Thursday, 21 December 2017

Autumn | 17

Honestly? Autumn has sucked. And those three words right there, they suck! 
Autumn is usually the greatest time of the year for me. It's my favourite. Halloween, Bonfire nights, the lead up to Christmas -which let's face it, is sometimes better than Christmas day itself! Halloween has always been my favourite time of the year. The world becomes a blur of orange, purple and green, and finding the perfect shaped pumpkin is a never-ending mission. (During my nocturnal years, I remember my mom and I driving to Asda at two in the morning to rifle through there pumpkin stand. That is how committed we are to Halloween). But this Autumn hasn't been that for me.

It started in a great way. I was three weeks ahead of my uni schedule and packing my bag to go away on a birthday trip with my boyfriend. I had my heart set on eating black-jack icecream (yes it's a thing), wandering around Whitby, and hopefully climbing up the steps to Whitby Abbey. A couple days before I turned twenty-two, I got my nose pierced; something I have always wanted to do but never actually gone through with it. So, I was on a high. And then I got a phone call, on our last day away. It was my mom telling me that my dog, Myles, his tumour was bigger than the vet originally thought and they presumed it was down to the bone. The vet suggested amputations and MRI's but ultimately I knew what this meant. Four weeks before this phone call, I had surgery and while I was recovering my mom told me that if it came to it (because Myles had a lump) she would rather put him to rest then have him chopped to pieces and sewn back up in the hope that we'd solve the problem. I knew that, even though amputation was an option for the vet, it wasn't for our family and suddenly this ticking clock started in my mind. I found myself mentally predicting how much time I had left with him.

As soon as I was home, I tried to spend as much time as possible with him (he was staying with my grandparents). His lump was now infected and painful for him to stand on. He started hopping around and refraining from putting any weight on it at all. With this strain on his body, he started panting all the time and I knew he was becoming tired. We knew it was a matter of time and I'd come to terms with that idea, but it didn't prepare me to see him physically decline. In his last few days, he stopped getting up to greet you when you arrived and he only got up when he knew he needed to go outside to relieve himself or when he knew he was being fed. He still wagged his tail when you spoke to him, and if anything I enjoyed those last few conversations we had more then anything else. The day he was put down was the worst day ever, and quite honestly a bit of a blur. So, my Autumn wasn't great. I lost my best friend, and had my heartbroken in the process. Regardless of all of this, I've still found comfort in a few things...
Seasonal Favourites
I was lucky enough to be able to attend two bonfire nights during October and November, one of which having the best food I have ever experienced. We also got to play with sparklers, sky lanterns, and even some fireworks (that sounds quite reckless but it was with friends, and we're responsible. Or at least, most of us are). I have also been enjoying preparing for Christmas. As I write this now, I have just received an online order of gift wrap *squeals. This, in all honesty, is what has kept me going during losing Myles and I've tried to look forward and keep going as much as possible. 

I've been listening to podcasts, as usual, but have absolutely loved Estée LaLonde podcast called, The Heart of it. I loved all the episodes, however, the one featuring the topic of Strength sung to my heart a bit more than any of the others. I think as someone who has suffered from severe depression in the past, a lot of what was being said really resonated with me: plus I listened to this episode at a time when I wasn't feel all that strong myself, which I think makes that episode stick out in my mind that little bit more. 

Okay so I'm totally late to the party with both these things but this season I have watched, wait for it... Stranger Things and Game of Thrones. No, nothing is wrong with me but in all honesty, when each of these programmes/new series' came out I really weren't bothered in the slightest about watching them. Now, having watched them, I can see what the fuss is about. Stranger Things was amazing and addictive. When I have my own house I'm definitely stringing lights all round it like Joyce Byers -you have to admit, those lights looked magical. I also loved the clothes they wore and I'm currently trying to resist a Borg corduroy jacket from ASOS, exactly like the one Nancy wears. 

