Saturday, 16 July 2016

Speedy Selfie Outfit no.2

Today I've got another speedy selfie outfit for you! I've been after a tea dress for a while and got my hands on this adorable number last week in the Asos sale. It's such a cute vintage style and is very comfy and chuck-on-able. For £15 I couldn't say no! As it's very girly, I've been pairing it with my Zara biker jacket to give it a bit of an edge. I wore this same outfit to the pub last weekend, but swapped my pumps for pointed flats and buckled a western style belt around my waist... I felt feminine and snazzy. :) 

I even bought the exact same dress for one of my best friends, Kat. As soon as it came in the post, I knew she would love it, and as it's her birthday next month, I got right back on Asos and ordered one to her house too! She is equally as pleased with it and said she was going to wear it on her holiday to Berlin.

There's very limited sizes left in the sale in both tall and regular, so get your skates on! Although hopefully they'll get more stock in as it's been popular. :) 


Friday, 15 July 2016

How I'm using my Bullet Journal

I've enjoyed watching YouTube videos of Bullet Journal flip-throughs and page ideas for a few months now. But by the time I was interested, I already had my little 2016 diary. However, with Summer and more free time fast approaching, I decided to pick up a cute notebook when I saw it was reduced to £1.50 a month or so ago and give Bullet Journaling a go. I want to be productive this summer and not just sleep my days away, so I thought it was the perfect time to start one. 

Although I have watched the "proper" Bullet Journal videos by Ryder Carroll, I kinda do my own thing and just take inspiration from him and other "BuJo" vloggers/bloggers. I'm trying not to give myself too many rules and complicated keys etc. I can be quite a perfectionist and don't want to get all stressy about it. Actually, I think the whole bullet journal concept is good for people trying to chill with the perfectionism, as it's very flexible, and if something doesn't work out or you end up not using a page, you can just scrap it next month! It's a good way to keep in mind that not everything (or in this case, every page) has to be perfect. 

This is how I'm using it so far:

I started with a handy index as Carroll suggests. I made the mistake of writing every single page on the index to start with, and only taking one measly little page for it... whoops... Looks like it's going to fill up pretty soon! My plan is to only put pages such as "Blog Post Ideas", or "July 2016" on the index and leave out the hoards of weekly spreads from now on. I can always use a bookmark on the current week to help me find it fast. 

Next I have a future log for the following few months. I'm not sure if I'm using this all that effectively. So far I'm just jotting down things I know are going on that month and new things as I find out about them. If I was doing the whole task migration thing it would probably be more full... but I haven't done any of that (yet). 

I also include a calendar like page for each month in Carroll's style. To be honest I'm not too keen on the way this looks and I can't fit more than a couple of words in for each day. Maybe I'll try out a more traditional calendar style next month... I think you can see how it's all panning out better that way.

Lots of people who make bullet journal videos mentioned a "brain dump" page and I thought it sounded like good idea, so at the start of each month I make a "Big To Do List". I rack my brains and write everything down that I want to get done that, anything from buying someone a birthday present to  life admin stuff. If it doesn't get done that month, I write in on next month's list and hope it gets done then (haha)! I suppose if I decide mid-month that I'm going to do a task in the future, I could write it in my future log (and make better use of that section!).

My weekly spreads come next, although I have to admit that I haven't been very on-the-ball with it this week! Here I write down more specific lists for the day and include things to do with blogging and my part time job etc. I also added a little notes section which I find handy for reminders. 

I've been enjoying making miscellaneous list-type pages. It's nice that everything is all in one place and easy to access rather than scattered in random notebooks... and I do own rather a lot! 

As for decoration, I admire the effort some people put into the aesthetics of their journals, I just can't be doing with it myself! If start spending ages on doodles and fonts etc, I run the risk of getting into perfectionist mode and feeling pressure to make it look beautiful every month. I do want my journal to look pretty though and have been utilising easy stuff like washi tape, coloured pens and sticky notes to add a bit of fun. I might treat myself to a trip to Paperchase soon and get some stickers too... exciting. ;) 

As for the future with my bullet journal, I thinking of trying out some blog organisation and planning pages and some goal pages too (both blog and general life goals). I've seen other bloggers using their journals to track stats and habits and all sorts and I might give that a go as it looks pretty interesting! It's just so bloody flexible... you can do whatever you like with it! 

I've been enjoying using my bullet journal so far and I'm pleased that I'm keeping up with it reasonably well. I reckon I could do more with it though, so look out for an update post sometime soon! 

What kind of journal/diary do you use?


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

My Fair Skin and Me

For a lot of my life, I haven't been all that fond of my fair skin. I was embarrassed when kids at school asked me why I didn't look tanned after a holiday, and when a boy in maths told me I have the kind of skin that just goes pink. I thought that being bronzed and olive skinned was the ideal look... and I suppose that means that I thought being pale... wasn't. How silly. Even this year, one of my first thoughts when Tom and I booked our holiday to Corfu was, "I hope I get tanned." When I went to Spain years ago on a family holiday, I deliberately lay in direct sunlight and even demanded we bought measly factor 15 sun cream in hope that I would get more sun-kissed. I used to anxiously rush home from school to catch the last few hours of sun in an attempt to lessen the sneers of other children criticising my lack of melanin (children who probably didn't exist). Carefully checking in the mirror to see if I had any tan lines and even looking down while walking to dinner to see if my legs looked any more tanned in the evening light are fairly normal things for me. But it's all just such a waste of time and effort. 

