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Rock ‘n’ Roll in Dublin

17 Aug

It is now a week ago that I went to Dublin to take part in my first competitive running race for almost two years and my first time taking part in the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series. We had a few days before the race to explore Dublin city and a day after to recover before coming home. I had a great time – even when considering that I had to be up early for a 10k race on Sunday. I haven’t been to Dublin for about 15 years so it was a long overdue visit.

Guinness Storehouse and Whiskey

The Guinness Storehouse recently became the Number One tourist attraction in Ireland. The last time I was there it was only a tiny place with guided tours going through a few rooms. Now it is a multi-storey entertainment palace for grown-ups. We were able to pour our own pint of Guinness, have a tasting session and see how Guinness is brewed. We ended up buying loads of merchandise from the gift shop. Travellers’ tip: the merchandise in the official gift shop is cheaper than the shops in town.

We also visited the Jameson’s Whiskey Factory but we went there after the run on the Sunday and so we weren’t up for a full-on whiskey tasting so we tried a few drams of the speciality whiskey there and that was enough for us.

Irish bars and music

We definitely found ourselves in our fair share of bars and pubs. The great thing is that most of the bars have live music on through out the day. In one place we were surprised when the guy who had served us behind the bar spontaneously starting doing an Irish jig. You don’t get that in your average boozer. We also experienced a disgruntled punter walking into the pub, having been released from the police station about half an hour before, asking for his money back for his pint that he didn’t managed to finish the previous night because the police had arrested him. You don’t get that in your average boozer either.

10k Run

The main event – the run – was on Sunday morning at Phoenix Park. I had done quite a bit of training but I knew that I wasn’t going to run a personal best time. Two weeks prior to the race I had run a test 10k to make sure that I could make my way around with collapsing. I did manage it but afterwards I felt terrible and I fell asleep in the bath for about 45 minutes. After this, I decided to aim for a time which was quicker and that I thought was achievable. On the actual day I felt really good and I flew round the first 5km. Then the hills came and it started to get tougher. At 8km when the 1 hour pace-makers overtook me, I began to dispair but I managed to cross the finish line 3 minutes quicker than I had hoped to do. Plus I didn’t feel terrible once I had finished. And my knee is still in one piece!

In fact, I had enjoyed that run more than I had enjoyed and of the training or any other race that I have entered in previously. I’m hoping to carry on with the enjoying my running until the end of autumn.

Food

We tried traditional Irish stews, pies and the like but the highlight for me was the Irish breakfast that we had on Monday morning as part of our recovery. I haven’t tried white pudding but it was delicious. Quite randomly we also ended up eating oysters three times during the course of the weekend. I tried oysters for the first time with a French friend of mine and now I can’t get enough of them.

 

I would love to go back to Ireland again soon. I love the friendly atmosphere (even though there is a long and bloody history between the Irish and the British), the liveliness of the place and I would love to go to all of the literary museums to learn more about the great Irish writers. Unfortunately that won’t be this year. My next weekend away will be in September when we visit Belgrade in Serbia. I can’t wait!

End of July

31 Jul

It only seems like five minutes ago that was sitting down to write my round-up of news at the end of June. But here we are again.

This month I haven’t been very active on the blogging front. I normally try to write at least 2 posts per week. Sorry to have taken your weekly reading away from you! I haven’t been especially busy but it is the holiday season, so I’ve used the time as a bit of a break.

