TT2015 Diary: A Massage from Security

My alarm went off and I looked at my phone:

Seeing as I had had so many doubts about going these gave me the push to get up, get my hair straighteners on, get dressed, have a coffee and the Red Bulls I had bought in preparation.
And then it was time to head downstairs and to catch the bus to the airport. As I said on the bus I was overwhelmed by what I was about to do. Overwhelmed because I was seeing my brother, because I was fighting my anxiety and the bully inside me to go. Overwhelmed because I was being brave and also because I was doing something for me.
I sat on the bus and realised that for the first time in a long time I had put myself first and I was my priority, and I was my own responsibility. I pushed away those motherly instincts I usually feel towards my brother and forgot that I tend to want to be the protector, and fully accepted that I was doing this not only for me, but for him. And as a result of that I needed to embrace the experience and let him lead the way.
The bus journey was simple and quick, and after grabbing a trolley I eventually found the Flybe counter, checked in and then got a bit lost finding the departures area.
I was so hot, I think this was not only due to it just being a hot day, but also due to the panic I was feeling.
As I went through security I set the alarm off (thanks to the buckle on my boots) and had to be searched. This was the point I managed to relax, believe it or not, and to be myself. As the lady started to search my arms I couldn't hold back and said "Cor, this is like a massage". Her reply...thankfully...was "Best thing is, it's free". I held off from telling her it tickled as she felt around my waist but as she finished my legs and said I was free to go I couldn't help but to thank her SO much. She laughed and said I was welcome. The thing was, being searched really did feel like a massage and I did then feel relaxed. And having a little joke with her made me have that little confidence boost.

I treated myself to my favourite perfume, some headphones and a make up brush (oops!) and once instructed to made my way to the train to head to the gate.
Since last year I have been a lot more confident when starting conversations with other people. It was obvious that the majority of people on this flight were going to watch the racing, so I looked around for clues with outfits (TT caps and hoodies) and listened into conversations.
As I sat on the train I had a conversation with 3 men. One of which asked me if I was going to watch the racing, as I replied yes his immediate response was "REALLY?!". And at this point I realised that this was an attitude I would face throughout my 5 days there. Not in a negative way, but more because this is a male dominated environment and I was fine with that.
With a delayed flight I made friends with a woman sitting behind me. We talked and laughed non-stop about ridiculous things, and made the man unfortunate enough to be sat two seats on from my chuckle a few times.

The flight was simple and the view from the window was stunning. I sat and listened in to others conversations, and read some of my Caitlin Moran book, snuggled up towards the window as the man next to me clearly wanted both armrests.
Landing was fine and I felt so emotional as we approached. Just seeing a small part of the island and knowing my brother was there...ok and also knowing that William Dunlop, my favourite racer, was on the same island as me was rather exciting.
The airport was tiny and only around 6 of us with luggage so I slowly walked to baggage claim and had my phone ready to tell my brother I had landed. I heard a knock on the window and ignored it. I didn't want to look like an idiot turning round when I didn't know anyone there. As the knocking continued I turned round and saw my brother. He had surprised me by meeting me at the airport. I put on my biggest excited face and mouthed "I'm here! I'm actually here!". My brother has a habit of surprising me but I didn't expect him to do it here. It was the best start to the 5 days.
I was able to share a taxi with two of the men I met at the airport as they were heading in the same direction and as I stood at the camp site with my brother I felt so happy. I didn't cry, I might have wanted to, but as I looked around I knew for sure that I was going to have a fantastic 5 days and not want to go home.



That Sound

We're sat in the car, I'm in the front passenger seat looking around. I keep thinking back to last week, and what I was doing right now. I was sat on a church wall watching amazingly talented men fly past at the most ridiculous of speeds.
I knew my time was limited as I had to get to the airport by 5 to catch my flight home.
The sun was shining down on me, my decision to wear black skinny jeans was once again backfiring as my legs were burning.
Everytime a bike went past I held that feeling inside for a little while longer. That feeling you get in your tummy and in your heart as they go past, almost like a punch of excitement and adrenaline, mixed with this hard emotion.

Everyone is aware of what a motorbike sounds like. I hear them enough as they speed down a road near to my house. But nothing prepares you for what these bikesare capable of. I've never really got it when my brother has said "Cor, that sounds good doesn't it?". My usual reply being "Erm, yeah?!" Actually just thinking that they all sounded the same. I expect if I said that now he would totally disown me, but I stand corrected. I realised that there are some that sound better than others, some have that "WOAH!" sound, some have a deeper sound than others, some are louder.

I suppose on the roads in the UK, snug in my car, as a bike goes past I'm concentrating more on where they're going than what they sound like. It wasn't something I really thought about or paid attention to.
But here, as soon as I heard the bikes during the race on Wednesday I totally got it.
There were bikers all over the island, so general bike noise was a common sound. Laying in the tent you get used to hearing them through the night and early in the morning. I soon came to find it quite comforting. Of course it's not the same as hearing the Superbikes, but still, it was a noise that became normal and I realised quickly that it was a sound I would miss.

