Committed in April

So this is a bit late, work has been manic since I returned from holiday and I also had my sister’s Hen Do (weekend just gone) to plan… So lets see how I’ve been getting on with my commitment goals in the month of April:

1. To writing/blogging more

Well. I am not great at getting into a routine with this but I think it has been getting better, at least this month of May anyway. I was obviously away in April….so that’s my excuse for then! I’m aiming for a blog post at least every two weeks, hopefully working up to every week. Maybe. Still enjoying it though so this is good.

2. To continuing Bible Study/Prayer

I have done a lot of reading around these subjects but, surprisingly little in the way of doing. Poor. Having just read “Prayer Without Pretending” by Anne Townsend I am putting this into practice this month so hopefully there will be more practice here when I do “committed in May”. Let’s hope so as this should be a priority!

3. To reading more

Yes! Progress here! In April I read four books:

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  •  How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran – this was most enjoyable although quite similar in a lot of places to How to Build A Woman which I preferred as I thought it was funnier.
  • Tattoos on the Heart, Gregory Boyle. What a book. So many “aha!” moments, and those moments where you realise that sometimes you are a bit self righteous and cringe at yourself for your utter stupidity. No one is “better” we are all loved. Beautiful words throughout, I cried at various points. No surprises there.
  •  Re read – Mere Christianity, C.S.Lewis. As always I appreciate his simple way of explaining complex theology and the fact that he does it in such a “British” way. Some of it (on marriage) is very outdated but otherwise full of wisdom. I turned down so many corners of pages to highlight my favourite parts. A great book if you are new to theology or Christianity as he writes from the perspective of a former atheist.
  • Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert. I was a huge fan of Eat,Pray,Love so came at this with expectations. They were met and this book was very pertinent to me at this season of my life. Plus Liz is funny!

4. To pursue a possible career change

Well, again a lot of thinking and praying not a lot of doing just yet. That’s okay though. I don’t know my “calling” just yet. This post of Sarah Bessey’s here made me feel a lot better about this particular work in progress; it doesn’t have to be a mountain top moment.

5. Healthier eating and more exercising

I was going so well with this – I had hugely cut down on my sugar intake and was doing Kayla Itsines BBG workouts which I had made huge progress with. For me you understand – I’m not talking six pack progress, but I had lost 7lbs and felt more toned, healthy and had more energy! However, I then went to Italy and ate all the food.

I haven’t really had the same commitment to it since getting back. I have had a lot of eating out at weekends and I am writing it off as a bad couple of weeks and starting again on Monday with renewed vigour!

I have also been going to see my osteopath which despite costing me a fortune and still being pretty awkward, has helped, at least with my Runner’s Knee…which will hopefully have a knock on effect on my squat/back pain.

6. Saying “no”

Hmmm. This is probably the toughest one for me. I have got better at this, at putting myself first. It’s still a work in progress though. I am on both the Parish Council and the Deanery Synod for my church, I work full time (long hours) and have commitments with family and friends which I love but it’s hard to juggle them all and still have “me” time. The holiday in April was much needed though and I felt I did less rushing around. I have certainly cut down on mid week meet ups this year limiting them to once a week if that! #proud.

Something else happened in April that meant I was out celebrating a lot…we got engaged in holiday in Cinque Terre! Since then I have basically been drinking all the champagne and eating all the food! And why not?! We are thrilled! Proposal post to come! but that’s definitely very committed 🙂

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Cinque Terre

So the second part of our week in Italy was spent in Cinque Terre.  This has been a “Bucket List” destination of ours for a while now, so it was truly a treat to be going here and I was super excited!  Cinque Terre is a collection of five fishing villages on the north eastern coast of Italy.  They are crazily constructed and the whole area is a Unesco World Heritage site.  They are a very “Pinterest” destination, as the houses are brightly coloured.

It is a train ride of about 4 hours from Rome, so naturally, I read up on the area in my Lonely Planet guide and also read some of C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” which I was reading at the time.

