Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Did someone say twenty?



I have always been slightly superstitious, especially when it comes to odd numbers, there is just something I don't like about them. So being aged nineteen in the year 2013 is a predicament that has definitely been playing on my mind. Entering back into an even number, therefore, is something I welcome with open arms. Despite this I still feel my birthday this year was a landmark. For many it's the simple fact that you are no longer an irresponsible teenager, but seeing as I have lived away from home for almost a year and a half now, I feel I definitely earned my title as a responsible teenager some time ago. Twenty feel's big simply because you're entering a new decade of your life. I feel like I need to achieve great things, establish my career, pursue my interests and maybe towards the end of my twenties, even start a family. This is the prospect I find quite daunting, no longer is my life in the future, it is now. I'm living it. And, if these really are the best years of your life, then I have a lot to accomplish.

My twentieth birthday was spent exactly the way I wanted it to be, doing very little with the people I care very much for. My last day of being a teenager entitled me to a home cooked Sunday-dinner (my favourite) made by my lovely boyfriend. It also meant on the morning of my birthday, I was introduced for the first time to fried leftovers, which I highly recommend. We then went into London to meet my mum and my brother for a pub dinner, which meant them meeting my boyfriend, Jake, for the first time.

My first full day of being twenty was spent at Virginia Waters, taking a nice stroll and pestering the hell out of Jake with my camera. I love being outdoors and I can't wait for the day when I can finally get a canoe and take it out on the lake. There is something about being on the water that looks so calm and peaceful. I think it would be the perfect place to sit by myself with a book.

On the whole, turning twenty was definitely one of my better birthdays and although the prospect of adulthood seems to be looming over me, now more than ever, I am definitely embracing it.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Second year stress



Where there's a will, there's a way. That is the motto that has been getting me through each day for the last three months. A history degree is proving to be a substantial amount of work, and a continuous 'to do' list that grows longer day by day. I tick one thing off and add two more to the bottom. Sometimes I can feel myself becoming overwhelmed by the realisation that there are just not enough hours in the day. These last two weeks have been the worst part, as the end of term grew closer it seemed as though the days were getting longer. To overcome this obstacle I developed a Buddhist outlook on life. I thought of the worst thing that could possibly happen and then decided that it was not actually that bad, it could be overcome. Remain calm, I kept telling myself, Christmas will soon arrive.. and it did.

Now I can spend the next four weeks doing nothing. Well not exactly nothing, I have a tonne of work to do, but the point being, I can work through it at my own pace. I can spend Christmas with my family and New Years with my boyfriend and not have any deadlines looming over me. I have always been a summer kind of girl, but I have to admit, I never looked forward to Christmas as much as I have over the last few weeks.

Peace out. 


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The avenue



I have spent a lot of my time outdoors since moving to university. Whether it be cycling to and from campus, walking across the road to visit our friends or sitting on the bench outside because it is the only place to pick up a good internet connection. The bench also happens to be a bus stop so I have received quite a few 'looks' from passers by. I am currently sat with my headphones in watching Lisa go back and forth on her skateboard. Yes we are university students and this is how we spend our evenings.

Cycling has become a new past time of ours. Lisa is an extremely keen cyclist and it is definitely rubbing off on me. With Virginia Waters so close, our route consists of a beautiful lake and some very challenging hills. The hills were a vital lesson on the importance of gear change for me, but I survived nonetheless.

Considering it was Fresher’s Week last week, one would expect that I was in a hungover, discombobulated manner. I am, however, rather perky. More than likely because night one of freshers was spent watching Iron Man, night two of freshers was spent watching Iron Man 2, night three of freshers was spent watching Iron Man 3 and night four of freshers we went out to Liquid - mainly because we had run out of Iron Man films. It is safe to say, I am not your typical fresher. Maybe I am old before my time, or just lazy, either way I still have money in my account and a clear head, which is more than many of the first years walking around campus today.

The last couple days I have felt extremely cut off from the world. Our friends opposite have created their own little family and the guys in our house spend a lot of time out, mainly with their boyfriends/girlfriends, resulting in me having a lot of time to reflect. Thankfully I like my own company and Lisa is around a lot, otherwise I would have gone cuckoo for cocoa pops by now. A lot of lonesomeness is due to having little/nothing to do. Fingers crossed when lectures start up, I join a sports team and start working in the primary school as it will give me some structure... and a life.

