Of Blighty

I guess it can come across as quite an arrogant thing to say, but I’m well travelled. This has helped to soften the blow now the traveller in me is grounded due to not being able to fly. However despite frequenting many hostels across the world I have refrained from either having dread locks or carrying a guitar. Ok looking at the map there’s some big areas of white but a significant amount of blue too. On the map even things which aren’t countries such as Jersey and Guernsey are ticked off too. Nevertheless perhaps it’s clear I may have done it the wrong way round, people tend to gap year on the other side of the world then take short breaks around Europe. But I have no regrets Europe is a fantastic continent and varies over a much shorter distance than perhaps any other continent of the world, it is a very full continent with the hum drum of human existence. It is probably reasonably unique, that the closest country I now haven’t been to is Lichtenstein.

So although it will ultimately change my life a lot, I’m not actually that annoyed about it, obviously I have a much larger problem but at least I’ve been to a lot of places and by doing so I came to one humbling conclusion. I liked the UK best. It seems like an oddly nationalist thing and I guess a distinctly unbritish thing to say, we love to moan about it. Yes if I was in power I’d change quite a few things; for a start immunotherapy would be growing on trees. Many Brits aspire to be elsewhere, somewhere hotter or closer to the beach, but then why are so many Australians here!? Whenever I’ve gone away for a long time I’ve always missed Blighty and come back being thankful to my country of birth.


We have the international metropolis which is London, combined with fantastic countryside. Going to Center Parcs last week, in Wiltshire, plus Arran before it, and just living here is a reminder of what we have. For anyone who hasn’t been please book a trip to Centre Parcs, it had been over ten years since I’d been to one before that time in the lake district, and I did have quite a niggling to go again. So we hastily booked a trip there to get over all the unpleasantness of having to cancel a holiday to South Africa. A big advantage is that the one in Longleat is next door to the Safari Park. Dave, Mum, Dad and I went for a week there. Starting with the animals first. Dad still bought his mega zoom camera lens looking like the most serious photographer on the Safari bus and we saw the big 5 and more. We also found our way around the maze, me beating Dave to the centre on a second go, then headed to Center Parcs.
The only annoying thing about Center Parcs is the spelling. We planned a pretty full on week and Dave chalked up our schedule on the villa’s blackboard so we knew what we were doing, when. We brought plenty of board games with us too including Catan and Bananagram. Quad biking was great, Dave managed to capsize his on the last corner. We did laser clay pigeon shooting which I was quite bad at initially thinking like the real thing I had to aim where the clay was travelling to, forgetting that laser travels at the speed of light. We played squash, did the high ropes challenge, played pool and also went to the spa. The spa had over ten rooms imitating every culture’s type of spa from Turkish Hammam to a Finnish Sauna. The subtropical swimming paradise, ( I was expecting a swimming pool in a large humid greenhouse), was a long way from subtropical or in other words very subtropical; with the water being quite cold. It was a bit warmer on the subsequent days so perhaps that was down to a fault. The fact the whole site is pedestrianised and set in amongst trees it does have a utopian feel to it too. The downside of Center Parcs is it is quite expensive with each activity being more than you would pay outside of the centre, but if you have a chance and can get a deal on accommodation go for it.

Center Parcs in a way is symbolic of our country’s fashion of taking others best bits. It’s a Dutch concept which gives us access to sports from around the world, whilst selling French food (we went to Cafe Rouge), being able to swim in a paradise and it has a spa inspired from many of the world’s cultures. What I’m trying to say is, in this country you’re not very far from the best things of somewhere else. With the comfort of being able to speak English, the knowledge that crime is going down, healthcare (for the time being at least) is free and there’s no guns. Please check out the below link.

On Sunday, Georgie, Matt and I along with many other Leicester Medics new and old completed the Leicester half marathon. We stuck to the slowest pace of the three of us and just kept at it. Georgie and my training had something to be desired, having only ran up to 12km. It was heavily disrupted by my setback and Georgie fracturing her ring finger just a week before. She slipped on a loose paving stone on Battersea bridge when we were training. So a lot of factors were telling us not to do it. Admittedly it was not a world beating time of 2:22 in fact my brother Matt has done it almost twice as fast, but I think we all know I was the fastest one with stage 4. I personally found out Georgie is one tough cookie.  Not only because she ran a half marathon with a broken hand, but we elected to go for a Thai massage place afterwards to try and limit the inevitable post exercise stiffness.  I was expecting a nice pleasant experience like any other massage I’ve had. This started with a lady whacking my sore calves and thighs as firmly as possible, followed by forcing each limb into positions they’d never been, then it ended with her yanking all my fingers out of their sockets. Added to this I had to watch my girlfriend undergoing similar treatment in the next bed. My male protective instincts were heightened, but she looked very relaxed. Afterwards our sore and now bruised bodies, were not up for cooking, we went for a curry and I slept better than I had for ages.

Yes, the big C may have taken a lot from me and next week I may find out it has taken more, but it has yet to take my spirit. The show must go on.


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