PHOTO DIARY | Amsterdam

Hi there, long time, no write (again!)
Life has been getting in the way as per usual, I’ve been undergoing my training to become a Secondary School English Teacher and that in itself has been a whole bag of mixed emotions, driving me away from my hobbies and of course, my blogging.
Now, with the whole Coronavirus pandemic – 2020 really shook things up here – there’s this eeriness present in the World where literally everything and everyone is coming to a halt, something that myself and I bet many of you thought we would never witness in this generation.
With this, of course jobs, careers, schools have all been effected in some way and therefore, has interrupted my life schedule too. I was supposed to be on a School placement for the rest of this academic year, that of course has come to a standstill and now, the whole of mankind is just sat here in this weird limbo of not being able to do much “until further notice.” Scary times. However, the purpose of this post was not to actually talk about the pandemic (we get enough of that on the news and social media) but this time off actually allowed me to catch up on blog posts that had been sitting in my drafts folder since last year that I thought to finish…and it’s nice to actually reflect back on times where Coronavirus was just a Black Mirror episode or movie blockbuster.
Hope you enjoy…

From July 2019:

Were our eyes deceiving us? For once in our drizzly, downpour of a country, England was finally able to enjoy a proper Summer!! Literally, from viewing people’s Instagram and Snapchat stories, I legit could not tell if they were abroad or just chilling in their back gardens with a barbie.

Throughout this blooming gorgeous chapter of sunshine, my siblings and I flew a little ways down south of the Globe for a little weekend getaway to Amsterdam! So, I thought I would share a little photo diary of what we got up to, along with a few little tips you may want to know if you’re planning a little visit over there yourself…

Day 1

We set off early from Manchester airport and as soon as we landed in the Netherlands, we stepped out of the airport and our priorities straight – checked in at the hotel and headed for FOOD!!

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PANCAKES AMSTERDAM
So, courgettes, smoked chicken, coriander all embedded into a sweet pancake batter and cooked like a crepe…also not forgetting a mango chutney dipping sauce – this was a combination of ingredients I wouldn’t have even dreamed about putting together, but oh my word, it was actually amazing!! The perfect balance where sweet meets savoury, my sister opted for the full sweet taste of Nutella and ice-cream (and I personally feel like she massively missed out!)

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And then we swiftly moved on to see some sites!!

Canal Boat Ride

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Day 2

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CAFE WINKEL 43
Best Apple Pie in all of ‘Dam…
…Oh Winkel, firstly, what a name! But my oh my, for a girl that is not a usual Apple Pie kinda lover, Cafe Winkel 43 managed to convert me. Shoutout to my girl May (AKA Doddsy, AKA Mad Dodds, AKA Legend) who was lucky enough to live in Amsterdam for a while and recommended this little gem to us.

Day 3

Happy Tosti
The cutest (and most healthiest) breakfast place I ever did dine at…

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MAMA KELLY AMSTERDAM

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Some Trip Tips

You need to Pay to Pee…
…in majority of places. Even the Mcdonalds we went to had a wee lil’ turnstile to get to the loo, so I would definitely advise to always carry some spare change around.

Check the Weather! And dress accordingly…
…or should I say, check the weather again! We had checked what the weather would be roughly a week before we had set out to leave and it was forecast rain and lots of clouds. It lied, the weather channel lied to us. Thus bringing me to my next point….

Don’t peddle boat in 30 degree weather (in a denim boilersuit!!)
…emphasis on the ‘boil’ because heavy perspiration was an un understatement. It worked off all the food we ate though!

Anne Frank…
…She is one VERY popular gal. Although viewing the Anne Frank Museum was one of the main activities we had set out to do, our little unorganised selves weren’t aware that tickets were only available online now! There is an extremely slim chance to book tickets on the morning you wish to visit as they keep a percentage of tickets available to buy but of course there’s an online queue and it’s basically impossible. So, learn from our mistakes and book 2 months in advance!

Bikes, bikes and more bikes
…Throw your green cross code out of the window here because you never know when or where one of these little buggers will pop out from and clip you out of nowhere. It made trying to get an insta photo hella hard I’ll tell you that!

