Why I’m Leaving London After Four Years

Dear Reader,

Welcome to another blog of mine. If you’re a returning reader, I apologise for my absence – my brain hasn’t exactly been clear lately. If you’re new, well you’ve come along at an interesting crossroad. It’s a lot of words, and I’ve written and re-written this many times, so I’m deciding to just post it in it’s current state. Here ya go…

Why I’m Leaving London After Four Years

Today’s blog is brought to you by a big decision I made a few weeks ago, and one I’ve had difficulty making for over a year: leaving London. I moved to London when I was eighteen, and ready for an adventure of self-discovery and risks. The last few years have been nothing short of that; I’ve met people who will stay friends for the remainder of my life, I’ve explored cultures, cities & countries, whilst furthered myself through skill and awareness. I know I know, all of the classic & cliché things, but it’s true and I am not lying when I say this city has changed me as a person for the better.

I love London, and it is one of the best places to live in the world – I say that wholeheartedly – however, London is not an easy place to live. It’s a city where unless you are lucky enough to find a job which douses your bank account, it can be very much a situation of living pay check to pay check. It’s a city of competition, and entitlement. It’s fast-paced, and unless you can keep up with it, you can feel left behind.

I wasn’t one of these ‘unlucky’ ones; I like to think I have thrived here. And this isn’t in a “look at me” way, it’s in a way of pride. I got a good job, I worked hard and in result got promoted twice. I now have incredible friends who have given my life excitement and memories of a lifetime. I improved my living situation with every move. All of this, and having never worried about money, makes me proud of myself and everything I have achieved here.

So, if all was going well, what changed my mind about living here?

Well, if I’m completely honest, I became unhappy. Ultimately this is what I wanted to get down in this blog. This website has followed my entire London journey (my very first blog being about my first day here), through the ups and downs, and this process doesn’t stop with my decision to leave.

There was never one thing which caused the unhappiness, but I knew in my heart of hearts, there was something wrong. It stuck around, constantly underneath the sporadic smiles and dance parties, never really going away. It was a feeling I don’t want to label, because it’s not about that it, but it was a feeling of lostness. I felt alone, whilst surrounded by a city of 8 million, I felt unsupported from all angles in my life, I felt heavy and held down. It is important to understand that this isn’t directed at anyone, because I truly believe it was my body telling me I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and not the byproduct of something in my life.

It is a scary thing to realise your “home” has detrimental effects on your mental state.

From the moment I set foot on English soil, I’ve been announcing to the world I would never leave – London was my new home. I absolutely wasn’t about to be one of those people who came to the UK, or Europe, for 6 months only to give up and go back to the little ol’ home town. I think this is partly why I’ve struggled so much the last several months, because for years I’ve been subconsciously telling myself I would be a failure if I even considered moving home. Insert another lovely feeling: of being trapped.

I started making plans to rid this unhappiness; plans to make changes to my work situation, my living situation; I had decided I was going to convert a Sprinter van and join the #VanLife movement. I was going to travel Europe whilst writing, combining two of my favourite things. I was convinced that my life was just missing some freedom. I became excited, I started telling people and I was happy because people were excited about the idea. I thought “Yes, this is the answer”.

A week passed, and that feeling in the pit of my stomach started crawling back up to my throat. Back to square one. I knew deep down this wasn’t the solution.

Then some suggested an idea that I couldn’t shake. Moving home. I sat on it, and after a week it still felt like it may be a good idea. After two weeks, I had my flight booked, my resignation submitted, and I felt like a weight had been lifted. It was the first time in months I could wake up and not feel heavy.

Since making this decision, it hasn’t been smooth sailing. It’s been an emotional adventure coming to terms with leaving this life behind. But after a chat with one of my best-friends I have been reminded this isn’t leaving anything behind, and moving to New Zealand isn’t a step backwards towards my old life, it’s a step forward. It’s simply change; a new chapter.

I will not say ‘I am moving back’, because that implies I’m going backwards. This is me going forward, this is a new chapter in my life. 

London has been a love affair, and it’s something I don’t want to ruin. I’m leaving at a time that is right for me, and for my writing, and I’m excited about that. Being a creative in London is also something I wanted to discuss. You can feel like you’re failing yourself and your art if you take time off from it. London adds this pressure, and it’s hard to ignore. Acting, writing, dancing, singing – if it’s your passion – shouldn’t be pressured, and/or done for the sake of trying to keep up to be successful.

