Stories of 2019 #48

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 #43

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

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?

Stories of 2019 #35

What an incredible trip I have recently had to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was truly MAGICAL! And yes, it deserves to be in capital letters because it was the most unbelievable week.

I have been to Walt Disney World before back in 2005 when I was only eight but I only remember a few things such as breakfast with Minnie and going on Splash Mountain and it being an amazing trip. However, going back as an adult, I found it so much more special. Previously we stayed in a villa just outside of Disney World but for this trip, I stayed in the Animal Kingdom Lodge and it was so special. I mean it was a dream waking up in the morning, stepping out onto your balcony and spotting giraffes!!

Here are some gems from my previous trip to Walt Disney World. Look how young we look!! These beauties are scanned in from the Florida photo album ha ha.

My friend Jess took me on her trip and we had such a lovely time. We flew out of Gatwick airport last Monday at 11:40am. Both very excited we bounded into the airport early in the morning, met the others who were also on the trip and got all set for our 9-hour flight to Orlando!

The time flew by (literally), especially with good films and food. Afternoon tea miles high in the sky was a particular highlight for me, with Rodda’s clotted cream too… Virgin knows how to do a proper scone.

Once we had arrived at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we were greeted by Zoe and Dave – the amazing Disney PR’s that took care of us – in the grand lobby of the hotel with our magic bands and hotel packs. They took us to our rooms and that is when the excited screams began…

Towels, pillowcase, Minnie ears, personalised hats and tons of sweet goodies – Thank you, Mickey! We were completely spoilt from the word go. The room was wonderful, all African inspired with wooden interiors and quirky wallpaper with animals and mountains on.

It was quite late by the time we had reached the hotel and settled in but around 7pm we all met for dinner. The first meal was within a restaurant at the hotel called Jiko – the African cooking place. Food that was vibrant, spicy and packed full of flavours paired with South African wines set for a lovely evening.

To start, me and Jess shared the Inguday Tibs in Brik which was a samosa-like dish. Mushroom and spinach in a crispy Tunisian filo pastry with apple and curry vinaigrette. Following this for main I had the West African Koki Corn. Mushrooms and avocado on a poblano-tomatillo puree with roasted red pepper sauce matched with a smooth, rich red wine.

But jet-lag hit the group and everyone headed to bed as some stayed behind and had a slice of white chocolate cake – the first signs that I would not feel hunger for the next five days. Not long after we headed back to the room, excited for what was to come the next day when we were off for breakfast with the characters and a day in the Magic Kingdom!

Stories of 2019 #17

I confess. I am a smoothie bowl addict. I do not care if they contain hundreds of hidden calories, they look and they taste bloody delicious! Pink, purple, blue, Halloween themed, topped with heaps of peanut butter, fruit, granola (best part), flowers, who knows you may even find a mermaid in the depths of a smoothie bowl. I mean there are even Instagram accounts dedicated to the smoothie bowl… How can you resist when they look THAT good.

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Yummy Blue Smoothie Bowl by @isiaaak

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You do have to go out and source a smoothie bowl if you want them to look good, unless you are just a domestic goddess and can blend up something as good as this. I know I can’t, so I go on the global smoothie bowl hunt.

They became popular in 2016 and was a huge Instagram trend due to their drool-worthy look. But what really is a smoothie bowl I hear you ask? Well, it is a mix of frozen fruit, vegetables and other so-called superfoods such as yogurt, avocado and oats. This forms a ice-cream like texture, so instead of putting your smoothie in a cup and drinking with a straw, you pour it into a bowl and eat it with a spoon. Then it is time for the crown jewels – the beautiful toppings that are carefully placed sometimes in lines on top of your smoothie, which can be pretty much anything. The aim of the smoothie bowl is supposedly to make you eat more mindfully as you cannot gulp it down – unless you want brain freeze…

However, they are said to be very high in sugar so maybe consume in moderation.

