Christmas parties, postal strikes, train strikes, freezing weather, hanging lights, writing cards and wrapping presents, eating warm mince pies with cream and drinking mulled wine... it must be Christmas! Oh, and what a finale to the World Cup! I have never seen a final as exciting as that!
I also listened again, this time in the comfort of my own home, to Judi talking to Gyles, but this was the Christmas edition. I went to see the live show earlier on this year and it was so fab, I couldn't resist watching again. I love Dame Judi Dench!
Merry Christmas one and all!
Whistlestop tour of Vilnius
This trip really got me into the Christmas spirit. I've been feeling so stuck and not as festive as usual and I know I needed to get out of my comfort zone and do some travelling. It works its magic every time.
We started the tour with a bit of a heavy one, visiting Lukiskes prison (which only closed in 2019) and then the KGB prison and museum, but I felt it was necessary if you want to learn about the country's past - a bit like the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide prison and museum in Phnom Penh - heavy and deeply upsetting but so important to understand what a country has been through. The contrast between what Lukiskes was (a horrible prison full of the worse kind of people) and is becoming (an entertainment venue) is quite difficult to comprehend and learning about the torture that went on in the KGB prison is unsettling and horrific. I told you it was heavy!
We ended our first day taking a tour of some of the TV series "Chernobyl" filming locations and sets. I haven't seen the show but it's on my list now.
Day two was the morning exploring Trakai castle and the afternoon a walking tour around the old town including a visit to the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. It was so snowy and Christmassy!
And I'm not saying anything about England Vs France, except... that referee was shocking.
Waking up in Vilnius
So here I am waking up in Vilnius on a short introductory tour of the country Lithuania - I think this is my 44th country - and I've had about two hours sleep! We got to the hotel around midnight and some of us decided on a little pub crawl. Always a nice way to ease into a new group of people who have never met before. Seeing the old town all christmassy with a smidge of snow was lovely. We tried out Who Hit John, The Piano Man and Mr Pub before hastily making our way back to the hotel as the temp was dropping fast and it was freezing with the wind chill!
I have a jam packed itinerary ahead of me so I really need some coffee, but not before mentioning that England beat Wales and then beat Senegal to get into the World Cup quarter finals!!! And I've booked a couple of comedy gigs for next year - Dawn French's "Dawn French is a huge T*AT" and, with my sisters, off the back of seeing Joanne McNally in October and finding it a riot, "My Therapist Ghosted Me" which Joanne is doing with Vogue Williams - and I love their podcast together of the same name. They laugh so much and it's infectious. They have definitely helped me adjust to working from home. I'm also still waiting for some more 2023 London dates for Ricky Gervais's new show "Armageddon", but so far no luck.
Time to deploy some RPs
Well after that utterly boring game against the USA, let's hope tonight's game against Wales is more engaging - and of course that we win it!
I've got the day off today to do some Crimbo shopping and start putting up decs. I'm going to leave decorating the tree until I get back from Lithuania because that is my favourite thing to do and I like taking my time over it. A bit of Nigella or Jamie on the TV cooking up a feast... glass of wine... warm mince pies and cream...
I've been working on some serious self care this past week - 10 minute daily CALM meditations, doing something arty and creative each day, listening to some of my favourite new music and seeing my family and friends - all of these things are included in my recovery pillars. I think I've come from such a high pressured working environment to now the polar opposite and my body is like what is going on??? I'm struggling with the after effects of my slipped disc in my leg, which has gone all wobbly and it's sort of made me lose my confidence. Then there's the cold / flu bug I cannot shake. And these things really affect my mental health. And it's winter! Urgh!
World Cup win and trying to unstick
So our Qatar World Cup campaign has taken off with a win! Still a long ways to go yet...
And I'm still trying to get "with it" but this flu cold thing is really clinging on. I've had more massage and chiro to treat my achey muscles and I'm trying to feel Christmassy and get organised because this is my favourite time of year now with the rundown to Christmas. I've ordered an arty advent calendar which is really for kids, but I'm so excited for it. I feel seriously stuck at the moment and I know creativity will get me out of this funk if I can just motivate myself to get involved. The perfectionist kicks in and bolsters the procrastinator so then it's like a double whammy. But art is art, especially when it comes to art in therapy. It doesn't matter what it looks like. It doesn't matter what form it takes. What matters is that I've done something creative in the first place. Gotten lost in myself for a while because that really rests the brain.
I have used my BA credit with my old company and rebooked a nice, chill holiday in Malta with mum for next March. I'm also off to Lithuania for a familiarisation trip with my new company at the start of December. That's pretty exciting because I have no pre conceptions about the Baltics. Another couple of new countries to explore!
Flu and feeling blue
So after my birthday weekend, we all got sick. I've been sleeping loads and testing for Covid, but the results keep saying negative. I don't know what this is but it's making me really lethargic, not hungry or thirsty, exhausted and congested and generally feeling yuck and unmotivated.
It really is one thing after another at the moment - anxiety and panic attacks in August, slipped disc in September and October and now the flu in November - jeez, give me a break!
I don't like the clocks going back either - apart from the extra hour in bed of course. The dark mornings and evenings are rubbish and then the days being so short.
So I turned 40 on Sunday and it couldn't be more different to my 30th. The biggest thing for me is not yet being pregnant. I really expected to be by now - that was my goal - but I have very mixed feelings about this last year of my 30s and reaching this 40th milestone because my biological clock is a ticking and a tocking and I keep relapsing with my mental health. I really hope I'll get back on track in my 40th year..
It’s been the total opposite to the last year of my 20s where I had enormous fun doing 30 things to do before I’m 30. A third of the year has been a disaster - hospital, car engine blowing up, anxiety and panic attacks and the latest, a slipped disc, which has rendered me pretty much housebound for over a month now and meant cancelling my next adventure with mum to Croatia..
So it’s been hard to see the good bits when I keep having setbacks, but I can see them - our incredible holiday to India and Nepal where we met family we’ve never seen before and found mum’s childhood home still standing in Calcutta, the many concerts and shows I’ve been waiting over two years to attend thanks to Covid19, catch ups with family and friends, a brand new car, and, despite being locked in a terrible bout of anxiety, managing to update my CV, interview and be offered two new jobs at once, one of which I've now started and it's incredible how much more time I have in my life to enjoy things.
I had to mark the occasion in some way because that's just who I am - so, in true King Gary style, we went crazy golfing at Cabot Circus in Bristol which was a lot of fun with my family.
A Different Stage by Gary Barlow
Dear Fatty by Dawn French
New job working from home
It all happened faster than I was expecting with switching jobs, then I had the being stuck at home thanks to the slipped disc, but finally here I am second day into my new job with Travel Editions. It's going to take some getting used to working from home, having weekends again and my working day generally being about 4-5 hours shorter. Also, no customers! In my travel career I've worked in Product, Contracting, Sales and now I'm Operations Assistant Manager. I'm really excited for new challenges and getting to learn about the product range on offer and how it operates behind the scenes.
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.