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Showing posts from 2003
"Everything is going to be alright, when we go Shopping" - BNL, Everything, 2003

What will I do if they ever stop recording?

I never thought I would say this about a band but the Barenaked Ladies have done it again with their latest album - Everything.

Driving today in the Red Subaru on the way to exchange some gifts and pick up some for my family Christmas (we've spent Christmas with D's family and are heading to see my on Monday for new years! woo hoo), I decided I would enjoy a little 'me' time and listen to what I now know believe to be my favourite present.

I just fell in love with every song. Every single one. Everything, you might say.

Each one was unique but catchy. I found myself singing along instantly. The words are always so true. So poetic but not pretentious. And every time I hear a new album by them, I feel like they've been living part of my life while writing the new songs because I find I relate to so many of them, in so many ways.

I reco…
I'd Like to Thank the Academy

So, just realized that there are actually awards for doing this kind of thing:

The best of British blogging

Who knew?

Well, obviously a bunch more people than myself.

It strikes me as funny. Blogging - to me - is essentially a form of diary writing. Having it recognized in such an official way makes it a bit more important.

I'm still quite a virgin to the whole underground world of the blog so perhaps others have a different take on what a blog actually is and how you define it.

Some blogs I go to tend to have so much information that I am immediately overwhelmed and click the 'back' button faster than you can say "blog".

I like when blogs have links within their posts. But a link every other word makes my head spin. Did somebody really love so many things within a span of writing for 20 minutes that they had to send me off into the neverland of the Internet 15 different times?

It's hard enough to follow the websites that I li…
Some Additions

I've just made additions to my the side bar. It was fun to get into geeky code and just fiddle around.

Now, if I could only figure out how to make it look a bit prettier...

The Wake

We have Thea's wake today. I'm not sure where the origin of wake comes from but on first thought, it doesn't seem to make any sense.

No one is a-wake. Everyone is sad and solemn. Perhaps I'll do some investigation and find out what the purpose of the word is.

A Good Memory

It's funny that I would choose today to suddenly alter my site. Thea loved to get 'into the zone' and go all 'web geeky' into her sites. When we were working on the launch, we would sit in our cubicles, side by side, just tap-tap-taping away on our keyboards. In silence but comfortable in each other's presence.


tap tap tap

"Hey Thea, I was thinking..."

tap tap-ity-tap tap tap

"We should maybe figure out how we're going to.."

tap tap tap dit-…
All of your comments warmed my heart and brought a tear to my eye. It is something Thea would have loved so much - women interacting. People, interacting. She loved it when technology brought people together.

Thanks for remembering and honouring her without even knowing who she was.


I didn't want to leave this with such sorrow so I am only posting a short one tonight as I'm a bit tired from my new 'day job'. (temp work ended up working out until the end of this week!)

A Friendly Voice

I'm going to hang out with a friend on Friday I haven't seen since June - and a short lunch at that.

I'm so excited.

I just talked to her on the phone.

She sounds amazing. A new place, a new job - her life is just is such a good place right now. And I can hear it in her voice. She is a changed woman.

Guess a lot has changed for both of us over the past year.

I'm enjoying this catching up with people from home.

I hope it doesn't keep me here.
An Incredible Loss

The world has said goodbye to an amazing spirit.

My friend, mentor and pal, Thea Partridge, died suddenly on Monday evening from a brain aneurysm.

She was an amazingly enthusiastic, supportive, innovative, intelligent and fun lady to be around.

I just can't believe it.

She was 54.

So many times, over the past year, she has sent me wonderfully encouraging emails about how I made the right decision, that I would look at the world in a completely different way.

I am so sad.

I am still in shock. We had exchanged emails on Monday morning - both apologizing for being so busy and not yet being able to meet and up and that we would definitely get together after New Years.

And that afternoon, she died.

I sent her a birthday e-card on Monday. Her birthday is on the 18th. I get reminded by to send cards to those on my list. I got a second one for Thea - I was going to 'do it later' but decided I might as well set it up to arrive on Thursday as a su…
How exciting are comments?

Thanks to the ladies who said hello. I will not write about it any more because I can see myself getting obsessed at what people are saying:)


Taking care of my 15 month old nephew today. He has changed so much since we got home. It's hard to even remember what he was like two weeks ago, let alone a year ago.

