Saturday, 27 August 2011

Surprise Gifts!

When I became part of Team Bangs On The Run 2, I knew I was joining up with some inspirational, kick ass women, but now I can call them all friends  amazing friends; and I feel so lucky & thankful for that.

One of them is Sarah - who is possibly one of the worlds sweetest people, ever. I helped her slightly / barely at all, with swapping her (wonderful) blog from Blogger to Wordpress - a few days later I wake up to these coming through the post!

I LOVE them! 

They've definitely made sitting around inside with this silly ankle of mine a bit more pleasant.

So, thank you so much.

Have a nice Bank Holiday all!



Friday, 26 August 2011

Year Abroad 101!

Picture perfect view, right?

I came back from my Year Abroad in June. I had spent 9, wonderful months in Estepa; a small village of 12,000 people, two hours east of Seville. When you imagine traditional - middle of nowhere - white piso Spain, this place was it

From a young age I had always wanted to live in another country; where no one knew who I was, where I could dive head first into the culture and completely surround myself with a new language.

Last year was just that.

But, before you get there you are faced with, what I can only describe as - the biggest amount of emotional stress I've ever had to deal with in my life so far. I thought I was being dramatic, until I was contacted by a few people who are actually doing the same thing this year, and facing a few similar problems. So this is just a little blog post on how to get through your Year Abroad, the lead up, the essentials etc!

Before you go -  Goodbye's. Packing. Photocopies.

If you're as nervous a person as me... Um, good luck. I found the run up to leaving horrific. I wish I was kidding. BUT - you WILL be okay. Once you get there, I promise you will wonder what you were ever nervous about. If I can do it and come out the other side smiling, so can you!

Packing - pack light. I didn't. In fact I brought two 22kg suitcases, and then an extra suitcase back with me every time I went back - making moving back home... well, interesting. Thank you sinmaletas!

So - back basics, pack winter clothesyes, it will definitely get cold, even if you're in the South of Spain, Sam, take a rucksack / travel bag if you plan on travelling around your country, laptopdictionaries, notebooks, camera, ear plugs (in case you have extremely noisy neighbours), a check list of places you want to visit to keep you busy. If you're working in a school maybe think ahead and make a presentation on your home-town, again, something I didn't, but they loved it when I finally got round to doing it. The rest you can buy out there. Supermarkets and cheap 'chino' stores have literally everything you could ever need, from furniture to fancy dres - and if you're lucky you won't have to travel for two hours to get to your nearest H&M like I did.

Photocopies - If you're going to Spain, the one thing you will have to do when you get there is apply for an NIE - National Insurance number equivalent. There's more fuss made about it than necessary, so don't panic. Before you go make two photocopies of your passport. bank cards, driving license, get passport sized photos taken, anything you think important - photocopy it! Leave extras at home in case you lose things, too. All the forms I was given, were wrong, when I got there I had more to fill in and only needed two pictures - so, don't panic. There are always people to help you there.

Investigate - Luckily for me I found two lovely American girls via Facebook Auxiliares Group. They then became my house-mates and work-mates! Even in such a small village there were around 15 of us foreigners; Americans, Brits, French, so never feel alone. Start searching now for other people in your area - there definitely will be someone! Even if you can't find them beforehand, I'm sure you will find each other during the year. Also, get in contact with the old Year Abroad students, your university should have supplied you with a list of emails - and I'm sure they will be happy to help.

Must Haves - Passport. Money. European Health Insurance Card.

With these three things, no matter what you've forgotten, you can probably sort it out (money being the main one). I personally took around £1,000. Being in such a small village paid off, as everything was ridiculously cheap, but as long as you have enough money for a flat deposit, first months rent and enough money for a month or so (just incase your erasmus/loan/wage doesn't come through immediately) you will be absolutely fine.

Communicating - Mobile. Internet. Skype.

Year Abroad Blues not passing? Feeling homesick? Friends, family, boyfriend, girlfriend, dog - they're only a few clicks away. I didn't use Skype too much, but I never felt far from home. Once you realise you can get home in around 2-3 hours via flight, which, is sometimes quicker than generally travelling in the UK, family only feel seconds away.

