Farewell to you all

I’m really bad at starting posts, so I’ll just break it to you: I’m discontinuing the blog. For those of you who don’t know what I’ve been up to, I’ve been settled down and going to school (yes, school) in Bali for quite some time now. As a result, I’ve had less free time and been doing less travel overall.
This has meant that I’ve been unable to post anything new for a while and, while those of you who know me are quite familiar with my long breaks from posting, this “hiatus”, as it were, is permanent. In short, no new posts. The site will be staying up; I may move back to WordPress.com because it’s free but it will stay up.
If, and this is highly unlikely, I do manage to get the time required to form a new blog post, I will do so, but don’t get your hopes up because as I said before, I have been very strained recently. It’s been a nice run and I’m very grateful to have been granted the success I have been, but I simply can’t keep it up.


After Australia

Hello! Today I am hailing from Bali, tourist hub of Indonesia. You probably know the reason I haven’t posted is because I was in Australia for new year’s. I dunno… actually, I think quite a lot of people read this. I still tend to think of it as something I do that is seen almost exclusively by my family, but…

Moving on. Remember how in Harbin we did that long house hunt? Well, here in Bali, the first order of business was to clear immigration. Two hours later and we take a taxi to Ubud via the brand-new highway erected for god knows what reason. Oh, and then we checked in.

So check-in was rather tedious. Apparently someone hadn’t checked out or something so we couldn’t stay in our room so we waited and then we ended up in another place. This new one was nicer and we stayed there for a night before moving back to the hotel. But anyway, our househunt wasn’t very impressive.

We went out, spent an hour or two checking hippy-infested vegan cafes for boards not advertising chakra repair shops (I’m joking, alright?! Take it easy) before finally going to Pizza Bagus. I can’t remember where, but we found an ad for a two-bedroom place next to a doctor’s house. After that, all we needed to do was… well, everything else.

Starting with school. There are four main options. There’s Green School, Bali International, [expunged] and, we learn, somewhere called [espunged]. Of the four, I’d say [spunged] is the best for me because it’s kind of friendly and laid-back but not as laid-back as [sponged] so I’ll get some work done.

See, the problem with me is that, like many people, I’d rather do less work than more. I can do it if I have a deadline to meet, say, if I’m working towards a test or something, but if someone asks me “okay, you’ve done your core studies, what do you want to do now?” then I will be inclined to say “nothing, hope you’re okay with that.”

Hence the desire for a conventional school framework. But anyway, it was time for a holiday. (Yes, already!) We’d been offered a free stay at two five-star hotels in exchange for some post or other and honestly, for an (almost) all-inclusive package for three nights, who wouldn’t accept?

So, with little fanfare, we checked in. We were shown around the hotel and then the spa, which has many rooms (one of which, “Blue Romance” or something, seems to contain what looks like bondage gear but apparently does something less kinky and more therapeutic).

I has a foot massage, she has a… long-winded massage. I don’t know. Anyway, after a considerably shortened foot massage (I slipped and screwed up a foot a while ago), get dressed, realise I haven’t got a room key, panic, sit outside for half an hour, go in, get a key from mum, walk to room 2237 as per her directions, realise this is wrong and storm back.

Some time later, I successfully unlock the door to room 3327.




Okay, so what next? We have a tour of [spooged], nice, then a tour of [wait, what?!] the next day, nicer, then we both fall into a storm-drain. Neither of us gets wet (fortunate, because I think there was more than just mud in that water) but mum sprains her ankle. Tragically, this means we can’t spend an hour on a bike going to a meeting at [I mean, uh, expunged] at 7 AM the next day.

And then I went to school. The end.




Anyway, don’t expect many posts from me.

Yes, I know. Stop rubbing it in, will you?!

