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

Thursday, 31 December 2015

On A Year In Review // Fifteen Highlights of 2015

Well, here we are. New Year's Eve. 2015 is almost over and 2016 nearly begun. 2015 has in many ways been the best and worst year of my life. The best in that I learnt and achieved so much. But also the worst in that I learnt so much. Although ignorance is most definitely not bliss, sometimes learning can be painful, especially when it involves learning about sides of people you never thought existed and learning that you perhaps don't know yourself as well as you may have originally thought. Paradoxically, that's also the joy of learning. Because once you learn these things, you can move on and forward, to better things. And that's what I hope to do in 2016.

So, to reflect on the year in a positive way (and as an excuse to include a list wherever I possibly can) here are fifteen highlights from my 2015 ::

1 // Turning eighteen years old in February - My birthday this year was great. I had the most wonderful day with my favourite people.

2 // Meeting Carrie Hope Fletcher in May - I love her and she was amazing.

3 // Voting in my first election - Probably didn't make much of a difference but I think it's so important to vote and I'm so glad I got to this year.

4 // Prom - this was the perfect way to end my time at sixth form and a night I'll never forget.

5 // Seeing Taylor Swift's 1989 Tour - Hands down the best concert I've ever been to. The weather was beautiful, I was with my best friend and Taylor Swift was, of course, perfect.

6 // Barcelona with my best friends - who could ask for more? One of the best weeks of my life!

7 // My niece Lucia being born in July - Although she lives in New Zealand so I haven't managed to meet her yet, your sister having a baby is pretty damn exciting.

8 // Visiting Genoa with my best friend and Mum - I'd been dying to go to Italy so long and I finally went and it was fabulous. Only problem is I want to go back and see more places and eat more Italian food, nooooow!

9 // A Level Results - I still can't believed I managed to get A*AA and get into my first choice university.

10 // Spending time at my sisters' this summer - it's been so nice to get closer to my older sisters over the past few years and being able to go up and spend time with them (one lives in Yorkshire, one in Liverpool)!

11 // Starting university - I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life as I was driving up to Exeter University but I love it and am really enjoying my course, just can't believe a whole semester has gone already.

12 // New friends - With uni came new friends and I feel so lucky to have made some really great ones and to get on so well with my flatmates, it makes all the difference.

13 // Visiting friends at their universities - Although I've been having so much fun at Exeter it's been really nice to go see some of my other friends at their unis. A particular highlight was surprising Lish in Bristol (she was visiting her boyfriend, Matt, who goes there), being reunited with my best friend was just the best feeling.

14 // Being reunited with old friends over the Christmas holidays - this has been amazing and I don't want it to end. Please don't make me go back to university and do exams next week!

15 // Christmas Day with my Mum and Gran - As I wrote on Christmas Day itself, I usually spend Christmas at my sister's in Yorkshire with my Dad, niece and nephews so spending Christmas at home this year with just my Mum and Gran was lovely, albeit significantly quieter!

And there you have it! I can't get over how much has happened this year and what incredible memories I've made. Although it's been a tough year, these fifteen things have made it so much easier and made me so much happier. Now I can't wait to see what 2016 has in store!

I hope 2016 is a joyful year for all of you and that you all have amazing New Year's Eves, I'm spending my evening at a party with my best friends which I can't wait for. Also thank you so much for sticking with me through 2015, I'm hoping 2016 won't be so up and down on the blogging front.

And I suppose all that's really left to say is HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

On A Year In Review // What I Read in 2015

In keeping with the theme of looking back at 2015 this week, I thought I'd share with you what I've read this year. Last year I managed to read 23 books and had hoped that this year I could make it to 24 books - I figured that's only two books a month right... totally manageable... at least until I went to uni and have only read three books since going. I didn't do too badly though and have read some really amazing books this year.

