Here are the thoughts of Joanna nee Lake as she spends time in Ecuador, and beyond... Disciple, Fairtrade Freak, Psychologist in the making. Now part of the Blundell Jones clan.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

gettin back to the roots! the summer!

oo well, i've been meaning to write a little here for a little while but i'd been waiting for a couple of videos to be put up on utube by miriam -- scroll down and you'll catch me speaking norwegian in a REALLY weird accent (and making ridiculous faces too!!)

vi har vært etter Norge... and we had a fab time! Helped by the fact that we managed to get the guidebook for Norway JUST before we left, it was bit hairy when I realised the library didn't open till 10 on a monday and we had to catch our train at 10.30!!!
We camped not only 3 nights in Oslo but one very wet night in Bergen (so went home with one wet tent!). We were slightly nervous about camping, but Ekeberg campsite was fab, really easy to get to and from, amazing views over the city, and the weather apart from about an hour of rain was fab, which makes camping a WHOLE lot easier! Camping also meant we saved alot of money!!! which, we spent on food, which was just well expensive -- i guess more so coz we couldn't buy bulk or store stuff in a fridge or cook for ourselves --
We got up close and personal to The Stones, not in a literal sense but definitely in a we-could-hear-every-word-they-say-every-note-they-played-from-4-km-away!!!
It was fun exploring Oslo, checking out the Viking Boat huset (house) by going over on a ferry - those boats are impressive, they're huge!!!! Going round the Cultural Heritage museum, we stumbled across the most amazing art 'installation' (not sure if that's the right word but it makes sense to me) in the middle of an exhibition about the Congo. It just reminded me of why I'm so passionate about social injustice.
This Congolese lady, Kate Naluyele, who is studying at Oslo Uni, created this piece called Defeatism. There were two parts: on the wall, a giant sheet covered in different tib-bits of handwritten info about trade, the mining of Coltan from Congo (used in all electronic equipment) and how it relates to poverty and war; on a table, loads of broken bottles, with things like 'greed', 'materialism', 'hate', written on shards of the glass - as Kate puts "sound bites of what has been constantly sustaining the moral injustices of the world".
There was one simple flow diagram that got me:
How I wish my batteries hadn't decided to die at that point so i could show you the whole thing but alas they did, so you'll have to put up with my rather vague explaination --- i hope you get the picture!
I felt really fired up to change the world again after reading all she'd written, especially as you look at the flow chart and see that it starts with us, with the choices we make!
loving art
The other thing that we really loved out Oslo, and it was something we almost missed, cept for the fact we decided to take one of the trams to the end of it's line, and we noticed on the map Vigelandsparken. If anyone ever goes to Oslo, this place is a must - he was an amazing sculpter, who captured human moments and emotions so beautifully in stone and bronze. There's a bridge through the middle of the park that is just lined with these figures, each one telling a different story, showing a different relationship: a father fiercely defending the baby in his arms, an angry child, an old man in deep conversation with his small grandson, a man and woman in an emotional embrace of deepest comfort! It was almost magical to look at them, I guess the warm sunshine helped!!
training it to stavanger
So on from Oslo we took an 8 hour train to Stavanger and Miriam's house - travelling through the fjords was amazing, through the train went super fast, tilting to go round corners and I ended up feeling somewhat nauseous! The funniest thing about the train was that when we arrived at Kristiansand, the train conductor comes along and starts to turn all the chairs round -- he literally flicks a switch (break I guess), swivles the set of 2 seats round to click into place facing the opposite direction! Everyone (almost everyone) seemed totally unprepared and in a total state of confusion as they tried to find the books and knitting they'd put in the pocket of the seat in front! I luckily had the presence of mind to quickly take all our stuff out before the man came so no embarrassing moments of trying to find stuff using my minimal norwegian!
Norge fjord
Arriving in Stavanger, we pretty quickly set off on a ferry to Tau to Miriam's family 'cabin' on the fjord nr Jopeland. We had a chilled out night there and the next day set off up Preikestolen, aka Pulpit Rock - and what a mammoth trek it was! Well it wasn't that bad really, but it was hard work climbing up (or rather over) 'stairs' of giant boulders - but when we got to the top and the fog cleared, the view over the fjord some 600m below was spectactular and well worth it!
oo we're almost at the videos!!! hee hee... the next day we took another ferry trip over to an island called Finnøy, to join in the delights of their annual tomato festival!! It was fab, there were tomatoes, tomatoes galore - for free! whole handfuls - I had to be very careful not to get carried away and tomatoes and me have a love-hate relationship!! we tried fried green tomatoes in a crumby batter with vinegar and olive oil - delicious, and of course some super creamy traditional norwegian cake!
we got abit lost trying to find our way back to the ferry port so ended up missing it by like 30 seconds, grrr!! so rather than drive off we decided to hang round the port and chill out (which included playing the most frustrating card game ever, Mao) - and get alittle silly with videos!! catch my attempts at speaking norwegian!!

