Why Art Is So Important

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I’ve recently been drawing again. A few years ago, I did art and got an A at A levels, got called stupid for not doing a fashion related degree by my teachers and instead went and did what I thought was a sensible, stable three years in Journalism. Although I had a great time and am equally as passionate about words, puns and font types, my heart has always been silently mourning the fact I didn’t pursue my main passion. Because when I went to university, I stopped drawing. I didn’t see the point of doing it if it wasn’t going to get me a job. I was silly.

I have realised recently that since picking up a pencil and scribbling a little each day on paper, that I have regained a part of my soul.

If you are passionate about something, never give it up. Even temporarily. Passions are so important and give you something to strive towards and focus on, as well as something to enjoy other than watching television and stalking people on social media. Technology has kind of killed a little bit of everyones passion I feel. But it shouldn’t be the case.

Country Life – Yorkshire

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A few weeks ago I went to visit my Dad who has moved to Yorkshire for a few months. Alice (pictured), my sister came from Newcastle where she is studying and we had a jolly old reunion. We went to Weatherby, a cute little town with lots of independent coffee shops, cobbled streets and the permanent smell of fish and chips. In true Northern style, there was an ice cream truck in the car park by the river – why let the minor fact of it being October stop people from enjoying such a treat.

If you end up going to York and have time to tour around, I do recommend going to Weatherby and stopping by at Filmore and Union where every type of healthy wealthy hip hop yet delicious treat awaits you. Think beetroot and orange smoothies to smashed avocado on toast to blondies with wheat grass and all at a fraction of the costs in the southern uncomfort (see what I did there – southern comfort – boom!)

 

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I’m Back

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I got a severe telling – off from a friend the other night for the lack of posts on my blog of late. Number one – if you are reading this Josh, hey look at me I am updating it. Number two, I apologise, but life has been hectic and busy and a bundle of stress and ridiculousness all in one flood wave and alas, I just haven’t felt inspired to document it.

My life in New York was exciting and fun and I mourn it everyday. However, it wasn’t reality because well, I was never really going to be able to stay. I long for the day that we can all live wherever we like and nobody no longer gives two hoots about visa control and immigration laws. My heart is still pumping around that big apple but now my head is well and truely back to the present and my new old life (or old new life) in England.

I have done a few picture – worthy things in the weeks I have been absent which I will post in a minute incase any of you wish to take a peek into my rock and roll lifestyle. I’ve refrained for documenting my daily working week of answering the phone in a posh (er) voice and being in charge of the tea and coffee cabinet.

Talking of pictures, I am now a little obsessed with drawing. I used to love art when I was at school but gave it up a good five years ago when I realised I would never get a job in such a competitive field, opting for a far more stable degree in journalism instead.. The joke is still on me to this day.

As a result, I am taking back my passion and have found myself drawing a picture each evening, after eating my dinner and walking three miles from work to home. I did warn you that my life isn’t so exciting right now..!

Anyway, I will be documenting my drawings in a post soon, and you can give me your honest opinions on if they are any good or not!

Speak soon. Sooner than before. Promise!

Returning Home And Finding A New Normal

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As always, I apologise for my lack of posts in the last few months. Time seems to get in the way of well, time. It just kind of grabs you and drags you forward in leaps and bounds to another month, another chapter of our lives. Okay, I will stop with all this ‘deep talk’ now. But seriously, how can it be September already?

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Since my last post, I have been on a plane, been fed dog food (above) – I mean really, would you even let your dog eat this? And flew in the air miles and miles away from the life I had built over the three months I lived in New York, and returned to the ‘normal’.

Those of you who have lived abroad before, or even simply been away for a long time from your home will understand why the word normal needs to be quoted as such. It is impossible to just simply return home and say ‘oh that was a nice trip, anyway how is everyone’. Not in reality anyway. Although I guess if I think about it, that is what I have been doing.

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The thing that gets me is when people ask me ‘how was your trip’, as if I had just been away for a week and have come back with a tan, a memory card of photographs (that are all duplicates of my Facebook album) and a few parent friendly stories to tell the dinner table.

