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

Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Year in Review // Sixteen Highlights of 2016

Once again it's New Year's Eve and I'm sitting here typing up my favourite moments from the past year. And what a year it's been. An incredibly depressing one on the world stage (let's not talk about that now) and not as good as 2015 on a personal level but definitely nowhere near my worst year.

So, with that in mind, and because I loved writing up my highlights of the year last year, here are sixteen highlights of my 2016...

1 // A weekend away in Dartmoor - Last late January my Mum and four of our very close family friends rented a beautiful cottage in Dartmoor for a long weekend. They picked my up from Exeter and we spent the weekend eating, playing games and going for walks. It was perfect.

2 // Going to watch the Oxbridge Boat Race - On Easter Sunday this year my school friends and I went to watch our friend Issy row for Oxford in the reserve boat, Osiris, and it was such a fun day. It was incredible to watch Issy and the nicest way to catch up with the others who I hadn't seen since Christmas - we loved the day so much that we've decided to make it an annual thing!

3 // Work experience at Hodder & Stoughton - I spent two weeks in April doing a work placement in Hodder's publicity department and a week in the summer in their editorial department and I had the best time. It was so interesting to get an insight into the industry and it really is true what they say, the people who work in publishing are just the friendliest and kindest.

4 // Getting my first car - In early May this year I bought my first car! It was definitely a life milestone and while I'm still absolutely awful at parking it, having a car has made such a big difference to my life.

5 // Spending a few days in Venice and Verona - After my summer exams this year my Mum and I went to Verona and spent one day visiting Venice. It was our first holiday away together just us two and it was such a lovely few days. Italy is one of my favourite places in the world and so of course this trip was always going to be a highlight of my year.

6 // Radio 1's Big Weekend - On my first year in Exeter I was lucky enough to have the chance to go to Radio 1's Big Weekend which was held at Exeter's Powderham Castle. Getting to see Coldplay live just three rows from the front is something I'll never forget - it was truly the greatest day.

7 // Spending a week with my family in Yorkshire - In early June my sister Tai who moved to New Zealand when I was thirteen came back to England for a few weeks which meant that I not only got to see her for the first time in four years but I also got to meet my two nieces that she's had in that time. It was a lovely week and so special to be reunited with them and my other sisters and Dad.

8 // Working at Wimbledon - If you didn't already know it (and going by how much my friends say I go on about it I'd find it hard to believe you didn't), I got to work at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships this year and it was genuinely one of the best months of my life! I met the funniest and most wonderful people, had so much fun and felt so privileged to be able to work there when Andy Murray won - it was amazing.

9 // My trip to Romania - I've been to Romania so many times in my life but this trip was one of the best ones so I couldn't leave it out of a summary of my highlights from this year.

10 // Spending a few days in Cornwall with my best friends - The few days my friends and I stayed in Cornwall were some of the most fun days of the year by far. It was short but sweet and the perfect break away to spend some time together after a year at uni when we'd been spread all over the country for the first time, I only wish we could have spent a few more days there!

11 // Going to Paris for the first time in years - This trip was so lovely. I got to explore Paris with one of my best friends for the first time as an adult, I got to see my Dad's house and spend some time with him and I got to eat all of the French food, so of course it was great!

12 // Travelling to Budapest - To top off all the amazing travelling I've been lucky enough to do this year, I went to Budapest with two of my best friends and had such a great time. Budapest is an amazing and exciting city and one that I've wanted to tick off of my travel list for a long time!

13 // Moving into a house in Exeter - After living in halls for my first year of university, this year myself and three of my best friends moved into a house in September. I absolutely love living in a house, cooking for myself and always having three of my favourite people around so this has been a really good part of 2016.

14 // Getting to talk to my cousin more - As I wrote about in my Romania travel diary post, the trip to Romania this year was made particularly special because it was the first time I got to see my cousin for the first time in fourteen years. Since seeing her then we've been messaging back and forth every so often and it's so nice slowly getting to know her. Family is really important to me so I feel incredibly grateful to have the chance to reconnnect with Maria.

15 // Trying new things - From starting to play a completely new sport in Korfball to applying for a career mentor who works for the civil service and saying yes to a mock group exercise in the Home Office, I've tried to say yes to new things more regularly this year. It's definitely meant I've been out of my comfort zone at times but it's been so worth it because I've had all these new and wonderful experiences.

16 // Making new friends - Both at Wimbledon and just this term at uni I've met some really amazing people. Although at uni I meet people all the time it's rare to click with someone in a way that you know they'll be one of your closest friends so when it happens it makes me incredibly happy. And the girls I worked with at Wimbledon as well as some who've been in my history seminar this year are some of the absolute nicest people who I'm very grateful to have in my life!

So there we are - sixteen highlights from my 2016. I really have been so very lucky this year to be able to travel so much, see great live music and experience so many new things surrounded by incredibly wonderful people. It's so important to remember all the things that make us happy when there's so much darkness in the world at the moment, so please feel free to tell me some of your highlights of the year!

I'm off for a party at my friend Lydia's house tonight to bring in the New Year and I hope that whatever you may be doing to celebrate tonight that you have a lovely evening and a wonderful 2017!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Currently #12

I can't believe it's been an entire month since I last posted. Sometimes life gets in the way and this blog is the thing that has to give when my plate gets a bit too full, which I hate but it's the way it has to be. I think that taking a break from things, even when the break is unintentional, can be a good thing though. It makes you reasses how important to you they are and what you get out of them. And time and time again I find myself back here, writing, so I know there must be something in this blogging marlarky for me! 

Anyway, since it's been a few months since I wrote my last Currently post, I thought I'd share one today, because what better way to catch up? 

Reading :: I recently finished Bloom by Estee Lalonde (which I loved btw) and have since picked up Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes. I've really gotten into make up over the past year or so and both Estee and Sali write beautifully so I'd highly recommend them. I also went into my local bookshop yesterday and bought You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris whose wife was killed in the horrific terrorist attack on Paris in November 2015. The book is described as a memoir of what that period of his life was like and after he wrote an essay to his wife's killers that went viral on Facebook. I think it will be an incredibly important read. 

Eating :: All of the food. It is Christmas after all! I've already had about five Christmas dinner meals, one cooked by myself and Ellie at our uni house, and have eaten my body weight in mince pies so it's safe to say I'm making the most of the fact that calories don't count during the festive period, right?

Thinking about :: I'm so reflective at this time of year, even more so than usual. Seriously though, what an awful year 2016 has been on the world stage. My heart is breaking every day as we hear more and more horrible news. The horrors taking place in Aleppo are just unbearable and I feel so helpless but I've been reading articles like this about what we can do. While donating doesn't seem like much, it's all I can think of to try and help in some way at the moment. I know Christmas is an incredibly expensive time but, if you can, please consider donating to one of the relief funds listed in the Independent article. 

