a blog about an Essex girl living in Swansea, chatting about baking, rowing, other bits and bobs, and some crazy teaching times in India

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Swansea, Essex, Swansea, Essex, Swansea...

When someone tells you third year is the hardest of all and you'll be stressed out a lot, you don't believe them. Not really. You secretly hope they're just being a drama queen, or perhaps they're lying to scare you a bit.

Eek.

They're not lying, sadly.

Third year is possibly one of the most stressful education-related years of my life. Not that I remember any years when I wasn't in education. It's like you're forbidden to forget the years when you're truly free: those lovely years of other people feeding you (sometimes it's a lot of effort to do so now), wearing clothes that have a lot of stretch in them (I wish it was acceptable to wear more clothes with elasticated waistbands and poppers), and constant compliments on your starfish hands and chubby cheeks (if someone tells me that now, it's just an insult). I think our memories are revolting against us. We force them through so many scenarios that they are punishing us by erasing our beginnings. 

Fishy why are you sleeping!

I didn't go home for very long this Christmas. Instead I found myself booking a train back to Swansea before New Year's, case stuffed to the brim with yet more clothes from home that I really don't need, and travelling across London as the sales were in full swing. I'm sure no one appreciated the rather baggage-laden Essex girl taking up about a fifth of the carriage on the Hammersmith and City line. I've come back to do an essay because I have the concentration span of a goldfish when I'm at home. Three seconds if you were wondering. I looked it up on WikiAnswers, so it's obviously a hundred percent correct. I've programmed myself to actually switch on 'work-mode' when I enter the silent sections of the university library. Bottom floor, desk by a plug for my laptop charger, pile of books that I've lugged in from my room (I'm practically an Olympian at weight lifting now). 

Secretly, I sometimes want to tell the uni that I'm packing it all in to become a yoga teacher in India. Not that I'm qualified to teach yoga. Nor can I do it very well. But it's a nice little dream to have.

Look I'm a pro. 
Obviously this isn't me...

I can't wait to finish. 

Big love, xo.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Go to bed, Nay.

Standing where I am now, standing up at all,
I was used to feeling like I was never gonna see myself at the finish line,
Hanging onto parts of me, hanging on at all,
I was used to seeing no future in my sight line.

- I'm Not Their Hero, Tegan and Sara.

This is blatantly only happening because it is almost 2 a.m.; I'm getting all thoughtful and acting like a complete and utter idiot. Sentimental and all that. Boo hoo, I'm a third year, everything's ending, everything I once knew is coming to a close. Not quite yet. Almost, though.

Next thing I'll be putting on that Nickelback song about his photograph or whatever it is. 'Look at this photograph, everytime I do it makes me laugh, blah blah blah.' 

Tragic.

I hate how my perspective on everything has changed because of three months far away from home.

I miss you, India. Funny thing is, I kind of want to go back. Summer 2014? Where's my backpack... I'm going travelling.

Big love, xo








Friday, 4 October 2013

No wonder it's called Great Britain

Sometimes I'm very, very bad at keeping up to date with people. I don't think living away from civilisation has helped me much, either. The super-chilled lifestyle of India doesn't require a phone, nor does it require constant internet contact with my friends and the rest of the world. I could quite happily have spent a week oblivious to what was going on outside of Eranhimavu (the town in which I was located), concerned only with teaching the little ones my favourite topic of 'opposites' ("Big big big! Small small small!" Accompanied with a variety of actions; I looked a prize fool).

I would have packed this cutie into my suitcase to take home if that wasn't completely illegal.

So, understandably, it was quite a big shock coming back to the 'normality' of the UK. After the longest three months of my entire life, I eventually took a coach back to the location of my airport in Kerala (not an experience I'd like to repeat, ten hours on Indian roads is more than enough), spending a day on the beach (mostly getting hassled by a guy trying to sell me marijuana; "Lady wants a smoke? I think lady likes a smoke") and getting the most brilliant tan lines of my life - the lines halfway down my calves is all the rage now, didn't you know? - then getting driven to the entirely wrong airport, I was so ready to get back onto English soil. 

All of my experiences have culminated in me finding it amazing to spend all day on Facebook/Twitter/Internet Shopping Sites and believe it or not, my online module pages for uni. My lack of phone use I am also blaming on India. I still stuck with the snazzy little Sony Ericsson that looks like something someone's grandparent would own (whipping it out at uni is one of the best things - who needs an iPhone when you have this little bad boy?). This little blog has suffered a serious case of neglect too. I need to start compiling my India experiences, and writing a little bit about them. 

My lovely third standard girlies.

I'll make a list.

These are a couple of the many crazy things that happened to me in the mad world that is Asia...

- I've had far too many marriage proposals, none of which I accepted, but I did have a running joke with my Dad about an Indian man I made up called Raj.
- I got headbutted by a cow on my bottom.
- I tried so many different foods, some good, some bad, some having the end result of projectile vomiting.
- I had someone throw up on my feet on the bus. Mmm rice and curry on my toes!
- I made loads of amazing friends, especially this one mad lady that goes by the name of Lucy.
- I found out that tapioca is gross. Never eat it.
- Curry is not the best breakfast food.
- I had many near-death experiences on the 'roads' of India (a.k.a. dirt tracks).
- I was called 'Mam' or 'Madam' about a million times a day. I didn't think I'd miss it, but I do.
- I garnered some rather attractive - dodgy - tan lines.
- I met a marriage broker who offered to set me up.
- I touched various elephants, and now have an obsession with them. I want one as a pet.
- I lived with a Muslim family for three months.
- I actually taught kids things. They actually listened to me. I'm so proud.
- I saw too many spiders that were abnormally large. And I am now a spider murderer, my weapon of choice is the lethal instrument, the shoe.

Monster Spider.

