The Travel Diaries: Brussels August 2016

So last week I headed off to Brussels for 3 days as part of the prize for my Undergraduate of the Year award! Brussels was somewhere that I had never visited before so I was looking forward to seeing what it was like. We also were travelling by Eurostar, again something that I had not done previously so I had no idea what to expect there either! I just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone at ACCA (Association for Chartered & Certified Accountants) for organising this trip and making it as amazing as it was – especially Alicia (who I hope will be reading this!!).

It was an early start for me on the Tuesday morning as my train left Nottingham for London at 5:50 am. I wasn’t impressed!! However, I did get to see the sun rise, something that I don’t get to see very often so it made it more manageable! Once in London, I dashed through the station to catch my Eurostar to Brussels and thats where I met Alicia and Daniel. Alicia works for ACCA and coordinated the trip and Daniel is last years runner-up so he got to come along too. I was really really surprised as the Eurostar only took 2 hours to get from London to Brussels and did just feel like any other train but we were clearly going a lot faster!IMG_1650.JPG

Day one consisted of meeting members of staff from the ACCA office in Brussels and also hearing about the European parliament and how it effects the different businesses. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know all about Brexit so the trip really enlightened me as to the consequences of Britains exit from the European Union. After our lunch meeting and chats we headed off to check into our hotel which was the Thon Hotel set in the European Quarter. It was a great hotel that was lovely and modern and had the best buffet breakfast i’ve ever seen! You could even make your own Belgian waffles, which I did every single morning!20160831_100940.jpg

That evening, we headed off to Place Luxembourg for dinner and drinks with two lovely members of the ACCA Brussels office, Cecile and Vikte. This square is set just down from the EU parliament building so is a popular networking place for the professionals living and working in the city. Although I’m not a beer drinker, I was told I couldn’t leave Belgium without trying a Belgian beer! I opted for a Liefmans Fruitesse which was a light fruit beer so wasn’t too overpowering and was a good starter beer for beer haters!! It was very similar to fruit ciders like Rekorderlig or Kopperberg so it was really tasty! We stayed there for hours, soaking up the atmosphere and the sun and enjoying the food and drink until tiredness got the better of us all!

Day two started with a breakfast meeting back in the ACCA office and was swiftly followed by a trip to the European Commission office to find out more about how policies were set. I didn’t realise it can take years to make even a small change and that even then it might not be accepted! It was really interesting finding out more about what goes on behind the scenes as most of us only see what is directly in the public eye.20160831_111610.jpg After that we headed off to the European Parliament building which was perhaps one of my favourite things we did. The building is absolutely huge and has thousands of people from all over Europe working inside. We got to sit in one of the rooms where the meetings take place and I couldn’t get over how big it was! 20160831_130928.jpgThe main thing that struck me was how many translation booths there were inside that room. Obviously everything has to be translated into the many languages of the countries from the EU (I believe there are 24?!) so there are plenty of clever men and women working hard to ensure that happens! We also met a couple of lovely ladies who work for Members of the European Parliament (MEP’s) and found out more about what they do day-to-day. 20160831_132437.jpgPolitics is not a career path that I am particularly interested in but hearing abut their jobs did paint it in a completely new light for me! They are so busy and permanently running from one place to the next that it sounded quite exhilarating! Sadly, Brexit has had a negative effect on some of these roles and sadly means that some MEP’s and their colleagues will no longer have a job.20160831_151118 As someone who was a strong supporter to stay in the EU it did make me quite sad that the majority of the country had voted against this fantastic union! IMG_1718.JPG

After our trip to the parliament we headed off to do some more touristy things! We paid a visit to the Magritte museum which was full of the amazing art from René Magritte who was a Belgian artist specialising in surrealism. Now I am not really a lover of art so I was not sure how I would find an art museum, but it was amazing! The surrealism element made the paintings so intriguing and there were clear patterns in the style of his paintings at various stages of his life. I set myself a bit of a challenge to try and come up with an interpretation of each painting but some of them were very ‘surreal’! After the museum we had a wander round the older streets of Brussels in search for the Manneken Pis (Weeing Man) statue. We eventually found it on one of the street corners and couldn’t believe how small it was! It was such a funny little statue but one of the main things you have to see when you go to the city! We spent the next half an hour wandering in and out of chocolate shops being handed samples from the staff. I could definitely have got used to that!! IMG_1674.JPG

