Thursday, 28 April 2016

Kayaking in Arisaig.

First of all, I am not well known for my love of sport, exercise or getting out of bed unless it's for food. I'm highly aware of the dangers of an inactive lifestyle, a bad diet and sitting a desk 5 days week for 9 hours a day so on a weekend I try and do something that get's me moving.

In WA I used to go on hikes through national parks and one time I even hauled my lardy arse up a mountain. I liked hiking (even though I used to stamp my feet and moan when I got tired) and it got me interested in trying other forms of exercise.

When we went to the Whitsundays for a week we tried kayaking and that was it, I was in luuuuurve. I'd finally found an activity that I enjoyed, that Jody and I could do together, and something that I was actually quite good at. Since coming home I've been dying for the weather to perk up a bit so we could try kayaking somewhere in the UK.

We decided that Jody's birthday weekend was the perfect time to go and settled on staying in Fort William (Scotland) and making the journey to the small village of Arisaig for the kayaking itself.


Arisaig. Sounds like somewhere (or someone) out of Harry Potter doesn't it? I think it sounds like a somewhere magical and dreamy and guess what, it is. It's a 45 minute drive from Fort William and it's definitely worth the trip.

We booked a half day sea kayaking tour with Rockhopper Sea Kayaking and we paid £45 each. Considering the price included dry bags, waterproof coats/trousers, lifejackets and an experienced guide, I didn't think it was too bad.

Anyways instead of babbling on about how beautiful and serene and magical and calming the experience it was, I figured I would just let you see the photos and make your own mind up. Me personally? I was in awe of how silver the sand was and how blue the water was, I mean we don't get things like that in the UK surely? I actually thought that kayaking in Scotland was more enjoyable and picturesque than kayaking in the Whitsundays - I'm not joking either.

I forgot to mention that we also passed through an area where a seal colony calls home. Yep we passed by so many seals, and some even came up to the kayaks for a nosey which was amazing. I've had lots of animal encounters but all in a sanctuary or a zoo environment, none as wild as that!

We got really lucky with the weather too so I feel like we got the best experience we could have possibly had. Our guide Ben was great and I can't recommend Rockhopper kayaking enough.

Where's the most beautiful place you've ever been too? Comment below!

waterproof suit

A rather fetching photo of me in my waterproof gear and my spray deck - Nice

silver sands of mohar

Check out the silver sand - You don't get this at Whitby do you?

the kayaks and the water

 Look how blue that water is! Can you believe it's Scotland?

And of course did kayaking really happen if we didn't take a couple of selfies?

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Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Sunday Catch Up #11

lonely planet mag

Good Morning Sunshine! And what a lovely week it's been! Yorkshire actually got some sunshine this week although sadly for me, I work in an office and I don't even face a window. Yep, get the tissues out. I'm really hoping the sunshine sticks around for a bit now, but we all know that isn't gunna happen don't we.

This week I've started listening to podcasts which is something I haven't really done before. I don't know if it's because my attention span is horrendous or what but something really gelled this week and I've gotten really into them. I've been listening to Laura Jane William's (Superlatively Rude) podcast 'becoming' and Emma Gannon's (Girl Lost in the City) 'Ctrl Alt Del'. Both feature inspiring conversations between inspiring women and you should go and listen. I've also been listening to the TedX Talks on travel via youtube. I especially liked Rick Steves: The Value of Travel. Next up, Serial.

As an anti-social hermit crab, my social calender is usually pretty quiet bar the odd trip to the pub but this weekend I have had not one BUT TWO social engagements. I know I'm practically Paris Hilton without the sex tape and all the money. Yesterday I attended Ice Lolly's Blog At The Beach (more on that another day) and today it's my sister's baby shower at Mama Doreen's Emporium in Harrogate - Meaning CAKE CAKE CAKE.

