Tuesday, 1 May 2018

summer dreaming

"peach and honey in the air, ice cream cones on the pavement, windows flung wide open, an orchard of apricot trees with wind chime breeze through the leaves and branches shimmering with the heat haze. there’s a timeless oil-painting or polaroid-worn-away-at-the edges kind of beauty about this dream and you, paint-splattered camera flash on your skin. you, and you, and you. I want to live like this forever. always reaching for each other and never quite touching. light bathing the marble-skin of your back, muscles rippling the way the river flows, softly, urgent. call it love, call it anything you want. in this life, it starts raining the second we say each other’s names / in the next, the world stops breathing right before we kiss for the first time / in another, we jump into the river at dawn and never come up for air." -an extract I found somewhere online

my mind has been littered with thoughts of the summer and new destinations. I think I have taken the term 'itchy feet' to a whole new level as I find myself trawling through airlines and air bnb's throughout the day, often spending hours conjuring up a trip. I like the idea of escaping somewhere and integrating myself into the place from small mannerisms to more explicit signs to try and disguise my dreaded tourist status. I never understand those people that go on holiday and spend the whole time tucked away in their hotel and getting red faced and huffy when they found out that not everyone speaks English. As I grow older and my independence soars, the thought of being able to travel somewhere, whether that's alone or with someone else, sends my mind into an over-excited scramble. When I think of places I would like to go, I like to think of every aspect of it from the places I'd see to the type of clothes I'd wear. I'm a very laid-back and fluid person and my personality and demeanour is able to morph with every place I go if necessary. 

Thinking of my trip to Madrid makes my heart flutter with the images of the strolling through historic centre and the thought of speaking and immersing myself in a language that rolls off the tongue so smoothly and dances languidly in the warm air. The soft, buttery sounds and high pitched trills of rolled r's and lisped c's that come with the Spanish language and the idea of finally being able to communicate in a country that is so dear to my heart is seriously a thought for battered minds. Rooftops, balmy weather, tapas, walking tours, cycling in the sun, imperial palaces, new metro experiences, rowing boats, art. I cannot wait to experience the capital that I have learnt so much about.

Then moving effortlessly to the Italian port city of Venice conjures up images of pale homes and lines of clothes drying, washed out with the beating sun. Intricate architecture that gives a whole new meaning of 'look up.' Hideously touristic gondolas which are so paradoxically beautiful housing loved up couples and plush red velvet seats streamlining through the turquoise water. Gingham skirts, bright coloured bandeaus. Flowing layers, almost as fluid as the soft sounds of the canal water ebbing against surfaces as you walk down quaint cobbled streets and alleyways, the bitter thought of the fact that in a few decades, water levels will rise and this city, that is so full of everything, will cease to exist and turn into nothing. The smell of tomato and basil filling the humid air and who cares if your hair's frizzy because you're in Venezia- the most beautiful city there is. 

And then there is the sensory overload that is Morocco.

I don't think I will ever be able to put into words the feeling of stepping off the Royal Air Maroc plane in Casablanca and smelling and feeling the thick heat of the country hit you all at once after such a sterile environment in the air. It is truly inexplicable. The first few days are a frenzy of hugs, kisses, 'you've grown so tall', questions on school, trying (and failing) to pick up the arabic and french again with each word. The call to prayer becomes your way of distinguishing what time and part of the day it is. You're woken up by the sounds of cockerels and chickens, even in the city. Sellers walking around neighbourhoods yelling for people to buy their fish, bread, veg or eggs. The occasional beggar asks for and stale bread and within minutes, women and children are throwing bags of bread from their windows. I have not visited Marrakech in 3 years so I'll be rediscovering the red city this summer in all its tiled, terracotta walled, palm tree glory. Street cats on every corner, basking in the 30 degree heat, new rooftop restaurants, brightly coloured walls and palm trees, barely swaying. 

Hearing the dialect change and become increasingly more Spanish as we progress up north will never cease to amaze me. Swimming in the mediterranean sea, which is substantially calmer than the atlantic that we have on the west coast, makes every worry I may have had in the last 11 months disappear. Hills and mountains, white homes painted with the intention of bouncing light off and warding off the heat. The north of Morocco feels like a completely different country and is a completely new experience. 

Perhaps we'll take the ferry across the strait of Gibraltar and travel to the southern coast of Spain. I have always wanted to show my family the colourful, charismatic cities that make up Andalusia. Orange tree lined promenades, yellow walls, extravagant wooden doors and tiles which makes a confusing cross between European and Islamic architecture. I have roamed the streets of Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga before but I have been wanting to return ever since September 2016. The history of the region fascinates me, to think that so many different groups from the Romans to the Phoenicians to the Muslim Moors had established a rule in this place and what we see of it today is a result of these past occupations. The religious coexistence between Muslims, Jews and Christians under the Muslim rule, the conversion of Cordoba into the world's educational hub, the evolution of the Spanish language which sees many arabic influences, mudejar art and architecture and the subsequent Reconquista and Inquisition have essentially bridged the ever so important gap between history and language for me. I cannot wait to revisit with more knowledge on the history of the region so I can completely revel in it's beauty and past. 

And now is where the travelling line plateaus. The rest of August is a mystery. I could stay in London which isn't sounding half as bad. But then there's my 18th birthday which I can't help but feel pressured to make iconic and memorable. It is a milestone birthday, after all. I've toyed with the idea of Barcelona, where I'll have the ability to experience a region of Spain that I've never explored before. Or perhaps go and spend a few days in the country side again, something I will always appreciate. Lisbon is growing on my radar and may be a trip for September. You can also never go wrong with Paris...

I'll see where the month takes me. But for now, I am content. And I spend every day thinking of the summer to come. 

