Clearing my mind with the ocean and camping – Hemsby beach, Norfolk

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I am very happy to say I have visited many beaches this year. More beaches than I have ever done before in one year. It was never intentional, and I recon if I put it down as one of my Summer Goals it probably wouldn’t have happened. It just happened because it did. Which makes it even better actually.

It started with Dunkirk beach in April, then Newquay beaches in May, Hastings beach in June and now beaches in Norfolk. And how many of those times was the sun shining? I know that’s what a lot of people really care about. Only this trip to Norfolk, actually. But I suppose because none of these trips were ‘lets go to the beach!’, we had never planned to sit in the sun, the plan was always to travel or camp etc, and therefore we’ve never been disappointed when there was no sun. Plus, it’s England – what do you expect?!

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In past posts I’ve shared my travel diary on these trips and this camping trip to Norfolk was… I can’t say ‘going to be the same’ because I’ve never really planned my travel diary’s – I take my notebook encase I get inspiration, then when I’m back home I re read it and make it into a post. Something about travelling inspires me automatically, I just know what I want to write down. It’s about the day and what we are doing, obviously, but I do know my ‘style’, I know what I like to document and avoid any fakery (I’m really not a sugar coated kind of gal), and somehow as soon as we step into our car and on our way, each time I’m back in that zone. I love that zone. I need to work out what it means psychologically because if I could have that drive when I’m at home EVERYTHING on my to do list would be done. I think I understand it, travelling clears my head and makes way for the things I deem important – and the negative stuff which stops me in day to day life just fucks off.

So this trip was no different, as soon as the day arrived my brain changed and I was mindful and chill and wanted to document our time. For some reason though, and I think it’s got to be because I was in such a bad way before we came away, I didn’t get enough time to write anything. I just revelled in the fact my brain wasn’t as foggy. I still took photos, and I have a few words from the drive there which I will include next. Other than that – that’s all folks!

 

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10/8/17

And so the next adventure starts with some typically English and Mumsy, despite not being a Mum (other than to my plants), words: ‘Now it’s a 3 hour drive, we better go to the toilet!’

‘Nah, I’m alright,’ James said, and I couldn’t change his mind that it’s a good idea. ‘Well, if we have to stop in half an hour-‘ I let the end of my sentence trail off as I walked to the toilet. Truly because I didn’t have an end. He’s driving. If he wants to stop he’ll stop. But in need of a good ‘told you so’ moment, I thought while I have my wee I’ll write this passage on the toilet for evidence. That’s right, I’m writing this on the toilet.

 

11:53 we left the house. Spoiler alert: we didn’t stop at all. Damn.

Our first stop is two minutes down the road to a garage, in hopes of getting James’s radio fixed. This is how we work – we pack the car the morning we go and we get the radio fixed in the morning we go. To be fair it’s the same amount of effort doing it all on the day and the rain yesterday was so ridiculous that most roads in our town had turned into outside swimming pools. We no longer have to go to Herne Hill for a lido. If we packed the car the night before our camping gear would have been drenched – even in the twenty whatever steps to the car.

Looks like we have half an hour of no music till we get the code for the radio – thank you James for letting the battery go dead! Now we have to talk to each other! Yuck! Instead we are going to play spotify through his phone, problem solved. We do like each others company, I promise.

And 12:57 we have radio! That being said James put on his ‘new’ CD that he bought from a charity shop for 49p – 2007’s Now 68. The second disk only. First song Plain White T’s, Hey There Delilah.

 

15:10 we arrive and James cracks open a Stella. I, on the other hand, has a sudden headache and belly ache. So, as James keeps calling me recently, Sulky Emily is waiting for her pills to kick in before we put up the tent. It’s probably anxiety thinking about it, it takes many forms. But the sun is shining and the beach is only a short stroll away.

Put tent up and we chill and I feel great. Also beer. I’ve had a huge cloud fogging my mind the last few weeks and I feel like these camping trips clear it away, like it’s my medication.

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And that’s all I wrote this time. I could tell you what I did past tense but I can’t write it half as interesting when it’s already happened. Plus my memory is shit.

Thanks for visiting!

A day of rain on the Cornwall beaches

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We woke at 6am to rain pelting on our tent ceiling. Slept wonderfully besides that. It was a good idea using an air mattress and a bed topper. Felt like an actual bed, there was no slumming it. Except for the rain, campings best friend.

