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25 March 2020

New Blog Series: The Isolation Anecdotes

It's day four in isolation for me, after arriving home from New Zealand on Saturday afternoon. I've left the house to walk the dog, and due to living in the countryside, I crossed paths with no one and touched nothing.

Basically, I stayed hyper-vigilant and didn't decide to go to the beach and possibly contaminate everyone around me because, y'know, I'm not an actual idiot.

But I AM growing increasingly bored.

For some reason, clients I've previously worked with do not need a travel writer right now (lol), which means I both have nothing to do and no money to spend. A sad and sorry tale.

As I mentioned previously, the likelihood is my blog will THRIVE under the new lockdown laws imposed in the UK this week. So I thought I would return to my usual chatty blog posts about my life and some of the bizarre interactions I've had in my life.

The result of this is that I've decided to start sharing my stories - in particular, my male-related stories. Because I have been on a lot of dates, and most of them have been extremely unsuccessful.

Like, to a worrying degree.

From one crying into his glass of wine to another telling me I wasn't worth the gin bar he'd had planned (seriously).

We could ALL do with a laugh at the moment, and my life happens to be a walking joke.

Welcome to my isolation anecdotes, all true and all for your enjoyment.

Love, Alice x
Blogger Widgets

23 March 2020

Travelling Across the World During the Coronavirus Pandemic

I landed in Auckland after three months in Australia, just over a week ago. I'd flown from Sydney to Melbourne, and then again from Melbourne to New Zealand - arriving in the country 20 minutes before the self-isolation period began. 

Covid-19 was very much on my mind throughout. Italy was in lockdown and friends who worked in offices were having conversations about working from home in the near future. 

On my flight to Melbourne, a handful of people were wearing masks and I was vaguely aware that nobody was sat next to me on the flight and how, under the circumstances, that was probably quite lucky. 

When I landed in Melbourne, I went for breakfast with a friend and both of us wondered where the world would be in a week's time. He was heading to Bali on holiday, and I was still determined to get to New Zealand. We pretty much knew it would escalate - but the extent was unknown, and both of us caught our flights the next day to our destinations.

I was still set on staying in New Zealand all the way through to Wednesday evening. My parents had called me, asking what I was thinking of doing. They offered support whichever I chose, and I told them I was going to stick it out.

There were two schools of thought about my decision to fly back to the UK. On the one hand, the rest of the world was going into shutdown mode, and the gap in which I could get home was growing smaller by the day.

However, New Zealand's low case-count meant it was business as usual, from going on a night out last Tuesday to celebrate St Patrick's Day, to having coffee on Thursday morning with my friend on the harbour. 

I was completely unimpacted by the virus in my everyday life, so why would I not want to stay and enjoy that?

And then, well, everything went into overdrive.

My parents are notoriously non-panicky and had so far supported my decision to stay in New Zealand if that was what I wanted to do. Even with my sister working for the NHS, they weren't out bulk buying, and they wanted my quality of life to remain as good as it could be under the circumstances. 

So to wake up on Thursday morning to a short essay explaining why they thought it was imperative that I came home, made me realise how bad the situation had become.

My friend Lauren and I booked our flights for the next day, wanting to get out as soon as possible and knowing that, as New Zealand's cases had doubled overnight and the rest of the world was going into lockdown, we'd soon be stuck on the other side of the world.

As soon as we put on Instagram that we were flying home, both of us received messages from friends questioning our life choices.

"Why would you come back?"

"I'd stay if I were you!"

"There's nothing worth coming back for, trust me." 

We heard the continuously, and on repeat. And all I can say is unless you are on the other side of the world to your family, you cannot understand the mental battle that we went through in choosing to leave New Zealand. 

Neither of us had stable jobs, stable accommodation and the inevitable rise in the virus meant businesses would stop hiring. Within the space of 48 hours, we went from arranging apartment viewings, to booking our flights home. 

Borders will never close from their citizens, we would always have been 'let in' to the country. But it wasn't just one flight we had to depend on. Or even two. We both took three planes to touch down in London, and as we sat and watched the board, more and more flights were being cancelled by the hour. it doesn't matter if you're allowed home if you have no way of getting there. 

This time, flying was a completely different experience. 75% of people were wearing masks on our flights. The flight attendants asked us to not linger and chat to them as they didn't want to expose themselves any more than they had to. 

When we got onto our flights, we used anti-bac wipes to wipe down the entire seat area, tray table and screen. This was something a lot of people were doing, and the flight attendants carried a rubbish bag down the aisle for us to dispose of our wipes before take off. Hand sanitiser was pulled out before and after every meal or snack and any time either of us left our seats.

