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Why home is the worst part of travel

I haven’t wrote in a while where I have been so busy but after a crazy summer I decided to come “home” to rest and felt it was what I needed. If you have travelled before and returned back home you will all know this feeling I am about to talk about and its not a nice one, in fact for me its the worse part of traveling.

Since I left home in July 2017 home has always been a place in the back of my mind where my family and friends were but not somewhere I missed. I returned home in May to surprise everyone for 3 weeks before heading off again and in the 10 months of being away I changed a lot and had some of the best experiences of my life. I had travelled before a couple months and new this feeling a little but nothing prepared me for it this time coming home or now being back again.

Picture this you travel the world expereincing things dreams are made of from swimming with sharks to watching sunsets from the beach in a hammock exploring places you didn’t even know existed. Spending your days making hundreds of new friends who you share all this incredible stuff with hitch hike through old towns and getting completely lost and partying under the stars. You put yourself totally out of your comfort zone everyday to meet new people or get help finding somewhere from someone who doesn’t speak a word of the language. Experiences you would never in your normal life before travel find yourself in. You laugh, you cry, you love, you grow to come home and sit on your bed and feel like none of these things even happened like the last months of all this greatness didn’t exist and were just a dream which flashed by in the blink of an eye. As the days pass you begin to notice more that nothing changed at home at all. Yes there may be new buildings or you parents may have decorated a room but nothing has changed. Everyone remains in same mindset doing the same tasks they did everyday before you left. Moaning about the most pointless stuff that we take for granted but then you start to notice one really big change and thats in yourself. The person you once was is a distant memory, your outlook on life is now so much different you truly value the beauty of the earth and everything you have done. You have more patients and more clarity in your head and thats when it hurts. No one at all will know what you went through the adventures you took the memories you made they will ask but after 10 minutes you will be back to them talking about some daily task they really don’t want to do or how much they hate their job. This gets to much and slowly sucks you back in and then you become living in this pattern again but something doesn’t feel right. Each time I go and come home this feeling gets worse maybe its because I am growing more as a person and doing more amazing stuff each time or maybe I’ve just outgrown my city and now this is the life for me. I love everyone at home my friends my family and its the only thing keeping me sane when I do come home but I don’t know maybe im just speaking for myself because I know people who have come home and loved being back but for me this isn’t the case.

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My top 20 things to do & try in Bali

Having  lived in Bali for 3 months its feels right I do my top 20 things to do rather than a whole blog on my time there. Im going to count you down on what I enjoyed doing and think you will also.

  1. Miss Sippy – Okay call me bias as this was my work place for the 3 months I was there but this day club is really something you have to experience. Its amazing tropical vibe music, incredible food and salt water pool with 5 meter diving board this place has it all its a great spot to spend the day sipping cocktails and soaking up the atmosphere.Mrs Sippy 1-1-18-88
  2. Tegenungan waterfalls – An Incredible waterfall near Ubud where you can spend a few hours taking in the beauty and getting some great snaps.13-11-17-136
  3. Nyang-nyang beach – In Uluwatu this beach really is something else, white sands and ship wrecks on the beach. Just be prepared its bit of a hike coming back up but more then worth it.
  4. Old mans – Old mans bar where do I start. This place goes off and especially on a Wednesday, great backpacker atmosphere and beer pong competition each week (yes I did win out of 48 teams no biggie) if partying isn’t you thing just go for happy hour at sunset and take some cool pictures on the famous wall.
  5. Crate Cafe – My mouth waters thinking about this place. The food is insane especially the salad bowls and its great value for money also a really cool place to hang out, meet new people and get some work done.
  6. Pretty poison- In the middle of the Canggu short cut this place is amazing. A skate bowl where everyone sits around and drinks as the skaters show off their best tricks. Very different to any other bar you will go
  7. Hire a surf board – When you think of Bali you think of surf so hire yourself a board for an hour and give it a shot.drone-2-2
  8. Eat at a local warung – here you will find some of the best local food and for such a good price.
  9. Dreamland beach – Again in Uluwatu this beach is beautiful to spend the day soaking up the rays.
  10. Mount Agung – I was lucky enough to see this volcano erupt and it was worth the 3 hour scooter ride and dead bum even if its not erupting go check it out from the stairway to heaven temple.volcano-1
  11. Hire a scooter – Its the best and cheapest way around Bali, although the roads seem like chaos when you first arrive their not so bad and its easy just make sure you wear your helmet.
  12. Tirta Empul – Known as the holy water temple this place is a must. Get yourself into the water and cleanse your soul.
  13. Money forrest – Take a walk through the forrest surrounded by cheeky monkeys as they swing and run all over the place.
  14. Tegalalang rice fields – Bali being know for its famous rice fields these are the most famous, although  very touristy its worth a visit.
  15. Sand Bar –  The ultimate afterparty each night on the beach. Get drunk to the early hours whilst dancing bare foot on the sand with your friends.
  16. Get a massage – Do I need to stay anymore? Super cheap and super good
  17. Tahnan Lot –  A temple in the ocean, this place is very busy but nice to see (If you want to know a secret spot to get a an image without any tourist in message me)11-1-18-37
  18. The Gillis/Lombok – Although not technically Bali its the hub to get there so get a ferry across and spend a few days on the islands.
  19. Stay in Canggu – I get asked alot where is the best place to stay in Bali and for me its here. Canggu is such a cool area not so built up with a real nice vibe, great restaurants/cafe and good nightlife. I 100% recommend you stay here.
  20. Respect the local culture – Indonesians are very friendly and nice people, always be respectful and embrace their culture

