Book Review: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

Blurb: “Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all, they must journey to find each other again.”

Genre: Historical Fiction, War Fiction, War Novel, Novel

Goodreads Rating: 4.2/5

My Rating: 5/5

THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS


This book was something special. I’ve never read anything quite as moving as this book before. I had literally added this book to my reading list and then the next day walked into Waterstones and it was there on the stand in front of me (pre Covid-19 lockdown 3 in the UK). So naturally I picked it up and bought it. I read it within 3 days. It was stunning and breathtaking so I’m going to tell you (and show you) why.

First I loved the way this book was written. It goes from the present to the past, Nuri and Afra’s journey travelling from Aleppo to the UK. There is absolutely no small feat about this journey, their motivation is inspiring. We see their time seeking asylum in the UK and between these chapters we learn about their journey to the UK and their struggles with PTSD, but the way this is shown in the book is pretty and nothing I’ve ever seen before. The last word of the present is the first word of the past flashback and is displayed in the middle of the page in a beautiful illustration as you can see below.

The journey itself that they have made is just incredible. From Aleppo to the car journeys through Syria, having to duck down in the back of trucks and lie about where they were going. To the boat crossings in their small dingy, wearing life jackets and the awful waves throwing people overboard. Potentially losing Mohammed overboard causing Nuri to jump in the water after him, Mohammed being a young boy Nuri has taken responsibility for after he was on his own, almost a replacement for Sammi without realising. And when they reach the camps, Mohammed disappears. So Nuri looses the one thing that even slightly brought him comfort as he resembled and was significant with the loss of Sammi. But when Nuri is in the UK, he still sees Mohammed in his dreams and feels Mohammed is trying to tell him something or point him back to the direction of his wife, back in the direction of goodness, although it doesn’t always end well once he wakes up.

The camps sounded horrendous and it made me realise that people are actually dealing with this in real life. It made me glad to hear that they were given shelter, food and clothes after their horrendous boat ride, but what about when these camps are full? There is a lot of talk through the book of ‘The camps are full‘ and ‘they’ve closed the borders’ so their next part of their journey will be a struggle and thats where the illegal smugglers come in. Giving these people their trust and their money to get them to where they need to be. there is a period of time where they are in Italy. They are sleeping in a park where the volunteers for Red Cross brought them too, and left them there. Afra does not feel safe yet they manage to make a friend as safety in numbers. But awful things happen here, and instead of waiting for salvation that never comes from the Red Cross Nuri takes it into his own hands and they pay a smuggler to get them to the UK.

I feel for me this book is eye opening. This is happening in real life. REAL people are going through REAL situations and trauma like this, and we are treating them like animals and not offering asylum when they people have experienced WAR and had everything destroyed. They have no where else to go. And although in the books they are offered food, shelter and clothes, are they offered this in real life? Most likely not. I’ll be posting some links at the bottom of this review if you would like to donate to refugee relief.

I sympathised with pretty much all of the main characters, they have all been displaced and hit with the horrors of war. A horror that I could not even dream of experiencing or knowing what they are going through. So when Afra originally refuses to leave Aleppo amongst all the ruins because it is where their son Sammi is buried after he was killed in a bomb explosion, my heart breaks for them. I feel so upset for them because they had such a beautiful life in Aleppo before, Nuri tending the bees with his best friend Mustafa, so passionate about the bees and learning their motives and harvesting the honey and Afra and their son Sammi dining and relaxing with Mustafas family. Everything was happy and bright and colourful. And it had all been left in ruins. I can feel the desperation through out the book for a better life, when Afra explains she “doesn’t like this place” or when Nuri explains she “lays in bed all day” I just feel deflated for them and all that they are going through. Their motivation to get to the UK is that Mustafa is there and has started a new business with the bees and Nuri is going to help him as soon as he can when he gets to the UK, some sort of normality and what they were used too in Aleppo. That small slice of home.

It is interesting to learn that Afra is blind due to the horrendous things she has seen. She witnessed the bomb kill her child. War destroy her city. Due to this trauma she is blind, but not blind. She is blind and cannot see from trauma, but her sight will come back over time. This was interesting to me as I did not realise this could happen but it very much can when dealing with immense amounts if life changing stress which made me sympathise for her more. But what made me really feel things is when even though she could see, she still coloured in the colouring books Nuri bought her.

