REFLECTING ON 2017: MY TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS

Well hello there! Remember me? I did say I was going to be very bad at blogging this semester, but I’ve come out of my Masters-hibernation to write this reflection because I absolutely love reading other bloggers’ posts about their yearly highlights, and I really enjoyed writing one last year for 2016, which you can read here.

2017 has been one hell of a year, starting out living in the southern hemisphere all the way in Australia, and ending it back home in Manchester. It was hard to narrow down the list to just 10 favourite moments and I could have rambled on forever about each and every one, but somehow I managed it, so sit back and enjoy my brief highlights from 2017 before we welcome in the New Year.

Getting onto/Starting my Masters degree
Both of these go hand in hand really, as getting onto the course in the first place was such a big achievement for me. I’m one of 18 who got accepted onto it and couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to be suffering doing it with. It’s a really intense and difficult course and everyone is so supportive of each other and we’ve all become super close (I guess mutual stress and pain brings people together???). I don’t think I’ve ever said on the blog what my course actually is, just that I’m doing one and that it’s the most stressful thing I’ve ever experienced… Either way my MSc is in (take a breath) Neuroimaging for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience.

Au pairing
I wrote a post a few months ago about au pairing, and it is definitely one of my top highlights of 2017. I grew a lot as a person over those seven months, and it taught me that I can actually be a responsible adult when needed, and I’m capable of much more than I thought. Not only that, but I became so attached to Poppy and can’t imagine my Australian adventure without her.

Road trip through the outback
14 hours… 14 hours we drove from Orange to Adelaide, and was it worth it? Hell to the yeah it was worth it! I saw my first wild kangaroo, took pit stops in some proper rural towns, and got to visit my friend Toby in Mildura while he was completing his farm work. I also got photos at the NSW-Victoria, Victoria-South Australia, and South Australia-NSW borders which were such tourist moments but hey, it’s what I was there for.

Adelaide Fringe Festival
The Garden of Unearthly Delights was undoubtedly one of the most, dare I say it, instagrammable places I’ve ever been to. It was an incredible display of weird and wonderful lights and decorations, and pop-up bars and stalls had been derived from all sorts of things such as buses (yes, buses) and big-top tents.

Melbourne trip
Ah, Melbourne. Although Sydney was the place I called home, Melbourne is the city that holds my heart. Back in April I took a week-long holiday there and stayed with my Aussie friend, Issy. She took me to an AFL game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected, introduced me to a cafe dedicated entirely to bagels, and we road tripped along the Great Ocean Road. Her family were nothing but kind to me throughout my stay, and I’m so grateful for their hospitality that week. My friend Josh also took me on a tour of the city that included Hosier Lane, which was so cool, and I reunited with some friends I met in Sydney that I hadn’t seen in a while. At a time where I had been quite homesick this trip really cheered me up because, where Sydney is more like London, Melbourne is basically Manchester but with better food and better weather.

Boomtown
In August I experienced my first proper festival, and what an insane 5 days it was. Everyone I spoke to whilst there mentioned that I had picked an intense festival to start with, and, well, they weren’t wrong. Boomtown Fair is basically another city in itself, with different sectors and districts divided into Uptown and Downtown. Each year provides another chapter of its ongoing story, and there are actors all around the site playing out theatrical roles that make you feel like you’re actually living in this spectacular, made-up world. Another highlight from it was that I got to see Skindred live, who I’ve been a fan of since I was 15, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Glasgow Pride
During our annual visit to see the fam, Mum and I went to Glasgow Pride in the city centre, and it was nothing short of fabulous. Whether you were in the parade itself or just a spectator like we were, the whole day had a great atmosphere to it and I know we’ll be doing it all again next year.

Getting a job
After getting onto my MSc, my biggest worry was how I was going to fund my living expenses for the year, as my tuition fees take up my whole postgraduate loan. At the end of August though I got offered a part time job working for my University and I absolutely love it. Although working 20 hours a week alongside a full-time Masters is bloody stressful, I’ve never had a day where I’ve woken up dreading going to work, and I know that if I survive the next two semesters doing both then I’ll be a stronger person with a crackin’ CV.

Getting a car
I’m so in love with my Mini and extremely grateful for it. It’s improved my social life so much because I can just drive round to friends’ house without having to worry about walking around Fallowfield alone at night, and because I don’t drink I can drive to our local pub to hang out with my fave surf pals when they make last minute plans.

