Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Palermo 2017 Travel Diary

Two weeks ago now my friend Sarah and I flew to Palermo, Sicily for four nights and we had such a wonderful time. I've mentioned many times before that Italy is one of my absolute favourite places and it's always been a dream of mine to travel around the entire country, which I'm slowly doing by going to a new place every summer!

Since Sarah is so well-traveled already in Italy, when it came to booking this trip Palermo became a pretty obvious choice because it's one of the few places in Italy which Sarah hadn't been to. This turned out to be a great thing because Palermo has never been top of my immediate list of Italian cities but it was beautiful and we both loved our time there.

We had to wake up excruciatingly early for our 5:50am flight to Palermo but, despite this traumatic start to the holiday Palermo was so beautiful that it more than made up for it and it was nice to have essentially the whole day ahead of us once we landed in Sicily!


When we arrived at the airport we bought tickets for a bus into the city. The company running the buses is called Prestia e Comande and I'd highly recommend it as we bought return tickets for just ten euros, they were incredibly helpful in telling you what stop is closest to your accommodation and it runs a half-hourly service. There's a stand in the arrivals section of the airport you can't miss!

Once we'd checked into our hotel and recovered a little from the flight and the early morning (it took us a good while to get over the lack of sleep!) we sat down to decide what to do with our first afternoon/evening. Usually when I go on holiday I have a stack of travel blog posts on the place I'm staying in full of recommendations for what to do and where to eat as I usually find that people's personal suggestions are far more helpful than professional guides. However, despite having had a look for some before I left, I couldn't find very many useful ones on Palermo and so I had picked up the Lonely Planet guide for Sicily which has a great section on Palermo and which Sarah and I used religiously throughout our trip!

We stayed in the Mercure Palermo Centro Hotel which was great in that it was in an ideal location and had a very nice room but was quite average really in terms of everything else. I'd recommend it as somewhere to stay to see the city but I wasn't blown away by it.


Anyway, having had a flick through the Lonely Planet guide, we decided to head to Palermo's Cathedral, which was absolutely stunning both inside and out. What was great about Palermo was that everything was in walking distance, and since walking is definitely my preferred way to get to know a city, this was ideal! Stopping for a gelato on the way and going for a wander after looking around the cathedral, we then went back to the hotel, freshened up and decided to head for dinner.

For our first meal out we went to Bisso Bistrot, a recommendation from the Lonely Planet guide (which is a running theme of this trip!). Sicily, being an island, is known for serving excellent seafood and so I felt like I had to try the ravioli which came with the fresh catch of the day in Bisso Bistrot, on this evening being tuna and prawns. It was absolutely delicious and so cheap - a win-win for sure and I would highly recommend this restaurant if you're visiting Palermo.


The next morning we got up and out quite late - something that I loved about this holiday was how laid back we were and that we weren't rushing the whole time - and, on our way to the Mercato di Ballaro and Palazzo dei Normanni, we came across the Fontana Pretoria. The fountain was bought by Palermo in 1573 and it is absolutely beautiful.


Having had a look around the fountain we soon found our way to the Mercato di Ballaro and had a look around all the stalls before deciding to try and find somewhere for lunch. By chance on our way down a side street between the market and the Palazzo dei Normanni we found a little bakery/deli which seemed to have only locals in it buying lunch. I wish I'd found out the name of this place because we had the most amazing and reasonably priced lunch there and the gentleman who served us (unable to speak English and impressed by my very basic Italian) even gave us a free freshly baked olive roll which was very sweet.


We finally made it to the palace which originally dates back to the ninth century, contains Sicily's regional parliament, the royal apartments of King Roger II from the twelfth century, and the Capella Palatina or Palatine Chapel designed by Roger II in 1130. You have to pay to get inside but there is a reduced price for students which we were very pleased with and the interiors are just stunning. It's also a nice break inside if when you're visiting it's the peak of the Sicilian summer like it was when we were there!

Exhausted by the heat and all our walking, Sarah and I headed to the Gelateria Ciccio Adelfio which is very near Palermo's train station. It offers an incredible number of gelato flavours - I settled on one scoop of peach and one of fererro rocher in the end - and is very well priced; it was just what we needed to cool down!


For dinner on Saturday night we headed to Pizzo & Pizzo. It's first and foremost a wine bar but does amazing food as well. This restaurant was definitely our priciest and doesn't serve what I'd call a budget dinner, but the service and food were impeccable. The waiters were so accommodating, asking for our specific wine tastes before bringing us a glass that best suited them, bringing out aperitivos without you asking (although, be warned, you do have to pay for these!) and just being incredibly welcoming. The ravioli we had was absolutely incredible - I can't remember exactly what the flavours were but it was different to anything else I've ever had but worked amazingly.

So all in all if on your stay you're looking for a really nice dinner, this is definitely the place to go and I loved it!


One thing to be aware of if you're visiting Palermo over a weekend is that on Sundays most museums, galleries and churches close at around midday give or take a few hours. Sarah and I didn't realise this until we'd got ready that day which wasn't before midday! This might be a good day to head to Mondello to visit the beach which we ended up doing on Monday but we did manage to make it work anyway.

We went for lunch at Francu U Vastiddaru, which sells yummy sandwiches with really interesting fillings for only 2 or 3 euros. Palermo is famous for its street food and this did not disappoint. I got the triplo panino which has chickpea fritters, potato croquettes and aubergine - apparently a classic - and it was delicious.

Francu U Vastiddaru was also right next to the Garibaldi Gardens which were a perfect place to eat our lunch and admire Palermo's oldest tree, at 150 years old! We then made our way to the Galleria d'Arte Moderna which was open on Sundays and is in a fifteenth century palace containing some absolutely stunning Sicilian pieces of art.

I'm not always one to enjoy art galleries but Sarah and I both hugely enjoyed the couple of hours we spent wandering around here followed by a cold drink outside its cafe.


On our way back to the hotel we stopped to have a look at Palermo's harbour which was stunning and later went for dinner at Pizzeria Frida. Our pizzas were nice and it was lovely to sit outside but the service here wasn't amazing and I've definitely had better pizzas so I don't want to sing its praises too much.


On our last full day in Sicily we got the bus to Mondello, which takes about half an hour from Palermo, and went to the beach. It's been years since I've spent a full day at the beach properly, spending the entire day sunbathing, reading and renting a sun-lounger. It was pure bliss and the beach was absolutely stunning - I don't think I've ever seen sea water so clear.

If you have enough time when visiting Palermo I would definitely make a trip to the beach. We weren't sure we were going to because there were some more things in Palermo we could have gone to see instead but I'm *so* glad that we did because it was incredible and just what I needed.

