Saturday, 21 August 2010

Missing the small things.

Sometimes it's the little things you miss. Right now I can't tell you how much I would love access to a kitchen for simple, homecooked and healthy food. There's a limit to how many times you can eat out before you start craving plain soup, or vegetables or just a yoghurt.

Another 2 weeks until I hall see such a thing - on the upside - I can't see me wanting to eat out much for a while when I get back!

It's all still amazing here - spent yesterday morning attempting to learn to bodyboard off Samara beach yesterday - caught some waves in the end and have the sunburn and the boardrash to prove it! I like the active mornings though - we've had some lazy days and it's nice to have fun stuff to do.

Heading away from the beaches today finally and up into the mountains around Arenal to see the active volcano, do some walking, lounge in some geothermal hot springs and do some adrenaline sports. Yay!

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Checking in from Montezuma

I´m still alive - currently holed up in a little town called Montezuma, which is really pretty. Having an amazing trip so far - seen and done so many things in the time we´ve been here already - the wildlife is spectacular, and so close at every turn - we´ve just seen monkeys up the street as we were wandering.

We went on a catamaran trip the other day and saw humpback whales and manta-rays, and on the speedboat transfer to our current destination (I know ... what an awesome taxi ride!) we saw dolphins, and even turtles.

Today´s been the first day that the rain´s actually stopped play for us. We were supposed to be going on a boat trip out to Tortuga Island for the day, but there was a massive storm this morning so it was cancelled. Bit gutted, but given it´s the rainy season, we´ve actually been really lucky with the weather.

Heading off up the coast to Playa Samara tomorrow for a couple of days, which is going to be about a 5 hour drive, because although it´s not far, the roads are terrible!

My eating is staying relatively on track I think .... my clothes still fit at any rate so that´s a fairly good sign! I guess the thing is, I can afford to be a little more relaxed here than I have to be at home, as we tend to be more active during the day. Yesterday we went on a canopy and waterfall tour in the afternoon - 2 hours of monkeying round in canopy of the rain forest flying down zip lines from tree to tree, scrambling down steep steps to the waterfall, jumping in (a 4 metre jump ... I´m so proud of myself as jumping off rocks and from heights is something that scares me), and then climbing back up the rocks to get out, and finally hiking back up to the centre. Today is a bit more relaxed because of the rain, so we´ve wandered into town and I´ve spent the morning sat in a beach bar, sipping diet Pepsi and reading my book.

I´m off now to go lounge in a hammock on our lodging´s upper deck and finish my book and play cards with the girls. Catch ya later!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Surf babe (not)

I'm sitting on our hotel room terrace listening to the early mornings birds and animals chattering away. I can just hear the surf in the background. It's pretty early (still before 7) but we seem to be stuck on a cycle of early up and early to bed at the moment.

We're down in Domincal on the Pacific Coast now and it's really beautiful and chilled out here - a perfect example of the Costa Rican "pura vida" way of life - laid back surf culture and quite a few ex-pat Americans.

Just had my first surf lesson yesterday morning - saw the size of the waves when we got here Monday and freaked, but it was far gentler when we went out yesterday - around 3 to 4 foot swell which was perfect to learn in. We're learning on smaller boards which makes it a bit tougher to get stood up, but I think I did well enough - was very close to standing up and staying there - just need to practice popping up in the right place on the board rather than shuffling around to get it right once I'm up.

I was so scared about the first lesson, but it turned out fine - it IS hard but, being so much fitter now, I didn't make a fool of myself and I wasn't uncomfortable exhausted. I was able to keep up with the girls which was great.

I'm also finding the confidence to wear little beach skirts and shorts, and even in the heat I'm still feeling fairly comfortable.

My eating's not been perfect since I got here - too much of that "holiday" feeling to contend with initially, but after that first day of travelling I've been under 30 points a day, which given I'm on 21 normally isn't catastrophically bad. Have been finding my feet slowly, and yesterday was almost a normal day food-wise - I'm back to feeling that a month is a long time and there's no need to treat myself every day now so that should make things a bit easier.

Got our second lesson this morning and then a trip to the Poza Azul waterfall this afternoon, and probably out for some drinks in town this evening.

I could get used to it out here! :-)

- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Costa Rica!

Hi guys - just thought I'd check in whilst I've got free wifi access!

So here I am in sunny Costa Rica. Actually - right now it's cloudy and cool as we've just had the torrential mid-afternoon cloudburst - haven't seen anything like that for a while!

Had a pretty brutal day of travelling yesterday - we were up at 5am and left by 6, 2 flights of 8 and 5 hours respectively, some hanging around at Newark (I saw New York! But only from the window - sad face. Need to get back there properly one day) and a blissfully quick taxi ride from San Jose airport to our hostel. Seven hour time difference and crash.

