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The Garth

Posted by Sas on January 17, 2017

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After my night-time hike up Pen y Fan on New Years Eve, I was definitely up for putting my walking boots back on as soon as possible (or as soon as my legs stopped aching, at least). My wish was soon granted when a friend said she was looking for people to join her on a walk up Garth Mountain organised by Cardiff Council. For all the things we have to moan about our local council, we are lucky that they organise a programme of free events throughout the year. Part of that programme is a series of 3 hikes guided by the council rangers.

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At 307m, Garth Mountain is more just a big hill. ‘Garth’ in fact means ‘hill’ in Welsh, and locally it is simply known as ‘The Garth’. Only a twenty minute drive or train journey from Cardiff, it provides accessible walks from the city where you can enjoy incredible views over South Wales. We started our walk from Taffs Well train station. There are a number if routes up The Garth, and the one we took was a steep ascent with a more gradual descent. The path uphill was mainly stones underfoot, with steps cut into the hillside. We also followed the tarmac road for part of it. The route down was slippery thanks to the damp, grassy ground. I knew we had definitely taken the right route when we met a young man covered in mud at the top who was walking in the opposite direction to us. Sliding downhill on the mud may be a challenge, but it’s a lot harder to climb up a muddy slope.

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The weather in South Wales can be, shall we say, unpredictable. We were so lucky to have an almost perfectly clear day. On the city side of the mountains we could see the whole of Cardiff right down to Cardiff Bay. On the opposite side, looking up the valley, the skies were clear up to the start of the Brecon Beacons. And, towards the border, we couldn’t quite see the Severn Bridge. Some of the other walkers in our group are incredibly knowledgeable about the geography of the area. This really helped me as I’m short-sighted and I wasn’t wearing my glasses. They patiently answered my questions such as ‘What’s that white blob?’ and ‘Are they all wind turbines over there?’

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Experiencing adventures isn’t always about travelling thousands of miles and visiting other countries. Sometimes it is simply exploring what’s on your doorstep.

 

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Pen y Fan: Conquered

Posted by Sas on January 10, 2017

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At 886m, Pen y Fan (pronounced ‘pen-ee-van’) is the highest peak in South Wales and the Southern UK. Amongst other things, it is famous for being the place where army recruits are pushed to their physical limit. However, on a sunny weekend afternoon you will also see family members of all ages hiking up the mountain to have their photo taken on the cairn at the top. Anyone in good physical fitness can tackle Pen y Fan, but don’t let that mislead you into thinking the mountain isn’t a dangerous place. One of the things that makes Pen y Fan an easier summit to conquer is that the road up to the mountain is already at a high elevation, deceptively so if you take the gently rising route from Cardiff. Only an hours drive from the city centre and the coast (that’s a short distance in Welsh driving time – we don’t really have motorways), you don’t realise how far above sea level you are. For those who have no interest in hiking up mountains, by the way, the drive through the Brecon Beacons is well worth a day out on its own and you don’t even have to step out of the car to experience the breathtaking views. Once you take on Pen y Fan, though, you gain more elevation very quickly and the weather and conditions can change almost instantly.

My first attempt at climbing Pen y Fan was about 3 years ago. We had endured a cold and icy January and February in South Wales, and it had even snowed in Cardiff (when you see actual snow in Cardiff, you know the rest of the country must be neck-deep in the stuff). In March, the weather changed suddenly and dramatically. The sun came out, skies were blue with barely a cloud to be seen, and most people were wearing shorts and t-shirts. One of my managers at work wanted to hike Pen y Fan as part of a training programme she was on for a bigger challenge up in Scotland, and she asked for volunteers to keep her company. As a non-native keen to tick another item off my ‘Things you have to do when you live in Wales’ list, I eagerly raised my hand. We parked at The Storey Arms, the most popular starting point for Pen y Fan. The first half of our walk went really well, and we all happily marched along enjoying the beautiful weather and incredible views. We did think it a little odd when two men passed us in the opposite direction wearing crampons and carrying ice axes, but we didn’t give it too much thought. Our route took us to the peak of Corn Du (pronounced ‘Corn-dee’), Pen y Fan’s neighbour, first. It’s one of those optical illusions that are common in nature that makes Corn Du look higher than Pen y Fan when you’re stood at the bottom. Although at 873m, there isn’t a lot in it. We were about halfway up Corn Du when we started to spot the first patches of snow. By the time we got to the top, it was like an ice rink. My manager still insisted it was fine and we should carry on to Pen y Fan, then she slipped and launched herself into my backpack. As I watched two black Labradors slide past me, desperately trying to get a purchase on the ice, I proposed we leave the higher, and therefore even icier, summit for another day.

