29.8.07

Wales

James and I spent the last 5 days in Wales. We've been here many times before as his parents own a summer home here but it has been two and a half years since we last went! Everyone goes to Wales to get their fill of camping, hiking and outdoor adventures. Its absolutely stunning, a lot of people speak Welsh (think lots of consonants) and most drive like maniacs on roads only wide enough for one car. The food aint bad--similiar to traditional English food and sheep are absolutely everywhere. If you don't see these balls of fluff--you are guaranteed to walk in their remnants if you know what I mean. We went to the ocean, Portmeirion and did two amazing hikes where the views kicked ass. There is absolutely no way that I could post all my pictures (WAY TOO MANY!)--so these are my absolute favorites and then if you are desperate to see more you can check them out on my Flickr account.

This is one of many views from the cottage we were staying at. The mountains in the background included "Cader Idris" (on right hand side--tallest peak). I had the bright idea to hike this thing and I am still sore two days later from it. The total time hiking this peak (up & down) not including time at the top was 4 hours and I believe its about 3,000 ft which is a lot considering everything in the surrounding area is at sea level. The top was quite a challenge as it was incredibly rocky and it felt more of a climb than hiking. I am not a professional hiker or anything but I have done more than a lot of people. Anytime I ever do any hiking though I am a bit of a wimp on the descent. It really challenges my confidence and I always prefer going up because you can hug the mountain a bit more, etc. etc. It felt great getting to the top though and the views were well worth the pain.

Here is a very horrible picture of me on the other hike we did up behind the cottage. If you look in the background beyond the mountains, that is the Atlantic ocean!!
Sheep!!! (yes it really is this green too)

This is part of Portmeirion (built I believe between 1920-1970). Its a coastal village in Mid Wales that's really strange because its done in the Italian/Mediterranean style complete with palm trees. There are swanky hotels here and they are world famous for their pottery. It has great views of the sea and really good icecream.


Views of the Atlantic Ocean!
Harlech Castle, which is right next to the ocean. Wales has many many castles in order to offer coastal protection on the West Coast from any invaders in the past. I've been to this castle on previous trips as well as Caernarfon Castle.
I hated leaving Wales but it was nice to get away from the stress of London for a few days especially at the moment. We also got a chance to see James' niece and nephew and spend time with his parents. Its amazing how fast the little rugrats grow and I had a good time playing with them and their collection of my little ponies and reading stories. Its a bit of a bummer being back in London but unfortunately nice things have to come to an end I guess. At least we have another break to Morocco in I believe about 6 weeks to look forward to!!!

7.8.07

James and I as Simpson characters

Can you tell I'm bored? Today I found this free site and although its sponsored by Burger King (can't stand fast food) its a bit o'fun to see what you look like as a cartoon. If you look at the picture of James and I in the sidebar this is what it went off of. I think James' one looks more realistic than mine. What do you think? Anyway--if you are bored check it out.



6.8.07

Proms, Palaces and Picnics

James and I had an absolutely glorious weekend. It was the first weekend that there was not a cloud in the sky and it actually resembled the summer. We got out and took advantage of the weather and managed to get some pretty decent sunburns in the process.

Friday we went to:

the PROMS

Every year during the summer London has a 3 month classical music festival where every single day there is a different orchestra performing. Some of the best orchestras in the world play and the last night of the Proms is a national show of patriotism where flags fly for the national anthem and other English songs. Since moving here I've been every year and this year was no exception. We heard the BBC Symphony Orchestra--they played Russian music Stravinsky and Rachmaninov. I particularly liked the Rachmaninov piece---very beautiful smooth melodies. Anyway--we're going next week as well to the Proms so looking forward to it.

Saturday we went to:

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is just in the outskirts of London next to the Thames river. It was the home of Henry VIII (the guy with the many wives). It was absolutely huge and magnificent and reminded me of the palace of Versailles in Paris because of the sheer size of the Palace and gardens. They have activities throughout the Palace such as minstrels, guided costumed tours, etc. They also have a working tudor kitchen which is the oldest 'working' tudor kitchen still in existence. The chefs were making marzipan and bread and it was great fun watching them and the smells were divine. The palace has a deer park (the deer are original descendants of the flock belonging to Henry VIII), the largest and oldest grape vine in existence (planted in the 1700's and still living, produces a grape crop of 600-700 lb a year) and one of the biggest outdoor mazes in the world. In just under 4 hours we managed to see everything except the deer park. It was wonderful and a really great day out. Here are some pictures from the day (there are more on my flickr page):



We ended our weekend by having a picnic in Greenwich Park and reading our books whilst catching some rays in the sun. It was an absolutely wonderful weekend and I wasn't very happy it had to end!

2.8.07

I LOVE..........


..YOGA
I started doing yoga about two years ago and I love it. It clears my mind, heals the soul and absolutely kicks my butt physically. I had a lot of misconceptions about the practice before I started--that you do a lot of chanting 'om' and its 'just' stretching and is 'not really much of a workout'. Boy was I wrong--sure you can chant if you want (most mainstream classes don't do this actually) but its so much more. Its whatever you want it to be really.
Its amazing how much emotion imprints itself on our bodies--the stress, the fears or even a lack of self-esteem. Well-yoga releases this in a way that other exercise doesn't through stretching, deep breathing and a variety of poses and sequences. It utilizes one of those things that you hear a lot about--the mind, body and spirit connection that is so often forgot in our busy lifestyles.
The last few months I've gotten the courage to go to more yoga classes (I used to do mostly dvd's). Its amazing how much I see the improvement being able to physically do things I never could. Its so rewarding knowing that I am getting stronger every day and that I am getting the self-esteem and courage to try more difficult positions. The physical benefits are obvious as I've dropped nearly 4 dress sizes (and still going). The other benefits- emotionally, spiritually and mentally are there too. I am a lot more calm, have a lot more self-esteem, am more centered and I feel like I am finally beginning to heal from a difficult youth.
So this is one thing I love and that is a big part of my life. I am so grateful that I discovered this and look forward to growing and improving in my practice in the future.