The Garden City of India

The Garden City of India

After a forty hour journey from hell I finally landed, pretty dazed and without luggage, in Bangalore airport. This city was to be my base camp, staying with one of my best friends, for the next three weeks and I had no idea what to expect. It’s often called the Garden City of India but I tried to reserve judgement until I’d been there a while. In the end I did find it green, full of oases, madly beautiful and pretty safe. I found it incredible for people watching and also especially for eating and being foodie – your options are literally endless. As for things to do, it surprised me that there was less than I thought, although it is a good base camp, because there are plenty of things in Karnataka that you can enjoy for a few days using this city to kick off from.

Me and Sri

“I made it!”

The area around the airport is sparse in anything, but still greener than I had anticipated and it soon starts to meld into the outskirts of the city. The first thing you notice about this city is that it’s a rather higgledy piggeldy, crammed in sort of madness, as though no planning went in to it but in this madness high rise buildings are towering right about shacks and chic bars appear next to temples. As soon as it hits you it’s loud. India is loud and excitable, in a wave of heat, bright colours and blaring horns you’re catapulted into a cosmopolitan craze, a late-night city (although not as 24/7 as English cities given that 24hour licensing laws certainly aren’t in play here), heady, over-crowded roads broken up with deep pockets of green . It’s a city of many levels, from the sky-high bars to the dogs that duck under the uneven pavement to run, I imagine, their own world beneath the city’s unguessing feet.

I notice as we drive that the birds here are bigger – Indian Kites roam the skies majestically, spreading their enormous wingspan and coming breathtakingly close, fighting with the huge crows and other more exotic creatures. I also notice almost instantly that the roads, to the untrained, un-Indian eye, are total chaos and, although seatbelts are only compulsory in the front seats in India, I opt to have mine on. Apart from the noise and the apparent lack of rules on the road, although in the city they move very slowly, there is so much colour, in every direction you look. Purple; Bangalore seems to be very purple, it seems to be the favourite colour for Saris, and gold too, all these multi-coloured, gold-embellished women, however rich or poor, bustling their way along the road, weaving in and out of traffic because it’s easier than navigating the pavements. Then there are the Autos (Auto-Rickshaw) in their garish green and yellow, honking their horns and rattling along between cars, horse drawn traps made of brightly painted wood occasionally pop up too. And the street sellers; the little stalls balanced precariously on the edge of the traffic nightmare, add colour with their fruit and vegetables, the ripening mangos, the large, ugly Jack Fruit, and their materials, spread like miniature rainbows. The trees themselves hang, richly green, over the dirty streets, bougainvillea is the only flower I can successfully name, adding to the purple tint of the whole scene and reminding me fondly of the Med.

 method in the madness

‘There’s method in the madness’ Amma tells me…

Auto

Journeying to the apartment in the evening I had spied a street sparkling like Christmas, glowing and bustling with people, coming out now either to avoid the heat or the rain during the day, it seemed to be lit with a million fairy lights. I later discovered these were some fairy lights some lights from shops merely reflecting the sparkle of the gold and the bejewelled materials within. This was where we made a beeline on the first day, after finally getting my suitcase back. My first ride in an auto was terrifying, no doubt. You feel very precarious as you squeeze three onto the bench in the back (later in the visit Autos felt completely normal) and rock your way through the streets, rolling alarmingly close to cars, buses, cows and narrowly avoid crushing people’s feet as the pass on bicycles and mopeds. Commercial Street is no less colourful during the day. It was packed, everyone shuffling along, squeezed in tightly trying to drag yourself out of the rainbow crowd of Saris and head scarves to get to a shop you actually want to look at. The first time I visited I was completely unprepared for the noise and the amount of people, the chaos of it all. I was far too overwhelmed to buy anything but totally enchanted by the shouting and the sea of people contrasting with the quiet interiors, disturbed only by the necessary whirring of fans, where you could eye swathes of rich materials in peace and wish you had unlimited luggage space. The second time I visited Commercial Street our timing was truly shocking. We hopped out of the Auto, navigated the manic road crossing and were sucked into the Commercial Street flow. About five minutes later the monsoon released its indiscriminate fury; a heavy, unrelenting, warm down pour that soaked everything in sight in an instant. People were crammed into shop doorways in large tight packs, until they had to move out, when running is entirely fruitless and you resign yourself to the drenching. We eventually had to do this, it was showing no sign of letting up. The gutters became fast flowing streams and not too long after transformed into full on rivers that took up half of the pavement and half of the road. We started walking along the middle of the road following everyone else’s lead, all traffic was coming to a complete stand still. I’d also picked that day to wear large, light purple palazzo pants – bad move! Holding my trousers above my knees I attempted to minimize the damage and pick my way through, until we had to cross one of these small rivers. We stepped in and almost instantly my flip flop was sucked off by the downhill current. Some squealing, chasing, and dropping my long trousers into the filthy water then ensued; I careered down after my escapee shoe. A kind man eventually stepped on it and fished it out of the murk, handing it back to me; it was one of the least glamorous moments of my life.

