Friday, 29 April 2011

On Middleton and Macaroni Cheese

Bank holiday number two is upon us - unfortunately not as hot as the last but not half bad either so I hope you’re taking advantage of it and enjoying whatever it is you’re up to. Strictly speaking my weekend finishes today, but I’m not complaining as I’ve had quite a relaxing few days. One spent with friends and one with family, not a bad deal eh? My life's been through some massive changes the past few months; shattered dreams hurt like anything and it can be difficult to retain a positive outlook but friends and family make it that little bit easier by picking you up and pushing you to go on when you’re at your lowest. Home-made macaroni cheese, crisped up and browned on top, oozing melted cheese in the middle, spoonful by spoonful, works wonders in healing a broken heart... so thank you Rob.

I always find that lying awake in bed at the most anti-social of hours, unable to sleep, is when the mind is at its raciest premium, ticking away like a time bomb. So last night I found myself most unexpectedly pondering how it might have felt to be Kate Middleton, spending her last night as an unmarried woman. What would be going through her mind, anxiety and fear, or anticipation and excitement? Perhaps just contentment, knowing that a life with the man she loves awaits or possibly a stomach in knots at the thought of so many eyes upon her as she walks down the aisle towards a new life.

The ceremony was beyond anything words can describe, larger than life in both sentiment and grandeur; it appeals to some deeply embedded values about love and romance, a real-world epitome of the princess fairytale that we’re force-fed from childhood; one that is so compelling though, that we’re able to ignore mass atrocities worldwide to make it the top story on every news channel. So, despite my dislike of the OTT media hype, here are the highlights of the occasion in my opinion.

1) The vows. A promise to “love, comfort, honour and keep...forsaking all other” perfectly summed up what’s needed to build a secure, stable marriage.

2) Absence of a pre-nup, reflecting William’s intention to keep this woman in his life for life.

3) Pippa Middleton. She’s quite the catch now isn’t she? Looking absolutely stunning in her simple white gown, which she dressed up with her radiant smile and innate elegance, she garnered a lot of media and public attention, making this hottie one to look out for.

I hope now that we (hint*the media*hint) have had our fill of royal hysteria, the couple will be allowed a peaceful and private honeymoon together – and that we can switch on our TVs and radios again with some hope of hearing the normal news lol! It's been another day of lazing today, interwoven with snatches of revision, chores and an impromptu shopping trip to the Harlequin with mum. I found the cuuuuutest Eeyore mug in the Disney store (where else?!), Thornton's Easter eggs at clearance prices (SCORE) and a book I’ve wanted to read for quite some time – at least when I can’t sleep again tonight I'll have something better to do with myself :D Have a great weekend y’all.


Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Lighter Side of Life

“T'was the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...”

Oh oops I’m sorry. I meant that

"T'was the night before the wedding, and all through the nation,
TVs were switched off to avoid media obsession...”

I’ll tell you, it’s most frustrating that even ‘haters’ are talking about the wedding, albeit how to avoid proceedings (yes yes, myself included but that’s besides the point!) Despite concerted, concentrated effort to shun information, speculation and coverage, my very naive attempt at catching up on news last night led to my plunge directly into the clutches of royal scoop - “Kate and Will in rehearsal ceremony”. Yes, well I don’t honestly care BBC, now if you’ll just let me continue reading about the blasts in Marrakech and the storms in the States puh-lease?! Weather-dependent I’m considering taking my bike and hiding away somewhere in the country-side tomorrow. I guess we’ll see. Marriage is beautiful, but isn't it personal?

It’s been a good day today. Spent a lovely afternoon with one of my sweetest girlies, Avni, and we wandered aimlessly (well, I did atleast while she distributed CVs) through Westfield Shopping Centre. It is the first time I've been there with the leisure of having a proper look around and I can now say that I fully understand what all the hype is about. It’s bloomin’ amazing and absolutely huge too. I think the Harlequin centre in Watford (best shopping centre in Herts, pretty great in its own right) would fit into it four or five times over. And it’s not just that, it’s utterly state-of-the-art...très chic indeed. Amongst other things we...

...marvelled at the cake shops (and clearly, posed next to them too)

...went a little overboard at the Lego store (but my oh my, what a store!)

...took rather a long time choosing which ice-cream to have...

...settled for a Mcdonald’s lunch (classy birds, we are) after being discouraged by the mile-long queue outside Nando's

and also discovered what a “fashion virgin” I am. In truth, I've never even heard of half the stores at Westfield's but some of them were so far beyond the throws of my wildest imagination, I don't think words can fully describe my surprise. Explosions of colour and high-fashion aspirations with store set-ups to resemble everything from nightclubs (Hollister, Gilly Hicks) to beaches (Superdry). Fashion scenes change so quickly and whilst it’s definitely important to create your own sense of fashion, roaming a little further than your regular shopping comfort zone just opens up so many more possibilities – who’d have known there are SO many shops to choose from?!

