Bloggers’ Secret Santa – Why I Admire Lauren from Laurensbackpackandblog

Dear Lauren,

A few days after I knew I got you for Secret Santa, I sat down and read every single one of your posts, start to finish, and I smiled the whole way through. It might seem strange to open with this but I love your writing style, how refreshing it is and how much your posts have taught me. I know that at the moment, you’re most likely still in Bosnia celebrating Christmas so I wanted to give you a present of words. I hope that this can show you how much I’ve valued you giving your thoughts to the world and how, I think, everyone should learn from what you’ve learned.

The first thing I learned about you was that you travelled the world and when I knew that, I couldn’t wait to read what experiences you’ve had. It must be amazing to have seen so many different cultures, from European to Asian to even our one in the United Kingdom. Meeting new people is a central part of that – I remember you said it made you happy – and I bet you have a wealth of stories to tell from lives you’ve come across. From this, you have an open mind and you’ve seen snippets of sights that a lot of people will never see in their lifetime; I’m proud of you for taking something from each moment and for living, laughing and being so cheerful throughout. To me, your life seems like an amazing journey and I think it’s so important that everyone should open their minds to new ways of living so that they can see how people live in different countries that aren’t their own. You could teach me a lot and I’d love to sit down with you and talk for hours about everything you’ve seen.

One of my favourite posts of yours was about your trip to Bulgaria and about the good and bad experiences there. I’ve never been to that country but like you said, it’s a shame it’s often overlooked because it sounds beautiful. Even for your negative experiences, I can tell that it changed you as a person in a wonderful way. I also loved reading about St. Nicholas’ Day in Bosnia and also your journal entries because they showed me a day-to-day life that is so different to mine. I loved it; I thrive off learning about new people and it’s been so fascinating to read about Montenegro, your upcoming trip to Spain and also the fact that Japan inspired you to travel.

You’ve taught me so much and in this short time, I feel like I know you, as weird as that sounds. I had no idea what Workaways were before I read your post and they’re so interesting. You’ve shown me that there’s far more to life than just school, that the world holds so many undiscovered secrets and that the people who uncover them should treasure them. You, and by extension your family, have shown me that community, love and respect go a long way, that even when times get tough, there’s always a new destination. That might sound really cheesy but I’m honestly so grateful to you for broadening my mind and letting me see the worlds you live in, if only in posts and your words.

Another one of my favourite things about your blog is how you talk about your family. I’m guessing you have to be quite a close-knit group and it’s beautiful to see that in writing. The fact that you go travelling together, that you try and stick with each other and that you all have such vibrant personalities fills me with happiness. I’m going to be checking out your sisters blogs too – give my lov: to all your family, won’t you? I think that you’re all incredible people and I admire you so much.

I want to talk to you a little about confidence. When I read your writing, it shocked me that you were 13: you worry that your writing isn’t mature enough but I think it’s perfect. You have such a chatty, bubbly personality: don’t let expectations of others get rid of that. Let yourself shine through, rather than something that others want you to be. You’re already so true to yourself and you have nothing to worry about in terms of your writing style. The messages you convey, like positivity and open-mindedness, are far more important than how you write them – and yes, I did just say that!

Always continue doing what you’re doing. I can’t wait to read more of your work and now, I can finally binge-comment on your posts without you guessing I’m your Secret Santa! I hope you have a beautiful day and that the rest of Bosnia goes well!

Love from Elm xx

My Tenerife Holiday!

Hi!
I’ve pretty much been silent for the last few days because I went to Tenerife, as I said in this post. It was such a nice holiday and finally, two days after I got back, I want to update you on it. There were both good points and bad points but luckily, the good outweighed the bad.

My mum, sister and I went last Friday to the airport, getting up at a painful 5 in the morning. As usual, I’d packed last minute at 11 the night before so everything was rushed; I was tired; I barely spoke to anyone in the 4 hours between waking up and getting on the plane. I don’t remember much of it honestly. The plane journey was uneventful apart from me falling asleep (which I never do). How do people manage to always sleep on planes? I got horrific pins and needles and my neck ached.

When we actually arrived, it was boiling. Really, really hot – 30 degrees! Compared to England I felt as if I was in a dessert but I refused to complain. I was used to hot weather, of course (I really wasn’t) and so I’d be dignified and get used to it. After whining about how much sun there was for about half an hour, we arrived at the apartment we’d rented for the 6 days. Although it was small, it was surprisingly airy with a balcony outside; my sister and I shared a room and I spent about 20 minutes frantically organising my clothes, moving them around when I didn’t like how I placed them and generally stressing as I always do.

