How life has changed

April 24, 2009

Today is the first day that I have looked back at my blog in many months. I have been back in the UK for about 8 months now, and already my trip seems to be a distant memory, but a very good distant memory! I returned to work shortly after arriving home to find that, not surprisingly, it was time to make a career change. I had known this prior to my trip and had planned to give it serious thought whilst away but, needless to say, I didn’t make time for it!

Back in the rat race, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I was looking into going back to University to either completely change my job or build on the one I had but nothing sat completely right with me. Until I rediscovered my passion for health and fitness, something clicked and before I knew it I had booked onto a course to qualify as a Personal Trainer. I negotiated a part-time contract so I could keep my state registration as a paramedic, and have a safety net financially.

3 weeks ago I completed the course and am now in the process of setting up my own personal training company, ProBodyStyling. It’s an exciting time for me, all of a sudden lots of doors are opening, opportunities keep arising and I haven’t felt so healthy and happy in a long time!

Looking back I can now see how my time traveling gave me the opportunity to unravel my mind enough to see the light of day and discover what I really wanted to achieve in life rather than what everyone else wanted me to achieve, and for that, every penny and every day of it was worth it.

If you have the opportunity to travel, take it, you never know where it might take you!

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It’s been a while!

October 9, 2008

So I thought I’d just keep everyone up to speed with my life back in the UK. I’ve been back now for about 8 weeks, have moved to Brentwood (thanks Lisa!), am back at work, and in the past 2 weeks have been inspired to achieve what I really want in life. My original plan had been to return to university to gain enough credit points to start next year on a masters in critical care. It was a sensible plan, I figured it would be quite interesting….am I boring you yet? Well by the time I was due to start it was boring me! In that time I had also re-joined the gym and was enjoying being back in a fitness routine, a week ago I built up the courage to speak to someone called Anita Albrecht. How little did I know this was going to potentially change my life. I know that sounds dramatic but right now thats how I feel. I immediately felt comfortable talking to her about the troubles I have had over the past few years, she seemed to know exactly where I was coming from. We set up a one to one training program for the next 3 months and completely revamped my diet and nutrition. One week later I can’t stop smiling, I have so much energy I am bouncing off the walls, my body already feels stronger (although today my leg muscles are screaming at me!) and I know this is the way forward.

It has also re-ignited my passion for health and fitness, combining this with my desire to learn I have decided to start some short courses in sport nutrition and sport psychology. So I cancelled my courses in coronary care and physiology of the unwell adult (yawn!) and signed up for sport nutrition. How did I know this was the right move? I haven’t stopped grinning and bouncing around since!

I have also started to write a book, hopefully something to inspire and motivate people who find themselves where I was a year or so ago. It’s in the very early stages but again, something I am very excited about.

So, having dreaded my return to the doom and gloom of the UK, things couldn’t be better!!!!

Thanks to everyone for their continued support and understanding through the ups and downs of the past 30 years!!!!

Catch up!

August 17, 2008

I’ve had lots of people asking why I haven’t finished my blog! Basically I was so busy in NYC I didn’t have a chance and since landing in the UK things have been a bit manic!

So New York, what fun! I arrived on Saturday and located Pershing Square for some excellent brunch before exploring 5th Avenue. I checked in and fund my room at the Gershwin before heading to the Pod where Phil London was staying and was due to arrive at any time.

After locating Phil we enjoyed some dinner, drinks, a catch up and arranged to meet the following morning.

The next few days were very busy and included a gospel brunch and shopping in Soho, going to the top of the empire State Building, visiting the World Trade Centre Site, going to the viewing deck of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Battery Park, dinner in Times Square, cocktails in the Rainbow Room Grill, shopping on 5th Avenue, and an evening at the theatre seeing Chicago!

On my birthday I was moving hotel to stay at the Pod, so the first job was to relocate! After that my birthday started in style, Phil and I went to the Fairmont Plaza Hotel for a champagne breakfast – delicious!

After a spot of shopping I returned to the Pod to wait for my Mum to arrive, within 30 minutes of her arrival we were in Bloomingdales! She managed to find a dress in the sale and I got shoes!

We returned to the hotel to get ready for the big night out and met everyone else; Phil, Tristan, Kevin, Paul and Kate, in the lobby. It was great to see everyone and very strange for us to all be together in NYC!

The first stop was the St Regis Hotel and the King Cole Bar for a cocktail and pressies (thankyou everyone!), then onto Bar Americain for champagne and a very nice dinner. Everyone enjoyed themselves although the new arrivals were starting to fall asleep so all apart from Kevin, Paul and Phil returned to their hotels, the rest of us moved onto another bar and enjoyed more drinks!

The following day we took the train to the Woodberry Common Shopping Outlets, I think everyone managed to get a few bargains so returned happy.

