On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at.

(Standard English: On Ilkley Moor without a hat)

Apparently, everyone knows of this popular Yorkshire folk song, because no end of people have said this to me over the last week or so when I mentioned I was off to Ilkley. I’ve never heard of it in my life, and so could only respond with a confused look on my face. I only know of Ilkley from going loads when I was younger because my brother used to play there in a tennis tournament every year. Oh, and I knew there was a place called Ilkley Moor, which had a few rocks on it.

So, I went to Ilkley this weekend for a little break away, I had some hotel vouchers to use up before I go and a willing victim playmate to come along so we headed off on Friday for a bit of fun in the countryside.

Ilkley is preeeeetty. It has blossom trees, and hills, and green stuff, and a river, and little shops, and coffee places, and bars and restaurants to stuff your face with Bloody.Good.Food. Had an awesome meal at Le Bistrot Pierre on Friday night and then another awesome meal at Vietnamese restaurant Bistro Saigon on Saturday night. Add in the hotel breakfasts, tea and cake and then a bloody good 3 course Sunday lunch back at the Tower when we got back to Lincoln and I’d say we’ve eaten pretty well this weekend.

Ilkley was fun. We did a fair amount of walking, lots of eating (see above), some relaxing and a bit of drinking. And I took a few pictures (see below). Decided to go for a walk up Ilkley Moor on Saturday and morning and got SOAKED. Yep, it rained. A Lot. I had a hood, I wasn’t too bad. The Marine didn’t. He got a bit (a lot) wet. We dried off a bit in the hotel and tried again after a while, but went down by the river this time rather than up onto the moor. The Marine skimmed stones which I was impressed to find out he was pretty good at. I took pictures. A man in a wetsuit swam in shallow water. Male ducks outnumbered females ones by a high ratio. A child threw a drinks bottle in the water and got told off. All in all an interesting walk. In the afternoon we went up on the moor again, and managed to find a little secluded spot in the sun away from the wind and had a little lay down, watching the clouds. That little section of time was just ace, like the world had stopped for a bit.

I hadn’t taken my running stuff because I was still getting over a cold and didn’t feel great. So naturally I saw lots of runners. Tormenting me. I’m sure they KNEW. But, as The Marine himself pointed out if I had have taken my stuff he would have beasted me up the hills up the moor. Sadist. So, probably for the best.

The funniest and most bemusing moment was probably when an old woman walked past us in the street and shouted “stop!”. Shortly followed by “…looking so..[pause]..intelligent. And..[pause]..fit.” Erm, right, okay. Thank you?!

Nicest moment was getting to the hotel and having a bit of post. I’ve never had post at a hotel before. I opened it and it was a card from the girl in the central reservations team who made my booking. I’d happened to just be chatting with her while sorting out the booking on the phone (as I tend to, I’m quite chatty) about the weekend, weather and my upcoming travels, and so the card wished me a lovely sunny weekend and hoping that I have an amazing trip around the world. I’m pretty sure this isn’t standard practice so it was such a nice surprise. I decided to pass the good feeling onto someone else on the way home, and so paid for the car behind at Dunham Toll Bridge. Not a lot, but a little gesture to be nice. A random act of kindness. Made me feel good. Maybe the people in the car behind passed something on too that day.

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Memory lane.

I’ve been having a little trip down memory lane this week. Firstly when glass milk bottles turned up at work. I’ve not seen these for YEARS. I didn’t know they still existed; thought they’d been replaced by the evil (but recyclable) plastic. They reminded me of my nan because she used to get milk delivered to her house in bottles. My dad built her a little box at the bottom of her driveway next to the gate where the milkman used to leave the bottles and the bill, and in turn she’d leave the empty bottles and the money. It went on for years. I remember the box was blue. It might still even be there; I must check. The thought of it makes me smile 🙂

Then I met my friend Alex at lunch on Friday. We used to work together over 10 years ago when we were both youngsters fresh out of school starting real life. We had a lot of fun. We worked bloody hard too though, and gave a lot of time, effort and dedication. Plenty of hours overtime on what at times was very repetitive, tedious work. We both agreed though, that although very hard work and strict working conditions, it’s shaped our work ethic in future years.

It’s great to still be mates and keeping in touch, and it’s great to see just how bloody well Al is doing now, he’s still working chuffing hard and he deserves every bit of success and good stuff going.

Warning.

A couple of nights interrupted sleep + sugar high (and subsequent crash) + visit to see someone in hospital + the feeling that being myself just isn’t enough + a long to do list + being cold = having to have a good old cry in the Arboretum and a feel-sorry-for-myself day.

I’m off to buy some chocolate.

Normal service resumes tomorrow.

The Boston Marathon.

