Life Begins Again

Almost one year later and I’m back!

I’m writing this in that fuzzy Saturday morning cocoon; completely resembling Homer Simpson being a toasty cinnamon bun, and not feeling an ounce guilt for it. Until I get overheated or need a wee that is, and then the moment’s broken..


So university happened. I finally graduated in June 2016 and spent a gorgeous few days in the Highlands afterwards. I consumed my body weight in whisky-cream porridge and homemade cakes, and it was a lovely last hurrah to my Scottish life.

I also found a job at the end of May in customer service, something I’m still working in, but isn’t quiiite the Job For Life we imagine in our younger years. It did however, introduce me to some really great people. My kinda people, and also not my kinda people, but it’s all a learning curve and I’ve made some brilliant memories.

I made a best friend. You know in your twenties, when you’ve done the school thing, the college, the university, and you’re blindly thinking you’ve met everyone under the sun and that this is it now? But something, or someone happens. You realise you’re in fact wrong; you Do carry on living, you Are continuously meeting new people, and you’ll Never stop growing as a person. Meeting someone I now refer to as my soul-sister and part-time wife has been the biggest blessing. We discuss the current political (crises?!), the newest memes, the latest boys and our religious views all in the same lunch hour.

She’s a good egg and has helped open my eyes to the fact that life doesn’t stop after university, and actually I think it’s once that hedonistic blur is over and done with, you can then truly begin to establish who you are and what you want from life. I don’t think that journey of self-discovery ever really ends though..

So I’m back and I’m bad as they say (bad at er, keeping regular on the ole blog), but better late than never.

I’m excited to get this up and running again, so watch this space…..





Turning New Circumstances Into Opportunities

Let’s rewind a few weeks. I was looking towards my final year at university, I was thinking about the work that would be required, the hours that would have to be put in, and the prospect of getting to know 4 new people who I would be sharing the same living quarters with. Everything was pretty calm, apart from the periodic meltdowns of trying to decide a dissertation topic (let’s not go there, but I’m almost sorted now), and I thought about how aside from academic chaos, my life would remain subdued, steady, and stay-in-every-night serene.
Fast forward a few weeks, and, as predicted I’m shuttling head first into the academic chaos, but the quiet days in the library, and quieter nights in with my own company? Not so much. You see, I do like to see friends and catchup, but Me, Myself and I do just fine too. Let’s discuss the somewhat minor changes in life though, that have got my comfort zone a little shook up…

  1. I’m living with guys for the first time at university. Us two girls are outnumbered, so learning to deal with putting the seat down on the toilet every. single. time. is a new forte of mine, as well as finding conversation topics that aren’t just about girl things, or banal chats about our course (because no one else is studying English Language in the flat). They’re not the most talkative of folk, but figuring out new people’s personalities and what gets them chatting is always a good skill to improve upon.
  2. I’ve joined a society for the first time in my whole university career. Whoops. Albeit the English Language Society, so I’m not exactly stepping outside my box into a new one coated in glitter and rainbows, but it’s something. My pals have taken over the Board which means the society is going to be properly up and running, holding regular gatherings and meet ups over cheeses and wine. Mmm. We had our first in fact last Thursday, a good old Glaswegian subcrawl, made up largely of Freshers and the odd fourth year dotted here and there, but all in all it was a great night. I actually went out without the guilty conscience of “I should really be spending this time wisely and reading up for class.” There was nothing. I was genuinely excited to get out and get boogying and meet tonnes of new people. Luvly.
  3. Honours courses mix third and fourth year students together, so I’m constantly meeting and greeting new faces who I never knew existed before this term started. This, along with not being in a class with one of my closest course friends for the first time in honours, means that again I sit next to new people and have new stories to hear and old ones to share. The fact that there seems to be an abnormal amount of English/Northern English folk in third year this year makes me a happy Larry, and provides great chat and knowing smiles as we compare stories of what it’s like living in Scotland. Group presentation work which is a rarity in English Language also calls for new interactions and understandings of personalities you mightn’t normally sidle yourself with. See. I’m growing up!
So to round up, I think making the decision of saying goodbye to old flat mates and living with brand new people this year has turned out to somewhat be a blessing in disguise. I was always looking forward to getting to know people from different cultures because I love plaguing them with questions about their language, foods and customs, but rather than sitting in the fluffy security of having known my flatmates already, and therefore not bothering to be very social and going out in the evening, I’ve had to make my own entertainment, leave the confines of the flat to actually see people I know, (and meet new people to get to know!) and that has been brilliant. 

