Monday, September 26, 2011

Reflections on Europe

I have returned from Europe. I must say, the whole trip went pretty tickety-boo.

No hiccups or experiences and miraculously, no fights with my in-laws!

For those who get along with their in-laws most of the time, I envy you.

So, Geneva was pretty cool. Sadly, since CERN was actively doing experiments, we could not go in and see the LHC. But that was okay. We went to the interactive center, and Mut, my brother-in-law, explained some of the things he does at CERN...which is smash particles together and see what comes out. I'm sure that is way simplified.

Also, did you hear that CERN found neutrinos that travelled faster than the speed of light?

Oh Yeah.

We also visited a huge old Cathedral; they'd excavated the old cathedral underneath, dating back to the 8th century. They have a whole interactive walk underneath. Sadly I was a bit sick that day and we have to call it short, but it was pretty tops.

Next we jetting to Nottingham to visit my second brother-in-law, Butter. Butter is going to university there to become a doctor, and hopefully he'll graduate next year. We rested the first day, shopped the second (where I got an adorable dress) and then visited the Galleries of Justice - an old jail and dungeon dating back to the Victorian period. I would not wanted to be a criminal back then, it was terrible and inhumane. But oh-so informative to see how crime, punishment and justice has evolved.

After Notts we headed to Russ' hometown to visit his folks for a day before we headed to Manchester to fly home. I got to do more shopping, and we got to have nice chats with his folks. It was a really good time.

Flying home was...well. Flying home. We paid for exit-row seats because of my freakishly long legs, but the seats were extra-narrow. Sigh. So instead I got squeezy hip pain. Woo.

I got my Mum's photos, so as promised...Sea Shepherds!

The Steve Irwin on the Thames

Not the best pic but hey! The Steve Irwin was moving fast!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I see London, I see France...

Today Russ and I left Paris and my parents and headed to Geneva, Switzerland to spend some time with Mut, my brother in law. The great thing about Russ being British is that he has family all over Europe, which means we get a free place to sleep at night and guided tours! Score!

I also get to see my extended family. That's why we came...not for the free bed.

Right? Right.

Anyway. France.

Oh France. France is one crazy, cool place.

France welcomed us with a man singing on the Metro at the top of his lungs. I don't speak a lick of French, so I have no idea what he was singing about, but other people on the train eventually started yelling back at him.

In the middle bits we happened to see and go up the Eiffel Tower, take a boat tour, a bus tour and a Segway tour, which was completely rad. We also went to Versailles and saw the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. Pretty freaking awesome.

I ate a croissant for breakfast every morning. Don't tell the personal trainer.

I also saw lots (okay 2) of French underpants. One on a girl lying in the grass and her dress hiked up a bit too high, which happens to the lady folks sometimes...but the other was an unfortunate saggy man who was dressing at his window and I had the misfortune of looking up at the wrong time.

What can be seen cannot be unseen.

My poor, sweet eyes.

Something to note about France, and really mainland Europe in general. There is no negative stigma when it comes to smoking cigarettes. Everyone smokes. Coming from a smoking-negative culture, I found it very surprising and a bit sad...and a bit smelly, of course!

France said goodbye to us with a pushy beggar coming on our train to Geneva, who thought I was going to give him something since I looked at him. In truth, he was sitting next to our
backpack and I was making sure he wasn't going to try and thieve anything.

All in all, I enjoyed Paris. We were right smack in the middle of the city, and I loved seeing the Eiffel Tower. Definitely the highlight of France for me.

Now it's time to prep for Geneva and visiting the particle collider at CERN. I love having a family member that can give us a closer look!

I will, however leave you with the beauty of the Eiffel, though no picture does it justice.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Canadian Mer in London

For the last couple months, Russo (the hubby) and I have been looking forward to a big vacation in Europe. My parents were going on a cruise out of Barcelona, and decided they'd go to London, then Paris, then a tour of Spain before getting on the boat. It had been about 3 years since Russo and I had been to England, and I'd never been to Paris, so we thought we'd tag along. We decided to do London and Paris together, then Russ and I would jet off to Geneva, back to England to Nottingham before visiting with his folks in his hometown and flying home.

Russie is from England. He's British. Did I mention that?

