Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Practically Perfect

Practically Perfect
By: Katie Fforde

Outer back cover: Anna, a newly qualified interior designer, has decided it's time to put her money and expertise where her mouth is. She's risked everything on buying a tiny but adorable cottage so she can renovate it, sell it on, and prove to her family that she can earn her own living.
Outside, the chocolate-box cottage is perfect, but inside all is chaos: with a ladder for a staircase, no downstairs flooring, candles the only form of lighting, and a sleeping bag and camping mat for a bed, Anna's soon wondering whether she's bitten off more than she can chew.
Her neighbour Chloe comes to the rescue, providing tea, wine and sympathy - and a recently rescued greyhound, Caroline. But just as Anna's starting to believe she's found the perfect idyll, the good-looking yet impossible Rob Hunter arrived on the scene, putting up more obstacles than the Grand National. Can Anna get over all of life's hurdles?

I really enjoyed this book. I didn't really care about Anna's love life, as I could guess what would happen with that, but I loved reading about her friendship with Chloe and how her relationship with Caroline the greyhound deepened, and it was also interesting reading about all the building work as she did it all herself.

I am not a dog person (I don't mind other people's dogs, but I don't want one myself, a bit like kids really), but after reading this I have to admit that owning a dog doesn't sound so horrible. The book also makes renovating a house sound like fun, although I think that sounds like fun already so maybe that's just me. Reading about rural England really makes me miss living there, and as the book is set in the Cotswold it makes me want to see it as I never got around to go down south when I lived in England.

It is a very feel-good book and, although I didn't have too much trouble putting it down, I was always looking forward to continue reading it.

I'm leaving this at the Canberra City YHA, or maybe on the coach to Melbourne....


Day 1

The Canberra City YHA seems okay. They’ve got a swimming pool and spa (just a fancy word for hot tub, not an actual SPA), pool table, big tv and key card instead of a normal key. I’m staying in a room for 10 people, it’s the biggest dorm I’ve seen so far and it’s got lots of floor space, but we have to keep our belongings under or on top of the bed or the cleaner will (re)move them. Which is fair enough I guess, at least that way it stays clean and tidy. This is also the first mixed room I’ve stayed in. So far I know there are two other women in the room and one guy, but I don’t know what the other 6 are… Not that it matters. As long as my pyjama top stays in one place!

There is also a big balcony with a clothes line just for this dorm, which would be handy if I had loads of washing. No pegs though, so it would probably just fly away.
 Canberra is the quietest capital I’ve seen. It’s just seems like a strange place to be honest. I’m not sure why, very pretty though. There are hardly any people here! But then again, I guess it’s not very often that capitals actually gets designed to be capitals. I think it would be very hard to get lost here as well. I walked around in Canberra Shopping Centre for a bit. It’s HUGE! At least I know I can go window-shopping if I’m bored.
 I’m loving the weather today, makes a change from yesterday’s grey wall. Apparently it’s unusually hot for Canberra today; I hope it stays like this until I leave.

Day 2

I walked up to Mount Ainslie today. It was a long walk, 11-12kilometers there and back, I’m glad I remembered to bring some water! There weren’t footpaths all the way, but I managed to find my way. I was a bit worried about spiders and snakes when I was walking up Mount Ainslie Drive, but except for a lot of butterflies and a dead kangaroo I didn’t see any wildlife or creepy-crawlies. On the way down I found a walking trail and I was even more worried about snakes and spiders, I almost wished I had just walked on the road, but I didn’t see anything there either.
 The view was really nice from the top of Mt Ainslie, I could really see how planned the city is. I was almost surprised there wasn’t a café or anything up there, but at the same time it was quite nice that there wasn’t anything up there to take money from tourists.
 I didn’t meet anyone else walking up to Mt. Ainslie today, but there were quite a few people cycling. I almost wish I had rented a bike myself so I could have rested my feet on the way back down, but it would have been hellish going up.
 I pretty much just relaxed the rest of the day as I was too knackered to do anything after my long walk. I do have to say though that Canberra seems like a nice city and I wouldn’t have minded living here. It’s not too busy or full of tourists and it’s pretty and clean. There are also so many statues and sculptures that I would probably be able to discover a new one every day if I wanted to. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the city tomorrow.

