The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Banana Pinching and Prayer

This weekend I spent my time on my church's 'Student Weekend Away' or 'Church Camp' as I like to call it, because I'm super cool and it winds people up. We stayed at a place called Ashburnham, about a 15 minute drive from BATTLE STATION (it's just a train station really but I couldn't resist) and had a fun filled weekend full of teaching, laughs and lots of tasty food. As it was a Jesusy trip, we didn't do too much exploring, except for a lovely afternoon walk in the grounds, which consists of lots of beautiful woodland and a pretty church.

Some of the beauts I had the privilege of spending the weekend with.

Who'd have thought we'd find a church at a Christian retreat centre?! Clearly not Joe and Gordon...

Ashburnham is so removed the the madness of London and creates so much space for relaxing and soul-searching. Plus there was no signal and the WiFi didn't really work so we literally had no distractions from reality, which in itself was pretty liberating. It was everything I usually love about camping, with slightly more warmth (as we were inside) and properly cooked food (rather than my specialty of cold beans from a can). This also lead to us having to provide our own forms of entertainment that didn't involve the internet.

These consisted of but were not limited to...
  • The most epic game of Chinese Snap that has ever been played. I kid you not, it was so epic that we all had to lie on the floor on our stomachs, shoulder to shoulder and lunge towards the pile of cards in the middle as they were at least an arms width away. And with all those people playing, guess what? I was STILL losing. *Not recommended for those with sharp finger nails or claustrophobia*

  • Learning how to pinch a banana open. Sounds trivial but is actually one of my proudest achievements. Apparently it's how the monkey's do it AND you don't end up with a mushy end-of-banana. 

  • And this, which for some reason was hilarious at the time. I think it might be a 'had to be there' moment but it'll make a few people giggle so I'll post it anyway.

Oh and I also learned that the key to making new friends is making an abundance of cookies and cakes to share.

Silliness aside, the weekend was a bit of a self discovery one for me. I mean, the past year and a bit has been that, but for some reason this weekend in particular really got some things straight for me. Whatever ever you believe - call it the Holy Spirit, call it simply gaining perspective - the overriding message on my heart the entire time was, 'no more hiding'. Which funnily enough ties into the Identity Thief series Josie and I have been writing recently. For me, the experiment taught me a lot about how I shouldn't be so obsessed with hiding my body from the world and this weekend I got to reflect on the aspects of myself, aside from my appearance, that I was insecure about or felt I should conceal.

Because really, why shouldn't your attitude to your personality be the same as to your body? You are who you are, warts and all, and no matter what people may lead you to believe nobody is all shiny and perfect. The only reason we are ashamed and compare ourselves to other people is because, like us, they are hiding all the stuff that makes them seem less perfect. There is no shame in being who you are, whether that be alcoholic, anorexic, believer, atheist, depressed, insecure and whatever else you can think of. Sometimes it can be really hard in today's 'liberal' society to be yourself, when there are so many expectations for everyone to be a certain way and act a certain way and dress a certain way. But why should we hide the negative aspects or those that others may deem negative, when it may be an inherent part of our being? Whether your secret makes who you are or hinders who you want to be, hiding it stops any use you may gain from it or help you may need to overcome it.

So I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't hide certain parts of my being any longer. And surprisingly, as soon as I opened up about things to people... absolutely nothing changed. Or at least not in the way I expected them to. Things that I had been terrified to admit because I assumed I would be looked down upon or treated like a crazy person for, were accepted and I felt an overwhelming peace and relief. It even seemed to have a kind of domino effect, in that because I'd opened up about things, others did too and I discovered that I am not so different to everyone else. 'It's not the emotions that you have, but the secrecy that will kill you', is a message that one of our student leaders felt that God had said to him, which holds so much truth because keeping something bottled up for so long causes you to create catastrophes in your head out of things that really aren't so bad.

Of course, you don't have to shout about your deepest darkest secrets to every Tom, Dick and Harry that will listen, but when you share things with those you trust, the hold they previously had on your soul just melts away. I realise I'm kinda reiterating the old, 'A problem shared is a problem halved' saying, but it really is true. I feel so much more free now I know I don't have to hide part of myself from those I love. For those who aren't so keen on the Bible, 'honesty is the best policy', or as it says in John 8:32, 'The truth will set you free'.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

What will survive of us is love

For some reason my post 'Do what you want and fuck the rest' has taken off in popularity far above anything else I've ever written. I can only assume that in my rather miserable place of ranting, I've struck the same nerve with some people that had been struck in myself that same day.

'You know what? Fuck beauty contests. Life is one fucking beauty contest after another. School, then college, then work... Fuck that. And fuck the Air Force Academy. If I want to fly, I'll find a way to fly. You do what you love, and fuck the rest.' - Dwayne, Little Miss Sunshine

I actually re-watched Little Miss Sunshine yesterday - a movie I'd highly recommend to anyone and everyone - which is what spurred me to reread the post that had been inspired by it. Whilst I can't deny that I still agree with the vast majority of what I wrote, there is one particular thing that I'd like to clear up.

Love is everything to me. Ev-ry-thing. I love everyone I've ever met and never met and it's even listed as my religion on Facebook (so you know it's legit). I feel that last time, as I was a little upset due to one of those complicated, I-can't-be-bothered-explaining relationship-things, I belittled love. To me, love makes the world go round, it's in the air, in the whisper of the trees and it can definitely put you on top of the world. It's the most important thing in the whole entire universe and YET, I stand by what I said; it isn't all that you need.

In an ideal world, it would be. Everyone would love one another so fiercely that we wouldn't have to worry about the unequal distribution of the world's resources or the hurtful words that sparred between two friends. But as humans we are not ideal or perfect, so we get love wrong time and time again. We hurt those who mean the most to us and unfortunately, our love will probably always be inadequate for it to be 'all we need'.