 

If you want any further information on Bali feel free to ask and I will try my best to help you. You can also check out more photos from my time in Bali on my Instagram @tugs_ward

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The Jewels of Raja Ampat

The jewels of raja ampat 

It’s not everyday you get the opportunity arise to work for 10 days in raja ampat. If you’ve never heard of this place, they are a chain of islands just off of west Papua, consisting of hundreds of jungle covered, untouched islands with beautiful white sand beaches and 75% of the worlds coral reefs. Sounds like paradise already right? So it was obvious there was no way I was turning this one down. I was given the opportunity by a company called Seatreksailing Adventures who had been sailing this area for years along with other parts of Indonesia.

Getting to west Papua

With the volcano still bubbling away in Bali, my trip was left in Mother Natures hands. With flights still being cancelled I made my way to the airport hoping mine wasn’t. What would be a 3 hour direct flight if there was one was a 8 hour set of connection flights, my flight still scheduled and in the departure lounge.  I began to fill with excitement for the 10 days ahead- only for that to be short lived by being delayed for 3 hours. This left me with only 1 hour to pick up my luggage and re-check in. And if you’ve ever been to an Indonesian airport you be family with just how much cargo locals check in. This was going to be cutting it so fine, the closest airport call of my life. But… I made my connection with minutes to spare.

Sorong to set sail 

Tired and hungry on arriving to sorong one thing was clear; the Indonesian people looked very different here, more Papua Like with the aboriginal features. I was picked up by my driver  who took me to the port where I met Anistasia our tour leader. A quick dingy ride out into the bay and I arrived at my home for 10 days. There it was- the beautiful Katharina, an ex cargo ship transformed into a beautiful passenger ship, with her pirateship-like shape and features. The young boy who loved Treasure Island and pirates started to come alive inside again.

I was shown to my cabin, a stunning double bed with an en-suite like a hotel room. You would never of guessed you were on a ship. I was introduced to the rest of the 12 man crew who immediately were fantastic and joking around with me before going to pick up the rest of the guests. Thinking the boat would be full, I was surprised when there were only 4 more guests. It was like we had our own private yacht for the week. I couldn’t believe my luck.

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Anchors up

All settled in and introduced we pulled up the anchors and got on the open sea. As soon as we left sorong, you began to see the beauty and our first stop hit my jaw to the ground. A tiny sand island in the middle of the ocean surrounded by crystal clear blue water and coral reef. We got in the ocean and went for our first snorkel which was like being in an aquarium with stunning living coral and and the most colourful fish. This was just the start of what was set to be the best 10 days of my life.

