So chums, it’s just been my two month Dubai-iversary (can I get away with that? Not sure I can…) Woo! Go me! Etc! And whilst at some point I might do a highly practical guide to uprooting your whole life and moving to a country you’d only previously visited for a total of 48 hours (if you feel so inclined), right now what I feel so inclined to do is to share some of the less expected stuff that’s happened to me in my first 60-ish days in the sandpit. I’ve really taken to calling Dubai that – factual, yet playful, I feel. Anyway…

Various car woes 

Until a couple of weeks ago, I had barely driven a left hand drive, had never driven an automatic and sure as hell had not been in a Nissan Sunny. Now, I do all three on the daily. As well as my many very successful trips – office, hardware store, garden centre – there’s also been:

  • The time I got a parking fine. My manicure got quite expensive that day. But it’s powder pink, makes me look tanned and is still going strong a week and a half later, so it was almost worth it. 
  • The time I got reversed into whilst – surprisingly – I was stationary and minding my own business. 
  • The time(s) I’ve almost run out of petrol. Yeh, you know when you’re doing 100kmh along a five lane wide road and you can just *feel* your poor car is about to give up the ghost? I didn’t like that. Not one bit. 
  • And my favourite so far, the time we drove to the desert to go camping, got lost, it got dark, we got stuck in the sand, my attempt at getting us out only buried the car deeper and we eventually had to flag down three passing men in a pickup to push us out. 

Various bird woes

If you follow me on Instagram, you might’ve seen that I acquired a somewhat unwelcome pet within a day of moving into my apartment. A pigeon (I called her Bob) decided to make my tiny balcony home, and laid two eggs. I freaked out one morning, removed the eggs (I know, I know, I am a terrible person), cried when I watched a panic-stricken Bob come back and have been racked with guilt ever since. Well, Karma (or rather, just Bob) has come back to get me, as whenever I now try to enjoy the view of the Marina in the early evening sunshine, she comes back and terrorises me off my balcony. I’m not even being melodramatic here, at the weekend she hid around the corner then took a dive for my head. She’s smart, that one. I’m also thinking about getting a cat. 

One really big iPhone woe

You know those nights where you ‘go for a couple of beers’ to round off your working week and end up getting in 10 hours later? Well, apparently they still happen to me, wherever I am living. This particular one (in which I also drank bright blue concoctions like I was 19 again – and wouldn’t have the hangover of someone 10 years older) resulted in me almost ruining my brand new pair of white leather pumps, leaving my phone in a taxi and spending the entire rest of the weekend watching it not move on Find my iPhone. Luckily, Dubai is the kinda place where people don’t steal stuff (sensible side note: it genuinely feels really safe here and it’s one of the things I’m really liking. Knowing that there’s pretty much zero chance of someone grabbing your phone out of your hand whilst you’re walking along is actually pretty nice. Or it’s ridiculous that that’s a ‘thing’ in London… but, whatever) so my taxi driver drove it back to me, and only asked for a very reasonable remuneration for his bother.

This isn’t to say I’m not enjoying myself. This is more of a handy reminder that whilst in my head – and on my Instagram – it was going to be all beaches, tanning, brunches and views of tall buildings (there has been a lot of that too), living the dream is also a bit bloody awkward sometimes. There’s loads more of this to come. I’m about to go into my first Dubai summer of 50+ degree heat and stifling humidity. Oh, and I haven’t even ventured onto Tinder yet. Brace yourselves.

Earlier this month, this blog of mine turned six years old.

Even typing that sentence, as I just have, on my actual MacBook, feels weird. Blogging doesn’t exist anymore, not like it used to. We’ve gone from no one having a blog, to everyone having a blog, to now – where it seems as if we’re back at a nobody again.

I’ve managed to write at least a couple of posts every year that this site has been in existence, but I’ve come within seconds of deleting the whole damn thing on several occasions. If no one writes blogs or reads blogs anymore, then what is the point of owning one? But then I remembered, that has never been the point. I’ve never written a word in the hope that someone else would read it (okay okay, apart from a handful of thinly veiled passive aggressive rants aimed at my evil ex, but there’s at least one more of those to come…) – it’s always been for my own self-absorbed interest.

I’ve never hit ‘delete’ because I knew there’d always be a point when I feel like writing something again. And lucky for you (or just me, when I read this back in a few minutes), that time is now.

Whilst everyone has migrated elsewhere on the internet and are busy abusing their ‘friends’ on Facebook, trolling ‘celebrities’ on Twitter and slipping into each other’s DM’s left, right and centre on Instagram, I’m going to use the relative quiet of this space here in the corner, to get some of my thoughts straight. It’s nice to have somewhere where there’s not quite so much yelling. Oh man, there’s just so much yelling.

I don’t need facts or figures or graphs or studies to persuade me how to vote on 23 June. I don’t need TV debates or experts. And I’m getting pretty good at ignoring the utter crap that the tabloids publish on their front pages.

Whether Britain should remain in or leave the EU isn’t a matter of weighing up the arguments and pondering both sides, because it’s more than that. It’s emotional, it’s innate.

I’m an EU resident currently residing in an EU country and I want it to stay that way.

I live in London, which – as I’ve said before – is one of the greatest cities in the world. One of the reasons that I love London is the diversity. I don’t get annoyed hearing the many languages spoken here and seeing the many faces living here, I feel enriched by it. Yes, London is hard work sometimes, but it’s people make this baffling and beautiful place what it is.