So, for the last 3 years I’ve been dreaming of getting back up Pen y Fan to finish what I started. I could, of course, have just driven back up there on a nice sunny summer day and ambled up to the top with a packed lunch. But no, that would be far too easy. Instead, I decided to sign up for a walk up Pen y Fan, in the dark, on New Years Eve.

When you tell people you live in Wales, there are a few facts about the country they will relay to you. Some of these are related to famous Welsh people like Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony  Hopkins or The Stereophonics. Another is that we have a lot of castles. Possibly the most well known fact about Wales, though, is that the country is not known for it’s great weather. As I looked at the weather forecast on the morning of 31st December, in the vain hope that it would say 20° and calm, I wondered what I had signed myself up for. Why couldn’t I have just gone to the pub on New Years Eve like everyone else?

Although it is of course free for anyone to climb Pen y Fan whenever they want (and a surprising number do on New Years Eve), I chose to sign up for a guided walk with SVL Adventures. For the small fee they charge, you get a fully guided walk with people who know the mountain like the back of their hand and have lots of knowledge and expertise to share.

My evening started off in a very covert fashion as I followed the directions to the meeting point that our guide Simon has sent me (only people who signup for the walk are allowed to know the location of the meeting point). There were 18 of us in our group, plus Simon and two other guides. We quickly got our gear ready and attached green glowsticks to each other’s backpacks so we could be counted in the dark. I briefly wondered if said glowsticks had any impact on the number of UFO sightings reported in the Brecon Beacons. At about 9.30pm we were all ready to set off on our adventure. I’m so glad that Simon was there to lead us, because in daylight I don’t have a great sense of direction, and in the pitch dark I didn’t have a clue where I was. Left to my own devices, I probably would have just walked laps around the car park. Climbing Pen y Fan at night obviously means you don’t get to see any of the breathtaking scenery, but I have to say, when it is all lit up, Brecon is quite a sight from above.

Most of the elevation in the route wee took is in the first hour of the hike. Along with the fact that the first section was sheltered from the wind, this made it much more manageable for me psychologically. We took regular breaks, and luckily the temperature wasn’t cold enough to freeze my hydration pack.

After the first steep climb, the ground levelled  out a little bit and we started to walk along a ridge (apparently – I honestly couldn’t tell in the dark). Simon warned us as we were approaching a much more exposed section, and a few seconds later I was almost blown off my feet. Fortunately it wasn’t a head wind, so I did at least feel like I was still getting somewhere as I put one foot in front of the other. Simon kept us all in check with helpful advice such as ‘Don’t go more than two feet to the left because you’ll fall off the mountain’ and ‘Don’t panic if you see green eyes staring at you in the dark, it’s only sheep’. I must admit, after hiking in bear and moose country in Alaska last year, having sheep as the only wildlife to worry about at least ticked one item off my list of concerns.

Because we were such an organised and efficient group (I bet Simon say that to all his groups!), we had plenty of time to reach the summit of Pen y Fan by midnight. It’s surprising how many other people you bump into up there, I dread to think how busy it gets during the day when only sane people hike it. We all queued up to get our obligatory photo on the cairn, someone shouted ‘It’s midnight!’, and then after a quick rendition of Auld Lang Syne we all realised we were stood on top of a mountain in freezing cold winds and decided it was time to head back down.

We took a circular route back via Corn Du, thankfully once again using the more sheltered areas of the  mountain. We did have light rain on and off throughout the hike, but it was never so bad that I had to put my waterproofs on and my walking trousers were dry again by the time I got back to my car at 3am. Later that same day, a friend of mine hiked to the top of Pen y Fan and it was covered in snow. We didn’t see one snowflake whilst we were there, so it just goes to show how quickly conditions can change on the mountain.

Climbing Pen y Fan was an exciting way to see in the New Year, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting challenge. Yes, I did go to the pub on New Years Day, but I felt I deserved that pint of cider after the work I’d put in the night before.