But for now I'm back in Welshland, snuggled under my duvet, comforted by the homely sound of rain tapping on my windows, and blaring out Avril Lavigne - 'Whaaaay do you have to make things so com-pli-caaaay-ted.' 

swanseaSWANSEAswansea

I could quite happily never leave the UK ever again. Best country ever, just saying.

Big love, xo

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Hi there, my name is Man Boob.

This is going to be an entry that backdates itself a little bit. Last time I mentioned that I would write about my trip to the police station, my various food-related nightmares and my experiences as a teacher, so I'll move onto those in a bit.

So far, my life at Apex School has been what I can only describe as a complete and utter rollercoaster ride. Some days I end on a high, feeling like I've achieved something; the children are well-behaved and want to respond to my lessons, and I then feel as if my presence is worthwhile. However, other days can have the opposite effect on me. I won't lie, sometimes I can feel like teaching was one of the worst ideas I've had. It isn't often that I feel like that, thankfully, but on the other hand, life here isn't all rose-tinted spectacles and eager children, ready to soak up any word that comes out of my mouth. When a class is teetering on the see-saw of being a normal group of children or a riotous fairground/zoo, I am just about ready to jump on the train back to Trivandrum, intent on catching the next plane out of here. Back to England, back to Britain, where I am familiar with everything, everyone understands what I say, and I'm less at risk of being run down by a school bus, which is, ironically, a danger every time I attempt to get to school. 

But of course that would be ridiculous. My purpose of being here is to experience the profession of teaching, along with all the difficulties that come with it, it's like a package deal. More often than not I think an English school would be a thousand times easier! At the end of this - hopefully - I'll have made a difference, some lasting impression on these crazy children, and it will have taught me so many new things! 

I'm already at that stage where I'd say I'm 'finding myself.' I always find this expression a bit bizarre, to say the least, as how can you find yourself when you are right there? Your body can't just go for a wander without your brain, can it? It's a notion that a bit up-in-the-clouds, floaty with no grounding. I say this, but all my thoughts are just that - floaty nonsense that have no reason or rhyme. Maybe I don't like to think I needed to find myself, that I wasn't quite whole before coming here. Some of the holes in my life were suffering from a bit of a bodged job, they needed a bit more stitching. Luckily, with all the thinking I am able to do here, the needle and thread has been out again, patching up any cracks in my life, making it shiny and new. Funny how removing yourself from a place and replanting your life somewhere new (if only for a matter of months) can completely change your view on everything!

Anyway, after that off-topic blab, I'll tell you about the police station. If your visa is valid for over a certain period of time, you must register with the police. So yes, this was the reason I went for a cheeky check-up with the police, rather than something more worrying... My parents had a little panic when I first told them. Don't worry Mumsie, I won't be doing a Bridget Jones, stuck in some Indian ladies' prison, exchanging my bras for token items. At least I hope not. Keep your fingers crossed for me. The principle and one of the school drivers (minus his school bus, the average five-seater car was the replacement) took us to a place two hours from the school, called Varkala, to register Lucy (the other volunteer teacher) and I in the head police office for the area. The driver is now fondly known to us as 'Man Boob,' as during our first introduction to this man, we mistook his name, and were left in fits of giggles. This prompted an awkward conversation with the school principle, where we found out that the driver's name was actually 'Mahaboob' (unfortunately not quite as funny) and ended up explaining what a boob was. Lucy and I were both left staring incredulously at the principal after his many repetitions of "boo-bee" in slow, exaggerated speech, whilst trying to stifle another round of giggles.

At this police station, we were taken in to see the Big Chief, in an imposing room, where he sat behind his desk, eyes fixed on us in an investigative gaze as we entered the room. I almost wet myself in fright. Thank goodness the seats were still encased in the plastic covering which I assume they arrived in, as if the unfortunate event had taken place, it wouldn't have been a huge issue... 

A series of questions shot from the Chief's mouth, framed by a rather bristly looking moustache that made him look a lot more severe, demanding information about Lucy and I. Whilst she had a fit of giggles next to me, struggling to answer our version of the Spanish Inquisition we were faced with, I sat frozen in my seat, pale as a sheet. It seemed to take forever, and at one point we were almost sure we'd be ordered out of India. But, eventually, we were informed that we could stay, under the condition that we filled out yet more forms, and obtained documentation just before our departure to allow us to leave the country. All this for a visa!

On the subject of food, I've become quite used to eating with my right hand, so on the odd occasion that I am able to use cutlery, it feels slightly odd. From time to time, I do forget and the left hand creeps in, ready to aid my right in the tearing of a poppadom, but I do my best to keep such instances at bay, as the left hand is used for bathroom-related issues here. Think no toilet paper. Thank goodness I brought my own supply. 

I've had rice almost every day, plus curry, and sometimes an assortment of different bread/pancake-type foodstuffs (chipatti etc.). I'll come back to the UK twice as big if I don't watch it (what with the sweets I am quite often plied with at school). I am pining for my normal fare of meals, toast, pasta... even a bowl of cereal. My daily helping of porridge is no more!

Lucy and I have had a couple of food disasters here. I'm grateful I'm veggie, as I can avoid some of the dishes (beef is buffalo here). One morning we were dished up tapioca, aka vomit, and in Trivandrum one of my breakfasts was coated in sugar (rice, chickpeas and sugar - not the best combo). My worst moment was a case of the sickness bug, I had something quite similar to food poisoning. One weekend was spent in bed/by the loo, hacking up my entire stomach. I didn't appreciate reliving my meals at all. Again, it happened a week later, but I'm crossing my fingers against any future illness. My system can't cope!

I can't complain too much though, as apart from those traumas, I have been fed well and it's interesting trying so many spices and dishes! 