Day 3

I was in a really bad mood this morning. It just didn’t start right. So to calm down I lost myself in a book for a few hours. By 1.30pm I had calmed down and the rain had stopped as well, so I went out to see the Captain Cook Memorial Water Jet as it’s only on between 2 and 4pm.
 After I had taken a couple of pictures of it I walked around the lake to Kings Avenue Bridge and from there up to Capital Hill. I could not see a single shop on that side of the bridge, only government buildings, but then I guess that was the plan of it. Or maybe it was because I only walked within the “triangle”.
 I wandered down Federation Mall and from there to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. I was thinking about looking at some more things on the government side of the lake, but my feet are absolutely killing me from my long walk up Mount Ainslie yesterday, and since I walked just as far today my feet are not happy. But I got to see all the things that were on my "must-see"-list in Canberra so I'm happy,

I went out with someone in my dorm tonight for a couple of drinks. Canberra is not really very busy on a Monday night! It’s rather dead actually. But the two places we went to still had their music on so loud that we had to shout to hear each other.

I’ve liked Canberra and I wouldn’t mind spending more time here, but I’m also looking forward to going to Melbourne and seeing what’s there, and also meeting Luna and her daddies while I’m there. Mai, who came to Byron Bay with me, is also meeting me again down there. I've got a feeling it's going to be a busy week in Melbourne!

Monday, 30 January 2012

The 99'er meme - Part 1

Another meme from Sunday Stealing.

1. Put your iTunes on shuffle. Give me the first 6 songs that pops up. I don’t have iTunes, but the first 6 songs that comes up on my phone is: Paolo Nutini – Sunny Side Up, Chesney Hawkes – The One and Only, Basshunter – Now you’re gone, Smosh – Firetruck!, Rihanna – SOS, Katy Perry – Hot N Cold.
2. If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be? I think it would be really interesting to meet Queen Elizabeth II
3. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 23, give me line 17. for quite a long time. Besides, you may not stay here for (Practically Perfect by Katie Fforde)
4. What do you think about most? Not sure to be honest, probably The Paramedic, just because I really like him and miss him now that I’m travelling.
5. What does your latest text message from someone else say? “Yeah the weather in Melbourne is great at the moment”
6. Do you sleep with or without clothes on? With
7. What’s your strangest talent? I don’t know…
8. Women…. (Finish the sentence); Men…. (Finish the sentence). Women need to stop being so self-criticising. Men are wonderful an difficult beings.
9. Ever had a poem or song written about you? Not that I know of.
10. When is the last time you played the air guitar? Years and years ago.
11. Do you have any strange phobias? Well, arachnophobia is quite common, and I think that’s the only one I’ve got.
12. Ever stuck a foreign object up your nose? Probably.
13. What’s your religion? None. I’m agnostic.
14. If you are outside, what are you most likely doing? Just walking around or walking to somewhere.
15. Do you prefer to be behind the camera or in front of it? Behind it.
16. Simple but extremely complex. Favourite band? I've never liked this question, along with favourite song. I like a little bit of everything and everyone, it’s more the beat and what I’m in the mood for than the band or song.
17. What was the last lie you told? I told a slightly creepy guy that I had deleted my Facebook account when he wanted to add me.
18. Do you believe in karma? I hope it’s true…
19. What does your URL mean? The blog is my “lily pad”, my space… This is why I’ve spelt it lilly.
20. What is your greatest weakness; your greatest strength? This is a hard one… I think the fact that I believe the best about everyone can be both depending on the situation.
21. Who is your celebrity crush? Kunal Nayyar (Raj on The Big Bang Theory), he’s just so cute.
22. Have you ever gone skinny dipping? Only in the bath tub.
23. How do you vent your anger? I write it down in my diary, usually that makes me realize I’m over-reacting, and I don’t really get angry easily anyway.
24. Do you have a collection of anything? At the moment my suitcase has a collection of stickers from where I’ve been in Australia on it.
25. Do you prefer talking on the phone or video chatting online? I don’t really like either, but I would pick Skyping over a normal phone call, it’s a bit easier when you can see someone’s face.

To be continued…

Sunday, 29 January 2012

All You Need is Love

All you need is Love
By: Carole Matthews

Outer back cover: Single mum and superwoman Sally Freeman wants a better life for herself and her son Charlie. But it’s not going to be easy when their home is on a run-down Liverpool council-estate.
Just as Sally’s mission to improve their surroundings gets under way, she’s offered a ticket out of there, in the splendid form of Spencer Knight. He has everything she could wish for – the looks, the charm, not to mention the wallet. But is he the answer to her prayers, or does her hapless ex-boyfriend Johnny still hold the key to her heart?
As Sally decides what to do, she discovers that if The Beatles are right, and all you need is love, then everything else will fall into place.

One of those books where I could guess how it would end by the first page, but it was interesting to see how they got there.

The love story between Sally and Spencer moves a bit too quick and with some too over-the-top situations to be believable. Actually the love story parts of the books I didn’t really like, what I did like was the interactions of the residents on the estate and what was happening with Sally’s son Charlie. Charlie is like any other 10-year-old and young teenager and Matthews manages to capture his thoughts about the choices he has to make quite well.

It was an okay book but very “bland”, it doesn’t really stand out from any other chick-lit book.