So, without further ado, here's what I read in 2015 along with what I rated them on my GoodReads account ::

1 // The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - 5/5
2 // A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki - 5/5
3 // How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran - 4/5
4 // Every Day by David Levithan - 4/5
5 // Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh - 4/5
6 // Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham - 4/5 
8 // Trouble by Non Pratt - 5/5

10 // Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang - 5/5
11 // All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher - 5/5
12 // All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman - 3/5
13 // The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion - 5/5
14 // Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher - 4/5
15 // Wild by Cheryl Strayed - 5/5
16 // Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult - 5/5
17 // The First Bad Man by Miranda July - 2/5
18 // For Esme - With Love and Squalor by J. D. Salinger - 4/5
19 // Dream a Little Christmas Dream by Giovanna Fletcher - 5/5

And currently reading :: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

So not quite as many books as I'd hoped in the end but overall it's been a great year in terms of what I've read. It's funny looking back at all the ratings I've given to these books to notice how highly on average I've rated the books I've read this year! I don't think that's because I'm not a critical reader, just that I take book recommendations from people who I really trust and so, most of the time, I pick up books that are right up my street. 

I have branched out a little this year though and strayed into the genre of non-fiction, being happily surprised with how much I enjoyed reading about Elizabeth I. If you're interested in the Tudors at all, be sure to have a look at Elizabeth's Bedfellows. 

The best books two books I've read this year though have to be Wild Swans and Wild. Strangely enough, both are memoirs and both have 'wild' in their titles! But that coincidence aside, they are, in their own rights, both incredible books that tell stories truly worth reading so please pick them up if you have a chance. 

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this little round up of what I read this year. I'll be back tomorrow with my highlights from this year.

Monday, 28 December 2015

On A Year In Review // What I Watched in 2015

Can you believe we're into the last three days of 2015?! I honestly can't get over how quickly this year has gone. And I know I say that *every* year but they seem to be going faster and faster with no sign of slowing down. As always, the thought of a new year has me thinking about the year that's just (nearly) gone and so I thought it might be nice to do a little round up in three installments of what 2015 held for me before 2016 hits us.

Round one is a look back at the films I watched for this first time this year. It really is shocking how few of the films you're just meant to have seen I've somehow managed to miss. I've never seen Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or many other films I know it's considered crazy to not have seen.. I know, I know... please don't hate me! But this year I made a real effort to try and watch some films I hadn't seen before, mainly to try and counteract me rewatching the same films/series again and again and again. And you know what? I discovered some really great films so here's what I watched in 2015 ::

1 // The Theory of Everything - I was absolutely blown away by this film, so much so that I wrote a post specifically dedicated to it, which you can read here should you be interested!

2 // Quartet - From what I remember of this film it was a bit of a let down which was a shame but still light-hearted and fun.

3 // Pocahontas - You'll start to see a bit of a theme of Disney movies I watched this year that I really should have seen years ago but never did for some reason or another. I liked Pocahontas a lot actually, although it doesn't compare to the Little Mermaid which was my favourite Disney movie as a child!

4 // Pitch Perfect 2 - I adored this!

5 // Hercules - Another Disney movie I'd somehow missed!

6 // Clueless - Yep, seriously. I'd not seen Clueless before 2015. Shocking, I know.

7 // The Back Up Plan - This was such a great romcom.

8 // Spy - This was *hilarious*.

9 // The Breakfast Club - I absolutely loved this film and am so glad I finally watched it this summer. 

10 // Inside Out - Everyone needs to see this film, no matter what age you are just go and watch it if you get the chance; such a great film.

11 // The Bounty Hunter - Another good romcom movie.

12 // Chocolat - Watched this with my sister because she couldn't believe I hadn't seen it, I'd read the book a few years ago and actually thought the film lived up to it.

13 // Four Weddings & A Funeral - Again watched with my sister, again because it was an abomination that I hadn't seen it! I was a bit underwhelmed by this though, Hugh Grant films are usually my weakness but for some reason I just didn't get this one.

14 // Paper Towns - I love John Green, I loved the Paper Towns book and I loved this film. Highly recommend.

15 // What If? - Better than any other romcom I watched this year, in fact I'd say it's one of my favourite films that I saw in 2015. Go watch for sure!