D and him are real buddies - which is kinda cute in a way. It's like a trial run for dad-hood...oh goodness...what am I saying? Must be that time of year... or month.


Skating on the weekend was the most amazing experience. Just going around and around the rink, looking up at all the lights, seeing all kids, hearing people speak without accents, seeing the CN Tower.

It just made me realize I'm home. There's snow. There's ice. It's crisp - but not wet cold like England.

And I'm around so many people again.

When we were travelling, I did like the aspect of anonymity. It was really just D and I. I look back and realiz…

Thanks to my feisty friend, ( I have now added comments to this site:)

I wonder if this will be counter productive, considering my last post.

Oh well - let's see who's out there, I guess.
My inspiration seems to have failed me in the mornings lately. I find I'm a much better writer at night.

I used to be able to open up my blog, and come out with something half decent.

Now, I seem to struggle first thing in the morning to come up with something interesting to say.

Maybe it's because I know I have now given this web address out. I like that people enjoy what I'm writing. I'm worried, though, that I am thinking too much about what to write instead of just writing it.

I have to try and pretend that I don't know that anyone is reading this. Then, maybe I'll be able to write again.

Isn't that the strangest thing? You want to write to change people's lives, to make a difference, to have your voice heard.

Then, when you know people might be reading, you lose your ability to write.

Bear with me, readers. Perhaps I'm just having a case of the Mondays.
An Early Christmas Gift

I lost a good friend to an argument a year ago.

I don't think either of us realized how much we were friends until the disagreement.

It took me a whole year to stop being angry. I'm not a petty person. I don't hold grudges. I just felt I had been tricked into counting on someone. And I did.

And I don't count on people. I help others. I support them. But I rarely ask people to help me. Must be the perfectionist part of me.

I don't like to admit that I'm wrong. I'm even worse at apologizing.

And, I don't like to be let down. Usually I keep my expectations low of other people because of this. Sometimes, I get burned.

I got my friend back last night. I said everything I wanted to say. And he listened.

I thought I would never stop being angry. Or hurt or sad. But I have. I realized sometimes you do need to let a fight last so long that you can get over being so upset and forget why you were even mad in the first place. It makes it easi…
My Old Life?

It's weird to have a social life again - since when did I know so many people?

It's weird to no longer have the time to lounge around - too many people to see and stories to tell

It's bizarre to have multiple outfits to choose from - there was only so much we could fit in our backpacks

It's fun to actually get dressed up to go out - usually it was me and D and some bottles of wine


Tonight, we're going ice skating. Then out with friends in Toronto. I am so excited. It is really a winter in Canada. I can't believe how much I really did miss snow and winter events.

I wrote earlier about fond memories of tobboganning. I have probably only skated about 5 times in the last 6 years so I don't know why I associate that with something that I have been dying to do.

Perhaps it was just knowing that I COULDN'T skate in Leeds - that is what is making me so exstatic.

My Canadian friends must think I'm crazy to m iss the cold. They keep telling …
Be Prepared

Energy levels are not high but had a little thought, un-writing, un-travel related to share.

Ladies, put your girls in Girl Guides.

When I lived in Canada, I volunteered as a Girl Guide leader. I did it initially to bring back fond memories as a Brownie, Girl Guide, Pathfinder and yes..a Junior Leader.

I chose Guides because I wanted to lead 9 to 11 year olds. This was definitely the best age to hang out with girls.

Old enough that they're becoming young ladies but young enough that they don't say 'I Hate You" every other sentence.

Tonight, I went back for the annual Christmas party to chat with my leader friends and see how much the girls have grown since I've left. It was so nice to be back with them. Watching them interact with each other. Making them figure out how to do crafts on their own instead of becoming frustrated and doing the craft for them.

And just watching them "be", without feeling the type of pressures they might feel at home…
Well, temp agencies are what they are cracked up to be.

I'll be offline during the day until the weekend. YAY some extra cash before Christmas:)

Will try and post at night...if my energy levels are up:)
A Cinderella Story?

Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem real.

I’m moving forward with my writing and my life in a way that I never thought would actually happen. Being the queen of procrastination, I’m quite good at coming up with excuses as to why something hasn’t been done.

But it seems to be happening. And now what? What happens when I really start to get doing exactly what I want to be doing? It’s a bit scary.

