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I don't know how I feel about having children

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The past few years I’ve had some real swings to and fro on how I feel about maybe having kids someday. I’ve never been a staunch ‘I never want kids’ kind of person; although I’ve never had a point in my life so far where I definitely thought my life would be improved by the addition of children, I’ve always been open to the idea that this might change. It does change, occasionally, but rarely for long. I had a brief broody period a couple of years ago during which I could imagine life as a mum, and how wonderful it would be to have a child to raise and grow with. I could hear their giggles and chattery conversations with me, and see myself as a cool tattooed mum kicking life’s ass and taking names all with a toddler on her hip.

Since then, for the most part, I’ve been dead against the idea.

I still have the odd moments when my maternal instincts kick in.  I think I’d be a good parent, and look forward to learning from and being shaped by a child as much as they would learn from and be shaped by me.

The problem is that these moments are fleeting, and I’m always brought back to the same conclusion: I don’t want to be tied down by huge, life-changing responsibility that isn’t and has never been my dream and that I might regret. Parents who criticise the willingly child-free like to call us selfish for not raising children, and to a certain extent that’s absolutely why I don’t always think I want any. I like my life. I like my freedom. As much as I adore animals and love pets (way more than I want kids), I found the commitment involved in even taking Wilson in and having to plan my life around her a huge struggle to wrap my head around, and she’s a very independent cat, not a child. I’ve only recently got to grips with managing my own life like a real adult, let alone caring for an infant or kid, and my peaks and troughs with anxiety make me concerned for my ability to adequately raise one at times.

In terms of regret, that’s a tricky one. I know parents are never supposed to say that they regret having children, but as discussion about the negative aspects of parenthood (and in particular, motherhood) have become somewhat less taboo, I’ve read a lot of stories from parents who – if they could go back in time and make different choices – they would choose differently. That isn’t to say that they don’t still adore their children, or haven’t enjoyed watching the grow up.  But, if they could do it all again knowing what they know now and that the experience of parenthood really wasn’t for them or knowing the life and opportunities that they missed out on due to opting for parenthood out of obligation or because their partner wanted kids or because they didn’t realise they had any other choice, they wouldn’t.

Luckily, as a woman in 2018 I don’t have quite the same pressure to be a mum that a lot of older women had when they were my age. Having children is no longer a requirement of being a woman, but I am still wary of the subtle, ingrained view that once you have your long term partner, and your career, and your house, the next step is largely still expected to be starting a family. It’s not a requirement anymore, sure, but it still tends to be ‘just what you do’, and I don’t want to unintentionally fall into that trap thinking it was just the natural next stage of life when it doesn’t have to be.

The logical person in me also looks to the facts: to over-population, to the state of the planet, to the fact that – other than frankly more selfish desire to hopefully have someone to care for you when you’re older – there is no real need to procreate. It also looks to the likely struggles that my child would endure thanks to the uncertainty of their future, of our politics. I don’t want to raise a kid if they aren’t going to be guaranteed the same privileges and head starts that I was; I don’t want them to struggle through life without the NHS or pay five times my tuition fees for university or be unable to experience the joys of travel because of cost and visas and lack of opportunity. (Unlike, as apparently voting statistics would suggest, many of the generations before us, I want my children to have everything I had and much, much more. They deserve better.)

Life for our generation as parents is going to be different to our parents’ lives with us. With the lack of increase in wages, the higher cost of living, the increase in tuition fees, the difficulty in getting decently paid jobs, it’s looking likely that just as our generation often find themselves stuck living at home with parents well into their twenties or even thirties, the same will probably be said for our children. So, on top of us having to struggle for longer to get our lives together and get houses and actually start to enjoy some semblance of security, once we choose to have children, we’re probably going to be sharing our home with them for far longer than our parents did with us simply because they won’t be able to afford anything better. We’re also having children later, due to the simple fact that we cannot afford to and are in no position to have them (generally speaking) any earlier than thirty.

On mulling it over, that means that, most likely, while our parents were able to see us properly fly the nest in our mid-twenties and settle down and enjoy their lives and retirements between their forties and sixties, that will be pushed back considerably for us. We may not even have children until our mid to late thirties or early forties. That means that we could be well in excess of fifty by the time our kids graduate university, and if the current trend is anything to go by, they might end up living with us for a long time after that. Our retirement age will no doubt be pushed back further, so we’ll be housing or supporting our grown-up kids (through no fault of their own) while holding down a job well into old age, possibly into our retirement, and then by the time they’re able to find solid ground we’ll be too damn old to actually enjoy our golden years without them.