On our final night we ate at Enoteca Buttice - a lovely wine bar that served simple but great food. We sat outside and talked about everything going on in our lives as well as reflecting on our trip and it was just perfect.

All in all I absolutely adored Palermo and would love to explore more of Sicily sometime in the future. It was so fun to go on holiday with Sarah and see everything with her as well! If you're thinking about going to Palermo at all if it's not already clear it has so much to offer and I would highly, highly recommend it. Apologies for this mammoth post but I wanted to get everything down from the trip - I hope you're having a wonderful week!

Some of the photos in this post were taken by lovely Sarah (thank you for letting me use them!), the rest all by yours truly!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Let's Catch Up // Where I've Been For The Past Month

Beautiful Romania

I haven't written a 'let's catch up' post since April, or anything at all on here for over a month, and so I thought this would definitely be a good time to fill you in on where I've been! As always when I stop writing regularly on here, I didn't intend to have such a long pause but my life has been very busy over the last few weeks and I haven't had the time to write about it. I'm here now and ready to write a bit so let's go!

Working at Wimbledon was, once again, amazing. More tiring than any job I've ever had in my life (I do not know how I will ever cope with sleep deprivation if I have kids) but the best. The atmosphere every single day is incredible and, while I was exhausted the last few days, Roger Federer hi-fiving me after he won the men's singles' final more than made up for it. So that was Wimbledon.

A few days after Wimbledon I went to Romania for a week with my Mum. It wasn't the easiest of trips. Only being half-Romanian and having been born in the UK, I still don't know Romania all that well and so I'm very dependent on my Mum when we visit. Which is ok and I'm glad that I go with her to learn and see more of the country she grew up in but what with me essentially spending the week away following her around and her going through some difficulties with a few of her childhood friends there, I felt quite caught up in it all and it was a little stressful. Absolutely fine now but not the most relaxing of holidays shall we say! Anyway, it was still great to go and I did enjoy seeing a new part of the country I hadn't been to before and catching up with a very close friend and my cousin.

At this point I'd essentially been busy non-stop since the 25th June (it being the 26th July at this point) but two days after getting back from Romania I flew to Palermo, Sicily with my friend Sarah. Sicily was incredible - I'm going to be writing a travel diary about our trip in a couple of days but it was such a great holiday. It's no secret that I adore Italy and Palermo only re-affirmed that once again for me. It was also great to go with Sarah because we tend to chat about anything and everything and she's wonderful. 

I got back from Sicily on the 1st August and I've just taken the past few days to fully relax for the first time in a month. Working at Wimbledon and having two holidays is obviously amazing and I feel incredibly lucky to have had these experiences over the past few weeks. But that's not to say doing so much without stopping in between is not incredibly tiring and these last few days of chilling out have been much needed. 

I've also been in a bit of a weird headspace for the past month or so and it's meant that I haven't been all that keen on sitting down and writing even if I had had the time. There's nothing major going on - I think I'm just in a very reflective period and I've got a few things I want to think through on my own for now, but I just wanted to check in and say, hey, I'm here, I've been super busy doing some really cool stuff and I'll be here writing when I can and when it feels right! I hope that's cool and if you're reading this, that you're well and having a wonderful weekend. Like I said, I really want to write up about my stay in Sicily so hopefully that will be coming at you in a few days! Until then...

Sunday, 25 June 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 25

Happy Sunday! I'm up bright and early because I'm now working at the Wimbledon Championships for the second year in a row which means that I'll be working almost every day until 16th July so I'm going to be a very busy bee indeed for a while.

I can't believe it's been a whole year since I last worked there and, I feel like I'm saying this about everything lately, but time is going way too fast and I'm on the brink of an existential crisis every time I think about it! Existential crises aside, it's lovely to be back and I love the routine of going into work almost every day and working with so many amazing people.

Source
Anyway, today's list is: "List the things that make you feel powerful." which at first I thought was a bit of a strange one because I'm not sure I ever really feel fully powerful or that that's something I want to feel. But, when I changed my association with the word powerful to things like independence, it was much easier to come up with a list and so these are the things that make me feel powerful...

  • Writing - Writing definitely makes me feel empowered. Sitting down and taking the time to get out my thoughts, especially if I'm writing about something I feel very strongly about, makes me feel very powerful afterwards. I don't know if that's a weird thing to say because I'm not sure writing would be the first thing that would spring to mind for most people but it did for me and so it's on the list!
  • Pushing myself when exercising - It's rare but when I'm in the exercising zone I feel amazing. They're really not lying when they say that exercise releases endorphins and it's something that makes me feel on top of the world when I feel like I've pushed myself.
  • Educating myself - I fully believe that knowledge is power. And being able to talk about a range of things having been privileged enough to receive (and to still be receiving) a wonderful education definitely makes me feel powerful. In my opinion education is the most important tool with which people can feel empowered.
  • Engaging politically - Along a similar line, in recent months if I've felt passionately about a political issue I've written to my MP about it. I always vote when given the opportunity and sign petitions on causes I believe in. I know how lucky I am to live in a country with a democracy where I have the right to vote and voice my opinion and, although I think the past couple of years have been incredibly depressing politically, being able to participate even in these small ways in politics makes me feel powerful. 
  • Earning money and choosing how to spend it - While I perhaps optimistically think that education is the most powerful tool through which people can feel empowered, I have no doubt that many would say this is in fact money. It's sad but our world really does revolve around money and those who have it typically have far more power than those who do not. And I have definitely felt powerful when I've earned my own money and chosen how to spend it. Obviously, being a student, I'm not exactly rolling in it but having had a part-time job all year has really empowered me in having a bit of money that I've worked for myself.
  • Starting conversations with strangers - Not that I do this very often, but it can be very daunting to start a conversation with someone you don't know well if at all but I get a genuine buzz from it when I do. I love people and so being able to strike up a conversation with someone new makes me feel great and, knowing that it's a bit of a daunting thing to do, does make me feel kinda powerful when I do it!
So there you have it, the things that make me feel powerful. Let me know what would be on your list - I'd be very curious to know how it varies from person to person!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Thoughts On Finishing My Second Year of University


I wasn't really feeling writing a list this week (I know, I don't know who I am either!) but I was in the mood to write and so instead I thought I'd give you a mini essay of my thoughts on finishing my second year of uni since I'm driving home this afternoon (at the time of writing) and I'm an incredibly nostalgic person.

