A crazy August

My promise to myself of updating my blog every week this summer has uhh…not quite happened.  But I’m telling myself that’s a good thing – this summer has been so relaxing and after A Levels, that was exactly what I needed.

Saying that, last month was incredibly hectic and I think honestly I’m still recovering from it XD.  My emotions were all over the place and justifiably so – I was ridiculously happy to get into uni although my grades were a very bittersweet feeling.  Combine that with the early feeling of impostor syndrome and a building sense of panic about how unprepared I am for uni in terms of basic life skills, PLUS knowing that several of my friends are moving literally hundreds of miles away very soon, I was…a little bit all over the place.

I visited Durham with my family at the beginning of August.  Durham has been on my to-visit list for ages and I was really glad to finally get there!

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Zaps Burrito

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As you can see, the city is beautiful!  It felt much more like a town than a city – similar vibes to York, although it also seemed smaller.  We stopped off at Zaps burritos for lunch, and I greatly approved of their veggie choices: I had a sweet potato and halloumi combo and it was lovely (if unusual in a burrito).

I’ve also visited friends in Derby a few times this summer – I’m going slightly off-topic here since I didn’t visit at all in August, but over the summer I’ve been down 3 times.  If you’re ever in Cromford, a cute little village not far from Derby itself, I highly recommend popping into Scarthin Books.  My friend introduced me to this wonderful shop where every wall is covered in either books or art, and I’m so excited to go back again and buy some goodies.  There’s also a really nice cafe above the bookshop which serves vegan cake, if that is what your heart desires 🙂

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The view from Scarthin, looking over Cromford!

Back to August.  I’ve been on a few nights out and I’ve started enjoying them (and drinking too) – the realisation of this has massively surprised me! A few weeks ago I wrote on Twitter that I was worried I’d feel left out on Freshers’ Week because I didn’t really like drinking, but now I’ve found drinks that I actually like the taste of, I’m quite excited.

I went on holiday with my friends too, and whilst overall it was a great experience, it was definitely also a learning curve.  7 of us went, and we stayed in a town near Malaga.  At first I was concerned that having such a large group would mean that we’d split into two groups and before going on the holiday I felt that was a negative thing, but in reality it turned out for the best.  As it was a fairly big group, we could split up and still be safe and together, but doing whatever we want.  If you’re considering going on holiday with your friends next summer I would bear that in mind – for a lot of us in our group, this was our first holiday without parents so we all had different ideas of what we should do, but going in a larger group means that probably 9 times out 10, there’ll be at least one other person who wants the same as you.  Also, strength in numbers in case of emergency – one of my friends was mugged, and I’m so glad that there were a few of us so that we could help her as quickly as possible.

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This month I also went to Leeds Fest! I’ve wanted to go to a festival since I was literally about 10, and this was my first one ever.  Of course, being me, there was a whole drama – I can’t seem to do much without getting myself into sticky situations – and we ended up having to walk 7 miles to get to Bramham, in the middle of a heatwave.  Because of this we missed The Hunna, who I was really excited to see 😦 I’m not going to lie, I thought at first I’d wasted my money as the first few hours of being at Leeds Fest were kinda painful – it was about 30 degrees, the queues for water were so long and I was exhausted from the walk and annoyed about missing The Hunna, but when it cooled down I had the best time.  I’ve also found some of my new favourite music from going, such as Anderson Paak – I really loved his performance.  Blossoms were fab, Billie Eilish was amazing, and the beginning of the day just added to the overall adventure, I suppose 😉

I also took a trip to London with my family.  Normally we go abroad for the summer, but due to medical issues this year we couldn’t, although honestly I’m not that sad.  We had an amazing time in London – it was the perfect mix between doing all the touristy stuff and going to lesser-known places too.  We visited the Natural History Museum because I really wanted to see the giant moon installation there; we also embarked on our own Hugh Grant pilgrimage by looking round Notting Hill, and found his college in Oxford (which is about an hour on the train from London!).  We went to Greenwich and I bought some upcycled shirts from the market (extortionately overpriced, but I’m proud to say I haggled the price down a bit!) which has inspired me to try and modify clothing before shoving it in a charity bag.

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Little Venice in Paddington – you wouldn’t believe this is Central London!

