Every week, on a Thursday, I receive my much awaited blog posts from my friends who live all over the world. The topics they write about are so varied and interesting, it means I get to learn new things all the time. Once such blog was by Sarah from secretartexpedition.wordpress.com who is a talented artist and lover of art, nature, literature and a lot more. Her post was called The Book Lover’s Tag and she had been nominated by another blogger to answer questions about a favourite pastime of hers-reading. Just like Sarah, I love reading, so I thought it would be fun to consider myself tagged and answer the same questions.
Do you have a specific place for reading?
I normally settle myself on the sofa and read a chapter or two at a time. The other place I read is in bed at the end of the day.
Bookmark or random piece of paper?
I used to mark the page by folding the corner in the book but I don’t like to do that, so I have a bookmark that I bought in Goa, it’s simply handmade with a piece of card and colourful string wrapped around it and a longer piece that sticks out the book so I can easily retrieve my place.
Do you eat or drink whilst reading?
I do sometimes but I find eating is distracting because I can’t eat and read at the same time, especially when I’m lying on the sofa. I can just about have a swig of whatever I’m drinking and continue to read.
Music or TV whilst reading?
I can’t read and listen to music or watch TV at the same time. I find it too distracting and can’t concentrate on the words.
One book at a time or several?
In the past, I used to only read one book at a time but now I read more than one. I am currently reading two. One is a paperback and the other is on Kindle.
Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?
I love to read at home and I make time in my day to do that but I also love reading outside in the sun. I go swimming a few times a week and I always take my book with me, so I can read by the pool afterwards. I also like reading on the beach, although I find lying on the beach and reading rather uncomfortable, so a lounger under a tree is more preferable. Whenever I go out and about in my city, I usually end up in a bar having lunch with a couple of glasses of wine, so I like to sit and read there.
Read out loud or silently?
Silently, although if I read something I don’t understand I like to read aloud and slowly, it helps me to process the meaning in my head.
Do you read ahead or skip pages?
I never skip pages, unless it’s a study book or technical book and I don’t need to read everything. I have been known to read ahead but I soon realise I don’t want to know what’s going to happen, so I quickly get back to the point I’m at. I do this when I’m watching TV, read a spoiler and then kick myself that I now know what’s going to happen.
Break the spine or keep it like new.
I love the feel and smell of new books, so I like to try and keep them in that condition. I buy a lot of my books second hand and they can be a little tattered but it doesn’t stop me buying them. So, I’d say that I don’t go as far as breaking the spine but I don’t mind if they get a little wrinkled.
Do you write in books?
I used to write in my study books all the time and all over the place but I don’t with reading books.
What books are you reading now?
The Falcon of Siam by Axel Aylwen. I am engrossed with this book, it’s such a fascinating tale about a Greek adventurer, working for the British East India Company, who finds his way onto the shores of 17th century Thailand and makes a name for himself working for the Ministry of Trade. It’s a fabulous read which incorporates historical fiction and great storytelling from the author. I can’t put it down.
The Kipling Reader by Rudyard Kipling. Wonderful tales like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the tale of a brave mongoose and William the Conqueror, a love story of a girl, called William, during the British effort to provide relief to starving natives in famine-stricken Madras. There are a few more tales from this master story writer but I’ve only read the first three so far.
What is your childhood favourite book?
I enjoyed Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories but my favourite was Ruby Ferguson’s Jill Series. Jill’s Gymkhana, A Stable for Jill etc. There were nine books in the series and I read every one. I was obsessed with horses back then, I still am. Most of the books I read, when I was younger, had horses in them.
What is your all-time favourite book?
This is a hard question to answer because there have been many favourite books of mine and I don’t have an all-time favourite but some of the books I have absolutely loved, in no particular order are:
The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
The Hobbit by J. R.R Tolkien
The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Azincourt by Bernard Cornwell
Thank you Sarah for your wonderful post, I loved reading about what books you enjoy 🙂 xx
If you enjoyed this post, I would like to extend the invitation to get involved with the Book Lover’s Tag, I’d love to hear about your reading habits. 🙂
What did you want to be when you were a kid? A vet and a soldier in no particular order. I couldn’t be a vet because I hate needles. God knows where the solider idea came from, but glad I didn’t pursue that career option
Which Friends character do you relate to most? Why? Phoebe; she’s creative, impulsive, curious, and open minded
Do you like your name? Why? Yes, because it’s the one I was given. But my mum told me years ago, she wished she’d called me Alex, after my granddad. I would have liked that. She was going to call me Sharon, but her family said “you can’t call her Sharon” (?), so I got Gillian
Are you messy or neat? Both, I’m messy when I work, but I generally like things to be in their place, although it doesn’t bother me if they aren’t
How tall are you? 5 foot 6 ½ inches
How tall were you when you were ten? I can’t remember
What is your guilty pleasure? Wine, but I never feel guilty when I’m drinking it
What are you saving money for now? To pay my credit card off, which is a never ending task (I must stop spending on it!) Then I will be saving to go travelling at the end of 2018
How many Pringles can you eat at once? I always stuff about 4-6 into my mouth
Tea or coffee? Black coffee, one teaspoon of sugar, once a day
Are you an introvert or extrovert? I’m both, it depends on the situation. When I was younger I loved being in the thick of things, but nowadays I like keeping myself to myself. I still have my moments though
What will be your Halloween costume this year? It won’t be anything, I hate fancy dress
Sweet or salty? Generally salty, but I have chocolate once in a blue moon, when I fancy it
Favorite social media? WordPress and Twitter
Who is the last person you kissed? That would be telling!
