Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Decision made!

image stolen from Amy's blog!

I have finally made what could possibly be the biggest decision of my life and it’s taken me about a year to do it.  I have decided to sack everything off and go to New Zealand!  There are many reasons for this which I will try and make sense of below, but now I have had time to get used to the idea, I am feeling excited (also apprehensive and shit scared, but currently 70% excited).


The seeds of this idea were first planted in my head back in 2014... me, Amy, Rob, Cesca and David were on a night out – one of the last where we’d all be together as Amy and Rob had decided to go travelling and live in NZ for a bit.  We made a drunken decision to all go and move to NZ and continue life as before but in a different country.  David and Cesca discussed it and bought a one way ticket to India (not quite NZ but with the aim of ending up there after they’d done a bit of travelling).  However, me being me, chickened out and stayed put in London…where I have been since and have been trying to escape but not quite managing it.  So the idea has been in my head for a while, especially when Lisa and Mark announced out of the blue they were also going to live in New Zealand for a bit!!

I wasn’t in the best of places at the beginning of the year – not really loving my job, single, I had lost half my friendship group to the other side of the world and feeling generally low because it was the winter.  On the first weekend of the New Year I decided to stop moping and start living – I booked a Trek America trip (with the original intention of not coming back – flights from LA to NZ were really cheap!) but again, I chickened out and booked a return flight – I wasn’t ready.  I decided to use Trek America to see if it’d cure my wanderlust for the time being, and to see how I’d cope being thrust into a group of random people I have never met before.  I bloody loved it, and felt sad to be leaving everyone else who’d cleverly stayed on for another week to do their own exploring of LA.  However it did cure my wanderlust for a bit, and I stayed put, but there was still a little itch there. 

I booked up a few weekends away – Bucharest, Madrid and Berlin, determined to have little adventures throughout the year- each one a little bit more solo than the first.  They reconfirmed that hostels aren’t as scary as I first thought, I can navigate a city in a different language and probably most importantly I can make friends (even if they’re fleeting!). 

I had set a deadline to myself that by October I had to decide what I was going to do.  In August I had a catch up with Lewis, and mentioned my vague plans.  A couple of weeks later in the post arrived a birthday card from him with $20 NZ in it, the accompanying note saying “for your NZ trip, which you WILL make”.  (This nearly made me cry and put a smile on my face for the rest of the day!!!) I also received a lovely birthday card all the way from NZ from Amy, with (by her own admission) subliminal messaging on it…I would say these two things pretty much made my mind up!!

Applying for the visa and actually booking my flight was a whole other thing which I only recently got round to doing – I had put it off because it seemed too real and definite.  But with badgering from my mum I did it.  I had a bit of a malarkey with the visa – I applied for the 23 month one as it was the same price as the 12 month, and ever after a bargain I thought ’23 months for the price of 12!”.  However I didn’t read the T&Cs and for the 23 month one you need to have a full medical check and chest x-ray which costs £300…not quite the bargain I thought!  Luckily immigration let me change my visa to a 12 month for no additional fee, and now I have loads of life admin to do including:

-          Get rid/Sell everything (well as much as possible) as mum has limited storage space for my stuff (if anyone wants anything let me know!).
-          Cancel the majority of my direct debits
-          Tie up loose ends on the house bank account – shut down the british gas, thames water accounts, take my name off everything like the council tax, tv license etc
-          Sort out a bank account that will be good for being abroad
-          Consolidate all my savings into one account and let the bank know I will be using my card overseas

Actually in a list like the above it doesn’t look to daunting, but this past week I have been stressing out about it all.  I started to list stuff for sale on the internet but no one wants my stuff , boo!!! I can't believe no one wants to buy my pink glittery Jesus...who wouldn't want one of those!


To be honest I don’t really have any, beyond landing in Auckland on 28th December.  I am hoping Amy will put me up for a week or so, so I can acclimatise and spend NYE with her, but then I need to find my own way.  I will be arriving in high season so worried busses and hostels will be booked up already and stressing out about what I need to plan.  I am considering doing the South Island first as the weather will be best there in the summer, spending a few months travelling and working and ending up in the North Island. 

Regards work, my rough plans are doing volunteering on farms, hostels, bed and breakfasts in return for free board – I fancy doing something a bit different to office work.  Once I am done travelling then I will look to get a ‘proper’ job to replenish my spent savings, and find a base somewhere. 

Anyways so that's my big news!! I handed in my notice today and my role has gone on the vacancy list...no turning back now!  

