Paris | A Poem

Wednesday 26 September 2018

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Hello everyone! It ay have escaped your notice, but I haven't posted any of my creative writing on here in quite a while. The reason for that would be that A Levels kind of squeezed out my creativity and I have hardly written anything creative in the past year except for one or two pieces more recently. Here's one of them, I hope you enjoy.
Paris is the dream I thought would fade as soon as I stepped onto it cobbled stones,
I thought it would burn and crumble at my feet,
So I’d be standing on the ruins of a fantasied idealized civilization
Far from the reach of the little people like me.

But the fire that burns there has only grown stronger,
Not destructive but holy,
Giving life to the ideas which had already taken
Root in my mind,
Letting them grow and twist despite knowing that death becomes all
No matter what.

Paris has become a new dream;
A lullaby, 
Dozing off to the cool tones of the double bass as it jives and sings and dances
Around the hidden world under the streets,
Chilling to the touch but which
Warms the soul.

1am and the lights of the city float around
my head,
beating around like faeries until one
swoops down,
drifting into my palms, fingers
close around it.

A light pushed inside me, digging away until it becomes a part of my 

I feel at home here -
Despite the denim shorts which blurt out my foreign status to anyone who sees me.
I may be a visitor, but I feel as home here. 

If you liked this post you might like: 5 Days in Paris

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5 Ways You Can Save Money By Reducing your Waste

Friday 21 September 2018

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I’m trying really hard to reduce my waste at the moment, and I’m quite proud of my progress. Things like this take time, practice and patience, so I’m not expecting to go zero waste overnight (being ‘zero waste’ is virtually impossible anyway), but doing bits and bobs wherever possible ends up with significant results. And who doesn’t love saving a bit of money where they can? For me, saving money and reducing waste go hand in hand, here are some of the reasons why:

1. Reusuable menstrual products

By now, we’re all aware of how much I bloody love my menstrual cup (pun most definitely intended), and that’s for a number of reasons. You can read a blog post about the advantages of using a menstrual cup here. It’s no secret that for people with wombs, menstruation can be an unfairly costly time. 

Despite the initial cost (usually about 20), a menstrual cup is one of the cheapest options for menstrual products as they last for around 10 years. When you put that into context with single use pads and tampons, there’s not really much competition.

If you find that you don’t get on with a menstrual cup, or you don’t think it’s for you for whatever reason, you can use reusable pads. These pads you use as you would a disposable one, except after use you can wash 

2. Take your food on the road with you

As much as we may all love a meal deal, the amount of packaging and the prices are something I think we all agree could and should be reduced. If you buy a meal deal as lunch every or most days, then you’’ be shelling out nearly £20 a week. 

By making your own packed lunches, you can have a wider variety of meals, ensure you're getting the nutrients you need as well as the amount of packaging you use (whether it's plastic or not). I usually have leftovers or make extra portions of a meal to use later on.

3. Travel mugs

We all know about the infamous plastic-lined takeaway coffee cup, they’ve been all over the news and environmental campaigns, and for good reason. There are many ways a resuable travel mug can save you some cash. For example, most chain coffee shops now do discounts or other deals if you bring in your own travel mug to use.

Costa: 25p
Pret a Manger: 50p
Starbucks: 25p
Greggs: 20p
Caffe Nero: double stamps on your loyalty card, meaning you have to buy 4/5 drinks to get one for free instead of 9.

But you don’t need to go out to buy your hot drinks. It may sound obvious (and kind of similar to my last point), but making your morning coffee at home rather than buying one out will mean that you save a lot of money. Let’s be honest, an average of £2 for a cup of tea (without the discount) is absolutely ridiculous when you can make one for pennies instead.

4. Second-hand clothing

Whilst ethical clothing can be much pricier than more wasteful alternatives, buying clothes second-hand definitely doesn’t need to be expensive. There’s nothing better than finding something amazing from a charity shop for a couple of quid – that’s where I’ve found some of my favourite items of clothing – and by doing so you’re not contributing to a linear economy, and helping a good cause whilst doing so.

5. The nature of reuse!

By focusing on using items in the long term, rather than throwing them out for a day. It’s just common sense really – replacing less means we spend less. Whether it’s containers you repurpose or old rags made into reusuable cotton wool pads or even a well-used library card, there are so many ways to cut down on spending by reusing rather than dumping.

