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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

things I am coveting: october

1. I already have a pair in this style but with cats on, but as soon as I saw these Dino Snore PJs from Topshop, I knew I had to have them.  The bottoms are dinosaur print, how cool is that?!

2. I can barely remember what it smelled like because it's been so long, but I've been wanting a November Rain candle from Yankee Candle for months.  Now that it's officially autumn, I've really been wanting this in my home.  I can't really describe a smell I can't remember well, but it reminded me exactly of a crisp autumn evening, maybe after a day of rain.

3. With the weather getting chillier and me having baths more often, Ceridwen's Cauldron luxury bath melt from Lush has been calling my name.  Everything in it just sounds wonderful - oats, cocoa butter, lavender oil, elderflowers, daisies, walnut oil and much more.

4. Another thing I've been wanting for a while are these Tan & Brown Ankle Boots from New Look.  They just look so perfectly autumnal, and also pretty unique.

5. This Caramel Faux Fur Short Jacket from Next is also really, really cute.  It's actually quite light weight and a perfect autumn cover-up for days when it's chilly but not quite wrap-up-or-you'll-go-numb chilly, so it's much more versatile than my fur coats.  Plus it's so soft.  If only.

6. I've been dying for a nice plum/berry/red wine coloured lipstick for autumn and Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Venom (available from Debenhams) just looks perfect.  I had wanted a MAC lippy for the longest time but going cruelty free sadly means that dream will never come true, but UD's lipsticks look pretty perfect too.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

plant baby update #1

In my last life update post, I mentioned my little plants and shared photos of them only a day or so after I planted them.  It's been over one month since I planted them now, and this is how they're looking:


Quite a difference if I do say so myself!  I'm a very proud plant parent right now, plus since I took these photos a few days ago they've actually grown even more!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

moving on.


It's a miserable day outside, but it's finally starting to feel like our new flat is actually a home.  We moved cities last week and it's been an ongoing project making the place feel... nice to live in.  Even now we're still struggling with various issues like our supposedly brand new refrigerator deciding to give up and let our food spoil, or trying to figure out how our damn heater is supposed to work.  Luckily, we won't need to latter for a while yet.

I'll post some photos eventually when everything's looking ship shape, but I thought I'd just post a wee update in the mean time.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

walkabout

Chris came to stay for a few days over the weekend.  Thankfully it cooled down for a while, if only for a day or so, and I managed to finally get out for a walk with my camera and there was plenty of insect life to be seen.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

the zombie saw: World War Z



Now, I've ranted about this movie before, waaaay before it even came out, when I'd found out about the changes that had been made since its first conception as a script.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by the result.  Be warned, there are spoilers ahead.

Don't get me wrong, you should not go into watching it expecting it to be like the book.  It's not really like that book, which was what was so disappointing to me when I first heard about the major differences.  The charm of Max Brooks' World War Z is the fact that it isn't 'just another zombie story'.  It's clever and it has depth and thought at a level that very few other authors ever seem to try and delve into.

The film, for a start, does not even involve the zombies as described in World War Z's accompanying The Zombie Survival Guide.  They are not slow.  They don't have a sixth sense that attracts them to humans.  Instead, they're sprinters and are only really frightening in that they were capable of building walls out of themselves, piling themselves up in frenzied attempts to get at their targets.  This really wasn't particularly scary at the start.

But then it started to get clever.  Some of them seemed to have a kind of group structure, with some behaving differently to the others, acting as sentries that call the others to 'arms'.  The way the virus behaved and the chink its armor was nothing like the book; the movie zombies do not bother to attack those who are already fatally ill and infected with some kind of disease that will - in whatever amount of time - eventually kill them.  They target only the healthy in order to better spread the disease.  While interesting, I suppose, I'm not too sure about this but eh, whatever.  It was clearly one of those things that was 'necessary' to make Brad Pitt's character look like a hero and make an end to the war seem like it had a more immediate, achievable end.

It had hints of its source material from time to time.  The reasons described for Israel's fast reaction to the outbreaks and rumours were reminiscent of the amount of thought Brooks had clearly put into modern and historical politics and warfare.

At the end of the day, it isn't the book, but it is still an enjoyable movie on its own.  It was tense and exciting and although there were a couple of moments in which the entire theatre was chuckling (chatter-toothed WHO zombie anyone?), there were moments that were serious edge-of-your-seat stuff.  Despite what I thought, I actually really liked it and I hope they make the sequels that they were talking about (as long as Segen is still in them, because every sequel needs a badass female Israeli soldier).

