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lifeofmissb

The travel life & Adventures of me; Brooke. 30 something. Loves to Travel ✈️. Drink scotch. Eat good food. Workout.

Month

June 2014

The winner is Sydney Part 1

Sydney is a phenomenal city. That harbour. That bridge. The opera house, the rocks, the beaches …. I love this city & a couple of years ago I seriously considered moving here. I now know that whilst I love visiting it’s not really somewhere I could call home .

Nonetheless I’ve had some good times here. I normally visit once-twice a year for work. This time I’ve combined a little work and play as my little sister c has flown in ahead of a planned mini-reunion with some of the group we met onboard a top deck tour a few years ago in Europe. Based on this catch up I planned a work trip to coincide & it’s been really beneficial as my agents have all been quiet giving me the time to actually find out some decent intel & build those all important relationships.

Because of my great love for Sydney here’s my top 10 tips if you’re planning a trip one day:

1. Stay somewhere central & book well in advance. Coming from a hotelier background I can tell you now if you want a good rate in a good location book in advance. Everyone is moving away from last minute selling…. We aim to reward guests who book in advance! Ps. When it comes to major events like NYE or Christmas it’s best book months in advance. This time I stayed at The Menzies – it’s right opposite Wynard train station and walking distance to the rocks, circular quay (opera house) and Pitt St Mall (major shopping hub).

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2. Opal cards & public transport
Not as good as the UK tube, Sydney public transport does alright & is relatively easy to get around on. The best option is to go online a month before you arrive and order yourself an opal card. Melbourne has the Myki card and Brisbane has the Go card… So of course to be different Sydney has the opal card…. Can anyone say national standard??
You can’t buy opal cards from an outlet – currently you have to register online. I’m hoping they change this fast as the cards are a great way to use all public transport (bus, train, ferry). You just load money up onto them at selected outlets (another roadblock – you can upload more money to your Myki & Go cards at a number of stations throughout the cities as well as other stand alone outlets) and swipe the card across the opal disc at the entrance to each transport method. Then you swipe again when you finish your journey at the appropriate opal disc. Much better than buying multiple single or daily tickets…. Of course if you’re planning on a return trip from a certain point that’s great as you can get a daily pass. I use public transport a lot when in Sydney and have always found it good . Of course leaving the station is when it gets tricky because then you have to rely on your own sense of direction – mine is so bad I managed to loop C and I all the way around a station up to the shopping precinct before I finally found where I was meant to be…. Bonus tip: always grab a map from hotel concierge or a visitor info centre to avoid unnecessary detours to Pitt St mall… Though I guess I was just following my nose for shopping.

3. Do have a drink at the opera bar.

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Night or day this bar at the foot of the famous Opera House has the best views over Sydney Harbour. A little touristy but equally loved by locals there’s the view, good food – pizza & snack size stuff but delish nonetheless, a huge array of beer/wine/cocktails/spirits/ciders and the non- alcoholic stuff for the fun police (or those under 18 yrs), and always a live band. Lionel Cole (yep he’s the great Nat King Cole’s nephew) played there yesterday … He’s just finished up as a finalist on the third au season of the voice.

4. BBQ king – it’ll change your life.

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I found BBQ king a little hole in the wall place in Chinatown over 10 years ago and I’ve been raving about their duck pancakes ever since. Little bite sized morsels of divine fatty duck, a dollop of sweet hoi sin sauce, with a sprig of spring onion all placed into a
little crepe style pancake …

Perfect for eating with your hands!

The service here is pretty hit and miss but for those pancakes I’ll put up with it …. I will give them that the food is delivered promptly (once you’ve got their attention and ordered).

