blogging, Travel

Friendly Friday – Meet Olav in Norway

Back in 2004, I jumped on a subway train in Norway. It was my first time visiting the country that was to steal my heart. I had little knowledge of where I was going that day, or what would happen, other than I was headed for a ski jump outside of Oslo, which had panoramic views and a ski museum.

oslo
Oslo, Norway

Meeting Norwegians

You know that feeling of confusion you have when orientating yourself on a public transport network, in a new city. I felt like that. With the aid of some young Norwegians, my young son and I found the platform and the unmanned train – a curiosity for us, as there are no metros in Australia.

Without station reminders or announcements, we sized up the young passenger sitting opposite for advice on when to depart the train, in order to go to Holmenkollen station and ski jump. The passenger was not only keen to help out with the required information, but offered to take us home for dinner and to meet his family! I politely declined the invitation, but thought how open and kind Norwegians were. Albeit a little too friendly towards strangers.

Believe it or not, that summer in Oslo was hot, especially after walking for several kilometres up Norwegian roads with a laden backpack from Holmenkollen station. It may have been a bit of jet lag, but I was tired.

Walking to Holmenkollen Ski Jump

After walking those few kilometres, or so it seemed, I spotted the ski jump ahead, and also the road to it winding round and round the mountain for another kilometre or so. If you have traveled with kids, you’ll relate to questions like: – Are we there yet? How much further etc. etc. My son was a stoic, but I feel sure he was making plenty of facial grimaces behind my back.

It was with that thought in mind that I spotted a narrow walking track up a grassy slope on the side of the road, that appeared to lead directly to the ski jump, I thought a short cut would save us time and energy.

With only a slight hesitation, my 11 year old and I took the track up the grassy slope.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

A little over halfway up the hill, with images of mountain goats flitting through my mind, I pondered what I, as a 41 year old Aussie Mum, was doing. I wasn’t young and fit anymore. No sooner had I thought that, than I had to reach my hands forward to the ground, as I climbed, just to maintain balance.

Oh uh, Mum. It is getting steep, really steep.” I heard from my son.

Don’t stop now, we’re so close to the top; just keep going,” I urged him, not wanting to lose any of my forward momentum, lest the slope become too much, for me.

At that moment, ‘Olav,’ who had, in all possibility, been trained during the Nazi occupation of Norway, appeared at the crest of the hill, standing feet astride, hands on hips, in an authoritative stance.

He boomed out at me, in English, “You can’t come up here. Go back!”

Oh, wait – Why not? I said as I scrambled the last few steps of the slope. “I mean, I’ve paid already. I have an Oslo Card,” fumbling in my pocket for the 48 hour tourist card that allows a visit, to any tourist attraction in Oslo, for one pre-paid charge.

Olav, his name emblazoned boldly on his badge, in ‘Arial black font’, glared at me.

I prattled on, stupidly thinking he had misunderstood. “Oh – you Norwegians. I thought you were all so nice and welcoming….” I stopped mid-sentence thinking how silly that sounded.

To which Olav repeated his intimidating mantra a little louder this time,

“GO BACK. YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE COME THIS WAY.”

A sickening feeling of guilt crept into my throat as I realized that the short cut path we had taken, that would save us some time and energy, had NOT led us to the entrance of the ski jump, but had in fact, led us inside the museum itself. Olav thought we were trying to gatecrash, without paying.

A quiet Aussie accent reached my ear. “Let’s just go back, Mum.”

I turned to my son, “Yeah okay, I made a mistake; we’ll just go down again and walk the long way around.

I took a few steps off the edge of the slope and was shocked to see just how precipitous a slope, we had scrambled up. I nearly lost my balance, just looking down.

It dawned on me that going down was not even going to be difficult, it was going to be downright dangerous, especially carrying a heavy backpack. I could see that one of us would surely slip and potentially break a leg or something. Any alternative was better than that.

Gathering courage I didn’t know I had, I turned back again towards Olav, his implacable face and overly muscular body still blocking my way into the ski jump museum.

“Look – I’m really, really sorry, I just can’t go down that way. I’m more than happy to pay a second entrance fee, if you want. I never intended to avoid payment or do anything wrong. I am from Australia, I didn’t know.” I was blabbering quickly now, like a child caught with his hand in the candy jar.

“I am more than happy to buy another ticket. I do have an Oslo card, so it’s all paid for, already.”

I hadn’t explained myself well, as Olav remained unconvinced.

“Then why did you come up this way?” he spat.

Because, I thought this path was a short cut.

He looked bemused. I started to consider whether the phrase, “short cut,” might be lost in translation. So I continued:

It is so very hot today and I thought it would save us walking in the heat.” Olav’s face showed no indication of relenting.

Mum, c’mon let’s just go.” My son started walking down the precipitous slope again. I wavered.

What should I do? It was clear that Olav was not ‘feeling the love,’ the other Norwegians had shown us, so I made a bold decision. Fight or flight must have taken over.

After muttering under my breath to give myself courage, I said:

Look, I’m not going to potentially break my leg going down there, when I have already paid to go into the museum,” I said with as little nervous emotion as I could muster, at that moment.

