Such a cringe night.

Awky Maz, Uncategorized
mooood mooosic 😉
I like to say yes to any new experiences that crop up. That probably explains why I ended up living in random places all over the world, once appeared in a Jedward music video, and was talking about Ben Shepherd on Radio 1 last week … amongst other random crap I fill my time with.
It’s one thing saying yes to new opportunities and it’s another seeing an opportunity arise and volunteering to do it. One of my fave bloggers, Emma (girl lost in the city) tweeted about an event that she couldn’t attend but highly recommended and said how they needed people to read. It was called ‘Cringe London’ and was basically an open mic of people reading their cringe worthy teenage diaries. I tweeted the lovely lady in charge and signed up (as well as sending her a nice cringe photo to be displayed behind me). I invited Sara to come along for moral support because I wasn’t quite ready to cringe on my own.12874421_10208882327515240_910696778_o
Looking back, I wasn’t really one to keep many teenage diaries because I was too busy bitching about my teachers, avoiding doing my homework and testing my limits on how much vodka it took me to pass out in a field (joking, that never happened if you’re reading mum…). But in Namibia (my gap yaaaaah) I found myself with lots of time for diary writing – because let’s face it, living in the African bush without a TV can get dull at times. I took along two diaries to the Phoenix pub in Cavendish Square and kinda bookmarked what I remembered as a bit embarrassing. Ana suggested I go up second or third to kinda get it out of the way. Down in the basement of the pub Sara and I munched on some sweet potato fries and happily watched Ana go first. She had some great stories from when she was around 15, rating the boys in her class.
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More stories came from teenage years in Canada, jumping between boyfriends and scripting what you want to say on the phone to your crush. When it came to my turn I was uncharacteristically nervous because the other readers so far had been friggin hilarious. I’m talking, I could’ve wet myself laughing. Although it probably doesn’t seem like it on paper; reading your very private teenage diaries to a room full of hundreds of strangers in a pub basement is strangely cathartic.
I talked about that time Senanses stole from Fran and I (we were pissssed), dull church services in Namibia and being chased by antelope. I was mid sentence when I got a tap on the shoulder ‘sorry can I interrupt you for a second. Does anyone here know first aid!?’ A girl had fainted. Oh shit. Hoping she was ok and also thinking ‘how weird that me and saz were talking about needing first aid a second ago’. Luckily she was fiiiiine! I carried on where I left off after an interval with minimal drama. It was reassuring to hear a few laughs and not just the total silence I was expecting!12873671_10208882329635293_149873362_o
A few more readers went after me who were so frank, honest and hilarious.There’s no filter with these readings; everything’s included from ‘warm sloppy kisses’ to ‘his hand in between my legs’ and all the cringe in between. I won’t dish out all their secret 15 year old fantasies but we were absolutely pissing ourselves. New Year’s Eve parties, holiday romances that didn’t go past a kiss on the cheek and a lot of ‘is God even that powerful?!’ remarks. We had to dash off at the end but it was great to hear from a few audience members ‘you were so funny!’ – yes that is people laughing at my cringeness.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 22.23.46
Reading my diary aloud to room of strangers made me realise; what you imagine at the time to be legit life changing moments, turn out to just be awkward, embarrassing blips of teenage confusion. We all have them, and they’re friggin hilarious to read back on. There’s one more Cringe London event before Ana gives birth – I might not be in London then but will try my best to go. I will force Sara to read and anyone else who fancies a proper cringey laugh should 100% try it. (have I said CRINGE enough..??)
ALL THE LOLS
Maz x
p.s. check out Cringe London here on –
and meee here –
xox
Thanks again Ana for having me!

My first Marathon – Isle of Man 2015

Sport

It’s been whole week since I ran 26.2 miles on the Isle of Man for my first marathon!

And now G’s boyfriend Chad is (not really) forcing me on my first run after my mini recovery. I’ve bumped into so many people in the past week who have mentioned my blog that I thought it would be best to write a little post about I felt it all went.. Maybe when I’m preparing for my next long distance run or race I’ll look back and feel a tiny bit more ready than without it.

Where to begin; so way back when in June when deciding on a fundraising activity (to fundraise £800 for VSO) I chose to run a total of 600 miles because it’s equivalent to the width of Kenya. Where I’m going to volunteer in September FYI.  Me being me, I had to take this one step further and enter a marathon.

