And so it seems that 9 months has suddenly become 1 month, and I have no idea where the time has gone, you know what they say ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ and I completely agree. The weird and wonderful thing about time is that it is completely yours to spend on whatever you want and with whomever you want, but we never reallllyyy spend it wisely until we can see an end. 9 months seemed like such a long time and now a month seems too little and I know it’ll zoom by. Anyways, now I’ve been on a mission to make the most of my time left even more and live each day, hour, minute and second. I always try to wake up and spend each day as if it were my last, especially since as you all know, my dad died. It really was a wake up call as to how quickly time slips by and how we never truly know when will be our last moment of time; and so we should make the most of any bit of time we have, try to be as positive as we can, spread joy to others, surround yourself with those who make you feel truly happy and do the things you’ve always want to do. I guess this year here has made me realise that time is more valuable than I ever imagined. Well, this panic that time here is flying by might just explain my weekend full to the brim with wonderful activities.

On Friday i was super excited to go to ‘Los patios’ in Córdoba, so many people had told me what a feast for the eyes it would be and how it was one thing not to miss. I didn’t want to get up my expectations too much, because expectations kill everything, but I was looking forward to going. The truth is I love flowers, they’re a truly beautiful thing and brighten up my day with all their tones and shapes and sizes, and well, no 2 flowers are the same. They show that beauty comes in many different forms. 🌼🌸🌺🌻🌷 I met my friend that’s working as an auxiliar in Cadiz and she brought one of the American Auxiliar’s that she’s now friends with. It was nice to meet someone new, as I haven’t for a while and I really do like getting to know new people. I have to say, the patios were all that I hoped, and truly gorgeous and spectacular. Those people should be very proud of themselves for creating their masterpieces and I loved that no patio was the same. The patios were ‘blooming’ brilliant!! Whilst in Córdoba I also acted a tour guide for my 2 different visitors, I really wouldn’t recommend myself as a tour guide. I learnt that the key was just to make up dates about buildings 😂 and well, in this life we have to fake it until we make it. I was however better at being tour guide for the shops and restaurants; you can see where my priorities lie. But you really should all be proud of me for suggesting that they try typical Cordoba food aka flamenquin and salmorejo (I definitely did not have any salmorejo) to be honest I was more excited about my smoothie, basically the fruit version of salmorejo.

After the spring filled day of Friday, Saturday was time for another adventure!! although this one really was an adventure. But before this, I really needed some energy and so went and got a toastada with tomate and jamón. (I’m secretly becoming Spanish at heart) the adventure of Saturday was to climb the sierra de Rute. You may be thinking ‘wow, are you crazy?!’ But the truth is that I love hiking and being in the great outdoors. It makes me feel at home and as a child I was brought up going for walks in the countryside and being surrounded by nature and incredible views. Obviously with me going on a trip, it didn’t start off super smoothly as we got up and walked to the front of the bus too soon for the bus stop, to which the entire bus started looking at us weirdly and laughing… obviously we were the definition of ‘guiri’ and then when I went to Mercadona to get a pastry, the woman at the till told me I had to weigh them. I MEAN IN WHAT OTHER MERCADONA DO YOU HAVE TO WEIGH YOUR PASTRY AND OF COURSE THEY WERE THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SHOP! But I really did want that pastry, so I complied with her rules and smiled sweetly, whilst she definitely judged me as a silly tourist.

Don’t worry, we eventually started our hike, and all of it was just so much fun and with incredible views. The whole way up we could see the Iznajar reservoir and it was stunning, i really couldn’t stop looking at it, so much so that I walked up the hill backwards so I could look at it (and well, the hill didn’t seem so big if i couldn’t see what i was climbing 😂) the reservoir glowed with the sun and it was definitely more full than when I went in October (obviously the rain was good for something). When we reached the top of the sierra, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes, the view was breathtaking and you could see for miles! It was worth the clambering over rocks and basically rock climbing and my foot getting stuck in between 2 rocks 😂😂 at the top we took in the views and of course rewarded ourselves with food and a beverage!

