Friday, 31 October 2014

Something Old and Something New

My lovely friend Harjit is getting married tomorrow, and I'm really excited. Not only is it the first time a close friend of mine has tied the knot, but also it will be my first Indian wedding. I'm looking forward to finding out how they do things!

Harjit and I first met at Aviva, where I started working when I was 21. At first I was pretty scared of her, she's pretty sassy and has lots of attitude. The whole department had just been relocated to my home town, and Harjit had moved from Birmingham to show us how it was done. She definitely knew her stuff and had to put up with us numpties who didn't know anything, while living in a hotel in the week, far away from all of her family.

Soon after I started, we got moved onto the same team, and I realised under the sassiness was a really kind hearted and funny girl. Sometimes she was funny because of the jokes she made, and the observations she had of the things us northerners did and other times it was because of the things she did. Always telling us how someone had once compared her to an Indian Cheryl Cole, which would lead her to swing her hair around trying to do a geordie impression, or being very demanding to the ladies in the canteen, "I want 5 beans, no butter, and no mayonnaise!"

At some point my housing contract didn't work and I was faced with moving out of my apartment with nowhere to go, so Harjit and I made plans to move in together. We moved into a lovely house in Norton in Sheffield. I remember the first day we were moving in, and she turned up with her dad who I'd heard often carried a sword. I was pretty impressed!

We had some good times in our little house, a chav themed house warming, a few issues with spiders and me trying to colour my hair blonde. My favourite memory in the house is when I walked in and sensed something was wrong. I walked upstairs and noticed the bathroom window was wide open, and Harjit's door was ajar. I walked into her room and was really shocked. Clothes were everywhere, her TV was face down on the floor, her drawers were out of the chest. We'd been robbed. I quickly called her and told her we'd been burgled. I described the scene in her room and she burst out laughing, reassuring me that's just how she'd left it!

A few lessons I learned from Harj:

1. Bread is really tasty, especially without anything on it, and particularly if you put something realllly dry in the middle of it. Infact, the dryer the better. Yum.

2. Tilting your head to one side while having your photo taken means guaranteed fabulousness.

3. Cats should be avoided at all costs, even if it means slamming the door and locking your housemate out of the house, even if she doesn't know what the flip is going on.

4. Pulling the gun fingers out while dancing earns guaranteed gangster points.

5. The best way to pass a boring commute to work is to point at the most bizarre looking person you can find and say to the passenger 'What's your boyfriend doing here?'.

6. Google It. Follow any big statement with those two words. People have died from the heat in India. In Birmingham, if you have a car crash, people will stab you. Just Google It.

7. Don't peek in other people's temples, especially when they wouldn't peek in yours.

I was really sad when I had to move out to start saving for my adventures the next year, but we still got to see each other at work. No matter how tedious the work was, or if we were having bad days, we always managed to have a good laugh together.

She deserves lots of happiness, she definitely is one of a kind, my favourite coconut! I couldn't let her start this new chapter of her life without sharing a little photo evidence of the times we spent together!

Have a lovely day Harj!

Harjit

Harjit

Harjit

Harjit

Harjit

Harjit

Harjit

Harjit

Harjit


Harjit

soyo2

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Thursday, 30 October 2014

6 Reasons Why being a Mature Student is Amazing

Mature student

I'm a month into my 3 month distance learning course at The University of Sheffield. I've REALLY had to change my way of life for a while, poor Nick comes home from work and cooks for me every night, the washing isn't done until there isn't a single clean sock left in the house, the cupboards are bare, date nights have been cancelled, the gym haven't seen me in over a month and I'm permanently excused from the washing up (hurrah!) while I sit looking at the computer screen, frantically scribbling notes. I think this explains why I've been missing from here. BUT, despite our lives decaying into chaos, here are 5 reasons why I'm really enjoying being a mature student.

1. I'm Flexing my intellectual muscles again!
It actually feels good to be learning things again, and things I always found interesting in the past, but due to my line of study before, never had the time to find out more. I find myself going to say 'Today I learned...' in conversations before I realise no one else is that interested!

