Bowery Mural

Dr... Who!?!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Visited the hospital today for an my 3 month check up appointment with Dr Orthotic! This also means it must be 3 months since I went on the trek! Times flies...

"How's your knee?" he asked in a Glasgow drawl.
"still the same pain"
"You been wearing your orthotics?"
"Nah no really. They don't really fit into my trainers and you said not to put them in the boots"
"You got yout trainers there? let me see them"

He inserted the orthotics under the insole of the trainers I've spent £85 on and proceeds to tell me that the shops will sell you 'running shoes with plenty of support' but that they don't actually work that well. He can tell Mr Asics that then cos I ain't!

"There, go and walk up and down the corridor see how that feels..."
"aye, feels ok"
"Ok I want you to try wearing them when you're running or exercising and hopefully you'll wake up one day and the pain will be gone"!!!!! "I'll get you back in another 3 months for a check up"
Does he think he's God or something??

And that was the end of my appointment. I timed it on my watch and the whole thing took around 6 minutes. I've been walking about in my running shoes all day at work to get used to these damn blue orthotics. Heading to the gym tonight to try them out on the treadmill - we'll see what happens then.

I'm beginning to get really frustrated with this pain in the a... knees! The good thing is it's taking less time for it to recover. This time last year it would take a week, now it's taking about a day. Was out hill-walking on Saturday and the pain was gone by Sunday evening - great! I sometimes get the impression people think I'm having phantom pains and making it up as it only comes on when exercising/hill-walking but honestly it is there. I can't really describe it except it's a jagging pain on impact just below the knee on the outside - worse on decents. All down to my tight IT bands!! Does anyone else ever get this problem or has had this problem? If you're out there - HELP!! - let me know cos I'd like to know how you deal with it and if it will ever go away. Give me some good news??

Speaking of running shoes I spent a nice day out with my Dad yesterday on another one of my days off. He was looking for new trainers for his holidays. We went to Go Outdoors as he wanted to get a few bits an bobs for the caravan too (yes, 'tis true, they own a caravan - oh the shame! ha ha). Anyway we were perusing the boots/shoes/gutties and this blue pair just jumped right out at me. I tried them on and they fitted like a glove. A pair of Inov-8 Roclite 305. Very nice indeed. Dead comfortable. Quite light. Dad tried them on too, yes he's the same size as me, a 4 (he's only a wee Dad and actually he takes a 5 now ha ha). They were indeed a fine pair of shoes but I resisted the urge to buy them and he wasn't offering. I'll try to make up my mind soon whether or not they're worth taking a chance on.

But onwards... i'll continue with the stretches the physio gave me last week. I'll keep on trying to run - intervals just now no marathons! I'll continue the hill-walking. I'll keep doing the lunges & squats (helps your knees apparently and *geek alert* the squat is actually beneficial as it's nature's intended sitting position!). I'll hope this thing gets beaten... one day

Ange xx

It's alright this walking business!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Date: Saturday 27th June 2009 Location: Ben Starav, Glen Etive

"What you doin on Saturday?”
“Nothing, why?”
“We’re going up the hills, you fancy coming?”

I was up at 5.45am!!... on a Saturday morning no less... I’ve not been up this early on a weekend for ages!! Out the door by 6.20 for a rendezvous in the Uni car park before heading up the road to Glen Etive. We stopped on the way to pick up Mark and he told us on the journey that this would be his last weekend as a free man before his wedding to Kirsty next weekend. Congrats to them both! It took us just under 2 hours to get to the parking spot and we waited on the others arriving. Walking today were me and Sharon then her mates, Mark, Graeme, Michael and her nephew Simon. The clouds were swirling all around the summits and were dark grey. Occasionally the sun would sneak a peek through them turning the green of the trees a really vivid shade. The others arrived about 20 minutes later but not before I’d eaten half my piece, Sharon had opened her Haribo Sours and Mark had half a breakfast bar. After waiting on Simon change his clothes we set off down a track and across the river. On the bridge we came across a wee toad that was thinking about whether or not he was going to jump off it. He did... eventually and then swam away.

We headed along the track, quite good walking and started up the shoulder of the hill. We somehow managed to take the wrong way and had to go back on ourselves or straight up a lush green grassy slope, as we did. There was a wee cairn up on the hill and we were struck by this bright blue bird – a kingfisher Sharon said. Everyone was about to get their cameras out at it was a great picture then Simon went across and picked it up. It was a fake plastic bird on a stick; some joker had stuck the stick down the cairn so you couldn’t see it. It was funny. We set off again and kept on going up the shoulder of the hill. It was quite windy but still hot. I was just in a t-shirt. My pack was lighter today than it had been on previous outings but looking at the photies it stills looks too big!! I had my walking poles out too and they are very handy for pulling me up the steep slopes. By now the sun was sneaking through the clouds every now and again and it had started to burn the clouds away. At one point I turned around and it was hitting a plateau so I just had to snap away with the camera. Lovely...