They have also come away/apart from each other in a time where they need each other most. All the way through you can see that Nuri loves his wife, but he has moved so far away from her as Afra has from him. They are withdrawn from each other through this trauma although they rely on each other more than ever. So when at the end, after making it to the UK and seeing Mustafa again, they are drawn back to each other with that feeling of hope and happiness to help them it makes me so overwhelmingly happy. They went through so much together so to finally find themselves back in each others arms made me so elated and honestly, I cried.

This book is eye-opening, harrowing, and with so much depth, an absolute testament to the triumph of human spirit and motivation. I voted this book 5/5 and say that you go and get this book now and Ive never felt so passionately about a book in this way. If you would like to donate to refugee relief there are some links below for you.

My Best Books of January 2021

Out of the 6 books I read in January these are my top choices in a brief summary! There are only two that I considered incredible, although I enjoyed every book that I read this month so far. So let’s get into it!

The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri

“Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all, they must journey to find each other again.”

This book was quite frankly one of the best books I’ve read in a while, this book has moved me so heavily, it is eye opening, harrowing, a true show of determination and seeking out a better life. Nuri and Afra’s life is completely changed and what they go through and what they experience is like no other. No book has had an effect on me like this has. Donate to refugee charities if you can, show others you love them and never take what we have for granted. Do yourself a favour and go read this book. 5/5 rating, absolutely incredible.

I will be posting a much more in depth review on this book later on in the month so stay tuned!


The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood

“Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now . . . “

I read this book after my sister recommended the TV series and I like to read the books before I watch the films or TV Shows and books are always better! and this book did not disappoint, I see in other reviews this book can be marked as satire but lord above, how? I found this book very dark and dystopian. I loved the way it was written, with little context straight away and with no introduction to anything really it leaves your imagination to run wild whilst following this journey of Offred’s in a life she isn’t used too. I rated this book 4/5 but enjoyed it thoroughly and thats why I rated this book one of the best ones of the month. Im looking forward to getting book #2 The Testaments because I need to know what happens next.

I will be posting amore in depth review on this book later on in the month so stay tuned!

The Peak District – Bakewell

With our check out of our little cottage in Eyam being at 11am we decided we weren’t quite ready to go yet and wanted to go and get some food together before going our separate ways. We were in just the right spot to go exploring somewhere else so we decided to head to the infamous Bakewell!

Bakewell is known for it’s world famous Bakewell tarts. And they really are top notch if you haven’t had a Bakewell tart before I definitely recommend it. For those who aren’t aware a Bakewell tart is pastry with jam inside and a layer of frangipane with a cherry on top! topped with some almonds traditionally. I think the cherry was a recent one. So of course being in Bakewell we headed straight to the Famous Shop and Cafe!

I didn’t buy a Bakewell tart from the shop itself but now I’m looking back at it I regret it massively because I could really eat one of them right about now.

Once we were done in the shop we next walked through the high streets because me being the moany cow I am I needed new shoes. I had a massive hole in my shoes because they were at least two year old Vans and unfortunately discovered with very wet toes that they had this hole in.

Bakewell itself was really lovely with stone buildings and architecture all through the streets, as you walk into Bakewell you walk over a stone bridge with the river running underneath. Its such a pretty old town and I understand why its so popular! (Not just for the Bakewell tarts).

We had lunch booked at Piedaniels just of the high street in Bakewell (Pronounced Pee-eh-daniels, the best description I could use). It was such a beautiful restaurant I can’t say I felt dressed for the occasion especially in my broken Vans. I absolutely sat at the dinner table with one shoe on and the other on the radiator (the shoe shop was not successful).

We had 3 courses and it was so tasty, for starter I had French Onion soup which was delicious, followed by Duck Breast for main and a lovely fruity sponge pudding for dessert with a tonne of custard all whilst in amazing company. It was a little more on the expensive side but the food was definitely worth the money, the service was fantastic and the atmosphere was pleasant. I’d definitely go again if we had the chance!

