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

Sunday, 30 April 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 17

Happy Sunday! I hope you're having a wonderful bank holiday weekend. I'm spending mine revising which isn't all that much fun but in less than a month now I'll be free for summer so I can't really complain!

I can't get over the fact that today is the last day of April. This holiday has gone so quickly and, although I'm really ready to go back to Exeter on Tuesday, this month has felt so short, I don't know if it's just me or what.

Anyway, this week's list is a bit of a somber one: "List the difficult moments in your past that have shaped you for the better." But the fact is, although all these things were difficult, they have made me the person I am today and for that I'm incredibly grateful, so here they are...

  • My parents divorcing when I was six - No child wants their parents to have to divorce and having it happen is for the most part a horrible experience. But both my Mum and Dad are so much better off for it and, in the long run, I was much happier for it too.
  • My first break up - My first boyfriend (if you can really call it that, I was fourteen!) were together for only around three months but when he broke up with me I was absolutely devastated in that classic, teenage way. I thought the world was ending. It's so funny looking back on it now! But I learnt a lot about myself from that, and about boys, and both of those lessons have been very helpful.
  • Moving house and changing schools when I was sixteen - My Mum and I moved from Surrey to south-west London just before I started my A Levels and I was distraught. I adored my old school and all of my friends there and we'd lived in Surrey since I was three, so essentially my whole life. That, and starting a new school where everyone had already known each other for five years, was incredibly daunting to me and I was so upset for months. But, as things tend to, it all worked out for the best and I met the most wonderful people at my new school and wouldn't live anywhere but London now!
  • A Levels - As much as I loved the two years in which I took my A Levels they were also so damn stressful. So much pressure was put on me and my friends and, while it definitely paid off and I learnt so much from them and the stress of exams, at the time they were incredibly hard.
  • My first proper relationship ending - This break up was different to the first one in 100 ways. I mean, firstly, we were together for two and a half years and, to make it worse, it ended horribly and in the middle of my A Level exams. It wasn't easy to deal with but I knew I'd be ok this time, that life would move on and that I had so much ahead of me. The way it ended taught me a lot about what I want out of life and relationships.
  • First term at university - Adding this to the list might sound strange because Freshers is generally thought of as one big party where you have no responsibilities. And it is fun. But it's also really hard. You're typically living away from home at the first time with total strangers in a place you don't know very well and drinking quite a lot. That's a big deal. And, while I enjoyed it, it was also a difficult period in my life. I was coming to terms with a lot about myself and doing it in an environment that wasn't the most secure. It did, however, also involve meeting loads of amazing new people, learning a lot more about who I am and how to ask for help so I'll always remember it fondly I'm sure.
  • Going for a few sessions of therapy - I don't know whether I've ever written about the fact that I've had a few sessions of therapy before. I'd been in the past to help deal with my parents divorce but the time I'm talking about was just after my first term of university (hence the reference for learning how to ask for help earlier). I felt pretty lost around Christmas 2015 and wanted to work some things out with someone completely external. My Mum, being a therapist herself, was so unbelievably supportive and kindly paid for me to have a few sessions of therapy and, although it was scary, I am so grateful for those few hours. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. In fact, I think the world would be a much better and happier place if we all did ask for it a bit more, and those sessions taught me so much. 

So there you have it. Overall I know, of course, how lucky and privileged I am and that I haven't gone through anything that's incredibly traumatic or of any comparison to what awful things many people go through every day. 

But, nonetheless, all of these things were very difficult at the time of going through them. And I suppose all these things go to show that, in my experience, we always learn the most when faced with periods of our life that challenge us to the core. 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Cream Cakes & Cocktails at Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour

For my birthday this year Ellie got me a voucher for cream cakes and cocktails at Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour in Covent Garden and I don't think you could have got me a more perfect present! Gin, a selection of cakes and a beautiful bar that felt like walking into the 1920s... it's literally everything that I love in one place and on Monday afternoon we finally got to go!

First things first, I have to say how accommodating the staff were because, just as Ellie and I had both got on our separate trains into central London, there was an incident which meant that all trains to London Waterloo were delayed and so we ended up being half an hour late - but when I rang to let them know they were so helpful and pushed our booking back thirty minutes which was great! 

