Sunday, 18 September 2016

Giving up on dating

I'm being ghosted by a boy.

It's the least I deserve as I've been guilty of doing the same. But that doesn't mean it stings any less.

For those of you not familiar with the 21st century dating lingo, ghosting is when "someone you're seeing or dating suddenly stops all communications in an attempt to show the other person that they're not interested anymore in the hopes that they will just 'get the hint'". 

John Doe, or JD as we will call him for this segment, and I met on a dating app. I know, I know, I can hear your sighs already but in my defence this was an app that my own mother recommended. We went on around four dates. I'm attempting an air of indifference but I know it's exactly four because I wrote them down in my journal (oh god, I know how this makes me sound). I thought things were going well, I really did. He ticked quite a few of the boxes on my list and made me laugh a lot. He appeared to be a functioning adult with a job he enjoyed, and it felt like he had his shit together in a way the previous men in my life didn't have.

But as with all previous relationships from which I never seem to learn, I got carried away and lulled into a false sense of security. Before I knew it the daily texts became less and less. Suddenly it would take him two days to respond to a text. Then complete radio silence that would stretch on for days before a random text would come flashing up on my screen. I'd reply only to be left hanging again for days. He hasn't suggested meeting up again leaving me to feel a little foolish and licking my wounds in the corner.

As with all 21st century dating it's a little awkward because I can see that he watches my Snapchats, so I have to make sure I look like I'm having a good time and not in the least bit bothered by his indifference.

Before the first date with JD I was psyching myself out. I'd been on so many average or just downright bad dates that I told myself: "If this doesn't work out, I'm done with dating." But the date went well, as did the subsequent others and I let myself believe for a little while that maybe, just maybe, I was close to getting done with this tiring game.

Too much hope too soon. He slowly disappeared from my life and it's my karma for having done the same to two other bad Tinder dates. 

As a result I've deleted all the dating apps from my phone, and despite the at times oppressing loneliness that I feel I've resisted the urge to revive my Tinder profile. 

I'm done dating.

I'm done getting excited about meeting a boy, I'm done with rotating my 'date clothes' and putting my best foot forward. I'm done with the 'getting to know you Spiel' and having to explain who I am and where I come from to a boy who probably isn't going to stick around. I'm done guessing how much of my personality to show and I'm done with trying to figure out how much of 'me' to share. I'm done with deciphering texts and wondering how long I should leave it before I reply. I'm done with seeing photos of guys with sedated tigers or photos of them playing rugby. I'm done with having expectations and them not even come close to being met.

Dating is exhausting, especially for me as I struggle knowing when to let my walls down. With JD thankfully I at least maintained my own Berlin style wall around my heart. So whilst I'm annoyed that he's ghosting me out of his life, I'm not upset because I didn't let him close enough to truly upset me by doing that. I've just got a bit of a bruised ego. 

At this stage of my dating cycle, I've accepted that I'm not going to find that best friend and partner in crime if I'm desperately looking. My mother keeps reminding me that she met my father when she had given up on ever finding someone. They've been married for almost 30 years now. She's also offered me some sage advice: "Just lead an active life where you meet new people. Maybe start bird watching, interesting men among them."

Apart from the bird watching she's of course right. And I know better than to judge my own value on a relationship, or lack of one. I think I've just taken so many knocks when it comes to dating that I'm so disheartened by it all.

I know that good things come unexpectedly so I'm just going to go forward taking care of myself and doing the things I love. Sooner or later the right person is going to appear in my life and hopefully I'll be smart enough to notice it when it happens.

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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Nina Eats - Afternoon Tea at The Early Bird Bakery

If you follow my Instagram, you will know that a visit to The Early Bird Bakery is pretty much a weekend ritual. I love their coffee, their breakfast and the filled donuts (so far my firm favourite is the pistachio one but the cappuccino flavour also hits the spot perfectly).

A brand new addition to the offering is their Apprentice Showcase Afternoon Tea. The Early Bird has fantastic and hard working apprentices, the afternoon tea is an amazing opportunity for them to put their skills to the test and of course show them off.

Just as with the classic afternoon tea offerings you get both sweet and savoury treats. Pick your choice of tea and you're good to go.

The tower of goodies is beautiful, with fresh colours. Some afternoon teas can suffer from being overly beige but not this one. It feels fresh, modern and well put together.

There's a wide variety of tasty nibbles on offer, from the sourdough bread with pesto and mozzarella or the crunchy slaw and ham buns. You've also got your quintessentially British finger sandwiches and accompaniments of seasonal fresh fruits.

If you're feeling hungry make sure you get yourself booked in, because there's limited availability and this is one afternoon tea you don't want to miss out on!

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Rio Rio Rio

With the Olympics in full swing I thought that now was as good a time as any to share some photos from my visits to Brazil. It's also a bit of a love letter to a city that I've fallen head over heels in love with.

My parents moved to Rio de Janeiro in the summer of 2014. The move was quite a surprise to us all and I won't lie, I was anxious and a little apprehensive. Rio De Janeiro has always been a place that appeared to be dangerous and I had little interest in visiting before the big move. 