It doesn’t involve money. For me, it really has never been about that. I just wanted enough to be able to eventually get a facial and manicure every month – although I’ve never had either so who knows if I even want those on a regular basis. Maybe just frequent shopping sprees. People who don’t have any money do that so I can’t possibly need a fortune to hit the mall every once in awhile.

They always say, do what you love and you will succeed. For a while, I was sure that I could just blame my failures on the fact that I wasn’t doing what I loved.

And when did I stop being worrie…
I knew there were things about my personality that would change this year. I wasn't expecting, however, to come home, afraid of barking dogs. I didn't actually realize that I might be afraid of a barking dog until last week, my friend's cute and cuddly golden retriever was trying to protect me from a black garbage bag flying around in the backyard - obviously resembling something like Darth Vader.

When we lived in Leeds, we had a cute little flat on a cute little street. They were row houses - all stuck together - and there were only eight of them. We lived right at the end.

I loved that I felt like I was living in Coronation Street. It was so quaint - so England.

And then I met the dogs.

Mutt #1 - a yippie brown and white small terrier dog with an obvious Napoleon complex and an obsession with protecting its territory.

Mutt #2 - a small black old dog with more of a bark than a howl

Mutt #3 - German Shepherd puppy which grew quite quickly in the time we were there and lear…
I've missed a couple of days.

I had a couple of interesting experiences since I last wrote and I'm eager to share them.

Sadly, I have been enjoying myself too much the past couple of days to even be in front of a computer.:)

One more day in my good old small town.

My stories will have to wait until tomorrow...
Food for Thought

I was never a picky eater. Or so my mother tells me.

As a child, I would eat just about anything.

I admit, I will ‘lose my lunch’ if I smell or taste coconut. I usually just say I’m allergic to it because it just makes it easier than going into details. I think it has something to do with my recollection of the smell and the consistency of flaked coconut.

For a while, I went off marshmallows after I ate too many roasted ones camping and made myself sick. I’m sure I stopped eating spaghetti – because of the flu – and oranges – from when my sister had the flu.

But generally speaking, I didn’t have a problem finding something to eat.

When I went away to university, it seemed that my favourite foods just happened to be good for you. Could not get enough of vegetables. Fresh. Canned. Frozen. Bring it on. Ate rice every day. And stopped liking sweet things – chocolate, gummies, ice cream. My only weakness was potato chips. Somehow, my taste buds were helping me out.

Escape Artist

I had a weird feeling this afternoon. I was tying up my shoes to take my friend’s dog for a walk when an eerie question popped into my head.

Am I escaping?

Just like that. It was a question as clear as day. And I had no idea where it came from.

What if, the voice continued, I was even a full time, professional escapist?

I stopped and thought about my actions. I came to some conclusions:

I have moved every year since second year university. I have not had a home longer than 12 months since 1997. I used to think I didn’t like that. But maybe, subconsciously, I did.

I have procrastinated every since grade 7. Procrastination is a form of trying to get away with something - or away from something.

Every day, I come up with a new idea of what I want to be when I grow up. It's like I find ways to start from scratch all over again just so I don't have to justify why I haven't finished what I started.

I have come back to my small hometown to stay for a week. I would st…
There is snow outside and I couldn't be happier.

I never thought I would be happy to see the white stuff again. I didn't even really realize that I missed it. Until I saw it.

When I was little, I remember getting all bundled up with my snow pants and winter jacket - non-matching of course - and going outside to play in the snow. Sometimes is would be snow men. Maybe even as elaborate as a snow family. My sisters and I could never really seem to find a good carrot to stick for their noses. It always seemed we had the dried up shriveled ones that wouldn't actually stick in the packed snow. So the snow people eventually ended up without noses.

If it was the weekend, my dad would pack us up into the large GMC grey van (in later years known as 'The Beast') and drive us over to the hospital grounds where they had THE BEST hill for sledding. My mom would actually be in charge of making sure that we were bundled up. 2 or 3 layers of pants. Undershirts, turtleneck and sweat…
What's in a Beverage?

There's nothing like a good cup of tea. That was one of the best parts of coming back to our little flat in Leeds. I hate to say it, but I think England turned me into a tea snob.

In France, they use steamed milk. If you've never had a cup of tea in France, it tastes like used bathwater with bubble bath that has gone stale.