2. It Gives me an Excuse to Let my Inner Geek Out
If you haven't already guessed, I am a big geek, I love learning, and before the course started I caught myself researching how I can get the most out of the time I spend making notes. For anyone else as studious as me, here are a couple of good links!

3. I Have An excuse to Buy Stationary
There's still that young girl inside of me who shows herself whenever I have an excuse to buy stationary. New term. New pencil case, right? I've never pedalled so fast as when I heard there was a 1/2 price stationary sale at Sainsburys. How I miss Korea in my stationary frenzies.

4. I'm Getting Where I Want to Be
After I graduated in 2008, I did fall into a job that wasn't really my cup of tea, I have a lot to be thankful for though because of that job. I've made so many great friends from it, the boredom of it inspired me to make my free time more interesting through roller derby and, eventually, it gave me the motivation to move to Korea! All clouds have a silver lining. But now it's nice to know that I am moving myself in the direction I want to go, and if i don't succeed then at least I've tried my very best to get there!

5.I'm More efficient with time
I have to say, a slight downside with the work load, and the fact I'm out of practise with studying is the fact that it takes up so much of my time. I really have to be efficient. Lunch breaks at work are no longer about idly checking Facebook, I have to run into town to carry out the errands I would normally have done in the evenings. I have to plan when I'm going to be alone in the house, so I have nothing else to do while I'm distraction free. Being like this does make me really appreciate the free time, ALOT more!

6. I Have The Gift of Experience
I think the biggest lesson I've learned since travelling, is that when you're young, you're made to make decisions about your future when you're just not ready. At 14 you decide on the GCSEs you'll take. At 16 it's the A Levels, which then stipulate the kind of course you can study at University. This can then affect the profession you can go into and even the further study you want to do. I think there are very few 16 year olds really know what they want to do the next weekend, let alone for the rest of their lives. I remember thinking I wanted to either be a journalist for a glossy magazine, or a film editor. It was only through life experience that I learned what I enjoyed and what really interested me. It's only through meeting people and talking to people and seeing amazing things that can really help you make good decisions in perspective. And as a mature student I really feel like I'm getting the chance to rectify some of the bad choices I made when I was too young to know better.


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Monday, 13 October 2014

My First Hen Do and Back to School

I can't believe it's been over a week since I last posted on here. How time flies! It's been really hectic as the last two weekends I've had to go back to Sheffield. Last week it was because I had to attend a study weekend for the course that I'm doing and this week it was for Harjit's hen do. Not long until her wedding day now!

Last Saturday was incredibly tiring. I got to Sheffield late on Friday night and went to my mum's house. She is having a bit of a revamp of the downstairs of the house, so it was in a bit of a state of disarray as there were walls being knocked down and kitchens being put in. Our poor old cat, Leila who must nearly be 18 now seems to have gone blind from all the stress. Poor Leila.

The next morning I was up early to go to the university, then Saturday night, I met with Tasha and we had a night in front of the TV, chatting and eating lots of delicious home made food. It was really nice to catch up after so long.
Weekend in Sheffield
Weekend in Sheffield
Sunday it was back to university, then my mum came to meet me at 3 and we ambled around Weston Park museum before saying goodbye in Fancie.
Weekend in Sheffield
Weekend in Sheffield
Weekend in Sheffield
Afterwards, I went to see Caroline and Ari and Ari made a delicious 3 course meal for us, including lamb tagine. We had enough time for me to teach them the rules of Yanif before I had to set off home on the mammoth 3 hours journey back to Norwich.
Weekend in Sheffield
This weekend was equally hectic, Nick and I went to watch a film called '71 at Cinema City in Norwich, which I would highly recommend. Saturday morning I took the train to Sheffield, Louise came to pick me up and we did some last minute errands ready for Harjit's hen do.

