Things I’ve noticed whilst living in the UK

I cannot believe that it has already been over two weeks since the move. Time has flown by. High time for an update! But where to start. I have some much I want to write about that I decided to split it into two posts. This one will focus more on the things that I have noticed after moving to the UK. And the next one will be about my first week at work (which has been awesome by the way).

So… I have been to the UK before, but I have noticed a couple of things that I had not noticed before, so I decided to share them with you guys.

Don’t trust the journey planner
Journey planners here in the UK are notoriously unreliable. You can consult 3 and they will all give you different bus or train times. They also usually fail to take into account the difference between off peak and peak travel times, so it might take you 25 minutes longer to get somewhere than the planner says you will…

There are roadworks everywhere
The most likely reason as to why it will take you longer to get somewhere is that they are probably working on the road.. or rather roads. I have never seen this much road work taking place simultaneously. Honestly, the British goverment could do with a planning department for this….

Trains are the bermuda triangle
More likely than not, your phone will immediately lose its signal the moment you set foot in a train. You can absolutely forget about calling someone or sending text messages during your commute, unless you are standing still at one of the stations. So if you try to call me and you get an out of service message, you will know exactly what I am doing haha.

MacDonald’s is everywhere
Roadworks are not the only thing you are likely to encounter frequently during your commute. Everywhere you look there is either a MacDonald’s (or Mackies as the Britsh lovingly call it) or an advertisment for this. If you have to buy a busticket in one of the major cities you will find that your receipt conveniently doubles as a discount voucer for a Big Mac. Only 1,99! To be honest, I’m a little bit surprised at its popularity whilst you can get so much better food at Wetherspoons. This a chain of pubs serving really good, decently priced food. If you are ever in the UK make sure to eat there. Their (vegetarian) bangers and mash are to die for.

Small bags of Walkers’ crisps
Walkers crisps (or Lays as we know it Holland) packs of crisps only come in small portion sized bags. I have yet to find a big bag meant for sharing. This seems to encourage people to eat it in moderation, which forms a odd contrast to the overabundance of MacDonald’s adds. Personally I don’t really mind as it keeps me from over eating, but it was still something I noticed that was a bit different to Europe.

Try the bread
Now this is a recommendation of my fiancé who has had the pleasure of sampling the regular breads (I have had to stick with gluten free I’m afraid). When buying bread in the UK you don’t only get to chose the type of bread, but also the thickness of the slices. And gosh the extra thick, soft white slices look absolutely delicious. According to my fiancé they are. He particularly likes the one from a brand called Hovis… So, when you are here, make sure to give that a try.

food_cakes_and_sweet_cake__cake_and_biscuits_031407_The legend’s are true: most British are entirely made up of biscuits and cakes
Every morning without fail there are at least three to four of my direct collegues who can be seen enjoyong a lovely slice of cake or a muffin in the cafeteria. I have been informed that the cakes are really quite good, but not as good as the ones in the public café of the Weston Library. Needless to say, I shall have to put this to the test at some point.  Any volunteers who wish to join me in this experiment?

Those who have not yet had their fix in the morning eagerly sample some of the cookies or a homemade piece of cake which someone has brought into work during the 4 o’clock tea break. Next time I visit Holland I will definitely bring back some Dutch cookies for them to try.

Well that is it for now. Over the course of the next couple of weeks or months I am sure I will notice some more differences or English habits. 😀 So this might become a bit of a series. Who knows ;).

What a move…

IMG_20180826_103855791.jpgI am currently writing this post whilst I am curled up on the couch under a blanket in the conservatory in our new home. We have been experiencing some real British weather the past couple of days and today it is going to be a rainy day as well.

The journey here though was not as smooth as we had hoped. We had wanted to leave for Birmingham on Thursday no later than 10 am, but we’re unable to leave until 11, because not all our items fitted into the van. Thankfully, we had a wonderful neighbour who was willing to take it to the garbage disposal for us… Honestly, he deserves the best neighbour award.

So once on our way Biscuit quickly informed us that travel is not for him. He did so quite loudly for about 30 minutes before the poor dear finally settled down a little. Pancake, on the other hand, only miauwed when she really wanted some attention. She was a real trooper.

Once we arrived at the Eurotunnel, to crossover to England, we had to stop at the pet reception to check the paperwork of the pets. I expected this to be pretty smooth sailing as they both go their rabies shot on time and we got a new European passport for Biscuit, as he used to have a regular passport before. But of course nothing could be that easy… After scanning both cats the lady at the reception told us there was something wrong with Biscuits pasport. The vet had forgot to stamp and sign it. I was already pretty stressed at this point, because of the move so I was about ready to start crying. But the lady phone a local vet about 10 minutes away who was happy to give us a new passport.

And we got that passport alright, but not before my fiance and one of our best friends driving the van had to hunt for a cash machine, because the vet did not take credit or debit cards (… That’s the French for you I guess).

So two hours later and 50 euro’s (??!! For a flipping piece of paper!) poorer we were finally on the train and off to England.

You would think things would go pretty smoothly from here. Ha! Guess again! Apparently the British love to work on their road system… Especially during summer vacation and in evening times. lucky us!

So our plan of arriving at our new house and unloading our things had to be revised. Instead we decided to crash at the house of the friend driving the van, as it was 00.30 by the time we got there.

