Another Adventure Abroad (part 2) – strap marks

At the end of part 1 of my adventure recollection I was just recovering from a problematic bottom in the middle of the night… which I suppose is not a good way to start a blog post! Luckily my medication acted swiftly and by the next morning, Wednesday, I was fine.

Wednesday was a free day with no group activity scheduled. Some people decided to laze by the hotel pool all day, some decided to swim in the sea pools, and some did a bit of shopping… but I was doing my practically shopping in the evenings when it was too dark to do anything else, I don’t swim, and I get bored lazing for more than about half an hour… but above all I am Andrea The Explorer and so I headed off out for a day by myself, catching a bus to journey an hour west to a lovely small town called P1070152Garachicho. This town was formally the principal port on Tenerife, but it was obliterated by a volcanic eruption in 1706 – I had read in a guide book that some remains do exist of buildings sticking out of the old lava flows, but they were obviously well hidden and not at all signposted. However, there were still plenty of lovely things to see – impressive coastal vistas beyond the lava rocks that the waves crashed over, a pleasant traditional old town centre with cobbled streets and lovely churches, and the old town gate. I spent much time on the coastal rocks patiently taking photos of the dramatic waves from various angles, pleased not to have people that I was holding up with my photographic hobby. After a walk in the town I headed west, along the main road for a while and later along quieter coast roads, past a natural sea arch, a sleepy sea side town, banana plantations, ending up at

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Having a whale of a time!

a whale skeleton! All the time the weather was splendid, it was November and yet the sun was bright and hot; I was glad to have applied my factor 50 and taken my sun hat. I walked up the town I had reached towards the bus stop but alas saw it already at a stop to the right of me about to set off, and so I hurtled along the road in the direction it was going and managed to reach the stop as it filled up with a party of hikers… but alas all that exertion has left me in a bit of a state with hair all over the place and I think I was read by a curious late-teenage girl sitting opposite me who stared at me several times; oh well, if that is what it was, I won’t see her ever again.

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Back in Puerto De La Cruz I had much time to spare and so I walked some of the back streets, finding some interesting buildings… as well as a menu with a rather unusual sounding dish on it, which I decided to give a miss. I went in many other shops, clothes, perfume, souvenir, and jewellery… though eventually only ended up buying some perfume, which I haggled for playing one shop off against another; I was happy to be addressed as Senora in many. Returning to the hotel in the dark I met several of my walking group who were surprised that I was only just returning from my day out; they waited for me to hurriedly change and then we headed off in smaller groups to a restaurant overlooking the sea. I was on a table of six with five other women and we had a fun time, with lots of enjoyable conversation, as well as quite a bit of joking around with our amusing waiter… who called me ‘honey’ and told the others to shut up when I was ordering my meal! I asked him about a cocktail, and when he joked in response he playfully patted my arm. We left about 10.00 and went to bed.

Thursday was the final full day of the group’s holiday, and the walking activity ended on a high with a splendid trek of about six miles along the coast. The first thing of note was as I was applying my makeup after my shower… because I noticed that the sun had caught my skin a little and, for the first time in my life, I had strap marks!!! Yes, I had been wearing a dress with thin straps and took my cardigan off during the afternoon in the increasing heat… and despite the sun cream it was not enough to avoid a little bit of sunburn… though a sunburn I will remember for some time! We caught a local bus west for about half an hour and walked back to our hotel with our guide who told us some interesting facts about some historic houses, ruins below the cliffs, as well as the plant life. I spent P1070185much of the walk with Barry again, as he patiently waited for me photo-taking and sharing tales and tips for assorted holiday destinations. Back at the city we had a late lunch at a restaurant famous for serving a good paella, and it was indeed pretty good, with a wide variety of seafood and rice of a lovely creamy consistency, washed down with a nice cool beer. I departed before some of the others but with another woman and, after chatting with her walking back to the hotel, I went for a peaceful walk to the beach as the sun went down behind me and then started to pack my bags. For our group’s final evening out we went to a good tapas restaurant a short walk away; a lady I chatted to quite a bit said “you’re like me, you like to put on a nice dress and feel feminine”; yep… though for much of my life I never thought I would be able to, how thing’s change.

