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Taking it easy is harder than it looks…

Not certain if y’all know this yet (can an Irish girl who lives in Tipp even get away with saying y’all? – fuck it, I like it!)

Y’AAAALLLLLLLLL

Getting back in track…

I am not certain how common knowledge it is in this big ol’ world of ours but I am pregnant. Yes, the husband and I are expecting our very own little rugged adventurer who will be raised by wolves (our collie, Jess), throw caution to the wind, roll down hills, dip their wee toes into big waves and probably just live on pizza.

We. Can’t. Wait.

And for the most part I have been enjoying my pregnancy. No real morning sickness, no trouble sleeping, adorable bump and very little unsolicited advice. But there’s been a part of this whole pregnancy that I am struggling with… Taking it easy.

A month after we found out I was expecting we moved into our brand new home. Our forever home, which required considerable work to get it to the beautiful specimen we knew it could be. So despite my husband’s (and mother’s and mother-in-law’s) protest I dug right in! Covered in paint and elbows deep in framed prints and throw cushions. And of course, as you guys all know from before I am quite an active, outdoorsy person and I desperately wanted to keep up my running (while limiting my distance – no more than 5k) and hill walking with the husband and the dog. AAAAAAAND keep my full time job which is a 9-5, 5 days a week sort of scenario. All sounds good, right?

Well that’s what I thought. I had the mentality that I am young, I am fit, I am LOW RISK.

And that’s a great mentality to have, but I needed to be aware of my limitations. Strike that, I needed my limitations rammed down my throat because I was a stubborn ass mother fucker who refused to stop lifting boxes and chasing after the dog!

So I made a rule.

Listen to my body.

It was/is a simple concept. The second something hurt, just stop it. For running, that was about the end of the first trimester. For hill walking, about week 18/19 and for decorating that was Monday. Only problem… I took them all badly. I was supposed to be one of those preggo women that still ate well and exercised loads and looked super duper healthy. That I could achieve all that I wanted while still growing an amazing child! That I was gonna be 100% all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. But I wasn’t, running started to hurt me, so I did slow intervals of jogging and walking. Then that hurt and I had to cut running out all together. Same with hiking, smaller and smaller inclines until I was basically going for a walk. And the decorating became a slower and slower process as I had to take more and more breaks to keep going. The mind was willing but the body wasn’t able.

That’s because the body was doing it’s own amazing thing. GROWING A HUMAN! And as wonderful as that is and as proud of my body as I am, I was disappointed that I couldn’t keep up my normal routine. I felt lazy, unfit and simply no good at being pregnant and carrying on with things. I felt people expected me to be good at it all and I really wanted to live up to that. I was also terrified of putting on too much weight (anyone else have this fear?!?!?) It hurt that I had to admit defeat and sacrifice a little bit of what makes me who I am in order to grow our baby. A sacrifice I didn’t expect I would have to make so soon.

But I do have to make that sacrifice, before it’s too late. Before I do damage to myself, or worse our baby.

They say once you become pregnant you need to start to thinking for 2. But I don’t think that’s right. You are still thinking for one, just it’s not you anymore. It’s your child. And I honestly struggled with that. I wanted to feel equal, to be more than a mere vessel for this new being. That I wasn’t going to lose myself in it all.

That I could feckin’ keep running through pregnancy like everyone says I should have been able to!

But I can’t. And that’s ok, right now I am doing something more important than training for a marathon or climbing the tallest peak in Ireland, or finishing off the guest bedroom (it’s so nearly there you guys!).  When I look down at my growing bump and see kicks so strong I am surprised no one else has noticed them I know that this kid is worth all that and more.

And the best thing I can do for them is just slow down, take it easy and not be so hard on myself.

My husband will be relieved… Now somebody get me a pizza!

Transvulcania 2018

Andree Walkin – Transvulcania 2018 Half Marathon Race Report

I’m sure we all have a friend or friends who rope you into interesting things at particularly vulnerable moments in your life right? Well, I’m glad to say I’ve got a few of these types of friends.  On a car journey following an epic Art O’ Neill 2018 event my buddy and our go-tri adventure founder and guru Paul Tierney mentioned about a group travelling out to Transvulcania Ultra race in Spain in May.   

At that point in time, with my feet still feeling like blocks of ice I could think of nothing better than some sunshine on my bones and a run up a volcano!  So I thought, ‘yes why not? I’ll tag along, support you guys and maybe do the half distance while I’m out there.’

Definitely a little bit delirious from the long night in the hills I really couldn’t think of anything nicer than running up a volcano on a sunny day!  Hmmm note to self don’t agree to anything when you’ve been out running in hail, wind and sleet for the night.

The run-up to May involved a lot of broken training sessions. I did get some quality snow days in the hills with the other Go Tri Adventure loonies but not much consistency, however, I decided to head out, get a taste for the race, soak up the atmosphere and some sun and see what the legs could do on the day.

Four of us travelled in the end. Our travel agent Alan Webb managed to sort flights for the four of us in and out of Shannon which was just ideal.  So off we went early Thursday morning from Shannon. After a nice flight to Tenerife and then joining forces with some other Irish guys we hopped on another short flight to the beautiful little volcanic island of La Palma. I immediately liked the feel of the island. Very Spanish and not at all touristy. After a few detours and tight street car manoeuvres, excellently performed by Loren, we eventually found our way to our air bnb home for the weekend and then hit on to watch the first big event of the weekend – the vertical KM. This was a fun event to see but let’s just say we were happier to watch and cheer for this one – I’m not sure the plane legs would have tackled that climb!  

