I spent last weekend in the beautiful Ardennes forest at the Belgian Grand Prix. Spa-Francorchamps is a circuit I’ve wanted to go to for years and last weekend my wish came true.
We drove (I say ‘we’, I didn’t drive, my friend did) and it took us about eight hours because we got caught up in huge tail backs coming out of Brussels. We finally got to our hotel in Aachen, Germany, just before nine.
A minute before we arrived at the hotel we turned a corner and stopped at traffic lights and in front of us was a huge old city gate. I’m pretty sure that officially makes it the coolest set of traffic lights ever. I can’t believe I just typed that. We all had intentions of going to explore it and Aachen but we unfortunately didn’t have time. Oh well, I’ll have to go back again.
On Thursday morning it was finally time to drive to the track. As we came off the motorway and descended into the Ardennes a thick fog surrounded us. When we arrived on the car park we could hardly see a thing but out of the fog I could just about make out some of the red and yellow curbing.
Thursday, as it always is on a Formula One weekend, was busy. Lots of transcribing, typing and shouting at the wifi connection which kept dropping out.
That evening we stumbled across the best pizza known to man. If you read ‘I found the world’s best pizza, in Germany’, then you’ll know what I’m on about.
If you don’t, I implore you to go to Aachen to Im Alten Zollhaus and order a pizza. It was phenomenally good.
Friday was much the same as Saturday, except I didn’t have to shout at the internet because a friend kindly turned his laptop into a hotspot for me.
After we’d finished our work and all the on-track action was over we did a track walk. Typically, it started raining about four minutes into an hour and 20 minute walk.
|Raidillon selfie! Yeah, these are the kinda selfies us motorsport fans take.
This ladies and gentleman is Raidillon and Eau Rouge, one of the most loved and most recognisable pieces of a race track in the world. When I tell you it’s breath-taking I mean it figuratively and literally, it is so steep!
I can’t really put into words how beautiful this track is. A racetrack, in a stunning dense forest. It’s just perfect.
When you watch a car go through that piece of track, flat out may I add, it’s a bit like watching a plane take off. You know that it’s scientifically possible but it doesn’t seem like it should be.
Saturday and Sunday were a complete blur and it was 4am Monday morning before I knew it. On the drive back I think I proved that English bank holidays automatically come with a side of awful weather.
On the drive through Germany, Belgium and France there was no rain. As soon as we got off the channel tunnel, rain. It rained the entire day on Monday.
Over the weekend I fell in love with Spa-Francorchamps, it’s a beautiful track with so much history. If any of my lovely readers are F1 fans, I cannot recommend going to this race enough.
I don’t mean to brag but my family are awesome.
For the first time ever I spent my birthday away from my family, which meant I also spent my birthday away from cake. When I arrived home an incredible birthday cake was waiting for me. It was all Tom’s idea and my Mum played chef.
It’s a four layered cake, with different coloured sponges, a unicorn painted on the icing and sprinkles.
I really don’t think I can say much more about this. Look at it, IT’S A UNICORN CAKE!
That’s it really, I just wanted to brag about my birthday cake.
|One time I did not feel grown up – my sister and me with Mickey Mouse. I totally don’t still wear those ears when I want to feel special…
I heard an interesting programme on Radio Four (aren’t I sophisticated / old?) a few weeks ago where the host was asking the audience when they first felt grown up.
There have been a few times in my life where I’ve felt grown-up only to be proven wrong shortly after. I’m not sure I will ever feel ‘grown-up’, responsible perhaps but probably not grown-up.
When I wore my Nans shoes
When I was about three or four I decided to wear some of my Nan’s shoes that I thought were amazing. They had a small heel on them and I decided to try them out.
I felt all grown up and in my infinite wisdom I decided to go downstairs to show my Mum and my Nan and fell down the last few stairs.
This was actually mentioned in the programme and I agree with it. When I was about seven I had one of those pens with different colours in and you click down the colour you want. That made me feel grown-up.
I also felt grown up when I was first allowed to write with a pen instead of a pencil. I did not feel grown up when my pen leaked all over my hand and books because I’d been chewing it.
When I drank Bailey’s at a pool bar
This is my favourite example. When I was 15 we went on holiday to Lanzarote and they had a pool bar.
