I have yet again been rather inspired by another blogger (ThisIsYouth) and a strong cup of coffee, to write a reflection on the year just gone. Cutting all the nonsense, writing the truth and we all know I’m a bit of an oversharer, so strap in tight and listen up. This is my year in places.
As long ago as it seems, it was 2017 that began with dancing in a nightclub in Beijing, putting far too much trust in new friends, reeling from harsh words thrown around his apartment, on the recieving end of a Scot’s self-exploration and recklessness, and at the tail end of a disfunctional, far too traditional and incompatible relationship. He was a good person, just not the right person for me.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a negative start to the year; I began by running through the cold streets of the city intoxicated and happy but lost and chasing after a boy. I didn’t end up with him, thank goodness, but I did enjoy an evening of engaging conversation with a Canadian and some similarly confused travellers rattling around a hostel in search of connection and experience. Come to think of it, I’ve spent a lot of this year in hostels. I think we all got what we wanted, and the year rolled in fast and unexpectadly, miles away from home, much like 2018.
A decent portion of last year was spent in Cardiff, finishing up my university course with a slightly disappointing 2:2 grade and a half-finished exhibition to show for my three years of hard work, and a big graduation ceremony. Cardiff is where Stalefish was born and it’s where I intend to grow the idea in the future. The end of uni tumbled quickly towards us all, stressed out and drowning in caffeine, but excited for the future and throwing our all into the last few months like our lives depended on it, and in a way they did.
Cardiff became home for me; I made so many friends, read some great books, worked hard at a fair few jobs, explored relationships; the bonfires, the sunsets, the late nights and cheesecakes and films and TV series’, glasses of wine, they all meant something. I got more tattoos, went to Pride and a couple of local festivals, I made useful connections in the industry I hope to one day find a career in. Cardiff is where I spent my birthday, surrounded by loved ones, it’s where I met Harry, where I spent Monday nights with Hogans cider on my lips and board games at my fingertips. Cardiff is where I went to as many creative workshops, events and conferences as I could find. I used the city as a spring-board for my adventures and one day I’ll return, although I hope that day doesn’t come too quickly. I’m not quite ready to retreat just yet, Cardiff will benefit more from me once I have all this experience behind me.
I took a little trip back to the West, to see my Mum and brother and his girlfriend at the time. It was a really pleasant day, an oasis in the otherwise unforgiving force that Swansea can be.
London has always been one of my favourite UK cities, so it would have been odd not to visit a few times. Me and Harry went there to explore and have fun in arcades, wander through art galleries, of course visit the Photographers Gallery, Camden and the parks. This year I went back to Chelsea for the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre; a small moment of glamour and a glipse at what could be, who I could become, one day.
Cornwall & the Eden Project, England
This was one of my absolute favourite trips of 2017. Harry surprised me, treated me to tickets, and so off we went; a ridiculously long and expensive trip to a comparitively close destination, but oh so worth it. We stayed in a beautiful B&B, surrounded by the great British countryside and falling more and more for eachother at each passing glance, each step through grass and nettles, each incredible view of the rolling hills. It was perfect. *Excuse the cheese*
Scotland was a persuit of love, of closure and a goodbye to my Nan.
Bristol & Bath, England
Of course I spent a few days wandering around Bath and Bristol taking photos and taking in the familiar scenery before my big adventure abroad. Bath has always been so beautiful to me and Bristol such a hub for art and creativity, I needed to say goodbye before I left. I also headed over to Glastonbury for a peek at my Grandparents’ new digs and one last goodbye. While I was there my Nan took every opportunity to tell people my plans to visit Australia, including the waitress at a little cafe we went to. This is where I decided to put off talking about my plans until they are in action, I’ve wasted too much time being ‘The Girl Going Away’; kept at arms length and used as a story to tell, a one-trick pony, always temporary, always leaving.
In the spirit of saying goodbye to family and on a roll with mine and Harry’s adventures, we decided to head to Rome to stay with my Aunt for a few days. We spent our time here bathing under the Italian setting sun, having breakfast on the balcony, roaming around admiring the achitecture and making sandcastles on the warm beaches. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect holiday.
I could write so much about Chengdu, but I’ll keep it short. I found Chengdu to be a major turning point for me, it made me realise I can’t keep dipping in and out of travel and there are some important decisions I need to make; I want this to be much more permanent, I want to find myself in new places learning new things for as long as I possibly can. I want to return to Asia, to meet and connect with more people; this is something really important to me. Chengdu reminded me of who I am and what I am capable of, it was also very humbling and put a lot of things in perspective. One of these things being how ignorant I can be to the world and it has motivated me to put much more effort into learning Mandarin, and aim towards going back in a year or two to study the language formally or get a job in teaching.
I met a group of really amazing people (don’t get involved with someone with a blog unless you want to be written about!). Claire, I was so lucky getting to live with you, you made every rubbish situation into a funny story, you listened to all my drama and I hope I provided the same comfort. I miss our little appartment and the nice security men who saluted us every time we left the gates; even when we were grumpy from a long day at work, even with our broken Chinese and nervous giggling. I miss Sylvia and Becky, Tacey and Phoebe, all the nights out and tipsy storytelling, Rory and Jonas, with their messy flat parties and strange German mulled wine. Those two months have already started to feel like a dream, like they never happened, but I’m so so glad that they did. *Amsterdam Christmas re-union 2018!*
I got to work for an environmental agency trying to make positive change, and write for multiple organisations; my work was published on WeChat accounts, newsletters and blogs and I got to be a part of the British Council’s poetry event; an excuse to practise, and be terrified by, public speaking. I’ll leave it there, but Chengdu was truly an incredible experience and anyone wanting to explore China should take a trip over to InternChina and get involved.
I ended the year in Sydney, still stumbling around not really solidifying any purpose here and meeting more people than I know what to do with, but happy, and proud to be on this big ridiculous adventure. If you’d told me a couple of years ago I’d be here now, chilling out on the beach under the hot December sun, spending the New Year and hopefully the rest of 2018 in Australia, chasing a dream I’ve had since I was a child, I’d have thought you were crazy. But here I am, still unsettled and nervous but doing it, and enjoying every second; even if most of those seconds are spent in my newly aqcuired lodge room with my laptop frantically throwing out job applications left, right and centre. There are good things ahead!