My Employee Went to Croatia & All I Got Was a Lousy Resignation Letter

here “Oh without a doubt it was when I worked in a call centre. Sometimes, when driving to work, I’d fantasise about my car crashing so i’d have an excuse to not turn up for my shift. When it got to the point where I’d rather be hospitalised than go to work, I knew it was time to quit.”

source url “Mine was working at Fatso’s – never again do I want to use a spoon to butter loaf after loaf of bread.”

As me and my friends from university sat around the pool in our Air Bnb in Croatia, discussing our worst ever jobs, it suddenly dawned on me; my current place of employment had slowly but surely won that title. I was barely earning any money, working more hours than I was being paid for and getting stressed and nearly crying almost every single day.

Sure, not everyone loves their job, sometimes you just have to get on with things, but when you look back more fondly on your time stacking shelves in The Spar for £1.50 an hour and being held hostage* by the owner, it’s a pretty clear sign something has to change.

So I quit.

I did the one thing you’re not meant to do when you’re working class – I walked out of a job without having another one lined up. I didn’t even have so much as an up to date CV ready.

“It’s easier to find a job while you’re in a job”, a favoured saying from my father that I’ve heard over the years. Whenever I’ve toyed with quitting a job, he’s sandwiched that phrase into a lecture and it rung in my ears as I typed up my resignation letter on the balcony. I pushed these thoughts to the back of my head and reminded myself of how happy and supportive my friends had been when I said I wanted to jack it in. They had seen first hand over the past few months how miserable the job was making me. I hit save on the draft of the letter and promised myself I wouldn’t go back on this.

Within hours of landing in England my resignation letter was sent to my boss and that was it, I was home and unemployed.

And here we are.

I’ve finally done what I always wanted to do – given myself the time to have a go at pursuing a career I’m actually passionate about and you know what? I’m petrified.

I’ve no savings, in fact I’m in debt, I have no rich family to fall back on and sadly, no wealthy aunt who’ll pop her clogs soon and leave me an inheritance. I have rent to make, burritos to buy and a new fondness for having fresh flowers in the house; an indulgence I’m keen to keep up. I haven’t left a well paid job so It’s not that much money I’ll be missing each week but I still can’t believe I’ve actually done this and finally taken the risk.

This could be the best thing that’s ever happened to me, I could go all #GirlBoss and thrive on being self employed, or I could end up back working behind a bar once again. Either way, what I know for sure right now is this working class guilt and nervous feeling in my stomach sure beats the feeling of crippling anxiety from working a job that was slowly sending me crazy.

*another story for another time – promise. 

Quit job

See also: GRAZIA: Welcome to my Heartbreak Hotel

 

#BiteMeDublin A Halloween Weekend in Ireland

Scarlett and I really don’t have the best track record when it comes to European jaunts. As you may have read in previous blogs, our trip to Belgium a couple of months ago proved that while I may have many talents, none of them lie in event organisation. From arriving at the wrong airport, to not having any accommodation booked for the last night, it’s safe to say I won’t be taking the reigns again any time soon when it comes to holiday planning. 

Luckily for us, our recent visit to Dublin was overseen by Ireland’s tourist board who planned absolutely everything for us. Things went a lot smoother this time; a hell of a lot smoother. Well, they couldn’t prevent us from making Horrible Life Decisions ™ but to be fair, no one can.

Here’s our diary from what went down when we did Halloween festivities Ireland style.

http://cesurteknik.com/lg-klima-servisi/ Friday 23rd October

With a 6.30am flight from John Lennon Airport starting our day off, you’d think we’d be sensible and get our heads down early on Thursday night. But no, this is us; we don’t make choices that actively make our lives better – we make decisions that involve copious amounts of prosecco. When the alarm pierced my ears at 4am, Scarlett had managed a good three hours kip, while I had dozed off for a grand total of zero minutes and conjured up some stupid idea that I would catch up on all my sleep on the half an hour flight. Fast forward a few hours and we’re in a taxi to the hotel, stuck in horrendous traffic, with me sticking my head out the window, like a dog, in order to stay awake. Good start, Zoe.

