The logistics of our road trip and how it’s effected me

road trip

I’ve been meaning to work this out since we came back at the beginning of May but just kept putting it off. I am not a maths person, numbers bore me but I want to know how many miles we drove! I think that’s so interesting. I want the number – just to throw out in conversation, ‘Yeah, cool story bro, but did you know I drove X number of miles around Europe in two weeks?! Yeah, you’re right, I do sound like a douche bag. Please carry on with your story.’

Also the route. I want an image of the route. We didn’t plan where we were going other than a very loose idea of places we wanted to visit. Like Mc Hammer trousers loose. I have a scratch off world map, which I’ve already scratched off the 5 countries we visited but in comparison to the whole world it looks like we accomplished nothing and makes this blog post sound pointless – I’m proud when I just get out of bed in the morning. All these facts and photos will go into a special ‘Up’ scrap book that one of my best friends bought me and I can be all sentimental and feel special in my own house and not in front of all of your eyes. But for now I am 1: very proud I did maths and 2: proud of James and I for our first road trip around Europe.

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We visited 5 countries; France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and The Netherlands. We went for two weeks, stayed in a different hotel/hostel/airbnb/campsite every night and booked them on the day or the day before. This map is a very rough route of what we did, it doesn’t include going to the supermarkets or when we had to leave Luxembourg to go to Belgium to buy sleeping bags, then back to Luxembourg and it doesn’t include a few places we visited on the way to other places. Also doesn’t show our actual starting point which is our home but we don’t need anymore stalkers – no offence.

Probably could have done a more practical route, I honestly didn’t know it was this shape. I thought it was more oval and that’s how I’ve been describing it to people. Still absolutely recommend every place we visited and wouldn’t change anything.

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So the time is here.

All my data comes from google timeline – so if we didn’t have our phones on us (which for me was the whole two weeks) no data was recorded, including if our phones was off (but then it’ll hop to the other place and work out miles, but not time.. I think..)

In two weeks we did 1733.7 miles of driving. That is 50 hours and 27 minutes.

We also recorded 30.31 miles of walking which is 16 hours and 46 minutes. I think this could be way off, only because we always had the phone with us in the car but we didn’t always walk with a phone. But this is the number I’m taking! Especially after a time I’m too embarrassed to say of working out the math.

One of the first posts mentioning this road trip was about our old route that we wanted to take – then couldn’t so decided on no route. That route was 1956 miles which google maps said would be 31 hours. How have we done less miles than that but more hours? Traffic I suppose, that’s a big different though. So we did a little less than the original plan we had to scrap but that was going all the way to Poland anyway. I’m proud of our 1733.7 miles.

Also in that post I spoke about my deodorant – ‘What more, I’m going for a completely aluminium free one, so look forward to updates on my armpits. Exciting times ahead.’ – then I never did update you and funnily enough it was one of the first things my Mum mentioned as I got back. The verdict? Pretty useless to be honest. I used it all up and I’m onto another ‘healthier’ deodorant, but when you are having a busy day they’re pretty crap. You have to weigh the pros and cons of spraying aluminium on your armpits. Unless you’re not a sweaty betty then it’ll probably be fine for you. I just dealt with it, like a woman, where as James gave up in Germany and bought Lynx or something. He did stink though.

 

I’ve written and re-written a few posts now, about how this trip has effected me. They were too long, too much and I got bored reading them back. Really positive things are hard to read through. Also I spoke about the shit side too, where you get the holiday blues and it’s just.. ahh all too much. So I want to keep it simple.

It’s like that road trip has aliened me. Before I was an out of tune guitar string but now I’m humming a perfect E. I’m still out of tune a lot of the time, don’t get me wrong. I still suffer with anxiety and depression, I get very sad and stressed, I still want to run away from everything some times and bury my head in my 4 year old brothers sand pit. And that’s putting it all lightly. I think you just know in yourself if you’re on the right track, don’t you. Maybe it’s all about being true to yourself. Maybe I lied too much about what I want. It’s not me to sit around. It’s not me to be serious. It’s not me to be indoors all the time. It’s not me to be in an office and only pay off a mortgage for the rest of my life. Getting too deep down the rabbit hole, simple, Emily, simple. What is me? Well, I’m buying my boyfriend and I adult scooters for his birthday. That’s me.

