In 5 Fridays films

5 Comfort TV Shows

A while ago, I watched a video by Lex Croucher where she discussed the TV shows that make her feel better, and it really resonated with me. I completely understood her when she talked about the healing power of TV (no matter how ‘good’ it may be). 

1. Downton Abbey

Watching Downton Abbey has become a kind of de-stressing tradition for me now. This started when I first watched the show during my GCSE year during exam period. At that point, I’d done all the revision that was going to be useful and when I came home after an exam I would pop on an episode or two and chill out. I don’t quite know what it is about the show that makes me calm (there are most certainly episodes that aren’t so calm. Everyone knows thatdinner scene where I think Hugh Bonneville made absolutely everyone jump out of their skin), but it does the trick just fine and oh I love it so. I actually own the first series on DVD now secondhand, so I’ll have it with me when I move out, and I’m sure it’ll come in very handy. 

2. Lovesick

This show is the one on this list with which I am most recently acquainted. It’s a Netflix original and so far, there are only 2 series of out (I really hope another one is on its way). The premise in itself is enough to make you laugh: the protagonist, Dylan, gets chlamydia and each episode is the story of every girl he has slept with as he calls them up to warn them. The timeline is revealed in small pieces as we jump to different years if Dylan’s life and we see the plot unfold. My favourite part of this show, though, isn’t Dylan’s development – it’s the rest of his friends’. We see Evie, , and (all of whom live together at some point or another) grow just as much if not more than Dylan and I think it’s their dynamic as a group that really makes the show unique.

3. Death in Paradise

I can’t count the number of times I’ve rewatched the different series, only made easier by some them being made available on Netflix. I probably know the plot to each episode (or at least most of them) by now, but it’s one of those shows that I keep going back to, I hink partially due to its Scooby-Doo-like predictability. I will stand by my opinion that its most recent series has gone to shit, but the first few series I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. 

4. Brooklyn-99

This show holds a very special place in my heart. I’m going to write a separate show on its cultural significance, but you’ll have to wait another day for that. The jokes never fail to make me laugh, even when I know they are coming and could recite them off by heart, and never rely on any harmful stereotype or preconception. They are even more hilarious when taken out of context (BOOST MY BOTTOM – I’M BOOSTING!!!!!). The group dynamic and chemistry is on another level, with all the characters having well-formed and healthy relationships with each other (let’s mention the distinct lack of toxic masculinity here people) and the diversity of this cast is second to none. I cried when it was cancelled and I cried when it was taken back up. I cannot wait for season 6. 

5. Game of Thrones

Oh god I love this show. Perhaps it’s not as relaxing as the others, as I’m sure you are aware of its reputation for violence, sex and plot twists. However (please hear me out here), I love the characters so much and love rewatching the episodes time and time again so that I notice new details, or watching a specific series after I’ve finished reading one of the books so that I can compare contrast and analyse. How am I going to cope when it’s over??? (trick question: I’m going to keep rewatching and crying until the end of time and my face has shriveled up from the water loss)

What are your go-to chill out shows?

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In Monthly Wrap Ups

June 2018 | Monthly Wrap Up

June, you have felt kind of surreal. (Sorry this is a bit late! Hopefully you enjoy the post anyway…)

Favourite part?

I think it’s pretty obvious my exams weren’t the best part, but they they’re over and done now.

The best part of my month definitely has to be holiday to Ireland with my three best pals. I did a whole blog post about it so I won’t go into full detail here, but I couldn’t have thought of a better way to start my summer holidays!

Before that though, I had a lovely few evenings out with my friends celebrating the end of our exams. It was lovely to have some time with them without the stress of exams hanging over us.

A few days after returning from Ireland, I spent a day in London. A spent the afternoon mooching around Covent Garden and Charing Cross Road, making sure to stop off at Foyles bookshop – one of my favourite places in the world.  

