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

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

On 2013

Oh 2013, what a year you've been. How quickly you've gone and how much you've affected me. I don't quite know how to sum you up in a few paragraphs but here goes nothing.

This year has, without a doubt, been the best year of my life. At the end of last year I wrote about how much I felt I'd grown as a person in 2012. And that was wonderful. It was the first year that I really felt like I was beginning to understand who I am. But 2013 has been kinder still. Having grown into myself more in 2012, 2013 allowed me to be myself. Apologies if I'm talking what seems to be a load of nonsense but I suppose you can't really be yourself unless you know yourself, so I've been much more confident and happy this year.

It has also brought the biggest change of my life so far. Moving house and school is a pretty big one, even if it is only about half an hour away from where I used to live. But it's also turned out to be great. And a year ago I couldn't bear the thought of that change, which in itself has taught me so much.

So 2013 consisted of: - throwing up on new year's day (not due to alcohol, I still have no idea why!) - my 16th birthday - going to the theatre 5 times (I think) - my new niece Iona being born - doing my GCSE exams - finishing my secondary school - prom - getting my GCSE results - moving house - going on holiday to Wales with my best friends - going to Yorkshire to my sister's with Harry - starting a new school and a levels - being with Harry for over a year - not having McDonald's

There are many other things that this year has consisted of, but I just wanted to scratch the surface with those. Have a brilliant New Year's Eve, and Happy New Year. I'm off to spend New Year's Eve with some friends. I'll leave you with some highlights of my 2013:


Saturday, 28 December 2013

On What Read In 2013

I hope you all had wonderful Christmases - I most certainly did and really enjoyed spending a few days in Yorkshire at my sister's.

It's that time of year again where the year is nearly over and I'm feeling very reflective and shocked at how quickly the year has passed, sound at all familiar?

But I thought before inevitably writing a post in which I reflect on 2013 as a whole I'd write one first about what I've read this year. If I wrote a review of each one this would be like a book itself rather than a post so I'll just put the titles, authors, a link to the book and what I rated it out of 5. You can always find me at Goodreads to see what I'm currently reading here.

This year I read:

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 4/5
2. Back Story by David Mitchell 4/5
3. Camp David by David Walliams 3/5
4. Paper Towns by John Green 4/5
5. Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart 3/5
6. Emma by Jane Austen 3/5
7. Atonement by Ian McEwan 4/5
8. You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane 3/5
9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett 5/5

10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 4/5
12. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green 4/5
13. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult 4/5
15. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver 3/5
16. Between a Mother and Her Child by Elizabeth Noble 4/5
17. The Friendship Test by Elizabeth Noble 3/5
18. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker 3/5

19 Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer 4/5
20. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer 4/5
21. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 4/5
22. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 3/5
23. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess 3/5
24. Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth 4/5
25. Him & Me by Jack and Michael Whitehall 3/5
26. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh 1/5
27. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 4/5

And currently reading:

28. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I'm quite pleased with myself for the number of books I've managed to read this year considering how busy I've been. Also just a side note - don't go too closely by what I've rated them out of 5; I often find it difficult to rate books out of 5 so if  you're particularly interested in any but unsure of whether to add them to your list drop me an email and I'll let you know in more detail what I thought. 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

On Christmas Eve

So Christmas Eve is here again. When I was little it was a day of huge anticipation and excitement. And now that I'm older it's still a day of huge anticipation and excitement although maybe not quite on the same level as it was then. I've always thought the magic of Christmas is seen in children. Whenever I see my niece and nephews at Christmas I see the little glint in their eyes because they know Father Christmas is coming/has come and it's the most exciting thing in their world at that moment when nothing else matters and I remember when that was me, and what a special time of year Christmas really is.

From here.

I personally am a Christian, as I think I've written on here before and so when it comes to the Christmas period I do think about the whole reason behind this wonderful holiday but even so, I think that this time of year is a time to hug those special people in our lives a little tighter than usual and count our blessings for how lucky so many of us are and to remember those that aren't as lucky and keep them in our hearts as well.

I will spending my Christmas Eve finishing off some homework (boo!), wrapping all my presents for everyone and then going for lunch with my mum (yay!) and coming home to open my presents with her and my gran. I explained in this post exactly a year ago today why Christmas Eve is more important in Romania (where my maternal side of the family is from), meaning we open our presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day and also what I was feeling at this time last year if you're interested!

It's always been a lovely tradition of ours and makes Christmas Eve that much more exciting. I have no doubt after opening our presents we'll crack on Bridget Jones' Diary or Love Actually which has become a ritual of ours every year.

I'm off to my sister's in Yorkshire tomorrow morning so won't be posting for a few days so have a fabulous Christmas wherever you are and whoever you're with and I'll hopefully be back soon.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

On Late-Night Thoughts

Firstly I'd just like to point out how I shamefully consider 10pm to be late - I'm almost completely sure that I go from the two extremes of being like a 5 year old and then suddenly like a middle-aged person. It's ridiculous, almost automatically at about 10:30pm if I'm at home my eyes begin to droop and before I know it I'm asleep on the sofa if I don't get to my bed first.

Anyway, I have a feeling this post is going to be a lot of bits and pieces thrown together so bear with me if you can. I realised it's been a long time since I've just sat at my computer and written whatever comes into my head at the time and I miss it, so here we are.

1) I've just watched the Strictly Come Dancing final with my mum and doing that always makes me feel quite nostalgic, especially as this year all the previous Strictly champions spoke about their experiences in and since Strictly. I have practically been brought up on Strictly and seeing all of them talk took me back to all those years, I think my mum and I have been watching it ever since I was 8 years old. That's actually half my life, which seems crazy.