The next day we got up at 7 o’clock to head to the house. We only had until 11 to unload all our possessions…  After a quick stop at a supermarket to buy some cleaning supplies and provisions we arrived at the house by 9… Yep leaving us 2 hours to unload the entire van.

It was tough, but we made it with 5 minutes to spare. I spent the rest of that day cleaning out kitchen cupboards and putting things away.

Yesterday was a bit of a slower day. We put together some wardrobes and did some grocery shopping. I bought an electric kettle at Morrison’s hoping to make some tea, only to find out it is missing the lower part to power it when I got home… I was so confused when I pulled it out haha. So I am going to have to just stick with water for a bit. I’m sure I will live ;).

Biscuit is having a bit of a hard time adjusting to all of this. He has spent the better day of Friday and Saturday hiding under the sheets in our bedroom. But he seems to be getting used to the new place. Pancake on the other hamd acts like I just gave her the best present ever. She was happily expiring the new place on the first day lol. For some reasons she particularly loves the stairs (it’s her first time seeing any) and loves to chill on the top step haha. Weird cat. She is currently chilling on my lap happily purring whenever I spot writing to give her a cuddle. I am sure Biscuit will venture down the stairs today or tomorrow as well. It usually takes him around 3 days to adjust to changes.

So yeah… This has been one hell of a move. But we are here. In rainy old England. Guess I’d better do some more unpacking, though I have to say sitting here with the cat on my lap makes it hard to get started haha.

A new job

Dear readers,

Well this blogpost is up a little later than I wanted it to, but a lot has been going on.

Most of you will already know this, but since I wrote my last post I also got a job in the UK. I have been hired as a Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist and will be working at what I believe is one of the coolest places ever: The Bodleian Libraries! I feel like I owe you guys a small trip report as I had to go all the way to Oxford for my job interview, so grab some coffee, tea or plain water (whatever works for you), because it’s going to be a lengthy blog.

On July 11 I was invited for an interview in Oxford. My interview was to take place on Thursday July 19th at 9.10, so I decided to fly in on Wednesday. It would be my first trip abroad by myself in about 6 years. Honestly, that prospect made me a little nervous, especially since I did not have the best time ever the last time I went on a solo trip. Ironically the trip was to a conference in Birmingham and I just ended up feeling a bit lonely. This might just have been nerves though. As it kind of was my first time flying alone, my first time staying in a hotel on my own and my first ever conference… Perhaps the accumulation of first times kind of ruined it a bit. Who knows?

This time was quite different. Though I still prefer going on a trip with others – it’s just more fun that way -, I had a pretty good time exploring Oxford and doing some shopping at Cath Kidston and Uniqlo. If you have not yet heard of Uniqlo I highly, highly recommend you pay that store a visit. It is a Japanese brand, known for its simplicity, but amazing quality. It of course also helps that they aren’t crazy expensive. For my Dutch readers: there’s a store coming to Amsterdam this autumn, so be sure to check it out. I for one look forward to stopping by there once every so often in Oxford.

The room I booked very much had a dorm room kind of feel. Probably because it was actually a dorm room rented out to tourists over the summer.. They did try really hard to make the room feel a bit more special, with the little soaps and even a chocolate on my pillow.

As I hate being late, I of course arrived at the library for my interview a little early. So I used this time to take some epic pictures of some really cool buildings right across the street from where I will work.

Before the interview commenced I was asked to take two tests and was subsequently interviewed for about 45 minutes. I had a pretty good feeling about the interview. You know, the kind of feeling that you really couldn’t have done or said more than you did. And if they didn’t hire you, it was simply because it wasn’t meant to be. After the interview I was given a small tour of my potential new workplace, just to give me a bit of a feel what it would be like working at the Weston Library (which is home to the Bodleian Library’s special collections).

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The Weston Library

Once the tour was over and my really sweet guide had dropped me off at the entrance I, of course, could not resist perusing the giftshop. I have made it a habit to pick up a magnet of every place I go to, so I made sure to pick up a nice one of the Old Bodleian Library (at this point, I wasn’t quite sure if I would be getting the job, so I bought one just in case). By this time, though it was time to get my luggage and to head to the bus that would take me to the airport. I would have loved to stay in Oxford a little longer, but alas that was not in the cards.

Check-in at the airport was fairly swift and I decided to sit myself down at a Starbucks in the hopes of being able to do some writing. Cue the hipster picture of a Chai Tea Late and a laptop lol.

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Thankfully my flight was pretty on time and I was able to board the airplane swiftly. About 1,5 hours later, the plan landed on Schiphol and the crew gave us permission to switch our phones back on we were still taxying.

I was eager to let my parents and fiancé know that I had landed safely, so I immediately turned off flight-mode. As it usually takes my phone a while to pick up any type of signal, I let it rest of my leg for a bit. The moment the device picked up a signal though it started ringing. It was a number from the UK and more specifically from Oxford… My heart leaped a little as I answered the phone. It was the Bodleian library offering me the job! Whoot!

So now I am sure some of you are wondering: what on earth does a graduate trainee digital archivist do? Well they will teach me to do a variety of jobs, such as how to digitize old documents and how to archive them, how to archive digital born media (such as websites, blogs and e-mails), how to set up these archives and how to manipulate XML, which is the language used to enter information in to the library’s databases. On the other hand, I will also be working at the library’s reading rooms, so I will also be trained as a librarian.

