Friday, 25 January 2013

Picking up the proverbial blogger pen. Again.

 My name is Rachelle, I am 21 years old. I currently live in Peterborough (UK) and am taking a year out of my studies for an MA in English and Film at the University of Dundee. I've had a lot lined up and executed already in the realm of travelling, which you will find details of in my older posts, and I've got more coming your way!
   This is actually my second blog, my first being one which I am writing alongside an inspirational/autobiographical novel about my Mum who passed away in September 2011 I have started this blog to exercise my travel writing and to hopefully inspire some to go and have some wee adventures of their own. So I'm doing that whilst exploring the world and the people in it a bit more, getting in some money for sustenance along the way and learning all sorts of things about myself.
   I hope you enjoy my stories, just as I have enjoyed sharing them with you.

"What we do for ourselves dies with us. 
What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal."
- Albert Pine

Monday, 12 November 2012

Home is where the Heart is.

Hello England!
   I have shared with you my emotional and thinking process in me moving out of my city flat into a family home after Mum's passing. And also a little in thoughts about a possible move in the future - but these past 8 weeks have given me a new thought on the phrase 'Home is where the Heart is'. In this time I have come to a greater understanding of what it could really mean, and how it will affect me for the rest of my life.

   Someone asked me the other day how many new 'Facebook friends' I had added over my time in the States. I wasn't quite sure, as I think only a month's additions is shown on your page and mine said 15 'new friends', but the number is probably double that (by mathematical calculation). That is not to be boasting at all, it is merely to say I have met that many people who I would like to keep in touch with. The only boasting I can do, is in that I am part of such a wonderful family that allows me to care for a lot of people, and vice versa. I am quite an open person, and find it quite easy to talk to just about anybody. I tend to get comfortable with people quickly, and because of this I get to share such interesting things with them. There are three things I want to tell you to make my point:
     Firstly, Cassidy is a girl I met in Henderson, TN. We spent some time together and within just 3 days became so close. We have some things in common, I couldn't necessarily tell you what her 'favourites were' - except pugs - but we bonded over mutual grounding and a fundamental understanding which leads us to strive to be the women we want to be. It is an honour to know her. My friendship with her is just one of many I was blessed with in my time away.
    Secondly, years ago I was at a Youth Weekend (retreat) in a girls' class we were talking about 'how far is too far' - you know the lesson - and it was mentioned that even holding a boy's hand is like giving him a piece of your Heart (so you need to be careful you don't give yourself away before you meet that one person you want to share everything with.) I use this lesson as an analogy - rather than physical aspects of love I am talk about sharing acts of kindness, experiences, memories and wisdom which I call Love.
     Thirdly, I thoroughly enjoy getting to know people. I find people fascinating. How different we all are, yet how similar our Hearts tend to be. We hear expressions like 'I could never love them more than I do right now' or 'my whole heart belongs to you' and I have been there. Yet I continue to Love and Love and Love, and even when my Heart feels broken, or shattered, I still find capacity to Love all the more. If you have children you truly understand how your Heart seems bottomless, because even with each new addition to the family you Love them the same, unconditional, utmost amount. 
   N.B. With these things considered I have seen that we were made to Love one another. As a Christian I believe we were made to Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength - first and foremost, but there is always room to Love your neighbour as yourself.

    So, I was really upset the night before we left America. I couldn't quite figure out why until it came together in my head like this: I was sad because I felt as though I had gained so much, had so many fantastic memories, pictures, souvenirs, gifts to take back with me, but I also felt as though I was leaving something behind. Every teary-eyed conversation, be it from common sorrows or sheer hilarity, made an impact on me. I felt as though pieces of my Heart had been left with these moments and these people I had encountered. I fell in-love with fellowship, with the different relationships we can have with one another. 
   I am blessed to have been given many opportunities in my life to really get to know and Love people. Some so well that I think that when we Love someone we give them a piece of our Heart for strength and safe keeping. Whether it's crying together over similar struggles of grief at a dining table with sweet ice tea, playing card games and end up talking about past relationships with a new acquaintance, sitting beneath the stars talking about hopes and dreams with someone you've always-known-but-have-never-really-known, you're sharing your Love with people.

