Tuesday, 29 January 2019

London Holiday - Musings Part 3 - The Experience

I've spoken about 'Me' time and I've spoken about shopping. However I think the biggest highlight of my London trip was the experiences that, as always, are something unique and different to each individual and in this case reflect my own likes, preferences and interests.

Arriving at Heathrow late evening I assumed I would only start my adventure properly on the morrow. The airport knew better than I and surprised me with my first photograph-worthy view. As I casually strolled down through the long corridors following signs to my destined exit, I came acrid the spot where Eddie Redmayne apparently stood with his Oscar when he landed back from America and the Academy Awards in 2015.

The rest of the first night was uneventful and I stepped out on the morrow to my first destination, Camden Town. This artistic place stole my heart, partly for its sculpted and painted walls and also for the delicious shops and items for sale. From Gothic clothes to homemade candles (one of which now burns in my room), the shop that I will forever call 'the robot shop' for its design to the multitude of stalls selling anything from homemade baby clothes to cosy vintage signs to hang around the home.
Just as exciting, my second day led me to Portobello Road, with its endless stalls and shops, including the first Cath Kidston store I visited. One lovely gadget store had the most amazingly designed novelty items but unfortunately at the first snap of my phone camera I was sternly advised not to take pictures inside the shop so I cannot share with my readers. My purchases from that day include a print of a Klimt as well as the oil painting I mentioned in the previous post.

With those two 'must see' locations done to my heart's content, I spent the rest of my holiday just visiting places that might interest me and clothes stores I love. Then just as I started my journey with a snapshot from the filming world, I ended it in the Harry Potter shop called Platform 9 3/4. I found it just two hours before checkout, right under my nose in my 'home' train station, King's Cross Station, whilst I had looked for it in the surrounding streets instead!

Thursday, 24 January 2019

London Holiday - Musings Part 2 - Some Shopping

My London holiday will be well over by the time I get this published and yet confining my trip to just one blog post would have been a shame. The thing is, there were so many facets to the trip and I was hoping to cover all the main ones through these posts.

In my first post about London I mentioned 'a bit of shopping'. Most people would think I am trying to hide just how much shopping I did but you know what? I am actually finding it hard to shop! I did go a little overboard when I visited Portobello Road, simply because I am very much into art and prints and metal signs but I am glad to say what I got was stuff that I was actually anyway on the lookout for, if I exclude one small dainty silver snuff box for my new bedroom that I found at a real bargain price. Seeing as my new flat was still going to have mostly empty walls, I was happy to buy some really cool prints and signs that not only compliment the style of the furniture but also reflect my own personality. Add to that, I was really excited to find, miles away from home, a beautiful affordable oil painting that will do nicely for the master bedroom and was actually the finishing touch and focal point I was still on the lookout for!

Hats my size!
When it comes to the clothes shopping side, I actually amazed myself with how little I got! Even though I am a Minimalist, I do love to look as perfect as possible every single day and whilst having a capsule wardrobe limits regrettable impulse buys, I allow myself to buy unlimited clothes as long as they feel just right. In this case, only three tops and a skirt felt 'good enough' and priced 'right enough'. My other clothing purchases actually consisted of underwear (now that I might have a bit too much of but as I said, for me there are no strict limit rules as long as I buy what I love and wear it), a beautiful scarf that matches the colour of my eyes, one silver beanie and two gorgeous winter hats that I am ecstatic about simply because I was never able to find any before from Malta that fit right and looked good on me and I do like to wear something on my head in the cold. So fashionable and functional, my new hats get prime space in my wardrobe.

Since this one is about shopping, I should also confess to having made some purchases from the Cath Kidston store where I was so pleased to find a sale on, seeing as she is one of my very favourite designers. As they say, patience pays off and having brushed off buying a kitchen timer for usually finding the cheap dubious types, in the shop I came across a truly beautiful one that will go perfectly with my kitchen and is so so vintage that I just can't help but beam when I think of it. I also got a power bank curtsey of the brand, which I had been looking out for as my current one plays up at times. On sale it turned out cheaper than if I'd buy one boring standard one from back home and this is actually meant to be used specifically with apple products and comes with an extra charging cable for my iPhone SE! All in all, I made real bargains at the shop and I even bought a handbag from there. True enough, that was one thing I did not need, but it had been a dream of mine for years to own a Cath Kidston handbag so thanks to the sale I finally own my own without feeling guilty about their usually high prices.

At the end of it, considering I am in central London with a spending budget put aside specifically for the occasion, it seems like Minimalism makes us more disciplined than we would actually have thought and I lost count of just how many clothing stores I pushed myself into, only to shake my head at all the items on display and head out again onto the street. Any tips to give me the same mindset when I see beautiful underwear are seriously welcome! 😆

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

London Holiday - Musings Part 1 - A 'ME' trip

I am writing this post whilst on holiday in London, sitting in my room after three days of walking, walking and more walking around!

My trip has been a medley up to now of amazing attractions, a bit of shopping and as I said, a lot of walking (even counting solely the running around in the Underground Stations and going up and down the steps there is more than enough exercise!)

