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

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The 52 Lists Project // Week 48

How is it week 48 of 2018?! I can't get my head around it one bit, it'll be New Year's Eve before we know it!

This week's prompt is: "List the things you want to add to your life" which I thought was a really interesting one. I'm lucky to have a pretty full life - it's definitely not perfect but I'm really blessed in so many ways that it took me a while to think of things I'd like to add to it but here's what sprung to mind...

  • Adventure - The past few months have been very vanilla in that I've mostly spent them just going to work to do a job that's pretty mundane although perfect in that I've been on a three month contract and it's funding my travelling! But because of that and the fact that my life before this year has pretty much been entirely spent in full-time education, I'm really craving a bit of adventure and something different. It's handy that I'm off to New Zealand in two weeks then isn't it?
  • Fun - There's definitely going to be a theme to this list I can see it already. But, again, I want to mix things up a bit and make room for more fun and spontaneity in my life.
  • Different experiences - Ok this is the last travelling-related one I promise. But although I've lived a great life so far it hasn't been filled with a huge range of different experiences and I'd like to try some new things and see what I make of them in this coming year.
  • Education - You might think this is an odd one to stick on the end when I've just been writing about how I've spent almost my entire life in education but I love learning and there's always more to learn. The past few months I've been educating myself in different ways to the usual - through podcasts, books such as Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race and even through some of the people I follow on Instagram. I'm learning how important it is to acknowledge my privilege and to make time to learn about and listen to minority voices and educating myself in this way is something I definitely want to keep doing. 

So those are the things I'm hoping to add to my life over the coming months. What kind of things are you looking for in yours?

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Recently I'm Reading // This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

As mentioned in my last 'Currently' post, I've recently finished reading This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay and loved it so much that I wanted to write properly about it today. If you haven't heard of this book you must have been hiding under a rock somewhere because it feels like everyone and their dog has been reading it lately, and for very good reason.

So if you are somehow one of those people who doesn't know what this book is about, it's written by now-comedian and ex-junior doctor Adam Kay and is comprised of extracts from diaries he kept during his years working as a junior doctor in NHS hospitals. The blurb reads:

"Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.
Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know - and more than a few things you didn't - about life on and off the hospital ward."

The book does exactly what it says on the tin - it gives a wonderfully (and sometimes painfully) honest account of what it's really like to work for the NHS under the pressure it's facing and it's so incredibly insightful. To be honest, I think it should be required reading because although much of it is written in an absolutely hilarious way (which is unsurprising given that Kay is now a comedian), it really illustrates what our country's doctors are putting up with and going through every single day to give us the care we need. I have never admired doctors more or felt so grateful for the NHS having now read first-hand what they go through day in day out to do their job. I think we take for granted just how lucky we are to have a free national health service or at least I know I do but it really is amazing and would be impossible without these amazing doctors, nurses and everyone else involved in the running of the NHS' dedication to it.

Some entries had me laughing out loud they were so funny (the range of things people put inside of themselves alone will have you questioning the sanity of humanity), while others had me weeping. I actually finished this book on a bus and I don't recommend that because the entry which really had me crying was one of the very last ones and we all know it's awkward as Brits to cry in a public place. It's just a wonderful book from beginning to end and by far one of the best books I've read this year.

After finishing it, I listened to an interview with Adam Kay on one of my favourite podcasts, Ctrl Alt Delete which you can listen to here if you're interested. It was so nice to hear Kay talk about compiling the book, the ex-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's reaction to it, and to hear him read an extract of it himself. I think I've seen that Kay is doing a tour of the book and I'm sure that would be amazing to go to as well.

The book has had so much success, being a Sunday Times Number One Bestseller and the Humour Book of The Year, that I probably don't need to tell you this, but if you haven't already please do read this book. Kay's writing is such a treat and you'll come out having a newfound respect for NHS staff and all they do.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and if you're interested in keeping up with what I'm reading outside of on the blog you can follow me on Goodreads here.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

The 52 Lists Project // Weeks 46 & 47

Good morning everyone (or afternoon/evening depending on when you're reading this)! I hope you're having a great week so far. I'm really not enjoying the cold turn the UK has taken this week and the ridiculously early dark nights. They make me so sleepy and groggy and I just can't wait to escape the Winter and head to New Zealand.

Anyway, this week it's a double whammy as I didn't get around to writing last week's list so I'll get straight into it without further ado!

Week 46 :: "List your greatest comforts."

