February Feats – What I’ve been reading #2

I know, I know I’m a day late posting this and I’m sorry. There was a death in the family recently, which resulted in Mum having to leave for Malaysia earlier than expected. So I spent Wednesday in a car driving her up to Auckland and then driving back. Today I feel absolutely shattered and I’m ready to crawl into a hole and stay there for a while because I don’t have the energy to deal with life. But life has to go on!

I felt it was necessary to spend as much time with Mum as possible, seeing as there was only 24 hours left with her and with me leaving for London, it would be a couple of years before I saw her again. I was a quivering mess before we even took her up to Auckland but being reminded of the many ways I can keep in touch and the thought of her and Dad spending Christmas with me in the UK next year made me feel a lot better.

So, little life update aside, I hope you’re all doing wonderfully! Seriously, where has the week gone? Feels like only yesterday I was writing up my first ‘What I’ve been reading’ list and posting it.

Anyways, here we go folks, week two of what I’ve been reading…

  • ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ by John Green

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To be honest, I bought this book because it was everywhere. In book reviews, book recommendations, hell, even my kindle was recommending it to me. So I thought to myself, I should buy this book because the gods want me to, not because I had any interest in what it was about. In some way, it was like I was being subliminally peer pressured.

The book is based around Aza, a 16-year-old girl who I suppose is a bit troubled. She’s under pressure from her family and friends to be a good daughter, a good friend, and an all-round good person. The death of a prominent billionaire and a reward worth hundreds of thousands of dollars takes Aza and her best friend, Daisy on a wee adventure where they look to solve the mystery of the billionaire’s death. I think this sums up the book.

I downloaded a sample on my Kindle and I wasn’t really engaged in the story but because I had invested time and effort in reading the book, I hit the ‘Buy book’ button when the sample was over (this seems to be a terrible habit I have btw). I think I must’ve paid about $15NZD for the book… which is the most I’ve ever spent on a book on my Kindle. I continued to read it but I wasn’t fully engaged in the story. I wasn’t invested in the characters (and I usually am way too involved with them and have to remind myself that they’re not real people) and I found myself getting annoyed with them way too often. I know I’m probably gonna get a lot of “wtf” for this but I still don’t understand the turtles all the way down reference. I read the explanation about three times and still couldn’t wrap my head around it. I might have to go back and read the explanation again and see if we’re fourth time lucky.

I think if you’re a die-hard John Green fan then you’d probably enjoy the book. The only book that Green has written that I’ve actually enjoyed was ‘Paper Towns’. I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as I did the book but yeah, hands down, fave John Green book. I’ve read ‘The Fault in our Stars’ a couple of years ago and I think I’m about a chapter away from finishing and I just never picked it up to complete it. I don’t know why. I like the idea for the story and the movie brought tears in my eyes but I remember thinking to myself that this could’ve been written better (I know I’m being a critical cow but it’s just my opinion and I’m not saying I’m the one to write it better!). I downloaded a sample of ‘Looking for Alaska’ and I think I read it a few months ago but I was still debating on whether or not to buy it because I’d be spending about $15NZD on it and I wasn’t sure if I actually enjoyed it. I might go back and reread the sample again.

So there you go, my honest thoughts on ‘Turtles All the Way Down’. I’d score this book 5 out of 10.

  • ‘The Missing Ones’ by Patricia Gibney

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This book was recommended to me by Amazon and I thought heck, it’s a crime thriller; it has murder, serious harm, mystery, a strong female lead who’s falling to pieces, gore, history, broken minds and it’s set in Ireland so I’d be silly not to sample it.

I read the sample in about ten minutes and didn’t hesitate to click the ‘Buy book’ button. It took me about a day and a half to finish reading the entire book. It’s one of those ‘But I have to know who did it!’ books and I just couldn’t put it down.

