Running, again.

london marathon 2016

Regular readers of this blog (Hi Grandma and Grandad!) will remember that I ran the London Marathon earlier this year. I can no longer remember any of the pain and only look back at London with fond memories. I can’t imagine ever doing a race like that again. I am still running though and next month I’m taking part in the Bristol Half Marathon for the 4th time.

This will be my 5th half and so far each one has been faster than the last. I’m not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. So much pressure! When I was training for London, I found that I was beating my half marathon PB by a couple of minutes in my training runs. These runs were over 13 miles so I wasn’t pushing myself to beat the time, it just happened. This has made me determined to run faster again come Sunday 25th September. My ultimate aim is to go under 2 hours but that involves taking 6 minutes off my PB which is a big ask.

I’ve found my mindset has changed during my training this time around. Usually I really build up the big 10 or 11 mile training runs in my head because they’ll be the longest I run before race day. But a few months ago I running over 20 miles as a training run so these runs seem so much shorter in comparison. I even find myself saying that I *only* ran 10 miles! There is nothing only about running 10 miles! This change in mindset has made me more determined than ever to run faster. I feel really strong at the moment so touch wood that I don’t get injured and I’m happy with my time next month!

Stu is also running the race and this will be his first half marathon! He’s really tall which means his stride is a lot longer than mine so will probably beat me which is frustrating!

Wish us both luck and I’ll let you know how we get on!

Visiting Sydney Olympic Park

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I loved the Olympics! I found myself watching the most random sports and start talking about them as if I’m an expert (That triple spin in pike was cleeeeearly only a 12.25, how could the judges even justify giving a 15?!). Anyway, when Stu and I were in Sydney we decided to go check out the Olympic Park.

Getting to the stadium is actually quite cool. You can catch a ferry along the Parramatta River or get a train from the CBD. We got the ferry there and the train back to experience the best of both worlds! I’d recommend taking the ferry at least one way so you can take some great pictures of Sydney harbour and let’s face it, you can never have too many pictures of that!

The Sydney Olympics were probably the first Olympics that I remember watching. I watched Denise Lewis win Gold and then became obsessed with that game on the BBC website where you competed in the heptathlon.  All this meant that I was really excited to see an Olympic stadium. I haven’t been to the London Olympic Stadium and now West Ham play there so I doubt it would have the same effect to be honest!

The day Stu and I went, there was a big Easter family fun day going on so it was REALLY busy. However, because most of the families were local, they’d clearly seen all the tourist stuff before so Stu and I could get a good look at the Olympic torch and Olympic Cauldron.

Obviously the stadium would have been more impressive if there was a sporting event taking place as it was definitely missing the atmosphere which that would have provided but I was still pleased that we went. You only need to spend a couple of hours there maximum unless there is an event going on so take that in to consideration when planning your Sydney trip.

Have you been to any Olympic stadiums? What did you think?

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Should You Do A Bungee Jump Or A Skydive?

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Doing a bungee jump or a skydive are often right at the top of a backpacker’s bucket list. But more often than not, you can be a bit strapped for cash as a backpacker and you need to make difficult decisions on what to spend your money on. Personally I’d recommend doing a bungee and a skydive and living off noodles to make it happen but if you really have to choose then I’ve created some pros and cons to each to help you come to a decision.

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Price

In most locations, a skydive is going to be more expensive than a bungee. In Australia for example, a bungee will cost approximately $$$ but a skydive will set you back $$$. If you just want to experience one and only care about price then the bungee jump is the one for you!

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Time

By time I mean the amount of time you’re actually doing the bungee jump or skydive for. With a skydive, you’ll usually be in freefall for about a minute and then have a few minutes of floating down to the ground with the parachute open. On the other hand, the bungee will all be over in a matter of seconds. You jump, you fall, you bounce up and down a couple of times and then you’re either lowered to the ground or hoisted back up to the platform. So if you’re looking to get more value out of your hard earned money then you should definitely go for a skydive.

