1

Treats and Tribulations: Part 2

 

“Work is the meat of life, pleasure the dessert” – B.C. Forbes 

But what happens when dessert is your work?

Even though my job often leaves me feeling like a sunken soufflé it still has its perks, ie. FREE CAKE!

Since I’m allowed this one pleasure I usually find myself planning what cake I’m going to sample on my break before I’ve even arrived for my shift.

To date my favourite is still the homemade red velvet but the fruit cake with vanilla icing comes in at a close second.

So yeah it’s not all that bad.

Since my first installment there’s been a bit of a change up to our staff at Treats.

We’re now a fully multicultural team since we’ve been joined by Senna who’s from Eritrea and a Slovakian girl called Lucia.

Sadly Luis has quit for reasons unknown.

Lucia thinks he had an argument with Yasser but he’s since been in to visit and even though I can’t understand Arabic, the laughter and manly handshakes would suggest no lingering animosity.

I imagine he just got fed up of working for a pittance.

Coincidentally Lucia, a stunning blonde of supermodel proportions, also has a degree in Business and is just trying to improve her English for a year.

I wonder how long it will be before young Mohammed tries to propose to her.

There was a French girl called Mailys who worked with us for a couple of weeks but she left, not only because the pay is a bit shit but also because Mohammed kept trying to arrange a date with her and asked her when she’d like to get married.

Senna  has an education from her home country and is frustrated by the fact that she has had to start from the bottom and re-do college since moving to the UK – somewhere she will stay for the foreseeable future since she recently married a guy from here. (at least she doesn’t have to worry about Mohammed’s advances.)

Other interesting developments are that I’ve actually been given the responsibility of renaming the business!

Since I’m the only native English speaker who works at Treats, Yasser decided to consult me on my ideas for new names.

So far I’ve suggested Temptations, Sugar Stop, Sweet Shack and Sprinkles.

Yasser liked Temptations although questioned whether it had any double entendre, i.e could infer desire for a woman.

I said “not really” but he didn’t seem convinced.

I’ve also had the pleasant task of writing the names of the ice creams in pretty fonts on wipe clean labels which was a nice change from unclogging the sink and picking stray hairs out of the custard.

The other day I actually tried to tell Yasser that I wanted to leave and find a better paid job but he practically begged me to stay, telling me that I was “very precious” to him and that “he’d kill me” if I left.

He was joking of course…I hope.

Anyway, since I seem to be stuck in this job for the foreseeable future I’ve devised a little game to make each six or nine hour shift more bearable.

From now on I’ll award myself points for certain things and see how high I can score – maybe I’ll even let Senna and Lucia in on the game….

Points are awarded as follows: 

Kill a cockroach                                                50pts

Kill a fly                                                              100pts (notably more difficult)

Receive a customer complaint                      30pts (though not on purpose)

Yasser says “tables, please”                         20pts

A fly dies in the Insectaflash                        40pts (a horrible sizzling sound)

Find a hair in the ice cream                           200pts

Find a hair in the custard                               80pts

Make a perfect crêpe                                      60pts

 

The list could go on.

Other recent events of interest are that a guy came in and randomly stole one of the fake roses from a display in the front window.

Mohammed chased him down the road where he quickly got into a getaway car with his girlfriend and bolted the door – all Mohammed could do was give him the finger and a few choice expletives.

I was confused since I mistook him for one of the people who randomly sell flowers up and down the curry mile like the Chinese woman who always comes in to harass the customers and offer them three roses for a fiver.

They’ve also installed security cameras so the owner can watch our every move from Saudi Arabia and report our wrongdoings to Yasser like some sort of Middle Eastern Big Brother.

Other than that there’s not much to report.

Each time I go to work I quickly fall into the rhythm of making milkshakes, cleaning the dishes, wiping the tables and repeating the process again and again in almost contented resignation.

The work could definitely be worse and I enjoy the simple things like seeing a child smile as they pick out an ice cream flavour or watching the cookie dough rise and expand in the microwave.

For now this job is the meat of my life, the cake that I eat there, the dessert.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
1

My unofficial guide to dating

wpid-wp-1442674615056.jpeg

Well they’re not my favourite pair…

Disclaimer: Before you read any further please be advised that I am actually the real life incarnation of Bridget Jones (I’ve even gone to a party dressed up as a bunny when everyone else shunned fancy dress) therefore I am in no way a relationships expert. Any advice I give is purely my own opinion and you heed it at your own risk 🙂

1.) Delete Tinder
Do it now! Tinder may seem like fun but no matter how many stories you’ve heard of people who found their other half on it you’re most likely just to end up with a load of pervy messages and a swiping addiction.  I’ve never actually been on a Tinder date since the one time I did try to arrange a meeting the boy stood me up *cry*.  In the end I just had loads of matches and was meaninglessy making small talk and engaging in pun wars with people I was never likely to meet in real life. An app can and never will replace the feeling of meeting someone in a bar or a club. It takes away all of the romance, the rush you feel when your eyes meet across the dancefloor, that nervous beating in your chest. It’s time to take instruction from the ever wise Dora the explorer. Swiper no swiping! Adios Tinder.

