Monday, 19 January 2015

Oxfam Trailwalker and other challenges

As I mentioned in my previous post, this year (and forever onwards really) I want to make sure I'm really pushing myself to make the most out of life and myself whilst I'm around on this here planet earth.

I stumbled across Challenge Sophie a few weeks back and I was so inspired by her hunger and determination for adventure and endurance. The things she gets up to and writes about on her blog just blow my mind. If I ever met her I would probably definitely bow down in admiration of everything she's done so far.

'Later that night I got to thinking' (Carrie Bradshaw voice), how am I going to get my puny body up to scratch and set myself some cool challenges? Negative thoughts about living in London and not out in the wilderness aside, I forced myself to be practical and have a think about things that I enjoyed and wouldn't make me scream 'I HATE MYSELF' after the first 30 mins.

I spent a few days researching 10k runs as well as watching all of the promo videos for Tough Mudder 2015 (which looks INSANE by the way). Then, just as I thought I'd made up my mind, Ben introduced to the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge. 100km hiking across the South Downs in under 30 hours, day and night, non stop walking. 'I can do that', I thought. How hard can it be? I love walking! Then I went on to read all the information and do some proper research and realised it's pretty bloody intense. Plus, the two friends we're considering doing it with - as you have to be in a team of four in case one of you keels over or something - want to complete it around 20 hours. No pressure guys!
So, this soon became our first big challenge of the year to focus on.

We headed out for our first practice hike just to see if we'd made a terrible decision or not. Turns out I love hiking! We walked 19.08km from High Barnet all the way back to our house in Tufnell Park in just under four hours, following the Dollis Valley Greenwalk we found via this website.

We kept our pace fairly easy for the first one with no stops for food just lots of grazing. (Mmm beef biltong and dried mango). The walks along the river and through the woods were great but there weren't many hills for me to really test out my new boots and new found yoga strength(!) I think it helped that I'm currently reading Wild, so I basically pretended I was Cheryl Strayed walking the PCT for a day and I had a great time! (By the way if you haven't picked up the book yet and you're into travelling at all, BUY IT NOW!)
The day after I was fine, just a tiny sign of a blister on my little toes. The same can't be said for old man Ben though, as he's still rubbing deep heat into his shins and complaining about the pain!

The Oxfam Trailwalk will take place on the 25th and 26th July this year, so hopefully we'll have lots of practice walks as a team to report on before then and we will need lots of sponsorship help too, but more on that in due course.

What are your challenges for 2015? Do you want to join us for the Trailwalk?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Canada planning

Woooohoooooo it is now just 12 days until we go to Vancouver for two weeks! Though in true backpacker lazy person style, we've left pretty much everything up to the last minute.

We decided in December to finally visit the great land that is Canadia! After my closest uni friend went travelling out there, 'found himself', turned gay, married a man and now lives out there full time with a sweet as apartment and a couple of cute ferrets, Ben and I decided WE WANT A PIECE OF THAT! Maybe minus the turning gay part, but we'll see.

Ben (other/better half) is an avid snowboarder and - as he so cringe-worthily noted when we first met - 'grew up in the mountains', so I'm still astounded to this day that he's never been there. I, of course, never wanted to shell out the extortionate airfare and have previously always favoured warmer holidays. But hey, a girl can change.

We managed to find flights from London to Vancouver for an astounding £846 return for the both of us!!! Via Skyscanner and Air Transat. I'm still questioning whether these flights are even for real or not as they are so much cheaper than all the others. I guess we'll see in two weeks?!

The plan then is to head straight up to Whistler in our hire car (from Dollar) for gay pride weekend (ON ICE!) and spend a couple of nights at our friends' cabin a short drive from Blackcomb mountain.

Whistler looks incredible and I cannot wait to get out on the mountains after not skiing for 10 YEARS! I'm expecting to be the worst person out there, so I'm already prepared for that. As a fall back plan, I've also been looking into visiting the Olympic park and having a go at bobsledding. Yes, mostly because of cool runnings, but can you blame me? It looks immense! And my wardrobe is already 80% spandex, so I'm pretty sure I'm off to a good start.

Oh and then there's this...

*poops pants*

After Whistler (if I can ever prise Ben away from the snow) we have a good couple of days to play with where hopefully we'll catch up with another friend who's out by Powell River and do some sightseeing. Mental note: we should probably book our accommodation for this pretty damn soon!

I found us a really cute apartment block back in downtown Vancouver for the last four nights of our trip so we can actually spend a few days alone to see the place at our own pace. For this I finally made my first booking via Airbnb! The complex has a hot tub, swimming pool and gym all for free, along with what seems like so many other places over there. London seriously needs to have a word with itself, our rent is more expensive than this place and definitely does not have a hot tub!

Cue excited squeal

I'm hoping to get lots of hikes in as well as day trips to Vancouver Island, Victoria and wherever else anyone suggests to me. I've been told quite a few national parks will be closed due to the season, but I'm remaining positive that there will be plenty to do still :)

Do you have any BC travel tips or suggestions for us? We'll be there for two weeks and we hope to cram as much in as possible. For now, to the snow centre in Hemmel to remember how to ski!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Reflections- and not recognising the you that you see.

2014 has been a strange year.
I got promoted. I left that job. I got a new job. I moved into my boyfriend’s house in Tufnell Park. I fell into depression and anxiety deeper than ever before (those two are unrelated!). We adopted our awesome ginger kitty, Louie. We travelled briefly around Croatia and France. I got put on antidepressants and had a lot of sick leave. I continued to feel deeply unhappy and lost in life. We then spent New Years relaxing and planning how to start making the most out of life again.

I've tried the normal life. I have tried forcing myself to fit in amongst my fellow London 9-5'ers; surviving on a diet of Netflix, dinners out, living for the weekend and, of course, pay day. But no matter how I try to convince myself it'll feel normal or good eventually, it doesn't.

So, this year I suppose I am on the pursuit of happiness. (Aren't we always?)
I want to be able to look in the mirror, recognise who I see and be proud of that person. I want to grab my life with both hands and shake it until I feel awake again.

I know I'm always going to have this illness, but I don't want to let it consume me as though letting it win is easier than fighting for the life I deserve (Obviously some/many days I do, but I have to fight this urge).

I haven't set New Years resolutions as such; I just started to feel a little better over Christmas and started plotting ways to shake myself out of this slump.

It begins with strengthening my weak body and mind with a 30-day yoga challenge from I'm now 6 days in and despite the pain I absolutely love it. Yoga - when you've found the right teacher (bow down Erin Motz) - makes you feel so strong. And running too. Running is basically meditation for people who can't keep still. Perfect for me!

I've also just left my 'new' job, the one that I hoped would be perfect for me. I won't go into it as it makes me quite sad (and nervous that I don't have anything else lined up), but hopefully I will now be able to focus on my health and figure out what makes me happy in this time.
Cue standard inspirational Pintrest quotes ;)
Next up for us is Canada at the end of the month, so lots of planning is to be done. And from there on, the rest is a blank canvas for now!

Here's to 2015, may it be a lot happier and healthier than the previous.

If anyone has any Canada travel suggestions by the way for near Vancouver/Whistler, please fire away!

Ps. I know this blog is very irregular and inconsistent, but that pretty much sums up my life so that's just the way it's going to be I'm afraid!