Life before my road trip does genuinely seem so different and foreign. I wouldn’t say I’m a better me in anyway but I do think I’ve become more chill and more confident. I definitely value a day more, I realise what can be done. I also spend my days differently. There’s excitement back. Like.. I can do what I want. That’s okay.

Like yesterday was a normal work day, when I finished I went round my boyfriends house and we chilled for a bit then he washed his car. I ate burnt marmite toast. Anything else? Had a coffee I think, watched some youtube, for sure. Then as evening came it was a bit like ‘what now?’ I’m done with sitting. I don’t want to watch TV, I don’t want to be indoors. I think it’s a lack of options that make people unproductive. You have to be creative to come up with things to do in a normal day, just to make it that little bit more special and exciting.

We got in the car, I was still wearing my work uniform but put on James’s crocs instead of my boots, and James drove. We had no plan but ended up going to a park, I had a few beers, we played with our new fidget spinners that were bought for us, pretended to do tricks – I actually managed to spin it on my massive bump of a forehead, finally a use for it – sat in the sun on a bench, said ‘parakeet’ every time one flew by. Then went back home.

Now, not for everyone, everyone has their own cup of tea but I’m so happy I’m not drinking others anymore.

Among the chaos there’s a little bit of peace in me.

I thank those 1733.7 miles. And James of course.

14 days, 8 magnets, 4 countries

Like my postcard post, where we sent my Mum 9 postcards from 4 countries on our road trip, we also bought ugly magnets for James’s mum. The irony that you’re in a beautiful country and you buy a crap fridge magnet to remember your time is just wonderful. We didn’t buy any for ourselves but we do have a tacky tulip from The Netherlands that I’m in love with. Are there any better souvenirs than that over priced rubbish? Nope.

I took photos of the beautiful locations of where we bought them.

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The locations? In order;

Bruge, Belgium

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Frankfurt, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Bonn, Germany

Dusseldorf, Germany

Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

 

Was the camping trial a success?

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The long drive home started at 10 am ish and straight into dense and misty rain. Lucky we left when we did and we didn’t have this when packing the tent away this morning.

We had two goals today before leaving. That’s how we travel actually, we generally make a loose goal for the day. No plans, no agenda, just a thought that pops up on the day. So yesterdays was to walk to the beach in glorious sun, shorts, bikini on, ready for beach life and unfortunately we couldn’t do that. Though still managed to visit them. We probably did more yesterday because it was raining to be honest. Today we wanted to have cream teas and dip our toes in the sea. Not at the same time. Well, preferably not.

I like to think of myself as a fun person, I’m pretty playful and in my head I can imagine me jumping into the sea. In my brain I ran in with my arms in the air, screaming but getting a great buzz while freezing my tits off. I’m wild in my head. James and I just aren’t extreme sports people really but I would like to be. The bravery escapes me. I don’t mind getting wet or cold, it’s just effort isn’t it. I need to sort that shit out. That’s another summer goal to do; one extreme sport. I have one is mind.

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Anyway! Cream teas were delicious and the sea bitterly cold. The teenagers serving us our scones and tea were surfers, obviously, who isn’t? We were agreeing it’s a shame about the bad weather yesterday and he said ‘but it was great for surfing!’ We could have been like ‘oh yeah! It was!’ or asked if he surfed, which is what he implied. Instead, us fatties scoffed our scones and went silent with a look on our faces that clearly we couldn’t relate to him. At least James bought a hoodie last night to fit in. As soon as we turned up he said that I really fit in with the style, where as he was wearing working men trousers, timberlands and a water proof jacket. I rocked up in a hoodie and flip flops. He needed a hoodie. I’m only joking though, it’s a town where you can’t not fit in. Everyone does, as you are.

Also if James really wanted to fit in you wouldn’t exactly buy a bright red one with ‘Newquay’ and ‘Lifeguard’ on. It’s the same one that I bought 9 years ago – but I remember paying £20 and his was £10. Mr Hip-Hop from the first night (who we did end up bumping into at the clubhouse last night) said ‘new jumper?’ I replied ‘how could you tell?’

