Tag Archives: travel

Holding Back The Years

I recently rediscovered a video-camera tape from 20 years ago. It’s a 7 minute long, shaky as hell, candid effort of 17-year-old me and a friend driving around Sydney in a Porsche, behaving like extras off Neighbours. It’s bloody brilliant. 

Now when I say brilliant, I mean in the most non-brilliant, sarcastic of ways. It’s actually horrendous. The camera work is filmed as though we’re on a fairground ride, it’s windy as hell or pitch black most of the time, and the shots of us getting in and out of the car resemble something from either an 80’s porno or a cop film. Then there’s my hair.

I’ve had to borrow an old school Sony video camera to be able to watch this epic back. It’s such an old model. There’s no viewing screen, just plug-in aux cables and a battery pack which no longer works without a mains cable. Somehow, the tape we recorded on is as good as new, almost 20 years later.

Not particularly loving sixth form or my job at Merseyside Police, I grabbed my Aussie passport in 2000 and went back home to work in Sydney while the Olympics was on.

I made some amazing friends and memories and carried out my share of irresponsible behaviour. Well, that’s what your teens are all about, right? But that hair! Where the hell were my friends when I asked for an official KAREN cut? Sheesh.

Last night I sat on the floor and stared up at the big screen as my teenage self came into shot. The instantly recognisable frown, the wiggle in my walk (those heels were immense, I bought them in Dune on Bold Street in Liverpool before I left), and my hysterical imposter Aussie accent.

Having been back in Sydney just three months, and having left the UK as a fully paid-up, card-carrying Scouser, I was definitely putting that on!

I look back at my tall, athletic frame and wonder why I ever beat myself up so much about my body. Three kids and 20 years later, I’ve fallen heavily into the trap of wishing I had loved myself and valued my self-esteem at that young age. Instead, I just wanted to feel like I belonged, somewhere.

Singing along to Christina Aguilera on the car radio, we drove around Double Bay and over into the city without a care in the world. We were pretending we had it all and could rule the world. When in actual fact, we were broke and wondering how much longer we could last out before calling home for a bailout.

If I had any advice for my 17-year-old self, it would be to value and understand the importance of living an authentic life.  Put honesty, with yourself and others, integrity and loyalty at the very top of your list and never lose sight of them.

Twenty years later, having, at times been ruled by my ego and selfishness, I realise there is no opportunity to wipe the slate clean. You learn, (eventually) and you move on. On reflection, in all its technicolor, straya-accented glory, I was already on a bumpy path at just 17.

The video is entitled ‘Pie’s Adventure’. Someone, I think it was my dad, once said: “Kate’s in Sydney” which apparently sounded a bit like Steak and Kidney, so naturally I was nicknamed Pie, from there on out.

Let me tell you, Pie has had many an adventure since Sydney 2000, some good, some not so good, but this is the only videotape I have to document who I was and how I’ve changed. It’s wonderful and mortifying in equal measure.

Here’s to holding back the years. Stopping to reflect on who we are, how far we’ve come, and being grateful for another blessed day.

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oh The Places You’ll Go

On NYE 2018 I made a resolution to spend at least 30 days of the brand, spanking new year out of the country. It’s March 2020 and I still haven’t achieved it, however, if I could jet off right now…

I travelled 12,000 miles around the world when I was 8 weeks old. My mum flew us from Australia to Liverpool to meet the family. My Aussie passport stamped, I arrived in the city for the first time in 1983. Since then I’ve been back to my native Sydney, walked the streets of NYC, tanned on the beaches of Turkey, Greece, Spain, Germany, watched shooting stars streak across the Nevada desert, sipped cocktails in Hong Kong, explored wartime history in France, chased dreams in New York, done the Disney thing twice over and made London, the northeast of England and Cumbria my temporary homes.

IMG_9575

It’s not bad going for someone who started a family at 22. Travelling with kids makes things slightly more complicated, but not impossible. In her first 18 months of life, my eldest daughter boarded no less than 17 Ryanair flights (I know, tantamount to child abuse) as we nipped over to France to see my folks.

