Risen from the Dead… With Updates

Wow, it’s hard to pick back up writing after TWO MONTHS of silence. I haven’t really had the words – an identity crisis will do that to you. Especially when you’ve put yourself in a box as one type of writer, and then struggle to stay within those parameters because you feel yourself changing. Plus, bearing my heart and soul on the internet week after week got a little straining. You could call the last few months a “vulnerability hangover” of sorts.

Agh, life.

Anyway, the month of June has been busy and fun and crazy and up and down. I will put some of it in here to try and get this ball rolling again. I like this place and I want to stick at it.

Three Peaks Challenge

The three tallest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales, in 24 hours, when one has never climbed a mountain before? Yeah – I like to throw myself in the deep end. This was awesome, but also the hardest thing I have ever done. I am fitter than I was a few months ago but there were some FIT people in my group and I struggled to keep up. It was a brilliant experience and I am proud to have completed it. It’s not too late to donate to the cause – a small orphanage in Kenya that a friend of mine visited last year. Having to close the home down was a possibility and we are hoping the proceeds will keep it open and running for another year. Amazingly, we are currently very close to reaching the £10,000 goal. Click HERE to sponsor me and the amazing group I did the trek with!

Krakow, Poland (#girlsontour)

I think I may write an entire post on this weekend with some extra thoughts, but put simply, it was a fantastic three days. The city break came about through a casual conversation about travel over a dinner in February. Thanks to the incredible organisation skills of my friend Emma, it actually happened. There was six of us, all different but all with something to bring to the table. We tried Polish food and after a hilarious sitting that involved eating steamed vegetables as a starter, promised not to again. We did karaoke, visited Auschwitz and had two dips in the fountain (which made me feel like a kid again, and anytime I feel like a kid, I am happy). Krakow was beautiful but I more appreciated the quality time with five wonderful friends.

Northern Ireland adventures

“I’m in heaven”. That was probably the three words I said most over the weekend. My version of heaven? Green fields as far as the eye can see. Sheep. Cliffs. Castles. Tea. Brownies. More good food. Irish hugs (to clarify, this is essentially a hug from an Irish person. They don’t actually hug very differently but they are IRISH). Irish accents. Swimming in the cold sea. Almost getting blown away by gale force winds. It was the loveliest weekend and my friend Leigh-Ann is a spectacular host. It was almost like a retreat weekend and I was sad to leave. I may have invited myself back for Christmas… (awkward)

Well, that’s it folks. Enjoy the gallery of the above mentioned events. Please forgive me for being flakey and I would appreciate a comment or two, just so I know there hasn’t been an apocalypse…

High Tea at The Ritz London

IMG_5685

Having afternoon tea at The Ritz has been on my Life List ever since I accepted that it was the only way my modest footwear would meet their plush carpet. If you can’t afford a night at the fanciest hotel in London, then dressing up and faking your rank in society for two hours is the way to go. Plus, I just adore the way the British do afternoon tea – it’s an event. And I suspect my first word as a baby was “scone”, or at least it would have been if I was born in Mother England.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m not exactly ladylike. I wear pretty skirts and and even lipstick on the weekend (reow) to cover up the fact that I have the manners of a child. I am learning, slowly, thanks to my friends who tell me off for talking with my mouth full and remind me to wax my legs (TMI?).

Pair my disastrous self with my friend Cate who is 8 months pregnant and one of the most hilarious people I know, and you have yourself a party. You could say this was a highly anticipated day, since we booked it in May when she didn’t have a bun in the oven. As expected, we laughed our heads off the whole way through and definitely had more fun than anyone else there. Quote of the day was definitely…

“I’m just not cut out for this posh shit. Tehehe, I just said shit at the Ritz!”
“At least you didn’t say #^*@”

Though anyone in their right mind would find the idea of paying £42 for SANDWICHES preposterous, myself included, it was worth it. The tea, sandwiches, scones, dessert AND cake was the best I’ve ever had. We ate until Cate’s babeh punched her from the inside and screamed “please, stop woman!” Plus, you’re paying for the experience, right? To be treated like you’re royalty even though they know you aren’t (they can just tell, I think).

