This Year

Another year on and I am still ill. I know that life i a journey and all that but I was kinda hoping that at this point I would have less days where I felt suicidal. But alas I don’t I’m still on a total rollercoaster so I have decided to plan some exciting events in the future to keep me hopeful and looking forwards…

  1. I am going back to canada this summer
  2. I am going to one day be a vet
  3. I am getting chinchillas this year

So I’m sure I will be back to tell you all about these various events!

Ttfn,

Georgie

Firestarter 🔥

Here are my top three reasons why fire is fabulous: 

1. It can cook your food, and I love food 🙊 

2. It’s warm and when out in the wild a bit of warmth can go a long way 

3. The smoke keeps away Mosquitos which is a definite win

Great Georgie now as well as confessing to mental illness you have confessed to pyromania- fear not friends and please put down your tranq guns and straight jackets this post is all about safely making campfires when out camping or in severe survival situations, not about just setting fire to stuff geeez!! 

As human beings we all share survival instincts, even if hidden deep deep down, and if out in the middle of nowhere in a potentially life threatening situation making and maintaining a fire is a definite way of regaining control and lifting moral. Thing is though we live in a world where we have electric fires, stoves and lighters- people we have gone soft and I think it’s time we all went back to our roots and learnt how to make a fire any cave-person would be proud of! 

FIRST: The Site

Finding where to start your fire is a task that should not be taken lightly, things you need to keep in mind are; shelter from the elements, not being too near tents (those things burn down in around 7 seconds) and being away from very dry wooded areas as you do not want to create a forest fire. It may sound obvious but it’s often worth checking that you are allowed to make a fire in the area your in. Personally if I want to cook on a fire I like to create a bit of a fire pit- look for a spot that lends itself to this maybe a natural dip or a rocky ledge. I also surround the pit with rocks as they are not flammable and provide a useful surface for cooking if nothing else is available (think hot plates). The pit protects from wind making the initial spark process a hell of a lot easier and I think it’s easier to manage and maintain but it really is down to personal preference.

SECOND: Tinder and Kindling 

For you laymen tinder is very dry and preferably fluffy stuff; bark in particular pine or birch are good, pine needles, loo roll, cotton wool etc but not leaves as they do not allow for any airflow. You want a good portion of tinder (around a handful unless like me you have tiny little hands in which case you need 2 handfuls) and if your new to the game more is definatley better. Kindling is small bits of wood that are easy to catch, I like to go for small twigs no thicker than a pencil. You want a twig that makes a good snapping sound when you break it as this shows that it is dry inside. If it is wet you need to use your knife to strip back the bark and possibly the outer layers of wood till you get to the dry core (don’t worry you will find it) pine is very easy to catch fire so if it’s wet that’s a good shout for kindling but generally I just go for thin dry twigs and don’t worry about the type of wood too much. 

THIRD: Fuel For The Fire 

All woods have different burn qualities and depending on where in the world you are you may have little or no choice as to the type of wood you use. Basically use common sense! Make sure you collect all your firewood before attempting to start the fire, there is nothing worse than managing to get a flame going only to discover you have nothing to put on it! Arranging your wood in size order can also be helpful, hopefully by the time you get to using the big stuff the fire is hot enough to dry out any wet wood but if it’s been really wet there’s no harm in stacking it carefully around the fire so the heat can dry it out or stripping off the bark and then make nicks or ‘feathers’ in the wood to help it to catch. Remember when wood collecting to only use deadwood on the floor of the area and never cut down trees for fuel!

FOURTHLY: Coaxing a Spark and Builidng the Bonfire

Having collected all your fuel its worth organising it into a wonderfully OCD size-type order starting with your skinny kindling twigs building up into larger logs! Place some of your tinder down where you have decided to start your fire and carefully balance your dryest kindling twigs up against the tinder into a pointy pyramid, this allows plenty of air to enter providing essential oxygen. Next cup a small section of tinder in your hand and use a lighter or match to set it on fire, or use a flint and aim the sparks right into the middle of the tinder. Don’t be worried about using your hands to cup around the little spark to help protect it from the elements, then you want to place (or poke with a stick) the tinder which should be on fire into the middle of your little pyramid. The key to getting the fire going is to keep plenty of oxygen going in, you can do this by blowing hard into the base of the fire which will add oxygen and spread the hot embers into the dry wood. Once the little kindling twigs are catching carefully start to build up the size of the fire adding in larger bits of wood. The crucial thing at this point is to not smoother the baby fire, add wood into the pyramid structure so that plenty of air can get in and don’t add too much all at once. 

