Coming Home

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It started 4 weeks ago, a constant voice of “book your flight” and truth be told I had no idea what date I would actually book when I sat down to finally plan my return to London. Originally I had thought early October, then end of September, but when it came down to it, I knew I just wanted to be home. This time next week I’ll be in England, curled up in my favourite chair with a strong tea, and that thought makes me feel beyond calm. 

I’ve spent the past two months on a farm packing apples in a house share of thirty girls. We have two toilets, one is outside, and two showers. It’s cramped at the best of times and whilst I’ve met some absolute angels here, I’ve also met people who have taught me things that I didn’t quite expect. I had something, two things, stolen. One being my silver bracelet with HOPE written on it and one a black viscose tshirt that I bought from a Market in Bangkok. Whilst neither item had any particular value, when you do not own a lot of things it seems like the end of the world because what on earth will I wear with X, Y, or Z without my black tee staple? But then it hit me. I did not need these material items, I just liked them. At first I struggled to understand how someone could take from somebody who literally has nothing, but I take comfort in knowing that whoever took them needed them more than I did. 

Today is my last working week, on Friday I’m heading the Melbourne, ironically my least favourite place in Australia for my last two days. I booked a nice hotel and I’m literally going to chill and bathe myself in deep heat because packing has not been kind to my health. I couldn’t even begin to write what a whirlwind my time in Australia has been. I came out here without a plan, I just knew I was desperately unhappy in England but I could never pin point quite why. My happiness was based purely on fashion and to me now, that is very sad when the world has so much more to offer. 

When I get home I assume I’ll be temping in London whilst I try to find my feet on the career ladder, but around that I’d like to volunteer at the hospice which cared for my Nana and I’d like to travel the UK and Ireland. I want to see Scotland and stay in an isolated cosy log cabin in the wilderness. And I’d like to see Tuam (Galway, Ireland) where my family is from. And I’d like to go to Wales and scream at the rugby after one too many beers. There are so many experiences and things that I want to do before I settle and get a house with a mortgage, and tiny humans that rely on me. 

I don’t know what will happen over the coming months. I don’t know if I’ll stay in Kent when I’ve learned how easy it is to pick up and move your life wherever you want it to be. I am a risk taker, and at the end of the day, that is how you grow. 

Monday: A Month of Farm Life

Australia 2017, Uncategorized

Just checking in to say that yes I am still alive, and yes I’m loving life again. I ended up in Brisbane desperate for a job, any job. I rung my mum in tears on the high street with the intention of flying home in two days because I’m literally unemployable out here. I told my friend Kim my plan and went to the reception of our hostel to extend my stay for a few more days before I was going to book my flight. The lady on reception was taking ages and I mean I was stood for over ten minutes whilst the person in front of me in the queue asked every question under the sun. Eventually I lost my patience and headed back up to our room where I had a missed call from Kim. After two weeks of looking for a decent hourly paid farm job we’d found one! The timing was honestly uncanny and in that moment I knew I had to stay. I’m a great believer in what’s meant for you will not pass you by, and it was the sign I needed to stay.

The next day we flew from Brisbane to Melbourne before getting on the three hour train to Shepparton. It has now been a month and already I know I have made memories and friendships that I’ll never forget. Suddenly everything just clicks and it feels good. I’m contracted out to a different packing shed to the main one with fixed hours so I actually know when I’m coming home now which is amazing. My plan at the moment is to finish, fly to Sydney and spend three days there before finally flying back to London and starting my life all over again. 