oo we got back to our roots in the evening with some music!!! a friend of miriam's has held a garden festival for the last 3 years - they provide the bbq, puddings and drinks, amps etc, and you bring your meat and your instruments/voice/performance! It was awesome, some amazingly talented guys played, a bit of youth gospel choir, the local versions of Sting and Jarvis (in hair, eccentricity and build at least), a local comedian did the most amazing mime, some off the cuff blues, a whole host of other things, and this britney song! sorry its just a snippett!

it was a fab evening and both tim and i thought if we ever have a garden big enough, it;s something we'll do for sure!!!
oo interesting fact about Stavanger, Antony Gormley did an art installation with all these bronze statues of people that he placed round the city called "Broken Column" - if you ever go, keep an eye out for them! Some are in the most unexpected places!!
our last stop in norway was Bergen, the rain centre for Norway (and for Europe apparently) where we flew home.... we got there by taking a rather spectactular boat trip up the coast (cheaper than the bus actually and quicker) which was a little choppy in patches, resulting in alittle sea sickness... and true to it's reputation, it rained... there were a few drops when we arrived mid afternoon but sun and warmth too, but by the evening, the rain settled in for the night!!! It's good place to visit, even in the rain, very charming - especially the World Heritage site, all these old wooden buildings, towering over you, built in really close... in a way it would've been good to stay longer as there is a lot to be seen...

so all in all, we really enjoyed our time in Norway, it was awesome to hang out with miriam, to have a giggle, be silly (and serious), to meet some of her friends (and be made to say my little sentence like some kind of english show monkey - hee hee) and i guess generally be reminded about some of the things that make us tick... xx
p.s this blog always lies about the time, it's actually just after 5pm!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Life moves on...

oo it's been a while... that's getting to be abit of a theme with me and the internet these days...
anyways... my life... in some ways it's changed a lot (??) and it some ways it still looks exactly the same!!! I'm still being a 'housewife' but there is movement on the horizon!!
... I have a job!!!
St Anne's
well, sort of, I went for an interview with St Anne's Community Services to be a support worker in supported living for adults with mental health problems, and whilst they said I performed exceptionally at interview (which is a 'miracle'!!!), I didn't get the post I interviewed for -- God it seems has slightly different plans to what I thought... but anyway... they've offered me a casual work post - it's provisionally 2 fold but could be 3 fold with me filling in shifts in Supported Living, Community Support and Hostel Support (I have to have a wee extra interview for that last bit). So it's had me excited but also 'depressed', agency work, the 'not knowing' is never fun, but I know it will be a slow start but I reckon once they get to know me I should get regular work which would be great for our bank account but more importantly in terms of experience and development for me!

I've also been REALLY blessed by contact I've fallen into with a clinical psychologist, I sent out some work experience letters back in, gosh when was it?, early June??, and at the beginning of July this lady rings me up saying my CV/letter ended up on her desk -- the totally amazing thing is though that I didn't actually send a letter to her unit!!! Anyways to cut a long story short, I'm going to see her tomorrow to discuss my volunteering in her unit one day a week with the NHS volunteers program --- how cool is that??!!! I'm very excited, it will be fantastic experience!!!
on the 'couch'
I'd also been um-ing and ah-ing about doing a counselling course, and having mulled it over ALOT, and changed my mind ALOT, I think I've decided to just do a short course this September, something to develop me, keep those brain cells firing as I wait for St Anne's to pick up... I'm quite excited by it -- also the Clin Psyc, Ali, sowed the seed of doing a Health Psychology Masters, so might start thinking about that one for next September....
so it's all very exciting, all very changeable, but it's also very much still on the horizon as there is one big barrier in the way....
a CRB!!! I'm praying they will come in a super fast 3 weeks, like Emmie's did last month, but judging on how things were last year, I'm not so optimistic!!! My one for church took 6 months (!!!) and it took another 4 months for me to get my copy of it as it was one of the bits of post kept in that dodgy postie's cellar (it was on the news, and it turns out he's the ex husband of my old roommate's work colleague)!!! grr!!! and the other one I did last year took 3 months!!! so i shall do my very best to be patient!!!