The airports themselves were empty. I spent 10 hours in Vancouver, an experience I hope never to repeat. But in this busy, international terminal, there was only the Duty-Free, a Relay and two restaurants open. Everything else - including the Starbucks - was closed. 

It was emotionally draining, and flying to each stopover was a continuous question of whether I'd be able to board my next flight. In the US, the woman on border control told me I couldn't be flying to Vancouver because the border was in lockdown and all flights were cancelled. Luckily, she was simply a bit of an idiot (and super rude and unhelpful). 

Anyway, I have made it home in one piece. Which is what really matters. I'm reunited with my family, I'm in a country where I get free healthcare - and frankly, my blog will be THRIVING under this lockdown.

Trust me when I say, coming home was one of the hardest choices I've ever had to make - and please bear it in mind for any other friends and family members who are in similar positions. 

Stay safe and stay clean!

Love, Alice x

6 March 2020

Faceless Women

Two weeks ago, I was sat with friends in a man’s home.

 He had invited us there, after meeting during the Mardi Gras Parade. We assessed the situation, decided he and his friend were harmless and headed back to his apartment to the promise of more alcohol.

He began talking to my friend, and addressed ‘the three of us’. I was confused. “There’s only two of us?” I said. And he laughed. He was drunk, but not so drunk he couldn’t whip up a halloumi platter complete with hummus and flatbread ten minutes before.

 “Noooooooo,” he slurred. “Gemma here, and you two.” As he said this, he pointed at each of my breasts.

It was a throwaway comment which, once upon a time, I would’ve laughed off. This man was clearly drunk, and probably not a bad person. He’d invited us into his home after all.

But then I remembered the New Year’s Eve we'd just celebrated.

I was dancing to music with friends at an event, having the time of my life when I caught two men filming me as we jumped up and down to the music.

'Caught' is a strong word, the iPhone camera light was shining straight at my body, as if this was a perfectly normal, reasonable thing for two men in their twenties to do.

I had removed myself from the situation. What else could I do, I questioned.

But my lack of action means somewhere out there, is footage of my body, faceless, jumping around to whatever song was playing in the background whilst I was filmed.

And here it was again, I was faceless.

The comment stripped me of my identity as a person. My achievements, my life as a daughter, a friend, a writer, a musician, the fact I’d sat and talked to this man about most of these things. But he was addressing my breasts. I could’ve been anyone, anybody.

We left shortly after this interaction, with both Gemma and I calling him out for what he said. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I just didn’t even think.”

It’s a weird excuse, to say you didn’t even think about it. Because it suggests the comment was natural. It was an obvious thing to say, 'it’s just how it is’.

If he had thought about it, would that have made it better, or worse?

If he’d considered it, and decided to say it anyway, it meant he didn’t care for its implications. But by saying it without thinking, it meant he thought identifying me by my breasts instead of my face was perfectly fine, normal even.

“International Women’s Day isn’t really necessary in Western society” I hear, a lot. “But it is important for the women who don’t get a right to education and who have little to no agency over their own body.”

And to that, I ask you, by whose standard is International Women’s Day not necessary in Western society?

By the standard of your workplace, which has equal pay across genders - but forbids women to wear ‘distracting’ clothes?

By the standard of your reading list, which is vast - but has no female authors because ’I just don’t like those kinds of books’?

By the standard of your justification to do the right thing - ‘Think of your mother/daughter/sister/‘ as if without any of the above labels, women wouldn’t deserve it simply because they’re human beings.

It is wrong to undermine the atrocities being committed against women right now around the world. But it is also an atrocity to deny there is a problem in the society you grew up in, the one you are a part of.

We are your doctors, your nurses, your soldiers. We are your CEOs, your waiters, your actors, your directors. We are in every walk of life, a necessity to keep the world going, to keep it turning because we choose to, not because you choose to allow us.

Don’t dull her achievements because of the shape of her body. Don’t withdraw her personhood because she turns you on. Don’t make her identity about your pleasure.

Stop making women faceless.

1 February 2020

To the EU: I'm Sorry

Growing up, I was told many a time ‘To be born an Englishman is to have won the lottery.’ And frankly, I believed it.

We are a tiny nation. The chances of being born British are minuscule, yet here I am. Born into an Irish/English family just north of London - and there were honestly days, times, where I looked around at the huge diversity of where I lived and of who my friends were, and felt extremely lucky to be English.

For a child in the early noughties, Britain was a great place to be. Every child who read Harry Potter wanted to be British, we won the 2012 Olympics, our country was safe on an international scale AND it was the golden age of David Beckham. Life for ten-year-old me was bloody great. And I was extremely proud to be British.

