Sunflowers are synonymous with happiness, positivity and adoration. They are my favourite flowers and I couldn’t wait to visit them at the Pop Up Farm. No matter how grey the day the bright yellow radiating off the thousands of sunflowers in this never-ending field always manages to mask the colour of the sky.
It is a place where you get to pick your own Sunflowers, sweetcorn and pumpkins throughout the year when they are in season. With hay bale mazes, woodfired sweetcorn pizzas and barbecued farm-grown corn on the cob there is something for everyone. Naturally, we had to try it all and every bit was as delicious as it sounds.
As you wander round on the sunflower trail you get to choose each and every sunflower that you want and one of the ‘sunflower sommeliers’ will cut them down for you to take home, for a price of course. Every 7 stems cost £10, me and mum bought 7 each meaning 14 stems (all of which were originally only a head shorter of me) of sunflowers now grace our home filling every corner with a yellow glow.
So I am back from holiday and have been struggling to get my head back in the game in all areas of life. As we are approaching the middle of august, my birthday and dare I say it nearing the end of Summer (I don’t want to admit it either) I thought it would be interesting to assess where I am right now. We are now two thirds of the way through the year and I am one third of the way through university and I still can’t quite believe it!
Last night I was at the pub with four of my oldest school friends reminiscing over what we thought were the tragedies of our teenage years and speculating where we will be within the next five. Those four are nearing their early 20’s whilst I am only just nearing the end of my first year being at the pub legally, courtesy of being an August baby (late late late August), and still being mistaken as a 14 year old on the days I really cannot be arsed to put on any make up. This is something I am sure I will be grateful for when I am 50 and still getting mistaken for a 35 year old 😉 I wish! However, whilst my 15 year old younger Brother is on the verge of being able to buy his own pint in the pub I am struggling to relish these misunderstandings.
So far this Summer I have had a blast meeting new people and seeing new places whilst cherishing those that I have known and loved for years. I have rekindled my love of reading and remembered why I needed it so badly going through secondary school. It is an escape from reality, a private mission of problem solving where you immerse yourself in someone else’s thoughts and feelings allowing you to pretend you are someone else. This is something I have become fully accustomed to, my favourite book this Summer being Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love.
Now I hear you all ask what these teenage tragedies I mentioned earlier include, the thing is if I told you I would have to kill you. Only joking could that have got any more cliche? Our discussion included my eyebrows that once resembled sperm; a party we had whilst our parents were away that spiralled downhill incredibly quickly after consuming ten too many bottles of Carribean Twist, resulting in our Primary school dinner lady now turned friends neighbour helping us clear all evidence, people and rubbish alike; and going over in detail every run in we ever had with our Maths teachers. We discussed the confusion of uni house bills and rent, flies in the kitchen and stains on mattresses (especially the large biscuit coloured stain in the middle of one in a one of our new uni houses) the impossibilities of saving (aren’t we dramatic) and the meals we can all now cook one year in (some more than others). Two of said friends took a gap year that we are all envious of and are starting university this year, we really sold university life to them well as you can tell. Of course these are only a few of the tales we told but I really can’t repeat any of the others.
I will end this incredibly waffly post with my hopes for the rest of the year. I hope for last third of this year to be as interesting and confusing as the first two. I hope to continue to meet new people and make new friends but grow closer and stronger with those I already have. I want to understand bills and teach myself to save and not spend my wages in the first week on endless online sales, no Sophia you really do not need another pair of distressed blue denim jeans I think the 16 pairs you already own are sufficient enough. I want to keep making stories and memories that in another 5 years we can sit in the pub and laugh about over our hundreth bottle of rose.
If you are at University and are desperate to explore and meet new people but you can’t quite make your student loan and weekend wages stretch (lets face it it is almost impossible) then I cannot stress how amazing volunteering at festivals is. It mildly indulges the cravings of the travel bug whilst being low cost, incredibly fun and in the same country!
Recently I volunteered at the funkiest festival I have ever been too, Latitude, with Hotbox Events. My weekend consisted of drinking a bit too much (as per), making new friends, listening to insane music and dressing up as a Pixie. Over the course of the weekend I completed three six hour shifts in the woods arena and faraway forest dressed as a Pixie. Our shifts of getting glittered up, wearing tutus and refining our bubble blowing skills. Whilst it was all bubbles and laughs there were some more serious aspects of our role including watching out for fires, potentially helping lost children and ensuring there was no trouble. Fortunately, we had none of the latter. Our shift pattern was 9am until 3pm on Friday, 3pm until 9pm on Saturday and 9pm until 3am on Sunday.