So I was home alone in Spain, bored and armed with Google’s help to find a decent marathon near me. I found the Isle of Man Marathon and booked it immediately, only informing mum and dad later on that they should probably come and support me.

I arrived on the island the day before feeling pretty ready for the big day; I’d spent £16 on one pair of socks (craaaaazy I know!), I had energy tablets, gels, jelly babies, belts, multiple outfit options and heaps of excitement. The day before was spent strolling on the beach with our dog Peachy and grabbing a few last minute things in town. I had a bath that evening with Radox Muscle Therapy Herbal Bath and some  salts and it was the best thing ever. I put out my clothes ready for the morning, got some last minute advice from Frankie (running buddy and experienced marathon runner lol) and got a good nights sleep.

Rewind a day or 2 and I was crying my eyes out thinking I’d have to drop out. All because I’d reached that blissful moment that most girls experience every month, only mine had come over a week early. I don’t know why my period had come early but you know, i really wasn’t loving mother natures decision to bring me a gift because it basically fucked up my plan to run a smooth 26.2 miles. I frantically googled possible solutions to running whilst feeling like crap and most people had written on blogs or forums that they inevitably had to drop out or just run half. This wasn’t an option for me as I couldn’t let anyone down after some generous donations and I couldn’t waste all that time and energy I’d spent training for it. At the same time as my stressing I read about Kiran Gandhi who ran the London marathon whilst on her period… She decided to free bleed which I’m not really sure about. I don’t think it’s a feminist movement or ‘bad-ass’ in any way, I think it’s kinda gross but whatever. Anyway, I decided to push through and run despite this not so great gift, I just used every home remedy to speed it up in the hopes that by Sunday I wouldn’t be in too much pain. I’d never ran during my period and it would just so happen that I was now running the furthest and for the longest I ever had.



Race day!

I ate some granola and a banana at around 6:30am and had a few bottles of water, I was also loading up on Ibuprofen to reduce my cramps before we drove through the foggy hills to reach the small town of Ramsey. I collected my number, time tracker to go round my ankle and put my named Lucozade bottle in the box for mile 17. We hung around for a while before going to the starting line and I had a few jelly babies. It was predominantly an old run, with loads of men in their 40s, 50s, 60s and older, a fair amount of women who looked mid 30s and up and then little old me looking like the baby of the pack. I didn’t feel too nervous at the start as I was just concentrating on running half. I knew I could easily do 21km and a lot of people had suggested just dropping out at the halfway point if I feel I couldn’t do any more. 

The gun fired at 9 am and we set off with the sea just a few metres to our right; we were told strictly no mobile phones or music devices allowed so I just put my headphones down my sports bra until I was well on my way (there was no way I could prepare myself for almost 5 hours of running without any music). I’d been told a million times to start out slow and save my energy, but theres something about being joined by so many others and having all the adrenaline building up that makes you want to rush. Partly because you don’t want to be last, partly because you want to be surrounded by the stronger runners from the start and partly because you want it to be over quickly! I stuck around with the speedy guys and gals for about an hour; chatting about our training and past marathons we’d done, obviously not me but I was talking to a guy who’d ran 150 marathons and he’d only started running at the age of 55?!

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We’d been told about the hill at mile 4 and sure enough it approached and it was hilly. Like really hilly. After what seemed like a lifetime of snail speed jogging to the top I felt a tiny sense of relief; I knew I’d have to face that hill again at mile 17 (the course was 2 laps of the same course) but I could handle it one more time. Then as I turned the corner I saw another massive hill! Basically there was about 2 miles of hills and I was not a fan. After i lost the main group I’d been sticking with I met a girl (I think she was called Alyssa..?) who was the same age as me and told me about how she’d been in hospital with severe neck problems like a week ago but had done too much training up to that point to not run the marathon. Her story made my problems (achey shins and a bit of a dodgey ankle) seem very insignificant. Plus it turned out she completed it 20 minutes faster than me, what a ledge.