Severely sleep deprived and ratty, my mood soon picked up the second we arrived at The Morrison. I was already excited to stay at the luxury hotel, just across from the River Liffey and only minutes from the famous Temple Bar quarter, but things really stepped up a notch when I learned we’d been given separate rooms for our stay! I love Scarlett, I really do, but after a week of having friends crash at mine, I was ready for some alone time. I bailed on her in the hotel lobby and ran up to my room where I got excited over the fact the telly had my name splashed across it when turned on and by the complimentary embossed umbrella in the wardrobe. Yep, basic umbrellas with hotel logos embossed on them impress me more than they should.

penthouse

One of the gorgeous penthouse rooms at The Morrison

Where We Ate 

After attempting a quick nap, we headed over to The Church to grab some lunch and meet the rest of the press group. Dublin is twinned to the city of Liverpool (as well as Barcelona) and converting old churches into breathtaking social venues is just one of the many similarities the two places share (Alma De Cuba being the Scouse equivalent.) The Church is at the heart of Dublin’s thriving bar and restaurant scene and the history surrounding the building means that you get so much more than a bite to eat when you call in.

We were lucky enough to have a guided tour of the listed grounds, even down to The Burial Crypts; where extensive excavation work had to take place during the conversion of the church in order to remove the skeletal remains. We also learned some interesting facts and anecdotes* along the way; such as the tale that the famous Arthur Guinness’ wife pushed out 21 children during her time on this earth. Yes, you read that correctly – twenty one. She must have spent the majority of her adult life sober and raising kids – every glass of Guinness should be toasted to her, the poor woman.

*Apparently many weren’t that interesting as Scarlett informed me I was boring people with my excessive tweeting of these supposedly ‘fun facts’. Apologies to anyone following me that day. I guess apologies 

What We Did

Kayaking! Yes, I know what you’re thinking – just what one wants on a cold, October afternoon; severely sleep deprived and full from lunch. It’s also an activity in which you should wear something more durable and warm than flimsy leggings and a cardigan. However, even with all the odds stacked against me (those mentioned, and the fact I struggle to walk without falling over on dry land) I was psyched to get on the water and see Dublin from a different perspective. I managed to last the full session without capsizing and making an absolute show of myself  – I am half considering updating my CV to include this fact.

As we sailed under the 18th Century O’Connell Bridge and the iconic Ha’Penny Bridge, I soon learned that, despite my enthusiasm and positivity, I am horrendous at kayaking. I somehow struggled to oar in a straight line and spent half my time stuck against side of the bank; angrily splashing about and trying to catch up with the rest of the group. Special mention to the heckler on the bridge, who when seeing me struggling, decided to yell “This is the spot where all the murderers dump the dead bodies.’ Thanks mate.

 

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On our way to steal your man….

Where We Drank

Okay, spoiler alert for the rest of this piece – we drank a lot. I’m talking even Lindsay Lohan in her prime would deem our drinking a bit excessive lot. From the minute we went for lunch at The Church and got a large wine down our necks, we were pretty much on it until we got on the flight home on Monday. When in Rome do as the Romans do, and when in Ireland, do as the Irish do – drink!

Now on possibly my 38th hour awake, it would same a safe bet to assume I limited myself to a couple of night caps after cocktails and dinner at the gorgeous Woollen Mills. But no, 3am and I’m still going strong with the group in The Temple Bar; downing tequila shots and attempting to dance to the live music. FOMO works better at keeping you awake than any energy drink and pro plus could ever dream of doing.

I stumbled back to my room and proceeded to raid the mini bar. Drunk Me thought she was the height of stealth, carefully placing back the empty tubs and bottles into the fridge; thinking the hotel would be none the wiser. Drunk Me is an absolute idiot.

mini bar

Good on, Zo – I’m sure they won’t notice that those tubs no longer contain any sweets

Saturday 24th October

It’s 9am. I’m trying to ignore the pounding at my door, courtesy of Still hammered from last night Scarlett but that girl is one persistent bitch. Eventually I grab my dressing gown, answered the door (still sporting full smokey eyes and red lips from the night before) and politely declined her offer to join her on a walking tour of Viking Dublin. She may tell you a different tale; one that involves me slamming a door in her face and mumbling “Fuck the Vikings” but she’s lying. She once told me kale cooked in the oven is a great alternative for kettle chips – she can’t be trusted, that one.

Anyway, if you’re at all interested in the history of Ireland and the Vikings then go for a drink with Jen; I’m sure she’ll love to tell you all the knowledge she acquired whilst stumbling around Dublin with a tour guide, still bladdered from the night before.

