What I got for my birthday: Age 23

I’ll start by saying that of course this post isn’t me boasting though I think considering the popularity of these posts on Youtube and on blogs the attitude towards them has changed. Honestly, the reason I love doing these posts is because I like having them as a log of my birthdays each year. I have a memory like a sieve so it’s nice for me to be able to look back and see what I got and did. Either way, I hope you enjoy this post and don’t think that I’m bragging!

This year I was 23 and ridiculously I wasn’t looking forward to it. I have a complex that the older I got the more I have not achieved enough for my age. I forgot sometimes what I’ve actually done and I should be proud. Also, I should not be paranoid about ageing – my chubby cheeks effectively make that impossible (at least for now!).

First of all thank you to everyone who sent me cards and well wishes, Rosie and her family, my nan and Grandad, Karen (to mention a few) – you all know who you are. Thank you to everyone who gave me birthday money as well, which went towards my Lazy Oaf sample sale expenditure. A few people also got me presents as well on the list I just mentioned including shampoo + conditioner and bath stuff – I’ve not had a chance to try any of this yet so haven’t included it below but it all looks amazing and thank you!

Also, my colleagues at work were lovely and got me gifts, which they didn’t need to do, as well as surprised me with a cake (which, was embarrassing because despite the way I look sometimes I don’t like attention, ha, ha).

From my boyfriend…

A camera!!!

Anyone who knows me is aware that a camera is something that I’ve wanted a long time for taking photographs when I’m travelling, for this blog (!) and because I wanted to start my own YouTube channel. I had suspected this might be what Martin was getting me but he tried to throw me off the scent several times by telling me I hadn’t guessed what he had got me yet. When I opened his present on my birthday my reaction was to yell at him for spending so much but he said he’d been saving up for a while and eventually I conceded to not forcing him to send it back.

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For anyone wondering the camera I got is a Canon 1300D (I also got a cute camera bag to go with it!) and it’s a DLSR so it can take photographs and also shoot video. I’ve already used it to film a YouTube video (check out my last blog post) and take lots of shameless outfit pictures such as this one:

From my boyfriend’s family…

A tripod

Since Martin was in charge of coordinating what I wanted for my birthday he asked his family to get me a tripod to go alongside my new camera for YouTube videos. This came in an absolutely unnecessarily big box so I was very confused when this first arrived but as soon as I knew my first present was a camera I knew what this was.

I’ve only used it a few times but I’d definitely recommend this tripod to beginners as it’s really easy to use and doesn’t have complicated mechanisms (if you’ve used a tripod before you should be fine with this one!)

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From my granddad….

Harry Potter charm bracelet 

This is actually super cute and beautiful. My mum told me my Grandad bought this at a craft fair and I’m not surprised as you can tell that a lot of care and attention went into this bracelet by someone who is truly a Harry Potter fan. I probably am not going to be able to show each individual charm and sorry that I don’t know exactly who made this but it will go great with my Ravenclaw Danielle Nicole bag.

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Owl ornament 

This is a fun addition to my many ornaments that litter our flat. I might try to vary the decor for the seasons so I think this will look great for autumn when I plan to go for a bit more of a muted palette than you are used to from me!

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From my mother…

Miley Cyrus glitter converse

When I saw the Miley Cyrus x Converse collaboration I got very excited and then very overwhelmed trying to decide which shoe was favourite. Eventually, I settled on this low top silver glitter pair as I thought they’d go with more of my wardrobe and I needed a pair of everyday comfortable converse. Since my mum was ordering these for my birthday I went safe with sizing and went for a size 5 (UK) but I think these are a tad too big and I should have ordered the half size. They’re not uncomfortably big however and if you were going to make me into a shoe it would definitely be this one. Still, it’s a miracle they’ve lasted this long without me making them a lot more dirty.

I’m pretty sure but I haven’t investigated yet that if you’re not a fan of the M.C. for Miley on the laces you can take that off. I would love to get the pink ‘Get Out of My Way’ lace locks from Just Peachy to put on here and if I save up enough to make another order (because I know it will be a big one, ha, ha) I’ll definitely post it here.

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From my friend, Callie…

Birthday cake

Every year Callie makes a birthday cake for everyone she knows on their birthday. I insisted that she didn’t have to this year but she is stubborn as a mule so in the end I just let her get on with it. I don’t have a picture because honestly I just forgot to take one but it was a super pretty pink Victoria sponge style cake that essentially was pure sugar! She also got me some Lindt chocolate as well which may or not have fallen victim to my stomach already but was special because she remembered that my favourite is the little blue extra creamy one.

