Mother’s day weekend was the perfect occasion to escape life in London and to head back to the countryside. Alex has the cutest nieces and nephew who are my favourite subjects to photograph – mainly because they’re not camera shy yet ūüôā

Seriously, adults are so boring to take photos of!

And as it’s creepy to post these on instagram – I assume this is why no one likes my bebe photos – here are the pics of my favourite little dumplings. Have you ever seen so many blue eyed babies!

Life, Photography

Happy Mother’s Day

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Fighting a hard battle, everyday.
Life

Fighting a hard battle, everyday.

My first thoughts on naming this post was – “Screw you 2015!”

I know…¬†and I said this year was going to be better than last.

A month ago, I lost my mum to cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 1/2 years ago, and on the 11th February 2015 she passed away in her sleep, two days after being discharged from hospital to come home to her family. She was 46.

A week after my mum passed away, I spoke at her¬†funeral. I spoke of all the things I loved most about her and I forgot all about that horrible disease that stole her away from me. It didn’t deserve to be there that day. A week later I went back to work and that morning would be the first time in two weeks I would cry.

Last week,¬†we celebrated my younger sister’s 13th birthday, and last Sunday it was Mother’s day in the UK. Why am I writing about this? Because¬†this is me dealing with my hard battle, everyday.

I haven’t really told many people, I didn’t tell people when she was ill and now that she’s gone, it’s even harder to tell people now that she has died. The saddest thing about it is that you realise everyone has been hurt by cancer, and yet it’s still not normal to talk about it.

When I found out my mum’s cancer was back last summer, it felt like I was crying all the time. I would feel guilt and sorrow seeing her deteriorate, seeing her slowly become unable to do all the things she wanted to do. In her last month, I lost count the number¬†of times she longed to just ride a bike and how jealous she was we all could. I joked about getting a child’s¬†seat for the back of my bike.

Joking about my mum’s situation helped me deal with it a lot. My mum had a great sense of humour, extremely witty which towards the end became quite light-heartedly morbid (if there ever were such a thing). We were quite open with the fact that she would die soon, and that matter-of-fact attitude allowed us to joke in ways that could seem inappropriate. In her last month I spent everyday with her, and one of the last things she ever said to me was that she was ‘so sick of me’. I kept smothering her with kisses and hugs, she joked, but it was her way of saying thank you and our way of acknowledging what was happening. I still joke with my siblings about all the silly things my mum did and what she would do if she was here.

I’ve also watched a hell of lot of Disney films. Doing so definitely falls into the ‘denial and reverting to a child-like state’ method of coping, but it let me be in a cocoon for the first two weeks, and I needed that so I didn’t have to mourn yet. A lot of my relatives went immediately into a hyper-organised, keep themselves busy mode, and that works for a lot of people as it allows you feel useful at a time you feel extremely useless (at least that’s my interpretation). That didn’t work for me at all! In fact, the thought of being busy and proactive just made me want time to move slower and made me feel very stressed at the thought of it.

Now, I’m back at work and I need to be in my ‘normal’ routine. Although I would still prefer to do nothing and just hide in bed all day, I find different ways of coping with how I feel. I eat lots of junk food (couldn’t say I’d recommend it :P), I make time to look after those around me (especially my younger brother who was particularly close to my mum), and I also make more time to be with my friends. One of the hardest things about caring for a family member who is ill, is that often that comes at the expense of spending any time with other people. In a way, looking after and spending energy on different people i.e. my friends, feels like a good way of coming to terms with the loss of my mum. If I could even put into words how that makes sense, I would. But it just makes me feel better.

I wanted to write this post not only because I believe writing can be extremely therapeutic, but because something that is helping me to cope is by knowing about and being able to empathise with other people’s experiences of loss. Sometimes just knowing that someone is reacting in a similar way, that you might think is unusual, can make you feel better in a small way.

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A piping hot bubble bath and alone time ūüôā

ihwz62a

Life

Things I appreciate Friday ‚ô•

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Life

Introduce yourself

Funnily enough, I think this may be the topic that I’ve actually written most about!

