Be Nice It's Tuesday


Positive Notes on Trains

The other day I wrote about a long train journey I had, and how much people were complaining on that train. Today I wanted to share a more positive side of that journey.

I’ve probably said before, but I try to leave little notes in random place with nice messages on. I usually forget to do this when I’ve meant to, but I usually find trains and busses are good places to do it – I think people often need a lift when they’re on public transport! On that particular train journey I had plenty of time to stick notes on the backs of seats around me, and I took photos of some of them:

A quote from ‘Good Day’ by Ron Pope (I know I go on about that song a lot, but it’s great)

IMG_2674More song lyrics, this one from ‘Get Better’ by Frank Turner

Something which is always important to remember when you’re feeling sad or fed up

My standard thing to write on these notes, just a nice thing to read

I love leaving these notes, when I remember, and I would recommend other people to do it. Think what a lovely world it would be if every time you sat on a train, or opened a newspaper, or bought a second hand book, or used a public toilet, you saw a nice message like this.

Let me know in the comments whether you’ve ever left or found notes like this



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Complaining About Complaining

I’m afraid that what I’m about to write is rather hypocritical.

A few weeks ago I was on a train from Bristol to Edinburgh. I left my flat at 10:30 in the morning with all my bags for the weekend. I went to one seminar, then had a break to eat lunch and do some revision, then had a second seminar. Then I walked to the train station, had an hour waiting there (I always like to leave plenty of time to catch the train, but it does lead to a lot of waiting around), then got n my train at 4:30 in the afternoon. Bristol and Edinburgh are quite far apart, so the train was already meant to take 6h30m, but then it was delayed for quite a while through Yorkshire (it was very strange going through my home stations and not getting off), so I didn’t get to my sister’s flat in Edinburgh until after midnight.

As well as being delayed, between Birmingham and York the train was very full of people who’d had to wait even longer because of earlier trains being cancelled, so naturally these people, many of whom had to stand up, were not feeling very happy. But I noticed how much people were complaining about it all very loudly; one man in particular seemed to be ringing everyone he knew to tell them about the delays. Now I’m sure I am sometimes guilty of complaining too much, and I guess that is what I’m doing now, but in situations like that, when there’s nothing that can be done and everyone is in it together, complaining out loud can only make things worse for everyone. It’s annoying to be constantly reminded of the situation you’re in, it’s annoying when you want to remind the person that you have to stay on this train long after they’ve got off, and it just spreads a general air of negativity everywhere.

Complaining can sometimes help you to get something off your chest, and getting sympathy from others can make you feel better, but I think there are some guidelines which should be applied. For instance, it’s much better to complain to someone who isn’t involved, and so people involved don’t see/hear. Keep it to a minimum; have your rant, hear a reply, then focus on other things. Don’t expect it to change the situation, or even make you feel much better. And most importantly, once you’ve got it out your system, make sure you keep it in perspective. We all have things we could complain about, but in the grand scheme of things, how important are they really?

I knew exactly what I wished I could say to this man, but I’m not that confident, so instead I just wrote it down, to share here:

I’m on this train for hours longer than most people here, but at least I’ve had a seat the whole way. My evening meal was stale sandwiches, and I’ve run out of water, but at least I’ve had more than enough to eat and drink to survive. This trip has cost me a lot of money, but at least I did have the money for the tickets. It’s annoying that people are playing music and videos out loud on the train, but at least my ears work well. I’m tired, I’ve just gone past my home where I really want to be, I’ll be spending the weekend on floors or in strange beds, but at least I will have somewhere safe to stay. And best of all, I’m going to see my sisters, and complaining about any of that stuff would just make it seem like they weren’t worth it. And they are.

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Random Ramblings

Yesterday I had my first written exam of the summer – I’d already had all my speaking an listening and essays. But this was quite a big and stressful one, it was Russian Language. I’ve only been studying Russian since September, and it is rather hard, and I was convinced that I was going to fail the exam. But it didn’t actually seem as bad as I’d expected, so fingers crossed. I still have Russian History, German History and German Language to come over the next couple of weeks, but I decided to give myself the day off today. Partly because last night I had a night in with my Biology friends, who I love hanging out with, but we drank quite a lot so I wasn’t up to much this morning.

But one thing I have done today is file away all my Russian language work from the year, take down my revision posters from it etc., and start thinking about how I’m going to pack up my uni room as it’s only a few weeks now until I move out. It’s feeling very strange, the way the end of the year has suddenly crept up on me like this. I’m glad I’m on a 4 year course, it’s weird enough being almost 1/4 of the way through uni, let alone 1/3. Obviously I’m not going to be as emotional about leaving my halls as I was about moving in; I have grown to feel quite at home in my little room and flat here, but it hasn’t been perfect, it’s only been a year, and I am so excited to be moving into a house with some amazing friends. I’m starting to plan some exciting things for the summer – nothing fully sorted yet, but getting there. And there are other exciting things I’ve got lined up for next academic year; I’m the new treasurer of the choir I’m in, and I’ve just got a job as a peer mentor starting in September. So basically, everything is very exciting, but I am still getting a bit emotional about all the changes, as I always do.