Heading onwards and upwards the path was pretty good if a bit rocky. That was fine though. I’ve trekked the Himalayas! Soon I turned around again and the sun was pretty much out in full now. This was good. Sharon had told us earlier that lightening was forecast, I hope not! Looking up this mountain was an imposing beast with an unrelenting climb. It rises up to 1060m almost from sea level and you could tell! We hit an area with huge boulders all over the place and headed up it, the path or route being a little bit more obvious once you were on it. The poles were now getting in my way and the wind was getting stronger occasionally blowing me over. Was still warm though. I couldn’t be bothered putting the poles away and we soon stopped for lunch at a flattish area before our push for the summit. It was a bit sheltered from the wind but when you stop you just get cold so it was on with my extra long sleeved base layer and my Marmot wind shirt. A good combo I think. Kept me warm in this wind but not roasting hot. The clouds were coming in thick and fast and visibility was down to about 20m. Lunch today was the rest of my honey roast pieces, a bag of salt and vinegar crisps and a couple of M&S chocolate covered peanuts - braw. I also had a mini Milky Bar, a porridge bar, my wee mini pack of Haribo jellies and water but had forgotten to lift some fruit. About 3o minutes later we headed up to the summit.

There were lots of boulders and rocks and the poles were a nuisance, I couldn’t be bothered to put them away so kept hold of them in one hand whilst I stepped precariously over these huge rocks. We could hardly see a thing by now and the wind was stronger but I loved it. We came to a cairn but after much map and GPS checking we were told this can’t be the summit and carried on. It was only a pile of rocks after all. We continued on and seemed to be dong down so we stopped and Graeme had a quick check on his blackberry for pics of the summit. Turns out that was indeed it!! A pretty disappointing summit if I’m honest cos we just seemed to have passed it, the cairn being a little on the small side. So we headed back just to make sure and to get some pictures.

Heading back down we came to a jagged ridge of honking boulders and made our way steadily along it. All the while the wind was still blowing. Down down down we went and by now my knees were starting to hurt, and the soles of my feet were burning. (“That’ll be them boots!”). I could feel a tiny blister I’d got last week when climbing Ben Lomond. I might have to try shoes instead at some point...

We reached a bealach at 767m and had a rest on this huge boulder. Bad move. It was a midge fest and we were covered as soon as we stopped. The sun was now out again or was it that we had just dropped below the cloud blanket. The scene opening up in front of us was magnificent. Blue skies a little breeze (essential to keep the pesky midges away) and sunshine – wonderful!
We stopped every now and again for a drink and this was annoying me now because although my Osprey pack is very good and light and I love it, I can’t reach for the water bottle that easily. A little flaw in an otherwise great piece of equipment. I was time to strip off wind shirt now but I decided to keep on the long sleeves for fear of getting bitten by the wildlife. When we reached the river it was tempting to take the boots off and paddle in the water to cool the feet down but we were on a time limit – one member of the group had to get back to Dunfermline to see his mum and dad in a Gilbert and Sullivan play!! It would have been an ideal spot to pitch a tent and play in the water – lovely.

Back along the track and up to the car it had taken us about 7 hours. Longer than the books say but I’m not keen on the book times or list ticking. In fact I utterly don’t like that kind of attitude. “Book say this.., book says that..” I prefer just to be out there doing it and walking and enjoying oneself not to feel like you have to beat a time. Jees I’d come last every time if I was working on that premise.

Anyway Saturday was a good day out, tough but good. The company was good and you know what I’m beginning to really enjoy this walking business again. I’ve said before that I was feeling a little bit disillusioned with it last year but I must have been keeping the wrong company then. The drive home was nice, I like being a passenger on those kinds of journeys. I got home about 7.45pm just in time to see Andy Murray win his game.

I was knackered, tired, sunburned but thoroughly satisfied with Saturdays jaunt up the hills. I'd been up since 5.45am and went to bed about 1am, tired? - aye!! I will be doing this again...
Ange xx

PS number 10.... ssshhhhh...

Kit: Osprey Talon 33l pack, Berghaus Statis pants, Berghaus t-shirt, First Ascent long-sleeve base layer hoodie, Marmot Ion winshirt, Bridgedale trekker socks, a Buff, Suunto Core Altimeter/watch, 2x Leki Carbonlite Anti-shock walking poles, Scarpa ZG10 GTX walking boots, first aid kit, a compass and map, camera and too many other things I'm ashamed to mention for fear of a lecture. I'm getting lighter though - honest! :o)

Trek: The final act

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Right... this is the final post about my trek to Nepal. An end to the story i began when i came home. To tie up loose ends. I'll try to keep this one short as possible but you know me, this could take a while so settle in with a wee cuppa tea...

For those that are still interested I thank you for reading. To those that are new to me you can check earlier blog posts from April and May for the story beginning here. The Journey

The last posting ended with my night in the Gomba Lodge, Upper Pangboche.
I'd had a good sleep that night, thankful for the warmth when i was feeling crap. Peter had set off with Mingma and the Doc to Ama Dablam Base Camp (hell i wasn't even fit enough for that!). Me, Carol and Daljit headed down the valley to Tengboche with Lackman and our Sirdar, back to that wonderful monastery that had given me comfort earlier in the trek on the way up. This was going to be a short day for us and i was glad. Short day didn't necessarily mean an easy day. We trekked for about 3 hours in total finally, steadily making our way up the slope into Tengboche at around 11am. We headed to the campsite which the porters were busily building and then decided we'd go to the bakery for a cake. After much deliberation I opted for a chocolate doughnut and a cup of tea and we took up our places at a table next to the window with the most magnificent views of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. You must be fed up hearing that but literally wherever you were the views were sublime. The mountains are where it's at! We sat there for about an hour and a half and then went back to campsite for lunch. With only the three of us there it really was a quiet lunch. I was thinking about the others, where were they? was Peter at Ama Dablam base camp? when will they get back?

