Category Archives: Random Musings

Tiger Balm, a Miracle

During our travels in Asia a pot of Tiger Balm was always in our wash bag. It served many functions, easing the discomfort of insect bites, soothing sore joints, and rubbing on our temples to cure headaches. Tiger Balm is a miracle in a pot.
A week or so ago we decided we could not live without Tiger Balm here in England, so I went on Amazon U.K. and ordered a pot. It took quite a while to arrive because it was dispatched from Thailand.
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The arrival of the Tiger Balm brought back many fond memories of travelling in Thailand. Memories much needed now that we are living in the North East of England, which is nowhere near as lovely as Thailand.
A mere sniff of the Tiger Balm conjured up images of Buddhist Temples bathed in bright sunlight. Spicy food and cold beer enjoyed while watching the vivid and hectic street life.
Oh how I wish we were in Thailand now, it’s definitely one of our favourite Asian countries. I guess we’ll have to make do with inhaling the Tiger Balm and scrolling through our photos of Thailand – for now…….
Ayutthaya, ThailandAyutthaya, ThailandWat Phra Kaew, Bangkok, ThailandWat Phra Kaew, Bangkok, Thailand

Blog post by Richard Randall

Time flies when you are not having fun!

Another weeks slips by. Given that I now do so little, it is surprising how quick time seems to fly by. We did have a little excitement this week, we visited the vets in Seaham, so Barley our Lurcher could have his claws clipped. Living the life :-)
This time last year we where exploring Eastern Europe and coming to the end of our 2 years traveling the World. It seems a lifetime ago.
Below are a few of my photos from this week. All taken on my iPhone 5. My Nikon DSLR is still in hibernation.
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Blog post by Richard Randall

France, Memories of a Past Life

It’s been over two years now since we sold our house in France and headed off to travel the World for 2 years (Zoqy Travel Blog).
Now that our latest travels are over, and we’re currently settled living in the North of England, and it is Winter, my mind sometimes wanders back to our life in France.
I only wish I had more photos to peruse. I must have taken thousands of photographs during our time in France, but very few of them are online. Instead, they are stored on a hard-drive which is currently living in my parents loft in London.
Soon we will ‘pop back’ to see my folks, and whilst we’re there we’ll collect all of the stuff we have stored up in their loft. Then I will upload all of my old photos to my Flickr account, and also a few to Instagram, and no doubt I’ll flood the web with images. :)
I must have over 10,000 photos that are not currently online. For now the few photos I’ve included on this blog post will have to do.
Vive la France!
NarbonneDurban CorbieresNarbonneNarbonneCarcassonneCarcassonne
CarcassonneClock tower after a faceliftVilleneuve les CorbieresVines around Villeneuve les CorbieresCascastel des CorbieresCascastel des CorbieresLionStreet signWild boar hooves nailed to a door

 

Blog post by Richard Randall

How to Win Twitter Competitions and Sweepstakes

Since just before Christmas I’ve been taking part in competitions on Twitter.
At first I was a little sceptical because most of the accounts running competitions and sweepstakes seemed to be spammy, and obviously mainly interested in getting new followers. And while this is true for a lot of competitions and sweepstakes that are run on Twitter, there are also a great deal of genuine competitions and sweepstakes, many of which have a low numbers of entrants, so your chances of winning are high.

The best part about Twitter Competitions is the simple fact that they are very quick to enter. It is often just a matter of following and re-tweeting a competition post. It only takes a second or two to enter each competition.

The best way to find competitions on Twitter is to use the ‘advance search’ option.
For U.K. compers the hashtags #Competition #Win #Giveaway will get you good results.
For U.S. compers a good starting point would be #Sweepstakes. There are various other hash-tags, just look at the ones used in the competitions tweeted on Twitter.

U.K. residents can follow me on Twitter @aude11360 to get access to my daily competition stream, which is usually about 50-70 competitions.

Good Luck and Happy Comping!

A few of my most recent wins from Twitter Competitions.

