More insider information from a Farmer.

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I bought some quinces this week because they’re now in season. My grandfather also grows the fruit in Bulgaria – but his are way more delicious and juicy than the ones I found in the UK supermarkets. Discussing the topic with him today, here are some interesting facts about growing quinces:

  • You plant the seed and the tree begins producing fruit after two years.
  • The plant very much looks like an apple tree.
  • The fruit starts to bud in May and they’re ready for picking  in October (through to November).
  • They can be stored in cool environments and thus, can last through the winter as a supply of fresh produce.

Also – I did not know that Black Radishes exist! My grandfather casually mentioned that he picked some up from his fields… and so I discovered a new variant of a well-known vegetable!

I love learning about the seasonality / production of fruits and vegetables because living in a big city can disconnect you from understanding where your food is coming from… and agriculture still is a basic building block for life.

My favourite love stories – short and sweet.

 

This was part of a Search Stories Series  by Google. In just 52 seconds, they manage to tell the whole romance cycle of finding love during a Parisian study abroad. This video is closely followed by Pixar’s 4-minutes life story of Ellie and Carl in Up, beautifully accompanied by Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack:

In written form, my favorite love story is in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.

45 Pounds of Hair Loss.

Today, I got a haircut. Seems simple enough. I Googled salons in London and found what I believed was the cheapest…. And yes, the cheapest was 45 Pounds for a cut and style. Granted I am in central London and I didn’t look for any available Groupons and deals, but I’d still like to share my overall experience.

Some background information is necessary first. Before today, I have never spent more than 20 Dollars on a haircut. That’s about 12 Pounds. And when I get my haircut at my grandmother’s hairdresser in Bulgaria, it costs 8 Levs… which is just over 3 Pounds. Thus, I’ve always avoided paying a lot of money for a haircut. I respect the profession and the hairstylists; I’ve just never been in the loop of stylist number 1, head stylist, top consultant, Brazilian blowouts, and highlight colouring. But this London Hair Salon experience was so much more than a haircut… it was luxury and marketing at it’s finest.

The Salon was very chic with white, brown, and light blue as it’s modern colour palette in Covent Garden. I walked in and quickly recited my name and appointment time, as if to prove that I belonged. A Nice Lady asked to take my coat, scarf and purse. The Londoner in me immediately thought about whether or not it was safe to hand over my bag. I hesitated for a moment and passed over my accessories… standing bare in the entryway. Then, the Nice Lady asked, “Can I make you something to drink? Tea? Coffee?” My though: “Am I allowed to do that?” My response: “Uh, no thank you.”

Next I was escorted to a chair where my stylist introduced herself and together, we discussed what ‘look’ I was going for. When we reached an agreement, I was escorted downstairs for shampoo and washing. Apparently, it was crucial that my hair be washed in the salon with their products… never mind that I had washed it one hour before to avoid extra costs. I sat down as the chair reclined and I placed my head into the sink. Next thing I know: the seat has transformed into a massage chair, my stylist is kneading my scalp and asking again if I want coffee. This time, my hesitation results in a “umm…yes, black simple coffee please.” The stylist turns to the Nice Lady and says “A black Americano for my lady please.” I was now “her lady.”

By the time we where done downstairs and I was escorted upstairs with my freshly washed hair, the Americano was waiting for me at our station. In the classiest manner I could pull off, I took out my gum and took a sip. The stylist then started cutting my hair; the moment had finally arrived! In the time it took her to add some layers and a little fringe to my brown mop, she politely asked me 9 times – and yes I counted – if she was pulling my scalp too much. Every time, I repeated, “no no” and smiled. I was probably doing something wrong because I kept adjusting my head to try and make it easier for her…

And there I sat. Getting a simple haircut. And I felt awkward, clumsy, and out of place rather than stylish and pampered. Every time my white coffee cup clanked on the plate, I got self-conscious. Everyone in the shop was trying his or her absolute hardest to make me feel comfortable, but the “girl who got a 3-pound Bulgarian haircut” was feeling something else. I felt spoiled. I felt like a haircut shouldn’t cost this much. I felt like I was out of touch with reality as a university student. True, that is a strong reaction to have against a haircut.

