Post-vacation adjustment

Yes, in short, I had a great time in Montreal. I had been looking forward to it so much and for so long that I worried that reality could not live up to it. I was wrong, happily. You may wonder why I have not blogged more about it yet and there are a few reasons. Dominique from 3C Style and I are planning to write posts together about the trip and I do not want to pre-empt that, or give away too much about our collaborative post next month – except to say that I was delighted to have taken a lot of the fashion photos for October. Meanwhile there are some other pictures from Montreal within this post.

Speaking of Dominique. She just posted some great street-photos which she took whilst I was with her. Seeing her enthusiasm and creativity in action was one of the great joys of my trip. Here she is in action taking the featured image from her post:

Photo 11-09-2018, 23 39 13

This travel was important to me in many ways, I had a lot to prove to myself about my recovery and other things. I have learned many things during my visit to Montreal:

  •  Any doubts I had about online friendships with other bloggers being somehow not ‘real’ have gone. Anyone who saw us all together would think we had known each other for years. Here we are: Dee Dee, Linda, Dominique and myself (the beardy one).
  •  I can manage enough French to at least not starve. I might have to live on coffee and croissants but I can do that, no problem.
  •  I was smiling and genuinely happy the whole time. To the extent I would have never thought possible.
  • Sadly (?) the promise to get me doing karaoke ran out of time.
  • Vegetarian sushi is edible. Even if my attempts to eat it were not elegant and caused great amusement.


  • Despite my utter hatred of zucchini/courgette, I was persuaded to eat zucchini flowers. They were at least inoffensive! And interesting to draw too😊
  • Montreal beer is good, and we found a great Indian restaurant. These are my top two criteria for judging any city.
  • We never did get to visit antique shops. So I still do not know if the intention was to take me shopping or add me to the stock.
  • The automatic passport scanners at Montreal airport work great. The ones at Gatwick are pants.
  • I can take pictures of people without my camera dying from shock.
  • Allegedly, I have a way with animals. I have no idea where this notion came from (photos by 3C Style):

On a more serious note and why I have been quiet since coming back:

Returning to the UK has been hard. Not only the 20c drop in temperature (no I am not kidding – we had 10 days of hot sunshine in Canada) but returning to work knowing that nothing has really changed in practical terms.

That said, I do feel that something within me has changed and I am still processing it, which is why I feel less inclined to write at the moment. I feel more centred and somehow have a sense of calm and confidence and a sense of my place in the world. I always joked about being antisocial and independent but in reality this was because I felt I had no choice. I started blogging through a sense of loneliness and of not knowing if there were like-minded people out there or if I was truly alone. Finding friends via WP made a huge difference but I was unsure if meeting any of them in person was going to work or if I was going to take my social anxiety baggage with me. Thankfully I never felt anxious or unhappy for the entire time.

So where does this leave me? Planning return trips across the Atlantic for a start, in addition to travel elsewhere.

Also, something has to change in practical terms too. My feelings about my career are unfortunate – travel requires funds so I am kind of stuck with it for now. But I am considering changing from 5 x 8 hour days per week to 4 x 10 hour days. This would seriously affect my ability to get to the gym, which closes at 7pm, but recently it looks like I may have to switch gyms anyway.

An extra day of daylight would enable me to concentrate more on creative work and hopefully on monetising it. This must stop being just a dream. I got such pleasure from creative work when in in Montreal and I know in my heart that being creative is what I want to do. And I don’t want to do so alone, which is why the collaborations with other bloggers are so important and motivating for me.

In summary, I am OK but my brain has a lot to process for the moment.

Enjoy some more photographs:

Photo 09-09-2018, 11 47 35 (1)img_1687img_1686img_1689img_1685img_1688


  1. Ah, you look at home with those animals. I agree with you about the ‘online friends’ thing. Yes, it can be superficial, but on the other hand, we often have more in common with them and they often take more time to listen, because they are bloggers and therefore readers too. I’m glad you had a happy meet-up and I hope you get the chance to do it again soon. By the way, when Katie from How I Killed Betty sees that bicycle…she’ll be wanting you to ship it over 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Darren, you seem to have had a great time in Canada. I hope you find the niche that you are looking for, but beware, day to day reality in another country is often a different experience to a holiday. Don’t burn all your bridges at once whilst making positive changes to your life.
    I used to live in Ontario, and Canada is a great place, but life is not a lot different to UK. And the weather doesn’t stay hot forever… Winter can be cold and long! The growing of your favourite plants becomes infinitely more difficult in Canada. I am sure that you are just feeling a little ‘down’ after the ‘high’ of holidaying with new friends. It will pass. And will look forward to that new collaboration from you all. 😊

