Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 240 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Looking back and looking ahead – 2014 and 2015

Looking back

2014 was a very turbulent year in my life. It was in parts very stressful and very sad. I had to leave my beloved animals behind in New Zealand (you all should know the story about me having to leave NZ by now), my dearest rooster Frodo died and I was not able to be there for him. I had to move around within the UK a lot because I financially was not able to settle down somewhere (having to leave NZ was not something I had prepared for and my savings had been close to nothing. I even had to sell my wonderful camera to be able to leave and not be completely broke). But in this post, I would like to focus on the positive things that happened this year. I don’t want to look back at the year with regrets, and also have to learn to stop beating myself up for things that have happened – after all, much was basically out of my own control. So, here are the highlights of 2014.

2014 – Before leaving New Zealand

I was in New Zealand until March 2014. The highlights during that time were – as usual – the lovely chickens, new chicks hatching, the interaction with the chickens, seeing them grow up, seeing them be happy chickens. And of course also the pigeons, mainly seeing Lucy still being healthy, and how her babies turned into beautiful adult pigeons.

2014 – After leaving New Zealand


I made many different experiences during my time in the UK – most of the time I spent in Scotland. My highlights in Scotland were:

  • Learning many things about organic gardening during my time at Phantassie in East Linton, and hanging out with the chickens there, many of whom are dead now because of a fox (R.I.P. my dear hens)
  • Working in Attadale Gardens and explore some of the fantastic scenery in the Scottish Highlands
  • Working for MacKenzie’s B&B in Plockton and going on an evening cruise with them
  • Working for Oxenfoord Organics, playing with their goats and watching their lovely chickens
  • Being in Scotland and not having any issues with actually understanding people


My first arrival in England had not gone very well (apart from the ten days of house-sitting I did three days after my arrival), but my second time in England made up for it.

  • I saw Ian McKellen in person. Twice. And I managed to get my letter to him even though I will never know whether he actually read it.
  • I was able to attend the ToRn pub moot and the “red” carpet Hobbit World Premiere in London.
  • I got to watch the midnight screening of the third Hobbit sitting next to Thranduil and with Thorin and Sauron in the row in front of me.
  • Then I saw the movie again – this time with Thorin right next to me.
  • I was lucky enough to meet some of the people from the pub moot / premiere days again.
  • I met some really special people (at least they are in my eyes), and do hope that they will still be part of my life in 2015.
  • One of the just mentioned people showed Richmond Park to me. We saw plenty of birds and some impressive deer!
  • Another of those people made me flirt with a female dwarf (that only happened online in the game Lord of the Rings online though). But wait! Should I really call this a highlight? It was only a result of my poor online character drinking too much and clicking on the wrong character because her vision was a bit foggy. It was immense fun though! In general, playing online with people I actually know is a lot of fun, and makes it possible to “meet” people who are not living close to you.
  • I finally was able to be part of a cosplay meeting.
  • I went sight-seeing in London with an elf.

Looking ahead – What I would like to happen in 2015

I am not someone who makes New Year’s resolutions. When I know something needs to be changed, I try to do it as soon as possible. There’s no need to wait for a special date. After all, if you really have your heart in something, you shouldn’t have to wait. Many New Year’s resolutions fail because people only make them because it’s “what everybody does”. There often is no real conviction behind them.  But now that one year is gone, I know that there are some things I would like to see happening in 2015. I will do my part to work towards the things that are within my power, and hope for the best when it comes to other issues. Some of my dreams, goals, and wishes for 2015:

  • finish my novel and work towards getting it published as a proper printed book
  • settle down somewhere for a while, preferably around London or Oxford
  • find one truly loyal friend and some normal friends
  • cosplay Bard the Bowman AND be worthy of cosplaying him
  • continue to be an advocate for animal rights and do my best to educate people about animals
  • meet Ian McKellen
  • see Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart on stage together
  • go for a multi-day hike somewhere, or do a multi-day canoeing trip

These are just a few – others will remain private as they are personal and others might not be understood by most readers. What are your hopes for 2015?

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Christmas from the perspective of a “loner”

For some reason or the other, some of us will spend Christmas alone – maybe for the first time, maybe not. I noticed that many people simply feel very sorry for themselves when they have nobody to spend Christmas with. And some even pretend to have nobody just because they do not have a boyfriend or girlfriend. If you have your family or friends around you do NOT fall into the group of having “nobody”. This post is for and about people who will spend the Christmas holidays on their own, i.e. in the company of nobody else.

