I’ve talked to you about the highs of being a rainbow potato (which, if you haven’t seen my YouTube branding is basically what I’ve dubbed myself – I’m not sure why but it just fits) but I wanted to talk to you a little bit today about being afraid to start something.
All my life I’ve put off things. Usually, I’ll be honest it’s I’ll do this when I’ve lost weight… I’ll do this when my hair looks better… I’ll do this when I have nicer clothes… Essentially a lot of the time I live my life based on how I think my appearance is and this is something I’ve been fighting really hard to combat recently.
This week I posted what I thought was an unflattering photograph on Instagram. I loved my outfit and the shot but would never usually post because it did not paint what I thought was a flattering impression of my body. I decided to post it anyway. That however didn’t end the constant feelings of worry that people could see the image. All I could think about was what would people think?! The reason I posted it and fought with myself to keep it up as I wanted in a small, strange way to help people like me who feel like they can only post on social media or live life when they felt like they fit a desired standard. Life goes on day by day and actually the only way I’ve seen positive changes to myself in the past has been through grasping life (bizarrely enough, ha, ha) rather than letting it pass me by.
Now I’m not saying you have to pose incredibly unflattering images of yourself but what I’m saying is don’t be afraid to take the picture, write the blog post or film the YouTube video if that’s what you want to do.
I still am very guilty of not doing something or making myself feel like I can’t do anything because I’m not where I want to be, which consequently makes me feel like I’m trapped. To be honest I felt a little trapped in my content recently, as I felt it had become too focused on posts that were easier for me to think through – i.e. hauls or favourites posts. Don’t get me wrong these posts still take work but it’s a different kind of work then say book reviews or personal posts like this one.
After letting myself float along with this for a little I decided to take action this week and get to writing some more book reviews again because I did really enjoy those posts and losing myself in reading again. So I’m going to buy a few books and try and diverse my content a little bit again. I’ve already had some great recommendations through my Instagram but if you have any let me know in the comments below.
I guess what I’m trying to see is that I know what it’s like to spend all of your time fantasying about being a certain ideal instead of living your life but living your life might just put you on the path to being a little more like your ideal (because let’s face it you’ll never be 100% there).
Hello, everyone! June was very much a mixed bag for me as a human being but hopefully I’ll be able to pull some favourites out of the month. I really need to note down what I’ve been enjoying throughout the month more as honestly as I get to writing these posts and it’s not until half way through writing that I remember what I’ve done in the month.
Style wise I’ve been all over the place this month. I’m talking 90s queen one minute and 70s flowy hippy style the next but I’m trying to embrace it even if my Instagram feed is probably a chaotic mess to most people. I’ve also been trying to document my outfits more. I’ve found taking a photograph and then taking a day or two off works because in that time off I realise the picture is actually nice instead of instantly thinking its terrible.
This was also the month I started my YouTube channel (finally!) and although I’m still nervous I’m excited for future videos and hopefully I point where I can properly align my schedule with this blog. At the moment I’m uploading about once a week (purely because of how long editing takes). Since I work full time during the week I struggle to get videos out until the weekend. I’m actually going to film a video to accompany this post but it probably won’t be up until after this post has been released. One of the reasons for this is because some of the items that are my favourites are on hold for me Friday so I’d like to wait for the video to show some proper shots of me wearing them! When the video is live I’ll be sure to add it to this post however.
What I’ve been wearing….
This month I’ve really been inspired by rummaging through vintage and charity shops to find one off pieces. Since I’ve also been loving 90s style this has been quite successful as 90s items aren’t too hard to find in either place compared to older more sought after 50s pieces. Although, I’ll admit some months when I’m feeling less inspired or focused it can feel like a minefield; it’s been a great tactic for me this month as I get to reuse pieces (which is better for Mother Earth); save money a lot of the time and be a uniquely sassy individual.
I picked up the blazer in the above photograph (please forgive the morning rush messiness) from Little Viking Vintage on their sale rail for £10. Although, I am instantly drawn to basically every blazer in the world (because blazers are my style super item) I was especially drawn to this item because to me it was the epitome of 90s TV presenter. I paired it was dark green dress that matched some of the flecks and the sparkly converse I got for my birthday for a 90s casual look.
