Twitchy babbling blah.

I’m feeling twitchy this week. Like I have lots to do and I don’t know where to start. Like I have a million ideas and don’t know what to think about first. Which is kind of true and kind of not. I have a few things to do, yep, but nothing major. All of it can wait (what for, I don’t know). I have ideas but they’re all little ones that I’m not sure how to start developing. And I want to write. But I don’t know what about. I have about 5 blog posts in draft but none of them feel right yet. The words just don’t come. I have to be in the right mood for these words to get written down (which probably explains why a lot of my posts are perhaps rambly and babbly as it’s just what comes out of my brain with little filter). So I end up doing nothing. This is probably familar to a lot of people. Bloody procrastination.

I’m away with work so I’ve just been for a walk to look for a supermarket to buy Maltesers. Procrastination. Something to do. I didn’t even really want the Maltesters (although they’re tasting pretty damn good, and I’m sure they help me to write). What I should have done is just gone for a walk and got some fresh air. As when I was walking I realised I just needed to write something, and I have done for a while now. And so this is it. I just haven’t known what to write about. Nothing seemed right, or too negative, or not that interesting. But then that’s life though, isn’t it? The ups and downs, the good and the not-so-good. Not everyone can have the perfect life, all the time.

——–The Maltesers are all gone now. Writing will get shit.

Have you heard of #lifeunfiltered? It’s a hashtag that’s doing the rounds on social media to highlight the difference between what people post on social media and how life actually is. Because most people don’t want to post what a shitty time they’re having. They create this amazing life to portray to people. What they want people to see. So you see a smiling picture on Facebook and assume that everything’s OK, when actually it’s anything but.

OK, so no one wants to post the crappy mundane stuff. And in all likelihood no one probably wants to read about it either. But unless you ask, you’re unlikely to know if someone’s having a tough time. Or unless they tell you. Because that’s the other thing. People (and I’m aware I’m talking in general, but I’m kind of basing this on anecdotal evidence from conversations I’ve had with people and media articles – as always, please take with a pinch of salt and feel free to enter in a discussion with me) aren’t necessarily interacting as much anymore, because social media does it for you, right? You can see someone’s OK because they’ve posted a picture and liked your status. You don’t need to actually speak to them do you? Or even message them? I posted about this once when I was travelling. Because I found that because I was away, posting all my pictures and blogging about it, people stopped getting in touch. You know, saying hello or asking me how I was. Or telling me what they were up to. It’s just not the same, trust me.

“But I’m so busy.”

I’m sure everyone has heard or said that. Hell, I have said it. And only recently. And kind of why I’m writing this post. The last six weeks or so for me has been pretty tough and relentless. Some of it is my own doing, and some of it unfortunate circumstance or bad timing. Training for London to Paris as well as trying to foster a new social life in a place I’d just moved to, work a job that involves me being away from home most weeks and all the travel logistics that go with it, keep all the usual domestic stuff going with only the weekend to do it all, try and keep fit and healthy, a bereavement and being away from family, a birthday spent alone without any cards or phone calls and trying to not neglect existing friendships/social life. And frankly, I struggled. I’m still struggling.

But did I post about this on social media? No. (Well, unless you count this post, but I think this is different, I’m a bit back on track by now, although sorry to anyone I saw last weekend as I know I wasn’t quite myself.) Because the other thing is that it’s hard when people know you as a positive, sociable person who just gets on with things. They sometimes don’t know how to handle it. And as that person, it’s hard to tell people or ask for support. And sometimes when you do, and you don’t get it, that makes it twice as hard.

I’m normally busy, and I know so many people are but it’s about prioritising the things you enjoy rather than things that stress you out. For me, I like being busy with all the things I love doing (e.g. I don’t have any time to watch TV but I prefer to go running) but I don’t like having all my free time planned in. I need to be spontaneous to either do something or do nothing. I like to have the choice. And for me it’s important that I keep in touch with people outside of social media. Or, directly, rather than just liking a status etc. Because of the above. People are having crappy times but you’d never know. So maybe it’s time to ask them actually how they are, rather than taking their life as it is perceived through a collection of status, pictures and 140 character statements. Get involved.

I haven’t really looked at social media much recently, so if I haven’t liked your status or pictures it’s not because I’m being rude, it’s just had to take a back seat. Let’s try and talk about it instead eh? Talk about real life. #lifeunfiltered.

So here’s my #lifeunfiltered photo tonight. Think working away from home is exciting, glamorous and fun? Not always. The reality tonight – the unfiltered – is a box of Maltesers, a single bed, cups of tea made with UHT milk and writing this. I’m missing my flat, my own bed and my Kindle, which I forgot to bring with me. I miss cooking my own tea and having something healthy. I’m annoyed at myself for eating Maltesers, because I wouldn’t have done that at home tonight. Of course I could have gone and explored London and gone for a walk or a run by the river and it would have been amazing. But I’m shattered and my mojo’s on holiday for a bit.

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I’m not sure what the conclusion of this post is. Think this is one of those posts that’s probably been more helpful to me to write than for anyone to read. But maybe the moral is to not take everything at social media face value. Don’t use it like a spy hole into people’s lives, as it’s probably not real; interact with people as well. Don’t assume that everyone is doing OK. Some people might need a bit of support. And that support might be something as simple as asking how they are.

 

Do you know what you’re looking for?

Someone tonight told me they hope I get whatever I am after in life. A kind of, “hope you find what you are looking for”. I had someone else say that to me before I went travelling too. I was a bit surprised because I’m not really after anything, except to be happy. Maybe I give off a vibe. I hope not. Definitely not looking for anything. Kind of insinuates that I spend my life looking or searching, never quite satisfied. Not so. I like to live in the moment as much as I can. I don’t really have a plan, or life goals. Don’t think I like to coast though, oh no. There’s always stuff in my head that I fancy doing, or want to give a go. A kind of bucket list that’s not written down, mainly because I don’t feel the need right now, and also because it just keeps changing and evolving.

Granted, I did think that perhaps I’d come back from my time away having figured out a bit more what I wanted to do, but alas! This was not to be. In fact, I came back with more questions than answers. But I also came back knowing that I probably would never know, and that actually that’s OK .And questions are good. I know I can create opportunities where I want to. And that if something’s not right, I can change it. And things just have a habit of working out, and going in a natural direction as long as I work towards it. i’m quite a simple creature; I just want to be happy. So I spend my time doing things that make me feel happy, and spend my time with people that make me feel happy.

Are you looking for something? If you spend your life looking or searching for something, there’s a risk you miss whats actually happening. What is it you’re looking for – does it even exist?

Don’t spend your life looking too far ahead, because you miss the now. And the now is where it’s at.

How to bike from London to Paris in two easy steps.

1. Buy a bike.

2. Pedal.

Yep, it’s as easy as that.

Kind of.

When I signed up to cycle London to Paris in 24 hours, I didn’t really read all the details. So I didn’t really appreciate how far it was or how much training I’d have to put in. Or how many times I’d fall off before getting the hang of clippy pedals. Or how much nutrition plays a part. And how hard training can be if you want to try and have some kind of social life. Especially when you’ve just moved to a new place and are making new friends. Or how much kit I’d need. And how much it would cost in all. Or how much of a headache the logistics would be.

