It's not a perfect metaphor.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I arrived home at 8:40am yesterday. The wait at the luggage carousel felt unbearably long and then I hurried out into the light of Australian morning.

I'm still amazingly jet-lagged and tired but I'll tell you what I remember- and what I know. In my last few days in New York I; went to an incredible Broadway show, wandered around the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, ditched going to the Bronx in favour of a belated breakfast and book-shopping in Greenwich Village, missed the city's world-famous Halloween parade, went to the top of the Empire State Building, saw Times Square at midnight and plotzed a little bit, walked the length of Central Park, spent an afternoon sitting in and walking around community gardens in Alphabet City, ate my last piece of $1 cheese pizza, bought my last copy of the New York Times, and lifted my seemingly lead-lined backpack onto my shoulders for the last time. The things I'll take away from it all? A brief conversation with an impromptu fisherman unconventionally succeeding at his craft in a pond in Central Park. The ability Sean Hayes has to sing his lungs out and make me develop yet another crush on a gay man. The quiet that can be found in the city that never sleeps in the ever-ethereal gardens that never feel fully awake.

This will be the last post, of course. I have a lot to think about now. I have $8 to my name and my head is more fuzzy than I can ever remember it- in relation to work, school, life. I didn't think a lot about that before I got here; my expectations were fairly short-sighted. But despite my surprise and apprehension in regards to the decisions I have to make now, I am so excited about the realities of my homecoming. I think they'll be better than any projections I might have considered. Thank you for reading, whoever you are, I appreciate anyone who chose to witness this chapter of my life as I decided to write and edit it. We'll see how well the rest of the story goes, documented or not.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Should've said no.

Can you tell me what it's like to be deeply in love? Can you? Because I am so curious, but I think my curiosity leaves me like a puzzled Anthropologist; studying a culture forever and still not quite getting it because I'm so far removed.

Thoughts like this keep popping into my head these days. I've been spending too much time alone, perhaps, and in all honesty I'm a little depressed. I've set out on a couple of mini-pilgrimages in the last couple of days and come up with nothing so I'm tempted to just go and sit in Central Park for 72 hours or so until my flight leaves. Today I was walking through Queens and someone made a nice, loud remark about my wearing shorts. I had heard about women being harassed on the street in Queens but being chosen myself as a target just gave the whole issue a nice personal touch for me. I immediately went and bought a cheap pair of men's jeans so I could, I don't know, have some peace while I wandered through this place. The incident just made me ask myself why I'd come to Queens. The answer? I wanted to see a museum that's closed for renovation. But hey, at least now I have a nice pair of ill-fitting pants with which to deflect male attention.

Since I wrote last I've done a few things. Went for a melancholy walk along the beach at Coney Island. Walked through the rooms of down-on-their-luck immigrants at the Lower East Side Tenements Museum. Lost myself in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Brooklyn yesterday was kind of nice. Queens today was okay. But it all feels smaller and smaller as I wait to go home. Maybe someday I'll regret being so down on things when I should be relishing these last days. But honestly; I'm tired of this. I'm done. I want to go home.

Tonight I'm going to the show Promises Promises on Broadway. It seems like it'll be interesting and I needed an upper. Tomorrow I'd like to spend a day in the Bronx and get away from Manhattan Madness. We'll see how all my big plans go.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In the Middle of Nothing.

So I saw this movie last night. It's not that great. It's entirely mediocre, actually, which is maybe why it reminds me of me (see how second-rate I am; I make cheap shots at myself). I'd been in the same clothes for around 36 hours when I wrote the draft to this blog, just to let you know where my head was at, so please don't judge me for the weird stuff I write next. I'll start at the end.

The end to which I refer is the end of new places. When I left Ottawa (which, to recap, was perfectly fine. I liked the museums and I ate in a bakery that Barack Obama once- literally, once- frequented), I had officially ended the "unknown" portion of my trip. I headed back to Peterborough to hang with two very wonderful Canadian gals who, between them, fed me well; took me rummage-saling; provided me with Glee; took me out non-drinking (I dunno why but it looks like my sobriety is back); convinced me to climb a tree for the first time in, I reckon, a decade; brainstormed about my future career with far more imagination than I could bring to the task; and took several pictures of me smiling at the camera. It was a great weekend that felt fresh and familiar all at once.

On Sunday I ended up in Toronto with K which was a really relieving experience. The travel exhaustion that landed me back in Ontario really helped me with visiting these two very positive influences on my recent life when previously I had been worried that I would barely ever- or never- see them again. K showed me around her old college and we walked and chatted or had coffee and chatted or sat in a park and chatted. Or all of the above. I got around four hours of K-time. I think I needed it, needed those hours to feel okay about my self-imposed week of solitude.

The 12-hour bus ride was therapeutic in some ways. I mean, I was miserable but I knew what I was in for this time and I could just focus on the fact that it'll be my last bus ride for a while. There was a whole gang of foreign exchange students from a university in Peterborough on board-which was a little eerie- and one was from Australia. He commented on my "Canadian-Australian" accent that was "so cool". You know, he's the first one to think so.

A lot of things in New York feel the same and a lot feel different. Last time, when I arrived, I felt the weight of possibility and expectation, and, simultaneously, the conflicting effervescence of excitement. This time I'm calm. I want for nothing from this city, I just want to exist in it. Today all I did was re-visit spots that I or we saw last time. Central Park, bookshops, the Lower East Side. I had an epiphany while semi-sleeping in the park; last time I was in the middle of everything. Now I'm in the middle of nothing. It's all about where my head's at and right now it's still. There's so much in there but it's locked into place for a little while, frozen by fatigue and the knowledge that I'm in a city that can make even the way I think seem ordered and acceptable. I'm carrying a lot of books with me and my hostel is right by the park. I could spend my week reading my life away. But that damn movie has me reconsidering whether I want to do absolutely nothing this week.

I was talking to a good friend the other day when I told her- she was the first one I've admitted this to, actually- that I have a "Hope List" for when I come home. Just some stuff I'm looking forward to; simple concept but really comforting at times or mildly intimidating at others. And in the film I saw last night, this kid basically had the same thing. That really hit me because I feel... powerless, compared with this character. Fictional character. Who seemingly is putting his plans into action with the people around him while I'm alone and weirdly introspective in New York. There were other things that also shocked me by how much they... shocked me. Considering how, well, not-great the movie is. One guy just loses it at one point, physicalises everything he is going through and starts throwing stuff around and screaming. Another guy draws and paints away his crazy. I wish I could do either. But even when I'm subdued and internally working on my issues, they feel so much bigger than I can ever express or banish. I have brief moments of being completely overcome and others of knowing they'll always be in the background. Not centre stage, thankfully, but ever-partially-there.

For now, I focus on my week in New York that may need its own Hope List. But for now, I'll leave you with an abridged list for when I come home.

My Hope List

1. Sleep in my own bed.
2. Bake in my own kitchen.
3. Make a scrapbook of my journey.
4. Go bike riding around Melbourne.
5. Visit all of my city's markets.
6. Start attending a yoga class.
7. Write more often and with more discipline.
8. Watch an entire TV series on DVD over a week or weekend (depending on length of series, of course).
9. Plant a small garden.
10. Swim more.
11. Get contacts and grow my hair out.
12. Go for more walks.
13. Drink lots of tea out of big mugs while sitting with beloved people.
14. Decide what I want to study next year (second language? Anthro? Lit? Writing?).
15. Go to New Zealand.
16. Go on day trips to other parts of Victoria.
17. Give more random gifts to people.
18. Clear out all of my unwanted things. My backpack is an example of how this can be done.
19. See more live music.
20. Go to events and museums in my city the way I did in so many others.
21. Keep in touch with friends, both those from pre-trip and post.
22. Treat men with more respect.
23. Dance and do social activities without constantly feeling conscious of the reluctant, Daria-esque persona I feel compelled to maintain.
24. See myself as beautiful the way certain people in my life- or transience- have told me to do. See my journey, and journeys, as such.
25. Buy a new pair of sneakers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Take me back.

The rest of my time in Quebec was, thankfully, fairly low-key. I made a friend on my last couple of days in Quebec City who was actually a fellow Melbournite and was really fun to hang out with. I was, weirdly, able to show her around the city I'd unwillingly gotten to know and we had fun catching the ferry just for the opportunity to take photos of the (already) most-photographed hotel in the world. We did all the requisite things like drink hot chocolate out of a bowl (well, that was me but she was kind enough to take a picture of me) and eat crepes in a cute little cafe. It was nice to spend time with someone who could compare everywhere we went to somewhere in Melbourne or talk about what Oz was like with curious shop-keepers and ticket-sellers.

I ended up in Montreal on a Friday and was, admittedly, somewhat relieved that people there are a tad more bilingual. Not that I didn't adore the Quebecois but I felt like an arsehole whenever I had to ask them to switch languages, it was just making me desperate to learn any language other than English so that I'm no longer a walking traveller stereotype. But Montreal was nice, I stayed with Cheesecake Friend and her sister and they were amahzing hosts. Saturday night we went to see OK Go at this tiny, beautiful, shabby venue and they were incredible and fun. Sunday I got to see the city's seriously well-put together Botanical Gardens and much-hated Olympic Stadium, plus Old Port and the raccoons and view (both great) at the top of Mont Royal. Monday I wandered Plateau- Mont Royal and shopped like the bad traveller that I am, and was then taken to get cheesecake which was fun for old times' sake. Tuesday I went downtown to see a truly interesting city and got to spend some time in the Chapel where Celine Dion got married. Because that's very, very important to me. Wednesday I got on a bus and came here.

