Sunday, 9 July 2017

London Exploring | House of Minalima, Harry Potter and Hotdogs

As a surprise my mum told me we were going on a trip to London to visit the Harry Potter galleries/exhibitions dotted around the city. The surprise was to celebrate my fourth anniversary as a diabetic, every year I treat myself to something a little bit sugary (Cake) but this year my Mum had a plan up her sleeve. We got the train to London and spent the day exploring, gasping at Harry Potter, finding independent bookshops and eating vegan hot dogs from VX in Kings Cross. I had the most exciting day and my love for Harry Potter is still very much intact, and growing. 





First stop, Camden. A quick walk through Camden high street early morning is strange when you're used to the busyness of weekends. It was awfully quiet. The juices from The Good Yard are incredible, I've tried the 'Gym' shake!


On route to the Pottermore Pop-up gallery on Portobello Road. We walked through Portobello high street, its market and its variety of antique shops. One house on the street had a plaque declaring where writer George Orwell took up residence from 1903-1950, as a bookworm and literature enthusiast I was fascinated. It's peculiar to me to think about writers; where they lived; where they wrote their most famous works; the streets they walked upon.


The Pottermore Pop-up at Graffik Gallery on Portobello Road is only open 1st July - 7th July, unfortunately. It's a gallery appreciating artists and designers based on the Harry Potter franchise. The prints are available to buy, prices beginning at £19.95. These seven prints are designs for each movie. 





The House of Minalima on Greek Street in Soho is four floors dedicated to Harry Potter. It focuses on the graphic design that went into the films by two artists Miraphora and Eduardo. The attention to detail is unbelievable; the editions of The Daily Prophet, The Marauder's Map and Weasleys Wizard Wheezes. This museum/gallery is definitely eccentric and one of a kind. The tour through the four floors is interesting to say the least, very engaging and free! It showcases some of the actual props from the films, currently on loan from Warner Brothers. You can buy prints and accessories in the shop on the ground floor. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Mini Book Review | Treats by Lara Williams


"Love was sneaky like that. It found a warm nook, a safe space, and crept in, settling there like an unwelcome houseguest..."



Treats by Manchester based writer Lara Williams is a collection of short stories. Some super short (Two page stories) and some of longer length. A lot of them focus on womanhood and all the various aspects of life: Careers, love, break-ups, dating, pregnancy and friendship. 

I flew through this book, my second time reading it. The stories are easy to devour. Short story collections mean you don't have to dedicate long periods of your time to reading. You can dip in and out as you please. Read one story and let it manifest. Come back to it another day, there's no need to remember the characters or plot because it's brand new. That's what I like about them. No commitment to a 70,000 word novel. 

I read this in a day, and absorbed all the stories, let them linger in my mind. I found myself relating to some of the situations and feelings felt by the characters. However, saying that, I didn't relate to some of the strange sex requests. "Can I pee on you?" is not my sexual fantasy. Williams's creates clear images and the detail is enticing. The stories are funny, hopeful and slightly depressing. 

Most of the main characters were women, I loved this. I loved the honest perspectives of life, and the second person narration allowing the reader to be in the character's shoes. Some of the stories spoke to me on a personal level, at a point in my life where everything appears to be changing, there's an uncertainty to my future, and I'm discovering who I am. I believe books find you the moment you need them. At a moment of relevance in your life. This book made me think about my own personal growth, my goals and plans.

My favourite stories are 'Treats' about Elaine, she is a woman of kindness, someone who gives and doesn't expect anything in return. It is her joy to treat people, to display random acts of kindness. She brings coffee and lunch to her colleague Joan, despite being the office manager herself. She visits the cinema by herself after her husband lets her down and she purchases a ticket for the girl behind her in the queue who also happens to be alone. Her selflessness has stayed with me, and how being alone isn't always something to be criticised. 

'Penguin' is another favourite. A single woman in her late twenties starts using dating websites, and finds herself sifting through the weirdos. She meets a man, begins a relationship and reaches all
the typical relationship milestones. Meet the friends, meet the family, move in, etc. Then, the man reveals a rather odd sex request. "Dress up like a penguin and incubate some eggs.".


Do you have any short story collection recommendations?

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Countryside Loving

I live in a town with an abundance of small villages in the surrounding areas. These villages are quaint and picturesque. White cottages with beautiful flowerbeds and thatched roofs, that kinda thing. The type of place a romance film starring Hugh Grant would be filmed. Their churches are to be admired, again small but with incredible architecture and traditional graveyards with stones hundreds of years old.

When I'm old and grey, and a successful author I want to live in a small thatched cottage in the countryside. Maybe with my own allotment nearby too. Dream big!



