Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Balance

Everyone has a choice in which pathways we take in life, love, career and our health. And things generally work out for only two of these things, maybe three but it's a stretch. For example, for me right now my career is going through the roof and I've got an amazing, supportive partner who I can do about 6 weeks of travelling with each year. However because my job has been so demanding my health is rubbish because I haven't had any time to go to yoga/jog/bike ride/swim like I normally would and I barely have time to socialise (plus my family/friends are all back in Sydney). 

Then there's Kevin who's health and personal life is rocketing because he's just done another marathon and has lots of running friends/clubs that he's apart of here. And he has a loving partner who 100% supports him in his tumultuous search for work.

We're both not completely happy and we slightly envy each other's lives. I'd like more time to work on some craft projects and meet like-minded people and he would like a job that will be fulfilling. And that's just life. And we're lucky together we have somewhat of a balance  between us because if I was on my own I'd probably get really lonely and be eating takeouts all the time and Kevin probably would have had to move back home 18 months ago with an empty bank account. 

But we need more. We both need to be working (but not too much). Have fun and work on our other interests. Somewhere in this mix I'd like to live in New York because that's our dream. And live in Bondi because that's also another dream. So at this point I'm at another massive junction in my life where radical decisions and massive upheavals are going to take place. 50% is our choice and 50%  is in the hands of that mystical thing we call fate/destiny/chance/opportunity.  And I can't wait to see what's going to happen next. 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

The NYC Shopping Hitlist

I have well and truly fallen off the wagon. Almost 3 years ago I wrote THIS post about selling all our worldly goods and since then have stuck to my minimalistic lifestyle. Well it all started to unravel (literally) when my one rock solid pair of jeans developed a concerning hole in a crucial area. Also, our sweet,old foster cat Berry had used my second hand Radley bag as her scratching post. Oh, and that $5 pair of sunnies I got from a New Orleans market was really hurting my eyesight. OK so I'll just replace a few things I bought on our last US trip 2 years ago. 

Well, since I landed in NYC 2 weeks ago, I just went nuts. Like a fat kid who loves cake (which actually I had a lot of as well) - I just switched off that little inhibition switch and bought everything I wanted. Granted the British Pound is trudging along quite happily at the moment so most of the things I got were either on sale or were cheaper anyways with the conversion. Well that's what I told myself as my backpack started to get tighter and tighter. I have no regrets. And luckily, I got a work bonus this month which means everything was practically free! Hah! Delusional I know. Anyways, here's my NYC shopping hitlist.

Warby Parker Sunglasses
Since Luxottica have a stronghold on the sunglasses industry and hence can charge whatever the hell they want, it was cool to find out about Warby Parker, an American brand who do some really nice, good quality pairs without the $300+ pricetag. I bought the 'Laurel' for US$103.44 and they even tightened it a little with their on site optometrist for no extra charge. Also, we had a field day with their in-store photobooth.

OK it's a European brand but I'd be paying the same in dollars as I would be in pounds so it makes sense to get it in the US. I really just wanted to get a durable bag I could carry my camera and a jumper around in. I don't love backpacks but I really need to look after my spine a bit better and as trends go, this one at least is socially acceptable amongst the East London crowd. I was a happy camper when I found the Kanken Mini in beige in the 40% pile making it US$42.47. Total score.

Kate Spade New York
I had all but given up on proper designer stuff. What's the point of spending all that money on something that you'd be too scared to use. Or worry it was going to get stolen. But since I was in NYC and this is a New York brand, I might as well pop in and have a look. Firstly, the sales people are so lovely, it was a good 40% discount that was my downfall. I bought this Large Monday in this cute turquoise (officially called Cedar Street) for $151.34.  My one, slightly not practical purchase but remember that bonus I was taking about?

I was in Barcelona a few weeks ago and forgot my well worn Primark peacoat in the airport. This was the exact same coat but of much better quality. Women's blended wool peacoat bought for $129 which is on par with what would have paid in the UK but I've already made good use of it. Also I bought some snazzy heattech print trousers for $40 and superwarm leggings for $20. Boring purchases but necessary staples.

I just needed a good crossover bag that was classic in style and a good size that could fit a cardigan, phone and wallet but wasn't too bulky. It's much nicer in real life than in the photos and the quality of the leather is amazing. It just does everything I need it to. The mini transport crossbody in 'English saddle' for $161.14.

Rollie Shoes
I found these shoes in DNA in Williamsburg and they are just ridiculously comfy. Really soft leather and I like the extra touch with getting both black and cream laces. Also, they're an Australian brand. Extra points. It has a really nice treaded speckly coloured outsole for extra traction. Good thinking. London can be pretty slippery. Rollie Derby Black Distressed $100.

