New project

Since 2012, I’ve had a public place to write, usually some kind of blog. This is my third, each one serving a purpose before coming to a natural end, and something new taking its place.

The first was allchangeforpaps – my 2012 photo-a-day diary. This was the year I became single for the first time as an adult, and I wanted something to record how it went. I haven’t read any of these back in years. I suspect I’d probably cringe a bit if I did, at both my writing and what I got up to. I remember there were a lot of nights out and probably a lot of hangover or running posts. But I loved writing it; it got me into the habit of writing (and being present) every day and it was extremely cathartic to get my thoughts out during a time of real upheaval. I have no shame in any part of past me, I did my best with what I had at the time.

The second was Rise and Shine, Paps. I set this one up for after allchangeforpaps, because the format didn’t work any more and I wanted to carry on writing. I remember struggling without the focus of a daily picture to wrap my words around, feeling like I was floating around without an anchor and not knowing what to write about. It ended up being my travel journal after I quit my job and went travelling, and once I got back, a place for random thoughts. I did another photo-a-day-in 2016, but by then I had less enthusiasm and it didn’t seem as novel; rather, it felt like a bit of a chore. Once that finished, yet again, I felt like there was no focus or structure, and that the blog had had its day.

I set up The Paps Life, and started by writing about some of my adventures, but deep down I knew I didn’t really want to have a travel blog, or an adventure blog, or write posts on How to do XYZ. Those posts were hard to write and just didn’t sit right with me for a personal blog. I realised what I wanted were writing projects. Fun things with a start and end date, like photo-a-day. Projects where I had a focus, or a topic, but where I could play and get creative.

I’ve done a few of those now over the last few years, and I’ve 100% loved doing them. What surprised (and pleased) me is that other people seem to love them too. I never really expect anyone to read what I write, as it’s a bit cliche but I really do write my blogs for me. These last few writing projects though, have been enjoyed by others, and I’m stoked with some of the feedback I’ve got.

‘I’ve loved reading them, please write more.’ ‘You should write more.’ ‘When’s the next one coming out?’

The challenge is time. I’d LOVE nothing more than to spend more of my time writing, but there’s only so many hours in the day. For me to spend more of my time writing, I need to “work” less (e.g. less of the day job). Work is in inverted commas, because writing is work. It’s just a different type of work to what I do in my day job.

So if I’m working less, I need to replace that income with something. ‘Get paid to write!’ people say. So that’s exactly what I’m going to try and do. My new project is a Substack newsletter.

Substack lets independent writers and podcasters publish directly to their audience and get paid through subscriptions

I’ve recently come across Substack through Coasting, Elise Downing’s newsletter. Something lit a lightbulb for me when she talked about valuing writing and creative time. Previously, I’ve never thought that people would, or should, pay for my writing. But why? We pay for entertainment subscriptions, music, and books, why not publications or writing? So many things are expected for free these days, but if it takes time and skill to create, how else is that person supposed to pay their bills and eat and spend the time creating stuff? After all, you can’t live on exposure. And everyone hates ads, right? If you really value what someone has to offer, then perhaps it’s worth paying for.

Over the last couple of years, through burnout and turning 40, I’ve had a strong case of deja vu. When I turned 30, I realised I was on autopilot through life, like on a conveyor belt. Trundling along going along with what life should look like, making very few actual active decisions. I’ve spent the last ten years being way more active in my life choices, and trying to cultivate the life I want. I feel like I’ve jumped off the belt, fell halfway back on, and right now I feel like I’m hanging off it, one leg trailing along the floor; not quite on, but not quite off.

My Substack newsletter is called Off The Conveyor Belt. I’m quite tired of hanging on the belt still, and reckon now’s the time to take the leap and let go. I’m going to share my stories of what that letting go looks like. It’s not me chatting about my life; I want to make some big, bold, choices in the months to come and write about them.

Some newsletters will be free, but some you’ll only be able to read if you have a paid subscription (around the price of a coffee or two every month). It’s one step towards freeing up that time, one step towards me getting off the conveyor belt and really living the life I want.

