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12 Months of Simple Living

Welcome to my Blog!

A massive welcome to you and thank you for taking the time to read my little memos about life and mostly how I fail at it!

Each month I will be looking to release a couple of blog posts tracking my progress on each of my challenges. Hopefully they will be informative & humorous, but inspiring as well as thought-provoking.

If you have done or are thinking of doing a similar challenge, I would love to hear about it so let me know in the comments below or contact me.

Love,

Mary-Daisy x

 


Profile

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Mary Porter
Age 26

Currently residing in Surrey, but have been blessed to have lived in many different places across the UK, and in Ghana before that. I would describe myself as an introvert with extrovert qualities (confusing much?!!).
There are lots of things I love and these include spa days, dancing, writing, organising & finding bargains. Obsessed with avocados and edamame beans, have two odd phobias… if you can guess what they are I will be impressed.



 

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12 Every Day Foods that Contain Added Sugar


Challenge: To go Sugar Free
Charity: Diabetes UK
Total £ accrued: £3
Thoughts: You don’t need sugar when you’re this sweet 😉


12 Every Day Foods that Contain Added Sugar

Fifteen days into my challenge and despite resisting my ultimate favourite treat; french macaroons, as well as a seemingly unlimited supply of chocolates in the office, I was caught out on three occasions. The first; alcohol, day one! The second; stock cubes, day ten! The third; earlier on today when I was stitched up with a cup of tea combined with a spoon of sugar!

So, in case anyone else wants to ditch the added sugars, I thought I’d make a list of the top twelve every day foods that nearly (or did) had me fooled. Be warned, some of these might come as an unpleasant surprise!

 


1. Alcohol

Gin and tonic

Okay so maybe not technically a “food” but a key part of most of our *ahem.. my* diets, and my downfall on day one! Nearly all alcohol is created with added sugars, but the key word here is “nearly”.
My “spirits” were lifted when I realised that there is one type of alcohol that only contains naturally occurring sugars – wine! Needless to say, I’ve been on the vino ever since. I will add some some wines do, i.e. dessert wines and the like but if you know of any other alcoholic bevs made without added sugar, please comment below… I’m asking for a friend…

 

2. Stock Cubes

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Edited. Original Photo Credit: Dailymail.co.uk

Probably the one that shocked me most, not only because it caught me out on day ten in my super healthy vegetable casserole, but also because it’s probably one of the most used items in most “healthy” home-cooked meals.

Short of making your own stock, I haven’t come up with an alternative but I have just avoided it altogether and used other spices. Beware though, some pre-blended spices also contain sugar.

 

3. Soy Sauce

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Image Credit: epicurious.com

Another item regularly used in day to day “healthy” cooking, and that includes my favourite; a vegetable egg noodle stir fry.

There hasn’t been anything similar to soy sauce that I have subbed, seeing as Worcestershire sauce also contains sugar (and really isn’t even close to the flavour). I am considering creating a satay-style stir fry using peanut butter and coconut but beware, most peanut butter brands also contain added sugar.

 

4. Bread

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A basic everyday ingredient, I’d probably say that we use bread more than any other carbohydrate.

Even though I am not an avid bread eater, I have noticed that being unable to eat bread has been a big hurdle in trying to figure out what meals to create. Sandwiches, burgers, wraps, pizzas, garlic bread, naan bread and so many more have all been off the cards for me this month.

But there is hope!

Sourdough and pitta bread, as well as some other whole wheat rolls, are not made with added sugar! Result!

 

5. Hummus

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Image Credit: archanaskitchen.com

Everyone knows at least one strict health geek who always opts for carrots with hummus rather than crisps and chocolate as a mid morning snack. But perhaps it’s not as healthy as we all thought! Many brands of hummus have added sugar, but this does change brand to brand and depends on flavour (I found a lemon hummus without added sugar, when the plain had added sugar). Thankfully, there is often a low fat version which does not add sugar.

