We’re trying and that’s OK!

Unless you’re an Instagram famous travel blogger (we can dream), it’s likely that your time on the road, in the skies and at sea will eventually come to an end. For me, and probably many other people, it felt like coming back down to earth with a BANG – like an aeroplane landing in stormy weather. Maybe you hadn’t thought about what you want to do next and, even if you have a plan, it’s easy to see why anything you do next is probably going to be just a teeny weenie little bit underwhelming compared to the previous chapter in your life. I actually had an idea of what I wanted to do next and I was excited about the future but life, as always, had a different plan which made the first few months after I came home much more difficult than most people would experience.

Over the last few months I have felt crushed by the pressure of expectations, of both the people around me and expectations I had placed upon myself. When I say people I’m referring to those family friends and distant relatives (we all know the ones) that see you occasionally and have enough interest in your life to feel like they deserve an opinion but they don’t actually know you very well at all. People accepted, even encouraged my aspirations to go travelling and, when I did, they were impressed by my adventures and interested in hearing the stories. But now that I’m back from travelling and working abroad and no longer have interesting stories to tell they’ve moved on to the dreaded question “So what are you doing now? Do you have a job yet?”. The general stance seems to be that I’m expected to walk straight into a ‘proper job’ and get on with my life but, as the many struggling graduates in our generation will tell you, that’s not as easy as it looks.

As much as I hate being asked this question, (every time I’m asked, it crushes my soul a little bit more) there are only a handful of people who have ever made me feel judged by my apparently inadequate answer. My family are supportive, as are the majority of other people I speak to, they offer advice suggest job openings they’ve seen recently or recount a story of either themselves or their own children struggling to find their path in life or taking a little longer to land a job. Unfortunately, it only takes a few judgers to really get inside your head, especially since society has been placing expectations upon us since the day we were born. Expectations have pushed me to the point where I talk negatively about my current situation. I’m working two part time jobs and one seasonal job as well as volunteering twelve hours a week. I’m trying, I’m gaining experience and skills for my future career and I should be proud of everything I have achieved so far, so why do I feel like I’ve somehow failed?

I can’t seem to get my head around why people are so quick to judge the lives of others when we all have different definitions of success! I’m taking all the opportunities I can to try and make it to where I want to be, I’m not there yet but as long as I’m not slobbing around on the sofa I should be allowed to enjoy the journey.

So to the people who make me feel judged I’d like to say: stop judging my life on the basis of your personal definition of success, please don’t make me feel like I’m doing something wrong just because I’m not meeting your own personal expectations. When your daughter graduates from university and doesn’t walk straight into a graduate job maybe you’ll finally realise how much pressure is put on students and graduates these days.

To society I’d like to say: Where do the expectations end? We need to change our view on the world and make the alternative routes through education and employment a respected choice and not view them as the option for people who have ‘failed’. We need to encourage children to enjoy art, drama, music and sport in schools and not tell them they’re not clever if they don’t excel at traditionally ‘academic subjects’.

And to anyone who feels like they’re in a similar situation to me: We’re trying and we’re learning and that’s ok. As long as the journey makes us happy we should feel successful so don’t let the judgemental types bring you down. This video really helped to pick me up when I was feeling down I hope this helps you too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPmRmz7ySCg

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The Harry Potter Tour of Yorkshire

My friend Millie, who I met while being an Elf in Lapland last year, is quite possibly the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan. Whoa that’s a bold claim, I know, but she’s unquestionably the biggest Harry Potter fan that I’ve ever met! Since there are quite a few Harry Potter filming locations in Yorkshire and the North East, Millie’s visit to Scarborough was the perfect opportunity to do some Harry Potter inspired sightseeing in an effort to prove to her that The North is better than The South.

The Harry Potter tour of Yorkshire began before Millie had even arrived in Scarborough, when she changed trains at York railway station. The scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone set in ‘Kings Cross’ railway station, where Hagrid gives Harry his ticket for the Hogwarts Express was actually filmed on the bridge in York railway station. It makes sense when you think about it, as York is all round a much prettier old fashioned looking station than Kings Cross and you can see why it was chosen as the perfect filming location for such an iconic part of Harry’s journey to becoming a wizard. Even considering the older parts of Kings Cross and its appearance before modernisation in 2007, it’s a bigger, more streamlined looking station and a far less quaint location than York. The scene wouldn’t have had the same effect if Harry had been given his e-ticket next to a lift on a glass and steel walkway.

