Sunday, 23 February 2014

Skydiving in the Swiss Alps

Last year, my cousin, her fiancee and another friend decided to travel across the European continent.

After hours of research and debate, we decided to go with the travel company Topdeck, as we thought they might have been a bit more 'mature' compared to other tour companies.

From the moment the I saw the optional activities for Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, I knew I had to do skydiving! I mean, what better place to throw yourself out of a perfectly working helicopter!!??

On one of the last days of June 2013, a group of us from the tour (Summer Fun & Sailing, June 28, 2013) got on a bus and were driven down to the skydiving office in town, where we signed our lives away and where most of us signed up for the photos and video package.

From there it was back up the hill to the landing site. There were 11 of us all up - 10 jumpers and 1 observer: unfortunately Daniel (the bloke on the left end) was too tall to jump.

I was in the pair to go last up, so as everybody else was taking their turns, I was doing my utmost to not freak out. This plan worked well until it was my turn to get into the helicopter! 

pumped up for a jump out!

It was fine for about the first 5 minutes, the helicopter pilot took us on a nice scenic tour - Daniel was on our jump up front with the pilot, so he got some good shots of the Swiss Alps - and then the nerves set in! Why the hell did I decide to do this??

When we reached the jump point, I was the first one out. I think this was the best way, I don't know if I would have been able to do it after watching Danilo. 

My instructor opened the side door and I just got a faceful of forceful wind. Then he tells me to stand on the helicopter leg thingys! So I was standing on them and he was crouched in the doorway, 'Now just fall' he says calmly. 

A faceful of strong wind and nothing between me and the ground 12000 feet away??? No! I wanted to get back in that helicopter on the ASAP!

he screams 'fall' I scream 'NOOO!'

Finally, I screwed up my courage and leaned forward like a banana off of the skid and plunge toward the green grass of the valley. 

The freefall of a skydive has got to be one of the scariest things you can ever do. 

Me, clearly not enjoying the freefall, and the valley I was plummeting towards at high speed. 

The instructor finally pulled on the parachute, and (thankfully) there was no problem in the deployment! I had survived the first leg of the drop! The deployment of the parachute can be quite a shock to your joints though, one second your horizontal, a microsecond later, and you're suddenly vertical! The straps certainly give your groin something to think about - lads watch out! 

My instructor did try and move about by pulling on either side of the chute (left to go left, etc) but I was having none of that! Just a leisurely glide down to earth was what I wanted! 

Before you land, you practice landing. This is using your hands to pull your legs perpendicular to your body. It's really hard to do when your dropping through gravity. Luckily, I managed the landing without any twisted ankles or broken bones!

phew! It's over and I survived!

All in all, the drop itself was about 2-3 minutes (pretty sure mine went on the longer end because I refused to let him 'sway' the chute).

Although I will always treasure this experience, there is no way in hell that I would ever put myself through it again!

The dive itself cost CHF 390 (approx $500 AUD) through Skydive XDream.

The company have a great team of experienced divers, many of who have passed there 1000th jump mark. 
If you happen to find yourself in the vicinity and are up for a bit of an adventure, I would definitely recommend them. We even got a free drink bottle! 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Vegemite V Marmite

Current history shows us that Australia will beat England by a mile (The Ashes) and it's no different in the food aisle.

This morning, I decided to finally compare my beloved Australian Vegemite with its British version.

There is a distinct difference between the two spreads in texture - the Marmite is more runny and is a bit more easy to spread. As you can see from my awesome photography skills above, the colour pales in comparison to Vegemite.

As I took my first bite of the Marmite slathered bit of toast, I was a wee bit apprehensive - a lot of my friends had described the taste as 'equivalent to tar'.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case - it didn't really taste like tar-like at all! If anything it is just a very milder version of Vegemite - but that could be because of the amount of real butter that is underneath.

For anyone who has tried Vegemite, you know that it is a very strong flavour - one only Australians can love it seems. As my British friend Lily (on a working holiday in Australia) describes 'Vegemite is the poor man's Marmite.'

I, however, disagree. With it's weaker, poorer taste, Marmite is clearly, the poor man's Vegemite.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Australian Patriotism in London

One of the biggest days in an Australian's calendar has got to be Australia Day.
It doesn't matter if we are on the other side of the world or in a remote village, we will always find a way to celebrate the landing of the First Fleet. 

For me, Australia Day is a double celebration as it is also my birthday.

This year was the first time I have ever spent it away from my family. 

Because I decided to move half way across the world to London, this year was the first time I had not spent my birthday with the family.

Luckily, London has a huge expat population and there were many options to choose from to celebrate! 

One of my housemates, Emily, and I chose to go to The Church - No! Not the Christian kind, but a 'day bar' in Elephant & Castle which specialize in Seedy

No matter where you are, we Australians are everywhere, ready to party!