Bibliophilia Amongst A Flotilla: Word on the Water…A Book Barge

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Have you ever stumbled upon something so cool and unique that you wished you were the first to discover it ( `a la Christopher Columbus)? This happened to me recently as I exited Paddington Station in Central London.  I came across Word on the Water, without a doubt the quirkiest book store in the land…or shall I say on the water.

There is nothing that tickles my fancy like a good book. Add water and a floating vessel and I am feeling like I’m on cloud 9. Word on the Water is all that…it’s a book store, it’s a barge and  it’s one of those places that can make even myself, clad in mum jeans and a shirt decorated with mysterious baby stains feel fabulous.

As I crossed the velvet rope that draped across the doorway I met Paddy Screech the man behind the books. Paddy can be described as being on par with the lifestyle; reading glasses atop his head, almost professor-esque but the type that you would enjoy sitting in on his lectures because he fearlessly goes against the grain. His demeanour was chilled out, not at all hurried, sorting through piles of classic literature to put out for display. Patient and obviously confident, certainly a skill he honed while working for numerous years with the homeless and those with addictions. He’s been doing this for 3 years, moving up and down the waters every 2 weeks selling and acquiring books along the way. Thankfully, they may have found their home outside of Paddington Station.

Classics, rare finds, and one of a kind pieces line the shelves. Many of the books are donated or picked up from second hand shops and sold here on the water. There is even a section of children’s books.

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It’s not just the discounted books that makes Word on the Water inviting, It’s also the atmosphere. The patrons are a hodgepodge of  yummy mummy’s, those on a slow stroll, students and dog walkers; people out enjoying a day on the canal. The resident cats, Queenie and Skitty lazily hang out on vintage leather chairs almost posing. Those along the footpath are drawn in from the mix of music playing over the speakers, peeking in with curiosity. On this day, an instrumental of “Royals” by Lorde has me tapping my foot on the wooden floorboard as a I thumb through pages. I like this, I like it a lot.

*For my fellow pram pushers, you will be pleased to know that the visit to Word on the Water has an added bonus: Paddington Station has step free access  making Word on the Water easily accessible for us mummy’s and daddy’s that love a good discounted read.*

If you are looking to visit Word on the Water or simply want to donate Like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wordonthewater and Follow them on Twitter (@wordonthewater) for updates and hours of operation.

 

The Bookshop has a thousand books, All colors, hues, and tinges,

And every cover is a door That turns on magic hinges

~Nancy Byrd Turner

Cocoa Loves The Kids #RAOK #HelpMob

A few weeks ago “P” and I along with baby NuNu linked up once again with fellow Helpmobers to do some good. The Free Help Guy had once again pulled off another clever helping event. We gathered at a location near London Bridge, under the instruction of bringing 5-10 things that we wouldn’t mind parting with. A few dresses and shirts, NuNu brought a few of her baby clothes that had gotten too small but barely worn. We were raising funds. We sold several items and in the end we were handed a brown envelope containing a letter, and a plastic bag holding a tenner and a 2 pound coin (our portion of the divided raised funds).

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The letter had instructions on what to do next.

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Armed with the letter and money we accepted the challenge. This is our Random Act of Kindness:

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Since “Cocoa Loves The Kids”, I thought that it would only be fitting for us to give something to some very special little ones. We purchased big boxes of crayons, colouring books, word puzzles/books and took them over to the hospitalized children at St. Mary’s Hospital (London), Grand Union Children’s Ward. Grand Union Children’s Ward specializes in Bone Marrow  transplants and treats children with infectious diseases, many of them on isolation.

It was all greatly appreciated. A big thanks to The Free Help Guy for helping us to help others!

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In the London area and want to get involved? Follow The Free Help Guy on Twitter and Like the Facebook Page to find out when and where the HelpMob will strike next.

One of the most difficult things to give away is kindness, for it is usually returned” ~ Mark Ortman

What are some of your ideas for Random Acts of Kindness?

Cocoa and Chibi…Elephant Riding at Antelope Park, Gweru

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Looking for a top rated Safari Camp? Antelope Park is the place to go. Situated in Gweru in southern Zimbabwe, Antelope Park is everything that you could possibly desire in a safari camp all laid out on over 3000 acres of plush greenlands.  The grounds are spectacular, right on the edge of a quaint lake with picnic tables, coffee shop and a restaurant for dining. It has everything that you need plus more.

Antelope Park is your location if you are looking for an all around “African Safari Experience” without having to go to several locations. The park has a menu of attractions to choose from that include but not limited to Lion Walks/Feedings, Cub Viewing, Night Encounters, Bush Walk, Snake Induction, Fishing, Horse and Elephant Rides as well as boat and canoe hire along with a variety of accommodation options. We were only at the park for a short visit but I saw it as the perfect opportunity to check off one of the items on my “Life List” (My version of a bucket list)….I HAD TO ride an elephant!

