Tag Archives: people


♡ the darby diaries ♡


Lent has now begun…

In previous years I have thought long and hard about what I could give up for Lent that might help me better myself in some way. I have come up with some truly bizarre ideas such as giving up procrastination, giving up the use of non-words (such as erm, err and ‘like’) and giving up being late for things.

I now know that it’s nearly impossible for me to give any of that up. A few years ago my sister once said to me, “Sarah, you are an ideas person; you are not a completer-finisher!” Liz is spot on. Therefore this year I plan to give up giving up and aggressively pursue some of my personal goals.

One of these goals is that I aim to be paid only by doing things that I truly enjoy. Obviously a big hobby of mine is travel – last week I completed my first On Board Courier mission to New York and I’m on standby for more. In the meantime I am working part time with a florist (I am learning loads already!) and I am propagating my own plants at home with a view to designing and creating some living art. I’m still running my little jewellery business (Darby London for anyone interested) however im currently in limbo what with waiting for my new online shop – very exciting!) My other official current income is via agencies for promotions and tv extra type roles.

So across all my very flexible jobs, I somehow seem to be winging it quite well, without being too tied down to anything (a desk in particular) and my fear of commitment is not being tested too greatly which is perfect for me right now. No two days are the same and I am currently really happy and excited for the endless possibilities that could come.

Fridge Magnet Collection so far Feb 2016
Fridge Magnet Collection so far Feb 2016

I know a lot of people who could not live the way I do, and there are days when things seem so tough, but the highs most certainly do justify the lows. This year I aim to make sure that The Darby Diaries will be mostly full of highs.

I would love to hear about anyone else’s ideas on Lent and whether you have decided to give anything up… or not?!

-TDD x

Treasure Island

Of course I have some fantastic shots of my short time in snowy Sofia and Manhattan. And I plan to reveal these later in the week! Although your current treat is in the header shot of Sofia’s modest and wonderful ‘Mount Vitosha’, which was my fun way of linking up my travels to the story that follows beneath.

But for now I want to share something that bothered me greatly while I was away and at the same time I feel like reaching out to anyone who has spent as much money and as many days of their life trying to paint a skin coloured balaclava on their face as I have.

When I was a little girl I quickly learned that going through Mum’s girly things while she was downstairs in the kitchen was one of the most exciting things I could do with my day. Everything looked super shiny and smelled like princesses and unicorns. One day I came across this boring-looking grey pot. I found this one pretty hard to open by myself so I caved and went down to ask her what it was. She didn’t even bother asking me how I found it (Mums already know everything) and she told me it was to put on boils and spots to make them better. I asked her what she meant and she pointed to a cut on her face. Ouch.

Even at 16 - my most angry age - I was blessed with clear skin
Even at 16 – my most angry age – I was blessed with clear skin

Until I reached 18 I had not a single zit on my face. I had escaped the curse. Until one day around this time, I suddenly grew a painful and unwanted second head right in the middle of my forehead. It was pretty much right between the eyebrows and the size of a crouton and I popped it and it went all over the mirror. I didn’t go out for a week.

Aged 18, bout 6 months before "my first unwanted little friend" I don't think I used anything other than water to wash my face back then!
Aged 18, about 6 months before my first unwanted little friend. I don’t think I used anything other than water to wash my face back then!

Luckily I didn’t suffer too much more until I turned 24 and out of nowhere developed a rash on my chin, which seemed to be getting worse and spreading up my jawline. When the doctor told me it was acne, I was pretty shocked. I was prescribed some Clyndamycin solution and it went away. A year later it came back (I had grown resistant to the lotion) and I was upgraded to antibiotics. I took these for a further four years until my stomach could no longer handle them. After this point it was a case of putting up with the problem. I must say, however, that in recent years I have often been told that I look much younger than my age. I attribute my youthful looks to my teenage skin. Every cloud… Funnily enough since I went all hardcore on travelling, the general problem seems to have significantly improved. My inner happiness did wonders for my health.

There have in fact been a couple of one-off hilarious incidents...
There have in fact been a couple of one-off hilarious incidents…

However during my trip to the Big Apple, my past came back to haunt me. This was a hard, bruising, under the skin devil which I shall name Treasure Island. You may find this name strange but a girl has simply got to believe that even their worst enemy can be a great source of richness, an inner power, a teaching, a test, a challenge. The things that make us fight back and kick arse are the very things that show the world what we are made of. OK so a couple of spots is no big deal but I’m just trying to do one of those cliché metaphors that everyone loves….