I tried my best to just chill when it came to tanning in Corfu. I tried to not feel self-conscious of my light tan when standing next to a mahogany family in a bar, or worry about spending every bloody waking hour in the sun. To be fair to myself, despite my past sun-worshiping, I have always been very careful in the sun and slather on So. Much. Sun cream. Skin cancer really scares me and I hate getting burnt. Rather than forcing myself to lie in the sun for hours and get rather hot and bothered, I always lay under an umbrella whilst in boiling hot Corfu. I felt like I was getting enough sun exposure from swimming in the pool etc. I know that despite wearing lots of sun cream, bathing in direct sunlight in the past wasn't the best for my skin, so I'm happy that I was more careful this year. Plus, it's much more comfortable to read a book in shade than in unbearable, sweaty heat. 

But when we arrived back in Manchester and were waiting in a queue at the airport, I couldn't help feel kind of embarrassed at my little amount of bronzing compared with the scores of brown peeps surrounding me. I'm sure none of them were giggling to each other and slating my modest tan... but I felt self-conscious anyway... urghhhhh!! It's just so not worth it. Fair skin is beautiful!! I need to remind myself that. And I've actually never been someone who feels the need to fake tan before donning a skirt in England, so why was I feeling ashamed of my paleness?! Probably because people expect you to get a tan on holiday... but not everyone is made that way!

After being back on English soil for a couple of weeks now, I'm pleased to say that I've managed to remember that fair is beautiful and flaunt my light tan. I have tried my best not to care when people remark on my lack of bronzing and I've resisted the urge to fake tan... I can't be doing with streaks on my skin and marks on my sheets. Basically I'd rather have one less thing to worry about. I cba with stressing about whether people think I look tanned or not... it's just kinda silly. I have also accepted that with the crappy summer weather we're having here in England, I'm probably not going to be able to build upon my little tan... but OH WELL. I'm still gonna be whipping out the summer dresses and getting my legs on show (when we get some sun.. fingers crossed that we do!!) anyways. 

Have you seen that Own Your Tone campaign by Cancer Research? Well I think it's pretty great as it reminds me that my fair skin is already beautiful and that I don't need to damage it in order to look nice. Yes, being tanned is lovely and yay for you (not sarcasm!) if you go really brown... but you can defo still look like a summery goddess with pale pins. Just chuck on a cute floral dress and a sunhat, wrap a bloody floral vine thingy round your head, wear daisy chains on your fair wrists and ankles... go friggin' crazy baby. Your skin is beauts... no matter what that nasty boy said to you in year 8 maths. 

I kind of wrote this post for myself, as something I can reread when I'm feeling a bit insecure, but I hope it can help you guys too. :) 


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Speedy Selfie Outfit no.1

I'm a big lover of clothes and fashion and spending hours goggling over the style of other girls on Instagram... so it seems silly not to include some aspect of fashion on my blog. I thought I could simply post a couple of quick snaps of my outfit every now and then to share my wardrobe with you all. 

This outfit cost me peanuts as the majority of it - skirt, top and belt - is all from Primark. I'm sorry to admit that I used to be a bit of a Primark snob and didn't see the point of spending my money on clothes that I deemed to be awful quality. But after giving it a go, I can totally see what the hype is all about. Primark has some fab stuff - very on trend and very affordable. Plus I don't think the quality is bad at all. Both the skirt and top have been washed and rewashed several times and both are holding up pretty well. 

I feel like I'm channeling a bit of a cowgirl vibe in this outfit what with the denim and the western-y belt... and even with the roses for some reason! I've become very fond of sixties and mod style in the past couple of years, so an A line skirt is a staple in my wardrobe and I find them so useful. A cowgirl mod... fab haha. The shoes are my trusty Superga pumps and the necklace was a present that my parents kindly brought back from Sorrento for me a few weeks ago. It's Murano glass and is very funky. 

Despite liking this outfit a lot, I didn't actually leave the house on this day! But I defo find that getting dressed properly and enjoying what I'm wearing makes me more productive and just feel better about the day in general. 

Hold onto you hats... more speedy outfits will be coming your way soon :)


P.S. Soz about the dirty mirror... 

Monday, 4 July 2016

My First Waxing Experience!

For my holiday to Corfu, I decided that I just could not be arsed with shaving my legs. I couldn't be bothered with doing shower yoga everyday to remove stubble from my pins and adding a good few minutes onto my routine each day. Not to mention probably giving myself razor burn and cuts and rashes in the process... not when I'm on my hols, no siree. 

