won and the Tudors took the throne from the Plantagenets.

Yorkshire's most famous culinary dish is the Yorkshire pudding. Not a sweet or pudding dish at all, it's savoury and made of flour eggs and milk, very similar to a pancake but cooked so it rises, the higher the better. The correct Yorkshire way is to serve it large with gravy, but is usually eaten nowadays smaller with a roast meat dinner, preferably on a Sunday. No roast dinner is complete without a Yorkshire pudding!

 This area had also been taken over by the Vikings who invaded the territory during the 10th century after arriving on the Cumbrian coast in their Longships . It was they who gave the capital of this area the name York, though spelt Jorvik which was Scandinavian for 'Camp of the Cheiftains. There is a legacy for the invasion in the red hair sported by a large number of people from this area, including my mother in law. A recent DNA test of many from here showed a high genetic link back to the Scandinavian countries showing that their ancestors came from there more so than a genetic link to the the UK, even after all these several hundred years. If anyone gets the chance to see a bit of Viking life you can visit the Jorvik Viking Centre where you first watch a little video of the history of Yorkshire, then you get into a sort of trolley which moves around a reconstruction of a Viking village all the while moving along above the village as you look down into it. There are sights, sounds and, quite interestingly, smells that may have been around, nice Viking food smells counteracted by not so nice public toilet smells with sound effects to go with it!!

I have included a link to the website of the centre - warning, you may feel in need of your own shield if you click on this.

Friday, 27 April 2012

XIII and XV...

  ...are the ages of my girls. I am slightly longer (and older) with XLVII, and The Chauffeur is XLIV. We are all presently X rated (sorry, lame joke).

As you can see these are Roman Numerals. Not all numbers start with X of course, and there are certain rules about the use of the numbers so that the X can mean 10 less than the next number letter - does that make sense?

We have all seen Roman Numerals about, most commonly on clocks, but also on door numbers and tombstones among others. They are a very efficient numeral way to write numbers but went out of fashion when we began using the Hindu-Arabic numerals in the 14th century which you can see on your keyboard right now. One big difference between the two systems is that although they were also decimal the Roman Numerology did not have a number for zero which is quite odd to think about now, I'm not sure how they got around that in general but some ancients used Nulla meaning None.

There are a few rules for using Roman Numerals, the first being that the subtractive numbers on the left should only be I, X or C but not the multiply by 'five' numbers, V, L and D. That number must be less than a 10th of the following letter, and only one letter is usually allowed to the left. This is why both The Chauffeur and I have an X before the L in our ages. I won't be too happy when I lose that X before the L and even less so when it moves to the right. I say there are rules but they are often disregarded and some numbers can be written ridiculously long, for instance my age could have been written XXXXVII which looks quite pretty, now I look at it.

Here are the number symbols with our modern number next to them to let you know what they all are in case you are unsure.

I = 1
V = 5
X = 10
L = 50
C = 100
D = 500
M = 1,000

So, can you work out our ages?

Where Did Yesterday Go?

The title is referring to the fact I'm a day late in the W post which was supposed to go up yesterday. The fact is I was pretty busy and didn't get a minute to do one.

Up at 6.30 to get my girls ready for school, I also walk them to their school bus to make sure they won't miss it. I just know if daughter#2 didn't have me to chivvy her along she'd miss it have to return home to take a couple of public buses arriving at school 2 hours late! So, that was an hour of my time walking there and back plus an extra bit of supermarket shopping time (thank goodness for 24 hour shopping giving us the choice to buy a courgette or whatever takes our fancy when we want, but that is a post for another time - do they take away our choice, too?).

