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A Weekend in Byron Bay

12th August 2016

IMG_6458 We had some important tasks to complete last week. We needed to try out our new Gopro. Yep, see I told you it was important. We decided that the only way to do this was to take a road trip so we hit the road and headed South. If you come to Australia and you are searching for crystal white beaches and pure azure waters then look no further than Byron Bay. It helps that Byron Bay is in New South Wales. As Old South Walians we wanted to see what it had to offer.

IMG_6483 springbrook We set off from Brisbane and drove to Coolengatta where our hotel was. This little area  lies on the border of two states; New South Wales and Queensland. It literally does . To get to our hotel we had to zig-zag over the border a few times. We didn’t do much on the first day other than hop along the coast and eat delicious food. We squeezed in a trip to Springbrook , which is an impressive mountain range that I’d recommend. From here you can see Mt Warning (which for the geeky ones of you is the setting of the animated film Fern Gully). We also ‘happened’ to stumble upon the Springbrook fudge shop and tried all they had to offer. It was divine. If Lee, the fudge connoisseur was impressed you know it was good.

IMG_6481 That night we stayed in Coolengatta and ate at the number one burger restaurant in Queensland called Ze Pickle. It was much fancier than expected. It had a classy bar vibe, which did worry me. I’m used to the good burger places looking slightly more down to earth and greasy, but I was pleasantly surprised. The ‘Kanye Cheese Sticks’ burger won me over, and not just for it’s South Park reference name, but for it’s layers of deliciousness . If you are in the Gold Coast and like juicy burgers I’d give it a whirl.

The next day we headed to Byron Bay. We were both blow away by the breath taking views. It seems like Hawaii to me. I’ve never been there so I suppose this is based purely on episodes of Lost and Lilo and Stitch , but still I think that’s solid research, right? The place was stupidly busy so sights like the lighthouse were impossible to see. We would have been upset ,but the views we saw on the drive up to the lighthouse were worth queuing in, even if we didn’t get to go in the lighthouse itself.

IMG_6433 IMG_6482 We headed home after our trip to the beaches,  but squeezed in one more stop to Mynion falls.  Unfortunately we were knackered and still needed to get home for work the next day so we didn’t get to do the trek to the falls, but we did get to go to the look-outs and see the falls themselves. Lee saw them too , just from very far back on the viewing platform because although he’s the tallest man I know, he’s very scared of heights.

IMG_6510 Overall it was a fantastic two days. We got to see forests, jungle, mountains, waterfalls and beaches. It is such a beautiful place here in Australia with every type of terrain. We still haven’t quite got our heads around how pretty this place is , even after a year. We’ve liked it so much that we’ve decided to stay a bit longer.

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Before Turning 30.

11th July 2016

dock One of my favourite things to do on this blog is to recap the year on my birthday and see what I’ve been up to. I am 30 now after all and my memory is not what it used to be. I started doing this on my old little blog Doodlezilla when I was turning 27. I find that it is a great way to look back and appreciate the time that has past and kick my buttocks into doing more things.So here are all the adventures I managed to squeeze into my year of being 29*:

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Worried about being old? Dye your hair purple!

Worried about being old? Dye your hair purple!

  • My sister got a tattoo and turned 18 (WHAT?!?)
  • My mum joined twitter
  • Lee got a great job in Brisbane
  • Lee’s brother came to visit us in Oz

 

It’s been an amazing year. But there were sad moments. We lost my Great Aunty Pat this year. She was an incredible lady that raised my mum. I thought of her more as my grandmother than an aunt and it was really hard to be away from home. I wanted to just run home but money wouldn’t allow it. It broke my heart because I had carried her last letter to me all around Asia and I’d sent her a postcard from every location we’d been to .It made me happy to know she’d read them but also …it hurt so much. Life is full of ups and downs. I know these lists make it sound like it’s perfect but it’s far from it. Most of the year is boring days and a lot of bad ones too, but when I look back I only see those happy moments….even losing my Aunty, which hurt so much, makes me think about how beautiful a person she was and all the things I would be telling her now about my year.