A few companies that I can recommend (only to people heading to Spain, sorry!) are Yoigo for ridiculously cheap, international texts - even to the USA and cheap mobile phones. I wouldn't recommend Vodafone, for some reason their rates are through the roof. Sprint for contract free, 25 euros p/month internet and for all you TV lovers out there, download 'Expat Shield' you can then watch catch up / live tv from your home country... You can thank me later.

Keep busy - 

I signed up to a gym whilst in Estepa, which opened up new language skills to be learnt, new friends, and most importantly it kept me busy and focused on something else other than missing home. Think of whatever hobby you can and do it. Even think of new ones, join dance classes, learn to cook, anything! Your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy, use it to learn and the homesickness will vanish, I promise.

Once You're There -  Unpack. Enjoy. Explore.

You're there! Living what is possibly a dream for you. As scary, intimidating, unusual and new everything is - go out and take advantage. The months will fly by, I'm still wondering where my time went. Check out the local bars, where, I'm sure there will be a lot of interested locals who want to meet you. Drink the wine, eat the tapas, make new friends (beginning to get jealous typing this). Get out and soak it all up.

Yes, there will be days when you feel home sick, where you can't get your point across in your target language, where you feel frustrated, alone and a bit sick of being stared at like the foreigner you are - but that will pass. Stick at it, do something you enjoy, and just remind yourself why you're there. The benefits linguistically of Year Abroad are more than enough of a reason to keep going.

Remember, this may be the only time in your life you ever do something like this - or, it may be the start of a lot of travelling for you. Either way, enjoy it to the absolute max. Spend less time worrying and just live in the moment.

You will love it!

Got any questions? Let me know.

Happy Year Abroad!


Click to read more about my Year Abroad.


Monday, 22 August 2011

My Week in Photos #2

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Another general update - I feel like my blog isn't exactly 'personal' enough. Whether I'd lose or gain followers from being more open is a bit of a risk, but after all, this is my blog and this is how I shall post :)

I'm having a bit of a bad week.

Whilst posting my "Running Diaries : Part "Struggling & Injuries" - I must have jinxed myself, as I now actually do have an injury. One that is worrying me quite a lot. My right ankle went from a niggly pain, to a full on - walking like an idiot - pain. We're 4 weeks, 6 days until the big Race Day and I am beginning to wonder how the hell this is really still going to happen for me.

the phrase, "I feel like an old creaky table," was also said today, which, can only mean things aren't right.

SO, I'm heading to the doctors tomorrow to hear my fate, which I'm not sure I really want to hear, but this isn't me giving up - still. I guess this is just a(nother) rough patch.

... Anyway, we shall see. I don't like moaning, but this could potentially be 'something,' pretty detrimental to my training.

Filling it with good things.

Last week, I went to "Tropical World" with my Dad.

Because it's currently Ramadan, I thought going for lunch would be out of the question -  um, but I forgot how crazy hot it is TW ie. like a sauna, and felt slightly guilty about the Muslim who'd had nothing to drink since he woke up, now sweating in a greenhouse.

It was a nice little day & a good way to catch up. I also got to see some Meerkats, which, always make me happy.

Another good thing is - this amazing Lemon Drizzle Cake I made on Thursday! (not to, um, blow my own trumpet, or anything)

It was super easy to make, and unless people were just being nice & lying to me; it tasted good too!

You can find the recipe [here]

But anyway, thats about as interesting as my week gets. I'm now resting, resting, resti- zzz... Boring things. I didn't get dressed the entire weekend and sat with my head in my Netbook trying to catch up with the ever looming Uni work deadline.

And I guess thats what I'll be continuing to do until my ankle is better!

How was your week?



Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Running Diaries : Part "Struggling & Injuries."

As most of you know by now (surely!) - I'm training for a Half Marathon, along with 12 other seriously amazing women.

So here's an update.

I'm struggling.

And, I feel like its okay to admit that, because I know with 110% of my being that I am still trying my hardest. Last week I spent six of seven days in the gym; four days running, two days cross training & strengthening, one day rest. I'm putting in as much effort as I physically can, but still I'm finding it difficult to hit basic mileage.

Why? Well, the only answer I have is - my ankles.

Back in March I injured my left ankle good & proper, due to bad trainers (can't stress enough how important gait analysis is) running like a crazy woman; with no plan or aims - I over did it and ended up with an ankle only Elephant Man would be proud of. I rested, for a month, struggled to walk, nevermind run, but as soon as I felt healed I got back on track.