American Eagle Outfitters
So my perfect pair of jeans is the Hi Rise Jegging in short and black and my last pair I wore til it fell apart. It's last adventure was hiking up Breakneck Ridge so it went out with a bang at least. I bought two pairs as they were having a buy one get the 2nd 50% off - $67.42.

Another item I could have got in the UK but I needed something floral for a Frida Khalo outfit I was working on for Halloween. And considering costumes are generally a one time thing, at least I'll get more wears out of this pretty printed dress. It's really comfy and I'm thinking I could dress it up for a wedding or down for a brunch. $69.90.

OK so I don't really wear a lot of make up but since retiring from the backpacker lifestyle and living in London for the past two years, I've found the desire to look presentable when I step outside my door. I quite like that they have these little packs with a bunch of stuff in it. So you don't have to overthink the situation. I bought a eyeliner pack, lip and cheek pack, nail polish pack and face mask pack. Half of those things I grabbed on a whimsy whilst waiting in line to pay.  Total sucker. $107.79 in total. 

I also bought socks/undies/wallet from Century 21, art supplies from Blicks and gloves/jewellery from Aldo but these were all under $30.  The grand total was probably about $1000 but I'll be covered for the next few years. Don't forget we're talking about a former shopaholic here, that budget would have lasted me about a season. And at the end of the day, it's just a nice treat as I've been working ridiculously hard here in London and it feels good to reward yourself every now and then. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

My Top Five in Greece

1. Chrysomallousa - an entree that involves a thin piece of cheese enveloped in a crispy pastry envelope then smothered in that famous Greek honey and topped with black sesame seeds. Amazing.
2. Sea kayaking around South Paros - despite getting badly stung but jellyfish whilst snorkeling, we got to see some of the bluest, clearest waters and had a really lovely guide.
3. Agios Prokopios beach, Naxos - clear, warm waters mixed with a relaxed beach and add some super cheap, amazing seafood along the beachfront and you've got yourself a winning combination.
4. Mykonos in the morning - OK it's super touristy and a little hectic but I had a lovely stroll through this picturesque town at 8am on our first day. Just me, a few locals and the morning sun cats. Stunning.
5. Sunset in Oia, Santorini. There is nothing like it on this planet so get a bottle of wine, find a nice spot along the cliffside towards the windmill and just relax.

Saturday, 18 July 2015


There are so many different and interesting places to go to in Europe that it's easy to overlook our very own backyard. Just a two hour flight and you're in a place with amazing food, plentiful sunshine and is way cheaper. However, between a trip to Italy and then Greece we thought we'd mix it up a bit and go have a poke around the UK, just to see for ourselves. 

We were originally heading to Cornwall however considering we had 5 days to fill I thought the time would be better spent up North. And mostly because I have this inexplicable desire to see puffins. I want to see lots of puffins doing cute puffin things! The biggest colony in the UK with about 60 000 breeding pairs is on the Farne Islands, up in Northumberland near the Scotland border. So that went on the itinerary first.

A friend also told me about Bounce Below in Snowdonia (Wales) - this very cool cave that has massive trampolines in it. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a good holiday plan to me. And since we can't just be bouncing in caves and looking at puffins for 5 days straight we decided to visit Brecon Beacons National Park and the Lake District as well. Why not?

Though on the morning of the trip I checked the weather in Wales and of course it said - 15 degrees, rain. I asked Kevin if we could cancel our bookings and go somewhere warm, maybe Croatia? I hear it's lovely. For that I got a very stern talking to about how it was my idea in the first place etc etc etc. So away to Wales we went.

And yes it rained a bit but like all UK rain it's more of an annoying drizzle where you hardly get wet. The best bits of Brecon Beacons was staying in this cute airbnb cottage where we got greeted every morning and evening but either a dog, horse or goat. Oh and reading Welsh signs. They are hilarious. For example Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is actually a name of a village. I didn't just type a whole bunch of random letters whilst drunk and having an epilieptic fit. Seriously!The worst part was missing out on hiking up to Pen y Fan mountain due to rain and poor visibility. Though we did do the very green walk to get to Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfalls where you get to go behind the falls and since it had been raining so much it looked pretty cool.

Sgwd Yr Eira waterfall and a selfie of Maloney and me.

Bounce Below was pretty epic. Despite the fact that they make you wear helmets and they smell pretty terrible, the actual facility was very cool. It's a massive trampoline maze suspended high above the cave floor and you either climb up or slide down to get to different bouncing rooms. One room was so high up that you'd get a little bit of vertigo if you looked down too much. 

