Saturday, 30 July 2011

You Have 555 New Emails


I think it's safe to say that I have post-holiday blues. Or post-travel depression if we're going to be precise. You see, the trouble with holidays is that they do come to an end. One minute you're lying on the beach, the sun on your skin, thinking about which cocktail you'll order in the evening; the next you're back home facing a mountain of dirty washing, 555 urgent, unanswered emails and nothing to look forward to. It's back to the same old chores and challenges. And as much as I'm trying to make the most of my time (in terms of being productive and enjoying it), I am, quite literally, consumed with thoughts of how to get away again and how quickly. Sounds awful doesn't it? But there's just no way out of it.

Ever since my break up in March, I've been circulating around the same few places. Caffe Nero where we'd have coffee (I a hot chocolate, he a latte) on our way home from work, Moons where we'd go out for drinks with colleagues and the 142 that goes into Edgware. The same places, smells, sounds and even people that bring a hundred memories rushing back with every passing moment. So I guess that's what Italy was for me; a much needed break away from a city we once shared and a chance to ponder in a space not linked to my past. And now that I've had a taste of that freedom, I feel captive; caught in a never ending loop of wanting desperately to look forward and feel better, but not quite cutting it because of my surroundings and feelings.

I suppose you could think of it as throwing a stone into serene waters, one that doesn't disappear without causing ripples at the surface. So pain is the same - as hard as you try to bite the bullet it's a long time before the ripples of distress go away. Agreed, with time they become less pronounced, less obvious until one day they disappear altogether. But who's to say how long it will take?


Friday, 29 July 2011

Hits Like a Ton of Bricks

It's the end of another week ALREADY, gone from six weeks straight down to five until exams. Eek :/ It's been a great week though owing probably to the fact that I've spent it sleeping, socialising, shopping and…and well, not a lot else if I'm honest. Time really is whizzing on by. We've finally sorted through our photographs, separated the s*** from the special and whittled them down from...ooh, 500+ to around 300?! (still a lot, I know!). I think we're both really pleased with the collection though - it can be pretty tricky work capturing the mood, light and feel of the place you're in, in one single photograph. After all, you can't smell the fresh water of the lake or aroma of cooking pizzas in a photo. Nor can you hear the street violinists or the chitter chatter of dining families. But looking at some of the photos we have, it's safe to say we've captured some special moments; brought back a little bit of Italy and definitely a lifetime of memories with us.

What really hits you when you come back from holiday, I have to say, is reality. Like a ton of bricks. Holidays, really, are like pit-stops. You can spend them refuelling yourself, recharging, re-energising, revitalising (have I missed any 're' words there?) but when you come back, you have to pick up exactly where you left off (though with slightly more motivation, I hope). The same mountain of chores, the never-ending search for a job, the pressure of nearing exams…and the multitudinous problems, petty or otherwise, that niggle away at you in those few moments before you drift off to sleep. It just feels like there is ALWAYS something else you have to do. And I suppose that's why I am most looking forward to finishing university and getting out. Don't get me wrong, we all know that uni's a hell of a lot of fun. It's the last of the fun, you could say, before 'real life' begins. But it also means that there is always some reading to be done, exams approaching, an assignment to complete. Going out is always a toss up between being studious and dutiful and staying in to complete your assignment, or telling yourself you really need a night out and pushing the work to the farthest most corner of your mind - and feeling guilty and stressed at a later stage. It must be so nice to come home on a friday night, having switched off your computer at work, knowing that the entire weekend, every minute of it, is yours to indulge. You need not feel guilty that you're supposed to be doing something else. Am I wrong?

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

One More Gelato Please?

If there's anything I'm craving right now, it has to be the million (I kid you not, on occasion it was four times in one day!) Italian gelaterias we graced with our presence. Because let's face it, the cold English Cornetto doesn't quite cut it. Home-made, real-fruit, hand-churned fresh, soft, creamy luscious delight vs mass-made, hard-frozen (blame the freezer), soggy-coned Cornetto? Hmmm, say no more. The flavours on offer ranged from the wild to the weird to the absolutely wonderful - from cassata to snickers to watermelon... yummmmmmmmmmm.


