Finishing what I started

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so thanks to those of you who have stuck with me!

After leaving my course at the university of Reading and taking a couple of years out, I returned to university as a mature student to complete my degree. Last week, after years of wanting to do it and a lot of moments doubting whether I could, I finished!

It’s been quite a journey. For a while I became the student that all universities have, who completes their studies a ghost. They’re a face in lectures without a voice or personality. Every now and then people question whether you’re actually on their course at all.

Strangely enough it was one of the most antisocial things that I did, that changed all of that…

I started eating lunch in the Chapel. I felt a bit awkward sitting in a loud, crowded refectory full of chatting students when I was by myself. The Chapel was quiet, comfortable, and boasted free Coffee: which in my opinion is always a win. At some point this changed, and I’m not sure when or how, but people started appearing. Other people eating their lunch in the Chapel, inhaling the free caffeine, and chatting to me!

These people are now my friends, my community. We studied together, laughed together, held each other up when we felt ourselves slipping. All of a sudden I wasn’t a hermit but part of a little family.

I did an internship at the University too, working with the Equality and Diversity manager. I got to work on projects such as a reciprocal mentoring, focus groups, a report on improving staff mental health and the organisation of a conference. Its been tough at times but with supportive friends and colleagues around me I’ve got through and produced some good and long lasting work.

Now I’m moving on! I’ve got a job in Sussex working within mental health, and am really excited to enter this new chapter of my life.

I’ve learnt a lot since I last wrote and I’m looking forward to posting each week again. So thanks for bearing with me while I’ve been so busy! Remember to take care of yourself and I’ll be back with you next week!





This is part 4 of ‘New Beginnings’, if you need to catch up before reading: click here.


Two more dates this week, between shifts of shovelling caffeine into the mouths of greedy tourists with drooping bags of tiredness beneath their eyes. Obviously most of them do so much sightseeing that they forget to sleep. I stayed with Alli for a couple of days since I last wrote, but he turned out to be an incredibly irritating person to live with. I had hoped he’d get me away from Bianca but he’s worse. He natters away to me in Italian, way to quickly for me to have any idea what he’s dribbling on about and then gets mad when I don’t understand and ask him to repeat himself. I repeat in Inglese? You stupido or only sordo? I know that word well now, sordo, no I’m not bloody deaf you intolerable man. I haven’t seen him since I left his flat when he went to work 2 days ago.

When I got home I nearly called Rob, I miss his reliability. In my near month of living in this new place with new and unreliable people I’m beginning to miss his predictability and familiarity.My mum too, I called her yesterday. Had to. That woman is the most beautiful human on the planet. I may have taken her for granted and got bored of her weekly dinners but what I wouldn’t give for a Sunday roast with the parents right now. She wasn’t even annoyed that I hadn’t spoken to her in weeks, she was all how is it? Is it brilliant? Tell me everything! So I did. We spoke for a good hour and a half. We’ve arranged another chat next week but I’m not sure I’ll stay. I emailed them about that job tutoring kids in languages and they’ve offered me an interview.


I called Rob. In a desperate act of maintaining my disinterest I deliberately called when I could rely upon him to be eating his dinner and listening to some of his favourite music with a glass of Rioja. He still answered though. Seemed surprised but pleased I think. Said he was glad to hear from me, asked about my trip, told me briefly about his life. He retold my mum’s story of his visit to drop my stuff off at her house. Said my parents looked well. Apparently the old lady next door had moved into a nursing home and a young couple had moved in. He’d taken them a bottle of red and introduced himself (probably with one of his weak handshakes) but they hadn’t been happy to see him. Said they hadn’t moved here to make friends and he’d returned with the bottle to his (empty) flat. He’d started to say ‘our flat’ but quickly corrected himself sounding worried.

I accepted the interview. Called Mags first, she’s going to lend me a suit because I’ve not worn one in years and don’t want to pay for extra luggage on the way back. I’ve given Bianca notice, told work I’m leaving, I didn’t say bye to anyone else. Mum screamed when I called her, offered to get dad to pick me up from the airport which he agreed to, failing to hide the smile from his voice on the phone. I fly back tomorrow! Tonight I’m taking one final walk along the Ponte Vecchio to watch the sun set over the old stonework of the city.


