All the world’s a theme park

Urban explorer

My favourite weekend activity is to go for a long walk through the city, admiring Amsterdam’s beautiful architecture, looking in shop windows and, best of all, walking down new streets I’ve never walked down before.

In fact, this kind of wandering is my favourite activity to do anywhere. I’ve travelled a fair bit now, though I’d hesitate to call myself a seasoned traveller, but I’ve travelled enough that I’ve come to feel wary of the things you’re supposed to do when you visit a place.

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On writing nostalgically and being in place

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Manchester Oxford Rd train station (because apparently this is the only picture of Manchester I've taken)

Manchester Oxford Rd train station (because apparently this is the only picture of Manchester I’ve taken)

Two weeks ago I spent a few days back in the UK. I thought I’d probably end up writing a blog post about it, because I expected it to be a noteworthy experience. In a lot of ways it was, but not in the ways I expected it to be. I had expected to feel as though I was back in the UK, to feel a sense of having returned. I expected reverse culture shock.

I did notice a few differences. Oddly, one thing that really stood out to me is that people in the UK look, well, kind of miserable. Though perhaps that’s not so odd considering that Dutch children are the happiest in the world (UK children rank 16th), whilst the Netherlands was ranked 4th in the 2013 UN World Happiness Report. But on the whole, I didn’t really feel a sense of being back in the UK.Read More »On writing nostalgically and being in place

A Sense of Place: trains and train stations

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2014-04-03 18.47.24x

I recently started a new job in Tilburg (yay!), which means I’ll be spending a lot more time on trains. So, it’s a good job I like train travel. In fact, I like most forms of public transport, even buses and especially trams. I know I’m not supposed to. I know I’m supposed to complain endlessly about how cramped, smelly, dirty, expensive, slow etc. they are. I agree, public transport can be expensive. In fact, in my second year of sixth form, I stopped using Stagecoach buses in protest against the constant price hikes, and walked the hour and fifteen minutes there instead (I like long walks too). Public transport can also be very filthy at times – I’m looking at you, East Midlands train service between Manchester and Nottingham. And slow. I’ll admit even I got bored after eight hours on the train going from Cornwall to Manchester.Read More »A Sense of Place: trains and train stations

Being ‘here’ instead of ‘there’

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1498742_10201490149035710_1237995288_oI frequently find myself saying ‘here’ when I really mean ‘there’. As in, ‘That’s not unusual here’ or ‘We like to eat Marmite over here’. And I realised that this is the first time in my life that my ‘here’ is not the UK. I’ve visited other countries, but I’ve never lived anywhere outside of Britain and it’s taking some getting used to.Read More »Being ‘here’ instead of ‘there’

From Plymouth to Penryn via Google Maps

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Google map

I wrote this piece for my MA in Writing, Nature and Place. It was originally published in Peninsula Magazine.

The journey from Plymouth to Penryn begins at my kitchen table. I set up my laptop, make myself a cup of tea and type Plymouth into the search bar of Google maps. I’m dropped down into the middle of the Royal Parade. I do a 360° turn, it looks to be a thoroughfare with shops on one side and a church on the other. Google Street View works by showing a yellow line along the road you are on. Arrows pointing backward and forward allow you to select the previous or next image, enabling you to “travel” along the road. I click on the arrow pointing east and set off under a grey and overcast sky. I reach a roundabout and try to navigate my way round it. It’s disorientating and I have to stop and check I haven’t missed my exit. I’m beginning to realise this journey is going to be a long and arduous process.Read More »From Plymouth to Penryn via Google Maps

Goodbye 2011

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Me pointing from the highest point on the Gothenburg archipelago

Me pointing from the highest point on the Gothenburg archipelago

I’ve been reading Caught by the River a lot at the moment and I was quite taken with their Shadows & Reflections posts – brief reviews of the past year by various people – and decided it would be a good idea to do a similar thing on my own blog.

All in all I’d say 2011 was a good year. It was a year of travels and new places. On 1st January I was in a quiet corner of Maine and enjoyed more snow than I have probably ever seen before. I had the chance to go sledging with real sledges (as opposed to tea trays), but didn’t build any snow men. As if one trip to the US wasn’t enough I also had the chance to go over again later on in the year. On my second trip I saw Baltimore and Washington D.C. The White House was smaller than I expected, but the Lincoln Memorial was bigger.Read More »Goodbye 2011