I started my blog a little over a year ago, I had just graduated and was embarrassingly unemployed. Starting a blog felt like a logical thing to do, and it felt a lot better than doing nothing.

I used the blog as¬†a form of¬†therapy, I’d started writing about my situation and how it make me feel. I also wrote about things I baked (once), films I’d watched¬†(once also), but mostly about the food I ate (yay!)

I would love to connect with others who are, or were once in a similar situation. Life is hard but sharing experiences with others makes it feel a whole easier. There are supposed to be thousands of other young graduates out there struggling to find a job, wanting to maybe start a ‘career’ (does this even exist – who knows?), but I felt like the only person I knew who was¬†actually¬†facing this. How it is that everyone I know has a job? A well paying one at that! I hoped blogging would help me reach out and support/learn/grow with other people in my situation.

I’m hoping this year to more successfully integrate blogging into my everyday life. I have really struggled with setting myself realistic goals as to what I wanted to achieve with my blog and how often I would¬†post something!

I welcome anyone who relates to anything I’ve said – I can’t wait to meet you!

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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “New.”

Sequin bow adorned on the great wall of china

Sequin bow adorned on the great wall of china

I am submitting an old photo in contemplation of something new – great huh?

My contribution is all about the new year, and the new me.

I’m excited about 2015 because I have committed myself to making the most out of this year. The photo I’ve chosen represents me when I was happiest because I was out there and doing things!

Life

Photo challenge ~ New

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Life

Happy 2015!

And see ya later stupid stinky 2014!

Yes, I truly mean that. 2014 was the worst year of my life and it was all my fault.

WHY??

1. I worried too much

I worried far too much about what other people were doing, and what the consequences would be if I made certain life choices – and in the end – I didn’t do or decide anything! I didn’t go for a job I actually wanted (and was still jealous of everyone else’s) and it took me until the end of the year to accept that spending a ridiculous amount on rent for an amazing apartment is frivolous but it makes me SO HAPPY!

2. I didn’t give myself any goals or challenges

I didn’t strive for anything or even decide on anything that I wanted to achieve last year – so I ended up not achieving anything. And it’s the worst feeling.

3. I wasn’t selfish enough

And lastly, I didn’t dedicate enough time for myself, and I didn’t make enough selfish decisions. I also spent 2014 thinking about what everyone else wanted or needed from me, which is great, but not when it comes at the sacrifice of my own needs. You can’t make anyone else happy, if you aren’t making yourself happy. You just end up feeling resentful.

I actually have a long mental (and physical) list of things I want to achieve. Some are big lifetime dreams, others are far smaller and I may not be able to achieve all of them this year, but here is my list in progress.

1. Learn how to drive

2. Join a sports team

3. Open a savings account and save at least £5,000 this year

4. Redecorate two rooms in my mum’s place

5. Plan myself bi-weekly Chinese lessons with my amazing friend/tutor

6. Run 10k (I have never been able to run more than 3k eek)

7. Plan a trip and help my Uncle visit my family in Singapore

8. Start upcycling more clothes!

9. Go on a volunteering holiday

10. Visit Bath and Stonehenge Lake District!

11. Blog at least twice a month

12. Eat less meat and eat more Japanese-y

13. Finish a book each month

This list is to be revised, updated and added to. How will you make the most of 2015?

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Life, Photography

Guy Fawkes fireworks at Wanstead Flats, Newham

For all Newham lacks as a place to live, it sure makes up for it on Bonfire night.

But with tons of firework displays dotted all over London, why am I telling you about this one?

Firstly, it’s free. Awesome.

As someone who lived in town which charged £15 for their fireworks display, free really is awesome.

Secondly, no one really notices poor, forgotten Newham and so the crowds are oh so spacious. Under-the-radar fireworks display equals non-pushy crowds. Yay!

And my favourite part – the fireworks are AMAZING. This years theme was music legends (my highlight was Sinatra’s My Way) with surprisingly perfectly synchronised fireworks.

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Life, Photography

Suffolk’s (not-so) Spooky Scarecrow hunt!

How cute is this? I spent this weekend in little ol’ Halesworth, deep in the countryside of Suffolk… to which I happened upon a village full of scarecrows!

