Road Trippin’: Four Cities and a Hochzeit

Back on a dark and wintery Canberra evening last year, freezing in my badly insulated room, I received some news to warm me from the inside.

My friend Danielle had just got engaged to her beau Jon and would be married in France!

I was immensely happy for her. We had been friends a long time and I knew from our endless Sex and the City marathons over the years that she was a total sucker for romance and would be on top of the world, as happy as Charlotte in the Harry years one might say. I also knew that this would not be a wedding of small proportions. I mean this is a girl who has a birthday week as opposed to a day like the rest of us, and I was not wrong when the details were announced.

Le Chateau

They would be married in the south west of France, in a chateau and not just any old chateau a really fancy fairy tale looking one with turrets, endless grounds and a secret staircase and everything.

It was set to be a spectacular celebration, yet being thousands of miles away I had no idea of where we would be or how we would get there when the big day rolled round over a year later.

However two things were certain; my Australian visa was running out and Mr S couldn’t wait any longer for a European adventure.

So when the bride and groom revealed, in Indian wedding style, that the celebrations would take place over the course of a week, we couldn’t commit to the whole time, but knew we would be there. Somehow.

Road trippin’

The idea for a road trip struck me when feeling dismayed over the exorbitant price of hotels in close proximity to the chateau. Mr S and I cemented our journey of togetherness over a 10 day road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay and I loved the idea that we could make new memories, roll into our camper after a few and tick some countries off S’s bucket list.

                                                               Road trippin’ 2014 

So it was on another cold and miserable Canberra evening that the road trip idea was born and we started googling all the places we could go, from the Bavarian countryside to the rolling vineyards of Champagne. There was also the question of what kind of van to hire, something practical and classy, inconspicuous to assist with ghetto camping perhaps? Yeah right.

This is the tame one. You should see the one about the dildo!

By the time the road trip arrived I had forgotten that we booked with the cheapest company notorious for its ghastly paint jobs and bombastic at best, misogynist at worst, slogans. Indeed activists had recently called for Wicked Campers, and I quote;

‘To remove the violent, misogynist, racist and homophobic slogans from its rental fleet’

I knew we were in for a real treat when the dreadlocked, barefoot faux company representative, (the real one had ‘some stuff’ to attend to in Poland), told us that we didn’t have the van we had paid for, but not to worry because that one was the dildo van and this one was far more refined.


Bowing ones head in shame


S promptly christened the eyeball mum van ‘Hildy’, presumably so he didn’t have to think about it’s rear end too much.

Our fist stop would be just outside of Hannover, a nice drive of 3 hours to get S aquatinted with driving on the wrong side of the road and not killing us.

Not being quite in to the ghetto camping thing just yet, we paid for a campsite that first night, like total mugs! We didn’t even take advantage of the showers! The site we chose was rather unremarkable though, so we got an early start the next day given that S taken to the autobahn like a duck to water and hadn’t crashed yet.


A brief note on the autobahn; I cannot grasp why Germany gives full autonomy to drivers to regulate their own speed given its love of rules in just about every other facet of daily life. 

I found the autobahn to work much like a high school bully, he who is biggest and loudest intimidates everyone else to get ahead. Yet I learnt that there is reason in this madness; if speed is found to be a factor in an accident then you are liable. Now that may be all well and good, but if you’re flooring it at 170kms an hour I doubt there will be anyone left to sue!

In any event, we didn’t compete with the big boys, even though we could have flashed our rear end to any bully who wanted us out of the way.

What have the Romans ever done for us?

By the evening we made it all way to Trier, Germanys oldest city nestled on the Mosel River near the border with France. We filled our glasses with the finest Riesling ready for our first ghetto camp in a car park near the river. Whilst that may sound a bit grim, and it was inside the van as we neglected to pack pillows or anything to sleep in, it made for a delightful riverside breakfast in the morning.

Not so bright eyed and busy tailed, we headed in to the city to see the Roman ruins, of which there were plenty.  Whilst the age of the ruins were  too great and abstract for me to get my head around, S relished in exclaiming “what have the Romans ever done for us?!” on multiple occasions whilst waving around his newly purchased guide book.

Ruins aside, I found Trier to be a delightful place to wander and especially enjoyed the candy floss coloured buildings which graced the medieval town square.

Next, we resolved the sleeping situation by purchasing pillows, blankets and duvets ( I was SO unbelievably tired) and bundled back in to Hildy to set off for Champagne!

Which was a non negotiable destination seeing as we had no other ideas for a wedding present.

Luxembourg. In 40 minutes.

I may have mentioned that having being restricted to a rather large island for the first 26 years of his life S aspires to ‘go everywhere’. This has resulted in him collecting countries with the same verve he has taken to collecting Pokemon, therefore not stopping in Luxembourg was out of the question.

We were however short on time. I had a passing interest to see the city but my love of sparkling wine knew no bounds, so we resolved to pop in and gave ourselves an hour.

Turns out there’s not a great deal to see in the new part of the city (given that we took the wrong turning to see the old town). My takeaway? Cafes, expensive shops and small dogs. That and a general sense of emptiness surrounding the city. We even laughed that it reminded us a bit of a Canberra suburb.

On crossing the border, the scenes continued to be a tad Australian giving off a ‘NSW in the height of summer’ vibe with fields of scorched earth and unrelenting sunshine which burnt me through the windscreen. The roads were even speed regulated! That said though we were defiantly in France when ordered to part with 30 euros at regular intervals at the tolls.


Yet despite the cost, we arrived in Champagne by 6pm, deciding to stay in a hotel for the night as we were still scarred from the lack of sleep from the night before.

Champagne certainly made a convert out of S who could “take it or leave it” prior to his visit. My love however had always been true, and I relished in perhaps the only benefit of not having a driving licence at 30, by filling my boots with everything offered to me.


Hangover setting in, we left with 9 bottles and only 3 of those were for the wedding. When in Champagne and all that..


It was now Tuesday afternoon we were making good time to arrive at the Chateau on  Wednesday evening in time for the rehearsal dinner.  S drove for a few hours whilst I necked water in the passenger seat and we decided to stop equidistance in Orleans for the evening.

A French Revelation

I have always held the naive view that the whole of France is as chic, beautiful and manicured as central Paris; a land where the smell of freshly baked croissants fills every corner. A view I now know to be unrealistic after visiting Orleans. Whilst the centre was amazing; windy streets, whitewashed houses with powder blue shutters, a cathedral to rival the Notre Damn, its surrounding suburbs were a bit sad.

                                                                Orleans centre 

After surveying a few parks that wouldn’t look out of place on Shameless, we reasoned that Orleans may be worth a few euros of paid camping. We did find a place, a lovely place in fact, but alas so did many others and it was full. Not to be deterred though, we parked ourselves round the corner, managing (miraculously, being bright orange) to clandestine ourselves behind a string of other vehicles for the night.

