New Year, New Me?

How does this happen? How does a year move by so fast? I’m not sure if I can actually bring myself to believe we’re entering 2017. In the lead up to the New Year, I’ve been getting that feeling that hits your insides. A dull ache I’ve come to associate with fear. Not pain, and not necessarily sadness – more a muted fear, that I’ve not done enough. That this next year will bring much of the same. That I’ll feel like I failed in someway.

I haven’t achieved what I wanted, I didn’t share my feelings with that guy I sort of kind of but not really liked, or that in some paradoxically universe my life would feel more complete. I wouldn’t be that twenty-four-year-old living with her parents, going through a degree purely because I couldn’t get a job. The excitement of finishing in May tainted with the unknown. Do I leave the country I’m studying in, do I go home? And to what? To do what?

My friends all seem so successful – they have a plan. Or at least I think they do. And for some reason they all seem to be getting engaged, or having babies(!?) It’s amazing, I feel like I’m getting left behind.

I think we can all relate to those feelings. The feelings of shame, fear, disappointment. You’re not good enough for this, you regret not doing that, you hate yourself for making someone upset. If you’d only tried harder…

I guess I’m kind of sick of that now.

I’m sick of hating me, and in that process faking a different me who I hate even more but seems to be accepted by those around me. An ever-so-trying, always caring if slightly unhinged version of the person I should be.

I’m sick of it, and if a fake persona is what you put up too, my vote is now to stop it. I don’t want to be a half person for fear of upsetting someone, not saying something I believe because they might not believe it too. Generally I think I’m okay, but funnily enough it’s the people closest to me who probably don’t know me really, at all. I always just nod, say yes and smile.

Reality is something different.

I just want to scream at them.

So, I’m not making any resolutions, not the usual anyway, you know – be nicer, healthier, fitter.

Nope, none of them.

I guess the only resolution I’m going to make, if I have to call it a resolution, is to be me.

Unapologetically me,
because at the end of the day my happiness is all that counts and I’m a full on believer (even if I haven’t lived my own advice so far) that you have a choice to be happy.

At the end of the day, if friends and if family can’t accept you for you – do you need them anyway?

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be,” -Abraham Lincoln

Happy New Year,

-H

Kanpai, Downtown Dubai – Food/Restaurant Review

Since I moved to Dubai, I’ve been really busy starting my postgraduate and settling into life. I haven’t done any blog posts since moving here and I know that really needs to change. So I decided to kick things off with a review about a Japanese/Asian Fusion Restaurant and Bar in Downtown Dubai, Kanpai.

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Located in Souk Al Bahar just beside the Burj Khalifa, this gem of an Asian restaurant can be found hiding on the second floor. I say hiding, but in reality as you walk towards it you get greeted by this handsome gentleman along the walls.

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It might seem a little strange to feel slightly intimidated as you enter Kanpai, but with those wonderful Samauri-esque greeting you, you might understand my fear. However in reality my family and I were met but some really warm and friendly front of house staff, who took us to our table, asked how the music was for us and really made us feel special about having booked our table with them.

Interestingly enough, whilst we were there Kanpai was having a photoshoot to help further their brand in Dubai. Even though there was this photoshoot going on in the background with the occasional flash of a flash gun or the fake laughter of models told to: “enjoy themselves,” in the next few pictures I didn’t feel like it hindered our visit at all. Perhaps, occasionally they was a longer wait time then we perhaps would’ve liked, particularly when it came to getting the bill, as there were more people dining then, but honestly I felt they dealt with the situation very professionally.

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We had a wonderful server, whose name I’m sure was Mignonne or something similar but in reality she looked just like my favourite Abbi Sciuto from NCIS. I literally couldn’t handle the similarities, she was gorgeous and was there when a glass needed refilling or to guide us through the menu, namely the cocktail menu helping us chose from the different varieties of alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks which we could then make alcoholic. I have to say I was totally impressed with her as a waitress, as the restaurant seemed to fill she did seem to be serving everybody and she handled that pressure wonderfully. She looked as if she was enjoying herself, she was friendly, calm and helped sort out any issues we had at any given time alongside everybody else.

