Looking up!

I’ve had an unexpectedly good week this week! Work’s been slightly better, the sun has been out, and I’m well on my way to sorting all the documents for my South Korean work visa. ¬£192 is all it took to get them notarized and apostilled. This was a pleasent surprise as I was expecting a fair amount more. I also had the last of my vaccinations today, so I will be Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis free for a whole year now. I’ve never had them before but I’m told that’s a good thing.

Now I’m looking forward to a full week off thanks to our dear old Queen and her Diamond Jubilee. Things just get better and better ūüôā

Just a quick post today to mark the end of my first month blogging. What started as a way to keep my friends and family up to date, has turned into an enjoyable way of chronicling my experiences and showing my photographs. I didn’t expect to enjoy writing so much!

So keep a look out for much more to follow in the coming months. I promise it won’t disappoint!

Iceland! Out of this World!

I’m sitting¬†indoors this morning, the weather having taken a turn for the worse after our 4 whole days of sun. All I can think about is places I’d like to be right now, and one place keeps coming up. Iceland!

For those of you who haven’t been, it is an incredible place, formed and re-formed time and time again over the past 50-60 million years, by a number of incredible geological processes. Iceland is quite literally being torn apart by the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and it’s population draws 100% of its power and heat from renewable energy sources.

Of course the majority of you probably don’t¬†enjoy the thrills of¬†tectonics, glaciers and sustainable energy like me; so I’ll let some pictures show you what my favourite place in the world has to offer!

Landmannalaugar, warm springs

Kv√≠√°rj√∂kull, the focus of my fieldwork study on processes involved in causing debris flows on terminal moraines (isn’t it pretty)

A mushroom within the Kvíárjökull moraines

Route 1. Iceland’s¬†ringroad and the only permanent access to most of the country

J√∂kuls√°rl√≥n, literally translated ‘Glacier Lagoon’. It’s cold! Trust me!

I hope you like what you’ve seen. It really is an incredible place for so many reasons, and I can honestly say these images don’t do it justice. I strongly urge all of you to go out and do it for yourselves!

Do run, run, run

Those of you that know me well, know I like to be active. You’ll also know that I haven’t exactly had the ability to do this in recent months. I’ve posted about my fractured collar-bone in January, which was followed by (and still is) months of physiotherapy. The surgery itself left me pretty susceptible to illness. I don’t do things by halves, so I went and caught a nice bout of Glandular Fever.

Now I’m not looking for sympathy, just pointing out my reasons for the lack of physical activity!

So yesterday, whilst sitting in work, I felt it was time to jump back into my running shoes and go for a jaunt later when I finished my shift. Of course this lead to me writing up a full 7 week training plan (a shift well spent).

The run went well! I completed 5k without stopping, and after¬†more than 5 months¬†with no training I’m fairly pleased with that. It was way off previous times, but I wasn’t expecting a Personal Best. Even today I’ve felt the benefits, having had the best nights sleep of the past month. Admittedly because I knackered myself out just before bed, but what’s better than crawling into bed knowing you’re about to have a nice 8 hour coma.

Anyway, I’ve just filled in an application for the St. Dominick’s Dash. One of the few races that seem to be¬†available near Plymouth. So on Sunday¬†the 23rd June at 6pm, if you happen to be in St. Dominick, you may see me, a smile on my face, finally racing again with good friends!

Quick mention for the people who will be running with me: Terry Fitzgerald and Paul Fisher from work (lowering the tone of office chat!), and Dane Smith-Burchnell who’s chosen to wait until I’m well off my prime to challenge me (you¬†might just about¬†beat me Dane).

Once in a Lifetime!

So, Saturday 19th May was a big occasion in Plymouth. The rest of the UK was at home, or in bars, watching the UEFA Champions League final. The population of Plymouth however, was out in droves, crowding the streets in anticipation. That was the day the Olympic Torch came through town!

There I was with them. Eagerly awaiting this “once in a lifetime” opportunity, with my camera at the ready. Come 8.30pm and everyone waits with bated breath. No sign of the torch yet, just hordes of people and a plethora of police (GCSE English put to good use).

Searching for a better spot

As time went on the police struggled against the masses to keep the road clear, when all they needed was a pair of lorries plastered with advertising.