I’d love for you to come and join me, and would massively appreciate the support. If you subscribe (free or paid) the newsletter will be sent directly to your inbox.

I’ll still keep the The Paps Life, but for the time being I’ll be focusing on Off The Conveyor Belt, so there won’t be any new content on here for a bit.

Thank you for supporting my work ❤

I’m all ideas

Have you ever had an idea that excites you so much you think you might burst? That makes you go all giddy and want to run around screeching and laughing maniacally? That you feel the same as being a kid when your Mum would say: “calm down, it’ll end in tears” because you and your siblings/cousins/friends were so excited to be seeing each other and running around doing whatever it is that you were doing?

Have you ever then told people said amazing idea, to help verbalise it so you can’t back out, and make it real, and their response makes you wish you’d never had the idea, let alone said anything out loud?

I have an idea. Well, I have a few, and I’m so fizzing over them, and this year I’ve finally got to the point where I’m ready to do shit, because I finally know what that shit looks like. My word of the year for 2023 is courage, and so I’m at the point where I actually want to take a leap of faith. I’m ready. I’m confident. I’m unwavering.


When you tell people, oh, do you get all the fears and what-ifs and the how-can-yous.

I’m learning there’s a fine line between telling people to help you sound things out loud and keep you accountable, and accepting you’ll hear things you don’t necessarily want to.

I guess at this stage, of not-quite-being-able-to-do-something-just-yet (and I’m aware I’m being a little cryptic, but I’m not ready to put stuff out into the world right now), I’m after encouragement and positivity. I’m want a response that’ll give me a little more confidence and courage to press ahead. I know there’ll be practical considerations. I know there’ll be things I need to think about. I know all this stuff.

I’m not stupid, I want to shout, although I know people don’t think that. And I don’t want an echo chamber of ‘OMG amazing yes, you can do anything you put your mind to and all you need is the mindset’, because we all know that’s not the case either. What I actually want is people to trust that I trust myself. Because I do. I know myself well by now, because I’ve tried, and failed, and succeeded, and fucked up, and been OK. I don’t make decisions all that lightly (even if it seems like I do), and even if things don’t work out, that’s alright. I’m OK with things failing, or going in a different direction.

I’ve been mulling all this over the last couple of weeks, and I think there’s a couple of things at play for me.

  1. I am triggered by how these scenarios played out in my relationship with my ex-husband. (Background: we were together from when I was 17 – 30 years old, and was a hugely formative relationship in my life which has had significant residual effects). Whenever I had an idea, or wanted to do something even slightly ‘out of character’, his first response would never be “oh amazing, tell me more”, it would be “that’s ridiculous” or, “how are you going to do that” or, “why do you want to do that”, and so on. Some points were valid, as it is useful to work through actually how I’d achieve something, but it felt like everything I did or said was met with negativity or blockers. My ideas and dreams were never celebrated or supported. He’d call me an idealist, or the eternal optimist, or a dreamer, and always in a negative way. I always thought’ what’s wrong with being all those things? Because yes, that is intrinsically me.
  2. People project their fears outwards. We know this happens, it’s an unconscious defense mechanism. But I don’t want to hear the fears. I know them, I’ve either overcome them, or I’m trying to ignore them, or I’m prepared to deal with them. I know some points are valid, I’m just not ready to delve into them yet. I’m at the ideas stage, where anything is possible.

I have to try really hard to not get defensive and feel like I have to justify myself, which is my natural reaction if I feel like someone’s telling me what to do (after years of point 1) or I feel like they’re trying to piss on my chippy chips. I want to be childish and petulant and say ‘FINE. I won’t bother telling anyone EVER.’ Which obviously helps. <rolls eyes at self> I just don’t have the energy or the details yet.

Because I, like probably most people, have the same thoughts about whether I can do stuff. No matter how much I trust myself, I still think ‘who am I to have this idea, what do I know? Why do I think I can play in this arena? Who do I think I am? Surely there are so many people out there doing this better than I can? Better qualified, more experienced, more savvy.’ Just better all round. Better than me. So every fear that’s projected onto me, reinforces that a little more. My little bit of confidence shrinks even more, and there I am, trying to grasp back onto it, like a slippery eel. Because maybe, just maybe, things will work out great. Maybe I can be great.

