Fraser Island Traumas

When I booked my East Coast trip back in January, the only thing I knew that was a ‘must do’ was the Great Barrier Reef. I had no idea that there was a massive sand island that was a ‘must-see’ until my rather pushy travel agent insisted I do it as it was an ‘essential’ of the East Coast (clearly he hasn’t heard of things like accommodation and food that are actually essential when travelling the East Coast). But anyway, like the naive traveller that I pretty much still am, I threw my money at him, ignoring the phrases ‘camping’, ‘dingos’ and ‘sleeping bag hire’, that he murmured in his Northern accent. 

For those who don’t know, I absolutely hate camping. Picture any page 3 model in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here screaming at her own shadow in the jungle and you’ll get an idea of how I feel about the whole thing. I think it stems from being 8 at Guide Camp and being completely unable to tie my bedding into the perfect knot, much to the frustration of the camp leader. Then there was all the camping at festivals, with the world spinning after too much cheap vodka and drunkards screaming at 5am. I’ve even tried glamping in Oz, in a tent with a mattress, duvet, plug points and still wanted to jump off a cliff after half an hour. So I really tried to put the whole thing to the back of my mind and pretend it wasn’t really happening, a bit like Brexit or the whole Donald Trump thing. 

But like those two political nightmares, the camping came round soon enough, and I found myself being bundled into a 4 x 4 at the ungodly hour of 7.45am with my prison issue plate, bowl and cup, a sleeping bag and a million and one bags surrounding me. We were in group 3 of 4 groups of landrovers travelling in convoy, and looking around our other group members, I realised I was surrounded by GI Joes and Janes – people that liked camping (I know right), and were super excited to be in touch with their natural side. But I digress… a bit more about the actual island. 


Fraser Island is, admittedly, something out of a postcard. On the first day, we visited Lake McKenzie, and I was pretty sure I’d stepped onto the shoot of a holiday brochure, particularly with the hottest young couple ever frolicking in the water. The water was so clear and felt amazing on the skin, and when you accidentally got a mouthful, it was like having a glass of water before bed rather than swallowing half the ocean. Amazing. Of course, this meant 5 million hours of photoshoots by everyone on the tour, and even a new profile picture for me, showing me oh-so-casually walking out to sea (Read: the only one of the fifty million pictures taken not to show my sweaty, sunburnt face!). 


The first evening was where it all went downhill. Our tour guide, Crumpy (or ‘Grumpy’ if people were being dicks), non-ironically informed us to watch out for snakes and take a dingo stick and a friend whenever we went anywhere. And the tents, were, well, tent-y. And the showers? $2 for 3 minutes. So, to shake off the feelings of RIP Meg, I hit the goon. Big time. For those non backpackers reading, goon is a very cheap 5 litre bag of wine that skint backpackers like myself use to get hammered. Verb: slap the goon, meaning to whack the bag to get the goon to come out. After a few hours on the goon, I found myself staggering down to the beach waving a dingo stick around madly, losing my flip flops with every second step. A few hours later, I was in the toilet doing dolphin imitations for Natasha with my water bottle. So alas, the goon broke me and I was in bed by the wild time of 10.15pm. Rock and roll… Apparently, I was still slightly drunk at 2am when Natasha went to the loo and I chased after her with my dingo stick to prove my merit as a friend by not letting her walk alone (the campsite was dingo-proof). 

Definitely wasn’t spitting water out to accurately imitate a dolphin…


Possibly unsurprisingly, the next morning was a bit of a write-off. Without my trusty coconut water to cure my hangover, I was about as fun as watching paint dry, and a dull shade of magnolia at  that. We visited a fresh water real life lazy river, but as we had no rubber rings to float down the river with, I flopped down by the river in a strop and fell asleep, with my arms above me. This didn’t work out well, as I discovered when I woke up with bright red armpits and second degree burns around my bikini, resulting in the purchase of a very expensive burn gel days later when my chest still felt like a hot stove. 

That afternoon was possibly the most traumatic of the whole trip for two reasons. Firstly, my iPhone finally had its moment on the aux cable, meaning my music was broadcast to the whole car. Considering my music is mainly a mix of club music c. 2009, the Sugababes and Matt Cardle, this was a highly stressful experience, highlighted when someone asked if I had any music ‘from 2017’. Burn. Secondly, I almost died in the champagne pools, and ended up with a battle scar (well, a tiny scratch). Champagne pools are small rock pools that the waves from the ocean crash into, causing a frothy, champagne-y effect. The first few times the waves crashed over the rocks, the effect was no different to a wave pool, so being the adrenaline junkie I am, I decided to go hang out with the boys in the hardcore pool. Maybe I should have considered that this was a bad idea, as three strong men were struggling to stay on their feet, but well, coulda woulda shoulda and all that. So, hanging on to a certain policeman for dear life, I awaited the wave, and – lucky me – got two at once! I was pretty certain it was RIP Meg as I was dragged away from the guys and over the rock faces, clinging on to a leg here and an arm there for my dear life. If it wasn’t for PC Chris, pretty certain it would have actually been RIP Meg. As I eventually surfaced, I found the whole group crowded round being all ‘u ok hun’, but obviously I played it really cool and pretended I hadn’t almost died. Luckily, I was off the hook when another guy legit almost died as he surfaced looking like he’d got into a fight with a tiger. 

