30/10/12 - "Not all who wander are lost" - JRR Tolkein

Although I am very much a homebody, travelling is one of my favourite things to do.  Not even just the excitement of exploring a new place, meeting new people and eating new food...but the actual act of travelling.  Train journeys are where I get a vast majority of my university work and reading done because I don't have the distractions of the Internet to put me off.  Just me, my iPod - I can't travel without my tunes - and whatever work I have to do.  I also find it relaxing to just sit back and switch off for a couple of hours.  No one can expect much of you when you're sitting on a train.  It's a nice way to escape.  For this reason, I'm really looking forward to the coming month.  Although it's a bit depressing when I think that between now and Christmas, I only have one weekend where I don't have plans...and that's next weekend.  From then on, my life gets a little insane.  I'm going to be missing out on lots of quality time with my lovely housemates, and spending a lot of money on trains tickets.  Both of these things make me sad, but I know I'll still have fun.

The furthest afield I'll be going is Edinburgh which is one of my all-time favourite cities (I actually applied for the University of Edinburgh - needless to say, I didn't get in - and just ordered a postgraduate prospectus for there), but my mind is already straying ahead.  One of my least productive yet favourite pastimes is looking at train and plane tickets to various places...just to see how much the little excursion would set me back.  This is usually just a time-wasting ploy and tends to show me how unlikely any trips would be in the near future.  However, the other night, I stumbled upon some flights from Liverpool to Dublin for the first weekend in January...for £36.  Return.  Less than £40.  That's cheaper than it is for me to get the train to London over the same weekend.  And it got me thinking.  

Because I'm normally a 'play it safe' kind of girl.  Despite my parents' belief, I can actually be quite sensible.  I wish I were more spontaneous and occasionally I can be...but as a general rule, I like to stick to what I know.  However, the one thing I do tend to do is book random trips.  Two years ago (wow, time flies!) I went to Paris for a few nights with one of my closest friends, Rachel.  I don't remember how far in advance we booked it, but it was fairly spur-of-the-moment.  And it was an incredible trip - the perfect memories for me to take to university with me.  And she's like, my travelling buddy...we've been to London together a few times as well as Edinburgh, plus Berlin and Paris more than once.  So why not go to Dublin in January? I'm really tempted and even if I ended up going alone, it would be an adventure.  I'm not the kind of person who needs to go to specific tourist attractions or have activities to fill each day.  I am perfectly happy to just wander around and look at stuff, soaking up the atmosphere of the new place.  I'm never happier than sitting in a cafe with a good coffee and a good book, watching the world go by.

Loving life in Edinburgh...with some roadworks.

Feeding the birds in the Tuileries Gardens

I wouldn't say I'm a restless person.  I'm perfectly happy staying in the same place for months on end.  I don't really have a choice.  But when I do travel, it always make me want to do more of it.  And the more I think, the more I want to do it.  I want to see the world.  I want to ride a Greyhound bus from one side of America to the other.  I want to wake up to a view of the Great Wall of China or the Rialto Bridge or the Empire State Building.  I want to celebrate the Day of the Dead in Mexico and Diwali in India.  I want to live in a list of at least five different cities which gets longer every time I think about it.  I want to be able to sit and read in the Tuileries Gardens on a regular basis - it's basically my happy place.  I want to drink beer on an Australian beach and sip cocktails in a swanky bar in London.  I want to travel around Europe with only a backpack and a camera and a notebook.  I want to write about everywhere.  I want to understand the world.  We'll see if that ever happens.

I'd love to hear about your favourite places to travel to.  Pop them in the comments - where's your favourite holiday destination, and where would be your dream place to visit?

26/10/12 - RED - Taylor Swift

Anyone who knows me knows my feelings about Taylor Swift.  I adore her to an almost obsessive capacity.  The amount of times I find myself whining the words, "But why aren't I Taylor Swift?!" is genuinely embarrassing.  She is potentially my favourite person in the world (friends and family excepted).  She's just beautiful and talented and...I could go on, but I won't.  

Anyway, you can imagine how excited I was for her new latest album RED which came out on Monday 22nd October this year.  I pre-ordered the two disc deluxe edition from Play.com and my lovely housemate Charlie, who shares my love for Taylor, and I were ecstatic when the CDs arrived on the Saturday before the release date.  Top tip: pre-order things you really want, because they tend to dispatch them early in order to ensure that you get them on the release date.  In my experience, this can easily result in receiving them early!

