Exploring London…

A couple weeks ago I realised that I had never been to London on my own. I knew the reason for this was my anxiety, but that same week I had decided that I was going to fight this. I was going to fight my depression and anxiety head on and not let it beat me.

So here I was on a Wednesday morning, packing my rucksack with everything I thought I would need and off I went. After a quick stop off at Dad’s church, he dropped me off at Watford Junction and I was on my way…no turning back now…trust me, the anxiety was winning…my illogical part of my brain was telling me that everything would go wrong and I should just go home and lie in bed. But I thought the better of it and pushed through.

After a quick check to make sure I had enough on my Oyster card, I ran into one of my old school friends and instantly the anxiety reduced. Instantly I was calmer. Turned out that he was headed for the Science Museum which is directly behind the Natural History Museum. The anxiety for travelling had almost completely disappeared at this point and the other fears and anxieties built up. But again, I didn’t give in. I powered through.

About 30 minutes later and there I am, standing in front of the Natural History Museum. Now my plan had been to spend the day there, meandering through all the different sections and reading as much information as possible. However, the second I walked through the doors, I realised that that wasn’t going to happen. It was so incredibly busy, and boiling hot! Not a great combination when you are already struggling with anxiety!

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I tried to enjoy myself as much as I could but after about an hour, I gave in and left. I moved on to the Victoria and Albert Museum, hoping that that would be quieter, unfortunately, it wasn’t. So after a quick dash through the V&A and a quick pep talk from someone special, I picked up the guts, ignored my anxiety and decided to go to the British Museum.

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The British Museum has always been one of my favourites as it includes a lot of ancient Egyptian history and Ancient Greek history, two of my favourite topics!! Yes, it was busy and hot like the other 2 museums, and yet my anxiety was a lot less there.  I was able to distract myself with all of the awesome history that surrounded me. I drowned out the illogical brain and all of my anxieties, I was actually able to enjoy myself!

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Multiple hours were spent here just wandering around looking at all the different artefacts and then realising two important things:

1) How many plaques said ‘now missing’ or ‘now destroyed’ and it made me sad to think about how much history we have already lost and would never be able to discover!

2) That the Natural History Museum didn’t have any information that I saw about the current crisis and what we can do to help to stop more extinctions, etc to happen.

The journey back really tested my anxiety and fear though. It was just before rush hour, but people were already there and pushing. I decided to let one train go as it was so busy and full that I knew it would be a recipe for disaster. The next train was practically empty and I was able to avoid a near-certain panic attack.

Now for those who don’t suffer from anxiety, this day just sounds pretty calm and ‘normal’. For me, however, it was a HUGE step. It allowed me to see that I can push through and not let anxiety run my life. It also showed me that London isn’t such a scary place to explore on your own! Would I do it again? Definitely!! I’m already planning my next trip in!!

If you suffer from anxiety…what do you do to stop it? How do/did you overcome it?

Exploring Cornwall

So as I mentioned in one of my previous blogs (Taking Time for Yourself), dad and I went on a little minibreak to Cornwall. The reason for this trip was that dad had been asked to play the drums at Live in a Field in Chapel Porth (a camp filled with worship and activities) and of course I would join. Who wouldn’t want to escape their everyday life to be beside the ocean for a couple days??

Thursday afternoon came and it was time to drive down…we were expecting awful traffic and a long journey, however, we had managed to beat the bank holiday traffic!! Before we knew it (and after a quick stop off at Mcdonalds) we had arrived in Cornwall. We had decided to rent an Airbnb near the campsite and found a cute flat in Porthtowan. The one downside was that we arrived in the dark and there is no phone signal in Porthtowan. So finding the flat was an adventure…but we managed to find it (a stone’s throw from the beach!) and we settled in and got an early night.

The next morning we woke to dense fog and thick cloud cover…not the weather you hope for when you’re going to the beach…however, I put my wellies on and dad put his trainers on and off we went for a morning walk on the beach. Porthtowan beach is gorgeous, if you ever find yourself in Cornwall, definitely go!! And if the weather is nice…treat yourself to some Cornish icecream from Moomaid of Zennor!! We went looking for shells and found none but did a quick beach clean whilst we were there. After a little exploration, we decided to head over to Trevaunance Cove which had been a favourite spot of ours for the last couple years. However, the beach cafe had been changed and didn’t have the same cosy feel that it had had over the last couple years. So after a quick coffee and a seal or two spotted, we went for another walk on the beach and explored some of the caves.