That tiny rock pool at the back on the right? The place of my (almost) death!


So yeah, Fraser Island pretty much broke me. By the time we returned to human life the next day, I was burnt, bruised, broken and covered in more dirt then I thought was humanly possible. But, y’know, surprisingly awake considering the time spent in a tent, but then maybe that’s my koala tendencies to sleep anywhere, anytime. Or maybe that was just the goon, causing me to low key pass out… 

This picture sums up our feelings on camping…


Either way, I was bloody glad to have a shower that wasn’t three minutes and sandy. Camping? Never, ever, ever, again. Girl likes a bed. 

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Noosa, Nature, Koalas and The City

I have always classed myself as a bit of a city girl. I love London, Starbucks, shopping and high heels, and the words ‘camping’ and ‘remote’ fill me with a type of dread only associated otherwise with mushrooms (for anyone that doesn’t know, a major source of horror for me). So when, within a few days I went from life in a big city to life in a cute seaside town, I was surprised to find that I actually preferred the more natural option of the two. 
Maybe I should set the scene a bit more accurately. I arrived in Brisbane the morning-after-the-night-before, when me and Natasha had embraced the partay lifestyle of Surfers Paradise rather too fully considering how early our bus was the next morning. So, after an 8.15 bus, we arrived hungover, sweaty, and I promptly passed out on the couch in the communal area for 4 hours whilst waiting for check in. I may have even dribbled… After recovering (ish) from the hangover from hell after check-in, we ventured out into the blistering heat (great for the aforementioned hangover, obviously) for a wander. What I found with Brisbane was that it kinda had the anonymity of any big city, but the heat that only seems to be a thing out here. As I perused H and M and Topshop and took in the coffee shops and restaurants, I felt like I could have been chillin’ on Oxford Street on a really sunny day in June. The only difference, however, was the lagoon. It’s a bit traumatic, but in many places in Australia you can’t actually swim on the beaches because of sharks (dun dun DUN), so these places make pretend beach-y, pool-y things so you can pretend that you’re living your best beach life even though you’re not. I found the whole thing a bit strange to be honest, like why not just face facts that you’re not beach city and be done with it? Australia is a strange place sometimes. 

Lagoon life…

That classic Brisbane photo…

 

However, there was one thing Brisbane offered me that nowhere else had yet. The chance to hold – squeal – koalas! Now I’m a big fan of the classic koala based on the fact that we share two key interests: eating and sleeping. A koala sleeps for 18 hours a day, and for me, that sounds like living the absolute dream. Also, they can sleep in pretty much any position, a skill that I feel I have acquired after almost 2 months away from home, and a lot of time spent sleeping on chairs in hostel waiting rooms. However, unlike my furry friends, I don’t have chlamydia! When the koala keeper handed me over my koala, called Halle (after Halle Berry), I turned embarrassingly fan girl and started an Oscar acceptance style speech thanking the guy so much for letting me hold Halle. He gave me a dead eyed look that to me suggested he hears this shit faaar too often. He was not best pleased, however, when I burst into tears and begged to keep Halle forever. Joking… (sort of). 

Bae 🐨

After just 2 nights in Brisbane, we hopped back on the bus and headed to Noosa. Noosa is basically a cute little beach town, a bit like Byron Bay but more mainstream. The sun was constantly shining, everyone was tanned and happy and me and Natasha found the world’s best cake shop, which we spent three consecutive days in… #missyoufionasfancies

On our first day in Noosa, the hostel organised a nature walk including cute views and koalas. However, the walk left at 10am and we were both still snoring away as 10 came and went. So, armed with shit trainers, water bottles and the dream of seeing a koala, we headed off prepared for the walk of our lives. 

Love a good posed candid photo 😂

Witness me paddle boarding above (lol jk…)


And did it disappoint? Nope, it was beautiful and the coast was pretty and many a posed candid photo was taken… for all of maybe half an hour, after which point we were literally swimming in a sexy solution of sweat and suncream and the scent of disappointment at the lack of koalas. So, we rather promptly retreated to the town, air con, and, you guessed it, Fiona’s Fancies. Speaking of other walking disappointments, on our last day we decided to venture down to Sunshine Beach, the other main beach in Noosa besides Main Beach (creative naming, that). We trekked through many a housing estate and tough terrain (streets), and even a touch of rain to find the most disappointing beach ever. Being nature phobic, I personally like a beach with tacky beach shops and cafes aplenty, however Sunshine Beach was literally deserted and there was grass. On the beach. Not worth the walk (and the four dollars I spent on the bus back – awks).