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You’ll probably want to hear about the food at some point. But very quickly, the setting.

Honestly I don’t know what everybody’s problem is in Dubai, but for some reason and maybe it’s just me but the last few places I’ve been to the lights have been turned so low they might as well have been off, Nobu I’m literally pointing all fingers at you. Whilst Kanpai was a little dark for my liking actually being able to read the menu without asking for a nightlight, and being able to see the food in from of me as well as the people opposite me was an absolute bonus. The lighting was low enough to set an atmosphere but not low enough to destroy any chance of mood. in the same way the music, which when we entered was pretty loud (probably due to the photoshoot), was turned down to make sure we could all hear any person on our table. Honestly touches like that really make the evening so much more enjoyable. Whilst it was pretty classy inside I loved that I wouldn’t necessarily have felt out of place wearing some smart casual trousers and flat shoes, it just felt like there were no pretensions. For me that is amazing, there is nothing worse then going to an eatery, a club or whatever and feeling like you don’t deserve to be there.

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As for the food, well if telling you we had two lots of starters before our main course doesn’t speak volumes for the quality of the food I don’t know what does. There was plenty to go around, and everything from the Spicy Chilli Edamame Bean to the Vegetable Spring Rolls was a wonderful experience for your tastebuds.

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The chefs and management at Kanpai seriously outdid themselves with their starters, and achieved a succinct and beautiful matching Asian delight. I was impressed with the speed that the starters came out, and there was no problems with us ordering in our very awkward fashion: Starter, Starter, Main without given any time to prepare anything else. Really well done for the starters:

  • Spicy Edamame Beans
  • Crab Cakes
  • Vegetable Spring Rolls
  • Some interesting, not to sure if I liked them/didn’t like them mango and vegetable parcels

Honestly, I can’t qualify if I like the last food item or not, I had one thought: “Not my thing,” and then went back for more because I’m sure it was.

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Main course, for me went a lot like the first course. I ordered:

  • Roast chicken in a spicy cream sauce with mushrooms and baby potatoes

It was delicious. But, and yes really this shouldn’t be a but, BUT: a) I wish the potatoes has been cooked a little longer and b) I felt like I could have had a much bigger portion. But then I’m a pig. Even after two loads of sharing platter starters I wanted more food, which does go to show how well prepared the food was.  We only had a slight problem with one dish, that thankfully wasn’t mine (evil laugh), that was slightly too cold but they rectified the situation immediately, and honestly it’s not even worth complaining about.

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As it was a birthday, they very kindly let me choose a desert for the birthday girl – my beautiful mum, and wrote: “Happy Birthday Veda” (surprisingly her name) on the plate. I chose the desert called Ka, or Fire which was some kind of cheesecake which was set on fire at the table. The photograph I have of it is not wonderful but you get the generally idea. I like they came out with a sparkler as well, and thankfully enough when I asked them not to sing happy birthday because my mum would have sunk under the table stayed true to their word and just brought it all out. Enough for her to be embarrassed, not enough for her to disappear – a good balance I think.

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If you want to book a table at Kanpai – which I strongly suggest visit their website or call them on 04-441-9262. Their opening times are 12pm – 2am.

A fabulous restaurant, with some amazing staff, food and just pure quality entertainment.

A French Adventure – Avignon Part Two

I did have to split my time in Avignon in two, even if today’s adventures weren’t quite as expansive as yesterday was. It was more about the travelling I did between the two, and by travelling I mean by foot.

We got up extra early this morning to walk over two bridges and discover the Fort Saint-Andre.

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The walk was long, the wind was strong and the small inclines felt like mountains, but it was a good trip. Fort Saint-Andre is across the river from Avignon situated in a small town called Villeneuve lez Avignon. According to our guide pamphlet it is a: “perfect example of medieval military architecture,” honestly I’m not so sure.