   Going back to the phrase 'Home is where the Heart is', I am learning that Home really IS where your Heart is. Be it in one place or a hundred. The truly awesome thing about Love is that it is infinite, it is overwhelming and it sometimes does surpass understanding - to the extent even that a born and bred Brit can feel 'at home' sippin' sweet tea and shootin' skeet with the best of 'em. ;] I consider my family to be one that extends to many wonderful people across the pond, and I realise 'yeah, I could get used to this...'
   But when I sat, a little begrudgingly, in 39A on the plane in Nashville airport, knowing I would not get a decent sleep or meal for the next 24 hours, a face with a smile came into my mind and I stopped caring about how I would get home, just that I would. I knew that I was travelling back to a place where I had stored little, medium and large pieces of my Heart, and everything was OK. 
   Home is where your Heart is. Be it vested in your family, friends, acquaintances, cultural traditions, land history or hopes for a brighter future, when possible, people will go where they most want to be. For me, for now, it is in the house I grew up in, the residence in which my Mother and Father built a home, the place I first learned to truly Love. So, yes, I am happy to be home.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Travel Journal #11 - The end is nigh...

Sunday 4th
   Today we went to church with Bob and Dad have the sermon. Good stuff. *I'm in two places at once.* :] We went to Fuddruckers for lunch and I had an amazing Buffalo burger with sweet potato fries and sweet tea! We head back to the house for some hot tea before Dad's class in the evening church service, and spent time with Sherry when we got back - she'd come home from her wee holiday :]

Monday 5th
   Today I had my first Mani-Pedi experience with Sherry! For those of you less understanding of women's beauty rituals, this is a manicure and pedicure - makes your nails pretty on your hands and toes. :] We went to a salon run by some nice Chinese people and had a laugh with them whilst I got beautified! Now my fingernails change colour with heat!!! Black/maroon when cold and pink when warm, useful stuff.

Tuesday 6th
   Up early, packed the car and head out by o7:40 from Swansborough, NC to Gallatin, TN. That's a 11 hour drive, not including rest stops, lunch  and dinner. We went via Virgina - as you do, for a bit more of a scenic route, and also checking off our 9th state this trip! We got to stop off and see Patrick Sullivan (Dundee Youth Minister) in Cookeville as well which was nice, not seen anyone from across the pond in a while! And we'll see him again when we're back in Scotland. Arrived in Gallatin by about 10pm and spent some time with the Carnes' and the American Political televisual feast before heading to our much needed comfy beds!

Wednesday 7th
   Today was our last full day stateside. We had a good sleep and made sure cases were packed and under the limit - having to ship some books Dad happened to 'acquire' on our travels... We have successfully packed everything. We're taking 2 extra cases and I'm taking an extra hand luggage bag. Manoeuvring our way on the London Tube will certainly be an experience... After having dinner at Chick-fil-a we went to church for Dad to give the last  of his BBS presentations, finally found Will :P, and went back to Bill and Anna May's to watch Duck Dynasty with them and the Carnes. Ok, so you NEED to watch this program. 'Duck Dynasty' on A&E TV in America and somewhere online otherwise. Hilarious stuff. Proper Southern culture, right there. :]
   Just set my alarm for 06:30. Not too bad. Then we'll be off. 

America, it's been grand.

Truly grand.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Travel Journal #10

Wednesday 31st
   Arrived safely in Knoxville and stayed with 'Eddie baby - don't call me Eddie baby' and his family who Dad used to go hill walking with in the Lake District. They shared some stories, we watched some classic Monty Python and saw a home video from their time spent in Dundee! I love home videos. We don't have enough of them - and you're all still waiting on my blog about it, it shall be here soon...
   Had dinner, spoke to their son Marcus (Hey Marcus) about films and blogs and writing jobs, then went to bed. 

