La Mia Famiglia

It’s been an absolute age since I wrote a blog post. I have so many great ideas (IMO) about what to write all the time, the only problem is they come to me when I’m about to go to sleep. Does anybody else get that? It’s super inconvenient. I spend a lot of time thinking about the details of what I could write which keeps me awake and deprives me of precious kip.

Rather than starting to write a blog post late at night I instead tell myself to start one tomorrow, ineveitably forgetting during sleep. However, this time I wrote a list of 5 things to achieve during the next day into my phone with an alarm set. The idea behind this being that if I can achieve all 5 it would be considered a productive and successful day. Here was my list;

  1. Apply for Jobs – With my current job security up in the air due to announced cut backs to staff, I wanted to attempt to apply for a few jobs or at the very least have a look to see what is around. Currently at the time of writing I have so far yet to achieve this task.
  2. Write a blog post
  3. Buy some Christmas Presents – I hate the pressure of having to buy presents but to prevent the aggro of not being helpful from my girlfriend this year i’ve decided to get some done and out of the way. Completed.
  4. Book Airport transfer for girlfriends birthday trip – Birthday present to Lisa this year is a surprise weekend away. I say surprise, she has basically guessed the location. Completed.
  5. Pay Lisa a compliment – Sometimes when you have been with someone for awhile you forget to appreciate them. Its often the little things that you do that mean alot so I remembered to call my girlfriend beautiful this morning when I left for work. She replied with ‘Goodbye Hairy’ referencing my infernal beard she so loathes. Completed.

Onto the main topic of this blog post, and following on from the theme of appreciation. My family, I’m blessed to have a huge family and each one of them teaches me something different. Each and everyone of them inspires me in a different way and I count myself extremely lucky to have people in my life that unwittingly educate me.

My Mum – She teaches me to be loving, kind and to be selfless no matter what. She is always putting everyone else before her, especially when it comes to my family. She is always there to provide love and support whenever its needed.

My Dad – He teaches me to be confident and happy in my own body. To never let anyone make you doubt your self worth. To ‘fuck the haters’ and just do what makes me happy. He has always inspired me block out the negative and appreciate all aspects of life.

Tracie – My oldest sister has taught me how to be paternal . Always someone who has shown me how to be a parent, who had children at a young age and inspired me that no matter how hard things become to be strong and work through it.

Daniel – My brother has taught me the value of being practical and to never be afraid of getting your hands dirty. He has shown me that life is sometimes more important than being intelligent and a know it all and that it’s often more important to work hard to achieve happiness.

Ella – She has taught me how to enjoy life by appreciating the small things. To go out and try everything at least once. She has shown me how to be independant and strong without compromising family and friends.

Amber – This sister is the one I consider closest in likeness to myself. We have a lot of the same attributes and understandings about life. She teaches me Political, Environmental and Philosphical aspects of life. Always standing up for your beliefs and being true to yourself even in times of darkness.

Tiegan – My youngest sister teaches me bravery and courage. To always stand up for yourself even if it gets you in trouble and to never let anyone bring you down. To be open minded and do the things that you enjoy whatever the obstacles.

I feel truely blessed to have amazing people in my life and even as I move on to having my own little family which means I don’t get to see my parents and siblings as often as I would like there are always moments when I appreciate every single one of them.

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Britain First

Amy parker

I hear people asking why our country is “going to shit”. I see people “friends” sharing videos of beatings, honour killings and posters embellished with the same kind of slogans that Hitler once used to brainwash an era.

Hitler managed to gain hundreds of thousands of followers without Twitter. So imagine what people could do with social media these days? Scary thoughts, Ey? Hitler made everyone believe that Jews were vermin, a lower class of human. He turned a whole nation against one race based on opinions! How? He had an audience and a bloody good advertisement team. His propaganda was posted on walls in cities all over. It took more than just a click of a button in those days but he did it.

