Monday, August 13, 2012

Italian Adventure

Day 11
Up early to catch the 5am airport shuttle for our 7am flight to Rome. All went smoothly. Had to ask about which carousel to collect from as nothing was displaying our flight number. Why do they make two flight numbers for the one flight?
After collecting our luggage we headed towards the train station and asked at a desk the best way to get to the Camping Roma, and were told their was a shuttle leaving in a few minutes, wahoo! After the ordeal yesterday I wasn't keen to navigate public transport system again. That was a great option, turns out the other people we had been on tour with in Spain who travelled to Rome before us paid more for public transport than we did for the shuttle.  The only down was we arrived 2.5hours before we could check in. We went to put our luggage into storage and planned to waste that time by the pool and using Wifi, but then we saw Katie, one of the girls from our last tour who is on our next one too. She was heading out to explore Rome, and gave us the key to her chalet... she had 3 spare beds in there due to a booking error! We were thankful to have a nap, we were so tired!!
After our power nap we spent the rest of the day chatting with Katie and enjoyed dinner at the campground restaurant.

Day 12
7:45am start on the bus. A full bus, not a seat left. A bit of a shock after our last half full bus of luxury in Spain.
We were off to Pompeii were we had a fantastic two hour guided walk about, with a great guide named Antonio. A truly incredible place to visit. So much to see, we only saw a small portion (obviously, there's a whole town to explore!) It was pretty hot with not a lot of shade.
Then off to Sorrento with a few stops on the way in little towns.
We started our evening there with a limoncello tasting... very tasty limoncello in "Fat Tony's" store. We then had a set menu dinner, one of the included meals. It was tasty but not amazing. Followed that up with a nice cocktail (a Hello Kitty, sadly presentation was somewhat lacking) and beer at a bar before walking back home to the camping ground.

Rediscovered room in a Pompeii house
That's us!
Cast made from a cavity left by a man, as he would have been when Vesuvius erupted
More of Pompeii, that's Mt Vesuvius in the background, the peak on the right. The higher peak on the left wasn't there when Vesuvius blew

Tony, the Limoncello guy, explaining how to make limoncello. This was interspersed with him singing along to Frank Sinatra
Day 13
8am on a boat to Capri, I really didn't feel flash by the end of that, despite taking antinausea. Some others didn't look great either, but the strait was a bit choppy. Once on the land I felt a bit better.
We took a combo of bus and convertible taxi to go to Capri town then Anacapri. We bought a few things for a picnic and then had it for lunch at the top of the chairlift. It was definitely worth the €10 for the view. It was awesome, from the top there was a true panoramic view all around the island.
Later we went back into Sorrento town for dinner where I had a delicious risotto. The restaurant was really cute, very italian. We stopped on the way home to try gelati from the place our tour leader recommended. Deciding on a flavour was really tricky, there were over 60 to choose from! I picked ricotta & pear and also panna cotta. If I ever see ricotta and pear again I will definitely get it, that was the most delicious flavour I've ever had.

A house on Capri Island. Simon wants it.
On the chairlift up to the top of Capri
This is Sorrento, it's so pretty!
Day 14
Up at 6am to get on the road early and beat the traffic, a very good idea. The drive today was stunning... a scenic drive down the very narrow Amalfi Coast road. It's hard to imagine the beauty of this coast without seeing it. The mountainous cliffs on one side, with towns built into the rock, vineyards climbing over sloping levels and sea as far as you can see on the other. We stopped off in a few little towns and had a few hours in Amalfi town itself where we relaxed and wandered about. It's a beautiful little place.
It was really quite a long day of driving all up, but a good one motion sickness wise... I was fine!
That was the last day of the the Italian tour and we were back in Camping Roma for a night, finally got some washing done before we went to sleep.

