Stories of 2019 #48: Realities of Solo Travel

I have been home now from travelling for over four months. But as soon as I got home, it was like I had never even been? Not one for being quizzed, I loved hearing about what everyone else has been up to. Life went on, I signed back up to the gym, I went back to work and daily life continued on without much thought about what a big deal it kind of was?! It is only since someone said to me, “how mad was it that you went to Australia?” that I started thinking, yes, that was mad! I went to Bali and Australia all on my own.

Now, I know that really this is not that big a deal. I know people who have left for god knows how long, and I only went for a tiny dent of that time but it is the fact I still packed my bags and went. Personally, for me, I love to travel and experience the different cultures but I do not know if I could do that length of time, over the other side of the world for so long? Especially for my first trip. Just over three months was the perfect step for me.

So, this post is a reflection on my time as a solo traveller.

I was meant to go with a friend from home but as it turned out being it was not meant to be as she got ill and other things got in the way. Luckily, she is back to full fighting health and even got to do her stint of solo travelling! But I do think it was a blessing in disguise that we went separately. It would have been a completely different experience and looking back at my time away, I would not have wanted it any differently. Being solo forced me to be social, forced me to step out of that comfort zone and take risks you would not take if you had the comfort of a friend. It also enabled me to do what the hell I wanted! If I wanted to go to bed at 9pm (in true party style), I could. If I wanted to stop and have endless cups of coffee, I could. And if I wanted to go anywhere and do anything, I could. That is the beauty of travelling on your own. It is flexible and completely up to you.

My highlights

All the people I met being away were my highlights! I made friends with people I never would have made friends with if I was not on my own. Once I had got into the flow of just being myself, I was chatting to everyone. I have got the traveller conversation nailed… What’s your name? Where are you from? How long are you away for? Are you going up or down the coast? How long are you at this hostel for? If you have stayed in hostels and travelled, I bet you have had that exact same conversation at least 20 times!

Rosa and Alex, were two girls I pretty much spent a whole month with and we would all get upset if one of us choose to stay somewhere for one day longer and then would be all happy again when we were reunited. It was hard to say goodbye to these amazing ladies but I am sure I will see them again. I also made friends with Tom in hostel bus after the Greyhound, Sean in a exercise class in a hostel, Ali over a box of goon, Jada on the Uncle Brians Tour in Cairns and Mary on our skydive. So many people make your experience whilst you are travelling and I know you would meet people if you were travelling with other people but being on my own made me chat to anyone who would sit next to me and I loved that aspect sometimes (yes, sometimes, if you carry on reading lol).

Really it is such a bizarre concept staying in hostels, sleeping in a room with people you have never met from around the world. But the people you met, are those who you would never have the chance to meet at home and that is one big highlight for me!

Another highlight for me was having that peace and quiet when you needed it. Travelling can be tiring. You are constantly surrounded by people and constantly trying to make some sort of conversation. Truthfully, the only time you are completely on your own is when you are in the toilet. The full door toilet, not even them cubicle ones. I remember in Melbourne, one girl even said she was so fed up with talking to people that one time she sat in the toilet and read her book for an hour just to have a break. For me I went the beach or the park but each to their own hey!

I remember one afternoon in St Kilda, Melbourne, I laid down for near enough two hours staring into the sky, relaxing my body and thinking about everything going on. It was beautiful. I also did this on the beach in Byron Bay one morning. If I was not on my own, I would not be able to do this (well, not without feeling a little bit bad). Taking a break where necessary is a hidden beauty of going on your own.

St Kila, Melbourne

My not so highlights…

I had many lows when I was away. More lows in Australia than I did in Bali. I think this was primarily down to being on my own in Australia, compared to Bali, where I was with a big group of bloody amazing girls. Not having an organised day or group, made you have to make an effort and sometimes you were faced with a true sense of loneliness. Everyone you meet, is at a different point in their travelling experiences. I met people who were itching to meet people and go exploring but then I also met people who were on their second year, working and the novelty of the excited traveller had worn off.

