Month: October 2017

@~?.:_+=!

That’s how much swearing I have done over the weekend!

Not because I have been angry or stressed but due to the aftermath of completing my first personal trainer session on Friday evening.

So one bucket list goal is to lose weight (click here to see all my posts for this goal so far). This is so I can skydive, hike Machu Picchu and look my best at two of my best friends weddings!

Me and Tim are doing this together so it does make things easier when the pair of us are in pain trying to sit on the toilet or climbing the stairs.

Our work out was in a converted farm shop. A pretty small space but a 2 minute drive from home (we are hoping to cycle there in the spring and summer months) and has all the equipment we need. Our personal trainer is called Mike he’s 50 years old, covered in tattoos and doesn’t take much shit. My kinda guy! He doesn’t go by BMI measures and weight loss isn’t his main focus. He knows that by doing our workouts with him we will lose the weight naturally and the inches off our body parts.

Mike was nice on our first session. We did a circuit and these were our exercises;

50 x squats
40 x mountain climbers
30 x lunges
40 x calf raises
15 x jumping squats

Seems pretty easy, but we had to do this 3 times! First set was ok. I could feel the sweat building but got through it without much fuss. Second set I let out different surprised noises at how my muscles were reacting to doing this again (I had a few more ‘rest’ and drinks breaks). Then out came the grimaces and full on sweat dripping everywhere for set number 3. But we did it and survived – my anxiety did build up a lot and I came pretty close to not even turning up at all.

Mike was impressed by our determination. Probably it was just the eagerness of the first week. I’m sure both Tim and I will have bad sessions in no time.

Once my panting had subsided our measurements were taken. So I held my breath and stepped onto the scales. I was very pleased with what I heard! I thought I was nearer the 18 stone mark but I wasn’t (only) 17 stone! I felt rather positive already. All my results were;

Age = 27
Height = 5ft 11″
Weight = 17 stone 2 lb
Body Fat % = 46.4
Water = 39.2
Muscle Mass = 8.10.4
Fit Age = 50
Physical Fitness = 3
Bone Mass = 0.6.4
Visceral Fat = 10
Biceps = 14 3/4″
Chest = 45 1/2″
Waist = 44″
Hips = 44 1/2″
Upper Leg = 25 1/2″
Lower Leg = 18 1/2″

Our measurements are going to be done every 8 weeks so I will be posting about this goal every 8 weeks too. I’m also braving it and posting a picture of myself each time too.

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Mike’s main concern for me was that my water level was rather low. So basically I’m dehydrated. I’m a sucker for not drinking enough. Mostly because I hate using the bathroom. But if I want this weight loss to work I’m up for improving my hydration habits.

I have downloaded a free app called Water Balance and I enter in how much of each liquid I drink and see what that does to my body’s hydration levels. You get “awards” for different things such as no coffee – this is easy for me as I don’t do hot drinks. I mostly drink water, squash and soda zero. Fingers crossed I don’t get bored of drinking the same things over and over.

The more I drink though, the less I’ll eat and I will feel full up. It has worked in the evenings as I’m cramming in drinks to reach my target but also loosing sleep from peeing every hour! I’m hoping if I can stick with this for 8 weeks and see a difference next measurement day then the amount of liquid intake will be subconsciously part of my normal routine.

I stupidly agreed with my friend that I would join her running every Saturday morning at Park Run (find your nearest one here http://www.parkrun.org.uk/). This is a free event run at different parks across the UK and is 5km in length. In the past I had completed the Great South Run of 10 miles so I thought I’d be ok.

I was not.

Again I became rather quiet waiting for the run to begin and felt very judged by all the participants. **This is just my anxiety not how people actually are at the event** After milestones and other announcements we all headed for the start line and set off. The route for us was a loop around the park 3 times which also included a small incline. I had been pre-warned about this hill but was trying to not make a big deal about it.

Now I’m definitely no Mo Farrah! I’m used to sprinting. So I started off slowly to not burn out (another worry I have whenever I exercise). But my leg muscles were swearing at me like “WTF are we doing???!!!!” They became heavier and heavier the further I went. I walked up the incline but ran after that and finished one lap of the route. Turned out to be 1 mile.

I felt embarrassed but also I thought that none of the other people know what I did yesterday or know that I do martial arts and play rugby. So I thought “sod the lot of you”. I walked to cool down and stretched off. I waited for Grace to finish her 3 laps and saw that most people start off all fast then start walking more and more. I’m glad I ran the whole time (except the hill) in my lap. I am taking the 1 mile as an achievement. I’ve done more than everyone sitting at home and I’m trying to see the positives in everything with this weight loss goal. So next week is 2 laps or 1 and a half. I cant expect to just do it straight away when I’ve neglected my body.

