The Accessible Art Show

I didn’t know much about the Accessible Art Show other than it was an art exhibition at the Solent University’s Spark, where I work. The term ‘Accessible’ sparked my curiosity though. I initially thought it referred to the accessibility of the building it was held at but no.

It was Accessible because there was something for everyone. Paintings, digital art, pottery, sculptures and many of the artists were there to have a chat with. There were people drawing, painting, creating there and then, incredible atmosphere and all for free (there was also an online auction going on at the same time where anyone could bid to buy the artwork on display, which has now closed). Local art, accessible to all. A great selection of incredible art by superbly talented local artists.

I bumped into Richard, the That’s TV journalist I was chatting to half an hour earlier at the Communicare Fair. He put together a little video on the exhibition, published yesterday. You might spot a familiar face!

I’m glad I decided to pop by, despite my tiredness. I absolutely loved it. I had a wander, taking snaps of the pieces that caught my eye and coming up with my own stories about them. That’s what art is all about.

One of my favourite was Evelyn Bartlett’s ‘Perfect Day‘. That’s how I, often, when I need to go to my happy place and calm my mind, imagine my Perfect Day to be. Sometimes a warm early morning watching the sunrise and other times a warm afternoon watching the sunset, always by the beach, listening to the gorgeous sound of waves.

But there were many many more. Here’s the rest of my favourites from Pip Webb’s Jazz Tree-O (I hear Jazz in my head every time I look at it), Mick Dixon’s Pottery to David Mc Diarmid’s Harry Potter-esque Griffin sculpture. Have a look yourself. Make up your own stories. Enjoy.

Thank you to all the organisers. What a great event at the centre of our city.



Blogmas day 2- the Etsy festive market

Sunday 2nd of December

Today it’s all about the Etsy Local Festive market. I love everything handmade, personalised, unique, creative and to have all the local creative talent under one roof is pretty special.

It’s the second year it’s been running and though I loved the first one, the venue was way too small and couldn’t spend much time on each stall. I hate it when others are behind me waiting, especially knowing there was a queue outside.

But this year it was held at the Spark, our University’s enormous posh modern establishment and I looked forward to it.

After my morning coffee, I sometimes wonder what I’d do with out it, I can’t function, I can’t speak to another human being until I had a sip at least, I got ready. 

I felt like doing something different with my hair, I was aiming for wavy and ended up curly, not sure I liked it, but I never seem to get it right, maybe cause I don’t practise enough. Any advice ladies and gents would be very much appreciated!

And of course I couldn’t not wear another Christmas jumper. For the last 4-5 years I’ve started a few Christmas traditions I maybe one day will pass on to my family, if I ever have one, or inspire others to do something similar. One of them is to buy a new Christmas jumper every year. I threw away one or two, they reminded me of a darker time in my life I don’t need a reminder for but I have already a collection of 3-4. I can’t wait to get one for this year.

After a short stroll through the buzzing with people, Christmas music and beautiful smells city centre I made it to the Spark.

It was busy but there was plenty of space to browse each stall and I have made a couple of purchases. I’m trying hard not to overspend but it’s not easy, especially when it comes to handmade, just beautiful creations.  And there was plenty. Hats, scarves, pins, cards, jewellery, candles and much much more..

I only took a couple of snaps…

And by far my favourite stall, though you may think I’m biased since I know Susan through work, was this. Have a look yourself. And if you want to see more this is her Insta page

I’ve known Susan for years but I somehow never knew she makes such beautiful creations.  I’m always amazed when I discover something new about people, even more so when I see them every day. It just goes to show what a difference it makes when we stop for a moment in our busy lives to have a chat with friends, colleagues, even strangers.

Hope Susan doesn’t mind me mentioning a little anecdote she shared with me today. She doesn’t use her car often but today was one of the few time she needed it. And unfortunately she had a flat tire. Rebecca, a colleague I’ve known for a couple of years, offered to give her a lift and helped her unload her goodies at the Uni. Human kindness at its best. Rebecca is another lovely human I didn’t have the chance to get to know better, and she is leaving Southampton at the end of the week, but this is just an example of how many great humans live amongst us and that’s one of the reasons I still work at Solent. The people. 

Another Christmas tradition I started a few years ago is getting a new unique, handmade ornament for the Christmas tree every year. I’m hoping one day to fill the Christmas tree with special decorations I accumulated over the years, each with a story to tell. 

As soon as I saw this on Susan’s stall, I knew I had to have it. So here it is, this year’s Christmas ornament. I absolutely love it.