I went out in December 2014 and fell in love instantly. Since then I've been out a further two times and my flights for a two week October visit are booked and I'm counting down the days impatiently.

Rio is almost difficult to describe, I've never been to a  city like it. It positively buzzes with colour and life. The predominant colours are the colours you can see on the Brazilian flag: blue and green.

The backdrops to the sprawling city which is home to 6,452,685 people are thick swathes of jungle and high reaching mountains. What a sight this place must have been when the Portuguese settlers arrived in 1502 after a long and dangerous sea journey across the Atlantic. They must have thought they found paradise. The natural geography means that the views from famous 'vistas' are picture perfect.

Delve into the Rio de Janeiro wikipedia entry if you want to get an idea of the long and fascinating history of the city. People often get confused and think that Rio de Janeiro, or even São Palo is the capital of Brazil. Rio did have that privilege until 1960, when Brasília became the new capital.

Rio de Janeiro feels like an urban jungle. Everywhere there is greenery and you're never too far away from the most famous beaches in the world.

But people here exist in close proximity. High rises are stacked tightly in blocks and resilient people build their homes up along the mountain, making a life for themselves. The inner city feels how I imagine New York to feel like. Bustling with excitement and life but that little bit more green. The taxis are also yellow, and also whizz past you at a dangerous speed. But the drivers are chatty and warm to you instantly.

The local 'carioca' are warm and welcoming people, people will smile at you as you walk past and will wish you a good day, even if you don't know each other. Even taking out the bins leads to small talk. Life is notoriously relaxed. When my mum has an emergency in the flat the handyman leisurely visits and his life motto is 'fica tranquilo”, which pretty much means keep calm and don't worry.  As my mum has found out though, that doesn't necessarily mean that things are under control or that you should be remaining calm.

The fascinating thing about Rio is that you can hop onto a metro, get a taxi or jump into your own car and take a short trip and in a matter of minutes you're experiencing a whole new side to this amazing city. One of my favourite moments was taking a short 20 minute car ride up into the Tijuca Jungle and visiting an old stately home tucked away in the heights. You're so far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life you feel like you're in another place entirely. 

Almost everywhere you look you can see Christ The Redeemer with his arms outstretched over the city, welcoming everyone. Construction for this iconic New Seven Wonders of the World statue began in 1922 and ended in 1931. If there's only one thing you do in Rio, you have to go up and see the statue. Seeing it in person is almost overwhelming and very moving. The view over the city is also spectacular and gives you an idea of the sheer scale of the it.

During my first visit we did all of the 'touristy' things but with my parents now being settled in their flat, we always slip into a nice little routine when I visit.

Going from Cardiff to the bright bright lights of Rio means that even every day things are exciting and a little adventure. One of my favourite Rio experiences is going to the farmers market on Tuesday's and Thursday's with my mum. We load up with big shopping bags and empty stomachs. Stall sellers entice you in with free fruit samples and the typical carioca charm ("Oh you two must be sisters!").

There's never a dull day, even going out for milk and eggs can turn into an exciting trip. Whether it's a funny encounter with a Carioca in the supermarket aisle or a Bossa Nova flashmob in the subway, there's always something to make you smile and keep your mood high. 

The beach is engrained in the Carioca. It's not just a way of life, it is life. Life revolves around the beach here, come rain or shine there will be someone at the beach. It's a 24/7 365 days a year part of life.

You can arrive in Rio without having brought anything for the beach, but you can show up ready for a beach session and be able to buy everything you need. Sellers walk around flogging swimwear, sunglasses, beach kangas (never bring a normal towel to the beach - absolute faux pas), suncream, hats, food, selfie sticks, fresh coconuts and cocktails. Service is A+, the beach is separated into invisible stripes, and each is designated to a stall holder that rents out chairs and umbrellas for shade. All of this is set up for you so you just need to sit back and relax. Brazilians aren't necessarily a fan of shade, the darker the tan the better. But for pale old me shade is non-negotiable.

In Brazil one rule goes: the smaller the bikini and swimming trunks the better. I now know where the Brazilian wax gets it's name. Spotting the male tourists is easy as they resolutely stick to the longer swim shorts variety, whereas the Brazilian men prefer the smallest swim trunks possible. My mum couldn't stop laughing when I brought my high waisted granny pant swimsuit with me. 

It's easy to feel self conscious about not having the right bikini body, but in Rio every body is a beach body, and everyone is having far too much fun living their life and enjoying it to be worried about body hangups. 

Rio is a beautiful city and like every city it has it's difficulties and challenges. It's currently under a microscope under close scrutiny during the Olympics.

I've said before, I know I am very privileged to experience Rio in the way that I do. My experiences here haven't even vaguely scratched the surface. But I try to educate myself and keep an open mind. I see the people who struggle to get through their normal day, I see extreme poverty and I question the prudence of hosting these expensive games. But I also hope that the so far smooth running of the games has endeared Rio de Janeiro, and Brazil, to the hearts of many just as it has done to me.

There's just something about this amazing city that has just captured my heart. There's no wonder why they call it 'Cidade Maravilhosa' - Marvellous City. 

My passport is lying impatiently in my desk drawer, ready for that new Brazil entry stamp to be inked on it. I can't wait.

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