Sunday, September 30, 2018

Catch Up

Hello world. 

How long it's been.

I'm amazed that it's been about nine months since I have written on this blog. I guess at first booktube took over my life. I enjoyed updating you all on the books I was reading and the life I was living through video. It's a fabulous way to feel more personal with you all. I never thought I would completely abandon my blog, a page I have been writing on for more years than I can count. But I haven't been writing at all. I finished the first draft of my latest novel entitled 'It Was You' and after that, I have taken a hiatus from writing anything other than short and useless Facebook updates. That is the extent of my writing career these days. How sad. 

So let us catch up.

The move to Australia to be with my Tinder match (and now love of my life), was as hard as you could possibly imagine. 

I started out looking like that picture of me in the glorious red bikini. 

And have since gained more kilograms than I care to admit. 
Of course I have been happy with my man. He treats me like no one else ever has. I have finally found a real gentleman. The way he looks at me, touches me and treats me is more than I could ever ask for. I finally know what it feels like to be truly loved and respected. 
I KNOW he would never cheat on me, hit me, hurt me or put me down. He is everything I could ever ask for and more. 
But I have to admit being away from my friends and family has been hard. A lot harder than in Spain because this time it truly feels like it's forever. I guess a part of me always knew Simon and Spain was always temporary. I know that now even though back then I couldn't see past it. When you get cheated on with eight other women and beaten and kicked when you're down, you become a version of yourself so weak and so downright disgusting it is difficult to dig yourself out of that rut. The self-confidence is shattered, the zest for life has shriveled. Mark has helped bring that back out in me BUT I have realised that I have put my complete self into my relationship with Mark and have given absolutely no space to be me.... to make my own life... and I need to do that. And lately that is what I have been doing and it has been making me feel so thrilled and alive.
I have my man. 
But I also have myself. 

I've finally stopped letting the anxiety and the panic, the self doubt and the awful voice in my head stop controlling my life. I've been putting myself out there. I have been meeting like-minded people, making friends, eating healthier, starting to SLOWLY run... burn off some of those kilograms I gained in the months leading up to the moment of taking my life back.

I have read 70 books this year. I have started a bookish podcast and I have been fueling my life with my passions. I am happy.

Australia is never somewhere I envisioned myself being. I didn't have a dream to be here. I didn't find Australia particularly fascinating... yet it is here I have been able to really and truly learn myself. I have started seeing a psychologist about my anxiety and my trust issues. About my past of being hurt and beaten and raped and abused not only physically but mentally too. It's been a long and slippery slope. But friends, I am doing it. I have been able to dress up and let my hair down. I've gone dancing and haven't let anxiety get the better of me. I have made friends, some of which I really feel care for me and will be with me no matter what for the rest of my life. 

I'm not quite writing again yet but I am going to. I have so many ideas swirling around in my chaotic head. They will be set free soon.

But for now I wanted to tell you about my venture. My new business... my everything.

My bookish podcast, Books and Booze. 

It has been an incredible journey  setting it up, learning how to start a podcast and learning the ropes. I have been researching and getting educated on a world so far from what I'm used to. Technology.
I've learnt how to edit using Audacity. I've started taking my Goodreads book reviews to the next level and talking ABOUT them and sharing my thoughts with hundreds to soon to be thousands of listeners. I have been trying out Libsyn as my podcast host and so far it has all been so much easier than I ever thought it would be. It's not easy breezy but what I'm saying is GO for what you want. Make it happen. You ARE capable of achieving what you want. 

I hope to be back soon, but if I'm not which is probably just as likely... just know I am doing well and living my best possible life.

I hope you are too. 

Jade - September 2018

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Not Bali... Australia!

I should be used to life changing like the flick of a switch by now... but I'm not.

Today is supposed to be the start of my new life. It's supposed to be exciting... and it is... yet today is bringing with it memories. Haunting memories like when I moved to Spain to be with someone. It turned out to be the worst year of my life. It has scarred me both physically and emotionally forever - and it is ruining what should be such a special day for me.

I even woke up with a horrific dream about my ex fiance. It wasn't a night terror like I used to get, but it was almost worse. I don't want either him or Slimy Simey taking up any part of my life now yet it seems I cannot escape them.

Before meeting this handsome Aussie, I'd made certain rules which I mention in some of my previous blog posts. Some of them were as follows:
Never trust anyone ever again.
Never let your guard down.
Never open up to anyone.
Never ever put someone before myself again.
Never move to be with someone.
Never fall in love.