Finally it was time for cocktails and Alicia had received a recommendation from Vikte that we should go to La Pharmacie Anglaise, which describes itself as a ‘cocktails and curiosity’ bar but specialises in gin – something that I am incredibly fond of!! The bar itself is incredible. It has all sorts of knick-knacks and jars full of crazy things lining them walls and even a staircase full of Hendricks Gin bottles!IMG_1662.JPG There’s also a fantastic balcony level that overlooks the bar too. We all had different cocktails with Alicia opting for a Tropical themed cocktail, Daniel a rose flavoured one and me a berry and sage concoction! They were some of the best cocktails i’ve ever tried and really set the scene for the rest of the evening! We headed off to dinner after that at the delicious Les Petits Oignons which was a delicious french restaurant! I had a amazing truffle pasta dish and we drank some of the best wine I have ever tasted! It was a lovely meal and we all headed back to the hotel very full! IMG_1666.JPG

For our final day, we had no set plans so we decided to try and see as much as we could on foot to make the most of our time in Brussels. We headed straight for the palace as this was something we all wanted to visit. It is actually free to enter so we spent a while wandering the grand hallways and marvelling at the tapestries! It’s definitely worth a visit if you have a spare hour in Brussels!20160901_115328.jpg We spent the next couple of hours wandering round the shops and taking in the atmosphere. We had a bite to eat and then decided that we wanted to find the other famous statue in Brussels, the Jeanneke Pis (Weeing Girl). There was clearly a bit of a theme going on with these statues! This was even funnier than the first one and was set in an even more obscure place – down a small side street opposite a restaurant!!IMG_1677.JPG Sadly, we were fast running out of time so we started to make our way back to the hotel to grab our bags. On the way we did manage to fit in one more sight which was the beautiful Notre Dame De La Chappelle which is a gorgeous church in the centre of Brussels. It was as beautiful inside as outside and made a great end to our trip!20160901_141235.jpg

All good things come to an end and it was time for us to head home on the Eurostar! I was so pleased I got to see such a beautiful city and I would love to see more of Belgium in the future. One thing that did really stand out for me was the fact that there were a lot more women than men doing these kind of jobs. It was incredible to see so many fantastic ladies in such powerful jobs and was something I found incredibly inspiring! Thank you again to ACCA for making the trip possible and to Alicia and Daniel who put up with me for three days! Bits of this post may be distributed by ACCA so don’t panic if you see it somewhere else! Have you been to Brussels before?

Much Love

xoxo

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4 Pairs Of Work Shoes To Take You From Boardroom To Bar!

This month I’m putting on my big girl pants and actually starting my internship! Yep, that means 9-5.30 Monday to Friday guys, I just stepped into the real world and out of my student bubble! Although I am so excited, I was a bit worried about dressing smart enough yet still allowing my personal style to shine through. I might do a few work-based posts in case there are any other graduates or interns reading this but for now, I’m going to stick to everyones favourite: Shoes!

Collage_Fotor.jpgNow I am a girl who loves a high heel and I would rather suffer than wear flats all day every day. Literally I wear some kind of heeled shoe nearly every day to uni and actually get more blisters from my flip-flops and Birkenstocks than anything else! Therefore, corporate world just screamed heels to me so I’ve picked 4 pairs that should cover me for all eventualities. Two of them are very ‘work heel’ in my opinion and two of them are a little bit funky so I feel I have a good mix to last me the six weeks!