So this time last week I paid a little more attention. I listened a little more closely. I watched, selfishly without care of whether or not I was in anyones way. It was my last day, they had more to come. I felt overwhelmed and the thing that was keeping me from breaking down was hearing those bikes.
I suppose from a psychological view I did that thing where I attached those sounds to a feeling. That feeling of being me, being free, being happy. And more than that, being connected to my brother. Understanding his passion and feeling it too.
I wanted to soak in those sounds, soak in how my heart felt, that knot and excitement. I wanted to fire up that feeling so it wouldn't leave me as soon as I left the island.

As we drive in the car now, I spot a bike on the other side of the road, he's going at around 60mph or 70mph, so not 170mph+ like I had been experiencing, but still, I closed my eyes. Ready to hear that sound as he rode past us.
I closed them so tight. I clenched my fists. And waited.
And then, my eyes immediately filled with tears. Tears I couldn't let fall, but could privately let sit in my eyes for as long as I needed them.
Those feelings, that I desperately needed, came back.
And as much as I longed for that church wall, those burning legs, the force of the bikes speed making my hair fly all over the place, the smell, and the excitement around me, this was a good enough alternative.

That feeling will never be replaced and I won't get near it until next year. But for now, that alternative will be enough.
That sound of happiness.
That sound of freedom.


TT2015 Diary: The Night Before

After what felt like a super stressful day with packing, making sure I had everything I needed, making sure the boys were set for the week, co-hosting the Britmums and Birds Eye #MixUpYourMenu Twitter party, I was so glad when we were finally on the road to Stansted for the boys to drop me off at my hotel for the night.
I'd managed to get the Premier Inn at Stansted for a cheap price and felt that with a morning flight it would be better for me to stay at the hotel than to face a long car journey that morning.
After an emotional goodbye with Charles and Harry, and waving them off as they cried, I carried my heavy bags from one end of the car park to the hotel door. Managed to check in and find my room easily and then it sank in. I was actually doing this and was about to go on holiday, by myself, to meet up with my brother.
I spoke to my mum on the phone, had a bath and as I sat to watch Big Brother my phone went off.

Well. That was it. My night was sorted. 
I posted on Instagram:
This film, Road, is the reason I am going to the Isle of Man. I wanted to watch it again before I went but didn't get round to it, but thank goodness for ITV4 who are playing it tonight.This family, The Dunlops, are incredible. If you hate motorbikes and find it all boring I still urge you to look them up or to even watch this film. Their passion and dedication, despite such awful tragedies, is inspiring.These men would rather die doing something they love, which may be selfish to some, than to die of a long, painful illness."Tragedy is inevitable, but there is always the chance, and the hope, of euphoria".Not only do I get to visit the memorial of Joey Dunlop who died for his sport, I get to see Michael and William race. I used to hate bikes. And now I kind of hate how excited they make me.

I struggled to get to sleep that night. At 1 o clock in the morning I was still wide awake and had to force myself to sleep. At 6.20 my alarm went off. I was going to ignore it until I saw some messages from my brother which I found super sweet and therefore jumped out of bed, saw the sun was shining and got ready.

Watching Road the night before made me feel a lot better about my decision to go. I didn't doubt going as such, but more doubted whether or not my brother would really want me there. Or whether or not I would be too much of an outsider.

But as I watched the film I realised that actually, my passion for this family alone had earned me a place there and that as with any hobby or interest, you have to start somewhere. And this could be my start?



Slow Cooked Pulled Pork in Dr Pepper

Pulled Pork, although not a brand new concept, seems to be all the rage at the moment. I wasn't really caught up in it or bothered by it, being perfectly happy with a good ol' pork chop.
But, curiosity got the better of me, especially as I wanted to mix up the meals we have at home, and I found a recipe which involved the pork being cooked in Dr Pepper. It seemed a little bizarre as I'd seen it cooked in coke or in orange juice before but never Dr Pepper.
The recipe seemed easy enough. Dr Pepper, Pork, BBQ sauce. Done. No water, no other liquids.
So, I thought 'Dr Pepper, What's the worst that can happen?' (applauding myself for that one) and placed it all on our grocery order.

I wanted to mix it up a little so added a few more ingredients.
It was delicious and I first served it in Taco's with salad and Basmati rice mixed with a little mango and lime dressing.
There was enough left over to then fill two pitta breads, again with salad and two rolls.
It was so versitile and as good cold as it was hot!
This will definitely be a regular on our weekly meal planner now.


Dr Pepper 12floz
Pork joint
Red onion
Half a white onion
2 cloves of garlic
Barbecue sauce

Slice the onions into thin strips. Place in the slow cooker along with two cloves of garlic, sliced, and the Dr Pepper.
Add the pork to the slow cooker, with the fat and string remaining.
Cook on high for 5-6 hours, then remove the pork from the pot, and transfer into a bowl, leaving the juice and onions in the slow cooker . Carefully remove the string and the fat. Take two forks and shred the pork until there are no large chunks left. Add as much barbecue sauce as you would like to suit your taste and mix thoroughly.
Then, place back into the slow cooker with the juices and onions and cook again for 2 hours.
By this time the pork should have soaked up the majority of the juice and will be ready to serve.


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