Auto in the rain

You can't escape the rain

You can’t escape the rain

Getting soaked

 

But this is exactly typical of how cities and even villages transform under the Monsoon onslaught. One minute people will be milling around, selling, shopping, perched outside their houses chatting and then the next moment will be anarchy. Some will swarm under whatever shelter can be found while other people will grab whatever is nearby to use as a makeshift hat, some will stay resolutely put or plod on, knowing being wet or dry makes no difference to their existence; people will pull over mopeds to avoid getting soaked and umbrella sellers will suddenly emerge from nowhere, spinning their rainbow umbrellas in all their glory, evening attempting to sell them to warm dry people in cars. Either way, for as long as it lasts, the rain is the full focus of every living being, cow, dog or human, on the streets at the time.

UB City glowing in the dark

UB City glowing in the dark

UB Tower in all its Glory

UB Tower

A must-visit in Bangalore, although it is strikingly Europeanised, is UB City; a large, sleek designer mall with a small street of up-market restaurants nestled at the back in a courtyard separate from the noisy streets. In the last week of my stay we popped back to UB city again to sample the macaroons (I know, I know) which were fabulous. Deserts, as it turns out, seem to be a very fashionable art form in modern Indian cities; both in Bangalore and Hyderabad I sampled so many beautiful, rich, colourful deserts from small modern joints. We stopped the first time, however, to eat at Cafe Noir – shamelessly European/French but one of my friend’s favourites so we gave it a shot – a romantic restaurant overlooking UB Tower, an enormous glass structure belonging to the owner of Kingfisher brand. This was the first time I noticed how cheap even an expensive night out could be. We both had delicious Sangria, humus and bread for starter and a meal, mine was a deliciously filling pumpkin risotto, for the equivalent of £8 each and that is quite a hefty price to pay here. I loved the delicate atmosphere and how people dressed differently here, an excuse for girls to get their legs out without getting undue attention and the gentle bubble of noise associated with quiet Italian dining streets in the late evening.

Cafe Noir

Dinner for Two at Cafe Noir

There are so many opportunities to be foodie here, I was seriously amazed. And opportunities to drink – I began to think that’s all the youth here (or at least a certain class of them) do, like home, but in far more style. On my second day we were feeling a tea stop so we pulled into, or rather climbed over some half finished road works and piles of sticky red earth to get to, Infinitea. Inside it’s tranquilly-tea itself, calm, cool and decorated with quotes and posters from all over the world extolling the virtues of tea. We opted for an Indian sourced Chai Tea with ginger. Before this trip I would neither have had Chai, nor would I have put ginger in my drink as I’m usually a fan of no-fuss, bog standard breakfast tea and little variation. But this was super scrumptious, and the tea pots were beautiful, the little cups making mugs at home look clumsy.

