Meet Ups & Mardi Gras [31/8]
Nina and Eleigh are two friends who I have known for well over a year now, both of whom I met online. The three of us met on tumblr with some others who we still keep in touch with. In February, I went to Amsterdam with my mum and met with Nina who lives in a town just outside the city. It was incredible to finally meet her in the flesh and yet Eleigh, who lives only an hour and a half away from my home, I had never met. Until now.
Eleigh, me and Nina facepainted and enjoying ourselves!
Nin planned a trip to the UK for the end of August to finally meet Eleigh and the pair invited me to Cardiff on the Saturday so we could all meet up and spend the day together. I drove up in the morning and after a hectic hunt for a parking space in the centre of Cardiff, I headed off on foot to find the girls.
My darling Eleigh, looking fabulous.
We planned to got to the LGBT Mardis Gras in the Millennium Stadium and I found the girls in McDonalds just around the corner. Eleigh had planned the trip with some college friends so there was quite a big group - everyone was very welcoming and kind, and they looked fabulous dressed in their rainbow colours and faces painted. El grabbed the face paint from her bag and quickly painted a rainbow on my face before we headed off to the Millennium Stadium to get me a ticket and join the celebrations.
The main stage.
Once inside the Stadium we had a look around the stalls - taking as many freebies as possible along the way, of course, so we were soon covered in badges and stickers from everywhere (we even had keyrings with our own fingerprints on!).
Gorgeous Nina, having fun.
We bought bracelets and flower chain headbands, we danced to the live music, we laughed, we filled out forms, we met new people and we generally had a great time together. Sadly, I had to leave early because I was working in the evening and the goodbyes were too soon.
I had a fantastic day with, not only Eleigh and Nina, but also with Eleigh’s friends who I had just met. They were all very lovely and we had a great day. However, I went specifically to see El and Nin and we had a fabulous time. I live far too close to Eleigh to not see her again and I hope we get the opportunity to do so. I love you both very much and we shall definitely do this again soon.
Nina and Eleigh just before I left.
What goes on tour, stays on tour [19-25/8]
In the (almost) week that I’ve been back in the UK, I’ve had some interesting developments. First off was surprising my best friend, Kathryn, at her house just after landing at Heathrow. We had a lovely day and she ensured that before I left, I had caught up on the five episodes of Teen Wolf I had missed while I was away. Classic us ;)
The next was my A level results in which I got the grades I needed to get into the uni of my choice, Lancaster, to read Theatre Studies next year. This included an A* in Drama which I was really happy with. I also had a lovely night out with people from school to celebrate - it was a great way to properly end the era of my Taunton School career having been with most of these people for the last ten years of my life.
Now I’m in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival. I guess this is the end of my Taunton School career - and what a good way to go - with the drama department.
Our play ‘Journey To X’ by Nancy Harris is about a group of school kids who are travelling to London to go to the X Factor as a cover for one of the girls getting an abortion. It’s an interesting play with a few comedic moments but what really matters is that we have a laugh while doing it.
Some caps from the show.
(L-R) Me, Rosie, Courtney
(L-R) Courtney, me, Ollie
(L-R) Me, Clem, Courtney, Jammy
We travelled up to Edinburgh on a coach - a twelve hour journey, can you believe it? That’s almost as long as my flight from Singapore! - in which we managed to learn most of our lines for the play. However, our tech rehearsal on arrival was not up to the standard we had hoped for - mostly my fault, I must admit. We then all had dinner at about 10pm from a takeaway place across the road from our flat. My main excitement of the first day was that our flat was located just four door down from The Elephant House, the cafe where J.K. Rowling is said to have written some of the Harry Potter books - my geek side was in overdrive!
This year, unlike the last time we came to the Edfringe, we had some new rules from Mr Kirby. The first was the fine system - you swear, you’re a fool, do anything the teachers don’t like and you get fined - then there’s the identity check - you must always have the playing card given to you on the first day with you or you get fined - and finally the Ass of the Day - one person dresses up as a donkey while at the Half Price Hut until you get to the theatre for the show.
Team talk outside the Half Price Hut.
First thing Monday morning we did some rehearsing in the flat while the teachers headed out to the Half Price Hut to advertise out show. Ollie was awarded Ass of the Day for foolish behaviour on the bus journey, but only had to wear it during rehearsal and not very long in public. Our first show went okay - the crowd wasn’t huge but it was more than the average Fringe audience (which is less than ten!) - and we got through it until then end which is obviously a good thing.
