I have the answer to everything. Well, sort of…

I’m so glad that I asked for some questions on my blog last week. I’ve had some great responses. I widened my question-search a little wider with the use of Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to all those who helped. Your questions and responses are below. Don’t expect anything profound. It’s light hearted reading. Here goes…

This was me. Deep in thought. 🙂

Kiwidutch was first to respond with the ice-breaker question:

If you had total freedom of opportunity to really follow one of your passions and leave a lasting legacy behind you that benefited the city/country/world, what would you do and what would your legacy be?

Okay – I need to draw a deep breath before answering this one. Talk about starting with a toughie! If I had total freedom of opportunity to follow a passion it would involve children. I’ve always wanted to work with children, so that part is already coming true. I’d like to be involved in developing schools (I used to think that I could only do this in the UK, but since working overseas I realise it can be done anywhere). With enough money and support I’d like to develop education and opportunities for children all over the world. The Jamie Foundation: providing hope for the future….. I’d hope that the children would be the lasting legacy.

Image from Wikipedia

Ashley with her cheeky 2-in-1 questions:

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be? Why? Oops…… Looks like there’s 2 questions here. Don’t mind the why then. It could be anything, of yourself or the world history.

Cheeky Ashley indeed sneaking in two questions. Time travel: A dangerous tool to have, but one I would love. On a personal level it’s tricky to choose. All the things that have happened in my life, both positive and negative have helped to make me the person I am today. I would possibly choose that my grandparents had not died when I was a baby. I never knew them and I would have loved to know them.  In world history: I would choose that Adolf Hitler had never been born.

Picture from Google.

Terri (pushing it with three questions, but because it’s Terri I’ll allow it….)

My questions for you:
1. When are you coming to Vegas? Would love to meet you!
2. Do you have any pets?
3. If you have dinner with one famous person, who would it be?

Ah Terri, three questions (naughty).  So, Q1 includes an invite to Las Vegas? Wow, you never asked me….. Haha. I would love to come over to USA and see more of the sights. Would love to meet my first blog friend too.
Q2 Pets: I do indeed. I, well I should say we….have two cats. Fudge and Cooper. They are adorable. I miss Eddie terribly, he was Fudge’s brother but was knocked down by a car outside our house when he was 18 months old.
Q3 Dinner: I would throw all sensible invites out of the window and invite……Alex Pettyfer. Of course it would be for the high-brow conversation…..

"Hello Mister Dinner Date!"

Sarsm (my happy WordPress friend):

My question is: If you could visit 5 countries in the remainder of your lifetime – which countries would you choose and why? (can be somewhere you’ve been or somewhere new)

The travel question (yay!).I’ll choose 5 countries that I have never visited.
Japan: I have always wanted to go there. I’d love to discover more about the country as I really don’t know that much about it. I had friends who lived there, but never managed to go.
China: The future super power of the world. China has so many wonderful things to see. How could it not be on my list?
Brazil: I want to visit Rio de Janeiro. Oh to stand at the foot of the Jesus Christ statue and look out at the coastline. Immense!
South Africa: I’d choose any African country to visit (having not been there). I want to travel through Africa by train, do the safari and experience something entirely new.
…..and the last one……. This isn’t easy…..
Australia: I want to see the Great Barrier Reef. That means diving, which I’ve also never done. But I would find it so exciting and invigorating.

Who doesn't want to go here?

Helen C (Work colleague and Twitter friend).

If you were to make your favourite three course meal, what would the courses be?

Food question – Yum!
Starter: An set of amuses to begin with. 3 shot size glasses each with different tiny soups. I always love that for starters.
Main Course: Duck. It’s my favourite meal. Not the crispy duck, although I adore that. It would be roast duck with a fruit sauce. Carrots (mashed with orange and brown sugar) and potato gratin.
Dessert: Warm chocolate and fudge cake, drizzled with extra hot chocolate sauce.

Okay, now my mouth is watering.

Lekker!

Chris S (Fellow Actor, world traveller and blogger).