"Estoy deseando que llegue el fin de Junio, los días soleados, el calor: todo lo que no sea este invierno interminable" 


Friday, 13 April 2018

what I've been...#6

First of all, it's crazy to think that April is now in full swing and the spring and summer months are fast approaching. The arrival of Spring is a double edged sword; the warmer weather and longer days are ominously overshadowed by the fact that exams are one step closer. I must admit, March was an okay month. Nothing amazing happened but as I look through my camera roll (the one and only way to gage an opinion of a time in your life, apparently) I had some good days.

what i've been doing-
So, the start of March brought my Spanish oral mock which went well. I also submitted my History coursework on the 11th which was like a massive weight being lifted off my shoulders and even though I was shaking and felt sick to my stomach as I finalised my bibliography, typed in my full name and candidate number and clicked send, it was soon washed over with pure relief. It also snowed super heavily at the start of March (and sometime in mid March) which was a little bit of a shock but I made sure I spent every day making the most out of it. This sounds terrible but I don't know if there'll ever be another episode of heavy snow here in London in the new future as global warming and rapid climate change are, indeed, very real. 

On the 14th, I took a 5 hour coach to Exeter for an offer holder day and apart from arriving to the talk super late and it raining heavily throughout the day, it was a really good day. It even opened up more questions in my mind about which course I want to do exactly. A few weeks later, I received an email on my UCAS track telling me that Durham had not offered me a place. I was at Ambra's house and her sister had just asked me if I'd heard back from them when I got the email to say that there had been an update. And whilst Ambra and her sister, Fran, were like "yeaaa you've totally got an offer!!!!!" something inside was like nah. Thankfully the brutal Oxford rejection helped a bit (never thought I'd say that) and I kinda brushed it off as a 'it was not meant to be' thing and it's true. I decided to show Ambra the wonder that is CMBYN and immersing myself in the depths of romance and everlasting Italian summer (and crying at the end scene...again) was more than enough to take my mind off things. Ever since then, the idea of a gap year has been at the forefront of my mind. It has been something I was considering since October/November but now it's all the more enticing and I'm already planning what I might be doing.

At the start of the Easter holidays, we spent a few days away in the countryside which I wrote more on here. Although we had originally planned to go abroad, this short road trip 2 hours away from London was more than enough. I also spent Easter Sunday in Brighton with a few friends (Lexie, Katie and Libby) which was so lovely and reminds me of all the good things that have come out of my blog, like genuine friendships and discovering new places together. I'll save the photos for a full post. I've been spending most days of this holiday in the quiet area of my local library in preparation for my final A-level exams which has been as enjoyable as you can imagine.

I've said it on twitter before but browsing Ryanair and then going onto AirBnB to look for apartments is my favourite pass time and lets me escape a little during those revision breaks. I then found tickets to Venice for £55, texted my mum to tell her that I would be going to Italy from the 2nd till the 6th of July and then booked it which adds another city to my summer! I've already made a Pinterest board for Venice as well as Madrid and Marrakech and it's safe to say that I am very excited to float around the canal ridden city, get lost in winding streets and take in the Italian summer- think gingham, flowy dresses, red lips and big sunglasses. I may also try and go to Milan and stop off at Crema for a few hours too and live my CMBYN dreams to full potential, who knows. A few days ago I went to my friend Aina's art exhibition (wooooo!!!) and roamed around the Brick Lane and Shoreditch area before deciding to make the 20 minute walk home instead of taking the bus. 

On Tuesday, my sister and I spent a whole day in Soho for free, unlimited ice cream at Ben and Jerry's. It was a day very well spent and the weather came through. I'm so excited for the 20+ degree weather next week. 

what i've been reading/watching-
Oh how excited I've been to write this section! I finished Where Angels Fear To Tread by Forster and I mean, there's a reason why he's my favourite novelist. I also read Call Me By Your Name (no, I will not shut up about it) early on in the month and reviewed it here. It's safe to say that it is my all time favourite book. Then, on a Friday afternoon, I decided to go and watch it at the cinema alone. I had wanted to watch the film for months but always told myself that I should read the book before doing so and then by the time I did that, most of my friends had already watched it. I don't know why there's such a massive stigma around going to the cinema on your own because you're essentially alone throughout the film anyway. I adore the film and have watched it once again, ever since.

I also read When Breath Becomes Air after Eleanor recommended it which was an amazing book and so interesting to read as it explores a real story of a highly-esteemed neurosurgeon advancing from being a junior doctor up to the best in his field and then his diagnosis and subsequent conversion from being the physician to the patient. Perhaps what I liked the most about the book was the fact that the author himself had a few detours in terms of his academic path. He studied and graduated with a degree in English Literature and then moved onto route of medicine. As someone who has thought of studying on either side of the spectrum (History and Spanish or Biological Sciences/Medicine) it did offer some form of reassurance that I just because I go down one path, it doesn't mean I can't go down the other later on in life.

I then read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which was slightly anti-climactic given all the hype it's gotten recently but nonetheless a really nice read and it was a great way to just disconnect a bit and read something that wasn't so emotionally demanding. Then I read Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso as a more light-hearted read but motivational nevertheless. I took out Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes as I figured it'd be a nice read and quite relevant to my Spanish studies. I bought two books from a tiny Oxfam in a small town from £2.50 each: Purple Hibiscus by Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie and 100 years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

In terms of films, my sister and I had a rota on for last week so we watched Coco which I loved so much, Ferdinand which was equally as good and actually works as a source to cite if I have a question about the cultural heritage in Spain in my oral exam lol and Paddington 2 which was adorable. I cried at all three films, naturally. I also watched The Man from U.N.C.L.E and was pleasantly surprised when I saw Armie Hammer on screen again- I'm not one for spy films but this one was so well done and the actors and soundtrack were perfect. I decided to watch Lady Bird too which I enjoyed but ultimately don't get the hype about. I am, however, obsessed with saying "l'enfance nue" in a terribly American accent and having my mum correct me and then questioning me on why I keep muttering the words naked childhood over and over again. 

