Category Archives: Travellin’ Tuesdays

Travellin’ Tuesdays : TFL Are Not My Friends

Today is the first time in 4 days that I have been able to look forward to a simple journey to work. For the entirety of this bank holiday weekend, during which I have worked 3 days out of 4, TFL (Transport for London) have royally fucked up my day.
Every weekend there are tube closures, it is the bane of every Londoner’s journey. However this weekend, the powers that be truly outdid themselves, closing, delaying or someway altering 4 out of the 5 routes by which I can get to work. I was prepared for the tubes, I was prepared to allow extra time to bus, train and then tube my way through central London on one of the busiest weekends of the year. What I wasn’t prepared for the closure of said bus and train services, meaning that I had to use such a massive roundabout route that it probably would’ve been quicker to invent a jet pack.
So thank you TFL, for closing my nearest tube lines, delaying my nearest train service, and shutting off the traffic lights on an extremely busy intersection next to my house, meaning that every bus had to miss out my neighbourhood. Thank you so very bloody much.

Rant over.

But still, REALLY TFL?!

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Travellin’ Tuesdays : Becoming A Productive Commuter

So I’ve been away for a while, unfortunately not getting my life together, just working and wasting away in a minimum wage job while desperately seeking the start to my career. Endless application forms, a few unsuccessful interviews and I’m still without a meaningful position in life. But hey, I’m not bitter. Not at all. Nope.

So I figured that instead of spending my days glued to job boards I might as well do something productive and fun…as well as still looking for a career. Now writing a blog every day is quite the commitment, in fact it’s that level of commitment that was my undoing before. So I figured that the best time for me to set aside to write every day was my journey into work, 20 minutes of sitting on a tube with nothing but Sims Freeplay and endless ‘Mind the Gap’ announcements to entertain me. I’m not saying that I won’t falter, there will probably be days when a sudoku puzzle will simply have to come first, but I’ll do my best. And if I can make this blog into something worthwhile then all the better.


[Image via]

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Travellin’ Tuesdays: Nike are bastards, but they make good adverts

While I’m sceptical about how truthful this advert is, it’s still a good example of why people NEED to travel outside their comfort zone. This guy didn’t just go to places close to his home country, he went all over the world.

Yes, it is completely unbelievable that anything mentioned about the premise of the film can be relied upon as fact, but if anyone watching it decides that they’ll go somewhere new for their next holiday then it was worth it.

Who cares about Nike shoes when there’s a whole world to see?

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Travellin’ Tuesdays: Don’t go west, go English

Being of the unemployed persuasion, my recent desire to go travelling again cannot really amount to much, unless I take the advice of the Enjoy England campaign and explore my own fine country for a while. Like a lot of travellers, I was struck by the continued aversion to domestic travelling by everyone not a tourist. In NZ, undoubtedly the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, I met people who didn’t even seem to see the point in travelling between the country’s North and South Islands. Back then I was astounded by what I saw as a complete lack of curiosity, but then I returned to Blighty and set about thinking of ways to leave it again. If we are familiar with a place, or associate certain things with particular regions (incest in Norfolk, anyone?), then we are less inclined to explore with an open mind. But in the last few years I have visited more of the British Isles then ever before, and there have been very places to which I would be reluctant to return. But that’s travelling, you’re not going to like every single place, but it’s worth your time to give it a chance, just in case it turns out to be the most amazing experience of your life.

So go England. Go Wales. Go Scotland. Go Ireland. Go to every corner of our country, and see if it doesn’t give you a better understanding of what it is to be British. Whether it’s a hike around the Giant’s Causeway, a rugby match at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium, a wild night out in Glasgow or a surfing lesson in Cornwall, do it.