And why wouldn’t I be? I’d had history lessons which instilled in us how England, this tiny tiny island, discovered the world. The power of the British Empire was unfathomable. And I was impressed.

Except, as I said, I was ten years old.

And as I grew up, I learnt about the racism, the colonialism, the mass genocides of indigenous people. I learnt that winning the World Wars wasn’t because of the powerful British army - it was the result of millions of sacrificed lives from all over the world.

As I wound my way through school, I learnt about globalisation, about peace treaties, I learnt the peak of the British Empire was over a hundred years ago. It peaked during times of restlessness and contention. It thrived off wars and distrust between states.

Even in my 13, 14, 15-year-old mind. I knew Great Britain wasn’t as great as white male history had made it out to be.

I learnt that in 1950, Europe, one of the most war-torn continents in the world, became one of the most peaceful.

And continued to be so because of the European Union.

As I grew older still, I continued to believe I was incredibly lucky to be born English, despite British history. I recognised the privilege of being born into a country with running water and internet access. I knew I could move anywhere in Europe, and as someone who had always wanted to travel, I felt incredibly lucky.

My family holidayed in France, we drove across the border to Spain. We drove with the school to Lake Garda, passing through France, Belgium and Switzerland on the way. When I was 18, I went to live in Italy, when I was 20 I went to live in France.

But it wasn’t being English that gave me those rights and allowed us to seamlessly drive into a foreign country, it was being a member of an EU nation.

Over the last three years, I’ve had all sorts of discussions - and arguments - about Brexit. Largely by people who have never lived overseas. By people who have huge problems with immigration, but no problem with the Polish doctor trying to save their loved one’s life. By people who preach the awfulness of the EU, but hardly knew it existed before 2016.

For many Britons, the mind-numbing word Brexit has given way to a nonchalance of ‘just get it done so we don’t have to hear about it’. And that position is one of immense privilege, because it’s a sentiment of people who won’t be directly affected.

It’s a sentiment by people whose families won’t have the uncertainty about their future, of people who don’t want to live and work abroad in Europe.

It’s a position of selfishness: I have nothing at risk, so why does it matter.

One of the key lessons taught to children and adults alike, is teamwork. It’s working together for a goal. A problem shared, is a problem halved. Two heads are better than one. Sharing is caring. Work together.

And yet somehow, this small country in the middle of the Atlantic rationalised the idea that they shouldn’t work together. They shouldn’t be a part of something bigger. They don’t need anyone else. They don’t need the best trade deals, the best free movement agreement in the world.

They don’t need the EU.

Many people assume that the EU is the only peace agreement of its kind. But they’re wrong. Asia has ASEAN. Australia and New Zealand have CER, America and Canada have NAFTA. These are deals in place with neighbours, because an alliance is internationally renowned as being more stable than independence.

We have proven time and time again in the last three years that we are one of the most selfish countries in the world, with an ingrown nationalism from history that doesn’t translate into today's terms. The world is a different place.

So, to the EU, I am sorry. I am sorry to the people whose lives will be ruined because of this decision. I’m sorry for the children who will not be able to live and work overseas as easily. I’m sorry this decision was built upon lies fed to people who had never given the EU a second thought until 2016. 

Just like a bully removed from the playground, we don’t deserve to join in anymore.

16 January 2020

My 2020 Goals and Resolutions

PHEW, let's start off with the elephant in the room and say THANK YOU to all of the support on the last blog post. It was a difficult one to write, but I'm so glad it's out in the world and I'm so touched by the response and by how many people it's helped.

Now though, it's time to look forward.

Because it's the start of a new year and a new decade. And anyone who knows me knows I am all about the new year hype.

I don't think it should be about y'know, getting rid of your old self or anything. But I like any excuse for a list, and I like any excuse to give myself new goals. So this new year feeling happens to be a personal fave.

As I've gotten older, my resolutions/goals/whatever you like to call them, have reflected my growth. But my ability to keep them has absolutely not reflected my transition into adulthood.

So whilst my list is a lot less 'find a tall dark handsome boyfriend' and more 'learn about investments', it's important to know that I make resolutions with a pinch of salt. I think it's important to bear them in mind, especially the important ones, but if I don't have abs my May, well, I'm not going to cry myself to sleep.

So, what is on the agenda for 2020?

Visit a new continent
In 2019, I visited America and in 2018 I visited Australia. In 2020 I would love to visit Asia and/or Africa (probably less Kenyan-safari, more Morocco). Last year, I came up with this '7 by 27' dream, in which I visit all 7 continents by my 27th birthday. It's pretty ambitious, considering I'd visited... two... when I made it.

But, we're now up to three, and since Asia in en route to Oz/NZ (where I'm currently living), I don't think the dream is that impossible. After all, I'm only 24 at the moment.

Tackle my debt
Look, I left university with £50,000 in university bills. So my student overdraft wasn't really the top of my to-do list when living my best life and adventuring around Australia. But, the overdraft is mounting and I'm a) not going to hide from it - we could all do with a little less taboo about money, and b) want to do something about it.

My goal last year was to stay put in Dorset and save up to eradicate the overdraft, but since realising that life-plan compromises my happiness (and if anything made me want to get away even more), I'm going to be settling down in New Zealand pretty long-term (for me). I've spent the last 8 months living out of a suitcase between different countries, which is a hugely privileged position to be in, but I'm excited to be settling somewhere for a little while whilst I short my shit out.

Earn a TEFL
The TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) has always been on my radar, but not something I've really looked into. However, I really want to work and travel as I go, particularly in SE Asia and potentially South America, and teaching English online is how a lot of people sustain their lifestyle as digital nomads. My hope is to split my freelancing between writing and teaching, and it's always useful to learn a new skill.

Get Fitter/Stronger
As we now all know, it took me years to get to the place I am now with my body. And I wouldn't trade that for the world. However, in myself, I want to be much fitter than I currently am. I've been in mental spaces previously where I enjoy going to the gym, so getting back to that is my current goal.

I love being outdoors, I love feeling physically productive and - despite working a lot from my laptop - one of my favourite aspects of my work in France was being on my feet all day. I'm no longer in that position, so I just want to get up and get moving and, hopefully it will give me a bit of a boost on the days I need it.

Start Saving
What for? I don't know either. But I feel like at 24, I should probably stop living paycheque to paycheque the way I do. Especially if I want to continue freelancing. Some people are born into the privilege of having saving accounts set up for them by their parents and/or grandparents, but for me what I have in my bank, is what I own. Even if I start putting aside £50 a month, I just want to have something there to know that I'm doing something about my future.

Develop My Language Skills
Once upon a time, at the very very start of this Alice's Antics journey, I moved to Italy. It was extremely Eat, Pray, Love and despite not knowing a word when I first arrived, I ended up learning Italian. I used it almost every day, and when my family came out to visit me for my birthday, they were both surprised and impressed. But then I stopped and didn't use it for 6 years and now here we are, and I'm back on Duolingo reminding myself how to ask for a coffee.

I really want to work on my Italian and French. I lived in France only last year, so I do have a bit more of a grasp on the language, but both need improving. I now have a bit more time on my hands, so I'm keen to put it to good use.

Okay, so that's it. Those are my goals.

I know they might seem quite materialistic, but part of that is because I'm pretty happy with who I am at the moment. Last year I challenged myself to be more vocal about my opinions and stand up for what I believe in. And whilst you can always improve on body positivity and feminism and being an LGBT+ ally, being more vocal has become more entwined in my life, so I don't need to create 'goals' to keep me aware the way that I did once.

Does anyone else love the start of a new year? If you're the resolution-type, let me know what yours are!

 I know it gets a bit of a bad rep, but my headspace at the moment is proof that if you're realistic, it really can be a great time of year.

Just remember to be kind to yourself.

Love, Alice x


7 January 2020

Leaving My Eating Disorder in the 2010s (TW)

When I was younger, I read a book by Jacqueline Wilson called Girls Under Pressure.

The book circled around Ellie, who was teased at school for being overweight and started to make herself sick. It narrated the hold bulimia has over people and how Ellie let it rule her life until she decided enough was enough.

However, I read this book as the teased, overweight girl in my class, and read between the lines. The book told me how everyone was complimenting Ellie for her weight loss. How all she needed to do was Google to find groups of others who would encourage her eating habits.

From my own recollection, I can't remember a time in my life where I wasn't embarrassed about how I look, and to my young self this felt like the answer.

I wasn't always overweight, but I was always bigger than the other girls in my class. I couldn’t see it at the time, but looking back I realise a lot of it was due to puberty hitting me quicker than any other girl in my class. I was 5'8 with size 7 feet by the time I was 13, and frankly, my boobs feel as if they've never stopped growing since. A U.K. size 8-10 is massive if all of your friends are in children size 13-14s.

At home, there was a focus on diet culture which I never realised or understood until I reached my twenties. But growing up in the 90s and 2000s, diet culture was everywhere, and to blame my ED just on my home life would be ridiculous. It was fuelled by my environment at school, at home, by the media. The only body positivity movement was Trinny and Suzanna telling you anyone over 12 stone shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes.

