Who Needs Aeroplanes?

What did you do this weekend?

I spent Saturday afternoon sailing sedately around Toronto’s Harbour and Islands.

IMG_4255Then yesterday, everything went a bit crazy!

If you’ve read my first book, The Great Migration, you’ll know I was a little anxious about flying to begin with. But who wouldn’t be nervous swooping across the Serengeti on the back of a vulture?! (My brother, Bisckits, that’s who!)

However, being friends with Rich and Sue, over the years I’ve grown used flying, much to Bisckits’ enjoyment. Together we’ve flown in all sorts of aircraft, from biplanes to helicopters with no doors.

10 - Just incase you'd forgotten we're in a biplane!But yesterday, Sue, Bisckits and I took it one step further. Literally!

Anyone who visits this blog semi-regularly (or who’s read Jaspa’s Waterloo) will be familiar with my friend Phyllis. Well, Ed and Shiloh are to Phyllis, what Rich and Sue are to me. Yesterday was Shiloh’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Shiloh!), and she’s developed a distressing habit of doing crazy things to celebrate. And Sue has developed an even more distressing habit of joining her!

In 2011, it was the EdgeWalk around the top of the CN Tower, 1168 feet above the streets of Toronto.

Sue, Shiloh & KimThis year it was skydiving!

We Ses weren’t allowed to do the EdgeWalk (thank goodness), but Bisckits and Phyllis jumped (pun intended) at the chance to join Sue and Shiloh this time around. You’d expect that from Bisckits, given the original prologue from The Pride of London (which I published as a ‘Deleted Scene’ here on my blog a couple of years ago).

Yet somehow, I got roped it, too.

Being ‘Big Jessies’, as Gravee put it, Rich and Ed sensibly stayed firmly on the ground. (Although, to be fair to, Rich did a parachute jump way back when, and I didn’t see Gravee volunteering to accompany us either!)

I clearly remember arriving at Skydive Burnaby, located less than half a mile from the north shore of Lake Eire in Southern Ontario. After that, everything is a bit of a blur. Sue and Shiloh signed their waivers, trained on how to exit the aircraft, what to do in flight, and how to land.

IMG_4272Then, before I had chance to regret my decision, we were on our way to the aircraft.

IMG_4279IMG_4294I had lots of time to rethink the wisdom of this latest adventure on the climb to 15,000 feet. Especially once people started leaping out into nothingness.

Gravee and Portia watching for the intrepid skydivers

Gravee and Portia watching for the intrepid skydivers

Then, all of a sudden, I was watching Shiloh, Phyllis and their entourage dropping away from the door of the plane.

IMG_0012

Shiloh and Phyllis leaving the plane

Shiloh and Phyllis leaving the plane

And then it was our turn!

It all happened so fast. We’d been moving up the bench as the people in front of us exited the aircraft, and suddenly there was no one else left.

IMG_0017One…

Two…

And we were flying!

IMG_0019Never before had I experienced such total sensory overload.

IMG_0021The roar of the air as we fell through it, the view of the Earth stretched out beneath us, and trying to remember all the things we’d learned at the safety briefings.

IMG_0027Look at the photographer!

IMG_0032Smile for the camera!

Fist Bump!

Fist Bump!

Grab his hand and he’ll spin you around….

'Chute deployed in 3...

‘Chute deployed in 3…

Then WHAM!

... Now!

… Now!

Our photographer, Nick, drops away as our parachute starts to open

Our photographer, Nick, drops away as our parachute starts to open

The feeling of rapid deceleration when the parachute was pulled is indescribable. Suddenly it was so quiet, as we floated serenely above the world.

IMG_4321Then it was Sue’s turn to steer. Pull left and you’ll go left, pull right and you’ll go right.

Turn left...

Turn left…

That's me, Sue and Bisckits on the right, with Shiloh and Phyllis on the left

That’s me, Sue and Bisckits on the right, with Shiloh and Phyllis on the left

Our plane's already beaten us down!

Our plane’s already beaten us down!

