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2016 Reading Challenge: July

Books: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Why I read it: I loved this series when I was younger, and I’m really excited about the Netflix version which is coming soon, so I reclaimed my set of the books from my mum’s school library (she’s retiring, so it was my last change to ask for them back) so I could read them again in anticipation.

Basic plot: The series follows the lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire after their parents die in a fire. For the first half of the series they are moved from guardian to guardian while the sinister Count Olaf is following them trying to steal their fortune. They eventually take things into their own hands, after the adults in their lives continuously let them down, and begin to discover a secret organisation which seems to be tied in with their and their friends’ lives. The books are written under a pseudonym, as though they are real events, and Lemony Snicket is frequently addressing the reader to tell them not to read any further because it’s too sad, or going on tangents about his own life, which is linked to some of the characters and mysteries in the books.

Who it’s aimed at: They’re aimed at children, I’d say about 8+, and no specific gender, but I think they would also be enjoyed by teenagers, and I think a lot of adults would quite enjoy reading them along with their children.

Would I recommend it?: Yes, absolutely. I’d forgotten, or didn’t notice in the past, just how good they are. They’re so well written, in an unusual and rather funny style, and I really like piecing together all the hints and clues and secrets. They are also slightly frustrating at times, particularly the ending when not all the questions are answered, but I loved reading them again nonetheless.

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My Summer So Far

Hello!

Recently I’ve been struggling to actually get out the ideas I have into fully formed blog posts, so I apologise for the lack of content. But I quite like writing chatty posts, just about little things I want to say that don’t need a full post, so I’m probably going to be doing a few of them.

In my last post I mentioned some of the things I’ve been doing since I got back home from uni. I went to my older sisters’ graduations in St. Andrews and Edinburgh at the end of June. They were two lovely days with the family, and I’m very proud of them both. And I enjoyed the excuse to dress up posh. One of my sisters is home now, but the other is still in Scotland for a few more weeks.

It’s very nice having nothing to do, but I am aware that I don’t want to just laze around for 3 months, so I’ve been sorting out some things to do.

I took advantage of an offer at a local gym for 4 weeks membership for £20, so I’ve been going there a couple of times a week. I don’t push myself too hard, I’m not trying to transform my body shape in 4 weeks, but I know my fitness levels aren’t great, so I’m hoping this will help a bit. I have noticed it’s getting a bit easier. It is tiring though, especially as the walk between my house and the gym is 2.5 miles each way. I’m not generally much of an exerciser, but I’ve been enjoying going more than I expected, especially when I remember to take my iPod.

I was inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee to get back on my sewing machine, which I hadn’t really done much of since A-Level art. So far I’ve made a scrunchie and I’m half way through a dress. I’ve also been asked to make a scrunchie for a friend, and my mum want a table cloth and chair cushions for our garden, and a new sewing machine cover as our original one is very ripped. I’ve also been making more jewellery which I will be selling.

The other main thing I’ve started is volunteering at my local Oxfam book shop. I couldn’t really get a summer job as I have holidays booked, and didn’t particularly need to money or want the pressure. But I did want to be doing something which will hopefully help people and improve my CV, and volunteering is much more flexible than having a paid job. I’ve only done two shifts so far, but I’m enjoying it. I have to exercise great self restraint though, being surrounded by so many relatively cheap books, but my bookshelves are overflowing already!

I’ve been seeing my friends, mainly at the pub, but one has been joining me at the gym a bit. I also had lunch with a few friends, including one who, in the time since I last saw her, has got married, got pregnant, and separated from her husband. I wanted to have a catch up anyway, but after hearing about this thought she might be wanting support from old friends. She seems to be doing well, and I did enjoy seeing her scan pictures and all the baby talk.

The rest of my time I’ve been reading, gardening, putting off the revision I should be doing, despairing at British politics, and doing nonograms, which are fun Japanese logic puzzles (link to a website where you can do them).

The other day I bought myself a daisy plant, because daisies are one of my favourite flowers and I really wanted one.

Finally, my bedroom floor is currently rather sparkly. Last night I was feeling a bit sad, and my sister had asked me to make her some flowers out of sparkly paper and glitter, so I decided it might cheer me up to sprinkle my room with glitter. It did.

Hope you’re all doing well, until next time xx

 


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I need sincerity

I apologise in advance if I’m not very coherent in this. I need to get this off my chest, but I’m not sure I have quite the words to express how I’m feeling (especially in my slightly inebriated state).

I’m now back home from university, I’ve had the fun of relaxing back in my old room, the not-so-fun task of unpacking and being expected to help out a lot more again around the house. I’ve been to Scotland twice for my sisters’ graduations, and I’ve had the realising that I can’t spend the next few months just sitting around not doing much, so I joined a gym (only for 4 weeks, I haven’t changed completely) and am applying to volunteer in charity shops (more on that soon). And, of course, I’ve been trying to get back in touch with all my old friends from college and high school.

Last summer I was distraught at leaving my amazing old friends. We’d been through so much together, and I was so close to some of them, and I just thought I would miss them so much. I thought I’d never be able to make a proper connection with new friends who knew nothing about me, and in some ways I didn’t want to make new ‘best friends’, because it might mean the old ones weren’t as important. And yet, against all odds (or maybe inevitably), I have met some incredible people at uni, people I fit with so well that I now can’t believe I’ve only known them for less than a year. And I’ve been reminded of what I should have learnt three years ago, that there’s no limit to friendships. People come and go, that’s just how it happens, but each friendship or whatever kind of relationship is different and unique, and one doesn’t have to replace or negate another.

