Thursday, 27 November 2014

A Traveler's Tale

On our trip to Berlin this summer, Ryan and I were waiting at the airport for our flight. Within the midst of our conversation he said something which struck me as strange. That was, he remarked that he hated the travelling part of going on holiday and suggested that it would be ideal if he could just close his eyes and open them to find himself at the specified destination.

I feel emphatically opposite to this. In fact, for me, the act of journeying to a different destination holds a certain pleasure which is perhaps greater, or at least equitable to, the time spent in the new destination.

The most travelling I've ever done in a short period of time was my solo trip around Italy in 2006. On my way there I sat in the small space beside the window, my eyes fixed on the fluffy white clouds billowing around the plane. I was filled with a distinct sensation of being nowhere. I knew the destination I was travelling towards, of course, but in the moment of transition between one place to the next I couldn't really know what awaited me and I didn't have the familiarity of my hometown to comfort me. Until I arrived at my destination, it could be anything that I wanted it to be. There were no realities to constrain my vision and nothing to disappoint or underwhelm.

Once in Italy, I arrived at each train station with my black rucksack slung on my shoulders, my small, pink suitcase trailing behind me and a sense of anticipation flowing in my veins. Stepping into the station signified that it was time to move on to the next city, to move towards the unknown, to have the freedom of not really 'being' anywhere.

In short, I like the transitory nature of travelling.


I left my job last month. I left the one before that and the one before that too.

I changed my University course at the beginning of second year. I dropped out at the beginning of third year. I returned the year after that.

I tried to start a vintage clothing business one year.

I went back to University and got a Masters degree.

I got an internship and worked towards a policy role.

I got the policy role. We planned to get a mortgage, buy a house and start being responsible adults. I moved the goalposts again and left my job to accept a temporary, part time contract in an industry where this is the normal career path. After that contract is finished, if I'm lucky I'll get another short term contract and then another and so on. The prospect of the unknown is terrifying.

And yet, I am happier than I have been for a while. I like this period of change, of making plans and of not quite knowing how it will work out. It suits me to be in flux, to be moving from one thing to the next. I like to be in transition. I like to be on airplanes and trains.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Challenge Number 11: Go Ape.

This month's challenge was a difficult one to pick because it's not easy to sustain completing a challenge every month for a whole year without running out of ideas. I almost, in a bit of a blind panic, booked myself in to do a bungee jump but chickened out and so Go Ape was chosen as a sort of halfway house. It is admittedly less extreme but I've had a desire to try it out for a while and what is this year all about if not to do things that I've always wanted to do? Exactly.

My favourite challenges so far have been the ones that I've managed to rope other, unsuspecting victims into and this one definitely falls into this category. I managed to convince Ryan to take part with me, which was good for many reasons, not least that he was able to successfully navigate the way to Glentress Forest where the Go Ape trail is situated. Navigation has never been my strong suite you see.

In an unusual stroke of luck the weather today was lovely, if a little cold. This makes a pleasant change because most of the other challenges have been overseen by grey rainclouds and an accompanying bad mood on my part as a result.

We arrived at Go Ape and got ourselves geared up with the necessary safety equipment. Of course, there were the obligatory jokes about whether or not I was tall enough to complete the course and then there was a slight panic when we read the safety disclaimer which claimed that three people had fallen off the course because they hadn't made sure that their clips were properly secured. I have a tendency to forget things frequently, so I didn't really have much faith in myself to remember all the wee clippy things (also called carabiners for the technically inclined). Quite a bit of practicing before heading up to the course put my mind at rest however and we mainly just felt excited to get on with the challenge.

We headed to the start area and the first bit of the course was chaperoned by the Go Ape guide. I think I may have annoyed him a little with my inability to understand the carabiners because he chose me and Ryan as the guinea pigs to tackle the first bit of the course. I climbed the rope ladder up to the course with wobbly legs, made my way across a tightrope and then down a small zip wire.

