St Annes living

Colours in the sky

Every July now brings something very special to my neck of the woods. They are colourful, they are floaty, they are fun, they are beautiful! The kites of the St Annes Kite Festival make the sky a colourful place, full of bouncing and colourful fun.

Supported by the local council and local businesses, the event gathers hundreds of families from the area and a number of them that come to St Annes especially to see the array of colours in the sky. And the event doesn’t disappoint! In the shapes of dragons, octopuses (including a 30-metre long one!), teddy bears, planes and even hippos, the kites fly high and catch attention from far away.

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You can also bring your teddy bear to take part in the teddy parachure drop, which celebrates each brave teddy with a certificate of achievement. And with face painting, market stalls and even an army assault course, the day is not only for the kids. Best of all, the festival is free and the beach welcomes whole families that want to watch the kites and have a picnic.

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I am fortunate enough that my little flat is opposite the beach, so I can watch the whole thing from my balcony, and I can say that the only thing I witness is hapiness all round. I see families pointing to the kites, people smiling at their movements and kids dropping their jaws at the size of them all. It’s fantastic to be part of such a fantastic event that brings so much happiness, colour and a great family spirit to the whole town. Can’t wait for 2014!

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Categories: Relaxation, St Annes living, The Good Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Brazil x England – (Ding Ding!)

It’s now been over two months since I arrived back in the UK from my holiday in Brazil. I’ve had enough time to analyse how the trip went, although when you go to see family and friends it’s bound to be good anyway. In fact, it seems like it happened ages ago and I miss he place and everyone already!

As you may/may not know, I live in the UK and all my family and childhood/teenage years friends live in Brazil, so every time I go I try to see as many people as I can to make sure that the bonds that are so important to me stay as they are: strong.

This time, there was a difference, though. I took the boyfriend with me. I was a little anxious as to what he would think of Brazil… but let the trip run its course without asking him a million times whether he was having a good time or not. I could actually see for myself that he was happy, but I didn’t want to keep on asking the question and annoying the hell out of him.

It turns out that he loves it, which is fantastic! It was funny to watch him around my family and friends. Lee is a naturally quiet person and he’ll only really let go when he has known the person for a little while (or if he is drunk, ha!). Even so, it seemed like he felt pretty comfortable being around everyone, which was a relief. At the end of the holiday, I left Brazil with my parents and friends telling me what a catch he is (and because he now knows what they think, I’ll have to look at his smug face forever!).

Anyway, this post is not about that, really, it’s about me thinking of Brazil and REALLY thinking about the reasons why I chose not to live there. I have written about this here before, mainly about not being able to explain why I chose to live in England over Brazil.

Now here’s the truth: these are two completely different countries in so many ways… age, politics, society, culture, economy, etc. Even so, I find that a few of my top reasons for not living in Brazil are quite shallow considering other issues that could well tip the balance in England’s or Brazil’s favour.

So here they are:

1. Hay fever

Who suffers from this sneezing-evil condition will know what I’m talking about. In Brazil, I am ALWAYS sneezing, my nose is always running and I find that this has a massive impact on my quality of life. In England, I only suffer from hay fever for a couple of months during spring, if that.

England 1 x Brazil 0

2. Security

In England, Lee and I go out at night and walk back home, no matter the distance or the time. I do not worry and I am not scared walking around in England. In Brazil, as everyone knows, the story is very different. Lately, it seems to have been getting  even worse.

England 1 x Brazil 0

3. Food

In England, a much smaller country than Brazil, there seems to be so much more food variety. And although the fruit and veg do taste a lot better in Brazil, England’s selections of cheese make up for it in one go.

England 1 x Brazil 0

4. Travel

In Brazil, the airports can be quite disorganised and the air fares are not always the most friendly on the pocket. In fact, it can be cheaper to travel abroad than it is travelling within the country! England, on the other hand, proves to be a fantastic connection to the world and the amazing places out there.

