Singapore – The Gorgeous Green City – Where the happiest people in Asia live!

trees keep the whole place healthy and balanced

Singapore – The Gorgeous Green City – Where the happiest people in Asia live!Singapore - Raffles fountain

I’ve always wanted to visit Singapore to see the iconic locations for myself.

Singapore - Raffles

It’s a total joy, everywhere you look is greenery alongside stunning modern architecture.



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Venice, Italy – So Much More Than Glass and Gondolas!

invoking thoughts of women in masks and powdered wigs roaming through the city after attending yet another outrageous masked ball in the 15th century.

Venice, Italy – So Much More Than Glass and Gondolas!

I’d heard Venice was smelly, damp, expensive, sinking and outdated. Well they got that wrong!

Venice canal
Stupidly big boats are not friends of Venice

OK, maybe it’s sinking, actually it’s tilting and sinking. Yes it’s pricey. However it certainly wasn’t smelly and it was so packed with gorgeous art, stunning architecture, history and irrepressible wow factors that I would have forgiven the city the smell anyway.

Venice - pillar



Venice is awesome, you arrive at the airport and get the boat, yes boat, from the airport to your hotel.

On the island there are no cars, which is no wonder as the pathways wind adventurously between the high and ancient architecture.

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Truly Unique and Unbelievable – Damien Hirst – Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

Wow. I know it’s in the eye of the beholder but maybe they went to a different show to the rest of us.

Truly Unique and Unbelievable – Damien Hirst – Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

I’d first of all like to give FULL credit to all the artists and sculptors and workers who alongside Damien Hirst produced such a unique awe inspiring exhibition. (Actually two, in separate locations in Venice.)

Damien Hirst - Gold painted sculpture

You produced work that truly brought the ‘Wow’ factor, to almost every visitor through the doors.

Whilst being lucky enough to visit Venice, I also had chance to see this exhibition spread over two venues in the city.

Damien Hirst - coral

A fantastic contrast to all the historic art and culture which packs the city between canals and waterways.

 



I can’t even contemplate how you achieved it, how you managed to get such huge and outrageous pieces into the country let alone into the galleries.

Amazing!

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How to Recycle Your Wedding Dress (Or Other Piece of Clothing That Holds Memories Within Its Threads)

I paid loads of cash for a frock and then paid to destroy it?

How to Recycle Your Wedding Dress (Or Other Piece of Clothing That Holds Memories Within Its Threads)

You now how it goes.

Gorgeous wedding day, fortune spent on your wedding dress, then after the big day it sits in the suit carrier in the wardrobe.

So, guess what, as part of my streamlining and feeble attempts at leading a more minimal life style I decided to cut it up!

Yes really, you heard me right, CUT IT UP!


Well, to be honest I paid someone else to cut it up.

OK, take a breath. I paid loads of cash for a frock and then paid to destroy it?

Yup!

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My Favourite Five Fiction Books to Take Travelling

…whilst pushing your travel boundaries, push your literary ones too!

If you’ve ever been travelling you probably know that one way to survive long flights, bus trips or delays is to carry a good book.

These are just a few of my favourites, after all I love books and often read one a day if I’m on a beach day!

1. The Motorcycle Diaries – Che Guevara

One of my favourite books, short, easy to read and essential reading before any trip to South America or Cuba.

My Goodreads review

2. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury

 

This will make you question how you judge a people and a place, so whilst pushing your travel boundaries, push your literary ones too.

My Goodreads review
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Paphos, Cyprus – How a Turtle Helped Me Remember Why I Travel to New Places!

Maybe, just maybe, it’ll make them think twice about throwing that plastic bottle in the ocean.

Paphos, Cyprus – How a turtle helped me remember why I travel to new places!

One of my travel mantras has been that the world is so huge with so many places to visit that I wouldn’t go to the same place twice. This trip broke that rule, I’d been to Paphos in Cyprus many years before and loved it’s history, culture and gorgeous castle on the harbour.

So when looking for a family holiday destination accessible from both Greece, where we were concluding a tour of the Peloponnese, and England from where my family would be flying in to join us, Cyprus was an obvious choice.

We were enjoying an evening on the promenade, and had just finished eating a fairly ordinary meal which hadn’t left me reeling in delight when I spotted a few people rushing to the harbourside.

A crowd was building along the waterfront. The dark sea alongside the busy pedestrianised promenade obviously held something exciting for the tourists but I had no idea what. I’d been waiting for the bill to arrive but couldn’t resist the pull of the crowd. OK, so I’m nosey, I admit it.

I had an inkling what it could be, the area’s known for turtles and I hadn’t seen one yet, I secretly hoped this evening could end on a high note.

