Music, Personal

Nashville: Why I Love Music City

Nashville – a place which has firmly taken up a huge space in my heart. Ever since I heard my first country song, or the unmistakable sound of a fiddle’s strings above the notes of a steel pedal guitar, Nashville has always been right where I truly wanted to be. Forget London. Forget Paris. I’d always dreamed about music city for as long as I can remember, never really thinking I’d ever in my life actually get to go. Nashville is over 4,000 miles away. How on earth was I going to get there if I was terrified of planes and defiant in my belief that if went on a boat across the Atlantic, it would surely sink?

But I took a leap of faith. If I was going to die, at least I was going to die trying!

IMG_1978

With my bags packed and a suitcase half empty just so I could fill it up with cowboy boots, I hopped on that plane and, last year, I finally made it to Nashville. I couldn’t believe I was right there, walking the streets, feeling that fresh southern breeze glide across my face, and taking in the sweet, heady heat of the vibrant music city amid the galore of cowboy boot stores, rooftop bars, and live music venues open all day long. I was in country music heaven. What was there not to love about this?

But it’s hardly just the music. I love the history too. From the bloody battlefield of the American Civil War, where thousands died, right up to the thriving modern city it is today, Nashville is steeped in history with vibrant stories laying open and ready to tell. During my stay, I visited a house that sits on a more unforgiving side of history: Belle Meade Plantation. Previously home to a wealthy confederate supporter, this rich family once boasted the largest slave holding in Nashville. And, astonishingly, almost as rich and powerful as it was over 150 years ago, Belle Meade is still a distinct area for homes belonging to the rich and famous. Needless to say, from a historical, political, and personal point of view, it was fascinating to drive around these stunning homes, many of them proudly flying their American flag high for all to see.

BELLE MEADE CROP.jpg
Belle Meade Mansion

On a less miserable note, I think what I love most about Nashville is the fact that everybody is so welcoming out there. When I visited the Loveless Café with some new-found friends, a famous venue for ‘real southern food’, we had a busy table of over twenty people. When we apologised for being so loud, the waitress simply came back with, ‘Honey, I love a hoopla!’ The people there are full of southern charm and it was a quality I was surprised to notice in everyone, not just in the friendly Boot Barn sales attendant called Tyler (who called me Miss Emily), or the taxi driver who drove us everywhere, or even the pilot on our flight who braved a ferocious thunder and lightning storm, all while keeping us safe up in the air. (Not going to lie, I was terrified!) Of all the cities in this big wide world, there’s just something about this one which screams, ‘Welcome!’ It’s right there in people’s smiles, in their hello’s and even in their general mannerisms. Sadly, I can’t say the same about Chicago. That was a city that instilled all kinds of fear in me.

IMG_2583.JPG

Whilst spending time in Nashville, I learned that this sparkling city is the true ‘Hollywood’ of country music, where stars can walk right down the street next to you, or you can bump into them at a local restaurant devouring their favourite dish. This city has so much to offer, with bars, museums, stadiums, and filming locations dotting the famous Broadway boulevard alone.

To end, I’ve always believed that Nashville, for me, is another home from home. I just couldn’t believe my luck that, when I got there, I still felt the same. All throughout my stay, the air was balmy and the food was full of flavour like I’ve never tasted. The smell of the street on Broadway as you’re walking past open doored bars, star studded restaurants and the guzzle of petrol and diesel engines as you’re trying to get to your next music fix, was all incredible. Despite the full-on security of (still friendly) officials checking there wasn’t a gun tucked away in your purse somewhere, I was sorely sad to go home. There was still so much to see.

IMG_2577

A bustling hub of talented songwriters, powerful music and, most of all, endless inspiration, Nashville is an incredible place in this world and – surprise, surprise – I have every intention of going back.

 

Personal

Complications

I’ve realised that, as a writer, I love to explore relationships. Romantic relationships. Whether it’s an old married couple who seem to have lost each other along the way in their relationship, or if it’s a young teenage couple, who have nothing better to do than wander the streets in the dark, alone with the stars and streetlamps for company.

Finding what fits and how things have become broken inside the delicate structure of a romantic relationship that doesn’t stand so rigid anymore is what fascinates me.