Housework, lovely housework took up some time then out with The Chauffeur looking at yet more kitchen cupboard units ready for the kitchen makeover launch in a few weeks (finally). Back just in time for my online work which ran over by an hour, quick bath, prepare meal for family and straight back to work with my meal in one hand and typing with the other. Finished at 11pm. Turned off laptop to unwind in front of inane TV shows and remembered it was my deadline for my invoice to go in, grrr. Switched my laptop back on to get the dates I'd worked last month, switched on The Chauffeur's laptop to do the invoices and timesheets - due to only wanting to pay for Office Word on one machine we keep it on his laptop so all invoices go through that one. I am so happy as I managed to do them all by myself for the very first time. I envisaged waking daughter#2 up as she's always had to help me in the past - I am far too computer illiterate to do it normally - and sent them off at 11.30pm, just in the very nickest of time (I hope, or I don't get paid for last month *shiver*).

I was then too shattered too think of a W topic and get it typed out so watched the inane TV show which turned out to be quite enjoyable in the end. Unfortunately when I went to bed my mind didn't - that means it wouldn't go to sleep and just flicked from one nuisance thought to another, all to do with things I might have done wrong or things I need to do or things which might happen and then go wrong - why is it when you can't sleep you can't at least think nice happy thoughts and only horrid unwanted ones pop up into your mind?

So, that was my day, hectic but not with anything particularly important, just one thing to another to another with no stop and then it was today, so Where Did Yesterday Go?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Founded in 1978by Gianni Versace, this company makes the most beautiful clothes. Often considered to be extremely elegant. Although Gianni was sadly murdered in 1997 his company carried on, being looked after by various members of his family, the most well known of them being Donnatella who actually only owns 20% of the business while her daughter Allegra owns 50%. The business doesn't seem to have been affected by losing Gianni's creative force.

The design company covers several different things including perfume but is mainly associated with it's clothing, especially the dresses. These are coveted by the wealthy and famous, there is never an Oscar night without at least one of the Versace range of dresses being worn. Here are a few of the 2012 dresses.



Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Life, The Universe and Everything

  I remember listening to my Uncle when I was young while he pondered questions such as 'Where do we come from',  'How did we get here,' 'What's it all for', and feeling fascinated and also quite scared. It was all so BIG, these thoughts he was discussing which I with my young brain was listening to. He wasn't spiritual or religious in any way and neither was I, so we couldn't use faith as an explanation. It was all more scientific and also philosophical. How did the Universe come about, where had it come from and what was it's purpose, if any? How did we little humans happen, why were we the only intelligent beings that we knew of.

My uncle did believe in aliens, not so many people did back then so lots of people thought he was a bit odd for it. He thought there must be life on other planets, that in fact we may have had connections to them in some way. I don't think he knew about the belief of many nowadays, of aliens landing on this planet and somehow starting our life form here, either as a direct result of descendants or that they somehow merged their DNA with apes or some or animal here, but if he had he would have jumped on that theory as quite likely, I feel sure.

Personally, I don't know about that, could be true, might not be. But like most people now do believe I think there has to be other intelligent life forms out there somewhere in one of the millions/billions of planets floating around the stars.

What we know, or surmise, about the Universe is all very fascinating and awesome. It's expanding for one thing, growing outwards and spreading apart the distances between the stars. The things we know which are there but can't actually see such as black holes and the immense power they contain is amazing, but also scary when you know they suck up everything around them including whole stars. If they can do that what hope have we to survive? 

It's so easy to worry about what is out there, what we don't know about, as well as what we do know. But really the answer is already known, Douglas Adams told us in his book 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'. The answer is 42, yes, number Forty Two. So, now we need not worry anymore. It's the answer to it all, Life, the Universe and Everything - 42. Ah now I feel better for knowing that.

Monday, 23 April 2012

T is for Tea

My beverage of choice. I do love a good cup of coffee but drink tea much more often. Several cups a day, large and strong, it needs to be builders brew strength. If I feel the need for a cup later in the evening then I'll go for a Red bush as it's decaffeinated. I first came across this tea after reading Alexander McCall Smiths novels about Precious Ramotswe in Botswana. She is also a big tea drinker, and introduced me to Red Bush, though her assistant private detective Mma Makutsi prefers regular tea.

