For a few days at the end of August I had the opportunity to travel to a city I had heard plenty about but never been.
I hardly travel on my own, I feel if anxiety takes a hold I may not be able to deal with it. However, I was invited to meet up with a group of people all I had to do was get myself out there. No big deal for some but a massive deal for me.
The week or two leading up to my flight out I was really suffering, thoughts were shattered and I felt hot and bothered for large portions of that time.
I was dropped off at the airport by mum and dad. As they drove off the feeling of aloneness and anxiety swept over me.
Dragging my case through the check in area I knew I had to get a grip otherwise I would fall apart very publicly.
I had checked in online so all I had to do was get through security and into the departure area.
The queue through security was incredibly long and the area was hot. My case got pulled and questions asked about my liquids, mainly make up and shower gel (I must reduce this next time I travel). Once through I decided to get a coffee and a bite to eat.
Soon I was called to the gate, having booked priority seating I didn’t have to endure the bun fight others did. Seated and settled the flight was about to start. Since watching mum drive off and me having a talk to myself I was ok but the noise of the engines started me off again. Flying is not my favourite pastime.
However no sooner we had taken off the plane was getting ready to land. Soon after that I was stepping on Netherland soil. I was picked up at the airport and I got my first feeling of excitement I had done it!
Amsterdam was for me a place of contrasts. Beautiful buildings, a laid back vibe but with a vibrant nightlife.
The weather threw a spanner in the works on day one so plans needed to be changed. Frustrating but it was inevitable and ok once I got my head round it.
The time I had there went quickly and trying to cram as much in as possible meant I was tired and I still didn’t get to see everything.
Things I regret/now know
1-I didn’t take my running stuff, a run there would have been fantastic.
2-An extra night/day would have been useful to do the stuff that could not have been done due to the weather on the first day.
3-Being hesitant about travelling on my own, it was actually ok and less stressful than with others.
4-I like travel, I missed home but I think I found a lost piece of me during the days away thanks to the new experience.
5-I need to travel more.
One day I would like to go back and see the city again. In the meantime I will see if the travel bug remains and what could be the next port of call.
Living in London and once upon a time working in London I have never really appreciated the fine city.
One hot Friday that changed.
Myself, hubby and our friends decided we were going to see London from a height.
First up was the sky train cable car. Soaring over the Thames I was thrilled to see this part of London from this height and it was high!
Next was the O2 climb, something I had been terrified about but keen to do nevertheless.
The climb up was hard on the legs and at one point we were asked to wait on the slope as a member of the climbing party was having difficulty. After standing there for about 10 minutes I started to have a panic attack. The picture shows me going through the attack and how I looked at the end. The smiles at the top were true feels of enjoyment and relief.
Jumping onto the tube, next stop was the London Eye.
The weather had been kind on the climb and we hoped it would remain for the views over west London.
The views were amazing. There are 32 pods on the Eye but as there is no number 13 pods are numbered up to 33.
Next stop Oxford Street. More to the point Selfridges for their rooftop cream tea.
Newly opened that week we made our way up in the express lift to the roof. Oxford Street below you could hear the rumble of the traffic but distant.
We were given a huge spread and nice pots of tea. I wasn’t expecting to feel full up but I felt I had to waddle out of there.
It was an enjoyable day. My personal highlight was going through with the O2 climb and overcoming a fear.
I would recommend the Selfridges rooftop restaurant.
London is one of the best cities in the world, a huge fan and I will want to do a tourist trail again one day.
I have been working in education for many years. I have ups and downs with it, working in some fabulous establishments and not so great places. Every end of year forces me to review how I feel about a place and also where I see myself the next academic year.
I started my current job in November 2016. It was a change of direction for me from the previous roles I have had but it was a direction I wanted to go in. It has not always been plain sailing, there were some incredibly hard days and some amazing days. Days where I question what I am doing and then what others (parents, government, colleagues) may be doing.
I realised that where I worked was pretty special with the end of term celebrations at Christmas, I was well out of my comfort zone but I was having fun whilst helping others. Easter was much the same, with a massive end of term celebration to send us off for the two week break. I knew the end of term/year celebrations would be amazing.
The celebration assembly was two weeks before the end of the school year, prizes were given out and we celebrated diversity and pride.
The last day of the year is known as Wow Day. There is a theme and this year it was the Wild West. I had heard a lot about Wow day but I needed to see it for myself.
We collaborated with another college, them as cowboys and us as native Americans and we decorated our college areas accordingly. My outfit was purchased and I dressed as a native American along with the rest of our college. Days were spent preparing the sets, with tutor groups doing their thing with tasks I set for them, such as making dream catchers, mini totem poles, masks and animal pictures. The days leading up to the last day was filled with painting, cutting, costume making, planning and replanning. I made a huge totem pole, wooden signs a pretend fire from tissue paper and fairy lights. I had students make things to hang from their teepees, tumble weed and native drawings. Colleagues made cactus from cardboard and other things to compliment the whole set up.