Game of Thrones was unexpected but expected at the same time. I've seen snippets of it here and there, so I knew there was a lot of violence but I weren't quite prepared for the nudity involved: which, I wouldn't say I'm a prude but come on -theres a time and a place people! Regardless of this, I have really enjoyed it. I'm currently finishing up the third season. 

Looking forward to: 
Christmas and New Year. I've always enjoyed the lead up to Christmas a little bit more than Christmas day itself however, this year there's much more going on for Christmas. I think I have five days in a row of solid plans which, although it'll be exhausting, I'm also so excited for. I also have plans for New Year to which is the first in around 10 years, I'm so excited!

What have you enjoyed from Autumn? 
Cheerio for now! 
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Photography: James Coleman 

Monday, 18 December 2017

Christmas Traditions

Everyone has certain Christmas traditions that they look forward to each year, my family definitely have more than a few we uphold each year. This year things have changed slightly, we now have a bigger family, I have a boyfriend -and generally speaking, when there are more folks in the family it's a little trickier to keep everyone happy. Regardless of these changes, there are a few things we'll still be able to uphold which I'd like to share here. 
Pretty basic in any household but in our household as soon as the clock strikes midnight on the 31st of October -it's Christmas! We typically get our decorations out mid November and my mom goes through the excruciating process of deciding what colour scheme or theme she wants for that year -and it takes quite some time. I always have a two foot tree in my room, which I put multi-coloured decorations on it which I have had since I was a baby. This year, as I'm staying at my boyfriends on Christmas eve I managed to talk him into having a small Christmas tree in his room too -you can't wake up on Christmas day without a tree! 
Shortbread & Tea Evenings 
One that is a bit indulgent, and definitely hasn't helped our figures over the years is our Shortbread & Tea evenings. Obviously, Christmas can be a really stressful time and it can be all too easy to get swept up trying to do Christmas shopping and tie up loose ends at work so my mom and I have a little ritual we do each year. It's not a daily thing but something we find ourselves doing each December. In the evening we'll chill on the sofa's, catching up with a cuppa and a tin of traditional Scottish shortbread from M&S... yes, dunking is involved. I know it's such a simple one, but it's so lovely winding down in the evening without getting carried away watching youtube or overdoing it with work or studying. Just simply eat, slurp, and chill
Christmas Eve 
Now this is one that has slightly changed over the years. When I was younger, we would wake up before the crack of dawn and head into London. We would queue outside Harrods for opening time to go see Santa. We'd be given cookies and their'd be entertainers while we waited. After we'd seen him we would then go to the Christmas shop and just generally have a mooch around. We'd also have a MaccyD's breakfast afterwards (when I say afterwards, this would usually be around 8 o'clock in the morning). But regardless of the early start and how tired I would be come mid-day, those Christmas Eve's at Harrods were magical! And probably one of the few traditions my mom continued after my parents divorced. 

These days it has changed slightly. As much as my mother would still love to drag me to Santa Claus (if she could) we obviously no longer do that. Instead, we find out what time M&S opens at our local shopping centre, wait at the doors with our trolley, and then bundle in as soon as the doors are open. We get profiteroles for my mom (she always gets two pyramids -and eats both of them) and then we get Salmon for my nan. Yes, we could get these from anywhere but theres a second part to our tradition. After getting our bits and bobs, we head on up to the cafe at M&S and have breakfast with my nan before the hectic-ness of Christmas Eve. This is especially nice if it falls on a weekday and my nan has to then go to work. 
Boxing Day 
Again, boxing day has changed over the years but the past few years we have made a new tradition. We all fall into the car and drive to the coast. We have a wander around and soak up the sea air before heading to the ice cream parlour or finding a tea room. After such rich and heavy food on Christmas Day, it's nice just getting out for some fresh air and not really having to hold yourself to a timescale to see everyone and go everywhere like you usually have to do with Christmas day. Sometimes we even take some leftovers or make some light sandwich to snack on while we're out and about. 

