Book Review – Wild By Nature by Sarah Marquis

Hi Bloggers, another book review for you. This one is by an amazing and inspiring woman who walked from Siberia to Australia over 3 years. Sounds crazy right? Yeah, I agree, but this lady gets FULL credit for having the er, balls?? um, no guts and determination and endurance and vision and all of that.

A lot of the book seems to be centred on her time in Mongolia. It does of course explore the other geographies but I think Mongolia was a significant part of the story.  Lots of open spaces, deserts with blistering heat, and frigid sub freezing temperatures. Lots of cultural learnings along the way. She has a few run ins with nomads and misfits too, but thankfully a mix of courage, bravado and maybe luck sees our girl get the trip done without major incident. Image result for wild by nature book

I really give her kudos for being brave enough to step out into the big wide world. She exposed herself to the potential of disease, thirst, getting lost, robbed, assaulted, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been being out there in a tent surrounded by wilderness, or perhaps worse people who come by in the night with who knows what intentions?

A bit of an eye-opener was that some people were not necessarily welcoming or kind. That of course was balanced with people who took her in, looked out for her and gave her shelter, food and water. I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than providing her assistance if I came across such a brave and intrepid adventurer.

Great read, great story, I give this book 4.5 yaks out of 5.

 

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Book Review – It’s On The Meter – Paul Archer and Johno Ellison

Hi Bloggers, I’ve been busy consuming books lately. I tend to read more than I find time to blog about. This book is a great read. Three English lads get a crazy idea – to drive a London taxi from London to Australia, and actually get it done, then extend their trip with a little jaunt across America.

I give the boys full credit for bravery, imagination and well, stupid naivety, but it all comes together in a fun and easily readable way. One author will describe a passage, or part of a story from his perspective, then the other author gives an alternate point of view.

They take you right through from the start where they procure an old taxi (on Ebay I think!) before doing a bunch of fixes and modifications, before setting off. They ‘do’ Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, China, South East Asia, and on to my old home country, Australia.

I for one, can really appreciate the adventurous spirit and guts it took to get this thing off the ground and get it done. What a journey!

The stories are told with that quintessential Brit humour. There’s plenty of upsets and bumps and bruises along the way, too. These were young guys of about 20, who have no issue letting you know that they didn’t have a fucking clue what they were getting into – and there in lies the charm.

I’m so impressed, I give this book 5 out of 5 London taxis. The book practically read itself!

If you are interested, here’s the web link. http://itsonthemeter.com/

 

Hello New Brunswick – a photo essay…

Hi Bloggers, I’m writing this post from Fredricton, New Brunswick, which is on the Eastern side (Atlantic) Canada. The only provinces further east are Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, which is an island at sea.

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Fixer upper. This house is very close to the border of the United Grapes. Going for a song. 

New Brunswick should conjure images of moose, lumberjacks, fishermen and hunters. For our American friends, its like Maine, but in Canada. It’s actually bordering on Maine. There is a smallish river (more of a brook, really) between the two great nations. The border post I saw today was a smallish affair. It seemed like a formality, and hardly a well guarded border at that. I could have walked across a train crossing only a few hundred metres from the border post, and probably not got shot at, but I erred on the side of caution.

 

 

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Proof – I was in NB!

 

Last thing I need is to get on the naughty list of Donny Trump. Especially after the last little mix up with the ESTA visa waiver system, in which I accidentally clicked one of the radio buttons where you have to answer whether you’ve ever done anything bad, or maybe said something silly about the administration. I got locked out of the visa system, and when I tried to cross the border later that day, I was told to ‘park up’ while I got a stern talking to. Thankfully, they realised my error, done in haste, and I was allowed to enter the great land of the free once again. But that was on a previous trip.

 

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Found a spooky abandoned church. 

 

I digress, this post is about the Maritimes, damn it! I only have a couple of words to describe this place: Obscenely beautiful! and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

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Check the photos out. Of course, you can’t really capture the true beauty on camera, but it still turned out pretty good!

 

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Inside the spooky abandoned church. 

 

 

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Coming in a clear first in the spookiest house competition……

 

 

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I found out the house is used as student accommodation. This was in the town of St Stephen. 

 

 

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I know, I know, just gorgeous. 

 

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Pointed right at you, Maine… USA. 

 

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Canada’s modern artillery battery will keep those pesky ‘merican’s at bay. They have never been fired in anger, though. 

