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

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

On What I Read In 2014

Last year I rounded up what I'd read over 2013 and what I'd thought of it on Goodreads. It was a lovely way to not only reflect on the year in a personal way, but to also look back on what's been read over the past 365 days, so I thought I'd do it again this year! 

My reading goals for this year were to :: 

1. Read 30 books (in the hope of increasing the 28 I managed last year).
2. Read 3 classics.

So, without further ado, this year I read ::

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot 4/5
2. Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle 2/5
3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 5/5
4. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger 5/5
5. Requiem by Lauren Oliver 3/5
6. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss 3/5
7. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald 3/5
8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 5/5
9. A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks 4/5
10. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 5/5
11. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 4/5

12. Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher 4/5
13. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 5/5
14. The First English Revolution by Adrian Jobson 4/5
15. You're the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher 4/5
16. Democracy by Ross Harrison 3/5
17. Eat My Heart Out by Zoe Pilger 3/5
18. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer 4/5
19. Allegiant by Veronica Roth 4/5
20. Christmas With Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher 3/5
21. The Thread by Victoria Hislop 5/5
22. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan 5/5

And currently reading ::

23. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

I didn't hit my goal of reading 30 books this year then (boo!). I'm going to put it down to doing a lot of reading for school which meant I had to devote a lot more time to books that needed more attention than I might usually give. Let's hope that in 2015 I can get the number of books I read back up into the late twenties. I did, however, read four classics this year and had aimed for three so I'm pretty proud of myself for that. 

I'd say that the real 'stand out' book for me this year is The Kite Runner. I know it's been talked about millions of times but, having read it, I can assuredly say that there's a reason and it's that it's so wonderfully written in describing such a fragile topic. The Kite Runner woke me up to a very real problem in today's world and, as always, any book that makes me think and reflect and learn has to be a winner for me!

What have you been reading this year?

Monday, 29 December 2014

On Christmas 2014

Christmas this year was lovely. It was just what you'd want it to be - a really relaxing day with my nearest and dearest. We spent the day eating, chatting, and playing with the kids. The only trouble with Christmas is that it always seems to be over in the blink of an eye, and I can never quite put my finger on where it's gone!

On Boxing Day my sister, dad, niece, nephews and I went for a long walk around a reservoir in Yorkshire. Having stuffed my face the day previously, it was great to get some fresh air and take in the beautiful countryside.

On Boxing Day evening, we were graced with snow, which was lovely. Although the snow can be a bit of a pain, especially after a couple of days when it goes all sloshy, I think it's incredibly beautiful and it definitely kept the festive feel going for a few extra days.

The next morning we all went sledging and came home after to have oreo hot chocolates, which was absolutely perfect. I got home from Yorkshire this afternoon and, as you can see from a few snippets of the past few days, I had a wonderful time. I'm going to go and catch up on lots of Christmas tv now and am hopefully going to do some baking from my new recipe book that my Dad gave me tomorrow. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

On The Lead Up to Christmas

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! If you've been reading my blog for a long time, you'll know that it's Christmas Eve that is more important then Christmas Day in Romania. This has always worked out well since my parents divorced as it means that I get to spend Christmas Eve with my Mama and Gran and Christmas Day with my Dad and the rest of my family. I'll be up bright and early tomorrow, therefore, (although, who isn't up bright and early on Christmas Day?!) to drive up to Yorkshire with my Dad where we'll stay with my sister and brother-in-law for a few days. 

I can't wait to relax in Yorkshire with my niece and nephews and the rest of the family and have a little break from the internet to concentrate on them. So I thought I'd just round off, having finally finished all my present-wrapping, with a catch up on what I've been up to over the past few days in the lead up to Christmas - told mostly in pictures with a few captions. I'll be back from my sister's on the 29th so will hopefully write soon after that. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas with your loved ones and a wonderful wonderful new year!

Harry & I had a walk round Winter Wonderland yesterday. 
We stopped for lunch at ASK which was delicious.
This photo was just before me and the girls dug into the most amazing brunch, served with pink champagne, at our friend Laura's.
A before photo of my friend Serena's Christmas party.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

On Secret Santa

Isn't secret santa such a lovely tradition?! I know I've  probably gone on about traditions far too much for anyone's liking recently, but, for me, the lead up to Christmas and Christmas itself is a time for old and new traditions to take place and, being the creature of habit that I am, that makes me very happy.