Pretty early on, I realised that neither I nor my mum or sister could speak Spanish. That didn’t stop the other two from trying: on the first day, we managed to order something in Spanish before realising there was an English menu on the back, talk to the man in charge of the building in which we could only say “thank you” and me screeching over their mispronunciation of words (not that I could talk). It was pretty boring except for me inwardly fangirling in the supermarket when I heard a song from Eurovision on the radio. I would have been embarrassed but my family were too busy looking at fruit to notice my singing.

After a not too shitty night’s sleep, I woke up feeling irritated for no good reason. On Saturday, we went to the closest beach, neglecting to realise that it was really, really windy. So windy, in fact, that it was like we were in a miniature sandstorm. It hurt like hell; I hate sand anyway but when it’s being pelted at you at high speed, it’s even worse. Apart from me aggressively trying to wipe sand off of every single part of my body, it was alright until we decided to leave. Then, my legs felt like they were being pricked by needles and my hat ran away, causing my sister to chase it. By the time we got back, I had sand in my ears and also on my eyelids.

After that unpleasant experience, we just went to the pool. I rang a friend and attempted to relax. That day went into a blur because most of it was spent trying to get sand out, although I did start reading a book which has taken over my life. Bloody typical.

Sunday was significantly less stressful. We went to another beach – do you sense a pattern? – that was less windy. I actually sunbathed, read a section from one of the most interesting 18th century books ever and then we ate lunch at the most adorable little Tapas bar. I barely thought to be worried about anything that day, except the buying of a new book which I didn’t even read that day either. Instead, I wrote creatively for the first time in months: it felt amazing to sit there for hours, writing and developing my own thoughts. I went to sleep feeling an odd mixture of happiness and relief because I’d connected myself to something I loved.

We’d mostly kept to the surrounding area of our apartment (which I always managed to get lost in) but on Monday, we went to a holiday resort called the Playa de las Américas for the day, just to see what it was like. The beach was wonderful: it had a bunch of people sunbathing on it so I joined in and there was no painful wind to contend with. Eventually, my sister suggested, coerced and then finally forced me to go in the sea. I have a tendency to not want to do things at first but when I actually do them, I enjoy them. I’d forgotten how freeing it felt to get splashed by waves, do some version of what I call “swimming” and to smile as waves crested right beside me. When we’d had enough of the water, it took an age to find the restaurant where we’d eat which turned out to be lovely but god, my feet ached. Our eating times were always irregular so my sense of time that day was kind of warped.

I noticed a pattern in my thoughts for the first three days: they were quite blurry and I don’t specifically remember what happened in those days besides what I wrote down. I think it was because my mental health had been declining and I couldn’t put a finger on why. However, on our return to the first beach on Tuesday, I started to figure it out. Whilst lying on a deckchair, I came to a rather panicky realisation that I won’t mention here because I haven’t told anyone. It was to do with my feelings and how I think about things and I even interrupted my reading of Daughter of Smoke and Bone to think about it which made things have a little more clarity, I suppose. It made me feel so weird that I went into the sea with my sister to try and distract myself. As we ran across the sand, and was so hot that my sister said it felt like torture and we crashed into the sea with something like relief. For the rest of that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about god knows what: my mind wouldn’t shut up. I rang a friend and freaked out on them about it which helped, I think, as I’d messaged them the night before when I started to feel like things were crowding in on me.

On Wednesday, we climbed a mountain. Well, it was in a car but still. Along the way, we saw (or in my case, felt) really cool rocks that were part-volcanic; I also climbed a few. It was kind of embarrassing when someone random came up to me and told me that I was doing a “very good job” but I just had to deal with my face going red, not from the heat, as I walked back down the rock formation. I got rock dust all over my hands and as soon as I got back, I spent what felt like a year trying to sort out the 5 photos of me which had been taken. Yeah, I really am that pathetic.

In the evening, I did my best to pack as my mum made some lovely food. It was actually quite nice to eat at the apartment as we’d eaten at restaurants for most of the other days. I glued myself to my book and didn’t really emerge for the rest of the evening because I’m an antisocial moth like that.

Thursday was our last day and I couldn’t help feeling sad about it. Going back to England would mean a return to life where I couldn’t relax as much. It meant facing up to the reality that I hadn’t done much work, that I felt panicky. Maybe I need that, though, despite the sadness I felt. We didn’t do much: apart from packing, owe stayed in the apartment until 5 when we were picked up by a taxi to go to the airport. Shortly before that, I’d lost my sixpence necklace and had a full-on breakdown about everything so I went to the airport with reddened eyes, feeling sick. However, I soon cheered up and spent the entire plane journey writing and thinking so that I felt more alive than I had in a while.