Watching :: Still making my way through Gilmore Girls and absolutely loving it. I've just finished series five and the addiction has got to the point where I honestly want to spend every waking hour watching it, if only other things didn't get in the way! I've also been watching endless Vlogmas videos on YouTube. On the one hand I love how much content is uploaded at this time of year and on the other it's so overwhelming trying to keep up with it! 

Listening to :: Spotify's Christmas Crackers playlist. It has all the best festive songs on it and I've been listening to it on repeat. I've been feeling extremely festive this year and this playlist has definitely been helping that!

Loving :: Buying people Christmas presents! I've been working in my uni's careers department since September and while I'm usually scrambling around at this time of year trying to get all my family nice presents on a very limited budget, this year I've had a much better budget so I've been able to spend a bit more which makes me very happy. Christmas is by no means about presents for me (although they are a great part of Christmas of course!) but it has been nice to be able to treat my lovely Mum to a few things this year that I wouldn't have been able to before I got a job!

And there you have it! I can't believe there are just three days to go until Christmas!! I'm off to my sister's in Yorkshire on Christmas Eve and I've still got one more essay to write that's due in early January so I'm not sure how frequently I'll be posting but I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and I'll be back sometime after the big day! xo

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Recently I'm Reading // Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

The first book I ever read by Jodi Picoult was Nineteen Minutes. Nineteen Minutes is about a school shooting and it remains one of the most incredible books I've ever read. Since then I've read ten more books by Jodi Picoult and, most recently, Small Great Things, which is published in the UK today. What I've learnt in reading books by Jodi Picoult which discuss issues from rape to cancer to sexuality and more is that she is not someone who is afraid to shy away from talking about sensitive subjects. More than that, I don't think I've ever come across an author of fiction who researches more into their books than her. The effort she puts in to ensure that whatever she's writing about is as accurately portrayed as it can be shines through her every story and she will always be a huge inspiration to me. So, having read a number of her books, I need you to trust me when I tell you that you must pick up Small Great Things if you can.

Small Great Things is about an African-American midwife called Ruth. The blurb is as follows:

"When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes."

I was lucky enough to be given a proof copy of this book when I was on a work placement at Hodder & Stoughton and I am so grateful to have been able to read it. It's the best book that I've read this year.

This book addresses modern day racism and race relations in a way that I have not encountered before. It is clever and brilliant and utterly harrowing to see for yourself in the form of this story the way in which we still have so far to go when it comes to racial discrimination and prejudice. My words won't do justice to this story so I'm going to keep this post brief but all I can say is that this book has never been more needed, especially now that Donald Trump has been elected as the next President of the United States.

If you don't think that a white woman can write from the perspective of an African-American, I implore you to pick this up and see for yourself. If nothing else, read Picoult's beautiful author's note in Small Great Things and you will see how important it was that she write this book as a white woman because it is us as white people who need to address the prejudice that remains prevalent in our societies.

Real Reader Review have called Small Great Things "To Kill a Mockingbird for the 21st Century" and I don't think I could sum it up better myself. This is an amazing book that will give every single one of us who picks it up an education.

You can order Small Great Things here. And a quick thank you to the lovely Ellie for taking the photo in this blog post!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Five Things on Netflix You *Need* to Watch This Weekend

Happy Friday everyone! I've had a super productive week and for the first time this term am feeling fairly on top of things so this weekend I'm going to make the most of that and actually take a day to do all the fun things. Ellie and I are going for lunch and shopping tomorrow and it's been so long since I've been into Exeter's town centre or caught up properly with Ellie so I can't wait!

I then plan on cosying up to watch Strictly Come Dancing and hopefully fit in some serious Netflix watching before Sunday comes and I have to go back to doing proper uni work. So to keep things a bit light after last week, to get myself in the spirit and just in case you're in need of some good old Netflix recommendations today I thought I'd share five things on Netflix at the moment that you definitely need to watch...

1 // Gilmore Girls - Ok so let's talk about Gilmore Girls and how it's one of the best. shows. ever. I'm only on series four and am desperately trying to get through it before the special 'A Year in the Life' reunion that's coming out at the end of this month, but I can honestly say it's one of the most feel-good shows I've watched in the longest time. The mother-daughter dynamic of Lorelei and Rory is brilliant and this show just gives me all of the warm feelings so if you haven't watched it yet you absolutely *must*, take my word for it and you can thank me later!

2 // Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging - They only put this on Netflix over the last couple of months and I don't think I can sum up the excitement I felt when I saw it in the 'Recently Added' section. This film was everything when I was in my early teens and I've been desperate to watch it for weeks now. It's one of those that you can watch again and again and again and it won't get old because, let's be honest, we can all relate to Georgia Nicholson and the endless embarrassing moments she has at the god-awful age of fourteen.

3 // The Crown - This is kind of a strange one for me to be recommending since I haven't actually seen it yet because of all the Gilmore Girls binging I've been doing in an awful attempt to finish it by the end of this month. Hear me out though. I've been hearing about this series for months now and it may be a bit too early for me to say this but I'm so sure that I'm going to love it. It's all about our very own Queen Elizabeth II's reign in the twentieth century and A. I'm obsessed with period dramas B. I love the royal family and C. It has Claire Foy and Matt Smith starring in it so there's no way I won't love it and I bet you will too!

4 // Shark Tale - One of my favourite films from my childhood, I still remember going to see it with my big sister in the cinema, Shark Tale is such a great movie. It's funny, has a great storyline and stars Will Smith, what's not to like?!

5 // Home Alone - I couldn't make a list of Netflix recommendations in mid-November and not include at least one Christmas film. Some of you might say it's too early, and I'd usually be right there agreeing with you but this year I'm feeling super Christmassy already and Home Alone has to be one of the best Christmas films there is. If you're feeling at all in the Christmas spirit yourself give this a watch right away!

And there you have it! Before I sign off I just want to give a quick shout out to the beautiful Twitter thread started by Katie Brennan, #TodayImGrateful. It's been giving me the biggest boost of positivity all week seeing the little things that are making people happy and I'd really recommend taking a look if you have a minute - it's so important to remember the good stuff when things going on in the world seem pretty bleak.

I hope you all have the most cosy and relaxing weekends - I'm probably watching another episode of Girlmore Girls as we speak!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Let's Catch Up // Life Lately & Sunday Thoughts

Life has been go go go this month. Uni work has really started to flood in and it's been hard to find a free moment where I don't want to just curl up and watch Gilmore Girls. But I'm here now - that extra hour from the clocks going back really does make a difference!

