Thursday, 25 June 2015

Moving from London - Melbourne | Tips for moving abroad

If you read my blog regularly, you'll know that in January I hopped on a plane and moved from London to Australia via a month of travelling in SE Asia. Moving across the world was sooo exciting but also pretty terrifying, so I thought I'd put together a few tips in case you might be thinking of doing something similar! 

Firstly, let's have a chat about why you might want to move. For me it was easy to pick up my life and move it, as I don't have kids or own a house. All I had to do was save some money, quit my job, and book a plane ticket... basically. So I know it would be totally different if you had more commitments. But if you're in the same situation as me and think 'one day I'd like to live abroad', I would urge you to do it and take the opportunity while you can. One day should be now! It's scary and unknown, but exciting and I think that moving to a new country makes you see things with such a different perspective. I know I'll go home and notice things that I didn't before. 

Moving has also made me get out of my comfort zone so much, in a really good way. It forces you to throw yourself into unknown situations with people you've never met, and so far it's been great. Plus this is what I kept telling myself before I moved: 'home is only a plane ride away'. I've always been the biggest homebird I know, and still am, but I also love adventure, and home will still be there when I get back. 

Here's a bit of Pinspiration:

Want pack your bags yet? I'm pretty lucky that my boyfriend is from Australia as it's an easy transition from the UK and well, summer. The only downside is how far away it is! 

There are pretty obvious things to consider when you're moving, like getting the good ol visa and plane tickets etc, but these are a few of the little things I learnt from the process: 

Before you go
- If you're going to ship some boxes, do it far in advance. Ours took 6 weeks longer than expected, which meant we had to buy new interview outfits and I was walking around with outta control hair for longer than necessary, while my hair straighteners and hairdryer were chilling in a box floating somewhere around North Korea. Naaat ideal.
- Save up enough dolla to be able to live for a couple of months at least, and use a service to move your money overseas so you don't get ripped off on charges. We used Transferwise.
-  Look for a job before you go. It was harder for us to do this as we were travelling for a month previous to arriving. But getting a job in a new country is so important, and it takes time. I felt like I was floating for so long waiting for responses and interviews. I couldn't wait to get into a routine and meet new people. Oh, and have some money coming in so I could do all the exploring I wanted to do! 

When you arrive
- Pack in the boring essentials in the first two days. This sounds super boring because as soon as you arrive in a new country all you want to do is relaaax in a cool bar by the beach, but we actually spent the first few hours after we hopped off the plane setting up bank accounts, phone contracts (bring an unlocked phone with you if poss), tax numbers, and medical stuff. They can take a few days to process so it's better to get them out the way. Then go and have a drink. 
- Get in touch with anyone you know. I met up with a friend of a friend in my first few weeks, and practically leapt into her arms. It's so nice to see a familiar face and have a good old chat about life down under.
- If you haven't got anyone to stay with or not sure where you're going to be living, book a hostel or an Airbnb before you arrive until you get somewhere more permanent. 
- Get all your family and friends to download Whatsapp and Skype on their phones! And fill them in on the time difference so they know when there are windows to talk. I chat to someone from home almost everyday and it's a lifesaver. 
- Most importantly: explore. It's easy to get into a little routine again and not spend the money on day trips or weekend breaks, but I'm aiming to try new things all the time. I have a 4 page document of restaurants/cafes I want to go to! And I'm planning on going up north and to New Zealand when I can. 

Living abroad isn't all butterflies and daisies, but I'm so glad I did it now. Have you ever lived abroad or would you consider it? x

Friday, 19 June 2015

South East Asia Travels Part 4 | Bangkok

It's been a while since I posted about our South-East Asian adventures, but I'm going to pick up where I left off in Chiang Mai/Pai, and let's just pretend that THIS post, was last week... not three months ago. 

Bangkok was a bit of a whirlwind. Over two days I felt like we saw a lot of it but also none at all. The whole time I had no idea where we were ha! On day one it was unfortunately Alex's turn to be struck with food poisoning. We struggled around the huge and famous Chatuchak market, which was amazing. I wish I could have stayed longer but poor Alex needed to lie down and I didn't want to try and navigate back to our hotel alone as it was pretty far.

Luckily the hotel we had booked turned out to be a dreamy oasis in the middle of the craziness. So much that none of the tuk tuk drivers ever knew how to find it! I lay down in the tropical garden area and read my book with an iced coffee while Alex recovered. I would really recommend this hotel - it wasn't that expensive at all and the room and gardens were lovely.

That evening we headed out for food and I had the most incredible Tom Yum soup. This turned out to be my favourite dish in Thailand - kinda like a thai curry but in a creamy soup form with rice noodles! YUM. 

The next day Alex felt more lively so we headed off to China Town. Squeezing down alleyway after alleyway there were never-ending piles of snacks, fresh food, meat, dumplings, unidentifiable things, and colourful packages and paper. It was a party for the senses!

After A LOT OF wandering, the sticky heat started to get to us. We got lost for a while and then stumbled upon this beautiful park where we lay in the grass to read. We were getting comfortable when suddenly a giant lizard type thing ran past and I was suddenly not lying on the ground anymore. We spent the rest of the time boating around a lake trying to spot more lizard things (komodo dragons?!) and saw some which were the size of small crocs! 

As the afternoon went on, we saw an event being set up across the park. We wandered over, hired a picnic rug and bought some popcorn and lay back to witness a concert starting. It was the most magical and yet surreal evening accidentally listening to live classical music in a park in Bangkok on a hot and humid night.

We found our way to a rooftop bar to finish the night off with a few rounds of cocktails. I would link to all these places that we went to, but as I said, I really didn't have a clue where we were the whole time! Bangkok was so huge! 