The 32 year old teenager in me picked away furiously and inevitably created a war zone, which was very hard to conceal that morning as the centre of the eruption was oozing it’s lava causing concealer to slide off to the sides, only accentuating my problem.

Now – that little grey pot that I found in Mums cupboard was the magic itself, Sudocrem. Thankyou Mother, for the gift of problem and solution. When we used to live together at Firbank (I have lots of great stories yet to come on that magical household), my good friend Sophie and I would sit in the living room for hours in the evenings with white faces. We were porcelain Goddesses. This is a completely normal thing for any girl to do every week, so get involved. This was usually our first port of call during a crisis. Unfortunately being on my travels last week and packing so light, I had no such remedy, or friend, to hand. So I had to ride this one out. I sent a selfie to my good friend Emma, who has also suffered a similar battle. She had no solution and only empathy to offer at this time, which was all that I could have asked for. I was in New York in Mid Town, alone, and needed confidence. Well that was pretty much what happened in the end, I grew a pair and wrapped a scarf round my face. It was snowing anyway.

I’ll now get to the bit you’re all waiting for, and so for one time only, I present to you Treasure Island. Please can I just mention that this photo does in NO WAY do Treasure Island any justice at all…

Happy Monday Y’all.


My one-eyed nemesis... we meet again...
My one-eyed nemesis… we meet again…




Traveller of the Week: Helpful Locals, Labouring in Laos and Staying Young

Name: Berkan Öztürk (friends calls me ‘Turkish’)

Age: 28

Nationality: Turkish

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline): 11 years

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed): Working

Berkan and his favourite reptile
Baby Crocodile

What initially inspired you to travel?

Getting out of my comfort zone. Initially, I was travelling for a self-oriented growing experience, to raise my awareness of different aspects of life. It was a case of self-inspiration.

Before travelling, I used to do the same things, experience the same emotions, the same behaviours. Depending on the day, I might have done things in a slightly different order. I used to get those habits, emotions, movements, and thoughts which were growing into me and making me very comfortable.

The first time I took myself out of my comfort zone (in other words, the first time I travelled) I realized that I was doing new things and creating new connections – which felt to me like it was keeping me young.

They told me that I might be the first Turk in the Vltava River, Czech Republic
They told me that I might be the first Turk in the Vltava River, Czech Republic

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

The selfish beginning eventually evolved into a style where now I am constantly looking forward to contribute to the places which I visit (especially in poor and rural areas).

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?  

I will never forget the help I received in South Thailand. Thank you guys. You are awesome! I had to catch my flight which would bring me back to Europe. I arrived to the city where I was supposed to get a bus to the airport but the bus was not there. Local people told me that it would arrive in 2 hours. I asked them if it would be possible to catch my flight with that bus. They said no. The bus company people were very friendly to offer another solution. The lady working for the bus company bought me a minivan ticket, leaving from Surathani to Phuket. I asked if it is possible to get a ticket for the minivan which was leaving in 10 minutes. She said it was full. I thought I could try to ask people on the bus if maybe there would be one person who would be willing to exchange their ticket. Five minutes before the departure of the bus, I went to the minivan. I explained my situation. There was a Thai woman who looked about fifty years old. Spoke perfect English. She explained my situation to people in the minivan. Suddenly, three people wanted to leave the bus to make a space for me. I tried to tell them that only one space is enough. But those three left. I thanked them. Everybody was smiling. Had a very entertaining minivan trip where I was showing pictures from my trips.  Words are not enough to tell how much I appreciated what they did for me.

A capture from my seat in the minivan, Surathani, Thailand
A snapshot from my seat in the minivan, Surathani, Thailand

What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

In Laos, I was labouring in an organic farm during the day and teaching English to the children in the evening. I am a knowledge worker and I realized that being a farmer is very difficult work!

It is incredible to see how many people have to care before they can bring food to our tables. My mother and father used to work in the tobacco fields for living until they were 18-20 years old. They were always telling me stories starting with something like “When I was at your age, I was picking this and that…”. To me, it was always some kind of story. I never actually tried to understand what it meant until my time in Laos. Now I understand how difficult can life be on some people. The good news is: this is the challenge of our generation. To make things better and fair for everybody!

Learning with young Lao people in Vang Vieng, Laos
Learning with young Lao people in Vang Vieng, Laos

Where are you right now?

I am working in Berlin, Germany.

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?

