Category Archives: Our Amazing World

Places around the world that amaze me

The Joys of Money, Credit Cards, Loans and Mortgages

I learned something the other day, the word ‘mortgage’ literally means ‘dead pledge’. It is a pledge to repay debt for the rest of your life.

Some might look at getting a loan for a house because they are told that the house prices have averaged a 20% profit per annum in the last decade and they would be happy to borrow $300,000 for $25,000 per year profit. Key point here is that the $25,000 per year profit that these houses are bringing in, aren’t worth anything to you UNLESS you are willing to actually sell the house.

Ok, so let’s do the working out. You would need a job that pays say $50000 a year, don’t spend ANY and you will have $300000 in 6 years, pretty simple math right?

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But hang on, we have to eat, drink, clothe ourselves, perhaps pay rent and utility bills, buy Birthday and Christmas gifts, travel and pay taxes, that all costs money.

Here is the reality of loans, mortgages and also credit cards.

For example, did you know that after 7 years on a 25 year, $100,000 mortgage at 8% you would still owe $88,211.

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You would have repaid $64,833 and yet only reduced your debt by $11,789.

 

 

Even more startling is if you crunch the amortised numbers, is that in the first year you will have repaid $7,953 but only reduced your principal by $1,309.

(principal being the actual loan.)

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In a second year you only pay an extra $109 towards the principal …. great deal for the banks!

You are handing the bank $65,000 over the first 7 years, they take off less than $12,000 of your loan while pocketing more than $53,000 in interest for themselves.

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The solution (aside from not getting a loan in the first place)

Reduce the term of the loan and increase the amount of the monthly repayment that goes toward the principal rather than the interest.

With a $100,000 loan, if you elect to pay it off over 15 years instead of 25 you will actually be paying less interest from year one – $7,870 instead of $7,953. It might only be a difference of $83, but that make a big difference.

graphSure the monthly payments would be higher but you save almost $60,000 in extra interest incurred over a 25 year loan, you save $2,400 a year. Banks don’t like you to know this info as you are denying them extra money. If we all put this knowledge to good use next time we tackle the banks, perhaps they would start being a bit nicer to us?

This is my Mumma Duck

Hi to all my followers, so sorry it has been a long time between posts. I’ve just completed a course which was very time consuming but the upside is that now I am qualified to run my own small business (YAY!), exciting times ahead.

On top of that I have been a shoulder of support for a very close friend of mine (Mumma Duck) who is battling with breast cancer along with an amputation. I would like to say that she is on the road to recovery and things are looking up at this stage, she really is a fighter.

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Myself and Mumma Duck

I’ve been helping to get her out of hospital into the fresh air and sunshine, away from the smell of the hospital and all the gadgets that beep not to mention the dull and boring surrounds of the ward.

This has all been a challenge for her as she is an interstate truck driver and this is the longest she has been away from trucks for years. We’ve all been getting behind her and supporting her as much as we can because on the highways here she is a well known figure, most know her as Ducky, but to me, she is Mumma Duck.

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Best thing so far is that Skitzo (yes some of us do have some crazy nicknames), with the help of Wild Steel, has put together some clothing to raise money for the fight against breast cancer. We do hope that having ‘Skitzo’s fighting for a cure‘ is not taken the wrong way and seen as offensive, we all know him as Skitzo and he is a great guy who is doing his bit to help find a cure, nobody likes to lose a loved one.

Skitzo's Fighting For a CureIf you like any of the above clothing, please go to Wild Steel, type in the search bar, Skitzo’s, and it will bring up the breast cancer clothing for purchase.

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Awe Inspiring Views

We are all looking for that wonderful view, that background that just sets the photo off. It might be the one where the sun is just rising or setting and gives off that warm splash of colour, it might be that shot where you hope to catch a flash of lightning or it could be the one where you are above the clouds and all you can see is the snow covered tops of mountains. Whatever it might be, if you haven’t found it yet, then these next three locations might just be what you are looking for.

In The Treetops – Illawarra Fly, Treetop Walk, Australia

At the Illawarra Fly, Treetop Walk you can get just about every scenery picture imagined depending on what time of year you visit. Perhaps not for those with a fear of heights, unless you are making it your goal to conquer that fear. This 500 meter walk is set among the canopies of Australia’s temperate and Southern Highlands, hovering about 25 meters above the ground.

