Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A day in the life of someone else

Sometimes it’s nice to step into someone else’s world. Often it’s nice because it’s a good way to escape and experience something different to your everyday life, to get inspired to make changes to your own routine and to make you think beyond the daily routine that you’re often stuck in. Sometimes, though, it’s nice because it makes you realise that actually your life ain’t that bad and that it suits you just fine.

Like tonight, for example. I went to a Harpers Bazaar’s promotional night for Swarovski. I don’t often get the chance to go to these glitzy soirees so I rearranged a few things and seized the opportunity. The deal was sweetened rather by the promise of free drinks and canapés and a goody bag to take home with me (which contained some very useful things, surprisingly).

I have often thought that I would like to get in to the uber- glamorous world of fashion. I like clothes and make-up. I keep up-to-date with the latest style and I definitely love shopping. What’s not to like about a career in the fashion industry?

The main reason, I discovered, is that you have to sacrifice eating apparently. Now I’m not the sort of person who has ever thought of themselves as fat. Of course there are parts of my body that I’m not happy with and I have upped my exercise regime in an effort to get bikini ready in three months’ time, but other than that I’m ok with my size, I’m a healthy size 10 (8-10 on a good day, nearer 12 on a really bad day). Rocking up at this evening drinks reception, however, I felt positively obese.  I should have twigged when the canapés were not very forthcoming that this was not a crowd that like to eat. Once the initial small plate of olives, four cheese sticks and about 6 mouthful sizes of chocolate brownie were were inhaled between four of us, we realised there wasn’t anything else coming out. Thank god for champagne.

We were then treated to a fashion show of Swarovski and Banana Republic’s summer collections. And they were delightful. As Harper’s Retail Editor pointed out, the jewellery did look much better on the models than it did in the display cabinets. There were even a few items I would consider buying. And I’ve noted the key items to add to my summer look (cropped trousers, lemon yellow and a tan- I think I’ll struggle with the latter).

The models however made me feel quite uncomfortable. One of them was actually anorexic. Her rib cage actually protruded further than her breasts and her arms looked like they could snap in two. More canapés would have been useful at this point as it actually made me want to eat. The other two models, who under normal circumstances would be considered too skinny, looked rather healthy in comparison.
This got me thinking; did this model think she looked healthy and attractive? Or was she just stuck in a vicious cycle that was fuelled by the ever image-conscious industry she worked in? Was she happy with the way she looked? Or was she actually looking at us and our rolls of podge in envy?

Asking around, everyone agreed that she was far too thin and people did feel uncomfortable about having to admire the size of this girl as she modelled for us. If so many women think like this, then why is this size zero image constantly burned into our minds and psyche as the way we should look? Surely we should be as repulsed by this image in magazines and on tv as we are in real life. After my experience tonight, I definitely think there should be more images of ‘normal’ sized women in magazines. If for no other reason than to give a realistic impression of how fashion will look on a real woman.

Having said all that, I did pick up some great fashion advice from the night and I would not turn down another evening rubbing shoulders with the well dressed . Top tip of the: pendants on long chains help cut the body and give the impression of being slim. You can guess what my next purchase will be…

Thursday, 22 September 2011

'Catch 22'

Looking back at my blog entry around this time last year, it horrifies me slightly to see that not much has changed! I am still baking and knitting (just new location: London, and new project: teacosy!) and desperately hoping that this information might somehow find its way to Kirstie Allsopp or her producers. Granted, a lot has happened in the past year, not least the fact that I have quite literally travelled around the world- an experience I do not regret one bit, but I can’t help thinking that I am no further ahead in life than I was a year ago. I of course now have the gift (or curse, depending on how you look at it) of hindsight, and there are probably a few things I would have done differently had I known what I do now. (I will warn you now, this is probably not going to end up being my most positive entry to date, but if you can’t moan in your own blog, then where can you?!)

