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Archive for the month “November, 2011”

Take a vacation with Google Street View

I bet you hadn’t thought of that before. A vacation with Google Street View, what does that even mean? Well, it’s simple really. You just type ‘Google Maps’ into well, Google, or press this link (laziness is OK, you’re on vacation!)

We all get stressed out of our skin sometimes, for whatever reason -and if you’ve got a boyfriend or girlfriend you’ll find yourself scratching at the front door – like some poor dog left inside for too long – for no better reason than that they are stressed because of something that is out of your control. Vacations exist for times like that, but in our busy wold and busy lives, we can’t just take off without warning. Who’ll take care of our children, pets and helpless menfolk? No, a vacation takes too long, requires planning and costs way more than most of us can afford these days.

Well, that’s what the internet is for. Just go to the Google Map, and pick your location. Don’t rush off just yet though. If you afford yourself a bit of preparation, the whole thing gets way better. Put some headphones on, and find some tunes that relax you. Mediation music works well here – some waves caressing a beach, or sounds from the rain forest perhaps. It doesn’t matter terribly, so long as it helps you drift away from your normal routine, and helps you connect with wherever you want to go. A glass of wine won’t go amiss either. And if you’re a writer, a notebook might be helpful. Don’t write on a computer or phone though – it’s not as relaxing. Or at least that’s the case for me. The point here isn’t to write a story while on vacation, but to jot down details about the place you’re visiting. Maybe pretend like you’re going there with your partner or a friend. Write down what you do together. If you see a café along the way, stop for a while and look around. Enjoy the view and leave some thoughts on the page before moving on.

So you’ve got your location, your headphones, a glass of wine, perhaps a notebook – and made sure your children/pets/spouse are elsewhere or know not to disturb you. Alternatively, lock them in a closet. Joking. They would scream and break your concentration. So don’t do that.
Let’s get going. I want to visit Germany this time, but am not fussed about where in the country I end up. So I just grab that little orange man up in the left corner, and drop him somewhere in Germany.

I seem to have ended up way out in the countryside. It looks a bit boring here, so I head for the closest town in sight: Nordhausen. It turns out that there isn’t any Street View there, so i move on. Google Maps keeps getting more and more complex as technology progresses and people keep adding pictures and video of new areas. I travel to right outside Dresden and find a stunning scenery.

And I like the bridge, so I click one of those grey circles which hovers above it.

I am tempted to go closer, but it’s a bit chilly here,  and it’s time to find a hotel. Why do I never book these things in advance? Well, I am a bit whimsical, but luckily Dresden is just a short drive from here. And I got talking to some other tourists who say they know of a place.

Oh no! We’re stuck in traffic. There are some lovely buildings here though, just look at that pale yellowish one to our left. And we just drove past a large building which looked like it might have belonged to nobles of some sort. Those people I met say their hotel is right around the corner though. Their English isn’t that good, but they’re friendly and we are already talking about maybe going  with them to some village not so far from here tomorrow.

Here we are! And a couple just left this morning, so we there’s a room for us right down the hall from where our new friends are staying! What a day. I am half-asleep by the time we get to our room and feel like I might fall asleep the moment my head meets that silky pillow. But it seems like my partner has other plans, tihi.

What was your journey like?


The birth of radical

Leaves ran around the rusty wires of the fence that encircled the abandoned factory. A group of teenagers cut a hole among the leaves after the first tear-gas canister landed among feet, placards and rage. They crept through the hole, and up beside the bricks to a door that had been slung shut before these children had grown tall enough to reach the lock. They found no key among the girders and bits of bent metal that saturated this cement landscape.

Walter’s left foot teased a dandelion that had struck through the worn cement, as some of the others began bashing the lock with a piece of metal bent like a crowbar.

“They’ve got themselves to blame,” Laura let her shoulder rest against his as the bent metal shrieked – “we got them good today.” Walter’s hands burrowed themselves into his pockets.

“Yeah, you did.” He felt as though she had wrapped a blanket around him.

“We did. You were there too.” She swept away a lock of hair from her eyes. A gust of quiet fell upon the enclosed land.

“Hey! It’s open, we got it open” Ian yelled at them. Ted threw aside their bent tool.

They gathered around the door. If I stop here – I can go back to A-levels… Let other people sort this out. Ian gave the door a shove. It slid partway open and sent a slit of light to the wall on the far end.  Ian and Ted slipped inside and faded into the darkness. Joseph went in after them, and then Laura and him together – the steel door sent a shiver through his hand as he held the door for her, this girl who had been a stranger when he woke up that morning.

It took some moments for his eyes to adjust to the dim light, but there was light. It came from sparse windows near the curved ceiling and tears in the metal plates that made up the walls. They dispersed inside the factory, eager to get to whatever had brought them here. He stayed close to Laura, and let her lead him through the factory.

They went down a long bare hallway with hooks in the wall where pictures had hung, and then through a handful of rooms until they happened upon what might have been the break room. She sat down on a wooden box that had left there for no apparent reason.

“What are you thinking?” She asked after a period of silence.

“Just that… I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.” He looked at her sneakers.

“We’re doing something that matters.” She paused and let their eyes meet. “I don’t like it either, but that makes no difference.”

“Why can’t we just be students?” despair stained his voice.

“They changed things – we don’t get to be…” She took his hand.

So as not to wither away

Without writing I would wither away,  but it seems a shame to keep it all locked away in a notebook or in some impersonal folder in my laptop. So this blog is here mostly for sharing those stories and inviting feedback. There may also be some political rants, but let’s see what happens.

Please don’t be afraid to get in touch – its fun meeting people – and add me on Facebook if you want longer or more personal conversations. And if you’re a fellow writer, I might be willing to cross-post your stories on this blog if you are looking for a larger audience.



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