 

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The HMCS Still Haulin’ pulled into port when I was there. It was greeted by well wishers and neglected girlfriends. 

 

 

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All Done – that would be my boat! 

 

 

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Genuine NB rope and tie thingy, this is not a prop. 

 

 

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Sailors unload the precious bounty amid cries of ‘arrrgghhh and arrgghhh’ (said like pirates). The east coast accents are very apparent. and it just works with all the fishermen types. 

 

 

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Genuine. Canadian. Lobster. Y’all. 

 

 

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I know, I know. 

 

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From the departure lounge…

Hi Bloggers,

It’s Sunday morning. I’m at Saskatoon airport waiting for a flight to Toronto. The incoming flight is delayed.

I just turned to look at the jet bridge. There is a barn owl on the top of the structure. It is perched on a beacon. It is so still it looks like it could be a decoy or a small statue, but I think it’s real. I look across to the other jet bridges just to see if maybe XYE have initiated some sort of owl-statue bird deterrent thing, but I see no others….

Is that like some sort of um, what’s the word – the thing with hidden meaning, like an albatross seen at sea. (It will come to me momentarily *** it came to me – omen, that’s the word!). I wonder if pilots have a superstition about owls and things.

So I said goodbye to Jack Black, our black lab. He’s such a sweet dog. We got him about 2 years ago. He’s more the ex’s dog that he is mine. I’ve inherited Sally D, our chocolate lab. She’s a lot higher energy and more inclined to steal food from benchtops etc. Jack is going on his own flight Tuesday, and I will not see him on my return. Safe travels you gorgeous handsome dog. He’s leaving Canada for Australia. IMG_6865

I don’t know if I will be able to keep Sally D. She’s a real sweetheart and I don’t want to let her go. The reality is that I don’t know where I will be living in one month, or six months or whatever from now. Finding accommodation that will suit my budget, location to work and pet friendly is very challenging.

 

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Bye Jack, you adorable little man-dog. 

 

Meanwhile, I’m going to somewhere that I have never been – eastern Canada – the Atlantic provinces. That’s exciting, right? It’s a quick trip but still, there is a lot of value in seeing new places…..

 

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Sally on left, Jack Black on the right. 

 

Last night’s workout.. and some inspiration for those who may be struggling a bit!

Hi Bloggers,

I want to reach out to those people who have maybe let themselves go a bit. Maybe your diet is not what it should be, maybe you have a few extra kilos that you are carrying that are not serving you well. I want to encourage you to start your journey towards wellness today. If this inspires one person, then I think that’s awesome.

I’m 43 in February. I see a lot of people in this age bracket start to ‘fall apart’. If you are working long hours, eating too much fast food and not prioritising exercise and diet, you may be one of these people. This is only going to lead to health problems and a general decline in your physical well being.

IMG_6831 (2)The good news is that the changes are really simple. There is no magic wand or silver bullet solutions. It’s just down to eating the right food, and getting yourself to the gym, or whatever sport it might be that keeps you active and strong. I thing weights is a great option for all people, men and women to keep their bodies in good physical shape.

Here’s what I would suggest: if you are smoking, stub that ciggie out now! Get some help to quit if you need it. Stock your fridge or freezer with fresh and frozen vegetables. Cook at home – make your meals from mostly whole, unprocessed foods (I’m not kidding anyone here, I like a treat or snack and often its junk, but the majority of my diet is good healthy food). Start exercising if you are not doing it now. Plan to do 3 to 4 decent work outs in a week.

If you are interested in learning more, or want my workouts I will send them to you. I am not selling anything! I am just enthusiastic about health and wellness. 

So last night’s work out for me:IMG_6835

Wide grip chin ups (back, lats)

Ezy bar curls (biceps)

Lunges (glutes and thighs)

Power clean-to squat-to overhead press (all over body)

Cable cross over pulls (chest)

Wide grip cable pull downs (Back, lats)

 

 

 

 

 

F it, it’s Friday!

One of those rare occasions that I don’t have much to say – so we’ll see where this goes I guess. It’s only a few short days until the T bird takes off and leaves this continent (this planet, this universe?) forever. How am I feeling? Kind of relieved, a bit melancholy I suppose. Without doubt, the biggest kicker is my kids leaving. They don’t seem concerned at all.