Pull in one direction really hard and you’ll spin and spin and spin!

Spinning!

Spinning!

All too soon it was clear we were nearing the end of our adventure and it was time to concentrate on the instructions for landing.

Coming in to land, with Shiloh and Phyllis in the background

Coming in to land, with Shiloh and Phyllis in the background

Bend your knees. Lift your feet. Gently sit down.

Touchdown!

Touchdown!

Hey Shiloh! You forgot your photographer!

Hey Shiloh! You forgot your photographer!

Woo Whee!

Top Gun Shot  ("And then we went like this...")

Top Gun shot
(“And then we went like this…”)

IMG_4415Can we go again?!

Thanks to everyone at Skydive Burnaby, especially our instructor, Sam, and photographer, Nick (who gets credit for the video and aerial shots).

This post is linked to this week’s Which Way Challenge from Cee of Cee’s Photography and Friztext’s A to Z Challenge, which this week is ‘j’ (for ‘jump’, in my case).

While you’re contemplating what it would be like to plummet through clear blue skies, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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A Window On Piran, Slovenia

Q: What’s outside the window of our hotel room?

IMG_2540A: Tartinijev Trg (Tartini Square) in Piran, Slovenia.

It’s mostly quiet now.

IMG_2546And from above, it’s just a window of light in darkness.

IMG_2502IMG_2507But roll back the clock through the evening and Tartinijev Trg becomes a place full of noise and activity.

IMG_2527IMG_2531Built in the late 19th Century on the filled-in site of Piran’s stagnant inner harbour, Tartinijev Trg was named In Memoriam of local violinist, Giuseppe Tartini.

IMG_2476Today it’s the beating heart of daily life in the town, where there’s always something happening, and it’s usually quite loud.

IMG_1396This post was inspired by the themes Noise from Ailsa (of Where’s My Backpack?), Window from Sue (of A Word In Your Ear), In Memoriam from Nancy (of Nancy Merrill Photography) and Humanity from Thirdeyemom (of the Daily Post).

While you’re dreaming of evenings spent people watching on the Adriatic Coast, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Artistic Roofs of Central Europe

In July we did a bit of a circuit around the southern part of Central Europe. One of the things that struck me along the way was how something as simple as ceramic roof tiles can be used to enhance a building’s beauty and uniqueness. In Vienna, Budapest and Zagreb, we saw how cleverly placing roof tiles of contrasting colours can produce stunning geometric designs and even Coats of Arms.

Vienna: Stephansdom (St Stephan's Cathedral)

Vienna: Stephansdom (St Stephan’s Cathedral)

Budapest: Calvinist Church, beside the Danube

Budapest: Calvinist Church, beside the Danube

Budapest: State Archive of Historic Documents, in Buda Castle

Budapest: State Archive of Historic Documents, in Buda Castle

Budapest: The main façade of Mátyás Church, also in Buda Castle

Budapest: The main façade of Mátyás Church, also in Buda Castle

Budapest: The main roof of Mátyás Church, from Fisherman's Bastion

Budapest: The main roof of Mátyás Church, from Fisherman’s Bastion

Zagreb: The Church of St Mark from the rear...

Zagreb: The Church of St Mark from the rear…

Zagreb: ...and from the front!

Zagreb: …and from the front!

Zagreb: Church of St Mark and the castle district from Lotrščak Tower

Zagreb: Church of St Mark and the castle district from Lotrščak Tower

This post was inspired by the theme Contrasting Colours, from Cee of Cee’s Photography.

While you’re dazzled by the artistic skills of European roofers, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Nominations Are Like Buses…

Pride of London cover detail…You wait and wait, and then a bunch come along all at once.

Prior to about six weeks ago, I had to go way back to 2009 for the last time I was nominated for anything. On that occasion Jaspa’s Journey: The Great Migration was an Award Winning Finalist for USA Book News’ Best Books 2009.

Then last month, not only was my blog was nominated for a Liebster Award, but I was also personally nominated to take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

One Lovely Blog (square)And today it’s my great pleasure to accept yet another nomination, this time for a One Lovely Blog Award. It’s a really nice way to celebrate my 200th blog post.

