Silent Treatment.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I'm clearly not the only one feeling the pressure of work/dissertation/moving! My dissertation deadline is mid-September so rather than trying to churn out a month's worth of posts and scheduling them to go up in the meantime, I'm just going to take a short unofficial-but-pretty-official hiatus until that sucker is signed, sealed, delivered. A little break will help me from getting distracted and wanting to do fun blog things when I should be writing about academic things, not to mention save y'all from reading "taking a break from my dissertation...I've been at the library," etc. one more time.

See y'all in about 4 weeks! (Eeek.) 
Feel free to send some good luck vibes my way. 

Bristol Cathedral + Bristol Central Library.

Chance of Balloons.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is arguably Bristol's biggest event of the year and Europe's biggest balloon event. Four days of colourful balloons gracing the skyline morning and evening, what's not to like? Bristolian souvenirs are always decked out with hot air balloons and artists and photographers can't help but capture the magic of the weekend.

Friday evening, I trotted over to Brandon Hill and found a grassy spot along with a number of spectators, picnics and all!

There was a bit of a delay, assuming some sort of wind caution, so I sat there for quite a while people dog watching before the first balloon peeked out from the trees covering the Clifton side of the landscape. A few more followed and before we knew it, over 100 balloons were making their way across the sky! All colours and even shapes, it was a spectacular thing to see.

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you - that is in fact...a minion balloon.

On Saturday, I planned to meet up with some friends after work out at Ashton Court, where all the balloons take off from and where the famous night glow takes place. The festival site includes food and live music, making it a really fun event for the city and visitors. However, I was not the only one with this idea. Ashton Court is about a 45 minute walk from central Bristol on a good day with no detours - but the sheer number of people visiting the festival was overwhelming and for the first time in its 37 years, people were being turned away from entering the site. They closed the car park and suspended the bus services from the centre, asking people traveling on-foot to turn around and head back home. My friends had left a little earlier in the day and said it took them over three hours to get there. Yikes! Getting off work a little later than usual may have saved me a long walk to the site just to be rejected. Since this is the first time it's ever happened, I'm sure something will be changed next year in order to prevent something like this happening again - it's hard to blame the organisers, the chaos was so unexpected.

If you find yourself in Bristol in early August, consider yourself lucky! The weekend was such a treat.

Have you ever ridden in a hot-air balloon? I never have but now I kind of want to!

Would You Rather // Travel Edition!

Friday, August 7, 2015

 I spotted this "Would You Rather: Travel Edition" tag over on Unlocking Kiki and thought it was so fun I'd give it a go and give my brain a break from dissertation writing!

Disclaimer - you will be reading the word "dissertation" a lot in the next few weeks, turn it into a drinking game if you must.

Travel or focus on your career at the age of 25?
So I guess I'm pulling a loophole on the very first question, but I promise I'll be cut throat for the remaining questions! I think there's a big misconception that travel means being void of a career and responsibility. Sure there are plenty of jobs out there that have gruelling schedules that hardly give you time to sleep, let alone get on a plane to some faraway land! But at the same time, travel costs money and time. Nowadays there are so many careers out there that allow you to travel, some even encourage by sending you out on business trips, that you I don't think you have to lose out on either travel or career. Having a career is something very important to me, but just like many other hobbies and interests, it doesn't mean that I have to completely sacrifice one for the other. I think by choosing a career that allows you to travel or even incorporates it, you get the best of both worlds. *Hannah Montana voice* 

Have a $10,000 budget for a holiday and fly first class for $5,000 and stay in mediocre accommodation, or spend $1,000 on economy and stay in luxury accommodation?
Luxury accommodation, without a doubt! Flying first class would be amazing but I fall asleep so easily on planes even scrunched up in my little economy seat that I probably wouldn't even reap the benefits. Plus - the plane ride is only a small portion of the holiday, I would much rather stay somewhere luxurious during my stay wherever I'm going.
Never take the train or never take an airplane again?
Well taking an airplane is the only way I get to see my family & friends back home so I have to pick that one! Although airplanes have the upper-hand when it comes to long distances, I much prefer the experience on trains. The whole journey is much more relaxed and you get to see the scenery outside up close! Looking forward to the day they develop ultra-high speed trains that can go across oceans in a few hours. 
Stay in a palm hut along the seashore for seven days or stay in a log cabin in the woods for one month?
Both sound pretty great, but I could use some Vitamin D and sea at the moment - I really haven't done tropical destinations in the past few years as I've been opting for cultural/city ones, but I'm missing palm trees! 

