When in Florence…

When I think of romance, I immediately think of Italy. Narrow streets, couples riding Vespas, plant pots on Juliett balconies, sharing ice creams and cigarettes, the sweet smell of garlic lingering on your breath after a bowl of out of this world spaghetti and red wine stained kisses. And my bloody God, Florence was romantic. However, I went to Florence for a long weekend to visit one of my closest friends who is living out there at the moment. So, romance for me – not so much.

I arrived into Pisa and got a bus to Santa Maria Novella station. On arriving into Florence over one of the city’s bridges, whilst observing the picturesque scenery that greeted me, I knew, yes this place is for me! It looks like one big film set. I half expected it to all fall down, revealing a backstage crew. As the bus pulled up I grabbed my little suitcase and met my friend and her flatmate. We chatted away, bearly coming up for air, you know what women are like. Hens on speed! The street was filled with people, not to mention the sea of football shirts, the Tottenham match was on that evening. Florence is like nearly all cities, multicultural. I love listening to the mixture of accents; American, German, English and of course Italian all within me having walked about 500metres, a mishmash of culture.

After arriving at the stunning apartment, which has perfect rooftop views. I had an obligatory glass of red wine, unpacked and we headed to a well-known family run restaurant. My friend goes to the British Institute there so 10 of her friends joined us, all from across the world. The restaurant was particularly deceiving, it looked tiny from the outside but it seemed never ending inside. The atmosphere was electric and the food was what Italian food is all about. Not to mention the price, honestly, cheap as chips!!

The following day, while nursing a tender head, the girls showed me some of the places to go to in Florence. The famous squares, Piazza della Signoria and Piazza del Duomo, which were stunning. We then rewarded ourselves with the best ice cream I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot) at Gelateria Venchi, which is one of the most famous ice cream parlours in the city. If you go have the nougat ice cream! To die for. Afterwards we went to the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. You won’t run out of things to see here, but it’s not a renaissance overload, a really good collection of sculptures, armoury and paintings. It gives you a real sense of Florence’s history. As the sun was beginning to set we trekked up to the highest point in Florence, Piazzale Michaelangelo. Breathtaking and accompanied with a man singing love songs with his guitar. What’s not to love? Take a little picnic and bottle of champagne, you’d gain some serious brownie points!

That night we went to one of the more fancy restaurants in Florence, but I’ve completely forgotten the name. Shame on me. We had a delicious meal and wine to match, the atmosphere again was great and was filled with people from all over the world. I think we were the last people to actually leave the restaurant, that’s how good it was. As our food was going down we walked across the city to meet everyone else at the Westin Excelsior Hotel, which is situated right on the river and has a glass rooftop bar that overlooks the city. The decor was typically Italian, marble floors, deep red cushioned seats, golden sculptures and the friendliest staff. Again, the views were breathtaking.

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I had a brilliant weekend. I wish I had been able to stay longer but the reality of university started to encroach. Oh the guilt! I can’t recommend Florence enough. If it’s not on your to-do list then it should be. It’s an inexpensive city, you can even walk from one end to the other, no taxis required. The food and wine are, well, I think you know how I feel about them. Again, not expensive, even the cheap wines are good. Unlike in England where a cheap, house wine tastes like malt vinegar. Not to mention the horrendous hangover it gives you the next day. No thanks. There is so much to see and do that you won’t get bored after a long weekend. The only downside is the carbs, I’ve definitely come home a stone heavier, but when in Florence….

Have you guys been to Florence before? Where’s your favourite place in Italy?

Take care,

B x

Don’t Search So Hard For Happiness…

On this rainy and dare I say, wintery bank holiday Monday, I have been thinking about rather morbid and mundane things. Dark I know! With the recent deaths of Lord Richard Attenborough and Robin Williams RIP, which I am so unbelievably sad about. Alongside reading my Zen Life book, I have been assessing my own life.

I always used to think that I’d live a short life. I could never imagine myself as a little old lady with silver hair and a companion in the shape of a small dog, I could barely imagine my wedding day, or the colour of my children’s hair. I think this is the main reason I thought I wouldn’t live to be a ripe old age, I’m not very good at envisioning my future. Or if I attempt to, I get into a blind panic as I mentioned in my previous post. I worry who will still be in my life, or who will be a distant memory of milestones in my life. People aren’t things, you can’t own or keep them. But then I remind myself, life is messy, it’s not meant to run smoothly that’s part of the thrill and excitement. Happiness is what matters and if you find it, hold onto it. It is rarely big, bold and boisterous. It is found in sunsets, kisses, bare feet and freckles on your nose. Laughable, but very true.

