To my best friend 

To my best friend

When most people ask you a question they listen to respond. But when you ask, you listen to understand! You always ask, you always listen, you always understand.

You’re not afraid to tell the truth! When my makeup is wrong, or my armpits are hairy, you don’t hesitate to let me know. You come to my rescue and sort me out, even if that does mean shaving them yourself.

You’re stubborn as hell and refuse to say sorry. But I know deep down how much you really care and how hard you can love!

You’re always there, no matter where in the world I am. You console me when I’m heartbroken and make me laugh when I’m down.

I hope you’re drinking a glass of fizz, surrounded by flowers and feeling so unbelievably loved!

You’re my best friend Annabelle, and I will never ever forget you!

Advertisement

My Season Continued

The Ski Season lasted 4 and a half months in total, and the time absolutely flew by!

We spent our mornings cooking and cleaning.

We spent our afternoons skiing or sleeping.

We spent our evenings drinking.

Throughout our time there we got into quite a routine in terms of nights out. Monday night was shot night. Our chance to buy a shot of toffee vodka for €1.50 and to hopefully get the winning raffle ticket that landed you with a brand new pair of skis…

We never won. We convinced ourselves the raffle was rigged, but insisted on trying harder so the €1.50 shots turned into a €40 bottle…We never won!

Tuesday night was always a big one. The night before day off meant everyone was out at the local sports bar, where the live music would get people stripping off and crowd surfing…I’m not sure a sweaty man back is anyone’s cup of tea?! But still those nights were always the best!

On a Wednesday we would wake up feeling like complete and utter dogshite. My routine would involve devouring a coffee and a croissant whilst tying to convince the boys I wasn’t quite ready for another beer. My arguments only got me so far and it wasn’t long before we were back on it. Our standard day off involved a bit of skiing followed by a trip to the Folie Douce. The only way I’ve been able to describe this place is to say it’s an outdoor nightclub during the day on the top of a mountain! You stand on tables in your ski gear, whilst DJs and dancers blast music into your ears and spray champagne into your face. It is pure madness! The Folie was always followed by everyone attempting to ski down the mountain to the next bar where the Apres would continue, only this time involving a slide to get to the toilet…After this we would ski down the rest of the way (by this time its dark) to the town centre, where the drinking, dancing and fantastic live music would continue! The second part of the week would always be slightly more relaxed, with just a few beers in the local bar and endless games of shit head.

So now I’ve convinced you all I’m an alcoholic, I have to state that it wasn’t all about the booze!

We had some incredible meals whilst we were away, including the most amazing steaks and an entire block of Mont D’or Cheese. Other non alcohol based activities included snowboarding, spa days and snowmobiling, all of which made the season even better and even more adventurous. The snowboarding was a huge challenge and I fell over more times than I can count, but I had such a laugh doing it and would love to master it one day. The spa days were a luxurious treat that allowed us to escape from reality and pretend we were on holiday ourselves. Finally the snowmobiling was just as cool as it sounds! The speed you can get up to on those things is insane and every single one of us came back with a huge grin on our face!

I love trying out new things and going on new adventures and this season was the perfect way for me to do just that. I had the most amazing time, met the most amazing people and now have the most amazing memories!

 

A season abroad! 

Ever since I was young I had always wanted to do a season. The thought of skiing for 5 months and living in the mountains gave me seriously excited goose bumps!
After a frantic start to the season (running through the airport to catch the flight I so nearly missed) I was on my way to La Plagne and settled into a minibus full of my future colleagues. 

For the first week we were taught how to clean toilets, make beds and cook meals, all of which seemed blindingly obvious yet unbelievably helpful. I met the people I would spend the season with and we soon became the 3Vs team!

The challenges came along on the first day when I had to jump into a French van and drive into the town (on the wrong side of the road). I soon got the hang of it, but going to open the door every time you need to change gear can be a little terrifying at times! Nevertheless I soon grew to love Vanessa (yes I named the van) and now I can’t imagine driving in any other way. 