Sugarpill Cosmetics x Little Twin Stars eyeshadow palette 

I’ve wanted this for quite a while simply because it is so adorable. However, I could never bring myself to buy it because my heart told me to get the set even though I wouldn’t wear the lipsticks but wanted the makeup bag and box whereas my head told me I just needed the eyeshadow palette. Luckily, Callie listened to my head and got me the eyeshadow palette, which I love. Honestly, it’s quite small for what I bet Callie paid for it but after trying it out a bit there is quite a bit of product in there. I think this is more for people who really love Sanrio or the particular shades in the palette though. For me, it was worth it for the pink glitter shade in there on its own because it is literally my perfect pink glitter eyeshadow (I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do when I used it all).

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Primark 101 Dalmatians bag 

I’ve styled this on my Instagram already but on reflection I think my face in the image ruins it ha, ha because I don’t think having a grumpy face is really me so am considering deleting the post (but I don’t like doing that so am conflicted). This is such a cute bag and I love that it’s huge as I didn’t really have a bag like that where I can chuck all my stuff in. It will also be a great addition to any Disney trip, as I feel 90% of my wardrobe is me thinking about how it would look at Disney!

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There’s my little birthday haul – thank you again to all my family and friends! While twenty free has not been treating me amazingly so far; I think the rest of this year will definitely pick up!

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

-Blog posts Thursday and Sundays-

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I went travelling in my first year of university: here’s what I learnt part 1

This Thursday we’re going for a bit of a Throwback Thursday (is that still even a thing?), as I’m going to reflect back on my travels that I’ve been on. The majority of which happened at the end of my first year of university (over the summer period). Also, a pre-warning to any world travellers out there, my travels are restricted entirely to Europe because I’ve yet to venture outside of there (though I really hope to do so in the future!).

So at the end of my first year of university after being a bit shy for the year and not really engaging in university life despite many opportunities to; I decided that I wanted to go travelling. I loved visiting new places and I felt confident enough to go on my own. I decided on Europe because back then I had only been to a handful of places in Europe and really wanted to visit the capital cities I heard so much about! In the end I decided on Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Berlin and Zurich.

I think when I booked everything I just stayed up late one night and did it all in one night, ensuring I printed everything off for both me and for my mother (as she requested an itinerary, which is fair enough). It didn’t take long and then the trip suddenly came around. On the actual journey there I was excited and ready to go. It wasn’t till I hit Paris and my hostel room when I realised that the excitement had suddenly transformed into nerves.

First of all, I quickly realised that I had made a mistake in booking my first hostel room for my trip and it was a mixed dormitory instead of only females. The reason I’ll be honest I had decided to go with all female rooms was simply because I was more familiar with that atmosphere. The mix up didn’t really bother beyond making me feel slightly nervous about how to navigate the unexpected situation.

However, I was determined to have a good time and decided to continue with my plan to go drink wine and watch the sun set at the top of the Sacre Coeur. But first supplies. I made the trip to the nearest small supermarket picked up some snack bars and lots of water (and importantly some cheap $2 euro white wine because I’m blasphemous). After convincing my roommate that this was a good idea (it was their last night on their European adventure so I think they thought ‘why not?’) we headed up to Sacre Coeur. While, I remember making some attempt to seem less boring than I actually was; I remember at the same time just being myself (not as much as I feel comfortable enough doing now but more than usual).

The lights going down as I drank more and more wine (opened thanks to my companion luckily having a handy bottle opener – which, they later nicely donated to me – a story on that later). Some lovely British students studying in Paris approached us and the next thing I knew I was learning about how sauce Algérienne is great with chips and seeing the inside of their cool, chic apartment (cool because it was Paris – student digs are infinitely more appealing there). Despite, their friendliness and my mild tipsiness I still felt very uncool but I have a great memory of staggering back at 4 in the morning through Montmartre (which also happens to be where all the sex shops are so was slightly concerned but it was thankfully abandoned). Luckily, our roommate who had not been there when we left didn’t mind us quickly getting ready for bed.

My other roommate who remained for the rest of my trip from what I can remember was a character. They were from South America (my apologises to them but I can’t remember specifically were). They had been studying in France and wanted to visit Paris before they left. While there they had met a girl who he was very upset about leaving (he tried to illicit my help in crafting a love letter for her because I told him I studied English Literature, however, I’d also never written or had received a love letter). He was nice and he told me how he just walked all around Paris to explore everything and ended up walking probably about ten miles. He also, asked if he could borrow the room for his last day with the girlfriend, which I obliged (later, realising this was probably a mistake, especially as I had to awkwardly drop off something as it was too heavy to carry).

Paris was a dream. I loved the architecture; the museums (especially D’Orsay) and still want to go back there now I’ve done all the essential tourist parts (like climb all the Arc De Triomphe steps, as well as all the ones possible for the Eiffel Tower and see the Mona Lisa) and explore some of the ‘off the beaten track’ experiences – especially the vintage clothing shops and the Dali museum! I also regret not eating in the Amélie café and not eating enough patisserie.

