Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Goodbye 2013.

I have one question - where has this year gone?! 

Despite the fact 2013 seems to have whizzed by, ALOT has changed since I was saying goodbye to 2012 - I am a completely different person to the girl who begun 2012 AND I'm now living in Australia.

As you all know, 2012 wasn't a great year for me and that left me entering 2013 feeling miserable, confused and a shy, anxious person that had completely lost direction in life. I had struggled on for a few months, feeling alone and suffering with depression (something I'm not afraid to admit) and life was very hard for me. Then, something clicked. I thought 'I'm in my twenties, I spend more time worrying than enjoying life, I'm not happy. Why am I doing this?' The girls were planning their post-university travels to Asia and I thought 'I could do that too!' 

The more and more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself it was good idea and I had my family and closest friends backing me the whole way as they were obviously aware of my current psychological state. So, that was that, I decided to go travelling in September 2013.

Cutting a long story short, my living situation was getting near rock bottom and, unfortunately, didn't resolve itself as amicably as it should have (myself being partly to blame - I was hurting and I needed to get out) so I closed the door on that part of my life, spent a month living with friends before moving back in with my parents. By the time I had got home, I was kicking my anxieties butt and my head was much clearer and healthier. Moving back in with my parents was probably the best decision I had made for myself in years - I felt relaxed, stable and wanted - three things I hadn't felt for a while. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am right now and I will never be able to thank them enough for how incredible they both are.

I continued working full time, commuting an hour+ each way every day for three or four months, reminding myself the reason I was doing this was to see the world.

From April, life was pretty darn good. I turned 22, had one of the best birthdays I've ever had - afternoon tea with my closest friends and parents, we all went to see the Rocky Horror Show and I had a lovely family meal on the actual day. May-August were full of weekend plans - tramlines, birthdays, nights out, day trips, weekends away, new friends, reconnecting with old friends I had stupidly lost contact with and Notting Hill Carnival (one of my favourite days of the year!)

Things felt good again and I felt like I had really turned a corner. 2013 has been a huge learning curve for me - one I can't explain to anybody. I have learned a lot about myself, what I want, what I don't want, what makes me happy and that you only get one life to embrace the things you want to do.

From September-November, you will know I travelled Asia; Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali (via a day in Singapore), Lombok and the Gili Islands. I was lucky enough to go with my three best friends and have now found a great friend in Nadia as well. I could not have wished to go away with a better group of people. In November I flew to Australia - for 12 months on a working holiday visa.

We arrived in Perth and stayed with Nadia's uncle for a couple of weeks before heading to a Melbourne to find work and return to a more normal, non-travelling life. This hasn't been an easy adjustment; homesickness has been hard to deal with and despite knowing I do not want to fly home, I miss my family and friends terribly. However, it has meant I can meet up with family friends, Jackie and Chris, that live in Melbourne. I hadn't seen them for nearly 11 years and it has been fantastic to get to spend time with them and their children. 

I spent Christmas and the days that follow at their home in Mt Eliza and had the best time. Not only did I have a lovely Christmas and New Year but I also had the pleasure of meeting somebody; somebody that's really brought out my confidence again and I'm truly grateful for that. That person was unexpected, but aren't all the best surprises.

On Sunday, I flew to Sydney to be reunited with my lovely chum Hannah. Nikki arrived the following day and we intend to have a fabulous night for New Year, no matter what we do.

Despite 2013 starting off as a turbulent year, I've turned it around all by myself (obviously with the help and advice of friends and family); but this is the first year in my life I feel like I've had a sense of independence. I feel like I'm growing up and able to make rational decisions through learning more about myself. I've met people and experienced things that have altered the way I think and realised, life is too bloody short - and having no plan isn't always the worst thing in the world. I'm in Australia with no idea what's next, but that's exciting, not scary. The world is my oyster!

I am so proud of myself, and nobody can take that away for me. But I have to say, without my parents, I would not have made it this far. I was a shell of a person last year and they will have no idea how much they have helped me. I feel like 2014 is starting off well already and am very excited to see what it holds for me.