Ollie - the first Ass of the Day.
In the afternoon we wandered Edinburgh a bit and I found that I actually knew it quite well from last year. We bought some tickets for evening shows and ended up back in the flat before heading out. The first show we saw was ‘Titus Andronicus’, a Shakespeare play performed by an all-female cast. The play was phenomenal - the use of paint as blood, multi-roling actors, scene changes, just everything was incredibly well done.
After that our group split up, the girls - Rosie, Clem, Courtney and I - went to see an interpretation of the fairy tale 'Red Riding Hood'. It was interesting and rather amusing - especially when one of the actors offered Courtney and I biscuits and told me “cheers” wasn’t a word.
Tuesday morning it was straight back to selling our show and guess who was Ass of the Day - me! Apparently it was for generally being a Diva - really? Me? A diva? ;) Anyway, we spent the morning at the Half Price Hut before heading off to do our show. Afterwards, we had a pretty rare opportunity to see Steven Berkoff (the actor/writer/director/practitioner) perform in a play. It wasn’t actually the first time I had seen Berkoff live, which was actually a relief as I dozed off a few times. Nobody should take that to mean Berkoff was boring - he is, of course, a theatre great and his shows are incredible - I was just exhausted still from Indonesia.
Rosie, Theo and Courtney hard at work selling the show.
That evening we all went out together again to see a show called 'Late Night Gimp Fight'. It’s a comedy sketch show that has been running at the Fringe for a good few years and Alex, Ollie and I went last year as well. Both years it has been funny, if not verging on the offensive and inappropriate, but this year I found it much funnier and we laughed so hard! Obviously we were front row (as you do) and when at the end they began to sing ‘Do You Hear The People Sing?’ from Les Mis, Jammy, Ollie and I were pulled on stage, given cardboard cut out gimp masks and told to sing along to the interesting new lyrics of the musical theatre classic. It was hilarious!
The beginning of each day seemed to pass similarly to the one before, merely with a different Ass! The next few were Jeremy, then Rosie, then Jammy and finally Theo - all for ridiculous and no doubt unprecedented reasons. Everyone looked particularly fabulous in the wonderful costume and actually succeeded in selling a good few tickets. Wednesday was our best run of the show, Thursday was our best audience - laughing a lot and responding well to what we were doing - and Friday was our biggest audience. By the time Sunday rolled around, we only had one more show to do - back at school. I hope no one forgets their lines…
The other Asses!
(L-R) Jeremy, Jammy, Rosie, Theo
During the week we filled our time by getting around the Fringe and seeing as much as possible. On Wednesday we saw an adaption of 'Alice in Wonderland' put on by Oxford Uni students at lunch and then in the late afternoon we saw a play called 'Repertory Theatre', an extremely clever and amusing play focussing on a young playwright pitching his play to his dead father’s best friend and (spoiler alert!) killer. I stayed in the flat during the evening so I could get an early night, but a few of the others went out to catch late night shows.
On Thursday Kathryn came to see the show and I spent the afternoon with her before meeting up with everyone to paint Alex so he could be a living statue - comedy gold! In the evening Kathryn and I took her little sister, Eleanor, to see 'Morgana' - a tale of King Arthur set in a WWII bunker with only four actors - which was fantastic, before dropping Smell off and going on a Harry Potter trail around the city. Although we knew a lot of the information (and possibly more than the guide), we had a great time. After that I took Kath to a bar to have some birthday drinks as we never had a chance to before (I was in Indonesia!) and I ended up walking a Pimms-sodden Kathryn halfway to Waverly Station (while rather Pimms-sodden myself - they don’t call me Pimms for nothing!) and heading back to C venue to meet the others to watch 'Shit-Faced Shakespeare'!
Kathryn’s birthday drinks
Friday afternoon was spent painting yet another living statue - this time Mr Kirby - and watching in amusement as he posed for the crowds. In the evening Kathryn’s family took me out for dinner so I had eaten some relatively decent food at some point during the week. We had a lovely meal before they headed out to see a show and I went back to the flat - still exhausted!
The TS Living Statues!
