Lavender in Lyon

Family weddings are always incredible. When it is a Camilleri wedding (my mother’s side of the family), the wedding is madness and exuberance guaranteed!

My cousin Bernard married his lovely French bride on Saturday. This was my first experience of a French wedding and I loved it.

The wedding theme was lavender and on arriving in Valence (the bride’s home town) it was easy to see why.

Such vibrant purple was incredible, and has become a cultural symbol in this area (click here for more info). In fact, instead of confetti and/or rice, we true lavender at the bride and groom as they came out of the church and made their way to their cute red car.

The nice thing about the small village of Valence was that it was relatively tourist-free. Although this had the added difficulty of understanding and speaking French it was nice to absorb the lifestyle as well as the sun. The people were very friendly and patient with my broken French. The bride’s parents were very welcoming and invited us to a Sunday brunch with more food (especially cheese!).

The wedding itself was something out of a perfect Pinterest board. The theme was very 1950s, 1960s. This meant that with my simple blue polka dot dress and curl wanded hair, I fit right in. Emanuel, with his matching blue polka dot tie, could not be more dashing.

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The church ceremony was in a small church and I liked that the groom was the first to enter with his mother, something not traditionally done elsewhere. The list of witnesses was surprising – around 6 witnesses, more than your typical two.

I was mostly impressed with the jazz band. The 75 year old clarinet player had so much energy he could out-do me in a race any day. The whole band kept everybody going in between nibbles and the main dinner courses as well as speeches and presentations. As always, the Maltese family did their bit to ensure the noise levels were through the roof at all times.

All in all, a superb holiday and wedding!

 

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Oh How I love to be by the seaside

The weather has just decided to do a usual U-turn, midway through a heat wave. It just can’t handle the pressure (literally, the low weather pressure). Do not lose faith however because my post will take you back to blue waters and seaside. My post on Whitstable is finally here!

Whitstable was part of my Guy’s Hospital adventure, and similar to Midas’ golden touch, it was always going to be a beacon of beauty, even if I had only been to a clinic room there. I had the chance to witness all its corners over Easter when Emanuel and I were in the Canterbury region. Without a doubt this was my favourite part of the holiday.

Whitstable is known for the oysters, and it is teeming with oyster shells, and oyster stalls. Following a bad experience a couple of years ago, I declined tasting them, but have regretted it ever since.

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The tradition of oysters in Whitstable dates back to the Romans according to the The Whitstable Oyster Festival association. If you are interested in the Oyster festival it is due to happen in late July, ironically outside the season of the native oysters since the ‘farmers’ are too busy during the season.

Another attraction in Whitstable are the beach huts which reminded me of those retro beach ads! We were lucky to have glorious weather but quiet –  I can imagine it is crazy at this time of the year and later into the Summer. They are all painted differently and that adds to the attraction. It was fun trying to find our favourite one. We couldn’t believe how expensive they are to rent and buy!

 

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Perfect stay-cation! However the holiday wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to some sort of gallery. We usually go to an Art Gallery on holiday however this time round, we went to something slightly different. More on that soon I hope (my dissertation writing is top priority I’m afraid!)

 

My Canterbury Tale

Just after Easter, Emanuel and I had a trip planned to Canterbury. Emanuel had been there before, having done a Masters in Fine Arts in the University there. It was so nice to go to places he had been before, with that insider knowledge and nostalgia.

Canterbury is a beautiful rich town full of beautiful parks, the river and history. Emanuel and I are avid holiday makers and our idea of a holiday is walking non stop and cramming everything into a tiny holiday. We were staying at Matt and Laura (an air BnB host) and they were so lovely and helpful! They also had a massive Marmite collection – placemats, mugs, timers, aprons and the works!

My only knowledge of Canterbury was from Chaucer’s classic and

even then, Chaucer is not known to have ever visited the place. My favourite part of Canterbury were the cobbled streets, with their vintage stores. The river tour was a nice touch on our last day, because it gave us a chance to hear about the growth of Canterbury over the years. I would definitely recommend it.

The Cathedral is closed and opened every day with the sound of a 17th Century bell. I did not get the opportunity to see inside, but the gardens were beautiful. I was so pleased with our trip there but in that holiday we had loads to see (next up : Whitstable!)

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Our new friend Frankie – Easter Part 1

IMG_0790 IMG_0791 IMG_0793 IMG_0797 IMG_0798 IMG_0801I’m back to the grinding work that is being a Masters student. At least the sun in Cardiff is Shining! That makes everything better.

Easter break was great, because it was just that. A super break. I went to Poole to see the boyfriend. Then went to Canterbury – but more on that tomorrow. For now, the joys of Poole.

Poole has everything a Malteser could want, which basically means the sea. It also has a lot of birds, something Maltesers apparently don’t want (at least 50% don’t – read tragic story here).

Poole is a coastal town next to Bournemouth, and is quieter more peaceful than the city next door. Apparently Poole was quite a popular harbour following the Norman invasion but its history can be traced back to the Iron Age.

Poole was a Royalist town in the Civil War and Corfe Castle was captured. I haven’t been to see Corfe Castle yet, as I prefer living the lifestyle and scenario of a place before indulging in the history but this is definitely on my list.

