My first two months in Strasbourg

Wow, my first two months in Strasbourg have FLOWN! It’s amazing how settled you can become in eight weeks… London? Where? Did I actually live there for three years? Really??

Although, when I headed back there recently for a few days, it felt like I was just returning from a regular visit to see the man; the only difference being that I was staying at a hotel and not my cosy old East London share flat.

But back to my new hood! Here’s a little highlight reel.

I had the warmest welcome courtesy of my boyfriend’s mum, and I may have cried a bit when she gave me a big hug and welcomed me to my “new home in Alsace” with this amazing brunch spread.

French themed welcome brunch.jpg
French welcome brunch – dat cheese!

 

I’m taking French classes at the Universite Populaire, and unlike the classes I took in London, this course is virtually solely in French (duh) and the students don’t share a common language. Though when we’re REALLY stuck, most of us understand if the teacher switches to English to explain.

 

While my reading and comprehension is definitely improving – thanks also to reading children’s books – I’m not feeling overly confident trying to use French day-to-day, and know I need to be braver. However it’s tricky when my understanding is still so limited. If I throw out a sentence in French I usually don’t comprehend the reply (unless I’m in a store and can kind of guess). I feel like it’s a bit of a waste of everyone’s time so right now there’s lots of “Bonjour” and “Merci” .. and I don’t get much further before needing to sheepishly ask “en anglais s’il vous plaît?” Baby steps.

I joined a new BJJ club which is the same one that I have been visiting for the past two years. Everyone is really friendly, and learning jiu jitsu in French is easy in some ways, challenging in others. Of course it’s so visual which makes it easy, but while I now recognise the words for knee and foot for example I often miss if the instructor is saying like, “never do x this way.”

 

Infini Jiu Jitsu team 2016
Photo: Art of BJJ

I’m so grateful for training partners with the patience to explain things again to me in English.

I rode my first upside-down rollercoaster

 

Holy HECK, I was frantically thinking about how to get off Europa Park’s Blue Fire Megacoaster even as we were strapped in and making our way out of the loading bay. It was seriously OUT of my theme park ride comfort zone!

Europa Park is pretty amazing (in saying that I’ve never been to Disneyland), and if you’re ever in this part of the world it’s totally worth a visit (I found this article after our day there, which sums the place up nicely).

 

The park was decked out for Halloween when we went (with a crazy-huge number of pumpkins lining the walkways). I’ve never been one for the super thrillseeker rides but this time decided to push myself … I won’t lie, the recent tragedy at Dreamworld was playing on my mind a bit that day.

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Because it was still #Halloween at Europa-Park 👻

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I’m not working in my pajamas… every day

I knew when I first moved to Strasbourg that I couldn’t be working five days a week from our small apartment – I’d go a bit mad – so I joined a co-working office and for about €10 a day I can work in a really fun, open plan environment with a great bunch of people, and they have frequent four-legged visitors! Much cute!

 

I’m making new friends because again, I’d go a bit mad without my own circle here, so I joined Girl Gone International and went to my first catch up with them in my second week in town; a brunch and spa day, such bliss! As the name suggests, they’re (mostly) international gals who have found their way to Strasbourg for various reasons. A truly lovely, supportive group I’m so happy to be part of.

I’m getting Christmassy because how can I NOT when I’m living in the Capitale de Noël? Tree’s up, presents are mostly bought and Christmas markets visited, multiple times. It’s really a great time of year to be in Strasbourg.

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#Christmastree is up! 🎄

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It’s grading season once again

You know it’s the season for pretty coloured belts and shiny new stripes when your social feeds blow up with photos of said belts and stripes, and heartfelt posts about the BJJ ‘journey’, amazing coaches, teams, God and next chapters etc.

My own version of the above happened two months ago (early, since I was moving countries before the next Fight Zone grading). And while I mentioned it on Instagram and Twitter at the time I neglected to post about it on this frequently-neglected blog so, here tis:

Carlie Bonavia, Bruno Ferreira, Fightzone London

My third stripe!

Four years in the making, and my second stripe from Bruno Ferreira and Marco Canha. I was super chuffed and a tad emotional, obvs.

Carlie Bonavia and Bruno Ferreira, Fightzone London

I’ve posted before about my progression hang ups, and finally feeling like I could push them aside and just enjoy training without being all angsty. This stripe was such a surprise, and reinforced to me that I WILL get better, slowly but surely, one class at a time, and while having fun.

It was also a really nice way to say goodbye to a club that has been my home and family for three years. I’ll be visiting Fight Zone relatively often I’m sure but, I’m still sad to have left the morning crew and such great coaches.

