Kildare Maze

Kildare Maze (1)

Lost in the Maze

With the three kids getting older, it gets harder to find ways to keep them entertained. Their is only so much that can be done, and with a whole week off from work we exhausted the possibilities, from swimming, cinema, bowling, trips to the museum and the zoo. So I came across the website of Kildare Maze situated just outside prosperous in Co. Kildare. Apart from having the largest Hedge Maze in Leinster, it also boasted a host of activities, including a Wooden Maze, Assault Course, Pets Corner, Picnic Area, Crazy Golf and a Zip Wire. So with the days activities sorted out all we needed was some half decent weather! The Hedge Maze first began in the late 1990’s and was eventually opened to the public in 2000, when it got its Nickname The Millennium Maze.

Kildare Maze (2)

Dylan gives the assault course the thumbs up.

Kildare Maze (4)

Ryan testing out the assault course.

Kildare Maze (3)

Ava on the Bridge

We arrived just before lunch and the kids headed straight for the hedge maze, it was over an hour before we made our way out, so it was time for a well earned rest whilst the kids took to the assault course. Then we had a go on the Wooden Maze, on arrival we were each given a card, there were several stamps hidden within the maze which you needed to find and mark your card. Once you get all stamps on your card you get entered into a draw for a family pass to the Maze. So the family decided to split up, Boys V Girls. I’m ashamed to admit it but the girls came out top on the day.

Kildare Maze (5)

Chillin at the Wooden Maze

Kildare Maze (7)

Daddy steps out from behind the camera

Kildare Maze (6)

The kids still full of energy after having another go on the assault course wanted to play golf like their Grandad. They showed absolute no interest in either the Pet Farm or having a go on the Zip Wire. Unfortunately I was all ready to have a go on the Zip but Adults are not allowed :-( So a round of crazy golf began only to be interrupted by a brief shower. After a few minutes we were able to play on, with some fantastic cheating by all three kids. On the last hole I decided to have a go. I’m not a big golf fan, my last encounter on a pitch n Putt course ended with me being asked to leave for hitting more turf than golf balls. Then the rain came back and it was time to go. Finally the kids were worn out and ready for a nap. So I took the opportunity to stop of  and check out the nearby abandoned church ruins at Ballynafagh which was literately two minutes up the road. At €29 for two adults and three kids, the Maze is money well spent, and if you can get some decent weather you are guaranteed a great day out, check it out if your in the area :-)

Kildare Maze (8)

Kildare Maze (10)

Kildare Maze (9)

Kildare Maze (11)

For these and more of my images, why not visit my Website or join me on Facebook or Twitter

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

Spend time with love

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel to a different country and not know a single soul? I have. It would be a great, enriching experience. There a few countries that I’d like to visit in my twenties. I say my twenties because although you can visit any place on earth and any given age, I just feel like traveling in ones twenties can really help shape that person and his/hers views on life in general. I want to be able to visit different countries and really get to know a culture in depth by living and speaking the national language. Being Pakistani-American has really helped me view things in my life in different perspectives. I am able to see two different sides of situations because how my parents would choose to handle a situation is very different from how I initially would choose to. By traveling to different countries, I hope I can bring some of that culture back into my own and really get a feel of God has given us. We should take advantage of all the different kinds of things in life and embrace them fully!

I’ve noticed that a lot of people around me, whom are also in their early twenties, really forget the important things in life; such as traveling. This is not to say that traveling is important, but it’s to say that there so many things in life that sometimes we leave out because we are so caught up in life *in the moment* while it’s important to be present, it’s also important to be present in the moments which are actually worthwhile. What I’m trying to get at is that now a days I see people really getting caught up in school and stressing about it way more than need be (I know I do this ALL the time!!!) But, no matter how much you stress, God has written our fate. What is meant to happen, will happen at the right time. It’s extremely cliche to say, but there is a reason why it’s a cliche. Everyone always says it because it’s truer than true. 

I always see girls my age getting lost in their imagination of being with the ‘perfect guy’ or their crush and no matter how much hurt they are bringing into their lives by doing so, they continue to do it. I won’t lie, I do it too. All the time! It almost seems inevitable not to. But, again are those things really as important as we make them to be? To some girls it might be one of the most important things, and to be honest it’s very important to me too. One of my main goals in life is to hopefully get married some day and start my own family. Trust me, that’s mainly all my pinterest boards really consist of! I’d love to find “the one” and spend the rest of my life with him. But I know that right now, for me at least, it is not the right time. Of course, there’s no guarantee that it can’t happen to me right now, but I’d much rather focus on the things that are in my life. Such as embracing my abilities to do the things I love no matter how big or small. Or spending time with my friends and family, or going to my little brothers soccer games. In a few years, these will be the things that we look back on and realize how grateful we are to be able to take advantage of all that God has blessed us with.

