Saturday, 30 April 2016

Lemonade 🍋

Once upon a time I met a boy in University.  

It was a fleeting moment and I'd forgotten all about him until I bumped into him a few months later whilst I was doing an early morning hungover Tesco shop in my pyjamas. That chance encounter turned into a three and a half year long relationship. It was a mixture of long distance and living in each other's pockets constantly when we were both in the same country. The relationship survived a year long stint in France, my personal demons and his own struggles. It was hard work at times. But it also was good. Comforting.

But what was also hard work was moving in together, and then a few short months later finding out that he'd been cheating on me for six months in the most abysmal fashion.

I didn't take it well. Understandably. He was barred from the flat we'd only moved into two months prior, and from my life. We met up only twice after I found out. The first time I laid into him with all the venom I had in me. I was mean. I was angry and not very gracious about it all. The second time, was a few weeks later once he realised I wasn't changing my mind about taking him back. He put in a late attempt on his end to mend the bridge that had long been burned down. He'd been dragging his heels about getting his things out of the flat. He still didn't think I'd see it through.

After what felt like an eternity he agreed to pick his things up from the flat. I can still see the moment in my head as if I'm replaying a film. 

It's late in the evening. I'm in what was our bedroom but is now my bedroom. My phone is in my hand as his text flashes up saying him and his dad will come with a van whilst I'm at uni so that I don't have to see him. I'm crying with happiness and go to plug my phone into the speakers. Scrolling through my Spotify I find the perfect song for this moment. My finger lands on the song I was looking for. The volume gets turned up to full, despite the downstairs neighbour most likely turning in for the night. BeyoncĂ© blasts out "to the left to the left" and like a women possessed I tear through the flat throwing his belongings across the room into the left corner of the living room with all the anger I have in my 4ft11 body. 

The next day everything is gone and it's like he was never there in the first place. I managed to hide his GHDs and he continued to pay for the full XXL Virgin Media internet and TV package for the rest of the tenancy. And that was that.

For about the next three months I lived off a mixture of anger and BeyoncĂ©. I lost almost two dress sizes. I was insanely productive and powered through the first half of of my Masters autumn term with full steam.

In the end I licked my wounds and quite frankly just got on with my life. I got stuck in with a new relationship which also ended in heartbreak but of a different kind. A story for another day.

BeyoncĂ©'s Lemonade came out a few days ago. It was an album I needed to hear three years ago. But somehow hearing it now, three years after being cheated on made it so much more poignant. I'm a grown woman now. I've learnt my lessons and lead my own life, making my own choices. It's been so long since the day I threw his clothes across the room, that the hurt has gone but the memory of the feelings remains.

Whilst there's some speculation about Becky and whether this is basically one big publicity from Bey and Jay, that doesn't really matter to me. 

What matters to me is that this album covers a woman's journey of self-knowledge and healing. It's what I've spent the last two years of my life working incredibly hard at. Being hurt is horrible and bouncing back from it is just as hard. 

So thank you BeyoncĂ© for reminding me that it isn't going to be easy, but that it will be worth it. A winner doesn't quit on themselves and from now on I'm only betting on me. Because I am strong and I've been through worse.

"I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to cool myself off. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade."

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

The End of April

London Retro in Bromley* | Scarlett of Soho in Churchill* both C/O Glasses Direct

Time seems to be flying and before we know it April will lead into May and then we're in the throes of summer.

Spring normally fills me with dread. Spring means that summer is close by. Summer means warmer weather and having to dig out the summer clothes. The looming summer used to make me nervous because I was so scared of having to wear summer clothes. I've always been dreadfully self conscious. If I could get away with wearing jeans and not baring my arms then I'd be a happy bunny.

However, this time I want things to be different.

I've never been one for experimenting massively with my look, I've never been particularly adventurous with my hair for example but one thing I love to change up are my glasses.

I've had to wear glasses pretty much ever since I was 11 years old. Without them I can't see a thing. Getting a new pair was always one of the highlights of the summer once the obligatory 2 year eye test came around.

The great thing about a new pair of glasses is that they each give you a completely different look. I like to have a couple of style of glasses in rotation, it's pretty much like playing dress up and getting into character. The London Retro Bromley glasses are a little retro and go with everything I own, while the grey Churchill glasses are great for work as they are both understated and yet very different to any other glasses I own.

So what do new glasses have to do with my dread of summer? Well playing around with new glasses gently pushes me out of my comfort zone. Glasses Direct make this easy by letting you pick 4 of your favourite frames and sending them to your house for you to try in the comfort of your own home. So being adventurous is really very easy after all. 

New glasses are a small step in terms of feeling more comfortable and confident in my own skin. With baby steps (and keeping up my half marathon training) by the time May comes around I'll be feeling better about myself and less worried about having to wear summer clothes.

