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A Few Of My Favourite Things About Madrid

Having spent months living in Madrid during my year abroad, I definitely fell in love with the city. I thought it would be interesting to share a few a favourite of my aspects and places in the city!

  • La Plaza de Cebada, La Latina – I had heard so much about the edginess of Madrid; the youth, the flea markets, the cool cocktail bars etc. La Plaza de Cebada was my first taste of this, having visited the first time on a Sunday, it was full of young people like me. There was live music, cold beers on sale for €1 and really cool graffiti everywhere. It was super chilled, and a really good place to relax on a Sunday afternoon. Take the metro to La Latina and you’ll find it straight away – super cool, ‘edgier’ area.
  • La Bicicleta Café – Malasaña in general is one of my favourite areas of Madrid: home to the best tapas restaurants, cocktail bars and book shops. Having mentioned cocktail bars, La Bicicleta is definitely my favourite in Madrid. My usual order being the red fruits mojito, it’s definitely the best place in Madrid to people watch, drink cocktails and listen to some really good music – a mixture of Spanish and English. It’s usually filled with young people, of all different cultures, and a great place to socialise. There’s usually a long wait for a table/space, being that it is so popular, but it is definitely worth the wait.

  • El Teleférico de Madrid – Having caught the metro to Casa de Campo and walked all the way to the top of the hills to catch the teleférico (cable car) to the city centre (Templo de Debod), I can safely advise you all to not do this. In the heat, and definitely the wrong footwear, I was exhausted by the time I reached the top. But the teleférico was absolutely gorgeous, you could see the whole of Madrid, the views were stunning. I would recommend walking to the the Templo de Debod (you can navigate your way from Plaza de España metro station) and take a return journey to the top of Casa De Campo and back again – the views are incredible.
  • Casa de Campo – Speaking of Casa de Campo, how could I not include this area? Being on the same line as Casa de Campo is amazing, as if I’m ever feeling bored of the city, of business and traffic, it’s easy to escape to the somewhat countryside. Casa de Campo is almost entirely rural, with huge parks and gravel pathways allowing you to wander through the trees and escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Madrid. (I sound like a travel guide, don’t I?) But seriously, it is a super tranquil, calm area to relax. Also, the theme park and zoo of Madrid are at the bottom of the hill in Casa de Campo, so if that’s more your thing, or if you even just have a fondness for nature, this is definitely an area for you.
  • La Azotea del Círculo de Bellas Artes – This was one of the first places I ever visited in Madrid – the rooftop bar at el Círculo de Bellas Artes. We made the effort to visit it at sunset, and though it was extremely busy, it was absolutely stunning to watch the sunset behind the Madrid skyline. It costs €4 to go up, but it is so worth it. A popular spot for sunset watching, there are tables, sun-loungers and comfy corners to relax and watch the skies.
  • Cuatro Torres – maybe this is one of the more boring ones? But I know that when I see the Cuatro Torres, I’m home. Whether that’s coming out of Chamartín train station after a journey to another part of Spain, or landing on the runway in terminal one and just seeing the towers in the distance after a visit to England or Portugal – you know you’re back in Madrid when you see them. The four towers are made up of Torre Espacio, Torre de Cristal, Torre Pwc and Torre Cepsa. They represent the business district, wealth and overall luxuriousness of such an amazing city, and when I see them, I instantly feel at home.
  • La Rosadela de El Retiro – the Retiro in general, is one of my most favourite places in Madrid: it’s beautiful, and there is so much going on. There can be yoga in one corner, live music in another, and even birthday parties going on. But my favourite part of the Retiro (aside from the Palacio de Cristal – a must see!) is La Rosadela: the rose garden. Walking under the archways of roses into the garden thats filled with all the colours of the rainbow in rose form, fountains and lines and lines of flowers is stunning! In a cosmopolitan city that is constantly bustling, visiting the quiet of the rose garden and ambling through at your own pace is refreshing.
  • El Edificio Metrópolis – in English, the Metropolis building, is my favourite building in all of Madrid. It is the first building that stuck in my memory during my first few days of living here, I am so in love with it. You can see a beautiful view of it from La Azotea del Círculo de Bellas Artes which I wrote about earlier in this post. On the corner of Calle de Alcalá and Gran Vía, and inspired by French architecture, it really is one of the most spectacular and famous views in Madrid.

