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Benefits of Diving | The Top Ten

What’s so great about scuba diving?

Happy Jen and Hazal!

Here are my Top Ten reasons why scuba diving is one of the best things you can do for yourself – and for our planet!

Use this handy navigation list to jump to any section!

  1. Learn a new skill
  2. Travel to new places
  3. Boldly go where few have gone before
  4. Find space and calm
  5. Be at one with nature and life on earth
  6. Meet new people
  7. Improve your mental health
  8. See exotic wildlife
  9. Do more of what you love
  10. Conserve our precious ocean & planet

Learn a new skill

There’s something to be said for broadening your horizons and learning something new! A sense of accomplishment is up there with one of the most basic human needs and, with scuba, you can be sure to find endless opportunities to develop! From starting out by earning your Open Water Certification, to taking it all the way to Technical diving and diver specialties, the road to expanding your knowledge is bountiful.


Travel to new places

Whilst travelling to tropical locations to spend time in the sun, sea and sand is at the top of a lot of people’s agendas, you don’t have to draw the line there. Scuba diving can be conducted almost anywhere that you find water! From the ice caves of the Arctic to abandoned inland quarries, lakes and rivers, there are innumerable places to explore to seek out new underwater adventures. There might even be diving right on your doorstep – metaphorically speaking…

…Unless you happen to live here:

Gorgeous beach shack in the Dominican Republic

Boldly go where few have gone before

Although there are globally renowned dive sites which host thousands of divers every year, the world is full of unexplored terrain – both over and underwater! As a certified diver, you are at liberty to take a buddy and adventure forth into the unknown. Map new dive sites, search for wrecks, perhaps you’ll even discover a rare or undocumented marine species!

Secluded beach in Indonesia

It’s also important to recognise the privilege of this experience. We may have evolved from water dwellers millions of years ago, but the ability to explore the source of life on our planet is a beautiful gift recently bestowed to us. Take this opportunity to delve into the unique and undiscovered blue that represents 71% of our earth’s surface and find yourself at one with our planet and it’s aquatic origins. You’ll be one of a very lucky few.


Find space and calm

The water is a vast entity with depths we can only imagine. It is a sacred space, and you can feel it. It holds you like a full body hug and guides you into a state of mindful meditation. Scuba diving is not swimming – the aim is to expend as little energy as possible for the most rewarding experience.

Upon entering the water, it’s not silent as you might imagine. It’s bustling with pops, crunches and squeaks from aquatic life. The melodic rhythm of your breathing accompanies you on every journey, becoming your own meditative metronome. Your heart rate slows as you enter a space of relaxation, where tranquility washes over the body and mind. For about 60 minutes, you are at peace – living absolutely in the moment – and that is truly priceless.


Be at one with nature and life on earth

Like a stroll along a beach, a walk in the park or a mountain trek, a dive in the ocean brings you closer to the elements! Where the earth’s jungles have monkeys, exotic birds and insects, the ocean have sharks, dolphins, whales, tropical fish, eels, rays, turtles, crustaceans and so much more. Just as there are fields of wildflowers on land, there are beds of stunning varieties of coral, bearing their beautiful shapes, colours and sizes for our eyes to feast on.

They say that time spent in nature is the best medicine, and I couldn’t agree more.


Meet new people

Who needs tinder when you’re on a dive boat?! Jokes aside, it’s a fabulous way to meet people from all over the world and many walks of life. Life-long friends can be found in the dive community. Travellers, holiday makers, marine enthusiasts, environmental agents, thrill seekers, and passionate dive professionals are just a handful of the types of people that board the dive boat every day. No matter who we are or where we come from, we are all part of one big family!

Your dive boat buddies are among some of the best friends you’ll find.

Improve your mental health

This has been a major part of my personal journey and I genuinely can’t advocate for it enough. Like some type of miracle potion, scuba diving has opened my eyes to the wonder and value of all life, including my own. I’m at peace every time I enter the water, living in the moment, allowing my senses to carry me on a voyage of gratitude for who and where I am on this planet.