England 1 x Brazil 0

5. Salary

This was always a positive about England. Not anymore. 13 years ago, I remember working in a restaurant in London, paying for all my bills whilst renting a room in a house with other friends, going out and still being able to save to go travelling. Now, the same recession that seems to have impulsed growth in Brazil, hit England in a bad way. Having a job is a bonus and saving any money can be compared to performing a small miracle. Having said that, I recently read that the cost of living in Brazil has skyrocketed, leaving people with no choice but to swallow hard and carry on.

Brazil 1 x England 0

6. Organisation

For as long as I remember, getting any kind of document in Brazil is a very good reason for a headache. The queues are never-ending, the forms are not straight-forward and there are always obscure rules that no one knows about. In England, everything is so black and white it can even get embarrassing if you don’t understand how things work. They make it easy for everyone and usually things are done pretty quickly.

England 1 x Brazil 0

7. Politics

In Brazil, we all know how messy this scenario is. Year after year, the same corrupt politicians are still part of the government (how?) and most people still seem to sell their votes to the highest bidder. In England, the majority seems to take much more of an interest in politics. They recognise how it affects daily life and make sure they have their say.

England 1 x Brazil 0

8. The climate

Yes, ok, call me crazy, but I prefer to be in the cold than in the scalding hot weather of Brazil. It drives me absolutely mad to be sweating all day every day, to sleep unfomfortably and not be able to function properly if not in the mercy of an air con. I like the cold weather England has to offer which, funnily enough, is what the English try to run away from at any given opportunity. Yes, I like sunny days, but by the beach. For city living and a working life, I’m happy where I am, thank you.

England 1 x Brazil 0

So, if you have done the maths, England wins 7×1. But it’s not just about this list. There is something else. Still, unfortunately, it’s that something I can’t explain. There must be something in the air. Or I might have past connections with this place – yes, I do believe this is possible! I don’t know what it is. I love Brazil to bits and it will always be my favourite country where a lot of people I love are but, to me,  nowhere else says HOME as England does. For now. (ha!)

Categories: Brazil, Home, Living away from home, London, My home, St Annes living, Winter | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

My neck of the woods…

When I first came to England, I lived in London for 3 years. Then, I went back to Brazil to finish university (I was half way through it at that point) and then moved back to the UK to be with the person I (then) loved. We then went to live in Lancashire because of his work. We are no longer together, but I’m still here! I ended up in this little part of the world by chance and now feel so at home that I miss it when I’m not here. Talk about destiny…

I’m originally from Novo Hamburgo, a city in the south of Brazil and, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the place. It’s where I was born, where my family and best friends are and it’s the place that I know like the palm of my hand. However, I think that sometimes you just connect with other places and this is exactly what happened when I moved to Lytham St Annes. As the expression goes, this is my neck of the woods.

Lytham St Annes is a conurbation in the Fylde district of Lancashire. The neighbouring towns of Lytham and Lytham St Annes form a seaside resort. These towns are situated to the south of Blackpool at the point where the coastline turns east to form the estuary of the River Ribble (often called Ribble Ribble by the locals) inland to Preston. St Annes, like Blackpool, overlooks the Irish sea.

St Annes is internationally renowned for golf and has four golf courses and links, the most famous being the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, one of the hosts for the Open Championship (also known as the ‘British Open’), which has been a competition course since first hosting the Open in 1926. Approximately once every ten years, the coming of The Open—a major sporting event—brings a major influx of visitors, including the world’s media, into our fairly peaceful community. Celebrities come to appreciate the golf championship and cause a bit of a havoc in the community. As you can see, the place is nothing like London, where celebrities can be spotted at Nando’s anytime. This year St Annes was the host for The Open again and I could witness the buzz for myself. Many people are out and about and the athmosphere is great!

St Annes, as the place is usually called (dropping the ‘Lytham’) is magical. You have sea, sand, nice people, nice pubs, international sport events (once every ten years so it doesn’t spoil the calmness of the place), amazing sunsets and a peaceful life. What more can you ask for?

