Happy Halloween! Hands up. Who is dressing up today? Alas, there are no spooky parties in my social calendar this year, but I will be enjoying some festivities at tonight’s Traverse Mingle, which is always filled with a few surprises.
The past month has flown by with a trip to the sunny Algarve in Portugal with a close friend. We lounged on the beach, swam in the warm, salty sea, drank sangria and road tripped our way along the coastline.
All the perfect elements for a fun girlie getaway. Keep an eye out for future posts.
While it’s not quite beach weather here in London now, Autumn has been surprisingly mild so far (no complaints here). Here’s hoping for a not too chilly Winter. Secretly I am enjoying wearing boots, scarves and coats again. There is something nice about the change in seasons and being able to rug up and hibernate in the colder weather.
Come have a snoop at October’s Monthly Musings. A few useful and entertaining posts I’ve been reading, or inspired by this month. See you in November!
Take some comfort in your strength to challenge yourself no matter how weak the fear of the future makes you feel. We learn far more from our suffering than we ever can from happiness despite how much we chase the latter.
One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
When I last left you in Nantes, we had eaten cheese in a castle and explored a Gothic Cathedral. Having seen many of the striking historic buildings in the medieval and classical neighbourhoods, it was time to venture to the Island of Nantes to see one of the newer areas.
The sun was shining again, so I set off towards the river on foot. A little like Manhattan in New York, the Island of Nantes is right in the centre of the city (though on a much smaller scale). No boats, or ferries required. Just cross one of the eight bridges over the Loire and you will find yourself on the Island of Nantes.
There are two stars of the show that reside in the former shipyards on the western side of the island – an elephant and a carousel.
Summer hours had ended the day before, so it was no longer open on a Monday during the cooler months.
Sadly, no elephant, or carousel rides for this big kid at heart.
These visitors hadn’t realised either, so we all stood on the outside looking up at this marvelous creation thinking of all the fun we could have been having.
I would definitely recommend checking the rides and area out. Just make sure to plan around the opening times to save any tears. If you do go, make sure to let me know how it was!
Further along (you can’t miss it), a gigantic 43m yellow crane remains from previous boat loading days. Now disused historical monuments, this and one other stand tall in the skyline showing the industrial heritage of Nantes.
One of my favourite things about Nantes (which fellow geographically challenged travellers like myself will appreciate) – if in doubt, just follow the green line!
The full 16km loop takes you to 40 different points of interest around the city including picnic areas, sculptures, sights and museums. Such a creative and tourist friendly idea that encourages visitors to walk and see more of the city.
Use a Nantes map to guide you and if you have a Nantes Pass, most of the attractions have free entry.
Throughout Nantes is a playful mix of modern art while respecting the heritage of the city. The old and new don’t compete, but compliment each other and come together. It is a city that isn’t afraid to be creative and try new things, which makes for a very visually exciting (and photographic) place to visit.
Along the river I found this large 18 ring artwork by Daniel Buren and Patrick Bouchain, The Rings. Looking very similar to our own St Paul’s in London, I spied the Notre Dame du Bon Port Basilica in the landscape. Old and new, new and old.
With all that walking, it was time to eat and meet up again with the rest of the conference crowd.
Luckily, following the green line, I ended up right where I was meant to be – at La Cantine du Voyage. It was certainly a popular spot with locals stretched out on the sun loungers, while others played foosball outdoors.
The Nantes tourism board kindly arranged for us to try this restaurant serving fresh and local food daily. The concept was simple. For a fixed price of €13 you got a starter, main and a glass of wine. The menu changed each day, but there was no option. You simply turn up and get what they are serving that day.
It’s a fun pop-up during Summer, with the interior designed to look like a cruise, or airport terminal. You feel a little like you are waiting to board somewhere.
I always enjoy getting together with friends for meals, so the large tables were great for groups to sit around and talk about the days events. That evening we were served a rock melon starter (popular in France) and chicken with potatoes and salad. There was also a carafe of local wine to wash it all down with of course.
With our stomachs full and the sun gone for the day, it was time to call it a night and enjoy the view of brightly lit neon rings on our walk back.
Many of us daydream of luxury travel around the world, but just dreaming wasn’t enough for this young Australian wanderluster. At only 23, Brooke has created her own career doing just that with travel blog, World of Wanderlust where her solo travels are gorgeously documented. She describes herself as a girl with restless feet who turned her wanderlust into a full time lifestyle. An ordinary girl, living an extraordinary life.