Whilst we weren’t on shift we were able to explore and get drunk, basically just laugh and party (maybe sometimes a little to hard eh Molly;) ). I got to relive my Isle of Wight experience by seeing the likes of George Ezra and Sigrid again whilst adding to my live music resume with the likes of Big Moon, Pale Waves and Loyal Carner. We had arguably the best shift spot being in the arenas as we got to listen to all of the DJ sets and groove whilst attempting to be super heros (we wish!). However, I did miss my absolute favourites the Magic Gang, but who needs to see them for the fifteenth time anyway *eye roll*.
Of course Latitude festival would not have been complete without the pink sheep, exhibitions in the forest and lake swimming. Although I am unable to say I actually swam in the lake, courtesy of a combination of working, seeing music and being slightly too hungover, I definitely wish I had. It was a weird and wonderful festival that was genuinely filled with people of all ages. I absoulutely loved watching in awe as glittery mums and dads had matching exotic festival outfits with their tiny tots that they hauled along in personalised festival carts.
There were a million different stages with a millon different genres of Acts for everyone to go and see. We would spend the daytime in the BBC Sounds stage, the evening by the Obelisk stage (main stage) and the night/early morning in the woods raving, singing and dancing to the DJs in the woods. We even broke Massaoke by singing to loud! There was comedy, poetry, music, drama and dance just to name a few with masses of huge names including Lena Dunham.
Although I volunteered with a friend from uni almost everyone we encountered were volunteering on their own. The idea of doing something like this on my own, without knowing anyone there is both terrifying and liberating. It is an experience I would definitely like to try, especially if everyone I met would be there too! There was a variety of ages from fresh out of schoolers to uni goers, parents and grandparents which enabled us to meet people from every walk of life.
Volunteering meant we had discounted food and I actually ate something more than just a burger all weekend (however that really wouldn’t have been too bad)! I branched out to chilli and chips and chicken and chorizo paella. We had our own staff toilets and showers meaning we were always able to go about our business without the worry of catching some form of disease from even just looking at the lock in the toilet and it was the first festival where I did not have to keep loo roll in my bumbag. I even showered and washed my hair everyday, basically making festival history!
Whilst I am undeniably glad to be back in my own bed and preparing to go on holiday tomorrow I cannot wait to get back to dancing in a muddy field with strangers at Reading. Camping and wellies will forever have a special place in my heart, even if the wellies didn’t make an appearance this time.
This is where you will find me until I am flush enough to get my butt to the other side of the world.
So I’ve been back to reality for a week now (or I had been when I wrote this, since then I disappeared to Latitude festival without any signal and where this post failed to upload, Latitude blog post is also now pending) so it is safe to say I am missing the blue skies, sandy beaches and incredible architecture that composes Barcelona. It seems only yesterday we were booking this trip and now it is over. We had the most incredible time and now I all keep thinking is when can we do it again!
Barcelona is home to some of the most elaborate buildings, beautiful beaches and the worlds strongest cocktails that are definitely worth the pricetag. We stayed at the Hotel Sehrs Carlit, a 15 minute walk from the Sagrada Familia. For us it was perfect, it was basic and we were constantly stepping on eachothers toes but considering we were only there to shower and sleep it was everything we needed.
Being quite a trek from the beaches and all of the sea side restaurants we quickly became accustomed to the Metro. The metro was a lot like the London underground but with air conditioning and a lot more pickpockets. One of said pickpockets almost stole my purse! Before anyone starts to lecture me yes I was careful, yes I had my bag accross my body and yes I held it close. I was letting an old lady sit down on the chair I was standing infront of and when I put my hand back on my bag it was open. Luckily the old lady had hit it out of someones hand so I managed to get it back. It was like a scene out of madagascar when the old lady hit Alex the Lion with her bag. To make it even more reminiscent of a kids cartoon everyone within our proximity started shouting and fighting on the train accusing eachother in order to find the culprits!
That was probably the most dramatic part of the holiday as the rest of it was spent roaming the streets, chilling on the beach and ooogling at Barcelonas many sights.
What we saw…
Whilst we saw a lot on our trip we oobviouslyyy was unable to see everything. However, we saw so much It is impossible to elaborate on all of it so here are a few of my favourie sights.
La Sagrada Familia La Sagrada Familia definitely did not disappoint. This was the sight people urged us to see the most and whilst we had every intention of seeing it we were unsure of it’s history. We took a leap and decided to get the audio tour, despite doing History at univeristy I am not usually that interested in the tours but it was the best decision. It really helped us appreciate the beauty and meaning behind every tiny detail in the church that we definitely would have missed otherwise. The most spectacular aspect is that it is not even finished and it is not expected to be finished until 2026!