Another Paris favourite of mine is the love lock bridge where lovers leave a lock on the bridge inscribed with their initials and chuck the key into the water (therefore symbolising that their love is forever). I’m not sure if this is allowed anymore because the bridge became too heavy and was starting to be crushed by the weight of the locks. I also heard they were auctioning off some of the older locks to help the problem. Do compile your own research however. I personally hope that there is a way that the bridge can be kept alive.

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Also, if I remember correctly my period hit for most of my trip to Paris! I don’t have much more to add about that but it felt relevant somehow. The bottle opener I received I had to leave behind in Paris unfortunately for someone else to find and take with them (the person who gave it to me wanted it to travel as far as possible) because I realised on my trip to the airport that I probably couldn’t take it with me as I was only travelling with hand luggage.

Next, came Amsterdam one of my other favourite destinations but also a great revealer of my naivety. One of the girls in my hostel asked if there was any coffee shops nearby, which caused me to foolishly reply that I thought I’d see a Costa at the train station not realising she meant a special kind of coffee shop! The hostel I liked to mention was called Hostelle and was an all female hostel so I didn’t have the opportunity to mess up my room booking there. It was a little outside the main centre of Amsterdam, which was nice for me because I wouldn’t stay out to the latest train back anyway on my own) and it meant the surrounding area was a lot quieter.

Amsterdam is simply beautiful. The flower market, with every kind of bloom you can find, surrounded by cheese shops, which gave out sublime samples of cheese and truffle, was a particular highlight. The Anne Frank museum was as emotional as you can expect – I remember reading her diary when I was younger and thinking about how we shared the same birthday and finding it weird that I shared a connection (however fragile) with someone so brave. The Van Gogh museum was one of my personal favourites because I’ve always wanted to visit and Van Gogh is one of my favourite painters (which, is most definitely the influence of my mother). I was sad that Starry, Starry Night wasn’t there but I loved seeing all the paintings of his I hadn’t seen before. When I think of Van Gogh now I get stupidly emotional though because of the Dr Who episode, as I just think about how his life might have been different if he’d realise the way his paintings are valued now. I would love to actually read more about Van Gogh so you might see a blog post in the future on this biography of Van Gogh when I can afford to buy it (I also think it might better accompany a blog post about the museum/ a trip to Amsterdam).

My first full day in Amsterdam was spent in the company of two lovely women from Australia. It was great to have the company (I was grateful for all the new people I met on my travels). We went on a bus tour of the city together (something, I’d always recommend as it gives you a good idea where all the landmarks are so you can walk to them later) and visited a famous diamond museum (not much fun unless you can afford diamonds). I also had the opportunity to see some windmills but wish I had taken the opportunity to go visit one. We also went to the Hard Rock Café in Amsterdam, which I’d never had the opportunity to visit before. This was a little out of my price range of spending as little as possible each day (ha, ha) but I’d never been before and I had a great time with two lovely people.

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(I’ve cropped the lovely lady next to me out of the picture out of respect because they might not want their face shared here!) 

Also, for anyone wondering my budget for each day was set at about £20-£25 a day (for food, souvenirs, travel, etc.) and for the most part I stuck to that by prioritising adventures over eating out in restaurants.

I did visit the Red Light District in Amsterdam with some people from the hostel who wanted to go and all I can say is that it is very surreal. I didn’t do the whole stretch because it was too overwhelming after about five minutes but the windows didn’t feel freeing. I understand the benefits of regulating a business by helping workers to have more rights but whether that is being achieved there I can’t say.

After Amsterdam I travelled to Rome and had the worst hostel experience of the trip, but that is a story for my next blog post, as I’ve decided to split this post into two parts! I decided this because I think covering everything would have been way too big of a blog post that no one would want to read. I’m also to be honest struggling to find the motivation to write this week (or do anything) so thought it might be better to split this post up to give me the opportunity to hopefully feel more uplifted next week (the next post will be next Thursday).

That summer I also worked as an Au Pair in Germany and would love to write a blog post on that experience if anyone’s interested – if you are because it’s something you are thinking about doing, let me know in the comments below (or if you’re just generally interested).

I want to also apologise for the lack of photographs of my trip – they got lost with the death of one of my laptops and it’s something I’m still sad about. I looked awful in them and they were not amazing photography but I can see those moments in my mind and I’m sad the physical representation of that is mostly gone.

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

-Blog posts Thursday and Sundays- 

 

P.S. I’m pretty sure my first blog post for this blog was about my travelling experiences but I panicked, deleted it and didn’t touch this blog for a while – look how far I’ve come (ha, ha).