Funky smells
…for obvious reasons you may or may not already know, as marijuana is legal here. If you would like to avoid getting high, do not visit any places labeled “coffee shops” for coffee, stick to cafes and restaurants ūüėČ

If you would like to watch a little video I put together of the trip, you can view it here…

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Keep safe,
I x

Photo Diary: Birthday in Barcelona

 

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First off, I hope everybody had a really lovely start to the new year, if you’ve¬†already seen my Instagram and Snapchat spams then you’ll all know that I blooming had the best start to the year!! My family only went and took me to Spain for my birthday! Like what?!?! Absolute crazinesssssss! It was the best birthday of my life, besides the fact of how old I was turning – but¬†let’s not dwell on that…
I can’t thank¬†my sisters and brother-in-law enough for taking me – also for being my personal photographers and videographers – had to keep up-to-date with OOTD’s guys! This post is kind of a lengthy one but only because it’s jam-packed with pictures and very little writing so for now I’ll shut up and let you enjoy my little(ish) gallery of all the places I visited and things I did in beautiful Barcelona.

Saturday 7th January (My Birthday!)

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We stayed at the beautiful Vincci Mae Barcelona Hotel ¬†which is situated towards the centre of the city and walking distance from a lot of attractions. The staff were so lovely, always greeted with an “HOLA” from the desk every time we were leaving or arriving and the rooms weren’t too shabby either!

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Sunday 8th January

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Barcelona Zoo

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Camp Nou (New Camp) Stadium

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So, I’ve never been much of a football fan apart from when something big his happening in the footy world like the World Cup or something, but oh my, I fell so in love with the Barcelona football team – and the stadium too! Now, I’ve always been a fan of Lionel Messi, he’s one of the few footballers I know (and that’s only because he’s the greatest footballer in the world, debatable I know but he’s the best in my eyes). Anyway, we were able to see all the many, many, many, MANY trophies and cups that the Barcelona team have won over the years, many photos of the footballers too¬†ūüėČ Then there was the chance to walk out onto the sidelines of the pitch, visit the press pit and even take a gander into¬†players’ locker room!

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ALSO, it’s not every day you get to have an Outfit of the Day photoshoot in an empty football stadium – apparently I had amused one of the tour guides by¬†taking pictures whilst sitting on the stairs rather than using the pitch as my backdrop… he clearly did not understand the ways of an OOTD shoot.

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Monday 9th January

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Sagrada Familia

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All I can say about this building is that it is so so sooooo beautiful, I cannot even express in words or do it any justice in pictures of how beautiful. My sister (Adeeba) and I¬†had already visited it the night before – only being able to see it from outside – but even then when we could just see it in the light of the street lamps, it ¬†quite literally took our breaths¬†away. You just don’t expect something so grand and gorgeous to be in the centre of all the hustle and bustle of the city. Just from looking at the pictures I remember how bad my neck hurt from having to crane it all the way up to take in all the beauty… so worth it though. Gaudi, you bloody genius.

Gothic Quarter

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Park Guell

To carry on with the Gaudi guide, we visited Park Guell. Just see for yourself how amazing it is…

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I still remember making my own little fantastic and strange building out of clay from studying Gaudi in Year 7 Art and from then on, I’ve always wanted to travel to Barcelona to see his work in real life. Also, when I was younger I was a huge fan of the Cheetah Girls – please, please tell me that people remember the Cheetah girls – ¬†and to this day I still remember the scene they filmed in this very park in their second movie – anyone else remember? It was basically my 10/11 year old self’s dream come true, so of course I geeked out – but I was totally here for the art and culture too, not just because Raven Symone had been dancing on these stairs,¬†okay?

