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OUT OF THE SHOWROOM AND INTO THE AMBULANCE

It was 2010. April 2010.

Today was the day I was going to pick up my new car. This wasn’t any old car. This was a new Mini Cooper. I’d was just about to fork out £12,000 on this shiny sexy number. Having £12,000 aged 18 is a whole other story, but we’ll leave that one for next time. That really is one you’ll want to read. Believe me.

So the day arrives. I wake up at the crack of dawn on my weekend off with a smile plastered over my face. I’d just been in a whirlwind few months sacking off college and being deeply unmotivated with life and I’d passed my driving test a few months earlier after 5 FAILED ATTEMPTS. I REPEAT 5 FAILED ATTEMPTS.

I’d spotted Maisy the Mini on the Mini Cooper website and oh my she looked so very beautiful. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to be able to drive this car right out the very showroom and she would be called my own. I was actually very confused. I didn’t really know why I chose this car. I knew it was a too higher litre for me and cost a fortune in petrol. Not to mention, THE INSURANCE. Oh my sweet baby Jesus, mother of mary, this car was costing £4,000 per year to insure. WAS I COMPLETELY INSANE?

Answer: Yes. Yes I was. I think life caught me up in a hot air balloon and wouldn’t let me down. I don’t think I was let down until I’d learnt all my lessons. Very, very harsh lessons and my balloon was burst and down, down, down I fell. To the very bottom.

Here I am, 18 years old skipping into Mini Cooper and singing the documents with my immature signature. I handed over my card and made the payment. She passed me the keys. I walked over to my new vehicle and smelt the leather. She was stunning. I was caught up in my balloon desperate to show off my new toy. I wasn’t even thinking. I couldn’t think straight. I look back and wonder why no one helped me. I was an entire mess. Actually, this is yet again a whole other story which you really will want to read. I’ll give you that soon.

I was terrified. I had no idea how to handle this car and had virtually no experience driving minus my failed attempts at life (sorry, I mean driving tests). My Dad jumped in next to me. I knew he was terrified. Like any Dad, he wanted me to have a cheap, clapped out old banger to drive around in, in case anything happened (famous last words). But I also knew deep down that he was slightly impressed with this flashy pimped out vehicle.

I was off. I took to the road. It went a lot faster than any other car I had driven before and I hit the road revving and unable to maintain much control. My nerves had got the better of me this time. After half hour tuition I hit the road again and felt much more confident. I put in my freshly burned CD and wound down the windows. It was a super hot day and my Dad was impressed on how well I was doing. A smile grew across my face and my red hair blew in the wind. For the next hour I felt so so happy. Chasing that temporary happiness always was my forte.

I arrived back to my house. The sun gleamed off the freshly waxed car. I jumped out banged on the front door, desperate to show the rest of my family. I couldn’t leave my new baby alone; I just wanted to keep on driving. The day was getting hotter and hotter by the minute. I opened the double sunroof and called my best friend, telling her the news. I was off to go pick her up and seize the day.

I tooted my horn. I could not have been more excited. These rough few months felt temporarily paused and I was living again. As stupid as it may sound, my freedom and independence meant so much to me, I knew I could never look back.

We were off. I hit the road, unaware where I was heading. I just kept on driving. I didn’t know these roads, especially not the bloody M25 and I was feeling brave, like nothing could stop me. I was driving so far that we ended up pulling into a random ASDA car park to stop for a break and work out exactly where we were.

I knew I didn’t really feel in control of that car. I knew it.

We discovered we were over near Orpington away. It was a fair drive from home but neither of us had any plans. I pulled off down the road. We hit traffic. I turned up the music. Blu Cantrell, Breathe was playing, one of old favourites. I turned to laugh and chat with my best friend. My moved forward at about 20 miles an hour and gazed ahead of me.