Armed with a camera and tripod, Brooke creatively shares and guides readers to exotic and desirable destinations around the world. Without fail, every time I look at World of Wanderlust photos, I want to jump on a plane to somewhere new. Mission accomplished. It’s likely one of her photos has popped up in your social media at some stage and done the same.
So, what exactly is wanderlust? It is the strong desire to travel. The sensation in your heart that fills you will excitement and desire to see the world whenever you think of travel. It’s the consuming fascinationcraving yearning for indefinite adventure and new experiences. Fellow travel addicts will know the all too familiar feeling.
As well as sharing travel tips, experiences and reviews of stunning hotels, Brooke also writes a lot of reflective and personal posts about life on the road. Keep an eye out, as she will also be releasing a new book, A Year to Myself talking about her year of solo travel to inspire and encourage more people to take that trip.
Aside from Antarctica (which I am sure she will get to one day, as she even has her sights set on the moon), Brooke has set her foot on every continent. This girl lives and breathes travel – even as she replied to my email she was about to get on a flight. Let’s see how this jet-setter does it.
An international welcome, Brooke Saward.
World of Wanderlust is close to celebrating its 2nd birthday, so let’s go back to the beginning. What was your motivation to start a travel blog?
Ahh how time flies! I have always travelled a lot (before blogging), so I started my blog to document my travels and share my tips and recommendations with family & friends.
Shortly thereafter I had readers starting to comment from all around the world which was my motivation to keep blogging!
Was it always your vision for World of Wanderlust to become a business and to create a career travelling?
I started writing about travel because it has, for the majority of my life, been my greatest passion.
I think it’s so important for people to gain a worldly education – of which I think can only be ascertained first hand. So the vision has always been to inspire others through my own experiences.
I have always travelled a lot (before blogging), so I started my blog to document my travels and share my tips and recommendations with family & friends.
I’m sure a lot of readers would love to know – how did you turn your blog into a full time career sharing luxury travel experiences in exotic destinations?
I started travel blogging at my own expense – not only was I essentially working for free, I was also initially spending quite a good deal of my personal savings to do so. But I love to travel – so I have never seen it as a waste of time or money!
After a while the offers started to flood my email inbox and before I knew it I was getting paid to do what I love – a true fairytale coming true if you ask me!
What has been key for growing World of Wanderlust?
My mother always told me my greatest quality was persistence. I think that has been my greatest key for growth – just to persevere and keep doing what I love, even if at times it was hard to juggle with my other commitments – like university, my ‘real’ job, and various hobbies.
I think the biggest factor is to ensure you have balance in your life so you never lose the passion or persistence you know you need to keep moving forward.
There must be a lot that goes on behind the scenes. What does a typical day look like for you?
Haha – you’re not wrong! Usually I will wake up and get straight to work over breakfast, answer emails, run out the door and explore for the day.
Sometimes my days are spent outdoors engaging in outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, but other days are spent in meetings and at various appointments. It really varies so much! Then I always return home to write a blog post or two, edit photos and video, respond to emails again, and pass out any time late in the evening or often the early morning.
World of Wanderlust boxing in the Swiss Alps with Jopo.
“If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?” There is a reason why parents drill this into us growing up. Some stuff is stupid, but as we all know, we do some pretty silly things growing up, especially when travelling.
I am no exception.
Which leads me to that one time when I got my eyeballs ‘cleaned’ in Vietnam. I use the term cleaned loosely because I’m pretty sure the tools used were not the most hygienic (the Heineken can and no cleaning of the tools in between uses gave us a small indication).
The ear and eye ‘cleaning’ tools.
Yip, I actually voluntarily let someone scratchscrape clean my eyeballs.
I’m usually up for giving most things a go at least once and like I said, we all do stupid stuff when travelling.
You feel invincible.
Until a man wearing a headlamp is standing over you, maneuvering over your eyeball with a ball bearing tipped instrument.
Then you feel pretty vulnerable.
Let me rewind to the day before – almost halfway through our three month trip around South East Asia, Mike and I were sitting in a Hoi An bar playing cards and drinking 10p glasses of beer (bargain).
Having settled in for the afternoon, we got chatting to a friendly Canadian couple and began swapping travel stories.
I’ve found everyone has a thing when travelling. Some buy a magnet, or particular postcard from everywhere they visit, some a teaspoon – Mike likes to get a clean shave. When our new male Canadian friend started chatting about a guy he went to that afternoon for a haircut and shave, we were all ears…
Then, he mentioned the eyeball cleaning.