What is your favorite breakfast? At the moment, corn flakes and banana, but I love a good old English breakfast
When is your birthday? April 28
When did you start your blog? August 2013 and March 2015 (I have two blogs). I started my first blog because I wanted a place to document all the things I have done while travelling. The second is my photography blog, because I love taking photos and want to share them with everyone
What is your opinion on the Kardashians? I’m not interested in them
How would you describe your style? I would say I’m fairly stylish, but I don’t really follow fashion trends, if I do it’s a year or two after it’s been in fashion. I used to be a jeans and top kind of girl, but now I have extended my look to wear other clothes, like skirts and dresses. Overall, I’d say my style is simple, I know what I look good in and what I don’t
What color is your hair? Black
What color socks are you wearing? I hardly ever wear socks, it’s too hot where I live, but I love wearing furry socks when I go home to the UK in December, they’re so cosy
Mum and Dad are such fabulous folks I love them very much It’s not just me, everyone who knows them, loves them
and says just how much fun They always are ♥ They love their holidays in the sun And they live their lives being happy together They like to play And on most days They’re up for a laugh Keeps them young at heart ♥ I miss them every second of every day But weekly chats, to see their faces To hear their news To laugh with each other Makes it all okay ♥ Parents are the best They love you until their dying breath As a child you get unconditional love And that love is returned to you For all the things you do And for all the things you say This love is for you Until the end of days
Over the years, I have travelled to over 20 countries and I’ve seen and done so many amazing things. But, there are a few places that I hold dear to my heart for one reason or another, so here is a list of my favorite places on Earth.
My home for the past three years, Bangkok excites me like no other city. Before I lived here, I never thought I would be a city girl at heart, but it turns out I am. It’s exciting because it is so diverse, there are traditional Thai temples, Hindu temples and Islamic mosques. Shopping malls that will make your eyes boggle at the sheer size and extravagance, some of the most delicious food you’ll ever eat, and rooftop bars where you can gaze in wonder across the city and almost touch the stars. The city has a fascinating history, part of which has European influences and people from all over the world call Bangkok their home. It’s a fabulous place for exploring and every twist and turn throws something new at you. It’ll take a long time to ever get bored.
Darling Harbour, Sydney
The first time I went to Australia, in 2005, I was wowed, I loved everything about it. The Blue Mountains, Fraser Island, travelling across the outback, but one of my favourite’s is a simple pleasure. I love everything about Sydney, but the best place to be is sitting in a bar, just as the sun is setting, in Darling Harbour. The day’s light slowly diminishes and the neon lights of the city and office lights of the skyscrapers, across the harbour, come on. It is, quite frankly, spectacular, especially when the lights are reflected in the water. I remember sitting there one day when I had a sudden rush of happiness and comfort, so much so, I had to ring my mum, back in the UK, to tell her how amazing it was.
Northampton is the place I’ve lived since I was 12, and it’s the place I go back to for holidays. It’s where my family are, and the friends, that know me the best, who welcome me home with open arms to pick up conversations, just like it was yesterday. My family are the single most important thing in my life, so I look forward to my annual trip, where I can spend time with them, eat some of mum’s delicious food, drink wine with mum and dad, and share more than a few laughs along the way. I get to see my gorgeous niece and nephews, who seem to be growing up way too fast, and spend precious time at Christmas with my sisters, brothers, and their families, it’s a fabulous time all together. Time that goes all too quickly, so it’s time to relish every moment spent with them.