So, I’m just going to run over there to the ticket office and thrust my Oslo card at the attendant, cos I can’t, I just can’t go back down that slope.

Why not?” – Olav again.

I’m terrified I will fall.”

Okay, then,” was his final response. To my complete surprise, he turned his back and walked away.

I literally ran over to the ticket office, to show them my Oslo card, my heart beating wildly for the next ten minutes, or so.

There was an awkward moment when we spotted Olav again, in another part of the exhibit, but he remained silent, a serious nod to us the only acknowledgement of our previous terse interaction.

Travel Note: The Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum has been renovated and is in a slightly different location than 2004.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Meet One Person

This is not my typical travel story, but as this is Sarah’s first week hosting the Friendly Friendly Blog Challenge, I wanted to post an interesting story of someone I had met in my travels.

Have you met someone interesting on your travels and wish to share a story or photograph about it? Someone who might be a little friendlier than Olav?

In her post, Sarah writes about her guide in Senegal, called Cheikh.

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge

Sandy and I would love your support in welcoming Sarah, the new co-host of Friendly Fridays.

I will be back hosting the challenge again on Friday 13th August.

flowers
blogging, Philosophy

Are You Ready Yet? How We Shop

Are you ready yet?”

My other half, aka the ‘Moth,’ called out – anxious to leave for another shopping expedition. Meanwhile, I tapped away on the keyboard writing yet another blog post.

I won’t be long,” I distractedly shouted back down the hall.

But time then slowed for me; I was engrossed in getting my thoughts down from the jumble of words that regularly spin about in my head.

I dislike shopping for food or groceries as it is such a mind-numbingly, repetitive, ‘rinse-repeat-rinse,’ kind of task that my other half likes to do, almost weekly. For him, it’s like a contemporary equivalent of an old religious ritual. And each time we do it, I have to grit my teeth.

Before the move to the Home by the Sea, the prelude to a shopping trip would be a visit to a delightful Italian cafe or Pasticceria and, in this way, I’d come to believe shopping could be enjoyable especially when it comes with a cup of hot chocolate as well!

The Pasticceria Cafe was run by an Italian man from Venice, with a rich and deep baritone voice, named Aladdino, who made the very best Italian hot chocolate! If you imagine a cup of blancmange-like, soupy thick, steaming dark chocolate milk, that you almost have to spoon into your mouth, you’d have the general idea.

Aladdino could often be quite intimidating, or so I found one day when I reminded him I liked the hot chocolate made really thick and soupy.

“You Australians,he bellowed at me in a tone that would impress Pavarotti. “It’s not a pudding, you know!

“It is a pudding for me,” I quip back. And my bribery comfort food, I think to myself; as it is some consolation for the ‘battle’ ahead.

Grocery shopping can be a suburban battlefield.

The stainless steel shopping trolleys are our ‘cavalry steeds’ and the supermarket aisles, a place where a cavalry-style charge might occur, if only during a red light special!

Not me, or the MotH! But a photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Each week, I notice the faces of shoppers at the supermarket. Stereotypes are always well represented.

There’s the elderly gentleman trying in vain to find Bi-Carb Soda, the fatigued mothers with crying babies insitu or children wanting popcorn, the bogan with a shirt-busting beer gut in a rush to get to the pub, the well-heeled Hampton fan searching for gourmet cheese and others who try to emulate TV reality show Chefs in an effort to tantalize their family’s tastebuds, while still balancing the budget.

The battlefield is exhausting!

shopping centre with consumers

The Rise of Generic and Convenience Food

Food prices continue to spiral upwards, coercing us to buy more of the less expensive generically branded items. Many seem to be quality degraded items from dubious overseas manufacturers, where one imagines working conditions to be almost medieval. I am lucky enough to pass them by if I can. The appearance of more and more convenience/ready-made meals is also worrisome.

Convenience food options seem to multiply each week taking up more and more shelf space.

I nearly lost the plot and caused a public scene last month, when I found they were selling shredded iceberg lettuce and grated carrot, in a bag!

So, now the working family has no time at all to grate a carrot, or perhaps the problem is they don’t own a grater? Will children grow up not knowing how to grate a carrot for a humble salad sandwich?

This leads my runaway mind to think of a future where only the elderly remember what a virgin vegetable actually looks like prior to peeling, slicing, dicing and wrapped in plastic bags lined with preservatives!

But we all have to eat, or face a riot on the home front, particularly if there are any remaining adolescent children lurking in the bedrooms!

How much longer are you going to be?

The disembodied voice filters down the hallway suddenly dragging me back to reality. It has happened again:  I have become engrossed in another blog post.

female writing

Has your supermarket changed?

Do you enjoy convenience food options?

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Australia, Environment, History & Traditions

April Fool Ghost

“So I woke up and my beautiful Schnauzer pup is laying on the back patio covered in dirt with a rabbit in his mouth. The rabbit’s not bloody, just dirty. My neighbor’s kids raise blue ribbon rabbits. I instantly knew it was one of theirs. 😢

I took the rabbit away from my dog, rushed inside, and brushed all the dirt off it before my neighbors could come home. It was stiff but I heard some animals play dead when they are afraid, but I couldn’t remember which ones.