The nomination comes from Vasudha Aggarwal of Traveldefined, a great blog she writes about her travels with her husband, accompanied by some fantastic photos. Thanks very much, Vasudha!

The rules for accepting a One Lovely Blog Award are as follows:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you – Check!
  2. List the rules and display the award – Check!
  3. Include seven facts about yourself – See below
  4. Nominate around 15 other bloggers and let them know about the award – See below
  5. Follow the blogger who nominated you (if not already!) – Check!

 

Seven facts about me:

  1. I am the star of a series of travel-based adventure novels!

There are currently three Jaspa’s Journey stories available as ebooks (see my Books section). Drop me an e-mail if you’d like a free download of the first book in the series, The Great Migration, which takes place in the Serengeti.

Three book banner

  1. I am a Ses and only 3½ inches tall, so I have a unique perspective on the world.

Most humans are unaware of us Ses, yet there’s nothing magical or cutesy about us. We’re just small creatures, trying to get by in the world. Nearly all animals have Ses counterparts. Take me; I’m a Giraffeses, a distant relation of the giraffe, who could comfortably fit in the palm of your hand.

 

  1. Most of the work on this blog is actually done by my creator, Rich Meyrick

IMG_0424Being as small as I am, it’s hard to work a keyboard. Fortunately Rich, a former environmental scientist with a PhD from Cambridge University, isn’t a bad writer. He’s also been know to take the odd reasonable photograph.

 

 

 

 

  1. I was born in the Serengeti

Jaspa’s Journey: The Great Migration tells the ‘official’ story of how I came to leave the Serengeti in the first place. Since then I’ve lived in Germany, the UK (albeit very briefly) and Canada with Rich and his wife, Sue.

 

  1. I LOVE travelling!

IMG_1369Everything in my blog is based on my travels with Rich and Sue. So far we’ve visited 40 countries on four continents, and been to eight Canadian provinces and all 50 US States. To learn more about my Journeys visit the Travel section of my webpage.

 

  1. My motto is “I Think I Need A Bigger Bucket!”

There isn’t place I don’t want to visit (safety notwithstanding). Just take a look at my Bucket List, if you’re not convinced. I always say I’m going to need 7½ lifetimes to see and do everything I want to.

 

  1. My favourite hobby is Geocaching

IMG_6369Geocaching is essentially a worldwide scavenger hunt based on GPS technology. It’s a great way to take advantage of local knowledge when exploring somewhere new. To date I’ve found over 5300 caches, including at least one in every province, state and country I’ve ever visited except Ireland, which I haven’t returned to since I discovered geocaching. To learn more visit the Geocaching section of my webpage.

 

My nominees:

The best thing about getting a nomination like One Lovely Blog, is that I in turn get another opportunity to acknowledge some of the blogs I enjoy reading…

AngelineM’s Blog

Being Mrs Carmichael

Cee’s Photography

Flying Goannas

Hamburg und Mee(h)r

Leya

Max510’s Blog

Meg Travels

Northwest Frame of Mind

Travel With Intent

The Syllabub Sea

Wandering Iris

Where’s My Backpack?

Wind Against Current

Woolly Muses

Wooly and Raeski

The World Is A Book…

And don’t forget to visit the blogs I nominated for a Liebster Award last month.

If you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about me, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Riding the Rails in San Francisco

Just being in San Francisco was an Adventure. But riding the street cars, and especially the cable cars, was a dream come true!

First we rode Street Car No. 1. Built in 1912, this was the first publicly-owned street car in the US.

Here comes our ride, Street Car No. 1

Here comes our ride, Street Car No. 1

IMG_4975

With my brother Bisckits aboard Street Car No. 1

With my brother Bisckits aboard Street Car No. 1

Next up was the California Line on Cable Car No. 50, also built in 1912.

All aboard Cable Car No. 50

All aboard Cable Car No. 50

Cable cars are a whizz!