On Tuesday night I took advantage of my Meerkat Movies voucher code and dragged Jody to see The Jungle Book. I loved it and Jody gave it a solid 10/10 - Something he doesn't do very often. It's hard to believe that the film is shot primarily in CGI as all the animals are so lifelike. I think the actors cast were perfect for their roles aswell, especially Christopher Walken as a mobster style King Louie. Go see it.

Before I sign off, has anybody played Heads Up? It's Ellen DeGeneres's app and basically, there are a few categories to pick from, pick a category and your family and friends have to act out the word, do the accent etc etc and you have to guess the word on your forehead. It's heaps of fun, especially if you have a crazy family like I do!


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Thursday, 21 April 2016

How to be a good dorm mate

To the two computer whizzes who had never heard of deoderant, the German BFF's who kept me up every night partying and giggling, to the drunkard of an undetermined nationality who thought it was appropriate to go to bed in the bunk above us with an open water bottle (You can guess how that panned out)...This post is dedicated to you.

1. Thou shall not, under any circumstances, sit on someone elses bed...Even if it is the bottom bunk and you're stuck on a top one.

2. If one has pongy feet do everyone a favour and leave your shoes outside the door (If you can)

3. Please for the love of God don't turn on the light after midnight.

4. If you happen to be going out, make sure you have everything you need out of your locker - Trust me you won't have very happy dorm mates if you wake them up looking for stuff.

5. Don't invite strangers back to the room after a night out. Drunken conversations are the worst, especially when you are in bed and have work/want to sleep.

6. Keep an eye on your personal hygiene. Noone wants a stinky roommate.

7. Don't think it's okay to borrow your dorm mates stuff. It's never okay unless you have permission.

8. Keep your belongings in a nice tidy pile, close to your bed.

9. Don't keep any 'herbal remedies' in your locker because it doesn't smell nice and we all know it's in there.

10. No cheeky fumbles.  Either make sure nobody else is in the room or go to the bathroom if you want to do the dance with no pants. Noone wants to hear that shit.

Have you ever been guilty of any of these? Comment below!

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Monday, 18 April 2016

5 tips for getting a backpacker job in Australia

When I crash landed in Australia I thought it would be really easy to get work. I'd been emailing with a hair salon in Perth before I arrived and had a trial set up for a few weeks after my arrival. Sadly (for me), they didn't want someone at my level, on my visa so I had to look for another job in the administrative field, as I had prior experience in this area.

Getting a job in Australia (and I imagine any other country) is pretty hard even if you do speak fluent English and have a great CV full of fab references. Sometimes your CV might not be right, they may not want someone who is going to be moving on so quick or you are quite simply not the right fit - Well never fear here are some handy tips and tricks for getting a job on your working holiday visa.

Have your CV in the right format.
I wrote a WHOLE POST about writing a CV for Aussie employers and you can find it here. Basically Aussie employers are a lot more interested in your previous jobs being listed from most recent to least recent. Makes a lot more sense really when you think about it right? Also, rather than writing a paragraph about your job role, use bullet points to keep it short and to the point. It makes for a much more stream lined CV and future employers can pick out key information quickly.

Use SEEK, facebook groups or recruitment agencies.
What kind of job you want will influence how you apply for it. For example if you are looking for temporary office work (the big bucks) you would be better off sending your CV to a few recruitment agencies. If you are looking for bar work you should be dropping off CV's in person or applying through the companies websites. Use Gumtree and Facebook to find regional/construction work and then use recruitment websites like SEEK for teaching jobs. Try a mash up of techniques and you will find yourself working within a few weeks. Some people will apply for a couple of jobs online and think that's enough but tbh 95% of the time it just isn't, especially as a backpacker looking for work.

If you are in a hostel keep an eye on the notice board.
You wouldn't believe how many small business owners go into hostels looking for workers and that's actually how Jody found one of the jobs that he had in Sydney. Even better, get yourself to a working hostel in regional Oz and they will help find you farm work that will count towards your second year visa - Money and days ticked off, win win!