 

The lead up to race day was very relaxed. For our usual pre-race routine on Friday morning we went for a little trot to stretch and loosen the legs followed by a nice stretching/yoga session on the pier.   Our short run ended up being a little longer due to a slight Tierney exploration but it was so much fun and I got to see some of the gorge route which I wouldn’t get to run and wow it was pretty spectacular. I then took the lads through some improvised yoga moves overlooking the water which they were very open tnd I think I may have converted them:) 

A relaxing day was followed by an early night.

Race morning

At 3am I stuck my sleepy head out the door to wish the boys well and then back to snoozey land for another hour for this chica.  Then at 5am Loren my lovely chauffeur arrived to take me to the bus station. I felt pretty good considering the early hour and I even ended up snoozing again a little on the way to the start line (yes over the years I have learned to take every available opportunity to sleep and luckily I am particularly prone to sleeping on buses) So 50 mins or so later still in darkness we arrived at a very windy Faro de Fuencaliente.  A few moans and groans before the bus was vacated and we all made our way to the spectacular Fuencaliente lighthouse.  

I could feel the buzz of the Ultra which kicked off an hour prior still in the air.  The usual pre-race milling around took place but I managed to just enjoy the atmosphere and find a nice spot inside the lighthouse to stay warm and stay off my feet for an hour.  Then before I knew it was time to hit the start line. The feeling was simply electric there with music pumping and everyone dancing and jumping up and down most likely to keep warm as there was still a crisp chill in the air.  So exactly on time at 7.30am off the hooter went and we began the first climb up the volcanic sand of Malpais.  

After a good slog on volcanic sand the first aid station was 7k in and I think this was my most favourite experience of the . What seemed like the entire population of Fuencaliente had come out at this early hour of the morning and lined the streets to cheer on the runners up the hill to the aid stations.  I couldn’t help but think of the Tour de France as people were so close they almost were touching me. It was some feeling. I think the shouts of “Vamos” and “Go Chica” will stay with me forever.    It certainly carried me onwards – that and the friendly cola bottle guy I met at 15k☺  Before I knew it I was at the highest point Las Desedas and the views! Well I just had to stop for a pic or two.  Again the aid station was perfectly placed and manned and the marshals were so helpful. So onwards again to the final stage and the forest area which reminded me of my local run at Ballycuggaran, every twist and turn was manned with friendly marshals or first aid people and I have to say it was so nice to see their smiling faces.  Before I knew it I was descending (for once) into the finish straight and the area of El Pilar and that was it – my first half marathon-up-a-volcano done! I really can’t recommend this race highly enough.

 

Thanks to everyone for the support especially my travel companions, Ultra men and support crew Paul, Alan and Loren.  Now all I can say is roll on Transvulcania 2019, though maybe with a little extra training and added distance;) Oh and hopefully a few more brave Irish soles/souls☺ to join in the fun!

Course details:  24.28 km 2,097 meters of positive cumulative gain and 689 meters of negative cumulative gain

Fit for FORTY.

A rambling post about a half marathon, back injuries and turning 40.

 

OK, so long story short. I haven’t posted on BitchMittens for a REALLY long time.

 

Partly it was because I hurt my back while weightlifting, and after that, I was so whacked out on nerve blockers and lurching from one cortisone injection to another to be inclined to talk about the uplifting and inspirational value of sport. I’d also set up my own business, and found myself working days, nights and weekends without pause. So that’s basically where I’ve been for the past 12 months. In case anyone wondered! 

 

SPOILER – Working too hard, stressing too much and not sleeping enough, will compound a serious injury and prevent your body from healing.

So that only took me a year to figure it out!

What a dope.

 

Anyway.

 

By the time I had copped on to myself, I’d spent a year off the water, and quite a lot of time when not working bonkers hours, feeling sorry for myself. Rowing is an addiction. Being on the water is a type of therapy. I think it’s especially appropriate therapy for certain nervous energy types. Being off the water took away a type of medicine. I tried a bunch of other things, (clinical pilates, bikes, swimming) but they all felt like exercise, and holy god stationary bikes are just tush-torture. Plain and simple.

 

To make matters worse, I turned 39. Which meant (ominous music) that 40 loomed. 

 

They’re funny things, milestone years. Marketing studies have shown that people in the run-up to these (30, 40, 50 birthdays)  behave differently than the rest. Interestingly, this errant behaviour is in the lead up to the milestone, and not after the fact, as I might have assumed. (Richard Shotton covers this, and how advertisers target those people, in his fascinating book on behavioural bias The Choice Factory)

 

So, you see – it’s official. This year is supposed to feel strange.

 

I woke up one morning and realised that I was middle-aged. And boy, was that a shock! I have no fears about getting older, I relish the idea of being a wise old owl. I just don’t want to groan when I sit down, or forget what my toes look like! But also it kicked me into gear. You only get one life, right? And I only had one back. And I wanted to feel like I did when this header picture was taken, the night after the Irish rowing champs, where I was physically fit, feeling strong, and totally fabulous.

 

I needed to do everything I could to get better. So I went back to basics. I slept. I drank water. I stopped lugging a huge handbag stuffed full of technology and knickers and bought a thing on wheels. I swapped my office chair for an ergonomic kneeling thing. I invested in a standing desk. I kept going back for more MRIs, kept chipping away at the exercises, at the doctors’ appointments. I weaned myself off the nerve blockers and despite my doubts, went for a small operation that would help cope with the nerve pain signals, perhaps for long enough to let me get better.

 

And then, after all that… I slowly began to get better!

