40 days and 40 nights

33/100 You may or may not be aware that I went on a 40 day adventure through the land of Sobriety. From 31st January to 13th March (well most of 13th March) a drop of alcohol did not pass my lips. It was a very good time over all and I would do it again, but not for a while. This time of sobriety coincided with quite a few changes happening in all facets of my life leading to a contentment with life which I have not experienced in a long time. Was it the lack of alcohol that made it so? Will it last now that I’m back on the booze? Hard to say really, but I am going to make the most of it until then. I think my time in Zambia and Malawi cleared a bit of the muck and mire from my brain and I go forth with a new focus on finding happiness in life. There’s not much to be upset about and so many things to be thankful for. Long may it last.

I went out Friday night to celebrate the end to my sobriety. Before I went out I thought 2 pints would be a sensible amount of alcohol to partake in for the first night and I was going to stick to that. But of course I got invited to the beer festival taking place near work where I sunk 2 pints before I knew it. But by the end of the night I had consumed 5 1/2 pints. I thought I was doing ok, but that proved to be untrue come Saturday morning. (DRINK WATER, COLLEEN!) I slug myself feebly out into the living world on Saturday afternoon for some social engagements, but the pain of it all was written on my face. I didn’t last long. Let’s hope any drinking adventures coming up are slightly more sensible.

Crocuses in Hampstead Heath last week

Crocuses in Hampstead Heath last week

I haven’t got very many photos from life recently. I have been stuck in the office for the last few weeks, which means my photo taking opportunities are limited.  The days are getting longer now and the purple plum trees are starting to hit full bloom. Pretty soon the cherries, apples and horse chestnuts will be in bloom and it will be full on Spring time.  I have been able to cycle into work with less winter wear. Before I know it I will be cycling happily in shorts and t-shirts, which is my preferred way to ride.

St. Pancras gardens in bloom

St. Pancras gardens in bloom

Any who, I have to ready myself for a furniture delivery so I can convince one more person to come live with me. It’s been a pain in the ass trying to let out the 3rd room in my house. I don’t get it. I would have totally jumped at the opportunity to move in to this house for the price I’ve got it up for. People are ridiculous. Any one of you want to move in? Even for a couple months? Extended holiday in London?  Do it!  Ok, friends, have a good week and take care.

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Playing large

(27 of 100)*
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
– Nelson Mandela

As 2014 drew to a close, my mind overworking about the past the present and the future (more than normal), I knew something was afoot. My brain was helping bring me down both mentally and physically. There’s no such thing as repression in the mind. The thought/issue/problem will wield its head in ways you could never imagine. And you may not even recognizing the thing as a problem or outwardly affecting you, but it’s there any ways. The brain is ever so helpful. So with a restive holiday period and three weeks away from Normality, my mind was let off its leash and allowed to freely wander. And wander it did do. Through all the good and the bad thoughts. It all inevitably ended me in a teary mess of confusion and vulnerability like none before. Luckily I had an excellent travel partner who let me let it out in my own time and terms and listen openly and give me feedback. Cheers, Puff.
I want to stop here and say that I would love to one day stop being so vague. Vagueness has been a common theme on this blog for as long as it has existed. I want to tell you about what’s going through my head, but I can’t yet bring myself to do it on such a public platform. There are quite a few of you, both family and friends, who I have put my guard down to tell about it, but to write it out is very difficult to do. I can barely manage to acknowledge it in my own private journal. It is far in my past but it has an enduring effect on seemly everything in my life. Now thinking about it, I believe this blog/writing online for nearly 20 years started from it as well. I’m just beginning to realize all that it affects. I want to change it all this second, but I will have to rebuild most of my brain. Creating new ways of processing and communicating thoughts will take sometime. The best news is that process has begun. l will one day be prepared for full disclosure. Watch this space…..

Ah hem. So, where was I? Oh, back on holz, enjoying the sun. So three weeks in Zambia and Malawi in the rainy season, which was filled with a lot of sun, were incredible. I would write out all the details of the trip, but I believe writing that would be very unsatisfying for me and you probs would just flip to the photos any ways. So let’s save both of us some time. Also, like most travel adventures, the best bits were the anecdotal small moments of the trip. Writing them out and explaining would likely take more time than they did to occur. I’ll will tell you in bulleted format what I got out of the trip or learned whilst there:

  • The most popular beers in Zambia contain corn, which kind of ruins them.
  • “Express train” means something very different in Zambia compared to Europe
  • I have developed an addiction for handmade jewelry
  • Life should be lived in color and warmth
  • Deforestation for subsistence farming is real in both countries
  • Slash and burn hurts my soul
  • Victoria Falls are unbelievable to see, hear and feel.
  • Walking across the top of Victoria Falls and peering over the edge is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done while traveling
  • I’m a terrible artist
  • There are a lot of beautiful, colorful fish in Lake Malawi
  • Letting your guard down hurts but also feels so good
  • I will never again go on a long road trip with an English person
  • We don’t spend enough time playing card games

I think that’s it really. Let’s get to the good stuff: the photos.

