Author: lifeofbarbs

@~?.:_+=!

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**

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Health, Movement & Me

Okay ‘movement’ is essentially exercise but I like alliteration.

An important bucket list goal is to lose weight. A fair few stone in fact. This is so I can be in the correct weight limit to skydive PLUS look fabulous at 2 of my best friends weddings! Ok plus be healthy for my body blah blah blah.

Tim and I are doing this together as sadly my eating habits have rubbed off on him! We did no garlic bread for a month which we succeeded in. However we have probably made up for it throughout September. Especially as we’ve had it 2 nights in a row this week. And its only Wednesday. Whoops!

Tonight is the night we go to meet with a Personal Trainer! Eeeek

Well tonight we are doing one of his group sessions to go and see what he is like and whether we would work well with him. But potentially from October onwards we will have a PT session every week. Without fail.

I am hoping this will work. I have no self control when it come to food. I am emotionally attached to it. Reasons explained in Eating my emotions.

Also progress is measured in many different ways. Not only by weight on the scales but inches off certain body parts. Weight gain could be muscle gain. Plus there is a more hands on approach to helping me when I’ve had a bad week. At Slimming World I found staying to the sessions would help for that hour and then as soon as I got home I’d forget it all and binge eat. You know – treat night. This is not me saying that SW does not work. This is me saying it does not work for me! SW is not a diet it is a lifestyle. You have to stick to those foods and practises for the rest of your life to keep your weight off.

Now I understand that I may have to do that with my PT sessions, however I am hoping to still eat what I want when BUT in moderation. Also have some positive results each and every week. Even if it is I managed 2 more press ups within a minute than last week. The focus of ‘weight loss’ has been redirected from eating. And then because me and Tim are in this together there is no jealously over food. If I’m eating healthy then so is he!

It is said that exercise helps with mental health recovery. The endorphins you produce whilst running, jumping etc. reduces stress, makes you sleep better and improves memory. Even me waking up this morning and taking the dogs out for an early walk before work made me feel more refreshed and energised for the day. Therefore having someone who is behind me 100% and giving me 100% of his time towards me (yes ok Tim as well) will help boost me out of my mental health rut.

I have had plenty of message exchanges with our PT Mike. But that wont mean that I will make Tim walk into the hall first tonight and introduce ourselves. I gave him some background information about me as potentially I could be a really tricky customer. I told him about my anxiety and depression. He replied saying that he had just finished a course on those subjects and knows I will have good days and bad days. This made me relax a lot. As long as he knows what he is taking on then I’m all up for giving it a go.

I shall share my results and goals with you soon!

 

#5 Complete

I am now a proud business owner! Here is how I got to this point.

Way back in secondary school (junior high school for the Americans) you have to decide what you want to do when you grow up. That’s such a hard choice when at 14 you are worrying about shaving your leg hair for P.E. or stropping over your mum buying you the wrong school shoes.

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So I made the decision then that I’d like to be a Sport Psychologist. I loved my sport and wanted to help the athletes be the best they could. I got good grades for me to go to College (high school for those over the pond) and here I chose the relevant subjects for this career path. Human Biology and Psychology. For a start, giving teenagers a substitute teacher is just bad news so it didn’t surprise me when my paper came back as Ungraded in Biology (it was a much harder syllabus and I admit I switched off and misbehaved).

Second year of College I had to choose another subject so I took Business Studies. Which I aced. It may have helped that me and a friend had to sit in with all the first years so we actually concentrated. Also by this point my friendships changed and my attitude changed towards the education system. You realise all your hard work at the previous school means jack shit! Plus I had myself a part time job and just passed my driving test. Money became more of a pull then essays and exams. I think I was working more than attending College by the time I left with some ad-hoc grades.

A huge topic is University (College in America) and personal statements. I had no interest whatsoever in going. I had no idea what career I wanted and Sports Psychologist was out the window. Therefore I made the decision to not go to Uni. I didn’t want to waste my parents money on something I wasn’t 100% committed to.

Fast forward by whizzing through ski seasons in Canada & Austria and then working in the leisure industry. Working behind the scenes with money at G4S in England and Ireland which ended up me being signed off sick with anxiety and depression. So even after 26 years I still hadn’t found my niche of what I wanted to do.

