31 days of happy – JULY week one

So I’ve decided to start writing down little things in my days that make me happy, regardless of how big or small. I decided to do this whilst eating a mean sandwich I just made for myself, providing a perfect example of how it’s the little things that count. It is a mean sandwich. Mmm.

DAY ONE – Wednesday 1st July

This morning, Paula and I cycled from Kinghorn to Kirkcaldy (HILLY), went to an hour-long Body Pump class and then cycled back (an EVEN MORE HILLY WAY). It was a rare, beautiful morning with lots of sunshine. The body warmers even had to come off. Yup. There was also apparently a heat wave today – I still find it hilarious how much this country freaks when the sun comes out. OH MY GOD IT’S 20 DEGREES THERE’S A HEATWAVE WE’RE MELTING.

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Day Two – Thursday 2nd July

Today is the day of the mean sandwich. I was going to take a picture of it, but it fell apart… *cough, I ate it too quickly, cough*. Chicken salad is so simple, yet undeniably beautiful. YUM. I also spent a lovely afternoon with my mum today – after another stressful interview this morning we went for lunch and had long overdue mummy/Kirstie chats. We had some pretty epic thunderstorms last night – I’m so glad I slept through it, I don’t do well when there’s thunder and lightening nearby – and mum said she was half expecting me to run through to them in the middle of the night, like I used to when I was frightened when I was a kid…. THANKS MUM 😀

(pre-interview chilling under a tree)

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Also today I found CityBoxing – the gym I trained at in Auckland – on Instagram, so I spent a while feeling nostalgic whilst scrolling through. BUT looking back on it very positively, and hoping I’ll be back training there again sometime soon. It also reminded me of the time I “uppercut-ed” myself in the face, in front of the instructor. Uh oh.

Day Three – Friday 3rd July

So today, to be fair to Scotland, it was genuinely SO HOT – yay! I think I may actually be a little bit burnt… I went for a lovely cycle this morning then lay in the sun with a smoothie before rushing around doing washing and hanging it out (making the most of the sunshine, ya? or turning into a domestic goddess…) and meeting Katie and Fran for lunch in Kirkcaldy. Lunch with three glasses of wine… 🙂 it was really lovely catching up especially when the weather was so nice!

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Day Four – Saturday 4th July

I woke up this morning and it was absolutely heavin’ it down. BYE SUMMER. So off I went to work to have shoes and boxes thrown at me for four hours, then it was BBQ time! Thankfully it brightened up throughout the day and I had a lovely evening with Lauren and Louise… and Toblerone. 🙂

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Day Five – Sunday 5th July

I have never been more hungover in my whole. EVER. I spent most of today feeling sorry for myself curled up either on the floor or in bed in the foetal position before heading for a much needed sauna and steamroom detox with Paula. I’m feeling a lot better now, but oh my god I swear I’m never drinking again… she says now. I’ve also spent a lot of this evening reading travel blogs (in particular, A Dangerous Business – she makes Scotland sound like a pretty awesome place to visit which is always cool to read! http://www.dangerous-business.com) I think I can officially diagnose myself with having the Backpacker Blues. CRY. I love reading about places to go and see but boy is it giving me the travel bug strong.

Day Six – Monday 6th July: DAD’S BIRTHDAY

So today was my lovely dad’s 50th and we spent the day swinging around and climbing up trees at Go Ape! It was SO much fun, and the rain held off til we’d finished. Now I’m super tired, so here are some pictures:

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Day Seven – Tuesday 7th July

Today was fairly average as days go – I had a shift at Clarks and dropped the vacuum cleaner on my foot which is now very painful; a little kid also nearly kicked me in the face; and I managed to headbutt the ladder. Ouchies. I went for tea and scones with mum this morning and we decided that she’s going to come backpacking around South East Asia with me – isn’t that right, mum? 😉 I’m very excited to get an early night – I think I might watch a Disney movie in my onesie, I’m in that kind of mood. 🙂

 

 

 

nothing seems to be going to plan – but that’s okay

It has been one month since I landed back in Edinburgh, in the rain. Over the past few days, you guessed it, it’s been raining. Except yesterday it was quite sunny but of course I was working… I think I’ll need to start taking Vitamin D supplements!

