Tag Archives: experience

I’m Flying

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Picture of sunny sky with clouds

Enchantment and excitement reign as I lean over to see Earth has become a toy land below with its lush emerald pastures, delicately placed fences and fairy tale cottages.  I’m gliding in the air, so high, with half of me one with the elements.  There is no window to lock me in, no cabin to contain me.  I’m flying.  I close my eyes and realise its real.  The dream unfolds in reality and its real.  I’m flying.

 

I hadn’t grown wings.  I was on a microlight, an incredibly “fragile-looking” aircraft with seating for two.  There are essentially two types of microlight aircraft – the fixed wing and the flexi-wing.  The former has a closed cockpit and more or less looks like a conventional aircraft albeit a lot smaller!  The latter, on the other hand, has a wing that looks similar to a hang-glider, with the seats and engine suspended below and an open cockpit.  Of course, I chose to fly on the flexi-wing and experience the exhilarating thrill of flying in an open cockpit!

 

As I first walked towards the aircraft, it’s “fragility” hit me and I wondered whether it was safe.  I wondered how such a “fragile” aircraft could actually fly and stay up?!  I cannot remember how many times I thought about turning back and going home.  I was torn between staying on firm ground “where it was safe” and the thrill of flying and conquering my fear.  Of course, the latter won… or maybe I rationalised that it really could not be that “fragile” since no one else was falling out of the sky!  

 

Just prior to and during take-off I felt very vulnerable.  I prayed.  I held my breath.  And yet I was also brimming with excitement.  Just a few seconds later I looked down and around in complete astonishment.  It was absolutely incredible.  It was surreal.  I was high above the Earth, I could feel the air and I could look down and around, all without any barriers.  I was flying.

 

For more information and for photos of the aircraft, you may want to check out:

http://www.intotheblue.co.uk/

http://www.microflight.co.uk/html/microlighting.html

 

Copyright © 2012

All rights reserved

This blog and all of its contents* (including written contents, art work and photographs) are original works by the owner of this blog.  No material on this blog may be reproduced, distributed, copied, published or downloaded in any way without the prior written permission of the owner.

* Only exceptions are the theme which has been appropriately credited and music videos.  

 

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Savouring Heavenly Chocolate on National Chocolate Week

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photo of billionaire shortcake chocolate and coffee and walnut milk chocolate

A friend and I recently decided to sign up for the most fabulous chocolate tasting club… one membership between us (if we had one membership each we would end up eating far too much chocolate!)… Its a flexible monthly membership with one box of the finest wonderfulness sent to us each month.  The first box arrived just in time for National Chocolate Week (running from 8th Oct to 14th Oct).

We decided to go for the milk chocolate collection because we both prefer the mellow and creamy taste of milk chocolate over the more deep and bitter taste of darker chocolate.  The free box of nibbles that were provided with the first box are already finished…  How could they not be?  Crunchy caramelised almonds and hazelnuts coated in delicious chocolate…

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When I opened the chocolate box I was greeted by the inviting and irresistible aroma.  Each beautiful and exquisitely crafted chocolate is testament to the care and attention to detail of these chocolatiers.  Indeed, an exquisite chocolate can and will engage all your senses, not only your taste buds.  Aesthetically, it will be a work of art.  Its aroma will fill the room.  You will hear that first satisfying bite.  Textures and tastes are an exciting paradise, just waiting to be explored and relished.  Beyond my five senses, even my mind was engaged by the wonderfully unusual creations hidden in the box!!!  “Salt and Pepper” chocolate… “Raspberry Mousse”…  This is after all, a chocolate tasting club!!! 

photo of full box of milk chocolate selectionphoto of pink champagne milk chocolate

I had never before tried raspberry chocolate… until now that is!  The “Raspberry Mousse” is described as being “made with plenty of white chocolate, cream and raspberry juice whipped together to make a refreshing mousse that’s brimming with rounded creamy notes cut through with the zing of raspberry.  Encased in a milk chocolate cup and finished with raspberry pieces for even more fruity explosions” (The Chocolate Tasting Club 2012).  As wonderful as this description is and the connotations it gives, as evocative and as sensual the description  is, the actual chocolate is better.  My words cannot do it justice, but I would describe eating this chocolate as a bite into a crisp, solid, chocolate shell, that releases a full and tangy but also creamy burst of fresh raspberries with cream onto my waiting taste buds, covering them so fully with the refreshing, sunny and satisfying taste of summer, before adding smooth chocolate with each subsequent bite.

photo of post milk chocolate and hazelnut praline swirl photo of pink champagne and coffee walnut milk chocolate photo of post milk chocolate and hazelnut praline swirl

The “Whisky Truffle” was a bit too strong for me… I later read that its enough to “knock your socks off”!!!   Hmmm….

