Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Musical Interlude - Foster The People

Unfortunately owing to a horrendous bout of insomnia I've had to disrupt my plan to complete blog postings re: my Pacific North West trip as I am all tapped out this week. It's been over a week now since I have had more than 5 hours of sleep and to be honest I am a complete basket case, so despite the best of intentions to eat extremely healthily for the next 4-5 weeks - seriously I've been so healthy this past week you'd vomit if I told you exactly how healthy I've been - I've found myself resorting to my old friend Chardonnay to knock me out tonight.

It's ironic really as I feel pretty amazing other than the sleep thing and have enormous amounts of energy - I'm like my sister's Border Collie, Skye, who is impossible to wear out, it must be all the fiber - so the last thing I wanted was alcohol, but the insomnia is taking an emotional toll and small things are taking on a bigger significance than they have any right to. To be honest I have to wonder if that excess of energy I'm experiencing is contributing to my restlessness at night since it's not as if I have a lot on my mind, but I just can't seem to sleep, it's like I am on the wrong time zone.

Anyway we have a 3 day weekend coming up in the US for the 4th July holiday, so hopefully I will find time to rest and recharge and post about my trip, but in the meantime please enjoy Foster The People.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Pacific North West Trip June 2011: Portland Day 1

So I dropped the high fiber diet on Friday for the sake of my colleagues, but risked a high fiber Gnu bar this weekend as recommended by Melissa and thankfully those don't seem to have the same troublesome side effects and I've already noticed a distinct flattening of the tummy. Yay!!! Happy happy happy. If things carry on in this way then in 4 weeks I may well squeeze into that bikini after all on my LA/Vegas trip. I've also noticed a definite improvement in my skin from all the fruit and veggies no doubt, so definitely worth persevering with the healthy habits. I'm actually pondering taking a few surfing lessons when I am in LA. Megan took lessons when she went to a yoga retreat in Costa Rica and absolutely loved it and she thinks it will be right up my street. I must admit I like the idea of it, although I am leery of committing to lessons alone - I know, I'm a total coward, but I would feel less self conscious about it if I had a buddy taking lessons too, but hopefully I will summon up the courage to give it a whirl. No guts no glory right??

The trip - dim and distant though it is - was great anyway. Melissa and I flew into Portland, arriving late to
our hotel on Friday 3rd June night and spent a couple of full days there before taking the train up to Seattle on the Monday morning. We were fortunate enough to have unbelievably beautiful weather, which was apparently atypical for Portland, mid-80s with low humidity and clear blue skies and surprisingly good hair days which I was not expecting given the soggy reputation of the Pacific North West. New York on the other hand was experiencing a heat wave and was unbearably close to 100F!! Ugh!! I was so so so happy not to be there.

We woke up fairly early on Saturday morning - still being on east coast time - although we bumped into a good number of hotel guests returning from their morning runs. No such exertions for us and instead we took a leisurly walk along the riverside to the Saturday Market and stopped at Bijou Café for breakfast where I had the most delicious meal of scrambled tofu with olive oil, garlic and parsley and the best home fries I have ever tasted.

We walked off some of our hearty breakfast by heading up to the Pearl District, a former warehouse district which is now home to boutiques, fancypants apartment buildings and restaurants galore. On the way we stopped for a browse in the fabulous Powell’s Books where I couldn't resist making a stationery purchase - I'm a stationery fiend, it's my drug of choice - and also a bathroom stop. I also couldn’t resist popping into Anthropologie as we passed by - a store I am obsessed with, although I swear to you that I hadn't looked up the location prior to my arrival and happened upon the store purely by coincidence. People who work with me will not believe that for a second, but it is true – and was thrilled to find a silk camisole top that I'd had my eye on for months on sale in my size, reduced from $78 to $39. Yay!!

Afterwards we sauntered around the Pearl District, taking a photo of the doors to the office of advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy for Kanayo who is obsessed with the idea of working there even though she has never so much as set foot in Oregon.

The Pearl District often feels very similar to TriBeCa in Manhattan

Tanner Springs Park, designed by German firm Atelier Dreiseitl and Portland's Greenworks P.C., with participation from local residents through a series of community workshops. The 'wall' you can see in the photo below is made from railway tracks set on end.