Except we couldn't sleep so we're functioning on about 3 hours sleep today.

We're still in Alajuela today - just got back from a trip up the Volcan Poas - cloud forest and volcano craters were on today's list of sights. Alajuela was also a bit of a shock to the system as it's totally obvious here that this is Central America and not like anything I've experienced before! We were out really early this morning and it was like a ghost (shanty) town. People stared at us which was a bit uncomfortable and most of the time when they try and talk to us we haven't a clue what they're saying. The one thing we do understand is when the beggars approach us - it's heartbreaking seeing the condition some of them are in, but there's really very little we can do.

By the time we caught our bus up the volcano it was a little busier so we were comforted to see a few other tourists at the bus station, but we nearly caused a scene as a guy approached us, obviously drunk but not begging, but wouldn't leave us alone and kept trying to make physical contact. In the end the bus station boss came and removed him for us, but there were some angry words between them. Mind you - Bus Station Hero was always going to win that one since he was carrying a baton (which he didn't have to use thankfully) - we felt a but guilty but not sure what we could have done differently.

Food-wise yesterday was fairly diabolical. I think I ended somewhere just over 40 points but then we'd been up so long we ended up eating 5 meals yesterday. When you're stuck on planes for hours on end there's not a lot of choice in what you get, but despite that I'm happy I didn't make bad choices. Cereal for breakfast at half 5, and when we had second breakfast at the airport I picked toast and jam and fruit in favour of cooked breakfast. I tried to stop when I was full where possible and not snack between airline meals.

Today's been better - because I've bought the iPhone along on the trip I can continue to track as I usually would. We've walked quite a bit today which helps - I'm not going to end up being super-strict but try to strike a sensible balance. Ironically, now we're away on holiday Jo's said she doesn't want to think about her diet (changing her mind again from last week) and doesn't really want me reminding her, so I guess I'm running alone a bit here, but I'm sure it'll be fine.

Extra motivation to stay good - my new walking trousers - the only pair of long trousers I have with me and the only quick-dry pair too - are on the snug side. Getting them a bit looser would be nice - and I certainly think they're going to tell me very quickly if I go the other way! The aim for the trip is to get them fitting comfortably and keep them there!

Right - time to go write my diary and read the guidebook now. We're being picked up tomorrow morning and getting the bus down to Dominical on the Pacific coast to start learning to surf - woohoo! On the downside - 5 hour bus trip tomorrow - oh well - lots of time to see the scenery which is certainly spectacular here. Rolling coffee plantations everywhere.

Catch ya later!

Ps - if you're interested - I lost another lb last week and weighed in at 12st 8lbs on Friday. Not the 12st 6lbs I'd wanted but progress anyway.

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Excitment alert!

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!! I can't believe it's here already!!!

Tonight is the last night I sleep in my bed for a month - that's totally crazy. I'm kinda sad, excited and nervous all rolled up into one. I've got my packing list written out, and I've done all my washing and shopping - just got to do the actual packing now, but I never do that til the last minute because I'm one of those people that always needs whatever's at the bottom of the bag, or panics that I've not packed something and then pulls the whole thing apart multiple times to check.

Tomorrow evening I'll be heading over to Jo and Lissa's to stay with them ready for an uber-early start on Saturday - 5am I think. So I've got tomorrow to pack, tidy the flat and do whatever last minute errands I think of. I'm going to say goodbye to my Daddy and spend a little time with him before I go, and then I'm off.

For a whole month.

Eeeeeeek - it feels like such a massive step for me. I actually think I'll be ok leaving everything behind for a month, but I feel really bad about leaving my Dad, especially as I know he'll be worrying about me getting blown up, or kidnapped or breaking my back doing some crazy sport, as it is ~The Daddy Way to worry about such things.

I've been mega-busy all week, running round and preparing, shopping for last minute things, getting currency, sorting out my library books - all the things that suddenly become obvious when you're downing tools for a month. In between that, I've also spent a significant amount of time on the phone to a new recruitment agency, arranging for them to be looking for new jobs for me whilst I'm away. It's a good job I've had this week off work, as I've no idea how I'd have fitted it all in had I been in work for month end instead.

The upside of all the business is that running around leaves no time for snacking, and I've generally been really good with my food. So good in fact, that the scales got down to 12st 6.5lb yesterday - soooooooo close to where I wanted to be. Unfortunately, they then bounced back up to 12st 10lb this morning, and god knows where they'll be tomorrow - I've eaten on my points today, but I've just got back from eating out at an Indian restaurant, and I can feel how full and bloated I feel already. Hmmmmmm.