Now, I feel rather listless but I’m at my friend’s house today which is going to be great! I miss Tenerife, it sun, the apartment and running into the sea but I know I can experience that again. My family, apart from the occasional argument, got on with each other and although nothing too momentous happened, I liked it that way.

Oh, and I got sunburnt. Quite badly. I only noticed it when I started to really hurt. It was, in a word, tragic.

Have you gone anywhere this summer?

From Elm 🙂

I’m going on Holiday!

Hi!

When this is published, I’ll be on the plane. Along with the fact that I am now scared of flying, despite the fact I’ve gone abroad ever since I was a baby, I’m going on holiday with my mum and sister. It should be… Interesting.

We’re going to Tenerife; I’ve been once before when I was small but I don’t remember it. It’s going to be boiling; we’re mostly going to be relaxing and going on the beach. I’ll have to get over my intense dislike of sand but I should be able to do that. If I get scared or something, I’ll just go to the pool (oh god, I’m so bad at swimming!).

I’m actually really excited in my own way although it might not seem it. I love going abroad to new places, especially to relax. It’s going to be a good escape from everything as my mental health has been very bad the past couple of days, ever since I got hit with a horrible spell of loneliness. That means this holiday I could actually relax – for once in my bloody life!

However, as usual, I’m a little nervous. There’s the fact that my mother always gets stressed on holiday and can’t understand why sometimes, I don’t feel like doing things or why I get paranoid incredibly easily. Also I’ve done no work so far this holiday which means relaxing will make me feel guilty. In order to combat that, I’ve downloaded a lot of books to read – both for English and just for fun. Because I love reading, it won’t be a chore and I can do some research whilst I’m at it.

I also need to work on my coursework and personal statement but that’s not so important. The main priority is for me to relax – write, read and do the things I love. I’ll be writing some posts on the plane and on holiday to either schedule or just post whenever so there won’t be a blank from me for 6 days, don’t worry!

The truth is, I kind of just want to get away from everything. Ever since my friend left on Wednesday, I’ve been really dispondent because I miss him and having someone to talk to if that makes sense? Going abroad should distract me from that awful feeling. I forgot how feeling happy for a bit felt and I’m looking to get that back. I’m terrified that I’ll be lonely because I’ll be away from my friends but honestly? MAYBE I need that.

I’ll still be around to talk of course! You’ll be getting some holiday-type posts and creative posts on your reader in the next few days because for me, blogging helps me relax.

Have you gone on holiday this summer or are you hoping to?

Love from Elm 🙂

History, Friends and Laughter: My Experiences in Berlin

Hi!

I got back from Berlin late on Monday night, having gone there for a history trip with my school. Ever since then, I’ve been exhausted but also so happy. On that trip I learned so much, made new friends and had the best time I’ve had in a very long time.

Prepare for a long post. I’m going to be recounting, as best I can, what happened in the four days I was in Germany. I’m still tired but I’ll do my best! My memory may be a bit sketchy because we did so much!

Friday

I was so excited on Thursday but I’d convinced myself I should go to bed at7 to get some good rest. Because I’m a moron, I got 5 hours of sleep that night: I went to bed at a stupid time and got up at 3 but the night before, I’d cleared up a situation that had been bothering me for a long time. We arrived at Gatwick at 4:30 and, upon me realising I’d forgotten to bring my Euros (wow), my dad and I did a mad dash to the shitty money exchange rate point. I was so tired even then; then I met up with my class and we went through security. It was so boring, including the fligh there despite my panic at take-off. Luckily I sat next to a girl who used to be in my old French class who has now become a great friend of mine. I’ll get onto the interesting part now.

There were 16 of us going on the trip, all of whom I liked or at least could talk to if I needed. Our two history teachers went, +a tour guide called Rob who was fantastic but walked at a ridiculously fast pace. When we were on the plane, I got an idea of what it would be like: people took the piss out of each other and laughed; that was an ongoing theme throughout the trip. One of my best friends, who I call Red, went too, as well as the other Head Girl.

We weren’t afforded rest when we landed. Oh no; it was straight into the activities: we were carrying heavy bags and had to travel to the hostel on public transport, jumping on trains until I felt faint. Perhaps that was also because I had intense stomach cramps and hadn’t eaten in ages (at one point my vision completely went, which was honestly a terrifying experience and I don’t want to think about it). After dropping our bags – it was about midday at this point – we went on a ‘walking tour’ of the city. That involved a Karl Marx statue, my friend taking out a communist manifesto which he had decided to bring, learning about the Burning of the Books in 1933 and being so tired I could barely think. We went to a museum and because I’m visually impaired, I was allowed to touch some artifacts using special gloves – for instance, a centuries-old cannon. I nearly screamed with excitement; I would have if I was able to muster up the energy to speak loudly. Usually, I feel stupid because people know more than me about historical context but I got to ask our museum guide a lot of questions.