FINALLY: Something To Remember 

As a wonderful guide called Alec once said “it’s not a case of if you can make fire it’s a case of will you keep trying until you succeed in making fire” so friendlings remember that next time your about to give up on your fire making, you can do it with a bit of perseverance 🙂 

Good luck 

Georgie 

Am I Dreaming…? 

As many of you are aware yesterday was Alevel results day, or as I have been calling it “doomsday” oh and it was the 13th and I have a phobia of the number 13. I barely slept and was not looking forwards to ucas track being updated, having failed last year I couldn’t imagine anything worse than the feeling of failing again. I knew it wouldn’t just be me I let down but my family, friends, teachers, everyone who has supported me! So it was with some serious apprehension that I logged into ucas (literally muscles tensed, teeth gritted, eyes scrunched almost closed) as I read the word “congratulations” I stopped breathing convinced it wasn’t really saying I had got into uni. I read it again and again and then got my dad to read it to, he started jumping around shouting but I was still just sat in disbelief. 

24hrs have passed and I still don’t believe it even after calling up the university of Liverpool to check. But I do know that something amazing has happened after the last 3 insane years and that this could be the start of a whole new chapter of my life. I know I wouldn’t of achieved this if it wasn’t for the continued support of family, friends and a few special teachers so to all those people thank you! And to the friends who disappeared during my illness and to all those who doubted me I have nothing to say to you other than look at me now. 

Peace out from a very dazed Georgie (veterinary science student at the university of Liverpool) 

Talk Them Down 

When things are getting tough and the negative bastards in my head are taking control I have created a new strategy*

*im not a professional I just started doing this and it works so i wanted to share it so please don’t shoot me if this is actually some proper technique or is copywrited etc 

Basically I try to create some space between me and the problem so that I can think it through in a more healthy way, instead of just ending up in a negative spiral. I like to imagine that someone else, a friend or stranger has approached me with this problem and do some role playing (oh er) because I know I am much kinder to other people than I am to myself! This is hard to explain so here is an example of a recurring negative thought I have- that I am fat and unattractive… 

Ladies and gentleme, boys and girls welcome to Georgie’s cinema featuring a short film on problem solving or as a professional might see it severe split personality disorder and yet another reason why Georgie should be institutionalised, ahem that was a joke folks not a cry for help so now on with the showwwww 

ME 1: I feel so fat and unattractive 

ME 2: Oh dear what has led you to that conclusion? 

ME 1: I am just so fat I can’t stand to catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and no one seems to be interested in anything more than laughing with/at me 

ME 2: And what do your friends or family say to you when you ask how you look etc? 

ME 1: They either brush it off with a you look fine as they clearly think I’m unattractive and feel uncomfortable lying to me or they give me some sort of insincere compliment 

ME 2: But don’t people sometimes comment on how you look without prompting? 

ME 1: Yes but it must be because they feel sorry for me 

ME 2: in my experience people are too self absorbed to worry about how you feel and then come up with some elaborate lie, it’s much more likely that they looked at you and thought you looked soooo good they must tell you! 

ME 1: that logic is hard to argue but I wish I felt less unattractive 

ME 2: girl you get up and put on your favourite clothes and cover up the damn mirror because you deserve to feel good so avoid negative triggers, put those shoulders back and kick on with your day I garentee by the end of it you will be feeeling better and hopefully you will be busy enough throughout the day to stop obsessing over how you look because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter that much and anyone deserving of your time will love you for who you are and not how you look 

The end 

Okay so that may not of been the best example but I find this activity genuinly works for me or at least helps me to use some logic. Sometimes it’s just a case of lifting yourself out of a negative cycle a time bit so that you are functional and not just a big ol ball of incessant negative thoughts! 

