I was having a chat with someone at work the other day and it got me reminiscing about the first solo adventure I went on back in November 2018. Wow, three years has flown by! Since then I’ve been on three further solo trips and I can’t wait for normality to return once more so I can get back into exploring Europe without limitation.
I loved Bruges with all my heart, as much for what it did to me as much as its physical beauty.
One moment will forever stick in my mind. I’d taken it upon myself to visit a number of the churches in the North of the city, where very few tourists went. Alone in Sint-Walburgakerk church, an elderly volunteer, latching onto the excuse to perform, struck up the organ and began to play the most beautiful music. With every gentle note I started to reflect, thinking about all the things I’d accomplished in such a short space of time. I’d gone from being put down as the timid country mouse studying History and clearing wedding tables at 2am, to a smartly-dressed Financial Services professional, working in the City of London. And in a that I was there, in that church, travelling without anyone’s permission, approval or, indeed, moaning. I didn’t need to justify myself to anyone, not anymore. I was me.
In the same way I’d found myself silently weeping in Prague a year ago, over someone who’d rather sit in the hotel room 50 yards away than be with me, I was crying again. But this time something was different; the tears tracing down my hot flushed cheeks weren’t bitter, nor cold, they tasted sweet. In an empty church in Bruges, I was hit with a sudden burst of clarity. After all this time, I’d finally discovered what my heart had been missing all along. I was proud of myself.
Bruges was just incredible, second only to Arvon writing course (but then, to compare the two experiences would be like comparing chalk to cheese).
Most of you will have seen this already but hell, I’m sharing it again. Here is the Windows Movie Maker video I put together after I got back from my first solo city break to Bruges. Filmed on a (very) humble iPhone 5.
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A massive thank you to the team at Baker Tea House in Cardiff for the lovely card and coffee and cake vouchers! Super unexpected but a wonderful delight.
Baker Tea House is my absolute, number one, favourite coffee shop, quite possibly ever (definitely in Cardiff). I have been frequenting it for years. Located in the High Street Arcade (opposite Cardiff Castle), this multi-level venue stocks oodles of teas, alongside the coffee classics.
Thanks to the pandemic I’ve been unable to go for over a year. Which sucks. Wales said that English people weren’t welcome to cross the border, the politicians in power said so. And we all know what happens when people say no? That’s right, it turns it into forbidden fruit.
Welsh footballer, Gareth Bale, now counts as ‘exotic’, on account of him being someone that, at one stage, it was illegal for me to visit.
Huh? No, I don’t fancy him. Just, *whispers*, forbidden fruitttt. (I’d probably fancy a chimp in a suit if it was classed as forbidden fruit…don’t tell my employers I said that.)
And don’t tell me I’m using the pandemic as an excuse; it still counts.
What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, Baker Tea House.
There is more to the humble spam folder than missed opportunities and utter junk. Exactly, there’s missed junk opportunities!
Ladies and gentleman, may I kindly introduce to you this email…
I admit, it’s not the easiest to read on the photo. Let me detail it below:
HiAeb I am glad to know your demand for the tissue market. We have specialized in providing customized tissues for more than 8 years, and have provided sources of supply for many domestic companies. We are eager to expand channels and we are eager to cooperate with you. Samples will be sent to you for evaluation. Thanks, and best wishes
Ms Luo (General Manager) Chengdu Dixuan Trading Company
I know! Cutomized tissue paper?! Where have these opportunities been in my life? In my spam folder, that’s where!
Oh my, I think I’m getting giddy with all the possibilities. “Expanding my channels” – I can see it now, my face in toilet cubicles up and down the country. No, not the country, THE WORLD!!
I’ll be quite honest with you, I can’t think of anything much better.
Or, I could do as my email provider recommends and just delete the email, or, do nothing and let my email provider automatically delete it for me. (I’ll let you guess which I ended up doing.)
And people say I excited over nothing…oh hey, a shiny bit of foil blowing down the street!
1998 this song was released, 19-flipping-98. Still a belter but golly, are we all getting old. And please, don’t come back to me saying you have no memory of this track or, worse, you weren’t even alive then. I-I just can’t.
After the questionable success of my previous post, My Sister, On…, here is the “me” version of that. Don’t worry if you haven’t read said post, you’ll get the hang of this very quickly.
Alice, on…Responsible drinking
Alice, On…Effective conflict resolution
(For context – I picked a fight with a pavement.)
Alice, On…Tropicana on a budget
Alice, On…Workplace integration
Alice, On…Open bars
Alice, On…Bathroom fittings
“Alice, why are you taking so long to rub the sun cream in?”
“Well then, can I get up?”
“DON’T YOU DARE GET UP YET!!”
Alice, On…”Does my bum look out-of-proportionately big in this?”
Alice, On…Any kind of headwear
And finally (for now), Alice, On…Basic photographyskills
Oh, trust me, you’re welcome
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Minding my own business on emails (aka clearing out my junk folder, because, you know, what else is there to do right now?)