Chai Tea

Mad Hatter meets India

Mad Hatter meets India

Tea Time

Tea Time

We broke up the time between meals by spending the afternoon at the National Gallery of Modern Art, mainly to see a photography exhibition of shots taken by the great grandfather of a friend of the family I was staying with. That meant little to me, I was more interested in the sometimes grainy, sometimes blurred, black and white photography and portraiture that captured a unique picture of colonial India. Smiling in portraits was not in fashion then and candid shots often ended up out of focus, but I love to look at black and white photography and see how easy it is to recognise the colours, to try and squeeze my brain somehow back to the time as if I’m the photographer; mostly it’s unimaginable. The building is beautiful too but sadly no pictures were permitted inside. It’s a minimalist, low white building, very angular and with a lot more space than building, there’s plenty of outside to be found inside, in an enchanting way. It was especially beautiful as a shower was falling through the courtyards, bouncing of tiles and leaves in a serene, light movement. This was the first place I noticed the difference in price for locals versus tourists though…Indian Nationals 2 rupees entry (there abouts) and me 160 rupees, it’s still a damn good deal though.

Gallery in the Rain

Fountain at the NGMA

Fountain at the NGMA

National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore

National Gallery of Modern Art

Next stop on the trendy trail is a relatively new bar, apparently too packed to move at the weekend but pleasantly filled on a Tuesday; Social it’s called. Inside it reminded me of something I’d certainly find at home in Manchester, factory chic with funky urban art, low lighting and menus laid out like newspapers. The cocktails were also oozing cool – if a little expensive – you can drink from a barrel, a Game Of Thrones horn or have candy floss melt before your eyes as the alcohol hits the glass. It’s young and a bit showy and I loved it; the Biryani is an incredible choice but everything seems good there. The only downside was, we sat underneath a part of the aircon system that dripped increasingly on us, until we may as well have been outside but this is a classic ‘me’ move, something like that always happens. Apparently Ice And Spice is a Bangalore tradition, despite being a burger joint. Crammed on a crazier-than-average street this tiny venue served my friend’s dad while he was in school – the same waiter, greying, with crumpled looking skin and a slightly brusque manner, is even still serving there. We managed to squeeze into the outside seating, which I loved, a step back from the air conditioned interiors, outside where you can smell and here the traffic, the cows and the people all around. It certainly is popular here, I watched people stand around for more than half an hour for a spot but apparently it refuses to expand because it doesn’t want to destroy the vibe people enjoy here. The lamb burger was incredible, nothing fussy, fantastic taste and really reasonably priced and the deserts looked like heaven too. I would definitely say to search this out if you are in Bangalore, it’s a total gem.

We went out once or twice too. I’m not a huge fan of partying or drinking on holiday or while travelling because I prefer to see as much as possible and I’m seriously un-functional with a hangover. One party was pre-planned, a good friend’s birthday, and the other two were spontaneous but fun and not at all regretted, in spite of the late starts. There seem to be plenty of places to drink out in Bangalore, although everything shuts a little earlier than us Brits may be used to (I didn’t mind at all since it resulted in more sleep), and day drinking is also trendy with all-you-can-drink (and eat) brunches up for grabs at so many venues. We skipped the brunches and went for standard nights out; two in Sanctum and one starting at Smoke House and ending at a destination whose name I have forgotten completely. Sanctum is fine, it’s a very chic, up market bar where the dress code is Dress Up and drinks are expensive. Needless to say I sort of preferred my second venture there when the party had an open bar. A whole new experience for me is being dropped off directly at the venue doors by a driver and often picked up afterwards, with no bus or taxi fare to worry about and simply to be deposited back at the front door. This can be less chilled though since there are no seat belt rules, I suddenly felt catapulted back to the ninetees with five of us crammed in the back, only this time we were a lot bigger. Smoke House is another place that would fit right in in Manchester. The decor is all black and white, the walls are designed as if everything has been penned on with board marker, the cakes are simply divine too and they have an Unlimited Sangria offer, which is a terrible, terrible idea. All of these places are like entering a vacuum far apart from ‘real India’ which is blaring its raucous way along the road outside; you are sucked into a cool, sleek and occasionally sophisticated, occasionally anarchist, bubble where you could be in almost any country. I enjoyed it for what it was, being with friends and feeling very relaxed, but I didn’t feel like I was on another continent at all.