Le Destination 

Avoiding the tolls the next morning, winding through some beautiful little towns, we arrived at our destination in the afternoon, and boy was it worth the wait, it was simply stunning.

sick chateau pic

So many introductions followed, many I knew, many I didn’t, and I thought it lovely that so many had made it, getting along like old friends ready to party for the whole week. And party they certainly did. Many a sore head was being nursed as we were filled in on the weeks antics, we had certainly missed a few good nights! But we would soon have time to make up for it we were assured.

‘You sleep in a van? I love vans!’

Before contributing towards the next days hangover though, I had to seek out my favourite little person, Arlo. Here is a boy in every sense. He loves trains, diggers, planes, automobiles and last time I was with him he made me stop for 10 minutes to watch the bin men do their thing. If he could speak in fluent sentences I just knew he would say something like ‘What, you sleep in a van? I love vans!’.

Arlo had nothing but love for the van. We couldn’t get him out of there, especially when I showed him where the horn was and he added a few more words to his lexicon in demanding ‘more van’ and ‘see van’ for the rest of the week.

The rehearsal dinner that evening also set the tone for the rest of the time in the Chateau. I indulged in far too much of everything, talked too much and had to be guided back to the van for fear of waking up nowhere near it. In fact, one guy did just that following the wedding day, waking up in Poitiers meat market on a busy Saturday morning with no recollection of how he got there. Still, he made the best of his situation and came back with some cracking lamb chops.

The Hochziet (aka. The Big Day)

Come the big day, I think everyone had forgotten that we were all there for a wedding having already had a weeks holiday. Yet luckily for most, an early night on was had, and we all woke up to the grounds bathed in sunlight set to dazzle us for the ceremony.


Now, I should mention that I was given a role to play. Months before I had been asked to write (and read) a reading, a role that flattered and terrified me in equal measures given that I knew the bride to be a perfectionist and she didn’t want to proof read anything before hand.

I was getting even more worked up given that I had chosen to theme my reading around the German word for wedding, ‘Hochziet’, which translates to ‘high time’. I learnt this word in German class and thought that it was really romantic; the high time of ones life. A lovely product of how German practically fuses words together to make bigger words, and very fitting for Danni and Jon.

Luckily though, after the bride stole the show gracing the aisle to Lana Del Ray and we all sang to Elton John, everyone was misty eyed, full of love and receptive to my efforts.

wedding 3 aislewedding 4 - married, smiling

The rest of the wedding was wonderful. There were hilarious speeches, questionable dance moves, toasts, smiles and lots of love in the chateau.

It would take too long to recount all the details, yet you can see for yourself what a beautiful day it was.


The following day the bride and groom had had the foresight to organise a hangover BBQ, which was very well received. The BBQ also had a secondary objective of finishing off the remaining booze in the chateau, a duty all took to with dedication. In fact for some, (including the groom, who insisted on a re run of the first dance) this was probably the booziest day of the week.

Yet despite the dedication, we left the next day with 6 bottles of wine to add to our champagne collection.

With the boot full of wine, (Bordeaux ironically as our next destination), we also relieved the happy couple with all of the remaining food, like skint students grateful for a handout.

Happy that we didn’t have to spend anything for days we waved them goodbye, their destination being a mini moon in Paris and ours (in polar opposites) being another week of van life….

Girl Gone East (Berlin)

Exactly one month to the day since leaving sunny Canberra it had crept up on us after Myanmar, Kuala Lumpur and a lovely stint at home in Manchester – we were finally moving to Berlin!

Touching down in Schonefeld Airport Mr S and I were full to the brim with excitement, excitement that couldn’t even be dampened by the thought of the 80 or so kilos of luggage we knew we had to drag across town.


We’ve arrived!

As we puffed and panted our way down many a ‘strasse’ the air was quite and subdued, like one giant hangover.

After a long struggle we finally arrived and collapsed in to our bunk beds. Indeed it was hello Europe, bye bye privacy, yet we were oblivious of what was yet to come…

Bat shit 

Upon waking, again with excitement, we quickly realised that the hostel was a rather bat shit crazy looking place, with equally bat shit residents.


Ist das kunst? 

First up we met the worlds most pessimistic Pole, a man who hated everything Berlin (and probably the world) had to offer. We were hoping he may become our drinking buddy, with quality vodka from his homeland! Yet he had nothing good to say about anything except strangely, Justin Bieber’s production values. Ten minutes of his company was as draining as a day long trip to a blood bank. Better luck with our next roomy we thought..

However such luck never came, the people, whilst very nice, got stranger and stranger.

For example over breakfast we met a long stayer who had been in Germany for over 30 years (possibly 30 years in the hostel, it was not clear). Whilst very pleasant, soft and granny like, she casually informed us that she has been cloned twice every year for the last two years by the government who also have all of her 90 children. Yikes.

This made some strange semblance of sense though, as this was not only the cheapest place to crash in Berlin, but the only place where they won’t ask for your passports at check in. I mean,  if I was on the run from being cloned, then this would defiantly be the place to stay. In fact it was also rumoured that from time to time undercover police come and stay, just to check that the next Pablo Escobar is not bunking up in dorm 3.

I can’t get no sleep 

Whilst I was finding all this rather entertaining and had developed a fondness for the adjoining cozy cafe that was our Deutschland Admin HQ, Mr S was not getting his full 9 hours and was starting to get a bit cranky.


Deutschland Admin HQ 

Breaking point came on night 4.  On the account that the hostel was fully booked we agreed to share one bed between us to save changing hostels. This in itself was not a problem, I have slept in smaller spaces, yet when snoring which resembled a train crash and a screaming baby began at 11pm I started to lose it.

I don’t know if you have ever been in such a situation and I would not wish it on anyone, but let me tell you this – these people should be banned from hostels, banned I tell you! Or if not banned, forced to sign a disclaimer that a snore bashing may commence should they continue their anti social night time conduct.

In the morning Mr S looked ashen and bloody eyed. He didn’t even have to say anything to me, I knew I had to try my damnedest to avoid snore gate round two.


Unfortunately we didn’t find anywhere that morning and the days that followed turned in to a cycle of broken sleep, wake up rage and not leaving the hostel until 3pm after furiously trying to find a place to live.

As a result Deutschland Admin HQ was taking over all day time pleasantries such as walking tours and we became nocturnal, enjoying meet ups and many a fine beer of an evening in the hope of sleeping.

By day 5 however, following another shared bed and the sight of Mr S’s bags, I admin’ed like I have never admin’ed before and ah ha! A breakthrough!

