The Mood-booster Bella

You’ve heard the saying ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’, but I’ve found a better saying – ‘a dog is everyone’s best friend.’

Bella has come to stay with me in York this week as I am in the flat on my own. My best friends and flat mates have gone home or gone on holiday for the Easter holidays. But, I decided to stay in York as I know I have too many distractions back home – ie an 8 month old puppy who loves to sing and moan!

Bella admiring York’s sunrise

I’m currently writing my final assignments: my research project (dissertation) and my philosophy for teaching. I’m coming towards the end of my university experience and I don’t really know how I feel about it! I’m excited to leave and start a new chapter of my life, but at the same time I want to stay a student and have little responsibility and lots of spare time forever 😂

With deadlines lingering, my stress levels have peaked to the max. I’m not someone who can focus or concentrate on something when I’ve got so much rushing around in my head. Ironically, it is Stress Awareness Month this April. So, I’ve had to find ways to help with all the rushing around in my head and thought I’d share them.

How I deal with Stress:

1. Writing my worries down in a notebook and keeping a diary. This helps as writing them down, I kind of feel that I don’t have them in my head anymore; they’re on paper. This doesn’t always work, but currently it is as if I think about a worry, I kind of say to myself – don’t worry about that now, you won’t forget what you’ve to do and how to remediate the worry. I sometimes write solutions to my stresses – there is always something that can be done about a stressful situation.

2. Increasing physical activity. I have taken up running as of the first of April and it has made me feel so much better! I feel fitter, and my outlook on life has changed. When I’m running, I forget about any worries and all I focus on is my breathing and not falling over! Exercise is also encouraging weight loss and I am eating healthier which all links into feeling better. (I did have takeaway on Saturday though – don’t tell anyone)

3. Don’t bottle it up – talk! I don’t know how many times I’ve rang my mum and just let it all out, tears and all. After every conversation, I feel so much better. Just getting it off my chest and having someone there listening always helps. Having someone say – Emily keep going, uni will all be over soon.

If you haven’t anyone to talk to, there are plenty of amazing websites out there to help. Mind, The Samaritans, Rethink

4. Managing my time. Every morning, I write a list of what I want to have done by today. I write them in order of priority and put things in that are easy, such as walk Bella, get a drink, have lunch. This is so I can tick it off and feel as if my list is going down! But don’t feel disheartened if you don’t get it all done, there’s still time and put that to the priority for the next day.

5. Having my furry friend around🐾

Enjoying that grass Bella?

Before having a dog, when I’d hear someone say that their dog was their best friend, I used to think – how? But now, I 100% know what they mean. I’m currently sat watching Julia Bradbury – Australia with Bella curled up on my right, and yes we are having a spoon. Beats Jack! And just having her there helps keep me calm and can ease my stress levels.

Animals, dogs and cats in particular, can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness and encourage exercise and allow the happy hormones to start flowing. I’ve gained a new running buddy for the week. Having Bella has given me more of a reason to get up that little bit earlier to go for a run. So far, together Bella and I have ran about 20km. She’s such a motivator, running ahead but then stopping to turn around and look back at me. I don’t know if it’s her looking out for me or thinking, bloody hurry up woman!

Bella has slept all day (a dogs life eh) which has let me crack on with my dissertation. But every now and then I get a head rest against me, she’s so loving. Studies have shown that the touch of an animal, a cuddle or by stroking them can lower blood pressure and can help you feel calmer and less stressed. I think this is why I’ve been able to get on and focus more than usual. A healthier mind and heart whilst having Bella around.

Out on our run!

It had been in the pipeline for a month or so that I was to go and meet with a few other girls from Instagram. I just got a message one day from one of the girls, who had made a group chat, about meeting up one day. We were all from Yorkshire and loved the outdoors and photography. We had so much in common. So, it came around for us to meet. We met in Northallerton at the Joe Cornish tea room (amazing brownies and dog friendly). Bella took her first train journey! I’m a sociable person, 100% but god i was nervous! Nervous but excited! I had Bella there to calm my nerves and she took my mind off it on the train! We got there and bloody hell, I have never realised how much I talk when I’m nervous. I literally never shut up, I bet the girls were thinking omg she is so loud and went home with a headache!

Bella and I on the train! I think she was happy!