As ever feedback is always welcome, 

Georgie 

Von Doelers Ranch 

Currently I am on holiday with my family touring round parts of America and Canada, in these tours dad always organises ‘something for everyone’ and this year for me was the ranch. I am a little horse obsessed, love teaching them, riding them and just being with them so the prospect of spending 3 days with them in the middle of a holiday is just so damn exciting. However we have been to ranches before and it’s not all galloping off into the sunset so I tried to keep expectations low- well that was unnecessary!! 

Von Doelers ranch is situated in Ontario, Canda and is owned and run by the Von Doeler family, in particular Elana Von Doeler who is just an incredible human being- not only does she compete in professional rodeos and 3 day eventing the lady is beautiful, modest and super good fun! The ranch offers trail rides, English and Western riding lessons, rodeo events, summer camps, cabins on the lake and more all super flexible to cater for everyone from complete beginners to experience horse people. My family were lucky enough to be on a pack holiday lasting 3 nights the itinerary of which was… 

Day 1: Turn up at leisure, go out for a beautiful trail ride ending up at the cabin where we would spend two nights, cook food on the open campfire overlooking the lake and then going for a late night swim taking in the amazing surroundings 

Day 2: A relaxed start followed by another trail ride visiting the waterfalls at the end of the lake on a different but equally lovely set of horseys, cattle sorting (we didn’t know what this was but it turns out it involves two people on horseback moving cattle from one pen into the other in a specific order, this was my dad’s favourite activity as he said he felt like a proper cowboy and was grinning from ear to ear) then it was time for some food and we had a roast and pie cooked by the ranch, after food we learnt how to rope a wooden calf which caused a lot of amusement and varied levels of success, to conclude the day some of the family had a go on the “bungee bull” which is basically a barrel that you sit on while two people use the elastic ropes attached to it to make it bounce around like a rodeo bull! 

Day 3: Brunch at the ranch was an impressive amount of pancakes, bacon and berries all super yummy! Then we had some free time- most of my family went back to the lake to canoe while I stayed up at the ranch where by now i felt totally at home. I brushed and tacked up horses with the ranch hands before Elana offered me a ride on one of her horseys Abbey. It was on Abbey that I learnt how you go around barrels in barrel racing and thoroughly enjoyed attempting to canter round them as the weather suddenly took a turn for the worse. The rest of the family arrived up at the ranch and we waited out the storm with some snacks. Then we packed up the horses ready for our camping trip. To get to the campsite it was a couple hours of riding through super rough trails which were proper cowboy stuff ending in a steep scramble up to the cliff side. Just as we arrived it started raining again badly and it took some serious effort to get a fire going but we did. Food was cooked (steaks, potatoes and garlic bread) and the rain stopped around 10pm just in time for clothes to dry off and smores to be made before heading to bed. Day 3 was in short a bloody brilliant day!! 

Day 4: Started with a good breakfast of thick bacon and egg on croissant cooked on another ace campfire before packing up the tents and horses so we could head back up to the ranch. Halfway back Elana asked us if we wanted to canter- the answer was a resounding yes. So we looped around the ranch cantering along the sandy trails whooping as we went. Arriving back at the ranch was really quite sad as we all became aware that we would soon have to leave. 

Here are my thoughts on various aspects of Von Doelers Ranch… 

The Staff- everyone at Von Doelers was amazing-they came from a mixture of backgrounds but all had a common love of horses which was apparent in there energy and enthusiasm. I have already talked about Elana but let me just say again for the record what a fabulous person she is (yes okay I have a girl crush on her) her and the team are so hardworking and never seem to stop! They are quick with a joke and a helping hand, often simultaneously, and all have so many skills from fire making to singing that all come in handy on a ranch! I couldn’t believe how upbeat they all remained even in the storm on top of the cliff out camping but they seemed to relish the challenge as much as me and my family did. They are all super resourceful too managing to erect a tarp over the fire pit using the horses spare head collars and lead ropes! Even after spending only 4 days with these people I would call them my friends and hope to stay in contact with them and follow their interesting life stories.  

*another key member of staff was Wiser the dog who loves to get involved in all aspects of the ranch including following us all the way up to the cliff top to camp out for the night! 

