Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Germany 2016 - Part 2: I'll jane to find you dons

I left you in Germany didn't I? I have been pursuing some other things recently which I will tell you about later but it means I have been distracted in finishing my Oktoberfest posts.

The next morning we intended to wake up early and hit Oktoberfest mid morning however we were told not to rush because it would be open late and we may as well take our time. We had both bought dirndl with us to wear (the traditional Bavarian dresses - well as traditional as £30 on amazon will get you) so sheepishly put mine on feeling a little silly. Then I went downstairs and our host was dressed in an even more extravagant dirndl so I felt much better. The lady we were staying with was so enthusiastic about us dressing up that she braided Ami's hair and put ribbon on a hat to match my Dirndl apron! So cute. It was also uncharacteristically warm that day so we set out in just dirndl with short sleeves and even bare legs!

The festival itself was much bigger than I expected and there were absolutely no maps to tell you what was where. We wandered round for a bit looking at the shops and the shire horses which were out in the sunshine before we found a beer tent. Each beer hall is split into booths that seat about 100 and each booth has a waitress who will bring you beer by the litre!!! The glass steins were so heavy when they were full of beer that Ami bruised her hand from how she was lifting them. What they don't tell you is how strong the beer is. Actually that's a lie, they did, we just didn't believe them because we thought nah we're British so we can handle it. Wrong. We made many friends throughout the night - none of whom I can recall the name of or have any clue what they did or where they were from. It was so much fun! Everyone stands on the benches and sings along with the brass bands - we knew none of the words so we made them up - "Genovia" is still stuck in my head. (note: in an attempt to identify the song I am now listening to Oompah while writing and bobbing along as I type.... Oh it's Ein Prosit apparently... I prefer Genovia).

Then I lost Ami. I think she went to the loo and just didn't come back. From our phone conversations Ami must have disappeared at about 8pm. She got the train home before remembering that I had the only house key and our hosts were out that evening. Apparently she sat on the step for about an hour before going to a petrol station to buy water, ham, and chocolate (excellent drunk shopping list) and returning to be let into the house by the next door neighbour. I, on the other hand, having walked around looking for Ami, cried at the big wheel, tried to find the train station but missed and made friends with a group who were also looking for a station, walked the next 3 stops, got a train, and arrived at the house about 11. Ami and I then spent the next few hours dozing and sobering up.

The next day I felt surprisingly perky given last night's adventure and we headed into town. There's not actually much in Munich apparently. We found lunch, a nice park, a very expensive deodorant to replace the one airport security took, and then went into town for a quiet drink in the evening. Home early, very non-eventful. In our final day in Munich we went back to Oktoberfest but that day it was cold and raining so everyone had piled into the beer halls and it took us forever to find a seat. We were both still scared from our experience last time so there was only very modest drinking. Ami attracted some 18 year old gits who took forever to get rid of and we got bored and went home early to change into something warmer and head into the city. We wandered round the shops and had dinner at a very strange place with a very enthusiastic waiter who at one point full on flipped a wine glass full of water just for fun (!).

The next morning we headed out to the airport and had a much less stressful flight to Berlin to start the next phase of our adventure!


Saturday, 8 October 2016

Germany 2016 - Part 1: A handbag?!

Surprise! I’ve been away again. I really should just make this a travel blog shouldn’t I? Then I would have the excuse to go places and write about them more. I feel like I go to places a lot recently but just haven’t had the time to write about them. Well I’m going to at least write about the last 10 days and then work my way backwards perhaps.
My travel buddy and I have had this trip planned for a while now: Germany. More specifically Oktoberfest in Munich and then a city break in Berlin. My brain likes to work chronologically so I will start with Munich.
Well no, actually I’m going to start with Manchester. I was packed and on the bus to the airport on Thursday morning with my trusty (and now well-seasoned) little blue trundle bag and my fits anything charity shop handbag. I bought this handbag when I had done too much shopping and the plastic bags were cutting into my fingers, so I popped into a charity shop and £3 later I had this handbag which now held all of my impulse purchases nicely on my shoulder to save my poor digits from being ripped off. Fabulous bag!
So anyway, I know Manchester airport pretty well now and it isn’t the easiest place to navigate, with 3 terminals all connected with walkways that resemble a 2 year olds artwork, and the bus terminal tucked out the way in a very quiet bit. I confidently strode off to my terminal and I think most of the bus followed me. As a seasoned flyer I feel I can avoid most of the common pitfalls that many travellers fall into so I was feeling smug about how easy going through security was going to be. Boarding pass? Check. Appropriate sized suitcase? Check. Plenty of time before my flight? Check. Oh how wrong I was.
Firstly there was a huge queue and it was like tesco where there are several thousand check outs, but only three open. Next they weren’t happy with my plastic bag with my liquids in so I had to put them into one of theirs – not too unusual but this is one of those rules that I feel most airports overlook because who actually cares which clear plastic bag my liquids are in? Manchester airport security apparently. So I’m now trying to fit a week’s worth of liquids into their seemingly tiny plastic bag. It wasn’t happening. I tried to stretch the plastic and ripped through it. Ok, new bag. I could fit everything in it but not close it. Close enough? I dump my things in a box at the scanner and the security man doesn’t say anything – success! But then I go through the scanner and my bag gets taken to one side for having hidden liquids. Apparently their scanners are sensitive enough to pick up a forgotten about perfume tester vial and a lip balm in the bottom of my handbag. So I’m there trying to explain that I genuinely didn’t know they were in there and at the same time, they pull me up on not being able to close my plastic liquids bag. And all this is after being ok with my boots and then not being ok with my boots, and then the pat down including the thumb in the waist band part and the sit down so I can scan your feet part. So anyway, security says I have too many liquids and I have to surrender some. So I begrudgingly hand over my half empty deodorant and my tanned bb crème. Then I spend a good minute manipulating the bottles into tessellating so this plastic liquids bag closes. Apparently it has to stay closed for 10 seconds so I stand there with the security man counting to 10 to see if it stays closed. It does – phew. Then for good measure my things are tested for explosives. Thankfully I wasn’t accidentally covered in explosives as well as accidentally smuggling liquids.
So after that ordeal I was a little stressed but not too bad. It’s reassuring that security is that thorough and by the sounds of it, my travel buddy flying from London didn’t have any of these issues – worrying for that airport?
Ok so now I’m at the gate and the lady says my lovely charity shop handbag has to go in my suitcase. Eugh. Why? Why does it have to go in my suitcase? My handbag could easily fit under my seat so what’s the benefit of it being in my suitcase? I’m not taking up any more overhead locker space by having my bag under my seat. So now I’m there at the gate behind the lady with my suitcase open trying to fit everything in. I stuff as much as possible into my pockets – glasses, sunnies, ipod, brolly, phone, passport, purse, boarding pass… thank goodness I had large coat pockets! But even with those things in my pockets, I still can’t get my suitcase to zip up. Oh and then there was another member of staff with a wheelchair trying to come through the bit of barrier that the lady told me to repack my suitcase in front of. So now I had to move everything mid packing so he can get through with my stuffed full coat on, getting very hot and bothered. Now I’m in the middle of the floor struggling with this suitcase looking pretty pathetic and stressed. Thankfully a guy takes pity on me and comes to help. He squeezes my suitcase shut while I try to wiggle the zip round and I nearly take his fingers off when the zip suddenly moves. Apparently no good deed goes unpunished. Sorry and thank you to my mystery helper man!
When I get on the flight there’s a stag do heading to Oktoberfest as well. Excellent. But I plugged in my ipod and the flight was uneventful. Ami (travel buddy) was delayed but one coffee, one doughnut, one walk around, and one makeshift sign on the back of a boarding pass later, we were reunited. In this time I also noticed that there were now some white stress points on the outside of my suitcase post handbag fiasco. Damn.
A short tube ride later we arrived at a very cute, bright red terraced house. The owners were out but the neighbour let us in and we set about exploring. It was very bohemian with white walls covered in art, but dark wooden furniture, and everything was covered in patterned fabrics or interesting pottery things.  We settled in and after a brief tripadvisor search I had in front of me, the most German plate of roast pork with both bread and potato dumplings and gravy.  Lecker.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

I have to...

Do you have things that you just know you have to do in your life? Not things you want to do but things you know that you need to do, like it has already been decided and there's no way to change it. Well I have been looking at holidays recently and I have realised that there are a lot of places that I just know I have to go to. I've been flicking through the holiday book exodus sent me as I loved travelling to Morocco with them last year, so here are some of the places from the book that I know I have to go to in no particular order.

I know I have to see the northern lights. It's just inevitable. I have to go and trek in the snow, but not too much because ice scares me, snow is fine, but ice isn't. Ideally I'd take a horse drawn sleigh at some point and cuddle up with hot wine and look adorable in some kind of fluffy hat.

I also know that I have to take the Trans-Siberian railway. I was going to come back from Australia on the train (trust me it's possible, you just need to fly as far as Singapore) and it wasn't that much more than the flight back but then it's the time too and the cost of stopping in so many different places along the way which made it a bit impossible at the time. Maybe if I go back to visit my Aussie friends then I can take the train back then?

Ah the next one is a good one: Egypt and not just the great pyramids but Karnak, Edfu and boat down the Nile. I got so into Egypt as a kid, I think it was just after my dinosaur phase and I was looking for another seemingly impossible previous incarnation of the earth so after giant reptiles/birds what seems more natural than super advanced race with animal/man hybrid gods?! It would be so crazy to actually go to the places I read about because I still think of them as largely imaginary as a kid thinks about anything that she can't see right under her nose.

I have to see gorillas in the wild. I have no idea where this one comes from. But I know I need to. And I guess I need to get a wiggle on before they become one of those things to mystify younger generations like "I existed before the internet before gorillas went extinct".

The next one is one I came close to in Uni: I have to climb Kilimanjaro. There was a charity thing going which I got really excited about and then I went to the first meeting and they were doing the easiest route, and everyone got their own porter to carry their bag up, and there were cooks and people that went ahead to set up camp so it was ready when you got there, and there was going to be like 150 people in the same group! It seemed so... not how I wanted to do it. I want to go with people who you'd get to know and be close to by the time you got to the top, I want to carry my own bag and feel its weight as I climb and I want to put up my own tent and cook my own crappy camping food and get impatient at it and end up eating still hard and chalky rice cooked in diluted cup-of-soup. That's what I want.

Ditto Everest, probably just base camp but still wouldn't that be cool! I have to go to Everest. I don't know where this one comes from either but I know I need to. Likewise the Inca trail to stand on the edge of a mountain where someone stood thousands of years ago, the Galapagos Islands to walk the steps of Darwin and see the tortoises, and potentially a little far fetched: the north pole but that's so damn cool.

Then there are things I know I have to do that I have already done which is great. I've ridden a camel into the Sahara dessert, I've hiked through the Brazilian Rainforest and Mountains, and I've snorkled through the Great Barrier Reef. I've done most of Europe too perks being: tulips in the Netherlands, waterfalls in Croatia, Castles in Portugal, I went to school in Germany, I've done a lot of cool stuff already and that makes be feel pretty optimistic that I can get through the list above. Now I just need to fins a large amount of money!


Monday, 4 July 2016

I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake

One of my friends challenged me to do the #7dayshakechallenge. The idea is that you have a vitamin and protein shake for breakfast and another for lunch then a balanced meal for dinner so you get optimal nutrition for minimal calories. You can read about it in her blog here. There's a recommended shake mix on this website here.

So curious to see if I could do this and if it would help my eating/exercising/skin/energy/mood (all of which have taken a bashing recently) I decided to try it and bought the vanilla shake mix. 

Breakfast319 calories. 
300ml Lactose Free Semi-Skimmed Milk
1 Banana
2tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 Scoop Vanilla Forever Lite

It's like cake. I'm not huge on breakfast anyway usually skipping it and opting for coffee and a biscuit at my desk around 10 so the thick chocolatey pudding that this produced was a shock to the system. It all went in and I felt very full on the bus to work. 5/10.

Lunch: 385 calories
300ml of Green Machine Naked Juice 
0.5 an Avocado
1 Scoop Vanilla Forever Lite

Ok, so I used the juice mix instead of making my own but it was on sale and I knew I wouldn't be bothered to make two in the morning. Plus the Green Machine contains 

  • A
  • pple Juice (64%), 
  • Pineapple Juice (10%), 
  • Banana Puree, 
  • Kiwi Puree (8%), 
  • Mango Puree, 
  • Botanical Extracts (Powdered Spirulina, Chlorella, Broccoli, Spinach, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Parsley, Ginger Root, Blue Green Algae and Odourless Garlic) so there was no way I was going to be able to replicate it mainly because I don't know what all of those things are.... isnt chlorella a disease? No, wait, that's cholera - very different, phew. This one is OK, it looks gross though and my smoothy pot is clear so I could see all the gross green/brown stuff that I was about to drink. Although the juice was originally a vibrant green, the Forever Lite is white chalky powder which makes everything cloudy and less appealing looking. Tasted pretty good though! So note to self: opaque containers.
  • 4/10

  • I also got home and was so hungry! I had a snacksident and ate most of a family bag of kettle chips and half a roll of peanut butter oreos. Whoops. I made salad to compensate but then my ever helpful bf came home and wanted pizza. All in all a terrible day for food ending the day 935 calories over my goal.

    Breakfast: 341 calories
    300ml Lactose Free Semi-Skimmed Milk
    1 Banana
    15ml Maple Flavour Syrup
    1 Scoop Vanilla Forever Lite

    So the chocolate was too much but I didn't like the taste of the powder on its own and the banana wasn't enough to cover it so in went the maple syrup. Still far too sweet but not as thick as yesterday so it went in easier. 6/10.

    Lunch: 268 calories
    300ml of Green Machine Naked Juice 
    1 Scoop Vanilla Forever Lite

    No avocado this time to maybe prevent the brown colour that yesterday's turned. I'm not sure if it made a difference to be honest. 4/10

    Starting to feel bloated a lot in a weird way and felt both full and hungry at the same time. I couldn't put up with it at work so I had some breakfast biscuits too. Dinner was Oaty Chicken from Lean in 15 and its so much better than it sounds. My tummy was sooooo happy to have something that was savory as everything else had been sweet so far. I did cook as soon as I got in from work though otherwise I would have demolished another packet of crisps. I was slightly naughty and had a Gu cheesecake too though as my bf had eaten all the little chocolate bars.... so really it's his fault I ate the cheesecake. Finished the day 371 calories over goal.

    Breakfast: 304 calories
    250ml Lactose Free Semi-Skimmed Milk
    10g Porridge Oats
    7.5ml Maple Flavour Syrup
    1 Scoop Vanilla Forever Lite

    I looked to facebook for a way to make the shakes less sweet and was given some tips. Oats was one so I cautiously added oats to this one. It was less sweet but it was now much more like baby sick. I put it in an opaque travel mug to hide it. But then the oats got stuck in the little hole in the lid and it was just not working for me. I was on a long car journey for work to Bristol and split some, so now there's baby sick maple oat shake in the boss' car. He wasn't pleased. 2/10.

    I had my shake at 6am and was hungry again by 9. I bought a breakfast wrap from McDonalds at a service station on the motor way - I felt guilty with every salty oily mouthful. I still ate all of it.

    Lunch: 268 calories
    300ml Blue Machine Naked Juice
    85ml Fever Tree Tonic Water
    1 Scoop Vanilla Forever Lite

    The purple juice looked so much nicer than the green and the tonic water kind of helped make it less sweet but it did make it separate a little which was weird. But I drank it in a business meeting which meant I didn't have to sit through the meeting while being hungry - social acceptance for liquid meals in professional settings win. 8/10.

    I got hungry again on the long drive back to Manchester and ate half a waitrose little veggie quiche. Leftover oaty chicken for dinner and an alpro chocolate dessert cup. Then I got angry that bf had eaten all the chocolate yesterday so I ate the other Gu cheesecake too in petty retaliation. His fault again. 1061 calories over. Damn, I seemed to be eating much more on this challenge than I did usually which is totally not the idea at all! But if I hadn't eaten the McDonalds or the Gu then that would have been on goal. I regret nothing.

    Breakfast: 540 calories
    200ml Lactose Free Semi-Skimmed Milk
    40g Porridge Oats
    1 Scoop Vanilla Forever Lite

    Cheated moderately this morning by turning my shake into porridge. It was pretty good to be honest! I went to work feeling happy and full. 7/10.

    Lunch: 150 calories
    250ml Earl Grey Tea (black)
    4 Rich Tea Biscuits

    I made another green shake and I just couldn't bring myself to drink it. So I ignored it and had a cup of tea and some biscuits instead. I intended to drink the shake when I got home but it sat in the fridge and I ignored it some more. 0/10.

    Dinner of beef buritto from Lean in 15, diet coke, and another chocolate soy cup. I also finished the little bit of kettle chips I'd managed not to eat before but I did walk a lot today so the exercise cancelled the calories. Total 169 UNDER GOAL!

    Breakfast: 444 calories
    200ml Lactose Free Semi-Skimmed Milk
    20g Porridge Oats
    1 Banana
    1 Scoop Vanilla Forever Lite

    Porridge again but much less than yesterday having learnt how calorific oats are. I added banana on top and it was good. I didn't feel like eating any more when the banana was gone so that bit was a struggle. 8/10.

    Lunch: 248 calories
    200ml Unsweetened Almond Milk
    150g Skyr Natural Yogurt
    1 Scoop Vanilla Forever Lite

    One of the other tips to make shakes less sweet was to add natural yogurt to them so I tried it out here. I thought the Almond Milk might make the shakes less rich too. Whizzed all together it made an almost plain cheesecake topping which wasn't unpleasant. I would make this one again although one bad thing is that it now contains lactose from the skyr so I have to take some enzymes to digest it. 9/10.