After training week we headed to our resorts to settle into our chalets and prepare for the first week of guests. As soon as the season started it became non stop. We drink a lot, ski a lot, listen to live music, wake up early, go to bed late and eat a lot of food! It took a while to get into a rhythm, but as soon as you adjust to new patterns everything fits nicely into place. 

The skiing here is incredible. The 3Vs offers a huge variety, from the relaxing blues to the muscle screaming blacks. Not to mention the off piste! I’m pleased to say my skiing has improved and I’m loving each and every minute of it! 

I’m hoping to take on some new challenges whilst out here, including falling on my Arse on a snowboard. I’ll let you know how it goes… 

A holiday at home

It has been a little over 3 months since I landed back in the UK and I have had a lovely few months catching up with friends, earning some pennies and continuing this adventure that we call life! 

I was feeling slightly apprehensive about returning to normal life. I’d had the most exciting 6 months visiting new countries and making new friends and I was unsure how my mind would adjust to normality. 

Yet the reality is that these past three months have been far from normal. 

Yes I had to earn my keep by working in the local pub and writing for my new sister in law. But I also went on holiday to Portgual with a fantastic group of friends, where we did nothing but eat, drink and sunbathe. I had a friend come and visit from the US, who brought out the tourist in me, allowing me to visit London and Cambrige as if I had never been before. 

Most importantly I used the past three months to catch up with friends, old and new. Countless dinners and nights in the pub allowed us to relearn about each other’s lives and reminisce about the past. It has been more like a holiday at home than returning to normality, and what a holiday it was!

Before I went travelling the most important thing to me was happiness. While this is still an important part of my life, I have come to realise that happiness is not an end state but part of the journey. This year has provided me with some very difficult challenges, yet each one faced has strengthened my soul and made me feel tougher than ever. 

So now I am off on a new adventure. It won’t be easy. But let’s face it, it wouldn’t be much fun if it was! 

The Homecoming

It is a strange experience coming back into the real world after nearly six months of travelling. Getting over the jet lag, doing endless piles of laundry and finding myself in a strange position of unemployment. 

I arrived back two weeks ago, and it still remains slightly alien to me. The weather is confusing, the sleep pattern is off and everything appears a little blurred. 

But while adjusting back to normality is difficult, it is also rather fun. Catching up with friends, sharing stories about my adventure and finally being able to use a hair straightener all make readjusting that little bit easier. 

I shared an article a week before my flight home talking about the difficulties of settling back down. I was worried that I would be down about no longer exploring the world or that I would lose the person I had worked so hard to become. But coming home is just another part of my adventure and I’m not worried anymore. 

So how do I prevent myself from getting the post travel blues? Easy. I start planning! 

Family time!

After an 8 hour bus ride from San Francisco I arrived back in LA looking somewhat tired and deshevalled. Once I met Harry and Alex at Union Station we headed back to Venice where we spent the weekend relaxing on the sofa watching Law and Order.

Joe arrived into LA on the Monday night and we spent the next few days drinking beer and catching up. We spent a day exploring Hollywood, wondering around the Walk of Fame and enjoying the view at Hooters. We also checked out the Santa Monica pier and took in the sights at the Griffith Observatory. It was a wonderfully touristy few days!

The following weekend we headed over to Vegas for Harry’s stag. The lights, casinos and bars make Vegas one hell of a party and we loved every minute.

Three hotels, lots of gambling, free slot machine drinks, a trip to Hoover Dam and a pool party with a free cabana created a fantastic weekend and one hell of a hangover!

The week of the wedding was a hectic one. Seeing mum and dad after 5 months was wonderful and emotional and the day of the wedding was even more so. It was a beautiful day full of drinks, food, dancing and tears. And at the end of it all my brother gained a wife and I gained a sister!

I am blessed to have had such incredible experiences over the past few months and the past few weeks have been a wonderful end to an unforgettable journey.

Exploring The West Coast

My journey in Asia had finally come to an end and it was time to embark on a new adventure in the consumerist capital of the world: The USA!