This should have put us off, but we were intrigued. Laughing at the bizarreness of it all, we wanted to try it for ourselves. The next day – armed with his business card – we went in search of the infamous barbers on our scooter.
Mike’s haircut and clean shave were straight forward, then came the ear and eye cleaning. I watched in amusement as he went through the process… then it was my turn.
I’m still not quite sure why I decided to go through with it after watching Mike?
First of all, the chair went back and with a mini chimney-sweep looking brush he got to work.
He made sure to get right in there.
This is definitely not a face of enjoyment and probably the moment I slightly began regretting my decision with the loud scratching noise in my ear drums.
But, I’m not one to give up, so persevered through.
With that ordeal over, it was time for my eyeballs to be cleaned.
If you’re a little squirmish, I’d suggest stopping here.
You feel invincible. Until a man wearing a headlamp is standing over you, maneuvering over your eyeball with a ball bearing tipped instrument. Then you feel pretty vulnerable.
A couple of eye drops, then my eye was held open while the metal tool with a ball bearing on the end was wiped over the surface of each eye.
I think I was too scared to move, but he took his job very seriously.
When it was all over, a towel was pulled from a bucket, placed over my forehead and finished with a quick ‘chop-chop’ massage, then I was free to go.
Would I do it again? Probably not.
Would I recommend getting it done? For this experience, let your friends jump off that cliff, while you keep your ear drums and eyeballs in tact.
FYI – I did have my ear drums checked recently and they are all healthy and looking good. Maybe it was a well renowned service? Let me know if you want the details. I’ve still got the business card.
Please share some of the silly things you have done during your travels in the comments. I would love to know your stories!
I came across this energetic and animated drummer online. Not through one of his drumming videos, or concerts, but from his very honest and raw Journey of a Suicide Survivor vlog that came up one day in my Facebook page. I admired his courage to openly talk about such a personal, sensitive topic and was drawn to contact him.
Fast forward a few months, I’m happy to be able to feature this fun-loving, Nashville based professional drummer.
After graduating at Berklee College of Music, his career has seen him drum behind well known artists such as John Mayer, James Taylor, Whitney Wolanin and Paul Simon (to name a few).
I admire how far Harry has come, both on a personal and career level and I look forward to seeing what his future holds. Let’s meet the man behind this drum kit.
A drum roll please for Harry Miree.
Harry drumming. Image by Maylin Chaise Productions.
Let’s go back to the beginning. When did you start drumming and how did you create a full-time career out of it?
The beginning is simple. I saw the Tom Hanks movie, That Thing You Do! In case you haven’t seen that one – spoiler alert – the drummer, Guy Patterson, gets the girl in the end.
My 13th birthday came around a few weeks later and I knew just what to ask for. DRUMS!
Of course, it was easy to find temporary passion for almost anything when I was that age, but the new feeling for me was this kind of passion that grew as I got deeper into the craft. So, the better I got at drumming, the more I enjoyed it.
Playing drums was the first activity that ever gave me a real sense of identity; not to mention it was mega fun, so it hardly took discipline to play eight hours a day for the next five years. Anyway, when the time came around to ‘grow up’ and go to college, I ended up finding a school where drumming was the only homework I’d ever get assigned, so once I had academia fueling my obsession too, I knew I was set for life.
I’d played for some semi-professional musical artists through my time in college, but when school came to an end I realized I’d never be able to stop, so I auditioned for every act I could find worldwide and ended up in Nashville on the Whitney Wolanin drum riser. Now it’s like I’m drumming non-stop!
Performing live with Brinley Addington.
Playing drums was the first activity that ever gave me a real sense of identity; not to mention it was mega fun, so it hardly took discipline to play eight hours a day for the next five years.
You are on the road a lot touring. What is the most challenging part about being a professional drummer?
It sounds like your instincts already have that one figured out!
You’re right, the irony of being a full-time professional drummer is that on the road, you’re really only on stage for a maximum of two hours a night, four nights a week.
The whole rest of the gig is getting the hang of living this life we human beings probably weren’t designed to live: waking up in a different city every day, being at your best for the 6:00am radio appearances some days, but the 11:00pm Rascal Flatts’ after parties on other days, eating most of your meals during 20 minute stops on the side of the interstate in WhoKnowsWhereVille USA, and watching your friends gradually learn not to bother inviting you anymore to the in-town hangs because they’ve learned by now that you’re never around.
Wow… I just made that all sound like a total bummer, but the upsides are great and totally make the whole thing worth it!
Boom City performing live. Photo by Josh Langley.
What are three of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt about life, career and doing what you enjoy?
