I’m old, all of a sudden.

I don’t know how this has happened. In fact, it seems just yesterday I was blogging about how I didn’t feel like an adult. But something has changed, and I’m not sure I’m happy with how this whole “getting old” lark is going so far.

I turn twenty on Friday- and rather than being all excited about a birthday (read: having an excuse to throw a party), I’m turned numb at the thought of leaving my teens behind. I don’t think I’ve accepted it, even now, with three days to go. But regardless of whether I’m prepared to leave nineteen behind, the rest of world seems to be heaping extra age on top of me.

My ideal man, Norris.

Camping with the family this weekend- I had very little signal and very few opportunities to charge my phone. I don’t particularly use my phone all that much, so it’s still pathetically exciting when I get a text. This excitement is then doubled by the fact that it provides a momentary distraction from sitting in a soggy field. So imagine my disappointment when my phone lights up, not with a message from a loved-one, or an invitation to a party, but with a text from Mecca Bingo, asking how I am. The insult to my injury arrives only ten minutes later, when Optical Express text me asking if I’m interested in a free laser eye surgery consultation.

Not convinced I’m weirdly middle-aged before my time? I spent (and thoroughly enjoyed) last Friday night in Sainsbury’s with my mum, debating whether to get frozen or fresh corn-on-the-cobs. (We went for fresh, jsyk). In a game of “who would you invite to your birthday party” played recently with my family, I, without shame nor hesitation, plumped for Norris Cole of Coronation Street fame. I’ve asked for an alarm clock for my impending birthday.  If that hasn’t persuaded you, nowt will.

SO. What should I do? Accept my twenties glumly, start investing in some good blankets and sign up to online bingo? Sod that. I’m going to carry on holding my youth dear, and make the big two-oh something to remember. Forget the quarter-life crisis!

I’ve had a trip to France booked for quite some time. As it’s coming closer, I’m starting to panic, as I always do with this kind of thing. I’m in a horrid amount of debt courtesy of the unexpected turn my Turkey trip took, so a pretty easy way of cutting costs would be to cancel the trip.

But that’s what boring, middle aged 20 y o Farrah would do. And I’m going to be exciting and interesting 20 y o Farrah, and pull my tongue out at the idea of cancelling. I have savings that I’ve worked hard to earn, and a trip to south France working on an eco-farm-come-antique-bookshop is exactly the kind of rainy day I was saving for.

It mightn’t be the most financially wise thing to do, but I have a year of hard work ahead of me at university, and a wonderful part time job to help get me back on track once I touchdown in York again in September. This is me treating myself, in a way. Proving that my twenties are going to be as stunningly cool as possible, and not a one way road to knitting magazines. Though I might hold onto my Corrie infatuation for now.


Haggling and heckling- my paisley green trousers.

Tuesday is Market Day in Fethiye. I love markets; they’re the most exciting way to see a town in action. People arguing about that extra couple of pounds. Stallholders competing for custom by shouting out the prices of their products, money being exchanged, flurries of colour and smells and sounds. Everyone seems to be having fun. Bartering, haggling and heckling. Handfuls of spices, sheaths of fabrics. Handmade trinkets and “Off-The-Lorry” pots and pans. Ugh, I love it. So much so that I resent shopping anywhere but markets when I‘m abroad.  

Up early (to catch the worms), I zipped into the market area to immerse myself in it all. I’d been saving my lira for today,  and was prepared to spend every last penny. First buy was a handful of peaches from the food bit, to keep me going through the beating heat and rush of the day. 

Okay. I’d never ever normally do a fashion related post. Seeing as everything I own is from H&M, you’d be better off browsing their website than having a look at which t-shirt&jeans/skirt combo I’ve gone for today. But I’m riding on a bit of a high right now, so you’ll have to excuse me. And with all due respect to H&M, I don’t think they’ve ever designed a pair of trousers as exciting as the ones I’ve just bought. Plus, in my defence, I’m not sure this counts as fashion.

Paisley! Green! With red bits!

