Brighton: Babes, Boys and Birthdays

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This weekend, I went away to Brighton for my friends birthday. Josh is now the grand old age of 24 and we celebrated in style, with wine on the beach, trips to The Lanes and some of the best falafel I have ever had.

I had only ever been to Brighton in the rain before. It’s such an ‘English thing’ to be so dependent on the weather, but the sun really did make such a difference to our trip. I had never even seen The Lanes before this weekend, only the back – ends of the shopping centre and the beach when I was around ten, and got frustrated with the stones not making the perfect castle with my bucket and spade.

If like me and Josh, you are a fan of vintage clothing and one – off finds (that my parents often mistake for ‘garbage’), then you will love Snoopers Paradise in the centre of the North Laines, ideal for finding old magazines, furniture and clothing. Brighton Flea Market is also good – located down Upper Saint Jame’s street, nearby to trendy jazz bars, cafes and a short walk away from the pier.

Our weekend went far too quickly and I know that there is far more of Brighton I want to see/ sea (!) – this sunny weather has certainly given me a new – found love for the city, and I can’t wait to hop back on the train and flock there again. This time though, I will bring my sun cream. All that sitting on the beach did nothing for my Albino – esque complexion.

Ultimate New York Nostalgia

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It has been a year since I first left the UK to go to New York, packing a tiny suitcase with me with five outfits, one bag, three pairs of shoes and a whole lotta dollar (well, not quite). My expectations of the city were very different to the reality. It was hard living there – especially in the humid heat. I stood out for the better and the worse with my posh British accent, got far too annoyed with tourists and found myself becoming far more direct and brash ‘New Yorker style’ towards the end of my stay (it didn’t last long – don’t worry).

I wrote a post about leaving last August and I wanted to re – post it to share. It defines my trip and my opinion and my experience of the city.

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.

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.

In Celebration of 100 Years of Vogue

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The thing I love most about ‘now’ is that anything and everything goes. Magazines are being published by school kids through social media – a virtual boat that the 14 year old me missed by a decade, while the nineties comeback has meant my staple dungarees, scrunchies and pinafore dresses are actually considered ‘cool’ once more.

I lived and breathed fashion as a teenager. I went to a school where being ‘cool’ meant spitting in the street, wearing a tracksuit and dropping syllabus when speaking, so wearing experimental wellies as replacement shoes, customising my own clothes and making my own magazine – Dollybirdz (more on that another day) was a way of reminding myself that there was a life outside of my tiny school.

This time last year I was lucky enough to meet Jean Paul Gaultier – and let me tell you, he was as friendly as he looks in this photo – one of the rare occasions I swallowed my pride and asked for a photo – I am sure you would too though, right?! The experience made me feel as if I had gone full circle and finally achieved a small part of my teenage – selves dream. I even got papped on the way out of the venue – so Ab Fab, darrliing!

 

Returning To One Of My Many Homes

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I like the small pleasure of being somewhere long enough to be in the ‘know’. These stairs are not only the gateway to the beautiful Bute Park, but a shortcut to the city centre. I count Cardiff as one of my many homes. Studying there for three significant years of my life, it feels far more familiar than the town I grew up in.

I went there for a few days last week to visit a friend and reminisce about old times. While it was a nice time, it was the first time I had gone back there that I didn’t really feel so at home. There were so many new places, old haunts had shut down, and the students were suddenly babies, rather than being my age or older.

There is something quite haunting when you find that the familiar is slowly changing, when time interferes and injects more recent memories that somewhat overshadow those that were once held so significant. Your head can play powerful tricks on you, and nostalgia can be dangerous. In order to stop disappointment, it is so very important to create new memories so that you don’t live your life relying on the past to make your everyday seem special. As chances are, if you were to go back, it wouldn’t be as great as you would have imagined.

Illustrations

I have been drawing a lot recently. I think it is a great way to relax, and it is somewhat of an amazing past time, to start off with a blank piece of paper and in my case, a set of £1 paints from the local pound shop. To then manage somehow, with the flicker of your hand to end up with a finished picture is quite cool.

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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.