Every time I think I’ve met the best the world has to offer, seen the best things, tasted the most delicious foods, I’m struck down once more by all of the awe inspiring things this little blue dot has to offer.   I don’t know how it’s possible, but life always finds a way to be more pretty and the people I know become more spectacular.

Thank you 29 for being filled with beautiful, lovely and delicious moments xxx

*I would like to point out that I wrote ‘my 29th year’ in this post. Lee pointed out that I had just lived my 30th year. What a Bumface he is. Boo!!! He’s lucky he’s cute.

 

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Turning 30

12th June 2016

Untitled-1 Yesterday I turned 30. The big 3-0. People always get excited when you tell them you are turning 30. People know it’s this big age. The age that symbolises the transition from your ‘lets get crazy and drink tequila’ phase to the ‘let’s get crazy and drink champagne’ phase. In fact when I talk about being 30, I call it the ‘Champagne years’. This is because there are so many events in your 30’s that require bubbles. Weddings, babies being born….Tuesdays. It all requires a celebration.

I wasn’t really sure how I felt about leaving my twenties. I knew I should be stressed, but I was just excited to have an excuse to go dancing and eat cake. Then I fell asleep the eve before my birthday and my dreams told me I was actually a panicked mess. I had horrible nightmares all night. Anxiety filled dreams where I couldn’t find all the people I loved. The dream felt like it went on forever and I couldn’t wake myself up. When I finally escaped my nightmares I woke up a little shocked at myself. Was I secretly terrified of becoming 30 ? Still in my morning daze I started to wonder a million thoughts. Panic started to consume me. Was I getting so old? Where had life run to? And then I walked out of the bedroom to find my Mr .

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The Mr did good with this amazing gift

IMG_6216 IMG_6217 Just seeing his happy face would have been enough, but the sun was also shining and my mum and best friend had sent me beautiful messages to wake up to. All of a sudden the worries felt silly. I had gotten worked up all night for nothing. Time is terrifying to dwell on. There is a fantastic quote from Richard Dawkins who talks about how there are a million eggs in the world that never turned into people, actually billions. Incredible scientists that never got born, artists that never existed and yet I get to be here. Being normal. Do you know how lucky that is? To just have the chance to be here?

From then on rest of the day was a blur of shenanigans. I went to a friend’s house and chatted with lots of lovely ladies while making terrarium (something I didn’t even know existed a few months ago) .Everyone chatted about the birthday night out we’d had on Friday that involved hours of Karaoke and dancing. I came home to find our home transformed. Lee had painted our old tatty cupboard to look brand new, cleaned everything and covered the place in balloons. He had also, with his brother made the biggest cake I’ve ever seen.  We ended the day with a boat ride to the city and a lovely meal. I finally had a chance to sit and look at my phone after the long day and there was messages from all my friends around the world. I lay in bed and I couldn’t believe that I’d been worried or upset the night before. People are incredible creatures. Their capacity for love will always astound me. I’m so lucky to know so many kind and thoughtful faces. A lot of which I’ve only met in the last 3 years. So can you imagine how many more incredible people there are to meet?

DSC_0397 I heard a quote this week:

Life isn’t short, it’s as long as you make it.

(Unfortunately I’m not sure who said this but it’s beautiful).

I was overwhelmed that day by the love and support I found from all my friends and family. Especially the new ones who helped make the day so special here in Oz. These people didn’t know Lee and I a few months ago, but they have invited us into their lives and it has made living here easy.

Worried about being old? Dye your hair purple!

Worried about being old? Dye your hair purple!

I may be getting older, but I’m also getting luckier. I hope the next ten years of my thirties are as full of laughter and fun as my 20’s.

Old friends have still stuck around....and it's their turn to join the 30 club soon x

Old friends have still stuck around….and it’s their turn to join the 30 club soon x

Thank you to everyone who made it special xxxx

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Things To Do In Brisbane

27th February 2016

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When we arrived in Australia we had no idea what was going on. We had no jobs, no home and no bloody clue about anything that was going on….at least they speak English here though.

Almost 9 months later and we are happy to say that Australia was definitely the right choice for us. So much so that when we got offended the opportunity of staying in Australia for a while longer, we jumped at the chance.

