There’s a moment in Amy Baker’s Miss-Adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Life Advice While Backpacking Around South America that made me realise I was going to fall in love with this book straightaway.…
“What is that thing?” I thought to myself for the tenth time. I was on a bus to Stansted Airport; being an East Londoner, this is the most convenient airport to fly from when I go abroad. Looking out the window as I passed the area of Stratford, I saw a tall structure, red metal coiled around it. I had seen it every time I was on this bus, and yet I never thought to, you know, Google it, or ask someone, or figure it out. Not until that day a couple of months ago, when I did indeed whip out my phone and Google it.
“It’s a giant SLIDE?!” I thought to myself, and I stared at the structure again. Because just when you think London can’t get any cooler, or interesting, or full of things to do, it turns out that the city now holds the longest and tallest tunnel slide in the world.
I love this time of year, I really do. It’s not just the food and the decorations and the smell of the pine tree, it’s the time spent with family. This year, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to see all of my loved ones on Christmas day; my dad and sister Zalie, who both live in Winnipeg, my mum, who lives in Toronto, and my brother, who lives in Vancouver. We’ve already shared tons of laughs (and drinks) together, and the festivities will continue until I fly back to London on the 29th.
But OK, I’ll admit, I love the presents, too. Which brings me to the point of this blog post – I’d like to send ten gifts out to say thank you for another wonderful year of your comments, emails, messages, likes, and general support.
The memory is a vivid one: I’m sitting on my bed in Osaka, looking out the windows to the low, grey buildings sprawled out as far as the eye can see. I’m wearing a dress – I think it is black with little red and yellow flowers. My hair is up, of that I’m sure. My fingers are resting on the keyboard of my laptop, hesitating, hesitant.
My days of Livejournal were waning. That platform had hosted my first blog, back when I called myself Chapter Fourteen for no other reason than I like how those two words sounded together. I needed a new name, a new online persona. My Livejournal blog was almost solely about travel anyway, and at this point, 2008, I had already decided that I wanted travel to be a permanent and prominent part of my life. I remember that I tried to find the right words and then, like that, they appeared – This Battered Suitcase – and I registered my new blog immediately.
If you’ve read this blog long enough, or have ever glanced at my Media/PR page, you know that I get very suspicious of companies. There is no paid advertising on this blog, nor are there any sponsored links (not even hidden ones, what you see is what you get). While I’m willing to work with companies and tourism boards for complimentary trips and tours (like my visit to London Cru a few weekends ago), I have no desire to participate in anything that does not keep up with the theme of This Battered Suitcase, or that I think would not be beneficial to readers. I also almost always turn down product reviews.
So when Tom emailed me, I responded politely but firmly. “I won’t write a post specifically about your bracelet, or even guarantee that I will put El Camino in the title of a post,” I wrote. And yet here I am, two months later, doing both of those things. Why?
Some of you are brand new to This Battered Suitcase, and some of you have followed it for years, maybe even since Livejournal (hi, Naomi). This is just a thank you for being such a supportive, creative, incredible group of people. As a small thank you, I have a copy of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air to give away; fitting, perhaps, because of my last post. I haven’t read it yet, only Into the Wild, but I’ve heard it is absolutely amazing. I will also throw in some treats from London (I hope you like tea and chocolate). I have some other exciting giveaways coming up in the future, but, on this slightly cloudy day in London, I felt I wanted to do something right now.