Clarabella Speaks.

"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves" - Shakespeare

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Clarabella runs Europe: The French government can kiss my ass

Today I have the honour of bringing you the biggest comeback since Liverpool beat Barcelona in THAT Champions League semifinal. Yes that's right, Clarabella is back and fitter than ever before.

Introducing Clarabella runs Europe, the natural solution for any millennial trying to avoid a break-up induced quarter-life crisis. At Christmas I decided that starting in March I would run a half marathon a month, in a different location in Europe, for a whole year. Today is the 1st of March and I am happy to report that mission one is accomplished and my challenge is well and truly under way. 

Location #1 was Paris. Given that Paris and I have previous (if you haven't read Diaries of a Parisian office worker and fancy a good laugh you can find them here Diaries of a Parisian Office Worker), I should have known it wasn't going to be plain sailing. It went something like this:

Me (stuffing my face with crepes and ice cream because, carb-loading): "It's so nice to be back in Paris, I was always so negative when I lived here but actually I was wrong"

Yes that's right, our favourite trending topic made it all the way to Paris just in time to cancel an event to be attended by 44,000 runners, most of whom were already in the city and already busy spreading whatever germs they might have had. But the French government made their decision and given that we may be facing a global pandemic I suppose you might be able to understand their position (but also maybe you should have also cancelled the Ligue 1 football games, eh Macron? I know some people dislike them but football fans' lives are important too). At this point Beth and I looked something like this:

"What should we do?" we asked ourselves, over and over and over for about 3 hours. In the end there were two clear options: a) just forget about it and get sloshed on cheap French wine over dinner or b) run our own race anyway and stick two fingers to the French government and their health and safety policy. I think you know which one we chose. 

Fast forward to 8.45 this morning and I'm working my way through a pre-run breakfast of apple purée (baby food but delicious nonetheless), a banana, a mars bar and a creme egg. Nutritious it may not be but let me tell you it did the trick because this girl ran a PB!! A lot of other would-be half marathoners had the same idea and the banks of the Seine were awash with the sweet sight of runners this morning. I even think I enjoyed it more because I got to make my own route and didn't have any of the pre-race nerves I was dreading so much! Clare 1: Coronavirus 0 (for now - I might have contracted it at some point over the weekend). 

The only disappointment is that I didn't get my medal (I was planning to wear it around my neck on the train home so people knew I was kind of a big deal). Next stop: home, just in time for my birthday tomorrow 😁

NB: No passports were harmed in the running of this race.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Clarabella speaks Mandarin: 7 (+1) things I learnt during Spring Festival

It's been two weeks since I returned from a "once in a lifetime" 3.5 week trip around China.  After what was really quite a great holiday, I, like all youths privileged enough to embark on such a worldly voyage, found myself faced with the troublesome task of relaying my travels to the online world in a witty yet serious post (because one should not take discovering the world for granted), with enough photos to make you a little bit jealous, but not so many that you end up hating me for trying to make you jealous. And all this whilst maintaining your interest in what I did for 25 days, which let's face it does anyone really care about?! Despite your ridiculously high expectations (I'm a teacher not a journalist), I'm giving it a go. If you find yourself not caring, nobody is forcing you to read this.

1. Pandas are AWESOME.
Starting on a high here, and no I didn't expect to hear me say this either, but they really are. The book title "Eats, shoots, and leaves", with or without the commas, perfectly sums up the life of these black and white (rather large) balls of fur, and they are just SUCH dudes. I'm even considering watching Kung Fu Panda now, that's how good they were. Apart from the red pandas that is, I'm sorry but they may as well be foxes.

2. Monkeys are not. 
I used to think I'd like a monkey as a pet. BIG mistake. They may be cute, and documentaries on them may be funnier than Live at the Apollo but they are sly little buggers who should not be trusted. I was walking up a mountain, in the snow, and before I knew it there was a macaque with his hands in my pocket trying to get my phone (or food but there was none of that in there). Cue screaming from me, and the unwelcome addition of monkey number two, before I managed to escape with my life (and my phone) but sadly, without my hat. Maybe I shouldn't have screamed, but I challenge you to stay quiet when your mobile's  life hangs in the balance.

He looks innocent...

3. Climbing a mountain isn't quite as awful as it sounds.
I came, I saw, I climbed. And it's probably safe to say I won't be doing it again. Nonetheless my first mountain hiking expedition was a relative success (apart from the stolen hat) and the views made the 2 day hike worth it (yes I do like to brag). It did however confirm that I was right not to to DoE at school and that it wasn't unreasonable of me to question the sanity of all those who did.

4. You're never too old to strut your stuff.
On a barely there runway, in the rain, in a mostly empty park. I'm talking 60+ men and women, flicking those heels and working a Blue Steel that would make Derek Zoolander proud. You go Glen Coco.

5. Always read the menu.
"That looks like gongbao jiding (kung pao chicken), lets get that". Except it turns out that it was gongbao bullfrog. For all those wondering it tastes like fish, not chicken, but I wasn't wondering.

6. Reliant Robins should never have gone out of style.
What car do you hope for for a day of travelling to and between rice terraces? A Porsche? A 4x4? Obviously a Reliant Robin, painted metallic blue with a sticker on the door. You think I'm joking but I'm not (despite the sarcastic undertones). With every bump (we weren't exactly driving on French autoroutes) I fell deeper in love. I've even asked my parents for one for my first car.

7. There is such a thing as taking too many photos.
We've all heard the term 'snap-happy' and as it turns out it can be quite dangerous. Especially when one finds oneself in some rice terraces for a sunrise, 3 sunsets and many hours in between. Cue 6 billion photos and a lack of willpower to edit them. First world problems are tough, but someone's got to deal with them.

8. China is HUGE (and pretty damn cool).
It took 25 days and I barely even saw a thousandth of what the country has to offer, but everything I did see really was interesting or fun or a mix of them both. From pandas to the Sichuan opera; from temple to temple; 1000m mountain to 3000m mountain; big Buddah to the stone forest; from fairytale villages to bustling cities, and rice terraces to "Ethnic" villages (think Tibet reduced down to one super authentic white washed building), I saw a lot (and bought a fair amount too). I can't deny that I was happy to see my bed, and be able to put down my rucksack once and for all, but I had a blast and didn't get malaria, what more could a girl want?