The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Crocs with Socks

After an early night on Wednesday, we headed out again to explore Hamburg a little more, and of course an integral part of any trip to Germany is the compulsory visit to a Croc shop. Like the true fashionistas we are, we each tried them on whilst showing off our socks and surprisingly the lady in the shop was totally cool with it... You just gotta love Germans.

I also had my first Bratwurst of the trip... 

The rest of the morning consisted of arty picture taking, book shopping and ice cream. I even managed to show off my German skills by asking a man to take a picture of us all. Except I accidentally asked him to send me a picture, rather than take one. In front of his wife and three kids...

Later on Stefan, Elle and I headed out to the harbour (my fourth trip to Hamburg and the first time I've actually visited it!) to meet some of the other guys. I have to say, although I do understand why the city is famous for the harbour as it is pretty grand and vast, it wasn't all that exciting to look at for someone who isn't really interested in cargo ships. But at least I can say I've been there now! Whilst some of the guys went on a boat tour, the rest of us decided to try out another local brewery called Block Brau and begin preparing ourselves for the pub crawl later on.

After a sobering walk home and the first of a few two many McDonald's visits of the holiday, we stocked up on some cheap beer at the local Penny store to pre-drink before heading on a bar crawl of the red light district. I haven't been on many bar crawls, usually dubbing them as 'tourist traps', but seeing as none of us had any idea where to go and it was only 12 euros, we thought we'd give it a shot. It turned out to be a lot of fun, we got into five bars for free and free shots in each one, all of the bars proving pretty decent and cheap - perfect on a student budget! It was also a great way to meet other travelers as you get to chat to other guys who are on the crawl and we even met one guy who is a second year maths student at our uni! Small world eh?

We got in rather late but somehow managed to get up on time for breakfast, check out and our bus to Berlin. I like to think I timed it all pretty well, as it meant we could all catch up on sleep on the bus rather than wasting any of our time during the day (I got the skillz).

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Return to Deutschland #11

Guess what guys?!? I'm back in Germany for the 11th time!! Hamburg to be exact.

It's day two of the German Soc trip and I'm lying in bed being serenaded by a mixture of my friend Greg's snoring and various groans as people press the snooze button on their alarms. We set off incredibly early yesterday morning (4.50am meet up at the station) and somehow all 13 of us, slightly dishevelled and exhausted, managed to arrive in Hamburg by mid morning.

After checking in and chilling for a bit, we split up (to search for clues!) and began exploring. Our first stop was the St. Marien Cathedral, on a happy coincidence as it turns out we can't read maps. It was, in all honesty, was a little bit bizzare. I don't think I've ever seen an entire cathedral built out of red brick with such a modern interior of white washed walls. Aside from the orate altar it just seemed a bit underwhelming to me.

However, at the same time as being a bit weird, it was quite interesting to see a modern take on such a grand building. It definitely wasn't what we expected. Oh, and the crypt was beautiful, a sentence which I never thought I'd write! It's worth a visit just for that.

'Rejoice, that your names are forgiven in Heaven'

We eventually found our feet and headed towards the Rathaus (town hall). Let's just say, it's pretty impressive. 

Whilst we were touristing it up, a photographer approached Stefan and asked him if he could take a few shots for his fashion blog because he loved his style. Pretty cool eh? So of course, I had to get one of the whole team posing to even it out a bit...

I actually think it turned out pretty well!

Then came more wandering across the bridge to some kind of lake (I think), but it had started to get a little chilly so we made it out new mission to find a Bierkeller. Unfortunately it seems Hamburg city centre has a severe shortage of pub-like-establishments.

Eventually, just as we were about to give up, we stumbled across a place to thaw out and piled inside for our first beer of the trip.

Once back at the hostel and reunited with the other girls, we decided to have a chill one with some food and the Arsenal vs Bayern Münich game, seeing as we were all pretty beat.

Exhibit A:

I'm now sat in my semi-lifeless hostel room trying to come up with the most creative way to get these lazy arses out of bed...

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A Love Letter

My dearest Body,
No love is perfect I suppose, I’d be lying if I suggested otherwise. On a bad day, I often obsess over the imperfections of our relationship. Skinny legs, scrawny arms and boobs that are so big they have their own gravitational pull. As I get dressed I suck it in, cover up and repress my true feelings under layers of men’s clothing as the school yard chants of ‘fat slut’ dance around my consciousness. I allow myself to be consumed by the voices that claim that I’m too ugly to ever be loved by anyone, even myself, wishing- no, praying to God to just fix these insecurities, so I would no longer have to be alone or ever inflict my hideous form on anyone else.

I want to apologise for those days I have been ashamed to take you out; those days when I look at you and wish for something else. We've been through so much together, our fates purposely intertwined from birth, to walk this earth for one reason or another. We've made it our mission to love limitlessly, to care for all, even those which others deem unworthy. Yet somehow, we've lost sight of what makes our love so special, that we too, are also worthy of this unconditional love. Over the years we've allowed the media to dictate the way our relationship should be and let society pick holes in our intimacy in a way our younger selves would have found unfathomable.