How do I make my blog as good as yours?

8 months of practise and watching ‘what’ people are reading. The blog I set out to create has continued to evolve since Day 1. People don’t always read the blog posts that have taken the most time and effort. It’s all about keeping with the readers I suppose. ‘Know your audience’.

WordPress - the place to be.

Liz J(Work colleague, friend and IT whizz).

How do you see the handheld device in five years?

Seamless technology that has replaced PCs, mobiles and other technology. Used in schools, homes and in the wider community. Will it work by finger? Will the mind be controlling it by then? Will they indeed be ‘handheld’ at all?

Using handheld devices.

Louise G: (Work friend and glamous puss).

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? X

Living: see above answer. Dead: Diana (just because).

Diana, Princess of Wales.

Liz J: Back for more…..

If you could invent something really handy what would it be for?

I would invent a fool-proof system for ensuring the fairest possible outcome in the Eurovision Song Contest.  That would be really handy eh?

Ah, yes ESC. Who could forget it?

I hope you enjoyed reading the questions. Did I get all the answers you wanted? Feel free to share or to ask me more questions in the comments section below.

I met Darth Vader…in Berlin.

Just got back from a weekend trip to Berlin. It’s a fantastic city – I was there two years ago and couldn’t wait to get back. The sun was shining and it was baking hot (28 degrees). Lovely, especially for May in Europe.

I got to Pariser Platz (the huge square by the Brandenburg Gate) and bumped into Darth Vader. Random but funny. I thought I’d share the picture with you all.

Great Guidebooks: Don’t travel without one.

 
The start of my collection…

I’m not a fan of bulky travel guides. They may be suitable for travelling by car, but when there are flights involved then it’s far better to have something light and easy that pops in your pocket.

I’m also not a big fan of large fold-out maps – who thought that they would be a great idea. Once unfolded they become a wind trap, they rip easily and are practically impossible to fold back together. I’m no origami expert!

That said, I was chuffed pleased thilled to discover the Everyman May Guides. A guidebook and a map all rolled into one perfect, pocket-sized friend. I love them! I’ve used them on a couple of trips and they pass the tourist test of mine.

Happy traveller here! (Recent trips to Amsterdam, Prague, Berlin, Barcelona and Munich).

One of the fold out district maps (Amsterdam).

Each city is divided into districts. Each double page inside looks at one district and lists restaurants, pubs, bars, music venues and shops that are worth a visit. The page then folds out to reveal a small map with that section of the city. Perfect! It folds out – It folds away. The next double page had more of the same. Handy information for the part of the city that you’re actually in.

The guide also contains an overview map (showing the districts – all colour coded) and transport information. It’s all in the book! Everything you need it one little book.

Surely travel is meant to be simple. Sometimes it is better to spend time on trips and holidays enjoying the sights rather than reading through a bulky 700 page guide.

Happy travels everyone!

 You may also like to read some of my travel posts:

My travel map so far (as of Nov ’10)

Booking disaster!

A flight to remember.

Preparation and organisation tips.

Prague: Czech it out and check the John Lennon Wall out too.

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

I have just finished reading ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ by John Boyne. I read it in two sittings. There are not many books that make me want to read on and on until finishing. Admittedly, the book is quite short (216 pages). A fast but addictive read. After finishing the book I was left speechless.

The story, based on a German boy called Bruce Hoess, takes the reader back to life in 1940. It centres around the Auschwitz ‘death’ (concentration) camp in Poland where Bruce is moved when his father is promoted to the position of Obersturmbannführer, a paramilitary Nazi Party rank used by both the SA and the SS. Bruce and his family live in the guard house and it is only after some exploring and questioning that Bruce begins to become more aware of who the people are on the other side of the fence.

The innocence of Bruno and the friendship that grows between him and Shmuel is heartwarming. The book touches on the horrendous truths of what happened back during World War II. By the end of the story the hairs on my arms were standing on end….

2nd most popular country is – the UK.