We were staying at the Hilton Hotel, so we went there to decorate the room before she arrived. She was so shocked when she arrived.
Harj's hen do weekend
We started the night with some cocktails in Revolucion de Cuba, then had some Italian food at Antibo's before we went to dance the night away in Crystal.
Harj's hen do weekend
Harj's hen do weekend
The next morning, I left the girls to go to the spa and went to meet my Dad and Margaret. It'll be Margaret's birthday in a couple of weeks time, which I won't be able to make, so we went for a meal at a local restaurant.

Before i knew it, it was time to get back on the train and head back to Norwich. It takes just under 4 hours on the train, but luckily Anna Jones was on the same carriage so we passed the time by chatting about our weekend!

Hope you all had a great weekend and the week's got off to a good start.

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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Misahualli, you give me butterflies!

The more we travelled around Ecuador, the more I loved it. Leaving Baños ever thankful to the owner of La Princesa Maria for helping me finally get the medical care I needed, we started the long journey to the East of Ecuador where civilisation thins out and the jungle takes over.

We took an incredibly busy bus from Baños to Napo. It was so busy Nick and I took separate seats and I ended up sat next to a boy who was sleeping. Eventually he woke up and instantly started to chat to me, asking where I was from, what I was doing, where I was going. He was also happy to answer all the questions I had wanted to ask the people we often saw but didn't get chance to speak to. His name was Pato, he was only 25 but was the main provider for his mum and his insane amount of brothers and sisters. He had been travelling since 2 in the morning to go to Otavalo market to buy provisions for his family, and was now heading back and was expecting to get back to his village at 3 in the afternoon. His older brother was studying in Quito and he desperately wanted to travel, but had to look after his family. He also told me he really wasn't religious and loved to watch South Park. It was the first time I ever felt like I'd had a really good conversation in Spanish and I was slightly dismayed when he told me it was his stop and he wandered away from the bus carrying two huge white sacks. I still had so many questions!

From Napo we took a local bus to Misahualli, it was so full that Nick had to ride in the doorway, with one leg hanging out of the bus! I was really relieved when we arrived at the main square of Misahualli.

Missahualli (Miss-a-why-ee) is a tiny town at the very mouth of the jungle, and apparently used to be incredibly popular a couple of decades ago with tourists, but with the amount of tourism traffic flowing into the jungle, many of the animals were scared away and so the tourism died off again. We decided to visit the jungle from this spot as the doctor in Baños had spoken so highly of it.

After a quick browse on Trip Advisor, I found a company that ran jungle trips called EcoSelva, and it was owned by an ecologist. EcoSelva was on the tiny square so we headed there and met Pepe. He is a really nice, friendly man who really loves what he does. We found out later on our trip that he really wants to help the communities that live in the jungle, so he helps to school the children, and runs football matches for them too. We got a really good feel for his company and what it put back into the jungle, so we booked a 2 night, 3 day trip.

The other top recommendation on Tripadvisor was the Butterfly House. I asked if Pepe would recommend it and he said definitely, so we decided to take a stroll up later that day. As Pepe had suggested the hostel next to his business, we went to check it out. It was a small house run by a mother and daughter and the rooms seemed clean and homely enough. It was also the very 'normal' names of the rooms that sold it to us.
Misahualli
Having checked in, we went for a spot of lunch at another restaurant in the square. Most of the restaurants were open at the front, so we walked in and were pretty shocked to see that the furniture was strewn all across the floor. The owner appeared from the back and apologised about the state of the restaurant apologising profusely. She explained that it was the local monkeys of the town who live in the trees in the square. When they're feeling mischievous they steal food and toss the furniture around when the owners are siesta ring. We sat and ate lunch, watching the naughty monkeys laze around the square.
Misahualli
Luckily, we managed to catch a glimpse of them at their most mischievous when a rather large American Tourist walked through the square. He was wearing a bright hawaiian shirt, explorer shorts, socks, sandals, sun glasses and a floppy sun hat. He decided to stop and play with the monkeys, who entertained him for a bit, before they decided it would be far more fun to take his wallet out of his pocket. They ran up into the trains then started to empty the wallet, throwing the contents, including wads of cash, onto the floor. No matter how much he shouted and flailed around, he didn't get his wallet back until a local climbed the tree to retrieve it.