Germany is probably the most organized country ever. Not much can go wrong.

My favourite city, Berlin, Germany
My favourite city, Berlin, Germany

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

Goa, India. All you need there is: Tent, sleeping bag and a scooter to explore remote places…

Where do you plan to visit next?

I am planning to be in South India in December 2013.


Traveller of the Week: English Nanny in Kentucky, USA

KO koala

Name: Kirsty Owers

Age: 27

Nationality: British

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline): I first started travelling back in 2009, but have spent some time back in England between trips to recover savings.

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed): Currently working as a nanny.

What initially inspired you to travel?

Since a young age I had always wanted to travel so that I could challenge myself in completely new corners of the world. I had never really pushed myself out of my comfort zone before. When a long term relationship came to an end  I decided I should take the opportunity to get myself out there and see the world. I saved every penny I could and headed for Australia first, where I combined some travelling and exploring with a bit of work, which included fruit picking.

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

Travelling quickly proved a lot more fun than I had ever expected. My family seemed very proud of me for gaining this new independence which gave me a real confidence boost. Meeting so many inspiring people on my travels definitely opened my eyes to new things and I started to feel that I my life was becoming much richer in terms of my general ideas and attitudes. I wanted to inspire other people to travel too.

KO elephant

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?

There have been so many but I would say my most memorable would be travelling Route 66 across America with my best friend! On one day we were shopping in Chicago, the next we were watching a Baseball game in St Louis, then had fun writing on upside down Cadillacs in Amarillo. We drove through the wildlife parks of Arizona, rode horses in the Grand Canyon, gambled away in Vegas before relaxing LA and finally reaching our final destination: Santa Monica in California! Everyday was so different and we were able to see so many different American states in such a relatively short time.

KO route 66

What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

When I was in Australia I worked on a fruit picking site. The first day was so hard; planting melon seeds all day in the blistering Australian heat was really tough and I was sure that I wouldn’t last until the end of the week! However, six months on and I was saying goodbye to the ranch. I had learnt so much and made some very good friends there. There are some situations you face while travelling that seem impossible, but if you try to stay positive and persevere, you will often find these the most rewarding experiences.

Where are you right now?

I am in Kentucky, USA. I’m working as a nanny; looking after two twin girls and a four year old boy.

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?

Don’t be afraid to ask the locals for help and advice on anything.  I am finding the local people here extremely friendly and helpful, much more so than I was expecting!

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

Monkey Mia in Australia.  It is a small resort 10 hours north of Perth, I worked in the restaurant there and it overlooked the beach. Dolphins would often swim to the shore and in the mornings they would be fed by the conservation staff, who would also invite members of the public to help feed them! It’s a  great opportunity to see some beautiful Australian landscape and get really close to wildlife.

Where do you plan to visit next?

There are so many places I want to visit including Asia, but right now I plan on applying for Camp America next year.

KO ayrs rock


Traveller Of the Week: From Scotland to Australia with one simple rule – NO FLYING

“IM DONE INNIT” – an extract from Stu’s Facebook status, posted just over two weeks ago.

After a year of talks with cargo ship companies I had my bag packed and was preparing to sleep in the cargo ships spare room beginning in Hong Kong, my last chance of getting to Australia without a plane and they cancelled on me due to a storm. There won’t be another one for months and it’s impossible to sail/ferry/swim to OZ due to the strict immigration laws. Woke up a few hours ago with one of the worst hangovers of my life thought f*ck it and booked a flight to Melbourne and am leaving for the airport now. 

Normally suspicious of an over the top ‘I went on holiday for too long and learnt so much when I did f*ck all on a beach’ status but would like to thank some people. Everyone who put up with me when I started working two jobs and saving up almost two years ago; sorry for falling asleep at your birthdays/every other events. I will repay you in annoying stories that I will find a way to fit into every conversation until you leave me, The Mongolian horse that dragged me into the desert, everyone who let me crash on their couch/car/floor/treehouse or work in their farm/bar/school. All the great people I travelled and lived with and all the mad sociopaths/’professional thinkers’/goofs for the entertainment, everyone who kept me sane over the  internet/skype when I was crazy homesick and not feeling myself and all my family especially mum and dad for being so decent and dealing with awful emails. 

I’ve lost everything (I have two t-shirts and swimming shorts and Muai Thai shorts and for some reason a suit in my bag) and definitely lost my nut and for the record I was never trying to escape my life at home, I just wanted to see some elephants. So will definitely not be my last big trip, but next time you should probably come with me.