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So by now, I had hoped I’d have a full time job and be saving for and planning my next big trip away. The latter has definitely happened – I have about ten or twelve different routes to get me back down under, just nae money to get there! And I think I’ve been in Scotland too long, as I just said “nae”… uh oh.

Last Monday I started what I thought would be my full time job for a good few months… sadly I lasted one day, just. You know those things you can just tell aren’t going to work out from the second  you arrive? Life is too short to put up with cra11124481_10206605165465045_154993862_np from people, and if I’m going to be here for a good few months yet I want to find a job slightly comparable to my last one. I was having the “it’s a job and money” vs. “yes, but you’re miserable and it’s day one” debate with myself within about half an hour of getting there. So I just decided, stuff it, I’m not putting up with this, nope. 🙂 I know the right thing will appear, it’s just the waiting game that isn’t so enjoyable. But hey. I hope that in a week or two I’ll be writing another blog saying “see, Kirstie, I told you so, don’t worry”…..

I got a parcel in the mail last week from the lovely Rowan in NZ – and in it, among other things, was PINEAPPLE LUMPS. Yum. They didn’t last very long. Yum. It was so nice getting the package from NZ – it mostly had a few things in it that I’d forgotten to pack when I left so I knew what was going to be in it, but it still felt a bit like Christmas when I was opening it. Mmm. Happy K. THANK YOU RO!

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So since I’m only working weekends in the beloved shoe shop at the moment, I’ve decided to fill my days with running, cycling and sit ups. My legs are like jelly at the moment as I went to Boxfit with Claire, then cycled home along the back country road which is a gruesome uphill for about 5 or 6k then downhill for about 2k at the end. OUCH, my legs are screaming. But the burn is good… a painful and fiery yet moreish and addictive burn. It’s also so good to be boxing again, even if it is only once a week. I do miss boxing in Auckland – ah, the days when I could run 5k, do two classes back to back then run 5k home. I’d never felt so fit and healthy, and the people who helped me get there then have raised my ‘expectations of myself’ bar – so thank you. I’m definitely on my way back to that level which feels awesome! I just have to stop being tempted by pineapple lumps and biscuits and I’ll be sweet…

11656148_10206605153464745_868217602_oI ‘m actually quite glad to be back working in the shop that we will keep unnamed, even though it’s probably quite obvious which large shoe shop chain I’m talking about… Anyway. It has it’s moments. Not all of them positive. You find yourself talking to the shoes and the boxes in the stockroom, asking them where they are as if playing hide and seek with a five year old. Then when you find what you are looking for, you have to negotiate with the ladder and the four other boxes that are on top of the box you need. Once a few have fallen on your head and feet, leaving scratches and bruises that won’t be fading any time soon, you can take the pair out to the customer who has decided that they have been waiting too long and so have buggered off, or have simply decided that they don’t want those shoes anymore. BUT THAT’S OKAY because the customer is always right, ya? Kids have sneezed in my face, pulled my hair, kicked my shins and stomped their new school shoes that flash on my toes. But aside from all of that trauma, it is actually a lovely place to be for those special moments.

Like last weekend I was, I’ll be honest, tired and hungover, and not looking forward to the thought of working a Sunday. I was having a pretty average day, then a little one year old boy totally made my day. He was so, SO cute, smiley and giggled at every face I pulled (even when I didn’t realise I was ‘pulling’ a face… I’m not going to read too much into that). We got him his first lil pair of shoes and while I was fitting them on him, he was stroking my face and hair so gently, and looked fascinated by it. I looked up at him and smiled and he didn’t break his gaze into my eyes until, bless his little cotton socks, he needed to sneeze which seemed to give him quite the fright. We had a little dance in his new shoes before he looked up at me, arms stretched out and made a noise that I could only assume meant “up!” so I picked him up and we had a cuddle before he started touching my nose again. Man, I love little kids. 

So that’s what is going on in the world of Kirstie at the moment. I’ve been listening to the Ricky Gervais podcasts, again – they’re so, SO funny I’d definitely recommend. If any of you have listened to them before, or have seen ‘An Idiot Abroad’ you’ll recognise the face below and hopefully find it as funny as I did.

