Sunday, 28 October 2018

what i've been #8


It's been a while. The last time I posted on my blog was on the eve of the 'big move' to university, possibly one of the biggest changes in my life thus far. Over a month later, I'm back on here alive and somewhat kicking (the hills here are no joke) to update you all about what has actually been going on in my life since I wrote that bitter-sweet ode to London.

what i've been doing-
Oh god. Where does one even start? I guess a simple answer would be going to university. A more complex one (which is what I'll actually be giving) is a shit tonne of stuff. I've been going to lectures (many of which start at 8am) and subsequently wondering how on earth I managed to wake up at 7am for a full week of school/sixth form, reading many an academic text, trying to decipher 16th century Spanish literature (I honestly did not sign up for this), cooking and actively trying to get my 5 a day in, meeting lots and lots of new people, battling freshers flue, experimenting with my style, going on trips to the beach, carving pumpkins, walking up and down hills, venturing into town, buying £1.50 Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the Forum for charity week, attending many a Latin night and surfing. There's a lot more but I don't want to bore you. My first 6 weeks at university have been strange to say the least and it's been a shock to the system to go back into academia after almost 4 months of summer and relaxation- in fact, I just did a summative Spanish presentation on Hispano-american literature on Thursday which I'm so glad to have gotten out of the way now. 

My dad and sister came over to Exeter last Friday and I think I had the best weekend yet, on Saturday we spent a day at Exmouth and the glorious weather meant that we could actually lie down on the sand *yes, sand!* and take the sun. We had Devonshire ice cream overlooking the sea, took pictures by the brightly coloured beach huts and had a long walk all the way to Orcombe Point where we saw the red cliffs of Devon. I can't wait to experience Exmouth in the summer and actually swim in the ocean and tan. I'll forever be grateful for the proximity to the coast, in London it's around 2 hours by train to get to Brighton which, don't get me wrong, is a fab city but it's very crowded and busy. The next day we went to Aldi to do my food shop, as you do, and then had pizza opposite the Cathedral and then brownies and hot drinks at Boston Tea Party. I've also been surfing which has been really fun. 
what i've been reading/watching-
I've really gotten into Bake Off this year, I only started watching a few weeks ago but it's now my favourite thing to catch up on every Friday night with a hot chocolate in hand. In terms of reading, I guess it's just been stuff related to my course- I have essays on chivalry and how women's work differed to men's work so my reading is very much focussed on that. I also read an article on the conservative 60s and what the right were doing during the left dominated civil right's movement which I really enjoyed- it was such an interesting read. I've read El Estudiante de Salamanca by Espronceda and it's such a great piece of Romantic literature, the ending is a very big shock to the system. I've also been working my way through some of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's works, just out of my own interest, and I would highly recommend Solo vine a hablar for telefono (I only came to use the phone in English) which had a crazy ending that honestly made me gasp.

what i've been listening to- 
Before I came to uni I made a playlist of Moroccan/French songs so I've been listening to that on my way to lectures. Dutch rap slaps as well, especially Moroccan-Dutch songs. You probably already know that I love a bit of reggaeton so I have a whole playlist of Spanish music which I honestly love to dance to whilst I wash dishes/hoover/do laundry/clean my bathroom etc. The instrumental to Jocelyn Flores by XXXTentacion is really nice 'white noise' music with super chilled vibes, I'm also really liking his song SAD! I understand he was a really controversial person but I've been enjoying his song.   I've kinda gone back to my roots and have been into J Cole, Drake and Travis Scott. The 1975 is coming to Exeter in January and I'm so tempted to go and see them play so I've been listening to their older albums. 

what i've been wearing-
This is a new one but clothes are such a big part of who I am. I bought a pair of navy Adidas Gazelle's after stealing my cousin's for the most of the summer and they've started replacing my white superga's (they're barely white tbh) I love how classic they look and they go so well with everything! I also bought two wrap tops a few weeks and I am so in love with them! I've always wanted the white American Apparel Julliard top but then they closed down in the UK which was so annoying. When they reopened their online store, I was so tempted by delivery charges put me off. So, I settled for some from Forever21 and I adore them, they're so flattering and are the perfect basics that go with all my patterned trousers (I have a lot) and high waisted loose leg jeans. My faux leather jacket I bought from Zara in Venice has been practically glued to my body since September, it's the perfect jacket for this in-between weather we're going through. 