Happy Jen

Scuba:

  • Demands that I slow down
  • Invites me to be grateful
  • Values forward planning and problem solving
  • Encourages me to remain calm in times of difficulty
  • Reminds me to breathe and take responsibility
  • Stimulates my mind with the wonders of our world

See exotic wildlife

Glide alongside the majestic Hawksbill Turtle. Dance with Bottlenose Dolphins and seek out the meandering Moray Eel. Hover in awe of a gentle giant, the Whale Shark. Swim with hundreds of species of fish in a single dive. Observe the miniature Nudibranchs that require a keen eye to spot. Study the symbiotic relationship between the Gobi and the Shrimp. Avoid the Titan Triggerfish… (who are big softies, really).

And that’s just the beginning.

I love all the fish in the ocean (except triggerfish!)

Coral is an outstanding animal and an essential contributor to our marine ecosystems and planetary survival. It acts as a nursery for thousands of species to nest their eggs, providing shelter for their early stages of development. It provides food sources for all sorts of life-forms, including parrotfish, who create sand as a byproduct!


Do more of what you love

Scuba provides an excellent platform for you to build on hobbies that you already love! Perhaps you’re an avid photographer or videographer? Maybe you have a home aquarium or are interested in plant propagation? If you’re into sustainability and environmental protection, then there is so much scope for you to pursue and develop these interests in the world of diving!

Underwater filming and photography is great fun!

Conserve our precious ocean & planet

Although this may be the last item on my list, it’s definitely not least. This is possibly the most prevalent of all benefits of scuba diving.

We are visitors to the largest ecosystem on our planet and it’s only right that we do everything in our power to protect it. It’s our duty to give back to nature, or more aptly, take away all the things we’ve put there that do not belong.

Every dive is a fun dive but, more importantly, every dive is an Eco Dive. We are ocean ambassadors and the effort to remove bags, cans, plastic bottles, lighters, indeed, anything that doesn’t belong in the ocean should be at the top of our to do list.

The most important rule of diving is to never hold your breath. Alongside that, I’d say never hold anything. The creatures of the ocean, big or small, strange or familiar, friend or foe are not to be touched. There are surfactants on the skin of marine animals which are there to protect them from harmful and foreign bacteria. If we touch anything – even with gloves on – we risk exposing them and compromising their immune systems.

The only things we should touch or remove on a dive, are the man-made waste products that shouldn’t be in the water in the first place.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my top ten benefits of scuba diving! If you did, please share this post, like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram. Your support is hugely appreciated – thank you!

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Become a PADI Divemaster | Thailand 2020

How to become a PADI Divemaster
Koh Tao

No matter where you want to go to do your DM course, here’s a quick guide on what it takes to get there!


If you still need a little push in the right direction, check out 10 of the best things about scuba diving!


Divemaster Prerequisites

Before you begin your PADI Divemaster Course, you’ll need to:

  • be 18 years old
  • have a doctor’s medical statement of fitness, signed within 12 months
  • be certified as a PADI Rescue Diver
  • have an Emergency First Response (or similar first aid) certification within 24 months – if you’re a medical professional, you’re sorted
  • have 40 logged dives
  • have at least 1 month to complete it (though I’d recommend taking 2+).

A lot of dive centres can work out a package price for you if you’ve still got a few courses or dives to get under your belt before you start.

If you book your DM Course here, you get to DIVE FOR FREE the whole way through! It’s the best way to gain experience and get your numbers up!


Where should you do your Divemaster course?

It’s a big world out there! Consider…

  • country, continent & culture
  • visa restrictions
  • living costs
  • political stability
  • local dive laws
  • weather & dive conditions
  • work opportunities
  • social lifestyle

What about the dive centre?

I’ve got experience with Simple Life Divers on Koh Tao, Thailand. I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have!

There are many dive centres & schools out there, and they all have different ratings. I’m still learning about these but if ‘5 Star’ is in the title, I think you’re in with a pretty safe bet!

Take into account…

  • customer reviews
  • certification numbers
  • DMT turnover
  • course, materials & fee costs
  • location
  • pool/boat facilities
  • accommodation
  • perks – free diving/future discounts

but most importantly…

  • will there be whale sharks!?


What’s in the PADI Divemaster Course?

The PADI Divemaster Course can be completed in as little as 3 weeks, though I would recommend taking around 3 months.

Becoming a Divemaster is a commitment. You’re dedicating your time, money & energy to developing your knowledge and skills to a professional standard. You’ll want to get the most out of every component of the course so that you can become the best possible version of yourself!