London’s offices, homes, bars, shops, buses, trains, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and streets are filled by people from all over the world. And a heck of a lot of them from all over the EU. My life is made better by the many different people I live with, work with, run with and socialise with. I don’t want anyone of them to feel like they aren’t welcome in London or anywhere in Britain.

On the flip side, I also want to feel welcome across Europe. I have travelled to countries within the EU numerous times, and this has increased dramatically within the last few years. I think nothing of jumping on a flight and exploring a different city for the weekend. Or running a half marathon in one of our European neighbours. I’d spend a few days in Berlin, Paris or Barcelona as easily, probably more cheaply and definitely more frequently that I would Leeds, Liverpool or Manchester.

This makes me extremely privileged, but this is how I chose to spend my salary. Others may save for a place of their own, I go on little adventures that I am lucky enough to have within only a few hours of my doorstep.

But this isn’t just about the future of budget airlines or keeping millennials boredom-free at weekends. It’s about the fact that me, and many other people, have grown up in Britain but also feel European.

It’s in the books I read, the language lessons I take, the sports I watch, the dreams I have.

I will genuinely just feel very sad if we vote leave next week.

And if we do, I’m moving to Spain (whilst I still can).

I’ve been into this running thing for a while now. In fact, in a couple of months it will be the five year anniversary of my very first race. So naturally, I’m friends with, I run with and I connect with a lot of super amazing bad ass runners. People who run crazy distances week in, week out. People who run ultras, people who do triathlons, people who run ridiculously fast. All of them are doing wonderful stuff. And then there’s me.

Obviously I am in awe of all these people. They show grit and determination and a whole lot of something I don’t have. I just don’t have the bother. I really like running, but in five years I haven’t got a whole heap better. I’ve taken 11 minutes off my 10k and 14 minutes off my half marathon time, which to me is still the same ballpark. Not a massive step forward. And most of the time, that’s fine by me. But recently, for the first time, I have felt the balance of being inspired and enthused by those around me tip in favour of feeling overwhelmed, and frankly, completely inadequate.

Mostly because I’ve stayed still, just circling around myself for so long.

I also found myself questioning my decision not to run another marathon (at least not for a while). Then thinking screw marathons, why aren’t I running ultras? Everyone else seems to love running for hours on end through the countryside, why don’t I? Maybe I should get swimming lessons, everyone on my Twitter is in a wetsuit these days, after all. Perhaps I should’ve bought a sportier bike, and then I could go on longer rides at the weekends.

But then I remember. I don’t want to do any of those things. Running halves and having a modest time goal. Going to yoga and yet still not being able to touch my toes. Pootling around London on my sexy red bike. These are things I want to do.

Sure, these things aren’t the most inspiring; relative to some accomplishments they are pretty mundane. But I’ll keep doing them and writing about them. I’ll keep posting about them on Instagram. If just one person like five-years-ago-me goes for a run because of it, then that’s inspiration enough.

This photo of myself was taken exactly a year ago today.

Other than the devastating fact that this was taken in Mallorca (rather than the rainy London I find myself in right now), the next and slightly bigger blow this photo gives me is that I no longer look like that.

This photo was taken ten days into my first (and so far only) round of Whole30. Whole30 is a very quick and very effective method of achieving quite dramatic body composition results (if that’s what you’re after). You can find the reasons I took on the original challenge here, but looking at that photo I would say that my body is in the best aesthetic condition it’s ever been in.

But like I said, it doesn’t look like that anymore. I’m not saying I am now overweight by any stretch of the imagination, but in the past year my body has changed more than it ever has done before.

A couple of weeks ago, one hot afternoon (I think we’ve had at least one hot afternoon so far this summer), I came home and changed into my favourite pair of denim shorts. Or at least I tried to. I’ve lived in the same pair of stripy Abercrombie & Fitch denim shorts every summer since I bought them in California five and a half years ago. They are (or rather, were) perfect – short, but not too short, slouchy but not too boyish, light but far enough away from white. And now I can no longer do them up. They fit like hot pants and the button does not do up. I could have cried.

Last week, I did an online Nike order that included a pair of training shoes, a vest and some jogging bottoms. The trainers fit (thank GOD), but the clothes to which I’d just waved an “I’m always a small in Nike” to the laptop screen were tight. Later that week I begrudgingly made the trip to Oxford Circus to swap both items for a medium.

The final nail in the coffin for my hope of still being a size 8 came in the form of a carrier bag full of clothes from my friend Felicity. There have been many a time where I’ve raided Felicity’s far-more-stylish-than-my-own wardrobe, but not one single item in the stash would fit me now. And the clothes were so nice *cry face*

Now, I’d much rather own clothes that fit than clothes I don’t feel comfortable in, and I think the idea of owning something you’ll ‘slim into’ ridiculous, but it’s all just been a bit of an odd realisation.

I wrote about feeling body unconfident in September 2011, and I hate to admit I sort of feel the same way again now.

I really shouldn’t. In reality, my body is the strongest it has been in a long time. I cycle everywhere (as my thighs can verify), I’m running consistently good times at parkrun, I go to 1Rebel, strongdem and yoga regularly and tomorrow I genuinely believe I have a very real and very achievable chance at a 10k PB.

So I’m annoyed. I look at this photo of my improving toned arms and I’m proud. I’m confident about a race I’m running tomorrow and I’m glad. I look at my strong cyclist legs and I like them. I’m going to classes I never would have dared set foot in.

But the fact I have half a drawer full of crop tops that won’t be making reappearances this summer still gets me down despite all those things and I am really annoyed about that. Being strong and fit and healthy really should be enough.