Last weekend I went home to London to stay with my Mum and Gran and it was just what the doctor ordered. (It could have literally been what the doctor ordered to be honest since being at home and eating good food finally shook off the cold I'd had going for nearly a month before!) As much as I love Exeter there's no place like home and it was just wonderful to potter around and get my work done in the comfort of my own room.

At the start of this week I hopped on the train from London to visit my lovely friend Lish in Newcastle where she goes to university. It was so nice to be able to explore a new city and spend quality time with her talking about anything and everything. We both found it funny how we can spend one moment talking about life, friendships and the future and what it might hold, and the next taking fifteen minutes to talk purely about food and how much we love it. If that's not the mark of a true friendship I don't know what is...

But, seriously, walking around Newcastle really gave me the chance to appreciate Autumn and how beautiful it is. As much as I love Summer even I have to admit that I'm not sure you can beat walking around on a crisp, sunny day admiring the beautiful colours of the leaves falling off the trees around you. It was simply dreamy.

Since I got back to Exeter things have been markedly less dreamy as I've been playing catch up on all my work. With three essays coming up I'm not sure how much time I'm going to have over the next month or so to dedicate to this little space. I'm aiming for once a week but we'll see how it goes. I want to keep The Girl in the Moon as somewhere I can come to write when I'm really feeling it and not just another thing I know I need to tick off on my to do list.

When I'm in the midst of uni coursework it's not always the easiest to think up things I'd like to write about, especially because I'm not out doing exciting things like I got to this Summer. So I'm hoping you'll bear with me as I inevitably become a bit of a hermit in the run up to Christmas (can't believe I'm writing that but it's less than two months to go now!). I'll be here as much as I can is what I'm essentially trying to say but there might be some gaps here and there.

I know this post hasn't really had any coherence to it but I wanted to combine letting you know what I've been up to over the last week with my thoughts on blogging as of late. Just to make this post even more confusing I'm going to leave you with a link to this video which you absolutely must watch. I didn't know I could love Sara Bareilles any more than I already do but apparently I can! The song is just brilliant and sums up what I'm sure many people are feeling about the current US presidential election fabulously.

I'll sign off there - I hope you're all having the most wonderful of weekends!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Four Friday Reads

I'm off to Nottingham today to see some of my favourites from home so this week has been incredibly full what with lectures, work and me trying to get ahead with next week's reading because there is no way that any work is being done this weekend! This all meant I hadn't had time to put together a post for this week. So instead I thought today I'd share four things I think you should read this Friday to set you up for the weekend. I hope you find something interesting to glance at and that you all have wonderful weekends! Aaaand now I'll stop rambling and actually get on with it...

1 // Oh Comely - Oh Comely is the most beautiful magazine I think I've ever seen. I discovered it a few months ago and have since subscribed to it because the joy flicking through its pages brings me is something that's definitely worth investing in. It's an incredibly well-curated magazine and one I'd really recommend picking up if you're on the hunt for a new magazine this weekend - the latest issue has only just been released!

2 // Meg Fee 'On eating disorders and the physicality of depression and one's own ever-after' - Meg always writes the most stunning pieces and this is no exception. This one especially is a must-read in my eyes.

3 // Blog Socks - Blog Socks was recently set up by the lovely Charlotte and features a range of fabulous bloggers. Trying to find new blogs to spend hours getting lost in instead of doing work peruse isn't the easiest anymore and, by featuring bloggers by asking them some fun questions, Charlotte has made sure that it's so much easier. There are some real gems being showcased over there at the moment and my own little blog will be sometime soon as well which is very exciting so definitely check it out!

4 // Anne T. Donahue: That's What She Said 'On Being Liked' - Anne's newsletter is one of my absolute favourites but this particular edition, on being liked, I haven't been able to stop thinking about since it popped in my inbox a couple of weeks ago. She completely hits the nail on the head and you simply MUST read this.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

S T R E S S & How To Deal With It

Last week I wrote that I was feeling pretty on top of everything. But this week not so much. It just goes to show how quickly you can go from feeling on top of the world to rock bottom. What I find difficult to remember when I feel incredibly stressed is that those feelings work both ways - just as I've gone from feeling great to stressed and anxious within the space of a few days, tomorrow I could go back to feeling on top of everything. Life is never constant and, while that can be frustrating, it's also what makes it so exciting.

Deep down I know that the things I'm anxious about at the moment won't matter all that much in the scheme of things. I think I'm still just getting settled into a new routine and, because I'm so tired and run down from getting used to everything (side note: why are colds a thing?!), it all seems much more stressful than I'm sure I'll find it in a few months.

I had a straw that breaks the camel's back moment at the weekend when my phone broke. I'd been on the phone to my insurance company for what felt like an age only to get cut off and then be told I'd have to pay money I don't have for them to fork out what I'd already paid for in my insurance contract, for them to finally give in, send me a replacement and for me to then make a cock up which meant I had to go into town and sort it out. Wow, even that sentence stresses me out. Needless to say it was far too much adulting on top of the things I already had to deal with for me and I was a bit of an emotional wreck as a result.

I'll be the first person to throw my hands up and admit that that is a hugely first world problem and I do know how lucky I am to have so many things I need to do as the result of all the privilege I have. But, hey, you have what you have right? And in that moment, it felt a bit too much. I felt like I didn't have time to deal with any of those things. And, I don't know about you, but for me I feel at my most stressed and anxious when I suddenly feel like there is just NO TIME and I need to do everything at once.

Of course, these is time, everything will be ok and the *worst* thing you can do is try to do everything at once. One of the defining moments last week for me oddly enough took place in the EE shop. I had been told I had to wait in the shop and couldn't leave while they sorted out my phone but, because I'd rushed to the shops panicking I didn't have enough time for everything, I hadn't got anything in my bag to look at/do while I waited. Essentially, I was stuck with my own thoughts and nothing else to do for fifteen minutes.

Those fifteen minutes forced me to just be. To internally calm myself down, gain some perspective and, most importantly, realise that the world was not going to end because I took those fifteen minutes to do nothing despite the fact that I had a lot of things I needed to do. Turns out, the world keeps on turning whether you tick off your to do list when you want to or not. And those fifteen minutes did me the world of good.

I'm still stressed and anxious but I'm trying to keep in mind the thoughts I had in that EE shop. I'm taking time every day to just think and breathe. Essentially I've unintentionally jumped on the mindfulness wagon. It's unbelievable living in a world that never seems to stop how everything can seem stressful, even just staying on top of my Instagram and Twitter feeds. So taking time out and putting all technology away even just for a few minutes is my biggest piece of advice on how to feel less stressed and anxious.

If you're feeling similarly to me then please know that you're not alone, we all feel like this at times and the most important thing is to look after yourself - and that means taking time for yourself even when you don't think you have it.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

On My Happy List #08

So I'm a week into lectures and slowly getting back into the swing of things (things being having responsibilities and assignments once again) and so I thought, while I'm in a rare state of feeling like I'm vaguely on top of everything, I'd spread a bit of positivity and let you know what's been making me happy as of late! Let's get straight to it...

