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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A week of mourning

"...the last days, blow about in memory, hazy, autumnal, as alike as leaves: until a day unlike any other I've ever lived..." 

As I approach a year since starting my blog, I would like to dedicate this post to those that have faced suffering. This week has been one of mourning across the world; as we remembered those who have fought for our country on the 11th, and of course, of the victims of the Paris attacks. 

Pray for Paris
Although devastation has swept across Europe during the shocking attacks made on Paris, French President Francois Hollande declared, France will remain "determined, unified and pulled together". 
We have seen patriotism in crowds during moments of silence; resilience when buildings were illuminated in the nation's colours; and compassion when allies of France have pledged to help.
The Paris attacks have certainly changed our outlook.
Why do we care so deeply?
Terrorists may have taken away loved ones, but they cannot diminish the love for this city. Paris should not be defined by these attacks, but instead by it's utterly enchanting ambience. 

Paris is unique. The city does not follow trends, yet sets them. As the rest of the world waved au revoir to "les cigarettes, l'alcool et la couture cher" they "threw open the windows and let in la vie en rose".  

Endless cobbled streets, endless historic monuments and endless artists to paint it all... It's a city distinguishable from the rest and one can't help but stereotype some iconic elements with Paris; whether it be the Eiffle Tower, the edible snails or the garlic garlands strung around their necks!  

I think of Paris and I cant help associate Audrey Hepburn with it. Perhaps it's because her Parisian demeanour landed her role as Gigi, or perhaps it's due to her part in Funny Face filmed in Paris, or possibly even her relationship with French designer Givenchy.  

J'adore the Parisian cuisine... Perhaps not the snails, but the simplicity of a hunk of warm baguette accompanied by cheese and wine est parfait! Or a café au lait et un croissant at a table dans le rue.

Ahh, but the language... The intensity combined with the passion yet also the seductiveness of their dialect...
No wonder so many women are allured by romantic whisperings across the table in French themed films! 

The city of love has truly lived up to that reputation in the past few days.
Frankly, Paris est Paris. It's the heart of France. It's irreplaceable.

"When the power of love is greater than the love for power, the world will know peace"

Sunday, 11 October 2015


" evening with the first ripple-chills of autumn running through it..."

Autumn: a season of descending - into the darker months, of the leaves falling down and slipping down the colour chart into our achromatic clothing. It's many people's favourite season - but what is it that makes it so appealing?

Could it be the enticement of pumpkin-spiced lattes with whipped cream smothered on top? (#1 reason for me...

Or the satisfaction of crunchy leaves underfoot and collecting the shiniest conkers?

Let us not forget the excuse autumn presents us with; to cover our less flattering places with chunky knits and scarves! (That means more pumpkin lattes for me...)

...or is it simply because autumn kickstarts a festive few months? With Halloween, Bonfire Night and Thanksgiving approaching, it's difficult not to get wrapped up in the convivial spirit.   

Last Sunday, autumn's crisp yet sunny weather induced a trip to Lotherton Hall's "Age of Glamour" exhibition with my Mum. 

The display captured the emergence of post-war glamour and Parisian couture, to mass produced clothing in London (and indeed Leeds!) throughout the 50's.     

Pieces from Christian Dior's couture were visible amongst other designers, as Dior launched the 'New Look' in 1947.
He focused on the fit and femininity of clothing (thank him for dresses with nipped-in waists), and although Dior's designs and pieces are renowned for being expensive, he once explained; 
"Simplicity, good taste and grooming are the three fundamentals of good dressing and these do not cost money."   

Perhaps we all have something to learn from Dior, one of the most successful designers in the world and I shall be following his words of wisdom when indulging in Autumn/Winter clothing.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Mallorca, I miss you (and Summer)

" Those final weeks, spanning end of Summer and the beginning of another autumn, are blurred in memory..."

Another season has dawned upon us, serving us as a reminder that those luxurious summer evenings of Pimms and a fresh insalata caprese are long gone, replaced by the comforts of spiced lattes and radiant fires on darker nights.

So to the savvy observer, who might wonder why I dedicate this blog post to a summer holiday in Mallorca; I am doing so in an attempt to transport me back to le soleil et les bons moments!  

Whatever your reason for taking a break - whether it be to unwind and spend time with family & friends, immerse into the culture or just to get wildly drunk - it can be agreed that everyone has a guilty pleasure.
Mine? Other than jealously eyeing the rather dark (handsome) locals, I adore listening into the tête-à-tête of the tourists and natives. The combination of the rapid dialogues with the subdue 's' sound evokes mystery, alongside passion and chemistry and we all want in on it!
Of course, interacting with the inhabitants is ever more exciting and the reward of speaking it when one finds the confidence is thrilling!

During the summer, we spent our first few days of our holiday in Palma...
Apartment no. 19 was found tucked away into the maze of similar looking, beige bricked streets in Palma, Mallorca. One could be awoken by the sound of horse and carriage bells rattling down the narrow roads and the waft of coffee from the cafes (located on every corner). 
Work women appeared unaffected by the heat, up early sipping their morning espresso's - long, brown hair slicked back into neat ponytails and eyes shielded by dark sunglasses whilst they spoke down their phones and scribbled away in their notepads. 

