30 BEFORE 30

Right now, 30 seems way off but still fairly daunting now that I’m a whole 3 months into my 20s as of tomorrow (20 didn’t quite count, did it?). Following on from the post I wrote back in November about turning 21 (TWENTY-ONE) and my lack of excitement surrounding this so-called rite of passage, I decided to make a sort of to-do list. Something that lays somewhere between New Year’s Resolutions and fully fledged bucket list territory. I apologise for any clichés from the offset. I think it’s impossible to do anything of this ilk, to even discuss “goals”, whilst remaining free from cliché. Surprisingly, it didn’t take me all that long to collate. Once you start thinking of things to which you aspire, it’s easy to get carried away. I hope I’ve managed to keep the balance between dream and attainability and I’ll catch you in 9 (years) to see how I’ve done.

  1. Graduate with at least a 2:1. Hopefully this one is achievable in the not too distant future.
  2. Visit Asia or South America (2 in 1 because I doubt I’ll be lucky enough to do both!)
  3. Have a dog – I’d absolutely love to have Dalmatian, or 101.
  4. Go to Glastonbury.
  5. Start a career.
  6. Apply for a really crazy job opp.
  7. Visit New Zealand – Australia’s never really done it for me but I’ve always had wanderlust for NZ.
  8. Go to more gigs / concerts – they’re always the best nights ever (especially this Paramore one: Instagram)
  9. Do a proper gal’s holiday to somewhere super stereotypical like Ibiza.
  10. Be fluent in French – should be much closer to this one than I am en ce moment.
  11. Be able to run my car by myself because I love her and don’t want to have to get rid!
  12. Maybe have this blog be successful.
  13. Get another tattoo, or two. I’ve just the one at the moment (see: InstagramInstagram)
  14. To have at least started a masters degree.
  15. Road trip across a whole country. A small one, like the UK or Italy.
  16. Work for a charity, fundraise or volunteer.
  17. Host a dinner party – plenty of courses, wine an’ all.
  18. Solo travel.
  19. Scandinavia trip. I’ve been to Denmark as a child and Stockholm more recently, but would love to make another visit.
  20. Buy something expensive.
  21. Move out properly.
  22. Decorate / furnish an entire flat just how I want it.
  23. Read Les Miserables (in English lol) as it’s been sitting on a shelf for years.
  24. Treat my parents to something.
  25. See a friend get married.
  26. Host family Christmas – with a real tree, loads of decorations and all the (veggie) trimmings.
  27. Be healthy, maybe healthier.
  28. Take lots of photos in my 20s or even scrapbook more things.
  29. See a Broadway show – I suppose this involves a trip to NYC too.
  30. Be vegan. Right now I flutter between being vegetarian during term time and pescatarian when I’m home  and have done so for almost 3 years now.

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LIVING SOLO

LIVING SOLO

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It’s not mine, but it’s a taste of what could be. A trial run of adulthood, maybe. Sans bills or the majority of my rent (thanks mum & dad). But it’s still a taste nonetheless. Although I’ve lived away from home during term time since the end of 2015, and even before then had stints at boarding school from the age of 8, moving to France alone is a different experience altogether. Moving to Paris back in September was terrifying and it was almost just as scary moving to Lyon a couple of weekends back. However, things have started differently here, and indeed for the better. I jumped straight into university on day 3, rather than having a fortnight of not knowing what to do with myself in Paris. University takes up 10 and a half hours a week, spread across 4 weekdays, as opposed to just 5 or 6 hours in Paris divided between a Tuesday and a Saturday. Yes, uni on a Saturday. I’m also going to be taking up a job offer rather soon that will keep me occupied for a further 8 hours per week and in some form of grown-up routine (vs. little bits of studying here and there and taking full advantage of that free month of Netflix).

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Top tip : Flowers brighten the room and in turn, lift your mood – especially super pretty ones from a lovely little French florist.

Another thing though, something that I think is helping exponentially with my Year Abroad experience this time around (which admittedly, seems to be a little less wild than some), is that I am living alone in a studio. Granted, it’s not for every 21 year old wanting to explore a new city and culture whilst learning more of a language and perhaps in that sense it’s an error of judgement or the easy way out, but I love it here in this room that I can call my own for the next 3 or 4 months. It’s also a little further out than what would have been ideal, an almost 40 minute walk to university. However, that’s actually resulted in me hitting that 10,000 step target on most days, which can only be a good thing. The studio means that I have my own space entirely. A bathroom and kitchen of my own, rather than just the bed and desk going unshared. But it’s not just the room. I have my own mailbox with my name on a sticker and a name tag on the front door to buzz guests into the building (which is also beautiful by the way). Mum & Dad are visiting in March so they can test it out for me. Needless to say, it’s remained out of use thus far. . .

