Thursday, 8 February 2018

I’m Just a Girl

I’m just a girl…..


A recent episode of Peaky Blinders got me thinking, what has changed for women in the last century? Resulting in an interesting conversation with my mum, who’s not that old by the way, but knows a thing or two thanks to my nana and her gran.


I mean, imagine not being able to go to the pub alone and having to make sure you were escorted by your husband. I know myself and the girls in the office would find this impossible, we’re partial to a bottle of fizz on a Friday! Mind you some of the bars in York could adopt this policy on a weekend, that would reduce the massive onslaught of hen parties in our favourite establishments. 


Another issue, just think not being able to get a credit card unless you were married and your husband was willing to co-sign. This I think is ridiculous! Especially, when you combine it with the fact that most men waned their wives to stay at home. How were they supposed to do the weekly shop with no credit card? Pay the bills down the post office? Talk about contradiction.


We all know about the voting situation, so I won’t go into too much detail. But we all should take the opportunities that we’re offered when it comes to voting, otherwise surely the suffragette movement was a waste of time.


Something which is still the same but not as openly advertised is differentiation in salaries. At least way back when they had the balls to say if you work here as a man you’ll get paid way more than a woman doing the same job. Now, you only hear about these things if someone walks out of a job over gender pay. I don’t really understand how this is legal, or who gets to determine why said man is worth more than said women…salary should be determined on role, and ability, not what sex you are.


I’m lucky enough to work in a place where “-isms” don’t matter. Nothing is about age, race or gender, we simply just roll with who has the best idea.


“Why do women have smaller feet than men….so they can get closer to the sink”




Thursday, 18 January 2018

In Defence of the Fence

I’m not a vegan, I enjoy sausage and mash as much as the next person, but I do choose to use cruelty free products and find myself forever checking if my favourite moisturiser is on the approved list. We must save those rabbits after all.


This obsession stemmed from watching a video online, where a poor young girl was subjected to the same tests lab rats go through just to see if your favourite mascara is going to turn your eyelashes the correct shade of blue.


Cruelty free products are a favourite of mine, but I would never introduce myself in the following way, “Hi, my names Carrie and I believe in cruelty free”. As I’m a firm believer in the fact that everyone can make their own decisions, have an opinion or sit on the fence if they want to.


We stereotype and categorise, but that man with the nose ring and an arm full of tattoos could be the best doctor we’ve ever known. We eat organically because we’re told that processed food will cause cancer. But in the future, we’ll probably be told that eating clean causes cancer too.


Buying a hybrid car so we look like we’re saving the environment, but taking an opportunity to switch to petrol to gain some speed and sound like a “bad boy” racer on the motorway.


Sitting on the fence is the inability to choose between two sides, or a lack of courage to decide. I mean most people have no issue supporting their favourite football team, but struggle in reference to political discussions. 


Striving for knowledge for a better understanding of a situation. But does that just make it more confusing?


I was once told that only truly intelligent people can see both sides of an argument. You don’t have to agree, you just have to see the other point of view.


In light of this I’m in agreement with Tim Minchin, who once sang,


“You can’t see which grass is greener. Chances are it’s neither, and either way it’s easier to see the difference, when you’re sitting on the fence”


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Happiness is a Hot Bath

I’ve never had to share a bath with a sibling, or use second hand bath water with the concern that it contained a little more than the days dirt. I’ve never not had central heating or a hot a shower, apart from the one winter when the boiler broke, but that’s a different story.


I don’t remember black and white TV and I’ve always had a remote to save myself from getting up and changing the channel using the huge buttons on the side of the TV that I’ve heard so much about. There’s always been over 600 channels to choose from, and Netflix on weekends.


So, in an age when life is documented on social media, I often find myself aimlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram and wondering are the people I follow truly happy?

The latest gym selfie, a night out with the best people which resulted in a bad head and an empty wallet, ever changing relationship status’ and pictures of the worlds cutest dog fill my screen and are seen as representations of a perfect life.