From here.

Strictly just has this (for want of a better word) 'thing' about it that means the whole family can watch it. It's not about the drama or exploitation of people; it's just about the dancing and everyone sharing in its beauty. And I think it's lovely. Sorry for sounding like a soppy old sod but it's nice to think back to when I was 8 or 9 years old and fell in love with this programme. Just like many other little girls, I'm sure, I longed to wear those beautiful gowns and have my hair and make up done and learn to dance as gracefully as they do. Unfortunately for me, I am frankly the opposite of graceful and I struggle to stop myself from falling over on a day to day basis so I doubt the quickstep or the salsa would agree with me; as much as I wish they would.

At the same time as it making me look back to when I was 8, I look forward to myself in maybe 10 or 20 years if the show is still going, and maybe I'll still be watching it. Quite probably getting very ahead of myself, which is a bad tendency of mine I'll admit. But it would be nice nevertheless.

2) I am so ridiculously happy to be in the Christmas holidays and can't wait to go up to my sister's in Yorkshire for Christmas, even if I have homework lurking over me which I'm slowly getting through. Slowly being the key word there. Here's us at Christmas last year:

3) A Christmas present from mum was a facial which I actually had today (it's not cheating having my present before Christmas, promise!). It was amazing and so nice to lie there for an hour and just relax after such a stressful and tiring term, now my skin feels so lovely and soft. Would definitely recommend it if you've been feeling stressed lately.

4) I have actually bought all my Christmas presents, with time to spare and before Christmas Eve which I think may be a personal best so I'm chuffed about that. On the subject of Christmas I went to Winter Wonderland on Monday in Hyde Park which was stunning, just as it was last year.

From here.

5) Feeling a bit nostalgic as I am, it's made me realise just how lucky I am. This year has not been easy, not that any really are, but I really do think it's been the best year of my life nonetheless. Moving has been the biggest change I've gone through but it's also taught me so much and made me appreciate the people I have in my life. It is these people that have made my year the wonderful year it has been and I am so grateful to them for being who they are.

There we have it, I'm sure they're enough ramblings to last you right through Christmas to new year! I'll hopefully be back before I go off to Yorkshire to write something or other, but if I'm not I hope you all have a very merry Christmas surrounded by the people you love.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

On A Word From The Wise #2

I wrote my first post on this wonderful book of quotes here, so if you missed that post I explain everything in the first one. I thought I'd have done more of these by now but once again time seems to have run away with me so this is only my second post on it but today I thought I'd open my book and share with you another one or two quotes that feel quite relevant to my life right now.

I looked up the education and learning section because this term has been really intense and after a week of mocks which have completely tired me out and made me hope that I'll never have to revise again, although unfortunately I will, I just need some time to relax and stop for a while. Which it is true I will get from Friday thank goodness, when I break up for the Christmas holidays.

"Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly." - Arnold Edinborough

I must say, I am a very curious person. I can't stand to be given a hint of something and not be told more, which I know isn't necessarily a very good trait to have. But it definitely helps me learn. It makes me interested and motivates me. I've discovered this year I have an absolute love for philosophy like no subject I've ever been taught about before. The basis of it the entire subject is curiosity. And it absolutely fascinates me, I love finding out more and more about the world around us and where it may have come from. Some people may say that this is a complete waste of life and I should just accept that the world is there. Even if that is true, the discussion and curiosity it brings fills me with interest and so I love this quote, because for me, that is wonderful education.

"Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the stars and the mountains above. Let them look at the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. Then they will begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education." - David Polis

Now I adore books and am not for one second suggesting that this quote isn't slightly naive. But I do think it's also got an ounce of truth within it. I think that sometimes we can get too focused on constantly studying and forget to live a little. I don't deny that learning from books can be great and it is where we get the highest education from. Nevertheless, our education would mean nothing if we didn't live, if we didn't go out and see the world around us. So I really liked this quote and the premise behind it.

There we have it, I hope that in the Christmas holidays I'll be able to take the time to look at the stars above a little, just as Polis suggests.

(Just as a quick side note that doesn't really belong in this post but I've put in anyway is that you may have noticed - although I doubt it will make a huge difference to you - that I have deleted all of my posts from before I had RMS redesigned about a year ago now, this is just because I realised that I have written a few things in them that are from a long time ago when I didn't know as much as I know now that I just didn't feel comfortable having on the internet for everyone to see. So don't panic if you noticed, I really did write them, I've just decided to revert them to drafts for the time being!)

Sunday, 8 December 2013

On One Year Passed

I realised a few days ago that I don't tend to (or at least I don't think I do) share all that much about mine and Harry's relationship on here. And for the most part I think that's right. Relationships are private, special and incredibly intimate things. He's often mentioned on here, just in that I share things we've been up to, but not so much little details of us. I wanted to make an exception of that today because on Friday it was our one year anniversary. I'd just like to write in advance before I properly begin that I apologise for the inevitable cringeyness of this post; I am an overly a slightly soppy person. 

This year has gone so unbelievably fast, which I know everyone is on the brink of or already saying as 2013 will soon be over, but I just don't know where it's gone. It genuinely feels like yesterday that I was going to Harry's house for the first time and was so nervous about meeting his family. Anyway, after a long week of mocks it would be an understatement to say that I was eagerly anticipating celebrating mine and Harry's one year anniversary on the Friday evening. When I got to his he was his wonderful, charming self and he took my bag and began to cook me dinner. Stupidly I didn't take a picture of it because I couldn't wait to eat it but it was amazing; he's starting to make me think he's a much better cook than I am (which admittedly isn't all that difficult, but still!). Then he gave me my present for our anniversary and Christmas and with it a letter for me that embarrassingly brought tears to my eyes after reading it, I told you I was soppy!

