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.
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
Well hello. It has literally been ages. I think my last post was way back in October of 2015, about Kanpai in Dubai (aha, that rhymes, yes I sat here giggling away). You’ll have to bear with me, I feel like I’ve literally forgotten how to form entertaining and half-decent sentences since I last wrote a post. I wholeheartedly apologise for the mess of words that no doubt is to come.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know generally speaking I can be quite a chaotic writer, you would think being a postgraduate student at present that writing would be a fundamental necessity. Somehow I think I’ve got worse. I know, I know that’s probably not the case but have you ever felt more stupid even though you’re being educated. That is me – right now.
But this post isn’t about my questionable writing skills, it’s about an update.
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but I relocated to Dubai from the UK to finish my studies in the September of 2015. Fingers crossed, in May of this year I’ll be finishing and I’ll be well on my way to finding myself a real adult job. Honestly, I’m super excited to finish, and to return full-time to England, my home.
Dubai has been a struggle for me, to say the least.
I think a lot of that has to do with the limited amount of time I spend with people. I’m constantly studying, and where as the people I do know out there prefer to head to the beach (understandably, for a beautiful sunny country) or head out for a night clubbing – I’m not a beach goer (self-confidence crisis always likes to strike) and dancing the night away in shoes I can’t walk in make me uncomfortable. It’s definitely my fault that I’ve made limited connections, but it is something I’d like to work on for the rest of my time in Dubai.
I was lucky enough during 2016, to visit a whole load of places during the Summer months whilst I was back home with my dad, I’ll be writing a post or two on my blog about them with some of the photographs I’ve took whilst I was there.
I spent Christmas at home in the UK with my dad, and at the moment I’m still in England, spending the last couple of weeks before I head back to university to finish my degree program.
In some ways I’m looking forward to going back, but in others I dread leaving. It’s a bit up and down. I want to finish as soon as possible so I can finally really settle down and find myself a nice little job to start saving for a little place of my own, or at least a flat share.
Honestly guys, I’ve missed you and I’ve missed this. Blogging and just letting go of feelings, it’s such a relief. I hope I can keep this up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Right lets get the apology over with first of all. I have to say such a big sorry about my long absence over the past few weeks. It’s honestly nothing personal, well actually it’s all very personal. A few weeks back I got my first bar job. And since then I’ve been as busy as a buzzing bee.
It’s difficult to explain to you how much I’ve changed since getting this job. Before I was stuck in a rut of rejection and pretty much laziness. Since my graduation back in July 2014 I’ve applied for well over 250 jobs each time writing a cover letter, attaching my CV and bits an bobs I’ve written but alas nothing. To be honest I can’t complain too much. I have an amazing support network and when it all got a bit too much, a friend said she could possibly get my me a job in a local pub and here I am now.
I love it. Literally it’s so much fun, the people, the other staff it’s all really lovely here. I’m slowly, very slowly that is getting used to pulling pints and serving food and hopefully I’m doing a half decent job.
Really though the main difference that I can see since I started working is in me. I work irregularly hours sometime and usually work weekends so I have to really plan when I want to go out to make sure it’s at times that work but that’s hardly an issue. The one thing that has really really stood out to me since I started working here a few weeks ago is that my confidence has come up.
I wouldn’t say that my self confidence is severely low, but on the outside I’m always this bubbly cotton ball fluff mess, someone actually described me like this, but like most people on the inside I suffer a whole load of insecurity and suffer from self destructive habits like calling myself names and other bits, that really are too personal to make public. The facade I put on for others has never really been who I am before but since I started meeting new people and realising that I can actually hold a decent and funny conversation with someone. Or that I can take the lead if a person, whose come in for a quick few, just needs their mind taking off the stresses of their daily life I can accommodate it. And strangely, I think I might be quite alright at it.
I like people. I like thinking that people might actually like me. And I like thinking that potentially I can make a person feel better about their day.