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We’re over halfway through September now and honestly, it still feels like an indulgence not to be doing stuff every day.  August well and truly exhausted me.  I’m trying to get back to top form so that I can start uni on a high (and hopefully survive Freshers’ Week…).  I’m battling my way through my uni reading list and the books I thought I’d enjoy least are actually some of my favourites so far, which is very encouraging… I promise (and that is an actual promise!) to write at least 2 more posts before I leave for uni next weekend.

Hope you’re all fine and dandy,

X

eighteen

It was my birthday on Tuesday and since it was the big 18, I wanted to write a post acknowledging it and honouring my new status of ‘wise old person’. I’ve been in Madrid this week with my family and I also had a little celebration with my pals the week before, so this birthday has definitely been one to remember. I think that’s good though – honestly, in previous years, I’ve not made much of a big deal out of birthdays because I just didn’t have the friends to celebrate it, whereas now I have such a solid group of people around me. Also, I’m starting adulthood as I mean to go – partying and travelling 😉

This will sound morbid although it’s not intended in that way, but I never really expected to reach 18. I think when you’re younger, being 18 is equivalent to being an adult and somehow it never clicked that one day I would be an adult. I always felt like I’d be a child forever, and even though I can do pretty much anything I want now (sorry mum and dad 😉), I also still feel about 3 years old.

I’m going to stop rambling now and start compiling a list. I want my future self to look back on this post and think ‘wow, I was smart and down-to-earth and not embarrassing’, which is quite unlike how I see my past self. I know full well online (and often in real life) in the past I’ve put on this persona who is so dissimilar to me, and looking back now, I really regret doing that. I hope I’ll look back and think ‘wow, she had her shizzle together’, and therefore this post will serve as a reminder to get my future shizzle together. I hope I’ll look back and remember how much I grew as a person in my later-teen years and how much I experienced, and realise how much more I’ve grown in the next few years.

Me indulging in the last few hours of my childhood in Retiro Park, Madrid

Be yourself

Something I’m still working on, but something that in the last few years (in 6th form especially) has been so important to me. As I said before, I know I used to put on this cool, cocky persona to try and fit in, but I must have looked so embarrassing and ridiculous because cool and cocky are the complete opposites to what I actually am. I’ll be the girl in the library or the bookshop, reading or writing or listening to music, or the girl at the back of the classroom thinking about where to travel to next. Instead of forcing myself to be loud and assertive, I’ve started encouraging myself to be more confident, and that’s the way to improve. My problem before was that I didn’t have enough confidence to show the real me to my friends/classmates, whereas now (with a little bit of encouragement) I’m much happier being myself, and I know I fit in because I’m being myself.

Be comfortable with yourself

I’ve already mentioned it really, but you have to accept yourself before others can accept you. Had I kept projecting this cocky persona, my life would have been so different – I wouldn’t have the friends I have now and I still wouldn’t like myself, because I’d know it wasn’t really me.

If you’re not happy with something, change it

I’ve realised now that life is incredibly short and so you might as well fill it with happiness. I’m constantly trying to improve myself and make myself the best I can be and whilst I think I’m still quite a way off my ‘best’, it’s satisfying knowing that I’m heading in the right direction. And the same goes for school/friends/relationships – if you’re not happy doing a subject, change it, if you know your friends aren’t really your friends, change it – it’s hard, but you might as well be happy. Short term pain, long term gain.

You might as well do what you want to because life’s so short

A few of my points so far have been quite similar, but when my friend died aged 16 it really hit me how precious and temporary life is. Since then, I’ve realised you have to do things you want to do because tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Do what you love because you love doing it, instead of doing something because of other people’s views/what they want you to do/what’s cool

Again – be yourself. Do your thang in life for yourself and for your own satisfaction, instead of being told what to do. Make your own way, do what you want and I think that’s how you become happiest.

Fringes and frizzy hair don’t mix well

Not as profound, but still very significant. I never seemed to learned that my hair type doesn’t suit fringes and never will, because over the years I’ve had several cut in, each time thinking ‘oh it’ll be fine’. Spoiler: it won’t be fine and you’ll look stupid.

Educate yourself on important matters instead of believing everything you’re told

Something I still need to do more of. When I first wrote that, I meant what school/teachers and parents tell you (saying that, 99% of the time my beliefs are the same as parents – not because they’re my parents though) but then it occurred to me that this also applies to the news. Watching the news does not give you the full story most of the time and even when it does, a lot of the time it’s biased which is why I think it’s so important to research important events/happenings yourself and form your own opinion.

