Sunday, 29 January 2017

My late Dad

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So I lost my Dad in 2009 when I was 23 years old after 4 years of bravely battling cancer, multiple myeloma which caused kidney failure. He was diagnosed in 2005, I remember being picked up by Mum and my brother was in the front and neither said anything. I asked them if everything was ok and my mum replying "no it f**king isn't OK, your father has got cancer." I just remember tears streaming down my face and being silent for the rest of the journey, just in total shock. I remember we got a phone call when we got back home and my dad was crying, his voice cracked as he said goodbye to us. He had been told that he needed to go to the hospital to start the treatment straight away. I still remember his face now and how frightened he looked as walked out of the door not knowing if he would ever see us again. It still makes me cry even today 12 years after he was diagnosed and 8 years after he passed away. It was a tough time and not knowing from one day to the next day if that would be the last day with him. He had his chemotherapy and he then started peritoneal dialysis because his kidneys had failed due to the cancer. I remember sitting with Dadz and him looking so thin and so frail, it broke my heart to see him like that. 

To me he was always the strong one and the practical joker who was always laughing and playing jokes on us, well mostly me I think (I fell for most of them if not all of them!) It was hard to see him change in front of me and there was nothing we could do but be there for him. I used to sit with him while he did his dialysis in the spare room and we would chat about our days and just stuff, I'm grateful for those times we shared together. I can still picture us sat there with his dialysis bag hanging from the skylight. Little did I know, that seeing him go through this would give me my inner strength to go through it too with my kidneys failing. My family tried to stay strong and keep going for his sake but behind closed doors and away from others I cried and cried and cried till I cried my self to sleep. 

In 2007 I did a trek for my Dad who had help from Macmillian to raise money to help families and patients like my Dad to get the support they needed. I was happy to do my bit to help Dadz and other families like ours going through it too. In 2006 we nearly lost him, he was in intensive care and we nearly lost him and I remember going into intensive care and just being so scared that that would be the last time I would see him. We got told to prepare ourselves for the worst. I was devastated and beside myself, I wasn't ready to say goodbye. Luckily he pulled through and we were able to have a few more years with him. He was in and out of hospital, then in 2008 he was taken back into hospital. I had to go and pick my brother up from school and take him to the hospital to see Dadz. We were once again scared that this was close to the end but again we had some more time with Dadz. 

In 2009 my parents took my brother to look round uni in the Lake District and further north. It was there that my dad passed away. I got a phone call from my mum that my dad had been taken ill and was going to hospital, so my auntie drove me up to the Lake District and I just talked the whole way about rubbish because I was trying to distract myself about what I might be met with. I got the call from my mum and by the time I got to the Lake District he had passed away. I was just devastated, but I was glad to have said everything that I had wanted to a few days before to my Dad and he had given me his blessing to marry my hubby (ready for when he proposed to me.)

I have so many lovely memories of my Dad and all the adventures we have been on together. I remember his great sense of humour and his mischievous side, that often resulted in practical jokes. He was great at surprises, sometimes he would just pull the car over on the way to somewhere and open up the boot of the car and he would produce the most amazing picnics or he would take us on these crazy adventures out of the blue. I loved his way of making things exciting even if it was an ordinary thing.

I remember driving along a Spanish road onto these windy roads and he was singing a song so loudly we were all falling about laughing or shouting "Banditos" whenever we saw a sign. He would also play very funny practical jokes on us, mostly on me. He pointed to the top of the garden and said that there was a hedgehog up there, so he said let's go and have a look. So I crept up to the top of the garden and as I got closer I realised it was a bloody melon (not the yellow ones but the other little brownish ones.) I still can't believe I fell for it. 

Another practical joke he did was on my birthday and I thought I was getting an art easel but when I opened the box it was kindling wood. He had taken the easel out and said it was a do it yourself kit lol!! 

His best one is the picture at the top, it was Christmas and I thought I was getting my first mobile phone. I got given my main present and it was a tube and I thought oh god what have I got...? So I opened it and there was a slipper at one end so I pulled it out and something went flying, I realised it was my phone. and in the other end was the battery. It was the best practical joke he pulled on me and the picture is us having a little moment together where we were having a little chuckle. 

