When my day starts

I wake up around 6 am every day. I am a proud early bird. When I was a child, I ran to my parents’ cozy bed, I tried to stay between my mother and father without waking them up. I just wanted to stay quiet and warm while looking at the dawn through the window.


But I am not a child anymore. Therefore, after having my coffee and spending a few minutes to get ready, I go out for a walk. I love to be close to nature. And early mornings are the perfect time. The fresh air, the smell of the dew, the trees, the gardens, the dawn, the sky, everything is peaceful and beautiful in the morning.

I never repeat the same route twice in a week: through the neighborhood, I never take the same path and when I decide to go to the park, I always take different directions. I just like to boost my creativity, finding new ways to get to my destination: my house. And I always discover something new that I never noticed before. My morning walk is a commitment that I have to myself. It cleans my mind and inspires me through the day, boosts my creativity and improves my mood. But you should be asking, how do you keep going during the winter? Well, because it makes me feel happy and nothing can destroy that, even a long and hard winter. We have to keep everything that makes us feel happy and delete everything that just brings more troubles or concerns.

When I get home, I feel proud to have kept my commitments. I realize that I love my house, the sun coming through the big windows, my comfy couch where I read my favorite books, and take a nap sometimes, my pets running around, my lovely plants, everything seems to be in harmony with me and my family. A new day is starting: it’s time to make breakfast, open the curtains and get the most of my day.


The big challenge of my life



I was living in Lisbon when I decided to leave my country and start a new life in England.
The decision wasn’t easy. I was an online contents writer and I knew that it would be very hard to keep writing in a different country and language. But I didn’t have many options. I had lost my job and Portugal was layered in a deep economic crisis. Although with my sadness to leave my family and friends behind, I knew that leaving the country would be the best for my future.

I had one friend living in London that helped me to make some contacts, first to find a house and next to find a job. In two months everything was organized. I had a temporary job and a room in a shared house.
I didn’t know London, I had never been there before. So, the day that I left Lisbon and arrived in London was a huge step forward in my life. First of all, because it was a new city, with no friends or family. Second, to leave my country was never a possibility for me. I loved, and I still love, to write in Portuguese and I was good at it. So, my heart and my mind weren’t as open as they should be to discover a new world. And now, after almost four years, I can see that it would be much easier if I wasn’t so concerned to speak and write perfectly.

When you move to a new country, every day is a big challenge. Let’s focus on the biggest: the language. The English that the people speak is different to the English that I learned at school. Of course, everyone is different and each country has different methods to teach. In my case, it was very difficult and painful to understand. Some days I went to have a walk around the city, to know the famous streets, monuments, squares, coffee shops, and while I was walking and looking at the people I felt like I will never understand English.
It was very frustrating when I wanted to communicate with other people and my mouth didn’t do what my brain was asking for. I couldn’t make friends or explain myself. This makes me feel sad day after day. As a defense to protect my self-esteem I started to avoid conversations. I started to speak less and less. But this wasn’t a solution and I didn’t feel myself. Also, my job was hard and I felt exhausted every day. Without energy, patience, and happiness to study and practice my English. At that time I couldn’t get English classes because I was still working as a temporary staff. But I needed to do something to keep me emotionally alive. Therefore I decided to study English at home. I found a few good website where I could study and improve my basic English skills. I did this for a few months and was very good and an important step in this adventure of learning a new language. However to learn a new language you have to meet people, speak with them, learn why they speak in the certain way, learn their habits, in the end, learn the culture.
I like to meet new people, make friends and have long chats. And I was missing that.

I decided to do English classes: was the best that I could do. I lost my fear of speaking with people that didn’t speak my native language. I met very nice people, made friends, felt that I could, of course, learn English, speak and communicate very well. The school environment was great, where nobody was better or worse. Every week we had social activities to promote happy and relaxing moments between the students. We went to visit a few places in London and I finally felt that there weren’t boundaries between me and my new city. I just needed to enjoy each day and not be afraid of making mistakes. After that, my mind and my heart were finally open to this new world.

In few weeks, I found my love and my best friend. He doesn’t speak Portuguese, just English. Something that I said that will never happen because I didn’t know how to express my deepest emotions in another language. And speaking and communicating very well was always so important to me. But you can’t make plans for your heart, it’s the captain of your life. After almost four years of living in England, I keep learning new words, expressions, sentences, meanings, every day. And there is always something new to discover, we just need to be confident, happy and enjoy our achievements.

Ana Rita Machado

An adventure in Scotland


The trip began on a cold, grey Friday in London. We left at 1.59pm, a strange British punctuality, from King’s Cross to Waverley station, right in the center of Edinburgh. The whole trip was made under a sky filled with black clouds and an intense fog as we headed further north. The mythical image of Scotland that we were looking for. With a closed fog, the sea next to it and the plateaus that lean on the rocks. Is an easy task to imagine a Viking invasion in the late eighth century. It is indeed a beautiful trip that deserves contemplation and delight. Without thinking of anything else, it will lead to the discovery of a superb landscape.