Don’t immediately assume you can’t do something just because you’re not good at it the first time around

Exams aren’t (and shouldn’t take over) your life

As you probably all know – because it’s all I talk about on twitter and on here – I have my A Level exams soon (my first one is a month today…:/). I handled my GCSE exams badly. I completely put my social life on hold, I very rarely took breaks because I felt so guilty when I wasn’t revising, my whole life was consumed by revision. I still remember the first night of summer when I just watched TV and it felt so amazing to relax, and to relax knowing that I didn’t have to worry about exams and grades for the next 4 months. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a perfectionist (very much so!) and I’m trying really hard to get grades I’m proud of but I know now that you need a balance. Even though these exams effectively determine the rest of my life, I’m not too worried about them; naturally I’m nervous but not to the extent of GCSEs (which seems counterintuitive since A Levels are undoubtedly more important). I know that I’ve tried so hard and hopefully my grades will reflect this, but working 14 hour days isn’t healthy or beneficial, and I don’t want to look back on my A Levels (like I did for GCSE) and think I spent way too much revising, and too little time having a life. I’m also just trying to make the best of exam season – yes, it’s a pain, knowing that I should be revising probably more than I am and naturally it’s a stressful time (not just with exams, with uni/social life/trying to book things for summer/getting ready to leave high school behind) but it’s so temporary. In 2 months I’ll have finished and I’ll be free, so I’m just giving exams my best shot but trying not to damage myself in the process.

The right people will end up in your life – don’t try to hold onto people who don’t want to be there

I’ve not talked about this at all on my blog and I’ve only mentioned it indirectly a few times on twitter but *drum roll please* I’ve had a secret boyfriend for the past 3 and a half years. Or (more accurately now) I’ve had a secret ex-boyfriend. Because we had been together so long, I really struggled when he said he no longer wanted us to be together and looking back on my messages to him in the days (and weeks, tbh) after he broke up with me I was so disappointed, to the point of looking desperate frankly. Partially it was just adapting to being on my own, but more painful was having to face the fact that it’s the end of a big chapter of my life – we’ve both liked each other since we met in year 7 (I’m not joking), started going out in year 9 then broke up around Christmas in 2018, which is a long time of being friends and being together. To not really have either of those things now feels odd and unnatural to be honest. I’ve started to come to terms now with it – I’m fine with being single, I just don’t want to lose him as a friend too, which unfortunately I think is happening but drifting is probably inevitable haha – and again, I’ve realised that wasting my energy wanting people who don’t want me back isn’t the best use of my time. Onwards and upwards! I’m looking forward to meeting some fit English Lit guys at uni 😉

If you fancy someone, tell them

Kind of related, but just go for it. You might lose a tiny little bit of dignity or pride if they say no but hey…is that really such a big deal? In a few years we’ll all be old and we’ll have forgotten all this – you might as well try.

Read as much and as widely as possible

Set as much time as you can aside for friends, family and self growth

I’ve tried to set a rhythm or formula to my life at the moment because with exams coming up every minute is important. 60% of my energy is concentrated on school, and the remaining 40% is focused on friends, family and self-growth (whether that’s a hobby, a new habit you’re trying to implement or doing something to better yourself). Obviously that’s not a hard-and-fast rule and it differs day to day, but I find it helps put into perspective what I’m doing and if I’m spending enough time/too little time on one certain area.

How short life is

It’s so bloody short!!! Do I need to say any more? I’m writing this post at the ripe old age of 18, but I was still in year 5 yesterday, I swear. I can’t comprehend it. Time flies, honestly.

The right decisions are sometimes the hardest to make

And additionally, the right decision doesn’t always feel like the right decision. I know full well that pulling out of my Cambridge interview was the right decision to make, but that didn’t make it any easier. However happy I am at uni, I think I’ll always wonder what my life could have been like, if I had gone to the interview and got a place (which of course is a massive if!!). I think if you can feel in your gut that something isn’t right though, you should trust it, because life has a weird way of working out.