I'm leaving this book at the hostel in Canberra.

Friday, 27 January 2012


Day 1

Wake up! Hostel has done a bit of redecorating since I was here last in July, and of course it’s all decorated with Australian flags at the moment for Australia Day tomorrow. There is a bar downstairs in the hostel, very handy, and if you go down tomorrow night before 10pm dressed in an Australian flag you get the first drink free. Sounds fun, but I’m not buying an Australian flag just for one drink, or just for one day for that matter.

Today is boring, the weather isn’t very nice, and I saw all the touristy things last time I was here so I’m just being lazy with a book in the dorm. I could go in the kind of common room that they have here, but because the hostel is so big, I think it’s 7 floors with dorms, it’s never really quiet enough to relax with a book unless you’re in your dorm.

The Wi-Fi here is $4 per hour, but I have a voucher for 3 hours pay for 2, so unless I spend it all today because I’m so bored I should be able to make that last my whole stay. At last I’ve got some books since I bought 4 new ones in Newcastle.

I went to Bread Top for lunch. If you live in a country where they have it you should definitely get some food there! It’s yummy! Just looking at all the baked goods makes my mouth water! It’s the first time I’ve actually bought something from there as I’ve always thought it’s really expensive, but it’s actually a cheaper than most bakeries, the one I went to was anyway.

There are two Swedish girls staying in my dorm, so I got to speak Norwegian again. It’s really strange, I’ve hardly spoken any Norwegian in over 6 months except for a couple of phone calls with my parents and sister. I prefer speaking English to be honest, which I guess is part of the reason for why I’m drawn to English-speaking countries.

Something I didn’t notice last time I was here: speakers in the room. They don’t play music, but random announcements. Which isn’t too bad in itself as it’s not often, only heard it twice today (it’s nearly 8pm), and they’re talking about their offers in the bar and free tours (around the city and beach walk). But it’s so LOUD!! I nearly jump out of my skin when I hear it! I’m sure if one comes on as I’m getting out of bed (top bunk again, but at least this one has bars) I’ll fall down and break something.

Day 2 – Australia Day!!

This morning I walked to the Harbour because I’d heard there was going to be a boat race at 11am. I just have to say, the Opera House looks a lot better in the sunshine!
 I could see loads of boats moving, I thought they were moving out of the way for the race, but apparently that was the race..! So I got bored and walked to Darling Harbour. I saw a cool sculpture on the way, but there wasn't much to see in Darling Harbour that early so I decided to walk back to the hostel to make sure I had my ID before I met up with my friend (who I first met in Port Macquarie).
 Turned out I had my ID in my bag the whole time, so I just walked to Hyde Park to meet M and her friend C. While the rain had been coming down hard when I went for a walk on my own in the morning, it now suddenly got sunny, which was really nice. Now, you’re going to have to excuse me but I didn’t pay attention to street names I just wandered about with M and C. We started with looking at the vintage cars near Hyde Park. There were so many nice ones. I might not have a licence, but I do love looking at nice cars, old and new.

 After looking at the cars we walked to The Rocks. We wandered around a bit but then we started getting a bit tired of being on our feet and we wanted to sit down for a bit and have a drink. Most places were busy, I think everybody had the same idea as us. We finally found some seats at the Lowenbrau, where I ordered my first beer!! I've had some sips before but never liked it, but I thought since we were in a beer place I might as well try one. I prefer wine, or cocktails, or Alco pops…. Not a beer person. I spent about an hour getting it down my throat. M and C had a big glug each from it as well. At least I know that if I'm short on cash when I'm going out I can just buy a beer and it will last me all night, and I won’t even get drunk! I can’t remember what the beer I tried was called, but it had limonata or something in it. Not normal lemonade because it wasn't a shandy. Just tasted like beer to me though. It’s a bit sad isn't it? I worked in an English pub for about 20 months, but my first beer is in Australia…
 After our beer it started raining again for a bit. We found a fairly dry park bench and M and C shared their sandwiches and brownies with me. Then we went back to Hyde Park. We thought about looking inside the cathedral there but it was closed. So we made our way to Darling Harbour. Because it was still a while before the fireworks and stuff started we found a café to sit down in for a while.
 We then walked onto the bridge at Darling Harbour. There were so many people there, I could hardly believe it!
 We had to stand through a lot of what I would consider boring stuff. But then there is always some boring stuff on National Days though, depending on what you consider boring. The governor talked, there was like a boat parade or what I should call it, loads of nice boats, there was also some tall ships, meaning we got to see the bridge twist, which was cool. I wish I had been standing closer to the middle so I could have seen it closer, and gotten a better picture of it. 
Then there was a police chase and rescue demonstration by boat. I think we had to stand there for a little over 2 hours before the lights and fireworks show finally started. It was worth it thought, it was really good! Much better than when I was here in July.
 When we were getting off the bridge after the fireworks it took a while because of all the people. We also took the longer route, to King Street I think it was, so that we wouldn’t have to wait for half an hour to get up the stairs and get squoshed to death while doing it. M and C walked me part of the way back to my hostel and said bye when they got to one of the train stations they could use. After that I just went back to the hostel and to bed. After being on my for about 12 hours I was rather tired.