    I should also mention that "lunch" wasn't eaten at lunch time. I swapped lunch and dinner this day and had a leftover beef burrito from yesterday for lunch and then the shake later in the day. I think this worked better for me and curbed my savory craving. Minor problem today was that it was bake off day at bf's work and he came home with 3 yummy fresh cupcakes two of which had been driven up from the Hummingbird Bakery in London and it would have been a shame not to eat them while they were fresh. I did some exercise to counter the cupcakes and finished the day only 40 calories over goal.

    Breakfast: 363 calories
    0.5 tbsp Cocoa Powder
    1.5 tbsp Self-Raising Flour
    1 Scoop Vanilla Forever Lite
    1 Egg
    1 Banana 
    7.5ml Maple Flavour Syrup
    100ml Unsweetened Almond Milk

    I made chocolate and banana pancakes. But the shake mix was in there so it counts right? Plus it was a recipe from Kayla Itsines (with flour rather than blended oats as bf was asleep still and the blender would have woken him). Needed more chocolaty taste so maybe with more cocoa or milk not almond? It was good though and a nice Saturday morning breakfast. 8/10.

    Lunch: Urm....

    Ok I went into town and completely forgot that I was meant to be having a shake for lunch until I spotted milkshakes on the menu where we had lunch. I split one of those with my bf and forgot about the shake challenge. He really is a bad food influence on me isn't he? Lunch was a feta, olive, and veggie cheese toastie, dinner was king prawn stir fry from Lean in 15.Lots of walking around town meant that I finished the day 28 calories under goal!

    I'm going to be honest with you; I didn't have any shakes on Sunday. I went out early in the morning with a cup of tea in my travel mug not a shake, then I had stuffed pasta for lunch, and went out to dinner for a friend's birthday and had smoked salmon with spiced avocado followed by duck with balsamic glaze and french beans. I walked home and I was fairly active in the morning so finished only 120 calories over goal.

    I think I must have failed my #7dayshakechallenge having only consumed 7 out of 14 shakes. I did however incorporate the shake powder into another 3 meals so 10 out of 14? Not sure. But how did I do against my goals eating/exercising/skin/energy/mood? Eating - I seem to have over eaten for the majority of the week but only drastically twice. However I managed to loose 2lbs which is something! Exercise - I don't think I did any more exercise than usual, if anything I did less because I was already putting effort into diet so exercise too seemed mean. Skin - yes my skin has been better after this week! I haven't had any large spots, I've been less oily, and I've not seen any blackheads! A major win there because I was worried that the additional dairy I was consuming would be inflammatory. That's why I tried to only use milk in one shake a day and use juice or a dairy substitute in the others. Energy - I've not noticed a big difference to be honest. I'm still tired a lot and have to push myself to do anything very active. Mood - I think this one should be moot because I've had some other variables interacting with this one. 

    So all in all, the shake challenge is hard, the powder is sweet, and I missed crunching things which is hard for a carb-o-saurus like myself. I lost weight and my skin was clearer but I didn't exercise as much as usual and my energy didn't go up. A fairly mixed bag but nothing overly negative and some strong positives. However, I was thrilled to eat my avocado on toast for breakfast this morning! *crunch* *crunch* *crunch*

    OGD x

    Monday, 23 May 2016

    Student Moans

    Not sure if it's her heels, a wedgie, or her debt causing her pain
    Student Loans: Got one? Yep, me too. Think about it much? No, me neither. But I was watching Jeremy Corbyn slate David Cameron about abolishing maintenance grants for low income students which was burdening them with more debt and it crossed my mind how many of my friends (myself included) were excluded from the low income bursaries because of our parents incomes but our parents incomes were not big enough to remove our need to take both tuition and maintenance loans.

    This got me thinking about how much student debt I had. I think last year I paid a grand total of £6 of my student loan because my contributions taken from my salary were only 50p more than the interest for that month. So how much do you need to earn to have a shot at paying it off? I’m going to round figures to the nearest £50 for clarity. I studied with loan plan 1 so that’s tuition fees of £3,500 and then each year I took the maintenance loan too of another £3,500. I did 3 years study and one year abroad where I was charged half tuition. Therefore I graduated with £26,250 of debt. Not much if you say it quickly. They take 9% of your wage pre-tax after the threshold of £17,500 and it is written off after 25 years which, if you work backwards, means to pay the whole loan off before the 25 year deadline I need to earn a minimum of £29,150 a year. But wait, that’s without inflation on the loan. Damn. Ok with the current rate at 0.9% recalculated I now need to earn at least £30,450 a year. Eeep it’s going up. And this is in a job market where “the average starting salary for jobs posted to graduate-jobs.com is £18,000 - £20,000”. Not cool.
    I love how confused this woman looks

