They say moving house is almost as stressful as going through a divorce or the death of a relative.
I was certainly surprised by how much this month left me drained and agitated. Moving into an entirely unfurnished apartment as someone who can fit everything they own into a backpack was — shockingly — both stressful and expensive. There was so much to buy, so many things I forgot, and I still feel as though we’re only halfway there when it comes to making this house a home.
Not having a sofa for the first three weeks in our apartment was strangely frustrating, as I found myself either sitting on the floor or on the bed for days on end, feeling as though I was still living in a hotel while desperately craving more comfort.
Aside from spending everything I have on furniture, my big aim for June was to start making friends! I was pleased to discover there are plenty of opportunities to do so in this fun city, and while I’ve been focusing my attention on meet-ups for women entrepreneurs in the city, Dave’s been heading to co-working spaces and joining hiking groups.
I have to confess that as someone whose life has revolved around only travel for the past seven years, this month was tough. Meeting up with complete strangers for coffee and knowing I didn’t have travel or blogging as a conversation topic to fall back on was daunting as hell, but I made it through, and as an introvert, only ended up with a slightly broken brain by the end of it.
Making friends as an adult is just as challenging as people say — especially for a couple that works from home — but Dave and I are making progress and enjoying the challenge.
This month, I turned 30!
I’ve never been one to panic about ageing, so I was overjoyed to be entering my fourth decade on this planet rather than horrified that I was getting old and haggard. I have several posts planned for the coming weeks about how I rocked my twenties, as I can’t quite believe how much I managed to achieve over the past ten years.
One of the highlights from my big day was being surprised by a birthday paleo breakfast by Dave! When dairy, grains, and sugar do terrible things to my brain, a giant birthday cake is off the cards and I was more than happy with its substitute. I couldn’t stop giggling about it all day!
One thing that’s been so wonderful about moving to the U.K.? Having access to subscription boxes for the first time ever! And apparently my family could sense how much I’d love them, as so many of my gifts revolved around receiving regular surprises over the coming months. Dave treated me to a self-care subscription box that comes packed full of candles, crystals, cosy socks, and surprise treats after I told him it was going to be a huge focus of mine after moving to Bristol. My sister gifted me a subscription to a travel book club that sends me a surprise travel book in the mail every month. I can’t wait to see if they send me my own! And my parents opted to sign me up for a nail polish subscription box, where I’ll receive 5-8 high-end polishes each month. I find painting my nails to be calming and therapeutic, so this was the perfect surprise for me!
For my birthday meal, Dave took me out for dinner at Paco Tapas. This Michelin-starred Spanish restaurant has been on my hitlist for Bristol for a while, as it manages to be affordable, unpretentious, and with a menu full of incredible eats. As someone who has spent four months living in Spain, let me tell you: it was so good. The boquerones, in particular, were out of this world, and I’m totally planning to return next month to get five plates of them.
With such incredible weather for the U.K. this June, I aimed to take full advantage of it by hanging out in some of my favourite Bristol neighbourhoods. I spent time drinking beside the river in Harbourside, checking out cafes in Clifton, and exploring hipster Stokes Croft. My parents drove out to see our new apartment, Nomadic Matt bussed over from London so we could show him around the city, and we caught up with Victoria and Steve for lunch and to meet their adorable son Otis.
One particular highlight from this month was the World Food Passport event on Gloucester Road.
Gloucester Road is home to more independent businesses than any other street in the U.K. — I love Bristol so much! — and there are so many great cafes, bars, and restaurants to explore in this area. In June, the World Food Passport helped me start delving into this kickass street.
For a ridiculous £8, you could grab a sample treat from 16 restaurants, bars, and cafes over an entire week, and it was unbelievably good value. At most places, I received an entire meal to try, so I couldn’t get over how much I was receiving for my money. I now have an enormous list of places to return to, as well as dozens to check out for the first time.
Towards the end of the month, I rocked up to London to meet up with Amanda of A Dangerous Business. We’ve known each other online through our sites for seven years now, so it was lovely to finally meet up and talk about all things travel blogging! She was in town to check out as many themed afternoon teas as possible, and I joined her for a Harry Potter-inspired extravaganza at Cutter & Squidge. We spent our time wearing cloaks, waving wands, and creating potions to eat and drink. It was such a fun experience!
I finished up June in Liechtenstein, which is a brand new European destination for me! I’m going to be spending my couple of days here hiking in the mountains, exploring castles, and getting to know what it’s like to live in the sixth smallest country in the world.
Number of countries visited: 3
Number of cities visited: 4
Number of photos taken: 390
Distance travelled: 963 miles
Number of flights: 1
Number of trains: 4
Number of buses: 3
Highlights of the Month
Dreading travelling to Liechtenstein: That’s weird, right? But I’m so in love with Bristol and my new apartment that I was seriously considering cancelling this trip to spend my time at home instead. And that’s a good thing — it’s wonderful to feel as though my home life is just as rich as my travels, and it shows I made an excellent decision in moving to the U.K.