A worldwide survey (in 27 different nations) was undertaken by the BBC World Service Country Rating Poll to find out the views on the 16 major nations in the world, including the European Union. 29,000 people were asked to rate how ‘globally influential’ the nations were.

2nd most popular nation in recent poll.

The UK, for the first time ever, has come second in the poll. The country topping the list was Germany. The UK’s positive rating rose 5% from 53% to 58%. (Germany 63%).

The USA, Australia and Canada had the most favourable view of the UK, whereas Pakistan and Mexico had the most negative views towards it.

Naturally these views change year on year and people’s opinions are most probably swayed by political mood, financial times and down to how each country is perceived through their respective media.

Surprised by the result? Feel free to comment.

The evil dolls are watching you

The dolls are watching you!

I was over in Cologne (Germany) at the weekend and as I wandered through a residential street I saw this scary little group staring down at me from an apartment window! Why would anyone in their right mind want to have the cast from Child’s Play in their window? Freaky eyes, lingering stares and expressions that are now burnt into my mind…. Are they there to ward off unwanted guests or evil spirits?

How can I only have seen 11% of the world?

I have always thought of myself as a reasonably experienced traveller. Admittedly though at 31, I have not been to many of the of the world’s continents. Living in Western Europe I know that I am ideally placed to see a larger percentage of the world than if I was living in Australia for example. One of the great benefits is that there are so many countries, amazing cities and fantastic capitals within a short flight away. In just a few short hours from Schiphol, Amsterdam’s airport, I can be in London, Paris, Brussels or Luxembourg (and they are just the capital cities).

It is often said that European’s take it for granted that there are so many countries to visit in such a compact area of the world. These places are all on our doorstep, yet we Europeans venture to warmer or more distant countries for our holidays and forget to explore what is right under our noses. I cannot imagine what it would be like living in Australia, Canada, and USA or in the middle of Russia where it would take hours before you even reached the border to another country. I suppose that distance is relative, depending on where you live in the world, and to people living in those countries 6 hours on a flight might seem like a short trip away. Here in The Netherlands you would find it a challenge to travel more than 2 hours and remain in the country. This country is tiny!

I completed my Travel Map from travBuddy.com and was genuinely shocked at how little of the world I have seen in three decades (I expected a percentage closer to 20%). But I see from the results (11%) that I have a busy time ahead of me. One consolation is that friends on Facebook have completed the same map and ended up with similar results to myself.

In 1999, I travelled to the eastern part of USA and worked as on a summer camp (part of the Camp America scheme). After weeks on camp I travelled to the east coast of Canada. It was the furthest I had ever been from home and I loved the experience. I also did quite a bit of travelling during my University years including my exploration of the Scandinavian and Nordic countries*. People in Europe rave about the undeniable beauty and charisma of France, Italy and Spain, but for me Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland win hands-down every time. Stunning landscapes, friendly people & attractive people (and I mean very attractive…Denmark especially!)

This summer I set off with my partner to ‘do Europe’. We planned to travel for just under four weeks to journey through eight countries**. The tent was packed, the sleeping bags were at the ready and all the supplies for weeks of back-to-basic- living were gathered. Travelling by car through Europe proved to be a great way of exploring each country. We stopped off whenever we wanted to, took the routes that weren’t always the quickest and made the most of unexpected ‘spur of the moment’ visits to towns and villages that we had never heard of.

But if I’ve travelled to so many places already how can it be that it only adds up to 11% of the world? Europe is the most compact continent when it comes to the number of countries by area and there was me thinking that the world was small. Where to head to next? I think my New Year’s Resolution will have to be…. Visit more countries.

*Although in the rest of the world the words “Scandinavian” and “Nordic” are happily used in similar manner and are interchangeable, in northern Europe they are not. Europeans love to magnify even the smallest difference between neighbouring countries and you will probably be corrected if you don’t use the words in their appropriate context. The problem comes when even Europeans themselves can’t agree on the meaning of “Scandinavian” and “Nordic”…

** The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, France, United Kingdom, Belgium.