The walk up there wasn’t as tough as I’m making out. It took us approximately an hour and half both ways and was a bit up and down to say the least.  When we finally arrived we got told the gardens and the abbey, which I had wrongly assumed were attached (although they are) were not open, so it was only the fort we could see. Although the fort was fine, I can’t think of a better dull but good adjective for it, the only real thing about it was the panoramic views of Avignon that we got from the top of a battlement.

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There were some interesting ruins but we couldn’t access them to see more. It did seem a little strange that we could only get to one of the three places, but it was affirmed to me by our concierge later that evening that most tourist attractions were closed on a Monday. Note to all travellers: don’t come to Avignon on a Monday.

That being said, after we managed the walk back we found a beautiful restaurant, that was by the Porte de L’Oule opening in the city’s walls.

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My poor dad was more then happy to go back to the hotel to sleep after this meal, but I decided that it was time to try the Avignon mini train that I kept seeing making its rounds around the city. Can I just apologise now to my dad, although good (?) it was bumpy, uncomfortable and honestly although it gave you some slight historic knowledge I felt that having already been around most of its stops I knew it all already.

Having said that it is a nice and easy 40 minutes drive where you don’t have to do anything bar trying to stay in the carriage.

I tried a panorama, but in reality I was too close to the Palais des Papes.
I tried a panorama, but in reality I was too close to the Palais des Papes. Still kind of love it though

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee – Review

” If there’s just one kind of folks, why can’t they get along with each other? If they’re all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other?” page 251

IMG_1760I’ll start of by telling you that I struggled with this book. I don’t for definite know the reason behind my struggle, I just didn’t want to pick it up after I would put it down, but when I did pick it up I wouldn’t want to put it down. It was for me a hard read, and took me a lot longer then a book of this size usually would. But, I’m still so glad that I read it because I seriously enjoyed this novel.

Harper Lee brings to life a glorious and humorous world of prejudice, race, violence and hypocrisy viewed through a child’s eyes.

When a white young woman is suspected to have been raped by a young black man, tensions fly in a 1930s town stooped with coloured prejudices and incorrect theories and gossip. Where race is what makes you who you are, and family name gives you standing Scout Finch alongside her brother Jem are plunged into an adult world which, quite frankly is just one big mess of grown-up irrational hypocrisy. Where one man, their father, begins to rise against the oh-so-typical standing that white is right and black is well black and therefore wrong and defends the alleged rapist. Scout and Finch must grow and come to terms with a world that doesn’t make any sense. A world that makes no sense, if like these two children you go with your gut instincts of morality.

Although perhaps a six-year-old Scout would not know half the words that come out in the writings of Lee and this does sort of hack away at the believability of it all, you can forgive it. You can forgive it because this book, written in the 1960s gives a voice to the children of generations who didn’t understand (quite rightly) the black and white issue. An issue that wasn’t an issue until they were grown and had the ideas placed in their heads by parents and other elders that mixing black and white was wrong. Until they were brought up to believe that some are born ‘better’ then others, which as a child you don’t even think about. You just want to play, or at least I did. I couldn’t have cared less if my friend was an interesting hue of blue so long as they knew how to play skipping rope.

Lee definitely has a unique way with her words and as she moves through the years within the books, and the difficulties Scout faces firstly from growing up and secondly from the backlash of the trial that brings about dangers of its own. This book is exciting and truly I hated putting it down, which is part of my issue with why I didn’t want to pick it up again afterwards. Part of me says the reason is, was that I had no way of knowing if I was going to like what I read next. I knew from what I had already read that Lee was an exceptional writer and her style and prose had me hooked, but was I, morally going to like what she was writing? Of course for some bits this turned out to be a no, but this book was made to be read.

It was made to be enjoyed and to be understood.

I don’t believe for one moment this is a book that should be forced upon school children, like we had Catcher of the Rye done to us (which still to this day makes me shudder at the sight of it) I think this book should be encouraged as a message. Even today there is a lot of racial tension and prejudice against people of all different colours and nationalities. But from the eyes of a child there is only one question that is asked, and that is why?