Couldn’t have asked for a better trip with better people and a glorious few days off work walking and catching up. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone and it’s probably going to be a while until we see everyone again with lockdown happening again, but I’m glad we managed a trip and can’t wait to do it again when we can!

The Peak District – Cottage Living

After all of us being put through our paces since being back at work a well deserved Covid 19 permitted trip was definitely on the card. After Jack and Maddie had stated they were going to the peaks for a week and an invite later we were on our way to Eyam in the peaks for 4 days to do some walking, talking and chilling.

So a little bit of history! Eyam, where we stayed for the week, in the Peak District is also known as The Plague Village. After being able to keep themselves free of the Bubonic Plague a tailor received a fabrics delivery from London. Making clothes and other bits for the villagers the tailor unknowingly spread the Bubonic Plague around the village after the fabric contained lice and other factors which helped contribute to the spread of the disease. The village itself saw more death than London itself! The village is really historical where you can visit the museum and learn about how the village made a comeback. There’s also lots of historical plaques outside houses where you can learn who died there and how, what their trade was etc.

Maddie found the cosiest cottage to stay in! It was absolutely so beautiful, it had a fireplace in both the lounge and the kitchen which made it super warm. it had everything we could’ve asked for, there was even enough beds for our friend Mason to join us on the Thursday night!

There was a beautiful pink themed double room that Brad and I stayed in, there was another triple room for Maddie and the boys. There was a really lovely outdoor seating area upstairs but we didn’t use it once as it overlooked everyones garden so instead we used the outdoor seating area outside the front of the cottage which was just as lovely. There were two bathrooms and the sitting room had a beautiful open fire and enough seats to relax, stay warm and catch up, plus a fully stocked book shelf! The kitchen was also fully operational, we had all the pots and pans, literally the works so we could cook every morning and night and prepare lunch for our walks. We had all sorts, Maddie cooked the first night, Brad the following and we also met my sister and her man for some pub grub! We had some really lovely food, Jack was on cocktail duty and I made pancakes on our last morning in the cottage!

On our first night we decided to go for a walk around the village! We headed up the hills behind the cottage and had a cute rendezvous with some sheep in a field which were really cute. We then found a pub just down the road so we sat outside and had some hot and alcoholic drinks. I wish I had more pictures of the village but I did get plenty of video footage! So it is definitely worth heading over to look at my youtube footage of the trip!

SW Coastal Road Trip Day 7 – Bath, Stonehenge, Home

The dreaded last day of the road trip, it definitely had a downward feeling about it. I wish we could’ve been going for a little bit longer and seen a little bit more!

So after spending a nice relaxed morning we decided to head for some breakfast which was included in our stay at the Pig and Fiddle. Breakfast was SO tasty, so well cooked and beautifully presented. It tasted absolutely amazing and perfect kick starter for the day ahead!

We had some time to explore Bath so decided to go for a wonder and see the beautiful sandstone bridge that is Pulteney Bridge and the water running underneath! We walked over the bridge as well! We also had a look at the parade gardens and definitely had a look at the beautiful Bath Abbey as well. Bath has some of the most beautiful architecture of any English city I have seen so far. Just absolutely breath-taking.

Once we had had a small exploration walk around we decided to go for a pint at The Boater which boasted the largest beer garden in Bath city centre! It was a lovely day so we had some refresher drinks before we packed the car up and headed onto our last stop of the whole trip! Sad times!

Last on the agenda once the car was all packed up, was heading to Stonehenge!

Now I’d always wanted to go to Stonehenge so I am so glad we managed to go when we did, it was nice and warm as well! When we arrived, because you have to pre book tickets, we got all check in at the ticket desk and received our welcome packs. I believe the tickets, of the top of my head, were £24 per person. Now personally, I felt it really honesty wasn’t worth this price. But to see and help British heritage some things have to be to be done in the name of tourism!

Once we headed through we had a look at some of the history behind Stonehenge, they had huts which they believe those who created Stonehenge lived in and also a demonstration of how they believe they moved the stones to where they are now. It was really interesting. Once we had brushed up on our history it was time to go to THE Stonehenge. One thing they forgot to mention? THE WALK.

