48 Hours in Birmingham…

Same scenario as my trip to Edinburgh: I was there Saturday morning until Sunday evening, and had about 13 hours total (excluding travel time and sleeping) to explore a UK city. This time it was Birmingham! These are my picks for spending your time wisely…

 

The Bullring

I feel like Birmingham is different to Edinburgh mainly in that it is definitely a shopping city. The Bullring is HUGE, and made an excellent place to shelter for a couple of hours while there was an unexpected monsoon. If you’re a hardcore shopper then head here. Just outside The Bullring there is one of the loveliest Waterstones stores I’ve ever visited, their poetry section was amazing as far as poetry sections go (they’re usually very small).

 

The City Library & The Secret Garden

Go here if only to see the fairy-lights they’ve hung up all around the inside. The “Secret” Garden is a roof garden on top of the library. If you do one thing other than shopping, make it this. It looks like Birmingham are doing some serious renovations around the area of the library, but when they’re finished the view from this point is going to be phenomenal.

 

Find the bears

At the moment there are a lot of bears scattered around the city, each one decorated differently. I saw kids running around with some kind of checklist for them, and very worn-out looking parents. I couldn’t find a checklist anywhere, but I did find several arty looking bears on my walks.

 

Walk the canals & Stop at a bar

Apparently Birmingham is dubbed the “Venice of the North”, due to its canal network. I took a walk along some of the canal network of Birmingham on the Sunday morning, because I had time to kill before the coffee shops opened. On a sunny, quiet Sunday morning a walk (or run- be prepared to dodge some joggers) along the canals is a beautiful start to the day. More of an evening person? Head to one of the numerous restaurants or bars along the side of the canal, and have a drink!

 

Selfridge & Co. Food Hall

I mentioned The Bullring, but a big part of this place is the Selfridge & Co department store. They had a replica of the bull statue made from what looked like cake sprinkles. They sell vegan doughnuts. They have several restaurants hidden inside here, and a tonne of fancy cakes.

 

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Possibly one of my favourite places- any place I can look at art is generally one of my favourite places. At the moment there’s a diversion to get into the art gallery, because of the city’s renovations, so be sure to follow the diversion signs.

 

The Edwardian Tearoom

This is inside of the art gallery. I really recommend you take a good book, and grab a coffee here. They make awesome cakes, and it makes a good spot to take a break from your intense on-foot exploring.

 

The Sealife Centre

I unfortunately didn’t get chance to go here, because I wasn’t going to spend £20 to get in on the door. If you are wanting to go here (I love the Sealife Centre) then book online the night before, and it costs around £12. Visiting here would be ideal to tie into a walk along the canal network, as its located on the canal-side, near Brindley Place.

 

Jamaican Street Festival (Market & Music)

This was present when I was visiting (August 5th and 6th 2017), and it was AMAZING. The music was great, the dancing was great, the smells…oh my god, the smell of barbeques and spices. If you’re visiting this month, then I hope this is still there when you visit!

 

Any Birmingham locals, or anyone else who has visited Birmingham, did I miss anything I could’ve done in a day or two? Anything I should do next time I visit?

 

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My First Tattoo (Experience & Meaning)

1501763518648Today I have had my first tattoo. Its a small glyph which codes for the action “to create”, on the inside of my left wrist. For years I didn’t think I would ever find something important enough to me to be marked on my body forever (which considering I’m a fairly commitment-phobic person, could happen), but I’m incredibly happy with my choice and can’t see that happening right now. So I know what you’re wondering: why “create”… and how much did it hurt?

 

Why? (I think No. 1, 4, 7 and 8 are my favourites)

For numerous reasons, some coming down to design, some coming down to meaning:

  1. The design was simple, clean, and minimal (three things I love), and not something so complex that a) I would go off it, or b) have much trouble lazering it off (because I did have to consider this could one day have to happen if the lines faded or I changed my mind)
  2. Creating is something I have lived my life doing ever since I remember: writing stories, creating fantasy worlds and characters. When I say creating through writing has been in my life since I can remember, I really mean it. I kept a book I was writing something in at all times throughout my childhood.
  3. I spent the best three years of my life creating collection after collection of poems at uni. It reminds me of my journey through this, making improvements to (and constantly improving) my creative work
  4. It reminds me of my ultimate goal in life: to be a published poet. To do this I need to keep creating poetry and seeking inspiration, even when I may not feel like it.
  5. It reminds me of my smaller goal: to return to Newcastle and complete an MA in Creative Writing, at some point. I’m taking a break to work and get a bit of life experience first…
  6. Before the above I’ll be working on creating social media content for food and drink brands. It reminds me (not that I need it) to be grateful that every day I will be doing something creative.
  7. It’s like me giving myself a little pep-talk every time I look at my writing hand (I’m left-handed), and its keeping me accountable for achieving my goals. Even if I’m feeling unmotivated I can always try to write something in my creative journal, to reach for these goals.
  8. It reminds me that I create the reality I want to live. Whatever happens I am in charge of how I respond, and the future those responses then create for me. As someone who has struggled with their mental health I felt like this was another important memo I had to have tattoo-ed onto my wrist.