In a measly attempt to find the silver lining to my dreary week, I have got a considerable amount of university work done and I have yet to have my first lecture. Apparently the history department at my university is so kind, they have jam packed all my contact hours into one day. Despite the slight annoyance I am determined to remain positive with happy thoughts of my bright pink bike and bus stop bench (which has got even better after chasing the ice cream van for a waffle cone). The day is certainly looking up.





Saturday, September 21, 2013

She's nice, my mum



I like to think that there are few things I could not live without. I am awful at answering my phone, which gives me the reassurance that it has not become a necessity. I currently have no Wi-Fi and my television has no signal, though I seem to be coping well. I have to come clean with my slight addiction to Instagram and my love for my camera. Though I think, if push came to shove, I could cope without. My mum, however, is a different matter. Approaching twenty makes me feel as if my dependence on my mother should come to a halt, I have come to accept now that this will never be the case.

This week was my mum’s birthday, so it was only right that I headed into London for the day. Last year we celebrated her 50th with far too many cocktails and a caterpillar cake. This year we grabbed a bite to eat in St. Paul’s, did some shopping in Stratford City, before heading back to set up her new iPad. My brother, James, managed to get a long weekend off and joined us in the evening for dinner. It is rare that the three of us get a chance to go out together, but it makes it exceptionally nice when it does happen.

Leaving my home in Surrey to go and see my mum makes me realise that no matter my age or level of maturity, there are certain things that I will always need her for; helping me move home for instance, which has occurred seven times over the last year. To listen to my boy drama, girl drama, or just general drama that occurs in a teenage girl’s life. To teach me new recipes now that I have a kitchen to cook in, show me what an aerial socket is and how to get my whites, ‘white!’  So I may be turning twenty this year, I may be living away from home and have my own independent life, but I still could not imagine getting through the day without knowing this woman was a phone call away. So mum, if you have finally figured out how to use your iPad and get on to my blog, just know… I love you beyond measure.



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Berlin



'Guten Tag' is one of two German words I picked up over my week-long trip. Luckily for me, most of the people we met could understand our fragmented German and actually spoke fairly good English. I try my best not to be one of those arrogant English tourists who assumes that everybody speaks our language, but on this trip, I have to admit defeat and come clean about my laziness when it came to learning some basic German phrases. Despite the limited communication, Berlin was magnificent. It had all the systems of a major city, a functional underground system, bars, restaurants and an array of tourist attractions. It did not, however, have the overcrowded population. Considering Berlin is the capital, the lack of a financial trading centre running through the city makes it an extremely chilled and laid back location, ideal for me and my Mum to wander.

On the day that we arrived that is exactly what we did, wander. We got our heads around the train and bus systems, which were surprisingly simple to follow and gathered our bearings around the city. That evening we found a small Italian restaurant just off the main city centre and I ate the best margarita pizza that I have ever experienced. An early night was in order before a bright start on Tuesday morning, when we headed in to central Berlin and joined a free walking tour. Our tour guide was Sadie and considering the fact that I am a complete history nerd, with Sadie we were spoilt. She gave us over 100 years of German history in 10 minutes, showing us the Brandenburg gate which, like much of the infrastructure, had the bullet holes covered after the damage during the second world war. Our next stop was the Holocaust Memorial, an array of dark, cold, columns. All were ranging from different heights, giving you a huge sense of disorientation when caught in between the highest points. The rest of the tour covered the wall, Checkpoint Charlie and Hitler’s Bunker; now just an unmarked car park with very little interest surrounding it. After the tour, Sadie pointed us in the direction of East Side Gallery, where we got to see some magnificent art all depicting different interpretations of the East/West divide on the longest stretch of wall that remains.