5. Beaches – bondi, bronte, tamarama… North shore.
Sydney’s beaches are spectacular…Fact: pretty much all of Australia’s beaches are pretty magical, but you might say I’m bias. Bondi beach is the most famous of Sydney’s beaches and yes it’s amazing. Best of all it’s 100% free… No private beaches and other than the transport or parking fees it’s free. Take a picnic and watch the surf, flirt with the handsome life savers (they’ve got their own show here – Bondi Rescue), walk the 4-6 km Bondi to Coogee or Bondi to Bronte walk along the coastline track. I have a soft spot for Bronte and Tamarama as this is where a dear family friend Sam lives – high up in the cliff/hills overlooking this beautiful coastline. Sam was also a best friend of my beloved late uncle Bernie.

6. Best hostels.
If you’re travelling on the budget side of things don’t fear there’s some great hostels in Sydney: YHA, Bounce & Wakeup. The YHA is located in the heritage area of The Rocks. Bounce and Wakeup are both located just near central station and are both award winning heritage style buildings with full re-fits inside to make them modern. A variety of rooms are available from dorms with shared bathrooms, through to private rooms and hotel style rooms starting from $34 per person per night.

7. Markets + shopping

Fact: When you travel, you shop. The best shopping places (in my humble opinion) are found in Pitt Street Mall, QVB (Queen Victoria Building), Bondi Junction, and Paddington. Pitt Street Mall has the major stuff you want – a range of Australian and International brand names from the very high end down to the more budget. In the middle of the mall is a large Westfield Shopping Centre with more shops – the only Westfield to be in the centre of any city in Australia. The whole 2-3 blocks around Pitt Street Mall are fantastic for shopping as it includes the QVB shopping complex – a gorgeous Romanesque style building complete with centre glass dome and marble floors, the High End boutiques such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior and much more are dotted around Castlereagh Street, there’s also Paspaley Pearls (the real deal – South Australian Pearls), Tiffany & Co, Burberry is nearby too…Diamonds, Pearls and perfectly made trench coats…Oh My!

Bondi Junction has a massive Westfield with a 5 level David Jones (the Barney’s/Harrods of Australia) including the David Jones Food Hall inside. The higher you go the more exclusive the brand. Therefore I was a level 2-4 girl. The best thing about Bondi Junction (other than it’s right beside a train station and therefore so very accessible, oh and the bus station that runs buses to that world famous Bondi Beach is there too) is over the Christmas shopping week they offer 24 hour shopping.

Paddington is the place where the cool kids shop. A bunch of trendy designers have boutiques here along Oxford Street (interspersed with BDSM leather style clothing shops – The Mardi Gras Gay and Lesbian  festival and parade runs along Oxford Street in Feb-March annually). Keep following Oxford Street and you’ll find the famous Paddington Markets on every Saturday. These markets aren’t your usual cheap and cheerful – they’re more artisan and have a price tag to match. For more budget friendly markets check out The Rocks Markets (Sat & Sun) or Bondi Markets (Sundays). 

8. They have fireworks every Saturday night…. Just because

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Yep this happens at Darling Harbour every Saturday night.

9. Delights for big & little kids

Sydney is a city most adults will delight in – bars, food, shopping, nightlife etc etc…But it’s also got some little people stuff to do that the big people will enjoy also:
Taronga zoo is located just 12 minutes from Circular Quay via City Ferry – a great way to see the famous harbour, bridge and opera house from the water! The ferry costs around $6+ per person one way but there are family options available. Tickets start at $46 per adult and $104 for 2 Adults + 2 kids so very reasonable. My parents, little sister C and I went to the zoo last year and for 4 adults we were enchanted with it’s layout and selection of animals, my favourites were the giraffes and the penguins. There’s also a fantastic Roar & Snore option where you can stay overnight and hear the nocturnal animals as well as take a behind the scenes tour of the zoo after hours. Starting at $288 per adult and $184.50 per child it’s not budget to stay overnight but an amazing experience!

For more info on all things kid friendly check out Sydney.com.  