Here’s to fourth year then! Having originally thought it was going to be the hardest year of my life, and hey, I’m not disputing that thought, I reckon it’s going to be one of my favourites. Only now am I letting myself get immersed (well, perhaps it’s more of a dipping-of-the-leg in the water rather than just a toe), into university life, BUT as the saying goes: Better late than never.


Are you yet feel properly get into uni life and still mostly living it through the academic side of things? Maybe you’re already there and absolutely loving it? It’d be great to know.

Playing Tourists – Newcastle

4:55am wakeup. 6:50 local train. 7:43 Leeds train to Newcastle. 9am-something I have a second breakfast of a Gregg’s sausage roll, and Mum and I make our way towards the city centre. We meander up and down the famous Grey Street, as we point out gorgeous architecture to one another and mumble on loop “I really hope it doesn’t rain,” in defiance of what had been forecasted. (It didn’t rain a bit and our luminous rain coats proved a surefire way to find one another in the crowds of people, if we were to have ever got separated.)

In the morning we spent a good while in the beautiful Fenwick’s department store, largely spent with me pointing out all of the beauty brands I know and love, and together admiring the stunning rails of designer clothes.
In Debenhams I ate a lunch of spicy, vegetable, coconut, Asian soup and bread roll, whilst Mum devoured a giant scone. Feeling the headiness of walking round and round the same shop floors, we headed off for some air that wasn’t perfume-scented towards the University of Newcastle.

Fun Fact: we first visited Newcastle in 2011 for a university open day. We were all impressed by the incredibly grand red brick buildings and I did love the uni, but didn’t feel I would be able to achieve the grades to get in. I did..) We wandered up through the central grounds, past the students’ union building which is quite breathtaking, reminiscing about our first visit, comparing it to Glasgow, and taking a well earned rest on a bench with a bag of cherries we’d bought at a street market stall. 
Suitably revived we headed on over to the university’s Great North Museum: Hancock, largely dedicated to taxidermy and Ancient Egypt. I LOVE TAXIDERMY. Understandably it may completely freak people out, but it gives you a chance to see extinct, rare and still-existing animals up close and in awe of their beauty and size. Some of my favourite stuffed critters were the bison, the British and tropical birds and the fighting stags.

The entry to the museum is free, with plenty of toilets, a café and a giftshop, and is well worth a visit if you’re experiencing cabin fever with your little ones in the holidays. Everywhere we looked were little kiddiwinks running around shouting in excitement, trying to take it all in in a blink of an eye.
In need of another revival of energy, we sipped hot drinks in the uni’s Northern Stage Theatre bar/bistro called Mckenna’s. The interiors were exposed brick and lots of thick-cut wood dining furniture which was super snazzy and reminded me of New York. (I’ve never been to New York, but it had that vibe…..)
Having consulted our map we continued our ramble towards Leazes Park past the Royal Victoria Infirmary where we watched an air ambulance land on the hospital roof(!) The park is a good sized metropolitan oasis with a fishing lake, tennis courts and preparations for the Transplant Games, something we had never heard of that were to take place later. 
After a good walk round inhaling the clean(er) air, we discovered a small circular of houses, again built in that gorgeous brick that we just don’t have in the architecture back home. I snapped a photograph and Mum and I headed back towards the city centre for a wander around the colossal, heavenly scented Marks and Spencer food hall and a few other shops.
The Laing Art Gallery was our final tourist destination before dinner. It also has free entry and an exhibition currently on children’s illustrated classics. 