 

6. Bacon!

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Image Credit: flaticon.es

Shock, shock, horror! What?! Your favourite salty breakfast companion has extra added sugar??? Yeah, sorry to burst your bubble, but it does. We all know how healthy bacon is known to be as it is, but I feel that the addition of sugar is just to maximise the un-healthiness. Sort of the cherry on the top of an already guilty pleasure.

Before you start replacing your bacon with posher sounding pork such as parma-ham, or asking for an extra sausage in your full English instead, you should know that they also usually contain added sugar. This is primarily because sugar is a great preservative, but also because apparently meat isn’t sweet enough.

 

7. Quiche

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Image Credit: images-gmi-pmc.edge-generalmills.com

Now I’m not sure if this is just because of the shortcrust pastry base, or if the quiche mix itself includes sugar but unless you plan to make your own [from scratch] then you may want to scrap the quiche from your sugar-free meal plans.

It’s worth noting that other pies will also have added sugar, some not only in the pastry but in the filling as well. Particularly if bacon is an ingredient… or stock cubes are used… don’t get me started on the alcohol…

 

8. Salsa

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I’ll include with this, other pre-made sauces such as pasta sauce, pizza sauce, curry sauces and many more!

Don’t expect there to be shortcuts if you are going sugar free, if you want a lasagna, you make that f*ing lasagna from scratch! Grow the tomatoes, knead your pasta, even raise your own cow (if dairy is your thing ya know, and only if you are nice to the cow). Basically, say goodbye to the good old combo dips you can get by the quiche section of Sainsbury’s.

I made my own home-made salsa, recipe coming soon!

 

9. Breakfast Cereal

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Image Credit: kashi.com

Nothing like a bowl full of sugar to start your day, right?! The question is, do you add sugar to your sugar? There are some who sprinkle sugar on their already sugar saturated cereal bowls, just to ensure that the most important meal of the day is also the most unhealthy.

I’m not just talking about coco pops and frosties either. “Adult” breakfast also has more of the sweet white granules than you’d expect, take muesli for example.

 

10. Hot (and cold) Drinks

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Again, not classed as food per se, but a huge part of our daily consumption – liquid. Of particular note is all types of coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, the lot! Because, well who has coffee without sugar? But also the alternatives for those who don’t drink regular lattes, like Matcha lattes and (my all time fave) Chai lattes!

I must say, out of everything I’ve given up, I miss Costa Chai lattes the most.

But then there’s also the cold drinks like iced tea, fruit infused water drinks, and even some smoothies all with added sugar. I’m basically living off water and wine currently.

 

11. Salad Dressing

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The most ironic one of all, Salad Dressing. Me: “Hi, I’ll just have a salad because I’m on a diet.” Waitress: “Great, so would you like some sugar with that?”

Basically, most, if not all, salad dressings have added sugar. That’s just bloody inappropriate in my opinion, I don’t know what you think?!

But fear not, I have a fantastic recipe of my own for a good salad dressing without the sugar. It will be coming up in the next blog post!

 

12. Sushi

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Image Credit: img.grouponcdn.com

Yes, I went there!

Smashed them all out of the park with this one. You probably didn’t know this, but sushi rice is made with sugar and vinegar. Turning this otherwise known as “healthy” snack into a sugary treat.

Add the soy sauce and you have a bit of sugar on sugar action, which really doesn’t contribute to the overall healthy vibe.

 


 

So all in all, you can pretty much find added sugars… everywhere. But with a bit of determination and savvy-ness mixed with creativity, it can be avoided!

Watch this space for my sugar free meal ideas and recipes! And see how I’ve done in my next blog post.

Part Three

 

October Month 10: Sugar Free


Challenge: To go Sugar Free
Charity: Diabetes UK
Total £ accrued: £1
Thoughts: A healthy body is an investment into your future.


The Tenth Challenge: Going Sugar Free

Who’s Idea was that?!

The question I’ve been asking myself all day as I wrestled with food packages to try to find out what doesn’t contain sugar. I didn’t really help myself when I ended the last month on a massive sugar binge. Not by choice really, but having the Wedding of my gorgeous friend & her lovely man on the 30th meant that there was plenty of sugary treats to indulge in, not least of all the alcohol. What would you do?? Don’t answer.