We had planned to walk to the beach after our cooked English breakfast but here we are driving instead. As dirty as you can get in the rain in a muddy field, the shower this morning was glorious. Because of the already wet floor from the rain and the shower splashing I had to really practice the art of balancing to be sure my trouser leg wouldn’t get wet. Maybe other women are brave enough to get changed out in the open to avoid this dilemma and also maybe other women didn’t have a perforated ear drum when they were young and so their balance isn’t a bit off. The floor was all grassy and muddy from the rain anyway, it was dryer in the shower.

I managed to poop without worrying too much too. Well, the second time I went to brave it that is. The first time there was a women straightening her hair. You’d think because it’s a campsite everyone poops there, it’s fine, but if there’s a lady straightening her hair on a campsite while it’s pouring down outside, cats and dogs I tell you, I can’t exactly have a shit in the cubical next to her without her judging me. She probably farts roses and butterflies.

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We ended up driving around the coast with no plan nor map. Beach to beach. We stopped off at Constantine bay and bought a tea from a bloke serving it out of converted toilets. Now that sounds gross but it wasn’t, quirky more like. He recommended the next beach along, which is where we are driving to now. He and his wife moved here a year ago and he said it’s this beach that made them move, which I misunderstood at first – I thought he meant it made him move away and I was confused whether he was saying it was nice or a shit hole. When we left he said that’s another beach ticked off your list and James said we should actually do that – have a check list. Haven’t got any ideas of how to yet but that could be a plan for the future.

Beautiful beaches, possibly even more so in the dramatic weather. It was decided that if we were to move down here we would have to learn to surf or at least walk around in wet suits all day.

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The rain only stopped once the evening came. You hold hands with the weather when you do get-aways like this don’t you, your days are structured around the elements.

You see a seaside town for what it really is when it rains because without sun there’s not as much to do. Or there is but you spend longer doing it in the sun. It makes you chill, slow down, have a drink, lounge about. We didn’t get to sit on the sand and bask in the heat but that didn’t stop us going onto the beaches in our trainers and prayed they didn’t get too wet and sandy – my Birkenstocks are still soaked through from this morning. This part of England is stunning though. There’s still dodgy looking areas but they’re usually right next door to a modern or beautiful building, all very intertwined. Then again, in the sunshine I bet you hardly even notice the ugly parts with your rose tinted glasses on.

 

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Nipped into Walkabout for a drink. Choosing pubs that only have sea views is a win, a big recommendation. There was two groups of stag doos in Walkabout. One quiet, having a laugh but all definitely adults and probably work on computers. The other all dressed in football kits, handing out yellow and red cards, had a ref whistle and used it a lot, and all of them absolutely fucked. Sure the football team looked like they were having more fun by the sheer noise but the quiet group will at least make it the whole night. This was at 6pm ish, I give half of the football lads till 8.

The waitresses looked like they wanted to kill themselves when they served them food. They clearly hire pretty, young girls and I felt so bad for them. I wanted to be like ‘look, I’m 26, I have no make up on and I’m wearing a hoodie; I’ll serve them for you.’ 

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James is having a nap – it’s 9pm. You can’t question that boy, it’s okay, let him do him. I on the other hand have started to boil some water for a pot noodle. Now this is what I remember of camping. I bet my best friend, a pro camper, is turning on her comfortable sofa by the fire, watching TV.

He’s pretending to be mad but not really pretending that I told him it was 9.30 so he would wake up, when it’s just 5 past. Then told me off for being ‘too rough on my crocs’. I did it out of the goodness of my heart and also because there’s no entertainment that I’m used to here and I want attention. Innocent. Yes, I know I said let him do him, but see.. I’m drunk. Plus he has to wake if he wants to go back to the clubhouse tonight for a drink. It’s pot noodle time. The diary can wait.

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Hoping not to bump into the bloke we got chatting to last night. Everything seemed safe, everything was a laugh and then.. uh oh.. the worst thing possible happened.. he makes music. ‘Want to hear it?’ no ‘sure’.. He played us his music and then 3 tracks in he began to rap along. Then it all made sense, why he was telling us so much information about his ex wife, his kids (who were adorable) and his life story – he’s that person. He tricked us at first, it didn’t add up till he was basically selling himself to us, before we just thought he was friendly like we were being. They reel you in while you still think they’re cool and then when it’s too late you’re trapped and suffocating in the hip hop that’s playing from his phone. It’s still friendly, I suppose, but I’m really not a fan when people self promote themselves to me, especially when I’ve just met them and especially when you’re just having a laugh and a chat in a pub. And all you can do is humour them, pretend to believe in them. Then as soon as we went back to our tent James (which I was so surprised about because he can tolerate self promoters) was the first to be like WTF?! and we laughed and laughed into the night.