(L-R) Alex, Ollie, Kirbs
Eventually Saturday rolled around and our final show and evening of the tour. After the show we cleared up before heading out to find some gifts for the teachers. I think we may have gone in almost every charity shop in Edinburgh on the hunt for a kilt and some X Factor winner singles. We had a good laugh and managed to pull in a good haul to give away that night at the last supper. We had a table and order booked at a place called Revolution near the flat but when we arrived at seven, we were told no under 18s were allowed in - even to eat - after six! Absolutely poor service! We had a frantic fifteen minutes trying to find a short notice table for twelve before our show started and managed to get two adjacent sixes in Pizza Express - luckily.
Through fining, identity checks and the living statues on the Mile we managed to raise a decent sum of money which went towards all of us having drinks and after eating our fill the awards of the tour were given out. Some of the best included a rice hat for Jeremy as the Most Racially Abused, a set of kitchen utensils for Courtney as the Domestic Goddess and a tiara for me at Diva of the Tour!
Diva and Photographer of the tour!
Kirbs loved his CDs and kilt and we all went to the Udderbelly (yes, the giant, upside down, purple cow) to see 'The Horne Section'. The show was brilliant - a comedic, music-filled show with special guest acts too. Sat in the front row with a sparkly tiara on my head, its fair to say I drew a bit of attention and even got a song written about me! It was a brilliant final night of the Fringe.
The next day another exceedingly long bus journey awaited us - home time. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival yet again and, even though I didn’t get to see All Time Low or We Are The In Crowd this time, I still had a memorable time that I loved every minute of.
Thank you to Miss Preece, Mr Waller and, of course, Mr Kirby. Not just for this year’s trip but for last year’s and for everything the three of you have done for me during my Taunton School career. Thank you also to the wonderful cast - Rosie, Ollie, Jammy, Clem, Courtney, Theo, Alex and Jeremy - who have made my last TS show fun. I’ll never forget this - see you for the final show!
Cast and Director at the Half Price Hut on Tuesday - featuring me as Ass of the Day!
(L-R) Mr Kirby, Jeremy, Theo, Alex, Ollie, me, Jammy, Rosie, Courtney, Clem
Home ain’t where the heart is anymore [15/8]
Cheesy, I know, but who doesn’t love a bit of Shania Twain every now and again. I grew up knowing the words to every single one of her songs and dancing around the kitchen singing to her with my mum. Now that I’m home, some lyrics seem to have more significance.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like being home. I missed my family, my friends, my car, proper Diet Coke, my own bed, my rain shower, that kind of thing - but I’m aching to go back to Indonesia. I miss everyone there so much - Caroline, Theresia, the dive guides, the diving, the sunbathing (when it was sunny), the yoga especially, the atmosphere, just everything. Now that I’m home, it feels like there’s so much missing from my everyday life. I feel like there’s so much I could be doing while I’m sat around doing nothing.
I have no solid plans really for the next year, just ideas floating around but now I’m starting to think that maybe I want to go back out again. Sooner than planned - maybe not to Indonesia, but just out - to work as a Divemaster somewhere. Just go someplace where I can meet people, dive everyday, have fun, do yoga, I don’t know. I just want to get away this year now. It’s the only whole year I will have to just go off and travel and work and dive. It seems like a good thing to do and then maybe next time I come home, I’ll be ready to be here.
The sinking of the Deathly Hallows [10/8]
Not quite your average blog post title, I think. It sounds like a cross between the Titanic and Harry Potter, except if it was made into a film, it would be neither a romantic tragedy nor a fantasy adventure, more along the Chuckle Brothers comedy line.
So I made a structure to put on the artificial house reef here at Two Fish Lembeh, as most DMs have done in the past. Mine - made from plastic tubing, a tyre, a hell of a lot of rope and the biggest triangular slab of concrete you could imagine - was in the shape of the symbol of the Deathly Hallows. It took a good few days to get it together, mainly the making of the concrete slab which had only the purpose of weighing down the structure. When it came to actually putting all the materials together to create my vision, it turns out I was mainly incapable of anything. Patson and James made the concrete as well as sawing and drilling the tubing and tyre. Even when I tried to join it all together by myself with rope I was pushed aside by Rein who told me I couldn’t tie secure knots! Thank you all of you anyway, it looks prefect.
Measuring out the sizes for my concrete slab.