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Friday, 8 April 2016

The Dean, Dublin

What makes a great trip even better? An amazing hotel that's what.

When the idea of visiting Dublin first crossed my mind I knew that I wanted to stay in The Dean. I'd stumbled across the hotel via one of my favourite bloggers (Audrey Leighton) and I fell in love straight away.

As a student it was all about getting the cheapest and most basic hotel possible. That tends to result in you needing to buy flip flops so you can stand in the shower and keeping the anti bacterial wipes close to hand. Now that I'm a 'functioning' adult with an annual salary I like to keep things a little more classy and comfortable than a shared hostel room in Toronto with a lady called Judith who was attempting to elude American boarder guards (it's a long long story).

My basic requirements for a good hotel are: a comfy bed with crisp clean sheets and a spotless bathroom. Everything else is a wonderful bonus.

The Dean knew it was my birthday so went above the call of duty to make my day special. One of their amazing desserts was waiting for me when we got the keys to our room along with a lovely little note. In the evening went had dinner at Sophie's where my dessert was presented with a birthday candle. Ten out of ten for effort!
Regarding Sophie's, we also ended up having breakfast there on two occasions and drinks on the Sunday before our flights. So safe to say we really enjoyed it there. The restaurant is helped by having a beautiful view of Dublin and a roof top terrace. I'm not sure how often you can make use of the terrace with the Irish weather (everything you've heard about that is true) but it's great to have that option.

Food aside, the rooms were great. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into the design. The beds were comfortable and the bathroom was probably one of the nicest hotel bathrooms I've ever had the privilege of using.

Everything in the rooms was for sale if anything in particular caught your eye. There are also lots of little extras that make your stay even more comfortable and entertaining. The nespresso machine helped us on our first morning and the marshall amp and vinyl player helped keep our mood high after long days walking across Dublin.

In the evening the downstairs turns into a popular bar with a resident DJ. It was fun to sit downstairs with a glass of Malbec and people watch. It's always reassuring when the locals show up because it must mean you've chosen well.

The Dean is conveniently located near to lots of clubs and interesting restaurants. If Sophie's doesn't interest you make sure you check out Bunsen which is just five minutes from the hotel. In terms of bars if you're into craft beer head to Against The Grain. The wonderful bar tender who served us doesn't have anything at all to do with that recombination... Much.

Thanks for the wonderful Irish hospitality guys. Next time I'm in Dublin this place will be my home again.

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Sunday, 3 April 2016


I have always wanted to go to Dublin and visit Ireland. I'm not even sure where this desire came from but I have had itchy feet for an Irish visit for the longest time and I went into 2016 making it my mission to go.

I'd toyed with the idea of going alone for the weekend of my 25th birthday but luckily I had a willing travel companion in the form of my friend Fiona. We got onto the plane in Cardiff and a very short 40 minute plane ride later we arrived in sunny Dublin. I fell in love with Dublin the minute we got off the bus and walked to our hotel for the weekend - The Dean. More on that wonderful hotel later.

For the first day we decided to take it easy having had an early rise. We dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed back into the city centre to take it all in.

Dublin has some stunning architecture, I loved the beautiful red brick buildings which made reminded me a lot of photos my parents showed me of their life in Brooklyn before I was born. Even though it's only a short flight from Wales, the Euro and bilingual signs in English and Gaelic means that Ireland has its very distinctive feel to it. It of course has it's very own history and Ireland is completely separate to the UK as explained by the commemorations for the Easter Rising of 1916.

Luckily we had a beautiful first day weather wise, so we made the most out of it by heading to Trinity College.

Trinity College was stunning and made me want to find some excuse to go back to university. It was heaving when we arrived and there was a long queue for the Book of Kells which we ended up seeing on our last day. More on that later.

The university was founded in 1592, modelled after the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. It's one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland as well as Ireland's oldest university. It really is a beautiful campus, students offer tours of the college which give you a good insight into the long history of the university. 

Visiting the university during the Easter weekend was very interesting as the campus was buzzing. Dublin was gearing up to celebrate the 100 year commemoration for the Easter Rising of 1916. 

The Easter Rising was an armed insurrection by Irish Republicans to end the British rule in Ireland and gain independence for Ireland. This all happened whilst Britain was engaged in World War I. Almost 500 people died during the Rising and more then 2,600 people were wounded. Large parts of Dublin were destroyed and the history has left a lasting legacy on Ireland and Northern Ireland.

I won't pretend to understand all of the complexion Irish history but seeing the city come together to commemorate this important part of their history was very moving. It's inspired me to learn more about Irish history because I'm sure I'll be back to visit Ireland sooner rather than later.

There are more Dublin posts coming soon so keep your eyes peeled!

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