Christmas + mental health

Not another mental health post, some of you may be thinking. Where are the pretty travel pictures and travel stories, others of you may ask.

They’re here. I’ve got them. I cannot wait to share them, but with only nine days to go until Christmas I have something else on my mind.

Mental health. Not mental illness, not mental disorder, and certainly not mental problems. Mental health.

Christmas to my family is incredibly important, we love Christmas. We love being together and cooking and sharing thoughtful gifts, blasting Christmas music and wearing silly hats and telling terrible jokes from our Christmas crackers. My favourite memory of many of my christmases will always be that moment when I simply could not continue, I was full and exhausted, I’d had a day of fun and it was finally time for bed. I will always hear my mum and dad saying Merry Christmas darlin’ as I headed to bed each year. That is my favourite Christmas memory.

The holiday season is not always a happy time for some, for some people it brings with it memories of loss, a time of grieving, feelings of sadness and confusion. For some it means nothing but anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts.

Christmas is hectic. The holidays can be a real trigger for many people out there and we have a responsibility to check in on others.

For one of my friends, she lost her Mother on Christmas Eve. Another lost her best friend to depression on Christmas Day. Some people no longer have anyone to put their tree up with them. There are families who cannot afford to eat. Families without homes. Families doing their best to keep everything together, even though it seems impossible.

My favourite Big Issue vendor in Brisbane, Nathan is someone who stands outside of the 7/11 on Adelaide Street and wishes a Merry Christmas to ever single person who walks past him. I always make the time to stop and ask him how he is and have a chat. December brings with it a lot of hurt and sadness to his life. Not only is he homeless, but he lost his Mother, Step-Dad and his brother in various December’s. Still he wishes you a Merry Christmas. When I see people ignore him or even scowl at him I feel nothing but disgrace for the human race.

Last year, the week before Christmas, Nathan was telling everyone it would be his last week in Brisbane, he was moving to Hervey Bay to be with his son. His happiness was contagious, he hadn’t been that genuinely happy in months. I was silently rooting for him.

When I saw him on that same corner in January, my heart broke for him.

Missing out on the Portman’s dress you wanted for Christmas is not a tragedy. Working Christmas Eve instead of partying with your friends is not sad. Spending Christmas with your family-in-law or annoying Uncle / Cousin / Sibling is not depressing. They are all circumstantial situations.

I want you to enjoy your Christmas, be kind to everyone. Forget misgivings, remove toxic people from your life. Remember the reason for the season and practice kindness. Smile at your Big Issue vendor, if you have $7, buy a magazine. Chat with them. Ask how are you and be ready to listen and to mean it. Be socially aware.

Christmas is not shopping. Christmas is not presents. Christmas is not enduring Christmas with family, it’s an honour.

Christmas is love.

Practice love, always.

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Travel Diary (Day 8)- Faroe Islands

Day 9 – Friday 28/9

Waking up and knowing that you are heading to a magical land you stumbled across through Pinterest five years ago, is to say the least, a little overwhelming.

As excited as we both were, we really had no idea what our expectations should be or what we would be coming across. We knew that the weather for most of our trip was likely to be rain-filled, windy and cold. So to some degree we were prepared for that (side note: jeans, as fond as Aussies are of them, are not technically wet/warm-weather pants), other than that we had no idea what would be awaiting us.

We caught a cab from our hostel to the Copenhagen Central train station, as neither of us really felt like hauling our packs there. Once we were at the station it was all pretty straight-forward and just like that, we were on our journey to Vágar Airport, Faroe Islands. The flight was only two hours, Atlantic Airways has movies available on their internal and free Wi-Fi which is always appreciated! I made a terrible choice and watched a movie about an elderly couple, one of whom has Alzheimer’s and the other terminal cancer. Grant watched a comedy and his thoughts were “why are you crying? Always go dumb with the movie Courtney. Always”. I’ll admit it, there was far too much crying on that plane.

As our plane came in for landing and we spotted many of the Faroe Islands our of our window, we were nearly jumping from our seats. Flying into the Faroes is other-worldly, it is honestly like nothing you have ever seen before. Or in our case, will ever see again.

