My Swimming Diary

SO, this November I’m going to do a sponsored swim in London to raise money for Progressio.

My sponsored swim has a dynamic twist: I’m going to do it outdoors, because I think that will be funny(?). The reason I’m doing a swim at all is because (as close friends know) I am very bad at swimming and I also I’m scared of putting my face in the water (weird but true!). Continue reading “My Swimming Diary”

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What do you feel in response to the election?

I’m not happy about the result of the general election. I’m passionate and over-dramatic and I respond to things emotionally. So, I am angry at the outcome, disappointed by the electorate, disillusioned and concerned about the future. Mainly I am frustrated that this will be the way things are for five whole years. It is a five years that, politically, looks bleak.

Continue reading “What do you feel in response to the election?”

Blollings cooks: fighting a sore throat

There’s a nasty little throat virus spreading through the British contingent here in Seville. I’ve never had anything like it, my whole throat is swollen and it HURTS! Because its contagious I’ve had to miss work so that I don’t infect the children I work with. I’m not a particularly strong person when I’m ill, I usually feel very sorry for myself, but luckily this isn’t the kind of illness which makes you feel groggy or bunged up so I have managed to cook myself some food to keep my poor little strength up. So here I’ve got a Lemon Ginger and Chicken soup recipe, lemon and ginger tea recipe and stewed apple…

Continue reading “Blollings cooks: fighting a sore throat”

Feminist Anthems for a Monday Morning

It’s International Women’s Day! I decided to celebrate by trying to think of some of the greatest female anthems that we can all listen to tomorrow morning when its Monday and we therefore feel miserable.

A close friend of mine once told me “you get away with your music taste because people think you are being ironic. But you aren’t being ironic.” He’s right! So here is my of female anthems that I love, in a non-ironic way. Continue reading “Feminist Anthems for a Monday Morning”

New year new me (Seville.2)

Hello friends, fans and acquaintances!!!
I am writing this whilst on the plane to Seville!

Last year I flew with Monarch but today things have taken a turn for the worse and we are flying with Ryan Air. The Ryan Air experience seems to mainly involve the air stewards walking up and down the aisle trying to sell you raffle tickets and hot dogs and automated messages from Ryan Air telling us about the hot dogs and raffle tickets. I asked one for a napkin 50 minutes ago and she said she’d be right back but I guess she was inundated with requests for raffle tickets and hasn’t found the time? I’ll keep you updated.

You’re only meant to bring 10kg of hand luggage on Ryan Air flights. I have 15 but nobody’s weighed me so they have no idea! When I was boarding the plane I acted like my bag was very light so they wouldn’t be suspicious, which was a real challenge. Thankfully I actually have an A Level in Theatre so at least I was qualified for the situation.

So I’m going to Seville for another work experience programme, this time with DSC Regen which is based in London. We’ve been doing Spanish lessons and training this week and we had to stay in London. Walking through London with all my luggage was a harrowing experience, not only because of the weight if it all, but because people kept getting up in my grill. I ran over two people’s feet and one dog. People in London have a dead zombified look about them on the commute, even if you try to catch their eye and smile they just have none of it. I do like the tube though, especially the bit where you get to stand in line and beep your card, it makes me feel like I’m living in the future!!!

I’m travelling with a big group of people from all over the place. The programme is themed “Community Development” so we’re all going to be working in organisations that are trying to save the world and stuff. I’m going to be saving the world by teaching Spanish children about the environment and conservation. There are a LOT of vegetarians in the group. For lunch I bought myself a mango and slaw noodle salad to try and fit in. It was disappointing. I feel this is going to be my fate for the next three months. New year, new me! Sarah version 2015!! Though, I think I’d find it hard to be totally veggie in Seville as the Spanish people have so many wonderful ways of preparing pig!

Here are things I’m excited to do in Seville:

(Finally) visiting the cathedral and the Giralda
Eating ice cream
Eating at…. La Azotea, La Brunilda, Cristina&Co, and lots of wonderful new places.
Seeing more flamenco
Meeting up with friends
Going to the modern art museum
Enjoying the weather as it gets warmer
Exploring new parts of the city
Not be robbed (TOUCH WOOD!!!)

Its a bit sad going back as most of my amazing friends that I had before won’t be there. I liked them all because they never judged me for how much I ate, peed and listened to chart pop music. What if my new friends aren’t as understanding?! What if they peer pressure me into listening to alternative music or cycling?! Its a scary situation but only time will tell.