But we’re not that stupid now? We wouldn’t let ourselves become brainwashed. We’re much too smart these days. You’re wrong my friend, because if we…

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Marrakech – Morroco

I first booked this holiday with the intent of spending my 24th birthday relaxing poolside in beautiful sunshine without a care in the world, little did I know that I would be treated to a cultural master class. So when I found the Blue Sea Marrakech Ryads Parc and Spa hotel it ticked all the right boxes. It was going to be clear blue skies with temperatures ranging in the mid 30’s which would be a welcome change to the rains that usually fall over my birthday, my actual birthday would fall on the Monday during the 7 night stay and most importantly it was going to be in a brand new country visited for me. I don’t consider myself to be somebody who is well travelled (in comparison to those who visit all corners of the earth) but I do consider myself very fortunate enough to have been to the places I’ve experienced so far. Notably Florida, Mexico, Egypt and various destinations Skiing. Each place brings some new flavours for the mind to savour. Typically I go on holiday to relax and shut the mind off to the working grind back home but I always try to take in the cultural offerings available. Be it by taking excursions to visit famous landmarks such as the Mayan temples in Mexico. With that in mind, I had not planned such exploration on this trip because it was a last minute thing and would only be for 7 nights. 

  Right before landing the first thing I noticed were the buildings and structure of Marrakech city. It struck me as to just how flat the landscape was. When you come from somewhere so close to London you expect city centres to be plagued with high rise buildings and skyscrapers but not Marrakech. It was beautifully flat, stone red buildings perfectly cubed dotted with the occasional bell tower marking the locations of what I assumed to be Mosques. It was like something straight out of Aladdin. It took me back to an ancient time even before touchdown. I later read that the reason for its apparent flatness was due to the ordnance and planning laws which do not allow buildings to be above a certain height. 

Arriving at the hotel after the usual hassle of waiting around and travelling was welcomed with open arms. The hotel itself was on the outskirts of the city and much the same was modern yet holding onto its historic and rustic charm.   
We booked one excursion through the hotel for the evening of my birthday to a place called Chez Ali. This was to a large temple like structure which started with us allowed to walk around and view various relics from Moroccan history that had been hung and displayed around the forecourt. On the way to dinner we were treated to some live acoustic traditional music from various local groups dotted along the way.   
 By far the highlight of the evening was the meal. We didn’t really have any expectations but what we were given far exceeded anything I could have asked for. Moroccan Lamb Soup for starter, Vegetable Tagine followed by Chicken Couscous. Each bit as tasty as the last. Lastly we were given a large palate of fresh fruits in addition to Mint Tea to finish the meal off. I was blown away at how delicious the meal was and could not eat a bite more for being so full. After dinner there was a show which included music, stunts performed on horses and firing of guns to salute the events. It was all entertaining and a very relaxing way to finish of my birthday. 

With not much else on our agenda we decided it was a necessity to visit the city centre and experience what the markets and Souks had to offer. It’s actually for this reason I was inspired to write a blog. Never could I imagine the experience it would be to go here. We were told that the best place to go to was the old town part of Marrakech and that at night time it comes alive. They were not wrong. We were dropped off by our shuttle bus in the new town side a 15 minute walk from the market square. The short stroll gave the first insight into just how much hustle and bustle there was in this city. As we approached to beginning of the market the first point of call is the Jemaa El Fna mosque, open to view for only believers. It towers above all else as the highest building in the city (also another reason for the planning laws imposed, I could only assume to mark its importance).  

 The prayer call immediately called out and it was a stark reminder that this was not home and culturally very different. Opposite El Fna for short was the entrance to the Market Square, as you wander in amongst the sea of people flooding in, immediately it sends your senses on an emotional roller coaster. You see a long line of horse drawn carts ready to taxi you out. The dazzle of lights that glitter around from the terraces of Cafés down to the market stalls. You are greeted to the smell of street food being barbecued accompanied by smoke wafting up into the night sky. You see and hear all around you large groups of spectators huddled in open circles encompassing street performers busking with traditional Moroccan music and dancing. Scattered amongst the frenzied and carts displaying various goods from sweets and pastries to fruits and breads. Wagons serving freshly squeezed orange juice for no more than 30 pence. The atmosphere is electric and like nothing else you can imagine. To my delight It is densely populated by the locals and littered with tourists too. You wade in deeper and you reach the Souks, still you are presented with a wealth of new luxuries to send the senses into a stir. From the rainbow of colours illuminating from draping fabrics, fragrances like no other from burning incense and sack loads of herbs and spices right under your nose. The razzle and dazzle of shiny trinkets that catch your eye from a nearby stall.  