Then out of nowhere, a huge almighty BANG startled me. Before I knew it there was a cloud of smoke and the car was out of control. I grabbed so tightly to the wheel, screaming. I locked eyes with my friend sensing the look of fear and terror in her eyes. We both remained intensely looking at each other desperate for some comfort. I knew the car was being thrown over the other side of the road. I knew it was heading towards a fence. I just screamed and pain and shock just fell over me. I jolted forward at serious speed and the airbags burst out attacking me hard in the face. My seatbelt locked hard on my right arm and the window shattered.
We had stopped. I looked up to see if my friend was alright. The first thing that came into my head was the overcoming sense of guilt and panic that I just caused this to my friend. I was terrified she was hurt. I couldn’t even care less what had happened to me.

I immediately started shouting “my arm, my arm” before realising that the car was smoking. All I could think of was the entire car going up in flames, like you see on the movies. That would be a little dramatic I thought. My door was bent in towards me and I couldn’t open it. I was screaming to get out of the car. I threw myself across the front seat to the passenger seat and we were out. I find myself on the other side of the road to where I had been before, with the traffic all stopped and staring. One woman ran over and turned off my music. It was apparently very loud still and playing even though the car was in literal tatters.

The next hour was a complete blur. I went into shock, which I later discovered was very serious and started to pace up and down the road. I was running and crying and my heart pounded on my chest. I was cradling my right arm like a baby. The next thing I remember was sitting on the grass bank outside someone’s house with a man asking me multiple questions. He told me he was a paramedic and I had to listen to him otherwise I could be in serious danger.

I have never really understood what really happened during that shock period, but I tell you what, I never, ever want to feel like that again. So out of control and out an out of body experience.
I started uncontrollably crying, and within an hour I was screaming down the phone at my Dad and the insurance company. I literally had no idea what to do. This was my first car, my first day driving a car by myself and my first insurance contract. It was a whirlwind of panic.

An ambulance arrived. It parked up next to my crumpled Maisy. The paramedics jumped out and pulled me into the van for tests and questions. “Was I drinking?” (No, but i bloody wish i was…) It was all pretty simple. I was lucky to not have been anymore seriously hurt but I had severe whiplash and scarring from the airbags and seatbelt.

My Dad arrived. I saw him pull up and he looked devastated. The look of panic made me uncontrollably cry and scream. I have no idea how or why that crash scared me so much. I like to be in control. It’s something I’ve always had trouble with. If I’m not in control I feel terrified and panicked. I wasn’t in control of that car.
As I arrived home, I fell into a deep, deep depression. My arm was in pieces and didn’t stop crying every day for two weeks straight. Something I have unfortunately experienced many times before. It brought a whole sea of emotions flooding up. I was humiliated that I had crashed my first car, within HOURS of driving it out of the showroom and felt horrendous guilt for putting my friend in danger. I had flashbacks of being out of control and after working so hard to get to this point I had just lost my independence once again within a few short moments.

I never got back Maisy. She was entirely written off. I had hit an island in the middle of the road, popped a tyre and the car had been flung out of control. I could not believe it. It wasn’t just a little damage; I’d managed to write the ENTIRE vehicle off and it had to be scrapped. That gives you a little perspective on exactly how bad it was.

It took me a long time to drive again. I’d lost all my confidence. I’m sure this is something a lot of people can relate to. But now, I turn back and laugh.

And think “Hell yeah, lots more shit to write for my blog.
And one day, my book.”

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When the world really does become your oyster (or maybe even your lobster)

To a non-traveller I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain the passion of travel that gives me nothing but pure therapy. It gives me therapy in the same way putting all this thunderstorm in my head down on paper does to my soul. I mean hey, It’s cheaper than rehab or a one hour slot at your local support centre right?

Well maybe not, but the experiences and people give you nothing but riches. The famous Tumblr quote “Travel makes you richer” although it makes me want to punch a small cat is actually very accurate. Travelling isn’t just about having a year away from your clingy parents on a prolonged gap year, or an escape from a stressful and meaningless life at home. It’s so much more than that, and that’s the part that a non-traveller will just never get their head around.

When I first returned from my first set of travels in December 2011, the first thing my Grandma asked me was “How was your holiday?” I looked at her in disgust. I hadn’t just been on holiday. In fact I’d been working at two volunteer projects, one in Honduras and one in Fiji then travelled parts of Asia before landing myself a job in Italy. Each part had been nothing but tough and much more of a challenge than a lot of people could ever even imagine. I responded to my Grandma with “I went travelling for God sake Grandma, it’s completely different to a holiday.” This confused her even more and before I knew it we were having nothing more than a heated debate between a holiday and a travelling adventure.