I'd been confident in my ability to get round the course with minimal fear as I'm not particularly scared of heights (hello: already tackled that). Despite my confidence, when I first got up there it felt a little more nerve racking than I had expected. Once I was pushed off the edge by the guide - clearly I did annoy him - and realised that the harness was more than capable of supporting me, I gained confidence and made it round the rest of the course with ease. Just call me Lara Croft from now on.

The best parts of the course were the zip wires and the Tarzan swings, the second of which entailed quite a drop before the harness kicked in to support me. My screams as I leapt off this obstacle probably indicate that I'm not entirely cut out for bungee jumping.

The last part of the course was the big zip wire across the reservoir. I tried to find out how high this zip wire is but couldn't find the information on the internet. You'll just have to be content with my educated guess which is - pretty bloody high. The photograph doesn't really do it justice as it's much higher once you get out of the hill and through the trees. The video at the bottom (of a random person zipping across probably gives a better idea of the height.

The videos on the blog are pretty rubbish quality but I'll share them on my Facebook if you'd like to have a nosy at the full thing.

Also, just a reminder that all of these challenges are being carried out with the aim to raise money for two wonderful charities. You can donate to Sick Kid's Friend's Foundation or Stroke Association via the hyperlinks. Thank you.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A week to forget.

This past week and a half has been a bit of a write off, truth be told.

One of the worst parts of it was that my new shiny bike was stolen from right outside my flat door. What makes this even more disappointing is that I noticed the absent bike right after I stopped a fight outside of Lidl. I mean, that would have made for a good story but now it's been completely usurped by the case of the missing bike.

Also, I feel that it's important to point out that this bothersome bike pilfering was actually the second offence perpetrated against me within the past few months. My decision to leave my other bike outside as a free present for someone came back to bite me in the backside as I suspect that it was a little like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the thieving shits.

Oh how I laughed at their willingness to steal a fifteen year old bike with no working brakes. I'm not laughing now though. AM I?!?

Maybe Bill Murray stole my bike?

Another troubling development in my life of late is that I have a wonderful bout of adult acne/skin infection/bubonic plague which, even after three rounds of antibiotics, simply refuses to clear.

There are two ways in which this is RUINING my life.

Firstly, I look like a spotty, pre-pubescent teenager which is not ideal really. No, not ideal at all.

Secondly, having never given blood before, I've been keen to add this in as one of my challenges this year. I can't do that while I'm on antibiotics which is a bit frustrating as the stubbornness of the monstrosity on my face is making it seem likely that I'll be on them until well into the new year. I can say goodbye to that challenge then.

In addition to a stolen bike and a spotty face, I'm also kind of, in between jobs at the moment which has been a little bit stressful.

Finally.....there is a mouse in my house.

It is not as cute as this one.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

One in which I introduce myself

As you might have gathered from the last post, life has been a little bit quiet around these parts recently and inspiration for blog posts has been a little thin on the ground. Maybe you come round these parts of the internet for more than just stories about how I very nearly left the house without trousers on. If you do, I'd like you to readjust your expectations accordingly.

Anyway, I felt like writing something, but didn't really have much to write about until I came across one of these blogger questionnaire things that sometimes does the rounds. I've been blogging for the best part of a year already and have never really introduced myself so I thought that now was as good a time as any....

1) How tall are you?

I'm 5, 4.

Technically, that's not true.

I'm 5,3 and 3/4s but I always round up. Also, 5,4 is above average height (or so Wikipedia told me) so if everyone can stop with the patting on the head and the picking me up without my permission that would be great.

2) Do you have a hidden talent?

Erm, it's not really a hidden talent, nor is it probably that rare a skill but I am a horse rider. Not everyone can do that. Right?

If that doesn't count as a hidden talent then I can also make my pinkie toes wiggle without moving any of my other toes. Still probably not classified as a talent. This game sucks.

3) What is your biggest blogging related peeve?

Sorry for being a complete pedant but bad spelling and grammar really piss me off. *frantically checks post for own spelling and grammar mistakes of which there are probably a few*

4) What is your favourite song?

As mentioned before I'm a little bit obsessed by First Aid Kit. I love all their songs so it's tough to choose one but I'm going to go with My Silver Lining....and EmmyLou. Okay that's two songs but I couldn't help myself.

