shadows
blogging

Friendly Friday Challenge – Shadows

Sandy’s prompt for Friendly Friday reminded me of a visit to the Skansen Museum in Stockholm,where I felt the presence of old world shadows.

In the midst of a Swedish winter, the shadowy silhouette of the bell tower in Stockholm’s Skansen Museum was an imposing and slightly daunting sight set against the crepuscular morning light.

Swedish farm houses were dark and the winters bitterly cold. Many families lived in the same house for generations and the darkest corners of the room echoed with imagined shadows of the past.

Skansen’s Farm labourers cottage

Taking refuge inside, farmers and their labourers would enjoy consuming a hearty meal, particularly at Christmas.

For those who have Swedish heritage, visiting Skansen is a way to bring history alive and feel more of a connection with the past.

Linking to Friendly Friday- Shadows

shadows

Sandy is hosting the blogging challenge which runs until Thursday, this week.

A new prompt will be released here at StPA, next Friday.

market
blogging

When Marketing Gets It Wrong

Do you read Product Reviews before buying a product?

The content of product reviews are increasingly influential for the public, when it comes to future purchasing choices. The opinion of the majority, or, the ‘herd,‘ also known as ‘Group think,’ is seen as paramount, as we discussed in a previous post .

Marketing techniques that target this type of thought and purchasing pattern, could be seen as lazy and fundamentally flawed.

Post-Purchase Screening of Customers

Consumers are more often than not, badgered by, not one, but several automated, emails asking them to give up their free time to:

“Tell us about your purchase,” and follow up if you do not reply to the email with a friendly:

“It’s not too late to tell us your thoughts.

Sometimes it is a text message asking,

How did we do?” in serving you and requesting your idea of a numeric rating.

All this in the name of improving customer service.

Do you like this level of attention after you have purchased a product?

Can you imagined if I badgered my readers like that?

Do you like my blog?

How often do you read the posts?

Do you want a daily update?

Are you sure?

It is not too late to subscribe!

Receiving a 5 star rating in a review might boost product sales more than any media advertisement and costs the company nothing. In short, shoppers are doing the marketing work for the company.

Canvassing Customers can be Risky Business

A product review can cut both ways. Badger a customer for a response and you might get a response, but not the the company likes.

A poor review might damage reputations, especially if it remains published. The veracity of the review itself is always at the mercy of customer competency and subjective biases.

Marketing Fail # 1

For example:

Recently I purchased a kitchen appliance for my new house that intermittently stopped working.

Frustrated, I wrote an online product review with a poor rating, whilst the ‘Moth’, (a.k.a. Man of the House), took it back to the store, asking for a replacement.

The product tested perfectly well in-store, but with an explanation that it was an intermittent fault, as we thought, the store replaced it without hassle.

Back home, the replacement product malfunctioned again!

So. Hmm.

Maybe, just maybe it wasn’t the product, after all, but a faulty power source? After all, ours was a new home, with newly installed power points.

To our horror, the appliance worked without fault in a different power point.

With a guilty feeling in our gut, we had to admit the appliance wasn’t faulty at all. Yet what damage had I done to that product’s reputation with my poor review, in the meantime?

Marketing /Product Review Fail # 2

I purchased a bra online through a popular department store and the automated email follow up I received after store pick up, is seen below.

I was asked to add photos, a video and location information!

In a young lady who purchased intimate apparel, this might be considered intrusive, but can you imagine photos, or video footage, of a 50 something lady, modelling a bra?

Probably not the content the store was after for their site. Aside from the fact they would surely filter out such content, it begs the question what else would, or could, they filter out?

As for the question of location – I can see the rationale to that question, but in the context of a bra purchase, it felt voyeuristic and slightly creepy.

Generic email and privacy filter arguments aside, this exemplifies how this style of marketing fails miserably and just serves to defeat its intended purpose!

Imagine if I had purchased underwear, or God forbid, a sex toy!

folk art eggs
blogging, Photography

Friendly Friday Challenge – Nostalgia

norway
A day in Norway

“Photographers are writers- Writers are photographers: we catch a glimpse of something beautiful – a flower, a glance, a window – and catch it into our camera or writing lens: add a bit of glimmer, a ghost of a shadow, allowing the background to sink into fuzziness while focusing on the sharp beauty; thus, we highlight the romance of life.”

Pamela Wight from https://roughwighting.net/

What beautiful words from Pam – inspirational words that inspire us to become better photographers, whether we are amateur or professional. We strive to become photographers that capture the emotion in a scene, or evoke a feeling from the viewer.

It is my photographs that tell me that four years ago I was leaving Poland on a flight to Denmark. I was overjoyed to be in Denmark, but so sad to leave Poland behind.

Five years ago, I took photos of our newest family member.

While six years ago, I was driving overland across the mountains and fjords of Norway.

Ten years ago, the following photo reminds me of the serenity I felt the day I was punting on the Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was just two weeks before the first of two devastating earthquakes to hit that city.

christchurch
The Avon River, Christchurch

More than 40 years ago, I was about to fall in love. Not with a boy, but with the snow. I was leaving for my first skiing holiday with friends.

