Playing in Spain | Day 2

I realise now, the evening before I come back to England that I still have nine days of spanish adventures to write up. Oops. Now when I get back to Britain (which has been rainy and miserable recently) I’ll be missing it all, wishing that I never left. So, here is day two:

We started early in the morning, as the plan for the day was to walk around the entire city and find our bearings, even though one of the group had lived in Spain for a year and knew the area well. Still, it got us to look around. I woke up at half past six, which equates to five thirty in England. I’m not one to wake up before eleven without a mocha so to wake up at that time, without even a coffee bean in sight so when I was showered, dressed and ready to go by half past seven everyone was a bit surprised. Everyone else was ready by around nine and then we were off. 

We took the metro down to the city centre because it was easier than walking through all the streets that are mainly housing and not much else. When we got to the city centre it was already boiling hot, around twenty eight degrees celsius, which for a Brit is extreme. We started walking around looking at all these pretty squares. There was one that was so fancy, with an art deco type cinema on one side, that I felt like I had become a glitzy star.

Off the side of this square was a bunch of shops, one of which was a bikini shop which I went in and bought a new bikini, because we were going to a water park the next day and the one I had wasn’t suitable for it (how can you trust two triangles strapped to your chest with string as you’re whizzing down a huge slide?). There was also a “bubble tea” place, which was more iced drinks, smoothies and milkshakes than tea. I got an oreo milkshake with strawberry bubbles, though the choice was difficult. Ed got a melon one which was really refreshing, especially in the heat. We kept walking with these drinks until we came to a square which was part of the old town, though I’m not sure how old, which was where a cathedral and the bishops house was. It was beautiful. 

The Cathedral is supposedly the true place of the real holy grail and a lot of historians back this up. This felt like a big deal so we decided to have a look. There you could pay five euros to look around the church, or two euros to climb the tower (with 207 steps) and still have to walk through the church. So we decided to climb the tower.

Up we went.

Climbing was quite easy, if not slightly dizzying as you spiralled around a narrow staircase with only a thin handrail to keep you steady. The people coming back down had it harder though, having to manage the narrowest part of the spiral stairs in ridiculous flip flops and sandals. I was wearing Birkenstocks. As we got to a particularly narrow part of the climb, where I was watching people practically fall down, that I got a bit worried about the descent. However I first had to get to the top. Not easy when you don’t like being in tight spaces and struggling for breath. Just for a view.

But the view was spectacular, stretching all the way across the city, old and new, from one end to the other. You could see the sea on the horizon. 

“Valencia is much bigger than I thought it was” I said, awesturck. But I suppose you’d get that impresion if so far you’d only seen the beach and the old town. We talked history, I tried not to look down too much, or up, as the remided me of the 207 narrow and steeps steps I would have to descend in minutes. I panicked. 

I don’t want to talk about it. 

But going down wasn’t so bad. Probably because the people saw how terrified I looked and let me stick to the hand rail, probably because I refused to move away from the hand-rail. And we were down, on the ground. Finally. 

After that we hand lunch, at the same square, the tower laughing at me in the distance. I was now hot and tired and wanted to go home. But I ate some ham and cheese and watched the people moving about the plaza, The policemen patrolling the streets, the buskers and beggars all asking for our attention. It was nice. If only home had squares like this. They did attempt it back home, pedestrianised some of the market place, but it is mostly empty and a car park ruins the ambience. 

We walked more. I bought a bag for the beach, since my diddy one that I had right now would not fit anything more than my purse and the bare essentials. Then we walked even more. To one of the towers, passing a little place with orange trees, more old buildings, and then we reached one of the gigantic gates that marked where the wall used to stand. We had a look on the outside. We were going to go in, but by the time we had got there I was tired, struggling to stay awake even, I was hot and sticky and my fan wasn’t helping much, dehydrated (even with five lemon fantas in my system) and ill, which was presumably from the heat. Instead I went home with Ed, and had a nap. 

When I awoke, feeling refreshed and happier (England needs siestas) we got ready to head down to the beach for a little while. We paddled in the mediterranean, though it wasn’t much fun, the sea was incredibly salty that it hurt your eyes if it splashed you, and the waves were so powerful I was sure that if I lost control I’d be washed out with the tide. 