 All this before you can even begin to think about shopping. The Souks largely operate on a bartering basis and if you possess haggling skills you will be in your element. Unfortunately I don’t thanks to my laid back attitude and willingness to pay whatever just to get the transaction over and done with. Luckily there are a few fixed price stalls which provided a safe haven for the unskilled likes of me. That’s not to say however I didn’t get into the spirit of things and try my dab hand. I largely over spent on a wooden box but it was great fun trying to banter and barter with the shop owner. Souks 1 – 0 Me. As you wander around the Souks it becomes a labyrinth, twists and turns and limitless amount of stalls that go deeper and deeper. The idea is that you get lost and discover what you can as you go through looking for treasure. Once we were done shopping we took a wander over to the side of the market square which hosted a number of different Cafès. These are built purposely with several floors and terraces to allow you to sit and watch the chaos from below along with a coffee and maybe some cake.  

Besides the market and Chez Ali we didn’t do to much exploring outside of the hotel as I only wanted to spend the time relaxing. It was however enough to show me what a beautiful and amazing place it actually is and I would recommend everybody adding it to their travel bucket list!  I have to also apologise for no recent posts as I had been lacking in motivation up until I travelled here, hope you enjoyed my view.  

 If you have any places that really inspired you or changed the way you saw the world I’d love to have a read of your reviews so drop me the link. 

How sleep can make you slim…

I knew all this sleep was doing me some good!

IMG_4162This was a really interesting theory to look in to. You know how it is, I regularly burn the candle at both ends, going to bed between 11-12pm and then waking up to the sound of my alarm at 6am feeling horrendous and my body feeling tired and limp.

The odd night I actually have enough sleep, especially if I have trained I wake up feeling great, rested, repaired and in a much better mind set. Here are a few really interesting facts about the correlation between sleep and weight loss, that have motivated me to switch my light off a little bit earlier every evening.

An early night stops late-night snacking
The longer you’re awake, the more likely you are to consume calories you don’t actually need, this can cause you to gain up to two pounds a week, research has been done highlighting that a late night can add up to…

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Isle Of Wight Randonee and Month of May.

It was a weekend I had been looking forward to since I agreed to cycle the Randonee event of 100km round the island. It was a weekend that did not disappoint for many reasons. The weather was pretty shabby for the most part but it did not affect any enjoyment in any way. My Nan & Grandad live on the island and they are moving house within the next month so it was a great opportunity to say goodbye to their home which holds many childhood memories for me and my family, it is sad to see them leave but as they get older it is getting more and more difficult for them to cope with the size of the house. I am looking forward to seeing their new bungalow which is on a different part of the island. We stayed in a caravan at Park Resorts in Nodes Point which is right on the beach. You could argue on it getting very claustrophobic but it was actually a good laugh and very cosy. We spent a fair bit of time walking along the coast and on the beach, despite the wet and windy conditions most days it did brighten up Monday morning and I even managed to have a paddle in the Sea with my niece. Some great photos and more about the trip on my sisters blog here http://amberelizabethblog.wordpress.com/

Onto the bike ride and the main event of the weekend. Despite my enthusiasm in the run up, I woke up to the wind howling and rain pounding the side of the caravan which put me in no good mood to get out on the bike. We trudged out to the car and by the time we got to the starting point we had geared ourselves up for the ride. It turned out to be good fun and for some part I managed to take the rain jacket off to enjoy a smudge of sunshine. The island is very hilly and this meant the majority of the ride was spent struggling up or gliding down. Overall I completed the 100km without any trouble and if anything could have done it much quicker. It wasn’t a race though so I wanted to stay alongside Tony and my Dad. It was disappointing not to get some picturesque views along the coast due to the fog however we rode through many beautiful country lanes.

