I like that Boulder, That is a nice boulder – 101 in 1001 [5]

Time to tick another off the list.

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I’d been ready to tick another thing off my 101 in 1001  list for a while. In fact, I think I massively need to up my game with this. Bouldering is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time, and a work friend had recently started going and saturating his snapchat with videos on his days off, so I just had to try it!

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I booked a boulder induction for 8.15pm on a Monday evening, perfect timing for most people who shy away from crowded places right? Wrong. It was insanely busy for the first half hour, they had just had their wall re-set, so there were lots of new climbing routes available and the place was packed. The session instructor – Sarah, was incredible though. She first took us on a tour of the facility and did the usual ‘common sense’ training. Finding a quiet spot we each took it in turns to climb up a Slab, Match and then work our way back down. The group took to it quickly so we soon moved on to overhanging walls and a few more complex places. Everyone in the group was either much taller than me or had climbed before so there was one route that I couldn’t quite reach but Sarah was so supportive, she told me bouldering isn’t about reaching the top, its about perfecting technique and progressing, so I may have been three holds off of completing it this time, but next time I should try one more, and i’d soon be at the top.

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-25 at 13.41.43The induction gave me some good tips and we finished off with 40 minutes of free-climb after. I challenged myself to a lot of different routes, and there is one climb right in the middle where you climb onto the top of it, walk along and dismount the other side. This is where I thought I would struggle. It’s not particularly hard, but I get nervous at heights, and with bouldering you have no harness, just a foam floor beneath you. I managed it though, and even went back for more.

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I traversed many routes, and can’t wait to build up my strength to try more. I’ll definitely be returning and am so happy, even with the amount of people at the start being quite intimidating I managed to do it and progress well!

Short but sweet, time to move onto conquering number 6, but bouldering will definitely be something I’ll keep up.

 

 

 

The Beautiful South – 10 things a Northerner has learnt from a year down south

The great 2020 battle of Lincolnshire vs Hampshire

January 2019 I moved to Surrey/Hampshire. A 5 hour journey from home. Not the other side of the world and similar in many ways, but there are definitely some homely comforts I miss, and some new traditions I am totally here for. Here’s 10 things I’ve noticed from my move.

  1. People just ‘hang out’ at service stations

Ok. This is something I noticed when I spent my first few months living in a  hotel and finishing work at gone midnight. The only places open for food were service stations and on many, many, many drives ‘home’ I noticed so many people just chilling in their cars, meeting up with friends and generally just hanging out. Not stopping mid journey, flat out making the drive there and back for that purpose.

When I bought it up to my colleagues (18-24 year olds) they got so excited saying they often meet their friends there or stop off for food after a night out.

9 months later I found myself doing the same thing, because absolutely nothing else is open at 1am. But I only did it twice, and it’s still a foreign concept to me.

2. Kebab vans are perfectly viable and not a ploy to kidnap and murder you

Ok this one I noticed when I used to just visit occasionally. The odd van just perched up in a dark off-set of a roundabout. I always noticed the same one, but they became more prevalent, and are pretty popular. As there aren’t many clubs around here you have to travel to them, and if you’re wanting anything other than a McDonalds then a kebab van is the way to go, rent is incredibly high here too so the flexibility and low outgoings are actually a good business model, but damn, there will always be something dodgy to me about stopping at one of them.

3. People tend to settle less – want to achieve more.

My friends have always been high achievers, but that’s a small group of people I know up North that have genuinely sought out better things for themselves. Most settle down early in 9-5’s, and that’s perfectly ok, but I notice so much more fight and tenacity from southerners. After all – working is such a large percentage of your life, why do something you don’t enjoy or work yourself ill to line the pockets of someone else.

4. Northerners are a facade of friendliness, southerners have tougher skin but will help you out way more.

I think it’s safe to say I’ve encountered my fair share of tough calls down here. One thing I was late to realise though was the sincerity of friendliness between the North and South is vast. It is often remarked on how Northerners are more polite and friendly, you’d meet your new best friend in a toilet on a night out, help the lady struggling with bags at the bus stop, pick up a dropped belonging of a stranger in the street. I’ve noticed a lot of generic politeness in the North, and more understanding, however down south there is so much more sincerity when people are actually nice to you, albeit the percentage of times it happens is smaller it is met with genuine vibes of wanting to help and going above and beyond to do that.

5. Phone calls.

The south is helping me overcome my crippling anxiety around phone calls. Voice messages are now the norm for me, and although I still screen certain unknown calls, I’ll actively have 40 minute phone calls with friends and family. I don’t think this was due to being away from them as we still text a lot, southerners just ring for anything and that’s something I’ve adopted. In such a fast-paced way of life down here you don’t often have time to sit there writing (much to the demise of my frequent blog posts) so multitasking anything saves bundles of time.

6. Safety.

Walking around Grimsby is nothing, when I go on midnight runs here everyone freaks out but its perfectly safe and my northern attitude sees to that, on the other hand I wouldn’t even dare leave a penny on show in my car up north but down here people leave laptops, purses, handbags and so much just on show in their car without a second thought.

7. Repression.

Everyone hides their problems up north, it’s so tough to talk about things and only a handful of people from home know my battles, here everyone knows, i’m actively open about a lot more without the fear of hiding because confrontation is the only fix and I have a solid support structure here.

