17/01/2013

Canada!

I'm just the tiniest bit Canadian. Although I was born in Scotland, I lived in Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario) for a couple of years as a tot and my dad still lives over there today. I went to visit almost every summer of my childhood, and became well acquainted with things like A&W, root beer, Hershey's Kisses, Tim Hortons and Chinooks. 

But I haven't managed to make it out so much in recent years. My summers filled up work and travel with friends, and it became hard to find times which suited both me and my dad. So this year, I decided I'd go in December. Straight into the freezing Alberta winter. 

My first sight of Canada looked like this:


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Snow as far as the eye could see! It was a sight for sore eyes after the miserably wet winter we've been having in the UK. 

My dad was there to meet me at the airport, and we drove down to the city he lives in, Lethbridge, with his lovely wife and my two beautiful half-brothers. We spent a few days just chilling at home and catching up, and me getting over my jet lag, and then headed to the mountains for a few days for some wintery activities.

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At the end of our first day in Canmore, sunset from the balcony looked like this. Pretty spectacular.

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Now, I am not much of a snow bunny. The last time I even had a pair of skis at my feet, I was 8. Hitting the slopes was out of the question for me! But, we did do some cross-country skiing, which was beautiful. I was a little wobbly at first (like Bambi on skis) but soon got the hang of it and was whizzing happily along... until I fell on my arse, that is. Ouch!

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The next day, we got up nice and early and headed for Lake Louise. Ever since I was little I've loved this place, it's just absolutely beautiful. I have never seen it in winter though, under a blanket of snow and ice. Is it just me or does snow make everything infinitely more beautiful? 

My stepmum and brothers were doing some downhill skiing, and as my dad is none too comfortable on skis either, him and I did a spot of hiking.


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It was fantastically cold that day. The car thermometer was showing about -22, and my hair turned to frost. It was quite pretty, but I'm not sure it would have been too good for it's condition!

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Despite the cold, we made it to the top of the trail. Behind me is Mirror Lake, which, as you can tell, isn't much of a lake in winter. It was barely discernible under all the snow. That's Beehive Mountain looming impressively in the background.


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Then it was back to the ski lodge, where I found more ice sculptures to admire, whilst waiting for the skiers to finish up for the day.


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The next day we headed into downtown Canmore to have a bit of an explore. It's such a beautiful little town, mountain views all around and quaint little buildings and shops, some selling some adorable hats...

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In the afternoon we headed over to Banff to have a little mooch around there. I've been to both Canmore and Banff several times before, but have failed to appreciate how lovely and beautiful they are until now. Probably because I was either a child or a moody teenager on every visit, but at least it wasn't lost on me this time.

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I love the street names in Banff. Many of them are named after animals native to the surrounding areas, like Caribou Street, Wolf Street, Elk, Otter, Squirrel, Bear, Moose, Muskrat... Wouldn't it be great to say you lived on Squirrel Street?

After our little mountain vacation was over it was back to Lethbridge, just in time for the boys to go back to school. I got to do lots of big sister things, like watch them at speed skating practice, help them with their homework, embarrass them with questions about girls and make them pose for pictures with me in the snowy back garden. They loved it really! 


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Soon enough my visit was over and it was time for the ever tearful trip back to the UK. It was such an amazing holiday though, and family aside, Canada is a fantastic country. It is so beautiful and I find the people to be incredibly friendly and chilled out. I'm very tempted to look into moving there permanently after I finish at uni. I just love it. If you've never thought about visiting I'd definitely pop it on your list, even if it's just to experience A&W root beer...! (It's that good.)

14/01/2013

a new year

It is already halfway through January and I am just sitting down to write a New Year's resolutions post. But, better late than never. And I thought that, this time, if I publicly document my resolutions I might have a better chance of actually sticking to them.

I usually do make resolutions, but by the time I've got to February I've pretty much forgotten them all so that doesn't really spell success. In fact, the only thing I have stuck at was back in 2004, when I gave up chocolate for Lent and was completely successful... if you excuse the time I ate a yellow Mr Kipling french fancy, which has the tiniest bit of chocolate icing decoration on top. But that was an accident and I didn't realise. So I still count that as a success...

2013 is going to be a big year for me. For one thing, I graduate in June. And after that I'm not really sure what's in store for me. I don't want to get tied down to a proper full time job just yet; university has been quite stressful for me, and I think I'm in need of a bit of fun, some time to relax and to just go crazy, without restrictions, limitations, responsibilities, or expectations. After all, I won't be 22 forever. From June onwards, the world will be my oyster, and all I have to do is set about eating it.

