JANUARY 1ST|2019

As I sit here with a Bailey’s in hand and the cat asleep beside me, I’m unsure if the scene is classic-21st-century-woman living her best life…

Or just plain tragic.

I wanted today (like most people) to be filled with change and positive actions to represent a new year and a new mindset.

Instead, it’s been filled with exhaustion, a short walk where I panicked I was going to be attacked by a harmless man dismounting his Kayak and mashed potato.

And now, a feeling of self-indulgent melancholy.

Happy New Year.

A lot has changed since I last blogged, properly.

I have become a Godmother, become Vegan, started going to Church, started a Herbal Medicine course…

But a lot of things have stayed the same too.

I’m still single (something I am hoping will change this year), I’m still inhaling the same amount of carbs, still procrastinating and still consumed by worry and dread about the future.

I have been incredibly lucky to have visited Norway twice in 2018 and to meet and become Godparent to the cutest, most loving little girl I know.

I am going there in three weeks to visit her and my best friends (her parents) and I’m very excited.

Apparently, we might try cross country skiing…

That reminds me, I must call KLM and check they have help for people boarding return flights in a full body cast.

I am still in my little Nissasn Micra I bought January 2018. It’s given me so much freedom and independence, and despite the passenger window not working and the funny little sound it makes sometimes when I accelerate, I love it.

The MOT is due next week and I’m absolutely terrified I’ll be faced with a huge bill for repairs. I have never put a vehicle through an MOT before and knowing how old it is, I doubt it’ll get off unscathed!

Plans for 2019 include:

More Norway

Solo trips to the seaside and weekends away in grand country manor’s

Getting physically fit as safely as possible

Finding somewhere to rent

Save money

Maybe 2019 will see the return of me blogging and if it does, it will be mostly travel, veganism and thoughts and ponderings from my strange mind.

Hope you have a good year, make it the best you can in the most simple and humble way.

Amy

 

 

 

NORWAY JUNE 2018

On the 1st of June I made a flying weekend trip to Norway, making this my third visit there.

Once again even more in love with the country and this time, for a very special reason.

I went to meet my Goddaughter to-be.

My very good friends in Norway, who are wonderful enough to keep hosting my visits, had a little girl in January this year, and not long after, asked me if I would like to be her Godmother.

Thrilled and without a moment’s hesitation, I accepted graciously and knew I had to go and install all of my fairy- godmother-like traits on her immediately.

I certainly couldn’t wait until the Christening in August to meet her, so I jetted off from London as soon as I could.

She is, of course, an absolute delight and I have fallen in love with her and her glorious smile and cheeky chuckle very much.

I have been imagining all of the things I can teach her as she grows up, like baking and knitting and the English vocabulary.

I imagine all of the adventure we will go on – picnics and treasure hunts in the woods, trips away together and scenic walks around her home town.

All the play time we’ll have – dressing up and dancing in silly ways to happy music, dolls, painting, singing, cooking, reading, building, planting, talking…

It’s such a massive privilege and I feel very honored that friends would ask me to be Godmother.

I already feel so much love for her and I can’t wait to be part of her life.

During the times I wasn’t cuddling K and grinning at her in a dreamy-like state, I was doing my best to fit in as much as I could in the 4 days I was there for.

This included coffee and chats with E out on the decking, over-looking the mountains across the fjord and the woodland on their doorstep.

Going on short walks into the woods with K to send her to sleep, eating sushi, visiting waterfalls and eating delicious food.

It was far too short a stay, but I only have a limited amount of time allowed for holidays at work, and with the week I have coming up in Norway, and the two weeks I’m hoping to take in January to go for K’s 1st Birthday, that will then be all my holiday used up.

If I had it my way, I’d visit every month!

Or just live there.

NORWAY OCTOBER 2017

I’d been really unwell just before this trip to Norway.

My second visit, it was in Autumn and my best friend was expecting her first baby.

I was excited.

Naturally I’d caught a cold a few days before and I was rough as houses.

