Pre-travel goodbyes

I love the inside of this card.

Happiness is living your dreams whilst you are wide awake…

It is getting to that point in which I receive the good lucks and all the bests. When it starts to hit me and the feelings of excitement dwindle a little, the realisation hits me of the sacrifices made in moving to another country. I won’t see my family for a little while. My ‘little while’ may be a long damn time for some, it depends how you perceive one year.

They need me and I need them. I also need to live, if my family didn’t do the same in their youth, what stories would they have to tell me? Would I be here at all?

Thank you to the two Scottish Margaret’s for this one!

The reality is that even though my family will miss me as much as I will miss them, we all have a duty to self progress. To be a little selfish and to treat ourselves as much as we want to treat those we love. What better way to show how much we love family than to give them something to be proud of? To show them how well they have raised us, the ambition and drive placed within us materialised in the form of a plane ticket and new footsteps in unspoiled sand.

My visit to Texas back in 2010 was the longest I have been without family, thirteen months. Oddly, I was always someone preffering to stay at home. I loved my home comforts. I assume university helped me out of that comfort zone, after my second trip to New York City during my degree. I realised long-haul wasn’t a scary experience and thanks to the Jet-stream over the Atlantic, the return journey home was a pretty short one. If I remember rightly it was only 6 hours 30 minutes (ish), sharing the whole back row with one friend. A journey back home from another part of the UK may take that time (driving of course) and that would be without such homesickness. Homesickness for me is prevented by not thinking of how far away my family are in miles but in time. No matter where we are in the world, family are pretty much in reach within 24 hours.

Please forgive the quality of the images below, I used a cheap camera. I didn’t have a smartphone back then and have never owned a professional photography camera. FYI, the first picture was from my first visit in 2008, when the foundations were still being cleared and prepared for One World Trade Center and memorial. My visits to NYC have been 2008, 2010 and 2011. The One World Trade Center is under construction in a couple of images, snapped in 2011 after I left Texas and flew from New York to London. I still didn’t own a decent camera!

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The first two visits were only short breaks, five days each. I remember flying to Dallas on that first long stretch away from home. As the green card was being placed on my tray and the captain announced how long of the flight was left, it finally hit me that I would be away for a year, starting there and then. A year! I am glad it hit me when it did, if I felt the same feeling of reluctance earlier I may not have bought my plane ticket. The feeling didn’t last long, my brain instantly stimulated by new accents and weather, new foods and sports. When I did need to contact home I could do in an instant thanks to Facebook and Skype. The whole experience wasn’t as daunting as I feared it would be whilst I filled in the green card. I still firmly believe it was the best year of my life.

I also seem to remember more of that year than I do all the years since combined. Despite having many more trips, a year of travel consists of so many stories and new experiences. Similar to how we feel about aging, time flies the older we get. As a child everything is new. Every colour and word, every animal and sound. The more our days become increasingly similar to the last, the less we notice the hands moving on the clock. Travel for me is a time machine slowing down life. When I think of being away for such a long in Australia come September, I think of the benefits.

Like a gym session, don’t worry about how crap you feel doing it, think of the results!!

I hope my day improves…

I didn’t have the best start to today. I stared at the empty shampoo bottle that I forgot to replace- again when I stumbled into the shower. I got out and ready, eagerly awaiting my peanut butter and banana on toast. No bananas.

Off to the store I went.

Pie and a pint… Ultimate comfort food? Enjoying a quick bite and blog before work parts us once again.

Headphones on, the cheap plastic pair that I have to wear whilst I look for decent pair that I lost one day before flying to Spain. I plodded along to the relevant aisles. I grabbed what I needed and walked to the checkout, a choice of three very busy tills as the additional seven or eight checkouts were not being used. I haven’t actually seen them in operation, they get as much use as that elevator in The Big Bang Theory. I’m pretty sure they’re props, too.

Aisle 4 it was. As I was just about to place the items onto the conveyor belt (I decided five items were not enough for a basket) the shampoo slipped from the loose grip I had of it. The lid didn’t just fly off it snapped in two, the floor at this moment seeing more shampoo than my hair has in the past 48 hours. 

I was that annoying customer delaying everyone. I was wearing my headphones surely doubling the annoyance, a millennial clearly distracted by music making me incapable of even the simplest of tasks. ‘Sorry about that, I’ll pay for it at the till?’ I asked as the assistant cleaned up the mess.

‘No you will not!’ She replied in a mildly aggressive tone. If anyone was walking by I’m sure they would have assumed that I had asked if I could kick her whilst she was on her hands and knees from the delivery of her response. 

And at times like these such a response is justified. If a response is good willed, awesome. Customer service isn’t always smiles and face stroking, in fact it can seem a little more genuine to me.

Claiming to know the minds of others

I really don’t like when people claim to know my mind, or the minds of others for that matter. The same people that claim I cannot comprehend how they feel are often the ones telling me how my mind works. It is pretty crazy to be told how I think by someone with a completely different brain. How can this be reasonable?

‘Those who claim to be atheists are often those who have experienced trauma in life and do not know how to balance the sovereignty of God with the trauma they have experienced. They feel that God has disappointed them, so it is easier to say there is no god than to try to work through the tough questions.’

