Anna Hartley

A blog about travel, books and navigating your twenties in one piece

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Saturday, 17 November 2018

My Favourite Podcasts Part iii

I've been pretty much obsessed with podcasts for nearly four years now. They're just the best - whenever I'm walking somewhere, on the bus or train or rarely plane and don't fancy reading, trying to get to sleep and can't, they engage my brain and are so educational and fun to listen to. Podcasts have blown up in a big way, especially among my generation, so this is by no means a new thing for me to be sharing today. But a couple of years ago I shared ten of my favourite podcasts in two posts: one and two. And in the time since then I've discovered many more and have lots of new favourites that you just *have* to listen to.

So today I thought I'd carry on from that list two years ago and share part three of my favourite podcasts. Please let me know if you listen to and love these podcasts as well and pass on any of your own recommendations - I don't know how I keep up with them all nowadays but I'll always make room for a new, great podcast!

11 // Nobody Panic - This podcast is hosted by the wonderful comedians Stevie Martin and Tessa Coates and is described as a "guidebook to being a fully functioning adult without screaming all the time. Each week, Stevie and Tessa tackle life's big, small, fun and sometimes scary questions with the help of experts and special guests because we're all in this together, guys. So nobody panic". As I've mentioned many times recently, adulthood is pretty terrifying and this podcast makes me so happy because not only does it offer practical advice for facing adulthood from topics such as how to start a business, how to make a choice and even how to sleep well, but Stevie and Tessa give that advice in the most funny, down-to-earth way.

12 // Ways to Change the World with Krishnan Guru-Murthy - Ways to Change the World is a Channel 4 podcast with journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy in which he interviews a range of people on their views on the world, how they think it should be changed and how they think that change can be achieved. Some clips from guests Guru-Murphy has interviewed have gone viral such as the episode with Jameela Jamil and Richard Curtis so you've probably heard of it but I can tell you first-hand that it's really great. Every episode is so interesting and insightful and he's interviewed such interesting people from Lily Cole to Jess Phillips to Reni Eddo-Lodge and more. Definitely download an episode if you haven't already!

13 // The Guilty Feminist - If you haven't listened to The Guilty Feminist podcast you absolutely need to. It's hosted by comedian Deborah Frances-White who is absolutely amazing and each episode is recorded live with special guests discussing different topics and how we should approach them as feminists. The show's premise is based on feminism in the twenty-first century and how we can achieve feminist goals despite the things that undermine them. What I love about it is that it highlights that none of us are perfect (the 'I'm a feminist, but...' segment at the start of every episode is absolute genius) but that that doesn't make us any less good feminists and in and amongst the absolutely top-notch stand-up comedy are really accessible and informative discussions on how we can make this world a better place.

14 // The High Low - Now this is a bold statement, but The High Low has to be my favourite podcast of all time. I am completely and utterly obsessed with journalists Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes who host it and each week talk about the latest news and pop culture, from the high to the low brow of events and issues. I'm truly in awe of the time and dedication Alderton and Sykes must dedicate every week to researching the topics they discuss so that they can have a conversation which is always so informed and undertaken with such care. If you couldn't tell I can't speak highly enough of it, their weekly recommendations for what to read, listen to, and watch and even Dolly recommending the Sainsbury's app of all things recently ensure that I'm clued up on all the best and most important things out there at the moment (or at least highly entertained) and listening to the episodes is an absolute highlight of my week.

15 // Jules and Sarah the Podcast - This is a very recent discovery for me but one that I have quickly come to love dearly. I've got such a backlog of episodes to catch up on but Jules and Sarah the Podcast is a podcast in which best friends Jules Von Hep and Sarah Powell meet and for half an hour have essentially the most random but hilarious and heart-warming discussions - from how their mothers are doing, to sharing quirky news articles from the north of the country to playing would you rather. I can't describe how funny I find Jules and Sarah and it's just like listening to two best friends have a catch-up every week which may not sound like the most entertaining thing, but I promise you it is. These half an hour podcasts are sound bites of pure delight and I've said it before but I'll say it again, I really would love Jules and Sarah to be my best friends.

