Liebster Award


So  a week or two back, I’m not so great of keeping track of time these days (must be the old age kicking in). Niina, over at Northern Chapters, was wonderfully kind enough to nominate me for the Liebster Award (sorry it took me a bit longer to respond than planned).

I know that some people like these awards and some don’t but as I’m far from the point of Award saturation, I feel pretty darn chuffed at the idea that someone likes my blog enough to want to recognise that. Plus, most of the new blogs I discover are through recommendations/links from other blogs so I think it’s a good way to broaden the old blogging horizons.

Also Niina came up with some really cool questions that I’d like to answer. I do so love a quiz, particularly those buzzfeed type know-thyself kind where they try to guess what kind of Disney Princess you are (would love to think of myself as a Mulan but I’m clearly more of a Belle, bit of a geek, do love a good book and have a tendency to take pity on sad lonely creatures; which is why I feel no love for ants, they have way too many chums for me to feel bad for them). I digress anywhere here goes:

Anyway here are dem rules:

  • Once you are nominated, make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you.
  • Include the Liebster Award sticker in the post too.
  • Nominate some other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts. You can also nominate the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the ten questions asked to you by the person who nominated you
  • Make ten questions of your own for your nominees.
  • Lastly, COPY these rules in the post.

1. How many books have you read so far this year?

I can actually answer this one to the letter, whilst I am not cool enough for a Goodreads style online recording of my literary adventures, I am gloriously old-fashioned and delight in keeping a proper, would-burn-in-a-fire-paper-kind of book journal. This is primarily so I can recall what I’ve read, memory, goldfish, what? It’s also so I can smugly flick through and count up how many books I’ve read. Wow, what a long-winded way of answering: 20.

2. What’s your favorite holiday?

Has to be Christmas. I’ve been lucky enough the past few years to work places where pretty much the entire operation shuts down between Christmas Eve and the New Year and I really love having so much time off at a time when other people also take lots of time off so you don’t have that mad rush you get with holiday taken during the rest of the year, where you work your pants off before you go on holidays and then you work little buns off (pants already lost in pre-holiday work) when you come back catching up on everything. Last Christmas was also the most relaxed I’ve been in a long time, as the fella and I stayed in Geneva had a couple of days with chums and then the rest of the time doing diddly-squat, without feeling remotely guilty. Wouldn’t want to do that every year but was pretty nice this.

3. If you could only recommend one book, what would it be?

This is a tough question, I have books I adore but am quite reluctant to recommend to others, because if they don’t like them I’ll take it really personally so I tend to only recommend things I quite like, but won’t be devastated if not everyone feels the same way. So I’ll cheat and just answer with the last book I recommended to someone, which was ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ by Moshin Hamid. I liked how the book was written as a one-sided conversation with a shadowy stranger, the throw away comments that leave you wondering what’s really going on and just the really interesting approach of how a Pakistani in America fell out of love with the country he had longed to be a part of. I won’t say any more but it’s well worth a read and if you find the narrative style annoying at first (I did) keep going, it’ll completely draw you in eventually.

4. Congratulations, you just won the jackpot in a lottery! First thing you do?

Book a holiday somewhere beautiful by a beach and enjoy looking out at the sea whiling away my time as I calculate, to the digit, exactly how to spend the rest of it!

5. Would you rather go 200 years into the past or into the future and why?

Well the future scares me and I think going into the future and finding out how the world and your destiny ends up is probably going to be pretty unhealthy. If you go back in time, you can really connect with history and look super clued up, with loads of smart ideas you could pass of as you’re own. Having said all that, I’d go into the future, at a run, so as not to really think about it, the danger factor of the unknown would be too exciting to miss.

6. If you could choose one person (alive or dead), who would you want to meet?

I want to cheat again. If someone dead, I’d pick Siegfried Sassoon (First World War poet, novelist and king of the pointless rebellions), he undertook a protest against the war, which resulted in his being sent away to a mental hospital and taken about as seriously as the ribbon of the medal he tried to throw in the river and sadly just bobbed about on the surface. I like the standing-up-for-what’s-right-even-if-you-get-dismissed-as-a-nutter attitude and I’m currently reading a great biography about him. If someone alive, I’d pick Simon Pegg, have been a fan since Spaced and love the cornetto trilogy movies. I just think he’d be a great person to have a pint with.

7. When was the last time you were excited about something?

I get excited pretty easily about a lot of things, but most recent was riding my new (second-hand) bike to work last Wednesday. My old bike’s saddle couldn’t be adjusted and was far too low so riding had ceased to become pleasurable and was taking it’s toll on my knees. Being able to whizz down that hill on the way to work again, and manage to get back up without too much trouble on the way home, was awesome!

8. Describe yourself in three words!

Normally I’d be lost but did a whole blog post on this recently. I aspirationally went for ‘Counselor, Polymath and Humanist’, you can check out why I came up with those here.

9. At what time of day are you usually most creative?

Regrettably between the hours of 10pm and 2am. This is not conducive to a 9-6 Monday-Friday job. I really wish I was a morning person.

10. What’s your next blogging related goal?

To plan more. My posts are usually a bit slapdash, inspired by an occurrence of the day before in order to meet my self-imposed, if loosely interpreted deadlines. Would be great if I could produce a little stockpile of pieces I could wheel out for rainy days.