The tradition of secret santa is no exception and so, with the prospect of a double secret santa in one day on the cards, yesterday was a wonderfully festive day. Once we finished for the holidays at lunchtime, all of us girls got changed and hopped on the bus to Bar Estilo. Having tapas at Bar Estilo with the girls has become a bit of a tradition in itself so it was no surprise that we headed there to celebrate the holidays finally having arrived.

Once we'd ordered enough tapas to leave us so full we would hardly be able to move, we finally got to open our secret santa presents. It was so sweet to watch everyone open their presents and mine from Emma was great. Half of the presents pictured are from Emma, half from my friend Lucy. Emma got me the chocolate Father Christmas, the gorgeous rings, the not so gorgeous framed photo of myself, and some washing up gloves - a long running joke the group have because I'm always so reluctant to wash up! It was such a nice present, especially considering when I found out that it was Emma who had me I was very worried about what she might get me as I know the lengths she could go to to make fun of me!

I couldn't avoid not moving after tapas in the end as I had to catch the train to go and see Rosie, Hannah, and Lucy and do our secret santa. Rosie picked me up from the station in her car having just passed her test (side note: I'm incredibly jealous and wish I could afford a car too!), and we met Lucy and Hannah in Costa for a hot chocolate and to catch up while opening our secret santa presents. It's still odd for me to not see these three everyday like I used to so time spent with them is really precious.

Lucy had me and got me such a perfect present. She bought me the Accessorize hairbands that don't tangle in your hair; ideal for me as I'm forever getting hairbands tangled in my long hair, some lovely printed photos from the past few years, and her new favourite book, The Night Circus. That girl always hits the nail on the head with me, I really loved my present from her and can't wait to start The Night Circus!

So that was my day yesterday, I wholeheartedly recommend doing secret santa, especially if you can do two in one day, to get you in the Christmas mood and to have a lovely time with your nearest and dearest.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

On My Happy List #02

I break up for the Christmas holidays tomorrow which has put me in a particularly Christmassy and happy mood so I thought I'd take five minutes to make a list of what's making me excited and lifting my mood at the moment.

1. Christmassy things. As pictured, I've made a little corner on my windowsill all Christmassy with a light up angel snow globe, a mini Christmas tree, and the Christmas penguin my Gran gave me. This, as well as beginning to wrap presents and write gift cards, have definitely got me in the festive mood and have me immensely looking forward to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Not to mention how happy my Mum bringing home my favourite mince pies (the secret is they have cranberries as well as mince meat) has made me - you can't beat a good mince pie in the lead up to Christmas!

2. Kind-hearted people. Sometimes I think it passes me by how lovely and genuine some people really are. One of my Italian teachers from last year brought in a panettone today and we had a chat about how everything's going whilst enjoying a slice. It sounds soppy but I really do believe that the teachers who you can tell care make the biggest difference, and there're the ones I think I'll remember for years to come. So it was lovely to have that chat and be reminded of how wonderful a number of people truly are.

3. Christmas games/quizzes. In keeping with the Christmas theme (because no one can tell me now that I have to shut up about it when it's only NINE days away), we've been playing lots of Christmas games/quizzes today which has been really fun. Christmas pictionary, charades, and just general Christmas knowledge quizzes were played rather competitively and much more fun than doing work!

4. Catching up with friends. I know I mentioned this in my last happy list, but it's something that always makes me incredibly happy and it just so happens that I caught up with my friend, Tudor, over the weekend. He's just started his first year at university in England and he stayed at ours' before flying home yesterday morning. On Sunday evening we went out to Five Guys, which was *delicious*, and talked about a number of things, as always. We worked out that we've known each other for six years now, which just seems crazy and also really cringey thinking back to then when I was only twelve years old!

5. Taking time out to write. Because things have been so busy this term it feels like I haven't had time to write as much as I'd have liked to. I can't promise that this will happen, but I'm hoping that over the next three weeks I'll have a little more time to devote to writing and reflecting, and that definitely makes for a happy Anna!

What's making you happy at the moment?