Handsome Aussie has me breaking all of those rules. All. Of. Them.
A part of me wants to scream at myself, tell myself I never learn. Another part of me is proud that my past experiences hasn't completely broken me. I thought it had. I thought I was going to be a cynical, bitter woman for the rest of my days... no exaggeration.
It's still having a huge impact on my life. Certain little things eat away at me like an aggressive cancer. It's something I need to work on myself... my confidence has just been shattered and I hate that. I used to be the most secure, confident person. I miss her. I never used to have trust issues. I wish there was an easy way to fix it. Part of me worries that I am broken in a way that can never be repaired... but wouldn't you be, too? What I went through is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. The deceit, the mind-games, the absolute disgust and the hurt... the pain. The abuse. It was a nightmare.
Handsome Aussie didn't understand why I got so emotional, irritated and angry the other day when he tried to talk to me about my time in Spain. He doesn't understand that it's something I wish I could forget. He made a point saying there must be some good memories from my time there and yes, while there were, they make me sick to my stomach... because it was all a lie. I had the sheets pulled over my eyes the entire time and I looked like an absolute idiot to everyone around me.
It's something I would pay to forget because if I could, I'd be able to trust handsome Aussie now... and while a huge part of me feels like he deserves all of my trust in the world, another part of me is too cautious. And there have been certain things that have me worried. Obviously he was with other people when he was traveling after we met and that doesn't really bother me. I knew about it and he never tried to hide it... but there's other things. Things I'm still trying to work through in my head before I feel comfortable enough sharing them on this stupid online journal that absolutely no one reads. This is just my unedited release of my emotions I suppose.

I'm proud of myself that I'm working towards this exciting future with him despite my concerns and my nerves. It's far from where I imagined my life ending up. The plan for 2018 was always to pack up and live a minimalist life in Bali, finally writing my novel. I'd finally made it a plausible option; a reality... and just as I was in the final planning stages, handsome Aussie crashes into my existence and alters everything.

I'm this blend of terrified and excited all at once.

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Australian Working Holiday Visa 417

This morning I woke up in a dorm room in Canggu, Bali, believing I was about to spend Christmas alone for the first time in my life. To be honest, if you have to spend the holidays alone, Indonesia is not a bad place to be! Even with it being the rainy season here and the last week it has rained continuously, it has been the most soul reviving trip. I needed it. There's plenty you can do here while it's raining.

Attend the Canggu Jewelry Class

I have fallen head over heels for Silversmithing over the past few days in Bali. I think I've found something I'd really like to pursue in between writing novels!!
For one lesson (3 hours) it's 600,000 IDR including the materials and 5 grams of silver. You pay extra for stones and any more silver you use. The trainers are amazing, so helpful and talented.
I did two classes and wish I could have done more but I ran out of time.
The two rings you see above I made!! Had a lot of help of course and it's going to take years to become good at it but wow... it's so fascinating and fun!! It's really tough too!!! Requires a fair bit of muscle, a good eye for detail and a lot of creativity!

Attend an Authentic Balinese Cooking Class

Periuk Bali Balinese Cooking Class was a fantastic day out in Ubud!!! I made 11 Balinese dishes which I got to eat afterwards with the other travelers attending the class. The teachers are again absolutely wonderful people, really helpful and informative. They give you heaps of information not only on cooking but also teach you loads about the Balinese culture. We visited a local market, sampled divine foods and got to look out at the rice fields and learn more about how they work! 

Enjoy a Bintang or a juice overlooking the incredible Tegallalang Rice Terraces

This is something I literally HAD to do before leaving Bali... and you can see why with that view. I mean.... WOW.
This was taken at the Lumbung Sari Warung restaurant. I had hoped to get there and enjoy a nice glass of wine or a cocktail while looking out at the view but unfortunately the only alcoholic beverage served is Bintang (the pricing of which is extortionate!!! Expect to pay almost 40,000 IDR for a small beer...). I sipped on an avocado juice which was more like a chocolate milkshake to be honest.

You can walk through the fields if you want to but I didn't due to the rain. There's heaps of markets around so bring some spare cash if you want to do any shopping... and don't forget to barter!!!!

Taste traditional Luwak Coffee (the most expensive coffee in the world and made with poo!)

Guess what guys.... it tastes like normal coffee!! Haha. It is said to have a lower amount of caffeine in it though which means it is healthier. You also sample a massive amount of tea here which is really interesting and get a full tour of the making of Luwak coffee. You even get to see the animals it comes from.

Swing way up high above the rice paddies

This picture is priceless... but the swing itself, situated right by the Luwak coffee tasting, is pretty pricey!! It's 200,000 IDR for the super swing as seen in the photograph above. You get 15 swings.... but there's no denying it... it's beautiful. Was it worth it??? Yes. Every penny.


I've been waiting out my Working Holiday Visa in Bali for the past week. I applied for it 30 days ago in Tim Horton's, Canada. It said the application process can take between 16 - 32 days so I figured I got unlucky due to the festive season. There's been a big backlog over December. There was nothing I could do but wait it out and just as I'd finally accepted that I was going to be spending Christmas alone in Bali, I woke up this morning with a lovely email notifying me that I've been granted the visa!!!

Although I'm British and hold a British passport, I have lived in South Africa for most of my life and hold a South African passport too. I also lived in Spain for a year within the last five years and this information all had to be in my application form. I think that extra information made my visa application take longer. 

