Sammy’s Kitchen Abroad: the Beginning of the End

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Lying here in the Fijian sun kind of marks the beginning of the end of my 7 month adventure. When I leave here, I am officially on my way home. Which is mad. But also a bit exciting. I thought I’d share some of the things I’m going to miss, as well as the stuff I’m looking forward to at home, whether they’re obvious things like seeing my friends and family, to the weird small things like missing John Lewis. So, here we go, the things I’m buzzin about my return the land of the (Hertford)shire…

My Dog

I CANT WAIT TO SEE HER. I have actually dreamt about our reunion on numerous occasions, then talked about that dream in another dream. I’ve been dreaming about a dream about my dog. Yup. Sounds about right. At almost 15 and after emergency surgery to remove a grapefruit-sized lump on her spleen, in all honestly we weren’t sure if I would see her again, which would have absolutely broken my heart. I can’t wait to be stared at while I’m on the toilet, to be given a wet and muddy paw to wipe, to get soaked from a dripping wet beard, to walk through the countryside in the rain, to be nearly gassed to death by a deadly dog fart (maybe not so much actually), but mostly I can’t wait to give her a big ol’ cuddle and spoil her rotten. Don’t worry Tia, your favourite person will be home soon.

Rugby

I’ve missed playing rugby a bloomin awful lot. I’ve missed going to training every week. I’ve missed catching up with my pals on a weekly basis. I missed our first ever win, which was really rather gutting. I really cannot wait to get stuck back into all. I also purchased a Saracens season ticket for the first time, and I can’t wait to get myself down to Allianz park with my pal and watch some cracking rugby.

A decent kitchen

Hostel kitchens are notoriously shit, so I can’t wait to be back in my kitchen with all the equipment I need and a jam packed larder cupboard to make everything taste that much better. I can’t wait to eat my usual food and get creating again, with no $3 peppers and $6 tomatoes in sight. I’m actually really excited to go to Aldi simply for the cheap veg and to see what pizza oven/hot tub-esque delights I can find. And while we are in the kitchen, I can’t wait for a proper cup of tea because boy oh boy have I had some bloody awful cups of tea. I expected it in Asia but thought I’d be safe in New Zealand. How wrong I was. I had a good few cups, mainly because I splashed out and bought myself some Twinings tea bags, but wowzah do some hostels serve you some right shit.

Routine

While being away I’ve realised how much I like routine. Lol. I’ve moved around an awful lot over the last six and a bit months, which provides very little structure. Don’t get me wrong being spontaneous is cool and fun and hip but it ain’t always for me. I’m actually a bit excited to get back to work, back to rugby, back to the gym because it sorts me out with a nice little routine. Speaking of the gym, I am so so excited to get back to it and kickstart my “I have barely done any exercise in 7 months” training program.

Wedding planning

Nope, dw mum I didn’t fall in love with a local and get engaged, I’m talking about Megan’s wedding. I am a very proud Maid of Honour to my amazing cousin and OH MY GOODNESS I AM SO EXCITED. She is getting married in May, so it’s time for me to get my shit together and start fulfilling my duties.

A proper towel

This is something I didn’t realise I missed until I stayed with some family in NZ and they provided me with a proper bath towel. Living with a microfibre towel is perfect for travelling – compact and quick drying, but it doesn’t hug me the same way my nice Cath Kidston bath towel does.

My bed

Bit of an obvious one but one that definitely can’t be missed off the list. Nothing beats snuggling into your own bed with laundry fresh sheets and clean pyjamas with no lumpy mattress, dodgy stained sheets or a smelly brick of a pillow in sight. I can’t wait to lie in bed in my own room with my own space and not be woken up every time someone opens the door. No snoring man who sounds like he might actually be dying, no Hispanic “whispering” and waking up the whole dorm and of course no one having sex mere inches away from my poor innocent self.

John Lewis, afternoon tea, pubs and BBQs/Roasts

Admittedly a bit of a weird one, but they’re all kinda typically English things that I’ve missed. John Lewis? I just really love walking around, especially the kitchen and sports department, before going for tea in the cafe upstairs. Which brings are us to afternoon tea as it’s own wonderful specifical. So it’s obviously not something I do on the regular, but I reckon I go at least once or twice a year for the fall blown finger sandwiches and selection of special delights and not forgetting the scones of course. Even if it’s not the whole shebang, I love going to cute little tea shops (the Osprey outlet near me is especially cute in the sun and I love taking my Grandma there. Who will then go and spend too much in the shop, then I’ll get told off by dad for letting her do so. But hey dad, you try and stop a 4ft10 specimen with brilliant persuasive skills and charming ways).

Proper English pubs are a rarity outside of the country. Nowhere does them quite like we do. Yes there are Irish pubs all over but they don’t have anything on ours. Whether it’s a mulled wine in winter or a delightful pale ale in a beer garden with my pals in the sun, it’s just truly lovely. I can’t talk about English things without mentioning the summer BBQ and winter roast. I love all the snazzy salads and accompaniments we do with a BBQ (love a good quinoa salad) and I just love everything about a roast. Again, nowhere seems to do it quite like we do.