Circumstances dictated I made the trip alone this time around and this gave me the opportunity to make it 'my own' holiday so to speak. With no one else to consult with about where to go and what to do (and more importantly for me, what to eat!) as well as having no one to rely on (am so proud I managed to get around pretty well for my reputation of getting lost all the time!) I found this was the perfect time to totally disengage from anything and everything that usually takes up my time and attention and make this about ME.

I do not mean this in a conceited way. If anything, I have to confess I brought photos of my loved ones with me on this trip, simply because I still want to feel them close. However, unlike previous trips where I had to compromise or simply go along with what anyone else had decided to do, this time I was free to, say, avoid the British Museum completely whilst going round the Cath Kidston shop three or four times simply because no one was tapping their feet waiting for me to make my purchasing decisions quicker. I also took one quick look around one side of Hyde Park and, being told by a security guard (who was kind enough to take my photo and also compliment me on my eyes!) that Winter Wonderland had after all, closed and was being dismantled, decided that was enough park-walking for me thank you very much. The point I am trying to make is, that since this is my third trip to London after all, going solo gave me the liberty to pass over what I felt I had done enough of and concentrate on what is 'Wow!' to me.

A lot of people have the idea that we must all sacrifice ourselves for our families, put ourselves last, that there is some kind of martyrdom we should achieve once we become adults. Instead I have learnt that unless we love ourselves first and just as importantly nurture ourselves, then there will not be enough of us to go round for those we love.

Let's take a practical example. My friends as well as partners old and new (in effect anyone that's actually been on an outing or hung out with me really) know that the only times I get really, really cranky outside of work are when I am tired or hungry. Both can be very easily solved and yet I cannot give the best version of myself till they are. In this same way, we all of us, without exception, can be much better parents and partners and workmates and any other role we find ourselves taking on, if we are good with ourselves first.

That is why I didn't begrudge myself of the 'Me' holiday that I felt deep down I needed so bad and am enjoying it to the absolute max.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Coca-Cola Swimming Pool - An Art Exhibition by Lisa Falzon

I have had the amazing opportunity of following artist Lisa Falzon from the start of her artistic career. I remember looking in wonder at her dark slightly cartoonish images back in 2004 as they hung around the courtyard of the Manoel Theatre in Valletta, Malta.

From that first exhibition I followed on as she took up digital art, photo texture layering, illustrations of children’s books and even Etsy commercial art. Now she seems to have returned to her roots, this time however with pop-art colour images that are charged with vibrance and characters that seem happy in their as-always escapist surroundings over her original almost-gothic intentionally-sad pieces.

Some of her gigantic colourful canvases will be on show at Cafe Society at St John’s Street, Valletta (Malta) for a month as from Thursday 17th January, between the hours of 19:00 and 23:59.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

I Never Rush Any More

We live in a culture of 'Busy'. It has become a keyword to 'Success' it seems or else why would everyone be replying to 'How are you?' with 'Busy!'?

I have to admit I am guilty of doing it myself sometimes and my go-to phrase sounds even worse than that as I'm usually texting 'talk later as gotta rush!'

Rushing. I used to mean it when I said that. Nowadays, if you get a text from me saying that, don't take it literally. The reason I would be sending such a message and stopping a chat is actually NOT TO have to rush! Picture it this way:

You are cooking and you know you will then sit down to the meal which can't exceed a certain time because at that point you must get dressed and go to an important appointment. Now you could very well text through the cooking and eating, therefore unconsciously slowing yourself down and then having to rush to get ready on time and maybe even drive faster to make your appointment. Or else you could send that quick 'Goodbye' text explaining how you can't exactly talk right now. It will let you focus on what you need to be doing and follow through with your plans without a hitch.

Sometimes texting is not even the problem. In fact, at times overcommitting ourselves is! Why would you plan a trip to the supermarket just one hour before you are due at the hairdresser's? Even something as small as having a hard time looking for a parking spot will throw you off your tight schedule. I will usually refer to myself as 'Rushing' from one to the other if someone stops me with a phone-call etc simply to explain that I have to get both things done in a timely manner. I would in effect have already allowed a time cushion for any delays.

A third trick I use to ensuring I am never in panic mode is to use a week-to-a-page diary. It might sound like a strange suggestion but the reason I do that is to see that I don't fill many days in the same week with commitments. If you are anything like me, errands of any kind take a toll on your energy and putting too much in a week will feel like 'Rushing through it'.

Some of you might be arguing that it is all very well to make suggestions without knowing just how many commitments you must catch up with. I quite understand your busy schedule because I actually have got one too. In the past I would practically force myself to never rest before I got it all done and cleared from my head but guess what? It will never get all done as there will always be something new to see to at the same time that you are striving to cross off each item on your 'To do' list. No wonder my ex husband and I had so many arguments whenever I pushed him to do the same!

I now find that I am much better off and more able to deal with it all if I allow myself the space and time to not get overwhelmed, over-tired or over-burdened. I have taken it upon myself to learn how to say 'No' when a 'Yes' can't really work due to time constraints else when it is a burden to myself and/or my family. I have even limited my texting time in general and it's given me enough time back to add Meditation time to relax as well as give me more time to write and catch up with deadlines.

So truly, like with everything else in life, it seems like 'Balance' is the key word to counteract 'Busy'.