So it seems long over due that we would make a Brisbane bucket list. Here are a few things we are excited to get around to while we are in the sunshine capital of Australia.

 

. Hold a Koala at Lone Pine Zoo – We did this..her name was Tinkerbell and I wanted to steal her. 12122577_10153152951543388_6627074604296737826_n

. See a Kangaroo – We did this at Lone Pine Zoo too and it was fantastic. ROO’s and KANGA’s as far as the eye could see.

.Go to Fraser Island – The reason I was excited to move to Australia was when I saw some friends pictures of Fraser Island. I can’t wait to go.

.Go Whale Watching – We did this and loved it. The Whales jumped around like crazy. I felt like we were meeting a celebrity. 12747617_846100285512104_1553819085_n

.Go to Moreton Island – This beautiful island has shipwrecks off the beach, perfect for scuba diving (if I wasn’t terrified of sharks).

. Eat Korean food in Fortitude Valley – I do this most weeks since I work in the Valley. I’d recommend the singing rooms too. NOREABANG!! 887544_10153184146053388_4507646595431289051_o

.Go on the XXXX beer tour – People from Brisbane mock me for wanting to do this traditional tourist thing. This only makes me want to do it more.

.Take a boat trip down the Brisbane river – We get to do this quite a lot because our house is near the river. It’s insane to take a boat home and it be a normal thing. whalewatching_12

. Go to Eat Street Markets We have just moved into a new flat that is a stones throw away from these beautiful markets. I’m not going to say that we moved there just for the incredible food but ….that would be a lie. 12039127_10153132344788388_5032742197605760957_o

.Watch some cricket at the Gabba – Lee is a massive cricket fan so we have arrived in the right country. I have loved learning about it over the years. Having an excuse to sit in the sunshine and drink beer is also good.

.Visit Kangaroo point – Kangaroo point is a really pretty park area looking out to the Story Bridge. A perfect picnic spot.

.Go inside the town hall – The town hall is a beautiful building in the center of the city . I’d like the excuse to see more of it.

.Visit the top of Mount Coot-tra – This big mountain is said to have some of the best views of the city. I’m excited to see if it’s true.

.Watch Brisbane RiverFire (a fireworks display) – We saw the River Fire display from over the tops of skyscrapers on our first few days in Brisbane and had no idea what was going on. This time i’ll force Lee to have front row seats. 12407654_1542039636106290_1013615708_n

.Climb the Story Bridge – The Story Bridge was a little disappointing if I’m honest. After seeing the huge Harbour bridge in Sydney I thought that the Story Bridge would be similar but its very small in comparison. BUT Lee hates heights to scaling this bridge first will be a good first step. …Also , just so no Brisbanites hunt me down and bitch slap me…the Story Bridge has become a favourite of mine now. The big fairy lights are perfect.

.Go to a ‘Drive in’ cinema – We did this recently and although it was really busy and we couldn’t see much…I LOVED IT!!! I’ve definitely grown up with too many American films.

.Visit Woolloongabba Antiques Centre. – This is probably because I’m moving into a new house but I want so many pretty things for the new flat (or to just stare at them and dream about them).

.Visit Westend – I get told off for calling it ‘The’ Westend. Here it is just ‘Westend’. It’s full of lots of shops and lovely restaurants. I need to eat all the foods.

.Visit Paddington – This is meant to be a cool area.

.Visit Merthyr – Just to see how it compares to the Welsh town.

.Visit Simpsons Falls – Massive waterfalls and jungle only 20mins away? Yes please!

. See the Gold Coast. Massive skyscrapers on the beach? This needs to be viewed. whalewatching_10

. Visit the Sunshine coast. White sanded empty beaches as far as the eye can see. We did do this already but I don’t think there is a limit on visiting this place.

. Go for dinner at ‘La Dolce Vita’ – Only because there is a Eiffel tower above a restaurant with an Italian name…and that’s too weird to miss.

.Spend a weekend on Straddie island – It’s only an hour away and looks like paradise.

 

Just writing that list has me excited for doing things. We are in full on ‘moving in’ panic mode so this list is making me feel human again. Bring on the pretty views, awful unhealthy food , and sunshine.