The idea behind it is that each shop along the village ‘high-street’ each makes their own scarecrow, related or unrelated to the shop, coming to 48 in total. Each shop then has a clue – a letter in a pumpkin – which you have to collect. You then use the letters to spell out 7 spooky words, and to make things even easier they colour code the letters for each word.

Being a city girl, I remember trick-or-treating with my friends every Halloween around my local borough, something of which I rarely see anymore! I don’t even bother buying sweets because I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone ring my doorbell during Halloween – so tragic.¬† So I love knowing there are these adorable village traditions out there (even if I’m not allowed to participate, apparently 23 yrs old is pushing it).

My favourite scarecrow is the Farmer (below) and the Miley Cyrus ‘crow! I am SO gutted I couldn’t get a better picture of it without the reflection!

Which one was your favourite?

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Life

Is it time for a rebrand?

My initial motivation for starting a blog was to have something to do while I was applying for jobs post graduation. This meant choosing a topic was kind of hard since I didn’t have a whole lot going on in my life during this extremelycash-less period.

But months on, having failed to commit to blogging and slowly having neglected it – is it time for a rebrand?

I once read something which said that no one is going to care what you say on Twitter unless you’re a celebrity, or something to that effect. I feel the same is for blogging. You can’t get away with writing what you want without having a focus, a theme, for your audience to follow. No one is going to read your random sh*t unless you’re famous, duh.

While I love beauty (skincare, makeup, anything) I don’t know if I could compete with the hordes of highly qualified/committed bloggers and their loyal followers. Yes, I frequently daydream at the sheer thought of receiving beauty freebies (eek) but I don’t have the face nor the money to beauty blog.

I just want to talk about FOOD! My first love – food. Not a day goes past where I don’t photograph my meal, where it don’t plan my week around what nights and where can I eat out next!

I now sneakily start testing what FOOD related blog names I can have *lovehearteyes*

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Food, Life, Photography, Travel

Prague ~ the new Paris

A couple weekends ago, my boyfriend and I were very lucky to spend 3 days in the beautiful city of Prague.

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It is so hard to pick just one picture that embodies the true beauty of Prague. Partly because there are just too many things that we loved about this historic city, but also because my camera lens is pretty crap for landscape photography =_=’

Before we left for our trip I was pretty skeptical about people’s fascination with Prague. I had so many preconceptions about it only being a stag do/cheap beer kind of destination. I was SO WRONG. Yessssss there we’re many groups of drunk guys with the groom-to-be always dressed as a lady (so weird), and hell yes the beer was only ¬£1 (seriously), but Prague was so much more than that. Let me explain.

Food

Food was my biggest fear for this holiday, mainly because I have never been excited over the thought of having meat and dumplings for dinner. Not the scrummy and delicious Asian kind, but the stodgy, food-baby-making bread or potato kind.

So meh.

Luckily for me, and luckily for Alex because I google everythingggg to death, we managed to pick some amazing places to eat.

Lobkowicz Palace cafe

I am a firm believer in not eating at tourist attractions, but sometimes you just gotta eat! £££ 7/10

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Special of the day – Apple strudel, and a parma ham and cheese panini

Grosseto marina

Fancy Italian riverboat style restaurant with views of the castle over the river. A solid 7/10 for the food, but really you come for the views. ££ 9/10

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Saporita pizza and Ravioli con polpetine di pollo e prosciutto

Cafe Lourve

Fancy, art nouveau style 100 yr old cafe where both Albert Einstein and Frank Kafka got their Parisian brunch on. Lunch set menu is only in Czech but very good value. ££ 9/10

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Aperol spritz – everyone was drinking them!

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Classic Sacher – A chocolate cake laced with apricot jam and homemade watermelon ice cream

U Kroka

Our favourite of the trip, this truly is the place to come try Czech Pork Knuckle. Great value and right near the old castle grounds. ££ 10/10

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Roasted pork knee (or knuckle) – this was the portion listed in the ‘Manly’ section of the menu. A dish so filling you didn’t even need sides!

