Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Lizzie watches the London Marathon!


This weekend my Dad completed an amazing achievement, his second London marathon! He covered 26 miles in under 5 hours, which is mind boggling to me (I currently can't run 5km!) and we're all super proud of him! 


To start the weekend we headed over to the Excel Arena/Exhibition so my Dad could register. Not going to lie, it was absolutely heaving so wasn't a fun experience and we couldn't look round the exhibition bit at all, i suspect there were many freebies missed out on!  



Early on Sunday morning, the marathon begin and Dad set off on his massive 26 mile journey through London. As my family and I are obviously not locals, it was our mission to navigate to areas we had never even heard of so we could meet Dad and give him some support! Trying to pick him out amongst the thousands of runners was a challenge, thankfully Dad kept us updated on where he was with messages and photos. Our favourite way to work out how close he was to passing us was spotting Chris Evans off of the Radio who was a few minutes in front, although Dad did run with him at one point and had a quick chat - pretty cool!


 Having been to support Dad run the marathon a few years ago and supported marathon runners with Oxfam, I know how uplifting, inspiring and wonderful watching this event and cheering on the runners can be. Most people have their names on their shirts and seeing them grin and wave through the pain or visibly spurred on by you calling out and supporting them is a joy!

Every time I've been to watch the marathon I've been incredibly inspired by those running, it's on my bucket list to run a marathon so hopefully one day I'll commit to it! It's always a really fun experience to go along and support the runners, we had such a good day exploring bits of London and cheering like crazy every time Dad ran past!


This year, my Dad was running for three incredible charities that are close to my family's heart; Yorkshire Cancer Centre, Dementia UK and Barnardo's. You can still donate if you fancy giving some money to those amazing charity's who's work is literally life changing! (And probably making my Dad's heavy legs feel a bit better in spirit!)


Lizzie 
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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Lizzie goes Skiing!


Now the ski season is over, I've found myself reminiscing about my trip to France at the start of February. I've been a skier since a young age and it's the only sport I can actually say i'm good at, it's my absolute favourite hobby! It gets your heart going, it's fast paced and has fantastic views, what more could you want? My annual trip to Les Gets with family and friends this year was a fantastic one, here's some of the snaps from the week!


Seriously though, this was the view from my room in our family friend's chalet, waking up to this is always an absolute joy.



The genuine bane of my existence is carrying skis, it's so uncomfortable and awkward (massive first world problem - happy to have it!) so when the snow is as amazing as it has been in the last couple of years, we can ski down the actual road home!



Every year we take a trip across the valley to Mont Cherie and stop for usually a leisurely and boozy lunch at a restaurant called the Grand'or. The food is fantastic and just look at that view of Les Gets! Amazing. Plus they have dogs so, it's a happy place for me!






As i'm a pretty confident skier, i'm not one to go for a neutral ski suit, that's me in the middle in the fluorescent yellow zebra all-in-one! I've had this suit for a good six years and it's fully on it's last legs now, but I can't bear to let it go, it definitely makes me easy to spot on the side of a mountain! 



The food and drink is always intensely good when skiing. Always carb heavy and always delicious! I literally can't resist a good goats cheese salad when I see one on a menu, it's an addiction. Below is a picture of what came with a coffee..!


There's such a sense of freedom in skiing that keeps me coming back again and again, there's nothing like pushing myself till my legs burn in deep powder. Already looking forward to my next trip!!

Lizzie
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Friday, 10 April 2015

Sophie Travels - Elephant Village, Luang Prabang



When travelling through Laos, one of our first stops was the beautiful town of Luang Prabang. I was super excited about stopping here for a number of reasons; the waterfalls, the buffalo burgers, and most importantly, the Elephants. Both Bex and I love Elephants, in fact we're volunterring on an Elephant sanctuary for two weeks at the end of our trip (cannot wait!). You really have to love them to be willing to clean up after them for two weeks in 30 degree heat! I'd been wanting to do some sort of Elephant experience though before then, and was wary about doing so in Thailand given the rather unethical treatment of the Elephants. I'd been told that the treatment was much better in Laos and to go see them there instead. When we got to Luang Prabang, our guide recommended visiting Elephant Village, and we leapt at the opportunity!

We were picked up about 9am and taken about half an hour out of the city and up to a gorgeous little resort. It turns out Elephant Village also has a hotel where you can stay and do a few days with the Elephants. It's probably for the best that we didn't know this beforehand as we would have struggled to resist staying, even with the hefty price. The "village" consisted of a big green courtyard with a feeding station, a small raised wooden deck and a hut with free coffee (which I absolutely took advantage of). There was an Elephant at the feeding station, completely at ease, eating it's way through a pile of sugar cane. As soon as our welcome talk was over I pretty much ran to the Elephant to give it some love and attention. She was so calm and friendly, I couldn't stop beaming!




While we fussed over the Elephant, a member of staff told us about the Elephants they kept there; all female and all rescued. Apparantly females are a lot easier to look after than males! I learnt about how they can communicate through vibrations in the ground, how Asian and African Elephants differ, how they are one of the few animals that appear to be self-aware, how they bond with their children, mourn the loss of fellow elephants, and really feel emotion.  As we recieved our talk, the Elephants came back from their morning walk. It was rather impressive to see a line of ten or so Elephants wander through the courtyard! The staff prepared them for riding and we climbed up to the raised deck, ready to board our Elephant.

It was a bit disconcerting to be told to stand on the Elephants back in order to get into the chair. I was so worried I was going to hurt it, which the Mahout (driver) found incredibly amusing as he told me she could handle it. They seem so gentle, you forget how strong they really are! We sat in the little chair at the back and the Mahout sat on the neck and lead our Elephant down to the river. Going down the steep slope to the river was a little terrifying as we felt like we were literally going to be thrown out of the chair, but we survived and the Elephant walked through the river and to a sandbank further ahead. 




On the sandbank, our Mahout jumped off and told us we could have a go leading the Elephants by sitting on the neck. It was a pretty scary prospect, given how unstable we felt just in the chair, but we gave it a go! It was an amazing experience! After the awkward climb down to the neck, you realise you have absolutely nothing to hold on to. But it only took a couple of minutes to get used to the movement, and to stop feeling like you're about to slide off sideways. We practiced the commands for "stop" and "go" with mixed results, they could clearly tell we were new to this. When we reached the end of the sandbank, the Mahout jumped back on, but into the chair rather than on the neck and let me continue to steer the Elephant through the river and back to the village! I like to think it's because I was an excellent mahout, and will happily ignore any suggestion that it's something they do it with every tourist!






When we got back to the courtyard they lead the Elephants round to the feeding station where we got to feed them bunches of bananas. We got ridiculously excited by this and ended up buying extra to give to our Elephant. She was so beautiful, we never wanted to leave! But eventually they were led back to the river where they had baths before being taken across to the shelter they live in on the other side. The staff said they never work beyond 1pm, and will only do a maximum of two rides on a morning - just enough to earn the money to keep the rescuse centre running. I was so pleased to see the Elephants were treated decently. We'd heard such horror stories about places in Thailand, but they never once hit them or harmed them or even shouted here. They just spoke to them and walked with them. It was such a wonderful day and made me even more excited to work at the Elephant sanctuary in June! Have you ever worked with Elephants before?

Sophie
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