Saturday, 5 October 2013

Best Friends Forever.

 I’ve been back at uni for 3 weeks now, and let me tell you, it has been AMAZING. I’ve loved being back and seeing all the crew, having cute times with my fabulous housemates, partying at everyone’s new houses (and occasionally the union or our beloved Lizard) and generally settling into another year we’re hoping will be even better than the last.

Yet I’m going to be honest, I miss my best friend. We spent masses of time together over the summer and now it seems strange to separated again…but what I found really strange was the reaction of various people I caught up with over summer when they heard/saw we were still as inseparable as ever. People were shocked, as though this was really unexpected.

“You two are still best friends? That’s so cute.”

“Wow it’s like nothing’s changed with you guys, crazy!”

But nothing has changed. Not really, we still tell each other everything – including the things it would probably be better for no one to be able to hold over our heads – and we still have a tendency to drink too much, embarrass ourselves, have drunken heart to hearts and then relive it all the next morning. In some ways, we’re exactly the same as we were two years ago when we left school. In other ways though, everything is completely different. We have both gone off and done very different things. She’s starting her third and final year of her law degree. I took a year out, travelled and am now back for year two. We’re both very different people to who we were two years ago, but why is there an assumption that this means we wouldn’t still be besties?

I appreciate that for many people, university is where they feel they really find ‘their people’ and make the friends who will stay with them for life. And I have met the most amazing people here who are some of my closest friends and I’m sure will continue to be so. But why should that mean that I am no longer as close with school friends. Granted, there are a lot of people who I have lost contact with or only really see in group situations now, but there are also people who I’m just as close to – if not even closer to – now as I was when we left.

If I gave up on the friends from my schooldays I’d have no one to remind me of THAT bob and THOSE braces, no one to laugh about the guys we liked and what’s become of them, the parties we went to when two WKDs were enough to see you through the night and you giggled in the back of the car when dad picked you up at half 12. No one else would remember the teachers we traumatised and the ones who traumatised us. No one else can update me on what’s become of so-and-so and who’s doing what these days. The friends you grow up with have the unique quality of being able to get every little reference you make and laugh at every private joke or memory, even if it was two years ago, or four, or way back when in Year 7 when you first started ‘big school’.

And I know that when you’re all back at uni it’s hard to keep in touch, but for your best friends, the ones who just ‘get’ you, it doesn’t matter if you can’t Skype or you forget to reply to a text because when exams finish in June and you head home for summer, it all just clicks into place. It really is like you’ve never been apart.

So don’t think it’s “crazy” or “cute” or unusual that we’re still BFFs, because in case you didn’t know that stands for Best Friends Forever.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A change of direction, a theatre trip and a bit of thinking.

I haven't blogged in forever...and I've decided I'm going to mix it up a little. As much as I enjoy sharing what I get up to, I feel like there are things I'd rather talk about, and hopefully things - some of you at least - would rather read. Here goes nothing...

So today I went off to London with a friend from school to see 'Blue Stockings' by Jessica Swale at Shakespeare's Globe. And oh my god was it good. I'm a theatre nut as you know but I'm not just talking about the acting. It was the play itself. 

The posters include the following quotation by Dr Henry Maudsley, a 19th century British psychiatrist:

"Mental taxation in a woman can lead to atrophy, mania, or worse - leave her incapacitated as a mother. This is not an opinion. It is a fact of nature."

It sounds insane right? But in the world of 'Blue Stockings' it sums up everything. The play focuses on a group of young women among the first to attend Girton college, Cambridge and their fight for the right to graduate. You follow their whirlwind laugh at their horror at the idea of riding a bicycle, you smile at their thirst and passion for learning and their sheer determination in the face of so much hostility and oppression, you cry when their hearts are broken or they are asked to choose between love and knowledge to decide what makes them happy and you share their disappointment when their fight is defeated and they leave Cambridge empty handed. And then you get angry.

You get angry as the curtain falls, because it's not a curtain, it's a set of banners. And these banners read: 

"The Girton girls did win the right to graduate. It took another 50 years and was not until 1948."

Now I went to an all girls school, I studied the suffrage movement and the evolution of women's rights in A-Level History, yet somehow this fact has managed to slip by me. 1948. That's a mere 65 years ago. When my grandmother was 25 and had served her country in the Second World War she still wouldn't have been able to do what I'm doing currently. She wouldn't have been able to go to university to get a degree, because she was a woman. And I had never even thought about it. It never occurred to me growing up that I wouldn't go to university. I didn't know what I wanted to study and I definitely didn't know what I wanted to do afterwards but why on earth would that stop me? I enjoyed school, I enjoyed learning and I felt just as entitled to higher education as any of my male friends.