I’m excited to go to New Zealand and find new inspirations in my writing, to further my life, to build a future, to be surrounded by family, to enjoy the things that I love – the ocean, nature, the quiet and calm, living a more organic lifestyle.

My goal now? To enjoy every second I have being based in London. I am creating a project called #100WaysToSayGoodbye – the last 100 days, every day with something new, simple, weird or exciting.

I apologise because this blog is less for you, and more for me, with lots (and lots) of words. But if you’ve read to the end, I guess throughout this decision to move home I’ve learnt the importance of putting myself, and my health, first. Even though I still can’t understand why I feel London isn’t right for me anymore, I’ve listened to myself and I know this is the right thing to do.

I will miss you London, I will miss you my London friends, but I am happy because I know I will see you again.

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3 Easy Veggies For The Wannabe Vegan

Hey there, and welcome to this fine Tuesday lunchtime!

Today’s blog is all about helping out those wannabe vegans, or hungry people, that are craving some veggie goodness. As a new vegan I know how difficult it is to feel committed, when you’re constantly trying to be one of those creative vegans that you see on Instagram. In reality going vegan, or eating plant-based, is simple, affordable and does not have to be complicated. I have been delving in the vegan lifestyle for almost two years, so I can tell you that once you find a base for all your meals, it becomes a lot easier.

So, this is what today’s blog is all bout. My three go-to vegetables, and how I cook them. I eat these vegetables either individually, or all together, almost everyday.

Lets get cooking. 

You will need:

  • 1 Broccoli
  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • 500g mushrooms of your choice
  • Tamari Sauce
  • Black Pepper & [Pink Himalayan] Salt
  • Garlic Salt (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Hummus/Cashews/ toppings of choice

The Sweet Potato

Preheat your oven to 200*C. Put a steamer filled with an inch of water, on the stove top to boil.

Peel and wash one sweet potato, chopping into small pieces. 

On a tray, prepared with a 1Tbsp Olive Oil, season the sweet potato with black pepper, salt and garlic salt. Don’t be afraid to use your hands in this step, the more the seasoning covers the potato, the tastier it is!

Once this is done, pop it into the heating oven. Cook until soft and browned at the edges. If it goes black, they’re not burnt, it’s the natural sugars in the sweet potato caramelising.

The Mushrooms 

Preheat your pan on medium heat, with a 1tsp Olive Oil.

Wash your mushrooms under running water.

Chop into slices, and place into the now-heated pan.

Season with black pepper and salt.

Once it starts to brown, add 1 Tbsp of Tamari Sauce, and a dash of water.

Cook until the mushrooms have absorbed the sauce, and are soft and cooked.

The Broccoli

Wash your broccoli under running water.

Chop your broccoli into larger florets and place into your steamer. If you don’t have a steamer, place in a pot with a cm of boiling water.

This step is to only soften the broccoli so it’s barely cooked. It’ll go a slightly deeper green.

The Assemble

Use these veggies as bases for other meals, or combine for a filling and healthy lunch. They are whole foods, simply cooked, yet taste delicious. Top with cashews, or hummus, and enjoy!

THE HEALTH BENEFITS:

  • Sweet potatoes are naturally high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and manganese.
    • Manganese is good for healthy bones, sugar regulation, PMS symptoms.
  • Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fibre and potassium.
  • Mushrooms are definitely underrated; even though they’re bland in colour, they have many powerful antioxidants.
  • Mushrooms are an excellent source of fibre and protein, iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and selenium.
    • Selenium is a trace element which supports the immune system; detoxifies elements of the body which can cause ageing, cancers, etc.
      • Selenium is also found in Brazil nuts, you would only need to eat 2 Brazil nuts to get your daily dose of Selenium. With the added bonus of the Omega-3 fatty acid also found in the nut.
  • Broccoli is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate and fibre.
    • Vitamin K aids your body in calcium absorption.
  • Buying and eating any of these veggies grown in an Organic way increases flavour, and decreases your chances of consuming nasty pesticides sprayed on the vegetables to prolong shelf life.

Learning about the foods I put in my body is one way that has helped me go, and stay, vegan. Knowledge is powerful, but in my case knowledge is passion. Going vegan isn’t about being preachy, or trendy, it’s about realising how our bodies run better on whole foods from the earth.

There are many other ways I have stayed vegan; animal rights, environmental and economical. I’ll leave a list of my favourite vegan resources down below if you are thinking about making the change to a plant-based diet.