After lunch Carol and Daljit decided to go for a nap and I went for a wander around Tengboche. I covered that story in this blog post: A Difficult Day

Later on Peter, Mingma and the Doc came back from a successful ascent of Ama Dablam Base Camp. Peter bringing me a piece of rock from there which now has pride of place in my room. He really enjoyed it and had some great footage on his camcorder. We all pretty much hit the sack after dinner and i was out like a light. I enjoyed this sleep as i had the tent to myself!! Bliss. I like camping. Having never done it before in my life previous to the trek i think i took to it like a duck to water. My bag un-packing and packing routine was down to about 15 minutes total each evening and morning. Not bad for a 80l bag.

Next morning I was woken by the sound of the bonging giant cymbal and conch blowing from the monastery. It really was a great way to wake up. We had breakfast and then set off for our very long walk back to Namche Bazaar. This was going to be tough as my fever was still a bit high. I wasn't being sick but felt flu-like. So first it was down the hill, zig-zagging behind yaks and porters going up and down the trail. This was fine apart from the dust and wind, but going down to cross the river also meant climbing back up again and that was painful. I put the sunglasses on, had my buff over my face to keep out the dust and my sunhat on. No-one was getting a look in. I thought head down Ange keep counting the steps, get into a rhythm, this'll be fine. We had a couple of water breaks as the sun was really strong today. We eventually made it to Kyungjuma for lunch but I was so so tired. Doc took my temperature - fever still there. I just sat there with hat and sunglasses still on closed my eyes and had a sneaky 5 minutes snooze. Lunch today was chips, spicy beans and eggs. I ate as much as i could and Doc decided we'd wait here for an extra hour so i could rest - that was an order! I had about 40 minutes sleep and actually felt a bit better for it. Outside groups of trekkers heading home were passing by, our group of porters had caught up with us even with their heavy loads of 30kg each to carry. And there was me feeling rubbish carrying a daysack! I'm ashamed.

We made our way along the trail back to Namche and got there about 4pm. A little later than we'd thought but this wasn't a race. I headed around to the pool hall with Peter to check emails - 200 rupees for an hour - fab! He waited on me outside the Internet area. He probably knew what it would be like to send/receive the emails having been there on our way up. I sat there and cried reading messages from friends and family. An Australian girl was checking her emails too, she was on the way up to base camp. First thing she commented on was my cough, I was hacking away like an old man. Wiping snotters from my nose. Trying to stay composed. It wasn't working. It was time to tell folks my bad news. I didn't know what to say but somehow found the words. I hoped that they didn't feel I'd let them down. Anyway my hour came and went all too quickly and we headed round to the campsite. Peter giving me some comfort after what was a really emotional day. I'm such a chicken-hearted person.

About 10 minutes later Team X-treme returned to camp after a very exhausting 12 hour/20km walk back from Pherice to Namche Bazaar - hence the name Team X-treme. It might not sound much but at that altitude it was terrific. I was soooooo glad to see them. It was fab, the group was one again. I have to be honest here and say i was really glad they were back but i was also really disappointed and a little bit envious of their successful mission to get to Everest Base Camp. It had been my mission, my intention, my dream and now that was all nothing. Tough. I had to fight back the tears in the tent when we were having dinner which for me was 3 bowls of garlic vegetable soup. I don' even like garlic!! My coping method - just don't talk. I seem to do that to cope with a lot of things. Don't know how else to do it to be honest.

We stayed at a lovely lodge in Namche that night and watched Everst IMAX movie on a 15" portable telly. Funny. The next morning i had a great shower and a fresh set of clothes. I'd been in the other ones for a few days and i don't think i smelled! :o)

Today was the last day of trekking - Namche Bazaar to Lukla. It started pretty cold and then we soon warmed up. It was lovely to have the group back together and i couldn't get enough of their stories of base camp. Along the trail we had several stops as Emma had turned her knee coming back from base camp. Late in the afternoon we stopped for Mars Bar and a Sprite in preparation for the final trek up the hill into Lukla. We passed back through the beautiful little villages, our first campsite at Tok Tok and over the many wire bridges. Lukla was reached. I'd forgotten this hill into Lukla was so steep, i couldn't remember coming down that far on our first day! Strange. Back in the Buddha Lodge now there was another conversation about helicopters out to Kathmandu as the weather wasn't looking great and we'd found out there had been delays over the 10 days that we'd been trekking. We were nervous. That night we had our leaving night with the sherpas and porters. We presented them all with tips and the cook had made us a cake! Then Team X-treme handed out Everest Base Camp rocks to those of us that hadn't made it. At the end Saran stood up and did a speech saying thanks to the sherpas, the Doc, the whole group and finally he said he wanted to present something to someone he'd enjoyed walking with who was determined and who he knew would make it to base camp one day. He said it was a rock he'd chosen specially for this person to take away and that it wasn't to keep... it was to be returned one day, and he knew that it would be. He gave it to me!!! I just stood up, cried and hugged him. I couldn't hold back any longer. It was such a lovely thing to do. I was grateful that he thought of me that way.