In the evening, we got back to the hostel, had dinner and I was all ready for sleep. I shared a room with the four other girls and straight off, I made friends with the other Head Girl as we fangirled over books, discussed the day and the gruelling pace Rob had made us go at and laughed explosively. The other three were amazing because they helped me without me even asking; they seemed to understand I wanted enough freedom to feel human but that I did need help with some things and they never made me feel stupid for it. Even though we were tired, as soon as we got into bed we were utterly alert. I listened to them gossiping, managed to actually join in on the conversation and didn’t make a fool of myself.

Honestly, the first day was easy compared to the rest because it was an introduction. It made me feel at home in a foreign country and left me feeling wholly happy because I wasn’t pretending.

Saturday

We woke at 7 that day, my legs aching from the previous afternoon. However, I knew that this day would be challenging emotionally as we were visiting Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, an hour’s ride on public transport from Berlin. We arrived late downstairs but I think we all knew that this was nothing compared to the enormity of what we’d feel later.

Going to the concentration camp was so incredibly moving. It was a work camp and we walked the route of the prisoners, looking at the barracks which – by the end – had 400 or so people in a relatively small room. The atmosphere was quiet, horrified, above all when we saw the outline of what was a gas chamber, the only one in the camp, and the gallows. This particular camp wasn’t like Auschwitz: not as many executions took place. However, it was a huge concept to take in. Until you’re there, it’s difficult to realise just how awful the Holocaust was. I think that everyone should learn about it and just understand the sheer scale of the horror.

In a similar emotional idea, in the afternoon – instead of going to the Olympic Stadium as was planned, we visited two Holocaust memorials. The first was comprised of stone blocks, varying in height – all in rows, it felt like they represented the different victims and stories. I felt disconnected and terribly sad as I walked through, trailing my hand along the rough stonework. However, the one that made me feel incredibly emotional was the memorial to the Roma and Sinti. Flowers were laid on a platform in the middle of a little pond, uneven stones on the ground engraved with names of concentration camps. Birds chirped overhead and it was a memorial to something awful surrounded by nature; it made everything feel real and terrifying. As well as that, we visited the Topography of terror, which documented the horrors of the Nazi regime in pictures. The history teacher which will teach us about that walked around with me, talking to me about the photos.

At night, we had dinner outside a lovely restaurant and in contrast to the heavy emotions we’d felt earlier, we lightened the mood by the best medicine: laughter. I was literally crying at one point because of various innuendos that were made; a bird landed on my tray; I managed to get food on me and it was genuinely so nice because I was on a table with the people who were quickly becoming friends of mine if they weren’t already. I felt so close with everything. After that, we went to the Reichstag – the government building, rebuilt after it was burned down in the 1930s. I spent time walking with my old French friend, as I like to call her; we got so fed up with the audio guide at one point that we just walked around the dome, taking in the atmosphere of the whole place with the historical context owe had.

Before we went to bed, we had an impromptu disco – the teachers had gone to bed, exhausted probably from the events of the morning when a drunk person had spoken at length to one of the history teachers and Rob had set the pace even higher. They put music on in the basement for about 5 minutes, after I came back in awkwardly after having been left by one of my friends by accident. It was certainly more tiring than Friday, for sure, made better by the yells of music of my friends.

Sunday

Sunday was really, really hot but that was probably because we were walking around all day. I wore light trousers and so was sweltering; we went to an art gallery outside Berlin in the morning. Red described everything to me, taking a picture of me outside in the garden – I think I smiled; I just found it all so beautiful. The house in which the Final Solution was planned was heartbreaking though; we learned about the stories of individual people, in addition to the fates of those in attendance at the meeting, who weren’t prosecuted for their part and after the war, often remained civil servants.

In the afternoon, we visited Potsdam; I went on a tram for the first time. Even though it was hot, we took a walk in the park and saw Kaiser Wilhelm II’s childhood home, as well as Frederick the Great’s castle – one of the people in my class is obsessed with him, something which I find hilarious. Walking up so many steps took a toll, yet the fountains, shade and resting places added a lovely touch to something so historically significant.

By that time, I was more tired than I cared to admit. We went bowling after having had dinner, the meal filled with the laughter that I felt was now customary. I came joint last (5th place according to him) with Red; I acted very strange because I was so exhausted and I felt emotional because it was our last night. For example, I screamed when I knocked down all but one pin, yelling “YAAAAS!” on various occasions. The teacher who teaches us the English Revolution section helped me to refine my “technique”. I adored that evening, even if we got back to the hostel at 10 and didn’t sleep until 12, a security staff member knocking at our door to tell us to shut up.