I loved my old friends, and I still do, but I always had some problems with them over the years. A few months ago I intended to write a post, but I don’t think I got round to it. I might still write it, but it was about realising with some of my new friends what I’ve been missing with my old friends; a sort of honest interest in me and what I have to say. And since getting home I’ve really noticed a lack of real emotion in a lot of my interactions with friends. I have one friend who kept promising that he would visit me at uni ‘every weekend’. I would say ‘you’re obviously not going to come every weekend, but please will you come at least once?’ to which he would reply ‘no, I’ll be there every weekend’. He didn’t come all year. He did visit a few other friends at uni (he had a year out). This annoyed me, but what annoys me most is that he can’t own up to the fact that he broke his promise; every time I mention it he says ‘mate, I was there every weekend, you were just never in’ (he doesn’t even know where my flat was). Another friend is renowned for lying about most things. She’s busy all summer, and she keeps saying she misses us and wants to be here. But the two times I’ve tried to visit her this year she’s had a reason why it won’t work, both of which I’ve later discovered were lies.

And then I have several friends who are very sarcastic people, who will never admit to things like actually liking their friends, or openly being kind and respectful. Most of the time I can put up with this. I laugh at the jokes, tease them back, ignore the insults, remind myself that they do care about me, that there have been so many times when I’ve really needed them and they’ve come through for me (and try to forget the times when they haven’t).

But sometimes it just gets too much. If people tell you enough times that they don’t actually like you, that what you have to say is boring, or turning down your ideas of things to do, and then combine that with feeling low about something else, or a time of low self esteem, or just it always being when you’ve drank a bit too much, you can start to believe what they’re saying. Basically, what I need is some of these friends to just tell me they’ve missed me, or that it’s nice to see me again. I need honest conversations where my friends can tell me what’s going on in their lives or their feelings without them having to be drunk and instantly pretend it didn’t happen – for instance one friend to tell me that his parents are splitting up, so I don’t feel awkward about knowing from somewhere else, or another to explain why he’s so insecure so I can help him. I want to do fun things with them other than going to the pub. I enjoy the laughing, joking banter, but I need people I can rely on, who are sincere with whom I can confidently talk about the things that matter to me. And as pathetic as this sounds, I just want certain of my friends to say to me ‘you are my friend. I value our friendship and I care about you.’

Please tell me in the comments if you’ve been through similar struggles. Please don’t tell me if you think I’m being too needy and pathetic because I’m not sure I can handle it today.


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My Life in Quotes #10

October 2015:
We made quite a mess babe, it’s probably better off this way,
And I confess babe, in my dreams you’re touching my face,
and asking me if I want to try again, with you.
And I almost do.

Missing you, is all that needs to be said

And I feel just like I’m living someone else’s life,
It’s like I just stepped outside, when everything was going right.

These streets have too many names for me…I’ll get used to this eventually I know

I’m on the road, the road to home

November 2015:
Here’s to my new friends, a toast to the weekend,
It’s time to begin again, so here’s to my new friends

And what’s one more day? This distance remains hard for me.

Though I am far away, and I am all alone,
There are parts of me, that still are holding on,
To moments long since passed, secrets I recall,
And friends I used to have, who I don’t know any more

And when I dream, I’m not in [Memphis], I’m on my way, home on that train.
And I don’t feel so lost and distant, Lord the miles, how they cut me deep.

I miss you, more than I let on, I kiss you, far too long,
I’ll let go, as soon as you do, see I know, we’re not through

December 2015:
Thank you, and goodnight, I’ve got a new mountain to climb…
I’m no longer scared, I’m just so glad you were there.

It’ll all be alright, I’ll be home tonight, I’m coming back home

We’ll meet our friends, drinking in the [Swan], I don’t know where time’s gone

And I’d tell you that I miss you but I’m sure it doesn’t matter at all

I have felt no better feeling, than the glow the home fire brings

I am not the way, I’d hoped to be

As always these are quotes owned by copyright holders, not my own words, I have merely chosen them to convey a message. If you want to read the posts in this series in order, start here. Click here for the next instalment (once it is published).


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2016 Reading Challenge: June

Book: Always With Love by Giovanna Fletcher

Why I read it: I enjoy watching Giovanna’s YouTube videos, so always hear so much about her books that I want to read them, and I have enjoyed her previous books.

Basic plot: This is the sequel to Giovanna Fletcher’s first novel, Billy and Me. It picks up a few months after the end of Billy and Me, following the main character, Sophie, meeting Billy’s family for the first time, dealing with a long distance relationship, and her mum’s upcoming wedding.

Who it’s aimed at: This is another fairly typical chick-lit style novel aimed at adult women.

Would I recommend it?: If you have enjoyed other books by this author then I’m sure you will love this one. I feel about this the same way as I have felt about all of Giovanna Fletcher’s books; I’m never quite sure about her writing style, and I can’t put my finger on why. However, the story lines are so enjoyable that I don’t notice that too much. If you want a nice, fairly easy read, that makes you feel all emotional and happy and romantic, then this is a perfect book for you (but I would read Billy and Me first).