Dress: H & M (old)
Blazer: Little Viking Vintage
Shoes: Miley Cyrus x Converse
The other item I snagged in the sale rail for £10 is this lovely mid floral dress that just oozes 90s – to me it reminds me a little bit of the more earthy toned items worn in The Craft or the outfits worn in The Virgin Suicides. However, although The Virgin Suicides was made in the 90s it was set in the 70s so the clothes had a slightly different feel.
I didn’t have quite the right plain white top to go underneath this but am hoping to pick one up this weekend when I go into London. I think this dress would look nice styled nice and simply with accessories kept minimal.
I’m also going to pick up this amazing denim playsuit this weekend and am considering wearing it for Pride but haven’t decided to wear that or the other dress I’m picking up which is a long 70s embroidered dress with cap sleeves that is sheer (hence no photograph as I need to buy something to wear underneath). I’ll try both looks on in my YouTube video so the internet can tell which looks better (ha, ha).
I finally gave in and bought some fishnet tights from the market as well as some fishnet socks (which would have looked amazing with the vegan Dr Martens I desperately wanted in an Ebay auction but couldn’t afford to bid on!). Although, I only picked up black I do want some white and pink pairs, as well as glitter in the future. The tights from the market were only £4 and the socks £2 and they are actually very comfortable.
Top: Vintage Sonic Youth top because I’m too trendy for you (ha, ha).
Dress: Vintage M & S (check out this post to find out more).
Though when buying the man running the stall did ask my clothes size, which completely threw me. It turns out he was asking as they had a bigger size depending on height and stuff but I think maybe they just need to have a size on their display so people can decide! I’m luckily I’m at a place where I can mostly brush off comments like that but others can’t. It turns out the tights are quite large on me and I can pull them up very high (which, to be honest I like).
I haven’t actually bought the dress I’m going to insert an image of below because I’m still not sure and think there might be things I want in London more this weekend. It will also need hemming because I’m short and I’ll need to buy one of those suction cup bra things but I think it’s flattering and will be nice and cool for the current heatwave (let me know your thoughts below). I’m not sure on the exact brand as it’s from TK Maxx but price wise it’s £29.99 (or you know £30) if that helps anyone’s decision making process.
Love Moschino heart print sandals
This is another thing from TK Maxx that I have tried on but haven’t bought. However, this item I very highly doubt I will because reduced they’re still £70!!! They are the most gloriously 90s style shoes and they’re covered in hearts, which I love! A bonus of these is that Love Moschino doesn’t use real leather as far as I have been to tell because the creative director Jeremy Scott is vegetarian. Please correct me if this is incorrect!
Daisy Duck belt
So you just got a sneak peak of the next item except the difference is that I actually bought this item. I got this thinking it would look super cute with Lazy’s Oaf new pastel half and half jeans (if I actually end up getting them). However, it’s more of a hip belt and I wanted it to wear with fairly high waisted items so I think I’m going to have to DIY some more holes into it. I can’t remember the exact price but it was about £13 (you can see the exact price in my picture below, ha, ha) and I had to get it because of the buckle.
@rileybambi on Instagram rocking the heck out of the jeans.
Everything I got at the Lazy Oaf sample sale
If you’ve not read my post with what I got at the Lazy Oaf sample sale yet or watched my video first of all where have you been? Second of all, if you have seen it then you know how I managed to pick up some goodies this time that I have been obsessed with. Something, I’ve learnt for next time though is that I think I’m going to try and focus more on the lower priced items so I can come away with more (whether I’ll be able to achieve that is another story!!!).
What I’ve been obsessed with…
As mentioned numerous times already (and in my last blog post!) I’ve been feeling very nostalgic towards the decade I was born in at the moment. Since I grew up with a lot of TV shows from the era which inspired me fashion wise A LOT it’s unsurprising those outfits hold a dear place in my heart. I’m definitely going to be looking back over Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Clueless in the coming months so hopefully expect some posts inspired by this.
What I’ve been watching…
Set It Up
If you’re looking for an easy to watch romantic comedy I’d recommend Set It Up on Netflix, as not only does it star Titus from Unbreakable: Kimmy Schmidt (my only motivation for watching it) but it’s actually an enjoyable watch. It’s only interesting to see the ways in which gender politics within romantic comedies are changing, especially the jokes made to appeal to a 2018 audience.
What I’ve been collecting…
This is a bit of a weird one but I’m determined to collect enough to somehow DIY a lampshade (I’ll let you know how that goes). For those who don’t know what I mean Gachapon containers are the little plastic containers that house the toys you get out of the machines where you put a pound in.