1 // Making my new room feel like home - Being a student who lives away from home inevitably means that you end up moving around quite a lot in a short space of time so it can be a bit hard to feel settled in one house. Because of that, there's really nothing like adding homely touches to your student room and, having put up some fairy lights, photos and having made other changes which make my new room feel familiar has really made a world of difference! The photo above is the wall above my desk and one of my favourite parts of the room although I've still got a few more photos I want to put up there. I might share some more photos at some point once I'm completely happy with it if you'd be interested in seeing that!

2 // Trying new things and having them pay off - I mentioned in my currently post a couple of weeks ago that I was a bit unsure whether to try some new things this year at uni but, since I said then that I would because I realised I had nothing to lose, I decided to give them a go. I'm now trying out Korfball for the first time and have volunteered for a few societies that I never got around to doing last year. And do you know what? I'm really glad that I did! I've only had two Korfball sessions but I'm starting to enjoy it a lot and have met some really nice people through it already. It just goes to show that stepping outside of your comfort zone isn't always the worst thing in the world and I should probably go ahead and do it more often!

3 // Enjoying the reading for my modules - I know, tragic right? But I have to say, apart from a couple of pieces of reading I had to do on Monday night that I couldn't for the life of me get to grips with, I've been finding the reading so far this term genuinely interesting. Module reading will always be a bit of a tedious task but it makes it so much nicer if you find it engaging so it's actually one for the happy list at the moment!

4 // Making the most of the weekend - This last weekend was pretty great. I had the best night out I've had in a long time with my friend Ellie on the Friday, a lie in on the Saturday followed by a cinema trip to see Bridget Jones' Baby (which I loved!), dinner out with my housemates and bowling and then a very lazy Sunday that involved a lot of module reading but also catching up on tv and relaxing. It's so easy for the weekend to go by without you even realising it so getting out and actually doing stuff at least for part of it makes me super happy.

5 // Looking back at photos from the Summer - When I was deciding what photos to put up in my room (a very difficult job when you have a ridiculous number of photos from the past few years!) I ended up taking a flick through all of my new ones from this Summer that I had printed just before coming back to uni. It was so nice to spend a bit of time looking through them all and realising what an incredible Summer it was. Good memories are the best and being able to go through them all made me feel very happy indeed!

What's been making you happy as of late?

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A City Break Guide | My Top Tips

Summer may be pretty much over for us Brits (and, to be honest, I'm secretly quite excited for Autumn), but whatever time of year it is, a city break makes the perfect holiday. As you'll probably already know because I've been banging on about it basically non-stop, I was lucky enough this Summer to travel to and explore five European cities. It taught me a lot about the best things to do to prepare for a city break and what's really useful to know/have when you're there. So, just in case you're thinking of planning one anytime soon, I thought today I'd throw together my top five tips to help you make the most of your city break.

1 // Book to stay in a central location - Being a student, I planned my holidays this Summer to be as inexpensive as possible and tried to save money wherever I could. One thing I think is definitely worth the extra cost though is booking an Airbnb, hotel or hostel that's in a great location relative to the sights of the city you're going to visit. It makes everything so much easier when you're there; you don't have to worry about getting home if you're out late, you'll have more time to fit things in because you won't have to spend time getting into the centre and out again, and you'll probably even save money as you won't have to fork out as much on public transport or cabs getting to places. All in all, this is the one place I'd recommend spending a bit more money as there are so many pros to being in a good location.

2 // Research what you want to do/see before going - City breaks are typically short and no more than a long weekend, so you'll want to spend as much time as possible out and exploring. To make sure you have the maximum time to do this, I'd really suggest at the very least having a list of some things you know you definitely want to do before you get there. I'm a planner by nature so I like to make a rough itinerary as soon as I arrive in a city but I always make sure I've put together a list of things I know would be fun to do before going there, meaning I can just look up the logistics of them when I get there rather than having no idea beforehand. I've got into the habit of bookmarking travel blog posts of places I think I might want to go and I can't tell you how handy they've been this Summer. Real people's recommendations are the ones that I've found are the most trustworthy and I've so far never been let down when following ones from blogs I read.

3 // Look up articles for restaurant suggestions, don't just rely on Trip Advisor - Knowing which restaurants are going to be good and affordable just by looking from the outside can be one of the hardest things to judge in a completely foreign city. The best way of finding some real gems that I've found is looking up articles completely devoted to the best budget restaurants of a certain city. This was a complete life-saver in Verona, Venice and Paris for me with the following articles one, two and three and I honestly had some of the best food I've ever tasted because of these recommendations. On the times I tried using Trip Advisor to find places to eat, I struggled to have much luck and found that articles like the ones above were much more clear and offered a range of options.

4 // Eat in when you can or have picnics - Of course, one of the best parts of going abroad is trying the local cuisine and treating yourself to meals out. However, if you're trying to save your pennies a great way of doing that is to eat in for the majority of your stay if you're in self-catered accommodation and to just eat out a few times as a treat. Alternatively, you can really save money by having picnic rather than restaurant lunches. When my friend Rosie and I were in Paris we had an amazing picnic which included salami and brie baguettes, fresh fruit and chocolate in the Jardin du Luxembourg and it was my favourite lunch there. The food was great (picnic-y lunches are my favourite) and we got to look around the beautiful gardens - a real win-win and definitely something I'd suggest if you stumble upon somewhere that would make a good picnic spot.

5 // If you can afford it, pay for mobile data to use maps - Completely inessential but something that makes life a bit easier when you have no idea where you're going (or just a truly terrible sense of direction like me), being able to use Google Maps abroad is incredibly useful. It can be really fun to get lost in new cities and eventually find your way to wherever you were looking for but to have the ease of knowing you can just open a maps app should you get lost to help you find your way is great and something I'd say is worth investing in if your network provider has a good deal!

So those are my top five tips to get the most out of your city break! If you've got any planned please go ahead and let me know where you're going - I love hearing about other people's travels and adding to my very long list of places I want to see!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Currently #11

Well, somehow it's been three months since I wrote my last currently post. It feels like all I did was blink and yet here we are; a new season, shorter days, and the sense of a fresh start I find I always feel at the start of Autumn. And so, with all these changes, I thought it was about time I checked in again and let you know what's been happening recently.

