Saturday, 29 October 2011

Quick Quintet: Sweet Treats

This is a special request by the Fudge Princess (funny that!). I'm sticking specifically to sweets here, rather than chocolate or biscuits.

Most of the sweets that I like are memories of childhood, when we used to go to the local sweet shop and buy quarters of confectionery that were weighed out on scoop scales and poured into paper bags. My sister used to send me to buy her Kola cubes and I was allowed a couple as commission. Happy Days!

5 Top Sweets:
  1. Rhubarb and custards - the originals, I'm saying nothing about the ones you used to get at raves in the 90s
  2. Sherbet lemons - suck them till  you get ulcers on your tongue
  3. Maynards wine gums (has to be Maynards) - hoots mon, there's juice loose aboot this hoose!
  4. Bassett's Jelly Babies (ditto Bassetts) - they're in a wibbly wobbly world of their own - apparently they were launched in Sheffield in 1918 to mark the end of WWI and were originally called Peace Babies
  5. Trebor Softmints - loved this ad (especially the cat). How did we ever think that the smell of mint would fool our parents that we hadn't been drinking/smoking - it was just such a dead giveaway!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Quick Quintet: Dream Destinations

On the subject of dreams (which we were) and holidays (which we have been), here are some of my dream destinations. They're all places I'd really like to go on holiday but cost a fair bit; maybe if I won a medium-sized lottery I'd blow the cash on one of these. Mind you, I suppose I would have to start buying the tickets first.

5 Dream Destinations:
  1. Safari in Africa: It's all about the wildlife - lions; leopards; cheetahs; zebras; elephants; antelope; wildebeest and giraffes (crouching or otherwise). Whether in Botswana, Kenya, Zambia, or any other realtively stable African country, I would love to experience the stunning scenery and the play of light and colour. Those lodges look like my idea of heaven, and are way out of my price range.
  2. Antarctica: The same but different, i.e. It's all about the wildlife, scenery and light and colour. And it would have to be seen from a (warm) cruise ship, which is way beyond my budget. My camera would get such a hammering!
  3. South America: yup, the entire continent. I mean, it's got everything: ancient history (Incas and Machu Pichu), colonial cities, vibrant modern cities, deserts, mountains, glaciers, beaches, rainforests, waterfalls, wildlife (imagine visiting the Galapagos Islands!) and wine - and my life will not be complete until I have learned to tango in Buenos Aires. I know, it will take at least a year (and that's just learning to dance...)
  4. Vienna: Speaking of dancing, I would love to sweep down a staircase in Vienna and glide across the ballroom in a fabulous dress dancing a waltz. The opera; the music; the architecture; the palaces; the Lippizan stallions; the cake... And I would probably take a side-trip to Budapest to see my bridge (the same design as the one in Marlow)
  5. Uluru: specifically as a highlight of a trip on the Ghan, the train that travels from Adelaide through Alice Springs to Darwin. And I don't care how naff it is; I want to dine by candle and starlight at those tables with white linen tablecloths and know I don't have to do the washing up or the laundry!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Quick Quintet:Possible Dreams

When I was a child and I couldn't sleep, I tried to think of my favourite dream and wish myself into it. I think they used to feature fluffy kittens and the like. My neice once came downstairs in tears after bedtime because "I can't find a dream with me in it", so I am not alone.

I still do a similar sort of thing - not always when I am trying to sleep; some of them are just my favourite daydreams. Of course there are things we all want (well, maybe not all, but they're pretty common): a cure for cancer, and an end to global poverty being pretty high on the wish list.

But no matter what John Lennon may have you believe, world peace is simply too hard to imagine. I have to be able to visualise these things in my head to make them valid fantasies. And I'm not talking bedroom stuff here - these are all pretty clean.