Keychains/ Powerpuff Girls Kinder Egg Toys
So I may have a small Powerpuff Girls obsession and I love trinkets so I’ve been collecting any small Powerpuff Girls toys that I can get my hands on. I actually gave out the kinder egg that contained this toy at work with the condition that I would swap the toy if they got the Powerpuff toy (the pack I bought was a pack of three but only one egg had a Powerpuff girls toy – I’ve since only bought the individual Powerpuff Girls eggs to escape this deception).
I also have been loving buying the small Disney Tsum Tsum keychains to put on my keys – I also get a care bear toy which is noisy and rattles but I love it and I want more.
What’s I’ve generally liked/ loved this month…
Hello Kitty charity shop toys
In one of local charity shops I think they received a donation from a Hello Kitty collector as one of their cabinets was choc a bloc. They’re all very loved and used but I had to pick up these two especially the Hello Kitty astronaut! The astronaut was £4 and the other Hello Kitty £3 I believe.
Near where I work there is a TK Maxx that I like to go in on my break and window shop (a skill I’ve perfected) and I have to say my love for the shop has been reignited a bit even if there isn’t the best selection in that shop. I’ve also noticed TK Maxx stock brands like Topshop and River Island now which is a twist (I noticed some dresses that I’m pretty sure came out earlier this year) from what I’ve seen from them in the past.
Since this month was my birthday month I also have to give a shout out to everyone who bought me a present. I loved everything I got and I am incredibly grateful. You can read about what I got for my birthday here.
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…
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.
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…
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!)
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.
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!
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.
From my friend, Callie…
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).
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!
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!
If you didn’t figure it out by the title this is the second in a two part series. Please make sure to read part 1 to this post beforehand if you want to read about the start of my adventures and my experiences in Paris and Amsterdam. Alternatively, if you’re only interested in hearing about Rome, Berlin and Zurich then you should be able to follow this post with not too many problems.
My most distinct memory of Rome was that it was hot. Also, the driving of everyone there made me fear for my life. At the airport I arrived at it was about an hours drive into the city from what I remember, which was actually quite nice as it meant I got to see a bit more of Italy than what I might have done. However, I just had to not pay too much attention to the other cars (in fairness to the coach driver from what I remember his driving wasn’t too bad). After arriving I spent about an hour in the heat (I am a very pale, freckled person so this didn’t go well) trying to find my hostel, despite it only being about 5 minutes from where I was dropped off. There definitely need to be a more distinct sign for the hostel to say the least – no one I asked seemed to know where it was either. At one point I fully just gave up and bought a giant bottle of water and sat with that thinking about what to do.
Part of me however kind of wish I hadn’t found it. It was a strange place to say the least. The different rooms (which, were gender split) were split only be a curtain. I don’t care about this in terms of gender but it meant that if one room was still talking the other was still disturbed. It was also boiling. I remember there being little to no air conditioning. Generally, the entire vibe of the hostel was just a little off and I was glad I was only staying there for one night until my mum arrived (as I was then moving into a hotel with her).
After picking up my mum from the airport (on my birthday) and settling into the simple, but much more safe feeling hotel; my mum and I decided to explore Rome a bit more. I had explored a little the night before but had left the majority of my sightseeing for when my mum arrived.
Despite, having gone on the tour bus the day before (I mentioned in my last post how I like to do this when possible to get the lay of a city); my mum made me go on it again as our way of getting around. The most memorable places we visited had to be the Colosseum and the Trevi fountain though I was disappointed that it was closed so we kind of had to throw a coin in from afar (therefore running my Lizzie McGuire movie moment). We also went to Vatican City because we wanted to see the Sistine Chapel but the tour guides there told us to visit there we had to visit the Museum and St Peters Basilica as well. I wouldn’t have minded this but that would cost 50 euros each, which we didn’t have budget for! We’d prioritised the Sistine Chapel because me and my mum had really wanted to see Michelangelo’s infamous artwork in person. In the end we didn’t end up seeing anything, which is probably one of my biggest regrets of the trip! I definitely plan to visit Rome in the future again to rectify this.
Food wise unfortunately the one time we had a proper sit down meal I wasn’t that impressed with the pizza (I think we made the mistake of going to a tourist trap!) but I loved all the fresh fruit that was available. I also had some amazing strawberry gelato near where we stayed and we also went to the magnum shop where you can make a customisable ice cream, which was super fun and delicious (and I think was one of my mum’s highlights).