Don't go in looking like a backpacker.
This one goes without saying really. You wouldn't wear your scruffs to an interview at home so why would you do it while you were travelling? Even if it's a job on a farm at least wear a nice pair of jeans and a good shirt to try and make an impression. As the old saying goes, first impressions do count!

Apply for any certificates or cards you may need when you arrive.

 Depending on what it is you do, you may need some additional Aussie certificates to allow you to work certain jobs. For example, if you work with children you may need a working with children card/check, if you work with alcohol you will need a Responsible Serving of Alcohol certificate and if you want to work in construction you will need a whitecard. Get these before you go or just after you arrive so you don't have to mess around getting them later on (and you can put them on your CV for bonus points!). If you have any UK qualifications don't forget to take copies of your certificates with you either as they might ask to see them!

If you are in Australia and the moment and you're looking to get a whitecard, a RSA (Responsible Serving of Alcohol) certificate or a RSG (Responsible Service of Gambling) certificate then you are in luck as Express Online Training are currently offering Alright Blondie readers discounts on their courses to get you started. The great thing is that you can pay after you pass - Meaning if you change your mind (or get a job that doesn't need any certs) it doesn't cost you a thing. Click on the links below to get started!*

White Card for working safely in the Construction Industry, $39 AUD (was $59 AUD).
RSA Certificate for working with alcohol, $17 AUD (was $49 AUD)
RSG Certificate for working in gambling services, $17 AUD (was $49 AUD)

So there you have my 5 tips for getting a backpacker job in Australia? Do you have any other tips or tricks that could come in handy for other backpackers out there?

* This post was written in partnership with Express Online Training after doing considerable research into their company, what they do and what they offer. I received no payments or rewards for working with them and I will not benefit in any way if you do decide to undertake any training with them.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Sunday Catch up #10

the view
Happy Sunday and welcome to the Sunday Catch up! I was busy kayaking away last Sunday and was way too tired to blog afterwards so this week's kind of a double edition!
I spent last weekend in Fort William up in the Scottish Highlands which was pretty awesome. Bar a ridiculously long drive we had an awesome time. We took in some pretty sweet views and spent a day on the water kayaking (more on that to come!). For once in our lives we got really lucky with the weather and it held off on raining until we got back to our B&B.
On the Monday we did the monster drive home, had a quick nap, then it was back in the car to head to Fibbers in York. Jody and I went to see our FAVOURITE band, The View (I've had the same jeans on, for four days now...You know that song surely??) and as always they smashed it. It's the 5th time I've seen them and they just get better and better, so much energy and a great atmosphere. We also got matching t shirts - Don't judge us.
Apart from that it's been a regular week. I got a cheeky little pay rise which pretty nice and on Friday night I went for a meal with Jody's family before celebrating one of our friend's 30th. Obvs this meant we spent all of Saturday in bed - hangover free though thank God - and finished S3 of Sons of Anarchy, re-watched all of S4 of Him & Her and started Kimmy Schmidt S2. A really productive Saturday I know.
Next weekend is all go so it's probably a good idea that I had a steady one this week. I have the Ice Lolly Blog at the Beach event in Leeds on Saturday then Sunday is my sister's baby shower at a cupcake place in Harrogate - YAY cake!
I've also booked a hotel for a weekend away in January - If you follow me on Twitter you will have seen where I'm going but for now I'm going to keep it quiet until the flights are booked! Hurrah to new adventures!
How has your week been? Are any of you guys attending the Ice Lolly event?

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

On Staying Still.

Margaret River ice cream

This time two years ago my application for an Australian working holiday visa was accepted. It was about half past ten at night, I was in by myself and I did some weird little jumpy up and down dance. I rang Jody to tell him OMG IT'S ACTUALLY HAPPENING then I couldn't get to sleep because I was just so darn excited about life. The next 7 months included a lot of saving and OMG ONLY X MONTHS UNTIL WE GO. Then we hopped on the plane, spent 12 months dicking around and well, now we're home.