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I felt confident for the whole of the first half even though I was convinced I was going a lot slower than planned and guessed I must be in last place. I was daydreaming of jelly babies and a few words of encouragement from mum and dad at the half way point. I ran downhill through the village before reaching 21 km at exactly 2 hours and could see mum, dad and dog in the distance. But there were no jelly babies in sight. I ran towards them yelling  ‘jelly babies! I need to babies!’ and they just looked at me in despair. I didn’t have time to stop so just carried on going with no more sugar and a belly so empty it screamed for something to fill it. I tackled the ridiculous hills once more at mile 17 and grabbed my huge bottle of Lucozade sport which gave me some well needed energy. Around the 19 mile mark I began feeling sick; I had nothing in my stomach, hardly any energy and the wind and rain was pushing against me. I carried on swigging water and Lucozade but just vomitted after every mouthful. It sounds gross but I couldn’t stop drinking because in my head it was giving me short bursts of energy (it probably wasn’t as it was coming straight out but your mind goes a bit squishy when you’ve been going for that long) so as I continued sipping I carried on being sick every couple of metres. 

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I’d only resorted to listening to music for about half an hour as I’d enjoyed the sound of the sheep, cows, spectators and listening to stories from other runners. The last 7 miles felt ok, I was getting cheered on by every marshall and most seemed really surprised I was still going! ‘Oh darling, well done! You’re doing so well, you look great’ – hard to believe when I was covered in salt crystals, was a weird shade of red and was limping like a lost dog but it was nice to hear. At the same time I was thinking a lot about ‘hitting the wall’ and was pleasantly surprised that that hadn’t happened.. At that point i was so close to the end and knew what to expect from the final mile, I was excited to reach the village, go down hill, see my fam and reach the finish line in the stadium and naively believed I’d be so excited to finish that the final mile would be a breeze. Oh how wrong was I. I saw the mile 25 sign and my legs buckled. I couldn’t move. It’s the weirdest feeling as your brain is screaming at you to keep going but your body just shuts down. You can’t imagine the feeling if you haven’t experienced it. It’s almost like wading through treacle; you’re going nowhere. This probably only lasted about 20 seconds but felt like forever and I couldn’t see myself  carrying on and finishing. I honestly thought that was it for me; I contemplated just sitting down, calling mum and telling a marshall that I’d just end my race there. Eventually, after using every bit of energy and enthusiasm I had left (and a voice in my head saying I’d sound like a right idiot if I told people I pulled out at 25 miles), I pulled myself back into gear and went at snails pace through the village. 

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I’d been chatting to one guy for a while who’d been at my pace for a few miles before dropping back and walking. Just after my near-giving-up experience I saw him hobbling along in the corner of my eye. ‘I’ve just remembered I need to catch the bus at half 2!’ he said as he proceeded to sprint past me. I’d missed my chance to finish in 4 hours 30 mins (my very very very optimistic aim) because of all the sick and the 20 seconds of thinking ‘THIS IS THE END’ but knew I didn’t have far to go and could probably get my medal and goody bag by 4 hours 50 mins. My phone had been tracking my run and announced ‘Congratulations, you have completed a whole marathon!’ – I’d ran 26.2 miles but wasn’t at the end yet; all that dodging, weaving and changing sides of the road means you’re actually running almost 27 miles, ouch. Anyway, I passed the village and could see my mum in the distance; I start waving to grab her attention and the people she’s standing with start to cheer for me. Then, with my eyes set on them and my music on full blast I failed to spot the curb beneath my foot and stacked it like an idiot. 

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As I turned the corner I entered the stadium and U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’ came on shuffle on my phone, so cliche, so emotional. The crowd cheered and I saw the massive clock read 4 hours 36 minutes. I’d done it! I’d completed a marathon! All in under 5 hours on my 21st birthday, I’d imagined this for a while and never thought it was a tangible dream but I’d actually done it! My legs didn’t know how to stop going so I kind of stumbled over to mum and dad and dog. I went for a well deserved massage after but actually didn’t feel too achey, the guy standing in front of me was from Edgemead (according to his t shirt) which is where I briefly lived last year in Cape Town! Unluckily I didn’t get the chance to talk to him but small world eh.

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I said to mum that I felt the same as after I completed the Paris half marathon in March, which shows what a huge difference a good training plan can make, along with eating right and being in the right frame of mind. I wore my medal with pride and raided my freebie bag for a flapjack. We enjoyed the mini buffet before going back to our hotel in Douglas. I had a quick shower and chill before we went out for dinner, I kind of forgot that it was still my birthday. I finally went to the toilet too, which was so weird as that had been my main fear during the run. That I wouldn’t have a place to ‘relieve myself’ but I guess I just sweated everything out as I was fine the whole way through despite drinking litres of water and sports drinks. My legs felt stiff but no worse than after a normal run of a few kms. However the next day I had to shuffle myself around and go down the stairs sideways.