I have to big up my best friend’s mum though as I started this sugar free adventure over at their place and after my pointing out that both the sauce and the powder of the fajita packet contained sugar, she made me my very own sugar free fajitas! We then all enjoyed some sugar free cake…

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At breakfast time, I hadn’t had much more luck, realising that all of the yogurt was made with sugar, all cereal and even some of the cheese. I was gutted when I found out that bacon also has sugar – it seems rather pointless to me seeing as it’s supposed to be salty. I had to dig deep to find them, but I was relieved to be able to put this breakfast together.

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So pretty much a terrible idea, because sugar is in EVERYTHING! That sort of scares me actually, because I thought I was pretty healthy before with a few treats from time to time. But it’s clear to see, that I eat so much more sugar than I even know about!

No Added Sugar

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It would have been easy to say “oh lets just avoid desserts or additional sweet things” rather than scan packets and google food products to find out what does and does not contain sugar. But I want to have a slightly ‘all or nothing’ approach, in the sense that I want to see what I can eat if I cut out any added sugars!

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I will be using substitutes like honey or maple syrup when desperate measures are required but they will be kept to a minimum. And I look forward to giving you some ideas of sugar free meals!

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My main concern with this is that I am really going to have to start cooking creatively and paying attention to everything I buy and eat. I have a pinterest board for ideas but I pretty much have to say goodbye to eating out and to drinking (I already failed on the latter when I totally forgot and ordered myself a G&T on day 1).

For every time I consume added sugars, it will be £1 to Diabetes UK, a UK-based patient, healthcare professional and research charity that cares for, connects with and campaigns on behalf of all people affected by and at risk of diabetes.

Wish me luck, and don’t feed me sugar!

x

Part Two

September Month 9: Slow Down (Part Two)


Challenge: To Slow Down

Supporting Naomi’s DTS this month.

Thoughts: Stop. Breathe. And let it be.


The Ninth Challenge: To Slow Down

The Easy Times

My month began in Squamish, Canada. It was easy then to slow down and take the time to enjoy the moment. I had no responsibilities and no set plans, so I took my time and went with the flow. It lead me to some great moments, like one day that I went on a very long walk to the Chief with the idea of climbing it. The walk to get there alone took the majority of my day as I stopped to enjoy breathtaking views along the way. When it got to lunch time, a pot noodle did the trick and I stopped to enjoy this hidden spot beneath the highway.

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Not being in a rush to get anywhere, I detoured from my route several times which lead to me some exciting adventures. I stumbled across a popular bouldering spot where I watched people practising climbing up and around these huge boulders, their safety mats beneath them. I decided to explore further into the woods, climbing up some rocks of my own. The route continued deeper and deeper into the unknown with more and more boulders cutting across my route. But I continued, curiosity leading the way, until my route ended abruptly at one of the sheer faces of the Chief. To my amazement, when I stared up the sky-high rock face, there was a person half way up, climbing.

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So when I later followed another unknown path which ended in a very large boulder, perhaps this person inspired me to attempt to climb the boulder. This lead me to the most stunning view where I took some time to sit, breathe and munch on some oreos.

boulder view

It wasn’t long into September before I had to make the long and sloooow journey back home. But in the spirit of slowing down and not rushing, I didn’t queue early to get on the plane and I wasn’t the first up when the plane landed. I have never been so chilled or relaxed about flying before – and normally the journey home for me is awful because without the excitement of a holiday to look forward to, the stress of flying is amplified. But this was by far one of my most chilled journeys. In my layover I read, sipped on pumpkin spice chai latte, blogged and browsed the airport shops. And before I knew it, everyone had boarded the plane, so I joined them at my leisurely pace.

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This really taught me that we really don’t need to be in a rush to get anywhere, taking my time and slowing down meant a much more pleasant experience for me and as a result people around me enjoyed more pleasant interaction.

