2014 in review – blog stats!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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On believing in love in a world that doesn’t….

I was brought up reading fairytales. As a little girl I was fed a strong intellectual diet of true love, dragon slaying, fairy godmothers and a sprinkling of magic. Little girls are brought up believing in fairytales and believing that love conquers all.

Yet, at some point, once that little girl has grown into an adult, faced with the real world, that belief starts to fade.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s a symptom of the world we live in, that people stop believing in love.

As a 30 year old, single woman, in days gone by I would have been relegated to the shelf and given the ‘spinster’ label. Having done my fair share of dating, been rejected, or done the rejecting, met people who I have fallen in love with, and seen that love come to an end, it’s easy to see how I could become cynical and give up on the idea of ‘love’ altogether.

We are faced with depressing facts about love all the time — rising divorce rates, technology ruining relationships and even clinical heartbreak. It’s hard, desperately hard sometimes, to truly keep believing. Every new person you meet who lights that fire inside of you, and holds your interest, only to then lose them through circumstances, time or simply through their or your own choices…..sometimes you wonder just how much your heart can take.

At what point do people give up? At what point do they decide that’s just enough heartbreak for one lifetime, and close up shop, resigned to the idea of being on their own? “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main,” wrote the poet John Donne in the 17th Century. We’re not meant to be on our own. Connectedness is a part of being human, and the closest and most connected any two people can be is through love.

Yet, I still believe. I completely believe in love. I believe because, without love, what are we even doing here? When our money has gone, when our careers have come to an end, when our material possessions are no longer ours, what remains is what keeps us going. What remains is love.

“You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn’t true. I know a lot about love. I’ve seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate… It made me want to turn away and never look down again. But when I see the way that mankind loves… You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and… What I’m trying to say, Tristan is… I think I love you. Is this love, Tristan? I never imagined I’d know it for myself. My heart… It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it’s trying to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange – no gifts. No goods. No demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.”
Neil Gaiman, Stardust

I believe in love because I’ve seen it. My grandparents on both my mother and my father’s side met, fell in love and celebrated 25, 30, 50-odd years of marriage. They lived, laughed and loved through every crisis and event that life threw at them. And they loved deeply – it was clear to see for anyone who ever met them. I remember my Gran saying, when my Granda died suddenly following a heart attack, that she couldn’t imagine life without him. That he was her soulmate. Every year since he passed away (20 years ago) she has quietly marked another year without him and spoken of looking forward to being reunited with him in heaven. Soulmates.

How can you stop believing in love when that exists in the world?

Travel Tales: Ama La Vida

For the last three weeks, I have had the pleasure of travelling around the beautiful South American country of Ecuador. Ecuador is a diverse little part of the world with so much to offer. From the beautiful, lush green of the Amazon rainforest to the volcanic landscape of the Andes, the dramatic landscape as you travel around is absolutely stunning. I had the pleasure of sharing this journey with a group of 16 people – like-minded and adventurous thankfully – and the help of a fantastic and knowledgeable local guide, Henry. The experiences of the three weeks will be too much for just one blog entry so I’ll split them up a bit over the next few weeks so as not to completely bore my readers! 

The slogan that accompanies the tourism advertising of Ecuador says ‘Ama La Vida’ and nothing could be have been more appropriate or more true for our experience of this beautiful country. That is the theme of this post – Ama La Vida!

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The Swing At The End of The World

One of my favourite photos from this trip (with thanks to my best friend and travel buddy, Kirsty!). La Casa Del Arbol sits on the edge of a mountain in Banos, Ecuador. The tree house and the swing stand alone in the midst of the beautiful mountains, in the shadow of the Tungurahua volcano and overlooking the incredible forests that the eastern Amazon area of Ecuador boasts! When you go on the swing, you swing out over the edge of the hill to witness the most incredible views over the valley. For the few minutes you are on that swing, you do forget that there is anything else in the world but you and that moment.

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Climbing a Waterfall

Ecuador, being a volcanic, rainforest filled country, also boasts some of the most incredible waterfalls. As part of a rainforest homestay during our trip I had the joy of climbing up a waterfall in the middle of a rainforest downfall. The climb was exhilarating, challenging, a little bit dangerous and exciting. As we clambered our way to the top of the waterfall we could look up and see the tall trees of the rainforest canopy stretching far above us. We could feel the power of the water rushing down the falls. We could feel the warm tropical rain fall down on us. Climbing a waterfall in the pouring rain would never have been something I would have wanted to do…..and yet it was one of the most fun and exhilarating things I have ever done!

Photo Credit to my fellow adventurere Ailin Bona (Instagram@ailinboenaa)

Photo Credit to my fellow adventurere Ailin Bona (Instagram@ailinboenaa)

Ecuador’s Pacific coastline is stunning and is filled with incredible wildlife. Bearing in mind Ecuador also boasts the Galapagos Islands (which make up a whole other trip altogether) it’s very easy to witness some of nature at it’s best and some of these nature moments were big highlights! We took a trip off the coast to Isla De La Plata and on our way had the opportunity to see humpback whales in the wild. These whales could be seen very close to our boat and put on quite a display for us (accompanied by our excited ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of course!).

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Giant Turtles

 

Around Isla De La Plata, we saw the haven for wildlife that it was. Seeing the beautiful giant turtles swimming near our boat and then having the opportunity to snorkel in the same waters amongst the coral and the beautiful tropical fish below us…..there were endless smiles and happy faces from myself and my fellow adventurers.

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Snorkelling in the Pacific

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Meeting an underwater friend 🙂


Ecuador presented opportunities to challenge yourself and try new things. I tried bridge-jumping, zip-lining, hiking at 5000m above sea level, and snorkelling to name a few. Each and every new challenge brought a new lease of life for me. I felt exhilirated, excited and truly loved every new opportunity. Ecuador’s ‘Ama La Vida’ statement rings so very true!

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Bridge Jumping

These were just some of my highlights and there seem to be too many to put into one post so be prepared for another couple of Travel Tales posts coming your way soon!

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Ama La Vida