And in case anyone was doubting that I’m easy to please; my favourite sandwich was the egg and mayo. Keepin’ it real. Holla if you want to take me on a cheap date.

I took a ton of pictures because I was unashamedly gobsmacked by the splendour.

IMG_5686IMG_5736

IMG_5691

IMG_5692

IMG_5703

IMG_5716

IMG_5732 IMG_5733

IMG_5719

IMG_5740

The last one is of me in the bathrooms, because honestly, it would have been rude not to. LUSH I TELL YOU.

Life Lately

Sorry I’ve been so quiet on the home front. Lots is happening (mostly good) and I’m a little distracted right now. Would like to credit the lovely Cara for the template of this post which I blatantly copied! 

Reading: The Bookseller of Kabul, by Åsne Seierstad . Such a compelling story of what it was like to live in Afghanistan before and after Taliban rule, told by a journalist who lived with an Afghan family for several months, post the tragedy of 9/11. Every time I read I am left undone and thankful for my life and my freedom.

Watching: After watching no TV for about six months, all of my favourite shows are back this week (on US telly which I watch online)! I caught up on New Girl the other night and was having a good ol’ chuckle. Downton Abbey started few weeks ago, which is such a perfect way to end my weekend.

Listening to: Of Monsters and Men, Fun, and Mumford & Sons (their new album Babel is wow, just like everyone is saying. I’m so mainstream, I know)

Planning: How to make the So Worth Loving blog the best it can be. An amazing Christmas with my mum – we are going to Paris and Madrid, plus doing all the fun quintessential English stuff like high tea and day trips to Brighton, Oxford and Bath. Also having a games night at my house next week, which is taking a wee bit of organisation! (I could never be an events planner, ugh. Organising my tiny birthday camping trip was a mission.)

Praying for: I cannot go into detail on anything that I am actually praying for, but these are the key words: redemption, opportunity, courage, humility, forgiveness, provision.

Thankful for: 23 years of awesome, brutal and favoured life. And my friends that always make me feel so loved!

In anticipation of: My birthday drinks this Saturday! (A week late, because I like to stretch my birthday out to last as looong as possible.) Also I am very excited to see my Mum for Christmas, as previously mentioned.

Learning / Thinking on: That spending more money on food in order to eat a healthy diet is worth it. Also when it comes to the grand scheme of life, some things are worth risking and I would rather go the wrong way and have the Lord correct my path than go nowhere at all.

The Art of Travelling Alone

Today I feel privileged to be guest posting over at Single Roots. I’m sharing my top 3 tips for travelling solo, based on my own experiences this year. Would love for you to hop over there and check it out. I would love you to leave a comment and share your view of travelling alone – would you do it or have you already done it? Do you think it is overrated or underrated? 

***

I love the world, and I never feel so alive as when I am exploring a new place. My fierce determination to see Croatia and Greece – two countries I had long dreamed about visiting – saw me embarking on a two-week adventure, alone, this past July.

My wanderlust officially became stronger than my fear of travelling alone.

Okay, so it wasn’t actually my first time going it alone. I visited Edinburgh, Scotland, at Easter by myself. Those three days were a good experience, but two weeks? I didn’t know what to expect, I just knew that I wanted to go.

Continue reading at Single Roots… 

Olympics in London Town

OH HI EVERYBODY! Above is me saying hi to all my internet friends… Call me a poser, bored or just plain silly. It’s all true. I never thought much of PhotoBooth until last night (possibly when I was procrastinating) and now it’s the best thing ever!

So, um, sorry I dropped off the face of the earth for two weeks. It wasn’t planned, but turns out that’s what happens when old friends and THE OLYMPICS come to town!

Oh man, it was so much fun. I wasn’t at work for the 2-week duration of the London Olympics (don’t ask why, just be very envious). So I got to make the most of my old buddies Scott and Macka staying at my place, and experience Olympic fever to the max. There are an awesome bunch of my school friends either living in London or visiting this Summer, so it’s pretty much “reunion time” ALL THE TIME.