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Whale Watching at Hervey Bay

21st February 2016

 

One of my first memories as a child was walking into the National History Museum in London, looking up and seeing the giant statue of the blue whale that use to hang from the roof. When I looked up with my tiny eyes it was all that occupied my vision and I was enthralled. In fact, remember when Pinocchio  gets eaten by the whale? Most people were terrified of this as kids. I on the other hand thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. I use to sit cross legged in front of the TV thinking ‘lucky puppet’.

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As i’ve got older and become enamored with all animals , whales have always been on the list of ‘things to see’. But as is the case with all animal experiences…there had to be strict rules:

. They have to be in the wild

. The company must be safe and environmentally friendly

Luckily in Australia it’s quite easy to find a whale watching company that fits the bill. We arrived in Brisbane with only three weeks left of the whale season (the whale season in Queensland is August to October) so we set off as soon as we could, crossed our fingers and hoped we’d spot the incredible creature that is the humpback whale.

The humpback whales stop off here for a few months before heading to colder climates, normally with lots of mini humpbacks in tow. In fact it’s thought up to 7,000 whales can be here at any one time during the season.

We decided on Hervey Bay since it is always listed as ‘the number one spot in Queensland to spot whales’ on every blog we searched. Hervey Bay is about 3 hours outside of Brisbane so we hired a car for the day and took the beautiful drive to the bay. whalewatching_13

whalewatching_12  Hervery Bay is beautiful ! The drive from Brisbane takes you past mountains, the bush and signs hinting that Koala’s are near. The bay itself has the bluest seas, a lovely harbor and as you are sailing you go past white sandy beach islands that look like every postcard you’ve ever been sent by boasting friends. All of this is before you even see a whale.

whalewatching_09 We used the Quick Cat 2 boat , which you can book here. The company was one of the first to set out on the high seas to see these animals and they were great. We left on time, there was plenty of room, they gave us facts about the animals and area and even provided lots of snacks and drinks.

whalewatching_11 If I’m honest I held no hope that we would even see a whale . There was 2 days left of the season when we stepped on the boat and our hopes had been lowered by the staff. If we hadn’t seen one on the trip we’d have been given a free trip by the company so I wasn’t too worried, but I was sending well wishes to all the Nordic gods that we’d see the fins of some creatures of the deep.

An hour into the journey we’d still not glimpsed a fin when suddenly as if from no where a large mother and her calf appeared along side the boat. We could just see the sheen of her back as she arched back into the ocean , but it was thrilling. We saw her little calf beside her and it was so strange to be that close to a creature that had chosen to come and see what this boat in the ocean was.  Lee and I lost our minds!

whalewatching_01 We only had a few minutes to stare in wonder before we noticed in the distance a huge cloud of water. We raced across the water and got lucky enough to see a male whale displaying his powerful skills. He jumped out doing barrel rolls and dives for about 15 minutes. Even our guide was in shock . Unfortunately I was so enthralled by the show that I didn’t have my camera out. I was a little too obsessed with seeing it with my own eyeballs.

whalewatching_04 whalewatching_05 whalewatching_03 We got to see another handful of whales showing off as the day went on, which meant I got to capture a few token shots (phew) and even got a surprise visit from an angry lethal sea snake that wanted us dead. Luckily the boat was very high so we didn’t have to actually meet the most deadliest snake on the planet (the olive sea snake – in-case you were wondering) . whalewatching_07

The day went so quickly and our faces hurt from smiling. I would recommend it to anyone. I think we will definitely be doing it again. Lee’s mission is to see a Blue Whale and I’d love to see Orca’s in the wild so once again ‘whale watching’ has not been knocked off the bucket list…it’s just been crossed off and added back to the bottom of the list. whalewatching_06 whalewatching_02 whalewatching_08

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The 28th of December

23rd January 2016

*Note to readers…this is a very late post that I wrote while on the 28th of December. It still felt relevant because January has the special gift of feeling a bit dreary at times. I hope you enjoy.

 

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According to experts*, the 28th of December is apparently the most depressing day of the year. I couldn’t disagree with that statement more. Yes, the turkeys been eaten, the presents have been given out and work is looming but we all know everyone is secretly still wearing Christmas socks.
Then again I am technically still on holiday and excited to see all the UK has to offer so maybe I’m not the best judge.