Though I would of course much rather be on holiday again, it does feel kind of great to finally be getting on with things. We completed redecorating the master bedroom today; there's probably more paint on my clothes than the wall but it definitely looks good. We've gone for a 'feature wall' type style because its the only way we can convince dad to allow some colour into the house. Since birth I've lived in two houses of absolutely completely magnolia-ed walls; but with the likes of Nick Knowles, Linda Barker and Ann Maurice at the helm of revolutionary makeover shows around about my most 'rebellious' years, it wasn’t long before I just painted my room (ooooooh, rebellllll I hear you scream :p) and waited, baited breath, for all hell to break loose when dad came home. Surprisingly his reaction wasn’t even that bad and slowly but surely, we’ve won him over to our way of thinking. See, you don’t ask you don’t get! Simple as. We're coming to the end of our summer spruce up now, bar the very battered skirting boards screaming out for a coat of paint (worst jobs saved til last is our policy). More tomorrow :)



Monday, 25 July 2011

Finding My Feet

I feel like I've taken a giant leap from the fantastic into the mundane. From technicolor dream straight into monotonous reality. Instead of swimming now a stack of ironing awaits to work my muscles. From chilling to cleaning, from dining to dusting. *Cinderella sighs* Returning from holiday can always be a bit glum. It's a steep plummet from roaming to routine - directly into job searching and studying for me. Thankfully though it's probably not too long until I can get away again. It's six weeks of hard work to go, hopefully interspersed with catch-ups and coffees with schools friends that are beginning to trickle back into town. I've sorted through my load of holiday photos and I'm looking forward to looking at S's half of them; we'll definitely be reminiscing over those for a while!

Those of you who've been reading for a while will know that I had high hopes of coming away from this holiday with a renewed sense of purpose and appetite for life. It was going to be the change of scenery needed to set into motion the change in mindset. And I have to say I am not disappointed. I'm ready to rearrange my priorities because I’ve realised that all is not lost. I find an unrivalled pleasure in travelling - in finding myself in foreign surroundings, amidst strangers. It’s an opportunity to absorb a new culture, learn a new way of life but above all, to learn about myself; strengths and weaknesses and how to manage them. It’s a very big world out there and a very short life. So living it with regret for what you lost rather than hope for what is still to come is definitely the wrong way to go about it. For now it's a six week marathon and once exams are over, maybe a few more sneaky trips ;)



(I pinched this from a very good friend's blog - I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post the link but I shall check and get back to you.)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

"Dolce Far Niente"

It's come to the end of our holiday and it's from sunny Italy back to rainy England. Well, from rainy Italy to sunny England, technically, seeing as it's a glorious 26 degrees today and it was chucking it down in Garda when we left; it has been the most wonderful week I could imagine, a long mishmash of swimming and sightseeing, wining, dining, unwinding, the best weather and most definitely the greatest company a girl could ask for.

Fortunately the buses were running again on Friday and we finally made our way into Verona. Probably by grace of the potent subconscious awareness that'was the city of Romeo and Juliet, it sure did smell of love. It was romantic, stylish and breathtaking. Our first stop was the Arena di Verona, Roman amphitheatre built in AD30 and a shady garden beyond providing respite from the intense heat. We ambled on through the shopping street, a busy, bustling golden mile of designer boutiques littered with small souvenir stalls and gelaterias before climbing the 368 steps to the top of the Torre dei Lamberti for a stunning view over the patchwork terracotta rooftops and cobbled piazzas. And of course, onto the famed balcony of Juliet. Despite our cynicism it's fair to say we were stunned by the passage into the courtyard; absolutely in awe - every inch of space crammed with messages, mementos of undying love. Where lovers didn't find space they resorted to plasters, tape, anything that sticks, to leave their letters. So if your faith waivers, if you've lost love, this is the place to come. I sure am in love again.


In love with Italy. The place is incredible, brimming with the most delicious food, delectable wine, romantic language and the very warmest, kindest people. People that have a zest for life, love for their work and time for their family. They siesta in the afternoon and eat and drink together until late in the night. The days seem lengthy - spent leisurely rather than rushed. Getting on the bus is nothing short of a social event and paying the bill in a restaurant can take a very long time. Even fast food isn't very fast (ask us, it took us almost 30 minutes to get fries in McDonalds Verona). And really, it's difficult to work out whether it's the Italians who have a complete disregard for timekeeping, or it's us who have a disregard for living life. We seem in a constant state of 'rush' here (think of the London underground if you're going to try and disagree with me on that one), rushing to get to work, then rushing to eat within one hour and of course then rushing to get home. Long lunches and afternoon naps are reserved exclusively for 'holidays' - a treat rather than a way of life. Perhaps we should let the Italians show us how it's done….

