Coming Home

I love travel. I never thought I’d be the travelling type, but ever since that first trip to New Zealand I’ve been hooked. I love the excitement of exploring new places, or revisiting somewhere I really love. As someone who lives alone spending a month or two abroad with a group, having company for dinner or going sight-seeing together, makes a nice change, and I enjoy building friendships with people I may otherwise never meet.

But there is something special about coming home. Even though in the moment I am usually sad to have come to the end of another amazing experience, coming home reminds me how grateful I am for the constants in a way of life that often lacks routine. A big hug from my dad in arrivals at the airport, eating Mam’s amazing Sunday roast, spending quality time with my sister, catching up with other family and friends, makes me realise how much I value these people in my life, and how much I’ve missed them while I’ve been away.

My house is my little haven, where I can relax and recharge my batteries ready for my next trip. Being on my own means I don’t have to worry about disturbing anyone when jet lag keeps me awake at all hours of the night (it’s 4am as I’m writing this!). I can unpack my suitcase in the living room and leave piles of washing around without annoying anyone, and go smoothie crazy because I’m so fed up of fries, pizza and chicken and rice! People wonder why I bother having my own place when I’m away so much, but I appreciate it so much more than I would if I was here every day.

Travelling the world is amazing, but home is where the heart is, and absence really does make the heart grow fonder. ❤️

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Hong Kong vs Singapore

I’ve been here two weeks and this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write! The days have been filled with working, sight-seeing and sunbathing and I’m ehxausted from all  three ☺️

Before coming to Singapore I was told that it was the same as Hong Kong, just cleaner. In some ways I would agree; the transport system is extremely efficient and cheap, there are shopping malls everywhere, the food is very similar and so is the climate. But I also think there are many ways in which they’re very different. Singapore is extremely clean – I don’t think I’ve seen a single bit of litter; the law is so strict here that littering just doesn’t happen. Hong Kong has a buzz and vibe about it 24/7, whereas Singapore feels less hectic and a lot more classy (or, as someone here put it, Hong Kong is more ‘real’). Whilst they are both very hot, Singapore hasn’t felt as humid (my hair is a lot happier here!), although today is the exception due to the thunderstorm that was lurking around all morning, hence very swollen hands and feet!

The first week went by in a blur as I struggled with jet lag and the first few working days, but last weekend I was finally starting to adjust and managed to do some exploring. Saturday evening we enjoyed a Chinese meal at Boast Quay, sat right by the river, and then went for drinks at the Fullerton Bay Hotel where we watched the sound and light show that happens every evening around Marina Bay Sands. The following day I enjoyed a trip to the Botanic Gardens where they have the most amazing display of orchids – if you’re into flowers it’s definitely a place to visit!

Another week of work followed, but I was working in Paragon, one of the main shopping centres on Orchard Road – a place for the rich and famous with rows and rows of designer shops. Thankfully my lunch break wasn’t long enough for me to be tempted by all the amazing bags and shoes on display!

This weekend came with a bit of upheaval as we were told we had to move rooms due to scheduled maintenance, so I’ve moved from floor 10 to floor 22 and now have the most amazing view! Plus a coffee machine, which would be great if I liked coffee! Despite the move I still managed a visit to Little India, where I wandered around Mustafa, a 24 hour shopping centre that sells everything you could think of, from watches to baby food! It was very hectic, and at times very tacky, so I moved onto Arab Street which had a very turkish feel with shops selling pashminas and rugs. The evening was spent having another cocktail (or mocktail in my case) looking out over Marina Bay, and then a visit to the Singapore Night Festival. There were various light shows, live music and craft stalls, and at 10.30 we were still melting in the heat and eating ice lollies!

Today’s plans were thwarted by bad weather, but we did manage a quick trip to Gardens by the Bay this afternoon. It’s a very modern take on a garden/park area but really beautiful and so peaceful considering it’s so close to the city. I will definitely be going back to explore a bit further when the humidity isn’t so bad and I can breathe more easily!

Someone asked me yesterday which I prefer, Hong Kong or Singapore, but I don’t think I have a favourite. They are different, but I love them both. ❤️


Life in a Hotel

Tomorrow I fly to Singapore for my second long trip of the year. After spending 7 weeks in Hong Kong I have a fairly good idea of what I need to take with me to survive life in a hotel, and thought I’d share my top hotel living tips!

When you’re suffering from jet lag, or are exhausted after a long working day, some home comforts are essential! Even though temperatures in the Far East are often above 30C, air conditioning means hotel rooms can be chilly, so I never go without a comfortable pair of joggers to curl up in during the evening. At home I very rarely spend a night without a hot water bottle so I have a small one I take everywhere with me, and it makes such a difference when I’m tired, stressed or anxious (I’ve even been known to take it in my hand luggage with the idea of asking for it to be filled on a long haul flight…yet to be done but I’m sure it’ll happen at some point!).