10. Gelato Messina. Food Porn.

Robert brownie junior c is for cookie Messina menu June 2014

If I was going to number my tips with 10 = The Best; then Messina would be it! I first met the maestros of gelato Messina back in Surry hills approx 2 years ago. Back then they had just the 1 shop and really only the locals knew about it. Fast forward to now and Messina is a common name in reference to gelato/gelati. They have 3 stores in Sydney and have now opened one up in Fitzroy in Melbourne. My store is the one located in The Star Casino at Pyrmont (the area just behind Circular Quay and the Harbour Bridge) and whilst in Sydney last week I managed to get there twice for a hit of Messina goodness. With names like Robert Brownie Junior, Kevin Bacon (yes there really was candied bacon crunch in the gelato), C is for Cookie, Maltin Banana, True Romance and many more do yourself a favour…When in Sydney make sure you go to Messina! The best part is they update their menu every week to keep things interesting, I promise you I’ve never met a gelato I didn’t like there.

What’ve I missed? Who’s planning a visit to Sydney now (if only to try Messina) or who has been? Favourite spots…I’d love to hear from you……..

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Winter is coming

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Technically speaking winter is already here in Australia but the first month doesn’t really feel like winter… There’s beautiful, clear blue skies & the sun continues to shine. The average temperature has been around 20-24 degrees Celsius … Just wow.
However the past 2 weeks have seen the nights get colder and colder – I’ve brought myself a throw rug for my chair – very nana like but I don’t give a fuck as it keeps me warm!

The other way I know it’s winter is because I have a cold! This cold has been holding on for a while. I thought it had gone but I had a relapse a few weeks ago after Manly Matt stayed over. Who knew kissing could cause such drama.

Due to my cold and serious snuffling my flight to Sydney was horrible. The pressure was unbearable even after taking a decongestant. Add to that some serious winds & I was feeling a lot like a frog in a blender getting onto the Tarmac.

Happy Friday Y’all

So it’s Friday ….My second favourite F-word…After Fridge (I think wine or scotch or chocolate) and Free (not the other F-word I am prone to muttering, moaning, or speaking in my ‘outdoor’ voice). It’s past 6pm and really I should be heading home…I’m sure there’s a bottle of white wine calling my name.

A few things that have made me happy this week in no particular order:

This Picture… 

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This is my official email inbox as I left it this evening. Notice all that empty space at the bottom? This makes me smile…After weeks of wading through work I’ve finally achieved the unimaginable…An inbox I can see the bottom of without using the scroll on my mouse.

PS. You guessed it I work for a hotel…As a glamorous sales and marketing executive. Through truth be told there isn’t much glamour when you get down to the actual work :). 

This Quizz http://www.playbuzz.com/jennifers/what-type-of-woman-are-you-really 
I got  The Lover: You are a true lover! You are kind, sexy, passionate and emotional. You adore that feeling of falling for someone, and experiencing those crazy heartbeats, and can sometimes let your feelings get the best of you. You are not quick to judge people, and you can always find the positive side of things. Love is all you need!

So true…I do believe that love and kindness are 2 things we don’t have enough of in this world. Also very true that I love being in love…but the older I get the more I learn that real love is more than crazy heartbeats. 

This Dog…. 

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Taken post walk this morning my beautiful Coco Pop brightens my day! Even when she insists on walking through mud and then trying to sneak into the house without getting dried/cleaned off. 

This City… 

 

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I’m headed to Sydney next week for work. Yes it means long days of trekking around the city with appointments but it’s not all bad because after all it’s SYDNEY! Also my little sister C is flying in at the end of the week to see me and we’re catching up with a bunch of people we travelled around Europe with a couple of years ago – kind of like a mini Top Deck reunion. I can hardly wait. 

Shopping….It’s gonna happen this weekend. I need to buy a mattress and some chairs. Then it’s time to seriously make over my place!

