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

Thursday, 27 February 2014

On Journal Day #02

We all have songs that really mean something to us. Often just hearing it can take us right back to that place and we are able to re-experience the memory associated with the song. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but either way music has the ability to really draw things out of us and evoke deep emotion. Choose a song that has a particular meaning to you. Tell the story of the memory associated with the song, sharing as much detail as you can. Take us there; let us experience it with you.

Music has meant so much to me for as long as I can remember. I've always been fascinated by lyrics and they are what have lead me to become infatuated with songs. There are those certain songs that I can just relate to, in every line. I think music can be such a comfort when you realise that you aren't the only one who has felt a certain way. When I read this prompt I had to think for a while; so many songs to choose from... should I choose a recent one... one that is linked with sad or happy memories - the thought track went on. 

I suddenly remembered the first time I heard She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5. I was twelve years old, in the mountains in Romania for the first time, with my best friends and our parents. We were driving across the mountains, having had an amazing day exploring quarries (trust me, it was more exciting than it sounds). The first few bars of She Will Be Loved played through the stereo and something just stopped me from carrying on the conversation I was having about something or other to just listen. 

Maybe we were tired, maybe we just wanted a break from talking, whatever it was, we all shut up for the first time in a long while and listened. As the song went on I was drawn into it more and more. I loved the lyrics and Adam Levine's voice. I thought about myself, right at that moment, and on how things were starting to change. I was starting to grow and become more self-aware. It's an odd age, being on the brink of adolescence. I was still very much a child, spending my holidays with family friends that ranged from one year to four years older than me. I found that interesting too, and listening to the song, I thought about all this and what kind of person I would become. I was very aware of myself in that moment, possibly for the first time, and I wasn't thinking about things that children think about all day long, I'd allowed myself to properly think about everything. 

Before I knew it the song came to an end and we had arrived at the house we were staying in. I remember feeling surprised but content. I felt peaceful and happy and amazed, all at the same time. This may not be an incredibly significant moment in my life, but I think it was defining and I always find myself back in that car, with the feeling of possibility surrounding me, whenever I hear She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5. 

Read previous Journal Day entries here.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

On My Half-Term Roundup

Half term came and left much too quickly as it always seems to. February half term is always a favourite of mine because, as mentioned a million times, my birthday almost always falls within it. In recent years, it also marks the last 'proper' holiday I get until the summer when exams are over, which is why it's become so depressing returning to school following it. 

This half term was a really great one, so I thought I'd type up a roundup of what I got up to, just to depress myself even more now that I'm back at sixth form!

Day 01. I'm going to count this as the Friday we broke up because that was Valentine's day so after school I cooked Harry dinner and we went to see Her, which I wrote about here

Day 02. I had been determined to get all my homework done on the first day of the holidays, in the hope that I could spend the rest of the holidays properly relaxing instead of preoccupying myself with the knowledge that I would have to get it done. So amazingly, I actually managed to do just that. I stayed at my desk working from about 11am to 8pm (with breaks for lunch and dinner). It's safe to say I collapsed in front of the tv at the end of it, but it was so worth it. 

Day 03. With the same mentality in my mind (honestly, I was so proud of myself, how sad is that?!), I knew that I needed to get my Extended Project Qualification done in the holiday, you can read about what that is here if you're interested. It's basically a mini dissertation of 6,000 words on a topic of your choice with structured guidelines. I chose to do mine on the topic of euthanasia and what the impact would be of making it legal in the UK. Similarly to Saturday, I barely left my desk on Sunday to get this done following all the research I had carried out. I can't tell you what a wave of relief I felt when I finished typing it. 

Day 04. Ah, Monday. The first day where I officially didn't have to do any work. I set aside this day just to have some 'me' time, something I often don't have enough time to do. I went shopping to find something to wear for my birthday and settled on a dress from Topshop. After catching up on a lot of tv I went out for my first driving lesson in the evening (on a private road as my birthday wasn't until the next day). I was so nervous before starting but I actually really enjoyed myself and was so happy to have finally started to learn.

Day 05. MY BIRTHDAY!! I started off the day with another driving lesson, practicing left turns and changing gears. I wrote a post entirely dedicated to this day so if you missed that you can read about it here.