I went to a couple of Olympic events and spent the rest of the time in front of the telly or a big screen watching the action. There were screens, pop up gigs and events all over the city, so it was hard to miss out. London did great at hosting such a massive event, I gotta say. The general vibe was amazing and I loved every moment of the festivities. There was a lot of laughing, cheering and crying… Who knew watching athletes succeed and fail was so emotional? Not me.

Here’s a few pictures of exactly what I’ve been up to, and I will resume normal posting next week.

Athens & Santorini: Photo Essay

I’m going to let the pictures tell the story of my time in Greece, simply because it will be more interesting than you reading a play-by-play of my week there.

However, I love words too much to not write just a brief intro to my time in this fantastic country. The ancient ruins of Athens had me stepping back into centuries past of spectacular history. It was surreal being at the Acropolis, and incredible how the ruins were in the heart of the city. The food was delicious and varied, but I didn’t venture much further than Souvlaki and Greek Salad. Those two meals saw me through for 7 days. Delicious!

The people were charming, and did their country proud in the wake of an economical downfall. Greeks are suffering in Athens but there wasn’t an air of depression as anticipated, just friendliness, optimism and financial cautiousness.  Santorini was magical, with it’s picturesque cliffs and views of surrounding islands in the vast Mediterranean ocean. The pictures don’t capture it adequately, they never do. Fun was had with new friends, in the form of quad bike riding, wine tasting and skinny dipping.

What I loved most what Greece’s deep-rooted identity. It’s like no place on earth, with its rich history, passionate people and awesome alphabet! It’s so old.. and coming from a young country like New Zealand, this was particularly fascinating.

All images are my own, taken on either my iPhone 4 or Nikon DSLR (D70) camera.

Croatia: the Highs and Lows

Obviously I’m back from my 2 week holiday and have already resumed being an exhausted (but very happy) Londoner! This week I will be reminiscing and sharing all about my first solo trip with you, so check back later in the week for more.

First part of the trip was with Sail Croatia, with 7 days of island hopping around the Dalmatia Coast. We started in Dubrovnik and ended in Split, with a stop at a different island each night. The sailing (cruise) trip was forced relaxation and I wasn’t about to argue with that. We spent the days lounging, sleeping, reading and tanning. For a few hours of every day we were anchored near a random and deserted island to jump off the boat, which the boys did in style, and cool down from the heat. This was my favourite time of day. I love the water, and a few times I just floated on my own and soaked it all in (literally).

Temperatures sat anywhere between late 30’s and early 40’s degrees celcius every day. And boy, did you feel it! I have never sweat so much in my life. Croatia in one word, is beautiful. It has all of the landscape you could want; rolling hills, rocky mountains and clear blue sea. While on the boat I loved constantly seeing sights like these, and it was the reason that I didn’t take a load of pictures, because they would have all looked the same. Which isn’t bad at all, just means not every single pretty view was photo worthy!

We ate a lot of carbs on the boat, and by the end I never wanted to see white bread again! But I appreciated the effort that went in to our meals by the chef. All of the Croatia crew were very lovely and hard working, they definitely added something special to the experience for us. Oh, and did you know Croatian’s are the second best lovers in the world? This is what they say, though they can’t confirm who come first in this competitive ranking. Interesting!

Highlight of the week on the boat was Dubrovnik (and I thankfully had an extra day there at he beginning). It’s a lovely town and one of the prettiest places that I visited. We also had our first fun night out there. Being a part of Mark’s proposal to Erin in Makarska was pretty special too! They are awesome. My other favourite moments were when I broke off and explored at Stari Grad and on Korcula Island, which makes me sound like a real hermit! Anyone who knows me will know that isn’t true. It just meant I saw more and got to do the things I enjoy (read and write). I do wish there had been more single travellers on the boat as it was mostly groups and couples, but everyone was really friendly.