I’ve been in two minds about whether to post about the explosions at the Boston Marathon yesterday. There’s been endless news coverage, and lots and lots of tweets on Twitter. Alex and I were watching events unfold on the TV last night. It was just horrific. I had to stop watching in the end. My heart goes out to the victims and their families and everyone there. As a runner, it feels a bit too close to home. At an event like the ones I go to. With people like me. OK, so I’m not a running blogger, or part of a running club, but I am a runner. I tweet with other runners. I chat to other runners. I post about running. I’ve helped people get into running. I’m part of the running community. A community that was hit hard by yesterday’s events. A community in shock.

But as we have [sadly] seen many times in the last few years, the human spirit will not be broken. These attacks will not change people’s behaviour; we are defiant. Will not let events like this stop things from happening; for if that were to happen then they have won. Immediately after the explosion, people ran towards the blast to help others, disregarding their own safety and the possibility of more explosions. Runners have been brought together and will not stop running. Runners at the London Marathon this weekend have pledged to run over the line with their hands over their hearts as a tribute. Millions of tweets of support, sympathy have been posted. Kindness from strangers. It just shows that the world is still full of good.

I will never be able to comprehend what would make anyone want to do that. But I guess that’s the point. Most people can’t. And that’s what makes the world still full of good.

 

How cool are these.

My new running trainers. They’re actually racing trainers, although I didn’t buy them for any races. They’re lighter than the ‘normal’ version of these (it came down to those two) so will help when I’m lugging my backpack around but again I didn’t buy them because of that. I bought them because they were the ones that felt the best. Pure and simple.

The fact that they are purple and look fucking ace is a bit of a bonus 😀

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Paperwork and stuff.

There’s so much to do to go away for a year. Loads of paperwork. Shizzle to sort out. Things to apply for. Stuff to organise. Spreadsheets to keep.

I’ve had a constant to do list since January that just keeps getting added to. Sure, stuff gets ticked off but more stuff gets put on it. I think I’m getting there though. A lot of the big stuff is done, now just little bits to sort out. Loose ends to tie up. Stuff that can’t be done until just before I go.

It’s surprising how much there is to think about. What if I’d decided to go earlier than I am? How would I have got it all done? Would I have got it all done? Probably I guess. What needs to be done gets done, but it would have been bloody stressful and left me with no time at all.

Maybe you’re thinking what kind of stuff? Surely there’s not that much to think about? Pack up stuff, sort out passport, book flights and go, that’s about it right? Erm, not quite.

I haven’t got it all written down. I can’t list everything here. But trust me, there’s a lot. Especially when life has to go on as well. And you move house, go abroad twice, your brother gets married, you go to London for the weekend twice, you’re a godparent, you enter some running races, you…, well, you get the picture.

Just a few of the things I’ve been doing over the last couple of months; deciding my route, booking flights, sorting out the internship, getting a CRB check, figuring out what stuff I need to buy and take with me, figuring out how to manage my money when out there, finding out what visa’s I need and when, and then applying. Vaccinations, moving out of my house, selling my car, deciding what things to keep and sorting them for storage, selling what stuff I don’t need, changing my address to a temporary one, figuring out the tax implications and what to do for my self assessment. Organising leaving do’s, organising paperwork to leave here while I’m away, sorting all my travel documents on line, booking accommodation and airport pickups for the first few places I’m staying in, setting up Skype for the parentals, moving money about to make sure it’s in the right place, setting up accounts to be able to book trains on line, and researching different countries for a vague idea of where to go. Sorting out my rented house and getting it all in order while I’m away, setting up a new laptop and all my photos and files, cancelling subscriptions and contracts, deciding how to keep in touch while away, sorting out my mortgage and trying to work out a realistic travel budget.

There’s more. Plenty more. But I can’t remember it all. I’m just doing what I can, one day at a time, with the odd day off thinking about it here and there. I have to do that, otherwise my brain would be shot. Well, more than it already is. But I’m getting to the point now where I’m starting to want to just go. Stop all the planning and sorting out and just go.

Not long to wait.

Lincoln 10K – Done.

Well we did it! Thank you to everyone that sponsored Team ICT for the Lincoln 10K, raising much needed cash for local charity St Barnabas Hospice. We had a great day, the sun shone and we all got round in one piece (just), with some great times to boot.

My legs are pretty sore now after doing two 10K’s in two days but they held out to give me a time of 50:21 which I’m pretty darn chuffed with. Michael’s knee is complaining a little bit, Becky’s legs are a bit twingy and one of Matt’s toenails decided to try and break free. He also tweeted about having to cut open some blood blisters last night. Oh, the glamour of running!