I quickly took it and placed it back in one of the cages in their back yard then I ZOOMED back home. (Don’t judge me 😒)

Not 30 minutes later, I heard my neighbour screaming like she’s seen a ghost, so I go out and innocently ask them what’s wrong?

They tell me their rabbit died three days ago and they buried it, but now it’s back in the cage.” 😳

April Fools!

Found on social media, this was not my story. It just might be a work of fiction, or an old joke, but I wouldn’t put it past a Schnauzer to go after a rabbit!

Apparently this very thing DID happen with another Schnauzer, their owner and a guinea pig. I am giving this author, (Kathy W.), the benefit of the doubt, but it is April Fools Day, isn’t it?

Not many folks have pet rabbits in Australia. Keeping them is illegal and there are fines unless you have a special permit. Without a natural predator to control numbers, introduced Rabbits decimated Australia’s bush in the early 20th century reaching plague proportions and thus were banned.

It is legal to keep the following variety, and give them to your Schnauzer!

home made fabric easter bunny
Australia

Australian Slang – Lost in Translation, Mate

Sometimes, Australian Slang causes problems. Every Aussie uses it. When you’re born here, the meaning of those strange, shortened words are absorbed by osmosis. We are hardly even cognizant we’re saying them. We assume everyone understands what we mean.

australia meme
Photo Credit: Facebook

However, being so different to standard English words, the Australian Vernacular makes it difficult for non-native English speakers to understand, especially for those whose exposure to English has only been within the classroom, or via TV sit-coms. The full meaning of slang is often lost.

Mail Order Brides in Australia

Before the days of Tinder and dating agencies becoming mainstream, older single or widowed Aussie men might meet a prospective wife via a newspaper ad and through letters from The Philippines. Mail Order Brides wasn’t a nice social practice, but this story is not so much about that issue, as it is about the language barrier where slang is concerned.

The Moth’s (Man of the House), elderly Aunt had been divorced from her husband, Bob for some time, even though he still attended family gatherings. As Bob aged, he longed for company, so no one was particularly surprised when a delightful older lady, named Mary, accepted his offer to leave the Philippines, marry him and live in Australia.

country farm australia

Australia Day Family Barbeque

One Australia Day, Mary and Bob attended a family barbeque not far from their new home. Most of the farmers in the area were also extended family members, so Bob introduced his new wife to the family and also to country hospitality: ie barbeque food: meat, sausages, pavlova and loads of Beer. Very traditional, if you are Australian.

A few hours later, it was clear to all that Mary’s new husband had consumed far too many beers to drive either of them home.

Lost in Translation

As Mary was impatient to leave, she started walking home along the long, dusty road, herself. As she went to leave, an approaching car pulled over. Leaning out the car window, a neighbouring farmer shouted:

“Where ya headed, luv?”

“I go home,” Mary answered, eyes a little downcast. Guessing she was the newcomer who lived at least a half hour’s walk away, the old farmer flashed a big grin and said:

“Come with me, luv. I’ll run you over.”

Terrified, with eyes as big as saucers, Mary turned around and dashed back to her husband’s side, crying,

“I not want to die. He kill me.”

Aghast and confused, Bob stuttered, “Steady on, luvie ….Whad, whadya mean?

Pointing to the farmer’s car, Mary said:

“I not want to die. He said, He’d run me over!”

That’s ‘Straya,’ mate!

schnauzer dog in pupsnaps bed
blogging

Has the World Gone Entirely Crazy?

As if Covid isn’t enough to contend with, have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to go as it should? Where it seems the forces of the Universe are set against anything going smoothly? Yes, it was one of those.

Things happened.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Chaos Rules or Life by Crisis Management

  • A friend I haven’t spoken to for over a year sends a message, out of the blue, with only the words, “How are you?” There was no other context to her message and yes it was her – I did check. A little odd or, perhaps, spontaneous. She was just wondering how I was, she said. After a year without communication!
  • My daughter rings to make an appointment at a medical specialist doctor and the Receptionist asks her to supply a full length photo for a the appointment. Weird. Full length?
  • Three out of three kids then had mini breakdowns of sorts on the same night, unrelated to each other, sending us scampering from one to the next in succession. It was a busy night.
  • That same night the neighbour sent me a message at 7pm that he wants to come sit on my garden bench for a while. Did he have a fight with his partner, I wonder? This is out of character. I only saw the message at 9pm whilst scampering to and fro, said kids.
Schnauzer dog

Finally late on the same day as ALL of the above:

We discovered the new pup had eaten the TV remote control, yes, the plastic controller part. The Moth’s favourite activity is to watch television and you can imagine what the Moth said when it became apparent he could not change the channels or adjust the volume. Not to mention the possible harm to the puppy, which resulted in my daughter having to check the poo for remnants of plastic when she walked the dog around our estate, for the next few days.