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Questionable lighting choices.

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Food is only ever a few steps from bed.
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Takeaways for one aren’t so terrible after all.

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Living alone might sound like it’s going to be lonely maybe even creepy, and I must admit I did have my doubts, especially after some super lonely times in my room in Paris. But as with most things and as cliché as it may be, life it is what you make of it. Of course, there are lots of solutions to combat loneliness but sometimes you do just want to be by yourself and living alone makes it beyond easy to do so. It also comes with lots of other benefits. Meals for one mean choosing the accompanying TV show and takeaways without the ordeal of choosing where to order from, the entire place is kept exactly how you want it to be kept – at whatever level of tidiness you so desire, and there are no queues to anything – that’s no knocking / knocks on the bathroom door, and no lining up for the hob, because it’s all your’s.

 

 

 

4 / 2 / 2018

UPDATE: ANOTHER HIATUS OVER & I’M IN LYON

UPDATE: ANOTHER HIATUS OVER & I’M IN LYON

After a flu-riddled Christmas at home, yet another blogging hiatus is over. I’m back, and I’m back in France. Only this time, further south and a little bit to right. I’m in the birthplace of cinema and food capital of France (some actually say the world) where the locals are called Lyonnais. That’s right, you guessed it. I’m in Lyon and have been for a week and one day. Having been here for just over a week, it would be impossible to have grasped what Lyon is all about or seen much of the city at all really. But what I can say already is that living here feels so much different to living where I did last semester, just outside of Paris. What helps tremendously is that my room here feels a little more like a home from home. I am really enjoying that I have my own front door, my own mailbox and the ability to “buzz people” into the building, not that anybody is likely to be calling by. It feels like a completely different experience already. One of semi adult-ing maybe, rather that floundering in Parisian suburbs. I’ll try to keep you posted, literally.

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Instagram over Lyon @ sunrise on my walk to uni.(https://www.instagram.com/p/BeVG8M6F90R/?taken-by=holmestash)

TWENTY-ONE

TWENTY-ONE

Twenty-one kind of hit me harder than any age thus far. It’s the first time when at midnight I actually felt a little different. I suppose there is so much build-up to it. Sometimes regarded as the final truly celebratory and exciting birthday. The ultimate rite of passage in western society. But frankly, today at 21 all you can look forward to is drinking and gambling on that American road trip you probably won’t be able to afford until well into your 30s. “Having the key to the door” simply has no modern day relevance. You’ve had the key to your parents door for years and the prospect of having keys to your own home are rapidly declining and metaphorically speaking, you’re still pretty shit at adult-ing, am I right?

 But anyway, enough of that doom and gloom. My birthday weekend was simply great. My best friend and fellow birthday girl joined me here in Paris to celebrate in style! She won’t mind me saying this but I have usually just joined in on her celebrations, not having really organised anything for my own birthday since my 18th, a big meal out and then joining Hol in Manchester for my first legal night out! My 19th was again spent boogying in Manchester and last year I turned 20 at her fabulous 21st birthday party. So this year, she decided to visit me in Paris and I am so super glad that she did coz we had a blast, thank you again (and thank you so so much for my necklace, I haven’t yet taken it off).

 

10/11/2017 – France vs. Pays de Galles

Yeah, we went to a football match at the Stade de France. Ended up sitting on the French side, among die-hard not very fun fans. Oh, and Wales lost. An experience nonetheless.

 

11/12/2017 – Etre Moderne : Le MoMa à Paris @ Fondation Louis Vuitton

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All autumnal from the terrace.

Etre Moderne at Fondation Louis Vuitton was simply incredible. I would totally recommend a visit if you’re around Paris before it’s all shipped back across the pond. Make a day of it though because it is massive and jam-packed full of art. Spread across 4 floors and 4 different time periods, there really is something for everybody. We spent a good 3 – 4 hours in here and didn’t even make it to the basement. Food options however, poor at best.

IMG_8020Art > Grammar

IMG_8033Ronan Ondak. Measuring the Universe. 2007. Mine and Holly’s heights marked in there by a grumpy Frenchman, somewhere among all of the other average height visitors.