Last year, I chose to spend Christmas up on my favourite mountain in New Zealand (where I used to live). On my own. The reason for it was that I was sick of people, Christmas, and the expectations that came with it. It is a long story, I will not delve into it here. I simply wanted to spend that time of the year in a place I love, where I could be myself, and where I did not have to explain myself to anybody. And the spirit of the mountain needs no explanations. He knows me very well.  I also had received the very bad news that I would have to leave New Zealand by April 2014. Christmas 2013 was my goodbye to my friend Taranaki.



At that time, I did not know what life would be like for me. Almost one year later, Christmas is quickly approaching again. I never liked Christmas much. In all my life, I had one nice Christmas with other people, all the others were ranging from awkward to downright horrible (you can be glad if you have a reasonably good family, and even gladder if you have a good, supportive family). During some Christmases, I suffered a lot – simply because I did not know any better – especially when I was still a kid and teenager.

The older I got, the easier it became for me to understand that what these days are like is absolutely down to me and my own actions. Of course, it is not nice to be completely on your own during a time when everyone expects you to be happy with your family, with a partner, or at least with some friends. It is even worse when you have to explain your situation to others and then get the strangest reactions from people. Reactions range from pity to making me feel like I’m a leper.

I have no family here (and if I ever tell anybody about my family, that would be a sign of great trust). And as much as I moved around since March, of course there is also nobody who would have any reason to spend time with me during Christmas. I won’t even spend Christmas in a place I could call home. I will be in accommodation organized via AirBnB. At least I won’t have to be in a shared room in a hostel (this would come with the added price-tag of always having to explain myself to new strangers – and that is something that drains a lot of energy from an introvert like me).

Being in London also screams “It’s Christmas! Time of the year to express your love! Time of the year to be happy! La la la!” into your face every single day. Yet all is see is stressed people, rushing around, pushing each other. Not being loving at all. Yet I do know that many of them will not spend Christmas alone. I honestly have no idea what a good Christmas should be like. I have long ago given up on my wishes for Christmas and my birthday that follows just a week after it. My wishes were simple enough, and year after year I had written them down on a secret list (when I was a kid and teenager). However, someday you do realize that there is no magical universal power that helps you – and Christmas is not any more magical than any other time of the year.

So this year, all I will do is to completely dive into the world of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”. Watching all the extended editions should keep me busy for a while. At least, that way I will spend the Christmas days with people I care about. I will try to not be miserable – because it is up to me. Of course, there might very well be sadness. I lost a lot this year, not just my home, but also the lives of people and animals very dear to me. However, I will try to honour their memory by not being sad. I will most likely fail, but I can try.

What you should do when you have to face Christmas on your own

If you – whoever you are, as some of my readers are strangers to me – will have a lonely Christmas ahead of you, do not see it as a curse or something to beat yourself up about. See it as a chance to do something good for yourself. While others focus on buying presents for many other people, while they get stressed and burnt out, think about how you can turn the challenge of Christmas and all that comes with it into something good. What is something you enjoy? Can you do it during Christmas? How can you treat yourself to something good? Don’t wait for others to make your dreams come true – because if you wait for others, you might very well wait forever.

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My connection to animals

One thing people usually learn about me quite early is that they should never underestimate my love for animals (especially birds). Though I have learned to keep my enthusiasm in check most of the time, and usually only show my true love for animals when I am around people I feel comfortable with. I’m the kind of person you’ll find in the kids’ zone in a zoo, petting a goat, and being happy like a child (note: I usually prefer other settings than zoos though – and some zoos deserve to be shut down, but that’s a topic for a different blog). I’m the kind of person who goes out of her way to help animals in need, and also the kind of person who often prefers the company of animals to the company of people. Let me explain why that is so.

My lovely rooster Frodo, who died a few weeks ago in New Zealand. And I am in England. I wish I could have been there for him during his last days.

My lovely rooster Frodo, who died a few weeks ago in New Zealand. And I am in England. I wish I could have been there for him during his last days.

Animals make good friends and good companions. I know there are people out there who believe animals have no souls, no feelings, no intelligence – but I definitely do believe that animals are intelligent, and do have feelings. Though I have my doubts about cats sometimes….