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Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk
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Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk

Up this high you’ll be surrounded by eucalyptus, sassafras, blackwood and mulberry, add to this the fantastic opportunities for catching a glimpse of the kookaburras, cockatoos and rosellas that live in these areas. For something a little higher up, you can climb Knights Tower which takes you another 20 meters up so you are well above the trees for that perfect view.

 

On a Knife Point – Knife-Edge Point, Victoria Falls, Zambia

For the thrill seeking photographer or perhaps someone just wanting to experience something a little different, then go to Zambia and have a look at Victoria falls. This is one waterfall where you can get so close that you need a raincoat to keep all the spray off you. There are some wonderful photo opportunities from the walkways and as always, the chance to get a beautiful rainbow in the picture.

Knife-Edge Point, Victoria Falls, Zambia
Knife-Edge Point, Victoria Falls, Zambia

Victoria Falls, also known to the locals as Mosi-oa-Tunya, is the Zambezi’s death plunge, which is the point at which the water throws itself over the rock face to snake into gorges all the way to the ground. For the best views of this waterfall you will have to ask to go to Knife-Edge Point where you will walk over a footbridge to gaze at the falls and the churning abyss below.

 

Adrenaline Rush – Aiguille Du Midi, Chamonix, France

Theres the extreme and then there is the really extreme and Aiguille Du Midi would have to be in the really extreme category. In fact it is a spiky mountain 3842m high, up in the snow, you can get there by cablecar from the town of Chamonix which is right at the valley bottom so you get a really good view of all the scenery on your way up to the very top which only takes 20 minutes, so be sure to have your camera at the ready.

Aiguille Du Midi, Chamonix, France
Aiguille Du Midi, Chamonix, France

The wonderful thing about this is that even if you have never climbed a mountain before, you can still stand at the peak and admire the view without ever having worked up a sweat.

I’m on My Way, From Misery to Happiness Today

Who out there doesn’t love music, it flows through many of us in all forms, meditation music to help relax after a hard day, techno for those nights out and maybe a little bit of rock for those enjoyable house cleaning days.

For the devoted music enthusiast what better way to go on holiday than to stop in at a couple of famous music sights, Graceland is a very well known one but I think I know of three others that are sure to be hits.

Soul Music – Motown Historical Museum, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Most people enjoy listening to a bit of soul music, its nothing too heavy and not light enough to put you to sleep but instead it often puts you in a good mood and you find yourself bopping and dancing down the street or around the house.

Some might not know just what Motown has to do with soul music, the Motown Museum is a string of unassuming houses that became known as ‘Hitsville USA’, the Motown sound, thanks to Berry Gordy was the Motown label which was was soul music with a distinct pop influence, such artists include Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and of course Michael Jackson.

Motown Museum, Detroit
Motown Museum, Detroit

Stepping into this museum is like taking a step back in time to when these artists were actually there and recording their own songs and some of their greatest hits.

 

Country Gathering – Golden Guitar, Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia

Though it is not a museum, the Big Golden Guitar is Australia’s icon for country music and Australia does have its fair share of talented country artists. This wonderful guitar was erected in front of the very well known Longyard Hotel located on the Sydney Road back in 1988. Australia’s most popular country music artist, the late Slim Dusty was given the honor of unveiling this magnificent tourist attraction.

The Big Golden Guitar, Tamworth
The Big Golden Guitar, Tamworth

The best time to come and view the Golden Guitar would have to be when the Tamworth Country Music Festival is on in January where an estimated 50,000 people gather to celebrate the festival and country music itself. Though if crowds are not your thing then December might be a better time, crowd and weather wise.

 

Party Pad to Respectable Hotel – The Clarence Hotel, Dublin, Ireland

Once a regular party pad for U2 and The Edge, this hotel was up for sale in the 1990’s and surprise surprise, bought by U2 and The Edge who invested in its restoration. Though if you are looking for memorabilia or celebrity sightings I’m afraid you are more than likely going to be out of luck. There are other reasons for staying here though, for example the Tea Room which is actually a very up market restaurant and of course Cocktails in the cosy Octagon Bar.

Clarence Hotel, Dublin, Ireland
Clarence Hotel, Dublin, Ireland

The Clarence Hotel is located in Temple Bar which is the city’s party district, so if you are wanting a good night out on the town and good music then you won’t have far to travel.

I would love to know if anyone reading this has been to any of these location or any other music sights 🙂

What’s the Time Mr Wolf?

Clocks and calendars have been around for many hundreds of years, though not all have been as recognisable as they are today. I have found three of some of the most unusual and oldest clocks and calendars still found today.