Other than exams, I have recently been spending a lot of time on trains, going up and down the country – Yorkshire to Bristol, then to Edinburgh and St. Andrews, then back to Bristol, then Yorkshire, now I’m back in Bristol again. I went to visit my sisters in Scotland which was good, a while since we’ve done anything just the three of us. Then I went home to surprise my mum for her birthday. She also shares a birthday with my two best friends at home, so I got to see them both too. I’d never done the surprise visit before, it’s great fun. I don’t mind trains too much, and it is great to be able to get to all the places, but I have been on quite a few delayed ones recently. Most notably, I had to go via Reading to get between Bristol and Birmingham because of a problem last week. If you’re not from the UK that won’t mean much to you, but it was quite a big detour. On the plus side, I should be getting some money back.

Think that’s all from me for now, I hope you’re all doing well in whatever exams/work/personal challenges you have going on in your lives right now 🙂

Oh, and I know what I forgot. This blog turned two on Monday, which is a nice achievement for me. Thanks to anyone who’s ever read anything I’ve written, it means a lot.

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2016 Reading Challenge: May

Book: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Why I read it: I love the film Stardust which is based on this book, so when my sister bought the book I was eager to read it.

Basic plot: It begins in the Victorian times, in a village which lies next to a wall. On the other side of the wall is a land called Faerie where there are all sorts of magical lands and stories. The story follows a young man from the village who crosses the wall to find a fallen star, and the adventures he has.

Who it’s aimed at: In the copy of this book that I was reading there is actually an author’s Q&A, in which he says that he wanted to write a fairytale for adults. So, unlike the film, this is definitely aimed at adults, not kids (he throws in a few sex scenes and a swear word to make it clear). I think anyone who likes fairytales, fantasy or adventure stories would enjoy it.

Would I recommend it?: The book is very different from the film, and I don’t often say this, but I think I actually prefer the film. The book isn’t as dramatic, which isn’t a problem, but it does sometimes feel a but rushed and unsatisfactory as a story, for instance characters disappearing without sufficient explanation. However, I enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it.

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2016 Reading Challenge: April

Book: The Dandelion Years by Erica James

Why I read it: I bought this book last summer when I decided to just go into a book shop and buy one that looked good – something I love but don’t do often because whenever I have book money I have loads lined up that I’ve been planning to buy. I loved it the first time round so felt it was time for a re-read.

Basic plot: This is one of those books with two stories going on at once. There’s a modern day young woman with the standard tragic back-story and lack of love-life, and half the narrative follows her life and family. But she also finds a hidden notebook, which makes up the rest of the narrative, and tells the love story of a young man working at Bletchley Park in WWII.

Who it’s aimed at: This is a fairly typical, quite easy going novel, probably aimed at women aged 20 and up. But, as always, it’s not for all women, and I don’t see why a man shouldn’t enjoy it. I also can’t think of anything too age-appropriate in there, so I think younger teenagers could happily read it (though might find it a bit too full of everyday life).

Would I recommend it?: The first time I read it I really enjoyed it. This time it was still a nice read, but I’m not sure it’s one I’ll want to re-read many times. So I’d definitely recommend it, it’s got some really interesting bits, but if you like to read books over and over it might not be the best investment book.

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A Year of Adulting

Anyone who was reading this blog a year ago may remember that I spent a month making a very big deal about turning 18 and therefore becoming an adult. Well I have now had a year of adulthood – I recently turned 19 – which seems to have been a very long year. I still don’t feel like a proper, fully fledged adulty adult, there are many times when I still feel like a lost little kid looking for a parent or someone to help me. But as the year has gone on, particularly since I moved away from home, I have gradually felt more like a grown up. During the year I have been compiling a list of specific moments which really make me feel like an adult, so here is a count-down of the 15 most adulty things I’ve done.

15. Travelling Alone: Before I was 18 I would often get trains on my own, so this isn’t something that suddenly changed, but it was always something that made me feel older. Since starting uni I’ve been getting trains more frequently, and sometimes more complicated journeys, and it is always exciting arriving somewhere on your own, when you’ve been completely responsible for getting yourself there.

14. Doing Laundry: A lot of the things that make me feel adult are mundane, everyday things that children don’t generally have to deal with. Doing laundry may be boring, expensive and annoying, but it’s something adults do. They even do laundry on Friends. I’m an adult level ahead of Rachel in the first series.

13. Alcohol: Since being able to buy and drink alcohol is one of the things people make the biggest deal of on 18th Birthdays, you might think it should be higher up this list, but I had drank before turning 18, and once we could go to the pub, it quickly became the normal thing to do with my friends when none of us really felt like proper adults yet. But it is always nice to be able to buy a drink, especially if you don’t get ID’d. And I had a very smug moment at the Sainsburys self service check-out when some underage boys next to me were trying to buy alcohol and failed, and I knew that I could just get whatever I wanted.

12. Cooking: I normally don’t bother much with my food; my tea is generally frozen stuff on a tray in the oven for half an hour. But on the occasions when I have cooked a proper meal, with different things happening at different times, I really feel like I’m on top of things.

