One week till New York!

One week till New York!

I cannot believe that this time next week I shall be on my way to New York, hell yeah!  Just over three years ago (wow, I feel old writing this) for my 18th birthday I was given the trip of a lifetime to stay with my Auntie in Chicago. Whilst there, we had a little vacation to New York to see some family and friends, and I absolutely loved it. The only negative part about the trip to NYC was the weather. We travelled there during the peak of a heat wave, and it was just way too hot to do much. So, this time round, my Mum was adamant that we went during a ‘cool’ time of year, and October seemed perfect! I cannot wait to go there! I really do love America, and perhaps could see myself living there for a year or two in the future.

I’m not too sure what we’re going to get up to, although I do know that a must is a visit to the Morgan Library and Museum to see the Crusader Bible exhibition (see here). How typical that I can still manage to fit some medieval orientated things to see and do! I studied the Crusader Bible last year in my ‘Death and Devotion’ module, and thought it was beautiful, so I cannot wait to see the real thing in person. I’ll definitely be blogging whilst I am there, and before going about the potential things that we will get up to. If you have ideas, or know of anything cool taking place in New York in late October, leave a comment below!

Also, I found some photographs that I took last time I was in New York from the top of the Empire State building, aren’t the views amazing!

A picture I took from the top of the Empire State Building
A picture I took from the top of the Empire State Building
A view of below from the Empire State Building
A view of below from the Empire State Building
A glimpse of Central Park
A glimpse of Central Park

A guide for the weekend

To all, I am so sorry for the belatedness (is that such a word?) of this post. This week has been so busy. Now that I am properly in the whole ‘Au Pair schedule’ with the family and school, I’m finding it hard to find the time to just have a few minutes to sit and write to my heart’s content. Luckily, I have managed to snag a few minutes from the day to write this post. This weekend saw the visit of my boyfriend Malek to Paris! It was so nice to see him, as we’ve been apart for over a month now. For those who don’t know, Malek is also an au pair but in Madrid! – he copied me, I swear!

Having arrived extremely late on the Friday night, the weekend began slowly, and after a breakfast/brunch on Saturday we headed to the Sainte-Chapelle. Yes, I know how much I go on about this chapel, but Malek’s never been there and he did take the time to read (definitely not forced at all…) to read my dissertation on many occasions, and so I thought it would be nice to take him there so he could see at first hand what I am so passionate about! For the first time in my experience, there was a pretty long queue, but the wait was well worth it. Oh, how I have missed you ma belle Sainte-Chapelle! I cannot believe how much has happened since I last visited in February to standing in there this weekend. So surreal. Sadly a large part of the north wall and western rose window were being conserved so that was all closed off, nevertheless one was able to have a beautiful view of the stained glass.

Malek in the Sainte-Chapelle
Malek in the Sainte-Chapelle

We also spent a bit of time just wandering around the Seine and taking in the sights. It was such a beautiful day, it seemed silly not to spend as much time outside as we could! We spent some time walking around the Jardin des Tuileries, which was especially pretty on this autumn day.

Malek enjoying the sun and Seine.
Malek enjoying the sun and Seine.

IMG_5935_Fotor

The pretty colours of autumn in the Jardin des Tuileries.
The pretty colours of autumn in the Jardin des Tuileries.

 

Jardin des Tuileries.
Jardin des Tuileries.

 

We also ventured toward Monmatre, because I wanted to show Malek the amazing views from the Sacre-Coeur. For those who don’t know, Montmartre is in the 18th arr. of Paris, and its pretty much all on a hill. This meant that, bien sûr we had to stop and have a coffee on the way up! We explored some of the many roads of Montmartre, and found some really cool places that we have to go back to again at some point. There were a few piano bars, which is amazing! What could be better than a cocktail and live piano? Not much. Once we managed to make our way through the hordes of tourists, we got to see the beautifully anticipated views of little ol’ Paris.

 

The beautiful walls of Concorde Metro
The beautiful walls of Concorde Metro

 

Concorde mosaics up close
Concorde mosaics up close

 

Some tranquil music whilst walking around
Some tranquil music whilst walking around

 

A beautiful street of Montmartre
A beautiful street of Montmartre

 

Crowds of people sitting in front of the Sacre-Coeur taking in the amazing views!
Crowds of people sitting in front of the Sacre-Coeur taking in the amazing views!