I do not regret not going to Uni. I’ve had my party days in different countries and cities with travel buddies and rugby pals. I earned myself some decent money to pay for luxury trips to different states in the USA including Hawaii, Thailand and Canada.  At interviews for jobs I’ve always been under qualified but my attitude and life experience has been the factor for me being the successful candidate. I think the interview panel get bored of hearing the same old shit. I know I would.

Whilst I was off work with mental illness you get a lot of time to think. Ok mostly overthink but on my better days I managed to come up with the idea of setting up a dog walking business. Dogs didn’t care what I looked liked. Dogs loved you no matter what. Walking would get me out in the fresh air. Walking would help me keep fit. I took my parents dog out for walks whilst I was off work and ventured out into the forest or down to the beach. The fresh air cleared my head and made me sleep well at night.

I got myself a job within walking distance to home, only part time, with no weekend or bank holiday working. Result. This has given me time to do some research into qualifications and how to set up a small business. I applied for a start up business loan which got approved and subsequently paid for my qualifications. See #16 Complete to find out more about those.

Next task was to think of a business name! I like play on words and alliteration. I had to be careful not to steal or copy a name of a business already working within the area. So this is where Tails & Trails of Totton came from. I now needed a logo for stationary and websites etc. I asked my sister in law Ness to help me out.

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Ness is a fashion designer by trade, she designs clothing for Tog 24 and gets to visit Hong Kong a lot. Check out the website here https://www.tog24.com/
However she also designs stationary. For her wedding she managed to design her own wedding invites etc. and then got asked by friends to do theirs. She got herself into her local papers too. Go visit her stationary website http://www.beautiful-ink.co.uk/

As you can tell I’m a fan of orange. Personally I don’t think the colour I used enough. But anyway I chose this simple design as its straight to the point. So I started to set up my Facebook Page and Instagram Account – you know the most important things first. I then got myself some uniform to wear around my local area whenever I was working.

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And so I started to advertise to my friends and family. Luckily I already had a dog that I walked every Friday which I had been visiting for the past year. Showing the bank managers I had a steady but obviously low income.

I decided to advertise my business over the summer holidays and hope for the best. I managed to get 3 new customers. Result. I looked after a 3 month old puppy called Arnold a puggle called Brutus and had a week long stay with a Heinz variety called Benji.

Kernow; my Friday friend
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Arnold; the cutest puppy I’ve seen
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Brutus
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Benji
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I feel I am well on my way to building up a client base and have no doubts it will take me a while until I can dive deep into my venture and work with the dogs full time. I have a few more goals within my business to achieve as well so will keep you up to date.

In the mean time go follow my Instagram account totton_tails_trails for more pictures of my clients or even give my page a like on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/tottontailsandtrails/

New Trophy!

Last night I got my lazy butt back to Tae Kwon Do. Feeling a little apprehensive of how unfit I’ll be (still) I was surprised to then be awarded with a cool new trophy.

This trophy is for the ‘Summer pattern challenge winner 2017’. I earned this by doing a pattern on the top of Palantine Hill in Rome. I had views of the Coliseum in the background and I sweated through 44 degree heat!

Other members of my club did photos of different moves or their patterns all over Europe too. We also have trophies that will be handed out at our Christmas Do in December so I’m going to commit and give my all for the next 3 months.

I still have a fair way to go to be grading ready for my next belt. I know my pattern and set sparring but I need to perfect the hip twists and distances. Also Korean theory.

However this trophy has given me a big boost of confidence so I’m gonna go kick butt!

AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

I’m so excited to announce that my trip to Peru is booked!

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I paid the deposits for Tim and I to travel from La Paz, Bolivia to Lima, Peru. Somewhere in the middle of it is the Inca Trail trek.

I did wonder as to whether this bucket list goal would be achievable but now that we have committed to paying the money, we have already spent our money more wisely and talked about where to save more. I’ve dreamt about going for so long and I know it is a popular travelling destination but I don’t care. I can say I’ve trekked to Machu Picchu with the sun rising on my face and maybe with a new llama friend named Augusto.

After much deliberation of whether we are fit enough to do the trek, we thought it would be the perfect goal for us to slim down (as well as the excuse of 2 weddings in 2019).

Any tips for the trek would be fabulous!

I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!

The countdown has begun……

 

 

 

Kiva Loan Update

Kiva Loan Update

I have received an email to say that I have been paid a small sum back from my Kiva Loan!

In all honesty I thought it would take longer than this before I saw anything in return. Zakayo (my borrower) has repaid me $4.01 of my $50 loan.