Tomorrow’s blog might be a bit late or I might post something shorter, as I’ll be at my last Touch event for 2018, this time at Hythe. If you are around and fancy listening to incredible, inspiring stories of every day people, you can grab a free ticket here

Now time for dinner and get organised for next week. I need a Christmas tree, I still have to get Christmas gifts for the family and still haven’t sorted my outfit for the Christmas party!


An afternoon of songs and stories

I came back from Cyprus on a sunny Friday afternoon.  An eventful return, delay after delay, twelve hours on the go with a heavy heart and my mind buzzing, thinking of what I can do to get out of the routine I was about to get back into, already missing the sun and exploring my home island, already missing the sea, the love and the people.

I didn’t get into my little ‘under construction’ home until late at night and Saturday went too fast. But I had something to look forward to on Sunday.

The next Touch event. I’m so lucky to volunteer for such a great charity. Every time I leave inspired, motivated, touched.

This one was even more special. A collaboration between the amazing Love Soul Choir run by Dan, one of my favourite humans and Touch, songs and stories at probably my favourite venue in Southampton, Harbour Lights.

Music, soul’s medicine and real life, every day, inspiring stories. I knew before I got there it would be a great one.

After a short glorious walk on a sunny, unexpectedly warm afternoon I arrived there a bit early to help out. I loved being down at the reception directing guests upstairs. I was more than once mistaken for Harbour Lights staff and I loved directing people to the till, to the screens, to the bar. The little every day surprises I find amusing.

Many familiar faces in the crowd, Bev, Lucy, Svetlana.

2pm and we are about to start. After a short intro Love Soul is up, warming up the audience with their incredible vocals and then Vie, the first speaker, takes the mic.

She is wearing a black coat the other way around, and lets her hair down, covering her face. That’s who she was for the first thirty years of her life. She was told since the tender age of six that she was ‘fat and ugly’ by her own family. She was bullied to believe she would never become anything special.  How sad to be made to feel like that by your loved ones.

But after she discovered burlesque dancing her life completely changed. She became a qualified trainer, a motivational speaker, a bright example dressed in pretty 50s vintage clothes with flowers on her gorgeous hair, for young people to follow.

After Vie, Love Soul entertained us with a few more songs before the break and then Andy, our second speaker got up. What a life he and his wife already had despite their young age.  Seizures, miscarriage, a devastating brain tumour diagnosis and radiotherapy for his wife… But they never lost hope, they kept going and through their faith and support from their family and friends they made it through and they are both and their two lovely boys well and happy.

Andy writes beautiful poems and he read a couple to us. He even brought copies of his book Uplifted and gave them out for free. This one is the last he read, which sums up his life attitude:


There it is, suddenly

Something so much bigger than me

Feeling that significance is my life’s


Revelation is my remedy

It’s not who I am

It’s who has my destiny

Got no strength; I am weak

Yet the great I AM is the conqueror

Where all I see defeat

No broken promises

Just incomplete

All things to good, I believe

My only hope

My remedy

Love Soul was up next singing two more songs and then it was time for our final speaker Abby.

Another in-cre-di-ble story, another amazing human. Abby was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder when she was 25, after years of minimal sleep, pain, lows and highs. Solent Mind supported her throughout her journey and after becoming a motivational speaker and a mental health advocate she is now running her own project, Heads Up, delivering workshops to young people of all ages in schools, colleges, anywhere there are young people, raising awareness for mental health so she can help others from as early as possible.

What an astonishingly immaculate difference it will make to a person’s life to get diagnosed and get help as soon as they can feel that something is wrong, to know that it is OK not to be OK and not suffer in silence for years.

After Abby’s speech Love Soul closed the event with a final song. What a beautiful ending to an already marvellous afternoon.

I can’t wait for our next event. Still, after five months of volunteering for Touch it surprises me how everyone has a story to tell, how I can relate to all in some way, how many amazing humans are out there and how inspired I get from each one of them. I truly hope that one day we live in a world that accommodates openness and honesty,  where feeling vulnerable is not a weakness and everyone feels comfortable to share their story and learn from each other .



Love and joy for all: Southampton Pride 2018

2018 has not been an easy ride so far but there are days I’ll never forget, days that made it to the top of the list, memories I’ll treasure for ever.

I travelled on my own for the first time to the beautiful Bordeaux, I made it to the top of the highest mountain in the UK, I moved to a home on my own again, The Solent Graduation week 2018, cherished memories with friends and family here and at my little home island and now Southampton Pride.