(Taken in Cornwall, August 2016)

Reading :: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I don't know how to describe how much I am loving this. I've loved Jodi Picoult ever since I read Nineteen Minutes at the age of fourteen and have since devoured every book by her that I've picked up. In my opinion she's one of the greatest writers of the twenty-first century. Her meticulous research into the issues she explores in every one of her novels is nothing short of admirable and completely evident in how much detail she gives in her books. And Small Great Things is no exception. I'm not going to write too much about it now because I want to write a full review when I finish it and closer to the date of its publication in November (I was lucky enough to be allowed to take a proof copy home when on my work placement at Hodder) but, when it comes out, I really urge you to pick it up. This book couldn't be more important in this day and age and I think it's crucial reading for everyone. (Also, as a side note, isn't it just great to read a book that you can't for the life of you put down because it's so engaging?? It's a really rare occurrence and I'm loving it at the moment!)

Eating :: Chilli. I've just moved into a house in Exeter in the past few days and, as I was in catered halls last year, this is the first time I'm cooking and budgeting how much I can spend on food for myself. I'm enjoying it so far and have loved cooking at home over the summer as well but my absolute favourite thing to make at the moment is chilli. Partly because it's easy to make (and in big portions so it lasts longer) and partly because it's so darn tasty, I can't get enough of it and may have had it for dinner three nights in a row last week when I was still at home...

Thinking about :: New opportunities and whether to take them. The great thing about being at uni is that you have the chance at the start of every year to join so many clubs or societies and try out a whole range of things which will probably never be as accessible or easy to do at any other point in your life. The hard thing is when it involves going outside of your comfort zone. As important as it is to do that and as much as I know from past experiences that it pays off, it's still a little daunting. But I know there's no point in sitting back and not trying new things just because I'm a little unsure about them. And now that I've written that I basically have to go for it because otherwise I'll look back at this in a few months and wonder why I didn't just go for it - currently posts really do keep me in check you see!

Watching :: EVERYTHING. All of the good TV comes back around this time of year and it's the only time I find myself watching around six shows at the same time. From The Great British Bake Off to Our Girl to Victoria, TV is pretty good at the moment and I'm hugely enjoying all three of those. Oh, and I've also become completely addicted to Gilmore Girls. Yes, I know I'm about ten years (or more) late to this party but I've only just started watching it on Netflix and I'm obsessed

Listening to :: As I said in my last post, I can't get enough of Lauren Aquilina's new album 'Isn't It Strange?' so that's what I'm listening to, pretty much non-stop!

Loving :: Being back in Exeter. This summer was incredible and I really had the time of my life but four months off was definitely long enough and, as much as I'm sure I'm going to be taking back saying this once lectures start next week, I feel really ready to study and get stuck into my new modules. Who am I kidding, this feeling will probably last all of a day come Monday, but for now I'm looking forward to it!

And that's my mind dump done! I hope it was mildly interesting and that you're all having a wonderful week!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Isn't It Strange?

As much as I love music and like sharing the odd song I can't get out of my head on here, I don't think I've ever talked about a whole album before. Unless it comes to an artist I completely adore (ie. Mumford & Sons, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Bear's Den), I rarely listen to an entire album and instead tend to just add specific tracks I like the sound of to my Spotify playlist. 

But 'Isn't It Strange?' by Lauren Aquilina I love in its entirety. I first heard a song from it this weekend in Hannah Witton's favourites video (side note: I also love Hannah and think her YouTube channel is really great) and decided to add Lauren's debut album to my current playlist to see what I thought.

As I started hearing different tracks from the album when I shuffled my playlist I realised how much I love the sound of Lauren's songs. They don't all sound the same, but in my opinion they have their own sound overall which makes them distinct from anything else I have on my playlist at the moment. That might just be because I tend to listen to quite similar styles of music, I'm not sure. All I know is that every time one of the tracks from 'Isn't It Strange?' comes on, I feel strangely energised and want to hear more.

So, over the past few days, you could say a bit of an obsession has developed with this album. The sound is amazing, Lauren's voice is smooth and beautiful, and the lyrics really steal the show for me. Each song is so relevant in that they're about different aspects of modern relationships - be it the games people play in 'Wicked Games' or how weird it is to have someone who was once such a big part of your life become not a part of it at all after a break up in 'Suddenly Strangers'.

I think this album will really resonate with any young adult because of the themes it deals with and would fit right in to anyone's playlist. My personal favourite tracks are Midnight Mouths, Wicked Game and Suddenly Strangers so, if nothing else, give those a listen and let me know what you think! If you're looking for something new to listen to, I'd really recommend giving Lauren Aquilina's debut album a go, I absolutely love it.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Budapest 2016 Travel Diary Part ii | Buda & the Széchenyi Thermal Baths

Today I'm following on from Sunday's post all about Pest to tell you what myself, Lish and Emma did in Buda and about visiting the Széchenyi Thermal Baths during our last two days in Budapest. If you haven't read part i you can do so here!

So, after visiting the Great Indoor Market in Pest for lunch, we crossed over the closest bridge into Buda. We'd heard that Buda had a different character to Pest and I immediately felt that once we'd walked for a bit after crossing the bridge - Pest feels a lot younger, cooler and more relaxed while Buda is a lot more stereotypically beautiful and richer.

We walked along to Buda castle which I have to say is amazing but, in my opinion, a lot more stunning to see at night when it's all lit up. Since we were trying to save money, we didn't bother paying to see inside the castle and instead, as we were so tired from all the walking in the heat, stopped for a much-needed ice cream and sit down.

Feeling slightly more rejuvenated, we made our way further into Buda until we came to the stunning Matthias Church you can see above. The colours and style of it, which the photo doesn't do justice at all, are an incredible sight to see and I think it was my favourite thing about Buda. There is also an amazing view of Pest across the Danube river which you can see from here, making it a perfect pit stop if you've been walking in the heat as we had.

We carried on through the city until we got to the point where we were walking down residential streets. This, again, showed me how different Buda is to Pest and was really interesting to see. After this we decided to make our way back to Pest. Although it might not sound like we did much in Buda, by this point we had done a lot of walking in around thirty degree heat and the church and castle were the main things we wanted to see so we were happy to leave having ticked them off.

On our way back to Pest, we decided to stop to explore Margaret Island, a tiny island in the middle of the Danube river that's just 2.5km long. It has a very sweet little musical fountain, which seemed to be the main attraction of the island! When we got to the fountain it was playing Frozen's Let it Go sung in Hungarian which was an incredibly surreal thing to witness! I mean, I love Frozen as much as anyone (although probably not as much as my young family friends because, dear Lord, I've never seen such an obsession!), but it does feel a little like there is no escape from that song anywhere.

There's something about fountains though that I find really relaxing and it was nice to stop and admire this strange little island by watching the fountain. Margaret Island isn't somewhere that I'd say you *have* to see in Budapest, but it's a nice little place to explore if you do have the time!

By the time we got back to our apartment we were starving and so just went out for dinner and cocktails before heading to bed, exhausted after all our walking.

