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Sunday, 4 December 2016

Growing up

"...Such profound observations made me forget where I was; I came to, startled to find myself in the gloom of the library, and surprised all over again to see Holly there..."
Alas! A long overdue blogpost arrives on Hollyday Golightly. Almost 3 months have whizzed past us since I delved into an al dente piatto di spaghetti in Italia... Ah, sweet memories. Now I type at a new desk, in a new city with my fifth bowl of pasta this week. Your admiration of your favourite meal is put through an enduring test as a student.

With the first term of uni nearly over, I've been reflecting on this whirlwind journey. Freshers was a combination of memorising names, learning what "simmering" means in the cookbook and having an epiphany that cheese is bloody expensive - all blurred by the trebles that you thought you could hack. 

I am now embracing Newcastle's alluring culture. That is not to say I'm succumbing to the surplus of Greggs that meet me on every street corner. (Oh no, mighty pasty, I will save you for my worst hangovers.) Apart from the heavy promotion of nightlife, Newcastle endorses a friendly atmosphere, quirky exhibitions and a healthy dose of shopping therapy. 

Of course, being a foodie myself, I've already scouted out Newcastle's hidden delights... Cocktails to cafes, it has it all! (Too easy to gain weight here!) 

Transition period over, I'm feeling settled in my second home with the aid of some absolute gems. But aside from the social aspects, it can be tricky to adjust to your course. As an English lit student, cosy reading spaces become a pertinent part of the course. 3-4pm. Amber streaks beaming through my window, snuggled under my duvet, book in hand. This has become my sanctuary for doing my work.

Uni can be an odd one... One minute you can be reading about what influenced modernist fiction and the next you will be discussing what the cheapest outfit is for halloween and which flat are holding "prinks".

The surplus of societies and events plunge you into some spontaneous bar crawls and drinking games. Pub golf and the American frat party were fun to say the least!

It can be intimidating walking into a crowd of strangers and a nightmare putting names to faces. But 9/10 times the other person is bursting to have a wee chat too, so say "Hi" first. (I remind myself of this a lot!)

Flying visits from friends has brought a little more of home to the toon and has sent them away with fond memories of this bubbly city. There have been creases of laughter and moments of reflection, and the ability to have both has been truly valued.

Without getting soppy, uni really does make you appreciate your friends, your Mother's cooking and not having to nip to the supermarket at 11 at night for some milk in your tea. You mainly just appreciate being able to walk into the kitchen barefoot at home. 

Newcastle's festivities seem to have got everyone in a good mood... From Fenwick's magical Christmas department, to the temporary continental market, I feel I'm embodying the spirit of Christmas! My flatmates and I also decorated the communal area with sparkles, lights and improvised "stockings" - making coming home after Uni a delight! 

With my birthday in just a week, I feel the countdown to Christmas is slipping us by quicker than I can munch my advent calendar. Let the festivities commence! 

Perhaps it is amongst these cafes, these adventures, this city that my best work will emerge. Perhaps it is a combination of the inspiring people I am lucky enough to have met in my life.

So this is me, Hollyday Golightly, signing off and attempting "to become the writer I [have always] wanted to be". (Paul Varjak in Breakfast at Tiffany's).

Thursday, 25 August 2016

La dolce vita!

"...the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets..."

You could mistake this place for paradise. You're surrounded by copious bowls of spaghetti, seawater and sexy Italian men. The city is slow and leisurely, beckoning its locals and visitors alike to "try the finest sprizzato in Italia, bella!" and waste away afternoons in bars overlooking the canals. But you only have a few days in this city so you shot an espresso and your heart is pounding, your head buzzing. You take one last glance at the crumpled "top tips" your friend slipped you and off you head, into the maze that is best known as Venice.

Venice is a city that requires a map. Unless, like me, you find serenity in wandering down the rustic streets boasting ancient brickwork and floral decorated balconies (beware, it is in these streets that you will find topless Italian pensioners hanging out their washing!). Our days were often spent exploring the different areas of Venice as well as touring Doge's Palace, taking boat trips and spending a day at the Lido beach. Although I must confess, a lot of time was dedicated to consuming the fresh cuisine...!