She was the token 1 year old getting me all kinds of disapproving looks on a long haul flight to Las Vegas. Only to sleep for 8 hours and behave like a freaking angel for the rest of the flight! The little one clocked up some miles in Manhattan at just 2, saw the Statue of Liberty and a love of Ghostbusters was born early on. She’s hung out on the Four Seasons fairways in Portugal, she’s paddled in the warm water at Padstow. In short, we’ve had some amazing adventures.

image0 (3)

Travel took a back seat when the other two little legends came along. I’ve never been a jet setter but we did okay. Now I trawl through Instagram accounts of families who have sold everything to go travelling around the world together with their young kids, educating them on everything from religion to languages, science, and nature, a truly 4d experience. The only reason I’ve regretted not buying a house is that I can’t sell it and bugger off to globe-trot. Sake!

image1 (1)

That old adage – If I won the lottery, or came into some money, the very first thing I would do is pack us up and get on a flight. Right now it’s near impossible to go to the corner shop without being questioned by the police.

But, there’s a big old world out there, waiting to come to life from the travel magazine pages and websites. This is my ‘stage one’ itinerary.

Around the world with Katie James, if you will.

Casablanca, Morocco

Leave the tourists in Marakesh and head north to Casablanca for incredible Moorish and European art deco architecture. 20 degrees in Spring, a fresh Atlantic breeze and phenomenal photo opportunities. I’m going straight in for a culture shock on my first stop and I think the romance of Casablanca is a great start.

Petra, Jordan

I loved Indiana Jones growing up and a visit to the lost city of Petra, Jordan could be the highlight of my worldwide trip. The ancient Al Khazneh temple, which was carved out of sandstone is at the top of my list at this 2000-year-old ancient city. Worn in Nikes, Canon, spare batteries and lensed sunglasses is all I need to roam free and step back in time here.

Rome, Italy

I’m 37 and I’ve never been to Italy! How has this happened? I’m going to visit Rome in the Autumn time to see the starling murmurations – which are annoying as hell to locals, but a sight to behold for those interested in more than just the ancient tourist attractions. COViD-19 foiled my plan to visit a couple of weeks ago, but there’s an Air BNB roof terrace and an Aperol with my name on out there, somewhere.

Venice, Italy

The floating city! Since that epic sinking sequence in Bond film, Casino Royale, Venice has held a special place in my heart. People have told me the water is stinking, the streets are always crowded and it’s like 8 euro for a coffee. Yeah but, the city floats! Planning a trip to arrive around the time of the Venice Film Festive would be pretty epic too.

Athens, Greece

I bloody love Disney’s Hercules. I loved learning about ancient Greece at school and there’s something about ancient civilisations and mythology that has to be felt. The textbooks just never did it justice. You can’t be a massive Nike fan and not want to visit Athens. Guaranteed to be humming the Hercules soundtrack the whole time.

Chennai, India

Bit of a random one. I’m a big sports fan. I always loved watching international cricket as it happens. The Ashes of 2005 was the one, got me through my first pregnancy. I adored Nasser Hussain (don’t ask, it was the way he wore the cap I think.) Anyway, he’s from Chennai in India and having read his autobiography, I just always wanted to go!

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Oh Colombo, a port city, much like my own (adopted) home of Liverpool. The Sri Lankan capital has experienced many international influences from dutch, to Portuguese, British and of course, independence. A trip out of the metropolis to The Last Kindom in Kandy is a must too.

Osaka, Japan

Me and my eldest kid are huge comic con and cosplay fans and so a stop in Japan was vital. Tokyo might seem the obvious choice and how I loved Lost In Translation. But Osaka is the one for me. The cherry blossom trees at Osaka Castle, and the contrast of the bustling Dotonbori, the food and the retro gaming – the perfect way to absorb the culture.

