Her Story: Nicole Eddy

Tell us more about yourself? 

I come from a small tight-knit family who are all born and bred South Africans, although my Dad’s side has British roots. From junior school, I have always loved sport and took part in every sport available from tennis to hockey to cross-country to swimming in junior school. My life-long dream was to become an actress and/or the next Britney Spears however that abruptly came to an end when I forgot all the words to ‘I’m not a girl, not yet a woman’ on stage in our school’s version of pop idols and as a result sung that line about 20 times until asked to leave the stage by my teachers. I have luckily always lived reasonably close to the beach with a surfer as a dad who passed it onto my brother. I quickly followed suit and have since developed a violent addiction to surfing, to the ocean. I try and balance my time surfing with my studies of which I am currently finishing an honors course in brand leadership, a course that is actually completely unrelated to my undergraduate degree, psychology & environmental sciences, completed at the University of Cape Town. To be honest I cannot wait to finish this year as all I want to do is travel to the farthest parts of the world on exciting and adventurous endeavours and share my experiences with like-minded people who share my wanderlust.

Do you have any weird habits that people do not know about? 

I play with my hair or nose when I’m speaking to people; the worst part is that I’m fully aware of it when I’m doing it. I also curl my toes up when I am concentrating or watching TV, I like to think of it as toe exercises. Recently, I’ve become really OCD about cleanliness and being neat within my own space, something which my mom has definitely passed onto me without any choice in the matter, and lastly never make me late, you will be sorry, haha!

How have you been living your life to the fullest?

It’s been hard to live life to the fullest whilst studying, according to my definition of what that means at least. I obviously have to prioritize my time so that my studies come first with play coming second, despite the fact that I often mix the two around. I guess I try and make the most of any free time that I have, whether it is a long weekend or a week-long holiday, I love to take a road trip, whether its 3 hours away or 3 days away. Many people assume that I lead this ‘super adventurous, always in a new place’ type of lifestyle, but really it’s just little trips that I try and do whenever I can wherever I can, often only a few hours out of Cape Town.

What song can always make you dance, especially when no one's around?

Oh boy, I definitely might lose followers after this confession but it would have to be… ‘Macarena’ by Los Del Rio. My gran used to play this on repeat whenever my brother and I would sleep at her house when we were little and we would all dance around her table in the lounge, with the dogs yapping at our heels.

What are the top three activities on your Things to Do List?  

To climb Everest, to hike with the gorilla’s/work with chimpanzee’s as part of an overland trip across Africa & lastly see the mass migration in the Serengeti.

What keeps you motivated in your life?

I know where I want to be in the future, and in that alone is enough to motivate me to reach those goals, which are at the moment constantly changing and growing. A main motivator that keeps me driven is the excitement of the unknown and the future, however working hard to prepare myself for whatever life throws at me. My boyfriend Ben, plays a large role in keeping me motivated, no matter the size of the goals or obstacles that are ahead. He is an example of someone who always grabs every opportunity he gets with both hands and runs with it and when you’re surrounded by hard-working, driven individuals who are constantly dreaming big, it motivates you to do the same.

Do you face any challenges? How do you overcome them?

We all face challenges at some stage in our life and to be honest at the moment I really have nothing to complain about. I’m in good health, I have a great support system, I have amazing friends and after being lucky enough to complete my second degree, I’m about to embark on one amazing adventure, so at the moment it would be unfair to complain.

I think it’s important to remember that I have been given many great opportunities in terms of my schooling and university, as well as the most supportive family structure that I could have only dreamt about. My parents are often the first to bring me back down to Earth when I’m moaning about life, and when you watch all of the disaster and grief in the world, I think that’s enough to overcome trivial challenges.

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What do love to do in Cape Town?

Surfing Road trips…just road trips in general. My parents, particularly my dad, have always encouraged us to explore our beautiful country, which we have been doing since little on family holidays. Luckily, I’ve met like-minded friends who share the love of being on the road and are easy to get along with for long periods of time! There’s also a lot to do within Cape Town such as many different hikes, my favourite being one along the top of the 12 Apostles in Table Mountain National Park, to go to the West Coast National Park particularly when all flowers are in bloom, hanging out at the beach and exploring wine farms…we have A LOT of amazing wine farms.

