4 Days in Ireland

Wednesday 27 June 2018

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This time last week I was preparing to go on my first holiday of the summer. Three of my friends and I went to the south coast of Ireland, on the edge of West Cork in the little village of Glandore for four days, where we stayed with one of my friend’s family (all of whom I am slightly in love with now). 
We first arrived on Thursday evening, having had our flight delayed by about a half hour, and stocked up on what was clearly way too much food than we needed. Thursday happened to be the summer solstice, so with a few ciders in tow, we headed to Drombeg Stone Circle for sunset. There was a steady flow of people and after a look around and laying a flower in the middle of the circle, we perched ourselves at the top of a hill, where we could look out to the sea on the horizon and the families and friends milling around about the stones. The sunset itself was a bit of a nonevent, but nevertheless it was a great night and perhaps the first time that I’d truly felt relaxed for a long time, definitely since the beginning of exam season. 

After the stone circle, we returned to the Glandore and towards the pub, the Glandore Inn. There, we tried a cider local to Kinsale and danced and laughed on the sleeping road surrounded by electric table candles whose reflections twinkled on the edge of the Atlantic.

We woke up mid-morning on Friday. I cooked my signature cinnamon toast with raspberries, strawberries and maple syrup for breakfast – the most I’d ever made of that particular dish – and it was met very well by my friends. Before the afternoon got fully underway, we were treated to a lovely lunch at a small restaurant called Hayes by my friend’s nan. They easily adapted their menu to be vegan in addition to their pre-existing vegan options.

To me, this day was defined by kayaks and the outdoors. Lugging a kayak each down from the house to the harbor, we took them out around the jagged cliffs, looking down to the seabed through the water which could almost have been glass until we reached a small rocky beach. Here, we met some very friendly dogs and sunbathed shortly before returning back for tea. 

That evening, we headed out to Lough Hyne, where we again took to kayaks, except this time in pairs. Originally, the intention was to see the bioluminescent bacteria that lived in Europe’s only saltwater lake, but the night was clear and bright so we could only see it faintly (we did see it briefly in a cave nearer the sea) so instead, we went through the rapids and out onto the mouth of the sea itself so that the horizon and water merged as one and it felt that we were about to tip off the side of the Earth at any moment. 

The next morning, we went to the town of Skibbereen, where a weekly market is held. This market really surprised me by its diversity and openness to the reduction of waste and anything vegan – incredible! – and we spent much longer milling about there than I think we intended to, but that was no issue at all! I bought quite a few items, everything from a second hand dress and necklace to a completely biodegradable toothbrush and whiskey marmalade. The vegan options were everywhere; we couldn’t believe it. There were at least 2 all vegan food stalls (and there were very few food stalls so I think we were actually in the majority) as well as an all vegan and refined-sugar-free chocolate stall. Our jaws actually dropped when we saw the chocolate. 

From there, we visited the secondhand bookshop, The Time Traveller, filled with all sorts of treasures from 2 battered copies of Mary Barton (which I bought) to 75-85 signed books by Kate Millet and Margaret Atwood and whole signed sections of Noam Chomsky’s personal library. We stayed there for a while, browsing and talking to the owner, a lovely man who clearly knew what he was talking about, and who gave us each a copy of their own independent magazine of the same name as their shop, which normally would have cost about 15 each. 

Later that evening, we all cooked a curry and had a nice proper sit down meal with my friend’s nan, and I am so glad that she liked the food (I’d provided the recipe for the sauce so I was slightly more concerned on that front). That night was pub night, we went to all of the three pubs in Glandore (ending our night at the Glandore Inn yet again). I have no more words really, I’m pretty sure you can work out for yourselves what happened. Let’s just say that Irish people do not go lightly on their booze and pub lock-ins are amazing.  In all honesty, that night is going to be one that sticks in my mind (I’m not really sure I can truly say it’s stuck in my memory) for the rest of my life. It was a special one. 

On our final day we woke up at 12:30. I do not regret anything. 

