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imageThe last seven days have been a total whirlwind and I can't believe it is only now that I am getting the chance to write this post and share it with you guys. If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram there's a good chance you already know about this but if not - after a long three months in the outback I completed my regional work for my second year Australian visa just an hour before finding out Absolutely Lucy had once again made it into the finals of the travel section of the UK Blog Awards! An amazing day - I was completely elated to find out that I had made the shortlist for the second year in a row. Last year this blog was awarded a highly commended award after just six months of being a travel blog, who knows what this year will bring! This year, Absolutely Lucy was shortlisted out of 2,000 blogs and the awards received  total of 73,352 votes - a HUGE thank you for all the ones that were for me! Whether this year brings success or not, I am already over the moon at the fact that so many of you amazing people took time out of your day to vote for me, that you've been there every step of the way - liking, commenting and sharing my posts. This blog was started as a way of sharing with my friends and family what I had been up to, now that crowd has grown beyond anything I could have expected and it's giving me the opportunity to work with amazing companies and brands, all thanks to your support.

If the last year of travelling, and especially the last three months in the outback, have taught me anything, it's gratitude. I have never been more grateful for my life, for all the opportunities I get, and for the people who surround me. After completing my regional work on Friday, I moved across the country to Melbourne - something I have been looking forward to for months on end - and was finally reunited with some of the best friends I have made since travelling. Yes, that's right, the Dingos are back together and I could not be happier about it. I've spent the last three months missing my Darwin family more than I could ever put into words, we went through so much in such a short space of time and were closer than any group I have met. So to suddenly be parted from them all - the people I spent every second of every day with - and be completely on my own was pretty hard. What got me through were great friends in Charleville and the thought that soon I would be reunited with my gang - arriving in Melbourne and seeing my family again was the most amazing feeling. It's made arriving in Melbourne feel just like coming home.imageSpending three months in a place where there were no shops, no distractions, and the nearest McDonald's was three hours away has really made me appreciate all that I now have on my doorstep. I had forgotten how much fun it is to explore a city even if you're completely alone - I always remember the Sex and the City episode where Carrie talks about New York as her date. Now that's exactly how I feel, I have a whole city to explore whether I'm walking graffitied alleyways, checking out the sights, museums or cinemas. Some of my friends here are already working so I had a perfect opportunity to spend a day with myself - I went shopping, had my hair done, ate out and even went to the cinema. So many people hate doing these things alone but I can never understand why - it was a fantastic day and I always think if you can't stand to spend time with yourself then why should anyone else want to? Before coming travelling alone I had never really had to do anything by myself - there was always a friend, boyfriend or family member to keep me company - but ever since, I've really started to value the time I spend alone just as much as the time I spend with the ones I love. You should try it. Set yourself the challenge of doing something every day for a week completely alone - go eat out by yourself, grab a coffee, go to the cinema, go for a walk. Don't be self-conscious or care what others think - just do it and embrace the solitude. It feels strange at first but soon you start to crave those moments and really enjoy them. It gives you the confidence to put yourself out there and be proud of what you have to offer, it gave me the courage to enter the UK Blog Awards and to end up a finalist!

Have you tried going it solo lately? What are you too scared to do by yourself? What's the greatest thing you have achieved by yourself?

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imageI've had so many lovely messages over the last few days celebrating my decision to stay in Australia instead of returning home on my pre-booked flights and cheering at my just having four weeks left in the outback before rejoining my friends. I've had several messages from friends asking for advice on blogging and how to get started, and I've lost track of the amount of people who have contacted me to ask for advice on travelling, going it solo and help with planning itineraries. It's amazing to think I started this blog just over two years ago and at the time barely anyone read what I was writing, much less wanted to know what I had to say on any of this. I feel so proud at how Absolutely Lucy has grown in that time and am still completely overwhelmed by the support of all my readers every single day. It's been pretty spectacular to experience this year's travelling independently but what has made it all the more special was sharing every step of the journey with you guys. Being able to immortalise all of my memories on these webpages and to share my highs and lows with every single one of you. You may not realise it but every single like, share, view and comment has meant the world to me over these last 12 months, it was the encouragement I needed to keep writing, to keep on travelling even when times were tough and I felt homesick.

