07 May 2013

Silchester Roman Amphitheatre & Walls

My mom has had a long standing obsession with Rome, Romans, and the Roman Empire. So when the opportunity to see another English Heritage site that was linked to the Romans presented itself, we took it.

I had no idea where Silchester was or how small it was, but sneeze and you could miss it. Even the road trip there was a little mind boggling with all the country roads you had to take to get there. And I hate taking country roads in the UK: what should be room enough for only one vehicle in Canada, the British manage to squeeze two moving vehicles in opposite directions.

Yep, I totally could have been a gladiator.

Being in the Amphitheatre was far more surreal than a lot of the other English Heritage sites I had visited thus far. Stonehenge was amazing, but because you couldn't get close enough the height and breadth of the monument couldn't really be felt. Old Sarum wasn't as old and neither was Farnham Castle.

It was just the foundation that was uncovered, but standing in the middle of the theatre it wasn't hard to use my imagination to see it built up around me. I say only jokingly that I could have been a Gladiator, but standing in the middle of the circle was quite intimidating: it felt so much larger and the sound would have been amplified.

I say that with some confidence because my mom and I were standing some distance apart and we were talking to each other at a normal volume and could hear each other clearly. Moving further away, we could still hear each other clearly and at the same volume. I could just imagine how the sound of a crowd of 3000 would have carried and either terrified or motivated a Gladiator.

Interestingly, there were no signs for the walls, so my mom and I had to ask a few other tourists if they knew where these walls were. They did, we found them, and as per typical English style, just part of a farm yard. I wonder if the farmer every stands next to these walls, still fifteen feet up, and comprehends that they were built thousands of years ago.

One thousand nine-hundred thirty years to be more precise. Thanks Wikipedia.

Where have you been that has made you stop in your tracks because it felt so surreal or awe-inspiring?

06 May 2013

12 Things in 12 Weeks - Week 5

Apparently it's a long weekend in the UK. May Day or something. And then there's a second long weekend at the end of the month, which I'm more accustomed to, Queen Victoria Day? I'll probably still refer to it as "May Long". What I don't understand is why the UK hasn't spread out their long weekends over the summer, you know, when people actually want the time off?

The only pleasant part about a long weekend is that even though I'm staying home, by myself because my husband is gone for three months, is that the neighbours next door have left so I haven't heard them scold their children too often.

Yes, the walls are that thin.

1) Complete the A to Z Challenge


2) UK Driver's License

I applied for and got my Provisional License, the equivalent of a Learner's License in Canada. I seriously feel like I'm a teenager again.

I'm giving myself ten days to study the manual and then apply for the written test before I pay for a couple of driving lessons, then subsequently the driving test. Hopefully I can pull this off before my International License expires!

That ragged piece of paper? Yes, that is my actual IDP.

3) Novel outline for Hashtag Kissing Katie.

Ehm... yeah.

4) Run twice a week.

I'm not "running" per se, just really fast walking. I'm covering the distances I normally would have when I was able to run. Firstly, to keep up my leg strength and endurance, although nothing rivals running. Secondly to get my feet and legs accustomed to my newly adjusted orthotic insoles.

My legs do nothing but ache presently.

(As an aside, I've been using the Nike+Running app  to keep track of my "running". I'm there as The Capillary if anybody would like to be friends there.)

5) Take a multi-vitamin daily.

I've been very inconsistent this week. But today is the start of a new day!

6) TKD blue belt grading.

There is a grading in June. I'm waffling about this now, but I still have five or six weeks to prepare. Totally doable.

7) Post 5 chapters of #KK

See 3)

8) Tegan & Sara

Tickets? Check. Flights booked? Check. Counting down the days until June 11? Check.

(That would be 36 days if you're counting like me...)

9) Visit 4 more English Heritage Sites.

1. Farnham Castle Keep
2. Waverly Abbey
3. Silchester Roman Amphitheatre & Walls
4. ???

10) Read 2 more books

As I've mentioned before, I'm keeping track of my book goals via Good Reads. But I will mention that I have finished reading three books, all by Jane Austen. "Emma", "Northanger Abbey", and "Persuasion".

11) Write and post 2 more Chapters for Elisa's Thoughts.

[Shifty look...]

12) Goodreads Widget

With two tournaments coming up this month on top of everything else, I feel a bit daunted. But I have my long and short term goals in mind, I just need to focus on the day to day tasks and not let myself get overwhelmed.

I feel ready for a vacation already. Anybody else? Sun, sand, and sea? 

04 May 2013

MFP Updates and Others

Instead of providing a bombardment of completed goals tomorrow, I'll split up the posts into the 12 Things in 12 Weeks Until Summer Solstice and the rest here.

1) Update my profile on MyFitnessPal 

Went from Project Fat Boy to The Tae Kwon Do Cat. 

2) Link my social media on MyFitnessPal
Kind of ties into the above, I realize, but MFP is not set up to connect with social media like YouTube or even Blogger is. You can sync Twitter and FB so whatever you update on MFP will update on the aforementioned. I would have loved to put up little buttons or something, but I'll have to be satisfied with just putting up the links.