What We Did (Once My Hangover Disappeared)

After getting a Guinness pie in me at the Norseman Pub, I was a lot keener for the next group activity; a Food and Fashion Walking tour. Guided by The Irish Time’s Fashion Editor, Deirdre McQuillan, we wandered around the city; sampling bagels and exquisite chocolate, learning all about Dublin’s up and coming designers and discovering that my big head can even make a 2 grand Phillip Tracey masterpiece look horrendous.

The evening saw us attend the event I had most been looking forward to since I first scanned the itinerary: ‘Hushed’ at Marsh’s Library. The whole reason we had made the speedy flight over to Ireland the weekend before Halloween was to experience The Bram Stoker festival. Across the city, events took places during the day and night; 4 Days of Living Stories and 4 Nights of Deadly Adventures. 

dubs

Artwork from Oscar winning designer Annie Atkins

Taking place at Marsh’s library, where Dracula author Bram Stoker spent many a night researching ghouls, legends and mythology, ‘Hushed’ was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience of Dublin’s most famous buildings, cloaked in the dark of night. Led by an all singing, and chanting, emsemble, we made our way round with only the candle light to guide us. With no cameras or mobiles allowed, there were certainly no distractions and we got the Heebie Jeebies during our after hours tour.  

Sunday 25th October

You know that kind of hangover where you wake up and the minute raise your head from the pillow you consider calling an ambulance to come save you from the hell you know you’ve got in store for the rest of the day? Well, that’s how I started our last full day in Dublin. Surprise surprise, we had overdone it on the ale yet again the night before. I’d gotten so drunk in the fabulous Liquor Rooms that I managed to lose they key card to my room. Not a problem, the reception kindly provided me a another card which I then proceeded to lose while making my way to my second floor room. Massive respect to the night porter for not even rolling his eyes at me as I sheepishly asked for a second replacement card in less than seven minutes.

What We Did

“The fresh air will do you good, blow away the cobwebs” everyone told me, as I scolled at them.

Yes, in the midst of The Hangover From Hell ® I was about to embark of a light cliff walk to the fishing village of Howth. Turns out, despite my claims at the time, they were indeed correct. As we made our way across the cliffs, towards the restaurant we’d be dining at (That’s how you trick me into physical exertion whilst I’m hungover – the promise of food at the end) my pounding headache and nausea vanished – so much so I decided to order a wine with my oysters at Ivans.

#LifeHack If you have never tried oysters before, and are unsure to whether you will like them, DO NOT, i repeat, DO NOT order them for the first time when you’re starving and hungover. 

howth

 

The evening saw explore the weird and wonderful events that have taken place in times gone by; unearthing legends and ghosts from the past on the Gravedigger Ghost Bus Tour of Dublin.

Given the fact my travel sickness once saw me vomit on top of a Barcelona tour bus, the real horror story could have been me transforming into the little girl from The Exorcist but luckily for everyone on board, all was fine. Making our way round the city, we learnt all about phantom pigs, haunted jails and Scarlett and I even got involved as look outs* for the some rogue body snatchers before ending up having a drink at the Gravedigger’s Pub. God bless the Irish for managing to get ale involved with absolutely everything.

*Finally, skills acquired in my misspent youth come in handy.

grave

We sat at the back of the bus and stole everyone’s dinner money.

We then pottered down to the Project Art Centre for New Blood – a hedonistic vampire party to mark the end of The Bram Stoker Festival. When we’d spoke to the artistic director, Tom Lalor the night before, he had given us the brief for the dress code: “Imagine if FKA Twigs and Rihanna opened a strip club in Vegas.”

We tried, we really did, but our efforts with black eyeliner acting as lipstick looked pathetic in contrast to some of the stunning creations wandering around the place. Had Miley Cyrus had wandered in, wearing one of her most creative outfits, she’d have gone unnoticed – the costume game was strong.

Spread out across four spaces, one minute you’d find yourself immersed in an art installation, the next an electro rave, then on the terrace enjoying b(lo)body tonics at the shot bar. Needless to say, staying true to our form for the whole weekend, we full embraced the bespoke cocktails whilst admiring such a sharp bite of contemporary Irish culture.

New Blood was the perfect way to end our trip; we had learned so much about the history of Ireland over the three days we were there but this was a great insight into Ireland’s bright, modern future.

Dublin, you were an absolute ball and we will undoubtedly be back in the very near future*. Well, as soon as my liver as recovered.
*We really do have to return soon – we didn’t have time to visit the Leprechaun museum and how can I go on in life having not visited such a place now I know it exists.

