Blue Mountains Ruined Castle

Over the July long weekend we stayed in Sydney to save some pennies and to do a hike. As you all well know we are training for base camp trek in September. We have already done a few hikes over the past few months. The hike we did this weekend was to the Ruined Castle via The Golden Staircase.

The hike is located in the Blue Mountains just outside of Katoomba. You can actually hike to the Ruined Castle from Katoomba. We started from the Gold Case Staircase car park. It took a hour and  half to drive to the starting location. Setting off a bit later then planned in the morning  the car park was full when we arrived. We ended up parking up the road about 1KM from the carpark. The road down to the carpark is very bumpy and has huge pot holes I would not take a low car down this track, we saw a few people struggling with their cars. The weather was suppose to be dry during the day… do not do this walk in wet weather with the steep inclines it gets slippy.  Be careful and please read all the information provided on the NSW National Park website (link at the bottom of this blog). It had rained the day before making the ground still a bit wet.

The start of the walk takes you 800M down the Gold Staircase. This path is steep and has steep inclines and steps to tackle. There is a railing around most of it but there are parts without so please be careful. MK did slip on our way down as one of the rocks was slippy but luckily he didn’t slide anywhere. The views as you go down are beautiful ,I didn’t get my camera out as I was to busy looking where my feet where going. Once at the bottom of that section you walk 3.5 KM to Ruined Castle. This is a easy path its flat most of the way and no sheer drops. It goes through a rainforest type environment, it looks like how you would picture a enchanted forest as a child. When you reach the Ruined Castle camp site there is a toilet. After the campsite its a 600M steep incline up to the Ruined Castle Rock. There were lots of walkers on this path and on top of the rock . The rock was extremely busy with people having there lunch.

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We completed 10KM in 3 hours but I would advise 4/5 hours as we did not stop for lunch and were rushing to get back. Lucky for us as we got back to the car the heavens opened, so we missed the downfall. If you are a experienced hiker and good with heights you would enjoy this walk for sure. Below is the link to all the official information you need to complete this hike.

Hiking is getting easier for us and our legs are not hurting the next day either which is a great sign. Our hiking boots are getting warn in and no blisters which is another good sign. I have a fear of heights and I have been working to conquer this and control my fear. If you read the Mt Kosciusko blog you will know I froze when I had to climb over a snow bank…well I made sure on this hike I fought through all my fears and had no wobbly legs. I am extremely happy with how I handled myself on this hike as I was way out of my comfort zone height wise but kept a good strong grip on my fear.

information on the walk CLICK HERE

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What to do this weekend (Queens Long Weekend 2018)?

One plus to living in Sydney is there is never a long weekend to far away. The June long weekend for the Queen’s Birthday (we don’t even have this off in England) is just around the corner. I am staying in Sydney for this long week… I decided to put a list of some of my favorite things on this weekend.

Vivid: The light festival is still going over the long weekend. The bridge, the opera house, circular quay, the rocks, the botanical gardens and even more will be lit up with huge displays. Take a night to wrap and wonder around. Also have a go on the hands on exhibits in the rocks.

China Town: The China Town markets are on the Friday night. Go for dinner in one of the great restaurants and if you are feeling brave try out one of the karaoke rooms in China town. Recommendation for food would be the Noodle King.

Lunar Park: Go and be a big kid at the theme park on the harbor. Looking over the lights of vivid as you go on the Ferris wheel or play in the big fun house. There are the old fairground games as well if you are feeling lucky and want to win a big stuffed animal. There are lots of places to grab something to eat as well.

Cockatoo Island: It is your last chance to catch the 21st Beinnale of Sydney art festival. Catch the ferry over and wonder around the exhibits before having a hot drink taking in the city skyline views. There is a really clever mirror exhibit which is very trippy.

Watsons Bay Hotel: This long weekend the famous hotel is holding a Rose brunch. Grab a few of your girlfriends and head over to watch a winter sunset while sipping on some Frose.  Brunch and bottomless rose for two hours….a great way to spend afternoon with the ladies.

Merivale Bars: For all of June Merivale are offering 49% off drinks every day between 5PM-7PM. Check out their website to see were your closest bar is!

Newtown Chili Festival: The event is being held in The Bank. The day will consist of chill BBQ’s, chill cocktails and a chili eating contest. If you think you are brave enough. You will be warmed up that day for sure with all the chili activities planned.