Now some of you may remember around a year ago I couldn't stop talking about something called the UK Blog Awards - it's a great awards ceremony that is organised annually to celebrate the blogging community. Covering every genre of blogs, there is a chance for writers with followings of all sizes to be recognised for their hard work and dedication over the year by a group of industry professionals. It's an honour to be a part of something that is still so new and yet is making huge waves in the industry. Last year I entered for the first time and saw huge success as I was shortlisted and awarded a Highly Commended for the Travel section - just six months after transforming Absolutely Lucy into a travel blog. In true backpacker style, I was actually travelling Asia when the winners were announced and never had the opportunity to collect my award which is still in London at a friend's waiting to be collected! But I was overwhelmed with the fact that I had been chosen, it felt amazing and actually came at a time when I was losing my enthusiasm for blogging, to say it reinvigorated me was an understatement.

Now it is that time again, I've entered the Travel section once again and I'm asking each and every one of you guys to vote for me (it only takes two seconds!) so that I can stand a chance against the incredible bloggers also listed. There's some serious talent and some bloggers I really admire listed alongside me and although yes, I would obviously love to win, it's amazing to even be considered amongst these other bloggers. Last year there were around 5,000 entries and I made the shortlist - how on earth that happened I will never know, but I'm hoping some of that luck and some of those amazing votes will happen again this year and will start my year off amazingly! If you have spent the last year enjoying, reading and sharing my posts, if you've been wanderlustin' over my travel pics and if you've been inspired to travel the world yourself - it would mean the world if you would take two seconds to cast a quick vote for me. Click the link below to head to the webpage and cast your vote - make sure you select the TRAVEL section - and thanks so much for your support!

 

VOTE FOR ME

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imageAn extra post for you guys today because we're celebrating! Huge news for those who haven't seen on Facebook, Twitter or heard me shouting with excitement from the rooftops in Vietnam. On Friday night, AbsolutelyLucy.com won the highly commended award in the travel blogging section. My blog was shortlisted among ten or so, chosen out of around 30,000 thanks to your votes and support, and now has been named one of the best out of this incredible collection of  writers. To say I'm bowled over is an understatement. I'm completely overwhelmed by it because it had never actually entered my head for a second that I stood a chance against these other amazing blogs. I love my blog, you guys love it, but I didn't realise that was enough to make these highly experienced judges feel the same way. It has been such a boost to know that you guys are enjoying my posts and pictures, that you love reading about my experiences as much as I love writing about them, so to know that industry professionals have enjoyed them also is amazing. I'm so proud to say that less than six months after I started travel blogging my blog is considered a success and worthy of note.

It is only a year and a half since I started out on this little venture,  as a lifestyle blogger, which at the time was more of a hobby than anything else. Now it has become a huge part of my life and I love it, every second of it. From capturing every moment - the food I eat, the things I see and do, the people I meet - I love thinking about how you will experience the world through my senses. To writing, expressing how I felt about a place and what I loved and my new passions that have formed along the way. And more than any of it, I love the interaction, when you guys say a post has touched you or meant something to you, when others say they are living vicariously through me and when I then inspire others to travel solo or to explore the places I have been. It is amazing, all of it, and I'm so grateful to those who inspired me to start blogging and to those who have encouraged me along the way. I've come a long way since I was Friday's Girl, writing a weekly column in the local newspaper about my time at university - drunken nights out and all - but I hope you are enjoying my work more than ever before!

Sadly I didn't get to celebrate last night as I spent 17 hours on a sleeper bus eating mountains of fruit with my friend Paul, but I'm sure we'll make up for it with a few beers at our next destination! If you're cracking open a bottle of wine tonight, have a glass for me!

As usual, if there is ever anything you would like me to write about, any requests, anything you would like my opinion on, or you would like advice on travelling Asia or travelling solo - I'm always at the end of an email. You can contact me through the contact panel to the right of this post or through my Facebook and Twitter pages.

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