Planning the trip from Backpackers

Planning the trip from Backpackers

Big red train

Big red train

Falls

Falls

My take on the very popular stance of local Zambian boys

My take on the very popular stance of local Zambian boys

Falls

Falls

One of many dumb poses for photos done on the trip.

One of many dumb poses for photos done on the trip.

How big are you C-A? SOOO BIG!

How big are you C-A? SOOO BIG!

Our guides at Devil's Pool at Lake Victoria

Our guides at Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls. Not my cool shoes I was forced to wear.

Rumbling along through the Nkotakhota Wildlife Reserve at dusk

Rumbling along through the Nkotakhota Wildlife Reserve at dusk

Traditional Malawian game which was kind of like triple jump with Carrie-Ann looking on from the lake

Traditional Malawian game which was kind of like triple jump with Carrie-Ann looking on from the lake

Lake Malawi fishing boats

Lake Malawi fishing boats

Vegetables and nshima, typical Zambian meal

Vegetables and nshima, typical Zambian meal

So it was pretty fun as you can see. I’ve got some alright videos too if you ever want to see them. Come over and check them out.

During the trip I thought a lot about what my next step is. I do believe my next step now is not to take the next step. I will stay put for a while here in London town. It’s part of that realization process I spoke about earlier. Changing those neuron pathways. Some really exciting opportunities are sitting in front of me professionally waiting to be taken. It would be foolish to let them pass me by. Before the trip I was looking at them negatively, but now I am very optimistic. That all may go out the window come mid-summer, but I don’t think it will. Time to get stuck in and live the life I am capable of living.

Overall, life is very on the up and up here. I hope it is with you as well. Let me know what’s happening out there. I haven’t had any comments in a while.

*I’m trying to write 100 times in 2015 as part of my new years resolutions. This is number 27. I did good on holiday.

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Year in Review: 2014

I have just had a nice time going through my photos from 2014. There are some good memories stored in those photos and some lovely scenery. I am a lucky son of gun who is way too privileged. I’m not sure why I’ve lucked out to get to see and do all the things I get to do, but since it’s being offered up, I may as well take it before someone else does. So. 2014. Pretty good vintage I would say as far as experiences go. I kind of forgot how much traveling I did at the beginning of the year as I barely left London after June. Feels at the moment like I haven’t traveled in years. 6 months may as well be a couple of years in my nomadic life. I had a great time in London town as well. Making new friends and getting ever closer to “old” friends. Long may it continue into 2015.

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Home

Best trip: Porto, Portugal My trip to Porto was break before going on break to Ireland. I needed a few days to gather myself with so much going on with work and school and being told to leave my house a week earlier. I have heard so many good things about Portugal in the last couple years, I thought I’d try it out. I went to Porto over Lisbon because I wanted to see where Port was from and how it was made. I so wasn’t disappointed with my few days in Porto. I met some lovely like minded people who had randomly chosen Porto for a holiday as well. I went to a couple places producing Port and very much enjoyed all the tastings I went to, but for some reason chose not to bring any back. Dumb. I think I will have to go back to correct my error. Even if you’re not in to Port, the city is absolutely stunning. Beautiful architecture, a picturesque river running through the middle and lots of good food to eat. I recommend it highly.

The streets of Porto

The streets of Porto

Best trip Honorable mention: Kintra Farm, Islay, Scotland I believe I’ve already said quite a bit about this place. It is a bit of camping magic with hot showers to boot. I really forgot all about work and life while on the bluffs above the 7-mile beach for the 4 days I stayed there. Weather was great and the whisky and fire weren’t bad either. And hardly a soul around except for the nice couple from Glasgow with the dogs who kept weeing on my tent who were staying next to me. Now if someone would just come with me next time and help me haul back firewood from the the beach I would be much appreciative.

I want to do this again sometime. Anyone care to join?

I want to do this again sometime. Anyone care to join?

Best book I read: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin I read most of this while in Scotland and the rest over the summer. It is the most readable history book I’ve ever read. If you are interested at all in the American Civil War, learning what a badass Abraham Lincoln was or how to lead a nation, read this.