So I have moved to the Big Smoke, more commonly known as London, in the hope of seeking my fortune- a modern day Dick Whittington if you like. For the last three weeks I have dedicated myself fully to the task of finding a job. On a positive note, I have now managed to narrow my job search down from anything to two areas. As I have explained in previous blogs, I have always had a passion for music and so as a result I have been looking and applying for jobs in this area- mainly administrative with music and arts organizations and orchestras. The other area that has recently grabbed my attention is Conference Production (exactly what is says on the label). This area in particular excites my inner geek- being able to research and produce my very own event from scratch? Great! It will probably involve an element of international travel. Perfect!

Now, as I mentioned, I have applied for several jobs in these areas and so far have received mainly rejections, and the odd ‘no reply’, and most of the reasons for ‘not taking my application further’ have been related to my lack of experience. Fair enough for the Conference Producer roles- that is perfectly true and it is a very specialist area, which involves a great deal of responsibility on the part of the producer, and trust on the part of the company. But for the administrative roles, not only do I have experience (ok, possibly not as much as other candidates) but also, as a job it’s hardly rocket science! Sorry to belittle anyone who works in this area, but what I mean by this is that the skills required are ones that can quickly be picked up by most people with a degree. The other issue I have with this reason is that it puts in me in a ‘Catch-22’ situation: I’m not getting the jobs because I have no experience, but until some takes a chance on me and gives me a job, I will never have the necessary experience!

I think this just demonstrates how high the competition for jobs is these days. When I chose to study History at UCL, I did so because I thought that it would give me a good head start when it came to looking for a job- a solid degree with transferable skills from one of the best universities in the world. The problem is these days that having a degree isn’t that unusual anymore, and in fact what makes people stand out, especially in the areas I am looking for, is actual work experience in a business environment. This is the one piece of information I really wish I’d known a year ago. Everything you do in your year out has to be carefully considered if you want to make finding a job at the end of it easier. As I said, I do not regret for one minute going travelling, and I think that was the most positive and beneficial thing I did on my year out, as it improves confidence, teaches independence and communication and shows that there is more to you than just your degree. However, I wish that I spent a bit more time thinking about what sort of career I wanted to get into once I got back from my travels, rather than putting it off. If I had, I might have considered taking on a temporary job that would not only have funded my travels, but also given me the all important business experience. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed working at Hoopers and Rural Insurance and I met some great people and made some great friends. I also did learn some valuable skills, but compared to some of the people I am up against in interviews, and what these companies are looking for it’s just not enough.

Having said all that, I am a great believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’, and had I done things differently a year ago, it possibly would have changed a lot of things. I might have chosen not to go travelling, instead choosing to carry on working, and of course, I would not have made half the friends I did, or had any of the experiences I did, so it that respect, I have no regrets. Also, my career ideas have changed over the last year, so even if I had thought about it more, it might not have helped much anyway. For now though, I am just plodding on and hoping that eventually someone will see my potential and give me a chance.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

‘You are what you tweet’ (Alex Tew)

I’m getting into social media. Not because I want to, but because I feel I should. It’s the way the world is going- the 10 o’clock news, and newspapers now provide old news, thanks to the instant reporting on social media sites. The riots throughout England that were all over the news this week were mostly coordinated through social media and networking sites. Although on the one hand it’s great that it can be used to unite people over a common cause it is, however, terrifying that it can facilitate acts of mass violence. And the speed in which this can happen is even more terrifying. Despite this, social media does have less negative uses, such as being a place for people to raise awareness of charitable causes etc. It is also becoming more and more important to businesses for recruitment, especially in the media sector, which is the area I want to get into. So for the sake of my own future, I feel like I have to get involved, or else get left behind.