See also: A Weekend In Birmingham

GRAZIA: Welcome to my Heartbreak Hotel

I’ve only gone and got myself a feature in this week’s Grazia magazine, a cover story no less, and I’m really, really psyched about it. If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed my excessive retweeting of all my loved ones and their copies of the magazine. If you don’t, than lucky you – you’ve been spared my spam.

It’s out to buy in shops until Tuesday but if you don’t love me enough to spend 2 quid to read it, here’s the PDF version!

(But you should buy it, even if you hate me – it includes a voucher for 25% off River Island!)

Little anecdote: When I excitedly lashed a picture of the article on my Snapchat story the first person to view it was my ex boyfriend who inspired the article which I thought would be the most awkward person to view it but I was wrong. A few hours later one of the Icelandic boys we met in Brussels (read the story about them here) had a look at my story. The one whose face is plastered all over the magazine. I hadn’t mentioned he would be in a UK magazine. Jen had also told him I was 20, not 26 like it says in bold in print. He had no idea we were on some heartbreak bender.

I wonder if he managed to get a copy in Iceland?

Grazia_Page_1

 

Grazia_Page_2

My Big Fat Greek Holiday

My last trip to Europe, if you recall, was to Brussels (Belgium) and was a bit of a disaster, culturally. Not much got done, bar one museum trip, other than excessive drinking, making bad life decisions, and learning all about Iceland’s weird incest problem via a night of boozing with some fellow tourists. In our defence, when a city’s number one attraction is a tiny statue of a boy pissing into a fountain, maybe our decision to basically just get on the ale for two days was for the best.

Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis – Just a 5 minute walk from the Irish bar we were drinking in….and we still didn’t see it.

A few weeks later, towards the end of September, I found myself in Greece for a week with an old Uni friend. You may have thought, given the fact I barely saw any of Belgium other than inside bars, I would perhaps try and see the most of Greece; maybe some ruins, visit a famous lagoon, or even pop over to Athens for the day.

You didn’t really think that of me, did you? Shame on you.

No, we had one aim for the holiday, and it was to spend as much time of it in the sun; reading and eating until our bikini’s became snug. 7 days and 5 books later, I was tanned, full of feta cheese and struggling to put my jeans on for the flight.

Here’s a few things I learnt while basking in the heat:

1. Running for a plane is scary

Before any of you smug sorts start, I am one of you – I have no time for anyone that turns up at an airport without a passport and I judge people who seem to think that being on the last minute is something to be proud of. Hear me out. We arrived at the airport a handsome six hours early – so bloody early that we couldn’t even check in and get through security. We had no choice but to get bladdered in a Wetherspoons and miss our calling hours later. As we ran past 70 gates to catch the plane before it departed without us, I thanked God I’d hammered the gym for the past few weeks.

plane

It’s not as fun as it looks in the films

2. Raki tastes like paint stripper but is strangely addictive 

We were first introduced to the Greek’s drink of choice via a resident piss head at our hotel bar. It burnt the back of my throat and I wondered why everyone was so keen for it. Fast forwarded seven days, I’m in the local offy buying water bottles filled with the stuff. Apparently the honey flavoured stuff is great for keeping colds at bay *Hiccups as writing*

3.”The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry”

With me being into my politics (aka boring all my friends at 4am after a few drinks and droning on about the impending privatisation of the NHS), I have had a passing interest in Greece’s politics of late. Realising they were to have an election of sorts while we over there, I had some grand ideas; maybe I’d take my dictaphone and do some crowd sourcing of the locals opinions? Perhaps I’d do a live blog of the results as they happened?

The reality? I noted that they were many A for Anarchy signs graffiti around the place and that’s about as deep as I delved into Greek politics. Also, I got out of the pool and toasted Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory with some dirt cheap prosecco with my friend. Champagne Socialism at it’s finest.

Secondly, prior to landing in Greece, I had well voiced my intent of getting at least 20 lengths done in the hotel pool before breakfast (a healthy fruit option, of course) and perhaps a few hikes – coming back with a tanned, toned body.

That was the plan. What actually happened was that I managed 12 laps on the first day and then started having Barcadi Breezers for breakfast….

4. As soon as you’re out of the country, all your taste leaves you

I like to think of myself as a classy drinker; after years of working behind a bar, turning my nose up at anyone ordered a WKD (and pronouncing it Wicked – the worst sort), I’m the kind of girl to order an Old Fashioned on a night out these days.