Monday, 8 December 2014

On A Whirlwind Weekend & Two Years

This past weekend has been a bit of a whirlwind, in the best possible way. I started off Saturday morning by going for breakfast with my Mama at Bill's. Bill's really is my favourite place to go for breakfast and never fails to hit the spot whatever kind of breakfast mood I'm in, of which there can be many!

(One of my favourite photos of us.)

I then went to meet Harry to celebrate our two year anniversary. It seems crazy to me how quickly the time has gone and that we've now been together for two years. But it's also been so lovely to celebrate and I've never been happier. We went see his friends' band play at a Christmas fair (they were great) and then had some lunch there before going back to Harry's house. It felt so Christmassy around all the pretty stalls with Christmas music playing and drinking a glass of mulled wine. Mulled wine is definitely something that has suddenly grown on me. I had never been all that sure of it but recently I have to say I've really started to love it and must to agree with my friend, Kate, who described it as 'Christmas in a cup'.

Back at Harry's he gave me my present. As pictured, Hans is the fluffiest, cuddliest, cutest teddy bear I've ever owned. He's so soft and lovely to cuddle and it made me very happy to be given him! Harry and I decided just to do little presents as Christmas is so close and to go out and spend money on that instead for our anniversary. We went to this wonderful Italian restaurant. All the staff seemed to be Italian, the atmosphere was great, and there were Christmas crackers on the table; of which Harry won both, boo!

We shared a starter and I had the pasta penne pollo for my main, which was absolutely delicious. Although, for some reason I felt full really quickly and was only able to eat about a quarter of my pasta. It's so unlike me to get full so easily but the staff were great and made me up a little doggy bag which I had for lunch on Sunday! On the way back to Harry's we picked up a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream to eat while watching a film.

Then on Sunday we had a bit of a lazy day, watching the Graham Norton Show and talking in front of the fire until I made my way home. It really was a lovely lovely weekend and I feel very grateful for all the good things and people in my life.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

On St Nicholas Day (Sfantul Nicolae)

As I've probably mentioned before, the maternal side of my family is Romanian. So yesterday morning I woke up to this little package on my boots from 'Saint Nicholas' (read: my Gran!). It's a tradition celebrated in a lot of European countries which, if you're interested in, you can read about here and here. It's a lovely little tradition in which Father Christmas leaves both children and adults alike a little present in their boots to wake up to on the 6th December. It's almost like a little preview of what's to come at Christmas, which is always such a wonderful thing to wake up to just a few days into the festive period!

This year St Nicholas left me a beautiful top (in my exact size, how clever of him!) and some delicious truffle chocolates that I'm sure won't be around for long. I'm trying to be a little healthier at the moment but have rapidly realised that this is the most ridiculous time to attempt to be healthy; it's the greediest time of the year! Anyway, I digress. It really brightened my morning and reminded me how great my Gran is - she never fails to make sure both me and my Mum have something waiting for us on our boots for St Nicholas day. Festive traditions really are the best, aren't they?

Sunday, 30 November 2014

On 'Learning Life'


The other day my lovely Gran was giving me one of her famous pep talks, trying to cheer me up as I was being a bit grumpy. My Gran's always been such a wise person and I feel so grateful that I'm so close to her, it's a relationship that I know is rare and precious. Anyway, in the middle of our talk she suddenly said (in Romanian, which is why it doesn't make as much sense in English) "you're learning life right now, Anna". And, although that sounds a little strange directly translated into English, it really resonated with me. I've always been told that this period of life (late teens) is such an important time because it's when you begin to decide who and how you're going to be. I like to think of it as a time of becoming. And while I don't spend every minute reflecting on who I am/who I'm becoming, there's a definite sense of it in the back of my mind. So when my Gran said that to me the other day, it made me realise that I am learning life, in an odd way. Every decision I make and situation I'm in is ultimately shaping my future and every day I'm learning something new about this world we inhabit. I'm finding out both things about myself and about this life I live all the time. And really, it's my decision how I respond to that, how I act and what I do with this life I've been given. I want to have courage. To dare to do things I normally brush off and don't give a second glance at. The more I think about it the more I realise that I sometimes limit myself, and I don't want to do that anymore. It seems to me, from what I've learnt of life, that it's incredibly short, and beautiful, and painful at times. But the real sense I get is that all of it is worth it in the end. Maybe that's just blind optimism, I don't know. What I do know is that I don't want to look back at my life in however many years and feel as though I passed on great opportunities and didn't meet my potential because I chose the simple way. Because the thing is, life isn't simple, or at least, I think it isn't. From what I've experienced, it's bloody complicated, but that's the beauty of it. Beauty in complexity. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. But, I must say, I think there is an objective beauty in a life well-lived, in chances taken, and joy shared.