I always find it easy to adjust to new surroundings, but a hell of a lot harder returning to the same familiar ones. Last year, I lived in France for a year and it took me a good three months to recover from that. When I say recover, I just found a new way to enjoy being in the same old place again.

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Moving from the big lights of the city that literally never slept to a small, suburban town is quite a change. In my current ‘home’, the transport comes infrequently, I don’t have a car and very few people I enjoy spending time with live anywhere near me. This means that at weekends, Eastenders, long country walks (that basically go to the supermarket to buy crisps and then home again as it almost always rains) have become my new best friend.

 

New York Diary: Strong Feels And Those Sad Last Times

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The lack of posts these last few weeks has been inexcusable and acceptable on equal measures, I feel. I have been savouring every second here, not wanting to write about it as in every way the act of re-telling a story changes a moment from  the present to the past. Even though these moments are becoming memories far too quickly, I have quite liked cherishing them in my head. That way, I can forget how long I have left here and feel that the days are just my normality, rather than a count down to my departure. Even typing that word makes me feel rather strange. It can’t be time, it just can’t.

I’ve been in New York for 11 weeks now and I have seen myself slowly switch from being a wide eyed newbie unaware of the difference between an avenue and a block, the A and the D train and unsure of the worth of the strange looking coins in my purse. Through the weeks, I have swapped from giving a shit about yellow taxis, the Empire State and rats on the subway (well okay, they still freak me out somewhat) and instead just feel at a comfortable ease in this huge beautiful mess of a city.

What makes me most sad, is not having to go home, but knowing I can’t stay. US immigration, you’re a bitch.

Then there is the dreaded return flight. I feel like my life is hanging in limbo. The possibility of what my life could be if there was a way of staying in New York, and how I predict it will be when I go home: dull.

Returning when everything is the same apart from you is one of the most lonely and frustrating feelings, that only others who have lived abroad can understand. You need to figure out a way to re – enjoy your past life, or most likely, change it up again. This is most definitely not a bad thing. Who wants their everyday lives to stay the same. Especially in your twenties. That to me is more depressing than leaving here. Which is a lot.

I guess I am trying to say that I am more than sad to leave New York. Even though I know I can come back, I feel that I would only want to if I was able to stay. Otherwise it’s like giving candy to a baby on Halloween and taking it back, saying “you said for trick”.

If there are any tricks and tips for staying here, apart from a quick fix green card marriage (something I have already thought of many times), please write below.

New York: So Much Love And So Many Feels

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I’ve been waking up early a lot these last few days. The heat is so humid that I often wonder if I have been kidnapped, waking up in the wilderness of the jungle. Sometimes I think I really have. It’s just more concrete and less wilderness. There are similarities though. Looking around, there are beasts everywhere, both figuratively and literally. Rats, mice, humans – the most animalistic of them all. There is a fight for survival, the weak don’t stand a chance. Pushing your way around the subway crowds without smiling is a good method.

Unlike the real jungle, it is fairly easy to get out of here. There is nothing forcing you to stay, in fact most will say please go – there’s one less person to compete with in finding a place to stay, a subway seat, a table at a $20 bottomless brunch.

Yet there is something so beautifully gritty about this city. So repulsive but compelling, so crowded yet so peaceful. People come here from all over the world to settle. Seek refuge.

Why? Because it accepts everyone and everything. It might swallow you up some days, but it will spit you back out and allow you to see it’s unconventional beauty with a fresh eye. On these days, the days I hate New York and then suddenly see it again in new eyes, I realise how sad I will be when I have to leave.

New York Diary: Taxi Rides, Dollar Pizza And The Most Epic Adventure To Date

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As I am writing this I am still replaying the events from last night over and over in my head, as I used to do on my cassette player when the sound track ‘Wannabe’ came on play. Oh, The Spice Girls.

The Spice Girls, Harry Potter and the Queen are all people many many Americans assume I am friends with, or at least associated with. When I proudly told a group of people at a party last night that I had an audition for Harry Potter, it was shut down with “yea right”. However, said girls friend then went on to ask me if I knew Harry Potter. “Here we go again” I said.