Any Australians reading this; how did you celebrate Australia Day this year?

Day 3 – Blue Mountains

Myself and a group of 15, 13 Brits and 2 Canadians, went on a Blue Mountains tour today. As we were driving there I was hoping the weather would clear up for us. It didn’t.

It rained the whole time we were there. Luckily we made a small breakfast stop before we even started the tour and we got to buy some rain-ponchos. I’m also glad I remembered to put my trainers on as I would not have been able to walk in my flip-flops, the guide did make sure everybody had suitable shoes before we left though, so that was good.

The first mountain stop we made was at Wentworth Falls. That was a really long walk. Loads of nice scenery, but because of the weather there was a grey wall instead of a view. We walked for a long time and the last bit before we turned around and headed back to the bus was down some really steep stone steps, carver out of the mountain. We got some pictures of the waterfall there, which was very pretty, and then we had to go back up the really steep stairs. I was fine, I was right behind the guide, which I liked because I meant I wasn’t stuck behind someone really slow.

Pizza oven?
 A girl started REALLY complaining on the way back to the bus. Honestly, it was like listening to someone between the ages of 5 and 16, it was so bad. I just wanted to slap her! Why would you go on a walking tour if you don’t want to walk?! She complained for the rest of the tour. We stopped at a YHA in Katoomba for lunch, which was a nice vegetarian pasta and bread-rolls which we put ham and cheese on ourselves, so I left the ham off of course.

After lunch we went to our next stop at Scenic World by Katoomba Falls. Miss Whinge opted out of that walk along with two others, and they stayed in the restaurant and souvenir shop, while the rest of us walked. This walk was only a short one, maybe an hour, and it was all downhill. We could have seen the Three Sisters on this walk, but because of the weather we didn’t. To get back up again we took this really cool train which went backwards and at a 52degree angle. It was really cool, but because I was sitting in the middle I wasn’t able to get any good pictures.
Just some small puddles...

Since I didn't get one of the "real" Three Sisters...
I would love to take this tour again when the weather is nicer, unfortunately it’s impossible to predict the weather, and even the forecast can be wrong, weather changes very quickly. It was a nice walk even though it was very wet; I just wish I had seen more of the scenery. My pink and white trainers were black by the time we finished. People tried to avoid the puddles, whereas I just walked straight through them because I knew my shoes would get soaked anyway and I couldn't be bothered spending half an hour trying to figure out how to get around every single puddle without getting my shoes wet.

When I got back to the hostel I had a nice hot shower (aaaahhhh…), I washed my shoes, they probably won’t be dry for a week, and I wrote some post cards, and this post.

I will probably feel the walk tomorrow. My feet were very tired and cold by the time we finished; they were on the verge of shaking because they were so tired! But if you’re ever in the Blue Mountains area you should definitely check it out, it’s really pretty, even when the weather is bad, just remember proper walking shoes and a raincoat.

Oh, and I did manage to make my Wi-Fi time last all 3 days.

Next stop: Canberra. Any suggestions as to what I should check out while I’m there?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Day 1

An early start today, the coach left Port Macqarie at 5.50. But that’s nice, at least I don’t have to figure out what to do while waiting for it. The coach was so full that a guy had to sit next to me, which is fine, but then he started talking to me. I know I sound unreasonable, but I don’t like it when people talk to me on the coach, or the plane... I don’t know why, I just like that time to chill out with my own thoughts. And it’s not because it was early because I don’t like it at any time of the day. And he wasn’t really saying anything interesting either, just talking to talk.

Turns out Mr Chatterbox is staying at the same hostel as me. We got to the hostel, Cambridge Hotel Backpackers, and all the doors were locked! Again the door wasn’t properly marked. Another girl with us had to ring them to get them to come down and open the door for us. The girl that opened up for us did not know how to hold a door open properly. And when we got inside we saw that we had to get up a flight of stairs! No lift. That’s fun with a 20kg suitcase…

Usually when I’ve checked in at hostels they’ve only needed to see my passport if anything, sometimes nothing, but this time she needed BOTH my passport AND my credit card! I don’t like it. I can’t remember if that’s how it usually is at hotels and stuff, but I didn’t like seeing her type in my card number and security code… And it didn’t help that she’s not the most smiley and happy person in the world.