So I plucked up the courage and booked myself in for a wax. Having silky smooth, totally hair free legs for at least a couple of weeks sounded ideal, and I was actually kinda excited to have hot sticky wax smothered on my shins and have the satisfaction of watching my pesky hairs be violently ripped out... I hope that doesn't sound too weird! 

The Tuesday before my holiday (two days before takeoff) was the big day... wax day. To be honest, I was nervous. I didn't think I would be. I've always prided myself on having a pretty high pain tolerance, passed down from my grandmother - definitely not my mom, there is no way on earth that she would willingly have someone rip hairs out of her little leggies. What I found most nerve-wracking wasn't actually the prospect of pain however, but simply just stepping inside the shop. I know it was silly, but the perfectly preened ladies behind the desk intimidated me... Did I look like the type that goes for a wax?! Was my makeup okay?! Did I look a tad sweaty from my little walk to the salon from the bus?! All these silly and unnecessary thoughts prevented me from tentatively pushing open the shop door until the clock told me I really had to. Also, I was somewhat embarrassed about there being a busy coffee shop right next door... and the salon being on a very busy road in general. I felt like I was wearing a huge placard with I'M ABOUT TO GET MY HAIRY LEGS WAXED plastered on it. Not that there's anything wrong or embarrassing about having a wax (or hairy legs) in the slightest... But for some reason I couldn't help feeling kind of flustered and shy. 

Fortunately, I managed to enter the salon, tell the woman behind the desk my name and sit myself in the waiting area successfully. A few minutes later a pretty, cheery girl, only a year or two older than myself called my name and took me through to the back... There was no backing out at this point... and I felt ready. I was led into a little treatment room and basically told to strip off - well only my jeans (thankfully haha). 

The "therapist" (as they call them for some reason... can't say I found waxing therapeutic but hey-ho) got what looked like a massive lolly pop stick out and began to smear yellowy, sticky, warm wax onto my pins. It was definitely hotter than I expected. Bearable, but hot. Rather than doing it in little sections, my whole entire leg was coated in the stuff... wowzers. Next came the first strip... there really was absolutely no backing out now - I had a leg saturated with wax, and there was only one way to get it off... Rip! Ouch. Okay, I hurt. Again it was bearable, but defo no picnic. Next strip, rip, ouch. Net strip, rip, ouch. This went on and on, I couldn't help notice how bloody long my legs are haha! My therapist was lovely and made the whole experience ten times better than it could have been. We nattered the whole time - we got on like a house on fire! I didn't feel embarrassed or self-conscious. I kept in mind that the therapist sees countless various body parts every week. They've seen it all before...  so best not to overthink that part. 

One thing I didn't expect was quite how sweaty getting waxed can be... sorry if this is gross but this post is an honest one! The treatment room was very compact and my bottom half was coated in hot wax, couple this with the pain... and I'm not ashamed to admit that I had quite a sweat on. My therapist said this was totally normal, and that she thinks you haven't been for a good wax if you don't break out in a sweat! 

Although it was bearable, I was bloody glad when it was over. I was disappointed that there were quite a few hairs that had been stubborn and refused to come out. Maybe my legs weren't gonna be all that silky smooth after all. My therapist had warned me of this before she started however, so I wasn't angry or anything! Just a bit disappointed... all that pain and not even a hairless leg! I think she said it was because I don't wax regularly... or maybe some hairs weren't quite long enough... either way it didn't matter too much in the long run. The left over hairs were so light and fair that they were hardly noticeable.

I left the salon feeling slightly sticky and slimy thanks to the soothing gel stuff they slather on you at the end, but also feeling rather accomplished. I hadn't cried, or even whimpered. I'd been a trooper. 

One thing that I found interesting about the whole waxing experience was that it did me good to grow out my leg hair. I used to be so self-conscious about having dark hairs and felt like my legs never looked smooth even when I shaved them meticulously. Growing the hair out for a wax meant I had to deal with having hairy legs. And it really wasn't that bad. I realised that I'd over exaggerated how furry they were in my mind and that in reality, they are a pretty normal pair of pins that grow a pretty normal amount of hair. I'd also been a bit embarrassed about having hairy legs around Tom too, but he didn't mind, or if he did he kept it to himself anyway! He's a good egg. I also want to say that if you want to rock your hairy legs and say "screw you" to hair removal, good for you! Whether you go for a natural look or prefer to be hair-free, it's all good! :) 

My holiday has been and gone now and I defo have some regrowth. Although most of it is probably down to the fact that I did cave and  end up shaving the stubborn remaining hairs after a week or so. I'm crossing my fingers that I won't get dreaded ingrown hairs like I did when I epilated my legs a couple of years ago... they were a nightmare. I've been exfoliating and moisturizing lots, so hopefully that''ll help prevent those little bastards. 

So that's pretty much all I have to say on the topic. I'm glad that I went for the wax as it did  make it so much quicker to get ready on holiday and made me feel more confident in a bikini. I hope this helps any of you waxing newbies out there! 