“Why am I vegan? Because I want my refrigerator to look like a garden… not a morgue.”

Happy eating! And don’t forget to drink that water, don’t even get me started on the health benefits of that.

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Documentaries, speeches & books I recommend:

‘The Best Speech You’ll Ever Hear’ – performed by Gary Yourofsky

‘The China Study’ – written by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell

‘Forks Over Knives’ – a documentary

‘Food Choices’ – a documentary

‘Cowspiracy’ – a documentary

‘Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat’ – written by Glen Merzer and Howard Lyman

Why, As A Writer, I’m Taking A Break From Books

I’m taking a break from books. (Or so I’m going to try.)

On average I read 4-5 books a month. That’s a lot of words to compare to my own, and I’ve decided that I ought to stop complaining I don’t write enough when I spend so much of my time reading.

I used to bring books to accompany time and space, my bag overflowing with one too many books. But now I’m starting to see that books are different to my own creativity. They are there, they are permanently in print, they create noise in my head. They are the expectation – I have to be as good as these to be published; to be read. I have fallen so far into admiring others I have started to doubt my own use of words. I’ve always known I can write as they do, its only lately I’ve started to realise I just haven’t been giving it enough time. I must live and breathe my own creations. Picasso didn’t look at paintings trying to figure out how they did it, he picked up a paintbrush and made strokes that felt right. I want to write because of the infinite possibilities a keyboard presents when I open my MacBook. After all, for every word I read, I could be conjuring one for myself.

As I’ve grown in London, I’ve observed that London is a city of expectation. Expectation through external stimuli, through noise, even something as small as facial expressions. As a young, aspiring writer this has proven to be hard…. I’m sure as any young person, trying to make it in this city, it’s hard.

Through time, I’ve discovered my laptop provides a silence that nothing else can. I can sit in the most noisy of cafes and hear nothing. When I am sitting in front of a screen I can achieve anything, write anything. Literal infinite possibilities the alphabet provides. With my laptop in hand, I can go anywhere in London; Anywhere, and it will always lack expectation.

I love books so much, but I love my completed projects more; my stack of poems, my nearly finished novel, my website and articles full of poetic monologue.

So here I start, indefinite days without reading any word of another. My to-read pile will just have to wait.

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Three Ways To Get Enthusiastic About Work

It’s something we all struggle with at some point – a lack of enthusiasm to work the ‘nine to five’. Doesn’t matter how much we love the job, sometimes the happy vibes are nowhere to be found.

So that brings us to today’s blog, three ways to get enthusiastic about work.


1. | Why do you work?

This may seem like a silly question, but think about it for a second. Why do you work where you do?  Does it allow you to live a certain way in a particular area? Does it pay well? Is it your passion? (If it is, not sure why you’d be reading this, but whatever) OR do you work because it allows you to live out your passion when you’re not working?

More often than not, when you’re in your early twenties – like me – where you’re working isn’t usually your dream job, but you’re doing it to support something else. I work, to allow myself to live in London which in turn gives me opportunities to further my writing career.

So, figure out the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing, and remind yourself of it every time you have to clock into a shift.

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2. | Make the most of your free time

Other than seeing work as a means to an end, another way we can find enthusiasm to work is by not living and breathing the work place. Ever have a week where it feels like all you’ve done is eat, sleep, and work? Yeah, well me too. And it sucks! We all want to feel like we have life outside of work rotas and uniforms.

So piece of advice numéro deux? MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FREE TIME. Book those events you want to attend, go for that audition, or simply… leave the damned house! Even if it means you go sit in a café and sip on a soya latte whilst reading a magazine, do it! Or if you work the ‘nine to five’, drop the whole “I’m tired act” and invite your friends over for a bottle of wine; go to the cinema. Make sure you’re spending your money on things other than the commute to work, and the bills. We earn money to live, not to follow the same old routine day in and day out. Spend your free time, fulfilling your passons; do what you love!

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3. | ‘Be the energy you want to attract’

We have to work, that’s the reality of it. I’m not here to tell you how to get out of working, because if you want to lead an exciting life, chances are you’ll need money for it. HOWEVER, HOW you work is a whole other ball game. I read a quote the other week which literally changed my perspective on work attitude like that *insert finger snap*.

“Be the energy you want to attract”.

My third and final way to get enthusiastic about work is to look at energy with a different perspective. Depending on where you work you have no idea who you’re serving, or working with.