Amalfi Coast
Hanging outside a shop in Amalfi town
More beautiful Amalfi coastline
Vineyards built up the cliffs on the Amalfi coast

Day 15
Had a beautiful sleep in, in our tiny bungalow, it was lovely to not need to be up until 9:30. We then checked out of the camping ground and headed to our airport hotel. We consulted the info desk at the camp ground first, because we didn't want a repeat of Madrid's adventure. The instructions he gave were great, until we got off the train at the other end, only to find the stop he told us to get off at wasn't really the right one and the bus drivers we asked told us conflicting info of what direction to head in... but none of them went far enough anyway to get to the hotel.
then attempted to follow the directions to the airport hotel we had from the camp ground information desk. The train bit was easy, but took time... then we were a bit stuck, the map he had printed for us didn't actually show us the hotel, but instead a bit of the right road.... but only the bit outside the train station, not from there to the hotel. Tried catching a bus, got different stories from different drivers, and eventually spotted a taxi, which we caught. Probably would have been both quicker and cheaper to have got a taxi from the camping ground. So after 3 hours with our packs on our backs, and in the sun we were a bit stuffed and didn't have the energy to head into town and back out again. We come back to Rome later anyway.
We had a little nap, then out for a little stroll for two things. We wanted dinner and wifi. The hotel had it, but we weren't going to pay an extra €7 for internet but we found a petrol station with free wifi and a seating area nearly next door.
A relaxed pizza dinner then home to bed.

The next update will be of Croatia!

Anita & Simon   xoxo

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Iberian Adventure - Part Two

Day 5
Up at 9ish to go out on the Atlantic Ocean for a kayaking session. Stunning clear sky... and a burning sun. Got a tad bit sunburnt, actually more like lobster red, but we don't really need to go there.
Lunch at Rockefellers was very tasty, but huge. Simon enjoyed the "Chiwawa" hotdog and I had the hugest chicken salad in the world. The leftovers feed us for dinner as well.
We had a relaxing afternoon with a nap and a wander to find some fruit and Aloe Vera gel for my burn. So worth the walk to find that!
Early night for us, but the tour mates went out, really enjoyed the bars, and woke me at 4am, as they didn't think to take their keys with them.

Part of an old fortress in Lagos, as seen from the kayak

Day 6
Up pretty early from Lagos to get to Tarifa, a bit of a decent drive. We quickly dropped off our luggage at the hostel, then we were walked down to the port so we knew where we need to be for our evening trip to Morocco. We then had a little free time, enough to find a restaurant and eat. I ended up with a prawn salad... it took all that time to deshell them.
The ferry there was a little delayed, but not as bad as it was the week before, apparently it was over 1.5hours late. The ride was fairly smooth, and took about an hour.
Once in Tangier we were given a bus tour of the suburbs, and had a little camel ride each for a couple of Euros (we'll ignore that we weren't in a desert or anything fancy like that, maybe next time we ride camels we will be in a desert).
We then had a guided, rather fast, walk through the Medina, didn't get many photos as we were being rushed along with no time to stop. We then had a little experience in a Berber (traditional Moroccan) pharmacy. The pharmacist tried to sell us all sorts of lotions and potions. I bought a couple. We were then guided to a traditional restaurant for a 3 course meal, it was tasty, but not everybody seemed to enjoy it. There were also musicians playing for us while we ate.
Then we had a late ferry ride back to Tarifa, and into bed.

On the ferry to Morocco (yes that's Morocco in the background)
Morocco by night
Day 7
We left Tarifa, where we could see the the tip of Gibraltar and we headed to Grenada. We stopped off in Ronda, a cute little mountain town, with a magnificent view. It was rather hot there, with not much of a breeze. Simon went for a decent walk for a good view of the "new bridge" ( 18th century)  from the bottom of the gorge, and got some great photos. I sat and had sorbet  with Mel (another NZ girl from the tour group), I was a bit sore still from the sunburn.
After our stop there we were back on the bus, next stop: Grenada. I really quite like Grenada.
We had an orientation walk, then out for a Tapas bar crawl. We had the world's tastiest cheese platter, and several more prawns (they are everywhere!), and more Sangria.

