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    A letter to my 18-year-old self.

    I did a straw poll (read: asked a couple of friends over a glass of wine) and asked them what they would tell their 18-year-old self. Most people I asked generally answered ranging from finish your qualifications to moisturize generously.

    Honestly, I know that hindsight is 20/20, but I wouldn’t change much at all about my journey so far. Ok, there are a few situations that were completely out of my control and I would change them for all of the money in the world, but I can’t.

    It has taught me a few things that I would tell my 18-year-old self
    though (well, ok, I’d probably make up a Pinnable infographic now for my
    wall, but you know what I mean) So where exactly am I going with all of this this blathering? (Actually, perhaps that’s
    something I should tell my younger self – tone down the chatter and
    giggling. If it’s even possible.)

    ——————————
    Dear 18-Year-Old Emma,

    I have a few catchphrases of wisdom for you. Feel free to forget about buying the slogan T-shirts though, that’s probably a little far even if you think you’re being clever.

    Follow Your Heart & Dream Big
    You’ll start your latter teenage years in the usual fashion – finishing high school and meandering to university. Unfortunately you won’t settle on quite right degree (architecture) and after a year you’ll feel too burnt out to continue much further. What will be born is an unchanging passion for architecture and an unending curiosity for the stories behind ancient walls. Just remember that if you don’t dream big
    you may not get anywhere. You’ll just be curled up on your couch,
    resenting everyone living their dreams via the medium of facebook.

    Take Up A Sport.
    Do this while you are young, energetic and competitive. Avoid Twitter at all costs in order to practice that sport. What’s Twitter? Don’t worry.

    Know That You’re Different And That’s Good.
    Actually, this goes for you, but I wish I could also tell my 8, 12 and 29 year-old self this. One of the reasons that you’ll hop on a plane to the other side of the world is that feeling of just not quite belonging, but it’s actually your USP.

    You Will Find Your Tribe, Don’t Stress.
    Eventually wittering online will lasso you a London and internationally based crew of passionate comrades, expat and locals alike that share your passions,

    Eat Well.
    Take the time to try everything. Even blue cheese and liquorice – at least once anyway!

    Karma Is Real And Can Be A Real Biatch. Don’t Be A D*ck.

    Appreciate.

    It’s Down To You, Kid.
    No-one is likely to make things happen for you – but if you’re brave enough to seize those seemingly unattainable possibilities and be a little bit cheeky you never know just what might happen.

    Wear Comfortable Shoes
    Actually, this should be at the top of the list.

    Make Every Single Day Luxurious.
    Do
    something every single day that makes you smile from your head to your
    toes. Order an amazing coffee, flavour up your breakfast porridge,
    shower sing at the top of your lungs, watch TV mindlessly for an hour
    and practise completely selfless acts of kindness whenever you can –
    rescuing a child’s teddy bear, offering a loving compliment, buy that
    stressed person behind you a coffee – little things that can entirely
    change someone’s day.

    Northern Blokes and Tabby Cats Make For Lovely UK Family
    This is just a little foreshadowing hint, don’t worry.

    Yours,
    A much older, and not much wiser Emma

    Ps. Faithfully is the sign off in a letter when the addressee is unknown. Remember that.
    ——————————

    Why does this post seem like an 80’s inspiration poster all of a sudden? (This means that I’m showing my age now I suspect…!)

    What would you tell your 18-year-old self?

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    Writing, the drug that no-one warns you about

    What never happens in all of the ’10 tips to start a blog’ posts is a warning about how expressing yourself via the medium of word-arranging is dangerous. Your bank account, personal safety (think photographing at the edge of cliffs) and emotional well-being are all affected in ways that no-one really talks about.

    It’s that saying “ignorance is bliss”. Well, I used to be content with my ignorance. I blissed out over lots of TV, traipsed to and from the concrete jungle without much thought and fitted in a holiday or two when I could. Now, now every action has a tale somewhere narrated in my head, every moment can be framed in the golden section and rule of thirds (with bonus points for a square setting) and enough sometimes simply isn’t enough.

    If you smoke cigarettes in New Zealand these days (and plenty of
    other countries) the packets feature awful images of debilitating
    illnesses that could befall your internal organs. They aren’t pretty by
    any stretch of the imagination and only seem to have demurred a few of
    my friends from their terrible, life-shortening habit. But at least they
    can’t say they weren’t warned (or lacked having double negatives thrown their
    way.)

    I can’t stop thinking about the next post, the next place we fancy trying, the next trip outside or around the city and heaven forbid we eat meals warm. I can’t sleep some nights for the words bouncing around my head eating into the time that metaphysical sheep should be bounding over my snoozing frame and have to leap out from under the covers to dash down the errant scraps of words.

    If only we could invent a pensieve for the modern day, some kind of device that stored the images and memories that are coloured by language and how well my camera is playing ball that day.

    But I still love blogging. This is the strange and wonderful thing about the whole process. I thought I’d be sick of the hassle within 3 weeks of starting, but I only seem to have the bug worse with each passing month.