Dreams can easily be goals, and are also not static

Linking on to the topic of Cambridge, last year made me reflect a lot on what I thought was my dream. I realised dreams can change, and can also become goals that are accessible. Since I was about 10 going to Cambridge University was my dream but actually, it was just that – a beautiful dream. A much more realistic dream is going to the University of York and it’s also completely my goal – just 7 exams and AAB in my exams between us 😉

Don’t be embarrassed to tell people about what you love doing

I’m such a big hypocrite for saying that because I love blogging, but I’ve told literally nobody that I do it. I think some people from school have found out but they’ve never mentioned it to me, which I’m perfectly ok with. When I first started, I didn’t tell anyone because we were at the age where doing anything creative or unusual was immediately uncool, which to me at the time was exactly what I didn’t want. Now I just like having a platform that’s completely separate to my school and home life. I’m sure people will find my blog and other social accounts and probably at uni I will be more open about sharing them, but I know that if it came to it now, I wouldn’t be embarrassed to say I blog. I’ve had some amazing things to come from blogging – new friends, nominations for awards and travel inspiration to name just a few! – and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Tie your happiness to places and things instead of people

Because people are unpredictable and can be rubbish, sometimes. However, places can’t let you down, and neither can pizza and chocolate…

I still have a week of my Easter holidays left so I’m going to try and get a few posts prepared for the next few weeks, including my Madrid travel guide. The next 2 months are going to be hectic and I’m going to be stepping up the revision a lot but that’s okay – it’s temporary and it’ll pass so quickly, I know that.

I hope everyone’s ok, and happy Easter!

2018 – what I’ve loved, learned, done and become

I say it every year, and today is going to be no different – this year has been easily one of the best of my life.

2018 has been packed full of adventures, achievements and amazing memories. I always feel really sentimental at the end of the year; I’m lucky to lead an incredibly privileged and exciting life and I feel so grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had.

What I’ve loved in 2018

I feel like this year was my “year of realising things”, in the words of Kylie. Particularly with regards to my taste in music, I’ve found the artists and genres I love, whereas in previous years some of what I “liked” stemmed from what was cool to like. One thing I have loved is this year I finally gave in to a free trial of Spotify Premium, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I became dependent on it! I’ve discovered Jorja Smith and Rex Orange County (both of whom I now ADORE) through using Spotify premium (honestly I don’t know how I’ve not discovered them up til now) and my love for The Wombats has resulted in me buying tickets to their tour in January, waheyyy.

I’ve fallen in love again with reading. Not that I ever fell out of love with it per se, but this year I’m head-over-heels for it. I’ve been reading a lot of classic literature this year, partly in preparation for uni next year but also just for fun, and I’ve found some of my fav books from doing so. I’m writing this post on 29th December so we’ve just celebrated Christmas – I was given 3 books as gifts, and then with some of the money I was given I’ve ordered 12 more from World of Books. 12. In hindsight maybe that’s a little bit ridiculous but I’m also SO excited to read them all. Another thing I’ve loved this year is buying books second-hand (I wrote a post about why you should buy pre-loved books which you can read by clicking here); there’s something thrilling in walking into a charity shop not knowing what you’re going to find, then coming out with 3 or 4 books you’ve been looking for for a while.

I’ve loved not having exams this year. I had mocks in July which I found slightly stressful (more due to their timing than for the actual exams, as I had various open days and holidays and not a lot of time to revise). Next year a lot of my focus is going to be on doing well in my A Levels, but this year, it’s been such a relief to not have to be revising intensely. I feel like I really needed a less-pressured year than GCSE year.

On a lighter note – TV! I’ve loved The Apprentice and The Great British Bake Off and I’ve watched some amazing films this year too; Paddington 2 was great and Mamma Mia Here We Go Again was incredible. Some of these films were watched with my friends – we had a cancelled alpaca trek so decided to go to the York cinema, then the film we wanted to watch was cancelled so we ended up on The Spy Who Dumped Me, which turned out to be fab. Mamma Mia 2 was also iconic; picture two rows of 17 year olds all bopping along and singing all the lyrics…amazing.

The long, frickin’ hot summer we had. I. N. C. R. E. D. I. B. L. E. It was 37°c whilst I was in Berlin – not good news, being a ginger. Saying that though, I love the heat and sun so I was flourishing in summer.

What I’ve learned in 2018

“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself extremely blest – blest beyond what language can express.” – Jane Eyre

This year I’ve concentrated on self-growth a lot. I’m seeing life as one big lesson, an experience which you can learn from and ultimately which will make you a better, more developed (and maybe more wise?!) person. I read somewhere that you should “fill your life with love” and I’ve decided, that’s going to be my motto for 2019. What else should you live for? Life is so short so we all really need to live for our loves. Mindset = everything. Let’s stay positive.

