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AuburnWandererBlog

Dear Cpt. Dadski Collins…

So this year I won’t be able to contact my dad on Father’s Day,  so I figured I would write this to you Daddy instead.

Reasons I love my Daddy:

1. Makes the best gravy and roasts this world has ever seen!

2. Winner of the BEST male cuddler in the world (obvs mum is the best female)

3. You always know when he’s coming up or down the stairs because he’ll sing a random “doo doo doo”.

4. As most who will know me and met my daddy know, he’s the chillest person in the whole world.

5. Best face and ear massages going.

6. Y’know super supportive n stuff.. 😉

I love you sooo much Daddy, thank you for always being there for me, Have a fantastic day xxxxx

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Camp Update:

I love it here. And my accent is already being battered…

That’s all that needs to be said.

Uneasy side up

I’m standing in line for security. I’m on my way to board a Virgin Atlantic flight to start what could be my most exciting adventure yet in my short-lived life. However, I can feel my eyes burning and my heart shouting in my ears, louder as it becomes faster. What I see in front of me are end-of-the-world warning signs and yet everything in the back ground is trembling slowly. I reach out to grab a queuing pole because in every teen-angst film I’ve seen they say to “feel the ground under you” by holding something permanent and yet this isn’t helping. I splutter something to the man in a high-vis jacket walking past which is apparently decipherable and he pushes me through the que. I guess this is one way to get a fast pass through security at Heathrow!

Before this past year I never realised the extent of my inner-panic. Though saying that, I’ve never been this far from home (*Kaiser Chiefs pop into head*) for such an extended period of time.

However, the moment passes, and I know I’ll get a couple more like it in the next coming days, but then they’ll disappear, once I get doing stuff. “Stuff” in this case is 24 hrs in San Francisco followed by a fantastic summer at Kennolyn Camp as a camp counsellor where I’ll learn how to instruct a climbing program, live an American way of life and have a fandabbydozy time in the meanwhile.

“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” an appropriate British female philosopher once said and for now, that’s quite right!

Reflections from a Sleepless Bus.

It’s 3am and I’m currently lying in seat 5 of a Sleeper Bus getting very little of the intended purpose of the bus. However this is a perfect time to reflect of the last few days.

Hanoi

The traffic is frantic and death defying. To cross you have to take a chance and step out into the swarm of motorbikes as if you aren’t fussed about your possible death. That pretty much sums up the city for me. We stayed in the one of the 36 streets of the Old Quarter, just off “Beer corner” which led to a wild night out on the first night of meeting the group. We spent a day falling in love with Vietnamese food, wandering round the back alleys and secret cafes in search of the best BBQ pork and spring rolls I’ve ever tasted. We were introduced to the French- Vietnamese baguette ‘Bahn Mi’ while squatting/sitting on stools in what can only be described as the multi-purposes floor of this take out, and it was fantastic.
Culturally we visited Hanoi’s Water puppet show, which in all honesty I had no idea what was going on but it was great to watch and listen to all the same!
I visited the Hoa Lo Prison and also the Women’s Museum in the city, both of which told the struggle of the people during the war and turbulent past of the country and I would highly recommend having a look at both.
Though if you’d like to see culture of the modern local people simply go sit by Ho Hoan Kiem lake in the centre and watch the people go by on their bikes or doing their daily exercises in the improv gym they make in the morning and evening! And if you feel lonely sat by yourself just know that you’re most likely to be approached by a couple of students asking to practice their English with them which of course is brilliant.

Halong Bay

Our experience of Halong Bay was a little different to what you’d see on the average trip there, the sky’s were misty and there was a gradual rain pour every now and again but it only made the sights more mystic. As we sailed on our junk boat from the port it was as it mountains arose from the sea. Jagged rock faces covered with green foliage. We explored by sea kayak entering a cove through a cave opening. Then, already pretty soaked from kayaking we jumped into the water from sun deck. The night was spent partying with card games and good company. The following day we were taken to our private island for the night “Freedom Island”. Though not before scaling one of the rocky faces and jumping off the cliff (pffft, I wasn’t scared you were…).
Freedom Island was made up of 2 beaches with accommodation splitting them up. There were hammocks which most spent lazing in while others energetically played volleyball. There were sea kayaks which I took out and made my way round the island past the BIGGEST jellyfish I have ever seen. In the evening we sat down to a delicious dinner together and then played more card games and danced in the “disco” surrounded by the silhouetted monsters of Halong bay.
On our way back to the port the next day we had a short demonstration and try at making spring rolls which we then had for lunch.