It think so many people take animals for granted. Whether that’s dogs, cats or anything bigger or smaller, has 4 legs, 2 legs or just fins. But they are such special creatures that need to be cherished. They can help in so many ways. You see the incredible work of therapy dogs, guide dogs, mountain rescue and assistance dogs all have an incredible role in helping us humans. Every animal has its unique qualities and they need to be admired for the work they do, naturally. (Do stay away from cassowaries though, they’re hella dangerous and don’t appreciate being stroked)

So grateful for this one!

Tour around Treasurer’s House, York

Seen as it was a nice day and Jack and I are National Trust members, we walked into York city centre and visited the Treasurer’s House. The building was originally built for Treasurers of York Minster and then was owned by a wealthy collector until 1930. Then he kindly gave it to the National Trust as he moved down to Somerset. 

The Treasurer’s House is located just behind York Minster. It is owned by the National Trust so it is free to enter for members. It is around £9 for an adults admission and around £4 for a child.

Today was its first day open after it has been closed for the winter. As you walk up to the house, the gardens are so well looked after and are pristine. The Treasurer’s House is deemed to be one of the most haunted houses in York. This was after the last owner, Frank Green, before he gave it to the National Trust, said he’d haunt the house if his furniture was moved!

We walked into the house and we went into the first room on the left. I can’t remember what the room was called but the walls were painted bright green. The tour guide said that it was of no significance that the last owner’s last name was Green. In this room, there were medieval chairs which looked back into the front garden of the house.

We moved onto the ‘William and Mary staircase’. This staircase had four large paintings of some people who I am guessing were of wealth. One thing the brilliant guides were saying was that Frank Green bought the items in his house for the way they looked, not for who they were. So, they are still figuring out who and how old they are to this day.

In the ‘Court Room’, receiving its name as it looks out onto the courtyard, there was an intriguing three-decked battleship. This was one of the best things to see in the house. It was made by French prisoners, down in the Portsmouth area, at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. It is made out of animal bone and whale bone, but the attention to detail is incredible! They had to remaster the flags and the string work holding the masts up, but the original was supposedly made out of hair. Captains would pay the prisoners to make models of their ships. This would earn the prisoners money to get better food to eat. Green had this cabinet made to protect this beautiful piece of art, but nobody knows that ship they had recreated.

Also in the Court Room is a portrait of two sisters. It has been found to be a painting by a Dutch artist. The tour guide told Jack and I that the style of painting is a little different. The artist painted the bodies and the hats first, and then paints the faces in. It looks so peculiar, and I can’t say the children look happy!

Portrait of two children

Heading upstairs, you go into what is called the Tapestry Room. This room has two large pieces of tapestry hanging on the walls. In this room, there is one of the earliest maps of York. It can be recognised as some of the street names are still the same and you can see the streets next to the river.

Heading up stairs
Tapestry Room

Also in the Treasurer’s House, there were a couple of royal visits. Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited as then Prince and Princess of Wales, alongside their daughter Princess Victoria. This was how three of the rooms were named, the King’s room, Queen’s room and Princess Victoria’s room. All of these rooms had unique colours and designs. Princess Victoria’s room was green with her lozenge coat of arms above the bed. It was not a shield as she was not married at the time. Then in the Queen’s room, there were a beautiful pair of ebony and brass dressers. In the King’s room, I cannot say I like the décor or the feel of this room. This was where Frank Green slept when he stayed at the house but there was a cold feeling in this room. There is a bedspread from the Queen Anne period, with a pattern of butterflies and insects on. This bedspread is really delicate to light and temperature so it has to be looked after very carefully.

Finally, downstairs near the café area, there is a cellar which is supposedly haunted. There was a man many years ago who was working down in the cellar and he heard some strange noises. Then all of a sudden, he saw a Roman soldier and then more appeared. The house is supposedly built on top of a Roman road, this could explain why Roman’s came to see him! I would be so scared! You can only go down there with a guide, I wonder why…..

Roman ghost cellar 👻

The people who work/volunteer at the Treasurer’s House are so knowledgeable and can answer lots of questions about the house and its content! I would highly recommend visiting here, if you have a spare couple of hours in the centre of York and can face one of the most haunted buildings in this city!

A day trip to Rottnest Island

Australia is such a fantastic place. I love it, but I especially love Western Australia. The beaches, the people and most importantly, the wild roaming animals. There is an awful lot to do in Western Australia, but I would highly recommend going to Rottnest Island on your travels.