Nowadays, looking back, the quote by Dr Maudsley sounds laughable. In fact, much of the audience did laugh when this was said during the play. But should we be laughing? Sure, the Victorians had a fair few crazy ideas which we find ridiculous today, but it wasn't just the Victorians who thought that 'mental taxation', learning or an education was somehow damaging or unfeminine. 65 years ago, one of the leading education institutions in the world still found the education of women to be of far less importance than that of males. And personally, I think we should only laugh now if we think that this view is now entirely alien. And if the education of women is considered as important as that of men, then why do so many teenage girls feel the need to "dumb down". In 'Blue Stockings', the male undergraduates of 1896 are threatened by the idea that the girls might be as capable as they are. and last year, in 2012 an older female colleague told me that "a relationship can only work if the man is more intelligent than the woman". If this is true (and I don't doubt there are exceptions but I've seen many examples where it seems to be the case) then does this mean men are still threatened by female intellect? And if they are, as they were in 1948, or in 1896, then maybe we shouldn't laught at Dr Maudsley and his 'facts of nature', but take the problem a little more seriously and bloody well do something about it?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.

Nothing says summer more than a picnic on the beach! 

Our beach of choice was Wells-next-to-the-Sea on the Norfolk coast, and it was beautiful! We set up camp in front of the beautiful brightly painted beach huts and enjoyed our feast of crisps, prawns, pesto chicken, olives, french bread, strawberries and grapes. Delicious. 

After snoozing in the sunshine, Lucy and I decided to take a stroll out towards the sea (the tide was way way out) and enjoyed a cheeky photo shoot along the way, even sneaking in a swim!

After a spot more sunbathing we packed up the car to wend our way home via an afternoon drink at the Hoste Arms in Barnham Market. We all opted for the strawberry, elderflower and mint refresher which was absolutely delicious!

Another wonderful summer day in the sunshine!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Frolicsome fun.

When you go to university you meet people from all over the country (and even the world), and then - if you're lucky - you get to spend your summer visiting them all! So it was London on Wednesday, Surrey on Saturday and then off to Northamptonshire on Sunday! After the drive up we decided to stretch our legs in the afternoon sunshine with a stroll around the Pitsford reservoir. Where we had far too much fun playing at being big kids with ice creams, skipping and hand stands and lots of silliness for the camera.

Surrey sunshine.

A British summer: Pimms, garden parties, BBQs, Wimbledon, strawberries and sunshine.

That's the ideal, right? And that's what we got on Saturday as we headed up to Surrey to Bea's for a beautiful afternoon enjoying the glorious British weather.

There were jugs and jugs of Pimms and a delicious burgers, drumsticks, sausages and salads to keep everyone happy and we could simply lounge on striped deck chairs and picnic blankets and make the most of the beautiful sunny afternoon!

For desert we gorged on mountains of fresh strawberries, delicious chocolate brownies and the lemon cake Holly, Lucy and I had brought up - scrummy!

So here's hoping the beautiful weather continues as I do love a classic British summer day!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Cathedrals, castles and cafés.

After introducing Holly to the local nightlife on Thursday night I decided it was only fair to shows her how pretty Rochester can look on a sunny day and not on student nights! We breakfasted at Tony Lorenzo's on the High Street and then spent a few hours moseying around the pretty little independent shops that line the cobbled streets.

With its impressive Norman castle and cathedral I felt it only fair to share with Holly any knowledge about the town I've absorbed from my many trips and we explored the cathedral cloisters with their beautiful rose gardens. 

London calling.

As I've said before, London is one of my favourite cities, and so I was delighted to play tourist guide when Holly came over from Belfast this week. I headed in on the train on Wednesday morning and caught up with her on the King's Road for a spot of shopping. After prowling the shops and catching up on each other's news we strolled through Chelsea down to the river and along the Chelsea Embankment.

Sadly it wasn't the nicest day and a little grey so we headed to Le Pain Quotidien in Notting Hill to meet a couple of the girls for lunch. Holly and I decided to share the salmon platter of smoked salmon, prawns, salmon pâté, tuna, egg, rocket salad, olive tapenade and fresh bread. 

The tapenade was amazing and we enjoyed the salmon pâté and smoked salmon. The tuna was a weird addition though and we thought it was too fishy to go with the rest. But we made up for it after lunch with a jaunt down to Belgravia with Vish for cupcakes at Peggy Porschen!

I went for my favourite red velvet cupcake: light and moist with perfect cream cheese icing! 

And Vish opted for the white chocolate and passion fruit cake which was equally delicious with a hidden passion fruit syrup centre! 

After our sneaky cake break we walked off the calories all the way to Fortnum & Mason's and on to Trafalgar Square to revel in the touristness and pick a dinner destination (it was a very foodie day!)

Eventually we settled on Soho Joe's Pizzeria in (you've guessed it) Soho! We wended our way with me cursing my choice of footwear for the day, and found ourselves nestled in a corner eating delicious pizzas! They're not the best pictures and don't do it justice but our mixed vegetable, rocket and Parma ham and chicken and pepper pizzas were delicious! Perfect doughy bases crispy on the edges, scrum my tomato sauce base and fresh toppings! Definitely worth a visit, especially at only £10 a pizza!

When we'd eaten our fill we hopped on the tube back to Vish's for the night and when she headed to work the next morning, Holly and I headed back into the city for a stroll round Covent Garden in the sunshine and then walked from there down to Westminster and the South Bank to sit on the grass and people watch. 

Such a beautiful couple of days in the big city!

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