Another thing to note as well in Rome is that when I was in a church there (I’m pretty sure it was the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore); I was wearing a strappy top because of the heat and was asked to cover up with a shawl, which they provided. I’ll be honest the feeling was strange but I respected the wishes of the church as I was a visitor and complied. I just wanted to flag to people who present as female that may be asked to do this.
After Rome I said goodbye to my mum and headed to Berlin. I was lucky there that on my first day I met a friend who visited some of the attractions with me. Not only did we explore the artwork on the Berlin Wall, which was one of my favourite things to visit in Berlin because of the inventive ways artists used the wall for social commentary but also because of how something they transformed something that tore a city apart. We also visited several of the museums that explained more about the history of the wall. As I’d studied the wall partly during my A levels the history fanatic of me loved this part of the trip. Food wise I didn’t have a ton of luck from what I remember this day as the restaurant we visited didn’t really have a vegetarian option! However, I did have a beer, which was a mistake because we then went up the Berlin TV tower Fernsehturm, which if I remember correctly has one of (if not) the fastest elevator in Europe. I probably should have listened when my server asked if I was sure if I wanted a beer without any food!
I did have some pictures of this day and the tower but they sadly as far as I can see have been lost! I remember distinctively though wearing my Nishe navy dress, which I’d worn my first time at a nightclub at University (and was probably my fanciest dress at the time).
There was though some really nice food options in Berlin. Walking around the main tourist bits without looking up where to eat I did struggle a little to find meat free options that weren’t sweet. However, near where my hostel was a small Turkish takeaway that served me the best falafel wrap I’ve ever eaten. I’ve actually had Turkish food in Germany since then and seriously its so nice there! I also enjoyed devouring all the bread I could find, specifically the Bretzels. I did also keep eyeing this cheesecake in the local supermarket to me but never bought it because I’d have to ask at the counter and was scared about my pronunciation – this is something I really regret. You can only improve by trying and if you don’t try you might miss out on some great experiences. I also didn’t realise when I went how many vegan places there are in Berlin (though not sure if this was as much the case then though I did spot one vegan place that served ice cream).
Also, I had my hostel room to myself for pretty much the whole trip because no one else stayed there while I was there. Before, I forget I wanted to mention for those new to hostels, please make sure you read all their terms and conditions as some hotels charge a little more for the bedding/ towels (I took a towel with me on the trip but only took a small suitcase so couldn’t take anymore) so this may increase the price of your trip. Some places also charge a tourist tax (usually a few euros a day) – this only happened in Italy for me however. Some hostels as well like to hold onto a piece of ID for insurance or a security deposit so keep this in mind too!
Other highlights for me included visiting Charlottenburg palace, which was a little surreal compared to parts of Berlin I walked through. It was beautiful though and I loved walking around the grounds – I regretted not bringing my running gear as it would have been a lovely run. Also, this trip reminded me that a lot of public toilets in Europe charge (at least in the big cities) or have a toilet attendant where it is good practice to leave a small tip. So try to make sure you keep a bit of change with you as it can be a difficult otherwise when you’re out all day. In Amsterdam I was able to go to a toilet in a cafe for free when I was really desperate but please be aware!
After Berlin was onto Switzerland and Zurich (which, is on the side closer to Germany of Switzerland, however, the German spoken there is a strange mixture of German and French so if you understand a little of both you can piece it together). Zurich was one of my favourites to visit simply because I loved hiking up Uetilburg. This was despite not having the right shoes or clothes. I saw some people run up and it was steep enough that I thought they were insane.
The air was just so fresh and the water from the water pumps, which I used to refill my water bottle, was amazing. I hiked to the top and also visited the restaurant at the top there and had so very expensive chips but I had to eat because I was starving from the walk and had only brought some snacks so it was worth it in the end. At the top you can climb up a tower where you can look at the view (there were love locks there too- see my previous blog post, ha, ha). It was bit windy so it was a little terrifying but breath taking.
I decided to walk past this point and down to the fields past the top. Despite, getting throughly lost and it starting to get late in the day I loved the experience. Probably because I managed to find my way back in the end by looking for the tower and literally walking towards it.
Zurich itself also has some beautiful sites and I’d definitely recommend walking around the city (it’s very small so very achievable). However, a lot of what I noticed was very expensive shops so this is definitely a place for if you have some money spare! I didn’t try fondue because fondue for one felt a little lonely (don’t be me if you go though eat your fondue for one!) but I did consume a lot of Lindt because it was relatively cheap and there was so much of it (Lindt is probably my favourite chocolate)!
