2017: The Best Year

It’s finally coming to the end of the year, and what a year it has been. I was recently flicking through photographs and old journal entries, and on reflection, couldn’t believe how great this year has been. So I thought I’d write a post about everything that made my 2017 as amazing as it was.

My Year Abroad
How could I not begin with my year abroad? I spent the majority of this year on the continent, in either Spain or Portugal, and I had the absolute time of my life. I am still so heartbroken that it is over, but the memories I have taken away from spending my year abroad are precious and irreplaceable. As are the friends that I made! I have walked away with not only memories, but with lifelong friends who I know I can always count on, which is definitely something to treasure. On reflection, who wouldn’t have had the time of their lives when spending the majority of their year in hot countries? I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity.

I know that this sort of links into my Year Abroad, but I actually had the opportunity to travel at leisure this year, when previously I hadn’t traveled extensive amounts and I was limited to having only visited a couple of foreign places. This year I saw the majority, if not all, of the Spanish provinces, of which I can’t choose a favourite (all too beautiful!) and most of mainland Portugal, which was already my favourite country to begin with. I feel super lucky to have done this, I walked away with amazing memories, an extensive postcard collection and many, many travel posts on my blog.

My Blog
Speaking of my blog, 2017 was the year I finally put my years of ideas and dreaming into practice, and really developed my blog! I’m super proud of how it turned out, and while I know that improvements can be made, I really love my blog and the work that I’ve put into it. I had previously never had the courage to start one, nor the confidence to post my writing on it, as I feared judgement from others and what they would think/say, but I learned to conquer that fear and just do it! I’m so glad that I did.

My Final Year of University
I’ve reached the end of my degree at the University of Manchester, and while it is extremely tough, I’m trying my hardest to treasure every moment of this final year, because I know reality will kick in once I have graduated! I’ve started working for my university as a Spanish & Portuguese Ambassador and have met some really great people through my job (I wish I’d have done this sooner!) and in all, I have grown so attached to Manchester. Being away for a while made me miss the city and made me realise just how much I feel at home here.

In July I took the decision to become a vegetarian, and I am so happy that I did. It’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In honesty, it was always in my plan, I’ve never been a major meat eater as it was, never eating red meat and sticking to mainly chicken/fish, but being someone who has always had compassion for animals, I decided 2017 was the time that I would act on it. So one day I just decided I wouldn’t eat meat again, and I’ve never looked back since. It’s resulted in me loosing a considerable amount of weight, which is always something I have wanted to do, and so I’ve found myself feeling so much happier in myself. But also, it’s improved my education of the environment, and the effects that the meat industry is having on the environment. I plan on writing more posts about this, but I’m so happy/proud of myself for finally taking the step!

And so there we have it, a few things that made my 2017 so amazing. I’m hoping for an equally fantastic year in 2018, Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you have a prosperous 2018!



Update | Returning to England, the Upcoming Year & Where Have I Been?

So… I’m back, in every sense of the word: I’m back here, on my blog, writing a post and (hopefully) starting a fresh, and also, I’m back in England. I was previously writing from Madrid, Spain where I spent six (utterly amazing) months. And, in honesty… I’m not entirely sure where to start in my return to blogging. I’m slightly unsure if any of my almost 300 followers (thank you for sticking around!) would remember my blog or not, but after revisiting some of my old posts and replying to comments that are seemingly months old, I decided it was finally time to sit down and start again. ‘Start again’ might be the wrong phrase, as after reading back through my old posts, I was left inspired to continue rather than start again. I’m still really proud of my writing and feel almost a little bit dismayed that I decided to stop, but I have good reasoning, I promise.

Context: as I said, my last post was written in Madrid, during which time I was spending a year abroad in both Spain and Portugal. I’ve written about this many times, travel posts were my favourite ones to write and take photographs for, and if anyone stuck around to see my five part series of ‘The Barcelona Diaries,’ then you will know that these were the last travel posts that were added to my blog. When I was approaching the end of my time in Spain, I decided to go traveling in the south, and made a conscious decision to just put the camera down for the 10 days I was traveling, and look at the sights I was seeing through my own eyes, rather than a camera lense. And I guess this is where my dwindling of ideas and subsequent imposition of the good old ‘writers block’ began. I traveled through Cordoba, Sevilla, Malaga and Granada and I had the time of my life, avoiding my phone, avoiding the camera (although admittedly I did take a couple of photographs), and I didn’t regret my decision not to write travel posts.

Following my 10 day traveling stint, I spent two more weeks living in Madrid, in the heights of freedom after finishing my job as an English teacher, and all I felt was dread at my impending flight home and the prospect of integrating back into my own culture. One thing nobody ever tells you about your year abroad, is that coming home is so much more difficult than taking the leap and leaving in the first place. After coming home, I felt uninspired, unmotivated and in honesty, a little miserable. I had always planned to take a little blogging hiatus, being that I am now in my final year of university and have tonnes of studying to do, but I just never got around to writing a post explaining said-hiatus, and so that brings us to the here and now: hiatus over.

As I write this it is Christmas Day 2017, my blog is almost one year old. I am still so happy and proud when I look back through it, and so I’m taking the conscious decision to not give that up. To situate us in the here and now: I am home, back at the University of Manchester and studying as hard as I possibly can to make it to graduation in July. But I have had a surge of ideas for my blog, and I intend on acting on them: feminism, popular culture, post-modernism, book reviews (of course, that would never change), and this year I also transitioned to vegetarianism, which has been such a journey and something which I feel has had a really positive effect on me, so I’d really like to write some posts about that. I also want to round off my year abroad, talk about the transition back to English life and maybe even write a post from a retrospective point of view, something to invoke nostalgia when I look back. I have tonnes of ideas, and I’m super excited to get back to it.

I was reading back through some older posts from this time last year, and I wrote in this post, ‘here’s to a prosperous 2017.’  And prosperous it definitely was, I have had the best year of my life so far, maybe I’ll even write a blog post about it. So here’s to an even better 2018, with more blog posts and a little more uncertain, yet exciting future to come. (And hopefully there’s someone out there, just one person, that is still interested in reading my blog?!)

Additionally: the photos included in this post are some of the photographs I have taken of Manchester since returning home.



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.



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)



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!




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!

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.