The book is the first of the Detective Lottie Parker series. There are two more after this and yes I’ve read them all. The fourth one is scheduled for release on 22 March and yes I’ve preordered it. The story opens with a dead woman found in a church. The woman seems to have no history and no friends and Detective Parker is already hitting brick walls with no clues and no leads. When the death of a man is reported soon after, the deaths seem to be linked but Detective Parker can’t seem to work out how… and that’s where the excitement begins.

It’s probably not the best description of what the story is about but it’s a mystery. If you google it, you’d probably get a better description… and hopefully no spoilers. If you’re a sucker for a good crime/mystery/thriller with a twist to die for, then look no further. Gibney has definitely outdone herself with her debut novel. Also, I think I spent about $2 NZD on this book? Incredible. I’d score it 10 out of 10.

  • ‘Bazaar of Bad Dreams’ by Stephen King

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I’m gonna put it out there – I’ve never been a fan of Stephen King’s writing. I’ve been a fan of his book ideas, the movies and reimagining’s and the synopsis of his books but I find it difficult to get through his writing. I’m still trying to work out why because I’m a fan of horror books and his book ideas are just marvellous so naturally you’d think I’d be his biggest fan.

When I saw this book in Whitcoulls, there was this feeling inside me that felt like I just had to have this book and read it. So I took a photo of it, rushed home and bought it.

The book is made up of 20 short stories, all with a different type of ‘scary’ theme. There’s monsters, ghosts and even psychological fears – the ones you don’t really think about. Before each story starts, King provides us with a commentary on how he came up with the idea behind the story. Normally I don’t care much for these blurbs but I found the ones King wrote to be fairly interesting.

Typical of short stories, there’s always going to be the ones that you love and the ones that you hate and just really want to skip but feel compelled to finish. My favourites in the collection are ‘Bad Little Kid’ and ‘A Death’. I think I enjoyed this book more than his novels because there was something to suit different tastes. With a novel, if you don’t enjoy the premise or the writing, you’re kind of just stuck with it. Overall, I’d score this book an 8 out of 10.

I really enjoy writing this list. I find that I’m more aware of what I’m reading and my feelings towards the content of what I’m reading and that’s because I know I’m going to be writing about them for this series.

Oh oh I’ve also been listening to an audiobook! Only reason I’m doing that is because I want to reread the Harry Potter series and I’ve ran out of enjoyable podcasts to listen to while I’m doing some mindless data entry at work so voila, solution! I’ve actually been enjoying it and the book is narrated by Stephen Fry and boy is he amazing. I get my audiobooks from Audible, just in case you’re wondering. No, this is not an ad lol. They offer a free one-month trial so if you’ve always been interested in trying out audiobooks, definitely take advantage of this opportunity!

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing this. Until next weeks list!

What have you been reading lately? I’d also love to hear your thoughts on audiobooks!

February Bakes: Carrot Cake Muffins

Baking is one of the activities that I enjoy a lot. It’s relaxing, fun (especially when everything turns out the way it should) and the end result, be it good or bad, always gives me a sense of satisfaction and leaves me with a smile on my face.

As part of February self-love, I wanted to do more baking and I’m aiming to bake at least once a week. I thought I’d share with you, dear reader, a simple baking recipe a week.

This week, I made carrot cake muffins. You can actually make a cake version instead of a muffin version but our house lacks a cake tin so I thought I’d be creative and create muffins instead.

The first time I made this carrot cake was for my sister’s 20th birthday. She absolutely loves carrot cake and I’d never made it in my life so I thought I’d give it a shot. The verdict was 10 out of 10, which is awesome. And if memory serves me right, I baked it in a loaf tin because we didn’t have a cake tin. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever baked this cake in a cake tin. But at least you know that no matter what you put it in that’s oven proof, you’re going to get the same results!

What I love about this carrot cake recipe is the flavours and textures you get. It’s not just a plain and simple cake; it’s got walnuts and sultanas in it and for the icing, I tend to use vanilla flavoured. Plus, it’s incredibly moist and doesn’t seem to dry out even after a few days.