To be honest I’m a bit scared of it all and I don’t agree with the idea that everything one does has to be reported and therefore is free to become public fodder. Twitter, especially provides this sort of platform. I can understand, to some extent, why celebrities and companies use it, as it is a great way to advertise a brand and reach out to millions of people. For celebrities, it allows for their own views to be published, and not be skewed by the mass media of tabloids and gossip columns. I am aware, though, that this can still get them into trouble, as it is a place for people to state their uncensored views and opinions, which aren’t always in line with the status quo. But for the ordinary Joe Blog on the street, I really don’t understand who could find what they had for breakfast or what a ‘mad night out’ they had interesting, which is why I tweet reluctantly and with the realisation that not many people will care what I have to say.

The other thing I can’t get my head around, is the fact that Twitter allows you to communicate one on one with celebrities. With Twitter, unlike Facebook, you don’t have to be friends with or ‘follow’ people to engage with them. You simply write to them. And they can write back. And although I can see that some people would argue that this is no different to sending a fan letter, I argue that it is massively different. For starters, the whole world can see what you write, unlike a private letter, and also, with Twitter only allowing snap statements due to their character limit on Tweets, people are more likely to reply as it takes less effort. I also think the way people view social media is different to any form of media that has come before. Because the general public are getting more involved in making news and shaping the way people communicate, they expect more, and feel that they are no different to celebrities and politicians, for example: it is breaking down the barriers between celebrity and human. I know this can be seen as a good thing and call me old fashioned, but I quite liked it when celebrities were untouchable. It made them more interesting, but now that you are able to know everything about them through the likes of Twitter, you realise that actually they aren’t always as interesting as were once made out to be.

I realise that I sound rather hypocritical as I myself am taking advantage of social media in attempt to advance my position, but I do so reluctantly. It still unnerves me that anybody in the world could access this blog if they so desired, (although I admit not many people do, and not many people would bother to look for it) and I do feel a bit awkward about talking about myself and my views. But as I said, I feel like I have to try and make some mark in order to get noticed at a time when there is such high competition for jobs. There are some aspects of social media which I like. I don’t have a problem with Facebook, which in my opinion is the original and best form of social media. I love the fact that it is almost like an online diary: somewhere to sort out your social life, store your photographs and a great way to keep in touch with old friends. All this with the comfort of knowing that only people you want to get involved can (dependent on your privacy settings, of course, which is a constant concern of my mother, even though she has no idea how ‘the internet’ works). All in all though, social media is an unstoppable force, so for now I think I’ll try and embrace it.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Carpe Diem!

I realise my last post was rather negative, but in the last week my outlook has seen a turnaround. I am becoming what my friend Hannah calls a ‘yes person’. Something as simple as saying ‘yes’ more often is definitely making me feel more positive about life, as after all if you open yourself up to possibilities, more opportunities come you way. This was demonstrated this weekend, and as a result reinforced the benefits of ‘carpe diem’-ing, that is, seizing the day.

The weather this summer has been typically British: wet and grey, so I was not going to miss the opportunity of catching some rays this weekend, which could potentially be the only sun we get for the rest of the summer. After a failed attempt at a croquet party at my house (an extremely underrated sport in my opinion) I very willingly accepted an invitation to a barbecue at Hannah’s house in Leeds. Normally I am reluctant to travel to Leeds as it means getting a bus. It’s not a very long journey, but the sorts of people who get on the bus to Leeds, without meaning to be rude, aren’t the most normal people in the world. But this time I decided to say yes, without hesitation, and it turned out to be one of the most fun weekend’s I’ve had in a long time, and in a way gave me back the focus I needed. So armed with scones and a bottle of Pimms I braved the journey.

My Saturday afternoon was spent just sitting in a garden with a couple of friends, a barbecue and a jug of lovely Pimms…the very definition of Summer. Sometimes there’s nothing better than sitting doing nothing with friends. There had been talk of going out later on, which I was initially unsure about, but as saying yes to the Leeds barbecue plan had turned out so wonderfully, I decided to risk it and say ‘yes’ again. We were meeting up with some of Hannah’s friends from university, people I had never met before, which provided the opportunity to make some new friends of my own. Since returning from travelling, making friends has become one of my favourite past times. I enjoy striking up conversation with strangers, as often you meet some really interesting people. In fairness, they’ll probably never be life long friends, and in fact, you’ll probably never see most of them again, but you never know… Anyway, we danced the evening away at Hi-Fi, to some soul, motown and rock and roll classics before hitting McDonalds (which I definitely regretted when I weighed myself this morning) and then home, well, Ashley’s spare room.

