Monday, 28 September 2015

Blood Moon

Did you see the blood moon last night? Ralph and I watched it from my garden at 3am. Living in a city I wasn't expecting there to be much to see due to light pollution but the sky was so clear and I could see all the stars and constellations as well as a beautiful rust coloured moon. So magical!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Experimental Travel - Part 2

Following on from my previous post on experimental travel and after a conversation with friends, I have come up with my own experimental travel adventure that I would love to do! This one isn't really something that could be done in a weekend or a few months though as it would be pretty costly and would probably take a lifetime to complete!

It all began with a discussion about La Tomatina Festival in Spain - which in case you didn't know about it is a huge tomato fight in the streets of Bunol in Spain which is held in late August everyday. My friends and I all agreed that we would love to attend and then got to thinking about how great it would be to attend all the weird and wonderful festivals across the globe... 
Well once I began my research I discovered there were so many that it would be impossible to list them all! But here are a few that look especially fantastic....


Holi Festival - Also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love, Holi is an ancient Hindu festival which is primarily observed in India. It is celebrated in spring at the approach of the vernal equinox on a full moon. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships, and is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest.

Whilst you are in India why not visit this festival too:

Jaipur Elephant Festival: The Elephant Festival is an annual event held every year at Jaipur the capital city of Rajasthan. It is organised according to the Indian calendar on the full moon day of Phalgun Purnima (February/March), this coincides with day of Holika Dahan, just a day before Dulendhi, which the Indian festival of colour and joy Holi is celebrated! As the name suggests elephants are the centre of attraction at the Elephant Festival Jaipur. Pachyderms are washed, painted and groomed in all finery by their loving grooms or Mahouts as they are called in India. Elephants are specially decorated for the elephant festival, with chunky elephant jewellery, large anklets decked with bells grace their feet, their bodies are painted with traditional Indian motifs, gold embroidered velvet rugs grace their backs along with silver and gold plated Howdahs and gold embroidered velvet parasol’s.


Thailand has become very popular as a gap year destination and is well known for its infamous full moon festival! However if you are looking for something a bit alternative how about this:

The Monkey Buffet Festival is a really a unique and bizarre Festival held in in the province of Lopburi, North of Bangkok. During the festival 4000 kilograms of fruits, vegetables, cakes, candies is set down in front of temples on tables, in pyramid or just on a simple mat for the delight of the 3000 monkeys living in the area.
The Monkey Buffet Festival also host plenty of activities in relation with monkeys: music and dances with young people dress like monkeys and hand made monkey costumes, masks and monkey sculptures are all created for the occasion.
The Festival was invented in 1989 by a local business man in order to boost the tourism in the Lopburi province. Since thousand of visitors come every year to see the numerous monkeys filling their stomachs!


Home of the quirky and mad, Japan has plenty of festivals to choose from! Here are two I like the look of:

Konaki Sumo: Konaki (crying) Sumo or Nakizumo (sumo of tears) is more than 400 years old tradition organized in some Japanese temples. Konaki Sumo takes place every April in the Sensoji Temple in Tokyo and includes almost 100 babies.Two Sumo wrestlers, both holding a baby, face each other and wait whose baby is going to cry first.There is also a priest who shouts and waves at the babies. If both babies start crying at the same time the winner is the one who cries louder.If all this sounds a bit mean, it should be noted that the festival is also time of praying for baby's health. There is a Japanese proverb stating that "naku ko wa sodatsu" or "crying babies grow fast". It is believed that louder the baby cries the more gods' blessing she or he get!

The Fuji Shibazakura festival is a festival of flowers which gives colour to the Mt Fuji. Around 800,000 shibazakura (moss flox) bloom in beautiful shades of pink at the bottom of the mountain in late springtime every year near the scenic Fuji Five Lakes area, and sees more than 9 million visitors pass through annually.The festival takes place from mid-April through June, but the best time to see the five different kinds of Pink Moss flowers, usually takes place in early to mid-May.

Since I found so many weird and wonderful festivals I am going to split this into a few seperate blog posts - so stay tuned for my next one which features festivals around Russia, America, Europe and some a bit closer to home!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Experimental Travel - Part 1

10 years ago I was listening to the Radio and I heard a review of a book called "The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel" and decided immediately to go out and buy it. Lonely Planet travel guides are pretty well known for being good but this one is a little unusual... It is a book that helps you see and explore the world in alternative ways and offers a playful way of travelling, where the destination is unknown.