Of course, communicating with animals is not as easy as talking to people who speak the same language. But when you look at human communications, you need to ask yourself: Is it really that easy, and that straight forward? To me, it is not. I often leave words unspoken, avoid certain topics, and often wish that people would be easier to deal with. When it comes to people, I often worry that my words will be misunderstood, too much or too little read into them. And when you are friendly to someone, they often suspect that you are being friendly because you have a hidden agenda, or would like to get something from them. But to me, when I thank someone, when I tell someone something positive, I usually just do so because I honestly mean it. There are people out there to whom I would like to say so much more, but I don’t – because these days it is so easy to be misunderstood. And once you have to start explaining, even defending, why you say something nice, the words lose their value a little, don’t they? I have made horrible experiences with people after saying something honest and nice (and no, not talking about declarations of love here!), but I’ve never had such an experience after saying something nice to an animal.

You can be nice to animals, you can tell them you care – and they will not take it the wrong way. You can show your love to them, and they will not hate you for it. Of course, animals can be quite “rude”, and not care much about what you feel or say – but at least you know that a rooster, for example, might be a snob one day, but the loveliest darling the other day. This was the case with my dear Frodo. Most of the time, I could just pick him up, or sit next to him, and he would hang around. He was a good chap. But he also had some days where he just gave me a dirty look and walked away. He died a few weeks ago, and I’m quite sad about it, he was a good friend, a very fine rooster.

Other animals (dogs, cats, even goats!) also have that one great advantage that you can hang out with them without having to be someone you’re not. You don’t need to impress them. They either like you or they don’t. Simple as that. Fortunately, animals usually tend to like me (especially goats for some reason, they are such cuddly, lovely animals!). I like the company of animals. You can sit down on a couch, or next to a tree, and the animals will either join you or they won’t. If they join you, they simply are with you, no hidden motivations (well, unless it’s a cat).

That look says it all....

That look says it all….

I know there are plenty of people out there who get along with other people well enough – and maybe I’m just not a very likeable person, who knows. To me it is simply a truth that I usually get along better with animals than with people. They don’t care about where you were born, what colour your skin is, what kind of accent you speak, what your qualifications are, how much money you earn, what you wear, or what your religion is. Don’t get me wrong: animals can be quite judgemental, but at least they are not judgemental in the same way as people.

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Don’t envy me

People often tell me that they wish they could live like I do. But fact is that they do not really know much about my life at all – otherwise they would not wish to be in my situation. Yes, I did have two good days in the last few weeks – I attended something many people would have loved to see (the red carpet event for the Hobbit world premiere – mind, just standing behind the barriers, it was a free event!), but this does not mean that I have a great life. It does not mean that I am richer than the people I talk to. If I was, I would not struggle so much. Yet, what people want to see and what the reality is are usually two different stories.

The people who say they “envy” me are actually the people who should be grateful for what they have: a home, a family, friends they can talk to, some security in life. All of this is basically missing from my life since I have been “kicked out” of New Zealand, the place that was my home for so many years.

I am writing these lines in a hostel, in a four bed dorm (for females only). I was lucky, and for the last three days I did not have to share the room – which is a plus. Yet, I was not even supposed to be here. I had booked a single room in a flat in a quiet part of London MONTHS in advance. But a few days ago, I stood in front of that place, at 8pm in the evening when I was supposed to check in – and nobody opened the door. One hour later, there still was nobody home, and I could not get in touch with the owner. So, in the dark, in London, I had to find an alternative. For one night, I could return to the place I stayed in before, another night I had to spend in an expensive hotel, and a few days ago I found a reasonably cheap hostel that only hosts up to 18 people (small for London). In a few days, I will have to move again – and do not yet know where to. It is not easy to find a single room for an affordable price with such short notice (and it’s not even my fault that I am in this situation – everything had been booked, planned, and paid for).

By the end of the month, I will have to be in Winchester where I will house- and cat-sit for six weeks. This will be a nice break from moving around – but I will also have to work hard on my freelance writing because the stress in London has cost me quite a bit of money, too.

So, do not envy me because of my “freedom”.

Another thing is that people should realise what a lonely life this is. When I feel like talking to someone, there is nobody to talk to. I can’t just call a friend and say “Hey, do you have some time for me?” Yes, I do meet people, but usually it is a matter of “out of their sight, out of their mind”. They see me as something temporary in their life, not really worth their time. It is not easy. I guess the fact that I have never been a popular person comes in handy now. I can deal with loneliness better than most people – but that does not mean that I often wish things would be different.