I guess what I’m saying, is that I don’t want to be told it’ll end in tears. Yes, it might, maybe it’s even very likely to, but I can deal with the tears when/if they come. And if someone tells you about an idea they have, even if you think it’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard, maybe the best response is ‘Wow! Tell me more,’ and ‘how do you feel about it?’

I love rustic

Yesterday me and Ben finished Operation Rustic Wood Store at The Little Red Cottage. When I say me and Ben, I mean mainly Ben. I mainly stood around offering ‘helpful’ suggestions and flouting basic health and safety rules by leaving stuff everywhere to form multiple trip hazards.

Seven months in, we’re still in that getting-to-know-each-other phase, and each new thing we do together brings chances to learn more about each other, because it brings different versions of us to the table. I had some trepidation about doing DIY together – at my house – because I’ve not had great experiences of that with my ex-husband (he basically told me I was crap at it and I never got a chance to try), and I’m very aware of how protective (i.e. precious) I am about the cottage.

But Ben is super laid back and totally understanding and accepting of how (and who) I am, and we communicate really well. So I can tell him when I think I’m being a dick, and he’ll tell me whether he feels like I am (and vice versa).

Ben laughs at how much I love character and rustic charm, and I’m not sure he believed me when I said I loved the wood store, built out of a jigsaw of pallets and offcuts of wood. I think he thought I was being polite. But I wasn’t. I really love it. It does what I need it to do, it’s got character, and it uses a redundant space in my garden. But mainly I love it because he wanted to help me, and we did it together, actually enjoying ourselves doing it. No arguments or frustration, just lots of laughing and teamwork.

I’m still smiling at how happy I am right now pottering about doing simple stuff in a house I own, with a partner I can see a future with. It’s so far away from where I was a few years ago, and it’s truly a testament to how much we change throughout our lives. That’s not to say I’m hanging up any adventure shoes just yet, I’m just enjoying where I’m at. I’m grateful to have everything I need.

2022, what a ride

What a total flip-swizzing-upturning-juggle-cat of a year 2022 has been. Many unexpected things happened-thankfully mainly the delightful kind, although some not so much – such is the balance of life. When 2022 started I had no real idea how it’d end, but I’m not sure I expected to be where I’m at right now.

I love that sumptuous feeling of not knowing how life will pan out, and having the freedom and opportunity to say yes–or fuck it–to opportunities that might come along. With that though, comes a mild chaos, and the energy-draining effort of change.

I feel like I’ve uttered the words ‘I’m so tired’ for years now, and frankly I’m getting a bit bored of myself. I wonder if it’s become a default, unconscious response. Some would argue it’s just part of being an adult over 30. Because I’m not tired all the time, not really. Just a bit weary when there’s lots going on, and overwhelmed when I have lots to do. Do our brains get fried as we get older? Less able to deal with several things at once? Or is it just me?

After I turned 40, I made a conscious decision to slow down. I’ve been on the go for over 10 years now, doing ALL the things after I got divorced, figuring things out and, if I’m honest, probably distracting myself from dealing with stuff. 2022 was the year I’d finally started feeling myself again, and facing the stuff, and getting better in tune with my intuition. Maybe I’ll write about the stuff one day. But today is not that day.

February saw me get my New Zealand residency, which meant I could live properly, not tied to anything or anyone. FREEDOM, in so many senses of the word. It’s really hard to describe the constraints, stress, and subsequent relief to anyone who hasn’t been through the whole work-to-residency thing. I read that post from back then and I want to give myself such a big hug. Oh, 2021 Tara was so burnt out. I was so fragile. But yet, I managed to do so much. I’ll give myself a pat on the back for that. It wasn’t easy, and honestly, I’m not sure how I did it. I read some of my 2021 posts and felt the stress all over again.