what i want-
A pair of flared jeans, I've been seeing them on so many people and my sister, who spent the week with me, has been pushing me to get a pair. My mum will probably laugh at me for wanting a pair because I would literally shriek when she'd try to dress me in them when I was younger, but I mean fashion is a full circle. Another very unjustifiable 'want' is the Doc Marten Jadon boots which are like the 1460's that I already have but just with a platform. There is absolutely no need for me to spend £169 on them when I have a pair that are literally almost the same. Absolutely no need. 

what i've been anticipating-
a DM back from someone...jesus how hard is it!!! It's my reading week right now so I'm really looking forward to taking it a bit easier and catching up on sleep and my reading. I'm going out on Tuesday night and then to a house party for Halloween on Wednesday- I'm planning on going as a widow. My friend Ambra's coming to visit on Friday and we'll be going to Bath on Sunday for a day trip so I'm excited for that. I'm also so excited to go and see Bohemian Rhapsody in cinema, I'm going with a friend who is equally as enthusiastic as I am. Queen's music were the soundtrack to my earlier years so it'll be really nice to gain a bit more insight into their personal and professional lives. It also helps that I have a huge crush on Freddie Mercury. I'm going to Morocco in December which is going to be a first. December is the only time we actually have a whole family holiday as it means both my mum and dad can take time off work as opposed to summer, we usually go to European cities (e.g. Vienna last year) but my cousin's wedding is in mid/late December so we're all going for that. We're planning on either going to Marrakech or Agadir for a few days. It'll be my first time visiting Morocco in the winter so I'm excited to see what it's like. Also, Moroccan weddings are so so grande and extravagant so I'm looking forward to picking my kaftan (I'm thinking emerald green with gold embroidery), getting my hair and makeup done and eating lots of good food. I've gotten the urge to go inter-railing, I'm patiently waiting for the 29th of November so I can apply for the Discover EU pass. I annoyingly didn't get to apply for the first round as I wasn't 18 until late August and the requirements were that you were 18 on the 1st of July. I would love to go travelling in  the summer months- UnJaded Jade has definitely inspired me. I'm considering a quick trip to Barcelona in February too- it's about time I visited and now I have free accommodation (thanks Sofia) I basically have no excuse...

I think I'll leave this post here so I don't bore out with the ins and outs of my life. I'll probably come back and add to this! I hope you enjoyed the little catch up and the photos

How's life been for you? Rant or rave in the comments :)

Saturday, 15 September 2018

A love letter to London

As I write this I am sat on a train on the way to Exeter. My home for the next 3 years (with a year in Spain sandwiched in.)

It felt weird booking these train tickets. Having my parents and sister buy return tickets and myself only a one way. We haven't even arrived and they haven't even left yet but I'm already feeling like I've been thrown into the deep end. I'm more than capable of spending time alone and away from family- this summer alone I spent a total of 41 days without my family whilst I was away in different places. But actually living and studying alone in a new city feels strange. But this post isn't about how much I'm going to miss my family or even my friends. It's about how much I'm going to miss London. The city I was born in and grew up in and the city that has essentially made me into who I am today.

I'm so used to slating it; calling it a soul sucking and depressing place but as my days in the capital dwindle away I'm starting to realise how much I'm going to miss this place. I'm so blessed to call this place my home, to live in an area where Tower Bridge is a 10 minute walk away, 6 if I speedwalk, an area where I can walk to Covent Garden and Oxford street if I really wanted to and get there in under half an hour, the double deckered busses that have served me for the past 18 years and that I've never had to pay to get on, even that god awful Central line service. The Jubilee and Northern lines which whenever I get on, mean that I'm on my way home. The convenience of everything. On the day of the Westminster Bridge attacks, when all public transport was held and roads were blocked I simply walked home. It's been the only way of life I've ever really known- having everything at my disposable and as I count the days till I'm gone I truly understand a) why my parents decided to migrate here and b) the quote "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."