Ever since it arrived a week ago, I've been listening to it pretty much constantly whenever I'm in my room.  It's a brilliant mixture of upbeat poppy songs and the more mellow acoustic numbers that are typically associated with Taylor.  There's still a country edge to a lot of the songs, although they're not as overtly countrified as her previous albums.  I personally find this album really easy to listen to straight through, even if the tone is fairly different and more mature than some of her previous work.  I don't see this as a negative thing at all and the people who do, don't seem to have much of a grasp on reality - she's not a teenager any more, obviously her music is going to mature as she does.  If it didn't, I imagine people would complain just as much about that.

My favourite songs are the really fun '22' and 'Stay Stay Stay' as well as the duet with Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, 'The Last Time'.  Unfortunately, the last one is a song which seems to have been slated a little by other reviewers but for some reason, I really like it. Other highlights are 'Everything Has Changed', a duet with the wonderful Ed Sheeran, and one of the deluxe edition bonus tracks, 'Girl At Home', which shows Taylor rejecting the advances of an attached suitor.  And of course the super-catchy, 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' which I'm sure has been stuck in everyone's heads for weeks.

Although it's not my favourite song on the album, 'Begin Again' has an amazing music video which, in my humble opinion, is one of Taylor's best.  And the guy in it is pretty fine as well...

In case you can't watch the embedded video for whatever reason, you can witness the beauty of this video here.

I'd love to hear what you guys think of the album if you've listened to it!  Are you a big Taylor Swift fan?  Which is your favourite song of hers, off this album or of all time?

24/10/12 - The Liebster Award!

A huuuuuuge thank you to the lovely Laura for the nomination - go and check out her wonderful blog!

This award is for new bloggers with less than 200 followers.  The rules are as follows:

  • Each person must post 11 facts about themselves;
  • Answer the 11 questions the tagger has set for you;
  • Choose 11 people and tag them in this post;
  • Follow the tagger and visit the blogs of at least three nominees.

11 Facts About Me:
1) I'm addicted to American TV shows - Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, New Girl...can't get enough.
2) I have very strange taste in celebrity crushes.  My housemates think I'm insane.
3) I gave up eating fish at the age of 14 and I really miss it sometimes.
4) I cry very easily.  Particularly at films.
5) I hate being at university sometimes, because there is nowhere to buy sushi here.  And there's no Pret A Manger for miles.
6) I am terrified for life after graduation.
7) I will never fully understand football.  I've tried.
8) I always get exactly the same thing at Subway.  And it's essentially a glorified cheese sandwich that I could make at home.
9) I play the violin and the ukulele, used to play viola and like to pretend I can play guitar.
10) I don't tend to have 'favourite' things, I have a shortlist of at least five.
11) I have an addictive personality - I can't just like something, I have to obsess over it.

The questions Laura asked me:

Do you speak any languages?
Just English, unfortunately.  I gave up all languages as soon as I hit GCSEs, but I would love to speak French or Italian.
Why did you start a blog?
Honestly?  For something to do.  I like writing and hope to make a career of it one day, so it's just something I really enjoy doing.  And it's a chance for me to get all my thoughts out of my head, or I'd go insane.
Name 3 of your favourite music artists
Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Katy Perry.
If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you want to live?
A shortlist of Paris, New York and London - all cities that I adore.
What is your least favourite thing about blogging?
I occasionally struggle to think of things to write about, and now that I'm back at university, finding the time can sometimes be a bit tough.
What's your favourite thing about blogging?
Just the freedom to write about whatever you like and the support from the blogging community.  And I find it a relaxing break from university...something that enjoy doing but that is also productive.
If you could only have one make up item, what would it be?
Black eyeliner, no doubt.  Liquid, gel, pencil, felt tip pen...I don't care.  I feel naked without it.
Who is your biggest celebrity crush?
Oh, the list stretches on and on, and it changes day to day.  At the time of writing this...Ed Westwick.
What is the thing you like best about yourself?
Very difficult question.  I like to think that I'm quite a loyal friend, sometimes too much.  But that's a nice thing to be, right?
Top 3 blogs you like reading?
I always get a little flutter of excitement when I see a new post from The Londoner or Carosello.  I also adore A Beautiful Mess for eveything from recipes and DIY ideas to fashion and home decor posts.
Where do you live, and do you like it?
During the university holidays, I live just across the river from Liverpool and I must say, since not living there, I've appreciated it a lot more.  The nightlife, the restaurants, the theatres...amazing.