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Why I’m OK with failing my 2016 challenge

Posted by Sas on December 24, 2016

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At the start of 2016, I set myself an annual challenge. Sasieology is about visiting new places and trying new experiences as a vegan. This year, I set myself a target of visiting 12 new places and trying 12 new activities, one for each month of the year. And I failed. I don’t mean I missed my goal by just one or two, either. I failed miserably. But do you know what? I don’t mind, because one of the big things I have learnt this year is to not give myself such a hard time when I don’t meet my own expectations. I probably could have pushed myself to visit more new destinations, and signed up for countless activities just for the sake of hitting my target, but I would have exhausted myself and no doubt stressed myself out about the whole thing. Instead, I just allowed 2016 to take me where it wanted to.

There are lots of reasons why I didn’t achieve my aim this year. Back in January, I had a whole list of places I thought I’d go and ideas for activities that I could try. But then, life got in the way. I got a bit distracted by my new job, which certainly isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life but it is a whole lot better than my last job. I spent over 5 years working for a company that seemed intent on sapping even the last bit of energy and enthusiasm out of me. Now, I work for a company where my energy and ideas are encouraged and I feel valued and respected. And if putting more effort into my new job for a while means I’m not spending so much time on my blog, that’s a hit I can take.

And while I didn’t make many of the places on my intended list for 2016, the year did take me to a lot of new places that I wasn’t expecting. My sneaky friends got me to Amsterdam (not that I took much persuading) for their secret surprise wedding, and when another friend was packed off to Frankfurt to work for three months, I jumped at the chance to go and visit her and also explore Cologne whilst I was there. Then, I returned to Germany to meet up with some travelling buddies in Berlin.

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I also got the chance to revisit an area that I’d kind of side-swiped years earlier when I went skiing in Les Arcs and Le Plagne in France. Plus, I returned to some old favourites such as The Green Gathering Festival just down the road in Chepstow, and visiting my family in Austria.

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Although I haven’t got around to trying many new activities this year, I have signed myself up for some interesting past-times and workshops. Earlier in the year I learnt how to prune fruit trees, which has proved very useful in Plasnewydd Community Garden where I volunteer. I was also dragged in as a last minute replacement for a workshop where we learnt to upcycle our clothes as part of #LoveYourClothes week in Cardiff. They needed a couple of extra people to be in photos, but I actually got so engrossed with the vest top I was upcycling that I completely forgot the camera was there. Considering I was pretty much banned from Home Economics class at school because I kept breaking all the equipment (not on purpose, which my teacher understood, but still annoying very costly to the school), I thought I did quite well and I can’t wait to show off my new vest top once summer eventually arrives in Wales again.

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One of my big focuses of 2016 has been to increase my voluntary work, both by getting involved in more local projects and volunteering at vegan events. I flyered two vegan festivals this year. I have to admit I was expecting at least a little negativity from the general omnivore public, but everyone was lovely to talk to apart from one man who simply shouted ‘I love pork’ at me (clearly eating meat has done nothing for his articulation or communication skills). I am also part of a group formed to open the first library of things in Cardiff. The project is still in its early stages, but we are very excited and I can’t wait to tell you all more soon. If anyone in the Cardiff area would like to know how you can get involved, please let me know.

So, as you can see, although I didn’t hit my target of 12 new destinations and 12 new activities in 2016, I have still had a busy year. I’ve already got some exciting and new experiences planned for 2017, so please keep reading Sasieology for updates. I’d love to hear from some of my readers about your travels and adventures too. This is me signing off for 2016, but before I go I’d like to wish you all a very merrry Christmas and a happy new year wherever you are in the world x

 

 

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Edible Adamsdown Seedling Swap

Posted by Sas on May 24, 2016

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There are some events I get invited to where I have to double check I’ve heard correctly. ‘Sorry, you want me to go to a what?’

That was possibly the reaction I had when Becca from Edible Adamsdown Community Garden first invited me to their seedling swap (and I apologise to Becca if it was). However, I can honestly say that the event is a brilliant idea and really good fun.

As many of you who read my blog regularly will know, I volunteer in Plasnewydd Community Garden in Cardiff. This is a good point in this post to shamelessly plug the new blog that we have created for the garden, and please click the link and follow us if you feel so inclined to do so. If you do take the time to read the garden blog, you will now also know that we haven’t had the greatest of starts to the growing season this year. Out of all the human errors and natural disasters that I fear may dramatically affect our food supplies, I didn’t expect ants to have such an impact. They have taken over all our raised beds, and are systematically eating everything that we plant. Which is why the seedling swap was the perfect solution to our critter problem.