Day 06. I relished my lie-in and, once I'd got ready, hopped on the train to Harry's. It was his friend Tom's birthday so Harry had him and a few friends round and we ordered pizza, talked and watched tv. They left and Harry and I watched a bit of the Brits and, being the elderly couple that we are, had an early night!

Day 07. We started the day with a bacon and melted cheese sandwich, I've got to admit, Harry makes pretty damn good bacon sandwiches. Deciding that we didn't want to move for the majority of the rest of the day (lazy, us?!), we stuck on The Aviator. I really enjoyed it, actually. However, I did think that three hours was a bit excessive, the film didn't really need that, in my opinion, and could have been cut down a bit. We then finally went out to dogsit for Harry's cousin. She has a puppy French Bulldog called Peppa and another lovely dog called Dexter. They were very cute and it was fun looking after them. When we got back to Harry's we were shattered so we had a quick hot chocolate and slice of leftover banana birthday cake and went off to bed. 

Day 08. Harry's alarm woke us up, which was not a nice start to the day, because we had to dogsit again for the morning. The dogs made up for it though, very, very cute. I then came home and relaxed a while, catching up on tv and with my family.

Day 09. Saturday. The depressing moment when you realise the holidays are almost over arrives on this day. But I ignored it and headed into London to meet with my Mum's best friend Thea and her five month old baby. It was so great to catch up with them, I never feel like I get to see them enough. I then went back to Harry's because his Uncle and Aunty were coming round for dinner. It was a hilarious night including dinner, Jenga, and Pass The Bomb playing. 

Day 10. We had a massive breakfast at Harry's house, watched Step Brothers (oh how I love that film!) and then I decided I should go home to get everything sorted out for Monday, which I can assure you, was extremely unexciting. 

So there you have it, it was lovely to spend a lot of time with Harry because I usually only get to see him once a week during term time and it was lovely to catch up with other people and just relax a bit. Sorry for the sheer rambling this post includes, if you've got this far, give yourself a massive pat on the back or reward yourself with looking at the beautiful pictures from the past week of my life!

Trying on the dress I bought for my birthday!

The sweetest card I received from my Mum's friend's son Oliver

Lou and me

Me and Harry

Peppa the puppy

Birthday dinner

Dinner cooked for Harry on Valentine's Day


Monday, 24 February 2014

On Qualities

I think in recent times it's become the norm to put ourselves down, compare ourselves to others and be afraid to give ourselves compliments. Of course, this leads to us feeling pretty crappy about ourselves at times. At least, I know that happens to me. So this list is a great way for me to remind myself that among the flaws that we all inevitably possess, I do have qualities.  

1. I can be funny. 
2. I'm hard-working.
3. I'm organised.
4. I listen and when I listen, I truly care about what the other person is going through.
5. I try my hardest to be there whenever anyone needs me. 
6. If I set myself a goal, I'll do all I can to achieve it.
7. I write the people I love letters (mostly on their birthdays) to remind them how wonderful they are.
8. I can make pretty damn good chocolate brownies, if I do say so myself!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

On Journal Day #01

A couple of years ago Danielle (whose blog I adore!) used to run a feature that I loved, called Journal Day, the idea of it is explained in this post if you want to find out what it's all about. A few months ago I reverted a lot of the posts I'd written from before a year or so ago to drafts because I felt that so much had changed since then and I decided I didn't really want them published on the internet. But I remember writing these posts with a lot of fondness so I'm very happy that Danielle has brought Journal Day back.

The prompt for this week is: Everyone has a time in their life they view as a crossroad. Sometimes you can see it as it's happening, and you're able to choose one way or another. Other times you may not realize you're there until you look back, and see what a turning point it really was. This week, write about a time you view as a marker in your life; a distinct place where things changed, for better or worse. 

The first thing I thought of when I read this prompt was last year. It was the moment I found out that I'd received an offer of a full bursary for the school I'm now at. I think it was in March and I was at a concert with a couple of my friends and it genuinely felt like my world had crumbled. (Please excuse the over-dramatic teenage-ness!) Getting into this school with a bursary meant that I really was moving house and leaving the school I'd been at for five years. 