Farmers Market: Inner West has a new farmers market. There will obviously be delicious food on offer throughout the market but they will have live music playing as well. The market has a pasta making demonstration this weekend. They run every Sunday 8AM -2PM and all of the market is under shelter.

Blue Mountains: Hiking in winter is possible. Jump in the care and head up to the mountains to do a bit of hiking. Some great trails to look up would be the Grand Canyon Loop and the Ruined Castle hike. Always prepare for hikes and make sure someone knows where you are heading and don’t hike alone.

Getting In Control of Your Money

If you feel every month you are over spending or you have not put anything away in savings then this blog post may help you out. First of all I am no money genius and in fact I know I’m to tight on myself with savings and money. I do feel like I know a few good steps for anyone who struggles to manage their money.  Its not really anything ground breaking but it worked for me.
1.Look at Your Spending
You can either do it the good old fashioned way with pen and paper or create a spread sheet in Excel. Write all your monthly outgoings first; rent, food, gym membership, petrol etc. Include everything, go through the month and make sure even the small outgoings are captured (that morning coffee….etc). After everything is written down you can see how much of your pay has to go on your outgoings and how much you have left for the month.
2.Savings
Next step is to decide how much you put away into savings from what is left after your outgoings. This is obviously completely personal choice, just don’t do what I do and skint yourself because I end up putting to much money away. I always transfer the amount I wish to save into my savings account as soon as I get paid. Once you have done this for a few months you wont miss that amount of money at all and it will build up for a rainy day.

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3. Pocket Money
Pocket Money is what I call the money left over for my social life. If you want to increase the amount of pocket money then you can put less away for savings or decrease your outgoings.  Getting a rough idea on what you spend socially Vs what your outgoings are is a really good way to make sure you are making good choices when it comes to money. I was shocked at how much money I spend on food socially.
4. Cut Backs
If you want to make changes to your out goings you need to look at what can be adjusted. Usually rent in Sydney if anything just goes up so that can not be reduced.
Food shops can be reduced if you like. I find planing my meals for the week, writing a list, shopping at Aldi and shopping on a full tummy always results in a cost effective shop. Otherwise I buy snacks I don’t need cos I am hungry, over buy products as I don’t know what I need for the week and spend more if I enter Woolworth’s.
Gym memberships can also be reduced by shopping around and finding the best deal. I stopped my membership and I am lucky enough to have a gym at work and I run outside for the rest of my work outs. Also look at how much you use the gym membership maybe paying to use a gym casual would actually be more beneficial.
Petrol can be reduced by just making the effort to fill up at the cheapest petrol stations. Around us in the Inner West it is the Speed Way. Have a look at the local petrol stations around your neighborhood to see which is cheapest.
Social life spends can be reduced by taking a look at Groupon or Scoupon see what deals you can pick up. Make sure you sign up to local cinemas and websites which often have offers on. Arrange to meet your mates for a meal deal in the city or happy hour drinks. You can also check out this page which has lots of things to do in Sydney on a budget. 
Please remember this is if you would like to be putting more money away and handling your money better and is purely just my view. I know there are many different ways to save and the ones above have worked for me so maybe they will suit you. Being in control of your money and feeling secure is also part of  mindfulness life. By knowing you have enough money and where your cash is going it reduces stress and anxiety in your life. Let me know how you get on if you try any / all of the tips above.

 

 

Nepal Health

Last year I wrote a few blogs about me loosing weight and how I was trying my best to be healthier. The posts kind of died out because my weight just stayed the same and did not move. Even when I gave up booze for a month my weight did not budge. At the start of this year after we booked Nepal I started to work out a lot and still was seeing no results. I thought I was going mad and people would think I am not really trying…but I was. It was really knocking my confidence.

I finally went to the doctors in March and had my bloods done. Everything came back fine which is good but still no answer on why my weight was the same. The doctor explained to me I might have over stretched my stomach ( sorry not the best visual) and a way to get it to shrink would be to go on a Low Calorie Diet using Optifast. Basically I have two Optifast shakes a day, a piece of fruit, one small coffee, water and a 400 calorie meal. Optifast have a range of low calorie shakes, soups and deserts for you to pick from. I have had the chicken soup which I love and it breaks up having two shakes a day. With the shakes I have had the coffee, mocha and chocolate flavor. In all honesty they taste the same very chocolaty. I think the key to doing the diet well is just becoming organised…always have your shakes on you and water to keep you going through the day. It soon becomes habit.