I would like to say we spent our last day exploring things like the Grand Palace and some temples. But honestly we'd seen so many temples, all we wanted to do was walk slowly around a sparkly new shopping mall and eat ice cream, so we did. Sometimes you just have to do what you feel like, not what you think you should be doing! Have you been to Bangkok? x

*Read about the rest of our travels around SE Asia... Phnom Penh, Siem Reap + Battambang, and Chiang Mai + Pai

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Home Snippets

We've been in our little flat for over three months now and it really feels like home. Because we moved into an unfurnished place, for me it was important to make it homely with little ornaments so I treated myself with things like candles, plants, and prints. Plus I shipped over a few things from the UK that I knew would instantly make it feel like home to me.

I bought Alex the record player for his birthday as he's building up a record collection that he couldn't previously play. I didn't originally want to put it on display but then I bought the little three-legged table in a warehouse sale and one morning the record player just somehow appeared there. Now I love it and we end up listening to scratchy old tunes whilst we're cooking most evenings.

We definitely have a bit of work to do with pulling it together as it's still not perfect. Heck, we still don't have a bed (I never use the word heck in real life but it just worked here). Our latest project is opening our spare room as an Airbnb which I *think* will be fun. We stayed in one in Adelaide where the hosts lived there, and as it was a weekend city break we hardly spent anytime in the apartment. I'm hoping that that's how it will work! Has anyone had any experience with hosting an Airbnb? x

Monday, 8 June 2015

Al Fresco Breakfast

There is something extra special about eating outside. Maybe it's coming from England where it's a bit of a novelty. I just love picnics, sandwiches on the beach, food markets, and Summer days with barbecues in the garden. Food just tastes so much better in fresh air, don't you think?

Last weekend when Alex cooked up an amazing feast after I came back from a run, I was still feeling hot and although it was cool outside, the sun was shining. So we took our dining table out onto the balcony and breakfasted in our jumpers in the fresh air. Fluffy buckwheat pancakes, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon with maple syrup and banana. It was uhhhhhmazing.

I can't wait to get a little table out there for the Summer and eat dinner outside every night. x

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

5 Happy Things

Blimey, I haven't done one of these lists since March. And not for lack of happy things. It's just getting to that stage in Winter when there is a distinct lack of morning/evening light, and no natural light = less photos. I'm just going to launch right in...

1/ Getting up early on Saturday morning to wander around St Andrew's Market. It took a bit of effort to drag ourselves out of bed at 7am after a late night drinking, but once we were on the train heading into the countryside we perked up a bit. Add a coffee, sunshine, a lot of crisp fresh air, and hippies, it made for a really pleasant weekend morning!

2/ After-work drinks with colleagues. I'm so grateful to be working in an office with fun and lovely people, it makes such a massive difference when you've just moved to a new country.

3/ Ok I promise this is the last point about drinking. But Alex's Mum brought us round a bottle of homemade mulled wine when she came for dinner last week. It was strange to drink wine in May - it tasted *just* like Christmas - but it was sooo delicious and comforting. It didn't last long around here.

No pictures for these two...

4/ As it's getting darker and more chilly, I'm so enjoying quiet weeknights in on the sofa with all of the comfort food and blankets. Alex and I have started watching Mad Men. I'm absolutely loving it! It's not as gripping or speedy as a lot of good tv shows that I've seen, but it's a bit different. I love the fact that it's set in the 60's, the culture was so different and the costumes are gorge. Have you watched it?

5/ Skyping with friends and family. Finding a time that works for two people with a 9 hour time different is really not easy. And I so appreciate my loves back home who make the effort to find a little time slot where we can both natter away. I miss them so much but Skyping makes me feel less far away <3 .="" nbsp="" p="">
Over and out before I get too soppy xxx

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Surprise Trip to the Barossa Valley

On Saturday morning Alex and I got up early to drive to the beach, via the airport to drop his Mum off. As we pulled up to Terminal 4, Alex turned around in his seat and said 'We're going to Adelaide!' (say whaaaa?!) and an hour later we were on a plane jetting off to South Australia! This sneaky Australian of mine is pretty good at planning surprises.

We spent Saturday being driven from winery to winery through the beautiful vineyards. I'd never done proper wine tasting before, and at the first cellar door I felt super awkward not knowing how to swirl the wine properly... and was I supposed to drink it or spit it out? However we relaxed into it, maybe a little too much.... as I was going through these photos, a good 50% of them were definitely on a tilt.

My favourite cellar door was Yelland and Papps, a small family-run place where we sat in their garden sipping wine as the sun started to go down. They seemed so passionate about their wines, and we bought a couple of bottles to take home. Another favourite place was of course visiting the cheese shop, where I was swayed to buy the triple-cream cheese ha. And a chocolate covered fig just because we had to reach the $10 card minimum, only for that reason. We had a quick scout around Maggie Beer as well, where they had the BEST condiments, pates, and sauces to try. I may have eaten half the jar of salted caramel.

It was so lovely to be soaking up some sun in just a tshirt again after a couple of cold Melbourne weeks.  And I feel like I know so much more about wine now! Just gotta start building up that wine collection instead of drinking it. Have you ever been wine tasting? 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Balcony Dreaming

These images make me want to decorate my balcony, pronto! Right now all I have out there is our little potted lemon tree (Raul), some solar fairy lights, and a BBQ. I've thought about a little table and chairs but now I'm planning big floor cushions, blankets, pillows, some lanterns. A place to sit and drink a morning coffee and ponder the day ahead, and then curl up in the evening with a book and a cold glass of white wine.

I love that, like my balcony, these don't all have great views, but they've fully made the most of the space to create little outdoor havens. Who needs a garden, right? Do you have an outdoor space, and what have you done with it? X

Image sources: 1 (unknown), 2, 3, 4, 5

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