Diving, or How I Nearly Died (AGAIN)

Diving. Diiiving. Diving is awesome. There are many, many dive sites in Dahab and I honestly can’t name many of them, but there’s one that will stick in my mind for a while: the Blue Hole. What happened was pretty simple: I went diving at the Blue Hole. I had reservations about it (people have died there), but I was bribed with Kerbal Space Program.
So yeah, there I was. Joyfully squirming into my tight bastard wetsuit, legs flailing, almost in the blissed-out state of mind that gamers (screw you spell checker, it’s a real word) get when they have a brand-new game. But not quite – demonic wetsuits are bastards like that.
So yeah. After that, I got into the back of the Hilux and we drove to the place. After a short walk (during which I do not carry my kit) everyone puts their kit on except me. I only put on my belt and boots, with the rest going on in the water. I miss out on jumping in, though. Sadface :(
So… underwater, it’s all pretty much normal. We swim along the wall, not really doing much. Then my fin comes loose and I have to fiddle with it. This distracts me from the fact I’m rocketing skywards surfacewards towards the surface at a rate of bloody knots. I notice the change in light and I adjust my buoyancy, even fining down towards my mum.
This, unfortunately, dislodges my fin. I plummet nonchalantly to my potential doom, fiddling with the offending footwear. Eventually, I notice something wrong.
Here’s the deal: J tends to hang several metres below us, staying well away from the main group. So you can imagine my surprise when I noticed she was on the same level as me. Aaand… mum is higher up. As is [EXPUNGED]. And she’s signalling for me to… deflate my BCD? What the hell?
At a depth like this, as I realise I’m sinking, why go further dooown… oh, she wants me to go UP. Well I was going to anyway – wait, why’s she got my hand? Then she inflates both ours and we’re away. The rest of the dive continues as usual, apart from my inexplicable air supply drop forcing me to breath from [EXPUNGED]’s spare reg.

Who would’ve thought I’d just had a near-death experience?


©Copyright Zachary Sutcliffe 2013-whenever I damn well choose. If you steal it my imaginary lawyer will shank you.


Note: this happened a while ago.
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Diving, or How I Nearly Died (AGAIN)

I’m Screwed

I’m screwed. Screwed.
I am alone in the house. Mum has gone diving. I have to do maths. I have done a pretty good deal of maths, but I have a lot left. I am taking a fifteen-minute break from my hour’s worth of maths. Let me explain. Mum got rather mad at me yesterday (I didn’t do enough maths and then I took out my phone at dinner).
So today, as I am alone, I am to do four hours’ worth of maths and my Chinese characters, with the penalty for failure being a computer ban, with the exception of Skype (and not with my friends), for a week. So, here’s the deal. If I complete the task, I don’t get a computer ban… but mum recognises the system as viable, storing it for later use.

If I fail… it’s a ban. Balls.

Yeah, that.

By doing this post (and thus admitting I took a break), I am… well, spinning the chamber.

There’s just one thing: how the fuck do I win?

The Great Adventure in Blightain – part III

Part three! Part three is here! Will I need to break it again? Find out in this episode!

Day two. We are in the building. We are sat down. Briefing commences. First aid class: underway. I will do some serious medicine. I will be… Bat-medic. Oh my god, why didn’t I think of that earlier?! Anyway… today is rather more outdoorsy stuff. Many people were only doing a one-day course on office first aid, so now it’s all a lot more relaxed.

The time is ripe for me to bring up bearsharks¹ again. Smiles, stares… it’s getting old. I decide to cut back. The morning is just classroom stuff. Or… is it? No, scratch that. We’re going outside to deal with someone with an injury. Blood is present. We also have a time limit.

The top score is (allegedly) 15 minutes, and we’re competing to beat that. Whether that is the actual time is debatable. I am put in charge for this and we are split into two teams. That’s one team under me, one team under mum (coincidental) and one casualty for each.

The casualty is a dude, happily unconscious (I prefer it that way) with a nice red swimming pool in his leg. Yeuch; I’m glad he’s out. I direct my team (efficiently, if I do say so myself) through the ABC’s² and Primary Survey. Then, concluding there is nothing wrong with him other than the MASSIVE BLOODY HOLE in his shin, we start to heal him.