Finally came the most important part - the sinking. I needed quite a bit of help because no one really could lift it alone so in the end we had Fenly, Rayen, Sandy, Doan, Rein and I trying to get the thing in the water and to the correct position over 100m out from shore and 15m deep. The boys were such a laugh - we had to take the thing in first to about waist deep and then run back for our dive kit and lift bags to help us carry it. None of the guys had fins and to get to the artificial reef, they all walked along the sea floor while holding it above them. It was almost like a crossover of the scene in Pirates of the Caribbean with Cap’n Jack and Will and the Chuckle Brothers! I could not stop laughing and I feel I was little help apart from being a consultant of where I would like it placed.
All done and dusted!
The guys messed around and we all had a laugh on the way back - Rayen had no dive kit and was sat on Rein’s tank on his alternate and they were all trying to swim but failing because they had no fins! At one point, they all grabbed my tank and tried to get me to swim them back but I just wasn’t strong enough. Sandy was turning my air on and off (giving me heart attacks) and Doan was being generally hilarious as usual.
I had such a great afternoon of hilarity and fun. I can say now that I’m really going to miss those guys when I leave. Thank you all for everything you’ve done to help me in these last two and a half/three weeks.
| Anonymous asked: Hey there. Congrats on finishing your DM course. I took mine two years ago in Bali. What made you choose Bunaken-Lembeh? I've been to Two Fish at Bunaken and Lembeh too, nice cozy place. Check out my blog, I have posted my pics from Bunaken and Lembeh. They're not very good yet, but if you enjoy marine life pics maybe you can follow my blog. Thanks. How was the "cap tikus"/palm wine?|
Thank you! I met Two Fish at the dive show in Birmingham last year and I just thought I hadn’t been to Indonesia before and Bunaken and Lembeh sounded more interesting and less touristy than Bali for example. To be honest, it was a bit of a whim decision…
I’m afraid you messaged me anonymously so I can’t see your blog but if you see this, feel free to message me again!
Ah, palm wine… funny story. For those not aware, palm wine is some kind of alcoholic beverage which all of the guys mix in a huge jug with cocacola and beer. This mixture is then shared between all of the guys and they then share with anyone present. They consider it quite rude to refuse and as a DM, I have been almost like staff and one of them so I get offered quite often. On the two occasions when I have actually drunk considerable amounts of the stuff - once because I was saving Caroline and the other because it was my Snorkel Test - I have found I remember very little of the night before the next morning. Palm wine seriously messes with you head. It’s good fun and we all have a great time hanging out with the guys but a word of warning to any new to palm wine - be careful!
Mornings after and nights before [8/8]
It’s so lovely to go back to diving without the pressure of wondering what else I have to do for my course. It’s so good to just have it done. While I now have the responsibility of being a divemaster, it’s good to not have to wake up and think “which skills do I have to do today?”.
I’ve had two lovely dives today on 'Aer Bajo' and 'TK II' where I finally saw my mimic octopus and wunderpus *dances underwater*. The weather was fantastic and most definitely sunbathing-worthy so Caroline, Theresia and I caught some rays in the surface interval. However, while I write this the rain is falling hard and heavy on the tin roof of the cafe.
Wunderpus at ‘TK II’
Tuesday night, the day I finished my DMT, was wonderful. We had a big celebration which I’m sure one of us remembers. Obviously I had to do the infamous Snorkel Test before Matt could officially proclaim me a divemaster but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The test consists of a lot of alcohol (mainly a palm wine and beer mixture), a mini assault course and a blindfolded mask and snorkel - I’m sure you can guess how it works. As someone who has little upper body strength, you can imagine the laughs as I attempted press ups! Thank you to Theresia for being my buddy and not letting me drown in alcohol and Dani for pouring palm wine in my hair!
The joys of the snorkel test, including my divemaster-required demonstration quality breathing technique!
After the test was done, the party continued and Doan somehow managed to take 240 photos on my camera in the space of two hours. I think we have a photographer in the making! I’ll post a few at a later date and they certainly helped jog my memory of the evening. A word to the wise - don’t attempt to do a yoga backbend while drunk, it’s not worth it!
The festivities continued…
- (L-R) Sandy, Doan, Rein, Feri
- (L-R) Rein, Doan, Caroline
- (L-R) Rein, Matt, Doan, Markko
- (L-R) Doan, me
I took a day out of the water yesterday and oversaw the making of my concrete base for my structure to go on the artificial house reef here in Lembeh. I have to say, I really needed that time out of the water, but today I was straight back in and such good dives too! Still very happy about the wunderpus!
Keep checking up for some more updates from my last week in Lembeh!
