Friday, October 9, 2015

Foto Friday

 One year ago today...
I was writing blog posts about last year's trip walking from village to village in the Cotswolds area.

 And.... Kazi had just rescued 2 sassy little kittens. Look at Lily sticking out her tongue! Honestly, it's always hanging out just a tad. When I see her licking herself her tongue looks like it's a foot long! I think she must have been abandoned due to her deformity!

Here's a more recent photo of her letting it all hang out! And what's with those demon eyes? Should I be worried??

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Before and After

Hi everyone - we're back!! ( me & Annie of Northern Living Allowance) I'm still sorting through photos and posting daily albums on Facebook. When that job is done I'll do a day by day description of this year's trip like I did last year. In the meantime (due to gearing up for a long drive out to PEI - more on that later) I'll post when I can.

Frankly, I think we look more tired in the first picture which was taken in the Metro station and we hadn't even taken the first step of our cross-country expedition! It's probably just the harsh flourescent bulbs emphasizing our bags and wrinkles, yeah, I'm sure that's what it is...'cause I KNOW we felt like teenagers about to have an incredible adventure - what could go wrong? Blisters and sore feet, rashes and sore achilles tendons were the furthest things from our minds - we were invincible!

And we were! Invincible that is...we lost track of our many aches and pains and no matter how tired and sore we were (and we were really sore) when we went to bed we woke up feeling better and ready to hit the trail. Mostly.

Calamity Jane and Annie (get your gun) Oakley - Day One
 We got to use our rain gear on the very first day - yippeeee!!! And many times more over the next few days. We got to be super fast at putting on our jackets etc when the first drops started to fall - the problem was it would start and stop raining about 100 times a day! Phew! We faced rain, mud, gale force winds and then sunshine (we're in short sleeves on our last day of hiking) - at least it didn't snow!
Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane - Day Seven
 On our last day of walking we encountered an older gent making an extra pound or two by posting where hikers were from and the mileage on a signpost he created and taking photos. A nice keepsake - behind us is Scotland!
A long long way from home!
Before I sign off I just want to say that the world of blogging has brought many special people into my life - people I'd never have met otherwise.  Annie is one of those people. I think Hadrian's Wall would have been hard to do on my own and I'm glad I didn't have to. Annie was always positive and though we both had moments when we wondered what the heck we were doing out in the middle of nowhere with the rain pouring down and the wind almost blowing us over we kept going, encouraging each other. We learned to appreciate and take great joy in the little things - a hot cuppa, a bathtub, a bowl of hot soup and a crusty bun, and managed to keep our sense of humour most of the time :)

Thank you Annie - WE DID IT!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Window or Aisle?

It is now less than 24 hours before boarding a British Air plane that will whisk me off to parts unknown. How cool is it that you can now select your seat (window or aisle....?window or aisle...?) and print off your boarding pass before leaving your house? I'm ready to get right on the plane!

Look - there I am waving! (Yes, I cut my hair today :)  The pilot looks confident don't you think?

Everything seems to be going very smoothly therefore I must be forgetting something very important but I can't think what. My suitcase contains...

  • undies, sports bras, socks & liners, extra socks for walking shoes, flip flops, Pjs, Cliff Bars and trail mix to snack on while hiking - CHECK
  • tank tops, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, fleece, sweater - CHECK
  • hiking pants, jeans, black tights - CHECK
  • toiletry bag (plus scissors, duct tape, sewing kit, lotion for my feet and leg muscles etc etc), UK adaptor, eye drops, extra bandaids, pills/vitamins, book, maps, itinerary - CHECK
Hey livingrichonthecheap - just wanted to show you the smaller duct tape rolls that are available but for the life of me I don't remember where I got it?? 

For a purse I'm taking my "unlearn" bag that I bought at Sunfest a few years ago. It has a long adjustable strap so I can wear it across the front of my body leaving my hands free. 

 The front above and the other side below. It has multiple zippered compartments and lots of space.
The outer zippered compartment on the front contains my passport and boarding pass. Also in my purse: my iPad and iPod, camera, phone, crosswords puzzles, sudokus, pencils & sharpener, pens, gum, lip balms, chargers, book, journal & small notebook, kleenex, map, wallet & ID. Separate money belt.