Finally it was Wow Day, I pulled into the car park and saw fairground rides being set up in one place, bouncy castles in another, a bucking bronco and a bungee run in another.
I could not believe my eyes.
All hands on deck for the morning whilst the kids competed in events outside. We set up our set, the corridors were buzzing with a great atmosphere, the end of the year was close and we were putting on a show.
Students were called in and we had a short amount of time to get them ready and the rest of the rooms set up.
The idea was that the head and executive head (wearing headdresses) would be pulled along by a trolley made up to look like a canoe, the students would be banging drums to a beat, the canoe/trolley would then stop outside the college office where silence descends and a native American prayer would be read and a drink served in a wooden bowl. Then one of our tribe would be kidnapped by the cowboys from the other colleges and a mini bow and arrow/gun fight would take place before the head and executive head move onto the next college. Once done it was all hands on deck to clear away and get the after party started.
And oh what a party, looking back I still cannot believe I was part of it.
I was given a large water blaster and as I walked out into the open I could see students and staff alike with similar contraptions.
Never have I had the opportunity to chase down staff members and my students and soak them. I was soaked in return and I recall chasing members of the PE department at one point to get them back for an earlier attack. My mate and I tagged teamed and got the English department and various other kids. The foam cannons went off so the foam party took off, I danced to the DJ music under the foam with students and staff around me. There was fun and laughter everywhere, for me it was like a release after a strange week and a full on year.
After a while of chaotic activity the music changed a countdown started and the gallons and gallons of paint came out. There was electric in the air as the kids realised what was about to happen. I grabbed a paint gun and loaded up bright fluorescent orange into it. The music changed again and just at the right moment we unleashed the paint onto the waiting students and then staff around us. I was covered in pink, orange, green, blue, yellow, I looked like a rainbow. My hair was like dreadlocks, my war paint added earlier was now different hues and I had not laughed as much in such a while.
It was time to see the students off, us staff stood by the gates and clapped them out wishing them a safe summer break, they looked as colourful as us.
The drive home was interesting, still covered in foam, water and paint I was certainly getting some odd looks from other drivers. A quick shower and I was back to normal but with some added happy memories.
School is now out for the summer, at my place we break a week later than everyone else as we have 2 weeks at the October half term but it has been a huge slog to get here. I love my job, there are days when it is mentally tough but I am there for the students and will continue to help students for as long as I have energy to do so.
I work in a strange place, we are focussed on progress and ensuring we are giving the students the best start in life but we have massive fun in doing so. Our celebration assemblies are huge, we dress up, we make noise we celebrate and give away prizes that include playstations and TVs. But, the school is in an area that has great deprivation that is mirrored in many places across the country. We try to address the balance and show that even in that area each and every person has a choice on their future and we guide and show that there is ways out of their situation if they wish it. I try to use my This Girl Can role to show my female students that they can do whatever they put their mind to not only in sport but in every aspect of their life, all too much young females in areas like where I work don’t often get the message that they have choices, that they can go to university, they can have a great well paid job that they are worthy of having the life they want.
The prom was exciting and was my first prom attendance and all the students looked amazing and the year 6 transition worked really well for the final 2 weeks of the term. September is still a way off but I will look forward to returning and taking on the next chapter.
Working in a school is challenging, tiring but so so rewarding and I am proud to be part of what we are all trying to do there.
So now the school break is here what are my plans? Plenty of swimming, cycling, running and gym work if I can. Spending time with friends if I can and recovering from this very long term.
If 2015 was the year I got off my butt and started to run then 2016 is the year I face my fears.
I have already set up some targets for 2016 that will help me face things I have dreaded and things that still need working on, some fall in line with hubby and what he is also aiming for but some are personal aims and goals.
Complete my local parkrun at least once a month and achieve a PB time I have set aside for myself.
Complete a PB on a 10k, I have booked 2 so far for 2016 and will run them with hubby.
Complete a half marathon, my friends from he club will be joining me and hubby with this.
Complete the Beachy Head marathon with other club members.
Continue to be fitter and healthier in body and mind.
Continue with the work life balance.
Cycle to work.
Continue to be grateful for the small things each and every day.
Give whatever I am doing 100%
I am looking forward to 2016 and the changes it will bring. I hope you all managed to to have a restful Christmas and have your own personal goals for 2016 in mind.
I would have never had thought that I would have ended 2015 loving running, nor would I have expected to run on Christmas day – a day normally set aside for being a vegetable.
But this year the Christmas period did not stop the love of getting out there.
The weekend before Christmas myself and hubby set off with other members of the club and completed a charity run collecting funds for a charity close to our heart First Step. We were all dressed up in festive gear and ran 5 miles through 2 local shopping areas collecting with buckets. It was such a laugh and great fun. A prefect start to the festivities.
The next club run we decided that a tour of the local streets were in order to take in the decorated houses, they were spectacular and one of the best recent club runs.
Christmas Day dawned and myself and hubby were joined by a few others from the club to take part in the special Barking Park Christmas Day parkrun. I wasn’t looking forward to it as I had spent a few days feeling really under the weather but boy oh boy I was so glad we did it.
