Got a reason

January 19, 2009

Having tried (often in vain) to train and get fitter ‘because I should’,  I now have a very good reason to have to improve my fitness and stamina.  I have taken up a place on a group walking event to do the Welsh 3000’s  in May.    For those of you who are not so familiar with hill walking and mountain type stuff, it is 15 Welsh mountain summits over 3000 ft.  This trip isn’t a 24 hour challenge (thank God!)  it’s over 3 walking days – so we can do them in daylight – but it is probably still going to be one of the hardest things I have ever done.  However, I really like mountain walking, and Wales is one of my fave locations, so as far as challenges go – this is right up my mountain track.

So I now have 17 weeks of training ahead of me before the event, (which I will need!)  but I am really looking forward to it – and let’s face it, if there was ever a motivational factor to be had it’s the combination of wanting to be able to complete the challenge, and even more so NOT wanting to be the unfittest one at the back!!!

Training programme starts 9a.m. tomorrow…  let’s get going! 😀

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Knowing things

January 15, 2009

Sometimes, if you don’t know the outcome of events, it can feel like reading a book and having the script taken away from you before a chapter is finished. Then you are left only wondering without any certainty what has happened to the characters.

For me, a chapter finished this evening.   Sorry for the cryptic approach but somethings, particularly when they are about other people’s lives, are not for blogging in detail. But for whatever reason I now feel I know the whole story, like I have finished the overall book and can now put it down. I feel at peace with it.  Time for a new book.

Round up

December 23, 2008

Oops one month no bloggage…  Well I have been a busy bunny.  At time of writing the last entry I was up in Wales, had a fab walking weekend.  Since then I have had our green job christmas weekend, complete with party of course, then spent another in Whitby for some more walking (very soggy!)  and had a little gathering of friends for some festive socialising.  In between I have had to work some shifts too of course.  Can’t be avoided but it helps when they are good days in the office, so to speak 🙂

Ok, the food experiment.  Turns out I a) didn’t have as much as I thought/my housemate seemed to think (he reckoned it would feed me til about April) b) I eat healthier than I realised as on trying to put meals together kept finding a lack of fruit and vegetables, so was forced to shop!  But anyway the freezer is now slightly more sensibly proportioned in content.

Had a rearrangement of the living room/study bit of the house, in preparation  for some decorating DIY in the New Year as per a previous blog I don’t like the colour.  I also have a very large souvenir from Thailand in the form of a fabric wall hanging which I want to put up – but can’t til the painting is done, so it should motivate me to get on and do it quickly.

No last-minute shopping horrors for me:  I did most of my christmas present purchasing online or early, and am staying away from all town centres for the next 3 days at least.  Maybe I am just old-fashioned, or perhaps its my ‘pink-and-fluffy-optimist’ mentality about life, but there is something very sad and a bit frightening about human beings getting so stressed and angry at each other when they are shopping for presents and food!  A certain supermarket near me was like a war zone (well to be fair it often is anyway!!!) with young mums f-ing and blinding about sprouts and carrots (get some perspective ladies!) – I am going for the opt-out strategy on all that angst!!!

I am however working tonight and christmas eve on twiglet^ shifts in my friendly local A&E, so I will be there to witness peace on earth and goodwill to all men (“except that ****ing t*at who get in me face man!”) as it arrives by ambulance.  Bring on the love…  😀

^ like a night shift, but better cos you get to go home to bed part-way through!!!  🙂

Free

November 21, 2008

(Edit – Mon 24 November – on having discovered no text in blog)

Hmmm – seems this actually published itself as an empty blog…  I was using my pda to write an entry but I don’t think it worked very well, giving only a title and no body of text.  Anyway, it was just about me being in Wales for a walking weekend and using the free wi-fi to tell you that I was there…

Don’t panic.  No predictions or current intelligence indicate impending atomic warfare.  It’s just my little brain being intrigued by the contents of my freezer.