The things I won’t miss…

Living out of a rucksack

Dayumn am I done with this rucksack. It does unzip kinda like a suitcase, which has undoubtably made my life much easier, but having to pack it time and time again gets old very quickly. I can’t wait to have all my clothes easily accessible and visible, but more importantly a good choice of clothes that don’t need to packed away everyday.

The bugs

Fair do’s Fiji and New Zealand have graced me with their lack of horrifying bugs, but I’ve still been eaten by an awful lot by mosquitos and sand flies. We did also see a giant terrifying monster of a spider in Fiji. Two in fact, although we told ourselves it must be the same one as there is only one spider on the island just to make ourselves feel better. Living in fear of being scared to death by a cockroach definitely won’t be something I miss either. It made me realise how lucky we are in England. No deathly creatures, no cockroaches lurking in your bedroom and no Mosquitos to eat you alive.

 

Shit wifi

There’s nothing worse than shit wifi. Especially when all you want to do is watch the dog video you’ve just been tagged in on Facebook. I’d actually rather have no wifi than shit wifi, because at least then you know where you stand and you don’t spend forever staring at your phone getting frustrated. It’s definitely a #FirstWorldProblem but an annoying one nonetheless.

Shit showers

Having spent over 130 nights in hostels I can suss out a shit shower with just one glance. Obviously the shower itself is important, warmth is always a bonus but a weak dribble of a shower simply isn’t going to wash my fro. Having to section of parts of your hair in order to make sure it’s wet through before shampooing just ain’t what life is about. While you shower, you’re gonna need somewhere to hang your towel and your nice clean and dry undies you’re about to put on. Shower cubicles that don’t provide a simple hook or small area to get dressed in are more than annoying. No one likes wet undies.

Despacito

Don’t get me wrong it’s a good song and like the other millions who watched the YouTube video, I really liked it and it does make me wanna dance. But I’ve definitely overheard it now. Overheard the Spanish version, overheard the JB version (the best one), overheard the reggae version, overheard the dance remix and overheard every other version that has been created. It was also killed a little bit by an annoying Colombian on our Kiwi Experience bus who thought he was Gods gift to the earth (he couldn’t have been further from it).

Things I’m going to miss…

The food

With a bit of a clue in my blog name, I am indeed a self proclaimed foodie through and through. For me, one of the best parts of travelling all over the world is being able to sample local culinary delights. From the Fijian Lovo to the classic Thai Green Curry, and the Queenstown Ferg Burger to the Indian Paneer Butter Masala, I have absolutely loved it all. Being able to buy a whole cooked tuna for less than £3 is something even Aldi can’t match. I’m really going to miss all the food and I really have gone to town with it all (diets do not exist when you’re not at home), but I can’t wait to try and recreate some of the delightful dishes in my own kitchen.

No responsibilities

When you’re away for a fair while you are pretty much care free. No job to worry about, no people to please, no appearances to uphold (I can confirm I have looked and dressed like an absolute mess for the last few months and it’s been wonderful). You can do what you want a when you want, with it having very little impact on anyone else. I don’t have to make sure my car has petrol in it or my clothes are washed and ironed (clothes are only unclean if they fail the sniff test). I almost feel a little bit selfish because I literally don’t have to do anything for anyone. This independence is pretty great. I just do me.

 

The weather and the scenery

Apart from New Zealand I’ve been in warm, sunny weather for pretty much the whole time. Particularly since I’ve been in Fiji, but waking up to sunshine is just lovely. Besides, everything is better with a tan.

I’ve seen some absolutely stunning places too. Whether it be the sea, the beach, the mountains or the sand dunes, all have been bloomin b e a utiful. I have really loved being able to dive again and even just swimming in the sea. I’ve seen many a turtle, manta ray and shark, and I’m 99% sure I won’t get to see any of those at home.

 

The people

Travelling as an introvert definitely isn’t plain sailing, and if I think about it, I’m still not a massive fan of people. Lol. At home, I would really much rather be with a small group of people, especially “my people”, those who I know and know me already. I’m pretty awkward in big groups and will often be happy to just observe from the outside. I guess I’m pretty shy and quiet unless I know you, and don’t like being the centre of attention much. That being said I can ramble on for absolutely ages to fill any awkward silences and I’m actually pretty good at it, I just dislike doing it. So taking all this into account, meeting new people basically every day has always been pretty daunting and realistically probably always will be. But it was never as bad as I thought it would and getting the opportunity to meet people from all over the world has been so so cool, and ultimately I’ve met some pretty amazing people and become good friends with. The kind that I’d be less shy around and probably a tad (a lot) more crazy around. True friends.

 

As per, I could go on forever about what I’m going to miss and what I’m looking forward to at home, but I think it’s time to leave it there. Damn what an incredible few months this has been. I can’t believe it’s almost over. It seems like only a few days ago I was waving goodbye to my teary eyed mother at the airport.

So for now I’m going to lap up my last few days in the sun before heading home. Island life has been brill for the last couple of weeks, but I’m looking forward to another culture change and a big ol’ bustling city. Next up: San Francisco, San Diego, New York, home.

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