Norway Road Trip Photo Diary

Shooting in Norway is like nothing else I've ever experienced - it's the light... it's just so, different! It's very clear and brilliant for one thing, but there were so many blue tones to work with when it came to editing that I felt a little baffled at first, but I'm so happy with the way things turned out.

When it comes to my birthday I'm a big fan of plan tickets over presents, so this year Adam and I decided to plan a road trip across Norway (width wise, not length wise) from Bergen to Oslo in just five days - and it worked out perfectly. It follows the same route as that epic train journey, but a car so you can stop and take pictures!

My favourite part was days one, two and three: wandering around Bergen, arriving at our second Airbnb on the second day, and then driving even further through the fjords on day three. Day four it was so brilliant and sunny outside, which of course is lovely but frustrating for me because bright and sunny are not my favourite photograph conditions. And also day five was wonderful, walking through the forests near Oslo - that place was pure magic! 

I have to say though, if I had to pick one favourite moment it would be our second Airbnb on the dairy farm! Our host, Knut, was the sweetest man ever and the cabin was probably my favourite Airbnb of all time. Not to mention the beautiful scenery! I mean, we could look out of the window at the foot of our bed at a glacier! And best part: we got to meet Knut's cows, he even had a few calfs who were keen to be snuggled - of course I was only too happy to oblige! I spent the rest of the trip smelling like cow but that definitely doesn't bother me.

If you want to follow the same route and take a look at the places we stayed, you can find the links below. Each morning we chose the most scenic route on the map, stopped for snacks along the way (bonus: early October is apple picking season so I basically ate a whole pie to myself), and looked out for the best spots to stop and take some pictures! Here's the links:

Cosy little place in Bergen for our first night.

My favourite place, on a dairy farm in the beautiful fjords!

Old log cabin with a log fire.

Traditional cabin with no heating and no electricity.

One thing we made a mistake on though was not planning our food. Each evening we didn't make it to a super market on time before it closed so we were stuck eating petrol station cardamom buns, which were pretty good actually, and apple pie. Not ideal for five days but we definitely didn't starve! 

Life as a Freelancer - Struggles and Solutions

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Of course life as a freelancer is exactly as you would expect. Just as challenging, just as rewarding. Freelancing for me is a dream. Its hours of uninterrupted time alone to work on what I love, to focus or wander around eating toast as I need to, not worrying about what anyone thinks but just pouring myself into my dream. 

But also, every day can come with a crisis of some sort. What am I doing, how am I doing, am I good enough, am I doing enough, am I focusing on the right things, the list is endless...

Here are some things that keep me grounded while also keeping me organised and happy. 

Bullet Journaling

This is something I'd heard about ages ago that seemed very much not for me at the time. I came across bullet journaling through blogging and assumed it was all about calligraphy (which I'm crap at) and scrap booking (which isn't my thing) - but it's so not. It's a life saver. It's sitting in front of me right now and it's my whole work life in one place, I rely on this little book for everything. It's a way of tracking what I need to do, what I have done, and when I need to get stuff done by... but it's also a way for me to track my progress, my success, what works, what doesn't, and it's a way for me to look back and see how far I've come. Mine is just writing, no decoration, but I prefer a minimalist sort of set up anyway.

Here's what helped me understand what bullet journaling is really about.

Here's what convinced me to give it a try and showed me what tools I would work best for me.

And here's what helped me find extra stuff to add into it like a mood tracker, etc...

Podcasts and Audio Books

I thought I would miss working around people more than I actually do. I'm fairly social and talkative, but I'm definitely a lazy conversationalist and an introvert - so working on my own suits me really well. Having said that though, Adam has told me more than once that I need to get out of the house because I'm turning into a hermit. A happy compromise for me has been podcasts and audio books - they keep me engaged with something other than my own thoughts, and help keep me company during all that admin that I'd otherwise procrastinate on for weeks at a time. Here are my top podcasts and a few audio book series I've loved:

The Lively Show. From the Heart. My Dad Wrote a Porno. Hashtag Authentic.

The Rivers of London. An African Love Story. Mistress of the Art of Death. David Attenborough - Life on Air. Flavia de Luce.

Spreadsheets

Organising gets me super excited - I feel like I should say that's lame but I'm also fairly positive that everyone loves a well organised system so here's mine: I use google drive for all of my spreadsheets (they're google spreadsheets) and I have one for every kind of client, from photography work to video editing, influencing and then I even separate by industry. I also have a separate folder for each client in which I keep my contracts, invoices, notes, etc... I try to keep nothing on my laptop because the footage and programs I work with tend to be really bulky, so anything that causes my work to slow down causes my stress levels to rise! Conclusion: hooray for cloud based organisation!

Postcards

I just got these through, but I thought they would turn out to be a fun way of getting the people I meet to be interested in my work. They're bigger than a business card so harder to lose, they're also portable examples of my portfolio and what services I offer as a freelancer, and people are more likely to use them as book marks or decorations for their desk.

Work Space

I've tried to work in several different places around my flat, my neighbourhood... the world... and none of them really compare to my desk. I kind of think of my work as a piece of my heart, and getting my desk ready, organising my bullet journal, having nice things around me all day every day... it feels kind of like a weird sort of nesting. But it's an important process for me to take ownership of my work, to make it my own and it kind of gives me confidence - putting time into the enjoyment of the process of working has helped me feel better about the time that I have to spend at my desk, when I'm not out shooting.

