Righto. Blog post.

I have been receiving a few emails and messages along the line of, “WHERE HAVE YOU GONE!!” (caps included); mate, I admit I have been toying with the idea of saying I was in a state of intensive introspection and was wanting to only have a yarn again when I felt I could do it soundness and strength.

The truth? My replacement lappy crapped out and the docu on my desktop I had been adding to fervently for a fortnight died a death along with the old Acer. The despondency at losing the notes had me lacking in zeal to get tiptapping on the keyboard (most unlike me), as well as the fact that I have not been feeling overly tip top. But the gusto has gained strength and I’m back in a big way. (With a long list of subjects to have a yarn on continuously being added to).

I must forewarn that that the following sometimes (ok, often) has me sounding like a complete tossery bell end, but make like a sausage in pastry and roll with it, ok?

To the conclusion of the European Escapading Explorations.

The elusive “they” say that travelling enables you to find yourself. I think this is not quite wrong, but perhaps erroneously termed. “Finding” suggests locating something that you did not have on you before. Discovering an aspect that wasn’t there initially.


Mate, travelling just kindles bits of you that were always there, but were lying dormant. It allows you to capture – or recapture, should you have lost it like I had – the essence of who you are. I don’t think you suddenly “change” or “transform”; those bits that suddenly seem to appear have actually just arisen from a place where they had been hibernating.

All that “travelling makes you richer” stuff is indeed true; you get loaded in the sense of cultural awareness and understanding should you let yourself be open to it. But sometimes it also gets you in the know of a self-wealth that you may actually feel uncomfortable having in your me-wallet or myself-bank balance – often realisations of the self are made that aren’t quite so chuff-inducing or pride bolstering. I know this trip stirred up a whole bowl of bits and pieces about myself that I am not quite so delighted to concede. But good in some respects; now I have identified them, I can work on shifting away from them. (We shall come to these in due course).

So here we are. Home.

I have to say, the initial glee at cavorting through customs and seeing the old fam and friends subsided somewhat (ok, significantly) after the first few days. Launching straight back into work a mere 48 hours after skipping off the plane (with intensely swollen ankles after the longest flight in the world) (and I mean that quite literally; the Dubai to Auckland jaunt is the most elongated stretch in the one-go air that there is) meant that “reality” sunk in pretty damn quick. The canals and camels and colosseums felt a world away (well, they actually are in actuality) and I sunk into a pretty gloomy slump by day four on the homefront. I mean, right back where I was before (that being borrowing – ok, claiming as my own – the old mother Deb’s Rav, taking up habitat in the teenage bedroom and once again doing the whole Onyx boomerang stes), a credit card to pay off and the platitudinise of the daily doings becoming routine – anyone would feel a tad set in the scrapheap, would they not?

And almost six weeks on, it’s like I never went away.

But I did and here are the conclusions (briefly, I promise).

So the “word” for each city slash country I went to. Paris was Enchanting. London was Charming. Ireland was Intoxicating – both in the magic of the ever present pint, as well as the enthralling stimulation of the place. Amsterdam was Intriguing on first visit, then Overly Amped Up on take two. Berlin was Reflective, Prague a Fairy Tale, Vienna Adorned and Adored, Slovenia Successful. Poland was the three P’s; Pride, Perseverance and Persistence, while Budapest was Breathing and Leaving Me Breathless. Venice was Lovely Though Interlaced with Sassy ‘Tude, Rome a Treasure Trove, Vatican City Holy (very, very creative there) (me I mean, not the VC itself), Florence Teeming with Temptation, Cinque Terre Coasting, Milan Cool, Genova a Bustling Beehive, and Italy was a whole was most definitely Eataly. Switzerland was a Postcard, Barcelona Beautiful, Dubai and Abu Dhabi a Casserole and Intricately Futuristic, and Holland was most definitely HOME.

So how does this all factor in to my tip top travel tick offs? Well, I’m leaving Holland out of the rating. My love for the place combined with how at home I felt there renders it excused from placement in my list of favourite places. India has been bumped from its second spot, but Nepal is still taking out the pinnacle. (I’m leaving out the whole SEA countries I have cavorted about as being my first wee backpacking bustle, I feel I did not “do” them in quite the right way). We have:

  1. Nepal as a whole
  2. Barcelona and Dublin
  3. London, all of India (well, that that I’ve been to)
  4. Budapest, Rome
  5. Paris, Switzerland

The EEE made me realise I far prefer the more third world and developing countries. This travel take off felt far more decadent, more tick-the-list, see-the-Eiffel-Tower-and-the-Leaning-Tower-and-the-Chain-Bridge. It was amazing, don’t get me wrong; incredibly wow-ing and once in a lifetime (though I shall make a fair few repeats) and thrilling. But standing astride the Champs Elysees just didn’t hold that same reward, that same sense of self pride as nailing the scorpion, swimming in the filthy Ganges or that reaching EBC did.

I’ve realised I’m most definitely an adventure traveller. A challenge traveller. Yes, seeing the sites makes me ecstatic as well, but it must be interwoven with a cavort up a mountain or some sort of adrenaline administer. I like to push myself, achieve things as I globe go – not just see the scenery.

