Coming Home: Christmas in Leicester.

Hi all and merry bloody Christmas!

As you all might know by now I’m originally from Leicester and as mum and dad still live and work there, it’s where I return when I need a break from uni, some time to switch off and be with the ones who love me most and, most importantly, where I celebrate Christmas!  As it’s currently the 21 December, its only three (or four depending on how you count it) days until the most wonderful time of the year.

I thought I’d share some shots from a recent walk about whilst I talk all things Leicester, why it’s okay to feel things other than sheer unbounded joy this Christmas, and how to enjoy it as best you can.

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For some reason this year in the lead up to the big holiday i’ve been doing a lot more thinking and reflecting about the festive period, and I thought I’d share these thoughts with you, along with a little tour in pictures around my home town as in my opinion it’s an overlooked city that is full of culture, diversity, tolerance, acceptance, pretty little streets packed with history and delis and cafes and bars: it may not be London but I’m proud of my roots! As well as this, my little outing into the city centre did much to clear my head, ground myself and get ready to enjoy this christmassy period.

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As a student I’m someone who lives between two places. I call both London and Leicester home – but they are home to me in very different ways. London is where I feel I have most opportunity to progress, to live independently, to be an adult in an adult world – to move forward with my life. Leicester is my roots. It’s where I grew up, made friends that feel like family and who warm the cockles of my heart, It’s the place I can come back to, but not the place I’m headed to. Christmas is the time that this feeling of living in two worlds – feet straddling the two – feels most significant (and from time to time difficult) to me.

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It can be a tricky thing when your head and heart feel like they should be in one place when they’re in another, when you feel things should be progressing and moving forward but they feel as though they’re stuck standing still. This coupled with deadlines, and all the emotions – good and bad – that can appear and resurface at Christmas, can make for a confusing time. Unfortunately I have no cure or antidote to this feeling or any variation on it that many people may be feeling at this time of year, the pressure to have a wonderful time filled with joy, gifts, laughter and love can be a lot to deal with if you’re experiencing loss, depression, heartbreak or stress. Whilst I have no solution I feel I can (try to) provide distraction and perspective with some slyly edited photos and some (not so) wise words of wisdom – plus there’s nothing like a day out soaking up the sights of Leicester to brighten your mood!

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What often helps me to stop my emotions, doubts and worries overshadowing what for all intents and purposes is a lovely time of year, is to give myself a stern talking to. Whatever is going on in my life, I know that whilst it may feel big and scary right now, it is something that one day I will look back on as a distant memory, an issue dealt with long ago, and that however hard I think my situation is, it could always be much much worse. What also helps me is to remind myself of all the good fortune I have been granted with throughout my life. Yes, I have known heartbreak and loss and periods of stress, and I have had to deal with difficult situations along the way, but so have we all, and how we deal with these situations is what -without us even realising it – makes us into stronger, wiser and more grounded and rounded people.  I am lucky enough to be surrounded by friends and family who love me unconditionally, who will always help in times of need, and that, at the end of the day, is all that really matters.

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This is not to say of course, that putting aside the worries and woes of ordinary life for the festive period is easy, – not many people are that good at compartmentalising – but for me, it’s something I’m definitely trying to work on.

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There are other practical things you can do to make this Christmas an enjoyable one too. Surround yourself with people you adore and people who make you laugh so much you wee yourself a little bit – chances are that even without talking about your worries, having fun and letting loose will provide perspective and grounding and help you to remember that life is full of love, laughter and warmth – you just have to look in the right places.

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So, after feeling a bit mithered and stressed due to a whole host of reasons upon my return home last week, I decided a walk around my home town, with the crisp winter sun shining, a coffee in hand and a friend at my side would do me the world of good. So off I went.

St. Martin’s square – complete with a jazz and blues bar, Bodega restaurant, craft shop and coffee house plus much more was buzzing with buskers, street performers. With the discovery of Richard III a few years back the area surrounding the cathedral has been given a serious revamp and the higgledy piggledy back streets that run off of it only serve to add even more charm to the area.

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I spent a lot of my childhood professing a profound dislike of where I grew up, I was desperate for London – it was where things were happening, more interesting and open minded people were living, and I felt – as we all do at 15 years of age – that we were different, special and destined for greatness somehow. Now having actually moved to the big smoke, and luckily feeling as though it is indeed where I’m meant to be, I also had my naive eyes opened to the realities of both of the places I call home.

London is a city I adore, the opportunity, the life that emanates from every crevice and around every turn, the feeling that if you wanted to you could hop on the tube or the bus and do just about anything or meet just about anyone you wanted to. But it can also be a vast, hostile and isolating place, that somehow can manage to make you feel as though because there is all this opportunity around you, that if you don’t take it – then you are failing somehow. In actual fact if you want to stay in, go to bed early, have a day in the library or even not leave the flat, then that is definitely okay.

Leicester is a small provincial city, Whilst having a lot to offer, as a teenager itching for bigger and better things I overlooked these qualities and saw only a provincial city with little opportunity and little space to breathe, experiment and explore. In reality the smallness of the place is something that after a long stint in London I crave, being able to walk from place to place or walk home from your friend’s house. I used to think it was full of small minded people, but it is a diverse city with a strong identity based on acceptance, globalism and tolerance. Just like London!

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And so I have come to the conclusion that for now, having one foot here, and another there is a blessing not a curse. And the worries that come like a fog over my mind about life, love and work can be cleared, at least a little bit, by loved ones, a home you know oh so well and a blog in which you can hash out your half thoughts and incomplete sentences to then force upon others!

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Finally, I must briefly mention one outlet that never fails to put a smile on my face – F.A.S.H.I.O.N. I was wrapped up nice and cozy like in my ASOS jacquard bomber jacket. Complete with pale blue faux fur collar and jewel green and blue floral jacquard pattern – I was all set for my urban ramble. I teamed it with a simple grey soft fine knit turtle neck jumper, some old kick flare frayed jeans and my trusty Tamaris leopard print sock boots from Zalando. I added a vintage cross body bag and i was Good. To. Go.

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So there you have it. A mish-mash of thoughts, reflections, photos and fashion. All with Leicester as my backdrop. Hopefully this post makes more sense to you than it does to me whilst writing it. But even if it doesn’t hopefully it captures a time of year when emotions are high, and this is just my measly attempt at making sense of it – whilst rocking a bad-ass jacket!

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I hope you all have a truly lovely Christmas. Surround yourself with love of all kinds, with laughter and merriment and you won’t go far wrong in 2017.

E x

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