Monday, 13 June 2011

A final post

Hello there, Blogger world. I HAVE MOVED!

A fond farewell goes out to Google, you did me proud for my first ever blog but I have now moved to greener pastures.

Check out http://gottakeepmovin.wordpress.com/

Follow. Comment. Bookmark. Enjoy.

Let me know what you all think!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Another chapter

After a particularly dry spell over the past three months, where I have found the ability to get myself in gear and get down to some serious writing, I have all of a sudden plucked up the productivity from somewhere and made some decisions about my path in the future.

As it turns out, my current place of work as an Editorial Assistant has decided to extend my temporary contract by another 6 months. (I genuinely have no idea why because I am in fact at work as we speak, no where near on a lunch break, writing this. Oops.) As much as I gritted my teeth whilst expressing my delight in staying in the country for longer than I expected, I was a responsible adult and thought it would be best for me to save a whole load of dosh so that, come 2012, I can travel comfortably for once in my life.

Therefore, I might be a little thin on the ground for subject matter in terms of travelling until then. Having said that, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve as destinations planned, so never fear, dear readers. I also have a huge overhaul of the blog coming, so that will entertain you for a while, right? New shiny tools and sections are involved, I promise you a revolution.

This will take up quite a lot of my time but hopefully will be kicking off as soon as possible. Until then, read some old posts, they're always a hoot.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

That Second Sex

So, little girls are having push up bras banned from their sections in stores pretty soon here in the UK. I, for one, say hooray! (But feel sorry for those mum's who will encounter the inevitable backlash, good luck to you all.)

On an opposite note, a wave of anarchy has hit the world and encouraging us ladies to get out there on some 'Slutwalks' and reclaim that blessed word as our own, as well as liberate our sexuality. I've been reading about this in today's Guardian article 'Marching with the Sluts'. This protests the idea that promiscuous clothing attracts negative sexual advances and can lead to sexual assault and rape, leaving some of the blame with the victim.

Hmm, tricky one. I am very much as advocate for women wearing what they please and not fear sexual assault in the process. Protester's banners read 'My Clothes are not my Consent', and nothing could ring more true. Whilst women (and men for that matter) do dress up to attract sexual attention, you then cannot make the illogical jump to consent for sexual abuse, making it her fault that these advances occured. However, the truth remains that if you are willing to dress in less, you are more often than not going to get some unwanted attention. If you think you can tackle that, then sashay away!

A complex subject, one that I'm finding too hard to ponder and will end up contradicting myself. A sad fact of life is that men rarely fear of sexual abuse, an even greater sad fact being that their natural greater strength is the main reason.

This is something I have loathed for several years now, that my physical make-up as a woman can stop me doing certain things. Particularly as a traveler, there are places in this world I just cannot go alone to due to my sex. Grr. My time in a 10k (or the awaited half-marathon I am undertaking in September) will never be as good as a man's. Doube grr!

I will probably try my best at fighting that as much as possible in the hopes that it won't get me killed one day. I often get some funny looks when describing my solo female travels, but you'd so surprised but how many women out there are going it alone and staying safe all the while. I could not think of anything worse than sitting at home and cursing my womb for my lack of adventure.

Monday, 6 June 2011

A Reason for Everything

I am currently reading 'Of Human Bondage' by W. Somerset Maugham and came across this quote:

"It's no use crying over spilt milk, because all of the forces of the universe were bent on spilling it."

It got me thinking about my own attitude towards fate, as in recent months the phrase 'everything happens for a reason' has been repeated to me by many an inidividual in an attempt to make sense of it all.

Since I gave up on my Christian persuasion a number of years ago, I have been considering my feelings towards the idea of forces beyond our recognition. Whilst I still don't believe in a single all-powerful entity, and I also don't entirely believe that you can send your thoughts out to the universe to control it's actions and receive your hearts desire. And yet I cannot sit here and believe there is no force pushing some of us together, or pulling some things apart, whatever form it may take.

I have to say that looking back on the 22nd year (it is almost coming to an end), some things have fallen into place for reasons I cannot comprehend. But it still feels like those reasons are there.

Many people have come into my life this year, and couple have also gone out of it. It has only dawned on me recently what some of these people have brought to my life, in terms of my own personal development.

I experienced the death of a friend for the first time, and it has changed my perspective on life more than he ever would have thought. I've experience heart-ache this year more than I have before, and yet looking back it all makes sense as to why this person was there for a little while, and also why he has left my life for the time being.

Each step of travelling has had it's impact on the way I live. India taught me that there is so much more to the world than our little comfort zone of England. Morocco taught me that travelling with eight people is a complete nightmare, but somehow we still made it work. Canada taught me too many lessons to explain, but mostly that I do possess the courage to go it alone. Barcelona was the biggest party I've ever had.

This time last year I didn't know I wanted to be a writer. I can only imagine what my 23rd year will bring!

Lastly, I'd like to send my love to the friends and family of Matt Harris, the friend of mine who passed away last September. Today would have been his 24th birthday. The reason you were taken from us is still unclear.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A Hedonist's Guide to Barcelona: Cafes and Restaurants

So, I didn't spend every waking minute in Barcelona in night clubs...luckily. In keeping with the Spanish way of life, I spent the daylight hours mincing around the city looking for anywhere to sit, ponder and scribble.

I'm going to dive straight in with my favourite place that I went to probably three or four times during my stay there; a little rustic tea house named Caj Chai. Situated in the heart of the Gothic quarter, (in fact it can be a mission to find but persevere because it's worth it!) this little den smells unbelievable the second you walk in and feels like home to me. You're given plenty of choice when it comes to tea to drink, with a plentiful menu littered with exotic options. My personal pick was cinammon black tea, one I ashamedly didn't budge from each time I went. Those who are a little peckish should randomly choose the little Indian and Arabic pastries served. Those a bit more hungry could probably take down a chocolate brownie if they think they can handle the density.

If you're out on a shopping spree in and around the Gothic quarter and fancy re-energising with some carbs, there is great place just off George Orwell Square aptly named Pasta Bar. This tucked away spot provides nicely sized portions, and reasonable priced too. You choose your pasta (some cost more than others but only by a euro or less), your sauce, and then any other accoutrements that take your fancy. Whipped up in a matter of minutes, it will keep you going all afternoon in the Barcelona sun.

Finally, this last place was introduced to me whilst eavesdropping on a conversation the delicious man at the front desk of our hostel was having with some other guests. Caleuche is situated on the other side of La Ramblas, Paral.lel being the closest metro station. It's mouth-watering menu made it hard to choose just one single thing, so myself and a friend of mine ended up having to choose at the last minute and then subsequently sharing. Whilst inching our chairs every so often back into the sunshine as it was moving over us, we ended up staying here for around three hours without even noticing, our bellies nicely full from pizza and salad. If you're staying the HelloBCN, which is just round the corner, ask the front desk for a card for this restaurant and you'll be able to bag some extra food for the same price.

Now I've talked about food, I'm starving...