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off to see the grandparents – the lake district

… I’m currently a bit stuck for words because I’ve just watched the Season 5 Finale of Game of Thrones and I’m trying to figure out a way to un-watch it, or somehow erase from my memory what just happened. Not okay. Nope. Hating on you, George R. R. Martin. But anyway, let’s not go there.

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I’ve spent a lovely couple of days down in the Lake District in England at my grandparents’ house, possibly for the last time before they move up to Edinburgh – clearly their main reason for moving is to be closer to their favourite grandchild, no? If my lessons on how to use Facebook and how to find my blog over the past couple of days have paid off, Grandma, you will see this and be able to tell me I’m right 😉

I hopped on a train down from Edinburgh – which happened to be first class, because for some weird reason that I’m not going to question, it was half the price to go first class, so why not? I got myself comfortable with a glass of wine and settled in to enjoy the beautiful scenery whilst listening to the Wicked soundtrack (again, I know, don’t judge).

I completely forgot, however, that Edinburgh to Carlisle only takes just over an hour. When the lady over the speakers said, very calmly, “we are now approaching Carlisle”, I totally panicked. I threw everything into my bag, necked my still half-full glass of wine and jumped off the train only to discover I had three and minutes and 29 seconds until my next train was due to leave. I broke into a sort of hobble-run kind of movement – I hadn’t had time to pack my bag in precisely the way it needed to be packed in order for everything to fit properly, so there were pens and the corner of my book stabbing me in the leg, the water in my bottle was swooshing backwards and forwards and the train tickets were poking out of my back pocket, gradually escaping with every stride of my wonky-almost-run-fast-walk. I made it up and over the stupidly steep bridge they have in Carlisle train station and leaped onto the train in a far less relaxed fashion to my previous one, and it pulled away just as I sat down. Phew. Then comes the stage of “recovery from the panic and getting really hot and flustered”. But I was on the train, tickets still in pocket. All good. 11637846_10206471391240773_1576428385_n 11292623_10206471403801087_710350268_n

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So I got here, all safe and well. The three of us drove along by Wastwater today – a stunning lake in the Wasdale Valley surrounded by mountains like Scafell Pike, the highest in England. It’s part of the Three Peaks Challenge, where, often for charity, people will climb the highest mountains in Scotland (Ben Nevis), England (Scafell) and Wales (Snowdon), and usually aim to complete all three, including the drives between, in 24 hours. CRAZY. But I kind of want to do it one day. Anyway, it was quite a cloudy day. The Lake District, weather-wise, is like an extension of Scotland only sometimes it’s a little bit warmer, so I, as usual, was a bit chilly. We stopped for lunch at the lovely Wasdale Head Inn where my general nomad life plans were discussed and my reassuring reasons for not being at university explained. I’m not sure how convinced either grandparent was, but you just gotta trust me, m’kay? Now here are some pretty pictures to look at:

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11638530_10206472121819037_838683925_oI’m looking forward to the rest of this week – I think it will be my last relatively calm week for a little while… more on that to come. I’ve also just done my New Zealand tax rebate forms, again, because I managed to lose the first lot on my way back over here – I thought I’d posted them, but apparently not as I found them in my bag in Sydney, and never saw them again… oh well, if I’ve done it right this time around, I’ll be off on a little trip in September, I think!

 

awesome things about where I’m at right now

It’s SUNNY!

Well, right now it is, and it was yesterday and is supposed to be tomorrow. Everybody is
just in a better mood when the sun is out. In Scotland when the weather brightens up, shirts come off, shorts replace jeans and the whole country flocks to the beach before you can say “oh the weather’s aafy nice the day, eh?” It definitely makes Fife a much nicer place to be.

When it’s sunny, it’s BEAUTIFUL around here

I love that, on a clear day, you can see across to Edinburgh from where I live.