From this point, sight-seeing recommenced, we took the Staten Island Ferry to view the Statue of Liberty, went to Century 21, returned to the World Trade Centre Site, Walked through Wall Street, saw Grand Central Station, shopped in all the major department stores, had more time on 5th Avenue, drank more cocktails in the Rainbow Room Grill, had a night at Gay Bills Nineties, ate lots of good food, took a carriage ride around Central Park and all went on the Carousel and all before Tristan, Kevin, Paul and Kate went home.

My Mum and I had 4 more days to enjoy NYC, we spent some more time in Central Park and browsing the very expensive area of Madison Avenue, walked over Brooklyn Bridge, re-visited Century 21, went to the Bodies exhibition, visited the Southsea Port area, had lunch at the Boathouse in Central Park, had a manicure, had drinks in the Top of the Tower at the Beekman Hotel and lots more!

Needless to say my credit cards were ready to come home by August 7th! As was I, I had an amazing 8 months but I dont think I could have continued for much longer. I was, however, aware that my tune might change after a couple of days back in the UK.

Mum and I were flying back to London at the same time but on different flights from different terminals, so we went our separate ways at the airport. My ‘fast check-in’ did not go according to plan, even though I had checked in on line and printed a boarding pass, Virgin Atlantic had no record of my ticket, I was sent to customer services where I was told I could either buy a new ticket or fly home the following day. For future reference, ranting does not get you anywhere, a bottom lip wobble does! After they went through all my paperwork they started typing in any codes they could find and sure enough my ticket came up. It turned out Air New Zealand had changed my ticket number. Slightly stressed and by this point running short of time, I made it to the departure gate and boarded the plane.

I arrived safely although an hour late in London, met Tristan and waited for Mum to arrive, who was also running late. My first task was to drive home as Tristan was due elsewhere, easier said than done having not driven for 8 months!

Since being home I’ve caught up with a few friends, seen the family and tried to adjust to being home! Oh and I’ve also found somewhere to live, got a new car, brought a TV and a bunch of ‘stuff’ for the new house, so much for giving my credit cards a rest!!

I’m not sure if I’ll continue to update this blog, if I don’t I hope I haven’t bored you all too much!

Boston

July 25, 2008

I only had 2 days to explore Boston, I spent the first day walking the freedom trail which takes you on a self guided walk around the city taking in the main points of interest. During this walk I also took in a free tour of the Massachusetts State House. I arrived in North End just as the rain started to pour so dived into one of many Italian cafes in North End for some lunch. The rain wasn’t easing so saw that as a good excuse to spend the afternoon in the shops!

Fairly exhausted due to a lack of sleep and lots of walking I had an early night.

I started my second day by walking to Cambridge and taking a free historical tour of Harvard University led by Sam, a Harvard student. I had a walk around Cambridge before walking to Charlestown to finish off the Freedom Trail which got stopped short due to rain. I saw the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution before walking back into the city centre.

With very sore feet I returned to the hostel to pack and prepare for my trip to NYC in the morning!

Montreal to Boston

July 25, 2008

I spent my last couple of days in Montreal sampling some good Chinese food, chilling with Mark whilst Jen was busy cleaning up our mess at the cottage (Thankyou!) and stressing about the fact that my visa expires before I am due to go home.

After much research I finally found a phone number, albeit an expensive one, that I could call for advice from the US embassy. They told me to mail my visa and all supporting documents to their office in Kentucky, take all copies of everything including proof of postage to the border and hope they issue me a new one. Apparently this is still at the discretion of the border officials so needless to say I was still stressed!

Mark took me to the bus station and I departed Montreal at 2315, we got to the border at about 0100 and I took a deep breath! The first border official was annoyed and disbelieving of my explanation and sent me ‘out the back’! Shaking slightly I met Border Official number 2, who thankfully didn’t give a damn and issued me a new visa and sent me on my way, phew!

I arrived in Boston at 0630, fairly tired but still managed to fathom out the 2 subway trains I needed to catch to get to the hostel.

Montreal part 2

July 21, 2008

So we loaded the car full of groceries, booze and Aidan’s toys and headed off to Lake Louisa.

For some background information, the cottage we were staying in used to be owned by Jens granny and has been the venue for family holidays for 3 generations until it was sold 9 years ago. As Granny is 96 and may not be up to a long trip in the future, and as it was Richard’s 70th birthday, a family vacation to the cottage was planned. 

The clan included Granny, Elizabeth and Richard (Jens Mum and Step-Dad) Phyllis, Clare and Alex (Aunt, cousin and cousin’s boyfriend), Walter (Uncle), Dan, Susan, Simon and Alistair (Brother, Sister-in-law and nephews), Jen, Mark, Aidan and myself! 

