I Am An Immigrant

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If you know me personally or follow me on any social media account, you know a little bit about my life. You can also tell pretty quickly that I am approaching this subject from a very very privileged standpoint – I am white (pasty white), fairly heteronormative, I blend in easily with the way I look and I come from a Catholic upbringing. My parents earn quite a lot of money as well so they can afford to subsidise my journey in higher education as well as my lifestyle.

So let me start off by saying that if, while being this way, I have had these experiences, then imagine someone who doesn’t fit into these guidelines like I do.

I am an immigrant.

I wasn’t born where I live now, nor where I lived before. I left my home country at the age of 20 to pursue my dreams of a career that I had no chance in had I stayed home. Although it was a first for me, I have been travelling since I was a toddler and I find it easy to accept, respect and adapt to cultures different from my own. There is a fine line between sticking to your heritage and becoming the country you choose; I had practise in this, albeit in a small amount.

I moved to Italy. Fairly easy to do, since I am from the European Union and equally Mediterranean. I didn’t speak the language, yet I decided to undertake a three-year degree taught exclusively in Italian, where most of my teachers not only did not speak English but did not understand a word I said. I adapted – I learned the language. I learned the mannerisms and the culture, not so different from mine, but stayed, essentially, myself.

But just from looking at my name, or hearing me stutter in my Italian, I still got the same comments at least once a week, mostly from teachers.

“You’re just a dirty immigrant, coming here to steal our jobs!”

“Do you even know what you’re reading? Do I need to speak slower?”

You people____.”

My english teacher was called in to translate my exams, not because my teachers couldn’t read English (I had seen them read books and share articles) but because they couldn’t give me or my equally foreign colleagues the chance of being considered equal to everyone else. This was a private university aimed for international students and we paid a hefty amount to be there. I felt ostracised and left after four years having made very few friends out of the hundreds of people I met, not because the culture was so different but because I felt permanently left out for not being Italian.

So I moved to the UK. I had plenty of friends here. I’d worked here before one Summer and done plenty of short courses. I knew the people, the language, the culture, much better than I had known Italy.

And then the comments came back. Not as often as before, not aimed at me, but in a much worse form: mass public opinion. I was part of the disease. I was the illness. I was the infected, gaping wound that brought the shadow of death to this once great country. I was to blame for all the bad things that were happening – according to the majority who voted for Brexit and most media outlets. No matter how many people I meet who are kind and accepting to me, I still feel like I am being pushed out of a country where, in my childhood, I felt so at home. The culture was fine. The people were fine. It was the widespread mentality, supported by the government and news channels, that told me I wasn’t welcome. And no bright smile from your barista at Costa can change that.

The reputation of the Portuguese in the U.K. isn’t a good one. Like in France, there are many of us here as we flocked here decades ago. We are known as construction workers, hotel and condominium porters, cleaning ladies. We are satirised as fat, short, loud, kind but stupid, with rudimentary knowledge of the English language, who will never be good enough to do anything beyond the roles we were assigned to – serving others, cleaning up after them, bowing and smiling. With all respect to these people – the utmost respect, as they sacrificed more as individuals in order to make a living than I ever could have – this is not what I want to do.

I don’t claim benefits. I bleed money into my rent and my University tuition. I pay my bills, I pay for my medicine, I pay for my groceries and household supplies. I ask for nothing of this country than for them to let me stay here, literally. Like an AirBnB flat, but long term. Yet I am side-eyed, asked when I am leaving; I am a “dirty immigrant”. I find myself more and more having to pretend I am English, having to blend in even more than before just so I can go about my life peacefully, something I had always thought my whiteness, if anything else, protected me from completely. I am treated constantly as if I moved here on a whim, as if I am just here having fun, laughing my way through life.

Let me tell you something.

I moved out of my home. I made a conscious, reflected decision to leave my home country. And if you think that is an easy thing to do, for anyone, including refugees in war-torn countries, then you have another thing coming. No matter how problematic your home is, how unhappy it makes you, it is still your home. I  – we – left everything behind.

We left our family, our friends, our favourite restaurant, the grocery shop man who asks us about our grandmother. We left our entire known universes behind. We threw ourselves into the unknown because we had to, because the other option was too hard to bear. We chose the lesser of two evils. Do you think that is easy?

We came looking for something better, because we had no other choice. Do you think we aspire to be, dream of being, cleaning staff or construction workers? We are people. We have dreams. But sometimes our dreams have to fall by the wayside because we need to eat. Our families need to eat. We need to put a roof over our heads. It is not the free movement of people in the European Union that fuels this so-called “whimsy” of relocating. It is need, it is necessity, it is survival. And it has been happening so much longer than the European Union has been around.

I came here, just as I went to Italy, to follow my dreams. To pursue a career path that did not exist back home. To study a field that was not available to me in any University in my home country. I packed my bags. I said goodbye to everything I had always known. I learned one language and perfected another. I embraced the difficulty that I had brought upon myself hoping that, one day, through blood, sweat and tears, the struggle would pay off.

I am not exotic and I am not Spanish.

I am not the stain, the illness, the disease that plagues your country.

I am the underpaid, discriminated, head-bowing workforce that drives your industries.

I am the highly-educated, eloquent, progress-driven workforce that drives your academia; your hospitals; your scientific endeavours.

I am you, all of you, wherever you are, whoever you are. Because I am a part of your country, just as I am a part of my own.

I am a survivor, and I can and will take whatever you throw at me, so much better and with so much more grace than you could ever aspire to. Because I have taken this burden upon myself. I have left my universe, my entire life behind to be happy, because that is what I needed to do.

I am an immigrant.

dirty immigrant.

And when I leave, you die.

The Lazy Food Edit #1

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Food

I never thought I’d ever be writing about food, but y’all asked for this, so y’all are going to get it.

A little bit of backstory

Skip through this to the terrible phone pictures if you just want the recipes.

Though I enjoy going out to eat, trying new restaurants where I live and local cuisine whenever I travel, I’m not very picky with my food and I can’t see the minute differences between something amazingly well cooked and a decent meal – the only thing I’m sensitive about is how raw my meat is (spoiler alert: I like it bloody) and how spicy something is. Other than that, well, I eat pretty much anything and don’t really have cravings beyond chocolate.

As I’ve discussed before, though, I gained weight with the worst period of my depression. A lot of weight, weight that had been very very hard to lose considering I am genetically very prone to weight gain (how many times can a girl write ‘weight’) and it is hard for my whole family to lose a single gram. Since I don’t like spending money on food, more often than not I ate whatever was cheapest, and at the core I am very lazy, so this usually translated into ready meals that I thought were healthy.