Ronda "New bridge" from the gorge
Day 8
Up early-ish (actually a little bit of a sleep in, in comparison to some mornings) to go and explore Alhambra!! That is one amazing creation. So big, so much detail, so much  beauty, and an amazing view. Rather, a stunning, incredible view of all of Grenada. If you have never heard of Alhambra, you have a little reading to do. It's really something worth travelling to see. We had a fantastic guide who seemed genuinely passionate about everything he spoke about. He was quite the wealth of knowledge. Our tour there lasted about 2.5 hours, but if you didn't have timed entry between the different areas you could really spend a whole day and not even see everything.
After that we had a small window of time to go back to the hostel, get food and get ready for going to a Turkish bathhouse, or Hammam. It was fantastic, 3 different temperature pools, a steam room, endless mint tea, and a 15 minute massage. 15 minutes was not long enough!! It was a lovely way to relax for a bit as the last few days have been non-stop.
We were then lucky to have time up our sleeves before going to a Flamenco show. Some of the others on the tour went in earlier to get Flamenco lessons. I spent the time backing up all the photos I have taken so far.
The Flamenco show was great, it was in a cave, a little room literally carved out of the hillside. The ride there and back though was another experience altogether. I think we all thought we were going to crash and die well more than once along the way. I am surprise there wasn't any collisions and very thankful too.

Day 9
We left Grenada on the tour bus and stopped off at a little town called Consuegra to see probable site of the Don Quixote novel. A pretty little town, not much there really aside from the pretty windmills, and a Visigoth castle on the hills looking over the town. Apparently it is a scene described exactly like that in the book.
After that super windy stop we went on to Toledo, to see a Holy Toledo Cathedral, really beautiful, worth the stop even though it was so hot we could barely be bothered with the walk to and from the Cathedral. Glad we did it though. It does surprise me though that through so much of Europe they have decided that building so close to these beautiful, picture perfect churches and banks and government buildings. It is so hard to get a photo that shows even a glimpse of how beautiful they are.
Around this cathedral there were lots of tourist shops, cafes, restaurants and weaponry shops. Yes, hundreds of knives and swords. I think they think they invented the blade or something.
Then we were back on the bus again for the last time with that group, back "home" to Madrid. That night we went out for some farewell tapas, then we went then back to see our favourite Spaniard, to have another jug of Sangria and a tasty salad, more free shots of who-knows-what when we paid.

Day 10
Today we had a walk about Madrid to the gardens, then in the other directions to the Royal Palace. The Palace is beautiful, and situated to have the most amazing view. In trying to find the entrance to the Royal Cathedral we stumbled upon the crypt. It was just a small donation to enter and well worth it. Bigger than most churches I know and constructed in the style the cathedral itself would have been in, but the crypt is new.
After that was directions disaster number one. We trusted google maps to guide us. It did, we got there, but there wasn't a walkway the whole way from where we got off the bus. Actually there was only about 50m of footpath before we ventured off-road to get to the hotel. But we got there.
It was at "The Biggest Hotel in Europe" that we had  the most expensive dinner of our lives. Tasty, but I'm still very certain that it wasn't worth that much. We did however hear a bit of Bic Runga in the restaurant, made us feel at home!

Next post will be of our Italian adventure!
<3 Anita and Simon

Friday, July 13, 2012

Iberian Adventure - Part One

Day 1 & 2
We made it! Two long flights and 2 short ones, and we are in Madrid. Simon managed to sleep a little on the flights, and I managed maybe 2 hours at most... seems that I prefer lying down when I sleep. Our 6 hour stay in the Singapore airport was pretty cool. There is a beautiful little butterfly garden... so cool, er rather hot and humid, but really pretty, and some carnivorous plants.
Once we got to Madrid we jumped on the Subway and made it to our hostel... a little bit of a feat, our instructions only said that it was a 3 min walk from the station... but no clues for direction. (Turned on the data roaming for this... sorry Dad!) After a little nap, we headed  out in search of food which was an awesome little experience, very friendly service... the opposite of what we were told to expect from the Spanish. Delicious food, and even better Sangria. Free shots when we paid too, tasty bonus.