A few days ago I met up with my secondary school friends for the last time before we all parted ways to embark on new adventures from gap years to Biology at Oxford. We walked around Soho under the candy floss coloured skies as the sun was setting and I couldn't help but say "wow, London is actually beautiful." Covent Garden by night, a place that is usually full to the brim of tourists and locals alike was deserted, with a slight hum of people chattering from rooftop bars and alfresco restaurants. We walked around the cobbled streets and appreciated our last time together until Christmas. And that night, walking back to Elephant and Castle where we would all see where the next leg of the night would take us, with a bottle of Bacardi and a litre of coke in hand felt somewhat monumental.

Those who know me will know that I will defend South London till the day I die but walking over Waterloo bridge at night, a journey that would take us from the North side of the river back to our local South felt so bittersweet- as if we were leaving behind our new memories from that evening in central London and returning back to the reality of home. Home where suitcases are strewn across the floor in a failed attempt to pack for the 'big move' They say that walking over Waterloo bridge at night is an almost euphoric experience. Seeing the cities landmarks lit up and the reflection of those lights onto the Thames. I don't know. It does something to you.

So as I get ready to settle into a new city and start a new chapter of my life, I will mourn my departure from my beloved London. The place that I and my dearest friends call home.


Thursday, 6 September 2018

marrakech | مراكش

I wanted to write the title of this post in Arabic as well as English as a way to pay homage to my background and culture. I was in Marrakech almost over two months ago but the experiences that I went through are still fresh in my mind. Like the rest of Morocco, Marrakech was a huge sensory overload- one that can be overwhelming if you've never visited the country or city before. As a Moroccan native, I'd already visited multiple times before with my parents. Despite this, I had never actually done Marrakech the true touristy way. We would always stay far out of the medina and even Gueliz, the new town, favouring resorts and hotels to the hustle and bustle of the medina. We would subsequently spend our days by the pool and only ventured into the city in the evening before escaping back to the Europeanised version of the city.

I wanted to change this.

How could I, out of all people, continue experiencing one of the most vibrant cities in the country through the watered down perspective? Even the European tourists I love criticise so much were getting out there and exploring more than I was. Katie and I spent a few days smack bang in the middle of the Marrakechi medina in an oasis of calm that was Riad Aya (even though we may have gotten henna on the bedsheets and had a whole issue sorting that out afterwards)

I don't know where to start but perhaps summarising it in some bullet points would be a good beginning:

  • crazy, unbearable heat that drenches your backpack straps (which your friend will then have to feel when you alternate) gross but very effective way to bond with someone lol. 
  • 3 hour slots of pure tranquility on a terrace, by the pool and the smell of spf engulfing you. 
  • orange juice. so much orange juice. 
  • warm tones everywhere. and tiles.
  • lush gardens that I still can't wrap my head around- how are they still so green when they're basically in 30 degree + heat for most of the year...
  • questionable cat calling. seriously: lady gaga and shakira? 
  • early breakfasts in the courtyard.
  • haggling. 
  • someone's sleep talking. to this day I don't know who the missing third person was. 
  • visiting all the historical monuments the city has to offer from ruined palaces to tombs.
  • spending 2 hours looking for a place and going through some sketchy places only to realise you literally walked past the entrance before. I even looked and read the signs but still missed it. 
  • a lost phone in the middle of the medina- miraculously still there and actually got it back.
  • (after paying 50 dirhams because the hustle don't stop) 
  • wild roads. if you don't cross, you never will. those cars will not stop. 
  • a whole load of languages. 
  • random garages filled with watermelons. and a sleepy vendor beside them. 
  • getting the best seat in a restaurant, looking at the menu and realising it's much more overpriced than you thought, feeling too awkward to just get up and leave, pretending to get a call from someone and loudly declaring that you're on your way down just so you can avoid confrontation with the staff. then assuring yourselves that you don't owe that restaurant anything. 
  • 3 hour car journeys to the waterfall (mostly spent asleep) 
  • navigating the souks- thanks Katie. 
  • a nose bleed and banged heads. what a day...
  • the constant drumming in the main square. 
  • finally learning the word for stamps in Arabic (it'sتنابر btw) 
  • going straight up the terrace as soon as we got in late at night to just lay down and talk. 
  • wondering what on earth a group of lads could be doing in Marrakech (?!) 
  • borrowed wonky sunglasses. 
  • cats!!! 
  • buying a ridiculous amount of 1 litre bottles of water. 
  • forcibly drinking mint tea because you don't want your friend to miss out on the experience. 
  • "excuse me miss can I have [your] snapchat?" 
After reading through this bullet point list, I think that it encompasses my time in Marrakech perfectly. A collection of fast paced events that have made this trip one that I'll never forget. 