And he’s bandaged up. One large, bloodstained dressing later and his leg is mostly covered up. Mostly. The small red crater must be left to rot; that little bastard plagued me on day one as well and I hadn’t been called out then. Anyway, we’re done in under the time limit. “We’re done!” The yell is quiet but satisfying. Moments later, the other team is done too. Close call.

Lunchtime! Back we march, happy to have beaten the top score and happy to be going back into the warm dry class. A lunch of champions – no, scotch eggs and raspberries, and it’s over. No scream today. The afternoon is… the great outdoors. Out we march and… helmets..? Why are there helmets out here? Apparently, we have to take these off.

Oh, what’s that? Without killing anyone? I see. This may require effort. So… I will be the headrest. I will hold the head, and I will take off the helmet. I use my legs as a headrest. Well done me. Then it’s time for a real challenge. We have to bandage up a guy with a huge gash, a busted arm, possible spinal injuries and… diabetes, we learn.

You see, I was given (on day one) a hint: on day two, outside, the devious buggers were going to hide some stuff in the clothing of the casualties. I wasn’t told what they’d be, where they’d be or when they’d be hidden. But it was a big help anyway. Because guess what we find? An insulin injector.

So, we start off. “Be as thorough as you can,” I say while working out the map with Nicola. We have to grid-reference our location, ditto the nearest 24-hour service (capable of calling an ambulance) and find the quickest and safest route there. I am busy doing this when I’m called over to help keep the guy steady as they move him up so he isn’t pressed against the tree.

He screams. He passes out. I hold him.

Another medic does (to my annoyance) the map. The guy is checked again. He’s bandaged up and stuff, but my legs are screaming from holding him up. We’re on a bit called the Slippery Slope of Death, by the way. Go figure. He’s slipping, my legs are dying and the ground’s sloping. Hence the name.

I ask (loudly) for someone to replace me. Help comes. It feels freaking awesome when my legs are freed. I am free! The pain is going! Anyway, he passes out shortly after the bandaging. Then, as I read the Manuel at them, Nicola goes off. The course is plotted; she’ll take three-odd hours to get to the destination. Woo.

Then there’s a lot of rummaging while I sit there as (basically) a weight for our first aid fanny-packs. Bloody hell! What are they after? And, triumphantly, one of them pulls out a wallet. And an insulin injector. Which meeeans… he’s diabetic. Oh well, we should have looked harder. Still, at least our group found it (mum’s didn’t).

Then it’s time for another exercise. This time I’m the casualty. And the injury is, quite coincidentally, a broken arm. Wowee. The treatment is a EuroSplint, of the exact same type that was used to splint me in UB. The splinting is done with only one bad joke (“Limoncello” is NOT the “freshest transformer”) and otherwise all goes smoothly.

Then the last and shortest challenge: fix a twisted ankle. Okay, so there’s this bandage, right, and it sticks to itself like clingfilm. So we use that, and she’s okay, but then she says she feels faint, right, and then she passes out. So yeah, I ask Manuel the Manual and he says that she’s got compression. Diagnosis complete, level complete. Woo.

Anyway, that’s that. Now, my feelings. Erm… private.

¹Bearsharks were a running gag during the first aid course, starting with day one when we made charts of all the things we’d have to consider. I was with the group for “Environment” and… well, let’s just say they fell under the category of “Environmental Hazards”. They’re 50% bear, 50% shark and 100% deadly. Well, one breed is. The other just flops about and drowns.
²Airways (anything in their windpipe?), Breathing (are they breathing?) and Circulation (blood flowing?) check.

Erm… Britain Part 2

Hello! Welcome to part two of my great British saga, which is expected to last all of two posts and… erm, probably under 1,000 words. Post two will feature stuff on the first aid course and possibly more on my feelings. It depends. It depends on how many words I need to cover my first aid course.