Honestly, what do you dislike about living in South Africa? 

I think the well-publicized issue of crime affects or effects every South African, whether it is directly or indirectly Although I have never (*touches wood) had an incident in South Africa, I think that South Africans in general are always on guard and on alert. Secondly, the poverty. The divide between rich and poor in South Africa is ever increasing and the differences are so stark between the two, it seems that we get desensitized to it, the begging at the robots, the homeless and the lack of employment affecting so many families.

We think that you must have some amazing childhood memories at Cape Town, do you any exciting stories to share?

Ok, well in South Africa we have people who sell almost anything at what we call ‘robots’, i.e. traffic lights. As soon as it goes red, the vendors start walking down the driver’s side offering goods at the window, from car chargers, rugby jerseys, inflatable toys, passport holders, fruit etc.. My gran had just had an eye operation and her eyes were black and blue and she wore these giant sunglasses to cover what looked like a punch-up. My mom and I had picked her up at the hospital and after being hustled repeatedly at the robot by this guy asking my gran to buy a bag of naartjies (similar to clementines), she rolled down her window, lifted her sunglasses and said ‘NO’. The guy dropped all of his bags of naartjies on the spot and ran screaming down the street. Needless to say, all three of us couldn’t stop laughing for the next hour.

The other experience took place in the Kruger National Park. I had been sitting on a bench in the one campsite beneath a tree that was occupied by a whole troop of Vervet Monkeys, which I was to quickly learn that despite their cute appearance they have a serious set of sharp teeth. After about an hour of birdwatching under the tree, my little cousin walked over to come and sit with me and suddenly every single monkey jumped down from the tree and started chasing me, hissing and fangs blazing. All I had on me was a towel as I had been swimming beforehand, which I was using to swing at them while running backwards. After some serious screaming I fell over a German’s guy’s balcony who then proceeded to stand up and throw water at them, after which all of them vanished. Although it’s funny now, I thought that I would definitely wake up in hospital tattooed in bite marks, haha.

What exactly do you love about the outdoors?

I enjoy the feeling of being brought back down to size and being surrounded in the nature, certainly accomplishes that…and quickly. It helps me to put my problems that I am facing at the time into perspective, and helps me to look at the bigger picture. I gain inspiration from being outdoors within nature, the sounds, the smells, the grand sights are all used to inspire my writing. I am so often in front of my laptop or on my phone and being in nature helps to create the much needed distance away from any of this. 

Since you love the outdoors and your boyfriend used to Kayak for Team Britain, if you could be an Olympic athlete, what sport would you compete in?

Athletics, possible hurdles otherwise short distance sprints. My reason…have you seen those bodies?!

What made you take up surfing and recently, flat-boarding?

My dad and brother have always been going down to the beach since I was little, and I got fed up of building sand castles, so I took up bodyboarding. I still wanted to be like my big brother and my dad so I started to get my dad to teach me how to surf after his sessions. I haven’t SUPed much at all, particularly as there is a bit of rivalry between surfers and SUP-boarders in the ocean, so I thought that I would just stick to the flat water side of things when it came to this. My friend, Tanika is a professional surfer and trains using flat water SUP boards on the canals, so I decided to go with her one day to try it out, it was actually really fun.

Why do you love to surf?

Every wave is unique; it’s different to the last one and will never be the same as any. That just blows my mind! A large part of surfing is being able to accurately judge which wave is worth paddling for all encompassed into being able to read the tides, rip currents and wind. Surfing is a cleansing sport, it’s pure and it’s raw and it certainly quickly becomes something that you base your day or schedule around, if there’s good waves, you shift your plans. The thought of riding energy that has traveled thousands of kilometers to end up under only your feet is an incredible thought too.

Where is your favourite spot to surf? 

The Atlantic – there are fewer sharks, particularly the West Coast as I have grown up surfing there. I also LOVE further up the East Coast out of Cape Town due to the warmer water, better climate and lush scenery as well as some amazing right-hand points, such as Jeffrey’s Bay, and seeing as I’m natural footed i.e. left foot forward, that suits me best.

