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.



A day of Communicare, Art and Crafts

Saturday morning

My alarm went off at 8am but I could barely move. I’ve only been back from my holiday for a day and went straight to work, on a Friday. After a week of wandering and exploring the Forest, London and Brussels (I will be attempting to put together vlogs to accompany my blogs, coming soon hopefully, if I manage to learn the basics of video editing, wish me luck!), I was in high spirits but oh my I was tired.

I was so close to not doing anything at all and have a rest day but my heart wouldn’t let me. I haven’t seen Kathy for a while and I promised to take her out for tea and cake next time I visit. She loves going out and about but after a recent fall she is not very mobile. If I were to hold her arm though and with the aid of her walking stick we could make it.

The Communicare Vintage and Craft fair was also on today, in Portswood. I thought maybe I’d skip that and go straight to Kathy’s but I haven’t seen the lovely Communicare people since I signed up to befriending and Bryony and I went to meet Kathy for the first time.

To make things worse, after a week of holiday and a week before payday I was pretty broke.

After arguing with my self, twirling and whirling in bed for a good half an hour I came up with a plan, sort of. I’d get up and get ready quickly, Uber it to the Fair and walk back home to save money. I could then head to Kathy’s. There were a lot of events in town on the day but I was too tired to attempt more.

I made it to the Fair when it had just started, at 11am. I was stationed at the entrance to welcome people in and ask them to guess the adorable Communibear’s favourite food to initiate conversation and it was fun as well.

I had the most fun and also bizarre couple of hours.

I got to talk to a lot of people and I’ve bumped into colleagues and lovely ladies from SingNow Choir I hadn’t seen for a while.

I watched Annie, Communicare’s manager interviewed by That’s TV Solent, a local TV channel and had a chat with the cameraman and interviewer about video editing.

A random man (who smelled of alcohol) thought I was Polish and came straight to me and asked for toilet paper. I don’t speak Polish but I managed to figure that out. Just before he left he asked for a selfie (!). That never happened to me before and I didn’t know what to do but agreed. I wondered whether that’s how famous people feel when strangers ask them for photos.

I had a slice of coffee and walnut cake and a quick wander in before I left. So many beautiful stalls including Sue’s wonderful flower arrangements.

It wasn’t too busy inside unfortunately as there were 4-5 major events running on the same day in the city, as I mentioned before but it looked great.

On my way back I decided to pop at the Spark and check out the Accessible Art Show. Amazing. Blog coming soon but here’s a flavour.

I then passed by Guildhall Square to listen to the live music (So: Music City Festival was on) but there were in between acts and setting up for the next performance. The Square wasn’t busy either.

After about an hour I made it to Kathy’s. I was a bit anxious whether she’d be OK getting out of the flat but as soon as I walked in her coat was by her side (though she didn’t know I was going today) and when I asked her if she felt well enough to go out she was so happy, her face lit I couldn’t possibly not at least try. Though her memory is not doing well she remembers the Shopping Mall and every time I ask her where she’d like to go, she mentions it first (she would love a cruise too, and a trip to Italy, her travelling spirit never goes away).

I helped her get her shoes on and slowly started moving. There are a few steps within the flat who she struggled with and she needed a minute or two to rest before we headed out. We stopped a couple of times for her to catch her breath but she loved it.

I got her some tea and cake and had a wander around West Quay. She finished all her cake and tea (It’s the first time I’ve seen someone enjoy their cake so much, taking her time to eat every single piece, mindfulness at its best, though I’m sure she never heard the term before but she definitely mastered it) watched people come and go, she had a chat with a random lady who sat next to her at a bench and smiled at everyone. I’ve never seen her so happy.

On our little walk we came across the ShopCreative fair but my attention was on Kathy I didn’t spend much time looking. It looked lovely though. It’s on all weekend if you fancy. The lovely Sarah is there with her gorgeous ceramic and glass creations.

I was worried on our way back as she got extremely tired and I held her whilst she leaned on a phone box to rest. But all good. We made it back home safe and she couldn’t wait until we go out again.

I hope she gets a wheelchair so I can take her further out. I wish I still had my car.

I came home feeling exhausted but happy. What a wonderful day it’s been. I treated myself to pizza and Netflix (the Maddeleine McCann Documentary is fascinating).

Now time to tackle my long to-do-list.

Happy Sunday!


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.