We all headed off to bed and hoped to fly back the next day. Of course the next day came and went and involved a short walk to the airport (which was located right next to our lodge), through the 'security', waiting in the departure 'lounge', then being told 2 hours later that it was closed, weather was too windy. Back to the lodge and some stress of discussions and packing of bags, trying to get rid of stuff I'd saved for months to buy incase we needed to jump on a helicopter and get he hell out of there. I decided the only thing I could dump was a black base layer, spare batteries and my toiletry/spares bag with all manner of things in it. I just wasn't prepared to dump my kit. I packed my rucksack with my Rab down jacket, my last set of clean clothes, some basic toiletries, water bottles and few other bits and pieces and prayed we would fly the next day. In the morning we were woken by the sound of twin otter planes flying in and out of Lukla airstrip - it was a huge relief. At breakfast we were all feeling nervous and hoping the weather would stay fine for us. It was looking hopeful, planes were coming in and out, we counted them. We timed them. There was at least one round trip to/from Kathmandu then they stopped. Would you credit it, Kathmandu had been closed now due to the fog!!! We couldn't believe it. Anyway after about another 2 hours planes started to come in again and we were off, headed back round to the airport. It really was an anxious wait. You could feel the tension in the air as it started to fill up - same faces we'd seen the day before. We were hopefully on phase 2 today. Lucky sea green tickets we had!! We played more games, ate lots of Pringles, told jokes, talked of what we'd done and then our call came. We were excited. But by the time we'd get to Kathmandu we'd only have 2 hours to sort our stuff, have a wash and head back to the airport for our international flight back to Heathrow.

We got on Agni airlines flight after they took an age to unload the cargo they'd just brought in. I'd counted the minutes. From the plane landing, unloading cargo, loading our bags, loading us it was about 15 minutes! If the cargo are people then I'd counted earlier in the day a 7 minute turnaround. These were the margins we were working on. The plane took off and i can honestly say I thought I was going to die. It was being hit by gusts of turbulence and was so scary. I never really looked out of the window as you could see it going up and down. It was the worst 27 minutes on a mode of transport in my life. I was never as glad to be back in hot, dusty, smoggy Kathmandu...

I won't detail our journey home. You'll have made your way through airports yourselves but I'll end the tale of my trek by saying it was the best thing I have ever done in my life. Yes... I am very very disappointed at not having made it to Everest Base Camp. It was my dream afterall. It means I have an excuse to go back! But there were many many highlights - too many to mention but some were seeing Mt Everest for the first time, that wonderful sanctuary that is the monastery in Tengboche, Ama Dablam - awesome mountain, meeting the great people on the way like Sir Chris Bonnington and Apa Sherpa, camping out was fab and I want to do more, waking up to wonderful views each morning, challenging myself on so many different levels and knowing that I can do things when I want to (but for illness) and finally meeting my fellow trekkers. They truly were a great group to trek with and it was a pleasure to meet them all. They helped give me one the most wonderful experiences I've ever had and for that i am truly thankful. A final mention goes to Saran, The Doc and Mingma - a better bunch you couldn't meet.

The trek has totally given me a new outlook on life. It's funny because you go off and do something like this and people ask you how it was. You reply great, awesome, wonderful, fantastic but somehow those words just don't capture the essence of it and you can't find the words to really exlpain it. The sights, sounds, smells, emotions, feelings. How do you explain it all to people that have no clue that to have a flushing toilet for 1 day was a pure luxury. I try but now some people seem to glaze over and, dare i say it, look bored when i talk about it. How very dare they!! I am still gutted at not having made it and I don't think people realise when I say how much it has affected me as I'm one of those 'just get on with it' people but i think it's manifesting itself in my constant urge to be outdoors now. To get up the hills. To be living life to the full more. To be 'doing' rather than not. Of course people tell me it was a great achievement what I did do and i know that but can't help having a little slight niggly feeling of failure like when your waterproof goretex boots start letting in water... utter disappointment.

To conclude: I raised £4000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care. I can now say I've trekked in the Himalayas. I've seen Mt Everest. I'm somehow a changed person (sorry that sounds corny I know). To everyone out there who has played a part in my journey over the past year, no matter how big or small through sponsoring me, advice, encouraging me, listening to me go on about it all I once again say a final hugI Thank You. I hope you've enjoyed the journey, I know I tend to go on a bit in these posts but I can't help it... there I go again.

Ange xx

A wee cheeky midnight post

Saturday, 27 June 2009

'Tis the season of the festival...

Glastonbury is on the telly just now but I'm not liking Neil Young. Sorry any fans of his out there. I remember sitting watching Glastonbury in 2007 and being mesmerised by Arcade Fire. It was a great performance they gave. The music just seemed to build up to a great crescendo and there were about 15 musicians on the stage such is the size of he band. Here it is incase you don't know who Arcade Fire are.

Bruce Springsteen headlines the pyramid stage tomorrow night and I'm undecided whether to watch it or not. You see I'm going to see him at Hampden in a few weeks and don't want to know the set list in case it's the same... dilemma!

I've not been to many concerts in my time but have to say that Coldplay are still one of the best bands I've seen live. They are also one of my favourites so does that make me biased? Saw them three times now and the best had to be November 2005 Palau St Jordi, Barcelona. It. Was. Amazing!!! Went to SECC in December to see them and they were ace too but perhaps I don't like that huge hall. Or maybe our seats weren't that great... something was just missing.

Snow Patrol are another favourite and I was lucky enough to go to an intimate gig in Edinburgh last year for their album launch. Gary Lightbody's voice just melts my heart! aaaahhhh....