16 // Suffragette - This and The Theory of Everything were hands down the best films I saw this year. The acting in Suffragette was impeccable and the story so so important. Please watch this if you haven't already.

17 // Mockingjay Part 1 - I needed to see this before part 2 came out in the cinema and it didn't let me down. The films are nothing compared to the books but I do think that they've got better and better.

18 // Mockingjay Part 2 - Again, not the same as reading the books for the first time when I was fourteen but I love Jennifer Lawrence and it was great to see The Hunger Games played out on screen.

19 // Love, Rosie - Another great romcom, (I'm not even ashamed of how much I love romcoms) this one left me sobbing and I'm not quite sure why. It's on Netflix... you've got no excuse not to watch it!

20 // Cool Runnings - Yet another Disney film I hadn't seen. Watched this the other weekend with my niece and nephews, it's very funny and great for kids.

21 // Pinocchio - Read the above. Don't know how I hadn't seen this! But I watched it on Boxing Day with my Mum and really enjoyed it.

It's actually been so fun to write down the movies I've watched this year and then look back at them now, I think I'm definitely going to do it again next year. Let me know if you've seen any of these and what you thought if you have, I'll be back on Wednesday to look back on what I read in 2015!

Friday, 25 December 2015

On Christmas Day 2015

Just a quick one from me today to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, whatever you're doing and whoever you're with! I hope you have a lovely day and that it's spent relaxing, eating too much food and watching films - that's definitely what I'm planning on doing.

If you've read my blog for a long time you'll know that I usually drive up to my sister's in Yorkshire for Christmas day with my Dad so we spend it with my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephews. But this year my Dad's actually in New Zealand with my other sister and nieces so I'll be spending Christmas at home with my Mum and Gran for the first time in years. While it's a shame I won't be around the excitement of my niece and nephews, I think it's going to be really nice to have a more relaxed Christmas at home. Plus it's an excuse to spend the whole day in my new matching pyjamas (new pjs are one of the best Christmas presents, don't you think?).

Anyway, I'm rambling so I'll sign off now, Happy Christmas and I'll be back next week no doubt to round up 2015! xo

Monday, 21 December 2015

On My Favourite Winter Nail Polishes

Over the past few months I've become completely addicted to Lily Pebbles' and ViviannaDoesMakeup's youtube channels. Aside from this leading me to spend a lot more money than I usually would on make up, it's got me back into painting my nails and actually making a bit of an effort with them. Both Lily and Anna rave about essie nail polishes and, having bought a couple over the past few months, I can totally see why - the brushes are fab and the quality of the nail polish is amazing - a win-win situation in my eyes!

Anyway, since I've been trying these out a lot over the past few months, I thought I'd share my favourite three essie nail polishes that I think are perfect for winter. And if, like me, you still haven't ticked off all of your Christmas shopping (that's what the last few days before Chrismas are for, right??), then I think an essie nail polish would make a great stocking filler. 

1 // Eternal Optimist - This beautiful rose-coloured nail polish is ideal for when you just want a colour on your nails but you're not feeling too bold. I love it during autumn and winter because it's nice and muted and the colour is lovely.

2 // Thigh High - Thigh High was my secret santa present from my friend Ellie, we only met at uni three months ago but she already knew I'd love this as a present, a sign of true friendship for sure! This colour is the most Christmassy and I'm wearing it right now. The deep red is stunning and the fact that it's slightly shimmery means it's a really festive nail polish!

3 // Cocktail Bling - Lily Pebbles brought my attention to this polish. It's another lovely muted colour that's grey with light blue tones - elegant and perfect for winter days. I'm sure that anyone would love to add this to their nail polish collection.

And there you have it! What are your favourite essie nail polishes? Let me know in the comments if I'm missing out on any essentials!


