#NoFilter: The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Vang Vieng

I love me a bit of Instagram, but I also love me a bit of truth. I feel like it’s very easy to get sucked into the #FOMO caused by social media. I’m very aware that I’m only showing and seeing the highlight reel, not the full story. So, here I thought I’d share the truth behind my Instagram photos.

There’s no ‘big reveal’ here – I’m pretty upfront about my experiences travelling, that I’m a serial user of filters (no #NoFilter here!) and I use an editing app to make my photos pretty. Because duh – I’m no professional photographer and I don’t have a big fancy camera.

So, here’s the truth behind my Instagram photos:

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos - Manarola
The Truth Behind My Instagram Photos – Manarola

It rained all day. All the walking paths were closed, so I couldn’t walk or hike between the villages and I got soaked. Manarola was the fourth Cinque Terre stop of the day and the skies had *just* begun to clear, thank goodness!

For the third village, Corniglia, I had to take off my shoes and socks and wade in water that went up above my knees, it was so flooded. Read more

What We Learnt From Living Abroad

Living Abroad Cover

Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel. I love to go on holiday and lie on a beach somewhere, I love to go backpacking on a shoestring budget and I love playing the tourist both at home and abroad. But, it’s all a whole other kettle of fish when you’re actually living abroad.

The lessons you learn about life, about the world and most significantly about yourself, are invaluable. You don’t just visit a place and learn about it; you become part of it. To better explain how living abroad changes and challenges you, I asked a couple of fellow travel bloggers what living abroad taught them:

Megan Roughley – Where My Travels Take Me

Living Abroad Megan Roughley
Living Abroad: Megan Roughley, Where My Travels Take Me

I am fortunate that my family instilled in me the passion for travel. Read more

Article 50 Has Been Triggered… So, Who’s Up for a Pre-Brexit EU Road Trip?

Article 50 - Brexit Road Trip - Cover

As a former immigrant who has lived and worked in the EU, I have made my personal opinions about Brexit very clear. However, this post isn’t going to be a political tirade. As much as I want to Bremoan about today’s triggering of Article 50, I’m looking for a silver lining.

We all know there’s a lot of crap happening in the world at the moment. And it’s making everyone very, very angry (myself included). I’m not going to give in to complacency, neither am I going to rile against democracy, nor am I going to pretend that it’s all OK.

Instead, I’m going to go looking for the Europe I want to be a part of.

Article 50 - Brexit Road Trip - Europe

You give me a countdown of two years until my home country will leave the EU? That sounds like a challenge to me. A challenge to see every country in the EU while I can still travel there visa-free and as a proud EU citizen.

A last chance to meet the people and places that we’re leaving behind, and bid them farewell before… well, before everything changes (and we still don’t exactly know how it will change, do we?).

So, I say to you, Article 50, challenge accepted! Now, let’s get started planning the itinerary.

Who’s with me? Read more

Planning a Trip: Are You a Planner or a Panster?

Planning a trip - Are you a planner or a pantser?

There are lots of different ways to travel, but there are also some very different travelling styles, especially when it comes to planning a trip. Here are the two ends of the spectrum: the Planner (Stephanie Fox of Newcastle & Travel) and the Pantser (uhhh… yup, that would be me).

Stephanie Fox: Newcastle & Travel – Planner!

Planning a Trip - Planner

When it comes to planning a trip, I’m the biggest planner there is and I always have been. Even down to local day trips, I’ll research the best way to get there and when is best to go. Despite this, I’m not actually a stress head when it comes to the actual travel part, I can handle delays or long journeys, transfers and unsociable flight times. Read more

Guide to Bali: Budget Planning & Travel Tips

Guide to Bali - Cover

After lugging my backpack around Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, I had finally reached the last destination on my backpacking bucket list. I had finally arrived in Bali! So, after all my previous ‘travel advice’ posts, this is the final one: my guide to Bali, Indonesia.

I couldn’t wait to go to surf school, laze on the beach all day and stretch out my aching back (backpacks are heavy, y’all!) at yoga. However, what greeted me in Bali completed exceeded my expectations.