Wai'anapanapa State Park in Maui, Hawaii in 2008 (this has clearly been my go-to travel pose from the beginning)
Be left behind in the bush on an African safari or be left behind in the water on a scuba trip?
Uhhh, YIKES. I love the sea and don't mind deep water or anything like that, but being stranded in the middle of the ocean would be terrifying, not to mention scuba gear can be really heavy! They both have the threat of being eaten but being in the water has the additional threat of being exhausted and then drowning and sinking and never being found. I feel like I would have a much better chance of survival in the African bush, hopefully I would be stranded with a water bottle or something... 
Have an awesome job in a mediocre city or a mediocre job in an awesome city?
Argh...mediocre job in an awesome city. I often have this dilemma, being from a small college town in Texas - which I definitely wouldn't call "mediocre" but even though it has good jobs, really good people, etc. it's not exactly the most exciting of places outside of football season! I would rather live somewhere awesome that had lots of cool places to escape to after work.
Be able to teleport to places you’ve already been or only be able to teleport to places you’ve never been before?
At this point in my life, I'd have to go with teleporting to places I've already been! It would be so nice to be able to just zap myself home for a few hours and spend time with my family and to get to go to all those events & holidays I've missed by living far away from home. Even being able to zap to work and skip the morning commute would be awesome! And to be quite honest, if I could magically appear home whenever I had a craving for tacos, that'd be ideal. 

Airports it is...for now.

Be stuck on a seven-hour delay, or turn up at the airport and realize your flight is tomorrow?
I'd actually go with the seven-hour delay because I'm optimistic about getting some sort of apology perk from the airline, plus depending on the airport - there's quite a lot of activities. I once had a flight cancelled when I was already at JFK and didn't have enough money for a taxi back into Manhattan or a hotel, so I just camped out all night until my flight the next morning! I was miserable around 4am but I did manage to tough it out and I even live-tweeted the whole thing to try and find something humorous about the whole ordeal. 
Be able to play every musical instrument that you touch or speak every language that you hear?
Definitely speak every language I hear! That would be so cool to be able to have a conversation with anyone in the world, and would have saved me from a lot of awkward encounters in a few countries. 

Would you rather travel along the ocean floor or take a trip to outer space?
Outer space! I love all things about the ocean so I wish I could articulate the reasoning for this but given the chance, how could you turn down going to space? 
Travel back in time to meet your ancestors or forward to meet your descendants?
Travel back to meet my ancestors! I think it'd be so interesting to learn more about where my family came from and how we've been shaped into who we are. Plus I don't really know much about my family history other than I'm vaguely just Irish/English.
Have in-flight WiFi but no legroom (like, zero inches) or in-flight legroom but no WiFi?
Gimme dat legroom! I love WiFi as much as the next person, but I can survive a flight without it. Books, y'all. 

Be able to eat anything and any quantity of food with no negative health effects or be refreshed and well rested after only three hours of sleep?
This is a tough one because I think I would have a milkshake every day if I could, but I'm also such a big sleeper. I'll try going to bed early and will still wake up 9 hours later completely groggy, wondering what year it is, what country I'm in, etc. Being refreshed after 3 hours of sleep would be so nice.
Spend Valentine’s Day in Paris OR St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland? 
(*I stole this question from Round 2 of this tag from Shane at Sea Salt Secrets and subbed it for the original last question because it was giving me a major existential crisis.)
St. Patrick's Day in Ireland for SURE! My Valentine's Day style is drinking wine and eating pizza with my other single girl friends and we can do that just about anywhere. I have Irish roots so partying with my fellow leprechauns would be awesome. 

St. Patrick's Day in D.C. 

Let me know some of your answers to the questions or do the whole tag on your blog and pop a link below!

UK Bucket List.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

As my dissertation deadline begins to creep in (hi August - what?!) my free time is consequently dwindling down. June and July went by in a blink of an eye with whirlwind holidays and starting a new job! August, on the other hand, will be a month of moving (more on that later) on top of researching and writing like mad, avoiding last-minute freak outs the best I can.