2.) Get out there!
Now that you’ve deleted Tinder you’ll have lots more time to actually go out and meet new people. You can’t complain about never meeting someone special when all you do is stay at home and watch Titanic in your underwear. Don’t be afraid to make new friends by going to different places and perhaps joining a new club. It can be all too easy to always stick with your same circle of friends but branching out will give you more confidence and ultimately increase your chances of finding Mr. Right.

3.) Don’t rule out the “boring” ones
Ok so he doesn’t have tattoos or ride a motorcycle but the boy with glasses who’s reading the Independent will most likely be kind, friendly, loyal and less likely to have a criminal record. “Interesting” boys like troubled artists who smoke weed, write poetry and wear bandanas may make you think you’re in love at the beginning but in time you’ll realise that you fundamentally have little in common. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go for a certain type of guy. Just don’t make that your only reason for falling for him.

4.) Don’t be too crazy
We’ve all done crazy things in the name of love like stalking someone on Facebook or perhaps solliciting a tarot reading to ask questions about them (not me of course) but it can help to take a step back and ask yourself if it’s really love or just infatuation. It can be easy to come on a bit too strong and make it obvious that you like someone. Play it cool in the beginning. I don’t necessarily mean wait three days to text back or some other silly rule. Just try to figure out if he likes you too. Are you always the one to initiate chats and dates or is it a two-way street?

5.) Spanx to the max
So you’ve been asked out on a date. Congratulations! Now the only problem is deciding what to wear. Unless you’ve been born with perfect genetics or are extremely athletic you’re likely to have some body hang ups. Whatever else I’m wearing I always feel most confident when I have my Bridget Jones knickers on and confidence is extremely attractive. So go on, buy yourself a pair! You won’t have to suck in your stomach anymore!

6.) Be yourself
Who else would you be? When you’re on a date it can be tempting to come across as a better version of yourself by stifling your snort when you laugh or denying you have an unhealthy obsession with cats. It’s these little things however that make you who you are and if they’re enough to turn off your date then he isn’t worth your time in the first place. It might not seem like it but one day you’ll find someone who loves you for all of your little quirks and won’t run a mile when you tell him you have four cats.

7.) Never sext!
Dirty texts are fine (if you have a way with words) but it’s best not to send naked pictures of yourself, ever. There’s always the chance that you’ll accidentally add it to a group message, your boss sees it or it ends up going to the wrong recipient. It’s also best not to give anyone material with which they could potentially blackmail you in the future. Even snapchats can be screen shotted and remember that once something’s on the internet it will haunt you forever.

8.) Sexpectations
You’ve probably heard your granny say at some point that “men only want one thing” and sadly that can be true. Don’t feel pressured into jumping between the sheets if you don’t feel ready and never do it on the first date – no matter how hot he is. Physical intimacy is an important part of relationships but  someone who respects your boundaries and makes you feel comfortable is worth waiting for.

9.) Don’t argue over the bill
Being the modern woman that I am, I personally prefer to always pay my own way and split the bill. If however the guy fervently insists on picking up the tab I’m not going to kick up a fuss – it would be unseemly and ultimately quite awkward. Sometimes I think boys just like to pay to assert their masculinity. Either way, it’s up to you how you react but there are worse things than having someone buy you dinner.

10.) Don’t stop believing
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again. You may have to wade through a sea of frogs and go on some downright ghastly dates till you find your Prince, but he’s out there, trust me. He may not ride a white horse but you’ll find him eventually. Don’t let bad experiences with the other sex knock your confidence or get you down.  There’s someone, somewhere waiting for you, and he’s wondering why you’re taking so bloody long to get there!