We packed up the rest of our food (which was quite a lot may I add), including hummus pesto pasta and a portion of the previous night’s curry, and carried it down to the beach we had visited on Friday afternoon. The heat seemed to have increased tenfold and I felt like I was actually – the best cure to which is obviously a paddle in the sea. 

I had such a great time in Cork. I felt so welcomed, and it felt great to have something to do without any academic pressures looming over my head the whole time. 

I want to dedicate this post to my three best friends. Charlotte, Eilish, Liz, I would be nothing without you – thank you for validating me even when I haven’t asked to be. I lav you guys. (I’m gonna go before it gets even more mushy)

If you liked this post you might like: 5 (1/2) Days in Berlin

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20 Before 20 | Revisited

Wednesday 20 June 2018

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A while ago, I did a blog post entitled ’20 Things Before 20’ which encompassed some things I wanted to have achieved (what for it) by the time I’m twenty. I think it’s been roughly half the time between that post’s first publication and the deadline *duh duh DUHHH*, so I thought it was about time I reviewed those goals. Goals, aims and priorities change over time and I think it's interesting and healthy to look back and see what has changed for us as we grow.

1. Finish writing my novel (I've nearly finished the first draft now, so this won’t take long).

I have done this! I finished the first draft of my novel in November 2016. Yes, I have officially written a novel people! I haven’t looked at it since though as I found with my studies and other commitments that it had to be put to the back seat. I would still love to revise this, so hopefully eventually it will be fully finessed. 

2. Get a literary agent.

I may have finished a novel, but along with the fact that A Levels brought an end to my time editing, they also stopped me from doing anything else related to my writing. I think this one is probably going to have to wait a bit, as I now have other goals which take precedence for me. 

3. Visit Chatsworth House.

I would still love to do this as my love for Jane Austen will never die. I may be more likely to go once I’m at uni because I will be a lot closer than I am now. Let’s go! 

4. Explore Paris.

I’m going to Paris ay the end of July for a few days with my friend Lizzi. I can’t wait. We’ve got a few things planned and I’m honestly just so excited to be in this city. Look out for that blog post. 

5. Visit the Houses of Parliament.

I have visited Parliament twice now – once as part of my work experience with Fairtrade and then again a few weeks later on a trip with my college. I love this building – it’s incredible despite the fact that it’s falling part somewhat. At some point I would like to have a proper tour and let the full history/politics nerd in me loose. 

6. Visit Amsterdam.

Not in my plans yet but you never know. 

7. Achieve my target A Level grades.

My exams are now officially complete (as of mid-June), so now it’s just a waiting game until results day. I think I’m feeling quietly confident. I need ABB so keep your fingers crossed for me!

8. Visit at least 3 historical palaces/houses. E.g. finish going around Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, etc.

None of these have happened yet, but I still have some time (although I may only do one or two).

9. Pass my driving test.

Lots of people have been nagging me to get on with this one but for some reason I just don’t want to do it. I don’t know why, I just don’t feel the need to drive. 

10. Go back to Nice.

I haven’t yet, but this one that I would still love to do! I’ve seen some cheap flights there from where I want to go to uni, so hopefully that’ll be a good way for me to visit. 

11. See a Shakespeare play performed at the Globe.

Sadly, no. That’s something I might try to do this summer though…

12. Go to Hay-on-Wye

This festival is the epitome of what I love (books and people talking about books) and somehow I still haven’t gone! It’s always been at the wrong time of year aka exam season. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get to go next year, as I’ll probably have finished my first year of uni by then (that sounds weird to say) or at least have more flexibility.

13. Go to a Disneyland.

Ugh I want to go so badly. My brother and I have hinted not so subtly that we’d love to go on a family holiday to Disneyland Paris, but if that doesn’t happen then we can try and get something sorted. 

14. Visit Stockholm.

Again, this hasn’t happened. When it comes to travel, there are obviously some financial constraints so a short trip to this city is probably what’s most likely going to happen. ABBA museum anyone????