I’m hoping for an upper body work out with Mike next week to help with my park run but I know I have no upper body strength! We’ll see.

Plastic, Fishing Nets and more

Plastic, Fishing Nets and more

So my ‘Help Save the Ocean’ is a very broad bucket list goal to have and potentially can never be complete. I guess I should re-name it ‘Do my part in helping to save the ocean’ BUT that doesn’t sound as catchy?!

Anyway on September 16th myself and Tim made our way to Hurst Castle (Milford on Sea) to do some litter picking as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Big British Beach Clean 2017.

https://www.mcsuk.org/ – the homepage to find out more about this cause

https://www.mcsuk.org/clean-seas/gbbc-2017-thank-you – a review of the beach clean nationally

The meeting area was pretty vague at the start with no postcode to a car park, so it was a little castle hunt for the last 2 minutes of the journey. You’d have thought I’d have taken us to a beach location I knew but I wanted to go somewhere different.

Admittedly I have been to Hurst Castle before however I think I was 7/8 and didn’t take notice of directions. Also fond memories of me winding myself as I slipped down a staircase there resulting in my friend and her siblings all laughing at me. Plus I somehow left my pants on the shingle. In a way me litter picking in this spot makes up for littering the beach with pink cotton undies around 20 years ago!

Once we found a place to park we were early (as we are to everything). So we found the meeting point (became much more apparent once getting to the destination) and wondered aimlessly looking at the beautiful scenery.

Within minutes I became much more relaxed and carefree, I think the weather helped too but the sun on my face, salty sea air flowing around me and the sound of the waves took an instant affect on my mood. I forgot how much I love the beach. I need to remember this for my mental health recovery.

Also we took some photos purposely for the blog as pictures are much more exciting to look at compared to my awful writing skills.

As you may or may not be able to tell I have a MCS t-shirt on which I bought along with a manta ray one as another way to help give back to the cause. I didn’t think it through that on the day people may think that I am in fact the organiser so I definitely hid my t-shirt until the event got under way. Their clothing is certified 100% Organic Cotton t-shirt (155g/m2) / Made in an ethically accredited, wind-powered factory / Low Carbon / GM Free / Hand finished in the UK

https://www.mcsuk.org/shop/ – check out if something takes your fancy!

When we checked the meeting point closer to the start time we found a bunch of people hovering around and a lady in an orange bib with MCS on. Now again there are no tips on what to do when arriving so I battled my anxiety and spoke to this stranger. It turns out if you sign up online then you’re all signed in! Easy.

After a little talk about the running of the event and grabbing ourselves litter pickers (Tim was rather relieved about this having had a bit of a twinge in his back lately) we headed up towards the tip of Hurst Castle spit. I think this took its toll on me before we even started lol! (I definitely need to start on my weight loss goal) The spit made up of uneven shingle made it harder work to walk. Luckily for sturdy walking boots I trudged along just fine.

We came to halt and were told to grab a clipboard with worksheets on. We had to now litter pick between two wooden posts (100m section) and record everything we pick up and pop into our bin. See checklist below

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Tim and I had been looking around before we started and couldn’t really see much litter to pick up. But I’m expecting the litter to be like a beacon. Like CCOOEEEE I’M LITTER! OVER HERE!’ kinda scenario. Alas it wasn’t, but you do start off missing items. Then once you get the hang of it you uplift stones and seaweed to make sure you pick up the bottle top. It was highly addictive. The main culprit was fishing net and line. So any fishermen reading, please pick up your litter before going home! Next was bottle caps, plastic cutlery and pens. Then we came across a needle. **Insert buzzer sound from Family Fortunes here**

Image result for family fortunes wrong answer

Although a good find in terms of how important it is to clean them up, we weren’t actually allowed to physically touch it or move it. Crazy huh! The council said to our event leader that because we are all volunteers we are not expected to put ourselves into possible harm therefor we had to mark it with a piece of laminated red card and leave it where we found it. However due to the location of the needle being in the middle of the drop into the sea, the lady in the MCS bib moved it to one of the wooden posts to make it easier to see. **don’t worry everyone was issued gloves** I guess now I wonder if and when that was picked up by the council. Fingers crossed it has.

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You’d think the needle would have been the item that increased my disappointment levels. It didn’t. I became more and more annoyed at seeing everyday plastic strewn everywhere. Next time you take your deck chair to the beach, double check the legs bottoms haven’t come off! I came to realise that it is just laziness. Whether it be on that beach and people forgetting to take their litter home. Or if it were people from a beach miles away that did the same resulting in their sweet wrappers washing ashore. The problem is, the ocean can not cope or do anything with this material.