Which is why I believe that we should chase what makes us truly happy. I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, encourage mindless hedonism or complete disregard and lack of respect for others. As I said last time, I agree with good ol' Albert that 'only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile', but we must be careful not to forget to look after ourselves in the process. Burning yourself out for others is, whilst admirable, pretty counterproductive in the long run, as you are no use to anybody completely exhausted, stressed out and hysterical because you just can't cope. So breathe, take a step back and always make some 'you' time. Whether that be a night out with the girls or some alone time knitting in your bedroom (surely that's not just me) you need time to be yourself, in order for you to be the best you can be for others. And honestly, don't they deserve your best?

What I'm trying to say is, don't disregard the importance of human love just because it isn't the only practical thing we need in life. Love the hell out of everyone you meet because, regardless of background, race, religious beliefs, sexuality, gender and anything else you can think of, as humans - sorry to bring High School Musical into this - we ARE all in this together whether we like it or not. Just don't ruin yourself in the process. You are far too precious and beautiful for that. You have to love yourself and your own life in order to show others how to do the same and that comes from pursuing your own personal well-being and happiness.

I'm also going to add this link to a friend's blog as I think it compliments, sums up and is probably an improvement on what I'm trying to say about what love means. Enjoy Bright Lights and Loneliness.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Identity Thief, Emily's Story

Since posting the video I've had all sorts of feedback and questions on how our experiment went and what the subsequent results have been. Whilst the comments have been mostly positive, I've also received some concern about the last part of the video where I say, 'I may be less inclined to wear things like this' referring to my dungarees. I realise that without context that could appear as though the experiment has taught me to shy away from what is naturally my own style, due to the reactions to what I was wearing or due to the various 'tramp' related comments Josie received when wearing my clothes. So I thought I'd better start by clearing that up.

First of all, I am not, by ANY means, getting rid of my dungarees. They are my favourite item of clothing by a long shot and nothing will ever compare to their super comfiness. However, as I mentioned in the first post, I have some serious issues when it comes to my body shape and how I perceive myself. This stems wayyyyyyyyyyy back to my childhood, when in Primary School I was going through the awkward, slightly chubby, puppy fat stage.

This is what my friends say I used to look like. I now cry with laughter every time I see this.

Unfortunately like many other children I suffered a severe, though short lived, stint of bullying around the age of 10/11. Although I was on the slightly larger side (though how much that was true is difficult to tell), I still wanted to fit in with my skinny, mini friends at school so I'd always do the classic school girl skirt rolling up and cool sock thing - which looking back was actually really bizarre. Whilst none of my friends would bat an eye-lid, almost everyday when I said goodbye to group I meandered home with and walked the last five minutes by myself, a group of girls from the neighbouring 'rival' school would chase me home shouting obscenities at me and their favourite, 'fat slut', still resounds with me today. I'm not sure how many people I ever told about this as I was, and probably still am, a proud little lady and didn't like people to think that they could get the better of me. So for a few weeks I would take it on the chin, ignoring everything and anything these four girls would throw at me until it finally fizzled out; I can only assume they got bored due to my lack of reaction. I even eventually befriended one of them a few years later at a drama club I attended, though she either chose to pretend or genuinely couldn't remember what she had done.

When I went on to high school the following year, I lost a lot of weight. It almost didn't seem like a conscious decision at first, I just stopped eating as much. Then I'd eat as little as I could get away with and began to feel guilty if I didn't feel hungry. A few times I got so hungry I binged like crazy then made myself throw it all back up again. Luckily, by some miraculous means, I managed to get through all this without telling a soul. I didn't want people to think I had an eating disorder or worry about me. The fact was I was 'fat' and needed to lose weight, but unfortunately I was totally uneducated in how to do that in a healthy manner. I was also lucky that I somehow managed to take hold of the situation before it became too severe. Although I was pretty tiny, (I remember a science class when I was 14 where I weighed in at 6.5 stone (42kg) and a pair of jeans I had when I was in year 5 were to big for me by year 9) I was never dangerously underweight and as I gained more confidence I started to care less about what people thought.

This is me at my first festival just before my 14th birthday rocking my classic, men's extra large black hoody.

Sadly, the repercussions from 10 years ago still haven't quite left me. Although I care less about what people think of my style and personality, I am still and will probably always be, terrified of being 'fat' or 'slutty', which is why I dress like a do. I'm the kind of person who dresses depending on how I'm feeling. I either pick colours that reflect my mood or garments that reflect my level of self esteem. For example, if I'm feeling sad I'll pick dark colours or if I'm particularly excited I'll go all multi-coloured or if I'm having a 'pretty day' I'll wear something girly or if I'm having a 'fat day' I'll wear something loose fitting and comfy so I don't have to feel self conscious about myself etc etc etc. Although my clothes are without a doubt an expression of my personality, it annoys me how they are also slightly determined by insults a received from some misguided children over a decade ago.

So, to get to the point, I am not saying I would be less inclined to wear my dungarees because I don't like them. It's just that by wearing something that made me feel pretty much naked and incredibly self-conscious for the day and receiving only positive comments, I've realised that maybe I shouldn't be as ashamed of my body as I am. Of course my friends have always been lovely to me, trying to build me up and telling me that the amount I care about other people's opinions is stupid, but seeing not only the reactions to what I was wearing but also to my clothes on somebody else's body really highlighted for me the ridiculous lengths I sometimes go to just to hide what my body really looks like. I should be wearing my clothes for me, not because I'm scared somebody else won't like what they see.

Another question/comment that I've received a lot is, 'Why don't you wear make-up?' and, 'I didn't realise you didn't wear make-up, that's so strange'. Now I just want to make it clear that I'm not a raving, bra-burning, man-hating feminist (though if you are, each to their own, I'm not one to judge). I simply don't wear make-up because I don't like it. That's genuinely it. It makes my face feel heavy and it gives me spots and more often than not I have allergic reactions that make eyes swell so much that I look like a bull frog on steroids. I'm partial to a little now and then for a special occasion or just coz I fancy it, but other than that I really just don't have any interest in it.