Here is what I have been up to in July:

  • I started a new job on the 1st July. It was the job that I wanted more than anything when I saw the job advert and, after a delay of a few months, they finally hired me. That is putting a long story short but you hopefully get that I was so excited to join the company and get working. So far I have been impressed by the company immensely and all of my colleagues are nice. I am the only female on my team of 10 but I actually don’t mind that. Getting into a new routine, learning everything that I need to do and familarising myself with new policies and procedures has kept me busy. I can’t believe I have been there for a month already.
  • I have been busy on my commute with the latest installment of Erin’s Reading Challenge.  This is my third time taking part in the challenge. I am currently reading my 8th book which is Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. It’s a hefty book (600+ pages) but I am loving reading it and I hope that I will be able to finish it tomorrow.
  • I visited my 31st country in Europe when I went to Luxembourg earlier this month. I counted up last weekend how many countries I had visited and my total is now 56. That seems like a staggering amount, especially when there is so much more of the world that I would like to see. img_6723
  • In the evenings I have been busy training for the Rock n Roll 10k in Dublin in August. I’m not as fit as I should be so I know that I won’t be able to beat my personal beat time in this race but I’m on the right track. Over the next few days, I am going to decide on what time I think I can realistically achieve. I ran 10k last weekend (very slowly) and that should help with the realistic part. This month I have run a total of 50km or 31-ish miles. I have already set myself an ambitious target of how many kms I want to run in August.
  • Due to the nice weather most evenings we have had a BBQ and last night, even though the rain had started, we still sat outside under the cover of the balcony and had a BBQ. It was warm enough to sit out and the spots of rain didn’t manage to get us. We did have a shock when a bird unexpectedly nose-dived into the windows behind where I was sitting. It made an almighty crash. How it managed to regain control and fly off again I don’t know.
  • I discovered an interesting website this week. It’s called Forebears. You can look up your surname and find out how many people in the world have the same surname as you. It even analyses in which countries the name is most prevelant. I don’t know how the information is gathered but I am apparently one of 13 people with my surname living in Switzerland.
  • I also found out this month what 20kg of bread looks like. Tomorrow is Swiss National Day and I had to pick up the bread order for the festivities. I could barely fit all of it in the car. Tomorrow we ease into August with fireworks, festivities and a free day from work. I hope that your start into the new month is just as enjoyable

So long June!

30 Jun

When I thought that May was full of madness, I had no idea what June was going to bring. It’s been another crazy month.

Here is what has been going on:

  • I was in Berlin for a Netball Tournament at the beginning of May. It was great fun and we came 3rd overall. I still haven’t done any sightseeing in Berlin even though I have been twice now. I plan to change that next year!
  • I also had trials for the Swiss national netball squad. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it into the squad. It was a big ask a) at my age and b) considering I have only just come back to netball in the last 6 months. However, I don’t regret it for a second. Lots of people are too scared to put themselves forward to be judged and, even though I wasn’t successful this time, I enjoyed the experience. I did end up in an ambulance at the end of the day. One of my team mates fell over and sprained her ankle badly. The ambulance crew were nice enough to take all 3 of us (one patient and two team mates) to the emergency clinic plus all of our sports bags and overnight bags. My biggest regret was not turning on the blue lights; the button was in touching distance and I’m sure I could have switched it on before the paramedic realised what I was doing. Luckily, my team mate, Emma, hadn’t broken anything but she will be on crutches for a while.
  • I have finally got to grips with my bike gears. It sounds completely stupid that at my age I am only just finding this out. My excuse is that they stopped doing the cycling proficiency test at our primary school the year before I would have been due to do it so I’ve never had the chance. I never liked cycling that much as a child and, when I was at university, it was easier to walk than to come back to where you have left your bike to find out it had been stolen and you have to walk home anyway. It only took 15 minutes to look on the internet and then go out for a ride and try to remember what I had learnt. I still need more practice but I’m hoping I can tackle a few more hills soon.
  • I have completed two more of my 40 Before 40 challenges. You can read about the new sport that I have taken up here. The other challenge I will be writing about this week.
  • Just when I was getting ready to admit defeat and thrown it in the bin, my orchid has come into bloom again. Hurrah! My other one looks like it is ready to throw in the towel though. Boo!
  • I have now finished my current job and I am more than excited to start my new job on 1st July. I am nervous that my expectations are too high but I’m sure that everything will fall into place once I am there and I get started.
  • The heatwave that has hit Europe has been unbearable. The weather can be as hot as it wants if I don’t have to be dressed for the office and can have a sleep during the afternoon. I’ve had to change my running routine so that I go later in the day rather than straight after work. But at 8.30pm it is hotter than 28 degrees and is still way above my optimal temperature for running in. My app pointed out helpfully that my runs have been at an increased effort for the past week – which is 100% down to the heat!
  • I’ve applied to be a volunteer at the Youth Winter Olympic Games in Lausanne 2020. The last time I volunteered at an international sporting event was back in 2007 at the EuroHockey competition in Manchester. I thought it was time to thrown my hat in the ring and become a volunteer again.
  • I’ve also spend my first weekend back in England in 2019. My brother and I were meant to be going to see Jimmy Carr but the date has got postponed. Instead I enjoyed a weekend with family, shopping and eating and watching Toy Story 4 – it doesn’t come out in Switzerland until end of August 2019 and there is no way I could wait that long!