Truth be told, there is no good time to have kids. There is no magic formula or plan you can have that will prepare you. For many, having kids is a reward in itself that makes it worth all of the trials and tribulations, and that’s cool. But I know me – I struggle. A lot. And having only just got to grips with my career and living my life and being my best self at 26, I’m not ready to give that up and the thought of not having my independence again until my late fifties or sixties is terrifying. Years ago, I had hoped that if I were to have kids, I would have them by 28 or 30. I wanted to be active and healthy and youthful enough to still play and keep up with them and relate to them (I’m constantly exhausted now at 26, I cannot imagine experiencing that plus parent-level exhaustion at 40+). Now I’m not willing to give up my youth just yet, which scuppers that plan, and leaves me wondering when – if ever – I will actually be okay with the idea of bringing a child into my life.

If I get pregnant, I get pregnant, and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Maybe it’ll happen and I’ll think of it as a blessing, I’ll immediately fall in love with the idea of parenthood and we’ll roll with it, or maybe it’ll happen and I’ll have the complete mental breakdown I expect myself to and I’ll know I’m either not ready or it’s just not for me.

Either way, all I know for sure right now is that I don’t know, and I’m not making any plans to commit to an ‘I don’t know’ and an increasingly bleak social and political future.

Review / Ere Perez Natural Cosmetics Lip Colour, Colour Pot & Concealer

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Close up photo of Ere Perez Natural Cosmetics Colour Pot in Harmony, Lipcolour in You and Arnica Concealer in Latte in base packaging.  The colour pot packaging has a lovely glossy, mirrored lid.
You might remember me talking about Ere Perez Natural Cosmetics products before – I did a review post of a highlighter, colour pot and lip and cheek tint by them back in September 2016 – and I was pretty impressed with their products at the time.  I even featured them in a simple, glowing winter makeup look at the end of 2016.  I loved that they were gentle and natural, and achieved softer looks, and that’s something that I’ve really been gravitating towards recently. I still love heavier, more glamorous makeup, but since I started going bare-faced at least five days a week, when I finally do wear makeup I’ve been preferring how my face looks with it being more minimal and understated.

I was very excited when I saw that Ere Perez had redone some of their products and packaging and released some new items and, of course, I had to try them! Since I’ve been lusting after natural looks recently, I thought I would try some products in shades that would be more subtle and ‘my face but better’, so I decided to order the Moisturising Macadamia Lip Colour in the shade You and the Carrot Colour Pot in Harmony, both of which are repackaged and possibly even reformulated versions of old products. One of their new goodies however, is the Arnica Concealer. If you’ve been following my beauty escapades for a while now, you’ll know that a good concealer that’s both vegan and cruelty free has been the ultimate challenge for me to find, so it was a no brainer that I gave this a go. The shade I chose was the lightest available, Latte.

Close up photo of Ere Perez Natural Cosmetics Colour Pot in Harmony, Lipcolour in You and Arnica Concealer in Latte with lids off.  The lipcolour is a cool pink lipstick, the concealer a pale cream concealer and the colour pot a peachy pink coloured cream formula.


Let’s start with the lipstick! The Moisturising Macadmia Oil Lipcolour in the shade You* is a creamy lip product made with macadamia oil, and is supposed to give great coverage as well as sooth and moisten the lips like a balm might. I believe (but am not 100% certain) this is an old product, rather than one of their re-packaged new creations. This shade turned out to be an almost perfect match for my lips, and is advertised as a pinky-brown, natural shade best suited to people with fairer complexions and cool tones to their skin.

On the lips, this makes my face look a little bit more polished and put together with minimal effort, and is easily the best natural lip colour I own now. You can’t really tell that I’m wearing anything on my lips when I have this on – they just look fuller, more even and filled in than usual, and on top of that I barely even feel it. Coming from someone who is used to wearing heavy matte liquid lipsticks all the time, it’s virtually weightless and my lips feel soft and almost like I’m wearing a lip balm when I’m wearing it. The staying power is about what I would expect from a creamy product in that it does wear away if you eat or drink, but it doesn’t smudge or smear and it’s extremely easy to reapply. Since I received this, it’s been my go to lip product for days when I want to wear something on my lips, but don’t want anything drying or to have to deal with the commitment of even my nude liquid lipsticks.