The room is okay though, the bed creaks, so I hope I’ll be able to sleep in it. There is only one other girl in the room and she’s had it on her own for the last few days, it’s a 4bed dorm. Apparently there isn’t many guests, maybe 6 or 7… The bathroom doesn’t look like they’ve had anything done to them since the building was built, which is kind of charming, but at the same time not… As long as the showers work it’s fine. And there is only one toilet and two showers in the ladies, one of the showers has a bathtub in it. So really it’s a good thing that there isn’t many people here. The kitchen looks like a kitchen in a flat or small house, not the usual hostel kitchen, but at least you get free cereal and milk. You also get 2hrs free internet a day, but by the looks of it you have to spend it all at once. Because when I tried to log back on after dinner it wouldn’t let me.  And if you want to buy some it’s only $5 for 12 hours, which is the cheapest so far.

Anyway, I think my rant is over now.
 Mr Chatterbox and I walked to the lighthouse together, we were both headed that way, and he did grow on me, so you see I don’t mind him, just him talking to me on the coach. Saying that though I don’t even like talking to my mother on a coach. The walk was nice, I got really sunburnt, I kind of wish I had taken the FREE bus back to the hostel, but I wanted to see more of Newcastle, and I actually found a place that sold two books for $10!
 That’s one thing I like about Newcastle already, if you take the bus in a certain region, it’s FREE! It also seems like it’s a really good city for cyclists, they’ve got their own lane on the roads.

The girl staying in my room is German, she is really nice and we walked to Coles together and got some shopping done, Her, Mr Chatterbox and I went out for dinner. $5 Pizzas at Pizza Hut, 2 vegetarian options, yay!

Oh, and the TV here is a really big screen, but it’s blue! And by that I mean the picture not the “frame” or whatever.

Day 2

Today The German Girl and I spent most of the day walking around Darby Street. I really liked it, I would love to have a house or apartment (and loads of money), just so I could fill it with items from that street. They have loads of little shops with interesting items, you know the kind that you don’t really need but looks really cool, or that you do need but looks so cool it’s 5 times the price it would be in a normal shop if it looked the usual way. Notebooks, pens, useless trinkets, useful trinkets, books… There were also loads of interesting jewellery and clothes, and people wearing it. I love those kind of shops, which I guess is why I love York and Carnaby street and Camden in London. We didn’t buy anything, it’s a bit too expensive on a backpacker’s budget, but it’s nice to just go in those shops and look.

After we had walked all of Darby street we headed to the Cathedral. It’s a beautiful building. I’m not a religious person, but I do like to see religious buildings and learning more about religions, their history and things like that. I actually wear a St. Christopher necklace that Nicky gave me all the time as he is supposed to keep travellers safe. We walked around the Cathedral on our own first and then as we were going to leave one of the guys working there asked if we had noticed the dog. Which we hadn’t, so he showed us, and then also led us around the Cathedral again telling us the history behind different things and very interesting facts. I like that he let us walk around on our own first, that way we could do it at our own pace and just look.

 It was also possible to go up the tower for a $5 donation, and we would probably have gotten a nice view of Newcastle that way if it was sunny, but the weather was so bad we decided against it. Although when we got outside again it started clearing up. But we were starting to get hungry as it was past lunchtime, so we went back to Darby Street and got some lunch at one of the many cafes there.
 I also found a couple more books at Big W, less than $4 each, which is good as I will just leave the books at the hostel when I finish them anyway. I can also pick up new books at hostels when I leave one, which I should start remembering instead of buying new books all the time! I gave “Water for Elephants” to TGG.

Day 3

The German Girl left this morning. I now have the dorm all to myself. There are still some people at the hostel though, but I think it’s only maybe 5 or 6 other people.

After saying goodbye to TGG I walked to the ocean baths and from there walked along the beach to the obelisk. It would have been nice if it was sunny, would have made a much better picture, but at least it didn’t start raining until I was back at the hostel.
 Other than my morning walk, which was apparently 5kms, I have written some postcards and read a book today. I could have managed with only 2 nights here as well, but it is nice to have a day extra just so I can relax and not have to rush around and try to see everything in a short amount of time.

Although it was a rocky start at the hostel, it’s been fine to stay at. The shower is actually one of the best ones so far as it actually gets to a comfortable temperature and stays there. The kitchen is very small and not really made for socialising like most hostel kitchens, but apparently they’re working on another one that should be ready soon. So the worst things about this place is that there is no lift, the TV doesn’t work properly, there is hardly ever anyone at reception except for one hour at check-out time, the doonas were dirty and the bathrooms are really small and old. But it’s fine, it works, I get free internet, just 2 hours a day but that’s enough. I’m sure there are places that are much worse.