Get me in the sun with a cheap bar metres away and I’m all about the Orange Bacardi Breezers and a cheap Marlboro Light. Bloody Brits abroad, eh?

Most shameful thing about all this is that our small, quiet apartments had to actually make a run to the local wholesalers to get more Breezers in, solely for us. Don’t worry – I’m writing them a glowing Trip Advisor review as soon as I’m done.

5. I’m an accident waiting to happen

I hurt my knee quite badly one day. Did I fall over drunk? Get too into Greek dancing?

No. On a bus back from the old town, my thunder thighs had become quite sweaty. When I stood to get off, the sweat on my legs caused me to slip and fall, quite dramatically, onto a step.

It’s a shock I’m single.

6. Greece’s economy is great for a tourist

I feel for Greece at the moment but once I learnt I could get basically half a bottle of wine in a glass for 2 euros, I quickly stopped thinking politics and switched my thoughts to just how much food and drink I could get into my system.

We ate like kings for a week and I still spent way less than I had done in Malia nearly 10 years ago.

7. Karaoke is fun

At our local restaurant, where we had dinner every night (it was a choice between three places and one of those had an pissed up owner who would forget to bring you your order), we made friends with the two young girls working there. They begged us to do karaoke, as they’d only ever heard their manager’s rendition of Frank Sinatra’s hits every week for the past six months. We protested, claimed it wasn’t our thing, but then a few wines and rakis later and we were giving one hell of a performance of Alesha Dixon’s ‘classic’ The Boy Does Nothing.

We then hogged the mic for the remainder of the night and argued with Pam and George (The Ex-Pats in charge of the evening) when it was time to wind down. If you happened to be dining there that evening, I can only apologise.

8. Working by a pool is amazing 

I still had work to be done while I was away (don’t feel too sorry for me, I’m cramming a lot of jaunts abroad this year) so I had to take my Mac Book* with me and crack on by the pool a few days. It was amazing – give me some sun and the incentive I can take a dip once I’ve hit 500 words and I’m the most productive woman in the world.

*Apologies I said Mac Book when laptop would have sufficed. I’ve only recently got one and can’t stop showing off.

9. It’s great to switch off

Although I had to work now and again still, it was actually great to switch off. My job requires me to constantly be on my phone and connected to the internet. It was boss to be away with someone who barely checked their phone which rubbed off on me.

While on one my little browses of Twitter (well, I wasn’t going to go cold turkey), I found this great post from Girl Lost In The City about how to handle your time online. I’m still yet to get the correct balance but it was a great blog.

10. Buying actual reputable sun care products is grown up and wise 

I’m normally a girl who gets the cheapest sun cream on the shelf. However, I spent a couple of quid over my normal 99p budget and reaped the benefits. Reaching the end of my twenties (*gulp*), ageing of the skin is a number one concern and these beauties from Nivea and Euceriin were worth every penny. Same goes for splashing out on a decent bikini – as I mention over on my blog about boobs. Big up Bravissimo.

Hotel, Flights & Transfer (which was just a taxi for two of us): £300

Spending Money: £280 changed over into Euros. A couple of presents and duty free treats put on card.

Total: Roughly £600 for a week of non stop eating and drinking in the sun.

Greece, you were an absolute pleasure. Maybe one day I’ll come back and actually explore a bit of you.

Next, Berlin….

Things We Learned in Brussels

Because naturally, when dealing with break ups, me and Scarlett decided to go on a 48 Hour Bender in Brussels.

Iceland has an incest problem

You know the classic tale; one minute you’re taking creep shots of a group of lads, mocking them, and then the next you’re having the time of your life with them; laughing so loud the other tables are looking over and you’re certainly reinforcing the stereotype of English people abroad.
5 minutes after this was taken, we were swapping SnapChat names & having to slyly delete this before they saw it. We're not nice people.

5 minutes after this was taken, we were swapping SnapChat names & having to slyly delete this before they saw it.

Turns out that while they may have had dubious taste in hairstyles, they made up for it for their sense of humour. While we didn’t know much about Belgium, and still don’t, we’re now up to speed about little old Iceland. Mainly that they have an incest problem so bad, an app has been created to help them stop accidentally shagging their cousins. I mean, dating is hard in England but to be fair, none of us ever have to worry that we’ll go round for a roast at our new fella’s house and, when flicking through the family album, learn we actually share a great granddad or something. No, all we have to worry about is maybe our friends matched with them on Tinder too, or necked them on the park when they were 14.

