Adios England.

So I’m sat in Heathrow departure lounge, eating a ham and cheese baguette ready to jet off on an overnight flight to Johannesburg. The time has come. Shit. It’s real now. Ha, no going back.

I’m all on my own. I’ve spent the day with the parentals in London and said bye to them a while ago. That goodbye was ok; mainly because I didn’t look at them, gave them a quick hug, promised to keep myself safe and ran out the door. Literally.

I’m a bit weary now; I’ve had such a busy week doing all the last minute stuff, being in millions of different places and getting a leetle bit drunk. I’m ready to get on that plane and sleep. Sweet sleep.

I’ve had so many messages today, it’s been a bit overwhelming. Thank you to everyone who’s been in touch, I will miss you all lots and lots. I promise to take care, blog loads and take lots of photos.

My mum said on the way down she’s most worried about me being stalked by pygmys with poision darts in the jungle. I’m not quite sure where she thinks I’m going or what I’ll be up to. I told her I’ll watch out for them.

Please keep in touch while I’m away. There’s loads of different ways:
Email
Facebook
Twitter
This blog
Whatsapp
Viber
Google Hangouts

Etc.

I’m starting my travel photo of the day tomorrow when I get to Joburg. And so it starts.

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Farewells.

Gah I’m a bit behind on my blogging this weekend. It’s been a bit busy. So time for me to cram a few things into one blog post.

It’s been a weekend of farewells.

On Saturday I saw Alex for the last time; he was moving out of the flat and down to London on Sunday. I know he’s been looking forward to it for a while. He’s so excited to be starting his new adventure. I was sad to say goodbye, he’s been a great friend to me over the last 18 months or so. Ever since he came to my house and cooked me tea when I had just moved to Lincoln and he was off work with gammy eyes. We got drunk on red wine. It was the start of it all. A brill friendship. Which was made up of West End tea visits, rooms for the night/week(s)/month(s), sushi, champagne, food, cake, red wine, sex stories, hangovers, fish and chips and secrets. I’m not sure whether you read this blog Alex, but if you do, don’t forget: bets are ON. I give it a week. 😉

I said goodbye to The Marine on Sunday, we spent a last sunny weekend together. He didn’t make me run up any hills this time though. In fact, we’ve not been running together for AGES. Probably a good job, he’s about a million times fitter than I am. It’s been a happy few months and we’ve had a couple of most merry weekends away. It’s been fun; but we always knew this was happening. I don’t think he reads this blog either, but if you do, I’ll miss my visits to the crack den and looking at the sky. Thank you for my picnic 🙂 Xx

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I also spent bit of time with the family. Sunday I had the most awesome Sunday lunch cooked by my sister-in-law. She does the BEST Sunday lunches. I’d said a couple of weeks ago that I didn’t want to go out with the family, I wanted to spend it at home (well, their house) because that’s what I said I’ll miss. And I’ll certainly miss Tanya’s cooking. And baking. Because she made me my own cake too. They named it the Crap Cupboard Cake; due to me raiding their Crap Cupboard every time I visit. So I had a cake topped with all kinds of different chocolate and biscuits. YUM.

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We sat outside and ate, drank champagne and chatted. My ace, quirky, funny little family. It’s not the last time I’ll see all of them but it was nice to have a little ‘official’ farewell lunch. I know Tanya reads this blog so, THANK YOU. You know I will miss you, Matt and your cooking and I hope you know how appreciative I am of everything you and Matt are doing for me, both now and while I’m away. I’ll miss being the wayward child for a year 😉

Last night I walked round the corner to see my lovely, lovely friend Laura for the last time. My best friend. Friend I’ve known since I was 11 and we started QEGS. She’s been there for me so much over the last 18 months (remember the rush visit to Martin you had to make when the proverbial hit the fan? So grateful) and our friendship has just got stronger since then. I took a bottle of champagne with me, she had a bottle of Asti in the fridge. We polished both of them off. This did not lead to an easy goodbye. She cried. I cried.

I think you read my blog Laura. Maybe just sporadically. So if you’re reading, thank you for being such a top mate, and I’m so sorry I’ll not be there in person in September. But you know I’ll be there in spirit. And I’m sorry I won’t be there for your hen do, but I’ve no doubt the girls will do you proud. And if I was there, I’d probably make you drink tequila. So it’s maybe for the best. Just so you know, I’ve not opened the card yet. I’m not sure I’m ready at the moment.

It’s strange saying goodbye. I’ve never really gone anywhere for this length of time. Only just longer holidays. But this trip is also different. There is a possibility I won’t come back. It’s not just a long holiday and I’ll come back and live the same life. I want to do something different. Live a bit of a different life. And I know that I WILL do something different, as long as I still feel the same about life during my travels. Because I’m the only person to be able to do something about it and I’m not waiting for something to just happen. I just don’t know what or where it will be yet.

