5 pluses at the end of your travels

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Gutting, isn't it? The days you whiled away in blissful content, you spent years planning and months saving for - and in the blink of an eye it's over like a flash. The saying 'don't count the days but make the days count' rings ever true but you know, just because it's done with doesn't mean all is doom and gloom. Oh no, there are positives to be taken out of the end of your travels - and I've got just a few for you.

+1. Treating yourself to a bit of a pamper. Those thoughts of deluxe bubble baths or hot showers you've spent many a sweaty day drooling over? Guess what - you can finally put it into action. Face masks, deep conditioner, hair straighteners; they're finally in your possession again and don't take them for granted. If we go one step further (and if you're a silly goose like me) then it's getting your birds nest hair all loved up again with that darn hairbrush that you forgot to pack. Yep, that happened. I'm not proud.

+2. You can finally sit back and reflect. Undoubtedly 21 Mayyou've been living life at 120mph for the given time, barely even pausing to flick through photographs. Now's the chance to do so, to finally sit and breathe it all in. Drain everything out from your brain - write down scattered thoughts, arrange and print off photographs, turn all the random leaflets you've collected into a scrapbook. Do it while it's still fresh.

+3. You'll have new friends for life, from all over the world. So you may not be out there trekking around and seeing what you've seen anymore & it's crushing. But all those poor souls you met along the way are probably in exactly the same boat as you right now. Sympathise with each other; if there's anybody who knows how you feel, it's the girl you bunked with in that hostel or the dude who's shoulder you spent a week sleeping on during a road trip, or the person who bawled on the last day because they really didn't want to go home. Drop one a text or catch up over Skype. You're allowed to be friends longer than just holiday. In fact, it's the law.

+4. It gives you a bit of zest. Post post-holiday blues, of course. But once that's all shot of, there's nothing like coming back from abroad with a spring in your step. Sometimes even the mere thought of being ready for whatever lies ahead is enough to shake off the trauma of your travel life being over (for now). If work or family life or relationshippin' has been tough pre-trip, it's all going to be a lot easier to handle afterwards with your shiny new views on everything.

+5. There's always another adventure to plan. Don't let that one time be the end, already be setting your sights on a new horizon. Throwing your backpack to the depths of the wardrobe is not an option here, no sirree. Just admit you've got the bug and run with it. After all, you only live once.

What would you turn into a positive at the end of your travels?

Twice upon a time in Copenhagen

Thursday, 20 March 2014

There are perils of being a blogger that nobody may quite understand unless they are one. There is the fear of missing out, the fear that you've started too early for anything you write to be remotely interesting, or the fear of beginning way too late to encompass anything that you have done before. So what happens when you change the name of your blog (check) and decide to reroute and 'become' a travel blogger, when you've already done a substantial amount of city-hopping and plane-shopping in your time? You start a photo-heavy Throwback Thursday feature of course! So in a bid to document my trips of the past, I thought I'd blast things off with one of my favourites - which I actually did for a second time a couple of years later and briefly mentioned here and I will finally document(!) - but as with most things, nothing can leave an impression like the first time.

Destination: Copenhagen, Denmark
When: 29th/30th March 2010

When: 9-11th November 2012

Quickfire Round!

The Lowdown. Change your British pennies into Danish Krone (which is roughly £1 to 0.1Kr) and set your watches to UTC+1. Hej is 'hello' and Tak is 'thank you' although honestly, you'll be hard-pushed to find a Dane that doesn't have English more perfect than your own.

Get around by... S-Train, the city's public transport system. It operates on a zone system, similar to the London Underground, and if you buy a Copenhagen Card not only does it cover all your travel for a specified amount of time, it also grants you free admission to an abundance of landmarks, sights and museums. The Copenhagen Card costs around 230Kr for 24 hours (around £25).

Must see? Christiania, the freetown inside Copenhagen; breathtaking the Botanical Gardens; the Church Of Our Saviour with it's amazing spiral staircase spire; the beautiful royal palace Amalienborg - go at midday to see the changing of the guard!