I don't want to go into too much detail of our evening but it really was perfect. It was so 'us', I would much prefer to spend a wonderful night in just be together than go out. Harry just gets me, like no one else really. We find the same stupid things funny and I never feel like I have to pretend around him. I am just me, plain old me and I feel great when I'm with him. He makes me feel more confident, I think I'm an introvert by nature so it's wonderful to be with someone who's probably the opposite to bring me out of my shell a bit more than I usually would be. All the little things are what make the biggest difference though, him opening the door for me, always knowing when I'm upset or not feeling right about something, making me feel better when that happens, listening, never failing to make me laugh, giving the best hugs around, even waking me up with a cup of tea in the morning when I stay at his. I could carry on but I think you get the picture, and I think he knows how wonderful I think he is so he doesn't need me to finish that list on here.

It is the most lovely thing to have him there, to brighten up my day and make me feel safe. I watched Tom Daley's video the other day, which I have no doubt many of you have seen, and while he was describing how he felt about the boy he's dating I realised it's exactly the same way and the same happiness I feel with Harry. Because really, love is all the same. It doesn't matter who it's with, but if you feel it, you feel incredible, even when things are rough. And I for one feel so lucky and grateful to be experiencing it, because it truly is the thing that makes me the happiest.

So thank you Harry, for the most amazing year and as described on Friday after a glass and a half of cider "this is the best life of my night". Still don't know how that happened but I couldn't be happier right now.


Saturday, 30 November 2013

On My To-Read Pile & Bloggers' Book Swap

My current 'to-read' pile.

A couple of months ago now the lovely Rosie had the excellent idea of setting up a bloggers' book swap; she paired us all up and the plan was to send the other person two books that you've read and loved, to try out the other person's books and talk about them. As I've written only about a million times on here I absolutely adore reading. It's become something that I can't go a day without doing, not having a book on the go just feels wrong. So I was very excited to sign up for this and try it out.

I was paired up with Lianna and received my books from her yesterday, along with an adorable card. We've been emailing back and forth and I'm hoping that she'll love the books I sent her as much as I did when I read them. I sometimes wish that I could erase reading some of my favourite books from my memory, to be able to go back and read them in the same way I did for the first time, because you never get that same feeling again with the excitement of being completely immersed in a book for the first time. Anyway, not the point, on with the actual point of this post..

Lianna sent me One Day and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I actually read One Day a couple of years ago now and I loved it, so at least I know that Lianna and I probably have a similar taste in books because although so many people loved One Day, I know many others who didn't understand what the big deal was, and I couldn't put it down when I was reading it.

In case you're interested, here's the blurb of One Day by David Nicholls. "You can live your whole life not realising that what you're looking for is right in front of you. 15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?"

I thought Nicholls wrote brilliantly in this book; it is heartbreaking and witty and wonderful. Interestingly (well I think it is!), I tried to read The Understudy, also by David Nicholls, not so long ago and I found it really difficult to get into and gave up after a while. Has anyone else read it? Maybe his best is in One Day. I would definitely recommend One Day, the film adaptation is nothing compared to the book although I did enjoy it as well.

I've never read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson but like most people, I have heard tons about it. From what I've seen of it it sounds like an extremely interesting story and I can't wait to give it a try. Here's the blurb. "Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption." 

These are the other books on my pile at the moment. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro was given to my mum as a birthday present by one of her best friends. He told me it's his favourite book ever and that we both absolutely must read it and I've again heard so much about it that I'm looking forward to giving it a try myself. "In one of the most acclaimed novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life." 

It seems like everyone and their dog has read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, quite honestly I don't know how I've got away with not reading it sooner. The film adaptation is coming out soon I believe and, as always, I refuse to see the film before reading the book so I thought it was time to hurry up and read it! I haven't yet but from what I have heard I have no doubt I will fall in love with this book as much as everyone else has. "You are going to die. 1939. Nazi Germany. The Country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall."

I might be absent over the next couple of weeks because I have mock exams and am busy busy busy as usual in the run up to Christmas, but I'll hopefully be back to normal very soon.

So there you have it. What have you been reading lately? I hope you all have a lovely weekend!


Sunday, 24 November 2013

On The Power Of Now

Every Friday lunchtime at school I go to a Philosophy/Ethics club which is just open to and run by sixth formers. They come up with the topics, usually in pairs and present them to us for us all to discuss. A couple of weeks ago I went to one about Eckhart Tolle's book 'The Power of Now' which is about the power of living in the moment and appreciating the present instead of getting caught up on the past or in the future which we so often do as humans.

From here

Now I cannot claim to be an expert on this subject because I haven't actually read Tolle's book yet but I found what the girls at school told us and the discussion that emerged from it incredibly interesting and it hasn't quite left my mind since. Firstly we talked about how we tend to be always complaining about things; typically British in that we so often end up complaining about how terrible the weather is as well as many other things. Sometimes it's an easy conversation/small talk topic with someone you don't know and other times we're just complaining for the sake of it.

Now we're all guilty of complaining and it's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just our human nature. Why should we be positive all the time? I agree that optimism tends to make us happier but a moan now and then to get some things that are irritating you out of your system probably won't do any harm. What really interested me was when we got on to the topic which is apparently discussed in great detail in the book that we never really consider that usually nothing is lacking to us in the present. We are very lucky in our society compared to others.

