Wednesday, 21 April 2021

A quick update

Remember those virtual challenges I do? The first one being Mount Everest. Now the second medal has come in: the Pyramids of Giza. And another beauty it is. 

The front can open up to reveal a tiny scarab that comes out and the back is beautifully decorated as well. I don't often indorse something, but this is definitely worth the money I paid for it. 

If you are into walking, running or cycling, it might be something for you as well. There are both shorter and longer challenges, but for every 20% of any challenge completed, a tree will be planted. And at the end you will get a beautiful medal. Click here for more information.

I am currently walking the Ring of Kerry in Ireland and I can't wait to finish it and get my medal for it. I am just over half way now, so I still have about 100 km to go, but I have started walking a bit longer just to get that medal. Win win for me!

In other news: I spotted the first green. The clover has started to come up. I can't wait for the rest...

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Tuesday's Travels 2

Did you guess where last week's photo was taken? Or were you way off? The right answer of course is Inveraray Castle in Scotland and Yamini knew the answer. A point to her. The photo was taken back in 2014 when I stayed at Yamini's and together we traveled a tiny bit. We didn't visit the castle itself though, although during a previous visit to the area way back in the olden days (ie pre digital camera), me and my sister did visit Inveraray Jail.

Now for this week's photo. Again, where was this taken? Did you ever visit? Share your story! Answer next week.

Monday, 19 April 2021

My allotment

We frequent a supermarket here that now has an allotment action. Basically for every 15 euro spend, you get a small double tub with seeds and some compost. Once you get it home, undo the cardboard and find out which of the 15 different combinations there are and start your own allotment.

You put the compost on a saucer, add some water and watch it grow. You then fill the tubs with the earth, put the seeds in and cover with the remaining earth. Put in the sun and wait for it to grow. According to the notes that come with, that first bit should take about 2 weeks. Then when the plants are about 4 cm (1.5 inch) high, you have to move them to a bigger pot where they can grow some more.

Now, the tubs are all double as the plants to be grown are 'buddies'. One plant will have a certain type of insect (like a louse) gunning for the nice bits, the other plant will attract another insect (like a ichneumon wasp) gunning for the first insect! Win win for both plants and for me hopefully.

So far I have planted Oxheart Cabbage and Dill, Radishes and Buckwheat, Swiss Chard and Chamomile and Lacinato Kale and Crimson Clover. As long as they will produce something edible (most, not all), I will be quite happy. I will keep you posted on how they are all doing. 

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Friday, 16 April 2021

My recent reading list

Here are some of the books I have read or have tried to read in the past six months or so. Starting with 'Interview with the Vampire' by Anne Rice. I must admit upfront, that I would never have read this book had it not been for the book club I am in. It was at times a bit of a slog and it definitely wasn't my type of book, but I did finish it. Basically it's about a vampire and the life he has lead. There is biting involved.

I also read 'The Good Soldier Schweik' by Jaroslav Hasek. This is a Czech writer who wrote this book/story almost contemporary to the period in the book, ie World War I. It follows the life and adventures of Schweik, who ends up as a soldier in the Austrian/Hungarian army somewhere. It was originally written as short stories and combined eventually to a book. Which probably makes for the similar stories all the time. It was a good read though, as it gave a bit of insight as to how the author at least saw the war going. The book is also on the world literature list I believe.

I tried to read 'Hotel New Hampshire' by John Irving. I remember reading it while in high school and loving it. But this time around I hated it. I could not like the characters in it and after only a chapter or so, I gave it up. I think that all the things that were good back in high school (sex, anarchy etc) were now things that weren't nice to read about at all. 

This year I started with 'A Robot in the Garden' by Deborah Install. A lovely book set in the near future where androids are normal in every day life. And then one day Ben finds a robot (a big step down from an android) in his garden and wants to get it fixed. The book follows his journey with the robot (called Tang) as they go on a trip around the world. After a slow start, I really got into this book. At times it was funny, at times it was disturbing, at times it was thought provoking. Well worth the read.