By the way, does anybody know why there are unicorns at random places all over Newcastle??
Next stop: Sydney!

The Good Girl's Guide to Bad Men

The Good Girl’s Guide to Bad Men
By: Jessica Brody

Outer back cover: Jennifer Hunter can supply the ultimate test. She runs a company which specialises in conducting fidelity inspections for those who suspect their loved ones may be cheating.
An expert on men, Jennifer can usually tell if they’re single, married or lying… Unfortunately, her new boyfriend, Jamie, is one of the few men that she’s never been able to “read”. Has she finally found the perfect man or is he too good to be true?

This book was almost painful reading. There was so little trust between the people in it, so much drama, paranoia… It was a bit much to be honest, but with a book about cheating spouses I guess you can’t really expect much more. The way the main character Jennifer acted on occasion was just stupid really. Saying that though the book was also kind of intriguing and I wanted to find out what happened to everybody.

Although I think Jennifer was a bit over the top paranoid, part of me did enjoy reading her thoughts on marriage.

It’s an okay book, not too bad, but not really good either. Apparently it’s the second one about Jennifer Hunter, and I do think it would be interesting reading the first one just to find out how it all started. But I didn’t feel like I was missing any information or anything like that, the book is fine on it’s own.

I left this book at Cambridge Hotel Backpackers in Newcastle so that another traveller can read it and maybe enjoy it.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Water for Elephants

My first book review for 2012!

Water for Elephants
By: Sara Gruen

Outer back cover: Water for Elephants is a great, glorious, big-hearted story set in a travelling circus touring the backblocks of America during the great Depression of the early 1930s. It’s about love and hate, trains and circuses, dwarves and fat ladies, horses and elephants – or, to be more specific, an elephant, Rosie, star of Benzini Bros Most Spectacular Show on Earth.
This story has it all – warmth, humour, poignancy and passion. It has an energy and spirit like the feeling under a big top when the show is about to begin. Water for Elephants will win your heart.

I saw this movie when it came out last year and really liked it, and I’ve been wanting to read the book ever since. And as it turns out I really like the book. From what I can remember the movie was able to stay quite true to the book, and I would like to watch it again now.

It’s about Jacob Jankowski who, when his parents die in a car accident, fails to sit his final exam at Cornell to be a veterinarian, runs away and by chance jumps on a circus train and gets hired as their vet. Sara Gruen apparently did a lot of research when she wrote this book, and it’s interesting to read about the circuses back then, how it all worked, their slang and just how it was for the workers on it.

The book changes between Jacob’s past in the circus and his present in a nursing home. I enjoyed reading both sides of the story. I also loved reading what Jacob was like with the elephant Rosie, and the other animals, although it doesn’t go into a lot of detail on that. Jacob’s romantic life was interesting to read about, I don’t want to say too much for those of you that haven’t read the book or seen the movie.

I would absolutely recommend this book, to both men and women, teenagers and older, not to very young people though, as some of the things happening in the book are not very pleasant. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Vegetarian - Week 1

I was going to post this yesterday but my time on the internet ran out before I had the chance.

So far not eating meat has been fine.

Since Australia doesn’t mark things with whether they’re suitable for vegetarians or not I have to read all the ingredients, which can be a bit frustrating, especially when it says things like “gelling agent” or “glazing agent” but not if it’s a vegetable one or not. But I will have the same problem when I go back to Norway. I will also have the same problem with restaurants and cafes etc not having many vegetarian options. I was fairly spoilt with that in England. Saying that though, Australia is a lot better at marking food with whether or not it’s got gluten in it. Which I guess is more important anyway since that’s an allergy, whereas vegetarianism is usually a choice.

I really wanted some yoghurt the other day, and it was so annoying because most yoghurts have gelatine in them. I did finally find one, a vanilla one. I put some banana and grapes in it, and it was the tastiest yoghurt I’ve had in a long time!

At the IGA in Coffs Harbour they had some fresh vegetable quiches that looked really tasty. So I asked if they had gelatine in them. I don’t think the lady behind the counted knows what gelatine is, as she said there might be in the pastry… Maybe she thought I meant gluten? Anyway, I didn’t buy it; I guess it’s better to buy packed things so I can read the ingredients myself after all.

But I haven’t missed any meat yet, which is good. I have walked past places and smelt meat cooking and thought it smelt good, but I didn’t feel like actually eating it.

I bought a new handbag the other day, it looks like leather but it’s synthetic. I asked the lady in the store if it was synthetic just to make sure. She apologized for it! So I told her I would have bought it if it was real. “You WOULDN’T have bought it??” Apparently it’s weird not to want the real thing, and I guess for some people it is. But I’ve never wanted to buy real leather, even before I went vegetarian, I don’t think an animal should die just for a fashion statement, to me that just seems a bit silly. 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Port Macquarie

Day 1

I arrived late-ish in Port Macquarie, but at least I got picked up by the hostel automatically. This time I stayed at Port MacquarieYHA. It’s really small. Only 7 rooms, but it’s really nice and home-y and I got acquainted with the rest of the girls staying in my dorm very quickly, and they all seem very nice.

