How I came to appreciate the UK again

During my travels I saw many sights and met many people from all different kinds of backgrounds. As I reached my final destination, back in the UK, I had learnt one very simple but important thing:

No matter where you go, the story’s always the same.

In each country across the world there will always be someone moaning about:

  • Immigrants
  • House/Rental prices and ‘foreigners’ buying them
  • Big companies buying up all the produce/land and hiking up the cost of food

It’s sad, but it’s true. As human beings, we can’t all get along and agree on the exact same thing; that’s what makes us human!

In learning that the rest of the world appears to have the same issues as home, I started looking at what the UK has, to appreciate it once again.

Free Healthcare – The NHS gets a bad rep, mostly by Conservatives, but if we didn’t have the NHS I don’t know how we’d survive. Over the years I’ve needed them for surgery, check-ups, injections etc. and although you get the occasional hiccup with waiting times, I’ve always felt looked after.

Food – We have such a large variety of food here in the UK. Not only do we have amazing restaurants bringing us cuisines from all over the world, but we also have great variety in our supermarkets.
I found Australia’s shops missing a lot of items which I thought were staple products, and their curries were nothing but heartburn to me. In Dubai however, they appear to have everything, and they have it beautifully presented. I’m always amazed at how neatly the fruit is stacked whenever I shop at Waitrose in Dubai Mall.
When you reach places like a remote island in Fiji you’re once again reminded of the ‘Western World’ we live in in the UK, and the amazing choice we get. For 10 days straight we were fed whatever the local fishermen had caught, and at some points the chefs struggled as it was the stormy season and no boats could come near us. Our fruit plates became banana plates, and the main courses diminished in size. Being based in the UK we have all of Europe growing fruit and veg, and we even have the specialised shops offering (highly priced) imported foods from America or China.

The BBC – Whilst living in Oz I couldn’t watch BBC TV over the net because I wasn’t in the UK. When I went on the BBC news website whilst in Oz, it was filled with adverts. When you’re in the UK looking at these things there are no adverts allowed as it is funded by us, the people of the UK. Other channels and countries have to have adverts all over their stuff to make money. I’m happy to pay for the Beeb as it’s given me Attenborough, Sherlock, as well as many classic TV comedies such as Blackadder and Only Fools and Horses. Now who can compete with that?!

The Countryside – I grew up in the countryside but have spent the last 10 years based in cities, rarely stepping out into a woodland or field. Over this time I completely forgot the fact that the UK is still at least 80% countryside.
When we drove around New Zealand I was amazed at how much was untouched. In the entire country there are only a few places heavily built on, the rest was just little towns or villages surrounded by mountains or lakes. It was stunning but also similar to the views of Britain. So as our plane flew in circles coming into land at Gatwick, I looked out at the land below and took in the fields and trees I’d forgotten about for so long. Now I’m back, I plan on seeing the country I grew up in.


We may all have the same problems of mass corporations buying everything out and hiking the prices, people buying out all the properties to invest and make more money, and an ever-increasing population from both immigrants and procreation, but the point is we ALL have that, and we’re ALL just people. If we can learn to respect one another and accept what’s going on around us (to an extent), then we will find a happiness within ourselves. I’m still working on this one but at least I’ve come to appreciate the land I grew up in and all it has to offer.

A Pommes Perspective of Australia

During my travels in Australia I came across many wonderful and weird things. Here’s my view overall of Oz.

Roads – Brilliantly signposted! When I arrived in Australia I was so relieved to see maximum signage on the roads. They direct and warn you about everything.

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TV Promos – ‘You’re not going to believe what happens.’ ‘What they did next will amaze you.’  One thing I’ve noticed about Australian TV promos is; they’re all the same. Even if the programme doesn’t contain any drama, they’ll make a promo to make it look like it’s one filled with it. Coming from a background of working in the TV industry, I know the deal, but in the UK they certainly seem to mix it up a little bit more than over here. The UK certainly doesn’t try to make a home decorating show look like a dramatic reality TV series. I’ve not watched a lot of American TV in my time, but the Oz promos certainly seem to be heavily influenced by the American way.

Walking side – Where in some countries you have a bike path and a pedestrian path, here you have a pedestrian path side for whichever way you’re walking. It’s quite cute, but a waste of road paint, because no one really abides by them.

Food – I seriously struggled to eat a good meal in Australia. To many Australians, you’re not to know any different, but curry isn’t supposed to taste like that. Kiev’s aren’t supposed to have bones in them, and pasta should not taste so thick and stodgy that you won’t pass it for weeks. It took me a while to know which items to pick and choose out of the small amount of options, but I gradually learnt what not to eat.

