Tag Archives: review

The city that never sleeps

I’m writing this at 7am, having been up since 6, due to slight jetlag. Flying west has meant that I’m up early, refreshed and ready to go each day, so it’s been quite handy really!

New York is surprisingly easy to handle on a small budget. Our hostel, the New York Budget Inn is great – reasonably priced and a 5 minute walk from the Emprie State Building. We’re in bunk beds, but that’s fine because there’s so much room for activities! We’ve given ourselves a budget of $50 each per day, which has to cover all food and any attractions. Street food has been mega cheap, we’ve used the subway to keep costs down, and the only other bits we’ve paid for so far are the Empire State and game at Madison Square Garden.

Yesterday we started by visiting the flat iron building, then took the ferry over to Statten Island, which takes you past the  Statue of Liberty and allows you to see Manhatten from the water. It was a really nice clear day for it. We then came back in land and went to visit Ground Zero.


I really wasn’t prepared for my reaction to the site of the Twin Towers.  New York is so rammmed with enormous sky scrapers that the empty space where the towers were is absolutely vast. In place of their foundations are enormous waterfalls which flow down creating yet more negative space. The size of it is just so massive that it made my chest feel heavy. Around the edge are the names of everyone who died, placed next to their friends, or people they were with on 9/11.

We then walked along the Brooklyn Bridge, which was great, it’s such an iconic structure. It was a boiling hot day!


The next thing we found was the High Line, recommended to us by the lovely Charlotte and Mark. It’s an old rail track that runs above the ground, and was used to transport goods around the city until the 1950s. Now, it has been transformed into a park space with loads of plants and great views. There’s also this giant Lego installation with 2 tonnes of white bricks where you can build your own skyline…. Interestingly there were only adults using it haha.


In the evening we went to see the women’s basketball, New York Liberty vs Conneticut Sun at Madison Square Garden. After much confusion on my part (“is it baseball or basketball? Do they hit the ball with a bat?!) I have to say I had such an entertaining evening. Great atmosphere in such an iconic venue. My short attention span was satisfied by the way the game kept stopping and starting with interludes for “dance cam” where they zoom in on members of the audience dancing, dance troops running into the court and a huge dancing dog mascot.



We wandered to Time Square to see it by night, and then went home to bed.


Something that made me laugh:


Tom and the lucky balls.



Book review: Amanda Lindhout’s “A House in the Sky”

As a general rule, I avoid non-fiction books that I know will disturb me. If it’s fiction I can cope with horrid/terrifying subject matter because I know it’s just the spawn of someone’s imagination. The books I absolutely cannot bear however, are true crime and accounts of people who’ve been abused as children.

The reason I tell you this is because I wanted to give a background for how I felt before reading Amanda Lindhout’s “A House in the Sky.”

A House in the Sky is the memoir of Amanda Lindhout, a woman who travels the globe. In August 2008 she visited Somalia, “the most dangerous place on earth,” where she is abducted along with her friend Nigel, by masked gunman.

They are held hostage for 460 days, tortured, and kept in chains before finally being released.




I’d seen that the book had rave reviews online, but I was selfishly a bit scared to read it in case it put me off travelling. (It didn’t, but I’m not in any hurry to go to Somalia now!)

The book was incredible. I gave it a rare five stars on goodreads. I couldn’t put it down, I HAD to know what happened. The account is incredibly harrowing, as you can imagine, but ultimately uplifting. Lindhout survives her ordeal by visiting a house high in the sky, a safe place she’s created for herself.

There’s a passage where she fantasises about waking up at home, going for a run in the fresh air and returning home for pancakes. On reading, I was suddenly filled with an enormous sense of gratitude. These are all things that I can do any time I fancy, and I’m so lucky to be free!

Lindhout faced criticism for even going to Somalia in the first place. She is seen as a rich Westerner whom can be held for a huge ransom. Governments don’t pay ransom money as it’s seen as negotiating with terrorists, hence how she was in captivity for such a long time.

What did I learn?

There’s a lot to cover, but what struck me most was her incredible will to survive, her inner strength, her choices, and her friendships.

I’m filled with gratitude for the lucky life that I’ve lived so far, and eager to see the world in all its colours.

Here is a quote from a goodreads review which I think sums it up beautifully:

“Go anywhere. Fall in love. Make mistakes. Be kind. Forgive. Know that you are strong enough. Make change. Be hopeful. These are the thoughts I am left with, after closing the book. There are others of course – the baseness of human brutality, cultural realities that scare me, how governments work in our lives, the role of women in society, the feeling that there is so much work to be done in so many places. In all this, Amanda leaves her readers with hope, hope for change and hope that despite what she has been through that life holds for her so much more yet.”