Monday, 23 May 2011

A Hedonist's Guide to Barcelona: Nightlife

Truth be told, Barcelona was probably the  least productive bit of travelling I have ever done. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it was a 'holiday', one of my least favourite and most insulting words. I embraced the pleasure-seeking Spanish life to the max., and ended up partying all night, snoozing 'til midday, recovery and repeat.

So, in terms of tourism, I am useless. In terms of nightclubs, bars, incredible pasta joints and my favourite tea house, there I can help you. So as to not make my posts too long, lets stick to the nightlife first and the more savoury acitivites I will explain at a later date.

We mostly went out with the crowd in our hostel, as they organised club nights for free. Situated right next to Paral.lel metro station are a couple of bars we frequented before hopping in cabs towards the club.

Malverde is a teensy little mojito place that seems like it's always empty until thirty of us from the hostel arrive and then there's hardly room to breathe. The poor barman dreaded the clock striking midnight I'm sure. The beers are cheap at around 2.5 euros, which believe me is nothing in comparison to how much you're about to spend later in the night.

A stones throw away from our hostel is El Petit Apolo, nestled behind the Apollo Theatre (more to come on that tasty gem). With individual beer pumps on each table and the dangerous ability to pour your own drink without having to wait for service, this place was a regular haunt of ours. You're given a number from 1 to 10, representing your table number, and a couple of screens around the place show you how much you've poured and therefore how much you've spent (its around 7 euros a litre). They even turn it into a competition and have first and last place emblazoned across the top of the screen. The tapas here is hit or miss, as is the service. Don't order the Russian salad, tuck into plenty of fries with spicy sauce and be pushy with the staff otherwise you'll never get served.

So, the clubs. Not much of a clubber myself as I prefer quirky bars, Barcelona was a taste of something different for me. Hyde Club and Boardbar are both pretty standard clubs but worth a visit. Both have walkways from the door opening up to a wider dancefloor, Broadbar's is lit up with UV and white lighting which gives it a classy feel. Get ready to spend in both, drink are rarely less than ten euros a pop. Needless to say I stopped drinking on arrival.

The one club that everyone says in a must-do in BCN is Razzmatazz, a.k.a my worst nightmare. It's a huge clubbing complex, with five rooms, an endless number of staircases, and the capacity for tens of thousands of people. Granted the drinks are cheaper, but intimacy is thrown out the window and replaced with black concrete walls and a funny smells that sticks to your clothes. Still worth a go if it's your kind of thing.

Last but most certainly not least, is the Apollo Theatre, and my favourite clubbing destination in Barcelona. I was but seconds away from getting on a bus to a beach club with the rest of the hostel when a certain lady from Manchester next to me pointed out that the building we were standing next to was supposed to be the best indie night in the city. How could I possibly resist? After some sweet-talking to skip the queue (seriously Anna, mad skills) we found ourselves howling Florence and the Machine and Blondie until the wee hours amongst a huge crowd and next to a stage with it's own bar, a very excitable DJ boosting the crowds energy and, mysteriously, a telephone which the DJs used to call...the bartenders? Their mates? Pete Tong?! To this day it annoys me that I don't know what it was for. Anyway, as far as club nights go for me, this I would definitely recommend.

Go forth and enjoy, and drink lots of sangria in the process!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Interlude

Another post on Barcelona to come, but whilst I try and shake off this headache and reposses the will to write, check out these mad snaps from photographer James Mollison. I don't want to put up too many in fear of plummeting the sales of Mollisons' book in which they are published, and plagarising the website which I got them from, but here are a few.

There are so many more I wanted to put up and it took me a good half an hour to just chose these, which I see as just as good as the ones I left out but I had to choose! i implore you too take a look at the rest.

Major perspecitve shake-up ensues.

(Also, my birthday's coming up in June and you can buy the book here. Say no more.)








Where would you rather sleep?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

A new perspective

Someone told me the other day that they had been reading a few things on my blog, present and past posts, which raised points that they couldn't agree with more, and others that they disagreed with entirely.

At first there was a tiny pang of fear in my mind that people don't like that I write, and that it is a load of mutterings from the mind of a mad woman. But then rationality kicked in, and I realised that she wasn't saying she didn't like what she read, but that her opinions were different and she still enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

Phew, that I can deal with. Over the past year as I have been writing this blog, even my own opinions have changed. Sometimes I look back on previous posts and find myself not entirely agreeing some of the points I made. Part of me dislikes my lack of constant conviction, and I'd prefer consistency throughout my beliefs and expressions. However, I am only 22 after all with a lot to learn and a lot to live in front of me, and if I always stayed the way I was now I would feel so in the dark about the ways of the world.

I never expected everyone to agree with me. In fact that would make a rather dull world if there was no debate, no argument (friendly argument, I must stress). Sometimes I can find myself more interested in things I so firmly disagree with that they anger me, things that make no sense to exist. Like this video for example...



I'll let you all form your own opinions of that one! It is, nonetheless, very interesting to me regardless of my general hatred towards that concept. Likewise, I'm about that start reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I'm not the greatest fan of old Richie, but the fact that his theories have influenced the world drastically is interesting to me, and makes me want to at least be informed as to his beliefs before I continue to dislike him.

I think it is just flattering that something I have created myself, from my own little mind, can provoke thoughts and feelings in other people. If my writing stirs up in you no emotions whatsoever, that would worry me more. Whether you agree with me or not, if it's made you think that is all I can ask for.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Spanish Life

So, I think it's about time I tell you about Barcelona.

The streets I may one day call home...
It's a tricky place to write about because it is, more or less, everything you would expect from a Spanish city. The way of life there is pure pleasure-seeking; laid back, rustic and a little rough around the edges, but all the more beautiful for it.

A guy I met from America had plenty to say how it was different from his city back home, LA. I've never been to that part of the US but as far as he could describe, the focus is on money, and what it can buy. The reason Barcelona seemed so different to him was that it consumed in different ways. People in BCN indulge in things to satisfy their human needs, the best food and wine and the finest company to enjoy it with. It didn't seem that these Catalans were collecting material goods to raise their social status.

Truth is, I did very little sight-seeing whilst I was there, having been a couple of times before. I feel a touch guilty for that but to be honest, Barcelona was the break I needed from various things at home. It was a week long non-stop party-fest. The sangria went down far too smooth in the bar at the bottom of our hostel, Hello BCN.


A pasta parlour we found
with some inventive lighting

I've never found it so difficult to leave a place. I even sat there on my last day looking up rooms to rent and figuring out how much it would cost for me to live there, and when the hell I could do it. I'm taking up Spanish lessons as soon as possible.

I don't think this will be the last I see of this gorgeous Spanish city. I didn't do much sight-seeing but I certainly wandered my way through the streets imagining living in a tiny apartment above a tea house, sitting on my terrace and writing this very blog. One day...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

A week to remember...

This post is a bit of an exclusive one for all those incredible people I met over the past week in the Spanish gem of Barcelona. Yes, that's where I've been!

