SLIDER

a Relaxed New Zealand North Island Road trip

Monday, 10 December 2018

Like most people, Jonny hadn't really seen much of his own country and having spent 5 months there myself, I was a terrible traveller and had seen even less. With plans set to leave for Oz, we thought we should probably have a look around New Zealand before we left and decided to turn the standard one hour flight from Auckland to Wellington into a little bit of an adventure instead. 

New Zealand is world renowned for its incredible landscapes and adventurous hikes, one thing I didn't know New Zealand for; was it's weather! Having checked online before we left, I found out that we should be expecting everything from sunshine to torrential rain and even some snow which we saw when we got to the road by Mount Ruapehu. 

With this Kwik fit campaign on stopping distances fresh in my mind, I had Jonny get the car checked over before we left. Stopping distance for an emergency break in snow in 10X longer than on dry terrain and with all the different weather we had on the horizon, it was super important that everything was working properly. 



I am also not one for exerting too much energy, especially whilst I am on holiday. So, with just under a week to spare before we set off for Sydney, we took a leisurely drive down the North island. 

Auckland 

We actually left on a Friday night after work but having seen an incredible waterfall the week before, I thought it was definitely worth mentioning. Half an hours drive from where we lived or 50 minutes from the city, KareKare falls was a perfect little light afternoon adventure. Park up the car and take a 3 minute, signposted walk through the forest. We arrived in the late afternoon to a totally empty waterfall. It was incredible. 

Hamilton

We arrived in Hamilton in the late evening and left first thing in the morning but it wasn't a problem because there isn't all that much to do there. We would have skipped the destination altogether but Jonnys cousins live there so we went to visit them. We hit up the casino in town and then grabbed some food before heading to bed; so that was all we saw of the area. If we had a bit more time in the morning, I would have liked to eat a Nourish POD and visit the botanical garden.

Waitomo 

Having booked a tour that we were both very excited about, we left Hamilton at 9.45am and arrived just over an hour later. Waitomo is famous for its glow worm caves and whilst there is the option of rafting or caving through them, we booked a much more relaxed walking, guided tour that ended with a boat ride through the caves. Our guide was a local man who told us all sorts of magical stories about the caves past and how the glow worms came to be there. The boat ride was short but incredible - it felt like a real life Disney ride.

Rotorua

After the caves we headed straight to Rotorua. We spent a fun filled afternoon at Skyline; grabbing gondolas and chair lifts to the top of mountains and ziplining and luge-ing down them. It was super busy but very well run so the few hours we spent there was full of activity and there was hardly any waiting around.

Afterwards, we headed into town for japanese food and spent the rest of the night back at Aria's Farm - our accomodation for the night. With a clear sky and the moon so big from the recent eclipse, they suggested we do some star gazing from their hot tub, so that's exactly what we did! A truly magical day in New Zealand. 

Before we left Rotorua in the morning, we took a dip at the famous hot pools at the Polynesian spa.

Taupo

An hours drive later, we arrived in Taupo; another place full of natural phenomenons. We stayed here for two nights, although it was doable in less. Having tried a farmstay in Rotorua, here we experienced Boulevard Waters, a boutique motel right on the lake and The Lake Motel, a retro themed studio flat.

Over the two days, we hit up Huka Falls, the Craters of the moon and the Watakeri terraces as well as I'm sure you've guessed, lots of eating. With your own transport, it's very easy to park up at each one and take a leisurely walk around. It's also worth mentioning that all three of these attractions happened to be on the same road. 

Wellington

Wellington is the capital and one of my favourite parts of the country because it's full of life and also full of quirky cafes. Jonny is originally from Wellington so apart from spending lots of time with his family before we left, we spent most of our time wandering around town trying to pick where we wanted to eat.

There are lots of other things to do there though including driving up to the top of Mount Victoria for panoramic views, visiting the Te Papa museum to see the giant squid, walking along the bays and if you're a LOTR fan (which I am not) the Weta studios are supposed to be very good.
From Wellington, you can hop on a ferry and sail across the Cook Strait to Picton on the south island.

This little trip really made me appreciate the beauty of the country which I definitely didn't see enough of by staying in Auckland! Had we had more time before we left the country, I would have loved to see some of the south island as well.

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WORKING HOLIDAY: How I'm making money in Australia

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Whilst my last few weeks have been very relaxing (if you follow me on twitter, you'll have seen that I gave up working so I could spend my time having fun and persuing the best smoothie bowls in the area lol), I spent my first few months in Surfers Paradise working pretty hard. At first, it was a struggle but after a while, I had the perfect amount of hours at each place; I was working at odd hours of the day but I liked it and it kept my week exciting.

