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Saturday, 18 April 2015

BACKPACKING EUROPE: Colmar, France

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BACKPACKING EUROPE: Paris, France





Ah Paris (I say this in the French pronunciation "Pah-ree"), the city of love; where passion, happiness and romance completely consumes you... Is the exact opposite to how I felt when we arrived. I was fucking miserable. As I dragged myself through the train station, throwing strops and tantrums like a 3 year old, all I wanted to do was get to our hostel and go to bed.

Wondering around the train station like two lost sheep, Jack and I tried to figure out where to go, or where to start shall I say. As the Parisian's barged passed us, zigzagging in all sorts of directions, I couldn't concentrate, even the English language seemed foreign. I don't know if it's just me but I'm pretty sure the maps in France make no fucking sense, a sign showing your destination will point in one direction and when you get there, you end up in a bin or walking into a bloody wall... This is not Hogwarts France, platform 9¾ does not exist.

Firing evil looks at Jack and replying with one word answers (as if it was his fault we didn't know where to go), my patience grew thinner and the blisters on my feet grew bigger, so we decided to head to the information centre (probably something we should have done when we first arrived).

Dashing out of the Metro Station, feeling slightly relieved because it's similar to the London Underground, we didn't realise how far away our hostel was, especially because the final tube we needed to get was closed for maintenance, typical! The information centre didn't tell us that back at the station though did they! Luckily we managed to get on another tube, which took us right to our destination, or so I thought. It felt like we were walking for hours to get to our hostel, the roads seemed to go on and on and the sign posts and maps made no bloody sense whatsoever but once we got to the hostel, I was so happy I almost cried. Now all I needed was a hot shower, my pajamas and a good nights sleep to recharge my batteries.

Waking up feeling slightly refreshed, I was ready to explore Paris and everything it had to offer.

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

BACKPACKING EUROPE: Giverny & Monet's Garden, France

Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, Monet's Garden, Giverny, France
16th April 2015

Today we were visiting Claude Monet's Garden and I was excited to roll around naked in a field of Tulips... After checking out of our room at 10:00am, I couldn't wait to leave Saint-Marcel, even if the thought of returning here later on to collect our backpacks would continue to play on my mind throughout the day.
Jack and I decided to make the most of our daily budget and walk the whole way there, which by the way, took almost two hours. Walking along the River Siene, we decided to stop off at Lidl and fill up our day-packs with baguettes, olives, salad and serrano ham. 

Claude Monet's House & Garden, Giverny, France
As we walked from Vernon to Giverny (my voice irritating Jack due to my deafening singing for the duration of the journey), the scenery that accompanied us was magnificent. I felt like I was walking within a kaleidoscope. 

The village of Giverny was a wonderful fairytale, full of pastels and personality however, the closer we got to Monet's Garden, the more touristy it got. As swarms of school kids and packs of visitors walked in the opposite direction, we had been blessed with the luck of arriving at the gardens at the right time. 

Flowers everywhere, Claude Monet's Gardens, France
As I stepped foot into this botanical brilliance, rows of colour and life paved our way. There were so many different types of flowers blossoming together; daisies, tulips, snowdrops, daffodils, primrose and peonies, projecting the allurement of nature, and as the sun shone over this timeless fairy-tale, the garden became alive. 
As rainbows of colour ignited my soul, Jack and I sat amidst the garden enjoying our picnic.
I was happy to be sat here with my best friend, experiencing the muse of Monet together with our very own eyes.

Loud & crazy Frogs in Monet's Gardens, France
Claude Monet's Garden. France
After too much sun and crazy frogs, we took a tour of Monet's house. The decor of the house was just lovely and I wished that it was my home. I was amazed to find a room full of Monet's original paintings, as I half-expected them to all be hanging in some kind of famous museum. Gazing upon his profound passion brought me back to my school days and I remembered how fascinated I was by his individual imagination.

