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

Pandora and the girls

It feels like it has been an age since I last posted on here, which in some respects it has. There was nothing important keeping me from blogging more a mind block about blogging. I guess I’ve never been very imaginative. So I thought I would start by semi-bragging about an unbelievable gorgeous 22nd birthday present I got from some of my girl friends.

My birthday was in September but in true best-friends-no-matter-what fashion there has been far too much going on, what with me not being in the same country for any serious amount of time or just plain forgetfulness for them to have handed my lovely present over. So, January is when I got it. And I am in love.

I never expected my friends to get me something so perfect for me. I should have known that they know me far too well.

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And so of course, the joy of opening a Pandora present begins for me. I am an utter Pandora freak. I love all their collections and when I realised that I was opening a little story book-esque Pandora box I was silently freaking out.

Inside, was just as good.

Incased in this very pretty protective box were these little gems.

Made from sterling silver and Lapis Lazulli, which is maybe unsurprisingly the gemstone of September babies like myself, they were just sitting staring at me asking to be worn.

I believe these babies cost £45, although I shouldn’t really of sneaked but hey it was all for the blog.

They come in each birthstone year which as always I will link to each one at the end.

The girls who got me this I have known for almost ten years. They have seen me through some of the toughest times in the world. I sometimes wonder what the heck I would be like today if I didn’t have them weighing in and giving me advice and love on even the smallest and most trivial matter. They, all of them are uniquely brilliant and talented and my life is so much better for knowing them.

I wish that each person could know the happiness that these ladies bring into my life, even just a little bit of it would make anyone’s day better. When you find a friend, even if you don’t realise it or want it they bury their way into your heart and make you a better person.

Back to business though of course, and as promised here are all the linked Pandora earrings by month and birthstone.

January – Garnet

February – Amethyst

March – Aquamarine

April – Rock Crystal

May – Chrysoprase

June – Moonstone

July – Carnelian

August – Peridot

September – Lapis Lazulli

October – Opal

November – Citrine

December – Turquoise

 

The Prospect of Getting Fitter – Adidas Adipure 360.2 Celebration Review

The prospect of getting fitter is always such a nice thought, but a terrible idea. I know that I don’t want to stay in my hole of self-hate and instead want to go and get that extra-gorgeous dress which would look so nice if say I dropped half my body weight but I just love food.

Anyways, in order to prompt and preferably push me onto my path of extra-healthy, working out and getting fitter path I have, wait for it, purchased a new pair of trainers. I will note that before this I was going to review a different new pair of trainers which I fell in love with but my dog ate them. No joke. She ate them. So instead as I found these beauties. I would also like to establish the fact that I have never in my life purchased anything from Adidas. Never. Up until now I, very wrongly I’m sure pictured the Adidas brand in a Sunderland and Essex both remaining unnamed nightclubs. Yes, this did actually happen and no I don’t want to go into the details about how horrified I was that tracksuits were allowed in night clubs (i really tried not to judge) however! I’m so happy I discovered these trainers and actually some of their other more gorgeous training gear.

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For too long, Adidas has been at least in my mind a stereotypical brand type for chavs (sorry, nothing against you all I was once one too) and although I’m sure they’ve probably always had nice merchandise, my new trainers are just gorgeous, and so is some of their other range. Anyways enough about my stereotypical judgement which as per usual is probably wrong, and more about my lovely trainers.

Called the Adidas Adipure 360.2 CC – Celebration (longest name every for a pair of runners) I chose mine in a pretty mint colour. These shoes have an interesting cheetah spot pattern along them, which really isn’t that consistent but does it give it a more chic feeling. I also think and hope it makes them more unique. I hate the three stripes but what can you say, I can’t ring up Adidas and just say please change your logo. I guess I could try?

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With the upper shoe made from air mesh meaning lots of breathability for your foot, it keeps your tootsies cool whilst you work up a sweat. The breathability of these trainers is really the main focus of this shoe I feel, with the lining made of mesh as well. I love that on the bottom of the rubber sole there are gaps for added breathability. What I did notice when I got these pretties home was that they aren’t overly flexible which for me is probably a shame as I love a whole lot of foot movement but I was told by the shop keeper, who obviously had no interest in selling them to me at all that they would work for my needs, i.e. getting fitter.