Top tip to everyone in the world: never meet someone and force them to listen to your music.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Our last few moments in Europe and some random notes

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After it being a bugger to pack all the beer we bought, when they offered us a trolley for our luggage for the ferry we jumped at it. Thank goodness, we had just been on a long road trip and walked miles every day but carrying all our luggage onto the ferry after dropping off our rental car was the biggest work out of all. Oh, what now? It isn’t a trolley to take onto the ferry ourselves, but goes to a separate part of the boat? We watched it zoom away, a bit shocked. Oh. Great. All those beers are going to smash then.

Spoiler alert: none of them smashed, I worried the whole trip for no reason. Luckily my travel sickness pills had kicked in and therefore my anxiety was fought off with drowsiness.
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The English side of passport control had a joke with James, mine was very serious though. James asked if they had been busy and he laughed and said ‘yeah, with French school kids, they’re a threat to English society.’

It wasn’t much of a joke for us though, we were surrounded on the ferry. I literally wrote in my notebook ‘they’re everywhere and they must be breading in the bathroom because when you think that’s it more appear out of no where.’ Hundreds and thousands and millions. We chose to sit near the teenagers rather than the children. They couldn’t sit still though, just imagine a time lapse of James and I sitting on the same sofa for the whole trip and a blur of teenagers buzzing all around us. You know you’re getting old when you just don’t move.

They started to sing Shape Of You by Ed Sheeran, like we didn’t hear that enough on every radio in England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and The Netherlands. We actually managed to get radio 1 when we were driving around Calais in the morning. We planned to go to a little village half an hour out, somehow ended up 50 minutes away from where we wanted to go, so turned back.

In Germany the host on the radio kept saying ‘Castle On The Grill’ and we couldn’t stop laughing. It’s okay to laugh at it, we probably sounded like we were saying other words when we were saying words in their language.

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I can now talk about something that happened on the very first day. Not even that, 20 minutes into France. We scratched the alloy of our rental car. James was getting used to driving on the other side of the road and clipped the curb. 20 minutes in. The rental company employee said something about any scratch on the alloy would loose our 500 euro deposit. Fuck! This was our start to the trip.

We decided to ignore it, not let it bog us down and I never mentioned it on my blog. It was a big annoyance that pissed us off but had to put it down to a ‘you live and you learn’ experience, otherwise it would have plagued our minds.

We looked into getting it fixed because it’ll be cheaper than 500 euros but that didn’t work out. We also snapped the brand new aerial when we were in Amsterdam, the car park beam was lower than we thought. It got to the point when we would just hysterically laugh about it.

Anyway, getting the full deposit back, baby! The man was like ‘oh, it’s only a little scratch, no problem’ – I said that in a French accent. James said he couldn’t stop shaking the mans hand and practically skipped back to me.

Not much else happened on our last day so I present to you:

Things I Never Wrote In A Blog Post, With No Context At All, In Fact I’m Not Even Sure What Some Of Them Mean.

Emily ‘Have you got the money pouch?’
James ‘I gave it to you! When we were in Barcelona!’
*We never went to Barcelona*

Whenever James sees a shoe buffer in a hotel we stay in he buffs up his trainers.

Smells like holiday.

They still advertise cigarettes in Europe. Also prostitutes? Or strip clubs? Something about 100 girls, 11 till 5. No idea what that’s about.

In the supermarkets it’s always the men stacking shelves and the women at the till.

James ‘So people don’t think we’re lazy taking the lift I’m going to walk out with a limp.’
*Actually walks out with a limp*

*Sitting in our hotel in Dunkirk, looking at what’s nearby on the internet*
James ‘Bruges is nearby. It’s closer than Canterbury.’

Things I’m Bad At

  • turning on strange showers
  • what floor or room number we are
  • helping as passenger driver
  • remembering what car we fired and where we parked it
  • where I’ve put things
  • cities and crowds

Things I’m Good At

  • map reading
  • not getting stressed
  • looking after money
  • at seeing far in the distance
  • at remembering to check we have all our belongings

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Back to normality, back to driving on the left side of the road, back to saving a bird from James’s conservatory as soon as we got back? No, I don’t think it’s ever normal, what I am I thinking.