Must do? Any canal cruise going - it's more than worth it for a chance to see Copenhagen from a different angle; take in the epic view from the Rundetårn; take a stroll down Strøget, the longest shopping street in the world; visit Tivoli, one of the oldest still functioning amusement parks in the world, and ride the Star Flyer for it's amazing views of the city.

For that classic Copenhagen photo, visit... Nyhavn! This is where you see all those pretty canal-side photos of colourful buildings set against the blue sky. Or, of course, The Little Mermaid statue in Østerbro.

If you have time... take a train across the Øresund Bridge to Malmo, Sweden. It's only a 25-minute journey on very frequent trains - all night long included - and is a nice take on a daytrip-from-a-daytrip.

Have you ever been to Copenhagen?
What was a must see/do for you?

#Blog4Trek: Weekend Packing

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Let's not beat around the bush. I'm a competitive girl and I love a challenge. So when I heard that Trek America - who are my absolute favourites - were launching a competition to find their Next Top Blogger, and that round one asks us the entrants just what we might pack for a weekend away, a little lightbulb sparked up over my head. You see, as somewhat of a budget airline enthusiast I've become a bit of an expert at packing as light as possible. Hand luggage all the way, baby! It's all about space-saving by multitasking items: here's how I fit everything I need for a weekend city break into a little backpack.

// Smartphone.
I think a lot of people would cite a tablet or an iPad as more useful but for ultimate space-saving, you can't go wrong with a Smartphone. You could access your Kindle library, download TripAdvisor guides, create a few playlists and ditch your mp3 player, use it as a camera, even upload photos and news of your trip as you go, free Wifi permitting. The possibilities are endless and can save you so much space - and backache! Don't forget your charger, though.

// A map.
Absolutely something that a smartphone cannot do properly and I'll tell you why. A map can buy you new local friends: give them a pen and everybody will want to show you where their favourite places are. I love the feeling of a new map with crisp lines that slowly gets scruffy, gaining pen marks, circles around landmarks and rough notes of places you have been to in the process. Much less bulkier and more personable than a guidebook. This cannot be replicated in any other formula and makes a wonderful travel memento.

// A big scarf & comfortable shoes.
Comfortable shoes do what they say on the tin, so pick a pair of worn-in sneakers that will go from day to evening with ease. A huge scarf will multitask in so many ways; it can be used as a cover-up, a blanket, a make-do pillow and, you know, an actual scarf. Spritz it with perfume to keep it - and you - smelling beautiful all weekend. What else could you possibly need? Oh, clean undies at least! Silly me.

// Simple toiletries.
You definitely don't want to lug around your whole bathroom cabinet so keep it short and sweet. You're only away for a weekend, so you can easily survive without all your hair products: just take a miniature Batiste Dry Shampoo and a mini hairbrush. Facewipes double up as make-up removers and morning cleansers; just bring a miniature of a moisturiser, like Simple, to keep your skin glowing. Deodorants in solid form don't have to be squeezed into those constricting plastic bags for liquids in your hand luggage; the ones by Sure are really good. This leaves more room for a few essential make-up bits - but don't go overboard. Mascara, concealer and a tinted lip balm should be enough to see you through. Besides, who wants to waste time worrying about make-up hair when there are such beautiful things to see!

What would you pack for a weekend away?
Competitive girl just like me? Check out Trek America's fab competition here! Good luck!

Marching onwards

Saturday, 1 March 2014

The first of March. A significant sigh of relief. The worst of winter is over, the days are beginning to get longer and there have been enough paydays since Christmas to believe that you are finally able to treat yourself once more. For these reasons and many more, I always feel like March is when things begin to pick up once more. And I like the symbolic meaning behind the first of a month; it's a true fresh start. Usually. Today was a different story altogether, an absolutely poxy excuse for a day. We had a mega busy day at work whilst mega understaffed, West Ham lost against Everton and to top it all off my hair had taken on quail-like tendancies and was therefore shoddy.