The Horseys- all of the horses are Curleys  which are hypoallergenic(ish). They are a small breed of horses and I kept mistakenly calling them ponies but they are the most sure footed bunc of equines I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. All of them had been raised and trained on the yard by the Von Doeler team and are consequently super chilled, easy to handle and a lot of fun. Their relaxed outlook on life and the way they took on every obstacle in front of them is such a credit to the ranch as it reflects their phenomenal handling and upbringing. Oh and by the way they are super cute! 
The Trails- all of the trails had been carefully planned and created by the Von Doelers and therefore they really suited all different time demands as well as being versatile and in places challenging. As a keen horsewoman I really wanted to do some cantering and was not dissapointed by the long stretches of sandy trail perfect for cantering along. There was also a ‘ruff n tuff’ trail which made the whole family feel like pioneers- it was rocky, it was twisty, it went over little brooks and up and down some very steep hills- basically it was epic! I never thought walking on a trail could be so much fun but oh it was. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear by the end of it! 

The Cabin- we stayed in the cabin for two nights and although it was a simple rustic accommodation it was really nice! The decor was very homely and it was a really cosy and comfortable place to stay. There was no electricity but we were provided with candles and battery operated fairy lights, there was no running water but we were given a sizeable container of drinking water and an outhouse so we had everything we needed. The cabin is situated literally right by the lake and came with a canoe and woggles to use (which I think the Canadians call noodles!). Infront of the cabin was a fire pit- complete with grill for cooking on- surrounded by wooden benches and chairs.

The Overall Experience- the Von Doelers Ranch is out of this world, it allows you to be as adventurous as you want while still feeling completely safe. I would recommend anyone to go there if they want to do a ranch type holiday. The camping trip was out of this world and a truly special experience that I will never forget. The family spent the whole stay smiling and laughing having the time of their life. We learnt so much about rodeoin and western riding that we all left feeling like Cowboys. Leaving was so hard as this ranch felt like home, and I know that I will go back there hopefully multiple times in the future! 

   
    
    
    
    
 

When IBS goes on tour…

There is nothing worse than feeling like at any given moment you could experience horrific stomach cramps followed by a literal shit storm (scuse the explicit details and horrendous pun) but for me going on holiday seems to make my usual IBS ten times worse. I wish another family member experienced a similar issue but alas they do not so it falls down to me to take care of myself. How do I do this I hear you cry? Well friends with a little bit of stress and alot of preparation, and as I am convinced I cannot be the only person out there suffering from this housebinding condition I thought I would share with you all my accumulated wisdom…

1. Medication- i am on a prescription of buscapan for IBS and if im going on holiday i can go and get a bit higher doasage for the time im going to be away

2. Immodium- normally if things get over excited down south i just live in my toilet but on holiday without constant access to a toilet i take with me enough immodium to constipate most of manhattan!

3. Hydration Baby- one of the most irritating side effects of diarrhoea is dehydration, so as well as carrying several litres of water I take oral rehydration sachets with me (the kind you put in water to help replace electrolytes and salts etc and obviously rehydrate you!)

4. “Water water everywhere but none that we could drink”- having ended up in the middle of bloody nowhere without water drinking from a stream I am here to tell you what a terrible idea that is for a girl with a delicate digestive system like me! So as I don’t always carry water boiling aparatus I do carry water purification tablets so I can stay hydrated the safe way.

5. My trusty trowel- as my family and I often and up in the wilderness I always carry my lightweight folding trowel for digging emergency poo pits (something especially useful in bear country) and though everyone ridicules me for this little gadget I don’t care and reckon they are probs just jealous.

6. The emergency back up plan- this is for if and when the shit hits the pants (see what I did there?) and includes spare clean pants and shorts as well as tissues, wet wipes and of course a sturdy plastic bag to securely place the soiled garments into, I’m nothing if not cleanliness conscious, oh and classy definitely classy 😉  

So there you have it my very own survival guide for the IBS people out there, the literal party poopers, the crap crusaders battling a condition that lets face it is just downright embarrassing. Hope this is helpful, informative or just a good laugh for the unaflicted,

Georgie over and out

#keep on crapping

  via WordPress for Phone app.

Cycle Touring 101!