I left Monet's Garden with fresh inspiration, a sense of adventure and a new outlook on nature. And after a long and hot day, Jack's , "Fuck walking back, let's get a taxi." And I agreed. My new outlook on nature was short lived.

Inside Monet's House, Claude Monet's Garden, France
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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

BACKPACKING EUROPE: Rouen & Vernon, France

The Old Mill of Vernon, Vernon
15th April 2015

As I opened my eyes, the smell of second-hand smoke and last night's alcohol filled my nostrils. For a split second I forgot where I was until I my head began to ache and I immediately started to regret how much alcohol I consumed last night. Note to self; when it's thirty degrees outside and it's only your second day backpacking, don't get too drunk the night before. Desperate for water, as I shoved paracetamol down my throat, I realised that my water bottle was empty. Looking back and forth at the kitchen tap, not knowing if the water in France was drinkable (which it is) was probably something that I should have looked up before I left England. Second note to self; find out if the water is safe to drink in another country before you consume eight strong beers and four glasses of champagne OR make sure that your water bottle is always filled up before you go to sleep.

It was 7:00am and we were leaving Amiens today to continue our French adventure. As Jack and I half-heartedly packed our bags, cramming in used belongings into whatever space we could find, our heads were telling us to 'seize the day...' Carpe Diem and all that but our faces were saying otherwise. I was hungover and gross, and all I wanted was my own bed and a Dominoes pizza.

How I felt when I woke up hungover in Amiens





We arrived at our next destination, Rouen, at around 11:00am and thankfully by this point, my hangover had started to evaporate and I began feeling grateful again for my first night in France, as well the people that I had met so far. Jack however, was struggling with a terrible hangover, looking sorry for himself, as he dragged his body around the Old Town. As I took in the sights, trying to appreciate the short space of time that we had in Rouen, Jack continued to mope and avoid daylight. Regretting last night's 'whiskey breaks', he decided that the only breaks he would take from now on were the ones to rest his body from the massive weight that he was carrying around on his back.

The city of Rouen was beautiful, plenty of architecture and churches to admire but after walking around in the sweltering heat for what seemed like hours, we darted to the nearest spot of shade and collapsed on to the cool, concrete floor. The weight of our lives for seven weeks was strapped to our backs, getting heavier by the second. As we gulped down water and tried to figure out what to do next, we simultaneously came to the same conclusion... 'Ah fuck it. Let's find a cafe, book a cheap hotel near by to sort our lives out and try to remember why this whole travelling thing is actually worth it.' It had only been one day and we were already craving a night alone in a hotel.

Hungover in Rouen, France

































As we arrived at our hotel in Vernon, which stood opposite an unimpressive and miserable industrial estate, I realised that our 'home for the night' matched my mood perfectly and it was probably karma for escaping to the comfort of a hotel, two days into our trip. Selfishly barging my way past Jack and muttering some kind of French to the receptionist, all I wanted to do was throw my backpack across the room, rip my clothes off and scrub away the sweat and misery from today's journey.

I immediately felt better after my shower and decided that the location of the hotel wasn't so bad after all until once again, karma slapped us in the face when we realised how difficult it was to find a place to eat, or even a bloody shop! Everything was either closed or miles apart and all I wanted was a cold, fizzy drink. I was tempted to throw myself into the River Siene and deal with the bad shits later on.

After walking for about fifty minutes in a strop, craving any kind of food and drink, we finally stumbled across McDonald's, hooray! 'Yep, that will do nicely,' I thought. I specifically ordered a large meal just for the size of the drink and as I gulped down the cold, disappointing taste of watered down coke, I realised how much of an anticlimax it was. 'Ah fuck it,' I thought, 'You're a traveller now, get used to it.'


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BACKPACKING EUROPE: Amiens, France

Wandering the streets of Amiens, France

14th April 2015

After a long, sweaty twelve hour journey from England to France, we had finally arrived at our first destination, Amiens. Although, I was excited to explore this unfamiliar city, my eagerness was overlapped by butterflies and anxiety. I was nervous about meeting new people and trying to speak the language.

