Lifes too short…

We was staying in the beautiful lodge, Hog Hollow, near Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. Knowing full well that just up the road from here is Bloukrans bridge, the worlds highest commercial bungee jump.

Me being me, couldn’t just let this slip past me. After all we had travelled many thousands of miles to enjoy the best of what South Africa has to offer!

Im not a huge fan of heights so it had been playing on my mind for a while…should I, shouldn’t I??…

Well, what an experience. Here’s a little video.

Shark Cage Diving

Only taken 6 months but finally got around to sorting this video out! This trip is precisely why I bought my GoPro and so happy with the results, although I may not have enjoyed it quite so much on the day – the water was choppy and spent the next hour acquainting myself with a sick bag!

Hope you enjoy our Great White Shark encounters from South Africa.

…2017 already??

Seems as though every new year appears and I wonder where the previous one had gone..Its easy to contemplate the years successes and failures and to some degree thats a good thing, right? helps us to learn from our misgivings and its important to sometimes celebrate the successes.

But heres the thing. I look at this last year and think to myself, thats been a good one, sure there has been some things I wish I had approached differently but would I want to change anything. For better or worse? Nah…Im happy with the path life is taking me. All I can do is make sure I put the effort in to enjoy the ride.

This past year has seen lots of fun, laughter, tantrums and tears but one thing is for sure, this coming year will be even better. I don’t like the whole new year resolution thing. It works for some but its not something I want to hold over myself or others. I have a few simple things in life where I want to do better but I’m prepared for little mishaps but will be sure to put the effort in to realise success.

But here is one thing Ill certainly put on the table. I MUST blog more. In 2016, we have been fortunate to create so many life affirming memories but Ive not shared that. Must do better. So on 1st Jan 2017, here is my first post..an acknowledgement of a 2016 failing but a celebration of things to come.

Enjoy life. We will!

Where to next?

My wife Emma is forever telling me I'm annoying! This, and trust me, is for many reasons. But, for all my faults, she sticks with me! But, the one thing that does annoy her is my constant wanting/need to book another trip, sometimes a year in advance and quite often before we have been on the numerous other trips we have booked.

Every year, and I've said this before, we tend to have a long(er) holiday, often long-haul and more than likely just cost us a pretty penny! So having just returned from a trip to Marrakech, I sat down and out of the blue just asked if we should go to Japan next year…or Canada…or Cambodia…or…

Emmas face firmly planted in to the palms of her hands!! “Can we get the next couple holidays out of the way first?!“, she said. I was quickly shot down when I suggested a long weekend to Jordan…or Israel…or…!!

Well, this is my problem. We have had a great time in Marrakech, and have South Africa tour in a few months, followed by couple trips to Italy (with one of them taking in the sites and sounds of the Monza Formula 1 Grand Prix!).

We both work very hard and don't get me wrong, it sounds as though we are minted. Trust me, we have our debts, our luxuries and usual day to day BS. We just like to put some cash away specifically for holidays. The problem is (my problem) is that I just want to do as much as possible in a very short space of time!

Quit your job I hear you shout….well, that's just not me or us. We both love our home comforts. It's just great to experience as many pleasures this world has to offer before it's too late.

Am I the only one like this?

Marrakech – what better way to see it than run around it!

We have just returned from Marrakech having spent 4 days and nights. We went to Marrakech with friends with the purpose of doing the Marrakech half-marathon – the annual event where circa 7000 people descend on this city with their trainers ready to hit the tarmac (and avoid pot-holes – which I quickly learnt to keep an eye out for!).

Marrakech is one of those places where I have always wanted to go to but will find excuses to not. Whether that is because there are other places I want to go to first, I don’t know, but it always seemed to slip out of my grasp. However, this year, we had paid and secured our position in the 27th annual Marrakech Marathon (half).

The marathon was held on Sunday 31st Jan, one day after our arrival. The anxious breakfast followed but the healthy walk to the start quickly widened our view to what we have signed up for! Nevertheless, it was something none of us had done before and one of those kinda goals in life. We wasn’t in it to break records but finish with a smile on our face. And finish we did (not sure about the smile!). No blistering times but at least the efforts put in over the winter seemed to pay off. Some aches and groans ensued but otherwise we was all good.

Our post race recovery included pizza and beer. Yes, even in a Muslim country you can find establishments that serve beer! It was whilst we was supping back our second beer (or it may have been our 4th or 5th!), we met a chap who had travelled out to Marrakech on his own for the sole purpose of competing in the Marathon.
Now this guy, as it turned out, was actually quite the “enthusiast”. He trained many days a week and can comfortably do a sub 3 hr marathon. Basically, in a completely different league to us! But, we had some interesting conversations.
We both didn’t “like” running, we did it to help battle the bulge! But the more you do it, the more it becomes second nature. I was learning this in my fledgling running years. What he said to me was that running helped him explore the world he has longed to see. He has competed in Siberian, holy (Jerusalem), North-American etc marathons. This rang true. Why else would I be here? I have wanted to visit but other places, other things, got in my way. Participating (competing sounds too competent for me!) in the Marrakech half-marathon has enabled us to see a part of the world we perhaps wouldn’t have done had we not donned those trainers.
So where to next…??