And I don't know if it's strange to thank the person you travelled with for, you know, travelling with you, but I can firmly say that having experienced Marrakech (and Ouzoud) with Katie has made it even more memorable. So here's to internet friends/pen pals turned travel buddies. I hope we have many more trips together. 


Thursday, 30 August 2018

the makeup that made my summer

As summer draws to a close, I thought I'd share the a few of the makeup bits that saw me through my favourite season. I always give so many parts of myself to the summer that when the sun starts to hide behind clouds more frequently and the evening breeze escalates to a chill, I've lost those parts of me completely and feel lighter and emptier. However, as I said in my last post about turning 18 and how my blog will always serve as a constant for me, a few products that I used religiously during the hot days will also act as that reminder of some of my happiest days. The reminder of the long, sun drenched days where I'd apply highlighter generously and pile on lip plumper like no tomorrow. A reminder of the terracotta terrace and the white and blue buildings. A reminder of the wide windows I would sit in front of every day after a day at the beach with my once salty hair up in a white towel and argan oil slathered on my face to quell the dehydration from the sun and the salt. It seems almost superficial to say that these few makeup products carry so much of these summer memories but they were truly a part of my day to day routine and now that I'm back in grey old London, picking up that liquid liner reminds me of doing the exact same thing a few weeks earlier.

I actually kicked of my summer with Soap and Glory, decorating doughnuts in a store just off Shaftsbury avenue. I received this package filled with makeup whilst I was away in Venice and used it as a way to soften the blow of returning from the beautiful Italian city. Hey, you might be leaving this venetian heaven but at least you'll be greeted with some new makeup. Life is all about bargaining with yourself.

Supercat liner pen*

I love a good liquid liner, more so when it's a felt tip as it makes application so much easier. I routinely lined my eyes into a quaint lil wing every evening. As someone with eyes that more or less disappear when smiling or laughing having a solid flick really helps to open up my eyes a bit more. It also makes me look and feel infinitely more put together. I wish it was more long lasting though, it may've just been the heat but I found that by the end of the day my wing had more or less smudged into nothing.

Archery DIY brow bar*

To be honest I don't do much to my brows other than brush some tinted brow gel through them. I absolutely love the cream highlighter and even use it on my cheekbones instead of my regular highlighter. In terms of the two brow powders and the wax, I have actually started using the darker powder to fill in sparse areas- I seem to have a natural slit in my right brow which is so inconvenient so using some brow powder to fill it in does the job perfectly. The brow wax is also very useful for keeping everything in place. 

Sexy motherpucker lip plumping gloss*

Firstly, let us appreciate the witty name of this product. I managed to convert the majority of my cousins to this whilst I was back in Morocco. Aside from the fact it smells like M&M world, this plumping gloss actually does what it says on it's very shiny packaging. I like wearing it with a brick red lip stick which I lightly dab on to give the whole 'just ate a strawberry ice lolly' effect. It doesn't feel sticky at all and is surprisingly hydrating. I'm actually quite a fan of the tingling sensation too. If I say I like the stinging, they will call me a crackhead. 

Sexy motherpucker 'Super Nude' lipstick* 

I'm not the biggest nude lipstick wearer at all, they don't suit my skin tone and wash me out. I'm much more of a red lipstick wearer whether that be a more muted shade or a full hollywood glam moment. In an attempt to convert myself to the realm of nude lipsticks I tried this with a brown liner but again, I just don't think that nude shades are the most flattering on me. The packaging is beautiful and I've read nothing but songs of praise about this lipstick so it's definitely not you, it's me. 