After 3 flights and over 20 gruelling hours of travelling I arrived at LAX ready to once again meet my big bro and his Travel Fashion Fiance. I was scooped up at the airport and taken to their apartment on Venice beach. It was a quick two day pit stop in LA before flying north to Oregon. Within this time I gorged on incredible foods including tacos, sushi, fresh crab, shrimp, and the infamous ‘In n Out’ burger! I walked along the boardwalk, sampled local beers and drank away the jet lag…It was a fleeting visit, but a fantastic start to my American Adventure!

I headed north to Oregon where I spent a week with my friend Sarah who I met in Thailand. It was a fantastic introduction to Oregon as I was invited to Sarah’s cousins wedding in Corvallis. We helped with last minute wedding preparations and enjoyed a beautiful ceremony and reception.

After the festivities Sarah took me back to her home town where I met her family and visited the awesome Coffee Cottage! We ran up and down the sand dunes at the coast; jumped into icy rivers at the three pools; watched movies at the drive in and went wine tasting in the countryside!

At the weekend we headed to Portland, where we stayed with Sarah’s aunt in an artist studio. We ate fantastic sushi and wondered through the Saturday Market sampling local delighta. In the evening it was time to say goodbye to Sarah (an amazing host) and meet up with my couch surfing host Andy.

I spent the rest of the weekend with Andy and three other couchsurfers. We stayed in his room in an artist collective (a bit like halls) and explored a little more of the city. We spent the evening on a Butte looking out over Portland and spent the following day bin diving at the Goodwill outlet (some might call it Good Will Hunting). In the evening two of the surfers, Joe and Amy, made us a British pie for dinner, which we consumed as one big family. It was a wonderful introduction to the couchsurfing world!

The following day I jumped on a train to head south to San Francisco. The 17 hour journey was not as bad as expected, and a spacious seat, some good books and a couple of beers was all I needed to get me through.

I hit San Francisco at 10am and found myself completely lost in the middle of a bustling city. I eventually got my bearings and headed into Noe Valley to meet my second couchsurfing host, Regina. I was welcomed in with open arms and was given a whole bed to myself!

After some lunch and a much needed shower I explored Noe Valley and Mission District, taking in the culture and incredible architecture. The following day I jumped on a bike tour and ventured across the amazing Golden Gate Bridge. I met two Welsh girls and spent time with them shopping, eating cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory and Clam Chowder on Pier 39!

I have loved every minute of my West Coast Journey but am ready to head back to LA and await the arrival of the rest of the Jarvis clan!

Goa!

After a delayed flight, a few airport beers and a cheeky bottle of wine on the plane we finally landed in Goa. I collected my bags and said goodbye to Ben to then be greeted by a lovely man with an IDEX card waiting at arrivals.

As we drove down to Majorda I looked out of the window at my new surroundings. Similar to Indonesia, Goa is covered in lushious green mountains and rice paddies. Unlike Rajasthan it is relatively peaceful with fewer cars and cows on the road.

As we drove closer to the camp I became more and more nervous about the coming weeks, the work involved and the people I would meet. We entered a complex where are number of volunteers were lazing around on hammocks…Once again the lack of noise was somewhat unsettling.
After meeting the other volunteers (but no one in charge) it was obvious that there was a serious lack of organisation or system in place. No one knew what was going on and we waited til the following day to find out what our projects would be. So we enjoyed a group dinner and got to know each other a little better.

I spent the remainder of the week redecorating a children’s classroom in the slum area of Majorda. We painted the walls and cleaned out the floor, creating a useable space for the kids to enjoy. The work was really good fun and seeing the end product gave me a huge sense of achievement.

At the weekend a group of us headed to Panjim (the capital of Goa). Here I reunited with Ben and Polly from the tour. We went out for lunch, checked out a local market and then headed to the cinema to watch Minions in 3D…It was awesome! At night we headed to a bar where I had my first beef burger in over a month, drank cocktails and got down with the locals. It was a fantastic weekend and a welcome break from camp life.

I spent the last week redecorating a new classroom and teaching the children English. It was a fantastic experience that reminded me why I work in the third sector. We spent evenings at Boomerang (the only local bar) and afternoons at the beach, where we ran in and out of the sea and bartered with the locals!