Following a short Skype interview we were packing our bags to move down the road to trendy Friedrichstein in the former East, to a beautiful little flat which made me feel very uncool about everything I own.

The sub let of dreams was here! Well for three weeks at least so we could finally sleep, re group and take on the bigger challenge of a longer term let.

And so by Saturday evening, almost a week after arriving we were all settled in our temporary home, sipping our own polish vodka ready to take on insomnia of a different kind…the Berlin dream had arrived!

My Obsession with the Golden Rock

Bold, gold and gravity defying, the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, or the Golden Rock as it is more colloquially known perches atop a lofty mountain covered in jungle in Mon state, Myanmar.


The stuff of legends, the rock balances defying  gravity owing to a single strand of Buddhas hair interned within the pagoda. The story goes that the hair was bestowed to a hermit who passed it to the King who, in a fine act of flattery,  wished it to be enshrined in a boulder shaped like the hermits head. After finding the perfect head sized rock at the bottom of the sea, they sought the assistance of a cosmic King who used the power of the universe to lift the rock from the sea and balance it so perfectly atop Kyaiktiyo where it stands today. Whilst a pretty impressive tale in itself I should clarify that the rock was not found golden, it has become so following years of application of gold leaf by  (male) pilgrims.

My Rock Painting 

My obsession with this rock began fairly early in our trip, on our second day in Yangon in fact.

Like Bagan, I had seen pictures of the rock before leaving home. It looked impressive, I mean what is not to love about a giant gold rock? But it was not until I found a discarded painting of the rock on the streets of Yangon that my level of interest really picked up.


Walking past the eerily deserted Ministers Office, where Aung San was assassinated in 1948, I spied what will now be known as my rock painting. Discarded in a pile of trash a tad dirty it still dazzled amongst the rubbish and called to me, place me on your wall!

I picked it up checking that it really was unwanted and continued going about my day, chuffed with my new find.


Mr S poses with the rock painting 


It was at this point that Mr S and I stopped for a rest in Maha Bandula park and were joined by a friendly local guy called Jonathan. We chatted about many things, politics, engineering (he was training to become a shipping engineer) and his quest to move to Sweden to find a nordic bride. As the sun set and our stomachs began to rumble we excused ourselves to go and get food when he noticed my painting and enquired as to its whereabouts.

‘Oh I found it on the street, just outside the Ministers Office, I want to give it a new home!

Jonathan made a face. At first I was worried, of course I should have taken all reasonable steps to find the owner, I have committed theft! But it was not that which made Jonathan glum.

‘Madam, in Burmese culture it is not good luck to take things that have been discarded by others, you will take with you the troubles of the home that thew away the painting’

I am not usually one for superstition but Jonathan looked really concerned for my future luck prospects, that and I found it by the Ministers Office which I can imagine houses a history of woes. I could just imagine it years from now, someone gets sick – its the painting. I fail my exams – its the painting. We lose all our money and Australia won’t let me back in – its the painting.

So it was with a heavy heart that I left my rock painting in the park with a sage look from Jonathan signalling I had done the right thing. Yet as we continued on our travels I couldn’t erase the picture from my mind and we kept seeing it everywhere, in other temples and even on the bus.


With Mr S tired of grumbles of ‘I miss my rock painting’ he assured me that we would go and see the rock, even if it was out of our way and he would get me a new rock picture free from superstition.

Soap operas 

However, to my dismay we were informed that the rock was undergoing restoration works and would be covered until 23 March. This was the day we had to get back to Yangon for our flight the following morning. The rock was kind of on the way back from Mawlamyine to Yangon, yet with no confirmed information as to whether you can actually see the rock, the endeavour was a bit of a gamble. I was however insistent, and we packed ourselves off on the bus to go and see it.

On the bus we got another fill of cliffhanger drama in the form of the ever entertaining Burmese soap opera.

This one went as follows – moody girl meets monobrowed boy when he runs over her foot, intentionally leaves her phone in his car which he duly returns. There he meets moody girls sweeter sister / friend, falls for sweet girl, moody girl very jealous and is mean to sweet girl. Moody girl cannot contain her feelings and confesses to monobrow boy. He is confused, yet loyal to sweet girl. It was at this point that I thought moody girl would eventually come round and give her blessing to the marriage of monobrow boy and sweet girl but things took a turn for the worse.

Moody girl brings three drinks for all, an argument ensues. Presumably in the knowledge that she has been a proper cow, moody girl snatches one of the drinks, downs it, then proceeds to vomit blood in a violent fashion. Sweet girl is distraught, thinks she overreacted, but it is too late! Moody girl meets her fate. Sweet girl and monobrow boy go to the funeral, sweet girl is sad but monobrow boy is not. They break up. The end.

Roller Coaster 

After this emotional roller coaster it was time for another one, in the form of the truck from Yatetaung to the rock. Cramming in I was bemused by the sign which advised that the fare also included life insurance. When we got going I understood why.


It all became apparent later….

Now I am not delicate when it comes to these things, I think of tuk tuk driving in India as ‘intuitive’,  yet racing up this jungle road with 50 other people in an open topped truck I was convinced we were going to topple to be forever lost in the tangle of bamboo below. It was in every sense, a roller coaster of a ride which drew many laughs from the locals as I whooped and jumped at every death defying corner.


Despite my dramatisation we didn’t need to claim the life insurance and arrived at the wonderfully cool summit ready to finally see the rock! I was so excited, as were many other people who had turned out to see it on the full moon, an auspicious day. Approaching the rock gleamed in the sun, yet was peppered with people polishing it and removing bamboo scaffolding that had no doubt been used in the restoration. Had we come a few hours later it would have been scaffold free, but it was magnificent in any event and certainly gravity defying.



Finally made it to the rock! Note the  ‘longyi of shame’ – leggings are not sufficient in front of the rock 




We stayed for a while, observed the rock from every possible angle and posed for pictures with locals then made a dash for the death bus back down the mountain. The ride down was no more pleasant, especially in the knowledge that out bus to Yangon was leaving in half an hour  which we did in fact miss.

However I felt like the detour had been well worth it, the rock was quite a sight and with a new rock picture and rock woven bag I finally made peace with leaving my rock picture in Yangon.

Inle Special: Burmese Fish Curry with Ginger Salad

‘Darling, lets go for a burmese tonight shall we?’

Not something I have found myself saying before, and oh what a shame!

Diverse as it’s people, Burmese cuisine is an utter delight.  A melting pot of soups, salads and scrumptious curries, first impressions led me to think Myanmar has taken the best from its bordering neighbours, India, China and Thailand.

And yet, I have never seen a Burmese take away grace a local high street.

Sometimes there is good reason for this. There’s a reason you don’t see Filipino takeaways (sorry Philippines, love your country, couldn’t get on with your food) or as recent research has informed me, Kazakhstani takeaways (mutton, mutton and more mutton), yet I can’t fathom why this food is not firmly on the menu.