Easily a mile and a half and took us a good half hour 40 minutes especially in the heat. You could have gotten the shuttle bus to and from the stones but with Covid-19 so prominent then and the social distancing on the bus it would have been quicker for you to walk. So that’s exactly what we did and my god it was so LONG. Although halfway you do learn about the surrounding areas and how the people who created Stonehenge also adapted farmland, I just couldn’t get over the distance you had to walk! Only when you get there to continue to walk around it! But that was fine because once we were there it was really nice and so cool to be up close to something so historical! Then the dreaded walk back, which went fairly quickly!


We arrived back at the car and realised this was it. It was our last part of the trip before we headed home. It was a sad moment as we drove past Stonehenge (as you can see it clearly from the road as well!) and realised it was back to normality, or as normal as it could be right now.

I’d never done something like this before and since doing this I’ve had road trip fever, to the point that I’m looking to go to Iceland and road trip all of Route 1 around the country. It also made me realise that there is SO MUCH in this beautiful country to see, you just have to get up and get going! We definitely want to do this again, so many great and fun memories, all the things we’ve experienced and the friends we’ve seen, next time I want to go up north and explore Scotland and the highlands, especially John O’Groates! The most Northern part of the UK! This is on experience I don’t think the two of us will ever forget.

Here is to ‘Visiting England’ as they say and making more of my home country!

Thank you so much for reading my road trip series, if you’d like to check out the Video head to the link here! 🙂

The Peak District – B29 Overexposed wreckage walk

Once I got wind we were heading to the peak district ironically, a Tiktok came up on my feed about a crash site up in the mountains! The B29 Bomber plan crash and i love dark tourism so this was an awesome find. So upon learning it was also half an hour away from where we were staying I had to suggest it to the group and luckily they were down for it.

So we jumped in the car with our packed lunches, walking boots in the boot, our raincoats and drove down Snake Road and stopped on the side of the road which has limited parking as it was basically like a lay by either side of the road, right at the start of the walk!

It wasn’t the most beautiful sunny day and it had been raining the day before so the main pathway was like a mini waterfall with water running along side and down the actual path itself. Nothing too unbearable for us in our walking boots, although I did feel sorry for Jack who was in just his NIKE trainers for the walk. We saw some beautiful waterfalls and had a beautiful hike, it was so much fun to do because I’ve only ever been to the lakes before with my parents for Christmas and New Years not with friends so it was such an enjoyable walk.

Once we got to the very top we came across the B2 Bomber Plane Overexposed crash site. It was definitely an experience I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

So a little history. The B29 Bomber Plane was making a renaissance journey back to base with 13 passengers on board, including the pilots. Unfortunately the visibility was incredibly poor that day and its believed that they didn’t even see the ground before they hit it. The plane was destroyed and all 13 of the passengers died on impact. The wreckage is still up on the moors to this day (of course we you can walk there!). Its incredibly interesting and there is a mural for the remembrance of these soldiers.

Once we had walked through the wreckage of the plane we walked to the summit which was literally just beside the site. The views were absolutely outstanding and it was decided our lunch spot for the afternoon! Once we were done it was time to make our way back to the path! Now admittedly we when en route to the site went only slightly of piste, and because of this decided we could do the same walking back and in the process got, not exactly lost? But we definitely went the wrong way, we even climbed up a waterfall in the process! it was fun and exciting and just when Jack and I were looking at the map to find the path both Brad and Maddie turned around and were like guys, we found it!

We managed to stay dry most of the day as well until literally 30 metres from the car jack decided to stand in a large deep puddle. So nearly all of us stayed dry the whole way!

How to keep busy on your flights, Long Haul & Short Haul!

How do you keep busy when you’re flying?

I love flying with a passion, but it can be hard to find things to do whilst you’re up in the air especially on long haul flights! Its so important to keep yourself calm and busy during your flights, it makes them that much more entertaining and enjoyable. Here’s a few ides of how you can keep yourself occupied!

