Friday, 30 June 2017

JUNE GRATITUDE DIARY!


I'm not going to lie - this month has been hard. I miss my Dad, I haven't been feeling my normal self and I don't feel excited for anything because I have a dull feeling in my belly in the knowing nothing is ever going to be the same. I feel like my Dad has been gone for so long already and the reality has been setting in more and more with each day. I felt as though I was still close to him before, but now I just feel like he's fully gone. Austria was helpful because I met a little soul friend who had just lost someone truly special, and we lived, worked and spent lots of our free time together so it has been hard to readjust to a life without her in it.

Anyway, enough of the moaning and groaning, I am writing this gratitude diary to pick myself up and realign my thought path into a more positive one.

Firstly, I am really grateful for that friend I just mentioned above. I am glad she is now in my life. We did a lot of healing together, we laughed, we cried, we explored, we spoke and we understood one another and that has been a huge part of both of our healing journeys. I am grateful I found someone to do that with and I am grateful it was someone so kind, thoughtful and intelligent. I can tell we are going to be life-long friends and that's exciting - so there is a third thing to feel grateful for.

I am grateful for my time in Austria, I saw a lot, I learned a lot and I gained a lot. Without the experience I gained there, I wouldn't have landed myself the teaching job I have now here in London. It helped me learn a lot about myself as a teacher and helped me to develop on the things I wanted to develop on. It also gave me a lot of time to think about what I want personally and has enabled me to get my goals straight in my mind.

I am so grateful for Riley as per usual. He is so blooming lovely and gorgeous. The little dude comes everywhere with me, we go out to cafes together, go on nice long walks and he's been on a few day trips with me too. In the evenings we play ball together and he always makes me chuckle with his funny little ways and the extreme lengths he will go to for a tennis ball. When I take him out and see him happily bouncing around in the fields, it honestly fills my heart with such joy. I love waking up to cuddles with him and although slightly annoying, I love how protective he is of me because it shows a bit of fire in the belly, and I've no respect for a lack of that in anyone! 

My Dad's friends are amazing. They've all been very supportive since he passed and I love being around them. I love being able to ask about stories about my Dad and things they have done together. My Dad's best friend from the gym and I go on walks with Riley and talk about all the evenings out they had and how my Dad was in a group. My Dad's best friend and neighbour tells me what my Dad would have said and his wife is always there to give me a supportive cuddle and some loving words. He also has another friend who invited me to stay with her in Portsmouth and Spain. When I go and stay with her she is always so welcoming and loving and I really appreciate what she does for me.

I am grateful for my new work team - they're lovely and interesting and I feel I've finally found myself in an industry that suits me. We are all free to come and go as we please (as we should be), and we all share a similar thirst for life. A thirst in which we hydrate ourselves with. We are all travel lovers, theatre goers, language pheens, and people lovers. We're always doing new things and there are always interesting stories to be told.

At the moment, I am back into my fashion. I love clothes and fashion. I love developing my own personal style and I am building it up again at the moment which is cool! I love finding little bits and bobs and putting them together with old pieces. I read in a book that you must remember what you loved to do as a child and transfer some of that into adulthood. I personally loved Barbie and making her look good, so now I just pretend I am my own Barbie and dress myself in all the things I love.

Reading: this is always in my gratitude diary I think... I have had a bit more time recently to read so I've completed a few books. It's been fabulous. There is something about reading a good book that just makes me feel so alive and fulfilled. I just finished reading 'Many lives, Many Masters' by Dr Brian L. Weiss (highly recommend!) and I am about to begin 'The alchemist' in Spanish by Paolo Coelho, a fellow blogger friend recommended it to me (- Oh hay Liuba!). I'm super excited to read his book in Spanish too because it is in his native language which means it will be in his authentic words!

I am super, duper, 100% grateful for my beautiful phone. My goodness, how on earth did people get themselves about before we had mobiles? My mobile is the key to successfully navigating myself around London at the moment, and I could not be without that little brick of radiation. It's also my camera, my notebook, and my music supply. Big love for my phone right now!

New stationary has been making me very happy this month. I have a new diary, lots of new pastel coloured highlighters, new notebooks, new cases and so on. I am super nerdy but I am super excited to get my study on with these bad boys. I remember I was always the same in school, and it kept me so motivated at the beginning of term too. It's a shame it wore off, but hey. Good job I am now old enough to buy my own stationary on the regular if need be! ha!