Just don't expect it to be the same as the book.  In fact, just disassociate it from the book entirely.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

and so reality begins.

Wow, it's been a long, long time since I posted on here.  Alas, I have neglected this blog for too long, and I've decided to start devoting more time to it again!  I kept telling myself all through last year that I wanted to blog more, that I wanted to practice photography more, that I wanted to write more and so on and so forth, and what better way to combine all of those than, you know, actually use my ~serious~ blog (vs my tumblr which is a essentially stream of consciousness combined with pretty pictures)?

Since I last posted, I handed in my dissertation, I completed my exams, and even got my results back from everything.  After a tough past couple of years, I'm thrilled to be graduating (officially this is on the 12th) and better yet, I'm doing it with a 2:1.  What with all the struggling and disappointment and depression and so on and so forth, I had almost resigned myself to getting a 3rd, so an upper second class degree is sure as hell more than welcome.

Now that university is finished with, I'm back at my mum's in Norwich until the boyfriend's Masters is about to start and we've found a flat up north, and I have a job to keep me busy and earning in the meantime.  It's tough to manage working 9 to 5 and still trying to find time to do things I enjoy, especially when most of my summer evenings are spent lying in bed sneezing until it hurts because of my horrible hay fever and the excess pollen that our evil, extended winter has provoked.  It has been nice to see the sun out for a change, though, and here are some summery bees to prove it.




I'm going to try and get this bad boy up and running again.  I don't know if I really have any followers anymore since Google Reader is now sadly gone from this world, may it rest in peace, but oh well!  Stay tuned for more posts as I attempt to assemble some kind of interesting blogging routine.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

an update & some snaps

I live!  Barely, with my life almost completely consumed by university.  The past several weeks have been non-stop hard work (and hard procrastinating) on my dissertation and the many, many other assignments I have to have finished for the next few weeks of deadlines.  But, come the 21st of May, I will finally be free of the shackles of academia for good!  Can't wait.

Aside from hunched over a desk staring down frustrating Word documents and Japanese texts, I spent a couple of days with Chris in Derbyshire for a bit of a getaway.  Unfortunately the weather decided to turn for the worse the day before we went, so it wasn't exactly ideal, but we had a good time and it was nice to get out in the great outdoors again.  I also had the nicest salad ever, with crayfish tails and prawns in it.  Yum.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

manchester museum

I've been wanting to pay the museum a visit for a while, since I hadn't been for a couple of years, and I finally managed to go today.  I'd made an attempt last week but as soon as I set foot inside, I promptly walked back out again - I'd forgotten that it was half term, and so it was full to bursting with little kids, parents, mothers with prams and so on (I don't like crowds, and I abhor mothers with prams because in my experience most of them seem to think that prams double as battering rams to use on pedestrians).  Today it wasn't exactly quiet thanks to a couple of primary school trips going on inside, meaning that I had to plan my route around them so to avoid the little kids running back and forth and bouncing around in awe of everything.  They did seem sweet, but it's a little frustrating when you just want some quiet alone time!

My favourite exhibits usually involve either taxidermy or fossils (or both), but I particularly enjoyed the section of primate skeletons this time.  I find them both disturbingly creepy and pleasant to look at, somehow.  (I also really love how my trippy unintentional self-portrait turned out below; I'd thought about scrapping it but the endless reflections of skulls and mine in the middle of it all seemed kind of cool.)



Sunday, 17 February 2013

homesickness & study abroad


When preparing to study abroad, homesickness is something that universities and colleges and what have you tend to mention, but their warnings never really extend to the level that they perhaps should.  When I was readying myself to go to Japan for my third year of university, I expected to be homesick or to experience culture shock, but my department and even internet resources did little to prepare me for the reality of the emotional rollercoaster I’d be going through for the entirety of my time there.

It’s something that, despite being a part of almost every long term experience abroad, has a really bad reputation.  Almost everyone feels it at some point or another, but even so, being homesick on a holiday or a year abroad is still, in some circles, almost seen as a failure on your part.  Even though on paper you have every reason to be sad (your friends, family, pets, most of your things, your old life are all in another place that you are currently unable to return to, you are isolated from your loved ones and support system, etc.) for some reason the fact that you are in a new city or a new country or culture is somehow supposed to negate these problems and result in the time of your life.