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Souvenirs

Souvenirs aren’t for everyone but I personally love them! The bungee that I did in Australia had a t-shirt included in the price but you had to pay for any extras such as photos or videos. Now the photo of you jumping off the edge is pretty cool but I couldn’t see much value in buying a 60 second video. In all honesty, how often are you going to watch that?

Now the skydives I’ve done in Australia had no freebies and you had to pay for everything. Again, you have the option to buy both photos and a video. Do NOT buy the photos if you’re planning on getting the video because you can take screenshots of the video when you play it on a laptop. Ta Da! Free photos! Having a video of your entire skydive is pretty cool but again, consider how often you’re going to watch it! If you’re low on money then souvenirs are probably not going to be an option but if you really want one then go for the skydive video.

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Fear Factor

The big difference in fear comes down to the fact that when you do a skydive, you’re attached to a trained instructor but when you do a bungee, you have to do the actual jumping bit on your own. Don’t get me wrong, both experiences give you a huge adrenalin rush but when you jump off that platform to do a bungee jump, you’re going against everything your body wants to do. Mt advice is to look straight ahead and jump as soon as the countdown reaches 0. Don’t be that person that takes about 4 countdowns before they can actually jump.

With a skydive, your instructor is the one who jumps out of the plane leaving you to enjoy the whole experience. Freefalling through the air doesn’t even feel like falling, you feel like you’re flying. It’s incredible.

Overall Experience

This is obviously down to personal opinion and you might feel completely different to me but I enjoyed the skydive so much more than the bungee jump. When I landed after my skydive I was on such a high that I wanted to get back in the plane and do it all over again. The views from a skydive are phenomenal and my instructor let me take control of the parachute for a bit which was cool.

I enjoyed the bungee but I wasn’t as fussed about doing one again in a hurry. I think that’s because it’s over so quickly. A skydive might cost more but it’s definitely worth the extra money. And if you buy the video, you get that exhilarating feeling all over again when you watch it back!

Have you done a bungee jump or a skydive? Do you agree with me?

 

Why You Should Keep A Diary When Travelling

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Life is full of wonderful experiences and when you’re surrounded by such fantastic sights and sounds, it seems impossible that you will ever forget this moment. But as we experience more and more equally wonderful moments, it can be hard to remember the little details which made it so special in the first place. This is why it’s important to keep a diary, especially when  travelling.

Ever since I was little I’ve been one to keep a diary. I now have lots of diaries to look back on from school days, holidays and everything in between. I cringe reading some of them again and I’m amazed at what I used to worry about. What scares me though is how many people and places I’ve forgotten about. They were important enough for me to mention in my diary and now I can barely recall them!

When you travel the world, you meet so many other travellers that it’s impossible to remember them all. You might only spend 1 day with them or it might extend to a few months. You add them on Facebook and then move on. But these people who you have crazy adventures with deserve to be remembered. So write about them! Put a face to the name when you discover pictures from your travels in years to come. It will prompt you to try and get back in touch with these people who were an important part of your life at one point.

Write everything you can about that trip you just went on. Describe the smells and the sounds as these are the first things you forget. Explain how something made you feel. It’s amazing how reading a diary can bring back so many memories. You’ll read your diary and find yourself laughing out loud one minute and crying the next as all the details come flooding back to you.

Lots of travellers I meet say that they started out with good intentions and kept a diary for the first couple of weeks but then forgot about it. I’m not saying you have to write in your diary everyday, you don’t want it to feel like a chore, but make the effort to write names, quotes and random memories down as much as possible. Add tickets, leaflets, photographs etc to your diary to help prompt the memories as well. If you’re anything like me then you will be keeping all of these things in your suitcase anyway!

Don’t let something as important as travel become a distant memory. Your diary will be worth more to you in years to come than that random vest you bought in Thailand.