I know some of this is a pessimistic view on life, but I think death does that to people, makes you evaluate your own life. Your own wants and desires. But then again, you’re still human, we are all afraid of the unknown. So, in light of all this, I’ve compiled a bucket list. Thinks I hope to do before the age of 30, for those of you who know me, yes, I do have a complex about turning 30! Don’t ask me why! So, here goes…

1. Learn a language, so I can cope with having a conversation
2. Go to nearly every capital city in Europe
3. Stay in the Ice Hotel in Sweden
4. Get through all the films in ‘film club’
5. Go on a protest march for something I am passionate about
6. Get my motorbike license
7. Go to Ibiza on a mad holiday with all my closest friends
8. Go to Glastonbury
9. Hot air-balloon over somewhere beautiful
10. Visit Las Vegas and Los Angeles, more of America basically

Life is all about choosing, choose the things that matter, with the people that matter, because when it comes down to it. All you’ll be left with is the memories.

As an RIP to both the men that have recently died, my family and I are going to watch Mrs Doubtfire (one of my favourite films, ever) tonight and Gandhi another evening this week. Two extremely talented men!

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Hope you’re having a lovely bank holiday, definitely a duvet day!

Take care,
B x

What goes around, comes around

Coming to the end of the year always presents reflection, some good reflection and some bad. The same with everything, 2013 has been a love/hate year. From getting through my first year of university, re-finding friendships, becoming even closer with my best friends to breakups, fall outs and struggling to pass assignments. But hey, a lot happens in 12months.

Don’t you find it weird that life goes on and it feels like nothing is changing. Then when you look back on the year it is scary how different it was in comparison to the year before. I love how life does that. No matter what age you are you are always gaining life experiences, something is continuously changing, sounds so cliche but you develop so much within a year.

Last night we were sat around the dinning room table discussing the best moments for each person in 2013, with laughs, congratulations and reminiscing. As the wine carried on flowing we got to the deeper side of 2013, the worst part of the year. This made me think about karma, something I have repeatedly had faith in. My mother always says, ‘a situation will present itself‘ and yes, most of the time it does. It may not be a week, a month or a year after the event, but believe me, it does happen. It also may not be something you can necessarily see, it may not be that they become homeless or that their boyfriend dumps them. But you can guarantee that something will even out the balance. Being as impatient as I am, I’ve found this particularly hard to grasp.

I try to live by the quote, ‘treat those how you would like to be treated‘ – so, I am going to try and carry on this motto into 2014. I don’t want any negative karma, only positive karma please! I’ve got a few resolutions this year, to learn a language, be less sensitive (I’m a female!) and to go to the gym more regularly (I think that’s everyone’s resolution, a girl can hope) I have a good feeling about 2014. What are your resolutions?

NYE plans are still up in the air, it is possibly one of the most overrated nights ever. All you need is a few bottles of champagne, good food, good music and even better company.

Hope you all have a great start to 2014, start as you mean to go on!

Take care,

B x

She just wanna run around the city and make memories

Hey guys,

It’s been such a hectic week and it’s only Thursday! So, I started back at university and it’s getting very serious already, always reassuring when your lecturer says that last year 17 students out of 65 failed this module! I can sense I’m gonna have to be studying and reading a lot more than last year, (only four weeks until my first assignment!!!) but if I’m honest that wasn’t much anyway. Apart from starting university I’ve been really ill too, have had tonsillitis and it’s now gone into a chest infection, no fun. But I’m feeling much better now, thank God for antibiotics.

I’ve also enrolled in a college near where I live to learn Sign Language, I already know it fluently as my twin brother is deaf. However, I don’t have an official qualification and as I learnt a lot of my signing up north where we used to live, some of the southern signs are different. My aim is to eventually get to a level 6 signer, so that I can be an official interpreter, it’s gonna be so difficult though, but I’m up for the challenge.

I really recommend taking up something new whether it be a language, exercise (my boxing, which was excellent I couldn’t move for a few days) or signing, I’ve decided to make a bucket list which I’ll publish in the next few days, you should make one too! What do you really want to do? Time goes too fast, so I’ve decided to try and do all the things I talk about wanting to do, but actually do them. I watched a film on the life of Gwen Araujo yesterday, which is a harrowing true story of her life and the obstacles she had to overcome, there wasn’t a dry eye in my lounge. The quote she always used to say was, “Life is what you make of it.” – I’m trying to live more with that attitude. Do you have any quotes that you live by? Or any stories that changed your opinion on life?

Off for a yummy curry tonight with my best friend and then the theatre tomorrow evening to see The Drowned Man – Punchdrunk so I’ll let you guys know what I thought about it. Have any of you seen it?

Take care.

B x