A sunny day in Kirkby Stephen, May 2020.

As lockdown continues and the days blur together, weekends and bank holidays don’t feel the same way that they used to. For most, they were a welcome break from the working week. In retail they are can be the busiest trading days, especially during nice weather and school holidays when people might get away. The Lake District is particularly popular with tourists, usually over 15 million visitors journey annually to enjoy the scenery, peace and quiet.

Olivia was lucky to be assigned her first teaching post in Appleby and to then settle in Kirkby Stephen. Although trading the hustle and bustle of a city, it was worth it for the cleaner air and laid-back lifestyle adopted by the locals. Over the years she has worked hard to integrate herself into the community and become a prominent independent local business owner.

Planning the next adventures

On the wishlist? Chefchaouen, Morocco.

Although lucky enough to live in such an idyllic setting, we all dream of getting away. Recently, one salve for being rubbed raw by lockdown is to plan some future excursions, ready for when free travel is again permitted. Olivia has her sights set on Morocco, after hearing many positive things. The vibrant colours and textures, beautiful architecture and delicious food are all attractive reasons to visit. It would also be the first time she has made a trip to the continent of Africa, ticking another off the travel bucket list, leaving only South America to finish the set. (We’re not counting Antarctica)

Also in the works, a close friend is planning on getting married in St Lucia, so preparation for that is currently under way, especially since being asked to be a bridesmaid! Obviously, there are some difficulties in travel planning at the moment, but there is plenty of time until the big day. As well as St Lucia, Olivia would love to visit other islands in the Caribbean.

Remembering the best holidays

Olivia first caught the travel bug when she passed her driving test. Having that freedom and independence began to expand Olivia’s view on her surroundings and the world. She took driving trips across Europe, driving through France, Italy and Germany, experiencing varied cultures and cuisines.

One of Olivia’s more obscure trips abroad was to Iceland in 2019, to experience the Northern Lights with her fiancé Ste, to celebrate a milestone birthday. They had an amazing time, were able to see the Aurora Borealis phenomenon, though just FYI the beer is very expensive, bear that in mind when budgeting for your trip. Grocery prices in Iceland are around 35% higher than in the UK.  

This time last year Olivia and Ste were in Menorca and are sorely missing it. Family vacations have ticked a few other destinations off the travel wish list. More trips to Europe, staying each year at a family villa in Spain and holidaying in Portugal, but also further trips afield to North America, visiting Florida and New York with a friend, Olivia is a veritable globetrotter.

New York City is an astonishing place, the scale is overwhelming, and all the stereotypes are true! Rats in the subway, steam billowing from manhole covers in the streets, food portions are huge and the people are so eclectic. Even if you’re not a city person, NYC is still a great place to visit. Most trips are short, so make the most of your time to squeeze in as many of the sights as you can. One recommendation would be; if you visit both the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Centre, they are fairly close to each other and therefore have similar views from the top, so try to visit at different times of the day, if possible one at night, so you get a completely different perspective on the city.

Experiences of a lifetime in Asia

In India with no regrets

Whilst completing her PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) teaching training Manchester Met University, Olivia spotted an opportunity to teach internationally that summer and jumped at the chance. Travelling is so important to her, that she actually missed her graduation day for the PGCE by making that trip.

Along with a course mate and a close friend, she spent a total of around three months in India over the summer. Firstly, they toured southern India with a guide. Olivia’s favourite place on that tour was Alleppey (now known as Alappuzha) in the Southern Indian State of Kerala. A hub of backwaters and known for accommodating more than a thousand houseboats, it is dubbed the ‘Venice of the East’.

With a class, and also featuring our friend Sarah from @clayonwords

After their southern India tour, they travelled north and taught in various places in the lower Himalayas. The children they taught were orphans, and part of the experience was to stay with locals in home stays, sometimes staying with up to 10 orphan children and a ‘House Mother’. It was an incredibly enriching and humbling experience and India will always be one of the most amazing places Olivia has ever been.

A couple of years later, in 2015, Olivia was feeling restless and ready for a new adventure. That summer she applied to work in an elephant sanctuary in Surin, Thailand, staying for almost two months. During the week they cared for the animals, cleaning and feeding, planting crops and preparing meals. At the weekends they were given free time to travel and explore the region. Elephants are Olivia’s favourite animal and this was a wonderful way to encounter them in their natural habitat, but a job is a job and this one was quite physically taxing. So after about 6 weeks, she travelled alone to Bali for some recuperation.

Bali was beautiful. The beaches are magnificent, Olivia was able to take part in a cooking course and learnt how to prepare authentic Balinese dishes. This also may be where Olivia began her obsession with a good massage, as they were very reasonably priced and much needed.

“Travel is good for the soul.” And it’s true. Seeing new places, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures all help to broaden your mind and widen perspectives. It can revive your passions, inspire your creativity and increase your knowledge. We can’t travel yet, and we shouldn’t, but we can start thinking about when a time in the future when it will be safe to do so. Life is short and the world is big, after being trapped for weeks within the same walls we need to treat ourselves to somewhere new.

There are plenty of great places here in the UK we can visit too, one of them being the Lake District. And if you do, be sure to swing by, pop in and say hi!

Stay safe and Shop Local where you can.

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Written by Siobhan Green.