Sure I could have stayed in Oz for a another 12 months but I really, really hated farm work so there's no way I'd have done 3 months of that. After rocky start when I first got home, I've now pretty much accepted the fact that I'm back in Yorkshire. It doesn't bother me too much really.

After such a crazy 2015 I think it's good to take a break. Jody and I went on a grand total of 12 planes last year - That's more planes than some go on in a lifetime - and covered a shit tonne of ground in the time we were away.

2016 going to be about taking it steady. I'm going to stay put in the UK this year with no immediate plans to leave. Don't get me wrong if I can afford to squeeze in a cheeky trip to Europe, I will do, but it's not the end of the world if I don't. I've got trips within the UK planned, some gigs and festivals to attend and I'm going to be a first time Auntie in May so there's that to look forward too. We're also moving out in a couple of months so that's my No.1 priority at the moment.

I'm not entirely sure how to have a mainly travel based blog if I'm not doing much travelling but I'm sure I'll work it out. I'm going to take full advantage of being in the UK and devote my weekends to exploring my own backyard and all the national trust sites so I'm sure I'll be sharing my mini adventures on here. I might even try and go on my first trip to Ireland if there's enough money in the pot spare.

I've got enough going on at the moment to keep me pretty occupied so being home isn't the end of the world. So many people I met whilst travelling were fascinated with the UK and now I'm home I can see why -  I'm looking at being home as a new adventure, seeing the UK with fresh eyes.


Are there any places within the UK that you guys are particularly in love with? Recommendations are very welcome!


Surviving a 6 hour car road trip with your SO

This weekend Mr Blondie and I hopped in our little fiesta and made the 6 hours/300mile journey to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. I've written before about surviving a week in a campervan with your partner and now it's time for tips on how to survive a road trip together.

Pack plenty of snacks and drinks.
When I say there's nout worse than HANGER I mean it. It can cause arguments of epic propertions so make sure you are fully stocked up on starbursts and jelly beans. Plus if you stock up at the supermarket it will be a millions times cheaper than at the roadside services. Maybe take some apples and nanas too to try squeeze in some goodness. Make sure you drink plenty aswell because lack of fluids can lead to lack of concentration and that's not ideal when you're driving.

Have a wicked good collection of music.
Sometimes the conversation flows non stop and sometimes you just want peace and quiet. Make sure you have a good playlist on your phone or a great CD collection to fill in the gaps between convos. Let's have it right, the radio's a bit rubbish and repetitive these days so decent tunes are a must. I recommend having a mass sing a long to help keep the mood light.

Make regular pitstops so you can stretch your legs.
Now don't go spending all your pennies at the service stations because you will be broke before you've even got to your destination. Do make sure you get out regularly for a walk about though so your legs don't seize up and your back doesn't ache. You don't want to be sore for the rest of your trip do you?

Dress comfortably.
Again, if you're uncomfortable chances are you will get snappy and irritable and your road trip buddy which isn't exactly fair. Wear leggings or trackies (or even loose jeans) to make sure your waistband isn't rubbing on your tummy. Make sure you have good driving footwear and layers (you're buddy might not want the air con/heating on like you do!).

Take a sat nav.
One of the number one causes of all car based arguments is directions. Maybe someone hasn't been paying attention to Google Maps or you were singing so loudly you didn't hear it? Taking a Sat Nav means you can only really get angry with the machine and not with each other AND it will re-route if you do happen to mis read it. Plus google maps wears your battery down dead fast and if you are doing a scenic route you will want to save it for some road side pics!

Have you ever been on a road trip with your partner before? Or what about a road trip with your BFF's or kids? How was it?


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Five pretty sweet things to do in Denmark WA.