From a hardworking teenager to a chef to an artist- The story of Andy Jones, a Solent Fine Art Student

I love meeting inspiring humans who love what they do. They talk about it with so much passion and eloquence. I instantly know when that happens. I can see the sparkle in their eyes. And I smile without realising.

What is even rarer is to meet well-rounded people who can talk not only about what they love, but everything and anything else. And Andy is one of them.

A couple of months I received a message on Twitter. Andy, a final year Fine Art Student at Solent came across my blog and wanted to meet and have a chat. He offered to show me around the Fine Art studios and his third year project he was working on.

I love meeting new people-oh if I could do that for a living- and any excuse to visit the beautiful, colourful, creative Below Bar Studios again, I didn’t have to think twice.

We met on a grey Thursday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. And I enjoyed every minute. Andy is honest and open about his life. I miss it, I often find that people here are too polite and don’t say what they think, afraid they may reveal too much. But not Andy.

We sit opposite his impressive piece of work.

IMG_5678 1

We talked about his life, what a life he had. He left Liverpool when he was 17 to get away from family troubles and had to work since. He became a chef, at some point working at the Marco Pierre White restaurant in London, living THE life.

We inevitably end up talking about food, Mediterranean cuisine, he lived in Spain for a while so he really knows the essence of delicious food.

He somehow lost everything later on, and some years and six children later, one day his wife said to him ‘I’ll go back to work, and it’s time for you to chase your dream’.

That’s when he applied to study Fine Art at Solent. He wanted to become an artist since he was a child, but as you’d imagine, there wasn’t much support for a young Liverpudlian lad in the ’80s to become an artist, you ‘can’t make a living out of it’.

We talk about the course. He loves it. He absolutely loves it but he feels there is not much support, recognition or promotion from the University. As a mature student, commuting for hours most days, he expected more for himself and his classmates.

We go through his work and his current project. Imposing, sad but incredibly powerful.

Andy Jones

The big hammer, the ‘corporate’, the ‘big powers’ ruining our planet, ruining humanity. All of that painted on plastic canvases. The contrast, the intentional irony.

On one of his paintings,  he added a crown on his hammer hitting the Grenfell tower, on which he added a little head. A prime, tragic example of how greediness has destroyed the lives of innocent, every day people. I can see it so very clearly (image below it’s not the one I’ve seen, but it depicts the same scene).

Grenfell tower

On the top right, I catch a familiar image with the corner of my eye. The traditional blue and white houses you often see on Greek Islands. I smile. It reminds me of the cute little holiday apartment I stayed with my sisters in Protaras, two years ago, the best summer I had in a long time.

He shows me around the studio, it somehow seems bigger than the last time I was there. He talks me through the rest of the students work, some finished, some still in progress. That’s why I love art. I love the creativity, the beauty of the surrealism mixed with cruel reality in more than one occasions and the subjectivity. You may not see what I see, and I may not see what you see. That’s the beauty of it.

I leave the Studio grateful I met Andy and I spent my lunchtime at a gorgeous, creative space, escaping reality even for a little bit.

I can’t wait for their degree show, 26° Below Bar, opening night on the 8th of June. Everyone is welcome. If you want to see Andy’s and the rest of our amazing Fine Art students’ work, come along. I’ll be there.



Bordeaux day 3- museums, bookstores and more rain

I opened my eyes… I could hear the rain, it must have rained all night and all of a sudden pain, the moment my senses woke up. I forgot about the pain.

Why? It’s not time yet, it’s not until next week… But it seems that the walking and the excitement of it all had an effect on my body.

It rained, I was in pain and feeling rough, I may be also getting a cold…I was tempted to pop out just to grab some food and then stay in bed for the rest of the day. But I wouldn’t do that. Not on my last full day in Bordeaux.

I popped downstairs for breakfast.  Malvina got me a pastel de nata, a Portuguese sweet tart and goat’s milk yogurt, in addition to fresh bread and her delicious organic spreads.

I love chatting with her. Today we talked about life, how she decided to never get married, living alone but with an amazing support network of friends and family, her career as a city planner, working for the government, it reminded me of Parks and Rec, oh I miss it… What a wonderful life she had, full of adventures and now, lucky enough to retire early she spends her time doing whatever she likes. She gave me advice, she made me laugh and made me feel awesome (she thought I was younger than my age but she still thought I was young and I should follow my dreams and not compromise, thanks Malvina!).

After about two hours getting ready, everything still hurting, I was out and about. I had a vague plan for today.