Best book Honorable mention: A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway I’ve got a soft spot for Mr. Hemingway. Maybe because he was an expatriate like myself. But this book, autobiographical about his time in Paris, is lovely. I really gleaned a lot from what he told about his writing process (not that you can tell that on this blog). It was nice to read it while in Paris as well.

Best song: Hozier – From Eden Well, this Irish dude is a pretty incredible singer. It seems like the rest of the world has realized how good he is now. I’ve been following him for the last year via BBC Radio 1. This song played several times on the radio while we were driving around Ireland and it made me ever so pleased.

Best song honorable mention: Dan Croll – In/Out Me and Bobbles had the best time dancing to this tune at the Dan Croll gig down in Brighton in March. In fact we danced like fools to all the songs with no one apparently noticing, which pushed the dance moves further than they would have ever gone. And now, anytime this song comes on, I’m forced to dance like a lunatic.

Best new food: Kothu After searching out the best curry in Tooting, I found some positive reviews for Apollo Banana Leaf, a Sri Lankan restaurant on the high road. Bobbles and I went here for a meal and got the traditional Sri Lankan Kothu. It was life changing good for both of us. And we have introduced it to some other people who have agreed with our review. I crave it all the time. Luckily it’s only a 10 minute bike ride away and sometimes the Kothu food van shows up at KERB in KX, which is an extra special lunch time treat. Puff and I get 3 veggie portions and split them.

Best new food honorable mention: Oysters I had my first ever oyster at Fyne Fest this year. Surprisingly tasty and not what I was imagining at all. I have gone veggie since August, but I will likely lift the moratorium on meat when I go back to Fyne Fest if only to get salmon kedgeree and shoot a couple of oysters again. Yum.

Proudest moment: Doing my first pull up Must have been back in March when I finally accomplished this. I was training for our big 20 mile assault course race and thought pull ups were going to be important for all the walls we had to get over. And I’m talking the real deal: thumbs in, chin over the bar pull up. I started out in January unable to lift myself up at all. I wasn’t sure I’d reach the point when I could do it. Seven weeks later when I finally got to the point where I could do one I was over the moon. It felt like a really big accomplishment. Much bigger than getting a master’s degree that’s for sure. Now I try to do a couple of pull ups everyday (both thumbs in and thumbs out) just to keep it up. My next step is to do it from full extension. I have been trying but my stupid right shoulder, which I’ve enjoyed injuring many times over the years, seems unwilling to rotate properly to lift me up and shoots me some lovely pain when I try. Maybe by the end of 2015 I will be able to do it.

Proudest moment honorable mention: Getting on the exec board for trees I felt a bit forced into doing it and completely unqualified, but for some reason they decided I was alright enough to join the cool kids club for tree officers here. It has been really interesting and a great challenge for me professionally since June. I have a lot of catching up still to do with the other members, but I think I’m doing ok. Unless I really mess up, they are stuck with me until June 2016.

Perhaps they heard about my stellar ability to make a pot of tea for my team.

Perhaps the board heard about my stellar ability to make a pot of tea for my team.

Well, I would like to think there are some other best of categories I would like to explore, but I think I’m tapped out. Time to finish packing and head to the pub for some cask ale before 3 weeks of bottled beer in Africa. At least that’s what I’m anticipating. I leave you with some nice photos from this year. Happy new year all.

Hampstead Heath. Giving me moments of much needed sanity.

Hampstead Heath. Giving me moments of much needed sanity throughout 2014.

The Poppies at Tower of London. Really touching and beautiful.

The Poppies at Tower of London. Really touching and beautiful.

The most serious Cap'n America ever: my buddy Puff

The most serious Cap’n America ever: my buddy Puff

Pretty cat who loves looking her best whilst keeping warm.

Pretty cat who loves looking her best whilst keeping warm.

A perfect sunrise in Tooting Common. I get to spend a lot of time here now and I love it.

A perfect sunrise in Tooting Common. I get to spend a lot of time here now and I love it.

Cheers to you and happy 2015.

Cheers to you and happy 2015.

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The dirt

Thank goodness the winter solstice has come. I find the few weeks before the solstice the toughest mentally and physically out of the year. Everything seems to reach a state of entropy in my life. It makes me someone I do not care to be. This year was no different. With school coming to an end, wavering, looking for any bit of strength to write my last paper, I found myself with a distinct lack of energy. I would like to blame a virus (or possibly a moldy flat) for my lethargy. It was so bad I did not cycle for two weeks to work and took a few days off from work as I could barely power myself to make breakfast. I had to lay down after taking a shower one morning and I did not get up for another 6 hours. I was also bitter and uninterested in communicating with anyone unless I had a beer in my hand (social lubricant!). If no beer then PLEASE NO TALKING! No bueno mis amigos.

