As I began moving into London life at the beginning of 2013 it wasn’t long before my fellow Aussie Londoners began moving out. Well, that says a lot about our friendship, doesn’t it? No, actually, it says a lot about The System. The system of immigration that grabbed my dear friends and their London lives by the scruff, leaving them kicking and screaming all the way home.
Meanwhile as the newbie Londoner, two years seemed like a long time and to me, my friends were just being ungrateful. Or lazy. Or were they? Many of my friends repeatedly told me the same thing, that they weren’t ready to go and that they hadn’t ticked enough boxes. Yet amongst it all they had found some contentment in accepting the inevitable and the excitement of coming home to family and Tim Tams was their consolation prize. I guess they had to embrace it, you can’t exactly fight immigration. My gosh I was smug, but not so much anymore.
Quite unremarkably at first the rain began to fall, varnishing the Fifth Avenue sidewalk and saturating the many American flags that flapped against the luxury flagships it’s famous for. Shoppers and tourists alike darted inside buildings like Tiffany and Co, Gucci and Rockerfeller to seek refuge from the downpour, while the rest of us drew our umbrellas as armour against the elements and continued our journeys. My walk was brisk, my eyes all but closed. New York City wasn’t supposed to be like this. Then something magical happened.
Subtly, the heavy rain of moments past began to soften and eventually it morphed into the first snowflakes of the city’s holiday season. I was on the corner of Fifth and West 59th – The Plaza to my left and Park Ave to my right – and what looked like a frosted Alpine village stood in front of me. I was about to experience Central Park for the first time, and all of a sudden I was no longer fighting the freeze, I was embracing it. My walk slowed, my eyes were most definitely open.
I know, I know, the tone became a little sombre in recent posts with a lot of reflection and reality. Necessary, of course, but I guess you could say it was my equivalent of an end of year travel cleanse where I revealed the darker challenges of adventure, as glorious as it is almost all of the time. So let’s lighten the mood now shall we?
2015, show me your magic! I’m ready to work with you on some great memories, but I’ve got something a little closer to home in store for the next 12 months…
I’m very lucky to have scratched some pretty cool cities off the scratchy map this year. I’ve brought you a handful of these adventures already, but after a little mini blogging slump in the middle of the year, there are still more stories to be told. All in good time.
As we say goodbye to 2014 we’re all in reflection, aren’t we? We’re all regretting the food pregnancies thanks to reckless dalliances with any dish worth its a calorie (by the way, is there a contraception for that?*). We’re all vowing to work harder, sleep better, lose weight, find love, stress less, exercise more and save, I don’t know, something. Or is that just me?
Anyway, over here in Camp Hannah it’s been a bit of a roller coaster of a year, and a trying one at that. Not in the theme park kind of way, either, that implies full-on fun with some souvenirs to proudly showcase on the mantel – or your Facebook Year in Review. However, while there’s been some negatives, I’ve also made like Columbus and conquered my share of exciting new destinations and had an incredible time doing so. That’s what I’m taking from the year that was. But instead of relaying the places I’ve been, I want to share the five destinations that taught me something about travel this year.
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of me clinking my glass of fizz with the nearest person to wish you and your special people a wonderfully happy, healthy and exciting festive season.
Obviously Santa has given us all a calorie hall pass so clean your plates and don’t you dare leave your glass un-attended (someone else might drink it!). Obviously, drink in moderation but have fun in excess.
Not to worry if this year’s silly season isn’t not sparkling the way you thought it would, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, I’ve blogged about travelling away from home at Christmas, so have a gander if you’d love a pep talk.
Regardless, I have a feeling 2015 is going to be your best year yet. Enjoy it! Merry Christmas and everyone x
Last Christmas department store John Lewis pumped a lot of millions into an advertising narrative called ‘The Bear and the Hare‘. It was about a hibernating bear who, if it wasn’t for the friendly hare and his John Lewis alarm clock, would have slept through Christmas. Oh the media went wild! This was the best Christmas commercial ever and the cash registers slammed to the beat of demand.
Every time I watched that commercial I cried. I’m not being dramatic, I couldn’t help it. Sometimes it was a sniffly sob masked by an embarrassed chuckle at my own patheticness, at others it was a mini wail muzzled by a pillow in the emptiness of my flat. Sure there were other factors at play in my life at the time, like a little thing called family politics and relationship breakdowns, but the reality of spending Christmas without family and my closest friends for the first time shocked me in a way I wasn’t anticipating. Suddenly the familiar sparkle of Christmas was just a glow, flickering like a broken light bulb, and it caught me off guard.
Do you remember when I told you about the 10 things I didn’t know about New York? Basically, I was banging on about how much we think we know about New York City thanks to its prominence in pop culture, but without having visited, I was just a Frank Sinatra reference away from making it there (or anywhere, if you believe the lyrics).
Last week I returned from New York with a bruised forearm thanks to all the pinching I had excitedly endured. They call it the city of dreams and the centre of the universe and all that jazz and these descriptions seem to poetically justify the hype, defying my initial scepticism that a single city could possibly capture so many ideals. It’s a feeling. It’s an energy. A helluva town.
There’s a lot of chatter about bucket lists and early attempts at new year’s resolutions, but England is where the cultural party’s at. With more anniversaries than you can flick a Hallmark card at, England is hosting some pretty cool festivities for some of the biggest names in its history.
VisitEngland have put together a list of top sites for 2015 and I’ve hand-picked my top five milestones. So why not plan ahead for your English travel and incorporate some of these key celebrations into your itineraries.