The way the swap works is simple. Each person brings along surplus seedlings from their garden, they all get displayed together, and then you take other people’s seedlings that you need. Or, if you don’t have anything to swap, you can give a donation instead.

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I must admit, I did feel a bit inadequate when I filled our box up ready to take to the event. All we could muster was a few strawberry plants and some trays of sweet Williams from last year that were looking a little worse for wear. I needn’t have worried, though. The sweet Williams were a huge success, especially when I told people they are perfect for filling in gaps in any garden. And we are one step closer to taking over Cardiff with Plasnewydd Garden strawberries (our strawberries have a well-known history of growing shoots and replanting themselves at an alarming speed).

And what did I get in return? Some purple sprouting broccoli (which was already so healthy I transplanted it straight into the brassicas bed), cauliflower, pak choi and a pepper. Cauliflowers because we’ve never been able to grow them at Plasnewydd for some unknown reason, and the pak choi and the pepper as a bit of an experiment for future seasons.

Josh from the Real Junk Food Project was also there to fuel everyone, and there were a lot of people for him to feed. Aside from the seedlings, it was great to catch up with people, meet other gardeners and swap tips.

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The Many Sides to Frankfurt

Posted by Sas on May 17, 2016

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As much as I love ticking famous landmarks and tourist attractions off my bucket list when I visit new places, I also like to see and experience their other sides. Having grown up in a tourist town myself, I am very aware that what most tourists see is only a small part of a town or city. For the people who live there, life is far from a vacation.

During my time in Frankfurt, I signed up for the Frankfurt Free Alternative Walking Tour. Organised and guided by a group of students, the free walking tour aims to give visitors an insight into the different neighbourhoods of Frankfurt and what it’s like to live there. Well known sights such as the old town, the Iron Bridge and the river Main are included. However, the guides also show you areas of the city that might not be an obvious choice for some.

Like most cities, Frankfurt has its fair share of problems. Unlike most cities, Frankfurt takes a very positive approach to tackling these issues. When drug use became more and more common in the city, moving around from area to area as each neighbourhood was gentrified and addicts were moved on to somewhere else, the city council designated an area where taking drugs is not illegal. Covering about 4 blocks, it is still against the law to sell and possess drugs, but drug users can feel safer in the knowledge they will not be arrested for a being a victim to their addiction. This approach to the problem puts the responsibility on to the drug dealers, not the users, who are after all the people that the police really want to target. There are ‘shooting galleries’ where drug users can obtain clean needles and use a clean, private space in which to inject. These centres also make it easier for people to receive medical attention should anything go wrong, and deaths from overdoses have greatly reduced since Frankfurt initiated  the policy. The acceptance of  drug use in Frankfurt has also led to another loophole in the law. Urinating in the street is illegal in Germany. Just like drug taking, though, the city council and police still know it’s going to happen. Rather than trying to stop people from doing it, they have instead constructed urinals in the streets. The small structures have been tastefully designed, and if you didn’t know what they are you could be forgiven for thinking they are works of modern art. Whilst I was on the walking tour I witnessed one young man crossing the road to use one of the urinals. Having witnessed many men in Cardiff, where I live, peeing wherever they stood, I can’t help but think this tactic would work in other cities too.

Our next stop on the tour was the red light district. Prostitution is something that is legal in Germany, so seeing brothels in the city is not so much of a surprise. Our guide showed us the outside of one of the biggest brothels in Europe. Unfortunately, I was unable to take any photos as the brothel is rumoured to be owned by the Hell’s Angels and they have previously requested that people don’t photograph the building. It reminded me of something you would see on Route 66, with mannequins  in outrageous costumes displayed on the balconies alongside the residents’ drying laundry. The building is huge, and as a legal business they must pay taxes. Apparently, the German government earns millions of euros per year just from this one brothel. Although there are usually no female visitors allowed, Frankfurt has an annual evening where brothels are encouraged to open their doors to everyone. This means you can speak to the women who work there directly and ask any questions you may have about their life and occupation. Just like the city’s approach to drug use, I wonder if this more open approach to the oldest job in the world might work elsewhere.