As my eyes glazed over the foreign directions of this brand-new country, we stepped out of the train station and tried to figure out where to go next. A beautiful and dare I say, the ideal French girl rode towards us on her bicycle to meet my boyfriend (Jack) and I, and the expression on her face instantly made me feel more relaxed. Jack had previously met Claire when she was visiting family in our hometown (Coventry) last year. When Jack told them that we were coming to Amiens, they instantly wanted to meet up and welcome us to their city.

As we wandered along the cobbled streets of this French, picardy town, Claire introduced us to passing friends and other locals, including Aurelien, an aspiring photographer who was hosting us for the night at his apartment. As their French phrases faded into excellent English, I felt more relaxed and confident enough to make conversation, otherwise we would have all been communicating by random sign language and the only few French words that I had remembered from school nine years ago.

Gauthier, Una, Claire and me

Aurelien's studio apartment was a fresh mixture of French decor and Indonesian art, as his girlfriend, Una, was of Indonesian decent and had moved over to Amiens four years ago to study Fashion and Cinematography. As I glanced around the room, falling in love with their laid-back way of life, I was suddenly prompted to leave. We had been invited to a BBQ at Claire’s so we put down our backpacks and headed to the supermarket to stock up on beer and burgers.

I met various people that night, all driven by different hopes and dreams; Miriyam, a beautiful girl who crafted her own jewellery and was now competing for a spot in one of the best schools in France to further her passion; Gauthier who was an DJ and events organiser and Richard, a lead singer and guitarist in a band called 'Wolves And Moons'. They were all refreshingly ambitious, yet free and relaxed. They knew exactly what they wanted from life but were in no rush to get there. We shared similar views about everything and it just made think that although, we may live in different countries and and speak different languages, we are all the same at the core. Even our sense of humour was the same, 'Je m'en bat les couilles,' translates to 'I whip my balls and bounce it, which is the English equivalent to 'I don't give a shit.’ And I bloody loved that.

Words of Wisdom in Aurelien's apartment


After several beers and a couple of glasses of champagne, I was speaking better French than English and as we all danced to a mixture of French music and the Spice Girls, I felt as if I had known these people all of my life. My face was gleaming with happiness and appreciation, turning to Jack erratically and miming, ‘I can’t believe we are here.’ I was having the best time of my life and it was only the beginning.

As the clock hit 1:00am and people began to say goodbye (it was a Tuesday night after all and they all had work or class in the morning), I was still on a high. I hadn’t laughed so hard and so real for the first time since my depression had begun last year and I realised that this was it. This is what travelling is about and more importantly, this is what life is about. 

Stumbling back to Aurelien’s apartment, feeling slightly overwhelmed and ready for bed, Miriyam got out her guitar and Una began to sing. It was truly a pleasant and perfect way to end our first night.

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Monday, 16 March 2015

DON'T WORRY, BE PRESENT


Do you ever have those moments in life where a sudden wave of euphoria fills your entire being? Where an unexpected feeling makes you feel at peace for no apparent reason and the world makes sense for awhile? A feeling that is physically impossible to grasp and difficult to sum up into a matter of words but when you feel it, all you want to do is smile, be still and wallow in that calm and enchanting warmth, which consumes your whole, entire body... That right there is living in the present moment and that is true happiness.

I have experienced those moments spontaneously since I can remember but it wasn't until I got older that I realised what those moments were or what they actually meant. I never fully understood what 'living in the present' was or how to even live presently but growing up helped me to understand and once I fully understood, I also started to see and grasp what the meaning of life really is.

Living in the present doesn't come naturally to us anymore, as we are raised in a society that is fuelled by time, routine and excessive thinking. We are either living in the past or focusing on the future but are rarely experiencing the 'right now'. We're too busy questioning life, rather than living it. Nine-to-five jobs and habitually living in the past and future is filling us with regret, anxiety and depression. Its difficult to break away from our minds, even for a split second because that's all we are taught in this generation.