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Afternoon Tea at Thornbury Castle

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For Valentines Day, Stu bought me a voucher for Afternoon Tea at Thornbury Castle and we finally got round to going last month. Tea and cake is always worth the wait, especially when you’re sat in a castle!

Our afternoon tea was booked in on a sunny Sunday afternoon so Thornbury Castle looked stunning. If you’re travelling by car, you arrive by driving past the vine yard and then under an archway into the Tudor castle grounds to park.


Our host sat us down on the comfiest armchairs in one of the castle’s drawing rooms where our table was already prepared for us. There were a few more guests that had already been served their afternoon tea but the whole atmosphere was very quiet and relaxed. You could tell everyone was savouring the experience rather than rushing through a meal.

Shortly after sitting down we were asked to select a type of tea from a selection on a menu.  I went for a green tea (my standard choice) and Stu chose Earl Grey. Our choices were then brought over to us in little tea pots which were kept topped up throughout the experience. All the teas are served loose so you need to remember to use the tea strainer. Stu forgot once so had a couple of stray leaves lurking at the bottom of his cup!


Next up was the main event, the sandwiches, scones and cakes! When the selection was put in front of us we were sure that we could manage to eat it all but it’s surprising how quickly you fill up on cake! All of the food was lovely and was obviously freshly prepared, the scones were still warm!


I expect the menu changes season to season but ours was delicious. The sandwich fillings included, crayfish, ham, cucumber and egg (not all in one haha!). We then moved on to the scones. You’re served two enormous scones each, one plain and one fruit but both equally yummy. The cakes consisted of a berry tart, carrot cake, coffee cake and a mint and dark chocolate macaroon. Definitely too much for us to eat in one sitting and it’s not often that Stu and I can’t finish a meal!


We had a lovely afternoon at Thornbury Castle so thank you to the staff who couldn’t do enough to make us feel welcome and thank you to Stu for the present. Happy Valentines Day!

 

Life Lately – We bought a house!

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I started this blog back in 2013 before Stu and I went on our year of travels. We’ve now been home for over a year and we’re about to embark on our biggest adventure to date because as of last Friday, we are officially home owners! It sounds strange to say that but I’m so proud of how far we’ve come since we’ve returned home.

Coming home from long term travel is hard but having a house deposit as goal to focus on has helped massively. Sure, there were times when we thought about spending our savings on a big trip again but I know we’ve made the best decision for us by buying our home. We can still travel, it will just be a different kind of travel and that’s totally fine with us.

I’m now really excited to making this house our own. We’ve both been going crazy on Pinterest the last couple of months and are full of ideas of how we want to decorate. We’re going to be pretty busy for a long time but I’m looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully I can share a few photos on here as things start to take shape.

Here’s to a bright and happy future!


 

Making The Most Of Each Day

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A lot of people talk about the importance of living each day as if it were your last but in all honestly, it’s pretty hard to do. How many of you are amazed at how quickly the days go? One minute you’re moaning on a Monday morning and then suddenly it’s the weekend again. I’m always saying that it’s scary how quickly time goes. I remember my mum saying that time goes even faster as you get older and it’s definitely true. So as a nation of procrastinators, how can we go about changing our mind set and actually making the most of each day?

I think a scare tactic works best. I recently watched this TED Talks video by Tim Urban and he talked about putting your life in to weekly squares. This is what your life (assuming you live until 90) looks like broken down into weeks.

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I don’t know about you, but to me, that doesn’t look like very squares at all. And that’s even if you live until 90! Seeing how far into that chart I am, it made me think about what I want to achieve in life and how long I have to do it. I definitely work best with a deadline and essentially, life does have a deadline. Just not one that we know about. I like to look at that chart when I find myself wishing the weeks away until an event. I should appreciate every week and not think of them as weeks that need to hurry up until I do something fun.

I hope that chart has made you think twice about only ‘living for the weekend’ and that you can start to make small steps towards making the most of each day.