It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Clandestine Cake Club (CCC)

Red Velvet Cake, my absolute favourite, though I've never made it.
Does anyone have a recipe for this using ingredients I can find in Germany?

For the last few months I've gone cake crazy.  I've started baking a lot and luckily I have my hubby's office available as my taste testing crew or I'd be the size of a barn.  I'm trying to limit myself to one piece of whatever I make and then send the rest in to the office, or take it around to someone's house when I go for coffee.

Last week I heard about the Clandestine Cake Club, a large (and ever growing) UK group of people who love to bake, eat, drink and talk about cake.  I thought this sounded like a fabulous thing for someone like me, who loves to bake and try new cake recipes.

The basic premise is you get a group of friends and strangers (who will become friends!) together once a month.  Everyone bakes a cake (it doesn't have to be a fancy cake, just a yummy cake), and you bring it along to share out with the other members.  Everyone gets a taste of the other cakes, you have a bit of a chat and a laugh, then you share out the remaining cake so everyone gets to take some home.  The location of the cake eating changes each month and is always a bit of a surprise.

What I'm wondering is if anyone in the Rado/Konstanz area would be interested in taking part?  There's three of us who are already willing to give it a try, so if you like cake, chat, laughing, new friends and baking - let me know.  If we get enough people, I'll try to get it organised.  If you want to take part, please put a comment on the bottom of this blog or let me know on Facebook.

Now, here's a link to a recipe that I've heard referred to several times as The Best Frosting (Icing) Recipe Ever!  When The Pioneer Woman says that, I take it seriously, that woman knows her cake.  If we get the CCC up and running, maybe someone can make this frosting and put it on top of their first cake?

Monday, February 27, 2012

St Petersburg, Russia?

We're planning a trip to St Petersburg, Russia, within the next few months, a place neither of us have been.

  • Has anyone been?
  • Does anyone have any must see destinations?
  • Restaurants/bars that we mustn't miss?
  • Any tips or tricks at all?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Emirates Air - CHEAP Flights to AUS & NZ

A friend of mine has just booked a flight home from Frankfurt to Australia on Emirates and they're offering some amazing deals right now.

The specials seem to run in three blocks:-

  • Now - 28th March 2012
  • 8th April - 21st June 2012 (cheapest tickets)
  • 8th August - 30th September 2012

Tickets ex-Germany start at a very low E967 return (Perth/Melbourne) and some even come with a Rail & Fly pass included so you can get to the airport from your town.

I've not flown Emirates before, but I hear only good things.  So, if you're an Aussie or Kiwi expat planning a visit home, or someone interested in visiting our great countries, get yourself to their webpage (

Check out the deals here - I've linked to the deals in English.

Oh, and if you don't want to do it on the cheap, you can pay a vast amount of cash and experience their new A380 First Class that comes with a shower.  Yes.  Really.  A shower.  Apparently you get it for 30 minutes and one of their dedicated "shower attendants" will prepare it for you.  I can't even imagine how fabulous this would be.

There's nothing in this for me from Emirates, but if they'd like to pony up a free flight back to Adelaide I'd be happy to put up a review on the blog!  Giggle.  A girl can dream ...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours

You've probably seen them around any big cities that have a large tourist base, those big red "Hop On Hop Off" tourist buses.  If you've been in London, you've almost certainly been approached by someone trying to sell you a ticket to go on one.  Those ticket sellers are persistent little blighters, but the best thing one ever said to me, as I was crossing Park Lane, was "Hey Gorgeous, you want a toy boy?".  Laugh?  I nearly stopped breathing I was laughing so much.  Talk about laughter brightening up your day!  And the double bonus was that he didn't even try to sell me a ticket - result.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of these types of tours.  You can usually buy a ticket for 24, 48 or 72 hours, and you can literally hop on or hop off at lots of different stops, all based close to interesting touristy things.  There are often two colours of route and you can buy the ticket for one route, or both, with the cost varying slightly.