Not so strange, I suppose, but given that we live in an area where there are lots of tradie workmen building new homes, you have to imagine the strident scene of strange stares and comments when they see a pretty young teen, now adult, picking up dog poo on the footpath, then examining it closely, feeling it and squishing it around in her hands, (inside the doggy poo bag of course)!

It seems the little pup has a penchant for chewing anything. Here’s more evidence of her dental disasters.

And the final piece of news – we have “worms.”

Not in our bodies thank goodness; we’ve merely purchased a batch of garden-variety, soil-improving worms and installed them in their new home at the Home by the Sea.

At least the worms aren’t having a personal crisis or feeling chocked up with plastic remote controls.

“There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”

– Richard Bach
#WQWWC
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dog drinking juice
blogging

Slanging a Schnauzer

To my mind, they are irresistible bundles of fur, fun and friendship. Who wouldn’t love a Schnauzer? As hard as it is to believe, it seems there are a few folk about.

Well behaved Schnauzer Dogs

A week or so ago, we were hanging out at our favourite Dog-friendly Cafe. I have to say, Dog Friendly because unlike Europe, most cafes and establishments in Australia are not Dog Friendly, at all.

Certain cafes are open to having dogs visit their premises in dedicated zones and that’s so welcome when you have well-behaved dogs that like to be around their owners. My dogs are part of my family, you see.

My doted dogs are clean and house trained, bark only a little, if you darken our doorstep, in short: they love everyone. One of our dogs is still a puppy, who wants to meet and greet everyone, if we let her. We don’t.

Most people enjoy saying hello to a puppy, or even want to give them a quick pat on the head. One Cafe’s owner even likes to give our dogs a small piece of Brioche bun, when they come to visit.

But it was one comment from a customer, at the Dog-friendly cafe, that had me transfixed to the spot. I was so dumbstruck by this woman’s comment on seeing my puppy, that it took a few minutes, of rooting around in my brain, for a possible explanation. I wondered what she could possibly mean?

Why would she say such a thing? Did I hear her right?

First, let me introduce you to Athena, appropriately named by my daughter, or so I thought. Pretty cute, right?

schnauzer dog in pupsnaps bed

This customer, who sported a black bouffant hairdo, apparently thought otherwise, as she spied Athena settling down under the table across from her.

“What IS that?” the ‘black bouffant spat so loudly that all the patrons at the cafe could hear. “Oh, it looks like something you’d see on the bottom of a shoe!”

The bottom of a shoe? I thought.

Really? Who even says such a thing?

Sadly, it doesn’t end there with negative commentary about cute puppies.

The Schnauzer breeder, with which we are acquainted, received the following report from a puppy purchaser.

“My new “la de da” neighbour who swans around in her ‘Camilla kaftan,’ sucking on pink champagne from an equally “la de da” champagne flute just asked me if, [my Pedigree Schnauzer puppy], was a “bitzer.”

I then replied, “No she’s a purebred mini schnauzer,” as I drank my Coles mineral water from a Hungry Jacks yellow-striped glass. (Okay, to be fair I added Bickfords Lime juice). Anyway she then replies, “Oh that sounds German or something. I’m actually German with some Hungarian and Italian mixed in there.”

My sarcasm escaped and I replied, ” Oh, so you’re a bitzer then”? With that she wafted off yelling “Yann darlink, I need a refill.”

Okay, I’d had a long day and wasn’t in the mood for “Zsa Zsa Gabor,” stuff.

Credit : C.Lindenberg

Clearly, like the black bouffant, this neighbour of said puppy purchaser must be a cat person or the following pictograph is seemingly how she views a canine friend.

What do you think?

Can you see any resemblance to a stiletto or the sole of a sandal?

Blog logo on transparent background
Girls happy dancing friends on traffic light control
Australia, blogging

Ending a Friendship

Recently at the Home by the Sea, I met a new friend. So that he can remain anonymous, I’ll call him, ‘Old Mate,’ (as we sometimes do in Australia).

Most people who met Old Mate, thought him brash and cocky, but I was utterly charmed by his youthful exuberance. He’d entered my world uninvited and I’d welcomed and even encouraged him to visit me whenever he liked. “My door is always open. Come over anytime,” I told him nonchalantly.

Perhaps that was my mistake? I can be naive about such things.

Being a good neighbour, or so I thought, I’d offered him food and refreshments whenever he rocked up. He really did like that. So much so, that he brought his partner over to meet us. We were chuffed.

Both Old Mate and his partner were talented singers and would regularly entertain us when they popped in. It was obvious they were planning to settle nearby and start a family. I was looking forward to sharing their world and continuing our wonderful friendship.

I had no inkling that Old Mate would take liberties with our friendship in a way no one else has done before.

It came to a head this week.

Jumping around on my Dining table was, to say the least, extremely unsettling, so I was forced to do something I’ve never done before: I told Old Mate he had to leave – ordering him out of my house.

He didn’t take my announcement well: becoming angry and flustered, making excuses to check out several rooms in the house, before finally agreeing to leave.

That was the final straw. I abruptly terminated our friendship.

I feel bad. I miss him, but it has to be this way.