In January I started a new food plan. Firstly, to lose weight (which I haven’t yet, but I’m sure you all would, you lucky bastards), but mostly to feel healthier. Now, feeling healthy is a tricky subject but in my case it meant improving my digestion, my energy levels and my skin and hair. My body reacts really intensely to ‘bad’ food – my hair falls out, I get acne, I stop going to the bathroom, I get extremely bloated, so on so forth.

But eating healthy, in theory, takes a lot of effort and time, things I have but not necessarily enjoy throwing out the window. I would never, say, spend a lot of time cooking a meal that in the end would be bad for me. So what could a lazy girl do to eat healthy?

Know your staples

First of all, I have a small fridge, which means I have to watch what I buy. I try to stick to basic ingredients that I can prepare not only very quickly, but eat in different ways and make new combinations. What I usually have at home is chicken breast fillets, apples, eggs, avocado, tomatoes, bags of ready-mixed salad, sliced brown bread, low-fat yogurts (soy, in my case), lemonspre-chopped red onions and a lot of condiments. I could go on and on about how I have an entire cabinet for condiments, but my stables are usually feta cheese, grated parmesan, extra virgin olive oil, lemons, white truffle oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, powdered garlic and then a wide array of herbs. The ones I use the most would be mint, parsley, chives and oregano. 

These are all things I always have in my fridge so I don’t have to plan my meals in advance and shop accordingly. If I’m feeling too lazy to leave the house I can whip something up quickly.

Quick Meal Guide #1

And here is this month’s list of very quick delicious things I made at home, with no pre-planned grocery shopping, just throwing things in and hoping they would work. The best for the couch potato in all of us, really.

I’m very very sorry for the quality of these photos. I never planned on doing this, so I took them with my phone in terrible lighting just to send them to my parents. Because they never cook for themselves when I’m not there and I like to make them jealous (and give them ideas). If people like this, I’ll do my best to take better pictures next time!

The Everyday Brunch

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The most basic yet delicious fresh chunky spread to leave you energised. And all it takes is smashing things together. I made this at a friend’s house, so you don’t even need to be in your own kitchen. All you need is a knife and a bowl, and something to toast your bread.

  • 1 slice of wholemeal bread – You can use any bread, honestly, but my body doesn’t digest refined carbohydrates very well. The browner it is, the less bloated I get, but I still wouldn’t have it after, say, 4pm. I don’t have a toaster so I put my bread on the frying pan.
  • 1/2 or 1 small (Hass) avocado – Depending on how much you want to make, honestly. Just scoop it out of the skin with a spoon and mash it with a potato masher, or cut it up into tiny bits.
  • Feta cheese, to taste – I like to crumble it with my hands or mash it together with the avocado to avoid large chunks. Feta is creamy and salty, so it blends with the smoothness of the avocado and gives it a whole new flavour.
  • Fresh Mint – Because I am too lazy to properly chop my herbs, I gather leaves in a tight bunch and chop at them with scissors into the bowl. Don’t use dry mint – it has zero flavour. This is the real key and makes everything taste amazingly fresh.
  • Red onion, to taste – Chopped as tiny as you can. You want the flavour, not the texture. White onion is too harsh when it’s raw, in my opinion.
  • Optional – A drop of olive oil, to make the mixture soft and mushy.

Toast your bread, mix everything together in a bowl and season to taste. Since the mint is already in there, I usually just sprinkle sea salt (I hate table salt with a passion) and black pepper. Spoon your mix onto the toast and you’re done.

The Indecisive Toast

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For breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack. One slice of bread, cut in half. Yeah, portion control. I find this to be the ultimate lazy snack for the gourmet-inclined. You get a bit of salty, a bit of sweet.

  • Low-fat Philadelphia cream cheese, balsamic glaze and oregano on the first one. Dinner, basically. The balsamic glaze is sweet and acidic enough to balance the cream cheese.
  • Organic peanut butter (no added sugar, 100% peanuts) and a drizzle of agave syrup. The peanut butter isn’t sweet at all, so the agave really brings the flavour out.

The Breakfast Alternative

I actually had this as a replacement for dinner the other day and I felt so full I couldn’t believe how this had happened. So I would stick with a smaller portion, or having this for breakfast.

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  • One apple, cut into thin slices.
  • Ryvita Multigrain Crispbread – The most whole-grain thing I could find. Probably will make you poop a lot. Also extremely filling, now I understand why people snack on this when they’re dieting, holy hell.
  • Organic peanut butter, spread very thinly. Gives dimension to the apple flavour, also helps the slices stick to the toast.
  • Very light drizzle of Agave syrup, or honey if you want to be ˜cheeky˜.

The One Person Taco

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Can be eaten on a plate or with your hands. I went overboard with the tomatoes and I still managed to fold it and eat it like you’re supposed to.

  • One corn tortilla, warmed on a frying pan. Literally just put it on heat, flip it after you feel it lifting at the corners, maybe longer if you want it a bit toasted but I like mine soft enough to fold.
  • Cherry tomatoes, chopped. I cut a handful of them into quarters, but you can use less or make them smaller. It’s all about how much of each flavour you want, really.
  • Half of a small (Hass) avocado
  • Feta cheese, to taste
  • One small chicken breast, grilled on a non-stick frying pan without oil, cut into very small chunks.

Seasoned with olive oil, fresh mint, sea salt and black pepper. See what I mean now about staples?

RMS Indulgence

Could I resist making a joke about potato boats?

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  • 1/2 sweet potato
    • Roasted whole in the oven at 200°C (500°F) for 45min/1h. Once you take it out of the oven let it cool before you slice it in half. Scoop the filling out, leaving just a thin wall of ‘meat’ around the peel. Put the filling in a bowl.
  • 1 small chicken breast fillet, 
    • Roasted in the oven.
    • Seasoned with: lemon juice, powdered garlic, olive oil and parsley.
    • Delicious, 10/10, would eat on its own. I buy my chicken fillets frozen, by the way, because I’m impulsive with my food and can’t commit to buying fresh meat for it to go off in three days.

For the filling:

  • Cherry tomatoes, chopped as small as possible. I only used two since I wanted the mix to fit into the potato.
  • 1/2 a small (Hass) avocado, mashed.
  • Red onion, to taste. I use very very little otherwise it gets overpowering.
  • Sweet potato, scooped out of the ‘boat’ you are using.
  • Fresh mint, to taste.
  • Optional – Feta cheese, to taste. You can leave it out for this one. There’s so much flavour already you don’t necessarily need it, but I find that it helps balance out the sweetness of the potato.
  • Seasoned with: lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and parsley.