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My parents had surprised us that instead of going to Spain we were actually going to Florida and Mexico. When we were at Disneyland and we were going on a ride, he had told some American tourists that he knew the Queen or Lizzy as he called her (and they believed him - it was very amusing) then shortly after this he announced rather loudly while we were in the line that he shouldn't have eaten that burger and chips because he felt quite sick. You could see people backing away from us - it was the most hilarious thing he has ever done and I was in stitches. It shows his real jokey side and his great sense of humour which I miss. 

I miss sitting down with him and chatting to him about my day. But I have so many fond memories which I treasure so much. I love looking back at our family pictures and remember little family stories. He was a great Dad and I miss him terribly but I use his zest for life and his bravery going through his illness which gave me my strength.  

Us playing in the garden.

Me when I was 8 years old with my Dad. Then all of us in the garden.

          My Dad when he was younger.
He used to have a motorbike and this is him on it. 

In Loving Memory Of My Dad.

Toodles XX

Friday, 20 January 2017

My favourite YouTubers


So I'm not sure when I got into YouTube or when I started to watch videos. Anyway I think I must have been looking up some craft videos and found Zoella. I immediately thought wow this girl is so similar to me in what she likes and her personality. She's very into fashion and beauty which I have got back into again, after having my kidney transplant. I think if she does a project she goes full hog which is kinda what I do, my mum says "you don't do things by half"or "Katrina less is more!" I suppose that's because I do go a bit overboard. I just get excited about things I am doing, like Zoella! She's also obsessed with Christmas and will listen to Christmas music throughout the year, I do that too!! She also will regularly watch Harry Potter, yeh I do that too!! She also loves interior design and I do too, both slightly obsessed with it really! She lives on the coast and so do I, she loves photography and so do I! We seemed to have quite a few similar interests so I think that's why I like watching her videos. She can sing....I however cannot unfortunately!! I think if I had her budget I would probably have very similar houses too!! I like her fashion sense because she always looks really well put together and a little bit quirky which is definitely a good thing. A kindred spirit!

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Alfie Deyes

I like Alfie Deyes because he Vlogs a lot of their lives and he does interesting activities. He also has a lot of knowledge on cameras and gadgets. Which I find interesting and quite useful. I also find his DIY videos very funny.

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Poppy and Sean

Poppy is Alfie's sister and although she doesn't have a YouTube Channel she appears on Alfie's, Sean's and Zoella's channels regularly. I do follow Poppy's blog and I really enjoy reading it. I enjoy watching vlogs and reading her blog and looking at her photos, it inspires me to do more with my blog and create great content. I enjoy watching Poppy, Sean, Zoella in Alfie's vlogs when they are all together. I find their trips away and outings together great to watch.

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Tanya Burr

I like Tanya Burr's style and her beauty tips. I feel that she has more of a realistic style that I could create. I also like that she's a wife so I feel that I can relate to her as a married woman. She's very funny as well with some of the things she comes out with.

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I love watching the Saccone-Jolys because they are a family going about their lives. My dream is to have a family of my own fairly soon and I love that Anna and Jonathan bring up their children with such love and care. I think it's interesting to pick up on little tips and tricks for family life. I enjoy hearing about their family life and what they get up to and the different places they go as a family. I think because I have wanted to be a mum (forever) but have actually become ready to be a mum since we got married, it has given a little ray of hope that this is what my life could be like soon. I loved watching them while I was on dialysis to keep my spirits up. I also think Anna dresses Eduardo and Emilia how I would dress my children. I'm so excited to also go to Sorrento at some point soon and I was inspired by the Saccone-Jolys.

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Phil and Alex

I recently found these lovely people on YouTube and they were going through adopting children and because of my health problems, I may only be able to carry one child because of my kidney transplant so I am interested in the journey they took. I would consider adopting a child as well. They are a lovely family and I think I will follow their journey as it progresses.

(These are screenshots from their Instagram as I couldn't find any other pics on Pinterest.)
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My full list of YouTuber People (A-Z).

