Dictionary.com Chooses a 2013 Word of the Year with Gravitas

Originally posted on Tech:

Can you summarize 2013 in a single word? Dictionary.com, which touts itself as the most-visited online dictionary, thinks so — and the one it’s chosen, thank heavens, is not “twerk.”

Instead, it’s a word which, pretty much by definition, is deeply serious: “privacy.”

In an infographic it prepared to explain its choice — see below — Dictionary.com itemized 30 privacy-related news stories from 2013. They include by far the biggest one of the year: Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s sweeping covert surveillance of Internet traffic. But the list also covers everything from the discovery that it’s possible to recover Snapchat photos after they’ve disappeared to the incident in which a Seattle eatery kicked out a patron who was wearing Google Glass.

Unlike “twerk,” “privacy” is about the furthest thing possible from a neologism, but Dictionary.com said that was a point in its favor. “etymologically, ‘privacy’ is such an…

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Happy 4 years together…

We’ve been together 4 years today, although there may be no ring on my finger just yet, instead our money is being spent on making lots of a memories and sharing experiences together for now, a pricey engagement and wedding can wait for our return.

As we plan to spend another year ahead together living and working in Australia the obvious gift to get my man was the GoPro Hero3+ (black edition) of course. With a few additional playthings (headstrap, stands etc) to ensure he gets some good footage of his hobbies during our trip.

His face was a picture and it makes me happy too, I’ve been wanting an underwater camera for ages, so guess it’s a gift for the both of us.

So here’s to the adventure ahead “Go Pro, be a Hero”.

In love,

AllyElly

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Mojo Surf – Spot X Camp

Surfing was always something I wanted to do, especially as Jake was a great lover of surfing.. so stoked when I found out this was included on our trip. Spot X Camp was amazing, the staff were so down to earth (as were all we’d met actually during our trip) but here it was so relaxed and all about the surf.

We had 3days and Nights here with 2 days of lessons included in our prize with Mojo Surf @ Spot X Camp – It was really good they taught us about the basics about understanding the waves and how to surf safely.

Spot X Surf is nestled right along the east coast. It’s what we like to call ‘ultimate beachfront’ since you can see the ocean from pretty much every one of our accommodation options and it might take you 1 minute to walk to the beach if you’re a slow walker. It’s the perfect place to learn to surf, chillout, make new friends, hang by the campfire and explore the beautiful surrounds where you’ll see kangaroos, whales, dolphins and maybe even find some cool rock pools to swim in.

Could I surf?!

Well.. after some hilarious and shocking attempts I’m so chuffed to say I actually stood up during my second last attempt at catching a wave.. Okay, so it took me a little more time to get the hang of it, but it was typical the photographer missed it so I have no evidence other than my surf buddies to vouch for me! “Yeeeeeeew” (I quite liked sitting on the surfboard though to be honest, more like me - ‘the lazy way to surf’)

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Someone thought they were a pro surfer though *cough, cough Jake* … such a show off, acted like he’d never done it before to all the staff! Cheeky so and so!

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Surfing was so much fun!! So glad I got to do it during my time in Australia it really is such an amazing feeling actually catching a wave and standing. I could really see myself getting into it if I lived by the beach… just a little more practice and I’d be like Mr show off up there ^^^

Other than the surfing, I have to mention the camp was actually lovely too! Staff have us the loveliest welcome and it had a real beach life feel to it and all our food was included in our stay, we was welcomed to a full Sunday roast dinner.. Which was so delicious! So do take an Appetite with you if you plan to visit here!

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Have to say I’m super tired though; my poor arms weren’t prepared all the paddling. I shall sleep well tonight.

“Yeeeeewwww” – AllyElly x

Frazer Island

Right this post is going to be a quick one.. I only have 30mins of wifi use.

So our next planned itinerary was another tour this time a 4×4 adventure on the soft sand beaches of Frazer Island. So excited!

We flew straight from Alice Springs via Sydney to Brisbane then Nambucca to Noosa.. after a killer of a 17 hour trip (1 coach, 2 taxis, 1 train and 2 flights later we had arrived at our check in for the night.

It was a late night welcome to a pitch black hostel filled room of 10 people and due to our late arrival.. The joys of backpacking meant you guessed it, top bunks for the night it was for me and Jake yawn, I was too tired to care where I slept that night.

