the peaky perks of sheffield; a day out in the city

I’ve lived in this city for approximately seven months. I use the verb ‘live’  loosely as I have had my name inscribed on a tenancy agreement since the 1st September of last year when I’ve actually spent about half of my time in Nottingham –  a city an hour south of my bespoke “home”. This is a result of a jumble of reasons that I won’t ramble one with, but instead, I thought it was about time to share the various sights and eateries settled amongst the squash of buildings and pot-holed streets of Sheffield. I’ve grown to love it (except for the hills) in my own way and as a postgraduate student, it has been a good city with a great atmosphere.

The town centre was the first place I remember visiting in Sheffield. Actually, the first memory I have of the city was at a takeaway called Aslan’s on the corner of Division street after a rather colourful night at Corporation club back in September 2012. [Heck, where has the time gone?]

But to retain some idea of being a sophisticated student, let’s picture a bright and sunny town centre. Although there are not many shops filling the high streets, there are a couple of large spaces and sights worth the visit. The first is the Peace Gardens on the south side of the majestic Town Hall. It is a semi-circle in shape and has a fountain to one side which children run through in delight during the summer months. It’s a hot spot for the lunch time hour break or meal, especially with a (really good) Pastry shop and Costa Coffee only 100 yards away.

Sheffield Peace Gardens
credit: @bannydav [insta]

Once you’ve sunned yourself to happy satisfaction, the Winter Gardens are located a 50-metre walk away which is attached to the Sheffield Contemporary [Museum]. This includes a room dedicated to the history of the steel industry of Sheffield as it was the thriving “City of Steel” back in the day. It even showed how the stages of making cutlery and cutting it into the correct shapes which I found intriguing.

Now you’ve educated yourself a bit on Sheffield history and legacy, head up past the city hall onto Division street. There are a few eclectic shops but most importantly, set your sights on a cafe called Steamyard. I discovered this little tucked away gem when I first started in Sheffield as I wanted to check out cafés and which were good to study in. Steamyard [insta: @steamyard] offers both a great atmosphere and cracking food. They have bagels and sandwich options for lunch, as well as brownies, macaroons, doughnuts and now, are selling kronuts which are just gorgeous! It so happens that they have been chosen as one of the UK’s top 30 places to have brunch by the Telegraph. They also offer dairy-free and gluten-free options so there are no excuses not to make a visit! If you only feel like a quick caffeine quick, that’s also cool, as there’ll be more food stops along this adventure!

Past the Drama Studio and my department, SEAS, to Broomhill

Once stuffed with delicious goodies, it’s time to walk off those calories by heading up the hill to the University situated at the top of West Street/Glossop Road. Although it’s a little scattered, the University of Sheffield Student Union is a large funky-looking building that is cavernous on the inside. The best time to visit is during term time as students are bustling in and out, giving the place life and energy. Once you’ve got a glimpse of life through a ‘uni of’ student’s eyes, head on up to Weston Park where there’s a museum, but also a nice loop route and a cute duck pond with a bridge. (I always think if you wear old victorian clothes and ignored the modern buildings behind, it’d be like you’re in a Jane Austen book).

Source: http://www.travelettes.net/five-reasons-to-go-to-sheffield/ [blog]

If you’re as fit as a fiddle and enjoy the walk along the Sheffield streets, I’d recommend following the main road outside the Museum-side park gates up to Broomhill which is a little hub of shops. If you haven’t eaten lunch in Steamyard, now is the time to fill your grumbling tummies. There are a couple of pubs, including Nottingham House which is known for its yummy pies. But most importantly, there is a Vietnamese place which recently has opened up on the corner called Nam Song Coffee House [insta: @namsonguk]. Its exterior is bright orange (and this is one of the reasons I ventured in in the first place). The food is delicious and affordable (students I’m looking at you as there is also a 10% discount). When it first opened, it offered the Vietnamese sandwich: Bahn Mi, or the Vietnamese noodle soup: Pho. You get to pick the meat, the vegetables, the sauces… it’s basically a DIY/PYO job and hey presto! it’ll appear in front of you. The other major perk of the place is the Vietnamese filter coffee which can come with condensed milk. *drool*