Becky made it round in just over an hour which is a great time, especially as she was only roped into taking part a month ago! Michael and Matt crossed the line together with a time of 46:04, which is a bloody brilliant time, especially for Mike as it’s his first 10K, and first race. He’s set the bar well and has got the race bug – now to beat that time at the Woodhall Spa 10K at the beginning of June eh Mike? 😉

All those training sessions over the winter months clearly paid off for us, and the plan is for the ICT URC (Unoffical Running Club) to continue long after the 10K and long after I have left the Uni too. It’s been great helping people get into running and sharing my passion for it. I hope the guys carry it on and go on to do more races and great running things.

It’s not too late to donate, our fundraising page will be open for a while longer yet at http://www.justgiving.com/UoL-ICT. Or, you can text “ULIT50 £5” to 70070 to donate £5.

Thank you 🙂

SWP-13-0135_22Photo by Stuart Wilde Photography 

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Tomboy.

When I was little I was a right tomboy. I had short hair, never wanted to wear skirts or dresses and wanted to be a boy. You’d find me doing everything my brother and his mates did. Normally stuff that involved being outside, getting dirty, running around, on my bike, making stuff, climbing things, exploring. You name it, we probably did it.

I’ve not really changed. Ok, so my hair is longer. And I wear heels sometimes. And I don’t want to be a boy any more. And I do love getting dressed up in a frock every now and then. But I’m not into the WAG look. You won’t find me in a tiny dress, huge heels and no coat on a Friday or Saturday night. Not my style. I don’t really like clothes shopping and I can’t be arsed with spending hours in the bathroom getting ready. I don’t wear loads of make up and I’m not into typical girl stuff. I guess I’m not really your typical girl.

I still love getting dirty, being outside, running around, climbing things. Like today’s race; The Wolf Run. 10K muddy obstacle race. It’s the 3rd one I’ve done, and by far it was the muddiest one yet. I also picked up the most injuries – covered in bruises, scratches, grazes and lumps. To some people this would probably sound horrific and they would wonder why the hell I’d choose to spend my Saturday wading through mud, running up hills, falling over, injuring myself, getting cold and wet all in the name of fun. To me I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday. After all, everyone’s different.

So I suppose you’d probably still call me a tomboy. And that’s just fine by me.

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Nessun Dorma.

I listened to Nessun Dorma this afternoon. It appeared on a friend’s playlist on Spotify and I’d not heard it for a while so decided to play it. I don’t usually listen to classical music (find it a bit boring) and really only know of Nessun Dorma from a drunken night on a training course from years ago. As I was listening it made me remember that training course. It wasn’t your usual training course. It was a Research Skills course for people working for Police Forces. Sounds innocent enough. A two week course held at a MOD camp in Essex. Our accommodation was old married quarter houses for all of us, split into a few houses for ladies and gents.

It basically ended up a two week drinking and partying binge. One day the trainer finished the day really early because we were all so hungover. I’m sure some stuff got learnt. It was one of the best courses I went on, but not really for the right reasons. Some of the things that I [can] remember about it:

  • The pool car I was given had a leak and so the footwells were about 2 inches deep in water. Not pleasant when spending 3 hours driving down to Essex and I spent quite a lot of time using a paper cup bailing the water out during the week (as it pretty much rained the whole time), much to other people’s amusement.
  • Very cheap drinks in the on-site bar.
  • The long walk to the canteen where we had all our meals. The food was OK, but a lot of people went to the local supermarket to avoid the long walk. Lazy arses.
  • The party we threw in one of the houses where we drank a shed load of alcohol, played charades and the trainer sung Nessun Dorma at the top of his lungs at about 3am in the morning (it was the day after this that he ended the day early because we were all so battered, him included).
  • That because of this party they stopped people staying in the houses and put them in single rooms on future courses.
  • Hanging out my bedroom window to smoke (shows how long ago it was now).
  • The affair that started between a [married] guy and a woman (it actually turned into a proper relationship and lasted a few years).
  • The guy who got a bit obsessed with one of the girls on the course.
  • Having to do ‘homework’ with dice which took aaaages.
  • Coming home to find the ex had decorated the bathroom while I’d been away. Bonus.
  • Learning to live with strangers for two weeks.
  • Making lots of new friends and keeping in touch with at least 2 people for a good couple of years afterwards.

I’m sure there was more but it was so long ago now I can’t remember everything. Suffice to say, I had a ball.

When I was 16 I…

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When I was 16 I knew everything. When I was 18 I knew that the 16 year old me had been deluded and now I knew it all. At 21 I realised I was just getting a handle on life and at 30 I knew I would never really know it it all.

And I don’t. I don’t know it all and I never will. But I’ll keep learning and finding out. That’s what makes life so interesting.