Just keep on smiling // Me in Brisbane

I found this happened more in cities like Sydney or Brisbane, where people based themselves for jobs. Especially in Brisbane, I was hit square in the face with loneliness. It was horrible and an experience I really wish not to have again. Do not get me wrong, the city was lovely and I spent three days doing some fun things like seeing a circus show, eating I think the best pizza, petting joey’s and watching fireworks but I also cried in the cinema toilets, looked for tickets home and just wished I was moving to the next place already. I did not expect it to hit me like it did. You feel silly too (well I know I did) because I was in Australia?! Australia! Living the dream and travelling and you could not moan or be upset to those at home, in the cold, working hard. But honestly, talk to people. Let them know you are feeling low and they can send you virtual hug. Also, do things you enjoy. Yes, I may have cried in the cinema toilets but I also love the cinema and saw a really good film – Crazy Rich Asians.

I also had this feeling in Byron Bay. It was my first night after the overnight bus from Sydney, where I had the most amazing few days with Cole, and I had spent all of my first day in Byron Bay on the beach, alone. That evening, I cooked dinner and felt brave enough to go into the social area. All I saw was people on their phones (one time I think they are a curse travelling) or in big groups (intimidating…) and ended up rushing back to my bunk, feeling like a complete loser at travelling. I text my friend, Jessamyn, saying I can’t make friends and I am being unsociable. Upsettingly saying to her I thought travelling would be all party, party, party. But like she said, you do not need to make friends. You have friends at home! This was just what I needed to hear. Why was I putting such a pressure on myself to make friends? So, if you ever have this feeling of not making friends, just remember your friends at home waiting for you and simply remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day, ready for new adventures. You are there to see the sights and when you stop worrying so much, I found I relaxed and was able to speak to people. This early night was actually followed by two of my most favourite nights travelling, so it is proof it works!

Byron Bay beach (nice and cloudy)

No experience is smooth sailing and we all need them times were we are suffering to realise what we are made of. So, as much as I did not like the low points I had, they made my trip what it did and made me stronger for future ones. I am still amazed I actually went. But even though I have been to the other side of the world on my Tod, I still get incredibly nervous to do things on my own. I am not now this independent women, I get nervous going to bloody London or have spent the last few months deciding what to do next and whether I could do that trip on my own (totally forgetting I have done it before…). We often forget what we have achieved when we get more concerned with worry about the future, filling our heads with self-doubt. I remember feeling so incredibly nervous waiting at Heathrow Airport for my flight to Bali but then I also felt incredibly nervous waiting for my flight home, wondering what is next for me? As deep as this will sound, you are solo in life, whether you are in Boxfield Green or a hostel in the depths of Cape Tribulation being bitten alive by mossies! I somehow managed to get the courage to go away solo then and now I need to get the same courage to do my next trip or next step in life and my time away solo has taught me that for me, India Paine, this is possible.

That took a turn there at the end but that is me always going off on tangents! If you want to travel solo, I highly recommend but just expect you have to take the rough with the smooth. However, it will be the most amazing time.

Stories of 2019 #47: Week in Workouts 2

My week in workouts! I am thinking of making this a regular Sunday blog post and trying to incorporate more health and fitness into Stories of Adventure, as it is a big passion of mine and something, at the moment, I am doing regularly. Let me know what you think or whether you prefer to see more travel related posts?

This week I have worked out 6 times. Six times a week tends to be what I am doing at the moment, however, I did do a double session on Monday. So, I have technically only been to the gym 5 times, which has been quiet nice to have 2 days off.

It has been a tough week of workouts and I am starting to see more definition in my abdominal muscles but over the next 6 weeks I am really trying to lean out, as I do feel I have put on some extra fat in certain areas, ready to go to Seville in April. I am calling it #6weekstoseville – my new mini series – and I am planning to show/track my workouts, how I feel and food!