A city with endless options - bike rentals to see the sites, a beach to bathe on and hidden gems tucked away in the lanes - none of which will leave you disappointed.

After a few glorious days of city life (and a lot of shopping...), we drove about an hour away to Puerto de Pollença for our next half of the holiday...

An apartment with a view - every morning could be spent watching the beach gradually grow with visitors and the tide drawing in over the course of the day. The evenings would cast a pink glow over the hazy grey mountains until it turned dark.

Again, this destination has no shortage of things to do. Water sports, boat trips and markets are available during the day and nights can be spent right along the seafront sipping cocktails and indulging in paëlla dishes.

Writing this blogpost has not only transported me back, but has increased my craving to go traveling in a gap year. (Time I started planning!)

Summer, I will miss you and the bronzed tans you bless us with. However, that's not to say I don't welcome Autumn with open arms and a cuppa Hot Choc. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Melting in Malta

" She was brown as iodine, her hair was sun-bleached to a ghost-colour, she'd had a wonderful time... "

Bonswa (good evening in Maltese)!

Just over a week ago, the humid air of Malta consumed every inch of my body from tête to toe. On only a small island, Malta crams in various cultures within its boundaries; making recognisable to the traveller snippets of Sicily, Morocco and British civilisations. 

However, as a renowned religious country, Malta boasts its own traditions too! Evenings are often filled with the constant sound of  fireworks exploding in the sky, as each town competes with one another to present the best display. Churches and shrines can be discovered on every corner so it seems, and our day visit to the oldest city in Europe, Mdina, offered a historical insight into the constant invasions the island had taken. 

Travel: via boat
A short 10 minute taxi-boat transported us to the capital city, Valletta, whereby a stunning old town awaited us. Narrow streets of beige, brick walls lead oneself into the city squares, rammed with restaurants galore. A short walk to a lookout point at the top of Valletta revealed a panoramic view of the cannons (that are fired at midday) over the harbour.
For beach and boat lovers, the best way to see the island is via speedboat. We hired one with a skipper - a local whom knew the ins and outs of the coastline - and we were fast away on a 4 hour boat trip.
As someone who is slightly apprehensive about swimming in the sea since a bad jellyfish sting, the turquoise transparency of the sea washed away any fears I had! Our boat tucked in and out of coves before anchoring at different bays and lagoons, where the skipper would throw snorkelling equipment out to us in the water. Rather refreshing after being exposed in the sun on the boat!  

Our 7 days...

With temperatures soaring around 38 degrees and 90% humidity, the majority of our days were spent sunbathing and relaxing, before we headed into town (or one nearby) for tea.

The holiday was a pleasant wind-down into the Summer holidays and was filled with many delicious meals, drinks and giggles with my friend Annie and her family.    

Grazzi hafna (many thanks in Maltese) for reading!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Célébrations , Champagne et Bonne Chance!

' "We'll make a pot of coffee and celebrate. No. I'll get dressed and take you to lunch." '

The past week has been undoubtedly one of the best of my life. I've been in suspense, before living a surreal few days and now I'm ready to kickstart the Summer hols.
"Life is made of small moments like this"
Last weekend I attended Beat-Herder Festival alongside friends (and around half of my year group/town!!). The stress of carrying our tent and pitching it was soon forgotten about as the tinnies were cracked open and chairs were positioned into a circle under our gazebo (which blew down within about an hour).  

(^ Sharing shots, throwing some shapes on shoulders, with smiles all round. )
Throughout the day it was a case of chilling and amusing ourselves, resorting to henna patterns being drawn on our bodies and glitter spread across our faces. The selection of food vans was enough to burn a hole in your pocket, as just about every type was available - just as good sober as when drunk!

From around 4 o'clock, the music became audible from the arena and flocks of people herded down to the stages. When the sun dropped, the festival did not, however, become dark. Instead the fairy lights draped on the branches way up high encouraged an enchanting vibe that lead one through the forest to the stages.

Everything was brought alive at night... late night conversations, late night snacks and late night walks back to your tent. What could be better? 

Friends egging on friends to drink concoctions, getting them drunk and then having to look after them as a result.
But no-one seemed to care, after all - "A good friend gets you drunk then walks ya home afterwards." 
All-in-all, the festival was a fabulous celebration towards the end of our school year, which would be over in just 3 days.

I was not, however, in the most excitable mood as other were when the last bell went in school. Instead, I was rather nervous for my Driving Test that was the following day. 

Just 24 hours on though... I was clinking glasses with my Mum to my first time pass!

I am extremely grateful to my parents who were patient with me as I learnt to drive and also to my instructor.

We celebrated on Thursday with a mouthwatering Mexican and cocktails in Leeds and a spot of shopping. The evening continued with a celebratory meal with friends and these celebrations continued over the next few days.

(^ Present from my best friend for passing.)
I honestly couldn't have asked for a better start to the Summer Holidays and I'm so thankful.