What are your low-waste tips and tricks for saving money?

If you liked this post you might like: 5 Ways to Reduce Waste

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New Creative Writing & Publishing MA at the University of Lincoln w/ Guardian Live. | #ad

Friday 14 September 2018

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Nearly a month ago now, I received an email from the University of Lincoln, inviting me to an upcoming event in London to promote their brand new Creative Writing & Publishing Master’s degree to both fellow academics as well as potential students. 
So, two weeks down the line, my friend Amy and I headed up to London for the day ready to see what it was all about. We had a great time traipsing across the city, eating wonderful vegan food – By Chloe, you forever have my heart – and buying too many books than we needed. At about three in the afternoon, we headed over to King’s Cross where we hung around for a bit before finding the House of Illustration and settling down to hear the speakers. 

After a brief introduction by the Head of Guardian Live, Michael Harris, we heard Associate Culture Editor at the Guardian, Claire Armistead, who we had briefly spoken to at the start of the event, talk about the course. Claire spoke primarily about the changing professional landscape, of how now, and in the future, individuals are becoming more and more likely to have more than one element to their career. This particularly applies to creatives, who are needing to splinter their endeavors in order to make a living. Some examples she gave were creative writers branching out to become ghost writers for celebrities, screen-play doctors, columnists, podcasters, bloggers, journalists… The list goes on, especially with the new platforms which advancing technology has allowed. Leading on from this, she discussed how Lincoln and The Guardian’s new course will be aimed at helping writers adapt to the changing nature of the job market. 

The course itself is honestly incredible. I actually found myself getting a little jealous of everyone who will be able to take part as the speakers discussed it, and if I had already finished my Bachelor’s (which I start in about a week and a half) I would certainly be applying. 

The collaboration with the Guardian has meant that students will attend lectures from prominent writers associated with both organisations, including art historian Andrew Graham Dixon (who gave a speech at the event), Chris Packham, columnist Stuart Heritage and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy (I had a bit of an ‘OH MY GOD!’ moment when I saw this last name on the list). Much can be gained from each of these writers’ experiences, individual stories and craft. You just need to try to not to freak out if you’re a big fan of their work.

The lectures and workshops themselves are split between The University of Lincoln and the Guardian headquarters in King’s Cross, London, with one workshop every fortnight. This could be awkward if you don’t live near either of these cities, or even if you live near one, so make sure you take into consideration the travel options available to you before applying.

As the department leader Prof. Jason Whittaker highlighted, the course provides a wider knowledge of the ‘interlocking’ aspects of writing: the theory and the practice. Thus, the course focusses equally on the ‘branding’ side of the writing industry, to help you understand the business role as much as improving and refining your writing skills (and these range through a variety of different genres).

As a blogger, I have had to learn about professional presentation, working with brands and promoting myself and my blog in a memorable way through time and experience only. I still feel like an absolute novice in this area nearly 4 years later and to me, that’s a huge part of the appeal of Lincoln’s course. 

Now, I thought I probably ought to let you know a little about the actual nuts and bolts of the course itself: 

The cost of£12,000 for the year sounds very intimidating, and I’m not going to make this post about my views on the current state of tuition fees in the UK because you’d be here for a long time reading me practically shouting through the screen, and I may well end up breaking the keyboard on my laptop. However, there are some scholarships and loans available. The loans are non-means tested, so you’ll get the full amount no matter what. Two scholarships are also available: one for Lincoln alumni and another for anyone who has taken part in a Guardian Masterclass previously. Both of these scholarships provide a reduction to the overall cost of the course. To find out more about finances or any other aspect of the course contact Claire Mann, the postgraduate admissions officer at Lincoln, or take a look at their website here

The course begins on the 26ndOctober, so if you’re interested, then you’ll need to make your decision pretty quickly. 

Thank you to everyone at the University of Lincoln (especially Sophie who invited me along to the event and made sure Amy and I felt at ease and welcomed when we arrived) and the Guardian. Hopefully this post has proven helpful to any of you reading. I truly believe that this course is an amazing opportunity which should not be missed if you it interests you and you have the means to take it.