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The scones really were delicious though, I swear down I’ve never had such good scones before. Although I can’t remember how they pronounce it in Cornwall – it’s an age old argument among the English. James and I say scone as in gone. Well, now typing this up I think I say it both ways because in my head I said scones as in cones. It’s so troubling. I did have a worry about whether the cream goes on the top or bottom too, let me google it now. Yes! we did it right. Well that didn’t change my life at all.

I suggested a brilliant idea to James. Seeing as we both have crap balance we know we will never become pro surfers. Life goal ruined. So we have a plan that one day we will go onto the Cornwall beaches with all the surfers, in our wet suits, act all gnarly and do the dude hand symbol, like look really cool and hip. Then blow up a rubber boat, run slowly into the sea and surf the waves with that. We would also have beers in our boat.

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On the journey home I asked James what song reminds him of our road trip through Europe. I’m very much a sentimental person and music, smells, certain things remind me of experiences. There’s a deodorant by sure that really reminds me of Avril Lavigne. A certain song reminds me of the start of our relationship. A certain type of jingle makes my brother dance around doing ballet in my head. One of the surfer pubs we went to threw me back to being 17 with how everyone was dressed and the music playing. You get the picture. So his answer was Somebody To Love by Queen – when the song kept loosing signal but I would still screech out the words, then the song would start again two seconds later so I would re-sing the same words and then it’ll stop again etc. Mine is Handlebars by Flobots. How James was shouting out the words while we were driving through Germany. I’m so sentimental, those memories are very special to me.

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That was all for our first camping trip. The end. People doubted the idea because it was so far away and for only two nights – but I so recommend it. I don’t recommend it if you are seriously lacking sleep and hungover, the drive there was a bitch, but the journey back was wonderful. I take sickness pills and they generally completely knock me out but I fought it for a few hours out of guilt of being a passenger. I should have just slept because I was a zombie but on the inside those travel pills made me feel amazing. They completely chill you out and for someone who has anxiety everyday it’s just mind blowing. Don’t worry, I’m not a travel sickness pill junkie. But then after about four hours we were both buzzing and having a hoot of a road trip. It was all a hoot. Hoot.

 

The camping trial – Newquay, Cornwall

Really, really tried to wake up at 6am. Managed 4 1/2 hours sleep which is pretty good considering we were at a Kiss concert last night. I had 5 alarms on which bloody hurt my hungover head and I gave it my best shot at snoozing and ignoring them, hoping it was a different day. Once I did get up to try and get out some of this alcohol poop that’s still lurking inside of myself I couldn’t straighten my legs and had a small freak out. Too much exercise and standing I suppose, and I recon I slept in the fetal position all night after hearing the devils music.

My brother made a funny comment that Kiss was a sign of the devil back in the day, less so than other music about, it was still glam rock, but you know what I mean. They dress up, act scary, then play a bop that’s harmless that everyone sings along to. I compared them to the Spice Girls actually, they wear the same footwear at least. There was a really dramatic bass solo by Gene Simmons. He looked up to the heavens as blood began to drip from his mouth, then back down at hell as he strummed his bass guitar, the blood pouring out of his mouth and off his extended tongue. To finish he breathed fire. I know right.. Then straight into another one of their innocent songs while everyone raised their hands in the devil sign. I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day. It was funny from an outside prospective, I really enjoyed it.

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Oh lovely, James got me a coffee from the petrol station. So we actually left at 7:46 after packing those last few bits that are easy to pack so you wait till the morning – rather than being sensible and do it in advance so you can leave on time. Travel pills taken, travel bands on, burnt marmite toast eaten, sunglasses on and we were out of the door. Then back in because we forgot pillows. And again for the water. Then the tea and coffee. We really aren’t organised humans.

4+ hours of driving on 4 1/2 hours of sleep.