The day before I was due to leave, I was sent home from work as I’d almost collapsed.

I spent the whole day in and out of bed with a raging temperature, crying and panicked.

The bus to the airport was 5am the next morning and I was on the verge of cancelling.

By some miracle, I mustered the strength to get up at 3am, finish packing and catch the bus to the airport at 5am.

I should have not have flown…

Halfway to the airport I felt my stomach churn and a hot sweat washed over my body.

I was only taking hand luggage and I was anticipating cold weather in Norway in October, so I was wearing a thick cardigan and a jacket over that.

First mistake.

I got to the airport feeling pretty grim.

I hot-sweated my way through security, pushed through the marauding crowds in duty free and found seats to plonk myself onto post-haste.

The wait for the flight was excruciating and all I kept thinking about was being ill on holiday.

How I had made it that far was beyond me, so with another 6 hours of travel ahead of me, I was not optimistic.

I shuffled to the crowded departure gate to find a ton of shifty looking people looking at me as I swallowed back my nerves and queasy feeling tummy.

The weather had taken a turn for the worse and was blowing a gale outside.

After what felt like an eternity waiting to board, I made the slow walk behind everyone else to the plane – getting soaking wet through and feeling pretty disorientated at this stage.

I was sat on one of these two-seater efforts that KLM call a city-hopper. Next to a man who had already downed two Stella’s before we’d even taken off.

This is when the fun really begins…

Taxiing down the runway I feel my heart start to race, another hot sweat builds and I begin grappling at my massive cardigan and jacket in a bid to remove them and be cooler, but to no avail thanks to the risk of shattering the man’s ribs sat next to me.

As the plane ascended into the clouds, the force of cabin pressure mixed with the bad weather-related turbulence sent me into panic mode and I suddenly began to feel very, very ill.

A very strong wave of nausea came over me and I knew it wasn’t long before I vomited.

Fanning myself like a mad woman and sipping water very carefully, I delayed the inevitable until the seatbelt sign had gone off.

I was not being sick in front of an entire plane!

I escaped from my cocoon of autumnal layers like someone freeing themselves from a straight jacket and ran down the aisle of the plane – straight towards the toilets.

Some time later, looking like a ghost who’d had one two many gin and tonic’s in departures, I fumbled my way back to my seat, painfully aware that everyone must have realised what was wrong.

I chewed about 5908087 mints and sipped more water and sat there, eyes closed, waiting for landing in Amsterdam.

The landing of course was equally horrific but I didn’t sick, which was as much of a surprise to my seat partner, as it was to me.

It was rough, I was eyeing up the sick bag multiple times during landing and was ready to apologise to an entire plane load of people had I been ill.

But no. I survived and the second flight from Amsterdam to Norway was a lot more tolerable.

Still feeling quite unwell, my first evening in Norway was pretty ropy.

But the next day I was back to normal and even went on a hike with my friends on Bird island, lost my glasses, found my glasses and stepped in lots of poo.

The rest of the week was delightful, with autumnal walks with stunning views, herbal teas, chai espresso’s and good delicious grub.

We watched movies, had chats, went food shopping, cooked food, made plans, walked some more and watched more movies next to the log fire.

It was hygge goals.

The weather was as expected – cold, rainy, windy and misty.

And until you’ve looked out over misty mountains in the early morning with a light rain creating a blanket of dew on the ground, while you sip on fresh coffee surrounded by friends, I don’t believe you’ll have experienced happiness.

In the end, an amazing trip full of wonderful memories and feelings that will stay with me forever.

Despite the sick…

IF IN DOUBT – CAKE

On Wednesdays we eat cake.

I decided on Tuesday, that I would spend my Wednesday off doing something fun and productive.

Something for someone else that would bring a bit of joy and maybe even a smile.

I thought of my grandparents.

I thought of baking.

And after a fairly stressful trip to the shops to get the ingredients, I spent the next two hours whipping together my most success bake yet.

A Victoria sponge.

With no holes, no lop-siding, no tear stains from where I’ve wept with despair. No cracks, splits or crumbling.