 

I emerged from the mist, older, wiser and very much soggier about the middle.  So then I set myself a challenge. This year, I would get ‘FIT 4 FORTY’. I would set myself a series of small challenges, while I am able to move – to help me find my way back to full fitness, before I begin the wild downhill ride of my later years.

 

Randomly I decided I would aim for the following things:

 

  1. Complete a half marathon
  2. PB a 5K run (My PB was 3 years, at about 24 minutes)
  3. PB a 2K erg test (The absolute definition of hell on earth, and even thinking about trying this makes me want to puke)
  4. Be able to do five chin ups (even at my very fittest, I could only do 3!)
  5. Be able to do a backwards crab (I did it in my twenties, so could I get this back??)

 

So I have very slowly set to training, and I have about 6 months to get there. I started about three months ago by walking, then running on sand. I did that for about a month. Then I started running longer distances. Checking the whole time that I wasn’t doing damage. And then last week, I completed a half marathon. I put one foot in front of the other. My only goal was to run the whole thing, and I did! I was hoping to do it in under 2 and half hours. My finish time was a respectable 2.14. I texted my spinal surgeon to say thanks, and had a little cry at the finish line.

 

Now I don’t want to do anything stupid, as I was injured for such a long time, but I also think having goals is a good thing. And so, with help and support from suitably medically qualified poeple I’m going to work towards a few more of these challenges. I’ll try and blog about them too!

 

I want to be #Fit4Forty.

 

Wish me luck!!

 

*****

 

PS – BitchMittens is moving away from Facebook soon, but if you’d like to you can get our monthly roundup of posts, straight to your inbox. You can sign up on the contact form on princessbitchmittens.com.

PrincessBitchMittens is an award-winning, non-profit blog from Emily and Rhona.

 

Drifting – Fast Cars, burning rubber, fur coat, helmet and trainers.

I have always loved the 2 Fast 2 Furious franchise.  2 Fast 2 Furious Number 2 TokyoDrift is my total favourite.  It is about drifting. The best explanation for Drifting is from Urban Dictionary:

 “How to aim one’s car at a wall and miss it completely; drifting is the opposite of grip-driving, which involves taking a corner without sliding. This can be done without any regard to horsepower, weight, or any other factors. Essentially this means any car can drift, however, some cars are more apt to ‘powerslide’ than driftDrifting originated in Japan, thus most cars used to drift are Japanese.”

HEALTH WARNING: Drifting is not for the faint of heart, the poor, or those who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant.

Through a friend on Facebook, I found out about drifting in Pallas Karting – which is a race track literally 25 minutes down the road from me.  They had a Drift Club practice meet on a Saturday just after Christmas.  They advertised free passenger rides if you come early enough.  I got my lovely friend (who watches all the 2 Fast 2 franchise with me) to come to the drift meet with me. We were totally excited. There was a very reasonable entrance fee , we went in and the roar of engines and screeching of tyres filled our ears.  I was super excited to get out of my white van go to the canteen clubhouse type area and ask about the ‘free ride’.  We got a cup o’ builders tea and a sausage bap (I am really trying hard to be a vegetarian/vegan but sometimes you have to settle for food made from anything with a face).  There were male and female drivers and owners, and they were all super friendly to us.

I spoke to the slightly age-inappropriate looking Jay and told him that I didn’t want to go for a ‘passenger ride’ with any young lads. He said that most of the lads were the same age as him, 36! So that worry resolved, off he went to try and get me the ride.

We headed trackside to watch the racing. Well, we weren’t quite sure if it was racing or just going around and around the track.  It didn’t matter, the tunes were banging from massive speakers and it was really interesting to watch the different makes and types of cars, as well as the techniques drivers were showing off.  Though one car did look like a family saloon that hat gotten lost on the way to Tesco and ended up on the track… The laps were pretty fast. In fact, bits of rubber flew over the fence and landed smoking at my feet – how cool was that! I literally squealed with delight (in a very literary Enid Blighton, Malory Towers kind of way – and I hadn’t even had any ginger beer!)

After watching all morning, we decided to head into the canteen area for a soya mocha vegan decaf. Unsurprisingly, we had to settle for builders tea and curried chips. The last time I had curried chips I was 15 years and hanging out at the shops drinking Thunderbird red (red Thunderbird one had a stronger alcohol content, which was v relevant at the time).  As we ate, we sat next to some more age inappropriate boys and I got chatting with them about 2 Fast 2 Furious!!! I could tell they were all impressed with my drift knowledge by the way they rolled their eyes and laughed a lot.  Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed in the young fellas’ cars as they didn’t have roll bars. These are metal bars running up the sides and across the top of a vehicle, especially used in motorsport, which strengthen the vehicle frame and protect the occupants if the vehicle overturns. What a pity!

After our ‘meal’ we went outside to get the free ride.  The drift laps were looking super fast and some of the cars had bits hanging off of them –  just their bumpers and other non-essential bits like that. I was informed that there was a slow lap coming up (however, I think they just told this to me for the craic).  The lovely  Jay was outside, asking me had I got the ride yet.  I replied that I was waiting for the ‘slow lap’.  He just looked at me.  Hmmm.

I waited a bit more, and whiled away some time dancing and also dodging the flying rubber. I then decided that I was just too scared.  So we called it a day and the decision was unanimous to just actually practice the drifting on the road home!  We made a pact to come back to the next drift meet in a month’s time, where I would defo get the ride!

FAST FORWARD TO THE NEXT DRIFT MEET….

