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Australian in Barcelona writing about work and life with a twist of quirky.

I present to you my complete works using the power of aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-read lists

G’day, mates. Thanks for stopping by. I’m Nichola, an Australian lady who lives in Barcelona and writes. You can learn more about me here.

TOP STORIES — Four stories that resonated with other readers.

LIFE LESSONS — Experiences and lessons I learned.

PERSONAL STORIES — Snippets from my life.

SCIENCE & NATURE — Stories from the surprising and wonderful world of science and nature.

PRODUCTIVITY — Easy tips and stories on how to live a more productive life.

WORK — 9 to 5s, freelancing and other ways to earn a living.

POPULAR CULTURE — Ramblings on memorable people and events.


You can learn just as much from bad managers as you can from good ones

Angry man in a suit punching the desk and yelling at the camera.
Angry man in a suit punching the desk and yelling at the camera.

With a corporate career of more than 20 years, I’ve lost count of how many managers I’ve had. I remember those who were inspiring human beings, who served as excellent role models, especially when I was early in my career. I also remember those who were utter nightmares and drove me to quit jobs. I learned just as much from both these types of managers. As I progressed in my career, I tried to apply what I learned, especially when my own time came to manage people.

You, too, will come across a full range of managers in your career…


Just when you thought nature couldn’t get more impressive

Butterflies feeding on the tears of turtles resting on a log in Ecuador
Butterflies feeding on the tears of turtles resting on a log in Ecuador

Did you know that butterflies drink turtle’s tears? Neither did I. Not until I heard it on a podcast. The image of butterflies feasting on the salty tears of a turtle for some reason makes me feel really happy with the world. It’s beautifully weird. Nature is pretty incredible, isn’t it?

There’s a name for this unusual tear-drinking behaviour — lachryphagy. And the relationship between butterflies and turtles is called commensalism, where one species receives benefits from another while the other remained unaffected.

Why do butterflies drink tears?

A butterfly’s diet consists of nectar, water and liquid from fruit. But there’s something lacking in those…


Unseen, unheard, unappreciated

Apartment building with vines growing all over it.
Apartment building with vines growing all over it.

Nanette stood proudly in her school uniform. From her shoes to the ribbons in her hair, everything sparkled with newness. But nothing sparkled quite so bright as the little girl’s eyes.

Nanette took a deep breath and walked through the school gates in her glass box. Ever since she could remember, the box had surrounded her whenever she left home. She couldn’t quite explain it and she’d rather be free. Still, the sun shone in the sky and birds chirped happily, fluttering above her.

Nanette found her new classmates and took her place in line with them.

“And what’s your…


I tried these activities so you don’t have to (unless you want to)

Four people riding camels in the desert with three people walking beside them.
Four people riding camels in the desert with three people walking beside them.

I’m lucky. I’ve been able to travel the world and try a bunch of cool things. I love nature and the outdoors and have had some wonderful experiences. I’ve also had some experiences that sound wonderful but are actually shit. These are those stories.

Climbing a Volcano to Watch the Sunrise

Bali, Indonesia

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? You climb up through the jungle, passing black lava formations and puffs of thermal steam, to watch a resplendent sunrise at the active volcano’s peak.

Well, in order to see that sunrise you need to wake up at 1:30 am to allow time to pick everyone up and drive a couple hours…


I took the Cambridge Face Memory Test to find out if I have prosopagnosia

Blurred image of a man in a black hoodie standing in front of a lake and mountain.
Blurred image of a man in a black hoodie standing in front of a lake and mountain.

I first heard the term “prosopagnosia” (commonly known as face blindness) when I read Oliver Sacks’ memoir On the Move: A Life. The brilliant neurologist struggled to recognise his own reflection in the mirror. I myself struggle to recognise friends and family members when I see them in an out of context situation. I wondered if I, too, might have a wee bit of face blindness. So I did what all people do when they’re seeking a diagnosis. I took a test on the internet.

I took the Cambridge Face Memory Test as that’s the first one that came up…


How my 2021 experience walking Spain’s historical pilgrimage compares with other years

Pilgrim in the distance walking the Camino de Santiago, in a path in a field.
Pilgrim in the distance walking the Camino de Santiago, in a path in a field.

In June 2021, I walked part of the Camino de Santiago. I’d previously walked the entire Camino in 2018, at the height of the pilgrimage’s popularity. But I wanted to know what the experience would be like this year when much of the world is still pretty much grounded.

Before the pandemic struck, the Camino de Santiago was becoming increasingly busy with pilgrims from all around the world. In June 2021, I met pilgrims on foot and bike, but they were very few compared to my 2018 experience. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy my experience. …


Spoiler, #10 is “Why are you single?”

Woman in a black jumper covering her face.
Woman in a black jumper covering her face.

We’ve all copped it at some point — personal questions that are nosy, rude and even hurtful. It’s great to be curious about someone, but why do people think asking such impertinent questions is okay?

Why ask questions that are none of your damn business? Did your social filter fall off into the toilet?

Normally I keep a stash of canned responses memorized, all of them along the lines of politely saying “fuck off”. But then, I had the idea to provide written answers to all the questions I’m tired of being asked. That way I can simply direct people…


There’s beauty in the spectrum of human opinions

Sillouette of a person leaving a tunnel and walking into a forest.
Sillouette of a person leaving a tunnel and walking into a forest.

I’m an opinionated person. If someone says something I disagree with, I get red-faced, splutter, and dismiss their words as bullshit. I tend to approach life with a “yes” or “no” attitude, even though I know things are far more nuanced than that. So I’m coming out of my echo chamber. It’s uncomfortable but totally worth it.

What Is an Echo Chamber?

An echo chamber is an environment where you’re only exposed to opinions and beliefs similar to your own. An epistemic bubble is a structure where other voices are left out and not heard. The difference between the two, I think, is that you’re…


Malfeasance, monsters, misconceptions

A partially-lit skull in very dark surroundings.
A partially-lit skull in very dark surroundings.

The sky was heavy with something that wasn’t rain. It seemed to Sally that it was pressing onto the fields below so that they looked like they’d been ironed.

She and Johnny huddled outside the dilapidated house, a grey structure in the middle of grey fields. Sally looked and listened for something, anything, but there was nothing aside from the distant hum that had started when everyone disappeared.

Since that day, Sally felt as though tiny fingers were pinching hold of her windpipe. If she thought about it too much, they’d pinch harder until she choked. …

Nichola Scurry

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