For anyone considering a less typical working holiday in Oz, at the beach rather than one of the big cities, heres what I've been up to!

The Beach Hut

When I decided that I was going to go and work in Australia for a year, I envisioned myself at a cute little vegan cafe on the beach and this job is the closest I got to that. I worked two or three shifts a week at a stand selling fresh cinnamon donuts, hot dogs and snow cones right on the edge of the beach. The job itseslf was pretty fun, they paid me cash at the end of each shift and I got to eat and drink whatever I wanted whilst I was there.

4 - 15 hours

SEO Content Writing

I couldn't believe it when I found myself a job here in SEO. Surfers Paradise is a holiday destination so I just resided to the fact that I wasnt going to find a 'proper' job whilst I was travelling but low and behold, I spent a few monnths writing about stag do's and hen parties, on a mac, in a real office.

5-10 hours

Freelance Writing

I wrote about 20 pieces of content each week for a company in London and it was honestly the dream travel job. I used to do most of it when I was at home alone in the evenings; but if I fancied, it was super easy to take the laptop to a cafe and spend the afternoon there. I got paid in pounds for this one which was great because that goes twice as far in Oz

15 hours

Blogging

If we look at money made per piece, blogging is my biggest income but it is definitely not my most steady so as usual, any blogging money is a nice extra, the same way it was when I was at home. Usually this is through sponsored posts on this blog!

Various

Uber Eats

Uber is such an enjoyable job, I'm not sure I'd even call it that. I make between $6-$9 per delivery so it's not the best money but I don't actually look at it as work, it's a hobby that pays. I can spend anywhere from 2-40 hours a week Ubering so income is different every time.

Since Jonny works the night shift at the supermarket, I do most of my deliveries after midnight.
I actually find this the best time to Uber for a few reasons. It's too hot to cycle during the day plus theres usually a 1.2 boost on after midnight. But the best reason for late night deliveries is because that's when drunk people order Uber Eats and if they fall asleep and don't answer their phone, then we get to keep the food! We got over $100 worth of food jut last night!

10-40 hours per week

6 things you should know before you move from London to Auckland

Monday, 12 November 2018

I moved to New Zealand earlier this year with absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.
Usually, I'd do heaps of research before I book anything but not this time, I was just excited to see Jonny again so I booked my flight as soon as my visa come through and was in a country that I had never even given a second through within a few days.

Moving straight in with a house full of kiwis made it a bit easier (I had people to ask about words I didn’t understand – yarn, jandals, chur?!) but there were definitely things that would have made life easier had I known about them beforehand. So today, I'm sharing my expertise with you so, unlike me, you can be fully prepared

It's not 24 hour

No, the shops actually close and this is something that really did get on my nerves. Once, I convinced Jonny to drive me to the other side of town to find a smoothie bar that I had spotted online and it was closed when we arried; at 3:05 on a sunny Saturday afternoon! Like honestly stuff like that happened all the time which made it very hard for me when I want a bar of chocolate in the middle of the night.

The worst one was Easter; I thought we were going to starve to death. For three days, the supermarkets were closed, the petrol stations were closed, everything was closed. The only thing that was open was McDonalds.

There are no people here

Fun fact for you, when I left Vietnam, it was the TET holiday but I was very confused as to why they were celebrating it in NZ. Surely it was so quiet because everyone was at home celebrating with their families. Apparently not, according to google, there are twice as many people in London as there are in the whole of New Zealand. Even in Auckland, where it’s the most densely populated there are just no people around. The airport took about 3 minutes to get through, the roads are calm and there are hardly any people in the city centre. We went to visit a waterfall and were the only ones there which was amazing. Just being is a whole lot easier when there’s space to move.

Prepare to chill out

I can't talk for other countries, or even too much for the rest of the UK, but coming from a busy city like London, it was a bit of a shock moving to Auckland. Everybody walks slowly and takes their time, no one gets angry and makes comments about the tourists blocking the street under their breath.

When you get on the bus, you stop to say hello to the bus driver and it’s nice, just really strange to start with. I know this sounds terrible but it took me a while to remember how to be nice. 

