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As I said before, my trip to Nigeria was one to reconnect with family. As I’m originally from Nigeria, this post won’t completely be from a tourists’ perspective but I will try my best to give clear instructions about navigating your way around if you do decide to visit. My family resides in Abuja which is the city where I was born and raised. With my last visit being circa six years ago, I decided it was to go back to the motherland. We thought Easter would be a great time to visit as most people would be on holidays which would also give us the chance to travel to our country home in Anambra State.

The Journey

With Abuja airport being closed down for renovations we had to fly through Lagos which was a first for me. If you’re like me who likes things to work as they should, then my advice to you would be to avoid going through Lagos. The system at the airport is designed to extort money from you. The whole experience reminded me a lot of some of the reasons why I left Nigeria. There were so many unnecessary checks and stops with each person asking at every chance “anything for me?” Another term for “do you have some money for me?” It is very disgusting how people paid to do a job get to behave in such an unprofessional manner. I made a point of it not to give them a penny. If you do, you’ll end up broke even before your holidays begin. The unnecessary checks means your flights will always be delayed and not to mention how poor the state of the airport is. Thank goodness we only spent a night there. The following day we flew to the East to head to my village in Anambra State. There we spent Easter with extended family members and captured static and motion pictures for my blog and vlog. We really enjoyed our time here as we were surrounded by nature and great food. If you’re looking to explore Nigeria as a foreigner, I’d advise you have a trusted Nigerian indigene to accompany on your travels as it’ll make navigating your way a lot easier. We visited Nkwo market, the Church and took long walks. We felt very much at home here.

Transportation

Sticking with one driver to take you around is always a good idea. Taxis seem to be the main mode of transportation in cities like Lagos and Abuja. Lagos has Uber which means you can download the app and get exploring. We were lucky to have my kid brother assume the role of our chauffeur in the city. You have the option to take public transportation like buses or shared mini yellow cabs. My brother told me about the existence of a train line which operates from Abuja to Kaduna where we initially planned on going to spend some time at Kajuru Castle but couldn’t make it in the end. We hope to hop on this train during our next visit.

Things To Do

Abuja was our next stop. A place where we would spend a lot of our time. Having arrived after a road trip lasting at least eight hours, we were in the company of immediate family. And for the first few days we were stuck at home babysitting my sister’s kids who were a handful to say the least. To avoid not exploring the city, we had to come up with a way of incorporating the kids into our movements. We took them swimming at Transcorp Hilton Hotel which has a lovely atmosphere. You’ll find a lot of tourists here and most likely pay at least five times the amount if you so decide to purchase anything. If you’re on a budget like myself then you’ll be better of eating and drinking before visiting the poolside or bringing some light snacks and drinks along with you. At night time you can enjoy good food, live music and drinks at the hotel bar. Just beware of how unprofessional the artists are as they’ll approach you for some money, lol. Another spot to hang out at night is Beer Ban where you can play pool as well as eat and drink. Something worth noting is that smoking is permitted indoors in Nigeria so you’ll be inhaling a lot of secondhand smoke while in bar type spots. Abuja is full beautiful of streets with big mansions but I wanted to capture the essence of it’s roots which is why my images showcase more of the culture. My brother took us to Life Camp where we found a Fulani settlement with beautiful hut houses. We also visited the Arts and Crafts Village where I purchased a lovely straw hat for the equivalent of £2. It is the best place to buy hand made cultural pieces. Be sure to always bargain as the prices aren’t set in stone. We also visited the Zoo. Although, I must say, the scenery was more exciting than the animals we encountered.

Food

We enjoyed a lot of good food. Lucky for us we had a Suya joint right next to our family home. Suya is basically roasted spicy meat accompanied with rich organic vegetables. Craig thought this to be the best meal ever. I also got him to try one of my personal favourite, Sharwama. It is a popular Lebanese delicacy made in Abuja. It’s a crunchy wrap made with well spiced meat, vegetables and mayonnaise sauce. The best place to get tasty Sharwama is Chicken Capitol. There are so many restaurants offering Nigerian delicacies which you come across while going about. If you prefer continental meals, then places like Chicken Republic might have you covered.