Carl had booked us into a gorgeous little en-suite room in a house in Corniglia which is the middle of the five towns.   We arrived on the Thursday afternoon and just had a mooch around Corniglia, I think Carl was pretty tired after carrying the case up the 377 steps up to the village!

There are trails for hiking which connect the five towns.  There are two routes you can hike; the blue routes, which are generally easier routes following the coastal paths and which you have to have a Cinque Terre card for (the Cinque Terre cards are 7.50 euros for one day not including the train) and the red routes which are more strenuous and are free.  You can buy Cinque Terre cards which last more than one day.

A train connects each of the five towns so you could go to this area and not hike at all, although I think that would be a real shame, as you see so much more when you are walking and it is part of the experience!

When we arrived we were told that the two blue routes connecting Corniglia and Manaroloa and Manarola and Riomaggiore were closed due to land slides.  The only option was to do a red route or get the train.  Carl and I love hiking, so we opted for the red routes on the Friday.  Below is the map and the view of Corneiglia on our first hike to Manarola and the view of Corniglia from our bedroom window.

The day was gorgeous and we hiked through vineyards to get to Manarola.  Each village has a Sanctuary above it and we visited the one above Manarola in the tiny village of Volastra.  Manarola is the oldest town, and after Corniglia was my favourite.  We went back here on the Saturday and did a wine tasting course for 15 euros each at La Cantina dello Zio Bramante where we tasted a red, white and dessert wine paired with small plates of local foods.  This was one of our favourite activities and not least because of the knowledgeable guide and the three ladies who were also present with us.  They were in their late sixties and were friends (two Aussies and one American) they were hilarious and managed to completely take down an annoying American tourist who seemed to be basing his identity on Russell Brand and was talking very loudly about inappropriate “sexploits” and generally being a bit of a knob.  We laughed a lot!

We didn’t find the hiking too difficult, it was steep in places, but it was a good two hour walk to Manarola, where we had a drink and look around stopping for Lobster Tagliatelle at a restaurant called Trattoria da Billy which had gorgeous sea views and was incredibly reasonably priced.

 

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Beautiful Manarola

 

We then went on to Riomaggiore, which was a much steeper trek, almost straight up and down through vineyards and was a bit harder on the legs!

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Colourful Riomaggiore

 

After all that trekking we took the train back to Corniglia and watched the sunset with a glass of wine in a gorgeous wifi free café which we came to love!

On the Saturday the weather was a little overcast but intermittently sunny.  We took the blue route to Vernazza and while easier than the red route, it was full of other hikers and the views weren’t as good.  Vernazza is very pretty though and has recovered remarkably well from devastating floods in 2011.

We then walked on to Monterosso the newest and biggest of the five towns.  Then on a recommendation, we took the train to Levanto and then hiked back along a red route.  This was more difficult, I don’t know if this was because we were tired or it was genuinely a more difficult red route.  The weather when we started was beautiful, but unfortunately when we reached the viewpoint to look over Monterosso and down the coast to see all five of the villages, it was completely obscured by cloud!

We were very tired after this and Sunday was much more leisurely day, it’s when we did the wine tasting and when we repeated part of our first trek in the evening, which was our favourite one overall.

On the Monday we came home and said goodbye to all the amazing Italian food we had eaten! Evidence below:

My tips for trekking in Cinque Terre:

  1. Plan your route and be prepared with water and provisions – Italian signage is not the most accurate and it may take longer than you imagine!
  2. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
  3. Take your camera, you will be snapping all the time!
  4. Don’t treat it like a race, take your time to enjoy it and stop for gelato, pasta and wine!
  5. Have a map with you when trekking.
  6. Be realistic about the time you have and if you can plan to trek one way and then train it back!

I love the pace of life in Italy, the food, the attitude, how family orientated it is. It really is “La Vita e Bella” and I always leave a little piece of my heart there…until next time Italia!

More snaps are on my Instagram @nackandnace.