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you Collette. The thing is that this holiday taught me a lot about my capacity for happiness and I want to feel that way again. It was a rarity.
      I have been back at work just one week and am already extremely tired and my stress-related tinnitus is back.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I know that feeling of getting away from stress and then having to face it again. Sorry to hear about the Tinnitus issue. I have had that from time to time (like a fire alarm in your head) and it isn’t pleasant. I think if you can focus on your art and live as gentle a life as you can around the need to earn a living, you will find a balance. Life is not easy, but there are bright spots and happiness to be found in the smallest things. You obviously have an affinity for animals… The photos were special. 🐐💞

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Thank you. All I want is to live a gentle life. The world seems to be lining up to complicate it for me😊.

          Glad you liked the photos. I do love animals, always have. I think even Dominique was surprised by how quickly I bonded with the two dogs we borrowed for the t-shirt photos!

          Liked by 3 people

  3. I have been waiting to see these animal pictures 😊 You do have a way with animals. My favorite picture of you is with the little goat, look at that beautiful smile my friend! I am so excited for you to come back, really enjoyed you being in our time zone. I have to say there is something incredibly special about the pictures you and Do did. Im sorry your tinnitus is back. You are right, need to be free to create. Big hugs and love to you! 😍💟😊

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you Lisa😊. I like goats, they always seem to be up to mischief!
      Yes, I plan to return. It was nice being in the same time zone and having realtime conversations, albeit via IG.
      The tinnitus has been more or less permanent since December 2010. It is far worse when I am tired or tense. I don’t remember noticing it at all on holiday.
      Much love and hugs to you too my friend❤️😊

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t think none of us will ever know how much this trip meant to you Darren. But I’m glad I am part of your journey. While with us you have discovered you can smile and even laugh. We have photos to prove it! You have found that you can be happy with people around you, even silly ones. You know now how much you are truly loved by us. You are an amazing man, so talented, creative, kind and funny. You, Dee-Dee and Linda made me laugh so hard; it still hurts. You are such a beautiful soul Darren and I’m so grateful that my path have crossed yours. I think that your plan to work 4 days and have Fridays off is a great idea. It will give you more time to draw. The lack of time doing what you really love is one of the reason you feel tired and stressed. You are doing exactly what you need to do in order to find happiness. Hope you find it as you desserve that so much. I really like this quote from Steven Spielberg: “Sometimes a dream almost whispers… it never shouts. Very hard to hear. So you have to, every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear.” And this one too seems appropriate: “All of us every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.” Have a lovely and creative weekend dear friend. xoxo

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Thank you so much for this lovely comment Dominique. You are indeed a part of the journey.

      Yes, I discovered a lot of things and felt loved for being who I am. That was really precious.

      I loved those quotes. My dreams are doing more than whispering….

      Sending love and a big hug❤️😊

      Liked by 4 people

  5. I agree with Dominique especially about making time for creative pursuits or anything that enriches your soul. Life is short and precious and, while we all need to make compromises especially in terms of income, there should be enough of a balance to make it all worthwhile. So many people (especially in the UK) just scrape by with misery in their hearts and a total ennui (a fabulous word that I learned as a teenager from DH Lawrence. my then hero). The 4 days a week plan is a good one, and you will need to trial how it works I’m sure. There will be downsides but at least it will free you up for one day a week to be productive and focus on your art. I suggest having a plan and self-imposed deadlines. In past years I did roughly what you are planning and found that I was so exhausted on the non-working days that I slept or socialised! Regardless, I don’t regret it. I look forward to discovering how you transition to a better life 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for your support my friend. You know I agree with you. Sometimes it feels like my life is not in my own control which makes it hard to change.

      You are so right about people in the uk, sadly. The greyness seeps into their souls sometimes.

      I have concerns about tiredness too, if I go fir the four day week plan. But I am so tired anyway that it is hard to imagine feeling worse! And at least I might be more productive artistically.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. So glad that you had such a wonderful time in Canada Darren – these photos are just incredible! Your bond with animals shows what a kind and gentle soul you are, as does your writing; it feels as though you have a reached a crossroads in your life and I sincerely hope that the direction you take will bring you the happiness that you richly deserve. Love and hugs on way :O) xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  7. So glad that you had such a great trip and that you found that you could indeed be happy. It’s a lot to process and I can understand that your brain has a lot of things to mull over. Hope you find the answers you are looking for. Lovely photos especially the lanterns in the trees and the butterfly 🙂 Hannah x

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Soooo glad you had a great time meeting everyone! I loved seeing the updates on Instagram and as bloggers I recognized joined one by one it was really neat! Also, got to say, really happy for you that social anxiety didn’t be a bugger and ruin anything and instead you got to feel happy. That’s such an amazing feeling and I’m so bloody pleased you felt that. I hope you get to travel more in the future and absolutely make time for your creative endeavours! OH! And great photos! Loved the one with the lanterns!