Butterfly garden

Butterfly garden at Changi Airport, Singapore

Day 3
A nice early start after a strange sleep, the room was hot, and there was continuous noise out the window, Spanish people apparently party in the streets all night.  They were just quietening down as we got up, at 6:30am!!
We jumped on the bus for a short 2 hour drive from Madrid to Cordoba and I immediately felt sick, worst motion sickness I can remember having... and I get it a lot. I had forgotten to move my anti-nausea meds from my pack to my carry on bag... not good. I tried moving up to the front of the bus, and took some anti-naus another girl gave me... worked a gem, woke up from a short nap feeling so much better.
We had a gorgeous little walk about in Cordoba, hunted for an ATM and finally found one that wanted to give us Euros. We also visited an amazing building, the Mezquita, which was originally a mosque, but the Christians deconstructed the guts of the building and built a cathedral inside of the mosque. The only building that is both a mosque and a cathedral.
Then we travelled onto Seville, a pretty city with a lot of history.  After a quick dip in the rooftop pool of the hostel we went on a guided walking tour of the central city. Really cool, a real eclectic mix of so many cultures, from a span of several periods. Thankfully it was later in the day, and was cooler because of the breeze at about 35C, apparently the group the week before were doing it in 42C heat!
Later on we ventured out (around the corner) to a tapas bar where we enjoyed Dogfish, Bull tail and pork fillet.  Then cheap drinks at a bar a few doors further down.

Cordoba cathedral pillars and arches

Bridge into Cordoba

Seville building of many different architectural styles

Cordoba cathedral ceiling

Day 4
We woke up from a good sleep, and headed out to check out the inside of the Cathedral (free entry on Sunday for mass) we were a little late... accidentally turned the wrong way, but still got in for a look around, Some parts were cordoned off, so we couldn't get close to Christopher Colombus' tomb -very impressive from the vantage point we had, but not good to get a photo, sadly.
Then back on the bus to head to Portugal. We are now in Lagos, after a little stop in a town called Silvas where there is a beautiful little castle, the last remaining in the Moorish style. The place we are staying at in Portugal is amazing, it's an apartment being rented out. We have our own room and ensuite, and the place has a pool in the back yard. There are 6 others from our tour group staying in the house too.

Seville Cathedral

Lagos - Salmon for dinner

Out on the town in Lagos... party central
More stories to come!!

<3 Anita and Simon

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Learning to be

Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 

These last few weeks have been a time of learning. Learning that there are times for different states of being. 
Learning that it is OK to take time, and just be. 
There are times to be busy, times to be still, times to be happy and times to be thankful. There are also times it's OK to have times of stress and being overwhelmed, and times for healing. Each moment is precious and to do nothing with a moment is OK, as that is a time of restoration and healing.

I now have a direction for this blog. I've been wanting for this to have cohesion, a link between each post.  It will now be about what has been, what I am being and what is going to be. I didn't want it to be aimless, and it felt that way til now. 

Monday, May 21, 2012


I know that tired is normal sometimes. Not enough sleep, working to hard, stress-filled lives. 
I know a lot of tired people. 
I am not normal tired. 
Mum says I always needed a bit more sleep than my brothers. In 2007 I had a week off placement with what at the time myself and my doctor thought was influenza. I felt really sick, so incredibly tired, and essentially a week long migraine. I didn't feel like myself the next week, but figured I wasn't contagious any more, and the doc had given me 5 days off with a med cert. So back to placement I went, plus work in the weekends. I felt so tired still, but was still functioning, I had to.
That's how it kept going until I finished my degree. That was tough. I just thought I wasn't good at studying, that I wasn't very focused. But I managed to finish. I passed that end exam. I qualified. I was plagued with headaches the whole time, panadol was a great friend.
Then I started working, doing a New Graduate programme. That was full time employment, 40 hours a week, plus study... oh yeah, and that's shift work.