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Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

The first time I wrote about Milk & Honey was in the first ever edition of my Wishlist series, which you can read by clicking here. There was much hype surrounding the book, the implications and meanings of the poetry and almost every female within a 30 mile radius had this book in hand. Shortly after writing my wishlist post, I actually went on to buy the book. I’ve had it for a few months now, and read and re-read it I would say over ten times. I have completely fallen in love with Kaur’s prose, but I didn’t want to write a post on the book until I felt completely compelled to: until I understood the meanings and intentions behind her work, and until I felt like I could do the book justice. I think the time has come!

Firstly, I want to comment on the appearance of the book, how beautiful is the cover? I suppose it’s arguable that the book itself doesn’t affect the content: ‘do not judge a book by it’s cover’ etc, but it just looks so super pretty on my bookshelf. It had a matte black cover which feels so luxurious, and the monochrome colour scheme with a hint of honey-gold is both appropriate and gorgeous. I know it doesn’t affect the skill of Kaur’s words and the effect they have on the reader, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as a beautiful, well constructed book.

While on the topic of appearance, I’d also like to comment on the illustrations of the book. They aren’t the epitome of art; they aren’t super detailed, but they are functional, simple, and through this, become skilful and almost beautiful. The way in which the images seem to be hand-drawn almost with a ballpoint pen, makes the words even more relatable to everyday life, makes the pages adaptable to your own personal situations. Much like her words, the images are so simple that they take on their own beauty.

But now for the actual book itself: the ‘poetry.’ I quote the word ‘poetry’ because I’m not sure how far to argue that Kaur’s words do classify in this genre. Of course, the words themselves are not a novel, they do not progress into a storyline of such, but they do not seem to follow a metric, they do not form a conventional form of poetry. I’ve read much critique of Kaur’s work because of this, but isn’t this what makes the book unique, beautiful? The simplicity of her words and the uncomplicated nature of the structure, for me, is what makes the book so special. She is unapologetically brutal, she doesn’t miss a beat, and she talks of her themes with the utmost candour. For this, I have the utmost respect for Rupi Kaur. Anyone who is planning on reading this book should be aware of triggering topics such as sexual abuse and rape, topics of which she is very frank about. Her frankness and openness about such topics, are what make her a bold and incredible writer.

The book is split into four parts: The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking and The Healing. It becomes almost a process; a cycle that I’m sure every woman has experienced or will experience at least once in her life. I love every part just as much as each other but I would say that The Healing is my favourite, it’s both empowering and reassuring. Below I have left some of my favourite quotes from each section. I fully recommend purchasing this book and giving it a read, you won’t be disappointed.

The Hurting

‘A daughter should not have to beg her father for a relationship’ (28)

‘I was made heavy: half blade and half silk, difficult to forget and not easy for the mind to follow’ (30)

‘the thing about having an alcoholic parent is an alcoholic parent doesn’t exist, simply an alcoholic who could not stay sober long enough to raise their kids’ (39)

‘you tell me quiet down cause my opinions make me less beautiful, but I was not made with a fire in my belly so I could be put out’ (30)

The Loving

‘I want to be so complete I could light a whole city and then I want to have you cause the two of us combined could set it on fire’ (59)

‘You might not have been my first love but you were the love that made all the other loves irrelevant’ (63)

‘you look like you smell of honey and no pain, let me have a taste of that’ (66)

‘how do you turn a forest fire like me so soft I turn into running water’ (65)

The Breaking

‘don’t mistake salt for sugar: if he wants to be with you he will, it’s that simple’ (85)

‘I didn’t leave because I stopped loving you, I left because the longer I stayed the less I loved myself’ (95)

‘I am a museum full of art but you had your eyes shut’ (100)

‘I had to leave, I was tired of allowing you to make me feel anything less than whole’ (107)

‘You cannot leave me and have me too, I cannot exist in two places at once – when you ask if we can still be friends’ (136)

The Healing

‘Loneliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself’ (153)

‘If you were born with the weakness to fall, you were born with the strength to rise’ (156)

‘fall in love with your solitude’ (161)

‘your body is a museum of natural disasters, can you grasp how stunning that is?’ (173)

‘the world gives you so much pain and here you are making gold out of it – there is nothing purer than that’ (185)

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A Few Ways In Which Blogging Helps Me

My blog is around 6 months old now, and ever since starting my blog, I haven’t looked back. I’ve been enjoying writing about things that I love, taking photographs and putting them out on my blog, and in general, meeting really love people who also share the same love for blogging! I thought I’d dedicate a little post to a few ways in which blogging has really helped me since I took the plunge and started posting those few 6 months ago!