Finally in an effort to be balanced I have one little niggle at the end of this week…Still no word from Manly Matt as to if we are seeing each other tomorrow. I want to text him (and let’s be honest I will as playing games of “I’ll wait till he texts me” aren’t my style) and ask him what his plans are. Then if he a) doesn’t get back to me for hours on end or b) indicates his plans don’t include me I can skip to my PLAN B for the weekend….A friends birthday lunch, shopping at IKEA and maybe even baby cuddles! Boom! What’s everyone else doing for the weekend…. 

 

Facebook

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So I’m on Facebook if you wanna find me: http://www.facebook.com/lifeofmissb
Just in case you wanna follow me there too…. Aside from seeing my posts you could also be subjected to my black humour as I share/repost stuff I’ve found on Facebook that helps me procrastinate….

Funny Money

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The thing about money is there’s never enough to do all the things you want to do. It always gets chewed up by stuff like paying bills, mortgage repayments, rent, dog food, dog toys, dog beds (I’m sensing a theme here), food for humans, fuel, etc….All boring, all necessary. Once you’ve paid for all of the important stuff it leaves very little room for much else…Or maybe this is just me. After living like the grasshopper who sang all summer shopping and gallivanting away until I had frittered all of money away, but what a way to go!

So I’ve spent the last 12 months and I dare say the next 9 months paying of debt I accrued whilst buying beautiful things. It’s not a lot of fun being a grown up but truth be told it is kind of a weird pride when you’ve paid all your bills. Of course then there’s only a little money left for fun stuff but at least I’m not falling into more and more debt. I got some great news today from my lovely bank advising me that they had increased my credit limit – how very kind! My first reaction was to list all of the delicious things I was going to buy with this new money – clothes, manicures, furniture for the house, wine, shoes, jewels…Oh My! But then grown up B stepped in and reminded me that I must only get the necessities….Especially if I want to achieve my goal of being debt free in 12 months. Hmmm sometimes being a grown up sucks! 

So here’s the list of stuff I need to get: 

  • A new mattress for my spare room – this is a means to an end. New mattress means an extra bed and this equals a second flatmate which means more $$$ for me. To use to pay bills :(. 
  • 2 new chairs for my lounge room – related to getting a new flatmate, they have to sit somewhere. 
  • Cushions for the chairs – totally a necessity. If the new flatmates are uncomfortable they’ll move out! 
  • New bed(s), flea tablets and heart worm medication for Coco Pop – these are must dos! 

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So this weekend it looks like I’m going shopping! I’ll post some before and after shots of my place once it’s all done. 

 

The thing about running

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The thing about running is I don’t really enjoy it… It’s rare for me to be running and think to myself, “oh wow, this is so amazing …. I’m running”.
But I do love the results that running and intensive cardio brings …. Plus running doesn’t care if you can’t kip or do handstand push-ups; if you can walk then you can run! Of course there is an art to running & on my last run a few weeks ago I’ll admit I wasn’t running my best. I’m not run fit, I’m also heavier than I’ve been in years, and I’m nursing my foot injury. However I realised all hope wasn’t lost when I ran up Burleigh Hill … I could hear my old running coach in my head saying, “Chest up, shoulders back, high knees. Just keep moving – keep your eye on the finish line”…. Of course the view helps as well:

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But no matter the view this run told me in no uncertain terms I am not & will not be ready for the 10k run at GCAM. Therefore I’ll be run/walking the 5.7k event…. I’d like to try and run part of it but I will see how this foot progresses over the next 2-3 weeks. I am also off to see a sports physio when I’m back from Sydney – I’ll be posting all things awesome & fabulous about this city then!

Mrs Clumsy

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I may be the clumsiest crossfitter on the planet. This week I managed to bruise a finger my snapping my rope across it whilst attempting to top my previous 3 minutes max reps for double unders. Then I smacked a 32kg barbell into my chin whilst working on a 1 rep max push jerk complex which resulted in a split lip. I didn’t dare go to running club this morning and do myself more damage!

