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Finding hope in uncertain times

Finding hope in uncertain times

I’ve been living in fear and anger lately, without much hope in uncertain times. We’ve had to leave our home in the UK, only to be treated like we don’t belong ‘back home’ in Australia. We couldn’t say goodbye to any of our friends or even to our life of the past six years – just had to jump on a plane and hope for the best. It’s been very sh!t.

COVID-19 has impacted a lot of people in many terrible ways. Some people don’t understand, they remain lucky and unscathed; the most they have to complain about is that the gym is closed. Others find themselves in situations where they can’t see sick or dying family in hospital or at home. Cooper and I had our lives torn away from us, and I haven’t seen light or hope, if I’m honest. Grief.

Finding hope in uncertain times

I know I don’t want to live like this. So, as we sit in mandatory 14 day isolation in a hotel in Australia, I’m finally getting to a point where I feel like I want to make the best of it. Acceptance.

This has been many weeks coming though. If you’ve followed the stories on this blog, you’ll know we’re now in our fifth week of isolation.

We got caught in Italy when lock-down was announced on 10 March.

Then we witnessed the health crisis unfold in the UK, although we were watching from a distance in our beautiful little corner of Bedfordshire with our friends Andy and Helen who we met through house sitting adventures.

 

Hope and acceptance amidst impossible decisions

We found ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. If we stayed in the UK, we did have accommodation and I had employment. But, Australia is harder and harder to access now (closed borders, very few international flights in), family is here and we seem less affected by Coronavirus (so far). Is it a better bet? After what we’ve witnessed, we worry that many here are too complacent – that Coronavirus will explode after Easter. I hope that prediction is wrong.

A friend recently gave me some advice about dealing with impossible decisions. She said, “sometimes you just have to make the choice, commit to it and make it work“.

Now that we’re here, we’ll make the best of it, even if ‘it’ means taking things month at a time.

There’s also a school of thought that my friend Leanne (publisher of Get it Magazine) and I have been focusing on. Time is something we have gained through Coronavirus isolation. Read our April Get it e-news for our tips on the ways you can use your time to improve your business and your life 😄

We have to hold onto this 👇

“Now more than ever, hope can actually become our power source.” -Deepak Chopra

 

Finding hope in uncertain (and isolated) times: our fave tools

No matter what’s going on in your life, in the end, hope comes from within. And it’s something we have to practice accessing – we can’t take it for granted. (just like you shouldn’t take your time, fresh air, fresh food, nice bed, and HEALTH for granted – think about that today 🙏).

So, from within the confines of our forced lock-down in Australia, here’s what we’re leaning on:

Hope in Uncertain Times, 21 day meditation experience (FREE on the app at time of publishing)

Gratitude practices

– Yoga – we love Adriene and Benji on YouTube

Home fitness classes including Barre, Pilates and Boxing on Popsugar Fitness TV

– Positive social media, like content coming from pages like this one from our friend Madonna Williams of Zen Soul Life

– Gabby Bernstein’s ‘Miracles Now’ card deck

Finding hope in uncertain times - Gabby Bernstein Miracles Now cards are helping our sanity

Find out more about what we are and importantly, are NOT doing, in this post about managing Coronavirus anxiety.

 

Helpful advice

Throughout this disaster that we know will end, although no end is in sight, I know more than just Cooper and I have retreated ‘home’. A wise friend and lifestyle coach Linda Stewart-Brown, reminded me that going back to your roots isn’t a bad thing, and to not feel like I’m peddling backwards. She says:

There are some things that need clearing up and finalising, in one way or another. Doing this, one step back, as you might see it, also means the next step is definitely forward! A strategic retreat and then transformation and clarification to be able to move ahead more quickly and with greater success. It is difficult to see right now, however, in 18 months, or less, this will all be 20/20 hindsight for which you will be very grateful.

 

I learnt a little something in this mental health and life coaching training too, that talks about a nice evening ritual. The course mentors encourage us to visualise our future at night. If you’ve got a partner, talk about it before bed. No worries if you’re on your own – pull out your journal and write as if you’re in that future moment.

Feel the health, travel, fun, freedom and abundance that’s on the way.

 

We hope you’re doing ok in these uncertain times. Let us know in the comments about your experiences, or find us on social media to say hi. We’re in isolation, after all – happy for your company 😉

And if you have any helpful ideas or resources to share, do feel free to link them below.

Inside our Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine

Inside our Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine

So now we’re caught inside the Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine. Just brilliant 🤨

We were told we’d be better off coming ‘back home’, away from the UK where we’ve been residents for the past six years. They say the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not yet reached its peak there. So of course we’re better off in Australia, right?

Australia, ‘the land of the free’.

We aren’t so sure.

Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine

A few days before we were set to fly, the Australian government announced what they claim is ‘necessary’ to stop the spread of Coronavirus here. Every international arrival is sent into forced quarantine – somewhere, like maybe a hotel, motel, student accommodation or caravan.

We’ve found it interesting that family and friends think this is fine. No questions asked.

“It’ll probably be a hotel”.

“You’ll be right – it’s meant to be 5-star.”

“I assume you’ll have internet.” [for not just fun, but we work for ourselves!]

Interesting, that so many have an attitude about it being ‘fine’ – as long as we’re back on ‘Aussie soil’.

If only we could touch that soil. If only we could get some fresh air during this Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine. And what is in the food that I’m eating, since I do have allergies?

 

Inside our Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine - is Australia violating human rights by treating recent arrivals worse than prisoners? Our story...

An unacceptable lack of information

This policy rolled-out all too quickly, allegedly because “80% of the Coronavirus cases in Australia have come from abroad”.

Funny, we now know six people in Brisbane who believe they have had Coronavirus (experiencing everything from very mild to very bad symptoms). None of them were tested. One of them had been overseas. Some went to work and grocery shopping across the space of a couple of weeks.

Many countries have already enforced strict ‘stay at home’ policies. That’s absolutely not the case yet in Australia. The response to target incoming travellers would be reasonable, if everyone was treated the same here. It’s not happening – and we know how this works. It’s our third Coronavirus quarantine in five weeks. Aussies have no idea what lock down really means, and consistently disregard the rules.

The government’s response here, typically, is to target anyone stepping off a boat or a plane. Keeping in mind these are all residents – with ‘rights’ – because no one else has been able to enter the country for weeks.

The policy announcements came with zero information on what incoming travellers should expect. On the plane there was no information on what to expect. Brisbane airport was FULL of federal police and the army, to ‘welcome’ a flight of just a few hundred who had boarded internationally. Everyone was silent. We filled in several forms and finally Cooper and I had confirmation that we wouldn’t be separated.

Then we were told to wait:

“…the police will pick you up soon”.

It was about two hours after all passengers had cleared immigration that we were all herded onto a bus. Still no confirmation on what was going on. Everyone diligently packed their suitcases under the bus, boarded, and finally our coach full of masked avengers left… to go somewhere.

Guessing games

After a 25 hour commute of two flights, and a three hour wait at the airport for everyone to be processed, Cooper and I were on the road again. We spotted the exit signs and figured we were headed to the Gold Coast, just over an hour from Brisbane.

Half way down the highway, one poor young woman begged the bus driver to pull over – she was desperate for the loo.

“We weren’t told anything at the airport, I assumed we were staying in Brisbane. I wouldn’t be asking if I wasn’t desperate – I can’t wait another half hour,” she pleaded.

So, our coach driver flashed his lights in the dark at our police escort in front (I know, really?!), and we were all happy to see that this poor chick wasn’t going to pee herself in the bus!

But that’s how little information we’ve been given. We’ve not even officially been told when check-out is.

Yet, most people we know think this is fine.

If it was your partner or your child in this situation, wouldn’t you want to know what the plan was for them?

Forgive me for being anxious and really pissed off about the whole thing.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of traffic on the road between the Gold Coast and Brisbane on this random Wednesday evening. Who exactly is prioritising staying at home then?

Basic human rights and the Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine

We ended up at the Voco Hotel on the Gold Coast. It’s nice enough and staff are doing their best. The windows don’t open though. And we’re confined in one room for the next 14 days. A legion of police and army were here to escort us to our rooms and ensure we didn’t run. For God’s sake – I would understand why someone would want to. And, we’ve heard reports of solo travellers threatening to self harm because of this isolation experiment.

Plenty of people still out and about in the street though, from what we can see out of our window.

Smokers here in quarantine are allowed to go out on an escorted break for ‘fresh air’. How ironic.

Good time to take up smoking, I’d say.

We’ve read this evening that some people in Sydney even had their room keys taken away from them. What the actual f!ck?

For those of you who say or Tweet, ‘”Oh wow, quit moaning, you get a free two week holiday”, find some empathy. And quit ignorant trolling!

Even if you’re self isolating – as we have been in England following getting caught in Italy’s lock down – we bet you’re in a place with more than one room. You’ve probably got a garden you can go out to, yes? Or a door or window to open for fresh air, right? You can go for a walk and choose the food you want – or need – for your own wellbeing.

Do you suffer asthma from air-conditioning like I do? We’ll be requesting time outside. Let’s see what they say.

Go shut yourself in your bedroom for 14 days, lock the windows and then tell me how reasonable this is. Tell me that’s good for your mental health and physical wellbeing, or that of your kids?

Since when did we become prisoners?

We’re not the only ones picking up on the problem with this rushed-through government policy.

People in forced quarantine around Australia have made the same comments as us: prisoners are allowed exercise and fresh air, why aren’t we?

Most of us aren’t even sick, and don’t have Coronavirus, let alone have criminal convictions.

This BBC video shows another recent arrival to Australia – she highlights really well that a ‘five star’ room isn’t any bigger than your bedroom, and since when should we have our basic rights like moving around (responsibly), fresh air and fresh food taken away in 2020?

What we’d say from this experience is please be careful what you’re consuming from the television and governments. 

THINK about how others are impacted before saying, “you’ll be right”, or posting how great you think a free holiday would be, or how much you love working from home (when you’re not really working from home). Someone you know is having a tough time because of this world crises.

Live from Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine

We’ll do our best, and we’re refocusing every day, using tools like yoga, gratitude and keeping in touch with family and friends. We know this is far from the worst situation anyone could find themselves in, but at this difficult time, we expected more consideration from those in charge.

If you’re struggling with Coronavirus anxiety, especially if you’re travelling or a digital nomad, our key tips on dealing with all of it are here.

We genuinely hope Australia – and the world – can get on top of this quickly, so we can all get on with our lives. But this Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine policy for residents entering the country feels very narrow minded, and like something that serves as more of a ‘popular vote’ for the prime minister, than anything that takes proper care of Australian citizens. All of them. Would it not have been cheaper simply to test us for the disease?

 

Latest update

The Australian Red Cross is now involved in liaising with state health bodies, like Queensland Health, to lobby for better conditions for thousands of returning travellers like us. A representative made contact with us yesterday (8 April) on rounds calling all people in hotels on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane. They confirmed that there is a serious issue with people not being allowed fresh air, exercise and fresh food. In some cases, the government has been required to make changes at hotels because the food being provided was of ‘unacceptable quality’. Maybe people coming ‘home’ from now on will be housed in accommodation where windows at least open – that would be a good start, and it’s reasonable to expect in Australia.

 

Always happy to hear your stories or perspective though – drop us a line in the comments. And please – wherever you are – stay inside and stop the spread!

 

👉Subscribe on Youtube and Facebook … you don’t want to miss us going live from our ‘free holiday’ 😆

Expat blogger changing tack

Expat blogger changing tack

It’s with a heavy heart that this proud expat blogger writes one of her last posts from our adopted home of England. London has been such a wonderful adventure. It’s not been without ups and downs, laughter, tears and lessons.

But, we’ve lived our motto here: life is about experiences.

Expat blogger – future uncertainty

I had wanted so very much to settle in England. We’ve produced plenty of blogs for expats and travellers here on Travel Live Learn. And as a reader on this site – to you I say thank you 🙏 I am grateful.

As an ‘expert’ expat blogger, I started out getting together guides on living and working in London. Cooper developed our videos too, that showcase fun, travel and tips. We’ve been lucky to be recognised for content on this site with a couple of awards, and have covered wonderful destinations while living over here.

As I look over it all now, I have to admit to fighting back tears. It’s hard to let go of one life and go back to another – or start yet again. That’s risk we take though, forging a space for ourselves in a new country. You either get to stay or one day must leave. But we must not forget: life is about experiences.

