Since landing back in the UK on August 23rd, my life has been busy to say the least. 3 and a half weeks were quickly filled to the brim with school visits, hockey club visits, coaching days, presentation evenings, various interviews, sleep, eating and not much else.
As tiring as it was, I thoroughly enjoyed this period. It gave me a chance to really see the impact we had on people back home - children, adults, grandmas, granddads, the lot! Someone recently told me almost 20% of the UK's population watched our final – more viewers than a recent Strictly Come Dancing episode! Just mad.
My highlight: seeing lots of family for the first time since winning. Shout out to my legendary Gran who wasn’t that bothered or interested in the medal, her main priority was to show the box to all her friends.
My lowlight: Getting back to reality with a bump on Wednesday 24th August. We landed the day before and I spent the whole day getting food into an empty fridge and washing numerous amounts of dirty clothes with the realisation that Rio was over. All whilst tired and jet-lagged and no team mates to entertain me.
17th September – 24th September
Earlier on this year, I had planned to go away to Dubrovnik in Croatia on September 17th for a week. I had heard and seen many great things and was really looking forward to getting there, switching off my phone and social media and just relaxing. I used Air BnB for the first time too as I didn’t have to book a hotel that had a gym in it – such a novelty!
Dubrovnik lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Great food, relaxed people, decent temperatures and many beautiful sights. One warning though; if you don't like steep steps it’s probably not the place for you. My phone has a pedometer on it and I would easily exceed 10,000 steps a day.
My highlights: exploring and taking in the breath-taking views on Lopud, Šipan, KokoŠar and Lokrum and Srd.
My lowlights: slipping on some rocks (sober!) and tearing tendons in my thumb which means I don't think I'll be playing hockey until 2017. Annoyingly it was my right and dominant hand meaning I spent half the holiday unable to do simple things like cut my own food, unscrew water bottles, do my own hair or put my earrings in.
29th September – 16th October
Next stop was Thailand. I’ve never been to Asia before so it was very much entering the unknown for 3 weeks. I was meeting an old school friend there who I hadn’t seen for nearly 2 years... part of me was wondering if we’d still actually be friends! I turned up in Bangkok with no plans, one night of accommodation booked and a Lonely Plant book… #wishmeluck
30th September – 3rd October
Bangkok – busy and big! Stayed 3 nights here to relax, sunbathe and see the sights.
After running 100s of kilometres over the past few years leading up to Rio, I thought it was about time I treated my feet to their first pedicure - they definitely needed it!
During a torrential storm one afternoon, we visited the biggest shopping centre (MBK) I’ve ever been too - 8 stories high and over 2000 shops .The 4th floor was dedicated to (fake) electronics and sold absolutely everything you could wish for; GoPro cameras, Iphone 7s down to Nokia 3310s, Bose speakers, Beats Headphones, phone accessory galore, laptops, tablets, the lot. The only thing I bought was a fish eye lens for my phone which creates ultra wide panoramic photos.
Close to being my highlight was the views from the 59th floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel. It really took my breath away and I could have stayed there all night looking at the skyline.
My highlight: my first foot massage. I think I need one every week!
My lowlight: accidentally finding myself walking down Bangkok’s main male gay street for only locals. Being the only female and only non-Asian was quite awkward and I didn’t really know what to do or where to look…
3rd October – 6th October
An hour flight up north too us to Chang Mai; a city known for its calmer vibe, trekking and waterfalls. We took a scooter out for a 100km round trip through the mountains of Chiang Mai which was superb (until we got caught in a typical Thai storm.) Visited an elderly elephant sanctuary where there was a 92 year old elephant still going strong. En route home we came across an incredible view of the mountains and couldn’t not stop for a refreshing Coke.