But, I’d signed up. I’d paid the cash and committed. No going back. I wanted to do it.

So I did what I needed to do. I tried to get out on Bob the Bike as much as I could. Which, when you work away most of the week, is not that much. I got bored with the training. The weather hasn’t been that great and I hate to admit that I’m a bit of a fair-weather biker. Not a fair-weather runner, but biking in the rain isn’t that appealing.

I tried to eat well but that didn’t always work out. I tried not to drink too much. I tried to get enough sleep.

D-day came around pretty quickly. I’d managed to get everything sorted for it, like all the practicalities of getting to London, staying in Paris and getting back again, but did I feel prepared? Did I fuck. I’d felt positive a couple of weeks before after a pretty intensive training weekend back in Lincs. I’d cycled a decent amount, in all weather too and my legs felt good. I’d been going to BMF and still running a bit so felt my overall fitness was alright. But the weekend before the event I didn’t get out on the bike at all. In fact I spent it out socialising, drinking and eating shit food. Not the best way and when the Saturday came around the positivity I’d felt the week before had definitely slipped down the scale somewhat. But, being the eternal optimist I am, it was still there. Because it never really crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I knew I would, somehow. Even if it took me ages and I limped towards the Eiffel Tower, I always pictured myself doing it. Not doing it just wasn’t an option, because I’m stubborn and it was in my power. No one else was going to do it for me so I sure as hell would give it my best shot.

So off I trotted with Bob, my gear for a couple of days in Paris, a comforting sense of mild apprehension and some lovely messages of support. Also walking like I was wearing a nappy, courtesy of some beautiful new padded GORE cycling shorts I’d been given (later to be worth their weight in gold, frankincense AND myrrh).

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Thank you, First Great Western for making it so easy to travel to London with my bike. Not so easy on the underground, although I can’t blame TFL for that. It’s just not easy taking a full size bike onto a crammed circle line train at lunchtime on a Saturday (although before you say anything, it’s allowed, it’s off peak and one of the few lines you CAN take a bike onto. I checked. Obvs.). As I would have loved to have pointed out to a chap on the tube. I would have actually acknowledged that I know I was a fucking pain in that car if he been man enough to say something to me about it rather than ranting under his breath to his girlfriend thinking I couldn’t hear.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a blow-by-blow account of the whole 200 miles. You wouldn’t want to read that just as much as I wouldn’t want to write it. But, just while we’re on the subject, 200 miles is quite a long way I think. I still can’t really picture it in my head. But it’s a fairly long way to drive in the car, so even longer to bike. I just never really thought of it as 200 miles. Think that’s the key. Just think of the stints between rest stops. Between 20-30 miles each one. Pedal, stop, EAT, pedal, stop, EAT, pedal, stop EAT.

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Yes, yes, you have to EAT. And eat LOTS. This is good for me. I like EATING. The rest stops on this challenge were immense. So much food to choose from. It’s actually amazing how much of a difference this makes. If you don’t eat enough there’s just no energy. Keep fuelling and you can keep going. The human body is an amazing thing. Food is fuel really, that’s all.

So the English leg was a bit time pressured. We had to make the ferry or that was it, adventure over before it began. So, pedal to the metal. Or, foot to the pedal. Or pedal to the floor. Whichever, the legs had to spin round fairly fast. And there were a lot of hills. Good job I’d done most of my training in the Cotswolds. A mixture of riding with new friend Roger, who kept me entertained up and down the hills of the South Downs, and riding alone day dreaming and admiring the view and thanking my nappy shorts for meaning my arse wasn’t hurting yet. About 10 miles to go and the rain started. We’d actually been really lucky up to then and it was only cold and windy. It was supposed to rain all afternoon so an hour in the rain wasn’t too bad. So, it got wet. And dark. Luckily I’d caught up with some riders and there were some behind me too, so we rode into Newhaven in a small peloton of flashing red lights, dripping helmets, big smiles of relief and confusion over the entrance to the Premier Inn. Note: riding a bike in the dark in rain with glasses means you can’t actually see much apart from huge flashing fuzzy red circles. Solution: Stick to the wheel of the guy in front of you and hope he doesn’t brake suddenly. 

Getting to the Newhaven Premier Inn in really good time was a huge boom. I was well chuffed with myself and my legs. It was the most I’d cycled in one go (60 miles) and my legs felt strong and my arse was absolutely fine. Things were looking sweeeeet. Being soaked wet and going inside, eating and then having to layer back up in wet stuff to get back on a wet bike to cycle the 5 mins to the ferry port wasn’t so sweet though, but it was one milestone down and I knew I had a few hours in a [hopefully] warm ferry to dry out. Oh, and of course it wouldn’t be raining in France because that’s abroad and every knows it’s warm abroad, right?

11059718_10153271100251341_9194213874000144991_nI didn’t really think about what was to come. Whether it would be raining or not. What’s the point? It would be what it would be. What I tried to do was go to sleep. Didn’t quite manage it. Think I got about an hour. Dried out though. By the time we’d got through all the passport shizzle and eaten a banana or two, we were all off at 5am french time, riding in the dark on the wrong side of the road, flashing red lights as far as the eye could see.

I’ve only been to France once before, to Nice, so riding through little quaint countryside villages at dawn with silence apart from cockerels crowing (reminded me of Laos, seemingly the SE Asian land of cocks) and no one around was pretty special, but having to keep up the speed, concentrate on where you’re going and try to hug someone’s back wheel as close as possible to get in their slipstream meant that I didn’t really get a lot of time to look around and take it in. I do remember being pleased it was flat though. And smooth tarmac. Lovely.

And the route was fairly flat. Only a couple of hills (one only about 20 miles from Paris when most people had tired legs, but that earnt me the title Hill Monster. YES.). This is a fact to rejoice, although I do like the other side of a hill. You know, the coming down bit. That’s fun. Unless there are potholes. Then it’s not. My top speed on the english bit was 63km/hr. That’s over 40 mph I think (can’t be arsed to look for the conversion). You don’t want to be hitting a pothole at that speed, trust me.

It rained though. Pretty much all the way. Mostly drizzle that you kind of forgot about, but sometimes really heavy. We were all soaked for the whole 12 hours or so we were biking in France. Didn’t notice it after a while. And my kit served me well. Very well.

I rode with a small peloton all the way. We swapped stories, laughs, interesting facts and Bon Jovi songs. There were wild boar, bike pile ups and accidents involving sunglasses and commando rolls. We got stopped by the Police, who couldn’t really speak English and so ended up just telling us to ‘bike faster’. Pretty sure we were ALL GOING AS FAST AS WE COULD RIGHT THEN. I learnt more weird cycling hand signals used when biking in a group. It’s like another language.

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I learnt about nutrition, or mainly what not to eat. I’d not had chance to practice any kind of strategy (in fact most of my training rides were done without any nutrition – not recommended), In my case on this ride it was protein bar type things. Easy to put in a jersey pocket but my stomach did not like them. Not one bit. I spent the last 50 miles (believe me, this is a Long Way) with stomach ache trying not to think about needing a shit. I had to stop twice to be a bear in the woods. I’m sorry to all the people in the bar who got this story first hand that night. But, in the interests of education to all you people who may want to know what it’s like to do something like this, it’s important you know the actual Truth. It is not glamorous. I don’t normally have protein bars or any kind of of protein shakes etc. And I definitely wouldn’t again. Natural stuff all the way. Next time I’d make sure I had time beforehand to prepare some stuff to take with me.