The hardest trip we made was to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp just north of Berlin. I have spent a huge amount of my school life studying this part of history, learning the facts and statistics, writing essays on the historical arguments, even looking at photographs of this very camp. Nothing, however, can quite prepare you for the sensational reality you face when walking through the area, the eery infrastructure of what was once a place of such brutality and inhumanity, your feet standing upon mass graves. The enormity of this trip is something I feel I had not prepared myself for, I doubt there is any way in which to prepare ones self. It is, however, something I would encourage everybody to do. Go there, see where it happened, and feel the enormity of such an event. A quote was reintroduced to me on this trip, from Joseph Stalin, 'one death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic'. Comparing my history lessons to the sensation that came through me when walking through Sachsenhausen, made me realise the truth in those words.

The rest of our trip was a lot lighter on the heart strings. We visited Berlin Zoo, I channelled a lot of energy into taking photographs, we ate Movenpick ice cream, watched a lot of CNN; mainly due to it being the only channel in English. Normally when I go on holiday, I feel I need to catch up on foreign affairs. When I returned from Berlin, however, I was certainly up to date. The week flew by and before we knew it, it was time to return home. So we packed up, said our goodbyes to the beautiful city, and headed back to Schonefeld Airport to catch our flight home. It was an extremely meaningful, educational and breathtaking week. I would urge anybody who has the opportunity, to visit the city. It really is an exceptional place.






Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Queen B | My date with Mrs. Carter



As sad as it was to leave Doncaster, I had to make my way to Chelmsford in time for V Festival. Four days of camping, crap food, no shower and little sleep. For Mrs Carter, however, it was all worth it.

I met the uni girls at Stratford Station and we all headed into Chelmsford together. We spent Friday finding a pitch and putting up our tent before having a wander, grabbing a hot dog, going on the fun fair rides and then calling it a night. Camping with thousands of people meant that most of the night was spent being woken up by various dramas taking place outside our tent. At one point I braced myself for impact when I heard one young man stumble over our tent peg. Lucky for me, he managed to keep his feet grounded and not come hurtling on top of me.

Saturday was probably our more manic day. There were so many acts we wanted to see that a lot of the day was spent running from stage to stage, grabbing food and a toilet break at every opportunity. The first act we saw were The Fratellies, who were absolutely amazing. The lead singer reminded me of a young Bob Dylan, so I was more than happy to stand and watch him all day. We also got to see Labrinth, a personal favourite, who was on form as usual, followed by The Script and the one and only Mrs Carter. Despite her constant wardrobe changes, being squished between a scarily large crowd and her not singing my favourite song, I Was Here, she can be forgiven due to awesomeness. If you’re not into large crowds of people suffocating you, however, my advice would be to go and see someone a little less popular.

Sunday was a much more chilled day, after the stress of getting to the front for Beyonce, it was nice to hang back and appreciate the likes of Olly Murs, The Vaccines, Emelie Sande, The Stereophonics and Kings of Leon. Due to somebody being very unwell in front of me, it meant I had a very good view for Stereophonics, which was highly appreciated. Calvin Harris' performance also happened to occur alongside Kings of Leon's, which resulted in a much smaller audience, proving to be perfect for my 5’5” self not to feel submerged in between an array of people.

After another night of little sleep, we woke up at 5am and packed up our tent ready for the first shuttle bus back to Chelmsford Station at 6am. It was the easiest way to avoid all the crowds and made getting home much easier. The weekend was absolutely amazing, despite receiving a bottle to the face, being caked in beer and not showering for two days… I guess it couldn't have been more rock and roll.







Friday, August 16, 2013

Invading the North



The worst thing about going home for summer is that all your friends from university disperse around the country, some quite far away. My next door neighbour and adopted brother for the last year happens to live in Doncaster. It really does suck that he is so far away and for the last few months I've really missed him and his girlfriend Emily. It does, however, give one the opportunity to invade the north.

So on Monday, Laura Dowse and myself jumped on a train from Kings Cross to Doncaster and attacked our two dearly missed friends. It was so lovely to see them both and they had loads planned for our four-day visit. The day we arrived, we took a tour of Doncaster in the car, checking out all the local hot spots. Then we went home and had dinner with Emily's parents who made us ham in coca cola. It sounds quite strange but I have to admit, it was delicious. The evening soon took the form of a bowling session where we were introduced to Josh and Emily's friends. They were lovely and although bowling is not exactly my idea of fun (mostly because I am atrocious at it) I had a really nice evening.

