It’s not for nothing that one of Gran Canaria’s most famous beaches is called ‘The Englishman’s Beach’. (I’m talking Playa del Inglés here). The south of GC — as I have been starting to call it for short — is crowded with English and English-speaking people. However, the area is largely touristic, so the amount of English spoken by the Canarians themselves is very much limited to the accompanying vocabulary. Now try renting a house, or getting an internet connection, or mailing a postal package. Try living a normal life is what I’m getting at. Then the situation gets rather different. Countless times, I’ve found myself at a loss for words in conversations with un-poquito-de-Inglés Canarians. I mean, our cleaning lady speaks better English than my landlord does. And that shouldn’t be taken as a compliment on our cleaning lady’s behalf.

As it happens, I was probably the first in line when God handed out the study-, discipline-, and willingness-to-take-on-large-projects talents, and not far behind when it was time for language skills. So naturally, I was going to be learning Spanish in no time. Actually, now that I was thinking about it, how ridiculous is it that the boyfriend doesn’t even speak Spanish! (He lived in Alicante for two years.) I mean come on, he should be fluent in Spanish by now. Right? RIGHT?

Turns out, I was last in line when God handed out the studying-when-you’re-in-vacation-mode skills. As well as in the studying-before-knitting line. It’s been more than three months since I moved to GC and my Spanish still doesn’t go beyond the commonly used hóla (hello), the rather meaningless question qué tal? (wazzup?) and answer muy bien (very good), and the occasional dos cervezas por favor (two beers please). When I’m feeling really dare-devilly I may even claim that si, hablo un poco de español (yes, I speak a little Spanish). To then continue with the cervezas part to show the truth of that.

I’ve set up a ‘learning Spanish plan’, I’ve collected lists of Spanish words to learn by heart, downloaded Provoc to help me memorize them, bought Intertaal’s ‘Spaanse Grammatica. Kort en Bondig’. In short, there’s no lack of preparation. And there’s no shortage of willingness either. It’s just that I’ll probably have to admit to myself that I’m not thát disciplined when there are no deadlines. And that all I have to do, in fact, is get a real-life teacher.

I hope he speaks English though.

learning spanish

Me in vacation-mode in our backyard // Salobre Golf

Any liquids? Electronic devices? Chargers? It’s just another day at Eindhoven airport and I’m waiting in line for the airport security before boarding the Ryanair flight that is going to take me back home. I just had a cappuccino with my dad at the recently re-opened panoramic terrace, which is totally worth arriving too early for since La Place opened its doors there. I like being early anyways. It helps me to stay sane during the next few hours, when I’ll have to deal with (or rather withstand from dealing with) a combination of certain people in certain situations. And by certain people I mean Dutch people, and by certain situations I mean the security, the boarding, the arrival, and the luggage belt.

Before you get the wrong impression let me put this first:

I love flying. I’ve been flying since I was old enough to bring along my stuffed animal and best friend Kwakwak (aha yes) and let him enjoy the wonders of the above-clouds-level world. I’ve always dreamed of being able to fly, which cannot be a coincidence considering I am named after a bird. I fell in love with the first (and of course best, as would turn out later) commercial pilot whose life path happened to cross mine. And after following him and his career to Gran Canaria, I’ve become a proper frequent flyer commuting back and forth between my new home and my old one.

So here I stand, fueled with caffeine, waiting to pass through security,

which people stubbornly keep calling customs. (Like, you’re flying to where? Rome? Prague? Barcelona? You really think you need customs for that?) It sucks, I know, I’ve been there a million times. You need to get your liquids out. You need to get your electronic devices out. And your chargers. You may even need to show that they actually work. You have to take off your jacket, your belt, your jewelry and watch. Sometimes even your shoes. It’s a warzone, that’s what it is. If I have to go by the whining people around me. I heard Schiphol Airport is going to introduce some kind of scanner that makes this all go run much smoother, but up until then, let us all just, please, let these people do their jobs.

If everyone would just make sure they got their shit together. Like for example, you have your liquids ready in the right fucking plastic zipper bag. And yes, that includes mascaras and nail polishes, because they run right? BECAUSE THEY’RE LIQUIDS. You also finished your bottle of water. Or for Christ sake don’t bring one and just buy one straight after. You have your electronic devices somewhere on top in your suitcase. And you take them out of their cover. Because that’s what you do. And finally, you don’t wear too many accessories. If everyone will just be cooperating instead of complaining about situations that aren’t a big deal if you’re correctly prepared, the whole thing will be over before you know it. You’ll see.