I guess it’s like saying goodbye to my old life. Which, I have done once before, in November 2011. But, the people were still around. This time, I’m on my own. But, I know I can do it. I’ll be alreet.

Work? What work?

It has been a busy weekendings so far. It’s already Sunday night and I’m sat watching the Grand Prix at my brother’s house thinking about the last few days and wondering where the chuff they’ve gone. Blink-and-you’d-miss-it.

Friday was my last day at work. My last day as an IT Project Manager. My last day working for the University of Lincoln. Technically I’m still employed until the 31st but in my head I’m now unemployed. No job. I’ve had a job since I was about 14 so it feels a bit weird. Just a bit like I’m on holiday and I’ll be going back at some point. Although it did hit me yesterday that I didn’t have to think in weekends and weeks any more. And that it didn’t matter when it might be nice weather because I’ll have chance to enjoy it however I want.

I had a brilliant last day. Did a bit of work and a had a last meeting in the morning, then two fab speeches from both my bosses. Although a bit embarrassing.  I like other people’s leaving speeches but when it’s your own its a bit different. I’m not that keen on being the centre of attention, especially when people have just said lots of nice things about me. Was wondering whether they were actually talking about the right person. After that we headed to the pub for a little lunchtime drink before finishing up a last few bits and saying goodbye to everyone who wasn’t going out later. Oh, and of course making sure the office window got updated:

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Lots of people had asked for my blog address so I sent an email round to everyone before I left. I decided to add in a cheeky RickRoll to see who I could get. Don’t know what RickRolling is? Shame on you. Tis an internet phenomenon. Learn here. I got quite a few people, but I am most pleased with the reaction from my boss Matt. I wish I had caught it on camera. It was a classic. My work there was done; a most pleasant exit bow.

We then went and drank beer. Fun. Lots of people out; it was really nice to get to chat and say goodbye to everyone. I did get drunk; that was inevitable. BUT. I managed to stay a little bit sensible and call it a fairly early night, meaning only a small hangover on Saturday. Win.

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As excited as I am to be starting a new adventure, I’m sad to be leaving the Uni. I’ve had some great times there and met some brill people. It’s been life changing. Literally. My life is very different now than when I joined. I’m very different. There are some special people there that have had an impact on my life and me in different ways and I’m very grateful to them. And I will miss them. A lot.

Packing. Again.

So, I move out of Alex’s on Saturday. Although, it’s my last night here tonight. So, I need to pack my stuff up. Again. Seems like only 5 minutes since I was last packing it up to come here. When I moved out of my house most of my stuff went to the parentals to be stored, and some came to Alex’s. You may remember I was horrendously hungover. I probably blogged about it. I think back to that day; most of my stuff wasn’t packed. The plan was to pack most of it on the Friday night then finish up the little bits on the Saturday ready for my dad and the van later that night.

Yeah right. What actually happened: I went out for a couple of drinks on the Friday for someone’s leaving do. I didn’t eat (because I didn’t think I was staying out) and ended up getting in at who-knows-what time (but definitely after midnight) absolutely bungalowed. Cue major hangover the next day and a day of packing. But it wasn’t just packing. It was having to decide what needed to go to Alex’s and what was to go into storage. Bloody hell that was difficult for my brain to try to think about. Then car trips with Karl to take the stuff down to the flat. The whole day was utterly horrific. I NEVER want to do that again (not the car trips with Karl, they’re OK, but the packing while hungover).

However, there’s a strong likelihood that I’ll be hungover again on Saturday, because tomorrow is my last day at work and it’s my leaving do straight after work until god-knows-how-late. But, at least I’m prepared this time. Most things are packed up in neat piles so I know what needs to go to which house. Because, oh yeah, that’s the other thing. I haven’t got a base for the next week; I’ll be staying at 4 different houses. Just to make it that little bit more of a pain in the arse.

And of course I’ve got my backpack to pack. Everything I need for a year on the road in one little bag to carry around on my back like a snail. I reckon I’ve got most of my stuff ready, I just need to research how to pack like a BOSS. And then practice. All of this has got to go in a 60 litre backpack.

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EASY.

Meep.

I’m being really productive tonight but also feel like my head might implode. So much to do, I feel like I’m running round in circles trying to get it done. Not knowing where to start. Lots of little bits to get done. Loose ends to tie up. It’s the same at work. I’ve spent all day at work today doing that, then came home and spent the entire evening carrying on.

“Surely you have a list” I hear you cry. Well, kind of. “But you’re a project manager, you should have all this under control. You should like this” Erm not really. I’ve had about enough. Enough of planning and lists and all that jazz.

My head hurts. I’m drained. And I still haven’t started on my packing or trying to think about what stuff needs to be where at the weekend when I move out of Alex’s.

