Autumn In Stuttgart: Part 2

Our Stuttgart adventure continues! You can catch up with part 1 here.

Day 3:

After yet another feast of a breakfast, our gang made the journey to Esslingen – not far out of Stuttgart.

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Yes, I had crepes straight after breakfast…but then nearly everyone else did too!

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Kelly, Rhina and I all wore the same dresses because…why not? Autumnal style in the perfect backdrop. We strolled around old buildings, including a wine cellar and a church. Esslingen is incredibly picturesque – we spent a great deal of time staring at everything around us.

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After a quick stop for some warming soup, we made the ascent up to the castle to get a better view of the town. It was steep but it was worth it! The views were spectacular and the castle grounds were a pleasure to walk round.

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As night fell, we made our way back for a local harvest festival. I have to say – I absolutely loved it. There was lots of local produce and you could try everything. The whole event was very warm and cosy; everyone was welcoming and friendly.

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After a few glasses of local wine, Rhina and Holger took us for a kebab (I wish I’d ordered a larger one!). It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Day 4:

When we got up on Sunday, the entire flat was filled with the most delicious smell. Rhina had promised us a traditional Venezuelan breakfast and boy did she deliver! As well as traditional German fare, we were treated to home-made arepas with black beans and avocado. It was proper and it was sublime.

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Rhina and Holger kept on making it harder and harder for us to leave. As a final treat (not that we needed any more), we went for some cake and tea before taking the train to the airport.

Reflection:

As much as the food, sights and activities were great during our trip, what made it unforgettable and truly wonderful was the company. Kelly and I had really been missing Rhina since she left London and seeing her made our little gang feel whole again. When you’re apart for a while, you worry about things becoming awkward but there was none of that. The six of us had what I can only describe as the most chilled, fun and food-filled break possible. Thank you Rhina and Holger for being fantastic hosts – we hope to repay the favour very soon. Thanks as well to Kelly and Grant for being great travel companions (we can’t wait fly off again with you two in the new year).

Here’s to making memories – PROST!

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Fine and Dandy

Oh Internet, you perplex me! Sometimes you fill me with dread but, more often than not, you bring me joy – particularly so in getting to know Dandy Wellington.

Both of us share similar values and views on the world. Through Instagram, we came into contact, sporadically sending messages of support or thoughts about issues to one another. Now, Dandy resides in New York and I’m based in the town of Wokingham – it felt quite unlikely that we’d ever meet. However luck would have it that Dandy and his partner were crossing the pond to visit London for a week…and so it came to be that we met in real life!

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A special occasion calls for a special outfit. This vintage Windsmoor coat was picked up at my first vintage fair in Birmingham with my mum – I fell in love with the colour and the gorgeous sleeves. Under that, I wore a truly beautiful dress that my other half picked out for me when were at Twinwood this summer. Not only is it a bright shade of purple but it is also has pockets and is covered in my favourite pattern – paisley. To keep off the chill, I added a cardigan from Vivien of Holloway. I seriously loved this whole ensemble.

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The Meeting

Nick and I met up with Dandy and Darlene at The Ivy in Kensington. We’d never been before but we’ll definitely be back again. The surroundings were stunning and the perfect setting for tea and talk. Usually I’m snap-happy but apart from stopping to photograph scones (they are quite lovely), I was too busy nattering to document anything else.

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From Kensington, we hopped on the tube to Shoreditch.

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We ended up at the Courthouse Hotel to meet up with some of Dandy’s friends, including the always delightful Elora and Michelle. After a week of feeling seriously under the weather, it felt good to let my hair down and hang out with people make me smile.

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We sat and talked about a heck of a lot. One of the things I particularly loved was Elora and Dandy talking about her artwork – something she should be very proud of. I love people-watching and it was was so good to be around a group of people who were happy to lift each other up for no other reason than them just wanting to. Sadly, I was still feeling rough from being ill all week so we had to head off early. We left with hugs and plans to meet again though.

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I couldn’t have asked for more – a wonderful memory made.