I shall explain.  Today I decided I really ought to defrost the freezer part of my fridge-freezer, because it has been about 2 years since it last got done, and slowly has accrued a layer of ice which is now trying to stop free movement of the drawers  (It is important that one’s drawers can move unimpeded, as I am sure you will agree).  Luckily I had acquired a second freezer ages ago, kindly given secondhand from Nobby’s Mum when she got a new one, so I started loading food into that to keep frozen while I set to sorting out the glacier.

Anyway, point being that I have all sorts of odds and ends in there, as when cooking for one (sigh) its easy to have extra, and I wondered how long I could live off of these frozen provisions?  The ex husband always whinged about me being thrifty with spare food (blame my mother for that one!) – he thought I should throw it away instead – and would ask if I was storing it up for a nuclear winter…

So begins my food experiment:  I will make meals from what I have already in the freezer and cupboards and see how long before I run out and need to shop.  My only exceptions are milk, yoghurt and fresh fruit.  See how far I get – Watch this space! 🙂

Back to normality

November 16, 2008

OOPS!  I just realised that I hadn’t written anything on my blog since arriving home from my travels.  Time to fill in the gaps then, so this may end up being something of a multi-blog 🙂

To that end then I think I will make use of some sub-headings and different colours (woohoo)

TOUCHDOWN

My flight landed at 19.30 p.m. 3rd Nov (blimey 2 weeks ago, I have been slack!!) and my parents kindly came to pick me up from Heathrow.  I thought I was going to feel the cold but actually it wasn’t too bad when I got there.  Only problem was the time difference:  to my body it felt like 7 hours ahead = getting back to the house at 10 p.m. feeling like 5 a.m. – a REALLY long day.  But it was great to be home.  Over the next few days I did have a few probs with the jetlag, and what with shifts (I felt I ought to do some work after 4 and a half weeks off) and then a green weekend with its standard 0630 rise times, the first 7 days back in the country were spent feeling rather tired.

PLYING MY TRADE

Since I came home my work prospects have widened and I have been able to get more A&E shifts which is great as it means I will keep my specialist skills up to date.  Its also good to experience different units and see how other hospitals run their A&E departments, because – it may come as a surprise – they are not all the same.  In fact I am finding quite substantial differences between some of them!  Still really enjoying the flexibility of agency working, which I have to keep explaining to people I meet who always ask me if I want to apply for a “proper” post (!) – Not at the moment! 🙂

PLANS

I spent the time I was travelling thinking about my next steps and what I want in life.  All very deep and meaningful eh?  I have a whole lot of ideas for the future, some short term, some longer, some relatively trivial, some more important.  As and when I will write about those, but for now a few of these resolutions are:

  • Get out hill walking more It is one of my favourite things, but I seem to get to do it so little which is mad.  Putting that right already, and next weekend I am off to Wales for a walking break.
  • Redecorate the living room This may seem a strange one, but I hate the colour scheme (my ex husband chose it and I had no say in the matter) and it has annoyed me for ages, so its time to shop for paint and get cracking!
  • See more films Even still, people marvel at me “you’ve never seen ____?!” etc.  I have a long list to get through…

UNLEVEL FIELD

My local supermarket has a scheme at the moment whereby it makes donations in support of charities around the area.  Shoppers can vote for one of three charities nominated at any time, that the company will then donate to.  When you pay for your shopping they give you a token which you drop into the container appropriate to your choice of charity.  A very honourable idea, I would agree.  The only issue that I have with this system is the representation on offer at any one time.  At the moment we have a day-care centre for the elderly, vs. an animal rescue, vs. a rape and sexual assault counselling service.  How on earth can you make a choice about what is most deserving?  In my opinion, put 3 different animal charities together and let shoppers choose which one should get the donation.  Then next month put three charities which help victims of abuse.  Etc.  How can you compare the needs of animals with the needs of abused women?  Or of dying children (last month a childrens hospice was up against another animal charity)  Don’t get me wrong, animal rescue is sadly very needed, but every month is it winning over the womens/childrens charities…  an interesting phenomenon in itself:  perhaps it is because animal rescue is, in people’s minds, ‘warm and fluffy’, whereas having to acknowledge that rape and sexual assault happens, is not.