So it was the Bank holiday weekend, yippee!! I arranged to meet my friend and sister at the drift track that afternoon. It was cold so I wore runners, yoga pants, tracksuit, six layers of upper clothes and a recycled fur coat.  I didn’t even forward plan as to think what outfit goes with a helmet or post-ride helmet hair.  I was the first one there so I got the obligatory cup o’ tea and had a chat with the lads about the passenger ride.  I was told that Alan* would sort me out.

As I waited, I watched the cars drift round and round. The smell of burning rubber (now impregnating my hair and clothing) came back to me from last time. I love it!  I decided that I was just going to go for it, despite how scared I was. But who would film me? Who would carry my pleather black-with-gold-trim clutch-from-Penneys, and most importantly, who would upload me onto social media????

Hooray; then my ‘crew’ turned up, and social media channels breathed a sigh of relief.

I was ready to go!  I was given a silver helmet – which (thank goodness) matched my tracksuit bottoms and my runners.  I had to take my recycled fur coat off and  I was strapped in at the crotch area which was totally appropriate apparently.  There was a massive sticky uppy gear stick up high in the middle of the BMW 3 series. We screeched out of the pits and on to the track.  My friends said they could hear me scream from track-side!

I proceeded to scream.

There was burning tyre rubber coming up through the car floor, come to think of it I wasn’t sure if the car had a floor.  The driver flung the car around the track, skilfully drifting from one side to another at top speed.

I was still screaming.

Then we went round and round and round!  I thought we had broken down but it was called a doughnut!  I loved it and screamed even more.  Wizzed round the track a couple more times, screaming, laughing and non-stop smiling!  What an experience.  When I we came to a stop and I was released from my crotch belt. I was totally ecstatic.  This must be what it feels like to give birth! It was a life experience!  I thanked the driver and all the lads profusely and ran to the canteen/club house, screaming ‘I got da ride!’

They were all super happy for me.

I drove home in a state of wonderment and with burn smelling rubber hair, with a big fat grin on my face.

I would like to thank the super friendly, hospitable, helpful people at Pallas Karting.  And would definitely recommend it as a fun day out!  They do all sorts of events and are very active through Facebook.  I would also like to thank my friend Bonnie Boyle and my sister who shared the experience with me. I would also like to thank my other friend who asked me if I ‘was the oldest person there?’

The answer is ‘no’ 💗

XXX

BitchMittens Ellen.

 

EDITOR’S NOTES. 

At BitchMittens HQ, we have skydivers, jockers, climbers, runners, jockeys and more. But Ellen takes the trophy for MOST SHIT DONE IN ONE MONTH. Emily once went bouldering and kayaking in the same month. But Ellen’s gone angling and drifting in the same week. She wins. #Badass #2Fast2Furious.

We love her!

*Alan’s name has been changed to protect his identity plus the fact Ellen cannot remember his actual name. (Sorry Alan!)

Please note that PBM does not endorse getting into fast cars with strange boys!

Plenty of Fish in the Lake (POFL) VS Plenty of Fish (POF)

(Where the intrepid Ellen goes lake-fishing and compares it to the trials and tribulations of the online dating site, Plenty of Fish)

 

Every good story starts with an outfit.  Starting from top to fishtail.  For POFL you’ll need a warm hat, long hair down and ideally facial hair required for maximum heat benefits (please see iconic fisherman Captain Birdseye, errrr and yes he is real life), waterproof coat with hood, 16 layers of clothing, waterproof pants and boots, glare glasses optional.  Match everything and give up looking like a lady.

In contrast, POF outfit is usually just slackers clothing but pretending you are wearing something/nothing else, wink, wink.

Launching and navigating of boat on lake is a #manjob so find someone who knows what they are doing. This might require cash.  It also helps if they are attractive too.  Navigating your way around POF through the age-inappropriate ONS (one night stands), marrieds and perverts however, is unavoidable!

POFL Guide will have the expert knowledge to take you to various spots on the lake which will hopefully have fish, Brown Trout, Northern Pike, Perch, Roach, Salmon, Common Bream etc…

POF has loads of old trouts, trout pouts, slimy fish, slippery fish, common fish, wet fish and threesome fish.

The technique required to actually cast lures/artificial bait (which look like fish) to catch the fish can be learned. First you have to select your lure. There are some super camp glitter ones which I highly recommend or ones that look like small fish and even rat ones (the rat ones can also be found on POF!). You attach the lure on the end of the line then you must learn to cast, which requires new brain patterning.  This  is done in three steps which involve taking the lure to the mid point(ish) f the rod on the line, winding the reel till it is level with the rod, taking the two fingers around the line above the metal bar, opening the reel and then bringing the rod behind or more to the side of oneself and chucking the rod (whilst holding on to it) and releasing the lure on the line.

How many stages was that again? OK, so then trying to remember and execute the stages in a functioning manner takes about half an hour.  Once you have done this correctly and the lure has (hopefully) flown through the sky and landed a bit of a distance away in the water, you shut the reel off and start to reel the lure in.  Those are the basics.  Then you have to make the lure look like it is swimming or even better make it swim like a sick fish as ‘Pike are opportunistic and love a sick fish’… also please see POF for opportunists.  This is a skill in itself and is done by keeping the rod down in the water and making the rod go left, right, left to make to lure appear to be swimming.  My lure looked like it wasn’t able to swim!  A none swimming fish!

If there appears to be no fish on one part of the lake the guide will take you to other spots with the speedboat.  This requires more layers of clothes then you think and waterproof boots, the guide will advise you what to wear before you leave for your trip but you can choose to ignore what he/says and remain ‘bang on trend’, freezing and wet and believe me you will get wetter than you think, unlike POF.

