travel

Tasmania is definitely one for the bucket list…

So few people who travel to Australia make the trip across the sea to the island off the south coast that is Australia’s eighth state, even most Australians I meet admit that they’ve never visited. So unlike anywhere else in Australia, Tasmania is rural, sparsely populated and stunningly beautiful.

Unfortunately for me I arrived as the state was on the brink of the worst storm in decades and so in a country where most of its attractions are outdoors we spent a lot of time indoors watching House Rules and Home and Away. Fortunately for me though, my sister lives in the little fishing town of St Helens right by the famous Bay of Fires and bonus she has a car so when the weather finally cleared I got myself a completely unique off the beaten track tour.

Our tour started with a 3 day road trip to Hobart, the capital of Tasmania and the largest city on the island, albeit still a small city. By Australian standards it is also an old city and has some beautiful old colonial buildings, a great waterfront and some pretty kickass pubs at Salamanca which you have to stop by for a beer or maybe two. Must dos in the city include Mount Wellington which if you don’t get blown off the top gives some awesome views across the city. As well as of course the infamous MONA, an art gallery like no other you will visit. I’m not really sure how to describe this place it’s kind of one of those you have to see it to understand. But to give you a taste it features a wall full of casts of vaginas, a light room which makes you lose all sense of space, a machine that gets fed and poos twice daily and a washing up bowl with a goldfish swimming around a kitchen knife. It is truly weird but truly not to be missed. Then to recover from the strangeness of MONA, take a venture just outside of the city to Bonorong, a little wildlife sanctuary where you can remove all memories of the wall of vaginas by making friends with the loveliest bunch of roos (because do you really go to Australia if you don’t hang out with the locals?!)

We spent much of the rest of my trip touring around the North East of the country which is home to some truly spectacular scenery. As I mentioned previously my sister lived on the doorstep of the famous Bay of Fires, beautiful white beaches, blue blue seas and orange tinged rocks that glow in the sunshine (hence the name). We went to a number of the beaches in the area but my favourite visit? North Cosys where we sat on the beach as the sun went down with a bonfire and a few beers to keep us warm. If that’s not an idyllic situation I don’t know what is.

Further south along the coast is the stunning Wineglass Bay, and no there’s no wine here but again some spectacular beaches and views, if you can take on the intense climb, or rather the 40 minute gently sloping track that nearly gave me a heart attack!

Speaking of wine though, all along the East coast sits the East Coast Wine Trail, with a whole array of winery’s, we of course took the time to visit a few and sample some of the wares. My favourite? Priory Wines, a tiny sheep farm turned winery right at the northern end of the trail where they managed to make a Chardonnay so good for the first time in my life I purchased a bottle!

You can’t take a trip to Tasmania without visiting The Little Blue Lake. It is as it says on the tin, a little blue lake, but oh my gosh is it stunning! It even managed to take my mind off the fact that the love of my life Prince Harry was marrying another woman that day! And well worth the car sickness inducing journey, that is also very picturesque if you aren’t focusing all your energy on not throwing up.

My final night in the country saw us heading to Launceston so that I could catch my early morning flight across to New Zealand. Honestly it’s not a very exciting city, there is very little to do here especially on a quiet weekday evening, however it is home to a 24 hour Kmart which is very exciting! And so that was how I spent my final evening in Australia wandering around Kmart and buying anything and everything I figured I could fit in my backpack!

I could wax lyrical about all the sights and views and wonders of Tasmania for hours, and the crazy thing is I didn’t even scratch the surface! Lucky for me my sister intends to stay there a while so I’m already planning a return trip, but even if you don’t have a relative living there make sure you take the time to visit this state on your tour of Aus I promise you won’t be disappointed (unless of course you go to Launceston!)

travel

Perth is packed full of Aussie fun…

I arrived in Perth straight off my long haul flight from London extremely sleep deprived, sweaty and with no idea which way was up. I splashed out on a taxi from the airport because my brain was in no shape to figure out the logistics of taking the bus, and then defied all the rules of jet lag and immediately crawled into bed and fell asleep. I can most definitely confirm that this was the wrong decision as I then proceeded to spend the first few days with the most messed up sleep pattern, feeling ridiculously tired early evening, crazy awake in the early hours of the morning and completely unable to wake up at an acceptable time. Put simply jet lag is a bitch.

