Tag Archives: travel

Yoga and my bicycle

English: Yoga 4 Love Community Outdoor Yoga cl...
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I guess there are always things you will miss when you travel away from home, even if you’re visiting another place that’s ‘home’. Two things I have been missing while away from Bristol for the holidays: yoga and my trusty bike (whose name I now think is Petal, though she doesn’t always answer when I call her). Ah, to cycle in the warm sun on flat roads! Ok, Bristol isn’t entirely made up of hills and isn’t entirely devoid of sunshine, but you know, it’s December, or January (depending on the time zone) and, well…some people will know what I mean.

Anyway, no bike here. But yoga, yes. My brother and his girlfriend wanted to find a class while in town and thought, correctly, that I might be similarly inclined. They researched what was on offer and I awaited their findings. The class they turned up was a 90-minute Bikram Method class. Was I still interested? Now, I had never been to a Bikram class before, though I’d heard tales from those taking up introductory offers in Bristol. Lives being taken over during the introductory month! Sweat and money pouring out everywhere! Was it strangely regimented or something? If I tried it, would I keel over and be expelled from the class (like so much student sweat)?!

Ah well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Reviews of the studio in question suggested that there would be “no shouting”. This we found encouraging. In fact, not only was there no shouting, the place we went to, Yoga Vida, was really welcoming. There was a lot of sweating, of course, but there was also encouragement and humour. And I felt great doing it and felt great afterwards. Yoga, I said I’d missed you!

Awww, a happy ending to this tale. How nice. Another thing I’ve missed of late is writing this blog. So here I am again. Watch out.

Views of cities from above, within and in reflection

Well, I went to Cincinnati and I walked around the block and I walked right in…

to my friend’s house.

And then we walked around the block again (or, uh, had a wild car ride to 4th and Race), hopped on the Megabus and went to Chicago. Took over the whole back row of the top deck with our food, crochet projects and feminist pop culture mags.

The American road looks something like this from the back row of the top deck of the Megabus.

Six hours later, Chicago looks a bit like this. (If it’s dark, you’re on a bus and don’t hold your camera still.)

It looks like a lot of other things too. In January, it can also look very snowy and be a sea of down coats. It can look like this from 96 floors up, at sunset

and like this when reflected in a Bean.

There are many more stories to tell of Chicago.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati, the Queen City, can be seen from above as well, if one wends one’s way through the maze of the Carew Tower to the observation deck. Wear your hat, gloves and scarf, children, it’s still January and we’re still in the Midwest. This is one view from above (49 stories up this time).

And this is one view in reflection.

There are many more stories of Cincinnati, too.

But what I will say for now is

Thanks for the donuts!

(And the ice cream.) See you again one day, and many more stories to come…


Blog-a-week

So I thought it might be an interesting challenge to try to publish at least one blog post a week. I got the idea when I received an email from WordPress inviting bloggers to take up a ‘new year’ challenge of blogging every day. Me, I know my limits. Once a week is good.

I was thinking, for me, 2009 was a bit like a river, which emptied into the sea of 2010. I’m pretty sure I know what I mean by that, but I’m not sure what that makes 2011. Doesn’t matter.

What I want from 2011 is adventure, confidence and connection. Again, I think I know what I mean by that. While I ponder the year ahead, have a look at some pretty pictures from a hike I did today with my sister. We hiked the Bear Canyon trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

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We were in t-shirts, soaking up the desert sunshine. Really, really lovely to find myself exactly where I was (am!).

Next I’m off on a mini tour of the Midwest, where I will reacquaint myself with the concept of cold. Especially on the Chicago leg of my tour.  Gives me something to blog about, no? (Later in the month I may well blog about Unemployment Strikes Again, Top Ideas for Getting Out of the House, and 101 Ways to Doctor your CV. But for now, adventure, where I find it.)

If anyone’s reading, what are you hoping for in the year ahead? Please comment if the whim strikes…

Getting on with it

I don’t like being unemployed anymore. As in unemployed and not travelling. Being unemployed because you’re travelling, now that’s great. There’s a purpose to that. Right? It’s fun anyway: life’s an adventure and anything is possible.

I’d like to say I’m treating every day, right here in Bristol, with the adventurous attitude of the traveller. I do sometimes, and that’s great. I do my best the rest of the time, and that’s ok too. But…well…it can be hard.

Nonetheless, alongside trying to sort out my work life and whatever else, I’ve been working on achieving another goal. Something that’s really quite important to me. Something I’ve faffed about with pretty much since I came to Bristol. Or longer really. I am going to become the cyclist I have for years envisioned myself to be!

Oooh, wow. Don’t laugh. You see, I can ride a bike fine. I’ve even quite recently thrown myself around a New Zealand forest on a mountain bike. But: I’m scared of traffic, not all that hot on the correct use of gears and get stopped at times by an annoying mix of gravity and the mildest of hills. And then just the other day I investigated and realised that my bike, which had suffered, al fresco, through the British winter in my absence, was in need of mechanical help. The brake pads were rubbing on the wheels, creating a horrible squeaking. But I arranged for a knight in shining armour (or a fetching fleece anyway) to be sent, free of charge, courtesy of the Cycling City project. All fixed now. Fantastic!

Next stop: my first cycle training session on Wednesday. Watch out, world!

This could be me!

London one afternoon in early March

The afternoon in question was that of 4 March 2010.

Took the Tube to Embankment and wandered along the river. Had a coffee, visited the Tate Modern, then crossed the “wobbly bridge” to St Paul’s. Saw a signpost for the YHA hostel I used to stay in along with the other Kenyon-Exeter students back when I was a young study abroad student and we used to come to London for educational theatre outings. Couldn’t resist a detour to go have a look. I can still remember being in the dorms and and listening to the clamouring bells of St Paul’s. After my nostalgia trip, I stopped for some dinner in a restaurant where I reckoned I could eat alone in style (ah, well you know me…I’m always stylish, eh? Especially with jet lag?) and sat next to the window with a view of the cathedral.