Not sure when I plan on wearing them- they might raise a few eyebrows in a syntax lecture- but how could anyone feasibly resist a pair of trousers like this? (Don’t answer that, please. I love them too much.) Even the guy selling them couldn’t quite believe my delight at finding these treasures. They remind me a little of the Peru-pants Max Wartelle and Sam Graham came back wearing from South America this time three(?!) years ago. Utterly useless aesthetically, but wholly lovable. 

More, ahem, conservative buys included a pair of coral pink shoes, a hipster tie-die dress that I’m going to get Nana Kelly to alter, and another handmade cushion cover. A few hours later, I rushed back and bought the same pair of shoes in a different colour. I had honestly intended on buying souvenirs for my loved ones, but I got swept up in the paisley-green excitement of the day and forgot about my nearest and dearest. Sorry mum. Sorry friends. You get to see me dressed in those badboys as a booby-prize.


Being alone; how a restless girl copes.

Okay. Without wanting to sound macabre, this blog post is going to be about being on my own. It’s not one massive sulk, so you can all just put away your eye rolling and miniature violins. I’m in a self-inflicted solitary confinement over here, so I’ve had plenty of time to think this through.


The first step of being alone whilst on your travels is this strange sense of overconfidence when it comes to strangers. All of a sudden, I’m this social butterfly, befriending people from all over the world with my charm and boundless self-assurance. I don’t know how it happened. It just did.

Touring Blue Bays of Fethiye :)

I went on a boat day trip thing the other day, and the relaxed atmosphere and gorgeous settings led me to casually striking up conversation with complete strangers. Dasha, the Ukranian schoolgirl, impressed me with her English and we chatted about school and university. On hearing an English accent while taking a boatside dip in the sea, I swam right up to a couple from Essex. I’m now welcome to visit them if I ever find myself in the part of Fethiye they have a B&B in, which is nice. I also braved speaking a little Mandarin to a Chinese family- which considering the last time I spoke Chinese I burst into tears, can only have been down to a surge of misplaced confidence. They more or less understood what I was trying to say, but their English skills far outshone my Chinese ones, so I was spared the mortification of singlehandedly ruining the beauty of a language. The day was a success, and I can now safely archive this unlikely bunch into the group “Met On Holiday” and move on. Woo!

Only just managing to stay upright in Saklikent Gorge.


In trying to recreate my sudden surge of social ability, I went on another day trip. Well, that’s not exactly the reason. Saklikent Gorge is mindblowing- and warrants a day trip regardless of whether there’s any likelihood of making new mates or not. Whatever. My friend-making skills were scaled down to zero, as no one spoke any English. In fact, I felt very conscious that I was the only person in a group of twelve who never had the faintest idea of what was going on- how long the journey would take, the price of entry, how to not fall and die in the gorge. It would have been pretty maddening, but instead, it just got boring. Not speaking to anyone frustrated me. I became sulky in the evening, having not uttered a single phrase other than “sorry, I’m English” all day. I’d read all of my books, the wifi connection was failing me, I didn’t feel like going to a bar where I wouldn’t know anyone and have to sit on my own. So I frowned all night instead.

I’m my own worst enemy when I get like this. Nothing anyone says can swing me out of a grump like this one. But that was irrelevant. No one was saying anything much to me at all, nevermind trying to lift my lonely spirits. So I moped around my hotel room and bitched at my friends when the wifi connection lasted long enough for me to send a facebook message (sorry, friends).  I was lonely and bored and I wanted to watch fucking Coronation Street already. Moodily, I went to bed for lack of better things to do. 


After a good telling off via email from a few friends, I decided to shut up whinging and make the most of having some time to myself. How often do you get an entire week, unimpeded by any responsibilities, unmarked by any urgencies, to do exactly what you want with? And considering how rare this week is, what better place to do it than on the edge of the Mediterranean coast? So I packed myself a little bag of pens, books, notepads and my iPod, and marched out to the dolmus station.

