Saltley Gas Towers

Birmingham’s industrial landscape matches so well with this week’s travel theme : Metal. I caught the Saltley gas towers on the train home from Leicester a few years ago. If you come and go from the north or east of the city by train, you’ll be very familiar with these. You’ll always have a marker on that path, whether that gleaming green and white warehouse on side of the motorway, or the beautiful big church just as you enter the city, there will always be some marker that in your heart fills you with a feeling of “nearly home!”. It’s always going to be a mixed emotion, still happy to be travelling and full of fresh memories, but sad because you know that the minute you step through that door the adventure is over.


Gas Towers


10 Statements on Most Common Assumptions about Mexico

From my good friend Miguel, cycling from Canada to Chile on a big eco-tourism, heritage, sustainable development, community, conservation project!


When traveling, we all have, thankfully or unfortunately, predispositions and expectations. We have heard a lot about Mexico. Before our departure from France, but mostly here in the American continent, from the medias, from people, before entering in the country, here in the country from people talking about neighbouring areas…

Experience It Yourself!

Most of the time, unconsciousness and lack of knowledge drive to fear of the neighbourhood, that make new rumors, incorrect or partial information. Thanks to or because of bad information the TV and other medias, supported by governments.

Also, talking to people and informing about the country you are visiting is well worthy when traveling, in order to prepare your journey, immerse yourself in the culture, understand some traditions, situations, conflicts, problems that you will face soon, or not. It is all about learning from your virtual or living experience, keeping your critical abilities.

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#100happydays Days 35 – 41

Day 35 – After nine days in New York I needed some healthy food, so a full fruit bowl made me very optimistic about the Summer coming up!

Day 36 – One of my Guides does Gardening Club at school and gave me a leek as a thank you. Cooked it up with a chicken and bacon and potato mess the following day.

Day 37 –  An invitation to my friend’s hen night. She’s been living in Australia for three years now so I can’t wait!

Day 38 – Our Spanglish got a bit out of hand when we invented some new words, on top of tidyupear, the versatility of this language made me happy on Thursday!

Day 39 – A big catch-up with my friend and a healthy walk in the park on a sunny Friday evening.

Day 40 – There’s this new loyalty card and our first use at The Warehouse Café was both our first use and their first customer to present it!

Day 41 – A surprise phone call from my friend to finalise our travel plans for a different friends hen party.

I want to stay in the EU

I want to stay in the EU. There I said it. I put my political point of view out there for everyone to see. As an honorary member of the large expat community in Birmingham, I do feel strongly about this.

So, could Eastern European immigrants take British jobs? What the hell does it matter? Surely a good company will hire the person that’s best for the job regardless of where they are from, or how long they have been in the country. You’re not going to hire a Romanian that can barely speak English to a mobile phone call centre job. I don’t have the exact numbers but I believe that the actual immigration figures since the UK welcomed Romania are significantly less than all that hype before the borders opened.

People get so lazy, and snobby, people used to work. “Why should we work if the government gives us a nice £45 a week to do nothing? I wouldn’t want a stupid cleaner job anyway.” With that attitude you really can’t complain that immigrants come in and take “your” jobs. We’re now enriched with a new workforce with a new ethic of hard work and commitment because they feel lucky to be in a situation that can give them a better life. The Romanians are the new Poles are the new Indians are the new Irish. And nobody’s even noticed the sudden influx of Spanish, would it be because they are better educated? Or because they are from a country whose democratic and social values match our own more closely?

in eu

I’m in!

There’s a member of UKIP that I sometimes find in my social circle, whose wife is from Eastern Europe. I find that so conflicting. Think about the law, power of attorney gives you the right to make someone’s decisions for them – one of the only decisions that is not covered is who to vote for in elections. The law of the land deems this to be so personal and so integral to that person that nobody else can make that decision at all. So how can you feel so strongly about Nigel Farage and his piss-poor pointless rhetoric and still live your life to the contrary?

You encounter so much casual racism in the world, at work my colleagues have just had a conversation about hospital wards “Yeah there weren’t none of them in there, they bring their own food and it stinks / Thankfully everyone was white when I went in”. P*ki and Ch*nky are banded around the office like they are people’s names. It makes me cringe. I hide in my work, not saying anything.

Freedom of movement is a powerful thing. Without Europe the UK would be left to flounder in the saturated world of global politics. As it is we stand dipping our toes in the water, we kept the pound, we have very different internal policies and we don’t make waves in Brussels, Frankfurt and Strasbourg. We cannot compete with Germany or even France at this stage, surely the best solution is to keep the borders open and embrace the cultural and economic advantages that brings.

Not to mention, my job would be a lot easier if the UK stays in. Imagine the extra paperwork!

#100happydays Days 28 – 34

Day 28 – A lovely sit down in Gran Electrica in Brooklyn after a long but beautiful walk by the sea. Food was lovely but it was the sit down that really made me happy!

Day 29 – The Staten Island Ferry is free, and a lovely way to see the city skyline and the Statue of Liberty from up close. I was happy that it was free!