They also taught me to slow down while drinking tea and just enjoy it while relaxing, it helps them come up with solutions to the often gentle crimes or dilemmas they have been employed to solve. I try to use my tea drinking to just stop a few minutes and just drink, it doesn't give me any insight into anything but I do enjoy it more and feel ready for whatever needs doing next.

When reading other blogs I do like a cup in my hand, too. I hope you are doing the same with the drink you like best.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Seth Thomas

Seth Thomas - Clockmaker.

I know nothing about him except what my partner has told me over the years. He is a very enthusiastic clock lover, whose hobby is buying antique clocks and fixing them up. We have so many now we have stored a lot in the attic, but he still can't stop looking around antique shops, going to auctions and buying off Ebay. To be able to continue his love of buying and restoring he now he has begun selling the ones he has no room for.

Seth Thomas was an American clockmaker from the 19th century. He was an active clockmaker in Plymouth Hollow, Connecticut where he had a factory making mass produced clocks in the American style but with a brass movement. In the event of his death they renamed the town Thomaston. It's a good way to date his clocks, if they had been labelled  'Plymouth Hollow' they were usually made pre 1865, if they were labelled Thomaston they would have been made afterwards.

He had his own clock hands with the symbols S on the minute hand and T on the hour hand which were called, simply, ST hands. If you come across any hands with these symbols you are looking at Seth Thomas hands. He was also famous for producing OG and drop dial wall clocks. The clocks are wooden rectangular boxes with a brass movement inside often with colourful glass tablets symbolising flowers or the American eagle, which were reverse painted.

We have several of his clocks adorning our walls although my preference is for French slate clocks. We have, in fact, clocks of many other kinds around the house, mostly antique but luckily not wound up or there's a cacophony on the hour and half hour. Seth Thomas is my partner's favourite clockmaker. The photos are his, the one above he sold and the one below is the newest acquired awaiting restoration. No pretty picture to show with it yet as the painted urn and flower arrangement is cracked.

Friday, 20 April 2012


'See Rome and Die' as the saying goes (it should be see Naples and die but got twisted over time). I won't talk too much about it as most people know so much already, but if it is at all possible I do recommend you to go visit some time if you haven't already. If you been already have you'll understand why I say this.

Visiting has changed over the years I've been going, there are more street vendors selling handbags and the like with their wares spread over the pavement, and more beggarwomen, the older ones having a little shake which miraculously clears up at home time, and the young girls tugging at your clothes, hands outstretched. But the sites are still there, more and more charging to see them as this is necessary to help keep them looked after. Italy has dire money problems and as much as they love their antiquities there's not much money left over to keep them safe.

Try not to go during the hottest months, August is like a sauna, and whatever you do don't go out at midday, there's another saying, 'Only Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out in the Midday Sun' and there's a reason for this - it's Too Hot!

But do go and enjoy, sit near a cool fountain and watch the world, wander around, a lot of the touristy sites are within walking distance from each other. Don't stress, if you don't see it all just be happy with what you have seen and enjoy the ambiance, the sights, sounds and smells of Rome itself. It's not just about the famous ancient places as there are ancient buildings and monuments everywhere, but also just know you are there in Rome and enjoy that in and for itself.

Rome is one of the most wonderful of cities, beautiful, can be exhausting, friendly, sometimes expensive, but always well worth it.

Thursday, 19 April 2012


  This post isn't anything so much about the word as about the business my parents in law had which was named Quintessential. They gave it this name due the the quintessentialness of their products and also because it was a play on the word 'essential' as they sold essential oils and products using them.

They made wonderful shampoos, bubble bath, moisturising cream and other items of this nature. The products were made to recipes devised by my mother in law. She had started her career as a nurse, midwife then matron of a private boarding boys school. She left this type of work to study the body in a slightly different way and also aromatherapy and, using this study, became a masseur. This naturally led on to her Quintessential business. I still have never found a better body lotion for my daughter#1's eczema or chest rub for my daughter#2's persistent cough.