I’ve learned that worrying gets you nowhere helpful. In fact, it makes you suffer twice, in the words of Newt Scamander. I need to live life fully, embrace it and stop worrying because… I can’t think of any other (non-cringey) way to put this, I’m so sorry…YOLO. You only live once, so what’s the point in wasting time worrying?

You can be unapologetically yourself and you should be comfortable with that. It’s hard sometimes, but your friends and family should know the real you and not some version or facade that you feel you have to project. Be y o u, and be confident being you.

There’s a silver living to every black cloud. If something bad or unwanted happens, it’s to make room for a desired, positive thing.

Finally, I’ve learned that whenever I fall completely head over heels for a musician or band, they’ll always, always be on tour, meaning that I can’t get tickets to see them. It’s a nightmare guys, honestly.

What I’ve done in 2018

I’ve done a lot – I’m 80% sure on the night before I publish this post I’ll be frantically adding all the experiences I’ve forgotten to include.

Academics first. I sent off my UCAS Application to 5 universities. I received an interview offer from the University of Cambridge, and got offers from the other 4 unis too (buzzing!!!). I went on a road trip around Warwickshire and Herefordshire. I visited Shakespeare’s house. I saw a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company (The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich). I visited Amsterdam again. I also had a fab time in Den Haag, exploring a city that was completely new to me. I went to Spain. I made it onto Spanish TV (it’s only a glimpse but hey, it counts!). I explored Berlin, another city I’ve never visited before and, like with Den Haag, one I completely fell in love with. I was nominated for the UK Blog Awards *screeeeeams*. I’ve read some amazing books, and I’ve watched some incredible films. I’ve had my heart broken a lil bit, but I’ve also had some of the best times with my friends and family.

What I’ve become in 2018

I like to think that I’ve always been quite a calm, laidback kind of person but this year I’ve become more chilled. I’m trying not to base my moods on other people’s actions – for example, getting annoyed when people leave me on read lol – which used to really affect my mood. I’ve become more content with independence. I think I’ve become more time efficient?! I know now that you don’t have to be revising for every waking minute of the day, and that the key to maximising my time is getting rid of distractions and really focusing for shorter periods of time.

I think I’ve become stronger in terms of my fears. They have much much less control over me than they used to, and I’m so inexpressibly proud of myself for that.

My goals for 2019

  • Change the way I procrastinate – you might look at this and think “whatttt??? She’s encouraging procrastination?!” And yeah, I am in a way. It’d be unrealistic of me to say I want to stop procrastinating because we all know that that is literally never going to happen. Instead, I want to change what I do when I procrastinate. Normally, I’d just flick over social media for hours. In 2019, I want to do something productive but fun and relaxing, such as painting or writing.
  • Run more often – this isn’t going to be a hard resolution to complete, because I only run about once in every 6 months lol. I want to become fitter and I have no excuse not to run – and I bought some Grace Fit resistance bands so even if I don’t want to run, I’ll have something to do at home!
  • Keep up with my bullet journal

Thank you to my family for everything we’ve done this year, all the places we’ve visited and all the fun times. Thank you to E, B, M, G and D for being some of the best friends. I’m excited for our holiday next year (lol if we ever get one booked!!! C’mon guys!) Thanks to S for putting up with my existential dilemmas and constantly giving me life advice. Thank you M for always cheering me up, for providing mathematical memes I don’t have a chance of understanding and for always insulting my choice of subject. Thanks B for a great year and please, let’s do what we said. To A, thanks for being an excellent form buddy. Thank you to Z, A and N as well, for being amazing friends and people. You all constantly crack me up.

None of my friends or family know about my blog but sooner or later they’ll find it. And when they do, I’d like them to realise how much of an impact they’ve all had on my life. I love them and I’m so grateful.

Happy New Year!

state of mind

– photos from pinterest –

I’ve been musing a lot lately. Partly as a form of procrastination, but partly because I feel like I’m on the brink of a new start and I’m just waiting for it to happen.

