Banjo vs Piano


So one of my NY resolutions is to “be more creative’…….I feel I am next to useless in regards art, music etc but would like to try something anyway. And not worry about how good I am.

I have narrowed it down to 2 choices, learn the banjo or the piano. Both very different choice and have their pros and cons. I feel like the piano is harder but it just sounds gorgeous. The banjo would be awesome for parties and ‘fun’ situations…..but it’s not like I go to many parties. And I could end up more like this



Any ideas on what I should pick?

Please note I have a terrible singing voice so would like to avoid singing along if possible.




Franman and I arrived in Dallas last Wednesday. I have to work in San Fran for a few days so we decided to make a holiday and backend SF with a trip Dallas where my bother lives and Lake Tahoe where the snow lives. My brother and his gorgeous fiancé live in Dallas, hence our stop off there.

It’s a bit of a hike to get there, anywhere is from Perth! We left our house at 3.45am on Wednesday and arrived in Dallas 29 hours later after 3 flights. Thanks to the mystery of time zones we arrived at 5pm in Dallas. Getting to see my brother was so great. Unfortunately none of my family lives in the same city so we don’t get to see each other too often. So we made sure to pack loads into our trip there. Dallas is a cool city and there is loads to do there.

The first night the 4 of us went for Mexican… good and so cheap! I always knew the US was cheaper than Australia but Dallas is even cheaper. Here’s Fran enjoying his $6 margarita that came with a bottle of Corona and a shot of Grand Marnier on the side. Nice!



The day after we arrived my family who live in Newport, Rhode Island came down to visit which was deadly! They have 4 kids so now there were 10 of us hanging out. First night we went to an ice hockey game. The Dallas Stars were playing Toronto and won 7-1. They were underdogs so the atmosphere was amazing. Really cool to be there on such a fun night.


Looking through the camera after I saw a lot of pictures of the cheerleaders and ice girls……..


Friday we went to Fort Worth which is about an hour outside the city. Before I went I thought cowboy hats etc were a touristy thing. Yeah, that’s not true at all. Everyone wears them all the time. Including my brother and April! It looks awesome though……I would definitely get on board if I lived there. First stop was to Log Cain Village – It’s a collection of 7 cabins, a one-room schoolhouse and smokehouse from the mid-1800s that were moved from various locations to this spot. Visitors can learn about life in this era from pioneers who “live” and “work” here”.
We had people ranging from 6 through 55 and we all enjoyed it. They had people in each of the cabins talking about the history and lives of the people who lived there.


My brother is not wearing his boots and hat ironically…..


After the history lesson we went to the Stockyards in downtown Fort Worth to watch the bulls coming though the city. I had visions of Pamplona in my head so when they just walked I was a bit disappointed to see them walk so calmly! The come through twice a day.



We hung about sightseeing until dinner which was at a really famous bbq house – awesome grub. Fried pickels, mac & cheese, steak tacos, brisket, roast turkey…..we had it all. And cowboy cobbler……which seems to just be super super sweet pie.



After dinner we were ready for the highlight of the evening, the rodeo! The reason we were in Fort Worth. Man was this fun! I didn’t realise it was a real event, I thought it was just out on for tourists! Not at all, it’s a weekly event where cowboys travel from really far away to compete and win points for the league. So. Much. Fun. The cowboys and cowgirls (their word) are so talented. A huge new level of respect for them.



Such a great day…..if you ever get a chance to visit a rodeo go! The rest of our time in Dallas was spent hanging out with the family, visiting some outlet malls, bbq’ing and playing games. Have you played Cards against Humanity? If not go and order it right now. It is so good. Terribly rude and inappropriate, hence the appeal! Even Franman who hates board games loved it.

Next stop on our trip was San Fran…I’ll update that tomorrow. J

Have a good one!




This week is brought to you by Brooks

Aaaaand it’s Thursday already! How did that happen? Has anyone else blinked found that Mon, Tues, Weds of this week have vanished?


This week has been very exciting because of Brooks PureProject Try It On!! The new range of Brooks PureProject shoes are being released, and they have allocated 1000 pairs for the public to try out from a number of official stockists. You take them home, and wear them as you usually would: indoor, outdoor, in the rain, mud, sleet and snow, and see what you think.


So, this week, I have been wearing these gorgeous Pure Cadence 3 bad boys:


It’s a really clever idea, because I’m guessing most people don’t change their brand once they find a shoe they like (running shoes are expensive!). I have always had Asics, but my current pair seem to cause quite a few blisters, so I was wondering about another brand. Is there more of a perfect way to trial a shoe than to borrow it for a week??


As soon as I tried them on, I noticed how supportive the Pure Cadence 3s are. My arch is really high, and the shoe sat snug against it. They also have additional arch support:



This has actually been a bit of an issue. Whilst the support is great, my toes seem to get pins and needles after 5k in. I think it’s because of the band which runs along the top of your foot:



My feet are basically mountain-shaped, and too much pressure on the top point of my foot causes bruising and pins and needles. I was told I could be a great ballerina with feet this shape, but instead I chose running and pole dancing, obviously.


I wish this wasn’t the case, because in every other aspect the shoes are great. They’re light, they support really nicely, my feet don’t pronate as much in them, and they haven’t given me blisters when I push hard. Plus, they look really smart. Perhaps a larger size would solve my problems with the top of my foot.


Now on to the important other stuff. Sunday was, as we like to call it South of the Equator, Straya Day. Australia Day to everyone else. On Australia Day, everyone gets a day off, there are BBQs, trips to the beach, fireworks, and sushi. At least, my Australia Day usually involved Sushi.


