All Over The Place by Geraldine Deruiter

When I first read that one of my favourite bloggers was releasing a book, I instantly began impatiently refreshing Amazon’s UK Kindle site until they let me pre-order All Over The Place.

I’ve followed The Everywhereist for years after following a link to it from an article her husband wrote on the Moz blog, right back when I’d just dropped out of university and started working in marketing. (I find it a little soothing that I’ve just finished her book and my undergrad. degree.) Geraldine’s blog was a bit of a beacon in the blogosphere for me because she was unashamedly traveling her way, getting lost, experiencing things her way, and telling hilarious stories about all of it. Her book is no different.

You are not going to read this book and gain an understanding of how best to fold your underwear, how to get the cheapest flights, how to avoid food-poisoning, or spend no money while exploring an expensive Scandinavian capital city. Instead, you are going to laugh so hard you might cry while she tells the story of the time her mother tried to take a pickax through security. Geraldine writes that All Over The Place should perhaps serve as a reminder of how not to travel; but with some of the stories she’s got out of her way of traveling, it’s hard not to want to do the same. (I am simultaneously thankful but a little disappointed that I do not have a relative who feels it perfectly normal to take weapons in their hand luggage on family trips.)

This is a book that oozes comfort. The writing is so natural and effortlessly funny that you sink into the book and feel like you’re sat in a cafe (eating cake, of course) with Geraldine. If, like me, you find yourself constantly living in fear of everything, you will also find another kind of comfort in this book. I found myself laughing out loud and pondering my own experiences as I read about Geraldine navigating her life, the relationships with her partner and family, her health, and her thoughts on life and the “path” we’re on.

One reviewer on Goodreads summarised this book really well for me, “All Over the Place is a travel book, except that the travel is at least as much internal as it is external. It’s not just about the places she, her husband, or friends explored; it was about what she learned about herself, life, her family, her husband, and her friends.

As you reach the end of the book, Geraldine takes her husband to the Italian towns her grandparents came from. She tells a story of meeting relatives and Italian dinners and it honestly feels like you’re sitting right there at the table. You can almost smell the pasta (and that is an excellent quality for any book to have).

I reached the end of the book feeling thoroughly satisfied. All Over The Place was everything I thought it was going to be. If you’re looking for something hilarious, but with some poignant life lessons, to read this summer this is the book you need in your life. In fact, I think it would be the perfect book to read while traveling because it is so easy to read.

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I finished university

On Tuesday, I sat my final undergraduate exam (providing I haven’t miserably failed and have to resit, of course), which means I have completed my undergraduate degree.

I remember writing a post a couple of years back about me starting back at university and I can’t believe how fast those two years have gone. I’ve worked damn hard, racked up some government funded student debt (woop!), and I have everything crossed for a first. I will be truly gutted if I get anything less than a first.

At the moment, I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I am relieved to be able to let my brain relax for a little while, for sure, but I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I think part of that is because I am refusing to get excited until I see my dissertation results, and also because I can’t go to graduation. For some reason, my university does graduation in September which is of absolutely no use to anyone who is going on to further education elsewhere. I have no idea why, most other universities manage to hold graduation in July.

It feels almost surreal to look back on where I was two years ago; I was still working in marketing and had decided I needed to be out of it by the end of the year and wanted to go back to university. I was really nervous about applying to go back to university and was worried a university wouldn’t want to accept me because I’d dropped out after a year and a half. (Jokes, they just want your money ;).) I’m so glad that I took a deep breath and went for it because I love where I am right now.

This summer is shaping up to be a hectic one, but not before a much needed getaway for Daz and I. We’re both looking forward to escaping to campfires, cooking under the stars, falling in love with and dragging ourselves up mountains.

How’s life?

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Lake Minnewanka and Mount Inglismaldie at night

There are some things you can't imagine ever needing to say and "we're not going to be eaten by wolves" is a phrase I certainly never imagined myself saying. That said, I did have to tell my sister and various people we work with that we weren't going to be eaten by bears while camping.

