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21 June 2019

Nobody Warned Me About 23

For some reason, turning 23 felt like a milestone way beyond that of 21.

I really felt like I was in my twenties. Or as I grew up hearing it be referred to, my prime.

This was the age I longed to be when I was an awkward 15-year-old.

To me, I just knew being in your twenties would be nothing but brunch-ing, a fashionable career (almost always pictured to be magazine journalism) and a loving 6ft2 boyfriend who is a doctor/lawyer/teacher [enter preferred profession here].

Yes, I watched a lot of romcoms.

But, in some ways, it really is what I imagined.

I spend FAR too much money on brunching, and I’ve even dated the 6ft-something professionals who are now nothing but a nickname in my phone notes.

However, what I wasn’t prepared for a year ago, was for 23 to be the age people start asking, “why?”.

Instead of supporting you, encouraging you to go off and travel and see and do things to expand your horizons, you’re forced into a box of questions on repeat.

 “But what about when you come home?” 
 "But how will that look on your CV?” 
 “But why not just take long holidays to see the world!” 

It feels as if the excuse of ‘it’s fine, you’re young', floated away at midnight on my 23rd birthday, and instead, the weight of expectation walked through the door.

I can’t blame anyone, friends or family, for asking these questions, because they’re genuinely concerned.

They’re questions which have been built in a world where we were brought up to believe the our twenties was our prime - but only if you fit the ‘great job, city life, lots of cocktail parties, sexy-tall-boyfriend’ box.

What wasn’t posed to us, was the reality that came alongside those brunches and dates and high-flying jobs.

Fighting tooth and nail for low-pay positions, sitting for hours on the underground with no air-con, choosing between the quality of an apartment, the cost of rent, and the length of your commute.

And, well, I’m here to say it’s basically a huge overestimation of real life.

Which is why I decided two weeks ago, when I turned 24, that I would be spending this year living the life I want to be living, rather than the one I think I should be living.

(According to romcoms/relatives/you name it).

I recently went for a 24th birthday dinner with some old school friends, and was sat at one end of a table with two mums, two home-owners, and another friend who drank copious amounts of wine with me.

We’re all the same age, we’re all from the same place, but our goals, our lives, they’re no longer the same. Our primes will be completely different.

We’ll peak at different ages and thank goodness for that, because wouldn’t life be so boring if we were all trundling along at the same pace?

Just a couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post on why I was staying put for a year in England.

I was doing what I thought I had to do to be successful.

I wanted to be living my ‘best’ life as it had always been posed to me. I was offered well-paid jobs, I traveled up to London every weekend. I went on ridiculous dates and brunched practically every Sunday.

I was on the brink of settling down and yet every week, every month, I looked forward and thought “Okay, this is the month I’ll feel fulfilled, this is the month I’ll stop wanting to get away.

And that feeling never came, because it was a feeling I saw in others and thought I’d find in myself.

But those people aren’t me.

So, where am I writing this blog post from?

The west coast of France.

To be frank about it, I just realised that my best life is whatever I decide I want it to be.

Success isn’t measured by the job you have or how much your life compares to a Ryan Gosling film. It's defined by how happy you are.

And if you’re not currently peak happiness, what are you doing in that moment to achieve said happiness.

Need to move back home for a bit to save up or get stable? That isn’t failure.

Not working in a 9-5 office job? Absolutely not failure.

Realised you want to quit the career you thought you really wanted? You’re not failing.

Thought you wanted to travel but decided two weeks in it wasn't for you? Still. Not. Failure.

Maybe your twenties will be your prime, or maybe it won't be. But don’t waste time trying fit the ‘best life’ other people built for you.

My friend messaged me when I landed and said, “I’m genuinely happy you’ve done this. It’s where you are best.”

And he was right, it’s just taken me a long old time to realise that.

Love, Alice x
Blogger Widgets

2 May 2019

The Ruling Against Caster Semenya Would Never Apply to Men

I never had any desire to become a sports champion when I was growing up. But what if, when I was 10 years old, I decided it was my dream to become a triathlete.

I wouldn’t know, aged ten, what my body would eventually amount to. 

Now 5 foot 8, but all torso and boobs which attempt to knock me out running down the stairs – let alone jumping hurdles – I’d be at a distinct disadvantage to the women who have longer legs than me, who do not have weapons of mass destruction constricted across their chest night and day. 

My only option would be to work harder, train harder and try to compete at the level of those who are more anatomically suited to the sport, and envy the female who – through no choice of her own – has legs to the sky.

What if, instead of a triathlete, I decided I wanted to become a basketball player? 

This time, being fairly tall for a girl would come at an advantage. Through training and talent, I might reach a regional then national team.

 I walk onto the court during my first match, and there, opposite me, is a female who is six foot three. Clearly, she has a distinct advantage in a sport which is played largely above head level.

Now tell me what the difference is between these two examples, and that of Caster Semenya, who was recently told she’d have to take medication to reduce her levels of testosterone, in order to compete in a sport that she had worked for years and years to be the best at. 