There is little better than the victorious feeling when you stumble across that authentic restaurant with the 60 year old manager who has made it his life's goal to perfect the tiramisu. On our last evening we seemed to walk aimlessly around Venice in order to find that "shabby chic" family owned restaurant - rejecting the typical "best pizza in Italy" restaurants. Eventually we chanced upon a popular courtyard off the beaten track, echoing the quick Italian dialect. When the waiter brought a table out for us and greeted us with a glass of prosecco, we knew we had chosen a good spot for the last night.

You savour every last drop of rosé, every morsel of pumpkin pasta, every spoonful of tiramisu. But still, it is not enough; Italy is addictive and leaves you wanting more. It's not just the food though. You're jealous of the olive toned women who appear unaffected by the heat; their dark ponytails sleek, co-ordinating with their sophisticated wardrobe. The gondaleer men manifest simplicity in their striped t-shirts and leather loafers, their stubble somehow sheltering their alluring demeanour.

If romance is on the cards for your Venice trip, I suggest you throw yourself head first into that fiery bowl of seafood spaghetti. Not only will it save you a lot of heartbreak from that hot Italian waiter, but it has a taste, tenderness and trust that will make you go back for seconds.
(Although I'm not saying the men don't too!)

Yet how are there no fat Italians? Do they live on caprese salads? After only a 10 day solely carb diet, it became apparent to me that the Italians must have a more varied meal plan than pizza and pasta.
Forgetting the round-bellied Italian pensioners, I don't think I came across one 'large' Italian!

After our 4 day luxurious city break, it was time to move on to south Lake Garda. People had forewarned me of its beauty, but I had not been prepared. With temperatures soaring around 34 degrees during the day, the lake couldn't help but bask in the sun too, glistening in all it's pride. Lake Garda is sheltered by mountains and picturesque towns dotted around the Lake, so it's worthwhile driving or catching a boat to the other towns to explore them for a day. We stayed in a resort called "Desenzano", a busy town with restaurants, beaches and apartments not only attracting the tourists, but the locals too.
Our time was spent sunbathing on the roof terrace (as we had not had the chance in Venice), exploring the other towns and jumping in the Lake to cool off. The extensive activities in each place makes it suitable for many ages!
Athough this was only my first trip to Italy, I know I'll be back. There's something so enchanting about Italy, knowing you can sit blissfully undisturbed in the bustling streets. You are anonymous, you are recreated, you are who you want to be. After all, behind those large dark glasses and floppy hat, who's to know you're not a local yourself?

Sunday, 29 May 2016

The end of an era?

...A beautiful day with the buoyancy of a bird. To start, we had Manhattans at Joe Bell's; and when he heard of my good luck, champagne cocktails on the house. Later, we wandered towards Fifth Avenue, where there was a parade..."

Friday marked the end of "sixth form" for many students across the UK, including myself and others studying at Ilkley Grammar School.

After 7 years at my school, it was bound to be a day filled with tears, rejoice and, frankly, lots of alcohol. Our day commenced with an emotional assembly starring our very own talented pupils, before 150 students wearing red ties and white shirts began the notorious "pub crawl". 
12 hours and several drinks later, the majority had made it from The Cow and Calf pub, via seven other local pubs, to Wetherspoons. Well done us.

There's so much talk of the future for people our age - whether it be University, gap years or apprenticeships - that sometimes it becomes difficult to appreciate the people and support surrounding us. 

Suddenly time will have flown by and you'll be worrying after just discovering your first grey hair and the deadline for your article is due tomorrow and you've yet to make the lemon drizzle cake for your sibling's birthday and to top it all off your partner is refusing to make you a bloomin cup of tea whilst he lays sprawled out on the sofa. 

But then you return home. Reunite with Mum and Dad. Inhale that familiar washing powder scent. Devour Mum's homemade lasagne.   
Suddenly, everything is different, but everything is good.

Whatever it be that you are hoping to do, I wish you all the best.
Now let us begin our biggest project yet. The future.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Breakfast at Tiffany's

"Give me an example" I said quietly. "Of something that means something. In your opinion."