Whilst I’m working here I’ve been swept off my feet with how much work a bar/pub staff actually have to do. It can be quite tiring stuff and whilst I’ve had from some people the old: “that’s not a real job,” I can safely say being on my feet for 8 hours a day, dealing with issues and serving people all with a smile on my face even at the most difficult times is most definitely a job and I literally salute all those people out their who suffer from the same stigma that I have unexpectedly starting facing.
“You went to uni, you should have a real job,”.
Well if you really don’t want to class what I do as “real” that’s fine but as luck would have it I haven’t found anything in my trade that I studied. I haven’t had my “lucky break” in that sector but honestly I think of myself very lucky to be working under a great boss, with other staff who are lovely and be earning a living. Quite frankly it’s better then doing nothing at all, which is what I was doing. Sorry if that doesn’t fit with your idea of me. Actually I’m not sorry. Fuck it. I like what I’m doing. Even if I stay here, one month or for the next few years I won’t be able to regret taking on a job that wasn’t potentially what I ‘should’ be doing after I graduated.
I’m still young and I still want to enjoy all life has to offer. So I’m saving and planning for the future but meanwhile I’m going to enjoy having a laugh with the locals and serving pints even if I never learn how to pull a perfect pint of IPA.
Some of you by now hopefully have read my little blog on NikitaByNiki’s Acasia piece, if you haven’t you can click here to catch up. For those of you who saw how much I rated the necklace I got from NikitabyNiki I got to ask founder Niki Mahon some questions about her brand and what inspires her to come up with the beautiful pieces she has over on her website.
ME: Firstly, basics. I know your name is Niki Mahon and NikitabyNiki was started in 2014, but how old are you, and when did you realise you wanted to establish and create jewellery?
NIKI: I have very recently turned 23. I work full time as a Senior Account Manager at a mobile and web development agency in London. I have always been one to multi-task and fill my spare time with something productive and beneficial. I realised I had a genuine passion for jewellery at the age of 16 when I secured my first job at ‘Silverleaf Jewllery Ltd’, managing the store and creating unique pieces by hand. I absolutely loved this job, however pursuing a degree and securing a full time job were of top priority before exploring this avenue further and growing it into a business.
You could say as a typical girly-girl and perfectionist, I am drawn to and love making things pretty, and I am thrilled that I am now in a position in my life where I can devote my time to a jewellery brand that I firmly believe in.
ME: What or who was the inspiration behind the beginnings of NikitabyNiki? NIKI: The best word to describe my jewellery is ‘Statement’. Although I wear dainty, delicate pieces on a daily basis, I believe when a woman dresses up, she does not need to break into her purse and buy an entire new outfit every time. The NikitaByNiki pieces aim to be feminine and flattering, yet bold enough to transform any ensemble again and again without having to worry about wearing the same outfit twice.
ME: How involved are you in the designing, creating and making process of your pieces? NIKI: I currently source the pieces from trustworthy and talented manufacturers worldwide. My connections are obtained through networking, researching and travelling. Initially I sourced existing styles, however my most recent ventures involve channeling my love for drawing and design by customising and creating the NikitaByNiki pieces myself to ensure they are unique, beautiful and of a great quality.
ME: Where did the influence come from for your Boho and Rhinestone Collection? NIKI: The Boho Collection was born first. I was so intrigued by the the London look of casual outfits dressed with bohemian silver cuffs and large statements. I wanted to branch out further and test the market with the Rhinestone collection soon after. This collection, for me, represents more evening wear, providing a more glitzy and elaborate addition to what can otherwise be a sleek and simple outfit. Naturally, I went on to further pursue those that proved to be the most popular and have the highest demand.
In April, I am going to be launching the NikitaByNiki Ring Collection which compliments both collections by combing vintage silvers and classic gem stones.
ME: Are there specific pieces from each of those collections that you think represent you and your brand the best, and why? NIKI: I would definitely say I have some brand ambassadors within the two collections. In the Rhinestone Collection, Zahara and Aurora are solid examples of how a pieces can add the ‘wow’ factor to any look. Within the Boho collection, Paris is one that I believe to stand out on the website amongst both photoshoot and product photography.