The main components…

  • Knowledge Reviews 1-7 in the Divemaster manual & Exam 1
  • Knowledge Reviews 8-9 & Exam 2
  • Learn how to use RDP tables and the eRDPml
  • Complete skills circuits and demonstration workshops
  • Map a dive site
  • Exercises in Search and Recovery & Deep Diving
  • Shadow Divemasters and Instructors as they teach courses and lead fun-divers
  • Present boat/dive briefings
  • Conduct a scuba review
  • Conduct diver rescue simulations
  • Complete the swim exercises:
    • 400m swim
    • 800m swim with mask, snorkel & fins – no use of arms
    • 100m tired diver tow in full scuba kit
    • 13 minute tread water + 2 minute tread with arms elevated

Fun-dive for free all the way through your DM course when you book with us!

Get in touch!


PADI Fees and Professional Dive Insurance

If you want work as a DM you will need to pay your PADI fees to achieve ‘active’ status. Check if this is included in your DM course cost.

Depending on where you are in the world, you might also need professional insurance. It is not compulsory in every country, but it’s a smart idea to have it incase anything goes wrong with you or your students.

If you are an EU citizen (the UK is still included at this time) I would recommend Aqua-Med for professional dive insurance. Check out their website for more information!

If you book your insurance through this link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself, and I would be very grateful for your support.

I only recommend products & services which I value and have used myself.



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Box Jellyfish Amigurumi | Free Crochet Pattern

What is a scuba diver in lockdown supposed to do?!
Crochet some ocean friends, of course!

Boxy! Jen’s original crocheted box jellyfish

If you’ve fallen in love with this little cutie please get in touch for custom orders!

If you’re creative and fancy the challenge, I’ve included my original pattern below.
I would love to see your creations! Post them on my Facebook Page or use the hashtag #diveintotravelling and tag me @jen.diveintotravelling so I can see what you’ve been up to!

Happy crafting!

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Box Jellyfish Crochet Pattern (US)

I had been searching for some crochet inspiration and found that the web is inundated with jellyfish amigurumi! However, I had a good long search and couldn’t find a pattern for a box jellyfish, so I made my own!

Real-life Box Jellyfish, shared via OceanTint Instagram

I would say this is a project for the intermediate crocheter – someone who has had a little bit of experience of basic stitches – but that doesn’t mean that a beginner can’t take on the challenge! You’ll just have to do some preparatory research into simple stitches and techniques to find your bearings.

I took some technical inspiration from other crochet artists and have included the appropriate links so you can check out their stuff 🙂 Enjoy!

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You’ll Need

  • Crochet hook
  • 1 yarn though 3 different shades is preferred
    • I would recommend blues; be careful with lighter colours as they get dirty quickly
  • Stuffing is essential but let’s innovate rather than create a market if we can! If you have an old pillow, duvet or cushion, you can use the polyester filler from that. I have even used and old pair of tights as stuffing – I’m a big fan of upcycling and protecting our earth and our bank accounts!
  • Darning needle is highly recommended, but it is possible (if rather frustrating) to attach tentacles and close the cube without one.
  • Buttons or safety eyes are optional; you can darn eyes and mouth to avoid small parts if this is for a baby or child.

Key Abbreviations

  • sc – Single Crochet
  • dc – Double Crochet
  • ss – Slip Stitch
  • ch – Chain Stitch
  • 3sctog – 3 Single Crochet together (decrease)
  • *abc* – repeat abc until the end of the round
Jen.diveintotravelling Instagram video of Boxy
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Crochet Cube – Jellyfish Body

This was inspired by Shelly’s “No Holes” Sc Square – Free Pattern and GratiaProject’s Amigurumi Cube so you can check them out!

A miniature crocheted box jellyfish body

You can make your jellyfish body as big or as small as you wish by adding more or less loops in the beginning. Just remember to adjust the ‘length’ of the body to maintain the square shape.