After a very bad decision of pulling an all nighter, we spent Tuesday at Alton Towers. I love rollercoasters. Nothing beats the adrenaline that rushes through your body as you're being strapped in tight before it begins. ‘Smiler’ was awesome, though the queue was insane and a slight kill-joy. Going to a theme park in the middle of the summer holidays was certainly not one of our best ideas.

Chatsworth House was next on the agenda, to see a beautiful stately home and walk around the grounds, which were filled with rather strange statues of curvaceous women and naked men. It did, however, have a maze and my confidence certainly overrode my skill. Whilst my friends teamed up, I took on the style of lone wolf and it wasn't long before I began to regret it. My attempts at cheating earned me nothing but scraped knuckles and even further confusion as to which way was out. My sense of direction certainly wouldn't earn me any awards. Despite the freezing cold (which northerners don't seem to register) we had a picnic with some yummy homemade cookies. I love being outdoors and I love food, so picnics are definitely up my street. That evening we went to a pub quiz, which somehow I thought I could revise for by using various iPhone apps. We lost enormously, but it turns out it’s a weekly occurrence so it didn’t feel quite so shameful. Some of the questions were near enough impossible, but the boys seemed to have a nice time drawing genital shaped objects on the quiz sheet. It is nice to know that I am not always the most immature person in the room.

Ironically our last day was probably my favourite. Josh lives right next to Yorkshire Wildlife Park and had never been, much to my disgrace, so we headed over early and got to see all the animals. I absolutely love lions, elephants, giraffes and goats; actually I love pretty much anything that doesn't possess wings and a beak. I think if Doncaster was my hometown I would certainly invest in an annual pass, stroking goats could become a weekly occurrence.

Eventually the day came to an end, and it was time to say goodbye to the wildlife, as well as Josh and Emily. Four days just didn't seem to be enough; I think if V Festival weren’t around the corner, I would certainly have 'missed' my train home.






Friday, August 09, 2013

Road trip



I love summer. I love the sunshine. I love wearing shorts and flip flops every day. I love getting a healthy glowing suntan. I love being able to eat ice cream for lunch without being questioned. I love getting out my Ray Bans and more than anything, I love to have a chunk of time with complete freedom. There is, however, one slight drawback. I am completely and utterly alone. My mother works full time, my brother lives away from home and all my friends back home work. The days thus become a slight blur, filled with pointless activities to make myself busy and productive. I work shifts as well, meaning evenings and weekends when my family and friends are free... I am at work. Consequently, I spend my days at the gym, cleaning or running errands. After a while, it can sometimes get extremely quiet and I have to be honest, I miss the company.

This week therefore has been amazing because my lovely mother had a week off work. We have done so much that it would probably take me a week to write it all down. So instead I will give you a quick summery. On Monday we went up to Cambridgeshire to visit my grandparents, Tuesday (the most exciting day) was filled with a spontaneous road trip to Dover. I had never seen the white cliffs before so to say I was excited would have been an understatement. We've had lunches out, Starbucks stops in Brentwood, dinner dates with old friends and various other girly activities. It's been nice having my mum around and it is going to suck big time when she has to go back to work. Like me, she loves adventure and is happy to go anywhere as long as it gets her out of the house and into the fresh air. Here are just a few snaps from our week’s antics.





'Never go on trips with anyone you do not love'. Ernest Hemingway

Monday, July 29, 2013

What plan?



As a nineteen-year-old student, the question I frequently get asked is, what's the plan after university? The dreaded question is one that I know haunts not just myself but many others in my position. The truth is, by the time you reach the end of your teenage years, you are expected to have your life mapped out. In reality, this time in my life has proven to be the most confusing. You begin to doubt all the plans you have made, some days I even doubt whether I am cut out for university. I usually respond to inquisitive plan askers with a simple answer, stating I want to teach, and this to some extent is true. After university I think I am going to complete my PGC. Some days, however, I have doubts. Am I cut out to teach? Do I want to finish university and then continue to spend the rest of my life in education?