3) I have registered for the Welch Championships and CIMAC Open Kickboxing Tournament.
New goals not listed on my Master List. The opportunity to go to both has come up for this month and I decided to take it. My fitness still isn't where it should or could be because of my lack of running, but I'm going to worry more about that after the tournaments are finished.


4) Purchase Gold Shoes.
Best purchase for the summer IMHO.

Indeed it was in a thrift shop and look to be worn only a handful of times. Granted they're only "BOBS" and not official and authentic "TOMS", however, they were 3 pounds. I believe Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have said it best:

5) Add a picture to "About Me"
Don't look at me like that. I know it took a long time. I just wanted to get a good one, you know?

Well, a half decent one anyway.

6) Lastly, it's my mom's 60th birthday today. Sadly, I can't be in Canada to celebrate, but here's to wishing her a happy birthday and a happy celebration.

03 May 2013

I'd Be Safe

In the same vein as yesterday's post about Farnham Castle Keep, I present another English Heritage site that my mom and I visited last month as part of my 12 Things in 12 Weeks Until Summer Solstice.

Waverly Abbey was just outside of Farnham, but the bus was taken as the car was in the shop for most of the day in Farnham. There's no actual bus stop, you just have to tell the bus driver on that route that you want to stop there. The interesting bit is when you'd like to get back: you stand on the side of the street and you keep your fingers crossed that the bus on the way back stops for you.

He did, naturally, or else I would be telling you a very different story right now.

The Ruins: it was hard to get a good picture because the Abbey was
quite large and spread out.

Waverly House was across the river, so the mom cat was like "It
looks like Downton Abbey! Lets open the gate that says 'no
trespassing' to get a better picture." And people wonder where
I get it from...

In its hey day.

Most intact part of the ruins.

Crazy vaulted ceilings. They had to carry so much weight.

Where they ate.

A lot of monks ate here.
That tree is growing exactly on the corner of the foundation of the
cathedral. I think there's something symbolic about that.

The whole time I was there I kept thinking of the movies and TV series "Highlander" and that if I was an Immortal, I'd totally be safe because this was Holy Ground.

Anybody else know what I'm talking about?

02 May 2013

Why So Windy?

England (and the UK) is such a treasure trove of history. I mentioned I had been at Farnham Castle Keep in my last update about the twelve goals I want to accomplish before the Summer Solstice, but finally I have some time to properly talk about it.

I posted one picture on my FB page but I wanted to properly show (if that's possible with a camera) what the Castle Keep was like.

The Mom cat standing where the draw bridge used to be
and in awe of how tall it is.

The other side of the picture above.

I didn't go down there... I couldn't even see the bottom.

Looking over where the drawbridge was. I don't even
know how the archers could shoot through there with
any accuracy.

View of the actual Castle which was attached to the keep via the drawbridge.

The front of the castle. Still in use if anybody's looking to get
married or host something special.

I'm noticing a trend with all of these Hill Forts, Castles, and Keeps: they've all been built on strategic locations that are windy. Granted, it was a matter of survival to be so strategic, on top of a hill to see enemies approaching and such, but why so windy?

01 May 2013

BAM! Licensed

OMG, the A to Z Challenge is finally over! I say that with mixed feelings, but I'll get into that with a different blog post. Today, I want to finally talk about me getting liscensed as a Nurse in the UK, a major goal of mine since I moved to the UK nearly a year ago.

I mentioned last week I finally got registered, but it was a bit of a shock and I didn't know how to talk about it. I've been waiting a long time to get registered and I started this process in the fall of 2010 when I had to take the IELTS to prove I could speak English.

The process was halted for a time when my husband came to Canada for 9 months for his work. The process then resumed in February 2012. It was a lot of paperwork and waiting then but by June 2012 I thought I had everything together that I needed before I left. Leaving Canada was harder than I thought so I went into a bit of a slump which went a bit deeper when I was told there was a delay because there was some missing paperwork.

After re-contacting my old employer (not easy when you're several time zones apart) and getting that paperwork in I finally got work in October that I could proceed to the next step: completing the "protected learning" to get my registration. Based on my experience and qualifications I was except from supervised practice, but to find a nearby institution that would suit my situation was difficult.

Finally, finally I managed to get into Bournemouth University and complete their month long programme and send off more paperwork. In a world that works like clock work, I should have had my registration by Jan 18, 2013 the latest, however, through the grapevine I heard there was an unofficial audit of the registration process underway and thus delaying the process of the last bit of my application.

Officially, I heard about it by February and was informed they would resume processing by March. March rolled around and was informed the audit would last until April. April rolled around and I was half expecting to receive another notice about further delays. I didn't, and the contacts I had made in Bournemouth all posted about getting on the registrar in turn so I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

April 20th I received the following:

It has probably felt a lot longer than it was for me to get that. All I could think was "I can finally move on."

I don't know how this will affect my blogging and writing since it will be an enormous learning curve once I find work (yep, that will be the next hurdle), but I'm just going to enjoy my situation: I'm registered and I have options now.

Another little thanks to everyone that has encouraged and supported me, particularly to those who have listened to me whine a lot.