Monday, March 27, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Paging Simon Cowell, paging Simon Cowell

As always I'm late to the party (couldn't decide which t-shirt looked better) but how brilliant is Google Idol?

Who needs Simon and his cronies? Get with the digital programme.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What's on the other side?

One of the best song's in the world EVER like you've never seen it before. Go here.

A friend at Uni wanted this played at his funeral.

Bit of morbidity for you there.

No deal.

Noel Edmonds scares me slightly.

Quite hilariously, his website comes with dramatic, antichrist-stylee music.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ecuador: PART THE TWO

Right chuckles. Where was I?

Oh yes. After getting just a wee bit bored of the pikey-carnival-vibe, and being ridiculously over-charged for juice (though not before we had the chance to discover a bit of the music of Julieta Venegas), we hot-coached it out of Atacames, and back to Quito for a night. Then we were up with the larks (we didn’t see any) for a trip into the jungle around Tena with a Glaswegian couple.

This was fun. Boz liked this lots. I was really looking forward to jungle, having not really been to any before, and it didn’t disappoint – even though we didn’t go that far in.

Was nearly a disaster though. We left the rum on the coach. CRISIS!!

“I’ll call the UN, you alert the world media.”

We got over it. Eventually.

We stayed in a funky ol’ shack (and I gotta get back) for the first and last night:



And in a cave in the night in between, sleeping in hammocks. On the evening before we went into the jungle properly, our guide-slash-shaman sort of blessed or cleansed us, so we wouldn’t be made sick by the jungle (it worked). Spent the days travelling through the vegetation, where he showed us traps, what the different trees and plants did, and made us hats out of palms leaves and face paint out of sap. I’m so easily pleased. We saw fruits to have lots of kids, plants to have no kids, and plants to get you on another plane. The shaman dude mixed the mushy sap of a plant with some river water and made us all have a bit. That afternoon was a bit of was out.

Talking of which – when it rains in the jungle it really RAINS. It’s a pretty noisy place anyway, when it gets dark (again really, really dark). There’s a green static buzz in the air of insects and all non-human life. But then when the sky opens masses of water plonks down across the leaves and trees. I’m so glad I went.

All got very I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, when our guide started hacking away at a fallen tree. The air quickly filled with a seriously foul stench, then he started plucking out huge maggot-like larvae. The size of sausages. He popped a few of the smaller ones in his mouth and laughed at us as we whispered ”ohdeargodhe’snotgoingtomakeuseatoneishepleasetellmehe’snot”. We’re saps.



Worth the trip to see D bristle when we reached a hill peak and the guide pointed out a tree and got me to climb up. D wasn’t feeling well, so I was a bit surprised when she rocketed up after me to see the view. It was only when she came down and muttered ”I’ll get up off my death bed if someone tell’s me this is the tree for men to climb…”. Hahahahaha. The view was good though, if a little perilous:



And here’s something to prove that I’m probably better at taking pictures of things close to.



Then what did we do? Ah yes! We went to a nature reserve with monkeys and ocelots and big guinea pig things and more monkeys and toucans and parrots. That was really good. I wish I could find it on t’internet to give you a link, but I can’t. Really I can’t.

Our lovely German volunteer guide was lovely (obviously).

”My English is not so well, but okay enough for this tour, I hope.”

I think he was a bit surprised when I bought most of the shop’s stock of postcards, as it was the first place I’d found that did good ones. Seriously. About fifty percent have arrived here so far.

Back in the world of roads, we headed over to the little town of Zumbahua, for trek around the crater of Lake Quilatoa and the frenetic Saturday morning market. It was in the middle of mountains and amazing countryside. It was nice to see yet another type of terrain.



My god we squeezed some stuff in. I really have only skimmed the surface of all the really enjoyable things we did. But that’s okay. You’ll have months of ‘and one time, in Ecuador…’.

Anyway, after this back to Quito… meal… sadness… airport… back to reality.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

...the celebrated hammond interlude...



Ahhh. Does anyone remember the briskly short-lived Radio Tip Top? Self-concious fun, for a while.