 Anyone who has ever been homesick and tried to communicate their emotional issues to loved ones has probably heard the same spiel; comments along the lines of “But you’re in [place]!”, “I’d kill to be where you are right now!”, “Oh, but you’re still so lucky!” and other attempts at positivity and reassurance that, while well-intentioned, never help.  To someone who is seriously homesick, these comments are in no way encouraging, rather they feel like you’re being told: “You’re supposed to be having fun, I would be having fun if I were in your situation, there is no reason for you to be unhappy.”  Being told by a friend that they would love to be in my shoes does not help me; it makes me feel as though an opportunity better suited to someone else was wasted on me.

The general theme with conversations on homesickness always seems to revolve around the fun you should be having, the fun you owe yourself and the people around you.  The reality, one that I wish I had been told when I was barely able to get out of bed and face the world in Japan, is that you don’t owe anyone anything.  Being given the chance to study or work or move abroad is a fantastic opportunity, yes, but that doesn’t mean that you are obligated to enjoy every second of it.  You are still a human being with human emotions and needs and desires that don’t disappear just because you’ve been given a once-in-a-lifetime experience on a silver platter.  Do you enjoy every single day of ‘normal’ life at home?  Do you have days where you hate the world and want to retreat at home?  Do you have moments where you wish you were somewhere else entirely at home?  Of course!  Why should being in another country make those feelings invalid?  I mean, on top of all of the normal emotions we experience, living abroad comes with a whole host of others, like culture shock and language barriers, that only add to the stress of your situation.  You are absolutely allowed to feel crappy, whether it’s for an afternoon or a day or a week or the entire time you spend abroad.  

Homesickness can take different forms in different people; some are lucky enough to barely experience it at all, while others can have their time abroad seriously dampened by it.  For me, it was almost non-stop.  For every good week I had, there was a week or a few days where I felt awful, and the longer I was there (thanks to changes in weather, routines, dorm mates and more) the worse the bad days became.  In my final month, I was barely eating both out of distaste for the only available foods available to me and due to depression, I was over-exercising, barely sleeping and had planned out every day of classes that I could afford to miss in accordance with the attendance rules so that I never left home more than I needed to.  I started having anxiety attacks, which I hadn’t experienced for years, and was intensely unhappy.  Had it not been for the wonderful friends I had made (who I also still love and remain in touch with) and the promise of returning home to my boyfriend and my family in the summer, I would have been even more of a mess.  More than once, I’d considered moving my return flight forward and screwing the rest of my classes and exams and essentially my entire degree.

I speak so frankly about this now because no one else ever does.  When I was desperately searching for stories of people who had felt the same as I did, who left their host countries feeling as though their time abroad had forced their life into an all-time low, that they felt like they had made a huge mistake, I didn’t find any.  All I could see were articles about how ‘my time abroad was the best time of my life’ and ‘my time abroad made me a better  person’ or parodies mocking the very concept that study abroad could ever be bad for someone. 

Don’t get me wrong, looking back I do not regret my time abroad.  Through all of the ups and downs and even in my frequent moments of utter hopelessness, I still benefited from the experience and would not trade it.  It made me stronger, and strengthened my relationship with my boyfriend, too.  If I went back in time, would I make the same choice to go knowing how I would feel during and immediately after?  Maybe, maybe not.  When I arrived home I returned with a deep resentment for the country and the difficulties it had put me through, but that subsided over time, and now I look at photos and reminisce and dream of revisiting all of my favourite spots there again. 

I had some fantastic days, met some wonderful people and saw some beautiful places, but it wasn’t all good.  The likelihood of it being 100% good experiences is incredibly slim, and it's even entirely possible to spend the majority of your time living in another place completely and utterly miserable, and you are absolutely entitled to.  Ignore the people who imply you ‘should’ be having the time of your life, who make you feel like a failure for having an off day, or an off week, or just spending the whole time feeling like you don’t belong.  Homesickness does not mean that an opportunity was wasted on you, or that you couldn’t possibly be able to enjoy yourself at all – it’s perfectly natural and just means that you’re going through the motions and attempting to adjust to a new life in a new place with new people and new everything else.  You are allowed to feel sad, angry, alienated.  Your feelings are valid.  And, even if you do feel awful most of the time, that doesn't mean that you still can't enjoy yourself or make your time there worthwhile.