Once my muddled brain got over the extreme shock of it being light when it was supposed to be the middle of the night and I finally dragged my jet lagged ass out of bed I set out into the sunshine my pale legs out, my sunglasses firmly on, trusty yellow backpack by my side and armed with a 7eleven $1 coffee ready to explore the city. And boy is there plenty of it, so here without further ado is my list of Perth must dos…

1) Elizabeth Quay was my first port of call. It’s a great little area to wander through in the sunshine with fantastic views across the water and back at the city it has a veritable funfair of attractions; mini golf, gelato cafe, water park, carousel, take your pick there’s plenty on offer. It’s also just a great spot to simply chill at the waterfront and attempt to recover from horrendous jet lag.

2) Perth city centre offers up a decent amount of spots to chill in the sunshine including the Supreme Court Gardens, where I spent a fair few hours accompanied by a book attempting to work on my minuscule tan. If you’re wandering through the city centre be sure not to miss London Court, a street mocked up to look like an old time London street which had me wandering up and down and giggling for far longer than was normal.

3) Heirisson Island sits a little further up river from the city centre but is a great escape from the bustle of the city. The big draw though is the group of kangaroos that inhabit one side of the island. I am, as you already know an animal lover and right up there with my favourites is the kangaroo. I can’t quite explain my obsession with them but I love them and their big furry ears and their bouncing. So obviously this place was high on my list of must sees. I waited until the second day so the jet lag had decreased a little and then packed myself a picnic and made my way there. There are a whole heap of buses that run around Perth including the free cat bus, but it is actually a great walk along the riverfront from the city centre especially in the sunshine, plus you get to spot all the giant and not at all terrifying jellyfish chilling in the river. I was warned that I may not catch sight of a Roo on the island as they are exceptionally good at hiding themselves away in the midday sun, luck was on my side though and as I wandered across a clearing I spotted one hanging out in the shade and my day was made!

4) Fremantle absolutely cannot be missed. A brief 30 minute train ride from the city centre and you arrive in the seaside port of Fremantle and it is awesome. An idyllic seaside town with an edge, it’s full of stunning beaches, great cafes, historical buildings, a hippy weekend market and some epic street art. You cannot miss the Little Creatures Brewery which not only does an amazing tour and very thorough tasting but also has a restaurant and bar right in the middle of the brewery where the pints come fresh from the tanks. Cicerello’s is also high on the list for some truly epic fish and chips. Grab your food and a beer at the counter then head outside to sit on the sea front and chow down. I could wax lyrical about Fremantle for hours it truly was my favourite part of Perth and I repeatedly made my way back there for more of its goodness.

5) Beaches! Perth is surrounded by the beauties and having not seen the beach since I vomited over one at the full moon party in Thailand I was overexcited to say the least. I loved South Beach in Fremantle but Cottesloe is also one not to be missed. Being off season and mid week the beach was practically deserted when I took myself there for a lazy afternoon and it was gorgeous. I have never felt quite so lucky as I did flopped down in the sand on a beautiful, almost private, beach with a good book and a cold drink.

6) Kings Park is the largest inner city park in the world and home to a very impressive botanical garden and the slightly terrifying DNA tower which spirals up (I hate spiral staircases) to give brilliant views across the city. Truly massive, the park is a great place to get some exercise and hike around, as well as yet another great place in this city to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

7) Toastface Grillah do the best toasties in town. Truth be told I spent a great deal of this week eating, getting reacquainted with my favourite Aussie treats as well as discovering some new ones, and this was one of my great discoveries. I freaking love cheese and these toasties come packed full with them! It’s a tiny little place hidden around a corner but it is cool with its mismatched crate seating and kickass graffiti and I definitely came back for seconds.

8) ROTTNEST ISLAND! I mean I’ve already talked about it in my previous post but seriously it’s a beautiful haven of beaches and quokkas and if you’re in Perth you simply cannot miss it!

Although not quite making it onto my top cities list, even with Fremantle tugging at my heartstrings, Perth is a fantastic city to spend a week or two, and I’m so glad I made the decision to stop here on my way to New Zealand it’s made for a damn good start to my adventure, roll on the next stop!

travel

Can we talk about quokkas…

Before I talk about Perth or any other Australian goodness let’s talk about the whole reason I started my adventure in Western Australia, the quokka!

Anybody who knows me knows that I am huge sucker for a cute animal and they really don’t come much cuter than quokkas.

