I know many of you have been wondering what on earth has happened to Absolutely Lucy, I've had so many lovely emails and messages from you all, but there's no need to worry - I'm back! I took a little blogging break over the last two weeks because I had so much going on that it just became impossible to write anything down, plus the wifi has been so terrible here that I couldn't rely on it to upload new posts. In a big change from the party girl you all know and love, I'm now a responsible citizen with two jobs - and hopefully a third soon - who is looking for an apartment and getting settled for the next few months of working and saving in my new home of Darwin. After spending 10 days in Cairns celebrating the end of a fantastic East Coast trip - more to come on this soon - we flew to Darwin for the next stage of our trip when I would be settling down to live and save for a while. I actually can't believe how much I was craving routine, normality and a steady life after seven months of travelling but it's been lovely to get settled in a more homely hostel and to make a little family with the people here. We're all looking to stay and save for a few months and are getting settled in, which is lovely after having so many friends who passed through my life so quickly on the East Coast.
As I'm sure many of you know, I was travelling for two months with Mark, after we were reunited following six months apart. I'm not sure how many of you actually know that we broke up when I came travelling, but remain the best of friends, and it was amazing to be reunited and to have two months of travelling, partying and just doing what the hell we want. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and he left to fly to Thailand on Monday where he will spend the next three weeks before heading home to go to university. I always say that the worst part of travelling is saying goodbye, and although me and my best friends always say "it's not goodbye, it's just see you later", it doesn't make it any easier. It's hard enough saying goodbye to the friends you make on the road and have the most intense, crazy fun times with for a few weeks or days before parting ways. Having to say goodbye to someone who has been such a huge part of your life for ten years is the hardest thing in the world, and I've done it twice in the last eight months. Last time we knew it would be just six months until we would see each other again, but now we have to go even longer - perhaps seven or eight months at the very least - perhaps longer. It sucks, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices if you want to really live your dreams.
On a totally separate note, I was pretty excited to finally catch up on my emails and receive one that said Absolutely Lucy has been named one of the UK's top 100 Travel Blogs by DiscountMyFlights.co.uk! Read the full post here. I'm so honoured to be counted as one of the final 100 let alone to be listed first - it was such a boost after my blogging break and has really given me the motivation to get back into it. UK online travel website DiscountMyFlights.co.uk released the Top 100 UK Travel Blogs, a list compiled through crowdsourcing on social media sites. Bloggers were nominated from a variety of different sources including travel forums, bookmarking sites, travel communities. Nominees were then validated by the Travel Tips Editor Anna Murray. The company said: "This is a great accomplishment in a competitive and online sector that appears to be growing substantially." It's always so amazing to be recognised for something that started out as just a hobby and has gradually turned into a passion - especially when your passion fades for a while and needs reinvigorating. I'm really proud that AbsolutelyLucy.com has grown into something so special and so happy I could share it with all the amazing friends I've met travelling, who message me on a regular basis to say how much they love the posts, as well as all the people close to my heart I've left back at home. Thanks to all for being a part of this, and I'll be bringing more posts to you by the end of the week!
I hate goodbyes. I'm writing this just after saying goodbye to two people who have been a huge part of my travels, one in particular has become like a sister to me despite just spending a few weeks together. When travelling, especially solo, you quickly form these intensely close friendships after experiencing so many amazing things together, and before you know it, you've not actually been alone for weeks. So when the time comes to actually part ways, I won't lie, it feels really shit. Like a piece of your heart has gone with them and suddenly you have to get used to being alone on the road again. Now being alone is actually quite rare when you're travelling, it's so easy to meet people that it almost becomes difficult to get five minutes by yourself, and if, like me, you've spent several weeks travelling with groups - it is a bit of a shock to the system to head out on your own again.
Don't get me wrong, travelling solo is still the best way in my mind. I feel you get so much more out of the whole experience by challenging yourself, and it is definitely the best way to meet people because you are forced to if you ever want any kind of human contact! But that doesn't mean it gets any easier when the time comes, and it always does, to say goodbye to the friends you make. I think the hard part is knowing that it will be a long time until you are reunited, if you ever are at all. I've met people from all over the world and unfortunately I just know that for many of us, our paths will never cross again. In some ways that is good, it means we can keep the memory of our perfect meeting pristine in the time and place it happened, rather than trying to reignite the feelings and excitement we felt first time around. Who knows if some of these friendships would survive outside the initial rush of Thailand?For some, it is just the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship, and distance will never stand in the way. I know people who have later gone travelling again and used it as an opportunity to visit their travel friends at their homes across Europe, America, Australia or even Asia. What better excuse to catch up and visit than starting a whole new adventure travelling across the globe? It's quite amazing really, considering how short a time you spend with some people how big an impression they can make upon you - that they can leave such a hole when you part ways. If you're like me, the kind of person who throws themselves into everything with all their heart and soul, then you'll feel it even more when you have to say goodbye. The rule has always been the harder you go, the bigger the comedown afterwards. But if I wasn't the kind of person to throw myself off the highest diving board, I wouldn't make the friends I make and I would have had half the experiences I have had.
So yes the goodbyes are horrible. No they don't get any better. Yes there will be tears at some point. But that's okay, it's okay to feel a bit sad and rubbish sometimes, if you didn't you obviously didn't care that much in the first place. It doesn't mean you are ungrateful for travelling or anything like that, it just means you have a heart and everyone has down days. When you're travelling for as long as I am, it would be ridiculous to feel 100% ecstatic every single day, and no one would believe you anyway. So embrace the sadness for a little while, then get up and get on with it, get yourself out there and meet a whole load of awesome new people and do some awesome new things. They won't ever replace the people who are home, but they can sure as hell give it a good go!