In Spain they do the same thing. And they also look at you like you're from outerspace. I mean, who doesn't want coffee/expresso?

By the time we got to Portugal, I stopped trying. Also because I was not about to pay more for tea that tasted like warm vomit than a nice 'vino blancho'.

And so, it was always with great anticipation and excitement, we would arrive back to England and the first thing I would do was get myself a 'proper' cup of tea. I'd make a whole pot. Then, I'd relish in the taste for days on end - going on and on as D can attest to - about the glorious taste of a warm Earl Grey.

Always …
My horoscope told me there was something new on the horizon. I never really go for that kind of stuff but today, I feel the winds of change.

I like it.
Becoming Parisian

It's hard to believe that four days ago I was in Paris.

Our final day was meant to be quite a hectic one. Since our journey began last year, there were many places D and I had decided were 'must sees'. The DDay Beaches in Normandy was one of them.

Somehow, I always pictured the beaches to be 'just outside of Paris'. I suppose everyone can be ignorant about everything in France being 'just outside of Paris' - same as everything in England is 'just outside of London'--but I digress.

So, the distance ended up being two and a half hours by train, just to get to the city to start the bus tour. We were committed.

We got up at around 7 am, breakfast in the hotel and then onto the Metro to catch a 9:08 train. We were feeling a bit haggard - the night before was filled with magnificent French wine - but we really wanted to get there.

It took us a bit longer than expected on the sub par underground transportation system in Paris. There are no…
Back in the saddle again. Wow, I have really missed this.

Being away from a computer with full time internet access has its benefits. For me, I feel most creative in front of a computer screen. My fingers tapping away. Writing in my journal, for some odd reason, doesn't seem to have the punch that brings out words in me.

I've spent so much time today catching up on email that I can't write much now but just wanted to get that first post up there to feel like I'm 'in it' again.

Being home is the best feeling.
I wanted today's post to be really poetic - but I think when you want something too much, sometimes it doesn't work.

It's my last day of having regular access to this blog. I will not be able to write every day now because obviously, backpacking around Europe is not ideal with a laptop - and I'd want to experience it anyway.

As the day goes on, I'm getting upset. The first person at work has just left and it was the first real goodbye. This is just going to get worse.

I think instead of trying to write something, I will post what I wrote my work colleagues:

"Thank you all for:

Making me feel so welcome
Putting up with my foreign words such as 'pants' and 'vest' and many many more
Being patient with my bossiness - but feeling content to boss me right back - I need it you know!
Making me happy that I chose Yorkshire and not London - Leeds rules!
Letting me sound really smart when I talked about Canada - when I get home, I won't have that!!
A Good Sendoff

The partying has begun. I feel completely unispired to write today simply because my head is pounding. 5 large glasses of white wine was perhaps not the greatest idea on a Wednesday night. Leads to dancing in routines, as though I'm Brittany Spears as well.

But nevermind - I'm leaving in 6 days. It somehow doesn't seem possible.
A Full Year and an Inspirational Moment

A year ago today, I woke up at my parents' place in Chicago, finished packing (eternal procrastinator) and set off to O'Hare Airport fly over the ocean to a new beginning.

I was to arrive in Amsterdam on October 23rd, 2002 to meet D - who I hadn't seen for 20 days - not that I was counting. Leaving was meant to bring many things for me/us - one of them being a renewed enthusiasm for writing and being a writer.

It seems quite fitting, when I think back over this last year, that Amsterdam was the first place I hit. It was Anne Frank who got me started on this whole writing thing in the first place.

I remember reading her in elementary school for our English class. I was so touched by her story. I starting writing religiously in my diary every day, in the hopes that I could someday make a difference like she did, that in someway, people would read my diary and feel the way I felt when I read hers.

I started trying to write more profound…
My Little Green Book
The strangest things excite me these days. I felt quite 'chuffed' and satisfied when I found a little green book, perfect size, with a hard cover, for my lists and my travels.

I have this tendency to imagine items that I want to buy without even knowing whether or not they exist. I get an idea in my head about what I want and I have trouble buying anything that is not the exact replica of the imagine item. Creativity gone awry.

