2017 Resolutions… How did I do?

Hiya!

I’ve been rubbish at blogging again haven’t I? Oh well, maybe I’ll try better next year?! LOL.

I thought it would be interesting to revisit my 2017 New Years Resolutions and see how I fared. And you know what, I did much better than I would have thought!

So, what were they?

1. Follow a passion and learn something new – I mentioned that I was doing a distance learning course. Well I am still doing the course. It’s taking ages but I’m almost there and not to blow my own trumpet but I’ve done really well at it! It’s for a diploma in zoo animal care, behaviour and welfare – something totally different to my day job but I’ve always had an interest in the animal kingdom so perhaps a future career change?! Who knows! It might not amount to anything but at least I’ve given it a go.

2. Reignite my creative spark – This was semi successful. Me and my husband enrolled in a local art class that lasted from February until July. It was great to get out of the house for a couple of hours on a Monday evening and experiment with paint and pencils etc. However the subject matter (imaginary spheres?!?) got quite tedious. I did come away with quite a nice drawing of a giraffe so I guess that’s something right?

3. Look after my mental well-being – Hmm. Not sure what to say about this one. I guess anxiety is one of those things that’s with me for life, it’s just down to whether I control it or it controls me. More on this shortly.

4. Be more conscientious – The big focus here was cruelty-free cosmetics and toiletries which I’ve stuck to. With all this recent news of plastics choking our oceans, my next focus will be to try and cut down my use of plastics – starting by using the rather pretty Chilly’s water bottle my hubby bought me instead of using plastic water bottles.

5. Do more volunteer work – The best thing I did in 2017 was volunteer at a wildlife rescue centre in Costa Rica. If you want to read about it then check out my post A girl’s guide to volunteering in Costa Rica. Coinciding with my interests in all things zoological, I ended up volunteering at two other places in the UK, unfortunately though on top of my day job and life in general it all got a bit too much and I burnt out, so at present I am not doing any volunteer work but I’m sure I will again when the time is right.

Volunteering in Costa Rica - caring for howler monkeys among other animals.
Chew with your mouth closed! – Me in with the Howler Monkeys

So what about 2018?

I am making one resolution for 2018 – to try and be more positive.

I’ve been in quite a negative place this past year and I wasn’t alone. Unfortunately negativity breeds negativity so I need to try and distance myself from bad vibes and attempt to keep my head above water. This all goes back to my mental well-being point above. I have a few ideas so watch this space and wish me luck!


How did you do with your 2017 resolutions? And are you making any for 2018? Leave me a comment below x

I went phone free for 48 hours

i went phone free for 48 hours
Image via Unsplash

I went phone free for 48 hours. And I liked it.

I haven’t been a very happy bunny lately. I got home on Friday evening feeling quite deflated and low after work and decided that I really wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone, look at social media or waste my time reading banal rubbish online. So I text my mum and told her if she wanted to contact me to call the house phone, then I switched off my Samsung and tucked it away in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.

And you know what, it was easier than you might think.

Yes I admit, I had a little moment where I did a bit of online shopping on the Asos app on my ipad, but other than that there was no waking up and seeing what was trending on Twitter, no mindless scrolling of my Instagram feed, no Facebook (although I hardly use FB these days anyway), no looking at jokes or motivational quotes on Pinterest to lift my mood and no constant checking for messages.

And you know what, I only really missed the BBC weather app. I don’t know if that’s sad or refreshing, but either way I don’t care.

This isn’t me going phone free forever because I admit, they are useful. I would literally be quite lost without google maps! But this is me being more – dare I say it – mindful about how much time I may or may not waste with my head bent down staring at my phone. Time to stop reading the garbage they churn out on Buzzfeed as my bedtime reading and actually, you know, read a proper book.

I would encourage everyone to put their phone down and appreciate their surroundings a bit more. Go for a walk, hug a tree, admire a flower without the need to instagram it – go on, I challenge you!