Hoi An

The first thing you notice about Hoi An is of course it’s famous lanterns. Glowing rainbows of colour hung in trees and over the street. The second thing you’ll notice is the crowding of the streets by tourists and newly-weds trying to take pictures of said gorgeous lanterns.
When we arrived we dropped off everything and went for a nosey around the town! We visited pagodas, Hoi An’s ancient house which has seen 7 generations of the same family and the Japanese Bridge which was built to join Japanese and Vietnamese business together in that last century. In the evening we had an all-you-can eat meal of meat kebabs, rice pancakes and spring rolls- Could have rolled me out I ate so much! Then to the most gorgeous rooftop bar called The Chef. Situated on top of a shop the terrace is decorated with small lanterns and flowers with the centrepiece being a warm glowing tree of lanterns.
The following day was wet but we had a cookery class to attend! In the morning we were picked up and taken to a local market to be shown where the produce comes from and pick up our own. One of the guys on the trip bought some Durian and I can’t say I’d be having it again. Not only was the smell horrific but it had the consistency of curdled custard- yum. We then took a very wet boat ride down the river to the cookery class. We were shown how to make 4 dishes, all so easy that really I should make it at home… (this isn’t me committing to cooking, but I might okay?!). When we returned we were taken to a tailors where I put in an order for a dress to be made, mine a skater dress with a halter neck. Free time was spent wandering the streets looking into the shops and then being destroyed at a game of pool at one of the many bars that fill Hoi An’s streets, to paraphrase: “well that couldn’t have gone any worse for you.”
Of course that night we had to taste the local night scene. 😉
Waking up to only a minute hangover, of course the best thing to do is exercise, so we hired bikes for the day (30,000 Dong!!!). It’s one thing crossing the roads of Vietnam as a pedestrian, a VERY different thing crossing as a cyclist! After a 2nd fitting at the tailors, we headed down the main road past an infamous man sitting on his buffalo (I don’t understand it either) to the beach. We sat in a bar overlooking the sea for the rest of the afternoon sipping on passion fruit juice and pretending that the weather wasn’t as dreary as it was. Of course, I had to dip my toes into the South Sea, though it turned out to be my shorts too- so smooth.
We picked up our gorgeous dresses from the tailors in the afternoon and boarded our first sleeper bus of the trip.

Okay, in the time it’s taken to write this the bus driver seems to become a little bit lighter on the horn honking and the breaks so I might attempt sleep again. We’re travelling to Nha Trang for snorkelling, water sports and a boat cruise tomorrow which I’m only a little bit excited about! So till the next update!

*editing Izzy note: apologies this is later than planned, apparently WordPress doesn’t work as well in Vietnam (?!) but look out for the next half of my trip to be coming soon! *

A Taste of Singapore

Guess what? I’m on another plane, this time journeying to Hanoi from Singapore. My seat is 20C on this A320, which *Fun Fact* is named after the founder of Ryanair as he stated that Tigerair was the true budget airline of SEAsia- what an honour!

I’ve just spent just over 24hrs in Singapore. 12hours of which I have spent having much needed sleep and the other 12 exploring the city!
After arriving at 0915 and getting though immigration smoothly I boarded the Air port shuttle bus which is worth mentioning as it cost me only 9SGD and also provided me a small tour round the city before reaching my own Hotel the Grand Copthorne Waterfront. When I arrived I made the decision to sleep after a relaxing bath to calm myself down.

