I’ve never really seen myself as an outdoors kind of person. I mean I got into hiking a bit in my teens but that faded after a year or so and I became the indoor kind of person I was always meant to be. Or was I?
When I first arrived in rural Vermont last summer I got attacked by bugs, bugs like I’ve never known before. Before I knew it I was covered in spots of blood, mainly around my face and hair line that quickly turned to swollen lumps, I was told these bites were down to black flies which I had never heard of. I wasn’t the only one they hunted, they seemed to be drawn to to the new foreign blood that had just walked into their natural habitat and they couldn’t get enough of us. I remember one dinner time I was sat opposite one of my English friends when I noticed she had some ketchup running down her neck, it turned out it wasn’t ketchup, it was blood. Blood! These things were like vampires! Luckily this only lasted for about a week at which point I was told the black flies became out of season. Yay! Then it was time for the sunburn. Now I’ve had sunburn before, but this time I got caught out worse than ever. My whole body was burnt, from my ears to my toes. You know that horrible case of sunburn you get every now and then where it hurts to shower, put on clothes, or lie down – that was me. Only I was in unfamiliar surroundings without the comforts of home. Then came the second round of bugs which I turned out be allergic to and had to be taken to a Doctor because my ankle swelled up so much I couldn’t walk. By this point I was seriously wondering if I could do this outdoorsy thing. The showers were located on the other side of camp from my cabin and by the time I got back I was dirtier than when I set off! I ended up giving up on make up as it just sweated straight off, and the nearest washing machine was a 30 minute drive away so laundry was an issue. In America I learnt how nature can suck.
In Australia I learnt to appreciate nature. I think it was because of all the different wildlife I encountered over there. Of course I did the touristy things like holding a Koala and feeding the Kangaroos at the zoo, I watched the Crocodile shows and saw the all the poisonous Snakes and Spiders. It was amazing. But the wildlife I encountered in the wild was much more interesting. For example did you know that the magpies in Australia are extremely vicious? Yeah. They swoop at you and attack, there was actually a sign in my street warning of the dangers of magpies. Seriously YouTube it, there are some hilarious videos which actually made me respect these birds a lot. One of the greatest moments of my life was when I went to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef, it was phenomenal. But what was even more phenomenal was the other great thing I saw on that trip, during a walk through the Daintree rainforest. A wild Cassowarie with 2 babies. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Cassowaries but they are similar in size to an Ostrich, but much more colourful and rare, with a sort of horn on their heads which reminds me of dinosaurs. They have a bit of a bad reputation because of some fatal attacks upon humans in the past, they are dangerous animals. I was walking through the rainforest on a guided tour when all of a sudden the guide told us to freeze, that’s when I saw the giant bird, it came right up to us closely followed by its 2 babies. I was completely in awe, I’d never seen something more magestic and graceful. The guide said he’d never seen a wild Cassowarie with babies in his 15 years of taking groups through the rainforest. I felt humbled. In Australia I learnt to respect nature.
In New Zealand I learnt the healing power of nature. By this point I had barely worn make up for 9 months and one day it dawned on me that my skin actually looked better. It was acne free, it wasn’t dry or pale and it just felt generally better. Not just on my face but my legs too, the fact that they had actually seen the sun abroad instead of being hidden under winter clothes in England had done them the world of good. 5 months later and they are still tanned and smooth and feel great! I definately took advantage of the healing power of nature when I visited Rotorua NZ which is a town that smells of rotten eggs. It literally stinks, and the reason is the natural volcanic geizers that let out natural gas. These things are amazing and you can watch a video I took of them on my Instagram page. People collect the mud from the geizers and use it in beauty treatments, as well and bathing in the natural hot springs. I was lucky enough to bathe in the springs too. It was definately a strange experience as the water was nearly 50 degrees C and the pools were mainly filled with male Chinese tourists in speedos. But once I relaxed into it and looked out across the panoramic views of the volcanoes, I felt completely peaceful. It was breathtaking and awe inspiring and completely natural. People swear by the healing powers of these springs and travel from across the world to bathe their aches and pains away. For me the water healed my soul, how cheesy! At last I realised power of the natural world, the absolute purity and goodness that it holds, and I aspire to make the most it more. There are loads more encounters with nature I will tell you about one day, but for now I’ll leave it here.
Of course I’m back in London now and nature doesn’t play such a big role in my life. However I have great adventures planned, watch this space. Nature made an impact on my life that cannot be unmade, I need to be a part of it body and soul.
Nature giveth and nature taketh away, respect it.