IOW

One thing I would like to apologize to all my fans out there (all 2 of you) that it has taken me so long to post this. I have been consumed with working life and quite honestly didn’t have any motivation to write a blog. I had the top part saved as a draft and it wasn’t until today I decided I needed to get the words down. I am counting down the days until I go on holiday and get a break away from it all. I got out on the bike today with a little self encouragement given I didn’t want to waste another Sunday laying in bed all day. I did roughly 29km in about an hour and 20 minutes. I say roughly because Strava decided it didn’t want to work today and didn’t record anything. This was highly disappointing because I really pushed myself to keep up a good average speed, I attacked all the hills and wanted to put in a real heart pumping performance so I was annoyed I didn’t get to see the finishing stats and compare them to previous rides. Hey ho it was a good ride and there were lots of ‘Pelatons’ out today making the most of the quiet Sunday roads which I enjoyed making my breakaway from. I saw my first Hare which sprinted out into the road in front of me and gave me a tiny race of which I duly lost. On the home run straight which always has to be a gut busting sprint to use up any energy left, I noticed a group of Policemen with a speed trap gun, obviously working hard, after all it does take 1 of them to hold the gun and the other 9 standing around for moral support. Anyways, I saw it as a personal challenge to sprint through and try and break the speed limit. I doubt I even came close but it gave me a chuckle to imagine their faces if I did and for them to not know how to respond to a bicycle breaking the speed limit. I don’t want my blog to only be about my bike rides so I will try and mix things up a bit, I think if anyone has any subject they want I will give my opinion on it, that would help me to diversify.

P.S. We should have some sort of video soon of the IOW ride which I will post at some point in case anyone was interested.

Time for lunch!

A day of Personal Achievement.

It started out as an ordinary day, I had worked the weekend which meant I had today off. I woke up in pain from a long term knee injury caused by playing football which I have not allowed proper recovry time. Every week I play again and end up hurting myself. I have promised myself to have at least one week off now, with Cycling (which seems to help more than anything) There is a likelihood I will do more damage than ints worth if not allowed rest. I had planned only 2 things to do for today, a bike ride and my third attempt of passing my driving test. Which brings me to why it was a day for achievement.

  

1. I passed my test, i’m officially allowed to roam the roads in a high powered 4 wheeled vehicle. Anybody who has done or is doing their driving knows that this is a huge relief. The stress, nerves and time spent trying to learn to drive and pass is at times too much. Not to mention the money spent in doing so! (Roughly £1300 without even having a car or insurance) On my lesson before the test, the heavens opened and whilst my instructor worried about it affecting the test, my thoughts were only on the bike ride that was imminent later in the afternoon. Was I going to force myself to rode in the rain or would I settle for sitting in doors with a nice cuppa?

2. Lucky enough it cleared up and the sun actually began to shine through. First on my agenda was to give my bike a good clean in preperation for Randonee. Treat the bike well and they will be nice back, at least I hope so. My second achievement of the day was a small one and one many people may laugh off. I successfully changed the wheel on the bike. Anybody who knows me would know that i’m far from being very good with ‘mechanical stuff.’ Or anything hands on in general, I prefer to think of myself as a thinker who’s power lies in the mind. It’s not that i’m not capable, I watched my brother dismantle and rebuild bikes from a young age, it’s just i’m a bit of a wimp to be honest. Something I am working on myself and well you know, baby steps. Anyways it was all in vain as 2 minutes after I pumped the tyre up there was a hiss and about 3 seconds for it to fall completely flat. Quick change back and it was time to get out.

  

3. My third and final achievement of the day was my first solo ride outside of Stevenage, I still kept it close to home though and actually ended up taking a wrong turn back into Stevenage too early. It was a nice ride though and I had loads of fun whizzing down the country lanes. 26.6 km in about an hour which I didn’t think was too shabby. I stopped only twice, once for a quick photo opportunity in the sun and the other a leisurely sit by the lakes to watch the wildfowl. It was nice to appreciate one of the few remaining beauty spots Stevenage has to offer.   

 

It was all in all a good positive day smack bang in the middle of a tiring week. At time of writing Wednesday 29th April.