By the time I was 15, I was making myself sick around 4 times a day.

When I was 16, I confided in a friend that I thought I might have a problem. She told her friends, who told their friends, and whilst walking to class, I was accosted by a group of girls who told me I was too fat to have bulimia.

So, I made myself sick for five years.

One of the worst parts of having an ED, is that if you are plus-size or overweight to start off with, you are praised for your weight loss. And that fuels it. If a size 14 drops to a size 10, people are asking for your secret. If a size 10 drops to a size 4, people are giving them side looks, and the school counselor 'just wants to talk'.

Anyone who has an eating disorder will tell you it's easy to hide. A couple of extra toilet flushes here, bringing toothpaste to school with you there.

It peaked when I was going through exams and when I was extremely lonely or felt as if I had no purpose. When I was doing my A-Levels, I started living off shakes, deciding that not actually eating would hopefully stop me from making myself sick again. But I couldn't help it, I was consuming 800 calories a day but would throw them up. I lost 2 stone in 6 weeks, and when I started to put that back on again, I just made myself sick more.

But losing weight isn’t the only side effect of bulimia. I was asked by my dentist, in front of one of my parents, whether I’d been ill recently, because of the impact of the acid on my teeth. My hairdresser pointed out a bald spot under my hair and asked me about alopecia. I had no energy, no motivation and no drive to do anything. I completely lost my passion for life.

Eventually, the guy I was seeing and one of my best friend hosted an intervention. I had so far hidden my ED from my parents, but they told me if I didn't go and get help, they would go to my parents.

I knew I needed help, but at the time, I just didn't want it. I felt pressured into it. I enjoyed being smaller than I had been before, and I was convinced my boyfriend was only with me because I was a slimmer version of myself.

I was also terrified of being laughed out of the GP. I was convinced they'd tell me, like those girls had a couple of years before, that I was too fat to have an eating disorder.

But, I went. And in mid-2013, I was diagnosed formally with bulimia nervosa.

When I went travelling in August 2013, I lost weight simply through exercise and eating less, and thanks to having received help for my ED,  I realised bulimia wasn't the only way to lose weight. But when I returned to England in the September, I was back to using bulimia as a way to keep my weight down.

It was then that I began Alice's Antics. It was the period just before I moved to Italy, at a time when I thought everything would be better once I moved there, but it wasn't.

In Italy, I was living alone. My eating disorder peaked. I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed, I didn't want to leave my apartment for anything. I passed out on the bus and reached a point where I was just 'meh'. Everything seemed pointless.

For me, the turning point came when I went to university. I gained structure to my life, I felt like I had a purpose. I had friends who cared about me, and I didn't carry the stigma of 'being me' that I felt had followed me through school.

Tragically, yet luckily in many ways, I unintentionally became immediate friends with another girl who had an eating disorder. She was struggling even more than I was and meeting each other was a blessing in disguise because we both wanted to get over it and move on with our lives. To this day we're both still extremely close friends, and our first year of uni was a turning point for both of us in overcoming bulimia and anorexia.

Unlike in 2013, my recovery in 2015 was through my own will and determination. Sometimes, you need people in your corner, and many people with EDs start their recovery without their own consent when they become a danger to themselves. But for every single person with an ED, you will never recover until you want to.

It may seem odd to many people reading this as to why I would bother to write about it now. But the truth is, bulimia ruled my life for half of the 2010s. Admitting I had an eating disorder isn't embarrassing. It isn't a loss on my part, it isn't something to be ashamed of. It was my life.

I overcame my eating disorder by working from the inside out. It sounds cliche, but it's true. I don't think I would have had the courage to confront it the way I did, if there hadn't been a slow shift in the narrative of body positivity the way there has been in the last few years.

Recovering from an eating disorder isn't a matter of having your last purge and leaving it all in the past. It's a work in progress. It's being faced with uphill battles, and not turning to controlled eating as a way of dealing with it. It's feeling full, and your first thought not being 'I could just do it one more time'.

It's looking in the mirror and understanding you're not going to be perfect, but neither is anybody else. It's realising there is so much more to your life than what you weigh. It's not valuing yourself on having a boyfriend or a partner, but valuing yourself on who you are and what you stand for.

It's finding the courage to talk about it, and get help. It's realising that it is not your fault, and your life is not wasted because of it.

Growing up, when I was embarrassed to put on a swimsuit at the beach, I was always told; "There will be someone who looks worse than you, don't worry."