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My MUM – and dad, and charming 16 year old brother who is now taller and wittier than me, of course

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My mum, dad and I went on a really nice walk on Sunday and it was a tad windy. Just a lil. We went for lunch and they asked me what I wanted for my 21st birthday. I was confused because my birthday isn’t til December 27th (just FYI… ;)). They then revealed that…. I’m so excited, I can’t even… I’M GOING TO NEW YORK IN JANUARY WIRub-of-the-green-...-Idin-007TH MUM. *slow deep breaths*. When I saw Wicked for the first time a couple of years ago in London, it instantly became my favourite musical. Since then I’ve wanted to see it on Broadway because, of course, that’s where the curtains first opened for this magical show back in 2003. Idina Menzel (most commonly known now for being the voice behind LET IT GO, LET IT GO, CAN’T HOLD IT BACK ANYMORE – and now it’s in your head, you’re welcome) and Kristin Chenoweth, playing Elphaba and Glinda – the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North, from the Wizard of Oz. Wicked is the “untold stories of the witches of Oz”: it follows Elphaba and Glinda’s turbulent friendship throughout their school years together, leading up to the well-known Wizard of Oz story beginning, and beyond… “Are people born wicked, or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” That’s the question! Go see it. It’s amazing. Cool. I’M SO EXCITED.

… JET SKIING

I messaged my friend, Paula, last night to ask if she wanted to go for a bike ride. She replied and asked if I wanted to go out on the jet skis. All of a sudden, my idea of a leisurely cycle along the coastal path while the sun set seemed extremely dull, in comparison anyway. It was an absolutely stunning evening last night, the water was so calm and fairly warm, for Scotland… We had such an amazing evening, and it made me feel like I was on holiday even though I knew all of my surroundings like the back of my hand. I could see my house while we were out on the water, yet I felt so far away from day-to-day life.

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11403421_10206688911118473_8388955853634839333_n Not knowing what I’m doing or what is going to happen

I’m teaching myself to enjoy and embrace uncertainty, but most of all to enjoy my time off work! Hopefully I’ll spend the next few months working solidly so I need to make the most of having time to myself to relax. I went for my cycle this afternoon which was lovely – really hard after the Body Pump class Claire and I struggled through this morning, but the views along the coast are just breathtaking. Photos never do it justice, but it is absolutely stunning. I’m taking each day as it comes and really appreciating my surroundings, and actually doing things. It’s so easy when you’re home to sit in front of the tv and not really do much – which you need to do a certain amount, for sure – but I’m trying to make sure I get my natural dose of Vitamin D while it’s here, and keep busy.

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I haven’t gone a day yet without thinking a lot about New Zealand and Australia, nor the people I met there. You know who you are. I know it will ‘settle’ the longer I’m home, but part of me doesn’t want it to because I know I’m going back next year and I don’t want to move on from it, and I want to stay excited. Well, I hope. That’s the thing – because I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’ll be next year, I want to keep my memories of it as alive as I can in case it’s longer than I expect before I get to go back. But, I need to enjoy being home while I am because it will fly by. Ah. Confusing. Blah. 🙂

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whizzing through australia – my final stop, melbourne

I LOVE MELBOURNE. It’s one of those places that is just, for want of a better word, cool. The cafe culture, the street art, the guy who wears a rabbit fancy dress costume and jams on the electric guitar on the weekends… it’s definitely one of my favourite places to be. 10690296_10205299241457761_2096736622591955541_n

It’s always nice arriving in a new city, especially at night, knowing you’re going to meet a friend who can just show you around so you don’t have to do much thinking about where you’re going. My backpack was on it’s last legs, I was tired and my ears hadn’t quite recovered from my first flight let alone the other three I’d been on since then, and it had started to sink in that this was my last stop before I went home.

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My friend Marcel, who I hadn’t seen in about four years, came to pick me up from the airport, where every driver is angry and stressed and impatient with every other driver because they’re all stopping and starting, frantically searching for their loved one appearing out of the arrivals lounge. It was really cool catching up with him – we’d been in the same History class in school so a lot has happened in both of our lives since then! – and trying to navigate through Melbourne, avoiding toll roads and figuring out the right lane at roundabouts just in time made for an entertaining car journey.