I spent the day writing. And I mean the entire day. I wrote things I’d intended on publishing for The Yorker, I wrote reviews of the places I’d been, I wrote things I wouldn’t dream of publishing on here for fear of people actually reading them. The bemused waiter asked me if it was my diary. “Sort of“, I replied, flashing a quick smile and accepting my third refill of fresh orange juice. The orange juice glasses got increasingly decorative and elaborate as my time in the cafe went on. The first glass had been simple, ice, straw, drink. By the time I left, I was getting flashing straws, umbrellas, slices of exotic fruit wedged onto the glass, fireworks. I like to think they were playing a game of “How-much-shit-can-we-put-on-her-glass-before-she-looks-up-from-her-notepad”. They were probably just trying to increase the chances of a tip, but a girl can imagine.

Pen running out of ink, and myself running out of writing-steam, I popped on a water taxi back home and went for another walk along the harbour. I sat and idly watched the sun set over the bay with some fishermen, meandered back to the hotel, and had a long shower. Today’s been good. This is the kind of solitary confinement I could get used to.

Sighh. I guess I can go without speaing English for a day if this is what the evening looks like. 


The Yorker Archives: Getting your deposit back.

This time of year is one fraught with distress for students. Results are rolling in thick and fast, it’s at least a four month hiatus from all your university friends, student loans aren’t coming in until next October… and for many of us, our delightful landlords are dangling our deposits just out of reach.

As second and third years will now know, getting your deposits back this summer is a very simple process. You have to have not broken or stolen anything. You have to return keys and other bits and bobs back in time. You have to have hired Kim and Aggy, spend seven full days sobbing over a blue-tack mark on your wall, hoovering the ceilings and polishing the underside of your desks. Also, make sure the oven LITERALLY sparkles, the loo could be used to eat your dinner off, and there isn’t a single stray micro-speck of dust floating in the atmosphere of your bedroom. Otherwise, kiss goodbye to that £300.

Students aren’t exactly notorious for their cleanliness. It’s a fact jumped on by landlords, as they fear for the state of the carpets each time they let out a property to a group of scruffy undergrads. Hence the relatively large deposits and the forty-seven page cleaning manual doled out to many tenants at the end of summer term. They’re just worried they’ll have to rehouse all those traffic cones you brought home after nights out all year, or pay for a professional cleaner to get rid of all the kebab mould from the kitchen. Fair enough.

The requirements set out by your landlord in order to return your deposit may seem tantalisingly obscure, but in reality, you needn’t worry too much. Minimise the possibility of any clashes by being sensible and logical when leaving your student home.

  • Put everything they provided you with in the places that they were in on moving in day. That means the Henry vacuum you haven’t used all year and is being used as a bedside table in your room needs to be put back in the utility cupboard. That way, the landlord won’t think you’ve stolen the entire cutlery collection and charge you for it, when in fact it’s all there underneath your bed. 
  • Double check what they expect to be left in the house. This means examining the inventory you should have been given. It can be pretty easy to quickly become attached to certain household items (tin openers that miraculously work, for example), so unless you’re 100% certain that that kettle is yours, you’d be better off cross-referencing the inventory with everything you’re stowing away in the moving van. 
  • Take photos of the house right before you leave. Not necessarily for nostalgic reasons, though I’m sure in twenty years’ time you’ll get a great laugh out of looking at the shower you used to use. Rather, these photographs or recordings will provide you with some kind of proof of how you left the house. If there are any disputes over cleanliness or missing items, then you will be able to consult these pictures. 

Although it may seem like a mammoth task to polish your student digs up into pristine condition, making sure you put a little extra elbow grease in may be the difference between getting your deposit back and being forced to beg your parents for Efe’s money. Also as your deposit should be protected by the Deposit Protection Scheme, any really serious disputes can be taken to them. Happy scrubbing!

[FIRST PUBLISHED http://theyorker.co.uk/lifestyle/cashflow/11826
ALSO PUBLISHED http://onestowatchmedia.com/2012/07/01/claiming-back-your-housing-deposit-a-student-guide/]