First on the list: A  unique, quirky bookstore I discovered online, Machine a Lire. It was more impressive to see up close. And it was so quiet, very appropriate for such an imposing setting.

Machine a Lire

Next, another bookstore, this one of historic importance, Librairie Mollat, located where political philosopher Montesquieu last lived. It was huge! On my way there a group of school children following their teacher, like ducklings follow their mum, were on their way to the bookstore too, stopping every now and then for the teacher to show them another landmark. I remember when our teachers took us on day trips when we were 6-7 years old. Everything seemed so big, everything impressed us.

Librairie Mollat

After a wander in the enormous bookshop, it was time to visit Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, the Museum of Fine Arts. I didn’t know what to expect, but in the end it definitely worth more than the five euros entry.

It was split into two buildings, the classic art in one side and modern art on the other (with an impressive palace in the middle).

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux

It’s impossible to list all the artwork that impressed me but the ones that I still remember:

David holding Goliath’s head (Aubin Vouet)

David tenant la tete de Goliath, Aubin Vouet

God Hermes, devastated  for Sappho’s, the Greek poet, death (Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse)

La mort de Sapho

The Window a La Goulette (Tunisia) (by Albert Marquet), so simple but striking.

La Fenetre a la Goulette

The Souliot women (Narcisse Diaz de  La Pena) who heroically decided to commit suicide rather than surrender to the Turks back in 1803, and they did so by singing and dancing, the Zalongo dance, I guess not many would know the story behind it, unless you were born and raised in Greece or Cyprus).

Les Femmes Souliotes

And finally an original Picasso, Olga Reading

Olga reading, Picasso

After a short break for late lunch at the first cafe I bumped into (not the best food I had but it was OK)

Baked Camembert

and a moment to admire the cathedral

St Andre Cathedral

my final stop was Musée d’Aquitaine, a museum on the history of Bordeaux and Aquitaine. It spanned over thousands of years of history, from the palaeolithic age, the first paintings on the wall, the Roman era to modern history. Definitely worth a visit if you are ever in Bordeaux!


And that was the last place to visit in Bordeaux. I made my way home to pack and prepare for my flight tomorrow.

I can’t believe I haven’t travelled on my own before. I loved everything about it. The freedom, the liberation, wandering around, getting lost in streets I’ve never walked down before, ending up in the most random places, discovering new things.

I wish everyone could experience travelling on their own at least once. It’s such a unique, meaningful, emotional, amazing experience, it’s hard to understand until you do it yourself.

I’d definitely do it again, although it’s great to share these moments with loved ones. Here’s to more adventures, small or big, solo or with friends and family, that’s what’s life it’s all about.



A night at the Gallery

Wednesday afternoon, 5pm…

It’s been a long day, it’s been a long week, incredibly busy at work… writing most of the time when I get home, I didn’t even get the chance to get back on my guitar since Sunday and I didn’t get much sleep the last couple of days.

I’m shuttered. But I’m not going home just yet. I got a ticket for a poetry event at the new John Hansard Gallery.

“Should I go home and have a relaxing evening instead?”

“But you really wanted to visit the Gallery since it first opened.”

“Yeah but I’m soo tired. And I can visit another time, maybe lunchtime tomorrow, oh wait I have a meeting at lunchtime tomorrow, what about Friday, oh wait…”

“See? Just go. You love poetry, it’s a free event, now SOLD OUT, and you get to walk around the gallery and finally meet the Transformer you’ve seen the pictures of for days…”

“But I’m exhausted…”

“Remember what you talked about with Shebz earlier…”

“OK OK I’ll go”

Sometimes these internal conversations go for hours. No wonder why I feel so tired all the time.

I’m glad I decided to go.

I went about an hour early so I can check out all the exhibitions currently at the Gallery.

First thing I went to see was of course Hetain Patel’s Fiesta Transformer. I was weirdly fascinated with Transformers since I was a child, cars turned into robots, so futuristic and brilliantly surreal. I never thought I’d ever see a Transformer up close.  I stood there staring at it, standing next to it, admiring Guildhall Square alongside it. I decided I was going back at the interval, after the sun set, when it all looks more magical.