I’m scared about coming home, really really scared and it sounds so silly but I haven’t lived in Kent for nearly six years. My friends are all over the UK and now, well, the world. Whilst I know I’ll be fine, it’s still going to weird trying to make friends as an adult which is ridiculous because I’ve done it every single day I’ve been in Australia. I think the first thing I’ll do when I get home is boil the kettle, have a proper English tea in my favourite cup in my favourite chair with my favourite book. I’m weirdly excited about it and it’s so nice to finally have an end goal. Then reality will probably hit me as I scramble for a job, which is something I’ve also been thinking about a lot and what path I want to take. I know I want a job that matters and that helps people. I want to be a policewoman, and that’s bizarre for me to say out loud because I always thought girls should have girly jobs. I was always a strange kid, I wanted to be an astronaut so I could be the first girl on Mars, then I wanted to be a firefighter, to join the army and then fashion took over my life. 

I lost myself for a while in materialistic things, I loved that my salary allowed me to buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I lost sight of what really matters in life. Living on a farm and dressing like absolute shite every day has taught me a lot about myself, including that you can go without showering for a lot longer than you thought possible and if it doesn’t smell you can definitely still wear it even on the fifth day. Packing fruit actually gives you so much time to think, like the work is easy but so repetitive that you just get lost in your thoughts. I’ve thought through so much and settled a lot of things in my mind.

I don’t know what will happen when I go home, but right now in the present moment, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long, long time. 

Liv on: The Art of Changing

Australia 2017, Thoughts on Thursday, Uncategorized

One day you’re on cloud nine, exploring all these amazing new places and seeing strange animals and sights, and the next day it loses the sparkle. I can’t quite tell you when I started to feel this way but its something that’s been playing on my mind a lot. When I was in Bangkok I was honestly a click away from changing my flight from Australia to the UK and I don’t know why but I didn’t. It was like a sudden feeling came over me, like I wasn’t ready to go home entirely. I always thought travelling would make me realise what I wanted to do as a career and I’d discover some unknown things about myself. I was disappointed to find that this wasn’t the case, at least not at that moment in time.

I guess the point is this, you never realise you’ve changed in the moment, it’s only weeks after the fact when you look back and realise that you’ve reacted differently than you would of when you were your past self. It’s hard to put into words the feeling, but it feels good, really good, when you don’t cry or act like the world is ending but rather react with a simple okay and a step back to analyse why something happened and how best to move forward. 

Yesterday I realised what I want to pursue as a career. Today I feel like I’m figuring out my life long plan and tomorrow I’m hoping I’ll have an answer for the present. At the moment I’m in an awkward kind of limbo between the UK and Australia. I literally cannot get a job anywhere and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because my hearts not in it, at least not right now. I feel like my heart is ready to come home, but my willpower is so strong and stubborn. I said I would do a year, maybe two, maybe four if I went to NZ for a while and I’m finding it hard to allow myself to let go. In my mind it’s a sort of giving up. It’s just so hard to think about how I could be progressing in the UK whilst I just exist in Australia. 

I really truly do not know what I’m going to do or if my decision will be the right one, but I guess what’s life without risks hey? I took the biggest gamble coming here, but if I hadn’t I would still be staring at lab dips and feeling indifferent over three identical shades of pink. I think we always end up where we are supposed to be, or at least I like to think that way as it makes me a little less apprehensive and more excited. All shall be revealed in time. 

Thoughts on Friday: A month in Thailand 

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Tomorrow I leave Thailand after a month of exploring. To be honest I don’t know what I expected when I boarded my flight from Melbourne to Bangkok, but it wasn’t what I’ve experienced. I’ve found myself in places and situations that I never really imagined could happen in Thailand and I’ve seen things that I never expected to see over here. It sounds silly, but I imagined Thailand to have pristine beaches and sand to envy even the beautiful beaches of Australia but was left bitterly, bitterly disappointed by the littered beaches across the mainland and all of the islands I visited. Whilst I know tourism undoubtably is the cause behind all of the litter, I wish 7/11 would stop giving you straws for everything. Yoghurt? You need a straw. Noodles? Straw. Tea? Straw. It’s insane and unnecessary and WHY are there never any bins anywhere? It’s very bizarre and something I can’t quite comprehend. Another thing I never expected was all of the pollution from the bikes – I had some insane vision in my head of all the stars I’d be able to see in the night sky and you know how many you can see here? Four. Four stars. 