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I have had a love for elephants for years. I would go to the circus just to see them. As a youngster I admired my Mom’s collection of elephant figurines wondering what it would be like to touch one, to get up close and feed one peanuts. Short of joining the payroll of Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus, I couldn’t have ever dreamed that I would get this opportunity…and so I did it!

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Being very honest, I was so nervous that it felt like a first date. My hands were super sweaty and I was smiling like a schoolgirl. We mounted these huge African Elephants as they knelt down and gently hoisted us up to remarkable heights.  The moment came, it was me, a Pachyderm and a guide that I am sure thought that I had lost my mind as I was clinching on to him for dear life. I was riding Chibi a female, while “P” was on the male elephant, at that moment I felt as if I was in a very exotic dream, seeing the African bush through the eyes of a surprisingly graceful, multi ton beast.

As luck would have it we spotted giraffe off in the distance and our guides took us to get a closer look! Not only did we ride elephants but we were riding beside feeding giraffe. Our guides were extremely knowledgeable elephant trainers and they took us on what would be one of the most unforgettable experiences during our trip to Zimbabwe. They informed us of the background of our elephants as well as the history of Antelope Park and most importantly they kept us safe!

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My initial fear and anxiety ceased and before long I was comfortable enough to hold on to my guide with one hand and rest the other on Chibi’s back. There was something very spiritual about the ride. I felt a closeness with nature as I had never felt before. Feeling the breeze from a height that I had never been along with the African sun kissing my shoulders. I was in a calm place. That feeling that you get after an intense meditation session, as if you have been in a completely undisturbed state of rest with no interruptions and no thoughts. Just you, outside of yourself, living in the NOW.  I didn’t want it to end.

After we returned to our starting point we were allowed to take photos with the elephants and touch them. I was in heaven!

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Antelope Park offers an array of activities and a wide range of accommodation options that will satisfy everyone from the serious nature enthusiasts to those that like a bit of nature along with their creature comforts. Lodges can be booked as well as the camping area and river tents.

Visit www.antelopepark.co.zw for specials and more information.

Elephant Ride was $32 (US) per person  for 30 minutes and Park Entry is $10 per person. Though the park entry fee is a  bit pricey, the experience was well worth it. Antelope Park is a place that my family will return to for sure.

Extras:

I was still excited. Big or small, elephants are elephants, after all. Just before we mounted, when I was sure no one could see me, I quickly kissed the shoulder of my beast and murmured, ‘Hey, sweetie.’
‘Hey, darlin’.” That was Tonio, appearing suddenly by my shoulder. He gave me a laughing look that suggested he was either amused by or attracted to women who kiss elephants for no good reason.”

~Karen Lord, The Best of All Possible Worlds

Borough Market…A Foodie’s Paradise

Borough Market, in Southwark, London is  right on the edge of London Bridge and can be described with one word for those with a fondness for food …Heaven. Bliss even. Borough Market is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London. This is the place that you should go when you want a variety of quality food.

Cheeses, chocolates,  macaroons, cupcakes, piles of meringue,  fresh fish/meats and my favourite to taste…vegetarian fair are amongst the many items that you can find.  Borough Market is indeed a foodie’s paradise with over 70 stalls of delicious delights.

I wasn’t able to take many photos  because I was very busy exploring my culinary options but these are the few shots that I took in between stuffing my face.

*Photos do not represent all that is available at Borough Market but very telling of my greediness! Food Before Photos!

Feast your eyes on this:

For more info on Borough Market, it’s opening times and traders visit: http://boroughmarket.org.uk/

People who love to eat are always the best people.” ~Julia Child

The Nosy Traveler

CONFESSION: I am a side reader. If you sit beside me with a book, magazine, any form of literature or an open electronic device, I will read it! Literally, this is a warning…DO NOT SIT BESIDE ME because I will be all in your mess.This is totally something that I did not know about myself until I started using public transport.

My first few times catching the tube I would see people riding and reading with people peering over their shoulder. I thought to myself, “The nerve” but within months I found myself joining in. To date I can’t count how many excerpts I have read of classic literature,  how many snippets of emails and oddly entertaining half typed texts that have scrolled across my view. I read handwritten notes, the poorly written paper being graded by the teacher that I’m sitting beside and even the notes being studied by the med student across from me. To that one guy that decides it is a good idea to break out a full laptop in a crowded train to put the finishing touches on a report that is due…yeah, I’m all in that!

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It is a well known fact that you get some of your most enjoyable reading done while commuting and it is second nature for people to take a glance at what other people have going on. I know, I know, it is utterly and completely rude and sometimes creepy. Oddly, even though it is a bad habit that I have managed to pick up, it seems that I am not alone. While you’re sitting there clutching your pearls, judging me, I will have you know that  loads of you partake in this past time. Whether consciously or not,  you are just as nosy as I am. During my unofficial research I have figured out that there are five types of sneak readers. Where do you belong?

The Crane This person will nearly break their neck trying to get their eyes on what someone else is reading. They can be spotted with a crane like arch in their necks peering over shoulders and over top of heads. No shame in this persons game. They came to read your personal ramblings and aren’t afraid for others to know.