Just a round, cooked Victoria sponge.

Which I then filled with buttercream and strawberry jam and bob’s not my uncle, I had a cake.

I took it down to my grandparents in the afternoon and from what I could tell, it was a nice surprise. My Grampy’s face lit up with glee and my granny even had a slice while I was there and she was most animated, which made me chuckle, bless her.

We laughed, reminisced and ate cake and everything was just lovely.

I hope to get into baking more and experiment with breads as after all, bread is my favourite thing.

Warm with salted butter and a cup of coffee.

Autumn is only 51 days away, so I need to get my practice in to be able to make yummy treats for everyone in the cooler seasons.

Watch this space…

10 WAYS TO SURVIVE A FLIGHT

You know how it is; You’ve just sat down in your seat after being battered by crappy British weather, while standing on the aeroplane steps waiting for the diva a few passengers ahead to find space for her three over-sized cases.

You’ve been pushed, shoved, brushed up against and had numerous pieces of luggage get to know the side of your head very well and the struggle to find your aisle seat is real.

So, hiding your exhausted glee when your seat number magically appears in front of you like a handsome dark-haired knight on a white horse, the next round of horror appears when you see who you get as a plane buddy.

Now, this could be a grumpy middle-aged person who smells of coffee and cigarettes, being very obvious with their disdain at being in such close proximity with youth. Or it could be a stuffy businessman with his bluetooth tusk attached to his ear and has already ordered three double whiskey’s before the plane has even taken off, and smells only of the whiskey’s the night before and the mint gum to ‘mask’ it.

But you know realistically it will never be a sexy doctor with the face of an angel, the scent of a Dior male model and the personality of someone with actual social skills.

Never.

So, feeling like an expert at this having spent the whole of yesterday plane hopping and travelling around Europe, I thought I would share my sanity (and health) saving tips to make any plane journey, a little more enjoyable.

No matter who you’re sat next to.

1. Windeze

I mean, I know it’s probably tempting to release your intestinal gasses freely if you’re sat next to the world’s most awful person, but the air is circulated so… What goes around, comes around.

When I fly, I find my stomach often bloats due to air pressure or thanks to the excessive amount of air I’ve over-breathed during a period of panic about the left phalange. (Cue Friends nostalgia)

In short, pop a Windeze just before the flight and you and your plane bud will enjoy the air you breathe, a little more.

2. Keep Hydrated 

And I don’t mean with alcoholic beverages, free or not. Alcohol only ever dehydrated you and will serve no purpose whatsoever. The effects of alcohol are increased at high altitude so you’re at risk of getting drunk very quickly, having a shocking hangover and/or acting a total k-nob on a plane. Which, lets face it, aint a smart move.

So, buy a bottle of water after security or on the plane and get drinking. It will help keep your skin hydrated too, as flights are prone to dry out skin. If you’re not keen on neat water, you could carry a small fruit juice squeeze bottle in your carry on as they’re under 100mls and are very compact. Most supermarkets sell them.

3. Wear Roomy Layers

If, like me, you suffer from bloating or the odd roll of extra stomach when sat in the worlds most uncomfortable chair, wearing loose-fitting clothing is the best thing you’ll ever do. We all know that those plane lap-belts are positioned in the very unflattering area just under your belly, and despite efforts to yank it up and push one’s stomach under the belt, you still end up looking like you’re on your way to audition for the next docudrama for The Worlds Fattest Woman.

Also the temperature on planes is more unstable than the current UK markets, so wearing layers will definitely keep you comfortable and covered.

Win win. (I hate that saying)

4. Anti-Sickness Tablet

But don’t do what I did and take it too soon before the flight and dramatically stumble to the toilet as soon as the belt sign light turned off just after take off, and heave loudly into the metal loo. In a room the size of a coffin. During turbulence. Then have to make your way back to your seat looking worse for wear, rummaging around for mints.

No, take the tablet at the time stated on the packet like a sensible human being and it’ll work a treat.