It is funny to think that just over a week ago, all but one of these people were complete strangers to me from all corners of the globe. And yet they have all contributed to one hell of a week in one hell of a city.

Posts on Barcelona to follow, but just a quick message out to all you guys (for the rest of you, this is a bit of an inside joke).

Wherever you go, whatever you do, and until the next time I see you, I love you all and...

Don't be scared.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Likemindedness

It seems I have found someone who shares in my belief system...


This is the Holstee Manifesto. Whilst I am sure that many of you are sitting there grumbling at this, at times, unutterably cheesy piece of promotion for life, I have to say that I couldn't agree more.

And to those I say, what's the worst that could happen? Granted if you go at it full pelt, spend all your savings partying around the world you could find yourself in a gutter somewhere with a perpetual hangover, so an amount of responsibility does need to be practiced. It just doesn't make sense in my head, however, why people continually sit there and settle for a job or lifestlye that just get's them by, dragging themselves out of bed to do something they hate.

I have to put my hand up and say that I've sat in jobs I despise, but they were short-term means to an end. I set a date when I know I'd leave, taking the risk of coming home from travelling with no prospects of a career whatsoever.

The fact remains that I don't live to work, I work to live. And one of these days my work will be what I love to do, and I am very lucky to be on the right track towards making that dream a reality. But I have found this track because of the work I've put in to not settle for second best.

I'm not a religious person. I'd say I'm spritual and have faith in each one of us as individuals to be able to drive our own life forward and achieve our goals. All I can truly know is that I'm here and alive and that's the only tangible thing I can be sure of about my existence.

I don't know what's on the other side, beyond my life. But that is the very reason why I can't let myself not live in the here and now. If I don't believe in the after life and I've been given a shot on this planet, this is my only chance to live it. (Try not to take that in a morbid direction, the other way is much more fun I swear.)

I realise in life sometimes we have to do things we don't enjoy, sit working in a job we don't like or sacrifice things we really don't want to. But doing these things to work towards your goals can be forgiven, whether it's working in a job you dislike to save up to go globe-trotting or buy a house; compromising with a loved one so you can continue to love them more; giving up those tasty treats to achieve a healthier lifestyle (although I don't condone this one fully, a girl's gotta eat).

As long as you're still focused on your dreams, then reality can mix in perfectly well.

Idealistic existentialist rant over.

(On a side note, do check out Holstee's website, sustainable design products and a whole lotta' love.)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Leaving on a jet plane

Next week, I'm hopping on a place again. But to where?! Oh, you'll find out. That is for another post.

I've taken a fair few flights in my life, and each and every time I still find myself squidging my nose up against those thick windows and taking a look at the ant-world below. That or nonchalantly leaning over the stranger sat next to me to try and grab a glance.

There is still something just so unutterably magical about being able to see a city or landscape from the sky above. Even at night when those city lights are twinkling, I sit there and consider all those thousands of people tucked up in their beds, or out seeing friends, or meeting the love of their lives (you old romantic you Emma) or all those people alone tonight.

So, in the spirit of that, here are 10 amazing views from airplanes, I'm just putting my favourites up. I'll leave it up to you to guess locations. The second one might be a bit tricky but let's just say it's my next big destination...








Wednesday, 13 April 2011

To write or to type?

I wrote a letter this morning. It's been a while. In my late teens I was notorious for writing notes and scribble to various friends (some utterly cringeworthy and have in recent years been destroyed by the recipients; for this I am glad). My oldest friend and I have exchanged letters since we were about five, and continue to do so as it seems to be the only way we are ever able to stay connected, regardless of having each other's phone numbers. I won't go into detail as to the subject of this morning's letter, but instead take a minute to appreciate the act.

In the process of contemplating this, I came across a website called Letters of Note, a beautiful archive full of correspondance, some even dating back to hundreds of years ago. Not only are there the expected letters of love and loss, telegrams and faxes are also thrown into the mix, but for now I might ignore these (as sympathetic as I am towards Pearl Harbour and the Titanic, the telegrams announcing the commencement of each disaster are not the inspiration of this post).

I am interested in the hand-written exchanges, once personal and now displayed all over the web, between intimate lovers and friends. Nosey eh? The first I came across on this website still remains my favourite, even after much browsing. It takes a while to read, but the account of Aldous Huxley's death, written by his wife Laura to his older brother Julian, is an incredible insight into the end of a life.

Just take a second to consider if this will ever be the case for the email. Do you think there will ever be an 'Emails of Note' website, dedicated to the conversings via the world wide web? Doesn't really have the same charm about it does it?

A letter just seems so much more intimate; the combustable, tanglible and delicate packaging of these words remind you of it's mortality. When you delete an email from your inbox, it is fed into a 'deleted items' folder. The delete button is only the first step towards destroying those words, and you have to consciously go into a 'deleted items' folder and eradicate them all for eternity. If a piece of paper were to be destroyed, it would not be possible to pick up the ashes and read them again.

Emails seem so more off-the-cuff. Genuine thought and consideration goes into a letter, with time taken to ensure it is legible and clear. Often littered with edits and scribbles, a letter portrays the writer's thought process in it's creation. I don't know if anyone can really say they have put their heart and soul into an email as much as they might do a hand-written exchange.

I guess it also links to our awareness of the internet and it's public nature. Whilst our email inbox is protected via our password, it still doesn't seem to entirely belong to us, and I always get the feeling that anyone could stumble upon my online correspondance.

Having said that, it's easier to hack into a bed-side table to find a letter than a computer to read an email.

Monday, 11 April 2011

The future of our social lives

I recently found this amusing poster somewhere in the depths of cyberspace and it got me thinking...


Is this a vision of our future?

Whilst sitting in the pub a few weeks back with two of my friends, a waiter commented on the fact we were all sat there on our phones and not talking to each other. One of my friends thinks that this is what future generations will consist of, groups of people sat together in a seemingly social gathering, and yet all communicating with various other people via mobile phones.

When you put it like that, it seems like such a strange thing to do. Why go and meet up with your friends and then decide to talk to some other people that are not present instead? Is there some kind of allure that goes with the idea of having so little time that your social occasions must overlap and you need at least two or three on the go at any one time?

And yet, I find myself texting people just for a chat even when I'm with a group of friends. Not because I find the current company dull, but it just seems like people crop up in my mind that I haven't spoken to for a while and a 'no time like the present' approach is the way I take it.

I think my favourite point that this poster effectively protests against is illustrated but the section 'At no time is it permissable to sit idle and observe the poetry of life or look into the eyes of another person'. We are so much attached to the world that our mobile phones create, switching between texts, Facebook apps, messenger apps and the latest funny photo a friend has sent, completely oblivious to our surroundings.

And so much can pass us by! I have to say, one charm of travelling is that I don't tend to have my phone with me a lot, for fear of rinsing my bank account. This allowed me to take in the world around me, soaking up views and sights whilst sitting on the bus or sat in the window of a coffee shop.