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We stopped in Liverpool on the way back and i even drove from Birmingham to home in Hertfordshire. I can’t explain the feeling of acheivement I got and how uch I actually enjoyed running most of the marathon. I know it’s been said a million times but it honsetly is the toughest but greatest thing I’ve ever done. And throughout my run I was already thinking of what marathon I could run next. 

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I’m so so so grateful for every encouraging comment, text, message, tweet etc and obviously anyone whose been generous enough to donate. Although I love running, I also put myself through all this to raise money for VSO – Voluntary Service Overseas, the charity who I’ll be volunteering for in Kenya in September. If you’d like to donate please text YAAS69 plus to the amount, either £1, £2, £5, £10 or £20 to 70070 (e.g. YAAS69 £2) or visit my JustGiving Page by clicking HERE!

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6 months ago I could never even imagine running for that length or distance and my doctor in Paris was even surprised I’d entered a half marathon, hinting that I really wasn’t fit enough. But here I am now, one marathon completed in a decent time with hopes for many more. As soppy as it sounds, anything is possible if you put your mind to it. 

Here’s to the next step!

Mary x

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Child’s play

Au Pairing in Paris

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A sofa is a fort, a puddle is an ocean, a blanket is a cloud and your legs are a climbing frame. One of the biggest parts of my job is to play; learn to let go and have fun with the kids. Bring on another week of using my imagination and being a kid again.

Mary x

First week in Paris – 8th September 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

I can’t believe I’ve only been in Paris for 8 days. I feel like I’ve settled in so quickly, met loads of lovely people and seen some cool stuff and can’t believe I’ve got pretty much a whole year to explore this amazing city.

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As I’ve mentioned before, Au Pairing is a completely different world and it’s been a bit strange to fit into my role but I’ve found meeting up with other Au Pairs has been really helpful. Last Sunday I went to my first ‘meet up event’ in Paris; a big picnic organised for international students and au pairs in Champ De Mars, a park directly in front of the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t know anyone there so just sat down with the first group I saw and discovered a few English girls. We all chatted for hours over baguette and some amazing (my new trademark!) Blanc Peche wine. It might be Paris’ version of Lambrini (cheap and sweet) but I don’t care as it’s so yummy. I was so happy I plucked up the courage to go as I met some awesome people who I’ve already seen a few times again since then.

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My actual ‘work’ has been enjoyable, I’m learning a lot about the children and they seem to be getting used to me as their new helper/playmate/friend.

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One of the biggest challenges here is managing my time and motivating myself to work. Some of you know that I’m studying a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course at the moment and I’ve completed the classroom courses so now the rest is online. It’s 120 hours split into about 7 different units; you learn each unit then have a review at the end to test your understanding. I’m in the early stages of it; it’s interesting but difficult to find the right time to do it. I’m also trying to re learn some french using the duolingo app and website, which are both fab. On top of these i’m supposed to be applying for french lessons at a language school for 1 day a week. I obviously want to learn more french whilst here but the cost of these language schools are a bit crazy so I’ll maybe do some more research before booking. So this is my ‘workload’ but there’s a ridiculous amount of other stuff I want to get done this year;

– I’d love to do some dance teaching as I hate coming completely out of the dance bubble

– I need to get my exercise on and stop being so lazy, the plan is to join a netball club

– More photography. I haven’t touched my DSLR in weeks (I always use my mini panasonic but actually setting up a photo is painful for me now) and that needs to change ASAP

– More diary writing as I love that feeling of reading back over great / average / crappy times, months or years later

– More fashion show, events, gigs, parties, meet ups etc!

– Less time worrying about not fitting it all in. And just doing it.