I can’t remember much else of the day, either because it wasn’t eventful enough or something, but we had pizzas for dinner inside our rented flat and then went to bed almost straight after because it was such a shattering day. The little futon now impossibly comfortable, even for six foot Ed whose feet dangled off the end. 

(I’ll add pictures later, but right now I can’t access OneDrive and I want to go to sleep)

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Summer Songs #1 | Woodland (The Paper Kites)

When the sun is shining in the summer like it is right now there’s noting I like to do more than listen to really good music that makes me happy. I decided to share with you some of these songs.

The first one I chose is ‘Woodland’ by The Paper Kites from their 2011 EP of the same name. It’s a song set in Autumn, but the up-beat folsky sound is perfect for Summer, evoking feelings of festivals, fun and forests. I love it.

The chorus is unbelievably upbeat chanting the words:
“Won’t lay down our heads till the day is won
Won’t stop running till we reach the sun
Chasing all the things that are keeping us young
We won’t stop running till we reach the sun” which always makes me think of skipping around in woods and fields like I always dream of doing in the summer.

Have a listen. I hope you enjoy it!

House of Humiliation

I just got back from viewing a house as a prospect for not being homeless during my second year at university. It’s a wonderful house, with lots of light, lots of space and is very clean. It is in the same area as I currently reside, just one street away, so I know the place and feel secure. They house even has a garden with strawberries my favourite fruit! Can I say I love it before I even know if it’s mine. 

I got to the house at 4:30 on the dot, racked with nerves. I had no idea who it was I was going to be greeted by, could have been a serial killer for all I knew, and knocked on the door. First I knocked using the knocker that was down by the letter-box, but then I saw that there was a doorbell. Did they hear the knocker? Should I ring the doorbell ten seconds later? 

I rang the doorbell. 

There was footsteps. 

Oh my goodness! I thought I’m scared. And I tried to shake away the deer-in-the-headlights look. They’re ECOLOGY students, they’re not going to be serial killers! And then the door opened. There stood a woman, who was very pretty and I went blank. How am I meant to act!?

“Hello!” she said, very cheery with a mega-watt smile. 

“Hello!” I cheered back, and stumbled through the door. It was just as I tripped that I realised I really should have introduced myself first before trying to get into the house. Luckily I’m not a vampire (though my nocturnal-ism could say otherwise) so I didn’t burst into flames as I stepped beyond the threshold, but now I looked like a fool. looked like the serial killer. She asked if I was Sophie, and I said yes and shook her hand. And then she showed me around. 

I think I liked the house the second I turned down the street, it sort of reminded me of streets I can find back home in Norfolk with terraces made of old brick. The second I saw the hallway I loved it even more because it was HUGE and airy. 

My mind screamed “I’ll take the house now!” But of course it would be stupid when you haven’t seen the room. 

The woman showed me to the lounge and it was cosy, the sofas were small and TV was…minimalist, but I don’t watch much TV anyway so I wasn’t that bothered. Then she showed me the room, and it felt homely. The place I’m living in right now constantly feels like a hotel more than anything. There was lots of storage space and lots of space in general. Not as much space as my current room, but none of it was unnecessary. 

“The only thing that wasn’t here before is the bedside table, so you’ll need to buy one if you want one.” I don’t need a bedside table, I don’t think I’ve ever actually used a bedside table. There was a hand drawn picture of a zebra on the wall. 

And then I was shown the kitchen, which was lovely, with light pouring in from all the windows and doors that led to the garden with the strawberries. I savoured the thought of having such a large kitchen between five people and not twelve and not having all the flatmates use my stuff and not wash it, or lose it. CAN I MOVE IN NOW!? 

She took me upstairs to show me the bathroom and I had to stop myself from going into all the bedrooms and satisfying my nosey curiosity. It’s hard to resist a good snoop, even the people on Come Dine With Me can’t manage it. 

And then it was the garden and I looked for the strawberries and found the strawberries and there wasn’t a spider in sight. Hooray! I was told that everyone took shares in the gardening. That’s all right, I can dig. I am an archaeologist and my trowel will come in handy. I was led back into the house and we talked about the costs. The most it’s ever came to is about £20 for the person I was talking to, but she hadn’t been here long and said it might be more in winter. I figured it was fine, step-dad can help a little bit, right? She asked about my interests. 