After that spectacle, it was early evening and we walked to the butterfly house to see if it was still open. We were surprised to be welcomed in by Pepe, it turned out that he had built a butterfly house in his garden because of his love of butterflies. He started the collection by collecting eggs on his visits to the jungle, caring for the caterpillars and then letting them loose into the enclosure. It turned out that dusk is the perfect time for butterfly spotting as they go for one more flight to bring up the temperature of their body before sleeping for the night.
Misahualli
Misahualli
Misahualli
It was really amazing to watch them floating around, and really nice to listen to Pepe talk about his butterflies. His love for all things natural really shone through and made him so interesting to talk to.
Misahualli
Misahualli
Misahualli
Misahualli
Misahualli
As it grew dark, we decided to see what else the town had to offer. There wasn't all that much, but we went to the river and watched the sunset. It was exciting to know that the next day we could be heading into the jungle and taking a canoe on that same river.
Misahualli
Misahualli
We went to bed early that night to prepare ourselves for our early start tomorrow, and just as we started to drift off we heard the rain start to fall. Weird shadows crept across our walls, and when I looked out of our window onto the square, I realised the shadows were the monkeys running to take shelter from the rain. It was really pouring down and the roads had turned to clay rivers. It was the first time I really understood why we call it the rain forest.

The rain didn't stop though, and half way through the night, Nick shot up in bed as the roof had started to leak and rain was pouring through the hole in the ceiling onto his foot. I can't explain how much it was raining, I've never seen anything like it in my life.

We got up bright and early the next day, feeling a little weary after our rude awakening. We went to meet Pepe who apologised for being a bit delayed, but the rain had been a bit of an oddity and his whole house had flooded, the butterfly enclosure had collapsed and all of his butterflies had either flown away or had been killed. It was so sad to think of him the day before, peacefully walking through the trees surrounded by butterflies telling us how it had taken him years to grow his collection.

Yet, he didn't linger too long as he said it was time for us to go and meet our guide, Gregorio.

I'm going to split our Misahualli adventures into a two part drama filled event as I've already typed more than I like to! I'll continue next week when we start our trek into the jungle!

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Monday, 29 September 2014

Weekend: Louise Does Norwich

This weekend I was super excited because Louise was coming to visit me from Sheffield. Unfortunately it took her 5 and a half hours to arrive, so she didn't get here until late, but it gave us a bit of extra time to prepare. Nick used his ingenuity to blow up the air bed. It also gave me a chance to try my hand at jam making, Nick had gone and picked some blackberries on his lunch break. Unfortunately I misread the recipe and there was no undoing it after that!
Untitled

When she arrived we got some dinner and played a couple of card games into the early hours.

We were up bright and early for a bike ride on Saturday morning. We went down the river to the cathedral and home again. It was one of her first times riding a bike on a road, which was quite scary at times.

We spent the afternoon in the centre, first we ate at the Ten Bells, which was delicious, then we went shopping for a dress for Harjit's wedding in November. I'm finding it particularly hard to find a suitable dress, it has to be long and colourful, but I'm also trying to find something that I will wear again! After 9 dresses I gave up and we went home for a nap.



Saturday night I went to collect the Coppards who were in town because they had been playing roller derby here. Nick cooked us chicken and chorizo fajitas and we chatted until 3 in the morning, meaning that we missed the chance to go to a few bars in the town. Ooops.

Sunday morning we got up and went for breakfast at a cafe called The Muddy Cup. It was the perfect end to Lou's visit and the food was really tasty. I particularly enjoyed the raspberry smoothie. Yum!



Then i was like Cinderella, cleaning the house from top to bottom seeing as I have had absolutely no time this week. Phew!
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