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What a year…

Friday was my last day as a fresher at university. I am now a third of the way through my university career and wishing desperately that time would pass a little slower so I could fully appreciate these three short years.

Since October I have made some amazing friends and gained a huge amount of confidence. I have doodled through lectures but also sat writing furiously, completely enthralled by the lecturer and every word that poured from his mouth or across the presentation slides before dancing across the rows of scribbling students. I danced madly in clubs, belting out the words to Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ or Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ or simply piled into a friend’s room to watch a movie or an episode of a TV show. Some nights were spent in the TV room watching Doctor Who before frantically discussing every detail of the program with the third years and post-grads also there, trying desperately to work out what Steven Moffat’s clues were.

Durham and the halls I lived in felt more and more like home as the year progressed, and the people I lived with more and more like one big eccentric family. It felt slightly odd to step off the train in Edinburgh and realise I wouldn’t see Durham Cathedral or walk through the twisting cobbled streets for nearly three months. I have always thought that Edinburgh is barely big enough to qualify as a city but when I left the train station with my parents and looked up at the castle then at the open expanse of the gardens below it, Edinburgh suddenly felt very big. The old town has the cobbled streets but the wide pavements, rushing traffic and long shop fronts are a stark contrast to Durham and suddenly felt alien after so long away.

I’ve been home for three days now and I’m rediscovering the elements of Edinburgh that make it the city I love. I sat in starbucks with my friends, the castle looming over us through the bay windows and laughed as we made up for weeks apart. I sat down for dinner in our conservatory and gazed out into the garden at the tiny red specks of wild strawberries and the smooth green skins of rapidly growing apples. Little things like the roses in a vase on the kitchen table, freshly cut from the bushes outside, the sun warming the stones of the flats opposite and the sight of my dad standing at the counter cooking are so familiar, a reminder that I’ve lived here far longer than I’ve lived in Durham.

I used to wonder how people could leave their home city but now I understand. Edinburgh will always be my home, but so will Durham, and, potentially, any city in which I live after graduating two years down the line. Each will have its own little details that will make it home rather than simply a place I happen to occupy.

It’s been almost a year since I began this blog and my newfound passion for cooking has grown up among the words I typed for it. In the morning I leave for an archaeological dig in Spain and I’m looking forwards both to the dig and the opportunity to experience true Spanish cooking. It’s been quite a year and hopefully in future years I will add to these pages a little more frequently.


Kindness in the Blogging Community

Before I ever thought of starting a blog I would look at my favourite food blogs and get a sense on a community. Food bloggers were talking to each other, sharing recipes and stories, forging friendships with people thousands of miles away. When I signed up to twitter and began following various bloggers it was even clearer.

Over the past couple of days I have followed dozens of tweets on the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle and dreamed of the chance to attend such an event myself at some point in the future. The posts I read talked of meeting fellow bloggers and recognising them from their twitter pictures, the sessions taking place both in the hall they sat on and in the virtual halls of twitter.

Then I began seeing tweets about Erika of Ivory Hut. I read her deeply moving account of the fire that destroyed her home and everything in it. I knew nothing of Erika before this but from what I have seen she is an amazing woman. She has lost everything but says she is still blessed because her family is with her and she still takes the time to check on others.

What has impressed me even more than her incredible character is the way the blogging community has rallied to help her and her family. Friends of Ivory Hut was set up for people to donate to help her and raised $2000 in no time, the figure then rose quickly to $3600. Many of those donating have never met Erika and probably have only just discovered her blog. I do not have a credit card and so, sadly, I cannot donate. I don’t have many readers but I felt compelled to do what little I could by alerting the few readers I have to her situation.

The food blogging community is filled with people who are kind, inspiring and generous. I don’t know anyone yet but as the months pass I hope to get to know some of the wonderful bloggers who inspired me and blog with such incredible joy and integrity.


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