Sunday, 3 July 2016

A Saturday Exploring Corfu Town

My boyfriend, Tom, and I just got back from our very first (and very successful) holiday together (a relationship milestone reached... go us haha!). We went to the beautiful Greek Ionian island of Corfu, and it was brilliant. We were very impressed with the island and how much there is to see and do. I'm pretty darn proud of how much stuff we managed to cram into our week away... waterpark-ing, boat tripping, pool days, town exploring, etc. We definitely did not let any precious holiday hours go to waste. 

We spent the Saturday in Corfu Town (Kerkyra), the capital city of the island. The city feels huge compared to the cute fishing village, Benitses, that we stayed in and the other quaint towns we had driven through. It's busy, full of shops, cafes, bars, endless winding streets, and is rich with history and lovely architecture.  

Much to my amusement, the first thing I spotted when hopping off the bus in the morning was... a wool shop. A shop selling wool in searing heat. What made this even funnier to me is the fact that my mother is a avid knitter who seeks out knitting shops like a lion hunting its prey... she would've bloody loved it. Anyway, we soon found a bar to have a beer in, and then I persuaded Tom to hit the shops! There were lots of boutiques selling pretty boho style clothes along with mazes of pretty, winding alleyways lined with gift shops. Tom very kindly treated me to a pretty, handmade flower ring that caught my eye... I've hardly taken it off since! I regret not getting my paws on one of the handmade tan leather bags. They had them in all sizes and in plenty of classic styles. They were't expensive either - oh why didn't I buy one?! Oh well... gives me an excuse to go back to Corfu! 

It turned out that there was a cruise ship stopping off in Kerkyra that day and we met a few lovely British couples and exchanged holiday small talk with them,.. Tom and I always make friends when we're out and about! Especially with middle aged couples for some reason haha!

After some lunch in a lovely little Venetian square with flowers trailing down from the tall buildings, we headed over to the Old Fortress. Now I feel obliged to admit that I explored the impressive site without knowing much about its history at all... how embarrassing. But I enjoyed it nonetheless, and a quick Google search has just given me some key facts... The Old Fortress is Venetian, was built in the early 15th Century and protected Corfu during several wars, sieges, battles etc. Seems that everybody wanted to claim Corfu for themselves - I can see why - it's gorgeous! 

Climbing to the top in the heat was one heck of a workout, but it was well worth it for the fab views. Tom rang his parents whilst we recovered from the climb and told them how much of a great time we were having. I rang my own parents many times during the week to fill them in on our adventures! I also asked Tom to take a snap of my outfit as I was diggin' it. Just Primark stripy shorts and a pretty cami that I picked up in the airport from Accessorize... very comfy as well as stylish - if I do say so myself!! Plus I picked up the shorts specifically for the holiday, so had been excited to wear them :) 

It struck Tom and me how there was nobody telling you not to touch certain things or to mind your step when we were climbing up the fortress. We were given free reign to explore... what a contrast to health and safety obsessed England! 

The remainder of the day involved Tom searching for a bar for us to watch football in and us both getting rather confused when finding the bus back to our village. We ended up just missing one and having to wait an hour for the next - not that it mattered, we spent the spare hour in a cute bar, sipping Mythos and watching locals play some kind of dice game and drinking espressos.

Overall it was a great day and I'd definitely recommend visiting Corfu Town/Kerkyra if you visit the island. Although it can be tempting to just chill by the pool all week, I'm so glad that Tom and I did lots of adventuring and really experienced Corfu. 


Sunday, 27 March 2016

A Cosy Sunday in Bolton

Last Sunday, Tom and I were at his lovely grandparents' house, which is a typical weekend activity for us. They have a spare room with a comfy double bed, full cupboards (a rarity when you're a student) and live two minutes walk away from the local pub... it's pretty great. I'm very lucky to have somewhere to go to escape university life for a little while and get a bit spoiled! They're lovely and are so kind to me. :) 

I started the day off with a cup of tea on the sofa and enjoyed the spring sunshine streaming in through the windows. The weather is temperamental at the moment... one minute the sun is shining, and the next there's a heavy downpour... perhaps a sign that April showers are on their way. Tom's grandpa makes the best bacon butties, and I have to admit that I do miss them now that I'm a vegetarian, but an equally tasty egg butty was rustled up for me... so I can't complain! 

I found myself in a bit of a pickle when I (finally) decided to have a shower. After a few minutes the water just stopped and a beeping noise began... my heart sunk - I thought I'd broken the bloody thing! I'm that person who accidentally breaks things at other people's house and it's just soooo embarrassing. But it turned out that I hadn't broken anything (thank God) and it was something to do with water pressure and technical-plumbing-watery-stuff. Tom's grandpa prepared for a week of being water-less. He collected bottles of water from the garage and scolded Tom for using it to have a glass of squash... But luckily everything was working again in a couple of hours. 

Tom's grandparents have a gorgeous cat named Bonnie. I'm a massive cat person and miss my own cats so much when I'm at uni. When we stay with them, I make sure to take full advantage of being around a feline and give Bonnie lots of attention. She likes being brushed and so has the softest fur. And she's one of those fab cats who loves to perch on your knee... she's a sweetheart. 

When you're about fifty yards from the pub, it would just be wrong not to go, and so off we went. I wore a typical outfit for me - black jeans, stripy top, waxed jacket and boots. And I put my hair in some hair down/half bun thingy-ma-bob that I've been likin' lately. Please excuse the scribble on my hand... it was from a club the night before! Tom and I can always guarantee that someone we know will be in the pub on a Sunday and sure enough, plenty of his pals were there. The football was on, but I busied myself with munching on some chips and was glad when Tom's sister popped by later and gave me a break from football-and-beer based chats... Not that I mind talking about those things, but it's nice to have girly chats too! 

The hours zoom by when you're casually conversing over a pint of cider, and before we knew it... it was tea time. Tom's grandma kindly made us tea, which saved Tom and me sleepily struggling to put together a meal of some kind when we got back to Manchester later that evening. After demolishing tea, we hopped on the train back to the big city, bought some chocolate, and went to bed. 

I love these chilled out Sundays. I'm so lucky to be able to get away from student living and have a cosy day with Tom in Bolton. 


Sunday, 20 March 2016

5 Tips for Saving Money at University

I've been actively trying to save money this academic year. I got a bit loan/grant happy in first year and flitted way too much money on pretty dresses and pints. My time at university is ticking away... I cannot believe that I'm over half way through my entire degree. I really don't want to be absolutely skint when I graduate next year, so I'm doing a few little things to keep my bank balance happy, and I've written five tips that will hopefully help you be a bit more thrifty too!

Resist those meal deals
I know what it's like... you've rushed like crazy to make it to your morning lecture and didn't even have time to grab a cereal bar, let alone make an Instagram-able rocket, avocado and halloumi salad for your packed lunch. You stumble out of your lecture... bloody ravenous... and head straight for Union, itching to get your hands on a £3 meal deal... But stop right there! The thought of how much money I must have spent on meal deals over the past few years make me feel slightly nauseous. I used to justify it to myself as it wasn't money I was spending on clothes or makeup, but it's still an unnecessary expense. Get your hands on some cheap Tupperware boxes, and take five minutes in the evening to whip up a packed lunch. My fave thing to make is a quick salad of leaves, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes with a dollop of hummus on top... it takes no time and saves me lots of moneyzz. And it's a lot healthier too, because although I kid myself that a cheese ploughman's butty is healthy 'cuz it's got salad in it, anything shop-bought is always gonna be worse for you that homemade.

Buy a water bottle 
Following on from the previous tip... I used buy bottles of water at uni a few times a week, flitting away pounds without even thinking. I popped into Home Sense the other week and found a really nice glass water bottle which I now use everyday. I'm not a big fan of drinking out of plastic reusable bottles, and I find that they get kind of smelly after a while. Although I have to be a bit more careful with my glass one and remember not to just dump my bag on the lecture hall floor, it's much nicer to drink out of :) Buying a proper bottle is better for the environment too! 

Try out a weekly bus ticket 
I'm lucky - my bus in Manchester is £1! One measly bloody quid! So cheap compared to the £2.40 singles in Birmingham... that's just robbery. But I often hop on the bus up to four times a day... so I've been getting the weekly ticket which is fab value at £7.50. I don't get it every week, as some weeks I go home for a couple of days or I'm just not as busy, but when I am busy, £7.50 for unlimited (I think...) bus travel defo saves me some pounds! Have a look and see what the buses in your area offer... you could end up with lots more money in your pocket.

Avoid browsing online 
I enjoy a good ol' Asos browsing session just like the next gal, but I find the more I browse, the more I buy. And to be honest, the constant scrolling through thousands of clothes, shoes and bags, didn't particularly make me happy, it just made me long for more stuff (that I defo don't need), and end up spending money that I should be saving. These days, I try and cut down my browsing to times when I know I actually can treat myself to something without feeling guilty - so when I've done an extra shift, or now for example - 'cuz it's my birthday soon! 

Take the Megabus 
Although I do enjoy a good train journey, I hardly ever take long ones nowadays because the Megabus is just so cheap in comparison! It may not have the best reputation, but it's honestly not that bad... I've never found the coaches to be dirty or uncomfortable. I went home a lot during the beginning of the academic year, and would have been so skint if I'd got the train each time. A mid-week Megabus ticket from Manchester from Birmingham is often only £4! Four pounds! I mean, how do they even make a profit?! It's fab to know I can afford to get myself home whenever I'm pining for my kitty cats (... and mommy). 

I hope you find these pointers helpful, and I'd love to hear your own tips!


Friday, 18 March 2016

5 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Summer

Following on from my last post, today I'm bringing to you five things I'm looking forward to this summer! Screw you guilt... I'm bloody excited. 

Tom and I are going on our first proper holiday together this year! We've been on little trips but nothing as exciting as this. We're jetting off to Corfu at the end of June and we're both soooo happy to finally be going away together and be guaranteed some sun! I haven't been on a hot holiday for a couple of years, and so shopping is basically compulsory (not complaining at all). I just couldn't help myself and have already got my hands on a few bikinis... from Primark of course... why spend all my moneyzz on garments that us English gals only get out a couple of times a year?! 