That went OK for a little while. A few months. I was so tired. The headaches continued. I wasn't happy, I retreated from social life... and became a bit of a shell of myself. For those who know me, I can be a little quiet to begin with, but really I'm a very social creature. I thrive on social interaction, being around people energises me. I had my boyfriend, who then became my fiancĂ©, and he was and still is fantastic. I had some tough personal stuff to deal with then, and it took a while to get through it. I also was struggling at work, not with work itself, that I was good with, my patients and their families were easy to deal with, I was learning tonnes, but some of the people in my work environment were making it a miserable place to be. I don't know what was going on for them, but it seemed to all be directed at me, and I was already weak. I  did not have the strength in my soul to deal with that at the time too.
I sought help, I saw a counsellor for a while, it helped me get some of my thoughts straightened out, and easier to see and cope with. I also cut back on my work hours to 32 hours a week. My days off I did nothing. The occasional coffee with a friend. Some wedding planning. Mostly I stayed in bed, slept a lot, and watched a LOT of Gilmore Girls. All of it in about 3 months.

I also saw an osteopath for the headaches, a bit of help there was amazing. The low grade headaches faded.
Slowly things got easier as I had our wedding to look forward to, I tried to focus on the good days at work. Started looking for the next job. There was other things to face along the way, but I got there. At the end of the New Graduate programme I eventually found a new position on another ward. They gave me a fresh start, another chance to prove myself. I'm still on that ward, and I'm good. I'm learning all the time. I'm a good nurse. I love going to work. I am friends with my colleagues. I'm still tired, but I am managing more. 
It has taken me a long time to accept that I am not well. Turns out that influenza isn't what I had. I had glandular fever (for those overseas, that's mono). A return visit to the doctor about the tiredness lead to a blood test for IgG, showing I had had the infection.
To add to that, I have always had bowels and a bladder that misbehave. There has been specialist, changes in diet, multitudes of different medicines, and not a whole lot of improvement. Another thing glandular fever gave me, is an increased intolerance to many normal foods. Symptoms became worse, and it was worse, but I didn't realise immediately. Last year I sought out help from a digestive health specialist, and am now avoiding foods that make it all worse (there are a lot), and trying to eat what won't exacerbate the problems (thankfully there is still a lot I can eat). I have what gets classed as IBS-C. It's a broad umbrella term, that encompasses the group of symptoms that aren't able to be identified by disorders such as Coeliacs and Crohns.

I am tired, and that it is OK. I don't totally accept it. I want to be able to do everything everyone else is doing. I don't want to miss out. I don't want to spend half my time sleeping. I will get my energy back, it won't happen overnight, and I do need to take care of myself.
I am trying to listen to my body more. Relax when I need to. Lately that has meant a nap in the afternoon/early evening for the last couple of weeks. The days I skip that I get overtired and grumpy, because there are things to be done, like cooking and dishes... and it drains my energy until I feel like I can barely get up off the couch.

 I try not to whinge and complain about this too much, in fact, I don't think a lot of my friends know this is something I struggle with. Things are getting better. I think. I hope.
I want to move forward, I want children some time in the next few years. I don't want this to hold me back. I don't want this is impact on my ability to be a mum either. The future is never certain, I know that, but it's still all a bit scary, but we'll tackle that when we get there.

I'll leave you with a few pictures of what's been happening in the last few weeks.

Drive home after night shift
Nails :)
Painted nails
Tea with a friend
Breakfast out, before going to the movies
New nephew Bede
<3 Anita