When Caster Semenya decided to become an athlete, she was pre-pubescent, she didn’t know the biological advantage she would have on the other women, she didn’t work any less hard. Semenya could have been a teacher, or a police officer, or a doctor. But instead, she trained and pushed herself and her body, to become an athlete. 

Her testosterone levels are a natural biological advantage, the same as height, the same as long legs, which she had no control over and no knowledge of, when she began to compete.

Usain Bolt’s 195cm (6ft 5) structure is the envy of all runners not blessed by height. Michael Phelps, at 6ft 4, has a 6ft 7 wingspan. Their physical benefits are as clear, and as natural, as the testosterone benefits held by Caster Semenya. 

And yet, it is Semenya who the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) has decided to control. You can’t control height, or wingspan, or leg length. But you can control testosterone, so according to the CAS, we should be controlling it.

But only in women, of course.

This ruling only applies to female athletes. Men with an anomalously high level of testosterone have not been told to humiliatingly reduce the natural status of their body. 

Men, do not have to take performance-altering drugs to ‘level out the playing field’. 

It is only women who are being targeted, controlled, and altered to fit within this box, in the same harrowing, familiar way they have always had to give up the autonomy of their own bodies to others.

If you type in Caster Semenya to Google, you are met by searches such as ‘Caster Semenya intersex’ and ‘Caster Semenya transgender’. 

Caster Semenya is a female by sex and gender, simply born with higher testosterone levels.

The CAS’s justification, is that discrimination against some women is ‘necessary’ to protect other women. 

Not-so-surprisingly, the women it protects is white, cis, female athletes. Black, trans and intersex women are once again targets of regulations which white, cis, female athletes are immune to.

The ruling against Caster Semenya is a ruling against minorities. 

It is a ruling which justifies removing a woman’s agency due to not fitting industry standards. 

It is a ruling against natural advantages which are celebrated in men. 

And it is once again evidence, that women around the world are viewed as controllable pawns in sport, and in life.  

26 March 2019

Why I'm Facing My Fear and Staying Put

When I started middle school, I decided I wanted to learn an instrument. 

A real instrument. 

I was nine, and playing Amazing Grace on the recorder just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore.

Which is how I found myself, just a couple of months later, sweating as I heaved my school bag, PE Kit, a cello and a trombone into my classroom every Wednesday morning.

I played both instruments for a total of two years, then decided I wanted to move onto bigger and better things. 

I play piano by ear, so when my family relocated to Dorset, I asked my parents if I could, instead, have piano lessons. We bought a piano. 

Then, I asked if I could get saxophone lessons. I was bought a saxophone. Piano, admittedly, I still play. Saxophone lasted approximately 18 months – if that.

The phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, doesn’t come close to my constant, incessant searching for the next best thing I could prove myself at.

Despite newspaper headlines, it isn’t a trait that was developed due to my status as a millennial, it’s always for me, been about proving myself to my peers. Making a name for myself around school as the one who plays music, the one who sings, the one who plays the piano.

For the most part, it’s harmless. It took me to Italy, as I wanted to prove I could get away from my small Dorset town. 

It led me to Royal Holloway, after applying to ten universities for two different courses. At university, I threw myself into every aspect of uni life. 

Throughout my time there, I was Director of Marketing for a society, Head of Marketing for the radio station, co-hosted a radio show, played for the football team, played for the social netball league, worked two jobs… and studied for my degree.

Then, I got a London PR job. But instead, that need to prove myself, took me to Australia. Not because I didn’t want to go to Australia, I really, did. But instead of waiting to be prepared, I loved knowing people around me admired my choice to leave my 9-5 and buy a one-way ticket.  

And throughout my adult life, the biggest way for me to prove myself, has always been to leave my small, Dorset town, which is why I’ve always done everything in my power to ensure that didn’t happen.

So imagine my surprise when my fully formed, adult brain, decided I was going to stay at home for a year, and save money.

After 23 years of looking for the next best thing, I’m currently coming to terms with being content in what I have, what I’m doing, where I am.

After so long of trying to get out, I’ve decided to use this year to better myself. 

To go to the gym, to have a stable job, to see the friends I have and the friends I love. 

I’ve taken on a 9-5 so I can save money on top of my freelance writing. I have a real, hardback diary instead of an iCalendar. 

I have spreadsheets on my incomings and outgoings, I’ve pulled out of my job offer for a summer in France.

I’ve booked weekend trips to look forward to, and then, I’ll come home, where I’m living with my parents. (Even though I’m turning 24 this year and 15-year-old me thought I’d be engaged by now).

For the first time in my whole life, I’m using the resources I have at hand to become more stable, instead of running away and leaving a hot mess in my wake.

Ironically, the stability this next year holds is far more terrifying to me, than booking a one-way ticket to a foreign country.

Love, Alice x

2 February 2019

Everything You Should Know About Au Pairing

In October 2017,  I ended a Facetime video call with a woman on the other side of the world, who I'd never met, promising to book a flight out to help look after her three-year-old son.