Vague future plans aside, here are my resolutions and little challenges for the year, and some picture highlights of 2012.

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January: A snowy Leeds.

Fitness

In 2012 I really got into running and I want to continue that and build on it. Unfortunately I do most of it on a treadmill, which isn't the most beneficial as you don't get the benefits of being out and about in the fresh air. So I definitely want to stop being a little wuss and incorporate more outdoor runs into my routine. I also really want to get my speed down to 4 minute kilometres and to do one of the Race for Life runs or something similar, and I want to start getting into trail and hill running. Running aside, I want to do more yoga, get my body fat percentage down to about 15% and rock some killer abs in time for bikini season!

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February: this beauty is the last of us to turn 21!

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March: Spring in St Andrews

Academic


As much as I do work hard at my studies, I could still do more.  It's difficult because there's a part of my course that I really dislike, but I've only got another 12 weeks to go and then it's over forever. (Yikes!) I think I can tough it out until then! I also really need to be more vigilant with checking my finished work and redrafting - I've made far too many mistakes in the past that could have been avoided had I read through my work. Rookie mistake.

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April: my dad pays a flying visit from Canada

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May: BFFs from home visit me in Dundee for a raucous night out

Money 


I really, really need to get my spending in check, and to stop thinking that spending money in Primark or on cheap things is okay because you get much more bang for your buck. It's still money I don't have! I should also give up my Starbucks habit, or at least reign it in a little... (or a latte! ha!) I am a poor student, I should live like one.

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June: a week in the south of France with great people and good food.

Friends

As we get older, my group of friends is becoming ever more scattered about the country, even the globe. I want to put in more effort to both my close to home friends and my far flung friendships, and make a more conscious effort to stay in touch. There is nothing worse than realising that you have drifted so far from someone you used to consider a close friend.

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July: Katie visits from Kentucky and we all reunite in Cologne.

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... and we spend some time in the beautiful Ashton Lane, Glasgow.

Blog

titles are scary has been neglected these past few months, and I desperately want to fix that. I'm not always happy with my blog, and sometimes feel that I post things for the sake of posting, or because I feel like that's what I should be posting. When you're not passionate about something it's hard to generate the motivation to actually do it, so I think that's why I've barely posted recently. In 2013, I want to post about things that I really want to write about, that I feel are worth publishing and to post when I want to. Hopefully that will result in posts that I like, and that you'll like too.

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August: Time spent in my home town with family.

Food

I am a terrible cook. Well, I'm not terrible, I can do it, it's just that I'm lazy. Far too often I reach for the ready meals at the supermarket, or I end up snacking on rubbish throughout the day and not sitting down to a proper healthy meal, and I notice the effects this has on almost everything. My energy levels suffer, my skin suffers, stress levels go up, sleeping patterns go out the window and my bank balance just dwindles. It's terrible. I don't know why I do it. Especially when I'm putting so much effort into fitness and running and stuff; how am I supposed to achieve all my running goals when I'm not fuelling my body properly? So this year I'm determined to cook more from scratch, and make nice healthy, nutritious and satisfying meals. 

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September: Jully visits for a whole weekend!

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October: a beautiful, brisk walk on the beach with the birthday girl!

Self

On a superficial level, I want to finally settle on a hair colour that I like and that suits me and stick to it, I want to sort my eyebrows out (!) and refine my make-up application skills, so I look less like a cake, and more like a human being. But on a deeper level, I just want to relax. I have always been a fairly anxious person, but over the past couple of years that's kind of got a little out of hand. Near the close of 2012 I finally took some positive steps to get rid of my stresses and I want to continue this all through 2013 and forever more. I need to stop over-thinking, and just do. 2013 will be my year of doing, of risk-taking, of laughing, of loving, of just plain old living.

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December: visiting my dad in Canada, surrounded by mountainous beauty.

So, those are my resolutions, my little aims and plans for the year. Hopefully by the time 2014 arrives, I can look back at this post and recognise achievements I've made, and not plans I've yet to fulfil. Well, I'm getting my hair and eyebrows done this week so here's hoping that'll already be two items to cross off the list!

Do you have any resolutions this year? Or any advice for me to help me achieve mine?

Oh and before I forget - Happy New Year!! Here's to 2013 :)