It sounds very more-ish and that’s exactly the point. It’s not something you’d want to eat everyday, but something you’d want to enjoy every once in a while. If you’re not a fan of sultanas, walnuts, raisins, feel free to either omit these from the recipe or replace them with your dry fruit and/or nuts of choice. I’m sure it’ll come out just as spectacular. With the icing, you can also go plain or even use a lemon flavouring which I’ve tried and loved. If you don’t want icing, that’s completely fine as well as it still tastes delicious (yes I’ve tried it without icing). You do what works best for you.

 The best more-ish carrot cake ever

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

baking ingredients

¾ cup self-raising flour

¾ cup wholemeal flour

1 tsp mixed spice

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp baking soda

I cup raw sugar or coconut sugar

¾ cup chopped walnuts

2 cups grated carrots (approx.2 large carrots or 3 medium carrots)

½ cup sultanas or raisins

2 tbsp desiccated coconut

3 large eggs

1 cup rice bran oil or canola oil

1 tsp vanilla essence

Cream cheese icing ingredients

50g butter, softened

125g cream cheese, softened and chopped

1½ cup icing sugar

Method

Preheat your oven to about 180 degrees celcius (160 if your oven is fan-forced). Grease your muffin/cake/loaf/whatever tin with spray oil or butter. You can also use muffin cups if you’d like or add baking paper.

Sift the self-rising flour, spices and baking soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the wholemeal flour and sugar on top.

Add the walnuts, carrots, raisins/sultanas and coconut and stir all the ingredients until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, oil and vanilla. If it comes out all gloopy and gross like this, don’t panic; it means you’re doing it right.

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Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into your tin of choice. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until cooked (you can tell it’s ready when a skewer/chopstick inserted into the center comes out clean). Remove the muffin/cake from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

To make the icing, beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined. You then want to stir in the icing sugar, then beat the mixture on high speed until it comes out light and fluffy.

 

When your cake/muffins have cooled, swirl the icing over the cake. I like to add pumpkin seeds and any remaining walnuts and grated carrot over the top to make it look really pretty. In this instance though, I didn’t have anything left except pumpkin seeds.

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I must admit, I’m not the best when it comes to icing anything but I try. I’ve always believed in the saying, it’s not how it looks but how it tastes.

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… and trust me this bad boy is effing delicious (lol my hand looks funny).

I hope you give it a try! I’d love it if you’d share your recreations with me by tagging me on instagram (@michellerosewrites).

Do you bake? What’s your favourite thing to bake?

Getting hygge with the heat

I was recently introduced to a new word/concept – hygge (pronounced hue-guh, not hee-gi as I keep thinking it as). It’s a Danish word that can’t be described using one English word. It’s probably best described as a feeling of cosiness, content, satisfaction; a moment that’s just plain special from enjoying the simple things in life. It even gives me fuzzies just saying the word. But it’s not just confined to a feeling – it’s also about your surroundings such as your home décor and with loved ones.

We’ve all experienced hygge in some way, shape or form without realising it; reading a book under the tree, enjoying a hot chocolate in warm, fluffy pjs in the middle of winter and even just watching TV and chillaxing are all examples of hygge moments. While I would describe it as ‘hygge moments’, to the Danish people hygge is their way of life. Research* tells me that the word hygge was made famous in the UK in 2016; so famous that it earned a spot in the Collins Words of the Year for 2016. Soon after, the Americans started raving about it. So I guess it’s fair to say that hygge is quickly making headways around the world (although it makes me wonder why it took me so long to get acquainted with the word? Maybe it’s because I’m from New Zealand and it takes a million years for things to get down to this corner of the Earth…).