Reading – Get yourself a good book and settle down for the ride ahead. I find with short haul flights its a perfect time killer for 2 hours (for example) to get proper stuck in to a good book to keep occupied. Even with long haul it does a good job to kill a period of time, and if you get bored you can always put it down and come back to it later on in the flight as well. Here are some good book recommendations;

  • The Wives – Tarryn Fisher
  • Recursion – Blake Crouch
  • This is going to hurt – Adam Kay
  • Finding Emma – Steena Holmes
  • Wayward Pines Series – Blake Crouch
  • Normal People – Sally Rooney
  • The Tattooist of Auchwitz – Heather Morris
  • The Secret Race: Inside the hidden world of the Tour De France: Doping, Cover-ups and winning at all costs – Tyler Hamilton
  • Two Brothers – Ben Elton
  • Less – Andrew Sean Greer
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Road
  • Wonder – R. J. Palacio
  • Turtles All the way Down – John Green

Watch a Movie or TV Show – Especially if they are offering on board entertainment. They usually have so many great options and its a perfect pastime when they have something you want to watch that you’ve never seen. Even watch multiple movies, I love a good movie binge. I also find that sometimes I can fall asleep to movies and I always struggle to sleep on planes so its a bonus.

Journal – Write in a journal! How you’re feeling, about your trip, anything you like! And if you have a bullet journal then its the perfect time to release your creativity and do some prepping for the next month/trip in your bullet journal. Especially if you don’t like flying, this is something that can make you feel calmer as well expressing how you are feeling on the flight.

Blog – I know there isn’t any wifi in the clouds (although there is on some flights, I had an hour of free wifi on the way to Sri Lanka which was pretty awesome) but you can plan some blog posts, write some in your drafts ready to post upon your landing. Even get some pins ready for pinterest, prep some instagram posts in your drafts ready to go when you land.

Listen to Music or a Podcast – Another great pastime to set back and enjoy your favourite music or a good podcast, here are some podcast recommendations if you ever need them;

  • My Dad wrote a Porno
  • The Receipts Podcast
  • Off Menu with Ed Gamble & James Acaster
  • Unexpected Fluids
  • Shagged, Married, Annoyed
  • 3ShotsofTequila
  • Happy Place by Ferne Cotton
  • Everyday Positivity
  • Crime Junkie
  • Call Her Daddy
  • Hip Hop saved my life with Romesh Ranganathan
  • The Daily Pep!

Play a game on your phone – Make sure to download the ones that don’t require Wifi to progress! I can sometimes get too hooked on mobile games and they’re great to pass the time on the plane. I personally love Sand Balls, I’ve had this app since New Years 2020 and I am level 500+ and absolutely obsessed.

Play some card games! – Everyone loves a bit of Go Fish, Snap, Shithead, the list of card games goes on because there are SO MANY that keep you occupied for ages.

Colouring Books! – Another great, colourful and time consuming creative outlet for your journey. I LOVE a good colouring book, especially when I know its something I can keep coming back to throughout the flight if I need a break.

Take a self care kit with you. – This is SO important. Being up in the air for a long period of time really dries out your skin so take a mini self care kit! Some flights have the pleasure of giving you your own self care kit but to be on the safe side pack a little bag with moisturiser, some lip balm, maybe even some deodorant to feel fresher when you land and some baby/face/refreshing wipes as well. There is nothing worse than coming off a flight and feeling grotty and unkempt, so its a nice little ritual to have.

Learn a language – Duolingo doesn’t require any wifi as they have an offline mode so you can revise and work through your module and learn all before you arrive in the country you’re going too! Maybe even take a languages workbook with you so you have something to physically fill out and not relying on your phone applications to learn.

Sleep – One of the most important things needed to function, but like myself, not everyone can sleep on planes! Bring a facemark or use the ones they offer to you, try and get as cosy as you can and just pass out for however many hours you can on your flight. Remember to set your alarm or let the air hostess know if you don’t want to miss a meal!

What do you do to keep busy during flights? Any and all recommendations welcome!

June Reading Round Up

I haven’t managed to read as much in recent months as I have in the past few months which makes me sad, but I’ve still managed to get through a couple of books! I’ve upped my reading goal to #35 for the year and I am currently on 34 books! So I might have to up it again! Here is what I managed to read this June!

The Kiss Quotient (#1) – Helen Hoang

This was such a beautiful love story, I especially love the POV from Stella who is Autistic. I always find books like this really informative as well. As a person who doesn’t suffer from Autism its really good to know boundaries like how she doesn’t like being touched, loud room and crowded places and other points throughout the book. That made me love this couple even more, how gentle he is with her. but GOD DAMN is it one SAUCY book. I was not prepared for the amount of sex but it was definitely welcomed. I also enjoyed the cultural aspects which made it all the more interesting for me!