Happiness is hard to acknowledge and grasp when we live in a world driven by hypocrites and materialistic ideologies. From the moment we take our first breath and open our eyes to the world for the very first time, we are taught to obey rules and worship fake, shiny shit. We are taught to be afraid of life and each other, that having copious amounts of money is the 'right way to live' and the key to success, and if that's not your goal in life then you're doing it 'wrong'.

We are told that our body size and looks are more important that our own happiness. We are influenced in so many unhealthy ways, including what we should and should not think and I just feel like saying, "Oh fuck off." Ask yourself this; when you were in school, was there a lesson that taught you how to be happy or how to find happiness? Were you taught what the meaning of life was? Were you taught how to accept and deal with common disorders such as anxiety and depression? No. Instead, we are just taught a load of outdated bullshit that has no real meaning, stuff that does not benefit our mind and soul or helps us to progress in a healthy and meaningful way.

Life is not just about living but living in that present moment. It's about doing whatever you can to find your own, individual happiness and then recognising that happiness when it's right there within you. Happiness is not a feeling that you need to describe. You don't need to ask questions or try and come up with some logical conclusion on why you feel that way... You just do. Feel it. Enjoy it. Embrace it.

Let go of your ignorance and fears and learn to appreciate and acknowledge those present moments right now before they slip away. Your path to happiness starts here, right now.






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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

YOU CAN FIND BEAUTY IN ANYTHING


When the world is starting to wake up and the inside of my house is completely still, a calm and tranquil feeling pervades my body and leaves me with peace of mind. Something about the morning sun makes me feel grateful and tells me that I'm going to have a good, positive day. I live in a very basic city so the view from my bedroom window isn't exactly picturesque but it's amazing what you can do with a good zoom lens and a shutter button.

I'm not one of those people who naturally has an 'eye' for things in photography, I usually just 'point and click' but lately, I've started to see beauty in things I hadn't noticed before. There is just something really magical about nature and I enjoy trying to capture all of those many colours and details within that frame, which really make the image feel alive, like it did at the present moment.

I may live in a characterless city but even so, there is still beauty to be found, you just have to look a bit harder. My photography may not be perfect and that's cool because it's not why I take pictures. I take them because when I like the way something looks or makes me feel, I want to capture that moment forever and then share it with the world, so you can see what I am seeing today.


"In the darkness, she listened to the silence. She wallowed in the beautiful nothing it made." - A. Lynn

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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

THE BEGINNING AND THE END IS ALWAYS THE SAME, THE BIT IN BETWEEN IS UP TO YOU

I'm exhausted, I'm lost. I want to smile, cry, scream. My mind feels empty but my thoughts feel heavy. I feel disconnected, absent, what am I doing? How do I find my path, my journey, when I don't see a beginning nor an end? I'm searching but I can't find it. I'm immobilised, I'm trapped. Claustrophobic thoughts and unexplained emotions fill my soul. I can't breathe. Who am I? I feel nothing. I feel numb... Where did my sunshine go?



I'm 24 years old and every job I have had since I was 16 has just been another step closer towards the job I was recently doing. 2014 was a challenging but very progressive year for me. I was promoted four times in 10 months and the money attached to that progression was great however, I've now been off "sick" since the beginning of December 2014 and it's not because I am weak or I couldn't do the job, it was because I was distracted and consumed by something that meant nothing.

The corporate world is hard man and I really do pity humanity for having to conform to such unfulfilling, unsatisfying and unnecessary bullshit. Why are we being distracted from real life and real reality? Reality is not even what we know it to be. If reality is defined as 'the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them', then why the fuck do we use reality as another word for money and employment? Reality is not about going 'back to work' or 'paying the bills'. Reality is about opening your own eyes and looking out at what is right in front of you, what is real. You don't look up to the sky and stars at night with judgement or an opinion or a purpose. You look at it because it's there, because you can see it. We may not be able to touch it or feel it but we know it's there and that's reality.