We've done these tours in London, NYC, Barcelona, Stockholm and Athens (and I'm sure I've forgotten some other places).  My friend Meg did the Glasgow one and came out with lots of interesting facts that my Glaswegian hubby didn't even know!  I always bolt for the top deck front seats and get started with the audio tour on my little red earphones (included in the ticket price).

They're a great way to get the layout of a new town and find out some valuable information as well.  If you're anything like me, and your sense of direction is totally non-existent, these tours are absolutely fantastic.  I have a bad habit of coming out of the hotel in the morning and turning left instead of right, and the whole day goes downhill from there.  My built-in compass is 100% blonde.

They're also fabulous if you're jet lagged or feeling a bit sick, but don't have much time in a place, and don't want to spend it in bed in your hotel room.  I was feeling a bit below average in Barcelona, but we were only there for two days and I really didn't want to waste time, so I nipped down and bought a bus ticket, snagged my front seat and did the entire tour without getting off - about 3 hours.  I ended up seeing lots of Barcelona that I certainly wouldn't have seen on foot, and getting loads of info from the audio guide.  And by the time the bus pulled up back at my original stop, I was feeling much better and ready to go and explore some of the things we'd driven past.  The tours are also great if you're travelling alone and don't feel quite ready to tackle a new city by yourself.

So, get yourself aboard one of the big red (they're usually red) buses and have a good look at the place you're visiting.  Oh, and some of them offer discount books of vouchers for reduced entry to tourist attractions, and a discount on your next tour if you hang on to your ticket (which I always remember to do, but then discover that I've put it in another handbag when I need to use it - sigh).

And remember that it's colder on top of a moving bus than it is on the ground so take a coat, your hat will probably blow off, the wrapper from your Snickers bar will blow over the side (or maybe that's just me ...) and you'll need sun screen if you're going to be sitting up there for a while.

Big red bus or big red Doofus?  I'd go with Doofus.  People, wear sun screen on the bus.
I don't know who he is, but I really hope he's wearing pants ...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Helpful Google Mail

I know a few people who need this particular application.  Wouldn't it be nice if computers were this helpful?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Diving Dogs - SMILE!

The amazing Seth Casteel from Little Friends Photo has taken some hysterical underwater shots of dogs diving that were published in a Guardian newspaper article here.  Now, I don't care if you're a dog person or not, I'm pretty sure these photos will raise a smile to start your working week.

Yes, this one IS my favourite!  Just like our Archie.

Now that you're smiling, check out his website for some more amazing images.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

International Pet Transport

A snoozing Lab in a crate.  Archie's crate is much bigger than this though.

This morning I read this article ( about more pets dying on Delta flights than any other airline, and it bought back the memories of shipping Archie from Detroit MI to Frankfurt, Germany back in March 2009.

I looked back through my old newsletter archives and thought my new readers might be interested in my pet transport story below.

To give you some background, we'd had to leave Archie in MI after we left as we didn't know where we were going to end up.  After much stress and many tears, we found some amazing people, Irene & Gary, who are a guide dog puppy family.  I took Archie around to introduce him, and to see if  they would look after him for us, and I think it was love at first sight.  Archie looked right at home and Irene & Gary were the most lovely people.  I felt very comfortable leaving him there - and he ended up being there for nearly 6 months!

After we'd secured our house here in Rado, I flew back to MI to collect Archie and organise the reams of paperwork you need to do to fly a large dog internationally and give him a new home in Germany.  So, here's the story ...

25th March 2009

After lots of running around (who knew the USFDA Vet was all the way over on the other side of the state?) and worry I finally have Archie's shipping paperwork all updated and stamped with the official seal of the US Food & Dog Administration (yes, I know it's the Food and Drug Administration, but I think Dog is more fitting in this case).  Keep your fingers crossed that we're all good to ship tomorrow afternoon direct into Frankfurt.

It was great to see Archie again after 5 months of us being gone.  I was so worried that he wouldn't remember me, but he was so excited that he almost turned himself inside out when he heard/saw me.  He is in fabulous condition and now weighs 72 pounds.  Irene & Gary have taken such good care of him and he's even developed some manners, though I doubt he'll remember any of it when he gets home to Germany.