IMG_8044IMG_8043Bruce Nauman. Human/Need/Desire. 1983.

IMG_8059And of course, Andy Warhol. Campbell’s Soup Cans. 1962.

 

11/12/2017 cont. – Dressed up for Le Perchoir Marais and a boogie.

I had wanted to toast turning 21 at midnight at Le Perchoir Marais as it’s a rooftop bar in Paris with a beaut view. Even on a rainy, wintery November night. So, that’s what we did! We queued a little but made it in for 11.30pm, in time to purchase a bottle of champers and head to the skyline in time for the clock striking 12. I will be the first to admit, the rest of the night wasn’t quite as sophisticated. Next up was cheap pizza and disco-dancing into the early hours. Get you a girl who can do both.

 

All dolled up . . . and yes, there’s a reason that there are only two photos. Let’s say the rest didn’t make the cut.

 

12/11/2017 – Irving Penn @ Le Grand Palais

Sunday was for breakfast in bed and an ever-so-slightly hungover museum visit. Despite the long queue in hideous weather, our visit to the Irving Penn exhibition itself was great. The progression of his photography, career and life were presented super effectively through the space and obviously there were tonnes of iconic shots, which was rad.

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Picasso by Penn. 1957.

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This poppy here struck a chord on my first Remembrance Sunday away from home.

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What’s a celebration without messing around in a Photo Booth?

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Only took me exactly 21 years on the planet / 2 months and 9 days living in Paris to get this classic tourist shot. More pics over on my Instagram 💁🏻

WHEN MUM CAME TO VISIT

WHEN MUM CAME TO VISIT

I’m a little behind on blog post plans due to my 21st birthday (belated, celebratory post coming soon), attempts at studying and working towards my TEFL (also to be discussed soon), and general laziness in all honesty. So let’s throw it back to the beginning of the month . . .

After a lovely and much needed break at home, mum flew back with me to Paris. I had been desperate to visit Versailles, so used this as the perfect opportunity to drag somebody along with me (she was more than compliant really). However, Versailles is more of a full-day / Saturday outing so on the afternoon and evening of our arrival we had a wander, and some food and wine . . . naturally. When in Rome and whatnot.

3/11/2017: MONTMARTRE WANDER & DINNER @ AMÉLIE CAFÉ

Montmartre has now twice been my go-to tourist spot to take my visitors here in Paris. We got off the métro at Pigalle, had a quick look at the Moulin Rouge and headed up to the Sacré-Cœur (mum loves a church / cathedral on holiday, it’s a well known family fact). After looking around for somewhere to eat, I suggested we check out the Amélie café as another hint that mum should watch one of my favourite films / at least one of my many viewing suggestions. We headed there and had a cheese board, chips and wine along to some lovely unexpected live music.

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Moulin Rouge

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Mumma @ Café de 2 Moulins

4/11/2017: CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES

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Versailles was incredible. To the extent in some rooms that I really was speechless. No photo will do justice to just how absolutely huge and totally grand the Château de Versailles truly is. It’s bloody massive. Having recently rewatched the first series of the BBC’s “Versailles” and binge-watched the second, I was pining to see where all that drama, those sordid tales and the infamous wild soirées of Louis XIV went down, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Let’s allow the snaps to do the talking.

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La chapelle royale / The absolutely magnificent Royal Chapel

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La Galerie des Glaces / The Hall of Mirrors

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Le Grand Appartement du roi / The King’s Appartments

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The Gardens

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Getting those IGs ft. new The Great Frog rings, Vans from my besties and nails a lot fresher than they are now.

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Mum looking all windswept and interesting (hope you had a great time visiting me!!)

 

STUDENT NIGHT OUT: Cardiff VS. Paris

STUDENT NIGHT OUT: Cardiff VS. Paris

Hourra! c’est le weekend!

I think that if any Cardiff University student is doing uni right, even if they don’t want to admit it and somewhat without their noticing, they themselves have become a connoisseur of a night out Cardiff-style. However, the same cannot be said for my partying habits in France thus far. I have been “out out” a grand total of twice. So, perhaps I am under qualified, even completely unqualified to type about the differences of a Cardiff student night out vs. a Paris student night out, but here goes regardless. These are five things I did note.

ONE: Girls aren’t pally in the loo. As with all the other points about to be made, I learnt this one from experience. Drunken compliments aren’t readily accepted, there are no drunken compliments to be received and there are certainly no toilet selfie / group shot opportunities to be taken advantage of as there are in the bathrooms of Blighty.