I often find the same thing goes for cameras. When you find yourself in a new place, of course you will want to snap away and make sure you capture the moment to look back on. However, it can often be very easy to see something you want to remember, quickly take a shot and then abandon the sight altogether. I sometimes find myself hardly taking the image in with my own eyes.

And so, with that, I challenge you all to let go of these handheld devices and take a moment to enjoy the company that surrounds you at present, or bask in the scenery with the built in camera you have been blessed with, your eyes.
(Could go one of two ways. You leave you phone alone and then come back to it and have a million messages and missed calls; winner. Or, none at all, which can be ever so slightly devestating. I'll leave you to decide whether you want to take the risk.)

Monday, 4 April 2011

At the end of the rainbow there are E numbers...

Once voted the best website of 2006 (fact I found on her 'about' section, I'll have to trust that it's accurate) I feel ashamed to have only just discovered not martha.

Heaped with arty archives, anything to keep restless hands at bay to create anything they desire.

The first page I came across was this sugary delight; Leprechaun Trap Cake.


It doesnt even look like cake; more like a weird centrepiece in some Alice in Wonderland wedding. Go onto the not martha page for an explaination of what a 'leprechaun trap' actually is, I shall not pinch material so shamelessly.

Watch this space for my own attempt of baking this cake... I'll try to keep it away from any children in fear of overloading them with sugar.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Interesting research or a waste of time?

For any of lovers of the weird and wonderful world we live in, have a peep at this video. It's from a show called 'Ants: Nature's Secret Power' and illuminates us as to what exactly does go on under our feet in the in a ant colony.

Relative to their size, these ants have created miles and miles of twists and turns, tunnels and chambers. To exposed this intricate city, the scientists had to pour ten tonnes of concrete down into the earth for four days, and then wait over a month before they could start digging the soil away around it. It completely blows my mind how something we would consider so insignificant as an ant, could form an army to create such a thing.

Now, as well as being interesting in itself, the comments that went along with this video on the website I found it discuss the bigger picture to this project. It seems this has triggered debates concerning the existence of God vs. mother nature, evolution and creationism, unnecessary cruelty or research in the name of science.

A few of the comments did in fact point out the ant hill was abandoned before it was pumped full of concrete. I'm sure they wouldn't mercilessly flood them out!

And what do you think? A waste of time? An incredible discovery? Proof of a designer or just a statement of evolution?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A Good Cause

Those of you with generous hearts should be aware that my darling brother and another close friend of mine are running the London Marathon in aid of Baby Lifeline on April 17th.

The charity is more or less self-explanatory in it's name - a much needed life line for babies and mothers.

To donate, go to either (or preferably both...) of these pages below:

http://www.justgiving.com/mike-nesbitt
http://www.justgiving.com/jameshiggins

Next time you travelling a long distance with a SatNav, sit there and see how long it takes you to drive 26.2 miles. Then, think of these poor fellows running it all.

After that, imagine the physical and emotional pain relieved by the work that Baby Lifeline does; pain much more than myself, James, or Mikey could ever comprehend.

On that note, give 'em some dosh! Call it your good deed for the day.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Mapping out the future

For all those fellow travellers out there stuck at home, if you don't have maps in your life already, get some. I find them the most therapeutic way to look forward to all those places I have yet to discover.

If you're looking for a beautiful map to be proud of for you home, I fully recommend The Future Mapping Company. Sleek, shiny, clear and huge, the map below adorns my wall. It has taken me a number of years to pluck up the courage to mark out the places I had been, for fear of piercing it's stunning exterior. However, with the help of some skinny map pins I came across, it has now been littered (show off) with my visited locations. I stare up at it before I go to bed, so I'm fully focused. Whilst I'm proud of all the places I've been, looking up at this reminds me of all the places I am yet to go.

I also have a little map pinned up on my desk at work, just for those moments where I think my work will never end.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

I'm not gunna lie to you, Wales is crackin'

A few weekends ago on a Friday afternoon, I made the long journey to a little town called Porthcawl, just outside Cardiff. I've been to Wales a handful of times in my life, including an sixth form outdoor weekend that I loathed to attend at the time, and now wish I had been more enthusiastic about it all; oh how I've changed.

Wales has since become my happy place; visiting my friends there has always brought me peace, no matter what's going back home. This weekend was no exception. Not the kind of people to party away their bank accounts, having just married last year and looking to build a life independently, Katie and Rhod (guess who's Welsh...) had created a  perfect getaway space for me to escape to from time to time.

I have known Katie since I was seven, terrifyingly enough. So myself and Judy, another friend from school, tootled down the M5 for some good wholesome fun. On our first day, we took a breathtaking walk along the Southerndown for a long awaited chat. We were incredibly lucky with the weather; it felt like a beautiful spring day. This clearly meant the next stop was to dip our feet in the close by sea. (I think it's some kind of law that you need to get your toes wet if you're from the Midlands and find yourself near the sea.)

Next, a spot of high tea at Ogmore Tea Rooms, which is essentially someone's house with a converted front room. It was particularly busy when we arrived, so we were instructed to sit at the kitchen table. A little strange, but very accomodating and fantastic value. I had a sneaky view into the kitchen to watch a busy chef prepare some delicious home-cooked food; everything you could want from a tea room was present. Two crumpets, a piece of lemon drizzle cake and a whole pot of earl grey tea later, I was in a contented haze.

To top off our day, Katie had no choice but to take us to Barry Island and I found myself on an unofficial guided tour of the set of Gavin & Stacey. For those of you not familiar with it, it is British culture through and through; a must watch. For those of you who are,  I purchased a tea towel from Nessa's arcade emblazoned with 'I'm not gunna lie to you, Barry Island's crackin'', and was obliged to proclaim 'Oh!' in the very spot Ruth Jones did. Needless to say, Katie was fairly ashamed of me.

On the Sunday, Katie and Rhod attend their church in Porthcawl, Grace Commuinity. As many of my friends know, my religious beliefs are ambiguous. However, I thought if I'm happy to attend a temple on top of a hill in India, I should have no qualms with going to church in Wales. I wanted to experience something so close to the hearts of Katie and Rhod, a good enough reason to go I think. And, it was a much more enjoyable than the hangover I usually feel on a Sunday morning.

I used to attend church back home, so I knew what to expect, and I have to say it was a nice experience. It is a relatively new church without a building of their own; they use a sixth form centre at the local school. Even though I have no personal ties with Christinity, it was interesting to see how this small community of people are full of hope to build and expand, and I even felt a shiver of excitement for them as it clearly bought so much joy to their lives.

On a side note, I found this interesting article this morning about incense in churches (of course not used in the Church of England, more of a Catholic ritual). Maybe I'll start attanding more for incense's psychadelic influences...

Breathing in the fresh air of Wales, regardless of attending church, invigorates me. The connection I have with this part of Britain will always keep it as a place of refuge and to discover the great outdoors. I will always thank my friend Katie for moving there.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Like like like.

