Fun stuff

And the River churns – Rafting the Yough River

Saturday 24th May

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The morning was spent getting to know our housemates and preping ourselves for our rafting trip.

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Henrietta Lodge, Ohiopyle PA. Home to 14 people for 3 days (and a bathroom and half only)

The lodge was even prettier in the daylight… We got to know each other pretty well by the end of the weekend:) All together, 3 lodges had been booked for the friends and family of the couple. Jane and I were housed with the bride’s family. I can tell you she has some crazy funny aunties! I want to be like them when I am their ages!

The rest of my friends were housed in a different lodge, 15 mins drive from where we stayed. Thankfully there were plenty of volunteer drivers.

One of the boys (boyfriend of the bride’s sister) cooked breakfast and we all had bacon and eggs…then around 11am, a love pie was brought out. Yes, you read right…a love pie! I felt like a Hobbit having a second breakfast and it was darn good too 🙂

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Lauren’s Love Pie: raspberries and mint filling…I am not a fan of raspberries but I enjoyed that home made pie nonetheless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 12, we were in the tiny town centre : there one store and a couple of coffee shop/rafting equipment and souvenir shop.

Our group had 22 people and there were a couple of other groups so it made for quite a big party to take on the river. The weather was gorgeous and we were all in high spirits.

I have been rafting before, when I went to New Zealand for my other friend from that company’s wedding a few years before, so I thought I had that down. I forgot that in NZ, each boat had a trained guide in to take care of all the stirring. This time, we were on our own in the boats! The guides were in kayaks around and I think the river was a little faster than the one in NZ due to recent rains.

First rapid, I stayed in but Jane went over board. She was at the back stirring and wasn’t particularly enjoying that. Of course as a good control freak that I am, I was quick to offer her to swap places…big mistake. Next rapid, I literally bounced off the boat. I was caught in a churn – I can’t remember the technical term for it. It’s not a whirlpool which goes round flat, it the one that makes you think you are in a tumble-dryer and basically you are dragged down to the bottom of the river…freaking scary stuff! All I could think off was “keep your eyes shut, or you’ll lose your contacts”…that came seconds before “shit! I am going to drown”. It felt like I was in there for minutes but it was probably only a few seconds before one of my team mates pulled me back in the boat, shivering and spluttering! I coughed up water and blinked a few time to get the contacts back in place. Had to put one in my mouth as it had popped out and that’s the best way to sanitise it. And away we went again. I felt surprisingly relaxed after and not the least worried it would happen again. I had done my part…yeah, right. We stopped for lunch for about 45 mins and off we went again.

Our boat did well until the second to last rapid…We all had to get in to keep in the boat (instead of sitting on the side), I was in before my co-pilot and he was heavier than me…you guessed what happened next? Oh yeah, I bounced! It was like in the cartoons. In he went, out I went! This one was far less scary than the other time, I just popped my feet up and let the current take me to one of the boats before us who dragged me out and kept me on board until we got reunited with my boat. To be fair, half the boats lost people on that one as it was a particularly churny rapid…

There was major drama too as one of the support guide got hit in the face with a paddle (accidentally of course) when Cousin Jeff went overboard. There was a lot of blood. It was so close to the end too. Luckily, those River Guides are pretty tough. He just shrugged it off when they managed to stop the bleeding. We invited him to the Pizza party that was planned for the wedding guests after the rafting trip…He bloody deserved it (yes, pun intended).

Mel, the bride, was well organised and had a waterproof camera with her, so here are some shots of the day…

The trip took longer than expected so we were all quite late to the Pizza party (some of the other guests had passed up on the chance of getting wet – can’t imagine why?- and went for a more leisurely activities: Fallingwater House visit). Pizza was cold when we got there (and we were pretty much starving) but so was the beer so it was all good! Overall, a very good day! Although it could have been dramatic to have this the day before the wedding!!

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New York – New York: Day One !

Oh-My-God! I freaking loved NYC!!

From the moment I landed to the day I left New York, I loved my timed there… It’s a great city and I was lucky enough that the weather was amazing…

Sunday 18th May

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Getting ready to land

I landed 45 mins earlier than scheduled…yes, 45! Never happened to me before…I usually have stressful travelling (not whilst in the air but before and after take off/landing there is usually some drama) but not this time…well, except for the few minutes before I took the Heathrow Express where I thought I had forgotten my wallet at home and I had to literally empty my backpack (I had changed it the night before and sweated I forgot to transfer the wallet too). At JFK, I was through customs in 10 mins tops. The longest part of the process was getting from the plane to the passport control as I think our plane landed the furthest away from there.

One funny anecdote whilst on the plane (Delta Airline one) was as all the attendants were American, they had trouble with my accent…You should have seen the look of total confusion on the attendant when I asked for a “tonic water”…I don’t know how to translate tone in writing but I had to repeat it three times before my neighbour, although American herself but one who seemed more used to the Britishness of my accent (although it’s a bit of a mishmash of accents to be fair to the attendant) americanized it for me 🙂 She also didn’t know that tonic water came in diet form…

It was easy enough to get into town, thanks to my Airbnb hostess’ instructions, although the Air train could do with some station’s announcement. They don’t really tell you which station you are pulling in and the signs are not that obvious.