Updates on this weekend next time; my sightseeing in Kerala and what it was like. Hope you are well, wherever this finds you!

Big love, xo

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Touchdown.

Boarding the plane to Trivandrum, I was suddenly aware that I was the only white person on this particular Air India flight. I was slightly out of my comfort zone, as I could not hear a word of my mother tongue. Most of the other passengers were native Indians, chattering away in their own dialects, which sounded deliciously foreign, filled with unknown phrases and the frequent 'head wobble' which embellishes most conversation. I felt slightly awkward, acting under my usual persona; not entirely cultured and unbeknown to the various Indian habits that I would soon have to familiarise myself with. In my new clothes I had bought in the hope that I would look respectful in my new environment, I felt underdressed. Some of the women sparkled in layers of colourful cloth and jewellery, whilst I shifted nervously in my seat, adjusting my sombre two-tone maxi skirt and my blouse a size too large, trying to work out just how a sari would stay in place if I was to wear one.

My clothing-related ponderings were diffused by a short but turbulent flight, in which I received my third in-flight meal. By this point, I was just about ready to burst, my stomach was straining. I toyed with my roll, nibbling on some rice and then gulped down my coffee in one go, attempting to stay awake. The caffeine had little effect on my already travel-tired body, which was attempting to battle an oncoming bout of drowsiness from a night without sleep. I'm sure the man next to me - a thirty-something with a creased suit and a similarly creased frown - wasn't too overjoyed at my spontaneous snooze on his shoulder. Thank goodness I didn't leave a complimentary wet-patch there; he probably wasn't looking for a reminder, a.k.a. a dribbly souvenir, from flight AI 227.

Touching down at Trivandrum Airport, I was met by someone from the teaching programme which I am now part of, then bundled into a taxi which promptly took me to Kovalam Beach. Kerala greeted me with some of the best downpours I have seen so far, drenching me from head to toe on my first excursion along the seafront, leaving me to wring everything, from my top right down to my knickers, in the hotel sink.

The hotel, named Sky Palace, wasn't quite the mirror image of its grand name, but did provide the basics, a bed and en-suite bathroom (the classy bucket-and-jug method of washing). The hotel owner was a sweet little man named Gopal, who willingly carried my luggage from my taxi to my room, despite it not being the lightest bag in the world, nor the shortest journey from car to accomodation.

My first week was spent in Trivandrum itself, at a small pre-school which operated under the Montessori method of teaching. The children were lovely but quite often it was frustrating because of their limited English (which, of course, is understandable, because at three years old I wasn't exactly well-versed in the second most-spoken language in the world, nor any other besides). However, I enjoyed chattering away to the boys and girls; my thoughts were that any exposure to a native tongue would be better than none.

The following Saturday I travelled by train from Trivandrum to another large city further up the coast from my arrival port. This place is known as Calicut, and I am now based in a large school about an hour 's drive away from there. My new title is either, Miss Naomi, or Naomi Miss. I'm not wildly fond of the other two, Ma'am or Madam.

"What are Ma'am's parents' names?"
"Naomi Miss, Naomi Miss, are you marriage?"
"Ma'am, you are like a Barbie doll!"
"Ma'am! Ma'am! Brothers? Sisters?"

Some of these I hear repeatedly, on a daily basis, so I'm sure the school must know my family tree now, plus their occupations, and goodness knows what else. My personal favourite this week has been "You are so white!" To which I replied "Umm... I know?" In a rather confused tone.

Anything you'd expect from a schoolchild in Britain, expect the complete opposite here. I've now had a week and a half of hair and face stroking, staring, note-giving ('I love you' - remind me to dig these out next Valentine's Day?) and even gifts of chocolate and sweets (you cannot diet here, no way).

The Apex School, for this is the name of the establishment that I am teaching in, is a learning environment for around 700 pupils, both male and female, ranging from 'kindergarten' age right up to the sixth form years, where I think some of the boys and even girls look older than me. Highly embarrassing. It's a predominantly Muslim school, but the other religions that run through the classes include Christian and Hindu denominations. It is a bit strange, however, as there is no atheism in this area. Either you are one religion or another, you cannot be without. But they all do live in harmony, which I think is a good example to other communities!


I have been assigned the younger years so far, observing classes and teaching in them. It's touching to see them sing songs about elephants and butterflies, and let them construct sentences in the correct tense, but quite often they can be naughty or badly behaved, just as much kids in a British school. Whoever said Indian schoolchildren were well-behaved?
I'll write another update soon, probably about my other teaching experiences, food traumas, new words and my trip to the police station...


Big love, xo

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Tick tock, Tick tock...

4 days. Only 4 days until I will be in Heathrow, panicking in the departures lounge, after staring absent mindedly at all the duty free that I think I want but I definitely don't need.

The nervousness is setting in, I can feel it.

I need make sure I've got all my essentials. PANIC, PANIC. Perhaps that's my cue to head to Boots and raid the holiday section. Insect repellent, I'm coming for you.


Big love, xo

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Indian Summer

School's out for summer!

My second year of university is DONE. Completed. I have one more year until I'm off into the big bad world to begin the 'grown up' stage of my life. Post-student. I'm dreading it.

Thankfully that isn't quite yet. Summer's started. And guess what!

Earlier this year, I signed up to a TEFL programme which offered an opportunity to teach in India. I was over the moon and beyond when - after various different emailing processes, an interview, and other formative routines - I found out I would be teaching in a school in Kerala! It's been a lengthy procedure of gaining my visa and booking flights plus having travel vaccinations, amongst other bits and bobs, but it is now less than a week until my flight from Heathrow.

I AM SO EXCITED.

I hope to write as much as I can about my trip there on this blog, and give everyone updates on my travels/my time at the school!

The countdown to Kerala is on!