After waiting a dazzilion years in line

behind unprepared and complaining people, I get through in what, two seconds (?), and make my way past duty free to get myself some food. Eindhoven’s duty free is disappointingly small. But instead of the, you’d say, five steps it should take one to cross it, it takes me five minutes. Five everlasting minutes of being unable to pass by people who, by the looks of it, packed their entire household into cramped cabin bagage trolleys. It’s about time I’m getting myself a follow-up coffee.

To be continued.

airport security

KLM Boeing 737 at Athens – Eleftherios Venizelos – International Airport

It’s been over six months since I wrote my last post, which was a goodbye one. Or actually, it was a notification of my move to another blog. Another blog that isn’t updated as regularly as I intended to either, but that’s another story for another time. Today’s story is about this blog, that I kept online all this time, knowing that one day I’d know what to do with it. And that day is today — hooray. :D

Once this was my fashion-, fitness, and travel journal, and once I wanted it to become something professional. That didn’t happen and that’s okay, because in reality, I didn’t have enough time for it anyway. Today, everything has changed, and I’m giving it another go — that is: on that other blog that’s another story for another time. However, these recent changes in my life, my newly found spare time, and the pursuit of taking yet another blog to the next level have made me realize something else: that I really miss writing for the sake of writing.

So that’s what I plan to do here. I’ve always been blogging, or journaling, or both, and putting down on paper my daily thoughts has always been incredibly fun, relaxing, and fulfilling in some way. These benefits were the primary reason for starting this blog once, but somewhere along the way, in my quest to become a professional blogger, I lost them. Now there’s nothing wrong with trying to become a professional blogger — I just missed the spontaneous blogposts about random things in life.

So I kept merely-merel.nl, knowing that I’d get back to it. So welcome again. My name is Merel, I’m 26 years old and I’m from The Netherlands. With my boyfriend Luuk and kittycats Blow and Pablo I recently moved to Gran Canaria (one of the Spanish islands, in case you don’t know). My boyfriend has a job here — which is the reason why we moved (plus: sun) — and he supports us all. However, I’ll have to start anew, from scratch.

My adventures as a newbee in Gran Canaria will be the main topic of this blog from now on. Even though this will be read mostly by family and friends, I hope you who don’t know me personally will grow into liking it as well. No pressure there of course — as I said, I’m not planning on going professional. ;)

living in Gran Canaria

PS. Please excuse the mess around here. I still have to update the menu, logo, sidebar, and all that!

Chain Twenty

I’m so sorry for the lack of updates over here, but those of you following along on Instagram might already know that behind the scenes, I’ve been working hard to follow my dreams! And now it’s finally here, so let me introduce you to *tatataaammm* www.chaintwenty.com — my new blog + (soon to be) webshop!

The idea of opening a webshop to sell my hand knitted / crocheted pieces has been on my mind quite some time, and it took my even more time to figure out exactly how I wanted it to look like. I’ve decided to complement it with an inspirational blog, where I’m not only talking yarn, stitches, and patterns, but certainly also business and fashion. Because handmade knitwear should be fashionable and wearable, and it will surely follow my love for the minimalistic and comfortable.

For now, you’ll find me blogging on chaintwenty.com, and behind the scenes I’ll be working on a FW16/17 knitear collection (for a peek, check out my new Instagram @chaintwenty). I’m not quite sure when the shop will open, but please follow along via Bloglovin or Instagram, or sign up for my newsletter. For merely-merel.nl, I’ll find a new purpose I’m sure — in the meantime my Insta page @merelymerel is already turning into something more personal and colorful, I hope you guys like it.

Thanks so much for all of your support & I hope to see you again over at Chain Twenty!

festival fringe

It’s a shame, actually, but I haven’t been to any festival yet (and I even can’t remember the last one I went to last year, if any?). Most of the time, I’m worrying about the weather, or I think the tickets are too expensive, or I have to work, or or or… excuses. Truth is, I’m too much of a homester to feel like going out — if ‘homester’ is an actual word as Google Translate says?

However, I do love festival fashion! But since it doesn’t really fit my style to walk around in floral maxi dresses, wearing a colorful headband, cowboy boots and feathers in my hair, I’ll have to find another way. I found this fringed (yay-grey!) tanktop on sale at H&M and paired it with the lace up sandals I bought at work the second after they arrived. Combined with my good old black skinnies and a comfy oversized denim jacket and I’m definitely staying in my comfort zone while still feeling those festival vibes!