Less of me rambling and on to the week in workouts…

Monday

AM – upper body / pull-ups 3 x AMRAP / barbell bent over rows 4 x 10 / cable lateral pull 4 x 12 / rows / 4 x 12 / lateral raises 4 x 8 (heavy I use 6kg) drop set straight away and do 4 x 15 (light weight I used 4kg) / bicep curls 3 x 15 / tricep dips 3 x 15

PM – cardio / 5 x 10 calorie watt bike (horrific, actually thought I was going to throw up) / 200 meter run followed by kettle swings 30 reps x 5 (together)

Tuesday

PM – Iron class / pull-ups 5 x 5 / handstand push-up 5 x 5 (amazed I could actually do these against the wall) / floor chest press 4 x 8 / deficit push-up 4 x 12 / renegade rows 3 x 10

Wednesday

AM – Blitz class / round 1 x 3 / 400 meter row / 15 deadlift (40kg) / 15 burpees / 15 push-ups / round 2 x 3 / 15 calorie watt bike / 15 overhead press (20kg) / 15 jump squats / 15 wall balls (6kg)

Thursday – rest day!

Friday

PM – Did my own upper-body work out inspired by NaturallyStephanie / cable chest press 3 x 15 / incline dumbbell flies 3 x 15 (6kg) / incline chest press 3 x 15 (12.5kg) / round 1 x 5 / 10 overhead press / 20 kettlebell squats / 20 upright row / 15 press up / round 2 x 3 / 8 hanging leg raises / 10 cable oblique twists / 10 cable chest press

Saturday

AM – Squat Saturdays (my favourite class of the week) / wall balls 3 x 15 (in pairs, whilst partner doing wall balls you do body weight squats) / squats 5, 5, 3, 1 (increasing weight – I hit another PB of 100kg!!) / 20 x 3 cable goblet squats / 12 x 3 leg press / 12 x 3 split leg squat (12.5kg each side) / 12 x 3 leg extension… legs are sore today!

Sunday – Rest day! Not planned but we had been out Saturday night and I missed the 9am class… oops. I did go for a walk though and battling the gale force winds was a workout within itself!

Squat Saturday Class // 09.03.2019

Stories of 2019 #46: International Women’s Day

International women’s day is upon us! A day to celebrate the amazing women which paved the way to a better future for us, the women working tirelessly to make change, the women who you meet for coffee, the women who are your mum’s and all the other trailblazing women there are in this world today.

There really are some truly inspiring women today and I think it is so amazing also, that you can follow them on social media. Which more often than not leads me down the road of becoming a complete fan girl, scrolling down until I am back in 2010 or something… Admit it we have all been there!

To celebrate such a day, I thought I would tell you my ultimate female inspirations.

Serena Guen

She started one of my favourite magazines at the age of 22, whilst still undertaking her third year of university in Paris. Now, her innovative and beautifully crafted magazine is printed in 35 different countries alongside their ever-expanding website bursting with content. To take such a big step, where you have had to learn everything about the magazine industry, is truly inspiring and something, as a magazine journalist, would love to do. She had a passion, found a niche and went for it! Being 22 myself now, I am blown away buy her guts to just go for it. Taking inspiration from that, let alone all the other achievements Suitcase magazine has achieved.

Venetia Falconer

If you speak to me often, you will know I speak about Venetia a lot. She is my go-to podcast (Talking Tastebuds), YouTube channel and Instagram for all things sustainable, plant-based and food related. Her views on sustainability and the clothing industry have made me question my purchasing habits, which I never thought would happen, and made me think twice about the things I am consuming. Not only this but she is super cool and so creative with her food. I mean, just look at that bowl of goodness below…

Ella Mills

Sorry, another plant-based inspired pick but Ella Mills and her husband Matt, of Deliciously Ella have done so so well in building their brand and changing the way people see plant-based or vegan food. I recently bought their cookbook, which contains their whole business story, and it was really inspiring to see how they got started to where they are now. They simply began in a tiny kitchen serving their dishes through delivery apps to having their own deli in the center of London, a range of frozen meals and protein balls and two cook books, which is growing into three. I am also a big fan of their podcast where they discuss all issues surround health and well being, including lessons in happiness, diet myths unpicked and marathon training 101.