 

On Sunday we headed towards the south of Paris, and went up Tour Montparnasse. I had never heard of the tower until I read a blog post by Lost in Cheeseland. Tour Montparnasse is a bit of an anomaly on the Parisian skyline, as it seems to be one of the biggest buildings around. However, the fee is pretty cheap – for us is was just around €11 to go up. There you experience an observation deck (which you get to be elevator thank goodness! Montparnasse Tower claims to have the quickest elevator in Europe) and then climb a few floors to get to the terrace floor which is where you can see some more spectacular views of Paris. I would recommend going just before sunset, so you still get to see the city during the last few minutes of daylight, and see the sun setting – how romantic!

 

Malek taking a photograph whilst trying not to drop his camera from the great hight!
Malek taking a photograph whilst trying not to drop his camera from the great hight!
v
A handy guide to help you make the most of your visit and the skyline.

 

IMG_6035

Tour Eiffel
Tour Eiffel

 

IMG_5995

Jardin du Luxembourg
Jardin du Luxembourg

 

IMG_6008

IMG_6006

 

To end our lovely weekend and Malek’s time here in Paris, we decided to pay the Eiffel Tower a visit at night time, and boy did she do her best! It was lovely to see the tower all light up and sparkling (something Malek thought I was making up!). We had a cheeky bottle of Champagne, but I must admit that we couldn’t finish it, because me being me decided that we should have the cheapest €6 Brut Champagne, and so it was of course un-drinkable. Next time I think we should splash out for at least a bottle costing €10! I had an amazing time having Malek here with me, and it was so much fun being the tour guide and showing him the places that I like to go to and see etc. In November I shall be going over to Madrid where Malek is currently working – the guide becomes a tourist!

A cool beam of light from the Eiffel Tower
A cool beam of light from the Eiffel Tower

 

IMG_6054

IMG_6060
IMG_6076
IMG_6085
IMG_6086

The end of an old chapter, the start of a new one

I often start the beginning of a blog post saying something on the lines of ‘wow, I can’t believe I’m writing this’ etc. But when writing this blog post, I have to repeat myself. I cannot believe that the time has come for me to pack and move to Paris. It seems so long ago that I had found the family and skyped them for an interview. Yet here I am.

It’s finally hit me. I’m moving to Paris for a year. Although the road has been smooth sailing so far, one thing that has had a slight effect on me is packing. Many people enjoy packing, and don’t get me wrong, I also do on the odd occasion. But when you’re trying to cram everything that you think you’ll need for the year in one luggage case it can get quite tough! But woe is me. How bad does that last sentence sound?! It feels a bit like getting ready for my first year at University again. Except for all the Supermarket value alcohol. That was a bad idea – any undergraduates or just people in general, Supermarket value alcohol is never the way to. Save your self the embarrassment and other things that come with drinking, and spend an extra couple of pounds to get some decent drinks. Luckily for me I don’t really drink anymore, so that is not an issue for me. But, yes. I have that weird mixture of nerves and excitement at the pit of my stomach. I guess the one thing I’m worried about is the first week or two. Once I get used to my new environment and scheduling of the week, it should hopefully all go pretty smoothly from there on.

I completed an online French test yesterday as part of my enrolment for Language school. Lets say confidently that I managed to answer around 10 out of 50… With that dismal attempt aside, I’m really looking forward to learning a new language the proper way – by immersing myself into the country and it’s culture. I cannot wait to meet other Au Pairs, and make new friends whilst in Paris. I hope that during my time there I will be able to join a Tennis club and continue playing, and maybe even join Yoga classes too.

This last year has had its ups and its downs. Not many people know, but I was unwell during Autumn and beginning of Spring term. Luckily, I had a support from a great network of family and friends, and also within the History of Art department. My tutors this year have been amazing. The support and help that I have received from them is next to none, and I honestly don’t know if I could have managed without their encouragement. Despite this ‘bump in the road’ so to speak, I had a great third year. Even though it was a testing time, in enabled me to truly see who was there for me, and sadly, those who were not. Which I guess has its blessings as you can really comprehend those who you can trust and rely on.