My door is now closed.

blogging, Community, Motivational

Blog Conversations

Are all Bloggers would-be storywriters, in disguise?

Disguise

I had to think a little more about why bloggers are attracted to write in the first place?

Is it because we have a desire to express ourselves and communicate to others, using the written word?

Blogging is like a Facebook post on caffeine!

Writing Your Own Story

I believe the stories we, as bloggers, write are to entertain or inform. Whether that is a work of non-fiction or a completely fictitious story, it can be entertaining for the reader.

Mostly, for the reason that people ARE interested in the details of other peoples’ lives and happenings. If you are in doubt, just look at how many Reality TV shows are on TV.

It can be a levelling experience for us to be watching or engaging with others. In doing so, we also learn about ourselves, as well as the journey through life.

Attracting More Blog Followers

Sandy and I have been discussing the art of blogging and the purpose of maintaining a blog after WordPress kindly reminded me I had begun this gig, ten years ago! This revelation was, for me, a little embarrassing when I looked at some bloggers who had acquired massive followings, in that same period of time. [And I say this trying hard to not focus on that number that pops up in my sidebar or notification lists.]

I do not blog to gain more followers, but I have to be honest: I do look at that number for feedback. I question myself: Am I writing something of interest to another person? Was my post boring? Is anyone listening to what I am saying? Did I communicate that well?

Blogging Feedback

In our Conversation, Sandy mentioned:

I worried too that my blog wasn’t focused enough, that I hadn’t found my niche. The thing is, I don’t know my niche.

Sandy from Thesandychronicles.blog

From the comments on these posts, it seems many of us, including me, might have this niggling doubt that our blogs. We worry our writing is not focused enough to gain interest, that is, unless we are a committed food/photographic or travel blogger, who posts solely on the one chosen topic.

Then I thought about the fact that we DO have people visiting and taking the time to post a comment, so that seems to prove otherwise. Thus, I’d like to challenge this almost subliminal notion many of us have, that our blog should be more defined.

Does it really matter if our blog is diversified in its topics?

I have some followers that enjoy my Sunday quotes, others who only like and comment on the photographic challenges and still others who will presumably only read the art, or lifestyle, posts.

With just a single focus for blogging, I would miss out on, “chatting” to this wide spectrum of readers via their own blogs and the comments they make.

Each and every one of my readers bring, with them, their own individual opinions and thoughts, which results in a wonderfully rich tapestry of backgrounds and perspectives that can only be beneficial for me, as a writer.

The number and content of comments on our posts, are perhaps the real litmus test for any Blogger. Growing a dedicated Blogger community will never happen overnight. In the meantime, we can continue to hone our craft and have a lot of fun in the process.

What is it that attracts you to a certain blog?

Join the Conversation with Sandy and Amanda

This post is a part of a new series of CONVERSATIONS between Sandy and myself. Over the next little while, we’ll talk about a topic, compare notes, share Q&A and invite you to join in.

Do you have any topics to suggest for our Blogging Conversations?

Pingback to join in and write a conversation post.

Still in disguise
Skiing Bitihorn Beitostolen Norway
Travel

Skiing in New Zealand

Several years ago, we endured a heart-stopping trip to The Remarkables Ski Fields in the South Island of New Zealand. Australians flock to the NZ ski fields, every year, as it is more cost effective for them, than skiing in the limited fields in Australia.

Finally, we arrived!

After the 8 Kilometre, nail-biting transfer to the Remarkables Ski Field, in a very old bus, we checked “in,” to receive our NZ Ski My Pass Card, microchipped to follow our progress around the ski fields and were measured for clothing, boots, and skis.

Hiring Skis and Clothing on the Ski Fields

The Ski Centre, (at 1610 m a.s.l.), was awash with bodies of all sizes in snowsuits, teeny tiny kids sliding about on snowboards and loads of skis resting in the snow.

Travel tip: Visitors can hire ski gear for their skiing adventure, (pants, jackets, and boots etc) but they do have to bring some items of their own, as I was to soon discover.

No, you can’t hire gloves, Ma’am, for hygiene reasons” – the attendant in the Ski shop told me sternly, upon enquiring. What was I thinking? (Even in this pre-Covid vacation). Ski gloves would be a personal item you couldn’t and wouldn’t want to hire!

I regretted not thinking through the Travel agent’s vague advice: “Travel light, you can hire everything over there.” I cursed leaving my own super-thick Norwegian gloves at home and regretted passing up the opportunity to buy a pair at our local supermarket, (which had so many on sale, as ski gloves aren’t usually a popular commodity in Australia). Thus, having a captive market, I succumbed and purchased a pair for $50.00 at the small mountain Ski shop. It would be impossible to ski/toboggan without gloves.

Storage Lockers for Hire at The Remarkables

I also regret not hiring a storage locker at the ski centre; however, the locks appeared dubious and I preferred to have my passport, drink bottles and asthma medication with me so chose to carry it around on my back, whilst skiing, not realizing how destabilizing this would be on my balance.

Update: The Ski centre now offers secure day storage with automated pay lockers and if skiing the next day you can store your used gear overnight in the Rental Department. This is available downstairs in the base building and you can pay by credit card or EFTPOS.