However, I'm not going to let that dampen my first-of-the-damn-month spirits. There's a lot to be looking forward to in March and indeed the more I sit here thinking about it whilst swirling my rosé spritzer, the more I find to smile about. Here's a snippet of what I'm going to be getting up to this month...

I'm going to Prague. Groupon, eat your heart out - Lidia and me have got you sussed! We have both wanted to hit Prague together for as long as we can remember and noticed a trend that whenever we were drinking together and checking out Groupon Getaways, a hot deal for Prague would always come up. We always said we would book it, we would book it, yadda yadda... then (of course) the one day we really wanted to just goddamn book it, there wasn't a goddamn deal! Hrrrgh! So literally, the very next time we browsed - armed with cider - we paid up on the spot and now we are off to Prague at the end of the month. We cannot wait!

I'm taking my Mum to see The Full Monty. At the theatre! It's one of our favourite films. I don't think people actually get how good this film is - perhaps the thought of 'eww male strippers' is offputting but this is no Magic Mike and that is just the charm of it. Think working-class Yorkshire lads, trying to make a pretty penny and getting into a whole heap of mischief along the way. It's both heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time and comes with great feelgood factor, especially from the iconic final scene. This time, we will be the audience! This is my Mum's birthday present and I really hope she enjoys it.

I plan to blog a lot and run a lot. She says. I'm awful at making big promises and resolutions to myself and never seeing them through. I need to work on my staying power! Perhaps I need to start small. I definitely need to ease myself back into running; I just signed up for a half marathon towards the end of the year to give me something to work towards. I don't want to go all out in March but I definitely want to try and get through two runs a week in the next four weeks. It's nothing special but I'm not setting myself any other conditions. As long as I get out for two runs every week, even if it's just two miles, then it's better for nothing. As for blogging... I feel like I've got into a bit of a routine recently and am really really enjoying what I am managing to put out. I have plans. Not really big plans but plans none the less.

I'm treating myself to a new camera. I've been researching for a few months now, weighing up pros and cons and lots of different options. I mainly want something multi-functional, easily transportable, durable and perfect for travel, plus HD video recording. I've read a lot about it and have settled for this. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ35 seems like a really smart point-and-shoot with lots of functions and everything that I want in a little camera. It will make a great alternative to my SLR and as much as I love having my SLR on me while travelling, it isn't always practical. This will be much more so and I cannot wait to test it out in Prague!

I'm also going to see Swan Lake at the ballet and going to see Example amongst spending quality time with friends and people that matter. March is going to be hella positive and I can't wait to get it underway. Let me just have one more glass of sympathetic rosé and I'm ready to rock.

What have you got planned for March?

Ode to simple pleasures

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Beyond all the births and marriages, the engagements and celebrations, the perfect holiday and the nabbing of that dream job, we tend to forget that some of the best things in life are Just Because. All the little acts that you never really consider important until you stop and really think. It's these minute things that bring the most pleasure to our lives without even realising - so it's time to celebrate the simple pleasures in life! Here are a few of mine:

++ When all your public transport connections synchronise perfectly.
++ The tingly feeling of an actual sneeze.
++ Eating buttercream icing from the bowl.
++ Gloves and a hot drink on a bitterly cold day.
++ When somebody asks you where you got that thing that you are wearing.
++ A hot and steamy muscle-relaxy bath after months of boring showers.
++ Setting all your alarm clocks to OFF.
++ Breakfast, coffee and lazy Sunday morning catch-up TV in bed. With blankets.
++ Organising all your Spotify playlists meticulously. If you're a sadcase like me, anyway.
++ Additionally, the perfect song at the perfect moment. Unexpectedly.
++ The sound of rain whilst you're inside. Extra satsifying if you're in a tent.
++ Eye contact with somebody you're into - and the butterflies that follow.
++ Fresh bed linen. 'nuff said.
++ When your football team surprisingly win. Especially if you support West Ham.
++ Laughing until you're crying - and crying until you're laughing.

What are some of your simple pleasures?