Gone are the days of jumping on a train with an adventure plotted out, in are the days trading off work with the library. But hey, this doesn't mean that my mind isn't free to wander!

While I loved my romp around mainland Europe with my bestie and my bucket list of places around the world continues to grow at an alarming rate, lately I've been really itching for some more exploring in my own backyard. Some of my favourite adventures since embarking on this whole "expat" thing have been right here in the good 'ol UK! I've wandered through near-ancient ruins in Glastonbury, escaped to Lacock an embarrassing number of times, visited the town coined "the most charming village in England", breathed in the seaside air in Brighton as well as the Isle of Wight, and so much more.

That being said, there is still so much of the UK I've yet to see. I created a secret Pinterest board (follow me here!) nearly a year ago, with photos and links to place here in the UK that I've yet to go to but I'd love to visit. Here's a non-extensive list with a few of the most lust-worthy ones...

1. Durdle Door + Lulworth Cove, Dorset.
Located about two miles from each other on the Jurassic Coast near the village of West Lulworth are two of the dreamy seaside spots I've ever seen. With its low pollution and clear skies, Dorset is one of the best places in the country to stargaze, and in the sunshine you can enjoy the delights of the ocean with fellow visitors staying in nearby cottages. Who says England doesn't know beaches?
Photograph by Stephen Banks

2. Liverpool
Liverpool seems to be a place that speaks for itself. The birthplace of the Beatles and the much-loved Scouse accent, I can't believe I've still never visited this vibrant city! It also seems like a great hub to use to see other nearby places I've never been - Northern Wales (eyes on you, Snowdonia and Portmerion Village), Manchester, and so forth.
3. Yorkshire
Okay so this is a *slight* cop out because A) Yorkshire is blimmin' massive. B) I have actually been here before - I spent a night or two in York when I was 13 on our way from London to Edinburgh. But I really don't remember much other than drinking tea at Betty's, I swear! Yorkshire is so big it's actually divided into subregions. The area is booming with history, culture and practically its own language.
4. Chepstow Castle, Wales
This place seems like a must-do for a few reasons... A) It's a flippin' castle. Built in 1067. They just don't get old. B) You can WALK across the River Wye from Wales to England in a matter of minutes! How cool is that?! C) Across the river in England lies a teeny village called Tutshill, which happens to be the childhood home of JK Rowling. That just seals the deal, doesn't it?
5. Canterbury
I've really yet to venture to the "other" side of London. I live West, have visited South, and have gone way up North - but the East coast of England? Not so much. I've eyeballed photos of places in Norfolk and Suffolk but have yet to really narrow down any destinations, which leads me to heading a bit further down to Kent, namely the little city of Canterbury. Less than an hour's journey from Central London makes it popular with tourists and is one of the most-visited spots in the UK, which would usually make me raise an eyebrow - but everyone I know who has visited has fallen in love. With a cathedral, an historic abbey, and the remains of a castle, Canterbury seems to offer a bit of everything.

6. Isle of Skye, Scotland
Lord of the Rings called, it wants its landscape back. This isle is the largest and one of the most northern islands in Scotland. With a population density of 6 people per square km - compared to 4,000+ per square km in Bristol, this is a remote and mystical getaway. My day trip around the Scottish Highlands back in May was bursting with history and stunning scenery, and the Isle of Skype seems like an incredible place to spend some time with nature.
7. Cornwall
I'm a big fan of being by the sea, in case you haven't picked up on that from this list. What I fondly call "England's foot," Cornwall is one of the ultimate seaside spots in Britain. Famous for beaches that look like they should be on the Mediterranean, surfers, oysters, cream teas, Cornish pastys, white washed cobbled villages, and medieval castles on towering rocky islands, like St. Michaels Mount off the coast of Penzance. A drive from London to the tip of Cornwall, Land's End, will rack up at about 6 hours, depending on traffic, so taking an overnight sleeper train and then renting a car is a popular option. I'll have to do some serious plotting to figure out the easiest villages to reach from Bristol!
Welp, back to the library I go - apologies if I give blogging the radio silence treatment over the next few weeks, but dissertation crunch time is in full-swing! C'mon mid-September....

Do you have a bucket list of places to go that aren't too far from home? UK natives, any places you think I should add?

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