Anyway disappointments aside, the absolute highlight for me has been Pai where I let go of all my negative energies (and negative people) whilst staring out the back of an open taxi completely in awe of the rolling hills and scenery, and in that instant I felt lighter. I found myself in the winding roads of Pai, in the bakeries and in the street food (where I accidentally had purple looking meat in a veggie spring roll and was ill for two days, but I digress). I would of loved to have spent longer here and I’d definitely revisit if I’m ever in Thailand again. Pai was the turning point for me, where I realised how much I’ve changed as a person since January because I had time to sit and reflect on so many things and met some wonderful people.

I won’t lie however, I am extremely excited to be back in Australia in an English speaking country with the ability to cook for myself. I’ve booked possibly the cheapest Aussie hostel I’ve ever stayed in for my return to Brisbane so I’m hoping it won’t be too disgusting – I’m excited to have my phone working again and ring round some temp agencies whilst trying to find farmwork with my friend Kim. I’m honestly so scared for the future and it’s hard not knowing where you will be in a few days, a week or a year, but I finally have a plan in place and I know what I want. I want to get my second year visa and have the option to come back to Australia in the new year after spending a few months at home to see my family and sit in my favourite chair, with my cats and with my favourite mug filled with strong tea. 

It’s weird but I find it really odd when I imagine going home. Like yes I would love to go home, of course I would, but I’m not done yet. I miss my family, having my own personal space, clothes(!), not having to budget like a mad woman and just feeling as though I have my life together. I am so bored of wearing the same sweaty t-shirts and asking everyone I meet their name and where they’ve been. It’s silly but it’s tiring. 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Chiang Mai 

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Welcome to Chiang Mai, a city north of Bangkok. Honestly I was way too scared to leave my hotel alone in Bangkok so Chiang Mai has been my first and only glimpse of Thailand. I was expecting shacks and run down buildings, no one to speak any English and technology to be few and far between. I’m pretty saddened that wifi is available pretty much everywhere, it’s actually easier to find internet access here than in Australia. The buildings are beautiful, too, with all the roads looking like a standard back street in pretty much any city. It’s so westernised that I don’t even feel like I’m abroad, which is sad. The locals all speak perfect English and are incredibly friendly, which is lovely but I feel so bad and too embarrassed to speak the basic Thai I’ve learnt. 

It is a beautiful city, but it’s changing. I would have loved to have visited maybe five years ago. Yesterday we met a lady who told us about an event that only happens once a year where the people of Chiang Mai walk to the temple the night before Big Buddha Day which is today. She encouraged us to go and we were all up for it until her friend said it starts at 6pm and you wouldn’t make it to the temple until 3am. I genuinely feel bad about not going, but I get tired even climbing to the third floor of our hostel so can you even imagine me on a 9 hour hike? Really?

The past two days we’ve spent exploring the old and new town, going to the night markets. Today we are doing a vegetarian cooking class which I’m so excited for because food is life, but to get there we are getting picked up by bike. Yes, bike – I’m scared but excited, the bikes here are insane. They drive like crazy over here and crossing the roads is an experience in itself. Tomorrow we’re heading to the waterpark which looks like Total Wipeout, you know, that TV programme you fantasised about going on as a kid. 

On Friday we head to Pai, via van for three hours which will be an experience. We’re staying at a circus school hostel and will be professional clowns in no time. 

Watch this space.

Liv on: Looking Ahead

Australia 2017, Tuesday

Ever since I hit Cairns on the East Coast I’ve felt stagnated, I couldn’t really get a proper job (even though I had a terrible brief time doing door to door sales hahaha) because I knew I would be leaving soon for Thailand. I fly in 4 days and I couldn’t be more excited, and not only because I’ll have a month to sit on the beach all day every day, but because when I return to Australia I can finally get a job and earn some dollars. I saved pretty hard to come out here, granted I never quite knew what I was saving for, but without fail every month I was putting away 300-500£. When I go home I want to have the same amount saved up so I won’t struggle and so the remaining 6 months of my visa will be work work work to regain my savings.