My one complaint with this product would be that in certain lights you can sometimes see just a hint of glittery bits in this lipstick (which as someone who hates glittery lipsticks, immediately concerned me and made me think I wasn’t going to like it), but it doesn’t seem to show when you actually apply it to your lips. That aside, I definitely intend to repurchase this and to try more of the lipcolours that Ere Perez has to offer.

Next, the Carrot Colour Pot in the shade Harmony*. I have one of their colour pots in the old packaging, and I think that the new version was an excellent choice. Rather than the old flip-top container, this is a screw top with a glass base and beautiful mirrored lid and, although the old packaging was elegant-looking and great quality, this gives it a much more high-end feel. I’m not sure if they’ve altered the formula for these at all with the repackaging, but I think I also much prefer the texture and consistency of Harmony to Holy, which I have in the older packaging.

Ere Perez colour pots are designed to be worn on cheeks or lips, and Harmony is described as a dusty pink shade that I thought would complement my complexion well, and it certainly does! When applied, this gives a beautiful soft pink flush to my cheeks, however on my skin it seems to take on a warmer, slightly more peachy tint than dusty pink (you can see from the swatch below that it looks much warmer on my skin than it seems to in the pot). It still looks perfectly natural and matches my complexion well, but you may want to be aware that it might take on a different tone depending on your own complexion and undertones. On the lips, it matches my natural lip colour extremely well and just helps to add a little colour back into them on those days I can’t even be bothered with an easy lipstick, but still want a hint of colour.

This is a really easy product to use and I love that as a cream/balm-based blush, your skin still looks luminous and hydrated after applying it. It has a slightly stickier consistency compared to some other cream blushes I’ve used, but you can pat it on and blend it out with your fingertips, or occasionally I’ll apply it with my fingertips and then blend it out with my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. A little does go a long way, so be careful not to gather up a large amount of product on your fingers!

Again, I’ll definitely be repurchasing this little pot – it’s almost as though this and the You lipstick were made to perfectly match my skin, and this product in particular feels like a luxury item with the new packaging.

Lastly, we have the new Arnica Concealer in the shade Latte*. Now, this was the product that I was most anticipating, and hoped that it would finally fill the void that being both vegan and cruelty free with sensitive skin had left me. Ere Perez’s concealers are made with arnica, which they say is a calming remedy that’s both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory – so while other concealers might make spots and blemishes worse, the idea is that this one helps to heal them as well as cover them up. The shade range is unfortunately quite limited; Latte is the lightest shade and seems to match me perfectly, but I know I’m not as pale as many other folks, and there are essentially no options for darker skinned people of colour.

The packaging for the concealer is essentially the same as for the colour pot, but with a white lid instead of a shiny, mirrored one, and feels similarly high end and good quality. The consistency of the product is a light cream; it’s somewhat similar to the Illamasqua skin base concealers but much, much lighter to the touch. At first, it feels almost dry like a kind of crème-to-powder formula, but once your skin warms it, the Arnica Concealer becomes more of a true cream texture.

Now, if you’re looking for a heavy duty concealer, I would say this isn’t for you. Like most of Ere Perez’s products, this is natural both in appearance and in ingredients, but it does give very good, natural-looking coverage that I suppose I’d describe as medium-ish. It adequately conceals everything from spots to dark circles, but obviously doesn’t compare to say, Kat Von D’s concealers.

Having said that though, this is the perfect concealer for me. Once applied, I can pretty much forget that I’m wearing it because (unlike everything I’ve worn in the past) I can’t actually feel it on my skin. Paired with a colour corrector, the Ere Perez Arnica Concealer covers all of my uneven patches, redness and dark circles in a way that achieves my ideal ‘perfect’ skin – you can’t tell I’m wearing makeup, it just looks as though I have really, really good skin, without looking like a blank canvas or caked in product! When using setting powder, it doesn’t even crease under my eyes, which was a problem I’ve been having with all of my concealers since the onset of my late twenties fine lines.  It wears just as well as the Illamasqua or Collection concealers, and doesn’t awkwardly sink into pores or separate as my face gets oilier throughout the day.