When we arrived we had our coats taken before being shown into the Gin Parlour and sat at our table. The Gin Parlour is *beautiful* and it was clear that no attention to detail had been spared to make the room and bar look absolutely incredible. 

Once we'd taken a few seconds to admire how stunning the room was we were swiftly given the cocktail menu, which was a choice of three gin-based cocktails, and they were soon brought to us to enjoy along with our selection of cakes...

Ellie and I were honestly in heaven and, while the cake selection might not look like much from the photo above, they were all delicious and we both noticed how full we were afterwards! My cocktail was called the Critics' Choice and I think it was one of the best cocktails I've ever had and Ellie said that hers was great too!

We had such a lovely time chatting and taking in the atmosphere of the bar. It's quite small as it's the upstairs of Mr Fogg's Tavern but I really liked that - it meant that there weren't many other people there and you could properly appreciate the the space. The service, as I've already said, was impeccable and I just can't say enough good things about it so I wanted to shout about the experience in case anyone is wanting to treat themselves and their friends to something similar in London anytime soon!

Thank you so much Ellie if you're reading this for getting me such a thoughtful birthday present, I loved every minute of it!!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 16

What a week it's been. I saw Ed Sheeran on his Divide tour on Wednesday with my best friend Lish and it was one of those nights that I don't think I'll ever forget. Ed Sheeran is someone I've admired and loved for years and so to finally see him perform live was just magical - what a talent he is.

Not only that made this week great though - yesterday I booked a holiday with two of the nicest girls to go to LA and Florida in late August and I'm SO EXCITED. I've never been to the US and, while New York will always be top of my list in that regard, both LA and Florida look incredible and I think it's going to be an amazing trip!

So, I know that's nothing to do with today's post but I just had to mention both of those things because wow, I can't stop thinking about them. I hope you're all doing well and now I'll actually get on with today's post...

This week's prompt is: "List your essentials" and I wasn't sure what exactly counted as an essential so I've just gone with the first things that popped into my head when I saw the prompt, so let's go!

  • Chanel Chance Eau Tendre perfume - AKA the pink one. I've worn this perfume for four years or so and I adore it. It's floral and Spring-y and perfect.
  • GHDs - My best friends kindly got me a pair of GHDs for my eighteenth birthday and I don't know how I lived my life before them!
  • Time for breakfast - A bit of a weird one, but having my alone time for breakfast is so important to me. For as long as I can remember (except at uni last year when I was living in catered halls) I've grabbed my breakfast and a cup of green tea, gone back to my room and read blog posts while eating it and drinking the tea. It's a strange ritual, I know, but that time really sets me up for the day and I love it.
  • Time to myself to recharge - In a similar vein, as much as I love spending time with people, after a while of doing that or having a few days in a row of having things on in the evenings I *need* an evening to myself to binge something on Netflix and to just reset.
  • A cup of English Breakfast tea and a good book - These two things can fix almost anything.
  • Black, high-waisted jeans - The amount I wear mine is probably bordering on disgusting but I don't care. They're the best.
  • Podcasts - I don't know how I ever walked places without podcasts. I'm utterly obsessed with listening to them. 
  • Spotify - Making monthly playlists is something I'm really into right now but music has always been a huge part of my life and so Spotify is a definite must-have for me. 
  • Good food - Did I even really need to add this to the list?! I'm sure you already knew how important food is and how happy it makes me so it's safe to say that it's an essential. 

And there you have it! What would you say are essentials in your life?

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 15

Happy Easter one and all, whatever you're doing today! I'm going to have a relaxed day at home with my family and I can't wait!

Today's prompt is: "List your dream trips." Since I did a post last year about the trips that are at the very top of my list (which you can read here if you fancy having a nosey), I thought today I'd just give a simple list of all the places that are on my bucket list to see before I die!

  • All around Italy
  • Slovenia
  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Amsterdam
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • USA
  • South Africa
  • New Zealand
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

I'm sure there are many more I could add to that list... this girl has a case of wanderlust pretty badly! I guess I'd better start saving and get on it if I want to tick these places off any time in the future! What are the places you'd love to travel to?

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 14

Happy Sunday! I don't know about you but I for one am *loving* this beautiful weather we've had in London over the past few days. It truly feels like spring has sprung and it's been making me so happy.

This week's prompt is very fitting and is: "List the ways you can cleanse your life for spring." 