Bangalore is such a bright, contrastive city and I had such a wonderful time there I seriously hope I can go back. You feel at home there very easily. I did some more sightseeing there too, which will follow in later posts, this was just a taste of how Bangalore, well, tasted mostly, and how it introduced itself to me; the vibrant garden city of southern India.

Get To Know Me – 14 Random Questions Tag

Get To Know Me – 14 Random Questions Tag

Me in Wuerzburg

 

So this tag was started, yesterday, by the beautiful and inspiring Queen Of Jet Lags, known to some as Noor, and I thought I’d just love to (kind of be honoured to) respond to her tag. I’d love for anyone reading this to post it too or write your answers in the comments. They’re fun questions to let you into snippets of my life. It’s a bundle of fun, so if you want to know a little more about moi, hop right in and see what answers I have for the questions of a jet-setting beauty.

1. If you could change your name to anything, what would it be and why?

I came back at the end and answered this last because…damn this is hard. I like Marion/Marian because I really love Robin Hood legends and feel like I’d love to be Maid Marian, I’ve always been very enthralled by every incarnation of Robin I’ve read. Along the same vein I’ve always loved the name Guinevere for its mythical, romantic connotations. There’s something so delicious and rich about those names. I also love girls names that could also be a guy’s name, I adore that androgynous ability; Thomasine (Tommi) and Robyn are my favourites.

2. If you could go back in time and give your younger self advice, what would it be and why?

Jess, you don’t suit black lipstick – at all!

3. What did you want to be when you were little?

First a vet, because I loved animals (especially my Beenie Babies) and then I realised I would need to be good at science. Then the first time I flew I decided I wanted to be an airport baggage handler… I must say, the appeal hasn’t actually waned much.

4. What do you order at Starbucks?

I don’t really go to Starbucks unless I need wifi, however if I do happen to need wifi then their Earl Grey tea is divine.

5. What’s the hardest you ever laughed?

I couldn’t even pick one moment. My friends make me laugh, my Ultimate Frisbee team (who are my friends too, I add) make me roar hysterically. My boyfriend brings out the worst damn giggles ever. There have been many good laughs. I remember being about 12 having a sleepover with my best friend at the time and she recorded me laughing full-out for eight minutes straight but I have no idea what set me off.

6. If you could play any instrument, which would it be and why?

I used to be able to play the clarinet reasonably – I’d have liked to have been able to actually play that well, I love jazz.

7. What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re upset?

There’s nothing I really like about being upset to be honest. I like if I can exercise it out of me but that doesn’t always work.

8. What’s your favourite movie?

S.W.A.T is so damn cool, it takes the biscuit.

And the Christopher Nolan Batman-s. And Marvel films. V for Vendetta.

My favourite German film is Das Leben ist Nichts fuer die Feiglinge; it was heart wrenchingly beautiful and honest.
9. What’s one food you cannot live without?

CHEESE

10.  What’s your favourite dessert?

Erm…cheese? Well okay, if not cheese then stewed blackberries and fruits of the forest, the mere thought of the taste makes my mouth water. Heaven.

11.  Favourite pizza topping?

Quattro Staggioni (Stagioni?), because you get all the bests on there, I calculate which flavour I want the most and leave that slice till last; that is bliss. Close second is anything involving spinach.

12. Would you rather have the superpower to read minds or the superpower to be invisible?

I am not a person that would cope well with either of those powers. It’s best they are both kept away from me because they would undo me. However I feel I could be distracted enough by the sheer cool-factor of being invisible that I wouldn’t use it too selfishly, so that one may turn out better in the long run.

13. What did you do for your last birthday?

I went to work (yay) and then had a beer in the sunshine in the park before sitting with my lovely German buddies in my favourite Italian restaurant in Erlangen, Tios, where we had much beer, pizza and frivolity.

14. If you had one personal “selfish” wish, what would it be and why?

To travel forever, keep travelling. But my totally selfish condition would be that no one at home ever got bored of waiting for me or became less close to me. Life doesn’t work that way though.