A year ago I wasn't all that fussed about uni. Sure, I'd mostly enjoyed my first year and had met some of my closest friends now but I found a lot of it unsettling and difficult and a lot to get used to. I think underlying it all was a pressure that I had put on myself to be having the best time ever at all times. Because that's what everyone says uni's like, right? A three year long party where you have no worries and no responsibilities.

I hate to burst that bubble but it's just not true. Yes, uni is great and fun and you don't have many responsibilities in the grand scheme of things. But it's also really, really tough at times. You're living away from home (probably for the first time) with a bunch of strangers and it comes with a lot of expectations. I have no doubt that I put those expectations on myself but I think that if there wasn't such a stereotype of uni as being the best thing ever then I wouldn't have put them on myself so harshly.

Anyway, all of this is to say that at the end of last year I really thought that uni would pass me by and that I'd think of it as a pretty good experience but be very much looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life and hopefully having a great career. And then second year happened.

I have absolutely loved this year. Living in a house has, for me, been so much more fun than living in halls as I did in first year (although I think I'll now always remember halls fondly); I've enjoyed my course so much more and I've met and spent time with people who make me laugh and smile every single day. It definitely hasn't all been sunshine and rainbows but, overall, I've had the best time this year and it's made me emotional to think that in a year's time uni will be over for me.

This year I've been able to actually get to know Exeter when last year I didn't really make the most of the chance to get to know a completely new-to-me city. And I've really fallen in love with the place. It's very small compared to London (where I'm from) but I think that's its charm and it's full of cute and cool cafes, great shops and beautiful architecture.

I've put myself out there a lot more over the past few months for sure. In first year I was probably the lowest in self-esteem I've been in a long time. Which was unexpected because I wasn't shy or afraid to talk to the new people I was meeting but perhaps it was a by-product of feeling like I had to be confident all the time. Whatever the cause, this year I've regained my confidence and haven't been so afraid of trying new things and talking to new people. And I've learnt a lot from that. I'm still far from the most outgoing person you'll ever meet but I've felt a lot more 'me' this year and it's felt really nice.

I've got into a good routine with uni work, friends and everything else in second year. Last year I was unsurprisingly a bit lost and lacking a proper routine because I spent a long time getting used to everything that's involved with moving to a new place, studying in a completely new way and spending time with new people. And, as someone who thrives on routine for the most part, that wasn't the best thing for me at all. This last year I feel like I've got it down a lot more. I know that I like to do uni work like a job i.e. working on campus rather than at home and having set working hours so that when I get home I can just relax and try to not think about my impending deadlines. I know that I do like to go out (which by the end of first year I felt like I'd never be keen to do) but that it's not more than two times a week generally so that when I do I genuinely enjoy it. I know that I need to look after my body and eat what I want (within reason) because generally my body will tell me what it needs and that's the most important thing and far more important than being skinny. (Maybe more on that another time but my body image in first year was appalling and as someone who's never struggled with that it was a huge shock to me.)

Basically, this year I had the best time and I think the main reason for that is that I finally let go of the idea that uni is supposed to be one big party at all times and realised that, like anything in life, there'll be ups and downs and that's really ok. No one is having as much fun as they seem to be and the idea that they are is unhealthy and ultimately irrelevant to your own happiness. The ironic thing, of course, is that only once I'd let go of that did I start to fully enjoy and appreciate uni but that's always the way isn't it!

So I can't believe I'm already writing this but, second year, you've been a dream and I'm so grateful for all the experiences I've had and people I've spent time with. I've been so lucky to have met and spent time with the people I have this year and they're the ones who have really made it for me. Third year, here we come!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 23

What a week it's been! I had a flying visit to Paris to spend my sister's birthday with her and my Dad mid-week (which was lovely) and since getting back have been watching all of the election chaos unfold. At the time of writing this it looks like Theresa May will be forming a minority government with the informal support of the DUP which I am not best pleased about but nevertheless I am incredibly delighted at the estimated 72% turnout among 18-24 year olds in this election. Young people are so often overlooked by politicians despite the fact that the majority of decisions made by the government affect our future the most and finally we've shown them what we can do when we put our minds to it!

Anyway, that's enough rambling about that! Today's list was a lovely topic to think about and is: "List the things that make you laugh." 



They say that laughter is the best medicine and I have to say I fully agree with that. There's nothing better than laughing so much that you have tears streaming down your face and your stomach physically aches in my opinion and I'm very lucky to be surrounded by a lot that makes me laugh. Call it an awful sense of humour or whatever you like, I'm not ashamed in the slightest because laughing is one of the greatest joys in life so here's what makes me giggle the most...


  • My friends - Being able to make me laugh (not that it's a very difficult task) is something that's absolutely essential to me in a friendship or relationship and all of my friends make me laugh whenever I'm with them. My personal favourite thing is when myself and another friend both crack up for seemingly no reason and proceed to laugh for a good two minutes uncontrollably to the point where we're just laughing at the fact that we're laughing so much. Please tell me I'm not alone in finding those moments absolutely hilarious!
  • TV shows - Sitting down and watching a funny TV show is one of the best ways to get me (and I'm sure many of you too!) laughing. There's so much out there that I could mention but my personal favourites guaranteed to have me howling are New Girl, Blackadder, Mock the Week and Fawlty Towers. Some older and some very current, they all get me cracking up!
  • Films - The scene in Just Go With It where Nick Swardson's character has to give the heimlich to a sheep kills me every single time I watch it. I'm sure that makes no sense if you haven't seen the film but if you haven't it's worth it just for that scene! The other two films that sprang to mind which always make me giggle are The Hangover and We're the Millers.
  • Comedians - Of course, it would be impossible to make a list of things that make me laugh without including some people whose job is literally to make people laugh. My absolute favourite comedians have to be Sara Pascoe, Richard Ayoade, Josh Widdicombe, Romesh Ranganathan, David Mitchell and Jack Whitehall. I saw Jack Whitehall live in February and I genuinely spent most of the show crying with laughter it was so good. I know he's not everyone's cup of tea but I find him absolutely hilarious. 
  • Political memes - Especially in this general election campaign as well as Donald Trump memes, these just kill me they're so funny. 
  • Awful jokes - As I've said above, I don't exactly have the most sophisticated sense of humour shall we say and, while not every awful joke gets me, some very simple and probably unfunny to most people jokes really have me laughing on many occasions. 
  • Myself - Along the same lines, I find myself absolutely hilarious. Guaranteed I'll be caught multiple times a week just giggling to myself and probably nine times out of ten it will be because I've made myself laugh. Guilty as charged.
  • Buni - My Grandma (I call her Buni because in Romanian Grandma is Bunica and apparently that was too long for me when I was little!) is one of the funniest people I know. You might not expect it looking at her but she majorly cracks me up on a regular basis. I think that's partly why she's so funny; when you look at her you'd never expect her to come out with some of the things that she does but from her Boris Johnson impression to her Victoria Beckham impression, she never fails to make me laugh and I love her for it so much. 