I had fully intended to go home the next morning, however Hannah rang to inform me that she had a spare ticket to Party in the Park, ‘Britain’s largest free pop party’ apparently. Again, my usual self would have probably said no, but hell, I was on a roll. YES. And it was great. The line up included Tinchy Strider, Jay Sean, Example, Pixie Lott, Olly Murs, The Wanted and JLS, among others. Example and Olly Murs were surprising highlights in my opinion, and of course JLS were pretty amazing. For most of the afternoon I felt very old, the average age of the people that surrounded us was probably about 15, but when JLS arrived on stage, I’m ashamed to admit that I did regress to being an over excited teenager again.

The issues I have been having recently with regards to job hunting and my life in general, are because I have been unable to choose one career to focus on. This weekend, however, made me realise that I my original career choice of radio production or something music related is definitely the way forward. It is something I can see myself being good at and really loving, which is an added bonus. Its obviously a very competitive choice so I will have my work hard, but hopefully with my new ‘yes’ mentality, I’ll make it.

My final YES of the weekend was to Chinese and pub quiz. I am embarrassed to say that despite three university degrees between us, we could only manage 16 out of 38 and failed miserably to make the required paper aeroplane. Shameful, but a lot of fun. I am definitely looking forward to saying yes more.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Back to life, back to reality.

Now that I have returned home from my little trip round the world, I am sadly faced with the harsh reality that is life. I desperately need to find a job. More than just a job, I need to start my career, which is hard as I have absolutely no idea what I want to do anymore. Before I went travelling, I felt like I knew what I was going to do on my return…I had a plan. I was going to pursue a career in the media, specifically radio, or in the music industry, and I still would like to do that. It’s just that there are so many other things I want to do and to achieve before I settle down in a career. It doesn’t help that I have two very successful older sisters to live up to. With the fear of being the disappointment of the family, I am starting to feel the pressure mounting.

Taking three months to go travelling around the world was supposed to give me some perspective and help me decide what I wanted to do with my life. It was also supposed to get the whole travelling thing out of my system so that I would be ready to focus all my energies into my career when I got home. Three months, though, was sadly not long enough to satisfy my need for adventure, instead it was just long enough to whet my appetite for more. There are so many more places I want to visit- South East Asia, South America, Europe! And I know I would love to live in another country or two in my life. One of my biggest regrets in life is not studying French at A-Level, as I really wish I was fluent in a different language. This was highlighted during my travels, by the number of people I met who could speak more than one language, so at some point I would love to live in a non-English speaking country. If I could find a job that would allow me to travel, therefore, that would be the perfect situation so on that note I considered, for a while, pursuing a career in journalism, or more specifically, travel journalism. I can write and I like to travel… what more do you need? Apparently it’s not that easy though. In order to get into the industry, you need to have had writing published which means freelancing. Not the most lucrative business, especially when you’re just starting out. And it’s also quite a bizarre notion that you can start your career whilst sitting in your bed in your pyjamas, one that I am still trying to get my head around.

I have also been applying for jobs online. I have sent many a CV and cover letter out in the last few weeks however for most of the applications I have not even had a reply, let alone an interview! At the beginning of my online job hunt, I began by only applying for jobs in journalism and at various travel publications. A friend from university had suggested this as the key to success as applying for fewer jobs means you can really focus your application on the specific job, rather than just sending in a generic application that will probably just get overlooked. This is a good idea in theory, but when companies give you an application form to fill out that makes it hard to sell yourself if you haven’t already established your career in journalism, it is easy to get disheartened. And then very desperate. I am now applying for jobs left right and centre: anything that takes my fancy which means I am now even more confused as to what I want to do. Each day I set my sights on a different career…journalism, music producer, PA, events manager. I know I need to decide on one career and follow it, but I’m scared I’ll choose the wrong one.