Sending a big congrats to everyone receiving new belts and stripes this grading season!

Deep breath, dive in

I have been anticipating this move pretty much all year, ever since the man and I had a talk about where we’re heading, and I said I didn’t want to mark two years long distance. We wanted to be in the same place of course, the question was where we both wanted that ‘place’ to be, and what was feasible.

Much discussion ensued and now, two months shy of our two-year anniversary I’m relocating to France.

Who would have thought when I joined my girlfriends on a long weekend away to a city I’d never heard of, that I would end up returning so many times, let alone calling it home?

I have just under one week left in London, one more box to pack, only a handful more BJJ classes to attend and tube trips to take. I’ve been anticipating this move pretty much all year, but it still doesn’t feel like it’s actually happening. Surely it will soon?

London at night, London Eye and Big Ben

I am thinking about all the parts of this city I haven’t seen yet, the markets I haven’t visited, the ‘London bucket list’ I never got around to writing. But then, if I never got around to seeing and writing and doing all of these things, are they really that important to me?

Not right now, no.

What’s important is the guy waiting for me to join him in a town in eastern France, and for us to find out what happens next.

How I met my boyfriend

I’ve never written a post about it, but when Aftab put the call out for stories of “finding love whilst travelling” I thought why not tell the tale – nice and succinctly.  🙂  

Handsome much?

It’s at the below link if you’d like to read it, along with the lurve stories of a few other travel bloggers. Enjoy!

http://www.freshandfearless.co.uk/finding-love-travel

30 days of fitness – part 4

I definitely had higher expectations of myself at the start of this month, in setting my “exercise everyday” challenge. In hindsight, was it too ambitious? No. Was I just too busy? Maybe, not really? I had a good number of lazy days, that’s what happened basically. 

I am ending the month on the right note at least. Exercise ALL the remaining days until Malta! Unless I don’t..

Day 28: Not hungover per se, but definitely feeling the effects of a day in the sun with booze and not enough water.  After spending all day working from bed in my PJs, I got into my running gear and jogged around (some of) Victoria Park. Finished with sit ups and burpees at the outdoor gym.

Day 29: Monday BJJ with the morning crew. Best start to the week. After running yesterday I was even less bendy than usual, bit ouch, but an enjoyable ouch.

Day 30: Jose was all about the pad work in Muay Thai class this morning. Only 10 minutes of other cardio hell instead of the usual hour+. I got paired with a southpaw which, along with needing to remember some long-ish combos certainly got my brain firing.

30 days of fitness – part 3

Home stretch! 11 days until Malta!

Consistency has been lacking, but I head back to London from Strasbourg tonight, and I WILL smash the next week and a bit with some solid exercisy, I swear. My day summaries continue, starting with when I eventually arrived in Strasbourg..

Day 19: Plane. Delayed. Ugh. But it’s better than cancelled. It did mean that by the time I landed in Basel, got my luggage, and we drove the hour-and-a-bit to Strasbourg it was pushing 2am. Needless to say this Friday was an exercise write-off. Got my work day done and crashed.

Day 20: Special cuddle time has to count for something right? The boy and I did trek through Strasbourg Ikea and some other stores today so, I got moving if nothing else.

Day 21: To the lake! Oh my, how nice is a Summer sun with actual warmth behind it?! We spent a solid few hours at a lake near his house, did some swimming, got sunburnt – oops. I’m now rockin’ the lobster look.

Day 22: Evening BJJ! It was tough actually, I’m so used to training in the morning so I find it hard to fire up at night. But my face turned a gorgeous, sweaty shade of red, it blended with my sunburn nicely.

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Photo: art-of-bjj.com
It was super great to catch up with Marie-Laure again (now a purple belt!), she had her camera handy and took some candid photos. If you’re not following already, get over to her website and Instagram.

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Photo: art-of-bjj.com
Day 23: I ventured into downtown Strasbourg on my own, actually the first time I have done so since my first visit, which seems mad but I guess not so much when every trip here is to see my boyfriend/go places with him.

So anyway, walking counts? And can you believe… ANOTHER delayed flight  – this time back to London. Cue tears. There are always tears.

Day 24: Tired. Lacking sleep. Do not give two effs about exercise. Bed time.

Day 25: Feeling human! It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do. Up early and to Muay Thai class, really it’s 1.5 hours of cardio/circuit training with pad work, which I love. 

I got a shitty partner who kept rolling his eyes and giving me half-arsed pad holding. It was like he resented being paired with me. I got jack of the attitude and when I had the opportunity, asked the coach to change partners. Immediately new guy and I were in sync; pushing each other, shouting encouragement and holding the bloody pads correctly – it immediately made the session more enjoyable.