I got the job! I start next week, maybe doing something that I’m interested in will help everything to run more smoothly. Mum says maybe I didn’t need such a drastic change but Mags said people always need change and it probably made me realise how much I’d miss her if I left for good. I laughed. She’s right though, leaving these people I’d loved reminded me how much I love them. Dinners at the parents might always be the same but they’re easy and full of love. Mags may be slightly insane and so familiar that she’s blended into the background of the city but she’s my best friend. No one in Italy, or anywhere else, even came close to knowing all of my little secrets and habits. To being allowed to laugh at my stupid comments and telling me openly when I look a state.

I saw Rob yesterday. We went for coffee at an old favourite shop of ours. As I fell back into the rickety faded wood of the chair and inhaled the scent of freshly brewed coffee and old paper drifting from the books lining the walls I couldn’t help but feel at home. Rob set two mugs carefully down on our table. His black, two sugars. Mine a latte, none. One chocolate muffin to share, he sliced it in half. The standard routine wrapped around me like a blanket. Palpably warm. He smiled at me. The smile I knew so well from years of loving him and being loved in return. Reliable love. One that stayed the same through all these years and hadn’t been altered in my absence and failures.

I thought to myself then, perhaps the same things aren’t boring. They’re just as beautiful as the new sights I so admired upon my arrival in Florence. The sight of him just as entrancing as the music at night on the beautiful bridge as the sun set. The old things made new again by a new appreciation. A renewed love.



This is part 3 of ‘New Beginnings’ if you want to catch up before reading: click here.


I decided to take the whole ‘no constraints’ things seriously, and the first step was to break my schedule with this diary. A whole 6 days without it, felt like a lifetime! I did it though, and I’m back to update my future self on my adventures. Looked around a load of the palaces here which are impressive for the most part, but considering the wealth of the Medici family I’m not surprised. I’ve taken to reading about Italian history, focusing on here in particular and it’s quite interesting. I made a little timeline and took photos to match the various important places. I sent them to mum, part of me wishes she could be here, it’d be nice to have her around for a bit. But that’s silly. I’m independent now, I don’t need anyone.

Bianca and I go for dinner once a week, and she’s been teaching me the language. I’m getting pretty good at it. Sometimes I still ask people things in English and sometimes they respond in English, but I feel stupid every time. I should be better by now. I should be fluent. Once I’m fluent I can get a job and stay here forever. Bianca says I might be able to get a job in a cafe, one of those where sometime English people come and want to know what they’re eating.

I went to a bar the other night with her and she introduced me to some people. I ended up going home with one of her friends and staying at his for the night. He made me coffee in the morning but didn’t have time to sit with me on the balcony. No time. He had to go to work. Fair enough, would’ve been nice if he’d stayed a bit longer though. I posted the keys back through his letter box when I left.


I got a call from Mags this morning. Apparently it’s not the same without me, work is boring and the Friday drinks have become the dullest moment of her week. She said she doesn’t gel with anyone else, they’re all boring and married and not looking for anything new in their lives. She’s dyed her hair again apparently, green. Why? ‘For a change’. She’s off her rocker. It was nice to hear her voice. Mum replied to my letter too with a photo of her and dad and a little comment at the bottom saying that Rob had dropped a few of my things over and asked how I was getting on. She asked if she can give me a call sometime but I haven’t replied yet. I’m supposed to be adventuring by myself.

I went out with the guy again – his name’s Alessandro by the way – Alli we call him. It was interesting and my Italian’s getting good enough for us to have a proper chat in his language. The food was insane as usual but something was missing. It wasn’t easy. I guess that’s why I’m here, I got bored of easy. I found myself missing the ease of a conversation with Rob or my mum or Mags over some horrible stodgy English food. There’s no one here who really knows me, I’ve never had that before.

