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

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Month 02

I'm currently sitting at my laptop with a big cup of tea in my beloved Cath Kidston mug and a box of chocolates my Dad gave me for my birthday last week after a long day at school, not a bad position to be in, if I say so myself. Having said that, every other day this week I seem to have been overloaded with work so decided to give myself a bit of a break this evening. I cannot wait for this week to be over - I always find the first week back after a holiday rather draining.

Anyway, it is the last day of February today (anybody else terrified by how fast it went?!) so I thought I'd keep up with my monthly updates of little things I have accomplished in a specific month.

In February I...

Read: Finished Paper Towns by John Green (which I wrote about here), Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart, very much in love with her sitcom and apparently her writing too, I found it difficult to keep myself from laughing out loud for the majority of this book. I am halfway through Emma by Jane Austen, which I am reading for my school book club, I found it slow at first but am enjoying it much more now, I really appreciate the simplicity of Emma's observations.

Watched for the first time: I Give It A Year - My friend Mackinlay and I went to see this at the cinema just over a week ago, it's become a bit of a tradition of ours to go to the cinema, watch some form of romcom and go for dinner afterwards and so I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. It is still a romcom and not at all life changing, however, it wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be and the whole film was exactly my kind of humour, so was brilliant for a laugh with one of my best friends. Lay The Favourite - My mum and I tried to watch this film mainly because we have an unhealthy love appreciation for Joshua Jackson and were hoping to enjoy it, we tried it for half an hour before giving up, it was horrifically boring and I would not recommend it if you're thinking of watching it. Wicked - People have been telling me to see it for what seems like forever and I finally did, it's fair to say I thought it was impeccable and already want to go again. Quartermaine's Terms - an excellent play, wrote about it in detail here.

Bought (music on my iPod): Wicked Soundtrack, Loose Change by Ed Sheeran, In Case You Didn't Know by Olly Murs.

Bought (clothes): I have a Forever 21 voucher from by godparents for my birthday which I have yet to spend, a Topshop lace blouse which I wore on my birthday and you can see here. I also bought a prom dress, I'm so relieved to have found one I really like and it was only £99, which I'm so happy with.

At school: Got my exam timetable, which was terrifying, there are only around 10 weeks till my exams start, quite frankly makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. I also signed up to help make the yearbook, not that I know quite what that will entail as of yet, but I hope it will be fun.

Out of school: Bought the One Line A Day diary, I love the idea of it and am really enjoying having a way of keeping a record of the little things that happen day to day without having to write masses at the end of a long day. Had the sweetest Valentine's Day with Harry. It was my 16th birthday on the 18th February and I spent an amazing day with the people I'm closest to. For my present my mum took me for a facial at 37 Degrees in London Bridge, the people there were so lovely, couldn't have asked for better service and they were kind enough to give us each a £30 voucher for Espa. Espa are a brand which create natural skin care products, which they used for my facial, I was so happy to receive this voucher as my skin care routine is awful so this meant that I could afford to spend a little more than I usually would on an amazing product.

Okay I think that's most things, I apologise for the mass of writing you have today, congratulations if you got through it all ;) February has treated me very well, I feel so lucky at the moment for the life I have. I just hope I can keep up with the workload in the next few months - I'm sure it will be worth it in the end!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Recently I'm Reading

It's never been much of a secret that I am quite the bookworm, I was thinking about this the other day and realised I hadn't really written about any books on here. So that's what I decided to do. I thought I'd write about two books today. One is my favourite book in the world and I'm pretty sure I could ramble on about its amazingness forever but I won't put you through that because frankly, it'd get annoying. The second is by the same author and is another wonderful read but is not quite as great as the first in my opinion.

They are The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns by John Green. I've also read Looking For Alaska by John Green but I didn't enjoy it as much as these two and I've also mislaid it somewhere in my house so didn't have the chance to look back through it and find my favourite bits.

Okay so Paper Towns' blurb goes like this: "Who is the real Margo? Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. She has disappeared. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance ...and they are for him. Trailing Margo's disconnected path across the USA, the closer Q gets, the less sure he is of who he is looking for." 