Where is here? Ottawa. Everybody told me I'd be bored but I find it wonderful. Goodness knows I'm not interested in living here, but I've figured out that I'm pretty much only interested in living in Melbourne so that's hardly something that sets this city apart. The National Gallery is seriously impressive and some of the buildings are stunning and make for a really nice skyline. I'm staying in a hostel where my (thankfully private) room is a jail cell and there's a kitchen so I can cook mountains and mountains of kale and pretend that eating vending machine breakfasts and cheap diner meals for the past five weeks hasn't ruined my body and my taste buds forever. Tomorrow afternoon I get the bus to go see my favourite farming intern in the whole wide world who, I hope, can help me get my Glee fix for the first time in months (it's genuinely hurting me to go without).

I head to NYC from TO (again) on Sunday night and in a bit over a week I fly home. I've got to be honest, I'm counting the days. If not for the friends I've made in Canada, I would already be so super-keen to come home that I would sneak into somebody's luggage (I picture one of those horrific over-sized, wheeled suitcases. Probably black or bright pink. Comfy.) just to get back to Melbourne faster. But the thought of seeing my maple syrup-drinking, snow-indifferent Ontarian buddies is enough to keep me happy for a little longer. In the meantime, I should probably go take a squiz at Canada's national parliament, just to keep me occupied. I'ma do that now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where dreams and ice-cream are made.

I spent a week in Vermont. Two nights in Brattleboro, home of hippie America (Can you say eco? Can you say organic? Can you say fair trade? Get out.) proved nice and laidback. I stayed in my first all-American motel and giggled at the perplexed receptionist's look when I said I didn't have a car (I walked two miles uphill in the rain out of town with my backpack and no raincoat to get to the motel at 7pm). I got weirdly into watching TV in that room, probably because for perhaps the first time since I started travelling I had possession of the remote control. It was such an easy couple of days, I just walked and looked at beautiful trees and fog and lakes and shopped for nothing at all.

I got the train to Burlington where, thankfully for my wallet, there is a new youth hostel. It's rather zen and interesting; in a warehouse space with canvas curtains hung for privacy and Eastern style furnishings and decorations in the common areas (and chilled-out music playing all the time except when one of the employees decides to put on the Chicago soundtrack at 10 at night). There was an awesome receptionist there that I really liked who loved to travel and thus had situated herself in a place where travellers would come to her (it reminded me of my hostess at the Heavenly Farm in a really nice way). The town was cute but small and I had so many things to figure out that I think I spent my mother's gift money on internet. The rest I spent on going to movies to stave off boredom and homesickness because I was in that kind of mood. It worked, to some extent, and on my last night I met some 30-something year old metal-crafters that were super cool and one of them had a kind of Fargo-like accent which I won't pretend I didn't adore. Along with the lovely receptionist, neither of the metal-crafters acted like it was weird that I stayed in on a Saturday night to read about Canada. Nice people, those.

So after sampling college towns and hippie enclaves in Vermont, I decided it was time for Quebec City. My heart had been back in Canada all along, I think, and thus far this place has no disappointed. It's beautiful physically and though those folks in Ontario warned me that the Quebecois can be snooty, everyone has been amazingly kind to me. I've browsed medieval shops and eaten crepes in cramped cafes, walked along the waterfront and glimpsed the lights of Place Royale twinkling in the early evening. I'm hoping to go museuming today and maybe learn a little something.

Could it be? Is my blog up-to-date? Oh my.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Athens of America?

N was in Boston. Or she wasn't yet but she would be soon. So I caught a bus from Pittsburgh to NYC, where I arrived at midnight. I would only have known that because of my clock; the city looked basically the same as any other time I'd been there. Waiting at Penn Station for an hour proved fine; I was almost just happy to be there again. And then I had another experience that took my mind back to Glasgow, of all places.

A man completely stoned off his face approached me. He wanted to know what I was reading and offered me some of his food, or to buy me some food of my own. I declined but talked politely with him for a while when he said he'd like to take me out for steak, so long as I wasn't married. Damnation, I wish I was a better liar. I said that no, I wasn't married but I was going to Boston. Boston? he said, Maybe I'll come see you in Boston. But, I replied, I'm visiting a friend. So he told me he'd take me and my friend out for steaks. I thought I'd best not tell him we were both vegetarians for fear of hurting his feelings. Then he wanted a hug, which I granted him partially due to it being beyond my ability to stop him at that point. I only got serious when he then kissed my neck. I shoved him away and at this point he said that he didn't mean to make me uncomfortable. I believed him but didn't forgive. He chattered a little longer before saying he had to go but he needed the bus fare. I gave him a few dollars to accelerate his exit but then he said he was going to kiss me. I simply put up my hands in a pseudo-defensive gesture and said that I wanted us to part as friends. As soon as I'd asserted myself, he muttered that we were and walked off.

The whole situation made me reappraise the person who freaked out six months ago because a man may or may not have been making sexual advances toward her. She was within her rights to be upset, sure, but here I am now; calmly, even humorously (I hope), telling the story of a man who stated fairly explicitly that he wanted to give me steak for sex. And I wasn't scared at the time, either, or all that angry. I was just there. I didn't want to be and in a perfect world, I wouldn't have been- no woman would- but I saw it as nothing more than mild bad luck. Wrong place, wrong time, oh well. The message I took from it all; I can handle this. All of this. It was an amazing feeling. I've grown up, at least a little. And in six months time I'll be able to cope with even more. I'm so curious to see that.

I arrived in Boston at six in the morning after another sleepless night on a bus. I called my Mum for the first time in a while and spoke to her for over an hour while trying to stay awake (thank goddess she's home on a Friday night). I spent the morning doing more of the same, wandering around Boston. A nice city, I think. The parks are nice to sleep in, anyway. I surprised N at the bus station in the afternoon and her father gave us a lift back to Cambridge, which we relished, and we got to shower, talk and eat. I'd missed her. Between N and her home, I'd found a comfortable place. Her family, especially her younger sister, were very kind and friendly and took care of me. N, her sister and I spent a few days wandering Cambridge (Harvard Square is kind of cool and it sort of freaks me out that the two movies I saw this weekend both featured it but whatevz, since I went there I suppose it's become a happening place) watching Hook for the old times' sake and Merlin because it's so wonderfully subtexty. We were just taking a break. And then again it was a hard goodbye and she was off to a farm in Georgia.

I spent my last day in Massachusetts visiting Salem which was amahzing if only because of the infectious combination of tacky, gothic and kitsch that characterises so much of the town. Yes, I bought a t-shirt.

And then it was on to Brattleboro.


I went to Philadelphia. It's not a city deserving of a particularly long sentence. I had fun my first day; less on my second. One massively disappointing thing was going to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and being so thoroughly underwhelmed by the sparse exhibits. It's my fault for being passionate about something though, that never leads anywhere good. And that Museum- I forget what it's called but I know Rocky ran up the steps that one time- was something of a yawn after the Met. Snobby of me to say, I know, and there were bright spots but mostly it was a waste of money for me. Some things did catch my interest; the African American Museum was great and the Meeting House of Friends was the largest in the world. Interesting place. I stayed at a hostel ages out of the city that was an old mansion which was fun; walking from the bus stop under beautiful trees and past a working stable was a treat. And one morning my server for "brunch" (ugh, what a pointless meal. But hey, I woke up late; I deserve the punishment) could have been Jack McFarland- he was that camp and adorabubble. And I made a friend in my hostel who was Russian ethical vegetarian (gasp!) and who had spent her summer by the beach in Wilmington, North Carolina. Ash, you better appreciate how excited that made me. My friend was insanely intelligent and composed. It's tempting to go to Russia just to see her again and get to know her better.

Pittsburgh proved a bit more fun. I stayed with friends of friends; newlyweds that moved there so Mrs. could study library science. Mr. was around a fair bit so between me going on my infamously ambitious tourist walks (from one side of the city to the other and back again... what?! I wanted to go shopping in the South Side) and leaving on an overnight bus a few days later, we hung out a fair bit. I spent more time with Husband but both halves of this couple (or both hosts, if I'm emotionally healthy about my naming of these two individuals) were super friendly, intriguing people. They took me on a tour of the Cathedral of Learning (awesome Hogwarts-esque building that makes me want to study at the University of Pittsburgh so that I can do my required reading while sitting on a throne like I saw one girl doing.) and the Phipps Conservatory that the WWOOFer in me judged kind of harshly but the girly girl rejoiced in (Orchids! Fountains! Eee!). On my last night we attended a bike advocacy presentation that got me itching to get back on my bike in Melbourne and get better at cycling in the city. I'm so glad I'm not a cyclist in Pittsburgh, the City of Mountains. Though I guess I'd have killer calves. My only regret about Pittsburgh is that I didn't have more time to get to know the Newlyweds. But I had to get to Boston!

Friday, October 8, 2010

You were the only person I knew.

I realise that I haven't written since before K and I went to Noo Yawk in September. There's no real excuse for this because I probably could have found the time if I'd tried harder. But I'm glad I didn't. Things have been somewhat crazy and calm all at once; this strange state was preserved by a practice of reflection, I think. I've been keeping a journal again, a doing which had gone undone while I was farming. I plead exhaustion, emotional and otherwise. But now I feel ready to write, at least for a while.

K and I left for New York at 9pm from Toronto. We were both fairly fresh and excited; such was our enthusiasm that even another nightmarish run-in with US border jerks officials couldn't entirely quash our spirits. We arrived in the city-famous-enough-to-have-too-many-quirky-monikers-for-me-to-pick-just-one twelve hours later. That first day feels blurry- mostly because neither of us slept the night before- but I know we were enchanted. That didn't last.

Being in New York for the first time is like experiencing your first crush or relationship. You find everything endearing at first; every crowded street, every corner of Central Park, every tiny and slightly overpriced cafe, the vintage stores littering every block of the Lower East Side. It's all splendid. And then you get to know it a little better. Those charming subway rides feel longer and sweatier. The museums aren't quite what you were expecting. Broadway is as tacky as it is long. Poverty and obscene wealth exist side by side to the most excruciating degree. The streets are tinged with ugly. And then, after you spend a little while being disillusioned and feeling betrayed in an odd way, you see something. A feature you didn't notice before, even when you were first so clearly enamoured. People sell used books on every corner. The city noise is constant; the varying absurd emergency sirens make you laugh. Every little neighbourhood has its own distinct flavour, in no way manufactured or even homegrown but instead created by the exact shape of every single person currently standing within its geographical limits. And suddenly, all things considered, you decide that maybe you do- kind of, sort of, a little bit- heart New York.

Something else I discovered in that city was a friend. I thought I knew K before we left the farm and perhaps to some extent I did but I only knew the real person after seven days of New York madness. I can genuinely say now that I love her. We both saw each others' ups and downs and collectively experienced the shock to the system that big city/travel living gives you after months of organic farming. We lamented how our clothes, hair and bodies stank, how crowded the subway was, how everything felt so loud. We couldn't seem to sleep in (I certainly couldn't stay up) and we unabashedly judged the over-sized, unnatural-looking fruit that was sold by street vendors. We appeased each others' bad moods and bitched about hostels and their abominable prices and worse receptionists. I don't mean to give the impression that we only bonded over bad stuff; we also had a hell of a lot of good stuff. On our first morning we wandered the ridiculously large Times Square Toys "R" Us while eating over-sized cupcakes for breakfast.We hung out every night and chatted about anything and everything in a weirdly Woody Allen-way with a Manhattan setting and respective clusters of neuroses. We went to amazing museums like the Met (and the Cloisters; K's favourite) and searched out used bookstores and Jewish delights (knishes, bialys, pickles... love). On our last night we caught the Staten Island ferry at sunset and ate cheap pretzels with mustard in the ferry terminal. Saying goodbye to K was maybe the hardest goodbye yet; knowing I might never see people again has made getting close to them sort of painful but this was on another level. Here was a girl I could imagine being in my life for years that I had to somehow say goodbye to; face to face. I've noticed that when I say "so long", I have serious trouble looking people in the eye and more trouble saying something meaningful or eloquent. This situation proved no exception. But she had a bus to catch and so did I.

[Mammoth blog catch-up to be continued...]

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A room of my own.

I never said thank you to the taxi driver who told me I looked "pretty in purple" and kept me talking the entire way into town when he picked me up from the last farm and I'd been crying all morning.

Every tool you need in the garden here is kept in a dilapidated gypsy wagon. There is an arbour hung with grapes that is nice to sit under while you read on days off, or pick from on the days on. By the large trees that are constantly shedding their leaves lies a mountain of bikes that you can select from and ride anywhere in the world if you're not scared of crossing the road- that is, a busy highway.

I got the opportunity to learn how to can tomatoes the other day in an outdoor kitchen and had so much fun doing it while the sun was shining. Everything around me was hot and beautiful.

I don't know what counts as news right now so I'm just going to tell you what I remember.

One of my tasks on the farm right now is feeding the animals which feels kind of strange considering I'm a former/wannabe vegan and I don't know how I feel about raising animals in order to use their products. That being said, as long as I am a vegetarian I feel that it's important to take some responsibility in what happens to the animals you are, well, exploiting. I have been enjoying and learning the ups and downs of feeding chickens and collecting eggs and such (my favourite creatures are the silkie chickens. They have mohawks and shaggy feathers on their feet and they strut around their cage like rock stars). Something that really upset me was when four ducklings died in two days. I suppose it's natural, that's what the farmers here told me, but I couldn't help but fret about whether there was something that could be done. Mostly I'm learning that there's nothing easy about raising food, and one of the sadder things for me is witnessing death in the name of sustaining life. Someone did talk to me about focussing on the fact that it's natural, so I am doing that as much as I can. I still feel a little shaken though, which is probably a sign that veganism might be the only thing that leaves me with an even-beating heart.

I have some new sisters here. They can't possibly replace the old ones, but they're proving to be amazing sources of strength.

S is a surly, German girl of few words but many faces, beautiful like an angel in a painting and infused with a hatred of "girly girls". She giggles and scowls in the same breath, enjoys both dark music and chocolate and lives her life simply. We ride bikes into the nearby town, melt into the grass at the park and gulp iced tea until we're done being elsewhere.

N is a writer, the kind of person who is a storyteller in every context of her life. Her words are always beautiful and the clarity, precision and yet flowing nature of her prose is reflected in her physicality. She is a creator of wonderful things on her body, around her, and in her mind. The kindness she displays to language extends also to that which she says to others; that is, she is sweet whenever she speaks.

K is an enigma, painfully cool and elusive and yet friendly and approachable all at once. Her easygoing nature disguises a determination and resolve that resides in every inch of her. This woman is beyond intelligent, or clever, and is instead submerged in understanding all the time. It drips off her in what she says, and falls to the floor in heavy droplets when she stays silent. I relish her presence.

On Thursday I board a bus to NYC, with K. She and I will see some sights and I will retain the dirty fingernails and dishevelled appearance that farming for a little over three months has given me. After seven days, I will be alone again. Then I will be just another object floating haphazardly across an Autumn sky.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On blue water.

All I seem to do lately is run away. Today I left the farm I was on for over a month and was previously happy. I had been having issues with the farmer there. Lately, whenever we were in the field or alone (or even around other people) he would make comments about my work ethic, my fashion sense, my attitude... When he realised that I was no longer responding and pretending that it was banter, he continued. And when I stopped responding even with single syllables ("yeah.." "oh?" etc.) he began making comments about how over-sensitive I was and how I need to "toughen up a little bit". And when he knew he had completely crushed my self-esteem for the umpteenth time that day, he would say "come on, I'm just teasing".

I used to really like this man and I think he liked me. I suppose that the stress of living, working, eating etc. together has put a strain on our relationship and for whatever reason, he had decided that of all the people on his farm I was the most useless. I felt like I was choking every time he was in the room, knowing that another insult was headed my way just as soon as he could find a way to frame it as a joke. When I thought back to the last time I felt so powerless and unhappy in this way, the only memory I had was high school. Early high school.

When I told him this morning that I was leaving, he took several opportunities to insult me again and list the qualities about me that needed to change and that had made life on the farm difficult for the past few weeks. I began crying. Unfortunately, the farmhouse is over a hundred years old with paper-thin walls. My entering my room was not enough to stop him hearing the sobbing and entering, without my permission, to tell me the things I "better do if I wanted to leave today"; basic kitchen chores (scrubbing the kitchen floor, wiping the counter) and listening to him some more. When he was done for a second time, I packed the last of my things, did the jobs he had suggested and called a cab. On my way out of the farm, he followed me to the taxi asking me why I would do this to his partner who had been so good to me.

At this point there are a few things I should say. This man's partner is one of the most beautiful people I have ever encountered. She was truly supportive of me when I was heartsick, when I was homesick, and when I had poison ivy... she's great and I love her. But she hasn't been around for the last couple of days and it is when she's not around that any and all positive influence she has on her partner disappears and he continues his blunt and passive aggressive behaviour toward the people who piss him off. I am one of these people, evidently. Why I piss him off, you ask? I am not the most talented person in the field, despite how much I enjoy living on the farm. He likes to point out that I am a slow weeder or, when I am going fast, a careless weeder. There are many other farm skills of mine that are also under par, including washing harvested vegetables quickly enough and storing them properly. Indeed, my abilities involving dish washing, tea-making and other chores are also disappointing. And unlike some of the other volunteers on the farm, I don't elect to work full days in the field, choosing instead to stay inside and make bread or process vegetables once my obligatory hours are done. And this week I've had poison ivy covering my legs. I requested not to be in the field at all because of the soreness and itchiness becoming unbearable in the heat. In his eyes, and I mean this in no way sarcastically or self-pityingly; I am a lazy person, less focussed than the rest of the people on the farm and not emotionally open to him.

His resentment of me grew, and due to his, mine grew in retaliation. But only one of us was expressing these feelings toward the individual in question so I suppose mine may take longer to subside. When I inhale and exhale and imagine I'm with my family on the beach, everything feels a little more bearable. But today I felt like dying and the strength I needed to get out of that house exhausted me.

I don't know where all this ugliness came from or in whom it was worse; him or me. I just know that this past week has been one of the loneliest times in my life. I finally feel sort-of safe. So I'm dreaming of home until this starts to feel good again, or my journey across the sea has to begin. Right now I think that if I dove into the Australian ocean and swam until I couldn't breathe, I'd still be further from drowning than I was today.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

And it makes me cry.

It's 3am on a Saturday morning where I am. I'm being kept awake by seriously horrific menstrual cramps (sorry for anyone who is made uncomfortable by that possible over-share but it's true. I also haven't showered in over three days now, had a hair cut since nine-year-olds did their best on my 'do in May, or worn my retainer since I left Australia).

I could talk about farming some more but I think you've had plenty of posts on that. Hopefully you're beginning to get my point that I enjoy this. I may have overdone it with the last one but I miss writing, real writing, and this blog seemed like one of my only outlets for that. Truthfully, the satisfaction of knowing that every vegetable on your plate has come from the field is what makes what I'm doing seem special to me. Otherwise, my life is as it’s ever been. Only half-lived by me.

Do you wanna hear some stuff I've been thinking about?

I miss home a lot, but in this abstract and furry way. There's a haze around the edge of my memories about Melbourne; a city I never knew I loved this much. Idealising it, I suppose, but also seeing it clearly for maybe the first time. The list of things I miss is almost general. Compulsive movie-going at the beautiful Westgarth Cinema, the fact that my best friend lives ten minutes away by foot, shopping on Brunswick Street, Elizabeth Street eating and all its crumminess, that you can get a chai latte anywhere, impromptu and lengthy chats on the Federation Square steps, the filthy trains and glorious trams, the relatively mild but still somehow and somewhat unpredictable weather...

Basic, huh?

People, though, are sharp and clear in my mind…when I remember to recall them. Which, admittedly, is not as often as I could pretend. I'm not too sorry about that though, because that heat- the one that plunges silently down my throat and through my heart to settle in my stomach when I remember something gorgeous that a loved one does or says- is only so potent because it's unexpected. I'm sure people know this because they've been surprised once or twice by how much they missed someone they forgot they were taking for granted.

And I am, you know. Taking a lot for granted.

I've been thinking about how self-indulgent this trip is. I knew all along that it was a selfish endeavour but some things made me examine it in a less "yeah, it's a 'me-me-me' thing but what are you going to do? I wanna discover more about this magnificent creature called Hannah" way. Someone was talking about the divided opinions on Eat Pray Love* and how some say it is heart-wrenchingly wonderful and changed their life and others argue that it's self-indulgent twaddle (I write this as I discuss myself in great detail on a little-read travel blog. Snort.). I allowed that both books and people that are about travelling to foreign places for indefinite periods of time in order to create a new and/or improved identity are enabled only by a wealthy and indulgent culture that encourages and accepts such behaviour. So what the bloody hell have I been doing, huh?

Yeah, I'm a hypocrite. Experiencing a "journey" that the majority of the world's people will never get to take while I spout socialist-sympathetic rants about equality and decency in how we live our lives. My trip is about money and class and education and the ways in which that has made me feel entitled to this pursuit of enlightenment and self-fulfilment. If things were different; maybe I'd be more sorry. I'd have donated my savings to a hard-working and under-staffed, non-government organisation that would try to save the planet and not just my soul. I'd have stayed in Melbourne and changed my life there and then just because I wanted to and I didn't have to be shocked into a re-assessment of my values and habits.

But things are not different.

I did travel across the world to pick beans and get an accidental and uneven tan. I did fall in love with a boy who doesn't love me back. I did begin to reassess my ideas of beauty and humanity, even in relation to myself. I did carry a- far too heavy and over-packed- backpack through four countries, thus far, just to discover that all I needed was a cotton dress, credit card, boots and a notebook. I did nothing last weekend but watch movies because I was tired and visiting Toronto was beyond me even though I'd promised to do it soon. I did kiss the Blarney Stone, take a picture at Niagara Falls, gaze at the city of Edinburgh from inside the castle walls and walk across London's Tower Bridge. I did feel far more impressed by the act of swimming alone in a lake, the texture of fried bread fresh from the pan, and the way people look at you when they know they're probably saying goodbye forever.

And I did decide to settle down here for now in order to assess all this. My first farm, first Canadian love. My head was all wrong; I was tired and emotionally broke. Soon, I think, I'll be ready to go again. Do that last bit of moving about, of meeting new people and ogling at places, before I come home. The conclusion I've come to is that though for many people the only and best choice is to figure themselves out well before they're nineteen and travelling the world just 'cause they can, the one I've made is to do it this way. I want to finish this, I guess, despite the burns homesickness sometimes leaves on me and the ideological qualms I have with the way I decided to facilitate this personal growth.

I think I’ve said plenty- too much, really- for now.

* The basic gist I get is that it's a middle-class, middle-aged woman's quest, while en route around the world, to find herself. Haven't read it myself and am actually now desperate to.

[I dunno if everyone realises just how much these blogs are written "on the fly". I don't ezackaly draft them and goodness knows I do a shoddy job editing. I read a couple of them back and thought "whoa, that was bad". This is sort of a record for me as much as anyone reading back home so I suppose it doesn't really matter. But I wish I could do this better.]

Friday, July 30, 2010


Eyes open. Early morning embraces me, an indiscriminate lover of anyone willing to meet it. I don't know what I will find here.

Suddenly I am happy. My arms are sore soon enough but they are compulsive in and of themselves. They move quicker than my mind but never quick enough, I think. My understanding is sacrificed to the necessity of swift work. How did that pile of crops disappear so fast? Because they had to, the Knowing Voice answers, and because you are more than you think you are.

Pick it up, he says, and points to the trowel on the ground. Dig. I lean down, my knees pushing into the dusty path and creating space for me there. My arms reach out but what they grab is kohlrabi. I tug until I hear the satisfying sound of roots leaving the dirt. One vegetable drops from my hand and I must stretch across the bed to retrieve it. Tomato plants and their branches sag over my back and head, blocking the light and sky from my view. The aroma down here, in my army crawl position, is like too much incense in a small room. I am dizzy but I keep wriggling forward, tearing weeds from in front of me as I go. Finally I can't take the beautiful stench anymore and stand up, blinking. The weight of dozens of turnips pulls at my arms. The bag over my shoulder is destined for the cooler and as I walk into it, my eyes look for an empty corner. The darkness makes me think any one of them is eligible, but I know better. I reach around, trying to feel out a solution, and something grabs my hand. It starts to sting and I stop picking beans for a moment, just a moment, and sit back in the field under the bright sun to stare at the spider bite that is becoming a red lump. I rub my finger over it, curious, and plunge the stricken limb into some cold water. Out of the sink comes a bunch of carrots, and then beets, and then radishes. Each must be categorised by size and beauty, and then strangled with elastic. The flicking and snapping hurts my hands and my ears and finally I turn to place them on the table. The wood is filthy so I wipe down the surface before I place a steaming hot saucepan on it. I need pepper, and salt, and water, and what should I do about a salad? They'll all be coming soon. Hurry, hurry, cutlery and glasses. I run to the door; I need to harvest herbs for this dish. Out into the sunlight I go, and scoop up baby. He is escaping again, off to the gravel driveway or the hammock or the tubs of water used to rinse dirty kale and swiss chard. Round and around we go, swinging and laughing and sometimes biting when we're not being well behaved. He wants to stay outside so we do flips on the hammock and run around the porch in a fragmented game of hide and seek. When I run back to meet him at the back door, I find my dirty hat on the ground. Face cast downward, I place it back onto my head. In front of me is a small hole with potatoes scattered inside it. I rummage about in the soil for more and then crawl onto the next place. The thump of the potatoes tossed over my shoulder into a basket is satisfying enough to merit more scrounging. And then the call to come in to lunch is sounded and I ask "what did I do all morning?"

There are foods in front of me that I would never have assumed were for my mouth or my stomach. People are leaning forward over the table, watching me. Eat them, they push, and I do. Relief rubs my shoulders and strokes my hair as I nod in agreement.

I awake, now, and rub my eyes. My hands are comprised of only dirty skin, cuts and callouses. When I cry the tears of someone still drunk on sleep, they are infused with specks of soil. I smile and reach for my hat. The tent glows with the promise of the day outside and I have another chance to meet it. The dream is waiting for me.

Can I burn the mazes I grow?

There are a lot of things I shy away from on this blog. Talking about the rough times, for one, is something I tend to lean towards even when I'm trying my hardest to be honest. But I want to read this back one day and know that it is somehow a true depiction of the person I am now, even edited the way it is, and so this entry is necessary for the purpose. It may, however, seem like something of a non-sequiter.

This trip was meant to be about growing (metaphorically, that is, although I understand that all the vegetable farming might point you toward the literal). I have some issues that need big time sorting out and I wondered if coming across the world might be able to help me with that. It seems that, with at least one of them, it has.

I suck with men. I mean that. I am gawd awful, utterly and hopelessly inept. The only close, long term relationship I have had with any man without a single massive blunder on my part is with my father. That fellow is one of the brightest lights in my world and I think between us we've managed a fairly healthy interaction for over nineteen years now. Any other man I've had consistent contact with for any length of time has ended up being hurt by me in some way. Or, if not that, I've managed to royally piss him off at some point. I can't get along with gents and it's really difficult for me to tell you why. Mostly 'cause I ain't sure myself.

These "issues" or projections or whatever the hell it is that makes me verbally abusive or emotionally manipulative toward the unfairer sex came to a head recently. Or, at least, they came up in my head in a way that made me examine and contemplate them. I think I mentioned Monsieur Astrophysicist in a previous entry? He worked with me on one of the farms? Well, the night that I got relatively sloshed I forced him to tell me his real opinion of me. And one of the things that came out was that he thinks I have issues with men that need resolving so I can, well, be healthy, happy and a decent human being. I know it sounds like an obvious statement but while it's always been a glaring omission when I list the important people in my life and next to no masculine names apply, I'd never really made myself think about my apparent hatred for men before. I guess it's something people back home accept about me and thus I never really tried to work through it.

I laughed about it, really, because truthfully I didn't think that there was a single man in this world that could make me reconsider my admittedly stubborn and ignorant point of view that sweet, smart, considerate people could only be female or homosexual or both. If this wasn't the case, I maintained, there was something strange about the individual I was forced to like and respect.

And then I met someone new.

How ironic that I met this person the day after I was told my greatest character flaw was my lack of love for men? But that's what happened. He was so perfectly imperfect, so captivating and- ultimately- kind, clever and unique, that I thought the universe was playing a joke on me. Wasn't this what I was warned about? This charming man? The one to make me re-evaluate all that I'd thought before, everything I thought I knew about "guys"? Alas, he was human. He was my friend, too, but so very human. I discovered unpleasant things about this individual almost as soon as I'd decided I could handle any weaknesses he revealed. I was crushed but somehow relieved. Did this make me right the first time around?

No, I don't think it did. The love I had for this man, for the fresh start he represented to me in the way I could see half of the human population, didn't just evaporate. Nor did my hope. I came out here to learn more about myself. And as much as it hurts to do so, I've unearthed some ugly aspects of my personality and now I need to examine them. These two men in my life recently, the first with his kind cruelty and the second with just his presence, have made me assess what I think about men and in what capacity I can see them in my future. Can I appreciate them as they are? See them as complete, and therefore completely damaged, as I am? And love them just the same?

One man, I think, has earnt that love, whole and entire. Not either of the ones I spoke of above. The one I betrayed at home before I left. I see that action now as one symptom of my fixation on male inadequacies, a shameful and ridiculous attempt at remaining distant. His forgiveness, though, and subsequent support, is maybe the most important part of what I've realised recently. I will forever feel that he gave me peace when I thought this could only be worked out in turmoil. It may be the first time I've said this properly to a man but thank you. Your presence in my life was essential to this one happiness, and, I think, many more.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Look up, look up, the sky is falling.

I've told you about this farm already, haven't? The splendiferousness of it? Well, I'm at week two and I guess I've found more to say.

I've fallen in love with several things here. Some people, with kind eyes and sweet smiles, and some... actions? I walk around covered in dirt basically all the time and I love it. My hands are perpetually smudged with soil, insect bites and small cuts; same goes for my arms and legs in general. I went to market like this on Thursday, my overalls folded down and filthy and my bare feet sizzling slightly on the pavement as I told customers the price of green beans.

I go barefoot more. I take off my glasses and brush my hair out of my eyes. I go swimming in my clothes. I throw unripe tomatoes at the boys I like when they fall off the plant I'm weeding. I trampoline. I talk to people first rather than waiting for them to approach me. I wonder where the day has gone because I was busy the whole time. I try to learn the asalatos. I relish the opportunity to dig potatoes and pick green beans. I play with the kittens that live on the deck. I say yes to basically everything asked of me (except gardening topless... I declined). I make fun of my accent and Canadians at the same time. I run through the field whenever I get the opportunity because it feels good to do it while I'm laughing.

There are some great things happening. I think I'ma go back to the first farm I was on on Monday. I miss them terribly and I'll be excited to see how the plants and the people have grown. Tomorrow I may be going to Niagara Falls. And I met this awesome girl who is moving to Australia around the end of the year to stay for a few years so yay! A travelling friend I will actually see again soon after going home. And a trip to NYC may be looming. But everything changes with me from day to day right now, so we'll see.

I can't say this was all a result of where I am. Some of it has been a long time coming, I think.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Down the rabbit hole.

Where was I? I was a week ago, I was unhappy, I was in this exact place. And yet I'm somewhere new, too.

The farm I am on is a wonderland and I am learning to acknowledge that. To describe what I can, briefly; there is a big house with many rooms and secrets and books. As with most good households, the kitchen is large and the centre of all action. We live there but we sleep somewhere else. There is a large outdoor eating area with picnic tables and chairs on a deck covered in kittens and people's belongings set down sometime, maybe after work or before breakfast on the way into the house, that may never be collected now. The main field is large and colourful (though most of those colours are, thankfully, shades of green) and there are archways or walls of vines breaking up what might otherwise be an endless monotony of rows and paths. There are hoofed animals in paddocks and there is an old greenhouse that has been re-designed as an aviary housing chickens, turkeys, peacocks, rabbits... There is a trampoline and a pool; these seem simultaneously seldom and oft used considering the fluctuation of both the farm's weather and population. All of these things surround the original house, but if you follow the road down the property a little way you can see more.

One of the inhabitants of the farm stays in a tipi which you will see by the forest. It is beautiful and its owner will let you look inside if you ask, which you really should. Nearby is one of the trailers where workers can stay and if you walk past that, into the trees, you will find another trailer and a couple of tents. The people who sleep in the woods do so by choice; they say the sound of the leaves and the breeze in the morning is rewarding and sleeping on Nature's floor allows a more peaceful slumber. But back on the road; there is an old barn that has been converted into a grand looking house and beside that, one last trailer. I sleep here, in the front room, with the windows open and a curtain for a door. My room was once a kitchen so I have many cupboards and a sink that doesn't work. I have only one roommate right now, in the room next to our bathroom. She is quiet and kind and I enjoy her company. Behind this trailer are two small wooden houses, single rooms in themselves, and these are the last dwellings on the property. Many people bike out to their bedrooms and back to the house to save time but I walk. Especially in the morning, I think it is something to be savoured. Dotted near the road are several other growing patches, and behind the converted barn are four or five greenhouses, in addition to many fruit trees. The sun in the sky during many mornings is already bright and hot by 6am, when I am walking. I watch the dew on the grass, knowing it will gone by only a couple of hours into work time, as will any memory I have of it being cool.

I did not want to like where I am at first. I don't know why that was. I have been shown kindness by the farm though; the field gives me satisfaction, the people give me many different kinds of gifts. The kitchen is always full of food and friends, the day is full of purpose. There is a woman here with her daughter who is very wise and kind and took us to a nearby Conservation area one day after work. We swam in the lake and sat on the grass and I felt warm all the time. Yesterday, the first day of our weekend off, she took us and another worker on a day trip. We book shopped and wandered a market and discovered another lake. On Friday night my roommate and I experienced our first art crawl together in the local town and got our fill of store-bought treats for the first time in a week. And now it is Sunday morning and already I have been taught how to make bread, good bread, by my hostess and the very same wise mother who has given me so much already.

I can't describe everything I wish to and that frustrates me more than I can say sometimes. But here I am, trying to show you with words what I have difficulty seeing with my eyes. My life here, right now, is good. Even I can feel that. I hope one day I can be more articulate about everything I experience. Clarity is what I desire, in life as well as my description of it.

That's not so unusual, is it?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Farming in flip-flops.

Once again I write from a new farm about the previous one. I know; I suck.

It's funny how your impressions of people change when you live and work with them even for a short period of time. People appear so different when you first appraise them; by the time I left the last farm I had a totally different opinion of everyone from when I met them. Still positive, but more realistic and complete. I had been watching chick flicks with a successful 35-year-old astrophysicist and getting liquored up with my hostess and trailer-mates so whatever respect was had on both sides was totally gone. There are things I never could have thought of before that happened on that farm. Laying fence posts (badly...), whining (as in the dance, not that other thing), being tricked into eating pork (my hostess was mistaken about the nature of the dish, I guess), watching fireworks for Canada day at a small town park, being shocked repeatedly by an electric fence while scrubbing out a pig trough, trying Tim Hortons coffee and donuts etc. We had a laugh, it was crazy how quickly the barriers came down and all of us let go of pretense. Unfortunately we left getting trashed together until my last night so the next morning I hugged my hostess goodbye while she was in a significant amount of pain and I had to attempt, while travelling for a few hours, not to fall asleep or throw up on public transport (mission accomplished, in case you were wondering).

It's strange how your life works when you're WWOOFing; I didn't comprehend before that it's almost like being in the Big Brother house. Your whole world becomes the people you're staying and working with and you quickly forget that there's an outside world. Trips into town or elsewhere feel sort of alien in comparison to the easygoing and simple nature of what you're doing the rest of the time. An entire week goes by and all you've done is chat to people, worked on the farm a little, gone swimming, read a book, walked some and eaten a lot. But in that week you learn so much about people in general, about the intensive way you can get to know someone when you're around them so much after never knowing them before. I never could have imagined half the things I learned and that can only be a good thing, I think. We did some really fun stuff. There was an impromptu falafel night where we stood around and cooked and ate for hours in the kitchen. Mr. Astrophysicist had also WWOOFed in Africa and actually had coffee beans from the region in Ethiopia where coffee originates; we roasted them and tried it and it truly was good. I did more than my fair share of baking; it was just so nice to have a kitchen and there is an inherently satisfying feeling that occurs when you serve dessert and then tell people the delicacy they're eating is called "Chocolate Mug Pudding". We made trips into town and chatted the day away when we should have been weeding or digging or building fences (but talk is just so much more productive). I stopped doing my hardcore farm outfit act and relaxed (as everyone else was) to the point where I would wear leggings and flip-flops to feed the chickens. My hostess was so laidback she'd drive the tractor in Capri pants and flip-flops and go out to run errands and come back with Tim Hortons for us to have when we hadn't even made a dent in our WWOOFer hours yet. I was somewhat over-indulged at that farm, I think, which became evident yesterday morning after our bonfire night antics.

Now I'm somewhere new that was described to me by a few people as heaven, and though it is definitely a beautiful sight to behold I will have to reserve my judgement until I have been here at least 24 hours. It was a rocky start; in addition to being hungover I called the farm from the train station when I arrived and could not get an answer and thus waited an hour and a half and made good friends with a friendly, helpful taxi driver that I must owe a batch of cookies or something for how patient he was with me while I explained my predicament. Eventually though, my ride arrived and brought me here and everyone's been really lovely so far. I feel guilty for not remembering anyone's names but I'll get there, as always, and for now I'm just going to try to continue to recover, I think. I'm toying with the idea of where to go next, I was thinking Quebec somewhere but I dunno. My French is somewhat rusty (can things get rusty when they don't exist?) so that could prove interesting but I'll try. We'll see how I go here for now.

Au revoir (ha!)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I feel you in my heart and I don't even know you.

So, the emotional manipulator that I am, I have been witholding information about my whereabouts, my mental state and my doings. But no longer. What would you like to know, I wonder? I'll just guess.

I got the bus to Peterborough on the 3rd of June. I think that was when Luke and Lorelai were supposed to get married but I'm not sure. I was picked up at the bus station by my very first ever WWOOFing hostess and her baby son and driven to our farm, the place I was to spend the next two weeks and eventually come to view as a sort of home. It's crazy how bonded you can get to people and places in such a short amount of time, especially when you've been moving from location to location every three days for a few months and suddenly have some semblance of stability. When I first saw the farm I thought the matrix was playing a trick on me or something because it was drop dead gorgeous. The view from the hill of the lake, the picture-perfect vegie patches, the old farmhouse ... impossible. I didn't get used to the beauty either, the entire time I was there, despite the time spent dozing in hammocks or going for walks by the lake or just sitting on the porch in the early morning or the early evening. I met my host and the four French WWOOFers that shared part of my stay there and that first day at lunch I knew I'd walked into something special. I had a room upstairs to myself with no curtains (at first, until my hostess stubbornly refused to let me go without them any longer and nailed some up herself) and a lot of happily solitary hours ahead of me. They were spent reading and thinking, mostly. A lot of writing ceased, as you can tell, probably because I was so busy living. There was a lot to live there. It was strange, sometimes I would crawl into this quiet space for a while, maybe fifteen minutes or a few hours, and be crazy happy or unbelievably sad. I'd be crying, alone, as I seem to do a lot of these days, or I'd be closing my eyes and just absorbing the beauty of my situation.

There always seems to be drama when quite a few people live in an isolated house (at one time there were eleven of us and the hot water had broken for four days...) but I think I felt truly peaceful a lot of the time I was there. Farm work is satisfying to me, at least so far, and I hope I continue to feel like this at the end of my days. I bonded a lot with the host family; baby especially was a joy of mine and I unwittingly monopolised him some of the time by accident. Mostly the unconventional routine of farming felt good, I enjoyed the ups and downs of weather and mood and work and exhaustion. I also got along really well with one of the interns who was an inspiration and also a true friend to me for no reason other than she seemed to know I needed one. The whole atmosphere just reassured me that I have come across the world for the right reasons.

I gush on and on about this place and my point is only that sometimes paradise is what you make it, and in many ways that's what that farm was to me. It was sad for me to leave, I didn't like the idea of goodbye, but I'd had my fair share of adventures there. Getting lost in the woods, walking into town and hitching back with an eighty-year-old driver who had lots of stories to rival those in the books I'd just picked up from the Library, discovering a kick arse lesbian cook-slash-masseuse who works at a cafe called the Planet who didn't mind when I accidentally broke the bike she built for her girlfriend, cooking lamingtons just to inject some Australiana into the household and doing some seriously hard yakka taking care of a one-year-old for hours at a time (and loving every second of it).

I arrived at the present farm on Thursday. It too is fantastic and the family I am with here are very down-to-earth, friendly Canadians. Already I've had more weird arse experiences here; one being supermarket shopping in North America (Bill Bryson is right about Junk Food Heaven), another being second-hand book shopping again and ending up with a grand total of 13 books I am now carting around for a forgotten reason, and being rushed by turkeys while on a tour of the farm (that was seriously like something out of the Birds).

My birthday is tomorrow, so we'll see what that brings.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Into the woods.

Just the other day, I decided to go for a walk after lunch. I´d never been into the woods behind the farm before, though they´d been winking at me for as long as I´d been there. Every time I looked up in the field they were there, waiting. So I had decided to meet them at last.

They´re over the hill and not very far away. If you follow the old tyre tracks they´ll take you across the wide expanse of grass and to the end of the trees in no time. So I did that, and with a simple duck under a branch I was in the forest. I´ve never been among that sort of beauty before. I would say ¨around¨ but I was smack bang in the middle of it, breathing it in. I spent so long making circles in the ground, looking at the sky and to the side and on the ground, that soon enough I was lost. I wasn´t worried though. I knew that if I could find my way to the light at the edge of the trees I would be fine. So I did. But I wasn´t.

The meadow I was in, though, and I can only describe it as that, was so perfect that I didn´t care if I was lost for good. And as I wandered through with grass as high as my outstretched hands slowing me down, begging me to stay, I thought it was so charming there that I might just acquiesce.The next meadow was not so loving. Soon enough I was falling into holes hidden in the mighty, long grass and then I was slipping into puddles of mud. More than once I fell on nothing at all. I clambered over fences, backtracked, walked in one direction and then another. No matter where I arrived, I was never home. I began to feel it too. Beautiful or not, none of these places were for me.

Finally I found my way back to the woods. Looking timidly into them, I asked myself whether their obvious ability to disorient me may also mean that they could orient me. It couldn´t be, could it? But I was exhausted and out of options. So in I went. Over, under, around, on top; I re-discovered every part of the forest I´d fallen in love with the first time around. This time I had a purpose though and soon enough I´d found a new edge of trees that was tinged with light. Out I walked into open space, frightened of what I´d see next. I was growing hopeless, believing I might never be home.

I could see a rusty red farmhouse, a tumbled-down barn and a translucent hump of a greenhouse not too far away, just past a hill. Underneath my feet were tyre tracks that lead away from me back to my starting point. I looked over my shoulder at the woods, amazed, and then I just laughed. Even if I asked, they were never going to reveal their secrets.

It doesn´t really matter what happened before or after in my life, does it? Moments like this are all that feel unreal.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I intend to.

I'm in Toronto. And miserable. But not because of Toronto, it's a gorgeous city and the people are super friendly- two people offered to give me directions at different times on the same street because I looked vaguely disoriented. Nicest people ever. I feel sick because the only vegetarian food on my flight was full of almonds so I ate it in an attempt to beat my allergy but it's currently bitch slapping me into subservience with some serious nausea and stomach pain. And due to changing time zones a few times today, I have no idea how long I've been awake but it'll be midnight here soon and it was 6am at the London hostel this morning when I woke up. I feel so awful that though I feel obliged to write this my head is all fuzzy and I dunno how much further I'll get with it.

Last day in London = big fun. Claudia showed me Soho and other trendy haunts after I spent the morning at Natural History and V & A. Both fantastic museums but I was more happy about the gorgeous gay couple we saw kissing and being all smitten and giggly in Soho. True London education, right there. So cute! And the whole place is comparable to an enhanced, seedier Fitzroy which is uber fun and funny. I spent my evening eating microwaveable chocolate pudding and packing my backpack. Good send off, methinks.

This morning was flight time. Gawd, even well-oiled machine style airports like Heathrow are completely unfun. And money traps. So much pound just poured into its greedy mouth! But my last meal in England (ha! It's as though I was dead.) was a fry-up at Heathrow so I feel rather fulfilled by that.

The plane ride to Iceland and then onto Toronto was, well, excruciating. It may seem like common sense to other people but Icelandair was a bad choice. Ugh. The only good thing was the in-flight movie that I had already seen on Christmas night last year with two of my favourite ever girls and thus had all this tofurkey-related nostalgic feeling for. Also, and this may be my Soho infatuation talking, I loved the Jude Law/Robert Downey Jr sexual tension. So pathetic but I really am looking forward to the sequel.

I focussed on that film and my shiny new Canada guide book until I finally got to Toronto, could eat something and can now go to sleep soon. I dunno when you'll next get a post; I spend one more day in Toronto (and may actually see some of it)and then I start WWOOFing so we'll see how I go from there.

I love you all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I think of you and see the sky
The sun at which I'll always fly
I look at you and see my skin
You're where I end and then begin

I hear your voice and move my tongue
When I breathe in I fill your lungs
And if you were to start anew
I'd wake one day and I'd be you

All there is and all I'll be
Is standing right in front of me
I cry tonight under the stars
The crescent moon is what we are.


I kissed the Blarney Stone. It's not a very attentive lover. Two seconds after it had me it was on to the next girl. But that's okay. I always knew I'd get my heart broken in Ireland.

On Tuesday the 18th I got the ferry to Ireland. That was literally my day; getting to and onto and from the ferry. Gawd, it was painful. And expensive. But worth it. So worth it. I arrived in Dublin in the evening and was so sick with a cold that I went to bed without walking around the city (except the walking one inevitably does when getting lost on the way to the hostel). It seemed like a nice enough place but I was dying.

In the morning I got up and wandered around the city a bit but wasn't really feeling it. I went back to the hostel for some pathetic reason but lo and behold I wasn't alone in le dorm room. A girl from Finland who'd been out until eight in the morning was just waking up at around midday and was sweet enough to invite me along on the tour she was going to do of Trinity College and the Book of Kells. It turned out she was back in Dublin visiting her boyfriend and friends after having au paired in Ireland for seven months a while ago. She hadn't done any of the touristy things while she was there though- hence the tour- and was more like a local. This was very much in my favour as after the tour- sexy, sexy tour guide. It was mostly the accent and the Irish wit, I think, but seriously. Swoonage occurred.- she decided we would get some food and go and sit in Phoenix Park and on the way back we would walk through Temple Bar. I had so much fun with that girl. Really, she was my angel.

After another early night (colds kill my normally exuberant and adventurous nature) I spent a little longer pottering around Dublin and then had lunch with my Cheesecake Friend from Bath and her boy plus their friend. They were loverly and we resolved to meet up in Galway, where I was bussing that afternoon. I must say, I'm a big fan of bus rides in the Irish countryside. It's a beautiful, beautiful place. That night in Galway I sat with some really friendly people in the common area at the hostel for a while and a few of us went out for a drink. Nighttime antics in Galway are a thing to behold. Mostly I think the Irish are swell, their pubs are hilarious and they are uber friendly, wonderful people.

My first day in Galway I bought a cheap ticket on a cheesy tour to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. Not much to say, really, except that the sights took my breath away and the sounds (mostly of the tour guide's voice) most definitely did not. People irritate me. It was worth it though, to see all of those stunning things. Both that night and the next I got a drink (or perhaps more...) with Cheesecake friend, her boyfriend and various other new and established friends. T'was nice, I don't do that a lot. Other people's friendliness aids me in mine, sometimes.

The second day was a beach day. I picked up some fresh food from the market and then went to enjoy the sun and I Capture the Castle by the sea for quite a few hours. It's stupid but whenever the sun comes out here it feels odd, like I've gone home.

On the third day, I left Galway early after a walk along the river. I ended up in Limerick by midday where I just walked for a long time. By nighttime I was in Cork in the loft room of a hostel talking to the least obnoxious Americans I'd met since I came to Ireland. Really, they were awesome. Which was such a nice change. The Americans love Ireland, though it seems like they don't know or understand it whatsoever. Case in point: "What happens if I kiss this thing? Does it give me good luck or something?" Guess what he was talking about. I'm being nasty and judgemental, I know. No excuse to follow, just telling you I'm aware of it.

Blarney was amazing though, which is the day trip I took after I arrived in Cork the night before. I stayed in the grounds for a very long time and they were absolutely magical. And the Castle, though people said it was a let down (mostly American people...) was great also. Kissing the stone was embarrassing but necessary.

I went to Kinsale on my last full day in Ireland and just sat and walked through a postcard all day. And got boots full of seawater but that's a story for another time.

There's little to say about Ireland because all there was was a really happy week. I can't describe that, not really, it's just this strangely romantic and wonderful place. I was sad to leave the next day after arriving to a literally glowing Dublin the night before but after hitting the Writers' Museum I sort of had to get on a ferry back to England. I was okay with it; Ireland is so pretty but I am really excited for what's coming up next.

I spent another two nights in Manchester and am now in London. Manchester and my hostesses were perfection and Camden Market yesterday was absolutely fantastic. I got to see Claudia again, whom I met in Edinburgh, and meet another one of her friends. We had so much fun looking at all sorts of needless items for hours. I've been staying with the daughter of my Norwich hostess, as well as her boyfriend, and they've given me some wonderful London experiences. Breakfast in a "caf" with grease lined ceilings and mismatched cutlery (fried slice is heaven, FYI) and dinner at an Indian restaurant plucked straight out of the early nineties. Today I move onto a hostel for the next two nights.

So, anyway. As you can see by my previous post, I'm writing again. It's more of a regression since everything comes out sounding like what I wrote when I was fifteen but basically that's a good sign because that was before life turned me into what I am now, or was. There are a lot of things I'm doing on this trip that I had stopped doing. I am reading books relatively quickly and actually finishing them which had ceased occurring for me for a while. And I'm trying things just because I can and I'm here which- I think mostly people know- would never have happened in Melbourne. In many ways I think I like myself better out here. So yay for that, I suppose.

It is the eve before the eve of my departure from the UK. And what have I done? Quite a few things I suppose. Fun and not-so-fun, big and not-so-big... I've learnt more than I knew it was possible to learn in two months (take that, University!) and probably changed more than I can say or comprehend considering it was only 65 days ago, or something, when I couldn't even pack my bag properly or adequately say goodbye to people. And now there is more learning to be done. Here is my decision about the rest of my time away: shortly after I arrive in Canada, I'ma begin WWOOFing and hopefully continue doing so for a couple of months, at least. We'll see how I like it, some of you have witnessed me on a farm before so it's possibly going to be a disaster. But hey, that's the same with most of my decisions these days. Not something worth getting upset over since it seems to be my life; disorganisation and questionable judgement. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 17, 2010

All right, what are we having?

That blog title is mostly for Ash. She should know why.

I had a cheesecake day on Saturday. There was a lot of cheesecake. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As sorry as I was to leave Brighton I was very fortunate in Bath. It took me hours and hours and several train changes to get there which is always fun with a backpack the size of me, walking up and down stairs to change platforms. And then, upon arriving at the hostel, I discovered that my room was the top floor of a- four storey?- old house. Oh, and bathrooms are in the basement. So that made for a fun three days. However, shortly after arriving I met some cool people who let me hang out with them in their room (across from mine) which led to a comfortable first night.

The next day I did my wandering thing since it had been too late the night before to get lost without it becoming a *gulp* "help?!" sort of lost which was nice because no matter which direction you walk in Bath it is stunning. The weather was gawd awful so I started with an indoor attraction- the Jane Austen Centre- and stayed there for hours in the Regency Tearooms with a slice of cake and an Anne Bronte novel that strangely was like a little security blanket for me for a few days there. It was my company when there was no company and acted as a sort of love substitute when I had no real contact from anyone from home for a while. I really liked the Jane Austen Centre, well worth the price of admission, and had to practically force myself to move on.

Next up I did the Baths; overrated in terms of exhibitions and audio guides but great when you just sit down, shut up and look around you. Ignore the signs and everything and just accept the history when you observe the place and suddenly it's worth it to be there. At least, that's what I thought. The Bath Abbey felt strangely cluttered so I didnt stay long; I was underwhelmed. Maybe I've done too many Cathedrals etc. lately? Am I all Cathedralled out? We'll see. Anyway, the rest of my afternoon/day was just more drifting and eventually internet cafeing it which lead to tears by the river. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I sent something to someone and I didn't know how it would be received. And here I am in this overpriced little hole of an internet cafe in Bath and I get this message that just made me start crying. I didn't even cry when I left Melbourne, when my mother was crying, when I was walking away. What was this emotional thing that took me over there? I dunno, but I got out of there quick smart, crossed the road and ended up sobbing on a bench somewhere along that picturesque little waterway. Great story, huh? I just figured I should talk about the first really, really sad moment I had, that properly hit me, and all I can offer in terms of explanation is that I was so upset because, in many ways, that message had been so happy. Gawd, I'm crazy.

So I medicated with food ("Cheater, cheater, compulsive eater!") at McDonalds of all places- judge me all you want, they do good ice-cream- and later on went for a drink with the people from the night before. A truly fun group. They're opinionated and strange, well, the three boys were. The girl was just nice which was a good contrast to all the outrageous in-jokes with the others. Three of them were from Melbourne, while the fourth was from Canada. Funny how everyone I meet out here excepting one or two people is either Canadian or Australian. It's like nobody else owns a backpack.

It was an odd night that ended late in the basement with poles and vodka and me being sleepy- as always. The next day I was feeling significantly worse for wear when I did the Jane Austen tour- sorry, people, but she's like crack to me- of Bath and met a girl who was actually staying at the same hostel. She's French-Canadian, super friendly and super smart and a seasoned traveller who gave me all kinds of advice. The tour was nice and it was a beautiful sunny morning in Bath that really showed off the city in all its splendour.

I met the two remaining boys from the hostel group for lunch (the other two had gone onto their own adventures; excepting the two guys I was lunching with who were already travelling together the quartet had met the night before they met me but were amazingly close by the time they split up to continue their individual journeys. It was great to see four people who got along so well who'd had around 72 hours to get to know each other.) and, post-amazing-cookie-dough-cheesecake-dessert, had a lot of fun with them that arvo walking around the city, sitting by the river again and listening to a young female singer-songwriter singing in a marquee at the Bath Coffee Festival that was held in the recreation grounds and blighted by worsening weather. I love the irrelevant details I forced you guys to read through there, this blog is so much fun.

I actually ended up having dinner with the girl I met on the tour; we met up in the hostel and agreed that since we were both leaving the next morning we should get a last look at the city. So we did, we walked around for hours, had dinner at a Thai restaraunt and sat on the grass in front of the Royal Crescent eating an entire baked cheesecake at 10:30 at night while discussing travelling and Jane Austen and each other's lives. I want to point out that this time the cheesecake was her idea and I'm not turning into one of those troublesome children who will only eat one thing like foods that are red or grissini.

She's actually going to Ireland around the same time I am- hopefully. My flight was cancelled so I'm going to try and get a ferry from Wales tomorrow and see where I end up. But anyway, she and I have resolved to meet up over there so that looks like it will be fun. Ash cloud permitting I will be in Canada eventually, as will she, so hopefully we'll see each other then as well.

So Bath was a success and the six hours it took me to get from there to Manchester (long story; longer train trip) gave me time to reflect on exactly how much fun one can have in the south of England in a week or two. So I'm bumming around Manchester for a day, flightless, and figuring out my next move.

If I'm honest, I'm really happy out here and I've been meeting some great people . I'm not at all sorry about any of it. But I feel forgotten by those at home and at times when I'm on my own for hours and hours there is a feeling of contentment in just being here but also of curiosity. Am I gone from their minds already? It's been six weeks and I feel like I've failed in some way to keep people's interest. Notes and messages sent are only sometimes answered, calls are received with shock almost akin to a feeling of nuisance. Could it be that only a couple of weeks ago I was planning to come home early? Home to what, I ask now. I'm being melodramatic, I know, but it's frustrating that from day to day, fresh city to fresh city, new friend to new friend, I think so much of them back there and it's not the other way around. And now I'll discover that I send this out into cyberspace and it just floats around there, doing nothing except confuse me all the more about what I'm doing, where I'm going, and who will be there for me when I arrive.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I wish you were her.