  • My Mum - Nothing in the world is more comforting than my Mum for me. I don't think I'm alone in that whenever I start to feel ill, scared, sad or any kind of negative emotion the first thing I think is the same as what I've thought pretty much since I was a baby... 'I want my Mum!'. I don't think that instinct will ever leave me (although I can survive without her immediately being there now!) and for good reason, my Mum is amazing and she's such a comfort to me whatever I'm going through.
  • The amazing people in my life - I'm so lucky for many reasons but one of them is to have some truly wonderful people in my life who, no matter what I'm going through, I know will be there to make me feel better. Just a conversation or a message from them can be such a source of comfort to me and they're all bloody brilliant.
  • Books - One of my favourite quotes is by W Somerset Maugham who said "To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life". I couldn't have put it better myself - reading lets me escape into an entirely different world and makes everything feel a bit better. 
  • Music - Similarly to books, music is a great comfort to me. Whatever mood you're in or feeling you're experiencing, I'll bet you there's a song about it. And even when times are tough and you're in a shitty situation, I always find it so comforting to find a song which completely relays my feelings because it reminds me that I'm not alone in it.
  • Warmth - There's nothing like being cosy by a fire or having a hot water bottle to comfort me. I hate the cold (as I've already said in this post) and so nothing makes me feel more at ease than being warm and cosy.
  • Hugs - I love love love a hug. They're just the best. Nothing more is needed to say about them but that - such a great comfort.
  • People playing with my hair - This might seem like a bit of a random one, and I'd like to clarify that I wouldn't find it a comfort in the slightest if a stranger came up to me and started playing with my hair but (when it's someone I'm close to) playing with my hair is the most relaxing thing in the world. I completely lap it up and I bet I'm not the only one.

And onto Week 47 :: "List the things you are grateful for." 

  • The wonderful people in my life - As I've just mentioned, the incredible people I'm surrounded by are a huge comfort to me and I am so so grateful for them. They make my life so much better and nothing would be the same without them. 
  • My health - I think that health is something we take for granted until we have a scare. Even when we have a cold, we always claim we'll appreciate being fully healthy forever from then on as soon as the cold has cleared off... but of course we don't. When I actually stop and think about it though, being healthy allows me to live my life as I want to, in fact it's what allows me to still be alive! I'm so grateful to have my health and definitely need to appreciate it more.
  • My education - I've been so lucky to have had an excellent education. I went to a great state primary and secondary school, and then was granted a full bursary to attend an incredible private school for sixth form, following which I went to the University of Exeter to study my undergraduate degree. Education is so important and opens the doors in so many ways to the best things in life and I don't underestimate how blessed I am to have had such a good one.
  • My freedom - I'm so grateful to be living in the twenty-first century in a country which allows me to make my own decisions, to have the right to vote and to navigate my own life. It's what's allowing me to go travelling this year, to hopefully undertake an amazing career and to live my life how I want to. 

I could go on and on about the things I'm grateful for (there are so many) but since this is a bumper edition of the 52 Lists Project I thought I'd leave it there for today! 

Saturday, 17 November 2018

My Favourite Podcasts Part iii

I've been pretty much obsessed with podcasts for nearly four years now. They're just the best - whenever I'm walking somewhere, on the bus or train or rarely plane and don't fancy reading, trying to get to sleep and can't, they engage my brain and are so educational and fun to listen to. Podcasts have blown up in a big way, especially among my generation, so this is by no means a new thing for me to be sharing today. But a couple of years ago I shared ten of my favourite podcasts in two posts: one and two. And in the time since then I've discovered many more and have lots of new favourites that you just *have* to listen to.

So today I thought I'd carry on from that list two years ago and share part three of my favourite podcasts. Please let me know if you listen to and love these podcasts as well and pass on any of your own recommendations - I don't know how I keep up with them all nowadays but I'll always make room for a new, great podcast!

11 // Nobody Panic - This podcast is hosted by the wonderful comedians Stevie Martin and Tessa Coates and is described as a "guidebook to being a fully functioning adult without screaming all the time. Each week, Stevie and Tessa tackle life's big, small, fun and sometimes scary questions with the help of experts and special guests because we're all in this together, guys. So nobody panic". As I've mentioned many times recently, adulthood is pretty terrifying and this podcast makes me so happy because not only does it offer practical advice for facing adulthood from topics such as how to start a business, how to make a choice and even how to sleep well, but Stevie and Tessa give that advice in the most funny, down-to-earth way.

12 // Ways to Change the World with Krishnan Guru-Murthy - Ways to Change the World is a Channel 4 podcast with journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy in which he interviews a range of people on their views on the world, how they think it should be changed and how they think that change can be achieved. Some clips from guests Guru-Murphy has interviewed have gone viral such as the episode with Jameela Jamil and Richard Curtis so you've probably heard of it but I can tell you first-hand that it's really great. Every episode is so interesting and insightful and he's interviewed such interesting people from Lily Cole to Jess Phillips to Reni Eddo-Lodge and more. Definitely download an episode if you haven't already!

