Tuesday, 23 August 2011

the best weekend

Last weekend still lingers in my memory because of its absolute and utter loveliness. There was a camping trip with our lovely crescent friends and neighbours who are really the living personification of everything a good neighbour should be. There were starry skies that did not begin or end, so many stars that I almost believed the old adage about there being more stars in the sky than grains of sand on every beach in this world. It was genuinely breathtaking. And also included were roasted marshmallows, Barca's homemade apple pie and homebaked bread (truly delicious!), wonderful company, a trip to Wilton House (which I will write about soon. Go! Please go! It is also breathtaking and idyllic in every sense.) There were spiders too and a chicken named Campo who followed everybody around, whom I fed aforementioned apple pie and who made Ciara and Helena shriek when he lurched towards them which was quite hysterical. And there were lots of other lovely and camping-appropriate things which should be mentioned but I really do not have the time! The other amazing thing, beyond words really, was meeting our long lost Canadian cousins, their parents (dance teachers) and three members of their dance troupe too. It is an awfully long story; suffice to say, in my twenty years, I have never met them despite having visited Canada but they are here with the dancing school (how very Ballet Shoes!) on a field trip and we hosted a little tea party and got to meet all four of them and everyone else too. They were so sweet, hilarious and absolutely exquisite dancers. It makes me so inspired to see young people dedicate their lives to an art form in such a way. I can't really put into words how wonderful it was, so here is a picture (or several.) I really must sleep now, as I am going to Germany tomorrow with my mother for a student house hunting adventure (wish me luck!), but camping pictures will follow and more stories too. Sorry for rambling.


It really was one of the most beautiful weekends in existence.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Those lazy hazy crazy days of summer...

pears in our garden

tea for two

The first of autumnal fruits, blackberry picking with two of the most wonderful girls I know, the advent of Brown-eyed Susan lookalikes in our back garden, morning tea with my mother (I will miss this, dearly), packed lunches and trips to our park to play badminton and rounders with the neighbours. The silly season is upon us...it's just nice.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

I miss you, beach

A simple nine-word sentence in the novel I am reading ('they jumped off the dock into the blue waters') has invoked in me an awful and unrivalled longing for the sea, which I miss with every fibre of my being. It is an itching in my bones and a yearning in my heart. Every year, upon our arrival back home, I forget about my love for the ocean for approximately two weeks. My sea swimming, ocean diving, crab catching, sandy sandwich eating quota has been fulfilled and I can continue with my ordinary urban existence. Then I remember. This is not meant to sound downbeat; I feel extraordinarily lucky to have found a place - the sea, anywhere, as long as the water is blue in the sunlight - at such a young age where I feel utterly contented and I am so happy I have been able to spend so much of my summer at the beach this year. My city burns and I am very grateful that our street, the neighbourhood, remains as yet unharmed (and I grieve for those who have lost their livelihoods and the places they love, it is awful and despicable and dreadfully sad; I am not really sure what to think, except that it is clear something innate is dreadfully wrong with our society for young people to resort to violence) so it seems silly for me to be rambling on about my love for the sandy sea shore. But sometimes, in the wake of terrible events, all you can do is remember the places you love most in an attempt to rekindle what has been lost.

The absolutely wonderful thing is that, weather permitting, I'm driving to the beach with my best friends this Friday! I can hardly wait! Also, sending my best and most fervent good wishes to all those affected by the riots here in the city and elsewhere.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

deutsch dreaming

Everything is beginning to come together. Letters from the Bavarian schools minister (for me! for me!) drop onto our doorstep and clutter my inbox.  I know the names of the two high schools I will work in, and the exact distance in kilometres (oh yes, I am becoming a true European already!) between the two. I hope to live somewhere in between, with other young people, near the Danube. I have looked forward to this for so long. In my first year I would lie in bed and look at my ceiling punctuated with plastic stars and think how exciting it was that, in not too long, I would be stargazing in another country. 'I'm excited already!' I would exclaim to those who enquired about mein Jahr ins Ausland.  In second year this bordering-on-lunacy excitement was replaced with the mundane, everyday bureaucracy of actually upping and moving to another country; deciding where and when and how and what exactly it was you planned to spend twelve months doing. Then the references and the endless forms on crisp white paper, the mad dash to the only photobooth in the vicinity to procure a passport photograph for our applications, the weekly meetings in dusty offices in the Victorian villa I love. But now, the to-do list shrinks daily, things fall into place, and the excitement is returning to me. The thought of walking through the narrow streets of the city in the snow, of bicycling to school, of partaking in the quintessentially German tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen as often as possible (and using this as a bribe to make old friends visit me), of swimming in the lake, of visiting the places I used to as a child, of wandering through Galeria Kaufhof for hours, of making new German-speaking friends and of submerging myself fully in another culture I adore....it makes me happy just to think about. Ich freue mich darauf.

P.s. For those out of the loop, I am spending my mandatory year abroad in a Bavarian city teaching English to high schoolers. Juhu!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

beach visitors

beach babes

beach life

I am so happy! We all are! My grandad dances round the aisles of Waitrose in Dorchester with utter joy. Our days are filled with swimming, catching crabs (and throwing them back again, of course) and spending ten plus hours at the beach. From sunrise to sunset all that fills our thoughts is reading and swimming and sandcastle building and what to eat for lunch.  Some days it is quiet and peaceful at the beach, our visitors have left and the clouds arrive. Though I adore that too, these pictures of raucous days with as many people as possible crammed into our little beach hut make me happier than anything. I love my family beyond imaginings!

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Beach!!!

how I miss this place
The Isle of Purbeck

So our duffel bags are packed, my suitcase of books is bursting at the seams and ready for some last minute early morning revisions, and tomorrow we shall be on our way to the beach for two weeks of swimming, book reading, ice cream and happy family time. I cannot wait to swim in the icy cold sea, gain a few more freckles, spend time with my grandparents, have spontaneous dance parties with my sister, write dozens of postcards and go crabbing with my cousin on the pier. I have been visiting the beach every summer with our grandparents since  I don't really remember how old. I just know that for as long as I can remember the end of July has always been reserved for wonderful beach times with my grandparents, for re-connecting and revitalising, for reading countless books and spending as many hours as possible in the ocean (my favourite. place. ever.) I am so grateful to my grandparents for installing this tradition in our family since childhood. Our trip is something I look forward to all year round and it is the memories of our family and friends spilling out from the beach hut onto the sands and into the Solent that I recall on days when winter cold or stressful essays are getting me down. The beach really is my happy place. I am so excited!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

One reason why my friends are the craziest gals I know....

...and why I love them so!


Also for spontaneously breaking into a can-can in public, never saying no to ice cream and shrieking 'Opa!' (the wrong language, but oh well...) at the top of their lungs to ward off Croatian men. I am so lucky to have these girls in my life.

P.S. Can you figure out which words we are trying (and failing?) to spell?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Hotel Belvedere

Hotel Belvedereexploring

Visiting the Hotel Belvedere* was one of the most eye-opening experiences of our trip to Croatia. The hotel was devastated during the 1991 Siege of Dubrovnik and though the basic structure remains intact, the windows are without glass, the swimming pool without water and the building now utterly deserted. I possessed only a vague notion of the conflict that led to its destruction - which I now understand was called the Croatian War of Independence - before visiting yet the experience was far more informative than a museum. The war museum we visited presented only propaganda and anti-Yugoslav language; the bombed out hotel, however, was haunting and sincere in the truths it portrayed. Wandering through the vast concrete hollow and navigating the crumbling spiral staircases, the futility of violence seemed more apparent than ever.