But was life not more perfect when families spent time together, with their heads up looking at each other and talking, instead of down, looking at a phone and telling the world what they’re having for dinner? Playing outside, not on an Xbox? Talking, not tweeting?


When did it become normal for kids to watch videos of other children opening presents? Where’s the excitement in an ever-growing impatience to watch their favourite TV show at any time thanks to the presence of OnDemand? I remember eagerly awaiting The Queens Nose at 4.30 followed by Biker Grove at 5. If something wasn’t in the TV Guide you weren’t watching it, simple.


Am I guilty of sharing too much on my Instagram? Probably. Would I rather have had the chance to be the first in that week’s bath water? Should there still only be 4 TV channels, rather than 600? Would that simple life be better than an unrealistic version of perfect?


We do some work with Age UK, and I recently heard about their new scheme where they ask for volunteers to call or visit an elderly person once a week. Such a simple yet great idea I thought. Not only does it provide somebody with comfort and company, it gives us a chance to see a person without the use of social media and bring someone a small moment of true happiness. It’s things like this that should be documented on media.

Though I was nervous about suggesting this idea to my colleagues, I needn’t have worried…we’ve got a new activity to keep us busy next year.


To quote The Smiths,

“It’s easy to laugh, it’s easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind”


Thursday, 8 June 2017

The pursuit of health and happiness.

So we've been back a little over 9 weeks now, we're both in full time employment, we've both voted for the first time ever, we've caught up with friends and family...and I'm left thinking, what now?

Coming back from a year away has been a roller coaster so far. For the first few weeks I felt settled and happy. I mean who wouldn't of, I went out for food about 9 times a week, spent time in the sunshine and caught up with some of the most important people in my life. But as I've got back into the 9-5, started going out less and visiting the doctors more I'm left wondering if there's more I could be doing with my life.

Take volunteering for example, just 1 day a week could make so much difference to a short staffed care home, an under privileged school or a child who needs taken care of on an evening. Is there more we could be doing to support the families and friends of those effected by the recent events in Manchester and London? Would retraining in a new field help me feel like I was doing more? Do i want to pursue a new career in the care industry or spend an evening or two a week helping out?

This is what made me vote in this years election, I wanted to make a difference. So I voted for a party I thought could. Who did I vote for? Well that would be telling. I'm not relying solely on my vote or any political party to make a difference mind, I am researching what I can do to help.

I'm still having tests on my stomach, a stool sample, a blood test and an ultrasound has revealed nothing, yet I still find myself, on occasion, weeing out of my bum! So it's a 6 week dairy free diet (which in all honesty is not going great, a girl likes the odd milky way) and a return trip to the doctors, to be booked in with the "tummy specialists' next.

On a positive note, I've found myself reconnecting with friends I thought I'd become distanced from whilst I was away, and time spent on these relationships has really been worth it. We've become Uncle Pyle and Uncle Carrie to the little ball of energy that is our niece Paige, and spent a lot of time with her, Scott, Emma and the rest of our families. Both having realised that family is the most important thing, and appreciating the time we spend with them.

We've got a few mini adventures planned, all in England of course our budget won't allow us to travel any further, and we're saving all our hard earned money for a new house...surprisingly, in the UK. I know, I thought we were moving to Japan too.

So, whilst Kyle's happy and healthy I'm having what I call a Travellers lull, with days where I'm left thinking "if only i could rant to my nana". But fingers crossed the next batch of tummy testing shows up something, and I can get sorted and fart without fear. And hopefully I'll soon find myself an evening activity that leaves me feeling like I've made someones day that little easier. Hopefully, we all can hey?