Mary 

x

today's view from lunch

today’s view from lunch

Markets, Cake & making my way to Paris – 14th – 16th June 2014

Europe

On Saturday I barely left my bed as I felt so ill, I think my travelling was starting to catch up on me. I did eventually manage to leave at 4 in the afternoon to go to some cafes and let Nina get on with her work. That night we went into town and found a great bar to people watch from, the next bar was our chosen spot to watch the England/Italy match. Somehow we were in the perfect spot to see the game with a full room of enthusiastic men behind us and there was a table of English girls in front who needed to go out and smoke every 5 minutes because the game was ‘so stressful’. I decided England aren’t too great at football and they just want to constantly chase the ball; I can confidently say most of the boys at Otjikondo play better than them!

On Sunday I booked my travel to France(!!!) and then went to a vintage market in Mauer Park. I didn’t know the way when leaving the metro station so just followed the hipsters to wherever they went; like magic, 10 minutes later I was there. This place is a huge market; some stalls were just selling second hand clothes and unwanted things from home and others were selling handmade jewellery, badges, sunglasses, dog clothes and lots more. I could’ve walked around for hours as there was so much to hunt through but I knew I couldn’t spend too much money so I went to listen to some of the singers on the grass area next to the market. One singer told the audience how she lives in Cape Town for 4 months of each year and how much she misses it, basically, everyone loves Cape Town.
Next I went into town to catch a bus to see some of the more classic tourist sites. As I’ve been to Berlin before I wasn’t too fussed by the big buildings so just observed from the top deck of the bus… I wrote some postcards and bought a little sew on german flag which I did originally want to put on my jacket but I think I’ll get mum to put it on my camera strap and I’ll add flags from the other countries I’ve been travelling in. In the afternoon I arrived home to a hungry Nina so she took me to her favourite cake shop, Bravko, just down the road. I had a lemon pie whilst Nina had some fruity, crumble thing. We left, I packed and I said my goodbyes. It’s been awesome staying with Nina; we’ve got to know each other so much better, she has the cutest flat, she knows all the best places in Berlin, she prepares the best breakfasts every morning (fruit salad, german bread, smoothies woo) and is generally a fab host. So thank you Nina!
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I rushed to the coach station, arriving there at 6:45, really smug that I managed to get there 15 minutes before the coach was due to leave. I was then informed that I had to stand in a long queue in order to get my boarding pass. As soon as the guy at the counter filled it out (he tod me to CALM DOWN) I grabbed it and ran to my stop. I jumped on the bus with 30 seconds to spare. Luckily I hadn’t started thinking about what I’d of done if I’d missed it.
As I write this I’m sitting at the back of a coach that’s travelled from Berlin, through Belgium and we’re due to arrive in Paris any minute 😀 I have a few hours before I’ll then catch the train to Saintes. I’ll be staying with my sister, Georgie who’s living and working in Royan at the moment. I know she’ll rub it in my face that she’s more tanned than and she’ll probably complain that I haven’t bought her any presents but I’m still excited to see her after nearly 5 months apart!
Mary x

Baboons, braids and Thai tea – 20th May 2014

Uncategorized

Yesterday was a bizarre and exhausting day. And we’d decided that by 12:15.

An early start took us to a primary school in South Fields to see an educational show by Jungle Theatre, a company Trisha has been working with whilst in Cape Town. Traffic left us rushed and panicking about where to park; we soon realised we were actually at the wrong school so we became even more rushed in trying to find the school we were supposed to be at 25 mins earlier. With the power of maps on the iPhone we found it just in time and joined the classroom full of around 100 children to watch the show about baboons returning a human baby to it’s parents. The school children loved it and were so excitable that they actually made me feel tired. 
 
Bill, Callum, Trisha and I then made our to Long Street in town to tick off some things from their Cape Town Bucket List. Trisha and I had said we’d go for a Thai massage for a while so we tentatively entered the building that I pass so often and were greeted by a woman who looked like she’d expected us to arrive any minute (we hadn’t booked an appointment) and was really excited to see us. We had our massages in the same room and had 2 giggly masseurs who sometimes spoke to each other in their own language, leaving us to assume they were gossiping about us in the least discreet way possible! 60 mins was enough to leave us feeling relaxed and de-stressed and equally battered and bruised, standing on our backs and walking up and down our legs was a bit more intense than we expected. I think their idea of de-stressing us was giving us some green tea before we left.
 