Sunday, 11 October 2015

ANOTHER belated catch up

A bit of a catch up as the last four weekends in a row I have been away and not had much chance to blog.

The first week in September I went to an adventure talk.  It was led by two guys Sepha knows, who cycled around the world in 9 months a year ago.  It was REALLY good and they had some brilliant tales to tell.  The two things I took from it are...

One: if you’re thinking of going on an adventure, just do it. You won’t regret it.

Two: most people are good.  They travelled through countries most people wouldn’t consider ever visiting – Mongolia, Kazakhstan and others, and only ever encountered friendly people curious about what they were doing, they never felt endangered.

Dan and I went to a bike powered outdoor cinema one Friday night.  As part of Peckham and Nunhead’s free film festival, there was an ‘eco’ cinema on Peckham Rye common.  I think they should have it every night when the weather is nice – it was lovely!! We got some fish and chips and sat on picnic rugs on the common, and then cycled for twenty minutes in an attempt to burn off our dinner and keep the film going.  Sometimes I love living in London for weird little things like this!!

Bex and I went to a free event at Aqua Nueva on Regent Street.  They were having an open evening to entice new customers so we had free canapes and drinks from 6pm – 9pm which was pretty swish! There was also photobooth and an AMAZING magician who made us hold a pack of cards in our hand and then turned it into a block of glass.

the magician was talented, and FIT

I joined mum and my step dad on a weekend away in the Wye Valley.  It’s very beautiful down there and I definitely want to go back and explore further – and revisit the places I went to on my year 6 residential trip away.  There’s also an interesting looking museum in Littledean, Littledean Jail – the sign outside says ‘not for the easily offended’ which automatically makes me want to go in.  Anyone been?  We spent the weekend walking round the local area doing geocaching, and eating lots of food, including a £6.25 roast dinner with a selection of 11 different vegetables in a proper old school local pub where we were the only people who didn’t know everyone else and everyone sounded all ‘ooo-arrrr’. It was perfect.

The following weekend was Inverness, which I already wrote about here.

And the weekend after that, I was in Cardiff for Kim's hen do!! No rest for the wicked.  The weekend started off a bit panicky as I realised I had two (very) flat tyres, and Kwikfit didn't have any replacements in stock and recommended I didn't drive down to Cardiff...Of course I did the sensible thing and drove down anyway!! Luckily it was all OK and the next morning I woke up extra early so I could go to the garage and get the tyres sorted so I didn't have to miss out on any hen do activities.  It was a very expensive weekend indeed :( We had a nice treasure hunt round Cardiff, followed by a Mr & Mrs quiz which was very cute and made Kim cry lots (well done Stuart!), and a night out in town.  I was shattered from pretty much everything else I have been up to and let the side down by going home at 1.30am, the others stayed out till 3 and got up early for the 10k Mens Health Survival of the fittest run - mentalists!!!

Bex and I opted out of the race, not fancying getting cold and muddy and sweaty, and instead headed off to Caerphilly to explore the brilliant castle.  It's really well preserved and they do free tours which we jumped in on.  We had a late brunch at Morrison's Cafe (don't judge us!) before heading back to Cardiff to catch the girls finishing the race.  Kim had a slight incident whereby she started to run up the travelator, fell, slid down, and her tshirt got caught in the bottom.  She was properly stuck until they turned it off and extracted her now baggy and hole'y tshirt from the bottom of the travelator.  It was hilarious (though potentially could have been quite dangerous) and she laughed it off in good grace before completing the race in a VERY respectable time of 3 hours and 4 minutes, especially considering they'd had about 4 hours of sleep and were very hungover.  Superstars!!!

super moon on the drive back

This week I have mainly spent it catching up with Cesca and David, I ran home which I was very proud of myself for, and I have been super busy at work which is LOVELY!

Went out last night with Cesca and David which was much fun - went to old Brixton haunts the Prince Albert and Dogstar where I bought shots...which I soon regretted at 3am this morning, urgh.  I would say you live and you learn but I never seem to learn....at least I made it longer than David, who was too drunk at 12am, went out for a fag and wasn't allowed back in....they headed off and I stayed out with a bunch of random boys I met who then also left, so feeling a bit deflated the night had come to a premature end, I headed home also and fell asleep on the sofa at 1.30 after being attacked by the neighbours cat, the little bitch.  I am SO HAPPY I have Cesca and David back in my life :) :) :)