Friday morning we said goodbyes to the holiday organiser, and I also said goodbye to Barry who gave me a hug. On the journey back to the airport I chatted for a while to our group leader, and we all had a few tales of our adventures – we arrived at about midday in Departures… and at that point I said farewell to my group because my adventures were most certainly not at an end, for there was much of the island still to be discovered… and so much that I feel the group missed, as I will recount in my next post.

x

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Another Adventure Abroad… but a first too (part 1)

Since my marriage ended I have indulged in quite an amount of travel, for it is one of my primary interests, along with photography which to an extent goes hand in hand with the travelling… so now that I am living full-time as my true female self that has to continue… and for those few people who haven’t yet accepted me I can only point to this attitude and say that just because I look different, and am living in a different gender, many of my big interests remain.

Up until the end of October I have only ever spent a maximum of about 10 hours on one of my walking group Meetup events; this was a day to the Giant’s Causeway, which I wrote about some months ago in my blog… and so to embark on a five-night walking holiday abroad with 18 other members of my group was a first for me, spending nights away and evenings out with them as well as several full-day walks; before I left home I did wonder a bit whether my voice would hold out, or whether I would fit in with them… though of course, as usual, my worries were unfounded.

Two nights before I left for this holiday I had a bit of a worry in that, at 3.30 in the morning, my car alarm went off… for no apparent reason. Hoping that it was a one-off I went to bed the following night only to be woken up once again in the middle of the night, and so once I arrived at Dublin airport on Sunday November 1st I reluctantly locked the car with the alarm switched off; on the journey I did have not one but two little moths fly out of my air conditioning, which I swatted, hoping that they were the cause of the alarm issue.

I killed two hours at the airport battling through security, buying food and trying perfumes, then walked to the gate… where I bumped into a number of my happy group, 18 girls and one somewhat ageing guy! Three hours later we landed in Tenerife!!! It was lovely and warm as we stepped off the plane compared to a chilly start at home… but it soon became clear that the holiday was not organised that well, as the guy who was supposed to be looking after us was flying in from Gatwick after a rugby-jolly (rather than already being on the island to greet us) and was delayed by fog, and we ended up standing around for about an hour until he turned up. On our journey to the northern, more lush, side of the island it started to shower with rain and I wondered whether the weather was going to be good.

Checking into the hotel at Puerto De La Cruz revealed the second organisational issue… there was no room reserved for me! This appeared to be because I had booked my own flights (for reasons that will become clear in another post), and so even though I had paid for the hotel stay a room was not assigned to me; however, as the hotel was not full I did thankfully get a room… though characteristically I soon found it not to be to my satisfaction and so changed it for another, quieter one. Dumping bags in the room I changed out of walking boots (which I had travelled in as they were my heaviest footwear) into black summer pumps and rushed down to an agreeable enough buffet dinner, with some nice chat and a glass of wine while we were briefed about the forthcoming days on Tenerife.

I had a pretty good night of sleep and woke on the Monday… to grey skies!!! Aggghhhh!! What happened to the renowned Canaries weather??? I showered, put my make-up on, and peering out the window as I dressed revealed a lovely blue sky and a sunny morning; that’s better! Breakfast was a huge spread of pretty much everything one might think of, a good set-up for the day, and after popping back up to the room to finish packing bag, I walked to the bus for our first organised walk, a well known local walk in the Anaga forest towards the coast with a local guide called Xavier, a rather nice, gentle-natured young man. The bus journey took about an hour, after a while passing impressive coastal views, for a short while on either side of the bus as we travelled along a ridge. At a stopping point we hurriedly exited the bus, adjusted walking poles, I donned my sunhat, and off we went, ascending several hundred metres with excellent views… although our progress was hampered by a lady who alas did not feel well, and after a while we rested for some time until she felt better. Then our long descent began… alas through much forest with no views at all for at least two hours; I soon ended up getting on well with the rear-guard of the group, a guy called Barry who travelled much in his early retirement, partly because I stopped for the occasional photo but also because I had a couple of loo-stops crouching in secluded parts of the path when he walked slowly on waiting for me to catch up. Eventually we all emerged from the forest… and soon were delicately walking down the path towards the coast which had been overcome by a stream of rain water from previous days water-logging the way forward. Eventually we reached a pretty old village called Taganana  where we had a rather later afternoon snack at a local restaurant… with rather basic toilet facilities where, for some reason, the inner door to the ladies toilet had a hole like a cat-flap! We returned to our hotel with a couple of hours available for getting ready… and shopping! It soon turned out that our city was full of cheap perfume and electrical shops… as well as numerous tacky souvenir shops (to be expected) and clothes shops selling attire exclusively suitable for one’s mother! Our enjoyable evening out was to a local restaurant where I had a very tasty fish dish, seated at a table with five other women.