Milford Sound – is it worth it?

aka My Worst Day at New Zealand’s Number 1 Attraction

Milford Sound - is it worth it?
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Milford Sound – is it worth it? It’s often touted as New Zealand’s number 1 must visit attraction, but is it worth the hype?

That greatly depends. Many people come back from there with wonderful experiences having spotted seals, dolphins and penguins as they’ve glided their way on a beautiful boat through the majestic waters. I, however, want to tell you about my visit to Milford Sound, because well, I’m all about keeping it real and sharing what the likes of Lonely Planet probably won’t tell you…

Milford Sound - is it worth it?
Milford Sound – image not my own unfortunately. Image via Unsplash.

Although we had hired a car in New Zealand, neither of us really fancied driving the lengthy journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound, so we booked an organised coach tour. There are plenty of operators based in Queenstown but we chose to go with Jucy.

Our driver Lucy (you can’t make this up!) picked us up in the morning and remained bright and friendly throughout our trip. She told us all stories of her childhood on a farm and made several rest stops on route. Sadly for us, the weather was not being kind and even though we’re British and quite used to the rain, the more than damp weather was dampening our spirits the closer we got to Milford Sound.

After a long journey, we made it to the boat where the rain was still pouring and the wind was blowing a gale. The crew on board could obviously sense our coach load of disappointment as they tried to remain enthusiastic and marvelled at the many waterfalls spilling down the rocks because of the torrential downpour. I don’t know if they were genuinely that excited about the waterfalls or if they were just putting a positive spin on things in order to lift our spirits.

Many waterfalls can be seen at Milford Sound when it rains
Expect to see all the waterfalls when it rains

We received lunch on board the boat – wraps, cookies and drinks. I chose a falafel wrap and shortly afterwards found myself in the toilets with an upset stomach.

Needless to say, the rest of my Milford Sound experience was spent locked in a cubicle. But I didn’t miss much as hubby didn’t see any wildlife or rainbows beyond the drizzle and clouds, but he did venture out on deck to battle the elements. Sure, you could say it’s dramatic and atmospheric but when you’ve got food poisoning and you’re having panic attacks about spending another 5 hours stuck on a coach, who really cares?

What the travel guides DON'T show you about Milford Sound
* sigh *

The 90 minute boat ride was soon over and everyone was pretty keen to just get back to Queenstown. Lucy from Jucy had to ask another couple (who had prime location seats at the front of the coach) to switch with us so I could be at the front of the coach incase I needed to ‘go’ again. I would have felt guilty and mortified had all my energy not been focussed on making it through the next 5 or so hours. The trouble with New Zealand is that rest stops are few and far between but fortunately having dosed myself up with the necessary medication, I made it back to Queenstown just fine.

And thus concludes the worst day I had in my whole backpacking trip down under.

Milford Sound in bad weather
Image taken by my hubby 🙂

So, is it worth it?

In my opinion, no. Perhaps if we’d driven ourselves and stopped in Te Anau for a night maybe? But I feel it is my duty to present the less glossy, sunny and perfect side to travel.

There are two sides to every story of course, so if you want to read a good experience of Milford Sound then I’m sure there are a bazillion other travel bloggers out there who will gladly share that.

Milford Sound in New Zealand
Here’s what we *could* have seen. Image via Pixabay

Have you been to Milford Sound? What did you think? Or have you had Travellers Tummy at the worst moment? Share, we’re all friends here!


You can find some of my more pleasant New Zealand adventures right here.

My New Years Resolutions

Well well well, look who’s back.

So after a bit of a hiatus I thought I’d come crawling back to my little blog space. Rather than leaping right in to more travel tips and tales, I have decided to ease myself in by writing a good ol’ list post and as ’tis the season (and let’s face it, you probably won’t hear from me until sometime in 2017 now) I thought I’d write a bit of a new years resolution post.

Now I’m not going to do anything silly like promise to blog every other day because let’s all be honest – that ain’t gonna happen but here are some things I would like to focus on for the new year ahead.

