When you're travelling, something you realise very quickly is what is important to take away from every stage of your journey. When all you're carrying around with you is a 65litre backpack with your whole life compressed into it, that doesn't leave much space to pick up things along the way. It becomes so much more important to store away all the precious memories from all the places you visit and the things that you see. For me, it's always been more important to capture the emotions, the colours, smells and tastes of each moment rather than actually having some cheesy souvenir from a market stall. The only real souvenirs I have now are clothes and jewellery I bought along the way, and a dinky little carved elephant from the sanctuary where I volunteered. It seems a poor representation of the incredible 18 months I've spent exploring extraordinary countries and the amazing sights I've seen. I have nothing physical to link me to the beautiful souls I met along the way, and yet I still feel so inextricably linked to them no matter what the distance, all because of the memories in this little diary.
As I said my goodbyes to friends and family before I left to go travelling, there were gifts and cards wishing me well on my journey, but none meant as much as the one from my workmates. They had clubbed together to buy me a few little goodies, including a beautiful little travel journal to take with me and write all my memories as I traveled around the world solo. The red patterned leather book was the perfect place to store every thought, feeling and experience as I set out on my adventure. It was such a thoughtful gift, and one I treasured as I traveled across Asia and Australia, writing in it became a nightly treat as I reminisced over the day's events. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to the delights of reading actual books instead of screens and hand writing notes, there's something so beautiful about actually holding something in your hand rather than sending an email or downloading an e-book. I love blogging, it has been a huge part of my travelling experience and I would heartily recommend any traveler keep a blog so they have an easily accessible journal to store their memories and photographs that they can share with the world. Doing so has meant sharing every beautiful experience with friends, family and countless strangers through the internet, it's been amazing to know I could help other travelers by advising them on locations I had already visited.But, as amazing as blogging is, there is still a lot of my world and my heart that I don't share on www.absolutelylucy.com. For my own sanity and privacy, it is important to me to have a part of my life that is separate, and that part is even more special to me. That's the part that is hidden in the pages of my travel journal, of the book that is just for me, filled with tales of love, hopes and dreams, of the experiences that are etched on my soul and the stories I simply cannot repeat. Whether you're a writer, an artist or a musician, creative souls have a need to express their big ideas and as a traveler, the exposure to so many amazing places and people is the perfect driving force for putting pen to paper. For me, writing was addictive when I was away, I just couldn't write fast enough to get all my thoughts out. Some people struggle to spend time alone, but I can't help wondering if that is actually because they don't have a satisfying way of expressing themselves when they do. I craved time alone to write both in my travel journal, and on here, it was therapeutic and even writing the tiniest details would often work as a catalyst for creating the posts that you ended up reading. It was amazing how much one would influence the other, often I would start writing in my journal, then halfway through I would have to grab my laptop and start typing a new blog post to share with you guys. Travel is inspiration in its purest form.After working as a journalist, it was so freeing to be able to spend my days and nights writing purely for myself, the more I wrote, the more the words flowed on to the pages. It's addictive. Even as the moments were happening, I was experiencing them as I would write them on the page, always thinking of how I would immortalise every person I met as though they were a character in a story I was writing. I loved that feeling, and I feel lucky to have experienced a world that excited me enough to write like this. But whether you write for a living or you just want to keep a momento of your travels, keeping a travel diary is such beautiful way of storing your memories and keeping them close to your heart when you move on. You just don't get the same experience when you clutch your laptop close to you as you remember those you left behind, but there's something comforting about having a little book that is just for you. It doesn't have to be words, I knew so many travelers who incorporated music, art and poetry into their own books, each inspired in different ways to create something, a memory of each stage of their journey.I'll always remember a friend, Phoebe, who I met in Pai, Thailand, who had started holding "art club" with new friends as she traveled around. She was a beautiful soul who traveled with a tiny collection of paints, pens and gathered a group around to create something amazing together in the pages of her little journal. This way everyone had to contribute something and years later she would look at it and remember every single person who was there. When I was on the slow boat between Thailand and Laos, there was a woman who used her artistic skills to capture each moment - she actually started to sketch and paint the scene in front of her as a group of us played games and chatted. Her work was beautiful and it was incredible to see the finished piece against the live scene, our trip is now captured forever and it's all thanks to her amazing talents. Another friend of mine wrote a mixture of poems and prose inspired by the place he was in, he loved to read aloud to us in the evenings and share the words he felt compelled to write. And I'll never forget the guy I met who said art and words were not his forte but said each place had a song, a sound that was distinctive, he spent his time trying to capture the essence of each location in music, in lyrics he created. The results were beautiful.I still have my travel journal from my first 18 months of travelling, it sits proudly on my shelf which I'm surprised doesn't bow under the weight of all those memories. With just a few months at home and a few trips around Europe planned, my thoughts are already on preparing for my return to Australia as I sort out visas, tax returns and insurance. But something that had slipped my mind until the team at Pen Heaven sent me a beautiful hand made leather travel journal by Laurige to be my "trusty companion to help with all my creative thoughts, memos and notes." Made by French artisans, my journal arrived in a stunning deep red, with Absolutely Lucy embossed in gold lettering on the bottom right corner. It was the ultimate in luxury for a writer, and gives me the perfect place to keep track of every precious travelling moment. The journal makes the perfect gift for a traveler, because no traveler wants something they cannot take with them - what's the point in leaving things locked up in storage? This is something personal that they will treasure forever, even more so because the leather case is refillable - you can replace the writing paper within as it runs out and start afresh for each voyage. At £47 it is a little pricey for a journal, but as a gift that will never grow old, it is perfect for any adventurers in your life, a timeless keepsake they will treasure forever, and a perfect place to store their big ideas. It's available in a range of gorgeous colours and you can choose whether you prefer lined paper for writing, or fancy getting creative with plain paper. I'll be using mine to write all those beautiful memories, and to make big plans for the future.