My questions for the people I'm tagging:

1) If you could be any celebrity, who would it be and why?
2) What is the worst film you have ever seen?
3) What is your guilty pleasure?
4) When was the last time you went to the theatre?
5) Where do you see yourself in ten years?
6) Who is your biggest inspiration?
7) What is your accent like?
8) If you could get any tattoo, what would it be?
9) What are you being/what were you for Hallowe'en?
10) Favourite quote?
11) What is your most-used beauty product?

I'm tagging:

The Fall and Rise of Rachael Gilbert
Sunshine and Showers
West End Musings
Turn to the Music
The Lazy Fashionista
The TARDIS in my mind
Pale Girl Reviews
London, Paris, Hull (and Biarritz)
Sei Bella

19/10/12 - Book Review: 'The Lover's Dictionary' by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan is something I'd been hanging my nose over for a while before I got it for my birthday in July.  It's a lovely little book which tells a 'love story through 185 definitions'.  Each page starts with a new word, in alphabetical order and formatted like a dictionary entry but without your usual definitions, as such.  I devoured it in a total of about an hour divided over two days, and it's such an interesting read.  I've honestly never read anything quite like it and would recommend it to anyone.  Literally anyone.

Levithan's anonymous narrator takes you through a range of emotions throughout the book, which is impressive considering the lack of linear plot and the amazingly few number of words utilised.  I don't think I've ever found the emotions of the peaks and troughs of a relationship from start to finish so accurately and beautifully described, but the quality of David Levithan's writing is staggering.  It's romantic, heart-breaking and just a wonderful portrayal of the lows and highs of a realistic relationship - none of this Hollywood, sugar-coated rubbish.  This is real life; it's messy, painful, dysfunctional...but it's also thrilling and exciting and elating.  It reads like fragments of a brutally honest diary and spans from hilariously silly to devastatingly heart-breaking, sometimes simply with the turn of a page.

Levithan has the ability to make even the most mundane and supposedly straightforward of words mean something beyond what you could have imagined.  And the most impressive thing is the ability this book has to be totally universal.  While the nameless narrator is shown to be a man, the other half of this anonymous couple is never given a name or even a gender.  This book is purely about emotion.  While it details the relationship of a specific couple, it is immensely easy to get totally lost in your head at the same time.  I imagine that if you asked a number of people who had read this which their favourite entry was, everyone would have remarkably different answers.  Because I believe that this book will mean something different to everyone who reads it.  I suspect that if I were to reread it in six months, or a year, or two years, I wouldn't find myself experiencing it the same way again..


Have you read this book, or anything else by David Levithan?  If so, leave your thoughts in the comments, along with any book recommendations you might have - I'm always on the look-out for new authors or titles!

13/10/12 - A much overdue update!

So I've been a bit rubbish at writing on here recently and it's because I've been really busy.  Crap excuse, but it's true.  I'd forgotten how many distractions there are at university.  I only actually have an average of five hours of contact time a week, but when you add to that reading, writing up notes, society rehearsals and meetings, nights out, getting ready for nights out (often more fun that the night out itself), food shopping, trips to the gym, cooking, watching TV (a very important pastime), doing laundry, reading blogs, occasionally cleaning my room...it's a tough life being a student!  And frankly, although all those things are all lovely (some more than others), they're not exactly blog-worthy.  But I have quite a few exciting things coming up - once November is upon us, I am busy every single weekend between now and Christmas.  Which is crazy for me, as I normally spend most of my time sat in my bedroom and watching repeats of Gossip Girl.

But I have at least two trips to the theatre on the cards (probably reviews to follow if they're any good), and quite a few bridesmaid commitments.  I don't know if I've mentioned it, but my beautiful cousin Sarah is getting married in December and I am one of four bridesmaids.  I am so excited!  I have never been a bridesmaid before - I nearly was when I was about fourteen, but that didn't end up happening - so I am really relishing all the fun stuff that goes along with the responsibility -fittings and the hen do and all the jazz.  But then on top of that, I have essay deadlines, a handful of birthdays and a super exciting weekend in Edinburgh to plan for.  And I haven't purchased train tickets for any of these ventures yet.  Oops.  That'll be an expensive day when I sit down to sort that out.