Big love, xo

P.S. Every time I say I'm going to India for the summer, the Stereophonics song plays in my head and gets stuck there for days.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Walking Home on Thursday

Note to self: 
Next time you walk along the street pretending your unopened umbrella is a lightsaber, a good idea would be to make the swooshing sounds in your head rather than uttering them out loud. This will save any forthcoming embarrassment which could occur when the man who is trimming the tree branches gives you a strange look and begins chuckling to himself.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

There Goes That Consonant...

"Those three small words
Were way too late
Cause can't you see that I'm the one?" 
- Three Small Words, Josie and the Pussycats

Is anyone else a little bit scared of using the 'L' word?

I throw it around in everyday situations, applying it to whatever takes my fancy. I love that dress, I love this chocolate, I love that guy/girl! I over-exaggerate and get very excited about small things, and apply excessive feelings towards things that probably don't require such fond words. I describe people as 'lovely' and 'beaut' all the time, just because that is my own language now. Much of what comes out of my mouth is complete and utter nonsense, and ridiculously embroidered. 

I like pretty things. Pink things. Bright colours, rainbows, sunshine. My language is the same. Making everything sound perfect is one step closer to it becoming happy and beautiful. I sound like a small child, but I'm not changing for anyone. Sugar coating everything makes the miserable things seem a lot more bearable.


So, the 'L' word. Love. Big love. I have big love for my readers, my friends, my family. A lot of love. I'm giving it away like a freebie here. Roll up, roll up. But isn't there a difference to loving someone and being IN love with them?

It's a right puzzle. It crops up in all our lives at some point, I think. You'll see it on TV shows, in films, read it in your books. How do you know you really love someone? Whether you love them as a friend, that sparkly happy feeling of appreciation and admiration; or whether you're in love with them. What's the boundary? Where is that tipping point which flings you into that terrifying world of true love?

I think I've been in love before. I'm 21 years old, so people may say that's too young. But my kind of real love has only happened maybe twice. However, I'd say it was different for each case. Each scenario changed depending on my age and how my mind worked at that point. I've felt myself get more mature because of both situations - learning from my mistakes. Those people have prepared me for what might be coming. I am a little bit more in control of myself, I think about my actions, and I have this horrible habit of mulling over what I really want to do (if I actually do like someone properly). 

So what is being in love with someone? I think it's hard to define. For me, I'd say it's that tingly feeling you get when you look into that person's eyes. When you think of them you smile to yourself. You appreciate everything they do, and you can forgive almost anything they do. With my last boyfriend, I would have forgiven him for anything, I think. Which is rather creepy if you think about it. Maybe that's excessive love.

I think you find out if you loved someone if you break up with them. If it's a situation which you can move on from quickly, maybe you weren't a victim of Cupid and his little bow and arrow. If you're still having an emotional palava five, six, seven, eight months on, then maybe you were. Thwack, you're hit. It might be time for you to turn up the volume on that Taylor Swift track and do some screaming into your pillow.

All you are is mean... And a liar, and pathetic... la la la

But obviously you don't want to find out this way. 

I just know it's a scary word. It sticks in your throat; you move your lips struggling to get it out whilst it tries crawling back down to the pit of your stomach. 

Should you fight for it, or should you leave it there, down in the depths, buried forever?

Sunshine and Rainbows?

Big smiles, xo

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Bon Anniversaire!

My brother Stephen had far too much choice cake-wise this weekend.



Along with finally being able to drink legally, he was spoiled with some super cool presents for his 18th.

We had a little afternoon tea sesh at the White family household - I spent the morning baking and little else, and produced probably too many cakes, and have been trying to palm them off (fairly easily) onto people ever since. Each family member was issued with a cupcake each when they left, after having a sugary sweet slice of birthday cake.


We even went to the Warner Bros Studios today as part of Stephen's birthday present. I think I've fallen in love with Rupert Grint far more than before.



I'll post some more soon.

Big love, xo

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Sunday

I think it's acceptable to make a pre-birthday cake.

Funky Monkey.

Told you I was going to.

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE. Make sure you eat lots and lots of chocolate eggs (or bake them into cakes, I made the filling of this cake out of some of mine...)

Big love, xo

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Recipe Time: Choc choc chocoholic

Yet again, I've been stuffing my face with cake. Or, more accurately, trying to stuff everyone else with cake. Hey, it's cold outside. We need the energy.


Being home means unlimited access to ingredients. We have a few shelves in the kitchen that I refer to as 'The Baking Cupboard' - which is pretty much my version of Disneyland. Along with the essentials (flour, sugar etc.) there are lots of other little nifty bits that are always useful when having a spur-of-the-moment cake making sesh. Which would count for the majority of times that I decide to be baker for the day. There is a rainbow-inspired assortment of food colourings: Dr. Oetker is a big fan of labelling them with fancy names, Sunshine Yellow and Ultra Violet being my favourite. Then there's the various packets of nuts and dried fruits, vanilla pods, sprinkles, chocolate pieces... You name it, it's in there.

Wednesday this week was a productive day. I made two different types of cupcake. Chocolate chips were the major feature, with vanilla buttercream making an appearance on both, except one had a little twist. I added peanut butter to the mix, and also after piping the buttercream on top I left a space in the middle to spoon on a mouthful-sized amount of peanut butter, straight out of the jar. Yummy yummy. Next time though, I think I might work on making the peanut butter ones a little bit lighter. I think there was possibly a lil' bit too much flour in there. My Dad very much enjoyed it, however I'm my worst critic and I say they weren't quite there. Mary Berry would have had some comments to make, I feel.

What a babe.

Sooooo. Let's go by the usual cupcake mix. (Click here.)