You know life is tough when this is a disappointing beach…

Weirdly though, I much preferred Noosa, with its quirky shops, national parks and palm trees to the concrete jungle of Brisbane. Maybe there’s a nature lover in me yet… 

Surfers and Party Animals: Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise

Plot twist: Byron Bay isn’t quite like it looks in the Inbetweeners film. I’m not sure where all the actual hippies of the East coast of Oz live, but it’s definitely not in Byron.  
As the first stop of our East Coast adventure and pretty much the only place either me or Natasha had heard of besides Sydney, there was a certain pressure on Byron Bay to live up to its hippie stereotype. But what was actually there was the world’s most cliquey surfer town, where pale anti-surfer types like us were not allowed. Don’t get me wrong, we tried the whole surfer babe thing, but after approximately five milli-seconds in the water and a jellyfish sting for Natasha, we decided it just wasn’t for us. 

More my kind of sport…


What I will say for surfers is that they’ve got some intense core muscles. Carrying that surfboard back up to the hostel made me feel like I was baring my own cross, Jesus style. It was hot, heavy, and I even had a weird crazy breakdown when the sand started burning my feet. So then, naturally, I wimped out and made Natasha carry my surfboard for me. As you do… 

Despite all the strange looks we got for being pale and nerdy looking, and not having a clue about ‘catching waves, maaaaan’, I thought Byron Bay was pretty cute. It could have been the three fro-yos in as many days, but I like to think the chill vibe and the pokey little shops had something to do with it. 

A ‘natural’ shot of us watching the sunset in Byron Bay 🌞


Surfers Paradise, the next stop on the classic East Coast tour, was certainly not Paradise. I’m not exactly a glamazonian, but I’m pretty sure our hostel was a step above hell. I mean, we were staying in a hostel where the logo was a guy with a massive boner. I kid you not. As well as that treat, there were 8 beds crammed into a room the size of my utility room at home, and two pathetic fans that I’m pretty sure only chilled the corner of the room with no beds in. Just when I thought life couldn’t get any more traumatic, I opened my eyes one night to see a gekko just chillin’ above my bed. Casual. Yep, I was pretty glad when it was time to move on from Surfers Paradise to the next stop. 

I was NOT ‘excited’ about sleeping here…

Despite supposedly being in paradise, there wasn’t actually a whole lot to do in Surfers Paradise. It was a cool place, with skyscrapers lining the beach, but it sort of reminded me of the obligatory cheap drinking holiday you take in your teens – lots of clubs, tourist shops, and late night kebab shops, but not a whole lot else. So what did me and Natasha do for two days there? Theme parks, because we are that cultural. We spent a day at Wet ‘n’ Wild and a day at MovieWorld, whilst trying to kid ourselves that theme parks and water parks only exist down under, so we were being cultural AF. 

Embracing the party culture in Surfers Paradise #drunkeyes

Being an obsessive ride walk through fan, I was pretty excited for adventures down under, but it turns out riding massive water slides in a tiny bikini is basically a disaster waiting to happen. Sat on a rubber ring at the top of a slide, my bikini bottoms decided to attach themselves to the mechanics of the slide, meaning that as the slide guy tried to push me down, I could hear a nice, fresh, ripping sound as my cheap bottoms gave way. The guy, not hearing my protests, kept trying to push me down as the ripping intensified. Eventually he got the message, but I ended the ride with a massive wedgie and a heavy dose of humiliation. All good fun. And the day even ended with a nice trip to the first aid tent, after I came loose from the board I was sliding down a slide on and cut my arm. With blood streaming everywhere, I was pretty sure I was going to need airlifting to the nearest hospital, but luckily the nurse on site was able to save me with a, um, plaster. #neardeathexperience #almostdied 
I was also very excited, at MovieWorld, to try my first virtual reality rollercoaster. For anyone that isn’t a crazy rollercoaster obsessive, this is when you ride a rollercoaster with a headset on that shows you a film whilst the ride goes. Natasha had decided to sit this one out, so I queued up excitedly, only to find out that there was a delay because someone had thrown up on the ride before mine. Which filled me with confidence, obviously. The headset was the strangest thing as it completely separates you from the ‘real world’, so you have no idea whereabouts you are on the rollercoaster or when the drops are about to come. The ride might have been called the ‘Arkham Asylum’, but I’m pretty sure I looked fully nuts as I kept grabbing the random girl next to me and screaming ‘are you still there!?’, as well as giving her constant updates on the headset story. Making native Australian friends  wherever I go… 

Surfers Paradise by night (and after a lot of wine…)

Overall? I’d give Byron Bay a solid 6/10 and Surfers a 3/10. But I feel like, had I been a supremo surfer, those scores could easily have been 10/10. Maybe one day.. 