The Lake District was very picturesque and sunny. I took some amazing shots there, that's all I have to say about it. And on our last day, we took a little boat from the town of Seahouses, up in the far Northeast corner of the UK to the Farne Islands which smelt like 1000 years of bird poo. But seeing puffins in their natural habitat was pretty special. Watching them fish in the ocean, fly up into their burrows and land right into them. Seeing them run on their little awkward webbed feet from one place to another. And fend off pesky seagull neighbours from stealing their food. Worth it. Worth the rain, and the driving, and eating lots of mediocre fish and chips.

Orrest Head in Windermere (top) and Kirkstone Pass

But little did I know the best part of the trip was yet to come. The drive from Seahouses to London is about 6 hours so we broke it up with a night in Harrowgate, Yorkshire. Plus it was Kevin's birthday so we had to celebrate. We chanced upon this really fancy looking Chinese restaurant set in a restored Roman Bath. It looked pretty posh. So we walked in, had a lovely meal and a nice glass of wine and was ready to head off. The owner of the restaurant, a charismatic Malaysian born, London raised man wandered around the restaurant checking up on all the tables. Considering we were the only Asian people in the whole restaurant (and likely in the whole of Harrowgate) we got chatting. He was really interested to find out how we ended up in Harrowgate and so he got us a fresh round of drinks on him and we ended up getting pretty drunk and falling into a full D&M about life and our personal histories. His story included adopted a young Vietnamese girl, meeting his wife at 23 drunk at 4am in Chinatown in London and almost going bankrupt restoring the lovely restaurant we were in. He swore a lot, had a clear passion for the UK and pride for his place in it. It was a night we never expected in a town we randomly chose.

Nothing like unexpected encounters to spice up life.
And that was the end of a pretty interesting road trip. I'm glad we did it. I'm happy we're back in London and I feel refreshed for the next chapter of our lives here. I feel it's going to be big. And if all plans go into fruition, we may even be here for another 5-10 years. Like Mr Hak Ng of the Royal Baths Chinese Restaurant, we have to plan big and let the chips fall where they may.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Ode to Summer

Oh my dear Summer
You're late but never mind
For you are radiant as ever
I won't keep time

Because when you're here 
the world is brighter
The days are longer
The load is lighter

The bike is out
We'll eat outdoors
We'll have adventures
We'll go explore

This big wide world
From out of our cacoons
Until the weather turns
All too soon

My ode to you
My fickle one
Just stay awhile
And share your Sun

Monday, 25 May 2015

Staying in the Present

At present - my favourite things. 
It's easy to find faults in your life and wish for more. Sometimes I'll look back and dream of going travelling again. Wistful of those carefree days hanging around hostels, where your only goal of the day was to enjoy yourself. Or sometimes my mind would stray further afield - of sunny Sydney. Of finishing work at 4pm and heading to Bronte beach to splash around on my bodyboard. Or calling some friends over for a casual brunch on our balcony. 

Nevermind that I was really restless in Sydney and wanted more then as well. Or that I eventually tired of the instability and copious amounts of vomiting travelling generally seemed to involve and was quite relieved to have some creature comforts back when we finally arrived in London. Those bad parts of your past tend to fade away over time. Leaving you with just the shiny, wonderful memories. 

And I'm sure one day I'll look back on our time here in London and dream of all the delicious cakes I've devoured. Or the luxury of the multiple mini holidays we had during the year. The abundance of theatre shows and new restaurants we've tried. Also there are the little everyday things I'll miss like iberico ham, cheap blueberries, English roasts, cider and clotted cream. 

I have to remember this time last year I was lamenting that we had to go back to Sydney so soon and was wishing with all my being that somehow, we could stay here just for one more Summer.  As two Winters and one Summer in London seemed like a bit of a poor deal. So here it is - that bonus Summer. Instead of glancing backwards all the time or craning my neck forward to see what's in the future, I need to focus on everything around me. Right now. And relax. Because it will pass faster than I'll realise. And I don't want the present just to be the point where the future turns into the past. I need it to be everything.