My Experience

All in all, going to Nigeria was a great experience for me. I got a chance to reconnect with family and show Craig my roots. I used to have a love hate relationship with the country but challenged myself to revisit the things I once used to hate to see where I stand. I’m happy to say I’ve made peace with it all. Find out more about my journey in my Nigerian vlog.

April 29, 2017
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I’m shedding my skin in Alor London. Yes, that’s right. Every year just after winter I tend to shed the dry skin that was brought about by the cold weather and it usually takes a couple of months to lose them all. This time this isn’t the case. Seeing as I’m in Nigeria at the moment, the tropic weather has been nothing but good to my skin. It’s been extra warm and humid. I’m currently in my hometown where my parents were born known as Alor aka Alor London (although I couldn’t tell you how this name came about) located in Anambra state. I thought it’ll be nice to show Craig my roots and what better to do it than to take him back to where it all began. We’re surrounded by a lot of nature. Standing outside our bedroom balcony we’re blessed with the view of beautiful orange trees and a big ole ditch. Being surrounded by nature means I have very limited access to the internet. I’m having to share my brother’s mobile phone data which he turns into a hot spot which in turn slows it down. So getting this blog post up might be quite the challenge but I’m very determined to stick to my schedule.

After taking in the view, I knew I had to start capturing the beauty of it all. I got dressed a vey summer appropriate Parisian Bardot top together with my mom jeans and loaned my brother’s straw hat which was gifted to him by a guest at least ten years ago. Our balcony was the starting point. It somehow reminds me of Italy even though I’ve never been. Something about the white pillars and the orange trees made me feel so at peace. When we were done, I asked my brother to drive us around so we could take in more of this wonderful place. We stumbled upon a gate with overflowing branches and I knew I had to take some shots there. The funny thing was that as I child we used to visit once a year for Christmas and I mostly dreaded it cause I thought it was dull and remote. Having grown up and taking up photography, I was longing to visit again cause I now know what I thought was dull and remote was in fact peaceful and bliss. I’m looking to enjoy the remaining days we have left here before we head to the city where I was born and raised, Abuja. Until next time, wishing you all a happy Easter!🍃☀️🍃Alor London 🍃☀️🍃

April 16, 2017
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Netflix and chill is a phrase you’ve probably heard of especially as folks take turns on twitter using it as innuendos to describe a moment in a relationship. A lot of times Netflix and chill isn’t done in the company of others. I find myself doing this (not very often) when I’ve got a day off work. Thinking about work is the very last thing on my mind. On days like these, a distraction from the norm seems more appropriate. I usually wake up around the same time I always do, instead of getting out of bed, I reach for my phone. Going through emails and notifications, I somehow find myself caught in work again. So I change my strategy. I ring family and friends and catch up with those I manage to get a hold of. You’ll find that when you’re free to engage with others, they’re not always free to do the same. Enjoying time in your company will be something you’ll have to learn to love.

Finding the word for the day using my Bible app and meditating on it sets the tone for the rest of my day. Getting out of bed in my pjs (a t-shirt and tights), I walk straight into the kitchen cause I’m starving at this point. I have a light breakfast (toast and a cuppa with some yoghurt) and then go through the Netflix app to find something that will keep me very distracted and perhaps inspired for the rest of the day. Once I find a show, I begin the process of making myself a nice filling lunch. My go to meal is a roast dinner. I pop the chicken in the oven and then look around for some light snacks and drinks to engage my mouth  while watching my newly discovered show. On this occasion, some snack a jacks and strawberries were perfect for the mood. And if there’s wine around (which there rarely is), half a glass will do just fine. The show this time was “The Crown”. I found myself engrossed in it as I tried to understand how duty to family and country can sometimes conflict but the crown always wins. Tough concept to deal with, one I hope I never find myself in. How do you Netflix and chill?