Then I continued with an author I had managed to avoid all throughout my time in Norway. But book club you know and I started reading 'Knife (Harry Hole #12)' by Jo Nesbø. I soon realised I had been right to avoid. Perhaps it was because it was already part 12 of the series about this murder detective Harry Hole, perhaps it was just the gruesomeness of some of it. Whatever it was though: a few chapters in, I quit. Not for me thank you. 

'Dinner at Rose's' by Danielle Hawkins was my next read. It was sort of a romcom. Well, no, it was a romcom. Set in New Zealand, Jo moves back home from Australia after she catches her boyfriend with her best friend. Finding a job in the place she grew up, she meets up with her old friend Matthew, her honorary aunt Rose and several others. Then Rose becomes ill. I found this book an easy read. Nothing too strenuous for the mind, nothing too gory or gruesome and a happy ending?

Right now I am reading 'Anxious People' by Fredrik Backman. I have loved previous books by him, most notably A Man Called Ove which has me in tears each time I read it, this one however is a bit more of a struggle. I will finish it though.

Library at Wimpole Hall
After this there are several others waiting on my Kindle: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson; The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin; The Phone Box at the End of the Earth by Laura Imai Messina; How To Be A Victorian by Ruth Goodman; House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland; Dancing By The Light Of The Moon by Gyles Brandreth (collection of poems); The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. 

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Staying close

A whole row of bug hotels
I don't have to go far to find some nice walks, but the walks in my neighbourhood are always similar or the same to each other, so I decided that today I would get the car out and drive. Although still not too far, it was only a fifteen minute drive and I had arrived. I had put it in my head that the walk would be about 8,5 km, which of course was wrong. When I checked right before I took my first step, it was supposed to be 6,7 km.

Either way, the walk was lovely. It led me through a small village and its pretty nice outskirts. Some wooded areas and back into the village. On the way I had a spot of lunch, forgot my camera on a fence post and had to trace back my steps, saw some goslings (farm, not wild) and the cutest little pony baby. I mean, it was like there was a massive arrow over its head saying: CUTE!

A friend of mine is always going out walking and finding ice creams all over the country side. Not sure how she does it. Although today I did see a farm shop selling ice cream (among others), I had only just finished my lunch and wasn't feeling like it. Yet. Because once I got back to the village there was ice cream to be had. White chocolate and raspberry. A good end to a lovely walk.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

This year's challenge

Remember this year's challenge? The one I set at the end of last year? Walk 790.8 km over the course of the year? So far... I am doing okay. I am. Really. Having started the River Vecht walk and the virtual walks help as well and that is why I am pleased to say that I have as I am typing this (April 13th) walked just over 39%. 

That 39% means that in under one third of the period (which would be 4 months), I have done over one third of the distance. I am going great! In fact, each month my distance went up, last month I nearly did 100 km. 

There is a slight note to this. The total distance last year was calculated using all kilometers I did, whether it was proper walk or not. The total distance this year is calculated using only proper walks. Which means that any steps taken during work are not counted. Any steps taken while going to the shops (unless part of a walk) are not counted. And I still have more km than I did last year. 

The 2021 Challenge is going fine!

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Tuesday's Travels 1

Recently I have been challenged by a Facebook friend to post 10 photos of my travels on Facebook. No comments, no explanations. And I thought, I could do this here. Show you a photo of one of the many places I have visited over the years. Without any explanation of where it is or indeed what it is. And then let you guess. See whether you know it. And no, I will not be using the same photos I used on Facebook... And yes, I will be giving the answer in a week's time!

So, the photo at the top: where is it? Do you know? Have you ever been there? Share your story if you have one!

Monday, 12 April 2021

How people see you

My left ear, the right one looks much the same,
apart from being on the other side of my head...
When I was about 13 and had never even had a single thought in my head about my ears, I was told they looked like cauliflower ears by a class mate (the same one that would scream if she saw the teensiest spider crawling on her desk, like a really miniscule harmless spider). I wondered what she meant by that and when I looked in the mirror, I still didn't really understand. My ears didn't look anything like cauliflowers. 