To add salt to our tired wounds we have to be up for 6am to watch a safety video for the trip ahead which told us -

“warning this is a dangerous island with Dingos and poisonous wildlife as well as the serious dangers and difficulties of driving on the shores and in soft sand…”

Oh joys, was just what we needed to hear half asleep first thing in the morning… But it was fine, I wasn’t the one behind the wheel this trip.

Another 2hour bus journey and we’d arrived at our 4×4 pick up. Yay!!

It was another awesome group ;14 of us this time … We got off to a quiet start but soon as it was time for the first driver and driving to begin, the ice soon melted. And we were Dingo Buddies for Life!

you’re English right? Driving here is just like at home, you should drive first

says the Dutch and Swedes… Hmmm jakes face was a picture, all this change in 2-4 wheel drive, high and low rage, wasn’t exactly what we were used to with a little ford fiesta back home. But we took one for the team! Our bumpy journey began!!

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Right… so our 4×4 got stuck at the first soft sand hill… It was a lot harder than you think to drive on soft sand. And this happened continuously throughout the trip sad face as our tour guide kept saying via walkie-talkie every time we got stuck “you know what that means… Everyone out and push!” Urgh I definitely lost some serious bingo wings on this trip.

It was giggles though and serious team work.

Frazer Island

With its lush rainforest, towering hardwood forests, endless golden beaches and crystal clear freshwater lakes and streams, Fraser Island is a precious natural wonder.

This stunning world heritage listed paradise is also home to Australia’s most pure Dingo blood line as well as many other species of Australian wildlife.

It really was as described. Absolutely stunning!

I remember glancing over at Jake whilst he was behind the wheel looking behind him through the side window seeing the blue ocean, waves crashing at the shore so close to where we were driving, with the fresh air breeze and sun beaming down… Just felt like paradise.

The Island itself felt so untouched, wildlife was all around us (sea and in-land), fresh water lakes and gorgeous coastal views. The view from Indian Head was absolutely stunning – we saw turtles and rays swimming by the rocks.
Just relaxing and sunbathing in Champagne Pools was so refreshing too, made a nice change compared to our last hiking tour.

Here’s a few captured moments.

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We met some really lovely travellers in our tour group from all over the world, who definitely made the trip a good laugh and lots memories. At night we all took a stroll down to the beach to watch the nights sky and it was really something – stars everywhere, had us all feeling very emotional / grateful thinking about what we had all done and seen throughout our travels and funny how the simplest of things like a clear nights sky can be one of the most memorable moments.

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Feeling blessed right now :)

(With 7mins left)

Ally Elly

Northern Territory – RED CENTRE

So the next part of our Prize trip through BBM Live involved travelling up to the Northern Territory/Central Australia.

The Ghan

We travelled from Adelaide to Alice Springs via Great Southern Rail on The Ghan. This was a one night and two days, one way 1,559km journey across the outback. On one of the biggest carriages they’ve loaded in a long time – connecting all 3 sections.

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This experience was one to remember, and a different way to go across country. The cheerful staff accompanied by swing music throughout the journey, made this really something special. It’s the little things you appreciate just by looking out the window, sinks in the reality of the vast open space we were travelling through, seeing kangaroo’s, wild horses / cows and camels, watching the sunset and sunrise again..

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We arrived early morning, to a scorching 38degrees in Alice Springs (slight shock when stepping off from the air-conditioned train)

Our stay for the night was at Alice Haven Resort which we luckily were able to have our own dorm, which was spacious, clean and had a beasty air-con! Happy AllyElly the resort staff here were very friendly and helpful and even gave us a cheeky congratulations on our prize. A quick walk around the town centre for dinner and sunbathe by the pool was all I could manage after a 24hour long train journey, still feeling jetlagged.

Red Centre Tour – Way Outback

Rise and shine to an early start time of 6am on a tour with Way Outback on the 3 Day Goanna Dreaming Red Centre 4WD Safari

I really didn’t know what to expect from this tour at all.. But I was pleasantly surprised and grateful we got the opportunity to have this included in our prize.

Wayoutback offers an authentic outback adventure with a touch of style and quality. Travel with a small group (maximum 21 people) in a purpose built 4-wheel drive vehicle. As well as experiencing the wonders of Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Watarrka (Kings Canyon), we’ll give you the opportunity to really experience the desert – driving on dirt roads, private bush camps, eating quality food cooked over a campfire and sleeping under the clearest southern stars you can imagine.