So those are just a few of my family's traditions, what are yours? 
Cheerio for now! 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Tropic | In The Best Hands

In The Best Hands Collection 
From the many posts I have produced about Tropic products, it's pretty evident that it is my favourite brand -I just love their products! If you don't know who Tropic are or what their brand is about, head on over here and have a quick read about them before continuing this post. On to the product...

I noticed this hand collection some time ago and was eager to get my hands on it, but with moving and life in general it just was put on the back burner and forgotten about until my birthday. I knew I wanted to try it and there was nothing I really wanted or needed for my birthday so I directed a lot of people to my wantfeed page (where this little gem of a collection was residing). My boyfriend gifted me this collection for my birthday ...but he didn't know what it was or who Tropic were. It's quite amusing to receive a gift from someone and then have them ask what it is once you've opened it. 

Anyways, Tropic In the Best Hands collection is a bedtime ritual to achieve softer hands overnight. It contains a Hand Smooth Revitalising Polish, Soft Touch Intensive Hand Mask, and Bamboo Gloves. 
The hand smooth is an exfoliating polish which, I'm not going to lie, is quite gritty at first touch but once you start massaging it against the skin and then start rinsing it off, it melts into the most beautifully silky texture on your hands. 
To use: simply massage onto rough or dry hands, and then rinse with warm water. My personal advice would be not to go too hot with the water but just a luke warm to rinse it off nicely. 

This hand mask is super rich in its formulation and incredibly moisturising. I was apprehensive about the word 'Intensive' being used in the title and I did wonder whether the product would live up to that title but it did that and more. 
To use: Once you've dried your hands from the rinsing of the revitalising polish, apply a generous layer working it into every rough patch on your hands and then whip your bamboo gloves on and leave them overnight to let your hands soak up all the goodness of the mask. (Side note: I have done this process throughout the day, going through the steps and leaving the gloves on while I study). 

I had been suffering from insanely dry hands during October and November (I think from the temperature change and having to have a heater on in my room) so this hand collection has come in so handy and really been a god send for me. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who suffers from dry or rough hands, or anyone who just loves giving their skin a little TLC. Also, before I forget, the website says this product is limited edition so if you do want to give it a go, I'd suggest getting your hands on it sooner rather than later. 

Have you ever tried this product? What did you think? 
Cheerio for now! 

Friday, 8 December 2017

Inspire Me Lately

*side note: I wrote this post two months ago and totally forgot to post it: but I suppose it's better late than never! 

There's been a lot of things inspiring me lately, here are a few of them...
  • This video from Jenn at Clothes Encounters. In this video, she recreated looks inspired by famous works of art. I absolutely love this video and the way it mixes art with fashion and almost and quirky, fancy dress element. I also love that she discusses each painting and a little bit about its' background -as someone who has studied art history, I really appreciated that. 
  • I have listened to The Ladygang podcast on and off for just under a year now. I find that I'll go ages without checking out my podcasts and then suddenly binge-listening to them all in a couple of days. When this happens I find that I love one or two episodes way more than the others. This time it was the Whitney Port episode and the Ru Paul one. Now as someone who has the box set for the Hills and the City -I loved the episode with Whitney Port, but the episode with Ru Paul was just on a whole other level of inspiring. His words and life views were beyond enlightening for me, and I think I listened to this episode at a point when I truly needed it. One motto that he mentioned which I absolutely fell in love with was 'Unless they paying your bills, pay them bees no mind' -which I mean, is just perfect for me to keep in mind. I'm someone who gets too paranoid about what people think or how they'll perceive what I do when in reality it doesn't really matter all that much at all. 
  • I love this video from Violette at violette_fr. I love the way she chooses a different location for each of her videos and her looks appear so polished and well curated. The shots and camera work seems so natural and effortless while being true to the theme of the video. I also really enjoyed this video she produced a while back. 
  • I have also been loving the Youtube videos by Broadly lately. In particular there ones about Coco and Life as a fairytale princess. I absolutely loved the video about Coco. Although it feels quite bizarre for a six-year-old to be able to work Instagram, it is also lovely to see a child be so uniquely themselves without feeling judged or as though they need to follow the crowd. I feel as though Broadly's videos do not sugar coat topics; they take you behind the scenes and show you the nitty-gritty details of things. For instance, their videos on Bulgaria's Bride market and the most powerful witches in Romania were so informative but also truthful and respectful of the culture of the subject. I really enjoy their videos and would recommend to anyone who wants to watch something a little more informative or in more of documentary style. 
  • And last, but by no means least, is Paloma's get ready video featured on Glossier's youtube channel. I've been following Paloma on Instagram for some time now and as a fellow curvy woman, I find her so inspiring. I'd say coming across her instagram and other curvy models and activists, and seeing how at home they are with their own bodies have definitely made me feel a lot more at home in my own body. 
Cheerio for now!