Swatch photo of Ere Perez Natural Cosmetics Colour Pot in Harmony, Lipcolour in You and Arnica Concealer in Latte on fair skin.
Left to right: Moisturising Macadamia Lip Colour in You, Carrot Colour Pot in Harmony, Arnica Concealer in Latte


I would consider these higher end items that aren’t suited to everyone’s budget, though – the concealer is £23, the colour pot is £21 and the lipcolour is £15.50 on LoveLula so they aren’t cheap. I would say that these are worth investing in if you’re likely to get a lot of use out of high quality, natural products, especially when it comes to multipurpose items like the colour pot. I think Ere Perez did a great job with their repackaging at least, because the new pots fit the standard that the price range sets much better than the old packaging did, making each item feel like more of a treat.

I’m really happy to say that I think these products are even better than the ones I reviewed previously, and if you’re someone who is into natural beauty and gentle products with natural ingredients, then these are definitely worth adding to your collection. Ere Perez Natural Cosmetics continues to impress!

* This review is not sponsored and has not been paid for, however the products were sent to me free of charge. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

2018 Hopes & Goals

Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 was a pretty wild ride – just as David Mitchell recently described it, I thought “it was personally adequate and internationally disastrous”. On a global scale, it’s been quite the clusterfuck of a year that anyone who keeps up to date with the news will be well aware of, but as far as it goes for me as an individual, it wasn’t half bad. 2017 was the year that I went to Antigua, was offered not one but two great job opportunities, and finally moved away from the south and ended up in Nottingham.

The past several years have been awkward and transitional, like living in a constant state of limbo, and the latter half of 2017 and moving into 2018 I’m now feeling settled and hopeful for the future. Life isn’t perfect or fully secure by any means; there are still plenty of uncertainties around what we’ll be doing and when and whether or not living in Nottingham is going to be it for the rest of our lives. For the foreseeable future at least, we’re here and we’re waiting to get our lives in order so that we can finally start the process of buying a house.

I’m more optimistic now than I was this time last year. I was happy and in a job I enjoyed, but I had my end of contract in March looming over me, no other prospects and was still ultimately unhappy about where we were living. It’s a very different picture now – I have a permanent, better job with a team that I love working with, and I feel like all of the pieces of the puzzle are finally falling into place and like our adult lives can really begin, for real this time. We even seem to have somehow acquired a cat!

I suppose the main somewhat negative note moving into 2018 is that I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to blogging anymore. It seems to be a common theme lately that a lot of us are feeling a little hopeless; growth has been crushed by algorithms, communities are frustrating those that are a part of them, content isn’t reaching the number of people it used to and, by and large, inspiration and motivation has almost fizzled out. I don’t know what I even really want my content to look like moving forward, but I think I’m going to start making a conscious effort to blog about a wider variety of ethical lifestyle and just plain lifestyle topics, and start introducing fitness posts too (from a more balanced perspective than it perhaps tends to be). Sad thing is that my non-beauty related posts tend to do the worst when it comes to statistics, but I think the fact that I’m so fed up with everything lately has made me stop caring and want to just write for me and for the people that are going to keep reading my blog regardless.

That seems like a bit of a downer, I guess, but what can I say? The last couple of months of 2017 have been pretty reflective for me as a content creator and I think I’m going to just have to start dialling it back and producing things that I love, even if no one else does!

Some other personal aspirations and intentions of mine for this year are:
  • Hip thrust 60kg by the end of the year. My personal best is 45kg so this isn’t an unrealistic goal, but it’s challenging to practice at higher weights regularly because my gym is just too busy and doesn’t have enough space for full-sized barbells.
  • Keep building my upper body strength and maybe finally have full on biceps by the end of the year.
  • Drink more water. I’m not too bad at this, but I’ve fallen back into bad habits and need to pull myself out of it again.
  • Visit my best friend in the US.  She came to me the year before last, and it would be amazing to arrange to fly out and see her again!
  • Start pole dancing. I’ve already booked myself in for my beginner classes in mid-January, and I can’t wait! This has been a goal of mine for around 6 years now, and I’m so excited to finally be doing it.
  • Take steps to lead a more minimalist life, maybe build a capsule wardrobe. 2017 has been the year I realised that all of the stuff I have just stresses me out, and maybe 2018 can be the year I fix that.
  • Practice a more meditative and mindful lifestyle.  Blogger friends like Bre of Brianne Etc. have been bringing living positive, bright lives and generally being more balanced, mindful and self-loving to the forefront of my thoughts lately.  It’s really made me want to shift my lifestyle, look inwards and try to be my best self in 2018.
  • Be better at tidying. Linked with the above, I’ve always been shit at tidying up regularly so I may as well make the same resolution I do every year and try to do it more often…
  • Read more. Honestly, I’m awful at reading. I love it, but I’m crap at making time for it and sticking with it and that’s something I really, really want to change.
How about you - what are your goals for the next year?

