Friday, 7 February 2014

Braving the Underground


Oh don't you worry about that sound, it was just me face- planting the floor on the District Line. This is the London Underground, probably the best and worst thing about the capital. Rude people - correction - infuriating people, Barbados conditions and cramped carriages. In fact, I would go as far as saying that the District Line should be rebranded as a horse and cart. It goes around 5mph and feels like an apocalyptic earthquake is sweeping the streets of London. I digress - here is my guide of what to expect when you step on the joys of our London tubes.

Awkward Eye Contact

Don't make eye contact with any fellow tube commuter for a duration longer than 2 seconds. No I am not staring at you, nor do I fancy you and I definitely am not up for staring lovingly into your eyes. I am, in fact, squashed against a glass window and you happen to be in my direct line of sight. Sorry to disappoint.

Invasion of Personal Space

I don't even know your name, we've only known each other 35 seconds and are practically chest to chest. Do expect squashed conditions and to be body pressing against a random bloke (or woman). Don't get too excited as it's definitely not as sexy as it sounds - especially when someone has their moist soggy armpit in your face. I do feel like shouting, 'let's slow down, were moving too fast' as someone decides that they would quite like to squash up to me like a magnet.

Frustrated Platform Commuters

The carriage is literally packed and you are sardined between two grumpy 7am commuters. The train stops at the next station and an irritable bloke outside shouts, 'move down the carriage, there is plenty of space.' What do we do being typically British? Absolutely nothing of course.


When I am not working 9-5, my other part-time job is being a leaning post - said no one. Yet, I am astonished how many underground commuters mistake me for a shiny, metal inanimate object.

Getting Close and Personal with the Floor

It's also blatantly not a tube journey unless you face-plant the floor, while dragging the stranger down at the side of you to save yourself. Just me? Ok, we'll move on...

Leaners Revisited

I am not sure who I have it in for the most; people who lean on you or people lean on the entire central pole. The rest of the poor travellers are left like Bambi on ice with nothing to hold on to. Sometimes, I feel like slapping them but then remember that it's illegal and I'm also not brave enough.

Don't Lean on the Closing Doors

In theory, I can see both sides of this. In commuters defence, we can't move to even scratch our nose while the driver can do a few cheeky star jumps in his mini cabin and not be wedged against the doors. On the flip side, after three attempts of trying to close them, people should really think about MINDING THE FLIPPING DOORS.

So there you go! Now you know what to expect and while I really haven't done well in selling the London Underground to you, it's worth mentioning that it is the most efficient way of getting around the capital. It's also kind of nice to see that others share your Monday morning misery, after work couch potato state and weekend antics. Maybe I wouldn't have it any other way. Maybe. 

Sunday, 26 January 2014


The Beauty of Venice

Stepping from the water-taxi onto the cobbled road in Venice, I knew I never wanted to go home. You may assume that’s premature considering I only walked off the plane shortly before. So before I get started on the rich beauty of the city, here’s a beautiful photograph of one of the first things I saw opening my eyes in Venezia.

So, we spent 2 days in Alilaguna and were determined to see every inch of Venice. After doing plenty of research we headed into the astounding architecture that illuminates the Italian city. Shabby-chic buildings that appeared dream-like, painted in classy colours with snow white wooden windows. They almost look like they’ve been intentionally painted to look old and quaint – but that isn’t the case. The architecture is like nothing you have ever seen in the UK. The intricate detailing on the stone makes you ponder over how long it took someone to create such masterpieces. Venturing down to San Marco Square, you will gasp at the beauty and feel like you’ve just walked into Ancient Rome. When you see pictures of Venice in magazines you probably think ‘wow.’ Times that by ten and put a cherry on top. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s like Disney Land for grown-ups.

Firstly, you should probably know that when you venture into the alley ways and backstreets of Venice it is literally like a maze. One street leads to another, which leads to another and another. So it’s handy to carry a map or have access to Google Maps – unless you like the whole mystery of getting lost in Venice. That’s what I thought and before I knew it, I was at the opposite side of the Grand Canal!

While we’re on the topic of the Grand Canal, it is something you must go see for the view alone. The sun glistens in the powder blue water that swishes around the pastel painted houses. You can see for miles out at the gorgeous city and every sparkly city light. It kind of makes you feel insignificant – in a good way of course – that there is just a place so beautiful on earth.  

Very cliché but never to be missed; you must take a gondola ride. If you purchase a ride on the day, I believe they are quite pricey so it’s always best to try book in advance. Relaxing to the ebb and flow of the Italian waters is lovely, especially when it feels like a secret tour around the attractive backstreets of Venice. Small tunnels and bridges make the route scenic, although I did rather wonder how they painted their houses lovely spring shades when the ground below is nothing but water and river boats.

There are plenty of quaint and quirky cafes sitting on the waterfront. I would list them, but I don’t recall their names – partially because I had no pen and partly because I was slightly intoxicated... Anyway, we sat outside one cool little cafe with a jug of red wine and two glasses. While the sun glistened off the glasses, I felt at home here. It was like the world elsewhere didn’t exist. This was where I was meant to be. Nothing mattered – even if it was for only 2 days. I would say that on the downside, alcohol is very expensive in Venice. So if you are a big drinker, it’s probably best to save your pennies with one drink costing an average of 6 Euros.
Saint Mark’s Basilica is the most exquisite place and never have my eyes seen interior so delicate, yet simultaneously grand. The towering ceilings and holy drawings stretching across the walls are made up entirely from intricate pieces of mosaic. Tiny flakes of gold cover the place of worship from head to toe. This was a special place where we lit a candle and said a prayer which was a beautiful moment.

Sun down and the first thing you want to do is try Italian pizza, pasta and wine. We headed to several restaurants over our time there. You have to venture into the backstreet's to find quaint and cosy places to eat. I would say that even though the food was amazing and definitely better than the UK’s attempt at Italian dishes, the wine was the highlight. Every place we drank or ate, whether it be a bar or restaurant, offered the best red wines. So if anything, ensure you take a thorough look through the drinks menu and be adventurous with the grape you try.

Bars don’t tend to exist in Venice and are more like cafe bars. This means that most places shut before midnight so try to venture out early. The best drink – apart from the red wine – I have found that the Italians create to perfection is the champagne spritz. If you don’t try this then make sure that you try their lemoncello which is difficult to get your hands on in the UK. 

Venice is for dreamers. It's for those who want to get lost in every inch of the magic and its historical nature. There is so much to do and see that we couldn't manage to squeeze everything into two days. It costs around 15 Euros to get from the airport to Alilaguna. You have to take a water bus which are quite regular and takes around a hour to arrive in the city. My advice would be to save up your pennies as Venice is quite expensive for food and drink. You should also invest in comfy shoes because - believe me - you will walk forever. Visiting in November time was quite nippy and windy to say the least. In the summer, Venezia would be ideal for couples or explorers who want to see some beautiful landmarks and venture into a city like none you have ever been before. There is so much history there that you will definitely get back on the plane home with a big smile on your face. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


Not to be a Debbie Downer, but 2013 has lived right up to its unlucky reputation. Setbacks, failures and loss. In fact, I haven't spoke to many who disagree. It's not that I am all superstitious about unlucky 13, but they say bad things come in three's. That's a lie - more like dozens!

Anyway, it would be easy for me to say that 2014 will be different and that it will somehow be a fresh start. It won't be but it does give us the opportunity to reflect on things that we CAN change. This year I lost one of the most important ladies in my life - my Nanan. I can't change that and eventually had to accept it. I moved from my childhood house in Barnsley, to Sheffield and then to London. Whirlwind is, therefore, an understatement which is a reason I haven't blogged as much as 
I should have.

Obviously, it would be easy to sit here and rant about poor me. In reality, I have been fortunate enough to have some incredible experiences this year. I had an amazing girls holiday in Ibiza, watching the sunset every night and soaking up the sun. I also managed to tick off one of my bucket list ambitions and attended Creamfields festival. Seeing the likes of Avicii, David Guetta, Alesso and Sebastian Ingrosso was a surreal experience.

This year I have gone from working in a cake factory to working for the UKBA and then for a major Government procurement programme. Even though I haven't had the chance to blink from moving from city to city, I achieved my dream of living in the best city in the world - London. Walking past The Houses of Parliament and the River Thames everyday reminds me of how far I have actually come in a year. Hey, if I can go from cake factory icing packer to Westminster in one year, then what can I do within the next year? I guess we will see.

It's also probably worth mentioning that I am lucky to have had several jobs in today's economic climate and even though I haven't actually reached my goal of a graduate job yet, I hold on to hope and a hard work ethic because that's all I have. It is taking a very long time but I hope that the start to my journalism career is just around the corner. 

If 2013 has showed me anything, it is the importance of family and friends. In the end they are what is constant in our lives and have pulled me through heartbreaking times. The passing of someone you love is incredibly painful - especially when you know they have made you the person you are today.

So here's to a healthy, happy and successful 2014 for all, those who have left us and the ones still with us.