13 // The Guilty Feminist - If you haven't listened to The Guilty Feminist podcast you absolutely need to. It's hosted by comedian Deborah Frances-White who is absolutely amazing and each episode is recorded live with special guests discussing different topics and how we should approach them as feminists. The show's premise is based on feminism in the twenty-first century and how we can achieve feminist goals despite the things that undermine them. What I love about it is that it highlights that none of us are perfect (the 'I'm a feminist, but...' segment at the start of every episode is absolute genius) but that that doesn't make us any less good feminists and in and amongst the absolutely top-notch stand-up comedy are really accessible and informative discussions on how we can make this world a better place.

14 // The High Low - Now this is a bold statement, but The High Low has to be my favourite podcast of all time. I am completely and utterly obsessed with journalists Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes who host it and each week talk about the latest news and pop culture, from the high to the low brow of events and issues. I'm truly in awe of the time and dedication Alderton and Sykes must dedicate every week to researching the topics they discuss so that they can have a conversation which is always so informed and undertaken with such care. If you couldn't tell I can't speak highly enough of it, their weekly recommendations for what to read, listen to, and watch and even Dolly recommending the Sainsbury's app of all things recently ensure that I'm clued up on all the best and most important things out there at the moment (or at least highly entertained) and listening to the episodes is an absolute highlight of my week.

15 // Jules and Sarah the Podcast - This is a very recent discovery for me but one that I have quickly come to love dearly. I've got such a backlog of episodes to catch up on but Jules and Sarah the Podcast is a podcast in which best friends Jules Von Hep and Sarah Powell meet and for half an hour have essentially the most random but hilarious and heart-warming discussions - from how their mothers are doing, to sharing quirky news articles from the north of the country to playing would you rather. I can't describe how funny I find Jules and Sarah and it's just like listening to two best friends have a catch-up every week which may not sound like the most entertaining thing, but I promise you it is. These half an hour podcasts are sound bites of pure delight and I've said it before but I'll say it again, I really would love Jules and Sarah to be my best friends.

16 // Table Manners with Jessie Ware - This podcast is a pure delight. Singer Jessie Ware and her wonderful mum Lennie have a guest round for dinner and they discuss all kinds of things but mainly focus on food. They've had so many great guests on, particular highlights for me being Sadiq Khan, Ed Sheeran, Dolly Alderton and Sandi Toksvig, and it's just such a joy to listen to such a lovely mother and daughter have such great conversations with really interesting people. It's definitely worth a listen.

17. Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel - This podcast is another recent discovery of mine which I absolutely adore. It's an insight into couples' therapy sessions as each episode is a recording of a one-off session for a couple with psychotherapist Esther Perel. All couples are kept anonymous which allows the episodes to remain true to the couple's feelings and experiences and it's just phenomenal. If, like me, you're super interested in other people and relationships (read: nosey) then you will love this. Not only does it teach you so much about love and relationships in this time but about communication and the very basics of human interaction. I am obsessed.

So there you have part iii of my favourite podcasts. There are so many I'm loving at the moment that I'm going to share part iv really soon too! I hope you're all having a wonderful start to your weekend.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

The Truth About Graduate Life

Today I want to talk about graduate life. That crazy time when (if you went to university) you're thrust out into the big wide world for the first time with no road map in front of you. This post has been sitting in my drafts for about a month now. And then I saw the lovely Holly's post about her experience of grad life so far and it encouraged me to polish this one off and send it out into the world.

As Holly points out in her wonderful post, we don't really talk about grad life, or at least not very honestly. I think for most of us we're the first generation where the majority of us go to university, and then come out and have a huge array of different options we can take. My Mum grew up in Communist Romania and the other day was telling me how, after being one of the very few actually allowed to go to university, she graduated and was told she could either be a teacher or a translator and that was it. Even the place where she would work was assigned to her. Bleak, right?

Because of that, I think the fact that it's now pretty widely accepted for grads to have gap years, to do further study and take other routes rather than going straight into work has led us all to think that we have it great and that graduating opens up such an exciting period of our lives. And it definitely does, especially in contrast to generations before us who didn't have as much choice. But it's also pretty damn terrifying and overwhelming at times and I think it's so important to talk about that.

Before I do, I want to write a disclaimer that I am fully aware what a privileged position I'm in to have all of these options in front of me and to have an undergraduate degree from a great university. Life has dealt me a wonderful hand so far and I am so grateful for that and don't for a second mean to suggest with this post that graduates like myself have it tougher than many people in this country who are suffering today and don't have many options at all. I'm also aware that not all graduates are in my position either and this is an account of my experience only. With that said I would like to open up a dialogue about the fact that it is at times overwhelming to have come out of full-time education which I've been in since I was four-years-old and to be attempting to navigate my life.