Sanya, China

I had the pleasure of working with the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race as it set sail from Liverpool’s Royal Albert Dock. The race involves a stop in Sanya, China, a place that I’d never heard of before but once you’ve caught a glimpse of its stunning beaches (Sanya Bay, wow) and incredible cultural monuments, you have to go!

Palmerston Island, Cook Islands

I read the amazing history of Palmerston Island in The Sunday Times magazine, probably about 5 years ago. Everyone who lives on this tiny atoll can trace their image back to a man from Leicester. Yep, Leicester. William Masters arrived on this coral reef enclosed island in1863 with two wives and the rest they say is history.

Tahiti, French Polynesia

Okay, this pit stop is pure because of an Eddie Murphy line in a 90’s cop film. Nope, not Beverley Hills Cop, but Metro. ‘Naked in Tahiti’ in a rubbish English accent – along with the black sand beaches, lagoons and love of artist, Gaugin, I could take a week off to get naked in Tahiti. The island is also in the shape of figure 8, which is kind of special to me.

Cusco, Peru

Continuing my love of ancient ruins. 15th-century citadel, Machu Picchu is most definitely on the travel list for me. Nearby Cusco is the gateway to The Scared Valley. From a bustling tourist center to the tiny Andean villages, experiencing ‘The Road to Eldorado’ style Inca trail is something I’d love to do with my kids.

Miami, USA

Miami! Will Smith made it sound so amazing! The art deco hotel fronts, skating along South Pointe Pier, a lazy day on Lauderdale beach. Lunch at Boia De, cocktails at The Broken Shaker and back to the airport. Stay just long enough to capture some incredible photos and we’re off again.

New Orleans, USA

My sister and I are life-long Scooby Doo fans and there’s no finer episodes than the ones set in spooky New Orleans. Cut to 2020 and the recent season 2 of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina channeled the Mardi Gras style so perfectly, that it reignited a flame to want to visit. Plus, The Princess and The Frog has us all wanting to check out the Louisiana Bayou tour!

Niagara Falls, Canada

You don’t want to know how much time I have sat and watched the Niagara Falls live stream from on top of the Sheraton Falls hotel. Seriously, I have a problem. I’ve wanted to board the Maiden of the Mist since I was about 9. Fascinated by the stories of people attempting to go over the magnificent falls in barrels etc has had me captivated for too long.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Sticking with Canada, hiking doesn’t get much better of fulfilling around Halifax, Nova Scotia. Cape Breton Highlands is the place to be for a wild adventure, then it’s back into the 4km long boardwalk of the Halifax waterfront to feast on amazing seafood. I interviewed a lady who was sailing on the QM2, which en route to New York, was stopping in Halifax. She raved about it and now I want to see if for myself.

Liverpool, UK

d7b481df-ff5c-4b86-a361-53e6a6fd2413

It has to be said, sailing back into Liverpool has to be one of the most exhilarating experiences, even as an adopted Scouser. The Royal Liver Building standing tall and proud on the waterfront, those iconic Liver Birds keeping watch. Sometimes the best thing about travelling, is coming home.

Maybe I’ll buy a boat with that lottery win?

Where would you go? Send me your itinerary katejamesblogs@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Almost There

If you’re not singing ‘Almost There’ from Disney’s Princess & The Frog right now, we can’t be friends. 

It occurred to me the other day, as a friend rapidly approaches a big birthday, that I’m halfway there. Almost done. Seriously. I don’t mean to be morbid about it, it’s just a fact. I’m 36. With my high sugar diet and penchant for stressing over things out of my control, it’s highly unlikely I’ll make it to 80. Diabetes and its best mate, cardiac arrest are always watching.

Clearly I need to make a few life changes, which I’m working on. Back out running, attempting to eat less sugar and plan my balanced meals (now that all 17 Easter eggs have been inhaled). But this impending birthday (not even mine – see what I mean about stressing over pointless stuff) did make me stop and think. What have I actually achieved in my 36 years?