 

After making sure the bill was in hand I couldn’t wait any longer to join the hyperactive crowd peering into the dark. Now here was where mobile phones came into their own, someone lit the area with their mobile torch and to everyone’s giddy joy there she was. Swimming just below the surface was the most gorgeous, apparently happy and healthy turtle.

Wow!

I’ve been lucky to get quite up close and personal with turtles in Australia, but only in a rescue centre

Turtle at Reef HQ, Australia
Turtle at Reef HQ, Australia

I’d also seen one swimming off the coast there but to see one so close up in the wild was a real joy. I love the sea and all it holds and feel passionately that we should do much more to protect it. I was thrilled so many tourists could encounter this beautiful peaceful creature first hand.

Maybe, just maybe, it’ll make them think twice about throwing that plastic bottle in the ocean.

As people slowly moved away, their murky phone photos shooting up into social media as they went, a local guy approached and asked if I knew the story. A little bit wary of this enthusiastic local holding my arm I admitted I didn’t so he told me all about the turtle’s tale. Now all this could be a myth or a load of rubbish but here we go.

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Redundant? Your 5 Step Action Plan – How To Turn A Job Loss Into An Opportunity. Survive and Thrive!

Now read your notebook. It should be a visual feast of fears and thoughts, dreams and aspirations, Q & A’s and more importantly your plan for your future. Your life is literally in your own hands.

Redundant? Your 5 Step Action Plan – How To Turn A Job Loss Into An Opportunity. Survive and Thrive!

I’ve been through the stress of losing my job a few times over the years, always in circumstances beyond my control.

If I hadn’t experienced the sheer terror of thinking I could lose my home I may never have had the courage, or cash, to go backpacking to the other side of this awesome planet.

I may not have moved house.

I probably wouldn’t have studied for a degree or learnt numerous new skills.

I could go on and on.

On my journey from worthlessness and fear to confidence and personal acceptance I’ve picked up a few tips on how to cope.

I’d love to share how you can turn a redundancy or job loss into a positive experience and opportunity. I’ll give you some ideas and reassure you. 

You are not on your own.

You really can come out smiling, in fact smiling throughout really helps not just you, but also your colleagues to get through the bad days!

First things first, get yourself a notebook and pen.

It’ll become invaluable. Treat yourself to one that makes you smile, not one you always use in your current job. This book will become important so buy one you like the feel of and that’s easy to carry around. 

I find a good way to organise your notebook is to use it the right way round to record the FACTS then turn it upside down and back to front to write all your thoughts and/or feelings. 

Now Your 5 Step Action Plan – How To Turn A Job Loss Into An Opportunity

1 – GET THE FACTS

Book an appointment with a legal advisor and your bank or financial advisor.

If you are in a union or with a caring company they may provide this free of charge. Most lawyers, in UK at least, will do a free consultation.

Get online, look for local resources, drop in centres.

If you’ve been shut out of your job without notice, don’t panic, still book appointments. You need to know your rights.

Write down the questions you have (these will often come to you at 2am so keep your notepad at the side of your bed) you’ll then be ready to ask the real experts. This’ll help you sleep as you’ll feel more in control.

Get facts, write them down, with dates and names of who told you what.

You won’t remember. Trust me!

Everyone will have an opinion and it will all pile up in your brain. To manage it all and make sense of the chaos your notebook will be invaluable.

Sadly some cases do go to legal action, if you need to go down that route your notebook will be invaluable. It’s handy to speak with people you know, especially those who’ve been through it, however don’t take their advice as fact.

Unless your friend is an employment lawyer they may not be giving you accurate information.

Refresh your CV.

There are plenty of up to date templates on the internet, update yours, this helps you to realise you have some amazing skills.

It’s good to do this exercise with someone who knows you well. We all have skills that we don’t recognise. You could ask a colleague who is going through the same changes to sit down offer a coffee and go through the exercise together. 

If you’re being offered a redundancy package it is probably highly detailed and could take months if not years to be put in writing. Don’t wait, start your research early.

So, the stressful stuff is in hand. The lawyer and bank appointments are in the diary, the CV is up to speed. Now have some fun! 

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Volterra, Italy – History and Handbags High in the Tuscan Hills

Painters, artists and writers have been drawn to this part of the world across the years.

Volterra, Italy – History and Handbags High in the Tuscan Hills

Want to download this post to your phone and read it later, or even whilst you’re in Volterra? Why not go to GPSmycity app and download it now!

Click Here!

I was lucky enough to spend a week working in Tuscany. I know, sorry, stressful but someone had to do it, I’m such a martyr for my cause eh? On an afternoon off I was driven to this joy of a ancient mountain town, Volterra.

I’d seen it from a distance across the valley from the work location. High in the clouds first thing in the morning, safely nestling above the expanse of green valleys and hillsides later in the day.