Discovering Liechtenstein is amazing: I’m all over the place! But yes, while I was dreading travelling to Liechtenstein, once I got there, I discovered an incredibly beautiful country that’s so worth exploring. Take it from me: if you love to hike, this is one destination you don’t want to skip out on. The views from my hike outside of Malbun were some of the best I’ve ever seen.
Lowlights of the Month
Dealing with an unexpected bout of depression: I’ve certainly waged a war with my mental health over the years, but I’ve been fortunate to have it revolve entirely around anxiety and panic attacks.
For some reason — I don’t know why — this month, I can only describe myself as being depressed. I found myself spending days in bed with no energy, no passion, and no drive to do anything but stare at the walls. I had no emotions — no sadness, no crying, no anxiety — just a baseline emptiness that left me unable to care about anything. I stopped talking to Dave, didn’t go to the gym, ignored emails and messages, stopped caring about my appearance, and spent days inside. I even took a self-assessment quiz on the NHS website and was told I had high levels of clinical depression.
Having not yet found a doctor in Bristol, I instead laid in bed and watched Shane Dawson videos for 16 hours a day for two weeks straight.
Weirdly, the depression ended as spontaneously as it arrived, and for that, I’m very grateful. Can I even call it depression when it was so short-lived? Either way, it was a weird couple of weeks.
Our Pearl Jam show was cancelled: My Christmas gift to Dave last year was tickets to the London Pearl Jam show, knowing we’d likely be living in the U.K. by that time. This month, we jumped on a three hour bus to London, jumped off, and learned the gig had just been cancelled.
With a midnight bus booked back to Bristol that we didn’t want to wait around for, we asked at the station if there was anything we could do. Fortunately, there was a bus leaving for Bristol right then and there was still space on board.
And that’s how Dave’s Christmas gift from me ended up being six hours on a bus.
So, I think I have a parasite: Remember how I contracted an awful illness in Borneo a couple of months ago? Well, I just can’t seem to shake it, and after spending two months in the U.K. with these terrible symptoms, it became clear this wasn’t going to go away on its own.
I therefore had to get several tests done this month to see if it’s being caused by a parasite, Lyme disease, or some kind of random tropical disease. I’ve always been curious to know if I’d picked up something dodgy on my travels to countries with greater health risks, so I’m almost excited to see what results come back saying.
Hopefully they’ll find something because I’m definitely ready for a cure.
Incidents of the Month
A ridiculous situation at afternoon tea: During the Harry Potter-themed afternoon tea, the hostess would come up to people in the tearoom and ask for random information about them, whether it was where they’ve come from, where they’re travelling to next, or what their favourite food is.
When she came up to me and Amanda, we spoke about how we met through our travel blogs, and she asked us which were our favourite countries. Amanda went for New Zealand while I said Vietnam. She then asked us what type of things you eat in these countries. Amanda said kiwifruit and I opted for pho.
“Fur?” she asked in confusion. “The fur of which animal?”
My eyes widened. Oops! She doesn’t know what pho is.
“Oh, um. Lots of soups,” I said back to her. “There’s lots of soups there.”
I quickly forgot about the conversation, but as we finished up, the hostess told us we would need to perform one final spell. Using everyone’s answers, she called out a line, which we then chanted back to her.
“We’ve come from far and wide, from Canada and Germany.”
“We’ve come from far and wide, from Canada and Germany.”
“We summon the power of kiwifruit and fur of lots of soups.”
“We summon the power of kiwifruit and fur of lots of soups.”
My Next Steps
July looks set to be another fantastic month and I can’t wait to jump straight in!
After finishing up in Liechtenstein, Dave and I will be travelling back across the border to Zurich with the aim of exploring the artsy Zurich West neighbourhood. This former industrial district has undergone a revival in recent years, and now abandoned factories, warehouses, and shipyards house coffee shops, bars, theatres, and galleries. It sounds exactly like our kind of place, so I’m excited to spend a couple of days sipping lattes, shopping in converted shipping containers, and squeezing in an Alice Cooper show, because yes, that is the main reason behind this entire trip.
I’ll be taking a day trip to beautiful Lucerne while I’m in town, too. I’ve seen so little of Switzerland up until now, so I’m excited to add a couple of new destinations to my travel map while most importantly of all, show you guys how you can visit on a budget!
I’ll be back in London after my week away, basing myself in the capital for a couple of days as I head to Hyde Park to check out the Roger Waters show. I’ll be meeting up with friends from the Pink Floyd forums I used to hang out in as a teenager and likely providing Dave with further evidence that I’m an enormous dork.
I suspect it’ll feel amazing to return to Bristol, so I know I’m going to want to spend all of my time outside and exploring. We’ll have 10 days to enjoy being settled before we head off on our next adventure.
Dave’s brother is graduating from Oxford with his PhD, and his entire family is flying in for the occasion! We’ll have several days of celebrating in the city before Dave and I begin road-tripping with his parents to Wales to meet up with my parents. We’ll have just a couple of days in Pembrokeshire, but I’m already expecting to fall in love with this part of Britain and immediately start planning my return.
I’ll be rounding off the month by showing Dave’s parents around Bristol, checking out some restaurants I have on my wish list, heading to many, many meet-ups and enjoying the (hopefully) fantastic weather!