207. It’s all ships and giggles until someone sh*ts and giggles.

The classroom is a place with endless entertainment and endless blunders. For example, perhaps you might initiate a spelling race between your kids. Perhaps you might ask two of them to run to the board and spell ‘ship’ and per chance they mishear you and write the word ‘sh*t’ in big green letters on the whiteboard. At this point you will try to hide the instant reaction of belly laughing so that they don’t cotton on to the idea such a word has any associated meaning. But let’s say one of them is watching your facial expression ever so closely and sees that slight twinge of the corner of your mouth heading for a smirk before you can rectify it. And suddenly she shouts ‘sh*t’ at the top of her voice. And then before you know it, you’ve found yourself in a room with 20 seven year olds running around screaming sh*t, literally, at the top of their lungs, whilst you pray your boss doesn’t walk in before you get the situation under control.

Hypothetically, of course.

206. Get out of your comfort zone.

In a few weeks one of my best friends is making her first big move out of the UK. Being the bright spark that she is, she’s managed to land an internship for P&G and will be jetting off to Brussels to kickstart a career somewhere in the field of chemical engineering. I’d love to give you more insight into what that is, but unfortunately my brain is a little pale in comparison. I often wonder how we managed to stay friends for so long, given that when it comes down to it, a lot about us is so different – we didn’t take any of the same subjects, go to the same university and now we live on opposite sides of the planet and yet in many ways, we’re still the two shy 11 year olds on the first day of year 7 who share the same, sometimes questionable, sense of humour. Lots has changed, and lots hasn’t.  Continue reading “206. Get out of your comfort zone.”

205. You can always count on a dog for entertainment.

You know, I honestly can’t wait until the day that I find myself in an appropriate situation to get a couple of dogs to spend my days with. What brilliant creatures they are – forever loyal, much too cute and endlessly entertaining. Some of my best memories growing up feature my dog. There’s nothing quite like walking into a home where someone is always happy to see you, always ready to bound up to you, tail wagging and mouth smiling.  Continue reading “205. You can always count on a dog for entertainment.”

204. There’s adventurous living and there’s adventurous living.

Every now and again, you stumble upon someone that truly makes your mouth drop. I’m sure you recognise the people I’m talking about. The ones where you look at their lives in awe of their adventure and lifestyle. Nowadays, with the growth of social media, particularly Instagram, it’s easier than ever to fall in love with the adventures other people are having. Sometimes I feel like a slave to scrolling through my favourite accounts and watching strangers’ stories, gazing in at their lives on the road, living out of the back of vans, or photographing the most beautiful places that the world has to offer. Of course, I know our world’s aren’t necessarily how we portray them to other people, and with big lifestyle companies using Instagram to promote their gear, it’s difficult to tell how much of other people is staged for the sake of selling a product and a way of life and how much is a choice of the individual. But to an extent what’s the harm in me looking at a person and thinking, yes, that’s exactly what I want to do with my life, that’s going to be me in a couple of years, with my van and my dogs and a good camera. If nothing else, social media is doing a brilliant job of inspiring adventure. Continue reading “204. There’s adventurous living and there’s adventurous living.”

Tainan 台南

Amongst many of my friends, even those that live in Asia, a trip to Taiwan has merited only a brief few days in Taipei. For those that have stayed a little longer, the whispers of Tainan’s charm has drawn them to venture south and explore this incredible city.

Tainan’s history is an interesting one and this accounts for a lot of its architecture. It was occupied by the Dutch during the 1600s and was once the capital of this little island, before the Japanese moved it to Taipei. As such, walking down its streets can equate to walking down a long road from China, to Japan and then to Holland. Expats tend to fall in love with this city, myself included, because of its rich cultural heritage, its beautiful temples and its seemingly forever sunny weather.

But there is one other thing that attracts locals and expats alike to this city and that’s quite simply the food. Tainan is rumoured to have the best food in Taiwan and the sweetest food throughout the whole of Asia. In fact, Tainan’s occupants hold the prize for the highest rate of diabetes in the whole of Taiwan and once you have a chopstickful of anything on any given street, you’ll immediately understand why. In fact, I have multiple friends dotted around Taiwan originally from Tainan and upon telling them I was going, the first thing every one of them did was send me a list of things to eat and where to find them. Continue reading “Tainan 台南”

203. A photo (or two) a day means friendships will stay… kind of.

A few months ago, when my friend and I were wandering around Taipei, an older woman stopped us in our tracks and started jabbering away in Chinese. At the time, my Chinese was pretty dire, but I was pretty impressed to have managed to maintain a twenty minute conversation with her where we both had a vague idea about what the other was talking about. The conversation ended with her asking for my number, which I not so hesitantly handed over in the hope that I would then be able to get a little bit more Chinese practice in.

Continue reading “203. A photo (or two) a day means friendships will stay… kind of.”

202. Carpe diem.

A few days ago, one of my closest friends from university lost her mum. I can’t begin to imagine what that must feel like, but I hope that she knows her mum raised two beautiful girls and was one of the kindest women I had ever had the pleasure to spend my time with. The world has truly lost one of its best kinds of people.

If there’s anything that the loss of someone you care about hammers home, it’s that things, all things, don’t last forever. Today, I feel, more than ever, aware of my own mortality. Rather selfishly, it’s easy not to think about death too much when you’re watching it on the news, but when it starts striking closer to home, starts toying with people you care about, something inside you starts to feel a little nervous, a little panicked. Continue reading “202. Carpe diem.”

200. Base your happiness on things that can last forever.

I know it’s a corny thing to say but in honour of not really giving a second thought to that, I’ll say it anyway, I’m happy – truly, thoroughly and endlessly happy.

And once upon a time that might have scared me a little. I’ve read the books, I’ve heard the passing comments – nobody can possibly be this happy all the time. It can all change in a heartbeat..

But then, as my family and I were driving the east coast of Taiwan and I watched the cliffs of the island disappear into opal waters, some good music in my ears and some good people by my side I realised that maybe this kind of happiness can last forever. You see, there will always be mountains and there will always be clouds to coat them. There will always be the ocean and there will always be sunshine to make it sparkle. And there will always be good people and good music and good, real, honest love in the world.

And so, as it happens, I’m 100% certain that this kind of happiness is untouchable.

 

199. Visit Green Island, Taiwan. 

Most people who have visited Taiwan aren’t shy of telling you how breathtakingly beautiful the east coast can be. Picture mountains seemingly sliding into the big blue Pacific, gorges steeped in silver stone, sparkling water lapped by white horses and the occasional thrill seeking surfer – if you’d have told me Taiwan was this two years ago, I might have even had to check on a map to see where it was before laughing at the prospect that nobody I knew had ever stepped a foot there, and seemingly nobody had anything to say about it at all. Standing on the water shore of Taitung county on Taiwan’s east coast, you’ll see Green island, and if you’re like me and curiosity draws you to islands like a moth to a flame, then you’ll be straight on the boat to visit it. I can promise you that it won’t let you down. Rent yourself a scooter, do a few laps, explore its ragged cliffs and caves, its sandy beaches and its beautiful coral filled with all the fish you’ll liken to Finding Nemo and more. 

Taiwan, you did good. Again.