I'm actually really terrified right now, that having got my weight on the way to being back to it's lowest over the last couple of weeks, I'm going to lose the plot completely in Costa Rica and put on a shit-load of weight in the space of a month. That none of my clothes will fit me, and I'll be miserable. Hopefully, that fear in itself will be enough to help keep me on the straight and narrow!!

I've actually been finding it really hard to write my packing list, because these last few pounds I've lost make a real difference to how my clothes fit, so it's been really tough working out whether I should take my smaller clothes and rely on not putting anything on, else nothing will fit and I'll feel like shit, or take slightly looser clothes, but then if I lose anything, they won't look good, and I still won't feel that great, albeit for a better reason. So difficult!

I hate, hate, hate that tomorrow will be the last scales I see for a month, and they're probably not going to say anything good because of tonight's meal out. Grrrrrrrr. Not a good place to start the trip mentally-speaking.

I also found myself really sad that Tuesday's circuits class would be the last I would go to for a while. The class that has been killing me for the last couple of weeks and I'm actually thinking I'm going to miss it. I think it's because, like all classes when you persist, you find that although it's still hard, you're able to do the exercises better, and I don't want to lose that progress I've made.

So many things going on in my head right now. I had my last counselling session last night, and after 6 weeks, I was actually really sad to say goodbye. We've covered so much stuff over the course of the sessions - things I've not really talked about here, but have none-the-less been important. I think to a large extent I'm still processing alot of what we've gone over, and what it's revealed about me.

In the 6 hours we've had together we've talked about my grief (for my mum) and my guilt relationship with my dad. That I have massively dual-standards by which I judge other people and myself (tolerant of other people, but very harsh on myself), but a lot has centred around my feeling of always being on the outside and an outcast. What it comes down to is this - I have a huge problem accepting that people actually like me - for various reasons I find it very difficult to understand that people might genuinely like me, and as a result I tend to distance myself as a form of self-defence. Add to that, that I have a morbid fear of being lonely and abandoned, and there's quite a vicious circle of behaviours. Outwardly, I'll be the perfect friend / social acquaintance / business colleague and you'll probably like me ... but I won't be able to accept or believe that you do. Paranoid, insecure, or downright loopy - call it what you will - logically I know I'm surrounded by some of the best friends a girl can have, but I always fear that they don't like me, are just putting up with me because they're polite, and the moment I disappear, they'll carry on like I was never there. A perfect example - when I left work last week, one of the guys Rich gave me his number, asked for mine, and told me to stay in touch (he's not single before you ask). In my head, that translates into: he's just being polite and isn't really bothered about staying in touch, not that he's been bothered to give you his number, and get yours to make sure you have a way of contacting each other.

I sometimes feel like that Muppets' sketch with the two guys in the theatre box - "It's outstanding", "Amazing!", "Really good", "Well, it's alright", "Actually, it's not that good", "It's terrible", "I hate it!!" - you know that one I mean? That's me whenever someone gives me a compliment, or says anything nice - I twist it over time in my head. They gave me a compliment? They were just being nice.

Anyway - I don't know how I got side-tracked here - this post was supposed to be a happy (slightly nervous) one, ahead of the great adventure, beginning tomorrow.

I'm mostly ready, I've got a plan of action for my weight, I've got someone looking for jobs for when I get back, I've finished my counselling and it was positive - lots of things to think about, even if they'll take a while to use in real life, and tomorrow brings the biggest adventure of my life to date.

At the moment, I plan to take the iPhone, so you might even get semi-regular updates of what's going on - oh you lucky, lucky things.

Right - I'm leaving you for my bed now. Night night.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Happy sad

I just got a text to say that my good friends Graeme and Bec have got engaged. Which is fantastic, and I can't think of two nicer people it could happen to.

So why do I feel sad?

I feel left out - they're up in Scotland with everyone else, and I'm not there. I feel like yet another big event has happened in the group and I'm on the outside again, because I've chosen to do something different this summer. Irrational I know, but I feel sad I've missed this - something that will be talked about for years and I wasn't there.

Logically, I know I can't do everything and be everywhere, and one of the reasons I didn't go to Scotland is that I've been feeling so stuck in a rut, and a bit claustrophobic with everyone settling down, so I picked travelling adventures instead. I still feel sad though. And not a little because it's another couple of my friends moving on with their lives into territory I can't.

I hate that I feel sad about such a happy thing. It makes me think I should move away and try and get on with my life, even though the loudest protestors to that plan are the very people who are settling down.

Manic Mondays

Well, here we are at the end of my first "proper" day unemployed - i.e. a day when I should normally have been at work and wasn't ... I'm not counting the weekend ... and I have been a busy little bee.

Definitely less problems with the eating today, simply because I haven't been sat still and unoccupied long enough to think about it!