We should all make time to do the things we love, to spend time with the ones we love, and to work towards our dream of doing what we love. 

362fae74a04ad46ba477a1315bf883f4

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS

LONCON 3 – Thursday

This year was my first time attending the World Science Fiction Convention. Hell, it was the only time I’ve been to a convention. From August 14th to August 18th I was at the Excel Convention Centre in London, England. After all, this was my opportunity to meet all of my favorite authors. Joe Abercrombie? Check. George R.R. Martin? Check. Rothfuss? Hobb? Haldeman? Lynch? Check, check, check, check. I just so happened to be backpacking around Europe at that time anyways. Having already wandered aimlessly through Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam, the United Kingdom was my next stop.

The day before I was due to fly from Amsterdam to London I happened to come across Brandon Sanderson tweeting about books he was signing in Schiphol Airport. Joe Abercrombie also saw his tweet and asked him to sign his new book, Half a King. You can find Brandon talking about it on his blog. The next day I was sweating bullets, hoping those books would still be there. I NEEDED something for my authors to sign at the convention, plus how cool would it be to already have them signed by Brandon Sanderson?! The stars happened to align. I was by Gate F and there were two Words of Radiance books left. And one Half a King! I tweeted them a picture of the signed books, which lead to a well deserved retweet from the god that is Joe Abercrombie. As you can tell, I’m a bit obsessed.

I get to the hotel on Wednesday night. It’s a quaint place that is literally right next to Excel. Rise early the next morning, chug a cup of tea, throw on my Resident Evil Umbrella Corporation shirt and make my way over. All of the events and panels start at ten in the morning. I get in line to grab my registration around quarter past nine. It took no longer than twenty minutes, but man, later in the day that thing was HUGE. Also, found out that in Europe they call “lines”, “ques”. I’m a fan of their way. Because I signed up so late—literally the night before—they had to write in marker on my VIP Pass. All the other attendees had such professional looking ones, and here I am with “Mattyo” hand written on mine. Great start.

It was still early so I moseyed on over to the information desk. This is where you sign up for all the events for the next few days. You get in line and do a circle around the table, signing up for the event you want. You can only put your name on paper for one thing and then you have to circle (or square) around again. In all honestly, the line was never too crazy, which made it pretty tempting to just go around and around. I didn’t want to be too greedy so I signed up for “Tea with Joe Abercrombie” (Rothfuss and Lynch ones were already fully signed…). That was for the next day and consisted of you plus eight other people sitting around a table with the author talking “bollocks” for an hour. That’s the word Abercrombie used to describe it.

While in line I met a friendly fellow named Robert from Cardiff, which he was proud to inform me was the capital of Wales. Robert himself is an aspiring writer who shares a mutual love for Abercrombie, Lynch, and most of all Patrick Rothfuss. Together we decided to check out the panel, “Does the Future Need to Be Plausible?”. The panelists were no authors I’ve ever read, but the topic did interest me.

Robert and I settled for standing room only as all the chairs were taken. The moderator did a wonderful job of keeping the flow and getting all the authors involved. There was a point where they all started bashing one of my all time favorite “So Bad It’s Good” movies, The CoreAlso under fire were Die Hard 2 and Falling Skies. As they should be. I thought the best point was brought up by Mr. McDonald. He stressed that it depended on how you wrote your characters. It doesn’t matter how strange your devices of the future are, or if they hold up twenty years from now. If your characters are as comfortable with “insert strange new technology” as we are, say when using a toaster, then it won’t matter. The readers will be more accepting of it and it won’t even be an issue.

The last fifteen minutes were devoted to questions, but these things hardly ever do much good. Most of the time one person rambles on for what seems like an eternity and doesn’t even ask a question at the end. It’s more of a comment, or their perspective on something. I was starving so off to the food court I went. As I sat eating my bacon and cheese croissant (and their bacon is not the bacon us Americans are used to), I decided to attend the opening ceremony at noon. It’s in the auditorium so I wouldn’t have to bum rush a room to get a seat. Side note, it was at this point I was able to take out money from an ATM! Let’s just say prior to this I was having some trouble getting money out. A topic for another day.