  1. Magic Circle with 8 single crochets (8)
  2. *sc, 3sc in one stitch* (16) The middle stitch of the group of 3 is the corner. I place markers in the 4 corners to make the next steps easier. Use a paperclip or safety pin if you don’t have a crochet marker.
  3. ss to join the round, ch1 & sc into the same stitch. This is the same process for the start of every round.
    *sc in each stitch except for the corners which get 3sc each* (24)
    Remember to replace the corner markers each time.
  4. Repeat Step 3 until you have completed as many rounds as you wish. Every round should have a multiple of 8 single crochets. Boxy has 10 rounds, ending on 80 stitches (19 stitches between corners).
  5. ss to join the round, *sc IN THE BACK of each stitch* This is the transition from the top of the body, to the ‘face’. You can remove your corner markers, but I still use one to mark the round of stitches (80 in my case).
  6. *sc in each stitch*
  7. Repeat Step 6 for as many rounds as it takes to create a square shaped body. Boxy had 20 additional rounds.
  8. Fold the sides of body from the top to the bottom to determine your new ‘corner’ stitches. Remember how many stitches you have between corners as you should still have this many when you replace your markers.
  9. *sc IN THE BACK of each stitch except the corners, which receive 3sctog* This is the transition from the ‘face’ to the underside of the body and the start of the decrease of the square. Remember, the corner marker is the middle of the 3 stitches so make sure and include the one before and the one after when you stitch them together. Replace the marker in the new stitch you have just formed.
  10. *sc in each stitch except the corners which receive 3sctog* Repeat this step until there is just a small opening left in the bottom of the cube. If you want to attach buttons or safety eyes, do so now & add your stuffing.
  11. Continue with Step 10 until you have just 8 stitches left in the round. Use a darning needle to link up the 8 stitches and close the cube.
  12. The skirt is attached in the top stitches that we left in Step 9, in the ‘bottom edges’ of the cube. *3dc in every stitch* though you could get away with 2dc in every stitch for a similar, less crowded effect.

Congratulations on forming the body of your jellyfish!

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Curly Cue – Tentacles

Inspired by Handwork DIY’s curly cue video – check it out!

Two-tone blue Curly Cue crochet tentacles

This is where you can incorporate other colours, materials and sizes of yarn if you wish. I used some leftover fleecy yarn that was twice as thick to give 2 fluffy, cuddly tentacles. The other two were in the style of the curly cue above, but much longer.

  1. Begin with a length of Chain Stitches and don’t make them too tight to work in. Remember that the finished length will be almost half what you start with. I used 50ch for Boxy’s tentacles (+3 as you will see in the next step).
  2. Add 3ch, to compensate for the upcoming double crochet.
  3. Go back to the final stitch in the chain from Step 1 and put 2dc in that stitch. The 3ch from Step 2 count as the first dc in that stitch.
  4. Put 3dc in every stitch in your chain. This is what creates the tension and causes the curl. Leave a long yarn tail at the end when you tie off, to connect the tentacle to the body.
  5. If you wish to add more colours, you can start at the tip of the tentacle and put 1sc in each stitch as can be seen in the video above.
  6. Make FOUR tentacles.
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Now all you need to do is darn them together!

  1. Using the long tail from Step 4, start closer to the centre of the body and work your way out. The tentacle should end in a corner.
  2. Darn through each stitch at the top of the tentacle and back into the body.
  3. Start with the additional colour stitch, back through the body.
  4. Then the top of the double crochet and back through the body.
  5. Then the bottom of the double crochet and back through the body.
  6. Finally, darn the original chain stitch into the corner at the base of the body.
  7. Check that all areas are securely attached by giving the tentacle a gentle pull. Now, send the darning needle through the stuffing and out through the side of the jellyfish. Tie a knot in it, close to the body, and cut the yarn just above it. Using the flat end of the crochet hook, push the small knot back through the body so it’s no longer visible.
  8. Pull any remaining threads through the body in the same way.
  9. Repeat until all 4 tentacles are securely attached.

Now you have your own, beautiful amigurumi box jellyfish friend!

Boxy, in all her glory.

You can hug this one as much as you like, but just remember to stay away from them in real life – they’re not so cuddly in the ocean!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this! If you have, please share this post, like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram. Your support is hugely appreciated – thank you!

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Check out some of my latest posts…

Quarantine Playlist | March 2020

Searching for some musical inspiration to carry your through isolation? Look no further!

Playlists available on Spotify & Youtube!


View and download the full track list!