But the solstice arrived and it was a good day. Things turned around in so many ways. I got outside to plant up my new hops rhizome (Chinook flavor!) in my garden, the first time I’d done anything with a shovel in about 5 months. I miss so much having a dig in the ground and having dirt under my fingernails constantly. There is something so much more satisfying about gardening than creating Excel spreadsheets. Quite surprising that. After that I went for a good, but difficult run through the muddy Common and began to once again feel like a decent human being. Amazing what a bit of exercise will do. And more importantly, what a bit of dirt will do. I was so pleased to be scrubbing dirt off my legs and feet. And watching the dirt circle down the drain in the shower. It felt like I’d finally hit the ground after a tough few weeks and was able to wallow in the mud in the most positive way possible.

I felt amazing cycling into work all this past week as well. Imagine how happy people in the developed world would be if they were able to walk/run/cycle to their work. I think we’d all be better off. But people want to drive their cars and be miserable and that’s fine too I suppose.

So now it’s Twixmas. It’s been a very quiet few days here at home and I have loved it. I needed some days to myself to unwind on what has been a very mentally challenging year. My normal patterns of day dreaming dwindled in the last 12 months for one reason or another. I can feel it in my bones that I have not gotten the mental rest I so need to maintain my appearance as a well adjusted, respectable professional woman. And I go into 2015 with a lot to think over for what will happen in the next 18 months. Many things to consider, but most of it depends on how 2015 plays out. Luckily for me I have 4 more days of work and then I am off to the African continent for 3 weeks for further woolgathering and letting the electrodes shoot in all the places in my brain which seem to not get the attention they need any more.

So besides that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

A Bulgarian, an American and a T-Rex walk into a bar….

A Bulgarian, an American and a T-Rex walk into a bar….

Well, Christmas was good. I had a lovely time with my friends Laura and Latina. I had a few pints in the local during the day and then was at home for a few hours before heading over to Latina’s house for dinner. We had a great time listening to Laura’s “Now that’s what I call 90s” on cd, wearing funny hats and amusing ourselves with a Oliver the T-Rex. It doesn’t take much.

I don’t know what we’re doing for new years. We have two options and I think I would prefer the easy one as I need to be alive, well and with some money left over on January 1st. We will see what happens, but it will be fun.

There’s not much else to report. I will get my year in review up before I leave for Zambia. I have started gathering my “best of” in my brain the last 36 hours. It’s just putting it down on paper….or binary code.

I hope you all had a nice Christmas and are enjoying a couple days of quiet before 2015. Peace.

Team Streatmas!

Team Streatmas!

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8 weeks to go

Hello again. My apologies for the lack of writing the last month. The hiatus was due to a hectic period of school work and very important social engagements. But now my crappy time of school has past (for a few weeks) and I can begin to use my limited brain resources to more pleasurable endeavors like writing this blog on a Sunday night. I’m not sure if I my brain is getting worse at balancing a lot of different things or if I am just demanding more of it than ever. I do keep mentally picturing that I’m turning the proverbial screw just a bit tighter every time I decide to take on a new activity or responsibility. That’s likely not a good sign. Why do I think this is a good idea when I’m mentally unstable as it is? Yet, somehow it keeps me in better spirits than when I’m left with nothing to do. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop for me I reckon.

This past month has been fun and gone by very quickly. I’ve had an assignment due every week for 5 weeks straight. Not that they’ve all been arduous, but just knowing you have an essay  due every week is annoying and grating. Reminds me of my MSc 2nd semester which just about drove me to the nut house. Every word I wrote was torture. Luckily I’ve been leaving my essays so late that my only mental option is to have laser like focus on the topic and I just sit down and write it. It’s pretty amazing really. But besides the homework I have been playing some tennis (including today), drinking copious amounts of alcohol sporadically and dressing up as Peter Pan.

Drinking around the Olympic Park. Possibly with a stolen pint glass from a pub, which I left at another pub.

Drinking around the Olympic Park. Possibly with a stolen pint glass from a pub, which I left at another pub.

Canal life on the pub crawl.

Canal life on the pub crawl.

Actually Halloween was just a perfect day. It was really warm for October 31st. I got to cycle into work in shorts and a T-shirt. I really enjoyed my work that day and got to lunch in a new part of Hampstead Heath that I had never been to before and it was spectacular. It is over in the West Heath area and called the Hampstead Pergola. You come to see me, I will take you there for a wander.

Hampstead Pergola

Hampstead Pergola

Pergola. Such a great day and a great place to lunch!