So those are some of the products that made my summer. There's a lot of others but I wanted to make this post brand focussed as Soap and Glory were kind enough to send me these. I think I'll do a part 2 as I have a few other makeup bits that I used throughout the months and they definitely deserve some airtime on here too. 

What makeup products made your summer?

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

18 | growing up

It's my birthday! 

I'm not going to sit here and spew out an optimistic and overly positive blog post because I just don't think it's realistic. I'm sure everyone has some sour feelings towards their birthday, more so when it's a milestone one. I've always been a crier on my birthday. In fact, I cried for almost 3 hours today as I sat at home alone whilst the majority of my family are still in Morocco and my dad is at work. I've always been a crier. If you look through old photo albums meticulously labelled 'Dalal's 2nd birthday' or 'Dalal's 6th birthday' in my mum's handwriting, you will find at least one photo of me red faced, puffy eyed, mouth open and tears streaming. I don't know what it is but the whole welcoming of a new year and the inevitable shift as you grow older is always lingering, even when I was as young as 2. I don't like change. Not at all. I had my tarot reading done and it solidified that I like to have a constant. Now that I'm turning 18, I want to scrabble and grip onto that last bit of childhood until my knuckles are white and trembling from the sheer force of it all. I want to cling onto security, a life of little to no responsibilities and the infantile nature of it all. It doesn't help that I don't drink so not even getting pissed off my nut is an incentive to welcome this whole adulthood thing. Keeping it real.

But in a time of frantic and desperate attempts to hold onto something that so widely signifies comfort, I realised that I have a lot of other 'constants' in my life. Whilst being a minor has passed me by, my blog serves as a true constant in my life. I started this blog at the tender age of 12, in the awkward pre-teen and very ready to turn into a teenager (pfffft) and lovingly organised my baby lips in accordance to the rainbow before snapping them for my blog with my iPod touch that I'd received in the summer of year 7. Whilst things have, thankfully, changed, I guess what I want to state is that my blog has been with me since the beginning of the years that really counted for me. The years that have shaped me into the newly 18 year old person I am today. I know that no matter how long of a break I take, how good or bad life gets or just how busy I am, my blog will still be there. The blinking cursor waiting for the pads of my fingers to hit the keys. And when letters start to turn into words and then words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and I finally sign off with a question and my name and hit publish, I will know that this place is mine and I can always come back to it.

I could say the same with family and friends. They too are yet another constant in my life. I will always have my family and I will always have my, albeit small, group of widely spread friends. I don't think I'll talk much about this subject now though.

So whilst this is essentially a post declaring 'WOO I'M A LEGAL ADULT NOW JUST THOUGHT YOU'D LIKE TO KNOW' it's also there to show myself, more than anything, that my life is still going to be the same. I'm the same, growing person with the same family, the same friends and the same fraction of the internet that is legally mine. I'll still do my hair the same and still apply bronzer badly. A change in age will not change any of that. Perhaps enhance it (at least the muddy bronzer...please) but it will never change it for the worse. I just need to remember that.


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

biker jacket for uncool people

This was a rather spur of the moment post. If you saw my instagram story at precisely quarter to 1 in the morning, I randomly messaged a friend who has been one of my most avid blog supporters (you da best) for the past few years and asked if he could shoot some photos for me. And he said yes! So here we are. I thought I'd shoot this outfit that consists of all of my favourite items ever, all smushed into one- each piece has a story behind it!

The whole get up gives me some serious Lucy Williams vibes, I don't know if it's the linen, leather jacket, straight leg denim or tennis shoes but it definitely exudes those cool girl London vibes that after almost 18 years I still have not mastered. I bought this faux leather jacket from Zara in Venice just a few days ago. It has been something that I've been wanting to purchase for literal years. It's the perfect buttery material and the arms are just right in terms of length (I have crazy long arms) I still remember pouring over one in an airport Zara during a stop-over in Barcelona back in 2012. Just 6 years later, and funnily enough in another foreign country, I finally caved. I tried it on and knew it was the one. A modern day love story.

