books

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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travel

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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travel

Portuguese Architecture

I don’t really know much about architecture, nor is it a huge interest of mine. But when I was living in Portugal, the one thing that characterised the many Portuguese cities that I visited were the buildings. The quaint, colourful houses and the extravagant, classic landmarks. I’m not sure what style the architecture is, how old it is, or even much about the buildings, but I just loved looking at them. I took so many photographs of them whilst I was in Coimbra, and travelling to other cities. I thought that I would make a post with a collection of my photographs, I took them in cities such as Coimbra, Porto, Lisbon, Aveiro, Braga etc.

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travel

Lisbon, Portugal

Though I’m currently living in Spain, I was taking a quick look back on my time living in Portugal. On January 23rd, I traveled from Coimbra to Lisbon. It wasn’t the first time I’d been to the capital, but it was the first time I’d seen the sights and visited the tourist points. We finally saw A Ponte 25 de Abril, visited A Torre de Belém and looked down on Lisbon from the Parque Eduardo VII. We wandered through the Praça do Comércio and bought tickets for a hop-on/hop-off tour bus, much like the one I mentioned in my post about Porto (which you can have a peek at by clicking here), and it was such a good idea – we saw almost everything there was to see. I visited Lisbon in November of last year, and I wasn’t too struck by it. I much preferred Coimbra, Aveiro and other places I’d been in Portugal. But when I visited in November, it was cold and rainy, and we didn’t see much of the city itself.  But on January 23rd, we saw almost everything, and I completely fell in love with the city. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it is, and below I’ve left some of my photographs. I hope they give you an idea of just how stunning Portugal’s capital is!

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travel

Braga, Portugal

On January 26th I took a CP Intercidades train to Braga, Portugal. It was the gloomiest day I’d seen yet, the sky was overcast and it was pouring with rain. Nevertheless, I had a really lovely day in the city: Braga is different to the other places I’ve been to in Portugal. It isn’t as busy as Lisbon, it isn’t as scenic as Porto, but it has it’s own character. It’s historical, the architecture is super pretty, and everybody there seems to be moving slowly through the city: it’s the most relaxed place I’ve visited yet. The weather was an obstacle in visiting the tourist points in Braga, but I wandered down the Avenida Central, did a spot of shopping and had a Galão in a quaint little coffee shop. (If you’re ever in Portugal, order a Galão, it is the best coffee you’ll ever taste!) I have left some photographs down below, hopefully the terrible weather hasn’t taken too much away from Braga’s beauty!

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travel

Porto, Portugal

Yesterday, I travelled from Coimbra to Porto, to explore the city and add another Portuguese city to my list of places I’ve seen. Every time I travel back to Coimbra, I fly to Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, and up until yesterday, the airport and Campanhã train station were the only parts of Porto that I knew. I decided to kill the curiosity, and pay a visit to the city, and I am so glad that I did. The day didn’t quite start off as we’d planned, as we caught the wrong train by accident. Miraculously, we still managed to end up at Campanhã, and took the metro to Trindade, and from there explored the city. We used the city sightseeing buses, which I would highly recommend to anybody looking to visit Porto. It cost €10 for an all day ticket, which took us to all of the tourist points in the city and we were able to hop on and off of the bus anywhere we liked, it was super useful. We saw all the main attractions, such as A Ponte de Dom Luís I, A Palácio da Bolsa and A Igreja de São Francisco. We drank chocolate quente and ate pastéis de nata in A Casa de Chocolate and took photos of the ‘Porto’ sign. We wandered up the Avenida de Aliados and visited the souvenir shops. We visited the beach, which was strange in January, we passed the river Douro and we hopped on and off the metro and buses all day long. It was certainly a far cry from the quaint streets of Coimbra, but nevertheless absolutely stunning. Porto is a city that has the best of everything: the beach, the river and a bustling city centre with gorgeous architecture. I hope you enjoy my photographs.