Who was the elusive Number 1?
What ever happened to the Ginger Prince?
Did it really stand for Totally Integrated Panoramic Transmission Of Pop?

Will we ever know the answers?

Probably not.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ecuador: PART THE ONE

Aha! At last! Pictures! Now you'll be sorry...

...or at least I was, a bit, to discover that all my photos make it look like a wet weekend in Bournemouth (no offence to Bournemouth, obviously. I said NO OFFENCE TO BOURNEMOUTH DEAR. IS IT TURNED ON? I SAID IS IT there you go). What would happen was we would come along, I would take a picture, then the sun would come out. I'm not saying it wasn't warm, I'm just warning you that it won't look it in the pictures...

Right. Brace yourselves. this will be neither educational nor informative. Or even funny. Party tape. Here we go!

We started off the trip in Quito, where I hooked up with the lovely Lady D. But only after much flying shenanigans with American Airlines, who didn't want to land in Quito as the airport was closed. We flew to the coast where they made us sit in the plane until the airport had reopened, we had refuelled, and the flight crew had swapped various flight horror stories ("Shurrup! Just shurrup!"). We took off again, only to circle over Quito while they closed the airport again. We were a bit miffed by now, and more miffed when we got back from where we had taken off from to discover the ENTIRE WORLD going through customs. Okay not the ENTIRE WORLD, but it felt like it.

But then lovely American Airlines put us all up in a five star hotel for free. Ahhh. Great place to recover from jetlag, I tell thee. But I am almost word perfect on their safety instructions video.

SO. Next day, after meeting a few cool Ecuadorians, I eventually made it to Quito. Much flapping and yelling at airport on meeting D.

Quite a lot of the city is overlooked by this lady - The Virgin Mary. You'll note she has wings. Apparently this is quite rare. But there is a reference in the Apocalypse chapter of the bible about the Virgin coming on wings or something. Poor Quito. She looks like something straight out of Gotham City if you ask me. And she is stabbing herself, but from certain angles it just looks like she has a bad stitch, and is waving the rest of the cross-country running team on. Oh dear. I'm going to get got by the Biblicals among us now.

We used the capital as a base a lot, as Ecuador is quite tiny-wee, and it made a good base. We also used to get most of our cultural ‘fix’, taking in museums, architecture and churches – as demonstrated by this picture so of La Compañía:



South American churches are decorated in outrageous fashion – lots of gold, sky blue, bleeding hearts, gory depictions of the Christ and kitsch doves – all very Baz Luhrmann - but don’t get me wrong; I’m not really into any organised religion, but these churches felt used, important, and miles warmer than stark European ones. So nix on us silly cynical travellers cluttering up the space. The Cathedral was also good. In 1877 some poor Bishop got done in with strychnine in the holy wine during the Good Friday Mass!

Bet he didn’t see that coming.

During our few days here this time (oh dear. I’m being pants. Honestly, you’re not even getting the edited highlights. Look, just insert your own hilarious conversations, surreal moments, drinking fun and fun here… go on… I won’t mind), and the other times we used stopped off at the city, we stayed in the Old Town at the excellent Secret Garden Hostel. I can safely say it was one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in. Tarquin (silly name for an Oz guy) and his crew were ace. Though not least because within about 45 minutes of being in the city I developed a bit of a crush on one of the volunteers at the hostel. Who I then proceeded to behave like a prat in front of over the next two weeks. Fantastic.

We went on a trip up an active volcano – Guagua Pichincua. ‘Guagua’ is pronounced ‘Waawaa’ and is the indigenous word for baby – obviously. Baby or no, it was still 4,794m upwards, and even with a 4x4 ride most of the way, was bloody hard going near the top. We were lucky though – as we reached the peak, the clouds cleared and we got glimpses of Quito below us, the mountains around us and the crater – with smoke coming out of it:



We also travelled 45 minutes out of the city to check out the Equator. Which – hilariously – when they used GPS they found they had misplaced by about 200m. Nice monument – shame it’s not in the right place. But, luckily for us touristy types, the real equator passes through a museum on the indigenous population. So we got a bit of culture, history, and a load equatorial malarkey. Such as balancing eggs on a nail, thusly:



Our guide said he hated this bit of the tour, coz he always mucked it up – but it worked. They also did the plughole thing, and some weird stuff with muscles on the equator. Flatmate Mat has tried hard to discredit all of this since I got back, but I was there and I saw and felt it myself. Yaarboosucks.