Getting off the plane was easy, getting the keys to our hire car was easy – there was just one problem. My international sim did not work there. Grant had bought a SIM card at the Copenhagen airport as well as the top-up credit, with the assurance (yet disdain) that it would work by the cashier. Yet here we were, in the Faroes with absolutely no reception. Thankfully I managed to feed offa servo’s Wi-Fi as G bought us very bizarre drinks (my request admittedly) which tasted like Guinness cola soda (but in a bad way, not a good way). So after a few back and forthcoming we found our Air BnB in Tórshavn.

Our Air BnB absolutely blew away any expectations we had, it was gorgeous, local to everything and had anything you could possibly need. Relief. Pure relief after our bare-as-bones hostel stay the two nights before.

It was a converted area on the bottom floor of our hosts home. We had a separate bedroom, laundry, wet room, tv with Apple TV and a courtyard. The kitchen was fully equipped and it just felt like home. For three nights we paid around $600 Australian and our host had left some local fruit and biscuits and locally brewed beer as well. It was just lovely.

It was getting on in the day so we went and spent a small fortune on a grocery shop, came home, had a few drinks and watched tv. The little comforts. We also started planning our Faroe Island attack for the next couple of days.

I was still coughing and generally being gross (seriously a holiday tradition of mine is to be a germ-riddled pain in the arse. So Grant slept in the lounge room, which is so unfair for him. He’s such a gentleman, honestly if it was me I would have kicked me out to the lounge room.

It was hard to believe we were finally here, this little place we had only dreamt of, changed our plans for and squirrelled away an extra amount of money which would make your eyes water to get there!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

Will I break my back(pack) on my next trip?

Have you ever travelled over 36 hours internationally, only to reach your destination and realise you have packed a bag of rubbish (tags and receipts from your pre-vacay purchases), into your suitcase instead of a bag of undergarments? NO? Just me. Weird.

My first solo international trip I had a bag which may as well have been the same size as me. Which was an absolute hoot to drag up and down old European hotels which did NOT have elevators (now is a good time to let you know I was absolutely not prepared for international travel in 2009).

Let me show you the monstrosity I thought was suitable, for those playing at home – a bag this size is never appropriate. Ever. If you notice, there are additional bags because releasing two Aussie girls and a Kiwi girl into America was quite literally, letting loose in a candy store. Yep. Those bags are mostly filled with snacks. #noshame (okay, maybe a little shame).

giant pink bagI’ve tried soft bags, hard bags, bags with internal ribbing, bags with locks, bags without locks, bags wrapped in plastic (thanks to Mum who was not at all okay with me going to Thailand in 2012). I have tried the vacuum packs, the packing cubes and also separating clothes and accessories into their own situation. Guess what? It changed nothing. I am a mess of a person when it comes to contained, constrained and appropriate packing.

Fondly known as a ‘Court-nado’ (thanks Jem), my ability to take a beautiful new space and absolutely cover it in the remnants from my exploded bag within thirty seconds would be (if not hideously annoying), a marketable skill. bag explosionG and I are heading on a different trip this time, we are not guaranteed footpaths or lifts or even paved ground. So it was time to succumb to the backpack. I’ve often put it off because I am not overly sure I have the skills to lug a backpack around let alone pack it correctly. G was pretty excited to get his as it matches his smaller daypack I bought him for his birthday. So I ummed and ahhhed and then in a typical copycat-Wife fashion, bought the exact backpack (but in pink, obviously).

So far it has sat in the cupboard, staring aggressively at me. I think it knows I have no idea how to bond with it. This poor backpack could have been the property of an equipped backpacker and yet it has me. I’m sorry. I am going to try my very best to not ruin you, also I don’t want to ruin my back because then G will have to carry both of our bags and me and I think we all know how that is going to end (G will raid my bag for anything he wants, put it into his bag and leave me and my pink bag on the side of the road somewhere).img_2930So, my question to you all (and please feel free to give me all of the help and all of the advice) is, WHAT EXACTLY DO I NEED WITH MY BACKPACK?