Whatever the reason, for it could well be my ignorance, my tastebuds have been made very happy and are intent on re living the good stuff.

With this in mind and lots of time to spare in backpacker playground Inle Lake, Mr S and I took a cooking class with Bamboo Cooking School which started with a trip to the market.

The teacher said he would consider requests and I jumped up and down for the inclusion for fish curry and ginger salad I had been lapping up in the town for the last few nights. Lucky for me, and possibly for you, he happily obliged.

Simple, quick and so amazingly good – here are the recipes:

Burmese Fish Curry

Serves 4

Cooking time: 30 minutes


  • 3tbsp peanut oil                                  
  • 2 shallots, chopped very finely         
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped very finely or ground    
  • 1 small piece ginger, chopped very finely or ground
  • 2tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red curry powder    
  • 2 cups vegetable stock                 
  • 1tsp salt               
  • 1tbsp chicken stock (powder) or brown sugar
  • 1 lime juiced 
  • 2 tomatoes, pureed  (a can of chopped tomatoes would also work)
  • handful of coriander
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 500g  firm white fish pieces (such as cod, basa etc)


 1. Marinate Fish with salt, chicken stock, turmeric, curry powder and juice from the lime


2. Heat the peanut oil until hot and fry onion, garlic and ginger until golden

3.  Add marinated fish, cook on a medium heat for around 1 minute

4.  Add a handful of coriander and then the tomato puree. Cook for a further 5 minutes

5.  Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and the sliced green peppers. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes

6.  Voila! Serve with steamed rice. Ginger salad also makes an excellent accompaniment.


Ginger Salad

A bit more difficult to source ingredients for but well worth the trip to an asian grocery store if you ask me.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 30 minutes


for the salad

  • 4 white cabbage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large piece of ginger thinly sliced and soaked in water for 15 minutes. If you have some fresh tamarind or sauce to hand add a bit to the water.
  • handful of fried broad beans and peanut mix – this may be difficult to get hold of but was my favourite part of the salad! A good alternative would be a handful of nutty bombay mix.

for the dressing

  • 2 tbs Peanut oil
  • 1 tbs Sesame oil
  • 2 tbs ground peanuts
  • glug of fish oil
  • 1 tbs chick pea flour (makes a creamy tasting dressing)


  • 2 tbs dried crispy onion
  • 1 tbs dried crispy garlic
  • 2 tbs white sesame seeds

1.  Peel and thinly slice the ginger in to fine match sticks. Cover with water and soak for 15 minutes. If you have some tamarind to hand, add a piece / slosh of seasoning to the water.

2.  Thinly slice the cabbage leaves and tomatoes, put aside in a bowl. Drain the ginger and add to the mix.


3.  Add the fried broad bean / bombay mix


4. Add the peanut and sesame oil along with the chick pea flour, fish oil and ground peanuts.


5.  Mix all together. Put on serving plate / bowl and garnish with sesame seeds and the crispy garlic and onion. Serve!


Street Law: Exploring Yangon’s Legal District

I have always advocated a love for big cities when travelling.

Destinations in themselves, they are not to be side stepped for a hasty getaway to beaches or temples, holding wondrously intriguing, if not unusual insights in to daily life.

Yangon was no exception.

After arriving late on Friday night after what felt like a million goodbyes in Canberra, we touched down in sweet, smokey air which transported me right back to India.

We had chosen Myanmar (formally known as Burma) for a three week holiday / jet lag reduction measure en route to Europe. I had heard nothing but good things, ogled countless images of Bagan and was hopeful that it was still relatively untouched by Chang vests, elephant pants and banana pancakes to appease my travel snobbery.

On first impressions Yangon was wondrously hectic, glowing with life in the morning sun, and to my delight, not a Chang vest in sight! After much walking and gawking as the glow turned to searing heat, Mr S and I agreed to take a walking tour the following afternoon to explain the delights of the city.

Now the tour itself was magnificent and deserves a platform of its own (coming soon), yet it was a throw away comment which is the subject of this post.

‘Return here tomorrow and you will see lawyers lining the streets with their typewriters’

We were in downtown Yangon, colonial stomping ground of the British where every street corner reveals crumbling facades that wouldn’t look out of place in London, Bristol or Manchester.

In fact were in the Legal district: the High Court behind us, a huge, (yet disused) Law Courts building to our right and a sentencing court to our left.

Nb: This building used to be the highest court in Myanmar, however in 2008, pursuant to the new Constitution, the Supreme Court of the Union was moved to purpose built capital Nay Pyi Taw. 

This in itself was enough to pique my interest, yet when it was mentioned that the street (currently deserted aside from a few lads playing football) would come alive in the morning with lawyers doing their thing, I had to come back and see it.

boys playing football merchant road

Boys playing football on a deserted Merchant Road which would come alive the following day. Note the building in the background, the deserted Law Courts building built in 1912 soon to become a hotel complex.

Law for sale 

The next morning I dragged Mr S out of bed to head back to the street of fabled lawyers, Merchant Road, just behind Strand Road.

As promised the road was packed to the rafters with people and as we made our way down, a few stalls started to emerge advertising affidavits, powers of attorneys and other legalise looking documents typed in Burmese.


I took particular interest in an affidavit of marriage at one stall, where I pondered its wording and wondered what kind of status it would have when witnessed.

A man at the stall, seeing my interest, explained that the affidavits have to be made before getting married, though after taking a quick glance at Mr S assured me that this was only for locals. 

I asked whether he was a lawyer and tried to explain that I was training to be one but it was lost in translation. Despite this, he made my day by gifting me the affidavit along with a reminder that it is only for the Burmese people, to which I am sure Mr S could have retorted that he had nothing to worry about!

Street Law

Moving further in to the legal bazaar, typewriters and their owners, mostly men in crisp shirts and longyi’s (the national dress) began to emerge and we ducked in to a little tea shop to set up a covert monitoring post.

Now I find huge discomfort in sticking a camera in peoples faces without permission and I was not about to start here, especially to my legal brethren who would no doubt question my intentions.

Whilst my pictures are hastily snapped I hope they can convey to you the seemingly open and informal manner in which lawyers were (presumably) making, breaking and creating contracts over tea and breakfast, noodle soup mohinga.


The deals begin





Studiously working out on the street. Picture courtesy of Sofiane, who I would meet later in Kalaw


One man who we observed for a while was very productive over a half an hour period with visits from at least three different clients. Money exchanged hands first, stacks of it actually which made me wonder how much he charges per billable unit, before documents were laid out and talks began.

Next came tea, loads of tea, nothing new here then as most of the lawyers I know run on a steady flow of caffeine to navigate through the day.