TWO: Every night out, even as a non-smoker, consists of several trips to the smoking area, especially in the Cardiff SU. Whether it’s to find old friends, make new ones, for the half-fresh air or the scheduled regroup and gal chat, there will be trips to “smokers”. Fumoirs (or smoking rooms) make this trip smelly, suffocating and aren’t even all that sociable.

THREE: Cardiff is cheap as Chip Alley. You will realise this more than you ever have and more than you ever will again as a student in Paris, day and night. In all fairness, this probably hasn’t been helped by the pre-drinking sessions held in bars, rather than in somebody’s grimy living room.

FOUR: Drunk food sucks. Who wants a bloody crêpe for the journey home? Not me that’s for sure. Anybody who knows me, also knows that I’m all about the cheesy chips (cheese and onion pasty and pickled onion are favourable add-ons, though not necessary. Miss u Abdul, c u next week).

FIVE: Speaking of the journey home, it’s a trek and a half for me from the centre of Paris at nighttime. So, not only is there no nipping past Family Fish Bar on the way back from the SU, there’s no “nipping” anywhere.

SIX: A club pic is a club pic. . .

22770777_1514494675266180_346558237837642731_oYOLO (lash) @ Cardiff University Students’ Union

21768799_1654657731275242_6435886014820733356_oKiss My Erasmus @ Café Oz Chatelet

BOIS de BOULOGNE: Ladies of the Day

BOIS de BOULOGNE: Ladies of the Day

Call me naïve, a country bumpkin. Call me what you will. But until today, prostitution was an almost abstract idea. A practice confined to BBC Three documentaries, the windows of Amsterdam and 19th century French literature. One is never really exposed to much of the sex industry in the sleepy border villages of home. When I say “never really” I mean not, and when I say “not much of” I mean none at all.

I like to think I’m fairly street smart even savvy (notwithstanding innate irrational fears and barely leaving my room after dark) but I was shocked. Completely stunned in fact. In my defence, it was hardly a subtle realisation or first encounter. It was more of a bare arse cheeked, perspex pleaser heeled and suspendered kind of realisation or first encounter. You know the sort?Two of the first three Google reviews on the Bois de Boulogne mention what a great place it is for the whole family to hang out in so again, in all fairness, I feel like I was right to be a little taken aback by the roadside “butt naked” lady of the . . . absolute broad daylight. A couple of further sightings of scantily-clad ladies, multiple parked-up white vans and a quick Google search of “Bois de Boulogne prostitutes” later and I was ever so slightly less in the dark about what on earth was going on around me. Vice was quick to inform in the following article, boldly titled in true Vice style but insightful, “Paris’ Prostitutes and Their Fabulous Trucks” (https://www.vice.com/prostitutes-trucks-bois-de-boulogne) that the park, steeped rich in a history of sex work was well known to Parisians as a modern day, ongoing “red light district”, unlit. I guess I’m not quite there on the Parisienne front, nor will I probably ever be. Having read a Zola and being halfway through Bel-Ami, both of which are social criticisms aligning social downfall with sex and littered with references to the Bois de Boulogne, I feel rather silly and a little as though it was a glaringly obvious fact, in hindsight. It’s a wonderful thing.

It all seemed such a bizarre juxtaposition. Old couples on afternoon strolls, dog walkers, and young picnicking families against a background of not only beautiful, historic woodland but also sex workers, working out of parked vans in the early afternoon. Despite France having passed a law in April of last year in an attempt to push for an end to prostitution and fight against human trafficking, and public solicitation having been outlawed since 2003, the roadside business went somewhat unnoticed by the old couples, dog walkers and young families and only really seemed daunting and bizarre to me, the bumpkin Brit abroad. Perhaps this non-reaction completely vouches for the age-old concept that the French are the most sexually liberal Europeans and have vastly different social constructs entirely when it comes to sex. On the other hand, maybe it only goes as far as to prove that I am naïve and not even a tiny bit street smart nor savvy.

Of course, the entire social and ethical issue of prostitution and sex trafficking is absolutely infinite, often so gravely serious and dangerous, that I by no means think this post does any more than scratch at the surface. However, today’s outing and experience really did get me thinking and even interested in looking much further into the subject of the “world’s oldest profession”, its history and modern day manifestations. So much so in fact that it may become the subject of my first “Year Abroad Project” to send back to Cardiff. If my plan is deemed academic enough, I think I could make it work.