After we had restored energy it was time to descend this mountain, and this sounds crazy but I actually prefer climbing up the mountain because my clumsiness affects me less 😂😂 also, it’s a lot of brain work to climb down rocks on a slope, I found this out when I was being a typical chatterbox and tripped down some rocks, but hey, I have some lovely leg scrapes as a souvenir! And at least I didn’t fall completely down the mountain because then you wouldn’t be getting anymore amazing blogs 😝😝coming down the view of the reservoir was incredible, the water looked like the bright blue Powerade drink and as the sun began to go down, the whole environment changed. However, once again the ground wasn’t my friend, it turns out that gravel is reaaaalllyy hard to walk on when going down hill, so much so that I adopted the slide on your bottom approach 😂😂 But it was worth it because when we made it to the bottom, there were 2 newborn goats still with the umbilical chord, so probably less than an hour old. It was magical and truly felt like spring. They were so cute and adorable, I named them Craig and Cathy (obviously so there was alliteration with Cabra) . Sadly we had to pull ourselves away from the goats to get the bus, but on the way, we bumped into the virgin celebrations in Rute, with lots of people in flamenco dresses and with flowers and music booming down the street. I REALLY DO JUST LOVE SPAIN AND ALL ITS WHAT SEEMS LIKE SPONTANEOUS STREET CELEBRATIONS. Of course the bus was half an hour late though haha

I truly did have a wonderful weekend and I’m so happy about everything there is to do here. I hope you all are enjoying the start of spring (summer for me) too and enjoying every second

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My adventure with Araceli

Well, here I am, sat on my sofa  with a cup of tea and some Cadbury’s chocolate; of course trying not to eat the whole bar or fall asleep after the craziness of this weekend (could I be anymore British) But, the thing is, this weekend I haven’t felt British at all, my heart has been here in Spain and in Lucena. I’m actually struggling to put into words what I saw this weekend, which for me, as some of you may know is a rare moment that I have nothing to say! 😂🙈 but I’m going to try my best to convey how incredibly lucky I feel to have seen this festivity. 

I’m not quite sure where to begin, but I should really admit that when I arrived in Lucena I never thought the name Araceli would play such an important role in my life whilst being in Spain, or anywhere in the world. I can’t lie that it all began when little by little I began to realise that there are a lottttttt of Araceli’s in Lucena, it’s such a beautiful and original name. But it must be confusing to have so many Araceli’s when someone calls ‘Araceli’ in the street or even the classroom, sadly I don’t have that problem as I’ve never met another Dellisia. One of my classes has 5 Araceli’s in, and well, at least if i say Araceli, someone will answer. Well, apart from it being such a lovely name, I soon realised that she is the saint of Lucena and it made a little more sense. But this was only the start of my Araceli journey. 

I quickly learned that I could go and visit Araceli on the hill, well mountain if you try to climb it by foot 😂 and that’s where my love-hate relationship with her began, I really really wanted to see her as I learnt more about what she symbolised and the important role she played for most people here. Anyways, to cut the story short,  3 attempts to see Araceli later by walking up that slope… I FAILED!! It was closed all 3 times I climbed, even when my mum and sister came. Let’s just say they weren’t too impressed, with my mum telling me ‘so I’ve walked up this hill just to see the olives I saw from my plane’ 😂🙈 well, it’s a good job that I like hiking, I got some exercise and the views are amazing , andddddd it added some more excitement to FINALLY see Araceli. 

As you can imagine, it was a big moment when I finally got to see Araceli, but in plaza nueva and not up the mountain. She was worth the wait, but all the best things never come easy and good things come to those who wait! 💪🏻 I was quite nervous to see her the first time after so many attempts. The church was full of people admiring her and praying, there was even a small girl singing and dancing which was very moving. I even lit a candle for my dad in there. Also, I can’t believe I’ve not been in that church before, it’s been a mystery as I walk past it everyday! 