I loved it so much last year, I couldn’t possibly imagine how it can get better, but oh my it did.

A year and two cruise ship visits later, I got to know the volunteers and the organisers, the most loveliest bunch of humans I’ve ever met, especially Danny who has a heart of gold and I had no doubt Southampton Pride 2018 would be an incredible day but I didn’t realise how bigger and better it would have been.

A dedicated family area, playground, bouncy castles and cute farm animals. pigs, chicken, goats, I don’t know how much time I spent staring at the chicks and the ducks. There’s something soothing, heart-warming to watch the little, new to this world, innocent creatures just… being.

Food and drink stalls, a large bar, the Main Stage, and inside the Guildhall there was a second stage and countless stands, selling merchandise, charity representatives, a glitter stand, the Great Wall with messages of love and many more I didn’t get the time to explore.


Whilst walking around with my friend Jamie who volunteered for the Pride last minute, taking snaps of our wonderful guests, I caught a glimpse of my adopted brother Andi on the Teacup rides with his goddaughter, so sweet it almost brought me to tears.

This year there was a doggie area, one of my favourite parts of the Pride, where you could get your dog trained, and there were feeding and water bowls. I lost count of how many cute dogs I got to pet. A paradise on earth.

pooch area

I spent half of my shift with Jamie, capturing all the joy and fun of the amazing, loving humans attending the event, giving out cards with details of the survey we set up to know what people thought of the event, that’s how we’ll learn and keep making it better year after year (if you were there and want to fill it in all details here) bumping into people I know, Solent colleagues, friends I haven’t seen in a while, the gorgeous Carlos and Jens and my brother Andi, who every time I see it’s a painful reminder of how much I miss seeing him every day.


At 2pm, it was time for the Parade. I missed it last year, so I didn’t know what to expect. What an amazing atmosphere! Men, women, transgender,  singles, couples, families, children, dogs, all together in bright, happy colours, walking in the centre of Southampton celebrating love.


When Jamie left, I teamed up with the lovely Rebekah and went around again to take more pictures, I’ve seen the man with the Blue Eyes and the beautiful smile I saw last year and asked for a picture again, that was a special moment, we loved watching Cheeky Girls and Union J and just before my shift ended we were asked to clean the toilets. Not the most fun thing to do, but someone has to do it, and we had a laugh doing it.

After my shift, I joined Darren, Donna, my UK mum and my brother Andi, my little Solent family for a well deserved drink. What a beautiful end to an already incredible day.


This is why I love volunteering. To be part of something so great, to make others smile. to be able to help in any way it’s a feeling nothing compares to.

Thank you to all the organisers, sponsors, Cunard in particular our main sponsor, it wouldn’t have been possible without them, and volunteers, paramedics, security guards, everyone who put together a spectacular, marvellous event for the city, especially Danny who asked me to do something I really enjoyed last year and because of him I had the opportunity to get on top of the Bargate the day before.


I hope more businesses support this great celebration to grow from year to year and remain free for all to enjoy.

If you want to be a part of something truly special, we are always looking for more volunteers. I can’t wait for next year!

PS. Thank you to whoever made the scrumptious chocolate cookies for the volunteers. They were so delicious I had five!




From Abstraction to Overpainted Photographs: Artist Rooms-Gerhard Richter

Art is the highest form of hope. (Gerhard Richter)

I didn’t know what to expect when we walked in.

I knew of Gerhard Richter,  as I’ve heard of him before, I didn’t know much about him.

I’m no artist, nor I have a great knowledge of art other than what most of us do- Picasso, Van Gogh (the depression through his art is captivating), Michelangelo, Da Vinci (no need to say much), you get the idea- but I love spending hours staring into paintings, admiring the talent and coming up with my own stories. Imagination, one of the greatest abilities of the human mind.

And it’s not that often that works of one of the most important artists of the 20th and 21st centuries are displayed at the beautiful, new gallery in the city centre for free!

First room we walked in: Tapestries


We sat at the ‘viewpoint’ (that’s what I call it, the little wooden bench in each room to sit on and immerse into the paintings) and stared at the large, imposing tapestries hanging off the walls. Four different but similar patterns, they somehow look like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle (They actually are. Each tapestry is a quarter of Richter’s Abstract Painting 724-4 mirrored and repeated four times). We wonder how the whole picture would look like if you put them together.

They remind me of Rorschach inkblots. What do you see in them? I always wondered how accurate Rorschach tests really are. Can you, with confidence, diagnose a mental disorder from how one interprets ink stains? That’s a whole other story!