Yup, I'm good to go.
Window seats are my preference. What's yours?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Preparations are Afoot!!

I waterproofed my boots today.  I <3 my boots, I really do. They are so comfy and keep my feet warm, dry and unblistered. I like to wear a pair of sock liners and then a pair of hiking socks over them. The only time I've had wet feet was when I walked in an area where the water was up to my knees :(   The downside of going on hiking trips is I have to wear my boots on the airplanes and trains as they are kind of big and awkward to fit into my suitcase. So I wear them. I keep the laces loose and slide them off when I'm sitting down.

 And my pack guessed it...PACKED!  I have a new day pack from Mountain Equipment Co. I wore it around the house today to see how the weight felt. Not bad, not bad at all! My other backpack is just a Roots backpack, meant more for school than as a day pack-it isn't very comfortable after a couple of hours as it tends to dig into my shoulders. My new pack spreads the weight out to my hips so I don't feel it in my shoulders at all!

It is all set to go - I have two water bottles in the side pockets and where it wraps around my waist there are 2 pockets for snacks.

In one pocket I have kleenex, toilet paper and ziploc bags :) In another pocket are my sunhat and warm headband if it gets cold. Close to the top is a pocket with a rain cover in it so if it rains I pop it over the pack to keep everything dry. I also have a small first aid kit, wet wipes, lip balm and gum. Oh, and a partial roll of duct tape!  No self-respecting Canadian goes anywhere rustic without duct tape. I know I used it a couple of times last year.  In the main compartment I have my rain jacket all rolled up tightly and a pair of rain pants. My raincoat has a hood that fits over my hat - I tried it on to make sure.

And I tried putting on my selection of rain pants to see which pair, if any, I could pull up without having to take my boots off and I had success with just one pair. That's all I need. I can't imagine getting caught in a deluge and having to take off my boots in order to put on my rain pants. Gotta make things as easy as possible.

Next challenge - the suitcase!!

PS - I'm already thinking about my next trip!! There is a path called the "London Loop" which is "140 miles of secret countryside to walk in a green corridor around London." Doesn't that sound fab?!?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Counting Down!

In just a few days I'll be hopping the pond to meet up with Annie!!  We'll connect in Manchester and travel by train to Newcastle upon Tyne. We're spending two nights there and then will walk across Britain, following Hadrian's Wall, until we reach Bowness on Solway, a small village on the west coast.  That will take a week to complete. From there we'll catch our separate trains from Carlisle, Annie returning to New Forest and me carrying on to York for a few days. So excited!!!

This year I'm doing a few things differently. After my trip last year I made a list of things "not to do" and things to change for my next trip. Here are the changes:

  • I hated the long LAYOVERS I had last year, specifically at the airport in Iceland where I paid extortionate prices for food/drinks. From now on I'm going to pay a little extra in order to have brief layovers!! Both layovers for this trip are at Heathrow (Toronto to Heathrow then a short flight to Manchester and then the reverse coming home) My first layover is 1 1/2 hours and the second coming home is 2 hours and 15 min. 
  • Don't wear ANY makeup on flights - my face gets sweaty and it's hard to maintain an oil-free complexion especially when you don't get a chance to remove makeup for 36 or more hours. So I think it'll be easier to just go without anything on my skin at all. Then I can splash water on my face from time to time during flights/train trips etc
  • Wear clothing that doesn't have any METAL snaps, buttons etc. - I was frisked on a regular basis because all the metal snaps on my hiking pants kept triggering the scanner. It got so I just "assumed the position!"
  • Less/smaller CARRY ON baggage - last year I had a backpack as my carry on and also had a large purse. This year I'm still taking a backpack but my purse is much smaller and goes across the body so my hands are free. 
  • Last year I ended up wearing the same outer wear zip up athletic top EVERY DAY!! It had two zip up pockets which was just perfect - one pocket for my camera and one pocket for my phone. Usually after an hour or so of walking I would take it off and tie it around my waist. So what I'm getting at is I'm taking less clothing - I know now what works and what doesn't. I think I can reduce the amount of clothing I took last year. (though waiting to see what the forecast will look like later on next week)
  • Less STUFF- I took things with me last year that I didn't use such as binoculars. They are awkward to pack and stayed in my suitcase during the whole trip last year. 
  • CONDENSE - instead of taking several pill containers put 2 weeks supply into one container. Instead of bringing regular-sized hair products squeeze enough for 2 weeks into little bottles. And so on.
So there you have it - my few pearls of wisdom to make this trip a little easier....I hope. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

POST 1000!!