We were there for 4 days, the location was perfect, a typical country cottage on the edge of Lake Louisa. The family talked about a lot of fond memories, there was swimming in the lake, Mark and I went kayaking, we enjoyed good food, wine and great company. On Sunday we had joint birthday celebrations for Richards 70th, my 30th and Alex’s 27th.

Today we came home via Elizabeth and Richard’s house to see the work they had done to the gardens and to have a small early birthday party for Simon’s 4th birthday.

I feel privileged to have been part of such a special family trip and am very grateful to Jen and her family for making me feel so welcome.

Montreal

July 17, 2008

So after a relatively short (9 hours) bus ride I arrived in Montreal and was picked up by Mark, which made a nice change to having to drag all my bags through a city to find my accommodation.

It was great to see Jen and Aidan, Aidan is now 2 and a half years old, so has obviously changed so much in the last 18 months since I last saw him.

On my first evening Mark and Jen also introduced me to the delights of sushi which was surprisingly good.

Mark had the first 4 days of my visit off work so we took Aidan to the park, spent an afternoon in St Anne where Aidan had his first pony ride, had breakfast at Eggspectations and Mark and I went into the city and saw Hancock at the cinema.

On Monday I walked with Mark into the city and left him to go to work with a plan to meet for lunch. After another great breakfast at Eggspectations I walked to the Plateau area and browsed the shops, stopped for a drink and checked my emails to find that Mark was now working from home so with that in mind I walked back through the city and out to Westmount, had some lunch and walked back to the house.

On Tuesday Jen, Aidan and I all went to Ikea, picked up some bits that Jen wanted and returned home. Tuesday night is Marks gaming night with the boys so while they were busy playing Jen and I drank lots of wine and put the world to rights!

On Wednesday we were all a little tired! So apart from grocery shopping and starting to plan for our weekend in the country not a great deal went on! Although I did cook a curry for dinner, the first time I’ve made one from scratch and it seemed to go down well.

Today we are getting ready for our trip and will be leaving this afternoon for 4 days in the country to help celebrate Richard’s 70th birthday.

Toronto

July 10, 2008

So after a nice long sleep, I headed out to explore the city of Toronto. After a walk along the harbour and up through Chinatown to Yorkville, an upmarket shopping area! After spending a couple of hours browsing the very nice boutiques I found a dress for my 30th. I tried it on and thought it was amusing how the sales lady obviously thought I was a time waster as I was dressed in my usual backpacking attire! It was even more amusing to see the look of surprise in her face when I said I’d take it! So a successful day shopping!

The next day I took a bus trip to Niagara Falls, stopping for some wine tasting at Birchwood Winery, apparently part owned by Dan Ackroyd. Then it was on to the falls, which I’m pleased to say seems to have improved greatly since the last time I visited. I took the trip on the Maid of the Mist before walking along the front to get views of the American Falls, Bride Veil Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Then it was onto Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small historic town full of some lovely, independent shops selling all sorts of treats.

I spent my final day in Toronto taking in a few of the art studios and soaking up the warm weather before packing everything up for my journey to Montreal and getting increasingly excited about seeing Mark, Jen and Aidan.

Canada Day and Calgary

July 10, 2008

The main event during my stay in Calgary was Canada Day on July 1st. During the day there was lots of family orientated stuff which was later replaced by live music. After dinner and a few glasses of wine we headed to Olympic Plaza to watch the last couple of hours of live music and then watch the fireworks.

The following day Hanna left for Nelson and I had a day exploring the city and preparing for the bus journey from hell!

I departed Calgary at 0830 on July 3rd and arrived in Toronto at 1530 on July 5th! We had a few coffee stops and meal breaks of about 40 minutes but apart from that it was non-stop. The second night I resorted to a few Advil to kill the pain in my back (must be an age thing!) and managed to get a few hours sleep.

Needless to say I arrived in Toronto somewhat weary and ready for a long nights sleep.

Banff National Park

July 2, 2008

After our long day hiking in Lake Louise we decided a day of rest was in order so we spent the morning window shopping before driving out to Johnson Lake to soak up the 32o of sunshine. We had heard that the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is the place to get cocktails so after dressing up (everything is relative when you’re backpacking!) we walked to the hotel, located Rundle Lounge, ordered strawberry daiquiris and took in the stunning views of Rundle and Sulphur Mountains. After sampling several of the cocktails we went back into town and enjoyed some live music at the Rose and Crown!

After our night out, Sunday also turned into a day of rest! It was even hotter today which shelved our plans to do much hiking anyway so we returned to the lake for more sunshine and relaxation!

On our final day in Banff we headed out early to avoid the heat and hiked to the top of Sulphur mountain, a tough hike up a steep incline, but once again we were rewarded with great views. We drove out to Lake Minnewanka, apparently its not pronounced in the way I was suggesting! We then had to drive along the Trans-Canada Highway to Calgary. Driving in the city proved more challenging, even scary when we ended up on a tramline by accident!