Whilst being trained on the job, I will also be studying with the University of Aberystwyth (yep… that’s going to be a fun one to pronounce). There I will be taking a distance learning course in Digital Curation. Amongst others will be taking modules in “Archive collection development and Description”, “Knowledge and Information Architecture” and “Management Information Systems”. You would probably think that I would be pretty through with learning seeing that I have done a Bachelors, Masters and am about to complete a PhD, but nothing could be further from the truth. I actually look forward to start this new study. Though it definitely is a bonus that the essays never have to exceed 3000 words and don’t have to consist of 100% new and original ideas. Hopefully this is going to be piece of cake since have been producing 14,000 word chapters that are (hopefully) filled with new insights and ideas.

As I am writing this I only have two days left at my current job. I cannot believe we are already leaving for England next week. Time sure flies when you are packing!

Unfortunately, I once more had to admit to myself that I am not superwoman. I discovered that I cannot finish everything at my current job up nicely, pack the entire house and emigrate, finish my PhD on time and lose weight. Something had to give, and I am sad to say my eating has been a bit all over the place… Over the past month or so I have gained 2 kilo’s. Yikes. Needless to say I am going to try to keep that under control since I do not want to gain any more. Ambitious? Hell yes, but apparently, that’s just how I roll.

As always, thank you for reading my dear reader. I am not sure if the next post will be before or after the move, but just in case I post it after: see you on the other side of the pond!

We’re moving to the UK!

keep calm I'm moving to England

Yep, the majority of my readers probably already know this because they know me in real life, but we are moving to the UK by the end of August.

My fiancé was offered a job in Wolverhampton and I had spotted a job that I really want to apply for. It of course also helped that I am crazy about the Victorian era and we were already thinking of maybe moving to England next year… So we decided to go for it.

When are we moving? 47 days from now…. and boy is that stressful haha.

Thankfully though we already have a house. We signed the tenancy agreement for a lovely house in Rubery, Birmingham this weekend. I am so excited! The house is bigger than we currently have. It has two bedrooms and a massive kitchen. The reception room itself isn’t too big, but it is adjacent to a lovely conservatory, which I am sure the kitty cats will appreciate.

new house

Our new home!

I will make sure to post some pictures once we have decorated everything.

The area itself is lovely. It is pretty quiet and it is very green. It is also close to Waseley Hills Country Park, which looks amazing. I can’t wait to explore this. Perhaps I can persuade a  friend who enjoys a bit of twalking (talking + walking) to join me… Hmmm, we’ll see.

We still have a ton to do though. We need to pack and get everything ready for the move. And on top of all that I also have a dissertation to finish… Yep: when I said things are stressful, I meant it.

I will try to keep you guys updated about the move and how I myself am getting on with finding a job in England. But I am not making any promises, because to say I’m going to be “hella busy” might be an understatement. Still, I will do what I can to keep you all posted ;).

90 day challenge, dietary changes and shorts!

Guess who is finally back for another update? Yep that would be me. Apologies for the massively long absence, but I really wanted to take some time to recover some energy and did not want to push myself into writing regular blog posts when I did not feel up for it.

So I am sure you are all wondering: how have things been going? Pretty good actually. In my previous blogpost I wrote about the 90 day challenge I was doing. I completed it about two weeks ago with pretty nice results.

Chest: -4,5 cm
Waist: -5,5 cm
Hips: -4,8 cm
Thighs: -1,6 cm
Weight: -2,1 kg

So overall that is a -16,4 cm loss and I am back at 68 kg. I am pretty pleased with this, the more because I wasn’t able to work-out a lot due to my chronic fatigue.

Speaking of chronic fatigue, I have to say I am gradually getting more energy back. The mesology treatment (please read an older blog post for more information on this) really seems to be working. I have been taking a ton of different supplements to help with my fatigue, as well as digestive issues. On top of that I have also had to make some massive dietary changes.

crash-dietMy mesologist has put me on diet that only includes foods that are easily digestible. So I cannot have gluten other than spelt, I can only have meager meats (such as chicken or lean beef), non-fermented cheeses (so that excludes mozzerella, brie and the like). Oh and I am not allowed to eat raw vegetables, so salads are out of the question.

As I am also rice intolerant (yes, never heard of that before either) and slightly allergic to nightshade, that has mostly left me with options like quinoa, couscous and sweet potatoes. All in all, a pretty restrictive diet.

And to top it all off, I have also had to give up my morning coffee… *gasp* Yep, because apparently the way your body processes coffee counteracts homeopathic.

Thankfully I can still have my trusty Herbalife shake in the morning, though I have had to switch to the “free from” version, as I am apparently allergic to soy ^__^” .

But is it worth it? Definitely! My body just seems to have a lot less trouble processing food, which leaves me with more energy to spend on fun stuff! Like writing blog posts late at night, after a full day of work! Yeah, I know! I am blown away too.

Don’t worry though: I am not going crazy. I am taking this month to stock up on as much energy as I can. I have learned that if I am high on energy, I should still take it easy and preserve it, rather give in to the inclination to cram in all the things I have been wanting to do for weeks in a short period of time. Honestly, it’s really hard not to do this. Especially with the weather being absolutely lovely!