Friday, 1 December 2017

What's In My Bag | Matt & Nat

This is such a classic lifestyle post, which I do usually steer clear from but to be honest I love posts like this. I think there's something quite interesting in seeing what people carry around with them so why not do my own post. 
First of all my bag is the Vignelli bag by the brand Matt & Nat, a Canadian brand which specialises in handbags made from vegan leather and recyclable goods (post to come on this brand, they are amazing!). I received this last Christmas, which was a total surprise because it is a very pricey bag at £125, but seen as I have used it every day ever since I think it was money well spent and the best present ever! I'd had my eye on the bag for over a year before I received it and I think it was pretty popular because whenever I managed to save the money to buy it (didn't happen often) it just so happened to be out of stock. It comes in a variety of colours but I have it in the classic black. It has adjustable straps, a phone pocket inside, a small zip compartment inside, and a zipper pocket on the outside too. I absolutely love the outer zip pocket feature on this bag. It's so ideal having this pocket there for security but also so you don't have to rifle through the entire bag to find anything like your keys or phone. Anyway, I've rambled enough about the bag so onto what I keep inside.
Purse 2x: I have two purses. One for cards and notes, and one for loose change. This seems bizarre to some but the purse I keep my cards and notes in is a red vintage leather purse which is a hand-me-down from my nan. It was handed down to her by her aunt and so there's a family tie to that which I just can't let go of. Not only that but it's the ideal purse for me. The reason I have a purse for change is that I'm so conscious of breaking or damaging my red purse (I know, I'm ridiculous but I really love it and would hate for it to break). The change purse is just a simple coin pouch which is made out of a black sturdy material.
Keys: Pretty obvious but you can't get anywhere without them.
Phone: This is usually in my hand or pocket, although I do often slip it in the outer zip section too.
Sunglasses: It doesn't matter what time of the year it is, they are always in my bag. I'm a vampire, I need those bad boys to avoid the sun!
Lip Balm x2: I currently have two balms in my bag. This one by Forever, and this one by Winky Lux.
Tablet box: for my the many supplements I am currently on.
Compact mirror: I have a models own one.
Medical Cards: I have an orange card from my local council which lets people know I am physically disabled. Usually, I am in my wheelchair but if, for whatever reason I am not, this card can let people know I am physically disabled and may need help in certain situations. I also have an ME alert card from the ME association which just alerts people to the fact that I have ME. It also has an emergency contact with it and my doctor's details. 
A pouch full of bits and bobs: This is pretty much the miscellaneous section. In here I keep some blotting papers, an Eye Refresh by Tropic, a vast array of bobby pins and hair bands, a pen, Mackenzie smelling salts, strepsils, a radar key, Hydrocortisone cream, painkillers, tweezers, solid perfume, mints, earplugs, and a fidget spinner (because everyone in 2017 joined the fidget spinner phase at some point)
Snack: I also keep some cashew nuts or some sort of biscuit within my bag in case I need to eat before taking my medications. I also tend to get hangry. 

So that is everything I keep in my bag. Of course, every so often I do accumulate some receipts in the pit of my bag or slip a book in there but for the most part, everything listed above is what lives inside my bag. 