As per usual I slept in a little bit longer than intended, but got up and I decided to go for a wander in search of food. I got some what of a baring of where I was in comparison to the main city and just started walking. Now I wouldn’t say I got lost exactly… but I certainly wouldn’t be able to walk back the same way I came- but oh well!
At one point I found myself in China Town hiding in a street food court during a sudden downpour. Yet the grey back drop couldn’t dull the bright oranges and reds of the lanterns hanging from the stalls and the pungent smell of cooking and soya sauce seem to become even more pungent. Round every corner of the town there would be a new and interesting feature: a public dance class occurring in the square, market stalls down every street or just some locals sitting outside a cafe in roaring laughter.

The way I wandered is by following the most people towards the skyscrapers I knew would be by the main part of the marina and luckily it worked! I found myself on the outskirts of the business district looking over the Marina at the familiar buildings I’d seen online and in guide books!

I walked along the marina to find the famous symbol of Singapore, the Merilon Statue surrounded of course by its own sea of tourists all aiming for the classic “pretend-that-the-statue-is-pouring-water-into-my-mouth” pose. That is where I sat for the rest of the evening, hotdog in one hand, apple juice in the other watching the statues around the bay perform for the final day of the #ilight exhibition a more than happy coincidence!

The for the bite-sized amount of Singapore I have just consumed it has left me wanting more, which luckily I’ll get in 2weeks time when I return to visit Alison, Charlie and Sidonie, but for now, onwards with the journey, in 3hrs I’ll be in Vietnam!

(Couldn’t post this without mentioning that today is Mothering Sunday back in the U.K., and being that I have the most wonderful Mummy anyone could ask for just wanted to say that you know how much I love you and thank you for being so amazing! *all of the hugs and cuddles* )

Vietnam: The start of the adventure!

Today I sit in a Qatar Airways A380, seat 67A, and that is where I’m staying for the next 6.5hrs till my change over at Doha to Singapore! (This is turing into a bit of a theme! )
As I sit in this very purple seat preparing for a 5hrs of potential seat kicking from the child behind me, I am so calm. Weirdly calm and thankfully calm. It may just be that I haven’t yet woken up from the 5am start or maybe the magic of the complimentary “refreshing towel” I was just handed by one of the crew.

For those who haven’t been in my presence while I’ve droned on about how excited I am about this trip here’s the basics:
LHR- Doha- Singapore
One night in Singapore then to Hanoi!
From Hanoi I will be meeting the Ultimate Vietnam Rep and the rest of my group for the next 2 weeks! Plan is to go from north to south of Vietnam stopping off at Halong Bay, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Da Lat and ending in Ho Chi Minh City (AKA Saigon). On the way I’ll be taking part in the culture, kayaking, staying on a junk boat and generally having a fabulous-Instagram-worthy time! (haha)
Then, after that adventure I’ll be flying from HoChiMinh to Singapore again to stay with Alison Hanning with Charlie and Sidonie!

Okay, the cabins are being prepared so I’ll wrap this up for now. How has this date come along so quickly? It only seems like yesterday when I asked my mum how she’d feel about me going to SEAsia solo, but that was back in January!
Now, please excuse me now, I’m going to plug into the online entertainment system and embarrass myself by crying in front of strangers, LaLa Land is on the film list!

A Selfish Silence

People don’t talk about their feelings a lot, I don’t, though I tell other people to. “A problem shared is a problem halved.” “If you have any problems, I’m here, to listen.” Maybe it’s selfish, me listening to other people’s chaotic and sometimes miserable lives. It makes me feel better, that I’m not alone in the fact I have no idea what I’m doing. But when the introduction comes to ask about me, I’ll often reflect it back onto the other person with a tactical phrase like “oh yeah, I’m doing fine, same old same old, but thats not important how are you with….”.