By the time we got to Split, I was eager to move on and be independent again. Turns out I love my own company when travelling, because I like to experience a place in my own way. Which oftens means wandering aimlessly with my camera and seeing where I end up. I dropped my clothes off at the laundromat then got lost (with my 16kg backpack on) finding my hostel. If you ever want to really experience a city, get lost! Not recommended in such heat though, I nearly died.

I arrived and settled in to the amazing Split Guesthouse & Hostel, which I would highly recommend. Hosted by Josko and his pet turtle, it’s small, personal and charming. Unfortunately, this is when I received the bad news from Josko that my plans to visit the Plitvice Lakes in one day were unrealistic, and probably not worth the trip. If I missed my bus to my next destination I would be ‘screwed’ and there was nowhere to store my backpack while exploring. I nearly cried, and immediately emailed my virtual travelling companion Candace all my woes. I had no perspective in that moment and lost sight of everything, I just felt like an idiot.

The Plitvice Lakes, a place I have desperately wanted to see since seeing a phenomenal picture on my photographer friends’ computer. I hadn’t planned properly and mistakenly thought I could ‘wing it’, only to discover it wasn’t going to happen. One of the first things I thought was, ‘I practically based my visit to Croatia around these lakes, I told everyone I was going and now I will go home a failure.’

After pouring it all out in a pitiful email to Candace (poor girl), I set off for a day filled with my favourite things in a hope they would console me: a walk up a massive hill to a spectacular view point of Split, some frozen yoghurt, finished with a hard-earned swim on a secluded beach. While there I did something I hadn’t done all week and I desperately needed to: I wrote. My frustrations, my fears that were hassling me, and what I was most thankful for. And what do you know, my perspective came flooding back!

I am having an awesome time, I learned a valuable lesson, and I am blessed to be even on this holiday. I am happy, life is good, chin up buttercup!

So I went and booked a train ticket to Zagreb for the following day and was unexpectedly excited about it. I love train travel and it would be a way to see the countryside of Croatia that I hadn’t yet seen. After my lovely day in Split, I was feeling a lot more positive!

My last two nights in Croatia ended up being really fun, socialising with new friends from the hostels I was staying at. To top it all off, I met a woman on my flight out of Zagreb who was in her 50s. She just looked like your average mother, but she and her husband were keen travellers and had been for years. She said ‘We’ve been to Croatia before and loved it this time, I have a feeling we’ll be coming back!’

That’s when it really set in that I have the rest of my life to travel and I will see the Plitvice Lakes one day, because I’ll be back too…

Next stop: Athens! Look out for that post on Wednesday.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik harbour, view from my hostel window!

A Dubrovnik beach

Dubrovnik old town, from the lookout

Swimming

Cliff diving!

Sail Croatia boats docked at Stari Grad, a small town on Hvar Island.

Happy after a bit of reading and journalling on my own, in a secluded part of the beach in Stari Grad.

Stari Grad

An example of our view every night when we docked.

Playing cards on the boat.

Dinner in Makarska

We just needed parrots. Nautical party, Makarska

Nautical Party, Makarska

View of Split from the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, situated within the Old Palace walls.

Purple flowers. The Old Palace is a major tourist attraction but many people now have homes within the walls.

The long road to my secluded beach, where I regained perspective.

All images are my own, taken on either my iPhone 4 or Nikon DSLR (D70) camera.

My Rockin’ & Royal Month of June

What can I say, June was a goodie! There were fun times all round, here’s a few snaps  to illustrate (apologies if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen them):

Victor and Libby got married on the Sunday of the Jubilee weekend! It was a beautiful wedding.

Monday was the Offley Road Jubilee Street Party. I hung out with Will, drank Pimms and played hopscotch.

The swing dancing was fantastic, I loved it so much that I’m planning to
take classes in July.

The dance party went OFF and lasted into the night! Such a stellar event.

Next on the long Jubilee weekend that lasted forever (4 days), on Tuesday my housemates and I got stuck in to the garden and cleared it out. In the rain. Because we’re committed and awesome. It was so fun. Thanks to Bex and Rickie who helped us!