It sounds insane, and yet every year thousands of girls (and boys), use au pairing as a way of having a home and a job in another country. Deemed a 'cultural exchange', it is literally there to open the door for young people looking to live in another country, but not just spend their time around other expats and backpackers.

I've au paired twice since I turned 18, and my younger sister has also au paired. My first-time au pairing - in Italy - could not have been more different to last year's experience in Australia, not least because I was four years older.

Au pairing is an incredible opportunity if you like children and are happy to commit, but, it's admittedly not for everyone. So I thought I would create a list of what I've learnt from my au pairing experiences, and what I wish I'd known before landing both times.

Think long and hard about what kind of family you're looking for
How many children do you feel comfortable looking after? Do you have any beliefs/values you want to have in common? Do you want to live-in or live-out?

When I was in Italy, I worked for a mum and dad, with their 8-year-old son. There was also a cook and housekeeper in their apartment, so most of the time we had company.

Whilst I was in Australia, I worked for a donor mum and her 3-year-old son. A complete contrary to my last experience.

If I'm honest, I was initially a little unsure of working for a single parent, simply because I thought there was a chance the living arrangement would be too intense. I was also aware that if there were any issues, it could be extremely hard.

Which is why the best thing to do to find your own answer to these questions is to make sure you do your research and speak with any families you may want to work for over facetime/skype/video, to get a feel for if you think you'd be a good fit.

In my case, the experience of living with a single parent ended up being amazing, and if anything I was much closer to her because of our living arrangements than the couple I worked for in Italy.

One of my other pieces of advice would be generally, to live-in. I lived-out previously, and whilst it was great to have my own space, it really built a wall in my relationship with the family, because I felt like 'the help'. I grew extremely close to both the children I looked after, and that wasn't impacted by my living arrangement at all. But if you're looking to feel like a part of the family, living out makes that more difficult.

Au pairing can be lonely
If there was one thing I wish I'd known before applying for au pairing roles in Italy, it would be how important it is to au pair in a city where you'll find other au pairs.

The truth is, au pairing can be extremely lonely. You're in a foreign country, you don't have friends and without a classroom or an office, you're suddenly left with the question - how do I meet people?

In Italy, I basically had one best friend. I met her through a friend of the old au pair, and I was extremely lucky to have her, but after four months she was gone. I did make a few more friends, but many worked 9-5 jobs, whereas I was off during school hours. I wish I'd had the foresight to look for a highly populated city, where there were more au pairs and consequently, more friends.

Despite taking this into account in round two - hence moving to Sydney and not the Aussie bush - I still found it incredibly hard to make friends. Anyone who knows me will know I'm outgoing and friendly, but other than the girl who later became my best friend (and who I met on the first day by chance) it was initially hard to meet people. So, I posted in a "Sydney Au Pairs" Facebook group to ask if anyone wanted to grab a coffee - and that turned into a BBQ of 30 girls on the beach. All au pairs, all struggling to meet people.

The point is, you need to be prepared to put yourself out there. I am still BEST friends with my rocks from both Italy and Australia, but one friend isn't always enough. Think about joining local classes or getting a part-time job, both will help you meet people in no time at all!

You should feel at home, but remember it isn't YOUR home
This is such a tricky one, because it's so so important to feel at ease and comfortable and happy wherever you're living. But at the end of the day, it's also pretty important to remember this isn't your home.

I've heard a few horror stories from all sides, but without beating around the bush, the main thing I would say is that it is not okay to bring back guys/girls on a night out. 

This might sound obvious to most people - but the truth is it happens. I've heard from both my previous host families that if their au pairs end up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, then it's nice to meet them, but I'd still say tread with caution. The chances are, the person you've met isn't going to be another au pair, put simply, there's always a better place to do it.

Have a thick skin
Kids are kids. They can be so cute you want to cry, and they can be children who seemed to have woken up with the devil inside them. Don't take anything personally or to heart. It once took me an hour to walk 10 minutes up the road with a three-year-old, but then that three-year-old also told me I was his family. An eight-year-old ransacked his bedroom after I told him to get off his iPad, but then wouldn't let me go a month later, when he started sobbing as I left for a weekend-break in Milan.

It's swings and roundabouts, and the good days more than makeup for the bad days. If you're expecting everything to be smooth sailing, you shouldn't be around children ever, ever again.

Respect your host family
I feel like this should go without saying, but I've heard a lot of stories about au pairs which say otherwise. Yes, it is extremely nervewracking venturing out of your comfort zone into somebody else's life, but you do also need to think about how the family you're au pairing for feel. If their rule is to be home before midnight on a work-night, then get home before midnight. If they tell you to get a treat for their child after school, don't go on a shopping spree. These people are on your team, they want to have the best experience possible with their au pair, just as you do.

Just as there are horror host family stories, there are also horror au pair stories, don't be that person. When it goes well, you'll become a part of the family, and there is no better feeling than belonging, especially when you're a thousand miles from home.

Make the most of it
Because the idea of a host family is to feel as though you're at a home away from home, it's easy to get complacent. But the reality is, this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. So make the most of every second! Meet locals, go on tours, visit the rest of the country in which you're visiting, learn the language, make plans every weekend so you don't feel as if you're wasting time. Whether it's going to the beach in January, when everyone back home is suffering from the cold, or going on a weekend adventure somewhere new. The most important thing, is to have the time of your life.

