Sunday, 21 June 2020

Hotel Review: Paramount House Hotel, Sydney.

When I lived in Sydney I was super lucky to work in Surry Hills. It’s one of the trendiest suburbs in Sydney with a wide-variety of bars and cafes, and those quintessential Sydney terraced houses set on leafy tree-lined streets (even to this day I still miss my old Sydney terraced house). The call of the Kookaburra fills the air through the day, Gelato Messina scoop out double-scoops of their homemade gelato, and by night the bars and restaurants are filled and buzzing with people and big fluffy Flying Foxes hang upside down from the trees.

Almost every street in the suburb has a hot new bar on it, but the one thing the suburb has been missing, is a luxury hotel. The only hotels in Surry Hills until recently have been hotels attached to pubs, which, to put it nicely, aren’t particularly ‘nice’. But in 2018 Paramount House Hotel opened with 29 rooms and suites, finally giving visitors a luxury property in Sydney’s coolest neighbourhood. When I visited Sydney back in February I decided to check it out and see what it was like! 

Paramount House Hotel Sydney Review


Thursday, 4 June 2020

Dear White People - We Need To Talk.

I posted this on Facebook earlier this week, and figured it would be worthwhile posting it here. I know this is mostly a travel blog, portraying a glamorous lifestyle travelling the world and attending fancy events. And I know many of you don't read or follow me for my political views. But if we're going to make a change, we all need to stand up and use our voices, especially those of us who are not only privileged from a race perspective, but a socio-economic perspective too.

Some of you who may follow me on Instagram might be tired of my pretty much non-stop posts over the past couple of weeks spreading the #blacklivesmatter word, when you probably only followed me for travel content. But clearly those posts and the posts of others still aren't getting through to everyone because I'm still seeing an insane number of white people staying completely silent on this issue and what's happened lately. So, I'm gonna say it louder for those of you at the back staying silent and therefore complicit. Because at the end of the day Facebook/my blog doesn't have a character limit so I'm not limited to what I've been trying to say like on Twitter and Instagram.

Why the protests are happening

If you've been living under a rock, a black man named George Floyd was murdered by the police in the US when an officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes until he died. A black child video'd the entire harrowing nine minutes and the video naturally caused outrage. It then turned out that the police arrested George because a shop owner wrongly racially profiled him, and made a racially-charged assumption that he had paid with a forged/fake cheque. It was later discovered the cheque was fine and not forged/fake at all.

It's been a tough few months for violence against black people, with Ahmaud Arbery's murder at the start of the year (when white supremacists shot him while he was innocently jogging in his own neighbourhood - a literal modern day lynching) then Breonna Taylor's murder in March also being thrown into the spotlight (the police broke into her house searching for a man who was already in police custody, and shot her while she slept). George Floyd's murder last week was the final straw and sparked protests, and these protests have spread around the world to fight against racial injustice in multiple countries. The below image perfectly demonstrates white privilege. As white people we can do all of these things without worry of being killed, yet a huge number of black people have died for doing simple things we take for granted.

The Black Lives Matter movement is an important one, and it doesn't mean that other lives don't matter, it just means that right now, black people are the ones being killed in the western world for the colour of their skin. They're the lives we need to protect from danger before we can move the focus to all lives. I saw a great quote that said, "All lives can't matter until black lives do". 

Why the Black Lives Matter movement is important

Now, I could start by telling you how kind and brilliant and so many other things all of my black friends are. But that isn't the point. A person shouldn't have to be a bunch of good things to deserve equality and the same freedoms the rest of us are afforded purely because of the colour of our skin. EVERY human being deserves that, no matter who they are. God created us equal and if you don't believe that but you're religious in any way, shape or form, then you should take a long hard look at yourself. 

Black people have been oppressed for hundreds of years at the hands of white people. They are tired, and they are done protesting peacefully. They've tried speaking out peacefully for literal decades and we sat back and did NOTHING. In 1968 Martin Luther King Jr advocated for protesting peacefully, and they assassinated him for it. He literally died for protesting peacefully. Although the six days of riots that followed his death culminated in the Civil Rights Act being passed, black people are still discriminated against every single day: by fellow citizens, by the police, and by the entire system. They are still suffering under our hands right now in 2020, and are still being killed every single day because of our prejudices. 

They are exhausted from spending their entire lives fighting discrimination, racial injustice and white violence with very little help from the majority. So while the protests are difficult to understand for some of you, they are needed to make white people realise just how fed up black people are. If you're struggling to understand and empathise with the situation due to the violence that has erupted, may I suggest you watch the hundreds of videos online showing white men starting fires and smashing shops to incite the violence. Even President Trump himself (I know!) has admitted the violence is due to organised groups of white anarchists and not the black protesters themselves. Additionally, many cities have truly been protesting peacefully, and then the police have turned things violent by beating peaceful protesters and firing tear gas at them.