Growing up I always wanted to be a veterinary surgeon. I love animals and would run head first towards any pet I came into contact with. My auntie had two dogs when I was young and afternoons round her house were filled with dragging them around like they were my children. My first pet was a bunny rabbit named Harvey, he was given to me on the premise that I was to give my room (the larger one in the house) to my brother. I agreed without hesitation, Harvey came home with us that weekend. I spent every evening outside in my garden with Harvey, I even got a lead for him so I could take him outside of the house and walk him around the block. My dreams soon came to an end after a work placement at a veterinary surgery, aged fifteen, resulted in me losing consciousness. I have always been squeamish but the realisation of the extent of my squeamishness is something that made me reconsider my chosen profession. Later realisations about my academic ability in the field of chemistry brought all ambitions of me getting into veterinary school to an end.

Once the vet cards were off the table, I played with various other ideas. As the Virgin Airline adverts got ever more beautiful I toyed with the idea of becoming an Air Hostess, fulfilling my dream of travelling. I do, however, have issues with my ears when flying, so that idea was a hit and miss. Then followed an extreme obsession with Criminal Minds, which has come and gone in sessions throughout my life, this resulted in me heavily researching the career of criminal psychology and working for the BAU. I am, however, British and that career is primarily an American phenomenon. I love the USA but I’m not keen on having to move there solely for work, resulting in the end of my BAU fiasco.

I have since gone through careers in the area of personal assistants, as I feel my organisation skills are on point. Becoming the next Nigella Lawson, as last summer I finally learnt how to cook. Being a movie critic, my obsession for films is almost toxic so watching them as a career would free up much of my time. And, of course, working in the education system. School has always been the one thing that I am good at, so why not?

To say I am sure about what I want to do and who I want to be will come one day, I hope. Until then, I think it is time to embrace the indecisiveness. In the words of Teddy from Stand by Me... "I'm in the prime of my youth and I'll only be young once." I have the rest of my life to figure everything out. So when all my family friends ask me what the plan is, I will reply with "what plan?" because in all honesty, I am absolutely clueless!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dulux colour run



Running has recently become a new hobby of mine and I am starting to find it quite enjoyable, in a fulfilment sense. Nothing quite beats the feeling you get once you finish a really challenging run. I have always dreamed of completing the London Triathlon but I doubt I will ever attain that level of fitness, consequently, I lowered my ambition and instead took part in the 5K Colour Run. This year was the first time that the Colour Run came to London, it took place in Wembley, with 15000 people showing up in the hottest week of the year so far. I ran with my gym buddy at University, Dowse, and to say we were warm would be an understatement. The sweat that appeared before the run had even begun was actually quite impressive.

The Colour Run works by checkpoints. All the runners enter a holding bay and are released a thousand runners at a time. After each kilometre, you reach a paint checkpoint, where there are colour run helpers there to make sure you are as colourful as possible. Each paint checkpoint displays a different colour and by the time 5K is completed, all the runners look like human rainbows.

Once we passed the finish line we had the chance to have a jumping photo taken in the Dulux colour dome and there was a paint rave taking place by the stage; I guess for everyone that did not achieve full colour covering during the run. I may just be easily impressed, but I think no matter your age, there is nothing more exciting then getting covered in paint. The burning sun made it feel as though we were on holiday and the general atmosphere from all the runners made the day for me. It was a perfect introduction to powder paint and has made me even more enthusiastic for Holi Festival in about a month.




Tuesday, July 02, 2013

I'm Supertramp, you're Super Apple



Into the Wild is one of my all time favourite films. As an adventure enthusiast, I fell in love with the idea of saying goodbye to material possessions and hitting the road. The film is based on the life of Christopher McCandless; a young man who cuts up his credit cards, leaves behind his everything he knows and pursues his dream to live out in Alaska. The film follows the same plot as the book by Jon Krakauer, in which young Christopher changes his name to Alexander Supertramp and hitchhikes the Stampede Trail in Alaska. We follow him on his journey as he crosses paths with numerous travellers, faces various problems and meets the everyday experiences that make long term travel look so appealing.

One of my favourite scenes in the film appears when Alex meets a European couple, camping in the mountains. He only joins them for a moment as he grabs a hot dog off their barbecue, but it is this short encounter that sums up his experience of long term travel. It introduces the idea that meeting people on the road is not all about being on danger alert or treading with caution and that in actual fact you can build relationships in the briefest of moments.