Good ol' choccy chip...
If you follow all those instructions apart from putting in the oven (I'm being lazy and not bothering to rewrite. Or copy and paste. Hang on, that would have been a splendid idea...), you need to add about 200g of chopped chocolate into the bowl, and mix it in with the cupcake batter. Make sure the chocolate is cut up into small pieces, much like chocolate drops. You could use those if you prefer. I also used milk chocolate for this, but I suppose dark or white works beautifully as well. Bake like usual.


Pipe on your buttercream in a swirl and add on some decoration. I chose to alternate between coloured hundreds and thousands and chocolate sprinkles, adding white chocolate chunks to the top of each. 

What you'll need for the buttercream...
140g butter or margarine
300g icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Method...
1. Making sure the butter is soft, start beating it and add in the icing sugar in small amounts, sieving it as you go.
2. If the mixture becomes too stiff to cream together, add a little bit of the milk.
3. When all is combined, pour in the icing sugar, mixing the buttercream well until all the ingredients are combined.
4. There you have it! Scrummy vanilla buttercream. Pop in a piping bag and away you go. Or just dollop on top for an effortless look! Time for decoration.



The peanut butter ones are a little different. I'd use the same cupcake recipe again, but I'd probably only use 110g of flour, then add about 3 large tablespoons (just stick your spoon in that jar and go for it. Don't forget to lick the spoon afterwards. But don't put it in the bowl after, you minger). Add in 200g of chocolate pieces like before and fold that all in. Cook like usual.

The next bit is icing the cupcakes. Leave a space in the middle after piping on the buttercream. You can pop a dollop of peanut butter there and then decorate that with milk chocolate chunks. I also chose to add a couple of mixed nut pieces on there too.

Hello sugar rush!

Go on, eat up, you've deserved it after all that hard work. Baking is stressful.


Big love, xo

P.S. I'm still really excited about baking a cake for my brother's birthday. Maybe I can make two cakes... A pre-birthday and actual birthday cake? That would work, right?

Monday, 25 March 2013

Descriptive Title Right Here: Reviews and Plans

This term has probably been one of the strangest out of my lot at university. So now I'm so glad to be home! I've gone through a lot of moments this year where I return to the foetal position, curling up in my bed with my little sheep 'hottie' on my belly. That's one of those heat-in-the-microwave type fluffy animals. Except I use mine as pretty much a teddy bear because I have now turned into Benjamin Button and am ageing backwards. I now appreciate this kind of toy more than I did when I was two years old. And this is apparently how I comfort myself when I am homesick these days.
I learnt this word in one of my lectures the other day. It's a Welsh word; it can't quite be defined in English. That's why I think I like it so much.

There have also been multiple nights out, with multiple consequences. I won't delve too deep; I do that far too often and I feel like I may have embarrassed myself quite enough for now. But I will say there have been some absolutely stunning Facebook photos of me in my lycra all-in-one - it's a bit of rowing kit, for those who are reading this horrified at the thought. It was a themed night, and everyone from my club did dress in theirs, so it was okay... I didn't look like an idiot alone. You can't be too embarrassed when it's a collective decision to go out as if you all got dressed in the dark.

Toilet photos on a whole new level.

I have also become closer with a lot of girls this term that I definitely wouldn't have imagined being good friends with last term. Not that they're weird or anything, just that I wasn't best pals with them in 2012. Actually, the first bit is a big fat lie. They are weird, but I wouldn't have them any other way, because of course that would make things a hell of a lot more boring.

In regards to university, I have been mostly on top of work. Sometimes I wish I literally was. Standing on top of it and stamping around because I don't actually care about the PACL measurement of democracy. Anyway, what was I saying? On top of work. Yeah, so I'm now a pro at constructing my life around the library opening hours - if that's not something I should add to my CV in big bold letters, I don't know what is.

Let's move on to future plans/assignments/visions/that kind of thing. 

It's my brother's birthday on Monday. The big ONE-EIGHT. Old enough to have a legal drink or two. Or five. He's mostly sensible, so I think he'll be okay. He's going to read this and laugh. All I'm saying is, he's got the I-know-better act down to a T even if that's not the case.

What comes with birthdays? CAKE. Yes, that beautiful sugary thing that after one mouthful you want slice after slice after slice after oh wait, I broke the scales. Why are those in the bathroom anyway? I'd rather be a happy fatty with a lot of cake than a skinny minnie with a glass of water in my hand and a rumbling tummy.


I am clearly going to take this as a chance to show off. I've got a lot of plans regarding this cake. I am ridiculously excited; I'm going the whole hog. Forget a simple sponge cake. None of this standard jam and buttercream nonsense (although it does taste amazingly good). I'm going to be going all out. British Bake Off, watch your backs. Cake Queen is once again donning her crown and apron, going in for a bit of kitchen lovin'.

I might pretend I'm good at crafts and make myself a crown because I'm that much of a loser.


Big love, xo

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

I'll Google it.

When I get married (if I get married... Dog lady plans are already in motion as an alternative. I will be buying a small chihuahua and pretending my name is Elle Woods, along with an assortment of Andrex puppy labradors) I don't just want the standard tiered wedding cake. Of course I do want layers and layers of sponge covered in sickly sweet icing and some flowery sugarcraft decorations. Maybe even a fruitcake or chocolate sponge layer if I'm aiming to please all.

But after a cheese-craving-inspired search on Google (the joys of getting distracted on the internet), I have decided I will have a post-dessert wedding cake. It'll be like a cheeseboard. But better. Who knew that cheese wedding cakes were a trend?

Alternatively, if someone buys me one of these now, I would not be protesting. Tell you what. I'll provide the cream crackers.


I wouldn't want to be privy to my mind if I were you. What with all those thoughts of cheese and crackers, I don't think you'd want to comprehend what else goes on in there. 

Big love, xo

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

It's been a while...