I could see a bat with cool sunglasses on, a dog, sound waves, pain, screaming, anger…

I find out later Richter meant to make them look like Rorschach. 

In the room next to the Tapestries we come across Abstract Painting No 439. I thought my eyes went blurry but no. It’s the painting.

Abstract Painting No 439

What is it? Plants? A pond? Is that sunlight? Why does it remind me of neurons and neurotransmitters? Why did Richter want it blurry?

We read in the cute little booklet we were given that this painting is actually a picture (4 times larger) of Richter’s Oil Sketch No 432/11. Which is hanging on its left hand side. It looks very different to the original but also so similar.


I love the original, not only because I love oil paint (I’m not sure why). I can see where Gerhard brushed on top of the last layer of paint, I can see the paint brushes. He must have painted this in stages. The rain of sun rays I can see was added last. That’s what I’d do if I were an artist. Come back to a piece of art and add to it until I feel it’s complete. How do you know when it’s complete though?

Just opposite, one of Richter’s most famous paintings, Abstract Painting 809-3.

Abstract painting 809-3

I find abstract art thrilling. I love how I can imagine Richter painting the dark blue and black, then days or months later deciding to add all the yellow and then scrape some of it off to reveal the darkness underneath.

Upstairs, the first room we walk into is… eerie. It reminds me of tombstones, a memorial… 48 portraits.


They look like photographs but not quite. Upon closer look we realise they are actually paintings. The talents of this man are endless.

Each picture is a portrait of a famous man, a man who left his mark in history. We recognise some immediately. Others we know of them, but didn’t know how they looked like until now. I can’t believe I did not remember what Alfred Adler, one of the most significant psychologists of all time, looked like.

Why are there no women? And why there were no politicians or other artists in the final selection? I find out much later. If you want to know, all the answers are here.

Just when we are about to move on, the gallery assistant hands us a copy of the paintings with a little blurb of what they were famous for under each portrait. ‘We tend to give this to visitors at the end, let them guess’. I’m glad she did. It’s been a while since I tested my general knowledge.

Next stop my favourite room of the Gallery. The one facing Guildhall Square. The one where Hetain Patel’s Transformer proudly stood months ago, one of my all time favourite pieces of modern art.

I love the views of that room, the ample natural light.

And today it looks brighter because of Colour Charts. ‘Richter used a predetermined mathematical system to create 1,024 shades, then randomly placed the colours in a grid of 4,096 squares, repeating each one four times’ (Gerhard loves number four it seems).

We sat down looking around the room for a while. Fascinating.


The last room we walk in is an artwork collection, samples of other various different techniques and ideas Richter experimented with. He loves photography, painting over photographs, he played with glass and mirrors, amongst others.


I left the exhibition feeling… I don’t even know how to describe the feeling. Excited, amused, inspired, touched. Is there a single word to capture it?

Thank you John Hansard Gallery for a simply stunning exhibition. Thank you for introducing me to Richter’s colourful, bizarre, surreal, world.

If you’d like to experience it yourself, Gerhard Richter’s Artist Rooms will be at the Gallery until the 18th of August. 

I can’t wait for the next one.




A foster carer, a former priest and other super humans: A night to remember

Thursday, 14th of June

Hannah picked me up from home. We are heading to BySea cafe in Portswood. The next live storytelling event is about to start in a couple of hours and I’m a tiny bit nervous. But I can’t wait. Exhilarated.

I keep hearing this in my head. Somewhere in the desert there’s a forest…And an acre before us…

Today is going to be a special one, I can feel it. As soon as I’ve read about the speakers.

Hannah and I went early to set up. It was all done in less than half an hour, we even had time for a cup of tea and an enormous slice of cake. The portions at Bysea are huge.

Tea and cake, BySea Portswood

I’m a little nervous because Debs asked me to host tonight’s event, talk at the start, introduce the speakers and bring it all to an end after the last speaker.

I love chatting but I never spoke in front of an audience before. I guess I did if you count the short speech at the last year of primary school, when I was 12 (which my cousin wrote for me, she was 18 at the time and was just about to study pedagogy to become a prime school teacher, she always wrote beautifully) and about 3 years ago the eulogy at my aunt’s funeral which again my cousin wrote, but this time it was for her mum and I was reading it on her behalf. Hardest thing I had to do in my life ever. To the day.

But I never ever spoke in English in front of an audience.