If you want see more of what Amy and I got up to on our day out, please go over to Amy's YouTube channel to watch her vlog of the day.

If you liked this post you might like: My Advice to New A Level Students

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OOTD // London Event and Day About Town

Monday 10 September 2018

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A week ago, I spent the day in London with my friend Amy. I was really feeling what I was wearing, so we took the opportunity of the scenery at Kensington Gardens to have an impromptu shoot. I hope you love this outfit as much as I do!

Top: secondhand fast fashion bought on Depop not long ago

Black Skater Skirt: fast fashion, had for a couple of years

Boots: fast fashion, owned for a year

Hat: Cherokee, technically my mum's but I may have nabbed it. Oops.

Necklace: Bought second-hand from the market in Skibbereen, West Cork, Ireland

Earrings: Not entirely sure as I've had them for years, but I think they may have been from a shop I visited whilst on holiday abroad

As hopefully you'll be able to tell from the growing number of second-hand items I am wearing here, that I'm making a bigger effort to shop ethically wear possible with my clothes. Honestly, I've been struggling finding ethical brands who are also affordable and would be extremely grateful for any recommendations or tips in regards to ethical clothing.

If you liked this post you might like: OOTD // A Bath Day Out

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July and August | Monthly Wrap Up

Friday 7 September 2018

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So I may have been a little late with my past few wrap ups – sorry! I hope this double whammy makes up even a little bit. It’s time for a long catch up!

Favourite part?

A lot has happened in the past few months. I’ve had several beach days, nights and out and meetups with friends, all of which were great!

I visited London in July to take part in the Anti-Trump Protest. I went with a group of people  I had never met before, but knew through my dad. We had a great day and it made me feel like a part of something.
One weekend, midway through July, my family and I went away for the weekend to celebrate my grandparents’ golden wedding anniversary. It was so nice to spend time with family, especially those we don’t see often.

Then, on 23rdJuly Lizzi and I started our trip to Paris. You can see full details of our trip in the post I wrote, but let’s just say that we had a great time dancing around Paris through the heat and alcohol and figuring out the metro.

Immediately after returning from Paris, my family and I headed back down to Wales, where we stayed with my grandparents for nearly 2 weeks. Initially, we had a very relaxed few days. We hardly did anything except lie around, play board games and read and boy, was it needed!

Throughout our time back in Pembrokeshire, we acted as proper tourists, going to Heatherton, Caldey Island, Skomer Island and Colby Wood Gardens (where they had a vegan board and muffins!!). 

A week after we came back home, it was results day. I’m glad to say it went well but I have to say the night before was perhaps the most stressful of my life. I hardly slept, but the rest of the day was worth it – including a celebratory Yo! Sushi and IKEA visit with my mum and a night out with what seemed to be the entire population of A Level students in Hampshire.

Since then, I’ve just been kind of pootling about, sorting out all my stuff. The weeks since have been wild. WILD I SAY!

Best read?

On the first of the month, I read Jo Cox: More in Common by her husband, Brendan Cox. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t shed a few tears whilst reading this – it’s somehow tragic and hopeful at the same time and I hope that the memory of Jo never fades. 

Next, I read On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back by Stacey Dooley. What is essentially a behind-the-scenes of her documentaries and account of her career, Dooley discusses what she has learned from her experiences and the variety of feminist issues across the globe which are often neglected and need to be tackled. I guess we’ll see some more of her on Strictly! 

I then read The Problem That Has No Name by Betty Friedan, one of the Penguin Modern Classic series and the first chapter of her famous Feminine Mystique. I have 4 more of those Classics to read and I am very excited to see what they’re like. 

Next was Frankenstein and the Birth of Science by Joel Levy. This was essentially the scientific history which inspired and led to the creation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and consequently the science fiction genre as a whole. 

After that I read Atonement by Ian McEwan, the first novel I’d read in a while. I loved the film, so I was very excited to read this. I find it fascinating and would recommend it to everyone, particularly if you’re interested in narrative perspective.

Then, I read Connell Guide to Pride and Prejudice by Janet Todd over the course of a car journey and an hour or so lying in bed. I love anything to do with Jane Austen, and I always love finding out more people’s views and interpretations.

