One more week

Somehow I’m coming to the end of my adventure. Just one week left. My brain is moving fast leading me to talk to recruiters about getting a job. I need to remember the things that I want next.

I have just arrived in Seattle. It’s a short ferry trip over from Vancouver Island where I’ve been staying in Victoria for nearly a week.

Victoria is full of creative people. There’s a great combination of inspiration from humans and nature. The parks, coastline and mountains combine with Sunday’s fantastic show put on by Drag Kings and Queens to leave a delightful creative cocktail in my mind. I have been writing a lot and honing my tracks. Always honing.

I am excited to put them out and it feels a bit different this time. I might need to borrow willing ears to listen to the tracks so far. Give me a shout if you’re honest, kind and prepared to listen to unfinished tracks. Once again, there are feminist themes and the exploration of being whole but in a relationship.

I hope the creativity continues in Seattle. Sydney aside, it is the only place I have been before on my trip so far. I am staying at the same hostel. It feels good.

This post has been fairly wittering … to sum up: I’m excited to be writing, I loved Victoria and it’s great to be back in Seattle.

Thanks, again, for reading.

Em x

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The train and the Rockies

I’ve been MIA again. But wow. Canada.

My mum came to meet me in Toronto and we got the train for three days to the Rockies. We have had some amazing moments here and will head onwards to Vancouver the day after tomorrow.

I don’t usually do travel #thisishowwedoit style blogs but this has been a pretty good experience and I’d like to remember exactly how we did it for … next time. We have booked everything ourselves which, I would say, keeps the price down.

Between seasons

First thing, after we had booked most of our trip, we realised that nothing really opens until mid-May. There are two major seasons: winter and summer. Coming between the two means that there are fewer options from a skiing, touring and accommodation perspective. The lake boating trips are definitely not on.

That said, we’ve been incredibly lucky to enjoy whole days of sunshine and catch the landscape in all its excellence, knowing that it will never look exactly this way again.

On the train

We got on the VIA Rail train at 1am one Sunday morning. It was due to leave at 10:30 the previous evening but didn’t due to severe freezing rain in Toronto. Apparently the train frequently runs late and so, if travelling, be sure not to book any connecting flights or rail journeys without some time in between.We were then on the train for 3 days to Jasper. We had a sleeper cabin with 2 bunk beds, a sink (with fun mirrors – see below) and a private toilet. The shower was shared but beautifully clean.We sat with strangers at tables of 4 for 3 meals each day. The food was exquisite and we learned new stories from people all over the world. We got off at stops to stretch our legs. Had a bit of a wander (and a sit down on the bench) when we got to Winnipeg. It was truly beautiful.Best of all, we were able to view the beautiful nature outside from the dome carts which had elevated seating. The rooves were glass “bubbles” revealing panoramic views. The view for the majority of the 3 days was a mixtures of flat and less flat snow-covered land and lakes, decorated with streams.The relatively repetitive patterns of snow and Douglas Firs lulled us into a sense of security so when the Rockies shot out of Jasper, they were truly striking.

The Rockies

We got off the train in Jasper for our week in the Rockies. At this time of year, there are two trains each week across the country. We decided that one week would give us enough time to travel around the Rockies without being rushed. We don’t ski.

We stayed for two nights in each of Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise and will return to Jasper for a final night before getting back on the trian. There is a load of accommodation in all these places ranging from hostels to Chateaux hotels.

We haven’t hired a car so got on the Sundog shuttle. Every day this goes from Jasper to Lake Louise to Banff and back again. This is a shuttle service only so there is no chat about the breathtaking geology of the Columbia Icefields and no time to stop at the sites for photographs. One toilet break only. But it’s a good service and cheaper than a taxi!

Some of the things we have done:

  • took the Jasper Skytram (the highest and longest aerial tramway in Canada) for incredible views and an epic hot chocolate
  • watched a lot of ice hockey … oooph this Stanley Cup
  • had the most delicious and hearty salad I’ve ever eaten at the Raven Bistro, Jasper (other choices are available)
  • walked along the walkways along the Bow river in Banff
  • visited the hot spring caves at Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff (photo above)
  • had a great guided bus tour to see some of the top spots with Discover Banff Tours (photo of Lake Minnewanka below)

I write from the Fairmont Hotel at Lake Louise where I’ve just finished a delicious creme brûlée. We had lunch and overlooked the frozen lake. What dreams are made of.

