I love the Olympics.
The London 2012 Olympic Games were two of the best weeks of my life.
I completely immersed myself into Olympic-fever, and every waking moment I tried to absorb as much action as I possibly could.
And the 2016 Games in Rio is turning out to be almost the same.
Unfortunately, because of the time difference (and the bully-ish style of the US TV networks) a lot of the ‘main’ action isn’t until the very early hours of the morning – but that isn’t stopping me from keeping as up to date with Team GB as possible.
And boy have they been doing well!
Although the successes won’t emulate the overall medal totals of London 2012, the achievements of Team GB four years after are pretty special.
As I mentioned, in 2012 I absolutely immersed myself in the Olympics – I would watch the coverage whilst eating my breakfast, would listen to radio updates on my drive to work, and have alerts and the internet keeping me up to date whilst at work.
I even kept a day-by-day diary, full of notes, pictures and stats as a keepsake from what is likely to be the only Olympics in my home country in my lifetime.
I still have it kept safe alongside my ‘Pride’ the lion mascot, and it helps me remember so many moments from 2012 – I would probably fair quite well on a Team GB / London 2012 pub quiz!
For instance, I remember the first few days and the anxious wait for the first Team GB gold medal – and I remember standing in my living room, telling Matthew and his mum they would have to wait for us to to go out shopping because Helen Glover and Heather Stanning were about to win their Gold medal in the rowing – and the country breathed a sigh of relief.
One of the things I love about the Olympics is being able to watch and support sports that are less likely to be covered by the media – in 2012, for me, that sport was Judo.
I remember sitting in my cupboard-sized office at work, and hearing that one of GB’s female judokas, Gemma Gibbons, was doing quite well – I found a live stream of the coverage, and watched her win her silver medal.
However, the moment that still gives me goosebumps to this day, is when Gemma, after winning one of her matches and looking incredibly disheveled, her hair a mess, her judo jacket pulled open, looked to the skies and mouthed “I love you mum” – Gemma’s mum had sadly passed away and wouldn’t see her win her medal.
I sat there and cried, hoping that none of my colleagues would come to see me.
And then there was Super Saturday
Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, and Jessica Ennis-Hill all won Gold for Team GB within about an hour of each other.
Again, I cried – seeing people who have clearly worked incredibly hard, sacrificed so much and had achieved their goals was so inspiring.
After the Games, Matthew and I regularly watch the Opening Ceremony (yet another one of my absolute highlights – the ‘Queen’ parachuting out of a helicopter…what’s not to love?!) and the daily highlight reel that was put together still allow me to relive and enjoy some of the wondrous moments.
And then 2016 comes along.
In all honesty, I was extremely dubious as to whether it would be even slightly enjoyable to watch.
But I have well and truly caught Olympic Fever…again!
There have been some phenomenal performances (so far – there’s still time left!) – as I write, the GB cycling team are dominating in the velodrome – Laura Trott, Bradley Wiggins, Jason Kenny, the list goes on of the athletes who simply make you watch on the edge of your seat, jaw on the floor, in complete awe of their achievements.
The GB gymnasts have also been extremely successful – eight…yes, eight, medals…we only won four in 2012!
And then some of the lesser known sports – diving, sailing, shooting, canoeing, trampolining….yes, even trampolining – have all added medals to the GB total.
Unfortunately Mo, Greg and Jess couldn’t achieve an exact repeat of Super Saturday – but they each won a medal, with Mo Farah still with the opportunity to achieve a second in the coming days.
So for the next few days, and then again later in the month when the Paralympics start, you’ll find me in front of the TV, or on social media, keeping up to date with some of the most wonderful athletes, and inspirations that Great Britain has to offer.
Well…it’s been a while, hasn’t it?!
Sorry for not posting for a while…the reasons for such should be clear when you’ve finished reading this post, but as time moves forward, I hope to begin posting relatively regularly again soon!
It has certainly been an interesting few weeks.
It will be 1 month on Sunday since Matthew and I left Canada and returned to the UK.
Whilst I have certainly enjoyed some elements of being back (namely food…and seeing family, of course!), I have really struggled to get to grips with the reality of the decision we’ve made.
There are a number of things that I’ve struggled with, that I didn’t realise would affect me so strongly.
The first I felt almost instantly on our drive back to the beautiful Shropshire countryside, on our first day back.
Everything feels incredibly claustrophobic and crowded and small.
The cars all appear so tiny compared to the beasts not only Matthew and I drove in Canada, but the super-duty trucks that were a common sight on Canadian roads.
The little hand-me-down Vauxhall Corsa that my parents have kindly landed to me to get me mobile feels like I’m driving a tiny tin can.