Difficult decisions for expats all over the world

We’re at the end of March 2020 and as I type, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing the face of the planet. It was completely unexpected, and it certainly is not discriminating in who is impacted. The world has been dealing with this public health crisis since January, although then most people outside of China where the disease originated, never predicted the impact that’s unfolding.

I type this while on ‘self-isolation’ in the English countryside. We were lucky to get out of Italy when things shifted from ‘manageable’ to ‘catastrophic’ overnight on 10 March. Cooper and I found it very difficult to get a flight out to leave.

Just as we made it back to England though, lock-downs and strict measures were imposed. With the threat of airline closures and restricted international flights, it feels like we’re heading back to the days where travel was far less accessible and much more expensive. The UK has already seen one major airline go into receivership over the past week. Which other airlines will follow?

As we come to the end of our work sabbatical which was covered in major media, I fear our story about inspired action is turning into one of retreat, back to ‘our’ official corner of the world. We are set to renew visas for the UK in July, but with so much uncertainty around the future, I am sad to say it seems like that that dream will no longer become a reality. As these shocking events continue to sweep the globe, I doubt very much we are the only travellers, digital nomads and expats forced to reconsider our paths. Borders are closing. People are worried. The tourism industry and way we travel will look different on the other side.

Expat blogger changing tack - leaving England our home - how does it feel to leave somewhere you love behind

How it feels to leave ‘home’

As I type this I remember the little things about life in the UK. Old church bells chiming. Work bus commutes when I’d to listen to new music that would become the soundtrack to special moments. My favourite walk around London Fields where I’d feel so happy sometimes I’d almost burst. Dog spotting on the tube; identifying wonderful old buildings amongst innovative new ones. Swifty at Wembley! Swifty at BST Hyde Park, for that matter 💕

I remember ‘stairwell lunches’ with my friends when we’d laugh so much and be told off for being too jovial; and impromptu after-work pub runs that would last ’til 11:30pm mid-week, with the sun just down not long before that. Just ‘popping over’ to France, or Spain, or Italy on the train or plane. Pride, festivals, fairy lights and Christmas markets, dining in igloos by the Thames, fireworks night, bank holidays spent in the park and at the loveliest markets in the world.

Only in London.

There were moments I helped people get through tough times. They became my good friends. And other times when people here would show up for me, just as I needed them. I call them too, my best friends. Sunny park days in summer – oh the joy of sunshine 😀! And snow days of course – always gleeful for an Aussie in London. We made a mark, got a special invite to Buckingham Palace, covered royal weddings, and mostly just enjoyed life in the big, mad, historical, beautiful, wonderful city that London is. I’m sad [understatement] to leave. This has been our home. It is a home of ours.

But after six years, and because of this pandemic and situation, the best version of a ‘goodbye’ we could do with all our friends – our UK family – was on WhatsApp.

What to do when the world is ending

Maybe a bit dramatic, but you’d agree if you saw Heathrow as we did today – like an eerie mall, all closed down, lifeless – another planet. As an expat blogger who now needs to find a new niche and start another life, you get where I’m coming from, I hope. Everyone has been impacted by this, and will be for months, if not years to come.

But we’ve been hit hard.

Our life as we embraced it was ripped away today.

We’re working on new projects already though, like this venture into wellness travel (podcast launching soon); but when can those who value travel, safely and freely travel again?

We left here once before and I consoled myself with the idea of bringing adventure back home. I’d spoken to another expat friend too and discovered there is a mourning process around leaving somewhere you love, somewhere you’ve invested heart and soul into. Having two homes – I’ve always maintained – is a blessing and a curse.

Is Coronavirus impacting your plans as a digital nomad, expat or traveller - read about how we're approaching it

Coming to terms with change

This time when we leave the UK, I don’t know, maybe it’s for good? That’s not how we feel right now though. This is a ‘trial’ separation 😉

Are we really better off ‘at home’ in Australia? The government certainly isn’t treating us as equals.

We know we’re lucky to have options, and family and friends who are happy to see us (and we to see them). But, I’m only at a ‘2’ on the change curve, which you can probably guess from the tone of this post – in a state of disruption I’m feeling anger and fear.