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Days that followed

As the days past everyday I woke up in a new location saying WOW. I knew this place was going to beautiful but nothing prepared me for what I encountered. Each day was spend doing activities, snorkelling insane coral reefs, visiting breathtaking waterfalls and visiting ancient paintings, caves and secluded beaches. I would be able to write a book about this place but I’m going to narrow it down to my top 3 favourite moments.

Number 3- The rare bird of paradise

If you have ever seen any wildlife documentaries you would have at least seen one about this bird. Known for its unusual mating call of dancing and spreading its feathers. A 4am alarm and hike up through the Forrest guided by a local we arrived in the dark at this tree house he had build and sat and waited for the bird to show as the sun slowly started to rise. The whistles of birds around was like a song to my ear then there it was in all its beauty the red bird of paradise shaking his feathers like a Brazilian carnival it was so stunning to watch as he called for the females and they came. Unsuccessful at mating this time but was such an incredible site to see.Raja Ampat-1083

Number 2 – jellyfish lake

We were told we were going to be swimming in a jellyfish lake. “WHAT SWIMMING WITH JELLY FISH ARE YOU CRAZY” I hear you say, my first reaction to, but fear not these were stingless jellyfish. We arrived at this lake in the middle of a small island I didn’t know what to expect but snorkel on we dived in. I put my face under the water and began to float looking around were thousands and thousands of these beautiful jellyfish swimming so gracefully like a dance. It was so peaceful and calm to watch these incredible creatures move through the water and reminded me of when I saw the northern lights. I felt as if I was in a different planet and come out of the water feeling as if I just watched one of the greatest shows on earth.Raja Ampat-355

Number 1 – Yensawai village

I don’t know where to start with this one, but as a photographer I have always wanted to capture an image of someone who has never seen themselves on a camera or very rarely seen an image of themselves. This is something I knew was going to be so hard to do in this 21st century with all the smart phones and technology around these days. Almost everyone had a camera phone or something which could create an image. We were told the village was very rarely visited by tourists my excitement began to grow. We arrived at the village and I began shooting instantly. I put my drone up and the kids went absolutely nuts, surrounding me trying to see the screen, all trying to get to the front like a sworn of wasps around honey. My smile was so big as you’ll see in the photos. I then showed them snapchat filters which sent them over the edge with excitement and laughter which I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The children of the village then performed a local dance for us which was so nice to watch and see. After I began to shoot as many portraits of people from the village I could, before a game of football kicked off with the local boys. This village really changed me and made me realise how lucky I was growing up the way I did and the things I had around me these children had very little but what they did have was life and they were so happy.  Yensawai is a place I will hold close to my heart and wish to return to very soon.Raja Ampat-474

Round up

Cut off from the world with no phone service for many days Raja ampat opened my eyes in many ways and gave me some good thinking time- some good and some not so good, but I will start with the bad: PLASTIC. There is plastic everywhere in our oceans and it’s something that needs to be dealt with immediately, but to see small parts of plastic even effect some of the most beautiful places in the world is heart-breaking. Seatrek are doing something incredible to try stop this by not using single use plastic at all on there trips and providing guests with free refillable water bottles which is fantastic also bringing all rubbish they find back to the boat to be disposed of properly. People need more information on what plastic is doing to our oceans around the world not only here.

This trip has been one I will never ever forgot and memories I have for a lifetime. I can’t thank seatreak enough for the fantastic experience and opportunity which was “work”. Raja Ampat is a must and to anyone thinking of going you will not be disappointed but you also won’t be ready for how incredibly beautiful this place is. I seem to be leaving parts of my heart all over the world but here I have left a big part of my heart, where life won’t seem the same until I return to find it something like the heart of a dead mans chest….I told you I was a pirate.Raja Ampat-733

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27 days in Turkey

I was sitting in Greece, my next flight to Albania the click of a button away. I was feeling somewhat low and the sense of excitement for my next destination was overcome with uncertainty and angst. The phone call that followed was just what I needed to pull me out of my funk. The familiar voice of Anna, who I worked with all summer in Croatia. A short sweeping phone call and it had been decided – we were going to Istanbul, the ease and excitement finally creeping back in.

Istanbul

A city that was never of huge interest to me. You know when you really have to prioritise the places you want to see, you sometimes have to imagine yourself all old, shrivelled and frail, about to kick the bucket thinking ‘did I tick those places off that were on the very top of my list? Only then I can die a happy man.’

