Why I left my phone in the hotel room and went for a run instead

We celebrate our wedding anniversary annually with a trip away. Away from work commitments, household chores, and the noise that drowns out our lives. We try get away from it all.

This year, we couldn’t have picked a more perfect destination than Club Med Bintan Island, tucked away off the coast of Singapore.

The view over the pool area from reception

It was an absolute paradise! The food, the drinks, the people…

There are x4 things I did that made it even more blissful and ensured that I enjoyed each and every minute on the island.

1. I locked my cellphone away in the hotel room safe everyday. For someone like me to not have my phone constantly with me was hard! But when I lay on the deck chair overlooking the ocean, I saw for myself just how obsessed people are with getting that perfect photo, taking pics of their food or simply seeing their heads facing down staring at their screens when in fact there was such beautiful scenery all around us.

I don’t have many photos of the holiday but what I did come back with are hundreds of conversations between Karl and myself. We spoke. A lot. And I switched off. I detoxed digitally and it felt good not exposing myself to all the hatred and anger that exists on social media.

2. I ran. In fact we must’ve run almost every single day on the island. The humidity at 8am did not stop us either. You kinda think that on holiday, you should take a break from exercise but we loved the fact that we had time to run whenever we wanted to! And to explore different routes and pathways around the resort. Yes, so I did get lost on my first run. I blame the Club Med chief of the village who claimed the distance around the club was 4kms. It was actually 8kms! Pffft, non-runners!

I was not mentally prepared for the uphills and humidity on my first day of running. But once I knew the route, it was just me (and the monkeys) on a road surrounded by palm trees and lush vegetation, next to a beautiful golf course with the piercing sound of the Cicada bug, apparently the loudest insect, zinging in my ears. Bliss!

This naughty little bugger made off with my running cap that was drying out on the balcony!

3. I ate everything and more on my plate. We diet way too much. We have become so obsessed with our Banting / low carb / paleo / weightless / weight watchers / Sleek geek / plant-based eating schemes that we’ve forgotten to find joy in actually eating something that tastes really delicious! I ate bowls of pasta, ice-cream, fried rice, curries! I ordered cocktails at the pool. I lived! And the damage was not as bad as I had imagined! I still have clothes which fit. LOL

Food food and even more food!

I didn’t dish up massive portions but I made sure I tasted as much as I could – from spicy Korean dishes, to Indonesian crab and lots and lots of fried rice.

4. I swam in the sea! You heard right! I swam sometimes three or four times in the same afternoon. The sea water was as like warm bath water and there were very few waves. If you looked down at your feet, the water was so clear, you could spot a fish or two dashing through your legs every now and then. Freaky!

I put my fear of the sea aside and not only swam in the sea but jumped on a boat to be led out to the waters to go snorkeling. With a mask covering my face and looking down onto the most beautiful coral reefs, a sea turtle swam passed me! My heart! And then yes, I gulped down a huge mouthful of sea water in all my excitement!

Here’s a couple of photos I did manage to take which gives you a sense of just how beautiful Bintan Island is…

Walkways through the resort which never felt busy or overcrowded.

We had a choice of sitting around the pool or lying on deck chairs staring into the ocean.

Lazy strolls along the beach.

Just couldn’t resist this photo opportunity.

The ‘B’ is actually me, not Bintan 😉

In his element!

No make-up, sticky sun creamed body, cocktail in hand.

Full body massages on beds overlooking the ocean.

Thank you for a wonderful holiday KK!

That time of year again

The change in season is never more evident than when we return home from our Easter holiday. The yearly trek down to Cape Town to run the Two Oceans is the first time I’m packing in warmer jackets and closed shoes, knowing that evenings are a lot cooler. And by the time we fly home, everything is suddenly duller. There’s a fresh chill in the air, the sun sets earlier and unless you head out for your afternoon run before 17:30, you can forget about finishing in the light.

Brenaissance

Wine and pizza pairing at the Brenaissance Wine Farm on the day we landed. I was already feeling chilly & whipped out my puffer.

We did manage to soak up a few rays down in Cape Town. Truth be told, we must be getting older because we preferred to lie around at the pool at the hotel instead of heading down to Clifton 4th beach.

12apostlespool

Calm & relaxing. Only realized that my toenails are painted blue by pure coincidence – Thank you Monika & Lemonade.

KK gets terrible cabin fever and so we decided one morning to hike up the mountain. It wasn’t as easy as we thought. The fires had destroyed a lot of the vegetation and so the path wasn’t visible. It turned into quite a serious hike, right up KK’s alley! But the views from the top were amazing!

I was left with mixed feelings about Cape Town’s drought situation. There’s definitely awareness of it up in Jo’burg and we packed in wet wipes, expecting the worst. But I didn’t get a sense of the seriousness whilst down in Cape Town. The hotel only had a few signs around, but no clear instructions on what I was expected to do with the water in the bucket after I had showered.

The concierge claimed it wasn’t an issue and would only hit Cape Town in 2019. The toilets at the V&A Waterfront had a small sticker above the loo saying, “This toilet uses grey water.” So does that mean I flush after my wee or not?

