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.

So in short, HAPPY APRIL FOOLS!

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.

 

TIME WARP

 

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.

 

ATTENTION FUTURE-DWELLERS! DUE TO MY NEW SCHOOL, I WILL PROBABLY NOT UPDATE MY BLOG MUCH. WHAT DO YOU MEAN I DON’T UPDATE IT ANYWAY!? SHUT UP!

 

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.

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?

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.

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 :D
  • watch TV :D

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…

Crack.

The Awful Chinese Language

Yes, after a long period. (ha, Americanese) of inactivity, the least uncreative thing I couldn’t contrive not to come up with isn’t a whine about the awful Chinese language. But I’m still going to write about it. Anyway, as you may know, I have been suffering (or studying) the Chinese language for some time now. And I have made a terrible discovery.
What is this terrible discovery? The learning curve… is a right angle. It’s terrible. Don’t get me started on the hideous writing system. It’s all made of these little radicals, with three or four per character. Sound easy? Let’s see… four radicals p/c, hundreds of radicals, hundreds of words that mean the SAME GODDAMN THING… dismal.
‘But it’s only difficult because you’re a westerner! It’s easy for people who speak related languages!’ Yes, and what “related languages” might those be? That’s the thing about Chinese. There are no similar languages. Unless you count Cantonese, 北京话,上海话 and all the other bloody dialects. Blech. Don’t defend it, it’s an atrocity.
Shī Shì shí shī shǐ

Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī.
Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.
Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.
Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.
Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì.
Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.
Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
Shì shì shì shì.
石室詩士施氏,嗜獅,誓食十獅。
氏時時適市視獅。
十時,適十獅適市。
是時,適施氏適市。
氏視是十獅,恃矢勢,使是十獅逝世。
氏拾是十獅屍,適石室。
石室濕,氏使侍拭石室。
石室拭,氏始試食是十獅。
食時,始識是十獅屍,實十石獅屍。
試釋是事。
What is this? For a start, it’s boosting my word count by about 70 words. It doesn’t count characters. More importantly, it is a poem, called Shī Shì shí shī shǐ. Google it. The point is to illustrate the need for characters and how useless Pinyin (and, to a lesser degree, spoken Chinese) is. Say it. Shi shi shi shi…
Next up: having a pop at Benny the Irish “Polyglot”. Here is the nutjob‘s site. In his final video, he’s still pronouncing “hen” like “chicken”. His accent is totally screwed up. And he’s claiming that it’s easy. Which it is, if you’ve just scratched the surface, chatted a little and bragged.
Be careful for the curve.

Happy New Year!

It’s new year! Chinese New Year, you dufus! I wouldn’t roll out a new year’s post this late. But hey, it’s not too late for me to blog about the firework display. Even though fireworks are an awful, awful subject to write about. Anyway, it starts off with me in bed. I’m not asleep, just enjoyin’ mah mancave. Wishing the bloody fireworks would pipe down.

They don’t. Instead, mum pipes up and starts yelling at me to come and look at the fireworks. Because she can see them from the balcony. So I rush out –did I mention that I’m in my undies and a t-shirt at this point?– and look. Predictably, there’s condensation on the windows and I can’t see much, but I get a glimpse.

Next, I go back to my f*cking room to (hopefully) get some f*cking peace and quiet. No such luck. I am soon called to mum’s room, where, for whatever reason, the windows are fine and I can see the fireworks. They’re pretty, mainly the classic colours of red, green and yellow but with some white and blue in there too.

Then I go back to my room and observe the fireworks from there. Good god, this was an awful topic for mum to give me. I wonder if she’s written one on the subject…

How I Crashed a Tank

Yes, I’m already rolling out a new post. Yes, it was just a near-seizure. You can guess the driving factors behind this post. So, without further fuc mucking about, let’s begin. A few days ago, mum and I went to the Harbin ice festival. It’s on the river (which is, obviously, frozen at this time of year) and is generally fun. To begin with, we did… well, zilch. Then we went off and had lunch.

Ahh, lunch. Mmm. Part one: Operation Lunch. :D First stop: rbt. This is some random and expensive cafe nobody’s ever heard of. It has cool benches, which are swings, but… the food is overpriced and unremarkable. Next: the Parkson mall’s food court. It’s exactly what it sounds like, really. But it’s cheap, the food is tasty, and it’s close by. So ends part one. And yes, I did use an entire paragraph. UMAD?

Part two: the Slide of Epic Lulz. We are back by the river, and mum is preparing to fork over 2£ for a single trip down an epic (it is revealed) slide. She forks it over. She hands over the ticket. The PLA dude (they have a big army) rips the ticket and hands it back. I go up the stairs. Incidentally, the stairs are made of ice. The entire slide is! They don’t call it the Ice Festival for nothing!

And then I’m at the top. And scared. Because I’ll be going down a large (and steep) ramp of ice in a rubber tube. I watch the first batch go down, then quickly grab a spot which looks gentle-ish. To give you a bit of perspective, at the time of writing I weighed around 32 kilograms. So, as I witnessed them shooting down, you can imagine what I felt like.

Actually, it was really fun. I shot down at breakneck speeds, only slightly worried as to whether I might flip over and break my nose. Then I had to lug it back up a ramp. A ramp made of ICE, no less. :( It had footholds, but it was still really hard. Especially when I slipped, fell over and dropped my tube, which went down the ramp until it collided with someone, nearly knocking them over.

Part three: the Mighty Tank! Yes, we finally get to the tank! You see, when we scouted out the place (before lunch), we (or rather I) spotted some form of tank over by one of the slides. And, after I finally got my frigging tube up, I headed over there with mum. We are unpleasantly surprised, as all the tanks are covered in tarp.

Thankfully, they’re not closed. The guy starts one up. I get in. Chug chug chug… aaaand I’ve crashed the tank into the side of the course (also made of ice). Blam. I’m stuck. I get out and pathetically try to push the thing off the wall. I fail miserably. But I’ve learned my lesson: tanks are really hard to drive.

BTW, how do you like the cursor?