Love Carrie xxx

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Week 53 - York

As soon as you hit the A64 you know that you’ve only got one destination in mind…York. Driving into York cemented the fact we were home, in fact it felt like we’d never left all those months ago.  Our first stop was our new home for 6 months, Jim (Kyle’s dad) and Mandy’s, so it was more brews and catch ups before we finally began to unpack all of our belongings, getting used to living out of a wardrobe instead of a backpack will take some time, now we’ve got to work out where we’ve put everything.

In a week filled with catch ups we’ve spent time with little Paige, whose taken to calling Kyle, Uncle Pile, which is just too funny to correct. I’ve enjoyed the first of many meals with my Republic girls, Amber, Jade, Liz and Vick, who have been useless this last year, resulting in this being the first time they’d seen each other since I left too. My favourite thing about these girls is that catching up is always easy, they never change and we’ve actually grown together…so yes, Amber don’t worry we all still appreciate your rudeness with waitstaff, and credit where it’s due you’ve gotten a lot better this last year. I’ve visited the Nespresso gang and avoided putting on a headset to help queue bust, and instead left wth a bag full of chocolate thanks to my good friend, Cindy.

We’ve enjoyed a few drinks in the local, and a few too many at Charley and Alana’s engagement do (congrats again guys). A great evening allowed us to catch up with almost everyone and enjoy an old school disco, a proper year 8 style Christmas party, that had almost everyone busting out the macarena. A trip into town should of been cancelled at the walls, I forgot just how crowded Yorks bars could be, and now we find ourselves at that awkward age of being surrounded by people in the 16-21 bracket or the parents who can now go out again as their kids are our age and avoiding town for looking too old…safe to say my nightclub days are far behind me.

In an attempt to keep up our adventures we’ve walked Jasper through the woods and across the Knavesmire, and played tourist in York city centre. An early rise gave us the Shambles to ourselves. Like a scene from Diagon Alley (Harry Potter), the Shambles is an old cobbled street lined with shops and restaurants in old buildings that over hang with timber frames, dating back to the 14th century and one of my favourite places in this historic city. From here we ventured to York Minster, through the museum gardens and onto the city walls. A  walk I have never done in the 11 years I have lived in York, the city walls have more miles than any other city in England. Having surrounded York since the Roman times, the walls surround the city centre and offer great views of many historic buildings and the river, plus the best thing about this walk is, it’s free and open daily. Though we would recommend venturing out early to beat the crowds.

It’s been a busy week all round, on top of walks and catch ups we’ve also found time for job interviews. This means getting used to working to somebody else timings, dressing smart and for me using public transport (a massive drain on a busy York morning). But it’s also a good thing as it means we’ll hopefully get a job sooner, rather than later so we can start saving for our future and more UK weekend explorings. 

And it’s here we’ll leave you for now. I’m considering an update in a few months time, we’ll hopefully be working and enjoying the sites in Yorkshire by then. But for now we’re still adjusting to being home, so if you see us and we’re looking a little lost it’s only because were taking things in and trying not to be too overwhelmed by being home. Thank you to all for supporting us on our travels for the last year, and to family for helping us survive for now. Again it’s been a fantastic year, and we’re both looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Love Carrie xxx

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Week 52 - Blackpool, England

Blackpool for me as a child was always a favourite weekend destination. I remember pestering both parents to take me there every Saturday, whether it was just for a trip to the arcades or a day at the Pleasure Beach I wanted to be there. Now our visits to the famous seaside town take us to visit Kyle’s family. Pulling up to Kyle mums, Wendy, is always the same, she waits in the window until we pull up and comes running out to the car, only this time it was like she’d been waiting at the door…I’ve never seen her move so fast to give us a welcome back. After a catch up and a brew it was on to Kyle’s nana and grandads house, this was the first time that we’ve realised how much things can change in a year. As grandchildren you think that your grandparents are indestructible, so when illnesses come it can hit you pretty hard. Thankfully, Irene and Watty are the amazing, funny people I’ve come to know and love and aren’t letting anything get to them or change their senses of humour. Sitting with Watty, we got to learn about his gangster past back in that old London. Though he wouldn’t give us the detail Kyle and I craved we both know he was a real Peaky fucking Blinder. One day I’ll get that detail and write a book for you all to read, I’m sure he won’t mind.