Below are some of my snaps of St Annes, so I can share what all the fuss is about… there is a lot to see and do, but you’ll still feel like you are on a peaceful holiday.

The St Annes Pier…

The band stand…

The beach huts on the prom…

The swam and the ducks… Awww…

The ice cream stand…

The little café on the prom…

The local pub…

The main promenade…

A carefully placed bench…

Another great local pub, 5 minutes from home…

And yet another pub… no shortage here. This is 2 minutes from home!

Part of the lovely ‘square’, which is the main shopping area of S Annes…

The train station…

And even if all of the above didn’t exist, I’d still want to live here because of this one below… the sunset is the most amazing I have ever seen!

So there you have it… my little tribute to St Annes, a little town that welcomed me with arms wide open and that makes me feel at home every single day. So much so that I can’t think of living anywhere else anymore…

Categories: Living away from home, St Annes living | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What the sun brings…

Well, well, well… the sun is shining and it’s hot! This is a rare event in England, so people do make the most of it. From my lovely balcony, I can see everyone on the beach. Some bring tents, some bring chairs, some bring bikes and some just bring themselves and walk around everywhere. I actually did the exercise of watching one single person for about 15 minutes and this guy simply walked around the beach aimlessly, with no intention of getting anywhere in particular. I guess this is what the sun and the heat do to us. They make us feel free to just let the legs and arms and mind do whatever they fancy. I’ve been to the beach today too and it was great! I put my towel down and just sat there for some time, with no time to watch and nothing to do… I just wanted to feel the rays and the light breeze on my skin… what a nice feeling! It makes you feel like anything is possible somehow.

After a pub sesh with Lee and two good friends, I came back home. And then did something that I’ve been planning to do for a long time. I sat and wrote something that I have been waiting for inspiration to write for a long while and I felt so good for it. It’s not a big deal, but I felt the inspiration going through my veins, I could feel the words coming out from my core to the paper. I handwrote everything as well, which is something I do when I’m not so sure of what I’m doing. I like to review it and then scribble all over it, but keeping my silly ideas there,  so I can always look back and see where every single bit came from.

This little dream might come to nothing, but I’m glad that the sunshine made me take a first step. The sun is such an almighty presence and it makes things so much clearer and happy. Bring on sunny days… my font of inspiration at the moment.

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Sun is shining, the weather is sweet…

Oh, what a glorious weekend we were blessed with! The sun is shining and EVERYONE seems to be out and about! From our lovely balcony, that we are growing to love more and more, we can see and hear kids, dogs, cars, people, sea and happiness all round. It’s amazing the effect of the sun in this country. In Brazil, because we are so used to the hot weather, we kind of take it for granted, I think. Here, when the sun comes out, everyone goes automatically from grumpy to happy.

I can see how the sun just makes things look better… it’s almost like everything around is lighter, more touchable even. And then there is the fact that the sun makes us feel free. Free from the layers and layers of clothes, free from closed doors and windows, free from the winter blues. Now, everything is yellow, yellow, yellow, the colour of vibrancy, warmth and happiness.

It’s funny that after this long living in England – over 10 years now -, I feel just like any other British person in respect of sunny days. I jump out of bed when I notice a bit more light than usual coming through the curtains, I relish any possible time taking in all the rays and I pull a face when the weather man says that the cold weather is approaching once again.

Seeking for sunshine tells us that we are all the same, somehow. We are all in the same boat, rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy. When it comes to the weather, we have no power at all – although some may argue that the hotter summers and colder winters are actually our doing (which I’d agree with!). And because none of us have power over it, we all  feel blessed when we have a big yellow ball in the sky. It’s the one thing that unites people anywhere in the world, the one thing that we all treasure. And in England, this is even more exacerbated because, in a country where the three months of summer usually present us with 10 days of actual sunshine, we all know very well that it doesn’t happen very often. And this is why every sunny day makes us celebrate and enjoy it as much as we can.