This might just be me, but if anyone else feels like this, know that you’re not alone. Getting my nails done, having my hair professionally cut, getting relaxing spa massages and trying on shoes for over 50 dollars makes me feel awkward and elitist. I can definitely afford it, but it doesn’t make me feel good. And isn’t that the point of these places? They want to pamper you and make you cappuccinos while you read Vogue. I’m not here to say that there’s anything wrong with it, but simply that it might not be for everyone. Just because something costs more, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more enjoyable for everyone.

Travelholics Anonymous

Travelholics Anonymous

My time in Paris is dwindling down, but my list of dream destinations keeps growing.

I have officially checked off another life goal: to live in France for half a year. Along with finishing a marathon and giving my graduation speech, this is one of my proudest accomplishments. And so, I enthusiastically enter a new chapter, with even more ambitious goals.

As I sit here in my 14 square meter apartment situated on Rue Mouffetard, I can’t help but dream of Australia and Thailand and Venezuela. After all, it’s only a flight away.

P.S. Click on the photo… there’s a surprise on the other end!

BEST NINE-YEAR OLD IDEA.

When I was nine years old, I had the best idea of how to efficiently find ones car after constantly getting lost in large parking lots with my parents. Growing up in Southern California meant that this happened on a weekly basis and the “searching-by-pressing-the-button” method just wasn’t working. So I thought that every car should have a personalised balloon that is inflated out of the antenna using your remote key. (Each balloon would be a special colour and have the license plate number). Since the balloon will float up, it allowed you to visually locate your car rather than listening for the beep. After you arrive to your car, you pop the balloon and simply reset the antenna for the next time. My younger else was convinced in this innovative approach; so nine-year-old me wrote to Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Ford, and Dodge.  It was an informative letter with my idea, some hand drawn diagrams and a personal signature. My parents helped me find the company’s addresses and mail off the letters. To my delight, three companies wrote back saying that they loved my concept, but were not allowed to take ideas from outside sources. However, I did receive a handwritten message, a Honda Keychain, a Nissan mug, and a little bit of inspiration. Nowadays, I understand the impracticality of the idea, but I still believe that the curiosity, initiative, and modernisation behind the balloon-from-antenna made it the best idea ever.

Bring the story of your life to LIFE.

Bring the story of your life to LIFE.

I approached the Parisian coffee shop to find Violeta sitting at a small circular table, already waiting for me. She had a burgundy blazer (that matched her lipstick shade) and a bright red handbag. The cherry tomato colour of the bag exuded a confidence that was confirmed by the big smile that recognized me. She quickly put down her black leather book and gave me a firm handshake. After placing our orders in French, I inquired about Violeta’s life. She giggled for a second, only to respond, “It’s kind of a long story. I can’t even answer the question, ‘Where are you from?’” She proceeded to tell me about her childhood in Bulgaria, her high school in California, and her time in London. “I like to travel… a lot!” She continued, “But more than merely tourist visits. I like to assimilate into the culture. For example, finding a local coffee shop…a hidden gem just around the corner from a big boulevard.” With that, she made a slightly head gesture to Rue Mouffetard as our barista arrived with two black coffees. Immediately, she shook her head no to the offer of sugar and crème; she insisted, “I like my coffee bold.” Violeta paused, readjusted her thin black glasses and continued, “Where were we?” And with that question, a slight British inclination crept in to an otherwise strong American accent. We then went on to discuss random themes from her sister’s turtle to Tina Fey’s autobiography to society’s latest obsession with Pinterest. Jumping from knowledge in one subject to another, I couldn’t figure out Violeta’s degree. “Film Studies” she responded, “the academic study of cinema and the ability to talk to anybody! After all, who doesn’t have a favourite actor?” Before paying the bill, I asked about the black leather book on the table. She lifted her hand off the cover as if let me peek inside. Then, Violeta leaned in slightly, lowered her voice, and whispered, “It’s my sketchbook… filled with drawing, typography designs, business ideas, and storyboards for short films. I would show you, but I only just met you.”