They didn’t give a rats ass about whether you were 18 or not and would serve you alcohol as long as you looked older than about 10. I decided to be classy and asked for Bailey’s with squirty cream on top.
Minutes later someone swam past me and a wave knocked me off the stool in the pool and I fell backwards throwing my drink in the swimming pool. There were some very angry looking German’s who were not amused about swimming in squirty cream.
When I first got a car (what I mean by that is my parents bought it only to rarely drive it themselves) I felt free and grown-up. Then I realised I had to put petrol in and was horrified.
I then started moaning about petrol and felt pretty grown-up again.
When I had to feed myself
A few years ago my parents and my sister went to Turkey and I stayed at home (can’t be doing with all that warm) and they left me money to feed myself. Truth be told I fully intended on spending most of it on a video game.
So I went to Tesco and felt pretty grown up going round the supermarket (lets ignore the fact my trolley was full of pizza) but then I got to the checkout. “WHAT? You mean this stuff costs money?! I just thought the cupboards magically refilled themselves.”
Now I wasn’t dumb enough to think it was actually free but I’d never had to budget before and y’know video games were important to me back then. More so than food apparently.
Please share some times when you felt like you were an adult only to be proven wrong. The more embarrassing / funny, the better.
|Of course the furry beast wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to take a photo of him interrupting my makeup putting-on.
My cat is a loveable creature but he doesn’t half make getting ready in the morning a challenge.
Sometimes it feels a little bit like trying to apply makeup while on Takeshi’s Castle.
- Put moisturiser on – no cat around.
- Open eye shadow palette and begin swirling brush – cat appears from no where.
- Begin applying eyeshadow – cat starts head butting your arm and you try to keep your cool.
- Decide liquid eye-liner is out of the question as your fur baby is still head butting you in the arm relentlessly.
- Get mascara out – cat begins walking backwards and forwards in front of you.
- Start applying mascara – have to move cats tail out of your face repeatedly so you can see and stop it getting on your mascara wand.
- Begin applying foundation – cat begins head butting again and you accidentally poke yourself in the eye with your brush.
- Decide to try and ignore kitty and stand your ground while applying foundation – cat tries to bite you.
- Shout at cat and it runs off in a sulk.
- Breathe a sigh of relief because you can finish your makeup in peace. So you think.
- Cat reappears with a vengeance and sits down in an awkward place so you have to reach around the cat to get bronzer and blusher out.
- Begin applying bronzer and cat starts sniffing and trying to lick your hand – no chance you’re letting it lick you, who knows which animal it ate last.
- Start applying blusher and cat sits right in front of you so you can’t see the mirror.
- Finish your makeup and cat decides to go outside.
- Swear under your breath.
Does any other cat owners go through a similar thing when getting ready?
I was going to include this in my Belgian Grand Prix post but my goodness does this deserve it’s own post.
You would think I would find the world’s best pizza in Italy since it’s an Italian dish, but no. In Aachen, Germany, I found the best pizza in the world. I haven’t visited every country in the world but in my 22 years I’ve eaten a lot of pizza and this blew all the others out the water so I’m confident in telling you, this is the best pizza ever.
A few doors up from our hotel was a pub called Im Alten Zollhaus. It looked quite modern on the outside but once you get in through the doors it was like walking back in time.
I don’t know if it’s what a traditional German pub looks like because we didn’t go in any others – after four mouthfuls we decided we were going to eat in that pub all week. But it felt like it should be a traditional German pub.
The only way I can try to explain it is if you’ve ever been in an old English pub with wooden floor, beams in the ceiling, old tins and bits and bobs on the walls and wooden tables.
I thought about taking a picture in there but it just seemed wrong, if that makes sense. Smartphones just didn’t seem to belong in that place. It was about sitting down with good friends, eating amazing food, sampling German beer and laughing so hard it hurt.
I dined off their phenomenal (I don’t use that word lightly) pizza all week, and my goodness they were easily the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten. The cheese on the top was like grilled cheese on toast cheese.
You don’t just have to take my word for it, a couple of my friends had pizza too and loved it. Their schnitzel and currywurst was apparently amazing, but being a vegetarian I wouldn’t know.