Arriving back to the beginning of our road trip

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I know I’m dramatic and playful but this doesn’t change the fact that I feel like Harriet The Spy, for reals. It was a joke a few posts ago but I feel like I have embodied her. I have my go to’s with fitting in, I have my distractions, I have my innocence, then BAM I’m writing everything you’re saying, stranger. Yeah, you, in Amsterdam telling your boyfriend he could sleep with a prostitute but you wasn’t going to pay, I was there listening but looking like I was just simply having anxiety in a world of my own (both are true actually). Getting a little dramatic now. Let’s calm it down… and just call me a spy, scrap the Harriet part for the sake of people that haven’t seen that wonderful film.

Fun fact of the day, I wanted to be a spy when I was younger. That was the dream.

Confused? Cool. Here’s me fitting in on our European adventure, when in reality all sorts of wonderful mysteries are going on in my head and notebook.

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Our last long drive started with James driving the wrong side of the road out of a car park and nearly crashing. First time it’s happened this trip. Three hour drive to Dunkirk today, through three countries. The Netherlands, Belgium then into France. Luckily I found my travel sickness bands for this last part and the ferry tomorrow.

We haven’t got anything special planned for today.  Stupid statement seeing as we never have anything planned, what I mean if that it’s a budget hotel kind of night and eating peanut butter sandwiches while watching TV. Way to spend a last night, right? I agree.

This morning we explored Valkenburg a little. I loved the location of the hotel but I couldn’t handle how trippy the floor made me feel. It’s one of two things – it is a haunted hotel and specifically our room was infested with demons, or the floor boards were at an angle. One of the two. Valkenburg has the only castle on a hill in The Netherlands, and it was destroyed by their own King to stop the French from invading it.

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A funny memory just came to me on this drive, of when my family and I drove around America. I’m not sure of my age but I think I was below ten years old. I’m the youngest, then there’s my brother who is two years older and my sister who is five years older. In the front there were three seats which was/is so strange, being used to there being a gear stick instead. So Mum and Dad made it a punishment to sit in between them anytime us kids would fight.

Problem with this plan is that I loved that seat, the gimmick hadn’t worn off for me. So there’s my parents threatening us with essentially a naughty step and while it worked for my siblings I was always all for it! Now, I have a four year old brother and two year old nephew and I can imagine the pain my parents had to go through when I was eager Emily practically begging to sit in between them.

It would work on them though, they would scream bloody murder.

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We’ve arrived at the beginning. We spent our first night in Dunkirk and now our last night. Currently parked up at Dunkirk beach at 3:28pm. Bit different weather to the first time and really Dunkirk isn’t really much without sun. It’s a bank holiday too, which we didn’t know (knew it was for England). So nothing at all is open. I googled it and kept on reading about shopping hours in general and it said that many places don’t open on Monday mornings anyway! Lucky buggers! Remember when England wouldn’t be open on bank holidays, boxing day or new years day and you had to stay in with family? And now we have a choice whether we should stay in with family or go shopping at ASDA.

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In a very reminiscent mood right now. Of this trip and in general. Childhood memories and the last two weeks are flying at me left, right and centre.

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Watching a French family play together in the distance. I feel such a heavy calmness on my chest. It’s probably the beer I cracked open as soon as we parked up to be honest.

Mixed with actual happiness, of course.

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Visiting The Netherlands, not Holland

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I see people walk by with travel guides in their hands, reading up places and on missions to go find them. I once thought I so wanted to be like them. They’re the people who are organised, the ones that have diary’s and calendars and use all the pretty stationary you see in shops. In the past I’ve tried, because they look so well put together. But I’m not. I’m not well put together, for a start I often forget to brush my hair, I loose things (often my mind), I’m a day dreamer and I’m currently wearing a jumper that I tie dyed myself. Not exactly the image you have in your brain of a lady with her diary/travel guide. Secondly, I would forget to pick up the travel guide up because.. I find them boring.. Is that bad?! Have I offended someone? I love travelling and always have, but I don’t really want to know all the details about the place, it doesn’t bother me. Just a little bit of info is cool. I’ll quite happily just walk about and hope for the best.