I spent that evening in the Southbank Centre, at an evening with Caitlin Moran, hosted by Gemma Cairney, where she discussed her new book (the second in a trilogy, following How to Build a Girl), How to be Famous. It essentially turned into a discussion on feminism, Britpop, masturbation and girl gangs. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to meet Caitlin and for her to sign our book, and I still can’t believe that I met one of my first feminist idols and told her that, I too write about my vagina on the internet. 

Best read?

As you can imagine, at the beginning of June I didn’t have a huge amount of time for reading. However, I did read Henry VIII: The Quest for Fame by John Guy as a less strenuous way of cramming for my Tudor exam. I also read The War on Women (and the Brave Ones Who Fought Back) by Sue Lloyd-Roberts, published posthumously and finished by her daughter Sarah Morris. This book is incredible. It made me cry, feel hopeful and hit me in the gut. I urge everyone and anyone to read it. Sue Lloyd-Roberts is definitely a person whose work I’m going to look more into – her writing is so concise and full of knowledge she really hits home her point.

I also read I Knew Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. I have always loved Maya Angelou’s poetry, she captivated me as soon as I read one of them for the first time, even more so after having listened to her recitations of some of them on YouTube. Again, this book cut through me. It was visceral, and beautiful and heartbreaking and I can’t wait to read more of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies. 

Favourite tunes?

ABBA (as always). But Stevie Nicks has my back on late trains back from London. 

Favourite watch?

Paddington 2. I laughed, I cried. I will cry every time I watch it. I also watched Rebellion on Netflix and would highly recommend. The characters were all so interesting and complex and I do love a bit of historical drama. 

I feel like it goes without saying that I, like the rest of the UK, is currently watching Love Island. I am in love with Jack and Dani, and as you can imagine, I detest Adam.

What did I learn?

Not having structure is horrendous. I need structure. I now have nothing to fill my days and am so completely grateful for the days I have work. 

 What’s happening next month?

The first half is a little bit empty, but the second half is jam-packed. I’m going to Paris, I have family events and I’m going back to Wales for a couple of weeks.

What’s been on my mind?

Well, for the first couple of weeks I was focused on my exams. They take over your life and as most of mine were on consecutive days, I didn’t have much time to switch my focus from subject to subject. 

Later on, I kind of stopped ‘thinking’ so much. It was nice but also kind of difficult to have nothing at the back of my mind. I’ve been thinking more about things I actually want to be doing, like writing, reading and furthering my own activism.

Favourite blogger/vlogger?

ScreenPrism. I live for video essays on my favourite films and TV shows. I love them so much and I think they’re also a great way of keeping my mind on literary analysis through the summer without any stress and actually enjoying it. 

I have also watched a load of zero waste and, oddly, list videos with random facts about the royal family. Don’t ask me about the second one, I honestly have no idea… In regards to zero waste channels, Sustainably Vegan and Madeleine Olivia are some of my favourites. 

Favourite post?

I actually have a choice this month! I think my favorites would be my very first What I Eat in a Day and my Ireland post. I love food and cooking, and I really enjoyed putting together my What I Eat in a Day and I definitely want to do more in the future.

Biggest inspiration?

I don’t know to be honest with you. I felt a bit stagnated for the past week, partially because I’ve been ill but mostly because I’ve had nothing to do with my time (which, as a statement, I know is not really true there’s loads of stuff I could be doing, I just have done yet). 

Any other favourites?

My new sunglasses! They make me feel a cool feminine (hopefully less problematic) John Lennon and I am living for it. 

If you liked this post you might like: May 2018 | Monthly Wrap Up

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In review vegan

By Chloe | Review

In late June, I had a short day trip to London – one of my absolute favourite places to be – where I went to a book event by Caitlin Moran at the Southbank Centre. As normal, I put in a brief search into Happy Cow to find some new vegan place to try out. The one that drew my attention was By Chloe – an originally American store chain which has only relatively recently come over to Europe. Happy Cow told me that their food was cheap, 100% vegan and right near the Apple Market in Covent Garden, perhaps one of my favourite places to go in London to just sit and relax. Let’s just say, if there’s any chance of me getting great vegan food right after or before watching street performers (my favourite are the string groups who regularly play there) then I am in. 