What more can I say? I StumbledUpon ShareSomeCandy.com today and I think I've found my safe haven.

They probably have all I could possibly want from a website; dabbling in everything from architecture to graffiti, handmade art to a whole section dedicated to funky packaging.

The first page I came across showed a photography portfolio of incredibly dapper looking bearded men taken by a photographer named Dave Mead. Businessmen, fisherman, yodelers, shepherds, country folk and matadors. All with fine faces of hair styled to perfection.

If Stumble had an "I friggin' love it" button, it would surely be pressed.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

And another thing...

Just a little additional post to my Are we all copycats? one a few days ago. Found this picture/quote whilst I was trawling the internet yesterday and it demonstrates my point much more clearly than I could...


Apologies for the size but I'd like to see you try and read it otherwise.

I think it effectively explains how being original doesn't have to mean conjuring up something entirely new. Especially speaking in terms of blogs, having a collection of things that inspire/provoke thought/delight/interest you that are pulled from various outside sources surely just creates a picture of the person you are, and that in itself is original?

I especially enjoy Jean-Luc Godard's quote. It's quite comforting to know that such creative types as these two directors (Godard and Jarmusch himself) have this realisation about originality and authenticity.

I'd like to think I might be taking all my inpiration to a new direction. Perhaps one that may have been explored before but what's the harm in adding to that subject.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Hotspots in the Spa

The thing about travel writing is that when you're back at home, saving the pennies to go off again, material can run a bit thin. So, I've decided to post an insight into what exactly home is to me, as for my international readers, it is considered travelling. It also coincides with a special visit we had last weekend from Her Majesty the Queen, who popped over to open up our Justice Centre (not quite as awesome as it sounds - another phrase for new posh police station).

I live in Leamington Spa, a town where the residents are experts at practising the art of leisure. There are so many bars, restaurants, pubs and cafes that we find ourselves endlessly torn as to our location of choice. If there's one thing to be said about Leamingtonians, it's that we know how to relax.

If eating's your game and you need a break from shopping on a busy Saturday, head down Regent to find Corleone's. This tiny, and therfore perpetually busy, French cafe serves some incredibly well priced lunch grub, from paninis to crepes, victorian lemonade and coffee from their huge roaster. If they're full (quite likely at the weekends) stroll round the corner down Regent's Court and find Bar Angeli to find an almost identical menu.

If you're a local and haven't discovered it yet (it took me a good ten years to do so), make sure you divulge in Country Bumpkins, a delicatessen on Warwick Street. From the outside, it's easy to miss the fact that they have a sandwich bar at the back of the store, and yes I also missed all the signage displaying this for a long time. Create your own bread rolls or baguettes from en endless list, with some killer specials regularly changed. My favourite is a roasted red pepper houmous baguette will all the trimmings and a sticky toffee slice for pud.

If you're more of a night owl and looking to shake things up on a Saturday night, you have a few options. Designed by Lawrence Llwellyn-Bowen (clearly a reason to go...) the multi-million pound refurb of a bingo hall on Spencer Street has become what we know and love as The Assembly. Hosting acts such as BRMC, KT Tunstall, Newton Faulkner and dozens more, it has become an indie venue in a town no one's heard of that seems to attract some pretty glam characters. They put on Cortina Nights on weekends when no acts are playing; a delightful mix of music from all eras to boogie on down to, attended by people of all ages. You'll also find Dolly Parton's charming caravan in the backstage area, surrounded by a picket fence. If you've had a few too many, avoid it. It can make you lose your grip on reality.

If you're in a more uptown crowd, MooBar is always good for Saturday night swingers looking to get their groove on with some funk and soul. With a late license until 2am and no entry fee, it's where all the cheap non-clubbers go to keep their party flowing. (Yes, I am one of them.) Drinks can be expensive; don't ask for a double anything as you'll seriously be out of pocket. I always used to say that Moo seems to be where all the beautiful people go; so if you're looking for a date, try your luck there.


Leamington Spa's well-known resident...

I'm torn between two top quality places to eat in the evenings, both of which I can't afford at the best of times. But if you feel like loosening those purse strings, find Wilde's Wine Bar on the Parade, located at the top of town below street level, and Rhubarb on Warwick Street. Both are, once again, small and always crammed. But, I think that only bodes well as to their quality. They provide intimate and romantic settings for consuming delicious food. Rhubarb is also a quaint spot in the day to sit with a glass of wine and the paper.

Leamington Spa has also been, for the past few years, the home of comedian Russell Howard. A good night out with a Russell sighting included always provides good bant. I myself haven't had too much contact with him, other than storming round a corner in Tesco and nearly knocking him out. Several friends have had more interesting experiences, including watching him shamelessly steal a joke on Mock the Week without citation, and allegedly pushing my friend Ali down the stairs in The Assembly. Russell, she's still waiting for your apology.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

What would you write?

I've always been a fan of turning wasted space into something creative. Public installation artist Candy Chang  has done just that in New Orleans on the corner of  Marigny and Burgundy.

(Picture taken from candychang.com)

Check out more pictures on her website. Little bowls of chalk can be found attached to the mammoth board on the side of a warehouse in her local neighbourhood, and strangers have been filling in the blanks. 

The big question is, what would you write?

Not sure about myself. Get published? Travel the world? Find true contentment? All of the above?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Sly Snow Fox

This reminds me how much I love the weirdness of nature. Crafty fella!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Are we all copycats?

Today on the old beebs website I came across an article about some recent plagiarism scandals that have come to light. What has the world come to when people writing doctoral theses give into the temptation of using the old copy and paste function?

Well, with a never-ending database of information at our fingertips you can forgive them, just a little. Perhaps not the people writing theses, but undergraduates we can sympathise with. I'm sure my older crowd of readers (if I have any...?!) will tell all students out there that they don't know how lucky they are not to have to trawl through libraries when you can sit at home, in bed, with a cuppa, and write an essay. It is just too tempting to use the wonders of Google, be struck by someone elses words and decide that you must have them as your own.

On a side note, I did quite like being surround by big textbooks, but I'd still do it in bed.

It can be said that there is a thin line between inpiration and plagiarism. That big difference being that plagiarism does not give credit to its inspiration. A young artist might have a beauty acting as his muse, but he must proclaim to the world that she is her inspiration; she should be given her just deserts.

I agree with something this article points out, in that it's okay to quote someone. In fact, the best essays are littered (to an extent...let's be reasonable, some of the words have to be your own) with sections from outside sources, points drawn in from various people to enhance the quality of your arguement or research. This was not stressed enough to me, or many others I knew, in my first year of university.

This has also sparked off a debate about the end of originality; has the internet destroyed it? Has it made everything too easy? You can literally type anything into a search engine and it will come up with dozens, thousands, millions of pages for you to extract from and comprise as your very own.

Once I read this article (and you see I've linked to it in fear of not mentioning my original source...) a wave of guilt washed over me. Has my blog recently just been one big torrent of regurgitated drivel I've come across on the world wide web? Well, I'd have to say, probably yes.