… And speaking of nice weather. I actually decided to take the plunge this year. I have been considering it for years now, but never actually did. This year, things are going to be different though: cause I bought not one, but TWO pairs of denim shorts! I bought a pair in dark blue and gray.

shorts

For reference, I have not worn shorts since I was in primary school. I have always felt like I need to hide my (not particularly small) very white thighs. But this year, I just thought: screw it! I’m done with wearing long jeans when it’s 28 degrees (Celsius) outside. No mas!

nomaspostercomp

bonus points if you can name the reference in the comments

So now I just have to get myself a cute pair of sneakers to go with them and I’m 100% ready for summer in both Holland and Florida! 😀 Yep! November in Walt Disney World is going to be HOT: average of 25 degrees Celcius so shorts will definitely be in order ;).

Well that’s all for now guys. I will try not to make you guys wait another 2,5 months before the next post ;).

90 day challenge: raaawrr!

About a month ago I signed up through my Herbalife coach to start a 90 day challenge. With her help I have been focusing on regaining some more energy and loosing centimeters/ weight by simultaneously building muscle.

Due to the crash in energy levels in August I just let myself go and gained some of the pounds back. When I started the challenge I weighed in at 70 kg, or 154,3 pounds.  Which is technically still a healthy weight, and a normal BMI, but not really where I want to be.

So how has it been going? Well…. Slow. Very, very slow. The first two weeks I really struggled to regain my focus and to get my eating habits under control. This is partially because I have slowly been regaining some of my energy. My body has really been struggling to get a handle on this, as I have been experiencing spikes and drops in energy: one day I was doing great, the next day I felt like I hadn’t slept all night. And as a result, on the lower energy days I kept getting the munchies, because my body was telling me to send in the reinforcements… i.e. food … and honestly, who has ever craved carrots and peas or other healthy things?

On top of that, in the third week I suddenly found myself struggling with something I have hitherto never had a problem with: bloating. The anti-biotics that have been prescribed by my mesiologist have decided to kick in and occasional bloating is a bit of a side effect. The result: when I stood on the scales last week Saturday I was at 70,4 kg (or 155.2 pounds)! Despite the gain, I had still miraculously lost a couple of millimeters around my waist though, so it wasn’t all misery.

Through all this my coach Kim has been so sweet and such a support. It’s been really nice to have someone who doesn’t only keep me accountable, but also cheers me up when I have been dissatisfied with my losses. I really couldn’t hope for a better coach.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor hamster eatingThis week somehow everything has made a 180 degree turn… Honestly, it has been pretty fab. Although my energy levels are currently not that great, I have been able to get a bit of exercise in and have been able to get my eating under control. Which is a miracle considering hell week is coming up, and I have the tendency to munch on anything and everything the week before. It’s like my body is preparing for a monthly week of hibernation and thinks it needs to stock up on supplies or something haha.

When I stepped on the scales this morning I had lost a whopping -0,8 kg (or roughly 1,8 pounds) in a week! I am not going to lie, I am pretty chuffed with that.

So, just to give you an overview of how much I have lost in total since I started roughly 30 days ago:

Weight:  – 0.5 kg
Chest:     – 1,8 cm
Waist:    – 2,7 cm
Hips:      – 1,3 cm
Thighs:  – 0,3 cm
Total cm lost all together: 6,1 cm.

Granted, it’s not spectacular and it could have been better. But you know what, as a wise man once told me (you know who you are), a loss, is a loss, is a loss. So I’ll take it.

Now I just have to sink my teeth in my current mindset, persevere… become a lion!

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Raaawwwr!!!!

Round 3: Battling the fatigue with… Mesology

Well it is almost the end of the first month of the new year, so it is high time for a blogpost and an update. I am writing this as I am still battling it out with the flu that has been going around, so apologies for any typo’s.

As my trusty readers will now, chronic fatigue syndrome has really been kicking my but lately. I therefore made it one of my new year’s resolutions to actually learn how to pace myself and to improve my energy levels in 2018.

So the first thing I did was taking a vacation. We rented a little cottage in a holiday park, where I walked a bit, drew a bit in my new bullet journal and did a whole lot of nothing. Now I am the type of person who usually wants to do anything and everything when they go on holiday, so this was pretty new to me… But gosh it was wonderful. And I am planning to at least have one such vacation per year from now on.

Apart from my holiday, I also decided to try-out two other things: 1). mesology and 2) the Heralife 90 day challenge. Now, because I have quite a lot to say about both topics, I am going to be focusing on mesology in this blogpost and will write another one about my Herbalife challenge. It’s going to have some full lenght before pictures, so stay tuned for that!

So, Mesology…. I am pretty sure the majority of you will have never heard of the term. Well, I honestly hadn’t come across it either until my boss brought it up. Apparently a friend of hers and a co-worker have made great progress with it. So she urged me to give it a try. As I currently have nothing to loose and everything to gain, I decided to give it a shot!

So what the heck is mesology? Well it basically uses clinical medicine and combines it with homeopathic treatments from all over the world, including China (acupuncture) and Indian (Ayurveda). Basically, they have just taken all the good stuff from the different treatments and combined them.

During my first appointment about 1,5 weeks ago my mesologist checked a number of things. She first asked me to fill out a form so she could know a bit more about my medical background, then she did a stomach examination, felt my wrists (not quite sure why), examined my tongue and then turned to electro-acupuncture. Yep… electro-accupuncture. Nope, you do not get electrocuted nor do they put needles in you (thank god for that). Instead, they do something that is a whole lot more complicated to explain. So bare with me.