Next time?

Yes, I said next time. As much as I am pleased it’s over and feel like I’ve got my weekends back, it was an incredible experience that I am one million percent pleased that I did. That I signed up on a whim and gave it a go. Because this used to be the kind of thing that other people did. That I read about but never thought I’d be able to do. But now, now it’s the kind of stuff do. I achieved it. ME. I DID IT. I tell you, that feeling of seeing and riding up to the Eiffel Tower for the first time was pretty damn special. And I got there without feeling completely broken! I actually did a little jog once I was off my bike to show my legs still worked. Probably completely high on endorphins and adrenaline at that point but hey, I could still walk. And surprisingly, my arse was not in bits. The ibuprofen I’d been popping religiously probably helped, but also my new shorts. Super nappy strength padding. I could sit down perfectly well. OK, so the whole area was a bit, shall we say, delicate, but this is hardly surprising after riding a bike for 18 hours in wet gear. A bit of savlon and a nights sleep sorted that out.

That smile, that’s for fucking real, that is.

11128625_10153271100871341_3010373041973151811_nThat and for my grandad, who died a week before I did this and so never got to know that I made it. And for all the people that want to but can’t do something like this, for whatever reason. I didn’t do this for charity, although I know a lot of people did. Do feel free to donate to your favourite charity though if you’ve been inspired. Or stick a few pence in the charity tin at the next shop checkout you go to.

I met so many awesome people; all doing the same thing but for so many different reasons. Everyone has their own story, struggles and motivations. All brought together by a common interest and a beer afterwards. The sweetest beer.

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So yes, there will probably be a next time. There will be something else. Right now the only things I have signed up for are a few running things over the summer. A half marathon, a 24 hour team relay endurance run and an obstacle course. There will be some summer cycling though, trust me. Me and Bob are not ready to part company just yet.

I’ve realised that the human body is an amazing thing. My body amazes me. I think I’m maybe fitter than I thought. I know I can do stuff, and I’m still figuring out what that is. If I don’t give things a go then I’ll never find out.

Life is for living, and for me, this is how I choose to live.

If anyone is thinking of doing anything similar, I’d wholeheartedly recommend it. You CAN do it, it WILL be amazing and you should totally do it. Give it a go. If you don’t try you’ll never know. What have you got to lose?

You can do anything you bloody want to, you just have to believe.

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Tinder trouble.

So I was persuaded to do a Tinder experiment this week by some mates and to report back in a blog post. Because when you’re single, people tend to start saying stuff like “why don’t you try internet dating, ooh try Tinder” blah blah blah. Some because they think I should be in a relationship, some because they think it would be fun for me and some because it would be fun for them to live vicariously through me. So I’ll start with the caveat that I’m not looking for a relationship, or even to date really. I’m quite perfectly happy being single and already know internet dating wouldn’t be for me anyway, even if I was looking. I just want to make new friends.

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So this will be a pretty heavily biased review as I’m not really the target audience for it, but I thought I’d be open minded and give it a go and see what happened. If anything, I like chatting to people and might end up making a new friend or two out of it. IT COULD BE FUN. If anything, hopefully it will provide you a laugh reading this.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Tinder is a phone app where you upload a few photos and a bit of blurb about yourself then either swipe left (no) or swipe right (yes) if you like the look of someone. Then they do the same. And if both people swipe right, you’re a match can message each other. Really simple, if not totally superficial. I suspect it’s predominately used for no strings fun and doubt it’s designed to meet your soulmate if you subscribe to that kind of thing.

So, I stuck a profile with some blurb about how I was new to Cheltenham, liked the outdoors, travel and anything sporty and wasn’t looking for just a hook up. Thought that might ward away any weirdos at the offset just wanting to get in my pants. But here was the first hurdle. What photos to put on? A lot of mine are instagrammed to shit. So they look alright but probably give a false impression. What if I actually meet these people? Will they be hugely disappointed when they meet me and realise I don’t actually look like that? No one wants THAT, even if I don’t actually give a shit. I want to put nice pictures, of course. No one wants no matches. THE PRESSURE. In the end I figured that I probably wouldn’t meet any of these people, it was just an experiment so it didn’t really matter anyway. (Ha! Rookie mistake.) Decided on a mix of decent pictures and a couple where I’m in the middle of a run or hike which obviously show my ‘sporty’ side. That would do. Helpful tip: the app defaults to your last 3 or 4 facebook photos but you can change them. Handy if one of your last couple of profile pictures is you in your underwear, that’s not going to help the no hookup message. Even if it is sportswear.

Verdict: Felt like I was putting myself up for sale in a catalogue or a competition prize “ooh, look what you could win”. Hmmm.

So, personal advert to the men of Cheltenham done, I set my search criteria (you can choose to view people by age, proximity etc.). Ruled out any real youngsters and oldies. Let’s keep it real people.

Now the fun could begin. And it was fun. For about half an hour. Then I got a bit bored. If you are someone who judges people on their looks then you’ll be alright I think. Lots of people to scrutinise. There’s a lot of people that hadn’t put much thought into what photos they were going to post. Or maybe they had, and they were being ironic. So I DID had a real giggle at what I was having to work with to make my swiping dilemmas. They kind of fell into a few camps, I saw the same kind of patterns. Here’s the kind of things that made me swipe left (no way Jose):