    But, I have to count myself lucky. If I had done the same degree on loan plan 2 (starting study post 2012) I would have to pay £9,000 a year on tuition meaning I would leave uni after the same degree with a loan of £45,500!! A whopping £19,250 more. So, using the same calculations, assuming 0.9% inflation, an extended repayment plan of 30 years, and an increased repayment threshold of £21,000; I’d need to earn £40,100 at least. Every. Single. Year. But wait according to the student loans repayment website “ RPI (0.9%) where income is £21,000 or less, rising on a sliding scale up to RPI+3% (3.9%) where income is £41,000 or more”. It doesn’t tell me the sliding scale though but they do make your loan more expensive if you earn more. That seems… unusual for Cameron.

    Anyway, say I took one of those average jobs and earned £19,000 in my first year. On plan 1 I need to get a 4% pay rise every single year for the next 25 years to make that average and be on a salary of £48,700 a year by the time I’m 48. But if I’m on plan 2 I need a 5% pay rise every year to finish on a salary of £78,200 after 30 years and that’s without my interest rate raising which it would and I wouldn’t be paying off any of the loan for the first 3 years because I wouldn’t be earning enough. Does that mean I’d have to earn more to contribute more because the interest would be more? Probably. So essentially new graduates need to be aiming for £80k+ by the time they’re 53. Either way, regardless of plan and career path; I better start working hard huh? The thing is not all degree career paths will have this kind of money in them so these loans won’t get repaid and this money will have to come from somewhere?! 

    Well maybe not. Supposedly this is meant to be more like a graduate tax rather a loan to be repaid so thinking "what do I have to earn to pay it off" isn't in line with thinking it's an additional tax rather than a loan. But it's still called a loan isn't it? My Univerity saw the effect of the increase of student loan debt in student spending and attitudes. The union pub had to shut because of reduced revenue (yes you read that right, a student pub on a student campus was struggling for customers), and the union club saw ticket sales decline so much that their once star studded line up enviable of most festivals has been reduced to theme nights with playlists instead of live acts. In my final year of uni (2 years into the higher fees) there was such a different feel about the campus that societies were struggling to engage members as there was so little sense of community and belonging. 

    So if repaying these loans is impossible for some/most, and they are designed to be that way then why not genuinely introduce a graduate tax with a cap so that students are less intimidated by their financial status and can enjoy their university experience without the fear of financial ruin if they went out or to the union pub? It seems sad to me that this is taking away the community of university which is arguably more important for development into adult society than the degree itself! 

    OGD x

    Wednesday, 20 April 2016

    How to Adult without Growing Up

    Recently one of my friends did something that has inspired me. It wasn't even a deliberate action; she sent our group chat a picture of herself in a blouse and skirt she had arbitrarily picked out of her wardrobe that morning with the caption "Accidentally just dressed very 70's. 1870's that is." and she did look amazingly Victorian in a high neck, long sleeved, cuffed and frilled white blouse with a light brown heavy midi skirt. Combined with her up-do and glasses it only took a few helpful comments directing her to a vintage brooch, some leather shoes, and she found a cardi and blazer and her transformation was totally Pankhurst-esque. It was awesome.

    The think I should have mentioned is that this wasn't a weekend, my friend was getting ready to go to work where she has a role heavily involved in IT.  The irony wasn't lost on her. But still she went to work almost in fancy dress and isn't that brilliant!? She went to work, to do a very important role and adult the hell out of life, all while dressed how she wanted not how a grown up is supposed to (at least not in this century).

    It didn't affect my friends ability to do her job by being dressed how she wanted and not in whatever office wear from next people were expecting. This made me think about how it is possible to adult without being a grown up and how many opportunities to do what makes you happy regardless of boring expectations are passing me by because I'm too busy being "grown up". So now I am totally looking for ways to continue adulting without having to be a grown up too. Well not right now, right now I am at home in as many layers as possible with a nasty cold. I'll adult without growing up when I'm able to breath through both nostrils.

    OGD x

    Engrossed in Imagination

    Do you have an imagination? I do and while it can be an amazing source of ideas and sometimes some frightening dreams, it does sometimes take me away from real life when it shouldn't. Sometimes it can get me into tight spots but I don't want to share those here, recently my imagination stole me from reality at a bus stop.

