Every Easter I earmark a trip to Florence, in fact I have been there 7 times. Friends ask why I give up a chunk of my annual leave to the same place year in year out. Why?? OK I admit it; I’m obsessed. But it’s criminal to shrink this wonderful city down to the obvious highlights. Without playing down the rich Renaissance art, food, and history, there’s so much more to unpack that has niente to do with following the tourist trail. Each time I come to Florence I go off piste and it’s showed me a vibrant way of life, an envious way of living. But after a day or two, I want to explore and what you may not realise is that being in Florence puts you in an ideal place to spend what little time you have to open out and experience Italy as a whole.
For the past 11 months I’ve been single and, for the most part, cool about it. I have quite a bit going on and when I don’t, relish the idea of chilling out at home. So yes I really don’t mind being on my own. But, when I meet up with coupled friends, the social inadequacy creeps in and I think I should get myself a plus one. Everyone tells me to get back on to the online-dating front. But I just can’t find the courage to hit that “register” button. Memories of my 20s come flooding back where I was a relentless internet dater; Guardian Soul Mates, Time Out Dating, Match.com (3 times), My Single Friend.com, Badoo- at some point I have been a member of these. My bank statements prove it.
Looking back I can’t believe the amount of crap I took from various guys and now at the age of 33, it got me thinking. I could tell myself that it’ll be different this time, but the prospect of going through that clinical process of scrolling through online profiles turns my stomach. Let me explain…
Hold up, she said what? Yep you read right. After all for a region that is called the playground of the rich, you can expect Amalfi Coast to be over priced, poncy and a bit pretentious. But let’s face it, when you’re on the doorstep to some of the biggest stars, Sofia Loren, Armani to name a few, it’s no surprise! Yet look passed the glamour, glitz, 5-star restaurants and cliff-top views, there’s a more down-to-earth beauty about the Amalfi Coast.
This I came to learn after a 5-day visit in July ( high season) to celebrate my dad’s 69th birthday. As my sisters and I were paying for everything, budget was relatively tight so we could not indulge in too much. But it meant we had to be more creative and as a result we got a more authentic insight into this gorgeous part of Italy and the not so obvious beauty of Amalfi.
So here they are, my 5 reasons not to go Amalfi teemed up with 5 reasons you really should:
Ever notice that no matter how rigidly you keep to your styling routine, your curls never come out the same? It’s the mane reason women hate curls. But we shouldn’t blame ourselves, because a hair disaster might have something to do with our hormones. I got talking to trichologist and hair afficionada, Nicola Smart, about what exactly is going on with our curls at different stages of our lives and how best to tailor our regime to get the best out of them.
This month Prince Harry hosted an event with Heads Together, a mental health charity. In front of sports stars and the press he revealed how much he regretted the fact that he had not opened up earlier about the death of his mother, Princess Diana. Then only on Friday Prince William talked about how he dealt with loss when comforting a 14-year old boy at a hospice that supports youth bereavement. The headlines in both cases were very poignant and would tug at anyone’s heart strings. But more importantly it points to our attitude of overlooking how children deal with bereavement.
Over the last couple of months I have struggled to blog. My job at the BBC is stressful, my brain deep fried from constant computer work. When I get home I can barely type two words together. So I relent and crash on the couch. The weekends I reserve for fitness and recovering from the intense working week. But this life has taken its toll. Starving my creativity has hollowed me out.
London kills me. It’s like riding white-water rapids where at any moment the currents will dash you against the rocks. I daren’t park up at a posh restaurant in Mayfair just to while away the hours writing- do you know how much an hour is in Londoner years??!
So I decided to take five, five days to be exact and flee to Florence. I lived here in 2006, and since then have been back many a time. So it’s perfect. There’s no pressure to devour the art, history or sights. I will however devour the food. Willingly.
Ever wondered just what makes our hair curly? Why our hair springs out in twists while others’ flow in waves or straightness? Yes, genes are a big part of our hair-story, but I often questioned just what is in its biochemical make-up to make it act the way it does. Now that I’m in the natural-hair world, I decided that to better take care of my curls I need to get to the root of its structure. So time for me to geek out, don a lab coat and delve beneath the surface of our kinks and curls.
I don’t know what triggers these urges to write myself off as a human being but they are there. Fear of being stigmatised for it, made me regress deeper into myself. Until now. The point is I have it and am doing something about it. Some paper over the cracks, others choose to ignore it and soldier on.
I decided to get real about my condition. Bit by bit I have found ways to take the edge off it; my Buddhist faith, exercise, hobbies, travelling, writing and therapy – it’s a zillion-pronged strategy. Read on to find out my survival skills – they might be the signposts to your own road to recovery.
Curls are the constant dread of girls. For Asians there is a pressure to nuke the hell out of our hair to achieve that glossy mane so tossed about onscreen. It is rarely talked about…that is until BBC Radio London asked me to guest on a panel discussion about hair. I jumped at the chance, wanting to address the Asian prejudices against curls. Joining me on the show were natural hair blogger Valley Fontaine and the winner of BBC2 Hair Phil Hunt.