There are books, plays, films that we read or watch and get to know, and then there are characters that you stumble across and already know. Some will remind us of our nemesis; some will remind us of our idols; yet some, may even remind us of ourselves.

With it's changing seasons and complex characters, Breakfast at Tiffany's is a complete winner for me. It epitomises late 1940's New York, speaks of their spontaneous lifestyles and focuses on Truman Capote's determination to get his work published (through the autobiographical narrator of Paul Varjak). This enthusiasm and desire to be a successful writer is a trait that I share, thus Capote's novel became the muse for my blog.

On Wednesday night I attended the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" play at Leeds Grand Theatre. Pixie Lott played a convincing Holly Golightly alongside a wonderful cast - one of my favourite characters being Joe Bell with his "downtown nu-yowk" accent. The interchangeable sets evoked a palpable lifestyle; relationships between the characters elevated the authenticity of the book; Paul Varjak's voice-overs embodied Truman Capote's youth.

As much as I adore the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany's film starring another of my idols, Audrey Hepburn, the film isn't so true to the book. With its classic Hollywood charm, Holly Golightly has become renowned as the founder of the elegant black evening dress and dazzling pearls; the consumer of the steaming coffee and brown paper-bag pastry; the admirer of all things "darling" about Tiffany's.
For each individual, there is a book; a quote; a series of words that will be the making of them. I urge you to set aside time - away from revision, work or daily stresses - to indulge your mind in somebody else's thoughts. 
And in the words of my hero, Paul Varjak, I dream of becoming "the writer I want to be".

Friday, 19 February 2016

A passion for...?

"...all you have to do to kiss somebody is lean across. What I like most, they're so happy to see each other, they've saved up so much to talk about, it isn't possible to be dull, they keep laughing and holding hands..."

A week of food? Pancake day. Chinese New Year. Lent. Boxes of chocolates (whether they be from your lover or from the oh-so-loving discount aisle the day succeeding Valentines Day). Last week promoted finding something easy on the eye - yet not so kind on our body mass. 
Not only was there a food hype - but there was a big phenomena surrounding Valentines Day.
Far from the ordinary, Valentine's Day a year ago was a little unusual; spent on a 10 hour flight to New York City. Spent amongst 40 other students, it was not a lonely trip. (You can read about it here.) To those who worry about travelling amongst couples on Valentine's Day - fear not, the plane staff give you a chocolate heart as compensation.
This year, stepping off the train at Leeds, an undercurrent of ardour weaved itself inbetween the hands of couples; admiration flourished out the exchanged bouquets; evocative glances meant a reunion or a departure on one of the couples behalf. It's the epitome of passion yet chemistry blended with mystery - and there's a part we all want in on. 

And to those who know me well, I could be shamed a hypocrit; I was fortunate enough to be taken out for a surprise meal by my boyfriend on Sunday. But Valentine's Day has so often become synonymous with finding a person you love - what happened to falling head-over-heels for that passion within you? 

One love that will never fail me is my passion for travel. Especially for the concrete jungle - a place where my heart resides. I guess you could say it's a long distance relationship with New York (fitting that I spent last Valentines with it?).
Others find serenity in cooking, long walks, returning home after years of being away. Everyone's love is different. People think that fulfilment is finding someone - but you can be surrounded by a whole population of people and still feel like the loneliest person in the world. So, find that thing you love and don't ever let it go.

Monday, 4 January 2016

A Holly, Jolly December

" soaked up baubles and tinsel like melting snow..." 

Wow – how can it be that another year has bypassed us with its brief encounter and a swift adios? That’s not to say that 2015 won’t be imprinted in my memory for many years to come, as it truly was a wonderful year. The year that a Princess was born, the year that Tim Peake ventured into space (go Britain!) and the year that everyone became a Belieber.

On a more personal note, I’m thankful for everything I’ve accomplished in the last year. More importantly than 2015 being filled with numerous travel experiences, passing my driving test and receiving some Uni offers (wahooo), I’ve had a right good laugh amongst some of the best people.