We’ve had a hell of a ride the past few weeks, and use every moment as an opportunity to try and choose our thoughts again.

👉We’ll continue to seek hope in uncertain times 💕

 

It all goes too quickly, is the old lesson. Wasn’t it just yesterday we arrived back mid-2014, to pick up where we left off in 2011? Isn’t it all so delicate, just hanging by a thin thread that can break at any time. Like now.

If you’re impacted by the fallout of borders closing or difficult circumstances brought about by being based in another country, being a digital nomad, or the change that’s been thrust upon you now, let us know about your experience in the comments. We’d also love for you to join us in our Facebook group – come say hi today!

 

From London to the beach at Whitstable

From London to the beach at Whitstable

If the sun comes out we want for nothing more than to head to the seaside, and the beach at Whitstable is absolutely accessible by train from London to Whitstable for a day trip or weekend.

Whitstable is a quaint seaside destination in Kent. The train London to Whitstable is just over an hour’s ride from St Pancras (at Kings Cross).

Escape to the beach at Whitstable

A Whitstable day trip on the train from London means you can enjoy quirky shopping, seafood aplenty, oysters, oysters, oysters… and best of all, there are dogs everywhere!

Kent is a beautiful and accessible destination from London.

We love it because it’s easy to get to the beach in around an hour; the scenery, energy and vibe of similar beach-side destinations like Broadstairs and Botany Bay means that just one day away from the big city energises you! Well worth the time.

For those seeking swimming opportunities, do your research – the beach at Whitstable is great for paddling and water sports, as well as people watching and lounging about.

It’s not the sandiest of beaches, from what we saw, but it has the best of any seaside experience.

Beat the crowds on your Kent beach day trip

Our major travel tip is be to go early, because if you strike a lovely day, by around midday this little town (and others like it) is packed.

Whitstable is famous for its an annual mid-year Oyster festival.

To give you some idea of how popular this is, the town’s is population is around 32,000 and during this festival attracts an additional 40,000!

Take a look around at our Whitstable beach and seaside escape.

Hopefully you’ll be inspired to book your train from London to Whitstable next time the sun is out.

 

Got questions about travel in and around London? Or your own travel tips? Let us know in the comments… 

 

Anzac Day in London

Anzac Day in London

 

Back at home in Australia sometimes you’ll find us engaged in banter at the pub with our neighbours from New Zealand. We’ll give each other a little good-humoured grief about our accents and get into heated debates about who boasts the best cities.

We can make fun of each other at home, you know? But overseas when we run into an Antipodean on our travels we more often than not stick together.

It’s a little like how in your family you can make fun (within reason, obviously) of siblings or cousins, but if someone else tries to, we’ll automatically defend the other.

A lot of this mateship goes back to war times, and on 25 April each year our nations commemorate Anzac Day to observe when our troupes landed at Gallipoli in 1915.

Today Anzac Day still stands as one of our nations’ most important occasions and is marked by a public holiday each year, as well as moving dawn services and daytime military marches.

Incidentally, it’s also my birthday.

Indeed, many of us make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli in Turkey for special dawn ceremonies.

And, there are always services in London including a dawn service at the Australian War Memorial, Hyde Park Corner which is – you might be surprised to know – usually overflowing with attendees.

If you have spent any time travelling or living abroad, you’ll appreciate that the sense of patriotism is often stronger when you’re away from home.

Add that to an emotional national day and you’ll usually find a hive of expats huddling together flying their flag.

On Anzac Day, Aussies and Kiwis unite, and being this far away – just as our men were 102 years ago – it’s a poignant moment to be part of.

It’s for this reason that I jumped on an opportunity that a colleague at work – a lovely lady from New Zealand – told me about.

Each year our High Commission offers passes to special ceremonies, and those with an Australian or New Zealand passport can apply.

You can try this link from the beginning of each year (or if it’s not working, Google ‘Anzac Day London High Commission’).

You must apply for passes to attend this special service, held at the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall, and followed by a church service at Westminster Abbey up the road.

Here’s a sample of what we experienced:

The day was moving and memorable. Highly recommended – add the task to your diary from February next year. We’ll definitely do this again.