What's the weirdest thing you keep in your bag? 
Cheerio for now! 

Photography: James Coleman

Friday, 24 November 2017

Sweater Weather

November has always been a little bit of an oddball for me. It's that grey hazy zone between the blur of pumpkins and the scary masks of Halloween and then the red, green, and sparkly decorations of Christmas. November is almost a stopping off point, a period of respite before the stress and excitement of Christmas hits us all and comes around in the blink of an eye. It is also when the temperature drops and the air becomes a little chillier which means only one thing: it's time for sweaters! 

I love my sweaters. As a disabled person, who is often in a wheelchair, it can get freezing really fast. Because of this, I have assembled a collection of trusty layers I always turn to around this time of the year. Of course, over time a few have been passed on to other hands and new ones acquired but I have three old faithful's that I'd like to share today. 
The first is this Beige cardigan from River Island. I got this about five years ago, as well as the same style but in an ochre yellow tone too. I love how effortless it looks but how incredibly cozy it is. I'd say I use it more indoors than outdoors because it works great as an extra layer, but it also comes in really handy to keep in the car and on my travels during October time too. This cardigan is essentially my 'in-between seasons' layer, and, where it's buttonless, it works great to wrap around myself and just curl up in. 
This second one, this jumper by the brand Staring at Stars at Urban Outfitters is also a golden oldie. My granddad has the most amazing knitted jumpers and I often joke that he needs to look after them so I can wear them one day (it sounds morbid but we've been doing it for years because he knows how much I love them). Anyway, I saw this jumper when I was about seventeen, I fell in love instantly but it was from urban outfitters and a little out my price range. A few days later my mom came in with it and my granddad had treated me to it however, it was a little snug (like 'can't-breathe' snug) and I didn't want to size up but I also didn't want to take it back entirely so it was just shoved into a draw for years. 

I found it during moving house at the beginning of summer and tried it on, which to my delight it fit. Since then I have worn it whenever it has got a little bit nippy outside. It is quite a fine-knit but also very soft to wear so it's perfect for those days when it is warm in the sun but cold in the shade. 
Last but not least is this fluffy soft jumper from Topshop, again an old guy from the magic wardrobe (where clothes disappear for years). I don't actually shop from any of the above shops no more, however, I hate being wasteful especially with clothes that still fit into my personal style. As I mentioned, this jumper is really soft, and quite baggy in shape but I love the pattern and colour. It is a bit more 'out-there' than what I would wear these days, however, I'm happy I bought it when I did. This jumper always makes me feel super festive and really gets me in the mood for Christmas. 

So, those are my favourite November warmers, do you have any items that you love bringing out this time of the year? 
Cheerio for now! 

Photography: James Coleman 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Whitby | 17

After our few days in Nott'm, we headed up to stay with some friends in Middlesborough and then to Whitby on my birthday. Now the weather at Whitby was pretty grim. It was on and off drizzling and a van went through a puddle, soaking my boyfriend -not ideal (I briefly mentioned in my Wales posts that he gets crabby in the rain, they just don't mix well). But despite this, we had a great day.

Whitby is one of my favourite places. I love the harbour, the cobblestone streets with wonky old buildings and alleyways with shops poked here and there. I love the fact that everyone up't Nor' is so friendly, and you can chat with anyone without having weird looks thrown your way.
We headed towards the Whitby abbey steps straight away. (Side note: wheelchairs and cobblestones do not mix well -they give you the worst back pain ever!). We actually picked up a bike lock in Nott'm for my wheelchair and used it a few times before abandoning my wheelchair at the bottom of the Whitby Abbey steps. I knew I wanted to give getting up the steps a pop, but I also knew I wouldn't be able to walk to them and then do the stairs, so using my wheelchair was necessary. Conveniently enough, the steps have benches to the side of them every 10 stairs or so: the perfect rest breaks to not only rest my legs but also check out the amazing view of the harbour town. 