Another thing I found strange was how giving change for large notes was expected there. I actually had asked the people at the hostel if they could change a note and they said not to worry about it as the people in the local shops would have no issue changing it.
I also visited Rhein Falls, which is a short train journey away on my last day and I wish I’d had the time to visit the other side of the waterfall. I had some great photographs from this, which are sadly lost and it was so beautiful. I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to stand on the plinth in the middle of the waterfall and had it past me (as I can’t swim) but I would have loved to have spent the day there).
So, that was my trip to Europe. It was short and sweet but made me feel like a world traveller and ignited my passion for travelling to new places. I would say overall what I learnt from the trip was simply just do it! Don’t be afraid to pronounce things. Don’t let silly reasons get in the way of you trying things. You may never visit somewhere again so make sure you have that experience. I managed to go see lots of things on my bucket list but there were still lots of places or things I regretted not doing. The only things I honestly regretted not buying wasn’t things but experiences!
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.
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.
(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.
So it’s National Vegetarian Week and Mental Health Awareness Week this week and although I would love to just spend the week doing the below; I thought I’d instead I’d take the opportunity to write some reflective content. As I happen to be a vegetarian and have been for around 7 years now.
And to be honest I think at times being a vegetarian has been a defining moment in my life. Although, it’s just second nature to me that wasn’t always the case so I wanted to talk today about my journey to becoming the overgrown carrot I am today. I knew from around my early teens that I wanted to be a vegetarian. I had weighed it up in my head and it made no sense to me killing something that could obviously feel pain – I also didn’t see the separation between pets and the animals we eat. This by the way is not to attack anyone who eats meat (I don’t believe that ‘converts’ anyone) but just how I feel on the matter.
My first few attempts were quite disastrous. I found a bit more success with being a pescatarian (eating fish but not meat), as it wasn’t meat I was particularly upset about not eating – I only really loved the taste of tuna. However, eventually when I reached about 16 something clicked into place – I learnt more how to make vegetarian options that actually tasted nice and where and what the good substitutes were. So for anyone wanting to be vegetarian at the moment but is finding it difficult; remember never to give up.
My transition was quite a long time ago so honestly I can’t remember a lot of it! All I know is that I don’t actually remember fully what meat tastes like that, the only ‘meat’ products I occasionally miss are things like haribo and jelly babies which contain gelatine. That list also did used to include milkybar yoghurts but they now have brought out a yoghurt which is VERY similar to their dessert pots (just smaller), which has revolutionised my life.
Since my transition was so long ago I wanted to talk to Martin who became a vegetarian 3 years ago about how he found it. As I remember before he became a vegetarian he had one last Nando’s and ate a whole chicken to himself + sides (it was his birthday and I have to salute his commitment). I think a lot of people thought he became vegetarian because I’m a veggie but honestly if the way I described his Nando’s feast doesn’t clue you in; I never cared if he was a vegetarian or not. I mean, I’m glad because it makes food shopping easier but it definitely was not a ‘deal breaker’ in any way shape or form. He just decided he wanted to join me.
So let’s ask Martin about his experience, which is not going to go well as he is a person of little words. I first asked him how he found the transition and whether it was hard – he said he didn’t find it hard at all. I personally think this was because I told him where all the good veggie food was even if he won’t admit it. I’d also like to point out that he kind of transitioned by eating fish in the first few months (though literally only a few times). I then asked if there was anything he missed knowing full well the answer would be fried chicken (specifically the spices) but he has quorn so he copes – he in fact said he misses having choice, he can’t just go out and get to burger, he has to go to London (specifically here here he means Temple of Seitan).
When he said that I had to laugh though as he doesn’t know my struggle. Vegetarian (and vegan!!!) options have got so much better in the last few years. From supermarket options to eating out options. I now can go to any place and expect them for the most part to have a vegetarian option – that vegan counterpart is lagging still a bit behind but it’s getting there. I think it’s more accessible (and easier to find recipes for) good vegan food as well, which I try to supplement into my diet whenever possible. I love a good cashew Mac and Cheese (don’t tell anyone but the regular version can be a bit too rich for me), as it’s healthier so I can have more sauce but tastes delicious too.
The recipe for this Mac and Cheese is from Cheap Lazy Vegan who I’d definitely recommend you check out, as her handle definitely describes her channel. All of her recipes that I’ve tried have also been delicious.