Day 26: Had to be at an offsite meeting bright and early today so morning gym didn’t happen, nor did anything in the evening. Hmmph. 

Day 27: No exercise, unless you count lugging three bottles of champagne to Ascot?? Had a fabulous day, won some pocket change and finally saw this iconic place. 

winning ticket at Ascot, King George weekend

30 days of fitness – part 2

“How long now until you’re at the beach?” My flatmate Viktor doesn’t read my blog but he knows ALL about my fitness challenge – mostly due to all the extra washing I’ve been doing. 20 days to go! I’ve had a few ‘nope’ days so far, and let’s be honest there’s probably a few more ahead, but I’m already exercising more frequently than usual so, winning right?

Day 13: Very much an Amsterdam recovery day – and by that I mean recovery from two big work days. I slept a lot, but I did muster the energy to do a hula hoop workout, which my neglected-of-late hoop was surely pleased about.

Day 14: Ran to Mile End Park for some hill sprints. No Matt to keep me going but, there were two other guys already there doing the same thing. I did more than I would have all on my own, simply because I would have felt silly starting after and finishing before them! Finished with some skipping and bootstrappers.

Day 15: Fightzone London has a new timetable! And there’s now an extra 7am BJJ class, so that’s how I started my working week.

I’m really excited to be able to train three times a week now at my favourite time of day. The gym has also expanded to upstairs meaning a third mat, and a weights room.

Day 16: So Muay Thai coach Jose was in punisher mode this morning; 1.5 hours of sprints, punching and kicking drills, squat-kicking, more running, dreaded burpees and more. And I managed to knock myself in the head with a 7kg medicine ball.. I’m good like that.

Day 17: Morning crew BJJ class FTW!

Day 18: Working from home day since I was heading to Strasbourg (via Basel) in the evening. Was a tad stressed and hadn’t finished packing fully, so was up early to do that, then left mid-afternoon for the long tube trek to Heathrow. Needless to say, the exercisy didn’t happen. Flight delay did though, annoyingly. Not overly long but, saw me arrive after midnight. Bleh!

British Airways flight ready to board at Heathrow Airport
Finally boarding. Lucky I love you, British Airways.

30 days of fitness

There’s nothing like an upcoming beach holiday to get you motivated! Do I care about being “bikini body ready?” Nope. But I DO want to feel comfortable getting about in next-to-nothing in Malta for two weeks, and right now I don’t.

So, here’s me holding myself to account; nothing is stopping me from making sure I get some kind of workout in for the next 30 days.

I’m also back on the MyFitnessPal app for good measure, it’s a pain, but tracking what I eat and inputting my exercise definitely helps me to keep it up.

Day 1: Morning Muay Thai class. 1.5 hours. Lots of pad combinations, short set of sprints at the end.

Day 2: BJJ with the morning crew. 30 mins drilling technique, 35 mins sparring rounds.

Day 3: Morning Muay Thai class. Jose began the class by asking if any of us were sick – then he proceeded to punish us with a crazy 1 hour 15 min workout. Timed pad combos broken up with burpees and sprints and squats and planks and other horrors. I dread how my body will feel tomorrow.

Day 4: Morning crew BJJ. As expected I woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a truck from yesterday’s session. 30 min drills, we had to stack each other and it’s hard for me on a normal day, but after a few days of exercise in a row my body is about as bendy as a steel rod. 30 mins rolling rounds, got my nose squished, a close-but-not-quite sub on Matt and now it’s off to work.

Day 5: TGIF! Had a much-needed sleep in after four early mornings in a row. Going to get my fitness on by walking home from my work in Holborn Circus. Takes about an hour, and my body wants something low impact today.

Update: Walking home successful, got a little wet (didn’t bring a brolly OR a weatherproof to work today, doh!). But I scored a rainbow for my troubles. 

Day 6: I would normally hill run with Matt but that didn’t happen, instead my friend Anthony was doing his practical assessment to be a Personal Trainer and asked if I could be his guinea pig – no worries! He passed with flying colours, and I worked up a sweat. 👍🏻

Day 7: There were a few activities I could have easily done today, but for stupid, mostly lazy reasons, I didn’t. Fail day. 

On a bright note I did catch up with an old friend, and I smashed out three freelance articles. 

Day 8: Another nope day. I even packed my Muay Thai gear for evening class, but tired and cranky won. 