It's so hard to know what's 'right' and I think we have an obsession with taking the right path and doing the right thing when actually at this age I'm not so sure there is a right path or one right thing to do immediately after graduating. Heck I was so unsure about the right path for me that I nearly did a masters this year. It's so unbelievably confusing trying to consider what to do. And I just want to take a moment to say that that's ok, if for no one else than for myself.

I'm so unbelievably excited to go travelling in a month (!!) and have what I'm sure is going to be such an adventure unlike anything I've done in my life so far. But I'd be lying if I said that I haven't spent the past few months also questioning whether taking this year out is a huge mistake, looking at friends around me who already have amazing jobs with great security and wondering if I should have gone for that too or if by taking this year out I'm making myself unemployable. And that's even though taking time to travel is something I've wanted to for years and something which I know many employers actually admire nowadays and, even if they didn't, touch wood I've got my whole life to work but this is a once-in-a-life time thing. Yet I can't count the number of times that I've cried to my Mum because I'm scared of what the future holds and there are so many things I might like to do but I'm not sure exactly what I want to do and even if I can decide what I want to do, the jobs market feels so hard to get into these days that I sometimes worry I might never get a job. And, as you can see from that very long sentence documenting my train of thought alone, it's very easy to spiral, be completely panicked and wonder what the hell I'm doing.

But, having spoken extensively to my very best friends, all of whom are doing completely different things this year, I've realised that no matter what you're doing, everyone feels exactly the same way. My friends who have those amazing jobs and that security I can only dream of right now have told me of thoughts that 'this is it' for the rest of their lives, and worries that they'll now never be able to take time out to travel like I am. I have other friends who have started masters, realised they've got years ahead of them before they'll have finished study to do the jobs they want to do and feel behind everyone because of that. Whatever we're doing as new graduates, this is the first time we're really in the driving seat of our lives and that's damn scary. Amazing too, absolutely. But uncertain and terrifying in this world where so much is changing and unknown at the moment. Lord knows what Brexit will do to the jobs market, there's just no predicting the future right now. And that's a lot of anxiety to put on my generation's shoulders. So no wonder this period of our lives is scary and hard and difficult at the same time as being exciting, energising and freeing.

If you're a recent graduate who can relate to these feelings of uncertainty, I hope this helps you to know that you're not alone. However you're feeling about facing graduate life, it's ok. It's ok to be unsure and sad at the same time as being excited and over the moon to finally be in control of your own life. We're only in our early twenties, and with the help of wonderful people around us, we will figure it out I know it.

So the truth is graduate life isn't all sunshine and rainbows. But that's ok. It's a really turbulent time and it's real life, we've just all got to hang on in there.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The 52 Lists Project // Week 45

It's another Wednesday, and another 52 lists project from me! I'm writing this tucked up in bed where I've been for the past four days after I had my wisdom teeth out on Friday. Let me tell you, it's not fun and games having four teeth taken out under full anaesthetic. I've been so exhausted and my mouth's been really sore so I've been feeling a bit sorry for myself and taking it very easy. But I'm slowly getting better and better so hopefully in a few days I'll be back to my normal self.

Anyway this week's list has been a very welcome distraction from all of that! Now that it's actually November I think that it's perhaps acceptable to think about this list which reads: "List the things that make up your ideal holiday season."

Now this year for the first time I'm spending Christmas abroad, at my sister's in New Zealand so it's not going to be the traditional Christmas season I'm used to at all. But I couldn't be more excited for it and these are the things that usually make up my ideal holiday season...

  • Christmas film watching - I'm sorry but it's not Christmas if you don't watch Elf, Love Actually, The Holiday, Bridget Jones' Diary, and all the other classic Christmas films which never fail to put me in the festive mood.
  • Visiting Christmas markets and drinking mulled wine - I absolutely love mulled wine and having a warm cup of it when it's cold outside and looking around Christmas markets is my idea of festive heaven.
  • Time spent with loved ones - Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without spending some real quality time with my family on both the big day itself and in the lead-up to it. 
  • Secret Santa with my best friends - I think I'm going to have to miss it this year because I'll be away sadly but for the last I don't know how many years my best friends and I have done Secret Santa and had an evening where we all give each other our presents and it's always the most lovely and fun night.
  • Lots and lots of mince pies - Again, it wouldn't be Christmas for me without mince pies a-plenty. I'm going to have to get my money's worth in early this year because I'm not sure they're a thing in New Zealand and I don't want to miss out on one of my favourite winter treats!
  • Decorating the Christmas tree - There's nothing better than the smell of a Christmas tree and spending an evening decorating it with my Mum. 

I could have spent an age carrying on with different Christmas traditions but I thought I'd leave it there today. Writing that has completely got me in the festive spirit and as soon as I'm well enough to eat proper solid food again you can bet that mince pies are going to be the first things I'm after! What things make up your ideal festive period?
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