I could go on but I'll leave it there! Writing this post has left me with a big grin on my face so please do let me know what makes you laugh and whether you too have watched Just Go With It multiple times just for that scene... 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 22

Good morning everyone! This post was supposed to go up on Sunday but I was just sitting down to write it when I heard the awful news of the attack on London on Saturday evening and it just felt so trivial in that moment to write a list about the favourite places I've been to, although we must always carry on after these atrocities lest terrorists win.

So I'm here today feeling absolutely heartbroken about the whole thing but writing this anyway because I love blogging and I feel incredibly lucky to have had some amazing experiences and to have travelled to some amazing places during my short lifetime so I wanted to share this today.


This week's list is, you guessed it, "List your favourite places you have been." and there are so many, but I've managed to narrow it down to just a few so here they are...


  • Barcelona - My trip to Barcelona with my nine best friends was one of the best weeks of my life and it really is a city that has everything; great shopping, a wonderful beach, amazing nightlife and beautiful architecture. It was the perfect week away and I'm desperate to go back.
  • Genoa - Genoa is the first place I ever went in Italy and I absolutely adored it! It might not be the most obvious Italian destination but it's a great city and so close to the stunning Cinque Terre and I had such a wonderful time there.
  • Liverpool - My sister has lived in Liverpool for a good few years now and going to visit her is such a treat not only to spend time with her but also to explore Liverpool. I never would have thought it but it's such a cool city and fun place to be with so much to do. If you're looking for a UK weekend away definitely consider it.
  • Sighisoara - This Romanian city is one of my favourite places. We stopped there a couple of years ago when my Mum and I were travelling around a bit and it's such a cute little city, especially in the Summer!
  • London - Oh London. There aren't words for how much I adore my home city. It's true what they say - London is one of the most special cities and I don't think I'd rather live anywhere else in the world.
  • Exeter - I have to include my uni city on this list because I am having the time of my life living here. I feel like I'm discovering new cafes and cute little places all the time even though Exeter isn't the largest city and it's just the loveliest place to live.
  • Lapland - You might remember me writing about my trip to Lapland back in January but, if not, let me fill you in. It's the most magical place I've ever been and I want to go back every winter from now on. You must add it to your list if you haven't thought of it!

So those are my favourite places I've been so far. Please let me know if there's anywhere you'd really recommend adding to my travel bucket list. It's already far too long but a bit of wanderlust never hurt anyone, right?

I hope you all have wonderful weeks and please let's remember to always love rather than hate. In times like this we need the kindness of strangers more than ever.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Poltimore Festival 2017


On Sunday myself and my housemates went to Exeter's Poltimore Festival and I had the best day. The website describes it as "a music festival, a secret cinema, and a cutting edge theatre venue", and it really is a festival that has a bit of everything you could possibly want. With yoga and meditation sessions in the forest, slacklining, theatre and spoken word performances, a bouncy castle and far more, there's so much to see and explore aside from the music. 

Poltimore takes place at, you guessed it, Poltimore House and Grounds. Before going last weekend, I had no idea it even existed but both the house and land surrounding it are incredible and it makes the perfect place for a small festival venue! Now that I've done my homework I know that Poltimore was originally built as an aristocratic house but has been a girls' school, a wartime home and hospital and was sold by the NHS in 1975. Sadly it was essentially being left to ruin until the Poltimore House Trust bought it in the 2000s and have been restoring it ever since. 

It's really the most amazing piece of architecture and so, after having a quick look around the grounds once we'd arrived, we headed straight to the house to see what was on offer.


The house was a great place to start the day since it was filled with theatrical performances, a cinema and both art and photography exhibitions. My personal highlight in the house was a display showcasing all of the various things people have used as bookmarks found left in books. It included old cinema tickets, doodles on paper and a number of postcards. Being the history buff that I am, I was in heaven reading a number of old messages dating as far back (if my memory serves me rightly) as the 1930s and imagining what might have happened to both the writer and the person they were sending their postcard to! 

Inside the house there was also a stage where a number of music acts performed. The first photo above is the backdrop of the stage and it made such an ethereal location to hear music performed. We spent the day mostly meandering between the stage here and the main stage in the grounds and the contrast between the two was great. 

I really enjoyed listening to both of the acts we watched in the house, Delmer Darion and Psychopomp. Delmer Darion are an alternative electronic band who just use computers to make their music and although that sounds crazy (or it did to me) and I was at first worried that it would just sound like Ross' 'sound' (please tell me you get that Friends reference!), it was really cool to listen to and unlike anything I've ever heard! 


When we weren't at the House or laying on the grass watching the acts on the main stage, we were looking at the lovely stalls around the periphery of the grounds and wandering around the surrounding forest. Ellie bought a super cute t-shirt from a local and independent clothes company and I was very happy with my purchase of what has to be one of the best burgers I've ever had. 

It might sound a bit hippyish and cringey but it makes me so happy to be able to buy things from local shops and to support independent businesses even though it's unlikely that my one purchase of a burger will have made the biggest difference to that business! But the whole charm of Poltimore is that you can really see how much the organisers work to make it the loveliest day out. They must have reached out to so many different local businesses and artists to put together the whole day and it definitely paid off because the whole feel of the day was amazing. 


Before we knew it it was starting to get dark and the final band, Matthew and the Atlas, were performing on the main stage. We actually saw them live supporting Bear's Den in November and I really enjoyed it so it was fun to be able to see them again at Poltimore Festival. 

One of the nicest thing about how chilled Poltimore is as a festival is that you can just sit on the grass and enjoy the music or get up and dance to it at the front, whatever you're feeling. I have to say though, laying on the grass and looking up at the sky for a while was definitely the first time I'd felt really at peace in what must have been quite a while.

If it isn't already blindingly obvious, I absolutely adored Poltimore Festival and am definitely going back next year! I have to say thank you to Ellie for recommending that we go after she'd already gone last year because otherwise it probably would have passed me by. At only £12 a ticket (this year anyway), if you're in the south west next year you'd really be silly not to go - it's the most wonderful day out and everyone involved in the organising of it clearly put their all into it, which is very much appreciated by people like me!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Currently #13

I'M FREE!! I finished my exams on Friday and it feels so amazing. Last year my exams came and went so quickly that I barely noticed them happening but oh boy has this year been different. The revision period has felt like it's gone on forever and so the relief is very much real. I have absolutely loved second year and can't believe how quickly it's gone but it has been incredibly stressful at times so having a couple of weeks now to just enjoy beautiful Exeter rather than associating it with essays and exams is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Anyway, I haven't written a currently post this year which is mad to me and so this is definitely long overdue and I just thought it would be the best way to record this moment where I've finished my second year of university, so here we go...