It can be flattering at first when people are interested in your country and ask you to say a sentence in your “wonderful British accent” over and over again, but in week 7 of being here, it has become rather draining.

Forgive me for dithering and not getting to the point. It was just one of those nights where so much happened, it all sort of then blends together and cooks up a storm. There wasn’t a literal storm, although it did rain at 5am when I finally got home.

So to the story. Me and my friend Vittoria went out to a bar in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Welcome to the Johnson’s. Yelp had given it good reviews, I had seen some of the cool NY kids whom I Instagram stalk had been there and all in all looked a fun, cheap venue.

As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by a long, heavy rocker, Jesus look a like who insisted on following us while we stood in the bathroom line and told us that we ‘looked like interesting people’. From someone who had hair longer than Rapunzel, I guess it was quite a compliment..

We sat down, tried to ignore him but he was still hovering over us at our table, insisting on telling us fun facts about himself. When he asked me where I was from and I told him London, he went on to say that ‘London was rubbish’. I then asked him if he had ever been to England, to which his reply was ‘no’. You get the drift, he was an odd ball. What then surprised me even more, is that out of nowhere he decided to lean in and try and kiss me. Horrified that this Jesus maniac turned Judas was in such near proximity to my face, I pushed him away and told him to leave. That mega bitch defensive side of me comes out far too often here, but on this occasion, I didn’t feel even slightly bad. Creep.

We then went on to meet some normal guys from California, who were staying here for a few nights. When they left, we wished we had got their numbers as they seemed normal – a rarity here for sure. We left and went on a mission to find another bar that didn’t close by 12am and hopped on the Subway, avoided (and ran like girls) past a stray rat and finally ended up walking back to where we were before, this time to a club called Pianos. The chances were slim, but blow me down, the two Californian guys were in the bar.

We had a fun time until one of them became too forward and told me he wanted to kiss me (am I just English, or is that just weird) which then made me scuttle off to his friend, who got out crystals and told me and Vittoria to feel the energy and heel ourselves with them.

You think that was weird enough? It gets stranger.

Next, I meet a guy who asks if me and Vittoria want a shot. I managed to upgrade this kind offer to a gin, each and for a good three minutes I sipped it in peace. Vittoria then comes brushing past me and my gin, the glass and the lemon on top all fell to the ground in a dramatic fashion. This attracted the attention of a new potential friend, who told us his friend was having a party in Harlem and that we should go. Why not, we thought.

A 40 minute taxi ride, greasy pizza and taxi driver chit chat later, we were Harlem bound. The after party turned out to be a real bore. His friends were rude, obnoxious and even told me they didn’t like British people. Because I want to end this post by telling you the climatic, dumb quote of the night, I will just point out in the end we left and got back safely (this is mainly if my parents or grandparents ever read this).

So back to the house and the bad conversation. After declaring their hatred for British people, one of the girls then asked Vittoria where she was from. “Italy”, she replied. The girl then asks “where is Italy, is it in England”?

I died. Oh dear girl, I would understand if it were a smaller country that maybe has no ties to the USA. Riga for instance. Fair enough if you haven’t heard of it. But in New York, you have Little Italy, ITALIAN dollar pizza joints on every corner, and a huge Italian community. So to ask if it was in England, is just a little bit awkward.

I don’t mind too much though, I wish England did have its own Little Italy too.