And once again all the people I travelled with and the many people every day who pointed me in the right direction/randoms who gave me lifts to places and shared food with me. I can’t speak any other languages but all over the world there is a look of disappointment and frustration that I think is only made for when dealing with me. Didn’t manage to get [to Australia] overland but f*ck it eh was a good laugh for the most part.

Looking forward to having a go in Melbourne. Cheers and beers.


Name:                  Stuart Nixon
Age:                       21
Nationality:     Scottish

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline):

10 months spent travelling from Scotland to China without flying. Now living & working in Australia for the next 10 months. Afterwards? Who knows!

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed):

I worked two supermarket jobs simultaneously for a year to save up for this trip.

What initially inspired you to travel?

My curiosity to see the world was always there from a young age, but over the last few years I had started to question close friends who were between ten and twenty years older than me. I got a general feeling that quite a few of them wished they had taken an opportunity to see more of the world. As I approached my twenties I knew I would need to make it happen soon.

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

This is the dangerous part! As much as I have learned to appreciate the comforts of home, I continuously meet people on my travels that inspire me to keep going for as long as possible.

Nothing ever really goes to plan; you start off with these fantasies of cheap flights, a museum visit, maybe a few parties, before booking a flight back home. But then you suddenly find yourself in the company of the next travelling inspiration and it makes your mind go crazy with new ideas for yourself and your friends.

I met an English guy who, one New Years’ morning, got in a taxi to Heathrow Airport in London and jumped straight onto the Internet there to ask his hung-over friends and family to decide where he was going to go. He had spent the last nine months getting directed around the world by an online community who chose his every move, be it training with Shaolin monks, or becoming an escort in Toronto when the money went low.

Inspiration doesn’t stop there. There were the newlyweds I met, who travelled for nine months wearing their dress and suit. And the man I met in China, who had cycled all the way there from his home in the Netherlands. He had initially attempted to cycle throughout the eastern European winter, but he had turned around and headed to Spain to wait it out. It was there that he met his girlfriend. When I met him in China, he was talking about getting trains from China straight back to Spain after a year and a half of his bicycle journey.

I mentioned it’s the dangerous part, because when you actually meet people who are doing these things and learn how they have made it possible, your thought process fast-forwards from “maybe I could do something like that in five or six years…” to “done” with an automatic calendar and budget plan appearing in your head.

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?

For a single experience, I’d say it was touring around the Mongolian-Manchurian Steppe with some Swedish travellers who I met in an old Russian Volkswagen. I was dragged through the Gobi desert by a horse during that weekend (Do this! ((not the horse dragging part)) I recommend booking the tour through UB Guesthouse in Ulaanbatar. It’s beautiful, you’ll never feel further from home and it’s very cheap!). The most memorable part of the whole thing (and I know this is going to sound most cliché) really was all the great people I met.


When I used to look at a world map I’d get excited at the things I could potentially see. Now, when I think about the countries I’ve travelled or even just hear someone talking about the country, I find myself thinking of ‘her’ and ‘him’ and all the stupid stuff we did there. Even when I see the countries on the map that I haven’t been to yet, I can think of travellers I’ve met who live there, and all the great things they have had to say about their hometowns, and then I can’t wait to visit! So that’s always an exciting feeling to get out of traveling.

What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

Hands-down, it’s missing home. I can deal with long train rides and smelly over cramped hostels, but even at the best of times I would have died just to spend an afternoon at my local pub with some old friends, or sat in watching TV at my Mums.

Where are you right now?

Melbourne, Australia

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?

I just arrived here a week ago! So all I can say so far is bring some money! Or better yet stay and get a job. I swear down, I got a job offer to do labour work on the first day while minding my own business watching a DVD in the hostel. So now I can enjoy the laid back day-to-day Australia life and save (the moneys good!) enough to have some fun travelling up the coast.

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

Mongolia! Just go and find out…

Where do you plan to visit next?

Home for Christmas hopefully! Then who knows. Like I said – the ideas keep ticking around your head…


You can read more about Stuart Nixon via his personal travel blog which he has recently started (now he has more reliable internet access!), which is: http://www.everythingilearneded.tumblr.com/tagged/learnededed/chrono


Traveler of the Week: Coming Soon

Every day we are all meeting inspiring travelers from all paths around the world. If you would like to nominate somebody for Traveler of the Week, please email sarah@s-n.org.uk.

First Interview will be published this week! Watch this space…Image