It can be truly blissful and almost like a meditative state casting, reeling in, ‘unleash the reel, cast, the lure, reel in, repeat’.  My mantra whilst doing this was ‘please don’t catch a fish, please don’t catch a fish’.  Watching swans fly overhead, a single bee low buzzing just on top of the water, being in nature and listening to the silence and stillness of it all, one feels like one is in a Planet Earth episode without any animals humping or eating each other.

The quietness of the lake is broken by being on a ‘drift’, this is where you let the boat drift (nothing to do with speeding cars, flying rubber and stick shifts, please see next blog) with the wind and current, by the  excitement of a fish taking the lure and being reeled in as the rod bends with an almighty force into the lake.  I was totally not expecting this or mentally prepared, so it involved a lot of screaming and running up and down the boat, holding the back of my hand to my forehead and trying not to faint. I am so not a drama queen.  The fish that came out of the water was massive a seven-year-old Jerkster Perch which was totally the same size of Jaws…I was then instructed to do various things by the guide which I was barely able to do for all the dramatics…Anyways we managed to measure the fish (same, same POF always good to take a tape measure on a ONS FYI).  It measured 1 meter 10 centimetres (you don’t get that on POF so I am told). I had never seen a fish as big as that in my whole life, let alone seen a real-life jerkoff perch. He weighed 22 something or others and then the guide put him back in the water.

We had been on the lake for about 3/4 hours and on the ride back to the harbour I was able to reflect on the experience as a whole. It was exhilarating, fun, and great to learn new skills but it was also calming, relaxing and quiet.  I don’t know how I would have felt if I had actually caught a fish, probably cried!  But I totally enjoyed the experience as a whole.  The main thing was that when I got home I had a tan from the wind!  How cool was that?  I would also choose to have different life experiences such as POFL rather than be on POF FYI, ONS, STI, DHL.

xxx

BitchMittens Ellen

__________________________________________________________________

Notes from the Ed

Ellen would like to thank her lovely guide for the day.  She went out with Fishing Holidays – Pecheirelandepassion.com. You can find them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/peche-irlande-passion-107397099307685/.

Consider walking…

To many avid fitness enthusiasts (myself included) walking just seems like a non-thing. It’s not exercise, it’s a mode of transport. A way to get from A to B. How could you possibly work up a sweat from that?!

 

Well, what if I told you that it’s not all about sweating it out.

 

 

I honestly used to think walking was the average lazy joe’s method of staying active. Cruel, I know but I had spent 3 years running my butt off to get in better shape and then another 2 years competing in a highly active sport. If you weren’t dead from training it simply wasn’t enough. And with my husband around the only walking I ever did was uphill (in the rain, backwards, barefoot). Aaaaand I live in a little town in the west of Ireland so walking around was just how I got around. So it never felt like a proper way to stay active (though come on, that’s how they did it in the fifties).

 

But over the last few months I’ve had a few Sunday afternoons to myself and the weather wasn’t being a dickhead (when, you’re asking but trust me). And instead of doing some intense shit and then vegging on the couch (and also trying desperately to avoid packing – we’ve just moved by the way) I decided to stick on a podcast (My Favourite Murder anyone?) and just head out into the countryside. Either up a little hill, through some woodlands or down by the lake. I would head out for an hour or two and comeback feel fresh and alive and happy. (That’s me out walking in the snow up above BTW)

 

And it got me thinking about what are the benefits of walking. So I did a little digging…

 

Good for the body

Sometimes it may not seem like it but heading out for a stroll is doing wonders for your body. Walking does way more for you than just reducing fat. It increases heart and lung fitness (always good) and it reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes. How about strengthening your bones and improving your balance? Yes it does that. Or helping to manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes? Absolutely!

 

Good for the soul

As Elle Woods once said in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives your endorphins, endorphins make you happy, Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” This ring true for all forms of exercise, including walking.  A brisk 30 minute walk elevate your mood no end. From your chemical makeup changing in your brain to make you less irritable, to exposing yourself to natural sunlight helping to reduce the effect of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It also can be a wonderful social activity, killing two birds with one stone. Yay for friends and endorphins!

 

Good for the mind

I found this quite true for me. If you go for a walk by yourself (be it with headphones or without) your mind does wander. You think, you understand, you plan, you solve There’s no judgement, no friends or family to distract you, no deadlines and certainly no PBs. Just the breeze and a world of endless possibilities. There’s nothing else to do out there but move forward. Creativity flows from it. I have found it a great way to get out of myhead and then back into it again.

 

So if you’re like me and always felt that exercise needed to be this sweaty, red ball of grit and energy and constantly ppfft at the concept of going for a walk, try stretching those legs the next time we get a good day. It doesn’t have to be somewhere beautiful, it doesn’t have to be some big Sunday outing, it doesn’t have to be insta worthy. It doesn’t even have to be for very long. You might be surprised what you get out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surf holiday 2018 Part Deux

When does a holiday become not-a-holiday?

 

I have been receiving messages from my fans about maybe writing part two of my Surf Holiday blog 2018 and have been inundated with PMs asking me what happened to puppy Linda… So here it is!  Part Deux.

I would just like to say one thing about the flight on Arabica Air.  You start off your journey with a televised prayer, which I quite enjoyed however, the voice of the prayer came across as quite sinister, the type of voice that would be in the intro to a film about a plane crash… #justsayin.