As soon as I got my residency, I went straight to 4 days a week at work, although only dropping 4 hours, from 40 to 36. Still, I got every Friday off again (I’ve since gone ‘proper’ part time 4 days a week on 32 hours, I’m 100% here for the work life balance). My boss agreed to 10 weeks off (although I actually ended up leaving that job and taking over 3 months off between jobs – oh and how much needed it was. Financially hard, but mentally priceless).

I picked up some freelance writing stuff, and can now definitely say I’m a writer without feeling like a fraud. I get paid for it and everything. It’s not going to pay the bills the way I’m doing it at the moment, but I’m playing around to see what it feels like and figure out what I enjoy (Spoiler: it’s writing about people, which I think I already knew, based on Tales from lockdown and Tales from lockdown – revisited).

I bought The Little Red Cottage. I literally can’t begin to describe how much I love my new home, so I’m not going to even try. Over ten years of wanting a very temporary lifestyle has been amazing, and suited me, but I’ve felt such a pull in the last year or so to have a base. A home. To feel settled. Somewhere I can put pictures up without having to ask anyone, or worry about the inventory when I moved on. It’s a strange feeling, but I’m leaning into it, and just figuring that this is me now. Might not be next year, but right now, this is me and how I’m feeling.

I’ve not got any physical achievements to speak of compared to previous years, but just keeping myself alive and mildly fit and active last year was an achievement in itself, so I’m 100% OK with that. I’ve experienced that in times of stress my body basically is like ‘nah, nah, nah’ to anything high impact or endurance based, so I’ve learned to listen to it and stop pushing. I mean, I’m not doing the yoga I’ve been talking about for ten years now, but, maybe one day right? (I do really need to, I’m stiffer than a sheet of dry plywood in the mornings, but one thing at a time)

A good chunk of last year was spent in the UK, surrounded by so many people who I love, and who love me, and again, I can’t begin to tell you how that feels. Maybe I can equate it to like a big squishy duvet and bed that you can sink into, knowing that you don’t have get up early in the morning. COMFORTING.

Then I came back to a new job, as a consultant, so really, we have two lots of new job stuff – the first is the company you’re employed by, then the client(s) you’re booked with. And as a consultant, you’re paid to be able to get up to speed at probably around 30 times faster than any permanent employee. Start a project, and in two days you should understand the organisation, their processes, culture, ways of working, hierarchy, the entire project and project team so you can write a project brief, business case or status report. It’s hard, but I’m not gonna lie though, I love it. I’m enjoying the disconnect from an organisation I’m doing most of my work in, and my work life balance is GREAT.

My first week was intense, as any new job is, but I was also dealing with the fact my Dad was critically ill in hospital. The last day of my first week, I was on the phone to my brother, both of us in tears, talking about whether I’d need to look at flights to go back. I’d only just stepped off a plane a couple of weeks earlier. It was 10 minutes before I was due to head out to a meeting with some potential clients. I had to slap on the professional face, but inside it was so hard to keep it together. I changed my plans that day and drove home that night, crying the entire 3 hour journey. Proper, gut-wrenching, loud crying, because no one can see or hear you in the car, right?

That was the start of November, and my feet haven’t touched the floor since really. The day I got back after that awful journey, Ben came over and just literally held me all night. He whispered ‘I’ve got you’ in my ear, and didn’t let go for hours, and I don’t think I’ve told him how grateful I am for that.

Speaking of Ben, he’s THE BEST. Sadly early 2022 saw the end of my relationship with Pete (the Poet), and I honestly didn’t expect to meet anyone anytime soon. Or ever. A little part of me thought maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this relationship malarky.

It was unexpected, I wasn’t looking for anyone or anything, but we just clicked, and man, are we SO aligned. Our first date, just meeting for a coffee (or tea, in my case), lasted 7 hours. Our second date was more than 24 hours, only ending because Ben didn’t bring his work laptop. And so, as they say, the rest is history. I love what we have so far, and what we might have in the future, and I love how I feel and who I am when I’m with him. “You make me feel, Like I’m drunk on stars and we’re dancing out into space” Ed Sheeran, Celestial

I do a yearly word – basically a word that describes how I want to live my life by that year. 2022 was ‘positivity’ because I sure needed that after so long feeling anything but. This year’s word is ‘courage’. I feel ready to take a leap of faith or a risk with life, in all aspects. I feel empowered and energised, which is a welcome change after feeling tired for so long. I mean, physically I still feel about 80 sometimes, but I think that’s just life in your 40’s, right?