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Tuesday 10th January

And this was the sad, sad day where we had to say our goodbyes to Barcelona and head home ūüė¶

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But oh my word, it was such an amazing trip, the perfect birthday and the best start to the year. I cannot thank my family enough for spoiling me and all I keep thinking about now is…

“Where are you guys taking me next year?” ūüėČ ūüėČ ūüėČ

 I .. x

*All photos taken with an Olympus PEN

VLOG | Volunteering at Calais | With Help Refugees

So, I’ve received a lot of messages via Snapchat and Instagram from a lot of lovely people that they think I should start my own YouTube channel. And I’ve always sort of ignored it because I’ve always felt like I’ve never had the confidence, and I am a crazed fan¬†of Youtube lookbooks, hauls, and tutorials from all my favourite bloggers. So, I’ve always thought I’d never be able to rise up to that level. I always told myself that if I was to make videos I’d want to inspire people, so as soon as I found out that I was going to volunteer at a Calais refugee camp I thought, “this is my chance, I’m just gonna vlog the whole thing!” Even if the footage wasn’t going up anywhere I knew¬†I’d regret it if I didn’t have anything to remember the trip by. So, this is my little tester video to see if it inspires me to make more!

I tried my best to get as much footage as possible, but obviously I was there to work and help and getting my camera out and talking to it in front of a bunch of strangers allowed me to gain a few funny looks, haha!¬†Also, due to security reasons, we weren’t allowed to take pictures or film in front of the warehouse. We also had the chance to spend 2 days talking to a lot of the refugees in the camps, but again, footage of that was very limited. So, I’m afraid a lot of the video consists of my face talking to the camera, sorryyyyy! Talking to a camera lens was strange enough too, it’s something I feel will take a little getting used to – I have a whole new level of respect for those Youtube bloggers that vlog all the time and make it look like a piece of cake, because this stuff is¬†really hard! – But hopefully this will inspire some people to get out there and make a difference in the world.

Even though I was only volunteering in Calais for a week, it was enough for me to become majorly inspired and feel a part of a massive movement! Help Refugees is an organisation run purely by volunteers, some long-term and some short-term (like me) and each¬†and every person I met there had so much passion and determination for this cause. There were a number of people who had left their jobs and careers to volunteer full time and I know what you’re thinking, “How can they afford to do that?” But a lot of the long term volunteers lived in caravans on the warehouse site! My mum had this idea that I’d be slumming it in a sleeping bag in the middle of the jungle somewhere so she was fairly surprised too when she saw where I was staying! And I feel like this is something that a lot of people think, which may put them off going to places like this, but¬†I went within a group of 10 lovely, lovely people and we had a fair bit of luxury as we stayed in an Air BnB – and by luxury I mean that we had showers and cookers – and we didn’t have to splash the cash with that either.

It sounds really soppy but with every person I had met there, it felt as if I’d known them a lifetime, and I won’t be able to justice to the atmosphere and feeling you get within an environment like that, so I’m going to stop writing and just let you watch the video.¬†When you’re there¬†it’s like you were inside a little bubble and sort of switch off from the rest of the world and the video does a little more¬†justice to the experience, but basically you have to just go there and see it for yourselves! I’ll shut up now and just let you watch the video..Oh, and let me know what you guys thought of it, please! Just click on the image below to view it ūüôā

First time vlogger, out x

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Photo Diary: A Weekend in Whitby

From light breezes to blustering winds, drizzly¬†spells to torrential rainfall and times where you are just simply left breathless – and I’m not just talking about walking up and down those hundred and ninety-nine steps several times – but whether it be in the warmth of the golden sun or through blurred vision¬†because¬†the wind has struck you and you’re crying rivers,¬†Whitby is still without a doubt, breathtakingly beautiful.

You see, writing can get so overwhelming and stressful at times that a break is needed to avoid the risk of one becoming a sectioned patient. Luckily for us, our amazing creative writing tutors understood this and organised a weekend retreat to Whitby where we able to escape, to write, or to just take in the lovely sights that Whitby consisted of where inspiration was lurking on every cobbled corner. And it was definitely a wonderful break indeed! Minus those killer steps of course Рour hostel was situated on the cliff top and the easiest way to get into the town was to go down that bugger of a staircase Рbut no pain, no gain right?