With a new job and unpredictability with the weather, I have no idea what July is going to bring with it but, whatever it does bring, I’m ready!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Netball in Berlin

11 Jun

Someone recently asked me if the reason why I was playing netball so often these days was because the club enters overseas tournaments. It is definitely one of the reasons but not the only reason! Last weekend we were in Berlin to take part in the 2nd International Mixed Tournament organised by Berlin Netball Club.

It turned out to be a bit of a stretch to get the minimum of seven players for the tournament so in addition to myself, Lorna, Jess and Sarah H from Zurich, we managed to beg, borrow and steal Sarah G from Geneva Netball, Elina from Zug Netball and two Berlin players, Danielle and Lili, who had only recently moved to Berlin.

Pink Power: (L to R) Sarah H, Lorna, Danielle, Elina, Jess, me Sarah G and Lili

I began to think if our whole campaign was completely jinxed when half of us got lost in a park on the way to the tournament venue(!) but after finally arriving, meeting our new team mates and changing into our bright pink tops for the first time, we were all ready to get stuck in and enjoy ourselves.

Our first match was against Amsterdam. It wasn’t an easy start at all. By the time we had found our feet we were already 5 goals down. The guy who was marking me had arms like an organutan and was ridiculously quick but it was a good game and we managed to pull back some goals so it definitely wasn’t a white wash.

Next we played Berlin 1. Another hard game and the favourites to win the tournament overall. It was 5-3 at half time, which really showed how hard we were working and that we were already beginning to gel as a team. At half time they made some substitutions and ended up winning the game.

You might think that after 2 losses in our first 2 games that we might have been feeling demotivated. Instead we were radiating positivity (possibly because of the pink tops).

The next few games we were able to chalk up some convincing wins against Berlin 2, Brussels and Hamburg. It was at this point that we collectively realised that we had a very realistic chance of finishing in fourth place. So we decided to keep our heads and aim for 4th which would be an incredible achievement considering we had never played together.

Our hopes and dreams were changed completely when we played Stockholm, a tricky team that I remember playing earlier in the year in Copenhagen, who are well-rehearsed and had some good male players as well. We were leading them at half time reasonably comfortably. In the second half, I was studying the clock, counting down the minutes as I realised that they would have to score 6 goals in 2 minutes and there was no way that we were going to allow them to do that!

We wrapped up with wins against Bielfeld and Paderborn and secured 3rd place. An achievement that we had to pinch ourselves to believe. To celebrate we headed to an amazing cafe that sold cheesecake and ate them in the sunshine in the park – not the same one that half of us got lost in! In fairness, I would have suggested we eat cheesecake if we would have come last place.

Grinners are winners! A pre-cheesecake selfie!

The icing on the cake was at the awards ceremony in the evening. We were suprised to hear that we had been voted “Best Team of the Tournament” by the umpires and match officials because of how friendly and sportman(-woman?)like we were. It was a great end to a great day.

Prizes and well-deserved drinks!