The regular sight of a Fiat Punto, Mini Cooper and Renault Clio make driving over here feel like I’m driving in a toy village.
None of the huge trucks, or even bigger lorries passing you on the motorway (and sorry to my Canadian readers if you don’t understand that…lorries = articulated trucks, and not grandma drivers as my dear friend Kailey once thought, and motorways = highways…there will be a test at the end!!)
The roads themselves also feel so small – the grass verge/hedges at the side of the road are so close it makes it feel very claustrophobic, something which I’m still taken aback by when we drive out through the countryside to visit Matthew’s family.
And don’t get me started on the car parks – small isn’t even the word.
And all that is just stuff on the road!
Another thing I’ve really been struggling with is socialisation.
Now you might think I’d want to spend as much time as possible with the people that I’ve missed the most. And of course I do.
But having gone from being relatively isolated, completely self-sufficient, and somewhat ‘loners’ at home in Canada, having people around who want to see us, and spend time with us, is tough.
I’m trying to be careful to take things slowly, but it is something I’m surprised at how difficult and overwhemling I’m finding it.
And don’t get me wrong, seeing my family, and my dear friends again has been wonderful. I just have to take it steady, and one step at a time.
Another thing I’m having to deal with, particularly this week…and this is very British of me…is the weather.
I am so sick of it being grey, and cloudy, and rainy…what feels like all the time!
And, as I have probably discussed with those of you I’ve had conversations with about the British vs Canadian weather – the air and atmosphere here in the UK is very different to Canada.
The air in the UK is so damp, that when it gets even slightly warm, it gets extremely muggy. The first week Matthew and I were back, the UK was actually having some nice weather – but the air was so muggy, we really struggled to get comfortable – we raided family cupboards for fans to have on, particularly overnight.
And this week, when its been so “blah”, and grey, and rainy, I admit to putting the heating on in our new house just to keep me somewhat warm.
Talking of our new house, that has been something to get used to as well.
We are slowly settling in to the house, but are living somewhat sparsely at the moment until our shipment of furniture and “stuff” arrive from across the pond.
Hopefully it will be with us in a few weeks, and we can enjoy being reunited with all our favourite belongings, and probably some that we think ‘why did we pack that’.
There are some parts of the house that are great – the fact it’s detached is amazing – I haven’t heard a single neighbours voice, or TV, or footsteps, or guitar playing, when I’ve been inside the house *amazing*
The location is also wonderful, Matthew and I really enjoy being so close to the town, and that its a couple of minutes walk to a nearby shop, and fish-and-chip shop, is great!
However the house is also pretty old, and the landlord hasn’t put much love into it – I’ve affectionately nicknamed the house the “wonky warehouse” as the floors are undulating to say the least!
But its our home-for-now, and will certainly help us get set up for the next few months!
The one thing I’m hoping that changes pretty soon is our day-to-day work situation.
Matthew has been lucky enough to get some one-off Paramedic jobs in the few weeks we’ve been back, and there are certainly lots of prospective jobs in the pipeline for him, which is wonderful.
For me, its a waiting game for one of the jobs I’ve applied for to come through and give me a new challenge – boy am I ready for it!
There’s only so much daytime TV I can take – although there being three football (soccer for my Canadian buddies!) games on a day during the Euro’s certainly helps pass the time!
So fingers crossed something progresses soon – and I’m sure all the other things will be a slow adaptation, but I will get there.
To my British friends and family – It’s so good to see you – and I promise it will be more often when things have settled down!
To all my Canadian friends and family – I miss you dearly.
Well….we did it!
Matthew, Karla and I are back home in the UK.
The past week has been a complete whirlwind of activity and emotion.
I feel like we haven’t really stopped since last Tuesday, when we dropped Karla off ready for her journey back.
We then spent the rest of Tuesday and the majority of our day Wednesday somewhat worrying about Karla, but primarily worrying about packing our luggage and cleaning out our rental house.
It was horrible being in the house without Karla – she really does make our little family complete.
Wednesday really was a long day – especially when we had to evenly distribute our baggage allowance between our four bags, and we were so painfully close – but thankfully when we checked in on Thursday afternoon, we were just under – and I admit, I gave Matthew a huge hi-five in the baggage check-in area! *win*
We did manage to enjoy a lovely “final meal”, and had some time to relax in the evening, but Wednesday night into Thursday morning both Matthew and I didn’t get much sleep.
Karla safely landed early on Thursday morning, and I spent some time speaking with my parents who had very kindly travelled to pick her up.
It was a huge sense of relief when Karla was with them and we knew she was safe and sound at home, and we just needed to join her.