From turtles to snorkel tours; yoga to walks in the rain [6/8]
I have now been in Indonesia for over three weeks - I have done and been part of so many amazing things that I struggle to recall every single detail of it all. I have met incredible people and made fantastic memories, so good that I’ve had to extend my trip an extra six days. That doesn’t seem like much, I know, but I needed something. I just couldn’t bring myself to leave when I was supposed to.
I spent my first two weeks in Indonesia on Bunaken Island, a short boat ride from Manado. There I started my divemaster internship with Two Fish Divers and enjoyed a combination of fun diving, studying and assisting Dion, the instructor, on courses. I had a wonderful time and met great people - Joep and Sylvie, a couple who had both just completed their divemaster and were about to start their IDC, were so lovely. They were always very friendly and made me feel very welcome from the moment I arrived. I will most definitely keep in touch with both of them. Karoline, a fellow DMT, was also great. We did a lot of work together, such as rescue practices and mapping. My final special mention goes to my dive guide, Heskiel. He knew how much I love turtles and proceeded to find me numerous every time I dived with him. At the time, he had just completely his Open Water and was learning how to be a dive guide. I take great pride in the fact I was his first ever guest :)
Green Turtle on ‘Lekuan III’ in Bunaken
After nearly two weeks in Bunaken, I transferred to another Two Fish Divers resort on Lembeh Island, not too far off the coast from Bitung. I knew my time here was limited so we had to squash quite a lot of my course requirements into the time I had. However, I have, again, had such a wonderful time and met even more amazing people - so much so that I extended my trip by six days! At Lembeh they currently have a visiting yoga instructor, Caroline, and I found out relatively quickly how well I got along with her and another recently certified DM, Theresia. I now do yoga with them every morning from 0600-0700 and every afternoon from 1630-1730. After just three sessions, I found I could touch my toes - something which, in eighteen years of life, I have never managed before now! I have always had a relatively flexible back, however, so Caroline and I have been working on some more complicated back bends - I’ll post some photos once I manage them!
I can finally touch my toes!
(credit: Serenity Yoga)
However, aside from great DMs and staff, I have also met some great guests. Most come and go but there were a few which I was lucky enough to spend the best part of two weeks with. Alastair, his husband Davide and friend Roberto were staying in Bunaken while I was there and moved to Lembeh at almost the same time as me too. This really helped me settle in and it was lovely to have faces I knew when I transferred. Allie and I got along almost from the moment we met and when they all left, I was very sad. I miss them all, especially Allie talking geekily about his plants and flabellina nudibranches and boasting about all the Wunderpus Octopuses saw - of course, let us not forget the night dive squid chases! Other recognisable faces at Lembeh were Christian and Signe, a Danish couple who had been in Lembeh before Bunaken but decided to go back to Lembeh again because they loved it so much. They were so lovely and again, it was great to see people I knew after I transferred.
Flamboyant cuttlefish found on a night dive at ‘Aer Prang’
The last week I’ve been very busy getting a lot of things done for my DM. From taking a nightmarish group of snorkelers on a snorkel tour - a test of patience and a complete laugh for those taking part (i.e. Dani, Caroline, Theresia, Sandy and Rein) - to trying out sidemount when doing an intro to tec diving with Markko, the tec instructor.
My instructor, Dani, taking my request to “put everything in the wash tank” a little too literally after the snorkel tour
The weather recently has been quite sad and rainy and with the temperature dropping to a very lovely 23 degrees, everyone has been huddled up in hoodies and jeans - everyone, that is, apart from me. I love the rain, but in England it’s just too cold for me. Here, however, it is perfect. So while everyone has been hiding away from the ‘cold’, I’ve been taking strolls along the beach in the pouring rain. Everyone thinks I’m going insane!
(credit: Caroline Layzell)
Now I’ve completed my divemaster course and I have a week of fun diving and working as a DM. For more details on my course and how I’ve found it, see the Two Fish Divers blog where I have written weekly about my stay. I’m very excited to be able to stay on for a bit and enjoy myself. The diving in Lembeh is wonderful and there is no way in hell I’m leaving without seeing a Wunderpus!
The gorgeous blue bobtail squid (2cm) - so adorable you just want to squidge it ;)
Welcome to my blog - a place where I can make a record of all of the things I’m doing this year. Then maybe I can look back in a few years and remember just how much of a good time I had.