I am grateful that I kept a memory box. The other day I went through my memory box and it reminded me of so many things I had forgotten. I originally went hunting for a Christmas card my Dad handmade me years ago, but I found so much more. Firstly, and most preciously - I found a card my Dad had made, he had drawn me on the front and written 'LISA, I LOVE YOU' in huge writing, inside wrote 'LOVE DAD XXX'. I'm not going to lie, I had a moment, I sat and cried for a good three minutes straight. Then I let it fill me with complete love. I actually had someone who loved me more than anything and that is the luckiest, most profound gift we could receive in our lifetimes so I am grateful. Along with this beautiful item I found lots of old letters from pen pals. I forgot how many pen pals I actually had. I had pen pals from Japan, South Africa, France, England, Iceland, Spain, and Ireland. How amazing is that! My Dad would have set those up, he was the king of ensuring I always had friends when we went away. It's no wonder I have such a great love for travel and other cultures either given that I'd had all of these doses of different realities. Also in my memory box I found old Photos of all of my friends. My friend Katrina and I have been best friends since the first day of primary school, and there were lots of childhood photos of us. There were also photos of me and my friends from school from over ten years ago which was cool! What a lovely, lovely thing to had looked through. YAY for memory boxes!

I am grateful for my guy friends and boy cousins. So, for the past few months I have been on a man ban. I'm a firm believer in energies and needing a balance of masculine and feminine ones, so that's where these guys come in. My friends from Austria, my friend Ricky-roo, my friend at work, my cousins friends, and my cousins Max and Jazz make my life complete at the moment. They supply me with the male company I enjoy with lots of laughter and fun but without any expectations. They are also helping me to rebuild my trust in men; they're helping me to learn that men can be honest and kind.

Random things I have been loving: channel 4's first dates, the sound of birds singing, the parsley and garlic combo, learning more about Grammar, fake tan (organic), my skincare regime, palazzo pants, dungarees, flower hair accessories, tea, banana nakd bars, hobknobs, free-from frozen lollies, morning snuggles, snazzy sunglasses, mint flavoured floes, photos of my Dad, writing lists, dry shampoo, lamps for ambiance, salt crystals, new trainers, 13 reasons why, ginger, cinnamonnights infresh bed sheets, and appreciating home

Peace out Potatoes xo





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Thursday, 29 June 2017

MAYFIELD LAVENDER FIELDS | ENGLAND

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

My Big London Bucket List

1. Take a Photography course
2. Explore the Warner Bro's Harry Potter Studios
3. Feast in the temple of seiten, Hackney ✔ 
4. Indulge in vegan afternoon tea - I would like to go here ✔ 
5. Attend a cookery class (this vegan dessert one here looks good)
6. Cosy up and watch a film on a rooftop cinema
7. Dance the night away in a Salsa class (or two) 
8. Check out an early morning 'green', sober rave
9. Go on a day trip to Stonehenge and bath from London
10. Walk a Jack the Ripper tour
11. Go on a bus tour of London (preferably the Christmas lights tour, the haunted tour or the afternoon tea tour) 
12. See London by helicopter
13. Play bubble (zorb) football
14. Relax and enjoy the view on a sunset cruise along the Thames 
15. Bring Riley for a meal in Mildred's restaurant, Camden 
16. Try flyboarding (they do this in docklands)
17. Mingle at a vegan meet-up in the city 
18. Try water rafting in Lee Valley
19. Climb the o2 
20. Canoe or Kayak down the River Thames

Peace Out Potatoes xo
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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

5 THINGS I LOVED ABOUT TEACHING IN AUSTRIA


How the kids were
The students in Austria were so much fun to be around. They were super polite and I always felt so comfortable walking into a class. There were one or two rude students of course, but as a whole the student's were kind, courteous and very well mannered. They would always insist on cleaning the board for me, which was extremely cute! They would always get me a chair and used their pleases and thank yous often. They were full of character too, which made teaching them more pleasurable. I also loved the love the children had for nature; when I asked them what they liked, they always responded with something like skiing, hiking or bike riding, they were all such outdoors-y kids and I miss that for England's current and future generations.

The magnificent views en route to the schools and outside the windows
More or less every day I had to stand in awe for a few minutes thinking 'WOW!' just 'WOW'. Austrian is 100% the most beautiful country I have visited yet, and I have visited a few. The mountains and lakes are spectacular. I loved seeing fields upon fields everywhere we went and they seem to have a real respect and love for nature there, which really shines through. Lot's of the schools had huge panel windows so you could see these views for miles and miles and I honestly think it was to inspire students.


