Friday, August 24, 2012

A safari in Poole

I mentioned in my last post that I visited Poole for the day. It was like being in Europe. The sunny Mediterranean Europe that is...not Scotland, Europe!

I was in London, staying with my friend Tania, (who was my first visitor in Uganda), meeting her lovely daughter Polly and sweltering in the summer heat. She had the brain wave of visiting her parents and brother at the seaside. Brilliant idea!

Tania and I went for a jetski safari (thank you, Ross!) to cool off. (I actually think Tania just wanted to get-me-back for all the bumpy long drives in Uganda!) I had a go at driving, but was happy to let Tania take I could concentrate fully on holding on tight!

It was so much fun and I highly recommend the safaris, it was a thrilling way to see the beautiful Jurassic Coast. It was also a great way to end my summer in the UK.

I am leaving the UK tomorrow, saying au revoir to; reading in bed in the morning, radio 2, cash-back, the weekend papers, green grass, wine (oh my God...why am I going!!!???) and of course having to say goodbye to my mum. (As I said earlier, I feel like I have been saying goodbye all holiday, but my mum gets the last one at the airport!).

So, back to a place that was 'home' to me a while ago. I'm off to Kuwait. Where I have lived twice before in my life. The first time as a teenager and went to school there for a couple of years, then later as a teacher, where I lived, before Africa , for four years. And again, now. A bit older and wiser (well-I like to think so anyway!)

It is definitely the end of the has rained now for two days. I must be ready...I've changed my mailing address on my profile on Facebook (the equivalent of redirecting my mail), my visa in glued into my passport and my bladder bag is filled with gin. (Tut tut-the things we do!)

So, I really have said goodbye to Africa, for now at least. So 'and beyond' I go-hence the change to my blog name. Thanks to the lovely Rachel at Tunes and Spoons for giving my blog a new look. I really love it, hope you do too!

Deep breathes. Here I go!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lately, in London

At the airport
self check-in machine-"You are too early to check-in for your flight."
me- "I think the machine is not working. It says it is too early to check in".
BA lady- "Oh, don't worry, just go to the bag drop."
me to Bag drop lady-"I think the check-in machine is not working. It says I am too early."
Bag drop lady-"You are too early to check-in for your flight. A day early."
me- (Oh dear!) "What day is it?" (Why did I ask that?)
Bag drop lady-"Thursday."
me -"Yep, that's the day I was planning to fly on." (Oh God-am such an idiot!)

So, 5 days in London town. Exhausting, but oh so much fun. Plus, I must have lost about a stone due to sweating so much...score!!

I even got in a wee trip to the seaside at Poole - it felt like a proper holiday. (Well that is after I was given my visa for the land of sand-and what a palaver that was!I may tell you more about it, but if I don't, you haven't missed much-it is all such boring bureaucracy that is just bollocks.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You'll have had your tea.

After my superb wee visit to Edinburgh, I've been home for a couple of days. Time to do some paperwork, time to run (my belt now has to be one notch bigger!), time for phone conversations with friends I have no time to see, time for baths and afternoon naps. Time for all these things are running out.

Today I have to spend some time on gown-up things, like bank accounts and paperwork. So much paperwork, organising lots of bits of paper to allow me into a country, one that I am not even sure I want to go to.

Tomorrow I am off to London town. I travel the world, sometimes alone, my first time in Africa for example, not a problem. London? I am getting mini heart palpitations. I am armed with maps; maps to the embassy, maps to my friends, notes to myself about the maps, the said paperwork and telephone numbers. On my last visit I was reminded, "We don't speak on the underground." Maybe it has changed now. Apparently we Brits are friendly now, or for the Olympics at least.

I am a Edinbugger!

Monday, August 13, 2012's a secret

A few months ago I read about Edinburgh's secret Wild West. So, when I was through last week, my friend Jo and I walked to the other side of the city to find the wee hidden alley.

Yippie aye yay!

 We tried to take serious cowboy photos, tricky with passing cars and parked cars on the other side of the little alley, but hey, we had fun!

The scene was built at the back of some buildings for an advert for a furniture shop, but now is a wee hidden gem in the city. It was the start of a great girly day.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ma familia

We are all a bit spread around; New Zealand, Ireland, England, Scotland, Dubai, Kenya (til recently) and now Sweden. 

We love each other, we do. It's not like we want to live in different continents to get away from each other...that is just the way it is for now. Being far away from each other just makes our get togethers more special.