Anyway I digress, the festival music season is here. I love music. I love nice songs. I'll listen to anything once, just to see what it's like. Music i suppose has always been in my life from early on. Dad being a drummer in a band in his youth - no he wasn't a Beatle ha ha. New Year was always spent at my granda's house where there'd be more than a few sing-songs with tunes of old and to this day they are still sung at our house at New Year. Old classics. Music can bridge the age gap, it unites. Why is that?...

Oops, this was meant to be a wee cheeky midnight post and it's way past the hour of 00:00.
Must dash, up early tomorrow, Ben Starav...

Ange xx

One step, two step, three step, four step...

Thursday, 25 June 2009

BBQ at work this fine evening was grand! Nice to get everyone together that don't normally come out of the offices. Granted... there were a few missing, quite a few in fact but one day harmony will be bestowed upon DASS and people will actually make the effort to attend such all too infrequent social functions. It was graduation day today for the students from my department and I am so proud of them all. We had a great year this year, i just hope they can all go on and live to their potential. Some are returning to do postgraduate study in September, some are heading to postgrad studies at other Universities and some are being very brave and stepping into the big wide world to get a job. Good Luck to them all!!

Brigitte is off on her summer holidays from today so it'll be Linda and I left in the office for the next few months. To sit and yap the day away like a pair of old fish wives (if only people could hear what we talked about!! oh no we couldn't share it - Excuse me!! Excuse me!! ha ha), to hide behind our desks pretending to be working by 9am when really we're checking t'internet for any blog/social networking updates (oh I do hope Douglas doesn't read my blog, ha ha, we do work hard Douglas - honestly!!).

I can't talk for Linda but I am really struggling to motivate myself recently. Don't get me wrong, work is great, I really enjoy my job, love working with the fab students and wouldn't want to work anywhere else. I think the reason is it's because this time last year I was busy planning my BIG adventure, buying kit, climbing my first munro, meeting new people, finding my feet on the hills... you get the drift. Now there appears to be some sort of hole... something's missing... what I need is a new adventure to plan. Or loads of mini adventures, I'm still undecided. Never mind, I'm sure it'll hit me like a ton of bricks one day, just like Everest did... hopefully! There have been a few discussions about different things. I thought I had it settled and then I was looking at other things, and back to the first idea and round about again. I will decide.

Ange xx

Thanks idmoore.
Max Richter rocks! as does Paolo...

"So let us change what we can and
Accept what we can't
Impart some of the wisdom
From that tried and tested man..."

Just give me some candy before I go

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The sun is out, Wimbledon is on the telly and graduation is this week at work - it must be the summer then!

Had my first appointment with my new physio today and i knew as soon as i set my eyes on him he'd be my saviour. Regular readers (all 5 of you!) will know about my dodgy knees. It's taken a while to get here and this was my appointment just coming through from the hospital since January! NHS... but, it's here and i left feeling really really positive that the pain might be better and *whispers, might even disappear in the future. Things are looking up indeed.

I'd been through the routine, 3 times in fact. "Put your shorts on....stand there... hhmmm..." after much looking and me walking up and down the corridor a few times he decides my feet do over-pronate but not that much. Only a little bit more than the average neutral foot.

"You have orthotics?"
"any good?"
"nah no really, they don't fit in my trainers or walking boots and i only get the pain when i run or walk!"
"no they don't work for everyone"

After another look at my knees, a few stretches and holds on the table he pronounces... "I'm going to cure this problem for you..." cue the bright lights and a halo appearing above his head!!! :o) I could have actually hugged him!! I hope it works. He gave my legs a stretch, moved them in all directions and then said i have really really tight quads, hamstrings, hip flexors and IT bands. He done this almighty stretch that brought tears to my eyes but afterwards he said it made a big difference. So now i have even more stretches that I'm to do before my next appointment. To be honest i really haven't done the ones the other physio gave me to do for ages... oops! But, this time, it will be done. Every night. Religiously. Cos i am going to beat this pain, right where it hurts, and kick it into last year!!

This is good new as I have plans for this summer, big plans for more adventures and perhaps even some long distance running (that being quite a while off yet though). The fear of the pain has kinda stopped me from going all guns blazing into doing stuff but not for much longer. Holidays will soon be upon me and I cannot wait. First is a long weekend this weekend which was meant to be a trip to the Lakes but that fell through. Still have the days booked off though - result! Then it's my July holidays. Only one week booked at the minute but that will change. It culminates with a trip to London to see Roofus and Fernie. Cannot wait for that and yes I will be doing the tourist thing.

After that comes the dilemma... I still have 12 days holiday to use before the end of September. See I carried some over for the trek this year but didn't really need them as it fell on the Easter weekend and didn't have to use some days for that - another result! So... what am I to do with the 12 days of holiday?? I could book a cheap package deal holiday to some godforsaken place with pale British folk, football tops aplenty and white socks and sandals... eh no, I don't think so. I'll wait and see, I'll wing it, I'll try to be spontaneous and go with the flow, see what happens.

so... my 12 days - all suggestions will be greatly appreciated??

Ange xx

PS a long overdue musical udpate:
PAOLO NUTINI - 'nuff said.
In fact not 'nuff said, as I cannot stop playing that new album of his. Brrrrrilliant!!

"just give me some candy, after my hug" - gorgeous song.

"and the sun sets the scene, while the rain misses me, and all the time I'll be growing, growing up beside you" - just lovely...


Saturday, 20 June 2009

It sits there in the corner of the room wrapped in bubble wrap. One corner of it ripped where she dared to sneak a look but withdrew for fear of what she would find.