  1. Amelia Liana-More luxury travel and products.
  2. Anna Saccone-Family Vlogging
  3. Conor Maynard-Great musician
  4. Dave Erasmus-Echo Friendly living, interesting concept.
  5. Fun for Louis- I love Louis travel Vlogs and they inspire me to travel more.
  6. It's a Buzz World-Family with multiples.
  7. Jamie Oliver-Love his recipes.
  8. Jim Chapman-Vlogs what he and Tanya Burr get up to.
  9. Jonathan Joly-Family vlogging
  10. Kristen Sarah-Travel vlogger
  11. Mark Ferris-Collabs with Zoella are good.
  12. Matt Tebbutt-Chef and food program presenter.
  13. More Zoella-Zoella's second vlogging channel with all her fun adventures.
  14. Niomi Smart-Healthy eating and exercise.
  15. Phil and Alex-Adopting, family vlogging.
  16. Pointless Blog-Funny challenges
  17. Pointless Blog Vlogs-Second channel vlogging adventures.
  18. Raya was here-Travel vlogger
  19. Saccone-Jolys-Family vlogging
  20. Shaytards-Family vlogging, American
  21. Slyfox Family-family vlogging, American
  22. Sprinkle of Chatter-Collabs with Zoella, topic videos
  23. Sprinkle of Glitter-Family vlogging,
  24. Tanya Burr-Beauty vlogger
  25. Tom Daley-Olympian 
  26. Yoga with Adriene- Yoga vlogger 
  27. Zoella-Vlogging topic videos.

I follow a real mix of different types of vloggers and I have been inspired by all of them. I think I will continue to follow their journeys.


Monday, 16 January 2017

Trekking in Cambodia

In 2007 I decided to do a sponsored trek for Macmillan, because they had helped our family after my dad was diagnosed. I had seen an advert for a trek in Cambodia (at the time I didn't even know where it was!!) 

It sounded so exotic and far flung, I had never been anywhere like it and I thought it was a cool place to go. I had to raise £3000 plus travel expenses, buy trekking boots, a backpack and all my trekking clothes. I was also meant to train for the trek but I didn't have a huge amount of time although I had been cycling 9 miles a day for my previous job, so I was fairly fit at that time. 


Day 1 

We flew to Siem Reap on Malaysian Airways and we stopped over in Kuala Lumpur for a few hours. It was nice to stretch our legs and move about. It was a long flight, the longest I had been on. We met everyone at the airport and then we hung out with a few people and started getting to know them. There were loads of people from all walks of life which made it interesting to hear their stories and why they decided to do the trek. 

Day 2

We landed in Siem Reap and then all got in our minibuses that were waiting. We got in one with hats so we all put them on, only after would we realise they were all covered in bugs - gross and not the last encounter with bugs in Cambodia....errrrrrrr!!! We then arrived at our hotel where we stayed at the beginning of the trek and at the end. We then went down for a meeting about what we were going to do and what to expect. I was nervous but excited. We then got into tuk-tuks (a kind of bike with extra seats) to go into Siem Reap. The local market was amazing and I think when I go back I would take a whole suitcase just for souvenirs.

It was certainly a bit of an adventure in the tuk-tuks, we thought at one point we were being taken to the wrong place on the way back and started panicking. I have to say as well, the tuk-tuk drivers don't slow down when going round corners, I nearly slid out of the side of it on one occasion. 

Day 3 

So we were up early and ready to start trekking, we were taken to our starting point. We trekked through miles of rice-paddies and tiny villages with huts dotted along our route. As we walked through the small village, the locals waved and came out to see us as we walked through. We walked north for about 6 hours to the Pagoda, where we were going to stay that night. We also saw monks who were in bright orange robes which were so vibrant against the green grass of the rice-paddies. We had to be careful about taking their picture and asking permission first and we were told that they were not meant to look at women directly. We then set up camp which was interesting and quite an experience, putting up our tents. We then had our dinner cooked for us and we sat and ate it on the little sofa cushions we had set up. 
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Day 4

We were woken up pretty early, I think it was about 5.00am, we were woken by the bells and the monks chanting as well as a cockerel crowing rather loudly. The reality of going back to basics and going off the grid for a while wasn't actually as fun or as picture perfect as I thought.We walked through different landscapes and we walked for about 9 hours to Wat Preash Bat Bun Tham. We saw many temples and pagodas and a few animals.