Below I have included a picture of device used for electro-acupuncture.

My mesologist asked me to hold the shiny cylinder in my one hand whilst she used the pen (at the fore of the picture) to press the meridian points in my body (hence acupuncture). She examined the meridians on my hands and feet. Whenever she pressed the pen against my body, the little meter would tell her how well the organs worked that were connected to the meridian points she was pressing with the pen.

My mesiologist used the round metal device in the picture (on the left), to center the meter in between. However, by placing little test tubes with supplements, vitamins or minerals in one of the metal circles in the device, she was able to measure how the supplements would affect my body.

So what did I learn?

1. Apparently I am allergic to soy products. ^__^” Which would explain why the anti-inflamatory diet was such a big failure (that diet is super high in soy). So no soybeans, tofu or anything of the sort.

2. Like my mom, I apparently don’t respond too well to foods belonging to the nightshade family (such as tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber or potatoes). Although it is less of a problem when they are pealed and cooked through, she nevertheless advised me to limit the amount of potatoes I eat.

no rice3. My body does not like rice. According to my mesologist my body cannot process rice very well so she has forbidden me from eating rice for the time beaing… Yeah… So hardly any potatoes and no rice. *Insert sad teary eyed face here*. This is basically what I eat with every meal, so that is going to be interesting. Thankfully I can have quinoa, bulgur. couscous, red lentils and sweet potatoes. So I have been looking up recipes with those ingredients. I have already tried a really nice broccoli, quinoa and cheese casserole by Cookie and Kate (side note: I did adjust the amount of cheese in there, chose almond milk instead of regular and added in some onions and an extra clove of garlic for a bit more flavour). So I am sure I can manage. But my cooking is definitely going to be a heck of a lot more adventurous. ^__^”

4. My immune system is a hot mess (oh the irony as I write this whilst having the flu). Now this is definitely part of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as the fatigue is partly caused by your immune system going hay wire. Usually this can be traced back to a viral decease in the past. In my case this is probably pfeifer’s decease which I had when I was 15 years old, as my mesologist was able to determine that I respond really well to supplements which aid people with pfeifer.

unhappy stomach5. My digestive system isn’t in a much better state than my immune system. In fact, it might be worse (yeay!). When I went to the hospital because of my intense fatigue about 4 (?) years ago, I complained to them about being nauseous all the time. Since stomach pills alleviated the nausea, they concluded that I had too much stomach acid and prescribed stomach protectors. At that point in time they were unable to pinpoint the fatigue, because my bloodtests were good. During later hospital visits in which they focused on my fatigue, I suggested multipletimes that there might be a correlation between the nausea and my fatigue, but they dismissed this. These were clearly separate complains (which just happened to surface at the same time… right).

Well, fast forward to my mesology appointment. Turns out I do not have too much stomach acid, but too little. So, what happens when you have to little stomach acid? Whatever you ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner does not get digested properly. As a result, it will continue to sit in your stomach, where it will slowly begin to fester and yeast, causing you to become incredibly nauseous. Lovely image, isn’t it? I would say that’s a whole different issue than too much stomach acid.

intestineNow if only my digestive issues would have ended there. But oh no, there’s more! Apparently my small intestine is not working properly. To put it into perspective: if my intestine was working properly, my electro-acupuncture meter should have indicated at least 40, or preferably 60 and above… instead it read 12! So what does this mean? It means that my small intestine often fails to tell the rest of my body which fluids it needs to produce to get all the nutrients out of my food. Now, I have no problem absorbing the nutrients once they have been extracted, but because my food is not processed properly I simply do not get enough of them. As a result, I get increasingly more  tired, as I am pretty much constantly undernourished. My mesologist even suggested that this might even be the cause of my intense nightmares.

Whilst my mesologist was summing up all of the above, I couldn’t help but wonder how the hell I am still standing up straight and managing to function at least somewhat properly. My body is an absolute mess.

I did think it made an awful lot of sense what she said though. She was able to connected the dots and the different symptoms in a way no (other) doctor has yet been able to do. And what’s more: sShe said that if we address all the issues above, we might solve 80% of the problem…. Yes you read that right:

80 flipping percent!

Hope GIFMeaning I might be able to get rid of the majority of this mind boggling, draining, annoying fatigue yet! *insert Haleluja chorus here*. I swear, if she can help me get rid of this fatigue, I am buying her one massive bouquet of flowers (I would buy whine, but I have no idea if she likes alchohol).

But now I am sure you are all wondering: how are we going to address this massive list of issues? Well, by not eating the things I am allergic to and taking a whole bunch of supplements (including probiotics). And oh my god those supplements are expensive. Like seriously… But the good thing is that my mesologist does not sell them herself, so she isn’t prescribing things to make a profit.

So fingers-crossed that we can tackle that 80 (?!) percent people. Until that point, I’ll…

Tip: check out all of Chibird’s awesomely cute motivational gifs 😉

Silly pictures

Silly pictures…. Some people just take them… They put on a silly face and snap a selfie. Or, when they are taking a picture with their friends, they first take a normal one and then convince everyone to make a weird face. Just for the fun of it.