Usually when walking through cities you are encouraged to look up and observe the buildings and features that you might otherwise miss. In Germany, one artist encourages you to look down. Berlin-born Gunter Demnig is the man behind the idea to place small brass stolpersteine (‘stumbling blocks’) outside where people killed by the Nazis once lived. Once you’ve had one of the blocks pointed out, you realise they are everywhere. And not just in Frankfurt, many cities in Germany and other European countries have joined in with the project. The plaques give the name of the individual, date of birth, date of death and how they died, if that information is available. As you would expect, many of the plaques are in memory of Jews killed in concentration camps. The first group of people to be murdered by the Nazis was actually the gypsy community, and they were soon followed by homosexuals and anyone with physical disabilities or mental health problems. Basically, anyone who did not fit the ideal of the regime was a target. Some people think it disrespectful to remember the victims with these plaques, and don’t believe we should walk over them. The artist’s intention, though, was that we should walk over them. They are made from brass so that, as more and more pedestrians brush over the plaques, the more they shine. The stumbling blocks are a reminder that, as we go about our lives, we should never forget the victims of past mistakes. Modern Germany has accepted its past and the errors made by some of its country men and women. Hopefully, with the help of thinkers and artists such as Gunter Demnig, we will learn not to repeat the same mistakes.

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If you are interested in art, there are lots of examples around Frankfurt. My personal favourite is the spidermen. A group of art students placed 8 models of the superhero around the city. Good luck spotting all 8 of them, though. Our guide told us that, even though they walk around the city every day with visitors, they have only been able to spot 3 of the spidermen.

Drug addicts, brothels and maybe even spidermen might not be on your wishlist when you visit Frankfurt, but I would definitely recommend the Frankfurt Free Alternative Walking Tour. The guides have nothing but respect for all the inhabitants of Frankfurt, and simply want to show a balanced representation of the city. Spending an afternoon with them has encouraged me to seek out other alternative walking tours when on my travels.

 

Useful Info:

The Frankfurt Free Alternative Walking Tour is, of course, free but tipping is strongly recommended. The walk lasts 2-2.5 hours.

 

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Fruit Pruning

Posted by Sas on February 16, 2016

 

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In previous years, I have challenged myself to try at least one new activity. This year, I have challenged myself to try 12 new activities, one for each month. Some activities are extreme and adrenalin-fuelled, some come under the banner of arts and crafts and some… Well, let’s just say I’m learning things I never thought I would.

For the past few years, I have been volunteering in Plasnewydd Community Garden in Cardiff. Initially I just wanted to have a go at growing vegetables, but I have gathered such a massive amount of knowledge since I’ve been there that I feel I can now call myself a gardener. Working in the garden has led me to pick up skills I never knew I would need in life – like when I learnt how to scythe back in 2014.

Pruning the fruit trees and bushes is something that has been on our ‘to do’ list all winter. The only problem was, none of us really knew much about pruning. So, when another local garden invited me along to a fruit pruning workshop, I jumped at the chance. Armed with my new pruning shears, I braved the cold, wind and rain to learn all I could about raspberries, apples, pears, blackcurrants, gooseberries, grapes and more. By the end of the two hours we were all so cold that no-one could move their hands enough to operate the shears, but we had a lot of fun and learned a lot. Plus, we also got to use loppers and a saw, which is always satisfying.

Fruit trees and bushes of Plasnewydd – watch out!

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Dear readers, I need your assistance…

Posted by Sas on December 26, 2015

Sasieology is all about visiting new places and trying new experiences. When I first started this blog, I challenged myself to visit at least one new place and try at least one new experience or activity every year. I have certainly achieved that target in 2015.

In January, I went skiing in Andorra

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I managed to squeeze in a camping weekend to Watchet in Somerset…

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My big adventure of the year started in Sacramento, CA…

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Before a whirlwind tour of the Northwest coast of the USA, stopping in Portland

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… and Seattle

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Then I chilled out on the deck of an Alaska Marine Highway ferry for three nights…

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When I arrived in Alaska, I visited so many amazing places like KetchikanHaines, Skagway, Anchorage, Homer, Seward, Whittier, Valdez, McCarthy, Kennecott, Tangle Lakes and Denali. I also got to try glacier walking, and I took a flightseeing tour over Wrangell St Elias National Park…

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Back in Cardiff, I used my detective skills to give a murder mystery a try…

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And I also chilled out in a massage workshop with my friend Alicia…

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Now that 2015 is almost over, it’s time to think about next year. Call me crazy, but I have decided to try and do even more next year. My plan is to visit 12 new places and try 12 new experiences, one for each month of the year.