(I mean just look at that face)

I first heard about these furballs of joy three years ago, in the way I ashamedly get most of my life information, through reading an article on buzzfeed and I immediately knew I needed to find these babies and smuggle one home to be my lifelong friend! A couple of years ago I got my chance and when visiting Sydney happened across a few of these friendly critters at a couple of wildlife parks around the city. And oh my god were they even cuter in real life but I could not get enough of the cuties and therefore planned my return to Australia in a way that I could go to the homeland of the friendliest creatures on earth Rottnest Island!

Fun quokka fact Rottnest was discovered by the Dutch whilst searching for Australia they thought it was full of large rats and thus named the island Rottnest (rats nest) of course these rats were really quokkas and the Dutch were fools to just turn around and leave without making friends!

Today Rottnest is just a short ferry ride from Perth and attracts ever increasing crowds of tourists everyday. Completely car and predator free this island is a haven for quokkas and it’s impossible to miss these furry fiends. Top quokka tip if you go on a Tuesday it’s half price so you can get a return ferry and bike hire for the day for $69. And so that’s what I did hopped on a ferry, rented myself a bike and took off around the island to find myself a quokka. An hour in I was starting to panic that I wouldn’t find one and then all of a sudden he just peeped out of the bushes and I was gone. They weren’t lying when they said they were the friendliest of all creatures, and they have literally no fear of humans. This little guy just wandered right on over and instantly became my best friend. Which coincidentally makes it incredibly easy to get your obligatory quokka selfie!

I really needn’t have worried about not spotting one because after that they just appeared from everywhere and it was the best day ever! I could have scooped all of them up and just carried them away with me. Of course they are still wild animals so you can’t feed them, as tempting as it is, it might make them very sick. Neither should you touch them, however when one gets his nose in between the zips of your bag and crawls inside you kind of need to pick the little fella up and haul them back out!

If you’re down for beautiful beaches, hidden sandy coves, seal colonies, whale watching, gorgeous lakes and the cutest animals Rottnest is an absolute must see. It’s now top of my places to holiday when I’m rich! If you can drop by Western Australia on your travels down under be sure to go meet the quokkas and make yourself a few new friends!

travel

How to (ineffectively) prepare for a year away…

It took me right up until the moment the plane lifted off into the air to believe that I was really jetting off to the other side of the world for a year. I was so wrapped up in getting everything moved out of my flat in time and drinking with all my friends whilst I still could, my brain didn’t really register what was going on. So in short very little preparation actually occurred. Which to be honest I think is probably the best way, it gave my brain very little opportunity to start panicking, meltdown and ultimately rethink my entire decision. Truthfully I think there is no particular way to prepare for a trip this big, everybody will have their own ways of getting ready, but let me give you a little insight into my, limited, preparations for my journeys to New Zealand.

Step one I arranged all the big ones before even telling anyone I was going, I booked my flights, sent off my visa application, applied for a job and arranged my first few nights of accommodation. At least with these done I could rest easy and not panic about arranging things last minute, also when people asked I could give them solid answers about my plans as opposed to having people look at me with an unnerving look of terror like my boss did when I told him my job hadn’t yet been confirmed. (It has since been so panic over.)

Step two with the big things pre-arranged I then kind of stopped planning. I still had a couple of arrangements to make such as confirming my job and arranging my long term accommodation but bar that I didn’t want to get too set into a plan, because guess what they tend to change, especially when travelling! So I know I’m dropping by Australia on the way, first Perth and then Tasmania, and I know I’m heading out to New Zealand to work a ski season in Mount Ruapehu but after that who knows. The ski season ends in October and I have a year long visa a whole country to explore, a passport crying for some stamps and an awful long way back home. I have a rough plan of what I want to do and where I want to go but I don’t want to set it in stone because that’s half the fun of travelling making things up as you go along and this is going to be an adventure.