I have now been to Berlin twice and not seen one tourist attraction; the first time I was at a conference with work and I didn’t leave the hotel. So it looks like I will have to go back to play netball in Berlin next year as well.

Thanks to all my fabulous team mates Lorna, Jess, Sarah G, Sarah H, Elina, Danielle and Lili, who are not only fantastic netballers but were great fun off the court as well. Special mentions to Lili, who at 11 was the youngest player in the competition and is a superstar, and her parents and younger brother who supported her and us throughout the whole competition.

Team work makes the dream work!

May Madness

31 May

The past month has got to be one of the craziest months I have had in a long time. I have had some strange experiences this month. I want to share these experiences with you just to make sure that it was the month that was mad and not me.

Firstly, the weather this month has been nothing short of bonkers. I’m not sure has been the catalyst for the whole month or not. It’s been blazing hot one day followed by torrential rain for 4 days. On Wednesday it even hailed for about 30 minutes. It is the craziest weather I have ever experienced in May since moving to Switzerland.

May was also the month that I went back to work after a period of job hunting. A company had offered me a 6 month contract. It wasn’t really ideal but it was an offer and at the very least I was confident that I would be able to learn something new and see how another company functioned. After the first week, I realised why I hadn’t been offered a full time contract: they are likely to be closing the company by the end of the year. It was a bit of a shock.

I was even more shocked when I received a phone call on the following day from a company that had interviewed me for a job back in March. They had decided to employ a candidate who had applied internally. To say I was gutted not to be offered the job was an understatement. They phoned me because the position was vacant again and was I still interested? I had a interview the following week and an hour after the interview they had offered me the job. How mad is that? Of course, it meant that I had to hand in my notice 3 weeks after I started my new job which I felt bad about but I was so happy that I got the job that I wanted so much.

I also went on a personal development workshop. It was an intense event and lasted 3 days. To say that I was out of my comfort zone was an understatement. I was so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn’t actually see the edge of it anymore. We were asked to do a lot of exercises with people we didn’t know which was quite intimidating. But I learnt and realised so much about myself. I realised that the reason that I have come to a halt on writing my book has less to do with me not thinking that I don’t have the right talents and skills to complete a book that people will enjoy reading and has more to do with being judged, both professionally (from the point of view of the book being panned) and personally (that my character will be judged as well). I know that this is just my worry manifesting itself in my head to stop me from completing what I want to do. I found it completely liberating and I have made a concrete plan about how to get my book finished plus some other projects that I have been putting off because of worry and anxiety.

I can’t not mention that I managed to hit the dead centre of the target while taking part in a shooting competition this month. I was amazed! My boyfriend, who was by my side to coach me, almost had a heart attack. He was never expecting that to happen. I suspect he was actually slightly jealous.

The final bit of May Madness was my attendance at netball training this month. The netball club ran a competition that every one who attended every training in May would be win a free drink in the pub at the end of the month. Despite an injury to my finger (which I still can’t bend fully and is painful), I managed to claim my cider!

There have been lots of coincidences this month. Luckily they have all been happy coincidences so I have no reason to complain at all. I feel very positive about the next few months. I will soon be starting a new job, plus I will be going home for the first time this year, I am going to Berlin for a netball competition and there will be big celebrations later in June when the shooting club will be celebrating 150 years as a club. I can’t wait!

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Finger on the trigger

27 May

I’m recovering from a nasty finger injury that I stupidly got while playing netball last week. I say stupidly because it was clearly my fault. I jumped for a rebound but I didn’t have my hand fully open and the ball caught my right index finger flush on its tip at speed.

It hurt straight away but I carried on play in pain. By the end of training my finger was red, swollen and painful. By the next morning I had reduced mobility in the joint and it was painful to bend.

It is only now that I have realised how often I use my index finger on my right hand. I hurts when I type, I can’t pressed down any buttons or even the nossel of a harispray can or perfume bottle and doing up buttons is also extremely tricky. I have resorted to using my left hand as much as possible but, as I don’t write with my left hand, it is not always the best solution.