Current Mood: Feeling blessed that the only app required for dating in England is Tinder, not an anti incest register.

French is the local dialect in Brussels

Oh, you already knew that? Turns out it’s just me and Scarlett that are ignorant and mooted whether ‘Belgish’ is a language before we landed.

No one checks your tram tickets

So don’t fret if you haven’t got change, just keep hold of your old ticket and take the risk. Then again, they’re only 2 euros, so unless dodging small transport fares is the only way you can feeling alive, perhaps just buy one and wait for karma to reward your honesty?

You can visit the whole of Europe in less than a few hours

Located at the foot of the Atomium, MINI-EUROPE is the only park where you can have a whistle-stop tour around Europe in a few short hours. And lets face it, your dad is going to absolutely love it.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

“I’ve seen it all now, I don’t need to go anywhere else. Here’s me under the Effiel Tower, me next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa – not as big as it looks, I’m almost as tall as it hahaha. Oooo this one’s a good one, it’s me ‘pushing’ your mum off the gondola. People are daft paying to go all over Europe – Brussels has got it all under one roof and it only takes a couple of hours to do everything.” – Your dad after you booked him and your mum a trip to Brussels for their anniversary. Your mum just stares at you, rewriting her will to cut you out.

Go for your dad. He needs this – he’s had a tough year with Clarkson getting sacked and all that.

(Full disclosure: We didn’t go but I read the pamphlet cover to cover whilst hungover, just thinking ‘What a time to be alive’)

The people of Belgium aren’t that arsed about Jennifer Aniston getting married

Reading that Jen An got hitched, yelling the news to your mate, then fist pumping with joy, just gets you pity smiles from the waiting staff. They must not know that if Jennifer Aniston is happy, you too will be happy.

Making friends with chefs and waiters of the restaurant you eat in is always a good idea

They’ll take you to cool dive bars that have coffins for tables and a job lot of skeletons knocking about. They’ll teach you to swear in Italian and French and you in exchange, introduce them to Scouse dialect. You may have laughed but you’ve never truly laughed until you’ve heard an Italian yelling “Yer ma has a baldy head and collects footy stickers” at his mate.

The above is not a good idea a couple of hours before your flight

Everything seems like an excellent life choice when you’re on your 13th hour of drinking. It’s not when you’re on a airport floor with a school trip screaming around you as you try not to vomit out the result of two days of constant boozing.

Total costs for Tuesday night – Friday morning:

Flights: £40 return

Accommodation: £80 (£40 per person)

Spends: £202 (converted into 280 euros. This covered ridiculous taxis due to me being a moron who can’t pick the right airport and one hell of a lot of ale.)

Cellulite Reduction Cream: £25 Purchased slightly pissed after a day of suffering from chubby rub and catching my refecltion of dimply thighs. An Amazon package upon arriving home, hungover, is always nice… i guess.

Total: £307

Verdict: If there’s a cheap flight and you’re in the mood to booze in a pretty location, go for it. I suspect it’s absolutely gorgeous around Christmas time. But to be honest, there’s not much to do but get on the ale  – not that that’s a bad thing.

Next stop: Greece (Read about that trip here)

48 Hours in Brussels

This is only the first few hours in Brussels because I’m too tired and lazy to write up the rest of the trip yet.

‘What we going to do while we’re in Brussels? Like I know nothing about Belgium –  do you know where we should go etc?”

“Well, I put a Tweet up yesterday asking for suggestions…..”

The Tweet in question implied I had throughly researched the city in Belgium; that I merely wanted some extra pointers on top of my basic Trip Advisor etc Googling. I hadn’t. The follow up Tweet suggested I knew more of what the city had to offer than merely the small statue of a pissing boy. I didn’t. Neither did Scarlett. Embarrassingly, we couldn’t be 100% sure of what language was spoken over there. The replies to Tweet were either well wishes for our travels or suggestions to go to Bruges instead; thanks, internet – helpful. We were going in blind.

Or should that be blind drunk?* At Manchester airport we ensured we were just as intoxicated as we were ignorant. Look, when you’re nervous about flying sometimes you need several vodka tonics on a empty stomach. In fact, I fully endorse this tactic as, having a blood stream 67% full of vodka really helped us cope with the following two problems:

*I’m sorry. That is a truly awful dad joke and I will see myself out. 