The West Coast: Beauty and the Bus

Having spent 7 months in Australia last year, I’d figured out that everyone and their dog travels the East Coast, but not many travel the West. Possibly because I’d lived in WA (Western Australia), I really wanted to go and see what the mysterious West had to offer, partially influenced by my friend Jess’ Instagram posts of spotless beaches, red mountains and, gasp, whale sharks. So I booked myself onto a ridiculously expensive seven day bus tour, figuring that as this was, y’know, the outback, and all,  it probably wasn’t something I should attempt to do alone. 

Oh, the bus. Little did I know, as I hopped on optimistically on day one, clutching a chai latte and a couple of lukewarm maccas pancakes, just how much time I would spend sweating to death, gazing out the window at a literally never changing landscape. The landscape was red, dry, more red, and more dry. The only highlight(?) to the many years of my life spent in the bus was the occasional sighting of a dead kangaroo at the side of the road, or, even better, a live one. Our super Australian tour guide also had a fun habit of randomly pulling over to show us spiders/snakes/termites/whatever happened to distract him from his manic driving, so there was that too, I suppose. #buzzing #not 


First stop on our whistle-stop tour of WA was Kalbari national park, where I experienced how bloody hot this country gets. To my absolute horror, we were up at 5am (just don’t) to abseil down into a gorge, as you do. I’m pretty sure the severe lack of sleep gave me immunity from the fact I was lingering over the edge of death, kept safe only by a piece of string and the instructor, who made a comment about my ‘breasticles’. Nice. By 10am it was 45 degrees down in the gorge and I was starting to regret my tactical packing decision of only bringing a 250ml bottle to save space in my bag. I felt like a member of the cast of Lost as I rationed out my water supplies, promising myself that, after that hill, I could have a tiny sip. Kalbari itself was very… red. It was almost as if, maybe the rocks that formed the park were once a normal colour, but then the sun got to them and they just couldn’t deal. A bit like me in the sun, to be honest. The other thing that struck me about the place was how quiet it was. At one point, having taken an inconvenient toilet break, I got separated from the group, believing they’d gone ahead without me. So I walked to the next viewpoint by myself, and literally didn’t see a soul, leaving me to conclude that, in the 10 minutes I was alone, I would die of dehydration and be found helpless and desolate, on my back like a tortoise (I was okay). Unlike the Blue Mountains in Sydney, there were no selfie stick baring tourists or handy signs, just… red. True ‘stralia, some one more pretentious than me could say. 


The next few days, were, luckily, less walking filled and more beach-and-cute-animal filled. First stop was Monkey Mia, known not for its monkeys but it’s dolphins (the name bemuses me too). However, the thing that struck me most walking along the resort beach at night was all the crabs. As we dolphin hunted late one night, I shined the torch at the ground and saw literally hundreds of the buggers scuttering around my feet doing that stupid sideways run crabs like to do. Having done a little scream and grabbed the arm of the poor sod next to me, I decided it was better just to turn off the torch and pray for the best. The moment, however, when a dolphin just casually glided past us in the water is one I think I’ll always remember, the way her skin glinted in the moonlight, and how nonplussed she was by all these people going ‘omigod there’s a dolphin’. Feeding them was like a military operation, with each dolphin swimming to the shore, receiving its two fish and then disappearing until next time. Eating and then disappearing sounds like a pretty good life plan to me tbh.. 

Awkward accidental dab…


That facial expression though…


The final few days were basically something out of a postcard. The beaches looked like those kinda idyllic beaches that you see in holiday brochures with happy attractive families with 2.4 children. But they were real! Clear water, blue skies and white sand. And, obviously, a lot of sunburn. After purchasing a cringe floating device to help me snorkel as I’m like the world’s weakest swimmer, I jumped into the (freezing) water and saw a turtle! Just chillin’, you know. Completely unphased by the fact that a million tourists were clambering about with go-pros, snorkels and, in my case, floatation devices, Mr Turtle and his friends just did their thing. It really was an ‘omg-pinch-me’ moment, being so close to such a cool animal. So I basically turned turtle stalker and spent hours just swimming about after the turtles, in beautiful blue waters. Such a hard life. 


So, my verdict on the west coast? Beautiful but deserted AF. A nice place to visit but I don’t think I’d wanna like live there. I need a city! And the bus? Never again. 

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Melbourne

Ah, Melbourne. Now, I could write about the combination of the old and new architecture, the incredible Hosier lane or  the amazing food that’s everywhere, but instead I’m going to discuss the multiple public humiliations I endured in my favourite city. Because, lets face it, I know what I’d rather read. 

