I absolutely love this parody!
On our last full day in Brazil we decided to visit Păo de Açúcar, otherwise known as the Sugarloaf, so that we could watch the sun set and get some great panoramic shots over Rio.
Getting to the top of the 395m mountain requires two cable car journeys. The first ascends to Morro du Urca, which affords great views over Rio's extensive shoreline. The second makes the final ascent to the summit of Păo de Açúcar.
Unfortunately, after eight days of exquisite weather — hot, clear, sunny — the clouds decided to close in just as we were having a bite to eat on Morro du Urca. As we sat there looking up at our final destination, the mist got thicker and thicker — until we could no longer see the top of the mountain.
The view at the top wasn't much: just some tree tops and a never-ending sea of white mist. How disappointing. There was a half-hour wait until the next cable-car, so we had to fill in the time by browsing in the souvenir shop.
We had about an hour until sunset, so we partook in "happy hour" at the bar and drank caipirinhas — Brazilian cocktails made from cachaça rum, sugar and lime — before taking photographs as twilight descended and the lights of Rio twinkled into life.
Place: Ludgate Hill, London.
Date: November 10, 2012.
Camera: Sony DSC-HX20V.
I seem to have spent a good bit of time these past few months standing on Ludgate Hill (or nearby Canon Street) to watch things whizz past — the Olympic men's marathon, Paralympic marathon and the official Olympic and Paralympic parade of champions — on different occasions.
Today it was the turn of the Lord Mayor's procession, an event that is billed as the world's oldest civic parade — in fact, it is 800 years old! (More about the history here.)
Despite having lived in London for 14 years, this was the first time I bothered to drag myself out of bed early on a Saturday morning to check it out. It was full of colour and atmosphere. The bulk of the participants were from the military or the livery companies that are based in the City of London. There were even floats from foreign countries, including Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Sweden. (The Swedish float had an Abba tribute band belting out the hits, proving that sometimes stereotypes can be a great thing.)
Sadly, I wasn't particularly dressed for the weather, and after 45 minutes standing in the cold, I was desperate to find a coffee shop so I could thaw out. This meant I didn't actually get to see the Lord Mayor parade past, but here's some of the highlights of what I did see:
You can find out more about the parade, which is known as the Lord Mayor's Show, via the official website.
... and this just goes to prove it.
If you only see one thing from the London 2012 opening ceremony make it this.
Beginning tonight and running until September 10, Tower Bridge is going to be specially illuminated between the hours of 9.30pm and 5am as part of the Olympic celebrations.
Six other bridges — Golden Jubilee footbridge, Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge and London Bridge — will also be lit up.
There's more on the Mayor of London's website.
Now I just need to find an excuse to stay in town one evening after work to see this for myself!
The one-and-only time I went on a fairground ride — something involving cups that spun around and went high into the air — it took me several hours to physically recover from the shock to my delicate system. I was aged 14, or possibly 15, and I've been scarred for life: you could never pay me enough money to get on another one.
When we went on a daytrip to Clacton-on-Sea recently I was mesmirised watching this ride, which swings backwards and forwards until it has made enough momentum to swing in a 360-degree arc. Meanwhile, the seats spin — and everyone sitting in them screams!
Why do people do this to themselves?
I returned to London in mid-February a different person — happier, healthier, more relaxed (to the point of being Zen like) and motivated about life!
So much has happened since then. I've been to Ireland (twice) — for St Patrick's Day, DublinSwell and Bloomsday — and visited the UAE again (to avoid the Royal wedding). Closer to home, I spent a weekend in Deal, Kent, for a 60th birthday celebration, a week in Camber Sands, Sussex, for some R&R, a day trip to Warwick (to visit a disappointing castle) and a day trip to Manchester (to see a friend).
I regained my fitness, lost 9kg in weight and dropped a dress size. I changed my diet to include more fruit (and less junk food) and in the process, somewhere along the line, my psioratic arthritis went into remission. (There's a six-month supply of medication, bought before I went to China, still sitting in the cupboard relatively untouched.)
My book blog went from strength to strength, and I started getting invited to all kinds of book events, including Vintage Publishing's 21st birthday, Jonathan Cape's Booker Prize night party and Faber's crime fiction party. I've met a bunch of authors — and interviewed some of them too. And I had a blast being a member of KevinfromCanada's Shadow Giller Prize jury!
I've read about 100 books (no exaggeration), including James Joyce's masterpiece Ulysses (I loved it), and acquired at least 100 more — and then some.
I've seen a bunch of films at the cinema (The Guard, Senna, Animal Kingdom, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Closer to the Edge 3D) and gone to several live music gigs (Neil Finn, Christy Moore, Mary Coughlan, Peter Gabriel, Pierce Turner).
Without looking for work, work came looking for me — and in June I accepted a contract to work on a magazine where I had previously been a staff member (2002-05). The planned six-week stint as acting chief sub editor and production editor ended up lasting for four months — and I loved it. I'm now freelancing (writing, subbing, production) — and am available for hire if you need someone reliable, accurate, quick and thorough.
Finally, I've caught up with my parents on three separate occasions on three separate continents (don't say we are not a well travelled family) — and have been playing tour guide this past week, taking them to all kinds of places, including Hampton Court Palace, Abbey Road and Temple Church.
What will the next year hold? Who knows. But if it is as anywhere as eventful, interesting and fun as the past year, then I really can't wait...
[Please note, this is the positive spin version — shitty stuff has happened too, but I'm not about to share it here.]