Rottnest Island is well and truly a MUST to visit if you are over Perth way. Rottnest Island is situated to the west of the port city Fremantle, Western Australia. It is home to around 300 people and more importantly, home to between 8000-12000 quokkas. What is a quokka? I thought that too. A quokka is a small marsupial which is native to Rottnest Island. They can only be found on Rottnest Island and are deemed to be the happiest animals in the world. This is because of the famous ‘quokka selfie’ which can be taken, if you are lucky enough to capture it!

We caught the Rottnest Express ferry from Fremantle to the island. We were there fairly early in the morning so we caught the first crossing. It was a choppy one but luckily, it didn’t last too long. My brother lives in Perth and like I’ve mentioned in blogs prior, he’s ultra-fit and into his sports – so he was telling us that there is a Rottnest Channel Swim. This is an annual event which has people cross the ocean from Cottesloe Beach to Rottnest. Just from being sat on the boat, I could really appreciate how difficult that swim must be! We arrived on Rottnest Island after about 25 mins on the ferry, so it was a quick-ish crossing. Any longer and I bet Mum would have been sick.

Rottnest Express allow hiring of bikes so, we hired bikes for all three of us. This was hilarious as my Mum had not ridden a bike in years! It took her about 20 mins to figure out how to coordinate with the bike. Steven was very good at helping her, I just sat back and laughed. It was too funny (sorry Mum).

Mum and Steven on their bikes.
Steve and his mates

We set off on our bike ride of the island but we kept having to stop every 5 minutes because I would see a cute little quokka hidden in the shrubs, and I wanted to get the best shot! I didn’t realise that we would see so many of them on the rest of the ride, so I was very snap happy in the first 1 hour of being on the island. I didn’t know that better opportunities would arise later in the day.

I just couldn’t help myself!
Got to get the best angle eh?

In the end, we made to the first beach on our tour and it was no disappointment. It was absolutely stunning. You could see the silhouette of Perth’s skyline in the distance through the morning mist. We had birds flying and tweeting above, you could here the waves rolling upon the sand and you could feel the sand between your toes. If I could pitch up a tent here and stay there forever, I would.

Perth’s skyline from Rottnest Island.

As we rode around the island, the views were just unreal. I did not realise how beautiful our planet is. Around the island, there are a number of shipwrecks. A few of these are a hotspot for snorkelling. There was one called ‘the Shark wreck’ which was close to the beach at Henrietta Rocks. This one is about a 50m swim to get to, but is classed as the ‘easiest’ of shipwrecks to snorkel around with lots of different fish to see.

The clouds started to appear which made us worried as we were on bikes and there weren’t exactly many buildings to shelter under! We went in August, which is Western Australia’s winter, so we had prepared (ish) for rain. We did hope that it would hold off until we went home!

We rode around the island some more and found ourselves at a ‘Sanctuary Zone, Parker Point’. This bay allows you to go snorkelling and swimming, but not fish. This area is conserving the Rock Lobster. The Rock Lobster take extremely long to grow, and take 5 years to grow to maturity. Some of the ‘jumbo’ lobster’s can be up to 30 years old. I didn’t even know they could live that long!

There was also an Osprey’s nest on a huge rock out to see. I could not believe my eyes! There was a parent Osprey with its baby! It was protecting its baby by keeping guard, and every now and then the baby’s head would pop up. The nest was remote as it was out at sea, keeping it safe.

Around we went a little bit more, passing beaches with brilliant names… The City of York, Little Armstrong Bay, Parakeet Bay and Geordie Bay. They are only a few of the great names. We also biked past the Wadjemup Lighthouse. In Western Australia, the suffix ‘up’ is found in many towns or cities – /up/ means ‘place of’ in Indigenous Australian language. Before we stopped off to grab some cake, we biked past ‘Pink Lake’. This lake, in summer is bright pink due to the high levels of salt. However, when we were there it only had a tint of pink. It would be great to see in summer, might just have to take a trip back!

Pink Lake

We finally made it all around the island. It took us a full day with plenty of stops for photo opportunities and beach visits! We ended our day by doing what I do best, eating cake and drinking coffee! Around the café and a couple of shops, it was full of quokkas! Baby ones and adult ones. It was incredible to see how friendly and tame they are and will come and sit near you. Whilst we were there, there was a baby in the pouch of its mummy! This was an amazing experience as we fed the mum leaves and she shared it with the baby!

