Saturday, 29 January 2011

Dear Catastrophe Boyfriend

I’ve got a boyfriend.

Well, Greg seems to think so anyway.

At first, I thought I was just getting in contact with the friend of a boyfriend of a mother of a friend of mine (that’s Greg) to see if he could offer me a job in his awesome coffee shop. And now in the latest of our e-mails i realise this is a whole different teapot of haddock as he has asked me which shifts my boyfriend works! I have never mentioned a boyfriend. Largely because I was not aware I had one, but also it seems an unnecessary topic of conversation with a potential employer.

So, I have a boyfriend now? And he’s got a job? Nice. Open-mouthed smile

But this is far from a complaint. The lack of unnecessary formality, the mystery boyfriend, the casual conversations and the atmosphere of the coffee shop itself all appeal to me and I would love love love to work there… more so than in the silly little bakery I have an interview in on Tuesday!

Still, any money is good money, especially if it can go into one of my four summer travel plans:

1) Interrailing around Europe with Lola (friend from old school, now studying English in York), visiting some or all of Belgium (Bene! Helene!), France (Anne-Lise! Lu-Luke!), Germany (Melanie! Nathalie! Wiebcke!), Austria, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Hungary (Sanyi!) and the Czech Republic (Katinka!).

2) Visit Sony (German expat living in Spain, met in Camp 85) in Barcelona and stay a week or so in Begur to soak up sunshine and enjoy a nice siesta. Also maybe visit Ruth (camp 85) or Ainara (camp 43) in other parts of Spain.

3) Scandinavia trip! This is a vague plan, but at the moment it looks a little like this: Fly to Norway and Interrail through Sweden to Denmark, visiting friends along the way (not to self: ask friends). Get the ferry from Denmark to Iceland, visiting the magical Faeroe islands along the way. Stay about three weeks in Iceland, travelling and SEEDs camping. Fly back to England

4) GEORGIA. I have no travel companion for this though so if you feel like coming with me PLEASE DO!


But NONE of that is happening unless I get an income, so I hope Greg gives me a job. Because if nothing else, where else am I going to find my intellectual-hippy freak-folk musical tree-house-building hair-I-can-touch-all-the-time boyfriend?

I hope he looks a bit like this:

Oh, what, you don’t understand the grizzly brooding unwashed Viggo love? Well have a look at this, and tell me you can resist his Danish charms!




Thursday, 27 January 2011


Rather than talk, today I’m just going to show you the place I’m dreaming of seeing. It’s a mysterious, relatively unspoilt, forgotten, varied part of the world which despite its manhandling by Soviet Russia and continued interior conflict, harbours a population of generous food-lovers with a funny language that looks and sounds like bubbles.


Ushguli, Svaneti (photo by frans.sellies)

Black Sea by Batumi (photo by herzegnovi)

Tbilisi Townhouse (photo by Pierre LaScott)

Dmanisi Iconography (photo by Rita Willaert)

Tbilisi Apartment Blocks (photo by Spaak)


Tbilisi Old Town (photo by Luigi FDV)

Uplistsikhe Cave City (photo by Claire à Taiwan)

Sapara Monastery (photo by Claire à Taiwan)

Kashkheti Cave (photo by uncorneredmarket)


Downtown Batumi (photo by sandro_sando_16)

Kutaisi Church (photo by GoGap)

Lagodekhi Nature Reserve (photo by

I hope someday to visit this enticing little country.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

How far away do I exist?

I had some thoughts on a train and wrote them down in a notebook I keep in my purse. They're not directed at anyone in particular, so if you have an answer, an inkling, or an epiphany, let me know. :)


“How far away do I exist? Only within this skin? Is my physical body truly the extent of my existence? What about over there, in the air on that empty seat? Over there, on the luggage rack by the door? Do I exist in Munich or in Iceland… in Fiji?”

Is my fingertip where it all ends? If it is irrefutable that from my brain to my liver, the only person there existing is me… then do I really stop where the keratin of my fingernail meets air? Who is there between you and me? Is that the space which ‘God’ inhabits, or do we timidly, cautiously, clumsily overflow somewhere in the middle? Are the lines between us blurred, or do they blur as we talk more and more?

Are the lines between now, and next, and just gone by also blurred? Do I still exist in the pigsty in the field by the river, or did I fade from there years ago? Will I still exist here on this seat in five minutes?

And in time, when you continue to be far away and I remain physically distant… Will we separate like oil and water over the years, or will you always exist a little bit in the millimetres around my navel, the watermark on my knees, the hush behind my earlobe, the skin on the nape of my neck?

Does it matter when I’m gone? Will I ever come back?


Today I woke up too late, raged and railed at The Way Things Are, painted the Universe and then a fauvist elephant, watched the wrong person win an award, shook my musical egg as I thought about where I could find a xylophone, and read The House of the Spirits.