In other news I’ve had a tough week of WODs with Karen on Wednesday and then a ‘recovery’ session Thursday that was anything but recovery – unless you count the crossfit recovery position I was in at the end of the WOD (i.e. flat on my back staring at the ceiling). But despite this I got through them and I am especially proud to be able to press the little Rx symbol for Karen. I know, I know it’s only wall balls but it’s 100-and-freaking-50 of them! The last time I attempted Karen I believe I used a 4kg ball and I’m pretty sure I stopped at 100. Mentally this was a tough workout too as I was reaching halfway at 75 the remainder of my class was finished. They did help out with telling me to keep going and pick up the ball (not really what I needed to hear), what helped the most was my coach jumping in and doing the last 50 balls in sets of 2-3 at a time right beside me.  I know that another thing that motivates me is someone literally counting down the reps and urging me to keep going – funny what motivates us hey?

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I’ve also bitten the bullet and finally done my measurements to keep me accountable for my fitness and body shape. Here they are:

  • Bust: 101cm
  • Waist: 100cm
  • Hips: 106cm

I knew things had begun to slide out of control when some sneaky little mouse tailor had stitched my clothes up a little too tight! The Australian Government is beginning to take obesity seriously; I think they’ve woken up to the fact that obesity is more than just not fitting into your clothes it causes some serious issues. Therefore they’ve created a bunch of tools including websites, help lines, medicare rebates for lap-band surgery, and much more. Unfortunately they haven’t looked at rebates for personal training or group fitness classes as an option before lap-band surgery becomes a must.

Any-the-who the reason I mention our Government is because they’ve listed a healthy waist circumference as 80cm – 87cm. I also strongly believe in bio-scans what are an electronic version of the old pinch test to gauge how much body fat percentage you have. I’ll be grabbing one of these after I take my measurements again  in 4 weeks time. The real work begins now.

Dreaming of Travel

Dreaming of Travel

Hey Hey blogmates how are we all? I know I know I’ve been quiet for over a week – lots going on in my head or I’m just suffering a head injury (I’ll write more about that later).

So anyways I’m dreaming about travel again. I love to travel, am addicted to it…

Hi, my name is B and I’m a travel addict. It’s been 3 years since my last holiday…

My last proper holiday was amazing – for my 30th birthday I decided to explore more of Europe and invited friends/family to come along with me. At first everyone wanted to come and I was pricing villas in Italy with 10 bedrooms due to the shear number of potential travel buddies. I had a few things I desperately wanted to see:

Italy: especially Tuscany and (as above) I was planning on having a week in a villa drinking lots of wine, saying Bon-Jour-No (ala Inglorious Bastards style)

, eating pasta/pizza/gelati, and hopefully meeting an Italian Stallion called Gino or something like that who would mutter sweet nothings in my ear like ‘Bella’.

Paris: OMFG I love Paris. She’s a city who marginalizes people; you either love her or hate her. I fell in love with her the first time I visited back in 2011.

London: Such a cool, cool city and one I spent a little over a day in back when I saw Paris last. I wanted a few more days to see all the touristy things, eat pub grub, shop at H&M, and hopefully spot someone famous.

I intended to be away for 4-5 weeks and was considering a whole heap of options from hop-on hop-off bus transfer companies, rail passes, and even guided tour companies such as G Adventures, Intrepid, and Top Deck. I wasn’t too fussed about itinerary with the exception that I wanted to see Europe and if possible the trip had to end in Italy or London for ease of travelling onwards.

In the end everyone bar my beautiful mum, dad and little sister C pulled out for various reasons. Because I’d learnt my lesson travelling with C before (we’d been to NZ the year earlier and whilst it was heaps of fun I did a lot of the organising) I decided that we weren’t up to the task of travelling about Europe for the first time by ourselves. Therefore we booked a Top Deck trip, booked an amazing villa in Chianti in Greve in Tuscany, caught up with old friends in London, met new friends on tour (some of whom we’re catching up with in Sydney in 2 weeks), ate too much, drank too much, and spent too much. There weren’t any holiday romances but I did at least get to hear someone call me Bella – unfortunately he was a man old enough to be my father.