After being blinded by a 6x9ft LED Samsung billboard on a lorry, things seemed to be getting started. The buzz of the helicopter hovering 100metres above was complimented by the buzz of the crowd standing below. The Metropilton Police rode slowly by, lights flaring, clearly clearing a path for what was next.

The time was near! The torch was close, closer, in the frame! NOOOOO!

At this point in time I would like to say a big sarcastic “Thank you!” to the woman who stepped into my shot with her meager point-and-shoot. I saw the photo you took, and it was blurry and poorly composed… I hope you’re happy!

So here it is Ladies and Gents, my “once in a lifetime” shot, of the back of the torch bearer.

The Olympic Torch in Plymouth

Oh, and nice one Chelsea!

3rd Times a Charm

I consider myself to be an expert on one particular type of injury, after all I have had the pleasure of breaking my collarbone a total of 3 times! At the age of only¬†23, my chances look grim! So as it appears too late for me¬†I feel it is my duty to inform the masses how to avoid this tragedy, or indeed¬†bounce back if it’s too late.

Fracture 1

Way back, all of 6 years ago (most of you being older than me I’m sure this seems only yesterday) I was quite the adrenaline junkie. I was one of those teenage skateboarders everyone hopes will fall and damage themselves as they pass. You’ve all thought it I’m sure. I had also recently purchased a new mountain bike¬†, and spent my days charging around, flinging myself off drops jumps or anything that would shoot me into the air. Oh what a feeling it was!

It was through this that I made friends with similar interests, one in particular with a large piece of land and far too much free time on his hands. “It’s finished!” he smiled one¬†spring morning, “What’s finished?” I reply. “The Northshore drop, it’s done!”

For those of you not in the know (i.e. for all you sensible people) Northshore refers to a discipline of mountain biking that originated in Vancouver’s north shore. It involves hurtling through the woods on high up skinny wooden constructions. Imagine Go Ape on bikes!

Northshore done properly

Now of course my friends drop didn’t look nearly this good, we didn’t have the ingenuity. It was however, high! A single 14ft drop into a sloped landing. That’s nothing surely you might say, but try standing on the window sill of the first floor in your house. Feel like jumping? (I am not responsible for any injuries caused by this).

So I push my friends full suspension bike up the run in. Pull a full face helmet over my head. Mount the bike. Psyching myself up. I push hard on the pedals and¬†fly¬†down run in, making my way up to what I think is¬†the ‘right’ speed…

It isn’t!

As I lie there, crumpled on the floor and in absolute shock, my friends crowd round and look at me in shock as I cry out… “Dude is your bike OK?!”¬†My state of shock has left me completely unaware of my own ills. All I can do when he replies with a yes is laugh until my lungs hurt, delirious from the 20ft drop part way down the landing,¬†onto my head and left shoulder. Still unaware of the hairline fracture in my left clavicle.So I went home, clutching my arm, thinking I’ve suffered only¬†some bruising.

I’ll never forget the look on¬†my parents’ faces when¬†they returned from holiday 2 days later, seeing me in a homemade sling. The standard “You plonker!” I’ve come to expect from my dad, and the look of worry in my mum’s eyes. If I remember correctly, within 5 minutes I was being rushed to A&E!

The lesson learned from fracture number 1: bikes don’t fly, and neither do I!

Fracture 2

Fracture 2 has a far less extreme and exciting story. Having been told by the doctor that my shoulder would have healed in 6 weeks time, I was eager to get active again. I had been out of the sling for a couple of weeks, and had even driving my car a few times. This brings me to an occurrence I am actually rather ashamed of!

On a field in my home town, messing about one evening with friends, I attempted… a forward roll!

CRACK!

The sound echoed around the field,¬† and my friends winced. I stood immediately! White faced, clutching my arm “I’m going home!” I barely managed to whisper. This wasn’t like last time, and I was most certainly not on an adrenaline high. I was in pain, and a whole lot of it!

I walked quickly as I could in the general direction of my house, only to be thwarted by a fence blocking my way. There was no way I could vault over it like I had on the way in. Embarrassingly, I made my way back to my friends to get help, and after receiving this, immediately called my mum (who else do you ring in that situation). “Mum I need to go to A&E.” “What for? What’s happened?” “I’ve broken it again.”

In amazing time she was there, and we were on our way to the hospital. Mum’s can really shine through when you most need them, and mine has helped me loads, of course I’m grateful. However, this is not a shining moment…

Nurse: “Right, do you have any of your own¬†painkillers?”