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The 3 things

So, here I am today… sat on my armchair in the lounge looking out the window, which has quickly become my favourite past time. This flat simply asks for it. There is so much going on downstairs. People are parking up their cars, getting the dogs out, kids are running around and climbing the sand dunes… I even saw a running competition going on at lunchtime. It’s all great, apart from the fact that, today, Mother’s Day, it all made me feel really homesick.

I can just imagine what I would be doing if I was in Brazil today… I’d probably wake up late as usual, get dressed, try and make my sister get up as she is hard work to get up in the morning, and then generally go through the mild chaos of getting ready when there are too many people involved. It would be a day to have lunch with the whole family, a big affair but very common in Brazil. It’d probably be at someone’s house, like my auntie Ana’s, and we would all take something to make up for a great big lunch. My uncle would take care of the barbecue and we would have scrumptious meat, sausage, chicken hearts (the English don’t get this one!), potato salad, garlic bread, a big salad with fruits in it made by my stepdad and a lovely and refreshing caipirinha going round to start the celebrations.

We would be celebrating being together, having our mums there with us, looking out for each other, giving advice to each other (even when not requested!), feeling protected somehow. Family can be hard work, we all know that, but nothing beats the warmness of hugging people you are very close to, people you trust and that love you unconditionally.

I was reading somewhere the other day that there are 3 things that we all need to survive… 3 basic human needs. They are: the need to feel capable, the need to feel free and the need to feel a link with others. This got me thinking and I concluded that I agree with what I read. We all need to feel worth of something, we need to feel we can achieve something regularly, be it in our jobs, be it with raising a family or even through personal projects. We also need to have enough freedom to exercise the necessary attempts to feel capable, so I guess all is linked somehow. Human beings don’t really like feeling like prisoners, we like to be able to make our own choices and make our own decisions. And then there is the link to others. No one can be happy alone, and this is simply a fact. Even if we live alone and don’t really interact much, we still end up finding ways to connect with others, even if it’s through the television which, obviously, is not ideal.

These three basic human needs interact with each other and make us feel alive, worthy and happy, I guess. Today, I feel like I could be interacting with others and these others are my family back home. If I close my eyes, I imagine being there, being in the company of them all, creating happy memories.

This is the hardest part of living away from home… the homesickness. It hits you when you least expect and then it brings you down for maybe  just a moment, but sometimes for hours or days. It’s hard not to think that I’m missing out on moments that I would treasure forever but, then again, I need to live by my choices. After all, I have the freedom to make them and I make them every day. I’m very happy here, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I wish Brazil was a little closer, so I could just jump on a plane, go home, get my “family fix” and come back.

The homesickness will go and I’ll be less nostalgic in a few hours, I know the process already. And when you know the process inside out, in a weird way you even start enjoying it. It’s almost like I treasure even more every single important person in my life and take nothing, absolutely nothing for granted. And this is probably a lesson in itself.

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The real house by the beach

We moved! After quite a few posts about the preparations of moving from one place to another, I can now say that we have actually done it. Lee and I transferred our little lives from a house to a flat, from sharing accommodation to living all by ourselves. OOooo, I’m scared! (nah, not really).

I’m most excited about being able to do whatever I want to the place. Ok, it’s rented so I may not have all that freedom, really, but I can have it as we want it and I can do one of my favourite things: change stuff around without consulting anyone. Well, the quick word with Lee helps, I guess, but he always grunts some “fine” and I carry on.

The new place is great. It’s at the top of our budget and let’s hope we don’t lose our jobs, but we are quite amazed that we were lucky to find a place that is just literally opposite the sea and that we could afford. My new morning routine now consists of having a coffee watching the sea from the sofa before going to work, as opposed to dashing off in a hurry, and this kind of thing is what I call improved quality of life.