  • Anyone with pictures that weren’t them (cartoon characters, animals, landscapes). So do you actually look like Bart Simpson? Obviously not. And I don’t actually care enough to find out otherwise.
  • Bed selfies/half naked selfies. Now, I’m aware how hypocritical this is, I’m partial to both of these. But not on Tinder.
  • Shower selfies. Nah.
  • People without much/any blurb. I need some info people. You might look hot but if you’re into dog fighting or something. No.
  • Pictures where you’re holding up knives and guns. (Yes, really). OK they might be toys but still.
  • People with more than one photo where they look different in each one. Do you have a non-identical twin? Or just hardly any photos?
  • People who just post group pictures. WHICH ONE ARE YOU?
  • Pictures of penis’s (penii?). When is that EVER attractive?
  • Pictures of muscles. There’s a LOT of these in Cheltenham. Just like fancy cars, these don’t do it for me. Being fit, healthy and lean, yep. Triangle muscle men? Nah, not for me thanks.
  • Pictures of your achievements in the newspaper. Tell me about it instead.
  • Onesie pictures. Pretty sure a picture of me in my pyjamas wouldn’t be that interesting to you either.
  • Pictures not of your face. Specifically, the back of your head. Am sure no one ever met up with someone because the back of their head is nice. Although, if you’ve got a shaved head the shape of your head is important, so…. anyway. I digress.
  • Photos in fancy dress. I can’t see what you look like with half the face paint counter on. Although, clearly this shows you are up for a laugh and fun. Apart from the fact that you’re dressed as a serial killer.
  • Marine’s or Marine wannabees. Been there, done that. You won’t match up.
  • One picture, no blurb, the picture being you in a suit of armour. You’re probably going for ‘hey I’m funny, swipe to see and find out more’. But frankly, I can’t be fucking arsed.
  • Just one picture. I need to see more to see whether that was just a good picture. Or a shit picture. Because, well, it’s amazing how different people can be in photos at a different angle….
  • Pictures of you doing lots of activities like bungy jumping and sky diving. It’s good because I’d probably like you but I also can’t see what you look like.
  • People with catalogue photos and blurb saying you’re not single but after a good time. Err, no thanks buddy. Try imboredinmymarriage.com
  • Clearly photoshopped images. That 6 pack isn’t yours, is it love?
  • No picture at all – not sure you’ve grasped the concept of this…
  • Really pixelated photos. You know you can preview no?
  • People not smiling. Come on!
  • ALL your pictures are of your six pack. One OK, more than 1? Obsessive.
  • Pictures of cars. ARE YOU A CAR?
  • Picture of a beach. ARE YOU THE OCEAN?
  • A picture of a sandwich. White bread? No, no, no.
  • Blurb that includes gems such as “ I don’t bite….unless you want me to” and “willing to lie about how we met” and “good luck” (WTF!) or “not on here much” (what’s the point then?)
  • People that look like they’re from TOWIE or Made in Chelsea. Just not my cup of tea.
  • People that look like they spend more time the bathroom than I do. To be fair though, this is not actually that difficult, I’m not a preener.
  • Posts like they’re written by someone’s pet. Cooky or just weird?
  • Anyone that looks or sounds like my ex husband. Sorry, can’t do it.
  • Pictures of your feet. With shoes or not, I don’t have a foot fetish.
  • Photos of you naked sat on the toilet. REALLY?
  • Anyone with the name Dopeboy. No.
  • Staring intently into the camera lens. Like a serial killer.
  • Putting your mobile number in your blurb.
  • Photos all from one side of your face. What’s wrong with the other side?
  • Pictures of you in womens clothing. Hmm, not sure.
  • Putting your snapchat name in your blurb. You just want to send pictures of your dick and see pictures of my tits, don’t you?
  • A selfie clearly taken in bed with a girlfriend (now chopped out). You couldn’t take another one? Surely you own a phone?
  • A picture of you with 1D when they were about 12. Is that a good claim to fame for a 30 year old man? Swiped right for this one though.
  • Excessive use of exclamation marks. Every! Word! Should! Not! End! In! An! Exclamation! Mark!
  • When I fancied their mates in their pictures more than the person. Made me wonder if their mates were on Tinder too….

So that kind of ruled out A LOT of people. I didn’t swipe right that much. Mainly just for people that looked happy, smiley and that seemed to do similar stuff to me. Running pictures generally got a thumbs up, as did cycling or bungee jumping, or anything sporty. I figured if I’m going to make any friends, it might as well be with people I’ve got stuff in common with.

I still didn’t like it though. I felt like I was being hugely judgemental. Does that mean I should swipe right for everyone? No, I don’t think so. It means for me that I shouldn’t use shit like this. I’m not a judgemental person at all, and will talk to anyone and everyone. Prefer to do that in person though and not have to make a decision by swiping left or right.

And this was before any bloody messaging was going on.

So, if both people swipe right, then that’s a match. A match. Which brings with it fear and dread. And anticipation. Who should message first? Is it gentlemanly for them to start? What should you say? Is there tindering etiquette? How long should you wait? I don’t bloody know. Is there game playing and rules? Meh, bollocks to that if there is. I settled for a cheery hello, if I’d not already been messaged first. That’d do eh?

So, next there is chit chat over messages. Now there are even more important things to think about. Like how many smileys are too many? Will I sound like an alcoholic if I share drinking stories? Are typos acceptable? How do I say I’m only really looking to make friends? How long do you message before you meet up? Should you meet up? How do you know if you want to meet up? How many times can I type lol without sounding like a teenager? Should messages be flirty? How can messages be flirty? I’m shit at flirting. Or knowing when people are flirting.

After at least 30 seconds pondering all that, I decided to just be myself. No point in being anything else. If people don’t like my excessive use of smileys or lols, then I don’t want to be their friend. Lol. :P

I’ve been told it’s pretty normal for people on tinder/internet dating etc. to be ‘chatting’ to many people at once. So it’s also normal for people to know when you are active, leading to cries of “but they haven’t replied to my message but they were active 10 minutes ago”. ‘Last seen’ and ‘Read’ are inventions of evil, according to my online dating friends. But this also means that it’s quite easy to drop people. Just stop messaging them. Apparently, after discussing this with people, it’s a harsh world out there. When people are behind your computer screen it seems some manners go out the window, under the pretence of efficiency and getting on with it. “Why waste time?” seems to be a general thought. Seems a bit harsh to me but I guess a lot of people are on a relationship-gaining mission and Nothing Will Come In Their Way. Especially as you get older, because society tells us that we must be odd and weird if we are Still Single in our 30’s and so some people start panicking.

One of them asked me what I did for a living and I told him. Haven’t heard from him since. Nada, Maybe he’s had a bad experience with a HR consultant at some point. Should I be offended? No idea. I’m not.

A couple of them I will meet, whether I actually wanted to or not, as they’re members of the running club I will join (when I actually have time). Obviously potential for awkward turtle there. Don’t think it will be though. They seem quite nice and chatty and friendly, and I’m out to meet new friends, so all is good.

I’m not on it any more; I lasted an evening of swiping and then a day or so of messaging. Then I’ve kept in touch with a couple of people I’ve been messaging with, will be meeting up with them I think, but not for dates, just to make a new friend really and go from there.

I suspect most people are on it to get a bit of sex, and then maybe something more. Some might be after a relationship but as the app’s very nature is based on physical attraction it’s possibly the minority.

Tinder’s not for me, I knew that before I started but gave it a go, and nope, it’s still not. Subconsciously I know that I’m unlikely to find the kind of person I’d be after through something like Tinder. But, it was fun to give it a go. And after my little experiment I might at least make some new friends.

I find it really off putting that people are looking at my photos and judging me. Looking and rating me on basically whether they would want to sleep with me. Do people do that in real life? Well, yeah, course they do. I don’t. Not really. OK I guess I notice whether I find someone attractive or not, but that’s probably as far as I go. I don’t start thinking about what they’d look like naked. Oh, OK, maybe sometimes I do actually. I definitely DON’T think about whether they would be a good husband or father to any potential children. I know some people do that. And I find it really odd. But then I don’t even look at people (even after I’ve met them) and start thinking about potential relationships. To me, I meet people, become friends and if I like their company then I see them again. Romantic stuff doesn’t usually enter my head unless the other person has made a reference to it or I find them particularly attractive. And even if I am seeing them “romantically”, relationships don’t always enter my head as an option unless someone spells it out (cases in point: The Marine or the other one, and we all know how they ended).

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personality makes people attractive. At least in my world. 

After all that, I definitely wouldn’t tell people not to go on Tinder. It CAN be quite fun. It just depends what you’re after. If you don’t expect anything serious, and fancy a bit of fun, then give it a go. And it also probably helps if you’re looking to meet/date people. But it does require a bit of effort and time. All that swiping and messaging and stuff. Jesus. Or I might just be a lazy bastard. Either way, perhaps you should give it a go yourself.

Oh, and if you’re the person telling someone they should try Tinder, all this is what you’d be letting loose on them. Do it at your peril.

Sausages.