I definitely feel like I have been out of touch with the lighter side of life for a very long time, but today was a great break away from the darker days. Friends are well and truly like angels. A gift to us to let us know that life is beautiful, people can be trustworthy and time will return a lost smile to our face.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Making Molehills out of a Mountain

I’ve been housebound for three full days, and finally it seems a(n ever SO tiny, but nonetheless) significant dent has been made in the humongous mound of revision that beckoned. It’s arduous work but I’ve procrastinated as long as I possibly can without being at risk of flunking again. Urgh summer pleeeeease hurry up already! I do feel awfully productive though as I plough my way through the work; being the class-A control freak that I am, I've made a neat list of topics I need to cover and also drawn up a timetable (colour coordinated an all, something I'll inevitably never stick to but seemed a good idea at the time!), making the mountain seem like... well, slightly more manageable molehills if I’m honest. There’s also satisfaction that knows no bounds in ticking off the topics, one by one, as I finish revising them. Therapeutic. Speaking of which, I think an entire 72 hours plus of house-bounded-ness warrants a full day of retail therapy at least? :D Well, I think so. Off to Westfields tomorrow to meet a girly for lunch, and then (it’s not like I can exactly avoid it at a shopping centre?!) shopping with my best friend Rob. It has been a very long time since I’ve aimlessly window-shopped just because I feel like it. So I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.

I’ve had very many mixed thoughts lately as you’ve probably gathered. While I try everything within in my means to retain a positive outlook it’s really not so easy to switch off feelings. But life is a book of possibilities, and each day a new page. For the story to progress we must turn the page, taking the past as a premise for our future. So I have been trying to occupy my mind with things that make me feel progressive and productive. Preparing for exams, applying for internships, planning the summer and recreating my blog. I was sat on the garden swing this morning in the sunshine, when a quote I heard a very long time ago popped into my head. It's actually from an Indian TV soap (ask my mum for more details) but it just sums up my endeavour perfectly, in Hindi though, so bear with me :)

It roughly translates to – “Life’s nothing more than a cycle of ups and downs. Regretting the lows and taking for granted the highs are both at odds with human existence. The most important thing, is just to move on...”


Monday, 25 April 2011

Qu'est-ce que tu as fait le weekend?

It's another week that's gone by in a flash, and I have to apologise for my slightly sloppy blogging of late - I've been a little distracted as such, as well as racing from job to job 7 days a week. The coming week looks set to be a bit calmer though, promising more time for writing. In the meantime, here are a few things that have been rattling around my brain this Monday....

Tapas. I’m nothing less than enamoured since my first encounter (last week) with the marvellous Spanish cuisine at the rather ripe age of 21. Now, since I haven’t had the time nor means to go hunting for a tapas bar, I decided to make a tortilla de patatas at home for Friday brunch – absolutely delicious! Brunches are by far my favourite meal; the very word has connotations of sociable dining, of cooking and eating with friends and family at the weekend when we have the luxury of time, making for a meal that's leisurely and informal.

Birthday parties. Work was mental yesterday; two tour groups (one from the Czech Republic, the other from South Korea and not a word of English between them) trooped in for breakfast just shy of 8am (on a Sunday, may I add) any many long weekend holiday-makers lounged around the lobby with simultaneous preparations for a grand 18th birthday bash under way upstairs. While the rooms we hire out for functions are the ones used interchangeably for business conferences and meetings, it never fails to amaze me how a little imagination facilitates their complete transformation. Previously for weddings, yesterday for a birthday party, the room looked absolutely beautiful.

Sunshine. I think I need explain this one no further. It has been an unseasonably warm weekend and the joy that comes from revelling in the rays is truly unparalleled. The sun's been beaming all week long from 6am to 9pm and I'm wishing with fingers, toes all crossed that the sunny stretch just continues...:D

The AV Referendum. As a student of politics I feel I would be doing something of a disservice to the discipline in not mentioning the upcoming referendum; the campaign has been somewhat sidelined in the press, what with all the hype and hysteria surrounding the royal wedding and generally, it seems people don’t know (enough) or just don’t care. But the referendum really matters because it’s about the primary point of public participation in politics. When we vote, we entrust somebody with the duty of representing us fairly and accurately in the supreme law-making body of the state. So isn’t it important we instil a system of voting apt in generating a parliament with wide-spread public approval and support? The only newspaper that’s really devoted more column space to campaigning for a more democratic system, than to the marriage of yet another unelected head of state-to-be is the Independent I reckon. They explain the viability of AV methodically, assessing it's merits against the current system and often support it with anecdotes to make understanding clearer. And it does make sense. While I’m not disregarding the No2AV campaign, it’s difficult to see it as anything more that the typical Conservative reaction to any change, in way, shape or form. Conservatism is purely reactionary, they like to preserve the status quo against all odds. But change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Without getting into the nitty gritties, I will refer you onto this link – I think it does pretty well in pulling apart the ‘no’ campaign.

Well, I think that’s me done... I'm off to bask in the sunshine now. I hope you have a wonderful time, whatever you’re doing for the remainder of the weekend x

Saturday, 23 April 2011

New Looks, Old Love and Fresh Starts...