My highlight: the ‘special’ fight at the Thai boxing match. 7 or 8 blindfolded Thai boxers in a ring together... chaos! Watch a video I made of it here on my Instagram
My lowlight: being scammed by Thai police for a fair wedge of money for not having the correct travel documents. We didn't feel like arguing against the Thai police and just took the hit. Don’t know where we might end up if we hadn’t of paid…
7th October- 9th October
Took a 14-hour overnight sleeper train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. I slept (in the beds) for about 12 of the 14 hours which was just bliss. A spontaneous idea followed. We booked a flight down south to Phuket about 90 minutes before it was due to take off. The idea was to do the South of Thailand and slowly make our way up to busy Bangkok.
It was the weekend whilst we were in Phuket meaning there was the large weekend Naka Market on. It was filled with street food stalls, clothes, shoes, electronics and Thai massage parlours. Probably took us about 4 hours to visit the entire market. Some seriously impressive fake football shirts on show there too all for 150Baht, which is about £3.50. In typical Thailand style too, the heavens opened late afternoon, thankfully we were partially undercover this time.
Our visit to Phuket also coincided with the (not for the faint hearted) Vegetarian Festival. So so so weird but fascinating at the same time. Click here to find out more but *WARNING* don't click if you are squeamish. Everyone wears white during the festival, see what I mean by watching the video.
Highlight: Grabbing myself many bargains at the market – fully stocked up for Christmas presents and its not even the end of October #smug
Lowlight: The bad weather which meant we had to cancel our much anticipated boat trip with Coral Seekers
9th October - 12th October
One of the most famous Islands off Thailand. So beautiful but a little too touristic for my taste. A few pictures from our adventures. Snorkelling, swimming, Maya Beach and kayaking.
Highlight: the weather was particularly kind to us on PhiPhi and we experienced a fair bit of sun. Made the scenery look even more stunning.
Lowlight: fearing the rickety wooden boat we took a trip round the islands on may capsize during a particularly windy spell. This cemented my dislike of boats even more.
12th – 16th October
As soon as we left PhiPhi for Krabi, we felt a sudden hit of sadness; we were on the home straight and our holiday was coming to an end. One night in Krabi consisted of finding a cute little street food market and spending the night playing pool. I won't go into who won...
Whilst back in Bangkok, the Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej unfortunately passed away. It was quite moving being in the capital with everyone mourning. There were shrines everywhere, everybody wore black, no alcohol was being sold and there was a very subdued mood around the city.
The last few days in Bangkok were filled with a visit to Chatuchak market (over 8000 stalls), finding some nice coffee bars and reflecting on what a fab time I've had since Rio!
Los Angeles, California
21st October - 26th October
I went out to LA to visit the HQ of Headspace; a gym membership for the mind with well over 5 millions users.
I've been using Headspace for the best part of 2 years to help with my life and training towards Rio. It's all very well training your body but I believe, at the level of sport I play, your mind is your biggest weapon. Everyone is skilled and talented but the difference between good, great and world class players is the mind. The ability to control the mind under pressure, under fatigue and perform skills over and over again and a consistently high level is crucial.
What is Headspace?
Headspace is a great app which encourages me to help control my mind and live mindfully. It involves short 10/15 minute meditations to help train the brain. It really helps me to stay in the moment and to keep and control my focus. A couple of years ago I would get lost in over thinking during training and games; always thinking, always comparing myself to others, getting frustrated easily, thinking about past events I couldn't change or future events rather than staying in the present. With the help of Headspace and the psychologists I work with, I feel Ive made great progress in this area. It has a calming influence on me and leaves my brain less scattered and more ordered both in hockey and day to day life.
Pictures speak a thousand words so here are some below. I cycled along the beach in LA, went to Hollywood Studios, chilled on the beach, ate some amazing food, visited the HQ of Headspace (and the cool swingy office chairs) and much more.
I also did some really cool (secret) filming with Headspace which I can't tell you much about. It should be out later this year so watch this space :)
Highlights: finding some amazing places to have food - my favourite was The Butchers Daughter
Lowlights: the flight home - I didn't want to leave!