Soon. Soon it will be done and I will be on the road. Free. No lists.

Until then. Meep.

And, really, tonight, all the above pales into insignificance when you hear of the awful attack in Woolwich today. My thoughts go out to the man and his family. Such awful, awful news.

Last supper.

OK, so it’s actually not. And a bit of a disclaimer; I’ve had wine. A few glasses. So apologies if this doesn’t make much sense; I’ll keep it brief.

Alex made tea. Lamb shanks. With veg (green stuff Donna. Well, green and yellow stuff actually).

It’s not our last meal together though, that’s likely to be later this week, unless one of us is out. But, it was a fab meal, we’re both at home (a phenomenon in itself) and we had all evening. So we drank wine, ate and chatted. About the future, the past and life. About London, and my travelling. About dreams, hopes and relationships.

The last 3 months that I’ve shared a flat with Alex has gone so quick. We haven’t done Hangover Saturday or Cake Day. Both of these things I was sure we’d do. Oh well. Maybe some day we will.

I will miss him. My little wife who makes me cups of tea, food and is there with advice and a hug when I need it. Who would have thought here’s where we would be when you had gammy eyes, was bored and came to cook me tea in November 2011 eh Alex?

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Fitness frenzy.

Classes at the Sports Centre finished today for the summer, and I still had two passes left that I’d already paid for. So I decided to have a bit of a fitness frenzy and go for Boot Camp then Zumba back to back, after a short run with the ICT URC (ICT Unofficial Running Club). However, it didn’t quite work out like that. A meeting overran which mean URC never happened. So, I decided to go for a run after. But I got to the Sports Centre to find Boot Camp wasn’t on because there wasn’t enough people. So, I changed my mind and decided to do Zumba then a Spinning class. So I had a bit of time to kill, the rain was pouring so I decided to go on the treadmill in the gym to do a little run. BIG mistake. Oh my word running on a treadmill is SO BORING. The only time I’ve done it is when I used to go to the gym YEARS ago before I started running. I now know why I love running outdoors so much and why people call it the Dreadmill.

It’s DULL; there’s naff all to look at. It’s HOT; there must have been air con but I miss the breeze of outside on my face. There’s lots of people around and I don’t like just running next to someone and not talking. We were all plugged into the TV’s like robots. Erk. I’ll not be doing it again for a long while. Only if I really, really, really have to.

Zumba was fun but I don’t love it. I do it though, but I do it badly. I struggle to follow the steps because I have the co-ordination of a drunken sailor at the end of a weekend bender. I just can’t get my feet to move in the same way as the instructor, no matter how hard I try, and so most of the time I just end up doing my own thing, occasionally catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and trying not to cringe. I look BAD. I think I need to be drunk to have any kind of rhythm.

I love spinning though, I haven’t been enough this year. I’d not been to this particular instructor’s class before. It was hard, especially after having just knocked out a 5km run and an hour of Zumba. But it was good. I like hard things. Makes me work. What’s the point in doing exercise if you don’t push yourself. Like the people that go to the gym and leave looking exactly the same as when they went. I’m never going to pull at the gym because I tend to leave looking like a big red sweaty mess, but, let’s face it, that’s not why I go. As weird as it sounds, there’s something quite satisfying about feeling the sweat pouring off/down your body. To quote a well known phrase that I see all over the place; sweat is fat crying. I worked hard, take THAT body fat and stick it up your ****.

I think I might sleep well tonight.

Travel goodies.

I’ve been given a few presents for my travels recently by my pals. Really thoughtful ones. One was a fully loaded ready-to-go tram card for Melbourne so I can have fun riding around on the trams of the city (thanks Moz). I got a notepad and pens from Jane to write in (in case I didn’t have wifi or battery on my laptop and wanted to write). And the last was ‘Five on a Treasure Island’ by Enid Blyton from Nick today. He was given it by a friend of his to read when he went on his travels. He read it on a beach in Goa and has written in the front of the book. The condition of me having it was that I have to write in the front and then pass it on to someone else on their travels. Hopefully it will make it’s way around the world. I’m going to save it to read when I’m near a beach I think. It just wouldn’t feel right reading about an island not near water. And then find someone to pass it onto that would keep it going.

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Meeting with Nick today, that book and Film Club tonight has made me think about my travels a bit. It’s not long until I go, but I’m sure you already know that. I probably mention it enough. Sorry, but it’s pretty much mostly what my time is taken up with although I do a good job at procrastinating and not actually thinking or doing anything I need to do until the last minute. But, I digress.

I was thinking about some things that I’m looking forward to. I mean, there’s hundreds of things really, but these are a few little things I’ve remembered that I’ve thought about in the last day or so (hundreds of things CANNOT stay in my brain all at the same time; I have the concentration span of a pea).