I think it must be all about what you deem important, because I don’t forget to pick up and write in my travel diary if I have a thought. Maybe it depends on what you’re ‘searching’ for. They want to learn about the place, and I? Probably learn what these places do to me.

This relates to the first title of this road trip – do you free more or less free knowing the world is our oyster? There isn’t a wrong or right way to travel, you can literally do what you want and that includes nothing. You can do nothing. Once that thought is placed on me I find I do more of what I want.

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We finally saw a windmill everyone, finally saw one! Didn’t realise you had to go searching for them, I pictured them being everywhere and hard to dodge. The one we found was right next to where we stayed our first night in The Netherlands, oops. We were going that way to Maastricht anyway. And conclusion after kicking up a fuss (but didn’t actually at all)?… It looked just like windmills from England. It was a windmill. Just in another country. But we did it!

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Nothing quite like having a wee when you’re at bursting point, then celebrating with a beer.

The market stool man was saying how much he likes London and we were saying how much we like The Netherlands – so we are going to swap places. He said ‘I’m going to live in Bromley!’

No one is ever that excited for Bromley.

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Like I was saying yesterday about Amsterdam being larger than life and full of personality, which takes away mine – here I felt complete in who I am, my personality is in full force. Not that I was shoving it in peoples faces. People here are still quirky, it’s not a quiet city, there’s a bookshop in a church, that says it all. I suppose, for me, Amsterdam is like Camden and Maastricht is like Brighton. That’s the best way I can explain it.

Isn’t it a shame that I have to describe places with places I know. The more I’ll travel it might turn into ‘Winklebottom was very much like Gravy Boat Mountain’, not ‘Amsterdam is like Camden, init!’

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Maastricht is a winner, in case you couldn’t tell. I loved it. It’s just one of those places that was perfect, couldn’t find a fault other than it’s an expensive city. Oh and someone working in the church told us not to go through a certain door because ‘you don’t fit’. Now that could have been a translation problem but he did an awkward giggle after, as if he felt bad saying it. Bit weird. If it is what he meant, that’s two days in a row we felt like we didn’t ‘fit in’. A hotel and a church. It didn’t take away our experience, it’s just a shrug of the shoulders and walk away with our beard, backpack and leggings. James wearing the leggings, me wearing a fake beard and one arm each in the backpack, of course. That might be why.

An English couple we met, who moved out 7 months ago, explained that the top part of The Netherlands is called Holland, and that’s the part reclaimed from the sea. The bottom part, which seems posh, is The Netherlands and are apparently against the top of the country? Suppose like northerners and southerners in England. He said they’re meant to be nicer in the south of The Netherlands (where we are). Well, I much preferred it to Amsterdam, if that’s anything to account for?

I haven’t checked whether this is true, just took his word for it.

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We stayed half an hour away from Maastricht in a town called Valkenburg, which again just blew our little minds. I love how many times we have booked places to stay and they’ve been amazing, all by coincidence. And did we fit in? No clue, didn’t check. They have a statue of a modern day, naked lady so surely it’s not a problem that my leggings are see through at the back (didn’t actually know and James didn’t think to tell me till we went to bed, and yet I wore them the next day too) (I’m really not a travel guide/diary lady am I?).

A coach load of older people turned up at our hotel, drove all the way from Manchester – 14 hours it took. So strange to go from not hearing a lot of English in forever to all these northern accents moaning about how many stairs there are. The Europeans love stairs. We learnt this day one, just like they are learning. Then late at night as I was writing my post for yesterday we heard English football chanting. How peculiar, we said to each other and put on our raincoats and hats, popped in our pipe, whipped out our magnifying glass and went out to investigate.

A bunch of English lads were jumping around the street in football kits. They just got off a party bus and were singing ‘Winter Wonderland’. Of course the Mancs were outside watching in disgust. Probably the whole town really, doesn’t seem like a party town – though does have 3 casinos (unless we walked past the same one 3 times – no travel guide see). Brought the biggest grin to James’s face though. We wanted to start jumping around with them, I’m sure they would have accepted it. Then we were discussing how my Nan loves football and would have gone off and joined them and she’ll turn into their Queen.

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James’s quotes of the day;

‘You can tell we are in a rich area – the state on the fashion’
*as someone cycles past in heels*

‘Look! An English flag, lets eat there!’

*Man has his head in the stocks and joking with his family*
Emily: ‘Throw some rotton fruit at him!’
James: ‘Shit on his face!’