Dive Into Travelling: Travel Playlist for February 2020 on Spotify
Dive Into Travelling: Quarantine Playlist for March 2020 on Youtube

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Job Vacancies & Financial Support (for UK People & Businesses)| Covid-19

With the Coronavirus bringing so many industries to their knees, millions of people around the world are inevitably going to be out of work. Other industries are desperately seeking employees to deal with changing demands, so I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of vacancies (mainly in UK retail) to help make the job search a little bit easier.

I will continue to update this page as more information becomes available.
Latest Update: 30/03/2020


Jobs Vacancies

Here’s a list of some employers with current vacancies – all in one place.
You can narrow the results by adding your location to the search bar.
You can also search for jobs via S1Jobs, Glassdoor, Indeed and more.


Financial Support

Unfortunately, the UK government have provided little concise information at this difficult time. There are people in so many different positions, dealing with zero hour contracts, redundancy, self-induced quarantine or statutory sick-pay, to name a few.

I hope the following links provide some light in this dark time, but more importantly, help people get the support we desperately need over the coming months.

Screenshot from the gov.uk website
The Redundancy Payments Helpline is back up and running as of 19 March 2020

Support For Businesses

My heart goes out to all the ambitious, talented and passionate business owners who, through no fault of their own, are facing the potential destruction of their livelihoods. Here’s a little advice from the government with, hopefully, much more to come.

Some good news for Scottish Businesses


If you are a business owner and have set up a support fund for your business, please leave a link in the comments.

I will continue to update and add to this page as more information and relief is brought to light. We will make it through this if we work together.

With love, peace, strength and solidarity,

Jen x


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Postcards From Italy

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

Today, I spent several hours chatting to friends and family over different video-calling platforms. In a way, I count myself lucky that this is all happening at a time where we can stay connected through the wonder of technology. It also goes to show that the internet should no longer be considered a luxury – it’s a utility!

So, the plan is to keep communicating regularly, and I’m slowly creating a list of family and friends to call at the same time every week. Where we would have planned to go out for lunch or coffee, we now get that coffee at home, plant ourselves comfortably and spend time chatting, as though we are side-by-side.


After feeling a calling for quite some time, I finally took a few minutes to conduct some Metta Meditation for all the people of our world, offering love, solidarity, strength and peace.

Beirut – Postcards From Italy
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Quarantine Playlist | March 2020

Searching for some musical inspiration to carry your through isolation? Look no further!

Playlists available on Spotify & Youtube!


View and download the full track list!


Dive Into Travelling: Travel Playlist for February 2020 on Spotify
Dive Into Travelling: Quarantine Playlist for March 2020 on Youtube

Advertisements

Job Vacancies & Financial Support (for UK People & Businesses)| Covid-19

With the Coronavirus bringing so many industries to their knees, millions of people around the world are inevitably going to be out of work. Other industries are desperately seeking employees to deal with changing demands, so I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of vacancies (mainly in UK retail) to help make the job search a little bit easier.

I will continue to update this page as more information becomes available.
Latest Update: 30/03/2020


Jobs Vacancies

Here’s a list of some employers with current vacancies – all in one place.
You can narrow the results by adding your location to the search bar.
You can also search for jobs via S1Jobs, Glassdoor, Indeed and more.


Financial Support

Unfortunately, the UK government have provided little concise information at this difficult time. There are people in so many different positions, dealing with zero hour contracts, redundancy, self-induced quarantine or statutory sick-pay, to name a few.

I hope the following links provide some light in this dark time, but more importantly, help people get the support we desperately need over the coming months.

Screenshot from the gov.uk website
The Redundancy Payments Helpline is back up and running as of 19 March 2020

Support For Businesses

My heart goes out to all the ambitious, talented and passionate business owners who, through no fault of their own, are facing the potential destruction of their livelihoods. Here’s a little advice from the government with, hopefully, much more to come.

Some good news for Scottish Businesses


If you are a business owner and have set up a support fund for your business, please leave a link in the comments.

I will continue to update and add to this page as more information and relief is brought to light. We will make it through this if we work together.

With love, peace, strength and solidarity,

Jen x


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Postcards From Italy

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

Today, I spent several hours chatting to friends and family over different video-calling platforms. In a way, I count myself lucky that this is all happening at a time where we can stay connected through the wonder of technology. It also goes to show that the internet should no longer be considered a luxury – it’s a utility!