Imagine this, you could be an aspiring actor, and one day you’re chatting up a storm to this guy, and you’re all passionate and excitable, then turns out hes a director at the National Theatre and ba-da-bing, you have a foot in the door. Conquer from within, and be the energy you want to attract. See work as another platform to further yourself, because it will be if you say it is.

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Screenshot the quotes, save them as your screen savers or lock screens; remind yourself of them everyday.

Only you stand in your way.

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A Moment To Reflect

Today I arrived back from a long weekend spent in Amsterdam, Holland. If you’d have told me this ten years ago, that at twenty-one I would be jet-setting around Europe on my days off, I would have possibly spat-laughed in your face.

I started writing this blog in the airport waiting for my return flight home yesterday. However, after the cheery announcement that my flight got cancelled, I slammed my laptop lid. This never happens to ME; I’m always hours too early for flights so as to not miss them, I weigh my luggage, I prepare my toiletries in a clear zip-lock bag, I’m patient in queues, and then this?

Me being me, I started searching my memory for reasons why my karma was deciding to kick me in the ass.

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I ran through the airport alongside my fellow stranded passengers, tears only held back by the red haze of frustration. I queued to get the whole “sorry for the inconvenience” relay from the compassionate help-desk clerk – which I didn’t blame because let’s be real we don’t wanna be that person that blames the messenger, do we? – and got the news I’d be flying out the next day. I wanted to cry. I got on the phone and spoke to the supportive best-friend, the parents, and it was decided that I just wasn’t looking at it positively. I almost always look at situations with an optimistic outlook – so, why not this?

I arrived at the airline organised hotel, pissed off I’d wasted half a day with the intention of going home, and then dropped down face first onto my queen bed with crisp white sheets. I had intended on screaming into the pillow, instead I surprised myself because I started laughing. After all I was being ridiculous; I didn’t have work the next day, the airline had provided full amenities – hotel, meals, an airport voucher, shuttles & a seat on the first flight out the next day – and I was here wasting my energy and mood on something that couldn’t be changed.

I had a hot shower, propped myself up on the 4 luxurious pillows, switched on the flat screen and started watching America’s Next Top Model with Dutch subtitles.  An extra night in Amsterdam couldn’t be all bad, what was I going to do with my evening at home anyway? PLUS, I had just spent a weekend in a stunningly beautiful city, because it’s only an hour away from my home in London – I need not be so petty over a postponed flight home.

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I always try to live by the motto that…

everything happens for a reason

…but yesterday I realised that I am still perfecting the recipe for the all-the-time positive person I aspire to be. I think my flight got cancelled for a reason. My life runs fairly smoothly, and I needed to be reminded by the Universe that life isn’t all picking fresh cherries; sometimes you get stuck with the last pack on the shelf at Tesco after craving them all day. I’m home, with the refreshed reminder that there is always something positive to come from what may appear as a misfortune – if you’re willing to figure it out.

Psst, make cherry jam.

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Cafe #4

The café in which I sit is so similar to what I’m used to, yet it’s so different. It’s a standard chain you’d find anywhere in London; the selection of drinks to the branded coffee cups, same.  The coffee shops I usually sit in are infested with business suits, men and woman having meetings with their ear pieces. I’m usually the youngest amongst those who are using the space as an office, or are having a lunch break. Here, it’s a student city. There are students everywhere, and in my ray of vision, I can only spot one person who could be past the age of 30. It’s weird being amongst people my own age. I often find myself immersed in activities with those older than I – poetry readings, libraries, or simply cafés which are clearly in boroughs that don’t typically host the youth.  I feel as if, sitting here typing this,  I could be mistaken for one of them. One of the kids who went on to study more,  one of the kids spending further years of their life dedicated to books; one of the kids with direction – potential or intentional. But I’m not. I’ve tried to be that person, giving up my creativity for the regime of tests and assignments, and it wasn’t for me.

Success can be found in many ways. You can get brain washed into thinking that the degree is what they want, that the piece of paper before you is what’ll make them pick you over them. This could be true, but it’s not something I’d wholeheartedly agree with. I suppose I’m talking about the arts; I know that a Doctor has to have some form of training, amongst many other professions. Props to them, takes serious smarts and dedication to get a profession such as that. In terms of painting, writing, acting, even some office jobs, I don’t believe you need to spend thousands of pounds to get a piece of paper to prove you can do it. A piece of paper isn’t proof of passion.

I’m sitting here, amongst those who are working towards that. That piece of paper, that proof of their ability to learn. I sit here and I have no stress, no deadline  – I have liberation and a clear mind. I see essays scattered on the bench tops, I see headphones blocking out distractions, I see students in heavy discussion. I sit here with my computer, I wear headphones so I can groove as I type, I text my friends about how their Mondays are going so far.

I’m not envious of the students in this café, but I can appreciate their dedication. Just don’t lose your passion amongst the deadlines kids. Have an impassioned direction in life, and don’t lose it for a grade.

Creative City-Break: Top 3 Things Bristol Has To Offer To The Creative Mind

London is a great place to live, but sometimes all a girl needs is an escape. This week’s city-break has brought me to the quirky city of Bristol in South-West England; with just over 400,000 residents and being labelled as student central, this city is known to be a cultural and creative hub just waiting to be explored. Let’s go.

After a near 2 hour train ride from London, I arrived into Central Bristol at Temple Meads station. My initial reaction was I could breathe, there was something about being somewhere where no one was rushing that was refreshing and creatively liberating. I sometimes find London to be so passion forward that it’s suffocating, Bristol just has this calm vibe. After checking into my hotel, I went out to explore; street music, poetry readings, and an abundance of book and art supply shops were suddenly at my finger tips.

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Bookshops X Cafés

Ever walked into a book shop and just felt your body go ‘ahhh’ – it’s quiet, there’s a total lack of in-your-face salespeople, and let us remember the miles and miles of books. I walked into the Bristol Waterstones and every muscle in my shoulders relaxed. As I furthered into the store I heard someone speaking loudly. I wandered in search of the voice through the delicious maze of bookshelves until I found a man doing a reading of a children’s story. A sign at his feet told me he was a local author reading his hand-made, self-illustrated story book. With an audience of only a mother and son, his passion was inspiring.  Half hiding behind a stack of Young Adult fiction, I watched with admiration in my eyes.

It’s this passionate expression which instantly made me acknowledge Bristol for being an inviting place for creativity. I spent a further 2 hours in this Waterstones. In the centre of this single level book haven is the elevated ‘Cafe W’ – the ultimate cafe for all book lovers. I sat at a bar style table looking out into the sea of books, synopsis signs, and grazing people, and wrote a portion of this blog.

If you’re like me and don’t have a rebellious “anti” attitude towards coffee shop chains, I highly recommend the Starbucks at 48 Horsefair, Bristol BS1 3EE. The upstairs hosts the quietest lounge with plenty of armchairs, tables and light-inviting windows. Cafés such as this one are all over Bristol – the perfect places for writing, reading and to drink that much-loved cup of coffee.

Open Spaces 

If you’re wanting a creative city-break, open spaces are forever inviting. The fresh air, natural light and inspiration allows you to think more clearly. Queen Square was definitely a favourite of mine whilst on my trip to Bristol. Surrounded by trees and cobbled streets, it’s a blissful escape into your mind. The harbour-side is also a lovely place to wander, I was lucky enough to be showered in sunshine whilst in Bristol. Join the Bristolians, grab a book (or a friend and some wine) and sit along the canals edge.

Galleries, Museums and Exhibitions

People who have never met me, can look at me and go “You like museums don’t you”. I don’t know what it is, I don’t wear slogan tees, but I definitely am an advocate for the buildings assigned to housing and promoting the creative expression of artistic brains. I travel the world and I visit the museums in every city I go to – Bristol has been no exception.

 

It was recommended to visit an art gallery on the harbour-side called Arnolfini. I happened to be very fortunate for visiting when I did. From April 15 – June 18, Arnolfini is hosting the first UK solo exhibition by Egyptian artist Basim Magdy. The multi-media exhibition displays thought-provoking displays of life on earth and visual representations of the artist’s mind. Basim pushes for those who visit this exhibition to take photos of his work and respond with any form of art along with the hashtag  #DearBasim on social media. I left feeling overwhelmingly confused, in awe, and with an obsession for his creative mind. As far as exhibitons I’ve visited, this went above and beyond my expectations; I cannot wait to return to Bristol again so I can visit Arnolfini over and over. Another museum I really enjoyed visiting was the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. A quiet space to wander, think, and be inspired.

I’m back to London this evening, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my getaway to Bristol. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to make it here. I often got told I would love Bristol, and I guess people know me better than I realised. Whether you’re wanting to have a weekend away, or you’re stumped on that novel you’re writing, give Bristol your time. You’ll leave refreshed and inspired.

Can Bristol host a Creative City-break? It’s a yes from me.