I was up bright and early this morning for my first stop, which was the dentist's over in Birmingham. One quick check up, a couple of x-rays and a clean bill of health later and on to more interesting things. I headed over to Merry Hill (blurgh) for some more travel kit shopping. Still not got a new pack, but now know which one I'm getting, but did pick up some nice new North Face walking trainers for £30 less than I saw them at Cotswold Outdoor yesterday, a shiny new camera (a Panasonic Lumix FS30) which also had some money off and a some smaller bits and bobs like replacing my holiday sunglasses and a jersey maxi-dress. And yes, I realise having holiday sunglasses sounds odd - I have several pairs of sunnies - more expensive designer-y ones for everyday wear, and some aviators too - neither of which would survive the beating of a holiday like this one; proper full on sports ones which might go, but I like something a little more glam for everyday wear - so then we get to my tried and tested Bloc's - a deep, wrap-around black frame with wide arms, but built to withstand a battering and with a proper UV protection - a little bit glam, a little bit sporty ... and not too expensive for when they do eventually get broken - my last pair survived Scotland, numerous mountain-biking outings, windsurfing in Egypt, touring Croatia and skiing in France this year, before I managed to something to crack the frame at some point in my bag.

Anyhoo - back to today - I just had time to grab lunch sitting in my car (thank you Boots Shapers wraps for being reliably tasty and low points) before trundling back to Malvern to go make like a pin-cushion for the nurse. One typhoid jab later and I was free to leave. I came home via the supermarket, and can I just say, I'm getting so much better at actually leaving with what I went for, and not all kinds of other goodies (for which read "baddies"). I rang the new recruitment agency when I got home and then spent the next 2 hours on the phone to them and reading job specs they sent me over - those guys are seriously efficient and enthusiastic! A very productive couple of hours.

Finally, when all the dust settled I decided on a little kitchen experimentation. With all the baking I've done recently, the one thing I've not touched on is savoury items like bread. I've been itching to try pizza dough for ages, but for some reason savoury baking scares me ... maybe it's the yeast and all the special flours. Anyway, I did some looking up on simple dough recipes yesterday and found one that didn't need any special flours on the BBC Food website. Since I had some time to kill, I set about trying the dough and bodging my first home-made pizza!

Not a bad effort all in all. It needs a bit of work, but I can see it being really good with a bit of fine-tuning - I nearly stuck my hands together with the dough (less liquid required I think), and the pizza sauce needs a bit more flavour (I wasn't sure whether to add a stock cube or not - in retrospect it needs it), and next time proper cheese - I didn't have any mozzarella as it was a last minute plan, so I nicked some of my flatmate's Edam instead - it's ok but not the same. The dough rose though and held on the pan - that's a good start :o)

Half of the pizza was plenty, and was only 7.5pts - not bad at all.

In all the kerfuffle with the recruitment consultants, I didn't make it to the gym this evening, but all the walking round earlier means I've saved some points anyway.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Sunday blues

Hmmm - so I'm not brilliant at sitting round with not a lot to do. I get bored quickly (gee - who knew?) and then I do exactly what I do at work - I think about food.

I need to make sure I find stuff to do this week. Oh, the irony - I was so looking forward to a week of not doing anything at all, and I find that that's not what I want at all.

Food-wise I didn't do too badly at all through yesterday - I had loads of points left in the evening, which worked well as I ended up going on an impromptu pub crawl - I even had enough left for a few cheesey chips on the way home (oh why, oh why, are they so nice?).

Today nearly went well. I was absolutely fine until dinner time, when I decided to make an ommelette. For a start - I didn't add up how many points that would be til afterwards - total error. And FYI? A 3 egg ommelette is very filling. Almost too filling. Then I was bored. I'm a multi-tasker by nature, i.e. I have a butterfly mind. I struggle to just watch tv without wanting to do something else at the same time, and that's usually eating (and also cruising the internet and reading my book - I have concentration issues). Anyway I'm over points for the day.

I'm also restless because I haven't worked out. Yesterday I walked to Dad's and then round town, and that kept me occupied and out of mischief and earned me extra points and cured the restlessness - tomorrow I need to go for a walk, or go to the gym, hit a class, go for a run - anything to get me moving.

Tomorrow's day of fun will also include an early morning visit to the dentist (joy - just a regular check up, but joy none-the-less), and an afternoon visit to go and get punched in the arm by the nurse with a typhoid jab. Whooop-ti-do - what a day!

In my spare time today, I've cleaned the house and spent £170 in Cotswold Outdoor on kit for CR - new tropical weight down bag, complete with anti-mossie and bedbug treatment, new 30l day pack (Lowe Alpine - very nice), and a new North Face fleece. This trip is getting quite expensive! :o)

Right - so tomorrow - more activity, less food. We all know how that works.