So welcome to the new look blog - a new look, I'm hoping, to reflect a new life. It’s Easter tomorrow, and I couldn’t think of an occasion more befitting, to start over again. I'm a single girl now, not by choice but by default. I know I’m not the first and last to suffer a break-up, but that doesn’t make it any easier, right?! A break up hurts like f***; it’s not just losing some-one, but also all the shared dreams and commitments; it’s uncharted territory where everything is disrupted: routine, responsibilities, even your identity. To top it, there’s the doubts and questions, outright fears; What will life be like? Will you end up alone? What did you do wrong? Doesn’t exactly help when all anyone is talking about is...


Even if you bury your head in the sand for the next week, you’re gonna be hard pushed to avoid this one; as a British subject I can’t say I exactly understand the hype, but, as a girl, I somehow feel a little differently. This week’s been packed with catching the latest on the Will-Kate wedding (strictly for work purposes, I assure you), but looking at pictures of Kate, it’s not difficult to see why the girl looks so happy. She wears a ring on her finger, given to her by the man she loves.

(I’m not always this soppy. You can put the sick bucket away now).

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Thursday 21st April 2o11

Last day today of almost three 7-day weeks and I’m SO excited about having a lie in tomorrow it’s almost sad... but then consecutive 6am alarms aren’t really too much fun.

It’s my last day, also, in Old Street today. Every time I have set foot out of the underground station a beautiful new development of flats has towered over me, ominously – and I have to say, living in one of them, one day, is a dream. London is just SO expensive though, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s over-populated, over-hyped by foreigners, and really got something to it (I almost feel like I should rename this blog “the London diaries”, the amount I seem to harp on about it.) But really, London, whoever you are, and wherever you’re from, is a city you can make your own, call your own. YouGov has been great experience and fortunately for me it looks like I will continue writing for the site once a week.

At the moment it feels as though I’m living a cycle I’m just unable to break out of. I wake up, everyday, hoping to feel better, to have forgotten some of the past. But it never happens; I realise though, that as much as I wish it would stand still for me, time is moving on, and so too is the world. So from me, for now, it’s over and out. xxx

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Wednesday 20th April 2o11

*Maybe I lied. The highlight of my day was actually discovering a link on the BBC news website to one of my articles on the YouGov page. I have to say though that despite absolutely lovin’ this work experience, the very best parts of my day come often when I’m home, where an aura of hope and happiness pervades, and though we have troubles like any other family, we just count the blessing that we are all well and together. We joke and laugh, eat together and there’s a reassurance in knowing that the house is ‘full’, the family complete.

I feel a little melancholy today – it’s glorious outside and the warmth takes me back to summer times gone by. It’s still difficult to digest the truth, that sometimes what we lose in the passage of time can never, ever come back.

We’re 2/3 of the way through April already, even though the start of the year seems only just to have passed. It’s crystal clear in my mind, the memory of a midnight filled with promise as though it were just yesterday. So far 2011 has brought little other than struggle, but I haven’t given up hope that when things are as bad as they can possibly be, they will only get better. The seasons are smiling, and so too will life.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tuesday 19th April 2o11

I finished reading “Short Girls” today and while the title suggests a “chick-flick” genre of novel, it is in fact a little gem of a read, albeit undercover (a little tongue-in-cheek, I know). On the surface it tells the story of American-born-and-raised Vietnamese sisters Van and Linny; their lives, careers and relationships, with men, their ageing father and each other. Ultimately, though, it maps the quest of two individuals for their respective identities. While some people have the courage to forge their own identity, it’s often easier to assume the one that your surroundings thrust upon you. Sometimes we forget our individuality to fit the mould society fashions for us – forgo one identity in endeavouring to fit into another. Take the niqab ban imposed in France early last week - forgo your religion if you want to be ‘French’. So Short Girls tells a tale of something the same, girls struggling to reconcile their Vietnamese heritage with the American culture they wish to embrace; it’s enlightening, informative and real.

The highlight of my day was, undoubtedly, taking the early train into Euston and walking through the city in the balmy morning sunshine, with, wait for it, a free Caffe Nero hot choc in hand, from having frequented the coffee shop far too often ;) But dedication clearly pays off, notwithstanding the 9 drinks I had to pay for to get the 10th one free lol. That's not the point, is it? Lunch was no less enjoyable, just being able to step out, bathed in warmth, rather than shuddering from the cold. I took a tentative walk through the Whitecross street market, just a stones throw from the YouGov offices and while it’s relatively small, I was very pleasantly surprised by the hustle-bustle of the London lunchers, the hotch-potch of exotic food and fruit stalls creating for a melting pot of global cuisines. From Caribbean jerk chicken to Thai prawn curry, Mexican fried rice and Italian Pizza Margherita – Hell, even French crêpes, Japanese sushi and your English fish ‘n’ chips – you name it and they got it. Absolutely incredible, I do recommend a visit.

Having been trapped indoors for most of this beautiful day, it's almost home time now and I'm hoping to catch the last of the spring sun before it sets for the day. So, it’s over and out. X

Oh, just one more example by the way of wedding mania gone far too far. I mean, seriously?!


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