Saturday, 28 February 2015

Things Nina Did - A Solo Weekend Break

Antico Restaurant

I had to go to our offices in London for work and decided to make a weekend out of it. It was a bit of a spur of the moment thing but I wanted some time to myself out of Cardiff and to explore a new city. It was quite exciting knowing I had a weekend to myself to go exploring and treat myself. I booked myself into the Tower Hill Motel 1 which is a German hotel chain that I've stayed in before in Germany. It's a stones throw from Tower Bridge making it a perfect location to explore and shop.

It was so freeing to have some alone time, it felt pretty decadent having dinner by myself with only a chilled glass of white wine and book for company. It was a great way to unwind and just take a step back from everything.

On Saturday it actually turned out that an old school friend of mine was in London visiting her boyfriend so we all met up and went to see the Tudor exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (we're such geeks). I can really recommend it, there isn't an entry fee and it's fascinating to see pictures you've only ever seen in history books in real life. That morning I also caught up with another friend from school, it was so great to catch up and see what she's up to after school. 

London is pretty hectic and fast paced but it was great (and sad for my credit card) to be able to go into shops that we don't have here in Cardiff. I could have spent hours in & Others Stories, COS and the Charlotte Tilbury counter in Fenwick. I still haven't looked at my bank balance to double check the damage.

In the evening I treated myself to some German food at Fisher's, I wanted to go here ever since I read Gourmet Gorro's review of the place. The dining room alone is a thing of beauty and you feel like you're in a Wes Anderson movie. I haven't been to Germany for over a year now so it was literally a taste of home.

Sunday was a little less manic, I explored Brick Lane which was just a ten minute walk from my hotel. It's certainly an interesting area with some vintage gems to be found although I generally found that the 'vintage' prices were quite steep. Also there's certainly a 'Brick Lane look' which I don't fulfil but that's fine. Kensington on the other hand is more my neck of the woods. I went here with the specific purpose of picking up some Russell and Bromley loafers in the children's size (saving myself over £100 so can't complain). Kensington Gardens were stunning and a lovely place to get away from the masses. I of course also popped into Harrods but that was beyond overwhelming, there's something insane about seeing bags that cost more than your rent.

All in all it was a great weekend. I've had to be pretty independent from the age of 14. I've lived by myself and had to travel by myself for almost 10 years now but that doesn't mean I've always felt good in my own skin or enjoyed my own company. My weekend break by myself pushed me a little outside of my comfort zone and showed me that it's okay to spend time by yourself. I'm learning to feel comfortable in my own skin, it can be hard and scary sometimes but everyone should travel by themselves at least once in their life. It's very freeing and satisfying setting off by yourself.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Romance & Love For Beginners: The Tinder Date

As you know, I have been flirting with Tinder for a while now. It's had it's ups and downs, I've deleted the app a few times but have always gone back to it during the advert breaks on Take Me out on Saturday nights. I had combed thoroughly through my age range (23-27) and came up empty. So I decided to go bold and include the gentlemen above 30 as well.

Maybe I'm naive but I was hoping that being over 30 meant that the man in question would have some sort of stable living situation, a good job and some kind of direction. I mean I'm 23 years old and all of those things apply to me. How hard can it really be?

As it turns out: very. Enter Tinder Thomas.

Tinder Thomas had a funny profile without being cheesy, nice pictures and was 33 years old. So far so good. We talked back and forth for a bit and in the end moved the conversation to WhatsApp. We had funny chats, he obviously had a similar sense of humour to me. Suspiciously however, he never mentioned work or what he was doing during the day. Red flag. In the end he asked me if I fancied going out for drinks. I said yes, already mentally planning a whole outfit around my BooHoo shoes naturally. And as per the usual Nina way I was getting far too ahead of myself and wondering how on earth I was going to explain to my mother that I found my boyfriend on an app where you swipe right if you like someone. As Jane Austen says: "A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment."

We agreed to meet in a new bar near my house. A tactical move on my part so I wouldn't have to share an awkward taxi with him. As it turns out the bar was horrendous. When I asked the waitress for a Hendricks and soda water with cucumber she looked at me like I was insane. That set the tone for the whole night.

Some succinct highlights of the evening:

Tinder Thomas: "So if your parents are Germans living in Brazil, does that make them Nazis in hiding?"

Tinder Thomas: "I've had to dress for 2 occasions tonight, I may be going out with some friends later." takes off reasonably nice brown roll neck jumper to reveal a Jurassic Park T Rex t-shirt.

Me: "So what do you do?"
Tinder Thomas: "Technically nothing, I took voluntary redundancy."
Me: "Oh I see, so do you live alone?" (me thinking "Please god say yes")
Tinder Thomas: "No I live with my parents, I spend quite a lot of my time in my room." 

Me: Speaking about S Club 7 (this was two gins and two glasses of wine into the evening, don't ask). I used to love S Club 7!
Tinder Thomas: "Oh yeah they were really big when I was in university."
Me: "I was about 10 then... "

The crowning jewel of the whole evening was when we were saying goodbye. We hugged it out but as we were breaking apart from the hug he rested his hands on my hips and looked at my face very intently. He was going in for the kill. I jumped back and waved him away from a safe distance shouting "I'll see you again soon" as I power walked away. We haven't spoken since.

Following on from this incident my male college has given me some very useful advice when it comes to not wanting to kiss men: "If a guy looks at you like he's going to kiss you and you don't want to, just cough in his face." I wish I'd known that then.

So Tinder and I have ended our affair. It's been deleted and I think that's how it will stay. The stable fantastic man who doesn't live with his parents and has a good job is not going to be trawling through Tinder. Or maybe he is and I'm missing out on him.

Thank you Tinder, it's been enlightening.

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Monday, 16 February 2015

Galentine's Weekend

Valentine's Day can be a bit rough if you're like me and still licking old relationship wounds that haven't quite healed just yet. I know that Valentine's Day is just some commercial shtick designed to line the pockets of florists and be an excuse for Pandora to put their prices up. In the past when I've had a SO (significant other) to share V Day with, we've always kept it low-key with dinners in and more thoughtful gifts and I put an embargo on red roses. However, even if you're fairly level-headed and not at all into Valentine's Day the hysteria from everyone else around you can make you feel quite lonely. From the #blessed underneath an Instragram picture of a rose gold Michael Kors watch to Pandora rings and #boydidgood it seems like everyone has someone, and when you're single and still slightly broken hearted it's the worst.

I may not have a boyfriend, but I have something even better: fabulous friends. So in true ovaries before brovaries fashion, I spent a great Galentine's Weekend with my two great loves: food and my best friends.

In relationships I have previously been so head over heels for someone that I wanted to spend every second with that person. My weekends were reserved for my boyfriend and if we didn't spend it together I felt like I was cheated out of time with him. In hindsight this probably wasn't great for either of us. He could have used more space and I could have used a little more confidence to do my own thing and spend time with women who encourage me and are always ready to fight my corner.

I am a girls girl, maybe it's because I went to an all girls school but I'm a firm believer in female friendships. I gain so much strength from hanging around strong independent females who aren't afraid to do things there way and say no to following the crowd of 'cool' people. I always have a sore stomach from laughing after I've spent time with them, and always have a smile on my face.

Boys come and go, sometimes when they leave you they also leave behind a big mess - for me it's normally in the form of my shattered self esteem and self doubt. But the people who are there to pick you up and support you are worth more than any SO as far as I'm concerned. Nurture your friendships and use Valentine's Day and every opportunity you get to say thank you and show your love for the unsung heroes: your friends, who even if you drive them mad will still love you and will always tell you when you're being a little unreasonable and will always be honest with you.

Thank you for Galentine's Weekend girls, it's been more special than any Valentine's Day I've had.

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