Taxi Ride Home

My taxi driver had just told he he’d been living in Wales for six years and, with laughter in his eyes, was trying to get me to guess where he was from originally. I couldn’t. I’m awful with accents and knew I’d get it wrong.:)

He was from Ethiopia.

I asked as many questions as I could and listened as he¬†explained how each country in Africa has its own personality. Ethiopia is Africa’s “lion.” He could tell where any African was from by¬†their accent and, sometimes, just by¬†their way of being. He loved his home but he had to leave else “they’d” have killed him.

The sun was shining and, as we drove¬†past my old secondary school, he paused before he said,¬†“They treat human life like grass they’re cutting on the lawn.”

That was yesterday morning and hasn’t left my mind yet.

I looked up recent news for Ethiopia when I got home and found that around 125 children were snatched by an armed South Sudanese group last month. Some have been freed while the majority are still being held captive.

It can be shamefully easy for those of us raised in the Western World to lose sight and forget how small our day-to-day problems really are. My taxi ride home from the dentist was a humbling reminder.

30 Days of Blogging

I did it! Today is day 30 of my 30 day blogging challenge.

Prior to this month I had only ever published six posts to my blog over the span of a year.

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. I’m active on all of them. I love having spaces¬†on the web to stay connected with people and share my thoughts.¬†Yet, my blog went neglected despite the fact that I work for¬†WordPress.com as part of my role at Automattic.

I had a perception in the back of my mind that blogging is a hobby that takes up a distinct amount of time whereas social media is simply a built in part of modern day life.

It’s true, to a certain extent, that an average post¬†on¬†WordPress.com takes some more time and thought than an average Tweet. But, deep down, I knew it was not true that blogging has to be separated as a distinct hobby that only a few take up. It’s as much for everyone¬†as the likes of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat, which are all really forms of blogging themselves.

Setting myself a 30 day blogging challenge for the month of April forced me to make the time to blog each day and to get into the flow of actually using WordPress.com more in my day-to-day life.

How does my blog fit in with everything else on the Web? When I went to the Grand Canyon I posted photos to Instagram, Tweeted snippets of tales while on the trip, and kept in touch with my family on Facebook. WordPress.com is where I was able to bring that altogether in one post. My blog is a place to store thoughts and memories that mean something to me.

Some of the¬†posts from the past 30 days read like their rushed and some already make me cringe a little, but they’re representative of me and will only get better the more I try.:) I’m glad I took up the challenge to post every day in April.

Going forward, I will aim for one or two posts a week.

Happiness is a Warm Welsh Cake

Live music was playing out from the bandstand and the sun was shining down on the water over in Cardiff Bay today.

I love travelling but both Barry and Cardiff will always be my absolute favourite places in the world, as strange as that may seem to some.:) They’re both¬†so familiar but still full of magic.

While over Cardiff Bay, we stopped by Fabulous Welsh cakes which is a busy little shop where you can watch Welsh cakes being made afresh. I picked up a white chocolate flavour. Happiness, indeed!

Amnesty International’s Pledge

No one seeking safety should have to risk death just to cross a border. Refugees fled bombs and persecution believing that other countries would respect their human rights, and offer them sanctuary. We cannot prove them wrong.

The refugee crisis devastates me.

I feel hopeless in the lack of difference I can make in¬†the face of inhumane reactions by the EU and others. The best I can find to do for now is to give time to the Ghost Boat project’s call to action, donate clothes,¬†and¬†pledge support for Amnesty International.

Love at First Sight in Seville

You can fall in love at first with places as well as people, right? :) It was love at first sight for me in Seville.

One year ago, we arrived late in the evening, after driving from Barcelona, to find the area surrounding our AirBnB blocked off to cars. Jenny used her impressive skills of persuasion to sort us out with a police escort.

After arriving in true style, we went to rooftop of the block of flats that we were staying in to look down on the reason for the surrounding area being blocked off. Feria de Abril!

It was the last night of the fair and so we had little choice but to take¬†our weary selves to it. I’m glad we did. The atmosphere was incredible¬†and I most definitely need¬†to go back again one April.

 

Justice for the 96

It’s still shocking to see the front page of The Sun from the 19th April, 1989. Four days after the Hillsborough disaster, the newspaper placed the blame for it on¬†Liverpool¬†fans and accused them of stealing from the bodies of victims.

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The loved ones of the victims have fought for 27 years for the truth to be told and justice served. Through their grief and with the odds stacked against them, they never let their voices be silenced.

It’s not a fight that they should ever had on their hands but¬†I’m overjoyed that, today, the inquest ruled that fans did not contribute to the disaster. The¬†96 victims were unlawfully killed.

Thousands of Tweets have been published in support and news of justice is front page on most of tomorrow’s papers.

The Sun? Here’s¬†the stories being covered on their front page tomorrow.

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Marathon Man

I recently watched Marathon Man, a BBC documentary about Eddie Izzard’s journey to run 27 marathons across 27 days in South Africa.

Why 27? One¬†marathon for each¬†year¬†that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. It was in Mandela’s honour that Eddie¬†set up the challenge with Sport Relief.

Catching snippets of the¬†London Marathon over the¬†weekend was a reminder of how great a feat¬†running a single marathon is. I’m in awe that Eddie managed 27 across 27 days in the South African heat! His perseverance and determination¬†are¬†an inspiration.