(This has been a bit of a sentimental and mish-mashed post, I just wanted to get down what's been floating around my head the past few days into a big splurge like I used to do; so here it is.)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Let's Catch Up

I've been hidden under a 'school pile' for the past few days, made up of history coursework, politics revision, and philosophy essays - not a nice place to be at all. As it's getting closer to Christmas (don't try and stop me being excited, it's less than a month away now!) I seem to be getting equally more and more stressed as I am excited. There's so much I need to do before the holidays and yet I don't really want to be doing it, I'd much rather be curled up in bed with a Costa Orange Hot Chocolate and Elf playing on my laptop. Nevertheless, I have managed to fit in a few pretty fun things between all the work I've been trudging through...

Last Friday I went for dinner at Wagamama with the girls, which was a really nice evening out. We've all been so busy recently that we hadn't really spent some proper time together in a while, making it much-needed and a hilarious evening. Then on Saturday Harry's family introduced me to Gogglebox and I must admit, having been sceptical of how entertaining watching other people watch tv could be, I was very much won over!

The highlight of the past week, however, was definitely meeting McBusted on Monday. Yes, it did involve standing in the cold on a Monday evening for two hours by the end of which I felt like my toes were going to fall off, BUT I essentially got to meet my childhood favourites (and current favourites, for that matter). Tom Fletcher seemed like such a genuine guy, he was just as lovely as he comes across as being so it was really sweet to meet him especially!

Yesterday was my friend Emma's 18th birthday so we ordered a giant Millie's cookie to go along with our present for her. It's safe to say Emma (and the rest of us) very much appreciated it, especially having it on a Tuesday lunchtime when you'll usually find me exhausted and dreaming of the weekend.

I don't think much else has gone on really, the next few days will equally be a mix of work and play - I really must try to get the work done first though! Hopefully next time I'll write less of a bits and pieces post and you'll find me a little sooner, preferably not under what feels like a massive pile of work...

Sunday, 16 November 2014

On Winter Mornings

Life's been a little hectic, of late. Isn't it always around this time of year though? Things are a bit difficult at the moment and while I said in my last post that I felt I was growing, I now feel as though I lost sight of myself and who I want to be a little, but I'm hoping to put that right.

I decided to let myself have a slow morning today and really take things in before starting some revision for a test, and it was really lovely to potter around and clear my head a bit. I woke up, read for a while in bed (the best way to start the day, fyi) and, when I felt ready to, I got out of bed and made myself my favourite porridge, as pictured. 

Everyone seems to have different ideas for what makes the yummiest porridge and, for me, it has to be with pear compote, bananas and some runny honey drizzled over the top - the perfect thing to lure me out of bed in the morning and warm me up. 

Feeling warmed up and energised, I thought I'd go for a quick run while I had the opportunity to and stopped to take a quick photo of these beautiful trees. Now, I've never been one to really appreciate nature (a streak I inherited from my Mum), but there's something about seeing how the leaves have changed on a crisp, winter morning, that just made me stop in my tracks so I could get a photo of it. 

Here's to slow, peaceful mornings that make the rest of the day spent working just that bit easier.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Currently #04


Reading :: I've just finished The Shock of The Fall by Nathan Filer. I thought it was such a well-written and poignant book that left me with a lot to think about - definitely my kind of book. I feel like the topic of mental illness in a book and in general is one that needs to be handled with care and respect and, for me, Filer did an impeccable job. I've seen a lot of people talking about this so I won't go on, but I would definitely recommend it if you're considering picking it up! Since finishing that I've picked up Allegiant by Veronica Roth and am almost halfway through it, two days later. I read the first two books in the Divergent trilogy when they came out a couple of years ago and loved them and the world Roth creates. Having almost completely forgotten the plot, however, I decided to read the first two again before starting the last one so I would be up to speed. I won't say more than that their concept has and does intrigue me and I'll be sad to come to the end of the trilogy, especially as my friend Lucy has warned me it's a little heartbreaking! It's safe to say that since my last 'currently' post, I have definitely been making the most of reading just for myself again and it's been really great.