Me: “No I don’t have any.”

Nurse: “No problem, we’ll get you some morphine to ease the pain.”

Mum: “Hold on, I have some paracetamol!”

Lesson learned from fracture number 2:don’t take your mum to A&E!

Fracture 3

This brings us to the most recent injury. Still the same bone, and unsurprisingly, the worst fracture yet.

Those of you who know me well will know how much I can rave about snowboarding. So it comes as no surprise¬†I’m sure, that I was extremely excited for my planned trip to Brides Les Bains in January. So excited in fact I slept for only an hour on the coach ride to the resort. This excitement had me speeding along the first slopes, despite my bindings being set up wrong, and of course the inevitable happened.

Catching my toe edge, I smashed my shoulder into the ground and continued to flip over onto my backside. Digging my heel edge in until stopped,¬†I frantically unzipped my jacket and placed my right hand on my left shoulder. It was broken; and bad this time! For the next 5 minutes I was on a¬†rollercoaster of emotion (a clich√©d metaphor I know)! I started angry at my incompetence,¬†I’m no¬†Travis¬†Rice but I can ride.¬†Next was disappointment, I’d had an hour of snowboarding and the rest of my trip was a write off. Soon enough though I just started laughing, as I’m sure you guys are at my misfortune. After all, I’d managed to break my collarbone 3 times, it was becoming a habit. What else can you do but laugh!

So after a pleasant sled ride to the clinic with mountain rescue, costing only 419 euro’s (thank god for insurance) I was delighted to receive this lovely image:

Something’s not quite right!

Now I’m no doctor, but that doesn’t look healthy! Of course, after seeing this there’s only one thing you can do… Pub!

So the rest of the trip went by in a blur of booze and heavy snow, and I returned to the UK on the coach, drinking still. Say what you will about alcohol, it is most certainly one of the best painkillers I’ve tried. After a few days at my parents’ house¬†I returned to Plymouth, and to work (albeit briefly) until I was told it probably wouldn’t heal, and to fix it I’d need surgery. And that’s how I ended up like this:

Wolverine

Lesson learned from fracture number 3: there are 206 bones in the human body, only 205 to go and I am Wolverine!

So I hope you’ve all learned¬†how to avoid being a complete idiot like me. Don’t jump of rickety homemade structures,¬†17 appears to be too old to perform a forward roll and although body bling¬†is cool, a piercing may be the better choice.¬†If not, I’m sure you’ve at least enjoyed laughing at my misfortune, I have!

Where’s the broke vaccine?

So I got my second Rabies jab this morning. Just¬†one of 3¬†small injections in the upper arm, over the course of a month. I’ve never had an issue with injections, any pain is momentary, and they’re helping us stay free from disease and infection right?

Then BAM! “That’ll be ¬£49.75 please!” These are the words of a 5 foot tall, smiling nurse, who may as well have been towering over me and demanding my dinner money. “It’ll be worth it when you don’t get rabies.” she says.¬†“WHEN” I don’t get rabies…¬†¬†As if it’s already been determined. I’m stood there thinking to myself – “I’d better get bitten by a dog to make this worthwhile. ” – Why else would I want to spend ¬£150 to get stabbed 3 times in the arm. I’m sure there are places in Plymouth I could get that done for free (of course a rabies vaccine is a lot more desirable than severe blood loss).

So, by the time I leave for South Korea I will have spent¬†over ¬£400 on vaccinations alone,¬†even with a ¬£20 saving from the lovely people of the NHS.¬†So I guess this is the perfect time to end this post,¬†as¬†it’s time to¬†leave for¬†work and earn it all back!

Welcome!

So it seems that this blog is well and truly up and running, albeit not yet completed. But I figured I’d better give my entire 2 person following something to whet the appetite. So hello to you Carl Parmenter and jri048 (don’t you just love the personal touch)! and to all the Americans who’ve viewed these pages, why not join Carl and jri048, I’ll be posting photo’s, stories, adventures and even the odd tip for living and working abroad.

I’ll leave this first post short and sweet, but will post again soon, hopefully with more lovely people like the 2 of you to blog to!

Now I’m off to get my mum following to increase my numbers!

P.s. I have proof you are the devil Carl!

Carl Parmenter, risen from hell!