Anyway, off we flew on the 9th. I don't know about other Mers, but I loathe plane rides. I don't mind the plane itself, the noise or the food, but I just detest the lack of manners that people display while on planes. Ugh!

Luckily for us, Russie's sister Bonie lives in London. She picked us up in Gatwick and we went to her flat - an adorable little place. Her long-term boyfriend (ie. just waiting for their engagement announcement) and her just bought the place a couple months ago and it was downright cute. We had a big family day on Sunday, and went for a walking tour of some cool places on Monday, including the Tower of London and London Bridge. For lunch we went to an old pub on the river Thames. As we were waiting for our food, guess who sailed by?

The Sea Shepherds on the Steve Irwin!

If you don't know who the Sea Shepherds ( are, they're basically eco-terrorists who stop nations like Japan from whaling. They had just been in the Northern European area protecting Pilot Whales from a yearly slaughter, and were returning to port for supplies. They also have a show on Animal Planet called Whale Wars.

 My photos are on the camera, since I was so excited I forgot to grab my phone. I will upload and post soon, but it was amazing!! I leapt up and waved furiously and even got a wave back; it was so cool to see them!! I have decided that Bonie is completely made of awesome and win and magic.

We walked to Trafalglar square after, and I noticed some of the fountain statues were merfolk, and being a new Mer I just could not resist...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

And now for something completely different

Here's a fun little Youtube clip...of Seal Man!

My first Public Swim

I'm going to come out and say something: I feel very self-conscious right now about being a mermaid.

Other girls seem to don tails and not worry about other people looking at them or potentially laughing at them. Being laughed at or bullied is something that I really worried about. What if I was swimming around, minding my own business, and some mean folks came along and laughed in my face and pulled on my tail?

Apparently I live in weird fantasy world where everyone is mean and nobody finds joy in childhood memories.

Last Sunday I went to a larger outdoor pool in my city. One of my best girlfriends is a guard there, so I felt a bit more confident. I took my blue tail, which was the very first tail my Mum made for me. It wasn't perfect in the least, having a band wrapping around the fin instead of a fluke and the front lining sewn on the front - but my purple tail was still having the 'bling' sewn on to it. I brought my husband with me as well for confidence.

I very nervously laid my towel by the side of the pool and slipped the tail strap around the fin, then started wiggling my ankles into the monofin pocket. A couple people glanced at me while I wriggled in, but something awesome happened when the fabric was up to my knees. As I shifted to lay down on my back, I heard a little girl say:

"Mommy! That girl is a mermaid!"


Those five tiny words made all the world of difference to me. I didn't care about someone teasing me, because I was a Mermaid!

I got in the water and paddled around, spending most of my time diving in the deeper middle area, practising my swimming, slips, breath holds and sitting on the bottom. It was huge fun! And every now and then I saw someone, either young or old, turn towards me with a smile.

Just before we left I had an older gentleman come up to me, and telling me how happy he was he had seen me. He said his partner would be so jealous. They loved mermaids in their house and he never thought he'd ever see a real live mermaid. I'm so glad I was able to make his day.

Even if I get teased, if I happen to make one person happy by being in my tail, then you know what? That's pretty rad.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

One tired Mer

About a year ago, I joined a gym and got a personal trainer. I'd gained about 20 pounds after my wedding and quite frankly I was upset that I was having to buy sizes much larger than I'd ever needed to before. I worked with that trainer for almost a year. This May I switched gym locations and got a new trainer, who is wonderful and fabulous. I see him twice a week.

I have a bad knee, to put things kindly. My poor blown-out knee got that way from years of dance and then a poor decision to try to keep up with a fit friend on the Chief, which is a mountain in Squamish, BC. My old trainer and I could never get my knee to cooperate with lower body exercises. However, Wonderfab Trainer threw that out the window and taught me how to do squats.

Oh my.

Tonight we did upper body, with a little lower thrown in. I am going to be a hurting Mer tomorrow! But every squat, press and curl I do is making my body fitter for swimming, and fitter for life, which makes me a happy girl. I've lost 25 pounds so far; once I lose about 15 more, I should be at my goal weight and could possibly look into getting a realistic silicone tail...but time will tell.