Arc de Triomf Even though I saw this landmark with slightly foggy sight and a wobbly disposition, oh and in the dark, it was still incredible. It was abosolutely huunormous! We unintentionally stumbled upon it on our incredibly long walk home in the early hours of the morning after we had been for a few too many cocktails in the Gothic Quarter. This is one of the sights you intend to visit again just to get a better look in the light but you never quite get round to until the taxi back to the airport. Nonetheless I am very pleased I got to see this, unforunately I am unable to compare it to the French one as I have never been to Paris. 😦
The Gothic Quarter The quaint streets of the Gothic Quarter were a far but well invited cry from the business of Las Ramblas. Full of hidden restaurants, bars and clubs there were so many gems we wanted to uncover. We had the best cocktails sat in some tiny bars along the streets as we made our way to the Cathedral. I tried my first caipirinha which although I enjoyed it has definitely not transferred my allegiance from mojitos. They will always hold a very special place in my heart.
Las Ramblas Busy, bright and bustling are the best three words to describe this never end stretch of shops and restaurants. Almost the Oxford street of Barcelona, it is where we had the best Paella of our whole trip and the largest cocktail of our whole life. This is difficult considering we ate a total of 4 paellas and at least 35 cocktails each whilst in Barcelona.
Gaudi’s Architecture Whilst in Barcelona it is almost impossible to miss Gaudi’s architecture. He dominates the city with his intricate and meaningful designs pulling visitors of the city in every direction bursting to see his work.
Where we ate and drank…
Being in Barcelona for 6 days and 5 nights you can guess how many different restaurants we ate in but here are a few of our favourites. Bacoa This was undeniably the best burger I have ever had, I am renaming it the King of burger joints. It is reminiscent of the fast food joints everyone has learnt to know and love but you order with a ticklist chosing your meat, bun, extras, sources and side in an immense amount of depth. You then go and find a table in the cosy outdoor eating area where your food gets brought ot you. The best bit about it is that it is right on the seafront and is the perfect place to watch the sunset after a beach day.
Surf House By the end of this post you will all have realised I am a proper burger gal as I am about to again rave about this restaurants… you guessed it, burgers. This is obviously not the only food the restaurant sells as it is also home to healthy juices, salads, poke bowls, burritos, ribs and tacos. We went to this restaurant on our last whole day whilst incredibly hungover after our barcrawl the night before. The whole holiday we had been desparate to paddle board and this restaurant allowed us to fulfill our paddle boarding destiny. If you spend 15 € you get 45 minutes on the paddle boards, result! This was the best hangover cure, even if we did spend most of the time laying down on our boards rather than attempting to stand up. At least we ended up with those beachy surfer curls we always dreamed of, kinda, not.
El Rey de la Gamba This is the restaurant we ate at twice whilst away, unintentionally as there are 3 versions of it along the same street on the way to and from Barceloneta beach from the metro. Each time was as good as the last, we enjoyed paella (suprisingly), mussles and chips and calamari. All of the waiters were hilarious and each time we were given free sangria (not as good as those ‘mojitos’ and ‘sangria’ the men sell on the beach of course *raises eyebrows*). I think all we ate on this trip was fish, paella and burgers!
Last but not least before our flight home on the last day we had a takeaway pizza on the beach to feed my frequent need for pizza. It was the first time we tried out the beach by all of the clubs and I cannot for the life of me remember the restaurants name but lets appreciate it’s beauty below.
And there it is, the outline of our trip to Barcelona. Of course it would not have been complete without spending all of our money buying goods, massages and henna tattoos of donkeys with large areas (if you know what I mean) off all of the ‘salesmen’ on the beach. The highlight was when our beach umbrella was home to a fugitive when a woman selling mojitos silently took shelter whilst the police drove past the beach. We decided not to question her when as she was a pro at candy crush and left us a mojito when she left, a silent nod to our lack of acknowledgment.
We chilled out, explored and as usual got a little too drunk than necessary but we enjoyed every second. I now have the holiday blues, again, and can’t wait to get my butt back on the beach.
I am a huge cinema lover. On Saturday, as part of my babysitting duties whilst my parents were at Chillfest, we decided to take my younger Brother to his first outdoor cinema experience. There is nothing I love more than sitting on a camping chair wrapped up in a blanket with a picnic. Add to it the stars, a big screen and Mamma Mia! Here we go again you’ve hit the jackpot.
Saturday was filled with much anticipation and endless questioning on whether it was time to leave the house yet. It is safe to say he was incredibly excited. Finally as it hit 19:30pm we bundled all of our junk in the car and headed to Knebworth House.