I will start off with the journey to Hope, the site of our course. Hope is a small village in the Peaks. So. We get in the car. I get out Google Maps. My phone begins pumping out instructions to get there, and… I open the Daily Mash. So it begins. Time passes. I read the best articles out loud. Then, after only a few hours, we’re there.

We check into our room. Nice little B&B. Pretty place. Food. Book. Bed. Morning. Food. Car. Course. Talking. CPR. So, erm, CPR. Cardio-pulminary resuscitation.  Hand on top of hand, ball of hand in centre of chest. Pump. The rhythm is ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ alive. I pump, and pump, and pump. Then the defibrillator. It tells you what to do, so that is easy.

Then… choking! Heimlich (now the abdominal thrust), thumping, baby-shaking… then lunch. Mmm, scotch eggs and raspberries. Delicious. I’m chowing down and having a leisurely drink when a horrible scream jolts my heart rate up over 9000. And… our instructor, Nicola Pickering, is yelling. Her hand is blood-red.

“Argh! I’ve burnt my hand!” The words aren’t even necessary. We all saw. Time to learn how to heal a burn! So – “DUH,” you say, ‘Just use cold water!” NO. You use a burn dressing. Or clingfilm and then ice or cold water. Why? Because the last thing a burn needs is more air. That’s why.

But we have a burn dressing. So we put that on. And lo and behold, her burns turn to plastic. Huzzah! Anyway, the afternoon is spent doing wounds. First I’m a medic, gingerly bandaging the 15-centimetre wound on mum’s arm. Then I’m an assistant, grabbing dressings out of a bag. Then… then I’m unconscious, my spine damaged, my mother rendering me dead.

Then I’m back in the building, having biscuits. Then tea is over, and… talk, talk, talk.

Talk, talk talk.


…Shit, I’m going to have to break this again.

Talk, talk, type.


Blah blah Nicola Pickering blah course blah High Peak First Aid blah. Blah. Google blah map blah.

How it Feels Leaving Britain… Again or my Adventures in Great Blightain

Hello, people! I think I know what you want to hear, so… I am in Dahab. I am sitting at the helm of my PC. We arrived yesterday. I am now going to tell you about how crap it feels to leave home. It feels… upsetting. I wanted more time there. But it also feels… good. As in, good to be leaving the cold.
Good to be leaving the government, the rain, the… airport. I think it felt best to leave the airport. The other places were likable, in their own way. Except the government. I won’t miss them, the oily, cynical bastards. Not that I saw them.
Anyways, it was sad. For a start, I didn’t get nearly enough time with my friends. No sir. In conclusion, I didn’t get enough time to see relatives. I might have felt a bit better, in hindsight, if mum hadn’t been plastered right up to the point at which she woke up in Luton. And then later sort of blamed me for her missing tickets.
Enough whining, though. I can’t write an entire post about how sad I felt on the plane to Geneva (and then Sharm). So, let’s start with Kinder Castle. What is Kinder Castle? A castle. A CASTLE. David rented it. David is a futures trader. David is a lord.
Seriously. We gave him champagne (well, fizzy). The others gave him such things as cufflinks, a jumper, a “Bathtub Duck Shoot” set and… a lordship. Yes, my cousin is now Lord David. He owns a square metre of land in Obscuristan, Scotland. Okay, I lied. Obscuristan isn’t in Scotland. It’s in Siberia.
I don’t know what he’ll do to his square metre. I’d be impressed if he could find it. Anyway, it’s probably got a crappy tree on it or something. But anyway. Kinder Castle. Kinder Castle is a small, well-kept castle in the Peak District. It’s owned by the National Trust or something.
It was built during the European Dark Ages, but restored during the 17-1800s to make it the perfect English “Summer” home. Well, I say Summer… you know what I mean. That time of year when the sun shines down upon the world… then quickly hides because Britain’s appeared.
Anyway. I enjoyed that. But what did I actually do? Hm, good question, quote mark-free person in my head. I… watched an awful lot of TV. I… shot things with the water pistol that came with Dave’s bath toy. And I flew a kite. That’s mostly it.
Sure, I played with Dave (they had a Wii), I messed about, I iced a mini-cake, I… built a fort. Oh yeah, that. Minor detail. I figured out that the Sky box in the lounge worked, and then I noticed the huge array of cushions and footrests that would help with my fort. And I thought it was a good idea.
Not everyone was happy with the new arrangement. But I liked it, and I thought it was cool. Even when I had to deconstruct it at checkout time. So, I spent most of the time in my fort, with the telly. I spent some time with other stuff. But… it was the fort that mattered. Really.
So, erm… yeah. Telly, fort, water, cake, kites… yeah. Then we drove off. Then we drove back, a day later, for a first aid course. CPR, metal-splint-things… OKAY, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I will continue this in another post. Stay tuned for first aid, airports and… probably kittens.