I love the idea of making a change for a new season and while I don't have a huge list of things on this list, these are the ones that came immediately to my mind when I saw this week's prompt ::

  • Get a new haircut - I had my hair cut on Thursday, which you can see on my Instagram, to just below my shoulders and I love it. It's the shortest I've had it in about eight years and it might be crazy to say so, but this little change has made me so happy and as though I'm really ready for a new season/for good things to happen - I'd really recommend changing things up if you're thinking about it too!
  • Declutter - It's called a 'spring clean' for a reason and there's really no better time to get rid of the things you've been hoarding to make you feel fresh.
  • Buy some new clothes - I've been fed up of my wardrobe for a while and so I'm trying to buy more key pieces that it's lacking, starting with a beautiful jumpsuit I bought the other day. Things like jumpsuits are perfect because they can often be either dressed up or down to work for lots of occasions and adding it to my wardrobe made me feel great.
  • Make some plans for summer - I always feel as though I'm hurtling towards something (in a good way) when I start to make plans for summer and spring is a great time to do it. It feels like finally saying goodbye to winter and I'm waving goodbye very happily right now looking forward to my summer plans!
  • Fill your house with flowers - Again, another great way to say goodbye to winter is to appreciate the blossom on the trees and bring a bunch of daffodils or other pretty flowers home. Flowers brighten up a space immediately and are well worth investing in in my opinion!

Let me know if there's anything you do to change things up for spring/the beginning of a new season - I'd love to have some input!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Let's Catch Up // My 2017 So Far & A Life Update

So, as promised, today I'm going to finally write up what life's been like for me the past few months. I know that content-wise this little space of mine has been pretty boring over the past few months - all I've managed to post are 52 List blogs (which I really hope you're enjoying!) as well as a travel diary in early January because of how much uni work I've had this term. And I'm so sorry for that. I know it's probably annoyed me more than anyone else but I'm really hoping to post a much bigger variety of posts over the next few months so thank you for bearing with me!

I can't believe I'm writing this, but on Friday I had my last lecture of my second year of university. I still have exams in May but, apart from that, my second year of university education is over. That is beyond crazy to me and I honestly couldn't tell you where these past three months have gone. What I can tell you is that this term has been the best period of uni for me so far and, although it's been really tough at times, I've absolutely loved it.

For the first time since I came to Exeter, this semester I feel as though I experienced uni as I always imagined it would be. Firstly, my modules have been great. I took two philosophy modules, both of which I found incredibly interesting, if not very challenging, and one history module. The history one was essentially a mini-dissertation - 7,000 words on a source-based project of entirely my own choice. I wrote mine on the role of African-American women in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It's safe to say that it was hugely daunting but also so interesting and I actually felt like a mini historian which was pretty rewarding (although I haven't got my mark back yet so I'd better not get ahead of myself in raving about this piece of work!).

Friendship-wise I've never been happier. As I've written about before, I love my housemates and feel so lucky that we all get on so well - they're always there for me to make me laugh or let me moan at them about deadlines, being stressed or just over the fact that I'm hungry (because I'm the hangriest person I know) so they're just great. But this term I've become really close with a few other people and it's been so nice to get to know new people as much as I love the ones I already had in my life. Sarah, who I met in a history seminar last term, is just the loveliest person and becoming close friends with her has been such a highlight of the year for me. We've spent this term having a ridiculous amount of chai lattes, uni work dates where we spend the whole day working/crying about our degrees, and talks about anything and everything, and if those three things aren't the foundation of a wonderful friendship then I'll be damned!

I even dated a tiny bit this term. It feels odd to write that down because it happened so recently and it's been such a long time since I've written about anything resembling my love life on here but it was a big deal for me so I wanted to mention it. I only had two dates with a guy and it's safe to say it didn't come to an end quite as I'd have hoped but it was such an empowering experience and gave me the confidence boost I think I've needed for a while. Having been single for nearly two years it was really nice to be reminded of that side to me - the girl who knows who she is and what she wants even if she still has a lot to figure out, who's playful and funny in a way that's reserved for boys who she's interested in. It had been a long time since that side of me had come out and I think it was really good for me to see it. People are inherently messy and so, correspondingly, is dating, I've found, but I think that it's terribly exciting too and so this was definitely a stand-out point of the last term for me.