3 weeks ago a courier van delivered a huge Banksy print on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Banksy (for those who don't know) is a graffiti artist. A bit of a rebel, a bit controversial but ultimately a genius. He makes you think, makes you smile, hell maybe he even makes you cry. No-one knows who he is and it's all a bit of a mystery... but i digress.

The courier rattled the front door, handed over this massive package, turned around and left. She stood there unsure what to do with it. Eventually she took it into the room and had a sneaky peak at what was inside. There she found this!

by Banksy

Quickly she covered the corner up as she thought it was really hideous. It now sits in the corner of the room gathering dust, wrapped in bubble wrap, waiting for a space to hang. She doesn't really know what to do with it and has sought a few thoughts from trusted friends. Only three trusted friends close to her, outside the mafia, know she had this delivered a few weeks ago. Some have tried to help her decide where to put it. But for now it just sits there. She'll occasionally to 'hi' to it, most of the time just walk past it, not acknowledging it's presence but it's all too visible.

She feels it would be too controversial to hang it out there. Some may even say socially unacceptable. She's scared it'll be a bad reflection on her, that her trusted friends may think she's the rebel but trusts that they do understand. Questions will be asked and she can't really face explanations at the minute. Better to keep it under bubble wrap... for now. There will come a point (and it's nearly here!) that she'll need to take the bubble wrap off, get a hammer and nail and hang it on a wall but for now, it remains untouched.

She loves art. Modern art. Contemporary art. Paintings by Joan Miro, buildings by Gaudi, heck she even loves a wee bit of Da vinci. She had a Dali delivered a few years ago and whilst on a first viewing she thought it was horrible her opinion soon changed when it was taken out of the box and opened up to reveal a colourful, wonderful, bright little masterpiece that now she thinks she couldn't live without.

Maybe she'll feel like that when the Banksy is opened up...

A Grand Day Oot

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Tuesday 16th June 2009

After a days delay due to the rotten weather, and an early away from work I headed 40 minutes along the road to Loch Lomond in a quest to climb Ben Lomond with Mr PTC - you can read his version here.

I'm glad to say my pack was "not that heavy" but it looked ma-hoose-ive compared to his Haglofs ACE L job. I really need to stop bringing everything and the kitchen sink I thought as I tried to hide my embarrassment of my huuuuge pack.

This was my first venture over Loch Lomond way to climb some hills and it was looking good. It was sunny when we set off around 5.30 (give or take 10 minutes!) and I soon warmed up. The jacket had to come off. We'd gone up the Ptarmigan Ridge and met a few folks on the way down. Probably getting home in time to get their dinner at half six. The route up was filled with magnificent views, good chat and lots and lots of information about all manner of things. I was with a walking encyclopedia! Great stuff. Never stop with the info, we can never learn enough.

We wandered along at quite a steady pace (hopefully not too slow?! I'm a bit obsessed that I'm not too slow) anyway next thing I know he stops turns around has a look, gets the camera out his pack and he's bounding up the grassy slope. "Right...go back a bit and walk, look natural" he shouts - yikes! Thankfully you can't really see me in that pic! After a juice stop for a few minutes we were off again. By now I was liking this day oot - a lot. Some of my previous jaunts up hills have frankly turned into hideous affairs with so much competitiveness it was off-putting. But this, this was fine. No pressure and good company.

" On a scale of 1-10 how hungry are you?"
"eh... 8!"
"aye me tae, we'll stop at those flat rocks up there".

We headed up to the rocks and ate our dinner. Couldn't beat it for a dining room with view. The sun was still out and the breeze which was welcome at first soon had a wee bite in it so on with the jacket again. We got on to talking about my dodgy knees and then came the revelation - had I ever thought it was the boots causing the pain? should I get a pair of trail gutties?... hhmmm could this be right? I pondered. I'm not sure, maybe I should give it a go? With that we were off. This is the flat part I was told. Now I know from Nepal that "flat" in mountain terms means up and down like a yo-yo (well not quite) but the path was meandering along this flat-ish area. I was also to find out that half an hour in mountain time means that plus 10 - at least! Anyway I wasn't caring. The views kept coming and a wee lochan appeared. It was just lovely and was my first opportunity to get the camera out and take a few photies...

This was a lovely spot but it was time to head off again. Looking up I could see the ridge - eek! it looked pretty rocky from down here but I'm up for this challenge. We continued on all the while the info kept coming and then "...and that there is Ben Nevis". "where?... oh aye". This was brilliant. You could see for miles all the way around albeit a bit of a hazy, and by now, a dusky view. The wind was a bit gusty and we came across a cool sheltered area where it suddenly died. It couldn't reach us in there. More photie time was to be had and I watched the professional do his thing. No secrets shall be revealed on the process! Then I heard voices. Who is this? A couple of folks appeared from above and then another. Then about 5 minutes later another. They were all wearing shorts and looked like they should have been in their beds at this hour! More photies were taken and the rocks around this area were pretty awesome - Ruth would love this wee hideout i thought. So this one is for you Ruth..

We decided to stay for another 10 minutes here to see if the sun would do anything like form into a great fantastical sunset but it wasn't to be... not tonight. It was a rather good sky nonetheless with rays of sunshine peeping through every now and again. I just kept staring... braw. I was happy.