Hopefully, this will help anyone considering au pairing, and gives you some food for thought. As an experience, I couldn't recommend it enough.

For anyone wondering, the website I used to find both host families, and the one I recommend, is Au Pair World. This blog post isn't sponsored at all, but they're the best site I found as a free site for au pairs, and they don't spam you with emails unless it's messages/replies from families, which is a deal breaker for me.

Love, Alice x

P.S. Whilst you're here, the 2019 Blogosphere Awards are around the corner, so if you want to nominate Alice's Antics or a particular blog post for an award, I would love you forever... and you can do so here.


31 December 2018

2018: The Year Of Winging It

Welcome to your yearly roundup of my life.

If you happen to have missed any of the others, you can find them at the bottom of this page, but for now, let's crack on with 2019.

As anyone who is familiar with this little internet space will know, it's worth grabbing a cuppa for the annual roundup. Maybe even make up a sandwich of all your favourite leftovers. Either way, settle down, and enjoy.

I started 2018 surrounded by my friends in our local pub. It was completely and utterly not how I planned to welcome in the new year. I had planned a cheese and champagne evening at my house with a friend, but the plan fell through. So instead, I decked myself out in last-minute fancy dress, text the most fabulous drinking pals I have, and headed into a new year full of booze and 80s music.

And to be honest, this sudden, last minute change of plan ended up setting a precedent for my behaviour throughout the rest of the year.

I truly thought I had winged my way through university, until 2018 happened.

2018 wasn't just a year of going out spontaneously (although naturally, that happened too), this was a year in which my whole life took a u-turn several times.

A couple of weeks into January, after the most incredible leaving party, surrounded with most of my favourite people in the world, I landed in Sydney.
On that first day in Sydney, I met a life-changer. And, to be quite honest, I looked at the girl who would soon become my best friend and thought "Wow. She is not my type of person."

Fast forward approximately two weeks, and we're buying matching Havaianas and spending every spare minute together.

So clearly, I knew nothing.

It's important for me to mention Gemma, because from the moment we met, we became each other's support systems. We were both from the UK, both au pairs, both living in Sydney and both unbelievably talented at karaoke when drunk.


For the best part of eight months, we held each other up when things got tough. Gemma listened to me change my mind about what I was doing in life approximately 1300 times, and I convinced her it was time to give up au pairing and find a job which felt more stable. We controlled each other from making awful male life choices, yet supported each other in spending $600 on a rugby player auction for charity. Whilst I was quitting my job Sydney 9-5 to freelance and travel, Gemma was being offered a 9-5 and moving into her first flat. We balanced each other out, and in many ways, 2018 should really just be called the year of Gemma. However, I absolutely refuse to give her that kind of satisfaction.
During this time of au pairing, I found another life-long friend, who became more like family, in my host mum and the little boy I looked after. Bev and Nate became a second family, and I am under absolutely no illusion that this doesn't always happen - having au paired in Italy four years ago.

Fortunately, I found a host family who both supported me throughout my time in Australia and inspired me daily.

After a month in Sydney, I secured a part-time job as an editorial assistant for two Australian digital publications. It's safe to say, I loved this job. I loved the people, I loved the work, and to be honest, I'm unlikely to work in a place I love so much ever again.

By the June, I was working there full-time and had moved into my own flat in the centre of Sydney with three other girls and two dogs.

Over the next three months, I lived every typical graduate's dream. I was walking to work through (in my opinion) the best city in the world. My job was fulfilling, I was creating content for two publications I was passionate about, I interviewed Pale Waves and my boss introduced me to The Wombats. We would have Friday lunches which didn't finish until 4pm and we almost always won Trivia at the local pub. I made friends for life in that top floor office in Surry Hills.

But I was feeling suffocated.

There was talk of sponsoring me to live in Australia, there were discussions about how to extend my contract. I'd left my London 9-5 to travel and see a new country, and instead, I'd landed myself in the same living situation, just 10,000 miles away.

I became unhappy, and I wanted to move on before I began to resent the company who had made me feel so welcome in Australia.

So, with the connections I'd made through my Sydney job, I was able to turn my job into a freelancing one, and during my first freelance gig, I was flown to New Zealand.

It's safe to say I peaked fairly early in my career.

I spent the best part of a week winging every second of this time. I had the worst imposter syndrome ever, and honestly felt like I didn't deserve to be writing the story of this incredible company. But I did. I wrote it, I handed it in, and I was commissioned more work for them, as they were delighted with what I'd given.

By this time, my plan to travel around for the next few years was starting to unravel. The consequence of living in one of the world's most expensive cities had taken its toll, I'd saved almost nothing and when my parents flew out to see me and travel to Melbourne, I was waiting for that months income to come in from freelancing, which was $1000 less than what I was used to.