Pretending I know about Pokemon on Hosier Lane…


Being a skint backpacker, I opted for the overnight bus from Sydney to save on a night of accommodation, and of that I have to say only this: So. Much. Regret. After arriving with only five minutes to spare (apparently a bit of a theme for me and Levi…), we ended up sat separately in the world’s most uncomfortable seats, and I had the fortune of a charging port that didn’t work meaning Isla the iPhone was stuck on a traumatic 12% for most of the journey. So when we finally arrived in Melbourne at the middle-of-the-night time of 6am, we were grumpy, bedraggled, sweaty, and basically people you’d avoid in the street. After the longest walk with the heaviest backpacks ever, we rocked up at our all female hostel to find out it was exactly the opposite of that; definitely not all female, as two men sat in their boxers and the breakfast table. Further awkward glances were exchanged between me and Levi as the hostel owner had to be woken up and appeared to have no bloody clue who we were, who she was or what century we were in. Then she got rather shitty when we didn’t wanna share a room with two guys in the ‘female’ hostel. It’s fair to say we made a pretty swift move on to somewhere else, somewhere normal. Lesson learned: stick to branded hostels rather than random cheap booking.com choices picked from the other side of the world…

After meeting up with Jess in our new (thank the lord) branded hostel, we were treated to meeting our new, rather unusual roommate. He was neither young nor backpacker, but a silver fox businessman who apparently preferred the hostel life to hotels. You know, as you do at the age of 60. Anyway, D, as we’ll call him, had a catch phrase that I feel many intoxicated backpackers have heard of the years: ‘Dormitory comes from the French word dormir which means to SLEEP’. One that, apparently, did not apply when his beauty regime started at 5am… We later saw our dear friend D lurking by the local sex shop, so what sort of ‘business’ he was in Melbourne for, I’m not sure… 

Reunited with Jessie J on a (sewage filled) beach


Now, being cultured AF, obviously our first choice of activity in Melbourne was not the many museums or historical monuments the city has to offer, but the enormous slip ‘n’ slide erected in Federation Square. Undeterred by the fact that the slide’s queue was mainly made of up eight year olds, me and Levi grabbed our rubber rings and rushed to join the queue. After we’d gained our confidence, we decided a race was in order. Being super eager to win, I placed my rubber ring on the slide and decided to run up. I thought, thought, I’d perfectly timed by flop onto the ring, however as my body zoomed straight over the rubber ring and collided with a nice, comfy bit of floor in front of it, I realised I’d fucked up. With an aching side and pride, I stood up to find both my friends, all the lifeguards and about a million random people cracking up. As I took the walk of shame back up to the start of the slide, I kinda wanted to shrivel up and die. Particularly when I had to get pushed off by the lifeguard the second time (normally reserved for the under tens) as I could just not move. Fair to say I was mocked constantly for the next few days over my majestic fall..

The slide of doom…

Dignified as always…


Perhaps unsurprisingly my departure from the city wasn’t too smooth either. On our last day in the city, we decided to hit up the night food market, one of my favourite things in the city because food. Last time I was in Melbourne, I went for a fairly boring (but safe) cheese toastie, so this time I was keen to embrace a more YOLO attitude, which is how I ended up with the Jerk Chicken From Hell (which I looked like a jerk eating). Now I knew jerk chicken was spicy, but I was thinking chicken tikka masala spicy, rather than wanting death to save you from the spiciness spicy. At first, I thought I’d sussed it, but then the eye watering began. Then came the food sweats. Then came the Kylie Jenner-esque lips that swelled to double their normal size. I was going through a near death experience eating this chicken stood up on a tram and my water supplies were low and all my friends could do was laugh while strangers looked as me as if I’d suddenly turned into a big chilli (I certainly felt as though I had). Sigh. 

Should have stuck with the doughnuts…


And then there was the Great Tram Fuck Up of January 2017. Me and Levi had given ourselves plenty of time to make our 10pm coach back to the city, but apparently the tram drivers hadn’t got the memo about, y’know, stopping where they say they will. Now, the city of Melbourne has free wifi, so whilst Levi was busy catching Pokemon and I was giving off #lifegoals on Instagram, the tram decided to turn the wrong way, which me and Levi didn’t realise until it was too late. Cue a lot of panic and a frantic Uber order, and then us trying to explain to our driver where we were when we didn’t actually know and he spoke little English. The casualty of this commotion? My Kingston University hoody, which is probably to this day trawling round Melbourne on a tram going the wrong way. RIP. (Oh, and we made the coach, for all those concerned). 

So yeah, that was chaotic Melbourne. Still my favourite place in Aus so far, but I feel the East Coast may put up some strong competition.. 

P.S. The beaches had sewage in the water and I now have scales burnt on my back. Beaches didn’t work out too well for me in Melbourne. 

(Re)Falling In Love With Australia 

It’s fair to say I left Australia under a bit of a dark cloud. Well, gigantic thunderstorm may be more of an accurate term; after walking out on my employers and spending the day as a wreck before flying home, I wasn’t thinking too fondly of Oz. I had four months between coming home and flying back out to get some money together and if I’m honest, there were times when I wondered if it was all even worth it. After a 14 hour shift stacking shelves with the start of the flu, I vividly remember angsty Inner Meg thinking ‘Why am I even bothering!? It’s a few bloody beaches and a stupid opera house that looks like a pile of sliced oranges’. Luckily, Outer Meg somehow persevered, and on the 28th December, I found myself on a plane to the other side of the world (literally). 