Thursday 1st November
   Up and out by 0830 leaving Knoxville to visit Greenville before heading to Jacksonville. Tour de la ville. [Apologies for probable incorrect grammar..] We visited the Galloway Grandparents. I am grateful to them for bringing some amazing people into this world who then brought amazing people into my world also. Apparently I had been there as a baby, but as such I do not remember the visit. It was neat seeing baby pictures of said friends when they were ickle. Need to dig out some more from our archives... 
   After replenishing our weary selves with a jolly good spot of PG Tips we got back on the road and set off for Jacksonville, North Carolina. Stopping once for substantial fual'age - of the vehicle and human consumption variety - and a Chocolate shake from Dairy Queen and arrived at our destination at 2030. 12 hour journey. Pretty worth it - I'm sure.

Friday 2nd

   After staying up yet again to chat with a friend back home (Hey Scott) I finally got out of bed 15 minutes before we were meant to leave.. fortunately neither Bob nor Dad had remembered that time and had gone out so Bob could vote! Saved by forgetfulness. When we were ready we head up to the US Marine base where Bob works as a dentist. He gave us a driving tour round the base - massive - and we had lunch in the Officer's Club. Pretty cool stuff. Lots of marines everywhere, needless to say it was an enjoyable few hours. We went to the food shop on base and got a few things then head back to the house and I sorted the presents we've bought for people back across the pond. Put me in a mellow mood, and I started to miss everyone all over again. Bad times. But plans are being put in place for my Birthday when I return and I hope I"ll be able to see a good few people in Scotland before heading back South for a few months... Dad and Bob put the planking back on the dock at the bottom of the house, so I'll go down there tomorrow I think. There was also an amazing sunset tonight. God is good. Having a light bite for dinner, and I'm going to head downstairs now for a cuppa! :] 

Saturday 3rd

   We all got up in the pitch black dawn today and went to Yanna's for breakfast. I had a 'Western Omelette' with lots of veggies in it, with hash browns and apple fritters! Amazing stuff. Yana's is a small joint run by Yanna who is in her (about) mid 70s now, a massive Elvis, Marilyn and James Dean fan so the place was covered in memorabilia - just like in the diner in Tupelo. We're seeing some pretty unique places, it's neat.
   We went to Beauford, North Carolina, which is the third oldest town in America! (So dates back to the 1700s..) We went around the Maritime Museum - it was packed full of information about the town and especially Blackbeard, the infamous pirate who was caught and executed in Beaufort, NC. One of their major claims to fame, as it were, so it was nice to be a part of that. We walked round the town for a bit and I must admit I got rather sleepy. Travelling/late nights/early mornings are not agreeing with me and as such I have a sore throat and a low tolerance level for the fatigue feeling. Alas, I enjoyed it and took some pretty cool photos. 
   When we got back to the house we had pizza - which always brightens my mood - and I spoke to Cassidy on Skype (which always brightens my mood too)!!!! Very exciting stuff. Even though I only met her a few weeks ago and only spent a few days with her I feel so close to her and really treasure the new friends I've made. To the point that I'm torn between wanting to go home and wanting to stay here a bit longer. Hard times. But it's so good and I am so blessed to be surrounded by lovely people. It's good to have something to miss.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Travel Journal #9

(Friday night arrived in Marysville, Ohio) 
Saturday 27th
   Went for breakfast at a lovely restaurant called First watch on a really pretty street. I had Carrot Cake Pancakes, eggs, bacon and Hot Chocolate! Such a beautiful dry, cool, Autumn morning. The changing trees make the simplest scene picturesque. Then went to the Ohio History Museum which has pretty much all of America's history under one roof - it's massive! They had a special exhibition called 'Controversy 2' which contained artifacts that cause much debate and uproar today - over the fact that they ever existed and have survived thus far.  Things like the Swastika Nazi flag, 'Gollywog' sketches, and a slave's poem. 
   It was interesting to see all of this included as 'controversial' as there was a time when these things were accepted as normal, or at least majorly accepted in some societies. It made me wonder what they would show in an exhibition like this in 100 years. Maybe the 'Gay Pride' rainbow flag, Dawkins' London bus sticker with the slogan 'God isn't real, get over it', maybe a medal of honour from the war in Iraq, maybe even a Bible. It is interesting to see how society changes, how today the 'freedom of the people' is celebrated when in reality there are issues causing friction and oppression among us. Some may think it beautiful how we all seem to be so liberated, but there are those who would advocate an airborne threat to even the private practice of values they hold dear. The World is forever changing, swapping between the importance of tradition and fresh ideas. People have not changed, generations have always found something to disagree on. But maybe we can be a people who, with our own beliefs and opinions, can share this world in peace. With a love that surpasses understanding, as we have been granted ourselves...