Little red Converse

Friday, 14 February 2014

Let's get this straight: it's Valentine's Day and I'm a single lady. I'm also a lady attempting to get over a nasty round of common cold (er, I definitely lost the fight), a bit sulky over the ridiculous weather that continues to catapult the UK, a smidgen frazzled with overwork, a shade of pissy because I pledged to blog lots and yet being stupidly ill only gave me enough energy to maybe sneeze sometimes, and general huff and puff because - yes, to bring it back to square one - I'm a single lady and it's Valentine's Day. However amidst all that pent-up grr, I received a sign if there ever was one: I just glanced over on my right hand side and clocked my little red Converse all in a heart-shaped heap and in a weird materialistic/animalistic sense, my writer's block (or shall we say writer's flu?) immediately ceased to be. Let's get this straight...

You see, the weird thing is, I've had this here pair of trainers for 10 years. That's right, a pair of canvas Converse have lasted an entire decade and while I don't exactly recall the ins and outs, I guess over time they have grown to be quite symbolic. Ten years ago as a teenager, I was easily a very different person to what I stand as today. Ten years of ups and downs, glitter and trauma, all witnessed by an inarticulate pair of shoes. I probably bought them (or more likely, my Mum bought them) not thinking that they'd last a year let alone nine more, but indeed they have had a jam-packed life. They have moved with me through many houses and flatshares and watched relationships make and break. They've been to parties and many a gig and probably deserve to be washed more with all the beer spills they've had on them. They've been worn in the rain and snow and danced on dirty dry festival grounds in the blazing sunshine. They've been on countless holidays; they could easily have their own passport. Last year they even made it to Canada and dipped their toes (ha!) into the Pacific Ocean.

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say, I guess these trainers paint a picture of my life - all the experiences I've had and all the things I've been through. For just like me, they've seen beaches and sunny days and they've rolled in the dirt. They are grubby and scuffed and have holes in them and the laces are worn and the print has all but rubbed off and the insoles are completely obliterated. Nevertheless, they are still standing. They have survived and so have I. And for that reason, I would never ever get rid of them.

I could use some new insoles though. Love thy Converse. Happy Valentine's Day ♥

Caffeine bomb

Friday, 31 January 2014

Do you ever think about how much caffeine you drink? I dare you to add up what you consume in a day and I guarantee you, you will struggle to comprehend exactly what you are guzzling in the form of teas, coffees and carbonated drinks. So let me tell you a little story; the story of the time that I accidentally tried to give up coffee. A story that remains so vivid not just because it only happened to me this week but also because the impression it left is one that has intrigued me ever since. After all, we all know that caffeine is the most widely consumed drug out there, but do we really feel that we are ever addicted to it?

My advice is to never underestimate exactly how caffeine affects you after years of consumption. Just imagine all the years of build up of tolerance: all the cups of tea your mum made you in your youth to go hand in hand with your morning breakfast. All the coffee dates you have had with girl (or boy) friends at the weekend, sinking one large latte after the other. All the 10am brews you've had at work to ready you for that huge workload. Daily, weekly, monthly; all that routine. The habits you cannot break. And beyond all the social reasons and the feeling that you cannot start the day without it, remember that we are still living in a land of double recession and £2.40 for a cappuccino is a small price to pay for something that just makes us feel a little bit better.

And that's before I even think about being different to most people; as in, I actually work in the coffee business! Most days I drink coffee for free as part of my living, how about that. It's my duty of good customer service to taste test the coffee I serve every morning to ensure that it's of good quality and standardised to my brand. As part of my job, I must drink that coffee or else I am doing a great disservice.

So why did I try to give up caffeine? Well I did mention before that it was accidentally. My poison of choice every morning is a regular americano with cold skimmed milk and a shot of sugar-free vanilla syrup (trust me, when you work for a coffee shop, you end up with drinks like that) - except on Tuesday morning, I just didn't fancy it. All because a friend of mine happened to mention to me the immortal words 'hot chocolate'... and from that moment on, it was all I could taste on the tip of my tongue. I got to work, I made my hot chocolate, I was satisfied. It was only when I got to 10am did I realise, 'Wow, I haven't had a coffee yet this morning and I feel fine!' I then decided that I would make it to the end of the day without an ounce of caffeine passing my lips.