  • Creativity: being someone who studies a fairly academic subject at university (modern foreign languages), I often found myself really wanting to discover a creative outlet. I hadn’t found anything that motivated me enough, that kept my interest enough, but with blogging I found this to be entirely different. The realms of blogging are limitless, you can write about whatever you like, and I really enjoy building my own platform, and find myself writing about everything that I love in so many different creative ways. From taking photographs, to writing, to figuring out the graphics for my blog, blogging gives me the creative outlet and break from my academic university life.
  • Hobby: I am someone who always has to be doing something. I cannot sit still, and even when I’m not studying for university or doing something which I am obliged to do, I always want to be doing something. Blogging fills that void, it’s something I enjoy doing when I have spare time, it fills the moments when I’m not studying, but at the same time is something which is relaxing enough to not be too much of a strain. I always feel better after I have powered out a blog post or two.
  • Inspiration: blogging has introduced me to many different things, namely books. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I cannot stop reading, ever! I always have to be reading something, whether that be thousands of pages of classic novels, or a cheesy romance book from the 90s, I always have to have a book in my hand. I read a lot of book-blogs and have been inspired to branch out and read many other new books from different genres that I never would have read previously! Aside from that, I’ve derived cooking inspiration, beauty and fashion inspiration and even ways in which to improve my foreign languages. Like I said before, the realms are endless.
  • Confidence: As some of you may know, I really love to take photographs. I’ve written many posts about it before, but I love taking photographs and printing them out. I never really had much confidence in the quality of my photographs, I just kind of took them and hoped for the best! But since putting my photographs on my blog, I’ve had so much positive feedback that it’s given me confidence in that taking photographs is a worthwhile hobby. The same applies to my writing, I have tried to start blogs in the past, but always deleted them in the thoughts that my writing wasn’t good enough. Positive feedback on this site has given me much more confidence in that I am not actually too bad at expressing myself!

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Saudade

saudade
saʊˈdɑːdə/
a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent
yearnings, saudades, those sonorous fruits grown for overripe hearts”
While my time living in Portugal is over, and in fact my time living abroad is over, I miss Coimbra every single day. It was a city that grew to be my home, a place that I felt welcomed, comfortable and very much happy! The Portuguese have a word – saudade – which is used to refer to a type of yearning, a type of longing as such, which doesn’t directly translate into English. It is my favourite word of all languages, not just Portuguese, because I think the meaning it holds and its unique Portuguese nature is beautiful. During my time in Coimbra, ESN (the Erasmus network at A Universidade de Coimbra) told us ‘aprende-se dizer saudade’ (learn to say saudade). I never really understood, but now I do. I’ve learnt to say saudade, because I love Coimbra, and I miss it so much, but going back wouldn’t feel the same: it wouldn’t be the same without the season, the friends, the atmosphere. But Coimbra was and still is one of my favourite places in the world, and I want to go back and visit soon. Here are a few photographs that I took in Portugal to look back on my time spent there, as I sit in rainy old England preparing for my final year of my Bachelors Degree!
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5 Great Netflix Documentaries

Aside from binge watching series and romantic comedies when I feel like I need a good old laugh and a cry, Netflix is a really good source of amazing documentaries. Apart from obviously learning something, they’re super entertaining, and there is a range of many topics. I thought it would make an interesting post, to mention just a few of the documentaries that interested me:

  • Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1992): aside from Werner Herzog, Nick Broomfield is definitely my favourite documentary maker. Often producing content for the BBC, he seems to explain things and explore events in such an in-depth way yet still keeps the audience gripped, and entertained. He has made two documentaries about Aileen Wuornos, aside from this one, he has created ‘Aileen Wuornos: Life and Death of a Serial Killer.’ In both of these documentaries, he explores Aileen’s life and crimes, based on the differing quotes she gives to interviewers that changed during her time behind bars. I found an insight into her mind and thought process so interesting, and I think he executed it so well.
  • Kurt & Courtney (1998): another documentary by Nick Broomfield, (can you tell I love his documentaries yet?). This one is super interesting, because when discussing Kurt Cobain, there is a lot of focus on the conspiracy of his death, but this documentary also includes the exploration of his relationship with Courtney, and also his family and friends. It feels a lot more personal and I felt as though a lot more of Kurt was revealed aside from the tragedy that was his suicide. For anyone who loves music and likes documentaries like this as I do, Nick Broomfield also created a documentary about Biggie and Tupac, which I also believe is on Netflix. I’ve watched that one too, and it’s pretty good.
  • Amanda Knox (2016): a documentary about the murder of Meredith Kercher in Italy in 2007, surrounding Amanda Knox: the main suspect in the crime. The most interesting part of this, for me, was that Amanda Knox was interviewed for the documentary. So was her boyfriend at the time of the crime, and the police investigators involved in solving the crime. I think the documentary gave all sides of the argument, and I was absolutely gripped from start to finish. It includes perspectives of family members, investigators, the press and the suspect herself, and I think that it’s a really well executed, structured documentary. I actually watched this during my own year abroad, which I can say was a big mistake!
  • BBC Earth Series: somebody needs to hand David Attenborough a crown and a throne, he’s definitely a national treasure, and I absolutely adore him. I love this documentary series: Planet Earth, Africa, Frozen Planet, I think they’re all amazing. My personal favourite is Africa, I loved learning about big cats, elephants, giraffes etc. I love watching these series when I need to relax, David Attenborough’s voice is so soothing, and for any other animal lovers like me, these documentaries are right up your alley.
  • A Conversation With Gregory Peck (1999): I’ve written many times before about my love for old films, in posts such as 6 Great Films From The 1950’s and I even mentioned ‘Roman Holiday’ (my favourite Gregory Peck film) in My Top 5 Audrey Hepburn Films post. I absolutely adore Gregory Peck, and so when I saw this documentary on Netflix, I grabbed a huge cup of tea and watched it straight away. I think the documentary does a great job at conveying his true charisma, his charming nature, and his gentleman personality. I loved listening to him telling stories about his time as an actor, his filming with the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren, and I absolutely loved the insight into his family life, too. For any other old Hollywood lovers, or just Gregory Peck fans, this is a great watch.

    Disclaimer: all photos used in this post were taken from weheartit.

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6 Similarities Between Madrid & Manchester

Having lived in Manchester for two years, and spent a lot of time there growing up, I would say I know the city quite well. Having lived in Madrid for five months, maybe I know it less so, but it got me to thinking how Manchester and Madrid differ, how they are alike, and what elements they have in common. When it comes down to it, there are a few ways in which the cities are similar to each other, and I thought it’d make an interesting read!

  • Unique, quirky areas: Manchester is renowned for its Northern Quarter, where you can find an edgy vintage shop selling reconditioned denim on one corner, and a cocktail bar selling drinks of all strange concoctions and creations on the opposite. Madrid has areas like this too, such as Lavapiés which is an area made up of mainly immigrants, so if you want to sample some real, authentic and extremely tasty food from differing cultures, this is definitely the place to go. There are also eccentric little cocktail bars here, not unlike the ones in La Latina. You could even take the metro to Tribunal and wander in the surrounding area, where you’ll find amazing street art similar to that of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and where, most like Manchester, you can find groups of bloggers taking photographs with the oh-so-edgiest of graffitied walls and authentic houses.
  • Football: football is such a big part of Manchester culture. Derby day is horrific for anyone who needs to pass through the city centre, use the metrolink or in fact any of the public transport systems. But theres something uniting and powerful about being apart of a football team, and in Madrid, it’s much the same as Manchester United vs. Manchester City. The city is divided into two: Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. The city experiences the same excitement and the same anticipation on match days, and it reminds me a lot of Manchester’s love for football.
  • The LGBT community: it makes my heart burst with pride to walk around Manchester and see such support for the LGBT community. It’s common to see stickers/posters and other such materials popped around the city in support of the community, and Manchester is home to one of Britain’s largest ‘Gay Villages’ – Canal Street. I love nights out on Canal Street, and similarly Madrid has Chueca, their equivalent ‘Gay Community.’ The metro station is my favourite thing, clad in all colours of the rainbow. Nights out there seem to rival that of Canal Street, and Madrid’s support and acceptance of the LGBT community is both similar to that of Manchester’s, and also heart-warming.
  • The student atmosphere: Manchester is home to six universities, plus more subject-specific college centres, and so the city is absolutely full of students. Being an undergraduate student at the University of Manchester, I can fully comply with the thousands of articles that brand Manchester as the best UK student city, the atmosphere is incredible, and also very comfortable for young people moving away from home for study. Madrid is home to at least 15 universities, some of them international, public, private: there is such a huge range. Like Manchester, the city is full of students, and gives off the same exciting, comfortable feel for both home and international students. There’s nothing quite like it.
  • Shopping: one thing I adore about Manchester? The shopping. The Trafford Centre is my saviour – it has everything I need, in one place. It even has cocktail bars, and a place to eat sushi. Literally, what more could I ask for? Aside from The Trafford Centre, Manchester city centre is unreal too: the Arndale has a Topshop superstore, and besides that, there is a huge, 5-floor Selfridges too. You couldn’t want for anything in Manchester, because everything you’ll need is there! Madrid is much the same, from Fuencarral and Gran Vía to The Style Outlets and Plaza Norte in northern Madrid, you really cannot ask for much more. Madrid is home to one of the biggest Primark superstores in Europe, and on the opposite end of the scale, you can find boutiques with handmade clothes tucked away in the streets of Tribunal. Like I said, everything you could need.
  • Food: Manchester is home to some of the most amazing food places: from Almost Famous to Home Sweet Home, from Rosso to Panama Hatty’s, whatever type of cuisine you’re looking for, Manchester has something for everyone! Madrid is much the same, as previously mentioned, Lavapiés is home to some amazing Indian restaurants, amongst other amazing cuisines. If it’s traditional, authentic Spanish tapas you’re after: visit Tribunal. And if you’re looking for a tasty brunch on a Sunday morning, Federal has eggs benedict that is worthy of rivalling that of Manchester’s Moose Coffee. You won’t be disappointed!

