Monday, 29 September 2014

Outfit of the Day - Peek-a-Boo

     This dress is well out of my usual comfort zone! I never thought I could pull off cut-outs, but a friend convinced me to try it on, and then buy it! I'm glad I did though, as it's good to try something new, and maybe a little daring, every now and then. I wore it for a night out, accessorised fairly simply as it wasn't a particularly fancy or significant night. I also thought I'd share this bag, which is my go-to on a night out, as it's small, matches everything and easy to keep hold of in busy places, with the long over-the-shoulder strap.

cut out dress outfit

cut out dress outfit

cut out dress

silver earrings

black shoes

black shoulder bag

Dress - H&M, Tights - Marks & Spencer, Shoes - H&M
Bag - Troop, Earrings - Claire's, Ring - Unknown
Nail Polish - 'Sea Green' by Rimmel

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Review - Catfish And The Bottlemen: The Balcony

     Catfish and the Bottlemen’s debut album The Balcony is fun and catchy, while cleverly avoiding the mainstream. The radio friendly tracks have been heard everywhere lately, but they’re infused with the rock and roll guitar music that we’ve been lacking lately. The record is energetic and it’s easy to picture a crowd dancing away to it, but at the same time it seems to capture the dingy, dark atmosphere of night out, particularly on tracks like ‘Cocoon’, ‘Fallout’ and ‘Business’.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Musically Inspired - Legacy

     How do you want to be remembered? What mark do you want to leave on the world?

I was here

     I don’t think any of us want to go through life being entirely invisible. We’d all like to remembered somehow when we’re gone. But how and by who is different for us all. Some seek fame and grand achievements that the whole world knows about. For others, being liked by family and friends is enough. We all have different personalities too, so one person may wish for their intelligence to remembered, another for their strength, another for their kindness.

     And what price are we willing to pay to be remembered? Would you rather be known superficially by many people, or on a much deeper level by only a few? What if one thing about you overshadows everything else, eclipsing other traits and achievements? What if you find fame, but for doing something terrible? Is it worth it, for you?

     Like it or not, we all leave some sort of legacy. As we pass through this world, our lives intersect with many others, leaving traces and footprints. Even the briefest of encounters can have a profound, lasting impact. It’s worth remembering the effects our actions and words can have on others, and know when to speak out or exercise caution. We all change the world through everything we do, every single day. Be it big or small, we all make a mark on the world.

     Some stories may be forgotten or get distorted over time. But that doesn’t alter the fact that they happened. In that moment, you were there and it happened. That’s a little piece of your history that will forever be a part of the world’s history, no matter whether a thousand people know about it, or just you.

     Wanting to be remembered could sound self-centred, but it’s a natural desire for everyone. We need other people in our lives, and to feel like we matter to someone. And we all do. Some people my change the world, other simply lead a quiet life - but we all matter and we all leave some form of legacy behind.

Song: Centuries - Fall Out Boy
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Monday, 22 September 2014

Autumn/Winter Haul

     New season mean new clothes, right? That's what I'm telling myself after buying far too much in one shopping trip. This was a celebratory I've-done-my-essay trip that got a little out of hand, but has set me up well for the coming months.

     First up I went to TopShop. It's not a shop I buy from often, but every now and then something strikes my fancy. This dress is a very thick woollen material, which will be very cosy through the colder months, as my summer dresses just aren't cutting it any more. The pattern has little white threads running through it and the style of the skirt is one I seem to choose very frequently.

TopShop dress

     Next I went to H&M, where I normally manage to pick up a few bits and pieces. I got another warmer, thicker winter dress. Again, the skirt is typical of me, but I also really like the scooped neckline. I think the dark purple colour is gorgeous for the winter months too, a time when I normally veer towards darker colours in general.

H&M purple dress

     This jumper is a very lightweight material, which is good for this transitory period when not every day is freezing cold just yet. I like the 3/4 length sleeves and how loose and easy it is to wear with just about anything. The grey colour is also great for pairing it with so many outfits and makes a change from the black that I so easily revert to.

H&M grey jumper

     While I'm not a massive fan of exercise I do try to do a little now and then (mostly in the form of yoga) so I wanted something better to do it in than the old top I was using. This is both comfortable and practical and is made of a nice stretchy and breathable material. It's not the most exciting to look at, but it's subtle and does the job.