It soon became time for us to head over to Chapel Porth campsite for dad to drop off his drums and a quick catch up with some friends before heading over to St Ives for a spot of lunch and a quick wander around the beautiful town, and of course another ice cream! We then headed back to the camp for the evening worship and headed off for an early night.

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Saturday morning, dad headed back off for a pretty full day at the campsite. I had decided to take the day for myself and explored the coastal paths between Porthtowan and Chapel Porth. Dad met me halfway and we continued on exploring some of the ruins that Cornwall has to offer! That evening we had a lovely concert filled with Lily-Jo, Speak, Brother and Volney Morgan & New Ye. So no early night for us!

The next morning we were promised sunshine and it definitely came through!!! Blue sky and glorious sunshine! Nothing could beat that! So off we went for ice cream (that I mentioned above) and a quick walk up the coastal path to a viewpoint. After an hour of not spotting anything, we decided to have a quick bite to eat. Whilst eating, we saw the fog coming in and before we knew it…the view was gone! The fog was so thick that you couldn’t see far in front of you at all! So off to Starbucks for a coffee and then back to the camp.

That evening we had the last concert filled with Daughters of Davis and Philippa Hanna. Once that was done, we packed up dads drum kit and headed back to our normal lives. It was a whirlwind of a trip but one that was much needed.

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What do you like about minibreaks?  What do you like to do relax?

Also, check out or Cornwall 2018 Vlog for a more detailed look at what we got up to!!

Taking Time for Yourself

It’s important to, once in a while, take some time for yourself…I did just that this last weekend. After dad being away for 2 1/2 weeks last month…my anxiety picked up…it hit me out of nowhere and for those of you who also have anxiety…you know that it isn’t something that you can just stop…

Anxiety can be crippling, it can make you scared to leave your house, talk to new people, try something new…but you also know that it is a completely illogical fear. I’m known as an over thinker…I over think pretty much everything in my life and so my brain is a constant bundle of things I need to do and scenarios that would never happen. I have yet to find a permanent solution where I can battle my anxiety and overthinking. For right now though a few hobbies keep my mind distracted and this last week and weekend I really focused on myself and pressed the ‘reset’ button in my brain.

So last week, Dad and I took a trip down to Cornwall…dad had an event that he was playing the drums at and I used the time to just relax. We rented an airbnb in Porthtowan just minutes walk from the beach. Now for those of you who know me know that there is something about the ocean and the beach…I feel like I’m at home. My love for marine biology intensifies whenever I’m near the beach and I always feel like the ocean is calling me…my mood instantly changes when I see the ocean, no matter the weather…I cheer up…I relax…I breathe more deeply and think more clearly.

I had so many things planned for that weekend, however there were 2 factors that hindered those plans and could have ruined it all for me. The weather is not something you can control and bank holidays in the UK are notorious for having poor weather. Well, the weather in Cornwall lived up to that…I received pictures from several important people in my life showing the blue sky and talking about how hot it was…I looked out my window and all I had was dense fog, the sun wasn’t anywhere in sight…But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being on the beach! Now the second factor was a little more annoying…2 weeks before I had managed to dislocate my right shoulder (yes I am right handed) and was still in significant pain and arm still in a sling. So suddenly things like picking up trash on the beach, or trying to take a picture with my camera, became a lot harder to do. Yes we had the dense fog for 2 out of the 3 days we were there, but the last day the fog finally lifted and I remembered why I love the ocean and the beach. The colours of the sand and the blue hues of the water…there is just nothing quite like it for me.

Now getting back to what I did to press the ‘reset’ button, I went for numerous walks on the beach and along the coastal path along the cliffs and spent time staring out to sea, anxiously looking to see if I could spot any wildlife (some seals but that was it), I explored some of the numerous ruins that Cornwall has to offer. Spent time reconnecting with old friends, building connections with new ones and drinking multiple iced lattes and peach green tea lemonades. Oh and who can forget the ice creams!!