I don’t get too stressed nowadays, not any more but I was still a bit anxious. And also excited.

What’s the worst it could happen? 

Just before 8pm.

The place is buzzing. Debs and Hannah were worried not many people will show up, there were a couple of other events on the same night, but the place is full.

Time to go up!

I don’t want to look at my notes much so I look around, at our guests, into their eyes.

God everyone is staring at me! Why?

You are talking to them you silly. You are the centre of the attention. They are supposed to look at and listen to you.

I panicked for a second and I forgot a couple of things I needed to say, it’s OK you can mention them late, so I went ahead and introduced our first speakers.

Jon and Chris.

(I struggled to find the right words that can capture the beauty of their story. I hope I did it justice).

A sweet couple,  Jon and Chris came up on stage, and read out loud their story in turns. The story of their beloved daughter Katie. From the little I learned about her through her parents, she must have been an amazing human being. Despite all the tough ‘challenges’ (I hate this word, it cannot capture the pain, the torture, physical, emotional and mental that one can experience) life through at her, disability, cancer, she was determined to live life to the full.

She lived on her own, she drove, she studied at University and although when she was first diagnosed with cancer she was given a few years to live, she lived 17 more years. She proved them wrong!

She was incredibly strong, brave and considerate until the very end. The night before she died she listened to her friend talking about her everyday problems and worries, although she was in terrible pain herself. That’s the kind of person she was.

Jon and Chris went on to talk about how they are dealing with their grief, after Katie passed away 18 months ago and how their faith helped them. A friend once told Jon how grief is like a circle, the circle is all about the loved one you lost and at the start, you are in the centre of the circle, you cannot see past the sadness and the chaos. But as time goes by, you get out of the circle and it gets smaller, you can see beyond it, but it’s always there. You learn how to live with it. (I hope I remember it correctly, I got emotional at this point, it reminded me of my aunt, her death and how each of us are coping with it, in different ways, two and a half years later).

They took up new hobbies, e.g. Jon went on a cooking training class so she can teach others how to cook and they still do things Katie liked, not to reminisce and feel sad, but because they enjoy them too.

By the time they were done, I was already in tears. But it was time to get up and introduce the next speaker. I was so emotional I forgot to thank them publicly, on the mic, after I’ve given them their ‘I shared my story’ badges. What an idiot!


Next up it was Dominic. He started off with a poem (he had the smoothest, most beautiful voice, I hope he seriously considers my suggestion of him start doing podcasts)…

Breathing under water

I built my house by the sea.

Not on the sands, mind you;
not on the shifting sand.
And I built it of rock.

A strong house
by a strong sea.
And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.
Good neighbors.
Not that we spoke much.
We met in silences.
Respectful, keeping our distance,
but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.
Always, the fence of sand our barrier,
always, the sand between.

And then one day,
-and I still don’t know how it happened –
the sea came.
Without warning.

Without welcome, even
Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine,
less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
Slow, but coming.
Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning and I thought of death.
And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it reached my door.
And I knew, then, there was neither flight, nor death, nor drowning.
That when the sea comes calling, you stop being neighbors,
Well acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance neighbors,
And you give your house for a coral castle,
And you learn to breathe underwater.


Sr. Carol Bieleck, RSCJ
from an unpublished work

Dominic’s life was full of ups and downs, a friend used to call him Forrest Gump. And by the end of his talk I understood why.

The strict, often cruel teachers at the boarding school he went to, put him down, repeatedly told him he ‘won’t amount to much’.

Later in life he discovered he’d like to become a priest. It wasn’t an easy ride, he couldn’t even afford to buy the essentials on the list he was given, and he’d often borrow from the church in Portswood.

Five years after he became a priest, he suddenly, fell in love. He gave up priesthood to marry the love of his life.

After that he dealt with redundancy ‘One day I was a chief operative for a charity, the next day I was down at the job centre’  and other hurdles that came his way over the years.

His message: Life is unpredictable, you never know what the next day will bring you, but life is also beautiful, and when you learn to breath underwater, to face everything without drowning or giving up, you build a deepest, most meaningful appreciation for life.


The third speaker, Sam lost his dad to cancer about two years ago.

He found it hard to process his grief, until he discovered open water swimming.  ‘Those fifteen minutes when swimming becomes automatic and you don’t have to think about moving your arms or your legs, those fifteen minutes of clarity of mind’.

When I heard this my mind went straight to meditation and how I feel when I do my yoga.

And just after I thought of that, surprisingly, Sam said ‘my friends told me when I described it to them, that’s similar to meditation’.