Franchises – I soon learnt that the well-known chain restaurants I’m used to are not going to taste the same in Australia. They’re franchises, owned by some local who’s got the famous menus up behind him, but different products behind the scenes. One day I really fancied a Nandos so I asked for my usual of a chicken burger and chips with halloumi and the guy looked at me with utter confusion. Halloumi is not on the Nandos menu here. I mean c’mon. It makes the chicken burger if you stick the slab of halloumi on top of it, and then there are the Nandos fries I love so much. I was given your typical cheap-ass, worst tasting fries you could ever imagine; horrific. Australia, you have no idea what amazing food you’re missing out on.

Double glazing – Okay, I vaguely get it. We have double glazing in the UK because it’s cold 99.9% of the year, but you guys (depending on which part of the country you’re in) get cold spells too! Not only do you actually have winters where it’s low in the single figures, but double glazing also helps cut out sounds. So far, in the many places I’ve stayed, I’ve wished for double glazing. I don’t want to hear the really noisy birds outside, or the boy racers burning rubber on the street. When I get inside, I want peace and quiet. I want to feel like I’m in my own space, not still sharing it with the whole world. On top of that, door-makers really need to learn to measure. I’ve still not seen a door that goes all the way to the floor – even front doors. You have massive fences up to protect you from all this dangerous wildlife, but you’ll leave an inch gap at the front of your house so that all the little critters can crawl on in.

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Heating – This ties in with the double glazing. Some parts of the country do get cold and yet none of them have any form of heating installed. All of the people I’ve met so far have complained about the lack of heating in their apartment and have had to buy standalone radiators that hardly give out any warmth, but use up a lot of electricity.

Loud birds – Going back to the double glazing again, it would be really nice if you had some so that the bird that insists on calling out to his friends in front of my window every morning wouldn’t be so loud. There’s a whole range of them, and I’m sure I share this pain with most people.

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Internet options – You guys are being taken for a ride. There are adverts all over the TV for super-fast broadband at a rip-off price and it’s still not unlimited! I just don’t get it. It’s already well-known that this country doesn’t have very good internet coverage, and I can understand why – you’re huge with massive expanses of nothingness to get across – but I don’t understand why these companies can’t just offer you unlimited rather than 200GB a month. If you’re asking for 200GB a month it should be classed as unlimited!

Where to buy what – You go through life learning what items work for you, and go buy them whenever you need a top up. When I arrived in Oz I soon found that my staple products might not exist in this country. In the UK, supermarkets contain a large variety of everything from knickers to noodles. I’ve found that in Oz you may need to go to a few stores to get everything on your shopping list. It began with toothpaste. I must have walked around 4 different supermarkets and discount pharmacy’s before assuming that my brand wasn’t made here and settled on something similar. Then I ran out of face wipes, deodorant, and shampoo. It’s not so simple that once you’ve found it in one store you’ll find it in another one of theirs – that’s what makes Oz shops so confusing! Different Coles stores will have different items. So where I might be able to find a shampoo I want in one of them, another Coles elsewhere doesn’t stock that particular brand.


Over the months I began pointing out more negative views of Australia, but overall they’re not a bad bunch. They have advert campaigns like this one:

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And have a far more relaxed view on life than most European countries. Australians know how to work a sufficient amount, and play to the absolute maximum. They’ve learnt how to handle big bugs, and ferocious storms. All in all, my view of Australia is it’s hot, independent, and very, very beautiful.

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What I learnt whilst in Oz

Cancer awareness – Everyone is very much aware of cancer in the world, and it’s always prevalent, but my trip began in Brisbane where skin cancer is rife. All my cousin’s friends had cancer; there were ads all over TV for it, and skin cancer clinics on every corner. Sunscreen was cheap, everywhere, and was made in high SPF’s.

Healthy Eating – When I moved to Manly, it was what I was putting into my body that I became more aware of. Manly appears to be a very health conscious town, and my new housemate had been taking it one step further and started to buy organic products for cleaning, and make up as well so that anything she touched or ingested was chemical free, and 100% natural. I’d always felt bloated after pasta or bread anyway, so I knew I should try cutting out gluten. After reading about other things that you could remove from your diet and how it could benefit you, I started to seriously plan my eating habits and embraced the new meal options.

It’s hard to change lifestyle habits, but since having my eyes opened to a new way of living, I now follow healthy eaters on Instagram like @chloescountertop @kirstywaterman @deliciouslyella who show me a new way of eating and viewing. I also came across Quirky Cooking which has some delicious recipes and suggestions.

