Why you should still be proud to be British

london door

I managed to refrain from writing a post about my decision to #voteremain in the EU referendum. In all honesty, no matter how many articles I read, or how much I believed it was the right way forward, I never felt properly equipped or qualified to offer advice to others.

I became deeply concerned about mass xenophobia, Nazi-influenced propaganda, isolationist reasoning and the racist undertones of ‘make Britain great again’, but the arguments surrounding economic security went round and round in circles, and I am no economist. How is anyone supposed to fight against the history of racial and social prejudice without facts they truly believe and understand?

I know immigration and the threat of terrorism weren’t the only influences. There were (and still are) plenty of reasonable arguments for leaving the EU, but, unfortunately, the leave campaign knew they wouldn’t have to highlight these in the same way to successfully scare recruit enough people. Fear is incredibly powerful.

I also didn’t want to provoke a debate on a blog that serves to unite people.

Either way, as a divided nation we were facing an obvious stride into the unknown. There was no possible way of guaranteeing a positive outcome either way. I believed in my vote, but I never believed much of the ‘evidence’. I voted remain on principle, not practicality. After all, it’s our morals that give warmth and depth to flat, cold facts.

As a compassionate, hopeful, forward-thinking 26-year-old who voted in London and works in creative circles, I woke up to devastating news on Friday 24th June. As a life-advice blogger, I’m always looking for ways to offer doses of written comfort.

I wanted to write a post that would ease the pain so many of us have shared on social media, because when anything goes wrong for anyone, as it always has and always will, it’s essential to focus on the good things. It might not currently feel like it, but we are still incredibly lucky to be British in 2016.

Here’s why.

We were actually allowed to vote

It’s tempting to wish David Cameron never agreed to a referendum, and for many people the outcome was completely unexpected, but it is far, far better to live in a country that involves its inhabitants shaping its destiny. It should never be down to a small group of socially distanced leaders. Democracy has its flaws, but the alternative is much worse.

We have access to world-class education

Many, many people do not. More than 20 countries still prevent girls from getting the same education as boys. According to www.gov.uk, ‘31 million girls of primary school age around the world have never been to school.’

We have London

Which is, without a doubt, the best city in the world.

We have a healing sense of humour

In years to come, future generations will be laughing about the referendum and all the grizzly consequences, going to fancy dress parties as Boris and Nigel.  Actually, this is probably already happening.

We have same sex marriage

And a thriving LGBT community that helps set an example and inspire other communities around the world.

We have great style

And so many amazing brands to chose from. The British High Street is a wonderful blessing, and our liberal, inspiring, much-copied dress sense is something to be proud of.

We have constant access to clean, running water

Just, for a second, imagine a life where you do not. Water Aid says that 1/3 of the world’s population do not have access to adequate sanitation, and ‘650 million people live without safe running water’.

We have a brilliant music scene

And there is nothing like a British music festival. Give me mud, live music and hundreds of happy Brits and that’s enough to lift the spirits.

We have pubs

Otherwise known as cosy, inviting, microcosmic societies everyone is welcome to join. Nowhere else on the planet has quite nailed the fine art of our favourite drinking establishment and the way it appeals to all walks of life. When I was travelling, I mostly missed going to the pub.

 We are gloriously and irrevocably multicultural

And our national dish is Chicken Tikka Masala. My best friends are British. They are also Mauritian, Turkish-Cypriot, Indian, Irish, Jewish, and Iranian. Leaving the EU might instil racist thoughts in a narrow-minded minority, but the rest of us will unite in our love of Britain’s inspiring, well-established multiculturalism, appreciating and upholding it’s importance more now than ever.

Hold onto the fact that it was not a vast majority that wanted out, and it is not a vast majority of leave voters that are an embarrassment to humanity. Most had valid, positive, game-changing reasons for leaving (I urge you to come forward with words of comfort). It was just a few miserable leavers (that the media has decided to focus on) that have showcased racial prejudice, and who are hopefully, slowly coming to terms with just how brainwashed they’ve been.

 

 

Lesson 29: visiting Verona

Verona

There’s nothing like cramming in an Autumn holiday in a final bid for sunshine and relaxation, particularly when you’re last ‘holiday’ left you feeling permanently hungover for about 3 weeks. I went to Verona with my mum and sister for a much-needed break. Here’s why it was the perfect choice.

If, like me, you’re not 100% sure whether Verona is actually a real place or a mythical setting for Shakespearean plays, the following post will benefit you greatly. If you’re also the sort of person who enjoys amazing food and wine at reasonable prices, inspiring architecture and the anticipation of slice of history around every corner, you might also want to read on.