The first thing that struck me about By Chloe was the design of the place. I loved the layout, the colours and how everything was presented. It looked really cool and relaxing and was the perfect place to escape the sun and heat during the odd British heatwave. As soon as I walked in, I felt comfortable and that was only improved by the staff, who were all lovely and didn’t mind me being a little flustered by the heat. 

As for the food itself… Well, what can I say? It was bloody delicious. 

I ordered the large Mac and Cheese, which cost me £6.60, and a watermelon-raspberry juice which cost me £2.75. The Mac and Cheese was amazing. It was rich and had a just enough spice, it was so cheesy I completely forgot that it wasn’t made from cows’ cheese. My only qualm with it was that it was a little sauce heavy and I think that a slightly little less sauce and a bit more of the shitaki bacon would have gone a long way. I was very full by the end, obviously a great thing, but I think next time I go for a lunch or a smaller tea I’ll have the small with extra ‘bacon’ (extra bacon was £extra) Mac and Cheese – although first I’d love to try out the rest of the menu! 

Environmentally, I’m not going to lie I think they could do better. They had made efforts in certain areas, with their disposably cutlery being wooden and with paper straws instead of plastic. However, as you can see, they did serve everything in disposable containers (most admittedly biodegradable, but with food all over them it’d make it difficult for it to be recycled. Next time, I’m going to bring my own container and cutlery and hopefully they’ll be okay putting it in there (I have few doubts that they’ll be fine with it). 

Something that also surprised me about By Chloe was that they have a water fountain! I think the staff member I asked about filling up my water bottle thought I was stupid or oblivious but I simply didn’t realise it was there. It’s just to the left of the counter, around the corner near the bins and sauces. I think that’s a great resource to have, and I’ll be sure to pop in in the future simply for that feature if I’m nearby.

Another very convenient feature about By Chloe was the amount of plug sockets available. I was in need of a charger (I had 20% left on my phone at 3:30pm) and when I saw the plug sockets under the seats I felt like falling to my knees and crying out HALLELUJAH right there and then. 

I realise this review is perhaps maybe more me gushing about my new favourite place to eat in London, but I think this company deserve some recognition for what they’re doing, and if I can provide just one person with a relatively cheap place to get loads of vegan options then I consider this post very much worthwhile. 

Overall rating: 9/10.

Happy eating!

If you liked this post you might like: Vegan What I Eat in a Day | Exam Season

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In travel

4 Days in Ireland

This time last week I was preparing to go on my first holiday of the summer. Three of my friends and I went to the south coast of Ireland, on the edge of West Cork in the little village of Glandore for four days, where we stayed with one of my friend’s family (all of whom I am slightly in love with now). 
We first arrived on Thursday evening, having had our flight delayed by about a half hour, and stocked up on what was clearly way too much food than we needed. Thursday happened to be the summer solstice, so with a few ciders in tow, we headed to Drombeg Stone Circle for sunset. There was a steady flow of people and after a look around and laying a flower in the middle of the circle, we perched ourselves at the top of a hill, where we could look out to the sea on the horizon and the families and friends milling around about the stones. The sunset itself was a bit of a nonevent, but nevertheless it was a great night and perhaps the first time that I’d truly felt relaxed for a long time, definitely since the beginning of exam season. 

After the stone circle, we returned to the Glandore and towards the pub, the Glandore Inn. There, we tried a cider local to Kinsale and danced and laughed on the sleeping road surrounded by electric table candles whose reflections twinkled on the edge of the Atlantic.

We woke up mid-morning on Friday. I cooked my signature cinnamon toast with raspberries, strawberries and maple syrup for breakfast – the most I’d ever made of that particular dish – and it was met very well by my friends. Before the afternoon got fully underway, we were treated to a lovely lunch at a small restaurant called Hayes by my friend’s nan. They easily adapted their menu to be vegan in addition to their pre-existing vegan options.