So, the plan is to keep communicating regularly, and I’m slowly creating a list of family and friends to call at the same time every week. Where we would have planned to go out for lunch or coffee, we now get that coffee at home, plant ourselves comfortably and spend time chatting, as though we are side-by-side.


After feeling a calling for quite some time, I finally took a few minutes to conduct some Metta Meditation for all the people of our world, offering love, solidarity, strength and peace.

Beirut – Postcards From Italy
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A Walk In Nature

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

Today’s highlight was meeting my good pal Graeme and going for a nice walk in the rain round Kelvingrove Park.

I took it all very seriously – no hugs or handshakes (even though this was the first time I had seen him in over 6 months) and I didn’t go into any buildings.

We walked with at least a metre between us and I kept my hands in my pockets as much as possible. It’s quite a challenge to avoid touching anything at all!

The thing that gets me is that people think I’m doing this because I’m scared. That I’m taking it way too far and overreacting.

Honestly, I wish I had done it sooner.


I’m devastated for all the bars, restaurants, pubs, musicians and companies in the events and tourism industries because this will be the end for so many. They’re torn between staying open to save their livelihoods and closing to save lives, and that’s a sickening predicament to be in.

Without a definitive lockdown, and forced closure of establishments by the government, these businesses can expect no compensation from insurance companies and will be left to fail.

Please see this post on financial assistance during Covid-19 lockdown, for some up-to-date information.

Support your local business:

  • leave positive reviews
    • TripAdvisor
    • GoogleMaps
    • Facebook Pages
  • share and like their social media
  • order online
  • order takeaways
  • buy & send gift cards – check for online versions!

This situation will change, but let’s do everything we can to promote local businesses and protect our vulnerable citizens, while we can.


Roots Manuva – Movements
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Happy Birthday Hand-Washing

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

It was an interesting birthday. Shout-out to my parents for cooking the perfect meal and providing my favourite Caterpillar Cake to top it off!

Thank you for the lovely messages and calls, from friends and family around the world.

It’s been a most uneventful birthday, but that was to be expected.

One thing is for sure…millions of strangers were singing Happy Birthday for me today, and they didn’t even know it!


Nico – These Days
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Red Dead Redemption 2

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

After 6 months without playing a Playstation, I’ve been making up for lost time. I know I’m a bit late to the party, but RDR2 is top notch!

I played that for a few hours, spoke to my Grandma over a video-call for a while, took a walk around the neighbourhood and picked up a couple of things from the Co-op, all the while maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres from anyone around me.

At one point on the walk back, I thought the handles on my bag were going to snap, that my shopping was going to fall out all over the street. There was a man nearby and the whole scene unfolded in my head – he walks over to help, we both look at each other cautiously, yet apologetically, he falters and I say I’ll manage by myself.

None of this actually happened, but I do imagine that our compassion for strangers may wane during this time. Will we be so likely to help another human out, this time next year?

I hope this whole thing actually brings us closer together within our communities. Wave 1 will be difficult, but we can regroup and plan for how we deal with the next few waves. I’d like to see some permaculture food production in local areas. The sun, water and earth can provide much of we need, and thankfully, those resources are still available to us.


Guru, Baybe – Lifesaver
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Stay The F*** Home

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

Today I did just that – I sat and played Red Dead Redemption 2. I drank 6 cups of tea. I make a Thai green coconut curry because I’m having withdrawal symptoms. I read some good articles on COVID-19, including the daily situation update from the World Health Organisation.

The truth is… I feel guilty. It felt weird going out in public yesterday to all these restaurants, knowing full well the best thing I should be doing is hiding myself in my bomb-shelter and not being a potential link in the chain.

I’m frustrated because I’m only here for 1 month. I came here to see all the people I love and miss. I came here to give hugs, to go out and eat delicious food, to celebrate my birthday and see my friends and family. I’m also aware that none of that matters in the grand scheme of things.

What matters is flattening the curve. What matters is protecting the vulnerable. What matters is not being selfish.

I will need to think seriously about whether I continue socialising, because I’m beginning to believe it’s not the right thing to do. If I’m being brutally honest with myself, I know it’s not. I should really stay the fuck home.