I’m genuinely concerned that any other pizza I eat will be a disappointment. In fact, the pizza was that good I would go back to Aachen just for that pizza.
What’s the best pizza you’ve ever eaten?
Title: Burial Rites
Author: Hannah Kent
Pages: 314 pages
Genres: Historical fiction, mystery
Description from Goodreads: ‘Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.
Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.’
Burial Rites has been on my radar for a long time and after seeing the cover in Waterstones a couple of months back I had to have it. It’s so pretty!
This book is based on the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, who was the last woman to be executed in Iceland after being convicted of killing her former lover Natan.
The ending of Burial Rites is evident fairly early on but it isn’t about that, it’s about Agnes telling her story.
At the end of the book Kent talks about the research she carried out into the life of Agnes and what happened. We don’t know everything about what happened to Agnes and a lot of people felt Agnes was a horrible and calculating woman so Kent decided to retell her story in a more empathetic way.
Once you hear Agnes’ story, it’s easy to feel sorry for her because she comes across as a woman who was thrown into the middle of a difficult situation.
Throughout the book, and in real life, people make her out to be an awful woman and as you’re reading her version of events you wonder whether she really is as bad as people make out. It goes to show that you can’t always believe what you hear or read when you don’t know the person.
Kent’s world building is wonderful and I felt like I was in Iceland in the early 1800s. It’s done subtly and you sink into it, rather than being bombarded with length descriptions.
In general Kent’s writing is fantastic, there are some brilliant lines in here. I just can’t recommend this book enough.
It was so immersive that during the times between reading I couldn’t stop thinking about it or wondering what happened next. Even after finishing the book I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Our main character Agnes is the most well developed character and the way she reveals her story is interesting. The relationship between Agnes and Margaret (the mother of the family she is staying with) is interesting but it would have been nice to learn more about the family as individuals.
I’ve not been able to stop thinking about Agnes and her story since finishing Burial Rites. I can’t stop thinking about whether she really was the horrible woman people make her out to be or whether Kent’s version of events is more accurate. Because of the questions this sparks I think it would be a good read for a book club.
In short: A fantastic debut novel telling the haunting tale of Agnes Magnusdottir.
Price: £3.14 on Kindle UK // £5.59 paperback on Amazon UK
Would I recommend it: Yes, especially if you’re fans of historical fiction.
Have you read Burial Rites?
Over the past couple of days teens across the country have found out whether they got into university or not so I wanted to share my experience with university and start a bit of a discussion.
I’d spent two years at college studying Forensic Science and was planning to go to university to study Forensic Science. I didn’t really think about whether or not I wanted to go to university, I just thought I had to do it.
One year and a half later I found myself quitting and starting a marketing apprenticeship.
There were two reason behind me quitting. The first was that I realised it wasn’t something I wanted to do as a job, it fascinated me (and still does) to learn about forensic science but as a job it wasn’t what I thought. Believe me I didn’t go into it expecting it to be like CSI but it was boring in comparison to what I expected.
The second was that I didn’t feel I was being prepared for a career. Instead I felt I was just being taught to pass exams. One and a half years in and £12k down, I didn’t feel like I was getting my money’s worth and felt incredibly under prepared.
My apprenticeship gave me more experience in a year than I’d got in one and a half years at university. Granted they were different subjects entirely but university could never have offered me that kind of experience even if I’d studied marketing.
I don’t have a single regret about leaving university and I am glad I left because it was the right thing for me to do. I’m also grateful for the support I received from my family and Tom because it wasn’t an easy decision to make and it was scary being a ‘dropout’.
I’ve spoken to other friends who went to university without really asking themselves whether it was what they wanted.
At 18 years old you can’t be expected to know what you want to do and with yearly fees of up to £9,000 you owe it to yourself to make sure it’s what you really want to do. Don’t feel pressured into it and don’t feel you have to go because that’s what you’re ‘supposed to do’.
There are other options such as apprenticeships which allow you to learn on the job and earn a wage. Over the past couple of years I’ve spoken to a few business owners who prefer to take on an apprentice or someone with experience instead of someone with a degree.
I’m not trying to say university is wrong at all I just believe that everyone deservers to think hard about whether it’s right for them or not because you are kind of ‘sold’ university.
Did you / didn’t you go to university? What are your thoughts?