Eating :: Porridge. And apples with sultanas. And cookies. (Not all at the same time.) I think I'll probably be dedicating a post to my current love affair with porridge soon, it's just the perfect autumn/winter breakfast and is the only thing that will get me out of bed in the mornings at the moment. Also my favourite thing to snack on at the moment, when I actually manage to avoid chocolate and cake, are apples and sultanas. They're just a really nice combination and quick fix when I'm a bit peckish and want something to tide me over. Similarly, cookies do just as good a job, and are good literally whenever, wherever, whatever my mood. They may not be quite as healthy as apples but nevertheless when I feel like I deserve a treat which I seem to a lot lately, they do just the job.

Thinking about :: Change and growing. I've been quite reflective of late, I think it's coming up to that time of year again where I endlessly think about the year passing and what I've achieved/what I've loved and what I hope to do in the next year. I really get the sense that I'm growing as a person a lot at the moment, which I know sounds like an odd thing to say, and I can't quite put my finger on what I mean by that myself yet, it's just what I feel. I think I'm becoming more 'myself', if that makes any sense, and am actually enjoying the process of learning a little more about who that is.

Watching :: The Downton Abbey series finale and Made in Chelsea. Downton always seems to go far too quickly for my liking but I think it's been another great series, that forever makes me want to grow up/live in the 1920s! Made in Chelsea is the perfect 'fix' when I'm exhausted and want to switch off a bit and get lost in whether or not Louise has cheated on Alik... or the other way round, what do people think?!

Loving :: The feeling that Christmas isn't too far off. For some reason I'm feeling extra excited this year, and as soon as Halloween was over I felt like Christmas was just around the corner. I'm loving all the Christmas adverts coming out, Costa and Starbucks' festive drinks, and thinking about visiting Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park again, it's such a lovely time of year. Mind you, I've only bought one present so far so I need to get a move on if I want to be organised!

Monday, 3 November 2014

On Halloween

I don't usually do much for Halloween - I remember dressing up once with my Dad one year when I was little and carving pumpkins but apart from that we've never really made a huge deal out of it and I've usually stayed in. This year, however, my friend Alex had a little gathering, and it turned out to be a really nice evening.

As you can see, I dressed up as a cat which, admittedly, didn't involve an abundance of effort but was a really fun thing to dress up as and is, of course, a classic Halloween look. The night was spent playing a few drinking games, dancing and singing to some classics, and trying to avoid (and failing miserably) hitting a wooden pole when swinging myself on Alex's swing. All in all, a fab night with some lovelies. I'm definitely up for doing it all again, or something similar, next Halloween!

It was also so nice to catch up with Rosie and Hannah and spend a couple of nights with them talking about the future and everything else that's been on our minds/happening in our lives. Those girls really do make my heart happy and they're really something special when it comes to being my best friends. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

On My Happy List

Over the past couple of days I've developed quite a nasty sore throat which has left me feeling a little down in the dumps and overly sorry for myself. It's needless to say that a pyjama day was inevitable and, while it's been nice to stay curled up in bed with cups of tea and movies like Ferris Bueller's Day Off to keep me company today, I thought I'd better wake myself up a little and think about the things that are making me happy right now. So without further ado...

1. Looking through old photographs and reminiscing. The one below is with my lovely Hannah on holiday in Wales last year. It was the most wonderful week and looking back through the photos has made me long to relive it all over again.

2. Hundreds and hundreds of cups of tea. I've probably said this before but I'll say it again: nothing can make things seem a little brighter than a cup of tea (and preferably a slice of cake). It's the answer to all life's problems, or at least part of the solution, and has been lifting my mood through this ghastly sore throat.

3. Harry. Sorry to be a complete sop but he's been so great over the past weekend and we had such a nice day together on Sunday watching a film, - The Book Thief, which I thought wasn't as good as the book but was a fab watch nevertheless -  baking, eating a delicious roast dinner, and watching his friends' band play at the local pub. Perfect. 

