It was May 2013 and I was headed to Toronto, Canada. The land of maple syrup and sexy lumberjacks. Little did I know what lay ahead of me.

Only The Beginning

I flew direct from Gatwick to Toronto with Air Canada. Flights were around £500 return. This all sounds relatively simple, that is until you factor in that in order for me to get to Gatwick I had to get a train…… with four changes.

Then, of course, there was the small issue of me not finishing work that day until 5.30pm……. in the ass end of Devon. This meant of course that I had to catch a late train, which in turn meant that I had to “sleep” in the airport. I say “sleep”, because, well, how can anyone be expected to actually sleep in an airport without some sort of a buddy system in place.

I did not have a buddy.

I was flying solo this time.

Well, at least until I met my mother in Toronto that is. Travelling with a parent is the best, just so you know. Nothing uncool about it! Anyway, when I arrived at Gatwick it was just after 12am. My flight check in did not open until about 5am. I had no choice but to find a row of chairs to claim as my bed for the night.


Settling In For The Long Haul

First things first, I gave the death-glare to all surrounding airport-goers. This was guaranteed to intimidate them into not steeling my highly important, ok maybe just important to me, stuff while I dozed.

I didn’t trust any of them.

Then it was time to get myself comfortable whilst simultaneously looping one arm through the handle of my suitcase and wrapping the other protectively around my backpack.

SIMPLE. Oh and had I mentioned that I was also suffering from some serious back pain due to a judo-related injury? No? Well, as you can imagine, that made my sleep all the more pleasant. Spine-crunching is actually a very therapeutic bedtime melody. Honestly, I don’t know why people still listen to whale sounds.


Home And Dry

After a couple of hours of stolen sleep I made my way through check in, security and onto my plane. It’s a miracle I made it that far, as by this stage I had started to resemble some sort of creature from a zombie film. My spine was causing me to hobble with a very unsettling lean and I was genuinely worried that the check-in lady was going to ask me to check in the extra bags I was carrying under my eyes.

But none of that mattered now, I was on the plane, I had at least five hours of comfortable and safe sleeping time to look forward to.

At least, that’s what I thought.

Little did I realise that air plane seats are actually sinister devices designed to torture those of us suffering from back pain. I shifted uncomfortably and thought to myself “Surely this couldn’t get any worse?”.

That was when I started to feel it……. waves of nausea together with a strange sensation in my abdomen, the one that all women dread and are simultaneously thankful for each month.


Are you actually for real Mother Nature, you absolute sadistic bitch?!

The cramps kicked in and it felt like a lumberjack had mistaken the inside of my womb for a forest as he hacked away with his little axe.


Normally I deal with this sort of situation by assuming the foetal position, pumping myself full of drugs and spooning a hot water bottle. However, the plane seat combined with my crippled spine and general lack of hot water bottle made this all impossible. I took what drugs I had, devoured whatever chocolate there was available to me and spent the next 5hrs wondering if I was leaking through my tights whilst clutching desperately at my stomach.


Prepare For The Worst, Hope For The Best

Ladies, I highly recommend always keeping feminine hygiene products with you in your hand luggage. Sure, it could get mildly embarrassing if the male security guard selects you for the random bag search, but I’d rather that than the alternative.  Unfortunately for myself I had neglected this step in my packing process (never again). This meant that I had to ask the lovely air host for something, ANYTHING.  It was either that or get all dark-ages with a bunch of tissues from the bathroom. … which I didn’t really fancy.

At least it was a woman sitting beside me. She might have at least somewhat understood my plight. Solidarity,  sister.  Finally, after 5hrs of agony I crawled off the plane (that may be a slight exaggeration) and collapsed into the arms of my awaiting and somewhat amused mother. AND THAT WAS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE TRIP.

If you were freaked out by all this talk about periods,  don’t be.  Periods are a sign that you or your significant other are neither old,  nor pregnant,  both highly desirable things to be reminded of.

So count yourself lucky.

5 Responses

  1. Jade Lee Wright

    Hey Tara! I’ve just found your blog through Chris – and was so excited to come on over and read your blog from the beginning. His latest post shared that you are busy doing exactly what I dream to do so you’re a huge inspiration to me right now.

    You right so brilliantly, raw and hilarious! Leaving every gory detail in which is just what you need to come to terms with the reality of LIFE!

    SO excited to read your journey – and one day make the same leap!

    HAVE FUN and seriously enjoy every moment!!

  2. Shirley H

    Love your honesty Tara! What is more important in travel writing than being real? You’re a delight to read, and an inspiration. Great job!

  3. Shirley H

    Love your honesty Tara! What is more important in travel writing than being real? You’re a delight to read, and I found myself smiling a lot. Great work, and you are an inspiration to me.

    • Tara

      Awww thank you SO MUCH Shirley this is such high praise. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for reading.


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