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I am currently heading to Bournemouth from Wales on the train. It’s a trip I’ve made countless time in the past to visit one of my best friends. But today it feels different.
Ever since arriving back on British soil I have been the world’s biggest tourist. I’ve taken photos of quaint looking stone buildings, giggled at people’s beautiful accents and fallen in love with this country all over again. I’ve even loved the weather, which is saying something.
There is a beauty to the UK that you don’t find anywhere else. People are friendlier and inquisitive. The country is in a constant rally to get through the drizzle and a cup of tea is never far away.  I may have been away too long but coming home this holiday has been an eye opener. I never thought I’d want to settle back home but staring out of the train window at the rolling green fields and the cream brick terrace houses makes me yern to come home for good.
It does help you love a country when every day you see people from your past and laugh until you cry.I live in a small town and it feels like every street has a story from my childhood. Every road I pass has a forgotten game played on it, certain corners are first kisses and every road feels like home.
I love Australia and I can’t wait for future adventures , perhaps in Canada or New Zealand , but boy do I love my green green grass of home.

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* In this scenario the experts is referring to the radio telling me this is a fact.

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Australia – A Re-Cap

16th January 2016

header Well you might have already guessed from our instagram feed, but we are no longer on our grand tour of Asia.

It took us 3 months and 17 days but a few months ago (quite a few months ago now) we arrived in the merry old land of Oz. We were ready to see some Kangaroo’s, put another shrimp on the barbie and many other stereotypical things that i’ve learnt from watching too much Neighbours and having a affinity with The Simpsons episode  where they go to Australia.

Here is a little glimpse of our last few months trekking on a new continent.

Perth & Fremantle

australia11 australia10 Our first stop was Western Australia. Partly because it is the closest part of Australia to Asia and partly because we really wanted to see one of Lee’s best friends. Mo moved to Perth a few years ago and he, his beautiful girlfriend and their adorable dog , made the crazy mistake of letting us use their spare room for a while. Jobs were harder to find than expected but it didn’t take the shine away from our beautiful surroundings.

We were actually living in a small town connected to Perth called Fremantle – or in the traditional Australian way of adding an ‘O’ to the end of all words – Freo. We learnt (and Lee fell in love with ) AFL or the Aussie Rules Football League. I found a job in a craft beer bar and had a wail of a time serving pints and throwing together cocktails with a great bunch of people. They introduced me to a ‘Boilermaker’ and my liver will never be the same again*.  We saw fantastic sunsets and ate so much good food. Our last few days in WA (Western Australia) were spent in Margaret River, which is lovingly known as Wine Country to the locals. I managed to take a trip to wine country while I was suffering the mother of all hangovers . Not the way i’d recommend seeing the place but if it’s pretty when you are carrying a carrier bag ‘just in case’ around with you, then you know it’s got to be good.

australia9 australia13 There is a lot of things we didn’t get to do while we were in WA – mainly due to lack of funds so we will need to go back.   As if seeing Mo, Paula, Diego (the not so tea cup chiuaua) weren’t reason enough to go back , we didn’t get to make it to Rottnest island and see a Quokka (look at their lovely faces here) . But we aren’t too sad. It’s always good to have a reason to go back.

*I will explain what a ‘Boilermaker’ is in other posts but right now the memory is still too clear…urrrr my poor liver.

 

Melbourne

australia6 We didn’t think we would be able to see more of Australia so soon but  I luckily got a job offer at an animation company in Brisbane that was too good to pass up. We decided that instead of flying directly to Brisbane we would take the long route. Our next stop on our whistle stop tour of Australia became Melbourne.

How can you describe Melbourne? I read countless times that it was ‘liveable’ and had no idea what this meant…until we arrived there that was. It is a bustling, fun , delicious and just beautiful.

australia5 We scaled the Eureka building, ate till our bellies were bursting in China town and Lee got to fulfill a life long ambition and go to Melbourne Cricket Ground where we had a fantastic tour and learnt a lot. I’d recommend it to everyone, even if like me you are clueless about cricket.  For me the most important part of the trip was getting to see my favourite band ‘Post Modern Jukebox’ perform. You can see them here…I recommend watching allllll their videos. Seeing them perform was the only reason that our elaborate journey to Brisbane had such a long stop over in Melbourne. Boy are we glad we had the excuse. We can’t wait to go back.