 

Process & Pain Rating?

This hurt no-where near as much as I had been told it would. It was like someone was scratching your wrist with a drawing pin. That was it.

The process was fairly simple on the day. The tattoo artist (if you come from Bradford, I really recommend Studio 38 and Danny Scott) had several different sizes of the glyph printed out. I chose one, he applied this to my wrist using some kind of transferable ink to use as a stencil. He prepared the inking gun, I had a cup of tea, and he then carefully traced the lines using the tattoo gun. There was a lot of anti-bacterial lotions etc used along the way. When it was all done, he cleaned it up, and wrapped it in cling-film. After 1 hour I was to take this off, and follow my after-care instructions. This meant cleaning it with warm water and a bit of antibacterial soap (if I wanted to use that), rinsing in cold water, patting dry, then rubbing a small amount of cocoa butter body lotion onto it to prevent it drying out and scabbing too much. As it’s a small design it shouldn’t scab over badly at all.

I had it done at 10am, and the swelling and redness is all but gone. The lines look very sharp, and it isn’t painful at all. I have to wrap it back up before bed, and repeat those steps for about two weeks. I should be able to go to the gym and stuff tomorrow. Showers are okay, but no long soaks in the tub.

 

There you have it. I am over the moon with my tattoo and had a really good experience! Right now I don’t have any immediate plans for more tattoos, but if I do get more then they will be more glyphs, possibly on my ankle or ribcage. I’m already eye-ing up the ones that mean “learn”, “challenge”, and “explore”…

How To Spend 48hrs in Edinburgh…

Okay, I was there Saturday mid-morning to Sunday late afternoon, so minus sleeping I actually got 13 hours of exploring time. This didn’t make for such a catchy title though. However, this post is still all about my top picks for things to do if you happen to be in Edinburgh for a weekend. There were still a few other things I wish I could’ve crammed in, and so if you have slightly more time than I did, then head for the Dungeon, and take a ghost tour!

EDINBURGH CASTLE

(£17ISH ADULT ENTRY, EXTRA FOR AUDIOTOUR)

This HAD to appear on the list. You can see the castle from the main street in Edinburgh and it is beautiful. It costs roughly £17 for an adult to get in, and you can pay for an audio tour too. I didn’t buy one of those, but just wandering around makes you feel like you’re in Game of Thrones. The view of the city from here is phenomenal (there’s also a whiskey tasting experience nearby!).

 

HENDERSON’S SALAD TABLE

The best veggie/vegan eatery in Edinburgh. I had planned to go to several different coffee shops, but this place was just too good to miss. Super-fast service, delicious home-cooked food, and a city centre location. I can recommend the Vegan Shakshuka (creamy, caramel-y sweet potato in place of eggs), and the porridge (super thick and a massive bowlful- just as porridge should be). If I had had another meal to fill, then I would’ve gone for their vegan haggis and tatties; unfortunately I arrived too early for the lunch menu, so if you want this be sure to get there after 12pm!

 

CALTON HILL, NATIONAL MONUMNET, NELSON’S MONUMENT

(FREE)

All of these are together because they are all next to each other. This is another spot where you get an amazing view of the city and surrounding areas. Best time of day? Get up early and head up there either for, or just after, sunrise. I was up early on Sunday morning, and as cities tend to be quite quiet until lunchtime at the end of the week, I had the monument pretty much to myself.

 

SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY

(FREE, PAY FOR VISITING EXHIBITIONS)

The art gallery near the Princes Street Gardens is spread over two buildings. You have to pay for one exhibition, but the other galleries are 100% free to get into. If you’re a fan of large oil paintings with tonnes of detail, or impressionist work, or modern art, take a look at the galleries. I spent a good couple of hours there.