But the other day, I went looking for a small sized note book that I could take with me on our travels. When we were out the first time, I had this great travel journal that a friend bought me. It asked various questions about specific days and one of them included meals. I would have never thought to include that detail in a travel log but it turned out to be quite useful. Many a time, D and I would be on trains and he would say, 'Well what did we eat that day?' - to be honest, I never really thought that question would come…
Keeping in touch

I realize now more than ever the importance of really planning to keep in touch. It's easy enough to say 'we'll be friends forever' but it's a bit more difficult than that.

I used to think that if you had to work too hard at a friendship or family relationship, it wasn't worth it. Being friends or family means you will just be there..when you're needed. You don't need to constantly be keeping up to date on each others lives.

Sadly, I used to see keeping in touch on a regular basis was 'working too hard'.

It's so easy to get caught up in day to day life. Everyone's busy and they have their own things going on - I was one of them. When I was working in Toronto, I felt like my life was consumed with work or money - or more correctly, the lack of money that I seemed to have. I seemed to be making enough but I was always getting stressed about getting in touch with friends for fear of having no money to actually enjoy myself i…
Would you like fries with that?
Using my creative juices to come up with inventive ways to make money over Christmas:

1 - Waltz into a travel agent and tell them I've been living abroad for a year - do they need any help filing?

2 - Head to Molly Maid - I've cleaned my house enough times - plus, all those rich people who will be having parties at Christmas won't have time in between shopping to Hoover the floor

3 - Giftwrapping at the mall - someone has to do it

4 - (similar to 1) Waltz into an English/Irish pub and tell them I've been living in England for a year - can I show them how they really do it?

Size is Relative
Just booked our room in Prague - it's really happening isn't it?

Getting the details of the room made me realize how little we need to actually feel comfortable. It was described by the owner as 'not luxurious' but the location is amazing.

D and I are not used to staying in any kind of luxury while we backpack. We prefer a room to ourselves as opposed to a dorm style. We like to take an 'afternoon siesta' and it's always a bit awkward with multiple people in the room.

Plus, I have a habit of spreading all my stuff out - in dorms you have to lock everything up - I'm a girl! I need to make things feel homey!

We're arriving into Prague around 8:00 at night which is why we even looked at getting a room ahead of time. We don' t even really ever book ahead.

Since the owner sent us the size, we attempted to figure out just how much room we would have.

A mate at work looked concerned,

"Well, that won't be very big but you wan…
Final Countdown
The countdown is on. Only 12 days until we fly away.

Kick it into 'Travel Girl' mode.

And I love that packing will be much easier then it was last time.

I don't even think we can fill more than one box. Makes you realize how little materialistic things you really need in life.
I got this forward the other day - I realize it is might be copyrighted so I'll make this plug - checkout as I think that's where this came from.

It really put things into perspective. Not all of it makes sense to me or is absolutely true, but it's rare these days that I get an email forward that makes me really think.

They call it the "Quarter-life Crisis."

It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about yourself that you
didn't know and may not like.

You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.

You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren't
exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones.

What you don'…
It hit me this morning that there are quite a few aspects of life in Leeds to which I have gotten quite accustomed. I'm sure in many ways I have forgotten what it's actually like to live back in Canada. Over the past couple weeks, I have been so excited about so many things about home. But coming into work, it suddenly hit me - what about all the ways of life here in Leeds?

And so, a new list in my head is begun....

Things about Leeds I will miss:

The way I feel as I walk down the streets of cobblestones and old buildings - square, concrete buildings will just not be the same

The double-decker bus - although it's probably the only thing about the bus I will miss

The adoration of tea - I've never met so many people who knew how to make a smashing cuppa

The social life - it's a place where going out on a Friday and Saturday night at ANY AGE is not only considered normal, it's encouraged. Plus, you don't need to have a reason to go for a pint.

Jacket potatoes …
My mom said something funny yesterday about the English and their tea.

I'll have to paraphrase because I can't remember her words exactly but she said the English always seem to get through anything if they could have a cup of tea.

"Oh, the bombs are coming again Nigel - let's have a cup a tea."
"Well, doesn't look like mommy or daddy will make it back from the black plague - let's have a cup of tea"

"They've been through hell over history but seem to conquer all with a cup of tea."

I had to laugh - I happened to be quite hungover and before she rang, I had just made myself a cup of tea.

Sounds so Monty Python in an "Every Sperm is Sacred" kind of way.