Now let me just say this… I’m not bragging… we have been thinking about doing this for quite some time and we had to plan and save pennies to be able to do it so, if anything, I’m proud of our little achievement and just thought I’d share my happiness here. Life is not easy nowadays and when you achieve something, however small, I reckon it’s worth celebrating!  hehe…

The strangest thing to get used to is all the different noises of the building. You know when you have been in a place for a while and know all the sounds? By this I mean all the stair noises, all the cracking when you walk around, the sound of the heating going on, etc. Small things, really. Well, this takes some getting used to and I’m still in the process. I’m naturally quite jumpy and seem to live in a world of my own sometimes, so when I hear a different noise, one I haven’t heard before, I go and investigate or kind of make a mental note of it for next time. I like to know my surroundings quite well.

The place where we live now is an old building of 8 flats that was refurbished entirely, apart from the back of it. Therefore, the old staircase of the building is still there and people still use it. In our flat, we have a door with glass panels at the end of the corridor, so if people use the stairs at the back and turn the light on, the light makes our corridor a bit more illuminated. This, in the beginning, used to make me jump and I considered blocking that door with something, but now I’m kind of used to it and don’t even mind.

Also, the neighbours above us are a couple of lovely oldies and they like their tv… a LOT. And they like to watch it as loud as possible, so this is something I have to get used to. Having lived in a house before, we are not so used to the noise, but in just a week I can tell you that I don’t mind it anymore, which I find kind of strange. It seems like this place has so much to offer that a bit of a muffled tv sound can’t really become a big deal.

I started this blog in January and at that point we were not sure where we were going to move to yet. I named the blog housebythebeach and this was because living very near the sea has always been one of my wildest dreams. How funny is it that when we actually write about it and make our goals in life very specific (and graphic), they kind of make a way to actually happen? I didn’t have any idea that I’d be living by the sea, especially not this soon. And then life kind of makes its own little movements and makes things fall into place. It’s good to feel like the universe is moving in your favour sometimes and I guess I appreciate it because I know it doesn’t happen all the time.

It’s priceless (well, not quite) to get up in the morning and watch the sea. It’s even better to enjoy a Saturday morning watching how the sea changes… we had a high tide today and it was great to watch the people walking their dogs give space for the sea to come forward and cover the ground like a blanket. And then as the evening comes, the sky changes and looks amazing with all the yellowy shades going pink, then red, then blue, followed by a dark night. I absolutely love watching the nature at my doorstep and feel quite lucky right now. And by the way, I feel quite generous at the moment too, so if you fancy a visit to Lytham St Annes, just let me know. You’ll love it, I’m sure.

Categories: Beautiful nature, Home, St Annes living | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Good riddance…

The worst part of moving house is to decide what to take/get rid of/give to charity/fix. It’s a long process and, in many occasions, it brings up quite a diverse array of emotions. If you haven’t read in one of the previous posts, my boyfriend and I are moving from a house that we share with two friends to a 2-bed flat where it’ll be just the two of us (“Just the two of us… we can make it if we try…!”) haha! The thing is that we are moving into a smaller place. For example, in the house where we are now, we have a massive cellar where we can basically dump anything that we want to keep or anything that we are not quite ready to get rif of… just yet. It’s now the time to go to that cellar and go through boxes and more boxes to decide what we should take to our new life. And oh dear, what a torture this is.

I get easily attached to certain things. Most of them don’t have any monetary value, but the sentimental one goes well beyond the scale. And my problem is that I tend to put a sentimental value into everything that I own, so getting rid of something is a monster decision that can even mean tears. Ok, ok, I’m a big drama queen, I know, but I can’t help it!

Clothes, for example. I’ve gone through my wardrobe about 3 times so far since we decided to move, and in these 3 times, I only managed to get rid of a couple of items. It’s almost a joke. Of course, there are pieces I haven’t worn in a very long time, but amazingly for someone with a bad memory like mine, I remember when I wore some things last and remember that I was with a friend having a good time, or on a trip to some nice place, etc… and then the item goes right back where it came from… just because it made me smile again.