The book includes over 40 ways to take a journey, each described by a hypothesis, the equipment needed and the method (along with the results of travelers who have tested out each challenge). Examples of the different exercises range from simple challenges such as taking a friends dog for a walk and letting yourself be completely led by what interests the dog; or a trip that would require a bit more daring and preparation such as 'Erotourism' - in which a couple would travel separately to the same city and then try to find each other without contact.

Another method suggested is to travel by a certain number - for instance the number 12: take a train that departs at 12:12 and get off at the 12th stop. Or, catch a number 12 bus and get off after the 12th person has got on after you. Only stay at hotels that are on the 12th building on their street.

It has always been my dream to travel the world but it can be hard when you don't have the money saved or are restricted in other ways. This book is full of suggestions that can make journeys more interesting and offers ideas that help the reader to see places that you may travel to everyday in a new way. I think the philosophy and concept of the book is really valuable and can really be applied to things beyond experimental travelling - it's about experimenting, relying on serendipity and chance and looking at the world around you a little differently. 

I had sort of forgotten about the book until recently, but having picked it up again I am now toying with the idea of trying out some of the challenges around Bristol! Perhaps I will start a new blog documenting each adventure!

Monday, 7 September 2015


Last week my Mom introduced me to a great new blog called commuteblog which each day features photographs and stories of commuters that the author meets on the tube in London. Each post is just a small snippet into the commuters lives however it is so heartwarming that people are willing to share their stories and offer such an interesting insight to struggles and pleasures of day to day living. This week the author of the blog posted the following quote in reference to the recent refugee crisis.

 It really resonated with me and got me thinking about how so many things in life are so much better shared. With that in mind I started to compile a list of my favourite things to share. What do you love sharing? Think about it and let me know.     

Things that are better shared


Finding a story or book that is so good that you become completely immersed in the world of its characters to the point where you don't want it to end is a rare pleasure... but when you are able to share that with someone equally obsessed with it as you its even better! For me the best personal example I have have of this is the Harry Potter series. My sister and I grew up with the books as they were being released and we absolutely loved them. So many of our games and conversations revolved around the world of Hogwarts - we would dress up in wizard robes, make our own wands, burn paper so it looked like parchment.. all kinds of crazy and imaginative things! One summer we went on holiday to Italy as a family at the exact time when the 6th book was being released (poor organisational/holiday booking skills by my parents ha!) so obviously my sister and I were distraught that we wouldn't be able to get hold of an English copy of the book and may have to wait 2 weeks until we returned to the UK! After traipsing around every book shop in Florence we were able to find just 1 english version of the book and in order to avoid fights we decided we would read it (page by page) at the same time! Whenever one of us wanted to read it the other one would have to as well so that we were always at the same point! 
And actually it wasn't just me and my sister who shared a love for Harry Potter - it involved the whole family! Another summer we went on holiday to New England and spent a lot of time driving from one state to another. Many hours were spent in total silence in the car as we all listened to the recorded version of the Harry Potter books narrated by Stephen Fry. To this day we still love Harry Potter and I love talking to my sister about it and discussing various theories and plot lines within the books!


This is probably quite an obvious and popular choice but sharing music (particularly live music) can be such a wonderful experience. I have been to quite a few music festivals where I have been listening to a favourite band or artist and have then perhaps caught the eye of a stranger in the audience and just without any words or conversation needed have been able to share such a great moment of pure joy and emotion. The same goes for sharing music with friends - sometimes its nice just not to need to speak and just listen to a sound you both love and appreciate.

My top shared music experiences would be:
Bon Iver at Latitude festival
Arcade Fire at Alexandra Palace
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's again at Latitude festival
First Aid Kit at Glastonbury
and one from my teenage years: Bob Marley and the wailers - listened to throughout the summer of 2016 in friends bedrooms and at house parties!


I guess this follows on from my first choice but not having shared my childhood with my sister is something that is completely unimaginable to me. I don't think you necessarily need to have a sibling to share your childhood with - many children have lots of friends (real or imaginary!) cousins, neighbours or pets who they are able to play and have fun with. But surely there can be nothing worse than being lonely as a child. I have so many happy memories of growing up and playing in the garden with my sister and no matter what happens to us as adults and how different our lives may be from one another we will always have that happy shared experience that bonds as and we can look back on and smile. I know not everyone in the world is fortunate enough to have that (a point which has been painfully highlighted by the refugee crisis) which is really heartbreaking. Every one deserves to have a childhood shared with friends and family that they can continue to treasure as an adult.