The hard parts for me are working in a office there is always a biscuit tin or a cake floating around but having Nepal as my goal and thinking about that is helping me resist temptations. I also talk to Mum once a week about our diets (she is also on a health kick) and we give each other support to keep going. It really does help having that open conversation because when you have a weak moment one comment from someone can just keep you on the right track.

This diet at first sounded impossible but I was determined to do it and to get myself ready for Nepal (also to just be healthier for the future).  I have given up drink until Nepal and eating out as lets face it not much room for booze and takeaways in a 400 calorie meal.

I am now 3 weeks in and have shifted some weight which has given me such a confidence boost in myself taking on Nepal in September. The first week was the toughest for sure. I didn’t have much energy and food just seemed to be everywhere. Once I had my routine down with the shakes it became easier and easier. I have told my friends about the new diet I am on and how I cant drink and they have all been great. My friends, family, work team and MK have been so supportive with it big thanks to all of them! Especially MK as he has to deal my hanger sometimes …

Over the last three weeks I have seen my mind set with food change. It has shifted from constantly craving it to seeing it as just something I have to do during the day like a task. I have also gone from working out 2-3 times a week to 4-5 times a week, focusing on my stamina. I am doing a 7KM walk twice a week and swimming up to 2KM twice a week. On the weekend we have started to do our hikes as well. I feel like I have more motivation and I am sleeping better. On a weekend I have no hangovers to deal with and my bank account is looking great. I think I spent about 80% of my money on food and drink! Now I have more money to buy things or put towards Nepal.

I have taken the lead and organised a few things with friends which don’t revolve around food and drink. Date night has changed to we are getting out into Sydney and doing things we haven’t experienced yet. I think I will be discovering a whole new side to living in Sydney.

Being open about what I am doing with my friends has been great and talking with girlfriends about all the body hang ups we have makes me realize everyone is going through a similar thing. I watched the movie ‘I Feel Pretty’ and its a great movie. I think every women in the world has felt like Amy Schumer does in the opening scene.

I am sharing the journey of me getting ready for Nepal but I really wanted to share this side of the journey as well because I just feel so many of us are trying to loose weight and are not seeing the results. Don’t give up and if you are not seeing results go to the doctors, see if they can help you find a way to lose weight and become healthier. I will update on my progress with Optifast in a month.

If anyone has any questions on Optifast or just wants to have a chinwag about weight and being a woman just send me a message. Lets support each other and not bring each other down!

Nepal Booked!

This year MK and I decided to not go home but to go on a trip. We both work full time so the maximum time we could get off was a month. Our work have given us both a month off in September…now we just had to decide on a destination.

I am 30 MK is 30 this year and we both had one thing in common on our 30th Bucket List…to do Everest Base Camp Trek. In September we will both be 30 and will be spending a full month in Nepal and yes you guessed it… we will be doing the Everest Base Camp Trek.

The next step was to find a company to book the trek with. There are around 75 companies which offer the trek. I found it extremely overwhelming and had been warned not to trust Trip Adviser when it came to reviews (apparently a lot of the reviews are from staff members). I turned to a few friends and family who have already been on the trip for recommendations and read a few travel blogs on what to look out for when booking with a company. It did cross our minds for a few seconds to do the trek on our own but as we are not experience hikers we decided against that option. In the blog posts I read I was shocked at how much of the money from this business never made it in to Nepalese hands. I also got a few tips on what should be in the trips itinerary and to check to make sure the company is a registered trekking company in Nepal. I decided that we would use a Nepalese company. I would recommend reading a lot of blogs so you feel confident in what you want out of your experience. I found AME Treks (Adventure Mountain Explore) online and found there Facebook page. To make sure their reviews where honest and true I actually messaged a few people from the Facebook page and had a chat with them about there experience with the company. Everyone had great things to say about AME Treks so I sent them off a email. After a few email exchanges and a look at the detailed 15 day trek itinerary we paid the deposit and locked in the trek. We are now 4 months out from this epic challenge and over the next 4 months I will continue to blog on how we are preparing. Along with the trek we plan on doing Safari in Nepal and traveling around to a few places. I have just started to look at what we can fit in and where we can stay.