It's about a teenage girl who I think it is fair to say is a little bit lost and looks at life in a very different way, and a boy who learns that not everybody can be saved, one of the most important lessons to learn. Green writes wonderfully; in my experience of his writing I've found that he depicts adolescents perfectly, which is not as easy to do as it may seem. His characters are incredibly believable and I found myself desperate to find out where the story ended up. I don't want to write too much about it, but it made me think. Just as I've written before, when I visited the theatre, I love it when things make me think. Not in the simple sense of the word, as humans we're constantly thinking about something or other, but when something makes me think more profoundly about the world we're living in, I cannot recommend it enough. And Paper Towns did just that for me, it's a lot about not knowing where you're going, a feeling of not belonging and a fear of the unknown, something I think we can all relate to. I'm not going to write about vocabulary, or plot, or imagery, that's not really me, but I doubt I will forget this book in a hurry. 

The Fault In Our Stars is the best book I've ever read. It changed my life a little when I read it. It didn't just make me think like Paper Towns, it went further. I don't know how to explain it but I've never found a book that's so 'me'. My friend Grace recommended it to me a long time ago and she said exactly the same thing, that it was an 'Anna book'. And if you know that it's about a teenage girl with cancer you might think that is a little strange, but every page of this book was incredible to me. It is both tragic and hilarious in equal measure. Here's the blurb: '"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once."
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.'

It explores a hell of a lot of ideas about life and death in just 313 pages, which I personally think is pretty damn impressive. I'm so tempted to just type my favourite quotes here in the hope that it will convince you to read it, but they're better to read if you're reading the book yourself. I've never had such an insight into what it must be like to have an illness that means you could expect to die at any time, death has always been a massive fear of mine (even though it is, of course, inevitable) and the way Green writes through his characters about their ideas of death really intrigued me. I'm sure I've now made The Fault In Our Stars sound incredibly morbid, but honestly, although it is at times incredibly sad, for the majority of the book I was laughing and smiling as Green does humour so well. 

Unfortunately I have school tomorrow so should get an early night and cannot continue to rant about how amazing these books are. But I'm sure you can see my reviews aren't really like others. I tend to just write what they made me think about, because for me that's what books are for: thinking and inspiration. I hope you enjoyed it anyway. 


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

My 16th Birthday

It's a couple of days after my birthday but I have since been sorting through photos, making collages and outing to the cinema and Nando's with my friend Mackinlay. I truly had the most wonderful day. It began with my Mum coming in to my room and waking me up (the only day of the year on which this action is acceptable with the exception of Christmas) to wish me a happy birthday. Then I went and opened my presents and cards from her and my Gran. Mum bought me a spa day in London with her on Saturday which I cannot wait for and my Gran was kind enough to give me some money and a beautiful card.

When I was ready my friends and boyfriend arrived and I opened their cards and presents - Cluedo from Harry, best game ever - and we proceeded to go to the station to get the train to London. Once we got to London Victoria we went to M&S and continued to buy almost the entirety of the shop for our lunch. We got the tube to Hyde Park Corner where we sat on the grass and had a picnic. I was incredibly lucky with the weather, after all these gloomy months we had a beautifully sunny day for my birthday. This was when the majority of my birthday photos were taken as the setting and weather were perfect, as you can see we passed a lot of time laughing and posing for photos there.

The piggy back on front and back of Rosie took a lot longer than expected to orchestrate.

We then used the Barclay's Boris Bikes and rode around the cycle paths in Hyde Park, it was found that I am increasingly slow when cycling, much to the others' disappointment. I suppose I can't really explain myself - I just feel safer going slowly! However, it was beautiful to look around the park from a bike, even if someone had to babysit ride with me at the back.

After this we took the tube to Covent Garden to visit Creme de la Crepe, I am sure I have mentioned my love for this creperie before but if you've forgotten you can see it again here. By this time we were all rather exhausted so caught the train home and came to my house for cake. My Mum ordered a specially designed cake for me from a wonderful Italian cafe in Putney, which was delicious. Everyone sang happy birthday and I progressed to spend the next 10 minutes contemplating how to cut into such an enormous cake. 