Personally.

I think they are lovely, but I will be the first to admit I haven’t worn them to work out in. I’m off to Cubaton tomorrow evening though, so i guess terrifyingly we will see how they stand up.

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I actually couldn’t find them on the Adidas store, and was having trouble loading images to see if my shoes were the same as on the website so I tracked down another pair, American but you get the idea. On that website they are $90.

I think this might be them, but like I said I can’t actually see the image to verify. Whoops.

In Dubai I paid AED 475 which converts in GBP to approximately £80 which is probably a usual price for a pair of good quality trainers although I hate to say I made a purchase for trainers of that price, however I’m going to ignore it.

Tell me what you think, pretty colour or should have gone different?

The Girl With All The Gifts, M.R. Carey- Review

20140908_161004 “THE MOST ORIGINAL THRILLER YOU WILL READ” is a smack bang promise at the top of this yellow covered book of creepy heart wrenching goodness. Seemingly a novel like no other it promises something that in itself would seem impossible – originality. So many novels, short stories and other forms of literature have been written and read is it possible for any form of writing to be original anymore?

Well, of course only in my opinion I would have to say no, I think it’s extremely unlikely you will ever come across a piece of material, sit down and have a good read and think: “Wowzers, I’ve never read anything like that before.” At least I haven’t. I can relate so many things I’ve read to so many other things that I’ve either read, seen or heard I feel as if originality is something that now is unachievable.

Having said that, or written it rather there is an element to this book that did have me thinking that maybe my opinion was wrong. There’s no doubt in my mind that this book reaches for originality in a way that I’m not sure other thriller authors have done or achieved better yet, however I can still see traces of other story lines within its pages.

Still, originality is hard to come by and this author, M.R.Carey has definitely got me to rethink my pessimistic view that originality is no longer achievable.

This book is a must!

It’s everything a thriller should be – thrilling (shocker that), tense and more importantly there is such an opportunity to have empathy for all the characters within this story. Set in a post-apocolyptic Britain (yes my home country) it features a variety of characters from the devout-to-science Dr Caldwell to the child Melanie who Caldwell wants to cut up. The difference in characters are really developed allowing each of the main characters to become people and leave you with a vested interest in wanting to know what will happen to them, and feeling awful or elated when something bad/good happens.  The plot, without giving too much away, is about a virus (when is post-apocolyptic not about a virus?) which has changed a whole lot people into a lot of bad things when bitten, I would probably describe them as some kind of zombie or Reaver (if you’re a fan of Firefly and Serenity like me) but less bad in some ways and more bad in others. Was that helpful? Probably not. A base of surviving military people, scientists and psyhchatrists are running a clinic featuring young infected children trying to work out how to save the world. When the inevitable happens and they get overrun by outsider Hungries (the zombie name for the baddies). The next part of the book covers their consequent escape from both hungries and human rebel forces and their hope in reaching another place of safety.

One of the most poignant parts of this book is the relationship that forms between Melanie, the infected child and Miss Justineau. A mother/daughter relationship, if you will. One that during the course of the book becomes more intense and in a way peculiar. As a reader you become totally vested in the safety that one brings to the other but at the same time you are well aware, as are both the characters that it’s a relationship that won’t hold. It seemed as if you could if you wanted to analyse the story back to from that Carey had created an ethical question of when can a mother or surrogate stop or start loving a child who is a considered a monster, and how can something be a monster if it can love? Deep stuff. However Carey himself states that any ethical issues he might bring up are: “not even an matter of conscious thought.”

Something totally gorgeous about this book is how Carey relates and in someways mirrors Greek myths throughout. The Greek mythology is constantly mentioned, especially Pandora’s Box which as the story comes to a close you see what a beautiful reflection of the original Greek work it is. A plot so totally different and yet so similar.

Without giving away the end, which I promise I won’t. This book raises all kinds of questions about the fragility of humanity, the hopeless of humanity and in some respects the hope that humanity has in itself as the most superior species to fix what they deem is wrong.

Give this book and I highly doubt you’ll regret it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Girl-With-All-Gifts/dp/0356502732

http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/m-+r-+carey/the+girl+with+all+the+gifts/9221275/