After cancelling my plans to head to Thailand, where a voluntary position was being held for me at an Elephant Sanctuary, I decided, fairly last minute, to fly to Cairns in north Queensland, and road trip down the east coast

Except, well, that didn't quite work out either. The 2 of the 3 people I was going to road trip down with were a bit (very) creepy, and I wasn't paid on time by one of the companies I'd been freelancing for.

In short, my life changed again.

I ended up staying in Cairns for the next 2 months. Visiting the rainforests, going snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, jumping into waterfalls and, once again, meeting even more amazing people. I also improved my German tenfold, because almost every single new friend happened to be German.

I started working for accommodation at the hostel, running the trivia night and secured two other jobs for a different company in Cairns.

Those two months, despite not going as planned, were two of my favourite months in Australia. I was surrounded by like-minded people and every time someone I knew and loved left, a new person would arrive.

Eventually, I was left with the realisation that my trip home for Christmas, which was always planned to be only 3 weeks, would have to be more permanent.

With a university overdraft hanging over my head, I decided that instead of staying in Australia and going to New Zealand to save up and pay it off - something which could still have been an option - I wanted to come home and get rid of the overdraft, before coming back out with a lot more than the £180 I had landed in Sydney with last January.

For me, although the year never went to plan, I don't regret any of the decisions I made.

If I hadn't gone out to Sydney when I did, I never would have met Gemma. If I hadn't stayed in Sydney, I wouldn't have met Audrey, my best friend from work. If I hadn't stayed in Cairns, I never would have met what came to be my "Tropic Days Family".

I don't feel like I've changed in the way some people "find themselves" (featuring lots of harem pants and drugged tigers in Thailand), but I do feel more sure of myself.

The people I met and the friends I made during my time in Australia had no expectation. They didn't have to become my friends, they didn't have to like me, it was all through choice.

I also realised more about my career and what I want to do. It confirmed for me how much I love writing and how happy I am in a job where writing is at the centre of what I do.

I discovered my writing ability isn't just useful for blogs. I can write for companies, I can write for publications, and, a hobby I had always considered just that - a hobby - is actually a talent, which maybe one day I can turn into my career.
One of the main lessons I've learnt from Australia is that things don't have to happen tomorrow. I'd always thrown myself into decisions extremely last minute. If I made a decision to do something, it had to happen tomorrow.

I met people of all ages in my travels, and for the most part, being 23 was on the lower end of the spectrum. There is time. I met 18-year-olds on their gap years, and I met a 68-year-old who was staying at my hostel and travelling via Greyhound bus for a month around the country.

There is no age limit to travelling, and it's much more important to be safe (and semi-prepared, let's face it), than make it all happen tomorrow and end up regretting that decision.

So for now, I'm back in England. Due to my parents home being extremely far from any industry and the salaries being much lower than average here, I'm looking at all options of where to live.

I have no time frame in mind, the most important thing to me, is that I'm happy.

So yes, for 2018, it was the year of winging it. But it was also the year of lessons, and the year of friends and the year of adventure.

Thank you all for following Alice's Antics, and after a recent blog post went viral, welcome to all of the new readers.

I hope your new year is as full to the brim with love as I currently am full to the brim with mince pies.

As always, photos below are a collage of my 2018.

Love, Alice x

2013: The Year of Photos
2014: The Year of Becoming
2015: The Year of Being Content
2016: The Year of Friendship
2017: The Year of Change


14 December 2018

The Brexit Experience, From Somebody Who Voted Remain

2018 seems to be a year many people are hoping to forget - politically. But the real year we should be leaving behind and never speaking about ever again, is 2016, the catalyst of the following years. The year of the Brexit referendum, the election of Donald Trump and the deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Prince.

I'm not saying the deaths of these three extraordinarily talented men caused the world to turn on its axis, but, let's face it, stranger things have happened.

On June 23rd, the Brexit referendum was held. I was in France, working for a holiday company, but as a politics undergraduate, I was determined to have my say and voted by proxy. As a millennial working in Europe, obviously, I voted to remain.

The votes came in, and it was announced Britain would be leaving the EU. I won't lie, I did shed a tear. It was a 52% majority and 73% of under 25s had voted to remain.

But, I thought, maybe we'd all be proved wrong. Maybe, this is what's best for the country. Perhaps we'll look back in a couple of years time and realise the over 50s were right.

Later that day, I found out the owner of the British holiday company I was working for - a family company whose whole business was based in France - had voted to leave the EU.

And that, really, set the tone for the following two years.

There is nothing I wish I could write more, than that my mind has been changed, that the Conservatives and Theresa May have convinced the nation we are doing the right thing. Whilst I was appalled at the outcome, I wasn't somebody who dwelled on it, I wanted to be proven wrong.

Since Britain voted to leave the EU, here's what has happened:

  • There have been three elections. One when David Cameron stepped down, one general election on June 8th and one following a vote of no-confidence, two days ago.

  • Following the release of the Chequers Brexit plan, 8 cabinet ministers resigned from their positions.

  • The nation has lost the will to live.

Okay, so the bottom one might not be statistically true, but I'm willing to place my bets that if we could all never hear the word Brexit again, happiness in the country would grow by approximately 99%.