The Lazy Gourmet Gratin

Originally imagined to be eaten as a side, turned out a teeny tiny one-person portion was enough to provide me with two whole meals. Seriously, what is cauliflower made of?! I had the first half of this with salad and then the next day I reheated it and had the rest of it alone.

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Preheat your oven to 200°C.

  • 150g of cauliflower florets, chopped. I get mine in a bag, pre-chopped from Waitrose. Two thumbs up for laziness and also the wonder that is the modern supermarket.
  • A pinch of grated parmesan
  • A handful of mozzarella

Spread the cauliflower florets on your roasting pan. I use a very small one since I’m only one person and this is a tiny amount of cauliflower. Drizzle some olive oil on top, salt, pepper and a lot of powdered garlic.

Leave it in the oven for about 25 minutes. I like mine a bit crispy so I find this amount of time works best.

Take it out of the oven and sprinkle the mixture of cheese on top. Squeeze some lemon juice (go wild and free with this, the lemon does wonders) and finish it off with some parsley and chives before putting it back in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese melts. If you’re planning on reheating it the next day, don’t let the cheese get too melted, otherwise when you reheat it it might burn.

Optional: put a teaspoon of honey mustard on your plate and use it as a dipping sauce.

There we go! That is my lazy food edit for January! 

Let me know if you like this idea, if this was useful at all for you, if you are embarking on a similar journey to eat better (not just dieting) or just to start using your stove instead of just your microwave in 2017.

Any comments – on here, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter – would be highly appreciated. I really do enjoy cooking, especially when it takes very little effort and a lot of experimentation, and not being able to eat a lot of carbs or meat (both very quick and easy things to prepare) really forces me to come up with new ideas to fill my stomach.

Lots of love,

I x

Resolutions

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Sony a6000 – Lisbon, Terreiro do Paço

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve. I don’t enjoy getting drunk or loud music – in fact I get told often I am an old lady at heart. And I honestly don’t believe your whole life can change – you can change – just because it’s another day. Dates are a human construction, and our particular Western calendar is very recent, but I won’t go on about this. What I mean to say is, I don’t believe in the ‘new year, fresh start’ philosophy, but I do believe in resolutions. I am a goal-driven person at heart and what are New Year’s resolutions if not life goals with an expiration date?

A lot has happened in 2016. I never thought one year could go so wrong. But I am someone who looks to the future – sometimes too far into it – and I like to live my life day-by-day, one decision at a time. Sometimes I taught myself not that long ago is that most of my anxiety comes from setting impossible goals, either because you cannot achieve them in the amount of time you allotted for them (say, a year) or they are not in your control. I have trained myself recently to make smaller goals, achievable things that may not sound that impressive but make for an amazing end result that can change your life in the long run.

Here are my goals for 2017 (and beyond, but hopefully I’ll get them done in a year):

Lose Weight

This is not a superficial kind of ‘post Christmas hit the gym’ weight. I barely ate during Christmas! I struggled with anxiety and bouts of depression my entire life but this year it became crippling and life-threatening. I tried to and actively wanted to kill myself, and when I wasn’t being self-destructive I was apathetic. For weeks on end I did not leave the house, get out of bed or even shower. I did not even go out for groceries, cook or clean the house. Because of this I ended up gaining a lot of weight since I didn’t move at all and all I ate was delivery food – not because I craved it, but because I genuinely did not care about myself. I ended up gaining 15kg. That is a LOT of weight. I went up two sizes without even noticing or enjoying the food I ate. I am dieting now – in a healthy way, with a proper diet plan – and I’m going to start working out. I want to go back to when I liked what I saw in the mirror (to a degree, at least), if only just to be in a healthier mindset.

Brush up on Languages

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I spoke rudimentary French and Spanish. Granted, I was 12, and then Italian replaced them, but now I feel like I am in a place where I can go back to learning. Languages are useful and they give me pleasure. I feel more useful and more knowledgeable when I can speak to more people and consume media from other countries, especially books and foreign films. This will take a while, but with apps and books I’m sure I’ll get there.

Finish School / Find a Job

Seems basic, actually very hard and scary. I’m still not sure what to do for my dissertation. But because of my mental health I had to put my MA on hold and I feel terrible about still being in University at 25. I need to have this done by the Summer so I can become an Actual Adult by September. This then leads to Part Two of this goal. Any job is a good job as long as it’s in my (very wide and vague) field and I’m sure I will find a decent entry-level position if I persevere.

Be Kind to Myself

This is the hardest of my resolutions and the most important. You can’t get anywhere in life if you don’t treat yourself properly. All my life I have hated on myself, yelled at myself internally for my shortcomings, told myself I was never enough. I can’t even blame my low self-esteem on others because I know very well I do this to myself, I always have. I don’t expect I’ll suddenly have a huge ego and love myself to the moon and back, but the last I can do is try to be half as kind to myself as I am to my friends and family.

Go the U.S.A.

This is more like a treat to myself, a reward more so than an actual goal. I promised myself I would finally go on my two-month cross-country trip if I (scratch that, when I) finish my Masters degree. The plan is to spend one month hopping around and then one month volunteering with children in New York.

Do More

Vague as hell. But very important. I decided to never back away from a challenge or opportunity if I know it can better me or move me forward in some way. Fear should not hold me back, not anymore. I want to travel more, work more, learn more, do as much as I can with the time I was given because we are only on this wonderful planet for so long!

 

These are all of my pretty basic goals for 2017. A bit straightforward and relatively uninteresting but, hey, at least now I have a post on the Internet holding me accountable to my decisions. Do you have anything that you set yourself out to do this year? Tell me about it! I want to know what everyone will be working towards in 2017. You can do anything you set your heart on as long as you never give up.

And remember:

Luck is bullshit. Life is not the hand you are dealt, but what you do with it.

Surviving Depression

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I’ve been away for a long time, I know. But I come at you with a long text post, no pictures and fully intending to be completely honest for the first time. Please bear with me; it was very hard for me to write this – it’s been on my scheduled posts for a few weeks, it was deleted several times because I couldn’t go through with it – and I am finally in the clarity of mind to make it public.