We arrived at the hostel and I’m sure the first question asked was “what’s the WIFI password?” (I may or may not have wanted to know that myself.) So¬†once all that important stuff¬†was out the way we had¬†our chance to explore! Yes, we were at the seaside but let’s not forget it’s November (and this is Britain) so I¬†basically wanted to wrap up so much that if I fell and hit the floor, the goal was to bounce straight off the ground and get back up again! (Fortunately I didn’t fall but that meant I was never able to test that theory.) So, hats, scarves, boots were the basics, obviously gloves were out of the question because then I wouldn’t be able to use¬†my phone. #FirstWorldProbs

Whitby has always been a special place from a literary perspective as its mesmerising scenes has influenced many great writers – Lewis Carroll and of course, Bram Stoker are just a couple. Now, it was OUR time¬†to become inspired!¬†We¬†had the pleasure of walking through cemeteries where the gravestones¬†looked more like¬†props stolen from a movie set (except there were actual real people buried underneath these ones.) We took a gander round the little town, discovered tiny coffee shops that seemed only fit for hobbits – there was a lot of “Mind Your Head” signs about it – I met some overly friendly donkeys and I think I probably made friends with more dogs than I did with people ūüôā

We had a night dedicated to the students for their chance to read out what they had written over the course of the first day, I just have to say, I was surrounded by some crazy, mad talent in there! Being in the company of such a lovely group of people, bonding and meeting some amazing new friends has definitely been the highlight of the trip! Okay, soppy moment over.

And I think that’s it in a nutshell! So, here I have created a little photo diary of my time over the retreat. I switched into photographer mode quite often, okay, very often (I got a little excited at the Abbey ruins as you may be able to tell)¬†and of course, there’s plenty of selfie action!

Somehow all 199 of those steps seemed to have had some kind of inspirational powers because writer, Michael Farber has wrote a whole novel about them. I don’t know what he was on whilst he was walking up (and down) them, but I want some of it. The point being, I intend to read his novel that is, oh shocker, called¬†The Hundred and Ninety Nine Steps to¬†try and find some positivity from the devil that made me feel like I’d done three straight days of¬†leg-day at the gym! Okay, I’ve never been to a leg-day session in my life but if I did, I imagine it would feel like that.

Also, a massive, massive thank you to the Creative Writing Team at York St John! We had a blast!

Follow @YSJWriting on Twitter for more pictures of how the trip went down.

Relaxed Retreater out x

City Tours: York

So then York, my place of study, my (recent) place of work, my second home and one of many places when the old meets the new. This summer I have started a new internship based in York and although I am there almost everyday of the week I hardly get to see York. So, my friend and I decided to become those annoying tourists you see with a camera worn as a necklace, a backpack for ease and trainers for comfort, we were off!

(A little bit of architectural photography coming your way too)

First stop -and probably the most beautiful- was York Minster. Here’s how it went…

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Situated in the heart of York, the Minster is a beacon to all who visit (If I still have a view of the Minster wherever I am I know I’m not lost)! The archaic and grand stature provides you with a sense of security, it will remain there and never leave like it has done for the past few centuries.

The detail within stain glass windows will always mesmerise me.

Meet Rehanna: My crazy best friend (we all have one)! She began to find her inner photographer. (She can be found on Instagram with the name @Itsmerehannaaa)

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This room in the Minster very quickly became our favourite, the domed ceiling so high that our necks hurt from craning up to see it and the mosaic tiled floors were screaming to be photographed.

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A different perspective of the Minster after the FIRST lot of stairs…

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A selfie was necessary!

The York Minster Tower Tour was a new experience for me. We hiked up through the small, narrow, winding passageways and staircases. Warning: You get pretty dizzy! (If you do decide to go on the tower tour make sure you read all the health & safety regulations!) The staircase gives a ‘never going to end’ illusion. Our legs were getting tired, we had to take a break (or two) but I’ll tell you now, in the end it was completely worth it because we reached this view:

The amount of all those¬†stairs we climbed was explained…we were extremely high!

And the wind up there was epic! Utterly windswept!

Next stop: York’s Chocolate Story!
For those who don’t know, York is very well known for it’s chocolate! More importantly, it’s history of chocolate…and we were about to find out all about it!