My friend Laura and I both really want to go to a festival this year. I've never been to a proper one... although when I was seven my parents took me to some strange festival in London where I saw Bob Dylan, so that's pretty cool. Laura and I both adore music and there are some brilliant line ups this year. I've actually been pretty naughty and keep on saying to Laura we should book tickets... and then I get cold feet. I'm a little bit worried about money - and the whole festival toilet situation... We will defo be paying the extra thirty quid to  have access to actual flushing toilets! I need to be decisive and brave and just go... I know I'll love it. 

During the summer, I get time to read books that I actually want to read! It can be hard to find the time to get through novels of my own choice when my lecturers demand that I read three (often rather dense) books a week!! Okay, I did sign up for an English Literature degree, but still... that's a lotta books. I love Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City books, and I'm planning on getting my teeth into Babycakes when June rolls around (not literally...). 

There's just something about being in the city on a warm, still summer's evening, and strolling bare-legged to the pub for a nice cold pint that's soooo fab. With the weather being nice and sunny lately, I keep on getting little waves of memories from last spring/summer in Manchester, and people-watching outside busy bars with cider in hand. 

Along with having more time to read over the summer, I have more time to blog - yay! I would love to be more consistent when it comes to blogging and approach the whole thing more professionally overall. Although I hope to do some part-time work over the warmer months and get a bit of money in my pocket, I will defo have lots more time to blog without the pressure of uni deadlines. 

What have you got planned for this summer?


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Why I felt guilty for looking forward to the future...

I sat across a table from my good friend Kat last week, telling her how much I am looking forward to the summer...  how I'm excited about sunshine, holidays, no essays or exams... ahhhh, how lovely. But immediately after my little outburst of excitement, I felt guilty. I felt guilty for saying "I can't wait for summer"... as if I was somehow wishing time away and therefore wasting my precious time on this Earth. 

When I was little, I used to feel like something or someone was listening to every little thing I said or wished for, and that if this mysterious presence overheard me exclaiming how excited I am for the summer months, they would make the time in-between go by in a flash, cut my life short and punish me for being so unappreciative. As I sat across from Kat, one hand curled round my mug of hot chocolate, I was taken back to that angst-ridden time, and felt the urge to correct myself by adding,"but I don't mean to wish the time away of course!" as if to deter this powerful, invisible listener. 

I'm sure many of you will relate to this kind of thinking - I explained it to Kat and she said she was exactly the same growing up. I'm a bit older and wiser now, and have a better handle on mindset. What a shame it would be to not allow myself to look forward to summer! There's a difference between not appreciating time and being excited about the future. And nothing bad is going to happen if I admit to myself that I am looking forward to jetting off the Greece in June and donning a bikini for the first time in yonks! Part of the fun of big events such as holidays, festivals or parties is looking forward to them... I suppose it's kind of like how the build-up to Christmas Day is often the best bit... although having said that I hope my holiday reaches (or surpasses!) my expectations... but anyway you get the gist. 

I feel sorry for past me, feeling bad for looking forward to a school trip to the theatre or a house party - and I don't want present me to feel the same way - guilty for no good reason. Being excited for a future happening doesn't mean I sacrifice all the time in-between and condemn it as time I don't appreciate. So I am looking forward to summer, I am looking forward to going to the beach, I am looking forward to not having to do uni work...  and the list goes on and on! :)


Thursday, 25 February 2016

How To Find The Right Student House...

 It's February, the academic year is flying by, and if you haven't sorted out your student house for September yet, it's probably at the top of your to do list. 

If you're a first year student, this is most likely the first time you have ever house hunted, and it can feel very grown up, stressful and intimidating. But don't fret, it's not as difficult as it seems. There are plenty of helpful and honest estate agents out there, and are assertive and ask lots of questions, you'll be able to find a solid deal. As I have just sorted out a uni house for the second time (university whizzes by so bloody fast... such a cliché... but very true), I feel more aware of the dos and don'ts when it comes to house hunting, and how to avoid falling into a dodgy or expensive contract... keep reading for a few pointers!

It may sound obvious, but it saves a lot of time and effort if go to estate agent who specialise in student lettings. My friend and I wasted time browsing swanky two bedroom flats online and almost booking viewings, when we realised the contracts were aimed towards professionals, and had contracts starting immediately, rather than the usual starting-from-June/July student deal. Also, companies that specialise in students are going to have clear, set terms regarding things like rent in summer... and questions such as "are we allowed house parties?"... and are just easier to deal with in general.

In Manchester, where I am a student, there's a place in the student hub of Fallowfield called Manchester Student Homes. It's a handy shop where you can get advice and do some guided house hunting. And it's managed by the universities in Manchester, so it's advice you can trust. The organisation is especially helpful in first year, when students are totally new to private renting and just want a bit more information. Do a quick google search and see if your university provides a similar service, they probably do!