I never used to be the kind of person that was comfortable doing this. Honestly, I was one of those people who instantly got nervous or uncertain when someone asked me to make weird faces in a picture. Probably because I lacked confidence… massively. I mean, I didn’t like how I looked in pictures to begin with, so did we really have to make things worse by having me deliberately pull a face that was going to make me look ugly? No thanks! I’m good. I’ll just avoid the picture all together.

You may have noticed that that entire paragraph has been written in the past tense. Well, that’s because something has changed. I am not quite sure why, when or how, but it has. I made the discovery because of some pictures I took with my colleagues at the Christmas market/party at work. The place where I work had organized an outdoor Christmas market, where you could grab a bite to eat and compile your own Christmas package whilst chatting with your colleagues and having fun.

There was also a van with a picture boot in the back. My colleagues and I decided we definitely needed our pictures taken. Unfortunately, all seven didn’t fit in there at once, so I only got to take a picture with three of them. Whilst waiting for our turn outside the van we noticed that they had all sorts of festive hats and accessories. Normally I don’t really go for those, but this time my eye got caught by a sparkly, bright red hat. You know, the kind that you really, really cannot miss. Well, on it went and into the van I got.

After having taken the first picture, the call to arms came: “let’s pull a silly face”. My response? “Oh yeah! Let’s do it!” I couldn’t help but think “we are in a photo booth. It’s tradition!” And that’s how my first official silly face picture became a fact. And here it is for the world to see.

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🙂 Posted with the curtsey of my colleagues.

Yep, it’s the one in the middle. Ok, it’s only mildly silly, but still… I think this is actually my favourite out of the three.

But I didn’t stop there! I got back into the van, and again was called upon to make a silly face. And this time; I actually made a proper silly one.

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It was only once I was on my way home that I realized how very much out of character it was. And how weird it was that I was completely comfortable in front of that camera: with silly face and without it.

As an avid picture avoider this is a huge change for me. And one that I am grateful for. Of course, there are still going to be pictures that I wince at. Where I think: oh good lord… Please delete it. But hey, it’s a process and we are definitely getting somewhere.

I have since even dared to make a somewhat silly selfie. I was taking a picture of my new cold resistant running clothes that I hope to start using in the new year to show to my parents. And you know what? I am sharing it with you guys as well. Just because I can ;).

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Who knew coral red was a colour that would look good on me?

The hoody is really nice and warm and has some holes in there for my thumbs, so it will also keep my hands warm. The leggings are both comfy and warm. So I am all geared up to pick up running again, whenever my body is ready for it.

project confidence

So before 2017 is out I can honestly say that I have made some massive progress with  project confidence. Perhaps more than I realized when I wrote my last post in which I look back on my goals of this year.

And with that, my lovely readers I will leave you. Thank you for sticking with me through this year and reading my blogs. I wish you all a lovely Christmas and see you in the new year.

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Selfie taken at work before the Christmas market. 😉 They handed out Christmas hats to help everyone get into the Christmas spirit

Looking back and looking forward

You know those days when your body is exceedingly tired, but your brain wants to do  A TON? Well that’s me today. And one of the things my brain apparently wants to do today, is write a blogpost. And not just any blogpost though. An end of year post, hence the title. A bit early, I admit, but I am not sure if I will have the I apologize in advance if I end up rambling a little in this blog: fatigue makes it hard to write coherent English sentences lol.

Last year I wrote a post with my goals for 2017. So I thought it would be nice to use that post to review the year and to set some goals for the coming year. If you just want to see the goals 2018, then feel free to skip to the end.

Looking back at 2017

Weight-loss

My first goal was weight-loss related. I wanted to lose weight and maintain it for the entire year. Well, I am a little sad to write that I was not able to maintain my weight-loss after I got to 68kg. When I stood on the scales last Sunday I was back at 69,9kg. In my head I am now forming all sorts of excuses which include my Chronique Fatigue Syndrome, which has been bothering me severely again since August. However, the bottom line is that I have let myself go and have been eating waaayyy too many sweets (chocolates, biscuits, crisps… the works). What can I say? I eat when I am tired. So during the last two weeks of 2017 I am just going to try and do some damage control.

And in the new year I am going to see if I can at least retrain my mind to go for healthy snacks, rather than unhealthy ones. So if anyone has any warm, wintery healthy snack recipes: please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments.

 

Exercise

Well this has been a bit of a hit and miss. Since August I have been really struggling. On the upside, I have been consistently walking between 10.000 and 13.000 steps on the days I go to work so at least I get my exercise in on those days.

Tap dance has been a bit of a different story though. I have had to cancel a couple of times, simply because my body was so tired that I either felt sick or was shaking like a straw. Lessons are currently on hold due to the Christmas holidays, but I hope to be able to make it there every week starting January. The day got rescheduled from Tuesday evening to Saturday morning, so I am hoping that helps a little as well.

As for Yoga: I am currently just doing that whenever I feel like I have the energy for it, which currently isn’t very often. With the holidays coming up, life has just been a bit hectic and it has taken its toll. But that is ok.We’ll get there when we get there ;).

Needless to say running is not anywhere in the picture at the moment. It makes me a little sad, but hey, that’s life. At least I have something to look forward to when I start to get a little bit more energy again.

 

Project confidence

I honestly think that this is the one area where I have made the most progress this year. I feel a lot more confident in myself. As a result, it is for example a little, tiny bit easier for me to talk to someone I don’t know at a conference. So that’s a win. I have also realized that I am incredibly blessed and have quite a lot of people who like me for who I am and like to spend time with me (or even go on trips with me!). And bonus, I feel relatively comfortable taking selfies… I even suggest making them sometimes now. Yeay!