What is your most memorable surfing experience?

We were coming back from a road trip in the Transkei and only three of us out of the group surfed. On our drive back down, we made sure that all of the surfers were in the one car together so that we could stop in at Jeffrey’s Bay, home to the famous Supertubes, one of the best right-hand point breaks in the world, to have quick surf before arriving at our last stop. After an hour of fun uncrowded waves, the sun cast this magnificent orange pink glow over the ocean as it set, and as we looked up a whole pod of dolphins were swimming toward us. They were literally at arms distance surfing the waves with us. I remember us getting in the car afterwards and all just smiling from one ear to the other out of pure elation. When we got home to everybody else after dark, we were all excitedly telling them our story, however we couldn’t really do it any justice and everyone looked at us as though they were thinking, ‘What are these crazy people on about?’. I guess that’s when the saying, ‘Only a surfer knows the feeling’ is applicable.

Have you ever fear that a shark might attack you since South Africa has quite a high population of sharks and Great Whites in particular?

Yes, definitely. Luckily there have been no attacks on my side in recent history, however I am constantly looking down and around me when I am in the water. I will never paddle out alone despite that’s what most surfers’ dream of and always make sure that there is a surfer within a short distance of me. I have unfortunately been witness to the aftermath of an attack at Muizenberg beach on the False Bay coast, luckily the guy survived and all ended well however it was a vivid reminder that we are in their turf, and we must respect that at all times.

Do you travel the world to find great swells to surf in?

I wish. Studying and earning a student income doesn’t really allow for that. I would love to pursue that dream next year and travel to surfing destinations such as Costa Rica, Indonesia, Maldives and Hawaii etc. 

What was the experience like working at a junior boarding school in England?

Best year of my life! We were fresh out of school and applied through a program that placed us in private schools throughout England. I was lucky enough that three of my friends were going with me from school and two of us got placed only 15 minutes away from each other. I was placed at Stamford Junior School in Stamford, Lincolnshire, it was the most beautiful little town with fresh markets on Saturdays, cobbled streets and had a typical British countryside farm feeling. The kids that we taught and looked after, mainly in the sports department and boarding house were really great too, and definitely added to the experience. My gap mate who I lived with for a year was from New Zealand, Henry, and we luckily got on like a house on fire and quickly grew to having a brother-sister relationship. If it wasn’t for him, my year wouldn’t have nearly been the same so saying goodbye to all my new friends that I had made that year certainly wasn’t easy!

For all of us it was an opportunity to travel during the Summer Holidays and half-terms and meet amazing lifelong friends along the way whilst having a completely care-free year, no drama, no studies and no money, haha. I would recommend taking a gap year to anyone who is in two minds about taking the plunge, particularly if you were like me and was undecided about what to study.

When and how did your relationship between you and Ben start?

We first met in 2011 however it was only in 2012 that we started dating. I met Ben through my mom when she came to visit me in England on a gap year, and then we met up a few times after that but it was nothing too serious. The following June/July 2012, I was heading on a road trip up to the Transkei with a whole bunch of friends and he sent me a message saying that he’s coming to Cape Town, however he arrived one day before we were scheduled to leave, so I invited him with us and things restarted from there.

What do you think are the key components to a healthy relationship?

Communication, trust and honesty (particularly long distance).

When did you realize that “hey, I have completely fallen for this guy?”

Hmmm…it was tricky because of the distance so in the beginning it didn’t really feel real. I would say that I fell for Ben during that road trip, it was long distances covered in a cramped car which really is a true test as to whether you actually get on or not and we got along really well, particularly as we both enjoyed adventure and exploring.

How do both of you make up for lost time spend together?

We spend most days together when he is home, going on adventures, camping trips, catching up with each other’s lives. Nothing makes up for the lost time, however absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder so when he comes home it feels as if we start afresh every time.

How do you find having a really famous YouTuber as your boyfriend, do you ever feel insecure because of that? 