Hatred or fear for the sake of hatred or fear is pointless. It has no meaning, but still people fight one another for no clear cut reason other then that person is different.

Harper Lee brings up an interesting point towards the end of her book, and I think this will probably stay with me for a long time. Whilst the youngest Finch, believes that all people are the same the eldest has started to wonder if they are all the same. Because of judgements passed and views full of hatred shown how can people be considered a unified people, if some are not allowed to be a part of it. This idea of growing out of unity really reminded me why its so important that children are taught to accept and be accepted by others because growing up with the notion that others are different in a bad way, is no way to grow up at all.

I thoroughly recommend this book, it simply is wonderful.

To purchase on Amazon click here.

My Everyday Eye Make-up

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So, as I sit here with one eye done and the other eye not so done, I realised that perhaps the title is a bit misleading. This is not my everyday eye make-up look, even though it sort of is. I would love to be the sort of person who bothers to do their make-up everyday, and although I do try and go out half decent sometimes those early morning food shopping trips just require stumbling out of bed.

First of I should say, that I pretty much find most of me pretty damn disgusting but my eyes I don’t mind so much. I guess we all have to have one bit that we don’t mind and for me that’s my eyes. They are nothing special but they’ll do and they let me see the beautiful things the world has to offer and that to me is a greater gift then wanting them to look more aesthetically pleasing.

Feeling confident is a difficult one and in another blog I’ll go into things in more detail, but that’s definitely left for a day when I’m feeling more emotional then I am now.

So for now these are my three products that I use on my eyes to try and give them a lift.

1. Eyeshadow, Gold by Giles in Buff, New Look £3.99

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I always base my eyes with a primer, and then add an eyeshadow base. I don’t really have any one primer that I use constantly which is why I haven’t featured a specific one on this post, purely because my skin changes daily and therefore my primer has to as well. So bearing that in mind, this is my favourite eyeshadow palette, at the moment. I do drift towards the Urban Decay palettes as well though.

Meet Gold by Giles in Buff, it’s from New Look and the white tone of the first colour adds a lovely sparkle to the inner corner of the eyes. Beware though, this powder goes on fully pigmented. Seriously you only need a bit otherwise you’ll look like an absolutely fool, been there done that.

I always like to more or less cover, gently my lid and find that the white creates a base for my eyeliner to stick to. The two purplish colours I also use just to add a slight depth to the eye on the outside corner. I find that if I just leave the white I look like a ghost but by adding the touch of pink/purple the eye pops just that little bit more. I do need to add that I can’t find this palette online anymore, so I’m not sure if they are still stocking it. But you could honestly do this with any colours you wanted.

2. Eyeliner – Loreal Paris Super Liner Perfect Slim in Intense Black, Tesco, £5.99

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I can’t tell you how much I love this eyeliner. I find eyeliner an absolutely nightmare to apply.

Hooded eyelids and eyeliner can be two things that just don’t go together. I always seem to find that with any thicker eyeliner it smudges onto my upper lid, even after I left it to dry.

Because this eyeliner glides on with an impeccably thin felt tip you can control the size of the line. For me I don’t have much of an option but to do thin eyeliner purely because otherwise it smudges, but this eyeliner allows me definition and I think makes my eyes appear just that little bit wider.

3. Mascara, Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Lash Multiplying Mascara in Black, Boots, £7.99

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My mascara has to be applied last. Don’t ask me why, it really is just a preference. Part of me thinks that it actually makes me do my makeup quicker, because if I start with mascara I tend to rub it out and redo and rub out and redo numerous times. But if I’ve already got my eyeliner and shadow on I really can’t be rubbing out and redo the whole thing constantly.

I own approximately 30 mascara tubes, but this one is just             . I’ve got no clue how to describe it. I sleep on my front which means my eyelashes squash as I sleep and end up pointing in strange directions in the morning, no matter what I do I can’t change my sleeping position. Because of this I have to really try hard with my mascara to make sure everything is placed where its supposed to be and I don’t have a massive gap in the middle where eyelashes split in half.

