Sunday, April 20, 2008

Flying at last!!!

My first couple of days in Bulgaria were a little wet, the weather didn’t co-operate but it was nice to hang out in Sophia. I stayed at a nice hotel and had time to buy some new toys. Bulgaria is cheaper than other European countries and Sofia is fun.

My camera came to a rather messy end recently involving a bottle of milk and my shoulder bag. There is a good lesson here – dont carry milk and cameras in the same bag. I bought a new Lumix Tz3 in Sophia, it was (of course) the most expensive one there and so far I am very happy with it.
So now I can post some pics about the flying.
I arrived in Sopot on Friday since the weather cleared and I had an afternoon flight. It was pretty thermic for late afternoon. I had 6m/s average climbs in smooth conditions. A Russian girl showed me her vario from her mid-day flight and it showed a 12.9m/s climb!!

I flew from the chairlift once - and then they decided to stop it for maintanance for a week.... so now we are flying from a site we can drive too. There was cloud Saturday and we only did top to bottoms, then we got some good conditions today. The landing field is next to this village - which is a gypsy village. There are heaps of little kids on the landing area all trying to get your attention and convince you to give them some money.

This valley is called the Valley of the Roses, as they produce lots of roses to make into rose oils. I hope i have figured which fields not to land in.

It has all been a bit of a rough week. Thursday I was told of a friend in NZ who has very seriously injured to his back through crashing his paraglider. This was pretty shocking as you always categorize people into conservative, safe, reckless, ignorant, stupid, etc and he is definitely a safe and conservative pilot with lots of knowledge.
Then today there was an accident in Sopot where a pilot 360ed into the hillside. He is in the hospital having surgery. I don’t know how serious his injuries will be. This accident was more predictable, as there were many factors leading to his accident – new wing (quite hot for him), not flown in 6 months, not flying the flight plan given to him by the instructor.
Nobody tries to have accidents but when there are enough variables accidents do become less avoidable. So now in one week I know of two accidents that will certainly result in long rehabilitation times and possible paralysis. I love paragliding so much that I couldn’t stop, and yet I have been scared by this. This afternoon something changed and it came together. I had a great flight where I explored the mountains, did some birdseye geology, flew with some bird of prey in a thermal, hung with some friends who were thermalling for the first time, checked out some mountain huts, annoyed some cows (hehe) and had a great landing. It was perfect.

Tomorrow I will fly then go to Plodoviv where I can hopefully catch a train to Istanbul. I am meeting hoards of kool kiwis and do the pilgrimage to Galipoli.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thanks guys :-)

Just a quick update before i go on HOLIDAY!!!!

Thanks heaps to Jenn £20 and Jane $30 for their help... Yay we are getting lots of money together (now i just have to purchase the goodies - the fun bit!)

I am going to be in Yerevan for a couple of days at the start of May and will buy the stationary, some wool etc then, and will be talking to some NGO's to purchase a hearing aid. We might even get enough extra monies together to get some glasses for another of the residents.

I'll be talking chickens with the local village leader when i get back... (just thinking about that makes me giggle!)

I am off to Bulgaria tomorrow in the middle of the night these flights are the joy of out-of-the-way airports (i think the landing fees are cheaper in the big airports if you get there at silly times).
Well, hopefully next time i blog it will be about Paragliding and fun!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

More contributions

Just to keep everyone posted on the contributions:

Big thanks to:

Gabe and Jamie for their $30
Roy gave a few thousand dram (~$6)
Karen for offering to send some more knitting stuff
Mythre who has already given me a bag full of stationary, pencils, pens etc.

Please, if you are still intending to contribute let me know before tuesday as i am trying to ge this tidied up before i go on Holiday!!!

Knitting vs the Olympics

Thanks Karen that would be an awesome contribution! I am in the process of letting everyone know details now. I am technologically challenged right now, I have had no internet at home for the last week.

I am surprised at the number of knitters there are out there! They are quietly taking over the world. I feel like I should become part of the revolution or risk being left behind. Can you imagine a mafia of knitters throughout the world? That is what it seems sometimes. It is cool that there are some passions that unite strangers from different cultures.