The opening ceremony was cute. They did a skit that involved the crowd being students at Hogwarts. I wasn’t expecting the amount of props that were used on stage. It was reminiscent of a “Whose Line Is It Anyways” game. They introduced all of the Guests of Honor, none of which I cared much for other than Robin Hobb. One of my favorite segments involved them showing the design of the Hugo award for this year, and how it has changed throughout the years. Really cool stuff. Still I decided to leave early. Didn’t want to get a bad spot in line for the Pat Rothfuss book signing.

Leaving early paid off, as I reserved a spot in the front of the line. Had the chance of meeting a very nice girl by the name of Eleanor. She is from the glorious lands of northern England (I have no idea what that looks like) and had the most beat up copy of The Name of the Wind that I have ever seen. She told a cool story of when she went to a Phillip Pullman book signing. Apparently Neiil Gaiman was there as a moderator or something of the sort. Unfortunately Pullman had to cancel, turning the event into a Neil Gaiman signing. Most of the books though were by Pullman. So it was a bunch of people getting those books signed by Neil Gaiman. This is relevant because I was getting Rothfuss to sign my copy of Half a King—that was already signed by Brandon Sanderson.

Right as I’m next in line, none other than Joe Abercrombie walks up next to Rothfuss at his signing table. As they are chatting I scoot up and slowly slide them my copy of Half a King. They both look at me with looks I’ll never forget and Rothfuss suddenly bursts into uncontrollable laughter. Even more so when he finds out that Sanderson has already signed it. Abercrombie admits he’s happy that I at least bought the book, no matter who I get it signed by. Really cool moment. Afterwards, Eleanor gets Patrick and Joe to sign her notepad that she looks at when she’s going through tough times. Patrick writes “love what you do”, while Joe puts down “The price of success is enemies”. I think that’s a good summary of both their writings. Definitely a highlight of the trip.

Off to grub again. I know, I know. Standing in the que really does make you hungry though. Two sausage rolls and a bacon cheese bite later, I head down to the George R.R. Martin and Connie Willis panel, “A Conversation with George R.R. Martin, Connie Willis, and Paul Cornell”. You could tell that the both of them were really good friends. Connie is a vibrant speaker and had so many good barbs at Martin. There really is nothing like two great writers talking shop, and reminiscing in general. Actually scratch that. There’s nothing better than two old friends shooting the shit. That’s what it came down to. Willis started talking about how she hates when you know the main characters won’t die. She talked about a popular television show from back in the day that I’m totally blanking on. The shows two protagonists were always untouchable, although anyone who was associated with them were as good as dead. She remarked how in one episode, the new bride of one of the characters was killed, right when they walked out of the church! To which Martin dryly replied, “I usually kill my characters in the church”. Safe to say that got laughter and a round of applause. Martin was asked what questions he hates. While he said he doesn’t hate any question, he is tired of the same questions over and over again. Especially from interviewers that think their question is one he’s never heard before (cough Who is your favorite character cough). He gave a shout out to Stephen Donaldson, whom he is good friends with. If you didn’t know, I’m a pretty big fan of the guy. Back when Donaldson put out The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant they were a huge success. Probably the best selling fantasy books up to date. And Donaldson thought, “Okay, I have a lot of Donaldson fans out there”. Then later he wrote the Mordants Need duology and it didn’t sell nearly as well. It was then he found out that there weren’t as many Donaldson fans as he thought as there were Thomas Covenant fans. Martin wonders if this will happen to him once he’s finished with ASOIAF. It was a great conversation between the two and it’ll stick with me forever.

The last panel I attended was “Ideology versus Politics in Science Fiction”. It included authors:

Probably one of the worst panels I attended. Only because the moderator didn’t show. It really does make a difference having a competent moderator, or one at all. The conversation lagged a ton and there were too many awkward silences for my taste. Probably should have checked out another panel. I’d never seen Kim Stanley Robinson so I wanted to at least hear him. Fortunately they kicked out all of us that didn’t get a seat as to us being a fire hazard. I was more than happy to leave, but at this point I was exhausted. Felt like it was a good first day and that I’d go home and read some The Way of Kings. That was Day One of Loncon 3. Next I’ll write about my eventful Friday, including tea with Joe Abercrombie!

 

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS