It's not a perfect metaphor.

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.


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