I took him over to see our old neighbours Beth, Emma, Andrew, Joey and their new pup Abby yesterday.  Archie remembered them all and had a great time playing chase with the boys and meeting his little half sister Abby.  He then celebrated the occasion by going to our old front lawn and doing a ginormous cr*p right in front of the new Indian owners of the property who obviously don't like dogs much.  I think they don't like me much now either, though I did get most of it off the grass.  Then we took him over to the neighbours on the other side, Heidi & Craig, to play with his old friend Murphy and their new rescue dog Dempsey.  They ran around like mad things for a half hour or so, and then we had to head off.  Archie was so tired he passed out in the back of the car.

I'm doing some last minute running around today and then moving from the Milicias to the Macneils tonight as Mary & Joe are helping me with Archie at the airport tomorrow.  I know I couldn't manage a dog, a crate, my bags and the hire car, so it was great that they can give me a hand (and a meal, and a bed!).

I had pre-booked Archie and myself on a KLM flight from Detroit to Frankfurt and it wasn't terribly easy to organise.  They were happy to book a dog in, but no-one could tell me how much it would cost.  The web site said one thing, the people on the phone said another thing, and when we finally got to the airport, they said another.  In the end I decided to chance my arm when they said $US500 to fly him (totally different, and cheaper, from everything else I'd been told) and said "But the people on the phone said $US300!".  After about 20 minutes on the phone with her "supervisor" they apologised for giving me the wrong price and let me pay the $US300!  It just goes to show how unorganised they are for pet transport, I was given so many different prices (from $US500 to $US1,200) and in the end just decided to make up my own - and they went with it!

Before I go any further, let me just say that Archie was crate trained from the day we brought him home as a puppy, as we knew that we'd have to fly him one day, and we tried to make it as stress-free for him as possible.  So, to Archie, going into his big crate is just like going to bed each night - easy peasy.

He was totally stress free at the airport.  The security people made me take him out of the crate so they could check the crate for anything unusual, but of course there wasn't anything except a dog, his bed and some towels (in case of toilet accidents). Archie jumped back in, I closed the gate, and they were off.  I was given one of a multi carbon sheeted form and was told that once I was on the plane, and Archie had been loaded, they would bring me another copy of the form, signed by the baggage handler.

By this stage I was getting a bit nervous about the whole thing, but I waited on tenterhooks in my seat until the flight attendant arrived with the signed form and then I relaxed a bit.

The flight was much faster than expected because of a strong tailwind, and I arrived in Frankfurt an hour earlier than planned.  I had been told that I would need to collect Archie from the Frankfurt Airport Vet, and that I must bring all of my paperwork with me to enable them to check it all, and for me to take him home.

So I waited for my luggage to come off the conveyer, with my wodge of Archie paperwork weighing down my hand baggage.  Grabbed my cases off the conveyer, stacked them on a trolley and was just about to leave the secure area when someone came out pushing a dog crate on a trolley and called out "Does anyone own this dog?". Yes, I flipping do!  No vet check, no paperwork check, no anything at all.  I put my cases on top of Archie's crate and walked him straight out through customs and out of the airport to wait for hubby to collect us.

Pretty much it was a shambles from start to finish.  I'd had to get his MI vet to put a European chip in (as well as the US one he already had), as you DEFINITELY must have a Euro chip to get him through Frankfurt Airport Vet.  We never even saw a vet at Frankfurt.  I had all of this paperwork, with official seals on it, as you DEFINITELY need them to get your dog from the airport.  No-one EVER looked at them.

The only thing that was absolutely perfect was Archie.   He didn't turn a hair, and as soon as I got him outside the airport terminal I let him out and he went straight to the toilet, wagged his tail and smiled at me, then jumped back into his crate for another snooze.

So, if you're flying your pet, I wish you luck.  It all seemed very vague and there definitely weren't any standards that people had to adhere to.  My advice to you would be to get all your paperwork done and your Euro chip put in, and then just cross your fingers.  Archie wasn't sedated either, his vet recommended against that.  Good luck!