Another problem I seem to be having is with my degree. I chose to study History at university because when I was 18 I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (as you can see, nothing has changed) so I thought doing an open degree such as History, which has no set career option, would open more doors to me, and hopefully one that would lead to my perfect job. However, since applying for jobs in areas that I am interested in, namely media and the arts, no employer seems to want a History degree. Maybe I need to get some more qualifications? A masters? In all honesty though, I’d rather not go back to university, mainly because I can’t afford it, but also, because I feel my days as a student are over, for the time being anyway.

So you see, with so many choices I really only have one option, and that is to wing it. After the last few weeks of desperate job applications and tearful conversations with friends over several bottles of wine, about how I’m obviously a jobless failure, I have come to the realisation that I am just going to have to go with the flow. Obviously, I will keep applying for jobs, but as soon as I scrape enough money together I think I’ll head for the Big Smoke and see what happens. Life is an adventure after all.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Land of the Free and the Home of MacDonalds

I realise this is a bit late in coming as I have been back in England for almost three weeks now, but I thought I should probably fill you all in on my thoughts and experiences of the Land of the Free, that is the USA.

I landed in LA and immediately had to come to terms with the massive difference in lifestyle compared to Fiji. Coming from a place where the people are so laid back, they’re practically lying down, LA was a definite shock to the system. Everything in America is so full on and over the top, that just walking around and soaking in the atmosphere is exhausting. A lot of this, I think, can be linked to the concept of the ‘American Dream’; the idea that everybody can make something of themselves as long as they have passion and are prepared to work hard. This lends itself to a plucky, ‘can do’ attitude and a lot of very enthusiastic people, which at times can be a bit sickening. America is also a strongly capitalist country, and even the merest whiff of Socialism causes people to go running for the (Hollywood) hills, as has been demonstrated by Obama’s recent attempt to introduce an NHS style health care system to the States. As a result there is a massive gap between rich and poor, noticeably more so than in the UK, and nowhere is this more apparent than in LA. I stayed in Hollywood, just off Hollywood Boulevard, and my hopes of glitz and glamour were quickly dashed as it is very disappointingly underwhelming. The area itself is quite rough, very dirty and not the sort of place you would expect to find A-list celebrities hanging out at glamorous premieres. I was also warned by many of the people staying in my hostel not to go out on my own at night, and even in the day to be careful. This immediately put me on my guard and made me incredibly wary of anyone wearing a hoodie (in Hollywood, that seemed to be every second person) and any cars driving past with tinted windows (again, more common than you’d think). I think this was probably slightly over the top, but the general vibe I got from LA was quite threatening. I decided therefore to head for Beverly Hills and Santa Monica instead- much more civilised, definitely my cup of tea, and immediately you notice that this is where the wealthy people live. Sadly, Beverly Hills was disappointingly average. Again, not the glitz and glamour you are brought to believe. I found this quite a lot with California in general- everything is so over the top that one’s expectations for things are so built up. The reality, however, is usually quite underwhelming. Santa Monica, on the other hand was much nicer- warmer with a good beach and great shopping.