Flip my laptop open, it flickers into life. A couple of whirring noises, the Windows start-up sound flitters through the air. Type password in, easy, simple, anyone could guess it. Or maybe that’s the point? It’s so simple that no-one would think of it immediately. The screen’s only been on standby; Google Chrome displays a range of different tabs, Facebook, Twitter, 4OD, a couple of online journals (probably JSTOR) and a page that displays Brazil’s election results.


I check Facebook to see if I have any notifications, oh, look, I’m popular! The red box over the notifications button invites me to click it. Disappointing. An invite for a game I really don’t want to join, some event notifications for student nights out I don’t plan on going to, and if I’m lucky, someone has messaged me to say hi. My favourite message at the moment is a group one entitled ‘Jess drank pee.’ Don’t ask.

I then flick to my work pages. I frown at the PDFs I need to download from JSTOR, and my mind draws a blank when I try and decipher the stats on the page for Brazil’s legislative elections. Would someone like to tell me when I signed up for a mathematics degree? Never mind making a table out of my results, I can’t decipher the initial statistics I need to put together.

I press the minimise button, and my university work disappears. I turn the volume up to maximum on my iTunes, and press play. My shuffle chooses Kate Nash. I have admittedly bad music taste in general, but this one is good.

I hate seagulls,
And I hate being sick.
-          Kate Nash, I Hate Seagulls


I am so ready to pack my things up for Easter and clamber aboard the First Great Western to London Paddington. I want my train seat back, my pull-out tray, the window to my side. I want to stare out at the Welsh hills and make up stories in my head that I will one day be a pro-explorer and camp there, buying myself a patterned tent and co-ordinating camping gear, with a compact little camping stove where I can toast pink and white marshmallows until they go all gooey. Sugar rush.

"Toast Meeeee"

I feel so stressed out right now. For once I’m on top of my work. Yes, I know. Miracles do happen. I've rekindled my on-off library romance, and we are now officially back in a relationship, after spending at least three long days in each other’s company. So that’s not a problem. I am mostly on top of my exercise regime, apart from my recent ‘man arms’ pandemic where a dodgy Wednesday night picture showed me looking a little bit too muscly for my liking. So that’s not a problem, either.

I want things to be back to normal, please.

I’ll let you in a little secret. I’m not quite as confident as I sometimes pretend to be.

Big love, xo

Monday, 11 March 2013

Monday Morning

Busy weeks, lots of gym work, lots of lectures, time wasted on Facebook, library sessions, living at the marina, spending too much time on rivers, discussing a lot of rowing-related topics, discovering more blisters on my hands and feeling very masculine, eating my weight's worth in food and now coping with a jelly belly, driving to London and getting stuck there, thinking about people that are no longer in my life (love you Grandad), calling up my Mum because she is amazing at reassuring me, having an amazing group of friends, writing an essay, getting very interested in African proverbs and getting a little bit too distracted, eating porridge and drinking tea, sitting in my pyjamas and typing away on my laptop.

So when my essay is finished, I'm actually going to make the effort and write a real post. But I'm having far too much fun writing about postcolonial literature at the moment.

Big love, xo.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Ring-a-ring-o'-roses

"Ring-a-ring-o'-roses
A pocket full of posies
Ah-tissue! Ah-tissue!
We all fall down."


This may be the first Pancake Day where I'm not craving pancakes. Something is definitely wrong. I think that would have been blatantly obvious to anyone who entered my room this morning. I've been struck down by the plague - tissues littered the floor beside my bed, medication was stacked up on my bedside table, and I was sniffling away under the covers, feeling a bit more than sorry for myself.

I made the decision that today would be a bed day from the moment I woke up. After a less-than-inspiring phone call with my father ("Nay, you need to step it up"), I wasn't exactly raring to go. But after managing to drag myself into uni (looking more stunning than usual, red nose from all that sneezing and hair that was crying out for a wash - I showered, don't worry, just didn't go the whole hog in the bathroom this morning); I felt it was a rather pointless trip.

I hate being ill. I also hate ill people. It's a good combo, isn't it? Moaning comes top amongst my favourite hobbies, yet moaning about being ill is definitely one of my pet hates. How ironic. "I'm dying," "I feel like death," "I am a complete and utter minger," being my most used phrases at the moment. I love the word 'minger,' makes me feel like I'm eleven again. It's such a stupid word. If words can be stupid.

So to put it simply. I highly dislike myself right now. I will only be happy once my body has ridden itself of this disease. C'mon viruses, move onto the next victim already, I'm bored of you now.

Then I might feel like eating pancakes.


Big love, xo.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Big Love? More like Big Loser.

February the fourteenth. That day is a killer for all singletons, I'm sure. I may have already stated my current stance on relationships/dating/couples... They're big fat cliches, mostly, and I dislike it when people are overly public and cringey. I'm mostly just jealous, to put it simply.


So my email account is already piling up with Valentine's-associated junk; everyone is at it. Tesco are offering me discount wine to woo my potential lover, and even the National Union of Students - NUS - are suggesting food deals for that 'special' evening meal (trying to fit in with the student ideals and offering Dominos vouchers. If someone did that for me, I don't think I'd be entirely impressed. Though I'm not exactly in a position to reject anything right now). Why is this day become such a significant event in our calendar? I remember when I was younger it was important, sometimes even part of lesson plans in school, where we'd make cards, normally for our mothers. But it was never marketed to this extent.


I'm having a moan because I want a boyfriend for the night.

They should have a rent-a-boyfriend service.

I wouldn't mind having a snuggle with a boy, watching a rom-com, stuffing my face on rich foods and getting tipsy on some fancy wine, or perhaps even pushing the boat out and sipping away on some champagne. Oh, and being presented with a big fat bouquet of roses. And another thought, I wouldn't mind someone popping over to wake me up in the morning, with a tray of breakfast specially prepared (I wouldn't even expect eggs Benedict, porridge will do me fine, honestly).