A quick mooch around H&M was finally followed by a complete over-indulgence of Pizza Hut pizza and their unlimited salad bar. So naughty, but so good. Just about able to place one foot in front of the other, I hefted my doubled body weight down through cobbled streets towards the River Tyne. On the way we passed the cathedral, the castle itself and through the Black Gate, the last addition to the castle’s defences.

Finally, we made it to the Quayside, walking across the river on the red and white Swing Bridge, before walking alongside the water and finishing at the Millennium Bridge opposite the mirrored snail-shell music venue of the Sage Gateshead . We were just in time to watch it tilt to allow a party boat to pass and hear the operators bellowing at pedestrians to hurry on over which was quite amusant.

Back in 2011, we’d stayed in the Jury’s Inn just opposite the iconic BALTIC Mill, now a contemporary art centre and had watched the same tilting at night, when it was lit up in multicolour. Having eventually crossed over the Tyne again, we finished our epic day out back where we had started it, at Gregg’s. The funny thing is, we’re not exactly Gregg’s regulars, and I would far rather support independent bakeries than vast chains, but we were in need of pudding and a hot drink before the train at 8 o’clock at night, so we shared a raspberry cupcake and a YumYum, before boarding our 20:27 Northern Rail carriage back home.
The final note I must add is that the North East folk are the nicest people! All of the sales assistants/waiters/general Geordies were incredibly happy, welcoming and seemed to just enjoy life. Which are surely the best people? I recommend travelling to the Tyne if you’re in the mood for getting a good balance of retail therapy and culture. I also hear the nightlife is pretty alright too.. 😉

ps. Have you ever visited Newcastle and recommend any cool places to check out? We planned our trip on a budget, so didn’t try any of the well-rated restaurants I’d spotted on TripAdvisor, but next time, maybe I’ll hunt them down 🙂

Eat – Exercise – Pin – Read – Listen – Watch #1

Eat – Homemade leek and sweetcorn soup, tomato sauce based dishes with cauliflower to bulk. Chocolate raisins, chocolate peanuts. Healthy eating is slightly out the window for the time being…. Bear with.

Exercise – Has been completely off due to revision (yes, yes it is not really an excuse.) I wake up at 5:45am, leave the flat at 7, and after a day in the library and consequently more revision after some chill and food time back home, I have no desire or motivation whatsoever. But I am noticing the (not-so-good) difference this is making to my body, so cannot wait to properly get. back. on. it.

Pin – Ottolenghi’s famous carrot cake recipe ohsweetsugarygoodness, ITG’s guide to Bianca Jagger’s makeup on her wedding day. My eyes are particularly drawn to all things wedding at the moment because a couple of weeks ago my best friend got engaged to her boyfriend! Frantic Weddings Board pinning thus commenced. One Year Into Work – a great article by a post-grad giving the low-down on what to expect from interviews and the job itself.

Read – Do revision notes count? 😉 Sorry, sorry I keep wanging on about it. I haven’t been reading any books of my choice for a long time, but on the web I’ve still been keeping up to date with my Bloglovin’ feed. I’ve especially enjoyed Into The Gloss’s 5th birthday celebration of all their Best Beauty Tips from over the years and Caroline Hirons’ fantastic no-nonsense, streamlined guide to what you should look out for and avoid, according to your skin issue. 

Listen – A week ago I discovered Grooveshark had shut down. Completely. I was about to merrily log in at uni to add another song to my huge collection, and there it was. A vast canyon of nothingness. Thankfully a Twitter pal informed me of a Reddit feed which showed you how to access your music collection through relatively easy coding. I have my main collection now stored as a Word document, but have completely lost all my Favourites and playlists; most heartbreakingly of all, my beloved PPPPARTY playlist which was jam-packed full of the best “going-out” rave beats. A sad day.
Instead, I’ve been trying to make the most of dodgy ready-made Youtube playlists and commercial radios. I’ve been listening to Kisstory for a while anyway, and they have served as a good getting ready/pre-drinks soundtrack in the past, but XFM having really been hitting the spot lately. Particularly in the evenings playing quietly in the background as I work. I rarely listen to music when I do study because it’s very off putting, particularly if vocals are involved. Good ole XFM however has just the right kind of vibe that drawls away in a hazy indie cloud. When set to the correct volume, it proves to be great company whilst I scribble down memory tests and spider diagrams.