4. Taylor Swift's new album, 1989. I actually went out to get this on Monday when it came out (I've accepted that I'm a dedicated fangirl) and haven't stopped listening to it since. It's very different to her old stuff but I actually like that, she's such a diverse artist and I maintain that whatever mood you're in, there's a Taylor Swift song for it - if that doesn't say great artist what does?!

5. Having plans to catch up with my favourite people. The next couple of days should be great, I'm staying at my Rosie's tomorrow and catching up with my girls before going to see Harry's friends' band play again at a different pub and the next day Rosie and Hannah are staying at mine and we're going to a Halloween party in the evening. Let's hope this sore throat clears off sharpish!

There we go then. Five things that are making me happy and a little less mope-y at the moment. They're such fun lists to put together so I have a feeling they'll be a few more soon!

Friday, 24 October 2014

On What I've Been Up To In Numbers

So considering I have almost SEVEN weeks worth of stuff to catch up on (seriously, how did that happen?!), I thought the best, most fun, and probably shortest way to do it would be in numbers, so here you go..

5 :: parties attended, one formal, one Gatsby-themed, one festival-themed, one with cocktails and one with loots of dancing, all of which I got a little drunk at!

20+ :: of us, Harry's family members and me, at Harry's Nan's birthday party which was celebrated over a delicious afternoon tea.

2 :: times I've cooked for a homeless drop-in, which I'm really loving, and will be doing again next month.

1 :: boyfriend's 18th birthday which we went out for with his family.

1 :: Saturday night in which I had THE time of my life getting dressed up as a 1920s flapper girl - definitely the best era and so much fun with all the girls and guys.

2 :: long-haul train journeys in one day up to York and back to have a mooch about the university and decide what I thought.

1 :: driving test passed and shiny driving licence in my purse!

6.5 :: maximum hours sleep had sleeping in a tent after Harry's festival-themed birthday party, the next day as I'm sure you can imagine was rough.

15(or so) :: lovely friends caught up with at my wonderful Hannah's 18th party.

2 :: breakfasts out two weeks in a row, one at Cafe Rouge with my best Rosie and the other with three of my favourite girls at Bill's.

32 :: brownies baked for lessons at school

10 :: pilates lessons gone to over the past few weeks, it really is the best thing on a Monday night when you've got that blues feeling.

2 :: theatre trips, one to see Ballyturk for Harry's birthday, which I really enjoyed, and the other in Liverpool with my sister Meg called Juno and the Paycock which was also very good.

16 :: hours spent sleeping over a long weekend staying with Harry at my sister's in Liverpool, was so lovely to catch up with her and to introduce her to Harry.

0.5 :: hours spent so far planning my gap year travelling with Rosie.

1.5 :: inches of hair cut off at the hairdressers on Wednesday, it wasn't much off but my hair feels so much healthier!

Phew, I think that's everything, so you haven't really missed that much, have you?? ;)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

On Days

Days can seem to go on forever, can't they? They can seem like ages and lifetimes and yet they're gone all at once. Even when I get into bed after a really great day and open my diary to note it all down, trying to capture everything that happened in a few sentences, thinking back just to the start of that day seems like it happened forever ago. It's funny how time both goes and doesn't seem to go at all, if that makes any sense. 

Excuse the thought splurge above - those ideas have just been going around my head for the last couple of days. I haven't written anything on here for a bit. It's half because I've been ridiculously busy over the past month and a half and that school work has had to become my priority and half that I've been trying to figure some things out and not wanted to write until I had done that. 

The latter sounds very vague, I know. I suppose I've wanted to just 'be' for a while and not felt like writing things out on the internet. Although right now I definitely feel like I want to write again so here I am! I've been up to so much recently which has been lovely but also exhausting. At the moment I'm in the first of two weeks I've got off, which has been the perfect opportunity to recuperate and get back to feeling 100%. I suppose now that I feel like that it's inevitable I'd come back to writing here!

Anyway, just a brief one today and a jumble of my thoughts, I'll hopefully write tomorrow about the things I've been up to lately!xo

Saturday, 13 September 2014

On The Things That Bring Me Comfort

1. Hugs with people that make me feel safe and loved.
2. Warm cups of tea.
3. Watching films under the duvet.
4. Reading.
5. Prayer.
6. Knowing I will keep learning until the day I die.
7. My lovely family.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

On A Weekend In Exeter

Oddly this is the only photo I took from the weekend, was much too busy taking everything in, but it did make me giggle as Mum and I walked past!