I was lucky to grow up with an extremely supportive family. There is no one in my close or extended circle of relatives that I don’t love. My parents are the people I love the most, they have always gone above and beyond their possibilities to provide me with the very best things in life – education, food and rent, freedom to make my own decisions, trust, loyalty, and an overwhelming amount of love, care and friendship. But being born and raised in a city like Lisbon, where everyone knows each other, if not by face at least by name, there was always a tremendous pressure on me to be perfect; not just from myself – I always pushed myself to excel at everything I do – but also from my family to not discuss or disclose the darker, harder parts of my life. There was so much that I was kindly asked to hide, things most people I know would plaster all over social media, but I was taught from a young age to ‘never air my dirty laundry in public’. And sometimes, in order to be able to send word to all of my friends, I’d have to carefully edit my Facebook privacy settings to exclude members of my family – my mother, my aunt, my cousins, my childhood friends who are the sons of my parents’ friends. I took so much care into editing my life to seem perfect not to the outside world, but to the inside.

Yes, I go to therapy. That enough should tell you so much more than I let out. And that therapy is essential to my wellbeing, and a key reason as to why I even have the peace of mind to write this right now. The decision wasn’t easy – therapy is a long process and not a quick fix; good therapy is expensive; and, most of all, it is admitting that you are not, in fact, perfect. That you struggle. That you are not as in control of everything as you try to make it seem like you are – to both yourself and others.

The thing is, however, that so many people go to therapy. People in my family go to therapy. So many, if not the majority of my friends, go to therapy. That says more about the state of the world and what is required of us in our day to day lives than it says about us, the patients. I pay to have someone listen to me vent for an hour, and I can only tell you it’s money well spent.

Yes, I struggled with depression. I still do. I only started getting better in the last two months. Before then, I can’t even place when it started. Probably in my teens, and it got progressively worse throughout high school, my two year hiatus of University in Lisbon, and it spiralled out of control while I was in Rome. I can tell you exactly when it reached its peak – this year, between April and August. You might say “but I have you on Facebook; you looked so happy in all your photos and I couldn’t tell a thing from your statuses; the same with Instagram, Twitter, etc”. The truth is, what we don’t say is often the clue to who we truly are. If I don’t air any dirty laundry in public, then odds are there is too much of it to even hang up to dry.

I was in a relationship for two and a half years – that part everyone knows. What not many people know is that the last year wasn’t very good. I know better than to disrespect the person that I was with but, plainly put, things just didn’t work out, and I was trying very hard to make them work out for a whole year. I wanted so much to be happy, but at some point we changed and our personalities just didn’t agree with each other. It was harder and harder for me to tolerate certain behaviours, and I was noticing it was becoming harder and harder for him to tolerate the person that I am. The pressure of trying to salvage a relationship with someone who – whether consciously or not, I will never know – constantly made an effort to put me down and belittle me, while miles and miles away in another country, trying to deal with the fact that I was too preoccupied with the difficulty of my studies (finding myself out of my depths in the realm of English academia) to build relationships and make friends… It was too much. I exploded. A better way to put it would be, I broke.

From April to August, I was truly, completely broken. I was trying so hard to control absolutely every aspect of my life, to keep it all within the guidelines and standards that I had set for myself, that I completely lost track of who I was or what I even wanted out of life to begin with. For a long time I didn’t know myself and I thoroughly hated whatever it was that I had become. I was so utterly and completely lost. Even my parents, who so vehemently wanted to deny that something was wrong with me, that I was just stressed, became very concerned. I started struggling physically as well as emotionally. I began to lose sight of any valid reason to stay alive – after all, my life was crumbling before my eyes, and all I felt was that I was wasting my parents’ money in trying to pursue any kind of life at all – and many times I genuinely wanted to die. Not to hurt myself, not as punishment, but to relieve everyone that I loved of the bother that was, essentially, me.

My panic attacks increased in frequency and intensity. More than once I pulled out my own hair. I tried to throw myself in front of buses and cars. I lost count of the amount of times I passed out, lost consciousness during a panic attack, or how many times I cut myself – on the arms, on the legs, anywhere that would not leave a mark, because I did not want anyone to see. I had spiralled for so long and I had finally reached rock bottom. After weeks of calling the mental health emergency response service, taking occasional trips to the ER to beg the doctors to stop me, to give me something, anything, to make it stop, not for me but for my parents. Because I didn’t want to hurt them, I didn’t want my wonderful loving parents to lose their only child. Not because I thought anything of myself, but because I knew, regardless of my self-loathing, that losing me would hurt them more than words can express. I was put on antidepressants, on top of the anxiety medication and sleeping pills that I had been on since 2011. The cocktail of medication numbed the pain, and the panic attacks and bouts of self-harm decreased. At first, I was relieved, but then I realised it wasn’t just the pain that was being numbed – in reality, I stopped feeling pretty much anything at all. Nothing negative, but nothing positive either.

The hardest thing for me, as a person, is admitting failure to my family. I need their approval to survive. So you cannot imagine how heartbreaking it was for me, someone who holds their academic excellence as the only thing truly valid in her existence, to go up to the course leader for my MA and admit that I was having serious problems. That I couldn’t complete my assignments. That I couldn’t do… pretty much anything; I could barely shower or eat. I wouldn’t leave the bed for weeks. It was when my course leader asked me to ignore school, ignore the assignments, and tell her whether I was okay or not – that is when I realised I needed help. I don’t like asking for help; I avoid it at all costs. I was given so much on a silver platter my whole life that asking for anything ever feels like taking advantage, being greedy and ungrateful for the things and opportunities I was given. But I needed help. I needed to save myself before anything truly serious happened – and I was edging, ever so closely, to that point.

I started going to therapy.

In August, I ended my relationship, which I now realise was causing me most of my pain and distress.

I quit my horrible part-time job, which I didn’t like or need and took simply to prove to myself that I could do something other than study.

I managed to slowly stop taking my medication – because something inside me told me that I was ready, that whatever came up now I could deal with it without needing the numbness – and it’s been months since I last took anything that wasn’t a herbal supplement.

These past few weeks, for the first time, I have felt truly, completely happy for the first time in my twenty-five years of life. And this is not an understatement.

My parents called me the other day, saying they were proud of me, because they had never seen me so happy, so driven, so independent, so in control – just when I have stopped trying to control everything.

I tried being social for the first time since Easter, I went for drinks with the Brighton Girl group and Pippa, the lovely human that she is, pulled me aside to tell me how much she appreciates me and how proud she was of me for managing to sit there and have a laugh with a bunch of people. I stared at her and tried incredibly hard not to cry.

My mother was over for a week and we had so much fun, and I was so happy. I went on vacation with my parents in August and I felt so free and energetic, more than I had ever felt.

My friend Nell came over to stay with me for four days. I can honestly say that was probably one of the best weeks of my life. Every second I was around her was pure, unadulterated joy, and she is such a light in my life, I don’t know how I lived without talking to her for so long. Tiffany visited me for a week in August right after my breakup and she was so sweet, so patient, she introduced me to many things that have helped me stay happy, and we have grown so much closer since then. Tony came to see me in Brighton and brought me the most amazing birthday gift. All the friends who message me and tweet me every day – Diana and Alycia, you are particularly special – you make a much bigger difference than you might think.

Recently, I found myself chatting to strangers in coffee shops. It was amazing. I felt I was finally coming out of my shell. I felt interesting, like I had actual things to say that weren’t small talk – discussing films, music, photography – and it was so fulfilling to see that these people actually actively wanted to keep a conversation with me.

So what does all of this ramble amount to?

Well, consider this my coming out story. I am admitting, openly, that I went through a lot. That I struggled. That I am flawed. That I am not, nor ever was I, in control. I suffered – a lot – and pushed myself very close to the ultimate edge. I was there, standing, looking at the void, more than once. And you know what? I’m not ashamed to admit it. I am proud that I went through all of that. I am proud of myself because I survived, because I powered through, I fought this darkness that for a long time took such a complete hold of me that I had all but given up on breathing. But I fought it, so very hard, and I like to believe that I won.

I am so incredibly blessed, and I realise this now. I have the most amazing family, I certainly have the best friends anyone could ever ask for and, if I may say so myself, I realise now (25 years later) that I might not be as much of a waste of air as I told myself I was. After all, if I really was the person that I convinced myself to be, would these amazing, kind, dedicated people still be in my life? Probably not. Thank you to everyone in my life. You do not know, and you will never truly realise, how much I appreciate you being along for the ride.

This all to say, we need to talk about feelings. More often. Openly, without shame. Because being flawed, having problems, not being in control of your life isn’t something to be looked down on; it’s what makes you stronger. Your pain doesn’t make you inferior. If your story is anything like mine, it’s your pain that makes you better.

I am in a better place now that I ever was, and I had to hit my darkest, be at my lowest, to fully rid myself of what was toxic in my life – both internal and external to me – and claw my way back up to the surface. I feel much different now than how I felt months ago. Back then, I was cowering in the bottom of a very dark well; right now I feel like I am standing on top of a very tall mountain.

On Being (Fully) Human

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Philippines, 2014

When I published on this blog a small thoughtful text on turning 25, I wasn’t expecting the response I received. For the first time since I started my little corner on the web, people other than my mother shared links to the post on Facebook. Friends and acquaintances that I hadn’t talked to in ages messaged me saying what I had written had spoken to them, that they had related to my words, someone even told me I’d inspired them. And it made me realise something very important, the main reason why we don’t seem to even understand what’s going on deep down in our minds before we see it written down by someone else.

I am, and always have been, the kind of girl who will trip over herself because she suddenly looked over her shoulder and realised how beautiful the afternoon light is when it touches the outlines of the clouds. I’m the girl who will try to make seagulls or foxes come to her knowing very well they’re going to run miles in the opposite direction unless she’s holding a very fragrant leg of ham. The girl who is late because she stopped to pet all the dogs, smell all the flowers, the girl who lays down on the grass in the freezing Winter, stares at the stars and thinks about how small she is in such a big, wonderful universe.

In short, I’m the girl who gets lost.

What the response from that post made me realise – and, again, I got sidetracked, so back to the point – is that we don’t get lost anymore. Not enough. In our everyday lives we run from point A to point B because we have exactly two minutes to grab that coffee, get to that meeting, make sure our clothes aren’t wrinkled. We have to get on that bus, we have to eat our salad without sauce because of the calories, we have to hit the gym, get good grades on that exam. We have to, we have to.

And of course we do. I’m not going to write one of those (pardon my french) bullshit articles on how you can leave everything behind for a life travelling the world with a backpack, because I’m not keen on cleaning cruise ship toilets just so I can get a place to stay in Norway for three days. But there are things we can do, as human beings, that we’ve stopped doing so long ago as a species – the City Human, or Metroman, as I call it, usually found in high-speed stressful urban hubs – and it’s making us lose something very fundamental to our humanity, which is our ability to be in wonder.

We have to survive. We have to eat, drink, sleep, study, work. Anyone who tells you otherwise will probably not live very long. But when you’re running from one meeting to the other, when you’re hustling for job interviews, it’s okay to stop for a minute. We dive headfirst into fiction in our free time to distance ourselves from a daily life we no longer take pleasure in.

And it makes me very, very sad.

One of the (only) things I am most (/remotely) proud of in myself is my ability to stop, stare and just be in wonder of the world around me. You don’t have to be in the bucolic countryside, or the poetic seafront. You can take in the beauty of architecture, of something as basic as a sunset against a city skyline, a full moon. You have to take back what nature gave you, the unique ability to fall in love with life. The fast-paced lives we all assume as a requirement of survival don’t have to be undertaken in tunnel vision.

It doesn’t solve any problems. It won’t get you a job. It won’t put food on your table, it won’t make your boss or teacher less mad at you for being late. But it will make everything move a little slower. It will put all those enormous, looming and threatening everyday problems into perspective. It will make you feel thankful for being alive, at least for the few seconds you take to stop and think: “Wow, this tea tastes really nice. It feels so warm. I can feel the sun on my neck. It’s so comforting.”

So next time you’re running to get the tube to work, or home, or the doctor’s, or stuck in traffic, just stop. Stare. Listen. Breathe in. Find one, just one, good thing in your surroundings. And like an old man finding water in the desert, take it in, properly and slowly. To your inner self, it’ll feel like a lifetime of catching up, a long conversation with an old friend – in the physical world, all it takes is a minute.

When you’ve managed that, congratulations – you’re human again. And you’re ready to take on the world, one sunset at a time.

I can only hope you never fall out of love with life ever again.

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Caterina, photo by me

25

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Photo by Caterina Petrucci

If fifteen years ago someone had asked my ten-year-old self where I’d like to be by 25, the answer would be completely different to my current reality. As I grow older, with as much grace as I can muster, I realise more and more how the plans we make for ourselves are just blurry guidelines for an ideal future.

I don’t mean to say that things are out of our control and it’s impossible to get what we want – what I mean is something completely different; quite often our dreams and goals and ambitions change, and the dreams and goals we fight for are miles away from what we imagined ourselves doing when we were in fifth grade and liked drawing.

For all of you out there, it’s 100% possible to fight hard for your dreams and get to where you want to be in life. But the key to this is to not beat yourself up for not getting there fast enough, and never doubt yourself if you find that you’re wanting something different than what you planned out. Life is a journey, and journeys have different pathways. You may believe one single way to be the right one, but once you dip your toes into a little street that veers slightly off to the side, you find yourself more drawn to that end goal than the one you originally pursued. You’re not betraying yourself by changing your goals – and that is something I had to come to terms with more than once these past few years.

Yesterday, I turned 25.

Which doesn’t change much – I still look 18 without makeup on, and I still get asked for I.D. every time I try to buy cheap 4% alcohol fruit cider at Aldi. But when I woke up all I could feel was disappointment – I didn’t have an Amazing Career (TM) or a Great Relationship. Instead I spent the morning moping about being single and unemployed and it was only later in the day, meeting up with friends I love who have always cared for me in the brightest and darkest of times, that I realised I’m actually so much farther ahead than I thought I was, and that I’ve done so much more with my 25 years of life than a lot of people I know.

So here are a few things that I am proud of in my life and that I have learned about myself.

 

  1. Even though they are all quite far (from London to Lisbon) I am proud of myself for being able to effortlessly keep my best and oldest friendships. I have been best friends with Mariana (above) for 21 years now – we met in kindergarten – and we are still the same as we were when we first met: utterly inseparable. I met Miltos (also above) four years ago through Twitter and through various arguments and rocky patches we are still amazingly close and he is always there for me when I am going through a rough patch. I have known Tony since 2011, I call him my brother and there is never a time when he doesn’t try to make me think that I am better than my opinion of myself. And by now everyone knows about Diana and Alycia who are there for me literally every day, make me feel like I am the most special human on Earth and take care of me like only older sisters would.
  2. I have travelled the world thanks to the parents I was blessed with and I have the clarity of mind and actual interest of delving as deeply as possible into the culture of any place I visit. This has allowed me to be more tolerant and have a much wider and more aware interpretation of the world around me.
  3. I am always trying to learn and I don’t think I will ever stop. Something that my parents have instilled in me is the idea that one is never perfect and that we should never rest on our laurels. I like working hard. I like learning. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good as I want to be and that’s exactly the point – to keep evolving. And I am proud of myself for never thinking “Okay, that’s enough, I guess I’ll stop now”.
  4. I get over heartbreak easily. Maybe because of pride, because somewhere deep inside I know that I deserve better than being treated a certain way, or because I know that I don’t need someone to be complete. I am more complete and fulfilled now than I was months ago. I know where I’m going, for now, and that’s heaps better than attaching my hopes and dreams to someone else.
  5. I am stronger than I think. I have faced adversity, though not severe, too many times to count. I used to panic when faced with big problems and nearly shut down but now I have a very unemotional approach to everything. I look at that big rock in my path and I think “Okay, there’s a rock. How do I go around it?”. I think, I analyse, I solve problems. And if it’s out of my control, I shrug and I walk away. Life is too short for despair and self-pity. Time goes on even when you don’t.

 

I think, all thinks considered, I’ve done a lot in my 25 years of life. I keep moaning to my friends about how I “am not where I wanted to be” and “haven’t done all the things I planned to have done by the time I was 25”. But I’m sure a lot of us wanted to be astronauts when we were 5 and are now in accounting, a lot of us who studied Art in high school are now working in Communications.

It’s not about reaching a pre-established checkpoint. It’s about being on the right path.

And even though I’m nowhere near the checkpoint I’d like to be at at 25, I know with absolute certainty, for the first time in my life, that I am on the right path. Because more than ever I am keeping my doors open to any opportunity that I might enjoy, without discarding it because “it doesn’t fit my end goal”.

My end goal now?

Be happy.

Be strong.

Learn, evolve, continue to become a better person every day and keep my loved ones close to me.

Life moves like the waves of the ocean, but as long as you are your own rock, you will always know where you stand.

Love,

 

I x

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REVIEW | Long Hair, Don’t Care ft. IrresistibleMe

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Articles / Beauty

Some time ago I was contacted by IrresistibleMe to write up a review of their extensions. Scratch that, a long time ago, but in the mean time I had massive break-outs and a painful break-up along with a very busy Summer season, so I thought it was time to get back on the saddle.

If you saw my previous “Goddess of the Sea” shoot, then you were probably wondering “wait, did she always have hair this long?”. I don’t. And it’s even shorter now.

If you just want to skip my hair biography scroll down to the REVIEW!

This is how it looked like at the time of the shoot:

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And this is what it looks like now, even shorter:

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Excuse the lack of makeup. Eye infections do that to you.

I’ve never had very long hair. I’m one of those girls cursed with Hair That Never Grows Past A Certain Length. Mine is perennially stuck at half-chest length, no matter what cut I give it, how much I sleep, how many masks or treatments I used. I just had to accept that I would never have that luscious, long instagram hair so I resorted to keeping it relatively short and shoulder-length. I had thought about extensions before, but I never even considered getting them. Reasons went from “too much trouble” to “everyone’s gonna know it’s not my hair anyway”.

Well now I have a blog, and a YouTube channel, and I’d love to do stuff to my hair and be able to keep a short haircut and still rock a long ‘do whenever I feel like it, without the hassle, extra shampoo, long blowdrying time and split ends that come with having long hair naturally.

Enter IrresistibleMe.

Some time go – scratch that, a very very long time ago, sorry Blair! – IrresistibleMe got in touch with me to review some of their extensions. I’ve never curated my blog much or cared a lot about having “numbers” or making it into a business, so I was very shocked when a brand I already knew quite well contacted me to send me products. I thought I must be crazy.

Review – IrresistibleMe Extensions

IrresistibleMe gave me the chance to pick a length, weight and colour. Their extensions were quite expensive so I’m extremely grateful to have been gifted a pair. I had no idea wigs and extensions could cost so much! I’ve only ever known those cheap plastic party wigs, so when I got the IrresistibleMe extensions in the mail I 100% understood where the price tag came from.

They had a bazillion colours to choose from. My hair is very hard to colour-match – it’s a medium-dark brown, with very very warm undertones and red reflexes. Sometimes it pulls hazelnut, sometimes a deep chocolate.

I got the 18″ 200g Chocolate Brown set of extensions from them and the colour match was absolutely perfect. I mean, just look at these pictures (they are 100% unedited by the way)! The only reason you can tell my natural hair from the extensions is because we were by the seaside and my hair gets very frizzy and curly. But the colour! THE COLOUR!!

 

The Hair

Very heavy and healthy-looking, with an extremely silky feel to the touch and a semi-glossy look. It doesn’t look “fake” at all (in fact, in the box or just laying on a flat surface they look like a creepy serial killer’s keepsakes) and has the weight, look and feel of completely healthy natural hair. Because the colour and feel is so close to my actual hair (which is quite healthy since I don’t dye it or use styling tools) I could very well just clip them on and leave the house without needing to style them whatsoever.