Our group was only 11 people dropping down to 10 after the first night, all young ‘hearted’ and confident, active group!… So the adventure began with 4x English, 1x English/Spaniard, 2x Germans, 1x Canadian, 1x French, 1x Italian and 1x Swede for an outback camp and discovery.

Our tour guide – Sean was a perfect match with our small group, very down to earth and full of local knowledge, Australia facts and life experiences / stories to pass the long driving journeys across the outback. His witty humour and Aussie slang was a good gel with our group, having some funny banter during our hikes and nights around the campfire. I really do highly recommend him as a tour guide: having passed other groups throughout this experience looking bored, lost and having no respect for their guides – guess we got lucky with our group.

Ayers Rock

The first major stop on this trip was the ‘must see’ when we were going to central Australia and I totally agree, it really is breathtaking to physically see, the scale and history behind these rocks to the aboriginal culture is amazing.

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Uluru (Ayers Rock) emerges steeply from the desert sand and smoothes off toward the peak in what seems a rather unlikely shape for such a large rock. It is an absolutely breathtaking sight even for the most seasoned of travellers, taking on a stunning array of red and brown shades from dawn to dusk and sun to shade. It even transforms from the more familiar shades of red to grey during infrequent rain, with a myriad of small waterfalls cascading down its banded sides.

Uluru stands an imposing 348 metres above the surrounding desert and has a circumference of 9.4km. It measures 3.6 km long and 2.4 km wide oriented in an east-west direction. Rather like an iceberg, there is more of Uluru under the ground than above it which really brings home the enormity of it. Formed in Cambrian times, it was later tilted through uplift and folding so the horizontal strata now sits at almost 90˚ which gives it the distinct vertical banding.

Uluru is made of feldspar rich sandstone called arkose which is mainly grey and white. The distinctive rust colour is caused by a thin coating of iron oxide on the outer skin. The changing colours of red at sunset are caused by light refraction as the sun sinks in the sky. The lower the sun goes it has to travel through more of the earth’s atmosphere which bends the blue light away leaving the red light to intensify the Rock’s red colour.

I’d also recommend one of our little stops – ‘The Culture Centre’ which was also within the national park. It’s definitly worth a visit to learn about aboriginal way of life, beliefs and traditions. As our a tour guide explained they are limited to what traditions/stories they are able to share in respect of their culture, therefore more information is available here.

As the evening was drawing closer we headed up onto a sand dune overlooking Uluru, Ayers Rock to watch the sunset. Again another beautiful moment.

So we set up camp for the first evening This was something being quite the ‘girlie-girl’ and great lover of big comfy beds with ‘lots’ of pillows I was unsure what to expect. However I surprised myself! The warmth of a campfire and sleeping in a ‘Swag’ – one person tent sleeping bag under the stars is definitely an experience I will never forget, so peaceful and the stargazing. Must have seen 5+ shooting stars before I dosed off to sleep.

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Just want to mention; over dinner Sean told the group about one of his recent travels, to which him and his family (wife and 2x boys) travelled around the whole of Australia visiting ‘The Big Things‘ on trikes. It was really inspiring to hear about this trip, he explained to us his wife is a film maker and singer-songwriter to which she filmed and produced the whole trip in the hope of selling the footage on to a television company. But they are yet to have anything come of this, which saddens me. The story was something of great interest to me, random and funny which I’m sure many other travellers would also be interested in – maybe one day, check out their website!!! See the link above.

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Another early morning rise of 4am to catch the sunrise over Ayers Rock. Our guide played peaceful music as we woke and packed up / had breakfast in the morning darkness.

On route to the viewing spot our guide said “this was something special, clouds were in the sky for the first time in months” and he was right the colour of the sky was indescribable during sunrise. I stood up on a viewing spot with my partners arms around me watching the sky change through a beautiful blend of colours – one of those moments you just stand in silence and let nature do the talking. :)

Kata Tjuta

This was our next big visit on tour for the day, again it was a hot day and the hike was better suited to an early morning start to avoid the heat. I can honestly say I’ve never really done a walk that was over a couple of hours, so 4hours was quite daunting, however the company really did pass the time and having the pace of the group encouraged me to keep going! :) proud Pat on the back AllyElly.

Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) are approximately 30km to the west of Uluru stand the equally stunning 36 domes forming Kata Tjuta. The highest peak, Mount Olga, stands even higher than Uluru at over 500 metres. These two icons of Central Australia and the surrounding desert now form the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park which encompasses 132,566 hectares and is a World Heritage listed area. It was listed in two stages, originally for its outstanding universal natural values and later, for its outstanding universal cultural values. It puts those cultural values into perspective when you think that the local Aboriginal people have been living in the area for somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 years and are intrinsically linked culturally, spiritually and economically to both Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

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Time to collect fire wood Oh dear, I’m useless with these things!! We pulled over from the open road and all participated in collecting wood for the camp fire in the open desert -This was more challenging than you think! Once you wander into the vast openness it’s so easy to loose your bearings and not to mention the sharp surroundings everywhere in the desert. We teamed up and headed in separate directions in search of some good wood, I joined with the other couple who we’re travelling in our group (the Italian and swede – so lovely), however we only collected only 3x pieces between us?! – gutted, such a poor effort!!!

Luckily the lads / French and German girl saved the day with a JACKPOT find. Having my Jake carry almost a whole tree back to the trailer haha. Man points earned. *High 5*

It was time to set up camp for another early night under the stars in our comfy ‘swags’. This was one of my fave nights, although my little toe was practically a massive blister. But stories and banter were flying that evening! The ice had officially been broken. :)

Our guide also introduced us all to ‘damper’ that evening… Interesting…

Australian Damper
Modern version to bake
in the oven or try on a campout.

Ingredients…
450 grams (3 cups) flour, self-raising
¼ teaspoon salt
180 ml (6 fl oz) milk – if the mixture is too dry, add a little more milk
1 teaspoon sugar, caster (sugar, granulated)
80grams (1/3 cup) butter, chilled extra flour as needed
Method…
1. Mix the flour, salt and sugar together into a bowl.
2. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
3. Add milk slowly and mix to form a soft dough.
4. Knead lightly on a floured board until smooth. Shape into a round loaf, brush with milk and cut a cross in the top surface of the dough.
Or for oven cooking…
5. Grease and dust with flour a round cake tin. You can substitute a flat baking pan, but the round tin gives a better shape to the loaf.
6. Place dough in the pan and bake in a preheated oven at 190° C (375° F) for 30 – 40 minutes.
Or for campfire cooking…
5. Grease the camp oven (Dutch oven) and dust with flour. Add bread dough and cover.
6. Place in your campfire, cover with hot ashes and coals and bake for about 30 minutes.

Personally I wasn’t a fan, but all the other campers seemed enthusiastic to finish it off, so maybe I’m just too fussy. Maybe give it a try at home, see what you think?

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King Canyon

This was the last big visit on our trip, we set off at 5am to avoid the high-heat due that day of 40degrees – “Crickey” …. this was longest hike, advised can take up to 4hours (depending on the group) with a steep ‘heart attack hill’ climb to begin with. But our group absolutely killed it… *High5* ‘jobs a gooden’ and finished at 9:30am, amazing what you can do in the morning when you get up early!

Again the scale of this Canyon and surrounding views were just stunning. In comparison to England and ‘the moors’ back home which are cold, wet and earthy green. This place was the complete opposite; HOT, dry and RED.

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Sadly, after this hike, it was home time.

Over just 3 days we’d grown to learn a lot about each other, having walked and talked, sharing stories and experiences around the campfire. Nicknames were established – Canadian ‘tripod’, French ‘princess’ and even ‘Springs’ for myself. It was goodbyes and trivia time on things we had learnt on the trip, combining Red Centre facts and questions about each other for the bus journey home. My team “tripod” – which was the Canadian and Frenchy… Again killed it aka… we WON!

With my Jakes team coming runners up, aghhh-di-dums! (I do think the win was partly because the Canadian was insanely clever, plus had lived in Alice Springs for 2months – so just a slight advantage…) but guess my lucky streak hasn’t ran out just yet.

Overall, It was a short but memorable adventure having made new friends and wishing each other well on the rest of our travels, hoping to possibly cross paths again one day! I came out of this tour feeling proud – I actually coped in the outback camping, challenged myself physically and learnt new skills / facts. Would 100% recommend the experience to anyone who plans to visit The Outback, a real insight to the history and culture of the real Australia.

Now to catch a flight to the East Coast for the next leg of the trip.

Ally “Springs” Elly, x

P.S. I still haven’t seen one spider?! And only have one mosquito bite?… Huh? Touchwood it stays this way!!!