The wonderings, ponderings and other 'ings' of me. Lifestyle, review, news and opinion posts. Chic with a hint of sarcasm... hopefully!

Friday 26 May 2017

A Happy Morning

I've been thinking about being grateful (yes again).

After the events in Manchester, when there is so much wrong with the world it seems some bloggers and westerners in general can get bogged down with first world problems.  Our lives don't appear as perfect looking as others so we sulk and blame the media we are using for our own failings.

I've been blogging for over 6 years though only seriously for the past couple. While I don't have a gazillion followers, a professional photographer to take my images or a size 8 body I'm honestly happy with my lot. 

Just to clarify this isn't a dig at those that are suffering, whether with mental health issues or other problems.  Its just a call to those of us that are wallowing to take a step back and try to see the bigger picture.

We aren't being chased from our homes and country only to be met with suspicion and mistrust from the very people we need help from.  We haven't just had our innocence ripped from us in a mass of nails and misplaced anger.  We haven't watched our children starve to death knowing the same thing could happen to us at any moment.  

Its important to take time to celebrate the little things.  

For me this is being in the moment of a sunny morning playing with a camera.  I'm in relatively good health, I have good friends, a loving family and enough money in my pocket for a pretty little latte.  I've a lot to be happy about and I've a sneaking suspicion that if you look at your life you do too.

Are you making the most of this UK bank holiday weekend?

Monday 15 May 2017

Travel Time: Barcelona, You sneaky city!

Some cities you fall for instantly.  From the moment you step off the plane and the first time you see the sites you’re enamoured.  Barcelona didn’t do this for me.  Let me explain, I’ve been on a good few European breaks and honestly Budapest and Sienna grabbed me more quickly and I wasn’t sure that Barcelona would do the same.  Its squares didn’t have of the vast historical significance the Pantheon or the grandeur of Piazza del Campo but they had something else, something I didn’t see the first day I was there.   They had community.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  This trip was a birthday present from my husband – 4 nights and 5 whole days in Barcelona.  When we arrived we headed straight for the beach.  I’m not really a beach person but we found a nice shaded bar in which to sup cava and try out the tapas.  It’s here I found my heart softening.  Because Barcelonans know that truffles (in any variety) and cheese (in any variety) are wonderful bedfellows. 
The Gothic Quarter grabbed my attention as a well-trained suitor who doesn’t want you to know he likes you would, subtlety but with intent. As we strolled around winding streets and found ourselves in front of traditionally beautiful cathedrals I felt myself warming.  It may not be my favourite European getaway but it still had its charm.

Then I met Antonio Gaudi. Not literally of course as he died in 1926 but through the genius that is his architecture.  I genuinely do not understand why more architects, designers or artists haven’t followed his lead.  His buildings have an edge of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the City of Oz about them.  All fantasy and fable but inspired wholly by the natural world as he said himself ‘Everything comes from the great book of nature’.   Sagrada família is bonkers, but anything that’s taken 200 years to finish and still be a priority has to be given probs, though I’d love to see the original estimate of time and cost to see if it had gone over budget a smidge!

If the cathedral gave me goosebumps Park Guell, Casa Batllo and La Pedrera damn near brought me to tears. I don’t often get all ‘connected’ to architects but I am quite certain that Gaudi and I would have gotten on extremely well.  His dreamlike vision and other dimensional ideas are what my creative side has been yearning for.  He’s like the grandfather I never had and if that’s a bit to stalkery for you I’m afraid you’ll just have to learn to deal with it. Because I love him.

On our first night we discovered the best little café bar in the city and visited/got inebriated in it every night thereafter.  You know when you walk into somewhere and they’re playing music that fits your vibe, have the kind of food that makes you want to gorge yourself like a foie gras goose and wine that makes you wonder what you have been drinking all these years? Well that’s Bar But.  I honestly think I may have to kill off some taste buds for a few days until I forget how good it all was so that I can enjoy the sustenance of home.  After three nights we made friends with the staff and my love for the city was cemented.

On the last day I saw more of that community I was talking about before.  Students sitting on piazza steps sharing fresh bread and tomatoes with their friends.  Children and dogs all scampering around whilst spritely grandparents smiled or chased after them.  The buildings all seemed to house independent businesses and had huge windows on the street level that you could look in.  Watching the leather goods makers, carpenters and interior designers so openly ignoring the bustling big city industries just a few streets away gave me pause.

As I walked around, the result of our EU referendum weighed heavy on my heart.  I saw family, not of blood but bonded from a shared space and felt we as a nation had opted out of being a part of something beautiful.  Turning our backs on our friends and neighbours to embrace dated traditions and an empty future.   Love for Barcelona sneaks up on you, at least that’s how it was for me.  I can't wait to go back as there was much I didn’t see and when I do I hope to be made to feel as welcome as I was this time. 

Have you ever been to Barcelona?

What was your favourite part?


Friday 5 May 2017

You've come a long way baby!

Sometimes you have to stop and think about how far you've come.  

On Monday I fly to Barcelona.  There was a time when a trip like this - along with the excitement of going somewhere new - would bring with it a slow and steady fear.  It would creep in from about a week before the event and build to a crescendo of a full blown panic attack when I had to get on the plane.

Yep I was deathly afraid of flying.  For years my first thought whenever I booked a trip would be yay holiday closely followed by if I get there!  I used to call family members and tell them I love them (not something I'm known to do on the phone) in case it was the last chance I had to speak with them.  I once spent the complete flight crying, set off by the fact that I could see both the front and the back of the plane without moving my head.  I whimpered the whole way there whilst my husband - who was then only my boyfriend, Lord knows why he stuck around! - tried to calm me down and a 3 year old girl watched me with a look like this.

She was basically saying 'the fuck is this chick's problem?!*  with her eyes
It affected my health (physical and mental) and my relationships, and while I'm not going to pretend I love flying I am now much more in control of how I feel.  Here's how I did it.

Education: Knowledge is power! Never was this more true for me than when I started reading about how a plane works, the engineering and physics of the whole thing. Anything to pull on when the noises started. 

Preparation: Packing early, lists, whatever you can do to not be in a flap helps when you know a flight is coming. Also if you have the means I highly recommend spending the night before at the airport. Relaxing with a glass of wine whilst watching all the planes taking off and not exploding was immensely comforting.

Drinking: Obviously this one is personal and not advice per se. I found a glass of wine or champagne before the flight helped get me in the mood for the holiday and focus on the fun that would be had after the flight (just the one mind!). That said I wouldn't have a coffee or caffeinated drink, the jitters would just compound any nerves I felt. 

Meditation: This one has been bloody amazing! Before I fly I download a bunch of podcast meditations to listen to as I take off and if there is any turbulence.  Concentrating on these instead of every little creak of the plane has done wonders for controlling my mindset.

Perspective: The thoughts I had of hurtling to the ground in a fiery ball of metal and screaming humans still come up on occasion but I've learnt not to pull on that particular thread.  I treat these thoughts like clouds in a summer sky, watch them in my minds eye as they float away and then turn my attention to anything else that might make its way into my brain.  The meditation has most definitely helped me learn this trick.

Positivity: Finally - and this is where this post comes in - I think about how far I've come.  How small city breaks aren't book-ended with panic and high blood pressure as they once were.  I wont pretend I don't still get nervous if there is any turbulence or unusual air activity but I know I get a little better every time I get on a plane.  And I know that without them I'd never have seen Budapest, never have got to Canada for my honeymoon, never discovered my love of ski-ing, and wouldn't be planning a blog post next week on the wonders of Barcelona.  So a little self congratulations is most definitely in order.

Have you managed to master any personal fears? 

How did you do it?

* Not this actual kid, this is a kid from Gify

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