A bit like the Olympics really, except that this year the Olympics aren’t really uniting people. Olympic spirit and human rights should go hand in hand – or surely that is the point? I have watched some of the demonstrations during the Olympic flame ceremonies and I am not-so-secretly cheering on the protesters. At the same time, I would hate to see the Olympics cancelled, or boycotted, as the real people to suffer are the athletes. Life will continue for most, but they have dedicated their lives to sport and winning the Olympics.

Growing up I don’t know a single little kid who didn’t want to compete on the Olympics. I was going to be a discus thrower, then later, a hockey player. I might have made it if I didn’t damage my shoulder but the thing is that the Olympics is about rising above the problems and issues and uniting. China is getting an extremely strong and loud message from the rest of the world now. The Tibet situation is on every TV, in every paper. I hope that China listen and react before the Olympics so that we might enjoy watching sport happy in the knowledge that there is some resolution to the problems out there.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The day after

Despite my telling everyone not to get me any pressies I am now the proud owner of a vase (which is really nice), 27 red roses (which was over the top – and I cant help but think he wants a pay rise), and a stuffed leopard/tiger (which I am concerned is going to eat my less carnivorous stuffed ducks).

I had one of my girls bring in the most delicious and elaborately decorated cake, which was wonderful and I had friends over for dinner, which turned into a bunch of rowdy people chanting to my mother (as I was on the phone to her) Lucy, Lucy, Lucy…

The results of that night of red wine, beef stroganoff and apple crumble is now a headache the size of Africa.

So, in summary it was a good birthday!

BTW – there are more good Samaritans to add to the list:

Kris H - $40
Derek - $60
Ron - $60

Total so far: $460!!!

Thanks everyone! Any and all contributions are fantastic and will go a long way towards helping a small number of people out…

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Its time to give something back...

In a day it is my birthday. Of course everyone I know already knows this (dont you!!)…. If you have forgotten don’t worry, you can fix your guilty conscience easily. Give me some money!

I am not going to throw a party, or take everyone out for dinner. I am not even going to buy myself a pressie (although that is tempting). I am going to purchase some gifts and give them to the homeless old people’s home. There is one shelter in our region where people over the age of 70, with no family, no property and no money can go. The home opened 18 months ago, and is currently only open to 10 people. The rest of the rooms still needs renovating and eventually up to 30 people can reside there.

So, this plan started last week when we visited to see what they needed a few days after the Red Cross event. The cost of renovations is high, but there are ways of helping these people without spending lots of money. We have put together a list of the items with their help and now I am hoping that you guys will pledge some money toward some of these

Items they would like:
The old people have nothing to do. They get provided food, and nice clean accommodation, hot water and washing machines but they have no recreation. Almost all of them are rural people and they have asked for some chickens to farm. They will look after them, and will be able to eat the eggs. The old people’s diet is incredibly simple and some good source of protein like eggs will be a huge benefit health wise.

Chickens approx $10 each we want to get 10 + rooster = $110
So Come On - BUY A CHICKEN TODAY... but wait there's more!!!

The ladies (there are currently 9 woman residents) would also like to knit. If they had some needles and wool they could even make items to sell, by doing this they will pay for the wool. We would like to buy knitting needles and wool to get them started. This is the meaning of sustainable development!

Knitting needles and wool $50 +

The lady on the left is very craft oriented, the one on the right writes poetry. If there were more materials for them then maybe others will join in. They would like some stationary, paper, pens, paints and craft materials.

Craft materials approximately $50 +

Finally, there is one resident who is both deaf and blind. She has no contact with the outside world, When I visited she just sat on the bench totally oblivious to everything happening around her. She was sitting and rolling some beads between her fingers while everyone else was pretty animated (for 90 year olds that is!). Imagine living in such a lonely world… But we can purchase her a hearing aid, so she could at least hear what is happening in the world around her.

Dont know yet - maybe $300

You can give in a number of ways, either deposit money electronically into one of my bank accounts in NZ, UK or Armenia… send me cash (not recommended) or pledge the money to me to pay me when you see me…. (I will have a memory like an elephant). I will email my account numbers to anyone who asks.
If we exceed the totals above then we will also look at hearing aids for other people and some basic foodstuffs.

Running tally:

Lucy (that is me) $100
Mum- £50 (half to chickens, half to hearing aid)
Rachel P- $100 to anything
Penny – All her knitting equipment and extra wool that she is leaving Armenia when she goes home to USA.

So come on, let me know if you can help out a few less fortunate people, who knows, it might be you one day.