In fact, they are quite dismissive to me, when I try to engage them. My son, he’s ok. We talk sometimes. I still get a good sense of animosity from him; but its fleeting. He can be downright dismissive, but in a later moment we can be talking together – which normally consists of him shooting rapid fire questions about all sorts of random shit: ‘does your intestines know what sort of food you like to eat? Did you know that the Ebola virus is a new epidemic? Sometimes I cant feel my fingers, is this normal? etc. ok questions are hypothetical and generic but you get the gist… 

Disclaimer: As challenging and stressful as all of this has been, I would not change anything. I’m not complaining, just sharing. It was a journey that I really needed to experience.

 

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Somewhere on the border between BC and Alberta. That’s the start of the Rocky Mountains, folks. 

 

Has anyone noticed the tree tattoo trend thing that seems to be going around? I just saw a girl with one on the back of her neck, and a guy at work got one on his forearm. I don’t know if its a Saskatchewan thing or a bit broader than that.

I got a new book from the library – actually I got a bunch of new books from the library. The one I’m about to inhale is called ‘How to be a great boss.’ I figure reading that can’t hurt, based on some of the feedback I’ve got over the past months.

So how do I feel? Actually pretty good. I’m ready to move forward. I just don’t know what I am moving forward into, and guess what? I don’t mind that at all.

So, what have I learned? It might be a good moment for some reflection and sharing. So, here goes, here’s my recommended list of take away’s:

  1. Be yourself. For fuck’s sake, be yourself. If you are gay, straight, a total prude or wild thang, religious zealot or worshipper of the devil, just do what you need to do. Allow others to accept you or not.
  2. Respect others.
  3. While being yourself, don’t be completely blind to the effect you have on others. Be considerate! This is the fine balance that I have eluded to before. How do you strike that balance? IDK. But you have to find the balance. The net results of not getting the balance right leads to divorce, loss of job, alienation, and a whole bunch of shit that can make life difficult. The challenge here, in my humble opinion is to come to terms with yourself, exercise discretion where prudent and be ready for some tough conversations where you are not prepared to yield. 
  4. Exercise discretion in the workplace. Realise that even though you may feel like an open book with ‘nothing to hide,’ realise that your shit is freaking people out. There is a fairly narrow band of what is acceptable to people in society. This band narrows considerably in the workplace. It also narrows with your position. Especially if you are a leader. There is an unwritten code for expected behaviour. Know that in the workplace, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Keep it professional. Develop networks outside work to air your laundry and find a shoulder to cry on (or arse to grab if that is your thing – disclaimer, I do NOT grab arse in the workplace, period).
  5. Take chances, and don’t let fear rule your decisions. This too, needs a balanced approach. Reckless choices lead to bad outcomes. Don’t be completely stupid. Have fun and keep your wits about you. Some of my best experiences have been had while taking a chance and getting out of my comfort zone.
  6. Travel as much as you can. There is no teacher like travel. I’ve moved a bunch and the way I’ve seen it is something like ‘there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet.’
  7. Yoga, and meditation. Just meditation if yoga is not your thing. I can’t emphasise enough the benefits of meditation.
  8. Exercise. This is not a recent development for me, but I can’t make a list without exercise in it ;).
  9. Eat well. healthy food. Lots of vegies. Contributes to overall wellness.
  10. Get a good amount of sleep.

 

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I took this picture of a buck outside someone’s house. Kinda random but cool eh?

 

 

 

Musings from my local Sharkbucks Café

Hi Bloggers,

It was the weekend. I had gotten done with my morning workout, or was it yoga? I don’t remember it was a few days ago. It must have been weights because I went up to the yoga room to meditate. I was feeling very content and composed. It was a very cold day. A kind of ice-fog had settled over the city. It dulled the morning light and you could only see through it for about 100 metres or so.

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During my meditation I had a thought – I wanted to write my kids a card. A sort of going away type card – even though they are going away and I am staying. I love my kids very much. Things have been strained at home, with all the domestic bullshit that their mum and I have been going through.

I told them, in the cards that I wrote out, that I love them. That I will always be their dad, and I am here to pick up the relationship when ever they are ready to do so. I also apologized for any upset or anger I caused them.

IMG_6787I did this, with a very clear and calm place. Actually it was Starbucks on a weekend so it was moderately busy, but within myself I was clear and calm. Content. At peace with myself and the world.

I took these cards home and handed them to my kids. I didn’t expect a red carpet reception. I kind of expected them to disregard me, or throw the cards away. They said they can’t read hand writing (WTF? I really need to have a word to the Canadian school system!) and so, I read it out to them.