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Travellin’ Tuesdays: Top 5 songs for survival while travelling

This week I’m going to count down the five best songs to listen to while travelling. Whether you’re dealing with a sudden setback, feeling homesick or, most likely, having the time of your life, there’s a song for every situation…no. 5 in particular helped me through a tearful moment when I had to leave my beloved New Zealand


Leaving on a jetplane, a classic to start off your trip


Basking in paradise and chilling out to Rosi Golan


For the low points, from a falling out with your travelling mates to running out of money at exactly the wrong time. The Ting Tings will Hang It Up and pick you up


For when you’re in awe of life and mother nature, only Lissie will do


Going home, both happy that you get to see friends and family again, and sad that the adventure is over. Mr Buble is all that you need to reconcile yourself with the fact that it’s over, but don’t worry there will plenty more


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Travellin’ Tuesdays: Spanish beagles made me cry

This week I am breaking with tradition and talking about someone else’s travels rather than my own. I StumbledUpon this video of beagles experiencing grass and sunshine for the first time, after living in a Spanish research lab for their entire lives up to that point. They are obviously nervous and scared by their new LA surroundings, but it is painfully clear that they crave affection and contact with both humans and each other – another reminder of why it is beyond reason to imprison them in a lab cage.

For more details see the Huffington Post’s story here :

To find out more about The Beagle Freedom Project, who organised the dogs’ new life go here :


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Travellin’ Tuesdays: Great Barrier Reef in a hurricane? Why the hell not.

The beautiful Whitsunday Islands

This week I thought I’d talk about visiting the Great Barrier Reef, arguably one of the most astounding sights on the planet. My friends and I took a trip there whilst backpacking up the east coast of Australia, we didn’t get as far north as Cairns but were still able to visit one of the world’s natural wonders – albeit in unusual weather conditions.

Out of our entire Australian experience, myself and four friends spent the most time in the Whitsundays, as three of them were booked onto a scuba PADI course. I have to admit that I envied their exciting adventures underwater (the Whitsundays are definitely the dullest place to spend 8 days when you have nothing planned), but my complete phobia of all things sea related meant that I wasn’t too put out. What did affect my mood was the less than perfect Aussie summer, in which I experienced hurricanes, terrible storms and humidity like you wouldn’t believe, not the best situation when you are camping in the cheapest, and shittest, tent known to man. Seriously, it cost £25 on ebay, had a hole in the top and wasn’t even vaguely waterproof. We were thinking that vents and waterproofing weren’t relevant when you’re camping in the SUMMER. We were wrong.

Anyway, we had booked onto a boat trip to a pontoon in the Reef and were highly excited about entering Nemo’s world. The fact that there were two hurricane-like storms on the horizon slightly dampened our spirits, particularly my friend Sophie, who is infamous for getting sick just by looking at the sea. It turns out that the remaining four of us were the only people on the entire ship not to get seasick during the two hour journey to the pontoon. If you thought that being surrounded by 50 people throwing up could put you off life in general, you were right. Needless to say, we were the first off of the boat when we reached the pontoon, straight into the wetsuits and out into the water.

The pontoon had a number of different activites, such as a glass bottom boat and a water slide, but I was most interested in actually getting into the water. Particularly because it was a roped off area monitored by a lifeguard – I should mention that I have a pathological fear of sharks. As in, I can’t even look at a picture without flinching. But I felt safe, and I was really excited to see some fish that were more exciting than those of the gold variety. It was so peaceful yet bustling with life at the same time, and I was definitely replaying “Just keep swimming” in my head for a good half an hour. From iridescent cuttlefish to, what shall be forever known as ‘Dory fish’, the view was quite spectacular and I was sad to get out and return to a pontoon filled with seasick families determined to get their money’s worth despite overwhelming nausea.

I met up with my friends, who had left for a diving experience and a spin on the glass bottomed boat, they gleefully informed me that they had seen a reef shark. A REEF SHARK. In the water. Near me. Yes, they’re small and harmless, but any creature with ‘shark’ in the name instantly terrifies me and, well, I was not impressed.

However, shark terror aside, the experience of seeing up close the kind of wildlife normally reserved for an aquarium visit more than made up for a previously dull week in the Whitsundays (I should mention that I was ill with laryngitis and skint during this time as well). But it was all part of the character building, can you tell that I like that phrase? I must have used it every week so far, but with good reason. The whole point of travelling is to experience something new, and it may not always be a positive experience, but it will definitely leave you with a good story to tell.

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Travellin’ Tuesdays: Samoan buses are all kinds of crazy

I’ve left this post a little late as I was indulging in my latest obsession of watching The Daily Show’s Lewis Black segments. He rants, I get addicted.


Just your average Upolu bus...

But this week, I’m revisiting my character building experience on a bus in Samoa, in which my friend and I took the simple decision of taking a bus to the nearest town on the island on which we were staying. We consulted the staff our the fale (beach hut) resort, and waited patiently at the roadside for an hour in the midday sun. Finally, after a bus had already ignored our flailing hands, our salvation arrived and we boarded the brightly painted and WOODEN army-style truck, and took a seat on one of the childsize benches. We got some inquisitive looks from the other passengers, but in our eyes, we were being intrepid travellers getting to grips with the true culture. Our mistake. For after a short while, it became painfully apparent that we had chosen to be adventurous just as every single school on the island finished for the day, and the already cramped space began to fill up pretty quickly.

As the only non-islanders, we had been given our own bench, which was barely enough space for two adults as it is, but as more people boarded there seemed to be a trend beginning, in which four people sat on one bench – two people sitting on laps. Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the average Samoan body shape, but they are known for being rather Rubenesque, as well as statuesque. Put simply, it seemed physically impossible to fit four people of the larger persuasion onto one tiny bench, and yet it was happening in front of our very eyes. Eventually, it was made clear to us that we were expected to follow suit, so I took up my place on my friend’s lap (thankfully by the open window) and our journey continued.

After about 30 minutes of trying to ignore the tingling sensation in my legs, I made the mistake of trying to move them, trapped as they were between three other pairs of legs, and pain blossomed from my toes upwards. I tried, I really tried, to be content with gazing out of the window at the island paradise streaming by – the azure ocean, palm trees heaving with coconuts, and the idyllic fale homes – but I couldn’t pretend that I was comfortable any longer. It was at this point that my friend decided to tell me that she gets carsick. Fabulous. I was trapped on the lap of a nauseated person, encased by curious locals who seemed to enjoy our discomfort, and I wasn’t sure if I would ever walk again.

It turned out that, after another hour on a neverending but beautiful coastal road, we finally reached our destination – a town which housed the island’s only ATM – and we gratefully disembarked amidst the locals’ goodnatured staring. That’s when we discovered that, no, we would not be able to walk without each others’ assistance for quite some time, so completely dead were our legs. Bereft of life they rested in peace, if we hadn’t been attempting to walk they would’ve been pushing up the daisies. It was painful and humiliating, yet (as my friend loves to say) purely character building. Once we had looked around and used the ATM (the sole purpose for the visit, as we had neglected to factor the beguiling cocktails at the hotel bar and scuba excursions into our budget), we considered getting a bus back. And then, like a ‘Hallelujah’ moment, with shafts of light directing our vision, our eyes alighted upon our saviour – the taxi rank. The car may not have had door handles, the radio may have played Christian music for the entire journey, and the driver may have picked up one of his friends along the way, but the important thing is that we each got our seat and the use of our legs. And we arrived back at the hotel just as the bar was opening, crazy blue cocktails – complete with umbrellas- all round.

In looking for a suitable photograph to go with this post (the ones I took do not do the buses justice) I stumbled upon many other accounts of travellers in similar situations. And we all share the same sentiments – yes, the journey itself can be pretty hellish, but it’s all part of the experience of being a traveller who engages with culture rather than ignores it. Would I do it all over again? Sure, it was another interesting story to add to the others that you seem to collect when backpacking – it’s all part of the experience.