If you are sitting there, wherever you are, and you just think to yourself for a moment 'what is actually lacking from my life at this precise moment in time?' the truth is, or at least was for me anyway, that there wasn't really anything. Of course things could be better, they almost always could be, but when I was sitting there at my school, having just eaten lunch and talking about a topic that really interested me, I realised that nothing was actually lacking from my life.

I might rather be at home with my friends or Harry, watching a film and relaxing, not having to go home and write an essay but when I do have to do that, nothing is actually lacking from my life; I have a computer and books and through writing the essay I'm learning, I'm not in horrible pain or starving for food or in a life threatening situation. And this has actually really helped me over the past few weeks. It's coming up to mock period and I was a bit stressed out about it all last weekend, but the truth is, when reminding myself to think that nothing is actually lacking from my life in this exact moment I am much happier and that's great.

From here

I don't mean to imply that we don't have problems, because of course we do and they're significant and difficult as always, but through thinking in this way it's helped me to worry less about stuff. Anyone who knows me well knows that I could worry for England (I get it from my mum annoyingly), I just find myself worrying sometimes and can't seem to stop. But the past couple of weeks since discussing this, every time I start to I remember to think about the precise moment I'm living in and that I really am okay.

I'll definitely add this book to my reading list as although Tolle looks a bit crazy to me on the surface, the book sounds like it will be really interesting. I'm sorry if this was just a complete blur to read, I hope it makes sense and that if it does you find it interesting rather than concluding that I'm a crazy lady! But even if none of what I've written makes any sense, I do think that every once in a while we should try to not get so hung up on the future because it's not here yet, or on the past because there's nothing we can do to change it, so we should just concentrate on the now to try and be our best selves.

Friday, 22 November 2013

On My Sunday (And A Bit Of Saturday)

I've had so much working lately (boo a levels) that I have been trying to spend one day of my weekend doing boring work and little things that need to be done and the other day doing something I really want to do with the odd exception which is pretty much every other weekend.  I went a little off course last Saturday though and ended up shopping with my mum and going swimming. I came home and did lots of work though so it doesn't really count, right?

Since I moved house and started my new school I get the bus to school instead of walking like I used to. Weirdly I've actually found that I really miss walking and it was a big part of the only exercise I did. So now that I literally just walk to the bus stop every day I've decided I probably should do a bit more than that so want to start swimming again, which I did.

Anyway, Sunday was the main part of my weekend so I'll stop rambling about Saturday now and talk about that. Harry came round and we were supposed to see The Butler, which looks amazing, but me being the muppet that I am I got the timings wrong and we ended up missing it and coming back slightly disappointed. It's ok though, we're going to see it this Sunday instead and I'm adamant that I WILL get the timings right this time.

Then one of my mum's best friends came round too with her new baby - I've known Thea since I was about three and she's the closest thing to a second mum I have so you can probably guess I was so excited to meet the baby - who is absolutely adorable. We played with her and poor Harry was stuck watching me, but especially my mum and gran, fuss over her, which is quite a strange sight I have no doubt. Harry had to shortly after that.

About an hour later my mum said she had to pop out to go and give something to a friend quickly, and me being the unsuspecting and trusting person that I am, thought nothing of it. When she came back she brought with her one of my best friends who used to live here but moved to Romania four years ago, Tudor. I'm not sure when the last time I mentioned him on here was but he was my closest friend for a very long time and because of the move I hadn't seen him in a year. I don't think I've ever been so surprised in my life. I genuinely stood in the doorway for about five minutes with my jaw open thinking 'what the hell is happening?!' and proceeded to take about half an hour to get over the confusion. I just always assumed Tudor would tell me the next time he's coming to London, we also had a plan to skype that evening so it never occurred to me for a second that he would be turning up on my doorstep.

But I guess life is full of surprises, and this was a great one. We talked for a couple of hours and caught up on everything which was wonderful. It's hard to keep a friendship strong when you live in different countries, and as great as skype is, it's not the same as talking face to face.

Just for your amusement and my embarrassment here is a picture of Tudor and I taken about five years ago in which we aren't even looking at the camera, make of it what you will:

So that was my Sunday, sorry for the belated weekend news, I hope you all had a lovely weekend too. 


Saturday, 2 November 2013

My Half Term & Technology

So it's safe to say my two-week half term has pretty much come to a depressing end and on Monday I'll have to be woken up at a painful time of 6:30am just like the majority of everyone else in the country. But I suppose it's not all terrible; I've had a rather decent break. Here's what I got up to:

- went for a yummy dinner with lots of people in my year
- visited Reigate and had lunch and a catch up with Kate
- watched Finding Nemo and proceeded to cook fajitas with Harry
- worked at my dad's school (he works at a school for autistic children and I like to go in and help with primary classes when I can) for a couple of days
- did a lot of reading for philosophy
- watched High School Musical 3 with a couple of friends from my year no I am not ashamed
- visited my old school to see all my friends and teachers, this was a both nostalgic and lovely day
- had dinner at my dad's with him, his girlfriend and Harry
- went on a much-needed shopping trip to Oxford Street with my mum, as pictured below (excuse embarrassing mirror face)

- went to visit my god-family with my mum; my godmother's dad died a couple of weeks ago so it was lovely to go round and give her a hug
- made brownies with Lucy and stayed at hers to try and avoid the nasty St Jude storm 
- went for lunch with my favourites, one of which put up this picture of us from her birthday party

- spent a few days with Harry as pictured below

- cooked bacon and pea risotto for seven people, I might be slightly overly proud of myself for that one
- beat Harry at monopoly
- saw Mackinlay which was great, we talked about the past couple of months and discussed technology, which I'll come onto properly later
- watched Behind The Candelabra
- read A Clockwork Orange
- ate chocolate swiss roll and cream

- watched many YouTube videos
- came home to mum having bought me an advent calender, without me even having to prompt her to do so now that she suggests I am 'too old' which we all know is nonsense

So that's been my half term, it always goes stupidly fast and as you can guess I'm already anticipating the Christmas holidays although not the Christmas shopping - I always find it really difficult to know what to buy for everyone, is that just me?