Saludos for now, amigos.

Update: An air steward has just offered to sell me a raffle ticket again.

Best Tapas of Seville: Bodeguita Ojiva

Recently I’ve been telling myself I need to eat at home to save money. It hasn’t been a resounding success. Yesterday I compromises by instead of eating in a tapas bar, I had a tuna empanada from a fancy bread shop and then went home and ate a bag of chocolate coins. (They were both delicious. No regrets). And today I was wondering back to the flat planning the lunch I was going to cook and just happened to find myself inside Bodeguita Ojiva ordering their special of the day…its friday so it doesnt matter, right?
This little bodega (just off Puerta de Carmina on Calle San Estaban) has often caught my attention on my way to work, as small chalkboard outside advertises its special Guacamole Tapas. I’d never ventured inside though, partly because I never meet my friends this side of town, and also because I wasn’t sure whether to trust a place that has had the same “special guacamole” on offer for the entirety of my time in Seville.
In the end I was pretty impressed. Its a tiny bar, with cute chairs outside that just manage to get a dapple of sun despite being in one of Santa Cruz’s narrow pedestrian allies. My seat looked onto busy San Estaban, but the hubbub of traffic and families walking home from school made me feel pretty cosmopolitan. When I ordered, the friendly waitress asked, “you want a beer with that, right?”. And I replied, “yes. Yes I do.”
What to eat: the hot tapas are different every day, apparently. Today there were three choices. I went for the Carrillada con puree de papas. I was expecting pork cheek but it tasted more like lamb, served with pureed potatoes. The meat was in a deliciously gravy with onions and, surprisingly, raisins. This gave it a Morrocan kind of feel. It was was really, really good.

Not so great: they do a choice of breads with different toppings and sandwiches. I obviously had to get the guacamole. It was very smooth, served in toast with chopped tomato and onion. Yeah, it was all right, but not worth going out of your way for. Next time I’ll try something more unusual topping, like salmon orange and nuts.

I didn’t save any money. The menu is £2.50 and up, but it was tasty food and stylishly presented.

A Weekend in Seville

When I was on my year abroad, my parents visited me in Austria AND Cuba. Since graduating, however, relations between us have apparently turned sour. While I’m here in Seville they are not visiting me. You may have heard of angry parents changing the locks on the doors when their rogue offspring finally leave. Well it may not shock you to hear I come from quite a DRAMATIC family, and my parents decided to take it one step further and had a completely NEW door stuck onto the front of my house so that there are now two solid wooden barriers barring me from my family home! They  have NOT cut me a key! Christmas is going to be tense (if I ever get inside the building).

But don’t fret too much as even though the family have decided to barricade themselves in Wolverhampton until I return, I still had a VIP guest this weekend. I think Seville is probably the perfect city for a romantic get away… lots of winding streets, beautiful views, a passionate culture and a million and one tapas bars where you can drink and share food.

This is the itinerary I organised for our extended weekend in Seville. I thought I’d write it out in case anyone else is planning a visit!

Itinerary for a Romantic Weekend in Sevilla

We spent two nights at my gaff in Santa Cruz, and two in the hotel Sacristia de Santa Ana in the Alameda, which is on the other side of the old town.

Friday
Spend the morning wandering through the enchanting Santa Cruz district, which is the historical area of Seville. BE WARNED, if you don’t know your way around, for God’s sake take a map and be prepared to get very, very lost. (My colleague who’s worked here for 12 years says she still gets lost). Google maps is literally no help. If all else fails, try work out where the river is. If you can get to the river then you can get your bearings.

It was absolutely beautiful weather during our weekend in Seville. If the sun is shining, then head to the Alcázar de Sevilla. This beautiful moorish style palace has awesome architecture and some beautiful gardens, and its very romantic to wander around them in the sunshine, spotting peacocks hiding in the greenery and enjoying the water features.

If you can bare to take yourself out of the sunshine, head to the Cathedral (known as the Giralda) just across the road.

After the Alcázar we wandered through the Jewish quarter to the parks off Mendez Pelayo and had lunch.

After lunch, walk back through  the old town to the Parasol (also known as the Setas, which means mushrooms). You can take a drink at the top or just admire the wonderful views of the city.

