STILL Wishing You Were Here? Bruges Throwback

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.

Bruges (by boat)

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 Very Happy Alice

I’ve just got back from my writing retreat and, newsflash, it was beyond amazing.

Full retreat cohort, including course tutor/professional author Caitlin Davies (in the red jumper)

I met 22 wonderful human beings (15 other participants + tutors/guest readers + Arvon staff), and there was so much to take in and reflect on, and every night I felt I like I could burst with creativity (which would have been awkward, as I don’t think anyone signed-up to being coated in chunks of Alice…at least not before dessert).

With so many thoughts, feelings and emotions running through my head, it’s hard to put into extacting words what the past week has meant to me. From 1-2-1s with critically acclaimed writers, to long walks, to sitting down at a desk (in front of a gorgeous view) and hitting word to paper, my time spent on an Arvon tutored retreat at The Hurst (deep in the Shropshire Hills) has been an incredible experience.

A group of us prepare for a mid-morning woodland hike. Photographed alongside course tutor/publishing editor Jacob Ross (second right)

I’ll get something more substanial down soon but for now know this; I’m a very, very happy Alice!

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Out of Office

Hi all,

I’m off this week on a super fancy writers’ retreat (very exciting stuff!) After what feels like a century of isolation, I’m very much looking forward to meeting and working alongside like-minded people at a blissfully rural location in the British countryside.

As per the rural comment, I’m going to mostly be off-grid during my time away but I’ll be back with a new blog post sometime next week.

Now, time to be all Natasha Bedingfield for a whole seven days.

I can see the similarities.

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A Song For Every Day of the Week

Monday

The Boomtown Rats – “I Don’t Like Mondays”

Tuesday

Burak Yeter – “Tuesday”

Wednesday

Macklemore – “Wednesday Morning”

Thursday

Knapsack – “Hey Thursday”

Friday

Katy Perry – “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)”

Saturday

Twenty One Pilots – “Saturday”

Sunday

No Doubt – “Sunday Morning”

Notable Mentions:

New Order – “Blue Monday”

The Cure – “Friday I’m in Love”

Sam Fender – “Saturday”

Whigfield – “Saturday Night”

The Commodores – “Easy”

Craig David – “7 Days”

Less Notable Mentions:

Rebecca Black – “Friday”

Deary me.

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Alice’s Signature “Three Ingredient” Cooking (Alias “Stodge Dinner”)

A couple of videos that showcase just the level of my culinary abilities. I’d caveat it with something like, “it had been a long day in the office and/or it was 23:00 in the evening”, but it wasn’t. It was 19:00 and it was me, being me.

Part One – Preparation and Cooking

Part Two – Finishing Touches and the Taste Test

Oh, and here is the pastry I mentioned in the video, the free one.

I think it was a citrus tart. It tasted of lemons. It was going out of date that day, so someone came up to me and asked if I wanted it. Five days after said expiry date, I ate it (because that’s the kind of classy girl I am).

So, who wants to hire me as their private chef?

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Photo of the Week – “Fish Eyes”

Well, seems Marlin has been enjoying himself down the local aquarium.

From the makers of Finding Nemo, “Finding Marlin…in the gentleman’s club”

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“Another Chance” is SUCH a Throwback Banger

You know what song I recently rediscovered? “Another Chance”, by Roger Sanchez.

And if not for the track itself, then for this surprisingly emotive music video:

“Can’t come inside.”

“Why?”

“Heart’s too big.”

Things like that are deeper on a level that I never really picked up when I first heard the song.

Given this track came out in 2001 (yes, it’s 20 years old), growing up it was one of the first music videos I remember seeing with a story to tell. The actors are relatable in their looks, they talk over the track, the DJ artist is visually non existent. While the idea of a woman carting a massive physical heart around New York City isn’t particularly believable, the message and sentiment behind it resonated for thousands (if not millions) of people.

Compare this to its industry-defining successor, Eric Prydz’s “Call on Me” which came out 3 years later, in 2004.

It’s a banger, but as a result did we really need to have five years of music videos filled with this?

Fun fact, every time you watch “Perfect”, a Feminist dies.

Also, another fun fact, “Another Chance” features a sample of Toto’s “I Won’t Hold You Back” (as if you needed more reason to love this song).

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You’re Welcome

I sent a thank you card to one of the restaurants I frequented when I made a solo staycation to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

(God knows what I wrote inside, I can barely remember what I ate for lunch five minutes ago.)

Whatever its contents were, The Northern Whig clearly enjoyed them enough to prop it up on their fancy bar and share it on their Instagram story.

Caption reads: Such a thoughtful thank-you card from @aeb.thewriter

You’re welcome guys, hope to visit again soon. x

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Geology, Politics and Guinness: My Week in Belfast

Just back, having spent a week in the lovely city of Belfast (capital of Northern Ireland, UK).

I had a wonderful time visiting The Giants Causeway, drinking Guinness, admiring political murals, drinking my weight in coffee, absorbing the industrial significance of the Titanic…getting through a lot of local gins. It was a cultural whirlwind. Best of all, it was unbelievably sunny; it didn’t rain once!*

* – apart from the ten minutes it pelted it down, but at that point had just paid my entrance ticket to spend some time inside Belfast’s notorious Crumlin prison. (I swear I’m a normal human being deep down.)

Hopefully there will be a video coming up soonish (when I get a spare day to pull everything together), but in the meantime here are a selection of choice snaps from my staycation.

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That’s When the Cleaning Fumes Got to Me

You know how it is. It’s a Friday night, you’re a single woman with the world at your fingertips and anything is possible. You could go out, let your hair down or…you could stay in and give your kitchen a deep clean.

Thing is, I’m not even embarrassed to admit this. In the same way I’m not at all ashamed to say the only bottles this girl was demolishing the other night were these:

(Obviously in non-drinking, sense. Please don’t call 111.)

With cleaning plans firmly lodged in my head, I changed out of my dress and put on a black vest, thus transforming me into a low-budget search engine result for “contemporary dancer near me”.

(No refunds for crimes against the aeroplane dance move.)

First item in my line of cleaning sight (yes, this was genuinely how I spent my Friday night), the fridge. Breaking this mighty deliverable down into smaller, manageable, chunks (who said bringing the day job into personal life isn’t exotic?), I went for the bottom drawer first.

This was followed by a healthy amount of neighbour stalking / Alice rambling (feat. actual cleaning).

Several hours later, and after inhaling quite a considerable about of cleaning fumes in a confined space, this happened.

I’m not going to explain nor apologise. I sent it to my close friends and the responses speak for themselves.

So that’s how I spent my crazy Friday night, what about you?

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