Always ready for that flash of inspiration!

This is so true!

Who knows when a brilliant idea is going to burst into your head?

The only thing I think the hotel should have also remembered – is to have a pen nearby…..

What do they expect you to do? Dip the knife in the gravy and try your best?IMG_2285

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Running through London

Firstly guys, I would like to say “Hello, I’m back”. I haven’t blogged for over a month. Work has been manic and so I haven’t had a moment to think.

At the end of September I flew over to London to take part in the first ever ‘Big Gay 10k’ run. I was very excited about doing the run. It was my first ever run. I was going to crawl and possibly die in a gutter do my best and try to get a good time.

For those who had read more on my Just Giving charity site would have known that I had been training to run since the beginning of July. Fun, fun, fun…

Well – 400 people took part in the 10km run in London. Some were runners, some were walkers and the rest were mincers!

The route was fantastic! Here are some photos from the fantastic day. (I’m in the blue vest, my fiancé is in bright yellow). Our super friends Sue and Caroline came to support us.

The fantastic route with London’s finest landmarks all the way around.

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The race was started by Cheryl Baker, in pink in the photos (from Bucks Fizz, the 1980s pop group who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1981). I even met her and had a post-run-sweaty photo together. Once the race was started, Bas and I were off like a shot. My music was playing and I was high on adrenaline. I wanted to get a good time. So far my best time had been 10km in 52 minutes (I was averaging 55 mins).

We kept up with the front group and split from the main ‘pack’. The streets of London were packed. As we all reached the Embankment, where the London Eye stands we had to wriggle and jump in and out of the tourists. As it was the first Big Gay 10k in London the organisers had been unable to clear roads or pavements, meaning for us that we had to contend with human-obstacles. They must have wondered what was happening…

Halfway through the race I realised that I was well over my usual pace. I got ahead of Bas who probably got caught in the crowds. Bas caught up with me at about 7 or 8km into the run. That was when we came face-to-face with the photographers. (Time to look as though I was loving it…).

At 8km I hit the wall. Not literally – a wall of pain. I really didn’t know if my body would get to the 10km finish line. Bas was brilliant and ran along side me the rest of the way. The last bridge was the last hurdle. I said to Bas “I don’t want to go uphill anymore”. He replied that we were there.

We had made it.

We came 28th and 29th (seconds divided us). 29th!!!! From 400!!!!!

Stunned. You can see my time below. Just under 51 minutes. It probably took me those 41 seconds to stop my timer.

You can see how much money I was lucky enough to raise for a great charity in London! Brilliant supporters – thank you!

Proof on my time! I am still in shock that I managed it.

The breakdown of the route.

The amount I raised for ‘London Friend’.

How do you measure up?

Discovered in Antwerp in Belgium.

I was just minding my own business and taking a little visit to the toilet when I walked in and saw this.

Okay – it made me laugh – out loud. It was quite tricky to concentrate while standing there.

Which one to stand at?

Knitted covers for your bike, bus or car.

I have some friends who love knitting.

Okay, I should be clear on this one. Some love knitting and some like to croquet.

The urban knitting craze is taking off and here are some wonderful examples of how the craze has taken an unusual twist.

Perfect for all the abandoned bikes here in The Netherlands.

Now THAT is a bus I would love to catch!

Isn’t this just the cutest Smart Car!

I also found a great website with fantastic knitted things. It’s called Mochimochi Land. Take a look.

January: Drama. Blues. Booze.

I thought it would be a good idea to summarise my months throughout 2012. It is set to be a cracker of a year (a great year, to all my non-English readers, or should I say readers from outside of northern England).

January started most dramatically. Bas, my husband-to-be (I love saying that), and I travelled back to The Netherlands after enjoying Christmas in the UK. The drive from England to the Channel Tunnel was horrendous. When I say horrendous I mean utterly vile. Scary. At-my-wits-end-scary. I thought my life would end at some point on that journey. The rain was torrential and never-ending. Once through the Channel Tunnel (and after a welcome 30-minute break on the train), we continued our hell-raising journey into France where the bloody rain continued. How could so much water fall from the sky? Belgium proved to be no better – The rain poured from the sky and our car barely managed to stay on the road. Driving through a swimming pool is never recommended and as the car shook, swerved and vibrated its way along, the thought went through my head on more than one occasion that skis may have been a better option than wheels. I lived to tell the tale though, so all’s well that ends well.

It was so much worse than this...

January also brings with it the worst time of year, the post-Christmas-blues. Apartments and houses look so bland and bare without the joyful Christmas decorations. Is it just me, or am I the only one who never ceases to be shocked at how bare a home can look without the decorations hanging? It never seems that bare in November…

I was back at work, greeted by a class full of happy little three-year olds all eager to see their friends again – and their teacher, of course. One little boy saw me on the first morning back and said my name with such enthusiasm. It was as though he’d not seen me for months, years – or as though he thought he may never have seen me again…. Bless.

In order to brighten the mood, we had friends over for a games evening. I love games. Bas does not. Therefore, we played games. And Bas loved them. I won’t hear a word against them. That is the basis of our relationship. I am right. 🙂 We played some great games – word games where one team had to name 10 things related to a category. The highlight of the night being when my team was asked to name 10 deserts… We looked puzzled and skipped the category. I don’t know deserts other than Gobi, Sahara… I’m struggling. We asked to hear the answers – clearly out of interest. Answer #1: Pavlova. I have to hold my hand up and admit that after a few glasses of wine I sat and pondered where this Pavlova desert may be. Possible Eastern Europe…? The penny did not take long to drop. DESSERTS! My wonderful other-half avoided reading the next answer – trifle. We would have been laughing into the early hours. I love games.