Society used to say that by the age of 36 a woman should be married and raising children. Ticked those boxes. Turns out kids are absolutely immense, husbands….mmmm not so. And besides society can kiss my arse. We’re marching to the beat of our own drums these days.

Are bucket lists still a thing? Is there a 2019 version (a short YouTube video maybe?) of making a list of stuff you really wanna do before you croak? Should it take news of ill health or a monumental life event to motive us to live more? Surely the biggest regret in life is to get to your dying breath and wish you’d done more? Taken more chances, worried less about the consequences.

My personal bucket list has gone from worldly adventures to ironing all the school uniforms on a Sunday. Or getting all the washing out on the line on a sunny day. Sometimes I set a target for my daily word count, other times its my step counter or calorie count on My Fitness Pal.

Maybe I’ve become uninspired and bogged down with the practicalities of parenting. The kids need a solid education, to be settled, see their friends, get enough sleep etc. And they get all that. But I’m always blown away to hear stories of people who’ve upped sticks on gone traveling with their young families for months on end. Can a school with ‘requires improvement’ Ofsted results really question the education of world travel?

In reality, the inspiration still burns inside (oo-err). I don’t want to be on my death bed content with never having travelled further than the M62 but its okay because all the laundry was done in a timely matter and I scored highest on My Fitness Pal for calorie deficit.

We’re all heading the same way. I’m almost there, but the second half of my story will take a different path.


Say hi! Twitter & Instagram.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Less Resolution More Revolution

I can’t quite remember from who or where I’ve stolen that title but it’s a belter isn’t it?

2017 is all about making waves for me, causing a personal revolution and generally saying yes to whatever comes my way so I’m ditching the unrealistic resolutions and looking at them as fun goals instead!

I’ve thought long and hard and come up with a compact list that is realistic yet challenging. It might look fairly basic to you but I’m the type who derives immense joy from ticking off lists.

(I’ll admit to writing some tasks on my list when I’ve already done them to give myself a bit of a boost, I know, I’m weird).

So anyway, 2016 was pretty damn awesome for me, so I’m going to have to go some to up the ante.

Here we go…..

kasbah_ruins_ait_benhaddou_morocco

Travel Inspiration – Kasbah Ruins, Morocco

1 – Spend at least 30 days out of the country and visit two places/cities/countries I’ve never been to before. Morocco is currently top of my list followed by the lost city of Petra, Jordan. Eeeeek, excited!

linda-rodin-goals

Hair and Style goals – Linda Rodin and pooch, Winky.

2 – Right this one is huge (for me). I’m going to stop dying my hair. Oh god I’ve said it. It’s no secret that I’m destined to be a silver fox, and despite a 5-month-long failed attempt earlier this year, I’m gonna give it another go.

Thank you to the lovely lady on reception at Radio City for encouraging me to embrace the grey! Much respect, and you look bloody fabulous x

 

je-logo

Goodbye Chicken Fried Rice, it was good while it lasted. I love you x

 

3 – I’m on a roll now! I’m also giving up take-away. Not all crappy food, (I really love pic n mix), just actual take away. No Just Eat, no Deliveroo and no deliciously gooey and chocolatey fabulousness from TreatyPie. I must prepare and cook actual food….for a whole year.

social-media

Repeat After Me: I Do Not Need To Check My Phone Every Five Minutes…..

4 – Technology goal. No switching my phone on until 9am (kids in safely in school and nursery etc) and off again at 8pm EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT. Yep.

sushi-rainbow-roll

Oh Hi pretty food that wont give me diabetes!

5 – Try Sushi! Utterly ridiculous that I’ve made it to the ripe old age of 34 and I’ve been too scared to try sushi! January for sure this one!

delta-2

Problem Booking Taxi: No available cars in your area…..til 2018…..unlucky

6 – Last one. No taxi’s. I need to learn to manage my time so that I don’t have to last minute.com all the time and ring a Delta. Plus I’m hardly Rockefeller so think of all the savings! Could pay for one of my trips, girl with a plan.