Just wrote a post. Deleted it accidentally. Bollocks. Now have to remember what I wrote. Or write something again. FFS.

I was going to blog about something tonight but I can’t for the life of me remember what. Probably something to do with the couple of drinks I had in the pub tonight after a long day in Edinburgh and not much food. Made me a bit woozy (also disclaimer for any typos). Got home and grilled 3 sausages for tea. That’s it, just 3 sausages and some tomato sauce. I am a responsible adult. I’m sure other people living alone know what I mean. Sometimes it’s a royal pain in the arse to just cook for yourself. So you end up making nutritionally questionable meals such as 3 sausages. I did follow it up after a bit with some seeds and nutty cereal shit. Much more nutritional value. So not all bad.

I got reminded this week of a phrase first said to me by one of my dear friends a couple of years ago. Whether he made it up or nicked it from someone else, I don’t really care. Just thought it summed me and my life up.

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I was reminded just how much I don’t want the nine-to-five. I hate the word average. But that’s maybe what I mean. I don’t want it to sound negative as there’s nothing wrong with it but it’s just not for me. We all know I tried it. And for a decent amount of time too. But I just couldn’t do it. OK, so yes, I guess now I do have a ‘normal’ life and a ‘normal’ job. Well, kind of. I work Monday to Friday but in different places each week. Doing different stuff, staying away from home. My life is busy, I know it is. But good busy, it’s how I like it. Doing loads of different stuff. Trying new things. Full of adventure, new stuff, excitement and fun. And yes, relaxing down time, every now and then. Ish. I love meeting new people, making new friends, being inspired and humbled by all those new people that all have a story. Stories that open my eyes up to the world. In the slightly-cringy words of Ronan Keating, life is a rollercoaster. Just the way I like it.

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I was also talking to a friend of mine who I first met in Hong Kong about the dreaded words ‘settling down’ and whether you had to or not. Well, obviously, it’s a personal choice, and it’s only wrong if you’re doing something you don’t want to. Settling down will mean different things to different people, but the main thing we agreed on is that you shouldn’t just do what society wants you to do, or what the ‘norm’ is if that’s not what you actually want to do. Follow your heart, be free, and don’t settle. On any account.

Deep down you’re likely to know what your passions are, what you want to do and how you want to live your life. Be brave to let that out, and say what it is you want to say. Show and tell the world the real you, and don’t give a shit about what anyone else says. Why is it any of their business? Life’s too short. If you want to eat sausages for tea, eat fucking sausages.

Meeting people.

One of the nice things about moving to a new place was that I didn’t know anyone. Yes, even for a social bastard like me, I love my own company, so it was kind of nice to move somewhere and have a bit of anonymity after a few months of being almost manically sociable back in Lincoln. It’s kind of like travelling again; rocking up in a new place not knowing where anything is, not knowing anyone and having to explore and find stuff out. OK, I knew one person here before I moved but that’s not quite the same. It’s exciting to start from scratch.

I know a lot of people wondered why I wanted to move somewhere where I don’t know anyone. And I know a lot of people would hate it. But for me it’s all part of the adventure.

So how do you meet people?

Maybe you’d meet people at work; a lot of my friends are people I’ve worked with over the last couple of years at the Police and the Uni. But I don’t work in Cheltenham, so that’s out. I have got mates with my job now, but they’re based all over so it’s not quite the same.

So you kind of just have to go out there and talk to people. Yeah, you know, make an effort. Be chatty. You also need to be prepared for people to think you’re a weirdo, or to not like you. Or to get freaked out at someone being so forward. But that’s OK; you’ve got to cast a few nets to catch a few fish. As we all know, I do like to chat and have no problem with inviting myself along to stuff or being the person to make arrangements.

I know a few more people now, although to be honest, I’ve not made much of a proper effort. I’ve had a lot of visitors since I moved <which has been GREAT, of course> but it’s also meant that I haven’t had much time to get out and about and do stuff, or meet new people.

There’s a couple of clubs I’ve found that I want to join (running and cycling) and I’ve signed up for BMF (British Military Fitness), but I’ve just not had the chance to get along to any sessions yet. Am hoping to next weekend, so I should meet more people there.

There’s a few people I ‘know’ from an internet forum and twitter that I’m going to meet up with soon, when everyone can make the same date. I’ve joined a few groups on meetup.com (great site) and went out for drinks with a group of women last week which was much fun. Twitter is great for getting to know people – I’ve met many people in real life that I’ve known from Twitter, both here and abroad when I was travelling.

I’ve accosted most of my neighbours at one point or another and was out with the girl from the flat next door on Friday night, and have been out a couple of times with the guy from number 3, and often borrow milk off him or go round for a cup of tea. A bit like with Karl back in Lincoln, although I don’t really know him well enough yet to know whether he’d stop me falling face first into cat food or come let me in my house in the early hours of the morning. Still appreciate that Karl. Each and every time :D. I also realised that the guy from number 3 looks a lot like Big Andy from the Electric Bar from all those moons ago. Probably subconsciously why I asked him out for a beer.

I also met a girl in a whisky shop where we swapped numbers, and have been out a couple of times with her and her other half, and some of her friends. I did wonder whether she initially thought I might have been asking her out on a date when I suggested we should go out and swap numbers, but hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, right? That’s what I mean about making the effort. It’s also how I ended up having beers with the guy from number 3. You just ask people. It’s actually quite simple really.

Although, there’s always the possible confusion of whether something is a date or not, especially if it involves the opposite sex. As most people know, I’m mostly oblivious to this, mainly due to 1) having been in a relationship for so long, I have no idea of any dating etiquette and 2) I have lots of male friends so it’s normal for me to go for beers with men and it not mean anything. Which, as we know in the past has led to a few interesting/awkward/hilarious encounters. There’s always a story.

Oh, and for all the people that keep saying I should go on internet dating, the answer is still the same: NO. Or tinder. Although, I’ve got another blog and might have to do another tinder social experiment – although we all know how the New Zealand tinder experience worked out (interesting), but it will purely be an experiment and not for me. Because you see, internet dating to me is actively looking for a relationship. Which I’m not. Not at all. Still. If something happens or occurs naturally, then that’s fine. But I’m not looking, and I don’t want to go man shopping. I don’t want to read what is essentially a personality CV and shortlist potential applicants like some kind of job application. Seems a bit clinical and shallow. And tinder, well, I quite liked the swiping, that was fun, but I didn’t like it when people starting messaging me. Which is kind of the whole point. So yeah, it’s not going to happen. Oh, and I know it suits/works for some people, and there’s loads of success stories, so please don’t think I’m dissing it for other people AT ALL. It’s just not for me.

I guess in a way it’s not actually that dissimilar to meeting up with people I’ve met online in one form or another (twitter etc.), but the fundamental difference is that I’m meeting up with people on a non-romantic level, no awkward dating scenario where you’re checking each other out to see if you are anything like your profile, or whether you’d see a future with that person (yes, some people DO do that on a first date apparently, how you can tell I don’t know) or whether you want to sleep with them. Obviously that still happens in some cases, but it’s not the obvious primary objective, and certainly not mine. We all know much of a commitment-phobe I am now, haha.