It’s cheesy but i’d recommend the free tourist tram that travels around the centre of the city. Nice views, good information and you can rest your tootsies. australia4 australia8 australia7

Sydney and Manley Bay

australia18 Sydney is of course AMAZING! I felt like I was walking into every story I’d ever heard my mum tell of her childhood. My mum and her three sisters and two brothers moved to Australia when see was just five. It has been one of the reasons i’ve always wanted to see this country. It hasn’t disappointed yet.

We saw bustling Bondi,  the iconic Harbour Bridge , the even more iconic Sydney Opera House and enjoyed every moment of it. We stumbled upon a German beer house and had our fill of German beer. It wasn’t very Australian but we’ve managed to find a German spot in most cities so it felt almost rude not to. There is nothing quite as fun as watching Lee in a German beer bar. He’s like a kid in a candy store – but more drunk.

australia17 australia16 Our favourite part of our trip to Sydney was a day trip to Manly, We assumed that people had suggested this trip for the boat ride that takes you past all the major sights of Sydney so we were both a little taken aback when we arrived on Manly to discover a paradise hidden among the city. Beaches, harbors, blue seas and even a wild cockatoo. We spent the day fantasizing about living on this little piece of heaven. I finally, after years of Lee up-selling this country to me,  understood the pull of Australia and the hold it has on people. I never really thought that I’d be someone who would fall for this country but i’ve fallen hard.

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Brisbane

australia15 Last but definitely not least is our little corner of the continent. We have made Queensland our home for the last few months and boy are we glad that we made the move over here. We have loved each part of Australia, but Brisbane feels like home to us now. We fluked a great little house that has a SPARE bedroom . For two ex-Londoners who couldn’t stretch their arms without touching both sides of the wall , it is bliss. We also have a garage that the optimists in us have turned into a mini gym….or as it should aptly be named ‘the dust farm’.

I am a massive nerd and love animation so I keep pinching myself that the company took a chance on a backpacking weirdo. I’m working my tukas off but it’s the first time in years that I’m excited for my job and at the same time I can’t wait to come home. It’s a weird feeling. Lee is working in a dungeon at a hospital converting horrible case files but I think he secretly likes the organisation of it all (this is the man who’s hobby is Excel after all :D) australia14

Brisbane is much more laid back than Sydney and Melbourne , as pretty as Perth and sunny 362 days a year. We have explored the Sunshine Coast and Hervey Bay where we saw humpback whales froliking in the surf but there is still so much more to see.  We did get treated to a visit from the incredible Kaleena , you may know here as the writer of this incredible blog. I know her as my ice cream partner in crime and America’s top sand castle builder.  It’s been a fun few months and although the idea of moving to a continent with no job and not a lot of money was a terrifying prospect. It has been worth every second. Everything’s coming up Millhouse! Fingers crossed 2016 holds a lot more in store.

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I’ll Be Home For Christmas

30th December 2015

Travel is an incredible thing. It’s the ability to expand your horizon & see things that your grand parents only read about in books. image
When I woke up this morning I was in Tokyo and when I go to sleep tonight I will be the other side of the globe and in the home I grew up in. From one of the busiest cities on the planet to my small little home town hidden away on a hilly valley.
Travel is exciting because it brings with it so many new experience but it can be a curse.
The curse of being away and living life means missing the people you love. Missing people vs. missing out can some times feel like an impossible struggle.
I do know how lucky we are though. I know that if we had wanted to move to Australia forty years ago we may have been on a boat for a month , we would have had to write long letters on blue travel paper that would maybe never reach it’s destination. Trying to communicate with people would have been as painful as pulling teeth (mainly for them because I can barely speak English- as you’ve seen from my writing here). All of this is before we start worrying about mastering a foreign language. image
With skype and sky scanner and Facebook and email, it’s as if you never really miss out completely. I don’t know how people use to do it. We are both in awe of those crazy ‘Magellan-esq’ loons.
Today’s adventure wasn’t our usual type of trip. The plane wasn’t taking me somewhere exotic or new. I wasn’t excited to lay on a pearly white sandy beach or giddy to stare at rainforests. I was ‘cheek hurtingly’ happy because I was going home.