So, I need your help to generate some ideas. I already have some trips planned, and some ideas of activities that I’d like to try. But, what do you think should be on my list for 2016? I will only consider ideas that are vegan-friendly, and I will probably be staying within Europe, but I would love to hear what you all think. 🙂

 

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The Art of Self and Peer Massage

Posted by Sas on October 5, 2015

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As my regular readers will know, I love hunting out and experiencing new activities. I always love discovering ways to live a healthier lifestyle. So, when Alicia Kon told me about The Art of Self and Peer Massage workshop that she teaches, I had to give it a try.

I have suffered from migraines for the past 12 years. I believe there are a number of factors in my life that come together to cause them, and the loss of a family member triggered the first one. I’ve tried many different treatments and medicines over the years, some of which have worked and others have made things worse. Although conventional western medicine does cure my migraines most of the time, I find that doctors have very little interest in the cause of them and how they can be prevented. All they want to do is treat the symptoms. Learning proper massage techniques can help deal with the pain caused by migraines, headaches, back ache and other muscular and joint issues. If you can incorporate it into your routine, massage can help you to relax more and reduce stress, one of the major causes of migraines.

So, on a slightly chilly and grey Sunday afternoon in Wales, I threw a pot of tiger balm into my bag, tucked my yoga mat under my arm and headed over to Cardiff MADE to meet Alicia and the others who would be taking part in the workshop. It was the perfect venue for the course. Hidden away in the loft space, it was nice and cosy for us to practice the different techniques on each other.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the workshop. I’ve had people massage me before, but I’ve never learnt how to massage someone else properly. With Alicia’s calming voice expertly talking me through everything, though, I didn’t have anything to worry about. The workshop lasted 3 hours, although we were all so engrossed in what we were doing that it didn’t even feel like one hour had passed! We started by learning some simple techniques that pretty much anyone can use on themselves everyday. Just a few minutes in the morning can help wake your body up for the day, and if you practice the exercises before you go to bed they can help you sleep better. I don’t know about you, but these are both things I could use some help with on a daily basis.

The second part of the course was where we got to practice massage techniques on each other. Having a real life person responding to your touch is a great way to learn what you’re doing right, and their facial expressions will soon tell you what you’re doing wrong. When you are the person being massaged you gain an even better understanding of what you are doing to the body and how it feels. Alicia also taught us to adapt our technique to suit our own strengths and abilities, and also the physique and flexibility of the person you are touching. I even learnt a few things about myself – who knew that the vertebrae in my spine are so evenly spaced?!

I came out of the workshop feeling relaxed and refreshed. I feel confident enough to use the techniques that Alicia has taught me. Obviously, after just three hours I am no expert. However, Alicia is, so I asked her a few questions about The Art of Self and Peer Massage which she very kindly answered below.

Alicia will be holding another workshop on Sunday 11th October as part of Made in Roath 2016. For more information you can contact her aliciakon.health@gmail.com

Alicia, can you explain what The Self and Peer Massage workshop is all about?

Self Massage is based on Do In, an ancient technique from China which is very useful to prevent health issues and to help keep yourself active and fit. Some minutes everyday does the trick! Peer Massage is based on Shiatsu (from the Japanese, shi: finger, atsu: pressure) so using our fingers, palms, knuckles, elbows  we will be massaging others – the basic and most immediate result of this action/contact is increased blood and energy circulation, it raises spirits and is a first step to better health. I will be teaching acupressure points for when you have a headache, lower back pain, etc.

Who can benefit from Self and Peer Massage?

Everybody can benefit from it, and that is my philosophy behind the workshop – I am passionate about empowering people and bringing these simple techniques back into their hands.

Is it suitable for practicing while travelling?

It is an excellent tool and knowledge to use while travelling. You can apply it to yourself and on fellow travellers you meet on the way 🙂

Do you need any special equipment?

No, the heart of it is YOU CAN ONLY DO GOOD when your intention is loving, that’s why we will be exploring re-linking ourselves to the instinctive and healing power of touch, ours by birth right.

Sasieology is all about visiting new destinations and experiencing new activities. Which destination is on top of your bucket list and what activity would you like to try?

So many! Hawaii and Iceland are the latest 2. Surfing in Hawaii and walking in Iceland are some of the activiites I’d love to try out.