As November drew to a close, I gathered 7 of my friends together before a busy December and hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner. My physiotherapist, who is American, had been telling me of the wonderful thanksgiving “holiday” in the States. Confused why one would have - what I thought - was the equivalent of Christmas Day twice, she went into great depth about the sentimental meaning behind it; “Britain just doesn’t seem to get it right here, they think it’s all about turkey and pumpkin pie” (I must admit to stereotyping this), “…but it’s about watching the football with your Dad, or going on a long family walk before you gather round the table and say something that you’re grateful for that year”.

In that case, my Thanksgiving Dinner was probably somewhat of an insult to Americans, so I apologise… I think too much Gossip Girl influenced my meal, although we did say our thanks and the night was spent in good company accompanied by a tasty roast! (…And may I just say my thanks for finally being able to tuck into my Thanksgiving Dinner without the stress of turkey teeth - adios brace face in 2015!) 

It’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeaaar…

December was filled with travel, my 18th bday bash and a magical Christmas (alongside plenty of mince pies).
The first weekend of December was spent in London with my boyfriend, soaking up the festivities.Although I’d been slightly apprehensive about the thought of visiting a museum, The Natural History Museum proved to be thoroughly entertaining. (Especially human biology if you’re as immature as us.)

That evening, we had booked to go to Warner Brother Studios just on the outskirts of London… Yes – Harry Potter World! We witnessed Hogwarts in the snow as wreaths and garlands hung in the Hogwarts Great Hall; Christmas trees stood proudly in the corners; and Christmas puddings were set alight in front of us! Not to mention the blanket of fake snow on the Hogwarts Castle model! The detail was meticulous and quite simply magical! For true Potter fans like us, it’s an indulgence discovering how they filmed with different sets and learning all the secrets of Harry Potter. 

Of course, being muggles we had to get a photo with our butterbeer in Hagrids motorbike…
 You could spend hours focusing on the intricate details of the props and sets!

Kick-starting the day with a delicious breakfast opposite Liberty’s, we spent the following day shopping on Oxford Street and nearby places we stumbled upon. As it dropped darker, the city's illuminations flicked on and Christmas shoppers bustled about with their full-to-the-brim shopping bags before the shops closed.


Covent Garden was our last stop before our train home, as we browsed in the shops and savoured the cheerful atmosphere.   

The following Friday I turned 18! After a lovely day at school, spoiled by friends, we went to the Bierkeller in Leeds that evening!
There were many work parties and groups there too, embracing the Oompah bands manic singing and dancing with our steins of beers - or cocktails! 

Saturday was my friends and family "drop-in" day... With a Breakfast at Tiffany's theme! My parents had gone to so much effort with the theme and even bought me a beautiful Tiffany necklace.
Canapés and prosecco were on flow all day and friends travelled miles to join in the festivities - all of which I'm very grateful. Tiffany blue decorations were located throughout the house, along with pearls and fairy lights strung on mantelpieces.

Another huge surprise was the production of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (with Pixie Lott in!) that my mum has booked for us to go and watch at Leeds Grand Theatre in April. How fitting!  

Once my birthday celebrations were over, it was time to start prepping for Christmas!

The combination of cinnamon and pine aromas always evoke memories of Christmas and consequently spurred some baking for Christmas Day... 

The Breakfast at Tiffany's theme continued into some of my Christmas presents...
One of my favourite gifts to receive on Christmas Day is a book, so you can take yourself away from the madness of Christmas day, just for a while, and immerse in a different scenario. This year I was lucky enough to get a special edition copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's (YAAAY!).

Christmas Day has always been the same for me, but I would't change it for the world. It's full of our traditions, like going into the dining room in height order and opening presents, before my Grandparents and Uncle later arrive for Christmas Day and stay the night. Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year, it encapsulates all the festivities I love (good job I'm called Holly really!).

As for heading into the New Year and thinking about resolutions, remember to talk about what you love and keep quiet about what you don’t. Wake up on Monday with no complaints. Dress in your sassiest outfit on a day when you feel groggy as hell. Leap into action in 2016.