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My past experiences of camping are the duke of Edinburgh award, caravan holidays with my best friend and festivals. All enjoyable and successful? Yeah, both. When it came to putting up this tent though, well let’s just say we got there in the end. I wanted to document it and also our first meal but you actually have to continuously do stuff. Surprise, surprise. I remember the part of doing the tent as soon as you get to your destination, check! I remember getting stuff done before you relax, check! I don’t remember my legs hurting this much but that’s unrelated (even though you’d expect that on DofE but I was a youthful 14 year old at the time). I don’t remember being this tired but again probably unrelated because the lack of sleep. Also don’t remember it being this confusing on how to get water. I walked around the toilet block twice before I decided to use one of the 5 taps. I styled it out by going to the bathroom and just looked like I was curious about this campsite – like all the campsites I’ve been to were completely different, like I was a pro just taking my time. James said he would have just used the first one he came across. I overthink.

I don’t know why I do stuff like that to fit in. It’s okay to be a beginner. It’s good actually, that’s where everyone starts and sometimes it’s even more enjoyable.

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I think our backgrounds of festivals make us paranoid about our belongings. We decided to leave certain things in the car and that wasn’t even my decision. Miss Overly-Cautious-But-Then-Still-Doolally-And-Unorganised over here, no it was James, Mr-Everything’s-Fine-Everything’s-Okay. Here we are putting our 3 burner stove into that back of the car and everyone else here leaves everything out as they go off and enjoy their lives. They could be local I suppose and we are Londonised.

We haven’t ventured out yet but you know it’s Newquay when the couple next to you, both with long, messy hair, hang their towels and wet suits on the car to dry. Like I’ve said before; stereotypes are real. The couple on the other side, with their child, are the same too. The mans long hair pulled back in a bun and the woman wearing a Kevin and Perry sun hat. It’s not called a Kevin and Perry hat but when your eyes are burnt with an image you just can’t unrelated to that. It’s not khaki and she’s not moaning and trying to act cool, don’t worry – it’s white with flowers on. Of course. All I wanna do is do it. Then there’s me sitting in the car with my feet on the dashboard (only originally to come searching for my notebook) drinking gin and tonic, hair hardly in a bun anymore and grass covering my leggings. Listening to the sounds of wildlife as some ducks waddle past me and James’s snores coming from the tent. Yep, camping is good.

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My G&T is gone, I need a wee and it’s four o’clock now, we better go have a little explore. I have a date planned for James tonight, which I decided in January actually but haven’t gotten round to doing it. For this date I needed a seaside town. As we are randomly here after booking it on Friday we may as well go and do it. Ready? It’s simply to go to an arcade with £40. The dream. Those penny machines won’t know what’s hit them. Fuck the adult ones at the back, who actually uses them when you can watch your 2ps drop down and if you’re really lucky win a minion keyring? I still have mine attached to my keys from Broadstairs in September. James still has Masha and the Bear attached to his backpack.

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I’ve been feeling antsy since we came back from our road trip at the beginning of May. I want to live that lifestyle, you don’t get it where I’m from. It’s similar to the feeling of being in a seaside town. Active, grounded, everyday things feel more special and exciting. I’m not sure how to word it, nor word what I’m thinking but it was so refreshing and liberating to be back out there. I haven’t got the money to travel, it requires a lot of hard work and saving – as it should be, earn it. Meanwhile camping is perfect, I’ve decided. £13 a night at this campsite. I wrote a whole lot of drunk scribbles in my travel diary about how cheap 13 quid a night really is – when if you pee in public it can be 50p. You get the idea, also get why I didn’t add those notes even though it felt like a revelation while I thought them on the toilet.

Thoughts from the bath – the big 2.6.

James: ‘I know everything for this van will go your way because you’ll be like ‘but on YouTube they did this, on YouTube they did that,’ and I’ll be like ‘I want a hammock.’ ‘No, no, no, no you need a 7 point pin clicking one and a bed at a 7 degree angle that only opens on Tuesday’s if the full moon is out because it saves 2.5cm when you’re shitting.’ That’s what you’ll be like.’

I’ve thrown around the idea of living in a van for a while. Here’s the suggestions from James of what jobs we could do while living on the road ;

  • Pimp and his prostitute
  • man with a van
  • freak show
  • burglars. Specifically cat burglars
  • clean drive ways
  • bandits
  • land pirates

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Satisfaction. This word keeps floating around in my brain and popping up at really inconvenient times. What will satisfy me right now? What will satisfy me in the future? What would satisfy my partner? Now it sounds like we are talking about sex but I’m not, I just don’t know how else I can word that.