Hotel Belvedere amphitheatre

The shattered teacups littering the floor, the hotel notelets trodden underfoot and the shards of glass on every surface conveyed the horrors of war in a way I have never experienced before. What shook me so much was how calm the place was, eerie in its silence, only the gentle lapping of the Adriatic against the shore in the distance. I could hardly imagine how anyone could bear to attack such a beautiful place - and in my lifetime too. I often forget, cocooned in tranquil England, the world's more recent violent history. It seems somehow appropriate that the building has been left untouched, an unadorned and honest tribute to the country's tragic past.

discarded hotel notecards

*The Hotel Belvedere was one of Dubrovnik's most exclusive hotels, popular with film stars and the affluent, and enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s. It sits just outside of the city, its fifteen storeys cascading down the cliff and looking west to the Old Town. The hotel suffered severe damage during a 1991 naval bombing and has been abandoned ever since.

Monday, 11 July 2011


Today I love

more roses

- spending time with my mother
- the summer heat
- my new dress, so blue it reminds me of the ocean
- strawberries with chocolate ice-cream
- our friendly street
- evening bicycle rides
- the flowers blooming throughout the neighbourhood
- silly videos made by my best friends
- having a book in one's bag for a long tube journey
- our darling cats
- last minute beach shopping
- being at home with my family

I am so grateful for the plentiful small but beautiful things in my life which make me so happy. It's the little things.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Our very own sisterhood.


The sisterhood, Dubrovnik's old harbour, 'C-A-S-T-L-E', dinner by the sea, shuttered windows and a best friend, sitting on the dock of the bay.

This past week felt as if I were living in my very own Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants fantasy....six best friends, one Adriatic city, numerous occasions where we jumped into the ocean from a clifftop. Okay, okay - so we lack a magical pair of pants which fit all of us perfectly, but we more than make up for that with our friendship, endless giggling, shamelessness, our closeness which brings us together even when we are apart. We spent the week in Dubrovnik, occasionally venturing by boat to several islands which sit like a necklace on the Croatian coastline. We ate life-threatening quantities of ice cream, enamoured many a Croatian waiter, danced down the Stradun in the dark, explored an abandoned hotel, tried to spell out various words in photographs with little success and went about our way without a care in the world. Everything was magical in its own way: the laughter, the fact we lost all sense of time and the crystal clear azure of the sea. Really, who needs a pair of pants? 

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

sutra je nada

Tomorrow I will be here, with five of my very best friends, hopefully swimming in the crystal clear sea and sampling Croatia's delights. I'm so excited!

See you soon!

Saturday, 25 June 2011


Today was a wonderful day.
My mother and I went swimming in the early morning.
Then we ate eggs on toast and omelette in a neighbourhood cafe (I felt like I was in Gilmore Girls!)
We walked 'round town, visited thrift stores and bought vintage shoes and a straw tote.
I drove to my grandparents' house with my dad, admired my grandad's garden and sat in the kitchen talking with my grandma and felt glad that some things never change.
I watched lots of ER re-runs and didn't feel a bit guilty for not being productive.
I finished unpacking the boxes and boxes in my room and contemplated lots of important things in the process.
I read the weekend newspapers with the company of our darling cats.
I lay on the grass in the dying sunlight and felt happy as I've ever been.

newly thrifted shoes

magical light

SLR summer pictures 194

It was a perfect Saturday, a perfect first day home, with little time to be homesick for my house in Bristol to which I have now bid farewell (though I miss my friends and bicycle dearly.)

Monday, 20 June 2011


best weekend ever.


my happy face


alice and I sleeping

This past weekend involved stargazing, three barbecues, taking silly pictures and endless laughter, baking ridiculously decadent desserts (including two batches of white chocolate and raspberry cake!) - and lying on the ground in my best friend's pebbled garden with my very closest, most beloved friends around me, wondering what I did to be so lucky. Board games and the sun so strong I could almost feel freckles forming on my nose, walking past abandoned churches in the dark, and feeling utterly at peace. A weekend I shall undoubtedly remember and feel nostalgic for, a little weepy even. I am so thankful to have such kind, accepting, endlessly funny friends - the sort everyone wishes for - and I am beyond grateful to have six who live just a few streets away.

all images c/o sophia.
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