Looking back on it I feel like I completely overreacted. But I don't think at that point I'd been subject to such a big change for years and I had no idea how to take it. I wanted to stay in my safe world, the one that I knew, the only one I'd ever truly known. I knew that I had to make a decision, whether to accept the move or try and fight my mum on it. At first I was determined to stay. However, it soon became obvious that I couldn't really fight this change and that I was going to have to give it a chance.

I remember feeling sick with fear. As someone who likes to plan ahead, it's not easy to have absolutely no idea whatsoever what's going to happen in the next six months of your life. I was worried about my friends, Harry, starting a private school when all I'd known was a state, I managed to make the worry list go on and on. 

But you know what? I got through it. Here I am, seven months down the line and I'm okay. In fact I'm better than okay. Everything worked out and I love the new school I'm at, it just took some time to adjust. Hindsight is such a strange and wonderful thing, isn't it? I now feel so grateful for this experience and the fact that I've been through a change. It's helped me to be more independent, feel more secure and broaden my horizons. 

I think I'll always look back at that time as a distinct moment in my life when I had to go through the first real big change, but boy am I glad I did. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

On My 17th Birthday

Yesterday was my 17th birthday, it was such a wonderful day. I've always been very lucky to have my birthday fall in the February half term so I usually always do something on my actual birthday seeing as I have the whole day off to do it. Unfortunately I had to wake up early for it though as I had my second driving lesson at 8 o'clock. It was definitely worth it though, although driving half terrifies me when I think about it I really enjoyed my lesson and think I'm much more relaxed when I'm actually doing it.

When I got home I opened my presents from my Mum and Gran. Mum got me a bracelet and The Great Gatsby dramatised cd. I'm pretty sure if people keep buying me Gatsby presents I will start to seem crazy - I now have the book, the dvd, a Gatsby poster and of course this cd version! My Gran gave me some money and a new top from Topshop which I love.

I started to get ready and my friend Lucy came round to help me and soon we were off to a family friend's house who were kind enough to let me use their house to have some friends round for a birthday dinner and games. We played Articulate and, as always, I may have gotten slightly over-competitive! It was so lovely to sit and laugh with the people I love most, I definitely need to do that more.

Soon it was time for dinner (which I don't actually have any pictures of), which was delicious lasagna, followed by more talking and laughing. My godmother had made my birthday cake, a banana cake, which was incredible; it was iced with my name and lots of little hearts.

Yesterday went in a flash but it was the most lovely day and reminded me of just how blessed I am to have such great people in my life, even the ones who couldn't be there because they were on holiday. I'm a lucky girl!


Monday, 17 February 2014

On My Town

If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll know that I moved house in June last year, so I'm still finding more and more places in my new town that I'm sure I would add to the list if this were written another year down the line. But I have fallen in love with this part of London so I'm sure I can rustle up a few things to put on this list.

1. The high street is always bustling with people
2. That no matter how busy it is on the main road, when I turn into my house it's so peaceful and calm
3. The tube station that takes me into central London in a flash
4. The massive Waterstone's shop
5. Restaurants by the river
6. The Topshop (had to be said!)
7. The little Italian restaurants
8. The buses always going up and down the hill
9. The hairdressers that I've been going to since I was eleven

Saturday, 15 February 2014

On Her

From here

So I watched Her last night. And it is simply a masterpiece. It truly is one of the best films I've ever seen. I don't think I've ever felt so involved in or touched by a film. It completely sucks you into its world. I wasn't sure whether to even write about it because I think that without having seen it, it's not easy to write about it in a way that will describe it with the words it deserves. But I think if you've already seen it you'll know what I mean. If you already have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, watch the trailer

It's a film about a man who falls in love with his operating system. The idea is operating systems are things that can be downloaded and act almost like a virtual person but just in a voice. The idea sounds crazy, but in reality this has the potential to happen. The rate at which technology is developing suggests that something like this really could happen, and it might not be as far off as we may think. 

The really incredible part of this film though is that it leaves something with you. For me, for some reason that I'm not actually quite sure of, it made me want to cry and cry. And I don't even know why. I guess in a way it's because it's so real. The way he falls in love and the way that the operating system seems to fall in love back is exactly how we love. We can all relate to the world and feelings presented in this film. That made me feel both uncomfortable and in awe in equal measure. I wasn't quite sure whether to be disturbed that this man was in love with a form of a computer or touched because it wasn't all that different from the way we fall in love today. 