Of course, they kind of tossed them aside. I can’t be sure, but I think, maybe, just maybe that had a positive effect on them, because later I spent the afternoon with #1 son at the trampoline park, and my daughter was being moderately-a-bit-less-nasty to me, so I’ll take that as a win!

 

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I use the Darth Vader thing on my son ALL THE TIME! 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Last Night’s Workout and some other updates…. from ‘out of the ditch’…

Hi Bloggers,

Here’s what I did in last night’s workout:

OvIMG_6801 (2)erhead press – 5 reps of 5 with Olympic bar and 45lb plates.

One arm dumbbell rows – 3 sets of 10 with 80 lb dumbbell.

Leg extensions.

Leg curls.

Calf raises.

Machine with standing glute/ham/quad push back. (I call this horsekicks).

So we are just days away from when T bird and my babies fly away to our home country. I will be staying on in Oh-Canada. Houses on the market for sale. Kind of restructuring life and finances and everything really. It’s a great opportunity to let go of any hang ups or baggage that we’ve been carrying.

We (T bird and T bird jr my daughter) even played a game of monopoly the other night. Monopoly is very much like life. There is income, there are bills, there are windfalls, you over spend and then end up owing money. It started to resemble our life just a bit too much! Image result for in the ditch gif

It would be really interesting if they put jobs and relationships in there wouldn’t it? You’d probably have to put any sharp objects away, I am guessing.

So this guy – in the gif here, I can relate to this shit. Going awesome, get the dreaded speed wobbles, then oh-fuck. End up in the ditch. Yes, I’ve been there! My life, of late, could play like a country song. But, wait, I’m not complaining, oh, no!

But you know what? As hard as the journey has been, as depressing at times, and challenging and down right embarrassing and all of the rest of it – it’s really ok. Let me reiterate IT’S REALLY FUCKING OK!!!! HAHAHAHAHHHAAAAA.

 

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I got this, no, I got this, no really I got this!!!

 

 

 

 

Book Review – A to Z of Hell, by Ross Kemp

Hi Bloggers, A-Z of Hell: Ross Kemp’s How Not to Travel the World

I picked up this little gem at the library recently. It’s a great read. Some of you may know Ross Kemp from the English yawn-athon called EastEnders. Apologies to any POM’s out there I may have offended.

Anyway it turns out our Ross has been making doco’s such as ‘Ross Kemp on Gangs’ and ‘Extreme World’. Having covered those assignments meant that he got to travel to some of the shittier parts of the world, and met will all kinds of shady characters.

The book is well written, and features the dry Brit style of humour, which had me chuckling to myself as I was returning home in an airplane from a recent trip. The book covers some very dark material too. Its completely fucked up – what humans will do to each other. So this book is a bit of an eye opener, and may offend the squeamish.

This gif below shows ‘our Ross’ not backing down to some gun wielding characters in friendly ol’ Papau New Guinea.

I give this book 4.5 ‘highland rascals’ out of 5!

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Musings from the Café, and tonight’s work out…

Hi Bloggers,

This morning I did hot yoga. It was good. Calming, vigorous at times. I’ve been to two classes in the past week that really pushed the pace and it makes for a good workout. Fast flows of downward dog, chattaranga, downward dog, plank, step through, warrior 1, etc. 

Tonight I went down to the café. Had to get out of the house. I sat at a large-ish table that had just been vacated by a group of people. All the cups and plates were still out because the staff had not got around to clearing up the table. A group of people came in and started to set up a kind of band ensemble.

A lady came over and said that her friends were coming in for dessert and asked if I would mind sharing the table. I said that would be fine. Soon after however the owner of the café came over and asked me would I kindly move to another table so these people could use the table. Of course I obliged.

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So I went to the library – I got the Men’s Health Gym Bible. I used this guide as inspiration for my workout. Here’s a few new exercises that I put in tonight that are a change from my normal routine:

  • Duck under squats.IMG_6763 (2)
  • Kettlebell goblet squats.
  • Planks with knees to nose.
  • Kettlebell Bulgarian split squat.
  • T push ups.
  • Reverse push up (hanging on straight bar with feet on bench)
  • Push weighted cart.
  • Kettle bell Turkish get ups.

It was a really refreshing ‘fun’ workout. I kept the sets to 2-3 to keep moving through different exercises. I recommend this to anyone who is in a bit of a rut.