what i've been listening to-

There's this Italian song from the late 60s which I have literally been listening to for hours, non-stop since Easter. I discovered it through a random playlist on Spotify and am so thankful I did because it's such a beautiful song and I love being able to see how far my Spanish will stretch and try to mentally translate Italian. You know, just normal things. It's called 'Che Vuole Questa Musica Stasera' and I've inserted a link down here if you'd like to listen to it. I'd also recommend you lookup the translated lyrics! I also love the CMBYN (instead of a drinking game for each time I mention my history coursework like in my last instalment of this post, take a shot each time I mention CMBYN)  soundtrack on spotify and here are a few songs that I really like: Mystery of Love, Une Barque Sur L'océan, Futile Devices, Love My Way, Visions of Gideon (if you know, you know), and Plastic. I would 10/10 recommend you listen to said songs, I've linked my spotify playlist here if you'd like to check the songs out. Oh, and the song that the band is playing in Lady Bird is also really good, yet another link if you'd like to listen.

what i want-

I would really like to visit Barcelona for a few days at the end of summer. I don't really want many clothes but I've seen a red long wrap front polka dot dress in Next and a black polka dot dress on Asos which are fab. Do you spot (ha) a trend here? I went to the Brandy Melville sale yesterday as they had reduced everything to £5 and whilst I only came out with a few items (it was chaos in there) I think my spring and summer wardrobe is pretty much sealed. I did see a pair of mules on Zara's website but think I'll pass on them considering the majority of my blogger friends heavily rebuke them and my insta poll showed that 52% of viewers despise them greatly. enemies of progress. 
what i've been anticipating-
My actual, official, real real real Spanish oral at the end of this month. I am simultaneously bricking it and also pressed at the fact that last years cohort didn't have to do theirs till mid/late May.

I've been wanting summer more than ever right now! I finish school for study leave on the 25th of May which is almost a month away, it's crazy to get my head around because it officially marks the end to the rigid structure you follow blindly all the way from primary school. We have a leavers event called 'Strawberries and cream' which is exactly what it says on the tin. You eat strawberries and cream in the courtyard with your whole year group and dress in semi-nice clothes and pretend that you're going to miss everyone dearly. Woo!

I'm going to end this here because this post is hideously long and one more paragraph and I would basically be giving you my whole life story. I've also realised how much I've linked onto here so as if this post wasn't enough the links you click on will lead you to more of my blog posts, my friends' blogs and new music.

What's been going on in your life?

recent blog posts! 
CMBYN book review
The end of an era
Feeling stuck 
A few days in the countryside- photo diary and stories
Cards and stuff

Sunday, 8 April 2018

cards and stuff

So I was in the library trying to get my head around the patterns of inheritance module in my biology textbook (the worst thing ever) and then I got an email. It wasn't quite the animated 'ding' as I would've probably convinced myself that everyone else in the silent study area wanted to kill me. Instead it was a muffled vibration which still somehow sent my adrenaline rushing. Well the adrenaline kept pumping through as I read the email from thortful.com that told me all about this company that sells independent artists and photographers artwork through greeting cards and how I could pick out something to review and also offer a discount code. With my revision break made up in my mind in a second (so quick to initiate a break, painfully slow to start working) I looked through the site before deciding whether to accept or decline the offer. I never get fun emails from brands, they're usually just ones that ask me to review a prom dress for $8 or curtains. I'm not going to lie and say that as soon as I launched the website I was like "yes, this is what I want to do" because a few of the main designs didn't really appeal to me. But then I browsed a bit and came across a plethora of 'cooler' quotes and designs and there we go, I was sold. I leisurely looked through the selection before picking, confirmed my order and then emailed the PR to tell them that I would be totally cool with reviewing their service.

I have a pen-pal (yes, this stuff still exists) which has kind of evolved into a sisterhood rather than just mere letter writing so I looked through the range with the intention of picking something out for Katie. We're both full fledged worriers and over thinkers so I thought this design would provide some rationality in times of distress. I read it over and over again and it's true, you've survived 100% of your worst days so far. The card came the next day which was a very pleasant surprise and I mentally commended the royal mail staff and then realised that it was sent first class which probably has everything to do with the fast shipping.

Okay so I don't know how I can describe a card without it sounding mundane but the actual card itself is really good quality. oh gosh are you hearing reading this? the card is good quality It's super sturdy and just feels so smooth and is definitely miles away from your regular supermarket bought card. What I love the most about the site is that there's a section dedicated to "just because" as well as the rest of the more conventional occasions you'd need a card for. I think we associate cards as simply a birthday or wedding or christmas thing and brand its exclusivity to special occasions but they can be so useful in helping express appreciation. I typed a message into it that said "you're doing amazing sweetie" for some reassurance (and to quote momager, Kris Kardashian) and added a rainbow emoji just because. The whole process was a happy one, I don't know how else to explain it, the process of picking a nice card, writing a message and confirming your order with the idea that you'll soon be bringing some happiness to another person just makes you feel good. So now the adrenaline was replaced with dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins instead!

The artist I picked from was Veronica Dearly and oh my god her designs are the loveliest things ever. They're like Pinterest on a card. Her artwork includes puns, reassuring quotes and cards directed towards LGBTQ+ people who've come out as well which I found really lovely as you don't really see such niche cards. I really like that when you buy a card, you're essentially investing in a person's work. Again, with general cards from the high street the connection with the actual artist is very much stifled but shopping through thortful actually does reinforce that connection to the person who created the card and it does feel a little more personal. I genuinely adore all of Veronica's prints and designs and I think you guys will too.