The Bridge Test (#2) – Helen Hoang

In this second book of the series you meet Esme from Vietnam and Khai who was introduced to us briefly in the first book, he is also autistic and it was good one again to learn his different needs and boundaries once again. Another beautiful love story and I love that it entwines well with book one and the characters and storyline from the previous book. I was hooked all the way through dying for everything to work out how it should do. I loved both of these books so much.

BUT IMAGINE FINISHING THE BOOK TO DISCOVER THE THIRD BOOK ISN’T OUT UNTIL MAY 2021, I AM GUTTED, And I also can’t wait and absolutely have it on pre-order for my Kindle already!

Two Brothers – Ben Elton

Based in Nazi Germany an absolutely heartbreaking story about a Jewish family in Berlin. I really really loved this because I love the historic aspect. I have a real morbid fascination about Holocaust books, I find them so informative to read. This story really is heartbreaking and shows the things young people will do for love, especially in such a difficult time. But I love the friendship dynamic between the 4 main characters, The Saturday Club. But if there is anything I hate, it’s Dagmar. She a bitch.

Finding Emma (#1) – Steena Holmes

I’ve been waiting to read this book for so long! And it was worth the wait, constantly something happening and I was totally hooked and waiting for the next huge thing. I Felt so sorry for Megan throughout the whole thing especially for her marriage. The ending was also everything I could have possibly wanted and more and made me really happy. I can’t say at any point I warmed to Dottie. I thought she was nasty the whole way through even though I know she was suffering.

Emma’s Secret (#2) – Steena Holmes

This book was a little more disappointing. Emma didn’t really have a secret. Well she did, but it wasn’t huge enough to name the book Emma’s Secret. I felt it was still interesting and kept me reading but I wasn’t overly impressive.

Dear Jack (#3) – Steen Holmes

Extracts from Dottie’s journals as she journals throughout the whole book. It was interesting to read her POV especially as I was always so apprehensive of Dottie and I still don’t like her very much. Although this short and sweet book made me sympathise with her more I just felt more sorry for Jack more than anything.

Less – Andrew Sean Greer

This was a book club suggestion and oh my GOD did I LOVE this. Following Arthur Less’s travel journey form country to country and as a writer and ex lover of a famous poet, not to mention the scandal that came with that, I was totally hooked by this book. It was written so well and beautifully, I just wanted to give Arthur Less a cuddle but also follow him on all his adventures.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

I’ve read this book already before but I think its just SO good that I had to re-read it. Not only is the storyline phenomenal but I love all the maths equations and the way Christopher describes things. its clear that the book isn’t about Aspergers but about being an outsider and different. I also love Toby, his pet rat.

Heres to another month of reading more books, I would LOVE some suggestions, drop me a comment for some good books!

Amsterdam – New Experiences, Canal Boat Tour!

Have you ever been Canal Boating in Amsterdam? How was your experience?

This is something that I have always wanted to do and Brad and I have visited Amsterdam before but never had the chance or opportunity to do it, so when we met Mel and Stan in Amsterdam with Kaat we decided why the hell not? I don’t think Mel, Stan & Kaat had done one before either so it was a great experience!

So we headed to Amsterdam Central. A lot of the boat tours are down by Amsterdam Central Station, we paid €18 per person for a seat on the boat which I felt was really well priced all things considered! The prices of the tour can vary from €14 to €25. They last 90 minutes and you also receive a headset to hear about the history of the things you’re passing so they didn’t have a tour operator.

Our boat had all glass windows and ceiling, the windows slid open as well so you could see out of them easier. The water was calm as you make your way around the Amsterdam canals seeing all the historical points, buildings and bridges!

We saw the Skinny Bridge which has been round since 1934 and is also made of white painted wood and has pretty lights all along the sides. Not only that but you also pass a fair few popular museums and the red light district, the Opera House and also the Munttoren tower and so many more exciting sites, architecture and scenery!

