I'm back! Last season was one hell of a rollercoaster, mentally, physically, emotionally... you name it, I felt it! After such a HUGE year, both on and off the court, starting a small business with Annika Lee-Jones (Bakes & Braids) and with a new work opportunity at West Coast Eagles, I found that I wasn't in a position to keep up with a blog that I thought would be interesting or that was as honest and authentic as I would like it to be. Now, there's plenty of time to delve further into 2018, but for now, let's revel in the recent memories of off-season!
My break was AMAZING! After I had signed on the dotted line with Fever for a further two seasons I did the appropriate 'Perth thing' and jetted off to Bali for a week with Sara. We spent half of our time in Ubud (I'm the health foodie, yoga loving one) and the other half in Legian (Sara's the chill, beach bum one). Without going into too much detail, highlights of the trip included copious amounts of delicious food and fizzy beverages, bumbling around Ubud, walking the Tegallalang rice terraces, barefoot bouldering through the Hidden Canyon of Beji Guwang and relaxing by the pool or beach side in the sun. The trip went by in a flash and I was briefly back in Perth before I knew it. Sara was off home to start her post-netball career and I wasn't far behind her to get make the most of my downtime.
I love to travel and explore and I love my friends and going back to England for a nice block of time gave me the opportunity to do all of that!
Ex-Fever superstar and old defensive partner in crime, Eboni Usoro-Brown (nee Beckford-Chambers), got married in the break and I was lucky to be invited to Marbella, Spain for a long weekend for her hen’s party prior to attending the most beautiful wedding that I have ever been to. Although I've been to Spain before, I've never been to Marbella and I was surprised at how pretty the beach was and we got lucky and caught the tail end of what I'm told was a glorious summer in Europe! We engaged in some fancy dress (ballerinas and everything that sparkles), did karaoke, danced, went to a beach club for the day, played games, spent hours gossiping and catching up at the villa and squeezed in some time to hang out at the beach in the sunshine. I have known Eboni for about 13 years and when we weren't found bickering on a netball court, we spent MANY an hour planning her then fictional wedding. It's truly a wonderful thing to be able to see one of your oldest friends so happy and celebrate milestones in their lives alongside them without the interference of netball.
We are friends with a couple who are very active and they invited us to spend a weekend at the beautiful Lingholm Estate, walking and exploring the Lake District. I have never been before, but it truly lived up to the expectations of breathtaking natural beauty which made the pain of enduring the steepest ParkRun in the UK almost worthwhile.
For those of you that don't know, ParkRun is a collection of free timed 5km running events that take place every Saturday morning in twenty countries across five continents. I have become a bit of a ParkRun tourist, no thanks to Sara (who loves running outdoors) and wherever we go we like to try out the local course and get a session in. Our friend, Amy, is quite a decent distance runner and her and Sara concocted the plan of doing the Whinlater Forest ParkRun knowing that it was the steepest in the UK and that it's nickname is 'Beauty and the Beast'. It should have taken us 15 minutes to get there, however, the direct road from our accommodation to the forest was closed.
UNFORTUNATELY we were not deterred and took the 40 minute detour to what would almost be my death. As an athlete you are always pushing your body and mind beyond the normal realm but that 5kms in close to freezing temperatures in Whinlater has forced its way into my top 3 moments of hellish pain. Seriously, fitness is not my gift, it doesn't come naturally and I work very hard at it. I'm a good sprinter and I prefer interval running, so 5km is a physical challenge for me which is one of the reasons I love/hate ParkRun. Whinlater Forest ParkRun has 210 metres of pure ascent and you finish at a higher elevation than you start. A course created for mountain goats, should you be able to lift your head high enough at any point, due to the position your body has to take to combat the incline, you are rewarded with breathtaking views of the forest, Derwentwater and Keswick. I managed to lift my nose far enough away from my kneecaps to 'take in the view' once. Perhaps there's a reason we only manage to see these friends once a year if we're lucky.
We spent a weekend in York (completed another ParkRun) staying in a converted railway carriage, walking the historic walls, exploring the City and even managing to coordinate catching up with friends that we made in Fiji last off season when we went on holiday! A trip to Cheltenham, catching up with one of my best friends, exploring the Cotswold’s and of course eating some delicious food provided us with more wonderful weekend memories and my first ParkRun in 0°! Also not forgetting a daytrip to Oxford spent tucked away from the frost and rain in cosy old English pub in front of a log fire catching up with a good University friend.
I managed to get tickets to a gig for a British artist called Raye who I really like, spent time with my grandparents (eating homemade chips and drinking copious amounts of tea) and made sure to make time to head to Banstead, (thanks Banstead Woods ParkRun) to spend time with my aunts and explore the Surrey Hills and Watts Gallery.
The challenge and excitement of another Suncorp Super Netball campaign lies ahead but I'm sure you won't begrudge me my countdown to Christmas that I have started and the promise of another trip, more adventures and my loved ones!