My jeans on the other hand are a less glamorous story- they are indeed the product of a very humbling period disaster. Never will I wear a pair of light green trousers on the tail-end again. I had to rush to the nearest Zara on King's road and picked up the first pair of jeans I saw, and these mid-wash straight leg jeans were those and were hurriedly purchased. I don't think I had ever changed into a pair of jeans so fast. Aside from saving me on that day, these jeans have been a go-to for me, making that disaster a blessing in disguise.

I was sat on a bench waiting for my friend to come so we could shoot, and as I tried to get up I'd realised that I had sat on freshly chewed gum. So for the rest of the day I was painfully self conscious of the white, minty gum that was chilling behind...these jeans and I have never had a smooth path, clearly.

The white billowy linen shirt from Uniqlo was a birthday gift last summer, I love it so much over a navy turtle neck in the colder months, worn with denim shorts in the heat or like this on those days when the weather is up in the air (ha!) I have a whole post on this amazing lil yellow bag coming up soon...yep I managed to write almost 1,000 words on a bag. I bought it at Stansted airport whilst sleep deprived and hungry. It's small and practical and I've been loving yellow so much lately, making it the perfect addition to sling on and go.

And finally my Superga's. I finally upgraded my shoe game from the same old Vans and New Balances and decided to go for something a bit more classic and 'grown up.' I actually bought two pairs, in navy and white, from Amazon as they were so much cheaper and both pairs actually came up to the price of what one pair would've cost me in store. I love my navy pair so much that I even wore them in that brief snow we had. It was a very stupid thing to do in retrospect lol.

That concludes my debut outfit post. I love getting out and looking for cool locations to shoot outfits- there's nothing funner than looking through them and excitedly uploading them, itching to write.

Jacket- Zara
Jeans- Zara
Shirt- Uniqlo (similar) 
Shoes- Superga
Bag- Accessorize 
Mosquito bites- Model's own 

Thursday, 28 June 2018

summer in madrid

I'm back in London after a few days of what I can only describe as madness.

A mixture of 13km of walking each day, blisters, 37 degree heat, wild tinder dates and warm toned buildings have characterised my time in the Spanish capital.

I fell in love with the city head first, something I had already anticipated beforehand. The feeling of the sun on your skin and the sound of the Spanish language encompassing you had lured me into the whole character of Spanish charm. I'm already looking to book flights back in late August.

I think what I loved the most about the city was how relaxed and laid-back it was. People strolling at a leisurely pace as opposed to the constant rush in London and the overall late scheduling of days was a welcome break from the previous few weeks of exams and fast-paced living. Staying out until the early hours of the morning just exploring and walking down narrow winding streets had become routine and I hate that it's not something you can do back here in London because a) the streets here are nowhere near as beautiful, literally not even on the scale of Madrid's and b) it's definitely not safe.

Madrid doesn't have any main tourist attractions unlike other European cities which made it so much more enjoyable as I didn't feel like I had to do certain things- further adding to the relaxed and loose style of living there. I went out with two guys I met on tinder, mainly for touristic purposes as opposed to romantic ones. I felt like it was the best way to be toured around, by a real Madrileño, and also get a friendship or love interest out of it. Although one night did end up in a club with foam being thrown around. Not an innuendo. When alone, I used the Plaza Mayor as my base and explored the different 'barrios' of the city from Malasaña and Chueca to Salamanca and La Latina. It's crazy how different each of these neighbourhoods are. I was also lucky to experience the religious festival of San Juan. A huge float with candles, gold decorations and a statue of what seemed to be the Virgin Mary was being carried by about 50 men or 'costaleros' which was so interesting to see as I had literally learnt about this stuff in lessons and to see it materialise was slightly surreal.

I must say there's something about small balconies donning cascading flowers and bright Spanish flags that has earned a special place in my heart. When I move to Madrid (speaking it into existence) I will definitely adorn by lil balcony with both decorations- although I'll find a way to hang up a Moroccan flag as well, obvs.