Girl in coat and beret

Without photographs, these memories and feelings might be lost in the passage of time.

Memories are made of moments.

Life is a collection of such moments fused into an ever-changing continuum.

The transient nature of life’s experiences are one reason why we take photographs. Like time travelling, photographs are a way to give life to the past, so we can imagine again that moment in time, in all its visual richness.

Looking at photos might evoke a feeling of NOSTALGIA.

Feeling Nostalgic

Join the Weekly Friendly Friday Challenge Theme

To join in with this week’s challenge theme, simply create a post, including a pingback, using the theme Nostalgia, and tag it:

Friendly Friday – Nostalgia

Be sure to leave a comment below,as well as the pingback, so others can read your post.

Write a Little More for Friendly Friday

As this is the first Friendly Friday post for the month, we would love you to write a little bit more about your chosen photo/s. It’s far more interesting to hear the narrative in addition to the photos that you post. [This does not have to be a lengthy]. Here are some ideas if you are stuck on what to write:

  • What is its significance or history of the photo/s?
  • Where and when were they taken?
  • Why was it taken?
  • Post a recipe/ re-tell an old story that relates to the topic

Monthly Guest Blogger – A Mindful Traveller

Each month, Sandy and I publish a Friendly Friday post from a guest blogger. This month the wonderful Lorelle from Melbourne, Australia, who blogs at A Mindful Traveller will be our guest blogger and will take about an old family recipe that evokes Nostalgia for her. The post will be published here at StPA tomorrow.

If you are interested in submitting a guest post for Friendly Friday, please contact me or Sandy, via the Contact pages or our WordPress Profiles.

Weekly Photo Challenge Next Week

Next week, Sandy will have a new topic for Friendly Friday. Follow our blogs to receive new themes each week.

blogging

Gender Stereotyping and Child’s Play

Another blogger raised an interesting point about gender stereotyping, the availability of toys to young children and whether this influenced them in any way.

With my own children, dolls were never much on the agenda.

The boys thought they were uninteresting as they didn’t do anything – which I guess is not all that surprising. For a very short while, one son played with an vintage doll that I myself had as a child, but it did not sustain interest for him. He preferred clocks and mechanical toys that he could pull apart and see cause and effect. The other boy was similar but did enjoy pretend paly with stuffed animals, preferably knitted by his Grandmother, but never dolls.

One afternoon when the boys were 6 and 3 years old, a school friend came over to play. He brought his Barbie doll with him. He had two sisters and we thought nothing strange about his Barbie doll.

When his Mum came and they left to go home, my eldest son found the friend’s Barbie doll tucked under the covers of his bed, propped up on his pillow. He was completely perplexed about why his friend was interested in the doll and what to do about it.

We phoned the Mum and let her know the doll was still at our house and that we would return the doll at school, the following day. She mentioned that her husband was very worried about her son and his penchant for Barbie dolls. We could not really see too much of a problem if he liked them.

Princess

My daughter was more interested in Teddy bears than dolls. I didn’t direct or stereotype her play, merely let her preferences dictate play, in the exact same way I had done with my sons, but would introduce things to her and let her take it from there. They would pick out their toys at the shop or at home. She never chose or wanted a doll. Bears were much like dolls in terms of imaginative playthings, anyways.

One day I noticed something interesting.

It was my practice to make little cardboard car ramps with my sons so that they could roll their toy cars up and down in a safe corner of our large country kitchen, whilst I was preparing meals or working. They loved this and they made all sorts of twisting and turning ramps with sticky tape this way and that. They played for hours rolling down various toy cars and trucks and loved the activity.

When my daughter was around 18 months or 2 years old, I grabbed some cardboard and made a small car ramp for her amusement, as the boys were off playing older boy games in the backyard, by then. When I rolled a toy car down this makeshift ramp and made a whooping sound when it rolled off the end, my daughter cast it a cursory glance, grunted a little and swiftly turned away to play with something else. The cars and ramp game held absolutely no interest for her.

It was a Eureka moment for me. “You are not like your brothers,” I thought. And I didn’t think I had any influence on that. I hadn’t conditioned her to like cars or to dislike dolls. We still had had the vintage doll in the cupboard, but she never voluntarily touched it. The boys were more interested in video games by the time she was independently playing, so perhaps if they were still playing with toy cars, she might have wanted to join in. Still, it seemed she spent more time playing with the toy kitchen, dress-ups or pulling plastic containers out of my storage cupboards engaging in pretend play.

But there was the collection of bears.

child with teddy bear

Each one had a different name, which sometimes changed from day to day or minute to minute. She might dress them up, give them tea parties or set up a bear wedding ceremony. Again, this had come out of her own imagination.

For birthdays, kindly friends or relatives would give my daughter a Bratz doll as a gift – the ones with the big eyes and curvaceous figures. The only time my daughter would touch them would be to cut their hair off pretending to be a hairstylist, after which the Bratz dolls would be ditched in the dark recesses of the toy cupboard, never to be seen again. She found them, ‘a bit creepy,’ she explained years later.