Pergola. Such a great day and a great place to lunch!

I was Peter Pan for Halloween this year and I spent every week night two weeks ago with needle and thread creating my costume. It ended up coming out quite well considering I didn’t finish making the skirt (My belt held up the bit of fabric which was my skirt.) I’m particularly proud of my shoes covers which took about 4-5 hours to make.  So yeah, after a good day at work I got to dress up like Peter Pan and drink Pumpkin beer. What else could you want out of a Friday? One for the books.

So I realized today that 8 weeks from right now I will be on a plane to Lusaka, Zambia! Just nearly about to land as well. Still, we have no itinerary for what we’ll be doing nor where for sure we’ll be staying. What could possibly go wrong with showing up in Africa with no itinerary for 3 weeks? Nothing. Nope, i can’t see anything going wrong. But seriously folks, we’ll get some stuff booked in the next couple weeks, but not much. Part of the fun will be seeing what happens when we open ourselves up to the travel God’s whims. From my experience, those are the best experiences I’ve ever had. Some unpredictability in my mostly predictable life will be absolutely excellent. The bad and the good. I can not wait. I think we will be reasonably well prepared in case we are stuck somewhere (I’m bringing a tent) so I think we will be fine. It’s gonna be an absolute laugh as well because my friend Carrie-Ann and I are super obnoxious about pretty much everything. I’m not sure how we haven’t been separated at work yet, but I think it’s because everyone is secretly entertained. At least that’s what we like to think.

Any ways, please enjoy the rest of the photos. And keep in touch friends and family. Let me know what’s happening in your life.  Peace.

Planes and Elms. Mostly Planes though.

Planes and Elms. Mostly Planes though.

Limes

Limes

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Fasting

A stopover during Critical Mass ride last month: Paternoster Square, the City.

A stopover during Critical Mass ride last month: Paternoster Square, the City.

After yesterdays duvet day (an excellent British term), I’ve decided that I don’t have hangovers. I have a body imposed day of fast. I never seem to know when they will hit me after a night of drinking. They are seemingly random and unrelated to the amount of drinks I consume. So I was fasting yesterday, which was ok as I didn’t have much planned for the day. It was pissing down with rain for a lot of the day, so I probably wouldn’t have done much more than do computer type things anyways. It would have been nice to eat food and drink water though. It’s all in the past now as I’ve been wide awake since 5:30. Sundays are the best days to get up early and get stuck into living any ways.

There’s been some exciting things brewing here. After realizing I can’t make it back to Americaland for Thanksgiving due to school and its associated assignments I switched my travel to January, my only window of travel time until May. I’m heading to Southern Africa for a few weeks, far away from any tree species I may know. If you want to join, let me know and perhaps we could work something out.  But it will be a lot of planning in the next few months as I have no clue what we’re going to be doing or what we can do really. I’m pretty interested in Lake Malawi. I could stay at a nice place on the lake for a few days of beer drinking, writing and walking in the sand. We’re also going to Victoria Falls, which seems like an obligatory place to visit when in Southern Africa. I suppose it will be cool to check off seeing another Wonder of the Natural World. I’ve only seen the Grand Canyon so far.

So since that’s happening, it looks as though I won’t be going anywhere on holiday until January in order to save the few pennies I’ve got. I’ll be hoping not to run out of money in the second week. But last weekend, prior to buying a ticket and not caring about saving money, I snuck out of the M25 for a few hours and went to Poole.

Poole Harbor

Poole Harbor

Poole is on the coast in Dorset (West) and about 2 1/2 hours on the train from my house. My intention was to spend the day in Poole and look out to Europe’s largest harbor. But I started walking around it to the sandy beaches and decided to keep going. I didn’t realize how close together Poole and Bournemouth were. The weather was really good for the coast, so I fully enjoyed a wander along the promenade from Poole to Bournemouth. I’d been to Bournemouth very briefly about 7 years ago

Walking down the coast

Walking down the coast

and I thought it was a dump. This time, it was confirmed. It has a nice beach, I’ll give it that, but I won’t give it any more. Not only that, someone who I walked by was badmouthing Weston-Super-Mare. Seriously, Bournemouth is not much better. At least there are donkeys on WSM beach.

Bournemouth Pier

Bournemouth Pier

The last couple weeks I’ve been working in the Hampstead Heath area, which means obligatory lunch time wanders on the Heath. As you may be aware, Hampstead Heath is one of my most favorite places in the world. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to live in London. Something about the place really connects with me. I don’t wander there nearly enough considering I work around it all the time. But as I’ve been wandering there, I will share with you a few photos of the Heath down below.