I had a fantastic two weeks in Goa, meeting new people, making a difference and dancing a lot.

My time in Asia has been life changing, but im ready to head
West to the big US to eat some meat and see my family!

India pt 3

We ventured onward to Jaipur, the capital of Rajisthan to emerse ourselves in even more Indian culture. Here we visited Amber Fort, where we came across monkeys and elephants and learnt some of the city’s history. In the evening we went to the local cinema to watch a Bollywood film. Despite it being in Hindi the film was really entertaining and relatively easy to understand. It also inspired our choreographed group dance that will no doubt be featured in the charts…

Jaipur was our last stop in Rajasthan before heading out to Agra. This wonderful place is known for hosting one of the Seven Wonders, the Taj Mahal.

The story of the Taj is as romantic as Romeo and Juliet, as it was built out of a Mogul Emperors love for his wife. It took 22 years, thousands of men and a lot of money, and beautifully expresses a story of love and loss. The building itself is an arcitectural dream, with detailed carvings and perfect symetry.

Our last destination before heading back to Dehli was Varanasi, a city where Hindus go to cremate their loved ones along the river Ganges. One word I would use to describe this place is powerful. Floating along the river whilst watching bodies burning along the banks waa heartbreaking yet inspiring. As Hindus believe in reincarnation, they do not fear death but simply celebrate moving onto a new life. As I dropped my Lotus Flower into the water I had tears in my eyes and felt an unbelievable sense of peace.

We ended the trip where it all began. With a little more knowledge of the city, me, Juan and Becky ventured out for the day to barter with the locals and have some cheeky drinks in Conaught Place. We ended up in the local market selling jeans and taking photos with the stall owners! The day was made even better as we found ‘My Bar’, which felt like walking into a club in London. Despite the fact that there are huge levels of gender inequality across India, this club was full of both men and women simply having a good time!

That evening we had our last supper as a group, involving chocolate cake and fireworks. It was so sad to say goodbye to such a fantastic group of people. As I drove from the airport on the first day my mind was running wild with worry as to who I was going to be spending 20 days with. But the group made the trip and I felt a huge sense of loss when we had to say goodbye!

India pt 2

The following day we hopped on a train to Jaisalmer. This golden city is absolutely stunning, and so different from our previous destination. We started with an orientation round the lake and learnt a brief history of Hinduism, followed by a fantastic rooftop dinner. We then headed back to the hotel loaded with a few bottles of gin for a cheeky room party with games and Indian dancing. The next morning we ventured back into the city to a fort where we weived in and out of lanes and dodged cows along the way.

We took a local bus to Jodpur where we visited an enormous fort and went shopping in a local market. On the way back we were caught in an unbelievable storm, which made for an epic tuk tuk journey. We then went into a Muslim restaurant where we had Thali for dinner. This never ending feast allows you to taste a range of dishes, all of which are flooded with flavour!

After our adventure in Jodpur we took another local bus (this time with aircon, woop!) to Udaipur.

Udaipur…The city of free time! We started with a party in the hotel and ended with Polly falling through a roof. In this fantastic place I had my palm read, received a henna tattoo, got creative with a painting class and learnt to cook some wonderful Indian dishes. During the afternoon me, Sarah, Becky and Juan headed to the palace where we had our very own photo shoot…leading to a few odd looks from the locals. In the evening we sat down to watch a local show involving dancing, puppets, fire and a lot of balancing of things on heads…It was impressive to say the least.

Pushkar (famously known for its Camel Fair) was another bustling city, filled with bikes, cows, dogs and of course camels. Here we wondered about the town and bartered with the locals for some cheap suverneirs. At night we took a dip in the hotel pool and practiced our snooker skills whilst drinking Masala Chai.

When in India one should always try to experience local village life. As a group we stayed in a small village called Tordi where we learnt about the cast systems of India and ate local food provided by a small family. At night we partied with another tour group and enjoyed food in our very own rooftop restaurant.