Once at the top, we went through the churchyard, taking in the ornate old tombstones and the view of the North Sea. We then headed on up to the Abbey, reading a little bit about the ruins before heading up to them. 
Whitby Abbey is so pretty. It's the type of place you wander around while wondering how it would have looked centuries ago and what people would have thought about it back then. What's left of the abbey is essentially part of the shell of the original building. There are signs and illustrations showing what it may have looked like in the 13th Century, and they tell you quite a bit about how it would have been used too. 
After a quick trip to the gift shop and a lot of spent pennies, we headed for some food and went to some shops before heading home. Whitby was an amazing day, and I'm so glad we got to go there on my actual birthday. 

Cheerio for now! 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Magazines 2.0

In my last post on Magazines, here, I mentioned that there were three other magazines I really wanted to write about however, I didn't want to make that post too long so- here we are. Now there are three magazines, however, one of them has recently announced they will not be printing issues anymore but rather remain an online publication; maintaining the themes they covered in their printed issues but rather just publishing through an online outlet. So, what are my chosen magazines?
The Messy Heads
I mean, this should come as no surprise. My post, Inspire Me Lately, was very Messy Heads inspired. I have briefly mentioned this before but The Messy Heads are so raw and authentic in terms of their content. Not just their written pieces but their photography, layout, and contributors too. Everything is so carefully curated but also so incredibly personal and inspiring to behold. When you flip through the magazine you get a sense that this isn't a publication that is following trends or trying to live up to a standard set by society but rather a collection of individuals forging their own paths and creating lives to their own tune. It's a magazine that always grounds me and set me back to my own beat. It reminds me of who I am and what truly matters to me, and any magazine that can have that effect on me is welcome with open arms.
The Local Wolves
This nifty mag is based in Long Beach, California, however, it is available both in print and online so you can always get your hands on it. It's centred around creative minds within the world of arts, culture, and entertainment; and introduced me to such a range of innovative individuals I otherwise would never have heard of. It used to have my ultimate girl crush, Orion Carloto, as its' resident columnist which used to keep my heart swooning but the magazine is still soaring without her beautiful words. I tend to read this mag online, although I do have a few issues in my possession: in particular, girl crushes whom I love. I, of course, have Orion Carloto's cover issue, then Estee Lalonde, and The Fashion Citizen. If you are a creative or even have an interest in the creative arts or culture in general then I would definitely recommend giving this a read. The Local Wolves website has a link to follow to read online.
Now sadly, this is the amazing magazine which is no longer being published. However, fear not -they are still going to produce the same amazing content on their website. I only got my hands on two of their annual issues and I absolutely love each of them, however, it is really sad that I won't be adding any other issues to my shelf. I know it's wasteful to collect magazines but when they are as beautifully curated as this -I simply can't stop myself! Betty magazine covers a range of topics but most of all only write about things that its editors like. They relish in embracing and celebrating who they are, as well as encouraging their readers to do the same. The mag, like the website, is full of how-to guides, beauty, lookbooks, food recipes, and, my personal favourite, their travel content: which doesn't just cover foreign places and cities but also areas in England which you wouldn't usually be drawn to but that doesn't mean you wouldn't like it there. Betty is definitely the type of mag for the creative individual, looking for something unique to read.

Have you ever read any of these magazines? What do you think of them? 
Cheerio for now!

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Year of Twenty One

A year ago I posted this post, A Letter To Twenty. I remember sitting up in bed, surrounded by snotty, tear-stained tissues and wearing a week old pajamas writing that post. I wasn't in the best of places a year ago. Changes were happening in our family and as much as they seemed positive there was an element of discomfort to them, especially for me. I'd spend most of my time alone, well I had my four-legged pal but not any form of human interaction. Things got dark pretty quickly and my twenty-first birthday wasn't as happy an occasion as birthdays usually are. What we did on my birthday was amazing. Having a pub lunch in London and then heading to the Ritz for evening tea had my tea-loving heart swooning. When a quartet plays 'Twenty one today' just for you, it's pretty special.