Anyway, when I was at Mackinlay's the other day we got on to talking about technology. Now I admit I am at a very big risk of sounding like an OAP here - which you hopefully wouldn't expect given that I'm 16 years old, but we talked a lot about how technology has become such a significant part of our lives.

I mean as much as I love technology, I wouldn't be here typing if it wasn't so amazing, it's getting slightly ridiculous how dependent we are on it. Any spare second I have in which I'm not sure what to do, even for a second, I will automatically pick up my iPhone and start going on all my apps, checking the weather, anything I can do on it. And when I think about it, that's a bit weird. When I was at Mackinlay's I realised that simply if she left the room to go and get us a drink or something I would find myself on my phone doing something pointless.

It's just a bit odd and sometimes I really wish that I lived in the '50s or something, just to experience no mobiles, letter-writing and real games for entertainment. Wow, I really do sound old. I don't want this to come across as me not loving and appreciating technology because I truly do, and honestly don't know what I'd do without it. It was just very interesting for me to think about how dependent we are on it and how that is becoming increasingly more common by the second. Just food for thought.

I hope you've all had a lovely Halloween and October, I'm off now to go and see what's for dinner!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Out There

From here

I absolutely adore this man. And I now adore him even more having watched his two-part documentary 'Out There' last week. If you haven't already watched it you are definitely missing out but hopefully it is still on iplayer!

The documentary sees Stephen Fry travel to a range of different countries in attempt to try and find out why people can be so homophobic and what life is like for homosexuals around the world. It was at times incredibly sad and at others simply wonderful to watch. I hugely admire Stephen Fry for doing this, for listening to heartbreaking stories and trying to make a desperately-needed change.

I have never been able to understand homophobic people. I personally believe there is absolutely no reason to be against anyone legally being with the person they love, whether that is a male or female person. It is not doing anybody any harm, in fact the main argument many of the outrageously homophobic people Stephen met was that 'gays are trying to recruit straights'. Even the notion of that is ludicrous to me, of course gay people are not recruiting others to be gay as well, they simply want to be allowed to be with a person of the same sex. In a modern world where we have so many rights it astounds me that allowing a person to be with whom they love is not one in many parts of our world.

Many Christians argue that the Bible says that being gay is wrong and use that as their argument for being homophobic. I don't write about it on here all that much but I am a Christian and I am not in the slightest against people being gay. This is because I don't understand why someone would want to believe in a God who does not want people to be who they are, I personally believe that he does because he made us.

There was a real story in the documentary of what happened to a girl who Stephen spoke with; she is a lesbian and when men found this out she was raped and contracted AIDs, a disease that is often associated with homosexuality. The man claimed that she was only lesbian because she hadn't experienced being with a man. This absolutely disgusts me and I pray that these cases will cease to exist.

Interestingly it often crosses my mind that no-one ever truly questions someone being heterosexual, the idea is seen as ridiculous because it is what we naturally expect. But when homosexual people come out I have regularly heard parents or people saying that they should wait and see because they might change their mind. But surely when you know, you know. Just in the same way that when I was six years old I had my first crush on a boy, one of my best friends also had his on a boy. And he described that to me as him just knowing, in the same way that I just know, that I like boys.

I don't believe that being gay is something to be questioned or criticised, it is something which should immediately be accepted because it doesn't make anybody a different person to whom they were before you knew. I hope that one day our world will think of homophobes in the same way as we now think of racists; in disgust and confusion as to how it was ever acceptable.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Past Few Weeks

Wow, the past few weeks have been crazy busy with homework and filled weekends and when I have had time to sit down and write I'll admit I have been slightly guilty of ending up putting my feet up and reading or watching tv instead and I sound like an OAP already. It's ok though, half term is only four days away and I'm lucky enough to have two weeks off! So I'm hoping that then more writing will commence.

I am currently trying to learn six tenses of Italian, I think I've just about nailed them but they need brushing up before my test on Wednesday, I can't quite believe that only six weeks ago I hardly knew any Italian and now I'm using the present subjunctive more or less correctly (let us hope!). I have to say I really am loving this language, at times the speed at which I'm learning it stresses me out a little but it is absolutely beautiful and so worth it.

Right, as I've got to sort these tenses out I'll love you and leave you and let the pictures from the past few weeks do the talking for once.

Beautiful flowers from Harry the other weekend. 

I fell in love a little bit with this seahorse at the Sealife Centre in Brighton with the girls for Hannah's birthday.

This book has me absolutely gripped, I can't wait to find out what happens in the end.

Yes, I met Jack Whitehall at a book signing and yes, he is hilarious.

Silly selfies this weekend just gone. 

My favourite gals after the best day in Brighton. 


Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Word From The Wise

Two years ago for Christmas day my mum gave me this book titled "A Word From The Wise". It is a book of quotations put together by Rosemarie Jarski and organised into their topics - for example: happiness, acceptance, books. There aren't many times I've been thinking of a specific topic that I want to find a quote about and not found it in this book. My mum knows me so well, I've always loved and been fascinated by quotes. In fact, at my old house one of my entire bedroom walls was covered with many of my favourite quotes. So as you can imagine, this present was a hit. 