*Always read instruction leaflet before taking because safety first.

5. Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel/Wipes

Airlines are very open these days on admitting planes are not the most hygienic of places.

If you’re flying with a budget airline or with an aircraft that does multiple flights a day, it is well-known that thorough cleaning is not always guaranteed, therefore, many germs will still be around the aircraft and on your seat/ table.

So pretty simple, use hand gels or wipes regularly and before eating. And you should remain fairly healthy.

6. Headphones

Audio books, music, downloaded films… The list goes on for the many uses of a pair of headphones. But there, for me, is nothing worse than the annoying sound you get with sitting in close proximity of someone you don’t know.

Chewing gum, noisy eating, low murmuring, snoring. ARRGHH!!!

Give me a plane-ful of screaming children or a crying baby any day but noisy eaters and crisp packet rustling is my petest hate, as my mother would say.

So, on top of entertainment, headphones are very useful for drowning out the inconsiderate.

7. Pay Attention To Instructions

When I said in the title “10 Ways To Survive A Flight”, I didn’t just mean surviving the annoying, germy bits.

Those safety instructions demonstrated by the flight attendants are for a good reason. And what better reason than your safety.

If you’re a frequent flyer you may assume you know all the safety procedures and therefore, may not pay attention. But safety procedures can differ slightly between airlines and it’s always good to be fully in the know of where your life jacket is and how the oxygen masks work.

For example, it was only this flying trip that I fully understood you have to tug on the oxygen pipe to activate it when putting the mask on. I didn’t need to thankfully, but it was helpful to know.

Don’t be that person on their phone or already with your sleep mask on while the flight attendants are ensuring your safety.

8. Smelling Salts/Olbas Stick

So, the worst thing possible (apart from crashing) has happened.

You’ve sat next to someone smelly. They either haven’t taken a Windeze or they haven’t washed in three years and now you’re sat next to them with air circulation and stomach protruding lap belts and your nose literally feels like it’s about to die.

Ah ha! But you have brought along a small jar of smelling salts or =, my favourite, the Olbas inhalant stick and you can use this essentially to block out the hideous smell next to you. All the while pretending you have a cold, so you’re not blatantly obvious that you can’t handle the odour.

Also good for congestion if the air pressure is getting you right in the sinuses.

9. Move Your Legs

Because deep vein thrombosis.

10. Lip Balm

Unless you have an unfulfilled desire to look like you have just trekked the Sahara Desert, I strongly suggest you invest in a lip balm. It doesn’t need to be a million pound one from Diptique (or whatever), but just a simple lip balm with good moisturising goodness will keep your lips smooth and hydrated.

So there you have it. 10 ways to survive a flight.

A couple of disclaimers:

  1. This post is not sponsored by Windeze
  2. Yes I do bloat, I did vomit and my tolerance levels to vile noises is unhealthily low.
  3. I’m not glamorous. But I don’t smell, drink or eat noisily so 10 Gryffindor points to me!

Safe travels…

NORWAY 2016|PHOTO’S 2 

Trollstigen (Path of the trolls). The long and winding road.

On a coach tour through Geirangerfjord. I was the luckiest girl alive to get to go on this trip. It was an incredible day with breath taking scenery, stomach churning drops down mountains and smoked salmon and cheese sandwiches.

Geirangerfjord. This needs no words 🙂


After the coach tour, we had the best hot chocolate ever in an adorable café Geiranger Sjokolade. We chatted to the tour guide who was lovely. She moved to Norway with her husband from France and lives on a little island just off mainland Norway.

Being in this unique café, having such relaxed and friendly conversations with people, some I’d just met and some I hadn’t seen for years, gave me a huge feeling of warmth and happiness.

This cafe was opposite where we had the hot chocolate. I love how fresh and coordinated it looks. And with the steep hill with houses on in the background, I felt like it was a true Norwegian sight.

NORWAY 2016|PHOTO’S 1

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Here is part one of some of the photo’s I took while I was in Norway in the summer. Best trip of my life!