It was all an illusion. By midday I had a headache, I felt sluggish, I couldn't remember basic orders and I just wanted to climb into bed. By the time I got home at 3:30pm my headache was borderline migraine, I had the sweats and shakes and felt horrifically nauseous. I started to read up on how caffeine detoxing affects your body and pretty much fell asleep on my phone. I thought a little nap might help it. Little? I ended up 'sleeping' for 15 hours. Apart from the fact that I woke up every 3 hours in a panic from a twisted nightmare but with no energy to actually get up and do anything.

So when it rolled around to 8am the next morning - after I'd shaken off the fact that I'd missed a cancelled bowling night out, then a round of drinks at the pub, plus lunch AND dinner - with an awful fogginess that I could only relate to both too much sleep and a lack of my body's favourite drug, I decided I couldn't do it anymore. I know, I may be weak but I completely underestimated what the world says about coming down from caffeine. The first day is the hardest, and the second and the third are not that much better. But it has come from many personal accounts that by the time you get to the forth or fifth day completely caffeine free, that you come back with more natural energy than ever. I believe it was the thought of that, that made me so persistent in getting to the end of the first day. I commended myself for enduring a day of excruciating head pain - and then I had a coffee.

All of that for nothing? I don't believe so - for it has taught me a lot about my body that I guess I was too blind to realise. Ten years of heavily drinking coffee and tea and living off of Diet Coke and yes, I have racked up somewhat of a caffeine addiction. In my mind I don't believe I need it to get through the day but my nervous system believes otherwise. And yes, admittedly it is scary to discover the hard way that you are addicted to something without ever realising. But I truly love coffee, for all the reasons that I have made clear above - those cups of tea from my Mum when I walk through her front door; the meet-ups with friends that are perfect for nowhere else but coffee shops; and the joy I get from my job coupled with the involvement I have in giving people their £2.40 cup feel-good.

I believe that I've already done the best thing that I possibly could, in realising exactly what I put into my body. It has encouraged me not to give up something that I love, but instead manage it and cut down. Since Wednesday I have only been drinking caffeine in the form of one coffee in the per day, preferably before 3pm. Apart from that I stick to decaf options, or herbal teas. I also haven't touched Coke since (and to be honest since ever reading this I've been needing even more of an excuse to give it up). I can honestly say that I feel better already. I'm beginning to find a better sleeping pattern and actually feeling tired in the evening, something that I never really have done previously. Also my skin looks a little bit better even after less than a week and I'm sure other bodily changes are to follow. Will this be forever? I'd like to think it is a permanent lifestyle change but let's be realistic, possibly not. Circumstances always change and as humans sometimes we are not strong enough to give into temptation - or that second flat white. However, I know one thing for certain: that I will always remember this lesson that I inadvertently taught myself, and that maybe I can pass forward the horrible lesson I learned to others. All from a little accident!

P.S. one americano, two single espressos, an iced coffee, a can of coke & two or three cups of tea. Th-th-that's all folks.


Friday, 3 January 2014

It appears that I didn't bother stitching together any resolutions at the start of 2013, so I have nothing to make a comparison to. To be completely honest I actually feel exactly the same as I did one year ago: neither fatter nor thinner, not richer or poorer, and neither happier or sadder. Just the same, but with a lot of in-between-happenings padding out the full stops. Even so, over the past year I think that the harshest criticism that I've had for myself is thinking that I'm sitting back and just letting the world turn right before my eyes. Like, it's turning and I'm just sitting and having no impact whatsoever. It's taken me a lot to realise that this ridiculous thought is so far from the truth. It's a weird kind of bliss to think that actually this probably has a lot to say about how I feel about life now. I have been inspired and not in a fleeting moment never to be seen again, but for life. It's up to me to make 2014 magical and I am in full belief that it's going to happen.

These are my resolutions for 2014.