 

J x

Malaria, Mosquitoes and Medication – Off on an Adventure Part #5

Malaria, Mosquitoes and Medication – Off on an Adventure Part #5

The Big Three…

So the time has come to talk Ms… Malaria, Mosquitoes and Medication. Here’s what I’m taking and what precautions I’m using, I mean, I’m no expert but here are a few things I’ve picked up. I’ll review some things when I get back and I’m sure in a few travel’s time I will be much more savvy. If you have any tips or suggestions for me, they’d be welcomed, just post them below.

Malaria

My first misconception was that you can’t cure malaria and that there is only one ‘malaria’ (The malaria to end all malarias mwhahaha…), well, nope. There are lots of different strains and some can be cured by killing the parasite that the mosquito has deposited in you. There is, as we all know, still plenty of risk of death/life-time illness from malaria though. I also thought that India and Africa just ‘had’ malaria, full stop. Nope again. I found a lot of advice online (like on fitfortravel) and from doctors, and I was introduced to the ‘Malaria Map’; this basically showed me that the area I’m staying in is malaria free, which is amazing, but when I travel further north into Hyderabad and Goa I will be in malaria risk areas. This will help you work out exactly how many malaria tablets you need to pay for – the exact amount of days you’re planning on being in the risk zone, plus whatever clearance your chosen tablets need either side. As for which tablets to take…I’m no doctor. The best thing, of course, is to go and talk to a nurse or a specialised travel nurse and they can help you chose the best tablets for your trip and fill you in on the cost etc. There are multiple ways in which you can react badly to the tablets you’re on too – hopefully you won’t – so it’s best if you read the instructions about which tablets you’re allowed to switch to, if yours don’t work. (I know, it’s a tad confusing.)

Mosquitoes

Okay so for me the best idea seems to be prevention rather than cure and it’s not just malaria you can contract from mosquitoes. Oh no. These nasty little critters can also get you with Dengue Fever, Japanese Encephalitis and other bugs. So here come the usual tips:

  1. Cover up – although long clothing doesn’t prevent mosquitoes it might make them slightly less likely to go for you than if all your yummy flesh is flailing around in the air. You can also find now some ‘smart’ clothing, like walking trousers, that claims to be mosquito repellent before you’ve even added your own stuff on top. That seems like a good thing to add to the list.
  2. Stagnant water – stay away from it. Any still or stagnant water, especially in the evenings and after sun down is more likely to be surrounded by mosquitoes or to be a breeding ground.
  3.  Nets – either sleep under an impregnated mosquito net or in a building that is fully netted-up. If you don’t have nets, just shut your doors and windows for sure! You can get plug in mosquito repellents too, but they can be heavy to carry around if you’re on mission Travel Light.

And then there are repellents. The key ingredient – and I’ve mentioned that I’m not sure if it’s entirely environmentally friendly, but it is effective – is DEET. It has a chemical name but most bottles will label it as DEET. I have used the Jungle Formula products for as long as I can remember and this time I’ve gone for the highest Protection Rating, which is 4, which contains at least 50% DEET and comes in a spray or cream form. I’ve gone for spray because, well, I just hate having too much cream all over my body. The highest percentage DEET I’ve managed to find in supermarkets is 50% but if you go into a walking or camping shop you can find a much wider range. I got one bottle of 96% DEET which I shouldn’t think I’ll need to be honest, but hey, mosquitoes for miles around will be flying for cover when I step out of a building.

The Secret Weapon in the fight against mosquitoes, which is relatively well known now I think, is the Avon Skin So Soft spray. I know people in the Armed Forces who use this, sometimes get issued this, people who’ve been to some seriously bug-y jungles have recommended it. Apparently it’s to do with the citronella content, and the mixture of other things, but mosquitoes absolutely hate it. People swear by it – I’ll see what happens. Of course the only pain is that you have to find an Avon catalogue to order from but maybe I’m seriously uncool in that I didn’t already have one.