Ski Lessons

Group and Private ski lessons can now easily be booked ahead of time, via the website.

I’d opted to introduce my daughter to the thrill of downhill skiing in New Zealand, so I attempted to teach her what little I knew from a trip to Thredbo Ski Fields, as a school student, some 30 years ago.

Unfortunately for my pride, it fast became apparent that following the lead of another beginner skiers in the very generous Beginner’s bowl as well as eavesdropping on a few instructors was far more successful for my daughter, than listening to Mum’s antiquated knowledge. Physically adept, she quickly got the hang of it, having been cross-country skiing in Norway, several years previously. Before long, she was going up and down the magic carpet in the Beginner’s bowl area, while I watched on from a distance.

Hands up in a Happy ‘Y’

Lifts at the Remarkables

It is useful to bear in mind that lift passes allow you to access both The Remarkables and Coronet Peak ski fields and do not need to be used on consecutive days.

From the ski centre, we jumped, (literally), onto the chairlift, to travel up to the Tubing area. With skis on, it is no mean feat for a 10-year-old, new to downhill skiing, to manage this without any assistance. What happened to those nice attendants I remember who were there to help you on and off the chairlift with a modicum of grace?

In this age of economic rationalism, they had been replaced by a single safety officer, who replied to a request for assistance with a lackadaisical, “You’ll be alright!”  That is Kiwi skiing for you and his confidence in my skills, as anticipated, was sorely misplaced. Getting on the lift, was managed fine, but getting off was quite a different matter.

Busily advising my daughter, Miss 10, on what to watch out for when alighting from the chair, (which she managed with incredible finesse), I suddenly realised I’d left alighting from the chair a second or two, too late!! By which time, I had to jump, as the lift had started to turn and the ground was fast disappearing beneath me. The sharp decline on the slope meant I promptly lost my balance, falling over right in front of the turning chair!

With not a soul to help, I got up with the help of Miss 10, which was humiliation enough. I was then relieved to see a friendly face approach me, thinking this stranger was going to assist me to maintain my precarious balance on the snow. Alas, she was a photographer out to take an obligatory-first time ski portrait- the kind they sell in kiosks at somewhat ridiculous prices.

Snap snap snap, clicked the camera.

I inwardly hoped she didn’t get one of me falling at the top of the chairlift. On second thoughts, that could have been a better tourist photo! With my mouth wide open, gasping for air and scrambling for something on which to gain a solid footing, (said backpack swinging around on my back), it is little wonder the photographer suddenly hesitated, thinking I was about to sneeze, or collapse. No, it was me with a mild bout of asthma, gasping for a little more air.

Tubing and Snow Fun at The Remarkables

After that mild mishap, and a few more falls and runs down the slopes, we arrived at the Tubing area – which is a short walk from the lift.

Riding a Rubber tyre tube down a huge slope is a real blast in the snow. I can’t tell you how much fun it is, even for a person of my age. It is not just for children.

Miss 10 and I tubed up and down for over an hour, and I would have continued if I could have. I think sometime we may have reached speeds of 20 -30 km/h. It was heady! I felt young again!

Back then, the Tubes are pulled up by a rope tow, which has to be held taut whilst you are seated on the large rubber tube. For me, that meant holding the tow rope in a position that rather awkwardly was between my legs! Yet this was so much more preferable to walking up the hill in the snow dragging the tube in thick snow. And it meant we could get more downhill runs in. Yay!

Of course, the ubiquitous Tourist Photographer was there too. I think two photos cost near to over NZD$60.00 – you have been warned!

After several more hours, I was utterly exhausted and needed some fuel and asthma medication to continue. We returned to the beginner area instead of attempting more advanced runs. We’d fallen over too many times to remember, by this stage.

Despite seeing a nasty beginner snowboarding accident which to me looked like a flip gone wrong, we had so much fun, going up, coming down, going up, coming down, throwing snowballs, sliding down the snow cave/tunnel etc.  And the view from the Remarkables was well, remarkable!

Ski Transfer to Queenstown from The Remarkables

The return trip from the ski fields is simple enough. No need to book as apparently shuttles leave the mountain every hour, or as soon as they fill up a bus load, from 2 pm onwards.

Something to Ponder About

Te Mata Peak New Zealand
Community

Stalked!

Before the orders to stay home were given, the Moth and I were returning home from casting our vote in the local elections, in a suburb we weren’t familiar with.

This particular suburb is notorious for its colourful residents, an interesting “teeth to tatt” ratio and frequent domestic altercations. That didn’t faze us at all, as I’ve a dear friend living there, who really loves it. Never a dull moment, she says. Always a police siren to wake you up from an unscheduled Nanna Nap! Lol!

Not really knowing the directions through this delightful beachside suburb, the Moth decided to “chuck a U- ey,” (which is Aussie speak for making a U-turn in one’s vehicle), in order to return to our Home by the Sea.