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Blog post by Richard Randall

Creative Block

Since Christmas I’ve had a major creative block. I think it is due to the grey skies and damp weather. I’ve not been out and about, apart from walking the dog, so no new photo/video adventures. Nothing seems to inspire me. Even world news is leaving me cold and I can’t be bothered thinking about it, apart making the odd grunt to show my disgust. Fingers crossed for blue skies and getting out and about.
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Blog post by Richard Randall

PR and Marketing Friendly Blog and Blogger

Pitch Me. I’m open to all proposals with the exception of gambling and adult entertainment. I’m currently base in County Durham, England.

Traffic report (Google Adsense) from April 2013 (blog launch) until 1st December 2013 for http://randallssoapbox.com/.
traffic report
traffic report 2
Social Media Reach:
Personal Facebook (4000+ Friends): http://www.facebook.com/richard.randall1
Zoqy Travel & Lifestyle Blog Facebook Page (2,300+ fans): http://www.facebook.com/ZoqyBlog
My wine,food and drinks industry facebook page (25,000+ fans): http://www.facebook.com/WorldWineWineNetwork
My YouTube Channel (360+ travel and lifestyle videos):?http://www.youtube.com/user/ZoqyBlog/

Twitter: @ZoqyBlog (photofeed)
@aude11360 (General,food,beer, tech, wine +++)

Instagram @zoqyphoto

Google+ Page ‘Zoqy Travel & Lifestyle Blog’ https://plus.google.com/102128848192484685138

Plus I also share on Flickr, Tumblr etc.

Contact me with your pitch.
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Random Photos of the Week and a few Thoughts

A few random thoughts, and photos from the past week.
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The American government have been spying on the French. The NSA (National Security Agency) have been recording phone calls on a ‘massive’ scale. Apparently more than 70 million French phone calls were recorded in a 30-day period late last year.
I just hope the NSA overheard some good recipe ideas for their staff canteen.
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France was also in the news again this week. EDF plan on building two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. It will cost £80 billion +++ over the lifespan of the reactors.
China is also involved in financing the project. Yet another fine example of the incompetence of the British government. Putting our energy security in foreign hands, and expecting tax payers and consumers to foot the bill.
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Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have issued a report saying that Drone strikes by the U.S. government are War Crimes. Well go figure, who would have thought dropping bombs on non-combatant women, men, and children was a War Crime. Needless to say this is one crime that will go unpunished.
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Energy suppliers in the United Kingdom are ripping off consumers by constantly upping the cost of electricity and gas.
The genius that is Sir John Major, has a solution. Increase the amount of tax the energy companies pay.
What about the consumers who are being overcharged? How does that solution help them?
Well, it seems extra money in government coffers is far more important than protecting consumers. This ‘solution’ of John Majors does not address fuel poverty, in fact it will just make it worse if actioned.
What is needed in a maximum set price companies are allowed to charge, and a far more simplified tariff structure.
Pork Pie
By Richard Randall

Ikea Furniture Assembly

The furniture that we had ordered, during a hellish visit to Ikea in Gateshead, arrived early Monday morning, and Mrs. R feverishly set about assembling it, while I looked on.
To be fair to myself, I also had jobs to do so I was far from idle, unfortunately. There is nothing I like more than sitting with a glass of wine, while I watch Mrs.R at work.

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Ikea Furniture

Mrs.R seems better at self assembly furniture than I do. OCD is partly responsible for this as Mrs.R always lays all of the screws, nuts, dowels etc. out in neat little rows before she begins assembling furniture. No doubt the methodical order makes assembling easier, as I didn’t hear any shouts of frustration as she continued to construct all of our new stuff.
I can assemble flatpack furniture I just prefer not to, and being a man I loath to read instructions, and lack patience, so that could be the reason. :-)
Mrs. R was like a Whirling Dervish, with a screwdriver in one hand, and an Ikea Allen Key (hex key) in the other. The flatpack furniture started appearing in its finished form at an alarming rate. It made me tired just watching.

Ikea Meltorp Table
Ikea Melltorp Table
Ikea Melltorp Table
Ikea Melltorp TableIkea Melltorp TableIkea Melltorp Table

The house soon went from more or less empty, well, apart from a camping chair, to pretty much fully furnished.
As our furniture grew, so did the piles of empty cardboard boxes, paper instruction leaflets, and left over Allen keys.