Me (right) with make-up.

Me without make-up. I'll let you guess which side.
I can't really see much difference, hence me not seeing the point in it. Maybe I'm just blind?

Also why is not wearing make-up considered strange? Most men do it everyday. Which is another thing I don't get: why aren't men 'allowed' to wear make-up? Like I don't see how it HAS to be a particularly 'girly' thing (whatever 'girly' is, but let's not get into that right now). Surely you're mainly just covering up blemishes on your face and then adding a bit of colour and sparkle if you fancy it? I think it's silly how women are just expected to wear make-up because of our gender and if we don't do it it's like we're trying to make some statement to the world about our views on society. Well I'm not, I just think it feels yucky. So there.

On the day of the experiment I also got a lot of interesting reactions that I didn't get to record. I had a really interesting conversation with one friend in particular about whether how you dress defines your identity. He talked about how for example, my having dreads and a slightly alternative dress sense doesn't define who I am, rather it is more a cherry on top of the 'Emily' cake. Basically, it's a form of self expression rather than something that defines what your personality should be. Although some of my friends noticed my new look, it didn't change the way they acted with me, just like Josie and I didn't notice how different our styles were until we swapped. Don't let people define you because of the way you dress or do your hair or whatever else you do to decorate your body because at the end of the day, once they get to know you it really doesn't make a difference. If people were all the same how boring would that be?

Any other feedback has mostly been that people thought our experiment was interesting and they can't wait to read more, which is always lovely to hear. So thanks for that, we didn't expect something that was originally 'for the LOLs' to get so much attention :) If you have anymore questions you'd like us to answer then please don't hesitate to send them on. Josie will be writing more about her experiences in due course!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Identity Thief, The Vlog

This is the video result of our identity experiment (see previous post!) We'll be writing more about it in due course!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Identity Thief

In the past few weeks, a lot has changed in my life for the better. One of those things being moving into my new house with four wonderful girlies who are just plain amazing. However, a couple of us have been feeling quite self-conscious and lonely with the holiday season approaching and the phrase 'forever alone' has been thrown around a little too much. Josie and I (below) have been feeling particularly image conscious. Josie has found herself a bit too concerned about what other people think of her and I have always had issues with exposing my body as I have never been particularly confident with my figure. We decided we needed to do something to tackle these problems and THUS our ingenious experiment was born... Operation Identity Thief.

For today, we have decided to swap styles - not just clothing, but shoes, make up and jewellery too. Doesn't seem like such a big challenge however, our styles contrast slightly...

See? Lovely and comfy in our own outfit choices before the switch.

Perhaps I'm imagining it because I know how I felt, but I think we look significantly less comfortable here.

Josie is spending the day sporting my lovely, roomy dungarees, avengers tank top, men's medium sized checkered shirt and my Docs. Oh and she isn't allowed to wear any make-up. Where as I am in a Josie classic of leggings, a skin tight black long sleeved top, panda blazer, knee high robin hood boots and a full face of slap, red lippy and all.

We've now spent an entire day at uni in each others clothes, which has sparked some interesting conversations and reactions, as well as reflections on our part. We'll be sharing our thoughts on the experiment, as well as those of our friends, in the next week as we explore how our clothing effects how we identify ourselves and how we are viewed by others. Who do we really dress for and why do we make the outfit choices we make? I'm finding it all quite fascinating myself.

Tonight we're venturing into Winter Wonderland to brave our new looks in public. Wish us luck...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A Pyjama Party and Muddy Shoes

A week and a half later and I am finally getting around to sharing my weekend in Exeter with you guys... Sorry about that! I think I've mentioned in another post how I'm kind of moving house at the moment and therefore living in a limbo between various places, meaning I haven't had access to my laptop :( But it's slowly getting sorted, so hopefully I can get back on track with my posts in the near future!

I had a LOVELY weekend in Exeter with my amazing friend Louis, who is quite literally me in male form. Except I move at a much speedier pace and he doesn't like chocolate dessert?! -  I know, I questioned the friendship at that point too, it was difficult for me to take in. We did lots of exciting things and I spent almost the entire timing laughing myself a six pack and teaching him how to be a country boy.

As I arrived before he finished uni I spent most of my afternoon exploring the town and failing to resist book shopping. The cathedral is gorgeous however I refuse to ever pay any money to go inside a religious building, so I didn't get to see the interior. £4 seems a little steep to chat to God when you can just do it wherever you like anyway. I'm not sure of my stance on whether putting God in a 'house' is the right thing to do in the first place as the Bible says it's a no-no, but then people do need somewhere to gather and feel safe. Which is why it really ticks me off as churches are supposed to be a place of refuge for those in need and if those with little or no money can't go in then that totally defies the point of even having a church building in the first place. I don't care if you need money for the up-keep of the church, if the church isn't being used for the proper purpose what on earth does it matter if it looks all pretty inside anyway? I could go on, but I think you get the point.

ANYWAY I met Louis for a drink in a pub called 'The Old Firehouse' which apparently is the place that J. K. Rowling based the Leaky Cauldron on in the Harry Potter series, which as a Potterhead I was rather excited about. It was a lovely place too, with a proper inviting and warm English pub feel, which counts for a lot on rainy English autumn days. Seeing as we're super classy we then decided to get a Tesco take-away curry for two for dinner, before settling down for the night by playing drinking games with his flat mates, which eventually turned into a bit of a pyjama party with choreographed dance routines and some drinking a little more than their stomachs could handle. All in all, a great night with some awesome people! Just goes to show that you can still meet great people even if you don't go off and stay in a hostel and do the traditional travelling thing.