And finally, the moment I had been wanting all day! I got a quokka selfie, can you see why they are called the happiest animal in the world?!

I would definitely recommend exploring Rottnest Island, to see the beautiful beaches, wildlife, lakes and quokkas!

Pinch, punch, it’s first of the month

First of all, how quickly has April come around? This year is flying by, and it is scary. Adulting is coming too quickly. I wonder if I could do a Masters to be a student for another year?! Just kidding, I hate and can’t write assignments for the life of me.

Seen as I went back to university this morning, I thought ‘start as I mean to go on’. So, my alarm was set for 7:00am and I was going to get up and go for a run. Well, I snoozed it a few times and eventually got out of bed at 8:30am. Great start. Never the less, I put my running stuff on and set out for a nice, leisurely jog. Well, it turned into more of a half jog, half power walk. I was absolutely knick-knacked and looked like s***. I apologise to anyone who saw me attempting to run, I can imagine it not being a pretty sight. Kudos to marathon runners and anyone who can run any distance without stopping. I think I managed 1.5km without stopping, the rest of it was – run a bit, walk a bit (and breath) and repeat.

I’m not sure what’s happened to my eye. It looks like I’ve been stung, but really it is just my ‘this is too early face’

I ended up going for 4km and by this time, York had well and truly woken up and come alive. So many people were coming into York for either work or a day out, so the traffic was bad and was at a standstill. The city centre had started to grow in population and everyone was going about starting their day. The tourists had all flown in and it was a nightmare on Lendal Bridge, selfie stick after selfie stick. I didn’t even know they still were around.

The River Ouse
What a place to live!
York Minster Gardens

After I attempted to run, I strolled back to my flat. As I was doing this, an old lady (who was actually jogging) over took me. I thought sod this. So I put a little bit of a spring in my step which turned into a ‘light jog’. I was not having a 70 year old show me up. Even though she did because I did not last long with the ‘light jog’.

It was finally time to get back to go uni to go in for a couple of hours. Having not been there since January, it was a weird feeling being back. I miss my little class from placement, but love the freedom of not having to worry about planning, marking etc. Our seminar was information about our dissertation, the thing I have been dreading for months. I hate assignment writing, I just can’t do it! The sooner it’s all done, the better! I’ve got such a positive mindset, i know, slap my hand.. I do love my little uni though, I will miss being a student there and living in York.

York St John University

Hopefully, I’ll continue to go out for my little ‘jog’ and hopefully it will turn into a jog! Keep posted for updates!

Walking in the Julian Alps to Mount Triglav

What an adventure climbing the highest peak in Slovenia, Mount Triglav was..

My brother text me one day, saying ‘Shall we climb Mount Triglav when we’re in Slovenia?’. My first thought was, not a chance! I can not climb a hill, never mind a mountain. But, I told him I’d think a about it. The closer it got to our trip to Lake Bled, I was actually warming to the idea. More to the fact of thinking of the amazing pictures I will get with my newly bought camera. So, I said to my brother ‘Can we climb the mountain?’. My brother is an ultra-fit guy who does triathlons for fun (strange boy). He’d find it a doddle, but I was determined to conquer a challenge I thought I could never do.

We set off on our journey to the Krma Valley at 5:45am, this was where took our first steps on what is going to be a very long day. There had to be a group of 4 walking, so Steven and I were grouped with a Belgian couple called Pierre and Emily. They were both in the military and Pierre had trekked through the Amazon Rainforest for a mission. So, I thought oh great, here’s unfit me, my ultra-fit brother and now an ultra-fit couple climbing a mountain. What could go wrong?!

As we were walking, the sun was starting to rise. This made the mountains shine and the trees glisten. Such a beautifully inspiring view ahead and behind us. Even though my legs were already shaking at approx. 500m above sea level, I could not wait to keep hiking through the tall trees and the valley. Mainly because I had no choice as I couldn’t stop, and the views in front were so intriguing.

We reached around 1200m at around 7:30am for our breakfast stop at a Shepherd’s hut. We were surrounded by cattle with bells around their neck. The moment was just surreal. The sun bursting through the tall pine trees onto us. We looked up to where we had to go and we saw the shepherd moving the cattle down from the hill. I do not envy his job, but I did envy the views from his house.