My friend Sam is doing pretty similar stuff to me (maybe not the tinder experiment, ha) as she’s just emigrated to Brisbane with her other half, but I think she’s making a much better job at it and getting involved in so many more things. My effort is a bit piss poor compared to hers really, haha. But I’m doing it at my own pace. I keep reminding myself that I live here now and have plenty of time to do everything. When I first moved here I felt like I should do ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW. I forgot that I wasn’t here for just a short while, think I was still in a travelling mindset where everything is temporary and I’d be moving on sometime soon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still struggling with thinking long term, and still can’t plan anything too far in advance, and still don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I can relax a little bit. Just living in the moment. Just like my tattoo tells me.

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Bob the Bike.

Let me introduce you to Bob, my new road bike. He’s going to get me from London to Paris in a couple of months. I luuurve him. <3

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I do a fair bit of running and exercise generally but if I’m going to ride that distance in that time I need to do some training and get the miles in my legs before May, I can’t just rely on sheer determination and stupidity this time (as much as I’d like to, and just spend my weekends sitting eating ice cream). I did a lot of riding last summer after I got back on my MTB but I’ve not done any for a while and I’ve never had a road bike so I need to get ON it. So, yesterday was the first opportunity I’ve had to get out on Bob since picking him up a couple of weeks ago. It was a beaut of a sunny day and I had a free afternoon so I had no excuse (and I wasn’t about to throw myself down my building stairs to create one).

I’ll start with reporting on the end result: BLOODY marvellous, it felt soooo good to be back out there on a bike and it was pretty frickin awesome to see Mr Sunshine for a day. I also finished with bruises, grazes and my legs felt like they were made from strawberry jelly. Oh and of course, the mildly bruised derrière (Bob is a mean lean cycling machine; not a lot of padding).

Two main reasons for this: 1) I forget I live in a hilly place now and 2) Bob has clippy pedals. I’ll expand….

Didn’t really have a route in mind – I just biked out of Cheltenham along Shurdington Road and thought I’d head out that way for a couple of hours. Didn’t realise until I looked at a map after I’d got back that I headed straight out to into the Cotswolds and ALL THE HILLS. 1716 feet (523m) of elevation to be precise. I’d planned for a nice gentle flat couple of hours out to get me back into it. Not 3 fuck off hills. However, as we know hills also equal amazing views and a sense of achievement so I felt pretty rad when I got to the top of each one. Probably a bit like how Rocky felt when he made it to the top of the steps. Yeah, just like that. Apart from I didn’t run up and jump around, I wobbled around on Bob while trying slow down and upclip my feet (more on the clippy pedals later) at the same time, silently cheering each time I managed to not end up in a mangled heap on the floor (which, incidentally, I managed a higher ratio of – again, another silent cheer).

Riding up the hills through woods in the sunshine with beautiful, green, hilly countryside views reminded me so much of riding around in Tasmania last year. I had such an amazing adventure doing that (read about it here if you want), it really made me smile so much to be reminded of it. The pain of the hills but the rewards at the top, the sense of freedom and time; like there is no where else to be, and nothing to do or think about apart from what you’re doing right there and then. I still don’t quite understand the gears on Bob, so the hills were pretty hard work, but I think that was also just my legs not being used to them, rather than that I couldn’t find a lower (higher?) gear. I’ve got no idea whether there are any hills on the London to Paris route, but I guess that riding up hills during a bit of training will all help. Can’t hurt anyhow. Well, actually, it will – THIGH BURN – but you know what I mean.   Of course, what goes up must come down. I cycled UP three hills on my made up route, but only DOWN one. This felt quite unfair, until I realised the way down was a 1:6 (translation: fucking steep – put it this way, I wouldn’t want to bike UP it). So, MUCH fun, MUCH speed and a few hairy moments. Got to try Bob’s brakes out. Conclusion: could be better (hence the few hair raising moments).

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And that leads me onto the clippy pedals. I bought Bob from a nice chap in Bromsgrove who had decided he preferred MTB to road bikes and so couldn’t get on with Bob. Poor Bob, discarded after just a few miles, unwanted. Lucky I came along and managed rescue Bob and his clippy pedals and nice chap’s shoes; shoes that are too big for me (I haven’t got man feet). I haven’t managed to get any of my own yet so decided they would do for the first couple of rides out. So, imagine this; first time on a bike for a while, first time on a bike with clippy pedals in shoes that are too big, and first time on a bike with weird gears that are also the brakes. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Ha.

I spent a fair while trying to figure out how the clippy pedals worked. Leant Bob up against the wall, wiggling my feet around. Managed to clip in but could I clip out? Big fat NO. Even leaving the shoe clipped in and me sat on the ground wiggling it around with my hands I couldn’t do it. Neighbour Jill found it quite amusing, but was no help. Of course, I resorted to doing what I should have done in the first place: consulted the internet. “OK Google, unclipping cleats”. (Aside: bloody love OK Google. Talk to me.) Thank you, cheery American man on YouTube who shows how to unclip from pedals in one easy step. Tried it while leant against the wall. Just about got it, OK, I nearly fell into the flower bed, but panic meant my foot came unclipped like magic before I toppled over. Hurrah! I just figured I’d get used to it. One day.

So, I actually did alright. To start with. I’m near the edge of town so not many junctions until I got out on the open road, and the traffic light gods were smiling on me that day. In fact, although a bit wobbly, I managed to unclip each time I stopped the few times I stopped to take some pictures, admire the view or silently cheer the fact I got to the top of a hill without dying. OK, some of them were using the new panic-unclipping technique, but I didn’t end up on the floor. Until a junction about 2 miles away from home on the way back. Ironically, I’d already unclipped one side (I was a pro by now) but I ended up toppling the other way as I over balanced. As any fall as an adult, it hurt (unless drunk, those falls never hurt). And it’s also surprising. Ever notice that, falling over as an adult? One minute you’re upright, one minute you’re on the floor wondering what the hell happened in a mild state of shock. I landed on my elbow and it’s all grazed. Bob landed on top of me, giving me a massive bruise and lump on the side of my knee. Very giving. Obviously, I jumped back up, congratulating myself for getting a fall over and done with (it was bound to happen, I daresay there will be more to come too) as well as entertaining the stream of motorists driving by (I would have laughed). I like to think I fell and splattered on the ground in style.

Decided to call it a day after nearly 19 miles (I’d done a nice round trip) as I’d been out for just under a couple of hours which is what I planned for a nice gentle intro ride. Now, I know I had hills in that ride, but that’s not that fast. OK, I wasn’t really pushing myself but still. It’s making me realise just how far and how fast I will have to bike in May. If I didn’t go any faster that I did yesterday, I’d have to bike continuously for about 20 hours to cover the distance. So, the 4 hours on the ferry takes that to 24 hours. I’d just do it. But no time to stop, no time to eat, no time to go for a piss. Not realistic.

Eeeep.

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Keep smiling. It’ll be alreet.

Challenge number 1.