What I love about my mum's presents are that the special ones are always so personal. She'll probably give me money or something else I've asked for at Christmas and on my birthday but as well as that she gives me something that is really thought-out and beautiful. We have a tradition that whenever we buy each other books we write a little message on the first page, never an essay, just a few words and my mum's are always wonderful. 

Ever since I've been given this book I often look through it and stumble across some incredible quotations and, much more often than not, I'm inspired to write by them. So I thought that when I find ones that particularly grab me I'll share them with you. 

"The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it." - George C. Scott

I love this quote. I've been feeling quite stressed out today, which was odd to be because I can't think of a reason why I should be; I'm on top of my homework, school's going well, everything is great with my family, friends and Harry so it makes no sense to me that I had this feeling. I talked to Harry and my dad about it and they helped me to realise that when going through changes, which I am still in the process of doing, little things can get on top of you much more than they usually would. I think that is what has happened, a lot of little things have made me feel stressed out, and by feeling that I felt quite rough today. 

This quote reminds me that we are all so much stronger than we believe ourselves to be and while I realise that today this is just me adjusting to change and nothing incredibly complex or upsetting, it leads me to remember that I am strong, much stronger than I consider myself to be. That whatever life throws at me, although may be difficult, I will handle and will come out the other side of. And that's a bloody great thing to know, so I thought you should too. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

On A Difficult Monday

Today I was planning to write about what a wonderful weekend I've had but something happened this morning that just knocked me a bit, and I wanted to write because it made me quite sad and when I'm sad I like to write. Every Monday morning we have a senior assembly - last week my year were asked to stay behind and the head teacher told us about a boy in our year who was diagnosed with cancer when he was 11, had managed to fight it, got incredible GCSE results in the midst of it and even started our sixth form but had just found out that week that he only had a few weeks left to live, when he was expected to complete his A Levels with us.

I thought about it a lot. About how unfair life can be, he's a 16 year old boy and, from what I've heard, an absolutely amazing person. This morning they told the other years not to come to assembly, just ours, and we were told that he died early on Saturday morning. I've never experienced something like this before. It was very weird for me because I've only just joined this year and I never spoke to him, I don't know if I even saw him. And yet I felt utterly overwhelmed with sadness. But I felt like I had no right to be. I didn't know this boy and although I've heard how funny and how happy and how clever he was I didn't feel as though that justified me being upset compared with all the people around me who have known him for five years. 

There was a moment when the head was saying a few words and a boy sitting in front of me suddenly put his head in his hands and let out an uncontrollable sob, beginning to cry without showing any signs of being able to stop. That is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever witnessed in my life; the boy who sat in front of me is probably the biggest guy in our year from what I've seen, I have a class with him and he's always laughing with friends around and to see him cry like that really made me realise how real this was. All I wanted to do was cry and cry and cry. But I still felt like I had no right, so I tried my hardest to suppress my tears. 

You never really think that something like this is going to happen. But we probably should really, because life shocks you. It comes out of nowhere and gives you things you never thought you'd be dealing with. And sometimes that's great. But when things like this happen I spend some time again wondering why life is so unfair. I'm a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and nevertheless I find it so tough to comprehend the unjustness of it. He was a 16 year old boy with so much potential, so much hope. And now he's gone. I just pray that he's in a better place. 

I don't think my words even begin to do justice for what a sad moment it was, but I wanted to write, so here it is. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

September Thoughts

It's been a crazy month and a half; life got in the way a little bit as it always seems to. If I'm honest I'm not entirely sure where my summer went, somehow ten weeks went in the blink of an eye. But that's time for you I guess, I had a wonderful summer. And now here I am. Here being 3 weeks into my new school, the one I was petrified to begin, and the one I'm actually surviving. I have just finished off some history homework ah the delights of Atlee's government, polished off a cup of tea and a slice of brownie which I made on Saturday and thought I would update you all on some of the happenings of my exhilarating life.

Starting something new is always an odd feeling. I never really know what to expect, and I think that's what scared me when starting my new school. Especially knowing that the majority of my year have been there for five years already. But I'm loving my subjects, not so much my homework, and the people are lovely. Sure, I still spend the best part of my time longing for the weekend but it's not so bad. In fact, I'd even go as far as to say that I'm enjoying myself.

So things are pretty good at the moment, I feel very blessed. I don't want to write too much today as I'm shattered from waking up at 6:30am, which is (and probably always will be) much too early for my liking. I thought I'd leave you with a list of things that are making me happy at the moment that will hopefully (some of them) make you smile too:

- having a completely fresh start where no-one knows me
- meeting new people
- baking
- having incredible friends
- having a wonderful boyfriend
- having a caring family
- reading this post from Alice's blog that made me smile
- reading this post from Meg's blog that made me think
- waking up to sweet messages
- this song, because Bublé never fails to put me in the best mood

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Month 07

So it's already the last day of July and although I still have another month left of holidays before school starts I have a feeling it's going to pass annoyingly quickly. I had the most wonderful time with my friends in Wales - it was exactly what I needed, but I'm planning to write about that properly soon.

In July I...

