Friday, August 20, 2010

Edinburgh and the Lakes

The last few weeks have flown by in a bit of a blur with some busy weekends exploring both England and Scotland. I've been getting more involved with couch surfing and cannot begin to describe or explain how awesome the people I have met through this organisation are, and how many incredible situations and opportunities it has provided me! Get into it.. :)

On the weekend of the 13th I headed up to Scotland and Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival where I got the chance to meet up with Mary Beth - a friend from America I made last year while on a contiki tour of North Queensland. We found many things in common and have kept in touch and I thought it was more than coincidence that we were going to be in the same continent at the same time so we had to catch up. She has been travelling through Ireland and Scotland with her Mum and as it was her birthday a couple of days previously I was spoilt with an amazing dinner (celebrating her birthday) at this little Italian Restaurant in Edinburgh.

Last weekend I stayed locally within the Lakes District. On Saturday I drove down to Lake Windemere to catch up with James a guy I had met a few weeks back at the Newcastle CS event. It was his birthday and there were a bunch of his friends that came up for the weekend. On the drive down there I stopped through a few little villages including Grasmere and bought some famous Grasmere gingerbread. Was yummy! As I was driving down, James informed me (when I was half way there) that we were going to camp the night.... no prewarning so I had no sleeping bag! He was lovely enough to give up his for the night. I thought I would be pretty cold but it wasn't too bad sleeping on the floor of the tent. The main problem were that 2 of the tent's occupants (on either side of me) were snoring.... sort of limited my getting to sleep just a bit!! With that group we did a really big walk for about 3 or 4 hours through the lanscape around the lake until we got to the viewpoint.

On Sunday I did some more exploring with Sam, who I met through running club. We went down to Ravenglass and caught the rattey train which is a bit like a thomas the tank engine train (previously used to transport coal or something I think) and ended up driving over to Kendal and explored Kendal Castle and a few other places along the way.

Weather in England (and Scotland) lately has been outstanding!! There have been so many sunny days, and at the times when there hasn't been quite as much sun - well, that happens during the week (where its all cloudy) and then the sun comes out to play on the days that REALLY matter - weekends!!! :)

I've been doing plenty of training - managed another lake swim and did my first Fell (mountain) run up and down Blake Fell which took about 1.5 hours. The running club I've been involved here has been great - such a diverse bunch of people from all different ages and walks of life. Extremely tough sessions, I'm loving it! In a couple of weeks I'm going to be doing a 10km race and there's the possibility of a half marathon if I am still around.

As always, my plans have a tendency to change... I decided last week that I would defer uni for this year. It was a decision I debated about for a while and felt that in a year's time I would be more financially stable and in a better position to work, study and afford to do so. In saying that, a week after I had made this choice to defer, I received all the paperwork from uni (sent the week before) which included the uni timetable (not available online)... It was for 2 days a week at uni. The thing that threw me was I had just been offered and turned down a flexible 3day position for 3 months in London!! So I was a bit umming and ahhing for a while. But ultimately I think I have made the right decision, for multiple reasons. Also, because it is Ilana's wedding in February, I now will be able to come back to Australia for about a month where if I was at uni I would really only be able to justify a week tops.

So now I'm here in Whitehaven for at least another month it seems. The last month has definitley flown by! The department here is great. They have just recruited the new FT dietitian (who I am currently filling in for), but she won't start till probably early/mid October as she needs to give a month's notice at her current job and the paperwork for CRB (police check) won't go in for another 2 weeks and that takes about 3-6 weeks to sort out.

At the moment my 'plan' for life doesn't particularly extend much further than the end of October! I've just been accepted to teach English for a week in Spain the last week of October so will be heading over there to do that. Other than that, time will only tell....

Friday, August 13, 2010

first ever lake swim

Behold the lake i swam in last night!

Think this is the coldest water I have ever swum in! 15 degrees apparently was the temperature.. usually when teaching swimming the pool is 26-29 so yeah a bit cooler!! Awesome experience though, think we swum a mile, probably more, were swimming for about an hour in a big triangle through the lake.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

a weekend in newcastle

I have a few minutes (ie 2hours of patients cancelling and not turning up to my clinic) so thought I would update and catch up on the last week.

So I finished my challenge last week and amazingly did reach my target of $400 thanks to a last-minute donation from an old housemate! Far out, it is insanely challenging to stick to $2 a day. Not because there wasn't enough food. I had leftover ingredients at the end of the week. It was hard because it was so BORING eating the same thing every day. I found I was craving flavour, taste and variety all the time. It doesn't make it any easier when you have people at work offering you food all the time as well.. However I did it and survived! I have been savouring tasty food ever since!!

On the weekend I managed to head over to Newcastle for a couch-surfing event I heard about the previous weekend. For those of you who haven't heard of couchsurfing before, it is an organisation/website where you can either stay with people or host people on a spare bed/couch/floor space. Alternatively if you can't do either at the moment you can just meet up with people for drinks, to explore, show people around. Its a great way to meet people and see places as the locals see it. On the weekend we had lots of different activities including a 5 hour "monopoly" through the city through bouts of rain/sunshine. We had to take photo's and video of our group doing particular things in particular areas. Highlights included asking a random stranger for their interview as you are their number one fan (we found a guy dressed up as a smurf and used him). Our group won a prize for the best video complaining to a cinema employee that there weren't enough Bollywood films being shown.... the guy we spoke to called the manager even though we were all laughing and saying we weren't serious - she got a bit stressed and it took a bit of proving for her to believe that it was for a scavenger hunt dare!

Newcastle itself is a pretty cool town, with some very interesting characters living there. Walking around the streets in the day and night you saw some ahh interesting outfits! There are many many MANY stag/hens nights going on so naturally there is alot of interesting-looking dressed people. I saw a group of 50 guys dressed in kilts, a guy dressed up as superman, a girl dressed up as a lion and a whole group of guys/girls dressed up as cavemen and cavewomen.

Work itself is going well and I have been making friends with Emma (new grad dietitian) and Jamie-Lee our receptionist as they are both my age. Outside of work I have started running again - there is a really cool running group in St Bees that I found out about through Emma. Last thursday we had a 1.5hr training session that involved running up the cliffs from the beach at St Bees (probably at least 1km long to get to the top) and then once at the top we were in a field full of sheep over looking the coast and the mountains doing relays and sprints with this incredible view! They have a real character as a trainer and it's a very good social group with an age range of probably 20-60years. Tonight I'm going to join them for swimming in the lakes. I haven't been swimming for a while and definitly not in the lakes -will be cold! Luckily one of them has a spare wetsuit which I am going to borrow.