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We got a small taste of how Charlie felt in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It began in a ride in an elevator as we were transported in time to when Chocolate first hit England. Our guided tour consisted of little chocolate tastings¬†and videos along the way, ending with making our own chocolate lollies!

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Chocolate tasting using all 5 of our senses!

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Walks through the York Shambles.

A cheeky stop for an outfit of the day picture:

Our last stop was the evening Ghost Walk and before that we had a little time to kill so we took a walk over to Clifford’s Tower:

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Twinning in Denim

Last Stop: The Ghost Walk

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More Information:
Click here for more info on The York Chocolate Story
A
nd here for more info on The York Minster

Keep up to date with all things York by following them on Twitter:
@VisitYork

HOT CHOCOLATE HOT SPOTS : THE YORK EDITION

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Like all good ol’ fashioned Brits, there is no better sound to me than the sound of the kettle rearing itself up for good old brew! I sometimes think I was meant to be born in a past generation (old biddy in a twenty year old body over here!) Aside from the comfort of your own home, it is pretty hard to determine where to go for a chillaxing moment when your out and about…SO…I’m going to tell you!

As I am studying my undergraduate degree in YORK I have come to the conclusion that the historical little city oozes with the CUTEST, QUIRKIEST, COSIEST cafes for food and hot drinks! And it got me thinking that these little places are one of a kind and nobody outside of York are aware of them!

SO, I have decided to venture upon each little cafe to seek out the best hot chocolates in York (those standard Costa and Starbucks brews are so overrated!) As well as hot chocolate’s there will also be food involved – I can’t go into a cafe and not eat!

So keep your eyes peeled on this space as my first review will be up very very soon!

Iram x

London Baby!

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So, as I hit the ever so mature and wise, older age of 20 (wow, I still haven’t gotten used to saying that!) I¬†watched with a heavy heart as my teenage years faded far, far away from me…BUT… my sisters decided to treat me to a trip to London!

Like any¬†major¬†FRIENDS¬†fanatic, you hear London and the first thing you think of is ‘LONDON BABYYYY!’ ¬†Oh Joey, what a wonderful man-child. Anyways as it is one of my favourite places ever¬†(well some parts of it) I was mega excited to go AND ¬†to top it all off my amazing sisters surprised me with a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum! Where else would that be but of course the one and only…. 221b Baker Street!! Major fan-girling moment (total Sherlock Holmes geek over here!!)

Enough chit-chat, let me show you some pics!!

 

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What’s a day out in London without a cheeky OOTD? My slam-dunkin’ dungarees paired with some kicking New Balance trainers! ūüėČ

 

 

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Slogan T-Shirt @ River Island. Dungarees @ ASOS. Trainers @ JD Sports

 

Let the journey begin…

 

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On board the Grand Central and here, Ladies and Gentlemen are my travel compadre’s #antisocial feat. Ms Monroe photobombing in the back there.

 

 

 

Meanwhile at Baker Street…

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We had reached 221B Baker Street! Feat. Old-school looking police man.

 

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Pouts with the pooch!

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So she could say that she ‘went’ at Sherlock’s House, my big sister everybody.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Then it was time for Din Dins at SPAGHETTI HOUSE – The Special that night…Seafood Linguini!!! Served in little mini cooking pots!! Cuuuute!

 

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Yeah it rains a lot in London so a hair change-up was needed!

 

Three girls in their early  twenties (do not think I will ever get used to that term for myself) in the middle of London and all its glory. With some birthday money burning a searing hole in my pocket how can we visit London and not go SHOPPING?! Thus propelling us into the third instalment of our trip, as Oxford, Regent, and Carnaby Street opened up their great pathways before us like Dorothy venturing upon the Yellow Brick Road. We set forth on our mission.

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As we became absolute professionals at mastering the underground (Ha! Who are we kidding? I’ll settle for amateurs) We visited Piccadilly and of course prowled through all five floors of MnM world and Trafalgar Square where I visited THE biggest Waterstones I had ever been too!

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Dark clouds brew above us – A spooky looking atmosphere surrounding Trafalgar Square. And more rain, yay(!) Bringing our visit to an end!