Watch – I’ve still been keeping up with my Youtube subscriptions, but have had to click on through quite a few because the minutes they all rack up take away the minutes I should be spending studying. One channel though, whose videos I have particularly adored, and never scrolled through to get to the end are Casey Neistat‘s. The film-maker began to document his life by uploading short, daily video clips of what he gets up to in NYC and beyond. Never failing to include an intimate close-up of one of his many life-mantras or motivational chats, Casey’s content is exactly what I need in my life right now.

This is a new feature. An accumulation of the past month or so’s goings on in my life and the world around me. It might become a monthly thing, or just simply the odd sporadic post of when I feel like I might have some sort-of-interesting notes to share.

What have you been up to then?


ps. I got a haircut! Back to a lob (long bob) Feeling so much better for it. Woop woop

In The Thick Of It

Long gone are the days of lazing around, watching endless documentaries on catch-up, reading blogs for hours and feeling pretty guilt-free about that. In more recent times I’ve been watching the endless documentaries, reading the blogs and feeling completely guilty about it all. Well, kind of. That time existed more in the nice limbo period once teaching had finished and Spring break began. Now it’s pretty much full study steam ahead.
Yep; exams are a-comin’. Alll aboaaard!
My days now aren’t structured around lectures and tutorials, but instead I have to create my own scheduled breaks amongst the new revision routine, and that in itself is a double edged sword. I love being able to structure my own days and weeks, particularly if everyone else who isn’t at uni are groaning about hump day, and I decide Wednesday is my weekend and take a well earned day off. But then again, it is revision we’re talking about here, and if we could choose between days off or having our brains boiled in the library we all know which one we’d choose. 😉

Since returning from my Easter hols my diet hasn’t really been the toppest notch. I’ve been getting back to eating lots of veg, fruit and wholegrain/brown carbohydrates again, but along with a whole packet of mini chocolate bars mum secretly packed in my bag, and Tuesday’s trauma of just about reaching Tesco’s check-out before a huge crate of discounted bread and cookies completely blocked my path, commanding me to put a bag of reduced cookies for 55p into my basket, I sure haven’t helped myself get back on the health track. Darrrrnit!

I’m frustrated with myself because over Easter I basically undid all the hard work I’d put in whilst at uni in properly working out, and so now I have even more to burn off on top of the previous padding (fitness update soon. Ish.) HOWEVER, at the same time I can’t scold myself too badly because I, and I’m sure several hundred thousand other teenage-20 somethings are going through exactly the same feelings and decisions.
We all know exam period is a messy, uncouth time for our bodies and brains, inside and out, but treats get us through the slog of memorising case studies and motivate us to finish those practice essays. Right?..
Where am I going with this? Who knows; I’m certainly not advocating an overconsumption of sugar, but I’m also letting you know you’re not alone if you’re struggling with procrastination or feeling racked with guilt at the sight of the empty junk-food wrapper lying cold and ashamed, broken on the floor bin.
Sometimes it’s okay to have a packet of biscuits for tea, and it’s definitely okay to take an evening off to engage your brain in some other activity, that isn’t stimulated by uni/school work. 
Just keep going, get back on it the next day, and never, ever give up!

Are any of you currently studying for exams? Or are those days long behind you and you are now reading this with your 2.4 children and secure dream job by your side? Oh blimey.


ps. If you noticed my Natalie Imbruglia reference, 4 cookies for you. Kind of epitomises exam period really doesn’t it? 😉