Reading :: I realised the other day that for the last few months I've read exclusively non-fiction. It wasn't intentional at all but I have been loving it and, while I have no doubt that I'll be picking up some fiction to read this summer, I've thoroughly enjoyed the books I've recently been reading. Last week I finished Ice Cream for Breakfast by Laura Jane Williams and let me tell you, that woman is an exquisite writer. Everyone should read this book because the life lessons are flawless and necessary and wonderful so go and get it now please. Since then I've been making my way through the latest issue of Oh Comely magazine. I've written about my love for it before but, aside from being potentially the most aesthetically pleasing publication ever, it never fails to contain the most stunning writing which makes it a joy to receive every couple of months.

Eating :: To celebrate finishing our exams myself and three of my course friends went for brunch at Cosy Club in Exeter. I hadn't been before but it is the most beautiful restaurant. It used to be a hospital wing and the decor is so pretty and reminded me of a slightly quirkier version of Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour if you read my write-up of that a few weeks ago, so I was pretty much in heaven just because of that. To make it even better, the food was absolutely delicious. I had the Rather Elegant Brunch - "Bacon and avocado with herbed spring onion & chive rosti, baby kale and fire-roasted tomatoes, topped with a poached egg and pumpkin seeds". Sounds perfect, right? It was! If you're ever in the area and looking for somewhere to brunch, look no further.

Thinking about :: The awful, awful terrorist attack in Manchester last week - I can't get it out of my head. Which I think is absolutely as it should be because it is so utterly abominable. There are truly no words that can adequately describe how horrific it is. So I'll just say that those poor families and friends who have lost people they loved at a place which should have been safe and inspiring and uplifting are in my thoughts and prayers and, as has already been said so wonderfully, we must always look for the helpers in times like these.

Watching :: Ok so this is very very unlike me but I've hardly been watching any tv recently. I KNOW. I don't really know how this happened but I just feel like I haven't had time. Or, when I have, I've prioritised other things. And I'm sure as soon as I start watching the new series of House of Cards I'll be straight back into my Netflix addiction but right now the only thing that I'm really watching, very sporadically, is Once Upon A Time (no spoilers please I still have quite a few episodes to go of the latest season!).

Listening to :: It's not like I wasn't before, but the past few months I have been super into music and mixing up what I'm listening to. I've been making monthly playlists on Spotify and really enjoying not listening to the same thing over and over which is what I usually do and instead making myself listen to different artists each month. In May my highlights have been John Mayer's new album, which I can't get enough of, and Bon Iver, among many other great artists. If you're at all interested in what I've been listening to or just looking for a nice, chilled playlist, then you can go and have a look at my May playlist here.

Loving :: Making plans/spending quality time with friends. Not that this is anything new but the past few days I've had the nicest time with my closest friends. I've had lunch dates, been for walks and went to a festival on Sunday (more on that in a couple of days) which, after weeks of revising, has been the best. I'm really appreciating how lucky I am with the people I have in my life right now because they really do make all the difference.

So there you have it. I'd say you're all caught up on everything that's currently swimming around my thoughts! I hope you're having a wonderful week and I'm hoping to be back in a couple of days with a write up of my day at Poltimore Festival on Sunday.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 20

Happy Sunday everyone! It's officially less than a week now until my exams are over and I literally cannot wait. After saying last week that I'd keep the post short and sweet and then completely and utterly failing, this week I'm actually going to stick to that so on with the list...

Source

"List the things that make your spirit feel free." This felt a little counter-intuitive to write when my spirit most definitely does not feel free so the list is a little sparse but here are the things that came to mind ::

  • Yoga
  • Long walks
  • Being by the sea
  • Laughing
  • Saying yes to things
  • Skipping  

I really wasn't lying when I told you today would be a short one! What things make your spirit feel free? I think I could do with some inspiration for that right now...

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 19

I was supposed to write this yesterday so that it would be up nice and early, as usual, but alas last night I ended up watching Princess Diaries 2 (which btw has to be one of my favourite films ever) and today I've been revising all day for my first exam on Tuesday. So instead I'm bringing you this week's list late in the afternoon but hopefully it will get you all fired up and inspired for the coming week when you hear about the inspiring people I'm about to talk about!

Source
This week's prompt is: "List the people you most want to be like." and I mentioned quite a few of them in last week's post so I'll try and keep it short and sweet here because I genuinely think I could go on about how much I admire them all damn day when, really, you should just go and check them out yourselves if you haven't already. On with the list...