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The statistic above is shocking. I first had my doubts that this would be true. I watched the Alaska Live programmes on BBC not long ago and they were talking about how thousands of salmon migrate every year. These fish can also spawn between 3,000 – 14,000 eggs! That’s big numbers! But being at the beach constantly picking up tiny pieces of plastic or netting gives you some perspective of how marine animals can come to some harm. I’m sure people were imaging finding a turtle with its head stuck in beer can plastic and to set them free but this job just isn’t that glamorous.

After an hour or so Tim and myself had to start heading back home for other errands. We felt a little guilty for being the first ones to ‘throw in the towel’ but someone has to be. Our rubbish bag was weighed and we had picked up 1kg of litter between us. As there were 20 others there potentially another 10kg could have been removed from the beach as well. We had to litter pick only within a certain area as all of our data from our clipboards have been entered into the national database and will be part of the official results for 2017. Our organiser then said if we wished to pick up litter on our walk back to the car then feel free. Just tie the bag up and pop it near our meeting point for her to deal with later.

 

So we set off and thought we would litter pick on our way back. Its like a game, spot the litter. At first we were picking everything up we could see but I think we would still be there if we carried on the whole way. So we then had a rule of doing 20 steps between each pick. This definitely helped speed up our progress.

Once back to the meeting point we had possibly added another 1kg of rubbish to our bag. See evidence below.

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No litter pick isn’t complete without an ice-cream enjoying the view before heading home.

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Here Tim and I reflected on how enjoyable we found the morning. We had given back but also achieved something at the same time. We discussed how the weather would have been a major factor for our enjoyment levels but we are going to have a look at some other dates at other beaches. And next time we are taking our dog Albert!

 

 

 

 

 

#27 Complete

Over the August bank holiday weekend me and my rugby mates flew the hour journey up to Belfast for some sightseeing, beer, laughs, beer, rugby and more beer.

We landed and headed straight to a museum. Some of the group chose W5 a science museum the others the Titanic Experience.

I had previously done the Titanic Experience a few years back when I was working in Ireland. I would thoroughly recommend. Lots of information, interactive areas and even a tiddly ride for everyone. W5 is a ‘kids’ science museum. All interactive with lots of play things to do. Our ticket got us entry for the whole day and we could pop in and out as many times as we wanted. 6 young adults running around and being fascinated with the experiments must have been a sight for the staff. I thought my mates may have said it was a little too childish (I was group organiser) but we all loved it and had a massive game of jenga which lasted a good hour.

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After lunch we headed to our house provided by Airbnb. Everyone ran to claim a room and we settled in the evening. A home cooked meal and drinking games was just what we needed.

Next morning was the Women’s Rugby World Cup finals day! Our tickets gave us entry to all 3 games. So after cooked breakfast and getting 8 women ready for the day we made our way to the stadium. Belfast Council (I presume) put on spectator buses from the Europa Bus Station over to the Kingspan Stadium. This helped out a lot. That weekend Belfast had the rugby on, a music festival and some other event and according to our taxi man all the rooms in Belfast were booked with people paying up to £350 per night. So people were everywhere!

Just like when I went to Bournemouth 7s festival earlier this year (read #14 check! to find out more) we had sorted out some cheeky alcoholic pouches for our girly areas. The police were outside the stadium and being very helpful with directions and crowd control. But no body searches. Just bags. A massive buzz was in the air at the stadium. Everyone in their different kits and merchandise. I had designed our t-shirts (I wasn’t wanting to get my legit England shirt all messy – I’m a clumsy drunk) so we rocked up in these bad boys

But being big fans of this sport we wanted to grab ourselves some clothing from the official store. We set up camp at the front of the standing area near a try line and enjoyed the day. First game was Ireland vs. Wales. Good rugby and plenty of tries in front of our spot.

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Next up was USA vs. France. Very physical game but I didn’t see much of this one as I was waiting in line for my face to be painted lol. We look so pretty.

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But the final was the important game. The crowds became bigger and bigger and you start seeing people you know through the rugby community back home. The final was England vs. New Zealand. The previous RWC holders and the no. 1 team in the world.

A tough game for England. Lots of defensive play and tackles made to keep New Zealand at bay. However the opposition managed to break through the line a few times to score. One right in front of our spot. Awesome to witness but not so great regarding the team we were supporting.

In the second half Lydia Thompson made a huge break and ran down to us to score a try for England. We went crazy but alas we didn’t make it onto the TV. I was on edge all game as the score board was pretty close. Then I think England got tired and the points gap got bigger. Portia Woodman was an absolute machine. She broke through the line and scored numerous tries.