Well, Istanbul was not at the top of my list. It probably wasn’t in the middle either, somewhere in the haze of ‘maybe one day’s’ floating around at the bottom. I pictured it being run down, dirty & neglected, thanks to the media painting it in such a dim, feeble light. But boy I was wrong, as were they. We arrived in the darkness, but even then there was a hectic vibe to this new and curious city.

With tired eyes and weary legs we were looking forward to crashing for the night but our Air BnB had fallen through, so it was a quick trip to the nearest airport hotel, avoiding the three hour journey into town.

When light rose in the morning, it was clear that a lot of development was underway in the beating heart of Turkey, construction works and skyscrapers lining the cities crowded view.

The day was off to a bittersweet start, missing our bus but being helped by a generous local who paid for our tube fair and showed us the way. As my time in Istanbul fleetingly grew longer, I was consistently shocked by how colourful and full of life this place was. From witnessing the delicate but grand architecture of the Blue Mosque, absorbing the many sights, smells and gaudy treats to be had at the Grand Bazaar to soaking up the lights and loud music of the incredible nightlife in Taksim, where  it was as though each bar had a bet on who could play their music the loudest.

Not once did I feel unsafe in this unfamiliar city, only positively overwhelmed by the fantastic culture and wonderful locals.

if you are looking for somewhere to stay in Istanbul check out this place right in the heart and and a great space to relax. https://www.airbnb.com.tr/rooms/1041982

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Capadoccia

When you say Cappadoccia to people they say “ahh the ballon place” I didn’t know to much about this place only the beautiful pictures people would post on Instagram. Another spontaneous idea spoke about over a shisha we had booked flights. You can get internal flights from Istanbul for fairly cheap around £40. Again we arrived in the dark and didn’t know what to expect, the temperature on arrival was a lot colder then Istanbul and when we got to our incredible cave sweet the heating from the fire pit under the hotel warmed us right up.

A 5:30 alarm and camera ready we set off very tired to witness the balloons from the view point. To our disappointment they didn’t fly due to wind but we could see the beauty of the landscape. It was incredible, breathtaking even the only way I could describe it is like giant ants nests made from rock. We spend the next few days exploring this beautiful part of turkey and taking the green tour which is highly recommend. Our first sight of the balloons come the following morning from cappadoccia cave suits the place you see all the bloggers photos we were lucky enough to speak with owner who let us come up for sunrise (you normally have to stay at the hotel to use this terrace) I was breath taken and if you follow me on Instagram you will know this from how many pictures I’ve posted. It was so beautiful and I wanted to be in a ballon so that’s exactly what I did, we booked a ballon ride for the next morning with rainbow balloons for around 80 euros. The alarm was set for even earlier and we set off to the take off point, it was freezing cold but the excitement inside of me was keeping me warm. We jumped in our basket and they shot up the fire as we started to rise with the sun, such a strange feeling being in a wicker basket floating in the sky. The sun started to rise and there were about 100 balloons in the air. I was speechless and mesmerised, one of them moments you dream about. Our flight last about an hour and the whole time I couldn’t stop saying wow I was on such a high of emotion, once we landed we had champagne and took some shots it was one of the greatest mornings of my life to date. If you go here make sure you do a ballon ride you will not regret it. My day ended slightly differently with a goodbye to Anna and a 16 hour night coach to bodrum but you have to take the highs with the lows I guess right?cappadocia-1

Bodrum

After a crazy crazy summer my body was tired and I needed to base myself somewhere for a while so I signed up to work away and found an eco farm in bodrum. Here I spend 17 days helping with some light construction, chilling in a hammock drinking with gem the super owner and all round great guy, eating ALOT of bread and most importantly making plans for the next few months. With 9 hours plus sleep each night I was fully recovered and hungry to get back to work. I reached out to a few people and made some good contacts. As I write this is sit on my flight to Bali where I will be for a while firstly teaming up with Mrs Sippy Bali.