    Liked by 5 people

  9. We had a great time, didn’t we? I think that trip helped us all in one way or another. I know it helped me come out of a depression. It’s amazing what friendship an do, uh? Sending love and, as always, hugs!!!! ❤️💕❤️💕❤️

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am so delighted to hear you benefitted from the trip so much too. Especially given the recent traumas in your life it was probably a much needed distraction! Love and hugs to you too dear Linda. ❤😍😄😄

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  10. I’m sooo glad you had such a wonderful time, Darren! And I completely get feeling down after coming home. I think your decision to make more time for your artistic projects is the right one and I hope that everything will work out better than you might expect it. The photos you made are all beautiful and it’s so lovely that you shared them with us. And I’m so sorry about the Tinnitus, I know that damn devil only too well.
    Wish you a wonderful and creative week, my friend! xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Sarah😍.
      I have some news on the time thing that I hope to confirm soon.
      I loved taking those photos, and the fashion ones for Dominique. I really have fallen in love with photography again.

      You have tinnitus problems too? I am sorry to hear that. It is horrible, especially when it gets worse if tired or stressed and it is hard enough to think then as it is.

      Sending a big hug Sarah my friend. xx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You´re very welcome, Darren! 😀 Keeping my fingers crossed for that time thing!
        Photography is just wonderful, isn´t it? Although I love to paint I also love this as an art medium too. 🙂
        Have a lovely rest of the week! And sending a big hug right back to you! xx

        Liked by 2 people

        1. The time thing has made progress. Boss happy for me to take a day every two weeks😄. Photography suits me well because my drawings take so long that it can be frustrating. At least the photography gives me faster results whilst still being creative😄.
          Hugs😍. X

          Liked by 2 people

  11. I think this is a great idea Darren! Having more time to fill your soul will make you far happier in the long run! I admit, those 10 hour days can feel long in the beginning, while you adjust. But won’t Friday feel great!😊. Cant wait to see the joint post from you and Dom! And all the great pics for the October issue that, obviously, would not have been possible without me sitting on the bench holding all of Dom’s props😆Those shoes were heavy🏋🏻‍♀️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Dee Dee😍. I do have some good news about the work hours thing. My boss has agreed to a day off every two weeks if I do an extra hour the other days. This is a good start and I am happy with it😄.
      Your contribution and patience during photo shoots was hugely appreciated! I hope you will love the results.😄😍

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Sounds like your trip really did wonders. It’s a fantastic way to meet new people, this blogging that we do, but, like you said, it’s an online thing. But you took it one step further and got together with some wonderful people and you had a fab time too! I totally recommend changing your schedule at work. I went home to UK from Thailand for 2 years and returned to my old job because I was on a career break, but I was studying at the time and they let me do 3 days – 10-12 hour shifts which left Thursdays and Fridays free to study. At the moment I am teaching in Thailand and I have been able to reduce my hours here too, so I have more time for writing etc.. Yes, work pays the bills and allows you to travel, but if you’re not enjoying it and/or you’d rather be doing something that you love, then GO FOR IT! I will look forward to your next steps… You have some great pics there too 🙂 Have a fantastic weekend 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Gill. I have made progress and can now take an extra day every two weeks. It is a start😄. But I must have the discipline to use it properly, just as you did with studying. I know I could easily waste the time if I am not careful.
      I need a to-do list really. Time to create is one thing but I need to make efforts with the business side of things.
      Thank you so much for your support and comment😄😍

      Liked by 2 people

  13. It sounds like you had a wonderful time….so great you could meet some of your blogger friends in person and experience the very real friendship. And….if you can hold a snake, (gasp!) you can do anything!!! By the way, beautiful picture of your monarch. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I thank I truly know where you are my dear friend and I’m glad you had such a wonderful trip. I do think that you found something, something vital and important, something that will prevent you from settling. You had no reason to be anxious or unhappy and when we feel this way, it is because our current circumstances don’t work. So the job, just like you said, you might have to do it for now, but it is no longer something that serves your purpose. You have experienced different, unconventional, and you are on your way. You are breaking free, getting off that hamster wheel while putting the pieces together to see how the fit. I cheer you on and I so wished I could have spend time with all of you. What a milestone and what an important trip for you my friend. Keep the course. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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