I went back and this time it was just me in the room, not for long but that was a moment I’d never forget. Its shadows on the wall whilst the Transformer itself admiring the views. For some it may have seemed scary, for me it felt like a friend, a familiar face in a weird sense. I stood next to window, glanced at the beautifully lit sister building, the Nuffield theatre, which I can’t wait to visit, staring at what looked like an old man in a white shirt and black trousers, he reminded me of a photo of my dad grilling fish in the kitchen of the restaurant he worked… and then I couldn’t stop staring at Guildhall Square and started humming a song I’ve been humming all week, Jorja Smith’s Don’t Watch Me Cry.  Are you aware when you set me free? All I can do is let my heart bleed…

It was like the Transformer and I were two old pals standing there admiring the views with my humming echoing in the room. Someone walked in, I left the room, still humming. The moment was over but what a moment it was.

I then walked next door, in a dark room with two benches opposite two large screens. I sat down to watch Don’t Look at the Finger, a short film created by Hetain. Oh my. No words to describe it can do it justice. An African wedding ceremony, I assumed an arranged marriage. The couple getting dressed then stood in front of the priest. I expected her to speak but she started signing.  They were all deaf.

The wedding ceremony was a touching, emotive blend of body movement, gestures, signing. After their hands briefly touched the couple burst into a powerful martial arts dance, ending with them smiling at each other holding hands. Incredible costumes, imposing background as the ceremony took place in an old church and the music accompanying the film was equally mesmerising, powerful and touching, all at once. Absolutely incredible.

Don't Look at the Finger

I was about to walk out but Hetain’s The Jump screening started. And it captivated me so much I could not leave, I stood there watching until it was over. Spiderman jumping in slow motion on the colourful, patterned floor looking directly at me at the end.

I now love Hetain Patel. I don’t know if his work has the same effect on everyone, but everything I’ve seen that night immediately got me. I can’t wait to see more.

I didn’t have much time left before the poetry event run by Entropics was about to start so I had a quick look around Sam Laughlin’s Untitled exhibition, a series of black and white photographs documenting the construction of Studio 144, the building I was standing in. Fascinating.


After a quick look into the City Eye area, I stepped into Rob Crosse’s Prime Time Gallery. A  bench and a couple of bean bags opposite a screen showing a short film of a group of older gay men whilst they travel the Caribbean on a cruise ship. I didn’t have time to watch the whole film, I need to go back for that, but I stood there for a moment staring at the deep blue sea and the bright blue sky before I picked up a poem  written by Chantal Faust, written in response of the film title Something Along the Lines of Desire. So magnificently real, I felt every word.

Prime Time

I didn’t have time to explore Rhona Byrne’s Huddlehood interactive artwork or Stair/Slide/Space Conversation station, so I’m already planning another visit next week.

Conversation Station

After my little tour it was time for the event to begin.

I love poetry. I fondly remember some of the first poems I ever read by big Greek Poets, Seferis, Elytis, Kavafy. How they made me think, transferred me elsewhere, took me on trips through imagination. I don’t read poetry as often as I’d like and any opportunity I get to enjoy and learn more I take it. That how I ended up at the Gallery on Wednesday.

First, Holly Pester. I didn’t know much about her other than what was on the Gallery’s website. I’m glad I didn’t, it’s better not to have any preconceptions. I was captivated from the first poem. Holly’s poetry is so real and raw, weirdly beautifully playing with words, inspired by every day life and her performing style is as equally captivating. She read poems on Gossip, an alternative view of it, how it could actually be helpful in some circumstances and then moved on to lullabies. Not lullabies you’d expect. Real, surreal, sad but beautiful. But my favourite poem of hers by far was the one on abortivity. The pain, the constant pain whilst getting on with life pretending everything it’s OK…

Next on Iain Morrison, the Gallery’s Writer in Residence. Iain wrote a series of poems based on his notes on meetings and other events leading to the Gallery’s opening. Funny, imaginative, beautiful. I loved his playful writing and his accent (I love accents). I couldn’t stop thinking what if I wrote what’s going in my head when I’m sat at meetings at work, all the random thoughts, my imagination going wild, my mind drifting away to places, people…

The evening ended with insightful conversations kicked off by the QnA. Did you know that the word gossip actually originates from the bedroom at the time of childbirth, as giving birth used to be a social ladies only event?

Most of the audience knew each other and most came from a creative background. At first I thought “Should I be here? I don’t know half the things these people do. Do I really fit in? I’m not a poet, I’m not an artist, what am I?” 

A colleague earlier that day randomly said after I expressed my admiration for Paul Maple, one of the most creative people at Solent “Of course you love him, you love everyone and everything creative”.

It’s undeniably true.