However, it’s now time to talk about about the real excitement and the reason I’m writing this blog (I just seem to get distracted and waffle a lot). Well, these fiestas aracelitanas have really captured my heart and also left me very confused. The truth is that I’ll never fully understand the events of the weekend, but it filled me with so much happiness and emotion, even if I was mind boggled. It all started with the party that is the feria of Friday night. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the casetas or a feria, as we don’t have them in the UK, but I’ve decided that we really should start having these amazing social events!! 👏🏻🎉 before going to the feria, us guiris decided we should pay our own respects to Araceli, so we set off a Chinese lantern with messages for her. However, not all went to plan (of course it didn’t with my bad luck) and it set fire to itself and landed on the roof- let’s just say we quickly had to become firefighters to extinguish the fire, nobody wants to be known as the arsonist guiris😂😂 and well, wouldn’t be getting the deposit for the flat back then hahaa 

Saturday really was something special to witness, and I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. There i was going for tapas oblivious to the events in plaza nueva, but little did I know that as I turned the corner, I was about to witness something rather unique and inspiring. There were what felt like thousands of people queueing up to offer flowers to Araceli, and some of the bouquets were incredible! However the most spectacular and interesting thing was a donkey, a real life donkey carrying flowers into the church for Araceli. To be honest with you it felt like a dreams and I couldn’t quite believe my eyes, but it really did happen. Also, the dresses that lots of women were wearing was another intriguing thing, not to offend anyone but they did look like something from Victorian times, but hey, that’s my opinion and I’m sure they’re very traditional. I enjoyed the variety of colours of them that people wore. Well, it was a feast for the eyes, such a fantastic thing to see. Later that evening it was time for the, yup you guessed it, feria again with some friends here and one of your previous language assistants, some of you might know Caroline. She says hello. 

Well, this final section of this verrrrry long blog (or more like the entire Quijote) is the Sunday and the part I really really wanted to talk about!! After my street stopped flooding and the rain eventualllyyyy came to a stop, I honestly thought I’d need to get a boat (I may be used to rain, but this rain was a whole new level) I was able to stop being a prisoner in my own flat and escape to join the festivities! I was told that Araceli wouldn’t approve if I didn’t dress nicely, so it was an excuse to be able to dress up and look like an acceptable human for once. 😂😂 So, we were ready for Araceli to make her way out of the church, and it was a tense moment as they tried to get her out the church along with the music, and I have to say I was in awe at the amount of people lining the streets to see her- a moment of pure joy! The orchestra played for her and the damas de honor lead the way with their multicoloured dresses. 

Saving the best until last- THE SUNDAY EVENING!! In all honestly, an evening that I will never ever ever forget!! It was an evening of pure happiness, unity, joy, love and a moment I felt truly happy to be alive. I had no idea what to expect about these fireworks, but they did not disappoint. I was luckily able to get a great spot by standing on a bench in plaza nueva (perfect because otherwise I’m so small I wouldn’t be able to see, even with my heels) and as Araceli entered the plaza silence filled the air as everyone concentrated on her. It was truly inspiring and beautiful to watch as the lights were switched off and Araceli glowed and moved so effortlessly through the sea of people. I was already blown away and touched by the situation, but then the music began and the fireworks. THESE FIREWORKS WERE LITERALLY OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! I have no words to describe how fantastic they were and how stunning the looked with the backdrop of San Mateo and Araceli edging closer to her destination. I have to admit, the moment was so compelling, that it brought me to tears! But I really think moments like that make you think deeply about how lucky we are to be alive and to share such precious things and how we have to make the most of every single moment! I am truly so lucky to have seen those fireworks. Well, after trying to sort out my mascara that miraculously hadn’t ran down my face (I can’t believe I’ve found a mascara that when it says waterproof, it actually is haha) it was time for, you’ll never guess what, THE FINAL NIGHT OF FERIA!!!! 