Every moment of the entire seven days has been a joy - they say a picture paints a thousand words so here are the highlights: thank you for sticking with me and hope you have had a wonderful weekend.









Thursday, 21 July 2011

A Little Bit of Lazise

We were supposed to be in Verona today, allegedly the city of Romeo and Juliet (although the 'balcony of Juliet' wasn't actually built until 1936 - scandal!) but when we got to the bus station we realised there was an impromptu strike. Just typical ey?! So, it's been Lazise and Bardolino today, and Verona tomorrow as long as the buses are up and running again. Bardolino is the town immediately south of Garda along the lake, Lazise being the next. We ambled into Bardolino yesterday evening after a long morning of swimming/bobbing/laying on the beach (come on, it's got to be done atleast once?!) - and had a lovely dinner on the lakeside followed by probably too many cocktails at a very classy corner named Bar Chessa. Bardolino boasts a very nice wine of its own called the Bardolino (surprise surprise) which is sweet, fresh and very cheap (actually cheaper than a soft drink at the restaurant!) seeing as it's so readily available.

The best thing about being on holiday is the freedom it entails. No routine and no rules. Nobody waiting for you at home and nobody expecting you to tidy your room up (although the pair of us are embarrassingly neat - I think we give housekeeping a run for their money). You can eat when you want, what you want. We have spent a lot of time just wandering the cities, towns and villages, soaking up the atmosphere, the culture. Navigating side streets, tasting the gelatos and eating roadside pizza after pizza. Today was something the same, spent meandering the cobbled quarters of Lazise, just walking. The days seem awfully long and the air is heavy, prickly. A deep heat sets in at around midday and the day, our day, doesn’t end until early hours of the morning. The people are wonderfully warm here and helpful. The women are feisty and the men gallant. They swoon over you, compliment you, spoil you. The best we've heard so far is 'congratulations on your beauty' (?!!!) After the horrible first half of this year, it genuinely feels like life might take a turn for the better. I sometimes feel like an absolute fail as a human being; it's difficult not to when you try your hardest at something and it still falls apart. I'm massively insecure at times, rather stubborn and probably the worst case of control freakism you'll find. But I finally feel like I might pick myself up - as small a step as this may be, it's most certainly a step forward.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Feeling at Home

It's been a few days that we've been here and I guess it's starting to feel like base, like home. The lake, the area seem familiar - we've even ear-marked our favourite beach (deserted after 5pm, WONDERFUL for sunset swimming), favourite bar (the Meta Cafe, which doubles up as cafe (maybe the name gives that away?!), restaurant and (free) Internet cafe), and favourite store. What isn't becoming familiar though is the absolute beauty as we step outside the hotel, because it can take your breathe away, anew, each time. The hotel sits right on the lake promenade and it's as though the lake undergoes cycles during the day, changing colour in each period. It's at it's brightest at just around 7pm, when the sun is lower in the sky and the lake catches the sunlight like sequins on a dress.

We've had a wonderful few days, a nice mix of activity, inactivity and of course drinking cocktails. We spent Monday in Venice and Tuesday in the tiny hillside town of Spiazzi, quaint and very typically Italian, studded on the rolling green hills and overlooking the Adige Valley. Complete with narrow winding roads and some small trattatorias lining the high street, it was definitely a far throw from some of the more touristy areas around the lake. The point of the visit though was to get down to the Madonna Della Corona sanctuary, which is literally built into the side of the cliff face at 770 metres high.

It's peaceful here, it's beautiful and its soulful. There is an answer for every indulgence - you can run around the lake, or watch people doing so as you devour your quattro formmagi pizza. You can plunge into the crystal clear waters to swim (or just 'bob' like I do) or you can sit on the clean beach with a book and watch funny people like me doing so. Food or fashion, sports or sloven, you can find everything here. Everything.


Sunday, 17 July 2011

A Place Called Paradise

I am not going to lie - I am in paradise. The lake is the deepest azure, a jewel studded in the crown that are the Alps. It sits glistening, glittering in the beaming 30 degree sunshine, catching the light like glittering gold dust and glowing by sunset. I have never been in a place of such stunning beauty, such charismatic cultural history. With coral coloured roof-topped cafes and tiny family owned gelaterias, it's filled with character, culture and tradition. Its been a beautiful start to the holiday - as we first drove into Garda along the lake promenade, the area did seem extremely 'resorty'. Totally Europeanified - littered with British tourists (we even spotted a Lidl en route) and numerous camping colonies. But we couldn't have been more wrong.