So I will try to keep you all in the loop about how my trip plans are progressing and anything new happening in the world of Colleen. It will likely lack much of interest as the next 9 weeks of school will be a bit full on. Enjoy the photos and TTYL. <3

I can see my new office building!

I can see my new office building!

Pretty mighty Oak with a big tear out.

Pretty mighty Oak with a big tear out.

Heath pond

Heath pond

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Back out

Queen Mary's Garden in Regents Park. The rose garden is incredible.

Queen Mary’s Garden in Regents Park. The rose garden is incredible.

It is a beautiful August day here in London and instead of being out enjoying the day, I write type this blog propped upright with pillows on the couch with a hot water bottle wedged up against the left of my back. Somewhere in my frenzy of strength training right before bed on Sunday, I pulled some muscles in the lower left of my back. I didn’t notice anything at the time of course. Nothing stops leg lifts and squats. Monday morning I felt a niggle, but I sucked it up thinking it was a small little injury. I even cycled home hard and relaxed Monday night with a few brews to take the sting out.

I was wrong. I woke up Tuesday in a lot of pain.

I ended up being off work two days this week, only appearing at work on the days I had meetings I didn’t want to miss. Oh and I had the Great British Beer Festival. I couldn’t miss that either as it was a chance to numb my back with the sweet armpit taste of English cask ale. So I’m laid up all weekend, hoping by Monday that my back feels good enough to go out and look at trees. I can’t stand another day in the office. I’ll go crazy.

Late night on the road

My brain the last few weeks though has been seeking out escape, despite things here being pretty damn good overall. Seeking escape has lead to Colleen going to Colleenland. It’s a dark, mysterious and distant land, which no one wants to go to. Especially me. I’ve struggled to interact with the world around me at some points with no real reason and no real cure. It’s not the first time it’s happens so I know it normally goes on for a few days or a week and then dissipates. But I think I’m through that rough patch now. I spent most of the time stuck in my books, avoiding people so I wasn’t mean or saying anything stupid. It’s the best path for me.

I want to think my escape is because I don’t have a airplane/train/car reservation at the moment. No trips booked after being pretty booked up for about 8 months straight is a difficult high to come down from. Although it’s been lovely to catch my breath and not have to do anything on the weekend, I do believe I am a nomad at heart. Staying put for a long time is hard and I’ve kind of just told myself I’ll stay here in London for a minimum of 2 more years. Somewhere in my head, I don’t want to have such plans of putting down more roots. But it really is the best thing at the moment for myself, my job and my life. At least it seems that way.

So. This weekend I am actively engaging in escapism the only way I can with a hurt back and no money: reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and watching Ewan McGregor’s show Long Way Round. I’m not sure if it’s helping or fueling the fire, but I’m going to keep the course. I see another travel book being read next, which will blend in nicely with both that book and that show. When those are done my new class will probably be starting and I will once again be too busy to have time to day dream about getting away.

I leave you with some nice, random photos from the last couple weeks and I hope you’re all having a good time wherever you are.

More Regents Park

More Regents Park

We moved offices last Friday. This is the last time I will be able to see this view of London Town. A bit sad.

We moved offices last Friday. This is the last time I will be able to see this view of London Town. A bit sad.

Me and John late night at St. Pancras

Me and John late night at St. Pancras

Young Elms of Hampstead

Young Elms of Hampstead

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Life is happening

Sunny, summer days are here in London town

Sunny, summer days are here in London town

Well, it certainly has been one of the longest stretches of time in between posts on here in a while. That’s no good. But I want to say it’s mostly for positive reasons. Yes, mostly, I haven’t been home. Or I’ve been moving to a new home. Or I’ve been traveling (almost too much) or had a fully booked in weekend doing sport, going to events, sitting at the pub and generally burning my body cause I forgot sun block again. I assure you I have been writing a lot with a pen and paper even though this space has gone quiet. It has really helped me work through some things and at the least progress my thoughts in a positive direction. So I hope to continue that this summer. But here I am on a Friday night because “I’m focusing on my career right now.” Me and Pic got the house to ourselves and Glastonbury is on BBC. I’ve actually got nothing better to do than write a blog, cook dinner and boogie and I couldn’t be more pleased.

See. I've been writing.

See. I’ve been writing.

