I’ve been a journalist for over 15 years. I got into travel journalism while backpacking around Australia in my 20s and worked for Travel Maps Australia in Sydney and Perth. I interviewed backpackers about their experiences, reviewed a hostel called The Witch’s Hat, wrote about my WOOFING adventures (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) and road trips to The Pinnacles and Uluru. Back home, I won a scholarship to study magazine journalism with Emap and spent the rest of the year in muddy boots writing for Country Walking magazine and Motorcycle News.
Peterborough wasn’t nearly glamorous enough, and I had London in my sights so left after a year to freelance on women's mags. I wrote for Here’s Health, Eve, Celebrity Bodies, Woman’s Journal and You & Your Wedding (that didn't last long – I’m not the white meringue type). I took on extra gigs so I could eat - selling perfume to American tourists in Penhaligon’s, temping for PR & advertising agencies and I spent 18 months working for a private detective agency in Battersea (interesting diversion).
To make it in journalism they say you need to specialise, so I decided to write about sex. Having had issues with vaginismus for years, I was looking for therapies and holistic treatments that might help me, so I wrote about my experiences for Scarlet magazine, Here’s Health and Eros Zine. I tried herbs for libido (they work – I had a fantastic herbalist called Fiona Waller in Muswell Hill), tantric yoni massage with Kavida Rei and ‘Mike’ – an Ayurvedic escort cum masseuse, prostate massage workshops, orgasmic meditation classes, naked nightclubs and fetish fairs. I set up an online magazine called RUDE and developed a nice sideline reviewing sex toys. I even had an adult dating site for a while – meet Naughty Nicci (much to my family's horror). I researched the female orgasm for Amora, the UK’s first museum of sex & relationships, and wrote ten books on sex, parenting and menopause.
I’m now working on a new project – a slow travel guide to Hastings & St Leonards. I believe in a more personal, experiential form of travel which means trains over planes, walking the streets to get to know the geography of a place and connecting with the community. Intimate or 'slow travel' if you like. I want to get beneath the skin of a place and leave with a sense of its people, personality and politics. One of the things I love about Hastings is the chance encounters and random conversations that make each day enjoyable. This is a raw, creative and diverse town full of artists working on their own projects. To live here, you need to a certain mindset and a strong drive – there are few well paid jobs, so you need to create your own. It’s either that, pimp your puppy or suffer the arduous 1-hour 45-minute commute to London and back each day.
Why Hastings? It’s salty, on the edge and never quite there, which is part of its charm. Though things are moving – there’s talk of a new marina and a fast train link to London in 2020 which will change the landscape dramatically (get in now while property is still affordable). There is plenty to celebrate here. We have beautiful Burton architecture in St Leonards, an award-winning modernist pier, the world’s only underground skate park, a magnificent art deco block of flats modelled on the Queen Mary, a Russian art gallery and theatre, and tons of independent shops and cafes – there are hardly any chains in St Leonards - Boots, Londis, Nationwide and the Coop, so it's a refreshing alternative to the UK's clone towns.
Since I love walking and am always wandering around taking photos, I figured I should do something useful with my time and turn this into a project that will benefit the town. So here we are: Welcome to Fabulous Bohemia Hastings. Please join me for the journey.