Our week also contained a first, after 9 years our mums finally met. It’s a shame that a trip to the pier was ruined by the typical English weather. It’s been April showers and wind galore in good old Blackpool this Easter. Instead we had a meal and shopping trip, where dragging the mothers out of Primark was a bigger challenge than walking the wall in China. Mum also got to meet Irene and Watty, and as first meetings go I don’t think it could have gone any better…..both grandparents also censored their language for the occasion, I don’t know why, mum can swear with the best of them. 

Shopping in Blackpool was a bit of a shock, though they’ve made a real effort with the front the rest of it could really do with some work. The streets are dirty and lined with dog poo, a real shame and something that worries me for the rest of our return in the UK…is it all going to be like this? Or does Blackpool council need to up their game? Though I will say that you can’t beat good old Blackpool B&B hospitality, checking into Sunnydale hotel for the weekend we were greeted by two of the nicest owners. You know the type, the ones that always win Four in a bed. The room came complete with a hospitality tray and those little milks in cartons, and there was a dining room slash “lounge” downstairs. But my favourite part of staying in a seaside B&B is the fry up in the morning, you’re always guaranteed to be served the best British bacon, and after a year without it, this bacon was much appreciated.

Kyle was over the moon when his Uncle Stewart came to visit with his wife, Sharon, and boys Tommy and Ryan. I was buzzing too as it meant a trip to Coral Island and a few goes on the 2p machines and arcade games, and for a child thats spent half his life in Blackpool I can tell you that Kyle is pretty shit at arcade games.  A family meal with 15 of us and discussions of anal beads could only be had with this bunch, and you wouldn’t change them for the world….Blackpool might not be my favourite weekend destination anymore, but as long as this lot are there, we’ll still keep on coming.

So with most of our catch ups done its now Yorks turn and the return “home”.  We’ve got plenty of people to see, appointments to make and still many decisions to make. I don’t really know how I feel about being back in York yet, I can’t wait to see the rest of the family and catch up with my friends, but it sort of feels like this is the actual end of adventures. We’re back where we left off and shits got to get serious…..where’s my backpack? 

Love Carrie xxx

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Week 51 - Home, The Lake District.

We’ve taken 23 planes, 13 buses, 16 trains, 10 boats and owned 1 car to visit 10 countries over 12 months. We’ve taken 4,600 photos and videos, met some amazing people, become an unstoppable/inseparable duo and made some truly unforgettable memories. Many times we’ve been asked to name our favourite country, but we cant, they’ve all been good for different reasons. Take China, for the food, the technology and the fact it is the only place we visited that has very little Western influence and the only place where we depended on our ‘Point-it’ picture book, (a must have for anyone visiting China). Japan was the most unique and individual country of them all, with the friendliest, craziest people. Each corner you turned held a new experience, the gaming world of Akihabara and the waterfalls of Hakone to name a few.

Onwards to South East Asia and the busy Thailand, even in wet season its filled with tourists. Not one of my top destinations but I can appreciate why people return to the pristine islands and enjoy the flavoursome food. Cambodia is the country to make you appreciate what you have, seeing the little that people had to live on, but feeling the kindness that they were willing to share was a real eye-opener, and of course we enjoyed our wonderful experience teaching the children in Kratie with Rith and his family. For the best food in the world, Vietnam gets our vote. Eating in alleys on plastic childrens chairs with the locals for $1 were where a lot of our best meals were enjoyed, and who can forget that wonderful iced coffee? You also can’t take away from the vibrancy and beautiful beaches that this country has to offer. 