It was a straightforward and technically correct maneouvre, but shortly after we made the turn, a silver commodore, with heavily tinted windows, overtook us at great speed. Not really registering his presence yet, my Moth (Man of the House), and I continued our merry banter discussing the predictions for the upcoming elections, when that same silver commodore slowed to a snail’s pace, this time driving in front of us.

The Moth clicked the indicator to overtake this car, muttering something about a ‘smart ass’, when the same silver commodore swerved again, deliberately blocking us. The Moth indicated back to return to the original lane. The silver commodore did the same.

This cat and mouse game repeated itself several times until the Moth began frothing at the mouth.

I was nonchalant, but suggested we might take a side road detour to avoid him, but the Moth was worried he would continue to follow us. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “This isn’t the Fast and the Furious! He’ll forget about his game in a minute.”

The Moth, then, had a change of heart veering quickly down a back street, far too late for the silver commodore driver to follow.

Phew! I thought as we closed in on the road towards home. I was relieved the silly incident was now over.

On turning the next bend, a lump of bile coalesced in my throat. For there, parked on the side of the road, with the engine running, was the same silver commodore! I hoped he wasn’t lying in wait for us. Unfortunately, he was!

In scenes reminescent of the seventies film, “Duel”– this dude, continued to stalk and harrass us for the next 10 minutes. I can only assume it was a dude from the size of his hand on the steering wheel, as that was the only body part visible through the heavily, (possibly illegally), tinted windows.

Perhaps he had just had a bad day, or lost his job from Corona, I am not sure, but the dude in the silver commodore with his rapper-styled Air Freshener dangling wildly from his rear vision mirror, continued his road rage game for several more kilometres, at times tailgating and overtaking us and just as quickly slowing down in front of us, causing us to brake suddenly.

It began to get a little frightening.

“I don’t want to go home,” I told the Moth. “I don’t want him to know where we live.” But the Moth had a plan.

The Moth took us for a drive, not to our home, but directly to – the local police station! Luckily for us, the parking spot right at the station’s front door was free when we reached it. The Moth parked the car and got out.

Strangely enough, the silver commodore with its heavily tinted windows drove straight past our parked car, and the Police Station entrance, with due care, observing all the usual speed controls.

I suppose he did not want to attract attention – for some reason.

We chucked another ‘U-ey and headed for home.

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Community, Environment

All Sorts of Crap and the PKR

It was a Saturday morning, 2012 and my phone rang impatiently. When I picked it up, an unfamiliar voice asked,

“Is that Amanda?”

“That is me,” I answered.

“Yeh?” [pause]

” It’s Susie. I’ ve got your crap here.”

“Sorry,” I said, about to hang up, thinking that this was a prank call.

But then I was a little curious, so I tentatively asked, “What kind of crap have you got?”

[Believe it or not, this is the second time in my life, I have had to ask a stranger this exact question. This time I was not in Denmark, but that’s another story.]

The Caller continued.

“Well, I dunno. There’s a box here, with your name on it and it says that it’s umm, filled with crap.” It had your phone number too, so I rang you, ‘cos, you know, I don’t want it!” Susie exclaimed.

The penny dropped.

“Oh, okay. I know what it is. It’s my toilet paper,” I said with sudden clarity.

[Frustrated with too frequently needing to change the toilet roll and attempting to shop more ethically for environmentally friendly products, I’d purchased a regular delivery of toilet paper from a profit for purpose, online store, Who Gives a Crap and hadn’t received a notification that delivery was imminent.]

“They’ve delivered it to the wrong street address,” I squirmed inwardly, realizing how ridiculous it must have sounded to Susie, to have toilet paper home delivered, in the days before online shopping really became mainstream.

What? Susie asks, sounding confused.

“I bought some environmentally friendly toilet paper online – it is recycled, you see.”

“Recycled? Toilet paper? What?” She asked, seeminly incredulous at my wild suggestion. [Apparently, the hole I was digging, was getting deeper]

“It’s a little crazy but it is a genuine product, from a company called Who Gives A Crap, and they are, you know, all for sustainability and helping the environment, you see. Their sales speel is really corny Dad jokes and puns about toilet humour which they print on their wrappers.”

Susie was not convinced, but eventually agreed to a suitable time to pick up my box of “crap.”

On collection, she cheezily remarked, “You’re finally here to pick up the crap, are ya?” The toilet humour was wearing a little thin, by then. I wanted my loo paper and to get out of there. So, I thanked her for her honesty in calling me and offered her a roll to try out for herself.

“No, I don’t use it,” she said.

Now it was my turn to be confused. How could anyone in this day and age, get away without using toilet paper? I pondered.

I had to know more.

Let me say that Susie was only too willing to share the finer details of her medical condition which required her to use soft wipes instead.

Before we delved into the realms of TMI, I decided to take my environmentally friendly crap and trot off.

2020

Can you imagine if the same incident happened today?

There’d be some kind of snatch and grab feast in the burbs. Not only is Who Gives a Crap now a widely known brand, but a free box of 48 rolls of EXTRA LONG Toilet paper, would be akin to finding the golden ticket to Willy Wonka.

Who Gives A Crap?