Have you kept a travel journal - what does yours mean to you? How do you keep track of your memories? Do you regret not keeping a journal?
It's finally starting to sink in. As you're reading this I have just 10 days left at work... and that includes today! I can't believe how fast the time has gone since I handed in my notice, but it really has flashed by. It's certainly been helped along by me still having holiday left over, so even though I have just 10 days left, they are to be scattered over the next two-three weeks. Everyone in the office has been firmly on countdown for me over the last month, they almost seem more excited about it than I do... not sure if I should take offence at that! But it was going to a launch event at the local college on Monday that really made me realise this is actually happening. As I arrived, loads of people came over to wish me well and say good luck on my travels - it seemed so odd to me, because for the longest time this has just been something in my head. Just a passing daydream of something new and exciting, but now it is really becoming a reality.
So with 10 days left at work - what am I doing and what do I have left to do?
1. My countdown starts with those frantic emails out to every contact I have ever had, made, met or spoken to in my time here. I've been trying my best to make sure everyone is aware I am leaving and where they can send emails in the future.
2. Trying to find a replacement for me, and trying to find out what will happen to my entertainment section when I leave.
3. Making sure I get the opportunity to write any stories I have had lurking in the back of my notebook, and to plan in time to write any others I've had in the pipeline.
4. Interviews - I love meeting people and talking to them face-to-face, so I'm trying to make sure I get the chance to do as much of that as possible before I leave.
5. Training others in the office up on the technical side of our system and making sure they all know how to work the website when I leave, as up to this point I have been mainly in control of it.
I won't lie, it's pretty chaotic and I'm starting to worry I won't get time to do everything I want to do before I leave. But then I remind myself it doesn't actually matter if I don't - much as I would love to leave the team with the next four What's On sections ready and waiting:
That is not my responsibility and I can only do my best.
I've also been reminiscing about my most memorable moments at the newspaper - trust me, there's been quite a few! After three years of working here, and loving it, I'll be taking some very fond memories away with me.
I wanted to share some of them with you:
1. My week of work experience - realising I wanted to be a journalist and getting the front page after just five days at the paper.
2. Being asked to take on writing a weekly column for the paper and causing a bit of a stir - I loved the complimentary letters, but the complaints sure gave me a laugh!
3. Being challenged to write about all sorts of topics - from fuel prices to train services, from bomb scares to charity efforts. Plus all the random stories like the cow that escaped from a field, went on a rampage and ended up tearing through someone's living room.
4. Being trusted by all those families to write tributes to their loved ones, particularly those I already had a personal connection with.
5. Taking on control of the entertainment section of the paper and completely turning it around - even doubling it in size after showing how good it could be.
6. Taking on responsibility of managing the website and social media output for the newspaper - a huge role in a company that is all about "digital first" and one I performed very well.
7. Getting to interview the likes of Adam Ant, UB40, Deaf Havana, national production company founders, West End stars, soap stars and many more - for a town in Norfolk, I've done pretty well.
8. Reviewing huge events, festivals, gigs, theatre productions and much more - I have loved every event and will really miss getting to see this cultural side of the town.
9. Working with some amazing PR/Marketing whizzes who have become great friends as well - you guys have made my life a hell of a lot easier and I really enjoyed working with you.
10. Working with all my amazing friends in the office - we've been under a hell of a lot of pressure particularly during the last year, and time and time again we've pulled together and managed to get the paper out. Those outside the office have no idea what work goes on behind the scenes, and we would never have made it through without sticking together. That includes our "rivals" who quite frankly are under just as much pressure as we are.