In learning more about the products you put onto your body, I’ve started compiling a Pinterest board of DIY products, and the many uses of coconut!

As I made my way further south, I found Sydney and Melbourne to be the most health conscious. There were lots of independent shops including health food stores with plenty of variety for the intolerant people. I felt like I was walking into a magic, Harry Potter shop when I entered a store in Melbourne. Outside it had a stand of wicker baskets which you could use whilst walking around the shop, and they’d used every single space imaginable for something. The crevices in the walls were filled with tubes of every seed and nut you could think of, and they even had a mini bakery on sight! These sorts of shops do not exist in the UK, but certainly should.

Australian TV – I found their TV to have quite an American influence, with a slight environmental and health conscious vibe. During my stay in Townsville, the local TV adverts were mainly focussed on obesity, and how to lead a healthier life. At the beginning I found it funny that people in such a sunny state could have an obesity problem, but actually, the heat can be too much for exercise, and the sea can have crocs, sharks and stingers to be wary of! Most coast towns do have pools which filtered in the sea water though, so there’s no real excuse.

Aborigines – On the road in Western Australia, I learnt about how much the Aborigines’ were quashed. I went on a 6 day tour of South West Oz and at nearly every stop it was all about how the Aborigines once were this and that, as if they don’t exist anymore. It makes me rather sad that they’re talked about this way, and have been removed from their lands to make way for a western world who didn’t even know how to cope in this harsh environment.

Australian Made – Independent companies appear to be thriving as well as state made adverts encouraging people to shop at independent stores rather than big businesses. It’s great to still be able to buy your meat from a butchers, vegetables from a greengrocers, and fish from a fishmongers; this is something you’d struggle to still find in a built up UK city, as the big chain supermarkets buy out all the smaller stores to make ‘locals’.

And finally, what I’ve learnt about me…

I’ve learnt that I love a Wintery Christmas in the northern hemisphere. It was weird going through December with Christmas films showing, and having no relation to the weather outside. Even topics and stories online weren’t corresponding to the heat of the Australian summer. I found it so weird that I wrote a blog entry about it.

#LiveHappy

I wanted to write a more personal blog entry to go through the emotions this journey’s taken me on so far. I decided to come to Australia because I was sick of London. I was sick of the extortionate rent, the terrible transport, the long hours and stress I was putting myself under just to make ends meet.

What I longed for was more time, more energy, more of a life.

I’ve been in this country for 3 months and I’m happy. It took a while to work out my feelings because it starts with getting used to the time difference, missing my boyfriend, family, friends, and then just getting used to all the small differences; like where to find my favourite face wipes!

It occurred to me only a few weeks ago that I was smiling a lot more. I had become a person that I remember being once before. I have the time to think about others and do things for others. I’m cooking a lot more varied meals, and walking with a spring in my step to and from work. At my workplace I’m regularly found with a smile on my face, and I make more jokes instead of the cynical subjects I’d gotten stuck on in London. It’s all become a beautiful, light-hearted way to live.

This isn’t me saying I’m staying for good. I’m not so enamoured in Oz that I never want to leave; in fact my ticket home is already booked! Instead, it’s me saying that I’ve found a new way to live and I don’t want to go back to how I was. When I was 19 I worked a 9-5 office job and even though I was sick of it after a couple of years, it was the easiest life I’ve ever lived and I know that I was a much better person back then. So to find that part of myself and combine it with the experiences I’ve gleaned over the last 11 years I should be able to be the happiest and best person I could ever be and that’s what I feel like I’ve found.

A Pomme’s Perspective of: TOWNSVILLE

Usually when I mention Townsville to an Aussie all they say is ‘Bogan central’. Being a Brit, I had no idea what that meant so I ignored it. I had pre-organised a month housesitting a parakeet and a bearded dragon for a lovely Canadian couple who were off to introduce their baby to their family back home.

I’d managed to organise this via Trusted Housesitters where for a small fee you can create a profile and contact people who need sitters. This is a great way to get free accommodation somewhere whilst living in a normal house setting and having the wonderful company of all sorts of animals.

Townsville itself is relatively quiet. The town is formed around the base of a hill, and has Magnetic Island just a ferry ride away. Whilst I’ve been here I’ve been to Reef HQ and Billabong Sanctuary, two great places that help teach people about all the different kinds of animals found in the area.

Reef HQ is more of an education centre than an aquarium. It’s been created to teach people all about the Great Barrier Reef; from what lives there, to how it’s being damaged by us.