On the Saturday Louis and I decided to become wilderness explorers and venture out into the Exeter countryside, with no plan of where to go, no map and no provisions, because we are super smart and organised. Within about 30 minutes we'd wandered off into some field (public footpath my arse) and begun a bit of an adventure I'd like to entitle 'How the hell do we get out of here?'. Luckily I'm used to this sort of thing as where I grew up there are loads of fields and farm land so I'm not stranger to being chased by sheep or accidentally trespassing on private land. Louis however, is a massive city boy and began to panic a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittle bit, when we managed to get stuck in some private field. And then when we eventually found the road, there was no footpath. Which Louis didn't like so he began reminiscing about his beloved 'safe' underground in London... *SIGH* ;)

Louis LOVES the outdoors. It's funny coz he actually does. He just doesn't like the prospect of getting his shoes muddy...

Beautiful view of the Devon countryside. I always think that the beauty of the English landscape is understated. I mean this is beautiful and the picture doesn't even do the real thing justice.

This is the field we were 'lost' in and tried to find an escape route from, only to discover it was surrounded by a barbed wire fence.

So after our ridiculous adventure (after which we found out if we'd stuck to the road we could have covered the distance we walked in two hours in just 20 minutes...) we were cold and wet and tired, so we went to grab some comfort food at the student bar, which is AMAZING. Seriously, Exeter student union is incredible, I've never seen anything like it! I do sometimes wish I'd chosen to go to a campus uni or one that isn't based in the middle of a busy city. It was really nice to be surrounded by nature and not feel the pressure to rush anywhere or to have to do a million things at once. City life kind of sets you up with that mentality. Though if I was in the country I'd probably be complaining that I was bored and had nothing to do, so really I can't say London is all bad.

In the evening we joined the rest of the gang and went to watch his flat mate Laura in a short play put on by, I assume, the drama society. It was actually really nice to see original plays performed by students (and I think written by students), as I don't know if we have something like that at my university or not. I think there's something beautiful about seeing a brand new character portrayed by the first time by an actor who has made it their own, rather than basing it on a previous portrayal of a character we've seen 100s of times before. The performances as a consequence were raw and oozed sincerity, something that creates an undeniable connection with the audience. Needless to say, I really enjoyed it and would love to see more of that kind of thing on my home turf.

And that pretty much sums up my short but sweet stay in Exeter. I met some amazing people and as always had some brand new experiences. I'd recommend to anyone to visit the city not only because the surroundings are breath-taking but the city itself is really something; quaint but with a lot to offer. I next get to see Louis at Christmas, hopefully with the rest of the Croatia gang, so I've got that to look forward to! I haven't yet planned my next UK trip but it's only 90p on the bus to Coventry so that looking like a likely candidate. If you have any suggestions on places to visit or things you'd like me to write about please let me know :)

Friday, 8 November 2013

En route to Exeter

I've just got on the bus to Exeter, where I'm heading for my second UK trip and visiting one of my super awesome travel friends, Louis. We met briefly in Zagreb this summer and have been in touch ever since. And last weekend I got to spend the entire time with the wonderful Mani who I met in Peru, again rather briefly. That's TWO of my favourites in one week, I am one lucky girly. It just goes to show you that making friends should be effortless if you really click with a person.

I think Exeter is possibly the most South I've ever been in England and if not, at least the furtherest way from my home town, which is pretty exciting. I'm not really sure what to expect from the weekend; I've heard it's a really beautiful city, so I'm going to use the couple of hours before Louis gets out of uni to do the touristy things. Apparently there's the standard castle and cathedral combo, so at least I'll have some sights to take pretty pictures of on my trusty disposables.

For now though, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the four hour stretch on the bus, with Taylor Swift for company. Don't judge, I'm not even ashamed.

Monday, 4 November 2013

More from Housedean Farm

Been a little rubbish posting these up because I haven't had a computer and I'm not a big fan of blogging from my phone.

19/10/2013, 5.37pm

It's been a busy day and my first day in my new walking boots so I can feel the blisters forming on my toes. It's been really nice to wander aimlessly in and out of charity shops, second hand book stores and antiques shops, with nothing for company accept my own thoughts.

After my rather damp walk on the pier and scrummy dinner of fish and chips, I went to find that building I'd spotted on my way into town, which turned out to be Brighton Pavalion and Museum, so I decided to explore all the free bits (obviously). There was an exhibition on Ancient Egypt, which is always a win for me and one on Brighton, which proved pretty interesting, though the fact that it was freezing outside probably aided my slightly too lengthy stay admiring Mr Henry Willett's extensive pottery collection, which he had generously donated to the gallery, being it's founded and all. OH and I almost forgot, I also walked around the main shopping part of town, somehow resisting my incredibly strong urges to buy everything. Pat on the back for Em.

Once back in Lewes I walked right the way down the main high street, accidentally snook into the Lewes Museum without paying - in my defence I simply strolled in past the ladies on the desk who didn't check if I had a ticket until I was leaving - explored the castle, learned about the Battle of Lewes, had a lovely walk around some really fancy gardens, took a peak inside the church and bought a head torch so I can actually write in my tent! Yay!

I'm not sure what to do with my evening, I don't yet feel tired but I feel it would be sensible to go back to my tent to check that it's all in one piece before setting out again...

Around 7pm (I don't have a watch and my phone has died, just know it's very dark and cold.)

So I'm back in my tent now, sporting my ultra trendy head torch and wondering why southern gravy tastes so weird. I went for tea (that's dinner to those who don't speak northern) at a carvery called Newmarket Inn on my way back from town and although the food was good, it cost twice the price it would be in Preston and was no better quality... But at least it was warm inside and I got to have a little chat with the manager who's from Hull.

Whilst waiting for the bus I walked past an antiques store where an old lady was playing with a cat, who decided to be terribly mischievous and clamber all over the antiques (the cat, not the lady), in turn knocking off some rather fancy looking crockery. It turns out the cat belonged to the shop owner, who got very mad at the old lady for 'provoking' the cat and tried to make her pay, but fortunately the old lady was having none of it and turned and ran off down the road, whilst I and various other bystanders stood around giggling. Much to our further amusement, the shop owner attempted to run after the old dear, failing miserably and on giving up stalked haughtily back inside her shop, slamming the door behind her. I think the two lessons to be learned here are 1) Don't bring your pet to work, especially when you own an antiques shop and 2) Don't underestimate the elderly, they can be speedier than they look.