 

The Harder Times

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Getting back to England, I had given myself a week before I needed to be back at work.  Having a wedding to attend in Glasgow, I opted for a 9 hour mode of transportation to save a significant sum of money, rather than paying more than double for a quicker trip there and back. Where I may have had some regrets on the overnight journey back (mainly due to not being able to sleep at all on the uncomfortable chairs), I actually enjoyed the journey there. I had time to write, to catch up with some old friends on social media and even read. But 9 hours on a bus sitting next to strangers means after a while, you do start talking to one another. By the end of the journey, the community spirits were soaring. The man opposite shared around his food, his little girl chattered away to us and the woman next to me offered around her napkins. I had made two new friends!

The more difficult times came when I was finally settled in at home and things started to get a little lonely particularly as the family I live with went on holiday for a week. I purposefully did not keep myself busy, curious as to how I would enjoy a bit of my own company. I wanted to scrapbook, watch movies, do my nails, write my book, bake and so much more. But strangely, the loneliness seemed crippling and I struggled to bring myself to do any of it. I would say that was my hardest point of this month’s challenge as I was also on a come down from travelling. But I did have some beautiful moments.

 

The Conclusion

 

All in all it’s been good to slow down this month and I hope this attitude will carry forward with me into the rest of the year because it really did make a positive difference. It can be hard sometimes but it’s worth persevering and really taking every opportunity to stop and enjoy the moments in front of you.

Next Challenge: Sugar Free!

 

 

September Month 9: Slow Down (Part One)


Challenge: To Slow Down

Supporting Naomi’s DTS this month.

Thoughts: We so often miss the little things that pass us by.


The Ninth Challenge: To Slow Down

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Image Credit: ryangoggin.com

Everything is fast paced in this world, like we are all in a race. To grow up, to become successful, to find a partner, to have children. We set goals, we say “by this time I want to have achieved XYZ” and then we put our blinders on and we run.

Over time, we have invented shortcuts to get us there quicker. But instead of giving us more time, we have just given ourselves more; packing every spare moment with activities and things to achieve.

It seems that all of us have become so used to this pace of life that if we happen, by chance, to find ourselves with space to breathe, we feel awkward. Fidgety. Bored, even.

When did we get so busy that we lost sight of what really matters?

Some of my best and most rewarding moments have been when I’ve taken time to stop amidst the business and chaos of life.

 

The Woman by the Road

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One moment I will never forget was in Sapa, Vietnam. I was riding through the mountains on the back of a motorbike by the cliff edge on my way to catch a bus to Laos and the driver and I noticed a small crowd of people around a woman sitting on the road. Without hesitation my driver stopped the bike to see what was happening and (I presume) ask how he could help. It turned out that the woman had just given birth on the roadside but she and the baby were doing well and did not need any additional help. It was the most beautiful moment for me, knowing that this woman had brought a life into this world in the middle of the mountains by the cliff side overlooking the incredibly beautiful valleys of Sapa. I shed a small tear.

But I couldn’t help wondering, if this had been me in a taxi back home in England on the way to catch a train, would we have stopped to help?
What about if I had been rushing to work, running late, would I have taken the time to slow down and stop? Or would I assume the people around her had it in hand? Would I have missed out on this beautiful moment and opportunity to be part of something so wonderful?

I think for most of us, there have been times like that – not as dramatic and wonderful, but smaller and more discreet moments that we have brushed off with a slight guilty pang thinking “somebody else will”. And maybe they will, but maybe taking the time to slow down could mean you are part of something beautiful.

 

Rare Moments

But this isn’t just about stopping to help people, this is also not being so busy and in such a rush that you miss the beauty in small rare moments.

Another special moment for me in Sapa, was seeing a butterfly on my path that looked pretty beaten down. At first I thought it was dead, but I saw that its wings had been wet from the rain and so it was stuck on the wet path and likely to be crushed by other hikers or eaten by a predator. So I found a twig and let this beautiful creature hop on before placing it in a safer and drier location.