Sri Lanka is where I got married first time round, and it’s a place that I probably would never have gone to if it hadn’t been for my marriage. We spent two glorious weeks there before jetting off to the Maldives for our honeymoon. We stayed at a plush hotel, which has since been rebuilt, following the 2004 tsunami, and we had our wedding ceremony in the hotel grounds. On the morning of our wedding, we got into our wedding outfits, both in handmade sarongs and tops to match. We met each other in reception, and walked outside to the gardens, accompanied by a troupe of Sri Lankan dancers, we signed the register, fed each other cake, our arms entwined with silk ribbon, and then sat and watched the dancers perform a traditional dance, while we sipped cool champagne. After that we went to the beach and had photographs taken, and we spent the rest of the day in the pool with the few guests that had gathered to watch our special day. This marriage never lasted, but it’s still there in my memory. I’ve been back to Sri Lanka twice since then, and it’s always going to hold a piece of my heart.
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
I only spent a few hours here, but the reason I was in Mexico was for my husband’s sister’s wedding. We stayed at the Moon Palace, a palatial and beautiful hotel, and, apart from the odd day tour, we didn’t really see much of this part of Mexico. However, an evening out saw us in Playa Del Carmen, which, back in 2000, was a world away from the glitzy malls, bars and clubs of Cancun. The thing that I remember was hundreds of tiny streets, with restaurants filled with locals who were there to enjoy their evenings. I bet it’s a different story today.
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Koh Phi Phi is another place that holds some fond memories for me. I was travelling in Thailand with my friends and they had the most wonderful birthday surprise in store for me. They had been plotting with my family for my folks to come and visit. It was nothing short of amazing when my family turned up at the bar we were having drinks at. We shared a wonderful week all together and it’s on record as the best birthday I’ve ever had.
I went to KL the first time in 2005, when I was on the way home from Australia. It was the first time I’ve ever travelled to the other side of the world alone, and I spent 3 days in Kuala Lumpur. I stayed in a lush hotel, which is, sadly, no longer there, and it’s there I dined alone for the very first time. I went to the bar to have a couple of drinks first and chatted to the bar man, who made me feel a little less nervous about being on my own. When I went to the restaurant for dinner, I remember feeling very self conscious when I first sat down, thinking everyone was looking at me, they weren’t. I ordered, and then the resident band sang a Robbie Williams song to me, making me feel even more uncomfortable, but then I relaxed, helped along by the wine, and started to enjoy myself, I even started singing along with them.
Fun Island, The Maldives
Fun Island is where I spent my (first) honeymoon. The island was small enough to be able to walk around it in 10 minutes, pristine white sand, and private beaches to go with our private villa, such a romantic place, ideal for a honeymoon. The water was turquoise blue, and so clear and warm, we went swimming every day. We saw dolphins and sharks, and swam with the many other beautiful fish that made those waters their home. We ate good food, drank cocktails, and even paddled across to a smaller uninhabited island which we had all to ourselves, because no one else was stupid enough to wade between the two islands where the current swept our feet from beneath us.
Ibiza was where I spent my (second) honeymoon, but first my boyfriend and I used to go there every year for at least 5 years prior to our wedding. We loved it there, the clubs are amazing, and the island, if you get out of San Antonio, is beautiful and we had many wonderful holidays there. We needed a holiday after the holiday, mind you, because of all the partying we did, but still, it was an exciting place. Not only did we spend our honeymoon there, but we got engaged, sitting outside Cafe Del Mar, watching the sun disappear below the horizon, followed by applause from everyone around us. They weren’t applauding us, they, as well as us, were applauding the sunset. It made the hair on my arms stand on end, and to add to that, we were sporting huge grins as we continued our celebration into the night.
Adelaide, South Australia
Adelaide is home from home. I have family there, my mum’s second cousin, Helen moved there over 40 years ago. Helen and her family all make me feel so welcome whenever I go and visit. And it’s in Adelaide that I made a life changing decision. I originally went there in 2005, because my second husband and I needed to have time apart to decide whether we should continue our marriage. It took many walks up the beach to come to the decision that would set me on a path that would, eventually, lead me to living abroad permanently. Whenever I’m in Adelaide, we share so many laughs together, I just love spending them with them, they’re like my second family.
My mum’s other second cousin, Gill and her husband Norm, live in Bundaberg, and the first time I visited them, we went on a road trip together to the town of 1770, Agnes Water and Fraser Island. They were so gracious and I was astounded at just how much Norm knew about everything, from the different species of trees to the history of Australia. They took me to the rum distillery and we watched bats fly off from the mangrove trees in town, we took a drive to Bargara for lunch and walked across their property in the countryside. I did so much with them in the short time I was with them and it was the first place I went to when I went travelling alone for the first time.
Uluru is the place I got to sleep in a swag under the stars on the first night of a 6 day trip from Alice Springs to Adelaide. The whole trip was one of the best experiences of my life, but Uluru seemed almost mystical, once the sun left for the day, only the sounds of the outback to keep us company, and it’s around 600 million years old. From a distance it looks smooth, but get up close and you see holes and gorges, springs and caves, it’s just incredible. Throughout the trip, I did some amazing things, like walk around Uluru before sunrise, hike up Mount Ohlssen Bagge, and spend the night in Coober Pedy and Parachilna, but I also met some wonderful people who are still my friends today. And travelling through Australia’s outback was such a memorable adventure, I didn’t want the trip to end. In fact, when we arrived in Adelaide, we had one more night all together before leaving.
