A Whole Bunch of Best of 2009s

Ooh I’ve left it too long and now they’ve all gone and backed up on me.

December 13

What’s the best change you made to the place you live?

Anyone who even vaguely knows myself or my partner knows the answer to this one but for those of you who are friends we have yet to meet, in July this year we bought a motorhome in the UK. Her name is Nettle. I wish she looked like this:


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but alas, she’s the sturdier more beefy breed of German gal:


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… although she does come with a chimney.

December 14 Rush

When did you get your best rush of the year?

I might just ramble a bit here and see if I’ve answered the question by the end of it. I’m a big wuss. Always have been. I don’t like scary rides at theme parks. They make me feel queasy. In primary school I dreaded the end of school break up when we would all go to our tiny town’s amusement park. When all the other kids were giddy with excitement I was dreading the water slide, especially the one that was an enclosed tube that all the big kids liked. I wasn’t too keen on the toboggan either. And then there were the geese that would chase after me. I don’t push myself to do the things that scare me I simply avoid them. It’s a character flaw, I know. I’m okay with that. So, needless to say I haven’t done anything too rush inducing this year. Whilst writing this I’ve sorted through the meagre, somewhat vivifying activities that have made the short list and this is all I’ve got. There’s really no way I can’t make this sound lame. A severe change in weather on a hike in the Central Sperrin’s Way in Ireland is what did it for me. I’m not sure I can describe it exactly but I’ll give it a go. There was nothing particularly hairy about the hike; no vertigo inducing precipices to be skirted or swaying rope bridges to be braved. Just a lovely, hilly, oftentimes boggy terrain to be leisurely trundled. It was a beautiful day and after walking steadily uphill for quite some time we were fairly hot and sweaty. When we finally crested the summit we found ourselves in the turbulent cloud layer. It was awesome. We were buffeted by a fiercely strong wind, pounded by icy cold rain and a dark layer of swiftly moving clouds surrounded us. I was elated. That’s all. The pure joy of being out in the elements and the intense surprise of the extreme weather exhilarated me. Quite a rush.   


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December 15 Best Packaging

Did your headphones come in a sweet case? See a bottle of tea in another country that stood off the shelves?

Self righteous hippy outrage isn’t usually my style but I feel a rant coming on. You have been warned! Throughout our travels in Europe we’ve noticed a distressing trend towards over packaging. Things come in boxes which come in plastic then the things in the boxes are divided into smaller portions that are covered in more plastic. It’s out of control. I’m boycotting Twinnings after discovering that they’re tea bags are individually wrapped! How ridiculous, how pretentious, how irresponsible! Which brings me to the best packaging. We’ve been in Tunisia for a month now. We do grocery shopping here and of course there are many differences such as the deafeningly loud Islamic singing playing in one supermarket but by far the biggest difference I’ve noticed is in the packaging, or lack thereof. In the small grocery stores that dot the streets, everything from olives to beans to sugar can be found in vats or bins or buckets to be scooped into a bag. The focus is truly on providing the produce in the most economical way possible with none of the branding or marketing that has led to boutique individually wrapped products in more developed countries. Even olive oil can be bought in re-used water bottles. It’s not always pretty and I have no idea how hygienic it is but it’s refreshing.

December 16 Tea of the Year

I can taste my favourite tea right now. What’s yours?

Mike and I were befriended by a local Tunisian the other week. He took us out for coffee the day we met then that night we went out for dinner and tea afterwards. I’ve yet to see a woman in a cafe here. They definitely seem to be solely a masculine domain. Walking past one always gives me a vague feeling of unease. Maybe it’s because I grew up in machismo-drenched rural Australia but I find there’s something inherently menacing about a group of men. Is that just me, ladies? Am I in need of therapy? So, when our new friend took us to one of these establishments I kind of felt like a curiosity, an honorary male as a foreign woman, if you will. No matter how much it’s something I don’t want to do or wouldn’t usually want to do, if it involves going out with a local in a foreign country it’s always worthwhile. In this case I experienced the taste sensation that is mint tea. Of course, I’ve had mint tea before but never one that’s made me exclaim with delight. And I did exclaim boys and girls, oh yes. I’ve never been one for flavoured teas. I like the exotic romance of them (plus those little arabic tea glasses) but have never been able to actually summon up much of a taste for them. A whole new world of tea drinking possibilities has opened up before me.

December 17 Word or Phrase

A word that encapsulates your year. “2009 was ___.”

“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred”.

– JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE

Truly the universe seemed to conspire in our favour to make this vagabonding life choice of ours a success. I discovered art just when I was to be granted the time to pursue it. Almost a year’s worth of housesitting opportunities presented themselves so that we could save money on rent and put it towards our new home, “Nettle”. Distant relatives who also happen to be full time motorhomers took us under their wing and found the perfect motorhome for us the first time we visited a dealer. Honestly, it was just all too easy. If we had of done this at any other time maybe none of these things would have transpired. As it is it’s all worked out beautifully, like jigsaw puzzle pieces snapping into place.

December 18 Shop

Online or offline, where did you spend most of your mad money this year?

I brought very few clothes with me on our move to Europe. I packed as much as I would if we were only coming over for a few weeks. This leaves me in the dubiously enviable position of being able to reinvent my wardrobe. Something that, given my pickiness and frugal ways is long overdue. I’ve determined I will only buy clothes that I am absolutely in love with and have been drawing much inspiration from Some Girls Wander to give some focus to my personal makeover. Since my last clothes shopping trip I’ve also added an addendum that that which I love must also be flattering or at the very least not unflattering – a stipulation you would think should go without saying but one look at some of the items that have found their way into my wardrobe disproves that theory rather conclusively. I found a little hand made clothes boutique in Positano, Italy by the name of “Nadir”. I could have purchased about 80% of the clothes in that store and stayed true to my “must love it” commandment. I spent hours in there whilst my friends were at the beach. It was a very emotional experience given that the skirts were going for €200 – €250 and therefore completely out of reach of my frugal little fingers. I wish I had of taken photos of the skirts because they were the real show stoppers but a few shots of the more affordable bits and pieces I did buy and a screen shot of their website that hasn’t been updated since 2007 will have to suffice.


Top & Shrug


Top - Front Detail


Top - Side Detail


Shrug


For my Besty


Screenshot from Website

I came away with a passionate desire to buy a sewing machine and learn how to make skirts. It’s definitely still on the to do list.

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