I have been getting a bit more conscious about the increasingly darker bags underneath my eyes, but thankfully there’s foundation and concealer for this kind of thing. So yes, I will be using a bit of make-up into my life (*gasp*) to make sure that doesn’t get into my way of becoming increasingly more confident.

 

PhD and research

Well… yeah… There’s been some highs and lows I suppose. I did manage to get a chapter accepted which is to appear in a book to be published with Routledge, and have sent in my contributions to the Companion to Victorian Popular Literature which is to come out with McFarland. So I am pretty happy with that.

I was, however, planning on graduating this year, which did not happen. Having to admit that I was not going to be able to make the deadline I set myself has been exceedingly hard. Especially when I had to explain this to other people. It’s really hard not to feel like you are a massive failure when you have to tell them once again: “nope, this year is not the year”. I just had to write an update to my supervisors that I basically do not have anything to show them after 3 months, and it was really hard not to break down in tears. There really is little more aggravating than really wanting to do something, but not physically being able to do it.

But that’s just something I am going to have to learn to deal with. I also need to stop looking at my body as an impediment in this respect: yes I am kind of at its merci, but hey: I can still go to work 3 days a week and can still do some fun stuff. Which is more than most people with CFS can do. So here’s to positivity!

I do, however, mean to graduate the coming year, so that is going to call for some changes in how I manage my energy and time, but more on that below.

 

Goals for 2018

🙂 Yep, even despite my CFS I am still setting some goals for 2018. Although they are a bit more tentative. Why, you may wonder? Well, because:

Weight-loss

Well I, as I have stated above: my goal for 2018 is to lose the 1,9 kg I have gained and to train myself to grab healthier snacks, when I feel like I need them.

Exersize. 

I really want to tap dancing and try to do whatever I can yoga wise. I would absolutely love to take up running again, but honestly: I am just glad if I can manage to do Yoga three time a week right now.

PhD, research and social life

Now this is going to be the biggest challenge.

I really, really want to graduate this year, but this will require me to make some massive changes in how I manage my time. Meeting up with friends, as much as I love doing it, takes up a lot of energy. And I mean: a lot. If I spend an entire day with someone in addition to working 3 days a week, it can take up to 2-3 days for me to recover. Thus not leaving me with much (if any) time for writing.

If I want to get more writing done, I will have to be more careful with my time. And unfortunately, that means I will not be able to meet up with others as much as I would like to. I have currently set myself a limit of no more than 2 days for social activites per month. Now, this may change as my energy levels go up, but for now, this is all I can manage.

I really, really hope my friends and family will understand. Because I really love spending time with every last one of them.

The most amazing trip ever

As many of you guys know (because I have been screaming it off the rooftops) by the end of 2018 my fiancé, mother-in-law and I will be traveling all the way to America to visit Walt Disney World! 😀 I am so, so, so excited for this. I have a countdown calendar on my phone and everything haha.

So I am excited to see what 2018 may bring. And just in case I do not post before Christmas and New Years:

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor merry christmas happy new year

Newcastle: Bridges, Victoriana and tea, lots of tea

It’s been about two weeks since I have returned from Newastle so it’s high time for a blogpost about it! It’s a rather long one though, so make sure to get a cup of coffee or tea.

Together with my former colleague and lovely friend Mare, I set out for Newcastle on October 30th by boat. After a rather rocky night (literally) on board in a small cabin, we disembarked in true zombie style (due to the crappy sleep we had had) in Newcastle at 09.15 UK time. After clearing customs we were ushered into one of the busses that took us to the town centre.

For some reason I cannot quite phantom there are absolutely no storage lockers in Newcastle. None. So we were at a bit of a loss what to do with our luggage as our hotel has a no left luggage policy *sigh*. Thankfully though someone from dfds was able to point us to a local newsagent that would look after our bags for 5 pounds each. It wasn’t cheap, but it was sure better than having to lug our baggage around.

So, what do you do on your first day in Newcastle? Right! You explore the city centre. We set out for Grainger Market as a number of websites mentioned this was a must see. It was clear that most of the stores were geared to women that were +50, except for this one kick ass store that sold Disney shoes! Yes you read that correctly: Disney SHOES. Although I was tempted I decided against buying them, as I was quite sure they wouldn’t accommodate orthopaedics… Didn’t keep me from drooling at the display though…

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The central arcade was right around the corner, so we looked at that as well. But quite frankly this was a bit of a disappointment. The architecture is alright, but it pales in comparison to the ones in Cardiff.

After a quick stop at the very comfortable Waterstones café for a much needed sugar boost (Chocolate milk and Bakewell tarts apparently do wonders to revive you from zombie mode), we ventured into Eldon Square shopping centre. There we visited only a number of stores before we positively fled the premises. For some reason it had suddenly become incredibly crowded there, which was simply too much for two very tired introverts.

We found sanctuary at the Laing Art Gallery. We hadn’t planned on visiting this, but a museum café seemed the best place to escape the still growing crowds. And we were right. The gallery had a lovely café with a beautiful stained glass window, delicious tea and sandwiches… and best of all: nothing but elderly citizens who chatted away whilst keeping their voices down so as not to bother other people…. Don’t judge me, I was tired haha.