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Chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate sauce and raspberries. Happy pancake day 🥞 To make these… and don’t forget we’re making pancakes all day at the deli too! For the pancakes 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of chia seeds, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 400ml almond or oat milk, 200g plain white self-raising flour (we use a gf one), 150g Deliciously Ella Bircher Muesli (or you can use porridge oats), 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted – plus more for frying), handful of chocolate chips, pinch of sea salt. For the chocolate sauce: 280ml coconut milk (from a carton, not a tin), 4 tablespoons cacao powder, 70g coconut sugar, 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder dissolved in 2 teaspoons warm water (this thickens the sauce but you can skip and just have less milk), pinch of salt salt To make the sauce, simply heat the ingredients in a pan over a medium heat for 8–10 minutes, whisking until it turns into a smooth, creamy sauce. Then set to one side while you make the pancakes. To make the pancakes: Stir all the ingredients together to form a smooth, thick batter. Warm a tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan over a medium heat. Once the pan is hot and the oil has melted, spoon in a large tablespoon of pancake batter into the pan. Cook on one side for 3-4 minutes until it’s golden, before turning and cooking the other side for 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Remove and repeat until all of the batter is finished 🙏🏼

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Fearne Cotton

Selfies at five in the morning, stories of her doing yoga at sunrise and images with wonky pears – this is why I love Fearne. She tells it how it is. She uses Instagram how it is meant to be used, uploading relatable and unstaged images, creating the instant effect. Her captions also have a big impact, speaking a lot about her mental health and the daily life of Fearne Cotton. Her unfiltered way she uses social media I think is inspirational within itself. (Also, another one with a great podcast… Happy Place)

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Say what

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Bryony Gordon

I did not know much about Bryony, until I was listening to a podcast where she was a guest and was speaking about her experience with mental health and running (she ran a marathon in her undies – amazing). Interested by what she was saying, that night I started reading her book, Eat, Drink, Run. I think I finished it within a few days, I was so engrossed. She has suffered so much with her mental health and the way she has gained so much confidence through running is so motivating. Her story really brings to light how much people can be affected by mental health. Not only has she wrote books sharing her experiences but she has raised money for charity, created a meet-up with people sharing the same mental health experience which has gone world-wide and she completely is herself on social media which I think is amazing. I love her – simply put. Also, her and her husband make me laugh in the book! Highly recommend reading.

Loraine and Sian Paine

Awww, I had to include my mum and sister! Wonder women in my eyes. They both work so hard, look after their homes and deal with me (lol I know can be hard) and are both so loving and kind. What I would do without them both, I do not know. But they constantly inspire me so I saved the best till last.

Which women inspire you?

Stories of 2019 #45: Pancake Day in Hitchin

Wasn’t pancake day good! I mean, I and my mum did not even bother to attempt to make them, we chose the sensible choice and decided to head out for elevenses pancakes. We are not just pretty faces, we knew somewhere else would make them better than we ever could!

Already in the area, we went to my absolute favourite cafe – Chia Naturally Healthy. A cozy plant-based health cafe in the center of Hitchin. So aka, we had healthy pancakes…

Every time I have visited this cafe I have had the most delish food so it is no wonder they have been voted top three of The Sunday Times best plant-based cafes.

For pancake day they were also offering not only 10% off pancakes but also had two exclusive flavour toppings. Pancakes on offer were…

Coconut sugar and lemon

Banana, pecan and maple syrup

Cinnamon and blueberries

Thankfully the words, “shall we get two different and share” come out of my mum’s mouth and I was at the counter ordering one maple and pecan, one blueberry and cinnamon. Coconut sugar and lemon sounded lovely too but I mean if I am going for pancakes, I want all the toppings! We also had an English breakfast tea with oat milk and a matcha latte with coconut milk.

My excitement was building when they arrived and we tucked straight into the three-stack, heavily (thank god) topped pancakes. I was in almond butter heaven and we were switching forks trying to decide which ones we preferred. Both equally as good I reckon and thinking to myself what a great idea this was whilst trying to savour every last bite.

