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

Sunday, 31 January 2016

A Weekend Break In Dartmoor

Last weekend my Mum and four of her closest friends drove down to Devon, picked me up from Exeter and took us all to a stunning cottage in Dartmoor for a weekend break. I've known these friends of my Mum for so long that they're practically family which made for such a perfect weekend away.

The cottage itself was all you could ask for really; cosy, homely and with a delicious home-cooked meal waiting for us upon our arrival. The fire pictured above was just magical, there's little I find as comforting as sitting by a warm fire. It's something that I find such a novelty having never lived in a house with a real fire myself and after last weekend it's a definite feature of my 'dream house'.

We spent the three evenings we had here playing games, watching films and reading books. This cottage and area really is the perfect place to get away from it all for a few days. We, all being from London, spent a long time discussing whether we could ever live somewhere so in the countryside permanently and concluded a resounding no. Nevertheless, we also all admitted how lovely it is to go to the country to recharge your batteries and get a break from city life.

Saturday was spent visiting Ashburton, the local town, which was a wonderfully quaint place that you could happily explore for a few hours (which we did), and then went on an afternoon dog walk. On Sunday we went for Sunday lunch at The Rugglestone Inn at Widecome in the Moor and I had the most amazing beef and ale pie followed by treacle tart with clotted cream. There's nothing I love more than a Sunday pub lunch and I can't recommend visiting The Rugglestone Inn enough if you're in that part of Dartmoor - the food was impeccable and the staff lovely.

And that was really all we did last weekend. It was so nice to get away for a few days and reset myself a little. I find that spending time around people you've known for years is really great for relaxing because you never feel like you have to make a big effort with them! Dartmoor is definitely somewhere I'd go back to for a weekend away, we had such a fabulous time.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Currently #09

Reading :: The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I can't remember who recommended this to me but it's been on my 'to read' list for a while now and I am *so* glad that I finally picked it up at the start of this month. Tartt is an incredible writer and, 450 pages in, I can honestly say I have no idea where the plot is going to go. It's a gripping, can't-stop-reading kind of book and if you haven't already, I urge you to read it right away. Also, in terms of how reading's going in general, I'm still not reading as much as I'd like because of uni and everything taking up a lot of my time, but I've been trying to make more time for it again which I'm loving.

Eating :: Pretty much everything in sight. I was on the phone to a friend yesterday talking about how difficult I find it in January to be healthy and realised that it's probably because I spend the entirety of December eating whatever the hell I like. It's obviously not going to be easy to get back on the healthy eating bandwagon going from Christmas to trying not to eat any chocolate so, while I've been managing to go to the gym twice a week and actually enjoying it, health in terms of food is not going so well. But hopefully I'll turn that around asap.

Thinking about :: The future in all kinds of ways. My mind is running around so much lately and I'm not sure what's sparked it. I've been thinking non-stop about both the near-future and late-future. Daydreaming about summer holidays and what I want to do with my summer this year. Trying to work out what I want to do when I finish uni, what industry I'd like to work in (a bit premature, I know but it seems mad to me that I have no idea what I want to do). The list goes on. It's been a thinking-heavy month so far for sure.

Watching :: War & Peace and all the Harry Potter films. War & Peace is a series currently showing on BBC One based on Tolstoy's novel. I am loving it. I adore period dramas and this one has been adapted so so well. The acting is a dream and the story captivating; I can't recommend it enough. After the heartbreaking death of Alan Rickman last week my uni friends and I were really in the mood to watch Harry Potter, although I don't know when I'm ever not in the mood to watch it to be honest. We've watched one a night over the past week and it's been so nice to revisit those wonderful films.

Loving :: Receiving letters in the post. I've always loved letter writing but had completely fallen out of the habit of ever writing letters because, to put it bluntly, why would I? With technology today it's so easy to just send someone a text, give them a call or Skype and so it hardly seems worth the effort to put pen to paper. How stupid I was to think that! Luckily my lovely friend Josie moving to Senegal for a year to teach in a school there has given me the excuse to write letters again. We've been writing back and forth to each other since October and it really gives me such joy to receive and read her letters. There's something so special about it that makes me hope I don't fall back into the habit of just using my phone to communicate when she's back - letter writing is really something else.

So that's where I'm at right now I guess. I hope everyone has had a good week. My Mum and some family friends have booked what looks like a stunning cottage in Dartmoor for today until Sunday so I'm going to stay there this weekend and I can't wait!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Where I Want to Travel in the Next Five Years

While I've said that this year I'm not going to set specific goals, and instead am just forcusing on one mantra, I think that January is a time when we unavoidably look to the future. And, in doing so, I've been thinking a lot recently about how much I'd love to travel and to see some particular places.

Whenever I manage to save a substantial amount of money (albeit it probably not much in most people's books, student budget and all) my mind doesn't go to clothes, make up or music first. Those are definitely things I love to spend money on but, I've found that really, all I can think of doing with that money is going somewhere on holiday.

There's nothing like exploring somewhere new with the people you love in my eyes and so, to give myself a bit of a kick up the bum to start saving properly more than anything else, I thought I'd compile a list of places I'm going to aim to visit in the next five years. Five years doesn't seem too daunting and is probably something that I could budget for, if I'm careful about it!

1 // New Zealand - My sister moved to the south island of New Zealand six or seven years ago now and has since got married and started a family there so of course I want to go and visit as soon as I have the time and money to do it properly. New Zealand also looks absolutely breathtaking and I've never heard of someone going and not loving it so I'm sure that it would be amazing.