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Our next task was to get hair braids! Yes, the type you got aged 9 when you went on holiday to France and you were giddy to show your mates at school after the summer holidays were over but then after a week the head teacher decided they weren’t allowed anymore so you had to unravel all the pretty threads and brush out that matted bit of hair. Yeah, those ones. I took us to the guy in Greenmarket Square (if you’ve ever stayed on Long Street you should know who I mean!) as everyone says he’s brill. Turns out he charges a fortune for a little braid. It was his lucky day as we were desperate enough to still want them; after a bit of haggling we paid the smaller fortune to have some coloured thread in our hair and small elephant charms on the end. Trisha went first whilst he told us that the braids he does last up to 10 years. Impressive, but we’d only planned to have them for a few days/weeks. I do like the thought of having a 10 year old braid in my hair when I’m 29 though, I’ll know then that I’ve become a full fledged hippy. I set up his table display whilst he did Trisha’s green, blue and yellow braid. I had different shades of pink and blue in my hair and the others watched in disbelief as he used his lighter to burn the knots. I love my little braid even though it may have cost me a weeks worth of food shopping…
 
Mary x

Holiday in South Africa! 8th-9th May 2014

Africa

Living in South Africa means a holiday doesn’t even involve having to cross borders, there are some pretty cool places to go in the country. Callum, Trisha, Bill and I embarked on a 6 day long holiday last week following the famous Garden Route to Addo Elephant Park with a few stops on the way and I think they’ll agree that it was a pretty amazing trip.

The journey began early on 8th May, following a night out and maybe 2 or 3 hours sleep Callum had to pack all his clothes in a few minutes (because he is yet to learn the beautiful art of organisation) and jump in the Suzuki Swift, our mode of transport for the next 6 days. Our first stop was at Paradise House in Knysna, our rooms were stunning we even had little balconies looking out onto hills, the town and the sea. Knysna is beautiful and the scenery is great but the weather was not on our side and that night we watched a huge thunderstorm outside our window. I gave up on trying to get a decent photo and just watched the lightning strike from the comfort of the warm room; it’s kinda exciting to watch and looks so much prettier than lightning in England.

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Thunderstorms in Knysna – South Africa

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A brighter view the next morning

 

The next morning we woke up to a sunnier view and we were all in high spirits, excited to get onto our next stop until Trisha realised she didn’t have her purse 😦 losing valuable items is rubbish wherever you are but the prospect of not having your purse when you’re away and will be away for the next 7 months must’ve been reallly crap rubbish. I told myself (and Callum) that we’d find it by 10:27 that morning… We retraced our steps back to the B&B, nowhere to be seen. We rooted through the car, nowhere to be seen. We emptied bags, nowhere to be seen. Our last resort was to ask at the pub that we ate in the night before but when the owner told us he definitely hadn’t seen it we all started to panic. We turned to the car with almost no hope left when at 10:26 the guy came out with it in his hand. He’d decided to double check where we’d been sitting the night before and found it right in the corner. A group hug and a few tears followed before we jumped back in the car to carry on our journey. Maybe it was just a coincidence that we found it by 10:27 or maybe I have actual psychic powers….. 

It was an interesting start to our holiday, we left Knysna ready to see some wildlife and have less drama.

Mary x

Won’t you take me to MONKEY TOWN

Africa

So, I’m tempted to post my bucket list on here. It mentions monkeys at least 3 times so you can imagine my excitement at finding out there’s a place called Monkey Town 40km from where we live. I’d hired a car for a week so I dragged my less than enthusiastic boyfriend to Somerset West, the drive was relatively easy and we arrived in less than an hour.  I’d already read on trip advisor that  the facilities were pretty crap and when we arrived to no lights in the toilets our doubts were quickly confirmed. The taps didn’t work either and when I looked out the window I was greeted by a rat sitting casually on the windowsill, lovely.

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We payed the equivalent of about £6 each which granted us entrance to the whole monkey park, a guided tour and 20 mins of playing with squirrel monkeys! As it’s a sanctuary and not a zoo all the animals had been rescued from zoos, circus’ or were previously pets. The monkeys all had loads of space to swing around and ultimately we were caged and they were free, which was great but did mean you had to avoid being pooped on when walking around. I loved seeing and learning about the different types of monkey and one capuchin monkey seemed to love us back equally and stopped to rub it’s nipples while it stared at Callum, as it frothed at the mouth we decided to move on

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After our tour we were taken into the squirrel monkey and lemur section. The squirrel monkeys were all so small, cute and friendly jumped onto our shoulders in return for grapes and squished apples. The lemurs were hilarious as they were a bit more reserved; they just sat back and watched us all get over excited when a baby monkey wanted any contact with us and would grab grapes from our hands and run off. I think I want a pet lemur, I’d name him King Julian for sure.
 