We arrived about 10 minutes after the doors had opened, a good hour and 20 minutes before the film started, yet there was already a surprising amount of people sprawled out on the green infront of the huge screen. There was a combination of ages and a hugely diverse range of people. There were families, couples, sisters and friends alike all joining together to enjoy an evening filled with munching, laughing and of course ABBA!
I half expected my Brother to fidget and whine throughout the whole film. Despite being there incredibly early we managed to pacify him with pepperoni and strawberry laces. Who knew a 6 year old could eat almost a whole meat platter in under 10 minutes, bearing in mind this particular 6 year old would have a diet consisting of chocolate biscuites and chicken goujons if he could!
We managed to munch through our picnic within the first 20 minutes and got cosy on our chairs, took off our shoes and slipped our feet into some fluffy socks just as the rain kicked in. Luckily the staff whizzed round some complimentary plastic ponchos saving us from getting too wet. The rain didn’t last too long and wore off just as the film began.
It was a brilliant film that ensured everyone was laughing in unison at least every 5 minutes. The cheering and singing seemed essential for ignoring the cold, weather of a typical British summer evening. It is safe to say all complaints were saved for the end, only because it meant it was bed time!
We will definitely be keeping our eyes peeled for more evenings under the stars.
I know you better than anyone. I have been there through all of the tears, tantrums and the trauma. I have listened to all of your fears, helped fix your anxieties and encouraged you to stay positive. We have been partners in crime through all the good times and I have been both the angel and the devil on your shoulders. Entering the ‘real’ world outside of school may seem scary now but, as always, everything will work itself out. Trust me you’re about to have a ball.
You have just finished your A-Levels and finally, although incredibly untimely, sent off your UCAS application for University. Sixth Form prom is around the corner and before you know it you will be off on your first girls holiday to Benidorm!
I know the prospect of Uni scares you. I have witnessed the incessant internal battle asking yourself if you’re ready to leave home and commit to a life in Reading or Southampton, maybe even Kent, but I am pleased you have decided to fulfill your childhood dream and have chosen a London university. You can stay at home and commute but be prepared for countless train journeys carrying your sleeping bag and going out clothes! By the end of first year you will have mastered the art of falling asleep on the train and waking up at your stop on the way home the day after the night before. Ignore all of those teachers who question your decision, only you know what is best for you (apart from your Mum, as proven she is always right).
The prospect of leaving the cocoon of school that has shielded you from the real world for 18 years is one that fills you with undeniable fear. You have finally found your feet by Year 13 and now you are going to have to do it again without the comfort of the familiar faces you have grown to love, some of them at least. This struggle for your feet would not have been complete without battles with mean girls, arguments and the discovery of a world with boys. Despite mixing with new people throughout school you have inevitably gravitated back to the same group of friends, give or take few, that you had been with since Primary.
Now you have never been very good with dealing with failure. Throughout school you have had a tricky relationship with failure, your undeniable hate towards it is unhelpful. Always try your best, that is all you can ask, and sometimes you might just miss the mark but that is okay. Failure is essential in order for you to grow. I have learnt that now, don’t get me wrong we still get frustrated if we miss a first by 1 mark or get the occasional 2:2 but we dont dwell on what could have been we just try and fix what is.
Your comfort within current friendships is the prospect of leaving school that scares you the most. The contrast from seeing your friends everyday to making time to have frequent catch ups is evident and it is will be a struggle to keep up with everyones busy schedules. You frequently hear stories about how friendships change, you will soon learn that some friendships grow with you but some grow in opposite directions. Just remember the ones who matter most are the ones who will stay close and when you meet up it will be as if you have never been apart. Change is scary but it is necessary to help us find our place. You are about to meet some amazing people whilst really appreciating what you already have, just embrace it.
So just be excited, I know you are already but let it grow. Just get ready to be yourself, shine and sparkle.
Last weekend I lost my Isle of Wight festival virginity and it is safe to say it was an experience I am eager to relive. Regardless of the endlessly moody sky and the perserevant rain everyone there, no matter how young or old, was determined to sing, dance and lets face it get drunk. Being a festival junkie I am excited to share my experience, all things from music legends, bugs in my tent and communal showers to old men peeing down my leg (hence the use of communal showers)! And yes, having an old mad pee down your leg is as bad as it sounds…
Last Wednesday, after spending all day in bed suffering with some form of germ that ensured I was full of snot, had a chesty cough, watery eyes and was endlessly sweaty, I got on the train at 16.43 pm heading towards Southampton in preparation for my Ferry on Thursday to the Isle of Wight. It was the most tedious journey I have ever been on, feeling like it took a total of 70 million hours. Bearing in mind I was incredibly excited and it was rush hour whilst travelling through London to Clapham Junction we were toppling left right and centre with our tortoiseshells on our backs. I was impatient with anticipation and even landed with a thud into an old mans lap with his walking stick between my legs! Luckily when we finally did arrive in the Isle of Wight on the Thursday we managed to put our tents up before the rain hammered down. We spent our first night there meeting our neighbours and dancing the night away in the electrolove tent that plays remixes of popular bangers old and new.