How can you try to ease those negative feelings?  That depends on the person.  Skype calls to loved ones can help, as can throwing yourself into making new friends and being sociable in your new home.  Forcing yourself to get out and do and see things helps to take your mind off of your unhappiness and allows you to see your new surroundings in a more positive light.  Sometimes even just finding someone else who feels the same way as you and having a bit of a mutual rant can help to blow off steam and reassure you that you aren’t alone. 

You might also be wondering how to support someone who’s feeling homesick, given that I essentially shat all over the usual go-to responses earlier in this post.  The answer is the same for any other situation in which someone is upset for reasons beyond their control – let them know that you’re there if they need to talk, tell them that you’re sorry that they feel the way they do, tell them that they have every right to feel the way they do.  Talk to them about different things, things that could take their mind off of everything, chat about how you’ll be waiting for them when they come home and you can have fun with them then and the homesickness will all be a distant memory.  Don’t say things that make it seem as though their experiences and emotions are ‘wrong’ or that make them feel guilty for feeling how they do.

The bottom line is that not every experience abroad is full of sunshine and rainbows.  It can be the best time of someone’s life, but it isn’t always, and you shouldn’t feel like you have failed yourself or your loved ones for not enjoying it as much as you’re led to believe you should.  It can be upsetting, lonely, alienating and difficult and come the end of it you could even leave wishing you’d never gone in the first place.  And that’s okay.  Our experiences and our coping mechanisms are all different.  Just because some people visit the same country as you and don’t want to leave it and spent each day filled to the brim with joy doesn’t mean that you have to feel the same.  People are different.  Your emotions are always valid and you are completely entitled to feel homesick.  You don’t owe it to anyone to enjoy every second, and anyone who tells you otherwise can suck it.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Dusting of icing sugar


I woke up this morning to find that it was snowing, but predictably for Manchester, it didn't take long for what little snow there was to melt into slushy nastiness and only a couple of hours after I first noticed it, it's almost all gone.  How I long to live in a place where it snows properly!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Knee deep in water.

This is another belated post, but due to anticipating not having much to write about over the past few weeks (due to revision for exams, and playing Skyrim to procrastinate doing revision for exams) I decided to save it.

Anyone from the UK will probably be familiar with the bout of awful weather we had not long ago and the flooding it caused, and anyone who isn't, well, it rained a lot.  Contrary to popular belief, the UK isn't normally as bleak and rainy as people imagine (depending on where you live, anyway), but this winter it rained, and it rained like hell.  Even after crossing the country on the way home, I barely saw sun for two or three weeks.  You learn to expect constant grey weather in Manchester, but it's rare that spells of miserable weather last that long in Norwich!

A short walk away from my house at home is a field and some marshland.  On Boxing Day, one of the first sunny days in who knows how long, my mum and I wanted to make the most of it and go for a walk, and figured that the fields would be boggy but still accessible through some raised walkways.  Oh, how wrong we were!  As it turns out, those fields became a temporary lake - probably because the nearby river burst its banks - that was likely between knee and waist level in certain areas.  A couple of days later, despite more rain, it apparently all disappeared!


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Belated Holiday Post

I hope everyone had wonderful holidays, ate a-plenty and got all of the gifts they asked for!  My Christmas was relatively uneventful; it was nice to go back and see family and friends, but the more often I visit home, the more I realise that it's not really my 'home' anymore.  It seems as though something changes in between every visit, and I just feel so out of the loop (on top of bored, because there's really nothing to do there) that my being there doesn't feel natural, anymore.

Anywho, Christmas day was spent at my aunty's as per usual, and the atmosphere was a little strange but it was otherwise a lovely day.  Boxing Day was spent mostly with my mum, and then the next day I headed off to visit Chris for just under a week, so we spent New Year's Eve together.  It was strange to think that at that time last year, I was getting drunk with one of my best friends and dancing like loons in her bedroom in Japan.



I'll write about some of my gifts in a separate post (including the haul I used my gift cards for), but some other honorable mentions are my new iPod, an aroma diffuser and essential oils, more pants and socks that I really need, Rachel Allen's Cake recipe book, 150 Soup Recipes, 150 Salad Recipes, a blender, a new charm for my charm bracelet and some new Essie polishes.

And, of course, it was lovely seeing my cat again.  He seemed happy to have me home and kept pestering me to play with him every single chance he got.