Daz and I are both flappers. We don't seem to get stressed about the same things at the same time, which is great because while I'm convinced we're gonna die in a kayaking accident 10 feet from the shore, he's says "no we're not, I got this." Which is great because I believe him over the voices in my head that try to tell me everything is dangerous.

Last August, we were booking campsites for our trip and we really wanted to stay at Two Jack Lakeside. We'd looked at all the other Parks Canada sites in the Banff area and Two Jack was easily the most beautiful and quietest looking. We tried to book and were halted by a message saying that due to a "wolf problem" the site wasn't accepting bookings at that time.

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Cloud over Lake Minnewanka

We soon discovered that some idiots had left food out at the site, which had attracted wolves. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you provide a wild animal with a really easy source of food, they'll come back to find it again. Not only does that cause them problems by making them dependent on humans, but I think you'll agree a tent is probably next to useless in protecting you against a hungry wolf. You may as well wear Lady Gaga's meat dress and offer yourself to them. On a more serious note, a wolf had to be destroyed because of someone's thoughtless actions. The campsite re-opened and that was where we ended up staying for the last couple of nights of our trip. It totally surpassed our expectations and we're going back there again this summer, so it is definitely worth a visit if you're planning to stay in the Banff area.

It had been cloudy our entire trip and on the last night we finally had some clear sky, so I wanted to try a bit of nighttime photography. We drove to a little jetty (if that's what you call it) at Lake Minnewanka and I started faffing about with my camera.

This time, it was Daz's turn to stress. It was pretty much pitch black and we were the only people about. We'd been told to be vigilant for wolves (we didn't see any), had seen signs up about wolf sightings on trails in the area, and for some reason I'd seen fit to park at almost the furthest point away on the car park, which was surrounded by forest. This is how horror movies start.

It's one of those situations you look back on and wonder what on earth you were thinking. Especially given childhood nightmares about being eaten by a black demon dog / wolf. If I ever see a horror film again, I won't ask "what were they thinking?!" because I now understand that they were probably just trying to take some awesome nighttime shots.

Clearly, we did not get eaten by wolves, which I guess is pretty anti-climatic if you were expecting my title to be famous last words. I can't look at these photos of Lake Minnewanka without laughing to myself about the wolf incident.

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Blood and Earth by Kevin Bales

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a book review, eh? I’ve barely had time to read this year but Blood and Earth demanded I read it with some kind of immediacy and then tell everyone that they need to read it too. 

 

1. You don’t know what you don’t know

I can’t speak for everyone but I went into this book thinking I knew about where things were coming from but I was wrong. I was shocked by a lot of the things I read. I had no clue that shrimps were harvested by young boys and men who had been lied to, enslaved, abused, and forced to live in awful conditions with the threat of death if they tried to escape back to their families. I honestly would never have made the logical leap from shrimp farming to slavery. Never.

It is very easy for us to buy into marketing and what we are told by retailers without ever questioning the origin of our phones, laptops, food, or clothes. It’s easy to be ignorant because you don’t have to ask that many questions before you feel very uncomfortable.

 

2. It is our responsibility to know where things come from

By buying a product we are, whether we like it or not, agreeing with the practices of a company we buy from. Large, global retailers don’t really care about anything aside from profit and to force them to change their profit needs to suffer.

This leaves us with the reponsibility of holding companies accountable with you and me. By actually asking companies to change and voting with our money we can make companies aware of the way we feel about their actions. More transparency is needed and until we demand it most retailers probably won’t feel obliged to provide it.

 

3.We kinda like the planet

The kind of scum who value profit above people’s lives are also the kind of people who don’t care about the environment.

Mining for gold has resulted in streams and rivers being polluted with mercury, which local families use drink, wash in, or use for cooking. Would we stand for that happening in our own towns? No.