I was in Paris for a few days for Roland Garros. I felt so lucky to be taking another tennis grand slam off my list of things to do in life. Quite a lot of people don’t even get a chance to do one thing on their bucket list and I keep getting able to do all I set out to achieve. Not sure why, but I’ll take it. DSC07498So any ways, before the Open started I was really really really hoping that I would just get a chance to see Rafa play. It was a 50/50 chance without the weather being shit.  But man, I lucked out on weather and would you believe, I also got to see Rafael Nadal play at the French. It was so awesome. He was so so good and totally crushed his opponent. It was over in just an hour and a half. That was legendary, but the evening match with Gael Monfils was more memorable. Monfils, the hometown guy, really had the crowd going. I loved the atmosphere and I nearly started yelling “ALLEZ GAEL” myself. I like Monfils a lot anyways and he was playing brilliantly. I didn’t do too much else in Paris besides be annoyed by the hostel being completely filled with Americans fresh off the boat. They were nice, but they also did my head in. They were mostly 20-23 year olds on their first trip to Europe. It’s been a long while since I stayed in a hostel in a European capital that I kind of forgot that whole scene. The lessons learned on that was 1. If I go back to Paris, stay at a B&B and avoid people. 2. Don’t go back to Paris: go to small cities in Europe from now on. These are important for the future sanity of myself.

I think I did some other stuff between then but I’ve just returned from Scotland on Monday morning. It was 10 days of much needed fun and mostly doing nothing at all. Fyne Fest was awesome as per usual with great beers and great food and music.

Fyne Fest

Fyne Fest

The weather and the midges held out for the weekend. Luckily for me they held out for the next week as well while I camped. I didn’t need midge spray but once for about 3 minutes. I am beginning to think these midges don’t actually exist. And imagine if British people had to cope with mosquitoes. Like those full on mosquitoes you get when you’re up in the hills or forest land. The British would wither and die. The sooner they realize their bugs, birds, animals are all tiny compared to other countries the quicker they can stop their complaining. Actually they’d probably complain about how small stuff was and they’d want things to be regular size like the rest of the world.

I feel like I've been sleeping mostly in a sleeping bag the last two months, which is partially true.

I feel like I’ve been sleeping mostly in a sleeping bag the last two months, which is partially true.

My time in Inveraray and Islay was awesome. The best bit were campfires on the beach with a bottle of whisky. Next year I am hoping I can bring some friends along to the beach to share in the experience. I was happy to do it alone this year just to scope it and not have to commit to doing anything else, but I’d like to do a bit more next Scottish holiday. Any one up for it?

River in the Highlands.

River in the Highlands.

Beach life.

Beach life.

So I’ve gotten back from Scotland feeling pretty refreshed, but now a week of really stressful work has happened and I’m right back to where I was pre-holiday frazzled and banging my head against the desk. Ah such is life. I have no other travel plans the rest of the summer and I’m happy about that. It will be nice to stick around London for a change and enjoy times with my friends until school starts back up in August. Then once again I’ll be hiding in my room doing homework for 4 months. Can’t wait.

It’s getting late now. Nearly 10 (!!) and I am about to fall asleep typing this up. Piccadilly is circling, wanting me to get to bed too.I have not been sleeping well for weeks and I am looking forward to not having an alarm tomorrow morning. I’m pretty sure this tiredness stems from my complete lack of exercise for the last month since the Rat Race 20 mile assault course we did. Oh and there’s been the drinking. By the way, the race was good. We finished in mostly one piece. All this laziness changes tomorrow morning cause I’m going for a long run after breakfast. Time to get the creaky cogs of this body spinning again.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. Stay out of trouble and take care. Cheers.

Heaven: water, sun, sand, fire, writing implementation, paper, and some alcohol.

Heaven: water, sun, sand, fire, writing implementation, paper, and some alcohol.

Categories: holiday, travel | Leave a comment

Sunday Funday

I woke up this morning at 6:30 to the sound of something tap tap tapping in the kitchen. I thought it may be a mouse partially trapped in the mouse trap banging around. I was not going to get up to have a look cause then I’d be acknowledging it and would be forced to do something about it. But it turns out it was just my housemate making some food. At 6:30 in the morning. On a Sunday. She apologized for possibly waking me and then went back to her room and left the food out. A question: WHY THE HELL ARE YOU MAKING FOOD AT 6:30 ON A SUNDAY MORNING FOR NO REASON!? It’s now 9:30 and still the food hasn’t been eaten. Cheers.

I figured I was up and would get started on my homework. I looked at my syllabus to confirm I had an assignment due today and actually I have nothing due today. Win win win! This has allowed for me to do a quick update to all of you people on what’s been going on.

I guess a lot is happening and I’m overwhelmed.