Hotel toiletries are fine for a short stay, but when away for a long time I think it’s worth taking products you’re used to using. To avoid excess luggage weight I transfer most things to smaller bottles, which also means more room in the case for all the shopping when I come home! (The picture below is partly to demonstrate, and partly to show off my new Cath Kidston toilet bag which I am totally in love with!)



Whilst there are cheap laundrettes available to avoid expensive hotel laundry bills (in HK I had a load of laundry done for £3!) there are some clothes I prefer to hand wash, so washing detergent is a must, and this time I am also taking some fabric conditioner, because nobody likes crunchy underwear…


Dealing with the humidity is a huge issue for me and my hair. Remember that Friends episode with Monica in Barbados? That’s me when I step out of the hotel! So for the sake of everyone around me I am going fully armed with hair products this time – I will not be defeated by humidity!


Tea. I love a good cup of tea, I can’t function properly in the morning without a large brew. But for some reason in hotels they think we want to drink out of cups designed for the Borrowers. So this time I’m taking my travel mug, a large bag of my favourite blend, and some dried milk (yes I know it’s not quite the same, but it’s not too bad and I can’t drink black tea for 5 weeks straight!).

And finally, entertainment. It’s all very well having a huge TV at the foot of your bed, but when all you can watch is BBC News it begins to lose its appeal! Hopefully with some careful packing I will be able to take my MacBook, disk drive and a box set to keep me entertained when I’m too tired to go out, or when a tornado keeps me trapped in the hotel (really hoping the latter doesn’t happen…!). Plus my kindle is fully loaded for those first few sleepless, jet lagged nights.

So those are my top hotel essentials, plus a small bottle of bubble bath if I have room, because using shower gel to create bubbles just isn’t the same! Hotel living has it’s perks (no cooking, washing up, cleaning…) but a touch of home makes all the difference. 😊





Life On The Road

One of the first things people say when I tell them I’m a freelance musician is ‘that sounds so glamorous!’; and in many ways it is. Watching the sun rise over Cape Horn, sailing through the Panama Canal, sunbathing on Caribbean beaches and staying in beautiful hotels in Asia – these are definite perks of the job!

But there are many more very unglamorous aspects of the job that people don’t even think about. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to get changed into concert outfits cramped in a tiny public toilet, trying not to drop anything on the floor because you don’t know the last time it was cleaned. Or the endless hours of driving from one gig to another, arriving late and leaving early, surviving on takeaway tea and sandwiches full of mayonnaise (I hate mayo!!). For every good hotel there’s a couple of questionable B&Bs – memories of driving to Asda on a cold, dark, wet December evening in Ireland to buy antibacterial wipes to clean the bathroom because I don’t want to spend a week surrounded by other people’s hair and dirt. Whilst working on cruise ships is often exciting, 8am rehearsals because that’s the only time the piano is available, are not…

And it can get lonely. Being a pianist, most of the time it’s just me and my piano, and the occasional conversation with my satnav. Staying at hotels by myself and eating alone in restaurants is now the norm, and whilst most of the time this is fine (I now quite enjoy saying ‘table for one’ to see what reaction I get – it varies) there are times when I would really like company and conversation that isn’t work related.

BUT, and it’s a big but, nothing is more satisfying than earning a living from doing what I love most and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Just remember, for every glittering performance onstage, there is a backstage full of hard work, dodgy tea and half eaten sandwiches.


Saying Goodbye

I haven’t posted for a few weeks now, but as I’m sat on a plane with 12 hours of flying stretched out in front of me I decided now would be a good time to reflect on the trip! I can’t believe 7 weeks have come and gone, it feels like yesterday that I was exploring Hong Kong for the first time. It’s been the most amazing experience, despite the exhausting work schedule! By the middle of the trip the city was beginning to feel like home, and I felt really comfortable finding my way around. There are so many things to see and do, and I loved the buzz of being in the heart of the city, exploring street markets and generally soaking up the feel of the place. Here are a few of the things I will/won’t miss:

5 things I will miss

  1. The amazing skyline of Hong Kong island – it really is the most stunning view!
  2. Being able to shop until 10 at night – definitely a city that never sleeps
  3. Walking around late in the evening without a coat/jacket/jumper and not being cold
  4. The kind-hearted, generous people
  5. Cheap, efficient, easy to use public transport

5 things I won’t miss:

  1. The constant battle between the humidity and my hair!
  2. Pedestrians’ complete lack of spatial awareness
  3. Torrential rain like I’ve never seen before
  4. The embarrassment of not being able to use chopsticks properly!
  5. Burping and spitting in public areas – I mean, really?! 😣


One of the things I love most about having a job that takes me all over the world is meeting, and making friends with, new and interesting people from all walks of life. I have met some great people on this trip, and also become more confident in myself. I’ve come a long way from my first trip abroad when I was so homesick I couldn’t eat; now I don’t get homesick at all!