Amazing Water Clock – Hornsby Water Clock, Australia

I would never have guessed this was a clock, it looks nothing like any clock I have ever seen before in my life, though its accuracy is precise. This time piece is not hundreds of years old, instead it was unveiled in 1993. What is truly amazing about this clock is that it is not just one clock but three and they are all water powered. There is a 4th century BC Greek clepsydra, an 11th century Chinese water wheeled clock and also there is a 17th century Swiss pendulum clock all in this one clock.

Hornsby Water Clock, New South Wales
Hornsby Water Clock, New South Wales

To top it off, this amazing clock has with it, not just one bell to tone the hour, but a 17 note bronze carillon to tone the hour. Don’t panic if you cannot understand these clocks, there are instructions found on plaques in front of each of these clocks.

 

Everything and More – Astronomical Clock, Prague, Czech Republic

This clock is very impressive, it not only tells you the time, it also shows the movement of the planets, the seasons, the moon and the zodiac and it does all that AND it has animated figures that move on the hour. You can see Vanity looking in a mirror of course, Death being a skeleton tolling a bell, a Jewish miser holding a bag of gold and an Infidel which is portrayed by a turbaned Turk. Not only that but you can also see a parade of the Twelve Apostles.

Astronomical Clock, Prague
Astronomical Clock, Prague

What more could a clock do? If you would like to see this clock in all its hourly glory then stand before it on the hour between 9am and 9pm daily, you can find this wonderful clock in Prague’s Old Town Square.

 

Clock of Two Hemispheres – Greenwich Meridian, London, England

East meets West here at the Greenwich Meridian in London, and in the Meridian Courtyard of the Royal Observatory you can put a foot on either side of the Meridian for that ultimate King-of-the-world feeling, or perhaps you are more interested in watching the famous red ball drop from the top of the Observatory, just as it has done at 1pm since 1833.

Greenwich Meridian, London
Greenwich Meridian, London

The best way to get to the Observatory is via the Thames, you can find out more here.

 

Rub a dub dub how many in the tub?

Having a lovely soak in a bath is a wonderful little indulgence after a hard week or even after a hard day, generally we just have a bath at home, provided we have a bath. How many of us go one step further and go somewhere a little bit special for a relaxing soak in a tub?

I’ve found a very romantic place place for a bath, a bath that would delight most men and another that is perhaps a little different but all would be relaxing and enjoyable. So lay back in that tub and have a read of three of the bath houses on offer around the world

100% Romance – Les Bains De Marrakech, Morocco

Looking for somewhere romantic for a honeymoon or perhaps you are looking to put a bit of romance back in your relationship? Have a look at Les Bains De Marrakech in Morocco, it is said to indulge all you One Thousand and One Nights fantasies.

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Les Bains De Marrakech

With its courtyards, sparkling fountains, carved alcoves and delightful scatterings of rose petals to add to the romance how can you not feel loved here? 🙂 As well as the traditional bathhouse experience including a scrub-down with black soap and wire mittens … there is a gentler experience, how about a chocolate body massage or even a candlelit bath for two, oh and between treatments, feel free to sprawl out on a comfortable pile of cushions and drink mint tea.

For a romantic time away in this lovely bath house, click here to see just what they have to offer.

Something for the men – Chodovar Brewery Beer Baths, Czech Republic

Ok, how many men out there love beer? How about bathing in beer? Yes you can actually do that. At the Chodovar Brewery they have large stainless steel tubs, including tubs for two, filled with a specially brewed bathing beer, add to that some crushed herbs and then topped off with a creamy foam ‘head’ and its as though you have shrunk and are floating in your very own pint of beer.

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Beer Bath from Chodovar Brewery, Czech Republic

Wait, it gets better, while you are soaking up the beer bath you can have a glass or two of the local brew from the bath side bar, accounts say its good for the pores 🙂

A trip to the Beer Wellness Land can be organised here.

How Roman – Vinotherapy, France

We’ve talked about a beer bath how about a wine bath? For all you wine lovers this could be just for you. To start off with you are rubbed with grape seeds and then smothered in honey, oil, wine yeast and then submerged in a wine-casket, this isn’t a small casket, you’ll be submerged up to your neck. This is what they call Vinotherapy, sounds very Roman if you ask me. For this interesting treatment you will need to go to Les Sources de Caudalie in Bordeaux.