After hugging and kissing everyone on my arrival to Taghazout thanking the Lord Jesus for this interesting and diverse cultural hot spot,  I couldn’t wait for my surf adventure to begin.

 

Day two: The married men folk surfed ‘Mysteries’ (the beach round the corner from the house where we stayed) and they went out first thing in the morning.  The house where we resided for the week was on Anchor Point peninsula.  I was told when the tide was high the water came right up to the front step and the only way out was to go over the neighbour’s side wall!  I was saving myself for the afternoon surf.  We loaded all the boards up on two motors and went up the coast looking for waves.  Where we were staying was surrounded by amazing surf beaches.  We passed ‘Killers’ (a Surf point where Killer Whales come to mate) and then went on to Budha beach.  We stopped at the top of the beach to look at the amazing/not amazing waves.  Decided to surf anyways…got dragged, rolled and washed down the beach.

Got out before anyone else and met a man selling Morocco mint tea sweetened with loads of white sugar. He stopped to chat to me.

 

“Do you have child?”

“No.” says I.

“Next time” says he, smiling. “Are you married?” He goes.

“No.” says I.

“Next time” grins he.

 

 

I was thinking ‘next time’ I would be trying to surf better for longer, be with Henry the XIII and have my own baby camel, rather than being married or getting ‘up the cream puff’.

 

The lads finally came out of the water. I had dried myself off with my huge T-towel (which I used all week!)  Yes I know, I am SUCH high maintenance) and got changed.  That evening one of the surfing ladies who I was sharing a room with got sick and was in bed all the next day, the following day the other lady in the room got sick and took to her bed too.  The married menfolk in the next room jested at me for sleeping in the hospital room and said I would be the next to become ill. I never get ill and there is no way I would become sick, no drugs, no insurance, I am invincible!!

But then…That night I woke with stomach cramps at about 2 in the morning, and then proceeded to throw up 5 times in a row.  Excellent. One bathroom, five people, and three of them sick as dogs!  And the lady who looked after the house told us to mind our usage of water as when the tank ran out we would have to wait for the truck to come into the village to fill it up.

“When will that be??” I asked. She just shrugged her shoulders, laughed, smiled threw her arms in the air and shook her head!  Insert shocked emoji here…

Next day I woke up (thank God).  My face was full of fluid under my skin and I wasn’t able to open my eyes properly because of my swollen eyelids.  I then threw up again.  Nice.

 

A storm was coming in and all the guys went out to surf.  I got up and showered, ‘mind over matter’ I thought to myself and read my book.  The water from the high tide and storm started to lap around the house steps and continued to rise.  At the same time it was raining and the roof started to leak. Rain was coming in through the ceiling and rising up towards the front door…

I started to feel sick and scared at the same time.  Then I thought to myself, if I started to clean, everything would be okay!  As cleaning is calming.  After a while, I started to feel even worse so decided that I wasn’t bovvered. If I wasn’t drowned or got barricaded in by the rising water I was just going to go to bed.  So I trudged up the water-soaked and soggy landing to bed.

Spent the next few days being obsessed with the open sewage system that was Taghazout and Anchor Point.  Where we live we had to go through an alleyway in between houses to get to the cars.  The alleyway always smelt of raw sewage and made me gag.  I am so not hard.  I looked up and tried to work out the plumbing system of the three storey buildings in the stench of the morning light.  I am not a plumber but I could clearly see what looked like the plumbing from the toilets being linked up to a downpipe which stopped at the pavement to flow into the alleyway which ran into the sea. Insert green gag emoji here.

The beaches around Anchor Point had amazing, fun and exotic names.  Paradise Beach was one that stood out.  For its idealistic name however, when we got there it was a swirling mess of rock, sand, glass, plastic and shite.  With dilapidated buildings adjacent to it and no sick peeps facilities.  The surf was big and messy.  It was all too much for my stomach I had to go home and lay down whilst the others surfed.

 

 

Evening meals (when everyone was well) was an experience in itself.  You would sit on tables on the main street in the balmy, dusky evening.  The road and paths had been dug up in Taghazout to allow pipes to be laid but they hadn’t got round to put the tarmac back so the street was made of sand, dust, rubble, and pipes.  Insurance companies ‘where there’s a blame there’s a claim’ would have had a field day here. Always eat hot food, no salads, no ice.  The food was actually very tasty (my stomach is churning just thinking about it and writing it). Tagines were the main dishes, which were super hot and came with no germs or alcohol FYI. Or alternatively, you could sit by the water’s edge and watch the waves. Hash Point was a stunning location to watch the sun set and to see amazing surfers wading out through raw sewage outlets…

“Every now and then a waft of ploppsies would rise up from the sea and lodge in one’s nostril hair.”

You would sit there mesmerised by the surf, the waves and the skill of the surfers whilst ordering food and every now and then a waft of ploppsies would rise up from the sea and lodge in one’s nostril hair (of which I don’t have).  The smell would get too much and one would have to retract to an inside location to eat one’s food.  Which by now consisted of anything which had been burnt to f*ck or in a sealed jar. All served to you and prepared by men.

Where are the women?  Ummmm…not sure how I am feeling about this diverse culture.

Last day of ‘holiday’ whhhhhoopooopppppiiiieeeee…and the snow starts piling into Dubbers airport.  Holy Mary Mother of God just please get me home!  This is soooo unlike me I never wanna go home.  The ‘cultural experience’ has been too much on my immune and nasal system.

The last night the ‘duirty’ ladies myself included decided to go to a Hamman this was situated in Banana village along from Banana Beach, where they sold bananas near a beach which also was covered in shite, plastic, glass and more human waste as the river had been high the night before.  The Hammam was an amazing OCD, clean, cleaning dream!  Take all your clothes off apart from you bikini bottoms, and you are given a big bucket and inside that is a small bucket.