16 // Table Manners with Jessie Ware - This podcast is a pure delight. Singer Jessie Ware and her wonderful mum Lennie have a guest round for dinner and they discuss all kinds of things but mainly focus on food. They've had so many great guests on, particular highlights for me being Sadiq Khan, Ed Sheeran, Dolly Alderton and Sandi Toksvig, and it's just such a joy to listen to such a lovely mother and daughter have such great conversations with really interesting people. It's definitely worth a listen.

17. Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel - This podcast is another recent discovery of mine which I absolutely adore. It's an insight into couples' therapy sessions as each episode is a recording of a one-off session for a couple with psychotherapist Esther Perel. All couples are kept anonymous which allows the episodes to remain true to the couple's feelings and experiences and it's just phenomenal. If, like me, you're super interested in other people and relationships (read: nosey) then you will love this. Not only does it teach you so much about love and relationships in this time but about communication and the very basics of human interaction. I am obsessed.

So there you have part iii of my favourite podcasts. There are so many I'm loving at the moment that I'm going to share part iv really soon too! I hope you're all having a wonderful start to your weekend.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

The Truth About Graduate Life

Today I want to talk about graduate life. That crazy time when (if you went to university) you're thrust out into the big wide world for the first time with no road map in front of you. This post has been sitting in my drafts for about a month now. And then I saw the lovely Holly's post about her experience of grad life so far and it encouraged me to polish this one off and send it out into the world.

As Holly points out in her wonderful post, we don't really talk about grad life, or at least not very honestly. I think for most of us we're the first generation where the majority of us go to university, and then come out and have a huge array of different options we can take. My Mum grew up in Communist Romania and the other day was telling me how, after being one of the very few actually allowed to go to university, she graduated and was told she could either be a teacher or a translator and that was it. Even the place where she would work was assigned to her. Bleak, right?

Because of that, I think the fact that it's now pretty widely accepted for grads to have gap years, to do further study and take other routes rather than going straight into work has led us all to think that we have it great and that graduating opens up such an exciting period of our lives. And it definitely does, especially in contrast to generations before us who didn't have as much choice. But it's also pretty damn terrifying and overwhelming at times and I think it's so important to talk about that.

Before I do, I want to write a disclaimer that I am fully aware what a privileged position I'm in to have all of these options in front of me and to have an undergraduate degree from a great university. Life has dealt me a wonderful hand so far and I am so grateful for that and don't for a second mean to suggest with this post that graduates like myself have it tougher than many people in this country who are suffering today and don't have many options at all. I'm also aware that not all graduates are in my position either and this is an account of my experience only. With that said I would like to open up a dialogue about the fact that it is at times overwhelming to have come out of full-time education which I've been in since I was four-years-old and to be attempting to navigate my life.

It's so hard to know what's 'right' and I think we have an obsession with taking the right path and doing the right thing when actually at this age I'm not so sure there is a right path or one right thing to do immediately after graduating. Heck I was so unsure about the right path for me that I nearly did a masters this year. It's so unbelievably confusing trying to consider what to do. And I just want to take a moment to say that that's ok, if for no one else than for myself.

I'm so unbelievably excited to go travelling in a month (!!) and have what I'm sure is going to be such an adventure unlike anything I've done in my life so far. But I'd be lying if I said that I haven't spent the past few months also questioning whether taking this year out is a huge mistake, looking at friends around me who already have amazing jobs with great security and wondering if I should have gone for that too or if by taking this year out I'm making myself unemployable. And that's even though taking time to travel is something I've wanted to for years and something which I know many employers actually admire nowadays and, even if they didn't, touch wood I've got my whole life to work but this is a once-in-a-life time thing. Yet I can't count the number of times that I've cried to my Mum because I'm scared of what the future holds and there are so many things I might like to do but I'm not sure exactly what I want to do and even if I can decide what I want to do, the jobs market feels so hard to get into these days that I sometimes worry I might never get a job. And, as you can see from that very long sentence documenting my train of thought alone, it's very easy to spiral, be completely panicked and wonder what the hell I'm doing.