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull was next on my list. A memoir of an Australian journalist who moved to Paris after meeting Frederic, Turnbull discusses her experiences from the day she arrived to their wedding day, several years later. I have to say, this was a read that was partly (mostly) due to our visit to Paris and my not-so-subtle obsession with the city. Oops!

I then picked up Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso from the library where I work and read it within a day. It was fascinating and I could really understand and empathise with Maguso’s struggles and attachments to her diary, even though I myself haven’t ever held one more for more than a couple of weeks. 

I started reading A Literature of Their Own by Elaine Showalter in July, but it’s taken me a while to properly get into it. As much as I find the subject matter fascinating, the formality of the language does mean it has taken me a bit longer to get through than some of the others in this section.

Favourite tunes?

Does it get boring if I keep saying ABBA? Even if it’s true. 

Carla Bruni has also made an appearance a few times, in addition to the Ratatouille soundtrack – I’d like to thank Past Drunk Lizzi and I for that last one. The rats will most definitely kick your ass. 

Photo credit

Favourite watch?

Boy, I’ve watched a few tear-jerkers these past couple of months (mostly in August though, to be fair). Mamma Mia 2 has been a staple for both July and august (I saw it the day it came out). I cried a lot both times and oh my god do I want Young Donna’s wardrobe!

I also watched Goodbye, Christopher Robin with my family and we were all in floods by the ends. My face was actually puffy. I also watched To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which I loved – I love any good romcom and this was definitely up there. I need to get around to reading the books but knowing my TBR list, it’ll probably happen in a few years’ time. I had another cinema trip towards the end of the month, this time to see Incredibles 2 at last! I enjoyed it a lot particularly the feminist themes and Jack-Jack’s powers, although I think I prefer the first one.

Series wise, I’ve rewatched Series 4-6 of (new) Doctor Who and love that era. It’s just increased my excitement for the new series which is released next month! 

Throughout these two months, my family and I have watched Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema, which was right up my alley. As you’ll know if you’ve read any past blog posts in this series, I love watching video essays on books and film and this was simply a longer version of the YouTube videos I have watched. We loved it!

The past few days, I’ve started rewatching Merlin as it’s been put back on Netflix!
I’m really looking forward to the next few months of TV, with Bake Off and Upstart Crow back as well as Strictly and Doctor Who starting at the end of September. Autumn TV has BEGUNNNNN!!!

What did I learn?

I feel like I’ve had to re-examine how I measure my own self-worth in August. Results day, although a great day overall for me, was still trying and (excuse the cliché) made me realise a little more that I am separate from my grades. 

Also, more normal things like how to use a washing machine. Thanks mum!

What’s happening next month?

This is the big one. I’m moving to uni. It’s finally happening. Everything I’ve worked towards is now less than a month away. For the time being I’ve got a few weeks until I go, leaving plenty of time for goodbyes as everyone else goes away before I do.

What’s been on my mind?

I’m not really sure, to be honest. Uni, my friends… Desperately trying to find things to occupy my mind with whilst I have hardly anything to do. To do lists and chores are the way to prevent yourself from going out of your mind. Oh, how this has made me fear being unemployed.

Favourite blogger/vlogger?

I’ve honestly not been reading many blogs lately. I’ve watched a few uni advice videos on YouTube from a variety of different channels. I do have to recommend a couple of my friends: Amy and Amanda, both of whom have uploaded some wonderful videos lately. Please go and support them!

Favourite post?

I have been terrible with my blog posts lately. Hence the combination of months in this wrap up. My favourite would probably have to be the one discussing my Paris trip at the end of July (again, you can read it here).

My results day post was also a big one for me, as it allowed me to air my feelings and thoughts and process them in a more productive manner.  It helped me a lot, and I hope it'll help others.

Biggest inspiration?

I’m gonna be cheesy, but stick with it… Seeing all my friends succeed. I am one proud girl.

Any other favourites? 

I’ve been revamping my wardrobe a lot over the past couple of months. And, wow, I feel so good for it. Having donated a load of my old clothes, I’ve had the space to be able to get a few new items from Depop, including a some tops (one of which you can see in an upcoming OOTD blog post) and a pair of dunagrees I’ve practically been living in!

If you liked this post you might like: June 2018 | Monthly Wrap Up

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