They feel and look amazing. I did that horribly creepy thing of brushing my extensions and then stroking them for ages before putting them on. They just felt so smooth but in a natural hair way, not a carnival wig way.

Manageability

Surprisingly very easy. They curl amazingly fast and if I had a bottle of hairspray in the house I can bet they’d hold that curl quite well. In fact they held a very bouncy, tight curl for a good couple of hours without any product in them, but then we got to a very windy location and they flattened out, you know, like actual hair would. With curling I found that they curl a lot faster than my natural hair, which is a bonus since my hair will not curl.

The second I received them I just popped them on my hair kind of half-assedly and tried to pull them up into a ponytail and it worked! After two minutes I had a full head of mermaid hair and that lusted-after Ariana Grande high ponytail that we all crave.

Application 

I’ll have to say is quite hard for a first-timer, especially if you’re by yourself. I had never even touched a pair of extensions before so I just looked at them as if I was holding an alien baby from mars. The great thing is that extensions are such a huge trend for vloggers and bloggers nowadays and just people wanting to switch up their hairstyle that it is surprisingly easy to find application tutorials for clip-in extensions. Buzzfeed has a handy guide but they’re also specific application videos on youtube for your type of hair – short hair, thin hair, etc.

Each waft of hair comes with a few clips the same colour of the hair. They’re small but strong and once you click them shut they’re not going anywhere. They don’t budge at all yet they’re very easy to remove. The colour of the seams and clips also makes them completely invisible if they’re applied correctly. It will take you a couple of tries to get them on right the first time (tutorial or no tutorial) and it’s best to have a friend with you to help out at the back if you’re not used to it yet.

Volume & Length

If you go for the 200g that’s more than enough. For the pictures above I only used half of the hair provided! A couple of wafts of hair really do go a long way. Also, I suggest going for the longest you can manage depending on your height (I chose “18 because any longer than that and it would dwarf me since I’m so short); and if you think certain sections are too long, just nip them! But do remember it doesn’t actually grow back. For crazy, luscious volume 200g is amazing, but anything below that you’ll achieve a full but natural look. If you want to get ALL THE OPTIONS!!! then go for the 200g 18” or longer – you won’t regret it.

Pricing & Shipping

IrresistibleMe is based in the USA and I’m in the UK at the moment. I thought it would take ages but they arrived in little over a week! Since I didn’t pay for them and they arrived as a gift I did not have pay customs, so I don’t know how that would work out.

Final thoughts? 

Major self-esteem boost. A load of fun. They make me want to take selfies (which I hate). But most importantly? I don’t have to go through that “awkward mid-length” phase when I’m trying to grow out my hair! If you’re looking for extensions I highly recommend IrresistibleMe. Their shipping is super fast, the hair is outstanding quality and the colour selection is so wide you’re bound to find something that matches you perfectly. The fact that you can choose between different lengths and volumes is also a bonus, as you don’t necessarily have to go for the more expensive ones if you just want nice, fluffy hair that’s a bit longer than yours. Sure, there’s a learning curve if you’ve never worn extensions before, but there’s a first time for everything!

Visit IrresistibleMe to have a look at their full range, and follow them on Twitter for more reviews from other bloggers if you’re deciding whether to purchase or not. They retweet and share social media reviews of their products (they sell heat styling tools too!) all the time.

Question: do I look better with long hair or short hair? Now I can’t decide!

Lots of love,

I xx

JOURNAL | Six Goals for 2016

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Over half of this year has already gone by in a very painful flash. So many people I admired, for either their talent, their genius or their kindness, have passed this year leaving me with a growing list of Dead Idols™. A lot of things have happened since January – new friends have come and gone, arguments have blown up and fizzed into thin air, we’ve suffered a major loss in the family – and I feel like I have changed more as a person since 2015 than I had in the past three years. It is true that we grow the most from challenges or difficulties, and with being in an MA where I am not very confident in my skills or knowledge, working a job that pays commission and juggling a long-distance relationship and the company of my family, as well as dealing with more internal and personal struggles, I think 2016 has been my hardest year to date.

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This is not including the amount of horrible events taking place all around the world. Starting with the November bombings in Paris last year, to the recent lorry attack again in French lands, daily bombings and scarring tales of violence coming from all over the Middle East, the sudden growth in racially-driven cases of police brutality and murder, now escalating into the death of police officers as well, in the USA… just to name a few events that have taken place in less than a year. Oh, and Brexit. And Donald Trump as Republican GOP. If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, whether you’re from the UK, European or anywhere else in the world, then I don’t know what will.

I can’t fix the world, but I can fix myself. I’ve decided to take inspiration from Kimberly over at Sister Of The Moon and write down my six goals for (the rest of) 2016.

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1. Get Healthier & Lose Weight

This is something very close to my heart more so than my body. My appearance is where most of my insecurities, if not all of them, come from. I can overcome any challenge sent my way and I will feel proud of myself and love who I am until I catch my reflection in a mirror. I’m determined to end this decades-long feeling of worthlessness that comes with just being in a body that you’re not happy in. I’m a total advocate for loving yourself the way you are, but I am also a firm believer that if you are not happy with something about yourself, it’s very important that you change it as long as it is for you and not others. I want to learn to love myself, and I will only get to that point when I manage to love my body.

2. Finish my assignments

It’s quite a short-term goal and a very simple one but difficult to achieve. I’m facing two complicated projects that are way out of my comfort zone and I’ve been putting off working on them.

3. Start a “Fuck Off Fund”

Pardon the language. I’m sure by now you’ve seen the article “A Story of a Fuck Off Fund” by Paulette Perhach and if you haven’t I strongly recommend you give it a read. I’m a compulsive shopper. I buy a lot of things that I love but don’t necessarily need. Shopping makes me happy. But now more than ever, with everything that has been going on this year, I realise the need to save up for a rainy day. And if that rainy day never comes, I can use that money to put down a deposit for a house ten years or so from now.

4. Get a Job

Not just any job. I have an ‘any job’ now. I don’t just want something that will give me some extra pocket money at the end of the month. I want something compelling and challenging, something that I love doing or that I would at least like to learn how to do. Something I am already fairly good at but where I can improve and learn more and grow. Something – hopefully, fingers crossed – within my desired career path, related to my skills and that speaks to one or more of my interests as well. I’m not looking for a huge paycheck, but it would help if could start to pay for my own lifestyle (minus rent; thanks Dad), even if only to force myself to be more responsible with the money I have. I am 24, I can’t join the job market at 30!