London to Paris in 24 hours. On a bike. Yep, that’s what I’ve signed up for in May. What’s that all about then, I hear you cry. Erm, well, I’m not actually too sure myself. It sounded like fun so I signed up. I’ll deal with the details later. And yes, this is actually true, I don’t know too much right now. I know it’s about 320km, I will get about 4 hours sleep if I’m lucky and I have to have a road bike, but that’s about it. My ex-husband always used to say I was a bit of an idealist and a bit of a dreamer, I guess he was kind of right. But, I know it will all be OK. I know I’ll be able to do it, because I’ll give it my bloody best shot. I figure I managed to cycle 600km around Tasmania without any training, minimal preparation and a heavy backpack and tent; so this should be a bit of a doddle (ha!). I didn’t have a road bike until last weekend, and haven’t had chance to get out and about on it yet but I will be starting a bit of training soon. I’ve still got a few months until May, right? It might take me that long to get used to the weird shoe-pedal clip things that came with my bike.

It’s the first thing I’ve signed up for this year so far. There’s other stuff, but that’s all probably a bit later. This just sounded like fun. Loads of fun. Something a bit different, a bit of a challenge and a way to see a bit of France. Not seen much of it yet so cycling through some of it should mean I get a good look. Anyone who’s done any cycle touring will know that it’s one of the absolute best ways to travel and see a country. There’s 200 places in the sportive so I’ll also get to meet some new people and hopefully have a laugh while doing it. Plus it’s May, it should be decent weather. Might get a tan. Also will get outside; which, as I hate sitting inside on the sofa for too long, will be wonderful. I get fidgety, as people who have ever tried to watch a film with me can testify.

And now I’ve got a road bike, I could possibly look at doing some triathalons later in the year. Just need to have a go at open water swimming first to see how I feel about it. Not really done much of that, barring the lake swim in The Wolf Run, but not sure that counts. We’ll see.

This year, now I’m back in the UK and in one place for a bit, is all about seeing what I can do. Trying a few challenges and carrying on saying yes to stuff. Getting back to being fit and seeing just how far I can push myself. Why? Why not? Life is for living, and it’s how I want to live it. This kind of stuff, this kind of mini adventure, is what puts a smile on my face and makes my heart happy. I don’t want to stand on the sideline of life.

If anyone fancies it, join in here: http://www.londontoparissportive.com/.

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Return of the Paps.

At least for a little bit. My last post on here was back in September and I thought it was probably my last one, at least for a while. I had a lot going on and was just settling back into some kind of routine and didn’t feel like living my life out online so openly.

Now it’s February, so nearly 6 months on, and I have a new kind of normality. I have finally moved to Cheltenham and into my own place again and am starting to settle down (whatever that means, I’m still all over the place and still definitely in no way wanting the average-cut-your-front-lawn-on-a-Sunday type of life). And I miss writing. Although I’m not quite sure what to write about now. I’m not planning my travels, and I’m not travelling any more. I suppose I can just write about my life, although I’m not sure how interesting that is.

Want a brief update on what’s happened between September and now? Not a lot and lots all at once. Lots of running and biking, a half marathon (and a PB), a (likely) broken toe that still hurts now, a Halloween that ended by 10pm due to too many cocktails, a fling that imploded badly, climbed the highest mountains in England and Wales, a long term fling that turned out not to be a fling but actually was a complicated yoyo fling only just figured out, another sub 50 10K, a stroll round Bath, a trip to Stonehenge, a whirlwind tour of London, reunions with old friends, flat hunting, many nights out (mostly involving shots), family Christmas, a house move, making new friends, hill running, bed buying, more nights out, drunken burger eating, dates-that-weren’t-really-dates with a neighbour, drunken work night out with new work mates, mud running, head torch running, wood scrambling, fitness challenges entered, hangouts with mates, lots of visitors and some plans made for this year.

Now, about that last one. I’ve not got too many plans though, I’m still a bit twitchy about stuff like that. You know, planning ahead and committing to stuff. Being the commitment-phobe I am, anything that’s more than a few weeks ahead seems a LONG time away and I always think things can change. I have to keep reminding myself that I live somewhere now and I know I’m here for at least the next 4 months (if not longer, I really can’t be arsed to move again, and have no reason to) so I can just take it a bit easy. I’m not travelling any more so don’t have to do all the things I want in a short space of time because I’ll be moving on. I’ve enjoyed the relative anonymity and solitude of not knowing anyone. Walking down the street and knowing that I won’t bump into anyone I know. I know some people would find this lonely, but I was so ready for it. So I’ve taken these first couple of months fairly easy and have just been enjoying having my own space again. I’m away a bit with work which I’m loving, so when I do get home I’ve relished the downtime. Although, OK, I know, my downtime maybe isn’t quite the same as everyone else’s. So yeah, I’ve managed to explore loads of Cheltenham, go out for a few bevvies a fair bit, make friends without even trying, find myself on a couple of dates even though I said I wouldn’t, run up plenty of hills and through lots of mud and try out some fitness places. I now know where loads of places are, can give people a bit of a guided tour, drive around without a sat nav and start to recognise different paths on the top of Leckhampton Hill. I’m ‘settling’ in, if you will.

This was all part of the adventure. This is what I meant by moving to Cheltenham being an adventure. Someone back in Lincs questioned how I could describe it as that compared to all the things I’d done in my year away, but it’s all about adventure being a state of mind. I moved to a new place where everything was new. I only knew one person so I’d have to get out there and make new friends. I didn’t know where anything was so I’d have to find out. It’s all new, all exciting and all a bit of a challenge. Some people would hate it, but I love it.

So, plans for this year? Glastonbury, Bencassim, cycling London to Paris in 24 hrs, a couple of half marathons, a possible 24 hour endurance run, maybe a triathalon, walking in the Brecon Beacons, surfing in Cornwall and a bit of camping. A new blog, a couple of projects, visiting friends, a bit of volunteering, learn how to play the piano. Finally get some pictures framed, finally stop eating sweet stuff, start yoga, go to spin regularly, swim more, buy more hats, make someone laugh, be a sports marshal, run at Cheltenham parkrun and join some running and cycling clubs.

I think that’s enough to be thinking about. Whether they will all pan out, and how, remains to be seen. But of course, that’s the adventure. Hello 2015.

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Jobs, houses and all that jazz.

I think this might be the last post I write on this blog. I started it back in January 2013 after my year in photos finished at the end of 2012. I missed having somewhere to write things down and share my photos. And then shortly after I started it, I decided to go travelling and then figured it was the ideal place to write about my travels, both for me and people at home following me around the world. And it served it’s purpose. But now, now I’m not sure what purpose it has. I’m not sure I feel the need to share things in the same way. Travel’s changed me, I’ve already said that. And I think one of the things that’s changed is that I don’t feel the need to (or don’t want to) live my life so openly any more. Or maybe just not right now. If you want to know what’s going on with me, you can always ask. You can always get in touch with me. You can meet up with me and I’ll tell you what’s new. I’ve spent quite a bit of time catching up with lots of different people over the last few months since I’ve been back (it’s been over 4 months now, yep, can you believe it?). And I’ve loved it. Meeting up with all of you to speak in person. To do stuff in person. So I’d like to carry on with that thank you very much. And if you don’t, well, I guess you’re not that bothered about what I’m up to, which is also always perfectly groovy.

But, right now, I’ll write one last blog post. After my last slightly rambly post, I thought it might be good to do an update. There’s lots of you that were waiting to see what kind of job I would get, or what kind of life I’d settle back into. I’m pleased to report I feel a bit less fluffy and indecisive now. Things are falling into place day by day and it’s all a bit clearer.

