Sunday, 30 July 2017

FIND THE MEDITERRANEAN (ON THE EAST COAST OF SCOTLAND)


Terracotta vases; bougainvillaea; quaint, winding streets; colourful pastel houses; shimmering sea scapes and some of the best ice cream in the world. Who'd have thought all this could be found in the East Neuk of Fife in Scotland?

Fair enough, the weather changed about 5000 times in the space of two days, but when the sun actually came out, I could've sworn we were sauntering through a village in the Cyclades in Greece.

Fife is one of my favourite places in Scotland, especially the beautiful seaside villages of Pitenweem, famed for its Arts Festival at the beginning of August, where houses, garages, shops and sheds across the community are transformed into galleries; and Anstruther, home to the best fish and chips shop in the UK (2014-2016).

St Andrews too can't be missed. The capital of the area, famed for its golf, university, abbey, castle, beach, history...phew... and of course Janetta's Ice Cream. No matter what time of day we walked past, the queues were sprawling right down the street to get their tongues on some of this award winning gelato, with over 100 flavours to choose from. Scottish tablet flavour should not be missed.

So instead of flying across the continent to get your fix of Mediterranean delights, take a wee gander to the Fife Coast, and fool all your mates you've been to Kefalonia. Just maybe check the weather first.

Janetta's Gelateria Ice Cream in Strawb Flavour (excuse the slobbers) 

Keeping it casual. Go Go Go sunglasses from Le Specs (my pride and joy) - available HERE 


So many of the houses in Anstruther are just coated in sea shells like this <3 

Lickety Split. Jacket from Missguided. Available HERE 

The best fish and chip shop in Britain - we waited in that ridiculous queue for nearly an hour. But it was worth it. 

My bro the po - ser

Theresa May lyf. Now how to get down...


That's how.
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Friday, 21 July 2017

AUSTRALIA - THE BEST PLACES TO DO REGIONAL WORK (INCLUDING SKI RESORTS)



Let me first start by saying that your 'farm work' doesn't actually have to be on a farm or picking fruit. Most of the time it's the easiest and most readily available type of work to get your second year visa, however, me and my two travel buddies all managed to work for three months in regional areas doing specifed types of work. Some of it was literal farm work, most of it wasn't. 

Putting these days and experiences together meant that we were eligible to apply to get another year visa to play with, and most of the time it didn't even feel like work.

To be eligible to apply for your second year visa in Australia, you must have completed 13 consecutive weeks or 88 days (at different times but equating to the sum of) of work in a specific regional area of the country. These postcodes are listed HERE. You must also have completed a specific type of work, also listed HERE. 

Also as a side note as of March 2017, if you're from any of THESE countries, you can work for 3 months in the tourism industry in the Northern Territory (only) and apply for your second year visa using that work.

However being from the UK, we had to stick to farming, mining or construction, but as our luck would have it, we never had to work our bums off trying to rack up our precious days before the end of our first year in awful back of beyond locations. We stumbled across some of the best places to do regional work, all postcodes and work were viable - and yes, one of these places was a ski resort... 


Australian Ski Resorts (for a ski season that counts as farmwork)


Falls Creek, VIC

It's not just New Zealand that boasts epic ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere. Falls Creek (postcode 3699), as well as Mount Buller Resort (3723), Perisher (2624) and Mount Hotham (3741), but to name a few, are located across the South East of Australia. They all come under the correct regional postcodes, so that's one box ticked, but to be eligible to apply for your second year visa using one of these locations, you have to have done certain types of specified work falling under  farming, mining or construction.

Now we worked out construction work doesn't just mean building a railway or a skyscraper. It can also mean tiling, carpeting, wallpapering, painting - generally helping to do up someone's interiors for them, or even just mowing their lawn or tending their gardens - check that HEREIf you can get your employer to vouch for you and sign off the correct paperwork, this will count towards your second year visa application. You could even work at a bar on the side, you just have to have also helped to do up a house or business for the correct number of hours a day. 