I'm currently snuggling down under all my clothes and listening to the sound of the group who are camping at the bottom of the field, with a lovely, warm fire which I would kill to be beside right now. It's like 7.30 or something and I'm already ready for sleeping. What is life? It's taken a weekend away to remind me how much I miss my friends. I need to try harder to remind myself how lucky I am in that respect, in the madness of the city it's sometimes all too easy to forget.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Rainy Brighton


I'm currently sat in a cafe called 'Bella' near Brighton pier. It's raining like CRAZY but I've had a lovely morning pottering around and taking photos on my brand spanking new disposable cameras. I plan on heading back into Lewes in a bit as there seems to be a fair few sights for me to explore. First however, I'm going to have a stroll down to a nearby fancy looking building coz it looks kinda important so I want to find out what it is.

I think this trip is exactly what I needed, I already feel a lot more de-stressed and surprisingly fresh for having survived my first night in my new home. I slept pretty well considering I didn't have a ground sheet which made for a pretty chilly night, but as a proud Brit, it was nothing I couldn't handle. There's also a family than have now joined me in the field, who must have arrived rather late last night. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who is mad enough to camp at this time of year. It's just I love camping in the rain and although it's England, you can't always guarantee it in summer.

Fish and chips might just be the ultimate comfort food. I feel so sleepy now. Though I'm currently in that awkward limbo where you don't know if you have to go up and pay or whether they bring the bill to you... Every time I try and catch the waiter's eye he just looks at me funny... I hope he doesn't think I'm just hopelessly trying to flirt. On the plus side there's an old Take That video on the TV which is HILARIOUS... so of course, I'll share the fun with you all.

Last minute camping in Lewes

As I've tweeted this week, I'm going to 'live blog' my diary from last week's camping trip this weekend, because I was an idiot and didn't take my phone charger, so quickly became phone less and thus internetless. This also means I only have pictures to share from the first day of my trip for the time being, as the rest are on disposable cameras and are yet to be developed, so I'll try and keep the writing as interesting as possible!


I'm so glad I made the last minute decision to come away this weekend. It's nice to be alone for a while, to not have to put on any kind of front and have time for some inward reflection. Plus Lewes is a beautiful little town, with lots of cute shops and pubs full of locals.

I've set up camp at Housedean Farm and managed to successfully put up BY MYSELF for the first time ever without too much of a struggle (apparently reading the instructions is a BIG help). The campsite is lovely, just small and simple and tonight I get it all to myself :D It's super cheap too, only £9 per night including shower usage polite and the owner was particularly friendly, even when dealing with my multiple phone calls when I got lost en route... I can't wait to wake up in the morning surrounded by trees and grass and greenness!

My new baby ❤

View from my tent :D which I actually love despite the ominous looking clouds. A bit of rain can't hurt us Brits. 

I've spent my evening pottering around Lewes (a handy short bus ride from the campsite). I ate a scrummy dinner of mussels and chips followed by a incredible chocolate brownie and ice cream at a place called Bill's. I think it's a chain thing and perhaps a little pricey but I would highly recommend it for a treat now and then.


At the moment I'm sat in a pub called 'The Volunteer' where a band called 'Umbrella Men' is setting up as this evening's live entertainment. I haven't decided how long to stay for yet, I'm just very aware that I could miss the last bus and be stranded outside in the rain all night. Even if you think camping is mad at this time of year a tent is favourable to no roof over your head for the night!

This post was supposed to go up last night but for some reason my phone is being mischievous! Better late than never...

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Life Lessons

I've been somewhat lacking in inspiration recently, until I came across this post whilst scrolling through my tumblr feed in the early hours of this morning. I wish I could say I wrote this, but unfortunately I didn't, I just felt that sharing it might inspire some other people as it did me.

For my goddaughter.

Here’s what I’ve learned. 

Do not be afraid to let yourself feel. If someone breaks your heart, break that locket they gave you, the one with “S+E” engraved on it. Take 2, no, take 5 plates out of the cabinet and smash them, then stomp on the fine china until it looks like there was a mini blizzard in your kitchen. Do not be afraid to scream at the people who do you wrong, or the ones who do you right. If you feel it, show it. Nothing good will come out of keeping the fire inside, trust me. You will end up burning yourself to the ground, and you are not a forest fire. You are a hurricane. 

Make art. Cover the walls with it, hang it on the fridge and bathroom mirror so everyone has to look at it. Don’t let anyone ever tell you something you created is not good enough, everything you do will be good enough. Make art in the dead of winter, that’s when the world will need it the most. Make art in the bloom of summer, that’s when you will feel the love radiating from your fingertips. Just please, remember to create.

Travel. Any chance you get to see the world, take it. Even if it’s just a trip to Walmart  go. Get in the car, get on the bike, ride the skateboard, walk, run, it doesn't matter how you get there, just go. There is a deep rooted need in human beings to adventure. We are all born with a hole in our soul, sit still, ignore the beating of your heart and the sounds of your insides. Can you feel it, that hole? Good. Now let me tell you something about that hole, no other human can fill that hole, contrary to popular belief. No piece of clothing or cellphone will fill it. The only thing that will ever, ever fill that empty space is the unknown. So, get out there kid, see this beautiful world and all its forgotten nooks and crannies. You will never regret it, this I promise you.

Don’t ever think that you need another person to complete you. I can’t even begin to count the number of nights I wasted telling myself that all I needed was a lover, a shoulder to cry on, in order to be happy. The belief that we all have a “soul mate” is bullshit. It has taken me 18 years to realize that I have been my own soul mate all along, just as you are your own. So spend time with yourself, you’ll find she’s much more beautiful than you ever could have imagined. Take time to just be. Don’t always feel like you have to be doing something, sometimes the healthiest thing in the world is to let yourself go. 

Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. If there is one thing I can teach you it is this. Don’t let other people’s bitterness attach to you, like some sort of parasite. Always, always, smile at strangers. Hand out kind words like candy on Halloween. You will never be able to know what others are going through, remember that. 

Read. I would never be the person I am today if I hadn't fallen in love with books. On The Road taught me more about myself than any class ever did. Bukowski was the only person I had during some long, dark nights. Plath held my hand as I struggled with urges to end everything, and talked me back from my ledge. Looking for Alaska was like looking into my own soul and reading the small print. If anyone ever makes fun of you for reading, just wink, and kindly say “fuck you”, and turn the goddamn page.

School is not, nor will it ever be, the most important thing in your life. Do you know what the most important thing is? Keeping a hold of who you are. You are going to fail a test, I promise. But you are not going to fail life. When teachers hand you back tests with “F” sprawled in red ink, look them in the eyes, and say “Thank you very much.” Hold your head high when you don’t remember what the vocab means. Don’t let them get into your head, keep your true self guarded. You will already be smarter than them all if you do this.

If anyone ever makes you think you can’t do something because you’re a girl, do it. Ride a chopper, blow past all those assholes who laughed when you tried to talk to them about oil coolers and brake rotors. Get tattooed with portraits of Waylon, Johnny and Merle. Spit in the dirt then rub it under your eyes to show them all this life is a battle and you’re not here to fuck around. Run like a wild horse, howl like a wolf, fight like a lion. You’re going to meet so many boring people in this life, write them off. One day you’ll find your people. In the desert, on the highways, behind the tattoo shops, between graffiti filled walls. Oh, you’ll find them and you’ll know. 

Hit this world like the fiercest tornado but be gentle with the details. 

And carpe the hell out of your diems.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Proud Prestonian

'You can take the lass out of Lancashire, but you can't take the Lancashire out of the lass' - Every Lancastrian I've ever met ever.

As much as I love living in London, I can't deny that there are times that I miss my good old Northern heritage. No where else in the world can I refer to my evening meal as 'tea' without responses of ridicule or the hilarious joke "you can't EAT tea stupid", or say things like "flippin heckers" and "y'all reet" without even a single flutter of an eyelid. Plus there's the pies in Wigan and Formby 'beach' and the insane nights out in Leeds. The immense beauty of the Lake District and the lovely oldy worldy feel of York and Lancaster, not to mention the incredible music scene in Manchester and Sheffield. Plus we lay claim to the beautiful Geordie accent, as well as the slightly more controversial tones found only in Scouseland (I'm allowed to say that coz I'm half Scouse and proud). 

And of course, there is my gorgeous, heart-warmingly welcoming, beautiful haven; Preston. Which almost nobody down here has heard of. Unless it's the football team. Which is rather embarrassing. ESPECIALLY when we're home to the UK's first KFC. Now if you have heard of Preston or have even been lucky enough to pay it a visit, you might think that my description is perhaps, maybe, a slight over exaggeration. Which is probably is, but bear with me.

Although Preston (and other parts of the North) may not be the most glamorous of places, don't be so quick to judge on what hear'say might tell you. I know I've been known to joke about the insanely good transport links to help you escape from Preston (Europe's biggest bus station dudes, just saying) but despite the stereotypes, we don't all live in caves and yes we have in fact discovered the wheel and just because my accent might not make me sound as intelligent as someone who speaks the Queen's English, doesn't make the assumption true. I can't deny that the picture above does make me feel a little nostalgic for home, but it does leave out some of the key elements that make the North such a special place in my heart. 

For starters, it tries to represent the down to earth, grimy Northern scene as a bad thing. We're not necessarily grimy, we're just less fussy about the places we hang out. I'd like to point out at this point that I am speaking from my own experiences and in no way assume that all Londoners are the same, nor are Northerners. However since I came down to London, I have been to some shocking so-called classy bars, full of pretense and over-priced drinks, where I've had to wear heels and a tight dress to even be considered entry and boys have to pay £20 to get in whilst girls get off scott free. If that's not elitist sexism at it's finest then I don't know what is. Give me the shelter of Longton park on a rainy afternoon with my big warm over coat and 65p scallop barm any day. Or Warehouse where I can dance around like a loon in my trainers as unselfconsciously as I wish and regardless of gender the entry is just £2. And Southerners wonder why us Northerners have a certain depiction of this half of the country in our heads.

As I wrote earlier, I realise this isn't the case for everywhere/everyone in London/the South etc. Maybe I've just missed a trick by living in central London and there's actually some really cool places to go to where I don't have to open a vein in order to pay the entrance fee or become incredibly aware of my sexuality. Please please PLEASE do not hesitate to show me them, I would be eternally grateful.

Another aspect of the North that I really miss is the general openness of people to one another. As pointed out in the link at the top of this post, sparking up a conversation with a stranger on the bus is totally normal where I'm from, in fact I regularly smile and greet people in the street, regardless of whether or not I know them. And that doesn't mean I'm a little bit unhinged; it's socially acceptable and actually quite nice that strangers can be so friendly to one another. Where as if I so much as glance at a passerby in London I risk being torn limb from limb by the dreaded death stare. Lighten up people, not everyone who is pleasant to you without being paid to be so is a complete psycho.