H&M sports top

     My next stop along the way was Primark. I have mixed feelings about this shop, as it's great to be able to get stuff so cheap, but I often feel this compromises the quality in here. However, I love this checked shirt I managed to find. I've been after a good one for a while, and this is so warm and cosy. Green is also a colour I've been trying to get more of, so this is ideal. I think I'll generally wear it hanging open over something else and with the sleeves rolled up like this.

Primark green checked shirt

      I've been desperate for a few new pairs of jeans, which especially come in handy during these colder months. I got this first pair in Next, not a shop I frequent much, but I discovered that I really like the jeans in there. I tend to go for skinnies, as they're the easiest to wear with all my much-loved boots. This pair are simple and practical, and I know will get plenty of use.

Next jeans

     My final stop was in New Look, one of my old favourites. I also like the jeans in here, so I picked up another pair. Again, comfortable and practical skinnies were the order of the day. However, I like the acid-wash effect on these, as it makes them  just a little bit different to most of my other pairs, but will still be easy to pair with most outfits.

New Look acid jeans

     I also got this top in New Look. It's nothing too fancy, but I'm a big fan of lace and the detailing on the sleeves just make this top a little nicer and a bit more unusual. I quite like the 3/4 length of the sleeves as well and I think this is such a lovely colour, for the winter, but also in general.

New Look purple top

     Finally, I grabbed this necklace, which was the only one of it's design on the stand. The long chain with a pendant is a style I tend to wear a lot, and silver is my preferred colour when it comes to jewellery. I also love feather patterns, so I just couldn't resist this piece!

Feather necklace

     And that's it for this shopping trip. I won't be doing another for a quite a while, hopefully, as I think I'm pretty well set for the time being. I hope this was of some interest to people too! Anyone else been autumn/winter shopping lately?

Saturday, 20 September 2014

What's Next For Scotland?

     On Thursday 18th September 2014 the people of Scotland were asked to voice our opinions on whether or not our nation should become an independent country. Regardless of the outcome, this day will be marked in history. A matter of great importance to the people was raised, debated, campaigned for and against and ultimately, decided on. While other parts of the world suffer in silence, or wage war about such matters, we were able to make our voices heard in a peaceful, democratic manner.

     And now the votes have been cast, and we have said no. The majority of the country felt that we were better off remaining as part of the United Kingdom. Understandably, those who voted Yes are disappointed by this outcome. But what disappoints me more is the way that some of them have reacted to this, declaring that it was rigged, that people voted No out of fear, that they now feel ashamed to be Scottish. All of which I find insulting and absurd. And I could not be more disgusted by the riots in Glasgow last night.

     Obviously people will be upset when the outcome is not what they desired, but the decision was taken based on the opinion of the majority; that’s just how democracy works. No one should judge other for their opinions, nor make assumptions about how those opinions are formed. Campaigning before a referendum makes sense, as people need to be informed about both sides of the argument. But to persist in doing so after the decision has been made suggests a level of pettiness and bitterness. I’ve seen people fight and fall out over this matter, which is of course an incredibly important one, but important enough to lose friends over? Hard as it may be, these people need to accept this outcome and learn to respect the opinions of others.

     As for the declarations concerning our nationality and sense of pride, I think it’s clear to the rest of the world that Scotland has a unique culture and heritage that we are fiercely proud of. We have a long and turbulent relationship with England throughout history, and it’s true that other countries have a tendency to use Britain and England synonymously, when they are not the same thing, and Scots have long been irritated by such errors. However, choosing to remain united with them is not from lack of pride, but rather a decision taken for sensible and practical reasons. If the Yes and No defenders can reconcile their differences, we can again be a nation proud of who we are, regardless of the Union.

     Change will have to come though. The referendum had a staggeringly high turn-out, and for years in advance people were discussing and defending sides in the debate. Also, while the No vote was in the majority, almost half the country said Yes. These are all reflections on how important this issue is to the country, and how many of us are crying for change of some kind. Many who voted No believe the United Kingdom is a better option than independence, but not that things are perfect as they are. It is still unclear as to what exactly needs to be done and what will come next, but it’s clear that the country doesn’t wish to go on exactly as we have.

