Canary bliss

My boyfriend and I have been on a few trips in the short time we’ve been together, but never out of the country, so going to Lanzarote was so exciting. I don’t like flying but was looking forward to Dom being able to reassure me of what the plane was doing, as he’s an aerospace engineer. This was all well and good, until he got a little carried away with lessons on thrust and drag, which went straight over my head. Sorry Dom!

On the airport transfer, we sat nervously as the bus pulled up outside each hotel, sometimes hoping it was ours, other times praying it wasn’t. We’d gone cheap, and knew it was over a miles walk from the coast, but it was a four star and had good reviews. Finally, we pulled up outside a gargantuan, sandy walled hotel, one whole side of which was glass. Our mouths dropped as we pulled round the corner to see ‘HOTEL BEATRIZ’ in large letters above the glass entrance – our hotel.

‘Play it cool’, we told ourselves, trying to act as if we belonged in the marble-floored reception with high ceilings and plush sofas.

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Getting to our room, we discovered the reception area was almost a ruse to make you initially fall in love with the hotel. Faded pink, textured wallpaper clashed with the deep green carpet, and we were devastated to find no kettle! (As it turned out, I didn’t have a single cup of tea for our entire weeks stay – don’t worry, I’m getting checked out by a doctor!!) Nevertheless, we had a lovely large balcony on the top floor of the hotel, with a view to both the pool and sea.

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It was one o’clock by this time, and we realised we hadn’t eaten since 5am. So we headed down to the town of Costa Teguise for food and to kick off a weeks worth of drunkenness. Our first meal was something I have always wanted to try, squid ink seafood paella. The ink made the dish entirely black and although this meant it didn’t look appetising, it tasted delicious!

Before heading out, I had donned my brand new, Birkenstock inspired, sandals. This was a huge mistake. By the end of the day, I had at least eight blisters on my feet, each more painful than the last. This meant I spent the ENTIRE holiday limping, reapplying blister pads and generally wishing I could be pushed in a wheelchair!

Costa Teguise is on the windy side of the island which, although we still tanned, made it incredibly irritating to lie by the pool for the first few days. Instead, we discovered balcony-bathing! As we were on the top floor, the sun came straight into the balcony, and the thick walls blocked out any wind.

Balcony-bathing came with another pro – topless sunbathing! After caking my boobs in factor 50, it was the most liberating thing! Couldn’t have done that in the fancy hotel on the coast with glass balconies I’d been eying up, ha!

Another way to escape the wind was to explore more of the country, which took us to La Graciosa, an island off the coast of Lanzarote containing only 800 inhabitants and no real roads!

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The island was a paradise. The travel company only did trips there on Mondays, which I like to think is so that the island doesn’t become too touristy, but I don’t know for sure. There were a few cafes at the dock, a tiny police station and medical centre, and that was pretty much it, save for petite white houses and bungalows with flat roofs either side of sand roads. It was the most beautiful, untouched island.

We walked (I limped!) forty minutes along the coast until we found our perfect spot, all of this done with only passing a couple of people. The island is volcanic like Lanzarote, so most of the coastline was rock pools, but we finally found some sand. It was bliss. Crystal clear water looking out onto the rolling cliffs of Lanzarote. Perhaps it was this beauty that made us slip up on sun-cream, which led to Dom burning his arm pits – yes, I know, his arm pits.

Driving on the other side of the road is something I’ve never done before, but as Dom hadn’t been driving long enough, now was my chance. We hired a Skoda Citigo which I named Stacey. She was beautiful, but by far the least powerful car I have ever driven. Driving up a mountain, cliff edge to the right, I got down into second gear to climb the hill and, where my little Citroen would diligently power up the hill, Stacey the Skoda ground to a stalling holt. Very embarrassing and scary, with frustrated Spanish drivers behind and a sheer drop to the right.