After I had put my stuff in the dorm I went for a quick walk to the shops to have a look around before it got dark. I look forward to having a closer look over the next 2 days, it looks like a nice place and so far I think it’s much prettier than Coffs Harbour.
 There are no bars or anything on the bunk beds… And I’ve got the top one… I hope I don’t fall off during the night!

Day 2

I didn’t fall off the bed! Still have 2 more night though.

I had to do some laundry this morning. I’m running out of clothes. $5 to use the machine! I wish I had done my laundry in Coffs as it was “only” $2.40 or something there. I asked if anybody else needed to do laundry so that we could share but no. Oh well, I don’t need to do it again for another week now. Maybe I’ll buy some detergent and just do it by hand from now on… Would be cheaper, I just don’t trust that clothes gets clean enough when they’re washed by hand.

I also got some time for the wi-fi, $4 for 1 hour, at least it works here.
 The koala hospital isn’t too far from the hostel, only a 20 minute walk or so. I went with one of the girls in my dorm, Melissa. I loved it! I wanted to steal some of the koalas home with me! The tour was very interesting, I learnt a lot. If you’re ever in Port Macquarie you should go! It’s free. You should go at 3pm though so that you get the tour, I’m glad I did that instead of just walking around on my own.

 For dinner Melissa, and I went to the Pancake Place. We both had dessert pancakes. I was going to have a dinner one as I’ve not had the dinner ones that they make before, but they only had one vegetarian option, so I went with the banana and strawberry one instead. It was yummy. Melissa and I got along great and we even planned to meet up again when I get to Sydney, possibly on Australia Day.

After dinner we walked along the beach. There were loads of rocks there that had been painted on, It looked really cool. I wonder when it first started, who painted the first rock and why? It was cool though, I’ve not see that anywhere else, at least not in such a big scale and so properly done. It’s amazing how good some people are at painting.

 Day 3

There’s possibly even less to see in Port Macquarie than Coffs Harbour, I would have managed with only 2 nights here as well, But I still like Port Macquarie better than Coffs. I think it’s because it’s prettier here, I like what I see when I go for walks. I also like that it's not very touristy, even though backpackers and tourists come here you don't really notice it.
 I leave early tomorrow morning, I have to get up at 5am, which is kind of nice because at least that way I don’t have to try and find something to do before my coach leaves. I haven’t really done much today except for walk around and write some postcards, but at least it’s been nice and relaxing.
 I think that if I book another coach-trip somewhere I’ll just book for one or two nights in the smaller places, depending on what time I arrive. Or just book it as I go along so I can choose how long I want to stay when I see the place.

Next stop: Newcastle. Any suggestions to what I should see/do?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Coffs Harbour

Day 1

I arrived in Coffs Harbour around 3pm. The first thing I thought to myself when I saw where the bus stopped was that I wished I’d booked the free pick-up. I had a look on the map on my phone (I think that’ll come in handy a lot in my travels), and it would take me around 30 minutes to walk to where the hostel is. I don’t mind walking 30 minutes, I can walk for hours if I want to or need to. But with a big suitcase… It’s so boring! But I started walking anyway, thinking at least that way I’d get to see some of Coffs Harbour, and I just had to walk the main roads anyway, so nothing scary there. After I had walked about halfway a lady stopped and offered me a lift, so I didn’t have to walk the whole way after all!

When I got to the hostel, this time Aussitel Backpackers, I had some trouble finding the entrance. I walked where I thought it was first, but only saw a surf shop and what looked like a backdoor that was open, so I walked back and around the other corner to see if the entrance was there, but that just went to the next building… So I went back the first way and had a look at what I thought was a backdoor. You got it; that was the main entrance to the hostel. They really should have put up just one extra sign to show where the entrance was, it would really have helped. Or just spray painted an arrow on the ground. Maybe it was just me being tired and not thinking, but still. And then when I got inside the reception wasn’t in the first room! And again there was no sign! It was really simple; I just had to keep going in to the next room straight ahead, but still… I like signs…