We enjoyed three sweet months of boarding in Falls Creek in Victoria, making friends, partying, having the time of our lives all the while using the work we did there to count towards our visa. This was definitely one of the highlights of our entire travels through Australia, and even if you don't manage to get your regional work sorted at a ski resort, I'd still 100% recommend doing a season.

Falls Creek Mountains

Margaret River (for laid back, well paid work - if you get in fast)


Stella Bella Vineyard, WA

We came across Margaret River by accident. A group of us had bought a car and had decided to road trip down to Esperance in the South West, hoping to come across some fruit picking work on the way. We hadn't expected to be so lucky as to get it so quickly and easily however, and in such an amazing place. We arrived in MR at the end of December, just in time for New Year - and, as it turned out, just in time to nab the best vineyard jobs going. 

Vinepower or Labour Solutions offices are the places to go if you want to get a vineyard job in Margaret River. However go early. As I said, we found out by a lucky accident that early January is the best time to bag yourself the paid by the hour ($25+), cushty jobs that everyone wants, and to avoid becoming a grape picker getting paid a pittance by the bucket later in the season. We got jobs as vineyard workers, pruning the grapes and chasing birds out the nets before picking season hit. It was really chilled and you just listened to your music or chatted while you worked. The weather also isn't mental like the north so we were never too hot. The boys we were with got jobs driving tractors and putting up nets. We got a lot of hours and the vineyard (Voyager Estate) we got placed on was the most beautiful and most sought after place to work. 

Margaret River Backpackers and Margaret River Tourist Park are the best places to get cheap accommodation and meet fellow backpackers. If you're travelling in groups the Tourist Park has little chalets for 4 people with a living room/kitchen. We stayed here and it was perfect for us, it had a pool, bbq area and was a 5 minute walk to the town. Again, get there early (January) as once the picking season starts you'll be hard pushed to find a bed in either of these places. If you don't mind camping there are a lot of spots you can pitch up, but expect to pay a little bit of money. The tourist info is really good to get local campsite tips. There was a bush doof most Saturdays in high season deep in the forest, and a lot of house parties and live music nights in and around town.  

The area itself is stunning. The beaches are white as snow and most of the time they'll be deserted. Try Contos beach, or Redgate beach just outside the town if you want to feel like the only person on earth or Surfer's Beach if you want a bit more buzz. In Hamelin Bay, a 20 minute drive south, Mantarays literally swim in the shallows, and a little further south you can climb the tallest trees in Australia. I loved it here so much and while a lot of people miss out the west of Australia, for those looking for surf, good weather, good food and a more laid back vibe than the east, as well as really well paid regional work, I couldn't recommend it more. 


Working at Voyager Estate

Innisfail (for making lots of pals

Innisfail Backpacker Bommas at The Great Barrier Reef

Innisfail is at the very top of Queensland, about an hour south of Cairns. We road-tripped up the east coast of Australia in a campervan to end up here around February time, literally about $10 to our names. 

As soon as we hit the Innisfail boundary, we were in a sea of banana trees, driving top speed to Walkabout Backpackers, where we'd organised to go land ourselves high flying jobs picking bananas. At this point, we hadn't been in the country too long so weren't that bothered about our second year visa but we thought we might as well just get the ball rolling with our days and we needed money. 

It typically seemed to take around 1-2 weeks to get a job on a good farm, the most popular was Tropicana which gave a good hourly wage. All the jobs were paid hourly through this hostel and although it was a bit decrepit and scabby, we were living with over 100 other people, all working the same hours, so you made friends fast and bonded over mutual bleuugh about the work.

Innisfail itself is a good place to get a good chunk of your farm work done. Banana season is pretty much all year round so there's always jobs, and the town itself has a club and there's lots of places to explore nearby. There's also around 3 or 4 backpacker hostels in the town so you're never short of people to meet in the same boat as yourself. It's also on the cusp of the Great Barrier Reef, and near Cairns for a good night out. 


Mullumbimby Rainforest / Byron Bay (for being super healthy)

The Rainforest House

We actually did this through WOOFing which no longer exists towards second year visas for backpackers which I think is really unfair. However, I think this can be an amazing thing to do for any backpacker as a rule of thumb if you're low on funds or want to experience authentic Australian life. Plus it's a total adventure and if you choose carefully the people you stay with tend to be absolute legends.