Fuck what you read

Turkey for me was incredible and I felt so so safe it’s sad to see how the tourism has been hit there by scare mongering from the media and instilling fear in people to travel. The locals are amazing and so so friendly and the food is even better although I think I’ve ate to many kebabs. I will be back Turkey you taught me a lot and mainly to be spontaneous and enjoy the ride.

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Seven weeks with Sailweek

My first day began with a mile long walk in the 27 degree heat, with my life supplies on my back, complete with camera gear.. as if my nerve induced sweat wasn’t enough. However I soon realised the nerves weren’t necessary, I was welcomed with open arms by people who seven weeks later I now consider family. Seven weeks of sailing from island to island, calling the boat my home, the camera my tool and the ever changing landscape my work.. 49 days on the beautiful Dalmatian Coast, something that in the past I only could’ve dreamed about

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Never think your not good enough

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Don’t ever think you’re not good enough. I started this journey with an inner battle of self doubt.. ‘I’m not going to be good enough’, ‘my work won’t be up to their standard’, ‘what if I’ve made the wrong decisions’. Just a few of the many thoughts that made my approach into this experience somewhat of an internal conflict. Whilst battling with your own thoughts is never fun, passing through it is, and I passed.. with nothing less than flying colours. After just a few days of putting my camera to use, I was receiving incredible feedback on my photos, and I had surprised myself. As the weeks went on, my work flow got faster and the rhythm of taking candid shots of the guests on the boat became second nature to me.

All of this probably never would’ve happened had I taken my thoughts a bit more seriously. Self doubt is easy, what’s hard is self trust.. trusting in your own abilities, qualities and judgement is a skill in itself. But by putting yourself out there, doing the thing that scares you most and never allowing those thoughts to define you, you can be the best you.

‘Being brave isn’t the absence of fear. Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it’.circle raft-25.jpg

Croatia

Where do I start? Sailing the party week for 6 weeks and adventure route for one seeing split, supatar, makaska, bol, vis, hvar, korcula, mljet and Dubrovnik I become to know these places some more then others from partying in cave clubs in makaska to exploring the island of vis on a scooter I saw a lot if anyone had doubts about visiting any of these places think again you need to get there and get there now the gorgeous clean ocean and the scenic landscapes not to mention the local traditional foods and friendly locals. I can’t give you any details on accommodation but i can say do sailweekcroatia and it will be the best week of your life’s.

Thank you all

I want to say a huge thank you to sailweekcroatia for giving me this incredible opportunity. Thank you to every skipper and crew who helped me, taught me, partied with me, swore at me in Croatian you are all incredible! Thank you to everyone behind the scense letting me be as creative and loose with my camera. Every single one of you are amazing and I hope to see you all again soon!

What’s next for me.

As I sit in a car driving through Slovenia my life has changed a lot since my last blog. My love for the ocean has grown, my passion for sailing and the urge for travel grows greater each day. I have a week of exploring and making my way to Germany before flying to Greece with sailweek for an exploration trip which I can’t wait for but after that who knows where at the moment. The best plan is no plan….me and anna-1.jpgwork-1-4.jpg

Resfeber

The restless rate of a travellers heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; a ‘travel fever’ that can manifest as an illness. A feeling I know most travellers will feel before they set off and with only just 8 days to go before my new life starts and a hell of a lot to get sorted I can easily say I am experiencing resfeber. The excitement to get going now is uncontainable but the nerves are creeping in. With all other trips I’ve done I’ve always known when I was coming home or roughly and knew I always had a job to come back to, this time there is no security net there is no safe job with good wage and that’s where the anxiety creeps in. Saying bye and walking away from a company I started as a blonde spotty 16-year-old was never going to be easy. It’s a job I have fond memories of and a job that has allowed me to travel the way I have the last few years, it’s also a job that has allowed me to meet some truly great friends younger and older whom I know I will stay in touch with and who have watched me grow from that 16-year-old boy to the man I am today, so thank you and goodnight!