 

Anyways, it was such a wonderful weekend filled with hikes, partying, spectacular sights, time spent with amazing people and something I’ll never forget!! It was lovely to see so many of you around and I hope you all enjoyed as much as I did! I really think I’ll be returning to watch it again next year. 

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The final puente!!

Wow, I can’t believe we had yet another puente, but sadly my last puente. When I first arrived in Spain I didn’t understand what a puente was!! Everybody seemed to get so excited over them, and my thought was… why is everyone so excited about a bridge? And where does this bridge come from? Well, now I love these surprise magical long weekends that allow you to do exciting things!! I really think the UK should start having them too. I’ve been lucky enough to take advantage of my puentes and travel around quite a bit. I’ve been to Cadiz, Morocco, Valencia, Amsterdam and in this puente I’ve been to Estepona with my housemate and another language assistant.

It has felt like a tropical paradise and so lovely to relax. We stayed in a lovely little Aldea on the outskirts of Estepona and it reminded me of family holidays to France where we would stay in a caravan on a big campsite; surrounded by forest, cook together and spend quality time together. The interior of our Aldea was super cool with lots of quirky objects; it also had a semi sea view and a cute balcony area. The only slight problem was the low ceiling to get to the bed upstairs! I mean, I’m really short, as you’ve probably all noticed as I blend in as a student around school, but even I had to duck my head. (I finally felt like a tall person)

Well, enough about where we stayed. Estepona is a super beautiful part of Spain along the coast and I’d never visited there before, and it’s always good to discover new places. It is very similar to benalmadena and fuengirola, where I have spent many family holidays by the beach, soaking up the sun, trying to cram as much as we could into the week in sunny Spain. But on this occasion, us 3 language assistants decided that we needed a relaxing holiday (or as they would say in a very American way, a vacation) we spent the first afternoon at the beach, I’m beginning to wonder how I’m going to survive if it gets any warmer (if any of you have a pool, I’ll happily come and test if it’s okay for you 😝😝) and that evening I cooked fajitas for us! I must say one of the most exciting parts of this puente is that I’ve been in a tourist part of Spain where I could buy all my British comforts that I’ve missed; especially my favourite drink and my facecream that I’ve been rationing 😂! And I was able to hear many British tourists, I really miss hearing English accents, and hearing them made me feel at home. The funny thing is, that i could spot the English tourists based on what they were wearing: a rucksack, saddles and shorts! We really do have a look!

After settling in to our home for 5 days, it was time to explore!! We went into the old town centre, and it was gorgeous!! 😍 everything was very Andalusian with white houses and lots of prettily painted flower pots hanging along the street (it must take them a long time to colour coordinate) we also looked at the church and the clock tower, and even had time to have a cheeky cocktail, afterall I was ‘on my hollys’. That afternoon, it was time to relax on the beach again. Sadly, relaxing on the beach isn’t one of my talents, I’m one of those excited the kids that likes to do things all the time. But on this occasion I managed a little while lying on the beach (with factor 50, trying to avoid looking like a classic Burris tourist… a lobster) but after that I went for a swim, a walk along the beach, and skimmed stones. Another perk of being in a tourist area was the variety of food!!! The moment I escape lucena, I have to get my fix of international food, and this week in my mission to keep my taste buds alive was Thai food!!

The next day we went on an exploration of Estepona, and despite it raining on us, found a hidden beach that was almost like something from pirates of the Caribbean. The coastal line was rocky, and with lots of trees, I loved it. We could also see Gibraltar, which during this trip I have become very fond of the rock which I now call ‘Gib’ for short!! We also came across one of those pyramids on the beach that you can climb, my inner kid came out and I climbed to the top; and even managed to see Africa! (Cue Shakira’s song ‘ waka waka’)   After exploring, it was another day chilling at the beach (doesn’t make for very exciting stories) apart from it was very windy, and the sand kept attacking us, it was actually really painful. We also discovered the picturesque port, and spent some time there that evening, there was a really great atmosphere with lots of people and music which I couldn’t resist dancing to. On other evenings, the TV was on our side, with dirty dancing coming on and sex in the city!