Not really, I actually forget it about most times that we’re together, and I don’t really think of Ben that way at all, maybe because we were together before the idea of YouTube was even a thought. Most of his vlogging friends that I’ve met are awesome people so that provides comfort when he is away as I know who he is with.

Do the fans give both of you any privacy? 

Thinking about it, we do get a fair amount of privacy as the vlogs are only roughly 9 minutes of our entire day spent together, of which about three or less would be focused on us as a couple. I don’t really like to be all lovey-dovey on camera as it always has a feeling of being fake, even though it isn’t, but his viewers love a bit of the soapy couple stuff, haha. I’ve grown to enjoy sharing bits of my life with others and most of his viewers are pretty awesome judging from the comments, the love that he receives from them and what feels like genuine support in both of our lives from them. 

When Ben first started vlogging, do you find it awkward that you are in the videos? 

I found it super awkward. I found it really hard to be natural with a camera on me and as a defense I would just get super shy which didn’t really help my cause. As mentioned above, all everyone wanted to see was us being all romantic and mushy gushy, but for me, that was where the private line was crossed. I also didn’t understand the whole concept of vlogging, why on Earth would people want to watch what you do everyday? But now I understand it, I get it. 

Now honestly, do you stalk on his channel to see what he is up to the day before?  

I’m going to shamefully admit that I’m actually really slack with that. To back me up, my main reason is that we have capped internet at home and I’m already in constant trouble with my dad for finishing it before we’re halfway through the month. I do watch the odd one when I can, however I almost always get a huge feeling of FOMO, particularly when I’m up to my head in work.

What are some of his content that you have on repeat and why do you love them?

My absolute favourite video of Ben’s is his India Visual Vibes, I think that it is so beautifully filmed, and really transports the viewer into the whole experience. Another personal favourite of mine is ‘South Africa Road Trip’ which was our first trip that we did together when our relationship started, so it obviously has some emotional strings attached but it also highlights how magical our trip was. Any of Ben’s visual vibes are always amazing, so I’m a big fan of that side of his filming.

Which fruit/vegetable do you think your boyfriend resemble and why?  

I would go with a dragon fruit. They’re pretty rare to find in shops back at home, and Ben is definitely rare, unique human! They’re beautiful on the outside as well as the inside and they taste pretty good! They’re pretty much the ultimate fruit, just as Ben is the ultimate human!

Was there any interesting incident that took place during your Canada trip but was not captured in a video? (We all doubt that didn’t happen)

Haha, well as you said, almost everything was captured on video! The one thing that stands out for me was our first day on the slopes, and I had just finished my first lesson for 2 hours. I could just about manage one turn without falling despite the fact that it took up the entire width of the slope. Feeling a bit nervous still and a little in shock, Ben came over to tell me that we had a lunch planned on a restaurant at the top of the mountain, much to my disbelief. I mustered up all of my courage and finally got to the ski lift trying not to fall over, and soon enough I was at the top of the lift facing my most daunting moment…how on Earth do I dismount off this thing? I resorted to holding onto everyone around me but everyone managed to get out of my desperate survival grip and there I was crawling into safety, snowboard on one foot, apologizing and dodging all the incoming skiers who were getting off the lift.

I tried my best to be as cool and collected at lunch however I had the shakes, my feet were so cramped in my boots and my appetite had gone. All I could think of when looking at the view below us was…’Oh crap, how am I ever going to get down to the bottom!’. At the end of lunch, it was time to meet my first ever slope and luckily I had my instructor with, who was very patient with my constant wipe outs on my bum and knees, my grumpiness due to my constant falling, and cramps in my calves from edging down on my toes. I couldn’t have been happier to reach the bottom, by which time the ski slopes had closed, needless to say Ben was not in my good books, haha!

As you are a student, how do you finance your travel trips with Ben? 

We have only done one major trip together (Canada) and luckily for me, most of our costs were covered thanks to Travel Alberta. I had saved up money from babysitting as well as a campaign that I did for Budweiser before we left so that funded all of my extra activities, gifts etc. Luckily our local camping trips have been fairly cheap, with the main expense being petrol and food so that’s relatively easy to cover, although I did run clean out of money during a road trip with Ben when we drove his car up to Johannesburg to be kitted out by Frontrunner, and we took a long scenic way home through the Drakensberg mountains. So that was not my finest hour, and it’s pretty embarrassing to have absolutely nothing in your bank account having to rely on someone else, despite their relation to you, for all of your expenses.  