Another one I have to mention is the “Caramel Crunch” which is described as “a celebration of contrasting textures and complementary flavours with an utterly harmonious result.  Inside there’s a melt-away hazelnut praline made with a drop of caramel, which blends and mingles perfectly.  And outside comes the contrast in the shape of a whole roasted hazelnut for a bit of crunchy bite.  Enrobed in mellow milk chocolate” (The Chocolate Tasting Club 2012).  Its absolutely delicious and the contrasting textures completely held my attention, bringing intrigue, “fullness” and variety to the experience, defining it further.

Milk Chocolate Close up of billionaire shortcake coffee and walnut and raspberry mousse

There are still many more to go and i’m looking forward to trying the Billionaire’s Shortbread…  and i’m so curious about the “salt and pepper” chocolate!

How have you been celebrating chocolate this week?  If you haven’t done anything “chocolate-related” yet, don’t worry there are still four days to go!  How are you going to treat yourself this week?

Copyright © 2012

All rights reserved

This blog and all of its contents* (including written contents, art work and photographs) are original works by the owner of this blog.  No material on this blog may be reproduced, distributed, copied, published or downloaded in any way without the prior written permission of the owner.

* Only exceptions are the theme which has been appropriately credited and music videos.  

 

Performance of Dramatic Elegance

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With the International Horse Show in Olympia, London coming soon in December, I thought I would post some photos I took at last years show.  

In addition to the show-jumping and dressage events, the show featured “The Lusitano Ride” from Portugal, where ten riders and their horses performed with precision and dramatic elegance to portuguese music.  Every move perfectly co-ordinated, beautifully performed…

Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride Photo 1Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 2Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 3

Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 4

Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 5

Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 6

Portuguese - The Lusitano Ride 7

The show also featured Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman, who stands on two horses, while he “commands” another four.  The six horses gallop and jump, all perfectly co-ordinated, with Lorenzo still standing, with one foot on each of two horses!

Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman 2

Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman 3

Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman 4

Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman 5

Lorenzo, the Flying Frenchman 8

Then there was the clown with his cute pony…

Clown and Pony 1

Clown and Pony 2

Christmas Finale

And of course, given the time of year, there was the Christmas finale, which was magical…

There was also a christmas shopping village with many equestrian stalls.

Unintentionally I managed to dress in a way that fit in with the equestrian theme, with my leggings and knee-high boots – so that was lucky!  So if you’re planning to go this year and are stuck for what to wear, you could always try that!

Copyright © 2012

All rights reserved

This blog and all of its contents* (including written contents, art work and photographs) are original works by the owner of this blog.  No material on this blog may be reproduced, distributed, copied, published or downloaded in any way without the prior written permission of the owner.

* Only exceptions are the theme which has been appropriately credited and music videos.

An Evening in London

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An Evening in London

 

 

 

 

What’s great about taking an evening walk in central London?

  1.  You can enjoy great views of landmark sites all lighted up.
  2.  There is often a good musical accompaniment with someone busking nearby.
  3.  The atmosphere is more relaxed, even leisurely, in sharp contrast to the hustle and bustle and the “I need to get somewhere important” rush of the city during the day.
  4.  It can be a romantic end to a date.
  5.  Seeing all the tourists reminds you to appreciate what is around you and to “live in the moment”.
  6.  Its light exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise.

Here are some photos I took on my evening walk in London…..

London Eye from street when early eve

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament

London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

London Eye, Houses of Parliament & Big BenLondon Eye, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Moon Behind CloudsLondon Evening with Moon Behind Clouds

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben with Flag

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben with Flag

London Eye with Coloured Lights

London Evening Landscape

Forthcoming posts over next few weeks: Unusual experiences, socially beneficial experiences, a really happy story and of course several mystery posts…

Copyright © 2012

All rights reserved

This blog and all of its contents* (including written contents, art work and photographs) are original works by the owner of this blog.  No material on this blog may be reproduced, distributed, copied, published or downloaded in any way without the prior written permission of the owner.