Benny knows how to throw a good party! There was a photo booth, red velvet cake and a BBQ. Plus I got to catch up with old friends! It was something special.

On my way to Jerusha & Tim’s engagement party in the City, I snapped Mr. Gherkin against the dubious skies.

The view from the Hilton Doubletree was amazing – I love Tower Bridge. It’s so pretty.

Michelle from Beyond Rubies and I went exploring around Shoreditch one Saturday morning. I need to do this more, there’s so many gems hidden in the back streets of London. Might start making it a regular thing.

And of course, ultimate highlight of the month, Hackney Weekend. These tickets weren’t easy to get as they were free (put on by BBC Radio 1), so thank you Jojo for getting me one when I couldn’t! Jessie J, Florence and the Machine, and Rihanna were my favourites out of the massive line-up. We were really close to the front and though the 7 hours on my feet at main stage killed me, it was worth it!

That’s it folks! I love this city and the people I get to enjoy it with.

I’m off on holiday on Friday to create some more awesome memories, but I have some delightful guest posts coming up for you in the next couple of weeks. I might pop in too, because I bet the inspiration will be flowing while I’m sunning myself and pondering the meaning of life….

What have you been up to then, huh? I hope June was awesome for you too. Leave a comment.

Thoughts After 4 Years

‘So, how long are you going for?’

‘Well, I have a one-way ticket so I have no idea. But I’m giving it a year!’

That was the conversation I had multiple times before I left Auckland to start a new life in London. Saturday 26th May marked four years since I landed in this city as a wide-eyed, excited and naive child.

I never dreamed about travelling. I never imagined myself working and saving my butt off so I could come across the world. A few months after arriving in London, I went to Paris the weekend before my 19th birthday . It was (and still is) the most beautiful city I had ever seen, and I was elated on life. I couldn’t believe little ol’ me had come this far and was seeing such amazing places. I think that’s what made it so special – that I had never given myself the permission to dream, but on that trip something clicked and anything was possible.

I played a game with myself, often, in the first couple of years. I would be walking down the street with some new friends, or doing something different and exciting, and I would think ‘If someone had shown me a picture of this very moment a few years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it’. Occasionally I still play that game, because it seems my life is still ever-changing. Some days I love that, some days I despise it. We all want routine and security in one way or another.

I read the book One Day a couple of years ago, and it was more to me than a love story. It was a revelation that life never happens how you think it will. Life is unpredictable and that’s the best part. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I’m still here, and that I haven’t done anything that amazing or gone that far or seen that many places. But I have, and I will.

I’ve sky-dived in England.

I’ve snowboarded in France and Colorado.

I’ve explored Edinburgh on a bike.

I’ve photographed a sunset in Malta.

I’ve climbed the Eiffel tower in Paris.

I’ve had a traditional Turkish bath in Istanbul.

I’ve seen the still-standing parts of the Berlin Wall.

I’ve thrown up over the side of a canal boat in Amsterdam.

I’ve been to a casino in Monaco.

I’ve danced on tables in Nice.

I’ve drunk fresh water from streams in the Swiss Alps.

I’ve had Sangria on the beach in Barcelona.

I’ve stayed up late into the night drinking with the locals in Portugal.

The most important thing I’ve done though, is made a life in London. I’ve transitioned from late-teens to early-twenties and learned a hell of a lot along the way. I’ve grown up here. London will always be the place where I learned that life is hard, incredible and everything in between. 

I had a few hours to spare on Sunday, so I took my camera to Southbank and soaked up the sun and the culture. Here are a few of my favourites from the day.

Girl Behind The Words

So I saw this on someone’s blog recently (The Lazy Christian) and I thought it would be a good way for my reader’s to get to know me a little bit. Apart from all the emotional shiz that you know about me already!

First is 11 facts about me, and then I will answer 10 questions that Rachel asked at the end of her post. After I’ve answered them I’ll put some new ones at the bottom of this post for you! (If you are a blogger and would like to take part… go on).