They sold their wares in a centuries old manor house along with other craft sellers such as a quilter. There were other craftsmen outside like a blacksmith, some glass makers and potters. A horse and cart carried visitors around the very pretty village situated right next to the house. My in laws had an entire field in the grounds where they grew several varieties of lavender from which, when harvested, they distilled their own lavender oil. It was all quite idyllic.

Quintessential means the best, and their products were the best, being sold in the best setting.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

People Watching

One of the best pastimes, in my opinion. Nothing much beats sitting in a cafe, for instance, with a latte and a piece of cake watching the world go by. Outside,  weather permitting, you can watch people walk past going about their business, shopping in hand or not. I don't buy into this idea that people should not watch others, nor to be interested in them. Why can't we wonder about each other? I've never understood the notion that we should mind our own business and to keep our noses out, that makes for a sadder world, ignoring those who have nothing to do with us. Are we not all connected in some way? Some countries are more likely to believe this than others. In Italy there is no way you can be anonymous, as your neighbours will know what you are doing and don't have any compunction in discussing it with their friends and family. They know what you are doing as they will have observed it, not to be malicious in any way but simply because they are interested. I love this way.

Anyway, back to my cafe watching. I do enjoy wondering where the people walking past will be going, to the opticians just there? Or the bank across the way? Ah, there he goes, into the florists, I wonder what flowers he's buying, are they for his wife, his mother? Indoors I wonder about the other customers, that young couple there, holding hands and giggling so much, is this an early date as they are behaving differently from that couple sitting companionably but not talking much, they look happy but more established. The ladies at that table with several bags of shopping, is this meeting a regular thing or are they here buying for a special occasion and stopping for a quick rest.

Other places to people watch are public places such as a town square or places where lots of people gather. There's a lovely harbourside in my town next to the river where people go, especially on sunny weekends, people just wander up and down which is nice to do and to watch.

Okay, okay, maybe I am a bit nosy, but really I am simply interested as people are interesting. There's no rudeness involved, I don't want to poke my nose in, it's a passing curiosity is all. There is a difference.

What do you think? Is it nosy or is it acceptable?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Here is a little list of cooking oils and their uses.

Sesame - this one often gets used for stir fry dishes. it has been around at least 2,500 years and was one of the first types of oil. Sesame is a good source of Vitamin E and can help lower blood pressure. It sells for a relatively high price due to the difficulty in extracting the oil from the sesame seeds.

Olive - the extra virgin is best used cold for salads, the regular better for cooking. One of the most well known, also reputed to be good for lowering cholesterol. The extra virgin oil is from it's first cold pressing, the rest from further pressings.This oil has been used for around 5,000 years spreading out from the Mediterranean to Northern Africa.

Almond - not often used in cooking, it's a great oil for mixing with scented essential oils for use in massages, etc. it's also very good for the skin, rehydrating dry skin as it absorbs very well.
Walnut - nice for salad dressings, either alone or mixed with vinegar or lemon, and especially if used with walnuts. Like most other oils it should be stored in a cool, dark area to stop it going rancid. Also used by the Renaissance painters as a base thinner. It's a good source of  Omega 3 fatty acids as well as several Vitamins.

Sunflower - Nice and bland, great for cooking with, doesn't leave much of an after taste and can be used at high heat.

Pumpkin seed- a dark brown oil, also used in salad dressing. It has a smoky flavour which doesn't appeal to everyone. An important export from Austria and Slovenia. I've not tried it but apparently is good drizzled on ice cream, or mixed with honey to make a dressing.

Corn - another bland oil. It can be used in all kinds of cooking although it is now being warned that overuse of any kind of corn isn't good for the body, increasing chances of developing certain diseases as well as depression. This is in part due to excessive amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Nasa News

Today's letter N is incorporating one of my occasional posts on anything Nasa. This time I have added this gorgeous photo of 'baby stars creating chaos' as they depict it. The below is copied and pasted from their site about this photograph. Isn't nature amazing?