Read: Finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I absolutely loved it, such an interesting read which I won't write more about as I fear I'm one of the last people around to have only just read it. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver. This is the second in a trilogy which starts with Delirium, I was unsure for a long time about whether or not I really wanted to read this second one as I adored the first one so much and believe it had a fantastic ending that I was worried continuing it would be unnecessary and ruin the story. But alas, curiosity won once again. However, I'm not all that sure what to make of it. I loved the same concept which it retained (the books are set in the future when love is believed to be a disease), I find that idea fascinating. Sadly though, although it was well-written and kept me interested, I do think that it ruined the story a little and that there was no need for the sequels. I'll probably end up reading the third one at some point, simply to find out what happens. Between a Mother and Her Child by Elizabeth Noble. I've read a number of Noble's books before and have immensely enjoyed each one, as I also did this one. It's a story about a family and how they deal with the loss of their son/brother when he is killed in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. I know, not all that cheery. It is set about two years after the tragedy and I found the story and the way it was written incredibly intriguing. I have found that in all of Noble's novels she has a way of making me really care for the characters, it's a real gift and holds me captivated every time I pick up one of her books. I have also just started The Friendship Test by Elizabeth Noble. I'm only a little of the way in but it's about four friends who met at university and their lives years later. So far I'm not enjoying it as much as I did Between a Mother and Her Child. However, I'm definitely enjoying it and am looking forward to seeing what happens.

Watched for the first time: Like Crazy: I remember seeing the advert for this a couple of years ago and wanting to watch it; I finally did. I really enjoyed it, definitely not one of my favourite films, but I think it's worth watching. Private Lives: the wonderful Coward play which I wrote about here. One Day: I read this book about two years ago and adored it so I finally got around to seeing the film, and despite Anne Hathaway's wavering British accent I loved her and the film. Despicable Me 2: I'm not even ashamed, I loved the first and now having seen it, I loved the second too.

Bought (clothes): Two dresses: one and two.

In school: I helped with the new year sevens' induction day, it was a little odd as it's almost as if they're our new year group and we used to be them. But I enjoyed helping it out, I can't believe we were once that small!

Out of school: - went bowling and didn't lose this is a major achievement - had lunch at Bill's with two of my lovely friends - spent a day helping out at my dad's school - helped at my friend Rosie's church stall, we were making and serving crepes, I loved it! - went out with Harry and his family to celebrate his Nan's birthday - went on a hilarious trip to Ikea with my best friends - went to watch the X Factor auditions - went on an amazing holiday to Wales - started Italian lessons with an incredible teacher as I'm starting a level in September

Also I have been listening to Wakey Wakey non-stop all month, I love them. Here are my favourite four songs, if you have time have a listen: one, two, three, four.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Private Lives

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to wander down to the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue to see a performance of Noël Coward's "Private Lives" with my mum. The sun was shining, depicting how stunning London can be when the weather gives it half a chance. The play stars Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor and is a wonderful play.

This is how it is described on the theatre's website: "Elyot (Toby Stephens) and Amanda (Anna Chancellor) are glamorous, rich, reckless... and divorced. Five years later, their love for one another is unexpectedly rekindled when they take adjoining suites of a French hotel while honeymooning with their new spouses Victor (Anthony Calf) and Sibyl (Anna-Louise Plowman). This chance encounter instantly reignites their passion and they fling themselves headlong into a whirlwind of love and lust once more, without a thought for partners present or turbulences past."

It is no secret that I adore going to the theatre; as I have no doubt I've made evident by often writing about it on here whenever I go. I've previously seen Toby Stephens in "The Real Thing" by Tom Stoppard and Anna Chancellor in "The Browning Version" by Terence Rattigan, both of which I thought they were impeccable in. However, I had no idea that they would be so impressive when acting together.

The play was absolutely hilarious and although it is likely that that is mainly down to Coward's excellent writing, I truly believe that Anna Chancellor and Toby Stephens' quality of acting and on-stage relationship made it all the more hilarious to watch. I had never heard of this play before I went to see it but I already desperately want to go again, it is not only a comedy that genuinely had me crying with laughter throughout, it also touches on more profound ideas such as the difficulty of love and unhealthy relationships if you read between the lines of what is portrayed on stage.

[source here]

I believe this play must incredibly significant to Toby Stephens as his mother and father (Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens) played the protagonists in 1972 (as you can see in the picture above), which I found very interesting to discover as Smith went to watch it recently. "Private Lives" lead me to think about the highs and lows of relationships and how fascinating I find the way in which humans interact with one another. The plot is excellent and believable, the script is flawless and hilarious, and the acting could not have been more stunning. It was a lovely day out, and if you get the chance to go to see it yourself, don't think twice.

I'm going to Wales for a week with my best friends on Saturday which I am immensely looking forward to so I doubt I'll blog until I get back, I hope you all have a lovely time whatever you're doing in this beautiful weather while I'm gone!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

On Change

For the past few months, since I've known that I would be moving from Surrey to London and going to a completely new school in September, I've found it somewhat more difficult than I believed I would to describe how I feel about these changes. I feel as though I've been holding my feelings in slightly, although I have opened up more about it to a few special people in my life. Keeping things back is very out of character for me. Not that I usually go around broadcasting every intimate detail of my life, just that I normally know how to talk about it with the people I choose to.

I also feel like it has been quite a while since I last sat at my computer, hit the 'new post' button and just typed everything out that's bothering me. I used to do that all the time and I miss it. I suppose I'm more conscious now than I was in the past that I publish these words on the internet, where anyone can find them should they choose to look. But really, thinking about it, this is honest, this is my life and these are my words so I don't mind who wants to read.

Now that we've moved I do feel more at ease with the idea of it all as I truly love our new place, it's wonderful. I also really look forward to having people round, it has a fantastic garden that I hope I will spend many of these beautiful summer evenings in with the special people in my life. However, as I am now here, I am often finding myself worrying about the future; what will happen when I start my new school, how I'll be able to handle the workload, making new friends and keeping up with the amazing ones I already have.