 

I asked the sensible, normal, factual question.

‘Will my contact lenses steam up?’

 

 

You go through a door and end up in two big, white tiled, hot steamy rooms filled with ladies laying about, sitting down and washing.  You can purchase a mitten and exfoliation products along with what only can be described as fabric softener for the skin.  All the ladies washed themselves, each other and small children.  There was also a massive squidgy to clean your area (I mean where you sat down not the lady garden).  I was in cleanliness heaven.  Why didn’t we go here at the beginning of the holiday and every night?  The entrance fee was only 12 dirham €1.2.  We came out smelling and looking amazing like clean, soft, slightly paler (scrubbed off some of my tan/dirt) ladies.

Went to bed happy then had to be up at 2 am to (hopefully) get flight back home.  Thank Alluh Akbar flight was the first flight into Dubbers after a massive snow storm.  And another thing!! I so want the call to prayer as a ringtone for my phone.

 

The lessons to be learned from this experience are:

 

  1. Don’t try and self-cure with Diet Coke.

  2. Sometimes you need to get over a ‘holiday’ by booking another holiday.

  3. That I am truly grateful for covered sewage systems.

 

My stomach is still gurgling but every drink, yoghurt and live good bacteria tablet is now my new bestie.  Back to teaching yoga…sitting in swatstikasana (cross leg) and jumping back into (chaturanga) plank; you trying doing that with diarrhoea 💗

Namaste,

 

 

BitchMittens Ellen

NB Linda the puppy was fine she didn’t get left on the shelf and her owner appeared to be minding her well.

Surf holiday 2018 Day Fecking One

Or…

How important is it to have a towel/correct towel on holidays/in life.

Packing is a good way to start any holiday!  Automatically assuming that there would be a towel/serval towels at surf holiday accommodation.  I always travel light with as much inappropriate, non-practical clothing as I can fit into my hand (job) luggage…aka NO towel EVER required, Jah will provide.  High five myself for fitting everything into my hand luggage case and in my friend’s massive suitcase which can carry two whole huge bags of toiletries. I was told in the departures queue that there were a couple of towels knocking about (let’s face it there always are a couple) in the holiday house. Boom! Sorted.
We arrived at our location in Anchor Point, Morocco at about five pm  that evening, after getting boards and a FREE medium ladies, cool Capri pant, 3/4 sleeved wetsuit for myself… Obvs everyone else had checked in massive luggage with warm wetsuits!  The sun was out, the boards were on the roof and too excited about practicalities, I changed into my tiny FREE wetsuit (no booties or flip-flops). Hey, it was warm and there were only a token amount of rocks, boulders, dog shite and broken glass to overcome on the way to the beach. Be GRAND. Totally ignoring all instructions about lockboxes (something you can put keys in with a four-digit combination code); there were two apparently; one attached to the car for the car keys and one attached to the balcony table for the house keys with different number codes. So that is 2 two sets of codes, with 4 numbers each in random orders…
Given it took me SIX YEARS to memorise my own mobile phone number there was no chance of me trying to remember any of these, obvs.
Whooooooo weeeeeee there are camels on the beach (OK one camel) the sun is setting and the water is, well coolish actually…So I jump into the sea with my 9 foot Bic, (which is a make of board not a large lady razor/pen).  As normal, everyone paddles out far further than myself as I am too excited looking at the camel, squealing at the jumping fish and getting dragged out by the current, with my now drafty backless Barbie sized wetsuit (bearing in mind I am six foot one with average size boobaloobas, which are amazing.)
After getting dragged around in the sea catching a few junior waves as the sun was setting over the Atlantic Ocean, I decided to get out, to make my way across the pebbly, bouldery beach to the cars where one of the lock boxes is dangling from the back undercarriage. I remembered where one of the boxes are! How great am I!  Unable to recall from my imaginary imagination what the code was for the first lockbox, I just started yanking it.  One of the locals came up to me thinking I was breaking into the car! Moroccan carpark neighbourhood watch?
He started to ask me what I was doing!  By now it was getting dark, I was freezing cold and my fingers had started to go white. He then managed to convince me to look after his tiny puppy called Linda, who would be asleep ‘on the shelf’ (I know how that feels luv), whilst he goes into Taghazout town centre for the night!  Okay I reply.
I cannot get into the car, however, I know where the second lockbox is, right?  So I make the journey from the car down and across the rocks with my white fingers, backless wetsuit, carrying a nine-foot board.  Barefoot. I find the second lock box locked under the table. I can barely make out the numbers (that I don’t know the code to) in the failing light. So my next super great idea was to go back to the car, minus the board and somehow the first lockbox would have magically opened!
Errrrr it hadn’t.
And what about Linda the puppy what time were my puppy sitting duties due to commence? Did she have a blanket? Food? What would I do if she started to cry, what would Linda do if I started to cry!
Oh it was all too much responsibility…
Eventually, the rest of the lads came back with stories of lockbox codes which involved their ages and a blow job (69) and ages of women they would like to be with! Totes sense! I cannot believe I didn’t think of that!
By now I am totally freezing and damp! And I didn’t even have a towel!  In the kitchen, there was this stiff piece of blue and white fabric which had the texture of a wall hanging and the look of a tea towel. I instantly fell in like with it!  This 4 by 4 centimetre square of cloth was going to save me!
Panic!  No hot water!  Just get changed before hyperthermia sets in!!!! Apparently, the blue tap is hot and the red is cold, and breathe… I finally warm up  and dry my non ‘medium’ self off with the 4 by 4 square, (who I have now named ‘towel’) He is totally a fully functioning drying implement and does truly deserve a proper name.  Note to self must buy a ‘proper towel’ and discard ‘towel’ I don’t say this to myself out loud as I don’t want to offend ‘towel’ who has pride of place drying of the back of my plastic bedroom furniture chair.
Two days later I am still using ‘towel’ and some of the stains are looking a bit dodgy; I do hope he has not been doubled up as an actual tea towel by my fellow surf buds and I will probs keep quiet if he has! But I truly love him!  Maybe the life lesson is this; Just get any old towel and just maybe he will work for you? But until that day I will keep not looking for the super deluxe, fluffy, well rounded/squared/rectangled, fat, age-appropriate towel!
Yours,
#Bitchmittens Ellen
Morocco.