On our final full day we decided to visit one of the thermal bath spas Budapest is so well known for. I had heard the most about the Széchenyi Thermal Baths so we ended up going there and they really were stunning. After two days of lots of walking, a day by the pool with two great books (On Beauty by Zadie Smith and The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, if you were wondering) was just what the doctor ordered. We also took the forty-five minute walk there and back which excused all the laying around we did that day for sure!

Going to one of Budapest's thermal baths is such an interesting experience as there's really nothing like it I've been to in the UK. They feature lots of swimming pools and saunas heated to different temperatures with the most beautiful buildings surrounding them. To be honest, after going in a couple of the pools for a bit, I personally was happy to spend the rest of the day lounging on a deckchair reading, although if you love being in the water, one of the thermal baths is probably your dream place! For me though the deckchairs by the pool were perfect and the whole day was pure bliss.

If you're going to go to one I'd recommend booking in advance so that you don't have to queue, getting a private cabin as it's not that expensive and it's nice to have somewhere to change and keep your stuff locked up in one, and I'd also suggest taking your own towel so you don't have to splash out on one of theirs. It's such a relaxing way to spend a day and I really enjoyed it!

The following day was our last day and, as we had to check out of our Airbnb so had our suitcases, we just spent it in a nice cafe playing cards and chatting. I really loved our trip to Budapest and it was a great way to round off all the travelling I've been lucky enough to do this summer. If you're thinking of going, do it! It's  a really beautiful city with lots to see and do and try - I don't think you can really ask for more from a city break!

I hope you've enjoyed hearing about my travels this summer. From Verona to Venice to Romania to Cornwall to Paris to Budapest, it's been really jam packed and I've loved every single minute!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Budapest 2016 Travel Diary Part i | Exploring Pest

Budapest has become *the* European city to go to over the past few years. More and more people are visiting and raving about it (or so it's seemed to me) and have been telling me that I absolutely must go! After a time, it becomes hard to ignore so many people recommending you visit a place and so it's been on my mind as somewhere I've wanted to visit for a while now. Flights there in mid August aren't so much on the cheap side but everything once you're there is unbelievably inexpensive. I was quickly sold on it and so, on the 16th August, myself and my friends Lish and Emma flew to Budapest for four nights.

I only found out a few months ago that Budapest is actually split into two cities, Buda and Pest, that are separated by the Danube river - cool huh? We arrived at our Airbnb in Pest in the early evening, went to a supermarket to stock up on water and supplies (read: Milka and M&Ms) and changed some money before heading out for dinner. If you're travelling to Budapest yourself and thinking about where to stay, I'd personally suggest staying in Pest over Buda. While you should definitely explore both when there, Pest seemed to me to be much more alive in the evenings and  there's much more stuff in Pest to do/see. Also, don't change your money before you get there or even in the Budapest airport. There are so many change places where you can get Hungarian Forint around the city for a much better rate than anywhere else.

Anyway, after sorting ourselves out at the apartment, we went to Kiosk for dinner on Abi's recommendation. Kiosk is one of the most beautiful restaurants I've ever been to. In the evening it's stunningly lit inside by more candles than I think I've ever seen and often has live music that really adds to its amazing atmosphere. It's a fancy restaurant but still very cheap and worth going to if you want a nice meal out. It seems that Hungarians are obsessed with the spice paprika and so I tried Kiosk's paprika chicken which was really good, along with a huge cocktail. We were so full from our dinners after this that we couldn't eat dessert but planned to come back on our last night to try one as they looked so incredible. Instead, we went for a walk along the river which was practically right outside the restaurant and admired the view of Buda at night across the Danube.

The next morning, after sleeping through a massive thunderstorm, we headed to Hungary's Parliament which was only a ten minute walk away from our Airbnb and decided to go for a tour around it. It is an incredibly, incredibly impressive building. One that will take your breath away the first time you see it for sure. We found out that it's actually vaguely based on our Westminster Parliament with its gothic style, but is much brighter in its colours. The tour was the perfect length - we were engaged and enjoyed the entire thing but had it been longer our concentration might not have held up so well - I'd really suggest going on one if you're even vaguely interested. You can buy tickets here in advance if you don't want to risk queuing on the day.

Having stopped at a cafe for lunch and a quick nap back at our apartment because Lish and I couldn't keep our eyes open any longer (I blame the heat!), we mustered up the energy to go and see St Stephen's Basilica before going to explore the Jewish Quarter of Pest. As a side note, we walked everywhere on our trip and it was a really good way of getting to see everything; you definitely don't need to get cabs or public transport except for to/from the airport so, if you have the energy, I'd really recommend seeing everything on foot. 

We were all a little underwhelmed by the Basilica. It is amazing but we'd heard such incredible things about it that it didn't quite live up to our expectations, although it was lovely. Right by the Basilica, down the street, there's a gelateria which makes the beautiful rose-shaped ice creams you can see pictured above. Considering how pretty they look, they are incredibly cheap and I think one with three flavours cost me the equivalent of about £2. In most places in England you couldn't even get one normal scoop for that amount of money so you've definitely got an excuse for an ice cream stop or five if you're ever in Budapest!

After this we walked to the Jewish Quarter and had a look around at the incredible synagogues, one of which is the largest synagogue in Europe. We ended up having dinner in this area before making our way to the Szimpla Ruin Bars in the same Quarter. Everyone we knew between us who has been to Budapest had told us we needed to go here. You walk in and there are around three floors of different bars in an old abandoned building. We went to the cocktail bar, got one each to start with, and sat down to soak up the atmosphere. It's a really cool place that I'd love to go back to and well worth going to see for yourself!

The following morning, after we had a lie-in, we walked to our last pitstop of Pest that we wanted to see before venturing over to Buda: The Great Market Hall. I absolutely love exploring big European markets. When I went to Barcelona last year, one of my favourite things was going to the market every day, looking around at what they had and getting something for breakfast or lunch. They always have such great atmospheres, and the Budapest one lived up to this. It was really nice to walk around it and see all of the produce, fresh fruit and souvenirs you could buy. What most excited me though was that, after a lot of searching I found a place that served traditional beef goulash which was a reasonable price. And OH MY GOD, it was amazing. It's traditionally accompanied with some type of pasta thing that I can't really describe but which you can see in the photo above; sounds weird, but tastes great!

After lunch we walked over one of the bridges into Buda, and, so that this post doesn't become an actual book, I'm going to hold off and share that part of the trip as well as our visit to one of the bath spas Budapest is famous for, in a few days. I hope you're having a lovely bank holiday weekend!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Paris 2016 Travel Diary

I have known my friend Rosie since we were four years old. We lived on the same road until I was eight and went to the same primary school. In the past fifteen years that we've known each other we had been in Paris together twice before this trip a couple of weeks ago. Once, when we were both eight and our families randomly bumped into each other in Disneyland (talk about a small world right?!), and another time when we were fifteen for our school's French exchange. One way or another, Paris has kind of become our place and, since my Dad retired to a small town forty minutes outside of Paris last year, we decided to take a visit this summer so that I could see him and so that we could go to Paris again.