New year bought the sudden change of moving. The idea of leaving my childhood home was bittersweet, but I also kind of loved the idea of a new beginning. I think my mom and I had needed it for a while. It's crazy how this new beginning can bring new people into your life too, and suddenly your heart starts to flutter when you see someone's name light up on your phone. I know many don't believe in fortune tellers or tarot cards but having been brought in a family of believers, I remember my mom once being told that when her life changes so too will mine. I always thought this was rather bizarre and took it with a pinch of salt, but having looked back at how things have changed within my family compared with things with my friends and boyfriend -it makes sense (and to be frank it's a little spooky how correct it was).
Moving was stressful, to say the least. I've never felt like such a nomad. But around this time I gained a little freedom too. I went from sharing a car with my mom to having my own, which was nice. I met my boyfriend around the same time which was pretty great, to say the least (I can't write too much about him, his ego is already big enough). Even now, my living situation is a bit cramped but I do have my own room and space for my things which is something I haven't had for the majority of this year so far.

The year of twenty-one saw some pretty cool trips and days out too. It saw us go to Wales, seeing the stunning Welsh countryside and trying not to slip down waterfalls. We had weekends exploring anywhere we could possibly get to. Days spent at the beach hut, exploring the coast and wandering around Dreamland and the Shell Grotto.

Most of all, the year of twenty-one saw a lot of changes with my health and made me aware of things I didn't even think were medically possible. I think I can officially say the transition from girl to woman happened this year; in not the easiest of ways. The end of twenty-one also saw me start my new supplement programme with a new doctor (post to come on that -he's like a magician!). But most of all, I learned that my body is much more powerful then I give it credit for and I should spend a little more time giving it the love it deserves.

I think I can say this year was a huge transition period for many things, but it's ending on a much more positive note than the last. Now we just have to wait and see what twenty-two has to offer.

Cheerio for now! 
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Photography: James Coleman 

Monday, 30 October 2017

Nottingham | 17

In mid-October, we took a trip up't Nor' for my birthday. We planned to stay with some friends in Middlesborough and then head to Whitby on my actual birthday, but with my birthday falling on a Wednesday we decided why not extend the trip and go up a few days earlier. Trying to find a halfway point we landed on Nott'm for our destination and spent a few days there exploring before heading further north for my twenty-second birthday.

While in Nottingham we did a ton of things. We went to the Goose Fair, the Justice museum, saw the sky mirror, Lord Byron's house, the Robin Hood statue, ate the worlds best pizza and doughnotts: as well as exploring some pretty cool shops and restaurants. Oh, and I got my nose pierced! ...something I have wanted for such a long time but never actually gone through with it.

Nottingham was an amazing place, and somewhere I know I'll want to revisit again and again. There were so many other places and restaurants where we didn't get to explore or experience so another trip is definitely needed.

Cheerio for now! 
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Thursday, 26 October 2017

What I'm Studying This Year | 17

I have kind of made it a habit to document my university progress on this little corner of cyberspace. Because of that it just wouldn't be right to not let you guys know what I'm studying this year.

This year I am studying a module called Reading and Studying Literature (A230) with The Open University. It will be my fourth module and fourth year towards my Open Degree. To graduate with my Open degree I have to complete and pass six modules with the Open University which means I am officially halfway through my degree! I remember enrolling onto my first module so vividly. I was so nervous and worried that I had potentially signed away six years of my life; dreading that it would drag on and be torture. If anything, it has been the exact opposite and I can't recommend the Open University enough to people. It truly is such an enjoyable and friendly community, which is so welcoming and accommodating of whatever stage of life you are in. People of all ages and all walks of life come together to form a friendly teaching environment and supportive community.

Anyway, back to the module (sorry, I went on a tangent). My module, of course, involves a lot of literature and a heck of a lot of reading -but I'm a bookworm, so I'm kind of in my element. Not only does it include classic novels but also plays, readings, poetry and travel writing from the Renaissance and Eighteenth century, through to the twentieth century; it also covers a wide range of themes and eras such as the romantics and the Victorians.