So that’s it, my visit to Hong Kong is over. Hopefully I’ll get to go back, but in the meantime it’s time to start planning for my next trip…Singapore here I come!


The Green Green Grass of Home…

…ok well not quite, but my move to the New Territories has made me realise how much of a country girl I actually am! After three weeks of 24 hour noise and busyness, the laid back pace of my new hotel has been a very welcome change. I was a bit worried I’d get lonely, being the only female colleague staying here, but actually it’s been a lot of fun and I’ve obtained a new nickname – ‘the Welsh dresser’ 😄

My room at the Hyatt Regency, Sha Tin is a long stay suite so I have a microwave, fridge, toaster, dining table and sofa! It makes a big difference being able to cook basic meals (jacket potatoes, beans on toast) so I can occasionally have a quiet night in rather than having to go and forage for food. Saying that, this week we went to the professor’s dining club at the Chinese University  and it was great to experience a really authentic Chinese dining area; plus the sweet and sour pork was so good!image

We’re halfway through our time here now, and life in the UK feels like a distant memory – it’s amazing how quickly you can settle into a routine and way of life in a country so different to your own! Last weekend the exhaustion really kicked in, so I’m making a point of taking time to relax this weekend, which is difficult when there’s so much I want to see and do. We did manage a visit to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery today, thankfully the weather was a bit cooler (about 23C!) which made climbing 400 steps a bit easier! The whole pathway up to the monastery is lined with Buddah statues, and the main temple is stacked floor to ceiling with little Buddahs and is very ornate. Photography inside the temple wasn’t allowed, but the view from the top was lovely, and you could really notice the difference in the air; it was a lot fresher up there!

So there’s only three weeks left and I have a feeling they are going to fly by! It’s been an amazing experience so far and I’m so grateful my job allows me to have these incredible opportunities ☺️

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Rain, Rain, Go Away…

I thought it rained a lot in Wales. I thought coming to Asia would mean sun and blue sky. I brought sun cream, shorts, a maxi dress and even bought a new bikini. So far I’ve had very little use out of any of these things! The sun seemed to be making an appearance this morning so after packing (today I move hotels) I thought I’d make the most of my final few hours here and venture up to the roof for a spot of sunbathing. Next thing I know it’s pouring down with rain, so instead I’m back in bed! The good thing is that rain showers tend to be short-lived, so a trip to Hong Kong island is on the cards for this afternoon.

It’s been another busy week of work and this week I was working up in the sky on floor 15 of a high rise building. One glance out of the window was enough to make me dizzy so I was grateful that the blinds were kept shut!image

On Friday I went on an impromptu trip to Temple Street night market; a long street lined with stalls selling things that are very sparkly and very fake! Everything from children’s toys, clothes, ‘designer’ handbags, and chopsticks. Bartering is expected, though you have to be quite ruthless, walking away if they refuse your offer – nine times out of ten the seller will call after you and agree to the price! I was probably too much of a pushover and should have driven a harder bargain; I will definitely be going again to practise my haggling skills! My favourite purchase was a glow in the dark ‘Cath Kidston’ phone cover – classy!

Today I say goodbye to Tsim Sha Tsui and move to Sha Tin. As much as I’ve enjoyed being here I’m looking forward to being out in the country, away from the noise and busy streets of Kowloon. The one thing I will miss is the view of Hong Kong island; at night it’s stunning and I can’t imagine ever getting fed up of looking at it 😊image


Metro Madness

It’s the weekend! Finally, after five long working days, I get two days off. What’s not so great is that my planned long lie-in hasn’t happened as my body is now programmed to wake up at 6am every day (I realise that for a lot of you this is normal, but I’m a freelancer so working a regular five day week doesn’t happen that often!).

This week I experienced using the MTR for my daily commute, and was a bit worried that I’d end up wandering aimlessly around the streets of Hong Kong after changing at the wrong station or getting on the wrong line. But after being shown the route on the first morning it was surprisingly easy to find my way – the metro system here makes a lot more sense than the London Underground! There are maps on the trains that light up, showing you where you need to change for each line/direction, and also which side of the train you need to exit from. Then it’s a short walk to the other side of the platform; none of this walking for miles business to get to the next line! The trains are spotless – no eating or drinking is allowed – and the MTR stations are like shopping malls with eateries and designer shops.