Chaos in Orion

Baby stars are creating chaos 1,500 light-years away in the cosmic cloud of the Orion Nebula. Four massive stars make up the bright yellow area in the center of this false-color image for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Green indicates hydrogen and sulfur gas in the nebula, which is a cocoon of gas and dust. Red and orange indicate carbon-rich molecules. Infant stars appear as yellow dots embedded in the nebula.
Image Credit: NASA  

Sunday, 15 April 2012


Mercato in Italian. 

I love markets, the sight and sound and smell of them. The hustle and bustle. I can't understand it when people get irritated by the crowds as that is part and parcel of the charm in my view. Yes, you get jostled but what of it?  I don't mind a bit of jostle, myself.

My favourite markets are in Italy, in particular the one I go to when I stay with my family. It has all the usual stalls, cheap clothes from China, inexpensive jewellery and hair accessories, handbags and many other sundries. But the stalls I go for are the food ones.

The stalls overflow with whatever is in season, fresh as fresh, and smelling absolutely divine. The vendors who aren't in actual transaction call out there wares often with hoarse voices as they've been moving from town to town every day shouting out the same way. They then pack your carrier bags full. People don't just buy 4 or 5 apples at a time they buy kilos so their bags are groaning with the one item, then they'll buy a whole bag full of freshly harvested greens, and a whole bag of artichokes. A lot of people , men included, pull trolleys behind them so they can fit all their bags into them if they want more than a few different items as each one needs a bag of it's own. You can buy a whole tray of figs fresh off a tree, or large tray of eggs which are generally straight from the chicken that morning.

 Then you go to get the meat. This is sold from vans rather than a stall to keep it more hygienic, though often the vendors have set up a table in front to slice the meat which is direct from a hunk of pork shoulder and other types of meat. Our preferred  meat seller in the mercato, the whole family work at the van and have been for generations, but due to EU regulations now don't rear their own pigs so we don't get the individual flavour that used to come from the particular food fed to those pigs. There is also a large choice of salamis, porcetta and sausages among other types of meat to choose from.

 Then people go for the cheeses, most of them regional but a few from other areas, everyone finishes their main lunch meal with cheese so these stalls are important. My favourite stall of all is the olive one which contains several different types and sizes of olive which are kept in large wooden bowls covered in brine but still fresh. There are a few other things such as various nuts and seeds also on offer in these stalls. I usually go for large green olives with no added flavour or stuffing, and some pistachios.

 All the time as you walk around you see friends and family. Getting the groceries becomes an event in itself, stopping and chatting, bit of gossip, bit of world saving discussion, bit of weather moaning - this last is a big topic favourite. People go to buy at the market but also to catch up with other people, you do see many people, generally older men who just wander around, hands behind their backs till they see someone they know and call out to them, stopping for a chat before moving on to see who else is around, or maybe just to experience the actual market itself.

Italian markets are noisy and crowded and just so full of life.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Liza Minnelli

She lives her life to the full, and always seems to enjoy it despite heartache and health problems. The daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli she had an unusual upbringing with many top actors and other film icons in her life, in a way she never found out how to live as a regular person but can seem as down to earth as anyone can be. Sometimes a little Diva, sometimes a good ole gal.

With a fantastic voice and wonderful on screen presence she lights up anything she is in whether a film, or even a TV interview. Here she is in what I consider her best film singing the title song, Cabaret (how she didn't fall off her chair always amazes me)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

K is for Kaki

I took a leaf out of another A - Z Challenge blogger for a post for the K letter and simply looked one up using google. The first word to jump out at me from the huge list was Kaki. I think this word caught my eye as I had several imaginary friends as a child and the only one I remember clearly was named Kaki for some obscure reason, even to me. There wasn't an actual spelling for his name but Kaki will do. He was long and thin and adult aged who helped and played with me, but wasn't quite human. No idea why I imagined him, just one of those childhood things for which there is no particular explanation.

