Hello wonderful people in my life,
Wow what a month it has been. It always seems to go really fast and when I find myself starting to type I am overwhelmed by what I have achieved since I last wrote to you all. It makes me so happy to be able to tell you all what I have been up too and what path I am currently on and what opportunities are presenting themselves. I know these emails can be and generally are quite long so I am trying to make them a bit shorter!
I have seen a lot in the past month and have really enjoyed seeing new places, experiencing culture and making new friends all while trying to get a decent fix of sunshine which was lacking in both Ireland and Scotland. Glad I got some in Italy! What a relief!
Ireland is a beautiful country. It’s rolling green hills, lakes and coastlines had me in awe for nine days. We started our trip in Dublin and this time I was with Ally and Michelle – two lovelies that I had met in London. There friend Alyssa also joined who they meet in Scotland while enjoying Hogmany back at New Years. We spent 9 days tripping around the countryside and covered Dublin, Cork, Kilarney, The Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Annascoul, Galway, Belfast and Derry. Highlights of the trip were definitely the Cliffs of Moher and The Giants Causeway. I found the culture of Ireland very happy. The music and dance was awesome. Such a wonderful atmosphere. It was interesting to learn more about the divisions between Catholics and Protestants and come to the realisation of how bad the conflict was not that long ago. Its incredibly confronting to see murals telling the story of those who’s lives had been lost due to the divisions that are born from such different religions and the hate that has been fuelled over generations. Again something you don’t realise until you visit a place like Belfast and Derry.
My birthday was great fun! Can’t believe it was almost four weeks ago. Thanks to all of you who sent messages of good wishes I had a brilliant day being a tourist in London. Haley, Kate and I made it up the Shard (London’s tallest building) for brunch. We ticked off the Emirates Airline and checked out the O2 before heading to Stratford Westfield for some birthday gelato and shopping. Caught up with Sharon who was over from NZ so that was a great birthday treat. Kate baked a delicious black forest cheese cake which was amazing! Another fab day out in London.
Scotland was fantastic. I made my way there after stopping off in Sheffield to catch up with Zoe while she was in the UK. Glasgow wasmy first stop for the Commonwealth Games. I spent the last (very rainy) weekend of the Games with Frank and Emily. I lived with these two in Auckland back in 2009. Emily and I made it to see the Squash which was held in an arena with amazing atmosphere. The calibre of the matches was awesome and we watched some great doubles and mixed doubles. Was really cool to see Joelle and Marty win their quarter final and catch up with Barb and Bob briefly. Looking forward to seeing you both back in Auckland at some point. Glasgow didn’t really turn on the weather but it was delightful to wander around the city, check out some local bars and wander the tombs of the Necropolis. So stunning with epic views of the city and the Cathedral.
After Glasgow it was onto Edinburgh to start a five day tour. There were 20 of us on the bus all from different parts of the globe. Of course the token Kiwis and Aussies, along with Germans, a couple of Dutch, Americans, Thai, Taiwanese and a girl from China. Pretty eclectic bunch. We drove from Edinburgh to Inverness with a stop at a whiskey distillery before a swim in Loch Ness. Oh my gosh it was so freezing that when I got out I felt a rush of heat as my blood was clearly rushing about my body to keep me warm. Pretty facinating! Had to be done! I was the first one in haha. I don’t think too many people were keen but I made the decision pretty fast. Another one of those one in a life time opportunities. After Inverness it was onto the Isle of Skye where we went to a Highland Games in Portree and saw some commonwealth athletes in action in kilts of course. The scenery was stunning. We drove down to Oban where we danced at a Caledh a traditional Scottish dance which was fun and imvolved getting stood on a few times. Down through Fort William and Sterling to see the William Wallace memorial and the battlefields of Bannockburn. So much history. Edinburgh was a highlight got to catch up with Jacque and did a little bit of city wandering. With the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival on it was a pretty good place to be! The fringe is an arts festival which takes out the month of August each year. It is know as a stage for comedians, musicians and actors to display there talents hoping to make it big. There are so many free events so its great if you just want to see some talent without a giant price tag it works for everyone. I was lucky enough to get tickets to the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo. I think that of all the shows I have seen in the past two year that it was defiantly one of the best. A music and dancing skeptical, fused with the sound of Bagpipes and so much military precision. Just a marvel to see. Wonderful to see Jacque and have a good catch up.