Anyway, this has been a really quick update; I am currently working on two more blog posts which will be up soon, and hopefully when I start doing more exciting things, I'll have more to write about!  Let me now in the comments what you've been up to, and if your new term has been as hectic as mine has!

02/10/12 - A very funky Friday night

I am not the kind of thing that exciting things happen to.  Probably one of my most used phrases is, "I'm so jealous!" as people tell me about the amazing experiences and opportunities they've had.  So I love that I actually have a fun story to tell, for once!

Friday night was one of the oddest yet most brilliant nights I think I've ever had.  It started off with a few quiet drinks in my Student Union, kitted out in Performing Arts executive committee T-shirts, ready to welcome any new members.  That was great - getting to chat to new people, finding out that there are actual boys who want to join (a change from the all-female society we were last year) and just having a laugh.  Sitting and talking to a load of strangers can be quite a weird experience anyway, which got weirder when a handful of us decided to move into Asylum, the SU club for a silent disco.  If you're not familiar, everyone is given headphones which have two channels, giving you a choice of which DJ you listen to.  Then you pop them on and rock out in your own little world.  I've never heard a club so quiet - other than the noise of stamping feet and people singing along badly.  It was really surreal.  The people we were there with were a really good laugh, but we didn't realise until afterwards that, of the five new recruits we were out with, we only knew two of their names.  Still unsure of the other three.  Bad Social Sec.

When it hit midnight, Rosie and I had a decision to make.  We'd been torn all week over whether or not we should bite the bullet and go to an event at Welly (a wonderfully disgusting dive closer to the centre of town) on this particular night.  It was pretty pricey to get in, and Welly isn't usually a Friday night haunt of mine, but this night was different.  Craig Charles - of Robot Wars, Red Dwarf and Coronation Street fame - was DJing a funk and soul night, and we decided we couldn't miss it. Until this week, I never realised what a secret fan I was of funk and soul music...but it turned out I knew most the music he played and the atmosphere was brilliant.  It wasn't too full - which is nice, as it's normally packed to the rafters with wasted students whenever I go - and it was a slightly older crowd, but it was really cool.  We staked out a good spot, to the side but on a step, as soon as we arrived and just soaked it all up.  I tried to get some photos, but the smoke machines in the club always make it impossible to take decent pictures.

See?  Poor.

From here, things started to get more exciting.  A man in a suit came out of the door to backstage (which had been very busy with people going in and out) and Rosie approached him.  This is where is pays to have friends in high places - as the Deputy Editor of our student newspaper, Rosie has some serious blagging power.  To the point where we were taken through the backstage door and, as it's only a very small stage and 'backstage' is basically onstage behind a banner thing, onto the stage with Craig Charles.  It was such a great experience - watching the crowd dancing and singing along, Craig really psyching them up with his energy and brilliant music, the people backstage with us all grooving away as well.  We chatted to the tour manager who was lovely, and a rapper/DJ from Indianapolis who gave us his Twitter name...which I have forgotten.  He seemed nice anyway.

After the set, we were told that Craig wouldn't be able to do any kind of formal interview-type thing, which was understandable as it was getting late and he must have been knackered.  Not to mention the copious amounts of vodka he seemed to have consumed, if the bottle behind the decks was anything to go by.  But we were told that if we hung around for a bit, he'd be out when he'd cooled down a bit and got changed to take a few photos.  So that was cool.  But it was about to get cooler.  We waited out in the main club with a few other fans who wanted photos, until Rosie and I were ushered through a door and up to the dressing room.  At this point, I was seriously pinching myself - these kinds of things just do not happen to me!  I know this won't seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but I'm a big Coronation Street fan and have been practically since birth...so this was pretty exciting!

Craig Charles was so lovely - obviously tired and a bit out of it, but such a genuine guy and didn't object to having his photo taken and having a little chat.  I hadn't realised that he had an international DJ career, but apparently the best place he's ever played a gig is Croatia!  And I thought he was just little old Lloyd from Corrie.

The best nights are always the ones you don't plan, and this is one of the best - and most random - nights I have had in a very long time.  Unfortunately, I doubt I'll have any stories quite this interesting to tell any time soon.  If you've met any celebrities or just had a crazy good spontaneous night out, tell me about it in the comments!