Located four and a half hours away from Perth is a small town called Denmark. Yes like the European country. Now I'd never heard of this town until I decided to go on a campervan tour of the South West region of Australia and started doing some research into where to go and what to do. Turns out, there's heaps of stuff to do in Denmark.

animal feeding

Denmark Animal Farm & Pentland Alpaca Stud

Denmark Animal Farm is 20 minutes away from the town centre and has pretty much EVERYTHING. I got stalked by baby wallabies, bottle fed piglets, lambs and kids, fell in love with a fluffy calf, saw the biggest koalas ever and fed a camel. We were there for around two hours and even the rain didn't put a dampener (LOL) on the day. To this day it's one of the best animal places I've been so far.

dinosaur world

Dinosaur World

Okay I'm not gunna say this place was the best place ever cos it wasn't but for an hour it was okay, especially as it started chucking down. I'm slightly obsessed with dinosaurs so this kinda place is right up my street. We actually ended up watching two snakes have sex for around 45 minutes because we thought it was one snake having a bit of a fit. Oops. There's also loads of birds and a nice big green area where you can have a picnic on a nice day.


Discovery Bay (Whale World)*

Discovery Bay consists of a botanical garden, a zoo that *I think* only has animals native to Australia (really good) and an ex whaling station that's now a museum. Albany used to be a whaling hot spot (think Moby Dick) and the old building is now used to explain the town's bloody history to people as well as educate people on whale conservation. What I thought was going to be a boring afternoon turned out to be gruesomely fascinating (although not really suitable for kids) and both Jody and I really enjoyed it. There's loads of old machinery on display, whale skeletons and educational videos and it's worth taking a trip to.

*This one's actually in Albany (52 mins away according to google maps) but when you go on the Denmark tourist website this on there so nerr.

walk among trees
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

Valley of the Giants is basically a big old walkway set up in a forest of red tingle trees. It's nice and high up so if you're scared of heights maybe give it a miss - It's a bit wobbly especially in the wind. Aswell as the high up walk there's a ground level walk which will take you through the ginormous bases of the trees - some are so big they can accommodate cars. The tree top walk didn't really impress me (it was cold) but I did enjoy the other walk - Nature's amazing. A lot of Perth natives told us NOT TO MISS valley of the giants so it must be good right?

elephant rocks

Williams Bay National Park

Perhaps the most beautiful part of Denmark, Williams Bay National Park is home to the Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool. The rocks look like elephants (duh) and the water is a beautiful shade of blue. Even on a grey, overcast day the pool is a gorgeous colour, as you can see above. In the park there is also Greens Pool which in Summer would be a perfect place for swimming and snorkelling. It was windy and cold when we went but somehow it didn't really matter because it was still a lovely place to stop at - Except for when we nearly got trapped on the beach by incoming tides, that sucked.

So there you have it - Have any of you guys made it over to the South West region of Australia yet?


Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Sunday Catch up #9

I didn't take any decent pictures this week for some reason (honestly I probs couldn't be arsed) so here's some jazzy wallpaper I found in a pub toilet. This week's been alright - Nout to report really and I haven't really churned out any posts either. I've brainstormed a few this weekend that I think are good 'uns though so looking forward to sharing them in the upcoming week!

If you read my post on Thursday you will see that I'm not hopping on a plane this year (at this moment in time anyways) BUT I have made it my mission to see as much as the UK as possible. We went to Lake Windermere yesterday (despite it pissing down) and even though it was a grim day we had a nice mooch about and a good old pub lunch. Again, no photos, the rain didn't exactly make a good backdrop.

In keeping with the seeing all of the UK theme, we've decided to go to Scotland next weekend! It's Jody's 27th on Thursday so we decided last minute that we're going to load up the car and head to Fort William. We're planning on going kayaking (please pray to the weather Gods for us) and getting a ski lift up to the summit of Ben Nevis - I think it's still a bit to snowy and dangerous to get up to the top on foot!

In Tv news, it's official, I'm addicted to Sons of Anarchy. I tried watching Series one before I went to Oz and thought it was rubbish but last week Jody watched it again and told me I HAD TO get on board. I dipped in and out but around S2:E3 I started to get fully invested in it - Now I can't stop watching it. Thank you Netflix.

And that's all from this week! Hope everyone's had a wicked good week!

This week's posts:
On Staying Still