15. Go to a festival.

I went to Common People in Southampton last year, and as much as I enjoyed it an being with my friends, I don’t think that on the whole they’re for me. 

16. See Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage.

As much as I would still like to see this play, it’s not really a priority for me. If I manage to get tickets, great, but I won’t be too bothered otherwise, due to my opinion of the quality of the script. You can see that review here.

17. See McFly live.

I have no idea when this is going to happen as they haven’t been on tour since their 2016 Anthology tour. Whenever they do go on tour again, you can be sure that I’ll be doing all I can do be there, but somehow I doubt that’ll happen before I’m 20.

18. Go to a blogger event.

I have had one or two opportunities lately, but the timings have been wrong (specifically one that was on my one day off in between 2 A Level exams in London – WHY UNIVERSE). But, hopefully I’ll be able to do something in the next year or so. 

19. Visit Kew Gardens and find my great great aunt's memorial bench.

This is another one I haven’t done, but it’s something that could easily be done of a day or a weekend in London. 

20. Buy my own car.

Ha! Seeing as I haven’t even started driving yet, then I doubt that I’m going to buy a car soon. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s kind of unlikely that I’m going to own a car, and I may only do so if I find driving crucial to my life, which I don’t see it being as I hope to live in London or other cities. It’s not a priority or anything that I would even consider for a long time now. 

Here’s to the next year and a bit!

If you liked this post you might like: 20 Things Before 20

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Vegan What I Eat in a Day | Exam Season

Monday 18 June 2018

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I officially finished my A Levels on Thursday! *happy dances everywhere possible* During my actual exam period, I had a very specific structure (maybe even more so than with my average college day) and that helped me a lot with my focus and keep my cool. Food is something that helps keep my mind at balance and my mind more steady and it's something I love to do. I definitely want to start talking more about my love of food on my blog so keep your eyes peeled for some vegan goodness!

Lately, my go-to breakfast has been porridge. I haven't really been a fan of porridge but I tried it again a little bit before exams and now I'm obsessed (I do microwave it because I really can't be arsed to do it properly, but I should do now that I have more time). I add whatever fruit we have in the fridge (usually raspberries and strawberries because the time of year, especially as we have some growing in our garden) and some nuts (pistachios are my fave but any other are acceptable). I love the different flavours and it makes me feel really healthy until I drown it in maple syrup.

A lot of the time during college I would skip having a drink until later on in the day, which isn't great for my hydration. During exams, though, I made sure I had a cup of tea every day (using soya milk) and stayed hydrated throughout the day.  Staying hydrated is definitely something I'm trying to improve on.

I like bringing my own food out for lunch with me most of the time - whether it's leftovers or a meal that I've easily prepped the nice before. At the beginning of the week I made a batch of chilli and had that for lunches with come couscous. The recipe is really simple - warm some chopped tomatoes, add in garlic and onion and then add in the beans and other veggies. I basically shove in whatever veg that needs using up so my chillies will often change around.

I am one of those snacking people. I know it's not good for my wallet or my health (let's be honest here), but I just love eating. I am trying to stop eating for the sake of eating, because I will find myself reaching for anything just when I get bored and that's a habit I want to curb slightly, but during exam season all efforts on that front went out of the window. I don't know what it is about exams, but boy do they make me hungry. I stocked up with a pack of these graze flapjacks before my exams started. They're really yummy, have some nutritional value (anyone who is vegan/veggie will know all bout the constant questions regarding our protein intake), and despite the fact that they are individually wrapped in plastic, these were great for exams as I could put one in my bag and have it straight afterwards or as soon as I got home and kept me going a bit longer. I think I will try and make my own version of these so that I can remove the plastic waste and spend a bit less money.

These are quick and easy from Tesco. I had them in burger buns, some salad and ketchup. Job done.

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May 2018 | Monthly Wrap Up

Friday 1 June 2018

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May has been stressful.

Favourite part?