I came home on Saturday in a bit of a strange headspace. I think that all the uni work as well as everything else had started to take a toll on me and I was (and still am) so in need of a break from it. When things feel a bit too much I always just want to crawl into my own bed and have my Mum around to help me feel better and I really needed that the last couple of weeks when things weren't going as I'd hoped. But it's amazing how much taking a break from somewhere makes a difference. I adore Exeter but too much time in any place is a lot to take in and uni is such an intense experience as much as I've been loving it lately.

So the end of this semester definitely came at the right time and it's so lovely to be sitting at home, in London, spending some time reflecting on it. It was the busiest and craziest one so far but also the one that I loved the most. I tried new things, made a number of mistakes and did it all alongside the very best people I know. And while that probably sounds like I'm romanticising it, looking back on it, that's what this term was like for me. And, as the wonderful Laura Jane Williams wrote on Twitter last week (side note: god she's great and inspires me day in, day out without fail), "I cannot recommend it enough. Taking the time to congratulate yourself. To make note of the 'successes' like loving well and trying new stuff. That's basically what I did this month: try stuff. Some worked, some didn't, but when looked at objectively was ALL ~noteworthy~".

And I don't think it's possible to put it better than that.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 13

And I'm finally free!! I've handed in all my deadlines and second year work is pretty much over... until I need to start my revision for my May exams, but let's not talk about that now!

It honestly feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my life and it's only since I've stopped over the past few days that I've had a chance to realise just how tired I am. A good rest this week is definitely in order and a catch up post will be on its way to you over the next few days I promise, which I'm sure you've been on the edges of your seats in anticipation of reading...

Anyway, this week's prompt is: "List the things that always cheer you up" and, since I've been quite up and down over the past few weeks, I feel like I'm quite the expert in knowing what makes me feel better when I'm not 100%!

  • Friends - They say 'a problem shared is a problem halved' for a reason guys. Although I'm not someone who can ever snap out of a bad mood immediately, nothing helps me more than talking things out, usually over and over again until my friends are no doubt sick of me, although they are always lovely and never show it!
  • My Mum - In a similar vein, no one knows me better than my Mum and talking things through with her will immediately cheer me up a bit if I need it. 
  • Chocolate/food in general - Surprise surprise, Anna's writing about food again but it just wouldn't be a list of things to do when you need cheering up if it didn't include something food-related!
  • Reading a good book - They always help me to escape to somewhere else so that I don't focus too much on whatever's making me feel blue.
  • Ditto with blog posts - Whenever I read one that I relate to or that I know will help when I'm not feeling myself I bookmark it for a later time and reading through them makes me feel so much less alone.
  • Pamper/self-care evenings - Putting a facemask on, painting my nails, generally putting my feet up always brightens me up no end.
  • Spending time outside, especially if it's sunny - I'm someone who's mood is instantly ten times better if the sun's out so it being a gloomy day massively affects how I'm feeling. If the sun's out though there's nothing like a walk and getting some fresh air to put me in a better frame of mind. 
  • Familiar things - Be it old songs from my childhood, tv shows like Dawson's Creek and One Tree Hill or films like One Fine Day which I'd watch with my Mum whenever I was ill (side note: isn't that just the cutest film? George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer are the dream), I always find myself craving familiar things like this if I want to cheer up. I think it's natural when life's a bit uncertain to look for comfort in what we know and I love hearing about what these are for other people so do let me know what yours are if you have any too!
  • Spending time with family, especially my nieces and nephews - I'm sure I've said this before but kids have such a zest for life and I don't think I've ever felt sad for long when I'm around them. I think we could definitely learn a thing or two from the way they see the world.
  • Getting a good night's sleep - Whenever I'm feeling low I have an immediate urge to just crawl into my bed and sleep it off. I've found that things always look better in the morning and I'll see things with much more clarity if I've had a good night's sleep so it might be a bit of an odd thing to suggest for a way to cheer up but it definitely works for me!

A bit of a mammoth list this week I'm afraid, but I think it's no bad thing to have a long list of ideas for what to do if you're feeling fragile and I hope they help you if you're in need of cheering up! I hope you're having a wonderful weekend and I'll be back soon with that promised catch up post! 
Blog Design Created by pipdig