It’s easy to forget sometimes how much you love where you came from. Travelers may moan about the weather or the locals but home is definitely where the heart is…and where the crumpets are. Oh and the Sunday dinners…oh and don’t forget all the delicious Cadburys.
Bridgend is a tiny town that most Welsh people don’t even know about but we love it there.It has made us adventurous, romantic and the curious wanderers that spend two hours queueing in customs and spending days locked in the toilet because you just had to have one of those *insert any crappy street food that you bought down an alley*.

image This Christmas I will be listening to my family play games while The Muppets Christmas Carol plays on TV for maybe the 50th time. We won’t have any presents to give because we are stupidly poor from the tear-jerking cost of our tickets but luckily I think I’m going home to a house full of people that won’t mind too much.
Travel can be incredible , it can be
tiring, thrilling and wonderous but traveling home will always be one of my favourite trips. It does help that I take my partner in crime and my little piece of home in human form along for the ride.

This Christmas I am happy to say that Lee and I are in rainy Wales, watching crappy TV and moaning to our families and you know what… I would change that for anything in all the world.

 

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Gili Meno – The Girl and The Sea

20th October 2015

gilimeno_04 Gili Meno is the smaller of the three Gili Isles so you’d assume it would be less developed, but you’d be wrong. Gili Meno has the feel of a rich persons playground, or at least a middle class persons sandbox. There are nicer bars, bigger shops and lovely hotels lining the main area of beach…and then there is nothing. This island feels like it’s about to be a crazy popular tourist destination, but right now it’s still peaceful and well stocked. I still prefer Gili Air , but I’m glad we went.

We basically repeated our first few days on Gili Air, but with a little more snorkeling and a lot more sleeping. Being lazy turns out to be hard work.

gilimeno_05 gilimeno_03 I don’t have photos of our snorkeling adventures (Go Pro, you will be mine). It mainly involved me having a panic attack the second I stepped in the water and climbing onto Lee as if I was Scooby Doo. He calmed me down and I soon got use to the tide and the current, which is very strong on the Gili’s. We also both had to master the art of walking on the sharpest rocks known to man. I swear that Gili Meno once had a boat filled with broken glass crash on it’s shore and now it’s coast is a challenge even John McClane would fear.

gilimeno_07 gilimeno_02 We persevered and managed to snorkel enough to see a casting session for Finding Nemo down there. Bruised, battered and bleeding from the coral I headed back to the comfort of my sun lounger, happy with my day’s sightings. I told Lee I was tired, but the truth is I was scared my tiny cut was chumming the water enough for all the worlds sharks to descend on me . While I was shading myself from the midday sun I looked out to see a flailing Lee in the water. I instantly assumed a herd of Jelly Fish were trying to get his lunch money and I started to panic. There was no one around so I had to wait like a nervous maiden in a Bronte novel as Lee came back to the beach.

A manic Lee finally made his way to me and started dragging me into the water…”come on, come and see”.

I instantly assumed he had Sea madness and fought him off.

“Why do I need to go in the sea?” I screamed, digging my heels into the sand.

This is the part in the story where Lee turned to me with a face filled with more excitement and glee than I’d ever witnessed and screamed “theresaturtleinthewater”. That, by the way, is not a spelling mistake. He definitely didn’t put a single breath or break in his joyful sentence.

We waded out into the late afternoon waves , which were swelling quite a lot and becoming quite scary. Lee tied his size 13 waterproof shoes tightly on to my tiny feet so that I didn’t lose a toe on the razor like coral and we swam out to the deep waters. This is where it all started to go wrong. Lee’s shoes got tangled on my feet and were getting pulled the wrong way by the current, Lee was swimming far ahead and my mask was leaking water into my eyes that contained more salt than the rim of a good margarita. Suddenly all the water around me turned freezing and I felt I was getting pulled down. Panicking comes natural to me anyway but at that moment even Woody Allen would have asked me to “geez lady, just calm down” (please read this sentence in Mr Allen’s voice for full effect).

