Tea & textbooks ›

Guess who’s back guys! After a long sabbatical and two more kidney infections, I’ve decided that my kidneys and I need to be closer to home. I’ve transferred to Glendon College, which is part of York University, a tiny, beautiful bilingual campus tucked in amongst the trees.

I’m also applying to be an eAmbassador at the uni. If you guys could comment on, like or share my posts on the new blog it would mean the world to me- I really want this job, and I miss writing to you all dearly. 

Peace and love,


The Mothership came to Cardiff to look after me. There’s no kitchen in the b&b so she brought me this.


Due to unsavoury creepers on this blog, I will be putting a password on it tomorrow. If you want the password, feel free to ask off anon.

Fun times, happy memories!

Accepting defeat

This is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve had to learn at university.

I’ve always thought that the offspring of strong women- particularly strong single mothers- inherit a certain determination to never be defeated. We, I think, learn from an early age that there is no option but to get on with it, to survive and thrive at all costs. So when I started noticing a small twinge of pain in my side back in August, I paid no attention. Blessed as I am with a fairly high pain threshold and a stubbornness that often gets the best of me, I soldiered on. At university, I might have been spotted clutching my side in the lecture hall, but I was still making notes. By Christmas, I was convinced that what I needed was more vegetables and several naps. My weight loss, I insisted, was due to my mostly vegetarian diet. My exhaustion was normal. This is student life, right?

It was normal that I started missing lectures because it hurt too much to get out of bed. I should have cut down on socialising a long time ago- I was just being a good student. I was completely, totally fine. These were the lies I told myself.

When Mel came to the UK, I knew that nothing was going to ruin his trip if I had any say in the matter. For the entire week, we had a grand old time- and it was the happiest I have been all year.

During a visit to Borough Market we were given a sample of tea with spoiled milk. For the rest of the evening we both felt fairly queasy. By the following morning, Mel was fine but I felt violently unwell. With every ounce of will, I contained my overwhelming, hand-trembling desire to crawl back into bed. We were off to Essex to visit his cousin that day. There was no way I could leave Mel to navigate the tube alone- it felt like abandonment. So after a quiet moment in a cafe, slowly sipping an orange and ginger juice, we journeyed on. By the time we had reached Paddington, the hot, sick, swirling in my stomach, the stabbing pain in my right side, the clammy shivering feeling of “something is wrong, something is wrong” got too much for me, and I returned to the hotel. I do not remember the walk from the tube station to the hotel but I do remember stumbling into the lift, praying that I would make it to the room. I remember collapsing into the bed with its clean white sheets, and I remember that as soon as I pulled the blankets over my shoulders, my entire body began to shake. The violence of my body turning against me was terrifying: the entire bed was shaking with my convulsions. I have never been so bitterly cold, and yet my skin was hot to the touch. With every movement I heard myself yelp and whimper in pain, an alien sound to my feverish mind. I somehow managed to crawl across the room to vomit into the wastepaper bin. At some point, I remember dragging myself to the sink for water, but most of it spilled from the glass with my shaking hands. I do not know how long I lay there before Mel came back. I remember vaguely worrying that I might die, that he would return and be disgusted by me. Instead he returned terrified, carrying me to the bathroom to wash my face, tucking me into bed, begging me to let him take me to hospital. But still I insisted it must just be from the tea sample, that I would be fine by the morning, that he should sleep before his flight the following afternoon.

After a fitful night’s sleep, I lay there as Mel packed up our bags the next morning, weakly arguing that I did not need to see a doctor, that I would go back to Cardiff on the train (just to set the scene, I was at this point unable to sit up or roll over from the pain I was in). Five minutes before we were due to check out, Mel looked me in the eye and asked me how I was going to carry my bag. At this point, after seven months of gritting my teeth and smiling, I burst into tears- the heaving sobs that weak your entire body, and relented. An hour later, if been admitted to a&e. I was still insisting that Mel could catch his flight.

Within a few hours, I had been diagnosed with pylonephritis: a severe kidney infection. Since last summer it had slowly been spreading across my body, and by the time I got to hospital, I was supremely lucky to have not developed septicaemia or kidney failure. I was kept in hospital for four days.

Perhaps naively, I thought that I was home free. Three weeks later, I am infection free, but still in considerable pain. It takes very little to exhaust me. I am still learning to admit weakness, and writing this post has been incredibly difficult. There is still a part of me that insists that I am fine, but I’m not. It makes me angry- me, who is so passive to most things, angry because I want nothing more than to live a normal, healthy, fuss-free life at university. Asking for an additional extension for my coursework brought me to tears. I am not ashamed to be honest. The year and a half of writing this blog has taught me that my honesty resonates with others more than my attempts at humour or edge.

So being totally honest, these last few weeks have been incredibly hard. Being unwell at university is a very surreal experience: there is no Mum, no Grandma, no Boyfriend (anymore, at least). Every cup of tea, every shaky handed attempt at chopping/cooking, laundry and cleaning is still your responsibility. There is nobody there to look after you. This of course is my choosing: had I stayed in Canada, my huge array of loved ones would have been there. This is not an embittered entry: I am so grateful that I was so cared for in the hospital, for Mel, who would not leave my side, for Christine who came across London to spend a few hours making me laugh. But I wish I had learned this sooner: when it comes to health, when you think you can keep going, the hardest and best thing to do is just… Stop.

Toronto’s first cat cafe is in the works. Jennifer Morozowich and her business partner are behind the idea of Smitten Kittens. The cafe is exactly what it sounds like. Hang out with some felines in a cafe setting. […] Morozowich’s idea is in the early stages of planning as she eyes venue options in the Koreatown neighbourhood around Bloor and Christie streets.