  • My Mum - Ok so you might think that this is super cringe but my Mum has to be my biggest inspiration. I have never met someone who works harder and she has always sacrificed everything to make sure that I have the best opportunities, taught me what's important in life and that I should never apologise for who I am to anyone. I hope that one day I'll be half the incredible woman she is.
  • Michelle Obama - From my Mum to Michelle Obama, now there's two people I never thought I'd see on the same list but it just goes to show you don't have to be as famous as Michelle Obama to make a difference or inspire someone. I feel like I don't even need to begin to explain why Michelle Obama is on this list, she's an incredible human who has done so much for girls' rights everywhere and is such an inspiration. 
  • Emma Gannon - I've read Emma's blog for a couple of years now and have been more and more in awe of her and the work that she does. From her blog to her wonderful podcast to her book to a huge number of other projects she always seems to be working away at, Emma is someone who's taught me that when I graduate I can do anything that I want to if I'm willing to put in the work and that I should never apologise for being a woman who wants a great career and isn't afraid to go after it. Also I met her last month at her podcast recording with the lovely Gemma Cairney and the best thing of all is that she's as amazing in real life - so friendly and easy to talk to, if you're not following her work I don't know what you're doing. 
  • Emma Watson - I love everything that Emma Watson does. Her HeForShe speech at the UN is something I'll never forget because the first time I watched it is probably the first time I understood what feminism is, how important it is and that my voice can make a difference. She's such a great advocate and also she was the *perfect* Belle in Beauty & the Beast so enough said about why I want to be like her.
  • John and Hank Green - John and Hank Green do the most important work. On their Vlogbrothers channel they make some of the most hilarious videos and some of the most educational ones I've ever watched. Hank (I believe) set up CrashCourse, a YouTube channel which makes educational videos that people can watch for free on subjects from English to History to Science (I'm loving their mythology series at the moment!). Every year they run Project For Awesome which raises money for a number of wonderful charities. I could go on and on but I'll stop there. They're a breath of fresh air in what can be an incredibly depressing world. 
  • Jess Phillips - If you don't know, Jess Phillips is currently the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley. She used to work for Women's Aid and since becoming an MP has written what looks like an incredibly book (I'm yet to read it but want to asap!), Everywoman, and I just adore everything she stands for. She's a woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind and is doing amazing work. I wouldn't necessarily identify as Labour (or any political party for that matter) but I appreciate and admire the work she's doing so much.
  • Caitlin Moran - How could I write this list and not include Caitlin Moran?! Her work speaks for itself and if you haven't read How to Be A Woman stop whatever you're doing and pick it up now - it's a must.
  • Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton - These two women are incredibly inspiring in their own rights but I wanted to put them together because their podcast, The High Low (formerly the PanDolly Podcast), is my absolute favourite thing. Their discussions range from the intellectual to the, shall we say, slightly less intellectual, but they are all wonderful and incredibly well thought out. They're unafraid to tackle topics that desperately need talking about such as the impact of fame, ethics within the fashion industry and why it's important to shout about things like women, such as Sykes, going against the grain and not taking their husband's surnames (while also acknowledging that you don't have to do so to be a feminist). Aside from The High Low, anything they both write is stunning and I can't recommend it enough.
  • Meg Fee - I've written countless times about how amazing Meg's writing is. She's got a book coming out next year that I cannot wait to get my hands on and, more than being one of the best writers whose work I've ever been blessed enough to come across, she uses her voice for such good and I hope that one day I can write as eloquently as she does about body image, policy and politics, to name a few things she discusses. 

Ok so I have more but I'm going to leave it there because haha do you remember when I wrote that this post was going to be short and sweet? It turns out that once I get going about the people who inspire me and whom I hope to be like one day I can't stop because I get so motivated. I don't know about you but writing this has got me so energised and I think it's so important to not let those who are currently committing such atrocities around the world overshadow those in the public sphere who are using their voices for such good. 

Instead of tearing each other down as so many are in the world at the moment I'd much rather make lists like this and shout about these people so I hope that they inspire you too and remember, as Queen Michelle said herself, "when they go low low, we go high!". 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 18

I've spent the majority of this week revising and with just under three weeks to go until I'm finally done for the year this week's prompt couldn't have been more appropriate: "List the things that motivate you." 

What I can only wish my studying set up looked like... (source)

One of the things I hate most about exams and the revision period is that it feels like it will never be over and all you can see in front of you is days on end spent nowhere but the library. But, of course, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I've got an amazing summer planned so remembering that and these things is what keeps me going when I'm fed up of writing out essay plans about the philosophy of language for what feels like the one hundredth hour...


  • Thinking about how great it will feel when something is done - It's all about picturing that feeling of sheer relief and freedom when it's all over or you've achieved something you've been working on for a long time. 
  • Myself - In general I'm a really motivated person and fairly good at putting my head down and getting whatever needs to be done done on time so, unless I'm in a really bad headspace, I'm lucky that most of the time if needs be I can give myself a little pep talk that will set me straight if I'm struggling to find motivation.
  • The idea of making progress -  I'm someone who's definitely results-oriented and the biggest demotivator I can think of is when I feel like no matter what I do, I'm not going to make any improvement or progress. So, if when I don't want to do something I know that getting it done will help me to make progress somehow, that can make all the difference for me.
  • My Mum - My Mum is one of my biggest motivators. She's always pushed me, believed in me when I haven't known what I could achieve and is the best at bringing me up when I'm feeling down and lacking any incentive. 
  • The people around me - I'm very lucky to know people who have incredibly hard work ethics who inspire me to do my best too. Knowing that they're working hard helps me to do the same.
  • People I aspire to be like - In a similar vein, there are so many incredible people doing amazing things right now and following their careers encourages me to smash the next stepping stone so that one day I can hopefully be just an inch as successful as them. If you're looking for some kickass people to follow here are a few of my favourites: Emma Gannon, Jess Phillips, Nimco Ali, Caitlin Moran, Hank Green, Leena Norms, Hannah Witton, Bryony Gordon. These are just to name a few of the people who inspire me daily, I could literally go on and on and on...
  • Being in the defining decade - This is a bit of a silly one in a sense but the idea that right now, now that I'm officially in my twenties, is when I'll probably have the most opportunities open to me really motivates me to do my best and to try to take as many of those opportunities as I can. Of course I think that, to an extent (and I'm aware that I say this from a place of huge privilege), opportunities and life are what you make of them and that has no age limit on it. But I will never be this young, with as few responsibilities, as I am right now and that knowledge motivates me to do things like pack my summer full of travel and fun experiences, write that job/internship application I think I'll never get and spend time doing research on things that will help with the final year of my degree so remembering that when I'm lacking motivation can help to give me a real boost. 
  • The belief that hard work pays off - I've had it drilled into me from a very young age that if you put in the work for something, and really give it your all, that will always pay off. That may not necessarily be in the way that you think; you could put your all into something and have it fail, but, in nearly all those cases, the knowledge that I've put in my all and couldn't have done anything else reassures me and I've generally learnt the most important lessons from those occasions. So if I'm flagging on something I remember that hard work is almost always worth it in the end and try and get on with it!

Ok so I wrote a lot more than I expected. It turns out that spending time writing something to motivate you to revise is a great way to procrastinate revision... And on that note I'm going to take my own advice here and try and get back to it. I hope you're all having a lovely weekend!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 17

Happy Sunday! I hope you're having a wonderful bank holiday weekend. I'm spending mine revising which isn't all that much fun but in less than a month now I'll be free for summer so I can't really complain!

I can't get over the fact that today is the last day of April. This holiday has gone so quickly and, although I'm really ready to go back to Exeter on Tuesday, this month has felt so short, I don't know if it's just me or what.

Anyway, this week's list is a bit of a somber one: "List the difficult moments in your past that have shaped you for the better." But the fact is, although all these things were difficult, they have made me the person I am today and for that I'm incredibly grateful, so here they are...

