Bright in Brighton

There’s a smell of fried food in the air, and seagulls flying over our heads, scouring the beach in order to locate their next meal. As the waves come violently crashing on the smooth rocks, kitschy 80s music (think Madonna’s single Lucky Star or Simple Minds’ Don’t You Forget About Me) can be distinctly heard from the pier, and every now and then a man’s voice comes on to wish eager travellers a happy birthday. This, compounded with the sound of rides like bumper cars and ferris wheels, makes for a cheery atmosphere of laisser-aller and kicking back in the English sun. Welcome to Brighton!

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View of the pier from the beach

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Cumulo nimbus love

Despite the on/off sunlight (those beautiful clouds can be torturous), the saline air is warm and much needed as we slowly slip into a food coma, courtesy of last hour’s fish and chips (…and tartar sauce. Soooooo much tartar sauce.). British boys are lazily lying in the sun and smoking to my right, I hear an Italian boy repeatedly scream “ragazzi!” from the deceptively cold water on my left, and cutesy naked babies can be seen on all sides of the beachfront, venturing into the chilly water with their watchful mothers treading closely behind.

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Fish and Chips

…But more about the fish and chips! On our way to Brighton, we were indeed expecting to dig into a comfort food meal of greasy yet fresh fried fish and chunky chips, lathered in tartar and tomato sauce. And we got just that after discovering a small eatery about halfway on the boardwalk, The Bigfish Trading Co. As we gathered our small cardboard boxes and settled on a sunny outdoor terrasse, we slowly uncovered the treasure within our boxes and munched away, not caring for simple conversation, because why bother talking when you can eat? Exactly.

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The beginning of the food coma

A little later we decided to explore more of Brighton and stumbled upon Brighton’s Royal Pavilion, which was converted into an Indian war hospital during WWI. The dome itself was a huge and impressive structure in the Taj Mahal style, overlooking a beautiful garden of colourful flowers and an open field where travellers had gathered that day around a musician.

It was with much reluctance that we departed after an afternoon of walking on the busy boardwalk, enjoying classic British comfort food, lazily lying in the sun, and taking it all in at once.

Brighton, I will be back.

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Mind The Gap

Tired, invaded by impromptu lady cramps (and the constant changes in body temperature), annoyed by the flight delay, and quite frankly displeased with having to fly given these conditions, it is with much determination (and a lot of energy) that I boarded the plane at the last minute (confusing the gate number with my seat number was quite lovely. I blame Midol). Needless to say, I passed out on the plane and next thing I knew, I was in London (and in a much better place; #timesolveseverything).

Upon landing in a wet and grey London, we were pointedly told to “Mind the gap” as we stepped into the tube and began our adventure. After surviving Piccadilly Line (WHY YOU SO SLOW?!), the ladies and I got acquainted with P’s cousin over a late lunch at Pimlico Fresh. A vegetable lasagne and a long refreshing walk later, we found ourselves surrounded by a horde of busy and noisy tourists (look who’s talking) nearly stepping over each other (I was probably one of them) to get the perfect shot of Westminster Abbey and the Big Ben.

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Westminster Abbey and Big Ben

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Big Ben

The architectural details and grandiosity of it all pretty much blew my mind and just as I thought it couldn’t get any better, the London sun peeked from out of the clouds, its rays hitting the gold details of our beloved Big Ben. Like I said, mind. blowing.

Walking further down we realized we were too late for the pride parade, but we knew it wasn’t too late for a cold Pimm’s on a terrasse (in our defense, it was Pimm’s O’ Clock).

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Pimm's all day err day

…and doing some photography on our way back to M’s place (hello London Eye!).

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What then ensued was a taste of the months to come: Packing and repacking and repacking and repacking… Yup. I hadn’t backpacked in a while and had forgotten the steep yet quick learning curve when it comes to the Art Of Packing (and it seems I always make myself forget how horrible packing is… WHY YOU DO THAT, JANICE?!). To give you an idea of the fun we had that night, please enjoy a photo of a desperate P amid an island of clothes, gear, and toiletries. You’re welcome.

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P going slightly crazy

Until next time, you will find me either packing (ohhh bloody hell!) or sightseeing London or working on my British accent. Cheerio!

Introducing: Mr. Bingley!

I met Mr. Bingley out of sheer coincidence one day after visiting the Montreal Biodome with my friend R. As I lingered among the numerous stuffed animals, novelty keychains, and a myriad of other animal-themed gifts and accessories that the Biodome Boutique has to offer, a small brown turtle caught my eye. He was barely noticeable amidst all the other figurines, but I knew he would make a great travel companion. After all, he was a turtle (you’d know why this matters if you read this section).

Mr Bingley

Mr. Bingley is my travel object, an object that I will carry with me from now on, and who I will photograph wherever the wind blows me. Just as my quirks couldn’t annoy you even more (I’m sorry! … Not really), I named Mr. Bingley after Charles Bingley, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s best friend.

Whoooaaa. Wait. What??

Being the major Jane Austen fan that I am, it was my duty to designate my travel object by the name of one of my favourite characters from the novel Pride and Prejudice. Despite his flaws, you can always count on Charles Bingley in remaining light-hearted, charming, full of life, and spontaneous. If those are not great qualities for my travel object, I’m not sure which ones are!

I guess it’s also important for me to mention why I chose a turtle as my travel object. My love for reptiles and turtles aside, I chose a turtle because we have a lot to learn from these intriguing creatures. Sure, turtles are physically restricted, but I like to think that these animals epitomize patience, taking one’s time, and being in the moment. For these reasons, Mr. Bingley will be my constant reminder to slow down and take it all in as I venture off into the wild.

Curious to see where Mr. Bingley has been? Check him out here!

What Remains

If you had told the 4 year old me that I would someday be travelling to East Africa, I would’ve likely looked at you with big brown eyes filled with wonder, fascination, and a hint of inquisitiveness as if to say: “What is this magical land of which you speak?”

Although I would’ve gladly stepped into my loose-fitted tan corduroy overalls and hurriedly packed a suitcase full of dolls, books, and Dunk-a-Roos (#alltheyum #noguilt), it’s very likely that the 4-year old me, albeit untainted by adulthood’s realism, would never have fully understood her destination or her purpose for travelling. Same goes for the 14 year old me, who wouldn’t even have had the time to listen to you, too preoccupied with bad hair days, finding the perfect songs to play in her discman, and generally being dramatic; “Like, OMG, for reeeaaal!” For real what? The teenage me really had no idea…

...but she did know that discmans were pretty darn awesome

…but she did know that discmans were pretty darn awesome

But for real, let’s get real now (oh wait…). We all carry our childhood on our shoulders, in our minds, and in our memories. Although 4-year old Janice now seems like a foreign and strange being (Who in their right mind crosses a street without looking to their left and right to retrieve a basketball?!), I now know that she’s there all around me with each passing day, to remind me the importance of living in the present and taking the time to play.

July '94 in Toronto, ON

July ’94 in Toronto, ON

Although our conceptions of play are now different, I know that mini Janice is pleased as punch in regards to my plans for the next couple of years: travelling, teaching abroad, living in the moment, and taking the time to just BE. Sure, I could be getting on with my career, finding a nice guy, and marrying in a couple of years but if I did that, I’d be letting down my inner child. Looks like mom and dad are in for a sad surprise! #oops

At this point a quote by Henry David Thoreau comes to mind: “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” It is with these words that I step forward and embrace the months and years to come, equipped with my knowledge and skills but also with my childhood spirit, the latter propelling me forward and ensuring that I forever appreciate the beauty of novelty.

T-19 days

#hardtimes

#hardtimes