Friday, 10 April 2015

A year without Phil

A smile so big
it filled the room
A giggle, a laugh
A hearty boom

A beautiful soul
That was our Phil
We loved him so
It doesn't feel real

That he's no longer
apart of our world
A year without him
Has been such a blur

He's now out of reach
it brings a tear to the eye
But I'll cherish the memories
and in our hearts you'll lie


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Sometimes You Find Just What You're Looking For

just needed to get away for a little bit. From the grey, the jostling, the constant busy-ness of it all. So I did a very English thing and googled 'Winter sun holiday'. Options are pretty limited this time of year. The most tempting of them all is the Carribean. But flights were a whopping £800 each and the distance was just too much. So I settled for Abu Dhabi. 7 hour flight, consistent 30 degree days and some much needed beach time. Throw in an awesome waterpark and I'm sold. And I was right. Besides a shaky start  that involved a 4am arrival at our hotel and no actual bed to stay in where we then spent a few uncomfortable hours on the lobby couch before getting our room and a free buffet breakfast. But it was all uphill from there. We have a private beach - hilariously named Hiltonia, where a staff member will subtly stalk you until you find the perfect beach lounger. In which he will hurry over, fluff your towel and tuck it perfectly into place, set up your umbrella and then leave you in peace. Yes, we've strayed far from our backpacking days. The weather was perfect today for a day trip to Yas waterworld, where we went on that ride where the platform drops beneath your feet to plunge you into sheer vertical terror. We met a lady who got stuck in that ride because she was too light to make the full loop around, though we initially thought she was a girl because she only weighed 35kg (we know this cause we needed her to meet the weight minimum for a ride). Tomorrow, more beach. And a visit to a famous mosque. Compared to our other travel experiences, this trip was been zero work and just complete relaxation and fun. Though, I am working hard on this tan.

Monday, 16 March 2015


There are times in your life when you catch a flash of something beautiful and you break out in a smile. You scramble for your camera, hoping you could capture it, but you often can't because those moments rush at you in a blur and then weave away just as quickly. Or maybe you're just too shy to take a photo of someone, not wanting to flash cameras in their faces like a tourist, ruining that moment with crassness. Looking back on some of the prettier photo's we've taken, I often feel no connection to them. It was often a moment of boredom, looking around for something to do. Seeing one sight to another. These photos imply things that may or may not have been real.

So here are my travel moments. Ones that only exist in my memory. I play them on repeat to remind me what life is about.

Riding on a bus in Buenos Aires, an elderly man sits on a bench, his golden retriever sits at his feet. The dog lifts up with his paw and waves it at the man. The man reaches out and they sit there, hand in paw. The bus moves on, they move out of vision.

Kevin and I are snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. The rest of our group of 14 have gotten on the raft to head back to the ship. There's not that much left to see and we're keen to get dry. Then we spot a lone turtle. He's just floating there, with his flipper under a rock. No one else had seen him. We get close to him, watching him in his sleep. It's just the three of us. He wakes up, sees us and swims away.

We're snorkelling with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands. They're incredibly playful. Darting quickly this way and that. Then one hurtles full speed right at me. My heart skips when he gets so close there's barely a metre between us. Then he dives down at a  90 degree angle. He's just playing.

After a long night out with some amazing New Yorkers, I'm on a natural/alcohol fueled high. I spontaneously put on some running shoes and run from Brooklyn across the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan at sunrise. A garbage man waves and calls out good morning. I smile and greet him back. I must have greeted at least 5 people that morning. The morning sun throws a shining glow over the New York skyline. I've never loved a city nor it's people so much as in that moment.

We're sitting with some wonderful friends in a natural hot spring in Pucon, Chile. It's dark and raining. A terrible night to be outdoors normally. But our bodies are hot. Our faces cold. And somewhere in the middle it's just right. We're jovial, my friends chant 'shower, shower, shower!'. I make a mad dash to the freezing cold shower and take a quick frigid shower, squealing the whole time. Then I rush back into the welcoming warmth. Of the water and my friends.

There are so many more little moments. If you put them all together you'd make a pretty awesome reel of joy and sunshine and all things good in life. This really was just a selfish post, for me to read back on, to breathe and be grateful.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Housesharing vs the one bedder

For a solid two years Kevin and I have been living with people. Firstly in the form of 6-12 bedder hostel dorm rooms and then onto house shares during our 18 months so far here in London. And I wouldn't have changed it for the world. It was so much fun and there were moments where you're just so grateful to have come across the people you did at just the right time. People have shared with us their stories, fireworks, weddings, black market money trading tips and everything in between. 

But you do miss the freedom of random bouts of nudity, not having to wait in a queue for the loo, finding said bathroom just as it was last time you saw it and not covered in hair and other things, space and having a bit of peace and quiet as you please. People who have roommates always have a nightmare roommate story to share with you. Usually it's due to variations in ideas of hygiene. 

As with anything in life, housesharing has it's pros and cons. For us, we've decided to move to that one bedder in 3 weeks. What with it's instant access to bathrooms and multiple cupboards and fridge space for food storage (this actually does mean a lot to me!). We can cook pungent Asian foods as we please without offending housemate nostrils and not find random (human) poo's on our staircase on New Years day (that's a whole separate story folks). 

