#68 – Hitchhike

‘One of the more tiring aspects of hitchhiking is a need to be sociable and make conversation with whoever is driving you.
It would be considered poor form to accept a ride, hop into the passenger seat and then simply to crash out until you reached your destination
‘ – Tony Hawks

Unlike Tony Hawks, I am afraid to say that I did indeed crash out during my hitchhiking experience. Now, my hitchhiking experience may not be quite so exotic / painstakingly frustrating / dangerous (delete as appropriate) as other people’s experiences might be, but I believe that it still counts.

The reason I crashed out was the circumstance. For one, it was other backpackers who picked us up. Secondly, the backseat of the VW was a bed. Thirdly we had just walked the Tongariro Crossing, and I (more…)

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#50 – Have a bonfire on the beach

‘Insert Quote Here’ – Teo Wolter

This memory will live on in me for as a long as I will live because it was a truly special evening for me, even if it did take me 23years to get there.

The site of my first beach bonfire experience was Hot Water Beach on New Zealand’s North Island. One of the guys that I had met right at the start of my Kiwi Experience trip – Teo – and I had made our minds up quite early on that we would be spending our one evening at Hot Water Beach sat under the stars with a little bonfire, so en route to the location we picked up marshmallows to toast over the open flames.

We made our way down to the beach after sunset, following a path illuminated by (more…)

#110 – Volunteer at the Olympics/Paralympics

‘Long hours, no pay and a mandatory cheery smile…
why do people want to be London 2012 volunteers?’
Jenny Minard

Back in 2010, before I had even celebrated my 16th birthday, my Dad spoke to me one weekend about applying to be a London 2012 Games Maker. He had seen an article in the local newspaper about it and had done all the research for me – obviously he was very aware that 15yo me wouldn’t really have done anything about it – and all that was needed to be done was to fill out the application form.

Fast forward to January 2012 and I was invited to have both a first and second interview at the London 2012 HQ as part of the 100,000+ strong candidacy search that had been whittled down from an initial 200,000+.

A couple of months later the news then came through, I was one of the luck 70,000 volunteers to be selected to be involved at London 2012! (more…)

(Untitled thoughts of one who has been away for a year and counting)

Well, what a difference a year makes! A year ago today I had just landed in New Zealand and was scrambling around trying to find away to find my phone, ID, and credit card, having left them behind in the car of the people who had driven me from the airport to my hostel – it was made all the harder by the fact that I had only met these people on the flight itself!

It is strange to think that it has been 12months since I last stepped out on English soil. So much has happened since then, however it is safe to say that (more…)

(Untitled thoughts of a boy and his shadow)

All through his life, the boy had one companion who never abandoned him; his shadow. His shadow kept him company whilst he faced his ups and downs, danced with him on his good days, comforted him on his bad days. Although he was not always visible to the boy, he was always there, watching over him, day after day, week after week.

However, the boy would often take his shadow for granted. He was a silent friend to the boy, even if the boy didn’t realise. He never asked for anything and never received anything in return for his contributions to the boys life, not even a simple thank you.

See, what the boy didn’t realise is that whilst he could pick and choose other companions to spend his life with, shadows don’t have that choice. They choose their partner at the point of birth and stay with them for life. Furthermore, whilst their partner may forget various aspects of their lives, their shadow will always remember.

This boy and his shadow had gone through many journey’s together and his shadow knew that there were still many more to come. After all, the boy was young and eager to push himself, to see the world, to explore, to create, to develop… to live. And so his shadow was surprised to realise that they boy was scared. That he was feeling

(more…)

Cirque du Soleil’s KOOZA; a review

Kooza1-1.jpg

A theatrical company with a prestigious reputation, the progressive and inspiring Cirque du Soleil have been wow-ing audiences around the world since their founding in 1984. Currently, it is the largest theatrical production company in the world, delivery multiple shows at many locations simultaneously.