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Its position is perfect on the South Coast for lots of things to see and do.  I am planning to work there over the summer to be closer to Emanuel as well as soak up the beauty of the place. These include places like the Jurassic Coast, Stonehenge, Brownsea Island and Sandbanks. Sandbanks has, by area the fourth highest land value in the world. Emanuel, what are you waiting for , take me!

You may still be wondering as to my title. It relates back to the birds, namely seagulls. On my first visit to Poole, I was nearly attacked by a hungry one who wanted my pork and cranberry sausage roll. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with a visitor of Emanuel’s little flat. he must have been there for years because Frankie the seagull is incredibly domesticated. He must have been fed previously by the flat’s previous owner. Most mornings we’d hear a tapping at the window, and it is Frankie saying hello! We don’t feed him but he is relentless. Because I am an early riser he now comes to look at me and nod, and have a little bath on Emanuel’s window sill (if it has been raining!).  He is the cutest thing!

 

Is Zone 5 even London?

Halfway through placement.

When I picked London as my first preference, I had not thought of its geographical span. Spatial awareness is not a big thing for me. This might be explained by the fact that Hyde Park (yes, just the park) is larger than Valletta, which is the Capital City of Malta, a.k.a home sweet home.

So when I was sent to Northwick Park, I couldn’t see how it could possibly be London? No Shard, London Bridge, Big Ben? I realised that I had always seen London as a tourist, shame on me! I embraced this opportunity to do a bit more, see a bit more, and enjoy London, on the edge.

The team at Northwick Park is lovely. I have had a great opportunity in observing some amazing genetic counsellors and I think I will almost miss that aspect once I start the job. It is almost as if now is the time to really absorb different styles before slowly adapting your own. Having said that, I cannot wait to be a genetic counsellor and have my own caseload.

Wembley at first may not seem like the most attractive of places. To me however, it will also have fond memories for it is the place I finally saw my first snow fall. This Winter was the first time I crunched in the snow, and felt the texture.

A lot is being done to improve Wembley as an area and I reckon that in a couple of years it will be an attractive area. The London Designer Outlet and Wembley Stadium are already iconic places to visit. I spent a lot of my time in Wembley library working on my dissertation (more on that next week!).

I had a chance to experience places like Bedford, Hemel and Milton Keynes too. Being on trains and looking out into the green expanse space is something that I will never tire of.

Here are some pictures of going out and about in London.

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Christmas, Cardiff and London Round 2

Another year, another adventure!

The adventure is starting super early, with 7th January being the date I hit Northwick Park Hospital and absorb as much as I can in my second placement.

Coming so soon after Christmas has its advantages and disadvantages. I am full of energy to get this year started with a bang, but janaury blues can be a real thing. On the other hand London! (Why can’t I find the soundtrack of Paddington Bear anywhere?!)

I did see Paddington Bear over the holidays and love, love, loved the film. I remember him from childhood stories but the film really brought it out for me. I now believe that he is rooted in my subconscious love of London too.

I digress – I took a couple of photos pre-Christmas madness with all the details that makes my house a Christmas dream during December. Hope you like them.

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This time round I’m based in Harrow, near Wembley Stadium. It is the first time i’m using AirBnB so fingers crossed. The host seems lovely and the area is pretty well stocked with restaurants and shopping. TkMaxx and Primark? Say no more. Since I’m living in London this time round I aim to do the rounds with all my friends and cousins living there this time round. That means a lot of people, dates and rendez-vous!

Of course, there is real work to be done, and after a super experience in Guy’s I have a sense of anxeity! Will it be the same, will I love it , will I get lost, will they like me? Anxious-nervous-excited! This is the last chance to prove myself so the pressure is there to. Alons-y!

The real deal – A flea market

Nowadays vintage is in. This means that what is being sold as vintage, is not really vintage, it just looks vintage.

However the real deals are still to be found in hidden spots around cities and maybe old villages. I heard of one such flea market called Steptoe on Steroids, somewhere in Rose Street.

Rose Street is not the easiest to find, its in a side street off the bottom of City Road, almost coming to Newport Road.  I went there on a cold Sunday morning after mass. I have started listening to mass in St. Peter’s in Roath and it was with a feel good mood I decided to go exploring. It was too early to go into town anyway.

I came across the sign without any problem, however the sign is the only indication that this garage is more than just a junk garage. Ranging on two floors, navigating your way through the store is not the easiest. Things aren’t laid out the way you expect them too. I like how you have BBC Wales (or some other station) on the ground floor, and then Queen’s Its a Kind of Magic playing upstairs, clearing from a vinyl record that was by the base of the stairs. Most impressive is the enamel signage that the owner has collected. Sadly, it isn’t for sale.

I fell in love with a number of old jukeboxes and cameras and would be tempted to buy one to decorate my house in the future. There were tons of bric a brac items too. I asked the owner whether he changed the items often, and he told me that he had an entire van to clear out! This is a place to go if you want to get nostalgic, lost or need a bargain. It opens every Saturday and Sunday and definitely worth a visit.

Did I buy anything? Yes, Yes I did. A game called Kan-U-Go which  my Dad had when he was a teenager and kept for us, for those rare Malta stormy nights!

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