And then I heard more footsteps and I was faced with another person, fresh from the shower but thankfully wearing clothes and I tried not to sound nervous in front of these people which was easy, because I can act and all I had to do was smile. The girl talked about how most of her classes are in the agriculture building for a little bit. 

“I had a lecture in the agriculture building on my first week, I got lost and called my friend saying ‘help me, where is it?’ and she told me to take a turn at the bridge, but there were four turns and I didn’t know what to take, so I went down them all and was forty minutes late when I decided to give up.” I narrated to her, thinking it would be a good story, but like a lot of my stories that I think are going to be funny, and trailed off when I realised it wasn’t. As lovely as the woman is a part of me said ‘thank goodness I’m not living with her, i’m making such a fool of myself!’ 

I was asked if I had any questions and I drew a blank. Was I supposed to ask questions. I feel like I should, like I do when they say that phrase in classes and lectures, there’s a pressure to come up with something great. But for some reason I didn’t think “how often do spiders come into the room” seemed like a ridiculous thing to ask, so I left it and shook my head. 

I was seen out of the door and wasn’t quite sure how to say goodbye. If I am interested in the room I need to e-mail, but I’m acting like it’s just been a date and I need to play it cool, hard to get, and am stopping myself from saying “LET ME LIVE HERE I’M DESPERATE!” at least until tomorrow. If I want it I’d have to come back and meet the other people. Oh dear. I do not do well with talking. But maybe, hopefully, I can prepare myself to be less humiliating to myself and not stumble through the doorway again. 

Deep breaths.

Everything Needs to be Practically Perfect (in every way)

Today I got back from my food shopping and found a piece of paper wedged through my door from my land-lady about how we needed to clean the room before we leave for the summer. Five minutes later there was another one pushed through the gap, which was odd as they could have just knocked, and told me more about cleaning. It’s a rather long list, that seems like a lot of demands to make to someone who didn’t even know how to clean a shower until a month ago, but I will have to do it. They did note that they could recommend cleaning services at a decent price (though even Mary Poppins could only do a decent job in some of the rooms) but knowing me I’d be too scared that they would judge me and I’d end up cleaning it anyway, so I will have to just whip out the rubber gloves.

1. vacuum carpets and wipe down windows and mirrors.

I don’t know why they put them both as one item on the list when they are clearly different tasks, but the point is it’s easy enough although when I wipe mirrors I always end up with these weird streaky marks where the cloth had been and I don’t know how to get rid of them

2. dust, polish and remove cobwebs throughout

I don’t like the sound of this. Where there webs there are usually spiders and I freak out about those, also a while back mum dusted in the kitchen and found spiders nesting behind a photo frame and the thought of it traumatised me. I do not want to dust the photo frames in my room.

3.wash down all paintwork and skirting boards. Remove finger and furniture marks off walls. 

Thank goodness the big blue mark mum left on my wall is gone and there are only a few marks left. I do, however, have a bigger problem at hand. Near my desk is a mysterious huge dent and I don’t know what to do about it. I’m not sure they’d notice if I plastered and painted the walls but it’s a risk I do not want to take.

4. clean kitchen cupboards, walls and floors. Remove all contents

I find this an odd request to make to us as individuals as we have cleaners that come in to clean the kitchen floors and walls for us. If they cleaned it and each of us in the flat then the kitchen would be cleaned thirteen times and the chemicals would probably turn it into a radioactive zone. Removing the content is also iffy. I know they mean the cupboards but if there was a Neanderthal amongst us they might think we had to remove all the chairs and tables too and we’d be charged to replace them. However, the road signs in the room do need to leave or we’d be charged for having them there.

5. clean fridge and freezer and remove all food.

Finally! I have a justified reason to bin someone’s food when they put it in my freezer space and let it go iffy. I do hope no one has put ketchup in my fridge or it will never be cleaned away.

6. de-scale and clean sink, showers and screen, toilets, tiles & grout in your en-suit. 

Apart from the fact that our bedrooms have en-suites and I don’t really know what an en-suit is this sounds easy enough. I have learned how to clean the shower though to loo remains a bit of a mystery as the labels on it make it very vague what sort of products i’m allowed to use on it.