I think when I head back to England in December/January I’ll move up north, rent a cheap but cute house and live happily ever after. Part of me thinks I should explore the UK while I can, I’ve never been to Scotland or Ireland, which is a shame because they’re so close. Doing this trip solo has changed my view on the world endlessly, there are so many beautiful places just waiting to be explored. I used to spend weekends head first in a Dominos and in arms that didn’t love me, when I could of been going on spontaneous trips to somewhere that would make me feel more alive than a lazy Sunday in bed ever could. I think I want to take driving lessons when I get home (I have a full UK license but I’m an insanely nervous driver and just can’t) and then buy a camper van to explore the UK in.

I want to be doing a job I love with something that truly inspires me. I want to have goals that make me excited and motivated to succeed. I don’t have a clue what I’ll be doing a year, a month or even a week from now, but that’s what’s exciting about life. I used to hate spontaneity – random gifts and surprises would actually make me upset because I’ve always been a control freak. I still cringe over when he bought me speakers and I didn’t even know what to say except “I don’t want them”. Opps. I absolutely hated the idea of not being in charge, but now I realise that actually it’s so liberating and gives you a sense of freedom to just let go and see where life takes you. 

In Thailand Im not too sure what I’m doing or where I’m going. My best friend and I have our flight booked to Chiangmai the day she lands and a night in a hostel, but apart from that, nothing. Usually I’d be anxious to not have precise plans and dates, but it’s nice to have the freedom and the choice to explore anywhere, wherever and whenever you want. I feel like maybe travelling has turned me into a bit of a hippy, just a little bit, and I even own a rainbow tie dye dress – yes, me

C’est la vie, what will be will be. 


 

Liv on Tour: Melbourne > Adelaide > Melbourne

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Last Saturday I randomly stumbled into two girls I’d never met before who invited me on a road trip to Adelaide and back via The Great Ocean Road. Whilst this thought would of terrified me a few months back, I’ve learnt that with life comes spontaneous (sometimes mental) decisions and so there I was, in the back of the van with two total strangers camping in country campsites and waking up to the sound of kangaroos hopping. 

We started from Melbourne and made out way to the start of the B100, stopping off at various ‘tourist’ attractions along the way. The actual road was super short, I was slightly underwhelmed but the absolute highlight was at Kennet River where we watched a wild large koala move trees – it was so special to see as usually they tend to be little fluff balls up in the sky. It was also pretty cool to see the famous 12 Apostles, The Gibson Steps, London Bridge and a whole other bunch of rocks.

We camped at some beautiful spots, as someone who needs structure and to know exactly where I’m going and what I’m doing, I was surprised that it actually felt good to let go and never know where we would end up staying. Now I’m not going to lie, fitting three people in a camper van is absolute hell. Your limbs will ache from not being able to move, and you wake up with feet in your face and legs on your chest. But it’s all worth it, one night we were lucky enough to find a spot out in the sticks, I would tell you where but I honestly don’t have a clue, but you could see most of the Milky Way. In that moment I felt closer to home than I had in a very, very long time.

On day 5 we arrived in Adelaide which I personally think it beautiful in its own way. It reminds me of home and I guess that’s why I feel so comfortable there. But, that said, there’s not a whole lot to see there and I’m not too sure why the girls wanted to go there. I did my best to show them some of my favourite spots and we cooked up some dinners for the next days ahead. With an Eski full of great food, we set off to see the Grampians via Hahndorf. We stopped at The Lane Winery where you can taste 12 wines for $5(?!) but I got tea as I just really fancied it. We went to pay but they said it was free for us and to put it towards petrol. What a lad. 

