Isolation station week three – eight… involving a foggy brain, all the Disney movies and zero motivation…

The first few weeks after I arrived on the cattle station I had a whole plan, with free afternoons and literally nowhere to go, I was going to be proactive. For once I had no social distractions, no friends to go play stupid games or chill on beaches with and no bars or parties where I could get sidelined by drinking. And for a while this plan went ok, you may have noticed there were a couple of updates on here. I started working on a writing project I had been mulling over forever. I even started doing the Joe Wicks PE class everyday, thinking now was the time I could get fit. I would leave the outback tanned as fuck, skinny (well maybe not skinny but more toned and able to go for a run again without the need to stop and be sick!) and with a heap of writing done.

But oh so gradually this enthusiasm started to fade away.

A couple of days ago I read an article, I can’t remember the exact science (I’ve never been an exact science kind of girl) but it explained that long and sustained periods of stress like we are in now, mean that a certain type of chemical is constantly in our body. In short bursts it’s good for us, but constantly there it makes us foggy and lose focus. It makes sense, weirdly I’ve discovered that I am at my best and most motivated when I am busy. The time I was writing the most was my last hectic summer in London when I was working 6 days a week, 10 or 12 hour days and then partying till the early hours of the morning before doing it all again the next day. I thrive off adrenaline, and this static environment I find myself in had sapped up all my motivation and wrung my emotions out. All I wanted to do after finishing work each morning was to curl up in bed and read or watch films.

Something about the world turning upside down and being so very far away from home as it was happening, and my mind had started playing tricks on me. I was crying at just about anything. (Crying over YouTube videos is completely normal behaviour usually when I’m on my period not so normal for the entire month.) My dreams constantly starred people from my past. Old familiar faces that, whilst every so often I’ll get an odd spurt of missing, I now see every night. The kindest boy I ever knew, from my first New Zealand family has a recurring role in my nightly dreams, alongside childhood friends and of course my much missed mum. Waking up each morning without any of them truly being here invokes a weird kind of loneliness, and a strong nostalgia for the past. I start most of my days trying to shake this unnerving feeling, and mooching around work still half in a dream.

In the mornings I have found myself selecting soundtracks to every musical I’ve ever seen, or old favourite albums to listen to as I go about my work. The Kaiser Chiefs ‘Employment’ album features daily, taking me straight back to my year 9 Paris trip. When me and my three best friends somehow all swindled a place on the trip and hyped on sugar pranced around the city dressed in gypsy skirts (the top fashion item of the summer), eating crepes and fancying boys whose full names I can’t even remember. I haven’t thought about that summer for so long but now I miss it and I miss that innocence and above all I miss my friends.

Like reverting back to old and much loved music, I’ve also guiltily ignored the long list of ‘to be read’ books in favour of re-reading old classics. I’ve easily sunk back into the comforting world of Harry Potter, greeting the characters like old friends. Along side classics which I borrowed from my mum’s bookshelves as a teenager, like Wuthering Heights and Charles Dickens eagerly consuming them all at breakneck speed.

And then of course there’s Disney + (there could not have been a more perfectly timed launch of a streaming service.) And I have spent far too many of my afternoons here curled up with an old favourite, reliving the romances and adventures that I so longed for as a little girl. Singing along to the joyful songs that are permanently printed on my brain, and blocking out reality with an escape to Disney’s world of dreams and magic. Perhaps, some desperate part of my brain is trying to make up for the unexpected halt to my own adventures, and my current complete lack of romance, by living through these childhood films. Mostly though I’ve found myself watching the 2018 film ‘Christopher Robin’ with an almost obsessive frequency, and weeping every time. This could in part be down to the pure Englishness, seeing something as familiar as grey and rainy London is overwhelmingly comforting. But really it’s for the characters. The inhabitants of the one hundred acre wood have been my friends for as long as I can remember. When we were very young my sister got a toy Eeyore for Christmas and I was so wildly jealous that my gran had to buy me my own. Eeyore has been my favourite Disney character all my life. With Roo following up very close behind, after purchasing my Roo on a cotton candy high at Disney World Orlando, and him and my raggedy Eeyore have been on every adventure with me ever since. There is something so loveable about Eeyore’s grumpiness and Roo’s childish enthusiasm, about Piglets’s fearfulness and Pooh’s silliness. Returning to these characters is like being enveloped in a warm hug. Like all Winnie the Pooh stories, it is simple and silly but it’s full of joy and watching it is probably the best kind of cheering up I could have asked for. Each time it reminds me that even the smallest thing can be the biggest adventure. The ordinary can become extraordinary. And happiness can be found in the smallest and most mundane of moments.

Rationally all of this makes sense. I suppose being in a new environment so entirely different from what I know and without friends or family, when everything in the world is just a little bit wrong right now, that longing for the old and familiar is inevitable. That the things which I’ve loved so much, but put to the back of my mind, have come to the forefront dusting off the cobwebs and become such integral parts of keeping me sane.

And I guess this is ok. It’s ok to not be productive. It’s ok to say my head is flipping just as much as the world is right now. And it is definitely 100% ok to take comfort in whatever makes you happy be that Disney films, old music, childhood books, or even bread making if that’s your thing! So it may be sunny outside and there may be 100 things I could be doing but honestly, you’re probably going to find me curled up under a blanket watching the Lizzie McGuire movie or re reading a Harry Potter for the millionth time, or returning to the hundred acre wood yet again.

There are so many articles touting advice and giving suggestions of what to do during this lockdown period, but I have no advice for you or suggestions and definitely not explanations. This is really just a post about nothingness, which is to be honest most of our lives right now. Just know that if you’re feeling down, or trapped, if you’re returning to childhood comforts or dreaming of long missed friends it’s ok. Nothing else is normal right now so why should your head be, but you’re not alone I’m right there too and so I’m guessing is most of the world.