So whilst many psychologists or academics propose that parents instil stereotypes in children by guiding their play or limiting their toys, I don’t think I entirely agree. I do believe they make up their own mind according to their own personality preferences.

Do you see evidence of children following gender stereotypes in their play?

Has this changed?

Do you think children’s interest are dictated by nature or nurture?

country building Australia
Australia, blogging

Children of Victorian England

In the 1800’s in Victorian England, scores of children under the age of 20, roamed the streets in a Dickensian world, eeking out an existence made famous in the 1968 movie, Oliver.

In the day, Britain feared a French revolution might erupt within the lower classes and so wished to contain this potential political menace by executing or shipping any trouble-makers off to North America, or Australia. In those times, to commit a crime of any sort was seen as a character flaw which could not be altered through rehabilitation.

Fagin was based on real life character called Ikey Solomon

Why did Victorian Children Live on the Streets

Street children were often the progeny of delinquent parents, or who had parents who’d abandoned them or were sitting in a Debtor’s prison. A child could take its chances living on the streets, working in a dangerous textile factory or remain in squalid conditions in a poorhouse, if they were lucky.

Child Workers and Conditions in Textile Factories

In 1851, more than 500,000 of Britain’s children sometimes as young as six, were working in the textile mills.

Being small, children were used to crawl inside textile machinery to clear blockages in the spinning frames. It was extremely dangerous and many were killed or injured, as the machinery was slow to stop if a worker got caught.

The machines were very loud and they thundered relentlessly all day long. Workers could be fined. beaten or sacked for falling behind. In cotton mills, dust from the yarn covered the workers and got in their throats. To make the cotton strong, factory owners kept their mills warm and damp. This meant that the workers suffered from lung and chest infections.

primaryfacts.com

With these options, it was no surprise that many children took their chances living on the streets.

Penalties for Child Criminals in England

In Victorian England, a child caught stealing would be sent to reform school or sentenced to hard labour. Once they had amassed a record of over 200 crimes, the child would hang from the gallows. If the magistrate was kind, a death sentence may be commuted from hanging to transportation, for life, to a convict colony, in Australia.

Sometimes, these children were the lucky ones, and other times, not.

Steve Harris’ book called,”The Lost Boys of Mr Dickens,” recounts the real-life story of two young boys, in the 19th century, sent by the British Government, as impoverished and unwanted juveniles to exile to Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania, in the world’s first prison built exclusively for children.

tasmania prison
The ruins of Port Arthur’s Prison in Tasmania

Prejudice, moral panic, harsh justice and expedience saw unwanted boys condemned to severe isolation, solitary confinement, hard labour in chains and thrashings in a juvenile version of notorious Port Arthur, a ground-breaking chapter in the history of juvenile crime and punishment. Some quietly endured in the hope of salvation through rudimentary trade and Biblical instruction, but others became relentlessly defiant and mutinous in a brotherhood of resistance and bullying, inexorably slipping from hope to hell.

Booktopia.com

A Convict in the Family

Paterson Museum

Ironically, having a convict ancestor in one’s family history is now seen as an asset to a Genealogist. Not only is there widespread documents and history related to convicts, but many times, there are details of their physical description and life story, sometimes even their words, letters or deeds they performed.

country building Australia
Paterson, Australia where my convict ancestor lived

John Martin, although not a child convict, was convicted of stealing a sheep’s carcass, at 24 years of age. His sentence of life imprisonment aboard the convict hulks moored in British harbours was commuted to transportation, for life, to Australia. Therein starts our Australian family adventure as John was my 3 x Great Grandfather.

John Thomas Martin was indeed one of the lucky ones to escape the gallows or a potential life in the textile factories. John went on to become a convict overseer, gain his ticket of leave and later marry into one of the first free settler families in Australia, having a large brood of 11 children, one of which was Eve Martin, his daughter, my 2nd Great Grandmother.

I wonder why Eve wore her heart brooch upside down?

Forestwood Cottage Martins Creek
Martin family cottage, ”Forest wood.“

Their farm near Paterson in country New South Wales was called ‘Forest Wood,” and the small town of Martin’s Creek now bears the family’s name. From the inscription his free settler wife, Jemima had inscribed into his tombstone, one might think she was determined that history would know of his true character, more than his criminal past.

John Martin’s Grave

“He was an affectionate husband and a kind father.”

Something to Ponder About

Trondheim
blogging, Mental Health, Philosophy

Kindness – An Antidote to Self Criticism

“The happiness of life is made up of the little charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment.”

~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In the wake of #Black Lives Matter, some folk appear inclined to believe that being strong is a way to win respect, when it is just a way to promulgate fear.

They may have mistakenly learnt that in being strong they achieve more, or receive more. Does being strong ever bring happiness and contentment?

The two just don’t seem to go hand in hand.