TELEVISION APPEARANCE

No, not me.  possibly my sis and bro-in-law, but we won’t know until tonight’s Top Gear.  Yes, the lucky so-and-sos got themselves into the audience and spent last Wednesday down at the hangar watching the programme be filmed, and having lots of photos of themselves taken with the presenters.  Jealous?  Yep.  Off to watch the box then!

And then there was one

November 1, 2008

I am the last one left in our start and finish hotel from the trip now – the Aussie girl left this morning for her flight home and one other remaining Brit girl checked out as well –  to go and do a Thai massage course, so she is staying in cheaper digs for the 5 days.

Less than 48 hours left of my travels now, making the most of the cheap shopping, and praying that my bags are not over the weight allowance!!!

Time to go again…

7 days in the sun

October 27, 2008

I have 7 days left before I fly home – the last 3 and a half weeks has flown by!

I am now down on the island of Koh Pha Ngan, on the East Coast of the southern part of Thailand.  This is the area made famous by the novel “The Beach” and is far more touristy than the North of the country.  It is lovely, and a good place to come for some relaxation after a hectic early part of our tour.  The bungalows complex where we are staying 3 nights is particularly chillout-inducing and is right on the beach.  Despite the rain (we have had daily showers – in which 2-3 inches of rain may fall in a very short time –  but blue sky returns not long after) it is warm here (26-28 deg) and the sea is nice for a swim.

Today we went snorkelling off the northern coast of the island, saw loads of sealife: so many different types of fish, big ones and tiny ones, sea urchins, sea slugs, a very big clam, and some amazing blue anemone type things about the size of footballs!  This was only my 2nd time snorkelling but it was much better than the previous experience 🙂

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time away and am really glad I did it, and it has made me a bit inclined to set off on more travels in the not too distant future!  But I also have lots of other plans afoot so I will have to see what I can fit in!!!  Looking forward to getting home and getting on with stuff, but making the most of the time left on holiday here before I do 🙂

Passing through

October 18, 2008

Passing through Bnagkok that is on our way to the South Thailand part of the trip – having spent 2 fab weeks exploring the North of the country – right up as far as the border with Mayanmar (Burma), including 3 days jungle trekking (38 degree heat and 90% reltaive humidity…  I should never complain about a six mile CFT ever again LMAO) we got into Bangkok at about 7a.m. on the night train from Chiang Mai.

Apologies for the lack of blogs between the last and this, but frankly I am not making too much pains to find internet access; actually it is nice to be sans mobile phone and somewhat incommunicado.  So I will update as and when but I hope nobody was expecting regular publications!

The train journey was made entertaining by the lovely ‘Natalie’.  “She” is a transvestite stewardess aboard the night sleeper service, and I have to say s/he makes Julian Clary look like a straight man.  Never a dull moment on our journey!  I did think it may have been stretching my morale though at 5.55a.m. to be woken to the dulcit tones of “wakey wakey my girls!!  Time to be getting up my darlings!”  I have had a few frightening awakenings in various circumstances but that topped them off LOL

The 3 day trek was to visit some remote hill tribes in the Northern part of Thailand.  The tour operator that we are travelling with (Intrepid) works with an organisation called the PDA – Population & community Development Association – to help with projects and education etc.  We visited 2 villages and got the chance to meet some of the local children, and see some of the work that had been done so far.  Anyone interested in finding out more about PDA could google “the condom king” and see what you get – reducing the growth rate of the Thai population was one of their major achivements since 1974!!!!!

We have visited so many places in just a short fortnight, and now we come to the less manic more holiday part of the trip, heading South to the beaches of Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, but before that I get the chance to return to possibly my favourite place on the planet, Kao Sok National Park.  I came to Thailand in 2006 on my POTL for 2 weeks (too short, hence the return trip) and I was amazed by this place: so tranquil, I could hear no man made sounds; just animals and birds, and the water on the lake.  That was the first time I had been anywhere so peaceful.  Looking forward to going back! 🙂

Let the adventure begin

October 6, 2008

I am writing this from an internet point at our stay over tonight in Kanchanaburi – 2nd stop on my trip following on from Bangkok.  Arrived into the country early Saturday morning 0545 local time, after a lovely flight (Thai airways) in economy class but actually felt quite luxurious, not least of because I had 3 seats to myself for the whole way over 🙂  Very well looked after by the cabin crew and I’d recommend them as a carrier for anyone flying to SE Asia.