After having sat there for at least an hour, we picked up our bags and went to the hotel. By the time we got there, it was nearly time for dinner, which we had at Piano and Pitcher. Now this is a truly lovely restaurant with one hell of a view, and hands down the most scrumptious sticky toffee pudding that I have EVER had.

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Our awesome view of the open bridge.

Day 2

On the second day we roamed about the Quayside a bit in search of breakfast and took this lovely selfie 😀

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After breakfast we headed to the Victorian open air museum Beamish. Now THIS was fantastic. The museum is huge and offers a tram and bus service to transport visitors in between the several Victorian towns and farms that they have. And the best thing is: the mode of transportation is 100% Victorian.

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Yep you get to ride this… for free.

The people working there are obviously nuts about anything Victorian and have a boat load of knowledge that they are eager to share. We had a particularly lovely conversation with this gentleman at the bank.

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Gosh… I wanna work here too! Dream job goals people! Dream job goals!

Whilst visiting their website before our trip I had discovered that there was a photography shop…. So needless to say I couldn’t help myself and had another picture taken in Victorian style. At first when the photographer pulled out the dress, which was a light pink, I was a bit doubtful, but as he was clearly a man with a plan I rolled with it. And the result… Well judge for yourself:

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One word of advice when visiting Beamish: get there early or plan to go for two days. Seriously, this place is massive. We didn’t even get to see half of the museum despite being there at 12.00. So yes, keep that in mind.

That evening we ended up eating at Las Iguanas, a Mexican restaurant which to my lovely fellow traveller’s extreme delight has a vegetarian menu. And their vegetarian food is good: honestly, the Portobello fajita’s that are TO DIE FOR. Oh and make sure to try to non-alcoholic cocktails. Those are good too.

Day 3

In the morning we discovered the place that hands down serves the best and most affordable breakfast at the Quayside: the café at the Baltic Museum for Contemporary Art. The music selection is relaxing, the staff is friendly and the food is good. So good that we ended up having breakfast there the next day as well.

The museum shop was also well worth a visit, as they have lots of fun gifts. We did briefly go through the several exhibitions, but as neither of us are much into contemporary art, we didn’t enjoy it much. What we did like, however, were the viewing decks which allowed you to overlook Newcastle AND the pretty epic staircase.

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After our brief visit to the museum we left for the Biscuit Factory. This is an art gallery where artists display their work and where people can buy it. Some of the work is both stunning and affordable, so it is definitely a visit when you are looking for some new art to decorate your walls (or just to admire the art).

By this time our tummies were rumbling quite a bit so we made our way back to the Quayside to visit Catpawchino, a cat café. Now this was absolutely lovely… and not just because we had to take off our shoes, which our aching feet greatly enjoyed. The owner of the café has an number of cats which all have their own personality and their own charm. My personal favourite, however, was Alfie; the candy monster and king of the castle. Just look at those eyes!

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Oh and if cats at a café aren’t enough to make you want to visit: the tea and food are also great. So make sure to give this a try :D.

We spent the rest of the day back in the city centre to visit amongst others Marks and Spencer’s and to revisit Waterstones to pick up the newest Dan Brown novel that was on sale for only 10 pounds.

Day 4.

This was our last day in Newcastle. After dropping off our bags at the newsvendor we visited the Lit & Phil library. Although this is by no means the most beautiful library I have ever visited, it was definitely the most welcoming one. Upon entering we were greeted by a lovey elderly librarian who welcomed us and invited us to wander around and read as many books as we wanted whilst enjoying some coffee or tea. Whilst browsing their book selection I actually found a book that will help me with some of my research. So yes, super happy we went there.

Afterwards we roamed through Newcastle in search of a quaint little shop called The Glamorous Owl. Now this cute little giftshop is a hidden gem that is really hard to find if you aren’t actually looking for it. The entire shop is dedicated to handcrafted items and they are surprisingly affordable. I ended up buying a pair of really cute, silver, floral earrings (for only 25 pounds!). So if you are into cute, handmade things make sure to drop by.

By now it was time for lunch, and I knew just the place to go to: the Tea Sutra Teahouse. This is very close to the Eldon shopping centre, but rather tucked away so nice and quiet. They have an enormous selection of tea, which they serve in different types of tea pots depending on which tea you get. You also get a little timer so you know when to pour your tea, preventing it from getting too bitter or strong. The food is really good as well! Oh, and when it says your food comes with a salad, don’t expect the spoon full of sorry looking leaves you usually get. No you get half a plate heaped with really, seriously good salad. 😀

The tea house has a bit of a new age/ middle- eastern vibe to it, which is incredibly soothing. And I cannot help but complement the owners on their impeccable music taste: whilst we were there they were playing a Porgy and Bess cd.

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By now it was almost time to head back to the boat. We dropped by Marks and Spenser’s to pick up a Christmas pudding, amongst other things, before making our way to the pick up place for the bus which was to take us to the boat.

The return journey on board was pretty smooth (though the food on board left something to be desired: soggy scrambled eggs… really?), and we were actually able to get some OK sleep (which might have just been because we were exhausted hahah).

I had an absolutely lovely time with Mare (thank you for being awesome!) and am definitely planning on returning to Newcastle at some later point in time. Though if that will be by boat is up for debate haha.