travel musings

It’s Been A While! Here’s What I’ve Been Up To

Whoa, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Two entire months, in fact, since I graced your presence with one of my delightful blog posts.

In that time, I have been… busy.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll probably know slightly more about what I’ve been up to! We finally went on our African honeymoon. I went to Budapest and Belgium. I spent the weekend in London. We’ve just spent this last weekend with family, and we also had a family event somewhere in between all of this. And somewhere between all of that, I’ve been jobhunting and got myself a shiny new job! It has been non-stop.

I didn’t particularly mean to be this packed out all at once. I realise I make some really mad decisions sometimes, but I never planned to come back from the best and most expensive holiday we’ve ever taken, only to run off to Europe less than two weeks later. I have my Australian friend to thank for that – the one you might recognise from my post about the Harry Potter train trip in Scotland, which was, believe it or not, the last time I posted on here a whole two months ago.

Here’s everything I’ve been up to since then.

On safari in the Serengeti, Tanzania

We went on our honeymoon!

And it was honestly the most magical, awe-inducing trip we have ever been on.

We flew out to Nairobi and hopped into a van with four lovely strangers to embark on our first safari. I had no idea what to expect – you’re paying all this money, and then what if you don’t see anything? It’s not exactly like a whale-watching trip where you might get your money back. You can’t just do it another time. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself to have the Most Amazing Trip Ever™, but also I wanted to see ALL THE ANIMALS!

Elephant in the Maasai Mara, Kenya

Well, our first two-hour evening safari in the Maasai Mara gave us giraffes, zebra, elephants AND lions. The first TWO HOURS. I was giddy with excitement for our first full day.

Haha. Hahaha. If I thought the first two hours were amazing, you should see how phenomenal day two was.

Cheetah in the Maasai Mara, Tanzania
A cheetah spying on some potential prey in the Maasai Mara. Unfortunately we never saw the hunt!

For one thing, it started out with a hot air balloon ride followed by a champagne breakfast. And on the way to the champagne breakfast, two male lions walked *right* past our truck.

I didn’t know how Tanzania would ever top Kenya, yet somehow it did.

We headed off to Arusha on a backpacker bus to round off our “budget” part of the trip, and then switched up our style to actual honeymoon with a private safari tour to lodges in the Serengeti. This was full-on bucket list for me. We stayed in the most spectacular lodge inside Serengeti National Park for one of the nights – the type of place we will never stay again. We were embarrassed beyond belief with petals and songs and lovely table-settings.

But most importantly, once again, we saw SO many animals. My mind was truly blown every day of the trip. From having a family of elephants walk past our truck so close I could touch them, to the more gritty nature of watching a lioness and her cubs devour a zebra, our wildlife experiences were so much more than I could have even hoped for. I have soooo many photos to go through, but I promise you’ll see the best of them. I cannot wait to share more pictures and stories!

Lion in the Serengeti, Tanzania
A young male lion in the Serengeti

After the safaris, we flew to Zanzibar and spent the remaining days languishing by the pool with a book (I read American Dirt, a phenomenal book if you haven’t read it). We stayed on an amazing beach and took a day trip to Stone Town which we loved. I probably don’t have a massive amount to write about Zanzibar as a whole, but I’ll definitely be posting a bit more about our time on the island!

Beach hotel Hekaya in Zanzibar, Tanzania
The view from our Zanzibar hotel – not too shabby!

(Side note: the Queen died while we were in Zanzibar. I tried to avoid the news while we were away, I really did. But news of the Queen’s health had us refreshing the BBC all day. It was a very, very strange feeling not being in the UK at the time.)

Parliament from Fishermen's Bastion, Budapest, Hungary

I went to Europe

Less than two weeks after landing back in the UK, and days after we celebrated a family event, I was off again! My friend Kerry was coming to the end of her trip from Australia, and she planned to see at least a few cities around Europe. Originally, the plan was to meet her in either Krakow or Budapest and then fly back from the other one. In the end, she scrapped Krakow from her itinerary, so I flew out to Budapest for a long weekend.