Suddenly living without my boyfriend as he’s gone off to university has sharpened my senses to real relationships, to people, and to how almost anything can hold potential for a new romance to blossom. Say I hit someone with my car or the postman accidentally delivers a parcel to the wrong address – this could equal romance if it were a fictional world. I’m trying to use this.

Anything can happen in fiction. But what’s probably more jolting is anything can happen in reality too. I want to stay with my boyfriend for as long as I can – forever, if I want to be that publically unashamed in admitting it – but I realise that if I’m not then things will be okay. Because music is here, and writing is here too.

I keep reminding myself that if things don’t turn out perfectly in life, then to remember what David Tennant’s doctor told Agatha Christie in Doctor Who; that living through pain is what makes her such a good writer. This is probably the only thing that’s acting as my safety blanket if things don’t turn out okay.

Writing about love, in all shapes and sizes, seems to be the only thing that matters right now.

I just love the way it feels.

Music, Personal, Writing

We keep this love in a photograph

I’m not a crazy manic ‘buy-all-the-albums’ fan of Ed Sheeran. I appreciate his music and some of it really does strike a chord with me when I want it to. When his new album ‘X’ came out I wasn’t too fussed and just let the music come to me naturally and accidentally rather than actually seek it out like so many other fans do.

I’m not one of those fans.

But, recently, it’s started to dawn on me that by the end of the summer my long-term boyfriend will have upped and gone away – that is, to university. Like me, he wants to write for a living.

I’m – actually – really proud that he’s going, so he can do what he wants to do instead of staying here for me and resenting me for it years later. I’m no fortune teller but there’s a strong chance that would’ve happened if he’d stayed.

I’ve seen flashes of it appear sometimes and I don’t want to be that person who holds him back while I do all the things we both want to do, like write.

Now, Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Photograph’ really causes all kinds of emotions to flutter precariously around my chest, to hover over my heart and, in turn, make my eyes glaze over whenever I listen to this song. Ed Sheeran’s ability to make you just stop and think – and really listen to the words he’s singing is, to me, incredible. Not many artists can do that lately for me.

I really miss the feeling of being so in-the-moment with a song that it’s special when it happens to me now.

The song ‘Photograph’ is so much about being in love. I find that the musical arrangement along with the lyrical quality is something extremely difficult to define because it’s so good. But, for me, right now, being in love is all I know and all I want to be in, so I feel confident in defining it as perfect.

I think music has the ability to make you become part of another world and, for me, that largely gives me the ability to write and just to feel something when I write. Writing teen fiction deals with a lot of feelings and, almost always, with love. Heartbreak, lust, loss, and all that kind of emotional stuff that nobody wants to deal with after they’re a teenager – because it just hurts too much.

So I’m grateful that ‘Photograph’ can enable me to feel something like that; the way it can help define the idea of love for me. It enables me to really see what’s important and that, whenever I listen to it, I will stop and think and those thoughts will lead me to my long-term boyfriend, because he’s really just so special to me.

 

And if you hurt me
That’s okay baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go
Wait for me to come home

You can fit me
Inside the necklace you got when you were sixteen
Next to your heartbeat where I should be
Keep it deep within your soul

As well as that, I love that by writing teen fiction I get to second-handedly experience these emotions that my characters will go through and I’ll get to grow with them, passing on to them my own experiences and they’ll let me be a part of theirs too.

I think this line in the song really defines teen fiction for me, both as a reader and a writer and I love that I’ve been able to find it:

‘Only words bleed inside these pages’

This song is really special because it enables me to see life in so many different ways, from potentially varying perspectives. I love it and for it to be so rich in meaning and emotions I know I’ll hold it dear to me for a very, very long time.

‘Photograph’ by Ed Sheeran. Go and listen to it.

Cornwall, Fashion

Vintage Fair at Killerton

This weekend I’m going to a Vintage Fair at Killerton in Devon.

I – can’t – wait! If you live anywhere near Devon and have access to transport I highly recommend you go! It looks like it’s going to be fantastic. I am missing a kind of belated house warming party for it (it’s actually my own house warming party but hey I live in a student house – I’m sure my roommates will tell me all the shenanigans I miss!) because as soon as I got told about it I WAS IN. As far as I was concerned, all other plans could be thrown out of the window!