While the words ‘cosy’ and ‘fuzzy’ are usually associated with wintertime, I think hygge can also be experienced in the summertime. No I’m not asking you to break out the fluffy polar bear PJs and wear it in this 24 degree heat or start a fire in the scorching warmth and sit next to it while attempting to enjoy a book and also trying not to melt. There are lots of different ways to experience cosiness and well, hygge, even in the heat.

Here’s are my top six ways of creating and experiencing a hygge atmosphere in the hot weather: 

Have a bath

Don’t scream or panic. I promise you the heat hasn’t got to me and I’m not crazy. Yet. You know how we have warm baths in winter because it’s relaxing, warming and oh so comforting? Well, why not have a cool bath in summer? It produces the same effects – relaxing, warming and comforting without sharing your water space with others a la the beach or the public pools. Plus you get the added bonus of adding a bath bomb to create your own little galactic and glittery cocoon with bubbles. Delightful.

To create a more comforting and cosy atmosphere, why not light a candle, pour yourself an iced tea and read a book? I promise you won’t die of hyperthermia if you stay in the bath for hours. Here’s a pic of the last cool bath I had:

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Plant it up

Summer makes me think of bright colours and light, airy spaces. Adding succulents and/or flowers in a room is guaranteed to create a summery atmosphere – I guess in some ways it’s like bringing the outside to the inside (if that makes sense). Just being near flowers makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

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I love the aesthetic of succulents and the fact that they’re low maintenance. Its unique and pointy leaves adds an edge to wherever you place it. I got these at the farmers market and absolutely adore them. If you’re in New Plymouth, it’s from the Saturday markets behind the old Mill.

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Enjoying a cuppa

I love tea. Earl grey, jasmine green tea, lady grey, chamomile… I could go on. But when you’re hanging in average 25-degree weather, the last thing you want is a hot drink. Nah uh. But if you’re like me, you don’t want to give up your comforting beves…

Why not enjoy them chilled by throwing in some ice cubes? I particularly enjoy a cuppa cold chamomile.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the tag on my teabag #preach

Relax under the shade

 I think I’ve made this pretty clear in heaps of my posts but I love reading. While I never mind my surroundings when I read, I always find it more enjoyable when I read in a cosy, chilled spot.

In summer, it’s hard to find a cool spot indoors… unless you have air conditioning or are sitting directly in front of a fan. I don’t have the pleasure of either of these luxuries so I like to sit outside and pray for a breeze.

In particular, I love sitting under the trees to get a bit of shade.

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My parents’ garden is set up pretty nicely. It’s like a little wonderland and I spend a lot of time reading in the hammocks. I always find myself with a smile of my face when I’m swinging in the hammocks with a book or kindle in my hand. I know we’re not all lucky enough to have a set up like this but I’m usually quite content with lying on a blanket under a tree. Pure bliss.

IMG_3734Even my cat Stanley enjoys a bit of under tree relaxation.

Breaking out the summer sheets 

In wintertime, I usually break out the dark coloured duvets and bed sheets. To me, the darker shades are comforting and warm and it makes me want to dive into the sheets and I know I’m going to be nestled in fuzziness. In summertime, it’s quite the opposite. To achieve the same feeling, I break out the bright, light and airy sheets.

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I love these sheets. If you’re in New Zealand, you can get them from Briscoes. They have a cool, hippy vibe to them and the flowers, leaves and bright colours makes me so happy. Plus its so cool that after a long day, all I want to do is just dive into bed and unwind and enjoy the moment of being relaxed and joyful.

Have a picnic

There’s nothing like embracing summer by heading out into the great outdoors and taking in some sweet fresh air. Enjoying a wine/beer/alcoholic bevy of choice with a fruit and cheese platter under a tree at a park and enjoying a gorgeous view is one of life’s simple pleasures. And guess what? You can do this with family and friends as well. This is sharing a hygge moment with loved ones at its finest.

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So there you have it folks; my list of six things you can try to get hygge with it in summer.

Are you into the hygge life? I’d love it if you shared your hygge experiences and thoughts! In particular, what you do to hygge in the summer!