We made it to town, and said goodbye, as I had done too many times for my liking in the previous couple of weeks. It was later on that evening that my backpack actually broke. I met up with my friend Liam and, whilst he was being helpful and taking my backpack for me, one of the main straps ripped and it fell on the ground… it served me well, that cheap backpack, and in general we got on pretty good: it survived two weeks of being flung onto my back; stuffed to the brim with my clothes and boxing gloves; and thrown on and off of planes. If you have ever read the book or seen the movie, WILD, the backpack and I had a relationship like this. Not quite the same, but you get the idea….

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I’d definitely recommend reading the book – the movie is good, but it felt very rushed and, as they usually are, the book is far more detailed 🙂

So I had a very chilled weekend in Melbourne – we went to this a.maz.ing food place on Bourke St called the Grand Trailer Park (http://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/food-and-drink/directory/restaurant/grand-trailer-park-taverna-melbourne#gallery-1). I had a MEAN burger and milkshake, and the salted caramel milkshake comes with a rasher of bacon on the top – for real. And don’t even get me started on desert… just look at it. All I’m going to say is peanut butter parfait.

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Having spent the weekend wandering around, eating burgers and waffles, watching movies and drinking hot lemon and honey, on the Monday I set off on my two day Great Ocean Road trip tour which I wrote about already because it was amazing and I couldn’t hold it in any longer… I arrived back to Melbourne and had two days left before my mammoth 24 hour journey back to sunny Scotland.

I really enjoy just walking around Melbourne, hopping on and off the trams to different places around the CBD. There are so many awesome coffee spots down the alleys, beautiful views and happy people everywhere. On my last night there, I went to see The Lion King (FINALLY).

It was absol11329643_10206402647362219_1485897267_nutely amazing – I had goosebumps from the beginning and the costumes were just incredible. I’d been to see Les Mis in a different theatre when I’d visited Melbourne in December last year, and they were both stunning – that’s one thing I had missed, being in New Zealand, really old buildings and architecture, (and going to the theatre!) so it was really nice to be sitting in an old theatre with an awesome friend, having just eaten another mean burger, about to watch a musical I’d never seen before. I think the theatre is one of my favourite places to be. I’m definitely going to try and go down to London this year and see something I’ve not seen yet, even though the temptation to see Wicked or Les Mis for the third time is quite overwhelming…

Melbourne will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m really looking forward to living there for a while when I do my Australia Working Holiday next year. It’s a bustling city but everyone is so relaxed and doing their own thing which makes for a really nice atmosphere.

11329010_10206310303413678_1056399001_nI also found a bagpipe player in the middle of the city – I was tempted to break out into the very little Highland Dancing I remember from when I was eight, but I decided against it.

I went to a Body Pump class at a gym in the city a couple of hours before I had to head to the airport to make myself more tired for the flight, which certainly worked, but I only stood up three times on my 24 hour journey back home. I have never been so stiff in my whole life, ever. Remember your stretches, kids!

I flew home with Qatar Airways which was just ridiculous. Having spent the whole year flying Jetstar and TigerAir (for people of the UK – Ryan Air equivalents and possibly worse), to get on a flight with meals and on-board entertainment included was a novelty in itself. I had checked in online in the afternoon and managed to get myself window seats on both flights which I was really happy with, mainly so I could lean on the wall of the plane and reduce the risk of falling asleep on a poor passenger’s shoulder. I got to my seat and there was a little pouch with socks, earplugs, an eye mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a refreshing wipe thingy, and a LOT of leg room. Already I felt like I was flying business class, and then they brought round a menu, a MENU on a plane, for dinner. I kept it because I don’t know if I’ll ever fly this fancy again… It was actual real food that looked and tasted like it had been made by a real person, unlike the “bacon and cheese panini” I’d ordered on another flight a couple of weeks previous. Yuck. But focusing on the good plane food. I swore on that journey I’d never fly anything less that Qatar for long haul flights ever again, so we’ll see if that’s possible…

Oh I do love travelling. I’m very excited to set off on another adventure overseas, but right now I’m starting off an awesome year in Scotland. I’ve set lots of goals for myself for the year or so I’m planning on being here so I’m very much looking forward to achieving some if not all of them, spending time with old friends and making new ones 🙂

 

 

whizzing through australia – tasmania

When I booked my flight to Tasmania, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do when I got there. I also had no idea how incredible a time I would end up having!