Archie's crate is an XL version very similar to this style.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dog + Salt = Ouch!

Labradors.  Everyone loves Labradors.  Or, if they don't, they just haven't met ours yet.  We've got Archie, and he's 35kg of love wrapped in slightly smelly brown fur.  He looked just like the pup in that picture when we got him at 10 weeks old, and now he's much bigger, but still quite cute and I think he's a fabulous dog and a great companion.

Our town is going through an unusually cold snap right now.  It's been at least -10c most days for the past two weeks and we've had a bit of snow too.  Because you have to clear your footpath (or pavement) by law, people are out sweeping and shovelling after each snow fall.  Then they throw down lots of salt (or grit) to keep it thawed and help with grip.

These lovely clean footpaths, with their fabulous grippy qualities, are fabulous for people.  Not so much for dogs.  Archie keeps getting the salt stuck in between the pads of his toes and it hurts for him to walk. So he stops and sticks out the sore paw straight out to me and I have to get down and wipe his foot for him.  Sometimes just giving it a rub with your glove on does the trick, but sometimes, particularly when it's terribly cold, I have to take the glove off and wiggle around with my bare fingers.  Not fun.

This morning he managed to get salt in both back paws at once.  And that means we weren't going anywhere at all and he couldn't stand up properly.  So he sat down.  And then rolled flat on his back with his feet in the air so I could minister to his gritty paws.  All this on the side of the road, causing great amusement to the passersby.

Does anyone put shoes on their dogs?  Do the dogs accept this?  I'm not sure Archie would go along with dog shoes.  That said, it opens up a whole wide world of accessories that I'd not previously thought of ...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thank You!

Wow, I've had over 5,000 page views!  Thank you so much for taking the time to read my ramblings, I really do appreciate it.

When I started this blog, I didn't know if anyone except a few family members and friends would take time out of their busy days to see what I was up to.  But now it seems there are a few of you that keep an eye on what's going on - so THANK YOU!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Germany Needs ... (Not Suitable For Work Viewing)

Hey, I didn't say it, but apparently "Shitstorm" is the latest English word to be adopted into the German language.  Check out the article below:-

Germany needed Shitstorm, according to a group of language experts who elected the word as the top English contribution to the German language last year. 
The “Anglicism of the Year” jury defined Shitstorm as a public outcry, primarily on the internet, in which arguments mix with threats and insults to reach a critical mass, forcing a reaction.
“This new kind of protest is clearly different in kind and degree from what could be expected in the past in response to a statement or action,” said jury member Michael Mann, who runs a language website called Lexikographieblog.

The jury said in a statement on Monday: “Shitstorm fills a gap in the German vocabulary that has become apparent through changes in the culture of public debate.” 

It added that established German words, such as Kritik (criticism), were simply not descriptive enough.

Shitstorm came into widespread use last year in connection with the financial crisis in Greece and the plagiarism scandal which forced the then Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg to resign.

The second most important Anglicism this year was Stresstest, referring to the analysis of banks’ financial strength during the European financial crisis, the jury decided. 

Rounding out the top three was circeln which comes from the new social networkGoogle+ and means to add someone to a contact list. 

The Anglicism of the Year contest, organised since 2010 by University of Hamburg linguist Anatol Stefanowitsch, is designed to recognise English’s contribution to German as the language evolves. 

"The borrowing of words is a natural process that occurs in any language," the jury’s statement said.

The big winner in 2010 was leaken, which was adopted during controversies such as the sensitive leaking of government information to the Wikileaks website. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Germany : Why It Works ...