Watch this space.

Welcome home

There’s been quite a few occasions I’ve come to start to write this post, and I’ve given up. Sometimes because I have no words, sometimes because I’m not sure to write, and sometimes because I’m just exhausted.

It’s because there’s been so much going on.

The other week, a few days after I got home, I sat on my big yellow chair and just started at the wall. After a while Ben looked up from his laptop, noticed me just sat there staring into space, and said, ‘are you OK?’

‘Not really,’ I said.

I felt so overwhelmed. It just hit me how much change, and ‘stuff’ I was dealing with. Again.

I’d just got back from nearly 3 months away to a house I’d only lived in for a few weeks. The garden was a jungle, and there was all these jobs I’d left until ‘I got back’. A.k.a put off, and I was now realising I’d actually have to do them. My to do list was continuously growing.

I was exhausted from being in so many places and seeing so many people in a short space of time. The emotional toll of seeing and then saying goodbye to people I love was pretty hefty.

Ben was there and we were getting used to being together in person, and we were spending the whole of my first week back together. I loved it, and at the same time was also overwhelmed by my feelings. They felt so strong for someone I’d spent more time with virtually than in person.

My Dad was critically ill in intensive care. He’d fallen ill unexpectedly just as I left the UK, and was taken into hospital while I was in Canada. I didn’t know whether I’d be having to look at flights back to the UK just after I’d left. I didn’t really have the money, or the time – I didn’t have any holiday allowance, having not yet even started my new job. I’d be at the end of the phone, anxiously waiting for updates from my brother. My heart would pound when I’d look at my phone each morning, not knowing what I’d read. There were days where each day brought worse news. I’d dread the phone ringing, living on a permanent edge.

I was about to start a new job. The usual thing of needing to have that new job energy – be at the top of your game. Be reliable. Be the person they’d interviewed. I felt so far from that.

So yeah, it’s going well. <sarcastic laugh>

Obviously I just want to retreat into a hole and pretend I’m not an adult with any responsibilities, but that’s not really an option. So it’s the usual look after myself, lean on people and try to keep it together as much as possible. I’d say it’s working 90% of the time but my capacity for pretty much everything is definitely reduced, so please don’t expect too much from me right now.

Cananda rocks [sp]

A week into my Canadian trip and I’m just starting to wind down. OK yeah, it might seem strange because I’ve been on ‘holiday’ for two months already but just because I’ve not been working doesn’t mean I’ve not been on the go.

Originally me and Katie had talked about a big Canadian roadtrip up to/through the Rockies, seeing all the things and having all the adventures, but we soon realised that neither of us had the energy for it. It’s been a busy and intense couple of months for both of us, and a few weeks ago we decided to stay on Vancouver Island and rent a little cabin by the ocean where we could chill out and just go exploring if and as we wanted to.

The trip to the UK and Canada this year was always about people, not about ‘travel’. I didn’t really care what I did as long as I spent time with the people I’ve missed so much over the last few years. I told Katie as long as I saw a few nice views and got to hang out with her that’d be enough.

So we find ourselves in the most wonderful little cabin right on the beach with views of mountains across the water. We’ve watched seals and whales play just metres from where we sit with a glass of wine (or mainly tea now, after going way overboard with the wine on the first night due to over excitement), and the sunrises and sunsets every day have been INCREDIBLE. We’re spending our days walking, chatting, reading, writing, eating, and exploring.

It’s perfect.

I’ve been reflecting on my time in the UK. It was the BEST. It really was. I’ve had a decent chunk of time to catch up and reconnect with so many people, and loved having so much fun. I’ve laughed SO MUCH. I’ve been so burnt out the last couple of years it’s been a real treat not having to think about ‘work’, because of finishing up one job in July and not starting the next until I get back. Knowing that I don’t have to rush because I always seem to have that little bit more time is a luxury I don’t feel like I’ve had for a long time.