the last thing to say is I'm very excited coz we're going to Norway on monday!!! Norge Fjorde! woo woo... it wasn't the original plan but we're camping in Oslo for a few days (coz we left booking a hotel really late and it was all booked thanks to a Stones concert), then spending the rest of our time with our friend Miriam in Stavanger, going to a tomato festival (not like the spanish one though where you throw them at each other, shame) eating lots of creamy cakes and marvelling at the delights of Norway!! woo woo!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Honeymoon adventures in Sevilla + Fes

Bueno bueno…. Ahora para hablar de mi luna de miel!!! Fuimos a Sevilla!!!! Where i brushed up on my spanish, a week gave me just enough time to get back into the swing of speaking and regaining my confidence! We stayed in Hotel Amadeus, which was amazing!! I’ve never been anywhere soo plush, it was a real treat!! And the best thing was it was all musically themed, it’s run by a Mozart aficionado, and there were 2 soundproof music rooms – if only I’d known I would have brought a few pieces and oiled my fingers with some piano playing! Oh the breakfasts in Seville, mmmm, a must for all chocolate fans!! Delicious hot choc every morning!!!

Seville was wonderful, exhausting coz we walked and walked and walked, it’s a fab place to visit, beautiful architecture and the food!!! Wow!! We love tapas!!! Our first tapas was kind of amusing, coz we didn’t really know what to order, so just guessed --- and ended up with loads including a half-baguette sandwich!!!??!!! We totally stuffed ourselves, which was good considering what came later!

Seville is absolutely covered in oranges, so pretty, it would’ve been great if only I could drink orange juice!!

The Jardines de Murillo (gardens)

Torre del Oro

Ferry trouble, not expected!

We had an interesting time trying to get over to Morocco, we’d arranged to catch a ferry from Tarifa on the Friday afternoon at 3pm to Tangier cept when we arrived the ferry was cancelled due to high winds – which is apparently normal for the area, which is second only to Hawaii (I think?) for great surfing/windsurfing or summat and is also known for a high suicide rate due to the constant battering of the town by strong winds… anyways we ended up having a very frustrating wait to get across, going to and from the ferry port every hour or so to see if a ferry would go… eventually at 7pm they told no ferry would go that night…by which point I was a mess, exhausted, stressed – bless him was very patient and loving! Praise God we eventually found somewhere to stay for the night, which was actually really nice….

The next morning, we were VERY pleased to find the ferry was going!!!

To Morocco

So at 9.30ish we set off across the ‘straits of gibraltar’, we set off late so ended up having to wait in the port of Tangier before docking for some time which ended up giving me sea-sickness as we kept ‘spinning’ round!!! It was only meant to be a half hour crossing, but we were on the boat over an hour! I soon perked up once on solid land and we found ourselves an eccentric little taxi, aquamarine with a yellow stripe!! And wound our way through our first sights of Morocco! Whenever I was in a taxi (quite often in Morocco) I did rather feel I was placing my life in the hands of a people who drive like maniacs!! I was soo amazed there were no accidents!

After a 5 hour train journey, which involved our first proper interactions with the Moroccan people (mostly great: a uni student, a beber family with the most adorable little boy, a couple; one not – a young fella made us feel very uncomfortable touting us for business) with some English, a LITTLE Arabic and some extremely dodgy and barely remembered GCSE French (when everything in my head wanted to say it in Spanish!!!), we arrived in Fes, our destination… to say we felt overwhelmed I think would be an understatement, after 5 mins we finally managed to grab a taxi (we were being polite, then realised to get anywhere one really needed to be pushy and muscle in) and attempted to explain to the taxi driver where we wanted to go!!!

