Thursday, 31 March 2016

Travel Photo Diary: A Day Out in London - Wicked, Covent Garden, Big Ben

On the 29th of March my beautiful Mama and I embarked on a journey to central London. For my mum it was an especially exciting time because it was essentially her first time since being pregnant with yours truly that she was able to actually explore London. I loved every single moment of it playing the part of a perfect tourist pretty well. Tourist essentials, the fancy camera (that I still don't know how to completely work out myself), the huge rucksack and the puzzled I-have-no-idea-where-I'm-going look on your face. I had all of these. A Grammy-winning performance.

No, but in all seriousness, I actually put us on the wrong train.

After walking from Charing Cross Station to The Grosvenor Hotel on Victoria Street we managed to stop by Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. My mum although not entirely appreciating the long, busy, buzzing walk through the hordes of Londoners and tourists appreciated the sights we were able to see on the way there.

I'll admit another thing, Google Maps saved our lives.

Walking along Victoria Street, I came to a halt, suddenly realising that I had my face nose-deep into following my sat-nav that I actually forgot that I didn't set it to our hotel. However, after stopping and lifting my eyes from my device I turned to my left and found that we had unknowingly stopped right outside our destination.

How handy.

The hotel door swivelled, you know, the ones that always become a key area of the hotel where guests and employees get stuck in, on television shows anyway. It was great and terrifying at the same time.

Our room was lush and so was the ability to finally sit down.

After getting dressed for the evening, after much deliberation, (or not, as it was the only additional outfit that I had actually packed) I decided to go for a black, 3/4 sleeve shift dress from Matalan, tights and black, patent, heeled brogues from Tesco’s as my outfit. For a pop of colour I added my red scarf that is also from Tesco’s.

At around 6 o'clock we left to explore Victoria Street before the show.

I also forgot my contact solution and these were a fresh pair of contacts. Rookie error. I was so thankful when I remembered that some shops in London don't close until late, Specsavers was one of these.

We struggled with killing time on this section of Victoria Street we found that Hotel Chocolat and Pret A Manger (they're everywhere) was the best we could do. At 6:36pm we made our way over to the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Roadworks were happening everywhere over the two days that we were in London and I mean crossing the street is just a struggle for me anyway let alone with five hundred roadworks going on!

We turned up just on time to the show and there was a bit of waiting time to kill until the doors opened at 7pm. I used this time to order popcorn in a bucket (a purchase that cost way too much), I then went to the counter to order a drink. A very sophisticated drink mind you.

A mixed slushie.

In a Wicked plastic cup.

I kid you not.

After leaving the counter, adamant that I would not spend any more money, I spotted a lady holding programmes and I just had to. When would I ever get this chance ever again anytime soon?

So as the doors opened, we ran through to the centre of the theatre and sat in the second row from the front with my expensive popcorn, Wicked mug and programme like a true 21 year old. It was my first time seeing a musical theatre production in the West End, what else was I supposed to do?

I remember, as the curtains opened and the first song opened, I thanked the Lord that I was able to experience this. It was a breath-taking performance, reeling me into the storyline from start to finish. I sat in awe of the vocal ability, the band in the pit's skill, the wonderful wardrobe and the mystifying element that the set brought. The combination of all of these was positively electrifying and I left so sad that it was all over and wanting to be in the West End.

After coming back to the hotel, I had a bath and then I crashed. Ready and rejuvenated for the next day. Breakfast and Jesus kept me going in the morning, I had a full English and chose what I thought was a cinnamon roll but was in fact not. We returned to the hotel room where me and mum listened to worship music and she prayed profusely on some thing's I was going through in my life and after feeling peaceful and joyous we finally checked out of the hotel and headed towards Big Ben.

Big Ben is our landmark, if you were given London in a game of Pictionary best believe you'll draw either Big Ben, the London Eye or the Queen. It's a building that even I, as a British citizen living an hour away from London still stand in awe of. It was built so intricately and at such a large scale. But yes, amazement aside, we walked along the Victorian Embankment for so long just talking. I loved spending time with my mum, she's basically a best friend of mine and I can honestly tell her anything. We talked for so long that we actually missed our route to Covent Garden that we had to walk 15 minutes back to get to it.

By this time Ma and I were getting a little weary, I found a Paperchase and surprisingly enough only bought one pen. Anyone who knows me knows that this is a miracle in itself! Covent Garden's Jubilee Market was our next stop and I bought a simple, gorgeous silver ring from a lovely lady's stall for £10.

Charing Cross Station is only a 3 minute walk away from Covent Garden and as we waved our last goodbye to London for treating us so well, it was a bittersweet ending and a London trip that I will not be so soon to forget. 

LET'S TALK: Without your face paint

About a week ago I left my house without face make-up.

For some this step may not seem the biggest greatest grandest revelation of all time but for me, it was a step into defeating a stronghold that I didn't even recognise I had in my life.

From as far back as I can remember I was able, I wore make-up. For Christmas I would get plastic make-up sets and really cheap eyeshadows. I don't particularly recall the influence of my obsession for make-up but I was enthralled by the transformation. Part of me, although hesitantly, wants to say that it was the influence of television that did it for I watched a lot of american television shows. The era when Mary-kate and Ashley and the Disney Channel graced our television screens.

I was fascinated by its ability to make me feel and look like a different person. 