20 minutes before the plane was due to land, we were grounded for refuelling for around an hour

Plane 1

Killing time while we were grounded taking selfies. Hate us.

Nightmare. Obviously some obnoxious English girls had made friends with a couple of Welsh lads and were trying to blag the air hostesses to let them off for a ciggie and to get the ale served again. Arseholes.*

*It was us. We took selfies to make it even worse. Apologies if you were on this flight. But if we’re all being honest, we were more entertaining than the screaming toddlers.

Arriving at the wrong city

When we finally got going again and arrived at our destination, it became abundantly clear that some scatter brained bimbo had booked the wrong airport and we had, in fact, landed in Brussels South Charleroi, rather than Brussels. So our accommodation that was merely 15 minutes away via a cheap train was now actually over an hour away in an expensive taxi. The cheap flights suddenly didn’t seem like such a bargain now – well in, dickhead.*

*The dickhead i am talking about is me. Mad respect to Scarlett for not giving me a nasty Chinese Burn once she realised what I had done. 

The accommodation was booked via the crazy new concept, airbnb. I dub it a crazy new concept because, while you and me may have heard for it for a while, The Daily Mail has yet to run an expose on the ‘dangers of holidaying in stranger’s home’ and your mum finds the whole thing ‘a little bit dodgy sounding if I’m being honest, Zoe.’ If you’re unaware of the concept, airbnb simply allows anyone to rent out there space to those travelling through their city; could be an entire flat they own, a spare room, or even just a bed – there’s a price range for everyone and it’s a dream for if you’re ballin’ on a budget (aka ‘doing things on the cheap’ if you want to talk boring.) Even Mariah Carey is making a bit of extra pocket money on there!

Sword

Our host was wonderful considering we were over three hours late and had kept him up past midnight. He showed us to our floor, which featured interesting decor (Do you get a samurai sword in a Holiday Inn? No. You get questionable bed sheets and a feeling of despair in the air), and we got a few hours sleep before we started what can only be described as a two day bender in Belgium where horrible life decisions were made……

More once this hangover has finally checked out!

See also: #BiteMeDublin A Halloween Weekend In Ireland

A Weekend In Birmingham

Break ups, job stress, money woes or just that general “I hate the world so much that I’ll even snarl inanimate objects” PMT – we can all have a shitty time of it now and again. You tend to just hide under your duvet; binge watching Netflix, whilst simultaneously scoffing junk food and moaning about your weight gain. At least, I think that’s what happens – I wouldn’t know, as when you’ve got Scouse Bird as a friend she doesn’t let that happen. She tells you to pack a bag and whisks you off for a glamorous weekend away. The destination? Birmingham. Now, don’t scoff; the Midlands city and the word glamorous may not be synonymous to you but, after this weekend, I’m calling bullshit on anyone who slags off England’s 2nd city (That’s right – Birmingham officially has that status so pipe down Mancs.) Here’s what the West Midlands has to offer:

Shopping

Liverpool, I love you but you really need to up your shopping game. While Liverpool One is a welcome alternative to generic  shopping centres like The Trafford Centre and Westfield, we desperately need a designer injection (first world problems and all that). While I personally sometimes struggle to justify splurging on a River Island bag, it would be nice to see Selfridges, Harvey Nichols or Louis Vuitton open their doors in Liverpool for those able to finance the #WagLyf. Birmingham residents don’t have this problem; not only have they got the high street shops for my fellow Primark Prins, they also host a flagship Selfridges amongst their abundance of designer stores -Lucky Brummies.IMG 6271

Although the stunning building is filled with enough bag porn to make you consider selling a kidney on the Black Market, the highlight of the shopping experience was discovering a stall that created personalised Nutella tubs. For just £3.99, you can wander round town with that iconic yellow shopping bag and no one will know that all you’ve actually bought is a tub of chocolately goodness that literally has your name written all over it.

The Hotel & Spa

Birmingham New St station may have recently had £600 million redevelopment but when we arrived on a Saturday morning, we discovered that they seem to have neglected to get a good few taxi pick up points on the go. In what was set to become a recurring theme of the weekend, we struggled to flag a cab down. I swear to God I will never slag off Delta again –black cabs in Birmingham are harder to get hold of than an interview with Lauren Goodger in which she doesn’t mention Mark Wright (together 10 years, yano?).