April 8, 2017
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Revolución de Cuba Manchester is where we found ourselves this lovely Saturday afternoon while on the look out for where to eat just before our usual scheduled shoots. We’ve gone past it quite a few times and have even made use of their outdoor sitting for a photoshoot on two occasions as it looked dreamy. We can’t seem to answer the question as to why we never stepped in for a meal prior to today. Revolución de Cuba as you can tell by the name, is a Cuban restaurant located in the heart of Manchester City Centre. The first thing that is obvious about this restaurant is the lovely decoration which can be seen both indoors and outdoors. The outdoor sitting consists of benches surrounded by plants. As soon as you step indoors, you begin to see items that almost reminds you of Cuba if you’ve been or the Cuba you’ve seen in the TV show Narcos if you’re like me.

When we arrived we were given options as to where to sit and we opted to sit in front of the band who were nowhere to be seen at the time. Playing it safe, I went for the Caribbean Chicken Curry which came with a side of rice while Craig had some tasty Enchiladas (some of which I ended up nicking) accompanied with a side of rice and beans. I had fresh pineapple juice to drink with no ice (so I can get my money’s worth, lol) and Craig had some coca cola with ice. The restaurant was packed with people, food, drinks and Cuban music emanating from the speakers. It didn’t take long for the band to get on stage to perform live. I was tucking into my food and enjoying the music until the theme tune for Narcos came up. I quickly put down my cutlery, grabbed my phone and began to record it. Everything in that moment made me think of going back home after the meal to re-watch NarcosWe had an amazing time and the whole experience cost us circa £25. It is a spot I’ll definitely recommend you go to at least once. I’m pretty sure they’ll be seeing me soon, again. Revolution De CubaRevolution De Cuba Manchester

April 1, 2017
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If you’ve ever been conscious in this lifetime then you must have caught yourself dreaming of something that quite isn’t. For the most part, many tend to dismiss their dreams which is normal especially if you’re dreaming about events or things you can’t build a connection with. After all, our dreams do come from us – our subconscious mind. The key with knowing what dreams to go after is in their reoccurrence. Is the underlying message the same? This is the question to ask.

Anywhere but here

Take for example, a young girl who always dreams about seeing the world. That’s all she talks about. It’s not that she is unhappy with where she currently is, it’s just that she sees even more happiness when she gets the sense of accomplishing her dreams of seeing the world.

Attach meaning to your dreams 

Give life to your dreams by attaching a meaning that holds true to you. One that’ll make you get out of bed to pursue it and at the same time act as a reminder as to why you need to stay on track when you’re in doubt.

How to go after your dreams without losing momentumBelieve in your dreams, they are yours

“Find out what it is you want from life and go after it as if your life depends on it, because it does.” Don’t rely on others to stir you towards your dreams neither should you expect them to support you. This might sound harsh but it is not anyone’s duty to make your dreams come true. Again, these dreams are yours so own it. And try not to take it personal when others don’t see the end goal. What matters is that you do.

Take the first steps – “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” 

Sometimes knowing where to begin can be a bit of a conundrum. You don’t need to have all the answers. All you need to do is take the first step to do something (no matter how small) that’ll get you closer to your dreams. Act, remains the operative verb.

Be patient “Rome wasn’t built in a day”

Dreams take time to come to pass. It can sometimes take weeks or months and in some cases many years to be realised. Remember, as long as you carry on dreaming and the underlying message remains the same, don’t give up. Go back to the meaning of what it holds for you and carry on.

Make your dreams come true

Don’t compare yourself to others – “Comparison is the thief of joy”

It is very easy to fall into the habit of looking at what others are doing and making unfair comparisons. Yes, unfair. Everyone has a different story. You might be doing the same thing but your stories will never be exactly the same. This is the quickest way to lose site of your dreams and diminish your accomplishment thus far. Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!

Learn from others – “Nothing is new under the sun”

If someone else has already achieved what it is you dream of, follow in their footsteps. Success leaves clues. If you pay enough attention you’ll avoid their mistakes and in some cases find a quicker path to achieving your dreams.