Monday

The last day was focused on the Cold War. When I woke up, I was surprised to note that I didn’t feel as tired as I thought I would be. I had packed on Sunday; we left the hostel at 9, the banter of the people in my class increasing as the day wore on. In the morning, we visited the Stasi Prison, one of the most moving things I’ve ever done with the only amusing thing being that Red got stuck in a rose bush. There were two prisons; one was reserved for physical torture and one psychological. It was horrifying. When you’re told about people who now work at the prison to do tours who have gone through Hell, imprisoned for crimes against the state they didn’t even commit, it fills you with this crawling sense of terror and sadness. I admire the people who can now go back to that prison to educate us, the younger generation, on what conditions were truly like. No sugarcoating. No hiding how it was.

We went to Checkpoint Charlie near to lunchtime, the seriousness in the morning then being balanced by shopping. The girls and I, as well as one of the boys, went to Zara and when we ran out of time, we went to get food. I managed to eat it in 10 minutes whilst running back to the meeting point, which made me feel more sick than ever. I laughed, shouted and gasped for air when the heat was too oppressive.

Going home was a sad affair. I didn’t want to, most of all because I would miss how free I felt and also because I didn’t want to return to the dreariness of school. We collected our bags, me complaining about how exhausted I was – luckily not wracked with cramps. In the airport, I discovered that someone had hand-written the word “blind” on my passport but had missed out the I, the pun pointed out to me. As I laughed so hard that I had tears in my eyes, people must have thought I was crying.

Berlin was more beautiful than I could express. The thing that meant the most to me was the help and support I got from, well, everyone. When I asked the girls to help me with something, they always did. I was treated like a human, like I belonged – it was a shock to come back to school and to not feel so complete: I even missed walking fast and the joking of the people around me. Everyone in Germany talked to me with no filter. Even the teachers relaxed, telling me at the end that it was amazing to have worked and talked with me. I was near tears.

I’m never going to forget it. Even if the specifics fade, I’ll always remember the kindness, laughter and the feeling of togetherness. When some of the boys were being their usual selves, I grinned and laughed and smiled. When I wanted to contribute something to a conversation, I could.

Sometimes, taking a chance and putting yourself out there can help so much with your confidence. It has for me and despite the fact that I was tired and irritable at some points, I wouldn’t have changed anything about those four days. They were worth every penny.

Have you ever been to Germany, or to a historical location that changed how you feel about things?

From Elm 🙂

Generic “I’m Back” Post Title

You KNOW you’re tired when you can’t come up with an inventive post title. Not that I usuY can anyway…

Hiii I’m back!!! (From Thailand, if you didn’t know.)

I arrived back yesterday, about 7 o’clock in the evening (English time). Yes, my body clock is screwed right now. I woke up at 7 yesterday morning Thai time, so 1 o’clock English time, meaning that when I went to bed at 11, I’d been up for 22 hours. WOW.

Nothing really happened on the flight, apart from a few nervous moments from me because I’ve found that I’m scared of flying, even though I’ve been doing it since I was 3. There was an adorable little 1-year-old sitting in front of me, so I was shrieking over his cuteness the majority of the time. I didn’t sleep at all, because I’m trying to adjust my body clock already.

I woke up at 9 today, and I’m having lunch with my mum in about an hour. Apart from that, I’m just going to relax, maybe finish my French homework.

Panic is setting in for Results’s Day already, but I should be okay. Tomorrow, I’ll make a post about it as you classically do, detailing what I think blah blah blah.

Sorry I haven’t been able to read blogs much. I feel bad, but I just haven’t had enough time, what with travelling and failing to do homework. Who knows – hopefully, I’ll be able to read more over the next week, if I’m not sobbing over my results that is.

What’s been going on with you guys? Anything interesting happened in the Blogosphere? Oh! And if you didn’t know, Dziey is back!

That was the worst post I’ve ever written oh dear. I have no motivation uuuuuugh.

From Elm 🙂

Free At Heart

Well, looks like I have bullshit all wifi, so god knows when THIS will be up. That majorly fucks up my posting order, and the way I wanted this to be presented, but EHH well. (I’m writing this on the afternoon of the 12th, inside and in front of a fan, which is lovely).

Last time I came to Thailand, I was 11, meaning that 5 years have passed since I’ve been to the village. A lot has changed in 5 years: I’m not the loud girl I once was, I don’t have the same incessant curiosity, but I guess something in me must still be the same. The village itself hasn’t changed much either, save for a few more buildings being added. Of course, the people have got older, which is the thing that’s difficult to adjust to.