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I obviously didn’t take this photo myself, credit to Warner Brothers for this bit of movie gold.

Although strictly not a filming location, as Diagon Alley was built as a set (which you can visit at the Studio Tour), there is a street in York called The Shambles, which could easily pass for Diagon Alley with its little old higgledy piggledy Tudor style buildings. Unfortunately, you can’t buy an owl or a nimbus 2000 in any of the quaint little shops and there and there isn’t even a bookshop (they’re really missing a trick there) but you can buy any flavour of fudge you could ever imagine and even pick up a wand for a reasonable price, although Ollivander won’t be there to help make your choice.

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Goathland station serves a small village on the North York Moors Railway line and was the filming location of Hogsmeade station in Harry Potter. The station still looks almost exactly the same as it appears in the films and muggles are able to travel to and from Hogsmeade on a steam train but there’s no guarantee that you’ll see the Hogwarts Express. There’s not much in Goathland apart from the station, some wild sheep, a few shops and a pub. The village doesn’t seem to have much interest in the fact that Harry Potter was filmed there. Just like the shambles, the shopkeepers are really missing a trick. The shops all sell Heartbeat (an old British TV drama) memorabilia but only one of the shops stocked any Harry Potter related things. As Millie said, the village doesn’t look much like Hogsmeade but they could definitely attract more tourism than they’re probably getting from Heartbeat by stocking a few more Harry Potter related products and getting Butterbeer on tap in t’pub. You won’t find a Honeydukes or Zonko’s in Goathland but a trip on the steam train makes for a great day out and you can pretend you’ve travelled to Hogsmeade on the Hogwarts Express!

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Millie, a Hufflepuff in her natural habitat.

 

Other nearby Harry Potter filming locations include:

Alnwick Castle in Northumberland was used for exterior shots of Hogwarts Castle in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Durham Cathedral was used for filming some of the corridor and classroom scenes, as well as exterior courtyard shots in the earlier films.

Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales is one of Harry and Hermione’s camping spots while they are on the run in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

Find out how Millie and I met and read my adventures of being an Elf in Lapland:

https://couragenerugitpastoujours.wordpress.com/category/lapland/

Pancake Day Flipping and Skipping

In Scarborough, Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day is more commonly referred to as Skipping Day. On the afternoon of Shrove Tuesday, when the pancake bell has been rung by the mayor, people flock to Scarborough’s South Bay to take part in long-rope skipping, pancake races and games on the beach, a tradition which has taken place in Scarborough for over 100 years. So today, as well as eating pancakes for breakfast, I’ve been down at South Bay along with the rest of the town, since Scarborough folk like to earn their pancakes by vigorously exercising all afternoon.

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People along Foreshore Road watching the pancake races and children playing on the beach.

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Foreshore Road filling up with skippers.

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Blog’s First Birthday

It’s been one whole year since I published my very first blog post and my blog has turned into more than I ever thought that it could be. I started this blog as a diary for myself as a way of preserving my memories so I could look back and remember all of the amazing things that I’ve done over the last year. I wanted to publish my stories on a blog so that my friends and family could see what I was up to, I never imagined that people who didn’t know me would read, like and comment on my stories and even follow me and my adventures. I’m so grateful to everyone who takes the time to read my blog posts and show an interest in my adventures.

I’ve had an amazing year, I’ve visited beautiful places, done some incredible things and met so many inspiring people. I’ve seen the northern lights and I’ve driven a snowmobile. I’ve been stuck up to my waist in snow, I got frost nip and I met the real Santa Claus! I travelled to a new continent and swam in the Indian Ocean. I saw a wild monkey, learned a traditional Santali dance and ate so much breakfast curry. I’ve gone from temperatures as low as -42c to as high as +42c and done so much more in between but most importantly I’ve made amazing friends that I will never forget.

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Hello Autumn

Autumn is my favourite season of the year.  It’s the season of cinnamon, gingerbread and pumpkin spiced lattes. It’s the season where the crisp leaves start falling from the trees and the air smells of smoke. Smoky air in any other season would feel wrong, your first though might be ‘what’s burning’ and I don’t mean the smell of burned sausages on the barbeque. I was out searching for conkers today and the air smelled of smoke, the nice kind of bonfire smell. In the height of summer it might have been too overpowering a smell but in the crisp air the bonfire smell was comforting and warming, creating that autumnal feeling for the first time this year. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually find any conkers, apparently I was too late. All that had been left behind by the greedy squirrel or competitive school child were empty shells. I was never much of a conker player when I was younger but I used to love running through crunchy leaves on the way to school in the morning. The satisfaction that comes with crunching a good crisp leaf is on a par with popping bubble wrap and if we all did it more often there would probably be a little less stress and anger in the world.