Now where is the good weather, a big wallet and a few days off? I might take out a vintage pair of Levi’s and a flower crown instead.

merely Merel

festival style

lace up sandals

festival

festival outfit

H&M top | H&M jeans | Manfield sandals | Bershka jacket | Casio watch

Photos by the always fashionable Lauren.

behind the scenes

Oh guys, I’m so excited! I’ve got nothing concrete to show you, but I’m just here to tell you that behind the scenes, I’ve finally decided to officially open a handmade knitwear webshop! In the previous Monday Moodboard I wrote about my Summer holiday plans, which included work on my knitwear shop, but as soon as Summer holidays started, I just couldn’t help myself anymore: If I do it, I wanna do it right.

So I started doing some research about how to set up an online business (because everything starts with proper research amiright!?) and came to the conclusion that writing a business plan is the best thing to do first. So I sat my ass down, made me some coffee (ahh, the other way around of course), and started writing. What do I wanna do? What will my bizz look like? What is my target audience? Etc. Etc.

Gosh, that was illuminating! I’m not done with my business plan yet, but to lift a tip of the veil: There’s gonna be a new brand name, a new website, which will include both a blog and a shop, and a hella lot of new directions to go in. But the overall aim is to simply bring the granny-associated crafts of knitting and crocheting closer to our modern world of fashion. I’ve made a planning to make things more concrete and the first deadline is set on the end of July — by then, I must have decided upon a brand name and start creating a new website. It’s totally nerve wracking, but so much fun at the same time!

Hope you’ll stay with me through all of the transitions to come <3. Meanwhile, you’ll find my shop here (more items added soon, hopefully)!

Find these photos on my Pinterest| Loopy Mango knitting heaven | @aaron_jamess__ bedroom goals | @fashionedchicstyling ripped jeans | Couldn’t find any more photo credits, so please let me know if you do.

city map posters

A typical case of an impulse buy I will probably never regret — these city map posters by Anne H Copenhagen. I was looking for a birthday present for the boyfriend (back in January, yep… #sorrynotsorry) when I stumbled upon Anne’s Instagram. And before you think I’m the most horrible person ever to buy her boyfriend a present that is actually more fun for herself than for him (I’m guilty of that too though), you must know the boyfriend himself asked for something in memory of the amazing years that he had lived in Portugal and Spain.

The only thing he and I could think of was something with photos, but I always find that risky, because with the pace in which we tend to take new photos nowadays, I quickly loose interest in older ones when I see them hanging on the wall everyday. That’s why, for my photo canvases (check ‘em out here and here), I chose landscapes over more detailed photos or portraits.

So when I saw Anne’s I can make (almost) any city in the world in the bio of her Instagram page, I knew my problem was solved. How cool would it be to have city maps of the far-from-welknown cities of Évora, Portugal, and Santa Pola, Spain, hanging on our wall? City maps might not be the most original wall art ever, but these cities would make it unique and personal.

I ordered them both, along with a poster of Utrecht — since we’re at it now anyway (;-)), and after some e-mails back and forth about the size of Évora (Spanish city areas are weird) and the visibility of its airport (which was most important, since my boyfriend is a pilot), I received the posters within a few days. Coupled with some basic white wooden frames, the whole thing hasn’t been cheap, but the quality of the printing (and the paper) is amazing, so they’re gonna last us a lifetime! <3

And when we’ll move again, I’ll definitely add a fourth =).

city map posters

city map posters

city map posters

Anne H Copenhagen

Anne H Copenhagen

Ps. This is my way of showing you bits and pieces of my interior. I know I’ve promised a hometour a dozen of times, but after more than five years, our home still isn’t Pinterest worthy haha! To all of you still living with their parents and dreaming about their own places: don’t get carried away too far, ‘cause you’ll probably never feel like your home is done or perfect, especially with a small budget. That being said: decorating is still so much fun!

Ps2. Yes, I vacuum cleaned the couch for the purpose of these photos. Imagine it being covered with white kitty hairs all day every day #thestruggleisreal

comfy clothes

Comfy clothes, comfier clothes, comfiest clothes. On the scale of comfyness, this oversized top skyrockets. By now you might have noticed I’m not a heels-kinda-girl and no matter how hard I try to be feminine and sexy and dressed-up and pretty and girly all the time, as soon as I walk into the Zara and spot a top like this one, all my sexy-girlfriend-resolutions are instantly forgotten. I must admit I kinda felt bad when I left the store and went home with my new comfy treasure in a dark blue paper bag, but that feeling of guilt disappeared alarmingly fast and I haven’t taken this top off ever since — as a figure of speech.