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As well as monkeys and apes we saw goats, cockatoos, rabbits, chickens, meerkats, cats and parrots. Basically, they had a whole loads of random rescued animals which was fab. I have a small obsession with goats so stood and stroked one for an unnecessary amount of time before Callum dragged me away. We had a picnic after all the excitement of animals and played on their weird choice of play things (jet skis and trucks…). Monkey Town was wicked and I definitely recommend it to anyone staying in Cape Town, it’s aimed at children and families but I’m 19 and had one of the best days ever. WOO MONKEYS.
Mary x
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Dance, bugs and raps – 28th February 2014

Africa
Hello!
I feel like so much happened so this day deserves a whole post, sorry for my rambling!
Friday started differently to most days, I was the only one in the GAP flat as Rebecca, Eleanor and Annika had gone to Otjiwarongo with Sara to buy some essentials. This meant I was teaching PT for the morning, my favourite and easiest PT lesson is to teach dance so I spent the morning with the speaker, my laptop and the kids teaching them a dance to ‘Katatura Baby’. I think it’s good for them to do something different every so often as obviously not every GAP will want to teach dance in front of nearly 40 judgemental kids (especially if they’ve never danced before). Before the classes even began I had a scare when moving the tables to the sides of the room, a bird was just sitting on the table and I’d touched it before I saw it which really freaked me out (I thought it was a giant rat or something…). Shepherd kindly came to my rescue when I screamed and picked up the bird, opened the window ready to let it fly it, as he let it go it didn’t fly off like we expected, it fell straight to the ground and landed on it’s back… I’m not saying we killed the bird but we didn’t do the best job of trying to save it, sorry bird!
 
At lunch I went to get Vet cakes from Sister Albertina (like big balls of deep fried dough) and attempted to tidy the GAP flat and found some unusual bugs whilst doing so. You’d think after spending a year in Namibia I’d have seen all these different types of insects but apparently not, almost everyday I have to ask the GAP’s ‘what on earth is this?!’. As I started the mop the girls returned from Otjiwarongo. When I asked if they’d bought much they looked guilty, they’d bought LOADS. They showed me their purchases; lots of toiletries, pesto, more peri peri sauce, chocolate, doritos etc etc. 
 
I went to Skype Fran and was surprised that it actually connected as the internet has been playing up recently. It was so nice to ‘see’ her and chat about the gossip here, the kids that were around were really happy to hear her voice and chat to her too. I can’t wait for Fran to come and visit at some point! That evening we decided to have a talent show as the hall was being cleaned so we couldn’t have our usual TV time. I was the organiser but didn’t really organise much, the GAPs and Sister Albertina were judges, I did the music and Renico ‘presented’ it. There were some hilarious acts performing and I hope the GAPs agree that it was great entertainment for us. The kids here rarely get nervous and most are happy to just get up on stage in front of 250 others and sing or dance. The standout act for me was definitely Damian and Peterson rapping, the lyrics were hilarious even if they weren’t intended to be and we all got to dance along (put your hands in the sky, I’m guna make you fly) plus the height difference was great. The GAPs voted for the top 3 places, all of which won some sweets, crisps and some biscuits. Even though there might of been a bit of a mix up with the winner (Renico’s fault!) everyone had a wicked night, it’s fun to do something different as to not get bored of the Otjikondo routine. 
 
In the evening we saw a car pull up to the flat, we assumed it was one of the teachers but we didn’t recognise the guy when he came in. He told us he was driving to Otjiwarongo and needed food. He wanted the crisps but I refused and offered him 2 of our apples if he gave us $10. He then asked for a beer, we obviously refused and I proceeded to push him out of the flat.
 
The kids keep asking when I’m leaving and it’s just starting to dawn on me that I only have a few days left here before returning to Cape Town so I’m trying to cram in as much as possible! I’m having an amazing time and I’m so grateful for how welcoming the GAPs have been to me. That’s all for now 🙂
Lots of love,
Mary
xxx