I’d also recommend the vegan recipes on Tasty specifically the amazing Tofu breakfast sandwich in the below video, which is amazing!
I also have tried a few recipes from Lucy Watson’s Feed Me Vegan cookbook and I’d definitely recommend her cauliflower ‘wings’ recipe. Not as a chicken wing substitute but something that is tasty all on its own.
I try vegetarian and vegan restaurants or options whenever I can and will either post them on my Instagram feed or story so if you want the low down of some of my favourite places to eat be sure to check me out there.
A post shared by April (@aprilisthecruellestmonth) on
It’s easier than ever to find quick, cheap vegetarian or vegan recipes so I think we are now in the setting where it so much easier for people to become vegetarian or vegan, which explains why so many more people are.
I do think at the same time it’s important not to judge. I have not fully committed to being vegan but I try to incorporate vegan recipes into my diet as much as possible. I’ve seen people make similar statements and been attacked on social media, which I never think is the way. If someone is trying I don’t know why you would attack, or if the diet didn’t work for someone on a personal reason it’s not your place to say but ‘you’re wrong’ or ‘you weren’t committed enough’. There’s nothing wrong with offering helpful tips but I don’t think yelling at someone changes their mind – offering them support might do though.
That’s what I think I’ve learnt being a vegetarian in the last few years as vegetarianism and veganism have been talked about more and more. No one will ever be perfect, so just be honest, try to do your research where possible (i.e. if items are cruelty free). You don’t have to be 100% perfect and polished, you can change things gradually. I’m forever learning new things and exploring different options.
If you want to be vegetarian that’s great – if you want a comprehensive guide to the best options you know how to message!
I hesitated writing this post for a lot of reasons but not least that I don’t want this post to feel like it exits only because it’s mental health awareness week this coming week but sometimes moments like ‘mental health awareness week’ force you to have that little bit of courage to speak up.
So today, I want to talk to you about my birth control journey. Birth control is something I’ve always been hesitant to talk to a large audience about because it brings with it connotations and meanings. Although I know I should say ‘who cares’ because I’d advise other people of that; this is a subject I’ve always felt uncomfortable with.
However, I’m going to try to be brave and talk to you a little about birth control and how it affected me. The first birth control I ever went on was the nexplanon implant and I started this in the January of my third year of University (so about 2016). It appealed to me because after the procedure was over, you didn’t have to think about birth control and it lasted for three years. During the time I was on the implant I didn’t have a period, which was also a bonus to me (although I didn’t know 100% this would happen going in though I suspected as such because of how people close to me have described it affecting them).
The procedure itself was quite quick. A lot of people are squeamish about it because it involves you being cut into and I’ll admit I was nervous, as I know someone who wasn’t numbed 100% before it was put in. Luckily, the nurse I had checked and it turns out I wasn’t completely numb so she numbed my arm further. It was a strange feeling, as I felt what the pain should have felt like (like someone is stapling you) but didn’t feel the physical discomfort. Apart from occasionally touching my arm and being surprised when I came across the implant; I largely didn’t notice it was there.
Also, I just wanted to write a quick note about where to get this done. If you look up the nearest sexual health free clinic in your area (looking up ‘sexual health clinic and then your county usually works) you can usually either book an appointment (if you know what you want done this is what I’d recommend) or go into a walk in session and discuss the different options. I would like to note as well this advice is for people in England, I’ve only lived in the UK so I can’t advise for how to access contraception anywhere else in the world.
Before, I begin the next part of my story I think is important to note is that at this point in my life I wasn’t in a great place to start. One of these reasons is that for around 6 months at this point I’d stopped running (consequently I gained a little weight but not an excessive amount – I could still fit in 90% of my clothes). I debated mentioning this at all but there was another part of my life that affected me that I’m not ready to talk about yet (sorry for teasing but it felt wrong not to mention at all) that meant I was not in a good place to begin with.
I didn’t notice much of a change in my life when I started the implant. In those few months when I started my life was a whirlwind of deadlines, extracurricular activities and work, as I tried desperately to get my life in order. The first thing I noticed was that all of a sudden I put on a lot of weight (disproportionate to the amount I was eating). I could tell I put the weight on fast by the way it looked on my body as well – my body just felt strange.