Be aware of the process – “The journey, not the destination”

It is very easy to remain fixated on the end goal and not enjoy the process of getting there. It is there you’ll build relationships and find out a great deal about yourself. The journey is full of surprises and lessons to be learnt. Don’t dismiss it.

dream bigDream some more

The thing about dreams is that all the emotions that you experience once they’re achieved are almost short lived. You begin to ask yourself, what next? Well, if you’re a dreamer, you’ll already know the answer to that.

Illustration by the talented Christella BijouSee more of her work on her blog, Instagram and twitter feed.
March 25, 2017
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We’re on number thirteen!!! This week has been epic thanks to the Manchester bloggers hangout. But first things first. I got to go to London for the launch of Own The Look which is a one stop site where you can shop a complete look, hence the name.  The train journey was long and I was all by myself which would have made for a dull trip except that it was a really warm day. Arriving at the penthouse apartment where the event was taking place, I was flawed with how breathtaking the view and everything was. There were loads of bloggers and it sometimes felt overwhelming as I wasn’t used to the London crowd. Anyone who really knows me knows that I’m a bit (I mean VERY) awkward in social settings. I did try a few times to engage other bloggers but they all seemed to know each other and wouldn’t really reciprocate the gesture which made things even more awkward. Thankfully I had my closest friend with me, my camera, lol. So I began taking pictures and shooting videos and after a while I looked like I was part of the camera crew. The whole experience made me miss Manchester a lot and I couldn’t wait to hit the road back even though I did enjoy a pamper session with loads of good food and drinks.

There was much to look forward to as my girl Samio had arranged for a mini Manchester bloggers hangout. It was myself, Samio from www.samio.co.uk, Loreal from www.lorealblackett.com, Rosie from www.thoughtsonthat.com and Lauren from www.fashionpanic.co.uk. We had a wonderful time chatting over breakfast and sharing stories and blogging tips. Each time I find myself in the company of similar bloggers, I always feel at home. We all get each other’s obsession with wanting to get the shot and it’s just beautiful to see how we try to support one another through encouragement and sharing ideas and knowledge that help us grow. I always feel better for it after these meet ups and we think it’ll become a regular thing. It is something I’ll encourage other bloggers to do as you’ll get a lot from it. I later found out that Samio was also in London at the time I attended the Own The Look event and a call to her would have meant we both would have had a blast at the event. The truth of the matter is I meant to ring her on the morning of the event to ask if she was attending but got caught up with work and forgot. Let’s just say I’ll definitely be checking in next time.

March 20, 2017
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Chill time is one of my favourite pastime. I wish life could always be easy breezy but adulting means that is never the case. Responsibilities and more responsibilities seems to be the way of life. But when I get a chance to break from it all, either by choice or forced by certain occurrences, I find I can breath easy. And you know what? Nothing breaks too. It becomes quite obvious that perception plays a role in the way we see life. Go go go is all I see most times. But in the rare quiet moments, it is there I find my peace. The clear space to be free of all my responsibilities and sometimes dream of greatness with the latter being somewhat counterintuitive as Ben Parker put it; with great power comes great responsibility. It might seem there is no escaping life as I know it. However, I am making a point of it to be more deliberate about finding time to stop and breath. I usually tend to do this on a daily basis just before heading to bed. Somedays it works, and on days when I’m knackered, let’s just say you’ll find me passed out. And on the weekends, I try to make coffee time chill time.

I start off by wandering round the city looking to find a quiet coffee spot which usually drives Craig crazy cause I’m quite picky about the lighting situation. Finding one in the winter has been fairly easy especially in the mornings when most folks are trying to have a lie in. Sometimes it’s packed inside and outdoors seems to be the best spot especially for photography but not so great when it gets really cold. On this occasion, we were prepared. Armed with layers and other accessories to help keep warm, we spotted an outdoor coffee shop good enough for chill time. The look was rock chic; dressed in grey knit, skinny jeans and my matching studded boots and hat. Chill time, my time.

March 18, 2017
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