You don’t really appreciate what you have until you’re out in a rural place that, you may think, lacks any luxury. However, it’s just different; after two days, I’m slowly getting used to it again.

My stepmother’s mother’s home is very, very different to any other home I’ve been in, in any other country, except for Malaysia where my Popo ′grandmother′ used to live. The downstairs is open: there are no doors, no entryways and no real walls, so that you step onto the tiled surface from the street. Stray cats and even dogs come in: there’s this cat that appears to love our family, and I swear it has flees because I’ve been bitten by something that isn’t a mosquito. The cat is still lovely though, and meows constantly so that I know it’s there.

The kitchen has a stone floor, and the tap water isn’t safe to drink, but I’ve known that since I was 8. My stepmother’s mum’s room is near the kitchen, too, though I’ve never been inside; I don’t speak to her much because of the language barrier, though I have a deep-rooted respect for her. So do the rest of the village, from what I can tell. The stairs that lead up to the rooms where we sleep are steep and wooden, the floor in my temporary room made of boards of wood, with a fan there to offer some relief from the heat.

The main thing I’m struggling a bit with is the sleeping. My bed’s a mattress on the floor: not that I mind; I don’t exactly care where I sleep. A fan is at the end of my bed, but even with it it’s stiflingly hot, but I don’t want to take the blanket off because of insects. Even so, I have about 12 bites on my legs, and they’re either from mosquitos or bedbugs. I’m suspecting the latter, so that’s why I went into my dad and stepmum’s room to try and sleep last night. It worked.

This might sound odd, but the most different thing is the toilet. You could say that it’s outside, because there’s an outdoor space between the main bit of the house and the toilet. The side of it backs out onto an allotment, where there are so many home grown vegetables that my dad gets jealous. The floor in the toilet is always slightly wet, on account of there being no shower cubicle, and the shower – which only started working properly today – is one you’d usually consider “normal” in a typical western home. People often have the assumption that villages in places like Thailand are totally removed from the outside world, but that’s not the case at all; the Temple has wifi, and kids go to school in the surrounding villages and towns. Yesterday, we used a bucket to wash, with cold water, which is something I actually really enjoy. It was, in a way, my childhood – when I went to Malaysia, we always had bucket baths, and when our boiler broke when I was 3, we had the same. Because it’s so hot, having a shower is amazing.

Whenever you’re walking, or sitting inside, you can always hear motorbikes going past. I always jump to the side of the road, paranoid we would get run over, but the feeling of actually going on a motorbike is the best. Saying that, there aren’t really ‘roads’ and that’s what I like: it’s natural, with dirt maths and a few cobbles scattered about, the smell of heat and calls of people as we walk past, intermingled with the chirps of birds.

I’ve made what you could call friends – or at least I do. There are no kids in the village my age, but seeming as I’ve known many of them since I was 8, I’ve seen them grow up as they’ve seen me. Yes, 5 years have passed and so much has changed, but today and the day before, it didn’t feel that way. I’m antisocial as anything, but sometimes I do stop going on my phone to talk to people (shocker, I know).

I played a game, with two of the children: Um and Boat, who are 13 and 11 respectively. I’ve always liked them both, because even though we can’t speak each other’s language ′I can speak more Thai than they can speak English′, we communicate in different ways. Laughter’s a big part of it, because whenever something happens, I know what they feel by their laughter. Trust me, when you find out the name of a fruit you’ve never seen before in Thai, not know it in English, and eat it wrong, you know you’re not doing it right by the laughter. We improvised a game, where they clap, I clap to let them know I heard them, and we throw a ball at each other (or they poke me with a broom to make me laugh). Two claps have become our signal to say, “Let’s do this!” which just shows that you don’t need a language to speak, even if you’re blind like me. They’re good, helping me and letting me smile, because it’s so simple to be with them. There are no hurtful words or anything like that, because they’re people I’ve technically known since I was 8, and so I have a “bond” with them.

(I’m writing this on the 13th now, and have wifi which is great!) Yesterday, we went to the market. Thai markets are amazing, because stalls line the walls and pathways, outside too. You can hear the buzz of chatter, unrecognisable words flowing together, and the smell of food is so glorious that it makes you want to buy everything. I loved walking around the market with my dad, and on the way home, I sat in the back of a pickup truck with Boat and Um (another thing that defined my childhood here). The wind blew my hair around, making my eyes water, but it was beautiful and exhilarating.