Our last day took is to the Timanfaya National Park to go up the volcano. We were taken around on coaches and bloody hell it was terrifying. The coaches wound tightly round the corkscrew roads up the volcanos – roads that I would have been scared to drive a car up! I was horrified when I looked backwards to see a double-decker bus behind us, weaving along the exact same dicey road. I don’t know anything about driving a bus, but I know that driver took a double-decker where no double-decker should ever go!IMG_4071

Lanzarote was beautiful. Full of sangria, carbs and sun. A week of relaxation and exploration, which was forgotten incredibly quickly when we got back to where we parked the car at the airport at 12:30am to find my trusty Citroen would not budge. We didn’t get home until 3:30am, and I was in work the next morning. What goes up must come down, I guess.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Birmingham International Half Marathon: 8 weeks to go

8 weeks to go. 56 days. 14 training sessions. Eeek.
This weeks training:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 40 minute run – 3.42 miles
Wednesday: 30 minute run – 2.65 miles
Thursday: rest
Friday: 35 minute run – 3.32 miles
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 5.5 mile run
I had a break-through in training this week. It was the first time I actually began to feel like maybe I can get through this half marathon without walking. Overall, I’m feeling more motivated than ever to train properly and complete the half marathon.
Training stepped up to 5.5 miles this week. It was the furthest I have ran for three years, when I did my 10k. I ran it in 59 minutes, averaging 10:44 minute miles, which I am very happy with.

In the last few weeks I have started changing my diet to fuel myself properly on training days. Using all the knowledge GCSE PE equipped me with, I make sure to eat carbs before training and protein after. The carbs I eat are always complex, like sweet potatoes and brown rice (sorry for the lack of technical terms, my GCSE’s were 4 years ago!). I fill every meal with green veggies and drink as much water as I can. I’ve definitely noticed the difference since eating properly. I feel I can train for longer and the training I do is more worthwhile. 
One thing I am struggling with is running around the area of Birmingham I live in. Each run means getting beeped at by lads in cars on average 3 times in 30 minutes, plus the added extra of getting invited back to some charming men’s houses – what for, I can’t imagine! I’ve started sticking my fingers up at beeping cars, and telling men that shout where to go (I doubt they can hear me through my panting). Due to where I live, my weekday runs are confined to town roadsides, which is not the most enjoyable. But it gets the job done.
On a Sunday, I try and mix things up. I’m usually at home in my village in Leicester on a Sunday, so running in the countryside is lovely. Pervy men are replaced with cyclists who encourage you on with a thumbs up, or neighbours who tell you to keep going. It also means I can run on varying terrain, which is important as I have had problems with my knee in the past.
This week’s 5.5 mile run was just lovely, and shockingly I am not being sarcastic. The weather was not too hot or too cold, and I felt so strong the whole way. Half way through, untrimmed footpaths meant I had to hurdle stinging nettles whilst running uphill, which was less than ideal. Only in the last 10 minutes did I start to feel blisters emerging. I was still mouthing the words to ‘Footloose’ in the last mile, which I’m sure is a good sign. 

Next week’s long run is 7 miles, and I’m in London for it. I’ve found a 7-mile route around the city centre, called the Grand Tour, so I’m actually excited for it. If I finish it, I’m going to treat myself to a new Fitbit – watch this space.

—– I’m running the Birmingham International Half Marathon in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. It would be amazing if you could sponsor me, which you can do by clicking here xxxxx —–

Birmingham International Half Marathon in T-14 weeks

On 17th July I signed up for the Birmingham International Half Marathon, taking place on 15th October. I planned to blog after each week of training, but only now, in week 4, have I had time to post one. 