It’s also been an emotional rollercoaster. It’s so lovely to see everyone, and then such a wrench to leave again. Just as it’s a wrench to be away from my New Zealand life and people, and it feels SO long now. And of course there’s fabulous Ben, the guy I met just before going away. Who I’ve had to date virtually for the last 9 weeks. When I went, I was like, oh yeah, this is fine, it’s only a couple of months. Wrong. It’s the longest time EVER and I’m impatient and he’s LOVELY and I’m excited and nervous and a bit giddy. It’s been so weird having to get to know each other virtually. Great, and nice, but a bit strange because there’s obviously a dimension missing, and all we can do is talk and talk and talk. But I reckon we’ve got to know each other pretty well, and it seems we still like each other, so that’s got to be a good thing, right?

We have a few more days here at the cabin before heading back to Victoria, then I head back to the mainland to catch my flights to Aotearoa (New Zealand). I’m ready for it now. I’m ready for my own bed, for the little red cottage, and some routine. Not sure I’m quite ready to start work again, but I have another week after I get back before I start my new job. I’ll put off thinking about it until then.

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the unseasonably great weather, soak up the island views and keep ploughing through my kindle reading list.

Halfway house

I’ve been in the UK for just over five weeks now, so I’m just over halfway through my trip. In two and a half weeks I’ll be leaving the UK for a couple of weeks in Canada before heading home to New Zealand.

I’m having the BEST time. I’m seeing all the people and doing all the things. Of course, this is exhausting (and all my own doing) but LOVELY. You know what I like the best? All the hugs. The proper, come-here-and-squeeze-me-hard-I’ve-missed-you hugs. I feel loved.

I’m lucky to have a lot of wonderful people in my life, and I’m stoked to have the time to meet up with most of them. To catch up with what’s gone on the last few years, chew the fat and reconnect. And laugh. Oh my word, have I laughed and laughed and laughed.

It’s weird being back. Everything in Lincolnshire was so familiar, it was like I’d only just left. Cheltenham is different, and it feels like AGES since I’ve lived here. My memories are a little hazier, and the town that little bit more unfamiliar. Likely because I only have 3 years worth of memories compared to 30, but still, it’s disconcerting. I loved my time in Cheltenham, and I adored my life here. This was the life I gave up to move to New Zealand, and I felt the loss for a number of years, so to feel a bit of a disconnect was a surprise.

New Zealand seems a little further away now, and the UK becoming more usual each day, but I don’t feel a pull to come back to live. NZ is home now. Ben sends me pictures of the mountains, and I’m a little homesick for my life there. I’m excited to see him again, to see what happens. Starting a relationship over video calls and messages isn’t ideal, and I’m impatient.

Covid has affected everyone in so many different ways, and conversations have gone beyond ‘what you been up to the past few years?’ Priorities have changed, conversations are deeper, the hard stuff is up for sharing. I’m feeling very enriched, grateful and connected. I fucking hate this saying, but it feels right: ‘my cup is full’.

I’m also absolutely LOVING: old buildings, pints of beer, the green English countryside, walking everywhere, sunshine, not having to work, halloumi.

Not loving: traffic, roundabouts, crowds of people, litter, not being able to sleep past 7am (even when I go to bed at 1am), living out of a bag.

Back in the UK.

It’s 3pm and I’m sat outside the Royal William on the Brayford with a pint of Moretti in the sun. There’s a lot of algae on the water and as I take a sip of my beer I wonder briefly what causes it. I should know, I think. But I don’t, and the thought slips away as quickly as it formed.

I watch people walk past, scanning faces in case I see someone I know. I’m expecting to, I realise. Surely I’ll see someone I know? It feels like I should, but I’ve not lived in Lincoln for nearly ten years, and people – and places – change. In some ways it feels like I’ve gone back in time, like I still live here, and that’s a disconcerting thought. 

My friend Sarah left New Zealand in April to go back to Scotland for a year. The pandemic took it’s toll on migrants being separated from their families, and Sarah wanted to spend an extended period of time living back with her family. ‘I can’t wait, but I’m worried about reverting back to the person I was before I moved to New Zealand though. To living life with values that are different to how I live now. To feel like an outsider.’ she said.