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travel

My Favourite Photographs of Coimbra

During my time in Coimbra, I took so many photographs. It is such a gorgeous city, I couldn’t resist taking over 500 photographs. I was flicking through them, feeling extremely nostalgic for the 30 degree days and long walks down the Rio Mondego, and thought I would share with you all some of my favourite photographs that I took while living in the most perfect place on earth. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

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travel

Coimbra, Portugal

As the end of 2016 nears, so does my time as an Erasmus student. I have spent four of the best months in Coimbra, Portugal, a city that has quickly become my favourite place on earth. I’ve met people who have quickly become some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had, I’ve discovered places that are beautiful beyond words, and most of all I have been ridiculously happy while living in Coimbra. I am soon to be moving to Madrid, Spain, to be an English Language Assistant in an International School, but before embarking on my next adventure, heres 10 things you should know about my favourite city in the world, Coimbra:

  1. The soundtrack to Coimbra: you cannot walk 10 paces down the street without hearing a busker, whether thats the old man with a grey beard who plays Careless Whisper by George Michael on his saxophone by the entrance to the Praça do Comércio or the young boy with a moustache who plays sounds on his accordion that seem more suited to the streets of Paris. You’d think it would get annoying, but its all part of the charm of Coimbra.
  2. The Mondego: this seems like an obvious point, but how could I not mention the beautiful river that runs through the heart of the city? If you want to see the city and the river in all their glory, visit A Ponte de Santa Clara. It is the bridge that connects both sides of the city, but once you get half way across the bridge, turn back and look up: you’ll see the hill to the university and all of its gorgeous surroundings while stood by the river. After four months, I’m still amazed.
  3. The secret bookshop: if you enjoy reading, or collecting books like me, there is an amazing second hand/vintage book shop on Avenida Sá da Bandeira. It is almost hidden amongst the hustle and bustle of the Avenida, but a little way up from the Mercado Municipal there is a small second hand store that has one book shelf of books in there, but if you go next door, there is an entire room of books, stacked up to the ceiling, of all genres and languages. The family that run this store are also lovely, and spent time talking to me in Portuguese so that I could practice. I found a gorgeous Portuguese, third edition copy of Jane Eyre that had a love letter written in the front cover.
  4. The parks: in a busy city full of students you wouldn’t expect to find so many gorgeous places to walk, read or just pass through on your way to class or the supermarket. But there are so many parks and places full of nature to visit in Coimbra. I would recommend mainly the Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra, which is full of gorgeous greenery and places to sit. Especially if you’re a student at the university, visiting the gardens in between classes makes the day that little bit better. In addition to this, walking by the Rio Mondego or visiting the park in the Praça da República are good alternatives.
  5. The nightlife: this is aimed particularly at anyone doing an Erasmus placement, but is applicable to everyone visiting Coimbra, but there are so many places to go out. I personally think the Praça da República is a great place to meet people and have a chilled out drink, it is the first place I ever went out in Coimbra, there are many international students there, but some locals too. If its a local experience that you want, the bars in Sé Velha are where you should go. If clubs are more your thing, I really love TWIIT and NBClub.
  6. Mojitos: On the topic of bars and clubs, there is an amazing bar right by Sé Velha where me and my friends went to drink mojitos. The mojitos are only €2 and taste so good! Its a good place to go for one or two drinks before going to Praça da República.
  7. Graffiti and street art: I feel like, especially in England, graffiti can be construed as a negative thing, but in Coimbra, graffiti is gorgeous. You’ll find some of the more artistic graffiti close to Almedina, or by the train tracks near Coimbra A station, or if its thought provoking quotes you prefer, you’ll find those on the walk to the university when you pass Largo da Sé Velha.
  8. A Universidade de Coimbra: it’s an unavoidable element really, isn’t it? While it is definitely the most touristic area of Coimbra, it is arguably the most beautiful. There is not much I can say other than you cannot visit Coimbra without visiting the university. Founded in 1290 and still absolutely stunning.
  9. Connections: the city is well connected. While I can’t fathom why anybody would ever want to leave Coimbra, there are trains from Coimbra B Station to main cities like Lisbon and Porto, and trains from Coimbra A to smaller surrounding places such as Aveiro and Figueira da Foz.
  10. The best Portuguese city: arguably this is only my opinion, but I truly believe there is no place nicer in Portugal than Coimbra. I have visited surrounding areas, Lisbon, the Algarve, but there is no place more beautiful or with more character than Coimbra. For all wanderers: add it to your bucket list.

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