It’s main tank is a man-made reef with natural sunlight, and it contains a large variety of fish and sea creatures. They also have a turtle sanctuary which you can go around on a tour at certain times of the day.

The Billabong Sanctuary is also very educational but not like Reef HQ. Where Reef has lots of things to read, Billabong has constant talks and shows on each animal.

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I spent all my time there hopping from one talk to the next whilst checking out other animals in between. I learnt all about native birds to the area, wombats, koalas, dingoes, crocs, and turtles.

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You can also buy packets of food for the kangaroos and birds that live on the billabong and hand feed them.

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Housesitting in Townsville was a great month for me. I got to chill out with some beautiful animals, see the local wildlife, and bask in the sun whenever I wanted. It may be a quiet town with a few boy racers, but I wouldn’t let that put you off stopping there on your way up/down the coast.

#JustDoIt

I’ve been told that I try to do everything now, that I need to slow down, and to hold off things until I’m older. But what I’ve always thought was…

‘What if I don’t get any older?

People try to save money all their life, intending to use it when they’re retired, then they find they’re not as nimble as they once were and can’t visit places they’ve been waiting to go to all their life.

Then there are the ‘off-putters’. The ones who say that now isn’t quite the right time for them. They may be waiting on a raise at work, or trying to raise a family. Either way they feel that whilst they’re doing one of those things, they can’t do much else. These people will never find the right time.

I was one of those people, and it was while I was walking around The Forum in Rome that I realised my mother was already at a point in her life where some traverses may be too difficult for her. As I scaled hills and hopped over relics in the sweltering heat, I could imagine my mother asking for a coffee break whilst trying to find a nice shady tree. She’s been retired for nine years, and in that time has taken every opportunity to travel. Most destinations aren’t too laborious, but she now has her sights set on Machu Picchu, a tricky place to:

a) Get to

b) Breathe at

I’m a firm believer that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. I’m also a firm believer of thinking outside of the box, and when people tell me you can’t just go off travelling the world after spending so many years forging a career path, I say yes you can! It’s difficult, and it certainly takes guts, but if it builds you more as a person, then it’s worthwhile.

The Ever Evolving Pack List

The Pack List

Getting your pack list prepared well in advance of setting off is probably one of the best things you can do right from the off. I made my decision to leave the country back in January, and since February I’ve been updating a pack list and purchasing items from the list as I go.

So far I’ve come up with the below. I’m yet to decide on clothing, so that will come into it closer to the date.

  • Clothes and Shoes
  • First Aid & Prescriptions – Make sure you stock up on any prescriptions you may need before leaving as the county you’re going to might not have the same kind of cost/service as your own. Australia’s healthcare is notoriously expensive so I’m hoarding whatever I can before I go.
  • eReader & books – I’ve got hundreds of ebooks already stored on my eReader, and currently plan to take one or two paperbacks with me for the beach
  • Phone
  • Chargers – Mostly usb cables to fit into my plug charger
  • Netbook
  • Passport, vaccination book, I.D.
  • Insurance and Visa Documents
  • Travel Pillow – I looked into the best one to choose and decided that a 2 in 1 would be good, with a loop to attach it to my bag. In the end I went with this one – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007REVRGI
  • Ziploc bags – Great for keeping belongings dry and away from creepy spiders!
  • Microfibre Towel – Light and dries quickly. I chose this two pack so my boyfriend had one – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00OXS67M0
  • Number padlock – I chose this one for a colour to stand out from the crowd, and ALWAYS chose a number one ‘cause it’s no good have a key padlock then losing the key for it… http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003KIUKMC
  • Ipod – My phone doesn’t have enough space for music (it’s kinda old!), so I decided to buy a 2nd hand ipod nano. That way I have music on the go, but can also change it every so often with my external hard drive of music and my netbook. I went for a 7th generation nano from ebay. I found that if it’s an auction finishing midweek you’re more likely to get a slight price reduction to the auctions finishing on the weekend. I managed to get mine for £65.
  • Make up & Remover
  • Nail Clippers
  • Hairbrush
  • Adapters – 2 should be suffice
  • Toothbrush & Paste
  • Shaver
  • Travel Guides – I’ve read through the guides already so might just write up notes from these/take pictures, and leave them behind.
  • Notebook & Pen – Always good to have a pen handy, but I might leave the notebook.
  • Moisturiser
  • Camera & SD Card
  • Travel Money – Just to start me off. I should have a bank card soon after getting there.
  • Sewing Kit – Something many people have said would be useful to have but I might just leave.

What’s missing? I’ll be revising the list again at the end of May.