5 Favourite Daydreams:
  1. Crossing the ball for the winning Liverpool goal in the Champions League final. I never score the goal, but I always set it up with a sublime cross that Stevie G blasts into the back of the net. I often re-enact this cross in my sleep - Him Outdoors has the bruises to prove it. The crowd goes wild and I celebrate by leaping up and down inanely with all my teammates (who include Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Kevin Keegan, Alan Hansen, Jason McAteer, John Barnes, Bruce Grobbelar, Michael Owen and Ian Rush)
  2. Winning an Oscar - although it is for a stage performance, the setting is all Oscar. My speech is perfect - not too short; not too long; remarkably gracious and un-tongue-tied
  3. Driving with Him Outdoors through Cotswold lanes in an E-type Jag convertible. It is British racing green with the luggage strapped to the back. I am looking effortlessly chic in a chiffon scarf and stylish sunglasses and somehow I know we are going to one of those boutique hotels in the country where we will drink gin and tonic on the verandah before sitting down to dinner
  4. Some race or other: I'm running really fast down the finishing chute and everyone is cheering and waving flags. I actually imagine this often when I am out on a training run
  5. Seeing my book on the shelves of a bookshop. I know what the cover will look like

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Quick Quintet: Orangutans

Hands up who thought orangutans were so called because they had orange fur. Yup, me too. Wrong. Orang means man in Malaysian, and utan means forest, so these are men of the forest. (Or women, obviously.) We were thrilled to see several at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo and I learned a few things about them.

5 Things I Learned About Orangutans:
  1. Whereas they used to be widespread throughout South East Asia, due to hunting and deforestation, orangutans are now only found in Borneo and Sumatra
  2. Orangutans build two nests a day from leafy branches, 40-60m up in the trees - they make a rough one for an afternoon nap and a more substantial one for their nightime sleep. When it rains, they cover themselves with a palm frond or similar
  3. The mother orangutan looks after her young for about eight years - during this time she will not mate
  4. Unlike most monkeys and primates, orangutans are solitary animals and live alone (or with their mother) . They do not socialise - to such an extent that if they are searching for fruit in the same tree, they will sit apart from each other while eating and leave alone afterwards
  5. Orangutans share 96.4% of the same genetic make-up as humans (but their arms are 30% longer than their legs)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Quick Quintet: Taking it for Granted

Holidays are great; coming home can often be a bit depressing. We have just returned from the most amazing time in Borneo visiting family and exploring. Life back at work is a bit of an anti-climax (although it is always a pleasure to see our gorgeous cat again) so I played at Pollyanna to cheer myself up.

5 Good Things about Being back in New Zealand:
  1. Flushing toilets
  2. Clean drinking water from the tap
  3. Sleeping without mosquito nets
  4. Walking without having to check for snakes
  5. Being able to go into buildings without air-conditioning

Monday, 24 October 2011

Quick Quintet: Past Pictures

This list will be slightly skewed, because I have been on a couple of long-haul flights recently and watched in-flight 'entertainment'.

5 Most Recent Films Seen:
  1. Bitter/Sweet - terrible American romantic 'comedy' in which an American businessman is sent to Thailand to purchase coffee beans and ends up falling in love with a local girl, despite his far more attractive - in every way - fiancĂ©e back home. If there is a happy ending, it is that she has a lucky escape.
  2. Too Big to Fail - very well-acted and well-written drama (and it really is dramatic) about the fall of the Lehman brothers and the subsequent financial metdown of 2008. If it has a failing, it is that the 'spell-it-out-really-simply-for-the-stupid-people' scenes are delivered to the only two women in the film. Clearly it takes a man to make a really big financial cock-up. 
  3. Cewek Gokil - bad Indonesian film about a girl who wants a car so she can help her mother's business, gain some independence, and get the guy. 
  4. Sanctum - cave-diving goes wrong, with a father-son dysfunctional relationship tacked on for added intrigue. It might be better in 3D - we watched it in 2D and the characters barely even make it to one.
  5. Midnight in Paris - Charming Woody Allen directed fantasy rom-com with resplendent Parisian backdrops, fine actors and a delightful story-line suggesting you should be happy with the era in which you live, rather than striving for the impossible; a sentimental journey away from nostalgia. Nice.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Quick Qintet: Dad's advice

In the interests of equality:

5 Things My Dad Taught Me:
  1. It's never 'just a game' - play nicely, but play to win
  2. The person who doesn't pour the wine gets to choose the glass
  3. Never drive drunk, or let anyone else do it - if you really can't stop them; don't get in the car
  4. Listen; you might learn something
  5. Don't mock what you don't understand