Friday, May 11, 2012

Feeling Guilty

I often feel guilty. For not being who I think I should be, not doing what I think I should do.
I feel like if I don't update the blog enough, or if dinner turns out inedible, or if the things I create people don't like and don't buy  I'm letting myself down, that I'm not good enough. It's a tricky trap. I think you need to want to better yourself, but I find myself constantly telling myself that even if I try, it still won't be good enough. I know it's silly and I should cut myself a bit of slack, I mean really, what's all the fuss? So what if nobody has bought anything from my store? I had fun making the stuff! I have a great life, a loving husband, a fantastic job, an awesome family, including a brand new nephew! I need to relax and enjoy it.
I don't know who reads my blog, if anyone, I can tell that a few people do by the page views (yay, go you!!), but I don't want to give you a boring blog that is all talk and no pictures. Then I think I should take more pictures (that's a tricky one when you aren't used to snapping pictures of everything, or the people around you aren't so keen on it either). I have to remember why I started blogging, I just want to record what I do, things I like, things happening around me, and there has been some pretty big stuff. So that's what I'm going to try to do. Just record. Blab a bit. And record what is happening in my little world.
In an attempt to cut myself some slack I have been trying to cut back on the blogs I read, and unsubscribing to the ones that I don't mind not reading. There are several that I absolutely love to catch up on (the links are at the end), but the rest are great, but I need to be selective, so my brain doesn't explode. I am also trying to cut back on the other self-imposed "necessities" I've thrown on my task list.
For now, what I need to do is go to bed, but I do have more to share, let's see if I manage to before work tomorrow. 

Anita xoxoxo

The blogs I love: SillyGrrlKey to my TartAnna SacconeThe Golden Adventures of a Very Dark HorseBower Power

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Who else has played with PicMonkey? It's awesome!!

It's a brand new kid on the block. Some of the geniuses who were behind Picnik and a few others have banded together to bring us something even more awesome than Picnik. Sadly I never really used Picnik (I hadn't realised how good it was) until very recently, only to discover it was being discontinued, and some of it's features were moving across to Google+. Maybe this was Google's way of trying to get the general population over to Google+, but I don't see that happening. I also tried using the editing available through Google+'s (can you even use an apostrophe with a word that includes a symbol?) Creative Kit. I immediately hated it. It was not at all intuitive to use. It felt awkward to find, and some of the basic things I wanted to do, I just couldn't. Like save the image back to my computer. Not to say it wasn't possible, but I would have thought it should have been an easy find.
Anyway... getting back to PicMonkey, I'm sure you can already tell that I LOVE it! It's not hard. It is aesthetically wonderful. Intuitive to use. It has so many great features already, and they are adding (they added several new effects the other day, P.S. they rock!)

Here is a little show for you a few of the things you can do with PicMonkey:

Have fun playing! 
<3 Anita

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Hunger Games

Hurrah! I finished the book (and bet Simon to the end!). Now I'm really looking forward to watching the movie! Time for an outing.

I managed to do a big clean up of my wardrobe! Gave away a big bag full of clothes to my sister-in-law, the gorgeous thing. Another bag or two to be given away still. It was a whole suitcase full! That's only going through the drawers. Oh my. I had to do something, we are downsizing on space, we have had Simon's brother move in, good for our savings, good for the company... but steals a room full of space.

Also really need to start boxing/organising my crafting supplies. I'm tempted to photograph my progress and keep you updated. I am a little torn with this idea, because that would be showing off the total disarray that it is all currently in! Dear, oh dear.

<3 Anita

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Historic Home and a book

This last week was busy, but it's been good. Started off with a weekend day outing to Antonio Hall. I've been going through all my photos, and I have to say, on the whole, I'm pretty happy with them. I'm in the baby step stage of getting to know my camera. Trying to get my head around what setting will give me what look. Also now playing with PicMonkey, it's fantastic in my opinion. I started off in Photoshop for my intro to photo editing, but that was for restoration and small tweaks in a Photo Lab (pretty awesome job for a student, really).  But really, PhotoShop in all it's wonder is, well, a little overwhelming... and so is the price tag. So for a completely free, very easy to use service, PicMonkey rocks. It's from the same wonderful people who brought us Picnik, which is no longer available (as of the 19 of this month). 

Also, who's seen The Hunger Games? I haven't yet, but I will, as soon as I've read the book. I've just bought it. Paper Plus were doing a deal for March where you could get $5 off books for that month, I made the most of that, and bought one book! I don't read nearly as much as I used to.
<3 Anita