     Through this referendum the voices of the Scots were heard, and they need to continue to be heard just as loudly in future. The people who are still hung-up on the result need to be mature and respectful and move on from it; but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t continue to fight for change in other ways.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

7 Things About University

     So after three years of university, and now embarking on my fourth and final year, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things in my time here. As it’s round about the start of the new semester, I thought I’d try to share a bit of advice for new students. Please be aware though, I am by no means an expert and still need to learn to follow some of this advice myself!

1) Independence. You’re most likely living away from home for the first time, and having to do everything by yourself, with no parents around to clear up after you. University is a great way to get used to this, before facing the world of full-time work, and all it takes is a bit of practice. And there’ll always be someone around or at the other end of the phone to help when you shrink your clothes or burn your food. You’ll also be managing larger amounts of money than you’re used to, so don’t get carried away and spend your whole loan before paying the rent!

2) Classes. You do actually have to attend these if you want to get your degree. University is very different to high school, in that it’s not just your home life where you have to be more independent. You’re expected to do far more work at home for class, and you’ll be just another face in a lecture hall to many of your teachers. There are people you can ask for help though if you’re struggling, so don’t be afraid to seek them out.

3) Procrastination. The easiest of traps to fall into and we all do it in some form, be it clicking on a website or cleaning the whole flat. I still do it constantly, but it’s worth factoring in to your study time. If you know you’ll procrastinate while doing something, try starting it earlier to make sure it’s still done on time. Organisation comes easier to some people than others, but try to stay on top of your workload. Everyone works slightly differently, or at different times of day, so find whatever works best for you.

4) Societies. This is one aspect of university that I’ve most certainly failed in, having never really found one I enjoyed enough to stick with. You’ll probably sign up for a million mailing lists in Freshers’ Week and wind up attending very few of the actual events. However, it’s worth giving at least some of these a try, as you may find some new activity or interesting people that you end up loving. University is a great time to get involved in these sorts of things, when you have plenty of free time. There’s also plenty of opportunities to try new things outside of university too, just have a look at what’s available in your city.

5) Social Life. You will meet so many new people when you start university, and while some will become your best friend, many won’t. You’re never going to be friends with absolutely everyone, so try to figure out who the good eggs are. And while you’ll certainly lose touch with some people from school, try to stay in contact with those who are important to you. I now rarely see the people I was in 1st year halls with, but share a flat with a good friend from school. Also, when going out at night, remember to be responsible about it. There’ll be some great parties at university, but don’t go out too hard at the expense of your classes.

6) Do something different. University is a time when you’re free from both the rules of your parents and the constraints of a full-time job, so seize the opportunity to do whatever you want. Throw a wild party, dye your hair a funny colour, take a spontaneous holiday, stay up all night, blow your money on something stupid. Go a little crazy. There are so many new opportunities available to you, it’s mad not to give something a go!

7) Be realistic. Life is not a picnic in the park, and you will inevitably struggle sometimes. Try to stick with it though, and don’t throw in the towel after any old bad day. For some people, it may be that university really isn’t for them, which is entirely fair enough. But make sure you’ve exhausted all your other options though; there’s friends, parents, teachers and many others who can probably help you somehow. Remember why you came to university in the first place, and assess the bigger picture.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Outfit of the Day - Block Colours

     I've forsaken all patterns and designs today in favour of a simple outfit made of single colours. As previous readers may know, I'm a big fan of skater skirts and I love the colour of this one. It wasn't the easiest to pair with what's in my wardrobe though, but this grey top seems to work well, and this is also very loose and comfortable to wear. Black cardigans should be a staple of anyone's wardrobe, as they go with anything - my sister and I accidentally both bought this one, as it's so practical. The bracelet is a little more unusual for me, but I'm willing to try different things, and this was a gift that happens to match the skirt perfectly. I also recently got a new ear piercing, which you can see here, a little silver stud in my helix!