The problem, then, was getting back, because Ryanair flights were coming up at an astounding £130! Or I could spend an extra day by myself for half the price. Or I could fly to Brussels instead for 20€ and then fly home for £12. And… if I was going to do that, I might as well spend a night in Belgium and have that extra day in a different country, right?

So that’s what I did – but then naturally, booked a hostel in… Antwerp. And decided to spend the day in Ghent first. And then spend a few hours in Brussels on the way back to the airport.

This is what happens when I find out cities are about half an hour apart on the train.

Ghent, Belgium
Ghent in the rain

So, it ended up being a madder trip than I intended, from two cities to one, and then suddenly to four!

I had a great time though – Budapest has been reaffirmed as one of my favourite European cities, I ended up really enjoying Ghent despite the incessant rain, I had a great but brief time in Antwerp, and wound up regretting not spending more time in Brussels because beyond any of my expectations, I loved the city instantly!

Gulliver in Brussels, Belgium
Gulliver in Brussels Grote Markt square

Plus the town square is possibly the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!

So basically, I’ve now got to go back to Brussels, having only visited because “I might as well”.

And I’ve got to go back to Budapest again because Ash still hasn’t been! I can’t believe I’ve been without him twice!

Fishermen's Bastion, Budapest, Hungary
Fishermen’s Bastion, Budapest

I got a new job!

Yaaaaaaaaayy!!

I’m thrilled to say I’ll be working in the travel industry from the end of this month! It’s so exciting to see a dream come to fruition. I won’t give too much info at the moment, but I am so excited to start!

I actually got offered a job interview for while I was in Europe, so I had to re-arrange it for when I was back, and by the end of the week I’d been offered the job!

I went to London

The day I was offered the job, I went straight from my current job to… London!

WHEN I TELL YOU THE LAST TWO MONTHS HAVE BEEN NON-STOP.

I took my bag to the office and went straight to the train station after work, where the fun really began.

By fun, I mean… I made a massive Twitter thread about my journey, and boy was it a journey.

I’ve sworn off trains for a while, because the whole night was ridiculous.

If you can’t be bothered to read the thread, basically: all trains going south from Edinburgh were cancelled due to an overhead line coming down. They sent us to Glasgow to get a train from there, and I led a group of people running from Queen Street station to Central station like the bloody pied piper. Trains from Glasgow to London were then also cancelled. We could get as far as Preston, at which point we would sit for 40 minutes, get on another train to Crewe, followed by a 3-hour bus to London.

At one point, we were also told to get off at Carlisle and go to Newcastle for that train to London. There was then a speed limit between Glasgow and Carlisle, which meant we missed the train to Newcastle, that train would have missed the last train to London anyway, and then the train to Newcastle was cancelled too!

So we got to Preston, everyone getting ready to settle in to wait for the next train, when we were all told to jump off the train and get on another one that was going to London!! Via about 15 stops (the original journey was 4 stops).

Absolute chaos. Anyway after all this, we got into London at 2.15am – only 4 hours late – and I got to the hotel at 3am, by which time my friend was obviously already asleep so I had to sneak in.

Tower Bridge, London
A rare touristy photo of me in London

Nightmare journey aside, I had a really good weekend in London! I was there to see my Aussie friend off, as she was flying back to Australia on the Monday.

We accidentally had a pretty touristy weekend – we went to St Paul’s to take a load of nice photos, found an abandoned church to take more nice photos, then crossed London Bridge to meet some friends in Borough Market. In the evening, we hit up Cahoots, a really cool 40’s wartime themed underground station bar.

It’s such an awesome place!

The next day, some of our plans were thwarted by the London marathon, which distressingly was sponsored mainly by the parent company of where I currently work!! I finally thought I’d escaped and then they were EVERYWHERE.

I did take a nice wander around some of the Kensington mews before we headed across to Tower Bridge. The closures meant we took a detour to Spitalfields and Leadenhall markets, but eventually we did get over to the south side of the Thames.

We then, err, failed to find a Sunday lunch (I wish I was joking – we tried three pubs!) and headed back to Earl’s Court as we’d seen a nice pub near our hotel, and it hit the spot completely!