Then we continued on our trip, heading towards The Grampians and seeing some wildlife. This was pretty disappointing if I’m honest, none of us are big hikers so the thought of climbing a mountain peak doesn’t appeal to me at all. We did all the usual tourist spots including The Balcony which is just as it sounds – tourists sit right on the end of a piece of rock sticking out thousands of feet above the forest. My stomach was literally churning as I watched a small Asian child climb to the end for a photo. It was horrific.

Then we were on our way to our campsite where the van broke down from a dead battery. We sat at an abandoned petrol station near Salt Creek (where the attempted murder of two backpackers had occurred the year previous). I flagged down a guy whilst waving our jump leads but he couldn’t locate the battery and of course, we had no idea. Luckily he was a contractor for mechanics and called one of his guys. We sat for what felt like an eternity, flinching at every sound of twigs snapping until the guy showed up an hour later. He was probably the cutest person ever. He jumped us, checked our oil (which was empty, opps) and told us we’d be safer waiting at the servo in Kingston SE for our breakdown cover. 

So we are sat waiting and get a knock on the window – he’d bought us two bottles of oil for free and wouldn’t take any money off us or anything (he was literally the kindest human ever and super cute, wish I’d gotten his number hahaha fml). He left his jump leads in the van, I assume to have an excuse to come get them after he’d done his food shopping in the main town, but alas it wasn’t to be and we along with his leads ended up camping in a creepy car service station that our breakdown cover lead us to. 

The next day we drove straight back to Melbourne which was pretty boring as by this point I think we all needed our own space (and a shower!) Am I glad I went? Yes absolutely, I never would of seen myself camping, not washing my hair for four days, and sharing a van with a huge spider. I like to think that anything that’s meant for you shall not pass you by – I was sick of living in the city and needed an adventure. 

Now I’m in St Kilda and today I went in a hippy shop and pulled out a guidance card which said “keep quiet and be still” so I sat by the sea for what felt like an eternity, and man, did I miss my own company. 

Now the countdown to Thailand with my favourite person can truly begin! 

Thoughts on Thursday

Australia 2017, Thoughts on Thursday

Honestly the thing I dislike the most about travelling is the loneliness that surrounds you. I’ve found myself silently crying into dirty hostel pillows, crying as I walk home, crying just about everywhere – because being half way across the world from people you love only intensifies that feeling of isolation. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about people I really shouldn’t miss, people who made me feel like I was an option and not a choice. I am enough and I have always been enough, but for some (most) I am too much. I’m head strong, stubborn as hell and always want to get my own way. Yes, I’m that girl.

Knowing that a lot of people in the U.K. are just waiting for me to admit that I can’t cope with staying out here a year only encourages me to stay and to push myself beyond the realms of what I once thought was possible. The thought of going home, back to the routine I had makes me feel sick. I remember the breaking point for me, wanting you and only you – walking to work in the rain in tears the next day like a scene from a melodramatic teen movie – before attending my last ‘important’ meeting and being patronised over how great I was at cutting out paper stars like I was a child in my first year of primary school. The next day I handed in my notice, I found a replacement housemate and I fled.

It is so incredibly easy to idolise the life you had at home when you’re on the road, especially when you find yourself in situations that often make you uncomfortable or a little less than glamorous. However it’s important to remember your drive; the spark that lit the fire inside you to risk it all and throw yourself into the wind. Homesickness is honestly inevitable, it’s how you handle it which really matters. I haven’t been the best example of this, complaining about missing X, Y or Z whilst on a beautiful beach in surreal surroundings. Here’s to coping better with the distance and letting go of things not meant for me.

Also I can finally announce what I’ve been keeping a secret for months (and months and months AND months) – my best friend is joining me in Thailand before flying back with me to Melbourne, where we hope to find work, a houseshare and all those little things that make a city feel like home. I am super excited to have someone to share this journey with, and as I always knew she’d be joining me, it made my down days a little less dark. The sun is rising.