Dar Seffarine

We stayed in a lovingly restored riad, Dar Seffarine, when you see pictures of how it was when they bought it, you just really cannot believe it was ever so derelict! It’s like a palace, the mosaics, stacco (decorative plaster apparently), intricately painted wooden doors. Our hosts were Alla, an Iraqi archictect and his Norwegian wife, Kate, who are really just opening their home for you to stay in. And they looked after us when we got food poisoning later on in the week (not nice, at all, took me a couple of weeks to get back to normal – in a strange way, it was good we were both ill!). The riad is situated in the old medina, which is the old city, a crazy, intense place where some 350-400,000 live! Narrow streets, buildings towering up above in a precarious medival type way… even if it’s hot in the sun, wandering those streets you can get pretty chilly!! Morocco is an amazing place, the people are friendly, but you do have to be quite firm sometimes with pesterers…

View from the Roof - Sneaky peek of our second room


We found this fantastic little place to eat on our first night near Bab Boujloud, literally a little square room about 1 metre square, with a dislay cabinet, stove and chair, and 2 tables outside, our patron was such a shrewd businessman. We were the first to sit down, and our host hurriedly sorted out what we wanted, sending off a friend to get the mint tea from a man down the road, to the man next door for the chicken, to another friend for our pudding – the nature of Moroccan business is very much ‘lets work together’. A little bit later we were joined by 3 back packers and we had a great time sharing stories and things, then a 30-something Italian couple took a table, and our patron motioned to us not to say anything to them – we later discovered why – we saw that he actually had 2 menus, one for 30dh, the other for 70dh. Each time a guest arrived he sussed out what they’d be likely to pay! We really should’ve gone back there a few nights later instead of what we thought was a slightly more ‘upmarket’ place with a large building, which gave us food poisoning!!! But anyways our first Moroccan meal was delicious, I told the man in poorly pronunicated Arabic ‘bnin’ which obviously delighted him as he beamed and shook our hands!!

Fountain Mosiac

So apart from the upset tummies which did kinda put a spanner in the works (knocked out for 2 days), we really enjoyed Morocco… it’s an intense place, but well worth a visit… I shan’t say anymore or I’ll bore you to death!!!

Bab Boujloud - Fes Tanneries

The only thing left to say is the story of ‘the disappearing plane’ which although long I will endeavour to keep short… We were due to fly out from Fes airport at 10.15am on a Ryanair plane….at 9.30ish we heard a plane fly overhead but nothing appeared. It was a little foggy on the runway, but we thought nothing of it. The arrival of the plane came and went as did our departure time with not so much as a tanoy announcement of it’s delay. Somebody starts asking questions and we’re told that our plane has gone to Rabat, that it’s dropping it’s passengers there and is not coming back….there will be no further Ryanair flights till Thursday. WHAT??!! You CANNOT be serious, we all say. There is no official ryanair personnel to tell us what is going on so we just have to sit tight and try not panic (after being so ill, Tim and I were just so eager to get home, I would go so far as to say I was desperate and was contemplating the long train journey back to Tangier and ferry to Spain to catch a plane, any plane home!!).

Next we hear that the passengers are refusing to alight in Rabat, and we are urged to get friends and family to ring ryanair/newspapers etc with our plight. Apparently people who rang Ryanair in England with our flight details were told there was no problem!!! Hmmm!!! Anyways about 1pmish we hear that the Moroccan officials are refusing the passengers entry, the plane will have to return to Fes! Yippeee!!! The day is saved!!! What a relief, especially for one poor family whose baby had to be back for some kind of operation! But the plane doesn’t come back straight away, oh no, the stubbornness of ryanair continues, their complete refusal to admit a mistake! Hey ho… our plane FINALLY arrives at 2.15, to get whoops and cheers from the passengers to be…and we are in the air at 3.15!! we should’ve been half way back to Sheffield on a train by now! But the difficulties don’t end, not only had the airport café run out of food and water thanks to our delay, the airplane was severly low on stocks too….everyone was starving but half way down the plane the sandwiches run out!! Oh dear…. But eventually we get to England, and a very kind train ticket man lets us on the train, sympathising with our situation with the comment ‘No one should have to stay in Luton’! Phew!!