Now we’ve packed ourselves with all the goodies, it’s time for even more wandering over to the Botanical Gardens! You’ll be glad to hear this part is a ten-minute downhill stroll. The best time of year to go is either spring or autumn as it’s colourful and the pictures are instagram-worthy in the bright sunshine. There is an indoor part full of plants from other parts of the world and on another side of the Gardens, surprisingly, a bear pit! It was used in the 1800s and has recently been restored with the addition of a 2.4m steel sculpture of a bear. It’s a lovely oasis which isn’t often found in bustling cities which gives a little variety to your day.

The Bear Pit: Sheffield Botanical Gardens. source: @georgieporgie152 [insta]

Now, this is where the rest of the day is yours, you can catch a bus back into the centre – there’s the 6, 271 or 52 outside the top end of the Botanical gardens that can take you back.

One place I haven’t mentioned yet is Kelham Island. It is most commonly known for the Kelham Island Museum, which “was opened in 1982 to house the objects, pictures and archive material representing Sheffield’s industrial story.” [source: website]. There is also a micro-brewery which you can book a tour to see how they make their beers and the industry in Sheffield. It’s probably best to visit that earlier in the day as it is a little out of the way and the Museum closed at 4pm.

If you’re stuck for evening activities, here are some suggestions:

  • if you want to continue to be cultured: there are two theatres, the Lyceum and the Crucible, next to each other nearby the town centre and the station. Sometimes there is a very popular play on but others are usually less known but still really good to watch. There are often student discounts and are reasonably priced.
  • if you are looking for a more energetic scene: another idea is to walk along West Street as it is the heart of Sheffield’s nightlife scene: the Wick at Both Ends is known for delicious cocktails, as are Bloo 88 and Cavendish for happy hour deals.
  • for dinner: in the city centre there’s the Botanist (££) which is a restaurant decorated like an enchanted forest and has good cocktails, a Spanish place called Cubana (££) which offers good sized portions of tapas. As well as the usual chains such as All Bar One, Wagamamas, Zizzi’s, McDonalds… whatever you fancy 😀

I hope this guide has given you a glimpse of what a day in Sheffield is like, maybe it even tempts you to one day visit! The train station is an easy 10-minute walk from the city centre, or there is a tram that you can get on for £1.60 one way journey all the way up to the University if you so wish! 

If you have any recommendations that I haven’t mentioned, or your own experiences, feel free to share them! I love hearing about new or different places to have an adventure at. It’s impossible to fit in everything in a day and there’s much more to see in Sheffield… or just to catch a trainx or a one hour bus from the station, or drive to the Peak District

TGIF 😀

gl xxx

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it’s about time: healthy happiness.

Since the 1st of January 2017, I’ve probably written a gazillion to-do lists in various notebooks and mobile phone apps with things I want to achieve. Okay, I’ve been doing that since my teenage years and have wanted to become a better person for both myself and those around me… and I’m not yet where I want to be. I’ve done well at meeting my academic goals, my adventure goals, any form of “bucket list” goals I have… but regarding my fitness, health and nutritional happiness, I can’t seem to leap the first hurdle, let alone cross the start line.

The fitness industry is booming with more people, particularly women, achieving the “look” of being fit, toned and healthy and I want to be part of it. In May last year, I was the closest I have been to being comfortable with the physical ‘me’ in a long time. I was going to the gym at least twice, if not three, times a week, and had been doing hour-long personal training sessions for three months. I could tell I was getting stronger and fitter even though I still grumbled and huffed when I had to do an exercise I didn’t like or if I was just feeling downright grumpy. What can you do? 😀

When I moved to Sheffield in September, I bought a gym membership but have only used it about ten times. It’s maddening. Even when I have it written in stark black ink “START GOING TO THE GYM” or “DO ANYTHING EXERCISEY ONCE A DAY” or more recently, “DO TEN THOUSAND STEPS A DAY”… I’ve hardly hit the goals. I give in to staying within my comfort zone but I know that every time this happens I’m putting off what I really want. And, that should be incentive enough.

Nevertheless, a friend of mine recently posted her fitness goals, her aims to get fit and I know that if I don’t start at some point (I.E. now), I never will. I have tried to keep it as simple as possible because I know that overwhelming myself with pressure will just send me to the nearest McDonalds and a sofa. My incentive is that I share this with you, and will continue to, so then I won’t let my little blog down so-to-speak. So, my goals aren’t to achieve the transformation that girls do in the movies, or imagine I’ll ever be an “instagram” girl standard. (I am not digging at myself here.)

I just want to know and feel that no matter whether I have had a cheeky cheat day or a holiday, I will have confidence to proudly stand in front of people I either know or don’t, in a ridiculous onesie or a bikini, with makeup on or makeup off, and be happy with what I eat and that I’m fit and healthy. 😀

I’m going to use a fitness programme by a now vaiiir famous instagrammer from Sydney: @kaylaitsines as well as doing a variety of exercises that my personal trainers taught me. I’ve chosen to do her programme (because I handily have it off an old friend (thank you)) and more importantly because it can be done anywhere. This may require a few adjustments at times but it means I don’t have to rely on gyms or which country I’m in to do it! This is great for me as one of the challenges I face is my knack for not staying in the same place for a good long period of time… so hopefully, as long as I have my trainers and some form of sports kit, I am good to go!

As another incentive to start, but also to do something that’s close to my heart, I’m raising money for MS Society UK – it is raising money for research for multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease which affects the nerves anywhere and possibly everywhere in your body.

My Grandpa was diagnosed with it, and since with Parkinson’s, and although my role is only tiny, I want to do something (as well as mowing the lawns and feeding his birds of course 😀 ) The rest of my story is on my fundraising page

MS Society has launched a campaign, ‘Let’s Kiss Goodbye to MS‘ for May and I’ve jumped onto the bandwagon! Some are giving up alcohol or wearing makeup whereas I’m going to give up chocolate (cries inside) and train to run in Nottingham’s Wollaton Park Run on the 10th June. Two birds with one stone! Yay?

Xo.

Who dunnit!?: murder mystery at its finest

April 7th, 2017:

I recently participated in hosting my fourth murder mystery dinner party with my “not-technically-my-housemates-but-those-who-I-live-with-them-most-of-the-time-housemates” in Nottingham last Friday.

As I am no longer a “fresher” and have transitioned from the ‘club scene’ to the ‘bar scene’ to go out for a few drinks and possibly a dance, I think that us young adults are having to come up with different ways to have an event or do the same thing over and over again. I love hosting events and have a healthy repertoire of parties from my past (almost) five years at university. actually, even before that, I have managed to entertain a multitude of guests from girly sleepovers to good-sized parties. (Wow, thanks to my parents for putting up with so much chaos in my teenage years…)

Thus, when the opportunity arose to suggest another event for our Nottingham household, I suggested a murder mystery dinner party.

It was an apt suggestion as in my second and fourth year of my undergraduate degree, my housemates (at the time) and I hosted them and had a cracking time.

Why are they worth the investment?

Every game is around £10-12 depending on the number of players per game – and is easily found on amazon.co.uk.  The game I played with friends in my fourth year was bought because I found it for £5 in TKMAXX once! The box includes invitations that give descriptions of all the characters involved and envelopes so you can either be “old school” and mail them to your chosen guests or just give them instead. If that’s too much effort, it’s easy just to take a picture of the descriptions and share it on WhatsApp or Facebook! 😉

There is also an audio CD and scripts for each of the characters, it is basically organised fun! 😀 Also, be ready to dress uuuuuuup! It is so brilliant.

Murder Mystery Take Four:

This time the chosen game titled ‘The Brie, the Bullet and the Black Cat’ required ten players. We already had a party of seven so reached out to friends to come along and time travel into the year of 1942 to crack a murder case. Normally, there is a round of the game for each course of a three-course dinner which I find offers a nice switch between being characters 1942 and ourselves in reality. As we only bought ingredients for food two hours before start time, we kept the extravagance to a minimum and had a main course and pudding course instead. Although there were crisps and dips to start us off! It was all vair yum. 😀

Everyone did a fantastic job trying to speak in different accents: Connor was German, Bety was Russian, Amy was French, Nichola was a husky French woman [wins best accent award], Danny was American, I was Danish, and the others slotted in somewhere in-between these diverse nationalities! There was much wine was drunk and food was eaten, and soon enough (three hours later), we voted on which of us were the murderers and the result was revealed! (Although I cannot remember from this part of the evening onwards until I was told about it the next morning… the Danes and their drinking, eh?!) 😉

Apart from the first murder mystery party I hosted with my family back when I was about fifteen or sixteen, here are photos of the three since, have been memorable events that have made my university life all the better! ❤

murder 2
Murder Mystery #2
murder 3
Murder Mystery #3
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Murder Mystery #4

Excuse the last photo… I don’t remember taking it and usually, my polaroid skills do not result in pitch black photos!
[cred to Karmen for the monochrome polaroids]

I hope everyone has a go at doing this, it’s worth the while!

Xo.

harry potter world: omgyes

When a former housemate and one of my closest friends Dave revealed he had got a graduate job at Ocado based in Hatfield (Hertfordshire) last year, I yelled with excitement about two things:

  1. I totally get the delivery discount right?!
  2. that’s so close to the Harry Potter Studio Tours, we have to go!

On the 8th April, we made the second true. (I’m still waiting on a discount code Dave…)

It was one of those things that if you never book it, you’ll never get round to doing it. In January when both my diary and bank balance glowed with optimistic possibilities to go on adventures, I seized the chance. On Saturday around 12pm I got into my little Seat and drove 105 miles south to Hatfield. Only to find a Dave half-hanging out of his massive window in the unexpected “heatwave” of a weekend! Well, he wasn’t quite, but you can open his window fully and could easily climb out onto the roof of the lower floor in front of it… Anyway, back to the story!

Before the main event of the day, we went on a mini adventure to meet Chloe at Jarman Park (a big retail park) as I had not seen her in so long! Two Frankie and Benny’s garlic pizza breads later – not all consumed by me, may I add! – it was time to head on as our tickets were booked for 17:30 entry to the ‘Making of Harry Potter Studios’.

From the moment the large caramel (but not tasty looking) coloured huge warehouses that encased the Harry Potter Studies came into view, it was getting preeeeetty exciting! We parked up and trotted inside… and I feel like no one can prepare you for what lies inside. I don’t necessarily mean it’s the most stunning memorable place in the world, but I would be dumbfounded to hear if someone had had no reaction whatsoever to what lies inside the huge building. IT WAS INCREDIBLE.

And it got better. I really hope everyone gets a chance to go! It’s a really unique experience and the detail that has gone into the creation of the Harry Potter-based attraction, let alone into the creation of all eight films!

I don’t want to say much more as I feel it is a place that must be kept in secret for all those who haven’t been. If I were to go again, my advice would be:

  1. No matter what people tell you, have a try of the Butterbeer.
    (If one of the queues are really long, you can order a Butterbeer from the side with sandwiches and get the drink in a minute rather than wait for ten!)
  2. Take a good camera – that may be a bit obvious… oops.
  3. I think no matter the time it’s gonna be busy! However, if you can, I feel like booking for the earliest (or second earliest) time in the morning gives you the best chance of getting to look at everything for a good amount of time. Possibly the evening times too, as it doesn’t close until ten.
    (And, hopefully, there’ll be fewer people taking photos of everything single thing around you.)
  4. Expect to be in there for three hours, Dave and I pretty much did and we didn’t rush ourselves at all!
  5. Get a chocolate frog.
    But don’t put it in the fridge like I did… (because chocolate tastes good cold). It is solid chocolate and I had to hack at it or gnaw on it like sweetcorn to get a bite. (Not a proud moment…)

Here are a couple of snaps of the adventure as I can’t resist adding them on here.

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Dave, thank you for having me down in your neck of the woods! It was great to see you and I miss being your annoying housemate who crashes into your room, is an awful player on Star Wars, and for bossing you about like a witch mother. I can’t wait to move down to London to be closer to you, and all our other housemates. We’re gonna have fuuun!

Until next time,

One proud Hufflepuff 😀

Xo.

 

beaches and views: cornwall in 48 hours.

In November last year, Jessie and I had promised to see each other in the new year of 2017, aiming for the end of March. In January I found myself on Flybe’s website booking a flight to Newquay airport in Cornwall after working out that it was cheaper to catch a train to Manchester Airport rather than drive myself [for five hours omg] or catch many trains for 7-8 hours with awkward journey times. I couldn’t believe I was going to go to Cornwall!

Soon enough, Sunday 2nd of April arrived and I was heading to Nottingham Train Station to catch the 11:44 train to Manchester Airport. Jessie moved down to Cornwall a year ago to pursue her dream of living in a place she has spent her life going on holiday to with her family and got a job at one of the local and top brand hotels in north Cornwall near Newquay. I admire her for making the move to somewhere new and taking on the challenges of adulthood face on. I boarded the little plane that would leap across the British isles to my destination and found myself considering the topic of adulthood and what it entails. I seem to keep coming across articles or things that talk about us ‘twentysomethings‘ and our lives here and now. Nevertheless, I let those thoughts dance away and attempt to emanate relaxed vibes instead.

At 17:30 I arrived at the tiniest little airport I’ve ever seen. It was one building the size of a town hall and the baggage reclaim was the size of a lounge in a standard semi-detached house. As I had no luggage, I was in arrivals in about 39 seconds. Wow. 😀

Ten minutes later Jessie and I found each other and we were soon zooming down the winding country lanes talking about her car as it’s very similar to mine! Seat Mii / Skoda citigo cars are obviously the cool trend at the moment… 😀

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Mawgan Porth Beach, Cornwall

We stopped at Mawgan Porth beach, removed our shoes to feel the sand between our toes, and walked out towards the crashing waves and the sea beyond, sharing our most recent updates and tales. The water was rather icy and a bit of a surprise to our little toes but that couldn’t ruin the 360 view that surrounded us. The sun was low in the sky, warm light cascading down over the green coast that disappeared into the distance on both sides of where we were standing. It was one of those moments where no cameras are used, where you really take it in and experience it 100%.

Once back at the car, Jessie drove us to where she lives in St Eval and gave me a little tour of her three bedroom home that she shares with her 19 year old brother. I think if I lived with Harry, we would drive each other mad… Nonetheless, their house was lovely, cosy and the pet hamster was a cute extra housemate that loved to loudly chew the bars on its cage. In the evening we went to a

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Polzeath Bay, Cornwall

pub by the famous beach in Polzeath called the Oyster Catcher for a drink and some light food. Given that I was by the sea, we decided to share two starters: moûles frites and prawn skewers. Yum.

I made it my challenge to eat as much seafood as possible during my forty-eight hours in this Cornish land. By hour four: we were back home, relaxed on the sofa, and planned for the next day…

At 10:45am, hour seventeen, we arrived at the Headland Hotel by Fistral Beach on the south side of Newquay for a relaxing few hours in the spa. We donned big plush dressing gowns and complimentary flip flops and made sure to make full use of the facilities. 😀 The swimming pool area had different shower areas, one had different settings such as “tropical storm” which douses you in cold water to eventually add hot water to give you a “refreshing” experience. My response to that was just pure shock at the water temperature. I hope I never get stuck in a real tropical storm… There was a relaxation room which was the best part of the spa facilities with big loungers, fluffy blankets with complimentary sweeties and tea. We had lunch at 13:30, hour twenty, and I kept to my challenge, having battered seafood, which meant I ticked squid, white fish and more prawns off my seafood checklist. Double yum.

At 15:30, hour twenty-two,  we sadly gave back the robes and got back in the car to head to Padstow, the home of Rick Stein, which was a lovely little port dotted with shops and a panoramic view of a channel running inland from the sea. After ducking and diving into the little local surf shops, seeing three pasty shops sitting side-by-side [talk about competition, eh?], we decided to get scallops from Rick Stein’s take-away fish and chips place, go to Tesco for ingredients to make a salad and head home for a feast. My list of seafood eaten was going well, and I am so proud. I also feel like my body was thanking me for it as fish oils and omega 3 are good for us!

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By hour twenty-eight, the fresh sea air and good food had me in a sleeping slumber that I haven’t had in a long while… On Tuesday, we woke to a rather gloomy looking sky, but unperturbed headed out towards Port Isaac to the north. It is the site where the TV series Doc. Martin is filmed so I definitely had a picture in front of the Doctors house!

We had a lovely wander up through the narrow steep streets and admired the colourful houses that sit in the side of the sloping cliffs and those that are also standalone. We had lunch in a pub with a table looking out over the dock, and I finished my seafood list with a mackerel pâte and sourdough toast. Triple yum! 

We ended the trip as we started, walking onto Mawgan Porth beach, where the sun had once again broke through the clouds and lit up the blues in the sea and golds in the sand. 

Hour forty-seven: the little building that is Newquay Airport came into view. 

Although Jessie and I only ever manage to see each other a few times a year – if that – it is great to just settle straight into easy conversation and giggles. True friendship just makes the world go round.

And with that, my 48 hours in Cornwall have been the first mini-break with an adult touch involving spas, good food and wine. I hope I’ve given a good impression of the stray section of land that makes up the British Isle.

Thank you to Jess for a fantastic two days. Here’s to more adventures everyone! 

Xo. 

“to build or not to build bridges?” – a metaphorical dilemma

I recently read an article shared by a friend on Facebook about friendships and how these change during the transition from adolescence to adulthood: ‘Why adult friendships makes me sad sometimes‘. The result of reading it making me stop and think, and reflect on what she wrote through the eyes of my own life.

I can relate to what she’s said of how during my teenage years, so many hours were devoted to building and maintaining friendships: the highlights of the week always being break time and lunch time at school, the use of messenger as soon as we got home and the rise of Bebo and especially Facebook (which apparently I joined almost nine years to the day ago!), the day-long day trips walking around the local town shopping – or more appropriately – window shopping. I always managed to remember to give out birthday cards, Christmas cards and was a rather avid gift giver as a display of my friendship.

Yet, as the author of the above article so articulately wrote, as I’ve creeped further into adulthood and more candles appear on the cake, the clock seems to race against me to remember to speak to a friend, invite them to an event, attend their own event… and the list goes on. I worried that my travels abroad during my third year of my undergraduate degree in Spain and China would result in losing many friends. Although we have technology in abundance these days, it is so easy to not pick up the phone and have meaningful exchanges like I once spent 2-3 hours a night doing at the young age of 15. Life is no longer within the confines of my parents’ rules and dependence and without this, the rest of the real world comes flooding in with responsibilities, distractions, and skewed perceptions of what sometimes is more important.

Yet, I have been so fortunate to have long-distance friendships that still stand strong. And, despite only seeing some of them once, twice a year, I adore them more than anything ❤

These friendships that have stood the test of distance, time, high stress-levels, bursts of excitement etc. give me faith that I’m doing something right by them. At least, I hope so. Many of my friends have joined the working world yet time doesn’t adjust to accommodate ‘adult friendships’ as if we all still have three million things on our to do list before being able to at least sit on the couch and take a relaxing breath.

These changes that accompany the transition to the independent big wide world are not something that we can control, nor is there a solution to harmonising the balance between work, life, home, friends, family and a myriad of other things that take up our time. Nevertheless, I now understand when one should always continue to build the metaphorical bridge between friendships or let them slowly burn down and go our separate ways. I guess it’s own own responsibility to recognise where we apply our efforts like our social-obsessed teenage selves did and even though it is not an easy skill to master, it is manageable. One of my lovely friends always has time for everyone, and reminded me that sometimes it can be good to give friendships a second, third, even fourth try because that is the right thing to do. And if it works, the rewards are endless.