Flying, for me, is a bit like a diet. You’re all like ‘it’ll be great! I’ll eat healthily and run and it’ll be lovely’ and then within three hours you remember precisely why your diets never last longer than two hours. Being a human sloth who loves to eat, sleep and watch crap films, being on a plane should be great, but Asiana Airlines (.i.e. the airline for skint backpackers like myself) is something else all together. I’m talking cramped seats, hideous meals and hot, sweaty changeovers in hard-to-navigate airports. So much fun. If I’m completely honest, by the time I got to Australia, 2 days after I left England, I was over it. So over it. Until I got here, that is. 

#overit


I’m not gonna deny that the amazing candy cane frappucino I had in the airport had something to do with getting me out of my funk. But the second I saw that bloody ‘orange slice’ opera house from the window of the train, I knew I was onto something good. Someone once told me you should always arrive in a new city at night, and despite being jetlagged AF as soon as me and Levi saw Sydney glistening in the darkness, I knew that all those hours pulling pints, stacking cans of baked beans, and basically having no fun ever had been totally worth it. 



I’m pretty sure Sydney has put a spell on me. I swore down that I was a Melbourne girl at heart the last time I was here, but, as Levi would say, the opera house is ‘bae’. I think this witchcraft of sorts started when those world famous fireworks erupted at midnight taking us into 2017, and even now writing this on a return coach from Melbourne, I’m more than a little bit excited to be returning. Get me back to the town for rich people and selfie stick bearing tourists please! 

Oh, and the not so Instagram worthy bits? A (suspected) broken toe, a 10 hour wait for 10 minutes of fireworks, apocalyptic rain for our bridge climb, a near death moment (maybe) involving 5 huntsman spiders, and a dodge experience with an air bnb host who slept in the living room because ‘uhhhh there was a bird in my room like two weeks ago and it shit and I haven’t worked up the energy to clear it up yet’. #keepingitreal 

Coming Home

So, I came home. Like many things in my (fairly) dysfunctional life, it was a pretty impulsive decision; kinda like a ‘fuck this, I’m done’. Ironically, pretty much as going travelling to begin with was. 

Long story short, I was au pair-ing in (definitely not perfect) Perth, and I was so over it. I mean, I’d been over it after like a week of being in charge of three crazy children, but still. I was working a 40+ hour week for like £100, and honestly, it made me a bit of a moody cow. Couple that with a host mum who lost it because I accidentally splashed her newly mopped floor when washing up (outside of my working hours, to help), and three children who told me most days how much they hated me and wanted me to go back to England, and I was fairly fed up. The shit hit the fan when I woke up on a Wednesday, it was raining, and the kids had decided today was a special ‘let’s be mean to Meg’ day. I got in the car with the mum to drop them at school, and I decided I was so done. So, I told the mum this (went down well, as you can imagine), got out of the car, packed up my stuff and basically carried out a Great Escape with Jess and the bewildered little boy she looks after, who hadn’t the foggiest what was going on. After a lot of soul searching (and cups of tea), from Jess, Harriet, Jess’ mum and my mum, and £450 on the credit card later, I was on a plane, on my way back to England. And the relief was intense. 

The Great Escape Buddy


Coming back from being away is the strangest thing. It’s a bit like being plugged into the Matrix (hope you’re all impressed by the sci-fi reference). Everything looked the same and seemed the same, but yet you know it’s all different, and that there’s a whole other world there. That there’s people you know going about their lives whilst you’re asleep. That the other side of the world is legit a thing, not just some mythical place where mythical kangaroos and mythical koalas go about their mythical ways…

Totally not mythical…


To put it bluntly, the whole thing is a massive mind-fuck. Within 24 hours, you’ve gone from being, literally, on the other side of the world, to being back in your own bed, with your dogs and your stuff, and responsibilities again. One of the first things I had to do on returning home was fill out a scary student finance form, cementing the fact that I was legit a grown up again, with grown up type things to worry about. Travelling is kinda like getting really drunk after screwing up your A-levels;  you’ve still got the whole ‘shit, I mucked up my a-levels’ issues the next day, but you’ve had a lot of fun avoiding it. Only now you have to deal with it with a headache. 

But the crucial difference? Travelling is good for the soul, in a way that tequila most definitely not. It makes your parents all proud (though why I’m not quite sure, as I basically went on holiday…), your friends think you’re all inspirational and you kind of feel different. I’m not saying I suddenly love mornings, kale and the gym, but I feel more confident in myself and more able to deal with the future, and even student finance (after ignoring their letters for a few days… obviously). I might be doing the same things as before, but I’m a different me, which makes everything else different. 