I know we have to excuse the bemused elderly more times than we would often care but trying to explain to an 84 year old the prospect of staying in hostels crawling with cockroaches, cooking your own food over gas stoves, travelling by public transport with questionable locals and living on a budget is my idea of heaven.

There really is something about the people you meet travelling. There is no way of describing how interesting the selection of people you meet is. From the 33 year old hippy living in the Hostel smoking up every night, to the couple on the path to exploring Buddhism and to the bloke from London who took all his 3 weeks holiday off work at once. The variety of people is just incredible and the connections you make with people you only met 2 days ago even more incredible. The openness of individuals you meet has such a stark contrast to everyone at home. Why do I want to spend my entire life with people that are so closed and carry round this huge barrier with them? I crave good conversation, not just about travelling, but conversation with MEANING. Conversation which involves not discussing what I’m wearing at the weekend or what colour I’m going to dye my hair next. I have an awful habit of becoming extremely uninterested in people and conversations like this, I just switch off entirely. Famously, travellers all have a mutual respect for one another and this is my favourite aspect. No one is in competition with one another, you’re all there for the same reason and why would anyone want to spoil their own time away? Listening to people’s traveling stories is my favourite activity. It inspires me so.

People tell me about this incredible lost temple, this remote beach, this fantastic project and the culture, smells and vibrancy of a city and it excites me in too many ways. This excites me in perhaps the same way a gadget lover would queue up for the new iphone at ridiculous o’clock or a fashion lover would drool over the new Hermes Bag in Vogue mag.

I can only describe my passion for travel by thinking of it in a way which removes myself from the present. I feel as if though my life can just stop still for a while and I can just appreciate the smaller things in life. I appreciate that I am very fortunate to be able to detach myself so from everyday life, but perhaps I just was never that attached in the first place. To me, there is no better feeling than feeling free, and this is exactly the way in which I feel when I have the opportunity to embrace an entirely different culture to my own. The growing pains of facing everyday Groundhog Day in “reality” is a pull in the wrong direction for me. I want travel to become my reality instead, and I don’t see how it can’t eventually.

I’ve often been described as “intense” and “deep”. I take this as nothing but a compliment. Travelling has changed my life entirely and I will continue to grasp as many new adventures and wild experiences by the bucket load until I reach the end of my days. I may “over-think” everything but honestly what is life if you don’t overthink it? Life is anything but simple. It’s a complex web of years that require choices and fulfilment and so so so much adventure. Sure, travelling requires confidence, but what doesn’t these days? Going for that first grad job or first date can be more daunting than anything, but what the hell is life without a bit of fear and a little challenge?

I tell my Dad how happy I am. His response is this “Well I think everyone is happy while their on holiday, Flo”.
JUST NO.
The constant battle of being misunderstood. I mean what the hell I thought this only happened during your teenage years? Am I subject to this for the rest of my life?

I don’t believe in comfort zones. What I do believe is that comfort zones provide nothing but a false sense of security and an excuse for individuals to stick to with what they know. Escaping from your comfort zone is genuinely liberating, once you do it once you’ll do it again. Finding a passion that is against the so called “norm” makes you an interesting individual.

“The traveling bug” is one of my pet hates. I often associate this with gap year travellers, those who join tour groups and set off on a 6 month slot of nothing but partying and being promiscuous and return with the notion that they want to do it all again, but just end up going to Ibiza the following year, and well, just doing exactly the same thing all over again.

I suppose though, maybe I did catch the so called “Travelling Bug”. I caught and held on tightly to the sense of adventure and accomplishment traveling brought me and genuinely never wanted to let go. I’m sure there would be many people reading this that assume I’m a pompous rich bastard who can quite freely gallivant around the world but let me assure you this: I am not. But maybe I will be one day… Once I’ve made my millions out of being a writer and the world really does become my oyster (or perhaps even my lobster) I guarantee I will be gallivanting as much as I please.