Lake Garda is the largest of the Italian lakes at 55 kms long and it sits at the covergence of three of Italy’s regions - Lombardy, the richest, Trentino, the newest and Veneto, the biggest wine producer. It contains 5 islands within, 15 towns around it and stretches to 55 kms in length. It's been a wonderful start to our 7 days off, highlights being swimming in the lake, sipping cocktails at sunset and today, climbing La Rocca (we huffed an puffed to the top, feeling proud and smug - only to witness a man running to the top on our way down. The pride dissippated pretty rapidly.)

More on Wednesday :D Arrivederchi!


Saturday, 16 July 2011

Pack Ins and Pack Ups

I tried to post a bit of a rant last night but being in unfamiliar territory (well not really, just my neighbour's, but I couldn't get the keyboard to work properly), I gave up. It got to 11pm and I figured I had packing, bathing, sprucing up of self, catching essential pre-holiday 8 hour beauty sleep (yeah right) and the rest of it still to check off on my to-do list. So here I am, after 2 hours sleep leaving you to linger on a fresh rant (what I wrote last night seems highly irrelevant now - I was basically effing and blinding after what was possibly the worst day ever). I can't say I've scrubbed up good, I'm hoping I haven't forgotten any essentials in my haphazard packing manner - but mission accomplished and boy am I relieved :D

I am bouncing off the ceilings with excitement, mostly at the prospect of catching some zzzz on the plane I reckon because I am THAT tired. Yesterday turned into a bit of a day from hell - literally running down high streets to get my last minute linens (can't go on holidays without those!), sorting out currency, paying bills and submitting my resignation at my former place of work (apparently it couldn't wait even a day, couldn't be put in the post, I had to go over IMMEDIATELY or it would affect my pay. THE CHEEK OF IT!). My printer decided it was the perfect opportunity to pack it in (I could almost hear it laughing and pointing at me smugly while I fumed) so I decided I'd better get to the library to sort things out. But apparently libraries don't open until 2pm these days?! I mean what is that about? *takes a deep breath…* Aaaaaaanyway, the long and short is, I made it here alive. I'm looking forward to time out and hopefully coming back refreshed and revitalised. Ready for a new academic year, new job and new start. The second half of the year just has to be better than the first. Hasta la vista, for now at least :D


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Pizza on the Piazza


So it's two days and really obviously not counting until I'm FINALLY off on holiday. To say I'm excited would be the understatement of the century - because I'm ecstatic, extremely exuberant with expectation and exhilaration (how's that for alliteration ey?). Not to rub it in but we're headed to Lago di Garda (yes yes, thank you, thank you, I have been working on the Italian), only the grandest and arguably most picturesque of the Italian lakes. Alps at the top, beaches at the bottom. Woop woop, I'm going to ITALY! (okay, I will shut up now - just had to get it out of my system). Contrary to my well known and widely touted control freakish, hyper-organised tendencies, packing is yet to be done. As I write I can see a swimming costume...sort of swimming I suppose, sheepishly, alone at the bottom of my vast suitcase - half-heartedly tossed in there just this afternoon. Really, the week has just flown by in a last-minute flurry of highly domesticated tasks (painting, shopping, gardening, cleaning, sorting - odd jobs to 'finish off' before leaving) and not an awful lot else. It's been one of those weeks where I've not known whether I'm coming or going. I feel misplaced. On edge, probably from the excitement of going away. Unfortunately it's also been a week filled with disappointments. It's taken a long time getting over being chucked (I don't even want to get into numbers w.r.t. Ben and Jerry's tubs consumed in the interim) and even the smallest of set-backs seem magnified ten-fold in the glare of that failure. I've realised that it's time to move on from a job I really, really enjoyed. In the cycle of remembering and forgetting my first love, I'm back in that place on the loop, missing my relationship. I can't get hold of my best friend for trying (for reasons I know are justified) and in all - I couldn't be more ready to go away. To hide away on a beach and read my way through the fictional lives of fictional characters in far away lands. To swim, free, in the warm waters of the lake. To eat pizza napoletana on the piazza. I cannot wait.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Yin Yang...

Have you ever tried Marks and Spencer's Strawberry Scones? The "light and scrummy all butter scones filled with fresh whipped cream and a generous dollop of strawberry conserve"? You know the ones…?