Medication

I babble a lot in the video but it’s really personal and everyone will want to take something different. For me the key ingredients are the Anthisan and the Imodium (these are just the two brands I happen to know) to ease irritation from bites, stings and rashes and then to ease diarrhoea. Diarrhoea isn’t something we really like to talk about (or spell) but it’s something that happens to everyone, especially in a foreign country with new food, so we may as well get over it, be honest about it and carry something to stop it ruining our day. I don’t know why it’s such an ‘embarrassing’ topic anyway. As well as the cream for if I do get stings or rashes, I also like to take Piriteze tablets (or Piriton medicine) which are the allergy tablets I’m used to. I’m only taking them because I have no idea if my hay fever/cat allergy/dust allergy (I haven’t quite figured out the trigger yet) will be bad over there or not. I could also be allergic to food or a plant I suppose, so it’s handy to travel with.

Most of you will utter a derisive snort when you see I’ve packed travel sickness tablets. Yes…I get travel sick. Yes I have a very inappropriate collection of ailments and fears to be a traveller – but who cares, I love it! I love Stugeron because it’s very effective and sends me on a pleasant snooze if I’m already a little tired but it’s not strong enough to literally knock me out if I have some adrenaline going through me; don’t just take my word for it though, check with your doctor etc.

What do you take in your medical kit when you travel? If you could only take one thing what would it be? And… do you have any DEET alternatives that are planet friendlier?

 

Off On An Adventure #update – A Friendly Money Warning

Today I learnt something new…Rupees are, according to the lady at the post office, a ‘closed currency’. Damn.

What this means is, you can’t collect/buy your currency in another country, in my case the UK, you have to collect it when you arrive. I was thinking I was going to sort out my money before I left but now I’m going to have to take £s over and exchange them once I get there. In a way this gives me a bit more flexibility, because I can take out how many pounds I think I will need but if it turns out I need less, then I can bring the pounds right back without losing out on the double exchange. 

I had NO IDEA that India’s currency was of this kind – I didn’t even know there were currencies like this. I know, probably rather naive. But now I’m a tad wiser and I hope it’s going to be pretty easy to find somewhere to exchange once I arrive. Wherever you’re heading, if it’s outside of Europe, you might want to check whether it operates like this (I’ve asked a few people and apparently some African countries and China, definitely operate in this way). 

p.s. I’m getting really excited now!

What Can I Tell You About Visas? – Off On An Adventure Part #4

What Can I Tell You About Visas? – Off On An Adventure Part #4

What can I say about Visas apart from that they are stressful?

DSC01008 (2)

It’s meticulous, and you can’t screw it up, or you’ll be out – that is, you won’t even be in. It’s also a question of timing, because you can’t do it too early, a 6 month Visa is only valid for six months and this has to cover the duration of your stay plus entry and exit. I was, of course, facing more logistical problems in trying to time sending my visa off, and getting it back, in my short stay in the UK – since I needed my passport to get back across on the ferry from Germany and 19 days later I’d need it again, plus visa, to get to India. I would start about 4 weeks before travel if you’re going for a month or less, that should be plenty, to get your passport to them and back.

The first port of call is the Indian Visa Application Centre, vfsglobal.co.uk, and the Indian High Commission, for all the information you need to start. All Visa applications go through the Indian Commission eventually, but there are several ways to get them there: one is to apply directly through them, which can be slow and tedious; they warn you to leave ‘at least’ two weeks in working days. The other way, if you’re pushed for time is to pay an agency; it’s painful but effective.

So the application is now online (but if you’re reading this you definitely have internet connection – well done! Half way there). You need your passport to complete and the details of the venue you are staying living in, in India. Apart from that you need any extra details – some you can’t even imagine why they need – I had to provide my father’s previous occupations and my parents’ birth places, you kind of think, why? But there must be several checks they have to run on you, or maybe they’re just trying to scare you. If you’re not a student I suspect all the information will be just about you though. Oh and then there’s photos, don’t make the mistake of sending them passport photos that would be far too simple. What you need is a 5cmx5cm photos (double check that!), I know that it’s definitely a square one, which meant I wasted my first €5 getting the wrong shots from a machine. You can get square photos from passport-style machines though, so just make sure you save your money and adjust the settings. If you’re sending to a Visa agency some will resize for you, but I didn’t risk it. Make sure you send two too.