The kids wearing their little slippers and crocs
Anyone that knows me, would know that I am a sucker for comfort; If I could - I would wear pyjamas everywhere, in fact, sometimes I more or less do. I love that they wear their crocs and slippers in school, it makes them feel more at home and also ensures the school stays clean, which in turn teaches them to have respect for property, which is great. It also takes away any competition about trainers and who has the best, most expensive pair, which is something I remember happening in my high school.

The timings and break system in Austrian schools
The Austrian schooling system is on to a complete winner with their timetables. The students start earlier so between 7:00 and 8:00 am and finish at around 13:25 pm. It's great because it means they get to go home and actually spend time with their parents, it means they get more sunshine and thus more vitamin D and it means they do not waste their whole day being institutionalised. They have a five or ten minute break between every lesson and one twenty minute break at around 9:30 to have something to eat or drink. It's wonderful because the kids get constant breathers, and so do the teachers! Lots of the schools had ping-pong tables and table football so the students could play in their break times too, which I thought was a really great, positive touch.

 That one naughty kid in every class (usually called Elias)
In every class I taught in Austria there was always a little naughty one called Elias. They always seemed to be cheeky and mischievous with cute little faces which made disciplining them even harder. I don't know what it was about little Elias's but they were always the loudest, naughtiest, yet most entertaining characters in each class. I am genuinely considering calling my son Elias If I have one now because of this too. In the words of Marylyn 'It is far better to be absolutely ridiculous then it is to be absolutely boring' and I whole-heartedly agree!

Peace out Potatoes! xo


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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A FATHER'S PASSING: FIVE MONTHS LATER


Five months ago, my beautiful, amazing father passed over to the other side and left this planet. I have learned a lot since then and I have lived a lot too. The funny thing about death is; it makes you live. It makes you live your life because it highlights how temporary it actually is. My dad is constantly in my thoughts, I'm always talking about him and my heart will miss him forever, but five months later, I thought I would write how I am feeling because, writing is therapeutic and if it's out there, then it may help someone else...

I have learned that grief is not what you expect it to be, well it is not what I expected it to be anyway. It isn't a constant deep dark hole like I imagined, it isn't a process and it doesn't go in a line. Grief comes in waves - some knock you for six and others just mildly cause you some discomfort. I have had my ups and my downs with grief so far - I have been so low that I just want to die and join my Dad wherever he has gone and so high that I have done a lot of living for the both of us and just known I was on the right path. I try to focus on the highs; him living through me, and me living in his honour. 

There are so many things I wish I could tell him. Like the fact I got a new job as an interpreter and then as an English teacher, the fact that I came abroad to teach and become an ESOL teacher like he had always wanted, the fact I now tutor his friend's grandchildren, the fact that I was accepted onto a S&L course at a prestigious university, the fact I have been on lots more travels, that I am okay on my own and that I am living a life he would have been proud of.

I would love for him to know that Riley and I have been to lots of new and fun places. I would love for him to know that my sister Laura and I are closer than ever. I would mostly just love to tell him that I love him just as much now as I always have and that I miss him more than I even thought possible.

I gave him a book full of thank yous' before he passed away, with all of our memories and the things I felt grateful we had shared. I want to add to that book every day and I'd love to tell him thank you for picking me up from school every single day when I was younger, I would tell him thank you for all the thoughtful gifts he bought me like my personalised Christmas story books and my beanie babies, I'd say thank you for all the things you made me, I would say thank you for all the beautiful qualities he instilled in me just by being himself...  

The thing is; when you loose someone who has played such a profound role in your life, you begin to remember and cherish all the little things they did for you. It's bitter sweet but I am so grateful I had someone who loved me that much and someone I love this much in return. I am so thankful for the father I had and the childhood he gave me. I am grateful for all he did for me and I am grateful that he indirectly taught me how to live with a grateful heart through me sharing his journey with him.

I wish I could talk to him about all of the feelings I am feeling, he was always the first one I would go to. Even if he gave me the bluntest advice I wasn't ready to hear, he was real and raw and I miss that. I wish I could tell him that I lead a positive life full of happiness, but I also wish I could tell him that I get scared sometimes too.

When I get that sinking empty feeling he described to me, or when I feel like he isn't here with me, I feel fear - an emotion I try not to operate by. I also get scared that the grief will get worse and it hasn't set in fully yet. I'm too scared to get close to someone and have children now because I am scared of one of us dying and I absolutely hate the thought of living a long life without my Pa. I always imagined he would be there for all the important bits, but I need to remember what he's end of life journey taught me - that the now is all we really have, so we must live in it.