A couple of Fridays ago we hopped on the Eurostar at an ungodly hour, slept most of the journey, and met my Dad at the Gare du Nord. The Eurostar is incredibly convenient and, if you book in advance, it can be very reasonably priced so, if you live in or near London, I'd say it's the best way to get into Paris. 

We spent the first night at my Dad and his girlfriend's, who live in a really beautiful house with an incredible garden. It felt like the kind of place you could go to and really relax, what with the sound of the little pond's fountain in the garden and a hammock to read books in. We had a delicious lunch there and then headed to Versailles since neither Rosie nor myself had been before. 

The Château de Versailles, as you can see, is absolutely breathtaking. Home to King Louis XIV and built originally in the seventeenth century, the palace and gardens are HUGE and to say that they are extravagant would be a massive understatement. It's almost grotesque how lavish the palace is, but it is an amazing sight to behold and worth seeing in my opinion.

We didn't go inside the palace itself as the queue to enter was so long, so if you wanted to see the interior I'd suggest booking in advance if you can. But the gardens are much quicker to get into and my student ticket was only seven euros which I'd say is pretty reasonable considering how big the grounds are. You could easily spend hours there walking around but, after an hour or so, we decided to head back as it was so hot.

My Dad has been telling me about a little Italian restaurant in the village he lives in ever since he moved there so we all went there for dinner in the evening and it did serve amazing pizza so he was definitely right to rave about it! We had a fairly early night as Rosie and I were so tired from the 4:30am wake up call and wanted to make the most of our weekend in Paris, which started the next morning.

 After an early lunch on Saturday, my Dad and his girlfriend Nicole drove us to our Airbnb in Paris and left us to do our own exploring. On a side note, the Airbnb we stayed in was perfect for us. It was a tiny studio but the wifi and shower were great, the bed was super comfy and the apartment was just a five minute walk from the metro stop 'Bonne Nouvelle', which meant that we could get into the centre of Paris really quickly. We were amazed at how cheap the Parisian metro was, especially compared with London underground's prices, and so would highly advise using the metro if you want to get around Paris quickly!

Since Rosie and I had both been to Paris multiple times before, we decided to see our favourite parts again but not to feel rushed to pack loads in. This meant that the weekend was actually very relaxing and not a mad race against time to fit in as much as possible each day. We headed to the Champs-Élysées first, which is one of Paris' most well known shopping streets, stopped in at Ladurée for one four macaroons each (which were *heavenly*) and walked to the top of the street to see the Arc de Triomphe, as pictured above. As I'm sure you'll have heard if you haven't seen it yourself, Parisian architecture is absolutely beautiful and, although this street is always full of people, it's a really nice place to visit if you have the time.

The Eiffel Tower is just a fifteen to twenty minute walk from the Champs-Élysées and so we walked along the Seine until we spotted it. Although we'd both seen it so many times before, you can't really go to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower - it's like some kind of law!

After sitting on the grass in the sun near the tower for a while and chatting, we went for a quick and early dinner before having a nutella and banana crepe and then catching the metro back to our apartment where we spent the evening watching YouTube videos on the tv. What with the horrible terrorist attacks in France over the past eighteen months, we didn't feel like staying out late and that was the reasoning behind heading back so early, although I know such things could happen at any time of course.

Sunday was an incredibly hot day and we ended up taking a lot of pitstops to cool down because of that! We headed out of the apartment relatively early, got on the metro, and walked to the Sacré-Coeur. The Sacré-Coeur is Rosie's favourite thing to see in Paris, and the cathedral is absolutely beautiful. I've never seen it in front of such a blue sky before and it really is a sight to behold. If you go you must walk up to it and walk around - there's an artists' market with lots of artists selling their amazing paintings at the top. I have my own little canvas painting of the Eiffel Tower my Mum bought me there years ago and I adore it; there are some real treasures in that market. The view from the top is breathtaking as well, and shows you just how special Paris truly is.

After a walk around we stopped in at a supermarket and boulangerie to buy a fresh baguette and some picnic essentials. We made our way to the Jardin du Luxembourg and had an incredible picnic with fresh baguette bread, salami, brie and grapes. It was so nice to relax in the shade of the lovely gardens for a while after all those steps in the heat up to the Sacré-Coeur.

If you haven't been to Paris before you simply must visit some museums, I'm not the biggest fan of art exhibitions although I've started to appreciate them more in recent years, but some pieces of art I believe simply beg to be seen. The Musée d'Orsay and Louvre are particularly famous and special galleries to visit. But, since Rosie and I had both been there before, we hoped to visit a new museum and, having heard a lot about the Musée de l'Orangerie, we headed there on Sunday afternoon. However, the queue to get in was over an hour and, in the heat, we decided we couldn't wait that long in a queue and so gave it a miss this time. It was a real shame but we should have thought it through really - it's definitely one to see next time!

Instead, we made our way to Shakespeare & Co, an incredibly sweet English bookshop near the Notre-Dame Cathedral, picked up a book each after having a looking around the shop, and sat in its lovely cafe outside and read for about an hour and a half. Being in the heat and the sun all day travelling around can be incredibly tiring and I think we both needed that down time. It was actually so nice to just read for a while; I feel like I haven't had the chance to do that in forever, never mind in such an amazing location.

That evening we went to a restaurant that I can't recommend enough. I found an article from The Guardian featuring the best affordable restaurants Paris has to offer and, as so many were closed due to it being a Sunday/many restaurants closing for August while their owners are on holiday, we ended up at the Bistrot Victoires which remained open! It's a wonderful restaurant. We sat outside, had a really friendly and polite waiter, and proceeded to eat the most delicious steak and chips (me) and duck confit (Rosie) with a glass of wine. We followed this with profiteroles with hazelnut ice cream in the middle (both of us) for around twenty euros each. It was *amazing* and we loved it. Definitely go there if you're looking for a nice, authentic and affordable meal!

The next day we went back to my Dad's to spend time with him and Nicole a bit before getting the Eurostar home. All in all it was such a great trip and so nice to get to catch up with Rosie and explore some more of Paris. It's not my favourite place in the world as much as I do like it but I can see why people fall in love with it and I think it's somewhere you have to see at least once in your lifetime.

Sorry for how long this post has become but I wanted to include everything and not leave parts out -  I really hope you've enjoyed reading it anyway!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

On My Happy List #07

The past couple of months have been a bit manic, in that I've spent them going from one place to another, catching up with different people and not spending all that much time relaxing at home. I've really loved them though and been so happy over the past few weeks so thought I'd take a moment to share a bit of positivity and let you all know what's been making me happy as of late. Please do let me know what's been making you happy recently too!

