Nottingham was my first experience of city living, you could say it was something of a culture shock moving there for University at 18 when I was a country girl born and raised - the first fortnight (in between Freshers events) was full of tearful phone calls to my parents telling them how horrible the place was. They were brilliant and urged me to stick with it a little longer, give it a proper chance and see how I felt at Christmas. Dad frequently dropped by on his way home from various non-existent work trips to check I was okay (he's a legend) and Mum sent little notes whenever she forwarded my post. It isn't cool to say it but although I was meeting great people and experiencing new things I missed home; I missed being woken up by Belle sticking her nose in my ear and snuffling away, I missed having my little sister on the other side of the door, I missed endless chats with my Dad and giggling away with my Mum, I missed our little house on the edge of a wood down a bone-shaking farm track and being surrounded by fields.
Somewhere along the line I fell in love with the city, met some of the loveliest people in my life there and had some brilliant experiences. My first pitcher of Margarita, falling in love, endless gigs, discovering Chai tea latte, getting my first tattoo, and having my name in print for the first time go firmly onto the pile made of win. A mugging, a couple of bereavements and a very disappointing experience with sushi - I tried, oh I tried so hard to like sushi - were not so brilliant, but I feel as though I came of age there. I never stopped missing home but there was an energy about Nottingham that kept me buzzing, there was always something to see or do. Frequent pilgrimages were made to Waterstones (if you haven't been to the Nottingham branch, believe me when I say it is tantamount to Mecca) to pick up 3 for 2 before impatiently trotting over the road to set up camp in the corner of a now defunct branch of Starbucks for a couple of hours reading away and slurping my bodyweight in Chai latte. That was something else I discovered in Notts, there is nothing better than some great conversation with a friend who just gets you, but I also like my own company. Fopp became something of a second home - it was 5 minutes walk from my student flat and crammed with joy. If you're wondering what the hell Fopp is; in a nutshell it's an independent music store selling an amazing range of genres at equally amazing prices, music alone would be enough to light my fire but when you add in the bargain-priced books and DVDs you're well away, although it does look curiously industrial considering it is housed in a gorgeous period building. There was a vintage clothing shop above a hairdressers just off the market square that I'd retreat to when I had a bad day, hidden away and cramped but there were so many gems if you had the patience to flick through the racks.
Anyway - I digress, what I really meant to ramble on about was my visit last Tuesday to catch up with Sara who writes one of my favourite blogs, I should say though that while it felt like a bloggers day out; camera phones at the ready and litres of tea and coffee quaffed between mooning over all things bookish, pretty or vintage - I actually know Sara of old. We met in 2007 while studying English at Nottingham Trent and initially bonded over a shared love of books before discovering that actually we had so much in common it was ridiculous. Admittedly we differ a bit on our opinion of buskers . . . . she melts inside at the strum of an acoustic guitar and the vocals of a scruffy-handsome mid twenties sort of guy while I feel a bit embarrassed by the whole thing. Didn't stop me making up an entire song entitled 'Sara Loves the Scruffy Buskers' though, and singing away at her to the bemusement of whoever was unfortunate enough to wander past in earshot of my dulcet tones. I don't think she appreciated it when I pointed out a tramp with a tin whistle as a possible conquest either . . . Tramps aside (sure he'd have been more appealing if he'd had a dog on a string) we spent the day discovering new little shops and reliving my city-girl years in old favourite haunts. Exciting results being that Nottingham has sprouted some more excellent vintage and charity shops since I moved over the hills and far away at the end of 2010 and I can't wait to go back and re-visit them all. Come lunchtime - well two o'clock, Sara introduced me to another little corner of lovely that sprang up in my absence: The White Rabbit Teahouse where we enjoyed a lush tea for two. It's a tiny little place with only 7 or 8 tables but it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say it is packed to the rafters with the sort of vintage charm I adore; cloched cake stands on a Victorian looking dark-wood sideboard, a library of vintage teapots on the shelves, vintage crockery as far as the eye can see and all sorts of old knick knacks to look at. We'll be back, and I mean that in as non-threatening a way as possible. Feeling a bit full of tea and cake we then sauntered around enjoying the sunny-but-breezy weather before hitting the shops again with a vengeance for the last couple of hours. Last off we wound up in Topshop where I bought some incredible makeup (yes this is still me, I'm not an impostor) that made me giddy, but that's another post . . . When it came to heading home I felt sad, it had been such a fantastic day catching up with Sara and with Nottingham that I didn't want it to end. I'll keep you posted on shops to check out next time I go back!