1. Follow a passion and learn something new

When certain aspects of life become stale, it’s time to shake things up. So I have just started doing a distance learning course in something I’ve always been interested in but never pursued. So far I’m really enjoying it but the only downside to doing the course is that it gives me alot less time for blogging. However, I’m learning alot and it could lead me onto something amazing if I’m lucky enough. But if not, then at least I tried.

2. Reignite my creative spark

I was a very creative child but somewhere along the way between discouraging art teachers and the world of work, my creative spark got extinguished. I miss being a creative free spirit and often complain to my hubby that I have no talents (besides being able to lick my own elbow LOL). Perhaps if I’d stuck at my creative endeavours I’d feel more satisfied with myself.

My New Years Resolutions

3. Look after my mental well-being

I have anxiety. I’ve been dealing with this shit for over 10 years now but it does seem to be a more openly discussed topic these days. I have had therapy. I have also been prescribed medication (which gave me awful side effects). Unfortunately where I got better at handling the type of anxiety I had, it has just morphed itself into a different kind of anxiety. I have good days and bad days (which I hide very well) and I’ve come to realise that if I’m going to get better then I need to invest more energy into helping myself on those bad days, because no one else is going to.

4. Be more conscientious 

I’m someone who can be a little naive and impulsive sometimes. I feel that now is the time I need to pay a bit more attention to the things that I buy, starting with shopping for cruelty-free cosmetics and toiletries. I know its just a small change, but baby steps and all that. Oh and I’m always open to recommendations for new brands to try!

Christmas cruelty-free beauty haul ...think my mum went nuts in The Body Shop! :)
Christmas cruelty-free beauty haul …think my mum went nuts in The Body Shop! 🙂

5. Do more volunteer work

Come February I will have been volunteering at the cat shelter for a year, which I am proud of because I am hopeless at sticking to things (remind me again why I’m writing this list?!). As much as I love the cats and what I do, I know that I won’t be there forever and would eventually like to donate my time to other good causes.

How about you? Do you believe in New Years Resolutions? And have you made any?

Thank you for reading this post, I raise my glass to you on New Years Eve and wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017!

The Problem with Pinterest, Technology and Blogging

Hello.

Long time, no see – or at least that’s how it feels.

But rather than doing the whole ‘sorry for my absence’ thing like I usually do, I make no apologies because I’ve been working my arse off at my day job putting in the extra hours trying to meet deadlines and you know what, when you’re sat looking at a screen constantly for over 9 hours a day, the last thing you want to be doing when you get home is spending yet more time at a computer. I think I’m tiring of technology in general.

I went to see Bridget Jones’s Baby on the day it was released. I absolutely love those movies and really enjoyed this one too. However, the woman sitting next to me felt the compulsive need to keep checking her phone. Annoying yes, but it made me think – if you can’t even sit through a 2 hour movie without looking at your phone umpteen times, then you have a serious problem.

Why are we all so obsessed with our phones and the internet?

I’m also slowly turning my back on social media. While at present, I am still quite fond of Twitter, sadly Pinterest has gone from hero to zero. Pinterest used to be my favourite, I joined initially when I was planning my wedding to gain ideas and inspiration, which then after the wedding progressed into a place where I could ‘keep’ recipes to try and hairstyles I liked. I enjoyed Pinterest as I found it uplifting and motivating until they introduced their ‘Picked for you’ pins – pins they suggest you might like based on what you’ve previously looked at.

They’ve got it all wrong. Sharing cute animal pictures and heartwarming rescue stories DOES NOT mean I want to see horrific images of animal cruelty splashed all over my feed. I have tried blocking, unfollowing and reporting but Pinterest keeps showing me progressively worse things that once you have see, you can’t unsee. One picture too many (which reduced me to tears) has resulted in me contacting them to complain and deleting the app. I am still waiting for a response.

So although I had high hopes and intentions of growing this blog in 2016, sadly it is not going to happen. My motivation has gone. I’ve lost my blogging mojo. Still, there’s no point forcing it. Only do it while it’s fun. So until that time comes again, I’m going to be off having real fun in the real world (and planning my next two adventures!).

Mount Cook, New Zealand