However, there were times where I would view it as accentuating what God gave me and ultimately I thought that I just thoroughly enjoyed putting it on, like a painter placing brushes on the edge of a masterpiece. 

Of course all of this would end up with me having to spend money on products that I felt I needed. I didn't discover foundation/face makeup until secondary school so around 15/16 I was amazed at the fact that this liquid was able to hide that huge spot that invaded half of my head. 

I was a newbie to this side of the make-up world and made mistake after mistake and still am learning today. Finding the perfect shade is hard am I right ladies?! So by this time, I had really gotten into Youtube, I started a channel with one of my best friends Leyla. It was scary and exciting at the same time because we were putting ourselves out there but it also made me feel really conscious about how I looked. 

My obsession with Youtube was ever growing, 

I enjoyed watching drugstore hauls and make-up tutorial after make-up tutorial. I started working around 17 and the new found money in my pocket enabled me to buy whatever I wanted, so I did.

I can't even tell you how much money I spent on make-up, I'd probably return it all now but let's just say I enjoyed it so much, more than clothes shopping because in my head it was cheaper, but of course, these things add up. 

So fast forward to college years, 16 to 18 years old, I began to become dependent on make-up, it wasn't something I essentially hid behind, I felt comfortable in my skin and didn't lather it on like moisturiesr after a shower but enjoyed the process and soon after, I was unable to leave the house without it. The period between 14 years old through to around 19 were pivotal moments in life for me, I got into relationships, juggled my weight and dealt with body image issues. 

Don't get me wrong I still have those days where I'm like "bleurgh" but nowadays it's different and normally comes in the form of comparison, which is an unhealthy mindset to be in, and is something that I give to the Lord constantly. But those five years really was a time where the Lord was moulding me.I went from hurt to healing and freedom. It was a time when deliverance and prayer was needed and essential, I didn't know it then but the Lord had a purpose to it all.

So after my gap year I came to university. I was single and I was focused on making tight friendships, if I meet a guy that's great but I was not ready at all. the Lord was still dealing with things from my past and I was willing to go through it because I knew freedom was on the other side. Going through my first year I don't ever think I left halls without make-up, not one day at all. I was almost really self-conscious to be seen not wearing make-up in front of the close friends I made. Make-up gave me confidence. That and the combination of my new found contacts that I enjoyed wearing because I despised wearing glasses, my confidence would plummet when I wore them so I just wouldn't. 

So here I was, going through first year of university with a new found confidence and creating friendships, getting planted into a church, getting involved with the Christian Union, doing a degree in what I love to do most. The people in my life that I have managed to surround myself with have always been very complimentary. For ages I loved it, I almost thrived on it, but to an unhealthy point where if I didn't receive a compliment from someone and I had worked hard on looking good, I would get seriously upset, my mind would spiral and I would convince myself that I didn't try hard enough and I would try harder next time. As you can probably tell, this kind of mindset was not only unhealthy to be in but it was a very expensive thing to uphold and in my first year I racked up the debt, my overdraft became a regular and then a permanent friend of mine but I just kept going. Have you ever watched Confessions of a Shopaholic? Yeah, not as much, but very close.  

So this brings me to my second year of university. again that dependence on make-up still strong but in the second term, something shifted. My best friend Viki hit a point of breakthrough, she had already hit it in the summer when we went to a camp called Momentum, she realised it was an idol and didn't wear it. I was convicted because I couldn't not put makeup on especially with the fact that there were Christian guys around. 

In second term of university she saw her dependence and the time that it took to put make-up on as something she didn't want to deal with anymore. So she began to not wear it. For her it was daunting at first and she was convinced that everyone was looking at her but they weren't. This second term, although it took me a while to jump on the band wagon I began to see the freedom that she got from it. So one day I did it. I wore no foundation/concealer/bronzer/blush and I wore my glasses as well to a lecture and CU. I was petrified. Petrified of what everyone would think of me. I was self conscious and couldn't stop looking at all of my spots in my phones camera. It made me realise so many things about myself that I hadn't dealt with. Although it took years until I could actually walk out of the house without make-up it brought liberty and I had to constantly fight back the thoughts of my skin burning holes into peoples eyes. Viki and Maddie my best friends and sisters at university have been encouraging, inspiring and motivating not only I, but eachother and others to embrace our God given beauty. They have been nothing but supportive, their words have impacted my life and enabled me to view myself differently. Although I feel like I still have a long way to go, I'm not alone and I have full faith that the Lord is going to bring me through it.

If you related to anything that I wrote in this post, comment, I'd love to chat with you. I would also like to encourage you with this a facebook post that Viki wrote attached with a make-up less photo of us:

This morning as I sat down to put my make up on, I realised how uncomfortable I would be leaving the house without it, and how much it had become an idol in my life. In a world where outer beauty is appreciated more than inner beauty, I believe it is so important to realise where your identity really comes from. So instead of painting on layers of make up, I listened to this incredible song which made me realise that even though I may not look perfect, and don’t have the airbrushed look that we see everyday on instagram, God still sees me as beautiful and that’s all the confirmation of self worth that I need. I stand with the belief that all of us are made in His image and our self-worth comes completely from him, and with this belief comes bravery and courage, so here are me and two of my beautiful best friends, bare faced, imperfect and still courageous daughters of God!
"Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." 1 Peter 3:3-4