I normally add a quote to the beginning of each post that sums up or enhances my writing. However, I’m going to use my monthly recaps as an opportunity to sum up the month – be it the mood, the weather, my feelings… Anything really! This month it’s been a bit tough in the capital, with some really horrid stuff unfolding, so this quote reflects that and how communities always pull together in the face of extreme adversity.
‘To pull together is to avoid being pulled apart.’ – Bob Allisat.
Back in January, I announced I was going to start monthly recaps on my blog. If you missed last month’s, you can find it here. Now, as we head into July, it’s time for my sixth recap. June has been a bit of a mixed month with some serious lows as well as my usual fun. I left London twice – for a night in Bristol and four nights in Morocco, and although the beginning of the month was quiet, it picked up and now I’m very hectic again!
Getting out of London for a few nights this month felt great. It was lovely to hang out in Bristol with my sisters for a night (although I was a bit hungover and didn’t actually go out…) and returning to Morocco three years after my first trip was a dream. Once again, the weather this month has been amazing, with some really hot days perfect for park visits after work and outdoor drinking. Summer has well and truly arrived! As well as the usual nights out, I also celebrated A’s 30th birthday with her, which was lovely, caught up with some work friends who’ve left the company and enjoyed some more great cocktails at The Alchemist with J mid-month. To be honest though, June has been overshadowed by some pretty low points. Thankfully for me, none of them directly affected me, but they have made me feel extremely sad, angry and shaken at different points.
- Starting my coding course! I booked a three-part front-end coding course a while ago through work and have been looking forward to starting it for ages. And now, I finally have! And I’m enjoying it as much as I had hoped I would. It is so satisfying seeing a website emerging in front of you as you build it in the background, and seeing how all the code makes everything work as it should. Coding is very methodical and appeals to my inner perfectionist – if one bit of code is wrong, the whole site can be affected! So far, it’s been great… I just hope the rest of the course is just as good!
- Visiting Bristol for P’s birthday. This was the first time I’d left London in over a month and it felt great to be leaving the city, if I’m honest. Bristol is much more laid-back and chilled out, plus it was lovely to be able to celebrate with P’s on her actual birthday and see the new house she recently moved into! We had a very relaxing day (perfect for my hangover) where I ate literally all the food in sight. I didn’t make it out, but we had breakfast the next morning before leaving and it was just nice to be away from the bustle of London, if only for 24 hours.
- All the blue in Chefchaouen. The highlight of the month – The Blue Pearl in Morocco. I’ve been itching to visit this city for ages, ever since I saw photos of the amazing blue houses and streets on Instagram, and it definitely did not disappoint! My only regret is that we didn’t have longer there! I will be writing a much more in-depth post about Chefchaouen very soon, with lots of photos, but needless to say, our visit was great and I would return in a heartbeat. The whole city is so chilled out and we had some really lovely accommodation which made the whole holiday really relaxing.
- Visiting Borough Market to buy all the treats. A and I went last Sunday to lend our little support to the traders who’ve suffered this month following the terror attack. It was lovely to see the market bustling and full of people, and to be able to buy some beautiful fresh produce. I went all out and bought some treats – amazing cheese, the most delicious mushroom pate, some great sourdough bread and a few other things to avoid having to do a supermarket shop for a few days!
- A night out in Soho for A’s birthday. We started in the Blind Pig, but visited a few Soho bars and pubs and spent a very nice evening out in central London, a place I don’t often frequent beyond the London Bridge area. It was great to meet A’s other friends and nice that P could come along too. We ended up eating a McDonald’s at Leicester Square at 2am – by far the most touristy thing I’ve done in London since moving here!
- The wonderful weather! Although I do tend to wilt a little when temperatures soar to over 30 degrees, I have appreciated the sunshine. And it was particularly nice to come back from Morocco (where temperatures climbed to around 35-40 degrees some days) and not be plunged right back into rain and chilly weather. Makes a change to disembark from a plane in the UK and find that it’s just as warm as the country you’ve arrived from!
- The London Bridge terror attack. I live and work really quite close to London Bridge, and instantly knew something was wrong when I heard what sounded like a hundred sirens all suddenly start screaming as they tore down Kennington Park Road towards Elephant and Castle, Borough and London Bridge. A quick scan of Twitter confirmed that there was an incident unfolding at London Bridge. S and I spent the next three-four hours watching the BBC News channel. When I was sure that all of my friends and family in the city were safe, and once my friends and housemate arrived back at ours (they’d been on their way home from a festival), I just felt incredibly grateful that I wasn’t physically there. London Bridge is a regular haunt and if the attack had happened on a Friday evening, the chances are high that I may have been there, enjoying drinks after work with my colleagues. The attack shook me more than I care to admit, but now, nearly a month on, things are slowly returning to normal in the area. My heart goes out to the victims, their families and everyone else who was affected on that awful night.
- The Finsbury Park terror attack. Only a few weeks after London Bridge, another attack occurred when a man drove his van into Muslims leaving their mosque after prayers, killing one person. I think the Quote of the Day I saw on the board at Kennington Station summed up exactly how I felt about this attack: ‘An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.’ – Gandhi. Never has a truer word been spoken.
- Grenfell Tower. The fire in Grenfell Tower literally floored me. S and I were on our way to the airport to catch our flight to Morocco as news broke of the fire in White City, and I struggled to hold back tears as I read the news on the train to Stansted. Over the following days, every time I read the news, I cried, or very nearly cried. This appalling tragedy should never have even been allowed to happen and was entirely preventable. I feel incredibly angry and desperately sad about it. I’ve also felt a bit helpless, and tried to rectify this by going along and spending an afternoon last weekend helping to sort the donations at one of the community centres in the area. I will definitely be heading back to help out again soon, and to try and lend what little support I can to the community. There must be justice for what has happened and people must be held accountable. If you feel as furious and heartbroken about what has happened as I do, and want to help, I’ve added some information at the bottom of this post that will hopefully be of some use.