And that is exactly the kind of narrative I now understand I need to protect myself from. Instead of comparing yourself to others, look in the mirror and think about how great you do look. Pick out your working limbs, your hair, your smile. Pick out your strength, your love of the beach, your loyalty and your kindness.

Five years of my life were a daily battle of counting calories and throwing them up. At the start of this year, after months and months of not being able to swallow properly, I was told I had damaged my esophagus from the years I spent throwing up.

And honestly, I felt like I couldn't leave behind this huge part of my life until I shared my story. Because there are so many people out there who live with eating disorders. Some without even realising it's a problem, and many others not allowing themselves to get help.

I'm moving into the 2020s with three years of recovery behind me, and now a very healthy relationship with food. There are days where I struggle, there are times where all I want is to be the size I was at 18. One of the most ironic things is that there were times whilst I was bulimic that I was heavier than I am now, but developing my relationship with food is what made that happen. The lack of binging and relying on vomiting is what made that happen. So despite being neither the slimmest or the heaviest I’ve ever been, these last three years have been the happiest.

I understand now, there is nothing worth putting your body through that hell for. Eat better food, go to the gym, create goals for your fitness and your strength. You only have one body, telling it it isn't good enough will never get you to the physical or mental place you want to be.

So, it's a new year, a new decade and we all only have one life. If you're struggling, please take the steps necessary to overcome your ED. If you needed a sign, if you needed proof that it can happen to literally anyone, take this as it. Talk to your friends, talk to a doctor, talk to whoever you need to talk to in order to start your recovery.

Love, Alice x

Numbers you can call for ED support (also can be used if you think you know someone with an ED):

Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677
Youth Helpline: 0808 801 0711

Mind: 03000 11 12 13

NEDA: (800) 931-2237

Butterfly National Helpline: 1800 33 4673


2 January 2020

2019: The Year of Not Staying Put

2019 was a blur like no other. 

For the sake of total transparency, I feel like 12 months have passed and I have no sense of accomplishment from the last 365 days.

It's a weird feeling, because I'm not sure what I was 'meant' to achieve when I set out at midnight on Jan 1st 2019, ready to take on the new year. 

Maybe part of my problem is this need to feel fulfilled by the year, I'm not sure when that started, because surely I haven't always felt like this? I bypassed each school year in the same uninformed way, the only change being my increasing infatuation with boys and my decreasing interest in actual school work. 

Life wasn't measured by some unmentioned need to have an emotional or physical breakthrough. But here I am at 24, measuring the success of 2019 on just that.

The reality is, not every year is going to be self-defining. So the mindset of feeling deflated by a lack of 'WOW' is definitely something I want to change in 2020. Because really, I did have successes in 2019, they were just different, they presented themselves in different ways. 

AKA, I need to get a grip. 


What did happen in 2019? 

Well, I started the year in Dorset. The same place I had started every New Year since moving there in 2006. I was dressed as a fortune teller and woke up with a pounding headache and glitter in places I didn't even know it could get. 

I had one mission in 2019. I was going to stay put. I had moved home and decided all I wanted to do was get rid of my university overdraft. I was going to get a 9-5 job and basically not move until I had saved enough money to fund more travels. 

What I didn't take into account is how much I actually struggle living at home. Not the 'living at home' bit, I think that's often a necessity for people in their twenties, and there's no judgement from me there.

But after six years of living independently and being a stone's throw from the centre of London, Milan and Syndey, I found myself being extremely unmotivated and unhappy in Dorset. I'd spent years building up my portfolio and striving to work in a sector I loved, but with such little industry in the area, I was working as an administrative assistant, desperate to take any job I could if it meant a source of income. 

Let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that job, and frankly, if I was in a different place in my life the flexibility of the role and being employed by the local council would have been a Godsend. 

But I basically spent the first four months of the year running away to London. I loved spending time with my family, but with my only chance to get away being the weekends, I saw them less and less.

So when I was offered my old job in France, I jumped at it. The role was an assistant manager on a campsite, earning the same amount of money as the admin position, but I was on my feet all day, I was living in France, the sun was shining and I was in my element. 

I had friends around me, I no longer felt lonely, and despite some serious lows, I realised I was an idiot for thinking I needed to stay in one place to feel fulfilled.

Since moving to Italy aged 18, I've constantly been told how brave I am for taking leaps and moving abroad, or how lucky I am. And whilst there is an element of privilege, the reality is I use any money I make to buy flights, I spend my life paycheque to paycheque, I don't have a drivers license because I'd rather put the £1000 it costs towards traveling, and the warm feeling most people get from stability and routine, does nothing for me. 

I finished my 5 months in France, and spent a week at home before heading to America for nearly 3 months. I lived with family I'd only met 3 times before, and I spent my days freelancing, blogging, writing and exploring my new temporary home. 