When it comes to the office, work is so chill. There’s no rushing around like a crazy person, you take a full lunch break in the kitchen and sit and talk to your colleagues. And if that whole hour wasn’t a big enough treat, you also get a morning and an afternoon tea break which is something that I took full advantage of, imagine that working back in London. lol.

Also, this photo was taken on my commute.

It does get cold

This one really threw me because just like my younger brother, and everyone else I spoke to from the motherland, I just assumed that New Zealand was the same as Australia and that they were both super hot all year around (Oz is hot all year round, right?) That definitely isn’t the case in New Zealand. Just like home, in the winter, mornings are cold, evenings are short and it rains a lot. It was also pretty depressing that all of this was happening in June and July while everyone in the UK was firing up the BBQ. It wasn't all bad, unlike back home, the sun does comes out and its not absolutely freezing, just a bit chilly.  
 

You’ll probably get fat

Another thing I did not know about New Zealand before I got here, is just how bad the junk food culture is. It is cheaper to eat out than it is to buy food at the supermarket and it’s literally a junk food heaven with a Mcdonalds, KFC, Subway, Dunkin Donuts and everything else you could imagine on every street; and yes I did get sucked in. Tell me you wouldn't be tempted if you could get Pizza Hut or Dominos for $5 - thats two pounds fifty to me and you!

Shoes are not essential


One last thing to add: In London, most people are dressed for the office, suit and tie, pencil skirts and most definitely, shoes! I was very confused when I first arrived and started noticing that people don’t necessarily take shoes with them when they leave their house. I thought Jonny was crazy the first time he went out without any on but it seems to be a normal thing. People walking around the supermarket barefoot, the malls, Mcdonalds (yes ok we spent a lot of time there) and I’ve even seen people walking down the street without any shoes on. Very odd.

what I learnt from working too much

Monday, 29 October 2018

At one point last month I had 4 physical jobs, as well as my blog; and I had just accepted a new freelance client. Initially I was excited about all the money I would have coming in by the end of the week but pretty quickly, everything started going wrong and I couldn't work out why; and then I realised. I had worked a 60 hour week (mostly on night shifts) and then kept going. I worked 9 days straight before I realised.

After complaining to anyone who would listen, a couple of people asked me why I was working so much and honestly, I had absolutely no idea. Any one of my jobs would have sufficed to pay for my rent, food and anything else I want or need on a weekly basis. Finally it clicked and I had to remind myself, this is my working holiday life not my back home and saving for a house life. I'm here to enjoy myself; I can work myself into the ground when I'm back home if I want to.
So I made a few changes in the past couple of weeks and although I am earning a little bit less, I'm back to enjoying life again! Here's what I learnt from working too much and why I won't be doing it again:

Stress Affects EVERYTHING 
By the end of that week, not only was I in physical pain but I was ill, arguing with Jonny about everything and I couldn't go to the toilet.

Happieness Over Money 
This one was hard because I am prettty money motivated but I've realised that as long as I have enough money, I don't need to make my life hard just so I can have more; and that goes for my saving habbits as well as my earning ones.

I haven't had as much money come in over the past few weeks but I have been much happier! Jonny and I went to Movie World on Tuesday and didn't take any notice of how much it cost. We got an Uber there, bought a pair of bugs bunny ears and ate ice cream for lunch. It was an expensive day but totally worth it. And actually, in the grand scheme of things it wasnt all that expensive - I must have spent $100/50GBP on the whole day.

On the other side of that though, contrary to how I used to live at home, I have also realised that I don't need to spend loads to have fun. Last weekend, Jonny and I got drunk and stayed in. We cooked dinner, cleaned the flat, had a bath and hit the gym with the boys when they got home from work at 3am and honestly; it was everything. 

Imagine having a job that you miss doing after a few days off. I actually love doing Uber but instead, I spent my evenings working somewhere that I hated because it earnt more money. Now, I no longer dread going to work and split my nights between Uber, writing or going to the gym. I still can't bring myelf to take a night off unless Jonny has a night off from work as well.

Ok one more thing, after wearing 7kgs of what I took in my carry on to Thailand back in January for the past 10 months, I got myself some new clothes this week; it always amazes me how happy a new pair of shoes makes me feel.

The Importance of Looking After Your Body
I thought I'd just take a couple of days off and start again on Monday but after 40 hours of cycling, it literally took me weeks before my legs felt normal and I never want to feel like that again. Now, I go to the gym a few times a week just to stretch. 

My first real gym kit! (So now I look like I'm actually supposed to be at the gym and not a bar crawl in Phuket.)