Anyone who knows me well is aware of my love and competitiveness when it comes to board games, hence why on most occasions everyone refuse to play with me, rude I know ;) Despite this, they selflessly agreed to play Cluedo with me on my birthday. And so we did. I had forgotten how much I love Cluedo - I used to play it with my Dad and sisters all the time. Unfortunately I did not win, but I didn't mind, I had had the best day I could possibly wish for. My birthday was filled with laughing, hugging, smiling, eating and talking. It's the best one I've had for years. I can't explain how lucky I feel to have all these wonderful people in my life, they made it great. So, 16 years old and currently loving life, I don't believe it gets much better.


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is an interesting one, many cringe at the very thought, whereas others very much look forward to the day that we are unlikely to forget as it has become so commercialised. I have always loved the idea of it. For me, Valentine's doesn't represent the things you now see plastered all over tv, magazines and the internet for the duration of February, I choose to ignore them. It instead represents the idea of appreciating someone in your life whom you love very much, and who deserves to know so.

I remember a couple of years ago on Valentine's Day we were in school and had an English lesson and our teacher showed us the poem Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy, which, although portrays a controversial idea of love and Valentine's Day, I still found very interesting to read. It's strange how memories that didn't seem that important make you think about things a few years later, and realise how much has changed.

Anyway, this Valentine's was the first one I've had with a boyfriend. And as this week seems to have dragged on and on, so I was very much looking forward to it. Harry came to mine after school, a beautiful bunch of tulips in hand (also a first for me, I've never had flowers from a boy), a card and chocolates. Call me soppy but I am a hopeless romantic really and I thought it was incredibly sweet of him. We then later went for dinner at Pizza Express, which was delicious as it always is. Afterwards we came back to mine and watched some Friends, because why wouldn't you? ;)

I'm a bit of a sucker for the little things and I really am truly happy. Harry makes me laugh, smile and feel that much better about myself, things which I cannot thank him enough for. I had the most wonderful time with him this evening. I hope you all had fabulous Valentine's as well! 


Monday, 11 February 2013

Quartermaine's Terms

So I've been rather lazy with this for the past couple of weeks, things kept coming up that got in the way of blogging. But here I am, once again. This weekend I was lucky enough to go to London to see Quartermaine's Terms at the Wyndham's Theatre, starring Rowan Atkinson. My Mum has always been extremely devoted to going to the theatre and therefore I have seen a number of incredible plays, which I am very thankful for. For me, it was incredibly interesting to see Rowan Atkinson play a serious part. At first I kept expecting him to revert back to Mr Bean or Blackadder, whom I don't deny being incredibly fond of. Rowan Atkinson was wonderful though and although showed some signs of previous comedic characters he has played, overall played his part wonderfully.

In my opinion the main theme of this play is loneliness. It's set in a staffroom of a Cambridge school in the early 1960's and is centred around 7 members of staff, which sounds quite boring but is actually ideal to explore the idea of Atkinson's role's loneliness. I think something the majority of human beings are all united in (and sadly there aren't many things in which we are any more) is the fear of loneliness. It is saddening to think that there are now 7 billion people on this planet and yet so many of them are lonely. It's a thought that scares me on many occasions, even though I am lucky enough to be surrounded by some very great people. Because loneliness could come into any of our lives, at any point and I've always believed that the worst thing is to feel alone in a crowded room. But it still happens.

That is why I love going to the theatre, it really makes you think. Long after I've seen a play I still find myself thinking about the ideas it evokes, and wondering whether others feel the same. I have no intention of revealing the story of the play but I will say that the entire cast were stunning and although I have probably made it sound rather depressing there were many hilarious elements to it as well, it was not a rare occasion that I found myself laughing at something being said on stage. I highly recommend going if you have the chance, it really was stunning.

On a completely different note, I am going to see Wicked next weekend - which I think will be a little different to Quartermaine's Terms, however, I am looking forward to it immensely after having wanted to see if for years! It is also my birthday and half term in a week so I have quite a lot to look forward to! I can't express how happy I am to have a break in a few days, this term has been a very long one.
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