Since I last wrote I’ve been to Porto, Brighton and Birmingham. They were all really good times in totally different ways. Porto was a lovely city break. I can’t say enough of how nice the city was. The architecture, the drink, the people. And set on the banks of a very beautiful river. I spoke to a lot of people about the trip and almost all of them had never been to Portugal. But it’s on everyone’s list. If you do get a chance, go! Just book it and go. It’s cheap once you get there. Very cheap.

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A few days later I went down to Brighton for a concert with Bobbles. It turned into an unexpected night of epic dance. We had pretty much the whole balcony of the venue to dance. Everyone on the balcony was so sucked into the performance of Dan Croll that no matter how ridiculous our dances got, no one turned around to see. And fueled by a few beers and ciders, some of the moves were ones never seen before and likely never to be seen again. My problem now is every time I hear a Dan Croll song, I’m possessed to dance like a complete fool. I like it.

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I was up in Brum for a conference for a couple days this week. It was really good and gave me a lot to think about. Hopefully one day I can actually put to use some of the things I learned. It was quite focused on urban design and a bit about trees. Right up my alley. I’ve always been a sucker for urban design and probably always will.

Besides all that, I’m trying to train for the 20 mile assault course (not going well), looking for a new place to move (going ok-ish) and finish my class (also going ok-ish). Oh and go to Ireland in 2 weeks. Busy busy.

Today I will be working ahead on course work today. There are visitors (friend Tim and gf Emily) afoot from the USA so I want to be prepared for any outings we may need to go on. It will be nice to see them. It’s a great opportunity to make Eric jealous he’s not out drinking with us.

Any ways, I will get going. Lots of videos to watch for class. And hopefully I will get out for a run today.  Hope all is well with you kids. Keep in touch. I leave you with a shot of Conker outside le pub.

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Categories: Rando, travel | Leave a comment

Life in the present

Basically life is so flipping busy, I can’t keep up with documenting it. That’s a good thing. I like being busy. But I also like documenting life. So not as good. What this is good for is living in the moment. There’s not much down time to think about the future. For me, that’s probably for the best as I tend to over analyze that which has yet to take place.

So this morning I set out 5 writing tasks to complete by the end of the day. This is #4 and I don’t see the 5th getting done. It’s just too much. I’ve had enough today. I don’t know what I’m doing to myself except seeing how much pain I can put myself through. Like everything feels like it has to be pushing the limit right now. Why!? Stop it, Colleen! Am I that bored? Surely not. Surely you can find something wasteful to do with your time.

This limit pushing is going every which way (Also I want to already apologize for this crap of a post. Unfortunately it’s what’s needed): exercise, learning, work, home and fun. The stress of it all is showing itself lots of different ways. Like when I was randomly overly sensitive to noise for a 24 hour period. What is that about?  And you know you may have pushed the fun limit too far when you wake up the next day, look at the photos from your vomit coated camera and find this:

Why?

Why?

I looked at that and thought, why did I take a photo of a dead person in a skip? And then realized I didn’t take the photo. And that’s not a dead person: that’s me. Class. Luckily I was not alone and got home (mostly) unscathed. But I can’t take it easy with anything right now. That’s why when I thought about having a small whisky tonight I realized I don’t know how to pour a small whisky. A small is a 1/3 of a pint. So it would be in my best interest for me to pass on that and actually show up for work tomorrow. I know my boss would be appreciative.

Oh but also I am being super awesome with fitness:

C'mon!

C’mon!

I did my first pull ups ever this week. Two of them. See, I’m not completely ruining myself with alcohol. Somehow I’m stronger than ever despite everything. Running is held up do to a twinge of pain in my left foot. Hopefully by next weekend I’ll be back to being a running fool. This is where I do some working out during the work week. I’m too poor for a gym membership and really, I don’t need anything else besides what’s available at this outdoor gym.

In school news, I’m not failing my class. That’s alright then. Hopefully that continues until May.

Spring is on. Like no doubt. Magnolias are out. They’re out a full month earlier than last year. Not good really. I’d show you a photo of them, but all I have is a photo of some crocus and daffs from earlier this week in Kilburn.

flowers

flowers

Some of the cherries have popped, but only the early blooming ones. With a crazy wet winter and a very early spring, it’ll be a tough year for the plants I reckon. A bad year for pests in the UK. A good year for pests (meaning no pests) in the US! All these crazy shifts in weather are pretty unnerving to me. I feel like I can physically feel climate change. Any one else feel that?

So I will be off traveling to a few places in the next few months. I’m very much looking forward to my time away from London (I love you London, don’t give me that look) to see new places. I promise to make posts about those places more interesting than this one.

Ok, I am off to bed. I woke up at 5:45 this morning I really need to sort my  life out and become a lazy bum again. TTYL friends!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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