Clothes are hard to dispose of but, when I went through my notebooks, the attachment I create with things went up a whole level. I simply think everything is important. I see a sentence I wrote somewhere and think: “Ah, this might become a blog post one day…” or “I remember when I wrote this…” and then the result? Yes, you guessed: nothing goes. Instead, I spend hours and hours looking at things and never throw anything away because of what I now call my “nostalgic addiction”. Ahhh!

It’s been hard so far, but today, however, I woke up determined. I decided to tackle this task as if I was a professional organiser of houses and nothing really belonged to me. I tried to see it all from above (this is something I like to do when I can’t find a way out of a situation). And so I spent my day filling in the bin and bags for charity with all the stuff that no longer is part of my present.

It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t easy at all, and now that the task is (nearly) completed, I feel happy for being brave and dettaching myself off things that no longer belong in my life. If it was worth it, it will stay in my memory. Of course I won’t get rid of everything, as some things are far too important to me, but it’s important to be able to differentiate the important ones to the ones that are pure physical and mental clutter.

And this is what my Sunday was like. Full of emotion, a few tears and some moments where I had an item in my hand, going to the bin and then, almost ready to drop it there, I’d take it back for a final look. Very dramatic, me. Dettaching yourself off things is a relief and makes our lives free for new memories. It can be a bit of a painful process, but very necessary, especially when the present is so beautiful and the future is right there, smiling at me.

 

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A place to call home

Big news today! Lee and I decided that we are going to move out from the house we currently share with two of our lovely Scottish friends. We thought it was about time we lived just the two of us, since we are all grown up and all, hehe…

So, in early January, we told the girls and our landlord that we would be moving out and then the search began for a new pad, with the help of the very trusted and popular rightmove.co.uk. It’s very useful to be able to do the bulk of the work online, and soon we had a shortlist and booked appointments to view the places.

Now one thing that I’ll say is that the people who actually take the pictures for the estate agents (which I believe are themselves!) are not doing a very good job most of the time. In some cases they showcase the places to be a lot smaller than they actually are and in many occasions they simply forget or don’t bother taking pictures of some rooms which, in my opinion, is a big mistake. Once we established that, we decided that the best move was to actually go and see places, even if they didn’t look quite right on the Rightmove website. This paid off, as we actually liked some that we never thought we would.

We viewed about 15 flats and houses and, about a week ago, we were thinking we would have to go back to the drawing board when we went to see the last one of our list for the day. This was a flat on the North Promenade in St Annes and, when we went in, we headed straight to the lounge. The sun was shining and there was a massive reflection of the sea right back onto our stunned faces. Our jaws dropped and we were both in a trance. We looked at each other, smiling, and said: “This is it, this is where we want to live”, almost at the same time. And at this point, we had not even seen the kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom! When we did eventually move away from the balcony with sea views, we happily established that the rest of the flat was just as good and, voila! – a decision was made.

We then went back to the estate agents and paid the fee to secure the property. One point to make here is this: if you see a property to rent that ou really like, do not wait until the end of the day to make a decision, as they get snapped up really quickly and you may lose out. This is why we went straight to the estate agents and paid the fees to secure it, as soon as possible. On the week that followed, we filled in application forms and then got confirmation last Friday that the flat is ours! woohooooo!

It’s a real shame that we can’t afford a deposit to buy a house at the moment, as I know that the money we spend on rent is money that we could be using to pay towards a place of our own. However, this is one step of many in our lives together as a couple, or so I hope. Sometimes, we just need to break down the big dream into tiny little surmountable hills and go slowly, or at a pace that is right for you at that particular point in time. The main thing, in my view, is to keep moving towards what you want in life… and this little rented flat is one step towards what we want the future to be.

Categories: St Annes living | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Always there

I went for a walk today and witnessed a gorgeous sunset. St Annes never fails to present people who can be bothered to walk to the beach with a marvellous array of colours when the sun goes down. I don’t go to see it every day but, when I do, I feel so so lucky! I don’t yet have the house by the beach, but the beach is not too far, so for now I guess it’s good enough. : )

Sunset in St Annes

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