I’m not the free spirit I once was, but I still have that side of me left. I love the village, even though I have bites from mosquitos and other insects all over me (some even on my back). Right now, that doesn’t matter. I’m getting horribly stressed over homework, because I’ve done nothing, but I’m just revelling in the simplicity of everything.

Also, in case anyone was worried, the bombs that exploded were on the other side of the country. I’m safe, though I feel terrible for the families suffering at the moment.

From Elm 🙂

 What’s Been Happening

I was tempted to use the word “Updatery”, but that’s coined by my lovely friend Luna and so whenever I hear it, I think of her. I can’t help it shhh!

So. I have a vague and indeterminate amount of Wifi on my computer, because now we’re staying in a hotel for a few nights. Because of that, I thought I’d take this chance to update you on the things happening in the world of Elm, because I’m lazy as shit and can’t be bothered to write a massively long post.

I like bullet points, so I’ll use them. Not that I ever have before, but I’m TRYING to be different.

• The posts I wanted to put up are no longer relevant, which is sad because I spent ages on them. Maybe I’ll put one of them up tomorrow?
• Ever since we got here and up to now, really, we’ve been staying in the village of my stepmother’s family. You know what, I think I WILL post that post about it later on, so that I don’t have to explain everything again.
• As I said in my voice recording yesterday, I have a cold. It’s actually got worse, and I’ve been coughing insanely. Yeah, not fun, and rather painful too: sometimes I feel so sick that I have no energy.
• I’ve done shit all homework and it’s upsetting me more than I thought. Mainly because of the lack of internet and time, but also no motivation. Hopefully, though, I should manage to do some tonight.
• I thought I broke my computer – don’t even ask – and when I found out it was working again, I started crying. Yep.
• As well as physically, I’ve not been feeling great mentally either. For the past two days, nothing’s been able to cheer me up, and I’ve been in a state where I just snap at everyone and feel shit.
• We’re going to a blind school tomorrow – it’s a boarding school, and though I went 5 years ago, now I think I can properly appreciate how different it is. I REALLY want to write about that.
• I’m exhausted. Thailand is great, but part of me just wants to go home where I feel like I’ve got my shit together. The plane journey back has caused me to worry so much, but I know in my heart we won’t crash.
• This afternoon, I got my legs waxed which didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. There’s still a bit of hair there, which bothers me a little, but at least that’s another experience.
• I miss my friends. A lot.

How have you been? I feel as if I have so much to do, and all of this “Relax! It’s okay!” talk from my family isn’t exactly doing much.

Sorry for the short post; I promise I’ll write more tomorrow.

Love from Elm 🙂

My Hilarious Excuse Of An Update

hey, everyone!

I know I haven’t posted in forever, and that’s because I only got solid Wifi yesterday. Also, the Wi-Fi doesn’t work on my computer, mainly because I’m actually using data. Ooh, rebel, I know.

As a sort of replacement, I’ve given you this… Interesting voice recording. I sound like a bloody squirrel, and I think I ramble too much, but at least its something. I’m a bit frustrated, too, because I wrote two posts I was really proud of. Oh well: maybe I’ll get to post them, so at least they’ll be up.

You can listen to the recording here. The irritating noise in the background is the fan, but the option of turning it off is basically zero. I’m not boiling myself just for the sake of having the room silent 😀

I hope you’re having an amazing day! I’m probably going to go to bed soon, because I’m exhausted. my voice is also dying a bit, too.

From Elm 🙂

I’m Back! (Kinda)

Bonjourno! Or not, because I’m no longer in Italy. *cries*

I arrived back yesterday, coming home at about 10 o’clock (though it felt like 11, because of the time difference). Robin stayed over at mine with her family, and she left this morning.

Saying goodbye to her was so emotional, but I should be seeing her soon because I plan to visit her at blind college. Convincing my mother to let me do that will be a challenge, but I should be able to.

God, I’m so tired. Checking out of the airport was possibly the most stressful thing ever, because I ended up snapping at my dad on the phone when he was telling me where that the taxi would pick us up. I feel bad about that, but we both apologised after and he said that he’d had a bad day. Robin’s brother kept on doing his god awful New York accent, which ended with him running up and down a travellator with his friend.

Honestly, not much of interest has happened since then. I felt like a zombie this morning when I woke, but I’m mostly human now. I think I just need to relax, being so exhausted. I’d rather be doing nothing and actually making a start on my holiday homework, but noooo. Such a nerrrddd uurgh.

On Tuesday, I’m going to Thailand until about the 23rd, which will be fun (I HOPE). I’m going to try and post, like I did in Italy, but who knows: the wifi might be terrible.

I still have a post that I need to do on when I visited Venice last Monday, which took a bloody age to write. Robin should be giving me some photos to post, which is a first!