So cheers and I wish you all the health and happiness in the world.

Happy 2014 from Sydney!


Saturday, 28 December 2013

5 Things

Christmas Day - our family friends invited me for Christmas Day and it was lovely, it a little strange. Not only was it 30 degrees but it was strange being woken up by their youngest son to go and open presents. I'm an only child and this is the closest I've ever felt to having siblings.

Relaxation time - Mt Eliza for five days before Sydney has been perfect. It's given me time to catch up on sleep, reading, blogging and tanning!

Messages from home - and from a couple of people in particular. The people that would stay in constant contact, as expected, have. Those that haven't, I'm not surprised but I know if I returned home it would be like we had never been apart. It's been a weird feeling being away during Christmas but it's nice to know that people miss me as much as I miss them!

Breakfast - today, I got up early and headed into the city for breakfast. Yes, on my own. I weirdly love doing this. There's something that makes me really happy about having breakfast, watching the other early risers and sipping on a green tea and honey, lost in my own thoughts.

The view over Oliver's Hill of the sea - it is breathtaking and makes me feel so, so lucky.


Friday, 27 December 2013

Polka Dot Polly Competition

Hello All,

I hope you've had a very lovely Christmas and New Year. I've been reading your twitter and blog updates to see what you've all be up to and looks like Santa was very generous this year.

I'm writing this post asking a little favour from my readers out there.

One of my closest friends has entered a competition to win the most beautiful 50's style dresses and needs your help! 

All you have to do is click on this link  - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=676782545676226&set=a.648944545126693.1073741860.207361662618319&type=1&theater

Like the picture and share it if you're feeling extra generous - but as many likes as possible would be a huge help!

Here's her entry, work that tree girl!

Thanks everybody! 


Thursday, 26 December 2013

An Aussie Christmas

Christmas with the family friends - Turducken (Turkey filled with duck and chicken, don't-cha know!), tanning, 30 degrees, post-dinner swim and a night on the deck, by the fire and surrounded by candles listening to Frank Sinatra. 

What a perfect way to spend Christmas! I missed my family terribly but could definitely get used to an Australian Christmas!

And I got to speak to my wonderful Grandad...

Until next year, Mr Clause


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Festive Greetings

In 22 years, this is the first one away from my family - it's strange and doesn't feel like Christmas at all but thankfully I'm able to spend it with family friends in Melbournw, lounging by their pool and enjoying the 30 degree heat.

Merry Christmas to all of you and I send all my love to my friends and family back at home. I miss you all terribly but know you will all have a fabulous Christmas time and New Year.

I can't believe this year is almost done! 


Monday, 23 December 2013

Bloggers Block

My blogging really seems to have been put on the back burner recently; I have bloggers block...or do I?

I've now lived in Australia since the beginning of November and, after a slightly homesick start, I feel very at ease with life here.

My priorities feel very different and it's nice to be able to spend my time how I like - I hate to use the world selfish, but there's something refreshing about being able to put myself first. 

So, the blogging...I've really been suffering, not so much with writers block, but I've been having too much fun. 

What have I been up to recently? Well, I've had another tattoo; I know not everybody agrees or likes them but I felt the timing of this one was right and the meaning is special to me as it symbolises my travelling experience. 

I've spent time with our family friends  and will also be spending Christmas with them. Let's hope it stays like this for Christmas Day...

I've been working a lot...
And finished my last shift today before I head to Sydney. 

I've been in search of the 'Christmas spirit' I normally feel this time of year. It's very perculiar being in the heat and hearing Santa clause is coming to town booming from the speakers in the department stores. I think I will always struggle getting used to a hot Christmas.

I've met some great people in Melbourne and definitely won't be leaving it long before I return.

Things are pretty good right now...


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Chocolateria San Churro

If there's one thing I can urge you to do - go to your nearest Chocoletaria San Churro...now. 

With a mix of Spanish style hot chocolates, delicious churros, treat platters and even coffees, for those of you chocolate grinches!