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Vinotherapy tub

Apparently bathing in all this is supposed to be better for you than drinking it, in terms of beauty that is, they say it has the power to reduce wrinkles, stress and even cellulite. But don’t worry, you don’t just sit there and soak, this treatment occurs at a vineyard where you can enjoy all these bath ingredients the traditional way, as a glass of wine of course.

If you would like to plan some vinotherapy for yourself, please click here, word to the wise, strictly no drinking the bath water.

Incredible life under the waves

Whats the first creature you think of in terms of sea life, fish right? Just your average fish, but there is a lot more living under the waves than you might think. I’ve found three that are just amazing in their own special way.

Pretty Little Horses – Sea Horses, Sulawesi, Indonesia

I’ve always loved horses, whether they are found on land or living in the ocean, just something about them is so magical. Also love the parenting that happens between them with the male being the one to give birth to the hundreds of babies.

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Pygmy seahorse
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Pygmy seahorse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly though many sea horses are endangered because of how beautiful they are and also because of believed medicinal uses. I think they are wonderful creatures and should be left to live their quirky yet beautiful lives, how many other creatures in the sea swim upright and hold onto coral and each other with their tails?

If you have never seen a seahorse with your own eyes but want to, then you can go diving at the Wakatobi Resort in Sulawesi where you can see the beautiful pygmy seahorses.

 

Mermaids – Dugong, Philippines

Once thought by sailors to be mermaids, the Dugong is one of the mysterious creatures of the sea. Very similar to the Manatee, the Dugong is also called the ‘Sea Cow’ as it eats marine grass for at least half the day, surfacing every 20 minutes for air.

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Dugong

No longer hunted in huge numbers like it used to be, the Dugong is a very relaxed sea creature and can be quite curious, because of its size its only real predators are sharks, orcas and crocodiles.

Want to see these strange yet beautiful creatures, then make your way to Palawan Island in the Philippines where you have a good chance of seeing some Dugong. You can catch a ride with Pioneer Expeditions for a guided tour of these waters.

 

Spiky Royalty – Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish, Egypt

This has got to be the bad boy of the starfish world, brightly coloured yet covered in thorns, not just any thorns, these thorns pack a serious venomous whack, so be very careful if you ever come across one of these.

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Crown-of-Thorns Starfish

Starfish in general are incredible creatures, what other creature do you know has eyes on the ends of its arms, can grown an arm back if it gets cut off, breathes through its feet AND can remove one of its stomachs to help with digesting its prey?

If you are interested in seeing the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish the best place to go and see them is in the Red Sea, in particular the hull of Giannis D wreck located in the Straits of Gubal.

 

 

 

Impressive Canyons and Gorges

The most well known would be the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA and also Kings Canyon in Australia, so I’m going to avoid these and talk of three others that you might not know.

 

The Canyon Within – Fish River Canyon, Namibia, Africa

Who would have thought you could find a canyon within a canyon, in Namibia you can. Fish River Canyon measures 160km in length and is up to 27km in width, not only that though, the amazing inner canyon reaches a depth of up to 550m.

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Fish River Canyon, Namibia, Africa

Figures don’t give a very good impression of this canyon, they rarely do, canyons as with all of natures spectacles, need to be seen with our own eyes. You can take a five-day tour, 85km hike which is half the length of the canyon itself, this hiking route though is only open from May to mid-September and you will need to book in advance.

 

Deeper than the Grand Canyon – Canon Del Colca, Peru

100km long and plunging from 1000m to 3000m in depth is the Canon Del Colca, set among 6000m high volcanoes. Canon Del Colca is actually the second deepest canyon, the one that takes that title is Canon Del Cotahuasi, a neighboring canyon.

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Canon Del Colca, Peru

You can take a two-day hike into the canyon or a five-day hike, keep an eye out for condors, the biggest of the birds of prey.

 

Leaping Lizards! – Tiger Leaping Gorge, China

One of the deepest in the world at 16km in length and 3,900m from top of the snow capped mountain tops to the water of the Jinsha River. Best time to explore this gorge is in May up until the start of June when the hills are covered in plants and flowers.

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Tiger Leaping Gorge

Hikers once thought that hiking through this gorge was an obscure adventure but lately it has become one of the top things to do when in the area. Hiking this splendid gorge can take 3-4 days but if you are strapped for time you can do it in two days

Incredible Duct Tape Surfing

I’m not sure how many people out there know about this wonderful and amazing story, whether it is known overseas or just in Australia.