This section from the sites about us page sums it up perfectly

Not so long ago we found ourselves let down by the lack of creativity, diversity and poor quality of the online greeting card offering. The high street wasn't much better, and we could see people settling for cards that would 'just do' rather than thinking 'this is a beautiful card that sums up my feelings for the recipient'. Enter thortful! We're striving to offer the best card shopping experience with the ability to find the perfect greeting card quickly (and not one that'll just do!).
thortful is a creative card marketplace supporting a community of designers, illustrators and photographers who create beautiful, unique greeting cards (most of which you won't find on the high street!). We believe that our creators should be appropriately rewarded for their creative talents, so we pay them an industry-leading royalty rate too - they deserve nothing less!
I should probably also mention that the cards can be directly sent to the person you want them to go to which is what I would've done but I needed to actually see and photograph the card. You can select an option for the card to be sent to you with an extra envelope that you can use to send it on which I thought was such a thoughtful option to add in because I'm pretty sure a plain manila envelope would've definitely ruined the allure.

Whew, that was slightly stressful to write as I really wanted to cover all the ground on the service and encapsulate all my opinions within. I'm so grateful to have been able to collaborate with this company as it honestly did feel like the best match for me as a lover of affirmative quotes and nice stationary and cards (and an avid post-card hoarder) I was kindly given a discount code for 20% off which makes the cards £2.60- the discount code is DALALTAHIRA* so cool to have a discount code with my name on and it's valid until May!

I hope you enjoyed reading and are having a great Sunday!

*postage price is not included and it is one time use. I don't make any money off it, I just wanted to share in case you were interested.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

a few days in the country

Whenever there's a bank holiday or school holiday, we embark on a 2 hour drive to a small village just outside of Reading to spend a few days in a cottage where civilisation is scarce. It has been something we have been doing as a family ever since I was born. When my dad first arrived to the UK from Morocco in the late 80s, his first job was as a butler for a wealthy family. Now almost 30 years later, we still have access to the huge plot of land and it has become a sacred trip away for me. It's a place to strip back the way we live and just enjoy the bare minimum.

The house is essentially a massive library with walls lined with books. It has been a goal of mine to read every book available in the cottage. The TV doesn't work nor does reliable service operate there either. The views from all the rooms are rolling hills and vast expanses of greenery and whilst it was grey and most of the foliage was a bit bare after the unbelievably long winter we've had, it was still the best sight to see first thing in the morning. When you're in such an environment, one where even if you squinted as hard as you possible could and still remain unsuccessful in finding someone else around, it does give you an eerie sense of (weirdly) satisfying isolation. That it's just you in a field of green. No one else. If anything happened to you, no one would know.

In the summer, when I last visited, the heated pool was open, the hammock was set up between two blossom trees and the apple orchards were in full bloom and the tennis court was in action. To describe it as bliss would be an understatement. Strolling through the beaten path to the pool, the late August sun beating on your back whilst clutching three or four books and a disposable camera was a morning pleasure that I eagerly looked forward to and serves as a record of better days in my mind.

Walking around the property is more than enough but just outside of the gates, there's a variety of paths to go through. We ended up hiking around 8km one morning, going along the pathways whilst my dad told stories about how he used any downtime as a way to hike and clear his mind before getting back to busy shifts serving expensive foods and alcohol to very posh dinner guests. I always find my mind wandering and thinking what I would be like if I had grown up in such an environment. The nearest town is a 30 minute drive and the main demographic of the area is middle-aged white people. I would definitely be a very different person if I had grown up in a small town in the middle of nowhere as opposed to London. 100%.

I had such a calming time there and am already thinking about the next time I visit, ideally in the late summer time. I hope these photos brought you the same calmness and tranquility they bring me.


Tuesday, 27 March 2018

feeling stuck

Truly, I feel stuck.

I don't feel like anything is going anywhere and my whole life is just stagnated right now and my future seems really uncertain at this point which is the most worrisome state to be in. I've received offers from brilliant universities across the UK but I don't want to go to any of them. My blog stats have been increasing but I don't think it's enough. I have a vision in my mind that is yet to be achieved.

Truthfully, I'd like to blame to this all on the weather and my environment. As paradoxical as it may sound, London is doing very little for me. The so-called diverse hub of creativity and inspiration is doing everything but sparking those two ever so crucial things within me. It is draining me of everything. And whilst days are getting longer and brighter, my ability to keep myself up and productive throughout those long hours is becoming sparser and increasingly dimmed.

They say everything is cured by salt water: sweat, tears and the sea. But I am unable to obtain any of them. I'm too tired to work out. All cried out to shed even more tears. And the British sea is appallingly bleak. I understand that I seem unbelievably superficial right now, if I really wanted to, I could just force myself to do physical activity or think of other ways.

I want a drastic change. I like change. I don't think I could stay in one place for the rest of my life, I am constantly evolving and shedding old qualities as I grow. Only with each shedding, my geographical location has remained the same. Still the same room I wake up in, the same clothes I scour through, the same bus I hurriedly get on, the same school I tap into grudgingly.

I often find myself scouring the ryanair website for flights. I also end up daydreaming about the day I pack my bags and move to somewhere else. Tabs upon tabs upon tabs with the hectic mix of "rent prices in Barcelona", "obtaining a Spanish NIE" and google map searches for the Spanish embassy in London are strewn across my Safari window. I'm pretty sure I ended up dreaming about how I would write a post on here finally revealing my big decision to move. When you want something so badly, the tense excitement and anxiety is channeled into something a little gentler in a way to neutralise this heavy desire. Our psyche takes it upon itself to portray it through dreams. And that is exactly what is happening to me.

But with dreams, as they say, they are meant to be chased. So whilst my life is essentially fixed as my exams approach, the moment a form of malleable life finally arrives, I will be making the most of it and breaking out of the rigid constrictions.