When I left France, I felt out-of-body with who I was and what I was doing. The confidence I'd spent so long working on, years to achieve, was gone in a matter of weeks. 

Going to America, meeting new people and basically gaining a second family, grounded who I was once more. It was an invaluable part of this year, for the cultural experience but also because I landed in England surer than ever of who I was. 

Which happens to be this absolute nutter who books one-way-flights with £100 to her name.

I spent 10 days in England between France and America, and 10 days in England between America and Australia, and I can honestly say those 20 days were absolute highlights of the year.

I spent quality time with my family, my dog and my friends. I finally saw Les Mis in the West End and I watched a friend I'd grown up with star in Mama Mia in the West End too. I was reunited over Christmas dinner with the people I graduated with, and I brunched with my other favourite university people. 

It's always bitter-sweet coming home, because you're reminded of how lucky you are. I have a roof over my head, incredibly supportive parents and friends and leaving my cat and dog behind is, frankly, heartbreaking. 

But the new adventure was upon me, and in the middle of December, I flew 30 hours to Sydney.

This didn't actually start out the way I'd pictured, as I had the same groundbreaking idea many of us in our twenties have before catching a flight. 

"Let's go out".

Honestly? The three worst words to say before a 30-hour flight. It resulted in me losing my phone, my bank card and my voice. Worth it? Absolutely not. But you live and you learn, and I somehow landed in Sydney in one piece.

Just in time to celebrate Christmas on the beach with my best friend, meet up with my old work colleagues, and spend New Year under Sydney's Harbour Bridge, seeing in the new decade singing Auld Lang Syne at the top of my lungs, swigging vodka coke and kissing any man or woman who wished me a Happy New Year.

My one mission of 2019 was to stay put, and I ended up doing the opposite. Instead of staying in one place, I've spent my year across four countries. I've been one of the lowest I've ever been, but I'm currently one of the happiest. 

As a side note (and prewarning) I LOVE the start of the new year, so this likely won't be the last post on the topic.

Thank you to everyone who graced my 2019. It was a wild ride, but I'm a stronger person because of it and, most likely, because of you.

Love, Alice x

(Photo collage of 2019 below)


24 November 2019

The Groundbreaking Value of Female Friendships

NB: Despite the title saying 'female' this blog post is for anyone who identifies as a woman. It is written to be inclusive of any minority and it is for all of us. Thank you for your strength and unity.

The other night, I said potentially the most meaningful words I've ever said to anyone - honestly, like a film - to my best friend. We were talking about our upcoming Christmas together and I just suddenly felt overwhelmed by how lucky I was to have her in my life.

I spent a lot of time as a teenager, trying to find my Ace Gang. (Applause and wine to all of you who will understand this reference).

I morphed myself to fit into different groups, I social climbed, equating popularity to friendships, and so when I was stood up by a group of 'girlfriends' on prom night, I decided I was done.

I'd grown up being consciously aware and constantly reminded of the 'bromance'. The bro-code, bros before hoes, whatever you want to call it male to male friendship was romanticised.

Meanwhile, female friendships were painted to be bitchy and territorial. And partially due to my own experience, I grew up thinking fights, sly comments and arguing over guys were part and parcel of being friends with women.

But in reality, female friendships are a world away from what they've been painted to be for generations.

The 'friendships' I had forged with the group of girls in my early teens were awful because I had very little in common with them. They weren't my people and I wasn't one of theirs, so the Ace Gang I longed for were never going to accept me because frankly, I was a fake.

However, once I faced the reality that life isn't like chick flicks, I instead put more time and effort into the individual girls who had continuously, effortlessly enriched my life without me even realising it. I was finally realising that friendships didn't need to be competitive or bitchy. That when you find your people or person, you want to encourage and help each other, not drag them down.

And maybe it was pure luck, or maybe it was due to this new understanding, but either way, in pretty much my first week of university, I found my Ace Gang. A group of girls who came together with no obligations, no hierarchy to climb and nobody to impress. Life with them was a blur of wine, cheese and waiting up for dates to end. And I once again had an epiphany of how fucking brilliant female friendships can - and should - be.

This enrichment is one of the most important lessons I've learnt. Being around strong women makes you a strong woman. They have taught me so much, and I've become incredibly dependent on the girls I call my closest friends.

Th gender-bias of society which has ironically shone a spotlight for years on 'bromances', actually means women can connect emotionally to each other on a much larger, much deeper scale. From sexual harassment to office-based sexism, all of us have a story and all of us can relate. It creates a unity like no other, and one which I am both deeply saddened by in its necessity, but equally feel strengthened by the 'sisterhood'.