Is there some kind of packing separators? How do you pack it? Are they good or are they bad? Are there any recommended accessories you can recommend? We have 73 days to get this show on the road and I don’t want to appear as obviously out of my depth with a backpack as I probably look now….

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post. I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

 

 

I love you then, I love you still. Always have, always will <3

I was looking through my photos today, as I have been trying to collate my travel photographs into my Instagram page (@novaturient_redhead); and I realised that our honeymoon was ONE YEAR AGO!!!

This time last year we were in Milford Sound, the torrential rain had us locked in our room for three days – which, to be honest – forces you to relax and just enjoy being away on holiday!

We did get out on our last day as the rain turned into a light shower for a couple of ours.

I cannot wait to repeat our last year and every year forward. Bring it on – rain, hail or shine ❤

Pacific Aria – P&O Cruise Ship

There comes a time, after the madness of the silly season is over, when you have been back at work for a few months and…you need a break. That sounds terrible doesn’t it? To get to April and just about be climbing the walls out of desperation for a holiday!

Let me take you back to early 2016. I was approaching 30, we were saving for a Wedding, we KNEW we could not wait until October (our Honeymoon) without at least a little break. So we decided to book a cruise. As it so happened, there was a P&O Cruise which departed Brisbane on my Birthday and went up to Cairns. Needless to say we decided this was a fantastic idea!

We booked an ocean view room, for the price of around $1500 as there was a sale, also when we made the booking, it came with the free Premium Drinks Package (all soft drinks, cocktails, wine, beer, spirits water up to the value of $12); excluding T2 and coffee from the coffee shops.

Our 7 night cruise was called the Barrier Reef Discovery and it was scheduled to travel from Brisbane up to Hamilton Island, Cairns, Willis Island (Drop Anchor) and then back to Brisbane. We were quite excited as we had heard great things about the new Pacific Aria which had been welcomed to the P&O fleet from the Holland America Line and we were on one of the first cruises for it.

IMG_5907About a week before our cruise was set to depart, P&O offered us an upgrade to a balcony room for $99 each. How can you refuse this? It was for my 30th and it was our first time on a cruise and really, what’s an extra $199 when you have a free drinks package anyway?

Boarding was incredibly easy on the first day, we had registered to get onto the ship around lunchtime, so we went and checked out our room, bought our touristy lanyard’s, grabbed our first drink and decided to check out the ship.

We booked to have our first dinner (my Birthday and our anniversary of meeting) at Luke Magnan’s Salt Grill, which is amazing. It is easy to forget you are a on a ship, and it is always really cringe worthy to see some rude person on a boat yelling at a waiter because they don’t think the food is the quality it should be. So let me be the reasonable person to confirm, that, actually – the food is quite given it has been prepared and served on a budget cruise-liner! I recommend the licorice parfait. Yum!

Dragon Lady is pan-Asian cuisine and the restaurant is very pretty, the service lovely and the lighting subtle. What we didn’t realise (on our first cruise), is that you (if you book far enough ahead), do not need to accept a share-table booking. In fact, unless you live for meeting and eating with strangers, awkward conversation or a lack of privacy then I would advise against the share table. Unfortunately, we did accept a share table at Dragon Lady and we were sandwiched in against a wall with an older couple who sat beside us. The conversation was forced, the couple were racist (seriously, not okay!) and the woman was whinging the entire time, saying how she only likes to eat fried eggs. Anyway, that’s not P&O’s fault, we downed a bottle of sake and tried to forget our hideously racist dinner mates.

Angelo’s is an Italian restaurant, it is classy and elegant and has a pretty decent wine list for a boat. The food is yummy and there is a selection of desserts available to you!

Our room was nice and had plenty of space, the public areas are nice, there are no shortage of bars, there is a beautiful view – wherever you go!

There is no shortage of activities – at all. You have trivia, bingo, drinking, game shows, dance shows, karaoke, movies on the top deck, dating games, marriage match, book swaps, cocktail lessons, whiskey tasting, mocktail classes, tours of the ship etc.,

A cruise is what you make it – if you are with good people or are looking to relax then this is for you! If you don’t really like your company and feel a bit caged on a boat for a week then it may NOT be for you.

What have you got to lose?

x