KOOZA itself first premiered in 2007, and has been touring ever since. Its longevity testament to the performers who are brought in and its timeless story-line that truly resonates with the audience. It follows the journey of “the Innocent”, a naive child-like character who is blissfully unaware of the world around him.

Staged in a performance space inspired by a traditional touring circus tent, the performance itself utilises clowning in combination with acrobatics to create a breathtaking piece of work that leaves you spellbound and on the edge of your seat. Each “act” typifies another stage in the Innocents journey, with comic relief provided in the form of the King of Fools and his two clown sidekicks. Meanwhile the “ringmaster” character – known as “The Trickster” – constantly enables the performance to move forward with aplomb.

Watching the cast of KOOZA perform, it is hard to describe them as anything other than athletes. They are at the peak of their physical powers, pushing themselves beyond the boundary of what could be expected. The risk involved should not be taken lightly either, with several deaths haunting the troupe over the last couple of years, although none of them in this particular touring show.

Technically, this show cannot be described as anything other than a triumph. From the carefully orchestrated scenes, to the deliberate foot positions, and the well-organised “distractions” to mask the scene changes, everything had its place and nothing could be deemed unnecessary.

Superlatives constantly roll off the tongue, and none of the praise unwarranted. In spite of their reputation, many of the work must truly be seen to believe. And whilst some may scoff at their ticket prices, I would argue that they are a bargain when compared to some other shows that honestly cannot compete with what they offer.

I’ll be honest, this isn’t a great review, but the spectacle that is KOOZA is hard to put into words. If the opportunity ever comes your way – or if another Cirque du Soliel show comes to a city near you – don’t think twice. Don’t worry about the cost. Just go,

#107 – Eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant

‘To Callum
Good luck and phone your mum.
Brum love
Glynn Purnell’

The countdown to my leaving the UK in 2016 for an unspecified amount of time was under way and, as part of my goodbyes, I was treated by my mum to a meal at the restaurant of one of my favourite Chef’s, Glynn Purnell.

The menu of choice at his Michelin star restaurant? The 9 course tasting menu.
To put it simply, it was a phenomenal dining experience.

Cornwall Street in Birmingham is the home of Purnell’s Restuarant. It is actually quite an understated building and, if you aren’t looking out for it, it is somewhere you could easily walk past without a second thought.

We were greeted immediately upon arrival, our bags and coats put to one side, and allowed to push the conversation (more…)

#106 – Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa

‘I’ve been to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s a tower, and it’s leaning.
You look at it, but nothing happens,
so then you look for someplace to get a sandwich’
 – Danny DeVito

Truth be told, Danny DeVito hits the nail on the head with this one. In fact, the accuracy can be acknowledged by the fact that the second time I ended up in Pisa I didn’t even want to bother visiting the tower, however I made my way there with my then-girlfriend so she could experience what all the fuss was about – and I mean “fuss” in the most sarcastic of ways.

Anyway, you’d have to go all the way back to 2010 and a day trip from Florence to Pisa for the first time I visited the Leaning Tower and its Duomo. Apparently either during – or perhaps after – construction, the tower began to sink due to the ground being unable (more…)

#105 – Eat Steak Tartare in France

Although popular throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the (now) modern variation of steak tartare was first served in French restaurants during the early 20th century. This version – which features finely chopped/minced raw beef, onion, capers, raw egg, ground peppers and, on occasion, Worcestershire sauce – is something that I had always wanted to try without ever really knowing why.

However, I knew that the only country I would eat this dish in was France. (more…)

#104 – Watch a show at the Minack Theatre, Cornwall

‘Cornwall’s extraordinary Minack Theatre is testimony
to one woman’s passion’
Philip Johnston

The Minack Theatre is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most beautiful performance space I have ever had the pleasure of watching theatre in. Carved into the edge of Cornwall’s beautiful coastline, this seasonal outdoor venue stands strong against the elements to deliver unique theatrical experiences to its audience.

The Minack Theatre has wowed audiences since the 1930s, with the threat of neither wind nor rain able to keep willing patrons at bay.

(more…)