What would you call your style of photography? Do you restrict yourself to a certain style of photography?

Hmm…not really. I’m actually very new to photography and have only just learnt what all of the settings mean and what their effect is. Ben was definitely my main inspiration for finally attempting to listen properly during the ‘camera explanation’ as I have received so many times in the past from my dad and brother who both work in the film industry. It all comes down to just getting behind the lens and experimenting with all the different settings until it looks how you want it to. I am still developing my style and experimenting along the way all the time, learning new things and making mistakes. 

What equipment do you use to shoot your beautiful photographs?

Either my iPhone or Canon EOS 450D with my fixed 35mm. When Ben is here then I steal his 5D when we’re exploring together. It’s definitely my next big investment!

How do you want to express your images to your audience? 

I just want my images to be real and fun. I want them to be bright and exciting to my audience capturing the exciting parts of my life in the best way possible.

Where was this photo taken and how did you manage to capture it?

This was taken just after sunrise at Atlantis Sand Dunes in Cape Town. We were all sitting on the sand dune waiting to meet up with Jeremy who we had lost during the course of the morning whilst shooting and he showed up and gave it some beans up this ramp. We thought it looked so great that we made him redo it, however even faster than before. This was the result! I was sitting at the top of the small sand dune with my finger on the trigger from the time that he reached the bottom of the sand dune to the time that he landed the jump. Luckily it wasn’t midday and the sun was not harsh, creating soft colours in the sky and creating almost a golden light on the sand that was throw into the sir around the car. It was one of those spur of the moments, ‘whip out the camera as fast you can’ type moments and luckily for me, all of the elements were on my side.

Congratulations on becoming a curator on YouTube very soon. Could you give us a little teaser as to when you will be launching your first video on your channel?

Thank you! I’m actually really nervous about it to be honest. It’s one thing letting people into your lives through writing, however it’s still a very intimate private space whereby public ‘in the moment’ videos capturing every detail is pretty daunting. This will actually be the first time that I would have openly told everyone about my YouTube plans for next year, so that’s exciting! Potentially…sometime within the next 3 months.

Do you plan to have a different take on your channel compared to Ben? What do you think sets you apart?

Yes, I could never be a daily vlogger. I enjoy my privacy too much and it also means that my rainy days spent on the couch will have to be limited, as people demand fun things every day. So, for me it will be a platform for people to get to know me better however still not be as intimate as daily vlogging as I want the destination, the journey into new places to be the main focus rather than my life. I’m still working on how I am going to work the videos, length, style etc. but I guess that just comes with time as I head into this new path.

What can our readers and your viewers expect from it?

A fun and hopefully interesting adventure. I want it to be one big adventure! I’m don’t really have a plan for next year…at all, so it will be awesome to take my audience along with me into this new phase of my life I know nothing about editing, apart from the little things that I have learnt from watching Ben edit his videos, so for me it is important that these videos are well-edited and put together. That’ why I want to have a few ‘practice rounds’ first this year to get familiar with how to edit properly and film things from new perspectives. 

Any chance you could tell us your first stop in your travel adventure?

There has been a lot of complications with this. My first stop will be with my best friend from school, Tarryn, and our initial plan was to work at a ski resort either in Canada, America or Japan however being on South African passports has proven to be extremely difficult, almost impossible from the point of view of attaining visas. I think that our first port of call however will be to Canada, nothing is confirmed as of yet though. Either way…I’m going snowboarding!

Lastly, what can we expect from you in 2015?

Well, my first priority is finishing my degree, which will be completed in November. I know from previous students that this semester is extremely time-consuming so my time will mostly be focused on that. I’m sure that there will be some fun little micro-adventures or camping trips in between which will hopefully be captured on video from my side. Other than that, more blog posts, Instagram posts and a whole lot more surfing!