    After the Museum and deep thought we head back to the house to prepare for a smoked BBQ dinner and whilst Renee was emphatically rushing around for that the men, boys, and myself went outside for a bit of target practice! We shot clay skeet (disks) which Josh flung into the air with his catapult thing - same as in Oklahoma - and my aim has improved! It was a lighter shotgun which made it easier to hit on target and I shot about 6/8 skeet! :] Showed up some of the boys which is always fun. Some friends came over for the BBQ and a game of Monopoly was attempted and abandoned as we were pretty knackered after the long day.
Sunday 28th
   Church morning service then went for lunch with Brooke. Brooke and I met when I was last over when I was 13, we were pen pals for a while (old style) then became official Facebook friends <3 and have been in touch for all this time. It was so good seeing her again and catching up on this past year. We went to the Ol' Bag o' Nails pub - the first place in America I've been where they have pretty much mastered English batter, so you can get an almost-proper Fish & Chips. (Having worked in a chippy for 2 years, I appreciate this greatly.) I went back to Brooke's and watched the end of a questionable Spanish film, supposedly telling the tale of a cook book... Then we watched Chalet Girl - cheesy but good. Then Brooke's family and some others came to Renee's house for more BBQ with peeps and I played some guitar - I think this is becoming my American Debut Tour ;]
Monday 29th
   We went to the Apple Store in the morning - Renee got an iPad with all the trimmings. It felt like Christmas. Went to Dublin near Columbus and got a Jeni's ice cream - Dad got a spicy chocolate flavour as well as others I got Blueberry Crunch, Salty Caramel and a Nutty Chocolate one, nom! We then went to Ohio Caverns, after grabbing  a quick savory snack for luncheon, and discovered it was warmer underground than outside! Which was a nice surprise as it had been (rather literally) freezing all day. We ordered and 'took out' some pizza home for supper, a brilliant end to a brilliant day.
Tuesday 30th
   Woke up after a needed lie in to the sight of a thin layer of snow on the grass outside. Wait, snow in October?! Thanks to Hurricane Sandy - yes. After a short session of feline stretching and yawning Renee came and told me that there were freshly made carrot cake pancakes waiting for me when I was ready for breakfast. Ohmygosh. Definitely one of the best mornings ever!! Like an early Birthday/Christmas day. :] 
We didn't forget those North of us who are getting the worst of the storm, and it's only just beginning to show it's might. New York is spotted with destruction and there is a growing fear that it will get worse before it eases. Remember in your thoughts and prayers the people affected through this storm and the rescue support teams as they relieve all they can.
   We took a trip to Walmart and get some more presents/food supplies for the next journey, saw Renee's parents, went to her family's for dinner then played pool and cards with Brook, Cody and Chaz. :]
Wednesday 31st
   Eventually got home this morning and had little sleep before getting up and saying goodbyes to Renee, Josh and the boys. Sad to be leaving, as it was leaving Brooke and her friends yesterday. Alas, we must depart. Packing the car up in just a minute then heading down to Knoxville in Tennessee for the night before heading to North Carolina tomorrow, missing the worst of the snow in West Virginia.

   See you in Knoxville :]

Friday, 26 October 2012

Travel Journal #8 - Hidy Ho Henderson :]

Monday 22nd October
   Got up. Lunch. Shopping with Marie. Dinner with Kid President's family and another couple. Watched the 3rd Presidential debate - interesting stuff.
   If you would like to see what Kid President does, look here: Kid President - YouTube

Tuesday 23rd October
   Went to an early lunch in a Japanese restaurant near Jackson. Pretty good. Rice tea. I had a non-adventurous-but-delicious sweet and sour chicken dish and Dad had the Mongolian beef. Others had sushi and such but I'll wait 'til I get to Japan to try the cuisine... Went back to campus later on in the day and spoke with Marco for a bit then went to Chickasaw Park with Matt Wallace. 'Fall' over here is SO beautiful, I whacked out my camera and was snapping away at the beautiful colours on the trees as they're changing, and the lake was so still it was amazing. Like a mirror giving us twice the splendor of the forest. Fun stuff :] Went to the Robertson's for dinner and stayed talking 'til 1130pm. Good conversations.