#1 - Cook a new recipe every month. This actually stretches well beyond the realm of the statement. I want it to be part of a complete overhaul of the way I look at food. Cook something, bake something, spend time making something that I really want to eat rather than settling for another Pot Noodle or packet of crisps just because it's quick and easy - something that I'm sure other fellow shift workers are only too guilty of! I need to start being kinder to my body with what I put into it so that it is kinder to me... and so that when I do go on that one-time beer and ice cream binge, it actually feels glorious rather than a sin.

#2 - Get back into blogging. Something that I've let slack over the past year (well, more like two) is keeping up with blogging and truth be told, I can pinpoint it directly to my complete desire having vanished. But in turn I can pinpoint that fact to feeling like I have to rather than wanting to. Truth be told, I realised that the moment I stopped feeling like I had to, I began to want to once more. So it's all about blogging about what I want, when I want. For a little while there's no need to stress about a brand, a voice, a routine - the magic is, is that it will find it's own journey by itself.

#3 - Ditto, running. However something that won't find it's own journey by just sitting-back-and-letting-it-happen (sadly) is my fitness! Which is something else I've let slide over the past year. It's very easy to blame an extremely active job and crazy shift patterns but a line has to be drawn somehow. If I can find half an hour to munch on way too many crisps, then you betcha I can find half an hour to have a jog or do some Pilates. This is an area I really have to begin to push myself in.

#4 - Read 30 books. Very, very ambitious. I never ever break any of the book targets that I set myself. However with the purchase of my Kindle last year, my book reading soared by about 2000%. I kid you not. So I think finally, the target is beatable. Plus I've still got The Great Gatsby to finish. It's about what year I finish the book in, right? Right.

#5 - Declutter my life. The thing about travelling last year is that it made me realise how much stuff I didn't need. I'm not the sort of girl that cries about being make-up free or being without her straighteners, but you never understand what it's like to live out of a backpack until you actually do it. And I'm talking about stuff like having 4 pairs of pants on rotation kind of packing. This isn't only applicable to the stuff inside my wardrobe, but to pretty much everything I own. Books I won't read again, CD's I don't play, artifacts that I believe are important but I actually never think about. I want to reduce everything I own by at least 50% and do you know what, I don't think that's crazy talk.

#6 - Stop biting my nails. And the skin around them. Yep, I'm yucky. But this year it has to be done.

#7 - Enjoy my own company. This is a bit of a cop out. I know perfectly well how to spend time alone - I'm a fiercely independent only child who always makes sure she has something to look forward to. But if I close my eyes I remember the times I used to take myself to museums or to the cinema to catch a flick or off on the train on a daytrip somewhere new, and somewhere along the line I've let that slide a little. For tea and Eastenders is not knowing how to utilize the time spent with yourself!

#8 - Start planning a big adventure. I have a dream of something I want to do before I'm 30. It's a little something that will be part of a much bigger journey. Time is ticking, so I had better get a move on.

#9 - Document my life in daily records. To my best girl, I'm so sorry I stole this one from you! And I feel a bit silly anyway as it's something that I try and do every year, you know, keep a diary, partake in a 365 challenge. But therein lies the catch: I try. I never succeed. Anyway this year I fully intend to see an Insta365 through to New Year's Eve and I've just started keeping my 'One Line A Day' diary, and I'm fully determined to cross this off my list.

#10 - Keep learning Polish. In 2013, I started to learn Polish. I didn't have to and by jove it made my head spin but I did anyway. At the end of the year, I no longer had a legit reason to keep learning Polish. It was a bit of a sore point for a bit but now all I can think is, why not? And why not indeed. It would be a waste of hours otherwise. I'm proud of what I've pushed myself to do so far, why not keep enriching it?

#11 - Spend more time with my parents. I'm getting to that stage in my life where I'm beginning to realise more about age and how much it scares me; not only because of how old I am, but also because of the age of my parents. While they are by no means old in the slightest, they aren't young either (my Dad turns the big 6-0 this year!) and I believe recently, more than ever, I know that forever is just a concept. I would hate to think that I had never spent enough time with my parents, at any stage in my life, so this year it's about keeping more up to date with my family and letting them know exactly how much I love them.