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In the airport in Sydney before I left, I Skyped my friend Steven (HI STEVEN) who asked me to make sure that he got home safely from his night out (it was 3am UK time at this point)…. from the other side of the world, but okay! 😉 We were chatting, and then he said “WHY are you going to Tasmania?” – and I literally didn’t know. I guess I wanted to wander around, stop for lots of coffee breaks, read and write a bit, and just relax. I’d booked to stay there for three days, so I was anxious of spending three days in the cold, with not much money left, by myself. But hey, I chose to be excited for it because this was the point of me traveling solo with my backpack and all – to have some Kirstie time, and to think about what I want in my life, find myself and all that. When I landed in Hobart, it was grey and cloudy and absolutely freezing – well, it was 14 degrees which felt so, SO cold having just come from the Gold Coast and Sydney, and after the amazing summer I’d had in Auckland. Luckily I’d bought myself a blanket-like-scarf in Sydney which I didn’t take off the whole time I was in Tazzy, but BOY it was cold.

I didn’t really read much into Tasmania before I traveled there so I was expecting lots of jungle and for these guys to be running around everywhere (not really, but y’know, child-like imagination and all).

I stayed at the Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse in Battery Point, Hobart. It was the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in, anywhere in the world. It’s run by the lovely Ant and Rose who, as soon as you walk in the door, make you feel right at home. I’d definitely recommend staying here if you’re ever in Hobart – I paid $35AUD per night for an 8-bed female dorm, which is a little more than average for a hostel, but it’s so, SO worth it.

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When I arrived, I got settled, wrestled with my backpack some more and then headed out to the supermarket. By this point it was about 6pm and oh, it was COLD. I had a great time in Tazzy, but there was rarely a moment when I didn’t have goosebumps. As I was walking, I was trying really hard to get myself excited for the few days ahead of me, but I couldn’t help but feel terrified of having a miserable time because I was by myself, mainly because I was rapidly running out of money and there isn’t all that much to do in Hobart itself. When I got back to the hostel, I met the lovely Jo and Nikki who I ended up spending all of my time in Tazzy with – well, lucky Nikki flew off to Bali the day before I left for some much needed heat!

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We got the ferry over to Bruny Island, a tiny little place with gorgeous views, a chilly wind and about 10 people living there (well, maybe a few more, but we didn’t see many!) It was really nice just driving around, chatting about our travel stories, exchanging hints and tips on where and where not to go, and having some girly time – I didn’t realise until then how much I had needed to spend time with other girls in the same boat as me! So thank you, you two 🙂 We went to a cheese factory, a chocolate and fudge factory and an oyster farm, and had such a wonderful day.

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I absolutely loved my three days in Tasmania. It’s such a beautiful part of the world and so cheap and easy to get to if you’re in Australia. GO THERE 🙂

 

whizzing through australia – the great ocean road

If you’re in Australia, you CAN NOT miss out going on a trip down the Great Ocean Road. The views are some of the most breathtaking I’ve ever seen, there is so much wildlife to watch and there are so many amazing people to meet. Well, there are amazing people to meet anywhere and everywhere, but I was lucky enough to get to spend my two day trip with three incredible girls – Amy, Sarah and Lena. From the second we got on the bus on day one in Melbourne until we were all falling asleep on the way back on day two, we barely stopped talking. We went with Ride Tours, and our tour guide was a lovely, bubbly and very funny lady called Jude (na-na-na-na-na-na-na…..). We had a fantastic couple of days, and saw some incredible sights of the Great Ocean Road…rt

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I think the pictures speak for themselves. It’s such a beautiful trip to do. It’s really good to book onto these things even if you’re travelling alone because all four of us girls on the trip were in exactly the same boat, and it makes it so much more fun making friends for life on the road.

11068746_10206808333835726_5753803113355706858_nThis quote below was written on the Gibson Steps which lead down to another beautiful beach. I think it touched all four of us somewhere inside.

"YOUR LIFE UNFOLDS IN PROPORTION TO YOUR COURAGE"

 

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