Kiva is already telling me I can reinvest my money into another project but I think I have to wait until I have $25.

If you’d like to read all about Kiva Loans and how to help people directly click here;

https://www.kiva.org/

https://www.kiva.org/lend/1323318

The link above is Zakayo’s story.

I have had a look at where my next loan may go to. I’m thinking a little closer to home so Europe. Maybe a women this time.

Rome 2 Home

Rome 2 Home

You may have found yourself here from my previous post #17 Complete to find out about a fundraising charity cycle ride.

My brother from another mother came up with an epic journey from Rome to Southampton, UK all on his push bike. Approximately over 1,400 miles over 14 days. He is doing this with one other bloke raising funds for Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity.

This is all in aid of one little boy. His son Samuel.

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At 3 weeks old they found out he had Cystic Fibrosis. A disease that affects the lungs and the pancreas. Since then James (dad) & Grace (mum) have been doing all sorts of fundraising activities to raise monies to help with research.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease. People with CF have inherited two copies of the defective CF gene — one copy from each parent. Both parents must have at least one copy of the defective gene.

People with only one copy of the defective CF gene are called carriers, but they do not have the disease. Each time two CF carriers have a child, the chances are:

  • 25 percent (1 in 4) the child will have CF
  • 50 percent (1 in 2) the child will be a carrier but will not have CF
  • 25 percent (1 in 4) the child will not be a carrier and will not have CF

The defective CF gene contains a slight abnormality called a mutation. There are more than 1,700 known mutations of the disease.

 

Image result for cystic fibrosis

The reason myself and Tim made the effort and flew all the way over to Rome to see them off is because we are Samuel’s ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’. I babysit him every Friday. We cycle home from school together and then get up to mischief until he gets picked up. We have even had sleepovers and day trips. His personality is infectious. He can talk for England (he gets that from his mother) and he also helped me during me stint of anxiety and depression. Just talking to a child can lighten anyone’s mood!

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Samuel’s day to day routine is taking tablets every time he eats so his digestive system will absorb all the nutrients properly. He has a nebuliser called Tom that he has to use plus a portable mask that restricts him breathing out so essentially making his lungs work harder to help shift mucus. It is very important for Samuel to keep active. The more he runs around being a kid the more chance he has of stopping mucus becoming stuck in his lungs and consequently prolongs the time until physiotherapy is needed.

So back to the challenge. If you click on this link below and scroll down to the Route section you can see all the stages James & Mike had to complete.
http://www.rome2home2017.co.uk/

They gave themselves a target to raise £5,000 for the charities and have blown that target which is awesome! If you’d like to donate or just check out their running total then follow the link below
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=rome2home2017&isTeam=true

Throughout the 2 weeks the riders and families have had many ups and downs. One families car even broke down in France and couldn’t be fixed! So its been towed back to England. However they all made it home safely on Saturday 19th August where a welcome home party was waiting for them.

The final stats for the guys were;
1,446.6 miles
108 hours 6 minutes of cycling time
79,622ft of climbing

 

 

Rome Top Tips

Rome Top Tips

If you had been reading a previous post (#17 Complete) here are my handy tips to travel Rome.

 