Disclaimer: all images, if not my own, are taken from weheartit.

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The Blogging Bucket List

Having started my blog in December 2016, I was unsure if I would continue. I wasn’t confident in my writing, nor that my blog would even gain any attention. Alas, here I am, some months later, and I find myself really enjoying blogging more than I ever thought that I would! I thought it would be both entertaining and self-motivating to write a post on my aims and ambitions for the future of my blog!

  • To go self-hosted: I must admit, I’m not even too sure what this entails. But having read a little on the wordpress site about upgrading to a premium blog, I very much like the idea. I like the idea of having my own domain, and it seems that there would be much more support with regards to themes and graphics of my blog. I think that going self-hosted, though I understand is much more work, gives a professional edge to your blog.
  • New graphics/theme: I especially would like a new header image, and layout to my blog. I used an amateur site to create my own header, and I use a custom wordpress theme. While I like both of these – I feel they’re true to me, and I’m proud considering I know nothing about creating a theme! – I want to upgrade the look of my blog, for it to be more minimal, monochrome, sleek. I’m not sure how to go about that,  but it’s definitely on my wishlist!
  • An increase of following: I feel that ‘bloggers’ are apprehensive to discuss the issue of followers, but of course, like everyone, I’d like to gain more. I would like my writing to be good enough to gain more attention, more recognition, and I would like it to interest more people. I’d like to be more relatable to more people and thus gaining a larger following.
  • An increase of book posts: as some of you may have previously read, I enjoy writing posts about books, reading. It’s my biggest hobby: I collect books, I read all of the time, and they are the posts I enjoy writing the most. And so I would really love to write more, maybe even creating a series, aside from my ‘5 Great Books I Recently Read series.’
  • A series surrounding Old Hollywood: speaking of series, another passion of mine is Old Hollywood: Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Fred Astaire… the list goes on. I spend so much time watching films with my favourite Old Hollywood actors, that I feel like I need to incorporate this passion into my blog. I feel like it’s a part of me that should too, be a part of my blog! I’m not sure how to incorporate this passion into a series yet, I have many ideas: surrounding the fashion, surrounding the films themselves, the party culture of Old Hollywood, who knows? But hopefully, in the future, there maybe a series coming soon!
  • Posts surrounding feminism: I feel that this is a controversial subject, and can often get people talking, but isn’t that what makes blogs so brilliant? Discussion, debate. I’d really love to write more posts surrounding feminism, as this is another one of my passions. I enjoy reading feminist novels from the likes of Betty Friedan and Naomi Wolf, and I think that using their theories, I could write some thought-provoking posts, maybe surrounding feminism in the media, in film, in novels. Who knows, but I’d love to incorporate it somehow!
  • Writing posts in foreign languages: if you’ve never read my blog before, then you won’t know that I can speak both Spanish and Portuguese in addition to English. I think it would be super good practice for me to write posts in Spanish and Portuguese as well as English, and I love reading in both of these languages, too. I feel it would be a risky move, as the majority of my followers are English speakers, but I have considered writing in my languages many times. I would also be apprehensive, in case I made any mistakes, but I am definitely considering this idea!

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