Day 30 – You already know that I’m rubbish with my hair, but today I managed to wear it in plaits, and they stayed in for most of the day!

Day 31 – We move on to New Haven, so as I throw my Subway ticket away, I remember how lively it was. There were always people bustling about, and remembering the previous day where at 34th Street Station I was watching a boy solve a Rubiks Cube at lightening speed while a busker played The Beatles Here Comes The Sun while the rain pounded the streets above.

Day 32 – Finally a sunny day! Perfect to explore Yale University. After the previous day’s pouring rain it was wonderful to have a walk around in the sun.

Day 33 – This was the wedding of one of Daniel’s friends to his beautiful American fiancée. Daniel did the Best Man’s speech and absolutely nailed it! Every day he makes me so happy but after that I couldn’t stop smiling.

Day 34 – A last look at Nueva Yorkcito before getting on the plane home. I’ve spoken so much more Spanish than English, and although the US is an English speaking country I’ve actually never visited it with English natives. For me I associate it only with speaking Spanish, and that much practice has made me very happy indeed.

Five pieces of advice I wish I’d had…

Twenty years ago… To my eleven year-old self, I wish someone had advised me that physical health and fitness is as important as intellectual challenges and being sociable. Also, don’t worry about how popular you are, this is just one life stage, there’s much better to come!
Fifteen years ago… At sixteen I would throw that careers advisor’s words back in her face and advise myself to do Chemistry. I wish I’d received what I tell people now, study what you want, there are no limits at university and in life, you can do Psychology with English Language, you can do Mechanical Engineering with French. Stick to what you want to do, don’t listen to anyone else because you might just end up scraping a pass at Economics and regretting it for the rest of your life.
Ten years ago… At 21 I was in Spain, and already enjoying the best piece of advice I’d ever had, two years previous one of my Italian friends (Erasmus in Leicester) told me, “Katherine, Don’t study on your Erasmus year, just party – all the time!” Luckily my grades there didn’t count for anything on my Leicester course, so I did indeed do just that! Back to uni though for the final year, I wish I was advised that hard work pays off, you cannot rest on your laurels because you enjoyed the class, you have to deliver in the exam. Read the books on your course, don’t just skip through or find the plot on the internet.
Five years ago… I was 26, I was advised to start a pension which I still pay into. But I wish I had been advised to start saving for a deposit on a house, or at least start managing money better. At that point I didn’t care, I was going on holidays, moving out of my parents and having a taste of real freedom again, I was still planning to go to Spain in the long run, so it was the least of my worries.
One year ago… Start exercising, regularly. Physical health and fitness is just as important as having a job you love, a wonderful fiancée, and a loving family. You’ll regret it when you’re older. And I’m still telling myself this now.
Looking at this, is it really advice I wish I’d been given? Or advice I wish I’d listened to? The media, friends, family, every conversation results in a piece of advice, every question you ask, every doubt you have, every motivational picture you see on instagram imparts advice. From “Don’t wear red and green together…” to “This mortgage is better for you because…”. It’s easy to blur the lines between the conversations you have and the things you see on TV, for example, every advert suggests you need this thing, it advises that this thing is good for mood, lifestyle, social status, health etc. You talk about products between friends, skincreams, pension plans, new cooking sauces. Everywhere you look, advice, advice advice!

#100happydays Days 21 – 27

Have been on my holibobs the last couple of weeks, so here is what I wasn’t able to upload for the last two Sundays :

Day 21 – Getting ready for holidays, spent hours one evening researching things to do in New York. Well anticipation is most of the excitement of holidays, so I was very happy to start looking at what we were going to to there.

Day 22 – Broke a nail opening a tin of tuna. Started bitching about it because we were going on holiday two days later, and needed my nails in tact to be able to paint them for the wedding in Connecticut. Daniel just said “But uñitas are still lovely!”, he’s always on hand to make me feel happier before I get too upset about these things.

Day 23 – Planning meeting for Guides and Brownies, the first official one since the Brownies started, we spent four hours giggling and planning and remembering how much I love being a Guide Leader!

Day 24 – Procrastination, but this lemonade at Madeleine, having a coffee and a chat with my Mom was lovely, then running home to pack my ass off.

Day 25 – Our New York home. I think what I was really happy about here was the fact that the apartment had wifi! But this is our Mirrorball Bed, a cute little studio apartment that was home for six nights, three suitcases, eight deli sandwiches, and three hangovers.

Day 26 – An ice cream at the Rockefeller Centre, enjoying the site-seeing, and we managed to talk about our wedding without a mysterious “Wedding Headache” Daniel. Just wonderful to watch the world go by before going up to the Observation Deck for a beautiful view out.

Day 27 – A real American diner, just like in the movies! A toasted grilled cheese sandwich with sweet potato fries. The start of the slippery slope to putting on about 10lbs while away, but it was delicious! – Square Diner in the Tribeca, NYC♥NYC has more information.