New Beginnings

Next month I start my 3 year journalism course at university. My life is going to drastically change; I’m going to be away from the city and family I’ve been with my whole life, away from current friends and familiar situations. No doubt it will be overwhelming, but that hasn’t crossed my mind for one second because I am so full of excitement and curiosity.

Maybe I’m being too optimistic? (No such thing!) But I feel my current hometown has nothing but bad memories. I am stuck in a town full of acquaintances, never really finding my place with anything or anyone. I find myself almost trapped in a household where I feel like an outcast; unwanted. This life is too mediocre and I am outgrowing it quickly.

This new beginning only opens up new opportunities for me. I can finally get a chance to be who I feel I really am, because I can’t do that here. I hope to make new friends, real friends who are equally as loyal to me as I am to them. I look forward to stepping on the small , yet significant steps to my career in a profession I am passionate about.

New beginnings are new horizons; they are where the light lies.

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A day out in London

As of the past year I have dreamt about living in London. There’s just something about London that draws me to it; the city feels so full of possibility. Having gone to London earlier this week for a day has made me even more in love with it!

First of all I went to Bauer Media as I was participating in a speed networking day with Heat magazine – my main motive for going to London in the first place.

That was a fun, interesting and a different experience. As I originally arrived to the event early I looked around Shaftesbury Avenue. It’s near Covent Garden and is filled with cafes, vintage shops and a nice little hideaway called Neal’s Yard, which includes multiple organic cafes, a unique hair dressers and restaurants for lovers of other types of food.


 Once I had done speed networking with Heat, I met a friend and we went to the Londond aquarium. It was definitely the biggest aquarium I’ve been to yet. and from penguins to alligators, there was a vast variety of sea life creatures.

After a stop at The Five Guys, we headed to Covent Garden (I had always wanted to go here so it was even more exciting). If you’ve never been to Covent Garden let me tell you that the atmosphere is incredible, as it is with most of London. It’s very vibrant and buzzing, with buskers that were practically professionals, fine dining, unique shops all through the arcade and the transport museum, there is a lot to do in a relatively small area.

After watching a performance of a man eating a balloon (a normal day in Covent Garden?) we headed to Leicester Square which was in close walking distance. When we got there, there was only a red carpet event for the new film Ant Man taking place! Obviously not from London, this was so new and exciting, was this just the norm for a Londoner? Leicester Square was beautiful from what I could see behind the red carpet event; with water features and grass in the middle it was tranquil despite all the madness.

We walked through China Town – filled with delicious smells, oriental supermarkets and buffets – we headed to Trafalgar Square and sat below Nelsons Column, on-looking Londoners and tourists. With a 50 meter statue, large marble lions, two massive fountains and the luxurious museums surrounding, it was a nice aesthetic to end my busy day with.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

The great thing about this day was, even though a lot of it was just walking through areas of London, the fantastic thing about it – and about London – is that was enough for me and maybe any other tourist. In all the places I went to, there was so much more to do than what I did if I had had the time, energy and money. However, my point is that even without these, I still had a fantastic time. London is the capital city of England, and I can definitely see why it deserves that title.

A little slice of Lisbon

I would say 7 days in Lisbon as a young adult with a limited amount of money is not enough to see all of Lisbon, but it is more than enough to have seven days of adventure, fun and beautiful sights.

If you’re going to Lisbon the first place I would recommend you go to is Belem. Wherever you are staying in Lisbon, Belem will be an easy tram/bus/train journey away (you must get the train at least once; cheap fairs and a scenic route along the coast is not to miss!).

In Belem, firstly, is the monastery Jeronimos Monastery. I can’t say we went inside, but the outside was more than enough for us and many other tourists. The beautiful carved stone work was like nothing I had ever seen before and was a breathtaking sight.

Monastery in Belem

Monastery in Belem

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Monastery in Belem

Also in Belem, a two minute walk from the monastery is the botanical gardens Jardim Botanico Tropical. This is a decent sized botanical gardens with small bridges across water, bamboo trees, beautiful mosaic benches and wall art, peacocks roaming free and other aesthetic garden features. Seeing a mother duck with about 10 baby ducklings sitting in the grass was definitely one of my favorite bits (maybe that’s just because I’m a sucker for all things cute!).