It’s a long book and I’m still not done. :) Goodnight!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

I miss Iceland

In the overwhelming love I felt for a number of people I met this year through SEEDs camps and other means in Iceland, it’s easy to look over the love I feel for Iceland itself. It’s so honest. I would like to go back next summer and discover its power.
Escape the cities and just run and swim and roll and laugh and lie and chew the cud in the fervent mountains and rivers, lakes and shores, caves and grassy banks and soaring arches and watertumbles, fjords and faults and cliffs and endless sunshine.
My one aim and motto, a symbol and theme throughout my life is that the highest form of joy and achievement is to by myself all of the time, and I have often said that the further North I go, the more I can do exactly that.
So. I miss Iceland.

on the couch

We’re not those kids sittin’ on the couch – Moldy Peaches

Over the last few weeks, I have been doing a lot of research into possible travel I want to do in the next 8 or so months. I’ve considered Angola, India, Madagascar, La Reunion, Spain, Greece, Mongolia, Russia, Jordan, Israel, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, New Zealand, Canada, Egypt, Georgia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, most of central Europe, Japan, South America, South Korea, Yemen, Greenland, and of course Iceland.

And yet at the moment I’m hitting roadblocks every where I turn. Don’t get me wrong, I love Europevery much but it’s safe. I want one or two weeks of somewhere less familiar. I want to see Himalayan lakes and African rainforests all of a sudden which I never have before.

But it wouldn’t work. The reasons are varied*, yet I keep forgetting that while going to India for a month long journey is a beautiful notion and a possibility for many people, I’m an inexperienced, relatively penniless, 18-year-old girl. Remembering how young I am made me feel less guilty about looking forward to spending four weeks on a train travelling across beautiful Europe.

I can’t wait to get on a train with my very good friend Lola who I feel extremely happy and comfortable with, opening a thermos of tea, watching central Europe flow on, reading fascinating books of enchantment and history, exploring quirky stores, imposing museums, beautiful ruins...

And other than that, I can see myself doing a work camp or two within Europe, hopefully visiting Iceland, and maybe volunteering at some music festivals with Oxfam!

And even though the cloud forest of Costa Rica is still somewhere in the back of my mind, I know now is not the time. I have decades left to travel. No need to rush it; I’d rather wait two years than have a crappy experience.

Bring on Europe!


* If you’re really interested…

- Though I’m very emotionally connected to it, I don’t want to go to Latin America before I have mastered Spanish and Portuguese

- I don’t want to go to India before I have more experience travelling, as I’m quite intimidated by it

- I don't want to travel somewhere very unfamiliar for the first time on my own, though I can see myself doing it in a few years when I have more experience, and nobody I’ve spoken to has the interest or means to go further than, say, Greece

- a lot of the places I want to see are pretty unsafe for inexperienced white female foreigners (places like Yemen, Angola, Colombia, Mexico and Madagascar)

- a crucial point: I HAVE NO MONEY. The fact that this gap year was unplanned means that unlike all my fellow gap yearers, I did not spend the last one or two years saving for The Big Trip. Instead, I’m sitting in the middle of a recession hoping to get a job

- if I travel alone, as I did in the summer to Iceland, I don’t want to go without structure. That means either a guided tour (which seems repulsively touristy to me) or a volunteering placement which, apart from being overpriced, I am sceptical about as I am very wary of being a voluntourist.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

No Buts


I have a friend called Charis and she is a good friend because she says things to me like:

“You need to go to bed earlier.”


“Now, you see, there’s the problem. If ‘OK, I’ll go to bed at midnight’ is your answer, you are going to bed too late.”

She’s right, of course. I have reached the point where going to bed at 10pm sounds about as absurd to me as going to bed at 7.

The thing is, though my mind is exploding and full of wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh, it’s also full of “Oh god I have to book my driving test and call the opticians and contact the theatre and find where Mencap is based in Reading and organise my summer and go to the Post Office and find a job and OH GOD WHERE IS THE JOB GOING TO COME FROM.”

And even though I’m looking forward to all those things (well, not the driving test), I also kind of love being an unemployed gap year student who can wake up at noon, eat two bowls of cereals, play guitar for three hours, look outside the window, play the Wikipedia game, write a dozen letters, hoover the house and consider that all a day’s graft.

At the same time I can feel that I’m running on empty: my money decreases almost daily (the bus fare is crazily expensive so add ‘pump up the bike’ to my to-do list); my time to plan a summer and get things moving is slipping away; and I’m worried that I’ll lose all that wonderful momentum if I sit around twiddling my guitar strings for too long.

So thank you Charis. For telling me what I needed to be told by someone other than my mum.


Wednesday, 5 January 2011

I’m Explosive

I’m so full of inspiration and energy and just… joy!

I can’t remember the last time I felt like this… Even after Eyrarbakki in the summer, I wasn’t so inspired and uplifted as if I feel like I’ve just taken a deep breath, like the air in my chest is fresh as mountain air and my speech is all in sheer italics.

I feel like the grey film from my life has been shifted and lifted and wiped away and now I can see the cloud forests in Madagascar and the sweet dew in the morning breeze and like I’m walking on clouds and silver linings are all around and all other saccharine thoughts and clichés are cushioning my step.

When I sat down to write this blogs my thoughts were much more ordered! But in reality they’re not; I’m still on a high from the camp and I genuinely feel like I’ve had pure spirit injected into my veins.

I want to cry so much because music is touching me as I write this and I just want to moksha into musical Brahman and smudge the dirt away and fly in the shining wohooooooo

I’ll come back to you when I calm down a little.

Music is my one force. I don’t want to go to University but I will go. I want to travel and see the world. I’m wonderfully naive. Hating people who are happy is easy, but I didn’t know that happiness was actually a feeling not a lack of!

I’ll come back to you when I calm down a little.

I’m so bleeding happy.