I kept thinking what was the one thing that helped me the most to overcome my grief three years ago. Writing. That’s what helped me. This blog. 

Sam started a website since, Sporting Heads, where he shares stories, similar to his of mental health benefits of sports and exercise.

Jenny (ft Annie)

The last speaker Jenny (with the help of her dear friend Annie who interviewed her) is a foster carer. She fostered 52 children in 13 years!!

Jen shared incredible anecdotes of her life as a foster carer. What came across strongly was Jen’s unconditional love and care for the children, despite everything that comes with fostering a child.

A little girl she fostered used to defecate every time someone compliment her. Every time someone said ‘Isn’t she lovely?’. She is now doing much better, thanks to Jen.

This is just one of the many stories she shared with us.

Jen wouldn’t be able to do what she does without her support network, her friends, her family, her husband and ten children, and the community.

It’s not always easy, actually it’s not easy full stop. Most children come from troubled families, some they’ve been neglected others have been abused, they often struggle emotionally and physically, but with Jen’s love, care and patience, they grow stronger.

Annie read as a letter from one of Jenny’s foster children. It was impossible not to tear up.

I could sit and listen to these two ladies all night.

What a great way to end this wonderful evening.

At the end I got the chance to chat to some of these wonderful humans.

I asked Dominic about the poem he recited and told me how he came across it. He read it in a friend’s book, an American priest and was actually written by a nun. He gave me a copy to take home. What a sweet man.

I had a great chat with Annie, who I found out earlier amongst a million other things she does, she runs Communicare, a Southampton mental health charity tackling loneliness and isolation, which I recently signed up as a volunteer. Superwoman!

I went home feeling inspired, touched, blessed, happy, honoured I got to introduce and hear the stories of these amazing people.

If you have a story to share, get in touch. Everyone has a story. We all have a story. And that’s what Touch is all about, share our stories, learn from each other, touch each other’s lives.

And if you get the chance, come along to one of the events. Intimate, inspirational, so beautifully simple, humanity at it’s best.




Pizza and… thunderstorm

Thursday afternoon

Mama Donna left a gift for my birthday on my desk the day before, scrummy brownies from a London based business specialising in gourmet brownies (she knows me too well), Bad Brownie and I just came back from M&S to get more birthday treats.

Bad Brownie

Sophie came up to wish me happy birthday and try the finger-licking brownies and a couple of hours later we ended up at L’Osteria enjoying the Gnocchi, half Braccio di Ferro (spinach, egg, cheese and garlic) and half Vegetariana pizza (mozzarella, grilled vegetables, mushrooms and garlic) and a glass of Chianti.

L'Osteria pizza

She wanted to try the food there since I recommended it after the first ever time I visited about a month ago and she suggested going that night after work. Spontaneous invite, delicious food, chats and making new friends, some of my most favourite things in the whole wide world, I couldn’t possibly say no.  It rained on our way there, just like last time…

Back to a month ago, my first time at L’Osteria (I’ve been meaning to post about it since but life got in the way)

Saturday afternoon, 21st of April

I just came home from lunch on the Ventura. I had a couple of glasses of wine and I feel so tired I can go to sleep and not get out of bed until tomorrow.

But I’m meeting a friend for dinner in about two hours. What should I do? I can cancel I guess. I don’t always stick to a plan. My plans change depending on what I really fancy doing at that moment in time. The perks of getting older, only do what you want and consciously choose to ignore social pressures…

After an excruciating half an hour of overthinking, desperately trying to figure out what I really wanted to do, God sometimes is agonisingly painful to be me, I decided I’d go for dinner. I’d like to see my friend and we were to try the pizza at L’Osteria, the pizza place at the Watermark my Italian friend Sofy recommended, ‘The closest to Italian pizza you can find in Southampton’ she said.

In the end I’m glad I went.

It was very busy. I’ve unsuccessfully attempted to make a booking the day before, but it was impossible as you’d expect on a Saturday night and the restaurant was fully booked until 9:30pm, but the lovely manager on the phone suggested I’ll have better luck just showing up.

We did just show up but there was going to be a 25min wait unless we sat outside. It wasn’t that cold so we decided to have our pizza al fresco.