ME: Are there any brands of jewellery, or other people who influence the designs that you create? NIKI: Yes absolutely!
Interestingly, a lot of inspiration comes from clothes designers and gorgeous jewel encrusted wedding pieces; Zuhair Murad embellished gowns inspire me with their ability to look utterly classy without approaching the border of tacky and ‘blingy.’
In terms of jewellery, I have inspirations whom I strive to surpass. These are people and companies whom I prefer to hold close to my chest.
ME: Lastly, what do you want your buyers to feel when they wear your pieces? NIKI: What drives me most is the feedback I get from ecstatic customers. A tremendous amount of effort goes into the final touches and packaging of each item and each order receives a small thank you note which has proven to attain repeat orders.I strive for all items to reach their owners safely, in the expected condition and for my customers to be able to wear their pieces over and over again without any hesitance.
Ultimately, I want my buyers to feel how I feel when wearing NikitaByNiki statements: beautiful, comfortable and stylish.
So this week, I went through two books the first was The Miniaturist, and next was this fantastmiscal (yes made up but necessary) book by Lena Dunham. In fact this little gem is so good, I read it in one day. I simply couldn’t put it down, and when I did it made my head hurt so I picked it straight back up so I could finish it.
Oh Lena, well done.
I am not a fan of Lena Dunham, I have never once watched HBO’s Girls which she writes, directs, and stars in as I just thought it looked boring. I would go as far as to say that when I saw the advert, I almost felt a bit sick. I sort of stuffed Lena Dunham into the category of: she’s there but I’m not bothered by her, in fact I can’t remember what she look like. Harsh, but a reality in my life. I do tend to categorise. Well I should have listened to my mum and dad when they said never judge a book by its cover, because how hilarious is this woman. Utterly hilarious is the answer.
This book is the correct mix of; shock factor – when she discusses her rape which she herself is confused about and some odd and slightly worrying bits about her sister, humour – all the other bits, and generally giving the air that you could get to know this woman and actually, maybe even surprisingly like her. Now I’ve read it I feel bad about how I sort of judged her before I even ‘got to know her’. You feel as if you can relate to Lena if not because some her weird confessions and hilarious anecdotes remind you of your own life but, because of her language. The way a friend talks to a friend, and not just a friend but someone they feel like they can really trust. And you, the reader feel sort of special because it seems as if she is discussing things that are usually keep confined inside.
Dunham is honest, and that counts for a lot.
In a world where so many people lie about the big things and so many lie about the small things, whether that’s in their books, television, press or just their daily lives Lena Dunham seems, at least, to be epitomise honesty. From declaring that she had a weird sex dream involving her dad, yikes, to how she coped with therapy, Lena explores what it means to be a woman, the pros and the cons. Blanched with feminism, but supportive of men at the same time, she seems to have a rather quirky self awareness and she imparts the wisdom that she has ‘learned’ to all those who chose to read this.
I have never been a fan of autobiographies or any type of biographies at all, in fact I avoid them like the plague. I don’t really know why, they don’t tend to offend me or amuse me, but really I think why should I care that much about that person’s life. It’s not my business. It’s theirs, and personal life should be personal, even if you live in the public eye. You shouldn’t relive your childhood for a profit. But maybe once again, I’ve been too quick to judge. I would seriously consider reading another biography now, but I truly wonder if anyone can touch on Lena Dunham’s honest way of writing and her satirical self-deprecation which makes her, to me a person I would actually invest my time in. Any ideas for my next biography?
So you want to eat out in Theatreland,London, but you want to avoid the overpriced and stuffy air that can come with some eateries in the West End. Ladies and Gentlemen, look no further then this little gem, which sits perched at the top of Leicester Square, Muriel’s Kitchen.