Now, you might think that this trip is going very smoothly for me, and pretty uneventful. However, no trip with me is completely smooth. sadly, I forgot to put suncream on my feet and ended up with some verrrrryyy red feet! Anddddd I somehow managed to get conjunctivitis, but hey, those things didn’t dampen my spirits! However, the one thing that did, was when I smashed the bottle of wine by opening the fridge, that was tragic! Also, when my chocolate melted, that was also a sad moment. Above all, it has been a very relaxing trip and I feel rejuvenated! I hope to come back one day and create more memories. How did you spend your puente??

Well, now I’m on my bus home, trying not to eat the entire big packet of my favourite British crisps (salt and pepper kettle crisps) and enjoying the views from the bus. HAPPY MAY EVERYONE, and here’s to an incredible final month!! 💪🏻👌🏻💃🏽

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Collect moments, not things

Spain, you really are more wonderful than I thought! I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have visited Spain many times before on family holidays and with friends, but this year I’m discovering there is a lot more to Spain than the sun (which has finally returned, keeping my fingers crossed) and the sandy beaches. The truth is I love exploring new places and travelling, for me it’s an important thing in life. I love disconnecting from busy life and escaping to a new place. I also love new adventures and finding things off the beaten track, there are lots of magical things in this world to see. Life is short and the world is wide.

These past 2 weekends I have made the most of having friends also on their year abroad. Last weekend I went to Granada and I fell in love. I was able to be a real tourist by going to visit Alhambra. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen and it truly captured my heart. It also made great photographs on such a sunny summer feeling day. It wasn’t just the Alhambra that took my breath away,Granada as a city was incredible, although I still don’t understand why it’s called ‘pomegranate’ when there aren’t any pomegranates in Granada. My friend and I made the most of international food options and went to an all your can eat Chinese restaurant, one day I’ll learn that just because it called ‘buffet libre’ doesn’t mean I have to try and eat everything 😂. We also went to the Nevada shopping centre, I love shopping but sometimes, like any young girl, I buy a little too many! I loved Granada so much that I didn’t want to come back to Lucena, I could’ve lived in Granada quite happily, but of course I secretly love Lucena.

Granada was such a dream that I thought i wouldn’t find any other Spanish city that I loved as much. I was wrong. This weekend I’ve been in Cadiz to see another friend. I really love being able to see friends whilst I’m here in Spain, people who I can be completely myself with and have a genuine catch-up with. Also, both of these friends are also language assistants so it’s nice to compare stories and have a laugh over funny stories we have; there’s always something new with teaching  and no day is ever the same. Thank you for each having a unique character that makes each day new and exciting, you really are helping to make my experience in Spain a lot better!! 😌 please don’t become rebels anytime soon!!

I’ve been to cadiz twice before, I went in June when my dad and I came to see what Lucena was like. I decided to go for a solo day trip to Cadiz. That trip wasn’t very successful because I got off at the wrong train station far away from the city centre and nearly missed my train home, but mishaps make stories eeey! I also went back in October to see my friend then, and we spent lots of time on the beach and talking about how being abroad is actually really hard. It’s nice to see how much my friend has achieved and how she’s built a new life in Cadiz since I last saw her. Unfortunately the weather this weekend has been awful, there was no beach opportunity, I nearly got blown away with the strong winds. We decided to explore a new place. We went to Puerto de Santa María. When we first arrived, there wasn’t anything interesting to do, so we went to Aldi, it was very exciting and brought back university memories. But eventually we found the tourism office and discovered there were things to do. We went into the cathedral, saw the castle and a palace. It was a really cute place and I would definitely visit again. My favourite part about Cadiz was being able to see the sea. I love the sea, it’s such a calming place and I love the sound of the sea.