I also started to notice that crap food actually does makes you feel crap. With two foodie jobs and another one that involved me sitting outside Mcdonalds for hours on end (waiting for deliveries), I was eating who knows what at who knows when and I was feeling the effects but like I said, Jonny and I have started batch cooking healthy meals once a week so were getting better slowly. 

I Need Sleep
My mind what just whizzing around with what job where, when and who and even though I was exhausted, getting to sleep was almost impossible. On top of that, we go to bed at around 5am most nights by which time the sun is back and the birds are tweeting outside the window. It's also starting to get really hot here in Australia. I just cant function on broken sleep. 

So first, we got rid of the duvet and have been sleeping with just a bed sheet. I got some ear plugs and an eye mask. Then I started taking some sleeping supplements, Neuro Rest capsules from Utmost Me. They contain magnesium and 5-HTP which is supposed to help the mind relax and you know what, I think it works. That, combined with giving up two of my most stressful jobs have seen me sleeping through the night/morning and waking up feeling much more energised. We've also started to make a consoius effort to keep our room tidy becuase mess just puts us in a bad mood. Now we're just waiting for our furniture delivery so we can start putting everything in its place instead of on the floor.
So now? I have one normal part time office job (which I love; SEO like I did back home!), I do freelance writing from wherever I fancy and I uber all night. I make time to go to the gym, try to eat healthily and sometimes, I manage to go whole days without doing any work. Jonny and I usually get to bed at 3am and listen to Harry Potter on Aubible until we both fall asleep. We go to the cinema and we see our friends and life is simple again!

I just wanted to finish this post by saying sorry for the terrible quality of my blog photos since I left the UK. I left my good camera at home when I left and all I've got now is a phone camera and a boyfriend who doesn't understand the concept of taking blog photos.  

My experience with PCOS

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Polycystic translates to many cysts, and so, having polycystic ovary syndrome means that my ovaries have many cysts on them. It affects loads of women and was something, that after a lot of faff from my local GP, I only discovered I had last year.

From the age of 16, I was in a long-term relationship and very quickly, went to the doctors and started taking Microgynon (which later became Rigevidon), the contraceptive pill which I continued to take for the next eight years.

A couple of years ago, two big black veins appeared on my leg and my GP told me that they'd be there forever. Luckily, they disappeared but not after I had spent a week freaking out about them. With a history of DVT in my family and a bit of a nosedive when it came to my mental health, in 2016, I decided it was time to stop.
I read online that coming off of the contraceptive pill was like dark clouds around you disappearing and that is exactly what it felt like. It was really odd and everyone around me noticed it too; but apart from masking my personality for most of my teenage years, it was also masking another problem. I didn't have another period for 18 months after that.

I went to a GP who initially gave me some pills to bring on a period. She told me that I'd need to take them for the rest of my life and that if I didn’t, it could cause cancer to develop. So of course, I took them straight away but soon I realised they were making me feel even worse than the contraceptive. Taking them for just a few days each month was messing me up even more, so there was no way I was going to be doing that for the rest of my life.

I went back and got referred to the hospital which was just as bad, if not worse. The GP there was a man who was absolutely useless & really condescending about the whole thing. He told me that I couldn’t get a repeat prescription and I would have to go back to see him every time I needed a new pack (for the rest of my life) so that I could get for these silly pills. In the end I went to a private doctor.

She sent me for an ultrasound and blood tests, which the local hospital where I started, lost; three separate times, but once she finally got them back, she was able to tell me that my problem was Polycystic ovary syndrome.

To my mums relief, she assured us that I didn’t need to worry about fertility as I had plenty of eggs, they just weren't releasing like the should be. Basically, if need be, they would have to just go in and get them. We told her about these ridiculous pills and she didn’t think it was a healthy way to go about it but I was off to Asia for three months that week and she told me to take them once while I was away, and we’d work on a better solution when I got back.

So that’s what I did. I guess one period over three months wasn’t so bad and at least it put my mind at rest about the whole cancer thing. The week I got home, after a 14 hour flight (which I am still sure had something to do with it), a period appeared without warning. I went back to the doctor and she said to see how it goes and keep in touch since I was going straight back to Asia.

I had a few light and sporadic cycles so I stopped worrying about it. In February, I got a copper coil fitted which has seen me having, heavy, but regular periods ever since and that's where I'm at now.
The post is written in collaboration with Nature's Best who are on a mission to increase awareness about PCOS.