The great thing about holidays in Cape Town are definitely the late sunsets! It was 19:00 and the sun was just setting over the ocean. It was refreshing to stop and take it in. We also scored with no wind this year! The wind and I are not big friends and that nasty South Easter can upset my entire day.

cape town sunsets

I must confess that I did have two chocolate croissants, one after the other, at breakfast on our last morning in Cape Town. It was glorious! I had been very good the entire weekend – no wine, lots of protein, zero Easter eggs (liar) and a salad here & there for lunch. But coming back to Jo’burg, I have a new mindset & have reset my goals:

  1. Running: I will be relooking my running goals. I’m already eyeing RAC 10km in May. But for now, I am hoping for more runs, less mileage. Going for regular 4km runs after work (before that Winter sun sets) instead of thinking that I need to run 10s and 21s all the time. That will come, but not for now.
  2. Weight: Call it “the 40s midlife crisis” or blame it on my running injury excuses, but something has gone seriously wrong in my head & I have lost control over food. Sounds quite dramatic, I know! I’ve been to see another dietician. I’ll save it for another blog post, but while eating Pronutro and rice cakes works amazingly for some, it didn’t for me. So I found someone who is Banting / LCHF / Keto / Plant based pro. My gut feel is that this way of eating suits me. It’s worked before. It’s my head I need to fix first.

There’s another long weekend coming up at the end of April and then we have that long stretch into Winter. Chilly, dark morning runs. Battling the traffic to get home from work early enough to run. The streets lined with an array of beautiful hues of brown and orange leaves that crunch under your feet. I’m ready for you Winter.

 

Picnic for the soul 

During March, KK’s Comrades training was at its peak. Waking up at 4am, running 100km’s a week, he was exhausted. So I suggested to him that instead of wasting the March public holiday, that perhaps we should go for a picnic somewhere & spend some time together “chillaxing”.

My idea was loading our straw basket with some cut up vienna sausages, blocks of cheese and packets of chips. But when I woke up that morning, he said, “Dress comfy, we’re going for a picnic. It’s a surprise!”

We took a leisurely drive out to Magaliesburg and I kept wanting to stop and take photos of the fields of cosmos that greeted us on our trip.

Cosmos flower in bloomcosmos flowers in bloomWe finally arrived at our destination. The Budmarsh Private Lodge, tucked away in the heart of the Magaliesburg mountains.

Budmarsh Private LodgeKK had pre-ordered our picnic basket so the only thing required from us was to decide on drinks and select a spot around the grounds to have our picnic. Mmm, that beautiful gigantic tree or that sunny chair next to the gentle flowing stream?

It was so quiet! Our voices seemed to pierce the silence that engulfed us. We tucked into the food immediately! It was delicious! With full bellies, we lay back and dozed off…

It was the perfect day. KK has been doing such intense training for Comrades so the day “off” allowed him to relax and sleep, guilt free.

I took a stroll along the little stream next to the house and tried to get the ducks to come say hello. But I was full of thoughts and allowed the beauty of the surroundings to speak to me. The only ones who did come bounding by to say hi (and possibly steal whatever was left in the basket) were two adorable basset hounds. Scrumptious food, wine, warm sun, overly-friendly dogs… I was officially in my element!

There are a couple of public holidays in South Africa coming up. If you haven’t yet decided what to do, consider driving out somewhere unknown and escaping the city. It doesn’t have to be a picnic. It doesn’t even need to be a public holiday. But it’s the silence and time away from the daily chores and routine that allows your body and soul to recharge.

And yes, that includes runners. Be kind to your body. Take some time to rest!

It takes a little bit of veldskool to find yourself again

It was a last minute invite from our friends, Dan & Linda, which saw us packing our bags and heading to the majestic Drakensberg mountains for the long weekend. KK and I always promise to make time for shorter weekend getaways but land up never getting around to organising them.

I knew that the weather would be chilly but somehow I still didn’t pack enough warm clothes. I ditched my warm puffer jacket at the last minute and regretted it the first afternoon when we were sitting outside having sun downers. As that sun dipped behind the mountain, the temperature dropped very low. Brrr!Drakensberg Sports Resort sun setting

It reminded me of my old veldskool trips where we would be bussed up in the middle of winter to Pilgrim’s Rest in Mpumalanga to sleep in rows in army tents in the pitch dark. I remember not taking enough warm clothes with me then and having to borrow my friend Vicky’s track suit top. I also remember my takkie slipping off my foot during the obstacle course and disappearing into the mud. It was my only pair of shoes. It sounds cruel when I write about it, but trust me, these were the best of times growing up!

But I digress..Drakensberg sports resort

Cuddled up in fleecy blankets with glasses of wine in front of the log fire was exactly what I needed after a few weeks of hectic work pressure. I had been working 12 hour shifts and hadn’t made time for a run for over 5 weeks. My body felt the effects.

So I let go… I over ate. I over slept. I drank too much wine and allowed the beautiful mountains to engulf me. It felt like one huge hug. My favourite was the Village Bakery which was overflowing with the most divine baked goods! Of course, I had to have my favourite… a jam donut!Village Bakery Drakensberg

On the Sunday we managed to visit the Falcon Ridge Bird Sanctuary for a show. If you go to the ‘Berg, add it to your itinerary. It’s an amazing place and the show is full of snippets of info on these wonderful birds. This is Dan and Linda saying hello to the fastest bird on earth, the Peregrine Falcon.Dan and Linda Falcon Ridge Drakensberg show Falcon Ridge Drakensberg Vultures Drakensberg Falcon Ridge

As we drove home, I had already mentally re-set my goals. I had refreshed, recharged and realised what I needed to do to get back the balance I had somehow lost. What helped was this view…Drakensberg views Sunrise over the Drakensberg mountains

A sentence out of a blog post by a friend hit home. It said, “You’ve been gone so long from all that you know.” Sometimes you have to leave, to come back and find yourself.

Last week, I went back to track. I made the Monday and Wednesday session. It felt so good! And I have my first trail run coming up.

Thanks Dan & Linda for a fab weekend!