I can't imagine what my last day will be like in the office. I imagine it will be pretty strange, as I have never actually left a job that I cared about before now. But I don't regret my decision for a second, and I know the whole office are really excited for me to start a new adventure. A huge thanks to the team for everything they've taught me over the years. I will be firmly making the most of these last 10 days in the office.
Have you left a great job behind to move on to other things? How were your final days of work - did you feel happy or sad to be leaving friends and that part of your career behind?
I like to live my life with no regrets, and I'm happy to say that up to this point in my life, I genuinely don't regret a single thing. Everything that has happened up to now had led me to this point, and I'm pretty happy with my lot in life. I've got a great job, amazing friends and family, a pretty special boyfriend and big plans for the future. I may have struggled along the way to getting to this point, and I may have had some tough times - but that makes me value what I have more than ever and I can't help but be grateful for that. Throughout my life I have always strived to be the best version of myself as much as possible, whether that means going out of my way to help people or working hard for my degree or job. I have to admit, putting my all into everything does mean I've turned into a bit of a perfectionist and my high standards have meant that I've been left disappointed by others over the years. But I've learnt to accept that I have no control over the actions of others, that I can only focus on my own actions because they are the only thing that is within my control. Trust me, that's not an easy thing for any perfectionist to deal with - I'm sure there are those who know and are nodding at the screen right now.
Regret is a funny word. It can be meaningless to a person, or it can be everything. With phrases like "carpe diem" and "live for the moment" tattooed on peoples' extremities, plastered across inspirational images posted on Instagram and engrained on our brains - it's no surprise that everyone says they live a life of no regrets. A conversation with a friend really got me thinking about this, whether I would do anything differently or whether I am actually really happy with the way things have turned out. I've always been very much of the viewpoint that things, to a extent, happen for a reason. I think if we don't feel a certain drive to act in a certain way, we can't really regret it, we can only learn from it. We can always wonder if things would have turned out differently, even though we know we can't change things. I guess my regrets come more in the form of things I would love to tell my younger self, glimpses into the future I would have liked to have shared and to have known at the time. You've got to admit if you could go back in time and warn about a nasty boyfriend or a bad haircut, you would definitely do it...
So what would I say to my younger self?
Advice to Lucy, age 5-10
Advice to Lucy, age 10-16
Advice to Lucy, age 16 to 18
Advice to Lucy, aged 18-21
Advice to Lucy, aged 22-present
After a request from a fellow blogger, I'm turning this post into a blogging tag! My first one, and I'm hoping you'll all enjoy writing this post as much as I have. I want to all to share the advice and things you would say to your former self - then nominate five bloggers to do the same. My nominations are:
Charlie Holly Jasmine Aftab Antoinette
What advice would you give to your younger self?
PS. Don't forget to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards travel and lifestyle categories!! Click here and here to cast your votes xx
This is a subject that comes up time and time again, and after receiving an email from friend a few weeks ago asking for some advice on how to get into journalism - I thought it might be about time I tackled this subject in a post. Everyone has a different opinion on whether qualifications or experience have the greater input into where you end up in life, and I know there are great examples for both sides - but I know so many students are left confused by which one they should be focusing on. When you're at university, you're constantly told you need to gain more experience but when you try to get some you are told you're not qualified for the role. It's an eternal battle and a vicious cycle - one that many students struggle to break. So which one should you be concentrating on?
I will always be a champion for the experience route, I may be an English Language and Communication and English Literature graduate, but I'll be honest when I say that my degree has not really had much influence over where I have ended up. I loved studying for my degree because I was passionate about both subjects, and I would always argue that if you are passionate about something it is worth studying. But it is easy to think a degree will get you where you want to be when in actual fact they really won't in many cases. While studying at university, I applied for work experience at national publication, More Magazine, where I spent two weeks working on the fashion desk, helping on photoshoots and so on... It wasn't for me, but it gave me my first piece of worthwhile experience to add to my CV. Work experience at my local newspaper turned out to be the most valuable - after five days I had the front page and had been asked to write a weekly column. I also worked full time for a month with them (paid) before returning to university and was given a job upon graduating. Since graduating, I have also started writing for a festival news and reviews site, of which I was made the editor. It has not only given me great experience, but it looks fantastic on my CV and will help me in the future. Despite not being a fully-qualified journalist, I have worked in two journalistic roles since graduating three-four years ago all because of the experience I have gained. I know other fully qualified journalists who have put a lot of time into becoming qualified, but have been stuck with unpaid writing work or copy writing roles instead of journalism.