Maybe it was because, like I said, this could be the world we live in, or our children's children live in some day. Although it's amazing and in many ways just like the world we live in now, it was so technology-orientated that it kind of made me sad. I know that might be hypocritical because so much of our lives are already now technology-orientated and maybe it was a wake-up call for that. But at the same time Her just reminded me of what it's like to feel and what it really means to be human. 

Whatever it is, this film will somehow resonate with you, I would be willing to bet good money on that. It's beautiful and painful and heartbreaking and everything an incredible film should be. If you have a chance to, please jump at it to see this film. It is 100% worth it. 

Monday, 10 February 2014

On My To Do List

We're already seven weeks into 2014, is it just me or is that crazy? Every year seems to go faster and faster and I know that in what will seem like the blink of an eye, I'll be saying this about 2015. Today's list is just plain and simple to list your to do list. I always have one on the go on my iphone, so this may be super boring but it's the kind of real things that end up on my lists!

1. Hoover my room

2. Revise for two politics tests

3. Buy ingredients for dinner on Friday

4. Blog about whatever comes into my head at some point this week

5. Bake brownies on Wednesday for my form

6. Print out cinema tickets for Friday

7. Buy food and cake for my birthday next Tuesday

8. Finish my Extended Project in half term


Thursday, 6 February 2014

On Lemon Drizzle Cake

Some of you may remember that in my first of 52 lists for this year I wrote what my goals for 2014 are. I wanted to make them quite achievable, yet important and fulfilling goals. One of them was to bake more. I love baking and have really rediscovered how great it is in the past year or so. But I've failed to make time for it in the past and instead have plonked myself in front of the tv or something to that effect.

On Sunday I managed to finish all my homework with the entirety of the afternoon to spare (this almost never happens) so I decided that this would be a good time to try my hand at something I've never baked before. I didn't want to bake something chocolate-y though; my school are very keen on cake lessons - not that I'm complaining! - and even though I've only been there for 5 months I've already become known for my chocolate brownies. I think it's something about school and how tiring it is, we always crave chocolate so chocolate cake of some variety is usually what's brought in for cake lessons.

Anyway, I knew that I didn't want chocolate cake because I've eaten quite a lot of that recently. So I looked through my bookmarked recipes and found that I had bookmarked Alice's recipe for lemon drizzle cake. This sounded perfect and not too difficult to make. If you want to find Alice's recipe and method click here. I'm not going to type it all out because I'm one of those people that tends to exactly stick to what the recipe says to do. Here's the pictures of how it went from ingredients to deliciousness!

Before whisking commenced!

Finished whisking, Alice is right, you do feel like your arm's going to fall off by the end!

Ready to go in the oven.

It came out ok -- cue immense relief!

Just iced and sliced as someone couldn't wait to try it (read: mum)

Perfect with a cup of tea!

It really was absolutely delicious and I was pretty proud of myself when even my Gran approved - she's such a fussy eater! I made double chocolate chip cookies using a Nigella recipe about a month ago, which were very yummy as well, so I'm rather pleased with how my baking's coming along so far this year.

If you have a moment, I definitely recommend baking this cake, it's super easy and I promise you won't regret it!

Monday, 3 February 2014

On The Things That Make Me Happy To Be Alive

Happy February! January is finally over and it's finally my birthday month (overexcited, me?!). I always feel like January overly drags and it's a pretty miserable month. But now it's February and it's the last proper winter month which means spring might actually make an appearance sometime soon. After such a gloomy month this list is a perfect way to look more on the bright side of things.

1. Laughter
2. People that make you reaffirm your faith in human goodness
3. My best friends
4. My family
5. Harry
6. Tea
7. Books that resonate with you in every line
8. Hugs
9. Being able to make someone smile
10. Seeing new places 
11. That moment when you click with someone
12. Second chances

What makes you happy to be alive? Have I forgotten anything that should definitely be on my list? Thanks to Ema for providing the inspiration for these weekly lists!
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