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You Don’t Have to be the Perfect Traveller to Travel

Two weeks ago I went on a trip for work to meet some students at Cologne Airport which is only 15km, or a short train ride, from the city centre. My inbound flight arrived at around 2pm and, as I had an overnight stay, I was fully intending on taking the short trip into the city and making the most of the opportunity to explore a city I had never visited before in a country I have only ever briefly stepped into (literally).

I left London with grand plans of navigating my way into the centre of Cologne on public transport and I had a list of places in the city that I wanted to go to. However, after landing a little later than expected and waiting longer than I would have liked for the hotel shuttle, I really didn’t have the energy to explore. Before this trip I’d never really travelled alone and, although I was on the same flight as some of our students heading home, I was responsible for getting myself to Cologne, I couldn’t rely on anyone else to help and I couldn’t just be a sheep following the herd as I’m guilty of usually doing when travelling with others.

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Back in The Toon

When I graduated from Northumbria University in July 2015 and left Newcastle, I was convinced that I would be making regular trips back to my favourite city over the year to come. My friends still lived there, it was much better for shopping than Scarborough and I liked being there. I knew that I had hopes of travelling during the year ahead but I fully expected that, when I had some downtime between my trips abroad, I would return to my favourite city and not let Newcastle become the place where I used to live. In reality, I moved back home, then I moved to Finland. A few months later I came back home again, then travelled some more and I was busy. My friends were now in their final year of University, they had lectures to attend and dissertations to write. I’d met new friends while I was working abroad and, rather than returning to Newcastle, I visited my new friends because I was all too familiar with the dissertation stress that my University friends would be experiencing. I didn’t want to bother them during the crucial last few months of their degrees or take up the valuable floor space that would inevitably be covered by miscellaneous lecture notes and textbooks.

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Kelly’s Scarborough Adventure

When I was living in Newcastle I was totally spoiled for choice with lovely places to go for tea, coffee or lunch with friends but now I’m back in Scarborough, where everything seems to be set up for either tourists or grannies. Scarborough has definitely been lacking in cafes and coffee houses appealing to my generation, until now. Yay Coffee is my absolute favourite new place to go for a hot drink in Scarborough. My best friend Amy introduced me to Yay Coffee in October, just before I moved to Finland, and I’ve been taking more of my friends there ever since I’ve moved back home. I love the atmosphere, the staff are so friendly and it’s just a nice environment to sit and chat over a hot drink. I find a lot of coffee shops (especially chains) lack the cosy feeling that makes you comfortable enough to sit and chill out for a while. Naturally, the first stop when Kelly came to visit for a weekend of post-dissertation sunshine was to head to Yay Coffee with Sophie and have a much needed catch up over hot chocolates. I can’t quite believe that I hadn’t seen Kelly for seven months which is an incredibly long time considering we used to live together and I’d get to see her beautiful face every day (creepily peeking around my bedroom door in the morning while I was pretending to be asleep)! The last time I saw Kelly was at a bus station in Prague in October and since then we’ve both been hopping all over the world.

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A Day Beside The Seaside

As a pit stop between more exotic adventures, I spent a day in Brighton with Ashley, Jasmine and Millie before jetting off to Vienna for an Elfie holiday (more about that later). As it was raining in Brighton, we started the day with an early lunch at Foodilic, a healthy all you can eat buffet with so many vegetables! It was heaven for us girls but torture for Ashley! I was really impressed with the number of healthy, vegetarian and vegan food options in Brighton, both cafes and health food stores. I was feeling a little bit jealous that there’s nothing like that near where I live but then again it’s said that Brighton is the smaller seaside version of London so I should have expected it really!

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Being a Tourist in London

Last week was the first time in two years that I’ve found myself in London without summer school. I’m very familiar with some of the best known tourist sights in the capital but, when I’m in London with work, I don’t get much free time to see things that aren’t part of our itinerary. The majority of famous sights in the capital are included in the kids’ tour but there are a couple of things that I either hadn’t seen before or hadn’t seen for a long time. So, since I didn’t have sixty eight teenagers to keep an eye on, I spent the best part of a day wandering around a combination of my favourite places, sights I wanted to visit again and things I’d never had the chance to see before.

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