I'm a terrible blogger. Gawd awful. Have neglected you guys so much. I'm never going to catch up now, I know that. I take solace in the fact that my creepy little Eternal Sunshine-esque notebook is full of all my inner turmoil and peace and stuff so one day I- or someone else- will still have that as a means to remember my trip. For now I am just going to write a really short entry on each place because otherwise I will never get this finished.

Manchester, again, was delightful. I love the Northern Quarter and I adored the City Gallery. I did a lot of floating around aimlessly there, it was another example of me learning how to be on my own. Except for two of the three nights I was there, Hostess the Elder from my previous sojourn there took me out to dinner to these great places. I really like the restaurants in England, be they Indian or weird or Italian... maybe I'm just happy here, and with the people here, so I think I like them better when really I like me better. Self analysis comes free with any hot drink, folks.

I left Manchester for Lancaster where I picked up Signor Backpack (he lived at the Abominable Family's house while I went to Manchester) and said a long hello before being shuttled off to Caton that night. My hosts there were very lively, opinionated people and it was fun watching things like the Prime Ministerial Debate with them (P.S. I love the election stuff happening/ed here. Fascinating.) Hostess is this amazing self-made hero lady who brought up a son (now my age) and built a career while having absolutely no advantages or shortcuts. The son, by the way, is the nicest guy who let me sit and watch rubbish telly with him for hours which is, to be honest, part of the fun of being in Britain. Seriously, their media is hilarious. I am geniunely loving all of the soaps and ridiculous reality TV shows and the sorts of things that do and don't pass for news. Australian news is pretty much just another breed of this, I know, but I worship the differences.

Anyway, while I was in Caton (tiny village) I; got stung by a wasp, witnessed a scarecrow festival, was taken for a drink at an art deco hotel by the seaside (northern England in the Spring. Beach weather if I ever saw it), did a day trip to the Lake District (I don't think I can properly express how gorgeous that place is), walked around Wordsworth's home and gardens, saw the cutest little kittens and was fed quinoa (that last thing is just for us geeky vegos. Protein pride!). There's other stuff I'm failing to remember, I know, but you knew I was a bad person already.

From Caton I went to Oxford which, while picturesque in places, was disappointing. People on bikes and not much else to distinguish it. I suppose it has a sense of history to it which is nice because I hadn't really seen that anywhere at all in England yet. In all seriousness, though, totally made me wonder what Jenny in An Education was going on about. I'd rather go to University somewhere interesting, though I suppose the college culture might be slightly more engaging. I did meet a 28-year-old Aussie girl in the hostel who said meeting me was like meeting herself ten years ago. She could tell I wasn't really feeling it, at least not in Oxford, and advised me that she made all the same choices and mistakes that I did when she was my age. She told me to make decisions based on what I'm feeling, not on what people tell me or on what I think I should be doing or feeling. It was probably the single biggest influence on my decision, for now, to travel for the full time I had originally planned rather than changing my flight.

I was still thinking about it though, by the time I got back to Peterborough to see Deb. On the way I'd finally gotten that picture of Platform 9 and 3/4 in London that I forgot to get six weeks ago. It was great to see Deb and bum around a bit. On the only full day I was there I just wandered around Peterborough, which I hadn't done yet, and discovered the amazing Cathedral there. I also got a really different perception of the South; previously I had seen it as the place with the money (while North has the culture) but that certainly cannot be said of Peterborough. It seems like a complicated place. I did meet a lovely girl there though, surprisingly in Muffin Break (oh, what a magical place!) and we walked around together and chatted for hours. Unexpected but nice. I also met a lovely man who asked me if I was lost and whether I had a boyfriend and tried to walk with me for a while. That was, unfortunately, not so unexpected and not so nice.

I bid adieu to Deb the next morning, who once again had been very kind to me, and moved on to Norwich where someone else was waiting to be kind to me. I swear, this trip was made on the fact that people have been amazingly generous to me when they'd never even met or heard of me before. I'll never be able to show these people how much they've helped me and how much I've learnt from them about hospitality and goodness. The lady I stayed with Norwich had even written "Welcome Hannah!" on their blackboard, like I was an honoured guest and not a scruffy backpacker.

Norwich is a great little city. I mean that. It made a lot of sense when I found out Stephen Fry was from there because it is this quirky but old-fashioned place with a great sense of self-deprecation and warmth. Sound familiar? Among the awesome stuff that happened there; I went on a Dungeon tour, visited an amazing vegie cafe, had my hair cut by children in an interactive art installation thingamagig, saw an interesting Amanda Palmer-esque cabaret act, had a boat tour of the nearby Broads and cooked on an Aga (so much fun!). The city, the people and the home were all so comfy, like somewhere you could settle for a long time without wanting to leave or move. I met some honorary Aussies too, these two Neighbours-loving British twins who knew all this stuff about Melbourne and Australia and made me strangely homesick. Odd that.

So I left Norwich and came to Brighton. I love Brighton. I can't... I just... I love Brighton. I did what I always do my first night anywhere and got lost in the new place which meant that after a day of seeing the Pavilion, white cliffs, Marina, shopping scene, North Laines and Lanes with a friendly girl from Switzerland (who also adores Sugar Rush and looks at Brighton in that context), I could take her to a tumbly-down shack in the back of the Lanes that's actually a cosy North African restaurant that I discovered the day before.

Today's my last day in Brighton and I'll miss the sea but I'm excited to move onto Bath. Someone asked me the other day what the most exciting thing that happened so far is and I had a list. A list! It's a bit of a shock to me, since I see myself as so boring and had been categorising this trip as such. But writing it all down, I know it's a great achievement for me. After Bath, I go back to Manchester for a night and then it's onto Ireland. I can't wait to tell you all about it, I mean it. Since I've sort of figured out that there is something to tell, this is big and I am enjoying it.

Before I go, here is a list of things I love about England:

- tea. People here love tea more than I do and they do it better than Australia, by far.
- EastEnders, Hollyoaks... new addictions, people.
- the mix of old and new in everything. The winning scarecrow at this ancient festival I went to was X Factor-themed.
- it's a tiny country but everywhere I go is different. The Broads and the Lake District are like night and day and I love that.\
- there is always marmalade at breakfast even though nobody eats it.
- Brighton exists here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Catch my disease.

From Scotland I came to Lancaster, a small town in the north-west of England. See, it doesn't feel that small to me except everyone here knows each other. I was sitting in the town square during the Saturday market eating curry (heaven, FYI) and two sets of people sat down either side of me and started chatting all of a sudden. I figured they were just friendly, like how in Inverness everyone said hello to me all the time, but no; if you sit down in the town square in Lancaster on a Saturday you will see someone you know sitting next to the strange girl with the Harry Potter glasses. Crazy.

So I arrived here from Edinburgh last Wednesday and stayed with the most outrageous family. Nine-year-old daughter is Harry Potter, book and Hitchcock obsessed and completely Hermione-esque (Ugh, British kids. So uncultured.) and seven-year-old son couldn't stop talking about Avatar (though he'd never seen it)and had an allergy to keeping still that caused him to street dance and randomly hug his mother. So if these children weren't horrible enough, their parents were just dreadful. Always asking me if they could get me a cup of tea, joking around, giving me maps of the town and suggestions for places to go. It was driving me mad. Anyway, I had to get out of that obviously toxic environment and I'd already arranged to stay with someone else for a couple of nights so wasn't that a relief.

While staying with the aforementioned family I went to see the castle and the museums and the local vegetarian cafe (come on, I couldn't not), whereas my new host is a young person into music and late nights (how risque!). Unfortunately I wasn't much in a way to experience either as I have caught, from poor baby in Edinburgh, her cold. I should be grateful as I experienced her two illnesses separately and she had them at the same time but waaa! I don't like being sick! But before my throat completely gave out I was taken out for dinner on Friday night which was loverly, a charming old-fashioned restaurant looking onto the canal- I'm not even teasing, that's what it was- and, frankly, peer pressured into trying several desserts. What can I say? My night sucked.

Saturday is market day basically anywhere in England which makes me way too happy. I spent quite a while wandering the now stall-covered inner streets of Lancaster and actually buying fresh fruit and vegetables for a change (novelty!). Oh, and stopped to smell the Indian food which you just have to do if you're able. It's amazing. So that strenuous activity left me basically exhausted so I spent the rest of the day reading and pottering around before eating dinner early and going to bed in the same fashion. I was sincerely disappointed to miss my host's gig though as he is touted as an amazing musician and I really wanted to see him play. Throats will be throats though.

Yesterday was productive. I made pancakes in the morning while everyone else was still sleeping (because they are so much more rock and/or roll than me) which were gratefully received in the afternoon when people woke up or came back from their gig the night before in London (which is three hours away). The uncoolness of me in comparison to these people is unfathomable. It cannot be fathomed. My debt to my host done, I then accepted the invitation to see a place called Hawes (the pronunciation is apparently hilarious and, truthfully, it did keep my host amused all afternoon). It was a gorgeous little town and we took lunch/afternoon tea in this adorable cafe that was like something out of a 1940s movie. Or just a movie starring Keira Knightley that's based in the 1940s. Either or.

I then went to see some other people whose contact details I was given by Denise, this time it was her son and his partner, and they took me to this great blues night that's apparently been running for years. It's all these people that sit around and just shout out songs or tell each other what to play and then they just do (play, that is). It's amazing and though I know less than nothing about the blues (I mean, I was smiling the whole time I was there) I had a really good time and was very impressed.

Today I'ma drop off my backpack for safekeeping with that abominable family I first stayed with, have lunch with another of Denise's friends (she has too many, I think) and get a train to Manchester to see if I can have as good a time the second time round as I did the first time. Wish me luck, I suppose, and also clear sinuses.


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