I've lifted the article below from Andrew Hammel's blog via a note from AmiExpat, an American expat living in Germany.
After living for a while in America, I was surprised to see the gulf of difference between the countries, apart from the obvious differences like language, currency etc.  People find it hard to believe me when I say that it's VERY difficult to buy things on a credit card here, unless it's a German credit card.  Germans don't like debt.  At all.  I pay for all my groceries and spending on a German bank debit card, and that is normal.  Yes, you actually have to have the money before you spend it - what a concept!  This is the German way, and hey, you can't say it hasn't worked for them.  
Have a read of the article below and see what you think:-

Every summer, Volkmar and Vera Kruger spend three weeks vacationing in the south of France or at a cool getaway in Denmark. For the other three weeks of their annual vacation, they garden or travel a few hours away to root for their favorite team in Germany's biggest soccer stadium.
The couple, in their early 50s, aren't retired or well off. They live in a small Tudor-style house in this middle-class town about 30 miles northwest of Frankfurt. He's a foreman at a glass factory; she works part time for a company that tracks inventories for retailers. Their combined income is a modest $40,000.
Yet the Krugers have a higher standard of living than many Americans who have twice that income.
Their secret: little debt, frugal habits and a government that is intensely focused on high production, low inflation and extensive social services.
That has given them job security and good medical care as well as well-maintained roads, trains and bike paths. Both of their adult children are out on their own, thanks in part to Germany's job-training system and heavy subsidies for university education.
For instance, Volkmar's out-of-pocket costs for stomach surgery and 10 days in a hospital totaled just $13 a day. College tuition for their son runs about $260 a semester.
Germany, with its manufacturing base and export prowess, is the America of yesteryear, an economic power unlike any of its European neighbors. As the world's fourth-largest economy, it has thrived on principles that the United States seems to have gradually lost.
[One of those, the article points out, is a profound aversion to debt, both on the personal and governmental level].
Germany's lower unemployment rate also reflects its orientation toward formal vocational training.
The Krugers' older child, Thorsten, was interested in books from an early age, and prepared for a university education. Their daughter, Nadine, got a vocational diploma in social work that included three years of schooling after high school, with the final year being on-the-job training at half pay.
About one-fourth of all German businesses take part in this apprenticeship program; six of 10 apprentices end up getting hired permanently, said Dirk Werner of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research.
The practice, he said, is a key reason why Germany has one of the lowest unemployment rates for 15- to 24-year-olds, about 9.7%, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. In the U.S., the comparable rate is about twice that.
Volkmar and others attribute part of the lower unemployment rate to the German work ethic. Yet Germans, on average, work far fewer hours a year than Americans, thanks partly to five or six weeks of vacation.
The article does a fine job of summarizing why the standard of living of ordinary middle-class Germans is so much higher than that of Americans, despite Americans' higher incomes: government policies consciously reduce the cost of living for the ordinary incidents of life (health care, higher education). German earn less than Americans, but also can spend less on basic necessities of life. Government policy also guarantees everyone enough time off to truly relax and recover. Further, those who don't go to college -- about 75% of the population in developed countries -- are channeled into solid middle-class jobs through internship programs run by public-private partnerships. That is, they are trained to do a job some company needs them to do, without being forced to incur thousands of dollars in debt to get that training.

Here's a link to the original LA Times article if you want to read the whole thing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Things I Like ...


I like salt.  I mean I really like salt.  And by that you might think I love salty food, which I kind of do, but really only chips.  Or that I like to cover my meals in salt.  No way!  What I mean is I like to collect salt.  Different kinds of salt.

I actually have a shelf in one of the kitchen cupboards that contains only salt.  These are some of the salts currently on my salt shelf:-

  • Iranian Blue Salt
  • Tomato Mozzarella Salt
  • Italian Black Volcano Salt
  • Camargue Salt
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Murray River Salt
  • Bretagne Grey Salt
  • Hawaiian Red Alaea Salt
  • Hawaiian Black Lava Salt
  • Heston Blumenthal's Oak Smoked Salt

You might think all salt tastes the same, but they all have subtle differences, and they're all yummy!

And I do like to use my salts, but sparingly.  My favourite foods to have with salt are schnitzel and chips.  I really like salt on fried food, but not really on anything else, provided it's been properly seasoned whilst cooking.  Oh, and you absolutely cannot have fish and chips without salt!  Mmmmm, fish and chips - that's got me craving a trip to the Blue & White on O'Connell Street, North Adelaide.  YUM!  I guess it's lucky I live so far away ...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Things I Like ...