It’s rather chucklesome in some regards; often people tell me I’m really brave or that I’m so capable and “good” at travelling about, especially as for the most part I do it on my own. But do you know what the truth is? There’s a mass portion of dumbness in me that enables me to come across this way. People point out disastrous things that could occur or worries that they would have should they be in my size 9s and I sort of shrug, but inside I’m thinking, Fuck mate! I never even thought of that. I think that the truckload of naivety that boards the plane with me every time I venture on is a blessing in such a light; if I had a whole lot of common sense and insight, I probably would be frazzled and frenzied on a simple weekend away down South. But I can say with pretty much whole hearted surety – I’m pretty bloody fearless (although that may be very naïve).

This trip had one major aspect of it that introduced me to a side of myself that although I knew was there to a degree, I wasn’t aware of how much significance I placed on it. The part of me that places an importance on family.

Being in Holland with the whole Wortman side of the kin was one of the greatest experiences I have ever, well, experienced. Spending time with the eons of cousins, getting to see one of the areas I stem from, hanging out with Opa’s brother Frans and sister Will… it was so precious, so special, and I came away with memories I will recall to the most intricate of details for the rest of my life. My time with Will holds an even greater magnitude now; the day after I left Will took a turn for the worst and went downhill fast, passing away about a fortnight later. It saddens my soul to think of that beautiful creature no longer gracing this earth with her dancing bright blue eyes or cheeky chucklesome comments, but I feel so overwhelmingly blessed that I got my special time with her throughout my three weeks in Holland.

Being with Will and the rest of the (momentously massive) clan ignited the already instilled sense of how important family is. How important love is. (Que naff and tossery spiel; forewarning). While the raging antics under the influence of spirited shots with newly made chums was most enjoyable, I have to say the evenings going through photo albums with Frans and Wijna, the Saturday night reading stories with little Roos and Sem, the cycling of the canals with cousin Yvette – they warmed my heart far more forcefully, and I will recall them with a fondness the capering nights will never measure up to.

Up until the last few years – which I think may be the case for many a person – I can see I’ve taken my family for granted. Not in an overt, see-what-I-can-garner sort of light, but in a they-are-related-so-they-have-to-love-me kind of reasoning. I mean, we share the same genes and what not; the relationships just don’t need nurturing in the same respect as formed friendships do and you can rely on the shared genes and lineages, right? But being in Holland made me realise – they need a whole lot more. From here on out I am going to make a point of making time for the relations and getting to know them as people and not just DNA divvied. And it’s remarkable – in the last few months, my cousin Allie has become one of my closest confidants. My cousin Sarah has slammed into the collection of chief comrades. My rapport with my Uncle Adrian has deepened to be on a friend as well as uncle-niece level. And of course, the brother James and the Uncle Cock have long since been two of my topmost best pals, with the mother Deb forever my first thought and choice as the person to partner in outings. My family is fucking fabulous.

I came across a quote a few years ago that really made like an Amos and adhered with me: “Love is a verb”. Isn’t that incredible? The more I think about it, the more I shukka the saying. Often the word “love” is thought of as a descriptor, a noun, way of expressing how you feel about something or someone. But it isn’t just a noun; it’s a verb. Love is felt, given and received, and you have to act on it as the verb. Which is just one of the many Me Modifications to Make (MMtM) on the quarter life plan from here on out (enlightenment shall peek through in coming posts).

Up until last week the thought that I will be here in Cambridge until at least April made my aorta make like the Titanic and sink. I felt nauseous at the idea that this is my life for the next ten-to-eleven months, that the mundanity of the everyday would become routine once again, the feeling that the big 2-5 is swiftly approaching and come September 6, I will no longer be able to class myself in the “early-20s” age bracket. (Ew, I’m onto “mid”. How did that even happen!). I was having right old pity parties on the daily. Then one day I glared at myself in the mirror (honestly, my bathroom lighting is so intense that you know if your makeup/hair/skin looks semi decent in the refection, you will be superstar status when out in the wide world as that fluorescent bulbage highlights very flaw), gave an exasperated sigh and demanded, “Pop, get your shit together”.

So I am. Plans ahoy! (And all blue tacked all over my wall – apologies Henio).

So my chosen wee mantra for the next wee while is to be, “Without the rain there can be no rainbow”. I always took that to be as the balance of the world, with the good and the bad and so forth, but now I’m taking it in in another frame; my rainbow is India and Nepal next year, and my “rain” is the mundane of the working life to get the means to my ROYGBIV.

And that does not at all mean the next (fair few – argh!) months will be all dismal and downerish. I mean, Hank Angus Wortman is due to pop out into this world in less than a month! I have eons of pals about the place to parade around with. I’m planning overseas abroad adventures with a number of cohorts for 2017, I have some fab things happening in the line of work with writing and weddings and what not and I have my book to launch into and, well, launch, before I jet set off to being able to breathe again. (Yet another big A3 card laying out the plan of attack bluetacked around the room).

Rain? Mate, it’s rain of sunshine and sparkles.

And there’s oh so much Pop about to come out. (Because, really, my life is a pot of gold).

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