Next it was time to head up for the summit!! It was up and over and around the rocks for about 30 minutes and then the trig point appeared. This was a nice surprise as i honestly thought we had further to go. Woo-hoo!!!! We both took more photies but i never got one of me at the summit which is my normal customary thing to do. Never fear, you can catch a glimpse at Petesy's blog We got there around 10pm, I think, but the sky was still light and he must have been sick of me saying "is that the time?, doesn't feel like that!" oh and "I'm craving a drink of Irn Bru!!!" I only had water with me as I'd refused a Nuun at the car park. Maybe i should have tried one. Never mind next time I'll take my dissolving Barr's Irn Bru sachets - kidding... no such a thing yet but hey there's an idea!

Homeward bound we headed off down the tourist route and as we got lower it was quite a pleasant evening (and still not that dark). There was noise from the sheep and other nightlife hanging about on the slopes. I was just done saying my knees weren't that bad tonight when i nearly slipped and went over my ankle - oh sh*t, that would've been a disaster but it was fine. "That's them boots" he said. I was thinking it's not as light as I thought it was and was kinda right because I swear about 20 black cows just seemed to appear. I never seen or heard them until we they were there right in front of us. Negotiating our way down the path around the cowpat was getting tough but we hit the trees and then came the midges. Loads of them. They were all over the place and seemed to be taking a liking to my long hair - yuck! Makes me itch just thinking about them. Soon enough we were back at the cars after a thoroughly enjoyable walk.

We said our goodbyes and headed off home. The road home was pretty quiet and i was still craving a nice cold drink of Irn Bru. After a stop at the petrol station in town i was home at 12.30 and hadn't turned into a pumpkin after all!

This was my first proper jaunt up the hills since Nepal and to be totally honest, for various reasons, the only one I've really enjoyed in quite a while. This is what it's all about, getting out in the countryside, walking about the hills, seeing amazing views, in good company with a wee challenge thrown in here and there. No competitive edges, no-one telling you to tick a list. Who cares if you've climbed it 10 times, surely it's the fact that you're out there doing it that matters?

Anyway this was the wee tonic I needed after recent events and for that I'm really grateful. Thank you Mr PTC* for a grand evening oot. Hopefully it won't be the last. :o) Alright!

Ange xx

Mission: Training

Monday, 15 June 2009

I've kinda slacked off from posts about training and stuff recently. Partly cos I couldn't be bothered and partly cos things have got in the way recently. To be totally honest I slacked off the gym too for a few weeks after returning from Nepal. Mainly due to the pain in my ribs and then that turned into me getting out of the habit of it too. I had a wee jaunt up to the hills at Tyndrum a few weeks ago and could tell that my fitness had dropped. Slacker! So i set about getting back into the habit of the gym at least 4 times in the week with my regular Wednesday night long walk. And that's what I've been doing.

I've even been running again, albeit interval running and my dodgy knees haven't been too bad. I just really need to stretch them out - A LOT - at the gym and when I return home. Today's session was the first time that I actually enjoyed the running and could have gone on but the twinges started. I know my limits. My body knows my limits and that's who I listen to when I'm exercising. Thankfully my physio appointment has finally come through from NHS so i hope to be able to get control of this niggling problem that is a right pain in the....

Maybe you're thinking what's she training for now? and the answer to that would be... Nothing in particular - yet!! Plans are afoot and I must make a decision. Or time will be lost. Deadlines will be missed. I will have gone astray...

Ange xx

Happy Birthday Ryan

Hey everyone

Hope you are all well - (all 4 of you! ha ha). I'm making this post about a very important little guy in my life - my gorgeous wee nephew Ryan. He's 3 today and such a great laugh for a wee boy. Never seems to let me down either. Yeah at times i run away and try to hide from him but he always seems to find me...

'Angie, where are you?'
'Angie, you upstair?'
'Angie, you hiding from me?'
Barging into the room 'there yoo are, see ah found yoo'...

He's so cute and a wee poser too when getting his photie took. Here's a few of our precious moments together.

Happy Birthday Ryan, Lots of Love, Angie xxx


Friday, 12 June 2009

So it's Friday again and where has the week gone? Time is going by all too quickly but I just seem to be standing still. Weekends go by even quicker these days it seems. Days turn to nights, nights turn to days and the cycle goes on and on.

"What's the plan this weekend?"
"Nuhin', how?"
"Jist asking"
"What's your plans like?"
"Nuhin', how?"
"Jist asking..."

Ange xx


Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Someone reminded me about this Baz Luhrman song that was out a few years ago: Sunscreen. I thought some its contents were pretty relevant to me at this moment in my life and you might be able to take something from it too.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of '97
Wear sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be It. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh never mind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked….You're not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.
Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don't waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind…the race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself. Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.
Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't, maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't, maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don't be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it's the greatest instrument you'll ever own... Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.
Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Travel. Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you'll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders. Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, Maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…


Monday, 8 June 2009

She sat in the darkest part of the house, shocked, numb and reeling. She thought the hardest decision she'd make this weekend would be whether to watch The Apprentice Finale on BBC 1 or Big Brother on channel 4! Little had she bargained that someone would throw her the biggest curve-ball she'd had in... well in quite a few years. This someone was someone who she thought might have told her the truth. Isn't it just sh*t she told herself as a cold breeze blew in through the half open window. She couldn't believe what she had heard! A shock right enough.