Recently, I had two weeks off to travel. I came back home to new Lunar Eclipse trainers and a whole load of energy to run - now, I don't know if its the trainers or something I've done while walking, but as soon as I attempt running I now get a pain in my right ankle... ?

I felt a definite 'crunch' on one of my runs and I'm trying my best to listen to my body and stop when it all gets painful - but I can't help but feel a bit panicked about it all! I haven't hit more than 3 miles on any run in over a week, I've swapped back to my original extra - special looking, but supportive Nike Triax 14 trainers, I've kept hydrated, done cardio... I'm just feeling at a bit of a loss.

My only plan is rest. Rest for a good day or two, doing no exercise and catching up on University work (which should be fun) then getting back out and just seeing how it goes. I'm hoping it's nothing serious and should hopefully just go away *fingers crossed* but my determination & (possibly naive) positivity remains.

If you like to make all this pain worthwhile - please sponsor us here -> [click]

5 weeks to go...

Click to read past Running Diary Updates...


Wednesday, 17 August 2011


The good old English seaside. You just can't beat it.
Fish & chips, donkeys on the beach, numerous old people, slot machines, bad weather - its got it all.

So naturally while Lydia was here for two weeks, we had to go.

And naturally, the weather was bad - but, I mean really bad. It rained the entire day, and if you've ever been to Scarborough in the rain, you probably realised too, that there isn't a great deal to do.

It was a shame the weather was so awful, but, I guess it was a true picture of the English seaside!

It was still a nice day :)

London, Edinburgh, Leeds & Knowsley Safari Park pictures still to come xo


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

3, 2, 1 Action! [Instagram for Photoshop]

Things I've found - and am quite excited about - Instagram Photoshop Actions!

I am a huge fan of the Instagram iPhone App and I'm constantly snapping away with my little camera, so when I stumbled across this, I was very happy and thought I would share them with you all!

When I first got Photoshop I had no idea "actions" existed and happily edited every photo by 'hand,' which I still prefer if we're being honest, but these are a set of actions I may just start using.

They're super easy to use and just add a little, different element to your pictures.

These two are my favourites!

All of the actions you can find on Instagram are available, and you can even add borders!

I am in love!

Happy Editing!

PS. Let me know if you use them, I'd love to see how to photos turn out :)

[download here]


Sunday, 14 August 2011


 Continuing the photos from Lydias UK trip!

During the second week of her visit we headed to York for the day. York is a beautiful, historic  small town only 30 minutes from Leeds, so the short train journey was much appreciated by this point! :)

I haven't been to York since I was about 10 years old, possibly on a school trip to the Jorvik Viking centre and even then, I still didn't remember much else of York, apart from the smell (in the Viking center!) but when we arrived, I really was surprised at just how beautiful the city was.

The first thing we did was a boat trip down the River Ouse , followed by eating, wandering, a visit to the Jorvik center (still smells) a walk to the York Minster and a little visit to the Shambles, an area of old streets & shops.

All in all, I really loved the day in York, more than I expected. Very relaxing!

(he wasn't moving)

These guys were amazing. We ended the day watching them, a few songs in they had a huge crowd.

I recorded a little bit of their version of Cee-Lo's - Forget You.

Hope you like it! :)


Friday, 12 August 2011

Music Fridays!

One song that keeps popping up on my iPod while I'm running is this -

Axwell - I Found U

It's kind of old, but has a good beat. I love it!

Available to download - [HERE]

Like it?  Tell me one of your favourite running songs this week? :)


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Amble, Northumberland.


I'm doing this photo editing a bit backwards, bare with me :)

So we've gone from Day 1 in Truro to Day 14 in Amble, Northumberland!

On Friday, the last day of Lydias UK trip we headed up North to visit my mum. She and my step-dad (and the dog!) recently moved there and shamefully I'd never been, oops.

We were only there literally about 3 hours, but it was worth the 5 hours travel just to see it. Amble is lovely and quaint, a very quiet area but from what I saw, I liked it!

Firstly we headed to The Coach Inn for food & drinks in a beer garden, that Anni quite liked (a bit too much!)  then to the beach to take her for a walk.

She is very much a retired (14 years young) sea-dog but still as active as ever!

Fin !

Still to come, photos from - Leeds, London, Edinburgh, Scarborough & York :)


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