Mount Kimbie – Made To Stray

A Strange Time

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

It’s a rather strange time, right now. There’s no doubt that my life on Koh Tao is a little bubble – we’re far away from the mainstream British media, and far from the fear. There’s definitely still enough toilet paper on that tiny island to last a lifetime.

Even if we did run out of bog-roll, no-one would panic. Almost every toilet in Thailand comes with a bum-gun, as standard!


Today was a pleasant day of catching up with friends. A lunch at Stereo for Monty’s birthday. Tea and cake with Andie at Glasvegan, a lovely little cafe at St Enoch Centre I had the pleasure of visiting for the first time. A couple of pints of soda water with my old architecture pals at The Lab. Finally, a delicious dinner, thanks to Saska’s incredible home-cooking.

I’m grateful to have such lovely friends around me and, although there’s a lot of stress in the air, it’s so nice to see people’s smiling, happy faces.


Additional Lowlights:

  • My Glasgow to London connecting flight has been cancelled. No word of the flight from London to Bangkok, though. I’ll have to investigate…
Otis Redding – Hard To Handle

Sober and Smoke-Free | Six Months

Diary of a Scuba Instructor in Glasgow, Scotland.

Alright guys – so it’s time for another milestone post!

I’m finding peace in the waters of my mind.
I know it won’t always be smooth sailing, but I bathe in the waves of calm that wash over me now, for the first time in many moons of my life.

A short poem I wrote at the 3 month milestone

Six months ago I left Glasgow to pursue my dream life as a professional scuba diver. I flew to Koh Tao in Thailand with the ambition to complete my training to become a qualified dive instructor. I also had a secondary mission: to stop smoking and drinking.

Less than a week after arriving in Thailand, I got started on that secondary mission.

People told me it would be hard to do on a paradise island, where everyone’s enjoying cocktails in the sun and cigarettes are as cheap as chips. They weren’t wrong!

I will tell you though, if you really want something, you’ll do anything to make it happen.

I knew I had to remove myself from the regular catalysts in my life. Unfortunately, that meant my social life, my good friends who drink and smoke. It meant leaving my work-places of a pub and a call-centre, where the cigarette break is a right of passage.

Perhaps, most importantly, it involved me moving away from the people who contribute to my feelings of guilt, inferiority and worthlessness. It can be hard to recognise these patterns while you’re in them, but once the cycle is broken, these triggers become astoundingly obvious.

By moving away, I removed some of the behavioural & psychological triggers in my addictions, and broke those parts of the cycle.


People ask me now that I’m back in Glasgow, if I’ll break this new habit of abstinence. They wonder if this is a life-long choice – will I ever have a drink again?

The answer is: I desperately hope not.

For those of you who are in recovery from addiction, I commend you on your journey! For others who are taking the psychological steps to do so, I encourage you to look deep within yourself, listen closely and honour your mind and body. The first steps are the hardest.

Stopping a habit long enough to clear the physical desire is one thing, but the psychological crutch is another ball-game, entirely. Just 2 days into my time in Scotland and I’ve already been reminded of challenges & traumas, along with the negative effects that this cold, dark climate has on my mental state. I’ve also experienced self-loathing and judgement that I’d been set free from for the last 6 months. It’s been a difficult few days, and it’s okay to admit that. It’s important to recognise when the journey gets tough.

However, instead of dwelling on the people and places that bring me down, I thought I would write a list of the things that I have achieved in the last 6 months, to remind me that I am strong, and this is absolutely worth it:

  • I single-handedly created Dive Into Travelling – Website, Instagram & Facebook.
  • I became a PADI Rescue Diver and Emergency First Responder
  • I completed a 400metre swim unaided in the sea in under 6 minutes and 20 seconds, earning the top grade for that skill
  • I climbed the first ladder of professional diving and qualified as a PADI Divemaster
  • I completed the PADI Instructor Development Course
  • I sat the 2-day PADI Instructor Exam, and received 5 out of 5 for every, single unit.
  • I became an Emergency First Response Instructor
  • I paid my fees and became an active PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor!
  • I taught and certified my first students
  • I completed a TEFL certification course
  • I set and maintain a Daily Writing Challenge for this blog
  • I’ve created Travel Playlists from my songs of the day
  • I’ve participated in numerous beach, reef and land cleans
  • I started the @beachcleandaily Instagram to promote our efforts as individuals – if you’re on the beach, lets work together and clean it to truly enjoy it!
  • I’ve been solo travelling and can’t wait to continue the adventure
  • I have not touched a drop of alcohol or smoked anything for 6 months!