As white people we are privileged in ways many white people simply don't understand because they take their privileges for granted. We don't have to live with the fear of just existing. Like the image further up shows, we don't have to worry when we walk down the street, drive a car, go for a jog, fall sleep in our own homes, or walk inside a store. We don't have to worry that an encounter with the police could cost us our lives. And in everyday society, we as white people have privilege and opportunity when it comes to getting an education, getting a job, getting a promotion, getting a pay-rise, and improving our socio-economic position as a whole. The entire system is set up and designed to push us further ahead and hold black people back. It is a systemic issue that has been working for hundreds of years in white people's favour, pure and simple.

Source: Teresa Baker

Over the years I have seen my black friends' pain firsthand and I have slowly and imperfectly educated myself to be the best ally I can be. It's hard to do it perfectly the first time around - I'm still learning, too - it's something that takes time. I myself have made mistakes in the past. But if you're scared of speaking out because you're scared of getting it wrong, don't be, just try. Study and revise, read books by black people on the subject, listen to podcasts.

Do not ask your black friends to educate you themselves - they shouldn't have to expend energy doing that. Educate yourself. Use Google (or look at the images I've attached) to find books and podcasts and movies and documentaries. And if you make mistakes? That's okay! Learn from them, apologise and say you're still learning and keep going until you get it right and can then educate others. It's about time we as the majority educated ourselves on racial injustice, and stood up alongside the minority and used our white privilege for good - to elevate their voices and support them with ours so they don't have to use so much energy shouting so loudly anymore.

I know a lot of you guys are worried it isn't our place to speak out, or you don't want to annoy your friends with activism. These days many of you are vegetarian or vegan - but how can you fight for the rights of animals, before fighting for the rights of fellow human beings? It is our place and it is our fight. An equal world benefits everyone - it is literally in your best interests to speak up. Our white privileged voices can have an impact and be heard.

It's not about being a white saviour or taking over the space, it's about elevating and supporting black voices with our own, and saying we haven't done enough through the years but WE ARE HERE now and we recognise that we can use our privileged voices to fight until change happens for you. And if you're worried about losing friends then I'm just gonna say this: do you really want to associate with people like that? As far as I'm concerned, if people unfriend you it's literally just the rubbish taking itself out.

Source: Morgan Harper Nichols

Black people deserve to live their lives every day without fear of dying at the hands of white people. They deserve to live each day without subtle micro-aggressions. They deserve to be taken seriously in job interviews, given the same opportunities as us, and be represented properly in the media rather than just used as tokens. They deserve to be treated to a fair trial by law enforcement without violence. And they deserve to receive the same quality of healthcare as white people. Did you know black women in the UK are five times more likely (in the US it's four times) to lose their babies or die during pregnancy and childbirth than white women? This is because of inadequate healthcare for black women combined with the stress of just living while being oppressed, which then causes high blood pressure and leads to conditions like pre-eclampsia (I'm not even kidding, there was an actual study done).

This is not just a US issue. Here in the UK black people have suffered under the oppressive weight of racism for hundreds of years. It's been hundreds of years too long and it's time to change that. Staying silent is quite literally staying complicit, and frankly, as white people we have to do better.

So, if you enjoy black culture; books, TV shows, movies, music (hello fellow Beyonce and Earth, Wind & Fire fans!); food; traditions; style. If you have black friends or neighbours. If you have mixed race or black children/grandchildren, or are married to a black person. If you have ever experienced black hospitality or travelled to a majority black city or country. Or even if you have zero connection to anyone who is black, speak out. Be actively anti-racist.

Do it for every stranger who you do not know but who does not deserve to be treated this way and live in fear of their lives just because of the colour of their skin. Raise your voices until they are heard and change is made. This fight is hundreds of years old, and it's time to end it for good. As white people we have a huge problem with inequality and we need to end it once and for all.

I'll write another post soon with resources to help you begin the journey to being anti-racist (it will include where you can donate (bail funds, orgs etc), petitions to sign, my favourite black bloggers, books to read, movies to watch, and more). If the Amish can literally leave their homes and turn up to protests in support, I'm sure you can spend some time during lockdown educating yourself and learning about one of the greatest issues of our time. And feel free to share the images with other white people! You can start with the below Instagram post on how to be actively anti-racist - swipe across to read each card...

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Monday, 1 June 2020

5 Reasons I've Fallen in Love With North Devon.

This month I've been invited to co-host the monthly Travel Link-Up, and we're talking about home, which is you all know by now is something I've spoken about regularly given my constant moving around. I've frequently told you about my second home of Australia (even writing about Perth for a Travel Link-Up back in 2015), and so this time I wanted to tell you more about my home in England.

For most of my life that home was in the pretty market-town of Guildford in Surrey. We moved there when I was 2-years-old, and apart from my four years spent in Australia, my family didn't move away from Guildford permanently until last year. These days, my family home is on the border of North Devon and Cornwall, and although I spend most of the year at my home in London, I wanted to tell you all about our new family home and why I've fallen in love with it!

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