Order of the day: Tea and Mohinga

Whilst I couldn’t understand what they were talking about of course, the scene  looked pretty familiar, especially when fresh faced paralegals arrived, criss crossing the street with arms full of green files, delivering them to their bosses or perhaps to court.

What struck me most though was how relaxed it all felt, I mean how great would it be to take your office outside and people watch whilst you type up that contract for sale? That and the prospect of wearing flip flops to work is very appealing.

After much observation and intrigue it was however, time to head back. It was getting blisteringly hot and Mr S had been very patient and I got the feeling I could no longer bribe him with more tea and mohinga.

And so I left a happy woman, grateful that I had seen a snap shot of my future career choice playing out on the streets of Yangon – you certainly don’t see that every day.


Canberra. What a Lovely Place. (despite what everyone says)


Public servants, Poli’s, Questacon.

If you ask any Aussie outside of Canberra what there is to do here you will often be met with a vacant stare whilst the mind searches for a distant memory of some school trip to Parliament, or maybe, more excitingly Questacon, home of the vertical slide (which many Canberrans attest is its best attraction).

Better still, if you tell anyone ‘Im moving to Canberra’ you will be met with a pitied look, a furrowed brow and a straight out, WHY?

abbot why you in canberra

Yes, Canberra is revered as something of a blight on the nation by its fellow countrymen and visitors, famously immortalised by Bill Bryson with the crushing tag line – Canberra. Why wait for death?

A planned, sprawling city with a stunted skyline, I first thought that this was a sad, yet accurate indictment when I arrived last year. My first impression was ‘where is everything?’ followed by horror at the fact that the city centre was concrete, deserted and due to close at 6pm.

However despite my initial feelings, after living here for almost a year I am full of love for Canberra. Love I am so eagerly and generously willing to share, both here and if you catch me after a few vino’s of an evening.

i heart cnberra

I would like to proceed and tell you five great things about this unusual yet fascinating place. However first, for the Brits out there at least, we may need to proceed with a brief history lesson.

If you are anything like me (only a mere few years ago) you may not have the foggiest idea of where Canberra is. I say that because Canberra to me was the name of a meeting room I used to frequent at my old job in London. When I questioned it’s whereabouts and received an answer I exclaimed aghast,“I aways thought the capital was Sydney!”. Hopefully you are better informed than I, but in any case here goes.

Melbourne: I want to be the Capital. I’m super cool and awesome.

Sydney: No I want to be the Capital! I’m older, it’s not fair!

Commonwealth: Oh sod it. Let’s just stick it here.

Upon federation in 1901, the ink barely dry on the Constitution, fighting began between Australia’s biggest cities, Melbourne and Sydney as to who was going to be crowned the nations capital.

As each considered itself a worthy contender and wouldn’t budge, a compromise was reached in 1908; the new capital would be located in the state of New South Wales and Victoria would have the honour of their flag becoming the new Australian flag with the addition of the federation star.

vic flagoz flag .jpeg                same same but different  

To keep the minds of the poli’s sharp, the deathly cold by winter, stifling hot by summer sheep populated area of Yass – Canberra was selected. At 170 miles from Sydney it met the terms of the compromise and was a clean slate on which to build. The Australian Capital Territory was born.

Given that there was bugger all there though, an international competition was launched shortly thereafter for the city’s design. The winners were husband and wife team Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, Americans who had never actually been to Australia, yet captivated the judges with their ‘garden  city’ inspired design.

Their design looked like this:


The early days looked a bit like this:

early canberra use

And it all ended up looking like this:

canberra today (use)

The first fully planned city in Australia Canberra has been going strong for just over a 100 years, which when you think of places like London or Rome really is no time at all. Today it holds a population of just shy of 400,000, forecast to grow to almost double in the next five or so years. Whilst it may be teeny tiny compared to other places, Canberra is developing all the time, from the constant popping up of flat pack houses or delivering of the deeply polarising (I am #protram) light rail planned for completion in 2019.

Anyways I have strayed from my historical overview and was about to go on and bore the pants off you as to its legal quirks and intricacies but it would be cruel to do so without at least the promise of a drink.

Lets get to the main event. Five things that are awesome about Canberra that Canberrans already know and others should know in order to reduce the incidence of Canberra bashing.

Number 1 : Its just so darn liveable!

This is a buzz phrase that has been much banded around from when Canberra was hailed the worlds most liveable city in 2014 (albeit from an organisation I have never heard of).

It got a fair bit of milage at the time, mostly from Sydney and Melbournites who  were left baffled that Canberra could come first in anything.

Hype aside,  I can say first hand that it is remarkably accurate.

Canberra has all of the things that you value day to day, such as stress free commutes (traffic, what traffic!), excellent salaries, low crime rates, low rents, good health care and heaps of services just to name a few. Never again in my life do I expect to earn a six figure salary and be a mere 10 minutes cycle from home, doing whatever I want by 5.30pm. Could you imagine the same from London? Nope. Not going to happen. Work life balance is not a term given lip service here, it’s just the norm.

Canberra also supports the possibility of living somewhere with views like this, yet being half an hour from work.


Number 2 : True to it’s Bush Capital name, it is impeccably beautiful

Whilst its buildings may not inspire, and its city centre (civic) is certainly nothing to write home about, it is inescapable that Canberra is totally gorgeous.

pretty canberra

I have, in the last few weeks been residing with Mr S in Campbell, in a lovely little suburb surrounded by gum trees and pines. Every morning I am awoken by the (slightly obnoxious) sound of Cockatoos making their presence known and have coffee with King Parrots in the garden. It’s great, I have loved living in a place with birds in all the colours of the rainbow.


Morning wake up call 

Birds aside, I absolutely adore kangaroos and they are plentiful in Canberra. Sometimes too plentiful as a colleague was telling me who described trying to find her way home in the dark surrounded by roos, wishing that Canberra was a ‘normal’ capital.



I totally dig the bush capital vibe and will miss it terribly.

Number 3 : People actually do stuff

Now this is more of a British person perspective than perhaps a Canberra specific phenomenon, though I have spoken to other Australians who endorse my observations.

Travel home on the way from work and you will see people, lots of people out doing stuff. It could be dragon boating on the lake, it could be playing netball, it could be playing football, or climbing Mt Ainslie, but they’re all at it.

boating on lake

After work punt on the lake?

The same is true of weekends where camping trips, mountain trips, beach trips or a tour of one of the many local wineries may be on the agenda. Personally I find this so different to living in the UK where my weekends used to revolve around going out on Friday and then watching X Factor on Saturday. I may have a selective memory but I recall most of my weekends back home revolving around drinking, going out and watching TV where I would get to Sunday and realise I hadn’t really done that much.