I like that word. Gallivanting.

DAVID BECKHAM LIKES WHOLEMEAL BREAD

In May Last year I accidentally/randomly/incredibly met David Beckham.

I offered David Beckham a piece of bread.

BREAD.

WTF? I’m more confused than anyone, believe me. So in May 2013, I was lucky enough to work on the UEFA dinner at Old Billingsgate market. This was an introduction to my events career and was hired for set-up as an events assistant. I also knew I was on hand to help the waiters if need be throughout the dinner and had to dress up (like a moron) for the whole duration.

So there I am, doing set-up blah blah all standard stuff, laying tables etc.. I hadn’t even given it a second thought to who would be attending such a UEFA event. I’m polishing silver on the head table and look down to the place names being set out and see the name DAVID BECKHAM.

OH SWEET JESUS. DAVID. BECKHAM. HERE. IN FRONT OF ME. WHAT THE HELL.

I commence my silver polishing to take extra care in making Beckham’s spoons sparkle. About an hour later I head backstage to lay out goody bags and other random jobs then suddenly I am called to help out, all hands on deck and that. One of the managers throws me a bow tie, A FUCKING BOW TIE to wear and I hang my head in shame. Is this the sort of shit that waitresses have to wear these days? So I look down and I am wearing a men’s shirt, a bow tie, straight legged trousers and shiny shoes even my Grandmother would be embarrassed about. How can I meet this delicious man looking like Bruce Forsyth for god sake?

I am chucked a bread basket and pushed out into the dining area. I’m asked to follow a chain of others out to the head table. OMG THE HEAD TABLE. I knew what was coming next. I try and peek past and I spy Beckham in deep conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson. Everything I was told in the briefing about “acting normally” went straight out the window. I’m sorry but how is one supposed to act normally in front of possibly one of the most famous people that has ever lived? I approached the table and stared hard at Beckham, (sometimes I wonder really if I am a secret psychopath) and he stared straight back. Before I knew it I was having a full on staring competition with Beckham. REALLY FLO, REALLY?! Could you be anymore weird sometimes? He broke into a friendly (awkward) smile, clearly used to crazed/mental/deranged girls like myself.

Next thing I knew I was standing behind Beckham holding a fucking bread basket. He smelt divine and I was so close I could see the tattoos so closely on his neck. So this was it, I held the bread basket to Beckham and said hello. He turned round and asked me what types of bread were in the basket and I replied with 100% made-up answers (some bullshit about soda bread and olives) and he knew it. He reached into the basket and chose two slices of wholemeal seeded. He said thank you very much, smiled again and I died a thousand times.

SO THAT WAS THE TIME I GAVE DAVID BECKHAM A PIECE OF BREAD.

Oh, the event was also hijacked by Palestinian protesters that stood on top of the head table and shouted at Ferguson waving a flag and had to be arrested… but that is nowhere near as exciting as the fact that David Beckham likes wholemeal bread.

The First Post: Pointless blogging intentions that I probably won’t go through with

“You should write a book Flo”

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a book, but  i’m hoping one day I’ll be sat at the front of Selfridges with roaring crowds signing you a copy of my bestseller, but for now this blog will have to do. Perhaps I can use this blog to test out my blunt, dry and sarcastic written ways that I usually get a mixed response from…

I’m Twenty-One and have lead a somewhat turbulent and chaotic life so far so i’m planning on blogging about it simply before I go mad and forget it all.
PIES LIES AND THIGHS?! I hear you ask. I owe credit to this name to my fabulous business partner after a hard day’s work of doing nothing this suggestion made my eyes light up. It really does sum up my life. WHY? Soon you will find out.

I’m going to try and stay well clear from the deep conversations about life that I often have after polishing off a bottle of Captain Morgan’s on a Saturday night but please profusely accept my apologies if  I do veer off on that tangent (or perhaps I am blogging drunk), and continue to have faith in my blog in progress…

Let me channel this sort of energy into my blogging and see what happens...

Let me channel this sort of energy into my blogging and see what happens…