One thing did improve unexpectedly this weekend. The shooting season is underway again. I was seriously doubting that I would be able to pull a trigger with my battered and bruised trigger finger. While I didn’t manage to shoot consistently enough to win a medal, I did manage to hit a 100! A 100 is the score that you get when you hit the target dead in the centre. That means I hit the dead centre (1cm) from 300m away. How amazing is that! Imagine how much better I would have performed without my finger feeling like it was on fire.

The main thing that I am grateful in in this whole situation is that I managed to do this in training and not in two weeks when I will be away with the netball team participating in a tournament in Berlin. If this had’ve happened in the first game of the tournament, it would be likely that I wouldn’t be able to continue and would spend the rest of the weekend warming the bench.  However, now I have learnt my lesson to be ready with my hands open to catch the ball so this sort of injury should not happen in the future.

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Goodbye April

30 Apr

I’m not sure how a third of the year is already over (edited thanks to help from friends) but I am glad to see the back of April. Nothing bad or dramatic has happened over the last 30 days but over the last two weeks especially I’ve lost all motivation to do anything.

OK, that’s not strictly true. I have done somethings but a lot of the things that I have really enjoyed doing since the start of the year have been almost like a chore to me.

See if you understand what I mean:

  • This month I don’t think that I have managed to finish reading more than two books. I had been averaging a book every two days until the end of March. In April this ground to a halt. It’s not because I don’t like the books that I am in the middle of; it’s just that I read a chapter and then decide to put the book down rather than reading on. I feel like I have definitely reached my limit of trash TV, which has been filling the void, and that I can get back into reading in May. All the books on my to-read shelf aren’t going to read themselves!
  • I’ve had a wobble with my fitness goals. I was super motivated and ready to start increasing my running distances until I got struck down with a bad cold that sidelined me for the best part of 10 days. Getting back into cycling has been ok but the running has been tough. I won’t go into the gory details but I’ve had a very fluid cough which gets worse when I go running. Having said that, I have managed to run 24.8km and ride 92.3km in April. Can you imagine if I hadn’t have been tucked up in bed for so long? In May I am determined to beat these totals.
  • I haven’t made any progress on any of my challenges. In fairness some of them are reading and fitness related but, even the challenges I’ve started that I haven’t had an excuse to get on with, I haven’t been bothered to continue with any progress. My book has ground to a halt. I estimate 80% of this is due to lack of confidence and the other 20% is due to my motivation escaping me. I’m not sure how to tackle this one. I definitely don’t want to forget about the project altogether because I have spent so long on it already. Also I think some of the writing is OK so it doesn’t make any sense to just press delete.
  • Finally (and this one you may have noticed), I haven’t been blogging as much as normal. Obviously having less motivation to do anything means that I have had less to write about. If I am honest, I’ve actually missed sitting down at my laptop a couple of times a week and getting some writing done.

As you can see, April has been erring on the side of being a waste of time. It’s not all my fault though. I blame the weather. (I am British after all). I’ve felt all over the place with the quick changes between blazing-hot-gonna-get-sunburned-in-the-shade heat to lashings of rain to sudden flurries of ice-cold snow. Our optimism of having our first BBQ at the start of April but not being able to sit outside and eat since might be the source of all my de-motivation and disappointments in April. I was cheered up yesterday when I met with a friend who had said she had also spent most of the month moping around not being able to concentrate on anything. Sometimes it feels good when people are feeling exactly the same as you are because you realise that it’s normal not to be feeling like you can take on the world single-handedly every day.

I hope that May madness is going to help me have a bit more of a spring in my step. I have made plans to make sure that I get a few more steps towards completing some of my challenges, which will give me a boast, as well as keeping going with my running and cycling when time allows.

I hope your May is better than your April – even if your April was great!

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