Work Wife

Or wives. For me I have one work wife, which is a funny kind of truism because we now occasionally talk to each other about work as if we are actually husband and wife. Tania and I get together a few times a week to work together, and when we're not working together we're messaging back and forth, proofreading each others work, chatting about day rates and project rates, talking clients and collaborations, checking up on each others to-do lists, etc... freelancing, especially in an industry where there are few rules, it can be really tough! How much to charge, finding someone's email, getting an introduction... I also have chats full of the most inspiring ladies on Instagram and WhatsApp where we just talk about work, money, life balance, all that stuff. Being connected to people who are doing something similar to you is so, so important.

Exercise

One of the first things I did when I found myself in a position to set my own schedule was invest more time in my body. I've always known that I'm better when I'm physically active, my head is clearer, I have more confidence, I sleep better, the list goes on. But I HATE the gym, I feel like a hamster on a wheel. I'm also bad at exercising on my own because I'm so good at coming up with excuses and things that I "should" be doing. I knew I would never exercise if it were just up to me, so I started using a personal trainer! Honestly it's not at all what I thought it would be. The first few weeks my body ached like crazy, and now it still aches, but in a good way! I work better when I have someone other than myself to feel accountable to, and it actually just feels like fun games for adults. Every session is something different and I really look forward to it twice a week.

YOUTUBE :: BLOGLOVIN :: TWITTER :: INSTAGRAM :: PINTEREST

One Epic Day in Wales

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I guess it depends on how long you've been reading here, or following me on Instagram, but it's probably not a surprise to you how much I love Wales - how beautiful I think it is, in all of it's wild and untamed landscapes, friendly people and stunning natural beauty. I'm sorry United Kingdom, but I think Wales wins my heart.

I was on my way back from Canada with some serious post-travel blues hitting me - maybe it was the pile of work I had ahead of me and maybe I was a little reluctant to exchange my camera for my laptop just yet. Either way I thought maybe it was a good idea to jump in the car and head out of London to some wilder places - ease myself back into it, you know? I called up my friend Tania (also about to hit her own post-travel blues) and with almost zero prompting she was in for the adventure and the next day we were off!

The trouble with last minute adventures is, unless you want to sleep in your car, they kind of require some intense pre-planning. The first place I tend to look is Canopy and Stars because I know they usually have something magical going by way of accommodation, which of course they did. Staying in a slate cabin in Pwllheli, right on the coast next the the Wales Coast Path was perfect. It's a pop-up hosted by Epic Retreats and we stayed in the Slate Cabin with a view right out across the water below the Snowdonia mountain range. 

After hours in the car from London to Pwllheli we relaxed in our cabin for a bit, just staring out at the sea, before heading out to walk part of the Wales Coast Path. There are times I become so frustrated with my camera because no photo can do certain light and colours justice, and the blues and the greens of this section of the Welsh coastline are just unbelievable - you just have to see it with your own eyes. We walked for an hour or so, looked out for what wildlife we could find and kept going until it got too dark for us to see the seagulls coming home from a day on the sea.

As we were walking back to our cabin we heard music playing from a tent close by and found other campers gathered around a band playing Welsh folk songs. The whole thing just gave me that tingly feeling you get when everything is just so magical and you couldn't have planned it better yourself. And as much as I would like to take credit for planning such a wonderful experience, I can't - we just booked the place last minute and stumbled into it - but that's pretty much how all my trips to Wales have been, something wonderful always just happens.

It felt like going back in time a little, listening to that music - like it might have been years ago when there were no phones, no TVs, and just your own people to gather with and make your own entertainment. After an evening of listening to Roy Griffiths and his band Hen Fegin play dreamy folk songs about the Welsh people and the sea, we had a couple of local Welsh IPAs (Cwrw Glyndwr to be specific, it's delicious) and went to bed only to wake up to a perfectly clear morning right in front of us at the foot of our bed.

After a quick breakfast and a strong coffee we were off again, this time with a mission. I've been wild swimming a few times over the years, and we decided to challenge ourselves to find somewhere amazing to go for a swim in Snowdonia National Park - after coming to terms with the idea that it might be a little cold. Have you ever experienced the complete satisfaction of going wild swimming and then warming up afterwards with a cup of tea and some warm socks? It's one of my favourite things.

We drove into Snowdonia National Park and looked out for Watkin Path, which would take us to the spot we were looking for - a waterfall along the path up Snowdon (not too far up though, only about half an hour). We wandered down from the main path and found a secret spot to change into our swimming costumes and jump into a little pool just downstream from the waterfall. It was chilly, but it was also just perfect. It was the good kind of cold, the kind that gets your blood moving and your heart rate up and makes you feel truly alive.

After drying ourselves off (we forgot towels and only had Molly's dog towels in the boot of my car - whoops! But at least they were clean), we headed into Beddgelert for a cup of tea and a snack before heading off again.

I can't tell you how peaceful and how tired I was at the end of that day. We swam, pulled over every five minutes to take photos of the beautiful landscape in the fading summer light, stopped to take in every view and breathe the air that smelled of green things and the sea, got lost on purpose, talked about future trips to Wales, and laughed so hard we fell headfirst into a Welsh stream - the last one I caught on video and play again and again when I need cheering up, it still makes me laugh.

These are the moments we'll remember when we're older, the kind of adventures you never regret taking. Wales will always be such a huge source of inspiration to me, and I love it more and more after each visit.

Thanks for having me, Visit Wales - you helped me make some of my favourite memories.

 

 

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