A Trip Back Home.
I write this a few days after I have returned back to Australia from England, with 3 nights worth of jet lag making my eyelids feel heavy and head feel sore.
I wish I lived a life where my two homes weren't on opposite sides of the planet to each other. It can always feel confusing to figure out where I actually belong, as I don't have a single area I call "home".
Upon landing at Heathrow airport, the sense of familiarity and home overwhelmed me. I love visiting England, and this time was even more special, because I had my lovely friend Talia picking me up from the airport.
Travelling a lot for work, you tend to walk out into the arrival terminal and not see a single familiar face. It always feels special when there is someone there waiting for you, and always makes me feel a lot more excited when stepping off the flight.
I haven't found a friendship like the one I have with Talia in years. She's such a lovely, kind person. She's one of the first people I've ever met in my life that I know is 100% genuine and trustworthy.
Once we got into her car at the airport, she had so thoughtfully brought along one of my favourite English snacks (monster munch crisps - yum!!) and it truly is the little things that mean the most.
I spent the next 2 days with Talia and her family, who went above and beyond to make me feel at home. Those two days were truly spent just laughing, confiding in each other, eating junk food and watching funny movies. I finally felt like I had found that friend I've been searching for, for so long.
Here is the vlog from the first few days:
After staying at Talia's, I ventured down south to Brighton.
Brighton is a place I've always wanted to visit, as I've seen it so often online and it looks like such a gorgeous place.
When it comes to my solo travelling trips, I love to set aside about 3 days a week where I am completely alone. I love to explore on my own and I love the freedom of being able to do exactly what you want.
I posted this on my instagram during my stay in Brighton:
"Fell in love with this gorgeous place today.
A lot of people say to me that they find it bizarre how much I travel on my own, and don't understand why I tend to do most of my trips completely by myself... Today was one of those days that I had planned to be completely alone, to explore a new city and find some hidden gems.
I love travelling on my own because it gives you freedom in so many different ways:
• Freedom of choosing exactly what you want to do & what you want to see without worrying if the person you're with will find it boring or will want to do something else.
• Freedom of not caring in the slightest of how you look. I spent the day wearing just a tiny bit of mascara, day 4 hair, outfit repeating from yesterday and I could not have cared any less.
If I were with someone, I would've personally been so conscious about these things.
• Freedom & the feeling of accomplishment when you managed to do it all by yourself. You travelled there by yourself. You set out a plan and you completed it.
• The pure freedom of our lucky lives. I can't appreciate it enough that I am fortunate enough to be able to visit another place in the world. No matter where - just the sheer fact that you can travel someplace else than your home is a blessing.
I do love travelling with others too, but I know in my heart when I want to explore a place on my own. I loved everything about Brighton - to me, it was a mixture of my hometown (another seaside town - Southport) combined with London, and it just felt so familiar to me.
I don't have long left here, but I'm sure I will be back before I know it. 🇬🇧❤
via @danimansutti on instagram
I stayed in a gorgeous AirBNB in Kemptown, right next to Brighton Marina. It was a perfect plan to spend these few days alone, as I needed to recharge my introverted batteries.
Brighton was a place that felt oddly familiar to me. It was a mixture of 3 places I know so well.
Firstly, it reminded me of the town I grew up in. I grew up in a seaside town in the North-West of England called Southport.
I lived there until I was 12 years old. Being in an English seaside town again felt incredibly homely to me, and felt as if I knew the place already.
Secondly, it reminded me of Melbourne. The little laneways in Brighton, which are probably my favourite part of the city, offer such a unique touch to the place. These little laneways reminded me of the alleyways we have in Melbourne - the place you find all the hidden gems - such as independent coffee shops, jewellery shops, hidden bars, novelty shops and everything in between.
Thirdly, the city in Brighton reminded me of London.
Here is my vlog from Brighton:
After Brighton, I spent a few days in Clapham with a friend of mine from Melbourne who just recently moved to London. I also met up with some of my family in London, and we ate brunch at the fabulous Balthazar in Covent Garden - little did I know, it was the same French restaurant I ate at with Mecca Cosmetics in New York City!
As soon as I walked into Balthazar, it literally felt like I was back in NYC. I highly recommend you eat there if you ever visit London or NYC - they have gorgeous artisan breads and patisseries, and it is an absolute treat to dine there.
The second week of my trip was set to be completely family orientated. All of my family in England live up North, so I hopped on the train from London Euston to Manchester Picacdilly, picked up a rental car and drove straight to my grandparent's house in Wigan.
I had a lovely time in their company, and it's always so special to visit your loved ones. I decided not to vlog my 5 days up North, as it was family time and not work time for me.
The day after, I jumped into the car, ready to embark on my drive from Wigan to North Yorkshire. The reason I decided to rent a car was because I have never actually experienced driving in England before, nor have I ever driven in a country outside of Australia.
I was luckily upgraded from a Peugeot to a Mercedes - most likely because I pretty much had to pay double the normal amount of renting a car, just because I am 22!
I was already apprehensive about driving in England because of the narrow country lanes - I've never experienced driving on lanes like that, and especially lanes with so many blind spots. However, before I left Australia, my parents reassured me that the routes I'd be taking would be motorway orientated only.
Well, my car's Sat Nav decided otherwise.
I have no idea why, most likely because the car decided upon the "shortest route", but I didn't get on a single motorway the whole trip. I didn't really know where I was going too, so I put all my trust into the Sat Nav.
Before I knew it, I found myself driving along what felt like a never-ending narrow country lane. The lane had stone walls on either side, and was barely wide enough for just one car.