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Unfortunately, time always flies and before I knew it we were home and the instant lull in my mood was noticeable. I knew I had to do something to stop myself from slipping back into my anxiety driven state. I ended up looking through my yarn stash and decided to crochet something again. Recently I had been knitting a wrap for myself but I really wanted to crochet something. So I picked a pattern and off I went…There is just something about crocheting and knitting that keeps my mind preoccupied and allows me to relax.

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Some people might say that it is selfish to take time for yourself. But if you don’t, then when do you get the time to be yourself…allow yourself to grow and to relax. Sometimes that means a mini break away to your ‘happy place’ and sometimes it means just picking up an old hobby. All I know is that since my mini break…my anxiety has lessened and my mood has improved.

What about you…what is your happy place? Do you have anxiety? What helps calm you down? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!!

Have a great weekend!

~ A cloudy day at the beach, is still a day at the beach – Unknown ~

Some Much Needed Vitamin D

Spring has FINALLY arrived here in the UK!!! I have been keeping an eye on the weather forecast for the last week already and the promise of sunshine and warm weather stayed! Waking up this morning I was welcomed with the suns rays through my blinds and the excitement grew!

After a quick walk to the doctors (still in the process of getting my fibroids sorted – read ‘Living with a hidden – not so hidden illness’ if you want to know more) and then buying some fresh bread at the local bakery…I am now sat in the garden in the glorious sunshine, enjoying the weather!

I’m not the only one who is enjoying the outside life…the cats are both thoroughly enjoying it…lazing around in the sun, catching all the flies and being stung by wasps…

One thing I realised whilst being sat here in the sun is that even when life is dark and there are moments when I can’t see the end of the tunnel…just sitting outside in the fresh air, in the warmth of the sun and no threat of rain…life isn’t as dark as I thought. There is light at the end of the tunnel…whether that tunnel has led you to where you thought you were going to end up or not…isn’t that the exciting thing about life? You never know where your journey will take you!

Since finishing my masters degree I have been looking for a PhD or a job…not finding much luck in either…so right now I don’t know where my life is going to lead but I am excited to find out!

What about you? Is it sunny where you are? If so, what do you enjoy doing when its sunny? Let me know in the comments below!!

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My Top 10 Photos and the Stories Behind Them

In preparation for the release of the gallery part of the blog I decided to show my top 10 pictures and the stories behind them. Photography has been a huge part of my life and is one of the main ways in which I can be creative. I have been asked ‘why photography’ a lot and for me it allows me to show the world from my perspective. Something which you could walk past every day, is beautiful to the next person. So I try in my daily life to imagine what would make a good picture.

I have done some interesting things in my life and so I thought about sharing my top 10 pictures and also why I took them. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to some incredible places in the world and have seen and experienced so many different cultures and wildlife that can’t be found anywhere else.

  1. My First Long Exposure Shot – MadagascarIMG_8087

Back in 2012 I went for 10 weeks to Madagascar where I had an unforgettable time! It was genuinely one of the best trips of my life. Everything was super photogenic out there and one evening whilst sat watching the sunset, I just looked down and saw this log being washed ashore and saw the beautiful patterns and decided to try my first attempt at long exposure photography. This was the result. Yes the focus isn’t perfect, nor the composition, but it was my first attempt at something I had been too scared to try. The reason I chose to include this in my top 10 is not only because it was my first attempt, but I love the movement of the water and I love that it tells a story.

2. Ethiopian Man – Ethiopia

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I took this picture whilst I was there for my first time in Ethiopia. During that trip we were taken to a religious festival in the middle of nowhere. Everyone was so happy and the people of Ethiopia are all just so beautiful! Whilst having lunch I looked up from my food and noticed this old man standing in a doorway just watching the celebrations and I just thought that that would make such a beautiful picture and I just couldn’t stop myself from grabbing my camera and taking the shot. This was the outcome…It still remains as one of my favourite pictures from my trip.

