Down Under Diary 7: Thank YOU

I’m writing this post feeling so much gratitude for the week we have had. So many things right now make me feel so happy. We are in a place we love, meeting so many brilliant new people, seeing exciting new things and speaking to everyone back home so often that it doesn’t really feel like we are so far away. This post is an update on our week and includes some Sydney tips, but really it is a gratitude post.

I started the week with another Girls Love Travel meetup. This time there were a few different faces from the week before which was great because it meant that I got to speak to and get to know a few more people. We went to a bar called Stitch which is apparently one of Sydney’s top 10 bars. I’ve got to say it wasn’t my scene – it  was styled like a speakeasy, was hotter than hell and sold overpriced, overly strong drinks – don’t try to Irn Bro, it can only lead to disappointment – but to meet up with the girls was great. I had to leave early to sort some paperwork for our visa but I’m glad I went and socialised even if only for a little bit.

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This week was also the first anniversary of the first date Jack and I went on. Our date was really low key – we had gone for a walk around the Ottley Chevin and got ice cream – but as cheesy as it sounds it was one we both left thinking ‘ah, I’ve found my person’. To think that in just a year we have gone on three holidays together, got engaged, travelled Australia and then settled in Sydney is crazy! I’m so proud of us for taking this leap of faith and in all honesty get a little choked up when I think of all we have done together. We celebrated this mini anniversary by ordering dumplings and staying in because in a few weeks we are away for the weekend for our ‘proper’ anniversary.

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To kick our weekend off, we had a little picnic in the local park. We are lucky to live close to a few really good cafes. The Library does the best toasties so we got two to go and enjoyed the sunshine.

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Then it came time to focus on pretending we were interior designers. Jack and I still wanted a few more bits for the apartment but have been working out monthly budgets so have been careful with our money for the first month here. We have had the main bits of furniture for a while now but the ‘pretty’ bits that make it feel like home were still on our to do list. We went for a walk to Neutral Bay which isn’t too far from us but couldn’t really find any homeware shops. There were lots of cafes, restaurants and clothing boutiques but no homeware shops.

We then got the bus to Chatswood where there was more choice, stopped off at Target and then returned to our beloved Kmart. For cheap but nice homeware, you really can’t get better than Kmart and Target. We managed to spend about $120 on photo frames, potted plants, decorative ceramics, a lamp and fairy lights (I am a sucker for fairy lights), all of which have just finished our space off nicely. The apartment has always felt like home to us, but now it really feels homely and welcoming. Plus the photo frames have allowed us to have pictures of family and friends back home around us. Jack and I both took a collection of special photos with us when we went travelling to keep and if I ever feel homesick I find it helps to look at these pictures, so to have them on display around us at all times is lovely.

I’m really proud of the little home we have made. We arrived in Sydney with just a suitcase full of clothes each so to have it looking this lovely really makes me happy.

My cousin Meg was in Sydney over the weekend so we invited her over for brunch. Jack cooked (of course) and we had a really good catch up. I love that I can see my family more and make memories with them regularly.

Jack and I realised that Meg was actually the second person we have had over to the apartment! When I had an apartment in England, I would constantly host predrinks or have friends over. To have been here for almost two months and only have our second visitor just now made me realise just how far away we are from everyone we know – but also how lucky we are to have the people in Australia that we do.

Because I spend most of my day in the apartment writing, I am starting to feel unfit and sluggish. I mentioned this to my friend Katie and she suggested that we go for a walk, so on Monday we met at my apartment and walked the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We walked through The Rocks and sat at Circular Quay for a bit, people watching and catching up, then walked the bridge back. Walking the bridge is one of my favourite things to do and I would recommend it to anyone who visits Sydney.

As always, the views were just stunning. Every time I walk around Sydney, I am so incredibly thankful to be here. It never bores me and never gets old. It is Autumn here but it doesn’t feel cold to me at all. It was 20 degrees, 25 with the humidity and sun, so perfect weather conditions for a walk.

I’ve said it before but I will say it again – I am so glad I have met Katie here. To have someone going through the same thing you are really helps and to have someone you get on with so well makes it even better. I know whenever I meet her I will be talking about serious things one minute, belly laughing the next and always having a good time. When it’s just myself and Jack, I never feel lonely, I have family close that I really love to see and I am in constant contact with so many people from back home, but sometimes when I spend a lot of time indoors writing, it can feel a little isolating. Meeting Katie and the other girls has been great and really helped me to settle in.

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This week has also been really great on a personal note. I have finished the first draft of my novel! I have written for years, but I rarely completed anything because I was too scared to send them off or be rejected, so I would always stop writing things a few chapters before the end. Through blogging and the lovely comments people have made about my work, I feel in a better place to write and to send my work off. So I have been working on a YA Fiction novel for a few months and last week I finished it!

For me, this is a huge personal achievement and one I am so proud of. I need to edit and fine tune it but I am hoping that I get the confidence to send this off. I know that publishing is highly competitive and that it is hard for people to get their work noticed never mind published, but just to be at the stage where I have a completed manuscript is something that I am so proud of.

I celebrated this achievement with a packet of Quavers (thanks Kati!e)

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I’d just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has ever read, liked, shared or commented on any post I have written. Your feedback really has meant so much to me and is one of the reasons why I felt I could be brave and write this story. I have never felt this confident in myself and my creativity before. I write for myself because I enjoy it, but to be recognised by people who work for blogs, magazines and the people I know and love back home really does mean a lot. So thank you – you have made one dreamer very happy and very proud.

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