Ikea Karsfors Sofa
Ikea Karsfors SofaIkea Karsfors SofaIkea Karsfors Sofa

Ikea Karsfors Sofa

After a morning spent assembling our Ikea furniture we had a dining table, two dining chairs, 2 coffee tables, 2 chest of drawers, 2 kitchen units; one with a drawer unit and one with a cupboard, and a sofa, which was great as we were both knackered and eager to sit down.
There was only one more piece of furniture to assemble, and that was a wardrobe, but Mrs.R said it was one piece too many for that day, so she’d do it tomorrow.
All in all it was a successful day and the house was beginning to feel comfortable.

Ikea Udden Kitchen Unit
Udden Kitchen UnitUdden Kitchen UnitUdden Kitchen UnitUdden Kitchen UnitUdden Kitchen Unit

Ikea Rast Chest of Draws
Ikea Rast ChestIkea Rast ChestIkea Rast ChestIkea Rast Chest

Old Bed Out, New Bed In

When we moved into our house, we thought we’d be temporarily sleeping on our camping air-bed, until we’d completed most of the renovations.
However, lady luck smiled on us with a better idea. The previous owner had left a double bed in the house, which was in good condition, so no air-bed for us. :)
We lived with the bed for 6 weeks, before deciding to replace it with a super king size bed. We both like a lot of space in bed so a super king size seemed the obvious choice.
New Bed
It took me a while to find a reasonably priced super king size bed online, as they seem to be a rare commodity. A good number of websites I looked at either did not stock any, or they just had one or two, and at exorbitant prices. Finally after lots of searching I finally found a good priced bed that we both liked the look of, from the huge range on offer at www.thebedwarehousedirect.com Big bed chosen, we then added two memory foam mattresses to the order.
New Bed
The website phoned me the next day to let me know that delivery would be on the 17th of September. On the morning of the 17th, the doorbell rang at 7.45am, our new bed had arrived. I lumped it upstairs into our bedroom, and while I was busy with other tasks, Mrs. R began assembling the bed. After all, as she’s assembled almost the entire Ikea catalogue over the last couple of days, Mrs. R is now the official Queen of flat pack furniture.
New Bed
A couple of hours later Mrs. R had finished assembling the bed all by herself, despite the instructions saying it was a 2 man job, which obviously translates as a 1 woman job – not that a man would even have read the instructions.
New Bed
Once it was completed our new super king size bed looked good, and very inviting. Mrs. R said she was looking forward to testing it out, no not horizontal dancing, sleeping – keep your mind out of the gutter. But in fact I beat her to it, I got to try the bed first because not long after it was assembled I had a siesta. I slept soundly, our new bed is comfortable and spacious.
New Bed
As we are keen on recycling, or more specifically up-cycling, the double bed we’d been using did not go to waste, or more importantly to a landfill. We gave it to a neighbour.
New Bed
After extensive research on IG (InstaGram), by Mrs.R, not by me, because she’s addicted to the photo sharing app, it seems that the majority of new bed ‘after’ photos are very messy and crumpled. So, we went with the ‘fashion’ and shot the bed in a state if disarray. As you can see, we need some more pillows, and an iron and ironing board – yet more stuff to add the our shopping list.
New Bed
By Richard Randall

Amazon U.K. Shopping or Hell Hight Street

Shop ’til you drop!
Since moving into to our new house in Easington Colliery, we have needed to buy everything, and I do mean everything.
Once the sale was completed, we arrived at the house with an air-bed, a couple of sleeping bags, a small portable gas hob, and not mush else, apart from the clothes we stood up in.
Over the last 6 weeks we have been busy renovating the house, and also buying all the stuff we need to make it a comfortable place to live.
We have ventured to the odd shop or two, but shopping on the high street or at ‘out of town’ retail parks is a dire experience, soul destroying, and worst of all extremely time consuming.
Fortunately we live in the age of internet shopping, and so we have ordered most of the house contents online. About 70% from Amazon U.K. and the other 30% from a couple of other web based companies.
I’m looking forward to a future when I never have to venture in a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop again, unless it’s for luxury goods which are always fun to shop for. :)

Amazon Uk

I like online shopping, it’s almost perfect as it can be done at any time of the day or night, there are no parking issues, and my purchases are all delivered to my house.
It can be quite tiring though, but that may just be me, or more likely the sheer amount of goods I’ve ordered recently. Haha! 😉