I still don't think much about my ears and still don't think they look like cauliflowers.

When I was about 19 I was told by a colleague that I had beautiful grey eyes. The fact he said they were beautiful was fantastic. The grey part not so much, as my eyes are very much blue. Perhaps not navy blue or periwinkle blue, but they are blue nonetheless.

A few years ago I kept hearing (nobody ever said it directly to my face) that I was fat. Well, this I knew to be a downright lie, as I was proportionally overweight. In the end though, I had to concede the fact that actually proportionally overweight is only a nice way of telling yourself that you are in fact FAT. Those whispers behind my back were true. I am now working on losing the fat by eating less and moving more.

Light blonde, but I was only 5 at the time.
Then recently a friend told me that my hair was brown and that I did not have any grey. When I told my mum about that blatant untruth, she said that in fact, my hair was brown (no mention of the grey). No no no no! I have never had brown hair, so the first time this year I could make it to the hairdresser my most important question was: what is the colour of my hair?

She put me at ease: my hair is very much not brown. It's middle to dark blonde (which I thought) and some of the grey is starting to show, but only slightly as my hair is middle to dark blonde and NOT brown!

It was dyed...
And as for my name! Anybody will recognise it. Being called something you most certainly aren't called and wondering do I look like a Tamara or Barbara or even Gabrielle? And yes, people have called me those names over the years. 

So, if you ever meet me: I am a dark blonde (with grey starting to show slightly), blue eyed, still overweight but working on it, normal eared woman called Mara. 

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Brom has a request


Well, hasn't it been a long time? Too long in fact. Mara says it's to do with something called corona. No idea what the sun* has to do with us not traveling, as I think that would be the perfect time to travel: when the sun is out!

Anyway. Mara says that it is not possible to travel much these days and it may be some time too. And even though we have some pretty amazing things coming up in the months ahead (Eurovision (will she get tickets?) in May and Mara's birthday (no, I am not telling anybody that you will be 50, honest!) in June), I would still like to see a bit more of the world.

So, I came up with a plan, but Mara says I have to ask you myself, as I am a big boy now. Can I stay with somebody in a country far far away? Please?? I don't eat much (only cakes), I love cuddles, I don't mind dogs or cats (as long as they don't slobber or bite) and I love planes, cars, bikes, buses, vans and even carts.


*The sun has a corona as well: check out this link

Thursday, 8 April 2021


This was taken on Easter Monday
Remember what I said last week? About that glorious sunshine and lovely temperature? Well, it is hard to remember what it felt like as only days later, the weather had turned completely. The temperatures plummeted to close to zero again and instead of a lovely summer breeze, there was now a gale force wind. Instead of a light summer shower, it was now hail and snow. 

Despite that, I did think it was a good idea to get out and walk. On occasion definitely thinking that I had gone completely mad. But, I wanted to try out my new shoes and I must admit to having that virtual stick behind the door as well. Which can only mean good things. Right?

The new shoes worked a treat. They were higher than I was used to (up to the ankle), but I found them very comfortable. In fact, my first walk in them was nearly 12 km (I miscalculated) and only at the end dit it start to be a bit iffy. Mainly due to the length of the walk and the fact that the shoe is very different from the other pair.

Then the day before yesterday I went out again. This time with a goal of nearly 12 km. And the iffyness was back within one kilometer. My ankles are not used to high boots and the knuckle of my ankle definitely not. When I finally got home after a so-so walk (wind and a lot of hail showers), there was a massive bruise on the knuckle of my right ankle. 

Spotted on one of my local walks, this was hanging outside
I went back to the store I got the shoe from and after a lot of prodding and such, we found that the shoe in and of itself was not to blame. Me going for those long walks without being used to ankle highs was more of a bother. So, now I wait until the bruise is not painful anymore and then I will start walking again in the boots. Shorter distances, so my ankles will get properly used to them. After that I can go longer distances again. In the mean time, the longer distances will be done with my other shoes.