How do you cope with goodbyes? Any top tips for solo travellers who are forced to part ways with new friends?
Of course, I couldn't leave the chilly shores of Ye Olde England without a good old shindig to party with all the people most special to me - and how better to celebrate that by taking them all back to the 90's?! I love a good party and I love when people go all out, dress up and have a fabulous time together - so I insisted on a nineties theme - with plans for decorations and all sorts. It was an amazing night, everyone made such a HUGE effort on the costume front, particularly all the boys who never do dress-up - it really made all the difference and we had some seriously good ideas. Among the costumes we had two Ginger Spice's, one half of Dumb & Dumber, some 90's chavs, a bit of grunge and Clueless, Mrs Doubtfire, Wayne's World, Hunter S Thompson from Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, The Big Lebowski, Ali G, Buzz Lightyear and loads more! Talk about a great mix, and I made sure the house was decorated with posters of music, TV stars and films from the 90's, some great cassette tape bunting I found on eBay. We had a soundtrack of pure 90's music and plenty of 90's sweets like sherbet dips, flying saucers and lollies. But what made it the most special was having so many of my favourite people there - I'm so happy so many could make it and to have spent a night partying with them all. Of course, I too dressed up for the party - finally achieving my wish of becoming Princess Jasmine from Aladdin (one of my favourite Disney movies from the era) - and if you can't be a princess at your own party, when can you? I found this great costume online for less than £20, despite it being exactly the same as a £70 version! If you have a party like this, or any fancy dress theme its always worth shopping around for fancy dress online - when I was at university I was a bit of a pro at this - so many shops stock exactly the same outfits under different names/labels and at very different prices - and there is always one with a sale on! I loved my costume, and added some gold sparkle make-up and a bit of bling and I was ready to go.Of course, there was also a sad side to the party - it was so hard to say goodbye to my closest friends and there were some tears. I was proud I actually managed to hold it together during the party, but was a bit of a mess the next day. It's hard to say goodbye to those closest to you, even when you know you are making the right decision. My mum keeps reminding me that it's a very different world now and when people go travelling, they don't really go away. That there's no waiting for the post to arrive with hopes of a letter saying all is well, now you can Skype, Whatsapp, email, text, write... You can be in contact constantly if you want - it is harder than ever to go off the radar and with social media it is so easy to share every step of your journey. She's right, I know that wherever I am in the world and however long I have been away, that I can instantly get in contact with my family or friends if I need or want to. If something happens and any of us need to talk or just to see each other's faces, it will be possible. Just because you're 2,000 miles away, doesn't mean you have any excuse to be a bad friend.
Have you had a 90's party? Who would you dress up as? What's the hardest goodbye you've had?
As I'm sure you can imagine, last week flew by in a blur of family time, catching up with friends and saying my goodbyes, packing and a constant battle between eating my fill of British food to last me the next year and working it off at the gym to get my body even remotely bikini ready. As you read this, I'll be somewhere in Bangkok - hopefully wandering around a market eating delicious food and taking in the sights. I'll be spending the first couple of days in a hotel, getting my bearings and making a firmer plan for the upcoming weeks and meeting up with friends. I'm sure it will only just be starting to register that this is how my life will be for the next year - no more getting up at the crack of dawn to go to work in cold, raining England - but finally what I have been working for and planning for over 12 months is finally a reality! I can't quite believe it myself. I have to be honest, I've had the worst possible run of news stories since booking my flights - it seems there's pretty much been a murder on a Thai beach, a shark attack in Australia, or a plane going missing every bloody week! Great for reassuring my mother I'm going to survive my trip, and great for reassuring me that I'm going to survive my flight. It's okay though, I've never been much of a worrier so I'm putting all these news stories to the back of my mind and just doing everything I can to avoid being mugged, raped, murdered or involved in some horrible incident. In the meantime though, I have been doing my utmost to make sure I have some very special memories of home, my family and my friends. I'm sure there will come a time when homesickness strikes and I am very glad of them! As you guys will have already read by now - I've got some pretty good ones in the bag after a perfect Christmas with the family, my Mexican-themed New Year's, my Nineties-themed Leaving Party, and a couple of lovely dates with the boyfriend.This post is just a quick one to show you what else I got up to in the week between Christmas and flying out. My week started with a bracing, windy walk on the beach with my parents at Sunny Hunny - we have a beach hut there and it was a chance for me to say goodbye to the hut as I won't be seeing it for over a year. It was a beautiful day, very frosty and the coldest morning yet of 2014, but perfectly fresh at the same time. I love walking at the beach on cold, sunny days - the air is so clean and it really does blow away all the cobwebs. It was great to get some serious fresh air and some colour in my cheeks - plus with that and a few workouts, it was great to get past feeling so stuffed with all the delicious Christmas food. We covered about six miles and it was good to spend some time back by the sea - my inner mermaid was satisfied. As you can see scattered around this post there are a few pics I captured while by the sea - it's such a pretty place. I also had a lovely day at the spa with my mum where we were treated to a lovely facial and full body massage, plus lots of lovely steam rooms, Prosecco and cake. A pretty perfect mummy and daughter day - it was really lovely to have a day just the two of us before I go. This was followed by New Year celebrations, catch-up's with the boyfriend's family and other friends and then my long-awaited Leaving Party! The week finished with a lovely family meal with my parents and grandad - then some sad goodbyes with my best friends and the boyfriend. Then before I knew it, my parents were driving me down to Heathrow and I was on a plane, and whoaa now I'm in Bangkok. Life is pretty crazy sometimes, but crazy good. After a really rubbish start to the year, I couldn't have ended it on a better note.
What have you guys been up to? Are you sad to say goodbye to 2014, or are you already head-first into making 2015 the best yet?