I don't ask for much, really.

But a romantic night in with my housemates munching on an Marks and Sparks Dine for Two will do, I suppose.

I'm joking, I'm mega-excited. Who needs boys? Totally going in for the 60's feminist movement. Going to burn my bras and everything.

This is my kind of love. Cake, you spoil me.

Big love, xo

Friday, 8 February 2013

February 8th

"Big Issue, Big Issue, Big Issue, I saw an angel, Big Issue, Big Issue..."

I hope that was me you were talking to, you made me smile for the rest of the day.

Big love, xo

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Baring It All

I read a post by another blogger talking about weight. Weight issues are a big, scary topic. In today's society, there's so much pressure to be skinny and toned, to have that hot body that is so sought after (and I think doesn't actually exist, unless we begin living in a world of Photoshop. Oh wait. The magazines are doing that already).

I'm not going to lie, I am constantly assessing how I look. I can sometimes go days without checking anything but my face in the mirror, but other times the mirror is necessary. I take off my pyjamas rather gingerly and look at myself naked, standing to the side and rubbing my stomach, worrying myself over whether it is bloated, or sticking out more than usual, or just fat in general. It's the pressure of society, I think. I constantly feel the need to look slim, as if people are judging my personality on how much I weigh.

It's kind of disgusting if you think about it.

People shouldn't be judged on just how they look, but sadly first impressions are mainly based on how you're dressed, if you're smiling, and of course, how chubby you are looking. That's if you're shallow of course. I sincerely hope the entire world is not like this.

If anyone mocks my weight, or makes a negative comment about it, it plunges me into a state of despair. I'm getting better at that now though. Baby steps, that's what it is. My idea of a big achievement is having three meals a day, plus snacks. I feel so healthy, I feel so proud of myself.

You see, I used to be really bad with my eating. To the point where medical advice was involved. I'm not going to discuss it too deeply, as I do feel like it reaches the undesirable point of being too public on the world wide web, but if anyone wants to chat to me about it, feel free. I'm just one of many that do end up succumbing to the pressure of the media image. I was obsessed, to put it bluntly. After putting on a lot of weight about two years ago, I made drastic changes to my diet and kind of abused my body. It's hideous now to think about, because it only served to change my personality, making me someone I wasn't particularly keen on. I was snappy, I had a lot of mood swings, I saw a different person in the mirror. I think we all have an element of body dysmorphia within us, however I think that some people are more susceptible than others to take that to the extreme. It's frustrating to know that everyone around you is seeing something different to your own eyes. You feel deceived, annoyed. Stuck. It's a difficult spiral, and you head down and down until something, or someone stops you.



Thankfully I did have that something to stop me. I was intent on helping myself, as I was beginning to become repulsed with what I was doing. But you realise that you can't do it all on your own, no matter how strong you may think you are, or no matter how proud you are (asking for help is not a weakness). I had that little push from others around me; my family, my friends, my boyfriend at the time. It all pushed me to be 'normal' again. I'm good now, I'm really good. Took it's time, but I'm there. And I'm so ridiculously proud of myself.

Happiness is the goal. Not being thin. Being thin might make you look good, but do you feel good as well? Starvation isn't a valid dieting method. Nor is any other form of bodily harm. Because that's what it is, isn't it? It's playing around with your insides, tricking them and pushing them to their limits.

My housemate is very diet-conscious at the moment even though I think she is stunning, and doesn't need to lose the weight. She's trying weird methods for fast weight loss. I don't believe in that though.

Stick to a gym plan. Go for runs if not. Eat sensibly. You're allowed to stuff your face with chocolate if you want to, just make sure you eat well the next day. Don't succumb to the constant temptation of takeaways. I'm not going to lie, but I would say my willpower has been pushed and pulled to almost breaking point over the past year or so. Resisting is what I have to do. It's something that works. Even if I do go on a carb-party with my cupboard, I know that all I need to do is make sure I eat a little less the next day, or maybe go for a mega cardio session in the gym, sweating it all out. It's about balance. 

This post didn't have much structure, it was more an overflow; everything inside is bubbling out in little bits, not necessarily in the right order or even worded the right way.

Beth Ditto of The Gossip - She's amazing, she won't change for anyone.

All I'm trying to say is - it's not all about how thin you are. Curvy is the way forward. I think those women are the most beautiful, as they're full of energy and glowing, not crippled with hunger and pale as a sheet. Also. Think about it next time you insult someone weight-wise. You could be doing a whole lot more damage than you realise.


Model-like gap between your legs? I'd rather a pot of Ben and Jerry's, please.

Big love, xo

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Well, you do ramble.

Weekends where you can get away. People who are genuine. Feelings that can never be invented. Faith that can never be lost. Love that is everlasting. 

That's what I feel about the last 24 hours.

Now, completely unrelated.

I want to write a post that's going to delve further than I ever have before. I want to tell people things that I like to bundle up. I read a brilliant post by another blogger and I want to write my own. Let's call it inspired.

I'll explain some more tomorrow, when I'm not falling asleep or clutching my belly as it's developing a sizeable food baby (my eyes are bigger than my stomach).

Big love, xo

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Oh wait. Wrong superhero.

I'm now a crime-fighter. Swansea student by day, patrolling Wind Street by night.

Robin/Batgirl/Wonder Woman/Catwoman. In case you didn't guess.

Think I enjoy running around in a cape far too much.