And who’s to blame really, ‘cause its quite appealing print — which you’ll see clearly when you scroll down — perfectly fits my current schedule. My non-existing schedule that is! Of course I still need to work and write a thesis and blabla, but other than that, university courses and deadlines are now officially o v e r, so hell yeah, let’s take a siesta! The boyfriend and I celebrated this joyous fact with beach strolls and -BBQs, which fitted my plans for Summer perfectly.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have an unnerving amount of ideas about how to spend my time the next couple of weeks. So stay tuned and make sure to follow my Instagram, ‘cause it’s gonna be exciting!

PS. Talking of spending time: I’ve opened a Tictail shop where you can shop my closet! There will be even more items added soon, so keep your eyes peeled. And in case you don’t have a Paypal account, you can of course always shoot me an e-mail if you’re interested in something!

beach days

merely Merel

take a siesta Zara

comfy clothes

take a siesta Zara

beach days

comfy clothes

Zara top | H&M jeans | Adidas Superstars | Weekday bomber (a.k.a. beach towel) | H&M sunnies

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Summer holidays

Every year, around this time, I find myself in that state of mind where you cannot really comprehend the fact that Summer holidays are around the corner, and where you cannot imagine what life will be like having NO DEADLINES whatsoever, and where you certainly cannot imagine yourself longing for studying in September again. Well, that time of the year is here, because coming Wednesday, I’ll be having my last exam EVER. *Insert hands-up emoji*

Here are five things I definitely wanna be doing between coming Thursday and September 1st:

  • GO TO THE BEACH. The boyfriend and I are not going to travel, but making regular beach visits here in The Netherlands should make up for that a little. I always tend to forget how amazing a simple afternoon beach stroll + food and cocktails afterwards (at the local beach club of course) can be.
  • INVEST IN BEAUTY. Can you believe I’ve never been to a beautician before? Well that’s a top priority this Summer. Plus new nails, a proper hair cut and who knows what else.
  • WORK ON MY KNITWEAR SHOP. I’m always telling the boyfriend that I’d love to knit and crochet all day every day, and now I can finally do so. I hope to design some nice blankets and pillow covers to be put on sale when the cold days return.
  • BOOST MERELY MEREL. Feeling like I’m getting on the right track with my blog, all I need to do now is invest time to post more and do some research into SEO, web design, and photography.
  • SELL STUFF. I’ve been selling a lot of clothes and other stuff lately and I can’t even begin to tell you how much that clears my head. I wanna get rid of everything unnecessary and surround myself with things I really love only.

Hope you’ll be having some time off soon too, and don’t hesitate to tell me your Summer plans!

Photo credits (the ones that I could find) | @airdaisy_ desk | Jenny Martinsson lillies | Amy knitted blanky | Mija Flatau champagne | Find them all & more on my Pinterest

merely Merel

Fired by the desire to adhere to the a less is more kinda lifestyle, I’m continuously trying to create a coherent, minimalistic wardrobe that consists of a limited amount of clothes that can be easily combined with each other. In my case, however, this often results in me buying neutral colors and basic pieces only, which leads to plain and boring outfits. Not exactly the minimalistic Scandinavian effortless chic normcore look I was going for.

So at times, it’s important to look for those simple pieces that will still fit many of your clothes, but have something that is different, that stands out, and that gives your outfit just that little extra. I knew I found such a piece when I saw this gorgeous top with flared sleeves on Silvia. It was featured in my wishlist (see sidebar >>) for a couple of weeks before I decided to click it home, but I’m so happy I did!

The top can be called neutral in many ways: it has a discrete, blue-white stripe that is barely noticeable, and a simple v-neck. The sleeves however, don’t get me started on the sleeves haha! They add such a feminine touch to this outfit that I immediately decided to order myself a black top with flared sleeves as well.

Just as Silvia, I figured this top didn’t need much more than a jeans (and some beige suede dress shoes that score high on multifuctionality). The only drawback I can think of is that the sleeves don’t really fit into your regular coat (this is something Silvia struggled with too, I believe). Lucky for me, I’m quite a coat addict, so I dug up my most oversized one and the sleeves didn’t get too crinkly.

At the moment, I’m still in the middle of putting together a Summer wardrobe (too late for that, yes I know), so I’d be happy to know how you manage to keep your outfits interesting!

flared sleeves

fringed coat

beige suede shoes

flared sleeves

flared sleeves

Zara top | H&M jeans (similar) | Manfield shoes | H&M coat (kind of similar)

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