Events come all year round, Summer brings village fetes and my family spend weekends visiting them. A true family affair, dog too, we explore and take our turn picking tickets for the tombola. Chocolate tombolas and my favourite, the alcoholic ones. My sister and I have lucky picking abilities, and we often have handfuls of tickets ending in 0 and 5. I recently won rose wine (Yes please), beer and aero chocolate.
Wandering around the fetes under gazebos with local families selling homemade jams and baked goods, and homemade crafts. There's just something I love about the atmosphere, the sunny skies and feeling of community.  The traditional games for children (And adults of course) including a coconut shy and guessing games.





The lush greenery of the countryside sucks me in every time. I think myself as a city gal. I love exploring London and navigating the complicated maze that is the London Underground. I moved to Bath for university which is a pretty big city. But countryside feels like home. The winding roads that are dangerously narrow, the continuous roll of fields and livestock. The long walks, not just in summer, but every season. The trees, the tiny rivers and steep hills are what I'm all about. I like to take photographs. I like being surrounded by nature and its freedom compared to the hustle and bustle of city centres. 

As a writer, a creative searching for fresh ideas and inspiration, nature brings the most creative thoughts. The quiet, the walking and exploring, the little villages make me want to write more than ever. My head is always a flurry of ideas and my phone is full of random notes and descriptions. 

Monday, 26 June 2017

The Story of Reading

It seems fitting to write a post about my love of reading on the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone. Twenty years ago I was only one years old. A small baby who had no idea as she grew up she would fall in love with reading and the written word.

J.K Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson are the authors I immediately think of when I talk about my love of reading. That's where it all began. It began by reading the Harry Potter series as a 6/7 year old, and The Story of Tracy Beaker.

Harry Potter has been the only constant in my life, as have most books I've devoured. Harry Potter though, is a large part of my childhood. I remember my aunt buying me the books. I remember going to see Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets in the cinema with my then best friend, and being terrified at the scene with the basilisk (We sat front row.) I remember going to see all the films, and dragging my first boyfriend to The Deathly Hallows Pt 2. Every other child around me talking about Harry and all the magic. Reading the books together. Girls finding a role model in Hermione. Dressing up as Harry Potter characters on World Book Day (I dressed as a Dementor, apparently I was an odd child.) Deciding what house you belonged to. Running around the playground with a makeshift wand, made of sticks and sellotape.

I had the books. I loved the films. I adored Hermione's hair and ambition. I adored Harry's bravery. I adored Ron's humour. I still do. I love everything Harry Potter. My friends and family regularly look to me when HP is mentioned. I'm prone to dropping a HP reference. I love re watching the films, especially when they are aired on TV at Christmas time. My copies of the books are one of my prized possessions and have their own shelf on my bookcase. And eventually, when it's my chance to have children the series will most definitely forced upon them.


The series sparked my love for reading. I owe a lot of my life so far, my goals, ambitions and dreams to the series that started it all. Reading and writing are my one true loves. English was always my strongest point during school, and I'm pursing it further with my creative writing degree at university.

Reading brings me adventure, safety, escape and happiness, among many other things. I spent a lot of my school years back and forth to the library taking out all the books I could, and wishing to be old enough to reach the higher years shelves. Even now I will leave the public library with a bag overflowing with books, I haven't changed one bit. Sitting on the beanbags in primary school, and the fuzzy carpets surrounded by shelves of books that looked like huge skyscrapers.

I turn to the safety of a book in almost any situation. I like to carry a book with me wherever I go.

"Why have you brought a book with you?"  


Comfort is found in the pages of a book, in the stories, in the characters and in the words. My own bookcase, my own collection brings me immense happiness and satisfaction. Visiting bookshops and browsing the books is one of my favourite things to do, even if I have no money to buy a new book, it's the being there that means something to me. Books are my home. They are my pride and joy. Nothing makes me happier than tucking myself up in bed and losing myself in a story.

The power of language, and words constructed together beautifully is the reason why I write. Why my passion is writing and how sometimes explaining why I love it so much is unfathomable to some. A family member asked me recently how I can just sit down and write a story. I just can. That's how. It's my natural instinct to write. I have the ability to turn everything into a story: a conversation overheard on the bus, a beautiful stranger, a song or an emotion.

Writing is in my blood. Writing is how I convey my feelings. Writing is how I feel happiness on the lowest days.

Reading is my escape from the cruel world outside of my duvet. Reading is learning about other cultures and countries, and other types of people.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Books, books and books

Being home for three weeks over Easter meant I kinda forgot about my deadlines and dived into a pile of books. I bought books and I went to the local library, which is brand spanking new and I could have left with baskets of books. I stuck with only three books.