So, to the real meaning of Kaki. There are a few, one is a bird which paddles about in water with it's long legs, it is also called a Stilt (various types) -  perhaps the origin of the word for the sticks used for walking tall, that is used by stilt walkers. This bird lives in the Southern hemisphere, the name Kaki is the Maori name for the Black Stilt.

The other usage of the word is for a tree, also called the Japanese Persimmon, seen here.

It is also the Japanese name for oyster, and the name of a city in Iran.

Even though I haven't 'played' with my imaginary friend Kaki in some decades I'm a little embarrassed to say I do occasionally still think of him and the adventures we went on, one of which was flying off on my bed to faraway lands AKA the film Bedknobs and Broomsticks, my bed actually had those Victorian knobs so you can imagine how shiny the became with all the turning of them we tried - well I tried, obviously Kaki didn't really as he was in my mind - or was he? He seemed pretty real to me at the time.

Did you have a Kaki or other imaginary friend when you were younger? I'd love to know.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

J is for Jay

I have struggled with the letter I for this A- Z Challenge so have decided to just add a few photos of the Jay bird.

A timid bird hiding in it's woodland habitat. Eater of acorns.

This one is a Eurasion Jay.

                               Here is a Green Jay
A Beautiful Jay (no, really, that's what it's called not just how lovely it is)
 Grey Jay (a rhyming Jay)

 Siberian Jay

A Mexican Jay which actually comes from Arizona                                          

A Pinyon Jay                              

A Curl Crested Jay

         Purplish backed Jay


So - I have filled your screens with J or Jay. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


For those who don't know what this is, it's travelling around Europe on a single train ticket. This year interailing is celebrating it's 40th year since starting in 1972. At that time it was to give under 21 year olds the chance to explore these countries, it moved up to 26 years old and is now available for anyone of adult age. If you can manage it I would recommend it as a great way to explore many European countries and have an almighty fine holiday while doing so.

I have done it twice, both many many years ago during the under 26 years age limit. The first time we went for 2 weeks, the second for 2 months, tickets are usually bought on a monthly basis. Both times I went with my best friend.

I remember the second time we went, we started in Brussels, Belgium and although it was June it was cold and pouring with rain, I have a hilarious pic of us sat with our raincoats done up, hoods up so all you could see of us were our eyes. We decided we wanted SUN. So we went straight back to the train station and went south ending up in Paris. We had a nice day wandering around the city but there wasn't enough of that sun so went back to the station that evening, wanting to go to the south of France. The next train south was next morning at 6am so we had a little sleep in a waiting room with several other interailers. The seats meant for one person each were far too uncomfortable so we all slept on the floor.

We went to Beziers, and stayed in a hostel for a day or two, sweet town, still not enough sun so went on to Spain. Madrid, in fact, where by now it was hot.Then to Seville, which I loved though there is a park there I would recommend young girls to stay out of if they don't like being followed by men doing unmentionables, this was not an isolated man but one of several there, perhaps it has a reputation. Aside from that park I did love Seville and It's ever since been on my list of towns to return to. Very very hot.

After a few days. we went down to Portugal, to Lisbon. One of the things about travelling when we did was that we saw places before catastrophes occurred. In this case before the last huge earthquake which devastated the Old Quarter, I would not want to return as it would be upsetting to see the difference though I believe much is still there.

We moved from town to town and country to country meeting so many wonderful people, mostly other interailers like ourselves. Tall blond Swedes showing off their strength by swinging one the luggage racks by their arms, jocular Aussies, Americans who often seemed awed by the 'cramped spaces' of European cities so different from their larger open spaces. We also met up with several Yugoslavians sharing a train compartment to sleep in one night. I often wonder if those young men are still alive or if anything happened to them after the war which happened after we interailed there. We went while it was still the one country, before the war and divide and dreadful killing.