Taken by the lovely Rosie in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

1 // Travelling - As you've probably seen from my recent write ups of trips I've taken, in the past few months I've been lucky enough to go to Venice and Verona, Romania, Cornwall, Paris and am in Budapest right now! Seeing new places and rediscovering ones I've already been to is just the best thing I think you can do when you have a few months off. There's really nothing like seeing new parts of the world and immersing yourself in different cultures to give you a new and uplifting perspective on the planet we inhabit - something that is harder and harder to achieve now that things seem to have become incredibly dark in recent times and so I'm hugely grateful for having had the chance to travel so much this summer.

2 // Clearing out my wardrobe - This may sound like a strange thing to have made me happy enough to be on this list but I can't begin to tell you how much better clearing out my wardrobe has made me feel. Coming home from university for the summer and trying to fit all of my clothes into a wardrobe overspilling with ones that were already there was no mean feat and it drove me mad every time I opened it to feel like I couldn't find anything I wanted to wear. So, finally, I sat down and sorted through everything and got rid of things that I literally haven't worn in years. I've made a bit of money from ebaying some of it and when I open my wardrobe I now feel like I can actually see everything. All in all it was definitely worth doing. And it's given me an excuse to buy some new clothes that I actually want to wear, as well as some new pairs of matching underwear. Because when do you ever feel more ready to tackle the world than when you're wearing matching underwear?! It was a necessity ;)

3 // Having this space to document everything and buying my first 'proper' camera - Having managed to vaguely keep up with writing here this year has made me so so happy. It's just wonderful to come here and write up whatever I may be wanting to share on any given day. I may not have thousands of readers and it may just be a hobby, but it's such a good one and I *love* it. Since I've been enjoying it so much I decided to finally take the plunge and buy a proper camera in July so that I don't rely on my iPhone for photos anymore. I went for the Olympus Pen E-PL7 on Rhianna's and many other's recommendations and I have truly fallen in love with it. It's so easy to use, although I'd love to learn more about its different settings, it takes amazing photos and isn't so big that it weighs me down in my handbag. I'd really recommend it if you're searching for your first camera!

4 // Catching up with people I love - The time I've been given with these months off has allowed me to finally catch up with and spend proper time with so many people I love. And is there anything better than that really? As everyone always says, time goes so quickly and it means that I often don't catch up with people as often as I'd like to. So getting to see my best friends on a fairly regular basis this summer has made such a huge difference to my mood - it feels like such a treat considering we've been dotted all around the country this year. 

5 // Summer - Pretty much all of the above things that have been making me happy have been possible because I've had time off. Summer really is my favourite season - the weather (when the sun comes out in England), the relaxed atmosphere (is it just me or is everyone less stressed in the Summer?) and the excuse to drink Pimms on tap (not that I do that... of course!) really lifts my spirit like nothing else. Pathetic fallacy is something that I find genuinely affects me and so I truly am my happiest in the summer months. When the days are longer I feel freer and more alive and that unsurprisingly makes me incredibly happy!

I hope you're all having a lovely week and enjoying August as much as I am. I'll be back soon with my Paris travel diary!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Cornwall 2016 Travel Diary

Cornwall has to be the epitome of the English holiday. It boasts some stunning beaches, fun activities and, of course, an abundance of fish and chip shops. It is, however, as much of England is, prone to rain, grey skies and low temperatures, even in August. Nonetheless, it's the perfect place to go for a holiday with your best friends - especially if you're lucky enough to have a friend who will let you all stay in her family house there, as I was at the start of last week!

Up until last week I hadn't been to Cornwall since I was a little girl despite spending this year at university in Devon, so I was really looking forward to seeing some parts of it again. Myself and seven of my friends drove down to Rock in North Cornwall last Monday. Although it was a long five hour drive, we were prepared with snacks, a great roadtrip playlist and each other's company which resulted in it going much quicker than expected.

When we arrived at the house it was, in typical British fashion, pouring down with rain so we ran in and had a sit down before attempting to face the outside. In fact, on the first day we ended up only going out to go to the small village supermarket, bakery and butcher's as it didn't stop raining for even one minute! There's something so quaint about going to a little village where you have to go to three different places to buy all the things you want which did nothing but add to the novelty of Rock.

It was still a lovely first day though as it had been such a long time since we'd last been together and being cooped up inside gave us a chance to catch up, to eat some amazing chilli made by my friend Lydia, and to drink copious amounts of homemade sangria - taking us back to our trip to Barcelona last year!

The next morning (some of us with sorer heads than others!) we had bacon sandwiches and watched a lot of Friends until the weather brightened up in the afternoon. Once it had, we jumped into the cars and drove the short drive to Polzeath Beach, which I would highly recommend going to if you're in the area. I've never been one to particularly enjoy going in the sea and have in the past actively avoided trying out any kind of water activity beyond splashing around a bit. But, as everyone else was, I decided to give body boarding a try, wetsuits and all!

And, do you know what? I absolutely LOVED it! I'm still in shock typing this now considering I spent the entirety of a surfing lesson I had a few years ago falling off and into the sea, vowing to never try anything like it again, but body boarding was so much easier and so fun! It really had to be the highlight of the trip for me as it was such a nice surprise to enjoy spending such a long time in the sea. That evening we had fish and chips, played Cluedo and watched Wild Child. It was honestly the perfect day with my favourites.

On the following day we got the ferry over to Padstow. Padstow is the *cutest* little English town you've ever seen. It's very small but incredibly sweet, filled with pasty shops (which is a compulsory stop for lunch!), stalls selling frendship bracelets and anklets, and little shops selling classic seaside prints and shells. There are also a few ice cream shops that sell delicious ice cream, which I can confirm is definitely worth getting!

Wednesday was our last day sadly as I was going to Paris early Friday morning and so we didn't spend very long in Padstow before coming back to Rock and setting off back home. I know travelling five hours for just two nights seems crazy but this summer we've all been so busy that it was the only time we could all do when Emma's family weren't staying in their holiday house themselves. It was so worth it though to be able to spend even that amount of time together, away from everything, considering how much we've been apart this year at different universities. Cornwall is such a beautiful place and well worth visiting if you're looking for a break from city life in England. Polzeath Beach especially stole my heart so I'd highly recommend going there if you have a chance.

At some point over the next few weeks I'll be writing up my travel diary for Paris which I got back from on Monday and then I'm off to Budapest this Tuesday so you can expect another travel diary sometime after that. I really hope you enjoy reading travel posts as there's lots coming your way at the moment! Have a lovely weekend, whatever you're up to!
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