A room full of different accents, sharing  experiences, jokes and adventures of the past few years. Yep, that is how long it has been.

But one of my favourite stories has to be from Fraser, who was retelling a story of a night out in Aberdeen, when a guy attempted to jump him and his friend, and the 'attacker's weapon of choice was a butter knife. My quick witted cousin retorted, "What are you going to do with that? Spread me on the pavement?"


Friday, August 3, 2012

What I've been reading lately

The Olympic athletics started today! As if I am not watching enough TV at the moment, ironic really! Bloody exhausting though! It will be a safe bet to say you will see a lot of the Kenyan flag.

Book description (from Amazon)  -

After years of watching Kenyan athletes win the world's biggest races, from the Olympics to big city marathons, Runner's World contributor Adharanand Finn set out to discover just what it was that made them so fast - and to see if he could keep up.

Packing up his family (and his running shoes), he moved from Devon to the small town of Iten, in Kenya, home to hundreds of the country's best athletes. Once there he laced up his shoes and ventured out onto the dirt tracks, running side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls and barefoot schoolchildren. He ate their food, slept in their training camps, interviewed their coaches, and his children went to their schools. And at the end of it all, there was his dream, to join the best of the Kenyan athletes in his first marathon, an epic race through lion country across the Kenyan plains.

With global attention on both the London Marathon in April 2012 and the London Olympics in the summer, there has never been a more exciting time to experience what it is really like to train and race with the stars of distance running.

My thoughts -

I knew very little about this book before I read it. I started it two weeks after I ran Lewa and as I read it I kept thinking, 'See, it was OK to find Lewa tough!'

Running my first half marathon in Uganda a couple of years ago, I will always remember the sound of the elite, mostly Kenyan, runners pass as they looped me, thinking, 'How do they do it?'

Kenyan runners are beautiful to watch, even as I struggled on the Lewa run, I cheered on the Gladys Otero who passed me to be the first female in for the full marathon in 2 hours 48 min.

Although Finn is a very good runner, he too is always in awe of these Kenyan runners, who continue to break records and make it look so easy. Although Finn starts his research and his time in Kenya researching the barefoot strategy, to find out if that is the reasons why Kenyans are such good runners, it is quite obvious from early on that it is a number of factors, not one, that make Kenyans so fast: The drive and hunger to do well, the simple fat-free diet, the altitude, the understanding of 'rest' in the day, the hard-working lifestyle from a young age etc.

I saw a young muzungu (foreigner) wear a pair of 'barefoot' running shoes in Lewa and I cringed. I wondered if she knew how the terrain changed from sand to rocks and wondered if her feet were strong enough for it. I have a friend who relearned how to run, so that she could run 'barefoot', but I didn't think it would be good for the  hilly Lewa course. Who knows? Even Finn went back to trainers during his time running in Iten.

The book is entertaining and well written. Finn focuses on the running in Iten, but he also gives you glimpses into the simple lives of these amazing athletes. The book made me excited to run again, I wanted to get on my shoes and get outside. I love Kenya and enjoy running, so I may be biased, but I don't think you have to be fanatical about running to enjoy this book.

With Olympic frenzy reaching a peak, it is a great time to read this book!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Where is the world is Kenya?

I go to the hairdressers once a year, give or take (!). I look forward to it. I don't own a hairbrush or a hairdryer (shock horror), so it is a bit of a treat! But between my hairdresser ranting about her teenage daughter (whilst I am thinking-'watch what you are cutting, watch what you are cutting...') and conversations with the young assistant that washed my hair...I won't be rushing back.

Let the mane remain!!

Hairwasher-"Kenya. Now, where is that again?"
Me- "Hmm, (Oh My God!!) it is in East Africa."
Hairwasher-"Oh. It is really bad I don't know that in't it?"
Me-"Mmmm (YES!!!!!), welll, you'll see the Kenyan flag lots during the athletics, they have good runners." (Mmmm-what do you say!)
Hairwasher-"I'm just back from Magaluf me."

The athletics start tomorrow! Yeahhhhh! 
Watch out for that flag!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eating out in Dublin

My brother kept asking me what I wanted to do during my wee trip to Dublin, but I was just happy to wander around the city and stop for coffee and then wine breaks at street cafes and bars.

My favourite place was Porthouse on South William Street. We had the best table in the wee restaurant, tucked away in a nook of the room, with a suspended table full (although not for long!) with amazing tapas.

We were sooo full, too full to really enjoy the churro (a Spanish doughnut) with chocolate dipping sauce, but they were delish!