To me, this day was defined by kayaks and the outdoors. Lugging a kayak each down from the house to the harbor, we took them out around the jagged cliffs, looking down to the seabed through the water which could almost have been glass until we reached a small rocky beach. Here, we met some very friendly dogs and sunbathed shortly before returning back for tea. 

That evening, we headed out to Lough Hyne, where we again took to kayaks, except this time in pairs. Originally, the intention was to see the bioluminescent bacteria that lived in Europe’s only saltwater lake, but the night was clear and bright so we could only see it faintly (we did see it briefly in a cave nearer the sea) so instead, we went through the rapids and out onto the mouth of the sea itself so that the horizon and water merged as one and it felt that we were about to tip off the side of the Earth at any moment. 

The next morning, we went to the town of Skibbereen, where a weekly market is held. This market really surprised me by its diversity and openness to the reduction of waste and anything vegan – incredible! – and we spent much longer milling about there than I think we intended to, but that was no issue at all! I bought quite a few items, everything from a second hand dress and necklace to a completely biodegradable toothbrush and whiskey marmalade. The vegan options were everywhere; we couldn’t believe it. There were at least 2 all vegan food stalls (and there were very few food stalls so I think we were actually in the majority) as well as an all vegan and refined-sugar-free chocolate stall. Our jaws actually dropped when we saw the chocolate. 

From there, we visited the secondhand bookshop, The Time Traveller, filled with all sorts of treasures from 2 battered copies of Mary Barton (which I bought) to 75-85 signed books by Kate Millet and Margaret Atwood and whole signed sections of Noam Chomsky’s personal library. We stayed there for a while, browsing and talking to the owner, a lovely man who clearly knew what he was talking about, and who gave us each a copy of their own independent magazine of the same name as their shop, which normally would have cost about 15 each. 

Later that evening, we all cooked a curry and had a nice proper sit down meal with my friend’s nan, and I am so glad that she liked the food (I’d provided the recipe for the sauce so I was slightly more concerned on that front). That night was pub night, we went to all of the three pubs in Glandore (ending our night at the Glandore Inn yet again). I have no more words really, I’m pretty sure you can work out for yourselves what happened. Let’s just say that Irish people do not go lightly on their booze and pub lock-ins are amazing.  In all honesty, that night is going to be one that sticks in my mind (I’m not really sure I can truly say it’s stuck in my memory) for the rest of my life. It was a special one. 

On our final day we woke up at 12:30. I do not regret anything. 

We packed up the rest of our food (which was quite a lot may I add), including hummus pesto pasta and a portion of the previous night’s curry, and carried it down to the beach we had visited on Friday afternoon. The heat seemed to have increased tenfold and I felt like I was actually – the best cure to which is obviously a paddle in the sea. 

I had such a great time in Cork. I felt so welcomed, and it felt great to have something to do without any academic pressures looming over my head the whole time. 

I want to dedicate this post to my three best friends. Charlotte, Eilish, Liz, I would be nothing without you – thank you for validating me even when I haven’t asked to be. I lav you guys. (I’m gonna go before it gets even more mushy)

If you liked this post you might like: 5 (1/2) Days in Berlin

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In goals

20 Before 20 | Revisited

A while ago, I did a blog post entitled ’20 Things Before 20’ which encompassed some things I wanted to have achieved (what for it) by the time I’m twenty. I think it’s been roughly half the time between that post’s first publication and the deadline *duh duh DUHHH*, so I thought it was about time I reviewed those goals. Goals, aims and priorities change over time and I think it's interesting and healthy to look back and see what has changed for us as we grow.

1. Finish writing my novel (I've nearly finished the first draft now, so this won’t take long).

I have done this! I finished the first draft of my novel in November 2016. Yes, I have officially written a novel people! I haven’t looked at it since though as I found with my studies and other commitments that it had to be put to the back seat. I would still love to revise this, so hopefully eventually it will be fully finessed. 