    I live near a hotel so the bus stop I use to get to work often has guests trying to navigate the vagaries of Manchester public transport. In this instance there was a middle aged eastern European looking woman at the bus stop ignoring a middle aged eastern European looking man standing on the opposite site of the road. So my imagination got to work.

    The mysterious couple arrived in Manchester the night before and had checked into the hotel tired from their flight and the bombarding stresses of  travelling. Although the flight itself wasn't long the travel to the airport was filled with traffic, then the flight food was inedible, and after the inconveniently late but cheap flight arrived in Manchester, the journey to the "airport" hotel was inexplicably unapparent and further than the name suggested. 

    They started speaking to each other. Note that I say speaking, not talking, as this was not a conversation but more a collection of abstract sentences which, even in a language I couldn't understand, I could tell it wasn't friendly but it also wasn't threatening. They had to be connected. So my imagination got to work on what could have caused such obstinate behaviour from this mysterious couple.

    The next morning she was eager to get into the new city and see what it was like whereas he was ambivalent to the city and would have much preferred to spend the day relaxing. Years of marriage had made him complacent for a quiet life as he did love his wife but was sometimes baffled by her need to always fuss over things. Therefore they had breakfast early and then went to stand at the bus stop - perhaps they would have better luck with the transport today? 

    Ok so that explains who they are, how they got here, and why they were bickering, but that doesn't explain why they are on opposite sides of the road though.

    After following directions from the hotel concierge they came to a road and were hit with a dilemma; there were bus stops on both sides of the road. Which one did they need? She was fixed that it was this side of the road and he was adamant that it was the other and therefore this stalemate occurred.

    Ok, good, now I have why they are on opposite sides of the road.

    They were visiting Manchester for... 

    Something? They didn't look the type to be euro-hopping and there isn't anything more than usual going on in the city.

    She was excited to see her daughter and meet her future son-in-law, he was more apprehensive to meet the man who may take his youngest daughter away from him. Meanwhile on the 12th floor of an office building in the city centre their daughter looked out the window wistfully looking out across the city where soon her past and her future would meet and...

    Oh crap that's my bus!!! *Wave* *wave* *wave*  and the bus thankfully stops before whooshing by. Damn imagination. Still, I hope that the mysterious couple got to wherever they were going!

    OGD x

    Wednesday, 30 March 2016

    2016 Quarter Way Through

    So a few months ago 2016 was a new shiny year filled with all the new clean slate to promise yourself that this year will be the year you get fit/travel more/settle down/save money or whatever cliche resolution we all subscribe to but don't do. Now its nearly April which means a quarter of 2016 has gone so surely we should be a quarter of the way towards those goals? I have other less cliche and more personal goals too but I would prefer to keep them private. So how am I doing with the cliches?

    Well I travel a lot anyway, that's more of a ongoing life mission than a specific goal.

    Settle down? Well that was 2 years ago's goal and after a year of dating hard I realised that you cant force that type of thing and I should work on the relationship I have by myself which to be honest was a much better lesson to have learnt! I should probably blog about that sometime.

    Saving money is something that I never had to think about before because when you're a student and you don't have any money then you can't save. Recently I have been considering what my financial future should be because it's the first time I could practically think about that. Even if it was just a few pounds a week everything would add up... hopefully.

    Now that leaves get fit. This is something that I've never given much concern too because I've always been fairly active, I always had either a gym membership or a sports club I was training with, I also lived in the city center and walked everywhere, likewise I had an active job that had me running around all day sometimes literally running! So exercise wasn't something I was ever short of.

    However all that is different now. I still train with a sports club, but I've moved house and now bus everywhere and my job has shifted to a desk role. I was expecting to loose a bit of fitness and put on a little weight but recently I have been avoiding finding out by how much. I didn't notice at first, I brushed off not doing pilates much by being busy, likewise I dropped training sessions, I created excuses when people invited me to come running or climbing or whatever it was. I would try to make healthy choices with what I eat but then because I have veggies in the fridge at home I've let myself pick up a bacon roll on my way to work or to pick up a chocolate bar from the drawer whenever I go to the kettle to get a coffee. Bad habits have crept up with theses shifts and suddenly I find myself even afraid to see how unfit I have become.

    I took the first step last weekend which ironically was a literal step: I stepped onto the scales. Now muscle is 18% denser than fat (apparently, having just googled it - I thought it was five times denser not a fifth denser so I've learnt something) so putting on weight and getting less fit is pretty impressive when you think about it because you have to put on enough fat to cover not only the weight of the muscle you have lost but more than that to cause the weight gain.