Spent Saturday firstly getting settled, I was lucky and even though the detail said I could book in from midday, when I arrived at 0730 was allowed straight to my room.  Got changed then headed out for a wander and some late shopping (alarm clock, shirt – for when you have to be very modest e.g. in temple visits, and insect repellent).  Had a snooze in the afternoon (damned jetlag) then out for some dinner and another look around the streets.  The hotel was on a street parallel to the famous Kao San Road – backpacker central – and is as colourful as was reported.  Apart from the continuous stream of hawkers trying to get you to buy their wares, or take a taxi or Tuk-Tuk ride, you can wander at your leisure among many stalls and street vendors.  Good Thai food to be had on the street stall, and cheaper than in restaurant of course.  There is a lot of vegetarian and meat choices available, noodles, rice, etc.

Sunday I took a Tuk-tuk ride to Dusit Zoo.  I had planned to visit a park in the city, but was told that it was shut (a ploy by the drivers to try and get you to go with them to shops such as jewelry dealers etc.)  I had a discussion then opted for the Zoo on the basis of a negotiated fare.  The ride was not as hair-raising as I had thought it would be, mind you we did seem to go at a leisurely pace!  Dusit Zoo is quite nice, I felt a total minority as it is obviously a place where Thai families with children come to enjoy an afternoon 🙂  But animals are transcultural and I enjoyed having a look around.  All seemed to be well looked after and as “free range” as they could ne within the confines of large enclosures.  The tuk-tuk back to the hotel was a different matter, I think I met the bangkok road rage tuktuk man… LOL every bit of traffic queue or other vehicle seemed to get a torrent of verbal  outpouring.  Not sure what it was but the tone seemed fairly annoyed!

Sun eve met up with the group for the Northern leg of travel; unlike last tiem this trip had only filled to 6 people, all girls, and our tour leader, Bom.  He is Thai and comes from the North where we will be going in a few days.  The 5 who I am with are one Aussie, one German and 3 Brits.  Among them another nurse as well.  We all get on well so far and everyone seems laid back which is great.

So today we set off, this morning in a longtail boat along the Khlongs (canals) in Bangkok to look at the scenery, then stopped at a pier to disembark for the Wat Pho – one of the many Wat (temples) in Bangkok, this one has the largest reclining Bhudda.  It is a huge gold painted statue and the undersides of the feet are decorated with mother of pearl inlaid ornate patterns.  Very hot, and as with all temples you have to wear long trousers or skirts and covered tops (no shoulders on view).  Glad to get back out in the cool. 

After the Wat Pho we taxi’d back to the hotel then had some lunch before starting the North leg from Bangkok bus station.  2.5 hours, but with air conditioning (yippee!) and cold water provided, again very well looked after.  We arrived in Kanchanaburi at about 4.45pm and were met by 7 rickshaws to take us to the guesthouse here.  Like a primitive tuk-tuk, the driver has to cycle to pull the carriage.  I liked this much more than the motorised kind!  Although I did feel a bit sorry for them they had to pedal very hard up one bit in particular!!!

Before dinner the rickshaw men came back and we went out once more to visit 2 places in the town; firstly a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, in which are buried hundreds of Allied soldiers who dies here during the second world war.  Many of them were PoW’s and were made to work biulding the “Death Railway” for the Japanese to use for supply lines.  Alongside the soldiers hundreds of Thai civillians were also forced to work and subsequently lost their lives through the intense labour and poor nutriton and treatment they endured.  Then we went to visit the “Bridge on the River Kwai” – part of the death railway.   I had not expected to visit this location, in fact I didn’t realise it was here, and it was quite moving, especially after my other recent battlefield visits as well.

Now after a nice evening meal together we are relaxing ready for tomorrow, going to see the Erawan waterfall, which sounds like it will be lovely.  Must go, internet time nearly up and this needs posting!  More soon…