I’m glad I wasn’t driving the roads are winding with huge drops to certain death on one side, although as a passenger I’m not sure which took my breath away most, the vertiginous drops or the STUNNING panoramic views beauty of nature all around! So if you do drive you may miss out on the numerous opportunities to look past the trees and extreme drops to the famous Tuscan views.

Volterra Tuscany view from the town over hills
Breathtaking!

Painters, artists and writers have been drawn to this part of the world across the years. It is a calm, light, green, panoramic countryside and it’s very easy to understand why so many found it inspirational.

‘I am a product of my native land, Tuscany, Italy’ – Andrea Bocelli

We arrived in Volterra and parked in a municipal underground car park. Ignoring this very concrete 1970’s spiral of a carpark as anything other than a convenience, we got walking shoes on, credit cards and cameras at the ready and started the wonderful stroll. Starting with a view over red tiled roofs and out to the far fields rampant with greenery and various farmed crops.

This gem of a town hidden high in the Tuscan hills is worth the drive. Don’t miss the panoramic views near the car park on the main road into the town. The heavy red tiled roofs sit solid and reassuring as you look out over the valley, on the edge of town, although the brickwork is quite wonky in places. No doubt after years of carrying the burden of the deeply ridged terracotta tiles. It all adds to the sense of place, rooted strongly to this mountain top in this country of earthquakes and tremors.

The Romans built an impressive theatre here, wow they must have been fit to hike up those hills! No straight Roman road would climb this high. Surprisingly they still trekked all the way up here, despite the lack of straight roads to ascend the hills,  and built amongst other things a huge theatre.

‘Roman Theatre of Volterra’

Spend a few of your euros to see the historic sites, you can get a multi saver although as time was limited I just chose to spend time at the ‘Roman Theatre of Volterra’. As I wandered around paved pathways and stared awestruck as mosaic floors and marble columns, still standing all these years on, I knew I was walking in the footsteps of Roman poets and actors in leather sandals alongside Roman goddesses in long white robes and gold headdresses.

They had the right idea building here, truly near to their gods in the clouds, although I can imagine them moving elsewhere in winter. This place is HIGH!

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Why you should set up a new email account…then share it

The reason so many people, not just companies, want your email address is because they’re valuable.

I accidentally pressed ‘delete all’ in an email folder.

ARGH!!

Oh well, half an hour later I’ve managed to retrieve most of the emails, but that was time I really needed to keep building my online entrepreneur business.

However!

This reminded me how reliant we are on the tech that sourrounds us.

Think!

Is your business resilient?

Can you contact your friends without Facebook?

An hour after I retrieved my almost lost emails…I received a new email telling me an online forum I use is changing it’s policies.

(Not Facebook…this time.)

However…what if…have you thought about it?

I share my written work within a blog sharing website where I have about 100 followers. Sadly they haven’t shared their direct email with me so I’ve only got that one route into their world.

I’ve managed to find some of them on other social media, but it’s not always easy because of name changes and just simply finding folks in the mass of people online.

As the website is changing direction I will probably lose all those friends and contacts, it will no longer be a place where I can share my work. More importantly it’s a loss of 100 people who give me feedback and help me keep on track.

I feel I’ve lost an opportunity to share good things with them.

ARGH!!

Then…

I sat back, had a cup of tea (OK you guessed it I’m British) and accepted it’s pointless getting frustrated.

Humble drinks corner with tea

Anger is a waste of energy.

You can’t control the mass of information and forums on the internet.

You just can’t!

So?

What do you do to avoid being in this mess?

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Vietnam – The Hanoi to Hue Overnight Train – Not for the squeamish but an unmissable experience

British Rail would be twitching and litigating against such apparent recklessness

Hanoi train station

The station in Hanoi is quite bare compared to Europe’s sign-written, commercial railways. Stark grey concrete and not a word of English or at least none that we could see. No shops or the niceties of vending machines or cafes.

The trains are utilitarian and reminiscent of a film noire.

 

It’d make a great cold war film set. In comparison to the madness of colour, sound and constant frenzied friendliness that is Hanoi it just made me feel cool, cold almost and quite vulnerable.

Vietnam's bustling red lanterns and fast motorbikes

It was quite an odd feeling on a hot and humid day. 

This was when we were sure that going on a G Adventures accompanied group trip was worth the money. The vast open station with platforms lined with long anonymous aged trains was quite daunting. You know in an exciting way.

Officials in Vietnam like a good uniform preferably with braids and metallic trimmings demanding respect.

I didn’t get to grips with who was the police, security or rail staff throughout the whole trip. We meekly followed our impressively uniformed train guard and Cambodian travel guide across train tracks, YES, we walked across the train tracks.

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