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Meeting Holly and Pauline

If you want a post that looks 1000x fancier than mine, is funnier than mine and includes a photo of a cat’s bum, then you should definitely read Pauline’s post about the day! GO ON. DO IT!

Or, if you want a really emotional and beautiful post, go visit Holly’s blog. It’s so positive and lovely and I was smiling so much throughout!

Pauline and Holly!
Two of the nicest bloggers anyone could ever meet.

When I started blogging, around ten years ago, I kept my real life and my Internet life very separate. I never posted photos of my face online, only used my first name and wouldn’t let bloggers add me on MSN when they asked (yeah, I’m that old). It was a mixture of not wanting people from my real life to see my funky Internet posts about skateboarding snails, and being too uncomfortable with my real-life self to let strangers on the Internet see me. If you read my Relationship with my Nose post last year, you’ll know that I’ve not always been the most confident with how I look (still not), and blogging was a way to make friends without having to show my face. I’m also very socially anxious, and talking to people through the Internet is way easier than having a face-to-face conversation with someone new.

So, fifteen-year-old me would be very surprised to hear that on Saturday I went to Manchester to meet the lovely Holly and Pauline in real life. And it was amazing!

Obviously, we had to go for food first, so we decided to meet outside The Pasta Factory. I was the first to arrive, so I made the most of the time by taking some photos of the outside of the restaurant.

The outside of The Pasta Factory
The outside of The Pasta Factory

Because I was so early, I had some time to panic about what might happen during the day. I started imagining various scenarios where I’d say something ridiculous or do something ridiculous, and I also had time to remember my sister’s message about how dangerous it is to meet “people from the Internet”. I’ll be honest, there was a moment during those fifteen minutes where I thought ‘shit, what if they’re not who they say they are? What if they’re actually Derek and Phil, two forty-year old blokes who like taking young women out for pasta?’ But, thankfully, none of these things happened, and PAULINE AND HOLLY ARE REAL!

Yes, they’re really real, guys! It was so strange seeing them both in real life for the first time. It was as though they’d both walked straight out of my laptop screen and into the real world. I couldn’t believe they were actually there! When we were in the restaurant I got a notification from Pauline’s Instagram and I was just like ‘OMG, Pauline is sitting next to me right now!’ It was so weird!

I was initially very nervous, so if I was a bit weird at the start, girls, please forgive me. The nerves disappeared as the day went on though, and it was like talking to people I’d known for years. Who says online friends aren’t real friends?

At The Pasta Factory, I ordered the ravioli di funghi in salsa al tartufo, which was amazing, even though I couldn’t say the name! Here’s a picture of it in all its glory!

A plate/bowl of ravioli di funghi in salsa al tartufo
Someday I will be able to order Italian food in Italian. But yesterday was not that day.

Confession: I had to ask Andy what the weird black and white thing on the top was, because I was way too embarrassed to admit to Pauline and Holly that I’ve never had something so weird and fancy on top of my food. I didn’t eat it obviously, just in case it was like one of those rubbery flowers they put on Chinese starters. I think it was black truffle garnish, but Andy was just as clueless as I was.

While we ate, we talked about Pauline’s Gymshark addiction and Holly’s new house. It was so nice to chat IRL instead of through a screen, and I can now read Holly and Pauline’s blogs in the accents they were meant to be read in.

Once we’d finished eating, we got the waiter to take a photo of us inside the restaurant. He actually took about ten to guarantee we got a good one. He must have known we were bloggers!

Here’s one where I’m not even trying to look in the direction of the camera…

Holly, Pauline and me at The Pasta Factory in Manchester
Holly and Pauline looking fantastic, while I eye-up someone else’s pasta.

Down the road from The Pasta Factory, we found this:

Me, putting my face in a wooden dress (one of those where you put your head in the hole so you look like someone/thing else)
What am I even doing?!

We all had a go posing behind it. Pauline couldn’t see over the board, so her photo ended up being absolutely hilarious! As you can see, I stupidly put my hands round the side of the board, so it doesn’t even look realistic. What was I thinking?