11. Being Knowledgeable: This one is more to do with being at university, but a few months ago I was staying with my aunt and uncle, and my uncle asked me a question. He had read Anna Kerenina quite a while before hand and been confused about why it said that the characters spoke to each other in French. Using the Russian history that I had been studying, I was able to give him a full answer, and have a sophisticated discussion about it with him.

10.Buying Towels: When I was shopping for uni, the thing I was most excited about was buying towels. It’s just so nice having new, fluffy, white towels which are actually mine. Maybe this one’s just me, but I loved buying them. I had wanted yellow towels, but they’d sold out. I guess white (or, sorry, ‘almond’) is a bit more grown up, but one day I will have my yellow towels.

9. Drinking Tea: I never liked hot drinks, but I decided that drinking tea is something that any self-respecting British adult should be do, so I have managed to force myself into it. I’m still not a massive tea-person, and I don’t want to become dependant on it like some people are, but it’s useful when people invite you over for a cuppa and you can actually have a cuppa. I also felt very mature the other week meeting some friends in a café and choosing tea over a gingerbread man.

8. Kitchen Utensils: One thing that I’ve noticed quite a few times over the past year is how excited I get about kitchen utensils. First I got some beautiful Cath Kidston mugs for my 18th birthday, then came buying plates, bowls, glasses, chopping knives and board, baking tray etc. before moving to uni, which was exciting. But then one day last autumn I went into Wilkos and I didn’t even look at the cheap sweets, I just bought a potato peeler and roasting tray so I could make roast potatoes and parsnips. In fact several times I’ve gone into a shop and instantly looked at the kitchen section, and got very excited when I actually buy something. I even had things like garlic press and tongs on my Christmas wish-list!

7. ‘Proper’ adults as equals: A slightly more subtle change I’ve noticed is the way I now interact with people – mainly family and family friends – who I’ve always considered to be ‘proper’ adults, those who have been adults my whole life (as opposed to cousins who turned 18 several years before me). I think they always will ‘the older generations’ to me, but they definitely have started treating me as more of an adult, and an equal, for instance having much more serious conversations, or just them not adopting an ‘adult-to-child’ approach to me.

6.Voting: I think I wrote last May about how important voting is to me, and I was very excited to turn 18 just before a General Election, and I have voted again in this year’s Local Elections. Democracy is important, an 18-year-old ‘middle class’ girl with no money or property having the right to vote would have been inconceivable in the not-too-distant-past, so being able to vote was the biggest thing for me in terms of ‘what actually changes the minute you turn 18’.

5. Parents on school run: This sort of links to no. 7, but three mornings a week at uni, when I have 9ams, I walk past a lot of parents taking children to school. I’m one of those people who smiles at or says hi to everyone I pass, but after a few months I realised that I was smiling at children in that ‘adult-to-child’ way I mentioned, whereas I actually feel more on the same level as the parents.

4. Being responsible for other people: Last November I was on a train very late at night, and across the aisle from me was a girl, probably in her mid-twenties, who was very drunk. The middle-aged lady she was sitting next to was trying to talk to her and make sure she was ok, but she had to get off a few stops before. The drunk girl was getting off at the same stop as me, so the older lady had asked whether I would keep an eye on her, which I did and she got safely into a taxi at the station. But it did feel very strangely grown up to be looking after someone who was older than me, and when the other woman said about me ‘this lady is going to make look after you, but she’s busy working so don’t disturb her’. A slightly similar thing happened on another train recently, this time someone’s suitcase fell on her head, and I was the one to check if she was alright, and help clean up the blood. That’s not something kids have to deal with.

3. Weekly Food Shop: This is something I am quite proud of really. I am a very organised person, and I take after my Dad in that way. So when I started having to buy my own food, I thought about what Dad does. Throughout each week I keep making a list of what I will need the following week, and what might run out soon, then first thing Saturday morning I go to Co-op or Sainsburys (depending on what I need) and sometimes the Greengrocers, and buy what is on my list, looking out for good deals on things I will actually use. To me this feels grown up, but it’s the obvious sensible thing to do, however I know other students -including my older sisters – who seem very impressed that I actually plan what I need to buy and do it all in one go.

2. Paying Rent: Like doing laundry, this is just such a young-adulty, Friends style, thing to do, or more noticeably, to talk about doing. ‘I’ve just paid my rent’ ‘my bank account looks full but I still need to pay rent’ etc., it doesn’t get more adult.

1. House Hunting: Well, one thing does get more adult. House hunting. Yes, I was just looking for a house to rent with a group of friends for the next year of uni, but going house hunting has got to be the most grown up thing I’ve ever done. Frustrating, hard work, ending up with something that’s good but not quite what we really wanted – it’s got all the key features of adulthood! But seriously, I cannot wait to move into my own house – even though it won’t be my own house, it’s the closest I’ll have for the next few years, and it really makes me realise that I’ve grown up a lot in the past year, but I still have a lot of growing to do. (In the maturity sense, that is, I think I’ll be stuck at 5′ forever now!)