February Feats – What I’ve been reading #1

Welcome, welcome, welcome to my very first weekly spread that’s part of my February self-love series!

BOOKS. Books. books. I friggin’ love books. If I could spend the rest of my life doing one thing, I can confidently say that reading would be my pick. As long as I get an unlimited supply of books that is. And for free. I’ve got a list of books that are absolute classics to me and I’d recommend them to the world but I think I’ll save the ultimate book list for another post.

I haven’t been reading as much as I used to or as much as I’d like to. I used to always have my head buried in my kindle, even when I’m walking. My favourite Disney princess is Belle because she embodies compassion and intelligence and the library that’s gifted to her by the Beast is one that I dream I’ll have in the future.

Anyways, you get my drift. Reading is one of my passions and I’m planning on doing more of it in February. I think it’s definitely one of those self-love things you can do because reading fuels the imagination and transports you to a different world. It’s so comforting to be able to sit in a cosy corner, with a cup of tea and just read. To others, your surrounding is just silence but to you as a reader, your surroundings are vivid, loud and busy – and they’re all fuelled by the power of words.

I’m a HUGE fan of crime/thrillers/mystery. I think it’s because I have this weird fascination with the broken mind, the abnormal and the “why” behind why people do the things they do. I also like the idea of being an investigator/detective/psychologist but I don’t know if I’m passionate enough to follow those career paths. I’m sharing this because you’ll soon find a theme in the genre of books that I read.

So if you find reading a comforting activity and are looking for book recommendations, here’s a list of what I’ve been reading lately:

  • ‘The Secrets She Keeps’ by Michael Robotham

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This was the last book I read and I tell you, it was so gripping I couldn’t put the damn thing down. It took me two days to read, probably could’ve been one if I didn’t have life and responsibilities to tend to.

The book is about two women, Agatha and Meghan, who live really different lives; Agatha works in a supermarket stocking shelves and Meghan is a stay-at-home mum who lives a seemingly lavish lifestyle consisting of mummy lunches and yoga. However, they both share one thing: they’re expecting babies around the same time. Something happens and their paths cross and an unlikely friendship form but they both have secrets that threatens to expose itself after a life-changing event occurs.

Wow that description sounded dramatic (lol) but I tell you it’s a really good book. If you’re into high suspense that keeps you on your toes and an unexpected turn of events, definitely check it out. I particularly enjoyed the way Robotham crafted the two women and the way they express themselves. I found them so believable and could actually picture them in my mind. Definitely a 10 out of 10.

  • ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ by Mark Manson

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This one is a bit different from the last book I read. I actually read this one over the Christmas break but I wanted to bring it up because I did enjoy it and it’s little nuggets.

I guess this is a self-help book without being preachy, if that makes sense. I’ve never actually read self-help books so I can’t really compare them but I enjoyed this book because it was kind of relatable. What I enjoyed the most about the book is the way Manson uses real people, like musicians, as examples and you learn a lot about the success and failures (that inadvertently turns into success) of others. He also uses humour and he tells it like it is which I love. I found myself laughing quite a bit because of how he describes situations. The book is also filled with quotable quotes and one of my favourites is “The path to happiness is a path full of shitheaps and shame”. Oh! And another favourite is “The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important”.

My father asked me once to explain Generation Y because he just doesn’t get them. I told him to read this book to unlock the secrets to why Generation Y’ers think, breathe and live the way they do. So yeah, I guess that’s another way I would describe this book. I didn’t think it inspired me to want to get out there and make significant changes in my life but it did make for a light-hearted, eye opening and somewhat educational read. I’d score this book a 9 out of 10.

  • ‘Uncommon Type: Some Stories’ by Tom Hanks

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I love Tom Hanks. Hands down I’d say he’s one of my favourite actors. So when I was in Whitcoulls one day and saw that he’d written a book, I knew I just HAD to read it, even if it was a how-to on soiling your underpants.