Other than that, not much news. Well apart from the fact that my Dad got his first jab, we have gone solar and Brom wants to know when our walking holiday starts.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Photo on Sunday 2021-08

Somebody help...

I can't get up!

Thank you Mister Farmer Man!

Monday, 29 March 2021

The weather

Real choppy water
Last Saturday I went for a walk. I had checked the weather app I have and it told me that it would be fine. Ish anyway. So, I made my way to the small village where I would start from and started walking. And it was fine. Until the rain came down, and the hail. But, no worries: it stopped again after only a few minutes. 

You must be mad, walking outside!
Better stay in a nice warm barn like me...
This pattern of rain/hail and fine weather continued throughout my walk. Which lasted over two hours. But that was not the end of it. Because there was also wind. A lot of wind. In fact, so much wind that on occasion I had difficulty staying on the road or path or dyke (I had all three versions). 

I took plenty of sky photos on Saturday.
This was what it looked like most.
On Sunday I had planned to go out again, but the walk on Saturday had left me feeling utterly drained and tired. Nothing to do with the distance really (9,5 km), but all to do with that wind. 

Blue skies. Aaaaahhhh
Then came Monday. The weather was glorious, my legs felt fine, I felt fine, my hair had been cut nice and short again (I know, not really the point, but I thought I would mention it anyway). Where to go though? Stay in the area? Go somewhere different? 

That church was my starting point. This was 3 km away.

Just out of curiosity I asked my parents how far it was to a small village I had seen signposted at work. My Dad immediately got out his phone and tried to find the answer. 18 km. Too much for me. Hold on, that's by car going the long way round. It's only 8.5 km. Well....

Northern Lapwing (kievit): a sign spring is definitely here.
My Dad drove me to the village and dropped me off. The only thing I had to do then was walk home. Which I did. All 9,5 km, as I did a little tour around the church first and had slight deviations on the 'real' route. 

Right now I am tired. My legs feel tired. My head feels tired. Some of it to do with the wind (albeit not as fierce as on Saturday), most of it to do with the glorious sunshine. Blue skies, summery temperature, short sleeves. Brilliant!

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Time flies

The front of the medal
Goodness me, time flies if you are not watching! Unless of course it's our living room clock, which seems to lose more time every day. 

And the back
Nothing much has changed here. Still walking. Still working. Still doing the same stuff I did last time. I did receive my first medal on Monday. Not sure what I had been expecting, but not the beautiful, intricate and heavy medal I got. I can't wait to get the next one, which is on its way as I write (Pyramids of Giza).

Another back
Last Sunday I went on a walk with my Dad. It was a great walk, which from a shoe point of view went perfectly. The area was great as well, and I even saw two 'nisser' or Scandinavian gnomes. Well, I say saw, but everybody knows that you cannot see them as they disappear into thin air then. So, these must have been faithful representations of them. 

A yellow-hatted nisse
Oh, my Dad got his call-up to get vaccinated. He will be stung in April. My Mum still has to wait and there is no telling when it's going to be my turn. Not even having a vital profession helps in that case...

I have also started reading a bit again. I have been hopelessly neglectful over the past few months and not even being a member of a book club helped in that. One book I never even started and another I did start, but it was Norwegian crime that I didn't read then and now realise why I didn't. Not my style or type at all. 

A toad crossing.
It goes underneath the road and saves toads
from getting run over during their trek back to mating grounds
I have started now again, also helped by the fact that it is my turn to host next time: A Robot in the Garden. A book that I read on the recommendation of Dorothy Jayne (Tiny Toadstool Cottage). A bit of a slow start, but once it got going...

That's it for now, hopefully I will have more to tell you next time. Or at least show you some nice photos...

Most photos taken during the walk with my Dad