* Only exception is the theme which has been appropriately credited.

A Rebel’s Grace

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A Rebel’s Grace

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.  Imagination is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the world.” (Albert Einstein).

A totally different and arguably rebellious way to use imagination is through the creation of graffiti.  Now i’m not advocating that you write, draw or paint on (or in any other way alter) the surface of public buildings / property.  Instead, I thought I’d share my legitimate initiation into graffiti art through participation in a 2.5 hour, practical graffiti workshop.

Protected by a mask, goggles and pair of gloves, I chose a spray can from the wide range of colours sitting on the table top and started practising.  For those of you who have never used a spray can to paint before, I can assure you that it is harder than it looks and it certainly takes getting used to!  However, it is a fun albeit messy experience.

We were given several pieces of A4 sized thick card to work on and shown different techniques of using the spray can to achieve various effects.  There were templates available which we had the option of using if we wished, as well as small objects to scratch into the paint to achieve a desired effect.

I don’t know if it was the fact that the art form gives connotations of rebellious expression, but I felt more “free” to play with ideas and express myself without any pressure to conform to “accepted norms” of what is considered “acceptable art”.  It felt so different to art class at school where we had to draw the object in front of us and follow a list of rules.  Painting graffiti is an immensely creative and liberating experience.  I was able to search within myself and explore ideas.  Indeed, as Claudia Lady Bird Johnson (First Lady of United States during presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson) said “Art is the window to man’s soul.  Without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world; nor could the world see the man within.”

When the soul bows...

When the soul bows…

When the soul bows... close up

During the workshop I managed to complete three pieces.  I was disappointed to discover that my work has become slightly damaged (colour transfers, scratches, paint removal) through being moved around since I brought it home (during refurbishing).  Nonetheless, I have (bravely) included it on this post!

Apart from the experience being a fun introduction to graffiti art, it also enabled me to realise that, like everyone else, I have something unique to contribute to whatever I do – that uniqueness is what makes “me” me.  It has also given me the confidence to believe that even in cases where an activity is new to me there is a possibility that I may have something different to contribute.  Furthermore, this experience reminded me that art is a great way to focus on something completely and forget about everyday problems.  Indeed, as Thomas Merton (Writer, Catholic Priest / Trappist Monk, Social Activist and Supporter of Interfaith Understanding) said “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”.

Compassion's Light
One?

The usual price for this workshop appears to be approximately £75, inclusive of all required materials.  I had managed to purchase a discounted ticket through a group-buying site for £28 (after receiving £2 cashback) for a graffiti workshop at Graffik Gallery on Portobello Road, London W10 5TE  ( http://grafikgallery.3dcartstores.com/Graffiti-Workshops_ep_56.html ).

Groupon recently had a deal for a graffiti workshop, although this appears to have now expired.  However, in case you are interested please find below a link for Groupon and my favourite cashback site:

I hope you have found this post interesting and maybe it has inspired you to attend a graffiti workshop and/or have a go at creating (legitimate) graffiti or (if you are keen to be a one hit wonder) a graffito!

Forthcoming posts over next few weeks: Unusual experiences, socially beneficial experiences, a really happy story and of course several mystery posts…

Copyright © 2012

All rights reserved

This blog and all of its contents* (including written contents, art work and photographs) are original works by the owner of this blog.  No material on this blog may be reproduced, distributed, copied, published or downloaded in any way without the prior written permission of the owner.

* Only exception is the theme which has been appropriately credited.

I’m Sorry, Ma’am… I’m Sorry, Sir

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I’m Sorry, Ma’am… I’m Sorry, Sir

Just two posts in and i’ve already broken promises.  That exciting mystery post that was promised for the week beginning 11th June 2012 failed to materialise.  Act Two of “London West End Theatre Discounts” has been severely delayed.  Then theres my 6 week absence without any posting whatsoever.  All I can say is that i’m sorry.  Without meaning to make excuses, the only other thing I will say on this matter is that I have been overwhelmed by some difficult circumstances and events… some of which were anticipated, while others were unforeseen.