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Later mother nature rewarded me by sending this beauty to hitch a lift on our umbrella!

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Weeks later, now on the east coast of the USA, I was driving on my way to Daytona beach when I saw this little guy crossing the road. I slammed my breaks (safely) when I saw the other side of the road did not seem to be slowing down, jumped out of the car and grabbed him! He had nearly been crushed by a big scary car. I returned him to his home in the sand dunes and warned him not to cross the road again.

 

The Challenge

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The challenge this month will be to not be so busy that I miss the little things, those special moments. To make time for myself to breathe and enjoy a slower pace of life, rather than being in a hurry to get where I’m going. It seems fitting that I write this as I am on a 9 hour bus journey to Glasgow which I chose in favour of the more convenient, faster methods of transportation in order to save a fair bit of money. Because, actually, time is not money.

Because this challenge is going to be too difficult to measure, I’m not going to set any targets or give money to charity based on my success (or lack of). Instead, I’m going to be supporting my friend, Naomi, as she starts an amazing journey of her own exploring her faith and growing both spiritually and within herself.

I would encourage you to read her story and consider supporting her here.

 

Part Two

August Month 8: Say Yes (Part Two)


Challenge: Say “Yes” to new opportunities
Charity: The LifeTrain Trust
Total £ accrued: £6
Thoughts: Don’t worry too much about looking after yourself, the world will look after you.


The Eighth Challenge: Saying “Yes” to New Opportunities

Being me has it’s perks, and being British isn’t always one of them. What I mean is that the Brits have this incommodious  way of saying “no” to absolutely everything.
There was a social experiment performed in the UK where a man tried to hand out free £5 notes to people passing by, only to be brushed off and politely declined by the public until eventually (I assume hours later, maybe even days) one woman gladly accepted. She can’t have been truly British.

So you can imagine how I felt when, after conversing with a friend of an uncle who I’d met only once, he offered me money.

 

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

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The thoughts going through my head, “well, I do need it, but do I need it need it? Like will I die if I decline?”

You see, earlier on that very day I had been crying atop a counter to a very confused and bewildered salesman who did not know what to do and who offered a withheld, yet polite, pat on the back as he willed me to stop. My naive and innocent self had not realised that when you book a car rental online for $360, you should expect to pay double when you arrive due to all the “necessary” additional charges. What was already a stretch for me financially, became a “who wants to purchase a kidney” kind of situation.

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Surprisingly, my uncle’s friend did not have a clue about my discomfiture earlier on. But disappointed that he had not been able to host me when I had visited his area, he wanted to make sure I could afford a couple of nights in a hotel wherever my next destination would be and perhaps have change for a bottle of wine come my birthday. An amazing display of generosity that I certainly was not used to and so, initially, I declined (that’s £1 in the pot).

I don’t wish to embarrass the culprit so I shall not name him, but I will say a massive thank you because you have no idea how timely the $200 was. ❤

 

Always say Yes to Drinks

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One thing most people always class as an “opportunity” is drinking. And I have had several opportunities to share a drink with people I have met on the way. I have clinked glasses with an old couple in a skyrise building in Portland, with a reggae musician and local business owner in downtown Charleston, with some old boys getting away from the wives in the only [open] pub in Brunswick and even with a sailor and his too-much-money-not-enough-sense-but-got-a-big-boat employer.

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Most notably, I met a couple atop the mountains of Squamish as they (similarly to I only moments earlier) toiled to capture the perfect insta-shot in the breathtaking surroundings. It was his birthday, yet he insisted on buying his girlfriend and I a drink… We obliged. And I’ve never laughed so much! After sharing travel horror stories, nearly choking on my drink over hilarious travel fails and exchanging social media details, they invited me to join them in Vancouver for a boat party then they gave me a ride home (whilst offering me peanuts in a very convincing manner).

Moral of the story: always accept drinks when they are offered, they can only lead to laughs and new friends.

Sadly, I turned down the opportunity for further drinking and partying with the old boys in Brunswick which would’ve taken me into my birthday hours – but Game of Thrones was on and I was not going to miss it! I also gave the boat party a miss… I didn’t have anything white!!