#12 - Be the best version of myself that I can possibly be. As long as my head can hit the pillow every night with the knowledge that on that day I smiled, I helped others, I made somebody's day better, I worked the hardest I could, I was good to myself... then in my opinion, every day can be a success. No matter what life throws at me.

What resolutions do you have for 2014?

Blog as you mean to go on

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Today is the beginning of a brand new 365-page book. Write a good one.

These seem to be the hot words of the moment; pretty much every other post I've noticed on all social media networks have bared some variation or depiction of this quote. With good reason to, as it rings so insanely true. It is often felt that the first day of the first month of the year is the ultimate kick-start to wiping the slate clean and bombarding onwards with a fistful of resolutions and good intentions. I often like to think of January 1st as just that, but prefer a more positive approach with realistic goals. For some time, my method regarding all sorts of things is to simply take everything one day at a time. Blogging, for example, can appear so overwhelming when I think of how I'm going to shoehorn it in between working, commuting and catching zzz's (and yes, all the evenings spent drinking brewskis also). Is there any way I can train myself sleep-blog? However part of teaching myself to take everything each day as it comes, was to stop worrying so much. If I can blog, brilliant! And if I can't, so what? There's always tomorrow. After all, every day is the beginning of something awesome.

However, let's not discredit 2013 in the slightest. I, for one, can quite easily accept that 2013 was a rollercoaster year to say the very least! While I won't divulge into dirty details just yet, I want to take a moment to recall the very last day of the last month of the year - the month where, all of a sudden, things started to slide back into their rightful places.

Most excitingly, I officially made it a tradition of mine to book an epic trip on every New Year's Eve. Well, if I do it two years in a row, it's a tradition right? Last year, at the actual stroke of midnight, I signed up for a sweet-as Trek America trip to Canada and this year I'm sticking to what I know best - that's right, I'm jumping straight back on the Trek America bandwagon except this time, I am doing what can only be described as the Western USA roadtrip of dreams. Read it and weep whoop! San Fran, Yosemite, Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Route 66 and LA all in a week. It's coming for me in May (or rather, I'm coming for it) and I am giddy with anticipation already. Americuuuuuurrrrr!

Possibly the greatest achievement of them all is that I made it out for New Year's Eve. As in, out out. Honestly, you just read that correctly. If you're not in the know, then hear this: I am not exaggerating when I say that I have spent New Year's Eve indoors for probably the past 8~ years. Every year, it's been a vision of mine to go out and part-ay until the early morn but every year, something happens and it's basically a write-off. But this year, I made it. Very last minute indeed because that's how I roll but there I was at the stroke of midnight, jiving in a club in Croydon to Slade's version of Auld Lang Syne (the very best I'll have you know) with my bruvva-from-anuvva-muvva J. Absolutely glorious!

And then bringing it back around in a full circle to books, and writing a good one. It's my belief that even beyond coincidence and (dare I say it) fate, you are the master of your own destiny. A smile and a little positive thinking can go a long, long way and these are the actions that have kept my motors running many a day - especially in 2013. I had heard of these awesome 'One Line A Day' diaries a while ago but really wanted to start mine at the beginning of 2014. So I waited out my excitement when my Amazon order arrived three days early and tonight I get to make my very first entry. This little diary is awesome in the fact that you basically have to pick out the most memorable parts of your day (or condense it into something cryptic and awesome) into Tweet-size and when you get to the end of the year, you go back to the first page and start again. So at the end of it all - when I will be very old, for sure - you will have five years of memories all on one page. Magical!

So there we have it: the best end to 2013 that I could never have expected, and I think I'm well on my way to making 2014 a truly amazing year. This is the beginning of writing a good one, guys.

P.S. Completely amazing that Dubai got their world record 'n' all, but literally when I thought that London could never do a better display than they ever had before... then we go and put out this absolute stonker of a show. Weirdly and unashamedly, this sort of stuff brings tears to my eyes. I love my hometown!