Painful experiences

This may seem a bit of an odd one to include but I think its an important one. There is nothing worse than going through a painful experience or traumatic period in your life and feeling completely on your own with it. I don't really subscribe to the whole "everything happens for a reason" theory; in my opinion terrible and unfair things can happen for absolutely no reason at all. However I do firmly believe that there probably is something you can take and learn from everything, and that bad experiences do help you to become stronger and more resilient. When I have been in a particularly low and desperate state of mind having the support and love of my family has absolutely saved me and I know that facing those struggles alone would have been near impossible. So for that reason I add painful experiences to my list of things to share. I mean obviously ideally you wouldn't have any to share at all but if you have to go through bad times it makes it that little bit easier if there is someone by your side!

I feel like I don't want to end on that one as its a little bit melancholy but this post is becoming quite long and I don't want to ramble too much! 
What do you love to share? Let me know as it would be great to do a follow on post with other people's stories and memories of positive sharing experiences.

If you would like to follow the commute blog you can check it out here:

other similar and equally great blogs which document the lives and stories of everyday people that I love are:

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Sea side days

 This weekend my family and I are off to Dartmouth which is hosting it's annual regatta. My parents have a flat in Dartmouth so we try and go there whenever we have a spare weekend - especially if the sun is shining! Devon is a beautiful place and something about being by the sea is so calming. The view from the balcony of the flat just never gets old - even when it is raining there will be boats going in and out, fishermen looking for lobsters and crabs. As it happens Dartmouth is an excellent place for crabbing - I once spent the day sitting on the sea front and managed to catch 60 crabs just with a simple crabbing line and some raw bacon! 
I have so many happy memories of days spent in Dartmouth and hopefully the weather will improve for this weekend so that all the scheduled regatta events go ahead and we can sit out in the sun and sea air!

I made and sent the card below to my grandparents who are rather unwell at the moment. I'm sure they would love nothing more than to be able to join us as they also love Dartmouth. Hopefully the card will help them to remember the times we spent there and they can imagine they are sat on the balcony overlooking the river watching all the activities and goings on.

The photographs below were taken by my Mom who could probably fill many albums with her shots of the river and coastline!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


Is there anything better than a good story? A book that you can't put down, a character who you feel such a connection with that you feel a slight sense of grief when the book ends... I have always been a pretty avid reader and from a young age I would often insist a big pile of books being left on my bed for me to delve into before I dropped off to sleep. 
Growing up I mostly read fiction, finding that these imaginative stories offered me solace and escape - a chance to daydream about fantasy worlds and eccentric characters. However as an adult I am now finding myself drawn to non fiction works the real life stories, accounts and experiences from humans around the world.

I first discovered 'The Moth' in book form - a collection of short real life experiences as told at live story telling events worldwide. Once I had read the book of these fascinating tales I then discovered the podcast which is a live recording of these story telling events. To give you a better idea, here is how 'The Moth' is explained on their website: 

"The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it.
Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide.

Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase. Each show starts with a theme, and the storytellers explore it, often in unexpected ways. Since each story is true and every voice authentic, the shows dance between documentary and theater, creating a unique, intimate, and often enlightening experience for the audience."

What's great about the stories featured on the Moth is that the performers themselves are so varied and diverse; people from all walks of life participate from street cleaners to world renowned surgeons. It is such an interesting insight into the lives of others and each story is unique - some describe monumental life changing events whilst others are about simple encounters that may have changed a negative pattern of thinking. 

I would definitely recommend anyone to buy the book and download the free weekly podcast, its hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't enjoy it. The stories I have listened to have made me laugh, cry and reflect upon my own experiences.

Most of the live storytelling events are held across America however there are also regular events in London - tickets sell fast though as they are becoming increasingly popular!
I have also found similar events run by different writing and performance groups in Bristol so I am really looking forward to attending a few of those - who knows maybe one day I will get up and perform myself!

Last night I with a friend to a storytelling event which featured authors and writers reading 10 minute short fictional stories. There was such a supportive atmosphere in the room and it was amazing how the whole audience were just transfixed by the narrators. I guess it just shows that you are never too old for a good story!

To find out more about 'The Moth' you can visit their website here which has a ton of information on the book, how to download the podcast or even get involved and submit your own story!