I must admit that there is a lot of work to this module which is nerve-wracking but I'm also excited to start and find my routine again. This module also has an exam at the end of the year, something I have never experienced at university level so that is also at the back of my mind constantly. Regardless of this, I can't wait to get settled into this module and read all the great works it has to offer.

Cheerio for now!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Book Review: A Mask of Shadows

A Mask of Shadows, Oscar De Muriel  
 First of all, I'd like to say that if you are not familiar with any of the previous Frey & McGray cases then you can read my reviews for them here; where I have reviewed both The Strings of Murder and A Fever of the Blood

A Mask of Shadows starts in London 1889, before moving onto the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland. A bout of terror haunts the acclaimed production of Macbeth, as well as their beloved celebrities, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, along with other actors, seamstresses, and stage hands. In the opening chapter, set in London, the first chilling event happens. As the actors' soak in their final applause, hell ensues with the screeching cry of a Banshee and a gruesome message, smeared across the stage sets, prophesizing someone's death. The tale takes place a short time after A Fever of the Blood and so, our narrator brings up his superstitions once more as he and McGray are assigned this case, shortly after the Macbeth cast and production arrive in the City. What follows are numerous plot twists, along with a long list of suspects within the play, behind the scenes and even onlookers and relatives who could all have a motive to kill or even reasons to be killed themselves.

As I stated in my review of A Fever of the Blood, you never know what to expect when you have already read and loved the original book. For me, I loved both the previous books, the first being my favourite, so before reading this book I wondered if maybe the author had peaked (like some do) or whether the characters were starting the die out. Having read it, I can say neither of those points is true. The storyline and characters were very well thought out, although I did think that there were a little too many names and characters involved at times which got a little overwhelming for me reading it. I also think that the end was left a little open which usually I wouldn't mind but in this case, there were so many questions that were unanswered which left it all rather loose and deflating for me. 

My favourite thing about this edition to the casebooks were the characters we already know from the previous editions i.e. Frey & McGray, Elgie, the family of Freys, Madam Katrina, etc. I always love seeing the progression of Frey & McGrays' relationship and so, reading this book I loved watching them become more and more so friends rather than colleagues who just put up with one another. I must say, I also adore the Victorian era these books are set in. It gives the books a grimmer vibe to them which I really enjoy. 

The next edition of the Frey & McGray cases is The Loch of the Dead, which will be released next year on the 5th April. You can pre-order it here.

Have you read A Mask of Shadows or any of the accompanying books? What did you think? 
Cheerio for now! 
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Friday, 13 October 2017

Wales | Where We Went | Part 3

Our third day in Wales started with a trip to get breakfast, followed by us going on the Brecon Mountain Railway. The train was a steam train with rickety carriages which were furnished with wooden benches and wide windows to take in the beautiful views. We passed the Pontsticill Reservoir and had two stops to our ride. One at Torpantau station and the other at the Steam Museum. 
The Brecon Mountain Railway also had a workshop you can look in, which smelt exactly like my grandfathers' garage and had my heart a flutter. It's an oily, rusty metal scent that if I could bottle into a perfume, I totally would! 

After our time on the railway and a quick stop in the gift shop for postcards, we headed off to find Sgwd yr Eira (a waterfall). I should also mention that by this point it was starting to rain and as we started our trail it got heavier and heavier. With a boyfriend becoming crabbier by the minute from the rain and both of us being soaked through, we decided to turn back. After drying off our clothes and having a warm shower, we had some hearty grub and called it a night.
We had heavy rain for the majority of that night and had to pack up while it drizzled; but even so, it was probably my favourite night of the trip. There's something pretty soothing about falling asleep listening to the rain. Although we still had a day left and had thought about visiting some areas on our way home, such as Cardiff or Tenby, we decided it was best to simply pack the car and start heading home. 
Cheerio for now! 
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