Six months has made me process that he is actually gone but I am still very much waiting around for the grief to hit me worse as it has been coming in random bursts. I promised myself when he first died that I wouldn't go out and get drunk all the time but I did and it helped heal me in some ways. Nothing you do in the grieving process is wrong - it's all a part of the rocky road of grief. I've had my lows where I've cried like I did at his funeral, and I've had my days where I haven't had to feel the crippling belly pangs and negative feelings that wash over your entire body. I think of him every day, and that comforts me. Never shut down someone talking about a lost loved one they are missing - it doesn't hurt; it helps.

I have this deep ache in my heart when I just know I'll never see him again in this life. I got to the stage of wanting to trade my soul for a warm daddy-daughter cuddle at around two months. I'd do anything to see his cheeky grin, kiss him on the cheek and give him a long, heartfelt squeeze. I do sometimes take my mind back to our last cuddles together and it fills me with complete love, so I still very much grateful that I got the chance to say goodbye. However, I'll just never stop missing those cuddles.

'Time heals all wounds' has to be the shittest quote anyone could EVER use when it comes to grieving the death of a loved one. Time heals all wounds after you've been heart broken by some monsterous prick of a man - yes, because you later realise you deserved much better anyway. Time heals wounds when it comes to being rejected from University or a job you wanted BUT time does NOT heal ALL wounds. There are some wounds that will never fully heal and you just have to learn how to move around and live with them as part of you and that's that. I will never, ever, ever be fully healed from losing my Dad, especially so early on in life and that's okay - it's all a part of my journey here in this life and I have to learn to cope and that in itself with shape my soul and guide me through the path I was always meant to take.

I am writing this to assure you that if you are losing someone or have lost someone - then anything you are feeling is okay. You're right to have any of the feelings you do and don't be hard on yourself. Be your own best friend and try to live your life as though you are living for the both of you now. Focus on the positive and beautiful things in this life and accept that it's not all made up of that. There is a ying and a yang to everything. A dark and a light to anything and the whole thing is all about balance. 

I wrote a poem for my Dad in his cards every birthday, Christmas and Father's days so I thought I would do the same on here today:

Dear Daddy,

Six months have passed since you've been gone,
Not a day passes without it feeling anything but wrong,
I miss you more and more, with each day that passes,
I miss seeing your cute smile, and those sparkling eyes behind your glasses,
What you did for me and all you've said will never get old,
For in my heart, and my memory I will always hold...
All that you've taught me, and all the love you had shown
I just wish you would have been here to see how much I've grown,
You're a kindred spirit to my soul,
I couldn't say half, because your soul was nothing but a whole,
I'll think of you come rain, snow or sunshine,
your laughter, your voice, your humour and advice I'll always pine,
but I know I'll be strong because you were here to be my Dad and my best friend,
And an influence like that, I will carry to the end.
I suppose you could describe you and I both as plucky,
because to have had you as a father, living or lost - I don't feel anything less than lucky,

I love you Popsicle, wherever in this universe you may be.


Always and Forever,
Your little girl,
Your Lisamarie

xxx
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Saturday, 10 June 2017

SALZBURG | AUSTRIA



Salzburg is famous for it's classical musician Mozart and composer, Beethoven. It's renowned also for its scenic views and the sound of music, but it has a lot more to offer than those things too. The name 'Salzburg' means 'Salt Castle'. The name derives from the barges carrying salt on the Salzach river. It is a beautiful city with lot's of beautiful architecture, I love these colourful houses above. I love that you can see the Mountains from almost everywhere that you walk too, it adds a really nice feel to the place. My Uncle and I met up in Salzburg last weekend and we had a blast. I imagine it would be a lovely place for a family holiday (an older family), a couple's break or a fanatic of classical music and a friend's break. I can't imagine going here for a lively girl's weekend!



First stop for us, was GustaV café, the first and only vegan café in Salzburg. They had a delightful menu with all day breakfasts, and sandwiches. I did contemplate ordering an all day breakfast but I decided against it in the end because I haven't had cake since being in here in Austria and I really craved some homemade vegan cake. I got the peach panna cotta cake above, and it did not disappoint. The flavours were balanced perfectly. The sweet panna cotta mixed with the coconut flour sponge served with desiccated coconut and fresh fruit were a perfect combination. I enjoyed every bite. I also got a matcha latte, but next time I go I plan on trying out their beetroot latte.