I learned so much in one evening and I enjoyed every moment. Even if I didn’t fit in.

I’m incredibly happy John Hansard Gallery is now literally steps away and I can indulge myself in more culture, art and creativity.

Thank you to everyone who made Wednesday evening happen. A night to remember.




A week of Arts, Lights, Fireworks, Magic and Harsh Reality

A week ago on my Insta stories I was wishing all a great week and actually said out loud “Whatever happens, even if it’s a bad week, we are humans, we got this, we can do it”.

Some weeks as a dear friend said, the best thing you can do is just survive and that was one of those weeks.

It wasn’t all bad, but the horrible news of my friend’s dad passing away just before her 30th and the effect of it on me cast a shadow of sadness to the rest of the week.

The highlights


I celebrated one of my favourite non Christian orthodox religious days, Shrove Tuesday or as most famously known Pancake day with my new favourite ladies, Charlie and Di and Charlie’s lovely friends who I got to meet on the day. Delicious Nutella pancakes, interesting conversations and lots of laughter, a great great evening. Thank you Charlie for the invite!

Meeting the cadets

On Wednesday morning I found out about my friend’s dad’s death, more on that later, and I was emotional throughout the whole day. I spend every Wednesday with the Student Achievement team, the highlight of my work week and they distracted me from my sorrow for most of the day. At lunchtime little Miss Sunshine, Miss Holiday, my lovely Linda invited me to join her on a campaign raising awareness and supporting students with a little quiz and snacks, at the Warsash Campus in St Marys, the home of our cadet students.

It’s a whole different world down there and I loved every minute of it. What took me by surprise was the maturity of the students, compared to any other students I’ve met. They have to learn to be responsible from a very young age and most of them spend time at sea, often in dangerous areas like Somalia by the time they are 19, they are forced to grow up fast. I wish I was that mature when I was their age.

Some of the conversations I had with these 20 year olds were more mature, deeper and more meaningful than ones I had with 35 year olds. I can’t wait for my next visit.



Happy Girls Are The Prettiest

In our effort to bring back the magic back on Valentine’s day, we decided to set a love box in our department and send each other kind messages anonymously, as it used to happen back in the day. Thank you to whoever sent me the sweet message below. It was just what I needed on Wednesday. Our work may not be exciting sometimes, so a little bit of fun is necessary to keep us going. I may not be happy all the time, but I promise you, we’ll always have a laugh, even at the toughest of times, and you can always always rely on me.

Secret Valentine

Let there be light

On Thursday I finally made it to the Festival of Light at Westquay and the lovely Chloe and Taylor joined me. I’ve been meaning to visit from the moment I first heard about it, it sounded magical, like a fairy tale, and it really was. No need to say more, just look!



The Stand Together exhibition

On Friday lunchtime, I popped to the Solent Showcase Gallery in the hope to catch the dancers rehearsing a dance portraying Brexit, something that really affected me especially on the day of the referendum and I really wanted to see how they channelled this through dancing but unfortunately they were on their lunch break. Instead I had a wander around the rest of the Stand Together exhibition and I had the pleasure to meet the artist himself Kev Munday.

Kev is a Solent graduate and now a famous artist! I was shocked when the first thing he told me was that he recognised me because he just drew me!

I saw an ad on Portal, our internal Solent page a while ago, asking for a selfie and a little blurb about me, so I sent a photo of me and a short message on  me living in Southampton for 8 years now and how it’s not always easy living on my own in another country, but I wouldn’t change it. I thought I was too late sending my photo in, but it seems not!



I didn’t want to disturb him but he kindly let me film him whilst drawing and had a chat about his inspiration behind the exhibition.


After work I was meeting Charlie and Di for a drink and then off to watch the opening of the brand new Arts Complex (The New Nuffield Theatre, City Eye and the John Hansard Gallery) in the heart of the city!

On my way there I was unexpectedly joined by Chris and Helen, what a lovely surprise. I love it when my old friends meet my new friends and get along and have a laugh from the first moment. That’s something we often do back home but rarely happens here.

After a couple of drinks it was time! After a beautiful, fun and sweet dance performance, fireworks went off from the roof of the new Nuffield Theatre. I can’t tell you how excited I am there is now a new theatre, gallery and studio, just opposite work, in the heart of Southampton. I can’t wait to check them all out and indulge myself in more art and culture. I may be going to my first ever event there tomorrow. Excited much!