I tried fooling telling myself that my year abroad in my degree will fill this gap.

Now I don't even know which university I want to go to.

Or even if a mere year could satisfy this gaping gulf of 17 years worth of pent up banalities.

Whilst I have mulled over the idea of a gap year, usually fuelled by emotional shortcomings whether that be a bad test grade and the subsequent crisis or the rejection from a university I had my heart set on, the prospects of it seem increasingly attractive. I vividly remember writing in my rejection post that depending on the situation of my UCAS track, I would take a gap year. And whilst it didn't turn out half as bad as I expected, I don't think any of my choices are for me. Perhaps that will serve as optimum time to work, earn some money, embark on a programme that my school could potentially fund if successful and then spend a few months living and working in Spain.

But for now, as I am sat here whilst time quickly slips away and we edge towards the end of March, signalling yet another month closer till June, I am essentially fixed to my current situation. Sure I could quite simply pack my bags and leave but in the grand scheme of things, my hands are tied. A push pin, pinning me here with big, bad governors and admissions officers playing with my future from the tips of their fingers. Powerful and, clearly deficient, in empathetic skills.


Tuesday, 20 March 2018

the end of an era

Photo of Vienna
heroes always get remembered but you know legends never die.

yes, I did just start a post quoting P!ATD. Year 8 Dalal is quaking.

If you haven't noticed, I changed my blog name. And bought my own domain. And I changed my instagram account name as well as went through and archived a few posts (and realised that my fashion peak was definitely in 2016). So, welcome to dalaltahira.com! I created this blog under the name 'Monochrome Daisies' in around 2013. 5 years and a lot more growth later, I figured it was finally the time to part with the safety of the name that I'd harboured for half a decade and slip away from the blogspot.co.uk.

It feels weirdly liberating to actually own this blog now. It is no longer owned by Blogger. It is mine, nestled within a .com with the safety blanket of my name. My blog is something that represents me, it's where I put my favourite things, my emotions, my general happenings in life so being able to formally own this place and have named after me feels somewhat monumental.

I chose to go with my name. As catchy as Monochrome Daisies sounded, I'm pretty sure my name is one that isn't very hard to forget either. This is coming from someone who has a mini panic when sales assistants ask for her name for electronic receipts and then has to spend 5 agonising minutes spelling it out letter by letter. I guess that's the one good thing about having a weird name (or names in my case) it just sticks. It's also something that I won't look back on in a year or even a decade and think "oh god what was I thinking" which admittedly was what I felt about Monochrome Daisies.

The most satisfying thing about this name change and general rebranding is the fact that all my social media accounts match. My twitter was under my name and I couldn't change it to Monochrome Daisies unless I created a new account which was not the most practical. My instagram account had to be @_monochromedaisies because someone had already taken the name without the underscore. And my email address is also my name so it all just seemed really disjointed and very unnerving to have different names across different platforms but this is finally solved.

I think I'll leave this post here before I end up writing a 2,000 word post about the symbolism behind the name change and all the new found, added practicalities (I can have an accurate DA reading now!) Maybe on my blog birthday, which I have completely forgotten so I'll have to estimate, I'll do a whole throwback post with snippets of my first ever blog posts and also some of the photos I took back then.

I love embarrassing myself ;)

Thank you for reading and sticking around regardless of cringy names and questionable blog niches! I hope you feel like you, as a reader, have also evolved and grown with my blog.


Thursday, 15 March 2018

books: call me by your name

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
Okay so I’m going to start by saying this. If you’ve recently experienced heart-break, do not read this. I haven’t been heart broken and this book left me demolished. It will leave you grieving over the heart break you never had. Literally broken. This book is a fucking axe to the heart which instead of hacking away at your pain will leave you to bleed out slowly. It will grip and suck you into the world of Elio and Oliver, in a quaint Italian town surrounded by fragrant peach trees, hot sun and glistening cobblestones, leaving you disorientated as soon as you stop reading and return to the 'real world'. 

It’s completely consuming and you will often have to put the book down because it’s so uncomfortable how you’re reading Elio’s rawest, inner thoughts and believe that if you read a sentence more you yourself will be crawling into his actual skin. But that’s the beauty of it, this book is a romance, all on love but it skips the cliches. I am aware that anything that is supposedly un-cliched is, in fact, a massive cliche. Aciman explores the real feelings for love, if not obsession for another person. The desire to be with them every moment of the day and if you could, in their mind. It’s somewhat scary to read, if Elio doesn’t speak to Oliver at least once then it’s a concern. He has to continually think about what he’s going to say to him, his speech is curated to the finest degree.

I loved this book. The writing especially. I loved it because it was a book about love that didn't feel like it was a book about love. It skipped the wishy washy plot of two, usually heterosexual people, meeting and going on generic dates and subsequently falling in love. The artistic and literary references really did a) make me feel completely uncultured and stupid but more importantly, b) set the context of the book and the love flourishing between two in the home of intellectuals.

It made me long for summer, more than I ever have done before. Perhaps it's the subconscious thought that I have so many exams to get through or may actually be the writing itself. The descriptions of the lazy mornings by the pool, the billowy shirts and the beads of sweat rolling down your neck before dropping off at the hollow between your shoulder blades. I wanted it all. I became so invested in this book that upon reading the final part, I would literally feel bouts of pain because I knew it was ending soon and the emotions that were running through the text was so high. You're so submerged into the lives of these characters that seeing them split up and move on feels as if it has happened to you directly. The last part of the final page is a real killer, essentially pouring a shit ton of salt on the wounds of the lost love that you thought you'd come to accept. I'll insert it below along with a few other favourite quotes.