 

EXPLORE THE STREETS

(FREE, depending on if you buy something)

For me this is my favourite thing to do when I visit somewhere new. I love to just wander around and explore, seeing what shops, cafés, art galleries, and bookshops I can discover. Edinburgh has plenty of hidden gems, and plenty of small winding cobbled streets to make your way down. Exploring on foot also means you get a good view of the statues dotted around the city.

 

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND

(FREE)

I was blown away by this museum. When you go up the stairs and into the main hall it takes your breath straight out of your chest. There is a lot in this place, so leave a couple of hours for it. I wish I’d had more time here. At the moment there is an exhibition on fashion through the ages, and much as I’m not really a fashion-enthusiast, I find past fashions really interesting. The café here is also really good, so check it out. Finally: try and arrive just before the hour to watch the millennium clock  chime.

 

PRINCE STREET GARDENS, QUEEN STREET GARDENS 

(FREE)

These gardens stretch alongside the highstreet, and you’ll often find people picnicking here or just enjoying the good weather (when it arrives). Grab some food, and bring a book with you to relax out in the open. The Queen Street gardens are also an option, though I feel like the Princes Street ones have more of a busy, lively vibe.

 

NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

(FREE)

This isn’t far from Henderson’s Salad Table, so perhaps tie them in on the same day. This was one of my favourite excursions. Its packed with self-portraits at the moment, in all kinds of mediums. The most impactful exhibition was Graham Maclndoe’s; he photographed himself both using and coming clean from heroin. If you’re more into modern art then check the Portrait Gallery out. The roof of the entrance hall is painted liked the night sky, with the zodiac constellations. Absolutely stunning.

 

There you have it, some cheap ideas for playing tourist in Edinburgh. If you have anything you think I should try next time I visit then comment below!

 

A Female Dr Who? About chuffing time…

For anyone who has been living under a rock: Jodie Whittaker is the next Dr Who. Although many have taken to social media feeds criticising this, many have also praised it- and I am about to join their ranks.

This isn’t going to be a long post, but I just needed to say this: my generation grew up with brilliant female companions (I was a huge Billie Piper fan), but they were never the main focus. I grew up never being able to play the hero if we were playing Dr Who. I could be the bad guy or a companion maybe (the former was more fun), but come on, I wanted to be The Doctor sometimes.

Even though shows like GoT have overtaken Dr Who for my viewing of choice, I still have a soft spot for the show. I remember watching Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and a bit of Matt Smith, and when Dr Who was one of the highlights of my day. In the past little boys have always played the hero, and the girls the one being saved. I think the fact that we now have Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and Whittaker as Doctor Who is revolutionary, and its about time little girls grew up with amazing role models on the screen. The show is about discovery, and so it needs to be continually moving forwards, pushing viewers to discover new things too. Continue reading

My University Experience: went for the degree, found a home.

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I’m on the left, and Hannah and Ellie are two of my best friends

I don’t know where three years have gone, but I have finished my English Literature with Creative Writing degree at Newcastle University- and I would go back and do it all over again tomorrow without a second thought. My title is no joke: reading numerous books, writing on them, and writing poetry for three years straight in a beautiful city was absolute paradise. I love my family, but Newcastle definitely provided me with a sense of being at home that I have never had before- I think because I chose it for myself and built what I would go as far as to call my ideal life there. When I finally settle in one place, I plan on it being Newcastle.  Obviously if you have found this post you are probably considering going to university, or you have applied and been offered a place. Congratulations if you have (especially if you’re headed to Ncl). You’re in for what could potentially be some of the best years of your life. My own degree is what I’m focusing on here, as I know a few universities offer it, and I am of course a huge advocate for Newcastle, as one of their alumni. I’m certain that I’m going to forget something in this post, because how do I cram three years into one piece of writing? I’ve tried to cover some of the bits I think you’ll want to know, but if you have any more questions please do contact me via the form filling in thing on this blog, and I’ll get back to you right away. Continue reading

April Goals Evaluation 2017- Finding employment & Getting a massage…

Looking back I actually got a hell of a lot done over April…it was a pretty productive month. As with all goals, some have been more important than others, and this month I chose to focus on uni and taking care of myself. Let me know how you’re doing as we enter month no.5 of reaching for 2017 goals – are you sticking with your goals? Have they changed slightly, as you learn more about what you really want? Have you dropped some in order to focus on others? Comment below, and also let me know: what has been your biggest achievement of April?