This for me will be the biggest challenge I have set myself mentally and physically. I am not slim or that fit but I have been working on myself the past month and will continue to work on myself to make sure I am the best version of myself on that mountain. Over the next few months I will blog on how we are affording the trip, what we are buying and how our training is going. Its such a exciting time / nerve racking time. I know we can do this and achieve out goal of reaching the Base Camp.

InstaTravel

Like everyone else I follow a lot of travel accounts on Instagram. When I am at work wanting to escape the desk for a minuet or looking for some travel ideas this is where I go. I think there amazing all of them…but it is always on the back of mind, how real are they?
I have traveled a lot and I decided to try and stay in Australia which meant finding a job, visas and saving money. My travel list was put on hold. I also have student loans to pay back and just general living cost. I am so baffled on how these young people travel around the world for most of the year in what looks like the most glamours way. I think it’s a great life they have but just wonder how they keep it up with the pressure of daily demands.
I have a month off work to explore Nepal and I can’t wait but it has taken a few months to save for airfare and deposits. The rest of these months I am working I will be saving up the remainder of my trip. It also uses all my annual holiday as well. I would like to know how people do so much travel and keep a job?
I do admire how glamours the photos are and the person in the photo looks flawless. I have to say when I went round South East Asia I was so far from flawless more just sweaty and hoped my clothes did not smell.
I would love to know how people do this please get in contact.
Shout out to the instagrams who are working the 9-5 grind but love the travel.
Any information on how that lifestyle works would be great.
Below is me and my not so Instagram flawless photo covered in mud and possible elephant poop!

Nimbin and Lillian Rock

The end of our Easter break was spent visiting Nimbin and Lillian Rock. I had not planned to go to Nimbin but as it was on route to Lillian Rock we decided to stop off. Leaving Byron behind us we headed up into the hills. It did rain most of the drive to Nimbin but it did not ruin the views looking over the valley.
Nimbin
Before I arrived at Nimbin I had in my head that this place would be a hippie, earth loving town which had cookies to share. I’m not into drugs so was not fussed at all about the cookies. I was however excited to experience the laid back hippie town after having such a good time with Byron’s vibe. As soon as we parked up we were straight on to the main street which was full of colourful rainbow and in your face shop signs. The shops looked very hippie but when you walked in they were owned by your average Joe and the shop all of a sudden turned into a novelty gift shop. On one part of the main street people would walk up to you whispering “magic cookies” it felt very dodge as we were just searching for a bottle-o to  purchase a bottle of wine for the night. When we had done a quick sweep of the main street we had seen enough and headed back o the car. In the car park we found a man wondering around the cars peering in and holding a narrow metal rod in his hand. This place did not give me any good vibes at all. Maybe I am old and boring now, Nimbin I will not be going back to visit.
Lillian Rock
We had the afternoon in Lilian Rock. We were staying at a Air BnB which was a farm called Whisingwell Farm. We turned down a dirt track and made our way to the house. We met our host who was lovely. Jenny showed us to our room and around the house. We had an ensuite room and access to a deck with a big BBQ and sink. We settled into our lovely rooms with no TV or internet just the mountain fresh air. The room was full of board games, we played a few rounds of ‘Guess Who?’ At 4PM we joined Jenny and the other 2 gusts for a tour of the farm at feeding time. If you stay at the farm this is worth doing it was a lovely thing to do especially when you live in the city. On our feeding tour we fed the ducks, ponies, goats and held baby ducklings. It was a lot of fun meeting the animals and hearing about how they came to be on the farm. MK and I took a stroll around the farm down to the river…it was short lived as MK saw a snake so we made our way back to the house as the sun set. Once we had made dinner we settled into bed reading and writing before having a early night. It was very relaxing and exactly what we needed before the big drive home the next day. We had purchased a breakfast off Jenny for $5. We were supplied bacon, eggs, tomatoes and bread in a basket. The next morning we cooked our breakfast on the deck and packed up the car. There were a couple of things we did not get to see in Lilian Rock as it rained on and off the whole day and night we were there.
 The last day of our Easter break was spent on the motorway driving back to Sydney. It was a pretty smooth drive with minimal traffic and one giant thunder storm just outside of Sydney. I think we both came back very refreshed from the weekend and ready to hit the city life once again.