[Image via]

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Travellin’ Tuesdays: How to Die on Fraser Island

Lake Mackenzie

This week I thought I’d share my experiences of Fraser Island, a sand island off the east coast of Australia. My friends and I spent 2 days there, managing to dodge the certain death that we thought was coming to us, courtesy of a 2 hour safety briefing prior to our departure.
In that space of time, we were told about the multitude of ways in which to die in two days of driving, camping and generally getting sand into crevices that we didn’t know existed.

For a start there was the sand itself, we were warned about washouts, hazards that occur on the beach when a section of the ground is swept away leaving a hidden mini-cliff that had rolled many 4x4s in the past. Subsequently our vehicle remained at a respectable speed for the duration, which meant that we became stuck in loose sand next to an ever-nearing tide, forcing us to wedge ourselves headfirst underneath the car to dig ourselves free before the saltwater violated our engine.

Next were the rip tides, just in case the many dangers of the island itself were enough to put you off, a seafaring escape was out of the question. And while we’re on the subject, sharks, crocodiles and every poisonous jellyfish imaginable also called the waters their home. It is fortuitous that the island boasts a number of stunning lakes complete with shores of white sand and crystal blue waters, so that you can have a relaxing day contemplating just how lucky you are to be alive.

Lastly, there is the island’s wildlife, a rather conspicuous aspect of our trip, in which we made sure to be dingo safe (crossing your arms over your chest is scientifically proven to stop wild dogs wanting to attack you, fact.) as one strolled past our campfire without a second look. While the snakes left us alone, the Australia-sized spiders seemingly enjoyed our girlish screams and thus made their presence felt at every opportunity. It was at an Aborigine-run campsite on the first night that I heard, and can still hear to this day, the clicking of pincers emanating from what I can only describe as two tarantulas, a short distance above my head. I try not to imagine what the pair was discussing, other than who was to eat me first. I was, therefore, determined to ignore the spiders in the camp toilets, whose range in size and colour would have excited even the most casual of zoologists, but I was glad to head off to a jellyfish covered beach the next morning.

The Champagne Pools

In our quest to stay alive, we swam in the shallows of a cool lake filled with curious turtles in search of toe-shaped morsels, explored a crusty shipwreck that made us think of our next tetanus shot, and floated nervously in The Champagne Pools alongside microscopic yet deadly jellyfish. It’s probably a good idea that I neglected to inform my mother of the above risks until after I had returned, but as we left the sandy paradise behind, there were only two words I could think of to sum up my experience: character building.

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Travellin’ Tuesdays:Tramping in a Kiwi wonderland

So my brilliant new direction has had one major flaw: me. This weekend has been exceedingly busy so I haven’t had a chance to update my blog until today. But anyway, back to Travellin’ Tuesdays. I have to start with New Zealand, as this was the first place that I truly experienced as a backpacker, and ever since day one I have been head over heels in love with the place.

One of the many art installations that are dotted around Wellington

From The Southern Alps to Coromandel, there’s a whole planet’s worth of ecosystems contained on the two small islands, and in pretty much every encounter with one of the 4million Kiwis you will find out just how small the world can be. On one such occasion, when our rental car had broken down right by Mt. Ngauruhoe (or Mt. Doom to my  fellow LOTR enthusiasts), it turned out that the only AA service person within reach was a neighbour of the park ranger who was helping us out. The only downside was that our only hope of salvation was also the Fire Chief for the area, and if he had an emergency call then we’d have to wait. Luckily it was a perpetually soggy day and we were on our way in a matter of hours, onto the next town where our car broke down again – but not before attempting to impersonate Darth Vader after a particularly lengthy jog.

It seems that everything I experienced during my year in the Land of the Long White Cloud was a mixture of character building and sheer beauty, I pushed myself beyond what I thought were my limits and came out the other side with a completely different outlook. I’d like to think that the same would have happened if I’d spent the year somewhere like California, but the truth is that in travelling halfway around the world into the unknown, I think that I unwittingly found my home.