Go read it!



Book review: Michael Palin’s Full Circle

I’ve still got my head stuck in every travel book going. My friend Luke lent me this one. (Luke is also in the throws of quitting his job and going off to see the world. I’m especially jealous of his planned Trans-Siberian express and Route 66 trips)


I grew up watching Monty Python, so I know Michael Palin, but I must admit I haven’t got round to watching his TV shows.

Full Circle is the book Palin wrote to accompany the documentary made when he took a 10-month, 50,000 mile (80,000 km) around the rim of the Pacific Ocean in 1995 and 1996.


On his journey, Palin and the film crew visit Russia, Japan, South Korea (they were not allowed to travel very far in North Korea), China,  Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, AustraliaNew Zealand, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

(The above bold countries are the ones that we will definitely visit next year, so were of particular interest.)

It was a slow read, and at points I did find it heavy going. This was mainly due to the fact that I’m not used to non-fiction, and a journal layout.



The book was an interesting insight into the lives of the people living and working on shores of the Pacific. I gave it 3/5 stars on goodreads.

Although there were enjoyable moments that made me giggle, I feel that the trip lends itself better to the visuals of television rather than the written word.

Let the wanderlust feeding ever continue!



New thing 1) Watch ‘Life is Beautiful’

Well hello there.

There’s been a bit of a blogging break here whilst I got my camera sorted – I needed a new charger, and wanted to start this blog off with decent photographs, as the ones from my phone were a bit fuzzy and pants-looking!

I’ve added a list of twenty five things to do before I turn twenty five – you can see it on the left side of the page. Some of them are mundane, some challenging. The main aims of this to get myself out of my box, try some new stuff, and to keep myself occupied in the lead up to our travels in September.

So here we go: number one! Watch ‘Life is Beautiful.”

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This is a film that I’ve had on my shelves for years, yet somehow never got round to watching.. mainly due to it being in Italian, and I was putting if off because I’m usually doing some complex knitting, which makes subtitles a bit hard!

If I gave it a mark out of ten, it’d be a full 10/10 and I’d highly recommend.

It starts out as a daft slapstick comedy, think Basil Fawlty in pre-world war two Italy.



The beautiful main characters then start a family, and World War II breaks out. I won’t spoil it for you. But it was one of the most happy, yet harrowing films I’ve ever seen. I laughed, I cried.



Guido: [pretending to translate] “The game starts now. You have to score one thousand points. If you do that, you take home a tank with a big gun. Each day we will announce the scores from that loudspeaker. The one who has the fewest points will have to wear a sign that says “Jackass” on his back. There are three ways to lose points. One, turning into a big crybaby. Two, telling us you want to see your mommy. Three, saying you’re hungry and want something to eat.”


Book Review: Rosie Swale Pope’s ‘Just a Little Run Around the World’


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Those who know me will know that I am, and always have been, a massive bookworm. Since planning our travels, all I’ve wanted to read is books about adventures and travelling. I’m planning on doing regular travel book reviews on the blog.

In my hunt for my next read, I came across Rosie Swale Pope’s ‘Just a Little Run Around the World.‘ – A non-fiction book about a woman who tragically loses her husband to cancer, and then decides to literally run around the world over five years in order to raise awareness, encourage regular health checks, and to grieve her husband.


It’s a bit unclear in the above photo (I’ll get my camera sorted soon, I promise) but the tagline reads: ‘5 years, 3 packs of wolves and 53 pairs of shoes.’

I loved this book. I normally read fiction, so it was a bit of a change of flavour for me, but I found it so inspirational! It’s one of those books that reminds you to never take anything for granted, and (excuse the expression) to grab life by the balls!

The book was an incredible read on many levels:

  •  Rosie begins her run aged 57. (!)
  •  She runs alone
  •  She covers huge distances each day – putting my twice weekly 5k plod to shame!
  •  She sleeps outside in minus 20 and worse.

I could go on forever, but what struck me most of all was her incredible positivity, even when being chased by wild dogs, harassed by drunken men and at one point, even waking up to find a naked bloke wielding an axe outside her tent!

I was also taken by how she meets the most kind strangers.


“Never miss the chance to be happy.”

The above quote really stayed with me after reading the book. I love the philosophy that life is just one big opportunity that you can grab.

You can follow me on goodreads here.

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