I know this incessant worrying won't benefit me one bit, but I find it very difficult to stop although I'm really trying. I want to live in the present as I have this incredible summer which has only just started and so much that I could do should I put my mind to it. I would much rather concentrate on that and enjoy it as much as possible after two years of bloody hard work. I struggle with this because change terrifies me. I know how illogical that sounds - if we never changed, we would never make any progress, we would never be able to grow in ourselves and with other people. But I suppose I'm finding it hard to adjust at the moment. It's the fear of the unknown really.

I'm hoping that by typing some of this out I will feel a little better about it, because I know that I've got to learn to stop worrying about things that are out of my control. Only time will tell what will happen next year. And that's okay. It's life, so really it's good that I am learning this sooner instead of later. In a few months I will have the answers to my worries, but right now I need to focus on what's directly in front of me, in the present and enjoy every wonderful moment, because change is a part of life.

Monday, 8 July 2013


A week ago on Friday I awoke to a typically gloomy, miserable English morning. This type of too-common-for-its-own-good British weather tends to put me in a terrible mood, not that I can complain at the moment, the weather for the past few days has more than made up for it. However, this form of weather is not ideal when it is your prom day.

I suppose it's a very American thing, the end-of-school prom. And in all honesty I wasn't looking forward to it all that much. Sure, I'd bought my dress, booked to get my make up professionally done at Benefit and everything else one stereotypically does in order to prepare for prom, but I wasn't expecting to actually enjoy the occasion. The weather on the morning of it confirmed this for me - that it could be alright, but it didn't make me think it would be an evening I would never forget.

In fact it was. Once the panic of getting ready was over, myself and my best friends met at Sean's for some photos. We were all a little nervous when we went to meet about 70 other people from our year to go to the hotel where our prom was taking place in an old double decker bus, but we weren't sure as to why. The bus journey was excellent if not a little bumpy. Following the journey we met the rest of our year and teachers outside the hotel and many more photos were taken.

The night involved a buffet, talking with everyone and teachers, more photos and some outrageously bad dancing. I never thought I would dance as badly as I did that night in public, I have no doubt I will be hiding from any videos of it for the rest of my life. But everyone was doing the same and in that moment I looked around and once again was in awe of the amazing people I have been privileged enough to have in my life for the past five years. It really was a wonderful evening. Dancing with everyone, a thousand photos and wonderful conversation; prom is not a night I believe I will ever forget.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Month 06

Okay so this is four days late - the reason for this is that I moved house last Saturday and am now officially a London resident! It's all been rather chaotic, meaning this is the first real chance I've had since the move to sit down and type away for a while. I'll do a proper post soon I promise but first I wanted to round up what I've been up to in June. Still in complete denial that it is already July, time goes much too fast for my liking. 

In June I...

Read: Finished An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. This is another beautiful Green book that captivated me from beginning to end, the way it presents relationships and the nature of humans greatly fascinated me and I would highly recommend reading it yourself. I then proceeded to read The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult. I have read a large number of Picoult books and thoroughly enjoyed them all, I was even lucky enough to go to a BBC radio recording last year in which she was interviewed about My Sister's Keeper and then meet her afterwards. Her books are always intense, exploring tough and sensitive subjects. But the thing I love about Jodi Picoult is that for every single book she writes she undertakes research for them meticulously, which I believe is vital when writing about the sort of topics she does. It makes them so much more believable and gives an insight into people's lives and relationships. The Tenth Circle is about a rape and the aftermath of this. It is heartbreaking and tough and real. I loved the way that Picoult wrote parts from each main characters' perspective, I find it makes it much more insightful. It isn't my favourite book by her but I found it difficult to put down and thought it was a wonderful story. Now I have nearly finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. This is a very well-read book. People have been telling me to read it for years and I've finally got round to it. I can see why they told me to read it. Written from the perspective of a teenager with Aspergers, this book could not be more interesting to me. I don't want to write too much about it as so many people have read it but I am loving this book immensely. 

Watched for the first time: The Help. Having read the wonderful book last month I knew I wanted to finally watch the film. It was stunning. Heartbreaking, but stunning. I want to watch it again and again, I can't stress enough how imperative I believe it to be that films like this are watched, it reminded me of how blessed I am and how cruel but also beautiful humans can be. Skyfall: this is a film that people have talked about endlessly for the past year or so which I never watched. I have never seen another James Bond film, I know - I must live under a rock or something! But actually I enjoyed it. It was a bit cheesy but I like cheesy films so it was a pretty good match. The acting was great and I wasn't bored for a second. Before Sunrise: this is the first in the now trilogy of films that my mum has been raving about to me for years now. As the third one has recently come out she wanted me to get a move on so we could see it together. I liked it. It was based on a very interesting concept - meeting a stranger, falling in love, and possibly never seeing them again - and although it wasn't incredible I would like to see the next two. Sweet Bird of Youth - this is currently on at The Old Vic. It is incredibly sad but brilliant to watch, I was lucky enough to get tickets in the second row for only £12 each as I'm under 25. I'm hoping to write about this properly soon. 

Bought (clothes): Just two new tops from New Look. I hadn't been in there for ages but desperately needed some new tops as the long-awaited English summer finally seems to be gracing us with its presence and New Look had a lot of nice ones so mission accomplished. 

In school: I finished my GCSE exams after what feels like months of revision, now I'll just have to anxiously dread wait for results day on the 22nd August. Went for a lovely form meal which I wrote about here. On Friday I had my prom which was the most lovely evening but which I hope to write about properly soon. 

Out of school: - went swimming with Harry - had my makeup done at Benefit for prom - went to an end of exams party - went for the new students' day at my new school and found it's easier to talk to new people than I originally thought - moved house

June was pretty packed and full of ups and downs as I've found the build up to moving particularly difficult. Now that I'm here I'm starting to feel a lot more settled, maybe everything will be okay! 

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