“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”
“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”
“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”
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”
“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”
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”
“For the born traveller, travelling is a besetting vice. Like other vices, it is imperious, demanding its victim’s time, money, energy and the sacrifice of comfort” – Aldous Huxley
Going to Porto for Easter has been on my to do list for the past five years, but other trips and plans have always deferred it, so when setting my travel challenge I knew Portugal and specifically Porto were going to be visited.
I conveniently forgot that I booked a 7am flight, so had to get up at 3:30am in order to get to the airport on time. In typical me style I ended up with lots of plans the day before, so by the time I had sorted everything, packed, dyed my hair pink and hosted a dinner party I barely managed three hours sleep before I was up and running again. Coffee, adrenaline and the warm sun that greeted me in Porto powered me through my first day. I ended up walking for hours and seeing so many sites without feeling like I was rushing or flagging. Continue reading “Travel challenge trip 4: Portugal and Spain”
My language journey
I have been learning Spanish on and off for about three years, but with serious intention for the past year and a half. The moment that changed everything for me was when I was travelling through Brazil last year and had to use basic Spanish structures with substituted Portuguese words in order to get around and communicate as English usage in South America isn’t as wide spread as Europe. I remember having to get two back to back taxis in a rush to make it to the airport in time for a flight at the end of my trip and having broken, but full Portuguese conversations explaining my intentions then talking about myself and what I had done in Brazil. Essentially I had learned by comprehensible input and after this positive experience of using language in a practical way I became hooked on learning Spanish, the feeling of speaking in a non-native language and have people understand you is truly addictive and seeing how your fluency develops with effort and dedication feels simply amazing. Benny Lewis the famous polyglot who runs Fluent in Three Months has always preached this philosophy, but nerves and embarrassment always prevented me from speaking. Getting over the hurdle of feeling confident to speak in Spanish was very tough for me. I had tried intercambios (group language exchanges) a couple of times and for me personally they were not productive. I discovered I learn best with someone one to one who I feel comfortable and relaxed with. Continue reading “My language learning journey and preparing for DELE Spanish A2 exam”
“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end” – Pico Iyer.
Berlin – wow, a couple of weeks later and I am still on a massive high and feel AMAZING and glowing all over. I knew this trip would be something special, as in its inception it was completely spontaneous and that impromptu vibe continued to guide me. I’m struggling to find the words to fully capture the experience. Continue reading “Travel Challenge 2017 trip 3: Berlin”
I have read so many interesting articles this month and wanted to share a few.
Even though this article is from 90’s it is a effective piece on the difference between leaders and managers. John Kotter starts with a problem common to many us that companies are over-managed and under-led, stating that the two instead need to complement each other. This well structured argument containing short case studies illustrating the main points is not too academic or long, so you take onboard the key points without being lost in business speak. It’s a good read with these top tips on improving brain power and leadership skills. Continue reading “Articles that have inspired me lately: April edition”