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Croatia bound
If you read my first blog you will know my first stop is Croatia, there I will be teaming up with SailWeekCroatia for over 2 months as we island hop each week. To book your trip follow the link below and check out the awesome sale they have on.  This is my first full-time photography job and their putting their trust in me to deliver. I would say this is where thee rest of my anxiety comes from, not because I’m afraid I can’t because I’ve become confident now in my work but the fear of the unknown, the what ifs. I’ve already experienced my first knock back in this job which was bit of a bitter pill to swallow but one I think works better for me in the long run. I know with this job its something I will experience a lot and I will have to hustle for the work a lot harder but I honestly can’t wait to push myself outside my comfort zone and hustle like a young 50 cent minus the drugs. My next big question is what the hell do I pack? I have so much camera equipment and always feel I need it all when half the time I don’t so its going to be a choice between less equipment and more clothes or more equipment less clothes. I need to chose wisely so if anyone else has had this predicament please let me know what you went for, I’m swaying towards more equipment right now. I’ve been getting asked quite often what camera I use, so for those interested I use a Canon 6d with an ef 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens and a Nikon d3200 with an 18-55mm lens also have a fuji film instax mini 8 (Polaroid).

www.sailweekcroatia.com

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Goodbye old friend
For those who know me my van Keiko is a huge part of me and where ever I go she goes mainly because she’s my mode of transport but you get the jist. I have only had her for a year but what a year its been with almost eight thousand miles covered twelve separate trips away and endless amounts of nights spent sleeping in her not to add how many memories made. She was my escape in some very hard times and I will miss her like crazy but I know she’s going to a good home and she’s now my funds for my new adventure. Having a van you can escape the shit from day-to-day life in is one of the best things and something I know no matter where I settle it will be something I will need in my life. Good hunting Keiko. It’s now time to say the real goodbyes to family, friends and pets something I have never been great with and something I’m dreading the most but with one goodbye comes a new hello.

Until the journey has started…

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New beginnings

So today was the day I finally handed over my notice at my job of 9 years to pursue my dream of becoming a full time travel photographer. If you happened to just stumble upon my page, here’s a little insight on me.. I’m Ashley (better known as Tugs), a 25 year old from Bristol in the U.K. and I have an insatiable hunger for all things travel. My first big adventure came when I took three months out to travel around Australia, and within a few weeks of being home the urge to leave again was almost tangible. This urge has taken me to 17 countries, a number which I hope will continue to grow, whilst I capture the magic and diversity of each different place through the eye of my camera lens.

A few weeks ago, I turned 25. I’ve been around a quarter of a century and feel like I’ve suddenly hit a crossroad; it presents me with two options. Left looks like this: I continue working in a job that I know I’m good at, I’m comfortable with and that will eventually help me buy a house, build and support a family. Right however, is slightly hazier: I leave my comfort zone and put myself out there to follow my dreams.. something few people do, because of all of the fear society instills into them when they don’t do what’s known as ‘the norm’. I’ve decided that with happiness there comes uncertainty, and I’m not going to know, unless I try. So I’m putting a whole lot of faith into myself, and embracing the unknown. I’m going right….

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My first stop
I am absolutely over the moon to announce that I have already secured not one but two photography jobs in a country I fell in love with 2 years ago… Croatia! I will be teaming up with sailweekcroatia and sail2sonus throughout the summer starting in July and I can not wait to get started. It will be my first photography job so with that comes a lot of nerves but I’m relishing the challenge of living on a boat and capturing images for these two fantastic companies.
Interested in joining for the greatest week on a yacht whilst sailing the Dalmatian coast? Check out prices and availability here:

www.sailweekcroatia.com

www.Sail2Sonus.com

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Why I’m blogging
Since being young I’ve always had a crazy imagination and loved story telling but grammar has never been one of my strongest points, so if you’re going to follow my journey please know that now haha. I’ve decided to blog purely to challenge myself and inspire others to follow their dreams, If its fails what have I got to loose. My blogs will consist of my adventure, places and people I find along the way and travel tips such as good hostels places to eat for other travellers traveling on a budget and more images of these places I visit. The name of my blog comes from a song by an artist I have loved for years named Stu Larsen the song is called some kind of gypsy I’ve changed the final word to gypsea as the sea is my happy place, where I feel free and  spend most of my time. I hope you can all follow me on this new adventure of becoming a vagabond and I’m excited to hear your feedback and comments. you can find me on Instagram @tugs_ward

until the next blog….

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