One country we didn't visit was Turkey. We wanted to but were a bit wary. Every set of interailers we met who had been gave us a different story, one set would say, Yes go, it's safe the people are lovely, the next set would say don't go there, we had all our money and passports stolen. This went on and on as we got closer, one set saying go, the next with some horror story, so we thought in the end we'd not go and I've since always wanted to visit - maybe next year. My friend did and loved it there.

So many countries, so many stories, but this is meant to be a short blog and I've written too much already so will stop. But please do go if you can. Nowadays people use all their modern gadgetry to decide where to go and where to sleep. In my day (I sound so old, lol) everyone took their chances, turning up at the station and just taking the next train out to wherever it took us, sleeping on floors, ferries under the stars , beaches. It does sound a little sterile nowadays, but in reality I'm sure there's still lots of the magic in interailing.

Monday, 9 April 2012

H is for Hello

Hello! Hello to anyone reading this. I've been having a lot of fun popping around reading the blogs of other people doing this challenge and saying hello to them, it's been a very enjoyable way to meet people and see their blogs. Anyone else who pops by from other blogs also a very big Hello to you too, it's always nice to have people come by.

We must never be too shy to say hello, whether in the Blogesphere or in real life, too. Go to that party, or that work function, see someone whoo looks interesting but you feel too shy or intimidated to go up and speak? Chances are they've noticed you and feel the exact same way. Take the plunge and go for it, if no-one starts with that oh so simple yet sometimes so hard to say word then we'd never meet anyone.

I always felt a little shy to speak to Bloggers, (same as I feel in real life too, quite often, strangers I think I'll never see again I'm fine with, but at a party of mutual friends - no), and apart from one or two very lovely Bloggers it wasn't till this challenge that I felt I could talk to any more. I'm going to try to take the impetus and use it when I go about in real life situations, too.

So again, a very big Hello to you!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Gem Stones

These stones which often called crystals can, according to some, have healing properties. Strange to think a bit of stone can actually heal your body or even your mind. They come in different colours, textures and even weight. The colours themselves have their own healing properties.

No-one knows for sure why these stones can do these things, but many believe it is due to the vibrations they send out. If the entire Universe has a vibration, a kind of sound wave if you like, then apparently everything else does too, it's own specific frequency. It's thought that gemstones have particular frequencies which are in tune with ailments either in the body or mind and sometimes both. The 'ailments' are often just emotional blockages that occur and the stones can break the blockage, opening people up to feeling the correct way. What the stones ultimately do is balance people out. For instance if there is a kidney problem certain stones can redress this by balancing the body in other ways so correcting the kidney problem. This is seen as healing the ailment, though it is more of a correction in other areas of the body.

Stones which heal kidneys include Carnelian and Jade.

There is more to it than just the stones themselves, you need to know what to do with them. Sometimes just by holding them can help, or holding them and perhaps meditating with or on them. They can be placed near the problem area, or on the corresponding Chakra area of which  there seven, so the stone or crystal for a kidney problem would probably be placed on the nearest Chakra to where the kidney is located, perhaps the sacral Chakra.

Placing a certain stone near where you while you work can increase your alertness to help your productivity, or near your bed to help you sleep. Wearing them as a necklace or in another way can help. If you write and have writers block use a Citrine and hold it to your head or lie with it on your forehead for a while to open your mind to knew ideas.

I am no expert in this matter at all and haven't even had much experience in any way with the healing powers of stones but do find them utterly fascinating. There are many in my home and I buy them frequently. I think after this A Z Challenge I may do an occasional feature on a particular stone and talk more at length about that stone. I'm sure anyone more expert that I may find there are many inaccuracies with what I have written though I have tried to be as correct as possible and am learning all the time about them. I don't know if they really can do all these things or if it is all just a belief in them that makes it work, but there are many many people who claim these stones have helped or healed them in some way, so they are worth trying at least. And they are very pretty, too.