After two nights in LA, I definitely felt it was time to move on and so I decided a trip down south, to the warmer climes of San Diego was in order. I took the train, which was altogether a much more enjoyable experience than train journeys back home. Like an airport, you deposit your suitcase at the station and then collect it again once you reach your destination. There is none of this racing to find a space on the luggage racks at the end of the carriage, or battling to squeeze your bag into the overhead compartments, where it obviously won’t fit. It’s also a lovely way to see a bit more of the country. Arriving in San Diego, my first feeling was one of relief. It was immediately better than LA- it was cleaner, the people were friendlier and the weather was much better. I can only describe San Diego as a really nice city, ‘nice’ being the operative word. It felt very wholesome and quaint America. Whilst there I went to a farmers market in one of the suburbs, and it was your typical American family day out, right down to the live country band playing. I also visited Old Town San Diego which, again, was a typically American experience. Instead of allowing it to be an old colonial Spanish town, it has been turned into what I can only describe as a Disney attraction, without the rides. People were dressed in nineteenth century outfits and every building had been turned into a museum: you could visit ye olde post office, ye olde cobblers, or ye olde Tibetan souvenir shoppe….everything just felt very fake, which is a shame because it probably could have been a beautiful old town. I found much of California like this: whereas a country like Australia, which also has very little history, focuses on the attractions they do have (namely beautiful beaches, and great weather), America seems to take the little bit of history they do have a really ram it down people’s throats in an incredibly unsubtle way. It definitely made me appreciate the history of our own country.

My final stop in America was San Francisco. This was definitely my favourite place in California- it was nicer and less scary than LA, yet was edgier than San Diego and had some of the quirkiness of a European city. I did a lot of walking which was hard work as there are a hell of a lot of hills! In fairness, the hills dictated my route around the city…I took any route that didn’t involve climbing up them! On one of my days in San Fran I visited Haight, famous for being a hippy hang out in the 1960’s, where the likes of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin (don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of them either) lived. Haight is best described as a cleaner, quieter Camden with great little boutiques, lots of bookshops and quaint little cafes to sit and while away the day. It also leads into Golden Gate Park. This is home to the majority of the city’s museums, but it’s also a lovely place to just sit. Although in the middle of this busy city, it is surprisingly quiet and peaceful. I was only able to spend a couple of days in San Francisco, but of the three places I visited in California, it was definitely my favourite. I also met some great people here, none of them American.

I am aware that my view of America, does not seem overly positive, but actually looking back on my ten days in the states, I did have a really good time, and I definitely have some fond memories of it. This is mainly because of the people I met. It wouldn’t be fair to say I disliked California, I just feel no desire to return: I feel like I have seen as much of it as I need to. Maybe this is very narrow-minded of me, and I am open to being convinced otherwise. I would like to visit other parts of the US though, especially the Deep South, just to see how they compare. Maybe then I’ll be converted to the American way…

Monday, 20 June 2011

'Excuse me sir, do you have the time?'...'Its FIJI TIME'

I am currently recovering from a week in Fiji. Recovering from a week of doing more or less nothing apart from a bit of snorkelling and a lot of sunbathing. Its pretty exhausting doing nothing! Having said that it was an amazing week and I met some really great people. Fijians are so friendly: you can't walk down a street without at least ten people shouting 'Bula!' at you. ( This is their equivalent of 'g'day mate!'). They are so helpful as well, and lucky for me there were lots of lovely gentlemen on hand to carry my suitcase wherever it needed to go. Pure bliss!

To make the most of my week in Fiji, I decided to do a spot of island hopping. Fiji has three hundred and twenty two islands in total, most of them uninhabited and a lot of them are teeny tiny. They are nearly all, however, the picture of a paradise island with white beaches, clear blue waters and lucious green vegetation. Heaven. The first island I visited was Coral View. This was up in the Yasawas, the furthest group of islands and approximately a five hour boat trip from the main island. When we arrived we received a traditional Fijian welcome which involved singing and a lot of shaking of hands! I soon discovered that Fijians absolutely love to sing, especially at Coral View. They literally sing about everything. Lunch, dinner, hello, goodbye: you name it, they have a song for it! The vibe here was very laid back, and all the staff were so friendly that after the two days were up, I was almost reluctant to leave, and in fact some of the people I arrived with decided to stay longer. In one guys opinion, deciding to stay on the island was like having a girlfriend: you know there's probably someone better out there, but you decide to stick with the one you've got. (Needless to say, he didn't have a girlfriend!). I decided to tear myself away in the hope of finding something even better in the shape of Korovou resort.