All this explaining and apologising reminds me of my school days…   Back then I had one teacher who would never cease to think up novel ways to punish us…  Now i’m not trying to give you any ideas here 😉  ….  I just thought this posting could do with a lighter touch… much like me at the moment.

One of the earliest punishments I remember him giving us was to fill in every square on an A4 sheet of graph paper, alternating between a circle and a cross.  Tedious…painstaking… nothing seems to adequately describe this “task”.  Ironically and perhaps tauntingly, the punishment itself was rather original.  Its infliction, however, gave whole new meaning to the concept of dullness…  Trust me, I know – having received several sheets of graph paper in my time.

Many a time I would wonder whether the teacher actually checked whether each student had filled the   sheet exactly as per his instructions…  The times when my mind answered with a “no” I would be tempted to rush through the task as quickly as possible, while a “yes” would cause me to wonder why on earth he would punish himself so severely?  I mean, if he gave this punishment to ten students each week then surely he would have to spend a longer duration of time checking the sheets than each student had actually spent on the damn task?  Maybe he hadn’t figured this out because all the knots and crosses had killed his brain cells….  After all, the phrase “dying of boredom” must have come from somewhere and coincidentally, even science seems to offer support for the notion that boredom can “kill you” or at least shorten your lifespan: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/curious/201003/science-shows-you-can-die-boredom-literally

NB.  Me knows that there are many limitations with the referenced research study (as the article itself points out) and if we are going to get all critical and and even intellectual then we may argue that the experiments weren’t strictly controlled and that there can be any number and type of antecedents for lifespan.  Thus, while the study finds a correlation between boredom and years later dying from a heart condition, it fails to consider other contributing factors e.g. someone could suffer a heart attack while being mugged (i.e. scared to death rather than bored to death) which would presumably be unrelated to the individual’s level of boredom preceeding the time of death.  Of course, we can stretch this further (in response to the sensational title of the article rather than the specific finding that boredom may be one possible antecedent of heart condition-related deaths) and state that a bolt of lightening striking you or an asteroid landing on your head, would for the most part be completely unrelated to your level of boredom for the time preceeding and up to the time of impact (I could be wrong of course and some wierd working of the universe may mean that there is a connection between such happenings).  I can see that I could go on and on on this… Why was the individual bored in the first place? Were they depressed? (perhaps a link between depression and heart condition-related death rather than boredom causing such a death?) Perhaps the bored individuals indulged in other activities (or failed to indulge in certain activities) which increased their risk of developing heart conditions?…  I can sense I’m boring you, so for now I will just conclude with… Correlation between any two variables does not indicate cause and effect and it is highly likely that lifespan is determined by a complex interaction of a large number of variables (whereby even the variables involved can vary from individual to individual, as can the nature of interaction between them).

Right, now i’m done with my small bout of being analytically critical and slightly intellectual and so will continue with my account of the punishments I endured.  Ok, so I also figured that my digression into factors affecting lifespan was leading to something quite complex… not quite matching the complexity of coming up with a theory of everything in the way string theory attempts… but hey, coming up with an equation for the determinants of lifespan for all humans is hardly a simple matter and certainly not a task I envisioned when I started this post.  So I will return to the small and comparatively insignificant and humble topic I have chosen to write about… (Who says that there is even a human lifespan equation?  Everything could be completely random or controlled by fate or an act of God…).

Back to my struggles to meet overwhelming demand for knots and crosses-filled graph paper…  I tried outsourcing and bribery but no solution was truly effective or sustainable.  I guess the job was so undesirable that I struggled to find something of appropriate value to offer in return.  Often “my contracted worker” went on strike part-way through the assignment, while attempting to bargain a better deal for his or herself. 

It was a relief when enough parents complained that the punishment was ruining their child’s eye sight.  I remember the teacher’s announcement vividly, “some parents have complained about the small squares on the graph paper and the knots and crosses ruining their child’s eye sight so I have had to devise a new punishment”.  We waited for him to continue.  The silence shrivelled with dread, yet our childishly foolish curiosity sat up straight, eagerly waiting, with patience an increasingly limited commodity.  Eyes wide…attention undivided…as if awaiting the most wonderful surprise! 