I turned 26 yesterday. Age meant nothing to me, notice how I write in the past tense? Since yesterday I’ve had an ‘oh, shit, where has that time gone?!’ moment. I know others have it, one of my best friends is always in shock of her age. I was always pretty chill about it. When my sister was 26, 5 years ago, she seemed so old and so far away. I’m not where I saw her at. Not that it was a goal to be like that, it’s just strange that you reach unreachable goals and you realise it’s all completely different.

I joked all day that I was turning ‘the big 2.6.’ only because it’s not a 21st, it’s not a 30th, it’s 26. Closer to 30 than 20 but still a bit in limbo. And I feel like that’s me to a T. A bit in limbo.

Have I done enough? I don’t know. From my prospective, no, but others may say yes. But at the end of the day it’s a no. Nope. You have a lot more in you. (This is a pep talk, encase you haven’t caught on. I literally only have right this second.)

When I came back from my road trip I tried and still am trying ways to get out of this slump. It’s specifically a slump about not travelling. It put into prospective how much I want to change things in my life. What I want to do to feel how I like to feel. Feelings are important to me, I have a lot of them.. Probably the same amount as you.. Just knocking my ego back down. Unfortunately it’s brought up how much I can’t live how I want or live any life that’s progressed from where I am now without money. You can’t go down any path any more without a lot of money, it’s a dead end. Gone are the days where you could have a ‘normal job’ but still be able to buy a house. You need a lot of money.

Money.

I hate money. I don’t think it’s just people without it that hate it. Let me know?

There’s too much of a system for me. I’m not a system person. It’s fine if you don’t mind it, follow what was set out for us all. Personally though, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to rent or buy a house. I’m not afraid of hard work to get there, that’s not it. I just want something different. As my Mum said, I live to play. (Which doesn’t mean no work! Writing, blogging, being artistic is play. Work can be play.)

There’s things about being an Adult (notice the capital A. I’ll be an adult – little a) that I don’t like and I’m resentful that you have no choice. Yes that sounds millennial but yes I’m just being honest.

All the time people talk about being mortgage free. Mortgage free everything. That’s the goal for Adults. Mortgage free. The dream. Cool. I don’t want a mortgage or to rent. To me it sounds like rent (and waste your money and have no life outside of that and not enough money to save to buy a place (been there)) or buy (and put a ridiculous amount of money into a property that you’ll be paying off for the rest of your life while watching programs about how to be mortgage free (haven’t been there but sounds yucky and seems impossible with England today)). Then this is the part where my depression likes to jump in like ‘Surprise motherfucker!’ from Dexter.

This is where my thoughts are unconventional. Why not live in a van? Mortgage free. Live on land you can’t build on with it. Don’t follow the same route as others. Someone once told me I couldn’t make my own route, that proper bummed me out. Not because I believed her but because she didn’t believe in me.

All I can conclude as this water is getting cold is that I have to save. That’s all I can do right now. I want a plan of some sort but that’s not possible. You hate money but you need it. Just save.

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Ways I’m trying to combat the holiday blues

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To stop me moping, to stop the phrase ‘a week ago I was in such and such place’ and in all my efforts to stay positive, I’ve written a list for myself to beat the holiday blues. And oh wow they’re hitting me all over at the moment. They’ve got boxing gloves on and aren’t playing fair.

I’ve never really got them before, in the past I was always excited to come home to something. I always missed something. My last two week holiday was without my boyfriend so I missed him and didn’t get the blues when I did return. This time? Nothing, except I missed my little brother and my comfort blanket. I could have kept on going. No offence to any friends or family reading this (and also yes, I have a comfort blanket and I’m not ashamed to say it) (I wouldn’t have missed it if I remembered to pack it, I forgot, I wasn’t being an ‘adult’ and left it behind like my Mum thought.)