Does a staunch or rigid boss even win respect from his workers by being hard-core? Or they do live in fear of disappointing him? Does a hard-line leader win support through negativity or merely decrease morale?

If a boss shows too much kindness in the workplace, do they feel they are a push-over?

Kindness is not to be mistaken for weakness, nor forgiveness for acceptance. It’s about knowing resentment of any kind is not on the path to happiness.

Unknown

Weekly Proverb

Self – Criticism

We may be in the habit of berating or criticising ourselves for perceived shortcomings, constantly putting our own needs last, or inadvertantly disallowing ourselves the time, space and patience we deeply need to rest, heal and, ultimately to feel more content. In short, we are unwittingly being unkind to ourselves.

We may be our harshest critic; it may have become second nature to criticise ourselves and very challenging to praise and comfort ourselves or others.

But we cannot pour from an empty cup.

Kindness can fortify life, and seeing ourselves and others through a kinder lens can make a world of difference to all.

Regular practice of kind words and actions is infectious and it might just be the highest real success we achieve in this life. And it needn’t cost a thing.

Ultimately it is up to us as the sole creator of our thoughts.

Do you think you will appear weak if you show kindness to others?

Would it feel indulgent or selfish to show kindness to yourself?

Is there a time when you must display strength, without kindness, to survive?

Join the discussion by leaving a comment below.

ski area New Zealand
blogging, Travel

Risking Life and Limb to Ski in New Zealand

Queenstown

Lindis pass New Zealand
On the way to Cromwell…

To reach our destination in Queenstown, we’d had to firstly cross the Canterbury plains and central Otago – Mckenzie country, take lunch at stunning Mt Cook, had a tea break at Omarama and Cromwell before traversing the very scenic Lindis Pass, before finally reaching Queenstown.

Along the winding road into Queenstown, there’s a small hydro plant and narrow gorge where the famous Queenstown Jetboat scoots along, at ultra high speed for tourists. Just another one of New Zealand’s many thrill-seeking activities.

The Jet boat ride is not for me. I don’t relish paying money to be thrown around at a high speed whilst getting splashed with cold water for a half-hour. Little did I know, that our bus ride from Queenstown would make the JetBoat ride look like a casual walk in the park.

The lake in Queenstown New Zealand with snow capped mountains in the background
Lake in Queenstown

Ski Transfer to the Remarkables Ski Fields

As you cannot stay “on-snow,” in New Zealand, one must book a bus transfer to the ski fields, 8 kilometres away, which the travel agent had kindly pre-booked for me.

When the bus finally arrived at our hotel, I boarded it with a fair degree of trepidation. Picture an aging school bus dating from the 1950s, apparently called, ‘Old Bertie,’ with seats thinly padded with threadbare green vinyl. The rusty push slider windows with white metal casings gives you the impression of what this creaky old bus was like.

I mulled over whether I should be daunted that I was double the age of anyone else on board, including the driver, who introduced himself as Bevan. Bevan appeared so young he might still be ‘wet behind the ears,’ I thought.

Our pick up time was so early in the morning, we’d only grabbed a piece of toast from the extensive hotel buffet, which seemed criminal. Especially when we spent the better part of the following hour, picking up numerous beanie-clad snowboarders from the hostels around Queenstown, some of whom kept us waiting for quite some time. Bevan, our driver, had no qualms about reprimanding them for being late! Finally, though, we were on the way to the ski fields called The Remarkables: Eight kilometres away, so the road sign had said – in large print.

Snow capped peaks of the Remarkable mountains in New Zealand
The Remarkables

Early on the driver had problems with shifting the gears in Old Bertie the Bus, as we started up the mountain road towards the ski fields. My monkey mind worried he had not long had a license to drive this old jalopy.

“No snow on the road up to the Remarkables,” the two-way radio croaked out through a crackling speaker to the driver. Apparently, it was a ‘no-go,’ if there was snow on the road and our transfer would be cancelled. That would be a shame, I thought.

The reason for the two-way radio message was soon to become apparent as it wasn’t long before a distinctive burning smell and a handbrake in need of some tightening, confirmed my worst fears. The travel agent had booked us on a low-budget bus transfer, where passenger safety appeared to be a secondary concern. Eek!

Panaromic view over Queenstown
The road to and from the Remarkables, looking down towards Queenstown

We drove and we drove, on and on, as the old bus creaked and groaned and slipped and slid wildly back and forth across the wet and slushy roads. My young daughter, who was huddled beside me, tentatively asked, “Mum, what’s that burning smell? Is it the bus?”

So she was noticing it too.

Great!

Not!

The remaining passengers seem completely unaware of any impending engine issue or disaster. Most were sleeping or dozing in their seats, heads listing awkwardly to alternate sides in perfect time with the lurching of ‘Old Bertie,’ around the corners. If it wasn’t so worrisome, it might have been laughable.

Quickly hushing my daughter’s question with reassurances, I noted we had came dangerously close to slipping off the soft edges of the mountain road. The lack of guard rails meant that if the bus happened to slide, we would go over the side of the mountain into the valley below.