I have to say, not to blow my own trumpet, but I like to now call myself the global smoothie bowl connoisseur. Ubud, Canguu, Byron Bay, London, Townsville, Hitchin, I mean do I need to convince your further? Joking, when I am making smoothie bowls good enough to go on the smoothie bowl accounts, I know then I am the connoisseur.

Anyway, here are where I have had the delicious smoothie bowl.

The Avocado Factory, Canguu // Avo Island Smoothie Bowl
Watercress, Ubud // Acai Superfood Smoothie Bowl
Puri Garden Hotel and Hostel, Ubud // Smoothie Bowl
NUUT Nutrition Bar, Fremantel WA // Nourishing Glow Bowl
Acai Brother, Byron Bay // Ain’t Nothin’ Butter Bowl
The Beet Bar, Townsville // Peanut Butter Swirl
Pluk, Amsterdam // Unicorn Acai Bowl
Feya, London // Pastel Rainbow Smoothie Bowl
Chia Cafe, Hitchin // Acai Smoothie Bowl

By the looks of things I need to take my own advice and think about moderation ha ha. Now make sure you share your smoothie bowls with me and I can go and try too!

Stories of 2019 #1

“The New Year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.” – Melody Beattie.

Masters Graduation // 13th December 2018

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2019. I hope you are all waking up with clear heads after celebrating your way into the New Year with friends, family and of course, a little tipple. I am waking up up north in Manchester (with most probably a headache as I get way too excited when I am out which results in mixed drink choices and I am not one of those sensible people who have one drink and one glass of water) with my friend Jess after dancing our socks off in the Northern Quarter. If I am honest, after all the Christmas and New Year festivities I am looking forward to 1, a drier January and 2, having a bit of a routine back with less food and drink!

But alongside a new fresh year, comes the tradition of the New Years resolution. 2018 was full of change for myself, some big and some small, but I am now officially an ‘adult’… well, some would say anyway, I am not sure I agree. I am no longer a university student (very VERY sad news) and I have moved back home to Stevenage and have the joyous task of finding myself a job in 2019 or just figuring out what I want to do with my year ahead.

As most people, I also start the year with a list of New Year resolutions and only keep to one or two and loosing sight of the other 50 after a months. Ok, that is ambitions, a few weeks ha ha. Has anyone actually ever stuck to a New Years resolution? If you have, hats off to you, you amazing human being! Any tips do not be afraid to leave them below in a comment. Learning from previous years, I plan to set two!

So, here are my 2019 goals:

Find a new hobby // I am really into fitness and going to the gym, so my new hobby I would like to be physical. The gym I currently go to also have a boxing gym and I would really like to try my hand at this after having a few goes on some pads (I think that is what they are called). Also in addition to boxing, hiking is on my list but I would not have as much access to this hobby. Watch this space, I could be either the next female Evander Holyfield or Bear Grylls!

Worry less about life // I am a constant worrier. Considering I am quite outgoing and have even been travelling on my own, I worry over the smallest of things. Especially now I am home from travelling and from university, as I have a sense of feeling lost in this big world. I do not know what job I want or whether I want to save up to go away again or what else is running through my head! I feel like I should be out working, starting a career like all my friends and with people constantly asking me, “have you got a job yet?” I find myself feeling guilty when I say no. But like my wise mother has said to me, there is no rush to get a job as once you are in a full time job the next time you will get this time off is when you are retired. She also adds the only people you need to worry about, about making you get a job is her and my dad and they are not bothered as long as I am happy. I currently have two little part time jobs I am enjoying so for the time being I am trying to worry less about the future! I think I will struggle with this one the most.

With these set for 2019, who knows where I will end up a year from now writing my 2020 resolutions. Wouldn’t life be boring if we knew where it was going to take us.

What are your 2018 resolutions? Comment below and let me know! We can support each other.

Pluk Amsterdam

Pluk Amsterdam

If you are forever looking for pretty cafes around the world you have probably no doubt seen this gem! Especially their unicorn smoothie bowls. Located amongst some very cool independent cafes and boutique shops on 9 Streets, Pluk serves up not only healthy but delicious food.

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