The Definition of ‘Home’

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Pictured is me, age five in my favourite Spice Girls t – shirt in my restaurant/ house/ cafe/ den in the back garden. Excuse my facial expression, I think I was caught mid – sneeze.

My parents home is currently up for sale and they are relocating to the countryside. I get asked a lot how I feel about that. Don’t I feel sad? Surely I must – those bricks and water that sheltered me from the age of three to now (on and off) will be taken over by a new family.

The answer is no. Not really. To me, it isn’t really ‘home’ anymore. However, it does mean that I will have to find somewhere permanent to live myself. No more ‘going back home’ for months at a time to the safety blanket of my childhood bedroom.

This got me thinking of all my other ‘homes’ that I have had in the last five years – where I have gone off to with the confidence of knowing that if I happen to boomerang back to Surrey, I will have somewhere to stay.

I have had seven bedrooms in the past five years. Three in Cardiff, one in Aarhus, Denmark, one in France, two in New York and the bedroom at my parents house. I find if funny how easily I settle somewhere new, and how hard it is when I have to leave. The familiar is never permanent in life, and this is something I learnt as soon as I moved out of university halls. Your bedroom, daily routine, corner shop, neighbours – all everyday fixtures in your life, are things that suddenly change. I feel a small part of my soul is still in every one of the bedrooms I have stayed in, the ‘me’ then being slightly different to the ‘me now – simply because I have a new routine, a new ‘local’ and a very different view from my bedroom window. Mountains in France, sky scrapers in New York, hills in Denmark and  residential rubbish – trodden streets in Cardiff were once background scenes in my day – to – day life. Now I think about them in the past tense.

With my parents impending departure from the ‘familiar’ family home, I am spending every spare second looking at rooms to move to. As a freelance writer, I have the flexibility to move around the world – anywhere with a plug and a Wi-Fi code. Sometimes I think about moving back to one of my old homes. But I’m scared that going back will ruin the memories I have. People make places, not concrete and bricks.

And so the quest continues to find a place to settle where I will feel asa ‘at home ‘as I have done in the other bedrooms I have had so far in my life. How so very, very grown up.

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: Brooklyn Bridge, Laptop Troubles And More Jazz

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I can’t believe it is Thursday already. How is this possible. I am determined to be productive tonight so have made myself coffee and have enough for a top up, something I will probably need by the time I get half way through this post.

Yesterday I went to meet up with the team behind the scene of Clapway, an online publication company I write for. They are based near Brooklyn Bridge Marina and have such a nice office. It was so great to see the people behind the emails I had been sending my work to and Susan, the very talented Content Manager took me on a tour of the area.

Today consisted of buying groceries and the rest of it was took up by venturing to the nearest Mac store to replace my charger. It was surviving on a piece of rather old tape and when it began to melt, I panicked that I would die if I didn’t replace it immediately.This is the first time in a few days that I have been able to use my laptop properly. A celebratory cheer is needed from you, dear reader. One of the downsides to being in such a huge, reknown city during peak tourist season is the crowds. Of course I decided to leave the house at 5pm, which invited a swarm of commuters coming back from work in my path. Mac, being the iconic, fancy company that it is, meant that it’s store was full of visitors. Some were there to simply take selfies to prove they had been into Mac, NYC. All I wanted was a new charger. Ahh. Two hours later, I got it back home. Damn, a long paragraph to tell you about a rather disasterous event in my day. If you are still reading this, I promise the post will up its excitement notch after… now.

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On Tuesday I went to another jazz night, this time in Harlem. I am so in love with Frederick Douglass Blvd (125 street, ACBD). There are so many bars that are great during happy hour and for brunch at the weekends. I went back to Silvana, which is a Lebanese cafe turned underground jazz bar come the evening. There were some great bands playing, one of which I will be featuring on here in the next few weeks. I met some fun which is always a bonus, as well as some rather odd ones too. One girl came over from across the bar to me to tell me my label was sticking out. It was a huge effort on her part. To clarify, she was in the latter category!)

Tomorrow I’m Leaving For New York

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Time sure does fly by as you get older. I never used to believe it when I was told this, especially at school when it seemed like days dragged on for months. However, I feel I have now graduated into one of those wise adults, who really are true in what they observe in this life we live in.

Two months ago I booked a ticket to New York. I would like to say it was a statement one way ticket number, but unfortunately due to the fact I am British and without a Green Card, a return ticket is very much in order. It is almost like Romeo and Juliet if you think about it. Anyway..

I am going for three months to the big old apple, will probably eat a whole lot of apples and more while there and hopefully have a whole load of interesting tales to blog about while over there.

I will be blogging tomorrow while at the airport, to make a point to myself and you reader s that I CAN be consistent with my posts, especially when I have something exciting to say!!

Apologies for the lack of illustrative accompaniments on this rambled update, but be reassured that you will be sick to death of photographic fun on this blog by the time I leave in August.

Instagram Rehab?

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I have recently discovered the addictive nature of Instagram. I feel like an old fossil who has just stepped out into a new lease of livelihood (okay worst analogy ever, fossils are dead – I know that). Anyway, since realising the fun that can be had on there, and what hashtagging actually does ## I am hooked. Facebook is so boring, I still don’t really get satisfaction from tweeting my everyday movements and Snapchat always takes your best friends away if you don’t snap for a day – such a fickle app.

So back to Instagram. Am I the only one who gets a secret thrill, a *high five, go me* moment whenever I get more than 11 likes? Well, if not – I’ve admitted it now!

If you are now curious to see my Instagram, do go check it out.  I like to take photos of anything and everything and sometimes do that overly uncool thing of posting more than one photo in the same hour. awkward.

@Hannafillingham Ill go follow you back too – now that’s a promise!!