Okay, so I don’t think I can talk about this month without mentioning one particular event:

So, yeah, I had 12 inches of my hair cut off! It’s so cool, but I do still miss my long hair every now and again. This is the shortest I’ve had in a long time, maybe even ever, so it’s very different from what I’m used to and has given me a lot of confidence – something that’s especially needed the buildup to exams. I feel like I could be Lady Mary or Daisy Buchanan or even Twiggy if I did my makeup right. I donated my hair to the Little Princess Trust, so hopefully now it’s in the process of being made into a pretty wig!

I have spent a lot of time with my friends this month and I couldn’t be more grateful for them.

Best read?

Within the first day of May I read Mary I: The Daughter of Time by John Edwards as a more chill means of revising for my Tudor exam. Mary is one of my favourite Tudor monarchs – I find her really interesting. This has given me a good impression of the Penguin Monarchs collection and I think I’ll probably work my way through some more. 

I then read Men Explain Things to Me: and Other Essays by Rebecca Solnit, the essay that effectively sparked the coining of the turn ‘mansplaining.’ It was relatable and accessible and would recommend.

Next, I read Deeds Not Words: The Story of Women’s Rights – Then and Now by Helen Pankhurst. I heard Pankhurst speak at a women’s march I went on last year and she was great. Her writing was just as articulate and knowledgeable and I loved the wway she interwove analysiss of 1918 and 2018 sometimes in the same sentences.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie looks like a very cute little book from the outside, but it is packed with quality in its small passage. Everyone should read this, just as everyone should be feminists.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz was next in line and I loved it. I thought it was so sweet. Basically a romcom as a book, and we know I have a soft spot for a good romcom.

Then, I read No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein, a book I’ve been meaning to read basically since it came out. Klein discusses the cause of Trump’s election, as well as the impact of ‘shock’ politics and ways to create a more equal world, and emphasizing causes of issues that I wouldn’t necessarily have connected (such as the impact of war and climate change).

Overall, I’m quite proud of what I’ve read this month, especially with the amount of time I’ve had to dedicate to revision.

Favourite tunes?

Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper and Spotify’s Summer Acoustic playlist for revising.

What did I learn?

That I need to not have a complete work no-fun attitude. I think I’ve learned how to relax a bit more around exams – and that I need to have some down time with my friends. Because otherwise, I will absolutely lose my mind (Thanks guys for keeping me sane).

What’s happening next month?

The first half of June is focused entirely on exams. I’m not even going to try to organize anything else around that time because I know it will only stress me out even more.

The latter half of the month is going to be very very different, however. I have a week off to party and work then I’m going to Ireland for a few days with some of my best friends. I can’t wait for it.

What’s been on my mind?

Exams. When this goes up, I’ll only be a week away from my exams starting, and whenever I say something like that I begin to feel myself panic and I have to stop thinking about it. Oh my god. It feels so surreal and I just can’t wait for them to be over. Thanks for the stress Michael Gove. 

Favourite blogger/vlogger?

Screen Prism – I love their new videos, especially the Avengers ones. 

Hannah Witton has also had some great videos and blog posts this month, with varying topics (you go girl!). 

Some vegan/sustainability vloggers I’ve been loving this month are: Rachel Ama (she’s a very new discovery for me, her and her friends crack me up and she gives some good advice, especially in regards to cheap recipes), Madeleine Olivia and Sustainably Vegan (who’s download looks amazing – I’ve got it to look at when I have a spare moment). 

Favourite post?

I think I’m going to skip this one out since I haven’t had any new posts since my last Monthly Wrap Up. Keep your eyes peeled for plenty of posts over the summer though!

Biggest inspiration?

The weather this month has made me feel so much better. I know it probably seems a bit ridiculous putting weather down as my ‘inspiration’ but the sun has honestly made me so much more productive.

Any other favourites?

I feel like I’ve kind of cracked vegan baking this month. I’ve been baking A LOT. Not tjat my friends or family have been complaining at all. I’ve made everything from scones, chocolate cake to treacle tart. It relaxes me so much (and so does actuslly eating the food – yay stress eating!) so I would highly recommend to anyone doing exams to take out the apron and get baking. 

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

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