It may have been about three months since my last blog post, and at least four months since I was last active on social media, but I’m sure you’ll all be glad to know that my concept of time has not changed one bit. My laptop clock says 22:18 and I’m sat here in the university library in a big charity shop fleece (£5!!) with a blanket over my knee and a flask of tea. This table is really wobbly. It’s kind of like a small, tall round table that you might find in a bar, and I’ve only realised just how unstable it is now that I’ve started typing.
The library is surprisingly busy – by that I mean it’s not busy at all, but with five people just in this one section it’s busier than I expected. Do students have nothing better to do?
But I’m not here to talk about that, I’m here to catch you up on what exactly has been going on in my life which kept me away from the blog for so long. The answer isn’t particularly momentous. Sure, I’ve been up to some very interesting things, but there’s no single reason why I took a break from On The Fly.
I suppose it came down to just being a bit tired of it. The first half of lockdown was a great opportunity for me to really put all my time into the blog – and I mean, all my time. If I wasn’t writing I was tweaking layouts, and if I wasn’t running around the house collecting props and chasing sunlight then I was planning photo ideas. It was really fun to get creative with my Instagram posts and push the engagement, researching hashtags and the likes, and I would never have devoted so much time to it under normal circumstances. Ultimately though, it was time consuming and short-lived. I couldn’t keep that up forever, although I did learn a lot that I can put to use in a much more low-key way in future.
It wasn’t just burnout though. I found myself questioning the point of the blog. If I wanted engagement then I felt like I had to fit my posts into certain parameters, and if I wanted to write freely and personally, then did I want all the views? I’m quite happy with my little corner of the internet to share my experiences with. And, let’s not forget, my gap year had changed drastically and travel was nonexistent, so a gap year travel blog became pretty redundant.
Did those reasons warrant a five-month hiatus? Absolutely not. But after taking almost a year to fully getting into the routine of planning, writing and engaging, and indeed getting comfortable with voicing my opinions to potentially thousands of people across all my platforms, every day I spent offline made the thought of even posting a random Instagram story even more daunting.
The thing is, I really enjoy my blog. I enjoy the writing, even though sometimes I don’t write good. I love the people, and honestly, I enjoy using Instagram. It’s fun!
So, I’m back, this time with a fluid and flexible blog which can be about whatever the hell I want. I’ll enjoy taking photos for Instagram but stop worrying about engagement, I’ll Tweet whatever random thoughts I feel the need to share, and I’ll continue to ignore the angry red Yoast face in the bottom corner of my screen.
But Fizz, really what have you been doing?
My last post, Haircuts and Road Trips, went live on the somethingth of August, but really, I wasn’t active then either. It was a collection of thoughts inspired by, but not in direct response to, Bill Fonda’s weekend after lockdown post. I drove down to stay at my dad’s place in Portishead for a few days and wrote it on a balcony overlooking the estuary, inbetween walks through the marina. It was nice to write again, but I scheduled it to post in a few day’s time, assuming I’d go back in to polish the rough edges. But I didn’t. And it posted. Oh well.
(For anyone who did read that post, I have now had a much better haircut and I’m finally satisfied.)
On my birthday we went camping to Rutland, where we’ve been visiting annually since I was a kid, and met up with some old friends for a few days, enjoyed a lovely pub dinner, some fantastic brights starry skies and lots of paddleboarding. I went back to work at the dental practice, although the pool stayed shut (I left a pair of joggers and a hoodie in my locker before lockdown…I miss them). It was a joy to see all the lovely staff and patients again, even though I’m sure I distracted them with my unrivaled sex appeal in my lovely plastic gown. The gowns were an adventure in themselves. The blue ones were the easiest to don and doff in a hurry (and I did spend 90% of my post-Covid working life in a hurry) but we ran out of them quickly. The white ones were a million times too big and came on a roll like oversized sandwich bags, and we had to tear the pre-made perforated lines ourselves to assemble them. The reusable yellow ones were the sexiest of all, especially when paired with pink gloves. All three were disgustingly hot and clung to us with sweat, got caught on everything including instruments, the suction, and patient’s heads, and made a racket when moving around the surgery. The new masks were also immense fun. My favourite thing about them was the permanent upside-down V mark they left across my face and the bruise on my throat – but if doctors and nurses can wear respirators for 12hr+ shifts then I could manage. Seriously, wear your flimsy little cloth mask in shops and stop complaining.
Did you ask for all that detail? No, you did not. Moving on.
I was incredibly lucky to manage a week’s getaway in Trento, Italy, which at the time had one of the lowest infection rates in Europe. Madonna di Campiglio, a gorgeous skiing town in winter, is also a quaint location in summer, with brilliant hiking routes and friendly locals. We were pretty much the only foreign tourists there, and the weather was a perfect mix of sun, breeze and thunderstorms. I spent a perfect week exploring the town, hiking and enjoying some of the best food and company ever. Our last day was spent hopping buses and trains back to Milan ready for our morning flights home. We stopped in Verona for a few hours and walked all around the city, taking in the sights. It was hard to leave, and I spent a few hours the next day alone with my thoughts in Vienna airport – because direct flights are nowhere to be found.
After Italy I took a short road trip to the lake district with a friend, before I finally turned my focus to uni, which was a rapidly approaching reality that I had to accept. My simple days of work, chill, sleep were over, as was my financial independence! But apart from a few bumps in the road – namely the most confusing period of self-isolation that you could imagine – it’s been great so far. Weird, but great. Sure, I’m paying 9k for some powerpoints and sure, I have to remind myself to go for a daily walk or run just so that I don’t spend 100+ consecutive hours inside by accident, but really it’s great to finally be here. I was definitely ready, and felt so much better about the prospect of it than I did that time last year – proof that the gap year was the right choice, not that I ever doubted it. I couldn’t ask for better flatmates either, which is lucky since we literally have no choice but to be together!
My little brush with Covid was fun, in so far as the uni moved me into a proper swanky hotel with a massive bed and snazzy shower. Less fun once I realised that true isolation has a greater effect on me than I was expecting and having no sense of taste or smell, as well as not talking to anyone all day, is super depressing. Reach out to your friends! Still, I’m lucky it was such a mild case and I went home for a few days after that – god knows I needed it.
Currently the most exciting part of my day is figuring out how much I can taste, which is something that seems to change on an hourly basis. I could eat the same meal two days in a row and experience it vastly differently. Sometimes it feels like a waste of food and cooking effort, but hopefully it’ll come right soon (after writing this I met someone who still can’t smell after getting Covid in April, soooo…)
It’s now 23:09 and my tea is still hot. Not warm – hot. And miraculously I’ve survived this whole time without trying to drink it through my mask. My laptop however is screaming at me to give it a break. Poor thing always has 16 windows and 294 tabs open. So I’ll give it what it wants, and call it a night. No doubt I’ll catch you up on many more of my adventures over the next few posts. Keep an eye on the blog and Instagram for Italy pictures!
Thank you for reading and welcoming me back to the wonderful world of blogging. I hope you are all well 🙂