I’ve been back less than a week and I am irritable, restless and oh dear my first shift back at work was difficult. I just kept thinking ‘but I just don’t want to do this’ and then another voice in my head was saying ‘but you know you have to’, and the reply was ‘yeah, but I don’t think you understand. I really don’t want to’. Oh, and I am very stubborn, side note. I just know travelling is for me and once you get a taste like I did it’s so difficult to not want more. It’s like an addiction. Like, I’m okay and happy, but if I get a thought about travelling something in my body changes and I get restless sitting at my desk job. Now’s not the time to ponder jobs though.

I’m allowing myself to bask in missing holiday in a positive way. In a way that makes me want to save up for my next one. But for someone who dabbles in depression, I say like it’s enjoyable, I want to help nip this negative feeling in the bud. I also want to prevent going off into my own la la land, day dreaming about my last trip or future trips. I want to snap back to the present.

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Here’s what I’ve been trying/planning to do;

  • continue to style and tidy my bedroom. Woah, well that sounds like the most boring thing a 25 year old could do. Nah, I love being creative with my surroundings.
  • blogging. I need to make sure that when I get an interesting thought I write it down and try to expand on it. I did this for the whole two weeks while I was travelling, which is the most consistent I’ve ever been with this blog, and it felt fucking amazing.
  • listen to music. Really listen. It’s a good way to keep you in the present in general, and it’s uplifting. My mind likes to do something where a thought pops up, let’s say its negative about being back, and rather accept the thought for what it is and move on with my life, I stop… and stare into space… while the feeling and thought consumes me… and I haven’t even realised it.
  • but if the thought’s too strong I have to write it down. No matter what I’m originally doing. Let them go, you know.
  • gym! Exercise! I think a big thing about the holiday blues is that you feel like you’re in limbo. Before the trip it was like everything in your life is building up to that holiday and that’s your focus. You come back with that achieved but with no direction. The thing with regularly exercising is that it puts that stability back. You feel like there’s a goal even though there isn’t a specific goal. So while I’m straightening my brain and looking for my next focus, exercise can pretend to be it.
  • be singular. Be selfish. To a certain extent. I don’t mean be a bitch, fob everyone off, sit in bed and eat chocolate. More like.. You’re feeling low, be careful with yourself. Be best friends with yourself and treat yourself good. And eat chocolate.
  • be social and chill with pals.
  • remember there’s still things to do with the past trip! You haven’t printed the photos yet and I’m sure there’s so many thoughts to come from it. I love a ponder and thought. It’s not completely over.

This is what I’ve figured out so far. Mainly create!! Even if it’s from a negative feeling, like right now with this post. I’ve been doing my bedroom, blogging and listening to music. Haven’t exercised yet but I’m pretty tempted to put my running shoes on right now actually. I just finished work though, and I wake up at 4:15am on work days. I know I’m definitely going to the gym in the week at least. Let’s be realistic now, I just opened a Easter egg.

I’m getting there. I’m hopeful.

 

 

 

14 days, 9 postcards, 4 countries

It’s unknowingly become a tradition to send my Mum the most ridiculous postcards I can find on my travels. It started when I lived in Malta and she came to visit. While she was with me I was secretly finding the worst postcards and sending them to England for when she’s back home. They said silly things like ‘we just went to the pub,’ nothing more, and on the front a picture of stray cats.

Postcards are awful in general, you can find the most weirdest, most wonderful pictures and if you’re really lucky they’ll be bleached by the sun and bending. Just think of how many people have handled it! It’s truly a dying art form.

What makes them even more special is that this whole trip we were in contact with my parents by whatsapp and when you think you can’t get enough of me – 9 postcards come through the door. I’m never leaving you, parents.

In the past you would literally write what you had been up to on holiday, but obviously they already knew through being in contact and my blog. So there was no ‘Hello!!!! I’m having a great time! Yesterday we drove and today we will drive and tomorrow we will probably drive too! Miss you x’. You will see what we actually wrote.

Well, without further deliberation, I present my postcard project! Sent from 4 countries in 14 days.

The postcards

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Where I wrote it

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What I wrote

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Posting it

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And they all arrived home.

The locations? In order;

Bruges, Belgium

Liege, Belgium

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Frankfurt, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Dusseldorf, Germany

Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Maastricht, The Netherlands