These last few weeks, I’ve been focusing on trying to maintain a positive attitude at all times. Not just for my own benefit but for everyone who surrounds me, because we all need a little more happiness in our lives. Instead of sending typical snapchat streaks (yesss, I still have them, I don’t know if they’re still cool or not?!) of a black screen and ‘streaks’ written across, I’ve been sending my pals fun messages in the mornings. Motivational even, as some of them have said 😉 I’m feeling really motivated for life in general at the moment, and I really want to share that with other people. I find, when I’m feeling down, even a simple reminder that I’m loved, or that I can do something, helps me a lot so I’m trying to reciprocate that with others.

In time for the new year I’m trying to instil some habits on my life which I think the moodboard at the top of this post quite accurately summarises. I’m trying to set up a sense of calm before the chaos of next year by being present at all times, and really focusing on the here and now. I want to make sure I have a lot of fun in between revising for the dreaded e*ams, so next year I’m trying bullet journalling. As well as being a hobby, I’m hoping having a journal will motivate me and organise me (a win-win situation for everyone hehe).

I just feel like I’m in limbo at the moment – I’m working towards a goal that at the moment I’m 8 months away from knowing if I’ve achieved or not. Whilst I am trying to focus on the present enjoy every single moment of sixth form since it’s my last year of formal education, it’s hard, despite me being the most content at school I think I’ve ever been. In summer I have so many things to look forward to – seemingly endless time, travels with pals (hopefully!), days out to various cities. I want to learn about natural history and visit lots of museums and art galleries and stare into space looking at constellations but at the moment I just don’t have time. And I desperately want time. 17 isn’t going to last for ever and I want to feel like I truly made the most of it. Because then it’s 18, and that’s when the tough adult shiz starts. Everything seems to be in preparation for university – I keep saying things to myself like ‘oh, when I’m at uni I’ll join the gym’ (you guys need to hold me to that!!). It just feels odd to be working towards something so far in the distance but which is in reality not that long away.

This definitely has not been one of my most eloquent posts but I just wanted to put down my thoughts. I seem to be stuck in-between two phases of my life, not that that’s necessarily a bad place to be stuck: I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

Exploring Spain

3 weeks back into school and I’m really in need of some sunshine, so I thought this was quite a fitting post to write. I visited Benalmadena at the end of August and I won’t lie, I had some preconceptions – I was imagining an English-tourist-ridden place with skyscrapers right next to the beach, but I was very pleasantly surprised!!

I want this to be primarily a photo post, because I feel like words can’t do the entire holiday justice to be honest, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • We hadn’t planned it at all but we found out that La Vuelta (the Spanish equivalent of the Tour de France) was passing through very near to where we were staying, so we decided to go and watch that – we made it briefly onto Spanish TV too which is cool!!
  • Benalmadena is split into 3 sections – there’s the coast, the Pueblo and Arroyo de la Miel, which is where the station is. We visited all three; the coast, obviously, was beautiful despite the sea being approx -8°c, the Pueblo was a pretty little traditional whitewashed town, and Arroyo de la Miel (which literally means Creeks of the Honey – how cute!!) had a lovely market, shops and restaurants. I had the nicest tapas ever there in a bar called La Alternativa – defo recommend.
  • We took a cable car up to the top of a mountain!! I think it was around 800m high and the tracks passed right over one of the motorways. It was a little bit terrifying but definitely worth doing, the views are incredible.
  • Being able to wake up, go to the window and see the sea from my room was ridiculously cool. Everyone should be able to experience that, it’s the best thing to wake up to.

A life update

At the start of the summer holiday I said to myself that I was going to upload a blog post every other day 😂 whilst that hasn’t happened, rest assured I have been doing equally important things.

I’m currently in Spain on holiday and having such a good time, but I just got the urge to write something – a form of procrastination? Yes. I’ve brought some books I want to read for school as well as for my personal statement but ya know, it’s the holiday…I don’t have a lot of motivation right now. Anyway, blogging/writing counts?? I take 2 English a levels, surely it’s at least a relevant form of procrastination!

It’s Saturday as I write this, which means I have one week and 2 days left of the summer holidays, and I still have a lot to do. However, I’m also promising myself (and vowing that I will definitely not break this promise!) that I’m going to write at least 2 posts before the end, as a mini back-to-school series. I’ll definitely do a study-oriented Q&A and I have a few ideas for another post, but is there anything you’d be interested in hearing my opinion about? For context, I’m studying in the UK and about to go into year 13, and I study English lit, English Language and geography and I took my GCSEs last year. Leave me a comment, I’ll answer it regardless of whether I also write a post about it!