Over the three weeks home, and a couple of weeks back at uni, I've read five books. I'm definitely on target for my book goal this year, currently reading my 24th book... Girl, I gotta serious book problem! and I've realised it even more so now I've moved back home for summer and organised my book collection back on my shelves.

Some of my latest book reads include

The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest

This book delivers stunning prose, obviously it does, have you listened to Kate's performance poetry? There's something so beautiful about a poet writing fiction, the traditional story form is there but poetry sneaks in so beautifully. Set in London, Becky, Harry and Leon are navigating their way through adulthood. The term 'nitty gritty' comes to mind: drugs, sex, relationships and financial problems. Kate's voice comes through on every page, it's so strong.


The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

YA novel about Flora who is a teenage girl living a sheltered life after an incident that left her with amnesia.  Flora kisses her best friend's boyfriend Drake at his leaving party, miraculously she remembers it. She then goes on to have a ridiculously unrealistic adventure to Norway to find Drake, who she is now convinced is the love of her life. For me, young adult fiction often deals with issues young readers can relate to, but The One Memory of Flora Banks completely misses the point. It could have been stronger, IMO falling in love will not cure medical problems.

I Hate the Internet by Jarett Kobek

I loved this SO much. I borrowed it from the library, and devoured it with many laughs. A satire about our use of the internet in the 21st century. Shockingly accurate and hilarious. Covers internet culture, feminism, politics and pop culture, and how social media can affect someone's life. If you're looking for something oddly light-hearted, and humorous, this might be your next book.


The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media by Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett 

Found this to be extremely thought provoking. A very important piece of non-fiction about feminism and how women are represented in the media. It discusses advertising in magazines, and how competing magazines contradict each other. I stopped buying magazines a year or so ago, they are an unhealthy consumption, especially the celebrity gossip ones. The messages are misleading, and the essays reveal the reality of media representation, for both women and men. This book discusses lad culture, rape, dieting, fashion, sex and many more. The list is endless.

The last one I read over Easter was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

My most anticipated book of the year so far, and the one I've seen everyone talk about on Twitter.  A young adult novel based on the movement Black Lives Matter. The story is of Starr Carter living in two different worlds: the poor neighbourhood she lives and grew up in, and the fancy prep school she goes to outside of her neighbourhood. Her best friend from childhood Khalil is shot by the police, and it all starts from there - following Starr's journey for justice. It's brutal, shocking and emotional, and if you weren't already aware of the justice system then you will soon. If there is one book you read this year, make sure it's The Hate U Give. It is a powerful story setting the bar for young adult fiction.

What have you been reading?

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Messages of 13 Reasons Why

For the last few days all anyone has spoken about is 13 Reasons Why, and I just finished watching it. To say I'm an emotional wreck right now would be an understatement. The final episode got me SO hard.

13 Reasons Why might possibly be the most important production for a long time. It covers bullying, friendships, mental health, drugs, sex, rape and suicide. And I want everyone to be talking about it for a while to come. The show addresses how you don't know how your actions might affect someone else, how your careless words can knock someone's self esteem or ruin their lives. It really makes you think about all the shitty things people do and say, and why. I've heard people say your high school years are the best of your life, but are they the best when bullying happens in every single school? And often gets pushed aside? How bullying is never solved? Suspending the bully doesn't solve anything. Moving schools will not solve anything because there will always be bullying until humans start being kinder and understand the full impact of our actions.

I read the novel by Jay Asher when I was around 14/15 but until the Netflix series I don't think the honest reality behind the novel hit me. I don't think I fully understood it, yeah high school is a shitty place for everyone at some point, but when I look back after watching this I realise how bad it can get for some. 

I was apprehensive about the series on first impression. I thought it cliche, and at times romanticising mental illness, because Hannah Baker (The main character) commits suicide and leaves 13 tapes as to what lead to her to make that final choice. 13 tapes 'blaming' the people around her, I thought this to be silly, and careless. I can't explain why, it's just the tapes, it feels almost as if it's a massive game of who's next on the list. However, I didn't let my doubt stop watching, and I'm glad I continued. I even begun to like some of the characters, most of them were awful yet accurate depictions of various people you meet in school.

A few things

  • Bryce was vile
  • I felt sympathy for Justin in the end (This doesn't mean he wasn't a complete dick)
  • Clay wound me up with that damn plaster on his forehead, and nearly getting hit by a car on his bike 47373 times
  • Skye's comment about self harm and how it's what you do instead of killing yourself. No. No. 
  • Is Alex ok??? Can someone please tell me
  • Hannah's hair

PSA - Some scenes came with warnings because of their content. Would not recommend watching it if you're going through a hard time or are easily triggered.

The point is, you never know what's going on in someone's life. 

We need to be kinder to everyone around us. We need to let the people we love and care for know that we do actually love them.