Trees are nature; they are real, they are reality. You can see them, touch them. They grow freely and undisturbed and are not owned by anyone or anything. Trees keep us alive at no cost or price, yet we chose to cut those trees down just so we can create pieces of paper, which do come with a price and cost. Pieces of misleading paper that is created out of our life source. Why does money control everything and everyone, when money is simply created by nature? Nature doesn't have a price. Nature belongs to no one.

The society we live in, breathe in, are growing in, is controlled by people who don't give a shit whether we live, nor die and that is very sad. What is wrong with us all? What are any of us really doing? I understand everyone's need to earn money; to provide for their families and to be successful but is that what life is about? Is that what the meaning of living really is? Because if you honestly believe that's what life is, then you my friend are lost and I feel sorry for you.

Life is not about who has a better car, or who's got the iPhone 6 or posting a picture on Facebook of your new pair of trainers to make your friends jealous... Life is about living. SO FUCKING LIVE! All of our lives may have their own individuals stories to tell but remember, every single being on this planet has a story, a story that starts the same and also finishes the same as everyone else's. This 20th century invention of a career has lingered on and haunted humanity for too long and we need to break away from it. Stop judging each other and competing with each other. Break away from this miserable, robotic society and really live in the present moment. At the end of the day we all want the same thing don't we? To be happy? So just be fucking happy.

So at this present time, I may be feeling lost and an air of melancholy may surround me but at least I now understand what life really is. I don't need to be a slave to the people who only have one pathetic purpose, I don't need power and I don't need a 9-5 job that fills me with anxiety and no self-worth... All I need to do is be happy. How I choose or you choose to be happy is up to us. How we choose to fill in the middle of our story is the journey of life and that is exactly what I am going to do. We only have one life and I want to live it the right way, my way.


She was fierce, she was strong, she wasn’t simple.
She was crazy and sometimes she barely slept.
She always had something to say.
She had flaws and that was ok.
And when she was down, she got right back up.
She was a beast in her own way, but one idea described her best.
She was unstoppable and she took anything she wanted with a smile.

- Robert M. Drake


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Thursday, 29 January 2015

WHY YOU SHOULD GO TO ISLE OF ISLAY IN SCOTLAND

Port Wemyss, Isle of Islay

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

IS HOME REALLY WHERE THE HEART IS?



Do you sometimes gaze out of your bedroom window at the world in front of you and think to yourself, 'Why the fuck do I live here?'

You probably would if you lived in Coventry.

Born and raised, that's me. I kind of hate that phrase because although, I was born and raised in Coventry, I wasn't exactly raised by Coventry. Yeah it will always be home and yeah it will always hold a significant place in my heart, be it an untidy and awkward place, but it will still always be my home. My closest friends and family are here, my childhood is here and I've shared so many memories and experiences with this city, yet I feel as if those moments could have happened anywhere.

It's difficult when you live somewhere that has lost it's identity and has been replaced by meaningless architecture and polluted souls. I want to want to wake up in the morning, get out of bed, look out of my window and feel ready to seize the day. I want to feel inspired, motivated and creative but instead, the only thing I see is a blur of traffic and the same featureless buildings. I want to not know what the day holds for me, or perhaps know but look forward to it. I want to have a purpose, move forward and feel excited but I'm not. Before the day even begins I already feel suffocated and lost.

Now, I look out of my window and see a world beyond Coventry. I see the sunrise breaking through the clouds, reminding me that there is more to this life and that although, Coventry is my home, I can check out at any time.


Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You'll find what you need to furnish it - memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey - Tad Williams


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Thursday, 22 January 2015

GOOD MORNING


Good morning world. This is my blog and my adventure. I hope you all have a beautiful day.

Not all those who wander are lost ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


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