Heart stopping stuff.

I told myself and my daughter, that the company must drive up here every day in winter, so it must be safe enough. With my heart palpitating at a level way above normal, I wondered if my daughter could hear the tremble in my voice!

It felt like an absolute eternity of nail-biting terror as we rounded each corner, then another and another. We had been driving for around 30 minutes. It was slow progress. Surely, I thought, we must be almost there. The sign had said 8 km to the ski fields themselves, hadn’t it?

In the distance, I saw another large sign and craned my neck to read the words emblazoned therein, which declared:

“The Remarkables –

You are now half-way there!”

I felt ill.

There was probably another half-hour of this torture to endure! I gripped the seat even tighter as the bus continued to lurch from side to side, (shock absorbers or suspension was clearly unknown at the date of its manufacture).

Snow capped peaks of the Remarkable mountains in New Zealand
The mountain side with the Remarkables in the distance

Does anyone remember those days of driving without synchromesh in the low gears of a manual car? If you do, you might have become nostalgic about this bus which took me for a ride down memory lane, or rather, nightmare lane.

Along with no shock absorbers, the driver had to ram the gear shift down into first gear after having to stop the bus completely first, at which point the tyres would skid and slip underneath us, and the bus would slide backwards on the road, as Bevan desperately tried to get the tyres to grip the gravel mush.

What if there had been a little snow on the road? It didn’t bear thinking about.

I had to close my eyes. But finally we made it to the ski site, safe but not sound!

Can you see the winding road coming up the mountain?

Before we stepped hurriedly off the bus, our driver had a stern warning that we must return to the bus at 4pm, or else!

“You must tell us if you come down any other way,” he said, “otherwise we will send the ski patrol out looking for you, as we don’t leave anyone on the mountain.”

I had already decided to descend from the ski fields a completely different way, as we were on a time limit to reach our dinner destination at Queenstown’s Gondola restaurant, so the frightening bus trip merely cemented my plans in concrete. Looking out the window, I had spotted two new all-weather terrain shuttle vehicles advertising transfers back to Queenstown, for NZ$25 at the mountain Bus Stop.

So eager was I to report to Bevan the Bus driver-come-potential-troubled-youth, that I was going to use the alternative shuttle bus to return to town, I almost spat out the words to him. The bus trip up the mountain was harrowing enough, I can only imagine the absolute terror of sliding down those mountain roads in “Old Bertie,” and its questionable braking ability.

The return journey was spent in a dazzling new vehicle. Even though the vehicle came very close to the edge of the moutain road, I did not feel in any danger. No burning rubber smell, either.

I wonder how Bevan and Bertie got on?

Something to ponder about.

Friendly Friday
blogging, Photography

Friendly Friday Challenge – Unusual

Many years ago, whilst travelling through country Australia, I snapped a photo of a patch of forest in an old park, where we’d stopped to have lunch. This was the days when you had to drop off your camera film and wait for several days, for it to be developed.

Remember that?

Weeks later, a friend saw the photo in my album and insisted the photo depicted a fairy pointing her finger towards something in the bushes. It was a mystery and a tad spine-tingling to remember there was a plaque, on a monument in that same park where I’d taken the photo, which said, “ in memory of the first white child who died in the valley.”

Photographers often claim to have captured photos with unexplained objects in them. Some turn out to be a simple case of double exposure, minute dust particles or even reflections, called Orbs, whilst others cannot be fully explained at all.

Do you believe in UFO’s or the Unusual?

Source: i.guim.co.uk/img/media/

More recently, as you can see in the photo below, I was in the picturesque town of Sandane, in Norway. I’d arrived in the early afternoon and was snapping photos of the fjord. Actually, it is pretty difficult for me not to take photos when I am presented with such natural beauty.

sandane norway
Sandane, Norway

Walking further along the fjord, a shower of rain interrupted my progress, so I snapped a few photos and quickly turned back for the Gloppen hotel, where I was staying that night. Something strange appeared in the photos, that I noticed only when back in the hotel.

There was a pacman in the sky.

Or was it some kind of chopped Photo Orb?

What is an Orb?

Orbs are a somewhat new phenomenon that appeared at the dawn of the digital camera in the 1990s. At first, the camera manufacturers believed these orbs to be malfunctions of the camera, but to this day they claim that these balls of light are microscopic particles floating in the air. On the other hand, those in the paranormal community hold firm that these orbs are the presence of spirits.

https://www.artmartstl.com/ghostly-orbs-fact-or-fiction/
haunted house
A Haunted house in Iceland with Orbs

How to Tell if an Orb is Dust or Something Unusual

From the abovementioned website, here is some information:

  • *If the orb or orbs in the photo seem to be behind a person or thing, as if peeking out or passing by, it could be supernatural. That’s because reflections don’t fall behind an object or person in a photo.
  • *If the orb has more density in the photo, it might not be a natural particle like dust.
  • *On film, if the orb or orbs seem to have a light of their own and move independently of wind or motion, it could be a spiritual encounter.
strange photo orb
Presumably a dust particle?