Being in South Africa, a medical examination had to be done to ensure I was free of tuberculosis. That in itself was an experience and a half!!! South Africa, I am sorry to say, is useless. 
One week after applying for my visa, I was asked to provide health clearance and they only accept certain doctors / hospitals to provide this evidence. I was in Cape Town at the time and the doctors there only had availability for me in over a week... that would have slowed down my visa even more so I called every other acceptable hospital I could and eventually found a slot in Durban. As I'd never been to Durban and had always wanted to, I jumped at the chance. Flights were craaaaazy expensive though so my boyfriend and I embarked on a roadtrip to Durban. From Knysna in the Garden Route it should have taken us just over 13 hours....... but...... I'll admit it..... I'm terrible at directions. I got us HORRIBLY lost in an African township and we had to sleep there on a dirt-road in our car overnight. We eventually found our way out of the township though and made it to Durban safely where I had my medical done, then enjoyed Durban!!! We cycled along the promenade, skinny dipped in the ocean and gorged on curry.

On the way back to Knysna we had a pit stop in one of my favorite parts of South Africa, Jeffrey's Bay. We squeezed in a surf in lovely warm water and then headed back home.

I applied for my visa online and had no help from anyone which made things slightly more stressful. The hospital never let me know that they had cleared me of TB and sent off my medicals to the Australian government and there's this button on the Australian Immi website when you've logged in that says, Information Provided. You're supposed to click it when all the info you've been asked for is in. I didn't click mine for days and was really upset with the hospital for not letting me know that my forms were already submitted. BUT.... when I called the Australian high commission to find out if this would slow down the process they said no. They told me you don't really have to click the information provided button... but like I said, South Africa is a bit useless at times so I'd click it anyway. Just a heads up! 

Anyway... thereafter I heard NOTHING from the Aussie government for weeks. I was really stressing out, wondering if I'd done the application correctly, started stressing that I'd missed something or hadn't provided evidence of something they needed. I started googling other peoples horror stories about their visa taking up to two months which petrified me!!
The only time I heard from them again was when my visa was granted, this morning!!! It was exactly a month after my application, so it was a long wait... but it's going to be worth it! 

So, my dear readers, tomorrow I am heading off to beautiful Australia for the first time ever to meet my incredible, sexy boyfriend's family and friends... and start my new life in Brisbane!!!! 

I am insanely excited for this new start. 

In the past when I left home to move to Spain to be with Simon and work on the yachts and even when I moved to Cape Town to be with Lyndon, I'd cried. Leaving had been hard. It's not easy leaving behind everything you know. Your family, friends and pets. But when I hopped on a plane to start this move to Australia, there wasn't one tear shed. I was overcome with this sense of calm... it just felt like I was doing the right thing. I feel like I am on the right path... like I am right where I am supposed to be.

There's this Irish proverb that goes, 'Your feet will take you where your heart is.' 
I am pretty sure I'm on my way there....

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thriller Recommendations for Newbies

Hi Bookies!

I LOVE thrillers - so while we're in the spooky month of Halloween, I thought I'd recommend 5 thrillers all for very different reasons. 
From a book in the genre that is probably the most well-known and therefore a great place to start (it was my very first thriller read!!) to a book recommended for those of you who are more comfortable with the sci-fi / fantasy genre... there's a book for everyone here:

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Meaning of Semicolon Tattoo

My body is my canvas.... and yesterday I added to my personal, walking art collection.
I am my own gallery of meanings.

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A rather handsome tattooist named Baden graciously offered me a bottle of wine while he got to work with Fleetwood Mac oozing from the speakers in the background last night.

I got 3 new tats - and it was a struggle to force myself not to get more once we'd got started!

These are the ones I did get though:

The Semicolon Tattoo
Meaning: A semicolon is a powerful tattoo for those of us who have ever battled with mental health... whether it be depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or addiction. 
A semicolon, simply put, means you could have stopped but you chose to carry on. 
It is an inspiring symbolic representation of your strength for not giving up.

The viking symbol for creating your own reality (thumb tattoo)
Meaning: You could interpret this tattoo however you like, really. For me, it is a tattoo for writers. I am a writer... and as a writer we create our own worlds / realities for our novels all the time. It is a representation of my passion for writing and immersing myself into it.

Thigh Quote Tattoo for Women 

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Meaning: I find thigh quote tattoos, if done daintily, stunning on women. Find a quote that means something to you or reminds you of someone you have love or lost. 
This tattoo on my thigh isn't for anyone else but me, though.
It says:

"She is at a place in her life where peace is her priority and negativity cannot exist."

I love it. 

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The top of the thigh tattoo had some pretty painful moments when Baden was busy but the tattoo that hurt the most this time around was DEFINITELY the semicolon on my finger. It was right on that joint! The smallest tattoo of them all yet the most painful!

The things we do to ourselves :)

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