The most infuriating fact of all of this, is that a number of individuals who voted to the leave the EU have since decided they've changed their mind, after realising they'd been fed a lot of bullshit (something the remaining side are not guilt-free of either). 

Things have become so strife, in fact, that people from all sides of the argument are now just wanting to get out so we don't have to hear about it on the news. A dangerous, ridiculous argument, bearing in mind that us just "getting out" with no deal will forfeit our transition period between EU to non-EU members, our existing trade deal with the EU will cease immediately and we'll immediately be subjected to the EU's external trade tariffs. So prices will rise astronomically. Oh, and planes would be grounded because each airline would need to seek explicit permission from each EU country to enter its borders.

So, you know, despite the talk, we don't actually want to "just get on with it and leave". 

In any case, a deal has been presented. Okay, a deal which actually made several of Theresa May's cabinet ministers quit... but a deal none the less.

The deal, in my opinion, is not awful. The worst part is the lack of free travel between UK and EU citizens, but to be honest Theresa May as a leader is the best of a bad lot, and I think we can all agree Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg would probably create more of a shambles. 

So why are all of these people quitting the cabinet? It's because, what they really want, is all the perks of the EU... without actually being in the EU. And that, friends, is not how it works.

You don't get to be part of an internal free trade and free travel exchange group... if you aren't in that group. That is not how it works. If you wanted all of those benefits, do you know what we should have done? Stayed in the EU. 

The truth is, two years ago, I was willing to accept Brexit and hope for the best. 

But now, having watched the last two years unfold in nothing but a shambles, my will for a change of Government, a change of leader, and a change in Brexit, has never been stronger.

The point of this blog post is not to shove my opinion on Brexit itself down your throat. You do you.

The point of this blog post is an explanation, it's explicitly telling you why people are angry, why people are fed up, and why so many young people feel like they should be moving abroad and never coming back.

Because we've been let down.

All of us. Not just the "remainers". Every single one of us has been let down. We were let down by a leader who held the Brexit referendum and then quit. We were let down by a party who are so all-consumed with their own politics that they've forgotten they are literally there to represent the public. We were let down by two referendum sides who lead propaganda and fear-mongering and #fakenews to sway the public.

In the last two years, nothing has happened to sway my opinion of the Brexit situation. I'm waiting for the day I wake up and think "thank GOD we left the EU". But the truth is, all I'm seeing is a country where 52% voted for a past which doesn't exist anymore. A past where Europe was still reeling from the two world wars, and Britain was a super-power state. 

Britain entered the EU almost 50 years ago. In 50 years, the world has changed. Test-tube babies have been invented, the internet has been invented, yesterday Richard Branson literally sent a rocket-aeroplane to space

Europe is currently at the centre of unprecedented home-grown terrorism, no matter how many people refer to the IRA, the growth in technology partnered with segregation and political ideologies has seen an unprecedented rise in extremist behaviour.

And whose laws control the security of the UK, who has prevented even more terrorist-related activity within individual countries due to data-flow and security laws which the UK itself doesn't have in place? The EU. 

The likelihood is, we'll be leaving the EU. And I want it over just as much as the next person. But I actively encourage whoever is reading this, whatever way you vote, wherever your party allegiance lies, don't forget what has happened over the last two years. Don't forget the lies fed and the murder which occurred during the referendum. And don't forget those people, however they present themselves, will soon be 100% in control of your country. 

10 December 2018

The Reality Of Travelling Solo For Women In The Wake Of Grace Millane's Murder

If you happen to have not been keeping track of the news, Grace Millane was a solo backpacker who was tragically murdered whilst in New Zealand. Grace's death is not being used by myself as a form of fear-mongering, and I want to make that abundantly clear now, and throughout this post.

But it has opened up a discussion. Because on almost every single news article I have seen across social media, there are a tidal wave of comments, almost all of which relay the same advice.

"I wish young women would stop travelling alone."

"Why haven't young girls learnt by now, they should not be travelling solo."

"Why did her family let her go? A young, attractive woman on her own, it's asking for trouble."

Grace Millane's death is horrific. There are no words to cover the senseless, cruel act of murder.

But backpacking solo did not kill Grace Millane.

As a woman, I have spent the last eleven months travelling around Australia alone, and I returned home safe and sound last week. The likelihood is, I made many of the choices Grace Millane may have made during her travels. I got drunk, I used dating apps, I walked home alone at night, I went out with friends.

The difference is simply that I didn't meet someone along the way who wanted to hurt me. And that lack of interaction is the only difference between myself and Grace Millane.

Which begs the question, why are people questioning her actions? Why are they not condemning the sick, twisted man who decided he wanted to hurt her?

Grace Millane's death shouldn't stop women from backpacking solo, because the awful, brutally honest truth, is that the case of Grace Millane happens every single day, across the world, except the victim is not a backpacker.

The truth is, as a backpacker, you are more astute. As a female backpacker, you are more aware of the risks, of who you meet, of the steps you take. You take precautions you may not think of taking back home, but because you're abroad and you're on your own, you make sure you're as safe as you possibly can be.