Eyes bigger than my belly, I also ordered a slice of their ginger cake to-go… I mean by the time I am writing this blog post (2:30pm) I have had a sneaky spoonful and I mean it is safe to say the cake will not be there for long!

Once again, Chia Naturally Healthy has wowed my tastebuds and I am itching to go back already!

Not only do they do pancakes but they do a whole range of tasty, wholesome food from burgers to smoothie bowls, to beetroot lattes to protein smoothies.

I am beyond happy that this gem is in Hertfordshire and I highly recommend a visit if you are nearby, even if you are not plant-based.

What did you top your pancakes with?

Stories of 2019 #44: Monday Rituals

Monday. Another week has passed and a new one has begun, all set for new goals!

I have started my Monday with fresh bed sheets, a good gym session, and a complete clean-out. Very productive morning I think, for now sitting down at 1pm to write this blog post.

Personally, Monday is my favourite day of the week. I love the weekend but more often than not I find myself on a Sunday night feeling rubbish (normally about what I have eaten) and slightly bored. Followed up by an early night, Monday comes around and you are full of energy – ready to take on the fresh week.

Maybe because I do not currently have a full-time job is the reason why I love a Monday because I do not get the dreaded back to work feeling but even within a full-time job there are ways to improve your Monday.

My Monday rituals;

Change my bed sheets – This little thing can leave you looking forward to getting home and snuggling down surrounded by sweet smelling sheets! A pain at the time, who knew it was such a work-out to fight your duvet into its cover. Nevertheless, I am excited already now I’ve tackled the actual chore of changing the sheets.

Make a yummy breakfast – Pretty much every day, including Saturday and Sunday, I have 40g porridge oats, 10g vegan protein powder, banana, and 10g peanut butter. I am literally obsessed and as sad as it sounds, look forward to breakfast every night before I go to bed…

Write my aims for the week – Just a few things that you would like the week to achieve. Whether that is sticking to healthier meals, go to the gym, see a family member or take time for yourself – write it down and make it happen. This week for me my aims are to apply for jobs (as per) and get back to my blogging.

And be sure, not to forget the previous week. Last week was pretty busy for me with lots of shifts at work and gym sessions in the evening, for the more mundane aspects. But, I also became obsessed with coconut lattes, celebrated my mums birthday, cooked an amazing pie, saw various family members, ate baklava whilst sitting in the gym carpark (all about balance right) and had a lovely hour-long phone call with my bestie. I am so grateful for all the experiences, even if they were not big, life-changing things. They made me happy.

The week ahead is full of more plans with Shrove Tuesday being tomorrow, I and my mum are planning to go out for a coffee. I am on dog duty on Wednesday, Thursday I am meeting up with my cousin and her little one, Friday I am a double shift at the bakery and pub and Saturday I am off out on the town to celebrate my mum’s birthday! And who knows what else will be in between!

So, love Mondays and be excited for what life is bringing you this week.

Do you love Mondays? Or, am I the only strange one?!

Stories of 2019 #43: 2019 Travel Plans

2019 is a year of unknowns. Which is what life is – unknown. But at the moment, I wish I knew which path my life was going to take. I know everyone says you should relax and enjoy this time off but I am a person who loves to be busy, outside and having a sense of purpose really and at the moment I am still in the adjusting process. I bet when I finally start to enjoy my time without a career, I will get one! We can all guess that, can’t we?

But the one thing not unknown at the moment is where I am traveling to this year! Now, this is exciting. From camping to cruises, 2019’s travel and holidays are looking like they are set to be extremely fun. And also growing as many places are being added to my list…

Brighton

We have family friends – Justine and Glen – who live just outside the cool city of Brighton and we are fortunate enough to go down south and visit. However, I have not been since 2017! The last time I went it was a beautifully sunny day, as the pictures show. We went on the I360 and ate fish and chips on the seafront followed by an ice-cream, of course. One thing I love about Brighton is North Laine – packed full of small, quirky and independent stores and cafes – it is easy to spend your whole day mooching around the shops. We then escape the city life, to West Sussex, where our friends own a beautiful house on the front. I am so looking forward to this and revisiting one of my favorite spots.