As soon as we arrived in Edinburgh, and we left the train station behind, we came upon a colossal rock with a castle at its top and a city built on its route, an unforgettable image that promises us a stay full of good surprises.
Already installed and after tea to replenish the energies, (the train journey lasts approximately five hours), we decided to go to the Science Festival in Summerhall. The quality of the work is unquestionable, but it is not what impresses a visitor who just arrived. It is the sympathy, the availability, the simplicity and the interest of the people of Edinburgh to receive visitors. As we knew the space and watched the works we exchanged words, meeting people, talked with artists and so we let ourselves be carried in a lovely chat.

Saturday started early. A good breakfast and a huge desire to surprise us. We start by visiting Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. It was, without a doubt, the best start. Throughout the visit, we will know details of Scotland’s history and Great Britain. The Palace reveals to us a black past, with tragedies, drama, intrigues, and conspiracies. If it were not so it would not be so interesting. At the end of the visit, we decided to rest our legs a bit and tuck our stomachs in the palace’s own tea room. The suggestion, a chamomile tea, and a famous scone. Our next adventure was a challenge to the body and mind.

The goal was to climb the mountains and reach the top of Arthur’s Seat. We started walking in Holyrood Park, right next to the Palace. After twenty minutes of walking the landscape already promised moments of breathtaking. One piece of advice, wear comfortable shoes and clothes, a bottle of water, camera if possible. And let yourself be delighted by the scenery. When we reach the top, after such an arduous 251-meter walk, we are rewarded with a magnificent view. On one side the city and the castle, on the other the sea. Magnificent. Despite the strong wind, we are carried away by the serenity that the landscape transmits to us. We can only feel very grateful for that moment.

As we took some snacks in the small backpack we decided to “picnic” at the top of the mountain. Who knows if King Arthur was not even there with his lunch.

Well, it’s time to go down and visit the city center. First and obligatory stop: the Castle. It is indeed a magnificent construction and symbol of the strength of a people. Let yourself be enchanted by the stories and legends that make this one of the most visited monuments in Scotland.
The castle is behind us and we now have a street with many offers: artistic, cultural, gastronomic, religious, literary and handicraft attractions, in short, is to discover and be ready for everything. Let yourself get lost in the narrow streets, even if they seem closed, do not be ashamed, enter and enjoy, you will certainly delight in what you will discover. If you feel lost do not worry because you are not, the city is small, but ask whom you meet on the street, start a conversation. People in Edinburgh love communicating with visitors. They are talkative, cheerful and generous.

The journey is going long and the legs already show some tiredness. The sun is setting and the night is near. It’s time for dinner and we decided it would be in a typical local, a Scottish pub. In the street of the castle, you will find numerous spaces where you can get to know the local gastronomy. If you want something different you will find restaurants from all over the world, Lebanese, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, French and there are also vegetarians.

An intense sun woke us up on Sunday morning. A beautiful day, a mild temperature. And why not a beach trip? The journey there is by train in about 20 minutes. Arriving in North Berwick we do not need to walk too far to see the sea. We cross the small village and already barefoot we cross the beach. In front, we have a serene sea and a sun that warms us. At lunch time there are not many choices, but there are good choices. Next, to the beach, we find lobster and fish and chips. Everything very fresh and delicious. The dessert could not be other than an ice-cream, sold in the typical ice cream vans that are found all over Great Britain. At the end of the day, we still witnessed a superb sunset, as had not been seen for a long time. And when such a phenomenon happens the best is to let yourself stay and enjoy.
The last day of our visit in Edinburgh started early. We started by packing and for a good breakfast. The train only left at 2 pm, there was still time to visit the National Galleries, that is very close to the train station. As the day was magnificent we decided to stroll through the garden Princes Street Gardens and contemplate a little more the castle, now from a different perspective. Here it is worth to lose ourselves in time and just stay to look at the city around and the castle.

The last image that we get engraved is a city of unforgettable natural landscapes, with centuries of history, built on its monuments, and a happy and generous people who know how to receive visitors.

Ana Rita Machado

Big city


Every day at the same time, 5 pm to be more accurate, Mrs. Marie comes to drink tea at the Harries. Come in, greet everyone and sit, if possible, at the same table. Whoever is on duty that day, they know that for Mrs. Marie it is a chamomile tea with milk and a spoonful of honey. Which will be savored for thirty minutes. Neither more nor less. When the tea is over, she gets up and says goodbye. “Tomorrow I do not know if I’ll come back, but the tea was very good.”

Today is already past 5 pm and she has not appeared, yet. At Harries, no one has noticed. The coffee shop has been busy all day. There are tables to clean and customers still waiting to be served. I ask James by Mrs. Marie. (I read the name on the plaque that he brings on his chest). “Who? What?” Mrs. Marie, I reply. “I do not know you are you talking about”, tell me James, disinterested in my insistence.

Cities grow and people lose meaning. Today it was Mrs. Marie who lost the meaning of her life and decided to leave.

Mrs. Marie was found dead three days later when two volunteers from the animal association, of which she was a member for thirty years, came to her house to collect the annual fee.

Ana Rita Machado