I bought my first bullet journal the other day and I’ve got to say, I’m possibly too excited about it. As soon as I get home (I didn’t bring it with me) I’m going to start setting it up because I just can’t wait until 2019! I’m hoping it’ll provide some motivation throughout the year and give me an accurate record of what’s possibly going to be the biggest year of my life – the year I turn 18, sit my A Levels and go to uni!

So…next year. I’m disappointed in myself, to be honest, that I don’t post on my blog more than twice a month or so, and I’m going to change that. Next year is going to be more pressurised but I also need to bear in mind that I’m allowed to switch off from school and indulge in hobbies, and therefore I’m going to be making a really conscious effort to post at least once a week. I think I’ll have a set day where a post will go live and then there may be extras throughout the week, so watch this space 😉

I’ve also set up a new Instagram account which may be a little drastic but I was just feeling a bit trapped with my other – if you’d like to give me a follow, you can find me @avo.cara.

Hope you’re having the best summer!!

Boilin’ in Berlin

Hallooooo, wie geht es dir? (As they say in Berlin)

At the moment, if you asked that to anybody, whether tourist or resident in Berlin, their reply would be something along the lines of “bloody hot”, or the equivalent of that in German. I thought I’d learned to adapt to the heat since we’ve had an actual heatwave here in England, but throughout our entire trip the temperature was constantly about 32°c in the daytime. Pffft.

Incessant and suffocating heat aside, my trip to Berlin was lovely – it was a holiday, after all 😉 – but unusually for a holiday, it also was really quite a depressing place to be. Wherever you go in the city you’re reminded of the atrocities that took place there, some of which only happened in very recent history, and that was quite a terrifying thought. There are hardly any older buildings, because of course they were bombed in the war; the only old ones you’ll see are commemorative ruins (such as the Anhalter station which was used to deport Jews) or new buildings built in an older style.

Our hotel overlooked the Ministry of Finance and a huge tethered balloon, so that was pretty cool. We were about a 10 minute walk from the Topography of Terror (one of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall that’s still in nearly perfect condition that’s now been turned into a museum) and, in the other direction, Potsdamer Platz (where the Mall of Berlin and first ever traffic light are located!) so our hotel really couldn’t have been much more central. On the first day we wandered over Potsdamer to the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate (obvs – if you want to find the tourists just go to Brandenburg). The Reichstag is home to the German government and there’s a huge glass dome on the roof that you can walk up, which would have been made much more enjoyable had it not been 37°c outside; it felt like a huge greenhouse lol.

We went also to the East Side Gallery, the longest section left of the Wall (which was knocked down only in 1989, how scary!!) that now has been turned into a graffiti art exhibition, so that was cool. Around a mile’s walk from the East Side Gallery is the Molecule Man statue which, if you can be bothered (it felt like a lot longer than a mile, although maybe it was just the heat) is really interesting – it’s basically just a sculpture in the river but it’s funky. I recognised it but I couldn’t think where from, but when we’d got back to the hotel I remembered; there’s also one at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which isn’t too far from where I live!

If you have a spare 3-4 hours and are willing to spend those hours in a museum learning about Hitler’s rise to power and the War, I definitely recommend you visiting the Hitler – How Could It Happen? museum – one of the coolest/most nightmare-inducing parts of the whole museum is that it’s held in a WW2 bomb shelter with walls 4m thick. Despite being more interested in arts and humanities subjects I couldn’t help being engaged in the museum; it’s so terrifying to see how such a huge amount of people could be indoctrinated, and the victims of this.

I’ve only been to Germany once before in my life, and that was on a coach to Austria so this holiday was pretty much my first impression of the country. Everyone we spoke to was so friendly and nice, and also the food was amazing (and really cheap!) if you’re ever in Berlin and looking for somewhere to eat, I recommend:

• prinz bistro, near Anhalter bahn (I had a halloumi doner kebab!)

• Berlin burrito company – I think there are two in the city but the one we visited was near the Rosengarten

• grand rocka cafe is definitely a more touristy choice – it’s in the hackeshe markt, for a start – but their spinach pizza is literally everything omg

• nafi’s is a hidden away Iranian restaurant which I think is more residential than tourist but nevertheless the food was amazing!

Have you ever been to Berlin, or would you like to one day? I think there’s a lot more to do so I’d definitely like to return one day!

Cara xx