3.  Why Did the Bear Cross the Road – Yellowstone National Park, USA12698140_10153445388827613_5201671014563450931_o

A couple years ago, my parents and I decided to do a proper American road trip. Starting from Minnesota and passing through 5 states before coming back to Minnesota. One of the major stops on the road trip would be Yellowstone National Park. On our first morning in Yellowstone, we had breakfast in a diner where we spoke to a couple who had been going there for years and hadn’t seen anything other than bison and elks. Well the morning before we had already seen a baby bear, so we were having a good start. Later that day, whilst driving around we spotted a bear walking in the bushes and quickly decided to drive slowly whilst the other cars were parked. And that gamble paid off…the baby bear decided to walk next to the car and then cross the road right in front of us. What an awesome way to experience the wonderful wildlife of Yellowstone!

4.  Sisterly Love – UK17861959_10154584511697613_2200926202777938493_n

These 2 beauties are the gorgeous daughters of some family friends. They were the perfect models and behaved so well! Bare in mind that I did have a broken finger on my left hand and could barely carry my camera. So just before this moment, I had my back turned to the children whilst talking to the parents. I turned round to see the big sister tenderly touching her little sister and I caught this moment. I love taking pictures of children and babies as they are just so unpredictable. Blink and the moment is gone! Seeing the joy on the parents face when you show the final product, makes all the stress of shooting on the day, worthwhile!

5. Taking a Deep Breath – MadagascarCamera 14MP-9PC

Whilst on the trip in Madagascar, we visited one of the islands nearby to where our camp was and visited the reef there. Whilst snorkelling I suddenly spotted a turtle swimming really close to me and decided to swim alongside it for as long as it would let me (whilst keeping a respectable distance!). This moment was just so special for me as it was the first time I had seen a turtle in the wild, it also allowed me to swim with it for about 20 minutes! It was just amazing!

6. Conquering your fears – Costa Rica

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Those of you who know me, know that I am PETRIFIED of heights! Yet this opportunity in Costa Rica, was one that I could not let slip! I took this picture with my GoPro to give the widest angle of where we were. Yes I was scared, but after one bridge that fear was gone! The nature was just so beautiful that I was distracted! When you are surrounded by the beautiful scenery, you can’t help but take pictures everywhere!

7. Tree With a View – Minnesota, USADSC_0041

Whilst Canoeing down a river in Minnesota, we noticed this beautiful bird sitting in the tree. Now it isn’t crazy to see Bald Eagles in Minnesota, but there were hundreds of people below it and hadn’t spotted it. I’ve spent a lot of time in Minnesota over the last couple years and yet every single time I see them they blow my mind! I was so lucky to see such a beautiful bird so close by with such blue sky as the perfect background! I think I ended up taking about 50 pictures of this single Bald Eagle. It was clearly waiting to spot a fish!

8. Miniature World – Wisconsin, USA14525015_10154011743427613_4904568668393714772_o

A couple years ago, I treated myself to a macro lens, and this opened up a whole new world of photography for me! Whilst taking pictures in a garden in Wisconsin I suddenly spotted this tiny spider and I thought could I take a picture of it with my new lens? It was incredibly jumpy and I knew it had moved just as I took a picture. To my surprise when I looked back at it, it was staring right into the camera! It stays one of my favourite pictures I’ve taken with my macro lens as this spider was smaller than your little finger nail!

9. Curiosity Never Hurt Anyone – Madagascar544481_10150927775222613_1435884139_n

Whilst going on a walk in the forest in Madagascar, we came across this tiny chameleon! At the time it was the smallest known chameleon! This picture was taken whilst it was in my friends hand! And again just as I took the picture, it decided to move its head towards my camera to get a good look! I just loved the curious nature of this chameleon and that it really wasn’t scared!

10. Flashy Chameleon – Madagascar 529121_10150924222632613_1178186907_n

So as my last picture I couldn’t not chose this one! It has always been one of my proudest shots! The story behind this picture is that whilst we were at the camp, this panther chameleon strolled into the camp. My friend picked him up and I suddenly noticed how striking the colours were on the perfect background!! The dark background brought out his colours perfectly! A while back I actually entered this into the National Geographic photo of the year and it got into the top 10. It is one of my biggest achievements in my photography career!

So what about you? What is your favourite shot and why?

~ I love photography because I can show people the world through my lens ~