Of course, not everyone is trying to be a journalist. But this is something that will work in most professions - I have friends who work in retail, in marketing and advertising, in engineering and several who have become teachers. All of them have had to gain experience in their chosen fields before they were able to progress in their careers - it has just come in different forms. For one engineer, he was given experience and training as part of the course to become qualified for his role. For the retail worker, she started as a shop assistant and gained experience while working on the job, which allowed her to work her way up and become qualified as an office manager. All of the teachers had to gain experience of working in schools, mostly unpaid, alongside their PGSE studies so that they could finish their qualification. And those in marketing and advertising found their experience vital to gaining employment in bigger and better companies upon graduating - completing a placement year or few months while studying was a necessity. Of course, all of them also needed qualifications in one form or another, but their experience played a much larger part in their overall career path.
In many fields, experience can be impossible to gain without having some kind of qualification beforehand. Journalism can be a tricky one, particularly if you are applying for work experience before studying for an NCTJ, because there is so much competition. I was lucky that I was given the opportunity to do work experience at the newspaper because I was the first in over five years to do so, and I wasn't even studying journalism! But I know of many student journalists who have struggled to get experience without already being enrolled on a journalism course. If you know that you want to study journalism, it is a good idea to just go for it and study for your NCTJ because some papers are unwilling to take on work experience students when they do not have skills like shorthand, or a knowledge of media law. Don't do a journalism degree! I can't stress this enough - I know so many journalists who have done a degree and then have had to pay to study for a NCTJ afterwards because they haven't fulfilled all of the criteria. If you want to study a degree as well, why not do like I did and study English or another humanities subject you have an interest in? Just bear in mind it is important, particularly if you want to work for a newspaper or news site, to be qualified. But also bear in mind, that there are lost of people out there who are working as journalists and freelance writers who are unqualified. It is not necessary to have a NCTJ, but it is a helpful addition to your CV and skills.
Don't feel like I am down on qualifications and how useful or important they are. I have always taken them very seriously, whether they were GCSE's or final exams at university, and I always think it is worth working towards having an official document saying you can do something - even if you have known you can do it for ages before. It is an achievement for yourself, and it also proves to the world that you can do something. Being officially qualified puts you ahead of the pack, if two people go for an office manager job and one has completed a managing course and the other hasn't - the employer will probably favour the one who has. When a potential employer is just looking at your CV, having an extra qualification on there can mean the difference between a new job and the dole. It can also mean a huge difference between the rate of pay - having an extra qualification can mean you are entitled to thousands more a year overall. It can also mean being paid significantly less than someone who is doing exactly the same job as you - soul destroying. I would always recommend trying to get a well-rounded CV packed with experience and qualifications - both will play a part in getting you where you want to be.
But which one is more important to you? For me it has to be experience - as much as I love and am proud of my degree, I have found my working experiences invaluable. My time spent working at the newspaper and the festivals site has changed what I want to do with my life and has given me the confidence, knowledge and skills to achieve that with or without the qualifications. I see them as an added bonus to my life, but not something that will hold me back or prevent me from achieving my career dreams. I know that it will be different for those working in different fields - but I would love to know about your experiences of different industries.
Do qualifications or experience mean more to you? Which has played a larger part in bringing you closer to your dream?
Being a journalist hasn't given some people the best reputation in the last couple of years, but that doesn't mean that journalism is a bad career choice. If anything, I say that journalism has opened countless doors for me and has given me some awesome opportunities over the last few years. There are lots of amazing things about the job - you get to work with people which is perfect for social butterflies like myself, you get the chance to hear amazing stories first-hand and have the privilege of sharing them with the world, the trust that your readers and those sharing their stories place in you. There are a lot of tougher sides of the job as well, like having to write a tribute to one of your former best friends after a horrible accident, but that is why I think it is important to enjoy the good parts.I know some don't agree with getting freebies through journalism, but this is one of my favourite parts of the job - the privilege and extras that come with it. Journalism opens you up to a world of opportunities that you would never have had otherwise, and that is something I love about it.I know a fair few journalists who never really take advantage of the extras in the job, which personally I think is a shame considering how low paid so many journalists are. I know some won't agree, but I tend to look at it as the tips a waitress would get. This is just a bonus to the job and, as a bit of a blagger, I don't mind asking - I always figure if you don't ask you don't get. Which is clear from how many amazing things I have been lucky enough to gain - I always ask the question. So what have been my best blags and the top experiences my job has given me?
Of course, we're not all in it for the freebies, we do it for the love of the job and a passion for reporting news. But, being a journalist is a stressful job with constant deadlines, you work hard and if opportunities come up I don't think we should be afraid to snap them up. Much like bloggers accepting gifts of review products. There's plenty more I haven't listed - so budding journalists, if anyone tells you that you are making a mistake with your career - why not ask them if their job gives them the chance to do all of these amazing things?
What's the best freebie you've ever had through work? Are you thinking about going into journalism?