2. Get a literary agent.

I may have finished a novel, but along with the fact that A Levels brought an end to my time editing, they also stopped me from doing anything else related to my writing. I think this one is probably going to have to wait a bit, as I now have other goals which take precedence for me. 

3. Visit Chatsworth House.

I would still love to do this as my love for Jane Austen will never die. I may be more likely to go once I’m at uni because I will be a lot closer than I am now. Let’s go! 

4. Explore Paris.

I’m going to Paris ay the end of July for a few days with my friend Lizzi. I can’t wait. We’ve got a few things planned and I’m honestly just so excited to be in this city. Look out for that blog post. 

5. Visit the Houses of Parliament.

I have visited Parliament twice now – once as part of my work experience with Fairtrade and then again a few weeks later on a trip with my college. I love this building – it’s incredible despite the fact that it’s falling part somewhat. At some point I would like to have a proper tour and let the full history/politics nerd in me loose. 

6. Visit Amsterdam.

Not in my plans yet but you never know. 

7. Achieve my target A Level grades.

My exams are now officially complete (as of mid-June), so now it’s just a waiting game until results day. I think I’m feeling quietly confident. I need ABB so keep your fingers crossed for me!

8. Visit at least 3 historical palaces/houses. E.g. finish going around Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, etc.

None of these have happened yet, but I still have some time (although I may only do one or two).

9. Pass my driving test.

Lots of people have been nagging me to get on with this one but for some reason I just don’t want to do it. I don’t know why, I just don’t feel the need to drive. 

10. Go back to Nice.

I haven’t yet, but this one that I would still love to do! I’ve seen some cheap flights there from where I want to go to uni, so hopefully that’ll be a good way for me to visit. 

11. See a Shakespeare play performed at the Globe.

Sadly, no. That’s something I might try to do this summer though…

12. Go to Hay-on-Wye

This festival is the epitome of what I love (books and people talking about books) and somehow I still haven’t gone! It’s always been at the wrong time of year aka exam season. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get to go next year, as I’ll probably have finished my first year of uni by then (that sounds weird to say) or at least have more flexibility.

13. Go to a Disneyland.

Ugh I want to go so badly. My brother and I have hinted not so subtly that we’d love to go on a family holiday to Disneyland Paris, but if that doesn’t happen then we can try and get something sorted. 

14. Visit Stockholm.

Again, this hasn’t happened. When it comes to travel, there are obviously some financial constraints so a short trip to this city is probably what’s most likely going to happen. ABBA museum anyone????

15. Go to a festival.

I went to Common People in Southampton last year, and as much as I enjoyed it an being with my friends, I don’t think that on the whole they’re for me. 

16. See Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on stage.

As much as I would still like to see this play, it’s not really a priority for me. If I manage to get tickets, great, but I won’t be too bothered otherwise, due to my opinion of the quality of the script. You can see that review here.

17. See McFly live.

I have no idea when this is going to happen as they haven’t been on tour since their 2016 Anthology tour. Whenever they do go on tour again, you can be sure that I’ll be doing all I can do be there, but somehow I doubt that’ll happen before I’m 20.

18. Go to a blogger event.

I have had one or two opportunities lately, but the timings have been wrong (specifically one that was on my one day off in between 2 A Level exams in London – WHY UNIVERSE). But, hopefully I’ll be able to do something in the next year or so. 

19. Visit Kew Gardens and find my great great aunt's memorial bench.

This is another one I haven’t done, but it’s something that could easily be done of a day or a weekend in London. 

20. Buy my own car.

Ha! Seeing as I haven’t even started driving yet, then I doubt that I’m going to buy a car soon. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s kind of unlikely that I’m going to own a car, and I may only do so if I find driving crucial to my life, which I don’t see it being as I hope to live in London or other cities. It’s not a priority or anything that I would even consider for a long time now. 

Here’s to the next year and a bit!

If you liked this post you might like: 20 Things Before 20

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