Day 9: Back to it! Amazing how much better you feel after a good sleep. Just finished BJJ class with the morning crew. Didn’t get a sub but did have side control and mount on Pete for a solid time in rolling rounds. This rarely happens with anyone so, pretty happy. 

Day 10: Ashamed to say it was another nope day. Traveling for work, got to the hotel late and smashed a wheel of Dutch cheese instead of smashing out some sit-ups. 

Day 11: Well I didn’t pig on cheese today, but I didn’t work out either. We did a two-hour Amsterdam walking tour so I guess it wasn’t all meetings and work meals. 

Day 12: Got up early and took my skipping rope to Vondelpark for 30 mins of skipping and sprints. Feeling great for getting sweaty! 

What Brexit means for this Aussie in London

To be honest, who the heck knows.

I’ve had family and friends contacting me, asking whether I’ll be impacted (as I’m here on my EU passport) and if I’ll now need a visa.

As my Maltese citizenship is what allows me to live and work in the UK indefinitely, it clearly influenced my vote to remain in the European Union (I got to vote because I’m a Commonwealth citizen). I considered other arguments for and against, and I felt that it was far better in than out for Britain. The result, in case you’ve been living under a rock, ended up being 51.9% for Leave.

It was a sucky feeling the morning after. A “what on earth have you done, Britain?!” feeling. At work we expressed our disgruntlement, 59.9% of London voters wanted to remain. I am very aware though that as much as I can have my opinion on the Referendum and be disappointed, my ‘working knowledge’ of this country only goes back three years. And it’s London-centric. I don’t for a second claim to fully understand the wages, property and health services pressures being particularly felt by those in working class areas, how being part of the EU contributed and ultimately influenced their decision to want out.

What I DO know

  • The fact that I’m already in the UK means I’m unlikely to be affected by any changes to freedom of movement, which wouldn’t happen for at least two years anyway.
  • Australia appears eager to negotiate new trade and immigration deals with the UK – so ironically if the unlikely DOES happen and my Maltese passport suddenly limits me, my Australian passport may suddenly open doors (borders?).
  • There are a hell of a lot of unknowns. Formal Leave negotiations won’t begin until Britain activates Article 50 (IF it does?), and since it’s never been invoked before it’s going to be a new experience for everyone.

In the meantime, it’s life as usual for me in the UK.

 

 

 

 

Would you wear this while you roll?

So the RollTec Rashguard went live on Kickstarter today; “the world’s first wearable technology made for grapplers.” What do you think? For me, I think wearing a rashguard with a sensor in it when I roll would confirm what I already know; I spend waaaay too much time and energy trying to defend myself from under mount and side control!

Screenshot RollTech Rashguard Kickstarter page day 1

But I see how it could prove to be quite the motivator, and maybe even help me out of my long-term-white-belt funk.

I’m not really on the wearable tech-train (I don’t own an Apple watch or a Fitbit) but I DO like using the MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper apps on my iPhone. When I use them consistently they give me that nudge to stay on track with my good eating, or extend my park runs by just a little longer each time.

So, maybe wearing the RollTec Rashguard and seeing my position breakdowns (the four fundamentals) and roll timeline on the accompanying app will motivate me to break out of my usual routine?

Rolltech Rashguard position breakdown example

The app’s “suggested technique” videos are appealing, often I want to change things up on the mat, but am not quite sure what would make sense to try differently.

Some stand out points as I was reading through the Kickstarter info (there are loads of others):

  • A £68+ pledge ($99 USD) gets you the rashguard and sensor (with case) – more than a standard rashguard price but you know, wearable tech
  • The rashguard can be worn whether you train with or without a Gi – that’s good if you’re like me, and don’t do much no-gi training
  • Removable, USB-rechargeable sensor in a protective case – but the padded pouch that you put the sensor in, is attached to the rashguard, so it’s not interchangeable if you don’t happen to like the rashguard or need a fresh one
  • 75%-80% motion detection accuracy
  • Only you have to wear the RollTec Rashguard, your partner doesn’t need to
  • Bluetooth range for the rashguard is about 30 feet – this might be an issue if you don’t keep your smartphone in the room with you when you train?

RollTech Rashguard

Am I going to order a RollTec Rashguard?

Undecided. Part of me is inclined to wait and see, and maybe jump in when they release version 2 which, I’d imagine, would likely have greater accuracy and added functionality. Then again, version 2 won’t happen if version 1 doesn’t, and it would be a shame not to see this ‘smart’ rashguard brought to life.

There are lower amounts you can pledge to show your support without buying the rashguard so, either way I’ll definitely be supporting it.

Watch the video and read about the RollTec Rashguard in full on Kickstarter

Check out the RollTec Grappling website