Tenerife and falling in love with surfing again
Although I vowed that I would never spend another Christmas in the sun, this year I spent it in Tenerife with my Mum. I’m so glad I went, not only because it was a nice break from the freezing cold English weather, but also because as part of my Christmas my Mum paid for me to do a surf school while we were there. I started surfing two years now but since the UMSC 2016 trip to Fuerteventura I’ve only been doing it every so often. Even in Australia I only surfed a couple of times, so I’ve not really improved much since I started. I also get quite anxious before getting in the water because my upper-body strength is basically non-existent and I always fall behind the group when trying to paddle out. Cue Tenerife and Kontraola Surf School! I spent the majority of my holiday in the water with the most amazing and supportive instructors who will always hold a special place in my heart. Surprisingly I was fine with paddling out back and over those two weeks I improved so much, with Miguel and Victoria teaching me how to turn properly and almost cutback (read: try to cutback but wipe out on rocks). I injured myself a lot over the week but hey, no pain no gain, right? I feel like I really needed that trip to make me fall in love with surfing again and get my confidence back up in the water, and now I’m sure as hell ready for Portugal in April with UMSC.

 

So there you have it, my top 10 highlights of 2017! I understand it’s quite a lengthy list, especially the last highlight, but amongst all the negative things that might have happened throughout the year it’s important to focus more attention on the good, and to continue doing so in 2018.

 

Until next year!

Liv

xo

STRAWBERRY PICKING @ BEERENBERG FARM

Good morning/evening wherever you are in the world! Aside from Fringe Festival, strawberry picking at Beerenberg Farm was also on my to-do list whilst in Adelaide. I had been told that this farm, located just outside the German town of Hahndorf, produces a really well known jam brand in Australia, and that it attracts a ton of visitors keen to pick and fill their punnets with the tastiest strawberries for themselves.

As a backpacker I wanted to see what fruit picking would be like, even if it was just for lesuire and not for regional work with the pressure of time and making money. This was a super fun way to try it out and made for a good day out away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Entry to the strawberry fields cost $4 for an adult, free for children, and your punnets are weighed at the end, costing $9 per kilo. This works out to be more expensive than just buying them from a store but then you wouldn’t get the experience of picking them yourself right from the plant. Plus you can choose the best looking ones and Poppy came out looking like a serial killer from the amount of strawberries she had shoved into her mouth along the way.


It was so much fun hunting down the biggest and most vibrant strawberries, although I couldn’t do it all day long as it would kill your back! It didn’t take us long to fill our punnets to the brim, so we made our way back to the shop by the main entrance to pay and I couldn’t resist buying a jar of homemade strawberry jam to take home.

If you decide to visit Adelaide head to Hahndorf to explore the town and go strawberry picking yourself, or if you know of anywhere near your town that offers the experience, give it a go!

Until next time,

Liv

xo

ADELAIDE FRINGE FESTIVAL: THE GARDEN OF UNEARTHLY DELIGHTS

Hello hello! Last week Sophie and I embarked on a 14 hour road trip through the Aussie outback to Adelaide. It was a super fun week and I got to see a city I had never originally planned to visit. I had a list of things I really wanted to see and do while we were there, and Fringe Festival was at the top of that list.

Full of energy that was not at all dampened by the rain, the Garden of Unearthly Delights was the perfect set up for carnival-like venues and quirky stalls.  The street leading up to the entrance had been blocked off so no cars could pass through, so the sidewalk was full of outdoor seating for bars and restaurants, whilst the road itself was packed with people making their way to the Garden. Down one alley a pop-up bar had been put together using the scaffolding attached its neighbouring building, which looked so cool and definitely deserved a 10/10 for creativity.


As we walked into the Garden itself, the lights dangling from trees brought a magical feeling to the place already. Instantly I noticed the British double decker bus that had been turned into a bar, and an old single that was now a thrift store. Once again, top marks for imagination. The same can also be said for the rest of the venue. Every food and drink stall brought its own unique design, including Mojitos being served from a decked out caravan. I couldn’t resist buying some freshly cooked donuts from the hut next to the big top tent, and when I say “some” I mean 6. Whoops.

‘Market City’ offered a variety of shed-like shops selling clothes, handmade crafts, and Henna body paintings. I bought a super cute dream catcher for $15. It’s small enough to fit neatly in my suitcase or hand luggage when I fly home, but I would have gladly bought the larger version if travelling with it wasn’t an issue.

The Garden of Unearthly Delights wasn’t just food and drink stalls, there were ticketed shows and sideshows going on in all the venues scattered about, but I was happy just wandering around the garden itself.

Although Adelaide’s Fringe Festival has now packed up for the year, I would definitely recommend visiting during their 2018 season whether it’s to go and watch their performances or just bask in the wonder that is the Garden of Unearthly Delights,