Life Is What You Make It – Live Your Dream

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I hope you are all having a great Wednesday – although how is it already Friday (minus two sleeps) already?

I wanted to write an update on my life, and also to emphasis the fact that living your dream is never, ever impossible. Unless you want to own Bernard’s Watch of course, in which case I’m afraid I still don’t have the answer to that one either. (Nineties British kids will understand this reference – but Google it and you will all wish you had a watch that stopped time too!)

Basically.. I’m moving to New York!! 

Anyone that has read this blog since the beginning will know that I am a little obsessed with the idea of living in New York. It has been my dream long before I even went there back in 2010, as an 18 year old tourist. We stayed in the fancy smancy Four Seasons in Manhattan and ticked off every site, exhibition and shop during our stay. The trip made me want to go back, and live life there like a local. Unfortunately, the small problem of holding a British passport makes it slightly tricky, and my skill set isn’t yet wide enough for anyone to want to sponsor me. Yet.

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So how did this plan come to be? Through Google of course! After discovering an amazing organisation that needed some writing help, I went and offered my services and well basically – NYC here I come! Okay, so it took a few Skype dates,  sheer good luck and some mathematical elements too – I will certainly be on a budget while there! However, it is very exciting and although some may say I’m crazy, I should get a job NOW in England, or simply – ‘you are brave’ (I disagree, especially as Americans speak, well English!) – I am now just counting down the days until I fly to JFK!

I don’t think anyone should strive for second best in life and if you want to do something, as long as you are not hurting anyone and as long as you have the funds behind you, I don’t think you can let reality be the reason to stop you. After all, what is normal in this day and age?

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Alexander Mcqueen Exhibition, V & A – Savage Beauty

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Last Friday, I felt like I was holding a golden ticket. It was indeed a sought after piece of paper, although it was an e – ticket rather than a gold incrusted piece of cardboard – something that would have been far more worthy of what it represented.

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With the ticket, I was able to see the Alexander Mcqueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the V & A museum, a collection showcasing some of his most momentous masterpieces, including his Central Saint Martin’s graduate creations that were bought by Isabella Blow.

You descend into darkness as soon as you enter through the exhibition doors. The people in front of me in the queue, who just seconds before had been nattering away, stopped mid conversation and looked up in awe.

So it was just possibly (obviously certain) a fraction as dramatic as his shows, but the dark room managed to captivate all.

One of the first things you see is his graduate collection, Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims, where human hair had been stitched into the lining of the garments. A voice over plays on repeat  from the documentary, Mcqueen and I,  where 20 – something year old McQueen says “London’s where I was brought up. It’s where my heart is and where I get my inspiration”. It had a powerful poignant effect. Well, for me it did, and was clearly supposed to, as it was also staring back at me on the wall – just incase I had failed to hear the audio.

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There are 5 rooms in total, showcasing some of his most notorious pieces, including one of my favourites – his S/S ’07 dress made from fresh flowers. More hauntingly were pieces from his A/W ’10 collection that he was in the process of making before he died. This included a gold feather dress, that I had to stare at for a good few minutes.

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My favourite room was the  ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. On display were over 100 accessories and garments, some unfinished. I overheard one lady describe how  “it feels like we are all sitting here in his tomb, buried with all that represents him – his clothes”. The adjectives “amazing” “wow” and “incredible” were also on repeat among the other museum goers, as if nobody could string a full sentence together – lost in the moment and the realisation of just how incredible Alexander McQueen was. He wasn’t just a designer, but an artist.

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There were also large screens in each corner of the room playing clips from his most theatrical fashion shows, and showcased in the centre was that dress, from S/S ’99. Pictured below.

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Oh and the other (extra) remarkable bit – Kate Moss made an appearance. Casually.

Albeit it was in the form of a hologram, a miniature version of his Widows of Culloden A/W ’06 show. I watched it quite a few times and realised just how much I love the fashion world. 

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Finding Designer Bargains In Charity Shops For Under £10

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One thing I enjoy doing more than anything else is hunting for new clothes in charity shops. If you check out my 19 year old self  on my old blog, you will see it was something I loved to take snaps of. Through searching through old musty BHS tracksuits and creased Primark t-shirts that cost double the amount they would have cost in the shop, I have found everything from type writers to suitcases.

Although I have been lucky enough to find exciting handbags and jewel incrusted jackets in thrift stores around the world in cities like New York, Tallinn and Amsterdam, I tend to find the best clothes are found a lot closer to home, in The Princess Alice Hospice – Chertsey, Surrey. I am aware that I have just given away a huge secret to any other bargain hunters out there, but it is a risk I will take as it truly deserves the shout out.

So, let me start with the least aesthetically pleasing, the black skirt. What is so special about it you ask? Well, not only have I been after a plain black skirt for a while, but this one was from Jigsaw. At a bargain price of £5, I held onto it as tightly as my Lulu Guiness handbag.

Next, I found this cute little bag, pictured below. It was £2, velvet, vintage looking and quilted. I’m not quite sure how practical it will be on a daily basis, especially for someone like me who feels the need to bring most of my bedroom out on every trip I take, but it was too cheap to leave on the shelf.

Finally, the jacket. I saw it in the window, teamed with a dowdy old jumper and very nearly overlooked it. However, something made me look at it again, take it to the mirror and try it on. It fitted like a glove and I really love the pattern. I am a huge fan of wearing black from head to toe, but as spring is around the corner, I realised that a bit of colour in my life once and a while is not a bad thing. The jacket was £5 too and surprisingly from New Look.

I love the pattern, the colour and the black edging. The black panels on the sleeves are also pretty cool.

So here we have it, a successful day at The Princess Alice Hospice, with all money going to a worthy cause. Win, win.