Blogs I nominate are all ones I’ve discovered relatively recently, don’t think I’ve nominated before, and really enjoy for one reason or another so I’d recommend you check out:

  • Would you rather be a zombie or vampire?
  • Do you prefer cats or dogs and if you pick dogs do you think that’s because you just don’t really get cats?
  • Why did you decide to write a blog?
  • Which Disney Princess would you be?
  • How early in the day would you a drink a mojito/screwdriver/other cocktail of your choice?
  • If you were helping to tidy out a colleague’s desk and you spotted a winning lottery ticket they had clearly forgotten about would you tell them or keep it and pretend it was yours?
  • Would you rather go to jail for a crime you didn’t commit or have someone else go to jail for a crime you committed but they were blamed for?
  • If you could go any place in the world right now, where would you go?
  • Who is your favourite author?
  • If you could change history, would you do it and what would you change?

Well that’s a really long blog post (so many words…) so thanks to everyone who managed to read the end of it!


The Daydreamer Award

I have been nominated for the Daydreamer award by the lovely Edwina of EdwinasEpisodes. This is an award for blogs that are inspiring, creative or funny.
Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Complete the challenge they set you.
3. Select a blog or blogs that you want to give the award to.
4. Tell them about it and set them a challenge.
(Please include the rules in your post).


1. Thanks Edwina for nominating me, I’ve really enjoyed reading and engaging with your blog and witty episodes on the world around us.

I’m really really pleased you nominated me for this. As a blogger it’s nice to know that anyone out there is reading what I’m writing and even better that someone (particularly someone whose writing I enjoy so much) actually likes the words I’m committing to screen. Being nominated as a blog you find inspiring means a lot to me.

This award is a bit like a chain letter of the blogging world but as the aim is to recognise good blogs and spread the love of other good blogs, rather than enticing people into financially-dodgy pyramid schemes I don’t see anything not to like about this.


2. The challenge I was given was to describe my dream destination.

I spent several months in Cambodia in 2013 and loved everything about the people and their beautiful country, even if there are deep-rooted human rights and political issues that led me there in the first place and despite my few months of activism are still ongoing (surprising I know, that I couldn’t change a country’s fate in just a handful of weeks!). Nonetheless I would endorse Cambodia as a place to visit with all my heart and find it hard to imagine a better holiday destination than that. But as I’ve already been there it’s not currently in my dream destination list of contention

Not Japan but CambodiaI love Cambodia, and have a fondness for Thailand, so am firmly convinced that I love Southeast Asia. Although I’ve only discovered a small part of it to date I hope to get round to exploring the rest of it someday.

So, still hung up on that part of the world, but unsure how to pick my next top choice from the enticing options available in that region, I’ll go a little less South and a little more East and pick Japan as my dream destination for now. My fascination with Japan has been growing through an onslaught of arts and literature pushing me in that direction.

Whilst in Cambodia I finally got around to reading my first Haruki Murakami book, “Kafka on the shore”, which seemed so magical and wonderful I knew that I’d discovered a new favourite author from this book alone. Since then I have been desperately trying to resist the temptation to read up everything he’s ever written immediately. It’s nicer to know there are still a lot of his works out there yet to be savoured than to panic that I’ve almost exhausted his library.

On the plane back from Cambodia I watched a great Japanese film by Kiyoshi Kurasawa called “Real”, which, more-or-less, tells the tale of a young man trying to connect with his comatose girlfriend through meeting her in a dream reality. If you get a chance to see it I’d definitely recommend it, unless you don’t like science fiction, films that make your head want to explode or foreign films as a matter of some weird principle.

Shortly after I returned from Cambodia (“before Cambodia”, “in Cambodia” and “post Cambodia” is apparently my new concept of time) I read “The Garden of Evening Mists” by Tan Twan Eng and although set in Malaysia a large part of the story focuses on a Japanese gardener and the gardens he creates.

Anyway, these creative types have stirred up a dormant longing to go to Japan, which has yet to be satiated. You may note that I am quite impressionable and think it odd that it’s words on a page or shots from a film rather than anything more substantial that draws me to Japan, but hey-ho. The idea of Japan as seen through these worlds is enough to instil a huge passion for me to go there.

The country is also appealing for being a land of contrasts: it has huge modern cities, an astonishingly rich history, beautiful beaches, temples with mountain gardens and the magic of cherry blossom. Japan may be nothing like I imagine it to be but I want to go and find out.

In an ideal world it’d be my honeymoon destination of choice for when me and the bearded one finally get hitched. However, as we haven’t currently got money for the wedding, let alone the honeymoon, that might be a trip to be taken a little further down the line, when I stop making financially irresponsible choices like fleeing to Switzerland or constantly starting one expensive course after another.

Oh and Japan also has a Cat Island, where strays outnumber the population, for that reason alone it has to be worth a visit.

Cat Island


 3. The blogs I’d like to nominate are:

Cecilia in the Rain Swedish lass stranded in Scotland

Confuzzledom Brit in Germany, although now moving to Switzerlabd

Just a Blog Rambling On Entertaining rambles to be found here

Inventing Real Life Talking to herself in a crowded room, amusing the rest of us along the way

Blunderdad Full time husband, dad and tree-trimmer

Most of these are blogs I’ve discovered fairly recently and they are a varied bunch but all really enjoyable and worth investigating. The last three I discovered through one of Opinionated Man’s Meet and Greets for bloggers that he holds on a pretty regular basis, if you haven’t already discovered his blog it’s worth checking out but be warned he has opinions and he’s not afraid to voice them.


 4. The challenge I’d like to set to you all is to describe your perfect rainy day.