Only two more weeks left in Leeds. Hard to believe that all the friends I have made here - I may quite never see them again.

I am looking forward to our last journey this year - Prague, Austria, Germany, Belgium and Paris - perhaps three times a charm.

Sometimes I have to stop and realize what has happened over this last year. We will have achieved our goal of seeing every country in Europe by the time we go home...almost..

Ireland will simply have to get a full two weeks sometime in the future.:)
I seem to have all this creative energy going on in my head but no where to channel it. I find that when I try to sit down and write a spectacular experience, it never quite sounds the way I'd like it to. It's almost as if I'm losing all capability to describe events.

My journalistic instincts tells me to cut out the words - and in doing that, I end up writing some sort of simplified version of events. It's as if all my stories now are glorified versions of "What I did on my summer holiday".

( Just looked up and realized that I used the words 'events' twice in a matter of four sentences. I must be losing it.)

(I also just noticed that this entire blog entry is a bit whiney. Perhaps I should retire and return tomorrow...)
It's my buddies' birthdays today - J&J - bizarre that I would have two good friends whose birthday was on the same day.

Make me miss home a bit - the boys who I was going to tour Europe with after university. Some things don't always turn out as you planned.

Then again, sometimes that's not a bad thing :)

Happy B-Day boys - have some Timmy's and a butt for me....
This as a daily ritual is a bit difficult - seeing as I wanted to focus simply on travel stories. When you're not travelling, I guess you turn to remembering fondly things that you did when you were travelling.

I have now spoken French, Spanish, Porteguese, Greek, Italian and German. I feel confident that I could get by in a country with only a phrase book and lots of smiles.

I've learned that I love to communicate with people. And I will go to great lengths to make sure I'm clearly understood. While D is content with pointing and nodding, I feel I must master the "May I have.." and "Thank you very much" in every language.

It's my little way of connecting with the places in the world I visit - to feel like I know the country or city just that little bit more because of its people.
The thing about trying to write all these adventures down is that it always sounds better in my head. The adventure is much more of an adventure when I think about it.

Ah, the trials of a writer...

I do feel like I am but when I read it or even start to write, it's as if I don't know any words.

And so, I turn to crosswords to inspire me...
Just changed the template..hmmm..don't think I adore this one either but I'm all for change...I'll revisit in a couple of days. Realized I have to finish my Day Cruise story! Whoops!
My Meander friend gave me the inspriration to write today. She really is more of a travel mentor than anything. I guess it suits it well since she taught me so much when we launched the Travel Channel - one of them being - GET OUT THERE AND TRAVEL!

And so, I continue to go on jaunts - our latest was Oktoberfest in Munich. I love Germany. I have been so excited to get there since we started our adventure and three days with beers and sausage, I've been bitten by the bug. I can't really explain it.

I adored the streets - even though they didn't really look that different to other European cities

The people were so friendly - although as long as you try and speak the language, so it everyone else

I felt very comfortable - must be a 'past life' thing.
September 11th is creeping up again.

The second anniversary and I still feel like I'm being punched in the stomach when I think of the horror.

I know every media outlet and their dogs will be writing special features, talking to family members to see 'where they are now' and coming up with every written angle about the day. Feels kind of funny for me to even be expressing anything about it - like it's going to be overdone anyway.

They were right when they said the world will never be the same. Being Canadian, I feel just as close to the whole thing as the Americans. But perhaps the rest of the world thinks so too.

So what does it have to do with this blog, you ask? The only good to come out of such a horrible day was the wake up call it gave me about my life. You never know how long you've got - even if you lead a normal North American life, get up, go to work, turn your computer on, check your email, eat right, exercise, watch Seinfeld and Friends on the televison…
Edinburgh this weekend - I can't wait to go on a short holiday again!

I swear - I have the travel bug and it's not going away.

This whole packing-it-in-leaving-the-country-thing has just got me wondering if I'll ever settle down.

I think I understand nomads.
Death and being far away. I have found it doesn't actually matter who the person is, if you know them only slightly, you will be more affected than you would be normally.

I come from a small town anyway and I'm used to knowing everyone's name at least - especially because I worked for the town paper for awhile - and so when the small town loses someone, I feel I can get more emotional than I should.

