On top of Barcelona

One of the reasons I love Barcelona is its impeccable location – nestled snugly between the sea and mountains, we’re quite spoiled for choice when it  comes to choosing what we want to do on the weekends. Fancy a day with your book on the sand? Not a problem. Fancy a day hiking or biking in the mountains? We’ve got you covered.

Bunkers del Carmel Barcelona

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The perfect capsule wardrobe for a UK holiday (in autumn!)

I’m a big fan of packing, in all its forms. Whether it’s packing up a house to move (I’m so used to this, with 6 moves in 6 years), packing up the car for a long journey, or packing for a holiday, I’m all over it. Think of the lists that come with this process! You’ve got ‘to take’ lists, ‘to buy’ lists…it’s organisation central and I bladdy love it. There’s just something so cosy and comforting about gathering what you’ll need for some nights away from home and sticking them in a bag, off you go.

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I adore Croatia

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I last posted. Some of you might have seen on Twitter that I’ve been having some problems with my computer/browsers/Wordpress (I’m still none the wiser at the time of writing!) so I haven’t been able to draft posts or upload pictures, or do much at all really. Which is really frustrating when you plan a day of writing and scheduling posts…anyway…

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A second chance at Barcelona?

Hiya everyone!

It’s been a weird old week. I have been really under the weather and so haven’t been to work, which actually sucks more than I thought. Being off work is just no good when all your days run into a constant stream of headaches and lethargy 😦

However, an email I received from Cleo from Think Money Group has helped perked me up a bit! Cleo asked if I’d like to be part of a campaign being run by Ocean Finance called ‘Second Time Lucky’. The campaign is all about people writing about their dream experiences, about what they’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance for whatever reason. If chosen, that person can receive some help to have their (second) chance to achieve their dream!

Some of the entries I’ve read already are just so lovely. From getting married, finally going on that honeymoon, visiting family all over the world – there are some truly heartwarming entries. And here’s the good news; you can nominate yourself or someone else for a chance to win a second chance dream experience over here – www.oceanfinance.co.uk/secondchance

My Second Chance

So here’s what my ‘second chance’ would look like…

What immediately sprung to mind after reading the entries, was a travelling trip I took shortly after finishing university a few years ago.

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I had been planning this trip for a long time, and saving for it even longer. I always wanted to go on some travels once I’d finished university – well, who doesn’t really? After those loooong years of study and stress and all things academic and planning for being an actual-real-life-adult, it only seemed right to want to go exploring for a few weeks on my own before I came back down to jobless reality with a hard thunk.

I had saved hard, worked several jobs, and I also had some money that my grandparents had put away when I was born. They had both passed away before I got to university, and they were both by far the people most excited for me to go to university. I figured I could keep saving the money, or spend it on something…but I knew that I had it earmarked for flights instead.

During all of this, by the end of university I had broken up with my boyfriend of 3 years. We’d been together through the entirety of university, and so I was devastated when we broke up. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had lost everything I knew and was working towards. My trip was now more important than ever. It became my chance to recuperate, rescue myself a bit, and cry into cocktails and the arms of fellow travellers without any judgement…okay, a little judgement.

So, here’s how my itinerary looked: 3 weeks away, covering Amsterdam, Milan, Florence, Barcelona and Valencia. How exciting does that line-up look?!

Everything was set and before I knew it the day had come. I stayed with my friend George the night before so he could take me to the airport.

Bam! I was in Amsterdam. Amazing. Bam! I was in Milan. With a hint of a chesty cough, but nothing too concerning. Loads of mosquito bites though. Wait, they weren’t mosquito bites. They were BEDBUG BITES. My hostel had bedbugs, and they absolutely ravished my body. See below for the evidence of my poor pasty legs and back (always research your hostel as much as you can…I did, but still got bitten (pun intended).

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I got anti-histamine creams but the sores weren’t going away, and the medication was expensive too. This wasn’t in my daily budget (and couldn’t be dealt with by my own extensive first aid kit). My legs were sore, and seeping, and I couldn’t sleep at all.

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Boboli Gardens in Florence

 

Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Ponte Vecchio in Florence

It was time for me to travel to Florence. Once there, I discovered it was hotter than any place I’d ever been. It was searing hot. My cough turned into a chest infection. Despite feeling as rough as I’d ever felt, I still tried to explore the beautiful city – but I was limited. I travelled to Barcelona via plane. By the time I got there, and got lost on my own at 1 o’ clock in the morning, my chest felt like I’d been smoking 50 a day all my life, it was so tight. I couldn’t walk without intense pain. Plus, the bedbugs I had in Milan had travelled with me in my luggage so I was getting bitten over and over again. Bloody stowaways.

The next morning, I rang my mam in tears. She told me to come home. I felt like I couldn’t go any further, but I felt like I’d be failing if I quit at that point. I had something to prove to myself, I had to prove that I could handle the tough times, be on my own, be my own person. Strong independent woman, don’t need no boys etc…But I knew I had been only half-experiencing the trip since Milan. I had to get on the next plane home, completely devastated.

Being in a foreign country, alone, really ill, and in a room full of different strangers every night was turning out to be no fun at all. Who’da thunk it?

It was such a disappointment not to finish, after all the time spent planning, listing where I was going to go, and all the money I’d saved eventually being spent on the return flight home! I guess going back really would be a second chance at Barcelona…

Barcelona!

Barcelona!

I have always wanted to finish that trip. I’m in a much better place 3 years on – I’m now with the person I know I’m meant to be with, and life is pretty peachy. But, if I got a second chance I’d want to go back to Barcelona and finish the trip that I had planned and started. I’d take my mam too, as it’s her 60th birthday in a few months time.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully I’ve inspired you to plan a trip away and enter the competition! Despite it being cut short, it was an eye-opening trip.

Let me know what your second chance experience would be in the comments below – and do enter the competition!

R xo Continue reading

THAT Notting Hill door, and a hella lot of Camden

Hey everyone!

Firstly, can I say a giant thank-you to you all. In the month that ChapterAndCircle has been live, I’ve received almost 1000 views and 300 visitors. That.Is.Amazing. I never thought that this would reach so far in its first month! If you are a returning visitor, thank you so much for sticking with me, and I hope you’ll stay around.

Don’t forget I am also on Twitter – @rhidddles and Instagram @rhiddles.

I’m trying to find time to write posts other than my weekly roundups (I have such a backlog of ideas!) but time is an issue at the moment with only a few more weeks to go until we move, plus we seem to be busy every weekend. But I promise that my posts will be a bit more varied in future – just bare with me 🙂

Hope you’ve all had as lovely a weekend as I’ve had. I spent this weekend in London with one of my best friends, George, who I haven’t seen in ages, so it was so nice to escape York and catch-up and be bewildered by London…

london camden collage

So, I took the Megabus down to London last Friday 13th. Ominous enough to begin with. Obviously the bus was late. And cramped. And pongy. Plus, I managed to have a water bottle leak all over my crotch. Yummmmaaay. We got off at East Midlands Parkway which is the most grim and desolate train station I have ever been to. There, the girl who had sat in front of me on the bus chewing with her mouth widely open for all to see and hear, sat legs akimbo on her luggage, peeling an orange with her teeth and spitting the peel on the floor. As if she hadn’t eaten in months. So bloody bizarre. I couldn’t stop looking at her.

I was glad to then get on the train straight to Pancras where George met me. The only thing we had properly planned was to go for a curry on Friday night in central London which was SO nice and excellently priced. And also pretty amusing.

naan

From there we went on to Camden, where much wine, weird cocktails and beer was consumed in a place called Proud. But not before we had to essentially prove our existence to get into Wetherspoons – we got ID’d about a million times before we could get in. Living. The. Dream.

Saturday morning, I could’ve done without. Feeling a bit worse for wear, I managed to pull myself together so we could make the most of the day. We headed to Portobello Market and Notting Hill which was an EXPERIENCE. So many people.

portobello market

I was too hungover to get annoyed though, so we just became the dawdlers ourselves. I was clinging onto my pint of milk for dear life (I made us find a shop where I could purchase some cow-y goodness, as it is my go-to hangover cure. Pretty sure I looked so very classy). I could’ve spent hundreds there, but I was very restrained and limited myself to a few books and a tote bag. AND THEN WE FOUND THE NOTTING HILL HOUSE. So much excitement over a door.

notting hill door

Then we headed to Borough Market near Southbank with ALL THE FOOD YOU COULD EVER WANT. By this point I was the hungriest I’d ever been – but we decided to go to The George Inn (cause George is very egotistical) for lunch instead. Fascinating place. It was mentioned in Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit and is the quaintest little place. I didn’t think anywhere could out-do York in terms of quaint old pubs, especially London, but this place really is special. The food is very reasonably priced (£10 for a burger) and really delicious. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for somewhere a bit different and off the beaten track of chain after chain in London (it’s near London Bridge station and tucked away).

george inn london

After some tasty desserts from the market, we tried to get some cheap theatre tickets to no avail! So, after a quick detour to George’s flat, we then rushed out to get to the Camden Head pub for their Comedy Night which was bloody brilliant. George and I had to sit in the front row – so we got a pasting – which I found hilarious. George, nahhhhhht so much. It’s a really intimate setting with really welcoming hosts. They had 5 acts on, all of which were very different to the next, and I really liked that they’d made the effort to show such varied acts. If I lived in London, it would definitely become a regular Saturday night thing for me, and I’ll 100% be going back there whenever I can.

camden comedy club

Due to the impact Friday night had on us/me, we decided to call it a night and go home, refreshed for Sunday. Where did we go on Sunday? Yep, we went to Camden again to check out the market before I had to get my train back. What a bloody lovely weekend I had. George was the perfect host/hangover-restoration man and I will be going back SOON.

What have you lovely lot been up to?

R xo