“I'm like you,' he said. 'I remember everything.'
I stopped for a second. If you remember everything, I wanted to say, and if you are really like me, then before you leave tomorrow, or when you’re just ready to shut the door of the taxi and have already said goodbye to everyone else and there’s not a thing left to say in this life, then, just this once, turn to me, even in jest, or as an afterthought, which would have meant everything to me when we were together, and, as you did back then, look me in the face, hold my gaze, and call me by your name

“If I could have him like this in my dreams every night of my life, I'd stake my entire life on dreams and be done with the rest.” 

"We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!” 

'You are the only person I'd like to say goodbye to when I die, because only then will this thing I call my life make any sense. And if I should hear that you died, my life as I know it, the me who is speaking with you now, will cease to exist.” 

“Time makes us sentimental. Perhaps, in the end, it is because of time that we suffer.” 

"I began, reluctantly, to steal from the present to pay off debts I knew I'd incur in the future."


I don't know if I liked the book so much because it had such a high reputation already, was a breath of fresh air after months of reading books on Elizabeth I or was just genuinely an amazing piece of literature. I think it's the latter.

I'm going to watch the film tomorrow in order to fill the void left by the novel and because I want to see how the words transfer onto the screen. I've already watched most interviews with the cast members and the director so now I guess it's finally time to just watch it. I shall keep you updated, I know that I'll be a mess by the end of it- that's a given.

You can buy a copy here (I obviously 10/10 recommend)

Have you read this book? Or have you watched the film?
- Dalal

Monday, 5 March 2018

what I've been... #5

It's now March, which I am struggling to wrap my head around, so I guess that calls for another update post which although at the time of writing feel like they're too personal and won't get any engagement, actually seem to be my most popular posts on here. and breathe. That was a long sentence. 

what i've been doing-
I don't want to bore you about my history coursework but that is literally all that has been on my mind for the past month, it's due this Friday which is daunting but also fills me with immense joy because I'll finally have it done forever. There's only so much reading on the puritan threat to the Elizabethan church of England one can take, trust me. I had my Spanish speaking mock on Thursday which although I was anxious beyond means before it, I enjoyed it so much. My topic card was on immigration and then my presentation was about the Muslim rule of Spain and the Spanish Inquisition which are definitely my favourite bits of history. It really did make me realise just how much I love the subject and language and I cannot wait to be able to speak and continue learning it for the rest of my life. I got my grade back today as I edit this post before publishing- we got almost full marks lads!!! Moving on, I spent a few days in Lille over the February half term visiting my aunt and have also taken a social media use reduction if that made sense. I don't have any social media apps on my phone but I do allow myself an hour to go on instagram. I deactivated my twitter account because I felt like it was too much for me but I've now realised that if I want this post to have views that aren't me or my mum, I'm going to have to reactivate and promote this post through there lol.  I've gotten two new pairs of glasses (I collected them today) and I'm in love with both frames. Also had my contact lenses fitting session today which was...eventful and traumatising. It snowed for quite a few days here in London and it was surprisingly really heavy and actually settled so I spent everyday after school out in the snow with my sister, feeling like a child again. It was really fun and I'm so sad to see the snow melt away but equally as happy because we have blue skies and actual sunshine. May also be buying my own domain this week and upgrading from Monochrome Daisies to Dalal Tahira because growth!

what i've been reading/watching-
I finished reading The Power. I'm currently reading 'Where Angels Fear to Tread' by my favourite novelist, 
E.M. Forster, I loved A Room with a View. I've also logged onto my local library's online catalogue and reserved a few books that I'll be picking up throughout the week including Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, Fahrenheit 451, the great Gatsby and Call Me by Your Name. I don't know if I want to read Lullaby because it seems completely unsettling but we'll see. In terms of TV shows, I don't really have anything! I do want to watch Tiempos de Guerra which is about Spanish nurses sent to Melilla to care for the soldiers fighting in the Rif war and find love and drama on the way but I really don't have time to be sucked into a TV show again. I'm still waiting on season 3 Las Chicas del Cable release date to be given because I'll have to strategically plan how I'll watch it (I'll probably binge it tbh) 

what i've been listening to-
The Neighbourhood have been releasing a few EPs over the months and are releasing their full album on the 9th so I've been listening and waiting for that. My early teenage years are characterised by the band with me discovering Sweater Weather back in the day. One of my biggest regrets is not going to their concert in in 2016 because they seem to not have any concert planned yet (but fingers crossed that'll change with their new album!) I've also been listening to Young and Beautiful by Lana del Rey- my favourite song! 

what i want-

I want to watch Call Me by Your Name (but only until I read the book) and Ladybird! Maybe they can be a post-coursework treat. I also might be getting a kitten (!!!!!!!!) after months if not years of begging so I'm now spending my time looking at cat toys and bulk buying cat food instead of my history coursework. do you know what, TAKE A SHOT EVERY TIME I MENTION MY HISTORY COURSEWORK*

what i've been anticipating-

Starting from Monday, I will be able to come into school at 9:30am instead of 8:45am (only Mondays but it's better than nothing) The responsible young adult in me is shrieking at me, telling me that I should still go in at the normal time to get some coursework done. But then actual me is like "SLEEP!!!!!" so there's my internal conflict for you. I'm visiting Exeter on the 14th, I have an offer holder day there and I can't wait to spend hours wondering around the city that I could potentially call home in the future. Also the 5 hour journey there and back is weirdly exciting me, I love long coach journeys. Providing Durham give me an offer, I'll also be visiting there soon. Continuing with British cities, I'll be in Brighton for a day on the 1st of April and may be going up to Newcastle in the summer! I can't wait to visit Madrid at the end of June and possibly Barcelona for my birthday in mid-August. It is quite strange how I've never visited the main touristic Spanish cities before yet have such a huge affinity for Spanish culture, I do love the south but I'm v excited to explore the metropolitan cities. Whilst in Madrid, a day trip to either Toledo or Cuenca are on the cards and for Barcelona where I'll potentially be staying for much longer, Tarragona and Girona will also be possible trips. I'm going to Morocco for a month and will spend just under a week in Marrakech with Katie before coming back in time for results day *shudders* Now that I've typed it all out, it seems like I'm going to be jet setting for the next few months. On the Friday I send off my coursework, I'm going to the sky garden as a 'well done'. The majority of my already 18 year old history class is going out clubbing. Can you see the disparity?

