Language Update: January 2023

This post is inspired by the Day 26 Bloganuary prompt:
What language do you wish you could speak?

Market Square in Kraków, Poland

It’s been a while between language updates. The last one was back in January 2020, which feels a lifetime ago like anything pre-pandemic seems these days.

Throughout the three years since my last update I have continued working on my German, French and Russian language skills, and have recently added a new one: Polish.


In January 2020 I was planning a trip to Germany to visit friends who live there – an ideal opportunity to practice my German as I travelled solo around the country! Unfortunately, as we all experienced, my April travel plans were cancelled when the world shut down to try to stop the spread of Covid.

I’ve continued practising my German. Over the past year I’ve refreshed my grammar knowledge. I’ve improved my vocabulary, and watching German Netflix series and documentaries has helped me pick up words that I wouldn’t have used myself.

I want to continue improving. While I find it fairly easy to speak, listen, read and write in German, there are colloquialisms and abbreviations that native speakers use that I haven’t grasped yet. It would be great to be able to be fluent in German.


In 2020, I was struggling with French. I struggled with conjugating the different tenses, especially the conditional and future. I would actively avoid using pronouns because I didn’t understand where they went in the sentence structure, and which one to use when.

I’m much more confident using these now, helped by daily Duolingo use and watching enough Netflix (The Circle is my guilty pleasure, and I loved watching The Circle: France for the ability to practice my French! Same with Emily in Paris – being able to hear the French characters speak in French and understand what they are saying has shown me just how far I have come in my language learning).

I do need to listen to more native French speakers – in some cases they speak so quickly it’s difficult to distinguish each word that was said. That will be my next challenge in learning French!


A controversial one these days, though I have still continued with it, buoyed by being able to use it as a base to be able to more easily pick up other languages in the Slavic language family.

I’ve been improving. It took the longest time to be able to write and remember the sounds for the Cyrillic alphabet, and my overall progression has been slow, especially since Duolingo has been my only tool for learning Russian, and grasping grammar and syntax has been difficult.

I can form simple sentences, and have basic conversations about my life. I’ve passed Russian speakers in the street and have been able to understand the few words I heard, and sometimes I can translate the Russian used in news segments before the English translation is spoken over the top of it. I’m hoping that the further I work through the Duolingo course, the easier it will come to me.


One day I would like to visit north-western Poland, where my ancestors originated from. To this end, I’ve been dabbling in learning the basics of Polish (made easier by sharing certain similarities with Russian). I’m hoping to learn enough to one day get myself to the small village where my relatives lived before they migrated to Australia in 1836.

What are your language goals for 2023?


I Still Call Australia Home

This post is inspired by the Day 25 Bloganuary prompt:
What is a song or poem that speaks to you and why?

The iconic view of the Twelve Apostles
The iconic view of the Twelve Apostles

Every time I come home from a trip, I have Peter Allen’s ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ playing in my head (although sometimes it’s playing in the plane, as Qantas has used it in many of its advertising campaigns).

For me, it has a real sense of nostalgia to it. It is a song that is embedded in modern Australian culture. My first memory of hearing it was when I was seven years old and my family was at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, where a cast of animatronic Australian animals sang it as part of their show.

I have often thought about whether I wanted to live overseas. So many Aussies spend their post-uni years on a work visa in the UK, or working during the ski season in Canada, that I wondered whether I wanted to do something similar. But at the moment, I love where I live too much to want to be away from it for too long. As much as I enjoy travelling and visiting new places, I am also a homebody at my core.

I Still Call Australia Home embodies this to me: no matter where in the world I am, my home is waiting for me with open arms.


Childhood musings

This post is inspired by the Day 22 Bloganuary prompt:
What was your dream job as a child?

It’s funny the things you think are possible when you are a child. I lived in a world of my own making where anything was possible. In reality, the country beachside town where we lived, the city in which my grandparents lived, and the highway between the two of them constituted my whole world.

Jobs were something people’s parents had, and I didn’t have a concrete vision of what I wanted to be. I played at being Cinderella when organising my toys, or the Little Mermaid when swimming in our pool. I was good at cross country running, at playing hockey, at tennis. I would write ten pages worth of story at school when only one was required.

It wasn’t until I was twelve years old that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. In class, we had been given a theme to write a story about, and everyone’s stories from that assignment were submitted into a local school writing competition.

I spent all of my free time either writing stories or reading books. There was constantly a stack of borrowed library books teetering in my room. But it wasn’t until my story from that class assignment became a finalist in that writing competition that I put two and two together and realised that writing is something I could do as a career.

While writing isn’t my main source of income, it is still something that I enjoy. I’ve seen some of my stories published, and I am constantly aiming to make my twelve-year-old self proud!


What 2023 Will Bring

Sunset at Brighton Beach, South Australia

2023 is here and now that the New Year’s celebrations have died down it’s time to start thinking about what this year will bring.

After three years without travel due to Covid restrictions and risk factors, closely followed by becoming a new parent, my travel bug is slowly crawling out of hibernation. While I still may only be able to travel locally for a while, I want to make it more of a priority than it has been.

So how do I plan to do this? By reminding myself of my love of travel by indulging in my travel memories.

There are so many stories from almost ten years of solo trips that haven’t made it on to this blog. My intention for creating this travel blog was to share my travels, and answer the questions that I had about particular places that I could not find the answer to (leading to posts such as ‘How to get to the Robin Hood section of Hadrian’s Wall‘ which continues to be the most searched-for post on my blog).

I’d love to weave in stories of the local travel I intend to do this year around South Australia with the adventures and reminisces from past years throughout the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Europe and Australia.

To kick this year off and to hold myself accountable to reinvigorating Castlephile Travels, I will be participating in #bloganuary, a 31 day blogging challenge organised by where bloggers respond to a different writing prompt each day in January. My posts will appear a day later, as prompts are released at 12PM UTC, which is not until 10:30PM my time.

Today’s prompt is: What is something you want to achieve this year? I intend to use the prompts to delve into my travel memories and share stories that I hope will inspire your travels.

What are you hoping to achieve in 2023? Share your thoughts in the comments below!