However, this time, I believe that holding onto the past never has got anyone very far and I’ve recently done that in a bid to sympathise, to be a good person, to try and keep a crumbling bridge from crashing down, and to protect the other person and myself from hurt. But in all honestly, it has, instead, dragged it out, letting the bridge to just implode from the pressure of the unhealthy friendship.

*sigh* life happens.

Yet it’s not what falls apart that defines us and this doesn’t mean that adulthood is the doom of friendship and happiness! Although it can be a real struggle and there isn’t any guidebook telling us what to do or how to balance anything. As my godmother reminds me, some friendships are put on the “back-burner” but depending on circumstances can be rekindled at a moments notice. Just to make life even more complicated! 😀

So, I can’t agree with Man Repeller more:

This does not mean giving up. I have a lot of cards sitting on my dresser that I intend to mail once I finally buy stamps; there are a few friendships that I cracked and want to repair. At the same time, I have faith that certain sisterhoods [and brotherhoods] are built to withstand periods of not-so-good friendship, and when they do, I will thank those enduring souls for their patience, send magnificent bouquets of flowers and be prepared to reciprocate.

❤ Xo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2vBLd5Egnk – Scared to be lonely.

good things come to those who wait: growing up

It has been a running theme lately of people questioning the ‘quarter-life crisis’ and reviewing their lives by the achievements of others and themselves. Or, suddenly life had decided to take a U-turn and it turns out that maybe what you had planned isn’t actually what you want. Life is funny like that – well, if we don’t laugh, we cry so let’s assume it’s hilarious – and it’s rollercoaster tendencies always like to add a loop-de-loop or a corkscrew without warning. I’ve always wondered whether choosing to do a masters degree was a good idea. In the elongated winter nights, in a new city in which I was finding it hard to become accustomed, I thought of the other choices my friends had taken, questioned why continue in this world of studying when I could have a salary and go on holiday…

Yet, the fact that I love Asian culture, society, business has meant that I stuck it out to now; and amazingly the end is suddenly galloping toward me without hesitation. My dissertation is in scraps as I’ve changed my question three times (if I had had it my way, probably over twenty times) but I know that by the deadline in two weeks time there will be something resembling a dissertation proposal on my supervisors desk. Soon enough, come September, I will have written a 15,000 word document on South Korean women and business! Of which requires constant use of google translate for statistics and data than I ever (stupidly) anticipated…

and that’s my twenty longs years of education complete. 🤣

Of my friends: one will return to university to study to be a certified architect, one will have decided whether the career choice she made is what she wants or whether becoming a marine biologist is a better fit, one who every time I see him has a new plan built on the last (teaching, a PhD, a masters) but it’s all focused on what he is driven to do, one who, even though he didn’t know what he wanted to do, changed his job because he disliked what he did and now loves life… I could go on.

What I’m trying to say is that although at times we feel we’re walking the wrong direction on our journey of life or we find ourselves second-guessing choices – (life path big or whether you want to eat toast or cereal in the morning), that’s part of growing up into the big wide world. If the fairytales and stories of our childhood taught us anything, for example Mulan or Jasmine from Aladdin, it’s that in the face of adversity we do what we choose to do because deep down, it’s right. If we don’t feel that in our daily lives, it’s up to us to make that change. This takes time, sometimes an act of bravery either from ourselves or someone else: such as Mulan choosing to protect her father, or Aladdin to show Jasmine life outside the box. (Okay, I know they are stories and genies and dragons were involved but it’s all the same).

Our non-Disney princess-and-prince-selves  bravery is shown by making choices every day without seeing ourselves in the shadows of others. This confusion, worry, and fear that we’re not good enough, nay, that we’ve not achieved what our peers have can be perceived as a “quarter life crisis”. Yet, you’re not in one. You’ve got education, you’ve got family, you’ve got friends and by golly; you’ve got you.

It’s not easy, I know. The lemons life gives us can be a bit too sour! But hey, mix them with sugar of all the good things and bad together, and hey presto!  Life is sweet.

With that, I’m off to pray for a dissertation epiphany… sometimes life is like walking down a set of stairs, other times it’s a hike up when you wished you’d taken the lift. 🤗

Lots of love,

Xo.