Cruise

Also dubbed as the ‘booze cruise’ according to my sister’s boyfriend. This is our annual family holiday and with an extra special treat as we will be away for my birthday. We fly from Stanstead to Corfu, where we will board our ship, before sailing to Slovenia, Venice, Croatia, and Montenegro. All the places I have always wanted to go to! Especially Montenegro. Serenaded on a gondola to bathing in the Krka waterfalls in Spilt, I am already planning outfits and bikinis for each place. But you thought cruises were for old people? Well, you have got it all wrong. I have been on four cruises now, this years being my fifth, and they are full of things to do and an endless list of food and drinks that will keep you busy if there is nothing you fancy doing. On one cruise ship by Royal Caribbean, there was even a full-sized ice-rink, zip wire, and elevating bar?! Having not been back at sea for almost five years, I am excited to get back on board the ‘booze cruise.’

Camping

When I was younger, we were always camping. We even spent a whole two weeks in Cornwall, living in our tent (although was cut short due to the endless rain). There is nothing quite like waking up to the sounds of the birds and sitting outside with your morning cup of tea before going to the shower block to get ready. Some people do not like the idea of camping and think that it is basic but not for us Paines. We have carpet, electric and even our hairdryers. We are probably more glamping, than camping. Anyhow, nearby to our home in Stevenage we have a campsite where we are going to. I know it sounds funny to go camping literally 20 minutes down the road but it is just nice to be out in the tent, it does not matter how far or close you are.

Seville

Back with my partner in crime, we are off on another trip! After the last one being fueled by Aperol and tiramisu in Italy, we are hopping over to Spain to test the tapas and sangria. Jessamyn called me one night and asked if I wanted to go away? Obviously, my answer was yes and 20 minutes later we had picked Seville and our flights were booked. Our main reason to pick Seville was the warm temperatures in April and the fact I saw an article on Suitcase Magazine saying the streets were lined with lively bars and flamenco dancing. We are there for four days, so plenty of time to explore the city. However, we have booked during their Holy Week when there are some interesting parades going on… wish us luck!

South West Coastal Path?

Now, this is not set in stone as of yet but I have wanted to do this walk for so long. I am thinking about doing a small section for two weeks rather than the whole 600 or so miles, although I would love to do that! But maybe to ease myself into the idea of solo-trekking, a couple of weeks is enough? I am currently reading two books about people who have walking the whole path and it just sounds breathtaking! Have you ever done the South West Coastal Path or know anyone who has because I would love some advice/recommendations.

So far that is where I am off too and possibly (hopefully) a few more!

Where are you going in 2019?

Stories of adventure #42: My Valentines

The 14th Feb. The day all about love! Now, traditionally it is all about showing love to your partner, but for me, I do not have one, so I am going to tell the other three loves of my life, which are year-round, day in, day out…

Travel

I can’t express my love for travel. Being able to experience and learn from different cultures is just such an amazing feeling. I am extremely lucky to have travelled where I have been and how often I have been away. From one side of the world in USA to the other side in Australia and many places in between, I have had so many brilliant experiences. The fact that you wander aimlessly around streets you have never seen before, eating food you never thought existed and meeting people from all over the world, these are a few of the things I love about travelling.

Fitness

I know this is a bit lame to put, basically exercise as one of my life’s love but I can’t genuinely imagine my day to day life without it (lol). I like to see what my body can do, whether that is seeing how much weight I can lift at the gym or seeing what weird stretches I can get into at yoga or whether I can hike to the top of that peak, I am there, loving it. I am not the type of person to spend hours at the gym, I only go for an hour a day but most days of the week. Not only is it good for my body (I defo have a big booty to show for it) but for my mind, it is also amazing.

Family

The simple 5 (and the dogs). I would not be anywhere without them! We are all on the count down to the ‘booze cruise’ in May 2019 for our holiday together. These simpletons do not need many words to show my love for them.

But I have so many more loves… shopping, cooking, food, drink, reading, learning, movies – the list is endless.

What do you love?