Apparently it was one of the biggest parkrun events for Christmas with 155 like minded people coming out to run the 5k and making room for their turkey later.
The weather was damp but as we set off it was nice to be surrounded by people either in Christmas fancy dress or in new running clothes gifted by loved ones.
I was pleased as I completed a parkrun PB, a great christmas gift to myself.
I hope you were able to enjoy some fresh air over the Christmas break.
Whilst I was sitting by the pool one hot and humid Floridian I had time to think about the direction I was heading in and how I wanted to document it (if I wanted to document it). I wanted to put my running journey out there in the public domain whilst keeping some of the other things that I enjoyed writing about such as books, beauty and anything else that popped up at that time. However, I did not want writing about life to take over my life and be seated next to a computer more than getting out there.
I was tying myself into blogging twice weekly with book reviews and lifestyle, and then when I started to document running it because a 3 times a week post. With working full time, running a home and trying to get fitter and stronger both physically and mentally I had to consider dropping the amount of times I blog, I hope this is ok.
I am keeping the sections so if you are interested in particular things such as my running journey then posts will appear under “the fit files’; if you are interested in beauty reviews then ‘beauty’ is where to head and my book reviews will appear (yes you guessed it) under ‘book reviews’.
I don’t make money from blogging nor do I want to but I just feel that I would like to document without over sharing.
So here we go, I wanted to share some pictures from the holiday.
We arrived in Florida to torrential rain and storms, as we touched down in Orlando lightening flashed around us. Oh great I thought what have I come out to?
After collecting the hire car we drove across town to Hard Rock Hotel at Universal, our base for 4 days. I am a careful driver but I was also worried, the car was a huge 7 seater and heavy and its a huge shock to get into a massive car after bombing around town in a mini. We made it to the hotel in 1 piece and quickly set our cases down to join the family in the park.
By this time the rain had cleared somewhat but the sky was grey. Never mind, we know that when we are in Florida we have a great time no matter what.
We had a meal in the Irish restaurant before heading towards the new Harry Potter rides.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had heard mixed views but I was really taken by the new sections. It was like being back in London except by now the pavements were steaming from the rain and the humidity and it was cleaner.
The ride from ‘Kings Cross’ to ‘Hogwarts’ was a steam train and I have to say it was one of the best things I have seen for some time. Very clever with excellent graphics and surprises along the way. Perfect for all ages.
We rode the steam train back to ‘Kings Cross’ and walked around Diagon Alley. The Alley and Gringotts was guarded by a fierce fire breathing dragon (is there any other kind) that let out a huge plume of fire to warn wizards and muggles alike that the bank was guarded.
There was an excellent ride within Gringotts and we proceeded to go on this ride many times throughout our stay, again very cleverly put together and really enjoyable. My new favourite ride.
After a few days at Hard Rock we moved into our villa, once settled we made plans to visit Disney Magic Kingdom. The weather had sorted itself out and it was hot and sunny every day.
Now a secret, years ago I was never a fan of Disney, I could not see the point. That is until I visited Magic Kingdom for the millennium. Walking down Main Street USA that first time really showed me why Disney is as popular now as it always has been and I was hooked.
As you walk down Main Street (or march if you are with Mr JAEG and his brother) you face the wonder that is Cinderella’s castle, we always stop to take a photo although it has never changed in all the times we have visited but its tradition now
As we had got there for park opening we did all the usual rides including Splash Mountain, (another family tradition). Walked absolutely miles and had some lovely food. My favourite place to eat is now Beasts Castle and the Be Our Guest restaurant. Their sandwiches and cakes were amazing, another secret, Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney film.
We knew it would be a long hard day getting in so early but we all wanted to see the afternoon parade and light show and fireworks later that night.
The daytime parade changes and I have not seen the same one twice, each year is a different celebration. It was good to see Beauty and the Beast as well as the usual characters in the mix.
The fireworks has changed slightly, last year Disney started to incorporate a light show, Cinderella’s castle is lit up in a very clever way depicting scenes from the films or pictures to go with the music or words. As always the fireworks were amazing, they never cease to please.
After being in the park at 8am we left after 11pm, my feet were aching but the day had been worth it. The drive back to the villa fortunately swift and we settled down to relax and discuss the day.
The rest of the holiday consisted in relaxing by our pool, shopping and eating at Downtown Disney and I am please to say I also kept up my running. I ran twice whilst I stayed at Hard Rock and 4 times whilst at the villa. I also walked and cycled whilst at the villa and I felt good despite the heat. I needed to exercise after all I had eaten and drunk!
Running whilst on holiday is a new thing for me and I think I surprised everyone including myself that I actually got out there, after all on previous occasions I had good intentions but never followed them through. Maybe this is a sign of the times and shows I am willing to sort myself out.
I loved Florida and I know I have a great time when I go. It was good to catch up with the family and good to relax and take stock of things before going back to work.
I hope you all managed to have some time for yourselves and enjoyed the summer.