After I had checked in I got the guy in reception to give me a map and point out some things to see here in Coffs Harbour. I decided to check out Beacon Hill Lookout as it was close and I didn’t want to risk being out too late.  It was a nice walk. It was of course up a hill, but it wasn’t too steep. And the view was really nice.
 After the lookout I decided I had to get some dinner somewhere so I headed towards the jetty. I figured there would be loads of little cafes and restaurants towards that way. There was a few, but they were either closed or quite expensive. But when I noticed how short time it had taken me to get almost to the jetty I decided I might as well check out Mutton Bird Island.
 It was a nice walk and I really enjoyed the view. I felt like I got some exercise, but I wished I’d worn my trainers instead of my thongs (flip-flops/jandals). It was also quite fun to see the burrows made by the birds, and the birds gliding in the air. It was quite windy though, my hair got really knotty, so if I go again I’ll tie it back first.
 I still hadn’t had any dinner though so I went to the IGA on the way back to the hostel and got some cereal with protein and some soy milk. Soy milk because it was cheaper than the normal stuff and also because I think it’s probably less likely to get stolen that way. I also noticed that this IGA had some substitute products. Like “ham”, “sausages” and “hot dogs”, so I might have to get some of that one day.

Day 2

When I woke up today everybody else in my dorm was already up! That’s a first! I did have a sleep-in, but only until 7. Maybe I woke them all up with my snoring…!

As I don’t like to just lazy around in bed when I’m in a new place I got up and ready too, and decided to walk in to town. The hostel is almost half way between the business centre and the jetty, it’s a little bit closer to the jetty, but anyway. I wanted to see if there were any souvenir shops in town. I try to get a sticker from every place I’ve been and I also send postcards to some of my friends and family.

There were no souvenir shops in town. Not that I could see anyway. There wasn’t really that much to see in town, so I headed back towards the hostel. I stopped at the botanical garden and had a look there. I bet it would have looked a lot better if the sun had been shining, but it was still really nice there.  
As I was getting close to the exit, I had maybe another 200meters to go, it suddenly started throwing it down! And guess who had left their umbrella back at the hostel? Me of course. I don’t really mind the rain, I quite like it actually, but I prefer it if I have an umbrella, especially when I’m wearing makeup. I kept my sunglasses on as an attempt to not get too much rain on my eyes, but that didn’t work. I got a big raindrop right on my eye so that mascara went in it and I had to close it because it hurt so much, and then the sunglasses steamed up so I couldn’t see anything. It okay, you can laugh, I was. By the time I got to the exit and checked my makeup in the ladies I looked like someone out of KISS!

After I had fixed the worst of my makeup I went back to the hostel, took a shower, changed my clothes, grabbed my umbrella and headed out again. I had seen a souvenir shop down by the harbour the day before so I wanted to go there. After I got everything I wanted there I went to the IGA again and got some bread rolls, cheese and “ham”. Cereal with soy milk is okay, but not for EVERY meal. The fake ham didn’t taste too bad actually, I put some grapes on as well and had some extra grapes and some unsalted pistachios on the side, and my lunch was pretty nice!
I wouldn’t really mind if I was leaving Coffs Harbour tomorrow. It's kind of boring here unless you're a surfer. I still have The Big Banana left to see, so I might do that tomorrow. I really should since that’s their big landmark, and I’ll probably regret it if I don’t.

When I had dinner tonight I just sat down with some random people, like usual, as that’s how you meet people. It turned out 3 of them were from England, and the 4th from Belgium. And they all thought I was British! I love it when people think I’m from an English speaking country! It’s just such an amazing feeling. Since English isn’t my first language it means I’m actually able to speak it more than well enough! If you’re an English-speaking person just imagine this; say you learn how to speak French, and you speak French to a French person, and that person actually thinks you’re French! It would feel pretty awesome, right?! I’ve been told I sound like I’m from an English-speaking country for a few years now, but it still makes my day when someone say that to me!

Day 3

Today I walked to The Big Banana. It took me an hour to walk there. I didn’t like the last 15-20 minutes as the sidewalk was right next to the highway, but at least I was facing oncoming traffic. When I got to it I took a picture of it without crossing to the other side of the street where it actually was, and then I noticed a different road that I could take back to the hostel, so that I wouldn’t have to walk next to the highway anymore. It took me 1.5hours as it was a bit longer and I also took a route so that I could get a drink. So basically I walked for 2 and a half hour just for one picture…! But I would have regretted not getting it.
 I did actually get a couple of other pictures as well, but that was only because someone happened to be skydiving.
 Coffs Harbour has been okay. I wouldn’t really have minded if I had skipped it, or if I was staying one less night. Aussitel Backpackers has been a nice place to stay. It’s quite small, but that just means that you have more chance to be social with more of the people. What really annoyed me was the lock to my dorm, everybody staying in there struggled with opening the door. The internet is also CRAP (yes, all capital letters, and underlined!) there. It’s impossible to get to do anything because some pages won’t load at all, and others will take half an hour to load, at least you pay “only” $1 per half hour. But other than those things, and the fact that the entrance could have been better marked it has been a nice hostel to stay at.


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