140311_142232 The Side Reader This is me. This individual makes a slight attempt to conceal the fact that they are all in your business by giving your material a serious dose of side eye. They side eye your magazine and your book. They have read your entire diary without turning their heads. The only problem with this is you will have no idea that you have fallen victim to the side reader but the people around you are aware as they are in full view of the unnatural slant of the culprits eyes.

The Giraffe This is typically the tall person in the crowd or either the person standing in front of a row of seats. They look as if they are just standing there but really they aren’t. They are “top reading”. If you take a moment and pull your nose out of that Jane Austen, you will see them all around you.

The Wanderer Of all of the types this is the most professional. They peep with a purpose. They know that this 15 minutes that they have in close quarters will be their only opportunity to catch up on their daily news, celebrity gossip and anything else that will connect them to today’s happenings.  They take this time to get it in. You can catch them spot reading one thing after the next, almost frantically but with a very peculiar discriminative purpose.

The Shoulder Surfer Ever rode a wave? If so then you are familiar with the feeling of bobbing that goes along with it. You could practically get sea sick watching the Shoulder Surfer in action. Their victim is aware of their existence and in an attempt to make them back off they are constantly moving their reading material making the surfer’s head look like a bouy at high tide.

As you mull over the list and think to yourself, “How dare she!”, keep in mind that I was once a proper southern gal and now I am the product of city life. I mean, what do you expect? It is the London transport system for crying out loud.

We are practically in an intimate situation. We are face to face.  I can smell the cedar notes in your cologne and I can detect that you had entirely too many onions on that bap you had for lunch. Additionally, you have comfortably placed your briefcase on my thigh. As to not feel completely and shamefully used by you, at the very least we could share a read!

In every bit of honesty I don’t want to come off rude and I will admit that I despise having this done to me (shame!). Funny enough, I am typing this up while on my evening commute on the tube. As I sit here I notice that I have a few Giraffes, a Side Reader and  an overeager Wanderer making an attempt to get a glance of what has me smirking. I have managed to shield off the Giraffe and the Wanderer has moved on to something more exciting but this Side Reader is relentless! Uuurgh!

I tuck my tablet away in standard passive aggressive fashion and without a moment of hesitation I find myself on my own course of sneak reading. This time the words are plastered on a backpack which read nothing other than the word…KARMA. 140311_154109

Victoria Falls…The Smoke That Thunders

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Victoria Falls (named for Queen Victoria) is a dynamic waterfall located in southern Africa forming on the Zambezi River at the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The falls are known locally as Mosi-O-Tunya meaning “the smoke that thunders” because of the huge clouds of mist that erupt into the air and come crashing down that can be seen from miles away.

Listed as a World Heritage Site because of it’s cultural and physical significance, Victoria Falls is often considered one of the largest waterfalls in the world. Absolutely, the most stunning natural formation that I have ever laid my eyes on.  It’s immediately apparent why Victoria Falls is considered one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

As you walk the trails that run alongside the falls there is a feel of an enchanted rain forest. Baboon and monkeys scurrying across the pathway, canopy of indigenous trees and plant life, the sounds of the waterfall crashing down, rainbows and the thick mist from the spray. It is serenity at it’s very best. I couldn’t resist taking tons of photos and video but I know that even the best moment captured with my amateur camera couldn’t completely put into focus what my eyes were seeing. The beauty was overwhelming.

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There are several viewpoints along the walk lined with vine barriers that wrap around to keep spectators from falling. Many of them have benches structured from tree trunks, stone formations beaten from the rushing current and  each offers a different view of the spectacular falls. At the end of the trail there is an amazing view of Victoria Falls Bridge which leads to the Zambia side of the falls. At this lookout point brave adventurers can be seen plummeting head first directly over the great Zambezi, bungee jumping from the bridge. Awesome to watch but even my curious spirit wouldn’t let me try it!

Visiting the Falls?

The pathways that run along the falls are paved and rather smooth (considering) which make it easily accessible for those in wheelchairs and it was so easy to push NuNu in her pram. I recommend having a rain cover for the pram and raincoats as you will be completely soaked from the spray of the falls. I also recommend taking a plastic or water proof bag to carry your electronics to avoid water damage.

Victoria Falls, hands down an unforgettable experience.

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Water is precious; it is the very source of life and a free gift from the Creator.” -Desmond M. Tutu

NuNu Meets Her Great Grandma

On the journey through Zimbabwe we embarked on the greatest, most important part of the trip…uniting NuNu with her Great Grandmother!

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What a joy, In her 90’s (not for certain of her age exactly), Granny was so excited to meet her great granddaughter. What was just as exciting was that NuNu, having spent the last month stumbling and falling decides to take off walking at a slow but steady pace with the guidance of her Great Grandma. It was such a special moment!

They danced, they played, they sang! It was such a blessing to have them together and to capture such wonderful memories.

Grandmas garden:

There are only two lasting bequests that we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings.” ~Hodding Carter Jr.