And luckily with work providing an apartment above a nearby Vet clinic we're not facing that horrid 50% increase in rent - normally its about 1500 pounds per month plus bills plus real estate agents fees (eeek!). And we having parking! No more waking up early on a weekday off to move the car back to the clinic because London only seems to have permit or paid parking everywhere. 

Yes we've met some lovely housemates on the way and fortunately we haven't had too many horror stories to share but I'm so excited what with the move, followed by our Abu Dhabi holiday followed by Spring. Yes things definitely feel like they're picking up. 

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Savouring Spain

Spain has been a culinary delight. Years from now I will look back on my 8 days here and my tastebuds will yearn for the plethora of flavours, the fresh seafood and the best iberico bellota ham in the world. Forget paella and Churros, my favourite discoveries were razor clams and combining salmon, yoghurt and honey. 

Another pleasant surprise was a triple meeting with our Aussie friend Duong, who landed here three weeks ago to embark on a courageous life change. She quit her stable job as a radiologist to make her way in the world teaching English as a second language. As she spoke of her non-concrete plans in the future to live in Nepal or Argentina, I could clearly see the excitement in her eyes and only feel a sense of kindred spirit. 

It's a beautiful thing when life is so fully appreciated. This undefined pathway, so open to limitless opportunity. So here's to chance meetings across the globe. Over delicious meals and glasses of sangria. I'll cheers to that.

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Career Path

Any jobs involving sleeping a lot and eating? I'm the cat for it!

Careers are tricky things to manoeuvre. At the very start, you make a choice. You decide, yes, I like animals. I'm going to be Veterinarian, lets enrol in Veterinary school and make this happen. They push you out of Veterinary school with some medical knowledge and shut the gates. 

Wide eyed and lets face it, poorly prepared for real world situations you start making some tentative enquries to anyone who would think of hiring you. The opportunities are slim, you're like that blind and deaf newborn kitten, just needing a warm, nurturing place to grow into that fantastic Veterinarian who's shiny and amazing and everyone wants to see. For a pretty average wage, you're doing night shifts - waking up to greyhound caesarians and they expect you to work every single Saturday. You work hard but seem to still lack in confidence.  You make mistakes, a lof them. Clients berate you for 'being too young'. You know every Vet in that clinic is better then you. A kind but critical talking to from your boss leaves you crying in the toilets. You're pretty fragile.

Two years slogging it at the bottom and you've had enough, you up and quit. There's a better situation out there for you- better pay, better working conditions, nicer clients. Yes, good timing and just being normal and friendly at an interview has landed you a much nicer job. You still have a lot to learn and lack in self confidence but they can leave you on your own now without any fear of dire consequences. You feel you need to do more, sign up for a long distance education course. A new Vet comes along. Supposedly a senior but with questionable skills. Makes you realise that you're a much better Vet than that. It's perversely confidence boosting yet frustrating because they're getting paid more to be a poorer Vet than you. A lot more. Again, unfair. It tells you that it doesn't matter what Vet you know you are, it's how you project that outwards. Be confident. 

Three years on and there's no where to grow. It's time to radically change the situation, time to try a different market - London. You've got five years under your belt now. You can pretty much qualify for any job you want. Two years seems to be the minimum amount of experience people seem to ask for. You take that 6 month career break. Then take on some locum work. Try new things out. It's hard and disorientating at first but you can adapt. It doesn't actually ask much Veterinary wise - you're skills are sufficient. It's more about being friendly and getting people to like you. That's fine. You're asked back at most of your places.  You meet other Vets, gives you something to compare yourself against, learn a few things from them - you're doing OK.

And now an opportunity comes. You find a pretty ideal situation. They need a permanent Vet, and they're sponsor you and your partner. You're managing the place, just you. They seem impressed with your resume though you really haven't done anything that special. But you've been consistent and a decent variety of experiences. Seven years out? We'd love have you on board. You stall. Do you want this? It's hard work. You're bound to them. You play it cool, ask for more. Then you'll be happy. Don't sell yourself short, that's how they do it in the big world.  This is the first time you've had to 'negotiate' but you project confidence. 

They agree. You're working hard but growing exponentially. Finally, the respect, the title, the money and it's still going up. You're on the right path.  A brand new clinic, it's going to be 24 hours. I'll be captain of the ship. It's a lot to take on and things won't be perfect. I've got targets to reach and people to please. It's a massive corporation. But  when I tire of it I can go back to Sydney and open my clinic if I wanted to. It's nice. It's nice to finally feel in control of where I'm heading. You're finally that shiny, amazing Vet that people are asking to see.