Through a scanning of Gumtree, we found two artists looking for a couple of backpackers to come and help clean their house in the outskirts of Byron Bay in exchange for board. We did this for a week or so then found another WOOFing opportunity in the rainforest just outside Mullumbimby on an Organic Farm. 

At first we didn't really know what to expect but when we got there it was like rehab. We lived with a couple and their daughter for over three weeks, painting their house and doing a bit of farming work. They lived in the heart of the rainforest and below the house was a stream with a duck billed platypus. It was amazing and we ate so well, were physically fit because of the work, tanned, we drank no alcohol and barely went on our phones because they didn't believe in wifi or tv. When I look back at the time we spent there I swear it's the best I've ever looked and felt in my life. 




So there you have it. We worked in a lot of other places throughout our Australian journey in some amazing spots I haven't mentioned in this post. They weren't farm work eligible but they were still really great for saving money and experiencing places we wouldn't normally have known about. If you want to know anything else about our work or more information on regional work for your second year visa don't hesitate to get in touch! 

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Monday, 10 July 2017

SOUL AND SURF - WORK AND LIVE IN (OR JUST VISIT) INDIAN PARADISE


So, for anyone still reading my blog (hi mum), I realise I have been MIA for a little while. In this time I've been away travelling far and wide, so unfortunately my blog posting fell by the way side. That was like the line from a rap. Anyway, since returning to the UK, I've been dotting about and always felt a bit like something was missing creatively for me. So I've returned to my trusty blog, like a long lost twin, other half of gold medallion in hand, to get back to business.

I thought a nice place to begin again would be a little review of one of the last places I traveled to, Kerala in India, and the little yoga and surf retreat I stayed at while I was there. Soul & Surf is a little piece of paradise in the South of India. Built for surfers and yogis alike, this clifftop beach resort has a relaxed vibe and friendly, laid back atmosphere. Breakfast each morning is set out in a communal area, meaning all visitors and staff got to really meet and connect with one another. As well as bonding over mutual frustration at learning to surf, lounging about in the resort garden in hammocks and looking out over the cliffs also provides a real opportunity to relax or talk to anyone chilling and passing through. Also, don't miss the fish tacos - absolute drool. 

It also provides work for travelers in exchange for food, a bed and use of surf and yoga lessons. Find out more about that via their website here. We found out about this when we were staying in Margaret River in Australia and one of my friends bagged himself a job working at Soul and Surf for three months. Jobs available range from surf instructors, to cafe staff to photographers.

 BBQ and movie nights as well as the small clifftop village of Varkala lined with small shops and locally caught seafood restaurants means there's never a lack of activities in this still relatively undiscovered, tropical jewel of India. 


Surfers paradise in Black Beach, Varkala. This small palm fringed patch in the south of Kerala is still to be jabbed fully by the spear of tourism, with many untouched gems such as this to surf to your heart's content in without fear of any crowds.


Sunrise in Varkala 


Hosing down surfboards after a hefty morning getting bashed about at the beach.


Surfers share the beaches not with throngs of holiday makers, as is becoming the case in the northern Goa, but with local fisherman, resting here with their morning catch on Black Beach


Tuk Tuk, Palm Palm, Surf Surf. Surfboards strapped to the morning ride to the beach.



From Varkala, it's a short train journey to Fort Kochi, a colonial town, still with Dutch, British, Jewish and Chinese influence running through its heart. Above,  Chinese fishing nets used in the fort, helping to supply the multitude of seafood restaurants Kochi has to offer. 


A woman collects water in the Backwaters of Fort Kochi. Many tours are available from the town. A three hour tour takes a small boat through mangroves and rivers and streams, each corner you turn providing rich and wonderful sights. I couldn't recommend it more.


Kerala Backwaters. This photo always makes me think of the Jungle Book. 


Surfboard peekaboo 


                            A fisherman's quick fag break with surfers waiting for the next thrill in the                                                                                                    background.                                                                   

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