Lee was too far away to help so as I got dragged down I had to compose myself and untangle the shoes with my eyes closed telling myself that as soon as it was fixed I could just swim to the surface. Unfortunately I was wrong and I was never seen again…. No , of course not otherwise you’d be luck enough to not be reading this drivel. I resurfaced , emptied and tightened my goggles and went back down into the water just in time to see a beautiful sea turtle swim past us and away into the very wide, very blue, very scary ocean. Lee and I were elated. We hadn’t expected to see one at all and felt very privileged to have been given the chance to see this fantastic animal in the wild. We left the water on a high, my high not only from the turtle sighting but from the exhilaration of remembering how to function like a normal human in the water and not let my anxiety take over. That sea be damned scary.

Over all the Gili’s completely shocked us. The coffee was foamy, the people nice , the cocktails plentiful and the views…spectacular. I am not going to lie to you, I am extremely happy that Australia happens to be within a long weekend distance of these small islands. See you soon Gili.

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Well deserved wine and a cut up leg.

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Gili Air – Who Knew Water Could Be That Blue?

18th October 2015

giliair_07 By the time we got to Gili Air we were 11 countries in. Before we even stepped onto our boat we felt ready to just get to Australia and start our next adventure. We couldn’t imagine prettier beaches that the Philippines or a more relaxing atmosphere than Koh Rong Samloem in Cambodia. We were a bit exhausted from travel and ready to never pack a bag again. Luckily we stuck with the plan and arrived on the beautiful Gili Air.

Gili Air is one of the three Gili islands in Lombok. It is wedged between the tiny island of Gili Meno and the large , very popular island of Gili T. We decided right away to skip Gili T for the same reasons we skipped Kuta Bali. We heard it was filled with young teenagers on gap years eating magic mushrooms and partying into the wee hours. We looooooove a good party. In fact my liver’s future health was probably the main factor in needing to leave Korea , but after all these months we just wanted to do nothing. Not ‘tours of the island, climing mountains’ kind of nothing but actual ‘lay on the beach for a disgusting amount of time’ type of nothing.

Gili Air was exactly what we had hoped for. No cars, no fuss…just pure beautiful laziness on sand.

giliair_04 giliair_01 Our only major issue with Gili Air was that we were as poor as poor can be by this time. We were counting the pennies (or as I like to call them, cocktail tokens). There was only one atm that was almost always out of money, and we were hoping to pay by card as much as possible. This lead to a lot of walking around the island, which you can do easily in an hour or two. Each morning we would find a beautiful beach bar, ask if they took card and get a few lost looks. When we would eventually find a bar that took card, they would get the pleasure of our company until the sun had long thrown in the towel. In one bar they had sun lounges on the beach and our days were filled with reading, snorkelling and spring rolls. Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in one bar was surprisingly liberating. They also obviously wou giliair_05 giliair_06 ld want to get rid of us and top up our cocktails with a little too much island liquor. We loved it.

We spent three days on our arses and I regret nothing. I did wonder how a holiday island would work that was mainly Muslim , but it was very respectful and surprisingly tolerant of Westerners skimpily clothed and drinking. This might sound naive to some people reading this, but after living in Saudi Arabia for a number of years it was a fantastic surprise. The call the prayer at 5am was actually quite soothing and reminded me of the early hours in Saudi where the songs would come floating through the house. If you are a light sleeper I’d make sure your hostel or hotel isn’t near the one main mosque on the island, but if like us you don’t check and are right next to it, it’s still easy to sleep. Coming from me this means a lot since the sound of an ant tickling its cousin could wake me.

giliair_08 giliair_09 giliair_10 After Gili Air we begrudgingly moved on to Gili Meno. We loved Gili Air so much that we couldn’t believe we were leaving it. Luckily we did because Gili Meno is just as lovely if not even quieter. ….but I’ll save that long winded tale for another time. Mainly because I want to throw more pictures of blue azure seas and random cocktails at your eye holes.

Happy Weekend Everyone. signature