I instantly started to feel anxiety wrapping around my entire body. I had no idea how to drive on these roads. I had no one with me to guide me. I had to be incredibly careful with the rental car to ensure I don't get any scratches on the car whatsoever. I had no idea if at every blind turn a truck was about to come barrelling towards me.
I turned the radio off, concentrated on my breathing, and before I knew it I had a line of cars tailgating me as I was slowly and carefully trying to drive over blind one-way bridges and blind corners.
Every time a car would come towards me, I held my breath and wanted to close my eyes.
It wasn't like a normal narrow country lane that offers grass on either side to pull in to, this lane had a huge stone wall, and didn't offer any refuge for when a car was driving towards you.
I had to ensure that I slowly drove as close to the wall on my left as possible, as wide Range Rovers did the same on the other side. We would crawl past each other, hoping that neither of us scratch each other's car.
I was full of fear and anxiety, and then I was being pushed along by angry drivers behind me. But I had absolutely no where to go. The fight or flee process was ignited in my mind, and all I wanted to do was run away from the situation.
I have always found that driving can cause my anxiety to flare up, especially when I'm around trucks. I've been this way my entire life. I remember some of my earliest memories being of me screaming in the car and closing my eyes as my parents were driving next to a truck on the motorway. I always have this prediction playing in my mind that the truck won't see our car, merge into us and completely crush the car.
I've never understood this fear or where it came from.
After driving for what felt like a lifetime, I finally arrived at my Auntie's house, still shaking and highly sensitive. I sat in the car for a while and just thought, "You made it."
It's incredibly hard to describe to somebody who does not experience panic attacks how it feels. Or how long it takes to recover afterwards. For me, I still feel shaken up for the entire day after the event occurs.
Luckily, we had a fun night planned, involving pizza and ten pin bowling. I had such a lovely time that night, and it continued on to having one of the best lunches I've ever had with my Auntie the next day.
I absolutely love those moments in life where you are having such a deep, honest and open conversation with someone, that you literally forget that the world around you exists.
That's how our lunch was - we had the best time connecting and conversing about absolutely everything in life. It was a really special moment and I'll always remember our lunch, and the advice that she gave to me.
The next few days were spent shopping, eating copious amounts of Cadbury Creme Eggs and Hula Hoops, solo exploring Manchester and feeling at home.
It was such a simple but lovely feeling to snuggle into bed, eat some Minstrels and watch The Only Way is Essex (at the same time as England for once - I usually have to wait FOREVER to watch it in Australia!)
It honestly is the tiny things in life that make me the happiest.
Here is a video showing the things I bought that week:
Before I knew it, Friday had arrived and it was time for me to drop off my rental car and return down south again.
I had now gained a second suitcase from all the Primark hauls and new candles, and was absolutely dreading having to lug them around on the underground later that day (would not recommend unless you want to feel incredibly grumpy and annoyed at every single tiny thing in the world whilst you're struggling to walk up and down stairs with two huge 20kg suitcases... Ohhh, fun times!)
Once the train drama with my suitcases came to an end, I was so excited to be reunited with Talia again. I caught a train to Sutton to meet her, and unfortunately as I arrived, she had told me that her car was completely dead.
We had planned to drive to Brighton that day and stay in an AirBNB that night, but it was starting to look unlikely.
I waited at Sutton station for a while, starting to think of every possible outcome of other things we could do besides our planned girls trip to Brighton.
Suddenly, my phone buzzed, and I opened a text from Talia to read that jumpstarting her car didn't work at all. At this point, I accepted in my mind that the trip was cancelled.
About 5 minutes later, Talia's Mum so kindly picked me and my stupidly heavy suitcases up, and took me back to Talia's house. We stayed there for a while, and Talia's Dad installed a new battery into her car.
The next thing we knew, we were sitting in Talia's car and driving down the M23 to Brighton! Yay!
We were so happy and excited, yet incredibly hangry too. Talia had hardly eaten all day, and due to a stressful morning, our energy levels were a lot lower than normal.
As soon as we arrived in Hove, we bolted down to find the nearest place to eat and absolutely stuffed our faces with burgers and nachos.
Our energy levels kicked up and we were back to our lively selves, joking and laughing about so many things that would make absolutely no sense to anyone around us.
Here's the vlog from our Brighton trip:
Talia and I are the type of people who prefer a night in with popcorn and Netflix over going out and getting wasted. So that's exactly what we did.
We watched some hilarious stand up comedy, and then watched the Gigi Gorgeous documentary together (which I highly recommend - it was a great watch).
We explored Hove the next day, and wandered around Brighton with it's lively weekend atmosphere. We found a beautiful spot for breakfast, also offering Talia with many great vegetarian options too - it was a placed called "Baked" on Church Road and it was delicious.
All of a sudden, my trip was coming to an end.
I was about to spend another 26 hours of my life on aeroplanes, and couldn't believe my 2 weeks in England had flown by so fast.
I had such an amazing trip, and felt incredibly sad to be leaving.
My face is usually a blank canvas compared to my mind - my mind is normally thinking a thousand things a second, yet I hardly show emotion through my face or my spoken words.
I believe this is because I've always just been a very shy and self conscious person, but I wanted to make sure Talia knew that her friendship really meant so much to me. I've searched for a friendship like ours for years and years of my life, and I feel incredibly blessed to have finally found it.
She's a wonderful person and I highly suggest you check her out online, on both her Youtube channel, as well as listening to her music on Spotify, Soundcloud or iTunes.
Goodbye for now, England.
I'm sure I'll see you again soon.