The Retiro Park was amazing and made me realise that I should probably take advantage of Hyde Park at home too because something about large green spaces in the middle of a busting city is very calming. They have a massive crystal palace which, aside from literally leading you to overheat because it's basically a huge greenhouse, was stunning. There's also a huge lake where you can hire a small rowing boat for a couple of euros which was such a great way to wind down after a long day. If I lived in the city, I would definitely spend my Sundays rowing on a lake, as you do.

My love of history and Spain in general were heightened whilst in Madrid. The Plaza Mayor was the site of the Spanish Inquisition, the Almudena cathedral whose name derives from the Arabic word 'al mudayna' which shows clear Muslim ties and also has 3 facades in neo-gothic, neo-classical and neo-romanesque styles, the statue of admiral Alvaro de Bazan at Plaza de la Villa commemorating his aid in Habsburg success at the Battle of Pavia, the actual tower (Torre de los Lujanes) where Francis I was held hostage (along with his two sons) after that battle and his subsequent agreement to the Treaty of Madrid...I could go on. Whilst I absolutely despised the Charles V and his wars with the Valois dynasty and the Ottoman empire part of my A-level course, it was amazing to be able to trace Habsburg history during this trip- something I wish I had done more of in Vienna which was also a Habsburg stronghold.

I'm going to shut up and stop gushing about this place because a gal's gotta start packing for her next trip. I took hundreds of photos throughout this trip (including a few on my disposable camera) I think I may include the rest of them in a Madrid travel guide as posts on things to do in the city are so scarce (due to the fact that Barcelona and Seville basically overshadow Madrid)

I feel like no other trip can top this one to Madrid- it has definitely set the bar high- I've clearly fallen head over heels for the city and I truly cannot wait to get myself there permanently in the future. It has set the bar very high indeed.

Hasta luego Madrid volveré muy pronto, no te preocupes. 


*A few people have commented saying that they're planning on visiting Madrid so I thought I'd mention that I have a full itinerary I made prior to visiting. Feel free to email me at and I'll send it over!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

what I've been... #7

"hey babe, no no no I swear it's not what you think it is...I can make it up to you"

After breaking up with my blog almost 2 months ago, I'm back and (hopefully) more faithful than ever! It felt like being forcefully ripped away from a child but when compulsory education exams call, you've got to answer.

I thought it was only right to write one of these mammoth update posts. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote one of these in April.

what i've been doing-
Sitting my final a-level exams. And now they're all done, 9 exams later! It feels so strange to have finally gotten them done, it has been something I've been anticipating since the start of sixth form, more so in the few months before they actually started. A brief break down of how they went: Spanish went quite well, History went okay too and then Biology was absolutely shambolic and I can firmly say that I despise OCR. Every single day was just a cycle of revision and I was honestly so over it lol. 

Onto more exciting things...what have I been doing? Honestly it's just been revision (maybe next months "what I've been" will be much more exhilarating) Oh, I decided that I will take a gap year next year, pretty big life decision I know. Mostly because I forgot to apply for Student Finance and I just don't want to go to my firm nor my insurance choice either. I feel like my university application process was incredibly rushed last year, all for the sake of my Oxford application which needed to be sent off in the second week of October, so I had no time to actually go on open days- instead I applied to each place very blindly. I mean, I didn't even know what exact course I wanted to do until mid-September! So if you're approaching the university application process, the best piece of advice I'd give to you is: do not rush it. And if it doesn't go to plan, don't sweat it...there's always next year. 

You might have seen on my twitter but you know how people say that certain things that follow you around are a sign or an omen? I'VE BEEN SEEING "THE KISS" by Gustav Klimt everywhere. It's mostly in just fleeting moments but it's honestly the strangest thing ever. I first saw it in Vienna and since April I've been seeing it on the bus, in people's blog posts, on tumblr, twitter etc. I don't know what it could mean but it's so strange. I see it at least once a day now. If it's a sign of potential love interest then I shall accept it with open arms lol.

what i've been reading/watching-
Textbooks and revision guides. I have had no time to read on my own accord but I'm so excited to finally be able to do so now. I'm planning on hitting up a few people for book recommendations for the summer. I have a list of TV shows to watch as long as my arm (and I have *very* long limbs) so I'm planning on getting through those. La Casa de Papel is at the top of that list after multiple close occasions of me almost caving in and watching it but thankfully I restrained myself as last year I ended up using my study leave to watch OITNB and it did not go down well.