FOCUS GOALS OF THE MONTH:

Self

(This is where I am rolling all of these into one: Relax; Be more adventurous/ accept fear & uncertainty; Enjoy; Expand my mind and enrich my life)

  • On the expanding my mind front…
    • Podcasts listened to: 9.
    • Documentaries watched: 1.
    • GOT Season 6: Completed (documentaries come second to this. Always.)
    • TED Talks watched: 16.
    • Books/ short stories (any everything in-between) read- 4.
  • One of my biggest goals for the month was to read up on British politics and read into current affairs more (this also played into the final research for my file of original work- see below). I found a document on the history of British politics and read many articles on the Trump-Putin situation, which naturally did lead to reading up on North Korea too. So a bit of a learning curve here, to put it mildly.
  • I completed a 30 Days of Minimalism Challenge, and loved it. I feel I have a lot less clutter, and am still finding things to de-clutter now. I’ll be repeating the challenge a bit more ruthlessly, and in a shorter space of time, just before I leave Newcastle to move home (obviously I won’t fit everything I own into one room).
  • I got a massage! Major self-care points earned here, and it is 100% something I’ll be doing again.
  • I cut my hair even shorter, and its now hovering in ‘bobbed’ territory. I’ve also kept it that one shade darker, and I am LOVING it. Apparently, for the first time in my life, I look my age!
  • I also took a week off of list-making and just went with the flow. This meant that when I came back to lists I managed to really slim-line my To-Do’s. I also learnt to be more flexible and just take some time off full stop. The last week of my Easter break I let myself relax, and felt a lot better for it.
  • I tried four new fear foods (yaaay!!)- but then I also began binge eating again for some reason I am still trying to figure out. Possibly it is due to the immense amount of change just on the horizon, as I finish uni and have to leave Newcastle, which is more my home than home is, because I chose to live here.  You can read about this here, but obviously its a very upsetting thing for me to have binge eating re-emerge. However, I can and will get past it, and May will mean spending a lot of time on this.

STATUS: A mixed month. I did some great self-care activities, I tried some fear foods, completed a challenge, learnt loads- but also did have a bit of a dip in recovering from ED, and this month exposed a few issues I thought were no longer in existence. I also didn’t live up to my goal of replying to texts etc. more rapidly, though I did manage to meet a lot of friends in person.

Uni:

  • Handed in my biggest piece of work, which the past three years of learning has been building up to: my portfolio of original work. For anyone who is new here: that’s a collection of twenty poems, plus an essay explaining my creative process, research, and decisions, plus a bibliography detailing nearly a year’s research into my chosen topic.
  • I’d planned on completing my final two essays (due in May) during April. Didn’t happen. The above was, and had to be, my focus. So now (May) I am cracking down on these final two pieces of work, for which I did begin my research. I would like to highlight though that I could’ve really relaxed a bit more over Easter break. Our lecturers actually told us to put these essays on the back-burner, and I didn’t listen, wanting to just get them out of the way. Though the research I did was useful, I could definitely have taken it a bit easier.
  • Buying my graduation gown didn’t happen. Its on the list for next month. I really have no excuse for not finding time to do this. Buying lecturer gifts/cards hasn’t happened yet either, purely because I’ve realised it’s still slightly too early.

STATUS: Final two essays due in 9 days. Final lectures and seminars have been attended. Absolutely devastated that its over, but I’m focusing on just enjoying the final few days I have left in higher education.

MINOR GOALS OF THE MONTH:

Start to establish my career path

  • I HAVE A JOB!! I’m honestly still in a bit of shock regarding this. In September I’ll be taking up a position as a marketing executive for a social media management company dealing in food, drink, and tourism. I’ll be meeting clients, brainstorming campaign ideas, copywriting, and maybe even taking some photos for social media. I am incredibly grateful to be going into a job I love straight from uni. I kind of had to just do what I could with this in April, and then sit back and let what would be, be. I know that a lot of hard work over the years has gone into my getting this, including 6 months of relentlessly searching, and it feels good to be able to say that. I don’t believe in false modesty in women (in anyone, though we are more conditioned to adopt this attitude), and I’m going to say it: what with blogging, work experience, exams through high school and my degree, I have worked my arse off to get this and I am coming around to giving myself a pat on the back.