Step three took the most time and stress of all… packing! I both simultaneously hate it and love it. Weirdly I really enjoy making detailed packing lists (I have a bit of a list fetish) and I love gradually purchasing items to take on my travels, but I hate cramming everything into a bag and I hate hate hate having to decide what to leave behind because there just isn’t room. Here’s the problem I’ve been backpacking before, spent a few months at a time trekking around various different continents, but I’ve ever been away for such a length of time. The other problem? I needed to pack for all seasons, I’m going to be enjoying some Australian sunshine first and hopefully later on some New Zealand sunshine but I am also going to be spending a few months in the snow, which means packing for all seasons and my god ski gear is bulky! So with my old backpack on the verge of falling to pieces I purchased a new one and set out to cram it full with all my shit, and let me assure you it is very much crammed full. I wouldn’t like to say I’ve over packed but I have most definitely over packed! It’s probably going to turn out that I will not wear any of these items at all I’ll probably end up living in the same one or two outfits and I have a sneaking suspicion that a fair amount of stuff is going to get thrown out along the way but you know always better to be prepared! Seriously though, if you have a couple of tops, some underwear, your toothbrush, bank card and passport you’re probably golden. Ok well maybe you need a couple of other bits but remember other countries have shops as well and I can absolutely guarantee you will find a h&m in any country you go to! I promise I’ll let you know successful/unsuccessful my packing has been at the end of my trip, I have a feeling it’ll err on the unsuccessful side, but who knows you might get some (what not to do) packing tips from me!

And the final step? Get excited! In between all the shopping, panicking, packing, farewell drinks and tears (trust me there were a few of those) there were these odd time out moments where I just sat and appreciated what I was about to experience. The only real preparation advice I can give you is to make sure you enjoy those giddy excited moments because trust me there is nothing quite like the fizzy, slightly nauseous, anticipation you get before embarking on an adventure!

travel

I bought a one way ticket to New Zealand…

Following on from a statement in an earlier post that I make rash decisions, this may be the biggest of them all.

I am moving by myself to the other side of the world with just a backpack (albeit a pretty large and pretty full one) with no return ticket and no real date of return. What crazy thought making process went through my head to get me into this position? Honestly I’m not so sure. A couple of months ago I was sat wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. My sister had just flown back out to Australia and I remained in London mindlessly working in a restaurant, living in a house share with one of the most annoying house mates of all time with a pretty non-existent love life. I knew that I needed a change, I was restless, my feet were itching for an adventure and I had a big old bucket list to be ticking off. If I’m going to be working in hospitality and attempting to write on the side then I can do that anywhere in the world I reasoned, so why not try something new. I love London and there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll wind my way back but I’d gotten a little tired, everything felt a little stale. Perhaps it is my quarter life crisis. I looked around and saw my school friends settling down and having families or achieving their crazy dreams and I am nowhere close to where I thought I’d be ten years ago. And yes I know this is not necessarily a bad thing I don’t think I even want to be where my 16 year old self dreamed me all those years ago. But what I did need was a big kick up the ass to stop myself floundering around and wasting my life away on drunken tequila fuelled nights and Netflix binges in bed.

So after muddling through a few options my mind jumped to New Zealand, I’d always planned to return to New Zealand and spend more time there, I was planning to go visit my sister in Australia this year so that tied in, and after working a ski season in Canada on my gap year between high school and university I’d always vowed to work another one once finishing uni. And so with shockingly little research it was decided I was taking another gap year and moving my ass to New Zealand to freeze myself working on the ski slopes.

Fast forward a couple of months and I have my work visa, flights are booked, initial accommodation arranged, job interviews set up, I finished my final shift at work and moved all of my crap out of my London flat. I am flying out in a few days time and truth be told I’m little freaked out.

All my friends have repeatedly told me I’m crazy and I have serious guts but I’m not so sure I do. This is the biggest gamble I’ve ever taken. Maybe I’ll be lonely, miss my friends, miss my family, maybe I’ll hate New Zealand and the people I meet there, maybe I’ll break a leg my first day on the slopes, maybe I’ll be broke and miserable and on a plane home in a matter of months. Maybe some awful thing will happen and I’ll never make it home, believe me my mind has run through every possible terrible scenario, BUT, here’s the big one… maybe I’ll have the best goddamn time of my life! Who knows what will happen over the course of the next year, I just know that I will always regret the journeys I didn’t take far far more than the ones I did. So wish me luck and stay tuned for tales of my new adventure!

Film

I love ‘Love, Simon’

This weekend I went to see ‘Love, Simon’ and I’m still on a giddy euphoric high. It absolutely is one of the best films I have ever seen and you should all go see it.

For those of you who don’t know it, it’s based on the book ‘Simon vs the Homosapian agenda’ (which I have now of course purchased) about a teenage boy in his final year of high school who is gay. The only problem no one knows. He starts emailing an anonymous boy from his school ‘Blue’ who has the same secret. Although neither know who the other one is they form a connection and fall in love. It is one of those wholesome, feel good, all American, teenage coming of age films.  A romance that, to use one of my favourite phrases, gives you all the feels. How incredible that it is the first mainstream Hollywood romance where the male protagonist is gay. This is of course a big deal, as recently as when I was a tween this premise would have been unthinkable, yet at the same time it isn’t, because when you watch it, it just makes sense, why shouldn’t this be the norm?