Saturday, 19 December 2015

On What I'm Currently Listening To #02

I know I'm ridiculously late to this party but I've recently discovered James Bay and, oh my goodness, I am completely in love with his music. When I've managed to turn off Michael Buble's Christmas album for two minutes Chaos and the Calm is the album I've turned straight to. James Bay's voice and lyrics are just stunning and Craving is one of my absolute favourites, I can't stop listening to it lately.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Currently #08

I love Winter, but what I'd give to be back here right now...

Reading :: For Esme - with Love and Squalor by J. D. Salinger. When you have a Mum who wrote her university dissertation on Salinger's works, you can bet I've been gifted a copy of each of his books over the years! Of course I've read The Catcher in the Rye and loved it but have somehow managed to avoid reading any of Salinger's other books, so really it was high time I picked something else of his up. Since I've been at uni I've been reading so much for philosophy and history that reading fiction has sadly had to take a bit of a back seat so I've really struggled to read much over the past few months. This has meant that 'For Esme' is perfect because it's a collection of Salinger's short stories - making it a bit easier to dip in and out of when I have time to read. I'm usually not the biggest fan of short stories but I'm actually really enjoying this so far. Salinger writes beautifully so I'd recommend it to anyone who's interested at all, even if you don't usually enjoy short stories. 

Eating :: Mince pies of course! Before I got back from Exeter last Friday I had only had one mince pie - being eleven days into December having only eaten *one* mince pie is just unheard of for me, but hey, student living I suppose! Anyway, to make up for this shambles I've been making my way through more than my fair share of mince pies. Mince pies and mulled wine are just perfect at this time of year. 

Thinking about :: How much everything has changed in the past year. I guess I always knew that 2015 would hold a lot of change, what with A Levels and leaving home for the first time to go to uni. Still, looking back to the start of this year, it feels as though things couldn't have been more different. Meeting a lot of new people has taught me so much about myself. And oddly, although I've really enjoyed my first term of uni, I've had a bit of a knock on the self-confidence front over the past few weeks which I didn't really see coming. But that's something to leave for another day. 

Watching :: Still Once Upon A Time, obviously (isn't the new series so addictive?!), but mainly Strictly Come Dancing. Possibly a surprising addiction but I just love SCD. I've been watching it with my Mum and Gran since I can remember and it really gets me in the festive mood as I've come to associate it with the run up to Christmas. I can't believe it's the final on Saturday and can't wait to watch it with my family!

Loving :: Being back at home and knowing that I'm going to be reunited with my best friends on Saturday! I really miss my uni friends but it's so lovely to be back home in my own bed and have proper homemade meals. I missed my Mum and Gran so much and the same goes for my best friends. It will be so nice to catch up with everyone and hear how uni's been going for them. I always get nostalgic at this time of year so to be around my best friends and family will stop me from feeling down in the dumps, which I was starting to a little by the end of this term. 

I hope you're all getting in the festive mood, I definitely am - in fact, I'm going to go and paint my nails a nice Christmassy red right now and get out Michael Buble's Christmas album! 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

On Where I've Been

I can't believe that it's been over four months since I last posted here. It almost feels odd sitting down to type. But here I am. Here being back in London for the Christmas holidays, having finished my first term at Exeter University. I took a brief break from blogging in the first couple of months of the academic year last September as well, that time of year is just so busy and, as I'm sure you can imagine, starting university was such a crazy time.

My explanation for being away is really simply that I've been living my life without writing about it. I've met so many new people, learnt so many new things and had such little sleep in the past few months that I haven't had a proper chance to sit down and write about it! And more than anything I think that in some ways I haven't wanted to because I've been enjoying just living without reflecting, if that makes any sense.

But now that I finally have some time I'm back and I really want to write more. It's truly felt like there's been something missing because I haven't been writing here. I can't get over the fact that it's Christmas in just NINE DAYS, it honestly feels like I left for uni yesterday and suddenly it's about to be 2016?! There's so much to catch up on but, for now, I just wanted to say that I'm here, I haven't given up on TGITM and thank you for bearing with me.

I'll be back tomorrow with a 'Currently' post to give you all a bit of a proper update xo
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