0

Ravenna Good Time

nice cafe ravenna

Classic Ravenna

My life has been pretty hectic lately between working and living the Dolce Vita in Bologna so this post has been a work in process for a while now. At last here is the latest update on my travels- I hope you like it 🙂 

A few weeks ago I went on an organised trip to Ravenna with a group called ESN (Erasmus Student Network) which is one of the three Erasmus organisations in Bologna. All of these groups offer trips, parties and discounts on drinks if you buy their card and this means you can mingle with the Erasmus community and make some international friends in the process!

friends. rosa, ghuna, alessandro, alixAfter only an hour long bus journey from Bologna, we arrived in Ravenna around lunchtime and straight away I met some really interesting and friendly people. Ghuna (Indian), Rosita (Spanish), Alix (Scottish), Alessandro (Italian) and I formed the perfect group of multicultural misfits and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city together whilst having a bit of craic (“fun” in Irish slang)

Our guided tour started off in front of a normal looking secondary school called the Liceo Classico Dante Alghieri but it was fascinating to discover that it was actually founded by Benito Mussolini. An aerial view of the building also shows that the building forms the letters B and M which meant that when planes passed by they knew Ravenna was a fascist city. (either that or it was somewhere to get a great bargain)

Just a normal school...

Just a normal school…

After this we went to the church of San Giovanni Evangelista which is one of the oldest churches in Europe, having been commissioned by the Empress Galla Placida in 424 AD. Much of the basilica was destroyed by the Americans in 1944 during WW2 when it was struck by a bomb originally intended for the train station. However, many original elements still remain such as the lovely mosaics with simple olive tree and bird designs.

old church in ravenna

tree mosaic ravenna

The next church we visited was the basilica of Sant Apollinare Nuovo. Like most of the churches and basilicas in Ravenna it wasn’t much to look at from the outside but the interior was beautiful with lots more colourful mosaics and roman style columns. It was outside this church that I randomly bumped into two friends from Exeter uni who are studying at Forli and had decided to do a bit of sightseeing. We briefly discussed meeting up but I forget to give them my mobile number or anything so it was indeed a freak encounter and a lovely surprise.

After having been reminded of the chance and fleeting nature of life, I was brought face to face with death, or more specifically Dante’s tomb. The master himself was exiled from Florence in 1302 and later died of Malaria in Ravenna in 1321.  Florence later came to regret exiling Dante and subsequently built a  grander tomb than the one in Ravenna (santa croce) for Dante in 1829 but it remains empty as the citizens of Ravenna took great pains to keep Dante’s bones and once even hid them inside the walls of the monastery. Nevertheless the little oil lamp in the tomb burns with oil from Tuscany which is provided by the Municipality of Florence each year on the 2nd Sunday of September in order to celebrate the anniversary of the poet’s death.

P1220067

A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark

By this time an inferno of hunger was gripping us and we had some free time to get lunch so I opted for a piadina which is a delicacy of the Emilia-Romagna region (however the piadine differ in both the Emilia and Romagna parts respectively). The best way to describe it would be to say that it is a doughier pitta bread which is then toasted and stuffed with a filling of your choice. I was reccommended a spinach and gorgonzola one as the best vegetarian option and it was absolutely delicious. At this point our little group also had the opportunity to chat a bit more and revel in contagious laughter whilst we ate our lunch on the steps of Piazza San Francesco.

piadini!!!

After lunch we headed straight to the church in front of us (Basilica di San Francesco) but we had to look round it quickly because a wedding was about to start and the well suited members of the congregation were eyeing us suspiciously. We had just enough time however to see the crypt which dates back to the 10th century and looks like a little swimming pool since it is below sea level thus a bit of water always seeps in (accompanied also by a few fish).

indoor river ravenna

Returning to Piazza San Francesco we were shown the house were Lord Byron lived and were told an interesting story about a romance he had with Countess Teresa of Ravenna. My favourite part of this tale was that in order to express their love for each other they exchanged letters and locks of hair (including pubic hair) and these momentos are all archived in the Classense library opposite Byron’s former residence. Love never dies…even if things do get a bit hairy.

lord byron's house ravenna

Moving on we visited the Basilica of San Vitale which was absolutely breathtaking. From the outside it looks so plain but as soon as we stepped inside there was an intake of breath en masse. For me the feeling of being in the cathedral was reminiscent of how I felt when I visited The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The frescoes, the ethereal atmosphere, the architecture, the artwork, everything contributed to a complete sensory overload. The only downside of being on an organised trip was that we had to move on quite quickly but if I had been there by myself I definitely would have stayed at least an hour.

church fresco ravenna amazing ceiling ravenna

The last element of our guided tour was the Mausoleum of Galla Placida (just opposite the cathedral) and here we saw the most beautiful mosaics yet. They were all so vibrant and colourful with really unusual designs (ducks with dog faces for example). Galla Placida (sister of the Roman emperor Honorius) built this mausoleum to serve as her final resting place and it was originally attached to the church of Santa Croce. In end however she was buried in Rome in 450 AD so the tomb always just served as a pretty monument and a source of  inspiration – For example the jazz artist Cole Porter wrote the song Night and day after his visit to here, having been captivated by the starry sky of the tomb.