Verona, like her type

Verona, like her type

Verona, like her type

Verona, like her type

Verona, like her type

Verona, like her type

Verona, like her type

Verona, like her type

Verona, like her type

Verona, like her type

THE FACTS

Nestled in the north of Italy between Venice and Milan, Verona has the same charm as more obvious Italian destinations without being as much of a tourist trap. This seems to have affected two major things: price and authenticity. It was ridiculously easy to find fantastic-quality pizza, pasta, cicchetti, wine and ice cream that didn’t cost a fortune. Better still, EVERYTHING is within walking distance, which makes a huge difference when you only have a couple of days to explore and don’t want to waist hours navigating the metro and local buses. When you spend half your life sweating on the tube, this blissful breezy existence of strolling from place feels pretty bloody good.

WHAT TO DO

The arena

A Roman amphitheatre in Piazza Bra, built in 1st century, this magnificent and imposing piece of architecture is quite a sight. Go inside and explore, but also sit and have an Aperol Spitz opposite. Still used for opera performances, it’s worth seeing what shows are on during your stay.

Verona, like her type

The castle

Or, ‘Castelvecchio’ – a castle-turned-museum dating back to the middle ages with astounding views and beautiful old-meets-new interiors.

Verona, like her type

The balcony

Book lover and English graduate, and even I couldn’t get see past Juliet’s Balcony as a cheesy, overrated tourist attraction. Busy and a bit soulless, but tick it off the list if you have time because the building is beautiful.

Verona, like her type

The churches

There are four main churches in Verona and you can pay just 6 Euros to see them all. Each filled with breathtaking and often famous masterpieces and each with a unique character and story.

Verona, like her type

The shopping

So many good shops. Too many good shops. Designer, high street, boutique, market stalls, you name it. I was a little bit tearful that I can no space in my carry on for a shiny new pair of Italian-leather shoes. I did, however, settle for the perfect boyfriend jeans and a stripy jumper from an amazing shop called Scout and a sneaky denim dress from Zara.

Verona, like her type

The views

Whether you go up the tower, explore the castle or take the steps across the bridge, the views are stunning from every angle. Incorporate some time to sit back and take them in.

Verona, like her type

WHERE TO STAY

I’m a massive fan of Airbnb and it served us well yet again in Verona. For £85 a night, the three of stayed in a pretty, rustic and spacious apartment overlooking Castelvecchio. Our host, Francesca, was incredibly helpful, providing a detailed list of things to do. In fact, the general vibe of Verona was warm and welcoming pretty much everywhere.

Verona, like her type

WHERE TO EAT

We didn’t have a single average meal, let alone a bad one. Literally everything I ate over the four days I was there was delicious. Dinner for three with a bottle of wine and a couple of deserts rarely crept above 50 Euros. The trick was to look for a traditional, laidback ‘Trattoria’ or ‘Osteria’, rather than automatically hitting the swankiest or busiest places. Don’t get me wrong, you might get a fabulous view of some of Verona’s famous landmarks, but you could be getting better, cheaper food elsewhere. Here are a few great places we found.

Verona, like her type

Casual dinner alfresco

Pizzeria Impero – Borderline touristy but when you’re sitting in a picturesque square, surrounded by historical buildings and eating good-quality food at a good price, it’s more than acceptable.

Effortlessly cool bar

La Tradisiòn – A stylish and cosy ‘thrown together’ bar with a hipster vibe and Farmers’ Market worthy bar snacks. A glass of prosecco costs just 2 Euros. (Pictured above)

Contemporary fine dining

La Canonica – We accidentally stumbled across this gem down one of Verona’s little passage ways. Turns out it had only been open 5 days and the menu offered an impressive modern twist on some Italian classics, like veal Lasagnette and coconut tiramisu.

Atmospheric and traditional

Osteria del Bugiardo  –   Completely packed out every time we walked past, we booked a table for the evening and we weren’t disappointed. I could have sat in this stylish little restaurant drinking wine all night. No menus, the waiter recites what they have that day, so you know it’s fresh. The giant amoretti biscuit with warm chocolate sauce went down a treat after the tasty beef Carpaccio.

So, next time you’re planning a European city break, consider skipping the hustle and bustle of the most obvious places and bask in the beauty of Verona instead. It was completely stress-free, which is pretty important when you just want to spend a bit of time with you favourite people.

Verona, like her type