Walton Robinson is a fab estate agent to go to if you're at uni in Newcastle. They have lots of student houses available which are easy to find through their website... just look for the big blue "Student Let" button! They won the North East Student Housing award for Newcastle in 2015 - they are well established, well trusted and well loved by students. 

My friend has just signed for a house through Unipol, a non-profit estate agents with branches in Leeds, Bradford and Nottingham. They are a great company to go through as they only deal with student lettings and pride themselves on providing good, honest service.

If you go to smaller companies or directly through landlords, remember to be assertive... try not to let yourself be pushed into house viewings or contracts that you're not too sure about - easier said than done, but aim to be clear and confident. Additionally, ask lots of questions. Don't be afraid to really pump the estate agent/landlord for information, this is serious stuff we're talking about here... it's big money, and you want to be sure that you're signing the contract that is right for you. Remember to ask about rent during the summer. Most student contracts start in June/July, meaning during the summer before you move into the property, you are required to pay some kind of rent. Estate agents  and landlords have differing policies on this and some are more expensive than others, so it's an important point to go over. And don't hesitate to ask your mom or dad to run over the contract to give you some advice... most likely they've been in a similar position... and your funds will probably be at the front of their mind!  

Unfortunately, student houses usually aren't particularly glamorous. We're students, we're sort of supposed to live in slightly dingy dwellings. But I am just like the next girl, I swoon at white Ikea furniture, walls of quirky art prints, and perfect desk set-ups... but you gotta compromise. Your Ikea dream will become reality one day, but most likely not while you're struggling to live off your student loan! On the other hand, you shouldn't have to live in a grotty hovel, and landlords/estate agents have the responsibility to make sure their properties are decent. Ultimately, it's about compromise. For example, I'm not a fan of the old fashioned, textured white walls in my house for next year... it reminds me of the swirly top of iced Christmas cakes... but I'm only living there for a year, I'm going to be with my best pal, and I'm sure with a line or two of bunting and fairy lights, we can have it looking cosy in no time. 

So there's my two cents on student house hunting. It can be a bit of nuisance to add it onto your plate alongside essays and reading and some kind of social life, but it's not as stressful as it seems. With a good estate agent, an assertive mindset, and a willingness to compromise, you'll find a fab pad for you and your pals. 


This post was kindly sponsored by Walton Robinson, but all opinions are my own. 

Friday, 19 February 2016

I just love terraced houses...

I have a thing for terraced houses. A big thing. Personally, I find them very aesthetically pleasing. Whilst others long for a gleaming, ultra-modern pad, I long for a cute, redbrick mid-terrace, complete with courtyard and back alley. Maybe it's because I've grown up in Birmingham, where there are lots of redbrick terraces, and have a keen passion for Birmingham's lost back to back style houses (I'm a nerd). I hate that the vast majority of Britain's Victorian houses have been lost. Every building has history, and it makes me sad that so much history has been bulldozed. Maybe my longing to preserve old architecture fuels my love of terraces...

Regardless of where my obsession comes from, it makes me smile at the symmetrical rows of terraces and their back alleyways... the red brick feel cosy and familiar to me, and I just want to explore and take a few snaps. I live in Manchester now and luckily many old houses remain - think Coronation Street style! I can definitely see myself living in a terrace in a Manchester suburb in a few years time... they're often pretty cheap too! Next academic year, my friend and I are renting a redbrick terrace in an area that's dominated by them. It's even got a little yard and a back alleyway... heavenly. 

I'm aware that I probably sound a bit nuts, but we all have our own tastes. My family home has some classic red bricks that are so prominent in industrial cities, but I suppose it's kind of weird that I adore terraces when I haven't lived in one (yet!). But I love how they're typically British and full of character. The majority were built during the Industrial Revolution, a watershed event that created modern Britain and shaped my hometowns of Birmingham and Manchester... and I can't get enough of 'em. 

What kind of houses do you like? Are you all for modern chic, or do you prefer old and characterful? 


Thursday, 11 February 2016

6 Tips for Feeling Happier at University

Being at university isn't all fun and games. Some weeks are great, I get to all my lectures and seminars, manage to chat to other students, go on a couple of nights out, and feel like I have my life under control. And other weeks don't exactly go to plan... I feel demotivated and like a failure, just want to stay at my boyfriend's all the time and I really miss my mom. Before Christmas, I wasn't feeling too good about uni. I didn't feel at home in the house that I share with five friends, was going home every couple of weeks, and was worried about becoming a bit of a burden to my boyfriend as I wanted to stay at his lots instead of trying to make my own place work. 

I just didn't feel... I dunno, cosy? I didn't look forward to coming back to the house after a long day of uni. My room didn't feel like my room, and it made me miserable. After a lovely month at home over Christmas, I was anxious about coming back to university... worried that I still wouldn't feel settled in. But things have changed, and in 2016, I'm feeling a lot better. I was determined not to rely on my boyfriend so much as it just wasn't fair, and actually look forward to coming back to my own room and my own space. I used to be so good at entertaining myself and considered myself to be someone who craved having time alone, but during the first few months of second year, I seemed to lose my confidence somewhat, and forgot how to make myself happy.