Without further ado…

1. I sleep-talk like a mo-fo. It’s embarrassing. Wedding present to whoever I marry will be ear-plugs!

2. My favourite TV shows are New Girl, Greys Anatomy, Glee and Modern Family. I don’t really watch telly otherwise.

3. I dream of adopting a child.

4. I love soya milk. As a kid my mum used to buy it as a treat for me and it would make me really happy. Weird, I know.

5. I still don’t know what I want for a career and I’m 22. Not awesome. Maybe I should just choose something and run with it? (Not a rhetorical question – all advice is welcome)

6. I sucked my thumb religiously until the day before I turned 10, and then never did it again. My mum tried everything as a kid to put me off but it didn’t work, then something just clicked and I wasn’t interested anymore.

7. I love anything with birds on it. LOVE.

8. I eat apple stickers. Who can be bothered removing them? I thought it was normal till I was ridiculed and learned it’s actually gross. Meh, I still do it.

9. I like going on boats a lot. The sea makes me happy.

10. When I was 13 my best friend Katie stood on my pinky finger with an ice-skate. It’s the coolest thing to happen to me to date (medically, I mean).

11. This year I am getting my PADI (diving) license. Next year I will dive the Red Sea in Egypt.

So these were the questions Rachel asked on her blog for me to answer…. 

1. How’d you come up with the name of your blog?

Crazy Micaela

On the surface, I am a fairly bright and bubbly person. Sometimes I’m plain outrageous (if you’re lucky). But I have always been a very deep thinker, and I really don’t think people who don’t know me well always realise that. I used to be labelled as ‘immature’ and ‘crazy’ a lot when I was at school, which is fine because in a lot of ways I was. But I felt there was an intense, mature and wise side that not everyone saw. ‘the underground micaela’ is where those thoughts are projected and shared.

2. What would your perfect day consist of?
It would consist of bike riding around a European city and capturing it all on my camera. Finished off with someone cooking me an amazing meal and watching a good film on the couch. Oh, and a bath would have to be thrown in there somewhere too. I loooove baths.

3. What’s something you’re really good at that few people know about?
The thing is, if I am good at something, everyone will know about it. (I have insecurities about not being good at anything!) I think I am a good swimmer and if I was fitter I could be really fast. Alas, I’m not very fit.

4. What’s one book you didn’t read/like when you were young that you love now?
Haha… the Bible! (I think that’s pretty standard)

5. Who is your go-to person when you’ve had a lousy day?
Definitely Miss Hayley Williams. She’s so supportive and will give me sympathy when I need it, but not endulge my pity parties. She’s good like that. Plus she is always so excited for me when good things happen, I love sharing with her!

6. Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?
Hmm great question. Apparently whenever I travel I say ‘I could live here!’. I’ve always wanted to live in Japan, though I haven’t been yet, so it’s a ridiculous answer. I’m sticking with it!

7. What’s the most comfortable piece of clothing you own?
Definitely my green Topshop jeans. I wear them all the time. I even wore them on a 12 hour flight on my way home once! Plus they are green = awesome.

8. Do you like to see movies in the theater? Why?
I loooove seeing movies at the cinema! My best friend and I both have Cineworld Unlimited cards and we go at least once a week. I love the experience of a big screen and that everything is so magnified that way. It’s one of my favourite things to do.

9. How do you feel about being in large crowds? 
I hate hate HATE it! Why do I live in London again? It makes me panicky and anxious.

10. What’s the most unusual food you’ve eaten?
Probably snails in Paris.

11. What’s one piece of furniture in your house you wish you could get rid of and never see again?
I don’t have a house. I have a room, and I love everything in it. Sorry to ruin the last question!

Questions for you

1. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
2. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done?
3. In your eyes, what’s your greatest personality trait?
4. Who makes you laugh the most?
5. What’s something you would really like to do in your lifetime?
6. What kind of books do you like reading?
7. If you had to switch jobs or careers, what would you pick?
8. Who do you look up to?
9. What’s something quirky about you?
10. How do you feel about flying in airplanes?
11. What’s the greatest lesson your parents taught you, that you want to pass on to your kids?