#travellingqueen


And as for Australia? I’m leaving it as a to be continued… I’ll be back (one day!). 

Kuala Lumpur: The City That Sleeps In 

Everywhere else that I’ve been during my travels, I’ve pretty much loved straight away. I mean, the second I saw that opera house glittering away in Sydney, I knew we were meant to be, in spite of the jet lag and the joys of gastroenteritis. 
Kuala Lumpur wasn’t like that. My first experience of the Petronas Towers was underwhelming, as it was grey, rainy, and I’d spent an hour trying to find the bloody things (harder than you’d think). And then there was the shopping centres everywhere. Now, I love to shop as much as the next person, but we’re talking ten storey beasts of shopping centres aimed at people with ten times more spending money than I had. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was an ant. Now, I hate to use the term ‘bustling metropolis’, because cliche much, but I basically felt like an ant in fisherman pants amongst a load of other ants wearing Gucci/business suits. In that artificial light, I felt like I could’ve been anywhere, particularly as I saw a pair of old ladies scuttle past Marks and Spencer’s, clutching a meal deal, chatting about this ‘terrible weather’. 

Oh so grey ☁️


But then, after spending the first day/night wondering why on earth I hadn’t just gone to Bali and laid on a beach for five days, I ventured out of the hostel at night. And I realised that Kuala Lumpur comes into its own at night (resulting in lay ins until 11 for next four days). I’m not sure whether Kuala Lumpurians just don’t do mornings or it’s a ‘massive city thing’ but I fell in love with this crazy capital at night. With everything lit up, the city truly became a magical place, where anything is possible. I mean, I got the Naked 2 palette for £5 (knock-off), got called ‘pretty lady’ about a million times (followed by ‘you need a new handbag?’), and even got asked out for a drink, twice (by a club promoter looking to fill his bar). Truly a place of dreams… And that was only Chinatown. 

Crazy Chinatown…


It’s a strange city where the Islamic call to prayer can be heard whilst ‘happy ending’ massages are so readily available. But I feel like this is part of its appeal (not the happy endings, but the eccentricity of the place). Without a doubt, the most jaw dropping moment of the trip was the Batu caves, a massive temple carved into a cave for some reason that one day I’ll research. It’s pretty incredible, seeing such a holy place, and looking back to see Lord Murugan (a Hindu deity, apparently) keeping an eye on KL, but in typical KL style, despite it being such a holy place that all knees and shoulders have to be covered up, once you get to the top, you can buy an ice cream and a selfie stick. Just to, y’know, take in the holiness. 

272 steps, all of which I climbed! #legday


Exploring inside the caves (and being blonde!)


Despite my initial ‘meh’ness towards the city, I’m leaving today feeling pretty inspired by the place. I feel like, whilst the city is a concrete jungle by default, it’s a jungle with some cool stuff. Like the bird park, where I spent an afternoon watching a chick hatch from an egg, or Berjaya Times Square, a shopping centre complete with its own Central Park and theme park. Or Central Market, where I stumbled across an impromptu street dance show, and found a crazy display of street art. In short, KL has reminded me why travel is so important, and how lucky I am to be able to do it ❤️

Only rode it 3 times #sorrynotsorry

6 Months Away From Adulting And What It’s Taught Me 

I left England and my supposed grown up life six months ago now; meaning that all those adult things (bills, a career, future hubby/kids/white picket fence etc) were sorta out on hold whilst I frolicked around Australia loving life and avoiding all life responsibilities/choices. In those six months that I’ve been gone, it’s all got pretty weird back on my home ground; when I left home Instagram was full of lattes, scarves and snow, David Cameron had his feet under the table in number 10, we were still in the EU, and if you admitted to being outside looking for Pokemon, people might think you were a bit strange. In the same way as England has had a few life changes since I’ve been gone, I suppose it’s fair to say that being a day away from everything and everyone I know has changed me somewhat. Not being trapped in the 9-5 of a job and the meh-ness of day to day life teaches you all about yourself and who you wanna be more than any cringy mindfulness class could. So here’s five things I’ve learnt over the last 6 months (and 9 days, if you wanna get precise…)

#TB to Gatwick Airport


1. One way or another, you got this. 

Even living the dream travelling the other side of the world, there are situations that are not ideal (to say the least..). But once you’ve had a crazy Thai doctor cut open your toe, convinced a two year old to take eye drops and survived a loong flight alone, you know that somehow you’ll get through whatever stuff happens to you. 

2. People are generally nice, have faith in them! 

Possibly due to the whole depression malarkey, or maybe just because I’m a grumpy cow, I kind of assume that, other than my friends and family, everyone will instantly dislike me, and that strangers are scary and people to avoid. But being away from all my ‘safe’ people has taught  me that, for the most part, people don’t instantly decide that they hate me for no good reason, that on the whole people are pretty damn nice. Except Hitler. 