Once you’re done in the canals you head out onto the main open water area between Amsterdam North and Amsterdam Central, past the A-Dam lookout and central station. Its really a great experience and totally worth the money, its a lot of fun and gives you a chance to see a lot of Amsterdam that you might not see whilst walking around!

I would absolutely recommend one of these tours, you can also get them from other locations in the city including nearby the Rjiksmuseum if you are far away from Amsterdam Central Station.

Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan Disaster Management Centre & Colombo

Our day heading into Colombo City!

I realise I got a bit too keen and posted about how we had headed to Kandy before I was finished with the posts from Colombo, so, Enjoy!

We all jumped on the bus the next morning and headed our way into Colombo, Sri Lanka!

The plans for the day were to visit and explore Colombo, see some of the beautiful city follow by our visit to the disaster management centre and also a vegetarian lunch!

When we arrived in Colombo we all piled off the bus and went exploring through the city streets. As per usual it was sweltering and IT WAS CARNAGE, there were tuk tuks everywhere, the traffic regulations seems to be basic non-existent. We wandered through the streets, endless bikes lined up rows upon rows and loads of stalls selling every day necessities lined the walls of the streets!

We headed into a closed market area and walked between and the stalls selling clothing, toys and little trinkets, water bottles and much more! We all stocked up on toys for our future visits to the orphanages and we also felt that buying from the market stalls was more beneficial for those who were running the stalls as well.

There was people everywhere and although we were in a group of 8 we managed to get our way through the busy streets together!

Once we were finished within the markets we jumped BACK on the buss and headed to Independence Square and the arcade centre.

Heading from the centre of Colombo markets to Independence square was a complete change in scenery and we had only literally jumped back on the bus for about half an hour, you crossed over a bridge and the skyline shot upwards.

All the beautiful buildings, apartment blocks and hotels, there is even a man made ocean area on the coast of the city which they’re trying to get together after the Tsunami. I wish we had gone to the Pettah floating market, that would’ve been really cool.

Independence square & memorial hall features a fountain topped with a statue and Sri Lankan flags! Beautiful lion statues and steps, plenty of open space and was built to commemorate the Sri Lankan independence from the British Rule! There is also an independence square museum but we didn’t have enough time to head into it.

Then behind the Independence square is the Independence Square Arcade. The most beautiful and pristine shopping area I had seen so far on our Sri Lanka trip. All the buildings were pristine white with arched windows and walk ways. There were designer shops and restaurants as well as plenty of trees and greenery!

After a lovely wonder around the shopping centre and independence square it was time for some lunch!

We headed to a vegetarian restaurant called Sri Vihar!

We had our own private area for our group in the upstairs area of the restaurant and we managed to get a booth that seated about 8-10 of us!

This lunch consisted of Fried mushrooms, Dhal dishes, lentils, vegetable curry dishes and naan, all different types of rices and even some fish dishes. The food was definitely up there with some of the best food we had had so far on the trip. I was always so impressed wherever we ate!

Once our bellies were full it was the final stop of the day!

The Sri Lankan Disaster Management Centre

Visiting the Disaster Management centre really did feel like a privilege.

As we walked inside we were ushered to the meeting/conference room where we were given cartons of chocolate milk whilst we waited for the 2 gentlemen from the centre to give us a presentation on the crisis and disaster threats that effect Sri Lanka on a regular basis and how they go about getting out their warnings and their defences.

It was incredibly interested heading upstairs into the centre and seeing where they monitor all the major storms, earthquakes and tsunamis in Sri Lanka. We also saw and learnt where all the signal point were for the tsunami warnings and monitors for the earthquakes around the country. We had the pleasure of seeing their comms centre and because of all we got to see we also got a tour of the building.

It was a real privilege to be able to see everything we did in the government building. I have every hope that with everything they have including knowledge and skills they will be able to make sure what happened in 2004 never happens again.

Sri Lanka really gets battered by heavy storms which bring heavy rain fall which bring landslides, earthquakes that cause tsunami’s, incredible heat waves. They have an incredible amount to conquer so to be able to see how they do this and how they monitor and prevent these things was really interesting.

This was our last day in Colombo, the next day we would be heading to Kandy and journey involves lots of elephants! Stay tuned!