On Friday evening Mum and I met at Paddington station, hopped on a train and headed for Exeter. I had booked to go to the Exeter University open day and we decided to go down the night before as we didn't quite fancy catching a 2:30 hour train to arrive at 9am on the Saturday!

I stupidly didn't take any photos of anything but I was just enjoying some quality time with Mum.We stayed in The Rougemont Hotel, which had a lovely room but was pretty pricey for what it was and considering that breakfast wasn't included.

Once we'd arrived we went for a little wander around the town to get our bearings and have a little look at everything. Having never been to Exeter, I took an almost immediate liking to it, but we soon went back to the hotel to catch some much-needed zzz's.

The next morning Mum and I went for breakfast at Bill's, which was delicious as always. We then walked up to the Exeter University campus, which was a good half an hour walk - perfect after a big breakfast!

We spent the open day going to subject talks, having tours and I even bumped into one of my friends from my old school, so it was really lovely to catch up with him. I suppose it isn't the strangest of places to bump into someone being my age and looking at a university, but it felt crazy to see someone in Exeter when you're both based in London/Surrey!

Later on, I met up with the lovely Lucy, who also went to the open day that day. It was fab to chat with her and catch up on everything with an ice cream in the sun. After catching up, I went and found Mum who had been wandering around talking to subject lecturers, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if she applied herself she loved it so much.

Before we caught the train back to London we had a bit of time for some shopping but before we knew it we were back in London. It was such a nice couple of days, if not also incredibly tiring, and has given me a lot of clarity about universities and where I think I might like to go! 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

On My Morning Week-Day Routine

1. Alarm wakes me up at 6:30am (it is *painful* getting up that early).
2. Crawl to the shower and wash my hair every other day.
3. Put my dressing gown on and brush my hair.
4. If I've washed my hair I blow-dry it, whilst catching up on some blog reading.
5. Grab some weetabix and honey, eat in front of blog reading.
6. Brush my teeth and moisturise my face.
7. Put my suit on.
8. Sort out my hair and face (this is often time-consuming!).
9. Check I've got everything in my bag.
10. Watch some YouTube videos if I have time.
11. If not, get straight out the door!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

On A Week In Dorset

 As I briefly mentioned since getting back, Dorset came at exactly the right time for me. After a few days of feeling a little down in the dumps about summer ending and other little things, getting away with the girls for six days to the beautiful English seaside and two days of sunbathing weather thrown in, I was feeling like a pretty lucky gal.

I think I've just been feeling a little nostalgic over the past few weeks, I've just started my last year ever at school, I've got the whole process of applying to university starting to already stressing out, and I'm busy every weekend until the end of October. I guess it just feels like life has suddenly got so busy. And I don't feel like I've even got time to breathe. Inevitably, not all of this went away on holiday with the girls, feelings have a habit of lurking where they're unwanted, don't they? But it did cheer me up and take my mind off it all for a while.

We stayed in Lyme Regis which is such a beautiful seaside town. I think I'll most-probably always be more of a city girl, but I love escaping to seaside towns for breaks whenever possible. There's something I find so peaceful about being by the sea which is something you just don't get in the same way in London.

As you can probably imagine with six girls on holiday, with three of us sharing a double bed, many films were watched, much food was eaten, and lots of laughing was had. We even threw in the ALS ice bucket challenge and a workout midway through the week, which I was still aching from three days later (my friend Flo is a rower - it's safe to say I'm not letting her lead a workout ever again!).

 Despite the town being stunning, the sun putting his hat on for us (even if only for two days out of six), the many films watched, Frozen sing-a-longs, not losing at mini golf (which is a miracle) and alcohol consumed, the best part of the week was definitely having some much-needed girl time. I really have the most wonderful friends, and after such a busy summer and what's bound to be an even busier year, it was fab to spend some quality time with them before the craziness begins.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

On My 'To Read' Pile

A couple of weekends ago Mum and I went for lunch at Cafe Rouge in London Bridge, followed by a look around the Riverside Bookshop. It's become a bit of a tradition of ours to do just this and it was wonderful to have some mother-daughter catch up time.