The book is a collection of seventeen short stories and they’re all linked in some way by a typewriter. Not the same typewriter, but just a typewriter. The stories cover different genres and characters from all walks of life; from children, to adults, to immigrants, and there’s bound to be a loveable character for everyone. There are photos of different typewriters in all the stories as well which I really liked because I love typewriters! One day, when I’m settled and have a permanent-ish home, I’d really like to own one.

All-in-all, I did enjoy the book but like many collection of short stories, I favoured some more than others and I don’t have a particular favourite. I thought that Hanks’ writing style is somewhat typical of him – adaptable and comical. I must admit though, I just read the whole book in his tone of voice with a slight Southern drab. This could be interpreted as a good or a bad thing but for me, I like giving characters a voice. If they’re from Scotland, I like hearing them speak in the Scottish accent in my head. Is that weird? Maybe it is but its kind of hard to imagine these characters if they all just sounded like Tom Hanks. If you are a fan of listening to the characters in Tom Hanks’ voice, you should check out the audio book because he actually narrates it!

So there you have it; a list of three books that I’ve read. I know this post is pretty darn long but it felt appropriate to give you a bit of a background on my passion for reading and the types of books that I enjoy reading.

Thank you so much for sticking around if you made it this far! I hope this wasn’t too difficult a read and that you’ll check out at least one of these books!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Watch out for next weeks book list!

February is for lovers

I can’t believe we’re already 6 days into February. Where did January go? And what did I do in January?!

I definitely think it’s true what they say – the older you get, the faster time goes. So rather than sulk about the inevitability of time moving forward (and in quite the hasty pace!) we might as well embrace it and take each day as it comes.

So February… I think it’s one of those months that people hate, particularly singletons. It’s the month where we bring out the dusty Bridget Jones DVD, re-read ‘PS I Love You’, ‘Twilight’ or ’50 Shades’ and relive that perfect romantic scenario in our heads, probably turn to desperate measures and PAY for Tinder so we can extend our range in the hopes of finding someone even if it means that they’re thousands of miles away, hook up with the first person that pays attention to us at the bar because we don’t wanna be alone on V-Day… yerp you get my drift. Let’s be honest though, we’ll probably spend the day at work and the evening lounging on the couch overdosing on rom-coms while devouring a tub of ice cream and enjoying a cheeky bottle or two of red so we don’t have to face the reality of being alone.

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To be honest, as a singleton, all I think about these days is how I’m pretty darn lucky because I get to save money and I don’t have to be disappointed if my partner/lover/hubby/bae forgets or god forbid, just buys me chocolates and flowers and that’s it. Also, do we realise how much businesses and restaurants profit from V-day? All the overpriced gimmicks like teddy bears, chocolates, flowers… eek. But I guess us singles stand to win the days AFTER V-day because cheap chocolates. HOLLA.

I know I sound like some lonely, old, jealous fart that’s hating on V-day because I’m going to be all alone. I really don’t mean to sound hateful. There’s nothing wrong with V-day and if you’re going to be spending it in some gloriously romantic way then I’m genuinely happy for you. I’m not going to lie – the older I get, I’m happier spending the day with family, friends or even myself! After all, it’s just another day.

To me, February shouldn’t automatically make you cringe and give you mad anxiety about finding a v-day bae (hello past me!). It should be just another a month; one where you’re focusing on you and spoiling the hell out of yourself by doing the things you want to do. It should also be a time where you spread love and joy by spending time with your family and friends.

I’ve decided that this month, I’m going to take self-care very seriously and spend time with myself and do things that I really enjoy like reading, baking, walking, having a bath, and being optimistic and happy where I can. I’m going to buy myself flowers, a card, bake myself a cake and make myself a mighty fine dinner and be my own trap queen.