The demand for charcoal has resulted in large chunks of forests being decimated and ecosystems destroyed, resulting in not just loss of species but severe flooding in local areas because the forests “held” the water.

Mangrove forests are being destroyed in x for shrimp farming. The problem with this is, again, not just related to the ecosystems and species being wiped out, but mangrove forests are also huge carbon sinks. When they’re destroyed, that CO2 is released into the atmosphere.

None of these are positives and Kevin Bales does an incredible job of explaining the link between slavery and the destruction of the environment. He states that if you combined the CO2 pollution of global slavery, it would be the third biggest polluter behind America and China. If not for humane reasons, slavery needs to be stopped.

 

4. It will change your life

This might sound cliche but you will struggle not to question your buying choices or retailers actions after reading this. And that is perfect and exactly what the world needs.

In one of the last chapters, Kevin shares the story of Claudio and Maria; two environmentalists who lived on their farm in Brazil and taught others how to live and make money off their farms without being destructive. Disgustingly, they (along with hundreds of others) were killed because they stood in the way of people who wanted to destroy the forests for profit. The loss of their lives can’t be in vain and who wants us to be sitting around in years to come and think we should have taken action sooner?

 

5. Our governments are idiots and we need to make them change

Ok, so let me preface this by saying not all governments are idiots. The UK and US governments seem especially moronic and ignorant when it comes to the environment at the moment. In America, you have a President who thinks climate change has been invented. In the UK, we are in the run up to a general election and the current party in power aren’t talking about the environment at all in their manifesto. In the UK, the capital city breached annual legal pollution limits for 2017 after just five days. And, the UK government has failed on repeated occasions to clean up the air in London, despite thousands deaths as a result of it. This is not acceptable.

The more of us who are educated, the more we can force change.

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t a happy Sunday afternoon read but it is an important read that shouldn’t be ignored, no matter how bad it makes us feel. I did actually find Blood and Earth to be a really gripping read because I just needed to know more immediately. Despite all the horror, it’s an inspiring read to know that we are responsible and can force change.

I’d also like to point out that I’m not suggesting that if we all read this book things will change instantly and it’ll be a walk in the park, full of sunshine, bunny rabbits and fluffy clouds. This book isn’t a silver bullet, it’s a starting point. It will be hard to change our society and the things we take for granted, and have become so reliant on. No one said change was supposed to be easy but if we want to ensure slavery is wiped out, want to enjoy the natural beauty of this planet, and continue sharing it with wonderful species that are vital to the ecosystem, we have to try.

If you’re intrigued by Blood and Earth, or want to know more, you might also like to read Kevin Bales’ interview with NPR (it’s written so you don’t need audio).

If you’ve got any suggestions for environmental / ethical reads, please send them my way.

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Share the love April 2017 edition

I feel like April has been a long month, not in a bad way it’s just that a lot of things seemed to have happened since March’s edition of Share The Love.

My dissertation was handed in at the beginning of the month (and that feels like so long ago now). Daz and I climbed a very steep hill near us, and I found out that I am super unfit. After a lot of email refreshing, I received an offer from the University of Edinburgh to study there and since then we’ve both done a lot of stressing and research into everything we need to sort before the start of September. I’m currently up to my eyes in revision; thankfully, I only have one exam though it’s a good job because this is a really hard one for me. I haven’t done any chemistry this complicated in about six years so I am really working hard and hoping it pays off.

 

BLOG – Jasmin Charlotte

Jasmin’s blog is not a new one for me, I have probably been reading her blog for about two years and I think I might have already featured it in a Share The Love post way back when. I would check, but I’m writing this instead of revising so…

Her blog is a great mix of travel, lifestyle, tech and blogging tips, and she loves space too (I always love a fellow space nerd). I always feel kinda cosy when I read Jasmin’s blog (maybe because I’ve read it for so long) because her posts read like a conversation and she writes some seriously thought-provoking posts, like why sometimes hard work isn’t enough and that’s ok. I also feel like Jasmin is one of the very few blogger who does sponsored content properly. It never feels contrived, it reads naturally and seems like something she would talk about anyway.