I have, for many weeks now, been trying and failing to draft a blog post about how to approach university. There are so many things that I wish I had known, so many things that I regret not doing. University is not how it looks on a Facebook newsfeed. 

Joshua Bennett is a total stranger, but he somehow always finds me when I need to hear something important. His poetry, along with many of his fellow Strivers, has altered my path, uplifted and empathised with me. This speech is worth listening to for any student. He says the things I never could.

harmagedon-deactivated20140904 asked: Oh my goodness Mel is absolutely adorable.

"Go to the UK, they said. You’ll like it, they said"

Mel came to the UK for the first time in his life a few weeks ago. He came to this country on a British passport. Like a true Brit, he seemed fairly underwhelmed.

theraddestwolvesintown asked: Hello

Hi friendship

The British Canadian and the Canadian Brit reunited.

On the moment after the Goodbyes

I walked the long way back to my flat just now. It’s an unusually beautiful day: suspiciously so. Not a cloud in the sky and only the faintest hint of a chill. Such glorious weather for such a boring place. I take careful steps. My gait is hindered by the heavy medication I’m to take seven times daily and the beginnings of tears in my eyes. I do not want to open the door to a room that smells of Mel’s cologne. I do not want to see the imprint of his head on my pillow or the empty space where his suitcase has been. My toothbrush somehow looks lonely on the shelf, now. There’s not enough shoes in the doorway.

 His train left Cardiff two minutes ago. As soon as the car pulled away, taking him the furthest he’s been from me in days, I regretted not going to the station to see him off.

This is the thing people don’t know: distance doesn’t stop being hard when you’re together. A gap doesn’t stop existing when it’s been bridged. The emptiness is there, waiting. You are suspended above it, but it is there still. 

We have a three year sentence- four if I do a Masters. Being together is simply a reminder of all our absences. Having Mel here was beautiful- but it reminded me of everything we miss out on when we’re apart. The things “normal” couples might take for granted, like doing laundry together, bickering over what to have for dinner or who gets to shower first. Holding hands. These tiny, insignificant moments are like gold dust to me. I’ve found myself more than once staring at him, surprised that he is no longer confined to the screen of my laptop. 

I’m incredibly grateful for this website for the perspective it gives me. So many long distance bloggers wait so much longer than we do between visits. I’ll be back in Toronto in a month for Easter- hardly any time at all, and yet still a difficult separation. 

Mel had never been to the UK before, and arrived in the country on a British passport. Watching him experience places that were integral to my pre-Canada life has been fascinating. Much the way he may have felt watching me get to know Toronto, it helped me to see Bath, Bristol and London through a newcomer’s eyes. I forget what a privilege it had been to grow up in such a beautiful city, a place steeped in history and legend. 

Loneliness and bed rest will give me some more time to write. My 4pm dose of antibiotics is beginning to make me sleepy, so I’ll sign off here. Send my love good vibes for safe travel. I’ll be back soon with stories of Pyelonephritis and Pervy Nurses.

Anonymous asked: where have you been? miss reading your posts!

Hello! I’ve been meaning to post but a combination of deadlines, visits from Mel and a stint in hospital have been a bit of a distraction. I’m on very heavy antibiotics for the next while so writing anything decent is beyond me, but I’ll be back soon- at the very least, I’ll post some photos of the last few weeks and all their adventures. I miss writing my posts just as much as you miss reading them! (Probably more, let’s be honest) Thanks so much for the message xx

How to survive the classes you regret taking

Passion is catching. Ask anyone, and they’ll be able to tell you about someone who inspired them- that one teacher that they always looked up to, the one who ignited in them a burning desire to learn. These teachers are the ones who help to shape our futures in education and beyond… but there are also teachers who can extinguish that flame. There are some who could take the most awful class and make it amazing- and those who could turn anything into an hour of boredom.

I’ve been blessed with many inspiring teachers in my academic career: Ms Woodhouse, Mr Maxwell, Mr Powell, Mrs Martin, Mr Nelson- these rare spirits that brought so much wonder to my life. The hours spent in their classrooms have altered my course. At 11, the words you have a remarkable talent for poetry scribbled in cramped red letters in my exercise book influenced the dozens of notebooks I’ve filled since. The voice of my English Language teacher still echo in the back of my mind “You’re extremely capable, Jas, and I’m going to push you to try something new, because you could have a future in this subject”. My favourite teacher is in fact a Cardiff Uni alumni, and her enthusiasm sealed my decision to apply here. Now that I’m well into Spring semester, I’m seeing that that is still the case, and your experience of a module can be hugely influenced by the lecturer.  My Sociolinguistics module is not only fascinating, it’s taught with passion and excitement. How can you not enjoy something conveyed with such joy? It definitely beats other (nameless) classes I’ve yawned my way through or avoided entirely.

Today I realised how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded people. Interests and excitements become amplified, bouncing between those who share them, pooling your experience into something bigger. It makes me grateful to have found people with similar interests at uni, and makes me regret not joining any societies. Looking back, it would have been a great way of meeting new people, but what’s not done is not done I guess. It’s so easy to become complacent or unmotivated, and to drag others down with you. It’s important to enjoy yourself- and not just outside of the classroom. It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that the only way to do well at uni is to unlock that old passion for the subject. Maybe Renaissance literature is my definition of mundane, maybe 9am seminars are painful to my heart- but finding that excitement in simply being here that seemed to wear off not long after Freshers will help me get through it and stay awake for the classes I’ve fallen in love with… that, or a double shot coffee from The College House.

Only really relevant to Mel’s interests