I’ve got an interview tomorrow to get a job in one of the touristy cafes near the Cathedral de Santa Maria Novella. If I get it I’ll be able to stick around, but I’m going to run out of money otherwise. I can just work for a few months. Might move on to another country. Keep the adventure moving…


I got the job. It’s so tedious though. Mainly I end up talking English because the cafe I work in is priced up for the tourists and the locals know better. It’s what I wanted though I suppose and it’s easy, just not really pushing my abilities, I feel like I’ve downgraded from my job in England. I guess that should have been obvious but it’s still a bit depressing. I was looking at a course in England, looking at learning languages in order to teach them to kids. It pays pretty well because it’s all private and I’d be doing something a little harder than serving coffee and pastries. It would however involve going home, not sure I’m ready for that.

I’ve got to know Bianca a little better now and I’ve discovered something. She’s one of those people who you only make friends with because you don’t have much choice and you’d never have picked if you did. She’s nice enough. I’m probably being unfair, Mags came to stay for two days this week and I took her to all my favourite places and we had a real laugh. She’s dyed her hair yet again, but she’s got a boyfriend now. An actual one that she isn’t planning to get rid of next time she changes the colour of her locks. he’s stuck around through two colours now, and that’s no mean feat! I miss her I guess.

The First Step.

The First Step.

This is part 2 of ‘New Beginnings’, if you need to catch up before reading: click here.


New year, new me! I know it’s a massive cliche and if I’m going to change everything I should really get rid of the diary but I’m just not there yet… besides if this all goes horribly wrong I’d like to know at exactly what point the disaster happened. So the diary stays, you’d be glad to know if you were capable of feeling emotions, or thinking, or breathing. Either way, I’m not chucking you on the fire so that’s always a plus.

So I’ve become a little impulsive. Last night I booked flights, two singles to Florence for tomorrow! I haven’t told Bobbie yet but I’ll see him at dinner and I can tell him then. I’ve already called mum and cancelled dinner for the foreseeable future, no more dull Sunday lunches for me. Besides, I don’t know when I’m coming back or if I am. I only booked one way tickets and I haven’t even found a place to stay yet! I feel like a new person, so adventurous, I even quit my job. Huge!!! Can’t go back to work tomorrow if I’m going on holiday indefinitely. It’s a new start. I found an Italian phrase book in the attic and buried under a load of dusty books from Bobbie’s university days and I’ve been trying to memorise as many words as I can. I at least know ‘Ciao’ and I guess that’s a good start.


And we have lift off!! I’m writing this on the plane which thankfully is going calmly along in the air without any of that turbulence stuff, I’ve always wondered what that actually is. It’s probably just the weather or something but either way it’s terrifying, plus it’s not the most useful when you’re trying to write.

Bobbie isn’t with me. He stayed at home, after a lecture about how irresponsible I’m being and how he can’t take time off work and I shouldn’t desert him and jet off to a country for God knows how long. He doesn’t know if he can wait so I told him not to bother. Hey presto! The new me is single. I know I sound all chirpy but that’s just an act, strange as that is since you can’t tell anyone and are basically just my thoughts but I’ve decided to live firmly under the philosophy of faking it till I make it. I’ll miss him though, he was always there and it’s going to be weird without him.

Anyway, adventure! I got an email back from a woman called Bianca who says I can rent her spare room for as long as I like. She can speak a bit of English and promised to help me figure out the language. It’s so exciting, I can’t wait to land.


Alright so when she said that she speaks a bit of English, she really means ‘a bit’. We’re currently communicating largely through hand gestures and heavy use of the phrase book, I think it’ll be useful eventually, I guess I have to learn the language now. The room was a little mis-advertised too, there’s no bed, just a mattress on the floor. The rest of the place is nice though and there’s plenty of space to cram everything I own into the cupboards which is great. The view out of the window is the best bit, she lives in a tiny little place near to the Ponte Vecchio and my bedroom window looks out over the river. It’s so beautiful! On the other side of the river are blocks of yellow stone houses just like the flat we’re in, and on the left is the bridge, the most exquisitely ancient bridge. It’s laden with little market stalls and the glinting windows of tiny shops, in the middle are some perfectly sculpted archways and sometimes you can see people in them, gazing out over the river.

