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An adventure of caves, abandoned mazes, and wine.

This has been a good week. I’ve celebrated my book release in Perth city and becoming a bestseller in Australia, I’ve been on a road trip, visiting ancient caves, stopping off at an abandoned maze, visited a lighthouse and driven down to the southern most point of Western Australia. I’ve been on an epic full day wine tour, been to a natural spa, visited beaches with ivory sands and clear waters and tonight I’ve just come back from a hike around King’s Park in Perth.

It’s been a great thing to bond with people over the past week. For a while I felt quite alone, but it’s been nice to talk to others and hear their story- and actually open to them in return.

Throughout this journey I’ve found that sometimes negative feelings can have a beauty of their own. I’ve heard about other people’s struggle and their heartbreaks. To know that other people have felt such strong emotions for other people is in itself kind of beautiful. To care so much about someone.

That’s pretty awesome.

That’s my silver lining about hearing other folk’s struggles- seeing them overcome their own obstacles, or even if they haven’t yet, listening to how they want to and even offer your own support to their journeys.

It’s been nice to actually make a pact with someone to keep each other on the straight and narrow- for them to help you make sure you look after yourself and think well of yourself. Working to snap your mind out of the pattern that sometimes makes us feel worse- you know the pattern I’m talking about. When your mind starts running away with itself and you think about every situation under the sun. It’s no help worrying. I read something the other day and I can’t help but think how true it is. You feel depressed by thinking about the past and anxious when you worry about the future. The peaceful man lives in the now.

I want to be more like that.

I’m actually excited about that and know it’s well within my ability to achieve it.

The trip to Margaret River was very much needed. I feel a huge sense of relief about the past week. It’s like I’ve finally been able to breathe fully again. As if before, all I could take was small shallow breaths, never having enough air to function or feel good.

I feel like I’ve returned to myself. I became fractured and lost and now I’ve managed to gather the pieces up once again. I don’t regret anything. Because that’s the beauty of living- that’s the beauty in the ability to feel.

I feel great that I’ve found some peace within myself.

I want to focus on myself and make my life as exciting and happy as possible. Now is the time to start building foundations. Now is the time to start making changes. Now.

And if my mind ever wanders backwards or ahead of myself, I try and take a moment.

“Stay in the now. This is the now.”

We have to be our own champions. And whereas I believe in kindness towards others, I think it’s very easy to forget to be kind towards ourselves and make those decisions that will benefit you personally. It’s ok to be selfish sometimes. This is your journey. You need to take the twists and turns you want and need to find what you want. I’ve definitely had to do that.

An adventure can be what we need to refocus- to make us realise so much about ourselves. Margaret River did that for me and I’m so thankful of taking that leap with the little Viking I call her.

I was actually nervous about going on the road trip and first. The little Viking and I didn’t know each other too well, but we seemed to vibe off each other. All in all, it was a suggestion that came from a hungover conversation whilst eating cheesy nachos.

I had found my comfort zone and home and started feeling anxious about leaving the safety net. That usually happens if I feel down for a certain period of time. But after speaking to my dad, he told me simply:

“Pack your bags.”

So I did. The next morning, after shoving everything I could think we may need during the trip, we were on our way. I won’t get into the nearly running out of petrol fiasco, but let’s just say there was at one point a stage where I was very afraid for my lifespan. I was just thankful that I had decided to open a bottle of beer during the situation.

It helped.

I found that where our personalities were very different, our pattern of thinking was very similar. We were completely in sync with everything and that made the journey probably one of the best road trips I had.

It’s important to have someone you can feel comfortable chatting none stop with, and also to have comfortable silences. We had that just lying in our motel after a full day out, not saying anything- simply reading our books and occasionally passing the chocolate, topping up the wine or eating cheese with a spoon.

Hey- we were hungry and desperate.

We started our first day in a café surrounded by pamphlets of the nearby attractions. Our priority of course was chocolate, wine and the caves.

Our drive to the Mammoth Caves was incredible. A long stretch of road with towering trees bowing over the tarmac, sunlight constantly peaching in and out of vision. We were surrounded by such intense yellows, blues and greens that driving became a difficult thing to accomplish without getting distracted.

It would be every five minutes when either the little Viking or I would murmur: “Oooo, pretty…”

After parking, we trotted down to buy our tickets, collect our audio tour guides and prepared ourselves for a Riddle-off with Gollum (if you haven’t watched the Hobbit- shame on you). The entrance was a gaping mouth of black ready to eat us whole. After shrieking when some droplets of water fell and trickled down my back, I managed to get a hold of myself and go in.
I felt the warmth strip from my skin as soon as I stepped into the shadows, the thick Australian accent from my audio tour quietly nattering from my headphones. I pulled them off within the first ten steps, wanting to hear every drip and echo of the caves. I wanted to feel everything, get a real sense of what this place- I wanted to hear-

“Jack! Pack it in!”

“Mum!”

“Jack, just stop it!”

“Oi! You two-”

Desperate to avoid the family of six, the little Viking and I quickened our pace to avoid their whining voices, keen to get onto the next place.

We almost missed the maze. We were driving towards the lighthouse when we saw a random sign. Now, being brought up watching The Labyrinth with my big sister, I have always been obsessed with the idea of getting lost in a bunch of hedges (please mail puns).

I saw the red painted sign and shouted, “Maze! Turn, turn, turn!”

Although we drove up to this decrepit sun-bleached building where an unmanned honesty box was put in place, we ran into the maze immediately. Splitting up, we left the other for dead as we ran around in circles and twists and turns.

I won, of course.

We finished it off with driving to the most southern point of Western Australia to visit Cape Leeuwin.

“Lighthouse is just up ahead, toilets are to your right- be careful around them as the snakes like to hang around there.”

I froze, my hand half outstretched for the offered audio guide. “You what?” I stammered.

The Museum Assistant nodded. “Oh yeah, there’s signs everywhere- got to watch them, y’know,” he said. “Thought you Essex ladies weren’t scared of anything.”

My eyes narrowed before I could stop them. “I’m not from Essex.”

“The last Essex woman I met whacked me round the head with a stiletto,” he told me, crossing his arms over his chest.

I glanced down at my trainers, checking for sharp edges.

“You from Liverpool?”

Taking a breath with my fists clenched, I managed to throw, “I’m from Coventry!” as I was pulled from the door by my co-adventurer.

“I’ll remember that’s where you ladies are from!” he called after me.

Too flummoxed to correct him, I kept focused on the task of avoiding being eaten by snakes.

The next day was a blur in itself- (probably due to the wine tour) but I know it was a bloody good day. Maybe I’ll share it in the next blog.

Returning home to Perth, whenever I listen to various songs always reminds me of the fun I had on our little road trip. This adventure helped me recognise a lot of things about myself and completely reset me.

I feel like February is going to be starting a new positive chapter for me. I’ve got so many projects that I’m excited about and I’ve met some absolutely amazing people. I believe you get out what you put in- and I’m definitely dedicated to investing some time and energy towards my aspirations.

So yeah… I’m feeling good.

I hope you are too. Much love to you all as always.

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