So, we kept going. Our brilliant guide Ziga, at Life Adventures Bled, knew the way like the back of his hand. He climbs Triglav around 3 times a week. Hats off to the man. After what seemed to be an age of climbing up steep scree slopes, we finally reached the Mountain Hut. I could not wait to eat and go to the toilet! We demolished some well-earned beef goulash. It was the best thing I have ever tasted. We bumped into some Scots, who had been up to the summit for sunrise. The pictures they had took were stunning.

After our dinner and a toilet break, we put on our harnesses and helmets to get on our way to the summit. To reach the summit of Mount Triglav, you have to go ‘via ferrata’. This means ‘iron path’ in Italian so we had to attach ourselves to the iron wire to start our 1950m vertical climb. This was the scariest and most challenging part of the hike. Vertigo and adrenaline kicked in. I ended up being attached to Ziga by a long rope as my hands and legs were shaking so bad!

We were passing gravestones as were going up, this was really inspiring (not!) There were sheer drops either side of the path. There was only enough room for one person on the arete at a time, so you had to communicate with the person coming down if you were going to stop or they were. There was a slight traffic jam on the via ferrata, this allowed time for me to calm down and actually take in the scenes around me. It was breath taking. All of a sudden, I forgot the pain in my legs and realise how far we’d come. This inspired me and I was even more determined to get to the top. It was so close.

Our legs kept climbing for around an hour and a half. We finally could see the summit. The relief of reaching the summit was incredible. I was so proud of everyone and super proud of myself. I am not someone who is proud of myself often, but this was a huge achievement. I’d actually climbed a mountain of 2894m. You could see for miles and miles looking over the Julian Alps. It was an absolute beauty of a mountain. We finally got to touch the summit hut after people had finished the Slovenian tradition. The locals say ‘you are not a true Slovenian if you have not had your bum smacked 5 times at the top of Triglav.’ I did wonder what was going on until Ziga informed us of the tradition😂. There was excitement, happiness and relief at the summit, aswell as a few sore bums.

Finally, it was time to head back down the mountain and the valley. This was tiring and demanding on the knees, but it was the best few hours of hiking as it reminded me of how far we’d come and what we had achieved! The sun was setting, golden hour had never been so beautiful. I did surf the scree a few times which sped things a little bit (but it hurt!). The beavers and deer had come out at the bottom of the valley. We finally reached the car and headed back to Bled for a well-deserved bath, pizza and Bled Cake!

Such a brilliant day walking in the Julian Alps and I won’t forget Mount Triglav in a while! The tour guide Ziga was amazing, his English and knowledge of the mountain was incredible.

Roseberry Topping

Todays adventures took us to Roseberry Topping, on the Cleveland Way in Redcar and Cleveland. It’s located at Great Ayton, the boyhood home of the great explorer, Captain Cook.

First of all, it seemed to take us ages to get to there! I’ve never seen Driffield and Malton so busy. With it being a beautiful weekend, everyone must have had the same idea. Driving through was an actual nightmare and with a dog that can be car sick, it wasn’t the greatest of rides. I ended up jumping in the back to sit with her.

We eventually reached Roseberry Topping thanks to Jack. It was so busy, we ended up parking on the roadside rather than where we normally park near the pub. This wasn’t a problem until you have a dog that pulls and can’t walk in a straight line..

We headed up the path to the Topping. The route was heaving! I have never seen so many people at the top and walking on the way. It was so lovely to see families out, friends together and all with their lovely dogs!

We decided to go a different way to avoid the crowds, so we took a right at the first gate and it took us up a steep hill to reach a lovely view facing the west of Roseberry Topping. There was a frame donated by the University of Huddersfield, National Trust and Grand Central which had Roseberry Topping in the centre.

Then walking round past the cottage and through the farm, seeing all the little newborn calves was lovely to see. Bella was eyeing up the cow having a drink from the trough, think she was jealous a little bit.

Roseberry Topping is such a beautiful place for all the family and for walkers of all ages. Everywhere you look is a new view of the Cleveland Way and it is so beautiful.

As we were coming down and coming towards the final gate, I asked Jack to put Bella on her lead and he said I had it. He’d left it on the top! So poor Jack had to carry Bella to the car. She was loving it, but she is a lump! Really, he should have ran back up to get it..😝

Roseberry Topping continues to be one of my favourite walks in the North East of England.