8. Distance.

Driving 45 minutes for a meal would definitely not be a regular occurrence back home, you get stuck in a rut, or at least a pattern, it can become quite tiring. Here I have a large circle from Basingstoke to Reading, Outer London to Guildford, Portsmouth to Southampton that genuinely doesn’t seem like a lot of distance. It opens up a world of possibilities for activities and choices of entertainment, but isn’t friendly to your wallet.

9. Pace.

It’s absolutely non-stop down here. Things are expected to be done, and be done quickly. At times it definitely is overwhelming but realistically (and generally speaking) the constant procrastination of the Northern attitude means you are working little and often and not achieving a whole lot whilst you’re at it. Being pushed to do things sees a more positive attitude as you can measure your success.

10. Expenses.

The most obvious and given. Everything is more expensive down south.

12 hours in Belgium – 101 in 1001 [4]

4AM.

PASSPORT IN HAND.

WHERE AM I HEADED?

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Well there is a big clue in the title for you all, but for my snapchat audience my last day off posed that very question to them.

I had finished work at 7pm last Tuesday with little in the way of plans for my day off the next day. Ticking something off my list seemed appropriate – drive in another country? That is when a very impromptu day trip on the eurotunnel showed up.

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£30 later tickets had been booked for a 6.30am crossing and 10.30pm departure back. Who says days off have to be dull?

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I frequented France regularly when I was younger, and I would never turn down a trip there as I feel so at home.

Wednesday called for something different, but driveable. Bruges was a college trip for me, but you don’t get to see the best parts of a city on a college trip, an hour and a half from the eurotunnel – done.

 

 

Screenshot (10).pngI’d done little research into what to do whilst there but I wanted to find the right balance of doing activities and not feeling rushed or feeling like I was missing out.

Driving into Belgium we stopped in a small town called Jabbekke – purely because it sounded like Jabberwocky and made us laugh for some peculiar reason. I donned my big boots and climbed into the drivers seat.

I’m lucky enough to adapt quickly to things, it’s a blessing and a curse but this time was lucky. Driving around Jabbekke did not seem too challenging so I found myself on the motorway headed to Brugges, before long we were actually there and I was driving around the city centre. Parking was my downfall and it wasn’t my car so we pulled up and swapped before exploring.

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-11 at 13.25.32 (2)Walking around Bruges central square was beautiful! Immediately I knew I wanted to climb the Belfry tower to see it from above, but it was quite cloudy and due to clear up soon so we headed to a 10am brewery tour – because why not!

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The Half-Moon Brewery

The half-moon brewery is Bruges longest standing family run brewery with a lot of history. It is famed in Bruges for having built a pipeline underneath the city when they opened their bottling factory outside the centre in 2016. Locals joked about tapping into the pipe for unlimited beer as well as them uncovering lots of historical artifacts when the project was going on.

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-11 at 13.25.32 (6)I’ve never been on a brewery tour before, the best fact I heard was one of their beers is brewed in different recycled kegs each year. These kegs have imprints of their past alcohol which transfers to the beer for a unique taste. It’s certainly one way to keep punters returning. Previous years have played host to spirits such as port and cognac.

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-11 at 13.24.21 (13)The views from the chimney were beautiful.

WhatsApp Image 2020-02-11 at 13.24.21 (4)Trialling unfiltered Zut Blond topped the tour off.

The Belfry Tower

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Next on the adventure was climbing 366 steps of the belfry tower. 366 does not seem like a lot at all but it must have been the way it was laid out that made it challenging. Nonetheless worth it to see the stunning views from the top.

A repeat watch of In Bruges is needed after this trip.

 

 

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We felt like we had seen the highlights of Bruges, 230 miles from London, we may as well make the most of it – so next headed to Gent.

 

 

 

Gent.

Gent isn’t one of the tourist hotspots of Belgium but definitely has some unique places to see. After a little bit of shopping (I couldn’t resist when I saw one of my favourite shops that does not retail in the UK) we headed to the Castle – Gravensteen.

Next was time for some famed Belgium waffles, weirdly we didn’t opt for this in Bruges but it was just too early there. I had a light waffle – there are two types, with nutella and banana. The highlight was a Gent specialty that came complimentary with my coffee – Cuberdons. It is a sugary triangle of violet and berries.

Finally we headed to Graffiti street for some incredibly vain but much needed photographs.

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Gent had a lot of hidden gems, it seemed like an eclectic blend of art deco in the off-track square, traditional architecture and modern shopping buzz.

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I need to return to visit the Shoe bar (a bar with over 500 beers and they serve them in glasses shaped of shoes that are so big they take a shoe as a deposit so you don’t steal it, they put it in a basket and raise it to the roof!) and see more of the sights that are less tourist driven.

Driving back we arrived in plenty of time to visit cite-europe, a shopping centre next to the eurotunnel. We took a detour into the largest beer and wine shop that I have ever see and realised it was very much a place wives leave their husbands when they want to go shopping as there was a bar inside. It offered tasters of beer but these patrons were certainly doing more than tasting. I had a unique fruity beer – not a favourite but I wanted something light for the journey.

There’s not much to say about the return journey, the crossing was bumpy and there was at least 6 diversions on the way home but climbing into bed for as much sleep as I could get before a day of work topped off a fantastic day trip to Bruges and another thing to tick off my list!