I would usually categorise my music taste as indie and rock and whilst this thirst was satisfied by acts such as DMA’s (whom I have been waiting to see since year 9), Noel Gallagher, Biffy Clyro, Miles Kane, Richard Ashcroft and Sundara Karma, it was almost impossible to suppress my inner pop princess (courtesy of listening to capital 24/7 at work) when Anne Marie came on stage. My excitement was incredibly out of character but I think I’m a secret fangirl!
The first act on Friday was the DMA’s playing the main stage at 4.30pm. Despite the Tornado that reportedly swept silently through the Isle of Wight on Thursday we dressed for the theme Summer of 69′ (regardless of the lack of Summer) and spent the morning eating sausage baps and starting to work through the 18 packs of quavers we hauled along with us, whilst drinking vodka and huddling under umbrellas with our new friends. Conveniently we were camping next to some sisters from Brighton and three girls from Southampton University who were all bubbly, extremely chatty and shared our love for flavoured vodka. I have been waiting to see the DMA’s forever so we ensured we fought our way to the front just in time to hear the 3 Aussies play, probably their slowest but, my favourite song ‘Delete’. They are incredibly reminiscent of Oasis especially with their aesthetic, soulful tunes and layering within their songs but I urge you to immediately check them out. They are one of those bands it is imperative you see at a small venue before they make it big time. We essentially stayed at the main stage all day apart from quick toilet breaks and enjoyed the likes of the unapologetic Lily Allen who although had a shakey start to her set threw some massive middle fingers to both crowd members and current politicians, the Courteeners and Mr Liam Gallagher himself. As always he was arrogant, moody and lets face it a man of very few words but there is nothing better that being at the barrier to hear Oasis classics like Wonderwall. The only thing that could have made this day better is if I didn’t feel the warm trickle of an old mans pee down my leg during said Oasis classic, the highlight of the evening was that when confronted by the lady next to me he just stood there chuckling, like I said being at the front has it’s perks!
Saturday was filled with a contrast of popular music that infiltrates the charts and classics like Never gonna give you up (sung as if Rick Astley), there was something for everyone. Our day started with a surprisingly reserved set form Sundara Karma who mainly played tracks off their newer album. Then Anne Marie came on stage who’s positivity lifted spirits and truly got everyone dancing. We took a break from the Main stage missing Rick Astley and Bastille to go and top up on our alcohol to ensure we maintained our slightly fuzzy glow throughout George Ezra and Fat Boy Slim. I was pleasantly surprised by Fat Boy Slims set, it was a blur of colour that ethralled all kinds of ravers to non-stop dancing throughout the entire set. The vibrant screens with swirling images lit up the crowd whilst his classic DJing ensured everyone left with achey feet. By the end of his set we were addicted to dancing and continued our night in the Strongbow tent before retiring to our sleeping bags filled with bugs.
Sunday was the day I was least bothered by which acts I saw. Of course I wanted to see Madness, Sigrid and Biffy Clyro but inbetween I was unphased by how I spent my time. Madness had retained their charm and gift of the gab chatting away inbetween songs and warmed the crowd by bringing on 3 children to end their set. They triumphantly celebrated their 40 years since appearing on Top of the Pops with Baggy Trousers and House of Fun. Richard Ashcroft, although not as engaging, bravely played 3/4 of his set on accoustic guitar. He played some emotional verve classics like Drugs don’t work, of which everyone in the crowd knew the words before being supported by a band . Then Biffy ‘fucking’ Clyro came on early, due to Jess Glynne failing to appear, and played a longer set lasting nearly 2 hours. They’re set was insane. In true rock ‘n’ roll style Simon came out with a bloody nose and battled through the set like a true soldier.
This is why, as you can probably guess, I have been feeling as grey as the sky looks. Regardless of my incessent moaning at the weather, it wasn’t as bad as I make it out I’m just whiney! It is finally Thursday and my cold is starting to go, the clouds are lifting and I am excited to see what my next festival holds. Latitude in two weeks. See you next year Isle of Wight!