But when will it be different? I don’t know. I am not even sure yet what I will do after the house-sitting. I tried to find out whether I could go back to Scotland, but have not received a reply yet. So maybe I will stay in England. All I want is to find a place I could call home, even if it was just for a year, or even just half a year.

One thing people will never be able to understand is how heartbroken I am about not being “home” any more. I had to leave my beloved animals behind, and my dear rooster Frodo died while I was in Scotland. I should have been there for him – but I could not. My friend did all he could for him – but it should have been me, being there for him during the last days of his life. 

So, don’t envy me. You don’t want to live my life. And don’t be jealous about the one or the other good thing that happens to me, because the good things come with a high price.

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ToRn pub moot and the Hobbit World Premiere in London

Wristbands and dressing up
On Sunday, November 30th, the wait for the Hobbit World Premiere on London’s Leicester Square was beginning for me (for others it had already begun a few days earlier). At 4am in the morning, I got up to start queuing for a wristband, at 5.40am I arrived at the square and had a number written on my hand. A few hours later, security decided to hand out the wristbands sooner than announced (most likely because they wanted the hundreds of people off the square). During the wait, I had met some of the people from two groups I became a member of just before the premiere (one was a group especially for the premiere meeting, and one a Tolkien cosplayer group). One of them was a Tanja, who – like me – wanted to dress up in a costume for pub moot organized by I asked her whether she was interested in dressing up right away and walk through London in our costumes. She agreed, so we went to my accommodation (which was a room above a pub, proper Middle Earth style living when on the road!), changed and then walked around London for a while until we thought it was time to go to the pub moot.


The ToRn pub moot
First, of course, we got “lost”. But two nice English men noticed that we looked a bit lost and guided us into the right direction. Once we arrived in the pub, there were already quite a few people there even though the official start time was only 6pm, and it was just a bit after 5pm. We both ordered a drink (I had something called “Blue Moon”, I just liked the name – I know nothing about drinks, I usually find places like pubs incredibly intimidating and never really had a reason to go into one), and talked to a few people. It became busier and busier and the first other cosplayers turned up, too. I was hoping for ONE Thranduil and a few Bards, maybe even an Elrond. Then the first Thranduil turned up. Then the second. Then the third. Then a fourth one….  No Bard, no Elrond. A few dwarves, plenty of Hobbits. And even a very good looking Smaug. It was an interesting mix of cosplayers to say the least. I was the only person from Rohan though (twice I was asked whether I was from Laketown….). The people were great. I’ve hardly ever felt so normal in my life before. Finally, there were people who understood what I was talking about, and who did not judge me negatively because of my passion for Tolkien’s world.


Luke Evans, Billy Boyd, and John Bell
Later that evening, Luke Evans turned up. Unfortunately, I kind of almost missed him. I only just saw him when he already was on his way out. I did not want to be too annoying, so I only asked him whether he had time for a photo. He tapped me on the shoulder and said that he was sorry but he had to go. Of course, I would have wished to have a bit of a chat with him, but actually seeing him was more than I had expected. A bit later, Billy Boyd also turned up, and then there also was John Bell, who played Bard’s son Bain. The young man was a very pleasant character. He stayed until every single person either had a photo or an autograph from him. I wonder whether he will still be the same if he was still famous in ten years.

After the pub moot
A bit after 10pm, quite a few people decided to leave as the following day would be a long day – and Tolkien fans seem to be a rather civilized lot (even the drunken Scottish Hobbits who were quite delightful). Tanja decided to stay a little longer, but I was ready to leave. I wanted to find my way back to the Docklands and Sunday night is not exactly the best time for public transport in London – especially not for someone like me who is used to rural areas, rivers, and forests. Fortunately, a Bard-look-a-like (we’ll turn him into a cosplayer yet) was so nice to walk me to the right bus station. I would have been a bit lost (again!) if it had not been for him. The people I met during the pub moot restored my faith in humankind a little.
I still had a letter to write when I arrived back “home”. A letter to Ian McKellen. I only got to be at 2 am in the morning because the first three tries ended up in the rubbish. But then the letter was done. This night I was getting 4 hours of sleep (better than just three the night before).

Before the premiere
Tanja and I decided to meet at around 9.30am to check what is happening (though we’ve been told to only turn up at 11am). Tanja was a little late, and when I heard people say that security had been chasing people around, I was worried she was hiding somewhere. Fortunately she just turned up when I wanted to go and start looking for an elf maiden in hiding. We met one of the Thorins, got some breakfast, and then Tanja disappeared to… uhm… glue her ears on.  While she was gone, security told us how we would be queuing according to our wristband numbers, and I went to find Tanja to tell her. We went to our places (we were both in the group 1 to 500), and suddenly SAURON turned up.

DSCN0004Sauron was my queue mate. Oh my. A few minutes later, a woman without cosplay turned up behind us. She looked somehow familiar, but it took me a few minutes to realize: My favourite of the Thranduil cosplayers was my other queue mate! So even though waiting was a very cold affair (I had to put on my jacket), I did enjoy the experience. Because when do you ever get to hang out with Sauron and Thranduil? Later on, we even had a short break in a pub with Tanja…. Sauron, Thranduil, another elf, and a Rohan outcast walk into a bar…. What kind of joke that would be!

Finally – getting into the pens
When we finally were able to get into the pens, we all got separated. I thought I had a good spot: first row, a few metres from where the actors would get out of their cars. I had a Thorin beside me, and a Thorin behind me. One of them even had a dragon with him. The bad news was when they stopped laying the green carpet. They were discussing for a while, and then moved stuff around. We had actually asked them whether the spot we thought would be the drop off was the drop off. And two security guards said “yes”. But then things changed. There might have been some problem. I do not know. All I know is that the drop off point suddenly was a few metres away from us – the OTHER way, so we were behind the drop off point, so stars would walk right on the green carpet without even looking at us. We were gutted because many of us had very low wristband numbers and had spent so much time waiting. My hopes of seeing Ian McKellen and getting my letter to him plummeted. I did not care much about the other actors to be honest. I do like and respect them, but Ian McKellen is the one who really matters to me – for more than just being Gandalf.

The actual world premiere event
Then it started. The cars started arriving, the first actors ignored us. Some just signed a few things right behind the cars where they got out of the cars (i.e. opposite the car doors) and then went right on the green carpet. Because which star can resist being right in the spotlight, right? I did not even catch a glimpse of Luke Evans, Lee Pace, and Martin Freeman. To my surprise, the guys I thought would be absolutely cocky – Orlando Bloom, Aidan Turner, and Benedict Cumberbatch (oh, please don’t murder me, not everybody has to love Legolas and Kili, and Mr. Snufflebuff) – were the ones who actually did come to the neglected area and tried to sign as much as possible. Manu Bennett also walked past us (but did not react to my polite Maori greeting – no, not just a simple Kia Ora, I used a proper polite greeting), and we saw some other actors, but they did not come to us either.


Ian McKellen
Suddenly people went REALLY crazy. Ian McKellen was there. I had my letter, I still had hope. After all, Gandalf often says things along the line: We are usually where we are supposed to be. But then he walked on the opposite of where I was, and when he suddenly was surrounded by other “famous” people, I thought that was it. Yet, he moved on and then was on the other side, coming towards where I was. He was very focussed on signing as much as he could. I held my letter towards him, and almost signed it. Then I told him it was for him. He took it (looked a bit surprised), and said “Thank you.” So he did get the letter. Whether he actually read it, is another question. But I did all I could do.

Gandalf22He was meant to get my letter, and so he got it – so there might indeed be other forces at work in this world. The content of the letter, however, will not be shared here – unless the content would ever be a reason for Ian McKellen to get in touch with me.

After the premiere
I was waiting around a bit after the premiere to see whether I could find some of “my” people. But there were so many. I ran into Legolas again, and took a photo with another Thorin. But then I decided it was time for me to go home. I was incredibly tired, but also quite relieved that I achieved my goals for the premiere (all to do with Ian McKellen). I often make myself lists with things I would like to achieve – who knows, this might very well be a reason why I do achieve quite a bit. I know what I want, and once you know what you want, you can take the steps needed to get it. One step at a time.


Now, life is back to “normal”. Well, as normal as the life of an “outcast” ever will be. The Hobbit fans have all gone home, and I am left in London (until the end of the year) and I do not know whether or when I will meet them again. Some of my favourites I might never meet again. There might be other meetings, but life has taught me to never be too hopeful. But who knows what the future may bring. I never thought I would ever get the chance to see Ian McKellen that close, yet I did. And I even had a few close Thranduil encounters!

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