This branch, one of three (the others are in SoHo and South Kensington) is perfect, if like me and my aunt you’re looking for a dainty and easy atmosphere, that serves fast but extraordinarily scrummy food. Picture it if you will, having dashed into Foyle’s Bookshop searching for a mosaic-ed map floor which seems to know longer exist since their move, desperately hungry but worried about missing the show they’ve book to see, two women scrambling around to find a restaurant. Well it wasn’t quite like that, but it was sort of close.
Deciding to eat relatively near to The Prince of Wales Theatre, meant walking through Leicester Square. And there on our right-hand side we saw balloons. Yellow balloons, welcoming balloons that called to us, and said: “Don’t worry, we’ll feed you,” and so they did. In we entered, and were greeted by what can only be described as a jumping/dancing waiter called Jack, full of energy and best of all saw we needed comfy seating. Leading us over to a sofa area, and sitting down you actually get the chance to look around, and for some reason, feel at home in the warm aura this restaurant brings.
I’m still now, trying to think of something I really can make a bad comment about with Muriel’s and so far I keep coming up blank. The service was incredibly lovely. Jack, the server was funny, polite and took all our orders promptly, and I’d like to point out without a notepad. Memory skills are always a good thing, especially when you remember the orders right. He was engaging, but without that oh-so-typical: “how’s the food,” that for some reason, lots of waiting staff seem to ask right as you put a piece of something in your mouth. The awkward question usually leading to an awkward thumbs up from me.
Plus, there are swinging seats.
Now I’m not all about the furnishings and quality of staff on this blog, I know that I need to get to food. Muriel’s Kitchen has a monthly chancing menu, which for the one on at the moment click here for.
So take a look.
This was my meal, and just looking at this picture is literally making me dribble. I could get on a train and go back to have this again, and again for possibly the rest of time. It was just scrumptious, the chips were perfectly cooked and came in a little flower pot which tickled me, almost senseless and the pork was, well as BBQ-ed as you’d ever need it. It was sticky goodness, and it came with extra sauce, which is something I always have to ask for, which is a bonus in my eyes. Less talking = more time eating. Although demolishing food has always been pretty easy for me, this meal was definitely filling. I ended up having to leave the buns because there was just so much meat. It was an outstanding burger.
Now this was my aunt’s food so I’m not technically sure how good it was, but the plate was clear and we were both pretty silent as we ate. Not silent in a bad way, but more the silence that fills the air when the food is too good and conversation just can’t compete. On a side note, the skewers this chicken came on is massive.
Yummy in my tummy. This dessert was , so amazing. I was stuck between this Our Famous Carrot And Walnut Cake, £5.25 and some other dessert which now seems like ancient history in my mind. I’m so grateful that this is what Jack suggested because my goodness, this was a form of heaven. It was moist, it had flavour, the creamy bit on top and in the middle was just magically. And when I couldn’t fulfil my destiny in eating magnificent cake, that was just oh-so-big Jack kindly wrapped it up for me to munch right now. Honestly this cake is just wonderful, and I’m so happy I can still enjoy whilst I’m writing this post.
Di’s dessert was apparently also pretty fantastic. One moment looking and I saw this interesting looking pot containing Bread And Butter Pudding, £6, with a little side of custard that was surprisingly plenty for the dish, the next it was empty. I think I was lucky I insisted on taking a quick snap before it got gobbled. It did smell absolutely wonderful, mind.
When I got home from this amazing dinner, I did a bit of research about Muriel’s Kitchen and it made me like it even more then I already did. When I read the story behind the restaurant I though it would be a really nice add to this blog, as it just so personal.
Muriel’s Kitchen is run by a husband and wife team, called Charlotte and Sam. Charlotte’s grandmother was called Muriel and according to the website: “she was not only a brave and wonderful woman but an absolutely fantastic cook.” ‘Nana Muriel’s’ Kitchen was the: “heart of her home,” and this it seems is what Charlotte wanted to bring to London. And indeed, you do feel at home in Muriel’s. The food is cooked from scratch by chefs everyday and wherever they can, they use local and ethically sourced produce; from veggies to eggs, fish to chicken everything is thought through before it hits out tables.
You can’t ask for anymore. In case you interested check out their lovely website.