- The General Election. There is a slightly positive spin on the election – more 18-25 year olds than ever before came out and voted, and Corbyn and the Labour party had somewhat of a resurgence, leading to a hung parliament. Unfortunately, Theresa May (our oh so strong and stable PM) managed to prop up her considerably weakened Tory government by making a deal with the DUP. Just utter shit, basically! My sisters and I bandied around a few choice words to describe her in the following days! Selfish, hypocritical, disgraceful, opportunistic and ‘a complete shark’ were just some of the nicer ways we described her!
- Intense car sickness on the way back from Bristol. On a more personal note, I suffered some of the worst car sickness I’ve experienced in years on the bus back from Bristol! For about an hour, I struggled to stop myself from being sick, and eventually bailed on the journey at my very first opportunity – thankfully the bus stopped at Earl’s Court as well as Victoria so I could get off there. It took me about three hours to recover fully and was altogether entirely unpleasant!
Posts This Month
Book of the Month
The Long Hitch Home: Tasmania to London on a Thumb and a Prayer by Jamie Maslin. Confession: I am re-reading this book. I first read it last summer, and it was so good that I wrote to the author and fan-girled him a little bit. He sent a lovely email back thanking me for my comments. I didn’t take my laptop to Morocco so had plenty of time to catch up on some reading, and after finishing Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas (another good book, a great holiday read) I picked The Long Hitch Home up again. Jamie is a great writer, interweaving his prose with extremely interesting historical narratives on countries, including information that I literally would not have known if I hadn’t read this book. His adventures take him all the way from Tasmania, across Australia and its vast, unforgiving outback, through South-East Asia and China, across the ‘Stans and finally through Europe back to London. He hitches the entire way, camps or couch-surfs wherever possible and has some pretty great stories to tell! I’d highly recommend this book if you love anything even remotely related to travel or off-the-cuff adventure!
Instagram Pictures of the Month
My photos this month have all been from either London or Morocco. I choose these three images based on which got the most likes on Instagram and then tell the story behind the picture. Disclaimer: They are not necessarily my favourite photos!
Central Courtyard at the Riad, Fes, Morocco. Our room overlooked this beautiful courtyard at our riad in Fes and I loved the patterns, colours and symmetry so much I took this photo! We stayed at this riad on our first night in Morocco. Riads are designed to be oases of calm after the hustle and bustle of the medina beyond, and this was no exception. We were greeted by our wonderful hosts with traditional Moroccan mint tea and sweet pastries and relaxed in the courtyard to get over our journey from the UK before we went out exploring. Later on, we ate dinner there – tagine, bread, olives, salad and wine. Everything about this riad was perfect – from this literally stunning courtyard to our kind and welcoming hosts to their gorgeous twin daughters to the rooftop terrace where we read whilst the sun went down. If you ever head to Fes, I cannot recommend this place highly enough as somewhere to stay – book it here!
All the Blue, Chefchaouen, Morocco. This city more than exceeded my expectations – it blue (sorry, I had to…) them out of the water! I took this photo on our first afternoon in the city, whilst we were exploring the place to find somewhere to eat (options were limited due to it being Ramadan). This is almost the first photo I took, and I love the tranquility in the image – partly due to the overhanging shady tree, partly due to the empty benches waiting for people to sit down and take the weight off, but mainly because of that blue, which was literally everywhere. I thought I’d be fighting to take images with nobody in them throughout our time in Chefchaouen, so was pleasantly surprised when we found that contrary to this, the place is actually quite quiet (or it was when we were there) and I rarely struggled to get a shot without people in, if I didn’t want them. There will be a whole post up soon about Chefchaouen, I promise! This is just a little teasing taster…
The Patriotic Door, Notting Hill, London. I used this image alongside my post asking people to vote in the General Election, and then used it to publicise said post on Instagram. I found the door whilst out in Notting Hill back in April with my mum and sister and photographed it long before I found a use or need for the image. Now, I’m really pleased I had this on file, as it proved to be the perfect accompaniment to my plea for people to get out and vote on 7th June.
NB: If you have been affected by the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower on 14th June, I offer some links below that will direct you towards how you can help and provide support.
- Donate money to the cause here. The volunteer centres have been overwhelmed by the sheer generosity that everyone has shown in donating items such as toys, clothes, food, water and so on. There is so much stuff that sales are now being organised to generate cash for the victims, since this is what they now desperately need. So don’t donate items for the time being, unless they are specifically asked for. If you really want to make a donation and can afford to, give cash instead. All the funds raised on the pages in that link will go back into the community and exactly where the money is most needed.
- Give your time. There are loads of groups that have been set up on social media specifically seeking volunteers to give their time to help sort through all the donations at community centres, provide support to the victims and many other things besides. The group I’ve been following on Facebook which has been very organised and is this one: Grenfell Tower Volunteers Page.
- Lobby the authorities to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice and held accountable for this tragedy. Write to your local MP and ask for answers. Sign this petition asking that the government carry a full, transparent investigation into what has happened. Or simply Google ‘Petitions for Grenfell Tower‘ and you’ll find a whole heap of them to add your signature to. Lend your voice to the victims’ and other local voices and help them get the justice they deserve.