After exploring we decided to head back downtown towards our hotel for a break via Pioneer Square

Although we didn't break for long before the clock struck beer o'clock and we headed out to taste the offerings of the Full Sail Microbrewery whose tasting room is located inside McCormick and Schmick's at riverplace marina, passing the Ira Keller fountain - designed by Angela Danadjieva apparently inspired by the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, east of Portland - along the way, which was teeming with kids playing in the water despite the 'caution...this fountain is not meant for wading' signs dotted about the place.

We had plans to meet Melissa's friend Julie for dinner at Park Kitchen in North Park area near the Pearl District so after sampling the Full Sail beers we headed back to the Pearl District to sample the beers at the Bridgeport Brew Pub along with some pretzels to line our stomachs. On the walk over we noticed many many folding chairs lined up for a front row seat to that evening's rose parade.

The restaurant was amazing, I am still craving their chick pea fries, salt cod fritters and chocolate tart. Afterwards we headed over to the Teardrop Lounge for cocktails, which was recommended by a BBC article on the best US cocktail bars and then Melissa and I toddled back to our hotel through the remnants of the parade for a final drink at the hotel bar fire pits. Obviously it was a boozy kind of kick off to our Pacific North West adventure.

Check me with my artsy photography ;-)

Friday, 24 June 2011

It's Just Not Worth It!!

Good Lord, how on earth is it the 23rd June already? I can't believe I have been back to work a week already after my Pacific North West trip. I just bumped into one of my account teams in the caff this afternoon, the first time I've seen them since I got back - well except for Brian, who I undoubtedly made an impression on in a meeting last Friday when I accidentally flashed him during a client call.

Nooooo, not on purpose. I couldn't help it, I reached over the table to get closer to the speaker and then realized that I had a loose scoop necked top on and that in leaning forward I'd probably given him an eye-full. What can I say I am a consummate professional who knows how to get ahead ha ha!! Anyway I bumped into the other 8 of them today and they were all "how was your trip?" and I was all "what trip?" It's already like a dim and distant memory. Thankfully I have a trip to LA and Vegas coming up in 5 weeks which is the trip I've been planning to squeeze into the bikini for, although after spending 10 days eating and drinking my way around the Pacific NW I've also invested in a couple of one piece swim suits as back up. Actually if the scales are to be believed I didn't put on so much as a lb, but things are definitely jiggling about much more than I like, so now I am back on a healthy eating kick and my return was perfectly timed so as to be vulnerable enough about my weight to be coerced into joining the office "Wellness Challenge" by 4 colleagues, a 10week health and nutrition event where 25 or so teams of 5 employees compete for...well I'm not sure what, there may be prizes, but it could well be just bragging rights. Anyway the upshot of this is that we have to log our health and exercise habits on a weekly basis, did we eat 3 servings of vegetables per day, did we eat 3 servings of fruit, did we take the stairs instead of the lift, did we use sunscreen every day, how much cardio, weight training, walking did we do etc. Anyway it's all pretty standard stuff and nothing I don't do on a regular basis with a couple of exceptions, the first being not drinking more than 1 alcoholic drink per night for the entire week.

The entire week!!!

Meaning you are not supposed to be teetotal during the week and then drink your entire booze allowance on a Friday and Saturday night, so that you average out at 1 drink/night, it's one drink per night or nothing, so all of us - except Kanayo who only has the tolerance for half a beer a week - are failing that one.

The second criteria that I am personally failing on, although I think a lot of my competition will not track this properly and just assume they did it, is to eat 25g of fiber per day - 38g for a guy, poor Tom - which I decided to try with the whole bikini thing in mind, because fiber helps you lose weight apparently plus I eat so much fruit and veg that I thought I'd achieve this without too many problems, but when I started tracking my meals on a few days ago I discovered on the first day that I only ate a paltry 6g of fiber - admittedly not the best day for me, well it was the first day of woman's week and I was craving carbs. After that I started to look at fiber rich foods - like raspberries which have 8g in a cup - to try and boost my consumption, but even then I've only been able to increase that to around 14g per day over the last 3 days so still a long way off the 25g goal, but I don't mind telling you I am not in the least bit thrilled about the side effects that began today. Talk about loud involuntary farts.

Good Lord, I do beg your pardon!!

Fortunately the first - and only - one of these occurred when I was in the ladies bathroom - two other cubicles were occupied and I was so mortified to have company that I waited for both occupants to leave and lifted my feet should I later be recognized as the culprit by my cute summer sandals. I've received a LOT of compliments on them so I know they are distinctive enough to identify the wearer - so at least I was in the right place, but my stomach rumbled alarmingly for the rest of the day and I noticed it was disturbingly bloated when I caught myself sideways on in my Pilates class, so much for flattening my transverse abdominus. Ugh, so not good, especially as I am actively trying to date at the moment too - bizarrely after having turned 40 on my vacation I returned to be bombarded with requests for dates by men in their late 20s. Who knew? - not unless I meet someone with a fetish for flatulence anyway!!

I'm starting my low fiber diet tomorrow!! ;-)

P.S. Vacation posts still to come, it's been a hectic week of insomnia and client deadlines...oh and fiber of course.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Vancouver: Public comes out to in droves to clean up.

Saddened though I was to hear the news of the riots in Vancouver following the Canucks 4-0 defeat by the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final, this story in toady's Vancouver Sun of city residents proudly coming out to help clean up the aftermath warmed my heart.

"Citizens armed with plastic bags and brooms swept up broken glass, litter and trash downtown this morning after last night's Stanley Cup riot. They worked alongside Vancouver City crews, who worked through the night and reported 90 per cent of the mess had been cleared by noon."

Bless!! I love Canadians!!

Video: Stanley Cup Riot: Public comes out to in droves to clean up.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

....And another one

So I’m back to work today and thoroughly exhausted having only just acclimatized to west coast time in the last few days, so I didn't fall asleep until close to 3am last night. Typical. The good news is that the time difference is helping me in my pursuit to become "a 9.30am arrival person" a la the majority of the agency as I didn't get up until 7.30am today - whoo hoo - and then various factors conspired against me to delay me getting ready - well not really I was just arsing about trying to shake myself awake. Anyway I had a lovely time touring the Pacific North West - adored Vancouver, so much so I will be rooting for them against Boston in the Stanley Cup final tonight. The Canadians we met were sooooo nice and Vancouver smells amazing what with the ocean and all the tree-life - although I don't feel as well rested as I would like what with only 4 and a bit hours sleep and also feel like a total lard arse having eaten and drunk my way across the area - amazing wines from the Okanagan Valley in Canada, although they have such a small production that you can't buy them outside of the country unfortunately

I got back into work to the news that one of my account directors is leaving to take a senior position with…drumroll please…our client, so now he’s going to be the one signing off on our scopes and calling us up at all hours with his demands!!! Weird eh!! I was kind of annoyed at him actually because he emailed me on Monday while I was still in Vancouver and which said "Any chance you can dial in @ 11am? It’s about me and my plans."

Oh well, if it's about YOU and YOUR plans then of course I will drop everything and dial in while I am supposed to be relaxing and forgetting about work so that I can return feeling refreshed, recharged and super motivated. Um, what part of the concept of VACATION are you failing to grasp??? Pht my calling in was so not happening, so I responded and said “no I am on vacation”, but then spent the morning feeling guilty about it which irritated me even more. Seriously, I was hopping mad that he'd even think to ask me such a thing especially since he isn’t leaving for another 6 weeks or so and hasn’t officially resigned yet. It didn't help that none of my team emailed to let me know the scoop - although they assumed the account director had emailed me himself - but there was no way I was asking and I'd forgotten about it by the afternoon. Anyway I found out from my team when I got back into the office today. It was quite hard not to tell the account director off this morning, but I squelched my irritation and gave him a congratulatory hug on his new role. Gotta keep my clients happy!! I'm such a suck up!!

It will be interesting to see how he deals with working client-side since he’s been an agency person for over a decade and works agency hours. He’s usually in close to 7am – a fellow non-9.30am person - and works through to 7pm – so I am curious to see how he copes with having a team of people who can’t get out the door fast enough come 5pm, I’m sure that’s when his former colleagues at the agency will feel his presence the most as he’ll know full well that we’ll still be slaving away.

Anyway I shall post about my trip soon, but in the meantime…go Canucks!!!