Being a Digital Nomad in Ho Chi Minh City

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

I wasn’t really sure what to call this post because even though it is true on some days, I don’t really call myself a digital nomad. That being said, I do take on remote freelance work sometimes and if I do it when I’m travelling, then I guess I am, for all intensive purpose, a digital nomad.

Whilst I was happy to be 'unemployed' and traveling full time when I was in Asia, having the option to take a few hours out from my day to sit down and top up my travel money is something I will always be greatful that I can do. Not only is the money a plus; but working online also keeps my mind active and was great for filling any boring gaps I had.

Heres what day as a backpacking digital nomad typically looked like for me.
Ho Chi Minh City ended up being the last stop on my Asian adventure whilst I waited around for my visa to come through so I was there for three weeks in total, by the end of it I knew the city like the back of my hand, I knew exactly where I was going most of the time; no need for sat navs. It’s not somewhere that people stay for too long because it's pretty intense but I really did love the city - it’s hot and sticky, loud, bustling and there are motorbikes absolutely everywhere but that’s what I’m all about, I’d pick a big foreign city over the beach any day.

Well and truly embracking backpacker life and not knowing how long I'd have to wait for my visa, I booked myself into the cheapest room that I could find; a 16 bed dorm at a party hostel called The Hangout; and I really enjoyed my time there. It cost £4 per night which included breakfast and two mixed drinks - talk about value for money. Plus the bigger, the better - more beds means more opportunities to make friends (and to find someone who was travelling with a pair of straighteners.) 

Waking up at around 8am I'd usually be the first one out of bed. Saigon is magical in the morning, for such a ridiculously loud and fast paced city, the early morning was when I found it most authentic, I  loved wandering through the streets as the stall holders set up their markets.
The life of Vietnam is hidden in the alleyways and it's where I spent most of my time. One morning when I first arrived, I went for a wander and found a little gem that I went back to every single day until I left. What looked like just another dingy smoothie place, where the blenders were held together with elastic bands turned out to be Saigon’s best kept secret. 

I couldn’t start my day without a visit and I’d spend a half hour just sat there drinking my smoothie and watching life go by around me. I switched between two flavours, Milo (chocolate) and banana or an mango and passionfruit, both equally delicious and 25k (70p) each. More often than not I'd get through three smoothies a day.
After that it starts to get really hot and sticky and a bit crazy out on the streets so with an hour that needed filling and in search of some more morning calm, I headed to the gym. I found a great one at The Luna Hotel overlooking the backpacker street which cost me a grand total of 70K (3.70) pay as you go. It was also where I showered because towels were free there and they weren't at the hostel. lol backpacker life.

Whilst breakfast was the most delicious meal of the day, lunch was my best bargain of the day. I always try to eat where there are locals so having sat down surrounded by Vietnamese people and ordered some chicken which cost 25k (70p again) I was amazed when I was brought not only the chicken that I had ordered, but a side of rice, some green veg, a bowl of soup and an iced tea all included in the price.
After lunch, I had no more excuses left to avoid doing some work so that’s when I finally sat down to do some. Usually I’d head to the hostel to do it because everyone was still asleep and it was the quietest place. It also had air con, toilets and plugs so it was just an easy, free option.

By 3 or 4pm, people started to emerge and it’d be time to finish up work and just enjoy being a backpacker. Some days I went off to explore with friends; manicures, sky bars, markets. Others, someone would sit down in front of me with a pack of cards and we’d just mess around for a few hours.
Whatever adventure we decided to go on usually ended up with us agreeing that we needed to go back to the hostel for a nap. People would be coming and going at different hours all throught the night but you could be sure that if you wanted to get some proper rest, the best time to do it would be early evening becasue everyone would be returning from day trips and preparing for an evening of partying.
The evenings began at 8pm when the free drinks started and finished at all sorts of different times depending on the night and the crowd. Some nights we'd just stay at the hostel bar and others we'd head out to the club's. Or sometimes I just went to the gym. Either way though, I was always excited to head home because it meant I had to walk through Bui Vien Street (backpacker street) which was where all the street food was at. More often than not I'd sit down at a tiny table and order myself a midnight feast. I had street food for every single meal after Jonny left because we didn't eat any while he was there; he was just too big for the seats.
After that it was time to head back to the room so see what awaited me there. Sometimes that would be the end of my night and I'd be able to get into bed and go to sleep. Sometimes I'd get back to find the whole room having a deep meaningful chat over a pizza at 2am.
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