Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Easter Weekend: BCA Nationals and the Bluebell Wood

Life recently seems to be always busy. Blink once and before you know it, it's three months later and you're not quite sure where the time went. This very phenomenon happened to me in regards to Easter weekend. I blinked and the four glorious days of holiday were over, blinked again and here we are - two weeks further on and I'm only just putting fingers to keys.

Easter weekend kicked off with a cheer comp - myself and my team, Sparks All Stars, were off to British Cheerleading Association Nationals in Telford. Which, as it turns out, is a large town quite near Birmingham but also quite near Wales. My friends and I stayed in a little village called Ironbridge, home to the world's first  (rather pretty) major bridge made out of cast iron which also happened to be just over the road from our pub hotel. However, we didn't have much time to enjoy the scenery as it was early to bed in preparation for an early wake up call the next day.

The following day, our alarms went off at a painful 6am. Then, it was on with  our make-up, up with our hair and out with our uniforms on, ready to perform on the mat! We were all quite nervous as this competition historically was one we don't perform all that well at, but we were going to give it our best shot!

After much waiting around, we took to  the mat and smashed out our routine with all the energy we could muster.

Then, it was all over and we were back to waiting for results....

Finally, it was time for awards! We nervously waited, our anticipation heightened by the fact that awards were delayed! Bu then, suddenly, with barely any warning, the judges were announcing our category. We came second!!

Although this wasn't first place, we were super super happy as we hadn't been expecting to place at all!

Happy but tired after our long days, we eventually headed home to our waiting beds.

Sunday morning, I was up early again to head to my childhood home for a couple of days of relaxation, tasty food and being spoilt. Oh and Easter eggs (finally!). My boyfriend also joined us, just in time to devour a home cooked dinner of leg of lamb!

The final day of the holiday (after golden chocolate eggs for breakfast) was spent visiting the Bluebell Wood, a wood near my home which, come spring, is carpeted in bluebells as far as the eye can see!

It's really a rather spectacular sight!

Hundreds and hundreds of beautiful blue (purple-y?) flowers everywhere!

After our walk, we retired to the village pub where we basked in the beautiful sunshine....

...before heading home for a late lunch outside under blossom in the garden.

An exciting weekend finished off with some well needed relaxation!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Bumps and Bruises: Paintballing in Warwickshire

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a weekend in Warwickshire where I went paintballing for the very first time.

To say the least, I was a little apprehensive. I’d seen the bumps and bruises friends had received from previous trips and had heard the stories of particularly painful shots to tender body parts. However, the trip had been organised for my boyfriend’s birthday, so there was simply no way I could gracefully avoid the situation. I was going to be shot at with fast flying paint whether I liked it or not!

My apprehension was not alleviated when, upon arriving at the paintballing grounds (a forest in the middle of the countryside), I was given a padded body protector. This was followed by a boiler suit and a heavy duty helmet, complete with full face visor…

Next came the safety demonstration. I listened avidly, soaking up all of the instructions (“Don’t carry your gun by the trigger”, “Don’t pick up a smoke grenade by the end on fire”, “Don’t shoot someone at point blank range. It will hurt….”) and quickly vowing not to get too close to anyone out in the field.

Then, we were let loose.

We played a number of games out in the woods. One was ‘capture the flag’ where we had to steal a flag from ‘the Tardis’ (a inventively painted portaloo) and run with it into enemy ground. I spent much of this game tactically hiding behind a tree, providing completely essential ‘cover fire’ from a safe, if ineffective, distance.

However, by the second game I was getting more into the swing of things. I’d mastered my gun and even managed to kill off a few of the ‘infected zombies’ heading in my direction without getting shot too badly.

Our last game was a free for all. Finally, the chance I’d been waiting for – an opportunity to fire at will at my troublesome boyfriend who had got me into this situation to begin with. Suddenly, with my new found goal and determination, my aim seemed to markedly improve…!

Paintballing actually turned out to be a lot of fun and not nearly as scary as I had first envisioned. Yes, getting hit wasn’t the most pleasant experience but, to be honest, half of the shots you didn’t notice in the heat of the moment! By the end of the session I had a couple of impressive bruises, but also a giant grin on my face!