  • My parents divorcing when I was six - No child wants their parents to have to divorce and having it happen is for the most part a horrible experience. But both my Mum and Dad are so much better off for it and, in the long run, I was much happier for it too.
  • My first break up - My first boyfriend (if you can really call it that, I was fourteen!) were together for only around three months but when he broke up with me I was absolutely devastated in that classic, teenage way. I thought the world was ending. It's so funny looking back on it now! But I learnt a lot about myself from that, and about boys, and both of those lessons have been very helpful.
  • Moving house and changing schools when I was sixteen - My Mum and I moved from Surrey to south-west London just before I started my A Levels and I was distraught. I adored my old school and all of my friends there and we'd lived in Surrey since I was three, so essentially my whole life. That, and starting a new school where everyone had already known each other for five years, was incredibly daunting to me and I was so upset for months. But, as things tend to, it all worked out for the best and I met the most wonderful people at my new school and wouldn't live anywhere but London now!
  • A Levels - As much as I loved the two years in which I took my A Levels they were also so damn stressful. So much pressure was put on me and my friends and, while it definitely paid off and I learnt so much from them and the stress of exams, at the time they were incredibly hard.
  • My first proper relationship ending - This break up was different to the first one in 100 ways. I mean, firstly, we were together for two and a half years and, to make it worse, it ended horribly and in the middle of my A Level exams. It wasn't easy to deal with but I knew I'd be ok this time, that life would move on and that I had so much ahead of me. The way it ended taught me a lot about what I want out of life and relationships.
  • First term at university - Adding this to the list might sound strange because Freshers is generally thought of as one big party where you have no responsibilities. And it is fun. But it's also really hard. You're typically living away from home at the first time with total strangers in a place you don't know very well and drinking quite a lot. That's a big deal. And, while I enjoyed it, it was also a difficult period in my life. I was coming to terms with a lot about myself and doing it in an environment that wasn't the most secure. It did, however, also involve meeting loads of amazing new people, learning a lot more about who I am and how to ask for help so I'll always remember it fondly I'm sure.
  • Going for a few sessions of therapy - I don't know whether I've ever written about the fact that I've had a few sessions of therapy before. I'd been in the past to help deal with my parents divorce but the time I'm talking about was just after my first term of university (hence the reference for learning how to ask for help earlier). I felt pretty lost around Christmas 2015 and wanted to work some things out with someone completely external. My Mum, being a therapist herself, was so unbelievably supportive and kindly paid for me to have a few sessions of therapy and, although it was scary, I am so grateful for those few hours. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. In fact, I think the world would be a much better and happier place if we all did ask for it a bit more, and those sessions taught me so much. 

So there you have it. Overall I know, of course, how lucky and privileged I am and that I haven't gone through anything that's incredibly traumatic or of any comparison to what awful things many people go through every day. 

But, nonetheless, all of these things were very difficult at the time of going through them. And I suppose all these things go to show that, in my experience, we always learn the most when faced with periods of our life that challenge us to the core. 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Cream Cakes & Cocktails at Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour

For my birthday this year Ellie got me a voucher for cream cakes and cocktails at Mr Fogg's Gin Parlour in Covent Garden and I don't think you could have got me a more perfect present! Gin, a selection of cakes and a beautiful bar that felt like walking into the 1920s... it's literally everything that I love in one place and on Monday afternoon we finally got to go!


First things first, I have to say how accommodating the staff were because, just as Ellie and I had both got on our separate trains into central London, there was an incident which meant that all trains to London Waterloo were delayed and so we ended up being half an hour late - but when I rang to let them know they were so helpful and pushed our booking back thirty minutes which was great! 

When we arrived we had our coats taken before being shown into the Gin Parlour and sat at our table. The Gin Parlour is *beautiful* and it was clear that no attention to detail had been spared to make the room and bar look absolutely incredible. 

Once we'd taken a few seconds to admire how stunning the room was we were swiftly given the cocktail menu, which was a choice of three gin-based cocktails, and they were soon brought to us to enjoy along with our selection of cakes...


Ellie and I were honestly in heaven and, while the cake selection might not look like much from the photo above, they were all delicious and we both noticed how full we were afterwards! My cocktail was called the Critics' Choice and I think it was one of the best cocktails I've ever had and Ellie said that hers was great too!

We had such a lovely time chatting and taking in the atmosphere of the bar. It's quite small as it's the upstairs of Mr Fogg's Tavern but I really liked that - it meant that there weren't many other people there and you could properly appreciate the the space. The service, as I've already said, was impeccable and I just can't say enough good things about it so I wanted to shout about the experience in case anyone is wanting to treat themselves and their friends to something similar in London anytime soon!

Thank you so much Ellie if you're reading this for getting me such a thoughtful birthday present, I loved every minute of it!!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 16

What a week it's been. I saw Ed Sheeran on his Divide tour on Wednesday with my best friend Lish and it was one of those nights that I don't think I'll ever forget. Ed Sheeran is someone I've admired and loved for years and so to finally see him perform live was just magical - what a talent he is.

Not only that made this week great though - yesterday I booked a holiday with two of the nicest girls to go to LA and Florida in late August and I'm SO EXCITED. I've never been to the US and, while New York will always be top of my list in that regard, both LA and Florida look incredible and I think it's going to be an amazing trip!

So, I know that's nothing to do with today's post but I just had to mention both of those things because wow, I can't stop thinking about them. I hope you're all doing well and now I'll actually get on with today's post...

This week's prompt is: "List your essentials" and I wasn't sure what exactly counted as an essential so I've just gone with the first things that popped into my head when I saw the prompt, so let's go!

  • Chanel Chance Eau Tendre perfume - AKA the pink one. I've worn this perfume for four years or so and I adore it. It's floral and Spring-y and perfect.
  • GHDs - My best friends kindly got me a pair of GHDs for my eighteenth birthday and I don't know how I lived my life before them!
  • Time for breakfast - A bit of a weird one, but having my alone time for breakfast is so important to me. For as long as I can remember (except at uni last year when I was living in catered halls) I've grabbed my breakfast and a cup of green tea, gone back to my room and read blog posts while eating it and drinking the tea. It's a strange ritual, I know, but that time really sets me up for the day and I love it.
  • Time to myself to recharge - In a similar vein, as much as I love spending time with people, after a while of doing that or having a few days in a row of having things on in the evenings I *need* an evening to myself to binge something on Netflix and to just reset.
  • A cup of English Breakfast tea and a good book - These two things can fix almost anything.
  • Black, high-waisted jeans - The amount I wear mine is probably bordering on disgusting but I don't care. They're the best.
  • Podcasts - I don't know how I ever walked places without podcasts. I'm utterly obsessed with listening to them. 
  • Spotify - Making monthly playlists is something I'm really into right now but music has always been a huge part of my life and so Spotify is a definite must-have for me. 
  • Good food - Did I even really need to add this to the list?! I'm sure you already knew how important food is and how happy it makes me so it's safe to say that it's an essential. 