7. remove all rubbish from your room and communal areas. leave as is when you moved in. 

I have no qualms with this. However I refuse to tidy the communal living room as I have not even sat in it since November when it got taken over by the lads in the flat and I will not be held responsible for all the trash they leave in it. I hope it is them that cleans it up, and removes the signs as they are the ones who put them there.

8. collect anything that may be in laundry room

I think this may have been put there for anyone who may have forgotten that one exists since freshers week and is to let them know they may have some socks lying about. When I went in there the other day to wash some clothes and bedsheets there was a whole pile of stuff in the corner that had been neglected over the months.

We’ve then got to arrange an inspection of the room and flat which is probably going to be more ruthless than previous where last time they only looked at the shower and wall and left, and I didn’t have my room seen last time there was one. This time they need t look for damages and areas that need fixing, which means they’re probably going to be really fussy to get money from us. I really hope they don’t see the dent in the wall…what if I just stood there and covered it up like Satine does with Christian in the Moulin Rouge.

Morning Glory

Like almost every other blogger on WordPress I consider myself as I writer. I don’t have anything published (I’m pretty sure a poem I wrote about a cat when I was nine doesn’t count) but I write, therefore I am a writer. Often I would start a story, and think it was amazing, before I had another idea and moved onto the next one. I started a project about a year ago, when I was inspired by Margaret Atwood and by Youth Theatre sessions that I took on the weekend. It was that story that I submitted to a writing competition around the end of December 2013. And then I left it alone, and hadn’t written anything new for months. Until now. 

I guess I was using university to take myself away from my second of three passions. The other is acting. I had already taken myself out of acting as I didn’t like the society at university. Then it clicked. I wasn’t going to give up on writing, and particularly not this story which I had been obsessing with since I started, collecting books, and articles to help me, creating maps and characters and their stories. So this week I started to write it again, from scratch, so that I could do the best job I could. 

The problem is I’m obsessing over it again. Why did I stop writing it?! In some senses I had never forgotten about it, there was a niggling in my mind that told me to keep going, but I didn’t act upon it. Perhaps I wanted to start again when I had a fresh mind, or perhaps I was just lazy. But then I spent the past couple of days reading Divergent and my story sprung back to life at the mention of double yellow lines. So here we are. I’m not complaining. I LOVE writing. But today I have a Latin exam, and I couldn’t get to sleep anyway, having thrashed around bed for two hours. But the thing is inspiration struck just as I was about to sleep, for a scene.

It would be perfect for character development my brain called to me, as it was a problem I had. So I noted the idea quickly on my phone, writing a quick paragraph or two. But now I had it in my head, and it wasn’t going anywhere. It was all I could think about. So I spent another hour thrashing around bed, trying to stop thinking so that I could get some shut eye before my exam, but this thing was screaming to be written. So I gave up on sleep at six o clock in the morning, at least coffee is a thing, and took my laptop and have now written it out into something proper. What was a quick paragraph of about seven sentences of dialogue has quickly turned into two-thousand words and an hour of writing as I listened to movie soundtracks. I’m happy to be writing again. I’m not just an archaeologist. But couldn’t my subconscious mind decide to do it at a different time? 

Daily Post | Modern Families

If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking? The Daily Post

This is a hard one to write, not because I don’t know what could be found shocking to one of my late ancestors, but if they actually will. You see I know nobody on my fathers side (and don’t even know my father). I suppose a late ancestor would find that quite shocking as family principles used to be very firm in the “old days”, but It’s hard to say what they will be shocked by when you don’t even know what their life was like. 

I suppose they’d be shocked at our lack of beliefs in the religious world, my family is pretty much agnostic about God, so we’re not dead atheist but if an ancestor saw that every Sunday we wouldn’t be getting out to church or taking up our testaments, but instead be lying in bed, they wouldn’t be just shocked, they’d be outraged. They would shake us out of our duvets and drag us to the local church and say that we are wrong and immoral before spraying us with holy water and proclaim is to be saved by Christ. It’s a good thing we aren’t vampires

I suppose they’d be shocked also at our family is very untraditional. I live with my boyfriends family and him not even being married or even engaged (and hopefully not for quite a while) and my sister and her boyfriend had a child without even considering getting married. My mum was the same, she had me and Vie when she was twenty, no father in tow, and raised us on her own, which must have been preposterous even just a few decades ago in England, there are still some modern cultures that find this crazy and unacceptable. And they would be shocked to see that we are not disgraced by this way of living and we are not ashamed to be this type of person but instead proud that we have achieved such things and happy about the way things are. 

