Travel challenge 10: Cycling to Paris

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

– Miriam Beard

Out of all of my planned trips, this was the biggest challenge. Yes, I can easily travel with a new friend or visit a new country, but to physically cycle to another country is a big feat both physically and mentally. As a result, lots of planning went into this ride, as we found out you can’t control everything and we had a few think on your feet, rapid response moments. But we survived and spoilers: we did it, something I wasn’t sure we would achieve at various points of the journey.

Originally we were meant to complete this cycle in August, but my friend got her bike stolen so we had to delay it until she got a new bike.  Unfortunately a few days before the rescheduled ride she tripped and fell onto a knife and was unable to join us, talk about bad luck, so it was just me and my good friend and trip photographer Emma.

Image outside house before ride

Continue reading “Travel challenge 10: Cycling to Paris”

Travel Challenge 9: Florence and Milan

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

I have to admit sometimes on these trips I have thought ‘am I forcing myself to go somewhere’ and questioned whether I am just trying to escape from something. The answer to both of those questions is yes, but I’m still continuing to do this challenge for a couple of reasons. For one I am very stubborn and will always follow through on my word and for two I feel it is something that keeps giving and nourishes me. I chose to go to Milan because it was the cheapest flight I could find, I then spoke to my Italian friend Carlo and he advised me to visit Florence, bam, trip sorted.

One aim I have been struggling to achieve with this challenge is to be hosted on Couchsurfing. I almost got a host in Finland, but it fell through at the last minute. For this trip I posted an advert on the site explaining I was looking to be hosted in Milan, boy was I surprised by the responses, I got almost 50, all men in a certain age bracket, most of them not meeting my location or time period requirements. After doing a little online surfing I found other people had similar experiences to me and it had become a bit of a hookup site, which can be good and bad as it depends what you are looking for. As I didn’t feel comfortable being hosted by any of these people I sent requests out myself and in the end the lovely Francesca agreed to meet me for dinner and drinks.  Continue reading “Travel Challenge 9: Florence and Milan”

What do you do after achieving a big goal

I battle with a constant need to quantify every aspect of my life in order to convince myself I am a success and doing well. Hence why goal-based challenges with deadlines tend to motivate me and drive my focus the most.  I am very aware that I possess this sometimes obsessive mentality and know what I need to do in my life in order to balance myself and feel calm – exercise, healthy eating and meditation. I fight a constant battle to not turn these good habits into toxic addictions which can easily tip over and make me burnout.

After achieving my travel challenge of last year I am currently feeling a slump and post-win blues. Last year was an amazing for me and I am questioning how I can match it and feel good about the coming year. Of course, if anyone asked me this question now I would say it is a case of having a good attitude, not being hard on yourself and to take a moment to let things settle. But who takes their own advice?! Instead, I am reading positive affirmations from The Rock and trying not to panic about having to write an essay I am not confident I have the ability to follow through with. And that was my trigger along with the misreading of a personal situation which has bought up issues that I thought I had  covered up resolved.

As I look at my Trello list with 14 new year goals and an additional 4 fitness specific goals I know I need to be thinking about my need for control and how to react when I feel out of control. Equally I need to start to address why I take on so much, put excessive pressure on myself and attempt to scale things realistically. Writing this post is cathartic in itself and relieving some of the tention I am feeling as I organise my thoughts, work through things and start to make sense of everything. Continue reading “What do you do after achieving a big goal”

Travel challenge trip 8: Ibiza

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

–  Eleanor Roosevelt

So Ibiza happened very quickly, we decided to go then a week and a half later we were there. I never thought I would visit, the original plan for August was to cycle to Paris, but circumstances changed and that trip had to be delayed.  Mid-August is peak holiday season and I was doubtful I would be able to find a suitable place to visit that wasn’t way out of my budget. After lots of searching for flights online I found some very cheap flights to Ibiza, as I have learned in my many years of travelling cheap flights usually equal mega expensive accommodation and this is very true for Ibiza. But by sheer coincidence I remembered my friend Paul owns a place out there in the Old Town, it was free on our dates and we secured some mates rates prices. Win. Continue reading “Travel challenge trip 8: Ibiza”

Travel challenge trip 7: Milton Keynes

“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be” – Chuck Thompson

July is a tricky month to be doing a travel challenge, flights are super expensive, it’s the school holidays and everywhere is busy. Though if you are in England you ‘may’ experience some hot, warm weather.

Before I started this challenge I knew the Summer months would be difficult to travel in and to be honest didn’t really have a plan. I figured I would travel somewhere in the UK (Newcastle was the initial plan), but as many of you will know train travel and accommodation here is as expensive and sometimes more than abroad. So when my good friend Farida said she would be in Milton Keynes (MK) visiting her sister and invited me to stay I jumped at the chance and tagged a visit to see my parents in Leicester onto the trip as well. Continue reading “Travel challenge trip 7: Milton Keynes”

Reflections on the travel challenge – Question & Answer

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories” – Ray Bradbury

This year I set myself the challenge of travelling every month, travel is fuel for my soul and I’m happiest when on a trip, so thought I would try to do monthly trips to ensure consistent happiness. Everyone I speak to about this always has lots of questions, so I have tried to answer some of the most popular ones below. Continue reading “Reflections on the travel challenge – Question & Answer”

Travel challenge trip 6: Snowdonia

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain”
– Jack Kerouac

I have never climbed any mountains in the UK, so when my flatmates suggested we go on a road trip and tackle Snowdonia I immediately said yes. This also provided an opportunity to travel with new people so two aims of my challenge satisfied. Continue reading “Travel challenge trip 6: Snowdonia”

How to stay motivated

Motivation is a concept I have wrestled with for a long time and something I struggle with daily. My main issue with it as a concept is that it gets mixed in with many other attributes which are then packaged as motivation and sold as something we should possess, but in many ways it is unobtainable and then we are made to feel guilty for not reaching a certain standard. Nowadays we are bombarded with the ‘massive’ achievements people have accomplished and it’s made to look easy and attainable, but we don’t see the behind the scenes process which is hard and tiring and often involves many other people.

Put simply motivation is ‘a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way’. The key everyone is searching for is how to motivate themselves and others, which is not a one size fits all answer and in reality something that needs to be agile and flexible. Continue reading “How to stay motivated”

Travel challenge trip 5: Helsinki

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware”  – Martin Buber

My trip to Helsinki came about in a rather random way; usually when planning future travel I have an idea of where I want to go and for May I was planning on visiting Sofia, but a few days before I was going to book it I received an out of the blue email from a Finnish guy requesting to couch surf at my house, my interest in Finland suddenly piqued and before I knew it I had booked a flight there. An impulsive move for a generally indecisive person! The sentimental reason for wanting to visit Helsinki is when growing up in Leicester our coming of age favourite cocktail bar to visit was called Helsinki. This is where I had my first cocktail (Black Russian), learned to love tequila shots, thought anyone over 24 was incredibly old and fell in love with gay bar tenders.

Leading up to this I had been running from commitment to commitment and generally over filling my time, as a result my energy levels were low and I was feeling pretty exhausted. I thought I wanted to slow down, but the sharp contrast of pace had a jarring effect on me. From my arrival Helsinki it felt like a solitary place and thinking back it was too quiet for me, the stillness fuelled my loneliness and it felt empty. I spent nearly all of my time alone, the space and vast landscape amplified this isolated feeling and I longed for some meaningful interactions. I am used to solo travel, but this was my 6th consecutive trip alone and I definitely need some balance and company, so I’m happy my future plans are with friends. Continue reading “Travel challenge trip 5: Helsinki”

Career Insight: 4 top tips for moving to fulltime freelance work

We spend so much of our time at work and to feel fulfilled, challenged and satisfied is all to often an aspiration that we don’t achieve. We all have other interests we enjoy and even the pipe dream of turning those into a full time career. But what is the reality of doing that? Is it achievable? Does the dream match the reality and how do you start to get there?

I asked my good friend and occasional collaborator Becky Dixon  who has built her business from scratch how she had gone about doing this.

“If you had told me, when I was 8 years old, that my penchant for making up radio plays on my Fisher Price tape deck, complete with dubious accents and hand made puppets could possibly lead me towards a freelance career as a storyteller and music workshop leader, I would have given you a pretty hearty dose of the withering look I was also perfecting at that age. The only jobs I really knew existed were teacher, lawyer, doctor and something mysterious ‘in an office’ (presumably shuffling bits of paper around) and everyone in my family seemed to have sensible, solid careers, so freelancing was never even on the agenda, and creative hobbies were just that, hobbies to be done on the side of work.

So, that I now spend my days lugging my cello around London and telling stories and singing songs for a living, often spending my weekends dressed as a pirate leading story trails around SE London community gardens was not a career direction I ever had mapped out… But these days I run my own small business leading story and music classes for little folk in my home area of SE London, and also freelance for various arts organisations and arts venues in London telling stories, and after gradually gently dipping my feet into the freelance world, I have been doing this for the past three years. Continue reading “Career Insight: 4 top tips for moving to fulltime freelance work”