This mascara is truly amazing. I will be the first to admit that I tend to coat my lashes quite a lot, and that means my mascara has a tendency to clump. Over the last few years I’ve been trying to minimise the spider legs that can sometimes occur and I’m glad to say it really has made such a difference to how my eyes look. This mascara is wonderful at not clumping and really does leave your eyelashes long but without the grossness of over mascared-eyes.

These products have really helped me tone down the overuse of all other products and really do make a dramatic impact. What’s great about each of these products is that you can alter how much or how little you use of them depending on the event, or day-to-day wear. I love them, I hope you do too.

The Road Of The Dead, Kevin Brooks – Review

IMG_0866I’ve had this book since I was 15. That’s seven years of having it and, not reading it. I can’t really justify why I never read it, there was just something that seemed more exciting available on my book shelf. So, after a seven year waiting period I finally picked it up. I was originally worried that being 22 would impact how I read this book which lends itself to the ‘young adult/teen thriller’ genre, but I was pleasantly surprised.

To me, there are a lot of things that are right with this book, but there are also quite a few bits that are wrong as well.

The premise of this book is about two young half-gypsy brothers, both with sort of non-human talents, who discover their sister has been left naked, raped and strangled in a grey village in Dartmoor. Whilst Cole, the eldest of the two brothers has a way with his fists and can blank out his humanity to get answers Ruben has almost telepathic gifts. He can sense others feelings, he feels his sister’s death by whom he describes as The Dead Man and seems to understand why someone has done something before they do. They find themselves fighting to have their sister’s body returned to them so she can be laid to rest. What follows is these two young lads fighting to track down the culprit of the crime. When they finally get to the village they are met with hostility and defiance and discover that Rachel, their sister was murdered in a more complication and dangerous way then what they first thought. This book leads up to a pretty explosive finale, where all is finally revealed.

Trying to put the plot down on paper without giving too much away was a lot harder then I imagined. This book is full of twists and turns that leave the reader wanting more. Brooks’ creation and development of characters is almost perfect. Whilst I found myself feeling for the two title characters I did wish that sometimes Brooks’ would give just a little more to them. It’s difficult to justify this feeling with words but knowing their father was in jail for murder, which is brought up a few times in the novel, meant I had more questions about the characters that weren’t answered. Part of me wonders if because it’s a 22-year-old me reading the book, and not a 15-year-old me.

The book really is about vigilante justice, mainly coming from the eldest brother Cole Ford. Although I could sense some realism from the book I really felt that there was lack of credibility when it came to the consequences of vigilante actions. Some of the events that occur in the book I really felt would justify jail time as opposed to a quick beating, but artistic license is a wonderful thing. I also found it pretty ridiculously that a 17-year-old and 14-year-old could make such an impact on a village full of adults, but then again for a younger reader this probably wouldn’t sound totally bizarre.

This book is dark and can at some points make for uncomfortable reading, I’m not sure I would’ve coped that well with this book if I had been under the age of 15 when I read it, but I guess it really does depend on the maturity level of the person reading it. It’s a very enjoyable book though, if like me you can get over your problems of believability. Brooks’ has a way with words that can immediately transform a scene and cause a visual to pop straight into your head. He can define a place and describe it into a reality. As a reader I felt part of the fabric of the story and this is what gave this book to me it’s overwhelming and deeply emotional premise a base to stand on.

Although slightly chaotic as the book reaches its final with more of my credibility issues coming through Brooks’ does try to balance out the chaos with some interesting and realistic descriptions of occurrences. Graphic though it may be, I did begin to find myself swept away in it all and even though rational me knows that what is occurring in the books is so unlikely I couldn’t help but enjoy it.