As there was a large selection of pizzas I couldn’t possibly decide, I thought I’d go for two different halves and after a long deliberation I went for the Capricciosa (ham, mushrooms, artichokes and olives) and the Il Vecchietto (mozarella, egg, pancetta, onions, rosemary and piccante). My friend went for the Hawaiian and not sure what the other half was, I was so surprised he willingly decided to have pineapple on a pizza I can’t recall what he said after ‘half Haiwaiian’…


Since I’ve started the day with a couple of glasses of red I decided to stick to it so I asked my lovely waitress to pick a glass of red for me and she went for Chianti, now one of my favourite red wines. I’d never tried it before but it was smooth, and extremely easy to drink.

After about an hour or so enjoying our HUGE pizzas, wine and plenty of laughs, it started to rain… followed by thunder… and lightning. We moved to a table further in so we don’t get wet and we spent most of the evening watching the thunderstorm. Scary but fascinating.

That’s how I imagined the end of the world would be. Thunders, lightning followed by flying prawns, unicorns and other random objects, like a scene off The Good Place… (sometimes it’s really fun to be me)…

L’Osteria is now one of the very few chains I love. Delicious food and wine, great selection, super friendly staff and  reasonable prices.

I have to visit L’Osteria again to try their pasta this time! I can’t promise you any out of the ordinary weather related spectacles, but the Italian language lessons on speakers in the toilet are amusing AND educating (did you know that in Italy they only drink Cappuccino until noon and Espresso in the afternoon?)  and the pizza will not disappoint.



On board PnO’s Ventura

I’m on a ship, having lunch, wine and a laugh with Liam, Jordan, Richard, Tansy, David and Cat.

How blessed am I? How did this even happen?

Last August I saw a post on Facebook urgently asking for last minute volunteers for Southampton Pride. Some of my favourite humans and officially the best hugger was going to be there, my dear Jaba, Mr Dixon, my brother Andi and others I didn’t expect. So I emailed the lovely Danny and I ended up having one of my best days of 2017.

Fast forward to last December, Cunard, one of the Pride’s sponsors offered free lunch for all volunteers on one of their beautiful ships but due to bad weather it was postponed.

A couple of weeks ago Danny messaged. The free lunch was to take place on Saturday, 21st of April. Who could say no to free lunch, on board one of PnO’s largest and newest cruiseships with lovely people?

I almost didn’t go. I had a crazy busy week and hadn’t slept enough in days. I was exhausted. But I knew I’d regret it if I missed it. Sometimes I just know. I have a gut feeling. I wish I listened to it more often.

But I got up around 9am, way too early for me on a Saturday, got ready and made it to Ocean Terminal on time.

I didn’t know anyone else there, although that didn’t phase me, I love people. But I didn’t know what to expect.

I surely didn’t expect a three course meal in a posh restaurant, with our own table waiter refilling our wine glasses. The food was lovely and the wine, delicious. I’ve recently became a big red wine aficionado and the red that came with our meal was divine.

The meal started with asparagus and devilled egg mayonnaise followed by baked rump of lamb and ended with dark chocolate mousse cake with praline surprise and coffee.


I also did not expect to meet so many incredible, fun, amazing humans. Richard’s laugh and all the smiley faces sum up the day beautifully.


After our scrumptious meal and a tiny bit giggly because of the wine, lovely Tom gave us a tour of the ship. We’ve walked through the main restaurants, the spa (my favourite part), the deck, the shops and our last stop was the art gallery.


Thank you to Danny, Tom, Cunard, PnO, everyone who put together this lovely day for us. I can’t wait for the next one.

And I can’t wait to volunteer for the next Southampton Pride in August. More volunteers are always needed, so if you fancy spending an awesome day helping out to run a beautiful, colourful, fun event, full of laughter and love, head on their website. This year it will be bigger than ever!




First day of holiday- deliciosa cena a la Regata

2:30pm. I’m sitting on my bed listening to Oldies songs, daydreaming. Don’t Stop Believing just came on, reminding me of all the laughs we had learning to sing it at the Staff Choir with Dan years ago, it goes on and on and on and on…

Tomorrow this time I’ll be arriving in Bordeaux. The excitement will probably keep me awake most of the night but all worth it and my week off work wouldn’t have kicked off better.

Day one started with a lazy morning, delicious dinner at La Regata, and drinks with great company.

I was meeting a friend for dinner and I really fancied Spanish Tapas. My Spanish friend Santi as a fellow Mediterranean food lover recommended La Regata down at Town Quay, ‘If you want authentic Spanish food, that’s the place to go’.

I’m now in love with this place. Colourful, traditional and warm decor, the friendliest, most attentive service probably in Southampton, the waiters came over to check on us a couple of times as well as the manager, the lady at the reception even remembered my name (it’s all about the personal touch) and the food was delicious!