Ahhh, I need sleep. I hope you’re all doing great, and I finally got to catch up on some blogs I’ve been meaning to read. That made me feel less unproductive. If you guys ever need anything, remember I’m just an email away.

Tomorrow, I have something exciting going on, but I’ll tell you about it once it’s done. I promise that I actuY will! It may not even happen; the likelihood is it won’t, but I can still hope.

Sorry, also, for not replying to many comments. I’ll do that as soon as I can. I just need to pack for Thailand, talk to some friends, sort out some shit and then maybe, MAYBE relax.

Hehe, relaxation’s a joke. Just BREATHE, Elm, breathe!

I’ll update you if anything interesting happens, as I always do.

From Elm 🙂

What I Plan to Do in Italy

Because I am obviously incapable of coming up with imaginative post titles, this is what it says on the tin: not that my post, or blog, is a tin because that would be weird and impossible. Okay, I’m getting off track…

It’s a day before Italy and for some reason, all my fear and nervousness has disappeared. My mum went shopping this morning and got me a bunch of stuff, like a cleanser, shampoo, conditioner blah blah blah, which actually made me feel a lot more confident. That, coupled with the lovely and supportive comments I got from you all yesterday, has made me feel a lot better about my body, and my personality in general. Thanks for that, by the way.

Robin’s coming over later – one of my best friends, who I’ve known for 5 years. As is customary, we’re going to have a massive catch up session which will include hours of talking about what’s been happening since we last saw each other – 6 months ago or so. I think that we both have a lot to say, which should be interesting because I tell her everything. AAAAAHH and the Jasmine situation… Great.

I’m pretty sure that that’s what we’ll be doing for a lot of the holiday. Sitting in the sun, just talking and laughing; that’s one of the things I’m looking forward to the most. Robin is such a good friend, and she actually understands me so much, and so we don’t have to talk all the time to be such good friends. Whenever we spend time with each other, it doesn’t feel like time has passed since the last one.

Unlike last year and the year before, where we went to France, there won’t be A teens club. That makes me kind of sad, because the friends I made at BASE – Like Cassia from last year commade me feel so much more confident about myself. Often, I don’t feel like a typical teenager, but in France I felt like I belonged somehow.

In Italy, I’m going to make an effort to approach other people our age. I’m sure Robin can help with that: she’s got more sight than me, so we won’t be walking up to 30-year-old people which would be so awkward. I always get scared that they won’t take me seriously because of my height and physical appearance, but people appeared to like me well enough in France. I should channel that to make me feel better, and not feel so self-conscious. Whenever I get insecure, I’ll just remember that Robin’s with me and that even if people don’t like me, it’s their loss and not mine.

Ohh, the memories from France are coming back. Last summer, I compared it to the year before on several occasions, which I shouldn’t have done because the experience was very different. I think I actually enjoyed myself more, because I was older and had gone through many things like the Ash situation, so I appreciated the new memories to a higher level, because I thought deeply about them. This year, I’ll plan to not compare the memories I have, and to just let go and enjoy myself.

I’m not entirely sure where we’ll be going in Italy. We’re staying in a caravan – and by “we”, I mean me, Robin and Robin’s family (pus her brother’s friend). At some point, we should be going out to see the local area and go to restaurants, which will truly make me feel free. I’ve always wanted to go to Italy, which is part of the reason I’m so excited.

As I’m me, I’m rather scared that I’ll “get with” someone in Italy. The possibility of that is shrinking, but it’s STILL a possibility. Because of what’s happened recently, I’m not sure if I’m in the right state of mind to just get with someone random, but who knows? If it happens, it happens. I won’t stop it, because I need to discover more about myself to get experibbes before I go to Sixth Form. Manipulative? Probably, but I’m trying not to fel shitty about it and to not regret any future… Happenings. That just sounds disturbing as shit.

Now I’m thinking about it, I’ve decided not to schedule posts. In doing it, it would make me a hell of a lot more stressed, and I don’t need that. That most likely means I won’t be blogging much, because this is my last holiday with Robin and her family for a while, and so I’ll want to spend as much time with her as possible and not be antisocial. However, I’ll make an effort to post if I can, like I did last year. If something interesting happens, you’ll be the first to know.

Yesterday, I got involved in a bloggers’ group chat for the first time in a while. It made me feel so happy, like I was including myself and not shutting myself off. Now, the inside jokes are legendary. I won’t be able to talk to them much in Italy, which makes me sad, but oh well!

I’ll miss you so much. I hope you have an amazing summer, whether you’re going on holiday or not. You can find plenty of things to do if you’re not going away; be imaginative and maybe go on walks, if you’re bored.

From Elm 🙂