The final whistle blew and NZ were crowned the new Rugby World Cup champions. I was a tad disappointed with the result – naturally. However NZ earned their victory. We stayed to watch the presentation of medals and the cup plus we waited for the teams to do their walk round of the stadium. Getting to see and speak to Poppy Cleall (a member of our rugby club we play for currently) and just watching Vicki Cornborough ( I used to play rugby with her for Hampshire over 10 years ago!) was amazing. **I was jealous also that I wasn’t in their shoes**

The amount of coverage for games on the TV has improved since 2014 and more companies are beginning to support us women for funding etc. I’m pleased that women’s rugby is becoming more and more popular. Check out England’s stats for the tournament here;

http://www.rwcwomens.com/teams/2517/stats

A lot of people say “does it hurt playing rugby?”

I always reply with no.

Ok a small lie as I’ve broken my ankle, dislocated my little finger and managed to gain bruises and scars for life BUT you are coached and trained on how to tackle properly plus learn how to land a tackle too.

I believe its the amount of passion, brute force and determination then factors into how much you hurt. If you make all of your tackles and hit hard then yes you will feel these effects afterwards (by afterwards I mean the day after or the day after that).  But when playing the game you’ve got so much adrenaline rushing through your body you don’t know what day of the week it is sometimes. Rugby is a high tempo sport with many rules but I strongly suggest to go give it a try and see what you think. Tackle practise on the pads is always fun and lets out a lot of stress or anger.

Once you’re hooked you’ll be hooked for life. The socials that come with being part of a rugby club like end of year dinners, tours, watching men’s games every Saturday makes you feel part of a family. Plus beer is always involved. WINNING!! If that hasn’t sold you enough then I don’t know what will.

Anyway back to Belfast.

After queuing in the hoards of crowds for the bus back into town our group split off again. The hard core party animals and the not so hard core. I chose to jump in a taxi and head back as my legs were killing me from standing so much. If I had sorted out seated tickets I would have partied the night away. Dominos pizza for dinner / 1am breakfast and my head hit the pillow.

We still had two days to explore Belfast so I organised us to have tickets for the City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. It definitely cleared everyone’s head. We also went though all 4 seasons within the 2 hour journey. We were happily enjoying a little sun to torrential rain.

We saw the Peace Wall, Crumlin Road Gaol, Alpacas in Stormont Parliament Buildings and much more. We jumped off at Castle Place to do a bit of shopping. Lots of novelty presents were bought. I got myself a t-shirt and hoody. We then headed back as I had pre-booked an hour’s stint on a Wee Toast Tour. This is ‘bike bar’ where you pedal yourselves around the city whilst having your own bought booze served to you at the bar. If I haven’t described it well enough check out the photos below.

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Also check out their website too for more information.
https://www.weetoasttours.com/

Although we were late for our booking (taxi companies were extremely busy) they still crammed in a small tour and we had a blast!

Afterwards we headed to the nearest bar which coincidentally had karaoke. Now I like to sing in my car or in my house at the dog but I’m not a massive fan of audiences. However I was 4 shots and 3 ciders deep so very much had the ‘fuck it’ attitude. Once I started I was on a roll. Even had a local tell me how good of a singer I was. However I think he was just as pissed as me! There is a video of me absolutely bossing Shania Twain but who has I have no idea! We then moved onto Filthy McNastys a quirky pub that hosts live music and has a huge secret garden. They have nice cocktails in there in the fancy jars and fancy straws. The jar may have made its way home with me somehow?!? Drunken walk home and drunken food ended Sunday night.

Monday came and we all had a nice breakfast together in our house. Talking of events and making a plan for the day. Some people had earlier flights and others had a later one. The main aim was to get to the Ulster museum to see the Game of Thrones Tapestry. It is 77metres long and depicts all the episodes or major plot lines of Season 7. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who have not jumped aboard this band wagon. I’m not sure why. I’ve heard loads of people die so don’t get attached to the characters but that’s exactly what I do. Who knows I may try it out soon.
After that we explored the rest of the museum more with its natural history exhibitions etc. The gift shop had loads of good buys too.  It was then time to part ways and 4 of our group left us. The rest of us then headed back onto the Hop On Hop Off bus to take us to CS Lewis Square. One of my friends had been talking about how she really wanted to see this but suddenly changed her mind. But still I liked it and took many photos.

There isn’t too much to do there so timing it right with the next bus is probably you’re best bet. However there is a café that is nearby. A short taxi ride took us to Crazy Golf! A pirate themed outdoor course. I love a bit of competition and I love crazy golf. The weather did dampen us but we powered through and managed both courses.

This had killed a big chunk of our afternoon and we decided to head to the airport, get rid of bags and just chill out.

My time in Belfast was fun filled and I’ve still got reasons to go back there. I think next time I will check out more museums, find Belfast Cathedral and frequent more eateries and pubs.