It was great to attend my first English / Scottish wedding in Worthing. Emily and Frank have been such amazing friends to me over the past year and it was so amazing to be apart of their big day. I lived with them in Auckland back in 2009 and we have been good friends since.
My second trip to Italy was a highlight of my summer mainly because of of the sunshine. I had such a blast in Ireland and Scotland but there was a definate lack of sunshine! Steeping off the plane after landing in Rome the rush of heat in the air was awesome! Rome was a great city to explore. The hostel I stayed at there were so many other travelling by themselves so we all congregated and I ended up hanging out with some really cool people over the three days I was in the city. Exploring the city was incredible. There is so much to see and do in Rome and being in a city that is so historical was fantastic. St Peters Basilica and the Vatican City were amazing. The Sistine Chapel was magnificent even though there were way to many people squashed in a reasonably large room looking at the ceiling. The Roman Imperial Forum with ruins dating back to before Christ and the impressiveness of the Colouseum make you feel like you should be dressed in a toga. The fountains that adorn the city were so grand in scale and were beautifully lit up and were someone ethereal at night. The food was fabulous. Pasta, pizza, gelato and tasting local wine. Just fantastic.
I caught a train and headed north from Rome to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre can be translated to “5 Villages”. These five villages have been established on the coast nestled amongst cliffs. You can train between them or you can walk along a beautiful coastal track. We stayed in Riomaggorie and walked the track between Monterosso and Vernassa. Then walked from Vernazza to Corniglia. I spent three wonderful days there with Sarah, Ally and Kirsten. It was so awesome to swim in the ocean for the first time in ages and it was a lot warmer than Lochness! We tried a lot of amazing italian food and celebrated Sarah’s birthday with incredible sea views and a romantic sunset. So relaxing and the perfect end to a great summer holiday.
When I was in Rome I noticed that I was not as tired as I had been on other trips. I am finally feeling like i’m getting my fitness back. Walking around for hours on end is becoming easier and I feel like I have more energy. It’s a breakthrough because I have felt so flat for awhile. Just as well because I will be doing a full marathon at the end of this month. I did the half last year the day after my 4th round of chemo. The Shine night time marathon is in aid of Cancer Research UK and in my case spreading awareness for breast cancer. I am feeling pretty lucky that I have managed to con three other amazing people to join me on a 42km walk! Emily, Kirsten and Sarah it’s going to be such a wonderful evening. It will definitely be full of banter and the attention we get should be up there as we will be sporting boob costumes thanks to Coppafeel! Can’t wait. Thanks to all of you have donated so far. Here is the link to my fundraising page https://www.justgiving.com/wellerjess2014 should you wish to make a donation. Need to do more walks and take advantage of the nice weather that is still here in London. My hair is growing back pretty fast too. It is starting to have a bit of a mind of it’s own and morning hair is defiantly out of control!
Over the next couple of months I will be doing more volunteering for Coppafeel! and I am looking forward to attending so Breast Cancer events. I have recently been awarded a registration, travel and accomodation grant from the European School of Oncology to attend a Breast Cancer in Young Women Conference in Dublin in November. I’ll be attending as a Patient Advocate and Educator which I am so excited about. There are so many amazing things going on over on this side of the world and I want to get as much information and build up as many resources as I can to take back to New Zealand. Breast Cancer Care which is one of the bigger breast cancer charities here in the UK holds weekend events that are specifically for young women who have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the last three years. The event runs awesome work shops and seminars with all accommodation and food provided to all attendees. I will be going to one in Bristol in November. Excited!
I go back to work tomorrow so enjoying the last day of couch time! Looking forward to a big training walk this arvo too. I am now living in South London in Clapham. Housesitting and looking after two very cute cats. Will be here till mid November. So glad to not be paying any rent!
I hope this update finds you all well, sending warm fuzzies from London.
Love Jess xxx