1. A huge token that comes up over and over again for me is that almost anything worth doing is going to be some combination of scary, uncertain, and risky.
Playing drums for a living seems like all three of those things when you first consider doing it, because you don’t know how many years you’re going to have to deliver pizzas to make rent while you’re working at it.
Meanwhile your friends are becoming doctors and lawyers, just like you always knew you should have if you wanted a guaranteed future of comfort. But imagine the day you quit that pizza job because you can finally start paying your bills by hitting drums. That’s the day that makes the leap worth it!
2. The second principle I see affecting my life over and over again is the simple idea that things are way more likely to happen to the object in motion than to the object at rest. I guess it’s a physics concept but it’s SO true in life!
Maybe you’ve just graduated college and by default you’ve ended up back in your parent’s basement back home. Do anything but stay there. Move to a new city, start a new project; it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you just do something. You’re an object in motion, and that object will meet new people and experience new ideas – and that’s what will determine what happens next in your life.
You’ll figure it out when you get there… Just do something, right now!
3. Last but not least, I think the fuel for great life is great people. Nothing is more fulfilling to me than cramming my life full of good people and loving those people. No matter how integral some relationships have seemed to me at various times in my life, I’ve always ultimately benefited from rejecting the negative relationships and seeking out the positive relationships.
You deserve to spend your time with people you believe in, and you deserve to be believed in right back by those people. That inherently means it’s not going to work out with everybody, and that can be difficult on the surface level, but I think if you balance that one equation then all the other complicated and negative stuff that clutters up the universe just isn’t going to matter by comparison.
Who inspires you and why?
Any master of any craft.
Carter Beauford on the drums, Jerry Seinfeld on the standup mic, John Green on the vlog, Shigeru Miyamoto on the game console, and Michael Jordan on the basketball court.
Every single one of them started as a beginner and proved how far their craft can be taken, so what’s my excuse for not getting better at the things I love?!
Performing live with Brinley Addington. Photo by Justin Fleenor Photography.
What has been key for growing your business?
I’ve managed to greatly reduce the amount of stuff I spend my brainwaves on by just dividing everything my life into two piles:
1. Stuff I can do something about, and
2. Stuff I can’t do anything about.
I am definitely not the most talented drummer in Nashville, and have never been the best drummer in any community I’ve been a part of, but that’s not the only thing drummers get picked for, so I’ve tried not to fret over not being the fastest, most handsome, or most technically skilled drummer.
I spend my time thinking about what I can control in these auditions:
Do I know all of the songs and all of the b-sides and all of the live versions from YouTube?
Have I read all of the interviews and checked out all those influences this artist mentioned?
Have I tracked down all the contacts I can find who know the gig so I can get as much insight on the situation as possible?
Those are the things I can control and so those are the details that get my attention. In just a year in Nashville it’s gotten me from zero gigs my first month all the way to only being home five days this month, so I don’t know how well it’ll continue to scale me beyond where I am now, but it certainly helped me get started here.
Describe your major career highlight. What made it personally rewarding?
I’m not on the creative side of the music industry anymore (I just play pre-existing drum parts off of records now, if that distinction makes any sense), but when I was in college I briefly dropped out to pursue my own band, Boom City.
It lasted less than a year due to major interpersonal issues in the band, but in the 9 months that we dedicated to the project, I created more things I was proud of and saw more new places in the world than I’d ever come close to up to that point in my life. It wasn’t much, but 100% of it was built by four friends who dared to leave the structured life behind and move into a house in the unknown of North Carolina.
The artists I play for now are generally playing to much bigger crowds, but when Boom City packed a small club out with fans genuinely screaming for an encore, I felt like my three friends and I had really earned that with our bare hands. It was a tiny taste of that dream we all had as kids to grow up together and become rock stars!
Boom City Performing Live. Image by Josh Langley.
Things are way more likely to happen to the object in motion than to the object at rest.
Starting any new venture can be equally exciting and scary. How do you overcome personal fear and overwhelm?
Maybe this sounds counter-intuitive, but I feel lucky that I’ve failed so much throughout my life.
The ‘scary’ aspect I think if you really boil it down, is probably just the uncertainty of what it might be like to fail. In reality, however bad I’ve messed it up (and I’ve really messed up some things), the universe is this huge place that lets you just get back up and try again if you want to.
Whoever you think has time to laugh at you for failing is probably too busy fearing their own failures to spend any headspace on yours anyway. Of course not every new venture survives… not even close! So do it, and if it doesn’t work out, you will be better prepared than ever to succeed at the next one.