2 // New York - Going to New York in the Winter is something that I've dreamed about for years. It may be partly fuelled by my Gossip Girl obsession, it's true, but it looks incredible and I'd love to spend a good two weeks *at least* exploring all the different parts of it and finding out what New York life is really like. I'd even love to maybe work there for a few months some day, that would truly be the dream.

3 // Rome - Anyone who knows me well knows that I am completely infatuated with anything Italian and all I really want to do is travel all over Italy until I've satisfied my cravings for Italian food, architecture and culture... if that's even possible. Rome is a pretty obvious destination with that in mind and I just feel like it's somewhere I really need to go to begin my exploration of Italy properly, let's hope it happens soon.

4 // Venice - Is picking two places in the same country cheating? I'm going to go with no because I feel just as strongly about visiting Venice if not more than I do about visiting Rome. Venice seems like such a romantic city and I would just love to go on a gondola ride and get to know it for a week or two, it sounds and looks like paradise to me.

5 // Morocco - There's something about Marrakesh that I'm really drawn to. Maybe it's what I've heard about the markets, the food, the culture, I don't know. All of those things play a part for sure and it does look incredible. It's not too far to go and I'm sure it would make for a wonderful holiday, so there aren't any excuses really are there?

Five places in five years. That seems doable. Let's see if I can make it happen!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Recently I'm Reading // Places I Stopped On The Way Home

I've always been in love with Meg's blog and her beautiful way with words. Meg writes like no one else. If you haven't read her work before it's difficult to describe but the way she writes about things makes it not only feel as though you're there yourself, seeing her experiences, but her words are so relatable that you yourself are reminded of experiences of your own life. For me that's the mark of a great writer, and Meg is certainly that.

She announced that she was releasing an ebook back in October, consisting of sixteen essays and describing it as "my love letter to what has been and what will be". I finally got around to buying and reading it over the holidays and it's safe to say I devoured it in one sitting. Writing about her experiences with men, both good and bad, as well as her love affair with New York City, it's perfect reading for anyone who is in the midst of it all. In the midst of becoming who they want to be or even just trying to find out who the hell that is.

In a world where we're increasingly being told to 'fit the mould' and are expected to know who we are almost as soon as we've hit puberty, Meg's words are so so refreshing. Her wisdom and talent in story-telling shine through every single essay and by the end all I wanted was more.

If I haven't made it clear yet that I can't recommend Places I Stopped On The Way Home enough I don't know how else I'm going to so I'll leave it here. I loved it so much that I just *had* to share, if you're interested you can buy the ebook here.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

London in Winter

You know the best thing about living in London and getting to come home to it in the holidays? London in Winter. I mean, if you know me you know I love London all year round. But London in the Winter is on another level completely.

I'm not talking about wintry days when it's chucking it down with rain (which it often is in Britain). I'm talking about days when the air is crisp and there's a definite chill but the sun is shining, lighting up all of London's beautiful architecture, just making it a joy to live in.

Christmas Eve Eve was one of these perfect wintry London days and, I have to say, it makes it incredibly hard to leave it behind for Exeter, where I'm heading back today. I know I'm late blogging about this day but it's been such a hectic time of year and, well just *look* at it. I couldn't not write about such a beautiful day.

I spent Christmas Eve Eve with my friend, Lish. We decided we'd missed London (and each other) so much that spending the day being almost-tourists was a necessity. Southbank, as pictured above, wasn't where we ventured first though.

First we got the tube to Oxford Circus because I was desperate to visit Said - an incredible little Italian cafe that makes the most amazing hot chocolate and cakes. You absolutely must visit if you're in the area and craving hot chocolate, or anything chocolate at all. The hot chocolate is like nothing you've ever tasted before, pure melted chocolate with a choice of milk or dark. Alongside it I had a salted dark chocolate cookie, because really, is there such a thing as too much chocolate?! The interior of the cafe is stunning too, honestly I can't wait to go back here and couldn't recommend it enough.

We then had a quick look around Liberty's Christmas section before heading to Covent Garden to pick up some last minute Christmas presents and admire the beautiful tree that's there every year.

After meandering around Covent Garden for a while, we headed to Southbank to look around the Christmas markets and, deciding we were hungry enough for a late lunch as the chocolate rush from earlier had finally worn off, we got a table at Las Iguanas before making our way home.

This day got me in the Christmas spirit properly and reminded me why London really must be one of the best cities in the world. It was so nice as well to catch up with Lish and to talk about everything. I can't believe how quickly this holiday's gone but I know that I'll be back soon enough so, until next time London...

Friday, 1 January 2016

On New Year's Day 2016

Happy New Year! I hope that 2016 brings you everything you wish for and is full of love and happiness. To say I'm feeling a little bit worse for wear today would be an understatement but I had a wonderful night spending New Year's Eve with some of my best friends.

I know it's a cliche to say so, but I'm so glad that 2015 is now gone and 2016 brings a new chance to grow and learn. This year I'm not going to set a specific list of goals or resolutions as I have done in recent years and instead I'm just going to try and live by one mantra: acceptance.

I lost myself a little in the last few months of 2015 so this year I want to learn to fully accept myself, to accept others and to accept the things I can't change. We can all be so hard on ourselves and I suppose I want to learn to let things go a little this year and have a good perspective in everything I face.

So for once I've chosen an option that avoids making a list (very unlike me) and acceptance is what I'm going to strive for in 2016. What about you? Is there anything in particular you're striving for this year? I'd love to hear your resolutions!
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