Diana Gabaldon

I'm a huge fan of the author Diana Gabaldon and her amazing series of "Outlander" books.  I've been reading Diana's "Claire & Jamie" series of books for about 15 years and they are seriously absolutely addictive.  I'm not even sure how to describe her books, so here's what Diana herself has to say about what she does:-

The OUTLANDER series started by accident, when I decided to write a novel for practice, in order a) to learn what it took to write a novel, and b) to decide whether I really wanted to do that for real.  I did, and I did–and here we all are, still trying to figure out what the heck you call books that nobody can describe, but that fortunately most people seem to enjoy.
In essence, these novels are Big, Fat, Historical Fiction, ala James Clavell and James Michener.  However, owing to the fact that I wrote the first book for practice, didn’t intend to show it to anyone, and therefore saw no reason to limit myself, they  include…
history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honor, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, herbs, horses, gambling (with cards, dice, and lives), voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul…
you know, the usual stuff of literature.
I don’t like  to do things I’ve already done, so (in spite of the fact that this is a series, and does involve the same central characters throughout) each book is unique in structure, tone, approach, and theme. The books can be read independently of each other (I can’t be sure that people seeing the newest one on a bookstore table will realize that it’s part of a series, so the books are (with minor exceptions) engineered to stand alone)–but if you have a choice, I’d strongly recommend beginning at the beginning, with OUTLANDER, and reading through the story in order of publication  (I’d say “in chronological order,” but that isn’t necessarily a useful term when you’re playing fast and loose with time, which I not infrequently do):
  1. Outlander (also published in some countries as Cross Stitch)
  2. Dragonfly In Amber
  3. Voyager
  4. Drums of Autumn
  5. The Fiery Cross
  6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
  7. An Echo In The Bone
  8. Written In My Own Heart’s Blood: Will be released in early 2013.
    1. [The Lord John Grey novels are in fact part of the series, rather than being a spin-off--but these novels are constructed differently and are focused on Lord John as a central character.  Also, while they do include Jamie Fraser as an important character, they don't include Claire, as they (so far) take place during a stretch of time where Claire wasn't physically present.   This sub-series can be read either independently of the main series, or as part of it.  If you choose to read it as part of the series, you can read these novels after reading VOYAGER.]
      Now, there is one more addition to the Outlander series–the newly released graphic novel, THE EXILE.
      For those unfamiliar with the term, a graphic novel is–in essence–a comic book for grown-ups. {g}  That is, the story is conveyed in visual images, augmented by dialogue.   THE EXILE covers (roughly) the first third of  the material in OUTLANDER, but is not just an adaptation of the original novel.  The editor who invited me to do it (an opportunity I leapt at, as I grew up reading comic books, and in fact, used to write comic scripts for Walt Disney) asked for “a new Jamie and Claire story, but one set within the parameters of OUTLANDER.”   To which I said, “Hmmmm….”  And what I came up with is Jamie’s (and his godfather Murtagh’s) view of events–meaning that we see all the things Claire didn’t see, didn’t understand, or was kept out of.

These books are highly addictive, and like Diana says, they do stand alone, but I'd definitely start with Outlander so you get a good background to work with.  Here's a blurb describing Outlander:-