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Autumn In Stuttgart: Part 1

I’ve previously written about Kelly and Rhina. After a chatty pub dinner earlier this year, we very quickly formed a most wonderful friendship. As with many things in life, change came along and Rhina moved to Germany at the end of July. Not ones to admit defeat, the three of us promised that we would not stay out of touch – thankfully, we didn’t (yay group messages!). Once Rhina got settled, she put out an open invite to Kelly and me, as well as our partners, to come visit. Kelly and I are teachers so we looked at when our half terms linked up and soon we had flights booked. A couple of weeks ago the three of us were finally reunited!

Day 1:

Early in the morning, Kelly and Grant met up with Nick and me at the airport. In a few short hours, we were with Rhina at the University of Hoehenheim – there was running, screaming and hugs involved. We met her lovely colleagues and saw some very old and rare specimens from their collection – I was so scared of dropping them! After a very delicious German canteen lunch, Rhina showed us around the university and the botanical gardens. The weather was almost as if we were in late summer (thick tights weren’t a great choice). Autumn in Stuttgart is particularly beautiful.

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University explored, we took the rack railway into central Stuttgart for an ice cream break and a quick look around. From there we headed back to Rhina’s place to drop our stuff and relax. Kelly brought a surprise over for Rhina in the form of a handmade dress – needless to say, Rhina loved it.

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Later on, we went off for dinner at a ‘BROOM’ (winemakers open up their homes, serving local wine and food – signposted with a broom on the side of their home). I don’t think we realised how knackered we were from travelling so we headed back for some shut-eye after some local music.

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Day 2:

After a massive, traditional German breakfast, Rhina took us to the Stuttgart City Library. As we like to coordinate, we all wore dresses handmade by Kelly. I love libraries but this was something else – I could have happily spent the entire day (and more) there. The space was incredibly calming and visually-pleasing. On the roof, we got all-round views of the city.

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Next we went off to explore more of the city, including the food market. We strolled past stall after stall of mouth-watering produce, stopping to try Ofenschupfler as we worked out wanted to get.

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In the evening, we met up with Rhina’s husband Holger at an art gallery. After a mooch about, we headed off to a local bar for more delicious German food and good conversation.

A fabulous start to our holiday!

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Papow Ponders #14: People-Pleasing

I’m hitting thirty next year and, as with many ‘big’ birthdays, I’ve been doing a bit of self-reflection. I’ve come to realise that my attitude towards what other people think of me has changed quite significantly over time.

For most of my life, I’ve been desperate to be liked and accepted. It hasn’t necessarily been about being popular – it has been about being well-thought of. Wanting to people-please has often meant that I change the way I act or react around others. At its worst, I hide myself: my values, my sense of humour, my opinions and my anxieties. Essentially, I become a grey yes-man.

Going to university first started to change my way of thinking. I developed a friendship with a group of free-thinking and funny students, who accepted me for me (warts and all). Because of this I started to reconsider my other friendships and cut out people who didn’t allow me to be me. I came to the realisation that I only had three true friends at secondary school along with my other half. Looking back, I now feel incredibly frustrated that I spent so long trying to be liked by people who couldn’t have cared less about me.

The next turning point after university was getting into pin-up and vintage fashion. I found a new community to be part of and I was excited. With that excitement, old feelings of wanting validation and acceptance returned once more. During meet-ups or events, I’d judge myself against everyone – I had to look perfect and be so agreeable that no-one could say anything bad about me. This time though, I could see what was happening. I made a decision to focus on reciprocal, positive friendships rather than fluffy, meaningless acquaintances. From this, I’ve developed a handful of solid and wonderful relationships with people I truly care for. Just because someone is into the same stuff that you are, it doesn’t mean that that person is right for you. The best friendships come a huge variety of elements – not just shared preferences.

Part of me wishes that I could have come to this realisation at a much earlier age but then another part of me knows that I’d never have got to this point without all those experiences to shape and change me. It’s such a freeing feeling. I still worry about what people think of me and I still get massive anxiety around disagreeing with others but it’s only the thoughts of people who I have strong bonds with that matter now. No minute gone comes ever again so focus those who are truly important to you.