I think that is all I have to update you on. I'll undoubtedly be returning back to this post and adding on anything I think of or remember later on.

How's everything going for you all? Are you excited about anything? What are you reading/watching/listening to?

Blog posts from this month!
Travel diary: Granada 
Floral power suit
Let's take self-care seriously 

*drink responsibly, lol.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

let's take self-care seriously

"Life is meant to be enjoyed"
Yes, it's a buzz word.

Yes, it's something trendy.

But nevertheless, it should be something that we embed in our routines. It is something that should slot in, just like brushing your teeth would.

Self-care isn't putting on a face mask or having a bubble bath (although both of said options are pretty nice to include too) but it boils down to the bare minimum. Brushing your hair or washing your clothes or you know, actually showering and moisturising your skin. It's so easy to get 'busy' and then forget to do these things until your hair is a matted mess, you have to scavenge for a pair of socks that aren't filthy and your skin is dry and you faintly smell of BO and think, is this what I've smelt like this whole week?

I completely understand the romanticisation of looking after your mind and body, it's something that hasn't been pushed on before and now, with the rising popularity of such posts and videos on social media platforms, it's something that is genuinely appealing. I've succumbed to it many times before. Voluminous bubbles almost spilling out of the bath tub, thick, luxurious face-masks that are overwhelmingly therapeutic to slather and a warm mug of your favourite hot beverage. It's the epitomised idea of self-care that we want to think we have adopted.

Because, let's face it, showing your self-care routine as something that involves trying not to have multiple depression naps or being forced to put on face cream because the salt from your endless tears has dried out your skin and left it feeling uncomfortably tight doesn't have the same appeal to it. We want our self care routine to be seen as supplementary, not necessary. But that's not the reality.

I wish I could say I have a solid routine, one that I turn to when I'm experiencing an exponential decay (ha!) but I'll be honest, when I'm depressed all I can do is cry and cry and cry and write shitty things to try and understand why this is happening to me. However, I have photographed a few material things that instil some happiness in me at times when I feel like everything is deteriorating for me.

I have some hyaluronic acid from the ordinary and the glossier priming moisturiser; both of which make me feel somewhat human after a rough time. It's crazy what a moisturised face can do for you. Hyaluronic acid is a natural occurring polysaccharide humectant which retains I think 100 times it's weight with water. The priming moisturiser is a very recent purchase which I've started using lately, it's very moisturising and eliminates any dryness. I like to use this mostly because of its priming qualities as I'll usually use a lot of colour corrector and concealer to cover up my dark circles.

There's also a kiko nail varnish which is my favourite shade to wear. Admittedly, I never paint my nails- despite it being quite easy for me considering I'm somewhat ambidextrous* This dark red colour is a classic, is so glossy and fairly long lasting and compliments my skin tone, hence why it's a firm favourite of mine. As stereotypical as it may sound, a manicure can actually work wonders in terms of making you feel less like a slob, I would know lol.

And finally is this pad of note/letter writing paper that I got on sale from kikki.k, a veerrryyy cute but overpriced stationary shop in Covent Garden. Not only do some of the sheets have affirmative quotes, the designs, prints and colour are also things that brighten my day. I use this to write my letters to my pen-pal and I think aside from the paper itself, writing the letters is also something that makes me feel a little less anxious. It's a way to write down everything that has been happening in my life and how I've been feeling and hypothetically 'free up space' in mind so that I'm not constantly thinking of (and subsequently overthinking) everything.

So there we go. A rant and 'things I love' post all rolled into one! Make sure you take care of yourselves.

How would you define self-care? 

*I was left handed for most of my nursery years but there's a strange old wives tail in north africa, probably brought over by the french which claims that witches greet satan “avec le bras gauche” (with the left hand) so my mum basically forced me to swap hands in the fear of witchcraft. Sounds even stranger now that I've typed that out. 

Thursday, 15 February 2018

power suit

Bottoms up to the first outfit post of 2018 (albeit a month and two weeks late) I made plans with Lucy to shoot multiple times but the universe obviously didn't agree with them because we've had to cancel over and over again, so until we reschedule I bring to you the bedroom wall seriesAs much as I wish these were taken out on the sunny streets of London, that's just not possible (yet) 

Salud a la primera publicación de atenuado de 2018 (aunque es un mes y dos semanas tarde) Hice planes a sacar fotos con Lucy muchos tiempos pero esta claro que el universo no estaba de acuerdo porque hemos tenido a cancelar una y otra vez, así que hasta que reprogramemos te traigo la serie de la pared de mi dormitorio. Tanto como quisiera que esas fotos fueron tomadas en las calles soleadas de Londres, eso no es posible (todavía) 

I've been after a suit for months now but never liked the boring grey, checkered, structured style that a lot of bloggers seem to be pouring over. Thankfully, Zara came through (when do they not) and provided this amazing silky almost navy floral set which I am so excited to start wearing in the warmer months. The trousers would look really nice worn alone with a white tube top. These are the first pairs of wide legged trousers that are actually full length on me and don't actually cut off awkwardly at the ankle or even higher up (I've had many experiences in which I just have to wear them as culottes) The 'suit' jacket is also really nice, it's so loose and has so much movement to it especially in the arms which is what I want; all those corporate blazers can go. I wore these with a pair of velvet heeled boots, mostly for the photos, I'd probably pair these with my vagabond chunky boots or even my Vans. 

He estado tras de un traje por muchos meses ya pero nunca me gustaba el estilo aburrido, gris, estructurado que muchos blogueros parecen estar amando. Afortunadamente, Zara ha entregado (cuando no?) y me han dado este increíble sedoso, casi marina conjunto floral que estoy muy emocionante de empezar a llevar en los tiempos cálidos. Los pantalones quedaría bien con una blusa de tubo blanco. Estos son el primer par de pantalones ancho para piernas que realmente son longitud completa de mi y no cortan torpemente en mis tobillos (he tenido muchas experiencias en que necesito llevarlos como culottes) La chaqueta 'traje' también es muy bonito, es tan flojo y tiene mucho movimiento, especialmente en los brazos cual es lo que quiero; todos los blazers corporativo pueden dejar. Llevo estas con un par de botas de talon de terciopelo, mayormente para los fotos, probablamente los emparejaría con mis botas gruesos de Vagabond o incluso con mis Vans. 

Paired with very minimal eye makeup and a glossy brown lip, I think this channels all the nineties vibes whilst mixing in with the theory of an 80s power-suit. Perhaps if my hair was a bit bigger and frizzier then I could have brought in some hints of the 60s. Basically, this is my new favourite outfit from the textures to the print and I can't wait to play around with it more and with different accessories and makeup when the weather is warmer. 

Emparejada con maquillage de ojos muy minimal y lápiz labial marrón brillante, pienso que este canaliza todos los rollos de los años noventas mientras de mezclar la teoría de un traje-de-poder de los ochentas. Quizás si mi cabello fue un poco mas grande y ensortijado entonces podría haber traído algunos rastros de los sesentas. Básicamente, este es mi nuevo atenuado favorito de las texturas de la imprimida y no puedo esperar para jugar con el mas y con diferentes accesorios y maquillaje cuando la clima es mas calido (con suerte) 

I hope you liked this long overdue outfit post, I don't want to promise more and then disappoint but they are definitely my favourite posts to make so perhaps that will spur me on! 

Espero que les hayas gustado este publicación de atenuado de largo plazo, no quiero promover mas y luego desilusionar pero son definitivamente mis favoritos publicaciones a crear así que tal vez eso me motive! 


ps: YES I've decided to start writing my posts in Spanish as well as English! I have a considerable amount of readers from Spain and Ecuador so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and accommodate them whilst practicing my writing too! If you'd like to read another post in Spanish then here's my first one 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Andalusia | Granada

Okay so this post was meant to be published 2 years ago.

Also the photo above was from Seville, not Granada (I just really wanted a nice portrait photo)

don't kill me.

I never got around to posting it. I did get 2 posts from Seville and Cordoba up which you can read here and here so I thought I'd finish the Spain travel diary installments because a) they deserve to be completed and b) I'm going to Madrid in June (eek) so I want to get all my previous Spanish city posts up and can add to the collection soon. My dad and I traveled around the major Andalusian cities including Seville, Cordoba, Granada and finally Malaga. in the summer of 2016. I definitely don't have enough photos from Malaga to create a whole blog post out of it, most of the days were just spent lazing on the beach and eating amazing ice-cream. This trip is one that I have the fondest memories of, people are often shocked when I tell them that it was my first time visiting Spain considering how much I love the place, the language and everything about it. Looking back on these photos and reminiscing on the days spent walking through the neighbourhoods in old towns, orange tree lined promenades, falling in love with flowery patios, devouring every bowl of patatas bravas I can find and the general laid-back atmosphere of the country makes me want to live there even more despite the corrupt monarchy and high unemployment. Also the coaches have wifi and the trains are super good. Southeastern could definitely take a leaf out of their book.

Anyway, I digress. Granada!

The home of the Alhambra Palace, a moorish creation that leaves the legacy of the Islamic and Almohad cultural heritage of Spain and the caliphate that spanned the majority of it from 711 AD to 1492 AD (cut short by La Reconquista...who knows what Spain would be like today if the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand II and Isabella I were not successful in recapturing the Iberian peninsula)

It's name could either come from the Spanish word for pomegranate (a very abundant fruit) or from it's Moorish name 'Gharnatah'

*do you see why I love Spanish history so much??? it's so interesting and there is so much religious overlap which you can still see the impacts of today.*

I would definitely recommend just walking through the city, the hills and small intertwining streets of Albaicin are so nice to walk around and the views from the top are worth it. Of course I would tell you to visit the Alhambra because it's rife with history and is simply just beautiful to walk through and the views again, it looks like a post card! You can definitely see the Islamic influences first-hand with a variety of Mudejar architecture, the arches, Quran verses carved into wood and intricate tiling. I'm pretty sure they filmed some scenes of Game of Thrones there too. If When I go back, I'll definitely go to the Parque Federico Garcia Lorca, a place created in memory of him after he was shot  in the city by Franco's nationalist forces. There is so much to get through! The University is so lovely too and the same style of architecture can be found, it is also said to be one of the best in Spain although I'm not too clued up on their league tables or equivalent.

happy scrolling ;)

view from the hotel room 

I wish I had actually written down what we did each day because I can't remember the specifics at all. I also wish I took some better photos, it's safe to say that my photography two years ago definitely wasn't the most impressive ;) thankfully it's impossible to take a bad photo in such an amazing city.

Andalusia is so overlooked when it comes to Spain (as well as the Basque Country in the North) as people mostly focus on the major cities of Barcelona and Madrid and the coastal cities in the South for the typical brits abroad getaway but I'm urging you to give this crazy historic region a visit- it's cheaper than above said cities and travel between the cities is surprisingly quick and cheap.

Have you ever visited Andalusia (or even Granada)? Does it seem like a place you'd like?