3. Nothing is ever really that bad, for that long. 

Sometimes my life is more like an apocalypse than a rom-com, and it’s all a bit crappy and I find myself drowning in a pool of self pity, and wondering ‘why me?’. 8 months ago I’d just been demoted and then dumped and I was just over it, it being this whole life thing. But fast forward 8 months and I’m in Australia, feeling pretty happy and not caught up in my self pity spider web anymore. So when things feel crap, dive head first into a pot of Ben and Jerry’s and know it’ll all get better. 

4. Do what you love.

It probably seems pretty obvious, but I’ve really learnt the importance of doing the things that I love whilst being away from the norm. I spent a good two years between 19 and 21 getting hammered every Saturday and dying ever Sunday, and whilst it provided me with some of the best anecdotes ever, it’s not what made me happy, I don’t think. Travelling simplifies everything somewhat; it’s like ‘this twenty dollars can go on a couple of glasses of wine or it can go towards diving with a whale shark’. And for me, there’s not really a competition. (And yes, I’ll admit that sometimes ‘diving with a whale shark’ can be replaced with ‘buying some chocolate and binge reading a good book’. But that’s just me…’)

Experiences > Wine


5. Life is a rollercoaster, you just gotta ride it…

Whenever I watch a horror film, I google the ending, and I’ve spent many nights awake reading because I just had to know what was gonna happen. But having spent six months in Oz, I’ve learnt that you’ve just gotta go with it and see what happens really. A year ago, I’d just graduated; six months ago I was a checkout chicka, and now I’m a nanny in Australia. Life is a crazy one and who knows where I’ll be this time next year; running the marathon, walking on the moon, a mother of four?! The key is to learn to love the ride, close your eyes and chill, rather than straining your neck looking for every little twist and turn. 

… But most of all; stay true to you! 

I might be blonde, living in Australia and pronouncing ‘pasta’ with a slight Aussie twang, but I’ll never like mushrooms or early mornings. And that’s just me ❤️

Just being me, down under…

The Great Australian Winter

So, in my non-travelling life back in rainy England, on every single rainy/cold/wet/generally grim day, I’d dream about hopping on a plane to Australia (first class, in my fantasy, obviously), and landing in a sub-tropical, sumshine-y paradise, like something from a postcard. And if you leave England in January? Perfect. But if your fantasy involves leaving on a depressingly rainy day in July? Yeah, dream on. 

I kinda assumed that ‘Stralya’ would just be constantly sunny, like England in summer, as everyone said. But I’ll say this; whoever said that is a liar. I pictured myself wandering around in light summer dresses and flip flops, with maybe a light cardigan thrown over the top. The reality? I wear my coat constantly, and my poor flip flops are actually dusty. 

Sunny England…


And 100% rain in Oz…


Now back in Britain, we are amazing at dealing with winter. Like seriously, we’ve got this down. We crack on the central heating, order our festive themed ‘winter’ lattes from Starbucks, wrap up in about twenty layers and keep our fingers crossed for the prospect of snow. Now, our Aussie friends may be great at dealing with 45 degree summers, but when it comes to winter, they haven’t got the foggiest. Central heating isn’t a thing here, what our friends do down under is crack out retro radiators from the 80s and try to put on a extra sweater or rug (weird oz word for blanket) to avoid the sky high running costs. Maybe not all that different to my dad back home then… 

And then there’s the rain. Now over here, it’s actually vaguely exciting for the kids when it rains, mainly because the poor deprived children will never get to experience snow. But whilst British Peppa Pig and her posse (probably a word never before used to describe Peppa Pig…) love to jump in muddy puddles, our Aussie counterparts aren’t so down with it. Basically, if it rains, leaving the house for anything that isn’t life or death isn’t the done thing. But unlike our pathetic British spit of rain, here when it rains, it really does rain. I’m talking flooding, power cuts, soaked children, the whole malarkey. 

Sigh…

Despite being down under, it’s pretty hard not to have #lifeenvy for life back in England where it’s sunny(ish) and warm(ish). When your entire Facebook feed is posting festival pictures, beach selfies or (let’s face it), sunny Pokemon go pictures, and you’re sat shivering in your uggs in the 16 degree cold (trust, it’s freezing), it’s hard not to feel pretty cheated by this whole ‘living the dream in Australia’ thing. But what keeps me going? This picture. Of me, in shorts, in Melbourne (the coldest state in Australia) in AUTUMN. And the memory of how crazily burnt I got that day…

Still got the burn lines now…


Like anything in life, it’s about sticking through the crappy grey rainy days for the promised sunshine ahead, which according to Professor Google, is in 46 days. And then there’s the weird festive feel in the air right now… We’re talking Christmas lights, ice rinks, trees and fake snow. Australia, if there’s one thing you’re getting very, very right about your winters, it’s pretending it’s Christmas. Because… why not? 🎅🏻