And there you have it! What would you say are essentials in your life?

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 15

Happy Easter one and all, whatever you're doing today! I'm going to have a relaxed day at home with my family and I can't wait!

Source
Today's prompt is: "List your dream trips." Since I did a post last year about the trips that are at the very top of my list (which you can read here if you fancy having a nosey), I thought today I'd just give a simple list of all the places that are on my bucket list to see before I die!


  • All around Italy
  • Slovenia
  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Amsterdam
  • Japan
  • Canada
  • USA
  • South Africa
  • New Zealand
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

I'm sure there are many more I could add to that list... this girl has a case of wanderlust pretty badly! I guess I'd better start saving and get on it if I want to tick these places off any time in the future! What are the places you'd love to travel to?

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The 52 Lists Project // Week 14

Happy Sunday! I don't know about you but I for one am *loving* this beautiful weather we've had in London over the past few days. It truly feels like spring has sprung and it's been making me so happy.

This week's prompt is very fitting and is: "List the ways you can cleanse your life for spring." 


I love the idea of making a change for a new season and while I don't have a huge list of things on this list, these are the ones that came immediately to my mind when I saw this week's prompt ::


  • Get a new haircut - I had my hair cut on Thursday, which you can see on my Instagram, to just below my shoulders and I love it. It's the shortest I've had it in about eight years and it might be crazy to say so, but this little change has made me so happy and as though I'm really ready for a new season/for good things to happen - I'd really recommend changing things up if you're thinking about it too!
  • Declutter - It's called a 'spring clean' for a reason and there's really no better time to get rid of the things you've been hoarding to make you feel fresh.
  • Buy some new clothes - I've been fed up of my wardrobe for a while and so I'm trying to buy more key pieces that it's lacking, starting with a beautiful jumpsuit I bought the other day. Things like jumpsuits are perfect because they can often be either dressed up or down to work for lots of occasions and adding it to my wardrobe made me feel great.
  • Make some plans for summer - I always feel as though I'm hurtling towards something (in a good way) when I start to make plans for summer and spring is a great time to do it. It feels like finally saying goodbye to winter and I'm waving goodbye very happily right now looking forward to my summer plans!
  • Fill your house with flowers - Again, another great way to say goodbye to winter is to appreciate the blossom on the trees and bring a bunch of daffodils or other pretty flowers home. Flowers brighten up a space immediately and are well worth investing in in my opinion!

Let me know if there's anything you do to change things up for spring/the beginning of a new season - I'd love to have some input!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Let's Catch Up // My 2017 So Far & A Life Update


So, as promised, today I'm going to finally write up what life's been like for me the past few months. I know that content-wise this little space of mine has been pretty boring over the past few months - all I've managed to post are 52 List blogs (which I really hope you're enjoying!) as well as a travel diary in early January because of how much uni work I've had this term. And I'm so sorry for that. I know it's probably annoyed me more than anyone else but I'm really hoping to post a much bigger variety of posts over the next few months so thank you for bearing with me!

I can't believe I'm writing this, but on Friday I had my last lecture of my second year of university. I still have exams in May but, apart from that, my second year of university education is over. That is beyond crazy to me and I honestly couldn't tell you where these past three months have gone. What I can tell you is that this term has been the best period of uni for me so far and, although it's been really tough at times, I've absolutely loved it.

For the first time since I came to Exeter, this semester I feel as though I experienced uni as I always imagined it would be. Firstly, my modules have been great. I took two philosophy modules, both of which I found incredibly interesting, if not very challenging, and one history module. The history one was essentially a mini-dissertation - 7,000 words on a source-based project of entirely my own choice. I wrote mine on the role of African-American women in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It's safe to say that it was hugely daunting but also so interesting and I actually felt like a mini historian which was pretty rewarding (although I haven't got my mark back yet so I'd better not get ahead of myself in raving about this piece of work!).

Friendship-wise I've never been happier. As I've written about before, I love my housemates and feel so lucky that we all get on so well - they're always there for me to make me laugh or let me moan at them about deadlines, being stressed or just over the fact that I'm hungry (because I'm the hangriest person I know) so they're just great. But this term I've become really close with a few other people and it's been so nice to get to know new people as much as I love the ones I already had in my life. Sarah, who I met in a history seminar last term, is just the loveliest person and becoming close friends with her has been such a highlight of the year for me. We've spent this term having a ridiculous amount of chai lattes, uni work dates where we spend the whole day working/crying about our degrees, and talks about anything and everything, and if those three things aren't the foundation of a wonderful friendship then I'll be damned!

I even dated a tiny bit this term. It feels odd to write that down because it happened so recently and it's been such a long time since I've written about anything resembling my love life on here but it was a big deal for me so I wanted to mention it. I only had two dates with a guy and it's safe to say it didn't come to an end quite as I'd have hoped but it was such an empowering experience and gave me the confidence boost I think I've needed for a while. Having been single for nearly two years it was really nice to be reminded of that side to me - the girl who knows who she is and what she wants even if she still has a lot to figure out, who's playful and funny in a way that's reserved for boys who she's interested in. It had been a long time since that side of me had come out and I think it was really good for me to see it. People are inherently messy and so, correspondingly, is dating, I've found, but I think that it's terribly exciting too and so this was definitely a stand-out point of the last term for me.

I came home on Saturday in a bit of a strange headspace. I think that all the uni work as well as everything else had started to take a toll on me and I was (and still am) so in need of a break from it. When things feel a bit too much I always just want to crawl into my own bed and have my Mum around to help me feel better and I really needed that the last couple of weeks when things weren't going as I'd hoped. But it's amazing how much taking a break from somewhere makes a difference. I adore Exeter but too much time in any place is a lot to take in and uni is such an intense experience as much as I've been loving it lately.

So the end of this semester definitely came at the right time and it's so lovely to be sitting at home, in London, spending some time reflecting on it. It was the busiest and craziest one so far but also the one that I loved the most. I tried new things, made a number of mistakes and did it all alongside the very best people I know. And while that probably sounds like I'm romanticising it, looking back on it, that's what this term was like for me. And, as the wonderful Laura Jane Williams wrote on Twitter last week (side note: god she's great and inspires me day in, day out without fail), "I cannot recommend it enough. Taking the time to congratulate yourself. To make note of the 'successes' like loving well and trying new stuff. That's basically what I did this month: try stuff. Some worked, some didn't, but when looked at objectively was ALL ~noteworthy~".

And I don't think it's possible to put it better than that.