Fishing for the first time for mackerel in a Fjord (below).

Panoramic of Øna island

Lighthouse on Øna island.

We stumbled upon this sweet church on Øna island. It was next to a glorious beach where we were brace enough to paddle. Freezing is just one way to describe the water.

One of my favourite views on Øna island. It feels mystical that a lighthouse is at the centre of a small fishing village. At night is must be magical.

There were little plant pots outside the homes of the villagers, which brought this very quiet, serene place, to life.

NORWAY • DAY ONE|PLANES, LAMA’S & PAVLOVA

Friday 29th July 2016 – Day One

Having been approached by a homeless drunk  asking for money (who turned out to be very pleasant), and being glared at by the girlfriend of a man I’d previously asked for help, I boarded the National Express from Bath 20 minutes late and began the 4 hour journey to London Gatwick.

The journey was fine, I slept on the coach and quietly ate my breakfast. It was still sinking in that I was on my way to an airport and I wasn’t coming home later that day. Twelve years on since my last trip abroad, I was not used to getting into the mindset of leaving England and my family, for such a long time. And to be honest, the whole feeling was rather exciting.

Arriving at Gatwick Terminal South, I slung my over-filled rucksack over my shoulder and clutched the handle on my suitcase and set off in the direction of check-in.

Going through security and check-in at Gatwick was single-handedly one of the most stressful experiences of my life. And I’ve been through a lot. Walking up the stairs to security, having ditched my water bottle and leaking banana, things felt reasonably calm. A feeling I would soon realise to be a false sense of security.

With the scene in front of me resembling what I imagine to be something quite similar to a Syrian border office, I was met with a wall of people queuing, bags and suitcases in hand, pushing and shoving each other. Each face had its own concerned and troubled expression, with eyes like a rabbit in headlights. I fear it wasn’t long before I looked pretty similar.

I spotted a free inch or three on a table where people were shoving liquids into a clear plastic bag provided by the airport, and becoming unusually territorial, I trotted like a kicked-up-the-arse-cow over and nabbed those precious free couple of inches. I had been organised enough before I left home to separate the liquids I was taking into a clear bag, but I noted here was a size limit on the bag’s provided by the airport. So conscious of not making my first criminal offence, I adhered to procedure’s and transferred it all into their own bag.

It was at this point the zip on my new (new) rucksack decided to break. The panic and fury that started to build inside me put me rapidly at risk of looking even more like a nervous wreck, so I did a pretty thuggish kick of my rucksack along the floor in order to keep my place at in the packed queue. There I was, juggling a passport, boarding pass, plastic bag of liquids, a broken rucksack and trying to fish out my ipad so I didn’t hold said queue up, I already looked dodgy as hell.

After about 5 minutes of being bumped into, shoved and stared intensely at by a 7-year-old boy holding a teddy, clearly trying to work out in his head how airlines allow twitchy human beings such as me to get on the same plane as potentially him, it was suddenly my turn to go through the beep machine.

Putting on my “I genuinely have nothing to hide and I was once a member of GirlGuiding” face and placing my belongings neatly in the trays, I proceeded to nonchalantly wander through the beep machine.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!!!!! 

“Oh Holy Jesus” I screeched as what seemed like every alarm in the building went off following my emergence from the beep machine. Before I knew what I’d done, I was immediately told to stand to one side and take off my shoes. I did a little prayer that my feet hadn’t acquired any fluff since 6 hours ago.

What occurred next can only be described as a necessary evil. Not only was I now bearing skin (feet and ankle) in public, I was then frisked (by actual hand) by a woman officer. Legs, waist, arms. And then I was shouted at for having something in my pocket. Upon being told to remove it, and noting that the officer had stepped back for the removal, I did a mini prayer that the passport I’d previously shoved in my left pocket had not suddenly turned into a pound of class A drugs. Fortunately and unsurprisingly, it was still my passport, and after more frisking, I was waved on. Shaking and with the driest mouth since chewing on a plain Rivita, I hurriedly collected my things and walked through duty-free in a frenzied daze. Completely bypassing anything ‘discounted’.