    Be that as it may I now know half of the damage, there's just the question of how much fitness I have lost. I am determined to undo my bad habits and both eat better and get back into exercising more; say yes to things and stop snacking at work; stop going backwards and start going forwards!

    Maybe after the Easter chocolate is gone though.

    OGD x

    Thursday, 17 March 2016

    Forwards and Backwards

    I've been rather quiet recently. I usually don't like to blog without a conclusion for a train of thought or at least a point to convey. Blog posts that don't impart anything more then a question mostly annoy me so I try to avoid those. This isn't a dialogue usually otherwise I would post to a messageboard therefore I think of this blog as a series of short essays more than anything.
    The penguin who wants to fly from "Up and Down" by Oliver Jeffers

    The trouble is that recently I have been feeling both frustrated by the lack of movement in certain aspects of my life while other aspects of my life have totally changed beyond recognition. In the last week alone I have had some incredibly positive and negative influences ontop of some other ongoing issues I am realigning myself to.

    Can you simultaneously be bored and overwhelmed with your own life? I seem to be. Have you ever been in one of those funhouse rides at carnivals? The ones where one of your feet shoots forwards and the other shoots backwards and you have to struggle forwards without either doing the splits or faceplanting the floor hard enough to loose teeth! Well so far I have avoided needing substantial dental work but it is frustrating not to have both feet on the same step going in the same direction. I wouldn't want everything to stay still mind you, that would be really dull, but moving simultaneously in one direction would be preferable. Or would it? Maybe that would feel unstable too.

    Remember my post about winds of change? Well in that I spoke about how if you were a kite, some things/people keep you grounded and in one place like a tether rock, but some other things/people move you like a wind. I think there is now a third option. There are things that not only weigh you down but also can move you backwards so unlike a wind blowing you backwards or in a direction you weren't expecting, I would like to introduce a new aspect to the metaphore; a rock rolling down a hill.

    This rock I wasn't expecting to be tethered to indefinitely and it's a rock that's in a breezy place so it had the added bonus of that, however it seems to have shifted and now be falling. But at the same time I have a new wind supporting me. I don't think I am actually moving anywhere that quickly but it's putting a lot of stress on me to be both pulled down and pushed up at the same time. I'm only a little kite after all.

    Monday, 4 January 2016

    Jerks and Wimps

    Why are confidence and respect so difficult to find simultaneously? Conceptually they shouldn't be. Confidence is an internal thing and respect is an external thing so they should be able to get along just fine as they neatly keep out of each others way. They're both aspirations too, if I try to think of confident and respectful people I think of Richard Branson, Serena Williams, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie! More than that, I think of some of the best friends I have ever had.

    However, take away the respect and have just the confidence, I think of people like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Kayne West.... collectively not people I want to be like. I can think of some people like this that I really don't enjoy being around. Likewise take away the confidence and just have respectful and I think of... well there aren't celebrities that aren't confidant are there? It's preventative to being socially popular. And again I can think of people I know that could be so much more if they just had a bit of confidence.

    So what is it that makes it so difficult? Why do we overshoot with confidence and hit jerk or overshoot with respect and hit wimp? Is it some kind of defense mechanism? Do we stop ourselves from feeling genuinely happy with who we are which causes a perceived inadequacy so we lash out with jerky overconfidence so we don't risk losing the little pride we have in ourselves? Potentially the overconfident jerk is secretly a wimp as well? Well that would be sad if we were all wimps. Then that follows that the wimps are too afraid of being proud of themselves or offending anyone else that they shoot themselves in the foot before they have the chance to be a jerk. A kind of hypo-jerk as it were since they are so afraid of being jerks they overshoot in the other direction.
    • A confident and respectful person is happy and well liked
    • A confident and disrespectful person is a jerk
    • A non-confident and respectful person is a wimp
    • A non-confident and disrespectful is... wow I hope no one is this because it sounds like a rubbish way to be
    Maybe everyone is on the jerk and wimp scale and everyone is somewhere up and down the spectrum from hyper-jerk to hypo-jerk and hypo-wimp to hyper-wimp? Maybe we move too? Up and down depending on what we do and experience, and how we feel and grow. I feel like I move up and down.

    Well I'm tired of meeting jerks and wimps. I'm also tired of being a jerk and a wimp sometimes, but I really try not to be and I think I manage it most of the time.... or is that me being a jerk? But why are confident and respectful people so hard to find?!

    Where are all the well adjusted people?

    Are you out there?

    I hope so.

    OGD x