Big love, xo

Rain, rain, go away, please don't come again another day

Note: I wrote this the other day and may have only just finished it now.
I've just got in from food shopping in town, and I resemble a drowned rat. Or a chipmunk, to be more precise, as I often think my front teeth veer to the larger side of the scale. So sitting here nibbling on my Ryvita (I tell people I think it tastes nice, but I'm lying, although this time I think I picked the better flavour, Mediterranean Herbs; feeling like devouring the whole packet but surely that would defeat the object of buying Ryvita), I am wondering who actually looks good in the rain. So I've made a top five of famous people. It's hard to even do that, because most people look disgusting when their make-up runs and their shoes are sodding. Even actresses. Even models.

NUMBER FIVE
Well, this one was kind of obvious. As much as I really dislike The Notebook (I will only watch it to admire Ryan Gosling's beautiful face); and as much as I think the kissing in the rain scene is hideously cliche but kind of hot (mainly because Ryan Gosling is involved); Rachel MacAdams seems to pull off 'caught-in-a-rainstorm' chic. Or maybe I'm just wishing I was her in that scene...


NUMBER FOUR
Penn Badgely has got that geeky cute look down to a T. I don't know how he does it but he manages to be one of those people that seem to not know they're attractive yet are astonishingly so. I like those people. They're the most reliable. If you know you're attractive, you're normally a bit arrogant (I was going to say up yourself, but I think that's a bit too harsh).
Anyway, look at him battling that wind. Penn, feel free to save my umbrella anytime.



NUMBER THREE
Nicole Kidman is one of those lucky ones who are blessed with the gift of looking good au naturel. I just wish she'd eat a bit more cake.



NUMBER TWO
So number two is a kind of joint one. Because they're equally beautiful. As much as I feel that Kate needs to put on weight (can't wait until the baby fat is showing, she is going to look so healthy), she is still stunning. If only I could have her legs! Or tummy. Or face. Or all of them, and I'd be hottie of the year, woo hoo! I'd also have a gorgeous husband and a couple of estates in my pocket too. Nice one.



NUMBER ONE
So the winner is totally justified. Ewan McGregor just looks good in anything, fact. I am a total sucker for him in Star Wars especially. I'm just a total sucker for Star Wars in general. I think any girl would agree - and if they don't, they're suffering from concussion or similar.



Hope you enjoyed my little bit of celeb-admiring. Now you know my crushes.

Big love, xo

P.S. Ewan McGregor, call me maybe?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Thoughts

Perhaps the more I do which hurts me will also in turn hurt you, and push you further away. Then you'll get over it sooner.

I don't think the required motions are being enacted. It's revolving and I keep ending up back to where I started.

(I want some) big love (in the form of hugs) xo

Sunday, 27 January 2013

This Is How Weekends Should Be.

It's sad that my Sunday nights consist of watching Call the Midwife and Mr Selfridge, already in my pyjamas, wrapped in a blanket on the sofa.

Did someone say middle-aged?

Big love, xo

Oh Hey There.

It's been on my mind for a while, but I thought it was about time to write another post. I've come to associate writing on here with various different things - and those associations aren't exactly bright and rosy, they're a bit dim and damp, the darker corners of my life. Of course some posts are super cheery, I'm loving life, going a bit crazy for it actually, but then I think the majority come across as a bit of a whinge. A bit of whine. I'm writing to get problems off my chest.

I hate the fact that it seemed like there was a succession of dismal accounts of my life - 'I've just come out of relationship, boo hoo' 'I'm finding it difficult to get over someone so I'm going to have a huge rant and confess all my deepest feelings for him' 'I'm getting slightly better so I feel like I should blab about it.' In all honesty, I have decided that as much as I dislike myself for writing some of those things, and perhaps being a lot more open than I should have been (I sometimes refer to this blog as a kind of public diary), I am kind of glad I did get that out of my system. 


See, I've been going through a bit of a life trauma. I won't go into the ins and outs, because there are kind a few and they're kind of boring and lengthy. And also, a bit too personal. As much as I enjoy plastering my life all over social networks, I do wish for some element of privacy. My life took a bit of a nosedive last term, but Christmassy things and having a bit of a break from uni certainly helped, and I'm feeling slightly better about things, though I'm still prone to slipping back into bad habits (i.e., Friday night and the excessive amount of gin that was consumed, I'm not exactly proud of myself, let's put it that way).

I did begin writing a New Year's post about a week or two ago, it was really upbeat actually. Unnecessarily so. I was on fire - loving the library and revising my bum off, having a wonderful time with my highlighters making my notes resemble a rainbow; I was eating so healthily that Dr Christian would have been proud (that guy off Embarrassing Bodies who has a smokin' hot bod, but is sadly gay, I'm a bit gutted to say the least), and I was having a fab time with my housemates (I still am, I love them to bits). Then I was a bit of a knob when we all went out  after rowing camp (yes, that's right, rowing camp). 

Slightly weak at the knees. What a stunner.

It's okay though, silly things happen, and I know nothing was meant. I know what I'm like underneath anything I may have stupidly done or said. I'm actually feeling confident right now, which is a bit mental. I'm a good person (sometimes), and I have good intentions (they may not always work out as planned, but they are there initially) - and I genuinely do think the world will all be sunshine and rainbows one day. 

The next year is going to be fab. I have decided this. I have an amazing house of girls to live with (one is my beaut of a best friend) - although I technically would say I live with a boy as well, because I swear Lucy's boyfriend has taken up residence here, but it's okay, he's decent - I have such a interesting little circle of friends, I have the best family I could wish for (and Mumsie is totally in the best friend zone at the moment, I feel we are good pals right now), I am obsessed with the gym which can only be a good thing, and I am healthy (as far as I know, I don't have any life threatening diseases right now so that's a bonus).

Another couple of stunners.

I'm such an idiot when I write. This definitely comes into the 'I'm going to blab about good things' category. It's a good one.

I'm off to have some food now. With full fat mayo. Life is definitely heading uphill.

Big love, xo