Anyway, I was doing that when something on the side bar caught my eye. This, the side bar which is always filled by random advertisements. For example, I’ve been invited to take out over 50s life insurance for far too long…a product of my enjoyment of Classic FM perhaps; other times it’s linked to the websites I’ve been loitering on.
Amazon, eBay, that Scientology website I once browsed at stupid o’clock. Even if the targeted adverts are sometimes questionable, it’s rare I look at these and go “where the Hell did that come from?” I’ve yet to take out the insurance, and last time I checked I hadn’t joined a cult…I think…
Right, so, what’s the point of all this preamble, you say? Well, despite all of the above, one day I got this in the side bar:
No, that’s it. Nothing more below, save the rest of the boot-shoe.
First off, how are any of these items linked? Hosiery/half a mannequin (I’ll be honest, I don’t know which it is), a balaclava and two types of shoe? It’s honestly the most mixed-up selection of clothing items one could buy, let alone for a lockdown fatkins like me.
Secondly, and probably the bigger question I should be asking, WHY AM I GETTING THIS?
I’m a lazy sod who hasn’t had a need for football boots since I played hockey for the school team in 2009. Plus, I couldn’t give a rat’s patootie what my rat’s patootie looks like. (I’ve just revisited that image, it looks like shapewear in the first thumbnail.)
Ain’t no shapewear containing this level of awesome!
So, the million cent question, did I click on the link to learn more, or possibly even purchase some of these dazzling products?
Am I however now racing to go back through all my browsing history and clearing out the tracking cookies. It has lead me to wonder though, have I been hacked by the Scientologists?
I mean, it would certainly explain the randomness of items (can you understand a word he’s saying?)
Also, Tom Cruise.
(I think I’m going to like inserting this sound effect into my work very much.)
First off, a massive thank you to everyone who has given me monetary donations to support some of the, quite frankly, kooky writing I do, even though no one ever really asked for it. Mumma B is baffled (really; she often asks me what people are on).
While I was always aware of the fees incurred by the Buy Me a Coffee (BMC) website/platform, aka the money they take out of your donations as admin, I wasn’t quite aware of the competitive alternatives.
After conducting research, I’ve decided (at least for now) to switch my funding platform to Ko-fi. Unlike BMC, Ko-fi doesn’t charge fees for handling donations (the company make their money from users paying for “gold” subscriptions and hahahaha if they think I’m going to be doing that anytime soon!)
This is why the link at the bottom of my posts will now refer to Ko-fi.
On Ko-fi I still pay PayPal fees, but no platform costs = more money for moi. Understood? Great.
Look! I even recycled this super high-brow video to convince would-be donors who happen on my funding page:
I used to dabble in video editing/production back when I was at University, you know? No, really, I did. I used to love meddling about with film equipment, me. And, even after all these years, I think it really shows. #TeamWindowsMovieMaker
(Even if you don’t watch the video, the thumbnail should sell my charity case by itself.)
Again, this doesn’t diminish what I’ve been donated so far. I’d rather be given £1 on BMC than nothing at all. My BMC page will continue to exist and if you have a burning desire to donate there instead, a) might want to get that checked out, but in all seriousness, b) go ahead.
As per usual a quick update has turned into me rambling and now I’m telling you to get that rash looked at by a doctor. Wonderful.
Oh and PS, in return I’m going to start making a point of thanking people for donations – on social media, possibly here if source material gets tight (it’s a wonder to us all that a year into a pandemic I’m still finding shizz to type about). If you’re a bit shy you can always donate anonymously. (You’ll be like the secret valentine I never had.)
Argh, going off topic again! In short, give me your money and give it to me on Ko-fi. Thanks!
Please support unpaid writers, like me, by donating to my funding page:
This post is dedicated to my lovely little sister, Bubba B.
It’s also dedicated to my old photo achieves I’ve been trawling through with zero regard to common decency. She let me take these photographs, she knew what she was signing herself up to five/six years later.
(At least that’s what my lawyers will say.)
*Cough* anyway, here we go.
My Sister, On…
My Sister, On…Contemporary Art
My Sister, On…Prehistory
(My Sister, On…World Domination of Prehistory)
My Sister, On…Geology
India On…Hipster Coffee
My Sister, On…Making Friends
My Sister, On…Interior Design
My Sister, On…Cultural Portrayals of the Female Body
My Sister, On…Wine Tasting
My Sister, On…Home Removals
My Sister, On…Interpretive Dance
My Sister, On…Travel
My Sister, On…Motivational Talks
(And finally – for now) My Sister, On…Questionable Photography
There you have it! Stay awesome, sister of the sea.
(PS, because no one is perfect…)
Yeah, I’ve no idea either.
(There may be an “Alice On…” sequel, or two, coming soon.)
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Candles, erosion excitement and a scurvy-inducing diet, we’ve got all the reasons (and more) why I’ve quite possibly still yet to become one half of a “smug couple”.