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The rest of the morning went fairly smoothly and without drama. After trailing around the airport looking at the shops with hiked up prices, I acknowledged my rumbling tummy and went to a place called Wondertree for brunch.

It was good, but what really made everything great; I could see the planes landing and taking off. There were a couple of incidences where a man thought I was taking a deep interest in his face but I didn’t have the heart to tell him that a very fast KLM had just taken off out of his left ear. Essentially. He was sat by the window…

When asked what I would like to order, I indulged in being quintessentially British for one last time, and felt compelled to order avocado on toast with tea. It was yummy.

Ok, a million hours later and 11.20am finally comes around. Boarding time!

Clutching my passport and boarding pass, standing in line grinning to myself like Mr Bean on his first holiday, I catch a glimpse of the massive creature that’s about to fly me 37,000 feet in the sky. I’m talking about the plane, not the pilot. I didn’t see him but I’m sure he’s very slim. He had a nice over-the-tannoy-voice too.

Settling myself into my seat (17c for those closet plane enthusiasts), I spot the man I’m sitting next to and launch in with introducing myself. “Hello, I’m Amy. This is my first plane ride by myself so if I start getting freaked out, don’t panic!” I say with far too much enthusiasm in my voice.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine.” He says with a slightly nervous smile on his face, and without even looking at me, plugs his earphones in to his ear and ‘reads’ something on his phone. We didn’t exchange a single glance or word the entire flight. Take off was bloody scary and how I didn’t inadvertently clutch the man’s leg or scream, I don’t know.

For the majority of the flight I kept dozing. Or at least I think that’s what it was, and not passing out. I’d taken travel sickness pills which cause drowsiness, so I was thankful I had a solid reason for occasionally missing chunks of the flight. I hope to god I didn’t dribble.

The fun came when we started our decent into Norway. I decided then would be a fabulous time to put some make up on so I didn’t resemble an extra from The Walking Dead when I greeted my friend at arrivals. Maneuvering the small space, ear pressure and a heavy rucksack, I retrieved my make up bag and started to line things up on my fold down tray. Well, anyone would have thought I’d started to unload little toy bombs and missiles given the amount of tut’s and sighs I was getting.

Apparently ladies, making yourself look pretty for arriving in a new country is off-limits. Who knew?

Landing was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. After bumping the back wheels like a kid on a new bicycle, the pilot then whacked the brakes on, what I considered to be far too early, and there was a sort of metallic grinding sound as we continued to bump along the tarmac.

Disembarking from the plane was relatively easy, as was customs and baggage reclaim. Very speedy and with such a small airport, there was no option for getting lost.

Before I knew it, I was walking through the doors of arrivals and when I saw my friend standing there, I don’t think I can explain how happy I suddenly felt.

The adrenaline was soaring through me and we chatted and chatted in the car, on the way to where she lives with her husband. I could barely stop smiling. We stopped briefly at a place called Aksla, in Alesund, where the following pictures were taken.

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And after chatting quite a lot more about the last 3 years of our lives, we arrived in the town of Tresfjord, where they live. And where I would be staying for the next week.

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As you may be able to tell from the above picture, I was introduced to some lama’s. This was my first encounter with a lama outside of a zoo and without a mesh fence as a barrier. It went well, but given the look on my face, a Vallium would have gone down well before the meeting.

Only a month previous to this, my friend posted a picture of one of these Lama’s on her front doorstep.

There was so much to look forward to already…

Their house is beautiful. Set basically in a forest, every window I looked out of were either trees or mountains. The view from their living room was fresh out of a fairytale.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, Ewelina presented the most delicious looking Pavlova she’d made for my arrival. It was spectacular and very yummy indeed!

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My first evening in Norway was spent eating delicious food, in the company of great friends, having a good old catch up.

Being able to visit friends after three years apart and just pick up where you left off, as though time never really moved, is a very special thing.

I went to bed with a huge feeling of happiness and excitement for the week to come.