Initial Thoughts on The Last Jedi (SPOILERS!)

Monday, 18 December 2017


Okay, I am a massive Star Wars nerd – probably only a few pegs down from ‘walls of unopened Star Wars action figures in their original packaging’-level nerd – so I’ve obviously been extremely excited this year to see The Last Jedi.

I went into The Force Awakens with hope but scepticism – I’d never been disappointed by Star Wars before (yes, I do enjoy the prequel trilogy) but I’ve seen so many reboots and remakes and sequels go wrong, and Star Wars is my thing. The thing that has stayed with me my entire life, that I still adore to this day, that I literally have tattooed on my body. Much to my delight, I ended up being blown away by the combination of nostalgia, new direction and some of the best representation we’ve seen in a fictional movie world so far. Similarly, I went into The Last Jedi ultimately hopeful, but still not knowing what to expect, and knowing that there were so many unanswered questions that I may not end up liking the chosen answers to.

Unexpectedly, I wasn’t really sure what I thought when I left the cinema. “This isn’t going to go the way you think” was an understatement Luke, and as it turned out massively foreshadowed a number of different elements of the film. I walked away invigorated but confused by my own feelings; it didn’t end with me wanting to jump out of my seat with thunderous applause like I had with The Force Awakens. It wasn’t until I had time to reflect on it that I realised just how much I enjoyed and genuinely appreciated it.  I’ve heard others say it and I wholeheartedly agree: it may not have been what we wanted or expected, but it was what we needed.

I thought I’d include some of my early thoughts here, but be warned: there will be spoilers. Stop reading now if you haven’t already seen The Last Jedi!

You have been warned!

The Force

The Force is, obviously, integral to Star Wars and something that features heavily in canon and Expanded Universe lore, but it’s something that many of us have felt we already knew the limits of. We knew what to expect – Force push, maybe some mind tricks, lightning if you’re into that, all that good stuff. The Last Jedi shattered these expectations and used Luke and Leia in particular, but also Snoke, Rey and Kylo Ren to dip its toes into a wider world of what the Force really is.

We finally got to see Leia actually use the Force – not as a trained Jedi, not wielding a weapon, but as a seemingly dormant survival instinct that kicked in just as she was about to die. In true Carrie Fisher style, it was almost as if Leia simply wasn’t finished yet and was unwilling to check out until she was ready.

Luke’s use of the Force has apparently been a controversial one, but it was absolutely the display of Jedi power that we needed to see and I didn’t fully pick up on it until we saw him back on the island at all. We got a glimpse of the immense power that those of us who are familiar with the EU know Luke Skywalker wields – not in the form of an epic lightsaber battle but in the form of a grand but pacifist and elegant trick that brazenly exploited Kylo Ren’s weaknesses and that, to me, was 100% fit for a Jedi Master.  Mark Hamill in this movie was also utterly incredible, but I plan to go into this in another post.

The connection between Rey and Kylo Ren engineered by Snoke was another hint at elements of the Force that haven’t been explored before – we know that people can have connections and sense feelings through the Force, but having a ‘physical’ presence in the way we’ve experienced with these two (and Luke) in The Last Jedi is new and unfamiliar territory. Regardless of whether or not it was Snoke’s doing, it was a clever way to bring the two of them together without having to somehow get them to end up in the same physical location, and created a vulnerable intimacy that I found really compelling. And for the record, that’s even as someone who hates Reylo as a concept, but I’ll get to that another time because I disagree that the film suggests it’s even a thing moving forward.

The Theme of Identity

The cast and crew thought that Rey’s backstory and lineage were done and dusted with The Force Awakens, but with the massive amount of interest from fans evidently needed to address it and put it to rest once and for all. Assuming that Kylo Ren isn’t lying or manipulating Rey in some way, she (and we) now know that her parents simply weren’t important. I find this a huge relief, not just because I didn’t personally want to see any other Skywalkers or Kenobis or what have you, but because it’s integral to the theme of identity that runs through the film.

Kylo Ren and Rey are two sides of the same coin; in addition to being representative of dark and light, they’re both trying to navigate who they are and find their places in the universe. Rey is the nobody thrust into a world of adventure and heroes and expectations, who constantly looks to her past to try to find meaning and her place and purpose in the circumstances she’s found herself in. Kylo Ren is the reverse of this; he’s consumed by his family’s history and, unlike Rey, burdened by his lineage and the expectations placed upon him because of it.

Their stories and their desires to solidify who they are run parallel, and ultimately end with Rey realising that Maz Kanata was right all along (“the belonging you seek is not behind you, it is ahead”) and choosing the Light, while Kylo Ren casts off Snoke’s shackles and finally refuses to be a tool endlessly compared to his grandfather, but unfortunately makes the decision to choose the Dark and create his own ‘empire’ as he wishes it to be without being under the thumb of another. Both find themselves by abandoning their pasts, but they choose to embrace dramatically different futures as a result.

It isn’t just the younger characters that struggle with identity though; Luke experiences his fair share too and unlike Rey and Kylo Ren who look to their family for answers, he’s burdened by the weight of his own legacy. He maintains that he isn’t a legend, that he isn’t a master, that he has nothing to teach Rey. With the help of a couple of blasts from the past, he finally comes to term with his mistakes and lets go of his own history and failings, embracing the legend of Luke Skywalker one final time to give the galaxy not the version of him that he believed in, but the version of him that it needed.

Our Perceptions

Tying in somewhat to the idea of identity in The Last Jedi was the running theme of perception. It’s a huge element of Kylo Ren’s turn to the Dark Side – we see two different versions of that night in Ben Solo’s room before we finally see what really happened – and is touched upon by DJ when he brings up who funds the excess and oppression of the Canto Bight rich, as well as played with for individual characters like Rey, Admiral Holdo and Luke himself.

In Return of the Jedi, Obi-wan said to Luke: “…you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” and this is called upon again and again in The Last Jedi. Our point of view determines whether or not Luke was attacked by an already dark Kylo Ren, if he attempted to murder his nephew, or if he contemplated it and ultimately decided it was wrong. Our point of view determines whether or not Canto Bight is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, people just making a living or a simple necessity in the reality in which we actually live.

The concept of our point of view can also extend to Luke’s final showdown; I didn’t catch it until I read about it and listened to podcasts later, but there were numerous hints to suggest that he wasn’t really there. Yoda mentions in The Empire Strikes Back that Luke always looked to the future, never where he was and what he was doing – it seems that he jogged Luke’s memory with this too, and it ended up being what Luke was able to use to buy the Resistance time to flee. Kylo Ren lacks the same focus on the here and now, and missed all of the same tells that gave Luke away that I did. Kylo Ren perceived Luke to be there, and looked no deeper than that.

Political Statements

The Star Wars films have always been a statement about war, about good vs evil and have even explored some elements of politics in the prequel trilogy, but I’ve never seen mainstream Star Wars make as many overt, political statements as The Last Jedi did. I didn’t love the scenes on Canto Bight in and of themselves, but I loved the messages that they tried to convey and the purpose that they served in the end.

Rose hates the city of beauty and wealth and wishes she could tear the whole thing down, and Finn doesn’t see why until he sees the disparity and oppression when he looks at things a little more closely. They’re both then forced to grapple with the reality that it isn’t just the First Order who are buying weapons from these obscenely rich arms dealers, but the Resistance, too.  It suddenly isn’t as black and white as ‘good against evil’ anymore, although they maintain the need to pick the right side.

I didn’t take to the scenes with the children right away, but when I sat back for a moment I really embraced the imagery and the story The Last Jedi tells with the kids in the Fathier stables and the Broom Boy at the end of the movie. When it comes to the bigger picture, I took away that anyone, from anywhere, has the potential to change the universe; the boy looking up at the stars and dreaming of the legends of Luke Skywalker and the Resistance fighters he met harks back to Luke first staring off into the twin sunset, hoping to one day be a part of that change himself. On the smaller scale, it feels to me like a nod to the new generation of Star Wars fans, the ones who are looking up at the stars and embracing the future – the fans that these new movies are really for – instead of those dwelling on the nostalgia of the past.