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The next day was our second walk… which was a total waste of time, it was a circular forest trek above the city with NO views of any scenery at all!!! It could have been anywhere! Even worse, although the coast was lovely and warm, and sun could be seen in the distant heights of the islands volcanic peak Mt Teide, in the middle a layer of cloud had settled and it was pretty bloomin’ cold as we walked… though I was determined not to don my raincoat!!! We ended up at a forest café where I indulged in a piece of scrumptious apple tart for a ridiculously low price along with tea to warm up. The afternoon saw a moderately interesting visit to a local winery of some considerable size – I say “moderately” because, firstly, it was rather an automated and mechanised place, secondly at the end the wine on offer for tasting was pretty ropey (although we had a nice relaxing sit out on their terrace with views of Mt Teide in one direction and the coast in another), and thirdly, and worst, was towards the end of the tour it descended to the basement where a rather nauseating selling theme became evident… “wine and sex”, which I am not going to elaborate on, I just don’t want to remember it in any detail.

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In the evening, after going another shopping jaunt during which I bought my first perfume while away, we went to a restaurant near the hotel where I had a reasonable fish dish, a tasty-enough dessert served very cheaply in a plastic cup, and my first ever mohito at the end! Alas during the night I suffered a severe diarrhoea attack at around 4.00am (which I was able to resolve with medication), though it turned out that I was not the only casualty and in fact one lady was bed-bound with vomiting for three days!!!

After that rather disastrous day, the holiday righted itself again… as I will detail in another couple of posts.

x

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Month NINE As a Full-time Woman – WWF, My Neighbour… and An Eight Month Challenge Over

As per my previous blog post, it is over a month since I posted. Part of that is due to ongoing apathy over posting – as written in my replies on other blogs, I have considered stopping these posts, wondering what the point in me continuing them really is, for my life is pretty damn normal and perhaps not that exciting to many. But then again, maybe that is a reason to post, at least for those who are following a similar path to me but are further behind and perhaps apprehensive, to illustrate just how normal this new life can potentially be, and if you work hard to put the building blocks in place then it really can be very rewarding. As usual, there’ll be a bit of diary stuff here, but I’ll get a couple of things out of the way first in respect of the title.

I wonder what you are thinking my “Eight Month Challenge” is? Is it anything to do with my transition perhaps? Have I given the transition idea up for any reason? Hell no, I can’t imagine me living life any other way… and it’s so difficult to imagine how I ever did, especially for so long. No, the eight month challenge (which started out as six months) was to not wear the exact same outfit to work on any day – well, I did it! When I first went full-time I wondered whether I had a sufficiently-sized wardrobe of clothing – well, it would seem as though I have… although, as I write, I am still in the process of enlarging my miniscule autumn collection!

WWF? No, this is not, as my BFF joked, the ‘World Wrestling Federation’, but the online game ‘Words With Friends’. For any of you who don’t know it, it’s very much like Scrabble… except with a few tiny variations so that Scrabble makers can’t sue them! Anyway, I’ve been playing this for months and months, with an assortment of people, some friends and the remainder random players from around the world, primarily in UK, Ireland, and USA. For all those months I have not as yet mentioned it in my blog… and so what has changed? Well, there is a chat facility on the game, for those that wish to communicate with other players… and I have had some guys chatting to me! And it’s been rather fun!! Mainly, it’s been a bit of an education as to the different types of guys that are out there (not just in WWF-land, but the world in general) for a potential single lady like me to be matched against… and some of them are rather unpleasant to me, such as the lager-swilling guy whose fourth question to me was “yer married then?” and subsequently went on to describe his interests as “football, going out with mates, and sex” – uh, goodbye, low-life!! But I have also met on there quite a nice softie of a guy too!! Now I don’t think he is relationship material for me, but we get on really well with our chatting and we have lots of laughs, every night he wishes me sweet dreams followed by the emoji blowing a kiss, and probably the best thing is that when I am down he is really good at cheering me up and putting a smile on my face. He doesn’t know about my gender history, as yet, and that is because he doesn’t need to – he recently described me as “an intelligent posh lass way out of his league”, well, he perhaps does himself a disservice, but I quite liked that. Last month in one of his messages he termed me “super minx” (I’m not sure whether that’s good or not) and that he “takes my excessive chatting for granted as I’m a woman”… which I suppose is a compliment to the fact that, not only do I try my best to look the part, but also I come across as the woman that I am just from my written chat. I have more recently started chatting to another guy, so far things are going nicely enough, though I wonder if WWF is more a weekday pastime while he is working away from home; anyway, have had some interesting chat.