Get the F*#K up!

I am bad at getting out of bed.

 

It’s not that I am not a morning person (my husband is not a morning person, his whole family are not morning people. Makes me fell like I am super duper good at getting up!) Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, it’s not that I am not a morning person, it’s just so hard. Hard to move and greet the day when my bed is so lovely and warm and so very very safe. But it means every morning I hit the snooze button one too many times and then I am rushing around to get into work, which is only a 3 minute cycle so that will tell you how close I cut it!

 

I don’t like this. I want to use my mornings more. I want a morning routine that has a purpose other than get into to work without being noticeably tardy. I want to do some light yoga, read my book, do a crossword in bed, have a relaxing cup of tea maybe get some laundry sorted before the bustling begins.

 

And since the new year I have tried to make this happen by downloading apps for activities in the morning, by setting a bajillion alarms, by actually going to bed a little bit earlier. But nooooooooooooooooooooooo. I’m still motherfuppin’ sleeping till I need to get gone! I mean, I’m sort of awake but there is this little voice that says ‘sssssh, no, stay here,” or better yet comes up with really good reasons for staying in bed longer. Like, “I don’t neeeeeeed to wash my hair, it’s better for my hair if I don’t,” or another classic “I don’t want to disturb Cormac too much with my moving around, best stay in bed.” This morning I convinced myself (very easily) that 20 minutes of light yoga was simply too much in the morning if one isn’t used to it. That I best snooze for another 15 before getting up to do an nice introductory 5 minutes of stretching and yoga. Did I get up for the 5 minutes of stretching and yoga? Of course not! And I would love to say this is because it’s all dark and wintery but I am just as useless in the summer time!

 

This has got to stop.

 

How am I meant to conquer the world and succeed in my goals if I can’t even get out of bed?

 

This isn’t a “how to” blog post. I haven’t figured this out yet. This is a “help me” blog post. I’m reaching out to you, Bitchmitten readers. HELP ME! Any tips would be appreciated. Any sage advice will be taken. Any words of wisdom will be welcomed. Or are ye all the same as me? Struggling to get out of bed, wishing to hold on to those precious warm sheets, those perfect fluffy pillows. Or are you on the flip side and think I’m a crazy wagon for wanting to get out of bed sooner. Maybe I should be grateful with how my mornings go. I’m sure there are people who wish they had no other reason to get up than to just make it in to work on time, but they have a dog to walk, kids to get to school, a 7am train to catch.

 

And maybe I am mad, but I’d like to get up. I feel if I could get up and control my morning that I can do anything else that day throws at me.

 

A different approach to those new year resolutions

I was thinking about resolutions and how the end of the old year always brings about doubts and thoughts about the new year.

I read this post recently and it got me thinking and reflecting on past years, and past resolutions.

 

1) Why limit it to January to become a better person? And what does ‘better’ mean? Why should you only limit yourself to ‘better’? Why not healthier? Or more self-aware? Or simply just happier?
2) Big bangs never work and imposing lots of change at the same time is a sure-fire way of disheartneing yourself and probably not keeping up that change.

 

Based on that, this post really appealed to me as every month it introduces a new ‘self care’ element rather than self-improvements – making myself better for myself rather than to be perceived as better (oh come on we don’t say we’re going to run a marathon to be healthier, we say it to show off).

Of course there’s things this blog fails to mention, like;
– What do you do when one month is up?
– Do you add the new monthly goal on top or do you drop Month one for Month two?

I’ll let you know, shall I? I plan on trying this and keeping you posted, because after all if I don’t write it down – did it really happen?!

 

From a personal persepective, this year was a really tough one; losing loved ones, moving country, planning a wedding etc. and what really got me through was frankly becoming a bit more selfish. Taking a bit more time for myself. Going for that run even if it meant the house wouldn’t be tidy for visitors. Having that drink with colleagues, even if it meant sacrificing gym time. Sometimes being selfish really saved me. I was getting burned out and I was getting sadder and more tired and the loop was just going round and round.

 
So what appeals to me for this year and this ‘resolution’ is to just take a bit more time and try and put myself first from time to time. I spoke to my firends about this over a few pints, and to my sister-in-law and it seemed a common theme on the ‘resolution’ front – doing something for oneself but to self-care rather than to self-improve.

 

So here’s my proposal to you, by all means run the marathon (I’ve also signed up for a Half because I’m silly and a hypocrite) but try and focus on YOU for the sake of you. Take that time to be a little selfish, accept that the house may not look perfct but at least you get to spend time meditating or running or doing whatever it is you want to do for you.

 

So, month 1 is ‘feed your soul’ – see you in a month.

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