Leaving on a jet plane...I think.

I’ve ruined a lot of things, for a lot of people, in the past few years. I’ve broken hearts by recommending devastating (‘in a good way’) books, I once hinted a little too heavily about the twist in a particular film, I told a few close friends the shocking secrets behind Starbucks’ coffee gleaning process…I’ve even done that glass-shattering ‘spoiler alert’ thing a few times when I’ve pointed out to others a person’s distinct quirks (e.g. ‘he talks with his hands’, ‘they say ‘totally’ a lot’).

However, I’d say the biggest and worst thing I’ve ruined, multiple times in recent years, has been my family’s holidays.

 (Photo: Erin Veness)

In 2014, the year I graduated, we were set to fly to Kefalonia for a summer holiday. I then had to be rushed into hospital for Brain Op #1.

In 2015 we’d booked to go to Kefalonia again. I was told I needed surgery – again. Yep, Brain Op #2 scuppered those plans – and we have since decided that we must never go to Kefalonia as a family. The mere prospect of the place is cursed.

Clearly, these disasters weren’t enough for my inner holiday-ruining demonic creature. This year it got creative. Not long after planning a long-awaited family trip to Australia – to see our extended family, celebrate Nana's milestone birthday and just have a break – my guts properly busted. They kept us guessing and gave us hope for a while, though. I thought I’d be alright; Bowel Op #1 happened a fairly safe 8 weeks before I would be flying long haul, but then BOOM! Bowel Op #2 suddenly had to happen, 2 weeks before the flights, and just like that I’d derailed yet another adventure.

It all worked out of course; little sis went to Oz alone and had a wonderful time while mama and papa took care of me at home, we got all our £££ back and we collectively made the decision to instead spend Christmas out there, with our family, on the Gold Coast. And after making that decision I think we realised how much better that would be – not just because the weather will be 30-40 degrees C (strewth!!) but also because we’ll get to share a magical time of year with the relatives we hardly ever see, and that’ll be especially lovely and a much-needed change as our last couple of Christmases in the UK have been…lacking.

 (Photo: Erin Veness)
(Apparently awkwardly avoiding the camera/looking for spaceships)

Yes, it all got sorted and exciting new plans were made. Best of the bad, etc. etc.

And I’ve made my peace with my body now, after hating it on and off for the past 3 years. I have always loved it, don’t get me wrong, even when it let me down…especially when it fought my corner and helped me back up…but I hated it worryingly intensely when it let others down. Y’know?

So. Here we are. It’s 3 days until I fly away to Australia, for 2 months.
It’s about 5 months since my last tummy surgery (but trust me, sometimes it feels like yesterday) and well, I’m all good. Have been for a few months, really. Yet I have this gnawing feeling, this high-pitched mocking voice at the back of my mind, that won’t allow me to fully relax.

Something will happen…it won’t be that easy……you’ll ruin it again…for everyone……it always happens…

I touch wood now. I tell people I’m ‘doing okay…for now!’ and tap my fingers subtly on the side of the chair I’m sitting on. I will never say ‘I’m good’, or ‘I’m 100% completely healthy’ (I mean tbf, who’d say that anyway?! That’s a weird response to ‘how are you?’, imo…), I will always be hesitant and looking over my shoulder. Wary of jinxes.

I didn’t properly process the fact that I’d be flying away, going on this big magical trip I’d wanted to experience since my third year of uni when I made that my official Post Grad Plan, until recently. Last week, in fact. I kept waiting for something to, ermm, crop up. I’d check myself every day – how’s my head? Does my tummy hurt? When did I last poop?!! – and avoid making any proper plans for the trip, any lists of places I wanted to go and people I wanted to see, because I didn’t want to have too many things to cancel, and too many people to let down.

Because that’s what I do. I let everyone down.

You know when you’re doing something to yourself, mentally, and you’re totally aware of it, but you still can’t stop it? That’s what this was. I would even tell people ‘I’m meant to be going. I know I should be, but I’m not letting myself believe it yet.’ Then I’d laugh, and tack on a ‘silly brain I’ve got, eh?’ or something, and that would be that.

Then last week, something clicked. I was telling yet another person about my Christmas plans, and…my heart started pounding. My head swirled. My feet itched. It finally sunk in, and I eventually finally accepted it: I’m going.

And of course, my body fell apart.

I broke out in spots, angry little things all around my mouth, and I found myself rushing to the loo, bent over in pain, several times a day – which felt all too familiar. I booked in to see my GP only to have him tell me that no, I don’t have another infection or obstruction, I’m just experiencing stress-related IBS and skin problems.

Ahh, so…the admittance, the acceptance that I’m going…that’s making me ill?! I can’t do anything right!

That was last week. In the past few days I’ve been cramming in day trips, friend visits, business meetings, consultations, leg waxing (it’ll be 30-40 degrees, guys!!) and general scheduling, online and off. And today, I started packing. I am currently sitting in my room, sipping from a mug of nettle tea with a scoop of pure antioxidant mixed in, the cat curled up next to me – his head resting on Anna Kendrick’s essay collection, his butt on top of this week’s Stylist – and an open, half-full (see? I’m optimistic now!) suitcase at the foot of my bed. Its contents may just be a selection of uber-cheerful H&M playsuits, a dozen books, some Christmas presents for the Aussies, a box of Shreddies for Nana and a stupid amount of Original Source shower gel (£1 in Boots right now, people! You’re welcome) …but it’s a start. It’s a definitive move.

It’s happening. I’m going.

Almost 4 years since I was sat at my desk in my rented student home, trying to ignore the sound of my evil housemates having hysterical (but thankfully, always brief) sex, devastated after learning I wouldn’t be studying that MA I’d applied for as the course was being scrapped, and just getting that shy inkling that maybe, just maybe, I could do what my Dad did and f*ck off to Australia, all by myself for the first time, to explore and experience new and different things…I’m doing it. Wish me luck?

(Photo: Erin Veness)

(I’ll still be online, albeit intermittently – and bear in mind my replies etc. will be slower given the time difference, blah blah blah.)


  1. I'm so excited for you Grace to finally have this trip you've been dreaming about for ages! This post is beautifully written (as always) - but can't wait to hear about your adventures in Australia as I'm currently a third year undergrad and planning to F*** off to Australia next year! So looking forward to hearing all about it! Christina xoxo

    1. Thanks so much, gorgeous! So excited to hear you're also planning to adventure in Oz. I'll try and post helpful travel content on here that you can refer to before you go, perhaps!

  2. Grace, what a gorgeous post! I can't wait to hear about your next adventure in Oz xx Stephaniex

  3. I'm so glad you get to go on this trip of a lifetime and am looking forward to hearing about your travels! Where in Oz are you going? I just moved to Melbourne so if you're there and want some company, feel free to hit me up! :)


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