mausoleum galla placida

Now…after having had our fill of culture and history it was time to party; Erasmus style. So we got back on the bus and made our way to the beach where it still wasn’t too cold, the sea was clam and the beach bar was at our disposal. We had a really fun night with beers, dancing, and I even had a midnight swim in the sea with some of the others. I was reminded how hard Spanish people like to party and the same Enrique Iglesias songs which I have heard a million times since my arrival in Bologna, fuelled the fiesta. As the evening progressed our little group of multicultural misfits also grew closer and sort of created an unspoken pact that we would stay in touch and meet up again to have more craic in Bologna. (which we have done)

alix taking a photo ravenna ravenna beach times alix at ravenna party at ravenna nightime at ravennaSo there you have it; an extremely comprehensive account of my trip to Ravenna (I’ve never been good at summarising and I salute you if you are still reading this!). I am sure I will do a lot more traveling while I’m here in Bologna so you can look forward to more posts and more accounts of my weird and wonderful experiences.

2

Brief Encounters

Me with friends at Uni

Me with friends at Uni

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Whilst reading a Charles Dickens classic I was profoundly touched by these words. Through traveling and visiting new places I’ve met some wonderful people and had some great conversations with complete strangers; people who until I bravely took the plunge and introduced myself to were indeed a “profound secret and mystery.” It’s one thing to people watch from a café or bar and imagine the lives which they lead in but it’s another thing entirely to actually delve into the unknown and discover the reality. It’s true that as human beings we instinctively have a fear of the unknown. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t know how to be vigilant when visiting somewhere new, to keep our wits about us and to exercise caution. However, sometimes that same fear can hold us back and prevent us from meeting new people or opening ourselves up to new experiences.

In Zaragoza I have visited an Irish Pub called Flagherty’s a few times and each time I have gone there in the hope of meeting some fellow Irish people. In order to do this however I had to change my mindset and stop viewing myself as “that loner girl who’s drinking a Guinness at the bar by herself” to “that girl who has the confidence to sit at a bar by herself.”

Ironically the first time I went there I met a lovely Spanish woman and ending up chatting to her at length about Federico Garcia Lorca (a Spanish poet and playwright I studied at Uni) his works, the themes in his plays and Spanish culture in general. I can’t remember how the conversation started (as is often the case in such brief encounters) but I returned home feeling that rush of joy which only happens on occasions when you realise how lucky you are to be alive and human. It wasn’t just because I’d unexpectedly discovered someone with common interests but because I had reached out to a stranger and thus realised that the world is full of kindred spirits; I just haven’t met them yet.

On another occasion I met an American and an Irish man (finally) who were staying in Zaragoza for a few days because they worked for Emirates airlines. We got chatting because I assisted in ordering the American a rum and coke (ron y coca cola) and the Irish man jokingly chastised me for having a Guinness claiming it was a sin to drink it in any other city than Dublin. I enjoyed hearing about their travels but also giving them some suggestions about where to visit in Zaragoza and how to make the most of their time here. It felt good to be somewhat of an authority on a city I previously hadn’t even heard of (Google maps is my salvation) and in some ways it seemed as though things had come full circle-  My time here is coming to an end but theirs is just beginning. Maybe this is what fate is; a series of chance encounters that although we don’t know it, somehow fit perfectly into the circle of life and are meant to be.

For this post I chose to include a black and white photo of some friends and I because it reminded me of the 1946 film “Brief encounter” as well as the role fate plays when we make new acquaintances. There is a saying that “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” and the same I believe can be applied to any casual and brief encounters with  a stranger be it romantic or otherwise. Surely it’s better to have had an enthralling and eye opening conversation with someone and then never see them again than to have just sat beside them in silence?

My favourite part of the film “Brief Encounter” is when Alec laments upon the fact that he can’t be with Laura. He says “Forgive me…for everything, for meeting you in the first place, for taking a piece of grit out of your eye.” I think he got it wrong though. Instead of apologising to Laura he should have been thanking her. If they’d never met in the first place they would never have created so many wonderful memories and their meeting was clearly destined to be. It’s crazy to imagine that something so insignificant as a piece of grit could completely change the course of our lives. In the same way if I’d ticked a different box on my uni application from I would be living a completely different life and all of my current friends would be anonymous strangers…..strangers just waiting to be discovered in an Irish bar somewhere.

I would encourage anyone to pursue their own brief encounters. You never know what you could learn about another person, the world or even yourself. After all the truth is often stranger than fiction.