I hope all of you have had the most amazing weekends too, and enjoying the sunshine! I’m sure a lot of you are enjoying Araceli’s pilgrimage down the mountain.

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Friendships are like 4 leaf clovers: hard to find but lucky to have! 🍀☘️

I thought I would write a little about friendships for you all. The truth is that whilst I am here in Spain I really miss all of my friends from back home in the UK. I am fortunate because i have an amazing group of friends from all over the UK. I have met these people throughout my life; some at university through dance, some through charity work and some on my course. But i also have friends that I have grown up with, we’ve been through a lot together.

I have 4 best friends at home and they are really amazing and special people in my life. They always support me, have my back no matter what and make me laugh. They’re the people I can cry and laugh with, they’re with me through the fantastic times and the tough times. I’m not sure what I would do without my friends, they’re the family we get to choose! 💕

I’m also very lucky to have made some great friends whilst being here in Spain, I didn’t expect to meet so many super lovely people, and for that I’m very grateful. I think we meet people in our life for a reason and some of them become some of your best friends when you least expect it. It’s great having new friends from different countries, of different ages and with different interests because I have learnt lots of new things, been given some amazing life advice and enjoyed myself. I’m lucky that I can make friends in new places, but as my dad always said to me: ‘you attract the people you want to attract and if you’re nice to people they’ll be nice back, kindness gets your a long way in life.’ I think friendships are about fining people you click with and feel comfortable around.

I think friendships are one of the most important things to have in life, and I’ve learnt this a lot more recently! Friends are the people you can argue with and fall out with but then realise you can’t live without and everything always goes back to normal. They are people that inspire you every day and know more than you do about yourself and your life. They are something that need to be cherished, because although I like alone time, my friends make the world a better place. What do you think makes a good friend? Do you think friendships are important?

As I am getting older I realise that true friends will always stick by you and that it’s more about quality than quantity!

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Life back in ‘sunny’ Spain

Well, where do I begin? It has been 2 full weeks since I have been back in Spain permanently. Firstly, I would just like to thank you for making me feel welcome upon my return; I have kept the poster you have made me in a very special place.


Thanks to you all because Wow!! Spain, sadly you haven’t been as good to me! I am going to be a stereotypical British person now and talk about the weather; in England we always talk about weather a) if you don’t have anything else to talk about b) to fill awkward silences and c) because some British people like to moan. WHat has happened to that summer feeling I was expecting? I thought Spain was supposed to be tropical and sunny? I thought this would be the year I would finally get a tan (Sadly I am not blessed with skin that has a sun kissed glow) but it appears this will not be the year. I appreciate that the rain makes me feel like I am at home in England, but I would really like to not have to worry about my umbrella turning upside down or whether I can make it to school without getting completely soaked. The rain even stopped some of Semana Santa’s processions, but at least the sun came out for a few days that week. I definitely took advantage of the sun with my mum and sister. We went to Malaga beach, enjoyed a sunny Cordoba and walked up the Sierra de Araceli. What do you think about this weather? Anyways, at least it means I can play some of my all time favourite songs ‘Umbrella by Rhianna’, ‘It’s raining men by the weather girls’ ‘ Rain by The Script’  and ‘set fire to the rain by Adele’  (There are some recommendations should you want to brush up on that weather vocabulary). But believe it or not, here are some positives to this awful weather and it is always important to look on the bright side of life. The countryside is beautiful and very green. It reminds me of home because I live near lots of green English countryside and the river Thames: I actually miss seeing water. Another benefit is that now when a sign says ‘rio’, there is actually a river there. Also, it makes you appreciate those sunny days a lot more.

Well, I am sure this lovely weather will fb be here very shortly, and then I will probably moan about the heat because it is too hot and still an unacceptable temperature to wear shorts 😛 when do you think it will get warm again? What do you do when the weather is bad?!

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OUR GERMAN FRIENDS FROM VERL

Our German friends have received our letters; look at their happy faces! We are looking forward to seeing them next October.

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