But all that aside, the tribes of Ecuador in this region believed the thumbs were a great place to absorb positive energies – which I can somehow believe.

Quito is great, but could be almost European city. After a few days it was time for something different, so after a beast of an all night coach journey (no, we don’t really stop in the town you want to go to, we lied) – which D and I are getting used to, especially for her with six months in South America – we hit Canoa for a few nights by the sea. We pitched out wee tent in a small hotelly thing, on the sand right on the beach. Sun. Brill. Cocktails. Better (bring back the cocktail hour institution). Pool table on the sand. Hammocks. Ace. Listened to Peach Trees by Rufus while swinging under palm trees, sipping something wicked. Just wonderful.



Quite surprised actually, as D is not normally into doing nothing on the beach – but it was really nice. Factor 35. Still burnt to buggery. Blast.

Headed north up the coast on several coaches for carnival time at Atacames. This actually turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. Ecuadorians piled into the place, and played different-but-still-awful Raggatron tracks very loudly in bars that were right next to each other. And it rained. And if it was daytime, and it wasn’t raining, they were doing organised aerobics classes on the beach. Weird. Or throwing water at each other.

TO BE CONTINUED…

(when I get round to it)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Oh dear. Easter.



Mini Eggs are just great, aren't they? Aren't they great?

Glad they've got rid of the parrot though. He was a bit annoying.

Crisis may be over - looks like we might have somewhere to live in two weeks time. (Fingers crossed)

No reason not to retreat into chocolatey goodness though.

Oh god. One day I will put up a proper, serious, interesting post. I promise. One day. One day. There's so much I've nopt yet shared up here.

In the meantime if anyone knows anything about treating people with chocolate addiction, do feel free to write in. Don't expect a reply, but please don't let that put you off.

"Heidi O'Connell... Heidi O'Connell... Heidi O'Connell..."


Having only recently discovered that The Smoking Room is one of the bestest and most underrated things on the British tellybox (at almost the very moment they decide there won't be a third series. The swines.), I am even more delighted to discover the actress who played Heidi ("Barry! I'm back!") has her very own website.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Emma Kennedy. Her off the telly and those Heat adverts ("Hello security? I'd like to report a stolen stapler. It's red. No I haven't got a picture."). I defy you not to laugh out loud at this entry in her Blog. Revel in a grown actress, writer and future national treasure getting stuck in her own dog flap. Genius.

Anyway. The Smoking Room is brilliant, but annoys lots of people. Largely because nothing ever really happnens. The characters are fantastic creations, and keeping it strictly to one room works really well. I don't even smoke, but it's still like having a crafty fag break.

Handclaps.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Peow! Peow! Zap! Kaboom!

Today, I am mostly on a nostalgia trip playing v cool games I never got round to the first time.



I used to love the original Monkey Island, so am now working through Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge ("Look out! There's a three-headed monkey behind you!"), while Mark is introducing me properly to Sim City 2000 ("Right, now we've built the city it's time to throw a monster at it.")

Remember Day of the Tentacle? Magic Pockets? Populous? Lemmings?

Ahhh, retro gaming. I miss my Amiga 500+. And much kudos to iKnowWhatI'mDoing.com for this piece of genius.

I think it's because I'm in denial about having move out in a matter of weeks. Eek.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Boz is back

...and a full Adventures post will follow, as soon as I have some decent pictures to go with it (curse not having a digital camera). Suffice to say I have had two of the most amazing weeks of my life - all thanks to Lady D.

After the first hot shower back home it all seems too far away. Mixed feelings of 'glad to be home' outweighed by 'wish I wasn't home'.

Also after travelling for over 20 hours am not sure what day/time/country I'm in...



Chuffed to bits to find that American Airlines dish out retro GameBoy headphones though.