New York Diary: Brunch, A Grand Reunion And Typical Bad Luck

11742656_10206636486738503_2660771760828166799_n Cheers Christine for the great weekend. We said cheers a lot at the bottomless brunch we sat at for a rather long time, mainly because I was taking advantage of the deal. The cultural barriers between us are always so fascinating that we say we have a language barrier. You wouldn’t believe that we both speak English as a first (and only) language. Like or comment on this post if you too would try and have as many free alcoholic drinks with your brunch after paying $30. While Christine had 2 to get her moneys worth (the were around $11 each), I had 6. I feel in the end, the staff started to put less and less champagne in my Mimosa, until it became simply orange juice. Either way, at least I got a good vitamin fix. 11752051_10206636485418470_3756382804636141528_n Christine, pictured above posing in Central Park arrived the same evening I spotted the mouse run across my kitchen sink. It was as if it was a warning sign of more unlucky adventures to come. On a side note, me and Christine are both notoriously unlucky and whenever we meet up we seem to give each other that extra boost of bad luck powder. So I didn’t even flinch when she messaged me to say her plane was delayed, nor when she said her shuttle bus from the airport was going to be delayed too. When we finally met at midnight, we headed straight to the bar where they said they were closing in half an hour. Of course. However, we still managed to squeeze in two beers, a huge catch up and then walked along to Times Square to take some of those typical cheesy but fun touristic photos outside the billboards that you just seem to do when you have a visitor or visit the city. Horray horray.11059964_10206636486898507_198658714555356118_n Christine, being Canadian is super nice to everyone she meets. The cleaner came in to the apartment early Saturday morning and said good morning when Christine said hi to her. When I said hi, she grunted and turned around. She also didn’t say bye to me, answer me when I asked her if she had a nice week, nor did she clean my room. I think she really hates me, and I should be slightly worried. In the evening, we were supposed to be going out to a bar where I had arranged for some of my friends to meet us. Christine was too ill from the sun and walking around the city to come out and when I arrived, I found out that one of my friends wasn’t going to be making it either. It was a disaster and I wish I had just stayed in with the mice and practiced my bonding skills/ not jumping up and screaming every time I see something move across the floor. Ahh, life in New York. Sometimes it defeats you, but it gave us a great story and platform for fun. I hope you haven’t been scared for life Christine, New York is a gentle giant really! Ps. Despite the bad luck, it was still the best of weekends!

New York Diary: Mice In The Kitchen, Rats On The Subway And Bed Bugs Everywhere You Look

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This is now my face. Permanent facial expression for the next two weeks. The next two weeks until I leave my current home. Why? Because today I was going about my normal business, getting a drink of water at the tap, and all of a sudden I saw a mouse run across the sink. That’s right. Run across. Zoom, swoosh. Innocent little sprint. Not. You see, I can deal with most ‘fearful’ animals. Dogs, spiders, snakes – bring it on. But not rodents. Mice and rats are my biggest fear, and now it seems I am living in the same space as one of them.

I am now looking for it constantly everywhere I go. How do you get used to the idea of having to live with a stray mouse? If that wasn’t bad enough, I am constantly finding rats on the subway (something that NY is notorious for, and at least there are normally other people around). There are also bed bugs on the subway, probably in my bed thanks to the mice and anywhere I go really.

Oh, and did I mention I live in Williamsburg. The mice is definitely a hipster.

New York Cafe Review: Black Brick, Williamsburg

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Finding a reasonably priced coffee shop in New York is a difficult task. There are only so many times you can go to Starbucks without feeling insanely guilty that you are missing out on a far more inviting environment while you get your caffeine fix. Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg is notorious for its many rows of coffee shops and bars, and even thought I live so very near by, I always end up some place else.

Today was different and I made it my main task of the day to go and check out a new cafe. Black Brick (300 Bedford Avenue) was rated highly on Yelp and so I thought I would give it a go. The fact it only had one $ sign meant it was even more worthy of a visit.

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I ordered an iced Americano for $3 and it wss pretty damn good. I have found that a lot of coffee in artistically decorated (a polite way of saying hipster run) cafes, especially in Brooklyn is terrible. This coffee tasted great and was strong without sending my brain onto the treadmill. I also overheard the man behind the counter talk about his passion for coffee and how he must like, taste every bean to know what suits the blend. So you know, a bit obnoxious maybe – but at least he got it spot on! You can also buy a selection of cakes and pastries, all for under $5.

The only downside I will say about Black Brick, is that it has very slow, barely there wi-fi. I had gone there to do some blogging, catch up on my emails and do some much needed writing. However, this was all virtually (well un – virtually in this case) impossible as a result of no world wide web to hop onto.

A cafe for admiring the interior (there are plenty of magazines, a few type writers and plenty of tables for large groups), drinking good coffee or simply a place to go to for a reliable to – go coffee. However, don’t make the mistake of lugging your laptop there, as the vintage inspired interior stretches that one bit further to the technology use.