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I’m also going to be sharing with you a series of posts showcasing the bits and bobs of things that I enjoy. I’m thinking Wednesdays will be dedicated to book favourites and reviews, Fridays will be dedicated to different ways of unwinding from the week and Sundays will be dedicated to a baking recipe! I may tweak this a bit but this is just to give you a general idea of how I’m planning on documenting my February self-love journey.

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I’m really excited about putting together this series! It’s gonna be fuuuuun!

What do you do when you’re giving yourself some self-love time? Do share!

Answering Union Jack’s call

I don’t know why I spent a good two minutes laughing at the title of this blog post. It’s probably because I thought I was being really funny and smart at 1.55am but then it hits me that it’s neither funny nor smart but I keep it anyways as a reminder of how ridiculous I can be.

Anyways, hello, I’m neither funny nor smart but I’m here to talk about probably the most exciting and scariest decisions I’ve made in my life to date: moving to London. Eeeek!

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So when did I make this decision? Well, it’s always been in the back of my mind. Since I was about 12, I’ve always wanted to go to London and Europe in general to explore castles, hilltops, visit historical spots and touch all the forbidden items in museums and art galleries and set off alarms, get arrested and deported back to my native NZ… okay I digress, but you get my point. But I never did it when I was younger because life got in the way. I was either in a long-term relationship, building a long-term career or just swimming in debt because of my shocking poor money decisions.

Now that I’m no longer single, no longer working on my career since I’ve put it on hold and a little bit better with my debts, I feel like it’s finally time to do this. I know for a fact that if I don’t and I settle, I’m always going to wonder ‘what if?’ and I’ll probably go through a painful midlife crisis that includes abandoning my partner/husband and children to go on this crazy ‘finding me’ trip. So yeah, it’s time.

I’m going on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, which entitles me to stay and work in the UK for two years. I leave New Zealand on 20 March from Auckland International and head to Doha and then leave Doha to London on 21 March. I arrive in London at 6.20am (LOL) and I know you’re probably like wtf but I chose my flight based on two important factors: price and shortest wait time. After buying my tickets did I realise I was arriving super early AND my flight from Auckland to Doha is 18 hours long – the longest flight in the world, literally (YEAH WTF). But what’s done is done and it’s part of the adventure so I’m not gonna cry about it. Yet. Maybe I’ll do a blog post on the experience… (let me know if you’re actually interested…)

I’m going to be staying with an old work colleague while I find my feet and I’m so grateful for her letting me crash on her floor. I know it’s going to be a hella busy first week filled with job interviews with different agencies, picking up my BPR (I think that’s what it’s called), sorting out a bank account, working out how to use the god damn public transport system, finding a flat, etc etc etc. Gosh I’m exhausted just thinking about it all but I know deep down that it’s all gonna be worth it and I’m gonna be okay.

I mentioned last year that I’ve been quite unwell. The bad news is that I still have my off days but I don’t think I’m going to let that get in the way of my plans. I’ll of course be discussing the trip and my worries with my doctor before I go but I’ll be sure to register with a GP as soon as I find a flat (apparently the UK have these rules where you can only be registered to a GP in the area that you live in). Worst case scenario is that I end up hospitalised in the UK or I have to cut my trip short and come home earlier and that’s totally fine because by then I would’ve done some travelling and gone outside of my comfort zone. So yeah, I’ve thought about this, I haven’t neglected this pretty significant detail.

So how am I feeling about it now that I’ve got 61 days left to go? Well, I’m shitting myself. There’s always the doubt of whether or not I’m going to find a job, of whether I’m going to find a place to stay, whether I have enough money to get by before getting a job and a steady income, and hell what if I hate it? There’s always going to be the thought of failure if I do come back early but I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay because I repeat, at the end of the day I’ve travelled and I’ve tried it and yeah.

There are so many exciting things happening when I get there. I’m going to see Flight of the Conchords at the O2 (I think it’s there) and I’m going to Prague in the first week of April. I’m still planning other trips away in April because it’s birthday month so why not treat myself!