Holly behind the board
Holly’s turn!
Pauline behind the board
Think this dress might be a bit big for her…

After lunch, we went to Gino’s Gelato for ice cream. There were so many flavours to choose from, but I eventually decided on Kinder Bueno and Pistachio, which were hilariously plonked into the tub, so loads of ice cream dripped over my hand.

My pistachio and Kinder Bueno gelato
This was amazing.

See what I mean?

The ice cream parlour was so beautiful inside though, and I could have honestly spent all day in there. Just look at the lighting!

The ceiling at Gino's - so many different coloured light bulbs!
So many light bulbs!
Inside Gino's Gelato
Inside Gino’s Gelato…

We spent a bit of time looking round a few shops in Manchester. Holly took us to this really amazing bookshop where her brother works, which was filled with books about feminism, positivity and creativity, along with some really cute pins and decorative items. It was such a cute shop and I’ll definitely go again next time I visit Manchester. She also took us to Oklahoma, which sells some of the funkiest homeware I’ve ever seen. I’ve never wanted a set of lobster fairy lights so much in my entire life! They also sold some lovely flower headbands and crowns, which we had to try on!

A photo of me, wearing a flower crown.
I couldn’t stop laughing at my new, stylish head-wear.
Pauline and me, wearing all the flowers!
Selfie time!
Pauline, me and Holly, wearing flower crowns and headbands.
Don’t we look fabulous?

Because we were tired from all the walking, we went to Piccadilly Gardens to sit down and chat. Somehow, we ended up sitting in what I can only assume is the drug dealer’s corner of Piccadilly Gardens. 100% would recommend if you enjoy watching suspicious-looking individuals walking round in circles and shaking hands for longer than necessary.

This didn’t bother us too much though, and we spent the rest of the day sitting in the sun chatting about high school, holidays and hackathons. I also got to listen to Holly and Pauline chat about being female web developers and it was honestly so inspiring. They’re both so talented and they’ve made me want to start learning to code again! So much so that I actually spent Saturday night re-learning the basics!

Also, while we were at Piccadilly Gardens, a pigeon decided to snuggle against my bag, causing me to jump out of my skin. I’ve never seen pigeons so brave!

A cute, but scruffy pigeon.
The rare bag-cuddling pigeon.

We ended the day by having our photo taken in front of the fountain. I have since realised that sunlight makes me pull really weird faces, so if you want a reasonable photo of me, don’t take me into the sun!

Pauline, me and Holly, in front of the fountains at Piccadilly Gardens
I turn into a dorky gremlin when the sun comes out. Beware.

It was such a fantastic day and I’m so happy that it happened! Holly’s just as lovely as she is on her blog and Pauline’s energy is amazing. They’re genuinely two of the nicest girls I’ve ever met and they’ve really made me appreciate this amazing blogging community we’re in. You guys are the best!

Also, thank you to everyone who voted for Italian food on Pauline’s Twitter poll. Italian food is my absolute favourite and I was so happy that I got to spend fifteen minutes stuffing my face with ravioli. Though next time could you vote specifically for risotto please, because I can’t bear to watch Pauline’s heart get broken by a waiter ever again. Where was the risotto?

P.S. Thanks so much to Pauline for sorting out the photos of us!

17 thoughts on “Meeting Holly and Pauline

  1. Derek and Phil. 😂

    I had such a lovely day last Saturday. You are such an amazing person, Amy! And so funny too. This post had me in stitches, especially the part about the drug dealer’s corner!!

    We will definitely have to do it again!

  2. Oh it looks and sounds like you all had a lovely day – I’m glad you were able to get past your anxieties and enjoy yourself. Pasta and ice-cream and good conversations with friends are the things life is made of 🙂

  3. That’s awesome you guys got to meet. It looks like a spectacular day! I wish we had a pasta place like that here where I live because I love pasta. Also, I’m absolutely in love with the lighting in that ice cream parlor. I always daydream about how if I ever had my own business, it would be decorated super awesome with neon lights and such.

  4. Wow! I totally feel you. I don’t post any of my photos online. But I don’t feel the need to keep my online and offline life separate. I am just not comfortable in letting people know how I look like and I don’t think I will ever be able to meet you guys in real life since I am not located anywhere near you guys. (I’m in Singapore, by the way).