Why should young women be told to stop travelling, why should we give up our freedom to experience new countries, new places, new cultures? Why are men not being told to leave women alone? To stop attacking them as they walk home at night. To say goodbye and mean it, after a date.

Travelling solo is one of the most invigorating, eye-opening experiences you will have in your life, whatever your gender, and whatever the Facebook comments say, there is absolutely no reason why you should be afraid to go.

You will grow in confidence, you will meet new people, you will have stories that make you laugh so hard you can burst and moments which bring tears to your eyes, and if you are passionate about travelling, there is no reason why you should miss out on this experience.

The fear of travelling alone is legitimate, and it is not to be underestimated. There was a night recently when I walked home alone in Cairns, a large rural north Queensland town. It was 1am, there were no taxis and I had thirty minutes to walk. And with every step, I could feel my heartbeat hammering against my own chest. It would be dangerous for anyone, but my identity as a woman made it more dangerous for me.

I didn't encounter anybody on that walk home, and the whole time I was walking, I recounted every defence mechanism I'd learnt growing up, because of my vagina. Keys in fingers. Hair down. Walk fast. Cross the road away from people. Walk in lit areas.

But that fear of travelling alone, it should not stop you from actually doing it. It should never stop you from stepping foot on a plane and having the time of your life. And you should never ever feel, that because you're a woman, you don't deserve to experience travelling alone.

Of course, you need to keep your wits about you. You need to prioritise your safety and be more aware than ever of the choices you're making.

But the tragic reality is, statistically, you are more likely to be harmed by somebody you know, then somebody you don't. Which ironically would indicate that the further away from home you are, the safer you will be.

So why, as a result of this case, are we telling women to not travel solo, when it happens every day on our own shores.

Why, in the wake of Grace Millane's death are we not telling men to stop committing acts of violence against women?

4 November 2018

The Cairns Crisis

The thing about me, is that I am probably (definitely) one of the most impulsive people you will ever meet.

For me, nothing is too much of a risk not to do. Quit your job? Fine. Live on £5 for 2 weeks? Absolutely. Planning has never been my strong point, I'll put my mind to something, and I do it. Often without much thought and always with the view "everything will work out in the end."

It's a trait which in many ways, has helped me get to where I am. I wanted to start a blog, so I did it. I wanted to make Youtube videos, so I created them. I wanted to come over to Australia, and I thought, why not?

But it's also a trait which has left me in a lot of, well, somewhat (very) sticky situations.

Because I wanted to leave my job in Sydney, it meant I was left with a month in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and almost no income. Because I went freelance without really researching it the way I should (and now have), it meant I was left with weeks without any money.

And it meant that in August, when I booked a flight to Cairns, I thought I would land with enough money to travel down the East Coast, and in reality, that is not currently possible.

It's due to a mixture of reasons. Two of the guys I was originally supposed to be travelling with seemed a bit odd, so myself and my new-found-friend Gina had to make a decision on whether we actually wanted to share a car with them for 6 weeks.

And then, there's the issue of a company I was writing for not paying me the money I'm owed within the invoice timeframe. Which meant when I arrived in Cairns, I had half of the money I was expecting to have by the second week, in order to travel.

So, whilst I am spending part of my time floating around the pool reading books, I'm also spending part of my time handing out CVs to every shop and every restaurant I can find.

The good news, is that I am in Australia, in one of my new favourite places, sat right on the barrier reef, and have made some incredible new friends. I'm working for accommodation so I don't pay anything to live here, and it is currently 30 degrees.

Admittedly, I do spend ALL of my time sweating.

The not-so-good news, is that I have put myself in a very stupid situation and probably (definitely) need to reevaluate my life a little bit.

This is absolutely not a woe is me story. This is just sharing the realities of my travel life at the moment. For anyone who has travelled for a prolonged period of time, I'm sure you'll know people who this has happened to, or you'll be in the situation yourself.

So whilst things aren't quite rosy, I do know exactly what my plan is, and I am also sharing a room with one person who has as little to their name as me, and another who owes her parents nearly £10,000 after borrowing the money from them.

To fill you in a little more on life in Cairns, you should all know that I am currently sporting a black eye. An added feature which is making finding a job that little bit harder.

This occurred when on a night out with a friend I'd met in my Sydney hostel - who turned up outside reception at my current hostel, without any clue I was working here.

To cut a long story short, I rolled my ankle, didn't put my arms out to protect myself, and smacked my face on the pavement.

Classic me.

Except despite brushing off the pain and pretending I was "absolutely fine" I woke up feeling pretty awful... and not because of the alcohol.

After an unexpectedly long doctors visit, I was told I had a concussion and a fractured cheekbone. So whilst my eye is black, the left side of my face is a beautiful greenish colour at the moment. Which, admittedly, saved money for halloween.

Part of the reason I haven't written about the lows of living in Australia, is that to be honest, I feel entirely selfish. It's so hard to complain about life out here, when I know I have friends working around the clock in London.