I can totally relate. Not that there’s anything wrong with those lives we led once, but they’re gone now, they’re in the past, and it’d feel like going backwards.

I feel an urge to tell people I don’t live here anymore for some reason. Shop workers, bar staff, people in queues. Just now, when I was buying my drink, I found a way to tell the girl behind the bar I lived in New Zealand. Maybe it’s a way of reminding myself. The longer I’m here, the more familiar everything becomes and the more my memories of life over there get buried a little deeper.

I’ve only been here for just over three weeks but it seems a lot longer. And then I think maybe I’m overthinking (likely, we all do that right?), but coming back after 4 years from a place that I never 100% fully committed to living long term, after a global pandemic, feels like a big deal for me. There’s been times over the last couple of years that I’ve not known if I’d ever get back (catastrophising, but the threat felt very real to me). Sounds and smells trigger all the memories and all the emotions.

This isn’t really a holiday, although I’m having the BEST time. Better than I could hope for. I have so much gratitude for the people, the time I’m getting with them and their generosity. And the FULLEST time. My days are full of people, life admin, running, biking or just STUFF. And isn’t England just amazing?

It’s a trip to reconnect but also disconnect. I’m finally sorting out all my stuff, and figuring out how to get it to NZ. Saying out loud to people who want you to come back, that you’re choosing not to. Feeling guilty I’m not spending enough time with people. But really, there’ll never be enough time. I’m just trying to make it quality time.

Then there’s the fledgling relationship waiting for me, where these 10 weeks seem a lifetime before we can see what happens. I feel guilty a small part of me is looking forward to when I get back, because this amount of time off is a gift and a privilege, and I feel torn at how much time I want to spend connecting with Ben.

Yesterday it all felt a bit much. I’m surprised it took this long to be fair, there’s so many emotions floating around, and I felt anxious over nothing in particular. I went out for a run and had a cry. That helped. Then went to Karl’s and drank beer. That also helped.

Bye New Zealand

I haven’t left New Zealand since April 2018, only a few months after I moved here. Back then I didn’t feel I’d been here long enough to warrant a trip back, but I already had the flights booked and I was feeling pretty battered and bruised after the break up with Mike, so I embraced it wholeheartedly. Little did I know there’d be another four years until I’d get back again.

My flights in August 2020 were cancelled, and I spent the next 18 months not knowing when, or if, I’d get back to the UK. If you’ve read any of my old posts, you’ll know this was stressful as fuck, and I’ve been in the little safe bubble that’s been Aotearoa New Zealand ever since.

Until now.

I was surprised earlier today to find I felt apprehensive about flying. It’s been so long since I’ve travelled internationally, and the world’s changed, that I was (still am) sure I’ve missed something. That I’ll get to an airport and not be able to get on a plane because I’ve not filled out a form, or got the wrong passport or something.

There’s also a part of my brain that has wanted to do this for so long, it still doesn’t feel real. I’ve spent so long accepting the fact I can’t see people I love, that it seems surreal to know I’ll actually see people IN THE FLESH in a couple of days. I think my brain, in some self preservation mode, had actually prepared itself for never seeing people ever again, so I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

Add to that I feel a bit nervous about seeing everyone. It’s been SO LONG. The world is different. We’re all different. A global pandemic has changed us as people forever. Maybe I’m different. Will people remember me? Will we have things in common? Has everyone moved on?

So I flip from weird apprehension to being nervous, to sadness at leaving. I think I’ve *just* got my NZ life to where I want it right now, absolutely bloody loving it, and now I’m leaving it for 2 months. Honestly, life is SO good for me right now. I love my cottage so much you wouldn’t believe, I’m LOVING the life I’m making in Reefton and all the people I’m meeting, I’m excited for my new job and I’ve just met someone who makes me smile and fizz inside.

You couldn’t make this timing shit up. Good things come to those who wait though right?

See you soon, UK, and NZ? Wait for me, won’t you?