<------------------Yerrr, these. Please say you have, if you haven't please go out and buy some - on me if that hurries you on your way. With the passing of mum's birthday, she'd brought home the remainder of a pastry and cake selection she'd taken into work for her colleagues - unfortunately for her (she's been buying me a twin box almost every day) and fortunately for me (who'd have known scones could taste THIS good?!) this was one of them. They are subtly sweet, so crumbly and light - and up until that fated day two weeks ago, not even a single bite of a single scone had ever passed my lips. In general, scones are not really sweet enough for sweet-toothed people (read: me). They can be dry and chewy. But I am really, rather officially head-over-heels for these; I cannot stop eating them! However, luckily (for my hips and thighs at least), I've (re)discovered a second love too. Running. Even better, running in the rain. And I figured it's the perfect balance. Eat more + exercise more = EQUILIBRIUM. And I s'pose that's the point of my post today.

I feel like everything around me is changing. Routines have changed, rules have changed, relationships have changed. It's been a strange weekend and I fear I'm speaking in riddles at the moment. So here's my point. When things change, we have no choice but to watch silently. People leave and we can't stop them. Circumstances change, seasons change and times change too. But what I have come to realise is, in all the chaos, in our lack of control on the changes around us, there remains a semblance of balance. We lose somebody, we find somebody else; if only we can hold it together long enough to see that. It is, really, all about yin yang. Balancing the good with the bad, the loss with the gain. If you can just keep your head on the right way, you're going to be okay. And if you can just remember that, I think you can get through pretty much anything. So what if you had your heart broken, how do you know some-one won't come along to fix it right back up? So what if you lost a boyfriend, don't you still have your family by your side? So what if you (or I, for that matter) eat two scones a day, you can exercise it back down right?! (I hope?!). The key to life is really in yin yang - it's not about leading a life of safe averages but experiencing the extremes so the averages work themselves out.

In truth, I've had a wonderful-ish few weeks. I've spent much time wrestling plants in the garden (looks a lot better now), a lot of time catching up with old friends and new, and of course eating those scones. I finally bought myself a new phone (I have been GLUED to it since, can you blame me?!) and I go away to Italy on Saturday with my best girl friend. I am super excited for the food (had you already guessed?!), the partying and of course those smooth Italian men ;) We're staying in Garda, and as well as the typical beach relaxation, we're hoping to take advantage of the water sports on offer and trips to Verona and Venice. More on that soon though.




Friday, 8 July 2011

The Long Road Home

Soooo one rattling 30 minute bus-ride into Edinburgh airport, a gruelling two hour wait for the departure gate announcement and then a totally unexplained two hour delay in departure (AND only a Boot’s sandwich for dinner) we finally arrived home at 1am last night. I make that...oooo, 9 hours door-to-door?! OUCH. I definitely look like it too, I may as well have walked from Edinburgh to London really. But, journey time aside, I do have to deliver (for the large part) a rather complimentary verdict on EasyJet - they’ve pretty much kicked Ryanair’s cheap ass and I sure won’t be flying with the latter again. EasyJet adopt a 'carry as much as you like as long as you can carry it alone' policy and I must say, me like. None of that soul-crushing weighing of bag to check it’s not 10 grams over the 10 kg limit, or squashing of bag into Ryanair’s custom-made bag-measuring apparatus just to prove it’s not over-sized. No last minute discarding of precious, prized possessions (my comfiest Nikey shoes en route to Sweden :( ) nor staff yelling in your ear when your boarding pass is folded in half (clearly you’re meant to have it laminated just in time for their inspection) - happy days!

In short, a wonderful trip. Edinburgh broke out in beaming sunshine yesterday giving us the chance to explore the city in a new light (the sunlight, that is). When I first heard that it’s often nicknamed the “Athens of the North”, I almost snorted with laughter. Edinburgh? Athens? Really? But I glimpsed it yesterday and I can’t be so sure/smug anymore. As grey and forbidding as it was on rainy, windy Wednesday morning, magnificent in its setting with the sea on the horizon, the Royal Mile was transformed into a hustling-bustling cobbled tourist hub, twee pubs, miniature boutiques, an eclectic mix of tourist shops and eateries lining the scenic walk from Castle Rock, on which sits the Castle (duhh), down to Holyrood Abbey. Except for the tell-tale red phone booths, the street could just as well have been lifted straight from the Mediterranean. We spent our remaining few hours shopping (for souvenirs, obviously) and recovering (at McDonald’s in the Princes Mall, base camp since day 1, refuelling and recharging station, total of 10 lattes (mum) and 10 hot chocs (me) consumed) before packing in to begin that monstrosity of a journey.

For now though, for a week at least, it's back to reality. The domestics. The academics. Whatever. A maddening pile of washing beckons (men eh?!) and the job search is on. Next post might be a picture post, so do keep eyes peeled. Wish you all a wonderful weekend. X

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Eight Hour Aerobics

It’s another day drawing to a close - and I literally feel like I’ve just come in from an eight-hour aerobic work-out, what with all the climbing, walking, paddling, swimming and dashing (to avoid rain). Despite the bleak forecast for torrential downpours (what do you expect, it’s the UK), off we trooped to the Scott Monument, umbrella and raincoat in hand, refusing to let the rain dampen our spirits (please excuse the pun). And the view from the top was beyond the ‘breathtaking’ expected - a 360 panaroma encompassing the city, the highlands and the North Sea beyond. As well as being a brilliant viewing platform at 200 ft tall, it’s a beautiful piece of Victorian Gothic architecture in itself (described by Bill Bryson as a ‘gothic rocket ship’) and shrouded in history too - it was in fact built to commemorate writer Sir Walter Scott following his death in 1832. Receipt of a certificate to commemorate the climb + the emergence of (albeit watery) sunshine was a pretty sweet bonus (on top of the smug satisfaction) when we got to the top. Ahhh bliss.

We’ve spent much of the day discovering the nooks and crannies of the city - roaming the shopping quarters, marvelling at boutique cup-cake shops, walking the Royal mile, admiring numerous twee cathedrals and somewhere in between all that, squeeezing in lots of summer sales and a visit to the small coastal resort of Portobello. Wow, busy day indeed. Portobello, I think, is as quiet and as secluded as a coastal dwelling can be. Though it boasts an enviable promenade fronting onto a wide sand beach, it was all but deserted on what became (at that point at least) quite a sunny day. Sitting in the sand, watching the waves as you breath in the fresh sea air really makes you feel like you've never breathed 'clean' air before (city dwellers ey?!). The city just smells of the salty sea, the constant screech of seagulls a further reminder. Walking through Edinburgh it’s not hard to see that it’s steeped in history and tradition - the castle dominates the skyline (more on that tomorrow), you're almost always within earshot of bagpipes and Haggis really is readily available at most street cafes. It’s quite distinctly British yet so definitively distinguished from anything English. The biggest difference though, as mum puts it, has to be the language - “Sim, they’re speaking Scottish, I don’t understand!”. LOL. Oh dear mum.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Budget Airlines and Busy Weekends

I'm sitting at the airport as I punch this one out (though I probably won't be at the time of posting) - nails covered in (wall) paint, could definitely do with a few hours sleep more and I’ve eaten pizza for breakfast (at 8am, just for clarification, sourced from the charming little Frankie and Benny's Deli if you know Stansted at all - it's like a slice of Sicily in Stansted!) but it feels good. Unfortunately I'm not jet-setting off to some far-thrown, exotic locale but nonetheless, a three day break from routine, albeit in Edinburgh, is very welcome indeed. It often surprises me actually that so many of us are so well-travelled these days; we've been from India to Indiana, from Austria to Australia yet so few of us have explored this little country of our own. Hands up on this one because I don't think I'd ventured any further north than Luton until I started university last year let alone set foot in Scotland in a whole 21 years of existence (being the very well-reasoned human being that I am, I formed the completely unbiased view that the rest of 'The North' is every bit as bleak as Luton). So £29.99 to Manchester vs. £29.99 to Milano... I need say no more. Budget airlines truly are very difficult to resist (like asking a shopaholic to bypass a sale if I'm honest).

In truth, it’s been one helluva weekend - the first one off work for as long as I can remember and definitely well spent with friends, family and lots of food too. So it’s nice to be sitting here in a hotel room now, away from the all the madness, noise and mess - as nice as it was. No chores to count nor lists of things to do (although it took a few too many “OMG I’m going to die” moments in the air turbulence for my liking, to get here... y'know what I mean?). As we didn’t get here until almost 2pm I can’t say we’ve seen an awful lot yet; just a tentative walk through Edinburgh’s version of Oxford Street (called Princes Street), some nervous sizing up of the 287-step climb up the Scott Monument (apparently it offers the best vantage point of the Edinburgh skyline, but we've postponed until tomorrow) and plenty of stuffing of face. Yummy yum. Seeing as I’m holidaying with mum, I’m definitely looking forward to lots of down time - a girl needs her beauty sleep after all! So perhaps you’ll hear more of me the next few days. Stay tuned.



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