  1. The Nude Court Shoe – Now everyone needs a good Nude court shoes for work. They are classic and timeless and something that has been missing from my shoe collection for a while now. The ones I chose are from Dorothy Perkins and they are the Pink ‘Emie’ High Courts (£18.75 Sale price). Unfortunately I bought these just before the sale began, however I did get student discount on them which made them only £22.50 anyway. They have a nice pointed toe and have quite a high heel that is 4 inches. They are leather look and will be nice and easy to keep clean compared to patent shoes! These will be great for wearing with tailored trousers or a brighter dress!IMG_1101_Fotor.jpg
  2. The Black Court Shoe – No work shoe-drobe would be complete without the black court shoe. Although my Louboutins would fit the job perfectly, there is not a cat in hells chance I could survive wearing those all day without having to undergo some sort of foot reconstruction! Therefore I needed to pick up a cheaper pair that would be worn for all those times I need a black court shoe that I can wear for longer than two hours! I picked these London Rebel Pauline Velvet Court Shoes up from ASOS a couple of months ago for some interviews and they were such a good buy! They are a little bit quirky as they are velvet effect but the lower, 2 inch, heel is perfect for walking around in all day! They are also super cheap as they are on sale for only £16 now too! I am going to get so much wear out of these as they will literally go with everything!IMG_1106_Fotor.jpg
  3. The Shoe Boot – I love shoe boots. Literally I wear them most days and my Mum and I own so many pairs between us in different colours and finishes. These Khaki Ankle Wrap Shoe Boots from Next are actually quite different to any other pair we have and are a little dressier which makes them a great option for summer at work! The heel height is about 3 inches but due to the chunky nature of it, it is a lot easier to walk in. The suede effect makes them look quite high end and the tassels show the corporate world that you aren’t a number crunching drone! I think these will look great with dresses or skirts and a top and will keep my feet cool through the warmer months. These were the most expensive of the 4 at £40, however I still don’t think that is extortionate for some shoes (lets not get into the cost of the Louboutins!!!).IMG_1108_Fotor.jpg
  4. The Curve Ball – I like to try new things with fashion and I like to try and establish my own style. I definitely am more of a dresses girl and love to dress up for events. However, I do like to have quirky pieces in my wardrobe that aren’t quite the norm and I think these shoes are as quirky as I could get away with for work. These Leather Wood Look Sandals, again from Next, are so me and as soon as I put them on and realised how comfy they were, I knew I had to have them! The nice thing about these is that the tan sections are actually real leather and the sole is made up to look like wood, making them a little reminiscent of a clog! The stud detailing down the side finishes it off nicely and the chunky heel is only 3.5 inches making them easy to walk in. These came in at a price of £38 which I think is really reasonable for leather shoes. I think these would look great with trousers or dresses and will keep me looking smart yet stylish at the same time!IMG_1103_Fotor.jpg

Those are the 4 staple pairs of shoes I have for my internship, there is likely to be other shoes entering into the mix too but I thought a base of 4 would help me decide on some outfits initially. By the time you are reading this, I will be heading down to Windsor to start my three day training so fingers crossed it all goes okay! What do you think of these? Which ones are your favourite?

Much Love

xoxo

Little Life Update!

I honestly cannot believe that it has been a week since I last posted! Ideally I want to post everyday but clearly that is just not happening at the moment!! I thought I would do a short little post to let you know what’s been going on and to explain why posts may be a bit infrequent over the next few weeks!

So, at the moment I am working full time whilst it is still the holidays. This is the busiest time of the year for the company that I work for so it really is all hands on deck! The only reason I can write this is because I am at home feeling a bit ill today so i’m in bed! As you all know I tutor in the evenings too so that takes up my evenings and by the time I get home I just want to switch off so blogging has taken a little bit of a back seat over the last few weeks.

I have agreed to look after a lovely lady’s little puppy once a week too so I have my hands full there. She is absolutely adorable and spending time with her really makes me happy. I am looking forward to walks along the river and to the park and just having puppy cuddles when I am feeling down. I think I may write a post on how I came about this perfect little arrangement so keep your eyes peeled for that one! IMG_1773

I also go on holiday next week, woo! I go for 10 days which is the longest I’ve been away for a few years so I am really looking forward to it! I am debating taking my laptop with me so I can write a few posts by the side of the pool but I’ve not decided yet. I start back to uni two days after I get back from holiday so I’m weighing up wether it would be worth having 10 days of laptop free time or whether I need to have some internet activity! I’ll keep you posted on that one!

As i’ve just said, I am heading back to uni on the 29th September to start my second year. I cannot believe I am saying that but I am actually really excited to see all my friends and get stuck into it again. Although I do live at home, I still get a bit nervous about changing my routine so it still causes a little bit of disturbance! I am trying to get everything sorted well in advance this year so I can go on holiday and forget about it all, but as we all know, that never ever happens!

Finally, on the 9th October I turn 21 so I have a party to plan for and lots of exciting things coming up that may take up a bit of my time. I am still loving my little corner of the internet and I am proud of what it has become, however I just wanted to keep you all posted as the likelihood is that there won’t be any coherent schedule over the next few weeks as my life doesn’t have a coherent schedule either!!

Thank you to everyone who keeps reading my posts and commenting, it makes me so happy and hopefully when I settle back into a steady routine at uni, I can start building my blog up again and gain a few more lovely readers.

Much love

xoxo

P.S I’ve added a little ‘Song of the moment’ section to my sidebar so make sure to hit play and listen to my current number one track!