A fab game. You must play it.

Throughout the rest of January, we visited family in The Netherlands, caught up with friends, helped our wonderful friend-and-bride-to-be choose her wedding dress. Yay! We had a decorator in to plaster the kitchen (our kitchen shall be finished this year – finally); we watched Carnage and The Iron Lady (Streep must win Best Actress at the Oscars) at the cinema; and we had meals out. Good fun all round.

Oh, but then there was the party Sunday. The Sunday we shall not forget. It started with a neighbourhood borrel (drinks and nibbles) at the pub along the street from our apartment. All our Dutch neighbours were there – although we didn’t recognise a soul. Normally I know one or two – but the absence of everyone from our actual street made the stress-levels rise. I was using all my Dutch skills. Speak Dutch and survive. I survived – almost. We were labelled on entry with a post-it note from the very official looking ‘organiser’, power-dressed in red. After spelling my name repeatedly (in Dutch), I changed from Jamey to Jami to Jame where I finally gave in. I’d be Jame for the evening – for the quiet life. Jamie isn’t difficult to spell. What panicked me next was seeing the organisers hand out coloured flower stickers. There was a game to be played. Panic stations. I know, I know – I like games. But not in Dutch and not when I know that my Dutch partner is clearly not going to be in my team. We ended up separated. I must not panic. I must keep calm. Drink. Hours later, and after meeting some lovely neighbours we made our way, on bikes, to another party. You can see where this is going. We drank. We chatted. We drank and had a fantastic evening – until home time. That was when the wall of reality hit. Cycling home was an experience. 🙂

Oh – and January officially became my busiest month for hits on WordPress. Thanks guys!

What a month. January – you have been memorable.

Bring it on February!

Jumping off a mountain. Simples.

What better way to remember a birthday than by jumping off a mountain. That was how I celebrated my 32nd birthday.

It could have been my last.

I said that to the guy…

…He laughed.

I survived – clearly.

Paragliding is a must. I am now converted the wonders of the jump.

I’ve just got back from a two-week camping holiday in France. It was amazing. Lac d’Annecy is a stunning location for a holiday for all tastes. Relaxing if you like. Sporty if you want. Adventurous if you dare.

We dared.

Our paragliding experience was well organised. A team of instructors picked us up (me, Bas and A.N.Other). We headed up a windy and very steep death trap mountain road. The madman driver clearly hadn’t taken his tablets knew the route and we whizzed around bends on two wheels. Oh the joy. We reached the summit and grabbed the gear from the back of the minibus.

What was the gear being strapped to my back. I asked no questions.

I didn’t really want to know.

We walked a couple of metres up a pathway and then on to a steep slope of astro-turf (fake grass) which led over the edge to nothingness….. Long grass could be seen poking up, but beyond that…nothing. The lake, hundreds of metres below, was shimmering in the mid-day sun. Stunning. Terrifying, but stunning.

My instructor lay the wing (or canopy) out across the grass, while I looked at at the view and contemplated the drop.

Gulp.

There were loads of ropes called lines (yes, I’ve read up on it now that I’ve done it and survived). He untangled the whole lot and prepared it, then attached his harness to mine. Once secured he said “Right, now we just run”.

What!!??

That’s the extend of my pre-flight briefing?….”Now we just run!????” (I thought this part – I didn’t want to sound panicky).

We ran…Off the edge of the mountain.

I was expecting a sudden drop. It never came. Unbelievably, we glided off the mountain and into the air. It was the most gentle take-off I’ve ever experienced. The view was amazing! I was silent. In total awe of the view. The lake below looked incredible.

The instructor was busy controlling the wing (fiddling with the lines). I just grinned and enjoyed the view. I looked across and watched Bas and his instructor floating ahead of us. I didn’t hear any screams. All was good. For thirty minutes we floated down above the lake, the trees and roads below.

Sheer bliss.

There had been no wind at the top of the mountain. It was eerily still. Once we were a few hundred metres from landing we hit a rush of wind. With a jolt we were carried higher and higher. It made landing quite a challenge. Our landing field was too far to reach and the wind was too strong. Plan B – land closer. We ended up in a field nearby.

The landing was smoothe. Until a gust of wind caught the wing and whipped us backwards across the field. What a sight. The instructor was laying on his back trying to regain control and there was me, on top of him, wondering when we’d stop. I couldn’t help but giggle some more.

I survived. I loved it!

Enjoy my slideshow…

 

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Want to read more? Some links you may enjoy.

Happy Camping

Camping is great! Fresh air, back to nature, living life freely… What more could you ask for? (Okay, so some of you probably said ‘a hotel’……. I agree that hotels and cozy holidays are nice some of the time, but camping is fab – especially when you find the right spot.

I’m hoping that our camping trip to France this summer goes without any problems. I want a chilled time. Total relaxation and time to complete many of the things on My List for 2011. Reading the Harry Potter series in on my list as well as dancing in the rain and writing a poem. I’ll have time to tick off those things…. Wish me luck.

If you’ve ever been camping then I am sure you can relate to the next bit.

Here are some great camping one-liners:

“I thought you packed the toilet paper”.

“Shhhhhh….. Did you hear that noise?”

“Just one more hill to climb, it’s all flat from here”.

Of course I packed the tent poles”.

 “I love camping. You haven’t lived until you’ve cut your way out of a sleeping bag with a Swiss army knife”.

Searching the internet for things about camping has been fun. Here are some good blogs about camping:

Love in a Tent

Kyla40’s Travel Blog