 

LINKS

10 travel bloggers share their favourite place on earth – Life With a View | A little tip of the hat to myself as I was featured in this roundup. I bet you can guess where I fangirled about, right? I always enjoy finding out what places other people love, so this is a fun read, even if you’re sick of hearing me talk about Canada.

How to do a successful spending freeze – Oddly Lovely | Cat is back blogging and I am so excited about it. For the past year, I’ve been visiting her blog about once a month just in case she snuck a blog post up without me knowing and now she’s back. It’s like a dream come true. And she also has some excellent tips on saving money, who doesn’t want that?

I fail everyday – Sustainably Vegan | I think that when you’re aiming for anything (it doesn’t even have to be related to a diet or a way of living), it’s important to understand that even when you see what you think is a perfect representation of whatever you’re aiming for on social media that the people behind that content fail too. Failure is good for us when we learn from it.

5 revision study tips – Ways To Study | I don’t know about any of you, but I am all about revision at the moment and any tips to help me get the best out of revision are always appreciated.

How to have a less wasteful makeup routine – Not So Quiet Grrl | Yet again, Nadia features here because she’s bringing some great tips to help me reduce waste.

6 easy ways to spring clean your blog – The Scarlet State | It’s time to clear out the cobwebs.

Why is it so hard to be self-promotional if you’re a woman? – The Everywhereist | Once again, Geraldine raises an excellent point and makes me laugh and seriously think about it at the same time.

 

 

WATCHED

The end of April was Fashion Revolution Week, which encourages us all to think about the people who make our clothing, and the conditions they work and live in as a result of fast fashion. After seeing Nadia mention that she’d watched True Cost documentary, I decided to give it a watch and was horrified at people trying to justify the way “the system” currently works. It sickened me and it makes me so angry that people and the environment are being treated horrendously because fast-fashion retailers want more profit.

It isn’t a nice subject at all and it made me feel sick to my stomach that I’ve been a part of it, we’ve all been a part of it; we can’t keep burying out heads in the sand. It’s time to learn, question, and criticise anything we’re not happy with.

 

LISTENING TO

Oh, it has been a good month for me musically. Paramore released Hard Times, which makes me want to dance badly; though, that is the only kind of dancing I’m capable of doing. Pvris also announced a new album and released Heaven, which I cannot get enough of either. All Time Low also released the third single off their next album, Life of the Party. I’ve pretty much been listening to those three songs mostly.

 

POPULAR POSTS ON GIRL IN AWE

 

How was April for you?

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Snow clouds at Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake is easily one of the most photographed lakes in Canada and it's easy to see why; it's shaped a little like a wolf, is a beautiful milky blue colour, and is right off the Icefields Parkway.

Because of all the reasons above, it was high on our list of places to visit and was one of the first (if not the first) stop we made on the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper.

It probably takes about 10 to 15 minutes to walk from the car to the first lookout over Peyto Lake, depending on how fit you are because boy it is a steep hill. I was incredibly unfit and Daz would not give me a piggyback. The panting, groaning and pain is worth it to see Peyto Lake with your own eyes and try to fathom that colour, and get a few photos that will probably be an instant Instagram hit (unless you got hit by the sucky new algorithm, yes, I'm bitter) because who doesn't love a lake the colour of the Night King's eyes?

While we were stood here it started to snow and a blanket of cloud descended on us. We had planned to keep walking up the trail to Bow Summit Lookout but wussed out because of the snow. If you decide to do that trail it's a 6km return hike, so it's easily doable in a morning or afternoon.

Peyto Lake and Bow Summit are high up our list for our return trip this summer and we're hoping not to experience snow in June, but who knows?

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake

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