So this is it, I am signed up for my first ever half marathon! It has not sunk in yet that in 14 weeks, on October 15th, I will be running 13.1 miles… The furthest I have ever run is 10k (6.2 miles), but that was about three years ago.
In true ‘all the gear but no idea’ style, last weekend I headed straight to Sports Direct and bought a brand new pair of running trainers – pink, of course.
I am going to be following a 12-week training plan I downloaded from BUPA. I will be training at least twice in the week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) plus a longer run on a Sunday. I can currently run 3 miles, so that will be my baseline. As I have 14 weeks to go, I am using the next two weeks to make sure I am at the right fitness level to start the plan, and get myself used to exercising more frequently, especially as I have been doing less cardio recently in favour of weights. For the last year, my treadmill cardio has been interval training: 45 second sprint, 30 second pause/jog.
Today was my first day of training, but due to health issues I wasn’t able to start with the 30 minute run at a regular speed I had planned. For the last two weeks, I have been suffering with light-headedness and general weakness to an extent that I have been nervous to drive. I’m also suffering aches and pains in my back as well as my right knee, from an injury I sustained last year in New Zealand. Today, I went to the doctors and had a blood test for anemia, thyroid problems, and a few other potential causes. I am so desperate to find the problem as the sooner I know what it is the sooner I can fix it and start training properly!
Week 14 Training, Tuesday:
·      Exercise:
o   20 minute speed walk (6.3 on treadmill) on varying inclines up to 4.5%
o   10 minute run (7.5 on treadmill)
·      Distance: 2 miles
·      Time: 30 minutes
·      Calories: 190
I felt surprised with how well I coped with today’s training, after I had blood taken this morning and felt particularly ill at work today. I needed to be very careful as over-exertion can make you feel light-headed even if you aren’t ill, so today’s training was very light. It felt so great to get out of the office and put my running shoes on, even if I was on the treadmill. For the 20 minute speed walk I used a programme on the treadmill where I was ‘running’ around the Grand Canyon. I’m not going to lie, the pixelated treadmill screen did little to transport me from the poorly air conditioned, sweaty gym with hot pink walls, but it was a nice idea. The inclines varied depending on what part of the Grand Canyon I was ‘running’ on.
The 10 minute run was just enough before I began to feel faint. I did notice the benefit of my new trainers. They are my first pair of road-running trainers and are incredibly lightweight and well padded.

Despite this illness forcing me to take it slow this week, I am feeling very positive. Exercise works wonders for my mental health, so training for this race is going to benefit me both mentally and physically. I am excited to see and record the changes in my body and mind over the next 14 weeks. As for sponsorships, I as yet only have £1 I donated myself to check my text donations work!

Tenerife: Beach Balls and Beer Bellies.

2012

Five years ago, when I last visited Tenerife, I was about to turn sixteen. My fourteen year old brother and I got drunk for the first time in our lives on all-inclusive alcohol, which we got hold of using an adults wristband. He threw up black, slimey sick on our hotel room floor. I fell in love with each and every boy my age that I saw.

This trip was a little different. Firstly, my now eighteen year old brother didn’t come, and it was just my eight year old brother and I, along with mum and dad. This time, getting off the plane in Tenerife felt a little like getting off a plane in Skegness, only Skegness in a major heatwave. Crimson beer bellies and bottle openers shaped like willies. Signs for McDonalds 10 metres away, alcohol served with breakfast, photos of what your cocktail is meant to look like, but never will, on the menu. In other words, a holiday for people who want a tan, but don’t actually want to leave England.
2017
I flew out on the Friday separately to my family, and within ten minutes of landing my mum informed me that on Sunday we would be going to our hotel’s sister hotel to a meeting about buying a villa there. ‘Are you joking?’ I asked. There’s not a chance my family would ever consider that, or be in the financial position to do so. ‘No,’ mum said, ‘if we go, we get a free breakfast and £50 off tickets to Siam Park!’ That’s more like it, I thought, anything for a freebie.
The trip to the sister hotel was lovely, if you could convince yourselves the over-exaggerated smiles were genuine, and not just because they wanted you to buy a villa. On arrival, John (a Scottish expat who had emigrated to Tenerife with his third wife just 6 months ago) shook hands with my dad, my mum and I, and high-fived my brother. The receptionists asked us for our life stories and told us theirs in thickly-coated, northern accents. They told my brother he could go and use the hotel Wii, or watch a DVD, or connect to the WiFi, like each option was a special previledge we couldn’t get in England. ‘I think we’ll just go in the pool’, I said.
Like most girls, I set my mind on finding my Spanish prince. Pickings were scarce. Between a sweaty restauranteur who shouted ‘eat here, Barbie!’ at me down the street, a twelve year old boy who made a ‘call me’ sign at me whilst I was on a run, and a cockroach which I swear was giving me the eye, my choices were not exactly plentiful. I chose to stick with my one true love, sangria.