This is such a smart film, hold your sides funny, I think I spent 90% off the film crying with laughter and the other 10% crying from pure emotions sometimes I was crying from both simultaneously. It perfectly portrays all the jumbled emotions of a teenager coming to terms with himself. Simon jumps from crush to crush as he tries to determine Blues identity in the way that wild teenage daydreams do, falls out and makes up with friends, and struggles with his relationship with his family. Nick Robinson and the rest of the cast are sublime, and I think I’m not the only one to now have just a little bit of a crush. Also I really want Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel to adopt me, they play the most wonderful of parents.

This is a modern day rom com with a nostalgic feel, which reminds you of all the great romantic comedies we grew up with, and leaves you with the same warm and fuzzy feeling. Oh yes and it has a kickass soundtrack that has been playing on loop ever since I left the cinema.

Go give this movie a watch people, I promise you won’t regret it!

Uncategorized

Reasons why I’m not yet a real life adult…

Adulting is hard ok. I really struggle to wrap my head around the fact that I am 27. I am way closer to my 30th birthday than my 21st and sometime this year it really hit me that I am of proper adult age, how the hell did that happen? In my head I’m still a giddy 19 year old and nowhere near ready to be a full blown grown up and here’s why…

1) I make rash decisions. I am that dangerous type of person where I either sit and mull things over for weeks on end or I just go ah fuck it and jump right in, in a perfect world I’d be somewhere in the middle. To be fair this has sometimes lead to the best decisions of my life like leaving a job that was draining the life out of me or at the other end of the spectrum many many great nights out. But many a time it has lead to terrible decisions especially when it comes to relationship situations. And I then spend weeks feeling terrible and mulling over everything before I jump and make another rash and probably bad bad decision.

2) I still think tequila is a good idea. It only ever leads to me making the aforementioned rash decisions and they’re almost always the terrible ones. My body has learnt by now that I’m too old for tequila and punishes me with increasingly worst hangovers but does my brain learn? Nope. I fear me and tequila will be partners in crime for a while to come before I finally break away from this abusive relationship.

3) I suck at budgeting. Ok this isn’t entirely true I always have a rough idea of expenditure each month, I do my best to try and save and helpfully there are such things as direct debits and standing orders so that I can set these up and ensure that my rent and bills are all paid correctly and on time. The problem is that I’m a little lazy and a little impulsive I’ll walk into Topshop and get tempted or go out for drinks and end up happily buying rounds and within a few minutes my whole budget has gone to shot.

4) I have no clue what I’m doing. Seriously I flip flop around trying to figure out what the actual hell I want out of life. I think this is because I want to do too many things, but instead of getting on and doing them I get confused and panic and end up lying on my bedroom floor crying having eaten an entire Easter egg to myself (and I don’t mean a mini one) wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life. In my defence I have ticked a fair amount off my bucket list, I’ve been lucky enough to travel a hell of a lot, I’ve moved to London, I’ve got my degree and I’ve started this blog. But on the other hand I am after temporarily getting a job in a restaurant still, 3 and 1/2 years later working in a restaurant and I still haven’t quite figured out exactly what I’m going to use that degree for, despite years of people asking me.

5) I still believe in fairytales. Well not fairytales per se I don’t think I’m going to leave my shoe behind on some tequila fuelled night out and a prince will travel around the entirety of the country with it desperately trying to find me. But I do still believe, or at the very least hope, that there is a happy ending out there for me. That I will find my Prince Charming, unfortunately it is highly unlikely he’ll be an actual prince especially now the love of my life is marrying Meghan Merkle, but still I believe, or at the very least hope, I’m going to get my happy ever after.

So to any floundering twenty somethings (or people of any age really) out there, don’t feel bad if you’re not quite where you want to be yet or if you still don’t know where that is. Trust me we’ve all been there, I am most definitely still there and probably will be for a while. I guess all we can do is enjoy life as it comes, and slowly baby step by baby step muddle our way through this mess. Because despite not yet being anywhere near grown up, looking back to ten, five or even one year ago I have come so far and am so much happier and more comfortable with who I am, that I believe one day we’ll get there, even if I’m not quite sure what there is. I’ll keep you posted!