Botanical gardens

Botanical gardens

Botanical gardens

Botanical gardens

With plenty of fine restaurants, a courtyard with a fountain, a beautiful view of the sea and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (see photos below), Belem is definitely a must whilst in Lisbon

Padrão dos Descobrimentos – a statue marking 500 years since Henry the Navigators death

Row of restaurants and fine dining in Belem.

Row of restaurants and fine dining in Belem.

Moving on from Belem to Barrio Alto and Cais de Sodre.

Not only are the cobbled streets, vintage looking trams and churros vans something that makes these two districts unique, but Barrio Alto especially is known for it’s roaring nightlife. Where our apartment was, there were small bars everywhere, including one either side of us! Which is great for two 19 year olds…not so much if you want  decent nights sleep… Every night expect Sundays and not so much Mondays, the clubs are vibrant and atmospheric, meaning you’ll never be lost on plans for a night out. All bars serve a vast range of drinks including fruity cocktails and Portugal’s specialty: Sangria.

One place in Barrio Alto you must go is the secret hideout that is Park. Hidden at the top of a six story car park, Park is a hidden gem, with one of the most beautiful views I believe any bar has given me.

View from Park bar at night time

View from Park bar at night time

Decorated with wicker furniture and palm tree like greenery, Park not only has a tranquil yet lively vibe, but serves delicious and nicely sized cocktails!

Onto Cais do Sodre. This is down the road from Barrio Alto and too has some brilliant restaurants and cafes including Po Po Lo – which serves some of the best pizza we have ever tasted- and Jeronymo Coffee Shop. The coffee shop has a variety of breakfast items and 5 star coffee (rated by myself).

Damn, these waffles were good

Damn, these waffles were good

Cais do Sodre is not only located near the train station, but, on the vague topic of nightlife, has a fantastic beach club called Urban Beach. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went for the first time; it was like something off 90210 in California, with a huge swimming pool round the back – do not swim in or you will get take out by security we learned – and a lovely lounging area outside and inside it was a night to remember. Not only because the setting, but because with face paint, great music and a healthy amount of people, the night was exciting.

Urban Beach view

Urban Beach view

If you enjoy the night life and music like us, you’ll also be pleased to know there are also organised bar crawls around Barrio Alto and music festivals on all the time! Including a street festival we went to: small stages scattered around the town outside, with drinks and food stalls. Which may be more up your street if your partying days are over!

You must also go on the train that takes you along the coast, especially if you want a beach day. There are luxurious beaches at every stop, so jump off wherever you fancy.

With little novelties on every corner; a small bakery with Nutella doughnuts, a New York Slice style pizza place, sushi restaurants and even a shopping mall with six floors, Lisbon is a place I think absolutely everyone with all different preferences would enjoy.

So I’m not telling you to go, but at least, have a look online – see for yourself. Otherwise, you’re missing out!

I’ll give you the sun

Finishing the New York Times bestseller by Jandy Nelson with goosebumps on my legs I decided I must share what I have experienced with this book.

When I started the book, I won’t lie, I was not incredibly into it. It wasn’t a chore to read in the slightest, but I suppose it was just different to books I’ve read before. Having a running theme of ghosts to start with may have made me apprehensive, because if you’re like me, you’ll think ghosts are all doo la li! Any how I carried on reading. What originally drew me to the book was the title and the fact it was based on a pair of twins (I myself am I twin and enjoy reading stories about twins too) there are occasional pages with bold quotes too and I liked them.  

 

I won’t give too much away but the book is so beautifully written; with chapters  skipping between two periods of time in the twins’ life, each chapter pieces together little bits of the story and pieces begin to fit together. 

‘Love is only half the story’ is also written on the cover. I feel as though love is more than half of the story because it is about love in so many shapes and forms. It’s about love for family, romance and love for yourself- who you really are. 

You may ask what is the other half of the story then? I don’t think I could completely answer that, it is too complex! But I will try and say it’s about change, cycles of life, destiny and …mystery? Being at the right place at the right time. Maybe you think that kind of stuff, too, is ‘doo la li’ however the story reels you so much in and opens your mind to all of this because surely we have all had those it-was-the-right-place-right-time moments.

The book brought tears to my eyes at parts. I feel like this novel brings so much emotion and it was almost like a TV show; I just want to shout at the characters to tell them what I know and what they do not!