We were sooo glad to get home and to be greeted by Ceri (and Joe), who drove us home and had blessed us with stocking up our cupboards and fridge with delights!!!

Phewff….. well done for getting to the end! Hope that all made sense! As you can see it was an eventful yet enjoyable honeymoon! Hope you like the piccy’s!! xx

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

At last, some news!! The big day!!

After such a long blogger absence, rather than waffling on about all the stuff that's happened since last august (!!!!), I'll just dive straight in to the most exciting stuff!

The biggest news of recent months is I got married! On the 10th Feb at 1.30pm at St Thomas' Church Philadelphia, Sheffield, I became Mrs Blundell Jones....

First is the snow!!! this was how Sheffield was the night before our wedding!!! absolutely crazy! I must admit I was panicking slightly though everything turned out all right in the end. At one point it looked like I was 3 bridesmaids down as they couldn't get to where we were getting ready, and Tim's parents were stranded in their village! The snow had closed the Grindleford roads but luckily (!!!) they live very close to the train station so could hop on a train! Good job Tim had decided to stay with one of his best men rather than his parents!!! Or it could've been serious!!

Almost ready!

And my gorgeous bridesmaids prepared for the weather! Why oh why did we chose february to get married?! hee hee

Setting off to the church!!! All very exciting!!! We managed to arrive early. I had wanted to be traditionally late but alas it seemed we were too organised!! or we needn't have rushed so much to get ready! Mind you we did start at 7.30am!!!!

Mr and Mrs Blundell Jones leaving the church!!! very happy!

It was a fab ceremony, thanks to loads of wonderful friends and family helped out in sooo many ways and made it extra special. The best bits of the ceremony, other than the getting married bit were my old gospel choir singing 'Lovely Day' and singing a spanish song by Danilo Montero 'Cantare de tu amor', keeping it real with gospel and latin american -ness!!! It was soo wonderful to have soo many people sharing in our big day, so many friends and family from all over the shop! We loved every minute of it, though I was just alittle sad I didn't get to spend quality time with people, barely a hug and a hello with most! Any ho, that's to be expected!

Cutting of the cake!!! and the queen of goofy faces strikes again!!!

The reception was fun too (with an Ecuadorian themed menu!!! oh yes!), unfortunately my brothers jazz trio couldn't play coz the guitarist got stuck at the watford gap with his car unable to go over 40miles an hour! And apparently more gutting was my mum had prepared a song to sing with them!! So that dream wasn't realised, but i think we did pretty well at realizing our dream of making everything as ethical as possible from the wedding cake (my mum made a superbly delicious fruit cake, and a Chichester organic coffee shop did the carrot cake and chocolate cake), to the dresses (organic silk -very little sweatshop labour as they were made by us! me, mum, charlotte, emmie and even tim!), to the invites (fairtrade recycled handmade paper), the order of ceremonies (fsc paper/card) and the jewellry (big woo woo to people tree and achkiy for fab designs!) etc.... oo and my other big dream, was to make my wedding dress, which i did, with a little (!!) help from my mum when i got too stressed and behind to do it all!

And a little bit of salsa!!!

We'd worked quite hard getting a routine together, shame i couldn't have practised it in my dress, coz i spent most of the time looking and my feet, worrying that i was going to trip over my dress!!! But everyone seemed pretty impressed!! Dancing salsa has been something I've 'always' wanted to do at my wedding, another dream come true!!!

Last but not least we come to the two families now united!

I shall endeavour to put up a few honeymoon photos soon and update on life as it is now!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Big news!!!!

aahhh!!!! here is a VERY cheesy picture of me and Tim moments after he proposed last thursday! wish we'd managed to take a better picture (i look like i've got well short hair when in actual fact it's the longest i've ever had it!!!) but never mind! we shall be wed at the start of next year... it's my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary at the beginning of january so we're looking at the end of the month, the beginning of feb! It's very exciting, and it's great experiencing people's reactions to the news! I just pray our lives would continue to reflect Him as we prepare for life together!