But the truth is, friends, travelling, and being away from home, is hard. It might not be hard in the way that you have a high-flying career job or a credit card bill of £25,000, but it really can be hard.

You're completely alone, with only yourself to depend on. If you get yourself in any financial difficulty, it's embarrassing to make that phone call to your parents - I actually know two people who slept in their car as they didn't want to accept any help.

Each day is different, which is so so exciting, but it's also a matter of where you'll go next. Will your shitty, $2000 car even start, and if it doesn't - then what? And it's a case of realising that no matter how close Facetiming your family makes you feel, you're actually on the other side of the world.

I absolutely love travelling. I wouldn't swap this life, no matter the highs and lows, for the world. I love meeting new people and visiting new places, but my new mantra on this blog is to not pretend it's always so easy.

For some reason, I got into my head that people only wanted to hear about the beauty of travelling. And I'm sure some do. But there's also the nitty-gritty. The cockroaches and the spiders and the uncertainty and financial issues and the boys you promise not to get attached to but then, obvs, make you cry.

I'm having a life evaluation and am coming up with the best plan for me, to make me financially stable and more capable and excited to do everything thrown at me.

But I will keep writing.

I will fill you in on what has happened and what's to come and make sure I don't just hide behind smiling Instagram posts.

Thanks for following, as always.

Love, Alice x

7 October 2018

Life Update: What the bloody hell is going on?

It's been a hot minute.

I feel like the only consistency in my blog at the moment, is how inconsistent it is.

And how often I promise that will change... and, well, then it doesn't.

I'm sad to say Alice's Antics has taken a bit of a back seat over the last few months. I've been writing for money, which means writing for leisure has become a bit of a thing of the past. I imagine this is how it feels to be an English Literature student who loves reading but only has time to ready set books.

Anyway, here I am. And I am ready to update you all on my life thus far.

It's been a WHIRLWIND, I can tell you that for free.

Grab a cuppa (or grab wine,  nobody is here to judge you), and settle in for this update on Alice's Antics.

So, at the end of August, as has been mentioned. I left my consistent writing job, and plunged into the world of freelancing.

I'll be honest, freelancing has, thus far, not been the light and carefree career path I thought it would.

Instead, it's writing around the clock. It's making ends meet and chasing up invoices and realising you have 25 days until your next payment schedule and $6 in the bank. And then finding work to make up for this.

It's spending money in coffee shops for the free wifi but spending more than you're making in the time you're there - admittedly, usually my fault for not being able to control the caffeine fiend within.

I'm actually going to write a whole blog post about this, because I have learnt a LOT over the last month - almost as much as the whole time I've spent in Australia -

Then, just over two weeks ago, my parents came out to visit me - and obviously, make the most of a reason to come to Australia because why would you not?

Over the last couple of weeks, we (somehow) spent around 13 hours in the car driving from Melbourne to Sydney, we caught up with family friends from 15 years ago, we've seen little penguins stumble over rocks at sunset to reach their burrows, we've watched a whale leap out of the Pacific ocean, and we've seen koalas and kangaroos chilling in their natural habitat.

I mean, we also had to run away from the grottiest Air Bnb in the world after turning up in Melbourne and finding filthy everything, rotting windows and mould growing up the shower curtain.

But it was a small price to pay for two of my favourite weeks in Australia.

That all came to an end yesterday morning, when my parents did the big drive back up to Sydney, and I caught a flight out to Cairns in Queensland.

And here, the new adventure awaits.

Over the next couple of months, I'll be driving with two guys and another girl, down the East Coast of Australia, back towards Melbourne.

Trust me when I say, there is literally no plan. We have a 4x4, I met these people on Facebook, and I will be camping for the first time in my whole life.

Currently, I am staying in the world's most gap-yarh hostel just outside of the centre of Cairns - but it comes complete with the ability to work in the sun whilst writing, and it's currently 28 degrees, so I'm absolutely not complaining.

The last few months of my life have been an utter whirlwind. I have changed my mind about my life so much, it was only on Friday that I officially knew I would be flying to Cairns (thanks to some invoices being paid).

In a lot of ways, I'm starting to miss the stability of "real life", of having a support system around you and knowing you have family and friends minutes away.

Again, there will be a whole blog post on this, but the last couple of months have also made me realise how much everyone else is on their own path and doing their own thing on their own clock and how actually, that is completely fine.

Whilst in England, almost all of my friends have moved out of home and are in London 9-5s, out here, the majority of the people I know live at home.

It's been a breath of fresh air realising there are people my age travelling the world, but also people my age buying shares in businesses.

Neither is wrong or right. We're in our twenties, now is the time to invest, now is the time to travel, now is the time to have $6 in the bank (cough cough), because we are able to bounce back.

It's refreshing, and it's taken me nearly 10 months of being away from home to realise that it's completely okay for me to be away from home.

I have blog posts planned about homesickness, about the lessons I've learnt freelancing so far and about my experiences of dating in Sydney (I don't tend to divulge my love life, but I'm seriously considering writing a book after these experiences).

Thank you for bearing with me and thank you for reading.

As per, I love you ALL.

Love, Alice x

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