Everything about GustaV is cute, the menus, chairs and tables make you feel as though you are at the mad hatters picnic. The décor makes you feel like you're living the right lifestyle as a vegan and as though you are on the right path having an interest in the planet too. They had a plant pot made out of an old football and various other quirky, creative, recycled objects. I almost felt as though I was back in Brighton when I was in there, which was nice.

My Uncle and I spent a little time chatting to the staff that worked there. We had a wonderful conversations about our ideas of a creative world full of love, but unfortunately the media and other external influences have pulled us away from that ideal. It's bizarre when you travel and meet people who feel exactly the way you do about certain aspects of life. It's also great to meet people who are as passionate about veganism and animal rights as you are too. I don't have any vegan friends, although I am lucky enough to have vegetarian friends, but café's like these make me feel at home and like I'm not 'the only vegan in the village' (welsh accent, little Britain style).


Before going to Salzburg, I was told that the Salt mines in Hallein were too expensive and to give it a miss, but in true Lisamarie-styley - I ignored them and went anyway. It turns out that I am 100% glad that I did ignore them because it was only 21 euros to get in, and for what you get on this tour, that is an absolute bargain. It just goes to show, that you should always go and see somewhere for yourself, don't listen to what other people have to say about a place you feel yourself gravitating towards.

When you first arrive, they ask you to change into some protective clothing - it becomes apparent why when you're on the tour. You then get taken on a little train into the mountain and into the salt mines. I felt like a true little miner and it was wonderful just imagining miners of the past doing the same journey to work. It had me wondering whether or not that was their worst part of the day because they dreaded getting dragged to work, or if they were grateful for their job and it was one of their favourite parts of the day. I guess it would have depended on the individual and their outlook on life, but it had me pondering either way and I enjoyed it.

Once you arrive to the next stop, you watch the first of a series of four, high-quality, interesting and informative films that they have filmed and produced especially for the mines. I loved how they had edited each one and used architecture and the mountain to add to them. After the short film, it was time for the first of two slides. I thought I would be scared to go on the slides, but I wasn't and they were so much fun. I was reading a book the other day, and in it the author had mentioned that a huge part of our healing is ensuring that we incorporate that child-like excitement and happiness into our adult lives, and I wholeheartedly agree. I had child-like silly fun on these slides and I would go back for those alone.

While you're walking through the Mountain, you cross the Austrian and German boarder, so technically you get to visit two countries in one tour, which is pretty cool. Once you're at the bottom of the mines, there is a huge lake, due to the leaching process where they pumped water through the rock to leach the salt out. We got a boat on that lake and it was one of my favourite experiences so far this year. We had a boat ride, inside a mountain, under a mountain with a light show and lot's of great music playing. I would have paid 21 euros for that part alone to be honest with you, but the fact that you get all of the other things included too is just out of this world. They even give you a small gift at the end, so the tickets are really worth their weight in gold, or shall we say, worth their weight in unprocessed, unbleached salt.


Our final trip in Salzburg itself was a boat ride along the Salzach river. We took the 'nice side of Salzburg' tour and it was lovely. We paid extra to sit outside because the man in the ticket office said it would be better for ventilation and photo taking, but to tell you the truth - he lied. I would have much rather had sat inside.

The outside part of the boat was a cramped part at the back of the boat with two rows of seats facing one another, so unless you're lucky enough to get a seat facing the back of the boat or at the end of the rows, then it is more or less just an awkward bus journey on a boat. I was two seats in with my back to the sights so I didn't get to appreciate the views as fully as I would have liked. I also managed to find myself sitting next to a couple that would not stop kissing and touching one another. I am not a grumpy old lady when it comes to those things, but when you're sitting shoulder to shoulder with a stranger, I feel you could tone down the PDA for just half an hour. It made me so awkward because I didn't want to keep looking their way. The end of the boat ride was super fun though as the driver put on some loud classical music and span us around for a few minutes so we could enjoy some final sights of Salzburg.

I love Salzburg, and I plan on returning at some point in the near future to visit the Castle and go on a sound of music tour too. I enjoyed the food in Salzburg, albeit not traditionally vegan, it was absolutely delicious, if you're curious about anything else we got up to while we were there - check out my Instagram here. If you ever find yourselves in Salzburg I highly recommend the Salt mines, and Gusta V, and if money is tight - make the mines your first priority!

Peace out Potatoes xo


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