Here’s a few of my favourite pics from the trip:

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London – our first stop
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quintessential London viewing
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Lunch in Paris
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Versailles
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C & I at Versailles
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Lucerne, Switzerland. Yep those are swans – this place was so beautiful.
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Me at the Colosseo. I was obsessed with this place – when I go back I will do the behind the scenes tour where you can walk through the old tunnels underneath.
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Me & C in Venice on a gondola
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Berlin with some of the Top Deck folk. Such an awesome city – I could live there.
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The Tuscan Villa – We hired this beauty for the week. The pool was so freaking cold.
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C, Dad & Mum in Siena
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Daddy & I in Monteriggioni, Italy

So my next trip will most likely be South East Asia (even though I’m still dreaming of Europe) due to budget reasons – I want to save a house deposit – and also because its closer (less than 9 hours to most locations). My dream getaway would be as follows:

  • Fly Gold Coast – Bali
  • Overnight in Seminyak Bali for 3 nights, then move to hanging gardens in Ubud for 2-3 nights.
  • Fly Bali – Singapore
  • 3 nights in Singapore
  • Fly Bail – Singapore

Seminyak is fast becoming the place for ‘grown up’ Bali holidays. It’s away from Kuta and all the nasty nightclub scene and features a lot of private villas (with plunge pools of course), lovely shopping, and amaze-balls restaurants. A few friends have made the trek there and loved it so now I’m interested to try the ‘slower pace’ of Bali. Ubud is just up the road from Seminyak and I really only want to go there for the Hanging Gardens, how amazing is this pool?

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Of course 3 nights might be too much there as I’ve heard it’s a place ripe for honeymooners and whilst I’m smitten with Manly Matt we’re nowhere near matrimony. Perhaps just 2 nights there for spa treatments and total relaxation in the pool and more time in Singapore or Seminyak?

Singapore I visited at the end of the 2011 trip but it was simply overnight and I’ve heard it’s so beautiful. Plus it’s a place renown for shopping – my favourite sport other than crossfit. More importantly it has a fantastic zoo and the largest window in the world to view 50,000 types of marine life. The window has 18,000,000 litres of water, measures 36 metres wide by 8.3metres tall. I know I’m a huge nerd but I really enjoy aquariums (fish are really relaxing and they don’t have a flu named after them – heads up birds) and this sounds like the mac daddy of all aquariums – bigger is better y’all.

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Amazing! I cannot wait to see this.

Plus I wanna see this:

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I’m a sucker for James Bond and I have to see this place for real.

I’m thinking September/October 2015 for my getaway. The beauty of Indonesia and Singapore is being so close to the equator the weather is fine, fine, fine almost all year round.

Who else is dreaming of travel? Planning a trip or exploring the world right now?

A new week a new goal

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My plan to learn to run again is slowly coming to life. I went for a run Saturday, managed a dog walk Sunday (this was special as I was decidedly hungover after having a time at the pub with Manly Matt Saturday night), and I’ve hit the box up twice this week so far!!

Both mornings I haven’t checked the WOD before leaving home. I’m not strong enough to check it & give myself the opportunity to talk myself out of going. Yesterday was a nice way to start the week with my favourite weights! My 1RM was 35kg for clean & jerk. I almost nailed 40kg for a PB but I couldn’t seem to clean the bar. I did grace with a 20kg bar in 6:02, not the best time but I’m happy I got it done.

This mornings AMRAP was more my style – mix of cardio, weights (40kg deadlifts) & kettle bells. I loved the doubleunders this morning – I got 1 better than last time but still need to work on these. The WOD was hard yakka but still fun. I came in at 4 rounds 20 reps – I would’ve liked to have done banded pull-ups instead of jumping so that’s something to work on next time!

Tomorrow is run day…. Let’s see what happens!

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