She quickly dialled her trusted compadre on the mobile.... no answer. Sh*t, what was she going to do now? She collected some belongings into her bright orange rucksack and headed off in search of the answers. Answers that no-one had been willing to share in the past few months, what made her think they'd be willing to share now!! Driving along her eyes started smarting, stinging. Tears started to roll down her cheeks. Where was she going? Even she didn't know, anywhere, just out of the darkness of the house she had just left. She drove around the countryside wishing that she could just abandon the car and take herself and the orange rucksack up a hill. She wasn't ready for that though. For although she'd packed stuff, the stuff she packed was no use whatsoever on the hills. Sh*t! Sh*t! The mobile started to flash and buzz - a message. Who was it from? her trusted compadre. They exchanged a few texts but... her battery was on low! Sh*t. She'd text her compadre later. Agreed.

After a few hours driving she found herself back at the dark house. Still numb, still shocked. No matter how much she played this curve-ball out in her mind she still had no answers. She consulted another trusted friend. This one always gives good advice! and so she did. Talking was the advice - She couldn't! Don't push them away came another snippet of wisdom - she was! Most of all and frankly what she needed to hear was 'live your own life' - this rang a massive church bell in her head. She knew her friend was right but it was hard for her. She sat there in the twilight, the breeze flowing in the half open the words going over in her head, numb.

A few hours later she startled herself with a shiver. Brrrrr.... She updated a social networking site and began to wonder. Does anyone else ever get these curve-balls or is it just her? A while later a message come through. What's the trouble? I bet this friend wished they'd never asked! By now she was drained. Fed up. Numb. Sh*t! She slept on it. Do things really look better after a good nights sleep? or was that just the old wives tale she thought it must be? Nevertheless she elected to find out. As soon as her head hit the pillow she was sound asleep.

She woke with a start! Was it a dream? Sadly no. Sh*t. She dragged herself out of bed and headed downstairs. The house seemed a bit brighter. Was this a sign. Breakfast was a bacon roll and nice cup of tea! Would this help her mind to stop racing, thinking of different scenarios, wondering what the consequences would be, how would her life change.... how can she make it change for her, no-one else, just her. She needed to take her friends' advice and live her own life for a change.

She decided a shower was needed, not because she was stinking but because it might clear her head. Wrong. She stood there under the lukewarm water, trying not to let the stinging in her eyes bother her but it did. Sh*t. After throwing on the most comforting clothes she could find she sat at her laptop in the midday gloom and wrote. She set about replying to the friend who'd asked the What's the trouble? question. She needed to vent, but this might be the wrong place, wrong time, wrong person!?! Oh heck. After a fair few minutes of typing she saw a page of blurb. What would this person think of her? Sh*t. What would this person make of her predicament? SEND. It was gone.

The silence she had sat in was broken by the monotonous tone of her favorite sport. F1. She sat and watched the action. This took her mind off to another land altogether. Gave her something else to think about on this day. It was becoming a bit brighter. The hours passed and Jenson Button won - his 6th race out of 7. Fantastic she thought, she'd never really liked that Lewis Hamilton anyway! Feeling a bit better off she popped to her local generic supermarket, that sounds like Frescho, bought food for lunch at work and headed back to the dark house which was now becoming light again. Slowly, but it was changing. Dinner was prepared, telly was on, a few texts were exchanged from a friend checking how she was. A bit better she replied, trying to muster all the enthusiasm she could throw at it.

After a while wittering away time she fired up the communication device and logged in. Ah an email from another. Advice was given, she nodded as she read, and she agreed, she couldn't live someone else's life for them. Yes it's hard but what can you do? As this dawned on her like a sunrise spilling a yellow orange glow on the hills she resolved to make her life a great one for her. To have more adventures, to think about herself for a change, to think less and do more, just to live and getting by wasn't going to be enough now. Times, they are a changing...

Goals, Targets, Rewards & Incentives

Thursday, 4 June 2009

She sat there thinking of a time when it was simple. When the most important decision she would make that day was whether to go to the park or play on her skateboard.....

Ah it was simple when I were a wee lass. Decisions are to be made soon but it's very difficult. Some are important decisions, life-changing even, but some are as simple as whether or not to go to the park or play on my skateboard! :-)

Dinner out during this week was a good wee night. Decisions were made that night about goals and targets, rewards and incentives. It starts now. Wonder when I'll hit my first target? Hope it's soon ;-) Newsflash - another member of the team has hit a few targets. No details as yet but I'm excited to hear more!!

I've sought advice from various sources on bigger decisions and it's not until someone explains things to you and you get an outside perspective on your thoughts that you have a clearer view of what you want to do. But so far the best advice I was given this week was..... smile more - simple!

The most important decision to be made today... should I go to Glasgow after work to find/hunt down that PERFECT dress or should I not bother? The dress is lovely, I've been lusting after it for a while but to drive all the way to Glasgow for it?... The Stirling store is out of stock and the dress is lovely - did I Mention that already. I want it for a party later in July but that'll likely be the only time it comes out for show... but it is lovely :-) Right I've decided, I'm going to go through to Glasgowshire after work, try it on at least and decide if I'll buy it when I'm there. Hey I can always wear it on the hills to get the use out of it! :-)

Now for the more important decisions... These are hard. Where to for my next challenge? Can I even afford it? Will i be able to do it? Will it be rewarding? Is there an incentive? Why do I want to do it? All of these questions must be answered. I've hit that wall on this one. But you've got to see the wall, walk up to it, go up/over/under/around it and skip on by.... it's that simple, so I've been told.... we'll see.

Ange xx

PS music - not updated for a while on this but bought the new Paolo Nutini album, so far I'm liking it!