Alright i know what you guys are thinking “Georgie you’ve been on like 1 cycle touring holiday…” but people of wordpress as a super organised (aka OCD) human i did alot of research into this touring milarky and have thus compiled some top tips- mainly things i wish i knew before setting off…

BEFORE YOU GO:

First things first you want to think about what sort of tour you want based on your fitness level/cycling ability. There is no point trying to cycle 100 miles a day as that gets old pretty damn fast. Me and dad cycle together around 5 or 6 times a week and went for doing around 60 miles a day, this ment we didnt have time pressures and got to the next stop mid afternoon allowing plenty of relaxing and exploring time. Saddle sores are one of the main complaints of any cycle tour so make sure to practice spending a few hours at a time on your bike to minimise this. When i first started cycling i couldnt imagine my ass ever getting used to the bike but it did so do persevere with this and for goodness sake wear proper cycling shorts. I had an £8 pair and sweet jesus i was in pain- some things are worth spending that bit more money on and cycling shorts are defo one of those things. Another consideration when route planning is where the civilisation is- me and dad had a day without seeing any towns or villages all morning and i ran out of water and got dehydrated :S so make sure if you arnt going through settlements that you have enough water and food to make it through!

Next consideration is who you are going with- do not go with someone you dont get on with well. Chances are you are gonna get sweaty, smelly and snappy so you need to be with someone you gel with. Me and dad managed not to have any arguments etc but we overheard another cycle touring couple who seemed to hate each others guts by day 3- not ideal! Teamwork is so important when out on the road too, if your infront its your job to alert the person or people behind to any dangers like holes in the road. Most people work out hand signals or little phrases to communicate as sometimes when traffic is busy its hard to stick together and not go down a pothole or something. Likewise if you are at the back you need to let the others know if there is a car coming up behind, it seems obvious but its worth a group discussion before you hit the road.

Next consideration is equipment, when it comes to cycle touring its a case of the lighter the better, but that doesnt mean you can skimp on the important shizzle. Firstly do not even consider using a rucksack as it is just so uncomfortable. You want to use panniers on your bike rack- if your going away for like two weeks you may need panniers on your front AND back bike racks. For the 5 days i used two sets of bike kit (tshirt, cycle shorts and cycle socks) plus a long sleeved cycle top, and a lightweight rainjacket. For evening wear i had a pair of shorts and two tshirts plus a jumper and an oversized tshirt to sleep in. Some would consider this too much in the way of clothing but i like to stay comfortable and clean! I also strongly believe in plenty of spare pants and socks as after a long day on the bike or if it rains clean dry underwear is just the best thing ever. Also make sure you bring bike maintenance stuff- spare inner tube, spare tyre, puncture repair kit, oil etc just in case of emergency. And make sure at least one member of your group is okay at bike maintenance or you could end up a bit stuck!

Final thing before you go is making sure if your going abroad that you understand the rules of the road. I may have gone round a roundabout the wrong way in France…woops…

WHILE YOUR ON TOUR:

Be a nice cycle touring buddy and look after your other teammates- if they are struggling help out whether its just some encouraging words or if you need to take some of their equipment while they get up the hill being nice makes the whole experience better. Plus if your nice when they are struggling chances are they will be nice when you are struggling and at some point during the tour you probably will be!

Make sure you have regular breaks (every 10-15 miles or at the top of hills) to get off the bikes, have some sweets or a cereal bar and some water before continuing. And when its lunch time have a proper sit down and rest.These breaks make the whole day much more pleasant and don’t be afraid to stop to look at a village or take a picture- this isn’t the tour de France after all!  

Start appling anti chaffing cream BEFORE you chaff as afterwards is too late and its so bloody uncomfortable!

Dont panic if you get lost- most of the time you dont need to turn round and go back the way you came you can have a look at the map and work out a slightly different route. This can stop you having to cover extra unnecessary miles. If your really lost you can always leave map work behind and use GPS on your phone or garmin device, or *gulp* ask a local for help.

Lastly but most importantly have fun, remember your on this tour of your own free will for enjoyment. Laugh at any misfortunes, look around you at the views and love being a cycle tourist!

I realise this was a rather long post so congrats to those of you who stuck it out 😉

Georgie   WordPress for Phone app.