Then again, I think there can be something different said for blogging. A lot of the blogs I have read, blogs that are not directly about one subject like travel or someone's poetry etc. are much more about a place for someone to expose their opinions on whatever is going on in the world around them; a commentry on the things they find interesting. If you wish to share your own thoughts on it, then why not? Blogging is a free space for you to make it your own.

Is there anything out there that hasn't been written about before? Does that make me unoriginal? And, is looking something up to provoke some thought in my head as to my own opinion really so bad?

(And, does that get me off the hook?)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Paying homage to Jane Russell

As I Stumbled though the web this afternoon, looking for a little inspiration for a blog post, I came across a news article revealing that Jane Russell died today, aged 89. Those of you not fans of old movies might not have a clue who she is, but I vividly remember her in one of my favourite Marilyn Monroe silver screen moments; Gentleman Prefer Blondes.

To enlighten you, here is a little clip from YouTube of the two gals shimmying on stage together in some fabulous get-up. Jane Russell is the one who is not blonde (for those of you who have been living in solitude and don't know what Marilyn Monroe looks like...) Today, I think men all over the world should proclaim that Gentlemen Prefer Brunettes, in honour of Jane.


Saturday, 26 February 2011

Revelation

There comes a point in any healing process when you wake up one morning, and you have a realisation. This morning was that turning point for me. There's only so much wallowing you can do before you sit there and realise 'You know what, I just do not have time for the shit anymore.' I woke up and thought of all the things I have been wanting to get on with this past two weeks, but just haven't had the energy to take on. Well world, here I come.

I'd like to give a quick mention to a neighbour of mine who lives in my building, and someone I wish I had met 10 months ago. In a way, she has come into my life at the perfect moment and seems to be the fountain of all wise words. So, Miss Allison Bradley, this one's for you. Over a few glasses of wine last night, she's peptalked me enough to realise that I am, in fact, much stronger than I give myself credit for. Hells yeah I am!

So I dragged myself out of bed this morning, threw some clothes on a took a stroll into town to get a weekend paper; those papers that provide you with everything you could possibly want from a paper. More importantly, some research for more writing that I intend to do this weekend. For those of you who are interested, Excuses by The Morning Benders was my song of choice for this walk. Take a listen, trust me.

In my haze of happiness and elation, I ended up walking straight past the cash machine I had intended to use. For fear of looking a fool by stopping in the middle of a busy street and turning back around, I just kept on walking to the next available machine. After having retreived my cash, I then proceeded to walk in the complete opposite direction to the shop I was aiming for, again only realising far too late. In some kind of Peep Show fashion I walked into the nearest shop, did a lap, faking interest in the products they sold, and walked back out again, successfully changing direction without too much humiliation.

So I might be crazy and a little disoriented, but I am nonetheless happy today. In the style of Gene Kelly, I didn't even mind that it was raining.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Top Five...

song that are taking my mind off my worries. If you find yourself in a spot of bother, let these soothe you.

Simon & Garfunkel  - Cecilia

John Lennon - Oh Yoko!

Newton Faulkner - To The Light

Ben Kweller - Penny on the Train Track

Bishop Allen - Like Castanets

(in fact, I could go on...)

Willy Mason - Fear No Pain

The Walkmen - Emma, Get Me a Lemon (novelty-factor)

Stevie Wonder - Higher Ground

The Smiths - This Charming Man

The Rolling Stones - Not Fade Away

Mumford & Sons - Little Lion Man

Little Boots - Remedy

I could go on, but I think that is a playlist enough.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Where have you been?

A question that has been on the lips of many of you I'm sure! Where exactly have I been?

It seems my life in the past two weeks has had its ups and sadly its lows. I've certainly had to rethink my future in light of recents changes, but now I'm back on track and ready to storm it; taking control and making some incredibly exciting plans for the 2011.

At the moment, I can't divulge any information concerning these plans. How mean of me eh? They have just been formed in the minds of me and a friend, we have a lot of work to go before they could become a reality. Hope that's cryptic enough for you all.

So, just a note to let you know I am still truckin' on, many more posts to come I'm sure.

Friday, 4 February 2011

A Step Up

In light of the recent employment crisis in the UK, I started applying for jobs back home even before I left Canada. Part of me was utterly ashamed that I was thinking too far ahead, being more practical in my thinking than ever before. I probably should have just chilled the hell out and kicked back, enjoying the freedom I had left. But no, my paranoia in completely running out of money shortly after my return took charge. I had to explain in every cover letter that they could in no way call my mobile phone because it would cost me and them a freakin' fortune. I liked to think that at least mentioning I was in Canada might make my CV a little more memorable.

What's more is that I was applying for jobs that seemed so mind-numbingly mundane and pointless, it made my return seem even more depressing. I was going back and intentionally looking for work that I would inevitably hate within days. But, the pay way good, and for those of you who have read my previous thoughts on working in retail, I'd be damned if I was going back to that.

With what seemed like a million cover letters later, and not a peep back from any of them, I was beginning to get restless. I had been back in the country for four days and had spent inexplicable amounts of money in celebrating my return.

One Friday morning however, I delved into the world of the Jobseekers website; possibly the most depressing space on the internet ever invented. The sight of orange and white and the DirectGovs layout will never cease to haunt me. Whilst traipsing through and applying for a few standard jobs here and there, I came across an editorial position which I thought might have been within my reach.

Of course, I applied immediately, considering publishing was actually a field I was interested in working in. Two hours later I was offered an interview for the following Monday, and within four days the job was mine. How the bloody hell had I managed this?! I had landed a job I was genuinely interested in, less than a week after returning from a two month trip abroad, which I quit my job for and seriously risked my financial situation.

Needless to say I am one happy bunny. The sting of returning home after an adventure has been somewhat soothed by the fact that I won't be going back to a job I hate. Coupled with my chunky payrise from the pitiful world of retail, things are seriously looking up....

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Vintage Vancouver

Those of you who are personally familiar with me know that I have a slight problem when it comes to vintage clothing, in that I can’t stop buying it. I have recently blitzed my wardrobe, and was disgusted at how many items from Primark I owned from my student days. Needless to say, it was all sent off packing to the charity shop.


I don’t tend to shop extensively much anymore, but when I’m in a foreign country I feel it my duty to hunt the nearest vintage stores. With each piece I buy, I could tell you where I bought it, how I fell in love with it and to what extent. I doubt I could tell you the same information for all that Primark nonsense I purchased, I could only report to you how little times I’ve worn it.

So, for those of my friends still hovering about the British Columbia area and possible fancy checking out some of those rockin’ vintage classics in Vancouver, pop by these stores…

F is for Frank – Main Street

This one is like a miniature version of my favourite vintage warehouse in Birmingham back in the UK, but has the added bonus of not being in Birmingham. A killer selection of men’s stuff, enough to make any dweeb look like a hunky cowboy. An impressive collection of funky and unique sunglasses. A little on the pricey side but if you find something that must come home with you, what’cha gunna do?

