Wednesday, 28 May 2014

52 Lists // Week 22 - Things That Warm My Heart

1. That boy of mine - his cheeky little grin, the way he laughs, the fact he's so sweet and only I get to see it

2. Bracken the cheeky black Labrador - she's so excitable and affectionate 

3. Cute old couples holding hands - love doesn't seem to last as long for our generation 

4. A dimly lit room, the only light coming from candles - snuggled under a blanket with a cup of tea 

5. Spending my weekends going for walks, baking and doing the things I love

6. Get togethers with friends - laughter and a constant flow of conversation 

7. Reminiscing 

8. Surprises - I hate them but if you manage to get a surprise to remain a surprise with then I love them


Thursday, 22 May 2014

52 Lists // Week 21 - Blogs I love

1. Joy Felicity Jane - the beautiful Tania shows us a little insight into her lovely life. So pleased Sydney is working out for her.

2. Gemma Fottles - my lovely school friend tells the tales of her travels and all about her life living in Amsterdam

3. The Londoner - Life envy! 

4. Skinny Taste - lovely recipes

5. Cider with Rosie - idealistic country walks with her lovely dog, beautiful insights into her days.

6. Made in Hunters - Lover of horses - say no more

7. The Little Backpacker - Jodie's honest and insightful accounts of her travelling experiences

8. The Littlest Things - photographer of What to Cook Tonight and Sydney eatery/lifestyle expert - every blog posts is a pleasure to read


TRAVEL: When is it time to go home?

And no, I'm not talking about putting that Mojito to one side and hailing a cab.
Travelling is a funny thing. As I'm nearing the 9 month mark since departing from Birmingham airport to set off on my adventure, I'm finding myself thinking more and more - when is it time to pack up that backpack and head home?

I love travelling, backpacking, seeing new things, experiencing different ways of life, and let's face it, lazing and laying in the sunshine. I hand wrote this from several thousand feet on the plane from Auckland back to Melbourne. Filled with no anticipation and warmth, only with a sadness due to leaving the one I love, leaving a month of laughter and not having to worry about working of setting an alarm. Melbourne means going back to my old job, colder weather as Autumn becomes winter...I love Melbourne, it has felt like home but as I left my boyfriend, I also left a big chunk of my heart at Auckland Interational Airport. I felt like my want to travel got on that plane to LAX with him. I want to continue backpacking, but financially it isn't plausible right now. I'm currently crashing at friends house, back at work, searching for a second job and feeling like I've lost my right arm.
Here's to me wishing for that money tree or a magic carpet to get me to Fiji or the US or to see Uluru.
I think I've answered my own question really - when you find more reasons to go than to stay, you'll know. And, when your family need you but you're in a totally different hemisphere and can't comfort them.
To continue my adventures I need to save. My heart is split between my home in Forest Town and that boy of mine that's 15 hours behind (hashtag time difference problems)
Plan - head home, save and plan my next adventure (either New Zealand or South America in 2015 and Morocco before that!)
My Australian dream isn't over but I've got a case of 'itchy feet' and the need to have a little change.
Watch this space 

Monday, 19 May 2014

TRAVEL: Goodbye Auckland

Today I'm not just saying goodbye to a place. I'm saying goodbye to a hill we didn't climb, a shop we said we would visit, the Fed and their chicken salad sandwiches with that perfected crunch to their crackling, a set of new friends, my spot at the end of the bar, the gin and cranberry craze, poached eggs and crumpets and a month of figuring out life after travelling.
I might have come to New Zealand, mostly seen the Right Track, spent too much time in bed watching Hannibal, getting over excited about Game of Thrones and being educated in movies I need to watch but I wouldn't trade any moment of it because it's let me see a little bit more of the world.

Another example of a risky decision made while away that has exceeded expectations and further confirmed why I came on this adventure in the first place.


Thursday, 15 May 2014

52 Lists // Week 20 - Today

1. Breakfast in bed

2. Go out and explore Auckland

3. Tattoo (if they can fit me in)

4. Dinner at Tyler St Garage (plus live music as part of Auckland's music month)

5. Finish Steve Zissou 


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

TRAVEL: Yamba and Byron Bay

I took the lead with the driving from the Big Banana to Byron, via the beautiful Yamba - very weird knowing I was driving a huge five person campervan but a great drive and I can't believe I've not owned an automatic before!

We stopped off for lunch at the beautiful Pippi Beach...

The view was amazing as you can see and it was lovely to be able to spend an hour here.

This was the luxury of the campervan - moving on to a new place as often as we wanted and being able to stop off spontaneously at beautiful places like Pippi.

From Yamba we drove to Byron Bay - the place I was most excited about.

We arrived and I was already excited - hippy/surfer vibes with the beautiful beach, tie dye, bare foot and carefree people floating about (not literally, of course) - HEAVEN.