What advice would you give someone wanting to follow their passion and create a career out of what they love doing?
Two things come to mind:
The first is to always be doing it in some capacity. Even if you have a full time clerk job that you don’t want, when people ask who you are, don’t identify yourself as a clerk – identify yourself as a chef (or whatever you fancy your future self to be). And when you get home tired from work, get in that kitchen and make something awesome!
I think if you really believe you’re a chef when you say it, you will act on it, and acting on it will make it come true.
The second is just a vague observation, but I don’t think any passion careers are non-existent one day and then full-bloom the next day.
All the folks I know who are living off of their passion full-time had to go through a long transition period through which they grew their business gradually on the side until it became no longer feasible to work the day job and the passion job together.
That was definitely true for me – I repaired computers for five years before I managed to play full-time for a living, so don’t worry about a grand opening where suddenly one day you’re a fully self-sustaining corporation. Just start by making whatever you make and I think the infrastructure will follow as you grow.
Harry Miree live with Brinley Addington. Photo by Justin Fleenor Photography.
You’ll figure it out when you get there… Just do something, right now!
What does living A Life Less Beige mean to you?
The new! New challenges, new faces, new ideas.
Some of the biggest bummer moments of my life have just been moments of stagnation. This seems to be true for my friends too (maybe it’s just a young people thing?).
If life’s colors are fading to the gray scale of boredom, you’ve got plenty of new colors for splashing sitting right on the palette.
It’s that object in motion concept again – the significance isn’t necessarily the new dish, it’s the new thoughts and challenges that come with the making of that dish that end up adding new color to all of the other seemingly unrelated stuff in your life.
Sorry for all the cooking references by the way… Can you tell I’ve been trying to take my own advice and figuring out how to cook?
I have to ask. Your YouTube videos are very animated. Do your facials help with the drumming?
Ha! I do get the facial expression question from time to time, particularly from people concerned I’m going to have a heart attack.
The short answer is that drumming is just not a calm time for me. It’s such a wide array of emotions to the panic of, “What’s next?! Left?! Right?!”, to the joy of, “Yeah! It was left!”, and then back to the panic of, “Is that girl in the front row OK? I think she had a few too many drinks”.
I guess these emotions are just so heartfelt that my face can’t contain them and they just start coming out.
Harry Miree drumming. Photo by Maylin Chaise Productions.
The universe is this huge place that lets you just get back up and try again if you want to. Whoever you think has time to laugh at you for failing is probably too busy fearing their own failures to spend any headspace on yours anyway.
Quick fire questions: Nashville, America
1. Best breakfast/brunch spot: The coolest, most star-struck breakfasts I’ve ever had in Nashville have all gone down at Fido. The food is good for sure, but really the vibe is what makes it the spot.
2. Favourite place for coffee: I’m not a coffee man but I will eat donuts all day every day if you let me, so I’m going to really impress you with my sophistication on this one and go with Dunkin’ Donuts.
3. Best local activity off the tourist trail: Karaoke at Santa’s! Check it out and you’ll see how it got the name. What a mad house!
4. When you’re not busy working, you can be found: (1) Asleep, (2) Sucked into the black hole otherwise known as ‘YouTube’, or (3) Eating Hot Chicken – the ridiculous local Nashville specialty.
5. Favourite travel destination: Boston, Massachusetts all the way! It acts like it’s a big city but really it’s tiny and sweet. I go to the Improv Asylum whenever I can. Most. Hilarious. Place. Ever.
And finally, how do you see your business evolving over the next five years?
If this YouTube show continues to grow at the rate that it’s grown this first year, then it’s going to be a huge part of my life in five years. I lose sleep at night drooling over all the awesome things we could do with this channel if it stays on track!
All I can say for now is that I can imagine some very cool people being a part of the show if I can just keep on scaling this thing.
Otherwise, as a sideman drummer in Nashville, I’m finding the stages and the music are always changing, so the sky is the limit on some of the gigs that might be lurking around the corner. Or not!
Even if I’m doing exactly what I’m doing right now in five years I’ll be happy, because I’ve made it farther than I ever realistically thought I would just by making a living at this at all.
Harry Miree. Photo by Maylin Chaise Productions.
Every single one of them started as a beginner and proved how far their craft can be taken, so what’s my excuse for not getting better at the things I love?!
This guy is great. Let me know what you took from his insights and advice in the comments.
If you want to see more from Harry including his upcoming gigs, head over to his website, or if you want to watch some of his entertaining drum tutorials, go check out his Harry Miree YouTube channel.