Combined with the other elements of the movie, whether it be the idea that change is possible and worth fighting for, that heroes can come from anywhere or that there’s always a place for you (in the world in general, or in Star Wars as we can now come to know it), these scenes ended up being really emotional, heartwarming and hopeful for me.

Oh, and being vegan I couldn’t let the apparent, subtle plant-based leanings slip through the net. Luke’s drinking the milk (on top of being a wonderful way for him to show Rey ‘hey look I’m not that great look at me I’m a gross weird old hermit man, leave me alone’) and Rey’s obvious discomfort with what just happened, coupled with Chewie caving into porg-pressure and the use of the Fathier racing to illustrate the injustice and cruelty of the upper classes of Canto Bight were a very unexpected accidentally (I assume…) vegan message!

I loved The Last Jedi. It may not have been what I had expected or had hoped for, but it nevertheless exceeded all of my expectations and has been a movie that has grown on me the longer I take to think about it. I may not have loved everything about it, but it’s left a stronger impression than I thought it would, and both is and represents everything I hope Star Wars continues to be from now on.

Expect some more musings as time goes on! What were your first impressions of The Last Jedi?

Review / Joik Soy Wax Scented Candles

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

When the temperature starts to drop and the evenings get darker, most of us gravitate towards things that make us feel warm, cosy and comforted. Autumn and winter can be a dark and dreary time of year and, depending on where you live and what your daily routine is like, you may struggle to get a good look at the sun for days or even weeks at a time. I know back when I was working earlier hours this time last year, I’d leave the house before the sun rose and be back after it set, with no time left to actually enjoy the daylight and soak in the fleeting rays of winter sunshine.

I know plenty of other people who enjoy all things hygge and love a good candle at any time of year, but the thought to light one doesn’t usually cross my mind until the seasons start to shift. Most of my favourite scents are spiced, cold weather fragrances, and I tend to find candles more enjoyable when you get to see the soft, flickering candlelight dancing in the darkness of a chilly winter’s evening.

I’m not much a connoisseur of scented candles, but I’d heard about Estonian brand Joik’s candles before and had been on the hunt for some more natural alternatives to more commonly found paraffin candles. They fit the bill pretty nicely – they’re made of soy wax, and promise high quality and a lasting, true fragrance that can be difficult to find in many natural candle brands. They come in a range of delightful scents, and of course the ones that called out to me were Cinnamon Bun* and Gingerbread*.

I could smell these candles as soon as I opened the package they arrived in, and long before I decided to burn them they added a spicy, cinnamon sweetness to the room I’d left them in. Although both carry a festive spice to them, Cinnamon Bun has a much sweeter scent than Gingerbread, and smells nearly identical to a freshly baked cinnamon bun smothered in sticky, vanilla icing. It isn’t overbearingly sickly in the slightest (in fact, it smells delicious and as if I’d been baking without any of the effort) but it may not be suited to those who don’t enjoy food-based, sweet scented candles. Gingerbread is also delectable, but is a slightly more ‘mature’ smell with notes of cardamom, clove, ginger and the like, and is perfect for the holiday season.  I’ve been burning this throughout December so far, and it was a wonderful addition to the evening we put up our Christmas tree.

Both candles fill my home with fragrance when lit, and can be noticed as soon as you open the front door. Even when left to rest for days on end, they still give the room a subtle but welcoming sweet, spicy smell. These are advertised to burn for around 30 hours when used as recommended, and so far even after regular use the wick hasn’t burned down particularly far in mine. Each candle is £13.50 from LoveLula.com, which is comparable to mainstream brands like Yankee Candle and cheaper than many other natural, soy wax-based brands. Even if that does seem like a high price tag, these make perfect luxury gifts and come in a variety of different fragrances for all occasion. Spiced smells may not be your cup of tea, but they also have many different floral, fruity, sensual, fresh and other smells from hot chocolate to strawberries and wine to ones inspired and named after cities and moments.

What are your favourite kinds of candle to burn at this time of year?

* This review is not sponsored and has not been paid for, however the product was sent to me free of charge. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

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