Unfortunately we couldn't get in at the Arts Factory (Byrons's must-stay) so opted for The Tourist Vilage a little further out. It wasnt ideal for us; a very dark half an hour walk along a fast road into the town. We went Coco's an indulged in copious amounts of cocktail jugs and a dance. The walk home was particularly horrible - we bumped into a dark shadow along the dark route home, a dog we were convinced was a wolf...Funny now but not so much at the time!

We woke up the next morning as early as possible and our way to the Arts Factory - we were staying there that night, even if we had to beg! We got in, thankfully and had a quick dip in the pool. The Arts Factory is a perfect reflection of Byron, relaxed, hippy/surfy, friendly and exactly the place you want to be staying. It hosts a number of dorms but also the fun, quirky option of staying in a tipi, something I would definitely do next time!

After our dip in the pool, we had a stroll into town for an afternoon on the beach; perfect! The beach was full of people and the sea full of surfers. I could watch people surf for hours; it absolutely fascinates me and I am so jealous that haven't surfed nearly as much as I wanted to while over here.

After a few hours down at the beach we headed to the Beach Hotel for a cider and an hour out of the sunshine. It went down a treat...

That evening the Arts Factory hosted a talent show, and not just any talent with actual talent. We expected a few joke acts or ones not slightly up to par but everybody that entered was super talented! That night we ventured to Cheeky Monkeys, well worth going to - cheap drinks, dancing on the tables and a popular Byron hotspot. From there we went to Woody's, decorated in a surf shack style with a relaxed vibe. Unfortunately for us, everywhere was a bit quieter than we had anticipated. We headed back to the Arts Factory and enjoyed a few more drinks there, chatting and laughing the night away.

I could have stayed in Byron for weeks; I love the atmosphere, the people, the beach - it was and still remains my favourite place I have visited in Australia so far.

I'll be back one day soon!


Monday, 12 May 2014

TRAVEL: Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour

After our little stop off at Port Macquarie and the Koala Hospital, we made our way to Coffs Harbour.

We had heard good things about Coffs so were surprised to arrive and be met with a rather old school feel, reminding me a lot of America with its motels and building style.

We found a lovely place to stay for the night, Park Beach Holiday Park. For four of us it cost $52 which meant a powered site for the campervan with use of the amenities block, pool, campsite kitchen, BBQs, TV room and an on site shop - all smack bang on the beach. 

Up early, we set off to visit the famous Big Banana of Coffs Harbour. Coffs is famous for its banana industry, hence the big banana. But the history goes a little deeper...a banana stall was set up here years ago, with the huge banana plantation behind it and used to promote the banana industry. Now, the Big Banana site still hosts the plantation but also includes a leisure park, with water park, ice skating, sweet shop and various other activities.

I can see why people visit Coffs Harbour with its laid back atmosphere, beaches, tourist parks; perfect for a relaxed stay.


Thursday, 8 May 2014

52 Lists // Week 19 - Memories

1. My mum fetching me from school and me singing, word for word, a song from the Les Mis soundtrack and her going 'that was beautiful' - I'm the worst singer so it amuses me.

2. Going strawberry picking as a little girl

3. Beach Break with everybody over the summer - so much fun

4. My 20th and 22nd birthdays

5. Boarding the plane to Bangkok to come travelling - no return flight, no idea when I would be home

6. Meeting my boyfriend - not for sentimental reasons, just because it's a funny story

7. Watching the sunset on Gili T at the reggae bar with Vicky and Luka and the conversation we had

8. Skydiving - a Incredible, absolutely incredible

9. Diving in the Great Barrier Reef - getting over my open water fear

10. Our East Coast roadtrip

11. Graduation - the look on my grandads face when I turned up at their house to surprise him in my cap and gown as he was too ill to make it

12. The sounds that come from my kitchen at home on a Saturday morning 

13. My grandma making me watching Carol Vordeman's times tables video EVERY morning before school 

14. The feeling I had from horse riding and competing 

15. All the bad stuff but with a positive spin - thinking of it all makes me realise how far I've come 


Sunday, 4 May 2014

LET'S TALK: Unemployed Travelling

Travelling and NOT working sounds dreamy right? Days on the beach, lunching down the side streets, discovering hidden little gems...Yes, it's fabulous. There is no greater thrill than waking up, heading out and playing explorer. However, it isn't always sunshine and rainbows.

It's okay when you're sightseeing or on trips or with your mates on three days benders but the reality of spending days alone, dwindling funds, summer turning to autumn...there isn't much to do and it can get lonely. The crying shame is - most things cost money. I appreciate you can go to parks, free galleries, travel to see the beautiful views but, usually, money is spent along the way. When you're a backpacker out of work, you don't always have this spare change and reality is, these little $2 or $3 spent here and there do add up. I don't mean to burst anybody's bubble but I want to give an honest account of my experiences, good and not so good. This is one of them - once the trips and the sightseeing aren't as frequent and you are temporarily unemployed, it can suck.