I spent seven weeks in New Zealand, travelling across the whole of the North and South islands on the Magic Bus. When I first arrived, I hated it. I had just spent five months in Thailand, I left behind some good friends, it was freezing, and I couldn’t muster a smile for anything. But when I started my journey around the country, I realised just how spectacular it was. The scenery is just stunning, especially in winter when the mountain tops and valleys are covered in snow. I hiked Mount Tongariro and Franz Josef Glacier, I went cave tubing, sand surfing and horse riding. I spent time with new friends and time alone, I even took a road trip and had waterfalls, gorgeous beaches, and hiking trails all to myself. When I left, I vowed I would never return, but I’ve since changed my mind and will go back someday. I learned a lot about myself there, like how to enjoy being alone, and it was New Zealand where I acquired a love of walking and getting out and about.
One of my best travel moments was when I went travelling in 2008, and my friends had come to visit me in Thailand. What I didn’t know was that my friends had been plotting with my family for my folks to come and visit me for my birthday.
My friends and I had arrived on Koh Phi Phi and little did I know that, on the day of my birthday, my family was en route to the island to surprise me. When we woke up, we had breakfast and one of my friends went off to sort out a hotel for her friend that was arriving later that day, or so she told me, what she was actually doing was meeting my family off the boat.
A little while later, she called me to arrange to meet her at a bar for a few birthday drinks. When we got there, we ordered a drink and a few minutes later my mum, sister, brother and my brothers’ friend arrived. I had my back to them, so when I turned round and saw them, you can imagine my reaction. I was lost for words, in fact I recall saying “What the f…..g hell are you doing here?” My mum allows swear words in times of excitement!
I really had no clue that they were coming, it was such a fabulous birthday surprise, and after rounds of hugs and kisses, we all shared the most wonderful day. We had a fabulous week all together, enjoying boat rides, snorkelling in the blue sea around the islands, sunsets, and evenings of delicious food and drink.
All too soon, they were heading home, but it was one of the best travel moments of my life, and I will always remember it. I’m so thankful for my friends and family for conspiring in, what turned out to be, the best birthday I’ve ever had!
To have a sister is a wonderful thing And I feel blessed because I have two Someone to share laughs with To share secrets To support, love and cherish ♥ We’re different people Have different desires
Our paths in life may diverge But we’re not far from one another And respect is always there ♥ I love my sisters I hope they live their lives to the fullest To take risks Do things that make them grow ♥ You’re a mother, a daughter, and a friend In my eyes you are amazing Strong women, able to nurture A role model, a coach, and a leader ♥ Whatever you do Wherever you go, you’ll always be loved But take time for you, be happy and be free My sisters
These days it’s all too easy to use the internet to research a destination and find out about the country you may be visiting for things to do and places to go but what did we do before this new age of technology? I have a love hate relationship with the internet, it’s great for finding out about things and maps are especially helpful when you’re out and about but where is the fun in that? I like challenges, so here are my ideas about how to travel to a destination without using internet.
Invest in one or two good travel books like the Rough Guides or Lonely Planet, which really won’t take up that much room in your luggage. They are full of useful information from what a country or city is like to where to sleep and what to eat when you get there. You’ll be able to find out about the weather, the currency, practical telephone numbers and whether you need a visa. Everything the internet will tell you but isn’t it so much more satisfying to read a book and find out things that way? Maybe you’ll think differently.
Talk to People
When you land in a new country after a few days you’ll get your bearings and naturally start talking to like minded people you meet in cafes, bars or organised tours. Think of them as a resource of information and ask them about their travels so far, Where they have been? How did they get there? What did they think of it and is it worth going? They might tell you about somewhere you hadn’t thought of going yourself, so you’ll really be able to make the most out of a destination. Don’t forget chatting to the locals, they are the ones who really know what’s what so make friends and listen to what they say.
Go To a Destination Without Knowing About it First
You could pick a destination, go to the travel agent, book a flight and arrive without doing any research whatsoever. Look up places to stay in your travel books and just turn up. Keeping basic safety in mind, walk around the city exploring its many streets and alleys and see what you find, talk to others for help and advice, get on a bus to somewhere, anywhere and see where you end up. Generally just go with the flow and experience life as it happens.
Travelling without internet can be a liberating experience, you’ll become more aware of your surroundings and you’ll also experience the here and now. What an achievement it would be if we could find our way without relying on Google.