Not only does it feature lots of vintage clothing and – wait for it – fashion shows! but also there will be beauty parlour workshops too where attendees can have their hair and/or makeup done inspired by vintage fashion trends! Of course you have to pay and book in advance for these kinds of treats but if vintage/retro is ‘your thing’ then you owe it to yourself to book in and get a proper professional makeover to show all your friends! There will also be a professional photographer there to take your photograph if you wanted to keep the memories even longer!

There’s so much going on and it’s happening right throughout the entire weekend 21st – 22nd June so you won’t be bored! There’ll be fairground rides, classic cars, workshops, dancing, a Jazz band, a wedding marquee and, even better, there’ll be lots of stalls with over 100 antique/vintage inspired items to choose from, including clothing, accessories, homeware and knickknack things to indulge yourself with. It looks fantastic and the line up makes me feel all kinds of giddy inside.

Seriously, what is not to love about this?

It’s a ticketed event so make sure you get yours here.
For adults tickets in advance cost just £6. For children just £4. If you decide to buy tickets on the day these are slightly more, with adults costing £10.60 and children £5.30.

To visit their Facebook page for more information click here.

I hope to see you there!!

Music

Stay Beautiful

Falling in love with her was different and it’s something I can’t expect to ever get back. I’m contemplating a new love, another young female country star, one that’s slowly set to become the future starlet of country music. But she is different, she is older and she, well, she isn’t her. I fell for my first love – the one – when I was young, ripe, on the brink of becoming a wilting, unsteady thirteen year old. To find love that young and to know that it’s a love that has strengthened over years still, that it continues to fills me with happy tears whenever I think of her (apart from when those tears fester into something that burns) is startling and I don’t think I will ever find it again.

I have to face that she is no longer mine, and she no longer belongs to country music – despite whatever invitations and awards she may get credited for by the CMAs. This is sad, I know, but true.

To contemplate another love, a brighter, shinier, newer love seems almost wrong. I can’t seem to break away from the first. I know it’s what needs to be done and it’s what has to be so. Isn’t that what all first loves are like? To keep going back to it is devilishly unhealthy but I’m rooted so deeply and firm that it’s hard to unravel myself, and spin out into the opening arms of somebody else, somebody that will actually have me.

I’ll always remember her, the way she was, and not the way everybody likes her to be now, with her bright red lipstick and permanently straightened hair; her drawling, repetitive songs that bear no country twang whatsoever, and her persistence on looking sexy now just for appearances, instead of wearing Texas made dresses and lush, amazing cowboy boots. Like she used to.

Perhaps it is time to let go. I know everybody tells me so. Some even roll their eyes over the way I will still disintegrate into splinters whenever she makes an appearance on television – British Television instead of American. This may seem unhealthy but for a long time she was the best thing that had ever been mine. Now, she simply belongs to everyone else.

I know, I’m so full of angst.

I won’t ever let go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cornwall, Fashion, Hobbies, Music

These Boots Are Made For Walkin’

Recently scouring the depths of eBay, I became hooked on searching through pages and pages of cowboy boots. Being an enthusiastic fan of Texas country music, I tend to do this every few months. Usually, I never buy any though, either because the ones available just don’t look right, or are too expensive. I love them, but I will not spend over £25 on cowboy boots online for the chance that they may not even fit me properly. I have tiny baby feet.

So, you can imagine my delight when I found some that:
a) weren’t too expensive
b) actually looked gorgeous!

I am proud to say I bid on them and am now the grateful and lucky owner of these fine, black leathers:

I have a brown pair, not dissimilar yet I’m sad to say these are slowly falling apart. In this dreadful weather, I’ve had to superglue them from falling apart when I came home with my feet soaking wet and little damp patches on my sad little cat socks!

I was happy, with this pair, yet the next day I got an email from eBay saying that I had also won a fabulous pair of PINK cowboy boots – new – and they were awaiting my payment.

Oops … I had gone a little crazy with the bidding on several items. I never thought I would win an item. I never thought I would win those black ones! I proceeded to the link the email had sent me and, well, fell in love with these pink ones too. I said yes to the payment and they arrived a couple days later. Now, they are sat beneath my desk, with all my other pairs of shoes (largely, yes, boots) and looking damn fine.

What beauties!

 

So far, I have acquired five pairs of cowboy boots:

One Vintage, one brown pair from a store in Plymouth that recently became friends with the superglue, two suede (one pink, one brown), and these fine black ones from this post just recently. I am waiting to be united with them soon by the postman. 

I cannot wait!