A Week In Photos ~ Easter

So I came home from uni last Wednesday night, and I go back to uni tomorrow morning. Since then I’ve put on a nice extra layer of body “wadding” from eating triple the daily amount I usually do, made some lovely memories with family and friends, and soaked up some glorious, completely unexpected sunshine. 
I take several photographs of things each day. I don’t even really bother to get the composition right, I miss out the corners of objects,they’re often blurry and certainly not taken at the most aesthetically pleasing angles. But I am totally fine with that, because I’m desperate to live in, and enjoy the moment, so I’ll whack out my phone, snap once or twice a shot of my meal, or the view from the top of the hill we just walked up, and then I’ll put it down, and devour the food, and take in my surroundings. Appreciating, but on a kind of fast motion scale.
I take the photographs because I want to go back and savour the moment, now a memory, the next week, the next year, the next day, and remember how delicious that strange food concoction was, a visual recipe for me to go back and recreate again someday.
Here are (some) of the pictures I’ve taken, each with an anecdote about why what was captured was special to me:

Waking up to somewhat greener surroundings on my first morning back.
Mum and I headed out for a gorrrgeous walk later that morning, exploring a hidden away hamlet and house-nosying. The blue sky gave me happiness like no other.
Left-Right: Finally got my mitts thanks to mum on Essence’s hazy, tropical ombré blush. Cheap as chips and a work of art. 
Sunbathing in my room a little later in the week when the sun properly came out to play. I opened my huge window wide and tried to sunbathe. 
Because a hot chocolate with marshmallows should not be confined to the seasonal restraints society has placed on it. 
A snap of another walk with ma and pa. Daffodils everywherrre. So lovely.
The photo below the egg and coffee was captured at my friend Emma’s house where we, and our other pal Amy ate enough crisps and chocolate to stock our bellies up for a year. Along with wine and other bevvies, it’s safe to say I made up for the sugar I cut  out  of my diet when I’m back at uni.
Taken on daffodils-walk. The first day it became properly take-your-outer-layer-off warm. This lil hang-glider was having a whale of a time.
Ahh, finally some proper food shots I hear you say! 
Top left-right: Steak & red wine pie, mash, veg. 
Last lunch of the holiday! Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, olives, grapes, apples, strawb yoghurt and probably a few other bits and bobs nestled in there. 
This lamb wholemeal wrap fandango was incredible! Lamb, lettuce, sweetcorn, tomato, cucumber, peas, sweetcorn, mint sauce, sweet-chilli sauce, and something else I can’t remember.. The rice was amazing, cooked and mixed with gravy – I KNOW, what an invention.
Easter Sunday’s lunch bowl of banana, strawb yoghurt and broken up easter egg. 
The final walk of the holiday with mum. She’d been up here recently, but I hadn’t ever walked around where we did. Over the holiday I developed the worst cold imaginable, (thank you family 😉 ), but getting out in the fresh air does you the world of good! A lovely afternoon spotting lambs, rabbits and pheasants. And more house-nosying.

A lil montage of revision shots. Left to right: A slice of my brother’s leftover pizza after breakfast/before lunch. I honestly eat everything and anything, espesh when it’s free, and something that I never eat in my usual uni diet (cheese, white carbohydrates.)

Left – right: FINALLY met the latest addition to our family; a 1927 Singer sewing machine. Dad got it to sew patches on, and mend his biker gear. I’m obviously also going to be having the time of my life with  it in summer.
First lunch out in the garden. Ginger beer, banana, Emmental on oatcakes and the usual salad.
Below: Last supper before heading off. I assembled this absolute bayeauuuty of a lasagne, again something I never had at uni. Glorious, whilst reminiscing with family about past-neighbours memories.
The shot from my wonderfully, unbelievably quiet train carriage heading back! My half was completely empty up until a couple stops before Glasgow, and amazingly, my whole table enclave was empty! Nothing worse than being squished up around a table trying to work. Especially the TransPennine ones. Oh TransPennine..
How did you spend your Easter? Did you get a day off, a week, or currently on Spring Break/Easter holidays? I’m currently on my “holidays” in the ever-dreaded-but-also-quite-enjoyable revision period! First exam is Wednesday 29th April. The memories of Easter and the memories I’m going to make as soon as I walk out of that last exam hall, will be what keeps me going! Oh and food.
Always food.