 

Don’t Tamper with Tampa

Disney Magic

As part of my East Coat road trip, I made a stop in Orlando- home to all things Disney. Running very low on funds, I opted for the free version of Disney – Disney Springs! That’s not to say it’s not also a magical visit, I do recommend! But people say you can’t go to Orlando and not go to Disney world, well that’s how one friend felt anyway. He felt so strongly, in fact, that he offered to get me tickets for the “real Disney world”, only problem was I’d already moved forward by then and didn’t plan on going back! So I opted for £1 in the pot instead.

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It was whilst I was contemplating my Orlando options in my hotel room that I found myself on instagram (like I’m not always on there constantly), and discovered that a friend of longer than 9 years was merely a couple of hours from me in the great land of Tampa!  Well, I didn’t have a rental for no reason. Although my original plan was to stick to the coast along the East, I thought I’d make a slight detour and head to Tampa. This also happened to be terribly close to where the sailor and old man from St. Mary’s live and I had promised to stay with them if I was in the area. But I was short for time, so another £1 for Lifetrain!

So I reunited with my friend, Kim, and at the same time became properly acquainted with a family I have known of for years but never had the chance to meet. Their home was everything you look for when you think “relaxation”. Think chilled space, think beautiful weather, think gorgeous pool, think lake in the back yard… yes I’m serious.. and of course, great company! So it did not take much convincing when they offered the opportunity for me to stay an extra night whilst Kim travelled to Montana to see her family.

Nature Magic

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One of the most spectacular moments of my trip happened whilst “sight-seeing” with Kim. We decided to visit a buddhist temple despite the fact that by this point I had seen so many temples that I could easily convince buddha that I was a devout monk. They held a celebration outside the temple selling aromatic Asian cuisine and playing relaxing oriental-style songs and we sat along the dock eating our non-conventional breakfast of sweet & sour pork kebabs with beef noodles. Kim spotted them first, then I had the pleasure of seeing them; a family of dolphins were playing in the waters not far from us! It was my first ever dolphin sighting and I was so excited!
“This beats going to the aquarium to see some Manatee” Kim clearly glad our original plan didn’t work out.

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But that’s not to say I didn’t see any Manatee, or Sea Cows, as they are known as. Actually, the beautiful thing about the fact that I said “yes” and completely re-arranged my plans to follow the west side of Florida’s coast, rather than the east, is that I saw things I would have missed out on had I been anywhere else.

I stopped by Naples on the way down the west Florida coast before heading on to Miami and had lunch in the over-priced but quirky English style pub. They were randomly giving out free meals to customers, sadly I did not benefit. But, the important thing was that I decided to head back to the beach for a quick dip-my-toes-in and got more than I bargained for. A whole family of around nine Manatee were playing right on the shores of Naples beach, literally by my feet! It was the most incredible sight and I couldn’t believe my luck that I had been there to witness that!

Manatee
See my youtube channel for a full video!

So in the end, one opportunity turned into several as a domino effect rolled out in front of me.

 

Keep Your Eyes as Open as Your Options

There are new opportunities all around us, but sometimes we let ourselves believe otherwise. A little more saying “yes” and a little less being suspicious can lead to a lot more adventure, and to prove it to you here are some more adventures I have had.

VIP Football Tickets

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Collecting my cousin from the emergency room after a small scare, his greatest worry was “my friend had tickets to a concert tonight and I don’t think I can still go”. “No,” I assured him, “you can’t go! But hopefully something else will come up…”
I wasn’t wrong. The next day, seemingly fully recovered, he approached me… “Sooo, my friend has a box at the Dolphins vs Ravens game and he has offered me two spare tickets…” Basically, you get the picture. It was a no brainer!