One thing I didn’t enjoy however, was the ending. Now this maybe completely personal because for me I struggle with a lot of stories endings, to me there are never good enough. But this one was pretty dismal. It just kind of ended. Like a happily ever after ending and to me it didn’t fit with the book. Brooks’ had got himself in one place and was doing mighty well with it, then you turn the page and it was almost like you were reading a different book altogether. There was no way in mind that this book should have ended as it did, but I guess at the end of the day 15-year-old me would have accepted it and thought it was justifiably happy for all the crap the brothers had already been through.

Maybe that is the difference between me then and now though.

I would highly recommend this book though even with the disappointing ending, the rest of the book is well worth the read. I struggled though trying to think of a suitable age I would put this book out to. I saw on some website some kids as young as 11 reading it, and there is no way I would tell my niece whose about that age to read it. For me the concept of rape and strangulation along with some of the other gritty events that occur in this book would probably minimum say 14-years-old. But then again, today kids seems to be desensitised from such a young age maybe they wouldn’t find it as horrifying as I know I would have done aged 11.

To purchase this book by it here at Amazon.

Nikita By Niki – Statement Jewellery Acasia Review

A few weeks ago I was struck down with what can only be described as awe-inspired lust. Lust doesn’t hit me very often, but when it does boy it hits me hard. So hard that I tend not to be able to think about much else until, I have either gotten over my craving for said object (which rarely happens) or have given myself over to it (99.9% of the time).

Simplistic, minimalistic jewellery take a step back, and embrace how Nikita by Niki (to see our short interview click here) is going to put you in your place.

If big, striking jewellery is not for you look at it anyway. These necklaces have been crafted into works of art, and they need to be seen and appreciated even if you never dare to wear one. I’ll be the first to admit, that the necklace Acasia from the Rhinestone Collection is probably the fanciest piece of jewellery that is currently gracing my jewellery box and for good reason.

Take a look at this.

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It’s wonderfully made, and feels totally secure which, seeing as there is lot of detailing and embellishments on the necklace and it’s not the lightest of object is fantastic. There is nothing worse then reaching for a necklace only for it to snap whilst you’re wearing it. Trust me, I’ve been there (a lot).

This style is called Acasia and cost me £22, which in my head is an absolute bargain. Topshop sell eeny-weeney necklaces for about the same price, so really rock on Niki. From the Rhinestone Collection it features (perhaps obviously) rhinestones. I was taught to beware the rhinestone in great quantities as rhinestone can often equal pure tack. Shudder. But with this carefully crafted piece around my neck I don’t feel the slightest bit cheap considering the price or the amount of rhinestone featured. For me to find a necklace with this many embellishments and like it, not in the least wear it is a small miracle in itself. This necklace is positively beautiful, it screams elegance and for being a relatively chunky piece feels and looks delicate. Each flower, each beaded link and each wonderful dangle dingle (my name for the hanging bits) create a mesmerising look, and really stand out when paired with a super simple outfit.

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It’s totally okay to be jealous of this piece. Even though I am the proud owner of this gem of a necklace I’m jealous of it. In some respects necklaces like this really worry me. How the heck can someone like me; pretty frumpy and plus size pull of a necklace like this? I see them wrapped round the necks of girls who I consider to be Twiggy-esque and think: “Nah, that would never work on me,”BUT and it has to be capitalised I think, now I own the necklace it’s less to do with what I look like and more to do with confidence.

I do think a person needs a certain amount of confidence to pull of a necklace of this sort. It’s a total standout piece and looks and feels beautiful on. The only issue I can really comment on is that I think I have a rather large neck, caused by a mixture of too much food and genes I would imagine and therefore I think the necklace is a little snug, but for 50p online you can buy a little extender so that really is not an issue at all.

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I really can’t give Niki enough praise when it comes to this piece as it well and truly has me astounded. It’s wonderful and so far has been a talking point when I wear it. Everybody wants to know where I got it from, clearly they have amazing taste. So I’ve had another look at Niki’s website and chosen my favourite two pieces which are going on my birthday wish list.

1. PARIS by NikitabyNiki

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2. AZURE by NikitabyNiki

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For Niki’s beautiful website click here!

If you want to find out more about Niki, read our interview here.

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