When You’re Bogged Down With Work

Now that, guys and gals, is an enticing title. This post a one or two days later than when I would usually publish a blog post. I’ll be frank and tell you why; more has been on my mind than thinking up ideas for blog posts. Cue sharp intakes of breath as the unspoken, unwritten, confession of a “kind-of-blogger” is uttered. My brain is swelling with new information, old decaying information, endless projects and report write-ups, friend-worries, appearances-woes and everything else a 20-something female student might be experiencing in her non-stop life. 
So of course, whilst gulping tea and watching a documentary on government surveillance (that has absolutely nothing to do with my uni work), I’m going to channel these worries into constructive ideas and advice (for myself mostly), on how we can better the situation, and get through it together! Digs out a banana skin from the bin to have a home-made pom-pom cheerleading session.

  • Cabin Fever – I never have been able and still can’t write essays in my uni room. I can study, as in revise and highlight notes, and hammer down a few words when I’m nearing the deadline, but generally when it comes to sitting down facing the impending doom of an open Word doc to tap out endless lines of goodness-knows-what, it ain’t gonna happen. I fidget and look around my room for non-existent snacks, refresh my Bloglovin’ or Youtube feeds, and wonder whether any scandalous status’ have been posted on Facebook. Nope, just more baby photos. So then I’ll make the upmost effort to find something else to procrastinate with..
  • Solutions  Get out that ruddy room! This is why I spend 90% of all study time in the library or labs. I choose a Silent Level, but still with sufficient background noise of computer whirs and paper shuffles. Everyone else (pretty much) has got the same game plan. We’re all there for the same purpose, we bounce off each other’s work ethics and feel if they can study in this place for 6/7 hours a day, I can too.
  • Now I know this isn’t feasible for everyone. Maybe you live too far away to travel to the library, or, like several of my pals, you’re the complete opposite of me and have only stepped foot in the “L” word a handful of times because trying to working in that kind of alien environment is nigh on impossible. Try simple changes: If you usually study in your bedroom, try moving your workspace to the dining room table. If you have the motivation to go to the library, but once you get there it’s all down hill, try another level, maybe one with more background noise and comfortable furniture. Sometimes I can work well when I’m not in a studious, academic environment but one that still allows people to be in their own little zones, acting as your accountables. Yep – coffee shops, park benches, the student union are all good changes of environment.

  • Procrastination – The reasons for, and solutions to this overlap with Cabin Fever. But similarly to my previous posts on beating the winter blues and getting ready for Spring, sometimes all you need is just an influx of oxygen on a brisk walk outside and you’re good to go, mind sieved and cleared once you’re back sitting in front of your work. 
  • Sometimes we give ourselves too hard a time when it comes to study. I’ll often come home from a tiresome day at the library, have tea, catch up on social media and then immediately feel guilty for not working. ‘Ang on, you’ve just done a solid, productive day’s work of study, you’ve fed and watered yourself, switched off the part of your brain that requires constant thought and alertness, and you’re feeling guilty? If we all worked 24/7 we’d be living zombies and it’d actually end up being counter-productive. Give yourself a break! (Literally), and congratulate yourself on knowing that you’ve done your best and ticked off all the goals you wanted to smash for that day. 

  • This Too Shall Pass – Of course when we’re in the here and now, living the hell and not yet in the balmy, beach holiday of retrospect, the present can feel like a pit of never-ending doom. But we can apply this phrase to every aspect of our life. How many times have you looked back on a rubbish part of your life, weeks, months, maybe even years later and thought, hey, in the grand schemes of things that wasn’t all that bad. I’m still here, my life wasn’t endangered, I pulled through just like everyone else, and we’re all absolute troopers! It’s quite nice to reflect on the bad times because you know that they’re in the past, you’ve moved on, and are constantly learning and building on how you can make the future a somewhat less painful place.

Well I could ramble on all day couldn’t I? Perhaps I’ll do another post further down Exam Alley on what I do physically to help me revise and make the most of my precious study time. We’re all different, we all learn and study in our own ways. But remember, we’re all in this together, you’re not experiencing this alone, and you most definitely won’t be the last.


ps. it’s definitely okay to treat yourself once you’ve achieved something, no matter how big or small the accomplishment. A square of choc or a trip to Cadbury’s World, they’re what truly keeps us motivated 😉