Mintage – Commercial Drive

One of my favourites that had a beautiful $10 dress sale and $5 bargain section; what I think vintage should be unless it’s incredible designer gear. My companion managed to hunt down several items she just had to have. It was more or less torture for me considering my dire financial situation as it was the end of my trip.

True Value Vintage – Robson and Granville

Does what it says on the tin. As cheap as it seems to be normally, we happened to find True Value in a moment of panic; they were relocating in a week or so, which meant as much stock had to be shifted as possible. Oh sweet Lord I have died and gone to vintage sale heaven.

The Pink Elephant – Commercial

This was the first vintage shop I found in Vancouver in my first week; needless to say I was happy. Walk in and find the bargain rails at the front bearing manna from heaven, and then take a stroll into the back to find the meatier items to get your teeth into. Prices can vary but you’re sure to find something sweet.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Back To Life...

For the first time in 2011 I am broadcasting to you from the motherland. Yep, that’s right, I have returned to England!


For the most part, these first few days after getting back from traveling can be a real downer. Time to face reality; utterly daunted with the prospect of having to find a job in the big bad working world. But, and I feel a touch guilty about saying this, I had no qualms with returning. As much as I enjoyed my time in Canada, I felt like I had got all I could out of my stay there with the money I had. Now it’s time to get my save on once more, a race to summertime to see if my financial situation will whisk me away yet again.

Looking back, I can’t say I loved every second of my Canadian experience; I don’t think my traveling spirit it set for the ultra-Western world of North America. I longed for the beautiful simplicity of India or the bohemian tea houses of Budapest. I think there’s a charm about not knowing the native tongue of the country you’re visiting and having to find other ways of communicating. It forces you to strip down to the bare essentials, using hand gestures to get you by. Using physical communication like this brings people together, something that can be difficult between two people from entirely different countries and backgrounds.

I wasn’t thrown by any bizarre acts of culture specific only to North America (other than being dumbfounded at them making almost anything a drive-thru, I’m pretty sure drive-thru hospitals are only a year or so away.) Other places I have visited, even by just hopping over the channel, have caught my attention more so just because their practices seem to alien to me, which is perfect writing material of course.

Having said all of this, I don’t think I would take back a single second of Canada, the trip itself has done wonders for my soul. I’ve learnt so many things about myself that were once unknown to me; these will not be divulged here until I get to grips with them myself! I’ve learnt more about my friendships back home and who I missed more than I expected. I’ve learnt about how I react to being utterly alone in a big city.

I will miss the views of the mountains no matter where you are, even in the heart of Vancouver. I will miss the buddies I’ve made, and wish them all well as they’ve barely made it a quarter of the way through their long journeys. I will miss baby Jennica at Goat’s Pride who I looked after for quite some time, I wish I could see her grow up! And, of course, I will miss that Canadian charm of every shopkeeper I ever came across, wishing me to have a great day.

However, I have to say, I’m excited for the next chapter. Whatever that may be…

Monday, 24 January 2011

Hooray For Community!

One more thing I have to add about Roberts Creek is their artistic talents. As I've explained in previous posts, it's a quaint litte creative place, where you can do yoga by the sea and shop organic to your heart's content. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I came across this beauty:



The Mandala as it was finished in 2008
 I know, wowza! This is the Roberts Creek Community Mandala, an ongoing community art project, located mext to the pier. It is painted every year over the space of five days, and anyone is welcome to come and join with their artistic flare. It is joined with a music festival on it's completion a day or two after the painting has been completed, presumable so it can dry! If you find yourself in the area in July, check out the info here to get stuck in.

I'll let the picture speak for themselves...


Saturday, 22 January 2011

Tuneful Bowls

When I arrived in Roberts Creek last week, my mind was all over the place; hence the confused post! I felt like too much was going on in my head and it needed to get out of there, fast. I was in the perfect location, a quiet and peaceful seaside town. And it seems someone up there heard my cry for help, and along came Jay with his singing bowls.

Any of you who have been to Tibet or the surrounding countries may have heard of these creations. Basically they're bowls of varying heights and depths, which are struck and stroked with wooden bats wrapped in suede. They can be made of varying materials; the ones I witnessed were made of varying precious stones such as quartz crystal, and others were gold plated. They are played with the hopes of soothing the soul, drowning out all the chatter in your mind, and lining up your internal chakras.



And there he is; Jay! Originally from Arizona, Jay has been on the road for six years now (lucky bastard) and has made a living from performing his singing bowls to various different groups ranging from paedophiles, prison inmates or your regular John Smith's and Jane Doe's. And making a very good living off it he is too.

As it so happens, Jay was staying in my hostel, and had a performace down at the yoga centre a few days after my departure. So, he decided to give us all a little taster of the action. I like to think I'm fairly open-minded, so decided to start of having faith in him that they would actually help me, with just a tiny shred of doubt bubbling under the surface.

And I have to say, whether you believe that they line up anything in your soul or not, they certainly soothe you. The sounds and vibrations from each bowl joined together in harmony, along with Jay's comforting voice, sent me off in a little peace-trance. That annoying chatter that went on in my mind for days previously was deafened by the bowls and brought to its knees.

I'm not one to have too much belief in fate or luck, but it was a pretty sweet coincidence that Jay was in Roberts Creek at the same time as me. He was exactly what I needed to get my head straight when all I could think was stressful thoughts. His general outlook of life, with his sometimes struggling financial situation, really helped me to take a step back and realise the important things. My chakra feels a little bit more in line too...whatever that means.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Peace At Last

So, my head is a little more clear now. I have had times of reflection since my last post! In the lovely little towns of Gibsons landing and Roberts Creek along the Sunshine Coast of BC. (No one seems to know where this is, Google it.)

When my guide book stated that the population of these two were around five thousand each, I knew i was in for some relative solitude. I didn't quite anticipate that in Roberts Creek, you can walk from the first store on the main road to the last, in around fifteen seconds. Perfect!

It took me a while to find a hostel here. Hostelworld.com shed no light on the place; as far as they're concerned, it doesn't exist. So Google it was. After some digging I finally came across Up The Creek B&B and Backpackers. Having not found any Couchsurfing hosts available, I had no choice but to stay here. And my oh my did I hit the jackpot. Up the Creek is basically some dudes house. This particular dude (who, may I point out, hails from England, huzzah!) just decided to open up his house and tranform it into some affordable, comfortable, relaxed accomodation. Within 10 minutes of arriving I had more of less met everyone staying there, as the total only reached five. After the chaos of the farm with no less that ten people at dinner every night, this was just my cup o' tea.

On my first day there, I took a stroll around Roberts Creek and down to the pier. The sun was just starting to set, no one was around apart from some straying dogs and their owners off in the distance. This was the space I needed to get my head straight. I didn't feel like I was in the best state of mind after the past month, and it's hard to explain why. But, onwards and upwards, and this view certainly set me on my way. (Pictures to be added soon, I conveniently lost my plug adaptor in Seattle, so preserving camera power for now!)