I suppose they’d be shocked at our use of language, and the way we dress (why on earth are the girls wearing trousers?) and they’d be shocked at how much we eat-and how much we throw away. These would be people who have lived through the “waste not want not” part of history and to watch half of us not even finish the plate would be astonishing. They’d be shocked at how we don’t grow our own vegetables and they’d be shocked how neither me or Vie know (or do) very much housework. I can’t sew, can’t figure out separating laundry or what all the logos mean on the label, and can only just work a washing machine. They’d probably be shocked at our very modern way of life with mobile phones, computers and iPods and would be shocked at how much TV we watch. They would sit in their chair and say “in my day we only had four channels, all in black and white, and the only time we watched it was the Queens coronation!” as they tut at the channels today. 

I suppose they would be shocked, if they saw us having not seen any glimpse of modern life. But how do I know? I don’t know them, and if they were back from the dead they would probably be a zombie and I wouldn’t let them into the house to see anyway, so perhaps all they’d be shocked at is why suddenly a nineteen year old girl is suddenly trying to decapitate them with a teaspoon. 

BIG May-Time Showers

Ah, us brits. We can’t get enough of complaining about the weather. If we’re not complaining about its current state we are definitely complaining about what it was, or what it’s going to be. “That woman from BBC said it’s going to be raining tomorrow. British weather sucks”.  It’s horrible down in Reading as the rain lords continue to change it’s mind every day and I still don’t have an umbrella- you’d think I would have learned by now, having lived for nineteen years that it’s always raining and that I always need an umbrella. I think my head is permanently stuck in Mediterranean mode where it denies that the sky is falling. 

My home-town was struck by a storm yesterday too and the statuses on Facebook about it was just like if a weather man on the news was stood out in the rain with his umbrella as he gave a live update on the awfulness of British weather. It drove me crazy. Personally I do quite like storms. One of my favourite memory consists of standing on the beach, with my friends, while a storm rolled all around us. We got soaked, but it was awesome. It’s just when it’s wet I get as moody as the sky. 

Today in Reading it had been quite nice, judging from my bedroom window. The sky was clear when I woke up. But gradually the sky got duller and duller. It was just as I thought Hey, I fancy some chocolate. Let’s go get some. That it got horrible. I put my coat on and a teeny tiny pair of pumps (luckily not the velvet ones) and decided that it was a perfect opportunity to take out some rubbish. Just as I got to the shed where we have some huge bins-things for our rubbish it chucked it down, torrentially, with rain. I was therefore hiding in the shed as the rain poured and poured among a series of half-full bins. It must have looked shady to anyone driving by. At some point the rain slowed, it didn’t stop-i’d like to add- and I decided to make a run for it while it was sort of okay, and made it to the shop. 

The thing about the rain is that somehow the people in their cars become much more ignorant to the pedestrians who don’t have their umbrellas (that or my tolerance for drivers decreases). While they themselves are in their bubble of dryness and have some sort of urgency to get home they stop caring about those in the rain. They don’t think to slow down for the HUGE upcoming puddle, or stop to let us across the road even though they’re dry and I’m getting wetter by the millisecond. I got splashed four times because of this. Now even my shoes had puddles. 

I made it to the shop just another downpour was releasing it’s wrath onto the town and hid there until it shopped. The good thing is that I got the last chocolate bar in stock (it wasn’t the last one in the shop, but the last of the one I fancied) and the rain stopped dribbling just as I was paying for it. I was walking back and the sky had totally cleared again and there was a rainbow. I still had to endure the drivers who didn’t slow down at the puddle letting my trousers get soaked, but now that I’m sat here snuggled up in bed with my chocolate and I am cozied up in my pyjamas I don’t mind having that ordeal any more. That’s the upside to British weather.