After coming home yesterday and having no idea what to do with myself, I decided to watch a Moroccan film called "Much Loved" which is about 4 prostitutes in Marrakech and it follows how they are treated by a, admittedly developing albeit very traditional, Moroccan society. It also explored the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals as well which is unheard of in such a society. In one scene, a woman and her transexual friend spoke about Spain and illegally immigrating there and it was so moving as he began imagining "being able to be yourself and express yourself without an Arab man looking at you and giving you trouble just for being who you are." It really solidified the struggle of women and LGBTQ+ people in North African countries where Islam and conservative societal ideals are still rife and homosexuality is still illegal. I would definitely recommend it to you however there are a few triggering scenes

what i've been listening to-
My own tears and my mum telling me "it's okay, there's always next year" 

yeah those exams broke me. 

too soon?

what i want-
Everything that has polka dots on it. I sound 5. I really love that print. So much so I bought two polka dot dresses on a whim. Ooooops.

I've weirdly gotten into the world of makeup lately, after 4 months of looking absolutely horrendous I feel like it's finally time to invest in my appearance...doesn't sound conceited at all. Fenty beauty's gloss bomb is calling my name, as well as a few bits from Nars (it's going to go down at duty free/sephora) Glossier have brought out a new cloud paint but I'm slightly hesitant because I've already found an alternate blush, which is actually a deep red lipstick no one uses, and it's pretty good. I've also been loving bronzer, it takes me from looking sallow to alive. Winner. 

what i've been anticipating-
A gap year (but I'm still not 100% sure, this is the life of a serially indecisive person) In terms of precise gap year plans, I have zero. I'm hoping to use the end of summer and most of September to visit university open days and then possibly get my application done by October. Thankfully I already had the experience of writing a personal statement last year so it won't be as daunting this year. I'm hoping I can just change my last paragraph of it to speak about gap year plans and perhaps put a bigger emphasis on the Spanish part of my potential degree course because as we've come to see, I bloody LOVE that language and I didn't give it much air-time in my predominantly history based personal statement last year. That would be so much more convenient and stress-free than having to write a completely new one. 

Whilst university is being applied for, I'll be working (woo) to save up some money. I'm not planning on embarking on a typical 'gap yah' travel expedition and thankfully Katie has shown me that it's not always the sole path to go down. What I really want to do is travel around Morocco, discovering new parts of my homeland and also improving my French and Arabic (but French especially because my speaking is sub-par...very embarrassing) There are so many cities I want to discover, Morocco is such a diverse country with different landscapes from heavy snow and skiing in Ifrane to the Sahara Desert in the South. Visiting small Amazigh ("berber") villages is on the top of my list. I would also like to do smaller trips too, Lisbon has been on my radar for the last couple of months now and also some central European places too. My gravitation towards Spain is already known on here so I will not bore you with details. 

I'm going to Madrid in less than 24 hours which seems crazy because I've been awaiting this trip for months now. As I booked it for a day after my exams, it always seemed so far away and out of reach with me having to undergo the hurdles of exams to finally reach it and now I have done just that! I'm so ready for all the tapas, the sun on my skin, long evenings and narrow cobbled streets. I bought a disposable camera yesterday (something about these £5 cameras basically signify that summer is here) so I can't wait to use that tomorrow as well as in Venice, Marrakech and Casablanca. I have a whole brain dump about my excitement for summer travelling here!

I think that's it! I've updated you guys on everything, I'm sure this wasn't the most exciting post to read ha, but it's a reflection of my life for the time I've been gone. Meh.

I'll be back with a blog post from Brighton and of course other travel posts from this summer and some other lifestyle content.

What have you been up to? Any summer plans? Leave them below!

*there are some rape and sexual harassment scenes in the film. 

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