On my second day, after a lovely sleep-in and a chance to just slowly ease myself into the day, I headed into Gibsons to mooch. As it's coming towards the end of my trip, most of my shopping is now focused upon gifts for loved ones back home. After digging round in the beautiful antique shops, I found some stellar presents for my Dad, some that will hopefully bring him screaming back to his boyhood. (Yes Dad, cryptic ey?!)

It was a beautiful day in Gibsons, and made me feel fully refreshed. I also had a pretty zen experience the night before, one that I owe a seperate post to, because it was just that good. I then sat in a little cafe called Truffles near the marina, sipped tea (I actually doing that as we speak also, the total has now hit around six cups a day...) and listened to jazz. What more could I want from the peace I had craved for so long?

So, if you're in the BC area, and want a retreat, these wee towns are the place for you. As I was waiting for the bus, with my huge backpack on, a woman started talking to me about her travels twenty years ago, and how jealous she is that I'm on the road as we speak. Whilst on the bus, a man with a luscious head of long red hair sat and played his mandolin for us. Whilst waiting for a bus the previous day (why do all these revolve around buses?!) a man pointed out the rainbow shining in the sky above us and all four of us stood there, basking in its glory.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Back On The Road...

So, I have been relatively silent once again for nearly a week. My heart really does go out to you, I know it's been difficult. I jest! My heart goes out to my poor addled brain; starved of writing therapy it has gone somewhat crazy for the last seven days. Goat's Pride, you were bloody good fun. However, I need the sweet sweet sounds (or not so) of solitude and silence to ease me.

But before that, Squamish! I had been told by a fairly reliable source that Squamish is the place to be. This man, however, is an avid climber, and his hunger is easily satisfied by the surroundings of Squamish, with it's rocky terrain. I, on the other hand, got utterly smashed on my first night there, meaning my first full day in Squamish was a complete write-off. Hooray! Luckily it was raining all day. Looking back I feel guilty, but at the same time I felt like I deserved a day of complete nothingness.

There's something to be said about being back on the road after a long stay in one location. Your initial lung-filling hopes and dreams come whirling back to you, and you feel like the fresh-eyed clean explorer you once were at the beginning of your trip. But just that smidgen more wise of what to expect from your future destinations.

For me, getting back on the road was a necessity for my mental health. As the time draws in closer when I'll be hopping on that plane back to Blighty, I felt like I must make the most of my final precious seconds. I say, precious...I'm totally ready to go home. My brain is skipping ahead and weighing out the chances of me finding a job and saving up more dollar the hit the road yet again. It breaks my heart when I must grind it to a hault in order to knock some sense into it.

But focus! And you can tell by the funny little post that focus I cannot. This is the last week of a trip I'd been so looking forward to for over a year. So, I have more things planned than my money can afford, a factor I will figure out later.

I left Squamish this morning, and I'm now calling Roberts Creek on the Sunshine (dubious name) Coast home for the next two days. And I will tell you all about how soothing it's tranquility is in the next post. Hopefully a little more coherant than this one...

Friday, 14 January 2011

Top Five Ways To Kill Time Whilst Traveling: 5) Facebook

Oh ye of little faith. Of course I was going to mention Facebook on this list of killing time activities. How could I not? As much as we all pretend to hate it, let's not forget that it has become an almost essential free resource for the modern traveller to keep in touch with home. If you ever find yourself a little homesick, a moment or two on Facebook will bring you crashing back down to the reality that home never changes, and you are in fact missing out on nothing whatsoever.

To be honest, it was pretty hard to find my top fives things I like about Facebook. I could, quite easily, find the worst things about Facebook, and probably go further than five. But, with the aim of keeping a positive outlook, let's not lie. Facebook is useful, and we all find ourselves on it far too much from time to time.

1) Curiosity: I'm starting wit ha brutally honest one; one which some people don't care to admit. I've also put it in a more polite way, so in other words, curiosity means just being down right nosey. We all have friends of Facebook that we added when in school, or maybe at an old job. But, in recent years, have lost touch but still find them popping up on our newsfeeds. On several occasions I have dished out a bit of gossip to current friends of mine, about friends long gone. The question 'How did you know that?' pops up, and shame passes over the face of the divulguer; 'Errmmm....Facebook.' But don't lie, you bloody love it.

2) Keeping in touch: Of course, the main purpose behind social networking. However, it works all the more sweeter when you're a few thousands miles away from your most precious ones. When I first arrived in Vancouver and struggled a little with missing home, totally unlike me whatsoever. If I hadn't have had the people at home to tell me to stop being silly, it would have gotten worse. However, keeping yourself fully informed about home gossip can make you lose focus of your travels, so beware.

3) Reconnecting: Similar to the last point, but ever so slightly different all the same. I recently noticed more and more pictures of travels from some uni friends of mine, Katie and Sam, popping up on my newsfeed. I hadn't spoken to either of them since we finished Uni back in May 2009; regardless of the fact we all lived together, we just lost touch. But I just had to talk to them when pictures from India appeared, as it was a place I thoroughly enjoyed. After a long conversation, I found out that they had just recently decided to settle in China. I have to say, when I find myself heading that way, I can't wait to catch up in person.

4) Parading your achievements: Don't lie, we all do it. Especially to let the people we dont talk to anymore know that we're actually doing something with our lives.

5) Birthdays: One of the reasons we can all agree on why Facebook is amazing; it helps us remember people's birthday. For all of those out there who don't have their birthday displayed of Facebook, you are cruel, give people a chance! Also, I quite like to say a Happy Birthday to someone I haven't spoken to in a while. Such a simple gesture but a kind one nonetheless.

So there we have it, then end of my series of time wasters. However, I encourage you to use these wisely. They could lead you to utterly waste the precious time you have spent so much money and energy to make it to. But used wisely, and they can be your saviours.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

An Artistic Snippet

I'll admit, I have been neglecting my blog somewhat over recent weeks. I apologise! You have still been reading it however, and for that, I thank you. So a bigger post is planned for tomorrow. For today, I would just like to share with you a recent achievement of me of which I am a little proud.

Around two weeks before Christmas, after having been at the farm for a few days, I decided to make sure I gave the family a gift at this festive time of year. I figured it would be a nice oppotunity to say a thank you for having me. So, to kill time in the evenings, I thought it best to take on a creative project in order for me to stay sane. Plus, homemade gifts are always the best, right?

I hadn't done any painting in a while, so hunted down some resources in the house; a house which has anything in it you could possibly imagine. Seems a little bit of a contradiction that I'm giving them something made fom their own canvas and paint, but hey ho...sentiment!

Of course I had to paint something vaguely resembling an experience I've had here; something goat related. I figured a picture of a goat in a field was too average. All you would have to do is look out the window to find something like that. And so, from the depths of my psyche, came this..... Merry Christmas Dykstra's!