Isolation Station week two… let’s talk Lord of the Rings

I have been waiting for the perfect time to wax lyrical about this and finally I have an excuse in the guise of a suggestion, if like everyone else you’re losing your mind in isolation. If you have never seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy before, aka the best films ever made, firstly where have you been? secondly this is the perfect time to discover their beauty. And if you have already seen them, then you’ll obviously be as in love as I am, and therefore it’s the perfect to revisit!

Let’s start with the basic reason number one, that if you watch the extended editions, you’re going to fill a good twelve hours of isolation. (And you could go even further and follow it up with the three hobbit films, looks like we’ll probably have enough time. Personally I’m not a fan, whilst I do love Legolas and a nice little love story I wasn’t particularly happy with them being shoehorned into the Hobbit, a perfectly good adventure story without any additions needed. If you ask me Peter Jackson should have just made one very good Hobbit film instead of three ok but not great padded out movies. But that is a whole other thing I’m not going to get into now.) Aside from their length there’s a whole lot to love about this trilogy of films. I fully believe they had a good hand in making me who I am today, and even though Harry Potter will always have a special place in my heart it is Tolkien’s magical fantasy world that draws me in time and time again. They are quite simply, my favourite films of all time and let me tell you why…

Part of my love for these films is a nostalgia factor. Whilst my Grandad gave me the first Harry Potter book and my mum gave me Enid Blyton and the Bronte sisters and Austen, my Dad gave me Lord of the Rings. It started on one of those blurry days between Christmas and New Year, with my Dad announcing at dinner, that the two of us were going to go watch The Fellowship of the Ring the next day. I had read the Hobbit over the summer whilst we were on holiday in the Italian mountains, and such a big impact it had on me that when I think of that holiday I always think of hobbits wandering around rural Tuscany. So my Dad was convinced I would love this film.

We drove to an old fashioned cinema, as the closest was fully booked, my dad bought wine gums as snacks and there was an interval when they sold ice cream. I was eleven and going to the cinema was a rare treat at that time, we really only had been on birthdays or when we were staying at my grandparents, and only so far to see Disney films or, just a few weeks previously the much anticipated Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. This film was something else though, it was dark and it was fantastic and even though the dark riders scared me shitless I fell in love with the mythical land and beings. The next year we went to the art house cinema to watch the Two Towers and then the following year the multiplex cinema by my grandparent’s to watch the epic conclusion, The Return of the King. And I for the first time ever (although there has been hundreds of times since) found myself crying in a cinema. So invested was I in these characters and their journey and so overwhelming was it when finally the darkness of Mordor was defeated that I couldn’t stop my tears. Turns out my Dad was completely right I did love these films.

These were the films I grew up on. Orlando Bloom, as beautiful blonde Legolas became my first celebrity crush. I even asked my parents for a poster of Legolas for Christmas, and it wasn’t taken down from the back of my bedroom door until we sold the house when I was 24. They founded my overwhelming desire to go to New Zealand and explore the stunning settings, as well as my complete and utter love of adventure. The hours I spent watching the behind the scenes footage on the DVD fuelled my day dreams of becoming an actress and my desire to create something special and lasting. And these were the films I would turn to whenever I was upset and wanted an escape. Which let’s be honest we could all use right about now.

Tolkien created such a magical fantastical world and Peter Jackson so wonderfully brings this alive on the screen. It is such a visual delight with epic battle scenes and sweeping scenery shots. Jackson captured every minute detail of Middle Earth, and I wanted to fall right into it, still do actually.

There is everything here that you could possibly want from an adventure movie, of course awesome battle scenes but also quieter more emotional moments as the characters struggle with themselves and the tasks facing them. There is humour, time for dancing hobbits, drunk dwarves and talking trees and there is romance and bravery, and above all there is friendship. Elves, dwarves and men overcoming their differences to fight together and becoming the best of friends along the way. And hobbits being there for each other, following their friends into the most dangerous of adventures because they need each other, and most importantly because they love each other.

I defy you to not adore hobbits. The purest of all creatures, these little people whose idyllic lives revolve around eating and partying and drinking at the Green Dragon, occupy a special place in my heart. Being on the short side, I’ve always felt an affinity with the hobbits and their love of a good beer at a good pub. And whilst I might complain about being nicknamed variations of Frodo or Baggins by my friends, as nicknames go it’s pretty damn good. Because Frodo was a hero, the most unlikely of heroes but a hero none the less. Who would have thought that a little hobbit could save the world? I learnt so much from these characters their love and bravery and loyalty, and the way they go on fighting even when they think all hope is lost, because as Sam so wonderfully says “there’s some good in this world Mr Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”

This is storytelling at its finest, the quintessential tale of good versus evil. And isn’t that just what we need right now, a reminder that good will win out and the darkness will end. We may not be in the midst of a war fighting Sauron but times are a little scary right now, and we are all struggling with the overwhelming changes in everyday life. Frodo’s wishing “it need not have happened in my time” has never been more relatable, but as Gandalf replies (with my favourite of all quotes) “so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for us to decide. All we have to do is to decide what to do with the time that is given to us.”

And that is really all we can do,whether we use the time to learn something new, to make something, to reconnect with people or just to chill out. All we can do is decide how to use this time to be as happy as we can be in the circumstances. And my suggestion of what to do with this time… get acquainted (or reacquainted) with Middle Earth! Pull up a seat (a comfy one) and get lost in this most magic of all fantasy lands. If we can’t go outside for an adventure we might as well get our fix on the screen. And I hope for a little while it’ll help you forget that the world is a different darker place at the moment, and that in escaping to Middle Earth for a short while will give you as much comfort and joy as it gives me.