So what the heck should I talk about for my 1000th post?? is one of the first posts I wrote dated March 24, 2009 which illustrates perfectly where I was at and why I was blogging.

*Prior to this blog I had one other personal blog plus I contributed several times weekly to a group blog that had 4 members - my brother Gord and a husband and wife duo who were mutual friends of ours. That blog was called "Four Mugs and a Crock"; us being the mugs and occasionally having a guest blogger take the "Crock" personna. It was a ton of fun and I was sad when it dwindled away to nothing; mostly because Gord and I started our own "spin off " blogs :)

So did I succeed with my retirement goals? - I'll let you be the judge!

"My five year plan, if successful, will allow me to retire on a reduced pension two years earlier than waiting for a full pension. That means "freedom 58" rather than "freedom 55" but since I didn't get into teaching until I was 36 I have to hang in there a little longer than most.

Taking a reduced pension means approximately $375 less per month. For me, it's not about the money, it's about realizing my goals sooner. Is it worth it to me to have two extra years of retirement instead of having an extra $375 a month? That sound you just heard was my resounding YES!

So to make that happen I have to plan. In five years I want to be debt-free and have approx. $125,000 in savings, not counting my home equity. Now, my blog isn't directed to those folks to whom $125,000 is spare change (although there are 373 fewer billionaires than there were a year hoo...) but is instead aimed towards people like me, who have worked hard all their lives to make an honest living, who have lived on ONE income, who may be a single parent like me, and don't want to retire with nothing more than the old age supplement.

Yes, my numbers are modest but I believe in "living small". Forced to live frugally for most of my life, living on a reduced pension with savings to back me up and no debt to weigh me down sounds pretty manageable.

We'll see how it goes....."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Time is on My Side

Time these days just gets away from me - I can feel it slipping through my fingers like sand. I thought that once I retired time would slow down a little bit but it hasn't. There is so much to see and do and I have to balance that with equal amounts of down time. Those of you who are introverts like me will understand that. Extroverts derive their energy from being around other people while introverts enjoy the company of others but regain their energy by spending time alone.

Like most introverts I do better in small groups (2-4 people) and like 1:1 time spent with a close friend as opposed to large group parties and events where I tend to feel lost and invisible. I don't have the gift of "small talk" - I can wing it for awhile but then feel exhausted afterwards. I don't mind attending "games night" or "progressive euchre nights" because there is an activity that we are all involved in but having to "mingle" at a party is difficult and I tend to avoid those.

In speaking with my introverted brother he admitted that he sometimes "lies" to others who are requesting him to attend certain social functions because he really doesn't want to go. So he'll invent something in order to bow out gracefully. I had to laugh at that because sometimes I do the same thing! I now find myself really weighing whether I want to attend certain events or not and if I don't want to go I don't. Sometimes I make up a reason and sometimes (depending on the event and people involved) I can explain myself honestly.

My real friends know me well and understand but there are others who don't get it. But I'm at the point in my life now when I feel I can and should do exactly what I want. If I don't want to go to something then I don't go; instead of suffering through it, regretting the time wasted and swearing to myself I'll never do that again. So that's why I love this quotation below which Meryl Streep quoted as words she lives by. (Original author is Jose Micard Teixeira)

It's all about being honest - with yourself and with others.

 “I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” Meryl Streep quoted it as words she lives by!
Update: originally written by self-help author José Micard Teixeira.

So I cut my own hair!
I don't want to waste any more time. For some reason now that I'm retired it seems easier to say NO. In the past I would go to things because I felt (wrongly) that I was being antisocial if I didn't go. Now I understand myself better and am gradually developing a life that suits me better. I can choose between saying yes and no. I'm not becoming a hermit - I do say yes to things but I'm also giving myself time for my solitary pursuits: reading , writing, sewing, carving, genealogy, cycling and other, more artsy pursuits. 

And there's nothing wrong with that!