When I reevaluate our flaws through childlike eyes, a much more beautiful image begins to emerge and even those aspects of you I often scrutinise aren't without their charm – combine those legs and that ass with a pencil skirt and I can’t deny you look pretty fine, not forgetting the unquestionable usefulness of your ‘assets’ when fighting for a drink at the bar. You have always been there for me, through the scars of youthful misadventures to the piercings and tattoos of exploratory adulthood, carrying all with such grace and poise as if they've always belonged. Above all, those eyes, the window that connects me to you, will ever remain unrivalled and unchanged by the years. Together, we have become women, blossomed and developed in our gorgeous imperfections, forever here to support one another. That’s where your true beauty lies.

Love always, Your Soul

This is a piece I wrote for a competition to win a Pin-Up Girl photo shoot with a company called Shameless Photography. They announce the finalists in a few days, but winning isn't really my motive behind entering; I just loved the idea of having to write a love letter to my body. This isn't due to some self-indulgent, I-want-to-make-myself-feel-good motive, but because to I wanted to see if I could actually do it.

I've recently decided to dedicate the next six months or so of my life to building my character, working on my insecurities and becoming more of the person that I was created to be. Basically, I'm going to actively pursue and embrace my singledom, so I can concentrate my efforts into becoming the kind of person I'd want to date and not only that, but also the kind of person who could really bring out the best in my significant other. Just to clarify, I'm not completely consumed by the desire to get a boy/girlfriend. Actually it's the complete opposite. I'm terrified of the thought, due to a string of failed pursuits and being messed about over the past two years by people I would consider as good friends. I've allowed myself to repeatedly end up in situations where my self-esteem is beaten down, to the point where I found it difficult to love myself, let alone let anyone else in.

Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My god, do you learn.
— C. S. Lewis

In the last few months my life and my perspective of myself have been totally changed around, and time and time again I've had to confront the 'demons' I've essentially created for myself through countless stupid decisions I've made. I can't say I regret any of them, because I've learned a lot and did, amongst all the crap, have some good experiences too. If you've been reading this blog over the past few months you'll have noticed my slight obsession with exploring identity and what makes me, me, as I feel that I managed to lose a lot of myself on what I originally thought was a journey of self discovery. How does that saying go? 'You have to lose yourself to find yourself', or something along those lines? It appears I've become a walking cliché.

If you hadn't guessed, my most recent challenge has been to love myself. I've been working on my relationship with my soul/personality/essence/whatever you want to call it for some time now, but when I saw the advert for this competition, I was reminded of how there's more to me than just the immaterial. My body, although temporary, is still a vital part to my being and my relationship to it is something that needs some serious healing. I think there's a real importance in loving the skin you're in, feeling sexy and confident that there is nothing wrong with the body that you have been blessed with. There's a huge difference between being narcissistic or vain and having a healthy relationship with your body. Pretty isn't gained by hours at the gym or self-inflicted starvation. What makes you beautiful is how comfortable you are within yourself. So dress in what makes you feel good, respect yourself and give your body the love and care it deserves. Write yourself a love letter if you fancy, because you deserve it. 

At a recent art exhibition I attended I saw a piece that explored those common human traits deemed 'flaws' by society - black heads, acne, unwanted facial hair and the like. In the description next to her work the photographer had written 'there is no body more perfect than the one you are in right now'. 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

My 500 Words - What I learned

I'd like to start off by explaining why my challenge seemed to become an extremely abrupt shambles. I absolutely LOVED doing the challenge for the first 10/11 days. I wrote above an beyond what I'd intended to write but as soon as the uni term kicked back in I found it hard to balance my workload, classes and social life and find time for writing. Which is awful, I know, because writing is one of my passions.

I'm not even going to pretend that I came close to finishing my 500 words a day for a month challenge, but that doesn't mean I didn't learn anything from the 1/3 of it I did complete. I learned I write best in the morning, with a clear head and a bowl of Coco Pops. I also write best when I write about real events, people I know and topics I feel passionate about. My Ordinary Incredible series is just the part of what I wrote that I decided share on here. Above all I learned that it is important to make time to really consider all the things that those who you love have done for you. Through writing in depth about those people who have really inspired my life, my eyes were opened to all the things I often take for granted in those I care about.

I've decided, because of this, to use my Ordinary Incredibles series as one that is ongoing throughout the year, which I'll add to whenever it takes my fancy. My aim is to eventually turn this series into a publishable book, so I can share the stories of these amazing people with the world.

Although I won't continue (begin again...) writing 500 words everyday, the challenge has taught me a lot and I'm glad I gave it a half decent attempt, as it has aided my non-travel-writing side in thinking creatively about other real life events that I can write about. My writing schedule will continue as before (once a week ish) but with renewed excitement and diversity as I have discovered more about the skills I possess.

Oh and one final thing, in just over two weeks time I'll be travelling to Edinburgh for my sister's hen do and a few days after that I'll be jetting off to Hamburg and Berlin with some uni friends! Yay for those who want to read about travelling. But before that I'll be writing about a trip I took a few weeks ago in London with two friends of mine... Here's a clue: