There’s just something about daffodils. Seeing them stand proudly, being battered by the wind and frozen by the hail, born too soon. They normally start to bloom end January, early February but the cold spell this year lasted much longer than usual. So, they waited. Slowly, their yellow petals emerged, shining in the early Spring sun. Now, the whole drive-way is lined with them- golden daffodils, those optimistic flowers.
I have to start off by saying that I’m not the best photographer. I’m guilty of using my iPhone more than my DSLR camera, or just letting Maya do all the hard work and ending up IN the photos instead. So when I got a GoPro HERO last Christmas, it was a bit of a revelation. Once the domain of thrill seekers and extreme sports junkies, these days everyone and anyone uses GoPros on their travels. Although I’m still scratching the surface in terms of using mine, I thought I’d share why I love my GoPro and why its the perfect little camera for lazy travellers.
Rice. It was the only thing on my mind as I pushed through the crowds, past the crowded markets stalls, past the vendors selling spicy noodle broth and skewered meat, as great vats of hot oil bubbled next to them. Lunchtime, and everyone except me seemed to be stuffing their face with something good. “Rice”. I demanded of a stall owner, “plain, white rice, do you have any?” She glared at me and shook her head. I moved on, trying one vendor after the other. No one would oblige, I was shooed away by everyone, it was as if I’d said a bad word. Hungry and confused, I marched on, a woman possessed. I knew what I had to do.
You know when people talk about 1980 something, the year of the heatwave and you think, that’s great, but those don’t exist anymore, especially not in England. Summer 2016. Finally, I can refer to 2016 in 10 years time as the year of the heatwave too. Not one, but a succession of them, sparking BBC articles covering how best to get sleep in a heatwave, causing runways to melt and delay Easyjet flights and train tracks to be deemed too hot to handle- just another one of Abelio Greater Anglia’s feeble excuses. For me, it meant being able to spend the whole day under the sun umbrella, sapphire blue skies with cotton candy clouds, and frying my phone if I accidentally left it in the sun too long.
You’ve been driving around for hours, your whole body aching from the constant jarring and bumping. The heat is intense, the sun beats down on you unmercifully, easily finding its way through the open vehicle. Every bush, every tree, every leaf is starting to look the same, a blur. Suddenly, something catches your eye, something is out of place. What have you spotted?
I realised that this was probably the last birthday I’ll spend at home. Home. That’s a loaded word, with so many meanings. Having a place to call home is important to so many of us, some people spend their whole lives searching for ‘home’. Having never lived in one place for more than three years, one might argue that I have never really had a ‘home’, many houses maybe, many places passed through, always transient.
November. Its raining. The lawn is a soggy mess, the floors are stained with paw prints. One month till Christmas, thoughts turn from stocking fillers to sunshine. Its the usual dilemma; where to go for some winter sun without breaking the bank? Without enduring long haul flights, jet lag and mosquitoes? We thought long and hard about Florida, but in the end looked towards the Middle East. Oman? Still too expensive. Dubai? Overcrowded and overrun, right? Then we chanced upon a deal to Ras al-Khaimah, Dubai’s next door neighbour and fellow Emirate.
The snow had fallen hard all night. By morning all my worries on the drive over were put to rest- there was more than enough snow to ski! Strapping on ski boots, fitting those helmets, trudging down the road with that funky walk unique to winter sport (think of a drunk lizard). First up on the first lift.
Prune jumped out of the Audi’s boot. She pricked up her ears, taking in the sound of leaves rustling in the light breeze, the call of a blackbird perched in a cherry tree. Her nose twitched, distracted by the scents in the warm air. Then her face broke into a smile and her tail swept back and forth ferociously. She remembered this place! Her emotions mirrored mine- if I had a tail I’d have wagged it too. It was a beautiful July day and we were back in the Loire- our favourite place in France.