STATUS: Awaiting my contract to arrive, so I can sign my life away. I just have to keep my creative juices flowing, as my role will involve a lot of creativity, and so obviously I don’t want to be getting rusty. Continue reading

March Goals Evaluation 2017

I have NO IDEA where March went. However, I feel that I’ve made a lot of progress this month in terms of goals. You may remember that I decided to make a couple of goals a focus each month, to make them more manageable during the final few months of my time at uni. This doesn’t mean that I am “dropping” any goals, it simply means that I’m appreciating that I have 12 months in a year, and that gives me space to pick and choose. That plan made this month a hell of a lot easier.

FOCUS GOALS OF THE MONTH:

Self

(This is where I am rolling all of these into one: Relax; Be more adventurous/ accept fear & uncertainty; Enjoy; Expand my mind and enrich my life)

  • So, I watched 3 documentaries, listened to 4 podcasts, read 3 books, saw 1 Shakespeare play, tried 1 new fear food, and watched/ listened to (wait for it) a whopping 29 TED Talks. I am LOVING TED Talks. I watch one while I eat breakfast each morning, and I am learning so much from them.
  • I established more of an evening routine, which has been helping me sleep much better so far
  • I attended 2 workshops at the place I attend counselling for sorting out the last few ED issues I’m experiencing, plus my actual sessions (4 of them). I feel like I am making real headway with this. I only tried one fear food this month, but I’ve also realised that I need to address some scary eating situations (e.g. spontaneity). More on this though when I update you on my “final bits of mental recovery progress”. I will say though: I feel at a place where I am getting pretty comfortable around food and my body.
  • I tried a new gym class, and also accepted that I didn’t have time for the 1 hour 30 workouts I was doing- so I’ve shortened the workouts and been experimenting with new moves. For me this was both a massive act of self-love- appreciating I have better things to do- and also challenging a fear of my health and fitness backsliding if I shortened all of my workouts (hint: it didn’t. In fact, it improved).
  • Still gratitude-listing every morning, but journaling in general has been a massive part of my month. Its something I’ve fallen back in love with. Myself and my journal go get coffee and just…write.
  • Also, been much more creative this month, and so I feel my creative writing efforts have been on point.
  • Took the time to actually sit down and watch one of my favourite films: Spirited Away. Small thing, but I usually put off watching films in order to do work.

STATUS: Some things I wanted to do I simply didn’t get chance, such as a solo cinema trip, watching GOT season 6, and experimenting with clothes. These are things I really fancy ticking off next month. I also want to eat some more fear foods; as it was a busy month I didn’t have room to deal with the anxiety. As I’m on holiday for Easter I have a bit more breathing space. Finally: answering my bloody phone. I love alone-time, but I also love my friends. Though I do make the effort to see them in person, I am a legend when it comes to not replying to texts/messenger/fb/WhatsApp. I just hate doing it. I’m going to make the effort to try and check messages once a day, though I can’t promise I will, because I really do hate texting.

Expand my blog and IG

  • Didn’t manage to find any blogging events taking place nearby to book into-  #disappointing. Let me know if you know of any food/fitness blogging events in Yorkshire/Newcastle.
  • Created a massive planning document to keep track of posts and when they need to be done by, to aid me in continuing to post during essay time.
  • I’ve been posting to Campus Society! I’m working on replying to comments more often, but you can now find me on there!
  • Updated my ‘About’ page, and I’m considering doing an updated “50 facts” post now
  • I gained 14 new followers on WordPress- thank you and welcome aboard newbies! Comments went up, which is wonderful because I LOVE  chatting to you when I get chance to sit down and read comments. Likes and views went down slightly but I haven’t had much time to post this month so I’m assuming this explains it. It’ll be this way until I finish my essays and complete my third year. Which, in exchange for a degree, I can deal with.

STATUS: Going swimmingly.

Start to establish my career path

  • Applied for another few jobs: I have an interview for my DREAM JOB in mid-April, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed, keeping schtum on where it is at present, and  suddenly, much as I want a job doing something I LOVE, I’m also okay with moving home and getting a non-life-fulfilling job whilst applying for one that fits that description. I’ll take it as it comes, because right now my priority is completing my degree.
  • I did create a brainstorm, and then a flow chart (this is so me), of all of my options. And it made me feel like I had my shit together, and also let me work out a couple of alternative plans.
  • Attended a “creative careers” day that my uni throws every year, and got a lot of helpful advice and tips.

STATUS: Keeping an eye out for jobs, but waiting until after my interview to commit to anything major.

 

MINOR GOALS OF THE MONTH:

Travel more often & explore

Continue reading