Leaving London

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In eight days I fly to Hong Kong to begin my travels around China and South East Asia. After finishing work last week I’m filling my days with lots of fun travelling-related things, like paying £50 for a rabies vaccine, getting my legs waxed and shopping for the best insect repellant bargains. With my departure date on the horizon, I have recently been spending all my spare time doing lots of lovely social things (plus drinking a not-so-lovely amount of tequila). I’m finally starting to get in the mood for an adventure but until now I’d been too busy having a really great time with my friends to worry that much about leaving them.

I would be ridiculous to say that I wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect of what is essentially an indefinite holiday, but I hate these big-time goodbyes, they are so open-ended and unreliable. I cried when I sold my beautiful bike. Watching a stranger steer my shiny blue Pashley out of the door was worse than when my parents made me give them my cat because I ‘accidentally’ let her get pregnant. I cried after saying goodbye to my boss, after having dinner with my sister. I’m clearly gearing up for the emotion-extravanganza that will be my leaving party. No amount of waterproof mascara is going to hold this together.

Eighteen year-olds swan off on gap years without hesitation or apprehension, so why is this such a big deal to me? Maybe because I’m older and my lifestyle is already that bit more established, it’s more of an effort to break away from it. I’ve been drenched in reassurance; my friends will all still be here, the world is a small place, there’s Skype and Facebook, I’ll make hoards of new BFF’s travelling… I know. It will be fine. But I’m still going to be a drama queen when it comes to saying goodbye to everyone. After all, it’s my (leaving) party and I’ll cry if I want to.

The Spark

Occasionally I can lose sight of why I write. I sit down at my computer with the best intentions but instantly become distracted by the evils of the internet, washing my hair, or cake. I have a tendency to lose my zeal to tiredness or a feeling of obligation… I assume it’s just my contrary nature!  So then it’s always a pleasure when – in agony aunt terms – ‘the spark’ is put back into my relationship with writing.

In case you missed the Harry Potter love-ins of previous posts, J. K. Rowling’s infamous series made quite an impression on my youth and I carried my passion for it into adult years. Last weekend I took a trip to The Making of Harry Potter, Warner Bros. Studio Tour, which includes the opportunity to ride a broomstick, if you’re OK about being the only person in line who is over twelve years old… I was. For those who aren’t so keen on Potter et al, it’s just a pretty fascinating insight into how a colossal film series is created. FYI real- life Butterbeer is a sickly, teeth-destroying liquid evil.

Whilst yes, I should probably stop proclaiming my passion for Harry Potter over my blog, I won’t ever feel embarrassed by how much I love everything about the books. The things we adore and grow with when we are young really do affect our interests and aims as an adult. J. K. Rowling’s wonderful, magical world was indeed an inspiration to me, and spending a Harry Potter saturated Sunday afternoon reminded me of this. Sometimes I forget that writing, and creating, is something I want to do and not just another thing on my ‘to do’.

How Are You Feeling?

889670_MEDIUMSometimes – especially at this time of the year, when the pavements are wet and the frowns are well engraved upon the faces of Londoners – I don’t want to go out and explore the world, meet my friends, drink, dance and be merry. Sometimes I just want to stay at home, under my quilt with a bowl of homemade soup and a book…

*The Book* How Are You Feeling? by David Shrigley. I first came across Shrigley’s artwork – cartoons, taxidermy and sculpture – at his Brain Activity exhibition at the Southbank Centre earlier last year and was instantly attracted to his humour and dark honesty. How Are You Feeling? is a fantastic collection of his hilarious, truthful, shocking and brilliantly created illustrations, thoughts and observations.

*The Soup* This Green Detox Soup is delicious and perfect for combating post-Christmas food guilt, oh and it’s incredibly easy to make. I added a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds which were tasty, I’m practically Jamie Oliver!

A Stack of Maps

I have always loved the way maps look; the neat lines containing countries and continents, the expanse and adventures that the shapes represent. Pale greens and pinks on blue, finger length rivers, minuscule print spelling out the familiar and the unknown. At markets I thumb through stacks of yellowing vintage maps, imagining how they would look framed against my white wall. Recently, on the back of this year’s travelling-related excitement, I can’t stop browsing the internet for cute and kitsch map designed items. Here are the links to a few of my favourites that are pictured above…

*World Magnet Map – Urban Outfitters, Map Lovers Mini Journal – Etsy, explore Giant Modern World Map Print Poster – Etsy, Vintage World Map Stud Earrings – Etsy, Map Storage Box Set – Urban Outfitters, World Map Shower Curtain – Urban Outfitters, LETS RUN AWAY Giant Modern World Map Print Poster – Etsy*

Cheers to 2013

IMG_2440Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a merry Christmas and wonderful holiday celebrations filled with loved ones, lots of Champagne and many games of charades!

This New Year’s Eve as Big Ben chimed midnight I raised my glass in an especially excitable toast to 2013. This Year will see me doing a bit of hemisphere hopping; leaving London at the end of February and heading off for some adventures on the other side of the world (more on my travelling plans to come).

I don’t know when I will next be back in the UK so of course my excitement is tinged with nerves, and a little sadness at leaving my friends, family and beautiful London behind. However I am well and truly ready for an adventure and overcome with anticipation for the year to come, the amazing things I will experience and the people I will meet. Cheers to that!

Beach Reads

IMG_2356I’m not much of a sunbather. My mind buzzes, I’m up and down, in and out of the water, tapping, chatting, annoying everyone who is dozing around me. However pop me on the beach with some factor 30 and a good book and I’ll be quietly content for the entire day. Whilst on holiday I’m putting these rare empty hours to good use and catching up on some much missed reading time. The following books are currently keeping me entertained in between frozen margaritas:

The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore, an unchallenging romantic ghost story which beautifully captures 1950’s post war life and even proved to be a little eery when read on a bright caribbean beach!

This Side of Paradise & The Beautiful & Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald,  I have only just begun the first novel but Fitzgerald is already typically creating fascinating characters and the provocative narration of their relationships, developments and travels – so easy to slip into with the purr of waves and warmth of the sun around me.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman, I’m reading this as it was nominated by my book club and it’s such a fun book; precisely and hilariously written – the perfect light-hearted beach read.

Notes from a Small Island

It’s been a little while since my last post; caught up in a pre-Christmas present wrapping, dinner attending, wine consuming, frenzy I wasn’t able to give my blog or my books the attention they deserved. However now, after a long plane journey full of the loudest babies I’ve ever encountered, I couldn’t feel further from frantic, frosty, December London. This year I’m spending my Christmas on the tiny, beautiful island of Anguilla in the Caribbean.

It’s hot and peaceful. I have multiplying freckles, sand in my hair, I can spend hours reading under palm-trees and drinking unbelievably strong rum & cokes on the beach… although I will always associate Christmas with cold weather, cosy evenings, holly, home baking and mulled wine, I’m quite happy to have a change from the traditional this year!