There are lots of little things that have made my self esteem return, made me feel more content, and made me feel at home in my house. Just simple things that anyone can apply to their life. I know for a fact from speaking to friends that uni is not easy for most people, and many of us have days where we feel lost and unfulfilled. I hope these tips will help those of you who need a bit of a confidence and happiness boost. 

1) Plan
Planning your days gives them purpose and structure, even if it's as small as writing "do laundry, return library book and look online for jobs" in your diary. I don't have many contact hours at uni, and I find having a little diary where I write down what tasks, however boring, that I'm going to aim to do in my free time really helps me feel motivated and on track. It also helps prevent me from rotting in bed until 2pm and then watching and re-watching The Undateables until I feel sleepy again... we've all been there and it may be fun at the time, but then you suddenly realise you haven't had any sunlight in twenty four hours... so it's best to avoid. 

2) Plan again
... but this time with friends. And it doesn't all have to be alcohol and night out related too. Despite what you may have heard, not everyone at university is a party animal. Have a look at what's going on in the local area or at your uni. It's easy to get stuck in a kind of student bubble where you feel disconnected from the city or town that you're in. But what's stopping you from going to the free art gallery like you would with your grandparents back at home? And why not try out the local craft market with a few pals? It makes me feel much more fulfilled and accomplished when I'm an active member of the community, and when I make plans with friends. 

3) Make an effort
Don't just run upstairs to your room as soon as you get in from lectures, despite how tempting it might be when you're tired and a bit moody. Make the effort to go into the kitchen and talk to your housemates about their day and maybe watch a bit of easy TV with them... who doesn't love Four in a Bed?! I have to admit, sometimes I feel like I really can't be bothered to socialise, but then I always feel much better and chirpier when I do make the effort. In the end it's not good to isolate yourself from your friends and housemates, and I know it make me a lot more positive when I do something as simple as watching some TV, or ordering a take away with my housemates.

4) Make it cosy and comfy
The aesthetic of where I spend my time is so important to me. People bang on about it not being the bricks and mortar, but the people you share it with that's important... but let's face it, if you're spending lots of your time in a bland, cheaply furnished and slightly moldy student room, it does get you down. So go mad with the fairy lights, scatter those cushions, hide that mold... make it cosy! It's so much lovelier to be able to relax in a comfy and homely environment... I leave a trail of fairy lights wherever I go, and I'm not ashamed... they instantly make me feel nice and snug. And another thing... before Christmas, I didn't really utilise the desk in my room as I thought it was too small and in too awkward-a-place, but when exams rolled around in January, I decided to try it out properly. With a stretch of an extension lead and shuffle of some books, I've managed to make the space work, and it's so much better than trying to get essays done in bed. They say that it's not productive to work in you bed as you associate it with sleep... I do get where they're coming from (whoever "they" are...), although over the years I have managed to get many a word written from my duvet cocoon... however, it is definitely much easier to sit at a desk when trying to write and spread out my books, and it makes me feel all fancy and on track too. 

5)  Go home! 
I definitely was going home too much before Christmas. I used it as a kind of cop out... rather than trying to make myself feel comfortable in my house at uni, I would just book a cheap Megabus ticket, shove a few things in a bag and be back with my parents and cats in a couple of hours. But I do think going home is important, and I'm still going to be making trips back this semester, just less frequently. It's lovely to pick a date to go home on, and then have something else (along with you art gallery and craft fair trips) to look forward to. You need a break from adulty things like food shopping once in a while, and a weekend every now and then with your momma is like a bit of respite that makes you feel rejuvenated. Having lots and lots of weekends at home takes that respite factor away somewhat, so I'm trying to stay away from the Megabus site... and so far it's going pretty well, although I am looking forward to seeing my cats again sometime soon!

6) Work on personal projects
I didn't really blog at all last semester. I didn't spend time on my own personal projects, and I'm sure that was a big contributing factor in why I wasn't happy. I love writing, and I have so many article ideas just waiting to be written, and when I take these projects of mine seriously and take time out of my day to work on them, I feel motivated and accomplished. As I mentioned earlier, I was worried that I was becoming a burden to my boyfriend as I used his flat as an escape, (like I used going home) and opted to run there and rely on him, rather than working on myself and trying to be more self reliant. When I am busy with my projects, I am more likely to look forward to going back to my place and having time alone, as I get to work on my writing. And when I work on my writing, I'm helping to build my portfolio and make baby steps towards getting a job I want when I graduate next year, so it's a win-win situation. So whether you personal project is blogging, YouTube-ing, working out, cooking, or whatever else, push yourself to make time in your life for it. I know it can be hard to get started on something that you haven't worked on for a while and procrastination creeps in, but once you've just made a little start, just written one word or done a two minute warm-up, you've made progress, and it gets much easier from there. 

Well I wasn't expecting this post to be so long or personal, but writing it has helped confirm to myself what I need to do to keep myself on track and happy, and I hope it helps you too!