I’ve been told what I do is ‘guarding’, a defence mechanism which stops me from showing any cracks or spills. A deep breath, a big smile and a “I’m fine, don’t be silly.” Then when I’m away from people who have real problems, it all slips and spins and really I don’t know how I’ll react. How I see it is that you’re more than welcome into my house, have a seat in the living room, the loos down the corridor but please, don’t open any of the doors.
An anecdote:
Today, (you don’t know when I’m writing this so who knows when ‘today’ is!) I was so angry and this time I didn’t bite my tongue. Quite frankly I was right to be angry, this person hurt me. Left me a blubbering ugly mess and to make it worse my eyeliner and mascara, which believe me took FOREVER to put on was ruined! But the most infuriating part of today was that I felt the need to apologise. And I did. Because, when I look at it now, blaming tiredness/my period/medication, for something I wasn’t sorry about was an easier cover up than having to explain my feelings.

I was talking to my mum about the feeling of loss and mourning for her degree she’s doing at the moment and she stated a very interesting idea: “A hierarchy of grief” the idea being that there is a silent social construct of ‘who’ is allowed to feel and ‘who’ isn’t. An idea that maybe some people are more likely to encourage their own allowance of sympathy without being empathetic, while others can be empathetic but not disclosing their allowance of sympathy for others to feel. I don’t know, I’ll let you read her essays for that, but just something to mull over I guess.

*Audible sigh* I guess today is not a day for answers but instead hopefully a progress.

A message from editing Izzy:
So I’m not going to post this publicly (e.g. Tell people on twitter, IG, and FB to come read this) because I only want to advertise positive vibes, but, if you are reading this, hey, nice one getting through this splurge. But also, what I really hope you take away from this is:
1. If you can relate to this, you’re not alone, though you may feel like it now.
2. Just writing this allowed me to calm down, maybe give it a go, it doesn’t have to be as publicly, but make something malleable and get those thoughts down.
3. I’m here, someone’s there, for you. For me right now, I don’t know who that person is, but I know that there is someone, and one day I’ll find a way to talk to them, but for now, I’ll just “fake it till I make it!”

Till (a hopefully more up-beat) next time…

img_7490(Ooo moody metaphorical image about looking into the distance, Izzy Collins you’re a walking cliché) ((Pic credit to Fin))

Time has past…

*Shuffles into the room sheepishly* Hi, me again!… Me? Late? Never, I said I’d post again soo… Oh that was in August…

Well, in my defence it’s been a VERY bust 6months! Here’s the rundown:

September:

  • Unemployed and searching, and searching
  • The “Squad” dispersed to follow their ambitious lives at Uni and work (selfish right?!)
  • Small breakdown… no biggie…
  • Employed! (19th September!) Hired as a Temporary Office Worker

October:

  • Holiday to majorca!
  • Started to apply for University
  • LOTS of Uni visits

November:

  • Lots of cadet activities (as per usual)
  • Working on my personal statement (thanks to Kate 🙂 )

December:

  • CHRISTMAS
  • Squad re-united 😀
  • Finished my personal statement
  • 2/5 University offers!
  • First aid Qualification (Not really relevant, but it was a fun course 😉 )
  • Promoted to Cadet Warrant Officer!

January:

  • Joined the Gym
  • 19th Birthday!
  • 5/5 Uni responses, 4/5 Unconditional offers!
  • Camp America Recruitment fair and Placement!! (After 5hours I might add :’))
  • Lots of birthdays
  • Applicant Day visit to Hull
  • Visited Felis in York
  • Decided and booked a 3week trip to Vietnam and Singapore!!!!

So far in February:

  • Final day at work placement
  • Still going to the Gym (Ha! Bets are off! )

See! Been pretty busy!

So, coming up, in 6weeks time I jet off to Vietnam, Expedition Dinner, Devonshire holiday and lots more!

Over the last few months it’s not that I haven’t wanted to write something on here, instead I have written 3 draft posts. However, they were all pretty negative, which at the moment I don’t think I’m ready to share, maybe one day.

What I’ve learnt in the last 6months is that perseverance and positivity pays off and that with the support and love from those you see everyday it makes it a lot easier. (Ew, cliché)

I wonder what I’ll learn in the next 6months, though hopefully you’ll find out a little bit sooner!

5 Things I Know Now: End Of Canada Exped

Yet again, I find myself sitting on a Westjet plane, seat 34E on another long haul flight, the difference here however to previously is that I have a very different perspective on my life.