But no rest for the wicked. I needed to once again collect my trusty backpack and travel the Northern Line to check into my B&B in Muswell Hill, to be ready for the start of my course in the morning.

And I had a fantastic and powerful weekend, which I won’t go on about right here, right now. But I will tell you I went to Toff’s of Muswell Hill one night, which I’m told is ‘dead famous’. I’d had potato wedges earlier in the day so I told the guy I wasn’t sure I wanted chips with my fish. He gave me a scoop anyway, on the house, so I would have the full experience. Isn’t that nice?

AKL – LAX – PHX – LHR

Just catching up with myself here…

My last night in Auckland I met up with my friend Joanna, who had finished her Magic Bus experience. We were both leaving NZ the next day, she being off to Sydney and I of course being LA-bound. We were staying in rival mega-hostels in the city centre but had coordinated our meet-up days earlier from Rotorua. It was more complex an operation than you might think, as her phone didn’t work in NZ. So I had to check in to the Surf ‘n’ Snow then find my way to the Nomads Fat Camel before we could explore the food ‘n’ drink options available. It was nice to have someone to laugh with on this last night.

And the Sky Tower looked kinda cool all lit up at night:

Next morning I had a bit of time to stretch my legs so I wandered into Albert Park and discovered a festival of lanterns.

I also saw some trees that seemed enchanted

and a building society sign that reminded me of the night sky.

Soon enough it was time to collect my trusty backpack from the hostel and once again catch a bus to an airport. On my flight to LA, I had a neighbour who was spending a year travelling the world. I took a few suggestions for my next big trip…

But back to the current trip. I had yet another flight to catch, a short jaunt to Phoenix. (Where my mom and brother were late to pick me up! They had a very good excuse, though. Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m only mentioning it to make you cringe! Heh heh… The worst part of the experience was when an evil phone ate all my quarters. But I digress.)

Then had a few lovely days in Tucson with family. Kicked myself that I hadn’t brought my AV cable for the camera with me, as with that I can do beautiful slide shows of my escapades on my grandma’s big TV. And you can’t just go and buy one of these cables. Three words: wild; goose; chase. Watched the Lord of the Rings films instead. (“I was there. And there. Oh yeah, and that bit was pretty. You saw the photo of me with Mt Doom, right?”)

Then, guess what, I got on another bus (shuttle) to the airport and flew from Phoenix to Heathrow. Ah, that old familiar flight. Except this version was delayed by two and half hours, so we departed at 11:30pm and arrived late afternoon the following day. (Flight attendant: “The hours of daylight are approaching rather quite quickly so if those passengers in window seats would close the window shades…”) During the flight the guy at the other end of the row from me (we had two empty seats between us) invaded “my” one of the empty seats with his feet. Grrr, my empty seat, get off! I am normally a really non-irritable person but that foot got some hard stares from me. Yeah, I’d pull up my silk eye mask and everything, just so I could really scowl at it in the dark. But I don’t think it was the foot’s fault really, I just wasn’t going to get much rest on this particular flight.

So then I re-entered the UK. They seem quite used to me by now, I hardly get questioned at all by immigration. But I wasn’t heading onwards to Bristol just yet. I would be staying in London, first in Shepherd’s Bush with a friend, and then in Muswell Hill for a very special weekend workshop.

I was really looking forward to a lot of things. Not least some sleep!

Love letter

Dear NZ,

What can I say, you were fantastic. You provided the perfect setting for me to explore my own sense of adventure. Life will never be the same again after this trip, so thank you for being a part of it. I am more centred than ever before. And my world feels better.

Mt Maunganui was very pretty. I enjoyed that more than central Tauranga. I thought it was hilarious when you sent a horde of insects that looked like sandflies to afflict me as I climbed the mount in the blazing sun, but maybe they weren’t actually sandflies. At any rate, I don’t see any new bites so possibly it was a practical joke?

It amused me to see a local brochure bragging that a ‘leading guidebook’ says that Tauranga is about as Riviera as New Zealand gets. I know for a fact this was Lonely Planet because of course that is the guidebook I am using. What I want to know is: were the LP authors being catty? I initially thought so but Mt M is pretty good, I have to say, and it was nice to see the sea, as always. You know I’m a fan.

Crashing waves
The view from the Mount
Another view from the top
A beautiful tui who was singing as I neared the top!

So onwards to Auckland this afternoon. On the express 4-hour bus with no toilet breaks. (Contrary to popular rumours, I am not obsessed with toilets. I’m just saying.)

Before I go, I just want to say how I adore your public toilets with the flashing lights, and the ones with sliding doors (not obsessed), your roadside signs bearing public service messages such as DRINK DrIvE (it’s a visual thing, that one), the funny vowels and expressions of your people (‘sweet as’), your amazing wildlife of the sea and land, including the sometimes suprisingly loud birds and insects (but not the sandflies, even when they get into my ear so I can hear them buzz)…oh, and so much more.

You’re great.

Lots of love,

tk

And now, uh, I’d like to thank the South Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, Wanaka for being being there for me, the whole South Island for being magical and the North Island for being pretty damn cool (and hot!) too. And thanks to friends new and old, and anyone reading. I know I’m strange but you chose to read this. By the way, this blog doesn’t end here. ‘You’ll never see the end of the road while you’re travelling with me.’ (That’s from a song by Crowded House – I was quoting this at some point in my trip, and then this morning they played it in the cafe where I was sheltering from raindrops…)

Sentimental oddball, pictured in Wellington, NZ

‘One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.’ (Henry Miller)