So that’s it. 365 days of cute bite-size, cute food, foreign adventures, silver hair, healthy meal prep, Instagram posts (between the hours of 9 and 8 only) and generally improving life as I know it.

Doesn’t matter how you do it, resolutions, goals whatever, be happy and make 2017 count.

Happy New Year

x

 

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Focus

I’ve recently found myself unexpectedly free over August bank holiday weekend after my plans to hit the beach for a few days of paradise were scuppered! 

Feeling incredibly low, I called a meeting of friends who have travelled within the last month and sipped JD while we formulated a new plan. (All the best plans are made this way, right?)

Liverpool airport now flies directly to Marrakesh…..dreamy! St Petersberg, Bucharest and Naples just a hop skip and a passport away and there is no way I’m wasting this rare opportunity to do something a bit different!

My friend John has not long come back from a mammoth trip to Canada, and Jim is booking flights to Moscow and the Far East with work……and I was looking at interning on a national paper in London for five days before I realised just how accessible Europe is from our very own airport in Speke. 

I haven’t travelled on my own since I upped sticks and went back to Australia in 2000 at the age of 17. 12,000 miles from Manchester to Paris to Singapore and finally Sydney. Previously I’d gone as far as town on a Saturday! 

I took to all the style guide books I have at home and thought about having the opportunity to write from my own experience. That was enough to put the wheels in motion. 

Sat around the table at MacKenzies, Rodney Street earlier this week I voiced my concerns about my little jaunt turning into yet another Taken film (what number is it now…..3…4?) but with promises to come looking for me if I don’t check in regularly (sadly not Liam Neeson) I put those fears to bed as the excitement took over.

It goes without saying that ideally I’d love to get the girls together and have a mad weekend city break, laughing til our stomachs hurt and the rose runs out! 

But the reality of it being the middle of the summer holidays and kids and work and money comes into play! Not so easy to drop everything and catch a last minute flight when you’re a mum!

However, determined to not waste this opportunity, I’ve spent hours on Kayak (travel app) looking at flights and inspired by a work event airside at John Lennon Airport this Tuesday, I’ve woken up this morning and just booked a single flight. 

It’s done, and come hell or high water, it’s going to be an amazing adventure! 

I’ll get back to you at check in. 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Ten

This weekend I celebrated ten years in my job. Starting out at 22 I didn’t think I was ready for a full time career…..no prior training, demanding clients and round the clock shifts. However the rewards are endless if you’re willing to take payment in dry pasta pictures and heart-swelling pride.

Wonky Fringe

                  Wonky Fringe

My not so little girl is ten. I’ve been reminiscing this weekend saying things like: “Oh this time ten years ago I was at the Women’s Hospital being induced” I’m not sure anyone looks back fondly on childbirth…do they? But after ten years my memory has done a good job of glossing over the 24 our induced labour and walking like John Wayne for a week or so afterwards. I felt as if I’d been hit by a bus that morning when I realised the pregnancy was finally over and the real work had begun.

My girl spent her birthday jumping round at Velocity Trampoline Park with her friends. I spent her birthday wondering how I got so lucky to have her as a daughter. We’ve been through the mill a bit over the years, house moves and changes in our family circumstances and she’s just taken it all in her stride. I couldn’t have picked a better partner in crime.

She’s full of mischief, with her big curly hair and freckle-smattered cheeks. Her favourite prank at the moment is pulling my pjay bottoms down while I’m doing the dishes or hiding in the shower when I tell her there’s homework to do. (Three times she’s got me with that one) I get my own back by putting embarrassing messages in her packed lunch box every Monday and cutting her fringe wonky.

We’ve shared some awesome times. Our faces lighting up when the Statue of Liberty came into sight from the Staten Island ferry in New York. Watching the fountains at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. Summers spent picking/eating strawberries in rural France in 40 degree heat. We’ve broken a Guinness World Record, completed the Santa Dash 5k (dressed as a Christmas pudding) and chatted live on Radio City FM.

So many brilliant memories that make being her mum the best job in the world.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,