At Korovou I sadly did not get the same melodic welcome as at Coral View, however that was because I arrived on a Sunday and nothing happens on Sunday apart from going to church. It is God's day. They more than made up for the lack of entertainment on the second night though, where we were treated to a fire dancing show. It was all very exciting: topless men dancing with fire in little grass skirts. At one point they even set the floor on fire. Literally! I have to say that I was very impressed with the dancing skills of the Fijian men. Its a shame that British men aren't the same. Unless, of course, they've got a few pints down them! After the fire dancing there was a bit of audience participation (as there was at all the resorts, in fact). We all had to get up and do the Bula dance. This is basically the Fijian Macarena. Same moves, the only addition is that you have to shout 'Bula!' as you jump round, hence the name 'The Bula Dance'. At this point I did feel like I had been transported to a British holiday camp along the lines of Butlins. But everyone got involved and there was always the chance of winning a few free drinks.

The final island I stayed on was South Sea Island. This really was a tiny island. It looked as if it could get washed away at even the hint of a slightly bigger wave than usual. You could actually walk around it in two minutes and, according to one of the girls I met, hop around it in three and a half. What it lacked in size was made up for in hospitality though. Again, the staff were so friendly. We had a candlelit dinner on the beach followed by crab racing (highly competative and taken extremely seriously) and, of course, Bula dancing. Later on we all chilled out round a campfire, sang songs and drank lots of kava. Kava is the Fijian drink of choice. It is not alcoholic, as many of the islands are actually dry, so alcohol is forbidden, but it is a narcotic so will have some effect. It mainly makes your tongue go numb and gives you very strange dreams apparently. It is made from the root of a plant mixed with water and unfortunately it just tastes like muddy water. Not very pleasant.

On my last day in Fiji I went on a day sailing trip around the magical Mamanuca islands. I was lucky enough to do this trip for free as I had bumped into a couple earlier in the week who had paid for it, but were unable to do it on the day as they wouldn't have time. I did have to make a few changes to the ticket though, which involved a nerve wracking experience of me having to pretend to be someone else. As many of you know, my acting skills are not great and I was sure I was going to get caught and thrown overboard. Luckily it all ended well. This sailing trip was amazing. Not only was there unlimited free food and drink (I definitely made the most of the free cake!), but we also got to visit the island where 'Castaway' was filmed, visit a real life Fijian village (yes, it was as patronising as it sounds) and take part in a kava ceremony, which was a pretty big honour apparently. All in all, not a bad days sailing!

Life in Fiji, especially on the islands, is very different to the way of life I and most of the other people I was travelling with are used to. None of the islands had hot water, so it was cold showers for the week, and on Korovou, there was no electricity, apart from between six and eleven at night. This meant no phone signal or internet access and therefore no Facebook! It was actually quite nice. There was no point worrying about trying to get in contact with someone, because you literally couldn't. Instead you could just spend your time enjoying the simpler things in life. Such as sunsets. By god, I saw a lot of sunsets. In fact I think the majority of my Fiji photo album will be of sunsets! They were very pretty though. We also got to enjoy having time to do absolutely nothing. In Fiji, people run by Fiji time. This tends to be at least half an hour later than any of the clocks on the island. In fact, there aren't many clocks on the island. Although we all used to joke about Fiji time, it was a fully accepted method of time keeping amongst the locals. I once asked one of the locals what time it was, so I could work out how long I had to have a shower before the sun went down and we were plunged into darkness. He simply answered, 'it's Fiji time', as if that was a perfectly reasonable answer. It was very easy to get used to though, and by the end of the week my body clock was definitely set to Fiji time. It nade arriving in busy LA a bit of a shock, and definitely prolonged my jet lag I think! I'm getting over it now though and am enjoying the last stretch of my round the world adventure...