It may seem warped to call female friendships a 'trend', but there's definitely been a push of support for one another, carried largely by body positivity and the #metoo movement. Dolly Alderton's 'Everything I Know About Love' cited the truest love of all, friendship, in a way which seems to have encapsulated the spotlight on our support system.

On the surface, female friendship is laughter, joy and uniting in period pain and aunts who ask you when you're having children. At its core, it is a navigation through the uncertainty and dangers of being a woman.

It was Queen Carrie Bradshaw, who said: "Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with."

Frankly, I've been aware since I met her that my soulmate is the 5'6 blonde I was introduced to on my first day in Australia, and I could not be more delighted with the result.

And so I wish you all far more than tall, dark strangers, I wish you more than whirlwind, write-home romances, and I even wish you more than incredible sex lives.

I wish you the unfaltering, everlasting love found in the rawest female friendships. Because they are the ones who will stay with you for the rest of your life.


16 November 2019

Does Travel Stop You Finding 'The One'?

The title of this blog post was actually a question posed to me by one of my best friends.

She had just booked a one-way flight to Australia, and asked me, who was working and living in France at the time, 'do you think you're single because you move around so much?'.

We're both very similar. In our early(ish) twenties. Never had a long-term 'adult' relationship. Both fucking terrified of that very fact.

The threat of losing a relationship due to travel is something I learnt very early on and something I always have to keep in mind.

My relationship with the first (and only, lol) guy I've brought home to my parents, broke off because I chose to go to Italy.

At the start of this year, I decided to talk myself out of pursuing the person I liked, because of my plans to go to France and New Zealand.

And then, lo and behold, miss I-won't-date-an-American, ended up, shock, dating an American. We also had to face reality, in fear of getting too attached for our own good, with a deadline of me boarding a plane in 3 weeks.

The good news is, I learnt that not all American boys will stand you up in bars.

The bad news is, I still have to leave both sorts behind.

What I've come to realise, is that whilst I'm living this lifestyle, it's my reality.

Yet, despite all of these instances, when my friend asked me whether travel stops you finding 'the one' three months ago, I answered no.

And if you ask me again,  I'll still say no.

Because here's what I've decided/learnt/heard Emma Watson say on an Ellen segment and held dear to my heart for the last 3 years.

If you're doing what you want to do, the person who is right for you will fall into that path.

Which makes complete and utter sense.

1) I know plenty of single women and men out there who work in big cities and have 'normal' lives. Stability doesn't equate to finding someone. They don't go hand in hand.

2) What would be the point in putting my own life on hold in the hopes you find someone, only to find somebody that lives a different way to you?

3) You're going to be attracted to the same qualities that you value in yourself. A lawyer who's brought a house and has a dog? He's not going to be for me. The Australian who's working in a coffee shop in Europe and lives with housemates to save money for travel? Absolutely.

It might not be who I pictured ending up with at 15, but isn't that the case for most people?

I may feel like I've missed out on opportunities to pursue things with certain people, but if I'm completely honest, the fact that neither of us have pursued it, signifies to me that they aren't 'the one' right now.

From wandering the canals in Milan, to climbing cliffs over Bondi beach, to driving along to Stevie Wonder on a highway in Georgia, I've had some pretty write-home experiences.

But more importantly, I've learnt so much about myself through who I've dated, and I've met some great people (and, tbh, assholes). But you take the bad with the good, and I have no regrets with my decisions to date whilst travelling because really, you never know who you might meet.

I met one of my favourite people in the world in a hostel in Cairns. A 6ft-something, 25-year-old Lothario, whose good looks and charisma had turned the heads of a lot of my friends.

Having some highly-sought-after best guy friends at home, I stayed strong to this. Instead, I became one of his best friends, and thought someone had stolen his phone when, on his first week in Bali, he messaged me saying he'd met a girl and had never felt anything so strongly before.

After 8 days travelling together, they booked flights to meet up again, and she flew back home to Europe.

That was in May, they're still together.

When you're travelling (speaking for myself) you wear the same clothes countless times, you don't really wear makeup, you LIVE in shorts and flipflops/trainers, and you are the most exposed version of yourself.

And maybe it's because of this raw, bare-all you, that there are countless couples I've met who hooked up in a hostel one night and have now been together for months, even years.

So yes, it is something that I think about when meeting someone new. But I will never change my lifestyle just to meet 'the one', because the chances are, my 'one' is also far away from his home country, living out of a backpack too.

And if he's not, then we'll just have to make that work.

Love, Alice x

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