Keeping the local  vineyards afloat with a wine tour 


Steam Train’in

Don’t get me wrong all those things are fun, but I feel that was all I really did in England, whereas in Canberra I have found myself doing something new and interesting most weekends, even visiting NASA!


You can even visit NASA! 

Number 4 : There’s a sense of community and one that is actively engaged in what is going on

Despite not even being Australian, I have in the past year considered myself very much a Canberran. Never before I have felt such a connection with what is going on in a place than I have here and had that reflected back at me at dinner parties and the like.

Now my feelings in this regard could be biased by the fact that I have actually been an ACT Public servant for the last year working on a number of things from trams to prisons, but I have noticed that everyone has a view and has bothered to read the news about the governments next big endeavour, policy or the like. This is something I haven’t really experienced in the UK. Sure some people are interested and get riled about the big things, such as the decimation of the NHS or Legal Aid, but many are not and so many people have an opinion here, it’s quite refreshing.

Take for example the proposed light rail project. In my view a fantastic initiative to address the city’s woeful lack of public transport, which, in my opinion at least, will transform the city.  To say a bit more about this briefly, I have always found it quite odd that on attending a BBQ on a friday night you will find a street littered with cars so everyone can get home afterwards, unheard of in the likes of London, especially on a Friday with the promise of booze. 

Anyway I digress, this project aims to deliver the first 12km stretch of light rail to Canberra and is deeply polarising. Some people hate the idea of it, which I find fascinating, I can’t imagine people getting so fired up about such a thing back home!

lr keep calm fb


Number 5 : There’s more going on than the Canberra bashers would have you think

Canberra often gets a bad rep for being boring, a place where the young and feckless will suffer terribly on the account that the place is only good for public servants and politicians (whom it is assumed are already boring).

In my experience I have found the opposite and have found Canberra full of things to do.

In the summer it comes alive with all the trappings of it’s glitzier cousins Sydney and Melbourne – open air cinemas, festivals (not that glasto kind mind), pop up food festivals, markets, lawn parties, bowie tribute nights….I could go on.


Floriade night festival 


Not Canberra’s newest super club but Parliament House lit up for Enlighten festival 

That and Canberrans love to go out. Out out.

Friday’s and Saturday’s are heaving in the city centre, everyone dressed up to the nines, which reminds me a lot of home. Whilst the nightlife is not, admittedly, up to Sydney and Melbourne standards, there’s still more than a smattering of good bars in which to let down your hair and shake your tail feather.

So there you have it, just a few reasons why , in my humble opinion Canberra is a pretty awesome.

And it is with this is mind that I am very saddened to be leaving Canberra today. Yes today!

After just shy of a year of being here, learning so and meeting some fantastic people, I am packing my bags and heading back to Europe before my visa expires. Whilst this is not the first time that I have left a city I loved (Manchester, London, Melbourne to name a few), I feel as though one day I will return to Canberra.

For now though I am taking the best part with me in Mr S. The good and oh so comfortable life which Canberra offers  must be put on hold for large dose of uncertainty and adventure in moving to Berlin this April, with stop offs in Malaysia, Burma and Manchester.

So I will leave you with this. The next time you hear someone bagging on Canberra,  give them a jab in the ribs, for they must  be called out on their preconceptions  – it really is quite a lovely place.

A Weekend Traveller

Perhaps its waking up in a dorm surrounded by odd shoes, empty litre bottles of wine and a smattering of passports which has got me inspired again to write something after 7 months..

Bouncing out of work on Friday to come up to Sydney for uni and to meet up with Claire, my former housemate from London I was excited for the weekend, but still very much in work mode knowing I had 16 hours of law lectures to get through.

Taking a break from lectures

A break from lectures

On refection after spending the weekend drinking wine, hanging out and making friends I think I have been rather stressed of late. I’ve had so much on and it’s only July, yet i’ve had more changes in 2015 than costumes for T Swizzle on world tour.

Yes, on my quest for true love, the law and living the kind of life I would like to read about in a book I was actually a little bit knackered.

March really brought about the first big change, bagging a great job in policy I was thrust back in to the working world without so much as a day to spare after finishing working on the farm and my last exam. My home and routine changed overnight and after studying ferociously to not fail my exams (I later passed with flying colours) I felt rather dizzy from the change of pace of having only animals for company to writing briefs for the Minister.

My former best friend

My former best friend

Next came finding my own place. I loved living with Mr S for the six weeks or so it took me to get my first pay cheque but we were literally living on top of each other and I couldn’t see what I owned which I am sure most will agree is a less than ideal situation.  I went with the first one I saw, living with two cool dudes in Braddon, Canberra’s closest offering of trendy, a location choice I hope will bear fruit in the summer when it FINALLY starts to get warm again.

Then came more study, trying to line up work experience, looking for jobs as Immigration insist that I have to move round every six months whilst working to prove that hiring a working holiday maker was a good idea for the ACT Government.

So when it was put to me this weekend that I was ‘ a real person’ (i.e. primarily on the basis of working in an office and having free unimpeded access to an oven) I agreed that I was, but part of me did still want to return to the life of carefree fun and sharing a room with strangers.

‘I want to go everywhere’

Good thing for me then that Mr S, the man who so happily changed my trajectory wants to ‘go everywhere’.

Lets go everywhere

Lets go everywhere

I love this statement – I want to go everywhere. It’s like music to my ears, but also coupled with ‘I want to go everywhere and do the thing I love’ which for him, (on us moving to London next year) will be working at Google and for me getting an internship at the UN doing Space Law or my first job as a baby lawyer.

In the course of my being busy and ‘real person’ like I had lost sight of all the exciting things to come, all work and no play certainly make me a dull girl. However I think this is just a matter of perception, because I really do think you can be both a real person and do and see lots of things along the way creating your own version of what a real person looks like.

Realising this this weekend has given me a lift and made me count my blessings, which could have been the introspection or drinking ouzo in a greek restaurant with Claire at 3am, who knows.

Still, I’m grateful for the friendly face from home, the brief return to dorm life and Mr S and his infectious curiosity…I can’t wait for the next adventure.

2014 Wrapped up in a Bow

When I was 14 I used to keep a journal, page after page of which rattled on about how much I fancied a guy in my IT class, what new phone I wanted, what I had for dinner and occasionally the odd hint of a dream I had for myself as a grown up.

As most of it was mundane its probably a good thing that they were lost to the great cellar flood of 2002, yet whilst I can’t recall the content of those old dreams, now as a real grown up I make sure I write them down, as indicators of whats making me tick to help me forward in contemplating my next move.

Reading back over last years entry makes me smile. Whilst I didn’t become an Indian bike importing pannier making mogul I thought I would be, I have made steps towards one thing high on my list; creating a life and career of my choosing which makes me come alive and isn’t short on adventure.

Looking back at things I have written in the past year its easy to see where the seeds of future goals were sown and importantly, what influenced them. As a favourite quote of mine says, you never connect the dots of your life looking forwards, its always looking back, and I’m glad I have mine on paper for the days where I question what I’m doing.

But I’m not secretly working for a stationary company giving subliminal messages to you to rush out and buy a journal, what I really wanted to share was this awesome thing I nicked off Pintrest.


Apologies in advance if this came off your newsfeed but in the spirit of writing things down I saw this oh so cute idea of jotting down the awesome (or embarrassing, no judgement here) things that happen throughout your year, keeping them in a jar and then dipping in to them on New Years Eve.

As I didn’t come across this until a few months ago I’ve had to go at it retrospectively, but it’s here and its one full jar of amazingness. Some things are undoubtably big and some small, but I’m going to go at it totally pot luck and pick 12 to sum up the year, you may even feature if you’re lucky.


So here it is, 2014 in random bits of amazingness. Its been the most varied, adventurous and fun year which has seen me in all kinds of places and find that really rare and elusive thing, someone awesome to share it with. Thank you for being a part of it and here’s to 2015!!

1. Cycling through Sri Lanka and doing the thing I thought I couldn’t do

The year got off to an adventurous start cycling through Sri Lanka. Having never done any long distance cycling before and having to make panniers out of children’s school bags, it was probably the most out there thing I’ve done, yet despite the challenges it all came off! I met great people, got thighs of steel and learnt how get past aggressive dogs..



2. Making an unlikely new Australian friend

When I arrived in Melbourne it wasn’t my first time. I had been here before in 2012 on holiday with my ex boyfriend which is where I met Ollie. It makes me laugh now that we have become friends as we didn’t really see eye to eye on my first trip, but I’m glad I looked him up when I returned as he has been a good friend throughout the year.


3. Arriving in Melbourne and being welcomed by Gen

I think I will always remember the feeling I had on the Sky Bus approaching the city after I landed at the end of March, I was so excited to make Melbourne my new home! That and I was to be welcomed by my good friend Gen who I used to live with at University. Having her there in the first few weeks whilst I was finding my feet was invaluable and it’s been so nice having someone from home here for those days when you get a bit homesick.



4. The fantastic Mr S

He may be down here as number 4 but that is not to understate his place in my year. Unexpected and a tad whirlwind, meeting him has been a highlight for sure. From road tripping, helping me with my farm work and late night frog spotting expeditions (my favourite animal) I’m really excited as to what 2015 will bring and I’m sure Canberra’s Jolimont bus station will be the happiest place ever when I see him next week.


5. Moving to the farm and the generosity of my hosts

Moving to the country to commence farm work was a tall ask for me. As someone who has never lived in a place with fewer than 4 million inhabitants the quiet and remoteness of it all scared the life out of me. However I needn’t have worried as I was welcomed openly by my hosts Ruth and Tom who treated me so well in the 7 weeks I stayed with them. Now the country does’t scare me so much.



6. Fun times with Molly and sharing the Room of Dreams

Molly and I arrived in Melbourne the same week and by the time I left to do my farm work had hardly spent a week apart. When we found the self proclaimed House of Dreams in Melbourne we decided to share the huge victorian front bedroom, something I did not think I would do before I left, which turned out to be so much fun! Molly is my first American friend and its been a pleasure getting to know her the past year.



7. Seeing in the New Year in Unawatuna with Pernie

I met some fantastic people on my travels but one I will remember is Pernialla, the lovely Swede who taught me how to say alarm clock in Swedish and made me feel better when I was having a bad day. Despite having no electricity or running water on New Years Eve we got ready in the glow of my IPad and turned out looking pretty fab considering.

8. Bevan for being a constant far away friend on my travels

Bevan and I have been friends for a few years now from work yet was perhaps a friendship I understated before I left. During my trip he has been a consistent source of advice, chin up ness and being on the other end of a whatsapp when I was sick in India or hating Thailand. His presence certainly made those low times more bearable and I’m grateful we are still friends.

9. Despite living like an 18 year old for a large proportion of the year getting my shit together and re finding my passion

As I spoke about a few months ago my time in Australia has been the starting point to me to taking some action and start working towards a career goal for myself. Whilst spending long days in the library deciphering conflicting statements of law may not be the most fun use of my working holiday for me its been an essential part of the year as I finally feel like I am working towards something I actually want. The first few months of 2015 are going to be full on with four exams in March but I’m enjoying the challenge and look forward hopefully qualifying as a lawyer in spring 2016.



10. The House of Dreams and its many tales and parties

Ah the self proclaimed House of Dreams, how I will miss it! An old victorian house that now hosts 12, it has been the backdrop to endless fun and friendships that I hope will last long after the house has vacated. In many respects living in the house has been like a second university experience for me, we’ve had umpteen parties, a HOD pool, a HOD cat and so many mammoth dinner parties, the most recent being Christmas Day where I cooked for 20! I will certainly miss everyone when I leave for good next week and hope the spirit of HOD will live on!



11. A spontaneous trip to the underwater caves in Palawan

The day I arrived in Palawan I was in a bad mood following a slightly scary encounter on the island of Guimaras and didn’t want to speak to anyone. Luckily French Canadian Gabrielle was able to see through my steely exterior and convinced me to take a trip with him and New Yorker Adrian to the underwater caves the following day. The trip was one of my favourite memories from my travels and taught me a little lesson in getting over bad moods!



And finally…

12. Living in a hostel for 3 months

Yes sharing a dorm for 3 months was actually a highlight! Again something I did not think I would be doing before I left, my time at Back of Chapel was full of fun and was the place where I met almost all of my friends and S. It was a fantastically care free time, one which I may not so again and again for which I am very thankful for.




A Bumpkin in Training

Fearing I wouldn’t actually make it to Canberra in the worst turbulence, I clutched on with dear life to an extended friendly hand, peering out of the window at rolling hills and a rather odd shaped looking dam. Though I didn’t know it yet the dam would be close to my new home and even more stunning on the ground, yet high up in the air (aside from hoping I didn’t die) I couldn’t help but wonder where all the buildings were given that we were only 5 minutes from landing.

Where is everything?

Where is everything?


Skipping through the airport excited to be reunited with my long distance lover, S (as he will now be known in true Bond style), I noted that Canberra airport had all the markings of what would be expected from a capital city but none of the people. However this didn’t bother me, as I was only looking for one person who scooped me up and whisked me away to unpack and get ready for a traditional evening of Australian fun…er, Ocktoberfest.