©blah blah blah lawyers blah 2013 blah lasers blah

Fatamorgana Gelato – not a sponsored post

This isn’t a sponsored post! Noooooo. It’s a gelato place! I’ll probably end up making this a short piece however I cut it, so I’ll try and keep it sweet too. First, I would like to obsessively splog about their incredible selection while totally not salivating.

Kentucky-flavoured, homemade, organic and gluten free ice cream (nearly put fat free in there – not that anywhere in the US would be… #ohsnap) may not sound so appetising, but I assure you that it has nothing to do with the state. Well…

Well, maybe the whole tobacco thing… yeah, it’s chocolate and tobacco flavour. Sound good? No? Well to hell with your opinion, I thought it tasted fine. (Note that as I graduate from tweens to teens, my posts will likely become lippier.) I’m also not suffering symptoms of nicotine withdrawal… so, extra points!

Then… um… black tea and dark chocolate, anyone? No, I don’t either. But mum… mum was all up for it. It sort of had a smoky aftertaste. Mum seemed to like it, and… I guess it was fine. Maybe even pretty good. You may ask why I chose to write a post about ice cream. Well, let me finish the bastard review first, m’kay?!

But guess what? Mum ruined her selection. With what, you ask? With… mango. Yes, mango. But apparently it would have gone fine if it was tangier. Personally, I’d have gone with another chocolate. But then I don’t recall ever having had more than two scoops of ice cream.

My selection? First, passionfruit. A delicious, tangy ice cream, with all the passion of the Christ, but none of the Melware. Also, it was delicious. And sour. And… according to the girl working there, it was a “good choice”. Though I had my doubts, seeing as I’d coupled it with…

Stracciatella. What is that? Choc chip. “Oh,” you say. But it was delicious! Tasty vanilla ice cream, lovely dark chocolate chips… though my ice cream did end up looking like one of those “Eggs Benedict” that mother is ever so fond of. Mmm…

…Christ, I’ve extended this past my usual length. Oh, and you were asking why I, in Italy of all places, chose to write about gelato. Because mum will write about Rome, Venice and Florence. Well, whenever she finishes putting each day of our Mongolia trek into 400-word Grauniad columns. Any month now…

The locations of Fatamorgana’s branches are: Via Lago di Lesina 9 (rione Trieste Salario), Via G. Bettolo 7 (rione Prati), Piazza degli Zingari 5 (rione Manti), Via Laurina 10 (Via del Corso), Via Aosta 3 (Re di Roma), and another one which isn’t on the card. 38 or 36, big sign saying “GELATO”, find it yourself.
Oh, and we’re in Italy.
© 2013 Zac Sutcliffe. All legal bullshit is strictly enforced by bazooka-toting lawyers on cybernetically enhanced, flying alpacas.

Fun at High Hazels

Meh… my brain is a sponge (cake) right now, so no witty intro today. Instead, have this invisible screen bacon as penance:



Yum! It is so TASTY! But anyway. ‘What the £µ¢κ are “High Hazels”?’, I hear you say. I’ll tell you! High Hazels is a a group of holiday cottages operated by the National Trust. They are in the Peak district near Harwick Hall. I can’t be arsed to tell you about H. Hall, so just check mum’s site.