  1. Don’t book to go in the middle of August!
    Obviously we had a reason to be going on these dates but if you have no ties then go around May or September time. The temperatures are much cooler so more walking can be done in one day.
  2. If flying into Fiumicino Airport, grab the Leonardo Express train to Termini train station in the centre of Rome.
    Follow the signs in the airport, buy your ticket for 14euros and get it stamped. This is important.
    Image result for train ticket stamper rome
    Find one of these machines and pop it in. I have no idea what happens if you don’t stamp your ticket but better be safe than sorry. The train takes around 35 minutes and only stops at Termini. Plenty of luggage holders – although not stacked correctly by humans – and air conditioned carriages.
  3. Italian Metro
    Again very simple to use but its the tickets that I want to tell you about. You have a choice of many but we found that the 100 minute ticket for 1,50euros worked out the best. We did this because we would get the metro out to the furthest point and then walk back to our accommodation (ok we at least had this intention but the heat didn’t help). If you pay out for one of these tickets a day and you stay for a 4 day weekend you’d only spend 6euros. Its 7euros for a 24 hour ticket.
  4. Grab a free map
    This was our bible whilst sightseeing across the city. I got our free one from a guy in the train station terminal. He was rather helpful too. I did buy some maps for others and they cost 1euro each. But having this gives you an idea of how close everything is. A bit like London. You can take the underground from one place to another but you could walk it and see 3 other sights along your way. Don’t be afraid to deface it either. We had many lines, circles and crosses all over the place.
  5. Book Accommodation near a Metro
    This way it just seems so much easier going to and from places. See below the metro map.
    Image result for metro station map rome
  6. Coliseum Tickets
    So in my post about my holiday I mentioned about all the different companies offering you to skip the line and have a tour guide. These could cost 40euros per person. Whereas getting up early and queuing yourself could cost you 12euros per adult. The arena opens at 0830. I was queued out of the metal barriers at the end of the big noticeboard and it took me 20 minutes to get inside the stadium. We must have got there at 0815. If you want to commit and get first in line then you’ll be experiencing gladiator history in no time.
    Also note that the first Sunday of every month the Coliseum open up its doors for free. Tim and I checked out the queue for that on the Sunday and it did seem to be a little longer than normal.
  7. Da Vinci Museum
    Fee to enter was 11euros and to hire a headset was 3euros. You had to leave a 20euro deposit for the headset at the ticket office. The headsets are not necessary as many plaques with text in English are by every exhibit. Some of the exhibits are interactive so you can touch them and move them – so it would keep your kids interested for a while whilst you found out all the boring facts. Surprisingly there isn’t too much in the terms of souvenirs.
  8. Ice Bar 
    With our free map was an advert about the Ice Bar including an offer to get a second drink free. It does cost 15euros to enter which gets you a drink and the use of their coats. Once you come out of the bar you can not go back in. If you dress in long sleeved clothing and had jeans on (compared to my summer dress) you would be able to last in there for 2-3 drinks. In comparison to other ice bars I hear it is relatively small. But the range of cocktails was vast and very tasty. If you can afford to go or have never been before then pop on in.
  9. Baths of Caracalla
    It is just ruins at the end of the day but there are some nice grounds to go with it. If it were a much much cooler day then taking a picnic would have been a lovely idea (it was 4euros for one bottle of Fanta on the cart outside). This way you would have spent enough time to warrant the 8euro entrance fee. There was a big stage being built when we visited so if you researched into what shows they put on, you can always coincide with that.
  10. Gladiator School
    To book yourself onto this activity I went through Viator. The cost is around £50 per adult for a 2 hour session. Where it is based can be reached by taxi for convenience or it is a 1.5 mile walk south of the Coliseum. Fun for all the family. I would highly recommend. Also if you sign up to Viator’s emails they give you a discount for your order. I’ve let it run until after we got back from Rome and have unsubscribed.
  11. Vatican Tour
    Dark Rome is the company I booked this tour with. But the company itself was called City Wonders. Click on this link to see all their tours on offer https://citywonders.com/vatican-tours
    It is a little more expensive but to skip the long queues (potentially in the burning sun) is definitely worth it. The more in depth the tour is the more you’re likely to pay.
    Clothing wise, make sure you cover your shoulders and your knees!
  12. Castle St Angelo
    I pre-booked these tickets as well. It doesn’t take too long for tickets in the morning but by the time we finished our visit the queue was being monitored and reaching the bridge. The most expensive ticket is 14,50euros. Follow this link to find out more
    https://www.ticketsrome.com/en/museum-reservations/castel-sant-angelo-tickets
  13. General Pointers
    Everything is in walking distance like London. You’ll be surprised by how much of the free activities you can see in a day.
    Beware of pickpockets on the Metro. Sometimes its just kids walking up and down the platform then not actually getting onto a train. There are also musicians playing and asking for money or just women and children beggars. Just wave them on.
    Around all of the main tourist attractions you’ll have people trying to sell you things like bracelets. They will ask you questions and be very complimentary towards you, just make sure you don’t accept anything from them. Tim jumped out of the way as guy said ‘catch’ when he threw a bracelet at him. Once you’ve got it, they expect you to pay whether you like it or not. The best line I had was ‘Are you from Africa?’ – yes I’m your white ass cousin. FUCK OFF. We even had the same man try it on with us for 3 days straight when we were getting on the Metro.
  14. Fountains
    Buy a thermos flask to take with you. Some of the fountains have drinkable water plus there are running taps around the city too. This saves you from buying water every few hours and downing it because its cold. This was a life saver whilst in the temperatures of 40+
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I think that’s all the serious stuff I have to share with you. If you are interested in finding out how my trip went then check out #17 Complete.