After wiping out the pretentiously small buffet of sushi, lamb cutlets and strange looking salads, we made our way to the field. Sitting in our already ah-may-zing front row spots in an exclusive area, I scouted the area for celebrities as I tried, and failed, to be discreet. We then spotted this friend in an even more VIP, VIP area (like I didn’t think it could get more VIP but it did) and were invited to join him there after doing the whole “they’re with me” thing that important customers do. This time I was on my best behaviour (give or take a few gin and tonics), because now I was certain there would be celebs around- not that I would recognise them!

It didn’t end there, though I would have been happy watching the game, periodically reinforcing my stomach lining at the buffet and then soaking it up with a few more G&T’s. We were then invited up to “The Club”, by that time, my best behaviour was thrown out the window and replaced with even more alcohol (sorry cousin!) as I got introduced to all these lawyers, ex-football players and the like.

Long story short, my cousin is unlikely to ever invite me to anything like that again, but it was a bloody fun night!

Accommodation (new friends & great company included)

Atlanta, GA

Phil & Daesy (2)
On my journey, I have met several people who have kindly offered me a place to stay. If you read my previous post, you will remember Phil & Daesy who kindly offered me a room for two nights in Atlanta, Georgia. They did not just give me a room, but they invited me to join their meals, even making me breakfast in the mornings and leaving it out for me when they went out early. I so enjoyed getting to know them and their beautiful daughter, Eden!

Portland, OR

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Meeting Phil & Daesy lead to me also meeting Phil’s brother & sister in law; David & Becka. It just so happened that they live in Portland and were also happy to host me for a couple of nights when I arrived at the end of August. And what a great couple they are, not only giving me a place to stay but treating me to a true Oregon dinner out at a gorgeous food truck spot and buying me some local ale to try. We had such a laugh playing a strange “strategical” Alice in Wonderland card game where I lost miserably, and also letting my inner geek out as we spun theories about Game of Thrones!

Seattle, WA

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Without giving too much away, the Oregon-Washington cruise below lead me to my third host in Seattle. It was whilst on this day trip that I met a lovely couple Bob & Liz, who just so happened to have a son and daughter-in-law living in Seattle – where I was heading later that evening. Finding out that I had not yet set plans on where to stay, they placed an immediate call to their daughter-in-law, Victoria, who was happy to host me.
Victoria had two lovely children, twins, and a lively dog who seemed to enjoy my lap! Again, it was great getting to know her and she freely offered information on the area, what to do and where to go! She even made me a tasty vegan breakfast shake which I gladly received.

The biggest thing I took from this is how kind and generous people really are, and how ready you should be to give it back should the chance ever come to you. Without these people’s generosity, I would not have been able to do some of the things I have been lucky enough to do on my travels.

Oregon-Washington $90 Cruise

So my greatest achievement in my travels was obtaining this certificate for successfully steering the Portland Spirit. I was assured it was 100% legit and I could definitely hop on any boat and be a captain… 😉 But whilst I was manoeuvring this big boat, I was also making friends with the crew as they told me some of the things I absolutely must not miss in Portland. Amongst the top 5 was an all day cruise taking me to the Colombian river and gauge guaranteeing stunning scenery. “How much is that?” I asked and then gulped when I heard the reply, “about $90”. I wrote that one off pretty quickly.

Hopping off the boat onto the shore, I said goodbye to the staff and one of them slipped me my $10 obligatory boat photo with a wink and a “shh”. Then the first mate (no idea what you call it in real sailor terms) came after me… not to apprehend me and retrieve the photo surprisingly!

“I know the captain who does the cruise if you and any of your friends would like to do it for free…” Strangely, this was my most suspicious moment as I momentarily felt my mouth fall open and I didn’t really know whether or not to believe him. “Sure,” I managed, and then swapped details with him.

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Meet Captain Chris, who let me jump on the boat ride for free 🙂

Sure enough, when I showed up the next day he was fo’ real!

 

The Conclusion


Success rate: 6 Failures
Cost per fail: £1
Money raised for charity: £6


 

What have I learned? Be more open! The world will look after you if you allow it, I have been looked after by some really great people that I came across by chance. And you will also find, one opportunity inevitably leads to more opportunities.

Next Challenge: Slow Down…