5. Learn to Live Daily

A lot of my fears, anxieties and general unhappiness comes from looking too far into the future. This is something I’ve always done, since being a child! I’ve always made plans for years and years down the line and even simple things like homework and assignments I always leave everything for the last minute because I see them as simply a hand-in date that is in the future, not something I have to do now. I’ve been working very hard recently, with the help of my wonderful therapist, to focus on the here and the now. To take things one day at a time – whether that is University work, my relationship, my friendships, my job or even keeping track of exercise and eating and house chores. I’ve been able to apply it to some things, but not everything – I still get very anxious and stress a lot about things that are years down the line or that I have no control over. It’s just the way I am. But, again, it is something about me that I dislike and that makes me unhappy, so I am adamant on changing it.

6. Do Something Important

This has different meanings for different people; for me it can be a multitude of things. I would like to achieve something this year that will mark it on the calendar as “the year I did ____”. It can be to have my work published somewhere or to help save lives in some way. I want to come out of 2016 with one or two particular things that I can focus on as positive highlights, whether they are professional achievements or just personal ‘proud moments’. This sounds like a wishy-washy, vague goal but it’s very important to me that this year goes down in my memory book marked by some sort of Great Thing™ with my name on it.

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Again, full credit for the amazing idea for this post goes to Kimberly. Do go check out her blog!

What are your goals for the rest of 2016? I’d love to hear what’s going on in your heads and in your lives.

x

PHOTOSHOOT | Goddess of the Sea

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Beauty / Fashion / Photography

I have to admit I feel extremely embarrassed yet unusually excited to post this. Anyone who knows me knows that I am always, without fail, the one behind the camera. I’ve never had my picture taken properly – that means, not including cellphones or pictures with people I love or taken on holiday. I’ve never been the one that has to stand there and at least try to look pretty. So when Caterina of Kateidoscope (who took these wonderful pictures with my camera after I adjusted the settings for her) asked me to be one of the characters for her Wild x Tales project (go and check it out!) I went all-out on creating a make-up look that would suit the character of ‘goddess of the sea’.

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Cat needed analog pictures for her project but I begged her to take some digital ones with my camera as well so I could use them for my MUA portfolio as well as have enough Facebook profile pictures for decades.

Click any picture to see it full-size!

I have to give a huge shout-out to Irresistible Mewho were kind enough to send me a full set of hair extensions in my chosen colour a couple of months ago. I’ll post a full review of these when I have time to gather my thoughts but, man, it was enjoyable to be able to have long hair for a photoshoot with such a mystical and ethereal concept. My straight-cut long bob would not have worked, so these were an absolute lifesaver.

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My actual hair, y’all

The colour match is so perfect you can’t even tell it’s not my hair in the first pictures; unfortunately, after a while, my own hair got really wavy and frizzy with the sea breeze and the extensions did the opposite and lost their curl, which is absolutely normal and expected since I didn’t use any hairspray.

I didn’t even use the full set they sent me! I think I only used about half the wefts included in the package, they were really really easy to put on and even easier to curl (I wish my own hair curled that easily) and they were an absolute lifesaver for this shoot and absolutely the star of the show.

Let me know if you would like a video tutorial on this editorial make-up look which was an absolute joy to plan out and create. I had never used gold foil or… ever glued anything to my face really, but it was easier than I thought. Please sound off in the comments, or the Facebook page, or tweet me if you’d like to see how I put this together.

Extensions: Irresistible Me Silky Touch in “Chocolate Brown”
Cape: 
Zara
Dress, headband & necklaces: H&M
Choker: Lovisa
Eyelashes: Eyelure 101
Makeup: MAC Warm Neutrals palette, Makeup Geek eyeshadows, MAC lipstick in “Bronze Shimmer”, Bobbi Brown lip pencil in “Bobbi”, Bobbi Brown lipgloss in “Canary”, MAC pigment in “Gold” (on the lips), Benefit Ka-Brow!, Chanel blush in “Golden Sun”, highlighter from Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow + Becca “Opal”, Kat Von D Shade + Light palette, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in “Luminous Bronze”

Photography: Caterina Petrucci (not me for a change!)
MakeUp, Hair & Styling: Ines Veiga Pena (me, as usual)

You can get the gold foil for very cheap on Amazon (the lightweight kind, not the heavy, hard kind used for arts and crafts) and it sticks to the skin with eyelash glue (you can use regular glitter glue, but since I knew it was very windy and I was using big chunks of foil I didn’t want to risk it). Comes off if you rub slightly with a good waterproof make-up remover, so no need for fancy professional stuff.

Remember to visit the Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

x

Glastonbury Abbey

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Photography / Travels

 

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Panorama of the entire building courtesy of my iPhone because as good as the Canon 5D is, there’s no panorama function. #proproblems

The Abbey gets a separate post from the rest of Glastonbury simply because it was my favourite part of the entire trip, followed swiftly by the rocky steep climb in Tintagel.

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I’m not going to give you all the facts – there’s Wikipedia and Google and my mum for that. The fact is simply that Glastonbury Abbey is the most breathtaking building or architectural structure I’ve ever stood in (or, on) – and I’ve lived in Rome for 4 years, so I know my monuments.

I know in the pictures it just looks like a group of three small churches. The fact is, they were all the same church. Glastonbury Abbey, while now a field with several excessively gothic and impressibly tall buildings, used to be one gothic and tall building. All of these ‘small churches’ were just wings or chapels within the same building – the Abbey.

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Another extremely good reason to visit this place, beyond how massive and jawdroppingly awe-inspiring it is, is the fact that King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s untouched grave is right there on the ground with just a sign. No massive tomb, no security enclosure around it, you just don’t step on it out of respect, really. It sounds absolutely ridiculous but it was very emotional for me to stand there. Whether it’s legend or history, it’s still a big piece of English tradition and international culture.

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Trap doors are scattered around the Abbey grounds, hiding what remains of the original detailed tiled floor. You’ll see bits of these in the video once I get to edit it, as I constantly got my (photogenic) dad to open these for me to take pictures. Thanks dad.

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Overall this place is a full 10/10, five star location to visit, at least for me. To be standing in a place so full of history and legend, that also leaves you awestruck at its massive size and physical beauty, is an emotional, cultural and spiritual experience. Everything sort of comes into proportion. You feel the weight of the architecture, the history and the culture around you and you feel both small and important. It is a sight that, if you approach it as a person, an individual, and not as a guidebook-following, box-ticking tourist, will definitely make you grow.

Head on over to my Instagram for more shots taken with the iPhone while on my visit there!

Bonus iPhone pictures of me being silly:

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