Today (24.08.16) marks the end of the Canada expedition. For me, 1 whole year has gone into planning and preparation, for others even longer, but overall, the hard work has paid off. I can now officially say that I have paddled 369km of Quiet Lake to Big Salmon River to the Yukon River in the time of 10 days and 9 nights, all of which spent wilderness camping with only a satellite phone to keep in contact with the outside world. At one point of the trip the nearest road to us was 100 km away- pretty darn well remote!

So, here’s 5 things I’ve learnt from this process:
1. Silence though sometimes deafening, is a beautiful thing.
– I remember, one time, sitting at camp no. 5 we’d had a very unusual day of weather and the temperature in the evening was falling short of 30*c. We’d had a swim in the river (I say swim, more like a competition of who could stand in the ice cold river the longest- Emily won 😉 ) and I sat with Tom, Oli and Richard, while the others cooked for the night, and watched the river flow while the sun beat down on us. And for a brief few moments all I heard on that high bank was nothing. Nothing but me and my idle thoughts and the rushing Salmon river passing by. It was truly incredible.
2. Whether you have a porcelain throne or you have to squat, I’m strangely now comfortable with either- though a proper toilet is always preferred!! 😉
– Small anecdote for this one- camp 2 had the most wonderful view from the loo. It looked out on the oxbow being formed. With an island in the middle with long trees which situated eagle’s nests on the top- not a bad view from the bog!
3. The little petty things in life really don’t matter. Cliché I know but 100% true.
– Not once while all 14 of us have been on this trip have we had an argument- quite a statement ever since we’ve been with each other for 2 weeks straight. That’s not to say no one has annoyed each other, there was a couple of times I was a little short with a couple of people, but we all understood that in that environment you just had to drop it, take a breath and move on, something I’ll take on for daily life.
4. Never (unless there is some miracle) will I be a “morning person”- I can sleep anywhere at anytime and I really enjoy sleep!
– Each morning wake up time would vary between inhumanly early 0515 to lie-in 0630. Yet though we’d had a good 8-10 hours sleep (which got easier as the days went on) was still pretty hard to wake up to, yet, we all did anyway. Prising myself away from the warmth and comfort of my sleeping bag was quite an accomplishment in my eyes, especially when you knew you’d have 50 km to go until you could crawl back into sleep.
5. I Can Do Anything I Set My Mind To.
– I only truly realised during how much self- doubt had surrounded me coming into the expedition. I shan’t pretend everything was hunky- dory all the time, for the first couple of days of the trip I was riddled with anxiety of whether or not I was good enough to do this trip- causing myself sometimes to be ill- something I’ve never experienced before. However, my turning point was on the morning of the 2nd day paddling. It had been a pretty rough first night camping, waking up every couple of hours, slightly cold due to the lack of food I’d eaten that night. However I’d gotten out of my tent and stood up to look over the Big Quiet Lake. The sky was a pink and lilac haze over the valley’s mountains reflected in the lake. I remember thinking to myself “I’m here. I made it. You can’t turn back now. You can’t not do it.”
Steadily over the next couple of days I ate more and more, that anxiety was washed away by the Km paddled and I even went up for 3rds for dinner on some nights!
I realised that I don’t need anyone’s but my own permission to do anything I want to do. Though, support of others is a wonderful thing and luckily I had wonderful support at home through Mum, Dad, Fin, the rest of my amazing family, Stan, and friends. Also out on the river without the laughs and songs from those fantastic people on the exped the situation may have been very different! But really I did this, I used my physical and mental strength to paddle up to 68km in one day. I wouldn’t change a single aspect of this trip. And quite frankly, I’d do it all again (though I was also quite happy for some R&R in Vancouver after!).

This has been a bit of a zen-moment-of-reflection blog, but I’d really like to thank all those involved with this Exped and the training, especially the staff, Dave, Chris, Kat, Mark, Dave E and Max (and Emma during Scotland) and my fellow Paddlers Emily, Richard, Tom, Oli, Ryan, Ben and Dan for making this once-in-a-lifetime trip truly memorable.
So how about Austria next year? Or New Zealand?!

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