My little duckling’s birthday

On Saturday my little sister, my mini-me turned 20 years old and we spent most of the night before and the day face-timing. I am incredibly proud of the amazing, ridiculously talented, humble and caring human being she turned out to be. For me it will always be my little one. It’s hard living abroad but it’s even harder when I can’t be there for special family moments like this one. I love you to the moon and back.


Chinese New Year celebrations

On Sunday, co-incidentally after posting about my recent visit to Shanghai 1814 restaurant  I heard drums noise coming from the same very restaurant on my way into town, I walked in and for the first time witnessed Chinese New Year celebrations. Whilst the drums went on, a dragon danced across the restaurant and then welcomed by a man with a traditional Chinese face mask on who offered it clementines and lettuce. The dragon then threw the fruits and the lettuce (after shredding it) in the crowd whilst confetti flew around. On my way to the bookshop there were more celebrations at West Quay with children and students singing Chinese songs.

Chinese New Year

The harsh reality

On Tuesday night, whilst I was at Charlie’s I got a message from my friend’s other half. I didn’t read it until the following day, in the morning.

As you may know by now, that’s when I found out one of my favourite friend’s (who her birthday was on that day) dad died earlier in the week.

I burst into tears and I cried most of the day. I felt incredibly sad for my friend but I also for the first time I empathised with someone to a point I could feel her pain in every cell of my body and mind. As if it was my dad who died. The fact that she is an expat like myself and her family lives back home, like mine, made it extremely easy for me to put myself in her place.

The first thing I did was to message my friend and then Sheba.  I cried. She messaged back crying. We are always in sync.

As soon as I walked to work I told Donna so she knew why I was upset and then went to meet the Student Achievement Team. Thank you Lou for the warm hug and Sarah, Lee and Ashley for all the laughs.

I’m still sad about my friend but I’m OK. It was a harsh reminder that life is too damn short and being sad, angry and dwelling on things it’s a complete waste of time.

It’s funny isn’t it? Every time death hits close to home we get upset and devastated, we remember how vulnerable we are, that we are mortals and then after a while we completely forget. I’ll try my best not to forget this time.

After two weeks with ups and downs, laughter, fireworks, lights, eating out, drinks, meeting incredible people, old friends, new friends but also sadness, disappointment, anger and frustration, I need some me-time to find my feet again and get out there.




The perfect end to a not so perfect week

Sunday afternoon. I’m home alone, sitting on my bed enjoying the sunshine, listening to my music on Spotify. (obsessed with Ider, Does She Even Know) Pure bliss. I just came home from lunch and I feel it’s the perfect time to reflect on last week. What a better way to start the new week with a clear mind.


Before I take you through this week in Eleni’s world, I want to wish happy birthday to my amazing, sweet, honest, loving, caring dad. I’m not saying any more, otherwise I’ll start crying again. God this week I’ve cried so much it’s unbelievable, but here’s my Insta post, it sums up how lucky I am to have chef Costis as my father.


The week didn’t start well. I doubted myself, I felt inadequate, I felt I wasn’t enough and all of that because I let someone in and I was disappointed. I’ll post about it later, of course I will, I learned from it and that’s why I started this blog. To share what I learn and hopefully others can learn from my mistakes and experiences. I can’t say more right now because things are not clear in my head yet and I learned over the last two years that overreacting never helps. Emotional hijacking that is. When your emotions bypass your thinking, rational self and you are filled with anger, sadness and pain, that’s how humans are made of. It’s hard to master the art of emotional intelligence, but when you do, even a little bit, makes such a difference. More on that later.

What made my Monday better was writing on what I love about Solent. It’s all about the people, it really is. A reminder of how lucky I am to have loving, caring people in my life.



Tuesday was a little bit better than Monday. A heart-felt chat with one of my favourite humans, Dan and our singing session lifted my spirits.

My fave


Wednesday was just amazing. I had the best day with Lou and the rest of the Student Achievement team, with the highlight of probably my week, the visit at Below Bar and meeting incredible, talented, brilliant people, exactly what I needed to restore my faith to humanity.

Fine Art Studios


On Thursday I finally got to visit Shanghai 1814 and had a great lunch with my lovely ladies. Post coming soon, it’s already been written, there is so much I want to write about this week, I’m not sure when this will go out but coming soon.