But this morning, I found out about a guy killed in a car crash that was the younger brother of a girl who was in my grade. I swear I can remember being friends with hin too - either through drama or our monthly school television show - but I just can't place him.

I want to be at home so I can look in my yearbook and refresh my memory. Just for him. I know he's gone so maybe it's just for his family. I'm not really sure why I want to remember so badly but I just do.

Just another form of emotion to add to the long list I have been feeling over the past year.

My t…
I miss my friends and family for different reasons - at different times.

It's at that moment when you want them there. It could be for a flashing second - that you see someone wearing a shirt they would wear or you see someone in a really bad outfit and you want to gossip about it.

It's weird how homesickness sneaks up on you. It would be better if it was all at once and then you could get it over with. But perhaps that's the beauty of it. That's why it's painful. And that why you realize you need your friends and family so much.

How do you miss people if you see them every day? The sad thing is that we need to be away from the people we love to appreciate how important they are to us.

It's difficult but without distance, they are just there.

They are nothing more than the toast you make in the morning or the dinner tea you make at night. Reducing your loved ones to a daily routine.

That's why we need distance.
A boat trip up the Italian coast sounded like the adventure that we needed. We had met up with an American couple, Brett and Becky, who had suggested the idea. Although a little outside the budget, we decided that we would never be able to do it if we were on our own so might as well take the plunge.

We had landed ourselves in Cinque Terre, a touristy spot along the eastern coast of Italy. Five little towns - in no particular order - Monterossa, Vernaza, Manarola, Riomaggiore and Corniglia.

Brett was our captain to start with. he had been given a short lesson by our 'friendly' boat renter. He had kindly asked us to come back in 20 minutes when we first approached him. We thought it was because he was waiting for a boat to get back. As it turned out, he was simply not quite ready to get up from under his umbrella to move our boat out.

As we headed out, I could feel myself relaxing even more than I already was. It had been a great relief to get to this place after a busy 4 days …
Halloween in France is really not all that different than the ones I've experienced in North America. Just that no one says trick or treat - they must say something in French be we never found out. And perhaps the scenery - sitting outside in a large square in Lyon, watching the dressed up people go by - makes it a bit different than what we were used to.

We were in Lyon for 3 days and luckily, one of them happened to be Halloween. We didn't really know what to expect and had no idea if there would be anything going on. We had friends that told us places to spend it - Go to Prague, Go to Paris - but those places just didn't seem to fit in with our timeline.

In the end, we learned that it didn't really matter because there were kids everywhere, dressed up and adults came out later in the evening, themselves ready to party. How was this any different to what we were used to?

Expectations can be a funny thing. Something you're so excited for, can let you down in the …
It's a funny thing ferry sleeping. Our first ferry from Piraeus to Mykonnos was on the Greek Orthodox easter long weekend. People just threw their stuff on the decks inside and sat down. Who knows why they wouldn't try and get in a chair but heck, when in Rome. Plus, the shock factor of not speaking the same language left me in the inclined position to just do as they did.

There was the overnight ferry from Crete to Piraeus when we thought it would be a good idea to just sleep on the deck - cheapest option for the budget traveller.

After scoping out many a place, we found these wonderful long benches - we really couldn't believe our luck!

All was going well as we spread out our goods for sleeping - me with my little bilum bag stuffed with clothes for a pillow and my jackets as my blankets - until a friendly steward came by to tell us if we wanted to sleep there, we would have to wait until 11:30 p.m.

It seems we had landed ourselves in the first class section of the deck. …
It's been over a year since we decided to take this adventure.

Sadly, I have not written all that I wanted to on this 'vitural diary'. I suppose it's difficult when travelling on a bus across Crete or staying in hostels in Rome to actually whip out the laptop and start typing.

And with the cost of internet cafes - whoa! - not so much a good thing for the budget traveller.

As I sit now, however, at my temp job in Leeds UK, I am finding some time to write on my lunch break.

Each day now I will be able to pop in and write a little story from our adventures - whichever one comes to mind. Today, it's the overview of the last 12 months.

July 2002 - D. and I decide to give it all up - the condo, the car, the cushy jobs - and move to England to travel Europe!

August 2002 - The condo sells in 10 days! A record, I would think...and so now that we're homeless, there's no turning back

September 2002 - finishing off jobs and preparing to leave. D. takes a couple of week…