After deliberating for at least fifteen minutes (where food is concerned, my decisions aren't rushed) I decided on the milk chocolate hot chocolate with marshmallows AND peanut butter spoon - with soy as I am lactose intolerant, but it's supposedly better for you anyway!

It arrived...

I grabbed my spoon...

I dipped it in, letting the chocolate and peanut butter melt together 

And the rest is history...

Empty mug, happy girl. And I LOVE the cute little mugs.

Sweeten thy soul - it definitely did!


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Night Noodle Market, Alexandra Gardens

Melbourne is absolute food heaven, no wonder I love it so much!

For two weeks, Alexandra Gardens turned into Asian cuisine heaven, hosting it's fortnight of The Night Noodle Market. I ventured down three or four times, trying different stalls each time (some if which have stalls at the Victoria Night Market on a Wednesday - don't worry you haven't missed out!)

The setting was great - like a mini festival, surrounded by the sky scrappers of the city in the background. See...

With DJs, a gin tent, cider tents and ALL of those food stands, I'd probably have to say that it was my perfect environment. Is that bad?

I opted for a whole host of treats on mine and Nadia's first trip - we shared a dumpling selection from Wonderbao, prawn toast, spring rolls and satay chicken curry from a Thai stand. 

The second time was a little less satisfying - a chicken roti with questionable samosas and even more questionable mint yoghurt dressing,

The third - must better, G&T fuelled with a dish of satay chicken curry again...and a few cheeky spring rolls. I'd been banging on about it to the family friends that live here so they made a trip down with us on the final night.

DEFINITELY go next time this is on, if not for the food but for the relaxed, fun atmosphere that makes Melbourne so special in the summer.


Honey Lemon Chicken Couscous with Spinach

In a bid to be healthy recently, I've been reverting back to my old eating habits (80% healthy! the other 20% being Nutella from the jar).

Chicken, couscous and spinach is such a filling yet healthy meal.

For this all I used was a big handful of spinach with half a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and some cracked black pepper, a chicken breast cooked on the BBQ with a teaspoon of honey and the juice if half a lemon and one sachet of Ainsley Harriot's sundried tomato couscous (for two people)

Cooked in less than half an hour, leaving you full for much longer.



Friday, 13 December 2013

My Go-To Meal

Despite my love of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, I can be quite a lazy cook.

When I'm feeling like this, there's one thing I always fancy...

Poached eggs and spinach with tomatoes, onion and mushrooms cooked in a dash of balsamic.
The poached eggs and steamed spinach are extremely good for you, as are the vegetables, although cooked in a little oil and balsamic for that naughty treat.

I've also fallen in foodie love with sourdough rye bread, spread with avocado and a dash of lemon juice.

All perfect for any time of day.

Who said lazy cooking had to be boring?


Queen Victoria Wednesday Night Market

I couldn't count on both hands the number of Aussies that have said to me 'you've definitely come to Melbourne at the right time'. This time of year, us Brits are gearing up for the cold, Christmas season, sipping mulled wine and finding any excuse for a hot chocolate. The Aussies have one thing in mind - Summer! And I can see why they get excited; Melbourne  completely transforms in the nicer weather.

One of its lovely summer treats is the weekly Wednesday night food market at The Queen Victoria Market. As you know, any event involving food is something I will want to attend.

This market is BRILLIANT; stall after stall of different cuisines as well as little craft and clothing stands. Oh, and don't miss out on the delicious white sangria in the second area (near the stage outside!) 

We started off with Cajun potatoes, something you really need to try.

And a sangria to help us decide...

I won't lie to you, deciding what to eat was tough and we may have had to lap the market twice....okay, three times...to make a decision.

Seriously though, how am I meant to choose...

I ended up with a kangaroo steak burger, Nadia had paella and Vicky decided on fish and chips - all beautiful, my burger was particularly nice. 

The second time we decided it would make a great deal more sense to just work our way down. This time, I opted for a vegetarian platter including the nicest chickpea chips, caramelised onion tartlet and salad. Vicky gave us all food envy with a Philli cheese steak; next time.

The night market is on until February so venture down one Wednesday for a bite to eat!