But, having spoken extensively to my very best friends, all of whom are doing completely different things this year, I've realised that no matter what you're doing, everyone feels exactly the same way. My friends who have those amazing jobs and that security I can only dream of right now have told me of thoughts that 'this is it' for the rest of their lives, and worries that they'll now never be able to take time out to travel like I am. I have other friends who have started masters, realised they've got years ahead of them before they'll have finished study to do the jobs they want to do and feel behind everyone because of that. Whatever we're doing as new graduates, this is the first time we're really in the driving seat of our lives and that's damn scary. Amazing too, absolutely. But uncertain and terrifying in this world where so much is changing and unknown at the moment. Lord knows what Brexit will do to the jobs market, there's just no predicting the future right now. And that's a lot of anxiety to put on my generation's shoulders. So no wonder this period of our lives is scary and hard and difficult at the same time as being exciting, energising and freeing.

If you're a recent graduate who can relate to these feelings of uncertainty, I hope this helps you to know that you're not alone. However you're feeling about facing graduate life, it's ok. It's ok to be unsure and sad at the same time as being excited and over the moon to finally be in control of your own life. We're only in our early twenties, and with the help of wonderful people around us, we will figure it out I know it.

So the truth is graduate life isn't all sunshine and rainbows. But that's ok. It's a really turbulent time and it's real life, we've just all got to hang on in there.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The 52 Lists Project // Week 45

It's another Wednesday, and another 52 lists project from me! I'm writing this tucked up in bed where I've been for the past four days after I had my wisdom teeth out on Friday. Let me tell you, it's not fun and games having four teeth taken out under full anaesthetic. I've been so exhausted and my mouth's been really sore so I've been feeling a bit sorry for myself and taking it very easy. But I'm slowly getting better and better so hopefully in a few days I'll be back to my normal self.

Anyway this week's list has been a very welcome distraction from all of that! Now that it's actually November I think that it's perhaps acceptable to think about this list which reads: "List the things that make up your ideal holiday season."

Now this year for the first time I'm spending Christmas abroad, at my sister's in New Zealand so it's not going to be the traditional Christmas season I'm used to at all. But I couldn't be more excited for it and these are the things that usually make up my ideal holiday season...

  • Christmas film watching - I'm sorry but it's not Christmas if you don't watch Elf, Love Actually, The Holiday, Bridget Jones' Diary, and all the other classic Christmas films which never fail to put me in the festive mood.
  • Visiting Christmas markets and drinking mulled wine - I absolutely love mulled wine and having a warm cup of it when it's cold outside and looking around Christmas markets is my idea of festive heaven.
  • Time spent with loved ones - Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without spending some real quality time with my family on both the big day itself and in the lead-up to it. 
  • Secret Santa with my best friends - I think I'm going to have to miss it this year because I'll be away sadly but for the last I don't know how many years my best friends and I have done Secret Santa and had an evening where we all give each other our presents and it's always the most lovely and fun night.
  • Lots and lots of mince pies - Again, it wouldn't be Christmas for me without mince pies a-plenty. I'm going to have to get my money's worth in early this year because I'm not sure they're a thing in New Zealand and I don't want to miss out on one of my favourite winter treats!
  • Decorating the Christmas tree - There's nothing better than the smell of a Christmas tree and spending an evening decorating it with my Mum. 

I could have spent an age carrying on with different Christmas traditions but I thought I'd leave it there today. Writing that has completely got me in the festive spirit and as soon as I'm well enough to eat proper solid food again you can bet that mince pies are going to be the first things I'm after! What things make up your ideal festive period?

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The 52 Lists Project // Week 44

Happy Wednesday everyone. I've got an operation to have all four of my wisdom teeth out on Friday which I'm having a full anaesthetic for so I'm a bit nervous for that but otherwise my week is going pretty well and I hope yours is too!

This week's prompt is: "List the words that warm your spirit."  and, since I'm such a quote-hoarder, this was a very easy list for me because all it involved is me looking through my favourite quotes note on my phone and picking the ones that I think warm my spirit the most! So here they are...

  • "We read to know that we are not alone." - C.S. Lewis
  • "Have patience with all things, but, first of all, with yourself." - St Francis de Sales
  • "As I look back on my life, I realise that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better." - Steve Maraboli
  • "The way you love yourself is the way you teach other people to love you." - Sophia Bush
  • "Never be so faithful to your plan that you are unwilling to entertain the improbable opportunity that comes looking for you." - Elizabeth Warren
  • "Contentment feels like knowing a phase of your life is done with, feeling grateful it happened and happy you're in the next one." - Dolly Alderton

So there you have it, some of my very favourite words. I hope you liked them too!
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