That’s everything I can think of at the moment which has made me proud in the last 6 months. It feels good to write this down and acknowledge them because, honestly, I believe the route of addiction starts in a lack of self-worth. Sometimes you have to take a moment to reflect on the minor, or major achievements of your life to remind yourself that you are the one who gets you through.

See you at the 1 year mark!

Jen

Whilst the above story is a relatively happy one, I know what it feels like when the challenge seems too great.

Please use the below links to get access to a huge list of UK and US helplines. Call 116 123 in Europe for emotional support, and specific contact numbers.

LIST OF UK HELPLINES

LIST OF USA HELPLINES

LIST OF SOUTHEAST ASIA HELPLINES

If you know of any other country-specific helplines please add them to the comments on this post. Thank you.


Here’s what I wrote on my last milestone:

Today marks 3 months since I last had an alcoholic drink or a smoke of any kind.

I have a million and one fond memories of the nights out I’ve had with many of you. From my McChuills family, to my own family and lots friends from all my walks of life, a large number of pints were consumed (and so much more).

Though following the great nights were some very long and very hard days. The great times I’d had the night before were marred by my crippling anxieties, my chest heavy and pained from the chain smoking, my head clouded and weighed down by the hangover.

It became easier for me to avoid dealing with the hangover by following it with another few beers that night – just a couple, of course. Then maybe a few more the next night. And a few shots of patron cos why not. Then after a week or so I might take a day or two off, just to give my body a wee rest.

Though, within a few days I would find another good reason to be back on it. And what was the point in just one or two pints, after all?

I began to resent myself and loathe the choices I would made on a daily basis. In the throws of agonising headaches at 7.15am after being out til the wee small hours, to the hacking coughs, I would vow to myself never to do it again. How could I put my body through all this turmoil on such a regular basis? It simply wasn’t sustainable and I knew it, but I just couldn’t find the will in myself to stop, to make the change. I’d beg my body to hold up for me now, and more importantly down the line in, hopefully, many years to come.

In all honesty, I had bribed myself for many months that by leaving Scotland, by coming out to Thailand, by pursuing my dream of becoming a scuba dive professional, I would finally make the change.

I didn’t even make 2 days on the island before I cracked!

But that was it. Just two days. It was the morning after that, I made the decision. And I really made it.

I had bought a packet of rolling tobacco that night from the 7-11 outside BND on Sairee Beach, but I never actually had a cigarette out of it.

I kept the packet sitting on my fridge in my hotel room, taunting me everyday as I walked in and out the door for weeks. My good friend Adam was travelling from Scotland through Thailand and came to hang out with me for a week or so, and he was enjoying all the bounties of cheap beer and 70thb packs of cigarettes (£2.20) and rightly so!
But I didn’t crack.

I had the support of a good friend Chris, who had been forced (through allergies) to quit alcohol almost a decade prior. It was good to bounce my feelings off someone who would understand the social implications I anticipated of being a non-drinker.

It was hard at first – no doubt about it. Wondering if there would be a ‘when’ or looking for a good enough reason to drink again. Wondering if I would be accepted at the pub by my friends, and what about back home? I’m from Scotland for fuck sake, it’s our version of water. How will I hold up when I come back at some point?

Alas. 3 months have gone by since those first-week’s woes.

My skin is clearer. My eyes are whiter. My wallet is fuller (lol kidding on I’m skint as ever). My relationships are smoother. My confidence has grown. My ambitions are bigger. My drive is more powerful. My mornings are brighter and I no longer wake up with the feeling of exceptional dread that I had grown accustomed to as my norm.

As for anxiety? There is no doubt it has been reduced – significantly. I still experience it on a regular basis, the odd panic attack every couple of months, a few bursts of catastrophisation throughout the week, but it’s seriously moderated now.

This has all stemmed from finally listening to my mind and my body, and honouring their calls for respect.


DJ Shadow – Six Days
Hamish Imlach – Goodbye Booze
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