Now those of you know know me, will know I don’t really like flying.
However, not only is Matthew extremely good at “dealing” with me in that situation by talking to me and calmly explaining what all the changes in noise and movements are, I had also began using a new app called Headspace, which is a simple meditation program, and actually had a free “fear of flying” session, which I found really helpful. I’ll definitely continue to use it in stressful times, and would certainly recommend it.
The flight itself was pretty uneventful. There was very little turbulence, which I was thankful for!
However the flight itself was a pretty “high-profile” event.
Matthew and I were flying with Air Canada Rouge, the “budget-style” version of the well-known Air Canada.
The flight we were on, from Toronto to London, Gatwick, was actually the inaugural flight for that particular journey for AC Rouge – and I admit, I did briefly wonder whether the pilots would remember which airport to land at!
But it meant that we got a little bit of special treatment – there was a red carpet and celebratory cake when we boarded, and we were given an unexpected meal and free alcoholic drink (I got mine and passed it over to Matthew for him to enjoy!) whilst on board.
The stewards on board were lovely, and one was even kind enough to have a chat with me whilst he was eating his dinner and I was stretching my legs.
Matthew and I were a little worried about the “in flight entertainment” as our flight out to Canada had promised seat-back TVs, and unfortunately that wasn’t to be. We knew flying with AC Rouge that there was no seat-back entertainment, but instead you were able to use their in-flight entertainment system on your own iPhone/iPad/laptop etc.
It actually worked surprisingly well – there wasn’t a vast amount of choice, but there was more than enough to pass the time.
And when we landed, and were eventually allowed off the plane (that part seems to always take forever, doesn’t it?!) we seemed to breeze through – well apart from the stupid “e-passport” system which just didn’t like my face and repeatedly refused me entry!
We collected our bags and made our way out to meet Matthew’s brother David who had generously woken up at the crack of dawn to come and collect us.
I’ll write another post about what we’ve been doing since we’ve been back, but in short everything feels and seems very small and cramped, fish, chips and mushy peas are even better than I remember, and it is extremely surreal being back – something I’m still getting used to!
2 Years, 9 Months, 13 Days
5 House Moves
Numerous near death experiences on the 401 highway
1 College Certificate
1 Broken Bone
2 Cottage Get-Aways
4 Visits to Niagara Falls
2 Blue Jays Games
1 Toronto Raptors Game
7 Family Visits
3 New Years Eve’s
1 Invaluable Adventure
To say the changes that Matthew and I are currently working through are surreal is an understatement.
I am writing this on Tuesday evening, sitting on my mattress in my now empty living room.
We literally have no furniture left – no sofa, no tables, no TV….you name it, it’s gone.
This is also the last night that we will spend in this beautiful house that we have called ‘home’ for the past year-and-a-bit.
We are staying in a hotel tomorrow night just to give us a small break away from the emptiness that our lives have become (more materialistically than emotionally!) and to take away a little bit of the pressure come Thursday when we actually leave Guelph and head back to the UK.
The process we have gone through, particularly over the past ten days since we finished work has been pretty challenging and stressful to say the least.
Having to come to terms with the fact that we are leaving Canada in a case of hours, not days or months, is a daunting and difficult concept to accept – particularly as so much has happened in our time here.
Matthew and I both know moving back is what we need to do to truly “get on” with our lives – but it doesn’t make the changes any easier.
Having to drop our beloved fur-baby (Karla the dog!) off this morning, ready for her journey back to the UK to begin, was tough.
At least if it was a child we were taking back with us, we could explain what is happening, and why – with an animal, of any kind, there isn’t such luxuries.
Having to say goodbye to her was difficult – handing her over to people that we don’t really know, but have to trust her welfare in was tougher – knowing that my amazing parents will be picking her up in less than 48 hours gives me the tiniest trickle of joy in my heart.
I will be delighted to hear from them when they have Karla in sight, let alone their actual hands!
I also believe that having Karla arrive before us will not only give Matthew and I peace of mind to be able to deal with any issues should they arise, but also give me in particular the strength and determination to get on that plane home – it means I will be able to be reunited with my darling puppy-girl again, and that is something I am desperate for right now as I type.
I can’t say enough how much that fur-baby means to the two of us!
So tomorrow, our final full day in Canada, brings a lot of “last minute” tasks – completing our final packing, trips to the thrift/charity shops to make donations, cancelling utilities like our internet, and mobile phones, and most importantly, hopefully having just a little bit of time to enjoy our final day in this wonderful country.
Canada will always be in my heart – and I will miss this place a lot – but it’s time to make the changes we need to move on with our lives and see what the next chapter will bring.