All in all I would definitely recommend this read especially if authors like John Green appeal to you. For an elegant story about relationships, love and loss, art and passion, this book is one to read. 

A breakfast out in Birmingham

If you’re taking a trip to Birmingham, you may have been told to look at the Bullring shopping center, or the towns most liveliest night time location: Broad Street. Maybe you fancied venturing to the canal side in Brindley place to have a glass of wine as the narrow boats go by. However, one thing that may not have been on top of your agenda would be to take a visit to the little slice of paradise Bournville (I would suggest seeing Bournville if you have more than a day in Birmingham though).

Bournville: the home of the quaker George Cadbury and his chocolate factory – Cadbury’s! Where Bournville School children can smell the chocolate from the playground. If you are a fan of beauty and picturesque places, then Bournville needs to be on your bucket list. If there is a more beautiful place in Birmingham, let me know!

Leverton & Halls is a twee little cafe not far from the centre of Bournville; with a beautiful garden out back to sit in to selling their own, fresh produce; Leverton & Halls is a must for some food out. Their breakfast menu – served all day hurrah!- ranges from thick and sweet pancakes to creamy camebert on toast and their home cooked late afternoon menu is to not go a miss.

My mother and I sat in the garden eating our breakfast and we felt secluded from the world, we were not in Birmingham, we were in Narnia. Sipping cappuccinos and sitting in the sun we felt like life was good.

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After our satisfying breakfast, we past the grand houses of Bournville, to the canal home.

If this sounds like the kind of ‘city’ break you’re after then Bournville is the place for you. And don’t forget to stop off for breakfast, after all, an all day breakfast means you can still get a lie in!

Your Body is a Temple

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying ‘you’re body is a temple’ in some kind of context, implying that this is how we must treat it. I am not sure that this mantra is so closely followed in the UK i.e. the nation of binge drinking and treating your body like a temple is definitely not followed by everyone, British or not.

But, why? Surely this saying is rather factual (not literally as I do not think I’ve met a human who is a 20 foot tall building, but you understand what I mean). This is our body and it carries out more tasks in one second than you can probably fathom. Our bodies are the vessels in which we live in, without a correctly functioning one, a broken one or a damaged one, our lives can be hugely effected.

Obviously, we take our bodies for granted *insert popular t.v. program/movie line: “what this old thing?”*. On a serious level though, I think it is hardest for the self destructive type of person more than any to treat their body like a temple.

Someone with this personality type gets some sort of enjoyment or comfort from destroying themselves, maybe self destruction is even a coping mechanism. From experience, I believe these people have low self esteem; they believe they are not worthy of being treated right so do not care if twenty cigarettes or a few drinks a day may damage their health.

It’s sad when a human being may have lost respect for their own self, body or even life in general, so much so, they could not care if they were slowly bulldozing their ‘temple’ down, every single day.

Stopping unhealthy and self destructive habits is definitely hard, however once we can accept that we are worth a bit (or a lot) of TLC, we can start to realize that treating our body as though it is sacred is important, for how we feel inside, in our bodies and minds.

Pessimism

Yesterday I was walking to the bus stop on my way to work and on my way down the road I was telling myself to hurry up, because I ‘just had this feeling’ I was going to miss the bus. I kept thinking I could hear it coming as I edged closer to the bus stop, however, I got to the bus stop and I had not missed the bus.

The bus was at the top of the road – two stops away – when I got to the bus stop.

I don’t know why, but this small, but significant (in my eyes) situation really made me think. I get so worked up about things, thinking I ‘know’ what’s going to happen, thinking I know the answers and how things are going to turn out – which is usually negatively for me – and I keep trying to figure things out or control how things are going to be with my pessimistic mind set.

Just the fact that I didn’t miss this bus made me think; maybe I’m wrong about all the bad things I think I know are going to happen? Maybe things do and will work out, it’s just my mind set that tells me other wise. I am so fixed on thinking I have a gut feeling for things when really, it is like some dark voice inside me that wants me to believe that this gut feeling is real when sometimes, possibly even most times, it is not a gut feeling at all…just this thing deep inside me that I have which makes me think things are never going to work out.

I am not sure if any of that makes much sense, but I hope it will if you feel you can relate. Next time I hope that when an intense negative thought enters my head or yours, we can try and understand that it is only a thought… it is not necessarily reality.