As for my favourite song of all time - Carolina in My Mind by James Taylor has some pretty strong memories attached to it.

5) What's your favourite way to spend time alone?

Have I mentioned Gossip Girl before?

Actually, I finished that programme. I watched all six seasons within a month which I consider to be a major life achievement, particularly considering how terribly dire it became towards the end.

My new current favourite thing to do when I'm along is watch The Vampire Diaries. Evidently I like television shows aimed at my inner teenager.

Other than watching TV which I realise makes me sound slightly depressing, I have a variety of activities in which I partake when I am left to my own devices. These include;

Reading. I want to pretend that I read a lot of books but actually this mainly pertains to twitter, the daily mail side bar of shame and wikipedia (because I like knowing random information).
Writing a first chapter of a novel.
Realising that I don't have a second chapter.
Repeating this process regularly.
Laughing at my own jokes.
Pinning motivational quotes on Pinterest.
Eating cereal instead of meals
Eating half of Ryan's chocolate then putting the other half in the bin. Possibly his least favourite habit of mine?

I consider it a blessing that I don't live on my own.

6) What's your favourite junk food?

Lidl's white chocolate and Pizza. Not at the same time as that would be ridiculous. Or would it? 

7) Do you have a pet?

YES! I have the world's coolest cat. His name is Crunchie because I named all my cats after chocolate bars. (Whispa, Minstrels and Crunchie). I was a chubby child.

Crunchie has used approximately five of his nine lives thus far. His escapades include being run over, going for a spin in the tumble dryer, falling into a drum of oil and ingesting some, being shot in the face with an air pellet gun and being locked in a shed for a length of time.

Not all of these were my mother's fault. Some were though and I don't let her forget it.

8) When were you last embarrassed. What happened?

My life is a catalogue of embarrassment.

Like the time I whipped some lube out in front of my parents.

Or the time I had to ask strangers in the swimming pool to find my nose clip for me.

Or today, when I wore my jumper backwards for the first hour and a half of my working day.

I could go on. The point is though, that none of these things really embarrass me. Perhaps it's the frequency with which such things tend to happen to me that means I don't get embarrassed very easily. A side effect of this is that I tend to over share. You might have noticed that.

The last time I was properly embarrassed was probably summer 2012 when my flip flop fell off as I was walking down the aisle as a bridesmaid in my friend's Ibizan wedding. I had to limp down the whole aisle, with one flip flop on and one left tragically behind.

The whole saga culminated in my friend, the bride, having to stop on her way down the aisle to pick up my flip flop and pass it to me as she reached the alter.

9) If you could only drink one drink for the rest of your life (apart from water) what would it be?

Strawberry and Lime Cider. On ice, with a wedge of lime thank you very much.

10) If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live?

Currently, I want to live in Berlin.  I have a basic grasp of German - 'Hallo, Ich heisse Kylie. Ich bin sieben und zwanzig jahre alt' - so I'm halfway there really.

I've also had a lifelong obsession with Italy, which I believe is largely down to the pasta and pizza. Again, I have fairly proficient language skills to live in this country. By this of course, I mean that I have the skills to order pizza and ask for directions to, erm, the church. 'Dove la Chiesa?' 

I'm hoping that other destinations can be easily substituted once I know their italian names.

In short, either Berlin or Italy (probably Rome) will do.

For now, I live in Edinburgh and that's good too because there is a castle here.

11) Last romantic gesture from a crush/date/boyfriend/spouse.

Ryan bought me Lidl white chocolate and strawberry and lime cider. He knows the way to my heart.

12) What do you have hung on your wall that you adore?

I have signed James Taylor tickets hanging on my wall. I battled my way through a crowd of octogenarians for these so they're very precious.

Also see question 4.

13) What blogger do you secretly want to be friends with?

Well this is worded quite creepily.

My favourite bloggers are as follows;

Awash With Wonder
A Dash of Ginger
Tartan Mouth
Not Wed or Dead
Hazel Jane