OUTLANDER (published in the UK under the title CROSS STITCH) is the first novel in the Outlander series.  Frankly, I’ve never been able to describe this book in twenty-five words or less, and neither has anyone else in the twenty years since it was first published.
I’ve seen it (and the rest of the series) sold—with evident success—as <deep breath>  Literature, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical NON-fiction (really.  Well, they are very accurate), Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Military History (no, honest), Gay and Lesbian Fiction, and…Horror.  (Really!  One of my books beat both George R.R. Martin and Stephen King for a Quill Award in 2006.)  Anyway, the only way I’ve ever found of describing this book to anyone is to begin telling them the story.  So here goes….
In 1946, after WWII, a young Englishwoman named Claire Beauchamp Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Frank.   She’s an ex-combat nurse, he’s been in the army as well, they’ve been separated for the last six years, and this is a second honeymoon; they’re getting re-acquainted with each other, thinking of starting a family.  But one day Claire goes out walking by herself, and comes across a circle of standing stones—such circles are in fact common all over northern Britain.  She walks through a cleft stone in the circle….and disappears.  Back into 1743, where the first person she meets is a gentleman in an 18th-century army officer’s uniform.  This gentleman, Jack Randall, looks just like her husband Frank—and proves to be Frank’s six-times-great-grandfather.  Unfortunately, he also proves to be a sadistic bisexual pervert, and while trying to escape from him, Claire falls into the hands of a gang of Highland Scots, who are also trying to get away from Black Jack Randall—though for other reasons.
In order to avoid being handed over to Captain Randall, Claire is obliged to marry one of the young clansmen.  So she finds herself trying to escape from Castle Leoch and her Scottish captors, trying to get back to her husband Frank, trying to avoid being recaptured by Captain Randall—and falling in love with Jamie Fraser, the young man she’s been forced to marry.   The story rolls on from there…
If this is the first you've heard of Diana or her amazing novels, you need to give the first novel a try.  That said, I'm in no way responsible for you falling in love with these stories and putting everything else aside as you sit on the sofa, unable to be torn away from the pages, whilst your house falls into disarray around you ...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Things I Like ...

My Ugg Boots

I'm an Australian.  I wear Ugg Boots.  It's the law.  Well, they aren't actually "Ugg" branded Ugg Boots because I'm not going to cough up $300 for a pair of original Uggs now that they're owned by a big American company.  My Ugg Boots look exactly like the ones above, but they're knock off ones from one of the sheepskin shops down near West Lakes in South Australia, and they sure weren't $300.

I'm an Australian.  I wear Ugg Boots.  I wear them ALL YEAR 'ROUND.  It's the law.  I put them on first thing in the morning when I'm getting organised, and I put them on again when all of my outside jobs have been done and I'm going to be inside for the rest of the day.

I'm an Australian.  I wear Ugg Boots.  I do NOT WEAR THEM AS SHOES outside the house.  It's the law.  They really aren't outdoor shoes (especially the kind above).  They're slippers or house shoes.  I know Ugg has started knocking out lots of different styles that can be worn outside, but THAT'S NOT NORMAL.  In Australia, if you get caught wearing your Uggies outside, people will look down their nose at you.

That said, I have been known to drive down and get the paper or some milk with my Uggies on, but I hope that I don't bump into anyone I know.  I blame Pamela Anderson for starting this whole trend of wearing them outside the home.

Pamela, I blame you!

Oh, and if you do decide that you want to wear your Uggies outside, DON'T get them wet, it won't end well.

And, in France, I saw Warmbat Australia Boots (a play on Wombat).  They looked just like all the other copy Ugg Boots, and hey, wouldn't you prefer an actual Wombat?

The Wombat.  Taking cute to a whole new level.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Things I Like ...

My New Widget!

If you look to the right of the blog screen you'll see my new "Who and Where" widget and I think it's pretty fascinating.

I only put it on there today, so as I'm typing this I'm actually the only person who's showing up.  Granted, that's not terribly exciting on its own, but it will be as the days go on.  I tried to reset the code so it shows up from when I put up my first blog, but I had absolutely no success.

Keep an eye on it and see who's checking out the blog.

Oh, and don't worry, it doesn't know who you actually are,
it just puts up which country you're in.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Things I Like ...

Rosé Pampelmousse (Rosé Grapefuit)

Last week in Megeve I became reacquainted with the lovely drink that is Rosé Pampelmousse.  It's a Rosé wine with pink grapefruit flavour.  It's low in alcohol, less than 5% for what I was drinking, and is so tasty and fresh.

I think it'd be perfect to drink on a summers afternoon, but it's just as good in a snowy French ski village!  If you can find it, give it a try and let me know what you think.

And I've just discovered that Hermés do an EDT of Rose Pampelmousse!  Guess what I'm getting next time I go through duty free?