Wednesday 24th October
   Met Cassidy Williams at 10am in the Old House then went to chapel and lunch. Went to Chickasaw State Park with Matt again for a bit and he took me to the house we were eating at for dinner. Went to Pincin in the evening to give a talk, was pretty good. Went back to campus to evening singing and stayed in Cassidy's dorm!

Thursday 25th October
   Went to chapel, had lunch in Gano, went to Cassidy's class on Hebrews, went to Chickasaw with Matt and Cody and played guitar and watched Cody muck about. Had dinner at Pizza Hut with Matt, Cassidy, Cody, Dad, Marie, Bill and his wife (Dean of Bible), good stuff!! Back to Campus, watched a bit of 'Cool Runnings' in Old Main on the projector, went to get coffee before the MM and ended up staying in the cafe paying Mau (the card game) and came home.

Friday 26th October
   I got about 5 hours sleep last night as I got in late, packed and was up speaking to a friend back home <3 So I'm knackered. Talking to people and making good friendships has also worm me out, emotionally. I'm so sad to be leaving Steve and Marie, I consider them as Grandparents, they're so precious in my heart. Sad also to be leaving new friends, though I'm sure we'll see each other again.
   We're leaving for Ohio today - a 12 hour drive. Please pray for a safe journey as there's meant to be storms nearby and I would love to get there in one piece. :]
We have to go pack the car, so have a good day and I'll see you in Ohio!

Love and peace.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Travel Journal #7

Saturday 20th October
   LONG day! Left just gone 9 to drive to Tupelo Mississippi to visit Elvis Presley's house! YAS! So cool, we went in the wee house he was born in, the church he used to go to and first loved singing in, we saw his primary school and the town, and of course the museum and chapel built by family, friends and fans. It was very interesting.    We actually got a bit of a special tour as we went round with a couple who's Mother (and mother-in-law respectively) had grown up around the corner from Elvis' family and her Mother took care of Elvis when he was a baby, more notably right when he was born and the family dealt with his twin brother who didn't survive. She told us stories of the children, herself included, all playing on the hills nearby and going up to a small house to play. She distinctly recalls her mother playing the piano in the church Elvis and his family went to and tells us that in the reconditioned church building - they put the piano on the wrong side and there should be an aisle between the two columns of benches! It was truly a wonderful day out, we got to hear about the town's history a bit and we ate in the Diner he frequented as a child and revisited as an adult once he became famous. We also saw the music shop in which he bought his first guitar!
   We got back from Tupelo at about 5.30 and we were meant to be at a family's house for dinner at 6 so we quickly freshened up, grabbed a spot of tea and shot off! The family we ate with were lovely, I got into a massive conversation about everything with Beth Naylor and we pretty much solved the world's problems... ;] What a lovely night, amazing folk. Love meeting great people!

The girl in the middle of the photo is Miss Rae who gave us the special tour. The boy standing on the left is Elvis Presley.

Sunday 21st October
   Another long one! We worshiped with the Estes congregation where Steve and Marie are members. It was so wonderful to see so many people who have known my family for decades and it's always lovely to meet new people too, or re-meeting them as I can't remember those who held me when I was a baby or played with me when I was a child... We ate there with a visitation group then came back to the house for a bit and I skyped with Shanae for a few hours. Love you Sis! <3
   Head out to Bethel Springs for evening worship and class. Dad did his BBS presentation again and we hung around for about an hour and a half talking with people! I got into a conversation with Matt who had taken me around the Freed campus, and his friend was there too who does an amazing Londoner accent and is fluent in Japanese... Needless to say, I'm meeting some interesting and entertaining people!

   It's good times.