You’re going to need a printer too, for the online forms once you’ve finished: the application, signed twice, the declaration, signed once and, if you’re sending with an agency, you’ll need a declaration to say you allow them to handle your visa for you. It’s a pretty nerve wracking thing to do, send your passport off in the post with a bunch of documents containing personal details and trust that they will get there. All I did was pay for first class special delivery (cost me about £14 for both ways but I’m pretty sure that will vary) and, I must say, everything came back just fine and very quickly. Check whether you live near an application centre, because that would be cheaper although more tedious and possibly still slow (if you’re in a city there’s a good chance, if you’re in a small town like me you will have no luck, use the post!).

As for my agency; as usual I don’t want to recommend especially because I haven’t exactly shopped around, I went with the first one I found . But I will say they were tres efficient. They call you prior to sending, and as many times as you need to answer all your questions. The guy dealing with me even scattered my emails with smiley faces to make me feel relaxed… it didn’t work when I was entrusting him with my passport. But he was very nice and patient and I’m sure he’s pleased to see the back of me. Then you send them your belongings, three forms, one passport and two photos (but no payment), and they will email you to let you know they have it. Then they will call you again when it’s done to discuss return. I had sent a pre-stamped pre-paid envelope with mine so they could wing it back asap, but at this point if you haven’t they will just add postage onto your bill. I paid for a super-quick 7 day turn around, which only took 3 days in the end, but it did cost me £146. Ouch. Yeah. That’s the catch and I would say if you have the option, avoid this and just let it take its sweet old time. However if you don’t have time to kill, you have to pay about £90 for your visa anyway, it’s only another £56 to get them to push it through quickly. You weigh it up, I didn’t really feel like I had a choice. Although, who knows? The Indian Commission may have just been covering their backs, they might have got it done much more quickly!

Impromptu Sculptures at Ringstead Bay

Impromptu Sculptures at Ringstead Bay

On Sunday I went for a lovely relaxing walk to one of our favourite local family spots. It’s relatively well known but still so quite; ideal for dogs and walkers and families who want peace, quiet and the countryside as well as the seaside.

One Happy Dog

One Happy Dog

Meet The Parents

Meet The Parents

Ringstead Beach – I’ve been here so many times that sometimes I barely see it at all. Other times I see it very clearly, usually when I’m showing other people around, for the beautiful, secluded, nature-steeped hideaway that it is. Here I feel like I’m in another world, the rich green countryside spills right down to the pebbly beach and the quiet is unrivalled. The water is clear too because the bottom isn’t too sandy and it’s great to swim in, with the dog (if, unlike me, you can brace yourself for the British water).

Ringstead over the Hills

Ringstead over the Hills

 

It’s one of my favourite local treasures but this time someone else had been there too… an impromptu mini-sculpture display has popped up at the back of the beach where people are piling rocks, which has been thrown up in the stormy weather, into obscure alien-esque towers. People add to it as they walk by; I love how it looks, I hope people keep adding.

 

Rock Sculptures

Rock Sculptures

More Photos on Flickr Jessie Benson(jessiebenson93)

More Photos on Flickr Jessie Benson(jessiebenson93)

DSC00967

More photos on Flickr

 

Feeling Ready… Off On An Adventure #update

I am so very pleased to let you all know that I had my final pre-travel injection today. But oh my something god did that hurt! Apparently this is my fault, since I was so tense she could ‘barely get it in’ (ooer I say!), when I had actually been actively trying to relax my arm – so much for that technique, I’ll go back to singing nursery rhymes in my head next time.

And yes, there is a next time. With my course of Hep B I’ve had three doses, once a month since May. However because this is really too quick it doesn’t give me complete coverage unless I get another booster jab in a year. Yay! I am really looking forward to feeling that liquid ooze its way down the inside of my arm again. I also have another Hep A jab to get in August to complete my coverage for 3 years.

Tomorrow’s India Mission: Find out how to prove I don’t have yellow fever.