In the town of Elliston just a short drive from my hometown of Port Lincoln in South Australia, there is a lovely lady by the name of Pascale Honore who had a car accident some 18 years ago which left her a paraplegic which, you would think, left her dreams of surfing shattered. Pascale fell in love with the town of Elliston many years ago for the surf and the quiet and relaxing lifestyle, she also loves to watch her kids surf the waves that break on the reef just outside of town. Though she loved watching them it frustrated her immensely that she couldn’t be out there enjoying the surf with them.

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Surf at Elliston

Determined not to let her disability get to her, she got on with life but while waiting for the day she would walk again she wondered what to do, then it dawned on her, why not pursue her surfing dream? Thats when Ty, a professional diver and good friend of one of her sons, came up with a plan that would result in Pascale being able to surf thanks to a backpack, a roll of duct tape and a whole lot of courage.

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The backpack which Pascale wears.

How does this work, well the backpack now has leg holes cut in the bottom for Pascale’s legs, once her legs are in the holes she is lifted onto Ty’s back and another helper winds the duct tape around the pair’s shoulders, waists and legs.

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Getting strapped in.

Many people thought they were crazy and offered all kinds of suggestions like practicing with a 45kg backpack first, not a great idea considering it is a dead weight and not buoyant like a person is. They first practiced being towed behind a mate’s jet ski on flat water and found that they could do it, so it was then on to bigger and better things.

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Their very first wave

Ty and Pascale were strapped together and then on a surfboard they were towed out to the well known Blackfella’s reef break where the surfers in the water at the time, couldn’t quite believe what was going on but soon saw an amazing sight. Ty and Pascale’s first wave was a success, a wonderful memory that neither will ever forget, especially Pascale who remembers looking up and seeing all the colours of the wave above their heads and then feeling as though it was all over too soon.

The fun doesn’t stop there though, they have even been scuba diving together and they have been shark cage diving!

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Scuba Diving

Their next goal is a road trip in an old Toyota Coaster bus with a wheelchair lift, over to the Western Australian coast where pro surfer Ry Craike has promised to tow them into a big wave off Kalbarri. With a new surfboard thanks to Fanatic Surfboards and a duct tape sponsorship, the pair are floating on cloud nine and can’t wait for the big day.

1003311_167886713393453_165747577_nYou can follow their amazing story on Facebook by searching Duct Tape Surfing or simply clicking the link, if you are wanting to donate towards their road trip click here and you can take a look at their website which gives a reward for donations. 🙂

 

 

Who came up with that idea?

Art these days really can be interpreted in many many different ways, you can see this in the art galleries around the world and on the streets with all the graffiti that either looks, to some of us, like scribble, and then there is the graffiti that really has got a lot of detail in it and so it looks great. But have you ever come across a sculpture or a piece of art that just doesn’t look right?

I’ve come across three that just make me turn my head side ways and think ‘What were they thinking!?’

Hail to the Syringe – Enema Monument, Zheleznovodsk, Russia

The trusty syringe, unfortunately this isn’t the syringe we all think it is, if you know your medical instruments, or just looked up the word ‘Enema’ you would have pretty good idea of just what kind of syringe this is.

In Zheleznovodsk, Russia they thought to do a little tribute to this piece of medical equipment in the form of a bronze sculpture of three angels carrying a 360kg syringe bulb.

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Ename Monument, Russia

At the unveiling of this monument there was a banner strung up with the lovely message of ‘Let’s beat constipation and sloppiness with enemas.’

An Ogre – Kindlifresserbrunnen, Bern, Switzerland

Very well known sculptures, especially on postcards are these 11 decorative fountains which date back from the 16th century, all of different folklore characters and historic figures. They say the most famous of them all is in Kornhausplatz: The Kindlifresserbrunnen or Ogre Fountain.

Ogre Fountain (Kindlifresserbrunnen), Bern, Canton Bern, Switzerland
Ogre Fountain

Depicting an Ogre in historic clothing, with two children in a basket, one under his arm and another head first in his mouth! If you have misbehaving children then this might just be the place to take them.

Bit of This and That – Memento Park, Budapest, Hungary

Some countries are so very proud of their leaders, current or past that they erect statues or monuments in their honor. Memento Park in Budapest, Hungary is no different except for maybe having the widest variety of these statues, including ones from the scrapheap.

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Memento Park

Lenin and Marx are the favourites for this park which hosts over 50 different statues, busts and plaques. The most recent relics being erected back in the late 1980’s, there are even replicated relics of Stalin’s boots, which incidentally, were all that was left after a crowd pulled his huge statue down in the 1956 uprising.

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Memento Park