Wildlife on this adventure has been a big favourite for me, getting to see the elephant in Cambodia and of course the orangutangs in Malaysia was amazing. Malaysia itself is a great country for National Parks that allow you to get up close to animals in their natural habitat. Also one of my favourite countries for cultural diversity, seeing so many races and religions live peacefully side by side should be something that the whole world takes an example from. Beach life took over our lives in Indonesia, with Bali offering some of the most perfect (if a little crowded) beaches in the world. The Gili islands could be my new home, I’m sure if I stayed there long enough I’d be a snorkelling and surfing pro. 

Australia is an odd one for me, I liked what we saw as we got to see friends, but it didn’t win me over…maybe we need to see more? Get away from the crowds. But New Zealand on the other hand was a winner, as I once said, it’s like the gift that keeps on giving. We saw so much and did so much, from walks, beaches, rivers, mountains, bungee jumps and making a bunch of new friends, as well as catching up with old ones. We both fell in love with one of the most looked after countries in the world. America was a struggle for Kyle, especially with the food, but after California things picked up for us both. Spending time with family, exploring State Parks, the amazing music of Nashville and an unforgettable Broadway show gave our trip a fantastic ending. There’s more things we could say about every country, but we’d be here for ages and I know my ramblings have filled your feed for too long now. 

Being back and sharing stories with friends and families has made us remember small details that we’d forgotten about, and taught us to laugh at things that may have pissed us off at times, (like being stuck on a tiny, cramped mini bus in Cambodia for 7 hours). We’ve learnt a lot about the world, ourselves and each other, me especially about the world, though my geography still leaves a lot to be desired. I thought leaving Asia that I would be less materialistic, but meeting my mum and hitting a mall in America made me realise that I’m still a sucker for new shoes…I suppose some things stick as it’s what were used to, and living in the Western world we’re used to getting new things and having the latest technology. But I will make a more conscious effort to keep track of world events, donate to the right charities and organisations (starting with 3 bags of clothing for the homeless shelter) and supporting people we’ve met with their endeavours. I’m also going to try and cross the road properly, and not text and walk…small things but I’ve seen the benefit of both (especially after falling down the stairs and twisting my ankle watching a snapchat in New Zealand).

Arriving back at my mums in the Lake district to boxes of clothing, a backpack filled with washing and a years worth of mail was a real, “Oh shit, we’re home, what do we do now?” moment. Not wanting to step too far back into the real world, Kyle has decided to get rid of most of his clothes and just repacked his backpack. 

I’d forgotten how boring food shops could be, so a trip to Asda with jet lag was not only draining but a real chore (can’t wait for the first time that I’ve got to do cleaning). We also bumped into an old school friends mum who got chatting about nana, this I found a little upsetting as I don’t think it had yet hit home that she’s actually gone. Thankfully, mum took us to Nana’s house and even though I didn’t want to go at the time I’m glad that I did, as it no longer feels as though she’s there…which can only mean that she’s happy with Grandad looking after her now. 

Mum has taken us on some Lake District adventures and I’ve started to realise that I probably did take this place for granted before I left. We’ve walked to the top of the Hoad Monument, an old lighthouse with great views over Ulverston and the surrounding areas. Trekked round Furness Abbey and got lost in the lanes. Driven out to Roa Island for afternoon tea, and enjoyed the views out to sea, and walked up Gummer’s How to take in the length of Lake Windermere, and tried to decide which mountain we’ll climb next….we will make our own little adventures now we’re back home. 

We’ve visited friends and family and shared our travel stories, and many have asked us how it feels to be home. We probably can’t answer that question yet, at the moment it’s like we’re still on holiday just visiting people and eating the food we’ve missed (hello, meat and tatie pies and flaming hot monster munch). So maybe try asking us in 2 more weeks, when desperately hunting for jobs and we’ve been caught in the rain a few times. For now there’s a few decisions to be made and a few faces to see, I'm just glad that we're still doing all these things together (yay to us for no fall outs) but we’ll keep you posted on what we do, do.

Love Carrie xxx