Madeira, Shoreditch and London
1. Madeira: black basalt beaches, joyful & magical memories of a tight-knit community, on this beautiful, vibrant colourful Portuguese island
I was born to Portuguese parents, who hail from the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira, surrounded by black basalt beaches, flower parades and awash with vibrant and fresh colour. When I was younger and still lived with my Dad, we would visit my Portuguese family and marvel at how cohesive and tight knit the community was. When someone died, they would band together and wipe away each other's tears and yet when someone got a promotion at work they would throw a festival for the whole village to enjoy.
I remember aged 10, staying with my Portuguese Aunt who took me to my first carnival and I was dressed up as Esmerelda from the Hunchback of Notre Dame and it was magical. Cheers rang through the streets and parade floats were emblazoned in colour and joy.
Yet it would be three more years before I would be able to return to Madeira, after being taken into care not long after my stay in Madeira, aged 10. With complications with my identity and status in the UK, despite being born here, we had to file for an EU card before I could be officially made a British Citizen, aged 16, and was able to be granted a 'British Passport'.
From the ages of 16-18 I went back to Madeira to see my family, and the last time was in my first year of university, where shortly after my Grandma on my Dad's side passed away, and I have not been back since. At first it was because I was too hurt by my Grandma's passing but later it was due to personal circumstances and besides I dreamed of travelling the world.
But nevertheless, Madeira still holds a special place in my heart, after all how could it not, it is part of my heritage. I remember summers swimming in the deep blue ocean, where the real world seemed to fade into oblivion. The fish would gently swim past me and we all merged as one. There would be walks through levadas and cave treks that would take us into magical worlds beyond our imagination. Most of all we were not tourists, but welcomed as part of the community and it was a heart-warming feeling to behold.
Discover more of Madeira through Ana's eyes, in her wonderful, informative article:
2. Shoreditch: inspirational, life-affirming street art, in an incredible, bustling, openly liberal place
When I moved to London a year ago, I dreamed of living in Shoreditch next to my beloved street art that makes up my photographic aesthetic on both my blog and social media channels like Instagram and Twitter. But how on earth did I discover the hidden world of street art?
When I first started blogging two years ago, I was ill, depressed and anxious, often burdened with demons of my past. But blogging helped me through my pain and forced me to confront personal and mental health issues that I had refused to deal with for a very long time.
I say this not to incite pity but to raise awareness and when I found street art, about two months into my blogging journey I had fallen in love. Laced with political meaning, poignant yet offering a paradoxical ironic outlook into life, I found colour and it washed away the darkness that was threatening to overcome me. I felt alive and I felt determined and while street art is not the only factor to change my state of mind, it did show me what blogging path I should take.
A year into my blogging journey I changed my aesthetic on Instagram to be street art-with me posing in front of murals- and colour coded rows to create a feed that could inject colour and positivity into other people's lives.
At the same time, I spoke about real life issues like mental health, abuse and more through a colourful narrative story that could encourage others to speak out and confront their own demons head on.
My blog too is very much influenced by Shoreditch, with a predominant street art aesthetic, although since I also review restaurants I do use non-street art orientated shoots on the blog.
It is not just street art or the open liberalism of Shoreditch that inspires me, but I also love the bustling, cosmopolitan atmosphere of Shoreditch that makes it so different to any other place that I have encountered.
From the nearby Brick Lane, home to Indian and Vegetarian restaurants, as well as secret street art spots, including Allen Gardens, right through to glorified soft play areas for adults – Ballie and Ballerson - and bars where you have to enter through household appliances like fridges and grills, Shoreditch is incredible.
Dig deeper into the buzz in Shoreditch with Ana, complete with the Hollabox app, which sounds cool, follow part of Ana's artistic journey, and discover her wonderful two part street art tour
3. London: a beautiful, multicultural community, filled with fascinating contrasts – the city that has encouraged me to take control of my destiny
When I moved to London a year ago it was like I had entered a new world; on one hand you have the office drones who are connected to their briefcases and sit glazed on the tube on the commute after work. But then on the other hand, there is diversity and multiculturalism.
People from all walks of life have made London their home and it is a beautiful community to be part of. Despite the threat of Brexit and the awful tragedies that have happened in the year that I have been here, its beauty and charm still remains.
Where else but London can you have pizza in an adult Ball Pit, where else but London can you walk down one street, emblazoned with artistic posters and murals and find yourself in the ruins of a Medieval castle the next? When I moved here a year ago, I had to move three times- 8 times in the last 4 years- until I found my forever home in East London, but now I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else.
We have had ups and downs and there have been days where I have questioned my decision to move to London. But London has helped me have the courage to quit jobs that made me unhappy, London has made me take control of my destiny and most of all London has showed me a future that I never thought would be possible and I am truly grateful.