Cable cars are a whizz!

Hanging loose with Bisckits and Phyllis

Hanging loose with Bisckits and Phyllis

IMG_5007Last but not least, we rode the Powell Cable Car line from the famous turntable on Hyde Street. The workhorse for our final run was Cable Car No. 11, built way back in 1893-4, and still going strong!

Cable Car No. 11 on the Hyde Street turntable

Cable Car No. 11 on the Hyde Street turntable

Passing Lombard Street

Passing Lombard Street

Over the top...

Over the top…

...And down the other side!

…And down the other side!

Adventure over

Adventure over

This post was inspired by the themes Public Transport from Nancy (of Nancy Merrill Photography), Technology from Sue (of A Word In Your Ear), Wheels from Cee (of Cee’s Photography) and Adventure from Michelle (of the Daily Post).

While you’re dreaming of whizzing down the hills of San Francisco hanging off the side of a cable car, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Gentlemen (and Ladies), Open Your Wallets!

Driving a Formula 1 car is not for the faint of heart, as we rediscovered at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July. But the prices at the merchandise stands can also bring on palpitations!

IMG_1179IMG_1177IMG_1178This post is inspired by the theme Merchandise from Ailsa (of Where’s My Backpack?) and Sports from Dale (of Spun With Tears).

PS. The above photos were taken before the crowds arrived, early on the morning of Friday practice.

While you’re contemplating the expense of official sports merchandise, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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Riding Vienna’s Riesenrad

The opening stop on our recent European trip was supposed to be Vienna. Instead, a delayed flight from Toronto meant we spent the first evening of our holiday in Mestre railway station outside Venice, and didn’t get to Austria until the following morning. (But that’s another story – possibly worthy of a Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge post, sometime in the future.)

IMG_0375The point is, our time in Vienna was significantly shorter than we’d originally intended. We ran around the Austrian capital like crazy things, trying to fit as much as possible into our limited timeframe (although, when don’t we do that?), but some ‘must-do’ items still had to be culled from the list.

However, something that was never at risk of being left out, was a ride on one of Vienna’s most famous landmarks…

The Riesenrad (literally, Giant Wheel) has been gracing the Viennese skyline since 1897. At 212 feet tall, it was the tallest existing Ferris Wheel in the World between 1920 and 1985.

IMG_0431Yet, while undoubtedly a ‘big’ wheel, compared to similar structures built before and since, the Riesenrad isn’t exactly a ‘giant’. For example, the original Ferris Wheel was constructed in Chicago five years before the Riesenrad and was 52 feet taller. The current record holder, the High Roller, opened in Las Vegas earlier this year, and is a whopping 550 feet tall.

And I’ve personally been on the London Eye, which is 443 feet tall, making it more than twice the height of the Riesenrad. (The Eye also features in Jaspa’s Journey 2: The Pride of London, by the way).

The London Eye

The London Eye

But none of that matters (except the bit about the London Eye featuring in one of my literary adventures, of course), because you simply can’t go to Vienna and not ride the Riesenrad!

Our day in Vienna was hot and humid, so it was no surprise that a series of thunderstorm cells descended on the city around sunset. We managed to get to Prater, the park that’s home to the Riesenrad, before the rain started. But as we waited for our turn to ride the wheel, a torrential downpour drenched our part of the city.

IMG_0480Fortunately, the waiting area was under cover, and the deluge was short-lived. So by the time it was our turn to board a cabin and ascend into the Viennese night sky, the storm cells were already bothering other areas of the city.

Here comes our cabin

Here comes our cabin

All aboard!

All aboard!

Up we go!

Up we go

View out across Vienna

View out across Vienna

Over the top!

Over the top

Down the other side

Down the other side

Don't look down... too late!

Don’t look down… too late!

Our slow but exciting circle through the humid Austrian darkness was punctuated by lightning storms competing in the distance. You couldn’t have wished for more!

This post was inspired by the theme Wheels, from Cee of Cee’s Photography.

If Vienna’s Riesenrad has put you in a spin, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my websiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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