    It may just be that blogging is bad for us. We spend endless hours planning mischief, take photos incessantly, tactically employ hashtags on the road, flick through the 2,753 blurry photos to select out the best 500, sit reliving every memory of the trip through verbose paragraphs of expression and then fret over social media.

    Could this exciting, demanding hobby be bad for our health? Could it be raising untold expectations of perfection in our own minds? I also worry on dark evenings that my addiction could conjure a need for something even harder, more intense.

    Before we know it, we could be lured into a #NANOWRIMO, drafting intense short stories and learning how to create novel length story arcs.

    And we all thought blogging was so innocent.

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    Keywords for finding Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I do adore the internet, most of the time, but ever more so when I wander into the search terms use to find my blog. Public feedback – aka Twitter – indicates that London Kiwi Emma (ala my social media handle) is the most common method (and incidentally how I’m saved into a lot of cell phones…who needs a surname with the advent of Twitter?)

    The interweb gurus say that SEO runs the internet, but I still find in an intriguing black ar full of chicanery, a thesaurus black hole and a sprinkle of voodoo.
    And that’s possibly why some of the more interesting keyword searches lead people to Adventures of a London Kiwi…

    Butterbeer from scratch recipe Still my most popular post. Still.

    London cheesecake Weirdly my 3rd most popular post, this keeps popping up with random comments every so often. People clearly have a thing for icing & coconut topped pastry unique to London

    Best hot dogs ever Oh yeah, I remember this day – it was pouring with rain and still we traipsed all the way to a North Greenwich industrial estate with the sole intention of eating hot dogs at FatBoy’s Diner. And it was worth it.

    101 in 1001 list This entry makes me proudest…



    18 and slippered Um? All I can say is sorry, this isn’t that kind of blog.

    Anne Frank Museum There are a few good tips in here that we discovered.

    Best Roadtrip Scotland Owing entirely to the best roadtrip we’ve ever taken yet, this one makes me happy – Where to go in Scotland – the best road trip ever it’s a keyword goldmine somehow.

    What do you buy for someone that has everything I still have no idea…

    Hot Frogs I hope, hope hope this is a typo and not some weird subset of human depravity. (I feel like I should spell the word depravity out D-E-P-R-A-V-I-T-Y like when you are talking around kids, in case it hits up on search engines again…)

    Travellinkup No, this is the one I’m proudest of.


    As testament to how this little space is travelling along with my penchant for amusements it’s so interesting to see how this snapshot has changed – I had a brief nose in January 2016 where it was all manner of animals and quirky architecture and more romantic somehow in July 2014. Where do the years go!?

    Bloggers, what is your strangest search term?

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    Blogging style

    Ever get that feeling that you’re not normal, that your rhythm is
    just slightly out of sync with the rest of the world? All my life I’ve
    been different, a round peg in a square hole as it were. Some days it’s easy to revel in; a feeling of individuality and uniqueness that
    can’t be dimmed; and at other times it feels decidedly outsider-ish,
    like you can’t fit in because you simply see the
    other side of the argument.

    Every so often I take a breather and look back on the crazy, wonderful world of blogging that I seem enmeshed in. It is brilliant. An excuse to see the world, drink coffee over laughter, indulge in all kinds of random whims (over the years they have numbered amongst door knockers, toast, herding sheep, luxury hotel stays, setting fire to food – aka Teppenyaki, go Nursery Rhyme Church hunting, indulge in whimsy and wander way too often.

    But then I read one of those really beautifully drafted articles recommending that bloggers have a niche. So, what is my niche? Is it travel? Is it mischief? It is the mind-boggle chaos of a neverending quest for fascination satisfaction? Can it not just be me & a sprinkling of adventure? Why do we have to assign labels?

    Maybe it’s a Kiwi thing.. Or is this an expat thing? A way of seeing the world from the viewpoint of a different culture, a different upbringing that changes how you see life.
     

    Us Kiwi lot seem to have a world view that is fairly British, quite American, a wide streak of easy going Antipodean, a heart of coffee and an iron core of uniquely Kiwi attributes all our own. We’re creative, wilful, LOVE a laugh, easy-going, independent, stubborn, usually modest to a point of crazy (we even have a name for it ‘tall poppy syndrome’) and think outside the box.

    Apologies for a generic musing turning into a psychological profiling and slightly overblown population dissection, but there you go, it happened again. #downwiththeniche

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    Nine travel essentials that I won’t leave home without…

    Having zipped around the globe as much as I humanly could fit into annual leave for the last 10 years (HOW HAS IT BEEN THIS LONG ALREADY?) including 3 flights last year to my own Kiwi home – aka almost as far away as you can get from England without cozying up to Antarctic Penguins – it’s safe to say that I think I’ve almost got this travel packing thing down to an art. (I’ll have you know that it was my husband who left all of my bathroom kit behind in England on a recent trip – thankfully it was only Belfast and I could buy almost everything I needed in any case.)

    In the vain hope of wrangling yet another trip on our way home from the last one, I always leave a little bag of essentials tucked into my drawer. I like to think of them as emergency travel ninja supplies that I could pick up at a moments notice – and it’s the first stash of things that go into my suitcase.