Can “lets get fu@!ked up” berra

On the drive back a few things became apparent. Canberra was very flat, sprawling and had no skyline. In absence of tall buildings I started to panic, ‘where is everything?!’ I demanded of S, yet he assured me that there was a city, it just probably wouldn’t be what I’m used to. Hmm, I was dubious, and as we passed more and more houses that looked like they came from the same factory I started to wonder if I had entered some strange Stepford world.

Still, Ocktoberfest beckoned and as we approached the front gate a scene of utter carnage fell before my very eyes: vomit on lederhosen, staggering stein clad girls and one unfortunate chap who was being wheeled on to an stretcher with blood all down his face.

Now I must have stayed too long in nanny state Victoria as my brain started to bleat ‘how is everyone so messed up? whatever happened to the responsible sale of alcohol?!’. However such views were promptly silenced by my native Manchester brain which started to feel all warm and fuzzy, like i’d just stumbled across derby day in a pub in Piccadilly. They like to party, I think i’m going to like it here…

As two sore heads emerged the next day, S substantially more than I (owing to my steely northern blood), it was time to get ready for the farm. Stopping off at Lake Burley Griffin I was still concerned over a lack of buildings and felt sick with worry about what awaited me on the farm. I was well and truly out of my comfort zone with Melbourne feeling as far away as London, and as we drove up the driveway I started to cry.

An English Country Manor

My melodrama was however completely unfounded. The house, perched on a beautiful hill top surrounded by hills, geese and horses is owned by the loveliest couple who as it happened are British!

Take away the kookaburras and cockatoos and this could be an English country manor in the Oxfordshire countryside with BBC Radio 4 on tap and enough tea to service a small army.

The House

The House

Room with a view

Room with a view


Work started the next day with feeding the animals, cultivating crops and spraying a whole load of weeds with a quad bike, certainly different to anything I have done before. More would come in the weeks which followed from nursing baby chicks back to life, chasing baby pigs and building (then subsequently leaning on) a fence, which I am told is one of life’s great pleasures.

My favorite customer

My favorite customer



Chicken hospital

Chicken hospital


Though initially the quiet unnerved me I have grown to love my country life, the familiar gaggle of geese outside my window and being woken up by the cock with the dodgy crow (he sounds like he’s being strangled).

In many respects its a kitsch existence, very 1940’s, like the war is on and I’ve been evacuated to my Aunt and Uncles in the countryside, and with S regularly trundling up the driveway to whisk me away for picnics and BBQ’s in the city a very romantic one too.

But its not all work then lounging about, I still had my other goal to achieve once my farm work for the day was done, becoming an Australian lawyer.


Only a week in and I was leaving for the weekend to enrol at Sydney University, or Hogwarts as christened by S who insisted on humming the theme tune all weekend. Though more than happy with studying at Nottingham Trent a whole (gulp) nine years ago, I had always been attracted to the Red Brick University, though didn’t get the grades to go. On arriving on campus at Sydney, Australia’s oldest university, I was thrilled with the old buildings, student ovals and impressive law building. I felt so privileged to have the opportunity to study again and vowed to give it 100%.

*insert Harry Potter theme tune here*

*insert Harry Potter theme tune here*


First day!

First day!

Not a bad place to hit the books

Not a bad place to hit the books

So one month in my farmer law student gig is going well with fence building by day and federal law by night. And with the arrival of a French couple who are also working and meeting some of S’s friends i’ve had some company and my yearning for the buildings is slowly waning….maybe I am finding my country legs after all 🙂

One year on: Law, Alpacas and the Nations Capital….

They say when it rains it pours and for me when the winds of change blow they certainly blow a gale!

As I finish my job today at Victoria’s Department of Justice, exactly one year to the day since I left the UK, I’m gearing up to move on to (literally) pastures new to become an alpaca grooming, pig feeding farmer law student up on the boarder of New South Wales and Canberra.


Yes thats right, a farmer law student. Once told in jest that my life ‘sounds like a sitcom’to which I decided to be complimented, not offended, the past year has taught me that no plan is too crazy and no goal too unobtainable. So when I started to think again about what I wanted to do on re entering the western world in March (not that it hadn’t followed me around like a bad smell during five months of travelling) it came to me, and it had been there all along, I wanted mastery, I wanted purpose and I wanted to become a lawyer.

Realisation of such fact, quietly and unremarkably whilst sat in bed one night, was a joyous occasion. I had spent years feeling unsatisfied with the path I was on but feeling paralysed to do anything about it (see Going East) yet when I really took the time to search for it there were signs and signals all along that this was what I really wanted to do. I was no longer confused, no longer bound by my own sense of inadequacy and ready to commit to my choice.

And so I started to think, whats the most bad ass way to become a lawyer?

Law, Alpacas and the Nations Capital

With going home to train discounted as expensive as potentially quite dull as I would need to live somewhere awful in order to survive, I decided to stay in Australia to complete my quest. A few assessments and frantic last minute shipping of degree certificates later (you’re the best Fiona) I had my application to study an extra six Law subjects accepted by the University of Sydney to commence long distance in November.


National Service

But with only six months left on the visa clock, to which my studies would take up four, I needed to get me a second year, and that involved completing Australia’s national service for backpackers: farm work.

Yes 88 days of pure, unadulterated cow milking, fruit hurling, pig clearing farm work in a rural location of your choosing. At first the very thought struck fear in to my heart, I am a city girl through and through, I have never so much as spent more than a long weekend in the country and here I had to go and spend 3 MONTHS out there?! All through my Melbourne winter I dreaded the day I would have to leave good coffee, avocado rich breakfasts and brick exposed bars behind in favour of poo and wellies.

But as my my plans evolved and I knew I would be studying my perception changed, a farm would be the perfect place to begin study again with fresh air, sunshine and only pigs and cows to distract me.

But then another remarkable thing happened..

I met a boy. Though i’m back tracking on my timeline a bit here (I have woefully neglected my updates with all of Melbournes distractions) we met in May at my hostel where he was staying for the weekend, . Though we had only hung out for a day or so there was defiantly some good vibes and when he left to head home to Canberra, some 7 hours away I turned to my friend Colin, made a sad face and sighed a kind of ‘oh there goes another good one’ kind of sigh.

But Colin was more intuitive than I, gave me a big old smile and said ‘Ohhhh Becky, I think he’s coming back’.

Turns out he was right! A few long distance drives and a very awesome road trip at the start of September has led me to starting my farming not too far out of the nations capital so he can exist more than just in my laptop, which of all the new prospects is one I am very much looking forward to 🙂

So there we have it, one year on from balling my eyes out like I was heading to war on the flight to Delhi and oh how things have evolved and changed. This past year has educated me in more ways than I could have imagined and at the risk of sounding like a smelly stilton one thing I have learnt is that fortune really does favour the brave if you have the balls to pursue it.

I can’t wait to see what the next twelve months will bring…!

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