There are ‘Unusual’ things all around us.

Have you ever seen anything unusual?

Take a Seat!

Weekly Friendly Friday Prompt

For this week’s Friendly Friday Challenge, show us something you have photographed that was –

Unusual

or create your own:

Source – Stock Photo

Instructions for Joining Friendly Friday

Sandy will post the next weekly prompt next Friday!

Do include a pingback and leave a comment so all readers can find your post! I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Australia, blogging, Mental Health, Motivational, Philosophy

Overcoming Adversity

I am a bit late with posting my Sunday Sayings quote as it is now Monday afternoon, in Australia. I don’t want writing a regular blog post to become a chore, for then I feel sure my writing would lose spontaneity and appeal, so if I can’t think of anything useful to write, I won’t post at all. Just so you know.

Today’s inspiration resulted after a long walk along the beach with a friend.

Sunrise

Being on the beach at sunrise is fantastic and I feel extremely fortunate to experience it. With little accompanying wind and a mild air temperature, (given it was a winter’s morning in a sub-tropical part of Australia), the sun bid good morning through the low level cloud, hugging the islands across the bay.

That fire breathing star of atoms we all depend on for life, shone over the lapping seawater like a spotlight on a runway carpet. A beam of golden light that stretched across the ocean from the horizon to the shore line like a path to eternity. Magical.

As we walked, my friend and I chatted about life’s dramas, past experiences and the week ahead. She told me about a gentlemen on a UK TV show, who faced enormous challenges in his daily life, and who had seemingly had more than his share of devastating family tragedies, with one cataclysmic life event following another.

In chatting about the TV show and these experiences, I remembered a quote I had read some time back.

Inspirational Quote

Life Challenges and Adversity

After our walk was done and I was at home sipping a cup of tea, I pondered some more about life and facing adversity.

We have all experienced some level of adversity in life.

Everyone has challenges, sooner or later. There wouldn’t be one person on the planet that hasn’t faced some kind of adversity.

Given that such challenges and adversity are omnipresent, or a natural part of life, aiming to live a life without them seems a tad unrealistic and even far-fetched.

Yet how often do we yearn, and sometimes expect, life to be challenge free: wishing for an easy life.

I guess it is in our nature to want life to be trouble free and have free time to pursue hobbies, sport or leisure pursuits. Devices, gadgets and the latest electronic inventions promises itself as a panacea to our time-poor existence.

So I ask:

Why are we looking to save so much time?

In doing so, are we living in the here and now, or looking forward to a mythical ‘down’ time, failing to notice our lives, passing by?

Why do we Want More Leisure Time Anyway?

  • To make life more meaningful
  • To experience more relaxation and peace
  • To conduct leisure pursuits
  • To stop working in a job that bring us joy

What is it that gives us a sense of satisfaction in life?

If the Covid pandemic has any lesson, it is that some folks become completely bored without work, with nothing constructive to do, and a few even create mischief for others.

Is it in the facing of challenges that we come alive?

In overcoming adversity and challenges, even if painful or sad, we can learn and grow. This, in turn, might lead to a greater sense of satisfaction and contentment. Right?

You tell me.

What is it that you are seeking in wanting more leisure time?

Would you prefer a life completely free from challenges?

Join the Discussion

Everyone is welcome to comment, well except for spammers, of course.

Schnauzer dog
blogging, craft

Making a Råtta Dog Toy

Some of you may know that we have a new puppy in our house and like all new puppies they are a bit of work, but bring lots of joy and happiness. And must be amused!

The new puppy is not directly mine, but my daughter’s. Due to the pandemic, we are frequently required to help out training, feeding and puppysitting. Which is no problem at all.

We all know puppies like to chew and this little puppy is highly animated, energetic and intelligent so she needs lots of stimulation.

Being a schnauzer, she likes the stuffed rat toys in IKEA’s range of toys.

Maybe it could be because that was their original purpose – i.e. as ratters on German farms. Whatever the reason, Schnauzers develop an affinity towards toy rats!

To this end we went to purchase an IKEA ‘Råtter,’ to keep the pup amused, but Ikea had no stock! The råtters are too popular!

No problem, I thought.

I can make something similar. Dogs aren’t too fussy about what kind, shape or colour their stuffed chew toys are? Surely?

My homemade solution included finding scrap fabric for the rat’s body,felt fro the dubious looking feet, wool for the eyes and whiskers, a string handle from a cardboard merchandise bag for a tail, (I think it came from Ella bache cosmetic purchase), and 5 to 10 minutes on the sewing machine.

It ain’t pretty but it is functional.

This is the result of the Råtta experiment:

Instead of being a furry rat, my home made version looks like a mutant platypus but what does it matter?

The puppy really likes it. Humans attach meaning to stuffed shapes, so as long as it keeps the pup away from chewing my socks, toes, shoes, furniture etc. Then all is good.

Butter would not melt in its mouth.