Friday was the best. I woke up feeling homesick. I really wanted to be at home with my loved ones but the day turned better and better. After work I went for a drink, chat and lots of laughter with my UK mamma and her husband Darren and after that I’ve met 4 AMAZING ladies, local bloggers for dinner, drinks and brainstorming. The ideas kept flowing, I can’t even describe how excited I am for what’s to come. I’m not a professional blogger, I can’t stress that enough but I love writing and meeting like-minded individuals it truly is a blessing.



Yesterday I needed a day for myself, to do the house chores, take care of my body and my spirit and also change the strings on my guitar, which I managed to do all by myself! So proud!


The week ended with delicious lunch in the sunshine enjoying the seaviews with my gorgeous friend Sofy. It’s rare to meet people you just get along and get each other from day one and I’m so incredibly happy life brought us together. I learn so much from her, I can’t wait to do even more things together, so much to do and see, we came up with so many ideas today, I don’t know where to start from.


It’s now been a month I’ve been living with someone else. And I’m still struggling. I just can’t get used to it. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it. I don’t think it’s only because of me struggling to adjust. I’ll post about it this week, since tomorrow it’ll be the one month anniversary.

I’m immensely proud of myself and how much I matured and learned to deal with whatever life throws at me without letting depression and anxiety paralyse me. I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I poured my heart out and opened up about my struggles. It’s tough being honest, open, sensitive and vulnerable in this mad mad world but for me is the only way I can survive.

All throughout this week listening to Shebz sweet voice messages, the highlight of my day, Chris’s emotional support, thank you for making me laugh when I was sad and miserable and Donna’s care, thank you mamma Donna, kept me going.

A very busy week coming up, Pancake Day, the new Nuffield Theatre opening fireworks, and a couple of other things I can’t share yet. I’m hoping I’ll get the time to post about all of it.

Now, time for a yoga session with my favourite gal and a relaxing evening with music and my guitar to fight the Sunday blues.

We’ve got this.

The awesome in me bows to the awesome in you (love you Adriene).



A wonderful afternoon at Below Bar Studios

Yesterday I had one of the most interesting, fun afternoons in a long long time.

My lovely Louise took me down to Below Bar, the home of our School of Art and Design Studios to meet two of the course leaders who set up amazing work and social spaces for their students.

I absolutely loved it. A day later and I’m still buzzing.

It’s a whole different world down there and God I wished I was part of it.

First stop: The BA (Hons) Fine Art Studios. The lovely, sweet course leader Atsuhide gave as a little tour. Bright, big, colourful, vibrant rooms, the sun shining through the large windows, students working on their art, unique, beautiful artwork displayed everywhere, I was speechless and that says a lot!

Next stop the BA (Hons) Graphic Design base room. A social and work space for students. I didn’t know where to look first. What a truly beautiful, creative room. Great big tables decorated with students’ artwork, impressive constructions, table-tennis and Foosball tables, luxurious leather sofas and cosy, little hubs surrounded by wood frames made by the hands of one of the most interesting people I met in a long time, the course leader and Head of Subject Nick Long.


Nick is not only an incredibly talented and intelligent man who could even spell my name first time we ever met, I was seriously impressed, but he is the best story teller I met in real life and you know me, I love a good story.

We soon went off topic, always a sign of a good conversation, and ended up chatting about many different things including the old Southampton Arts School, which was next to the beach (yes, Southampton used to have a beach) back in 1850s and it looked like a scene from Pride And Prejudice, an impressive, imposing building surrounded by pine and cypress trees. Spa rooms were situated on the ground floor and the Arts School was on the first floor with his own private entrance. It was unfortunately knocked down in 1950s. Nick has done his research and got hold of photos and drawings he scrolled through whilst telling us all about it.

It instantly sparked my imagination and I was transferred to the 1850s, picturing people relaxing at the spa rooms whilst upstairs art students handcrafted surreal sculptures and colourful paintings.

I could listen to Nick talk all day. His voice, his accent, his lively, enthusiastic, natural story-telling, narrating style are truly captivating.

During our conversation I got the chance to meet Chris Bigg, another amazingly talented and sweet man who until I came home and googled him, I didn’t realise he has worked for some of the most famous record labels and artists as a graphic designer.

I don’t get starstruck and being famous doesn’t mean anything to me. But talent and creativity together with honesty, kindness and wicked sense of humour instantly makes me fall in love with humans on a spiritual level. It reminds me that there are some amazing people out there and I really needed that reminder lately.

Thank you Lou for an amazing afternoon. I fell in love with the place and the people.

I can’t wait to visit again. Today I feel truly blessed.