Above all, Preston, Lancashire and the North are simply home. Although I travel all over the world and live at the opposite end of the country, I have never felt more at home than when I'm back in my familiar surroundings of Hurst Grange Park and Fishergate High Street, where Gregg's sausage rolls are 2 for £1 and I have to stop to say hi to someone every five minutes. Not forgetting of course, my Grandma's legendary cooking. Northern Pride may seem strange to some, though to me, being proud of hearty food, cheap beer and exceedingly warm locals is a bit of a no brainer.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Get Busy Living

The past week has been a bit of a blur. I'm now back at uni, though my classes don't start until the 30th, as I'm President of my university's German Society this year. It has been a fantastic week, I don't remember being this busy since I was in high school and I used to take on absolutely everything and anything I could get my hands on! Today is my first and only day off in the next couple of weeks, so I'm spending it relaxing and catching up with my flatmates from last year. Oh and of course gorging on Nando's lovely lovely chicken.

As much as I love the freedom of travelling, it's nice to have a little routine and grounding at the moment to get my head back into gear for my second year. I've had a society event/meeting/talk pretty much every day so far and I've surprised myself with how much I've loved having structure in my days. I find that sometimes the laid back (sometimes borderline lazy) attitude can actually become a little tiresome. Even when I'm travelling I love to plan things for each day and find if I spend too many days just chilling out I become irritable and start to inhabit characteristics one would associate with someone who has far too much on their plate. It's almost like I get tired of being lazy.

However I suppose once term starts and I have to forfeit sleep time for work time I'll look back at this post with my 'What was I thinking?!' expression and pray for the days when I could choose exactly how I wanted to spend my time. I suppose it's like anything else; having a balance between the hectic organised lifestyle and the chilled-out-do-what-you-want attitude is key. Plus it makes you appreciate each one a little more (I think my liver in particular would agree on this point).

Our first event of the week was Oktoberfest last Saturday night, at which I took it upon myself to cover everyone in German face paint and a fair few people ended up dancing on the tables. We held the event at Bierschenke, a German pub just off the Strand that is run by the wonderful Oliver. I suppose it's not a particularly great place for tourists that want to experience a traditional 'English' night out on visiting London, but to be fair, as London is one of the most international cities in the world, you could claim you are getting the true 'London' experience. Also it's a lot of fun especially for those who prefer a slightly more chilled out pub-like atmosphere to that of a sweaty, crowded club.

(instagram @kclgermansoc)

Table dancing to the live Oompah Band.

I had planned my first trip in the UK for this weekend, a short night or two stay in Bristol, purely because it's only a 2 hour drive and £4 ticket fee on the Megabus from London. However I managed to party myself into a coma (surprisingly not from alcohol but just plain exhaustion) on Wednesday night and managed to oversleep and miss my bus on Thursday morning. I do plan on starting my weekend trips soon though, though I reckon I'm less likely to miss them once I've settled back into uni life a little more. If you have any suggestions on where is nice to visit please let me know! I've visited pretty much no where in the South or East at all.

So after a rather crazy week I'm very much looking forward to having a few days off and the opportunity to get myself ready for starting back at uni on Monday. Somehow I think I've managed to have a busier Freshers this year than last year and my body isn't best pleased about it... I'm getting far too old for this :P

Monday, 16 September 2013

Failing At My Bucket List

I'm heading back to uni next week so I thought I'd do a little 'review of my summer' post for ya'll and myself, to see how I got on.

On rereading my 'Summer To-Do List' post I realise that I've actually not done a whole lot in the way of what I set out to do. But then sticking to the plan has never really been my thing I suppose.

Unfortunately I still don't know how to say that really long welsh town name, but I'll work on it I promise. Also I don't actually own any cinnamon/am a massive scaredy cat so haven't plucked up the courage to do the cinnamon challenge yet. Furthermore I've watched loads of films and read a fair few books but I don't think any are actually in the 'top 100'. Typical. Oh and I haven't bought any of my uni books yet and have done very little work on my language skills. Wowzers, even for me that is an impressively epic fail.

I realise I've been rather lax on the vlogging front too. I did say it was just an experiment, so maybe I'll pick it up again once I'm more established in London, since at the moment I'm backwards and forwards between there and Preston almost every week. I am currently working on a proper long one though, of all the bits and pieces from my travels that I filmed over summer, so I'll try and get that up here ASAP.

HOWEVER, I did manage to fulfil a few of my goals, the main one being on Friday night, by having my big 21st birthday party :) thanks again to all the wonderful people who made it so special. And yes it was Alice in Wonderland themed and yes I had my face painted. Got a problem with that?

With Dad and Grandad, the three generations of Storeys. Love love love :)

The fam. I love this picture although we all look kinda possessed. If anyone knows how to fix that I'd be extremely grateful!

As a birthday present my lovely older sister bought me two tickets to see Les Miserables in November on the West End!! So that's another rather exciting goal to tick off too :) I've also signed up for beginnners Arabic classes at uni this term - a birthday present to myself, yes I am a massive geek - have applied for the London Marathon (what is wrong with me?) and have started writing a some stuff that may or may not turn into a book... but that's super duper top secret for the time being ;)

I can't BELIEVE how fast the summer has gone and how much has happened to me... Time really does fly. Oooo and I should probably let you all know that I have also bought a tent and various bits of camping gear with my birthday money, so I can travel the UK at weekends. I figure that I haven't seen as much of my home as I would like to and there must be so many exciting places to explore!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

'Do what you love and fuck the rest'

I know I don't usually swear, but that quote didn't seem half as powerful when censored.

This morning I was on one of many trains I've had to catch in the past few weeks. Trains are probably my favourite mode of transport; for some reason I can really let my mind wander when staring out of the window watching the countryside whizz by. Sometimes I think about nothing in particular, doodle dream (my name for somewhere between a lucid dream and a daydream) and perhaps consider what I'm going to have for tea. Mostly though, I let my thoughts meander all over the place, tangling and untangling and creating pretty patterns inside my head until I can suss out what the hell is going on.

Today was one of the latter.

As you may have guessed from my posts over the last six months or so, I haven't been at my best. I've been pretty down for various reasons but it was only this morning that it really hit home that I can't carry on like this.

'Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile' - Albert Einstein

Now I am no advocate for inherent, thoughtless selfishness. In fact due to some intense Christian upbringing it's been drilled into my skull for my entire life to be as selfless as possible. But I've finally realised that although good old Albert was right, if no one EVER put themselves first the world would be a considerably more miserable place. Plus the quote doesn't go, 'Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile, even at the expense of neglecting yourself'.

These thoughts were sparked by a conversation that I had with a good friend not long ago, who was struggling to balance his time between everything he felt he had to do and was consequently not able to do what he wanted to do. When he was offloading to me, the comparison to my former self was uncanny. Never stopping, trying to please everybody, without pausing to consider what I really wanted. Seeing the situation as an outsider really made me reflect on my own priorities. 

Whilst I've slowed down a lot now, I'm still very much in the 'trying to keep everyone else happy' zone. And guess where I am? On the outside of the happy zone, running around the edges trying push people back if they begin to slide a little, totally exhausting myself and letting down the people I care about the most. 

The truth is, the people you care about the most are the ones that probably care about you the most. Meaning when they see you running around the happy circle like a madman, you're never going to be able to make them happy. And why? Because they just want YOU to be happy.

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it's all that matters' - Audrey Hepburn 

It can be difficult accepting that you can't be responsible for how everyone else feels. However, there is 0 doubt that you are responsible for you. I've learned that, despite how much I'd like it to be true, you can't rely on other people to make you happy. It isn't really fair on either party. To be happy deep down, like truly happy, you have to do what you love. Sometimes you're going to hurt people and let them down, but you know what? THAT'S OK. If life was just peachy all the time we'd never appreciate the good stuff.

Which is why I'm finding myself disagreeing with Paul, George, John and Ringo. Love ISN'T all you need. Some people are content in their solitude. Love just makes the ride a little sweeter. All you really need is happiness. I don't intend to waste anymore of my life on things that make me unhappy. Chase what you want, do what you love and fuck the rest.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

21 Reasons To Love Being Alive

Today is my TWENTY FIRST BIRTHDAY. Oh lordy that came round rather quickly. I don't know if I really feel all that different, but I think I prefer it to being 20. I'm not doing too much to celebrate today, just seeing some of my favourites and having a scrummy yummy curry for tea :D

Since today is a cause for celebration (for me at least, I'm not forcing you to join in) I thought I'd write something to celebrate life in general for all you lovelies who need something to brighten your day, or just add some sparkle to your already wonderful one! Please add your own at the bottom, you never can have too many :)

1. There's so much world to see

2. Chocolate

3.  Fancy dress parties

4. HUGE woolly scarves

5. That squiggly feeling you get when you kiss someone special.

(Hehehe Josh, sorry about this :P)

6. Live music

7. 'You had to be there' moments

8. The feeling of incredible achievement (/relief/exhaustion) on completing a difficult venture.

This was taken 97km in. I think this might be the closest to death I've ever been.

9. Lazy days

10. Holding hands

11. Who needs shoes?

12. Face paint

13. Dancing all night long

14. Having a family as mad as you are

15. The great outdoors

16. Simple things can be a lot of fun

17. Dreaming up seemingly impossible ventures and trying to see them through

18. Jumping into cold water on a really hot day

(Or in the case of this pic, on a really cold day. We're just hardcore.)

19. Things are still beautiful in the rain

20. Cuddles

21. Having the bestest friends in the entire world.

You see, growing up really doesn't have to be boring :)

Sunday, 1 September 2013

I *HEART* Lisboa

When I was telling people about the cruise and the destinations we'd be visiting, a comment that came up time and time again was 'Ah you're going to Lisbon?! It's supposed to be amazing!'. Seeing as very few people had actually been there, I was a little worried that it's brilliant reputation would be all talk and in fact it would just be another pretty, but relatively no-descript city. Luckily, I needn't have been concerned and Lisbon is now easily one of my favourite European cities, if not the best I've visited.

The city managed to be both simultaneously quaint and vast, with almost very street paved with intricate mosaics and the architecture similar to Madeira's, though somehow with less modernity. It seemed as though every detail of this great city had been carefully considered, giving it the cosy feel despite it's size. Everything seemed to shine as the sun bounced off the numerous white washed walls, reminiscent of the Peruvian city, Arequipa.

I'm such a tourist. But just look at the funky floor!


More mosaics on the main high street.

During our aimless traipsing around, we eventually found directions to the Cathedral, because let's face it, it's not really a holiday without a visit to one of God's houses, is it? The outside was pretty, more resembling a castle than a church. But to be honest, I have seen more spectacular constructions. The inside however, was pretty incredible, with an extremely ornate sacristy and beautiful stain glass windows. I'm not one for supporting the excesses of the church, but even I can't deny it was breathtaking.

Being arty with a candle. We got some rather disapproving looks from the church police for this, but I'd like to think that Jesus had a creative side too.

As usual the picture doesn't really do it justice.

I also loved the tram system in Lisbon. They all looked like the picture below, proper old school with none of the horrible modern updates. It really added to the feel and appeal of the city. There were also tuk-tuks like the ones in South-East Asia that I've heard so much about!

Of course we had to stop for a drinks break in such high temperatures and I was over-joyed to discover that they stocked Somersby Cider, which is the drink I practically lived off in Croatia. So I got all excited and ordered it for everyone to try, only to have Josh burst my bubble and tell me that they APPARENTLY sell it in England to. A special reward to the person who can tell me where.

Whilst sipping away we were also lucky enough to have a free show provided for us, in the form of a gypsy asking other customers for money and the HUUUUUGE waiter trying to get rid of him. It was all quite Carry On, with the little man attempting to fight back against the body builder, scrambling against the massive bulk of muscle, whilst the owner came outside with a baseball bat! Luckily he didn't need to get involved though. It was all rather bizarre.

It's safe to say that I'll be returning to Lisbon in the future, but for a few days next time so I can really explore and soak up the culture. Back to the ship for two more days now before arriving home!