Why Alice is Still Single…Probably
First Things First
I can’t help that a pandemic happened.
I don’t proactively choose to shun humans (Yeah, I’ll call up my insurance firm now. “Hello, I’d like to record my profession as ‘Aspirational Spinster’ please? What do you mean, that’ll increase my premium?”)
Although, for the benefit of reassurance, I am attracted to humans.
(But I am also attracted to that part of YouTube.)
I’ve Made My Memory Foam Bed, and it Serves me Well
I live where I live and do what I do. And before you give me that Sliding Doors baloney, “if only you’d taken that fictional job somewhere else, then maybe things would be different”, I mean, sure but…
A) Not God.
B) There are loads of amazing things I’d have missed out on.
C) I lived in London for a year and guess what? Despite getting my bag stuck in the Tube countless times and missing countless more trains altogether, John Hannah still didn’t show up and I’m still not Gwyneth Paltrow.
(But at least my accent isn’t that grating.)
My Cooking is Beyond Questionable
Case in point, I routinely eat leftover Chinese with pasta. I call it “East Meets West” (no, really, I do).
I know what you’re thinking and yes, I am the kind of girl who brings a stapler and a rack of business cards to dinner (and you thought the Chinese was hot stuff).
As a rule of thumb, the dishes I cook involve three ingredients. E.g. scrambled eggs: eggs (no milk), bread, butter for bread. Soup: tin of soup, bread, butter for bread. Chips, fish fingers, peas.
I also routinely snack on dry cream crackers.
I’m Not in the Market of Being Someone I’m Not
I’m so out of habit with makeup I barely wear it nowadays. The idea of putting all this stuff on my face to create something to satisfy everyone but me just doesn’t do anything for me (you can’t see your own face after all).
Looking at this from a positive angle, this is presently the worst I’m ever going to get:
*Well, excluding when I’m chilling out in the back of Shoreditch clubs.
Everything Excites Me…But Men
Things like having David Nicholls, author of One Day, like my Tweet:
(Reason .5 for staying single – I like using words like golly)
I also like seeing the effects of coastal erosion on tiny pebbles:
I didn’t even care they only were available in a men’s size. Why? Because I’m now the proud owner of Picasso socks. Duh.
It doesn’t take much to get me excited, but on the downside, it doesn’t take much to get me excited. I don’t need a guy to be the *sole* provider of my joy…unless you have Picasso socks. And yes, pun intended.
I Have Awesome Friends
Granted, things are a smidge surreal at the moment, but I still have my girl (and guy) friends. And if I can’t meet up with them in real life, I still can connect with them digitally.
Dressing up and dancing around my bedroom, it’s like the teenage years I never had. Back when I was too busy wearing jeans and playing about with hair straighteners and knives.
Oh, Cotswolds, you do crack me up.
Nb, that was taken on my eighteenth birthday. Disney need to do a rerun of that film, 13 Going on 30.
We’ll call it 30 Going on 13, and it’ll be 90 minutes of me struggling to comprehend water installations in urban environments:
Ten years on and I’m still trying to work them out.
Hmm, I think we’ve gone a bit off topic somewhere around here. What were we discussing, again? Oh yeah, why I’m single.
Me, Myself and I; We’ve got Our Own Thaang Going on
I Already Have an Interim Solution, and it’s a Candle
I can’t quite fathom how Glade have done this, but I swear this candle smells like a ‘best of’ man collection. It’s kinda musky and has a nice cologne-like secondary smell. I think it’s a honey and chocolate combo.
I can’t share the smell, but trust me, it’s solid. And no, I’m not backing down on this.
And Then There Are the Creeps
Ooh! Bear with, just got a new match.
Right, let’s open this up…
Your best bet is to cook me something with four ingredients, invest in quirky socks and dip yourself in molten wax.
Guess what? I’m eighteen years old in that one too.
I need to get into teen movies. Where is my non-existent agent?
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“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” – L.P. Hartley
A year ago today, I returned from a London city break and published my first post. I’d spent a year living in the UK capital, so for me it marked a refresh of the best bits of city-living, including art galleries, theatre performances and catching up with old friends.
Days after my return I was left encumbered, battling a mystery illness. Those following weeks I pressed on the best I could, putting it down as another one of those viruses which circulate in densely populated environments. A year later I’m no closer knowing what struck me down; we all have our theories.
Back then, my friends and I had whimsically noted the high-adoption of face coverings being worn by the predominantly Asian tourist base. We mused on the foreign illness that was gripping other continents, but to comprehend the possibility that our own country could already be rife with disease was a step too far. We were better than that, we were British. Instead, we continued to pack ourselves into dense sweats to watch live music, feasted in noisy restaurants and embraced fondly.
If only we’d known.
So, with perhaps a naively romanticised view of what were truly the last days of normality (late January 2020), here are all four parts of London Recalling.