Let’s face it anyone brave enough to call their company, Who Gives A Crap, is worth a look. Plus 50 % of profits get put back into Water Aid and projects that improve sanitation in the Third World. I love that. And according to its founder, it has a low PTR!

What is PTR? you may ask. It is a Poke-Through-Rate because no one wants crap on their hands: as Simon explains in this promotional video.

To test the poke through rate yourself, you’ll have to wait a little, as the current runs, (no pun intended), on toilet paper has Who gives a Crap stocks completely SOLD OUT, in Australia.

Roll on.

This story was promptly by Barb at Barb’s blog, discussing the Corona pandemic.

Community

Sunday Sayings – “Home, Ship, Home”

If you want to live on the edge of life, you need to be flexible.”
~ Kim Novak
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I just can’t do it! I can’t,” he implored. Manfred was clearly beside himself.

Holly paused to let the tension digest before replying, “Can’t you negotiate with them, Mannie?

Manfred looked sad, then stubbornly fixed his jaw, explaining, “No, I just can’t go back. It won’t work.

Holly decided Manfred wasn’t going to budge. It was hard to understand why he was fixated on quitting the job he’d started just a day or two before. After all, working in a food truck was good experience for an unskilled youth, even if the Manager had abused him and rostered him to work long hours at weekends.

Holly quietly suspected that if Manfred quit this job, he’d find it difficult to survive and worse still, he’d lose the routine and direction he sorely needed in his life. Teenage boys with time on their hands tended to create trouble; something Holly had witnessed when her own brothers were growing up.

So, ah – what’s your plan now?” she ventured, after letting the silence hang for a minute.

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Well, I’ve been thinking about doing street entertainment, so I can start my own business,” Manfred began enthusiastically. “I have this idea to remodel shipping containers as cheap accommodation.” “They’re portable, readily available and everyone wants one.”

A business, hey? You could call it, Home, ship, Home,” Holly joked.

Manfred’s face lit up, which gave Holly a warm feeling inside. Since meeting Manfred on the park bench some months before, she’d grown to like his confidence and enthusiasm. He’d charmed her with easy conversation and a good dose of charisma, but she knew he was dangerously impulsive. And that she thought was worrisome.

After promises to meet again the following week, they parted ways. Holly back to her family in the suburbs, and Manfred to who knows where. Holly wondered where he’d sleep that night. He had explained several time that it was often safer to walk the streets at night and ‘crash’ in the park, once daylight came. On those nights, he’d confessed to using to cope with his inner demons. Holly decided she’d have to convince him to get help when they met up again.

While idly washing the dishes from Mum’s casserole dinner, with the 6 o’clock news droning in the background, Holly’s legs suddenly collapsed under her.

The unidentified man fell from the City Bridge in a daring stunt gone wrong,” the TV droned.

Her head hit the floor hard and when Holly came to again, it was easy to forget the news story. Surely, she’d see Manfred’s smiling face again, at the end of the week.

Holly’s week dragged by ever so slowly. When 5 o’clock came she rushed to the City Bridge and anxiously looked for Manfred’s slouching figure on the bench seat where they always met. She was sure he would be waiting for her, as he always did, in their usual spot.

But the bench seat was empty. Holly sat down and waited. 5.15pm passed, then 5.30. By 6pm, she could no longer ignore the sense of despair mixed with utter hopelessness that blinded her thoughts. Was Manfred really gone?

With trepidation, Holly peered over the Police tape cordoning the City Bridge’s narrow railing and absently reached for a gum wrapper someone had twisted around a wire in the fence. Her heart broke as she read the words scrawled thereon:“Home, ship Home.”

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Something different for Sunday Sayings this week

Appreciate and treasure the moments with others.

There isn’t always a second chance.

“The things which are most important don’t always scream the loudest” – Bob Hawke

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Community

Proverbial Friday – Global Wisdom

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you will too.

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“When it rains soup, the poor man has no spoon.”

– Swedish Proverb

 

 

 

Dalahest - Traditional horses

 

 

 

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”

– Robert McKee

 

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Robert McKee, A Fulbright Scholar, is the most sought after screenwriting lecturer around the globe. He has dedicated the last 30 years to educating and mentoring screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, poets, documentary makers, producers, and directors internationally. However, McKee has been criticized for teaching screenwriting without ever having a script of his made into a film.

 

Thinking about the Swedish proverb, does it seem a little shallow or simplistic, to you? Poor communities can after all, have a very rich life, albeit not in materialistic or monetary terms. Is the proverb referring only to financial matters ?

And what do you make of Robert McKee’s words? Media can be used as a propaganda tool but is the media capable of suggestions of thought? Storytelling can teach us lessons in allegorical form, but can it also lead to misconceptions  by the reader or viewer? Take, for example, teenage girls who think they should look and act a certain way, based on watching mainstream TV? Do you think that media is purely entertainment value for the discerning viewer and that entertainment value can be separated from unrealistic impressions that relationships should be always be blissful, and an institutions such as marriage is always just a walk in the park. If this is true, could storytelling still be conducive or counterproductive to happiness?

I would be pleased to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Proverbial Friday – Something to ponder deeply about

~ Amanda

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