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Murder Mystery Treasure Trail Cardiff

Posted by Sas on September 28, 2015

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My friends complain that I’m really difficult to buy gifts for, but they always get me great things. A couple of years ago, my friend Catherine bought me a murder mystery themed Treasure Trail for Cardiff. In all honesty, I filed it away somewhere vowing to get it out and actually do it one day. As the weather was so beautiful in Cardiff this weekend, and believe me that is not something  we have said often this year, I decided to go on that treasure hunt that I had been promising myself.

Treasure Trails have designed hundreds of these handy little packs for locations all over the UK. As you follow the clues to solve the puzzle you are taken on a cultural tour that pushes you to find details you wouldn’t normally notice. It’s great fun if you have kids, although admittedly I followed the trail all on my and it was just as entertaining.

The Cardiff murder mystery trail begins at the National Museum of Wales. A mummified body has been discovered in the Ancient Egyptian exhibition, and it’s been deceased for less than 2 months. My quest was to find out who carried out this crime and how the victim died. The first clue was on the foundation plaque outside the museum, and involved some maths which left me in a bit of a panic. You are allowed to request 3 answers to clues via SMS, and I had an embarrassing vision of me using all three of them on the first 3 questions. After double checking my numbers, though, I was able to figure it out and I was off.

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Clue 4 is where I came unstuck. After walking in circles around Bute Park for 30 minutes, I remembered that it had recently had a renovation, since my trail was published in fact. Maybe I shouldn’t have waited so long to solve this murder mystery.

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Over two hours, the trail took me on a gentle walk around the park, castle, the Millennium Stadium and city centre. After living in Cardiff for 8 years, I’m ashamed to admit just how much I haven’t noticed before. I have walked through The Hayes hundreds of times and yet never known that some of the traffic bollards I am rushing past have spy holes with beautiful silhouetted scenes inside them.

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Unfortunately, I’m not the best at following directions and I did get lost/confused a few times. Maybe I should have brought a child along to help me. There was also an amusing moment when I was looking for a clue outside the Hilton hotel. At the same time, there was a crowd of rugby fans waiting for the All Blacks to leave the building. Stood there with my camera and notebook I must have looked like a serious autograph hunter. They all looked a little shocked when, once I’d found my clue, I moved on before the players had even appeared.

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The murder mystery trail is a great, cheap way to spend a couple of hours. I’m definitely going to check out some of the other trails when I’m visiting other UK cities. When I was a kid, there was a popular British TV show called Treasure Hunt. Anneka Rice would fly around the UK in her helicopter, wearing a lycra jumpsuit, and help players to solve clues. I used to love following along at home, and dreamed of one day being on such an adventure. The lycra jumpsuit probably wouldn’t have been appropriate on this occasion and the helicopter would have been a little extravagant, but I got to experience a real life treasure hunt.

My biggest piece of advice would be, unlike I did, to use an up-to-date trail. I resorted to the magic of google to fill in a few gaps, but I did make it to the end. And did I solve the mystery? Well, I can’t give that away can I? You’ll have to come to Cardiff and try for yourself.

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Hello from Rainy Denali

Posted by Sas on July 3, 2015

Wow! I’ve done soooo much since I last posted. We’ve been making our way across Alaska, where most of our stops have limited internet access hence me not posting. It’s taken me a whole day and over 5 attempts to upload these photos!

We left Valdez and headed into Wrangell St Elias national park, probably everyone’s favourite place on the trip. We stayed in a town called McCarthy (year-round population 25-40, depending on who you ask). It is such a cool place, and I think we are really privileged to have stayed there because not many people get to.

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I joined in with the weekly softball game (by the way, I was the only person from my group who played)…

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Whilst in the national park, I did an amazing glacier walk on crampons…

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I went on a tour of the copper mill in Kennecott…

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And I also took a flightseeing tour so I could see the glaciers and icefield from above…

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Unfortunately, once we arrived in Denali national park the good weather I’ve had for the past three weeks left and we haven’t been able to see much. I was hoping to at least see part of Mt McKinley/Denali, but even the mountains in front of it weren’t visible.

DSC_0321 DSC_0325Our eight hours sat on the bus through Denali national park weren’t completely wasted, though. We saw a brown bear, caribou and more moose. So, even though I didn’t get to see the mountain, I’ve ticked off my list all the wildlife that I wanted to.

We’re driving back to Anchorage tomorrow, then I have to fly back to the UK on the weekend 😦 I’ve  got lots more photos to share with you all, so keep checking in for further posts.

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