Saturday, 30 July 2016

Romania 2016 Travel Diary


As I'm sure most of you know, my Mum is Romanian, and although my Grandma lives with us here and has done for the past few years now, we still have a lot of family friends in Bucharest so we like to go back when we can. We've gone every other summer for the last six years now and so, our last trip having been in 2014, we flew to Bucharest for five days last week.

Five days was incredibly short but it was all Mum could get off work so we took it, and had such a lovely time. As I've written before, holidays in Romania aren't like real holidays for me because it sort of feels like going home and Mum and I spend the majority of our time there going from place to place to see different people so it can often end up being a bit of a whirlwind.

To give us a bit of a break from that we like to get out of the city and see Romania's countryside when we visit - meaning we actually explore the country instead of just seeing cafes and people's houses (not to say that that isn't fun!). On this occasion we only had time to spend one night out of Bucharest but, as you can see from the photos, it was just *stunning*. We went to Sinaia which is just a ninety minute or so train journey outside of Bucharest but my oh my, it's such a contrast. The landscape outside of the city is just beautiful and, I know it's a cliche to say it, but the air in the mountains/countryside is so refreshing - you really can tell the difference compared with the city. I may have been complaining about my shins hurting for days after walking down a 1400 foot mountain, but it was so worth it to get to experience a different side of Romania.

The most special moment of the trip this time though had to be getting to see my cousin. Due to a bit of a family disagreement between my Grandma/Mum and Uncle (that is the understatement of the year but I don't want to get into family politics here) I hadn't seen my cousin Maria for fifteen years before this holiday. It makes me terribly sad to think of all the lost time we've had as I have the fondest memories of us playing together when we were young - Maria is one year younger than me - but I'm so grateful that I was able to see her now. Of course, reunions like this require patience and lots of baby steps but, as the disagreement was never between myself and her, I really do hope that we can develop some sort of relationship. I may not know how it's going to work out but I do know that getting to spend an hour chatting with her made me incredibly happy and grateful for my patchwork family. Life really is too short to waste it on petty arguments.

It was also, of course, lovely to catch up with one of my best friends, Tudor, and to see so many family friends. I'm always banging on about how quickly the time goes but, having a second family in a different country really does go to show me that that's very much the case. So all I can do is appreciate the times when we are able to be together. Romania this year was wonderful, as always, but the reunion with Maria means I know I'll look back on it for years as a very special trip.


(The last three photos are from my very talented friend, Tudor's, collection of the trip.)

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Fulfilling My Childhood Dream | Seeing Busted Live


I got back from Romania two days ago now (a post on that will hopefully be coming your way very soon) but I wanted to share as soon as I possibly could what an amazing time I had yesterday evening. Last night I saw the first band I ever loved, Busted, live at Sandown Park and it was *incredible*. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting them to be the best performers considering that it's been eleven years since they broke up but they had such an incredible energy which made the entire night spectacular.

Busted's debut album was the first CD I ever bought and I can still remember the day I found out they were breaking up - I was eight years old and someone told me at school. I can even remember the name of the girl who told me, and us mourning the dreadful news together, refusing to believe that it could be true. It was the age when I'd first really got into music and Busted were my absolute favourites; I'd listen to them non-stop to the point where my Mum would beg me to put another CD on. (Side note: doesn't it feel strange now to think of actually having to change CDs if you wanted to listen to some different music, not just press a few buttons on your phone?)

Even now I'm unashamed (ok, maybe a little ashamed) to say I know every line to every song, so getting to see Busted live last night and for them to live up to my childhood expectations really was a dream come true. They're all great singers and performers so if you get the chance to see them I would really say just go for it. If nothing else you'll have a fab night out singing along to all your favourite songs from the early noughties, and who doesn't love a good music throwback?!

It really was a wonderful evening and my eight year old self would be so thrilled that I finally got to see my favourite band live!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Let's Catch Up // Wimbledon 2016 & The Past Few Weeks


Three and a half weeks doesn't sound like a very long time at all, does it? Yet in the space of that short time I've had my life overtaken by a job at one of the most prestigious sporting events of the year and become close with people I had never met before (both of which I have loved). During this, though, we've also seen terrible massacres across the world including in Orlando and the killing of the wonderful MP Jo Cox; the country I live in has decided to leave the EU; our Prime Minister has resigned - the list goes on and on.

It's been incredibly strange to work in an environment where, for the most part, there is so much positivity and people are able to achieve things the majority of us could only dream of while these horrific and unsettling things have been taking place. In a way, I've been sheltered from it - working twelve hour days almost every day doesn't leave much time for worrying about the future of our country - but, despite that, I am still deeply saddened by the direction our country has taken. Of course I believe in democracy and that everyone should be entitled to their own opinion; I'm not here to suggest that the referendum was a sham or that we should be going back on it (the people have voted and I think that's the end of it sadly). However, that doesn't mean that when I saw the result I wasn't filled with dread. Dread at the message it sends to our fellow Europeans. Dread at the thought that scaremongering has once again won out. Dread at the idea that, should I one day have children, they may not have the same security or opportunities I have been fortunate enough to grow up with, and that this direction was ultimately decided by generations who will not have to live with the consequences.

As a history student, I found it incredibly depressing as all I could think about was the fact that we've been here so many times before and that we seem to be going backwards once again. A few years ago for my A Levels I studied British politics from 1945 to 1990. There was so much instability in Britain at that time which I had been completely unaware of before learning about the period. I remember even now that I couldn't believe how much minorities were singled out so recently and how many governments there were because no one seemed able to deal with the problems Britain faced. But it also made me feel grateful to live in a modern Britain; one which I believed was fairly accepting, or, at least, heading in that direction, and one that was relatively stable. And now it feels like we're back to square one, and I just find that terribly, terribly sad. But, as my Dad would say, that's the way the cookie crumbles and we've just got to make the best of the situation we're in and hope/campaign for progress in the future. I'm sure many people did vote with their conscience and after carrying out extensive researsh so I'll be the first to say that I could be entirely wrong about what the aftermath of leaving the EU could mean.

On another note, while all this has been taking place, working at the Wimbledon Championships has truly shown me how great it is when people come together. I've never worked in an environment like it. No matter how tired I was, I couldn't help but be in awe of how much good takes place at Wimbledon. And for Andy Murray and Heather Watson to both win on my first year working there was really something special. It's odd how quickly you get used to a new routine, despite us being so nervous of change. Working at Wimbledon for three and a half weeks has really taken over my life, to the point where I felt as though it would feel a little empty spending the day at home today. I was definitely saddened at saying goodbye to people and having the sense of it all being over last night, but today I feel happy to be back to my life and to have the time to come back to this space to just write. And, it's helped me find, as I always do, that no matter the uncertainty; the unfairness of situations; and the fear you might have, life goes on.

I hope your Monday isn't too miserable - I'm hoping to be back soon now that I've got some more time on my hands!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Currently #10

Every time I come to write a 'Currently' post I'm surprised by how long it's been since I wrote one before because I love writing them and I feel like they're the posts in which I properly catch up with how I'm feeling/what's going on in the moment, if that makes sense. This time it's been five months so it definitely feels like it's time to treat you all to another one and to take stock of what's been going on in my life lately. I'm sure you know the drill by now so I'm just going to dive straight in...


Reading :: Becoming by Laura Jane Williams. This book is something else. Essentially a memoir of the last ten years of Williams' life, it tells the story of how she lost herself after the breakdown of a relationship and learnt to love herself through travelling, a year of celibacy and more. I won't be able to do Laura's writing justice here so all I can say is that no matter who you are, this book will teach you huge amounts and is well-worth reading. We've all struggled to know who we are and with our self-esteem at some point or another so hearing someone else's story is always a comfort. Pair that with Laura's *stunning* writing and you'll truly feel as though you're reading the best advice you've ever been given from a very close friend. I've found myself using little sticky tabs to mark passages I know I'll want to come back to because they resonated with me so much and nearly every chapter so far has a tab! I would really implore you to read it if you haven't already; Laura words things I've felt over these past few years better than I ever could.

Eating :: I've been trying to eat a more healthy, but more importantly, balanced diet over the past couple of months (with the exception of when I was in Italy of course) and I have to say I've really noticed a difference in not only my figure but in how I feel. I don't think I'll ever be someone who will go cold turkey in eliminating chocolate and cake from my diet because, frankly, I think the healthiest thing you can do is have a balanced diet rather than, what is, for me, an unrealistic one, but having it less and balancing it out with healthier meals is making such a difference to how I feel - I've got more energy, am having less IBS cramps and, touch wood, my skin's looking a lot clearer too. Having said all that, I started working at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships on Wednesday and the food I'm provided with is insane and delicious, so all this may go out the window over the next few weeks... 

Thinking about :: Family. My sister and two little nieces are up in Yorkshire from New Zealand where they live, so myself and my other two sisters and our Dad spent six days together last week. It was so lovely to have us all together as well as all my nieces and nephews for the first time as it's such a rare occurrence for us to be under one roof given that my sister lives on the other side of the world! The time we spent there made me so grateful for my family - something I'm sure I don't appreciate enough. Although we'll be together at an extended family party next weekend, I find it really sad to have to say goodbye to my sister Tai and her two little ones not knowing when I'll next see them. Hopefully I'll be able to get out there sometime in the next few years but it's such a shame that they live so far away. It does make the time we spend together more precious though and that's why family and how great they are has been on my mind these past couple of weeks. 

Watching :: New Girl. The latest series started being aired a couple of weeks ago and I'm truly over the moon about it (I know, I should probably get out more!). If you haven't watched New Girl though you really should - I know very few people who have watched it and haven't found it funny, so it's worth giving it a go for sure. I personally find it absolutely hilarious and the central character, Jess, played by the fabulous Zooey Deschanel, is my ultimate spirit animal. I relate to her so much, which some may see as a bad thing (which you'll understand if you've seen the show) but I definitely see it as good, and New Girl is just a series that I will forever come back to when I want to laugh at the wonderfully random things the writers come up with played out by the scenario of a girl living with three male roommates. 

Listening to :: Ever since going to BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend in Exeter last month (which was incredible btw), I have a newfound obsession for One Republic and The 1975. Of course Coldplay stole the show but I was pleasantly surprised by the former two, not expecting them to be as good as they were. Both bands had such incredible stage presence and, as a result, I've been playing them both on repeat ever since. I think I'm starting to drive my Mum insane because I'm listening to my favourite songs by them over and over. I just can't stop, they're both great!

Loving :: Having a car! This is still so new to me since I got it less than two months ago, but already I've found so much more freedom in being able to just get in my car and drive wherever, whenever. Since driving to Exeter and back I've been much more confident than I was and, while I'm still a bit of a nervous driver, I'm trying to get behind the wheel as often as I can to get over it and I really am enjoying how much easier it makes my life. It's the best purchase I've ever made without doubt and, I can see my sister's warning that once you get a car, you can't be without one is definitely going to ring true for me!

Aaand that's everything that's currently on my mind. I hope that you all have a great weekend, and please let me know if you've got any of the same or similar obsessions as me at the moment - it's always nice to know you're not alone in them!