My Mum used to work at Guy's Hospital in London Bridge so has been coming to this bookshop for years, it's such a lovely shop with some equally-lovely staff who never fail to recommend some books to add to my ever-growing pile of what I want to read. So, having bought three new books (I can never leave empty-handed) and an audiobook on recommendation, I thought I would share them with you as I'm very excited to read them!

'Eat My Heart Out' by Zoe Pilger's blurb: Ann-Marie is twenty-three, her life has collapsed, and she's blaming everyone but herself. Heartbroken, skint and furious, she's convinced that love (sweet love!) is the answer to her problems, until she meets the legendary feminist Stephanie Haight, a woman who could be her saviour - or her final undoing. From a neo-burlesque pop-up strip club, to an iconic Little Mermaid-themed warehouse party, via disastrous one-night stands with extravagantly unsuitable men, naked cleaning jobs, a forced appearance on Woman's Hour and baby boomer house parties in Islington, Ann-Marie hurtles through London and through life, urged on by Stephanie, who is convinced that if she can save Ann-Marie she'll rescue an entire generation from the curse of ironic detachment.

'Eat My Heart Out' was published this year and is Pilger's first novel. This book sounded a bit different to anything I've been reading recently and, even if it doesn't turn out to be my cup of tea, I have no doubt that it'll be entertaining so, as I'm coming out of a bit of a reading slump at the moment, this book was immediately added to the top of my reading pile. 

'A Girl is a Half-formed Thing' by Eimear McBride's blurb: Eimear McBride's award-winning debut novel tells the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, it is a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist. To read A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator's head, experiencing her world at first hand. This isn't always comfortable - but it is always a revelation.

Another book that has been published recently and a debut novel. It feels like I've been seeing this book everywhere over the last few months. I know this probably isn't what should make you buy a book but I am just captivated by the title for some reason. That, combined with the idea of truly getting to know the protagonist of a book meant that this was straight on the pile too. I have a feeling that this book is going to be a pretty heavy one but I'm hoping that it's also going to be a fantastic read.

'Tenth of December' by George Saunders' blurb: George Saunders' most wryly hilarious and disturbing collection yet, Tenth of December illuminates human experience and explores figures lost in a labyrinth of troubling preoccupations. A family member recollects a backyard pole dressed for all occasions; Jeff faces horrifying ultimatums and the prospect of Darkenfloxx in some unusual drug trials; and Al Roosten hides his own internal monologue behind a winning smile that he hopes will make him popular. With dark visions of the future riffing against ghosts of the past and the ever-settling present, this collection sings with astonishing charm and intensity.

I'm not usually one to pick up short stories, although my Mum can barely wait for me to read Salinger's, this was entirely picked up as a result of it being recommended in the shop. I'm not all that sure what to expect from this book, but I'm quite excited to give it a go and see what I make of Saunders' short stories in Tenth of December.

'The Fry Chronicles' by Stephen Fry's blurb: Stephen Fry arrived at Cambridge on probation: a convicted fraudster and thief, a fantasist and failed suicide, convinced that at any moment he would be found out and flung away. Instead, university life offered him love, romance and the chance to stand on stage and entertain. He met and befriended young things like Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie and emerged as one of the most promising comic talents in the country. This is the utterly compelling story of how Stephen began to make his presence felt as he took his first tentative steps in the worlds of television, radio, theatre and film. Shameful tales of sugar, shag and champagne jostle with insights into credit cards, classic cars and conspicuous consumption, Blackadder, Broadway and the BBC. 

Before I found this I'd been looking for an audiobook for quite a while. I've found that when I can't sleep they're perfect to put on and stop me over-thinking a million things which basically delay sleeping even more than it already has been in the first place! This one is perfect for me as, not only is it not too heavy that I don't have to concentrate much in my sleepy state, but I also absolutely love Stephen Fry like 99% of our population do and am loving hearing snippets of his life at university read by the very man himself.  

So that's everything that's currently sitting on my bedside table waiting to be read (apart from the audiobook which is in my cd player). I'm hoping to get through them relatively quickly so that I can read as many books as possible before the end of the year! What have you been reading recently? I'd love some recommendations.
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