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Roasted duck with apples, red cabbage, homemade bread and potato dumplings

Klasterni pivovar Strahov

17th century brewery restored as a restaurant. Staff were grumpy but food was more-ish, the beer even better. ££ 7/10

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Wheat and ‘Amber’ beer

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Goulash in a bread bowl (tacky I know!) and Sirloin of beef in a cream sauce with cranberries and dumplings.

Things to do

Prague as a city-break is one of those cities where you can always find something to do, whether you plan ahead or not. Despite not speaking any Czech (I reeeeaaally wanted to try) I felt the entire city was pretty much accessible to me – not just because most people we encountered spoke English, but also because there were so many things you could just stumble upon and explore.

Prague castle (PraŇĺsk√Ĺ hrad)

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An afternoon can easily be spent on the castle grounds, with plenty of churches and museums to keep you occupied. If you’d rather see just the best bits (as we did) then 200 korunas gets you into St Vitus Cathedral, the grand royal hall, St George’s Basilica¬†and the Golden Lanes. Even if you decide not to explore all of the buildings or wanting to make the most of a sunny day – the views from the castle grounds of the city below are enchanting.

Church of Saint Nicolas

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By far my favourite of all the religious sites, it’s (almost) gaudy gold finishings is what makes it so special. We sat in here for a good half hour just taking it all in (and cooling down from the sun)!

Charles bridge

The tourist destination that I was most looking forward to photographing, the internet has hundreds of pictures capturing Charles Bridge at its most romantic – lamps glowing through a cloak of thick mist! I was so disappointed when all I could see/capture were swarms of tourists and caricature artists – boo!

The John Lennon wall

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Although I’m not particularly a Lennon/Beatles fan, I loved the wall! Insanely bright and AMAZING to photograph!

Wenceslas square

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We didn’t spend much time here but it was worthwhile to go having just been to the communism museum. Not so much because the museum was great but more for being able to put what we had learnt there into perspective. For those who love makeup, they sell Inglot at Debenhams and have a Sephora in Wenceslas square!

Old Town square

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If you’re only in Prague for a weekend like we were, then this is one of the best places to just sit and soak in some Prague atmosphere. Hell yes it’s probably one of the most touristy places you could go (and for many would make you run a mile) but it’s touristy for a reason! A mixture of historical charm (the Astronomical clock, the Church of Our Lady before Tyn) and commercialisation of a touristy hotspots (American students promoting bar crawls, and tours on Segways) we happily paid three times as much for a beer just to soak it all in and people watch! Yay!

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If you walk a few minutes away from the square (and notice the crowds have thinned) this is where you start discovering some of Prague’s best drinking spots – Chapeau Rogue, Bugsy’s and Hemingway bar (my favourite) are all cosy, chilled and cheap!

Riegrovy Sady

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We visited this beer garden during the Germany vs France World Cup quarter-final match where they had set up a big screen with tons of benches and beer/food stands lining the garden. Full of expats, tourists and locals alike, the actual park itself offers yet another place to overlook the city.

Vysehrad castle

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This serene castle and grounds are two minutes away from my top pick restaurant – U Kroka. An impressively tall, fort-like wall surrounds the grounds which makes for an awesome first impression. Couples and tourists line the castle walls, which from up there you can enjoy an entirely different view point of the city, with Prazsky hrad as the crown of the horizon. Further in you come across more locals walking their dogs but I would highly recommended allocating and evening to spend here during your visit.

Peddle boating on the Vltava river

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No messing with the captain. Serious business!

200 koruna (about £5.50) for an hour! Such a bargain and was such a great way to spend our last morning in Prague. Wanting to make the most of ten warm weather while simultaneously avoiding being near other people (haha), we paddle boat-ed up and down the Vltava between the Charles bridge and the Dancing House. We even spotted a few fellow paddle boaters who had remembered to bring beers onboard!

Overall
I loved Prague! Although beach holidays are more my thing, Prague was perfect for a long weekend.

For 3 days we paid:
Flights Р£75 p/p return with Wizzair (never again!)
Hotel – ¬£85 p/p for 3 nights at a ‘5 star’
Spending money Р£120 p/p

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