Merino Sheep, Mt Cook
blogging, Photography, Travel

Cromwell and The Lindis Pass

Lindiis pass
Iceland or New Zealand?

New Zealand has often been compared to Norway. In fact, on the way to Kastrup airport in Denmark, I saw one of those massive billboards, illuminated with a photograph of a snow-covered mountain.

The caption read,

“Norway?

No! New Zealand!”

Several years ago, I took a bus from Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand all the way to Queenstown, via Mt Cook. I am hoping that I will be able to do this trip again.

If you are tempted to travel this section of New Zealand, I recommend taking a power block, or back up batteries for your phone or camera, because, if you are anything like me, you will find many jaw-dropping photo opportunities, as you pass through the Southern Alps.

One of the sights we passed by, that got the attention of fellow bus passengers, was a location that was one the film sets of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Movie trilogy.

Cromwell.....the Lindis pass
The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was filmed in this location

Apparently, the local farmers were called in to provide extras for the Horse Stampede scene. This involved a large number of horsemen, a battle charge and horse stampede. The crews were set up and ready to film and had organized a large group of local farmers to be on standby as horsemen actors, but Peter Jackson felt that the weather and light was not optimal for filming so he cancelled the day.

This went on each day, for seven days. The farmers dutifully turned up each day, at the appointed time, ready for their big-screen break. After Peter Jackson cancelled filming again on the seventh consecutive day, the Farmers walked off the set.

They complained they couldn’t afford to be away from their farms, for so many days on end, twiddling their thumbs, so it was decided that their wives would step in and provide the horsemen extras for the stampede scene.

Next time you watch one of the movies and you think you are witnessing a cavalry charge of men, think again!!!

The Lindis Pass

The 60 kilometre stretch of road, known as the Lindis Pass, is considered by some to be the most beautiful passes in all of New Zealand. With the tussock grass covering all but the high snowy peaks, it is a great place to stop and view the majesty of the Southern Alps.

Be sure to check road conditions for the pass in the town of Omarama before you embark on this journey, as the pass crosses 971 metres above sea level, at its highest point. As such, its often closed due to bad weather conditions. It can even have black ice, making driving treacherous.

Approaching Lindis pass in our bus, I spotted a road farther up encircling the peak of the mountain; one that would give Norway’s “Trollstigen” a bit of competition.

On the way to Cromwell.....the Lindis pass

Traffic through the pass will often queue up when weather conditions force road closure for a few hours, or days. Oftentimes, travellers waiting along the road, will leave their cars and walk around collecting piles of rocks which they turn into cairns.

Norwegians would call these trolls.

Norge
Trolls at Trollstigen

Yet another parallel between New Zealand and Norway.

In many ways, travelling through this area I that if I squinted, I could easily fool myself that I was somewhere in Scandinavia or Iceland again.

Merino Sheep, Mt Cook

And that brings us to Lake Dunstan. It glorious aqua colour indicative of the glaciers that feed it.

Ski Fields and Lake Dunstan

Andrew our bus driver, explained how Lake Dunstan was created when a river was dammed, so the old township of Cromwell had to be relocated and the locals rehoused.

If you’re a ski bunny, the ski fields of Queenstown are a manageable driving distance away from this spot, (50 minutes to The Remarkables and 40 minutes to Wanaka). This is a great alternative to staying in Queenstown itself, which can be a tad more expensive.

Mt Cook

Activities in Otago and Queenstown

Besides Skiing, activities for individuals and groups who prefer to explore and experience places at their leisure, include:

  • Four-wheel driving the many hill tracks, or guided 4WD tours
  • Trekking and mountain biking
  • Visiting the Central Otago vineyards
  • Exploring the heritage stone buildings
  • Museum and Old Cromwell Town
  • Old mining landscapes
  • Guided fishing trips on Lake Dunstan
  • Golf
  • Snowmobiles (winter only)
  • Jet boating the Kawarau or Clutha Rivers

Continuing our bus journey meant only a short Tea stop at the roadside Fruit stall. I took the opportunity to purchase a couple of serves of breakfast fruit at farm gate prices.

do not touch

The stall also displayed some of the largest pine cones I have seen.

Ever the compliant tourist, I didn’t touch them.

blogging, History & Traditions, Photography

Friendly Friday: The Colour Pink – Guest Post

Vero writes:

When Amanda asked me to write a post with the prompt, “Pink,” my mind went in many directions first.

Then I paused: what’s really my relationship with this girly colour?

Let’s be honest, no matter how modern you are on the gender stereotyping theme, it will still take yonks before pink is something else than a female shade!

I grew up in the 70s, though, which was supposed to be a decade of change and evolution in the matter. But my mother was rather traditional. My bedroom had a pink wall paper – until very very late.

I wore pink dresses.

But looking at this other photo from my dance class, (ironically, it’s black and white!!); it seems I was suddenly totally opposed to pink and decided to make it very clear!

Being a teenager is very tricky, isn’t it.

You want to fit in but also you want to show the world how different you are from the crowd!