In the evening, treat yourself to some high quality tapas and then head out on the town.
In Seville, students go to Alfalfa where there are cheap drink deals and busy bars. Afterwards you can go to the Alameda where clubs stay open til like 6am.

Saturday
Now if you used Friday to its full potential, you will need a bit of a lie in on Saturday. That’s okay – you’re on holiday!!

Seville Football Game

Treat yourself to a good breakfast. We really enjoyed Catalina&Co (Calle San Fernando).
Helpfully, this is on the way to the Plaza de Espana. If you’ve never seen this before, prepare to be mind blown. If you’ve got a bit of spare time then you can hire boats or bicycles and enjoy the Parque de María Luisa which is very stunnig.

In the evening, I really recommend a show at the Museo del Baile Flamenco. Very close by you can eat some traditional tapas, for example at La Bodega just off the Alfalfa. However, if you’re planning a fancy meal during the weekend don’t get caught out like we did and wait til Sunday, or the restaurant you’ve picked out might be closed!

Sunday
Sunday is a day of rest in Spain, and nearly all the shops shut, as well as some restaurants during the evening. In the day time though the restaurants and bars are full of families enjoying quality time together.
Take the chance to have a relaxed walk down to the river where you can have a drink in the sun looking at the beautiful views.

This weekend Sevilla FC were playing Granada. You can find out the listings of Sevilla FC and buy tickets online here and for their rivals, Real Betis Balompié, here. Sevilla FC’s grounds are by the Nervion shopping centre, we got there on the 32 bus from outside McDonald’s at Plaza del Duque. The 45,000 seater stadium was full to the brim with Seville fans, and it was lovely to watch the game as the sun set over the city.

In the evening we’d hoped to go to Eslava, but when that was shut we headed for the area near the cathedral, where restaurants aimed at tourists are open every day. And we totally lucked out with the Azotea resturant serving amazing tapas (my review).

If you’ve got any energy left (we were exhausted!) head round the corner to the EME Catedral Rooftop bar. This swanky joint has amazing views and AMAZINGLY EXPENSIVE DRINKS.

Monday

On Monday my VIP guest left Seville. We had a bit of breakfast near my house then headed to the Park to enjoy the weather. This is very convenient place to spend any spare time before the flight, as the bus to the airport goes from Prado de San Sebastian which is next  to the park.

It was a wonderfully busy weekend!

BESOS FROM SPAIN xxx

Highlights of Cuba!

When I first left Cuba, my main emotion was relief and excitement that there was such a wide availability of soft drinks and WiFi. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that my time in Cuba was actually real and not a seriously long daydream induced after watching too many episodes of The Prisoner.
The whole experience was quite challenging and emotionally DRAINING. To begin with, all I could remember was the bad stuff, which is why sometimes when people asked me if it was amazing, I looked at them like they were crazy. This was probably partly to do with the fact my last few days in Havana were a bit awkward. However, a couple of weeks at home and I’ve started to forget the bad stuff and only remember the good stuff! And it is nice to be at home, but its the same as it always has been, and when you’re abroad everything’s always new and different. Sometimes that’s a pain, sometimes it’s incredible.
Here are my TOP CUBAN HIGHLIGHTS ❤ aka What to do in Cuba on Your Year Abroad, What not to miss in Cuba, what’s great etcetc

  1. Visiting Plaza de la Revolucion on May 1st, joining in the big ass parade down past all the VIPs and Raul Castro himself
  2. Travelling in a pimped up 1950s car through Cuba’s impressive motorways and seeing the incredibly beautiful country side. The best of this is in gorgeous, gorgeous Vinales.
    Valle de Vinales
  3. Eating in Baracoa and spending time with the wonderful Bajan Roomate.
  4. Rowing through a lake in Cienfuegos and being surrounded by a sea of flamingos
  5. Haggling for taxis and souvenirs and being a boss
  6. Living in Havana with its beautiful, carefully restored architecture
    Havana architecture
  7. Chilling on the beach on the Caribbean sea. BEAUTIFUL! Beaches in Havana, Bay of Pigs, Trinidad and Baracoa.
  8. Sinking mojitos and NOT salsa-dancing at Cuba’s hippest clubs
  9. Getting an actual, visible tan!
  10. Weekending in Trinidad with my lovely fellow students, raving in a rave cave, eating posh food, getting drunk in the afternoon and generally just loving life
And last but not least….
Scuba Diving in the Bay of Pigs!
JUST KIDDING
hohoho