And wasn’t it good. Didn’t you hear? A litre of sangria a day keeps the doctor away, or at least that’s what I was told. Oh, and then there was the pasta. Mum and I very rarely eat carbs with dinner at home, so Tenerife was a good excuse to splurge. Creamy prawn, tomato, garlic and spinach pasta helped keep the boys away – the garlic was cut in thick slices instead of crushed. Though I said earlier that my heart wasn’t won over in Tenerife, I forgot about Canarian potatoes! Potatoes boiled in two tablespoons of salt and very little water, also known as perfection, or obesity.
I also mentioned earlier that we got £50 entry to Siam Park, Tenerife’s waterpark. I’d been before and was incredibly excited. Last time I went to Tenerife, Oscar was too young to go on any of the bigger slides with me – now, he was just too scared. So my dad was forced to accompany me. The only one I could get him to go on was a steep, wavy slide which you road down on your belly. £50 off was not enough to convince mum and dad to buy fast-track passes, so we joined the mile-long queue up an incredibly steep hill, in nearly forty degree heat.  
Dad is 58, and good for it. You can tell he likes his beer, but Oscar keeps him active. Not, it seems, active enough, however. The hour queue, in which we stood facing forwards, up a steep hill and therefore stretching our ham strings, led to him limping for the next two days. When we finally reached the top, we got down on our bellies (on mats) and tried to push off. Dad went flying. Meanwhile, I flopped around like a fish out of water trying to push myself off and down the slide. Not very flattering, and perhaps another reason why I didn’t find my Spanish prince.
On the fourth day, mum was horrified to discover she had let her eight year old son burn on his back. He was promptly shoved into a water t-shirt which he was not allowed to take off, despite the zip at the back irritating his skin. In what may have been a way to punish herself, mum burned also. She decided to buy a t-shirt to cover up, so we marched down to the shops. T-shirt choices were almost as scarce as the Spanish princes. Did she want a pink tee with a bejazzled kitten on the chest, or a bright red one with Bart Simpson mooning? She settled with the kitten, and thankfully wore it insideout.

On my final day, I was treated to a trip to the hotel my family would be moving to when I left. We had been staying in a 3 star apartment, and the splurge had been saved for the 5 star all-inclusive hotel when I left. The hotel boasted two nudist areas (because one just isn’t enough), basketball courts, tennis courts, and a handful of restaurents. Walking in to reception and looking up, you see what appears to be a ceiling full of water. That is, until you start to see bodies in the water, and realise the swimming pool is on the roof top. Thank god it wasn’t the nudist pool.
I watched, green-eyed, as mum and dad handed their passports to the Spanish lady on reception – one of the first actual Spanish people we saw on the trip, it felt like. ‘Where is her passport?’ the lady asked, gesturing to me. ‘She’s not staying here’, dad replied. Thanks, dad! As what I can only guess was supposed to be a condolence for not being allowed to stay at the hotel of dreams, I was allowed a glass of welcome orange juice reserved for guests on check in, win!

I exaggerate, of course. It was a lovely holiday. Thanks for reading! 

Saying goodbye

On the first day of my last year of secondary school, I found out my best friend was moving to New Zealand. I’d like to tell you how it feels to find out something like that. To find out the person you trust most in the world, the only person that has stuck with you through thick and thin, the person who you consider the other half of your pair, is moving to the other side of the world. It hurts. But that is obvious. It opens a hole in your heart that is deep and growing. You can try and try and fill this hole by creating happy memories using the time you have left together, but in reality these moments are slipping down the hole. It means every time you both laugh together, or have a chat about boys or the future, at some point one of you will catch the eye of the other and do that half-smile that means “I’m going to miss this.”