#1: Running whenever I want. Like, in the daytime rather than after work or first thing before work (although to be fair, I’ve only done that once this year so that’s not so valid). It will be like a weekend every day. I can choose when to go. YAY! Might not sound like a lot, but it will make a big difference. Imagine not having to plan stuff around 9-5 Monday to Friday. All that time to play with. Frickin’ awesome. I’ve also been following something called Write This Run on twitter. I know I’m not strictly a running blogger but I would have loved to have gone but I couldn’t. Next year. When I’m back in the UK, I’m in. I’m really fired up at the minute for my running. I’m enjoying it big style. So while I’m away not only am I going to to do my Runs Around the World but I’m also going to try and find other runners or running clubs. Run with as many people as I can. Enter races if I can. See what worldwide running is like. SO EXCITED.

#2: Hangouts with Film Club. We tried a google hangout tonight. Donna and Karl on their tablets and me on my phone (Sharron can’t join in until she gets her new phone. We made her sit in the corner and face the wall. Not really.). OK, so we were all in the same room. But still. Oh, actually, Karl went into the kitchen for pizza cam. So still all in the same house. But it worked and so we all know what to do when I’m away. We are SO going to still have Film Club throughout the year. They cannot escape my talking through films and stupid questions. Muhahahaha.

#3: Throwing most of my work clothes away. Most of them are knackered but there was no point in getting new stuff because I’m off. So I look like a tramp most days but I can live with that. Pretty much everything apart from a pair of trousers and one jumper is going. Corporate work-smartish clothes, and by extension, corporate work life, be gone! Hello unemployed travelling hobo life 😀

Fucking hell. I can’t wait.

Leaving. Soon.

So leaving doo number 1 was last Saturday. I’m only just blogging about it now because I’m *just* about recovered. Yep, I had a bit to drink. Had to be done. Didn’t really think my hangover would last for two days though.

It was worth it though. Just. It was a most awesome night. I saw loads of my lovely mates who had all come out to bid me farewell, thank you, you wicked bunch of people that I’ve collected along the years. All different, all special. They say people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Some stay, some go. There was a mix of people there on Saturday. People I see most days, people I used to work with, people I currently work with, my best friends, school friends and people I’ve not seen for years. I am truly chuffed that I can call you all my friends.

Even though it’s the last time I’ll see most of them before I go, I didn’t feel sad. I guess it’s because to be in touch with someone nowadays doesn’t necessarily mean having to see them. The wonderful invention of the internet means that I can be in touch with you all throughout my year away. Just not in the flesh. I’ll be in the computer. It was probably also helped by copious amounts of alcohol and having a happy night.

Whether I’ll carry on feeling like this, I don’t know. I know there’s a couple of people I’ll miss seeing in person. I already miss one person and I’ve not even gone yet. I’ll just try to remember: don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

It was great catching up with a couple of people that I’ve not seen for quite a few years too. My old buddy Tara (we were the two T’s back as teenagers) who I’ve not seen since we were 18, and Vic who I went to school with who I’ve only seen a few times over the last few years. It was SO good to see them. Just a shame I won’t get to see them properly for another year now. When I get back ladies we will have that proper catch up 🙂

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Mirror mirror.

Do you ever look in the mirror and not recognise what you see? And I don’t mean in a wanky self-reflective way. I mean in an actual I-don’t-recognise-myself way. I have it sometimes. I don’t know why, I mean, of course I know what I look like. Obviously. But maybe sometimes my brain forgets. Or what I think I look like isn’t quite the same as what I actually do. I had it today, this afternoon. I think it’s maybe because my hair is longer than it has been for years. It’s also a bit wavy now. It’s not been like this since I was about 10 years old I reckon.

I think it’s also because in my head I feel a different age to what I actually am. I saw some old friends tonight and we were talking about how old we feel. I think we all got stuck in our early twenties in our heads. Although sometimes when we get together I still feel like we are 15 and at school. That’s how I remember us all. So when I look in the mirror and see my 32 year old face looking back at me, it’s a bit strange.

Quite often I’ll see different things. Some days I’ll think I look tired. Sometimes I think I look old. Sometimes I think I look like either one of my nans. Or my dad (not great, he’s a bloke, but I can see some of his characteristics). Sometimes I wonder what I look like to other people. I remember when I was younger thinking people in their 30’s were OLD. But, I don’t feel old. I don’t think I look old most of the time.

I feel completely different to a couple of years ago and think I look quite different now too. But I forget that and surprise myself when I look in the mirror. I forget how much me and my life has changed over the last 18 months. Maybe it’s just taking time for my brain to catch up with everything.

Most importantly though, I like what I see in the mirror. Good days or bad days, it’s me. And I love me. So I’m happy.

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Ironically/spookily/coincidentally, Justin Timberlake’s song Mirrors came on the TV when I was writing this. True story.