With glittering eyes and a heart full of love, I will overcome.

110 Days

Australia 2017

When I left my job 110 days ago, I never knew how my little spontaneous decision to move across the world would turn out. It was never my dream to travel, I was terrified of flying, heights and pretty much everything inbetween. The past two and a half months have pushed me to my limits and made me go completely out of my comfort zone because I’ve had no other choice. That is the great thing with solo travel, though admittedly lonely as hell at times, it also brings out the voice in you that you never even knew you had.

When I left Reading I have never cried so hard; to be leaving some of the best friends I’ve ever had, our cosy little house, the first boy I’ve ever really liked, a job which was secure and safe… It was absolutely horrible driving away from it and I was never really sure if anything would make me as happy again. Today I left my little east coast adventure behind me and felt a little weird. I was sat on the plane thinking about all of the amazing things I’ve seen and done in such a short space of time. All I could think about was how happy I was in that moment, thousands of feet from the ground and feeling on top of the world. That’s when I realised – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to a normal life in England. And to think that some people will never venture further than the stationary cupboard genuinely depresses me. 

Yes, I have never been so poor in my life – I have absolutely nothing, but I’ve never been happier. The world does not stop spinning because you haven’t showered in three days or because you wear the same clothes day in and day out, or because your bag is a little on the heavy side and you lugged it for half hour in the pouring rain (this actually happened to me). Every struggle, every embarrassment and every joyful moment soon will become memories before you even realise it. 

If you’re unhappy in your life, only you and you alone have the power to change it.

East Coast Paradise

Australia 2017, Uncategorized

Hello from Tully, a beautiful small town located somewhere in between Townsville and Cairns. I’m currently in a hotel as our indigenous camp was cancelled, but there’s no complaints here – the hotel is Mt. Tyson and totally amazing compared to the 8 bed dirty dorms I’ve become accustomed to. My room is a single, with air con, a TV, fridge, kettle, toaster AND free wifi. 

I couldn’t even begin to tell you how completely breathtaking the past few weeks have been. I’ve had the time of my life and I’m super sad that my east coast adventure has nearly finished. Tomorrow I head to Cairns to begin my final week up north before flying to Adelaide to see our lovely family friends and then Melbourne.

The absolute highlight for me has been Fraser Island where our group quickly became a little family. We drove huge four wheel drives and camped for two nights. We saw the amazing Lake Mackenzie, another lake with those fish that eat your feet (I forget the name…) and my personal favourite Eli Creek where you float down a freezing fresh water stream in rubber rings. At night we would drink on the beach before heading to Winkies, which was a glorified tent with disco lights but so much fun when you’re off your face on goon. I’ve never seen so many stars as I did here. Then we got back to Rainbow Beach and my beautiful group surprised me on my birthday with cake and balloons at a cute pub.

Afterwards I went on an overnight train before hopping straight onto my boat around the Whitsundays. This is actually what I was most excited for when coming to Australia, but actually it felt pretty dull in comparison to Frasers. I think it’s all about the group you get and I didn’t really ‘click’ with many people on the boat but still had a great time snorkelling and exploring with the two of the funniest and friendliest people ever. 

Today I just came from Magnetic Island, which is a little Island off of Townsville. On day one we did the Fortz Walk and saw two wild koalas and watched the sunset from the top of an old war bunker which was absolutely terrifying to get to but worth it for the views over the rocks. On day two we rented what I can only describe as a death trap on wheels. After a terrifying start and nearly dying, we picked up a stray traveller and had the best day exploring the Island. We fed rock wallabies, went to a million different bays, cracked open a coconut and drank the milk before realising it was mouldy, and watched the sunset at West Point. Yesterday I held a koala and lots of lizards which was pretty cool, who knew lizards have the softest little bellies? I didn’t. 

How’s England, guys?