While I’m shitting myself about this, I’m also really freaking excited and I think excitement outweighs fear. I’m really looking forward to the sites, the experiences, the people, the journey, the tears (I know there’s going to be lots and lots of tears be it joy or sorrow) and the memories.

I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about the journey for now. I’m thinking I’ll do like a moving blog series closer to the time but for now, it’s back to the list of things to sell, downsizing my stuff, to-do lists of things I need to do before I bail and yeah… thanks for reading and see ya next time!

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Have you moved away from your homeland? What was it like? I’d love to hear all about your experiences and if you’ve got any advice!

Oh, how I’d wish he’d go away…

Have you ever heard the poem ‘Antigonish’ by William Hughes Mearns? I feel like it’s one of those poems that we encounter at some point in our lives, be it in a song reference, a movie/TV show reference or even somewhere on Pinterest/Tumblr/Reddit.

It’s quite an eerie poem and has such an eerie feel and while it sends shivers down my spine, I really like the fact that it’s the use of words that’s making me feel that way. It basically reinforces the power of words and how it can affect emotions, moods and the imagination.

Anyways, the point of this blog is that in the last week, I’ve been feeling rather bleak and empty. I feel like my emotions are best represented by this photo – we found a wreckers yard somewhere in the middle of nowhere. It was raining and misty and the yard was so empty, so abandoned and so creepy.

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Anyways, back to what I was saying; the nasty voice inside my head has been making frequent visits and I just find I hate myself and everything about me, physically and emotionally. The other day, we had a German couple stay with us on AirBnB and they asked me how old I was. When I told them I was 27 and they said they were 21 and 20, I lost my mind. They were travelling the world and were so independent and I’m living at home with my parents. Lol. I was so embarrassed I practically avoided them for the rest of their stay. That’s another thing; I find myself being so embarrassed about the way I look and wanting to look ‘normal’ and blend into the shadows, not stick out like a sore thumb in the crowd.

Let me just say that I’m never this hard on myself. Sometimes the critic rears his ugly head but it never lasts long and the power of positivity usually kicks him back into his cave. I love myself 85% of the time and while it’s not 100%, it’s damn well better than what it’s been in my younger days and I’m still working on my self-love. I also want to point out that I’m not embarrassed about my current situation of being at home with my family; it’s great being able to spend this time with them before I head off overseas for god knows how long. I also really like my blue/green hair because I feel like a magical unicorn and I like being different and being able to express myself with my style but today, oh today…

What does this have to do with ‘Antigonish’? Well, the man that keeps appearing but isn’t there reminds me of that negative, self-loathing voice that keeps appearing but really isn’t there. He rears his ugly head, says some nasty things, but at the end of the day, I tell myself he’s just a voice, he’s not really there and he’s only as real as you let him become. He’s also as present as you let him be.

I know it’s never an easy feat dealing with him when he arrives. This is what I do when he visits: I sit there, listen to everything he tells me, mope around, shake him off, make a plan on what I’m going to do to address his words so I can make a change and prove him wrong, sometimes I end up feeling helpless because I’m weak so I let his words linger and I mope some more but when I’m finally done with moping I get up and get on with it and do something I love, such as:

  • Walk/wander/run
  • Listen to some guaranteed happy tunes
  • Write
  • Harass my family
  • Play with my cats
  • Nap
  • Read
  • Practice a craft I’m trying to master
  • Chores
  • Have a bath
  • Binge watch something

Not gonna lie, some of these things I don’t actually love but they serve as fantastic distractions.

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It’s never easy when he rears his ugly head to belittle you and make you feel hopeless and ugly. But you gotta remember that he’s only as strong as you let him be. Have the courage to step back and say fuck off because while the man is waiting there for you and you’re looking for him in the hall, you won’t be able to see him at all.

So, go away, go away, don’t you come back anymore…

Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

Do the dark days hit you as well? What do you do to get rid of the little man and his hideous words?