Here is my full itinerary, budget details, travel tips and general guide to Bali:

Guide to Bali

Guide to Bali - 1

My Itinerary: I had two full weeks in Bali, with stops in Read more

Sunsets & Skylines | The Best Views in Hong Kong

The Best Views in Hong Kong - Cover

In all my five years of living in Hong Kong I never got sick of that skyline. In fact, saying goodbye to that view was the very last thing I did before I left for the airport. And with so many incredible angles to see the city from, it’s hard to pick my favourite. Here are just a few of the best views in Hong Kong:

Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront

The Best Views in Hong Kong - TST Waterfront
The Best Views in Hong Kong – TST Waterfront

We can’t talk about the best views in Hong Kong without talking about TST. This is where the iconic picture of HK’s epic skyline can be found, which is especially breathtaking lit up at night. Although the nightly light show is pure mature cheddar cheesy, it’s also worth a watch at least once. Read more

Don’t Tell Your Mother | A Mother’s Day Special

Don't Tell Your Mother - Mother's Day

Dear Mum, I have a confession or two. Sometimes when I travel or I relay an anecdote from an adventure somewhere, I may leave out a few choice details. But, especially for Mother’s Day, I thought it was time to share/scare you with a couple of revelations:

I have travelled without insurance. Not a lot (I’m usually pretty good with this), but there’s definitely been once or twice where it’s slipped my mind or didn’t quite make it into the budget. If it helps, I’ve worked out that I’ve spent thousands on travel insurance, but I’ve never actually got anything back with a claim, so I saved myself some dosh. Read more

The Great British Cake-Scoff: A Guide to British Food

So, I’ve put on a lot of weight since I’ve moved back to the UK and with very good reason. British food is not an internationally beloved cuisine. In most large cities around the world, you may be able to find a decent pizzeria, Chinese takeaway or Irish pub.

But, you will never ever find a good chippy or a proper British pub outside the British Isles.

Since being back, I have really appreciated things like Cadbury’s chocolate, fresh bread and never being more than a five-minute drive away from a pie. Who ate all the pies? Uh, me. Definitely me. With pleasure.

Here are just a few of my favourite British dishes, shared here to educate the rest of the world about the delicious-ness that is Great British food:

Bacon Butties

British Food - 1 Bacon Butties

While the rest of the world is obsessed with streaky bacon, give me two slices of grilled back bacon between two slices of white bread and a good dollop of ketchup any day. Read more

Don’t Miss Saigon! | A Few Days in Ho Chi Minh City | Travel Diary

Don't Miss Saigon - Cover

I had spent 10 days in Myanmar, only one week in Laos and then two weeks in Cambodia, but I had only set aside a few days to explore Ho Chi Minh City, also known fondly as Saigon. It was my second visit to Vietnam, having been to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay back in 2013, but I desperately wanted to see ‘the Pearl of the Orient’ before I left Asia for good.

Having wangled a bus journey from Cambodia and rearranged some flights, I managed to squeeze a few days in HCM City into my Southeast Asian tour. Here is my travel diary from my very short dip into Vietnam and Saigon: Read more

The Pen On The Table [poem]

Blog Number 40 - Writing

The room is monochrome, classic.

A spotlight cuts silver into black.

In the conical light there is a table.

And on the table, a pen,

A gravity.

Outside, trapped in the ripples, I circle,

A predator, a vulture,

A moth dancing towards the light,

I pace,

I panic,

I prowl.

My arrow-hand stabs into the laser,

Impatient, clumsy.

And retreats again, ashamed, afraid,

I anticipate a burning pain, but it doesn’t transpire.

In the dark, my grey hand shows no blistered skin.

Instead, it itches.

My eyes look up, back at the table,

And on that table, the pen.

A pen with my name waiting in the ink.

My feet push awkwardly beneath quaking legs towards the light,

My toes teasing into the circle,

Like they’re peeling over the edge of a diving board,

They dip into the pool.

It’s warm.

A step. A jump. A dive.

Into the halo until my whole body is coated in white flames.

I’m a burning ghost.

Charging forward,

My phantom-hand extends, hovers and snatches.

The spear is swallowed in the black wave of a shadow-glove,

A lizard-tongue lift with hungry thieves-fingers,

That tighten around the neck.

A child’s greedy fist.

I have the foil.

And I run.

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