Throughout the month my voice has been a problem to some disagree, due to what I consider is an ongoing medical issue for which I am soon going to ENT to be checked.

Onto a few diary highlights… or lowlights in some cases:

October 2nd

A lowlight, a farewell lunch for my PM – he took his team, of which I am the technical delivery manager, out to a great Japanese restaurant… and he got a wee bit tipsy! This wasn’t his last day, but the farewell aspect was a bit sad, he’s been a really great PM and a very supportive person to me on my journey… and, as I write, I miss him.

October 3rd

A Saturday, meeting my hairdresser and one of his friends. Firstly I went to his salon and he took a look at my hair, not my wig but my real hair growing underneath it… and, wow, he is impressed and says in 2-3 months he should be able to do something with it! Yippee!! He trimmed the ends at the back, and also the fringe, and had a go with his hot irons… and it looked very promising. We then met up with his friend at a café near the Ulster Museum and had a lovely lunch with lots of fun chat; a couple of hours later I went into the museum with his friend to view an exhibition of paintings of victims of the troubles in Northern Ireland – the accompanying stories were, to say the least, harrowing.

October ??th

At some point during this week I wrote a reference for my PM who is leaving… and nearly cried as I thought about him going!

October 10th

Had a fun meetup walk with my group, after which we went to the Hillside Garden Centre for lunch (with ridiculously slow service but good food) followed by shopping for some of us – I said goodbye to some of the group who left after lunch, and entered the plant area, presently a couple of ladies from the group came up to me and asked if I would like to walk around with them? Of course I would!! The browsing probably took twice as long, but it was enjoyable, and one of the ladies kept referring to the other one and me as “ladies”… which is how I like to think I am. Later I met Kirsty at Costa… though it took an amount of convincing her to have another coffee, this time with her supposed best friend!! Grr…

October 11th

The event on this day is another reason I finally got around to writing this post…. because it fills in a hint in a reply to a comment on the previous one… as my neighbour had a long chat with me again, and THIS time I did get around to telling him that I used to live life as the guy that he used to know, even though that wasn’t really me at all – to cut a long story short, he said “as long as you’re happy”, and he wouldn’t spread gossip; we probably had the longest, and most rewarding chat, in our acquaintance. He thought he was a sister… which is an implicit compliment.

October 12th

Today I bumped into two women who met the new-look, improved, happier me for the first time. One was a girl who used to work for me several years ago who has returned to the company, the other is a lady who went on maternity before the news of me came out; she said “you look super!” J

October 16th

My latest laser hair removal session. Ouch!

October 24th

I had probably the most challenging walk ever with my group, to a mountain called Slieve Gullion near Newry. The trek up to the top was fine, I even joined a splinter group that took a more difficult route up which was fine… but at the top it was blowing a gale and I was absolutely freezing, then we descended the far side and passed through much water-logged bog land and ended up with water sloshing around in my hiking boots! Ugh!! The group split up again owing to a disagreement over us being lost, my splinter group made it back to the starting point first (yay), but it was hard work, wading through acres of heather and uneven ground. Later the remaining walkers arrived, one lady who I chat to quite regularly looked exhausted and came up to me and said “Thank goodness, a friendly face – I need a hug”! Ahh! Later I went out for dinner with Kirsty and Michelle… and for the life of me, I can’t even remember where we went, such is my commuting-weary head. Oh yeah, Deanes in Belfast – nice enough, but overpriced.

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October 26th

My latest gender clinic appointment… which I suppose was okay on the whole, except for insensitive comments about the approach to voice after I told my therapist about my throat issues, she said something along the lines of “why don’t you go back to using your normal voice, most transsexuals do once they are accepted”! To me she is just totally missing the point, perhaps several – to ME, the voice that I have now sounds normal to me and for who I am, I absolutely loathed the sound that used to come out of my mouth that I heard in my head and in any case it would be totally wrong for me and would inhibit passing.

October 31st

A day of shopping, and packing for my latest holiday… which I will write about in my next post. I am just mentioning the shopping, for walking accessories, because I enjoyed the “Do you need any help madam? Would you serve this lady? Would you like some socks on special offer madam?”

So that’s the latest month of my full-time life and RLE, all pretty normal despite being plagued with voice and throat problems. For someone who is considering curtailing her blog posting, I have written quite a lot! Thanks to anyone still reading!