 

My Brooklyn Home

My Brooklyn Home

I got to my home away from home at 3pm on the dot and was met at the door by my host’s living boyfriend, who very kindly offered to take my suitcase up the stairs…who says chivalry is dead?! My hosts were a friendly couple, although I interacted more with the lady of the house. The flat itself is a bit dated but really clean and my room was at the back, overlooking a garden so quiet, which is really important for me. I slept really well the whole time I was there. I am not sure the bed would have been big enough for a couple but that wasn’t really an issue for me 🙂 I had a few chats with her which was nice. It was like flatsharing again.

After such a long flight, I should have been tired…and to be fair I was a bit but I knew I couldn’t go to bed too early or I would be completely out of sync for the rest of the trip…so after dropping my bag, sending a couple messages (courtesy of the free wifi) to tell everybody that I had made it in one piece and changing clothes (it was barmy compared to London weather), I set off to explore the area around the flat…I had plans to go see the Brooklyn Bridge which my Google Map had told me was only 10-15 mins walk from there….um…don’t always trust Google Maps and also, remember to take a copy of the  map with you and not just a picture of it on your phone! I made that mistake and realised that I couldn’t actually see street names on my small iPhone screen so I got lost… Adding to my walking journey by a few kilometres, although it did give me a chance to get a sense of the area better…it also highlighted that the little walking pump I had bought were really not good enough for this much walking!

I did find the bridge and what a glorious sight it was…and busy too. It seems everyone had the same idea as me on this end of Sunday. I walked across it, taking in the sight of Manhattan in the setting sun and got all the way to where One Police Plaza is nestled. I say nestled because it is in a leafy cul-de-sac, a lot quieter and plainer than I thought it would be….Then I walked back. I stopped at a grocery store to get some food and cash and after a nice shower, I was fast asleep as soon as my head touch the pillow.

Mr Piggy also had fun, see his tribulations here!

 

 

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The Fantastic Mr Piggy

2 more sleeps and Mr Piggy and I are off to our next adventure…Can I get a “hell yeah!!”? No? Never mind.

For those of you who have followed my past endeavours, you will have noticed that where ever I go, I take Mr Piggy with me and ensure he gets his screen time. He has travelled a bit already and you can see his photographic adventures on Mr Piggy’s World Adventures.

MrPiggy

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Kayaking London

Since finishing all my treatments, I now have my life back and I feel particularly enthusiastic about trying out new things. I have the attention span of a two year old so, I naturally like to try new things all the time but BC (before cancer), I would sometimes put things off or think that I would do them one day…now, I just go with it. This resulted in me signing up to do a kayak tour of London by night through the Meetup group uDare Adventures.

I have been a member of that group for a couple years now but I haven’t been able to do many of their events. Partly because of timing issues and partly because the last year has been focuses on my health, so when this new event came up, the day after I finished my treatment, I was like “hell yeah, I am doing this”. Few days after I signed up, I was a little worried that maybe I had over estimated my fitness capabilities as the fatigue side effect from radiotherapy hit me hard.

However, I still had a couple weeks before the event so I decided to wait and see…I am glad I did.

The weather took a turn for the worse over the last week and I was worried as well that it would be a miserable experience but I wasn’t going to skip it because of it…again, I am glad I didn’t.

The tours are run by Kayaking London tour company and we got 3 experts with us to keep us in check and safe. Although the river was relatively calm (and the rain had actually stopped a few hours before), there are heaps of boats going up and down it and when it’s dark and you only have a little bike light at the back of your kayak to identify you, you are quite glad that an expert is ensuring you don’t get run over.

I didn’t know anyone in the group but that never stopped me. I originally paired up with a girl who I met at the gate but the coaches had recommended to try to mix the boys and the girls to make it more even so I ended up pairing up with R. He got the rudder controls at the back and we had difficulties aligning ourselves at first. I am a control freak by nature so I found it hard to trust him with it and kept trying to steer from the front…which is counter productive but as he was having issues managing the pedals I was nervous we were going to end up in the bridge…but halfway through the first leg, he got the hang of it and I started to relax and only worry about my own paddling.

We paddled from Chelsea Harbour where the kayaking club is to Big Ben and back. The tour took about 2.5 hours. After that we went to the pub for a drink. I had to leave quite quickly as it was getting late and we were on the wrong side of town for me. As it were, although the actual journey back should have taken me no more than 40 mins, it took me 1h15 because trains were only every 15-20 mins and I missed the first one by a minute…Oh well…I got home for midnight, like Cinderella, although the pumpkin effect is carrying through to today as I had to take a shower as I kept splashing Thames water on my head and there was no way I was going to bed with dirty river water on me…yuck. I now feel shattered but happy I did it.

And for those following…no Mr Piggy didn’t come. I couldn’t take the risk to drop him in the water!

Below are some of the pictures I managed to take with my iPhone (through a waterproof casing, so no flash possible).

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