Right now I am in Auckland visiting my boyfriend. I haven't spoken about it too much on here; mostly because it's sickeningly cute. Yes, I've become one of those people. All you need to know - I'm incredibly happy and to say we met whilst travelling, I can't see things changing between us in a hurry. Anyway, right now I'm NZ for almost four weeks. The plan was to travel round, see the sights etc. but the travellers amongst you will know, even non-travellers will know, you can't go out spending money every single day. It's unrealistic. As I'm over here I left my Melbourne job to visit. I had plenty saved but when you aren't getting those weekly envelopes of dollar bills, your bank balance begins to feel a little sorry for itself. I'm a worrier, in every aspect, from worrying about whether I remembered to turn off my hair straighteners to the bigger things in life.

Now, the other side of it - dwindling funds are sucky, just plain not nice. I'm over here with a boyfriend that works Monday-Friday. So with disappearing money, summer leaving us and wanting to actually see the sights with my guy, the days tend to feel long.This said, I wouldn't change the feeling I get at 6pm when I know he's on his way home. And for now, it is home. We have a month in a private hostel room. A hostel that feels more like being at home than being in a building full of travellers.

I guess my point is, travelling is a fabulous experience but unless your adventures are constant, day in day out, then there will be times where you think 'despite being in this country, I kinda feel like I'm back home.'

That said, I've discovered what you have to do...

1. NOT stay in bed all day - yes, have a little lie in but don't stay in bed late every single day
2. Go outside for a walk, even if it's only 20 minutes to and from the shops - just get some fresh air
3. Read - travel brochures (to find out about the free things or plan things to do that are a wise expenditure), books, magazines
4. Download (if you have an iPad/tablet or make the most of the TV rooms most hostels have) - films, TV shows take up time
5. Don't try and do EVERYTHING all in one day - it may sound boring but if you have two loads of washing to do, a food and a facetime/skype date with your loved ones back home, eke it out over a few days.
6. Socialise with those in your hostel
7. Buy yourself a little something - even if it's only a cup of tea
8. Plan your next move - be it a new trip or a game plan for your next job - I return to Australia towards the end of May and have already started job hunting and planning out the last few months of my stay.

And I simply blog. Sometimes when you have so much going on, even if it's just long weeks at work and making the most of two days off, blogging often moves it's way down the priority list. I'm thoroughly enjoying being able to blog freely...and I'm thoroughly enjoying seeing that boyfriend of mine everyday.


Friday, 2 May 2014

Port Macquarie,NSW

On day two of our campervan trip, we arrived in Port Macquarie fairly early and headed down to the beach for an hour armed with our sarnies and had a lovely little stroll up and down by the ocean. I find something really relaxing and comforting in walking along the beach - looking out to sea and having a little time to gather your thoughts is very calming.

A short time there then led us to somewhere I was very excited to visit, and the only reason I really wanted to come to Port M in the first place; the Koala Hospital.

What those volunteers do for those lovely animals is amazing. I'm an animal lover through and through and truly admire a cause like this.

The Koala Hospital attempts to rehabilitate and care for injured and sick Koalas; whether it being injuries as a result of bushfires, losing family members and getting a little lost or simply getting a bit older and needing a helping hand.

As you walk in, you are met with the patients board...

Names, locations, reasons for being a patient. It makes me a bit emotional even reminising about this day, I just love what they do. (And I did look into the volunteer programme, something I would love to be a part of in the future)

Admission is free but you are able to give donations, something I happily did - those donations help to keep the place running and to get those little guys on the mend. You can also see their operating theatre for the days they have patients that require a little bit more care. The day we visited there were no operations taking place but I have been told it isn't uncommon to witness surgical procedures in there.

Each koala has their own yard and you can walk around freely to see each patient...

The Koala Hospital isn't a big place and doesn't particularly require a big chunk of time but if you arrive at 10am or 3pm you can watch the daily feed and also have a guided talk through the patients and how the Koala Hospital functions.

If you're an animal lover, I would definitely recommend a stop off at Port Macquarie's Koala Hospital. Their cause is a brilliant one and worth witnessing. Give them a little donation, it doesn't have to be a lot - those little fellas need as much help as they can!


Thursday, 1 May 2014

52 Lists // Week 18 - Lottery Win

1. Buy my little cottage by the sea
2. Open my own coffee shop/deli
3. Travel to all of the other places I want to see around the world
4. Get back into horse riding, buying my own horse
5. Donate more money to UK charities
6. Complete my skydive license 
7. Throw a big party for my friends and family 
8. Endeavour with my writing, continuing with the freelance 
9. Start my own volunteer project in Africa to build an orphanage and teach children English
10. Pay off my student loan 
11. Repay my parents ALL of the money they have given me over the years