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Day 5

So we trekked from the Wat Preash Bat Bun Tham towards Kulen Mountain, we trekked across the rice paddies. We could see the Phnom Kulem in the distance and we trekked to Beoung Maealeo where we saw ruins and temples, we explored the ruins (which I believe were used in Tomb Raider). I think this was the temple where I saw the bullet holes with the sun streaming through. It was so atmospheric and it made me tear up. We got to our campsite at Svoy Leu Pagoda, we trekked for about 8 hours. I think it might have been on this day where we stayed near a little bar in the middle of nowhere but we heard them playing 'Who Let the Dogs Out' but I actually think they were singing 'who let the frogs out' - very random! I think some of us went to have a dance but I was tired so I went to bed earlier that night.
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Day 6 

We finally reached the Kulen Mountain and we trekked to the top which was 487km. We had amazing views across the forest and fields, dotted with temples in the distance once we got to the top. We had lunch at Anlong Thom where we looked at another temple. We saw the Big Buddha at the top of the mountain (which was Cambodia's sacred mountain). We then trekked to our campsite next to the most beautiful waterfall, we swam in the River of 1000 Lingas (we changed it to 1000 mingers because we were all pretty much covered in mud). I think this was the day I had a blister and had to sit on the ox cart, our guide told me that the locals were worried about my legs because they thought that they were covered in blood but it was just red mud. We all had a good giggle once they realised I was ok!! It was probably the best bit of the day, swimming in the waterfall (although I was a bit worried about leeches but luckily there weren't any!) We had trekked for about 8 hours so we enjoyed the opportunity to enjoy some relaxing/downtime. 

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Day 7

We trekked back down the mountain through a jungly trail, I think this was when I tried to go to the toilet just off the path but unaware that I had stepped in a nest of fire ants and then just as I had built up courage to go for a wee there was a noise just to the side of my head, as I turned I saw this green snake. Needless to say I think I flashed the other trekkers that were waiting for me because I bolted out of there while trying to pull up my shorts. Not really helping with my fear of snakes!! We trekked through more villages and we stopped at a few schools. Most of us gave most of our clothes away to the children, so there are probably a lot of children wandering around with Macmillan t-shirts on. It was interesting that a lot of the classes were open air. I think this was the day we had a lunch from the La Residence D'Ankor which was a very special packed lunch (wish I could have kept the box but I wasn't allowed!) We trekked for about 7 hours before we reached our campsite. I think this was the night there was a massive thunder and lightning storm, so we stayed up and watched it for a few hours before we went to bed and the storm rolled off into the distance. 

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Day 8

The final day of trekking, we headed for Ankor Wat which was our finish line. I felt excited and nervous as well as sad because we knew that the trek was nearly over. I think I could have continued to trek for many more weeks. Ankor Wat was so amazing and as we got closer we saw some amazing views of it. I got so close to the finish line I had a mini celebration and I was so happy. I couldn't believe that I had actually completed the trek. It made me realise I was capable of doing anything I set out to achieve. I think this was the best thing I took away from my trek. I finally reached the finish line and we celebrated with everyone. We were all very happy that we completed our trek. I hugged everyone I think. The middle pic at the top is the girls who I trekked with and who I made friends with while I was there. We had our lunch at Ankor Wat and we had the prettiest meal. Cambodian food was so delicious and I can't wait to go back and try more and explore more places too. The last pics were taken by Macmillan and I really love these pics.

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So after all the hard work, we then went back to our hotel and got as dressed up as we could with no makeup and limited pretty/dressy clothes (I bought a traditional Cambodian top to wear.) We then headed out to have a meal and talk about the treks and experiences we had as a group. We laughed, cried and cheered when people made their speeches. We had a lovely evening and a delicious meal for our last night in Cambodia. We could have stayed longer but that was all the time off I could get as I had just joined the police.

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Cambodia was an amazing place to visit and I can't wait to go back!