Okay, so… first up, getting there. Erm… a small Japanese car, four people, lots of luggage. Quite a few hours’ drive. Bleh. Next, waiting. For what? My cousins, Elias and Evie, with whom TV-watching and rubbish cricket are much more fun. They arrive, bringing me great happiness and entertainment. Woohoo.

Out comes one very cheap plastic cricket set. Hooray. Elias is batting, I am bowling. Ngh… I do not throw well. My bowling is destined to improve greatly over the next few days. Then batting. Meh-diocre. Then… den-building. Nope’d. Then… the horrifying realisation that “CBBC will be back at 7:30 AM”.

Next: tomorrow comes. First on the agenda: brekkie. Then, a film. The film? Cats & Dogs. I have no desire whatsoever to see the sequel (or even the second half of the film). It was bad. Sunday? Well, Elias’ b-day. And, um, Hardwick hall. Say, remember how I said I couldn’t be arsed to tell you about it? Well, I was kidding.

So, like, H. Hall was built by Bess of Hardwick, who was very powerful on account of her excellent divorce lawyers. She made a fortune out of not-very-much and was very proud of it, so the letters E H are distributed about the place. E H as in Elizabeth of Hardwick, natch.

Zac-approval levels:

Decor: 7/10, nice dusty weapons, boxes and chairs.

Size: 8/10, convenient for a shortish trip

Preservation: 9/10, very well preserved

Architecture: 6/10, pretty good, I guess

Touristiness: 9/10, few crowds

Grounds: 6/10, big but with only one tree to climb

Overall: 7.5/10, should visit if nearby.

I am writing this in hindsight as I was bathed in relief at Elias’ b-day present’s having been a smash hit (LEGO and bubble wrap, double-whammy). Also, my draft seems to have disappeared and I am writing this from scratch. The rest is, well, uneventful. Well, maybe apart from a few times, like when I made raspberry sludge with a hand-blender and a jug. Mmm…

And on that note, I am pressing that pretty blue button that says “Publish”.

I Broke my Freaking Arm

Hello readers. Since June the 23rd, I’ve had a broken freaking arm. It’s… not actually that painful. It’s slightly sore, granted, but they screwed a big metal plate into it and now it’s fine. So… meh. It means I miss out on a lot for a while. And…
And I have to go into hospital and remove it (not easily pulled out, those things, so it’s important to have medics standing by if you rip out a bit of vital artery), and do all that, and do boring physiotherapy to get it back in shape, and… and it’s altogether pretty damn SHIZ. :c
Wot else? Well… for a while, I can’t:

  • ride rollercoasters D;
  • climb trees :c
  • do other cool stuff

However, I can still:

  • do math D;
  • write a blog post :c
  • play video games 😀
  • watch TV 😀

So it’s not all bad. However, today Archie has gone and done a bloody sleepover, so I’ve been left here with a blog post to do. Now readers, you may know me. But for those you don’t, I am horribly stricken with a severe case of chronic laziness. Because of this, I am having a hard time even writing this.

Oh… em… gee. I haven’t even told you how it happened. Well, a while back I went to Mongolia, see. And in Mongolia, I went and sat on a horse. Well, see, the horse didn’t much like being sat on. So it made a displeased noise. Then it just started moving with the rest of the horses. It was… hot. And… the rolling Mongolian landscape got stale. And it was a five-day, seven-hour-a-day slog back to Hatgal.

But, as bad luck would have it, the saddle on my horse slipped. Have you ever seen a horse bolting? Have you ever been in the saddle at that very moment? Have you ever fallen off and gone into shock, only to find your foot’s trapped in the stirrup? Arms are weaker than rocks. Horses are fast. When a rock won’t budge and neither will an arm, then…