That’s when I started wearing very different items of clothing.

I particularly loved a velvet jacket and suede tie which belonged to my grandfather – 4 sizes too big for me. The results of my combo choices were often extremely peculiar but I guess that’s how I decided to be creative at that time.

And took ballet classes wearing pale pink leotards and tights. In a way, pink was the colour of my childhood.Then the teenage years followed. And they were black. Didn’t we all wear black then? It was the way to merge.


Pink never really came back in my wardrobe in my adult years. Except for fuchsia. Vibrant colours are what define me now. In French, we have a way to qualify vivid shades: we call them “shouting” or “yelling tints.”

As if it was so bright, it could actually make an unpleasant sound.

In my never-ending craving for strong saturation, I even painted my house’s front wall, one Saturday afternoon, in bright pink. My courtyard had already been indoctrinated with a mixture of bleu majorelle (link to jardinmajorelle.com/ang/ ) and anis green !


Click on over to Vero’s blog to read the second instalment of this post.

About the Guest Blogger

Vero was born in a green and quiet Parisian suburb. She left this idyllic scenery in her early twenties to live in England, later settling in the South of France and started a family of three (+dogs!). Now in her forties, she lives in a rural coastal village in Brittany.

Thanks to Vero for this interesting glimpse into her relationship with the colour pink prepared for this week’s Friendly Friday theme.

If you would like to be featured as a guest blogger for a Friendly Friday Challenge post, please contact Amanda or Sandy – hosts of Friendly Friday, via our contact pages.

Friendly Friday
Australia, blogging, Food, Mental Health, Philosophy

Hollow Online Experiences

When the internet came along, it was suggested that everything would be done online, from shopping to employment and communications. Individuals would not need to leave home to live their consumer lives.

The public however, has shown that we are primarily social creatures and are reluctant to embrace a completely virtual lifestyle. Whilst online shopping has undoubtedly increased, it wasn’t the tidal wave envisaged by the tech industry, until Covid 19 came along.

Our lives have become more virtual, whether we liked it, or not.

Getting takeout or takeaway doesn’t seem to give us the same experience as dining in at a restaurant or cafe. Neither does the online shopping experience feel quite as satisfying as the benefits of browsing in person at a store, feeling the fabric in a garment, physically trying on clothing, or chatting to another shopper, seeing what is around.

Because it is not just the objective alone, that is important.

It’s the whole consumer experience.

The atmosphere at the cafes and shops is attractive to us through our senses: the watching of people; the smells, sights and sounds; (overwhelming for some), or the conversation with friends you meet whilst shopping; the interaction with Cafe staff and fellow diners; the inspirational decor on the walls, or from the books on the shelves in a bookstore; even the art on the walls.

All of this, together, gives us a pleasurable sensory experience that is clearly important to us, as a comment on my second blog alluded.

“We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”

Dalai Lama

Benefits of Covid and Virtual Lifestyle

During the Covid lockdown, skies, streets and air appears cleaner and we have more time on our hands. None of that horrid sitting stuck in traffic on the way home from work, or rushing to catch a crowded train with a million other commuters at 5pm.

Other people discover there is time to get to know their kids, becoming involved, by choice or necessity, in their education, or generally engaging with them more because there is little ecternal events to absorb their time. (Albeit for some, this could be far more stressful and family life might suffer from a lack of outside exposure, stimulation or influence).

All wonderful benefits of an enforced, semi-virtual life.

scenic cafe window- pensive

Yet, it seems even introverts or socially phobic individuals have struggled with being cooped up during the Covid pandemic.

We, as humans, seem to value social interaction above any virtual experience.

Cafe Society Lifestyle

Prior to the appearance of Covid, the Cafe society was a popular lifestyle choice in Australia. When cafes closed down in lock-down, no one knew what would happen. Aussie Cafes/Diners and Restaurants were legally allowed to operate only on a takeaway, (takeout), basis.

Many chose to close, temporarily, or permanently and the alfresco cafe dining experience came to an abrupt end.

al fresco dining restaurant

The Beach Esplanade, near my home, is lined with popular cafes and restaurants of all persuasions and cuisines. Being smaller businesses, most have closed completely, but some remain open. Last night, I placed a phone order for a ‘Quarantine Pack’, at one of the restaurants. Being a Friday night, I wondered what I’d find when I arrived for the meal.

At the Italian restaurant itself, a makeshift pick-up counter was laid out with social distancing markers in the formerly packed out al fresco dining area. Customers awaited their order in silence, or hushed in conversations with their partner, spaced well apart from each other. This was a very different picture to the regular Friday night.

On the opposite side of the road, overlooking the sea, couples and small family groups sat on benches or rugs, at the required social distance, eating their takeaway meals and watching the moonlight filtering over the waves, lapping the shore.

It was another life, but it was okay. Not ideal, but it had a beauty all of its own, even a little nostalgic or romantic perhaps.

It begs the question as to how much of a virtual lifestyle we can lead?

Is it possible for human beings to live like this, at all?

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