    Great that you guys have met in real life!

  5. Pingback: a blog by Pauline

    It was so lovely to finally meet you and Holly. I can confirm that you’re absolutely hilarious (you made me laugh a lot and gave me an ab workout I cannot ever replicate) Thank you to both you and Holly for making me feel really comfortable to be myself. 😊I felt like by the end of it, we were just long term friends who were just catching up on life! Thank you for being amazing!

    Looking forward to meeting you again – I’ll let you know when I’m in Leeds/Bradford again!

  7. Looks like you guys all had a blast 🙂 I’m glad you were all able to meet up. I never did a great job separating my online and offline life, haha! I’d been meeting up with online friends for years, and it’s always a joy to see them in person. I am glad you were able to meet Pauline and Holly. I can tell you three had a blast together!

  8. This makes me want to keep blogging. I just started and already read about this on empfire, so I had to come see the other two blogs. It sounds amazing and like you guys had a blast! I am not too fond of pasta, but I would try a /little/ bit lol.

  9. Looks like a great time! It is always awesome meeting up with online friends after knowing them online only for such a long time. I have only meet two people and hope to meet more in the future. BTW, you guys look lovely! ♥

  10. It’s so cool that you got to meet Holly and Pauline in person at the same time! Hurray for blogger meetups :). We’re getting to the point where we’re old enough to meet up and verify that a blogger isn’t a creeper or anything XD. I’m usually more afraid of people bailing last minute than someone being a 40+-year-old catfish.

    Glad to hear you all having some good convos and food! Learning how to code is a good investment. You’re making yourself more valuable and I find it a great way to get your brain moving in the puzzle-solving direction! Hope you all will have regular meetups ;).

  11. I love that you guys met up, and you all look so happy in the photos! I was totally the same way when I was younger. I was always told to be careful online and not to meet people in person, but now that’s really not the case anymore. When you know someone online for a long time, you really do feel like close friends once you meet up!

    hahaha, I laughed at the Derek and Phil thing. I’m a bit more trusting of bloggers because it’d be really weird if someone faked their life for years like that! I also think the photos with the board are cute and funny. I’m so short; I’d be like Pauline!

    It looks like you guys had a fun day together and with good food! I love seeing the photos of you all together!

  12. I am sooo happy that you’ve got to meet woth the girls. I would love to meet all of you guys and have a little chat (probably you talking in English accent and me trying to keep up with what you’re saying and trying to pronounce English words – that would be funny).

    I hope that you guys will meet again. People can be friends online before meeting in real life. Our blogs reveals who we are and we feel like we already know each other.

    I am going to Pauline’s and Holly’s to read what they wrote.

    Take care <3

  13. What if they’re actually Derek and Phil, two forty-year old blokes who like taking young women out for pasta?’ – LMFAOOOOO. These exact things run through my mind whenever I arrange to meet up with an online friend. It can be so nerve wracking!

    Ah, I loved this post and I’m glad you guys finally got to meet! Us next 😀

  14. This post was so fun to read!!! I mean I saw all your photos when you all met but this was just like I was living the fun haha.

    It’s OK that you weren’t familiar with the fancy pasta topping. I think we all go through some moments where we just haven’t had a certain experience before and it’s just a little embarrassing to ask about it. I mean… I’m from a family that wasn’t very culturally adventurous apart from eating Asian food. So I hadn’t had a three course meal until a couple years ago 😬 And some fancy restaurants just do things a little differently to your usual restaurant so they present their dishes with interesting garnishes haha.

    omg I’m even shorter than Pauline so you would not even see my face behind that board 😭 HAHA

    In the past I have also worried if I’m meeting some creepy-ass Derek and Phils. But I think in our little blogging circle we can all be really sure of each other, because our lives are documented on the internet in such great detail that would be a little too hard to fake. And in this day and age we are also heavily digital, and even people in the professional world will meet each other online at first.

    I’ve also worried that I am too weird or that I don’t meet someone’s expectations when I meet them in real life after knowing them online. But I do my best to be myself. I tend to take over the conversation and talk too much… so if we ever meet in person I am sorry 😆😆😆😆

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