Trusty Google Maps informed us it was only a 10 minute walk but obviously didn’t factor in the fact we were in heels and Birmingham loves a cobbled street almost as much as Liverpool. When we finally arrived at Hotel Indigo, situated in The Cube within The Mailbox (yeah, it all got a bit Marc Jacobs Inception-ish) we were certainly ready to abuse the hotel’s spa facilities (excluding the gym – ain’t nobody got time for that on Saturday.)

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Now, we all know the best massages you can get are the ones your fella gives you, before he gets bored after 5 minutes and stops (it really is sod’s law) but the hotel’s masseuses are some serious competition. The hour was ridiculously relaxing and, due to the fact we accidently booked a couple massage, I even heard Scouse Bird doze off; I had to resist temptation to whisper to her masseuse “Pssttt, it’s a waste of a massage on her now – double team me and get working on my feet.”

The hotel room was stylish, modern and had actually been designed by someone with a bit of common sense; plug sockets located next to beds and mirrors! A nice little extra was the TV speakers in the bathroom so you can listen to Louis Walsh chatting shite on The X Factor while you’re getting ready (although, come to think of it – I’m not sure whether that’s a plus after all).

Another rather big bonus is that breakfast is served until a Godly hour – 11am! Of course, we still managed to miss it and had to head to Bar Bodga for their offerings of burritos and hair of the dog cocktails, but still, the thought was appreciated.

Food and drink

Our first sampling of Birmingham’s food scene was a Saturday night dinner reservation atCielo – a premier Italian restaurant by Brindley Place. After a taxi drama (of course there was), we were running a bit late and found ourselves wandering around an area of chain restaurants, trying to locate, and correctly pronounce when asking for directions, Cielo. However, silver lining – as we wandered around the streets of Birmingham, we learnt just how admiring the local lads can be. Seriously, they are not shy about telling you that they think you look good. If you can’t afford Paris for an ego boost, head down the M6 to be showered in compliments (in an appropriate way, not a creepy street harassment way).

Back to the important stuff – food. Italian’s love their carbs and cheese so we knew we were onto a winner before we even ordered but Cielo really exceeded expectations. With accompanying vodka cocktails, Prosecco and a gorgeous ambience, Cielo was a warm, scrumptious dining experience.

 

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Next on the itinerary were cocktails at The Edgbaston. While our taxi driver struggled to find it, he can be forgiven as the exclusive drinking spot is seemingly unmarked and, to the unknowing eye, just appears to be an old stately home. From the second you enter, you feel like you’re at a Great Gatsby party (a classy one, not the ones students have with a job lot of their mum’s pearls and kitten heels).

Taking residence for the evening in one of the bars of the boutique hotel and cocktail lounge, we steadily worked our way through their extensive offering of drinks – all for research purposes, of course. Their cocktails are a little pricier than your average ‘241’ offerings of Sex on the Beach but the quality of the alcohol, exceptional service and general environment makes it worth splashing out. Example? Well, order the ‘Crumble’ cocktail and as you sip on the mix of dark rum, fresh lime and Bramley apple, pear & crumble syrup, the area around you will be sprayed to smell like custard to ‘accompany your crumble’! Well played, Birmingham – well played.

 

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It’s easy to see how you can enter The Edgbaston, intending to just have one, and still be there, hours on, drinking your way around the world’s cocktail offerings – we certainly did. Before we knew it, it was half one and we realised we’d missed last entry to the club we planned to attend – whoops.

Does the second city get a second date?

It most certainly does. Like Liverpool, Birmingham suffers from an unfair image problem now and again but it’s an extremely cosmopolitan city with plenty on offer. Next time a tour neglects to visit Liverpool, rather than nipping over to Manchester and rushing to get the last train home etc, I’ll seriously consider nipping down for the Birmingham date and making a weekend out of it. The Midlands is much closer than I realised too – just 1 hour 40 minutes on a train.

With Christmas sneaking up on us, and Birmingham hosting the biggest Christmas markets outside of Germany, it’s the perfect UK destination to go and give the credit card a work out.

XOXO

Originally published for Scouse Bird Problems. Below are some links to more content I have provided for the site:

Restaurants – Pack It In

Men to Avoid 

Valentine’s Day for Side Chicks

New Year, New Positivity

Who is Your Champion?

Where Are All The Fit Men in Liverpool?

Nu Clinic: Mother Pucker

10 Reasons You Need to Ink