Academia wise, third year was definitely a year in which I felt myself flourish. I studied topics that I adore, and would love to study again. This year also confirmed my desire to continue further study from a Masters to PhD level. So keep watching this space! I’ll be sure to update everyone on my progress with applying to Masters etc. This may sound weird, but since finishing my Dissertation and finishing University, I do miss the research and reading. So, I guess that’s a good sign and indication that this is what I should be continuing to do in my life and future.

This summer has definitely been the best by far! I don’t think I have mentioned it on my blog, but I worked as a Court Attendant at this years Wimbledon Championships and has the most amazing time ever! It is safe to say that I had the best two weeks, and hopefully will return again next year to do the same. Not to boast, but, I not only got to meet some of the best players in the world (including Federer, Nadal and Lisicki) but got a half side hug from Djokovic! I was also blessed to be given the opportunity to work on centre court during the Women’s Semi-Finals.

After all the excitement and hard work of Wimbledon, Graduation followed. Graduation was definitely a significant moment in my life, as I am sure it was for others. It really felt like the perfect way to celebrate the fact that I had managed to persevere the ups and downs of the year and achieve the best that I could.

Basically, this has been an awesome year and summer, and even though it all hasn’t been smooth sailing I wouldn’t change any of it. I believe that things happen, not necessarily for a reason, but when they do, you really do learn from them whether good or bad. I feel as if this is the closing of that chapter, and tomorrow begins the beginning of a new one! Ahhhhhh!!

Amsterdam – 2014

My wonderful boyfriend has written up this amazing account of our little weekend adventure to Amsterdam. It is well worth a read, especially to people thinking about going! x

Mal of the World

Few European cities are steeped in contrast and contradiction to the same extent as the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. The romance and culture surrounding its many canals, cobbled streets and museums, combined with a liberal attitude toward drugs and prostitution, make it a memorable destination – whatever your intentions.

A typical street in Amsterdam A typical street in Amsterdam

Having booked an apartment through AirB&B, my girlfriend and I arrived on a late flight from London and navigated our way to our accommodation with surprising ease. Being from London, you expect the public transport in a major European capital to be both uncomfortable and unreliable, but apparently that’s just a London thing. A quick train, followed by a free ferry across to the north island, and we were there.

Our beautiful apartment Our beautiful apartment

Our first day began with a walk into the centre of Amsterdam. With just the weekend at our disposal, and so many possible things…

View original post 858 more words

‘And so this is Christmas’

 

I cannot believe that term has finished and I am back in the comforts of family home living. This term has been hectic, but in a good way. My ‘Death and Devotion’ module has been beyond awesome – I have been completely inspired and wish I could just keep learning! My Tutor Emily has been very inspiring. I have always been interested in the Medieval period, and was always intending to hopefully continue my studies within this period, and this course has just confirmed it. From studying France and England, to Spain, Bohemia and Italy – I feel that I have traveled as a pilgrim so to speak throughout my reading and learning.

Even though I’ve really enjoyed the module and all the reading, it is nice to have a break and put my feet up! This holiday will see me relaxing, catching up on readings not completed and getting all my material and revision ready for my open book exam in the beginning of January (a topic I shall not discuss any further – I can feel the anxiety and nervousness at the pit of stomach brewing every time someone mentions the dreaded ‘E’ word.)

Anyway, I just wanted to wish all my readers a pleasant and festive holiday break. Have a wonderful Christmas, and I will no doubt be blogging about this and that during my time off. Here’s a wonderful Michael Buble classic to sit back, relax and listen to (just what am I doing whilst writing this!). Below are a few pictures of what I have been up to recently!

IMG_20131207_150448

Christmas shoppers in York.
Christmas shoppers in York.

 

Merchant Adventurers' Hall, York.
Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, York.

 

Inside the pop-up shops within Merchant Adventurers' Hall.
Inside the pop-up shops within Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.

 

The Shambles at night.
The Shambles at night.

 

Me and my Mum went to Winter Arts Market at St George's Hall in Liverpool this Sunday. Some of the cutest handmade gifts and vintage clothing.
Me and my Mum went to Winter Arts Market at St George’s Hall in Liverpool this Sunday. Some of the cutest handmade gifts and vintage clothing.

 

Christmas Tree at St George's Hall, Liverpool.
Christmas Tree at St George’s Hall, Liverpool.