So, I’ve been employed for nearly two months now. Yes, two months. Blink and you’d miss it. When I went travelling I said I wanted to do something different. Not in an office, or not in front of a computer screen. I didn’t know what, and had hoped I would figure it out by the time I got back. I didn’t. I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do, although, I have a better idea. And I do kind of know what I want to do in about 10 years time, just not right now. And the couple of things I do want to do, I don’t have the experience for. Even the entry level jobs, because I tried. Quite a few times, with quite a few companies. So, I need to get that experience, which I aim to do over the next year or so through volunteering in a few different forms.

But that doesn’t help me right now.

Right now, I had to get a job. To get some cash, but also to do something. To get my brain working again, and to give me some kind of purpose. Because you see, as much as it sounds wonderful to now have to work, it’s not all that. Especially without much cash. Because you can’t do that much. And all your mates are at work. I felt a bit purposeless, and like I wasn’t really contributing to anything or anyone. To live here, in my world, there isn’t an option of ‘not getting a job’. I can’t really live without one. So, I figured that if I couldn’t get into the area that I wanted to, because I didn’t have that experience, I’d get a job and work on the experience bit. So, what job to get? I could have just gone and got any old job, but I decided to look along the same kind of lines as what I did before. Yes, it went against what I had been thinking before. But, I have to also be realistic. I need cash, and what I used to do pays a decent wage. I’m on my own, so need to be able to support myself with everything. For that, I need to be earning a fair amount. And, it’s maybe not forever, it’s part of a plan and I’m always in control of what I do. Even if I am a bit of a corporate slave again. That’s cool, I’m OK with that right now.

You see, no matter what you do in life, you’ve always got the power to change it whenever you want. So, if I want to change jobs, then I can change it. If I’m unhappy, then I’ll change it. You don’t have to get stuck in a job and feel there’s no alternative. There’s always an alternative. Or a future plan. You’re in charge.

But, I have chosen a bit of a different job. I’ve chosen a good compromise. I’m now a HR consultant for a computer software company. It’s an office job but not based in one office. It’s in front of a computer screen, but a different one every day. I’m not a project manager any more, I’m a resource that reports to a project manager. I’m back to my ‘home’ of HR systems work. I’ll be travelling around the country. It fits in so many ways with where I am right now. Keeps my itchy feet in check with a bit of travel in the UK. OK, so it’s not the same kind of travel, but it gets me out and about to explore places and make the most of it. Releases me from the office politics and never ending issues management that is the life of a PM. And gives me a bit of stability and cash to be able to start working towards whatever I want to do next. And in the meantime, gives me something new to get my teeth stuck into and enjoy the next adventure of finding somewhere to live again and building my new life.

Because that’s the next bit. I’ve got (and will hopefully keep!) the job, so next is somewhere to live. Basic stuff, but basic stuff is exciting when you’ve not had it for a while. It’s been over 18 months since I lived in my own house. And boy do I miss it. Right now I’m staying with my parents, which I never thought I’d be doing, let alone for this long (they’re probably thinking exactly the same thing). But it’s not too bad, because it’s not indefinite, I know I’ll be moving sometime soon, and can’t wait (no offence Mum/Dad, but you know what I mean).

I’m pretty much decided that I’m not going to settle back in Lincoln (To be fair, I’d already decided that before I got back, and I’ve not changed my mind), the question is just when I go. I haven’t moved yet as I’m using my first few pay packets to pay for the car I bought, and right now I’m just pondering whether to move before or after Christmas. The sensible part of me says move after Christmas and use the pay packets in between to just build up the pot a bit again. But if I do that, ideally I’d want to stay in or nearer to Lincoln for the next few months, to be closer to a bit of action and easier to get about if I’m travelling around. So, if anyone has a spare bedroom that they have going for reasonable rates I’d be interested ;)

You’re probably wondering where I’m going? The good thing about my new job is that because it is based all over the UK I’m fairly free to live where I want (within reason). Another reason I went for it. But when there’s that much choice, where do you go? Tricky one really. Well, it was pretty easy to know to head South, as I seem to have more friends and people I know down there than up North. So, that made it a bit easier. London is just too ridiculously expensive and I really, really want to live alone again. And I also realised that I didn’t really fancy living in a massive city. I absolutely love Lincoln, it’s just the right size and love the different areas and all the history stuff. It’s pretty. So somewhere a bit like that, just somewhere else.

So I’ve decided on Cheltenham. Why? Well, why not? I’ve been a couple of times, know someone there and it seems a nice place. Pretty, surrounded by the Cotswolds and hills, about the same size population as Lincoln, nice bars, restaurants and parks. Plenty to do, it has crossfit and a few running clubs. I don’t need much more really.

Very exciting, and I swing between being impatient and wanting to get on with it and being lazy and not being bothered because it means having to do stuff. At the minute, I’m enjoying what I’m doing, getting stuck into a new job without any other stuff to think about. But I also know I want to crack on and get started, as I still feel in limbo, like I don’t belong anywhere and like I can’t get involved in anything because things will all change in a few months. Either way, I’d like to have made some decisions in the next few weeks so I know what I’m doing, I’ve been floating around for a bit too long I think.

And in the meantime I’ve been upping the running and cycling. It’s been wonderful. Enjoying the countryside and feeling like me again. I’m running Nottingham half marathon in a couple of weeks and really looking forward to it. Enjoying those long runs with nothing but fresh air and Spotify. Good for the soul, although I have to say (as much as I hate running up them) it would be nice if there were a few hills. That’s what Cheltenham’s for though, right? And if you’ve never been there, then there’s the perfect excuse to come visit me. Not that you need one, right?

So there you have it. From deciding to go travelling to getting back into ‘normal’ life and everything in between, that’s my life over the last 18 months. It’s been an absolute blast, and I only know that whatever happens next will be even better. What will happen, I’ve got no idea. That’s the fun part.

And don’t forget, your life is YOUR life. Live it how you want to. If you’re not happy, then change it. If you want to do something, do it. It really is that simple, even if you think it’s not. There are always excuses, reasons or barriers to doing something, but they’re not really solid. Nothing is impossible. So you have a mortgage and a job and can’t go travelling? Bollocks. I had both and I did it. And have come back to a better/different job and my mortgage is still getting paid. Scared of doing something? Doing it and getting out of your comfort zone will only develop you in ways you might not even realise. There’s no success or failure, just different ways of dealing with things. That’s the important thing – not the outcome, but how you deal with it. I’m actually only just realising the things I’ve learnt while I’ve been away and how it’s changed me. In the little every day things I do or the situations I face. And do you know what? There’s been so many things, I can’t keep up. Sticking with the familiar may be great. it might be easy, but damn me I wouldn’t be the person I am now without the things I’ve done over the last year. And for that, I wouldn’t trade all the tea in China. I can’t put a price on it. For me, I’m just realising it’s been probably the single most important thing I’ve done in my life. Travelling isn’t for everyone, but this isn’t really about travelling, it’s about living your dreams, whatever they are. It’s about taking chances and risks and seeing what happens. It’s about challenging yourself and living for the moment. It’s about cherishing life and exploring and making the most of it. It’s about finding out who you are and what you’re made of. It’s about life beyond boundaries. Life outside those four walls.

So what are you waiting for? Every day is an adventure. Go explore.

Thanks for following. Adios.