Australia Day 2011



This year, being in the North East of England,I hijacked a night out with my friends and christened it our Australia Day celebrations. It was a beautiful night out, a real was a lesson in international diplomacy, and did much for Australian-North East English relations.


So, I guess what I am saying, is that I am ready for my Ambassadorship now.


Ellie B

Disclaimer: these shoes were given to me to trial for a week as part of the general Try It On project. It is my decision to blog about them, and I have not been asked to do so by Brooks.



Omazing Oslo

Before you burn me at the stake for this shamelessly poor excuse for alliteration, consider this definition. Omazing: describing the unique and wonderful things in Oslo, whilst also taking into account the city’s general costliness. 



I have spent most of this week in Oslo for work. Here is a summary of how it went:

  • Number of runs: 0
  • Number of stretches: 0
  • Number of Tapas dinners: 3
  • Average temperature during our stay: -8C
  • Coffees from my new favourite Norwegian coffee shop Kaffee Brenneriet: 6
  • Amount of times my suitcase broke while dragging it over snow: 2



So my workouts didn’t exactly go to plan. I had expected that because:

1) I was sharing a room with my colleague, who I’m sure wouldn’t have appreciated waking up each morning to some high kicks from me and Cleo while I practiced the splits.

2) Did you see the average temperature above?! All my previous whinging about UK weather should be disregarded. Oslo is cold. And dark. If I wanted to run, I’d have needed my trail shoes for the snow, and to have left my colleagues at lunch to run in the daylight. No one likes that girl – and I’m going to be her when my marathon training starts next week, so no need to turn into her just yet!


It was a good week. I’m lucky enough to work with some great people, but our team is spread throughout the world. So it was a novelty to all be in the same room as each other! And then at night, we had some omazing food. You definitely pay for quality over there, but if we hadn’t have left on Thursday, I think one or more of our credit cards would have spontaneously combusted.



We didn’t get a chance to look much around Oslo, but I definitely picked up on the fact that Norwegians are glamorous. And the women all have nice handbags. As well as coming back with an addiction to tapas and coffee, I have decided it’s ok to buy an expensive handbag: the Norwegians do!


As a city, Oslo is a mix of old and new. Our offices are right by the Nobel Peace Centre, which was formerly an old train station built in 1879.


The Nobel Peace Centre is almost opposite Oslo’s City Hall, which is a grand and modern building completed in 1950. The city seems to embrace both modern and historical architecture, which makes for a really interesting vibe and really cool views.



I found the people to be very friendly, and I can’t get over how pretty everything when it’s covered in white. At night, the city is covered in that blanket of stillness which accompanies the falling snow – for me, it carried that same expectation of Christmas Eve!


I got back yesterday, and today I went for a quick 5.5k run in just 27:30 to make sure that I didn’t get too used to Tapas-living. I think Strava is cheating on me: it never matches up to any official running time, nor my Garmin. It always lists me as running shorter distances for longer. I think we might be on the verge of falling out….


Stubbington 10K

Stubbington. It sounds like the kind of place you’d expect to find the Famous Five hanging out, waiting for their next round of smugglers to foil. Or the sort of place you might stop on the way to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen. At least, that’s what I thought when we moved there from Australia.


On Sunday, two of my best friends and I ran the Stubbington 10k. It was kind of like a homecoming for me (it’s the place I’ve lived in England for the longest), with much banter was had on Facebook, and many a selfie taken. Oh yes, my friends, it was like that.


The race itself is organized by the Stubbington Green Runners, and it was a well-oiled machine: numbers could be picked up the day before, they used timing chips, roads were closed for the barest of minimum times. The whole village centre was shut off to traffic, and everyone trooped together up one of the roads to the starting point.



The first two kilometres took us out of suburbia and into the countryside. At kilometre three, we were met with the big hill of the race. Luckily, compared to Durham, it wasn’t so huge, so it wasn’t as challenging as I’d anticipated.  Once that bad boy was out the way, the next four kilometres were on a gorgeous, winding country lane. I knew this would be a relatively long stretch so I was mentally prepared to chill out.


The weather was perfect. The sun was shining through the hedges, and along the way there were horses galloping in the fields along side us, excited by what was going on. Then, after 4k of gorgeous countryside, we were rewarded with two kilometres by the sea. On our right side, we looked out across the Solent to the Isle of Wight, and on the other side there was a bird sanctuary and lake.


 This was taken the previous day at a pub. But you get the idea of the view!


The final two k rounded back into the village for the finish. Before the event, I had expected to run with my friends on the route, but they preferred for each of us to go at our own pace. So I didn’t know how it was going to go, and it was a good test to see what I could do with a comfortably challenging pace (ie. a pace that wasn’t easy, but wasn’t a ball-breaker either!).


In any race, I think the kilometre just after half way is the hardest, and this wasn’t different! But pushing on through a relatively flat course, I was really happy to finish with 00:49:11. And my friends made it back in 57 and 59 minutes without stopping, so we are all stoked to be under an hour (Whoo hooooo MM and AW!!)! Thanks to all the volunteers and the race organisers for a great morning.

photoCelebration Selfie. Definitely no botox in my forehead!


The rest of the weekend was really good too, with lots of good pub food and catching up with old friends.


And now I’m in Oslo for work for the next couple of days, because that’s how I roll. I have my sweat sports gear in amultiple plastic bags, but I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t stink too much by Thursday! My colleagues won’t be impressed if I smell like a locker room.


Bit different to the Sunny Solent!!



Ellie B