The film can only be described as epic, after countless viewings it still manages to make me laugh, cry and ultimately get the travel bug. Go check it out.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

When Hollie met Penny



Anybody that knows me will inform you of my physical impairment. I have little balance, always seem to hurt myself and regularly fall over. A couple of years back I went out for a hike in the snow with two friends from school, managed to slip on the pavement that was not actually covered in any snow and fell into a bin that tipped over on my way down. My friends, being the lovely people that they are, laughed for about 20 minutes, while I repeatedly attempted, and failed, to return to my feet. This impairment has been an on-going battle throughout my life, one that I put down to the fact that my feet are relatively large in accordance with my height. So when I asked Lisa yesterday if I could borrow her skateboard for a trip to Virginia Waters, I was extremely surprised when she said yes (they obviously don't know me well enough yet). Dowse happened to mention that she had never walked around the entire lake before, so we decided that this morning we would get up early and kill two birds with one stone; Dowse would walk around the entire lake and I would break my leg attempting to skateboard.

The day turned out to be somewhat of a miracle, I believe I should thank Dowse for this as she was in fact a very gifted supervisor. It really did feel as though I was out with my mother, though in all honesty that was exactly what I needed. At times I was slightly overconfident and thought that, being my first skateboard attempt, I could glide down big hills, Dowse was not so confident and kindly told me that flat surfaces were probably more within my reach. Being stopped by the police and spoken to about my skateboarding skills was most definitely the low point of the day, apparently you're not meant to sit on the board, who knew?

The lake, however, was as beautiful as always and the walk consisted of lots of photo taking, chats with fellow walkers and dog owners, and of course the brief period of being completely and utterly lost. A moment in which asking a couple for directions caused them to have a slight domestic about which way they should be sending us... Oops. Having the time to try something new in the fresh air during the summer months is blissful and overall I think we had a very successful and productive morning.




Monday, June 03, 2013

A picnic kind of day



Picnic's are truly underrated. The beauty witnessed while eating yummy food in the great outdoors is not to go unmissed. Being a city girl, the opportunity to eat outdoors is restricted by our lack of parks and good weather. This week, however, has been a rare insight into the beauty of summer and sunshine combined.

I am currently studying history at university, situated in Surrey. I decided I wanted the full uni experience so applied for a room in residential halls for my first year and was blessed with some awesome flatmates. I never thought I would make friends like the one's I have found at Royal Holloway. I have been extremely lucky to live with some amazing people and although it is coming towards the end of the year, I know I have made some friends for life. They have become my second family and we frequently go on family outings; previous visits have been meals, cinema trips and weekly excursions to Tesco. This term has been a lot less sociable and a lot more work orientated, seeing as we have all had exams to revise for. Now, however, exams are over and we have a couple more weeks together before we all move back home for summer break. The decision was made to pack a picnic and spend a day at Virginia Waters, a nearby park with a huge lake at the edge of Windsor. It's about a fifteen minute walk from our Uni campus, and I probably could have taken more advantage this year of being so near to a place so beautiful.

We all met in the kitchen in the early afternoon and prepared food, for our Italian flatmate that involved cooking an omelette and wrapping it in cling film whilst still warm. Living in halls has really opened my eyes to the diversity of people's eating habits, Dowse's idea of lunch has previously been pasta with tomato ketchup. Regardless, we headed up to Virginia Waters, walking the scenic route through the edge of the forest and found a nice peaceful spot away from the crowds. Virginia Waters is always rammed to the core with people whenever the weather is nice, so today was certainly no different. It was nice to just sit in the sun with my book and have a really chilled out afternoon.

After a while the relaxing was put aside and me and Ellie decided it was time to go on a little adventure around the grounds. We wandered up one of the paths, which I was sure I knew really well as I spent a lot of time this term running that particular route. I was, however, mistaken and managed to get both myself and Ellie lost. I like to justify my bad directional skills by stating that the best adventures happen when you have no idea where you are or where you are going. Today my justification was proved correct when we stumbled across a Polo Club, which neither or us knew existed. We got to see all the horses and even had a failed attempt at sneaking in. After a nice sunny afternoon of wandering we found an ice cream van, bought some ice creams and managed to find our way back to the rest of the guys. We chilled for a little longer, listening to Bob Dylan and sleeping in the sun, before packing up and heading back to campus.