Beco do Batman- Sao Paulo

It isn’t reasonable, nor will it help gain any respect from the person being told how they think. Imagine if this was the case with tasting food, take this lovely seafood sharing platter I had before work as an example. It was very good and I adore seafood. We went full holiday mode and decided to chill in deck chairs by the river with ice cream, it is a shame that work disrupted such a chilled day but I cannot complain that I made the most out of the early afternoon. Something I aim to do much more when I work late.

Think of how mentally suffocating that is. To try and express yourself and to be wrong. ‘No, you don’t think this. This is how you think. Okay?’ A certain lyric from Killing in the Name comes to mind for these people.

Going back to the quote above, I do in fact agree partially. This isn’t a sign of weakness. There is nothing wrong with agreeing with someone

The things we do differently 

As much as I prefer sunny weather, I love getting up, eating a full English and gazing out of a rain soaked window. 

I love it because it isn’t universal. Some people hate the thought of black pudding or baked beans during breakfast, maybe opting for fresh pieces of fruit looking out onto palm trees and crashing waves. Sadly I cannot have that today, but there is a great cafe hidden within my apartment complex that does a lovely fry up.

As much as I desire civilisation to merge and rid ourselves of the cultural bias that has us thinking differently and constantly at war, I love how our tastes and home comforts vary. I love how some people have never tried baked beans on toast and may one day give it a go on a trip to the UK. I love how there is still so much I haven’t tried and will do for the first time in, hopefully, the near future. 

It is seemingly paradoxical that I love to travel and experience other cultures, at the same time I wish to live in a world in which ideologies don’t continually divide us. Sometimes my blog may seem to contradict itself and my thoughts may do the same, bare with me!

What did you have when you woke up today? It’s 16.53 here, and I am still full.

Why do I even like crazy golf?

I don’t know anyone that hates crazy golf. Do you? I don’t believe you. It can’t be true.

Also, does anyone know the difference between crazy golf and mini golf? I’m pretty sure they are the same thing. Regardless, I learned a couple of things from my (overly competitive) round in the Spanish sunshine. 

It is pretty much the same as anywhere, how it should be. It’s the universal language of fun! This course was decent, the greens were in good condition, there was no litter and the ball didn’t get stuck under the windmill. This and the fact that the obstacles were powered and moving means I have to give it a 8/10. Some places cannot be bothered with giving that extra experience and actually switching the power on. I don’t like my mini golf experience to feel like a tour around cherbobyl. It needs to be alive and kicking.

Take water. Golf is hardly an exhausting sport, but with that midday heat beaming down a bottle of water is a wise investment if you want to remain consistent throughout the round… Especially if the night before consisted of beers until 5am.
I bottled the win. I was neck and neck until the 18th hole… I went last and needed to get it in one if I was to beat my closest friend-come-rival, all of my mates achieved this hole except me. It took me four goes… and roughly four beers to get over blowing it and coming second.

I may have to delete this picture from my camera roll, it reminds me of despair and failure…

P.s. I googled the difference, apparently mini golf is taken more seriously than crazy golf, which is purely for fun. I find crazy golf competitive enough!

Restaurant typos

It’s the weekend and I’m sure you are probably all up to no good and drunk already so I thought I would leave you with a typo I found at an Italian restaurant.

Can you spot it?

Apparently it goes very well with mussels… Shite wine is the future but I think I’ll take a beer.

Don’t tolerate any shite this weekend let alone drink it. I hope you find some fantastic typos too!

My taxi driver Dave

Meet Dave. Every now and then I will grab a taxi into the city when I am either late or in a lazy mood. Sometimes, I will get one specific taxi driver and today, it was him. Opening the passenger door felt like eternity.

You know those same conversations you have with someone that doesn’t remember you? Groundhog day, a bad case of déjà vu for the whole journey. It starts with Dave asking me if I like football. I do, however if I say I do, I know I won’t get a word in edge ways for the next 15 minutes. Thankfully I have been in this situation before. I am prepared.

‘Erm, not really, I never get the time to see the games, I am usually working’

This didn’t work. 

I still didn’t get a word in edge ways. In fact I managed to take this photo of St James Boulevard, the road leading up to our stadium which you can see above, hidden behind some modern high rise hotels and student accommodation. He had no idea I took the photo…

I feel I could have stuck my head out of the window and took a selfie without him realising. The longer the conversation/ lecture went on, the more he convinces himself I must like football. I know I do, but I told him I didn’t. Isn’t it funny how people can be so into something that they choose that you like it? I am not mad, I find it hilarious. I was chuckling to myself most of the way.

He is a nice guy and what can I say, I would rather a friendly taxi driver than one that was miserable. I don’t need those vibes from people, however a little more variety in conversation would be desired. I wonder what it would have taken to not have listened to a one way conversation about football… 

What if I told him I hated it? That it was the last thing I would have wanted to talk about? I honestly don’t think this would have made much difference.

‘Well that’s a shame, I was going to ask how you felt about our most recent signing. Did you know that he…’

Oh Dave, you beauty.