It’s the journey to and from the metro stations that is actually the stressful bit. People here walk VERY slowly, and as someone who likes to walk with purpose, this can be very frustrating, particularly at the end of a long day when I have a bad case of hangry going on! Trying to overtake is a challenge as there doesn’t seem to be any logical pathway, so dodging in and out of the crowd is a bit of a mission! This is especially true when it’s raining, and you add a sea of umbrellas into the equation. Most of this week has been wet, but rather than using my umbrella to protect me from the rain, it became my ‘parting the crowd’ implement as I battled my way through (usually going against the main stream of people) whilst also trying to avoid my eyeball ending up on the end of someone else’s umbrella spike.

Yesterday morning I saw my first glimpse of blue sky since the day after we arrived. The constant low lying cloud can become quite depressing, and often at breakfast you can’t see HK island because it’s shrouded in cloud/smog. When I arrived at Tseung Kwan O yesterday (the area I was working in), the tops of the apartment buildings  were lost in the cloud, which can’t be much fun if you live up there!image

Tseung Kwan O didn’t seem to be a very cosmopolitan area, and so I got used to being stared at as I wandered around during my lunch break, being the only Western person in the shopping centre. The centre seemed to be a place where the older generation came to do their shopping or just sit and watch the world go by – there were also quite a few people doing their stretches when I arrived first thing in the morning!

So I am now a fully fledged Hong Kong commuter; next week will bring a different route, but I will worry about that on Tuesday morning! First it’s time to enjoy a well deserved rest and some more sightseeing. 😊


Pink Flamingos

Finally back in my hotel room after an exhausting day of exploring on my second day off. Plans to go up Victoria Peak were abandoned when we woke up to low cloud, drizzle and wind this morning, and I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to get much done, but it turned out to be a very productive day! I took a walk around Kowloon park this morning, where they have an aviary full of tropical birds, and beautiful flamingos. It’s such a surreal setting; lush, green vegetation and tropical animals set against a backdrop of skyscrapers and city noise.

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This afternoon saw us sat on the Star Ferry heading over to Hong Kong island. It was my first real experience of walking along the streets of the island; if you don’t like crowds this definitely isn’t the place for you! It makes Kowloon seem like a country village – there are people everywhere, traffic is crazy and buildings are crammed together making it feel almost claustrophobic. We navigated our way to Tim’s Kitchen, a Michelin star dim sum restaurant. Not having tried dim sum before I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I loved it! Well, I loved the barbecued pork puffs and buns; not so keen on the vegetable rice rolls, which were too slimy looking for my liking! As we arrived two minutes before last orders for lunch, we had the place to ourselves and it was so good to enjoy an oasis of calm after battling the crowds!

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Feeling revived after lunch, we went on to Man Mo Temple, a stereotypical Chinese temple where locals come to worship the god of literature and the god of war. The interior is very ornate, with gilt plaques on poles and traditional lanterns; as well as incense sticks, there are scores of incense spirals hanging from the ceiling, and the smell was so intense it was a relief to go back outside!

So that’s me signing off for a few days as I get ready to start the second working week. I won’t have the luxury of a taxi for my commute this week, which means tomorrow will be my first day of navigating my way around the MTR, Hong Kong’s metro system. Let’s hope I don’t get lost!

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Ferries, Taxis and Fried Rice

I can’t believe I’ve been in Hong Kong for a week already! I’m so happy to have survived a week of settling in, working and coping with jet lag and today I feel a lot more like myself after my first proper night’s sleep and a lie in!

The first two days were a hazy blur of finding our way around and absorbing lots of information. By day 2 the effects of jet lag were in full swing, but refusing to give in and hide in my room we took a ferry ride over to the island of Cheung Chau. It was a huge contrast to the constant hustle and bustle of mainland Hong Kong; seafood restaurants line the front where you can sit and look out onto the rows of colourful boats docked in the harbour, and bikes are the main mode of transport. We stopped for lunch at one of these restaurants – not being a fan of seafood I was a bit limited for choice but the rice tasted really good (though I don’t think the kitchen would have passed UK food hygiene standards!) Conversation was constantly interrupted by the noise of trailers being towed right past our table, but it all added to the local dining experience! image

A post lunch walk and paddle in the sea finished off our visit, and sitting outside on the journey home meant we were able to watch the amazing skyline as we sailed back into Hong Kong island 😊

Then it was time to prepare for the first working week; I was ‘fortunate’ to be provided with a taxi for my daily commute, though I can’t say it was a particularly relaxing experience! Without my seatbelt on I would have spent the journey sliding across the back seat, and maintaining a safe distance behind the vehicle in front is definitely not a priority! But it did mean I didn’t get lost on my way to work, and I felt like a celebrity arriving back at the hotel, having the taxi door and hotel door opened for me (that’s where the similarity ends!).

So all in all an exhausting but enjoyable first week; the rain is easing off (when it rains it really rains), so it’s time to make the most of my two days off and do some more exploring…