In the evening, I’d booked a show because Matt Willis from Busted is in it – it was quite poetic really, because I know this friend through Busted, the weekend marked 20 years since their first album (secretly we’d been hoping our plans would tie in with an anniversary gig), and now we were spending her final night in the UK seeing Matt in a play.

Us with Matt Willis outside 2:22, London
Saying a quick hello to Matt from Busted

We even got to say hello to him afterwards! He was lovely as always.

The play was excellent – it’s called 2:22, and it’s a ghost story, so expect some scares, but the premise is really well executed and, well, I won’t say any more because it’s got a few twists and turns through intrigue and humour! I definitely recommend it (and not just for Matt). Also, the Criterion Theatre is beautiful inside!

We had some time left before I needed to leave, so we wandered through Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, down along the Strand and ended up in Trafalgar Square where we stumbled across a dance party. I realised, seeing Big Ben in the distance down Whitehall, that I hadn’t seen it since the scaffolding came down, so we walked along there too (I planned to yell “F*CK THE TORIES” as we walked past Downing Street but it was swarming with police so decided that might not be the best idea). Apart from Buckingham Palace, I think we saw every major London landmark over the weekend!

My next mad plan was due to disruptions with the trains, which is ironic given how the journey down panned out. This time, I was getting the bus back up to Edinburgh. At 11.30pm. Arriving at 7.30am. And walking straight to work.

It was not my finest decision. I actually slept for almost the whole bus journey though, which proves that I am not yet too old for such awful adventures. Still took many cups of tea to become remotely human in the office though.

Aaaaaand this just about brings us up to date.

Inchcolm Abbey in the Firth of Forth, Scotland
A local trip – Inchcolm Island

In fact, I haven’t even covered everything, because in July I took my Mum out on a boat trip through the Firth Of Forth, and then in August I went out on the Forth again with Ash to check out the abbey on Inchcolm Island. Both were really enjoyable trips! Along with all my upcoming posts about the travels, I’m also planning a comprehensive post about South Queensferry, where we live. This will cover both of those boat trips!

It’s just been a mad few months. The reasonable downtime in July and half of August meant I got caught up with the previous mad few months, and now my reasonable downtime in half of October and all of November will hopefully mean lots of content and stories coming your way very soon.

Please forgive me for the radio silence. I’m sure you’ve all been busy too.

So, what are you most looking forward to reading about first?!

15 thoughts on “It’s Been A While! Here’s What I’ve Been Up To

  1. Wow, what a wild ride you had– I got secondhand whiplash reading all that you’d been up to these past couple of months. You certainly did not waste time traversing many countries, let alone continents…I’m especially excited to hear about your adventures in Kenya/Tanzania, as they’ve interested me for some time. Hope you can rest a bit now…until the next adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I definitely need a break but instead I’m working hard to finish a lot of what I have to do at my current job before I finish. 😅 Hopefully I’ll be a lot less stressed in a few weeks!

      You’ve probably seen a lot of the Kenya photos but there’s so many from Tanzania that I still need to sort through. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yikes, that sounds like a VERY busy couple of months! So glad to hear you had a lovely time on safari in Tanzania. Looking forward to seeing more of your wildlife photos 😀 Congratulations on the new job, too! I once took the Night Riviera (sounds more glamorous than it was, I only had a standard seat) from Cornwall to London. We got into Paddington at some hideous time in the morning and I went straight into work. Not my finest hour 😂 We live and (sometimes) learn.

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  3. What a whirlwind few months! I’m one of those people that LOVES Brussels – such an under-rated capital. Of course, I love beer, frites, mussels and chocolate so we’re a perfect fit 😀

    American Dirt is one of my fave reads of the last few years so I’m glad you loved it too. Can’t wait to hear how you transitioned from budget to complete luxury on your honeymoon x

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  4. You have been so busy! Your honeymoon looks amazinggggggg, what an experience. And then your Belgium plan sounds hilarious and exactly what I would do. Good luck starting your new job, so happy for you 🙂

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  5. So many places! I think the posts I’m most looking forward to reading though are about South Queensferry and Inchcohm Island. They’re the (new to me) places I’m most likely to get to myself in the next year.

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  6. Busy, busy, busy… but the best kind of busy, the happy and productive sort! Congratulations on the new job, I look forward to reading more about that.

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