I struggle with choice, so deciding which tapas to have was not an easy task. But my food partner for the night and one of the lovely waitresses made it very easy.

We went for six tapas: Queso de Cabra (Grilled goats cheese on toast, topped with caramelized onions and balsamic dressing), Pollo al Chorizo (Chicken cooked with chorizo in a light tomato sauce),  Cerdo Crujiente ( Slices of  grilled crackling pork belly, served with a spiced apple sauce),  Arroz Espanola  (Saffron rice with meat and seafood), Gambas Regata (King prawns cooked with chorizo in garlic oil) and Albondigas (Beef meatballs in a tomato sauce).

And I tried their Sangria (my beer lover friend had a classic San Miguel, I think, don’t take my word for it).
Spanish tapas


All the tapas, not surprisingly were delicious. Flavoursome with just plenty of herbs and spices, as it should be, freshly prepared and very filling. And my sangria was just perfect.

We struggled to finish them, but that’s maybe because we both chatted too much.

I can’t believe I’d never been to La Regata before until yesterday. I genuinely can’t wait to visit again and try more of their scrumptious dishes. Needless to say, I’d definitely recommend it. Local, independent, authentic Spanish restaurant, friendly service and great atmosphere.

Now time to pack for my French mini adventure!



Probably the best night of 2018

Friday, 16th of March. The last day of a busy, eventful but rewarding week.

And it was as busy as the rest of the week.

But I had a great evening planned I looked forward to all day, starting with dinner, cocktails and seeing Jonathan Pie at the O2 Guildhall with my cool manager Suzanne and joining the Solent gang afterwards for the music karaoke and quiz.

My Friday night turned better than I thought, probably the best night I had in 2018 so far.

Dinner at Mango’s was incredible. Food at Mango’s is always delish and Suzanne and I decided to go for tapas, the Thai version of Greek meze, and a Long Island Ice Tea bucket to share. Dim Sums, butterfly prawns, crispy beef, spring rolls, the whole lot. The food was once again exceptional. Freshly cooked, perfectly seasoned, delicious Thai food and great, friendly, quick service.

Mango Thai Tapas

After dinner what I really fancied was a Hugo, my favourite cocktail at Tapas Barcelona.

On our way there we bumped into two guys in banana suits with a sign hanging on their neck, ‘travelling for charity’. I couldn’t not stop and have a chat. Kaber and Karim are two lovely Exeter University students taking part in RAG Jailbreak 2018 to raise money for charity.  Their aim was to get as far away as possible from Exeter in 36 hours using no money for travel and instead rely on strangers’ generosity.

They left Exeter earlier that morning and somehow ended up in Southampton in the afternoon.

Their challenge is now over but if you want to donate or just find out more about them all details are here.

After our chat, wishing good luck and hugging goodbye our new friends, it was time for Hugo.

The disappointment when I had a look at the cocktails on the menu and Hugo was no longer on there, I can’t even describe. I was devastated.  I really fancied a Hugo for days.

Luckily the lovely restaurant manager stood next to me whilst I was talking about it with Suzanne, wondering why it was taken off the menu and he explained to us how the price of Prosecco went up and it was not affordable to offer anymore but he also asked the barman to make us two Hugos, since I loved it so much. A great example of brilliant customer service. Thank you dear, it made my evening.

Hugo, one of the best cocktails in the world

After bumping into Denise, one of my favourite Solent people and her husband Mike it was time for Jonathan Pie.

Jonathan Pie is a fictional news reporter created by Tom Walker and I love him. The first time I’ve watched one of his YouTube videos I genuinely thought he was a real reporter caught off air ranting about Brexit.

He satirises politics, society, anything that’s wrong in this crazy world in an honest, raw manner that gets me every time. He doesn’t just make me laugh, he makes me think. And that’s what he did on Friday. He made me laugh, he taught me new words and he made me think.

His warm-up act on the night Zoe Lyons was also amazing, I couldn’t stop laughing, I think I probably laughed at each punchline.

The evening ended with some of my favourite people, my Solent family singing, dancing, laughing. I couldn’t think of a better end to a great night.

It really is about the little things and  the moment you decide to be open to what life throws at you, opportunities and challenges, and not worry about the consequences and the future so much, you’ll wake up one day and realise how much richer, vibrant, colourful, beautiful life can be. Just by living in the moment and giving everything a go.

I have a feeling there will be many more probably the best nights of 2018...