 

Marrakech Here We Come

So, not sure if I’ve mentioned but Emma and I are doing our first half-marathon this coming weekend (31st Jan ’16) in Marrakech…yay!!! YAY!!! – I almost sound excited!!

We are going with some friends of ours who last September asked if we would be interested in doing the half-marathon with them. Sure, I said, why not?? Sounds like a great idea. I have wanted to go to Marrakech for a long time. Well, after having knee surgery in 2014 (cartilage removed) and then compound-fracture of my big toe in summer 2015, I thought what better way to kick-start 2016 but to dust off my trainers, grease my aching joints and get my lazy backside up and out!!! [*cough* – I’m an idiot]

Emma had been running for quite a while but me on the other hand have done absolutely nothing since my knee op. Truth be told, quite glad about that too…So I have zero idea what made me think that a few months training, heading in to the crappiest part of the year for weather was a great idea. >> Fast Forward a few months…

With less than a week to go I can say that Emma and I are feeling confident but with a hint of nervousness, if that makes any sense!!? We have over the last few months got ourselves out running in the wind and rain, whether that be for a 5K, 10K or 15K. Sure, I could have done more (drank less, eaten less etc), but I’m comfortable. I’m not aiming to smash any records. In fact, our aim as a group is to stick together, run at the pace of the slowest and just finish it it one piece. [Anyone would think we was heading off to war..]

par1

 

On Saturday Morning we catch our flight to Marrakech. We have a day of getting our bearings (although I’ve heard that’s very difficult in the Medina?), then race day on the Sunday. We then have a few days of exploring before catching a return flight back to the UK.

I will certainly be sure to post our thoughts and experiences when we return. In the meantime, if you have any recommendations and tips for our trip then please share.

Homeland

It was an unusual feeling but in November 2015 I seen my grandmother for the first time in approximately 10 years. There is no particular reason for not seeing her for so long. Life I suppose, in some unfortunate and selfish turn of events. I cant even use the fact she lives in Germany as an excuse – its only an hours flight away!

My wife and I took my mum too. She also hasnt seen her mum for 10 years. Truth be told, the last time we seen my grandmother was when she had settled in to a new care facility following a harsh stroke that forced her out of her home and in to long term care. Her husband, my grandfather, had died about a year before following many health deteriorating years. This was a direct result of the lifestyle he led Im sure. The disappointing part of all this was that my grandmother was just getting her life back after spending many years looking after her husband, that she too, unexpectedly, suffered the same fate as her husband. A major stroke closed the door on so many more able-bodied years and placed her in to a lifetime of care.

Over the first few years, we all kept in touch, but then somehow it all stopped without explanation. In this time, we understood my grandmother to not be in great shape. Whether this is just age related or consequence of her condition, who knows…

We had booked ourselves on to a early flight to Dusseldorf, a city we hadn’t visited before and a city I actually had no intentions of visiting. Not sure why, I suppose there are so many other places I would prefer to go to first. As it transpired, I was so glad we decided to spend our first night in Dusseldorf before driving to see my grandmother. The city really is the cosmopolitan stylish city I wasnt expecting. Lots of shops (too high end for me!), restaurants and bars, flash supercars around every corner. It really was quite the surprise.

The other added bonus was that it was the first weekend of the Christmas markets and no better place to buy a currywurst and a beer. That brought back some memories.

Well, the next day was all about my grandmother. We took off mid-morning and headed up the autobahn to a town I spent much of my childhood. As we got closer it was bringing back so many memories and I certainly arrived with a smile on my face.

Before we went to the care home, we went to my mums sisters (my aunt!) house. She lives close to the care home and was taking us there for our “introduction”.

When we arrived at the care home, I could see the face of my grandmother peering over a communal dining table. I could see she was looking at us quizzically and could understand why – 10 years is a long time.

As we approached, I called to my Oma (German for grandma), she looked up through her thick glasses with a wry smile opened her arms in readiness for a bug hug. A flood of memories and emotions washed over me, it was without doubt a homecoming.

Before we had arrived my aunt had told us of my grandmothers state of mind. In short, she is easily confused. She doesnt recall being told her youngest grandson (my baby brother) had died and after 10 mins of reuniting with her she didnt recognise me and only acknowledged her grandson Andrew as the person in the pictures hanging on her wall.

We left that day having seen the woman we loved very much. She was (is) the most amazing grandmother ever. But we left with a deep heart as we only seen glimpses of the woman we remember. She is someone her deserves better.

So whilst I/we achieved something, I left with disappointment and some guilt. I could have gone to see my grandmother sooner, I could have seen her when she was perhaps a little more “with it”. I could have perhaps seen more of the woman I grew up with, my Oma.

If there is something to be learnt it is this; dont put things on hold, thinking it will be ok until next week, next month, next year. Before you know it, you are 10 years down the line. Do it now, whatever it is. Tomorrow may never come.