It took longer to notice how it affected my mood. All my pent up emotions and angst became amplified by 100%. I was angry all the time, hyper emotional. Although, I would describe myself as passionate and maybe of a Hermione in the way I approach my work; I’ve never been one to just react/ snap. I could see myself reacting to things and it was like an out of body experience. I knew my reaction was irrational but I couldn’t stop it happening. The spiral would get worse because in the lucid moments afterwards I’d be so upset about how I’d treated people (and for this I am still truly sorry for).
I knew deep down something had changed in me when I started the implant but I became so scared that if I took it out nothing would change and I was just trapped as this angry person now. It was that fear that stopped me taking it out until 2 years later, as I only removed it early this year. The effect on my mood within just a week after it being removed was ridiculous. It sounds silly but I felt like myself again. I could react like I wanted to. Something else I noticed as well was that my concentration went up and my focus on tasks. It felt like the time before my brain had been wrapped in cotton wool – if I managed to get a Masters when my brain was suffocating – what could I achieve now?!
I also started to notice my weight shifted easier as well. Also, in case anyone is wondering I am on another form of hormonal contraception now in the form of the mini pill (not every mini pill is the same though as there are different brands). It’s only been a couple of weeks, as I gave my body a break before I started anything else because I wanted to make sure I was myself again but I feel a lot better so far. However, I am experiencing an irregular period. Normally, my periods last 7 days and I am on day 9 now (however, I think it’s basically gone now, fingers crossed), if this continues I’ll go to my GP because a 7 day period is bad enough; I don’t think I can cope with much longer.
I accessed the mini pill from Lloyds Pharmacy. You can get this service through the NHS and not pay but I found this method more convenient as the process was quick and easy (and there is a Lloyds Pharmacy literally 2 minutes from where I live). It was also not expensive, as it cost £10.00 for a 3 months supply (and I think you save if you buy a larger supply).
The implant robbed me of a lot the 2 years I let it take over me. And all I can think about now is that I should have taken it out sooner. But I’ve had depressive episodes all throughout my life so I just thought it was a culmination of that. This may have been true in one way but although I’ve felt low since having it removed and unfortunately I probably will again feel low in the future; I have never felt so low as I did in those two years.
I’m not saying don’t go on the implant. Just listen to yourself and your body. If it’s not working try something else. Don’t let yourself think it’s you failing rather than the method itself if it doesn’t work for you.
It took me a long time to remember that I’m a fighter and that I always been someone who tries to do as much as possible (and doesn’t take no for an answer); I hope this post can help someone remember this too. If you suspect your contraception is making you feel low, please, please see if other options are available to you. Hormonal contraception is that is the way you chose is never going to be 100% fun and pleasant but please don’t suffer unnecessarily.
Remember you have the right to demand a break from it as well. For Mental Health Awareness Week that is the big thing I want to stress is trust yourself.
On another note, I know this period can be stressful. It’s great that more people are becoming more aware about mental health issues and have the courage to talk about it but sometimes having lots of voices talking about a subject can be challenging too. I know I find it overwhelming to read about people’s mental health problems sometimes because it hits too close to home. Also, don’t feel like because everyone is talking about their mental health that you have to talk about yours too. There is nothing wrong with sharing something if you feel like it could help someone going through the same thing or if because you feel it will help you to process everything; but you don’t have to share every part of your mental health journey.
Sometimes, sharing doesn’t help. It’s ok to keep it private sometimes. Keeping it private doesn’t mean you are not suffering.
I do not share half of my struggles on here because I am naturally a very private person. It has took me years to get used to social media. As a teenager I barely interacted on the popular sites at the time because sharing things that happened to be seemed so unnatural – my MSN messenger chat game was particularly terrible. Over time I’ve learnt through observing how to communicate more after witnessing how it can help me and how certain bloggers and Youtubers have affected me (for the better). However, there are times like this post where I feel like I can process the pain I went though and I want to talk about it because I wish someone had written something that would have talked about it to me.
So here is me talking to you about how my contraception had a very crappy effect on my mental health. If you’ve had a similar experience please comment below. If you have any questions about my experience I’d be happy to answer them. I’m far from an expert on the subject but I will be honest and try my best!
P.S. My friend Callie’s post made me remember that I should make sure I have resources at the bottom of this post for people who need them – please read her twitter thread as she says it better than me.
I never use twitter for anything other than moaning but it’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and that’s important so here: Whatever you’re going through, it doesn’t define you and I promise that it can get better. Sufficient mental health help services and the funding for them…