I wish anyone else taking their test the very best of luck, stay calm & cruise those 
Happy Summer everyone xo

Monday, 29 June 2015

Heart-warming Wedding

' "...Course we'll be married. I've never been married before." Well, I had to laugh, hug and squeeze her: never been married before! '

The chiming of church bells and metal spoons tapping glasses echoes through my mind as I recall the spirited celebration, mirroring the rumble of laughter present on the day. Not only did the event bring out the inner romantic within us all, but the sun was brought out by best wishes for the couple to have the perfect day.
A tranquil ambience rang through the church, as the organ guided the incandescent bride and father arm-in-arm down the aisle, accompanied by two bridesmaids - whom clearly had her back, best interests and trailing veil. Without an ounce of negativity or doubt, the ceremony proceeded with uplifting hymns and the three letters that bound the couple together lifelong. 

Acting as a palimpsest of past events - be it weddings, dinners or anniversaries - the bridge to the hotel lead us into the wondrous afternoon and evening. Greeted by champagne and the recently married couple, congratulations were in order alongside photographs and mingling with the other guests.

The ascend into the dining area began and as we retreated to our name places, introductions were made between guests. Streaks of purple ran a theme throughout the room, with organza runners brightening the pristine white tablecloths and various glasses accumulating light rays and swirling them into patterns on the ceiling.

Four appetising courses later, when our stomachs began bulging and when restrained to our seats, the speeches were in order. The Father of the Bride, Groom, Best-man and Ushers maintained the humorous and emotional ambience fitting to the event.  

As the tangerine glow gradually descended to conceal its warmth in the trees surrounding the venue, other visitors (including my boyfriend and my brothers girlfriend) arrived for the evening party held in the basement of the hotel. Out onto the balcony, the chatter carried along the waves of the lake and entwined with the steady beats of the first dance; and the other songs unfurling into the night.

As I blog this post, I not only extend my huge congratulations to the newly wed couple, but I also raise a glass to the many that have learnt to love one another in the moments that aren't as easy. 
To my parents, whom have been lovingly married for 32 years, I raise a toast to you. 
To the millions of couples that never let the honeymoon phase end.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Brighton Rock(s)

"...out on the coast, there was a time it could've been different..."

"I can see the sea!!"
 A Mother-Daughter trip away for a couple of nights had been arranged and was thus the motivation for my exam revision... 

Leeds -> London -> Brighton...
Gone were the endless fields of buttercups out the train window and instead we were greeted by the city with a coast not yet visible. Peculiar though it may seem, within just under an hour train journey from London one can escape the bustling city in exchange for a peaceful stroll along Brighton Pier, ice-cream in hand.

Upon our arrival into this diverse city, it felt as though Summer had declared it's presence also, as the sun shone through streets to reveal the sea shore.

The Flour Pot served a fab iced frap...
Inside - the cafe had a great vibe
Bacon Sarnie to kickstart the day...
Not quite the Breakfast at Tiffany's
Holly Golightly would have had in
 More than anything, our few days away were a food fest. The extensive array of cafes and restaurants were suitable for anyone (it's a vegans and veggies' paradise!). 
Smoothies, Frappe's, and cakes galore during the day before our two nights of fine dining in the evening were the perfect combo.

Our first evening was spent in Côte, a French Brasserie where I indulged in a typically French "Steak et Frites" (accompanied by a glass of rosé). Sited in the old music library, the gentle murmur of voices combined harmoniously well with the darkly candlelit room.
As my Mum is a vegetarian (and owner of a veggie blog), we booked a table at Terre à Terre for our last night - a Michelin-star veggie restaurant which will transform anyones opinion about Vegetarian food being boring... Not only was the Churrosimo a divine pudding, but the clever take on fish and chips with battered halloumi instead was mouth watering!

In-between our mouthfuls of food, we managed to squeeze in a few cultural experiences. The impressive Royal Pavilion, King George IV's fantasy palace with Indian and Chinese elements merged, was breath taking and the audio tour allowed an insight into the many mistresses he bedded and the grand banquets he held in the decadent hall.
Having a couple of hours to kill on the Friday before our train, a quick stop was also made at the Brighton Museum/Art Gallery.             The paintings reflected the changing conditions for women over time and "encouraged the viewer to question whether gender matters when interpreting art".

Whilst shopping, a man approached us and asked if he could draw me. Hesitant yet intrigued, I was persuaded when he claimed he could do it within 100 seconds (as he drew catwalk models on runways and therefore had to be quick). 

As the charcoal hit the paper on the clipboard I was holding, I was amazed at how talented he was at 'capturing the moment'. Once done, I handed over a small donation in exchange for the drawing, which shall be framed in my room.

Our trip also involved a stroll along the pier, pit-stopping halfway in some of the deck chairs looking out onto the beach, before catching some rays on the beach for half an hour (yes, it was actually hot enough to in England!).

The City with a Sea; it's ideal just for a "Daycation" from London. Brighton, you served us well with a relaxing few days after a stressful few months and I shall be leaving here with fond memories (and a pocketful of pebbles).