There’s a restaurant and deli here and it’s an absolute delight.

I am equally excited about being here and getting back on the train. If you have any questions about this stuff I’d love to answer them so I can talk more about this trip!

Thanks for reading!

Em x

Chicago and all that jazz

I love it here. I feel content. It’s hard to write when you’re content.

There is a warm familiarity here through these cold streets. It has the red bricks, the sounds of passing trains and a good level of cement that I’m used to.

Chicago has oodles or personality without being tied to a genre.  I have seen Jazz, Blues and Pop here. And I was lucky enough to be front and centre for a Second City Theatre show. It pays to travel alone.

In a headache filled moment I even got the chance to watch the film Chicago on my laptop.

The familiarity makes me think of home.  I am happy that I have around six weeks left of this trip but being here makes me excited about the new ways I will be spending my time and the possibilities that lie ahead.

I have been further editing my book about Ammerella Twigg, and making music with the safety of my headphones.

I have three more days to delightfully spend with Chicago.

Thanks for reading.

Em x

Lake Taupo

Taupo:  the land of black swans where people give you beaming smiles as you go running.  A rare event indeed.  (And yes, I went running).

I’m told that the lake is the size of Singapore and was created 25 million years ago via an earthquake/volcanic activity.  I arrived here yesterday and was greeted with glorious weather.  This place has my favourite combination:  rugged hills, open water and green trees.

Last night was a wonderful boat tour of the lake where we caught the sunset.  The boat batteries ran out on the way back so the trip was a little longer than planned, as we had to sail back.  Nice though.

I am travelling with the Kiwi Experience which is a bus tour where you can hop on and off at various destinations.  They also take you to see some good geological spots along the way: waterfalls and bubbling geysers.

The experience has been as expected in lots of ways.  I am definitely a relative oldie.  The key revelations have been:

(a) I feel like David Attenborough watching the mating rituals of the 20 somethings; and

(b) my sense of humour is based on cultural references that are not relevant to anyone born after 1989 (e.g. nobody knew who Des Lynam was).

It’s been great to see lots, but I’m happy to be staying here at Taupo for two nights.  The weather’s been pretty torrential in the days before yesterday.  Quite unexpected.  This did not affect my enjoyment in Waitomo, where I took a boat tour of a glowworm cave.  No photos were allowed, sadly, but it was truly mesmerising to look up as the boat was gently pulled through the cave.  This mode of seeing the glowworms was described by the bus driver as the “geriatric option”.  Most went on a zip-line infused active rush through the caves.  Give me the geriatric option any day, thanks.

I have been recording music but am stuck with vocals.  This morning I have made several attempts to do some recording quietly in the hostel dorm but I have been interrupted both by housekeeping and hostel roomies with comic timing.  The songs will have to brew in my head for a bit longer, but happy to have kicked off with some songwriting.

Thanks for reading!

Em x

London Called


As the train pulls away from Paddington Station, it dawns on me that I am no longer a London resident.

After 7 years of living and working as a lawyer in the City, I am moving away.

I would be lying if I said I’d enjoyed every moment.  However, without London, I wonder if I would have the courage, skills or determination to embark upon my new adventure.

All being well, on 1 January 2018, I will land in New Zealand and pursue my dream to:

MAKE MUSIC / TRAVEL / WRITE ABOUT IT

I must be grateful to London for putting me here.

London has thickened my skin with a tough love that I have cherished and resented.

It has provided me with a whole host of courses to develop my skills in writing, music production and singing.

It has led me to friends and communities to encourage my creativity and provided me with stages that I could never have imagined performing on.

I look forward to sharing my tales here in my blog. I will be as honest here as I am prepared to be with myself.

But for now… thank you London.  You’ve been real.

Em x