the other big news is that i am finally starting The Job! The one i applied for in january, nearly didn't bother interviewing for coz they were soo ridiculously slow but got given mid-end april. I shall finally start it on the 1st of august!!! it's been a ridiculous time really, but whilst i've been waiting i've been gaining invaluable experience working as a special needs teaching assistant with an agency mainly at one school in Rotherham. It has NOT been the easiest time, and some days especially during the last 5 weeks, when i have been with the same particularly challenging group of young teenage boys, i have felt ABSOLUTELY exhausted, wanting just to curl up and cry at the end of the day (and in fact did on occasion)! It has been a priveledge and i've one week left to go, part of me will miss the boys i've been working with but another part will be relieved for that 'door' to close! I'm looking forward to this next chapter... (oo i forgot to say, my new job is as a Residential Support Worker in a respite -short breaks- home for children with learning disabilities)

for your delight and chuckles there are a few photos below from my 'clashing clothes' birthday party, i inflicted great embarrassment upon my friends by requesting they go out for a night on the town (a bar and then onto a funky music night called Lights down Low) dressed as ridiculously as possible... it was really fun and actually quite liberating, we got quite a few funny looks but felt so free and thought how boring everyone else looked!!! waa haa!!!

hope all is well in your worlds, i'll endeavour to not leave it so long between blogs!!!
oodles of love
me xxx

Thursday, May 11, 2006

being a bridesmaid for the first time!!!

So i had the priveledge of being the then Miss Liz Tyler's chief bridesmaid on saturday!! I've never been a bridesmaid in my life before, so i was very excited!!! (As a child I'd pinned my hopes on my uncle getting married to his partner but he never did!) Talking of being excited, i remember being quite over come with emotion when Liz asked me when she rang me a little while after i got back on Bristish soil!
The first photo shows Pete Brown (the best man), Liz and Matt Wisbey and me as we signed the register! oo i'm an official witness to their marriage!!!

This next photo is them outside the church, covered in the traditional confetti, then just below is Tim and I at the evening reception.
It was such a lovely day, and it all went well, the weather even held out for most of it! Liz looked gorgeous, radiant in her beauty and i feel i did a very successful job in keeping her calm and collected, and nothing went wrong, so well done me!!! But i really couldn't believe how utterly exhausted i felt on sunday, i was like a zombie for most of the day!

Not much in the way of other news, life in the Shire has it's ups and downs, as does 'work life' as i STILL await my CRB to start my 'proper' job... i am trying to be content and trust but every so often doubt and worry poke me. When i have it, i am really enjoying the special needs teaching assistant work, but there's really not much of it! oo starting to feel waffling coming along, so i shall make a quick exit so as not to bore you!
take care one and all!
love me xxx

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

oo doesn't time fly!!!

so what have i been up to this last little while? good question... in terms of job stuff, it's not been at all fun! i've applied for lots of jobs but have just not been successful - i'm clinging to the truth He has plans to prosper me! But actually there is sunshine on the horizon -- after Easter i'm hopefully going to be starting as a special needs supply teaching assistant (rather long-winded job title!) for a Sheffield education agengy. In alot of senses it really ISNT what i want to be doing but i've come to the conclusion it'll be good experience and will give me some much needed cash so it can't be all bad!

at end of february tim and i went down to London for the annual SPEAK gathering which always involves a day of action round parliament...
SPEAK article

This is us on parliament square , getting ready to do some symbolic actions! In the afternoon we attempted to meet with our MPs, but mine was nowhere to be found! grr!!! it was a good day though, and it was really good to do something practical!

Oo this next picture was taken at the beginning of march - would you believe how long that icicle is?!!!!! crazy... we went for a walk for a friend's birthday and it was absolutely freezing, and the top of the hill was COMPLETELY caked in snow, REALLY deep in places, which was quite amusing as suddenly you'd lose a foot in height and the snow caved in underneath your feet!! hee hee. the snow this year i do feel has been completely ridiculous , there was even a few minutes of it yesterday though it didn't settle...
The next two pictures show Tim before and after his 'Kut or Keep' to raise funds for HopeHIV, such a worthy cause to make such drastic action for! Originally there had been a third option of dreds but i veto-ed that! So this is how my fella looks now, well actually the hair has grown quite a bit since then as 'The Kut' happened almost 3 weeks ago!
right well, it's dinner time, my stomach;s feeling empty, so i should think about doing some cooking!!! chao!