    Well, actually, this was going to be 10 travel essentials list, because as a spectacle wearer since the age of 11 – long before fashion made wearing spectacles respectable, even cool – I would always have to tuck my glasses case and a large stash of contact lenses for special occasions and emergencies into our suitcases. However, Vision Direct approached me to share their international contact lens delivery service (taking only 2-3 days delivery to most parts of Europe) that is going to be a game changer for our holidays. We will be much less stressed about accidentally knocking our glasses off the bedside table and having to wander around beautiful places squinting in annoyance because everything is blurry…

    My carry-on essentials that I can’t enjoy travelling without are:

    Headphones – 

    I loathe those matrix-style little white buds that make people look like they are plugged into a mothership. It’s mostly because they continuously fall out of my big lugs, but also as I find the sound quality is at best fuzzy. I also hate big snoop-dogg style ones as after 3 back-to-back seasons of Gilmore Girls and Bones they irritate my ears. So, to solve my issues (practical rather than deeply-seated psychological) I bought a pair of over ear runner’s headphones which feel like you are wearing nothing at all. (On your ears.)

    Clear mini-bottles – 

    I have super, super sensitive skin, and though I love the gorgeous minis that hotels provide, often I can’t take the risk of reacting to them, so I always, always carry minis full of my tried and tested favourites. I’m even neurotic enough to even put them into my carry on for long haul flights (with full size bottles checked into the hold) just for the occasions such as our airline leaving our suitcases overnight in Australia as we arrived in New Zealand. Plus, when you’re tired and cranky, stuck in the airport as your middle long-haul flight is delayed there isn’t anything so relaxing as hopping into a lounge and washing off all of that stress and those air conditioning germs. Unfortunately occasionally my husband leaves them in the wrong country, but that’s just life…

    Travel wallet – 

    Leaving my passport tucked under the mattress of our Pisa Hotel (the safe wasn’t working) as we stepped onto the train bound for Florence has turned me into a nervous wreck who checks her purse a hundred times a day on holiday. Now, thanks to Santa, I have a beautiful leather travel wallet that keeps me organised and as I can spot it a mile away I don’t have to rustle through my carry on a million times.

    Scarf – 

    I won’t leave home without at least one of my trillion scarves, especially when flying long haul. Not only are they compact, beautifully comfortable and good for emergencies, they can turn your plane gear into a chic outfit. Even after 30 hours in a tin can.

    Snacks – 

    Hey, don’t judge, I have a friend who carries their own mustard everywhere. A literal little jar of English Mustard that she pops out at the dinner table. With that in mind, a couple of muesli bars to keep the hangry wolves at bay no matter what time zone it is doesn’t seem so strange does it?

    An empty water bottle –

    I love the window seat when travelling as getting knocked by clumsy idiots – like myself – traipsing the long aisles just as sleep comes isn’t my thing, but it does mean harassing flight attendants (or keeping my husband busy) everytime I fancy another drink of water. However, taking a bottle of water onto the plane (emptied if going through security) means that I can pop it into my seat pocket along with snacks, and get it filled up as often as I want once empty. Keeping hydrated also really helps with jet lag too (not wine, don’t believe anyone who tells you that.)

    ** nb: Cat for sale – one careful, well travelled owner **

    Handbag – 

    I will never look like a local in many of the cities we visit, BUT you are far more likely to be less hassled if you stride through areas like you’ve walked them for years and dress as such. On the Prague metro which is notorious for tourists being targeted and fined by officials for not zapping their travel passes, I just rolled straight past them. Oh, I should also have put the ‘London commuter’ expression of blank indifference on this list – it worked a treat on my first night in Lisbon where tourists kept asking me for directions… I tend to use a cross body black leather bag or a light travel handbag. (Nb: This is absolutely typical behaviour for London as well, what can I say, in my head I’m perpetually on holiday!)

    A pen – 

    Go on, laugh until we are tripping together, we reach the front of the immigration queue and you start patting your pockets, rummaging through the crud in the bottom of your bag, pockets and suitcase and I smugly hand over my pen.Who will have the last laugh then?

    Cheat’s Google Map – 

    It’s now possible to create an offline Google map that can be marked with recommended restaurants and nearby sites – this is a new discovery that we tested in Budapest. All that’s needed is a smartphone, a little time beforehand to set things up and a touch of GPS to impress the hardiest, hungriest travel companion.

    I do always somehow manage to forget toothpaste though, discovering the omission whilst clad in Pyjamas, and inevitably buy a new travel size tube that joins the selection waiting at home. Oh, and did I mention that the Vision Direct summer campaign involves a video series
    featuring a beautiful pug called Gizmo and his family on holiday in
    Spain?

    What is your most essential travel item? It’s a pug wearing sunnies right?


    Vision Direct is Europe’s largest online contact lens supplier, stocking over 1 million lenses from world leading brands and is dedicated to making the purchase of contact lenses easy, quick and affordable. It offers free, fast delivery and seven days a week customer support, as well savings of up to 42% against high street opticians.
    This post is a collaboration with Vision Direct, but all thoughts and wandering sentences are very much my own.

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