He took out a sheet of paper and continued, “this sheet contains little triangles.  If you receive a sheet of triangle paper, you will colour each triangle in a different colour and no two triangles of the same colour should be touching each other in any way”.  I can confirm that this task was much more time-consuming and i’m not sure how it was any less damaging to eye sight.  Nonetheless, it did offer some scope for creativity, which may have increased its desirability factor.  Again, I wondered whether the teacher actually checked whether each student had filled the sheet exactly as per his instructions.  This question was answered during one class when he suddenly exclaimed, “Simon, you will have to do this again.  There are two adjacent triangles that have both been coloured in red”.  Suffice to say that any student who was subsequently issued a sheet of triangle paper took extra care to ensure that the completed sheet met specifications exactly.

All these dull punishments seemed like such a waste of time and effort to my inquistive mind that yearned for exploration, discovery, adventure, new experiences, knowledge…  Furthermore, it seemed incredulous that a teacher could continuously set such time-consuming tasks that offered absolutely no learning opportunity.  The greatest irony of or perhaps the perverse explanation for such “duller then dull” punishments was that the inflicter was in fact an art teacher! 

Of course, we can argue that punishments do not exist for the offenders enjoyment or benefit and that they are supposed to punish bad behaviour, act as a deterrent (so that the offender does not misbehave in the future and so that others do not demonstrate similar behaviours) and rehabilitate the offender.  The problem is that these dull punishments were not sucessful as deterrents or rehabilitation tools.  Inevitably they did punish the offending student (if they were too dumb to get someone else to complete the punishment) but perhaps the core problem is that the student was often not punished for “bad behaviour” e.g. getting a knots and crosses punishment just for a small amount of chatter in class is hardly constructive and nor is it likely to deter chatter the next time that student has to urgently tell their best friend about what seems to be the most important thing in the world (which has probably changed by then).  Perhaps the punishments did serve as character building and endurance exercises.

At some point the inflicter of dullness replaced the triangle sheet with a new punishment that offered some public benefit.  That benefit, however, did not extend to the offending and rather unfortunate student, who was required to carry out the punishment, in person, after school and during breaks.  Firstly, this made it impossible to outsource or deploy other means to “escape” the punishment.  Secondly, the punishment was to scrape off bubble and chewing gum from under desks and chairs (yes, thats right, scrape off other peoples chewed gum).  Dull had been replaced by ukky. 

Fortunately, I figured out how to stay away from trouble by then.  Rather, I figured out how to avoid getting caught by then 😉

I’ve enjoyed writing this post and it has really lightened my mood and lifted my spirits.  So thank you so much for being a reader.  For, if you weren’t there to read my post, who would I write for?  Nonetheless since this blog is supposed to be about keeping the glass half full, it seems rather inappropriate to focus unduly on punishments…  So staying on the theme of school days, let me provide you with a few chuckles while you await my next post… 

While completing a lesson on the effects of gravity, a teacher stood at the front of the class and asked, “if I were to drop a cannonball and a squash ball from the top of the building, which would reach the ground first?”.

I eagerly put up my hand.

“Yes, Mira?”

I earnestly responded, “the squashed ball because its squashed”.

Copyright © 2012

All rights reserved

This blog and all of its contents* (including written contents, art work and photographs) are original works by the owner of this blog.  No material on this blog may be reproduced, distributed, copied, published or downloaded in any way without the prior written permission of the owner.

* Only exception is the theme which has been appropriately credited.

Hello world!

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Hey 

I’m Mira.  I’m on a personal journey to treasure, explore and relish the different facets of life: to stop where we normally rush past, to see where we never look, to reflect on the experiences that are collecting dust on the shelves of my memory, to venture to little known realms and savour unusual experiences, to inhale, exhale and live the diversity that is “life”.  Some of the things I will be blogging on include:

  • Unique and interesting experiences
  • Things in and around London
  • Real-life stories demonstrating acts of kindness and compassion
  • Real-life humorous stories
  • Overcoming obstacles

…plus more.

So lets raise a half-full glass to skipping through a life less ordinary!

Copyright © 2012

All rights reserved

This blog and all of its contents* (including written contents, art work and photographs) are original works by the owner of this blog.  No material on this blog may be reproduced, distributed, copied, published or downloaded in any way without the prior written permission of the owner.

* Only exception is the theme which has been appropriately credited.