He even managed to find the time to gift the world nuggets of wisdom like the following between runs:

What do you do in life? What do you create? What do you make? What do you add to the human existence? That’s what matters. It all comes back to Nelson Mandela. Try and put something into the world. Make something positive.

Catching the Beads in NOLA

It took me a while to figure out why there were beads draped¬†over the houses, tree, and fences when first arriving in New Orleans. We’d arrived soon after Mardi Gras, an annual carnival-like celebration that New Orleans has become famous for throughout America.

It took me even longer to figure out the reason why drunken souls were so enthusiastically throwing beads off the balconies along Bourbon Street. After a few hurricanes, I thought it was a quirky¬†tradition of the City and smiled alongside others as we caught the beads that were being thrown down to us. I didn’t find out until I was back in the UK that ladies traditionally flash in exchange.¬†:)

New Orleans was definitely a party¬†City and full of life. I’m told it’s one of the only places in America where you can drink in the street. It’s also known as the home of jazz and I loved the live¬†music that I was able to catch during my stay.

That Other Kind of Risk

This post is inspired by the Daily Post’s Discover Challenge, Risk.

I was happy¬†when I saw the title of this week’s Discover Challenge. Risk. Brilliant! I got this! In my head, I immediately started weighing up posts about the time¬†I went skydiving and solo adventures¬†around the world.

It turns out Michelle was challenging us to take that other kind of risk. The kind that involves being vulnerable and sharing parts of yourself¬†that you’re not comfortable with. The kind of risk that I’m not so good at.

I’m getting better though.

I will take Michelle’s post as a reminder that the bravest¬†risks¬†require¬†an open heart and as inspiration to face vulnerability head on.

We’d all benefit from taking that other kind of risk more often.

Road Trip to the Grand Canyon

My team at Automattic, who just so happen to be named Phoenix, planned a meetup in January of this year to Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix in Phoenix!

It’s always been a dream of mine to see the Grand Canyon and I took the chance to loop in a visit¬†a week before our meetup with two of my team mates, Sarah and Brooke.

Day 1: Hello Phoenix

I travelled from London Heathrow and arrived in Phoenix in the evening. I handle jetlag pretty poorly so was grateful that my fellow road trippers were there to pick me up at the airport and that they had armed themselves with my favourite American sweets, Birthday-flavoured Oreos and Nerds.:)

Day 2: Sedona

After some toast (we were road tripping with the toast ambassador, herself), we set off for Sedona the next morning.

The views from the road were beautiful and lived up to expectations of the Wild, Wild West. The vast desert landscapes were dotted with cacti and backed up with canyons. We spotted the famous red rock canyon walls of Sedona from a few miles off.

The place we¬†stayed was¬†called the Sacred Red Rocks, it¬†markets itself as a “destination for the spiritual pilgrim” and was truly peaceful. Sedona itself has a hippy, new-age feel.¬†I wish my camera was good enough to pick up¬†the stars as I can’t find the words to describe how clear and beautiful they were¬†in the¬†Sedona night sky.

Day 3: Hiking Red Rock Canyon and Flagstaff

Brooke was the experienced one of the group but Sarah and I kept up while hiking the Red Rock Canyon.:)

Although we were road tripping as a group, Sarah was the only one of us who could actually drive. Brooke and I also turned out to be hilariously bad navigators. Sarah troopered through somehow. She had to make her way along windy uphill roads in the snow on the way to the next stop in our trip, Flagstaff, and was amazing.

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Views on from the road on the way to Flagstaff. I had never experienced views quite like this.

Day 4: Grand Canyon or Bust

The big day! We were excited to be setting off to¬†the Grand Canyon’s South Rim on the¬†fourth day of our road trip. Once again, it had been snowing pretty heavily and Sarah made her way along tricky, icy roads.

We were, however, greeted¬†with bad news upon finally making¬†it to the entrance of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The ranger quickly let us know¬†that we wouldn’t be able to see the Canyon that day due to the snow.

This was our only chance! We had to make our way back to Phoenix the next day and we were sad at the thought of coming all this way for nothing.

There were two choices: 1. Head back 2.¬†Stay to view what we could of the park. As we’d come all of this way, we decided to stay.

Despondently, we got the bus around the park and then walked up to¬†the Grand Canyon so that we could at least say we’d been. Guess what!? We could totally see it! In fact, I think the snow made it look even more awe-inspiring.

Day 5: Williams and Out

We woke up from a successful trip in Williams, a town nearby the Grand Canyon, and made our way back to Phoenix to get set for our team meetup.

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The Wild Wild West.

Day 6 and Beyond.

Automattic has over 400 people spread out all over the World and working remotely. It may sound strange but, despite the distance, the teams that work together are very close. We spend all day communicating in text, .gifs, and emoji on our internal P2s and Slack channels.

Meetups are our chance to see each other in person. We work, learn, laugh, and bond. Some highlights from Phoenix in Phoenix for me:¬†S’mores by the fire, Old Town Scotsdale,¬†the drama that was¬†#underweargate, and getting¬†our nails done together.

All in all, I had a lovely two weeks in Arizona and am so happy¬†to be able¬†to cross “Visit Grand Canyon” off my bucket list. I also feel incredibly lucky to have been able to spend the time there¬†with such a wonderful group of people. I’m looking forward to the¬†next all-company meetup in September.