She took me to a restaurant last night and I’m not sure whether the food was better, or the atmosphere. I deliberately picked some kind of pasta without fully knowing what it was, but the flavour was an explosion in my mouth. The most incredible thing I’ve ever eaten, I swear if I go home I’ll take a year’s supply back with me! The city comes alive at night too and I was overwhelmed by the number of people who have walked these streets before me, the air is almost electric with vibrancy and friendly noise. As we crossed the bridge there was a guy playing the guitar and singing and everyone stood to watch for a while, we joined them for a bit and I remember being so glad that I didn’t have anywhere specific to be at any time soon.I think I’ll live my whole life this way, no constraints or boundaries, always moving forwards.




Last day at work this year! Big woop, same old crap will start again in exactly 4 days and the year won’t make any difference. It was a long day today too, no one ever calls with enquiries this close to New Year. It drags when that happens.Went out for drinks with Mags after though, that was okay. She’s trying out another hair style, says she wants to get the ‘New Her’ ready for when the bells ring at midnight. To be honest I’m a bit worried if she’s judging the new her by her hairstyle, she changes it every week and she’d end up burning through a lot of personalities.She’s booked a holiday too, she’s always off and leaving me alone at our desk to deal with her wining customers, it’s somewhere in Spain this time. Never heard of the place, can’t remember what it’s called but I don’t think it’ll be important when I’m looking back on this diary at 90 years old while I’m rotting in an armchair watching Countdown.

So after drinks I get home and Bobbie’s made his standard chicken stir-fry because he got home first. I felt a bit bad since the reason I was home late was because I’d been guzzling cocktails, but I played along. He’s not good with confrontation, I didn’t want another row like when I’d gone to mum’s without letting him know and he’d made dinner already.Boring night, standard Netflix and vino, although with the nice addition of a box of truffles because Bobbie was in a good mood. Mum rang to check we’re still going for Sunday lunch the week after New Year. Other than that, not a lot. Everything’s the damn same as it was yesterday and there’s not much chance of that changing soon. My hand hurts like a little bitch and I’m bored so bye.



So I’m writing this at 11.30pm on NYE, my allocated time for writing in my diary every night. There’s not really much point in changing that routine for tonight since all we’re doing is watching the countdown show on TV with a bottle of wine and some snacks. Bobbie sits there chewing so loudly you can barely hear the thing anyway so I’m not really missing much. Anyway, this is the last entry this year! I bet if you weren’t an inanimate object you’d be so excited you couldn’t sit still… but if you reacted that way I’d probably throw you out of the window for being pathetic.

My sister rang me at 10 and was like: Oh my Goooood, it’s new Year’s Eeeeveee, I can’t wait for this paaaartyyyy later it’s gonna be soooooooo goooood. Oh honey what’re you doing? Something exciting oh pleeeeaaaaseeee tell me you are. It was the longest phone call of my life. Holy crap. Her voice is so shrill and when she drags out every syllable it takes an obtusely long time to get any information out of her. When I told her there was no party at mine it was like she was going to have a fit, or come and drag me over to her house party or something. Wish I could’ve thrown her out of the window.

So this year, time to reflect. My overwhelming view of the year is that it was insanely boring. I saw this picture on facebook of this travel company doing cheap holidays to Italy and I said to Bobbie we should go in February because it’d be romantic and he was like: Awh no honey we couldn’t. I’ll book our usual table at that Italian place you like and we’ll go and have a delicious meal and watch a movie in bed with candles. It’s tradition. And when I suggested we go to Italy at a different time he was like: Oh no baby, we always go on holiday to Spain in June and we can’t afford another one at the moment, it’s heritage, it’s tradition, we can’t change it. So that was that. Same old plan for this year. It’ll be just as freaking dull and full of ‘Roberto’s boring Spanish heritage.

Happy bloody new year.



I’ve made a resolution. You will know since you’ve just about survived a year, that this is unlike me, but it happened all the same. I’m like a new person,and that’s the idea! New Year, New Me and all that rubbish that I’m pretty sure is some kind of media campaign to help out the gyms that have suffered while we’ve all been stuffing our faces over Christmas. But I’ve bought into it anyway, and not the gym thing, the resolution thing. Here it comes, the resolution that’s so important that it’s got it’s own line!


That’s all for today, I’ve got a holiday to book and planning to do… if I’m still a planner. Maybe I’ll become impulsive, I guess we just don’t know!