Top - Forever 21, Cardigan - New Look, Skirt - Forever 21
Boots - Even & Odd (Zalando), Tight - Marks & Spencer, Earrings - Market
Necklace & Bracelet - Gifts, Nail Polish - 'Rock n Roll' by Rimmel

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Room Tour - Edinburgh Student Flat

     I did a room tour post a few months ago, when I was still living in France, but I'm now back in the U.K. and living in a flat for this year, so I thought I'd share a few snapshots of my room here. For anyone who has seen my last room tour, a few items may be recognisable. I brought back my fairy lights, as I love that the lantern design looks really pretty even when they're turned off. Some of my smaller posters and the photos on my pin-board have also made it back into this room.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

My Travel Wish List

    The world is a huge place and I want to see so much of it. This post is a list of some of the key places I want to visit. I won't be going far for a while, as I'm in my final year of university now, but after graduation I hope to get out in the world some more. Some people travel perpetually, a nomadic way of life, but I know I’m not built for that. I think most of these places will be visited on specific trips, some longer than others. I just don’t know yet whether I’ll do it solo or on group tours, and whether to go as holidays or to work. I just want to see it all somehow!

     This is potentially going to be my next big trip, as I’m hoping to go with a friend next year. I really want to do a classic American road trip, from coast to coast, primarily through the Southern states. The route we’re looking at would run from L.A. to New York, passing through the likes of Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, Alabama, Orlando, the East Coast and Washington D.C. I want to learn more about American culture, particularly the Southern history and Native American tribes.

Central & South America
     This whole area of the world fascinates me, from the indigenous culture to the lush wilderness. I don’t know exactly where I want to go, but Machu Picchu, Rio, the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands are definitely on the list. While the cities seem pretty cool, it’s the mountains and rainforests and nature that I really want to see, as I’ve seen so many spectacular photos of places out there. I’d really love to stay in a jungle lodge and visit sanctuaries and swim on the beaches and in waterfalls. South America is one of the places I’ve considered teaching English in, so as to have a long time over there to see as much as possible, as I don’t think a short trip would do it justice.

Eastern Europe
    I went through much of Western Europe on my recent Contiki trip, and while there are a few cities I’d love to go back to (Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Venice and Amsterdam in particular) I’m now looking further East when thinking about future trips. The benefit of the U.K. is that it’s very easy to go away to European cities for just a couple of days at a time, rather than doing an extended trip. Places like Prague, Croatia, Turkey and Romania feature on my wish list for this part of the world.

Australia & New Zealand
     It makes most sense to me to combine these into one long trip, since these countries are as far away as you can possibly get. I want to visit the main tourist spots in Australia, like Ayers Rock & the Great Barrier Reef, but I’d also like to do some more research into what else there is to see out there. New Zealand seems to be the place for adrenaline junkies, which is certainly not me, but there’s also some spectacular scenery out there I’d like to see, and I think a stop at Hobbiton would also be a must! I’d also like to see some Polynesian island - Fiji springs to mind!

South East Asia
     I know several people who’ve been on trips to this part of the world, and all say it was amazing. It was never high on my list for a long time, but I’ve more recently starting coming around to the idea. The culture seems so different to that of Europe, and since I want to see nearly every other part of the world, I might as well go to them all! Places like Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia are on my list.

     There’s a few places in Northern Africa I’d like to visit, particularly Morocco and Egypt. Moroccan culture interests me and Egypt has such an ancient history, and of course, the Pyramids and Sphinx are the key landmarks. I don’t have any other specific African countries I want to go to, but I’d love to do a safari somewhere to see all the wildlife up close and firsthand.

     That’s it for now. Well, I say that’s it, it’s a pretty big list after all! There’s so much to see in this world, and I want to do as much as possible. Obviously, time and money are the biggest factors affecting my travel plans, but I’m always looking forward to the next possible adventure!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Outfit of the Day - Autumn Shades

     The seasons are most definitely changing now, so that means the wardrobe will as well. I have plenty of clothes that I wear year round, but others only make seasonal appearances. This is somewhat of a transitory outfit, as the colours certainly reflect the oncoming autumn, but the dress is still light and floaty, to hang on to summer a little longer (as well as being incredibly comfortable for days spent indoors). These boots are definitely more suited to colder weather too, with the colour being perfect for autumn, and cardigans are making more regular appearances as the days go on. I went for purple jewellery to highlight the patterns in the dress and tie it all together.

Dress - LaRedoute, Cardigan - LaRedoute, Boots - New Look
Tights - Marks & Spencer, Necklace & Earrings - Gifts
Ring - Unknown, Nail Polish - 'New Romantic' by Rimmel

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Take A Moment And Breathe

     Life isn’t easy; it’s complicated and messy and difficult and confusing. There’s so much to get a handle on, and often the things we really want to do get pushed aside because of the things we have to do. We struggle to balance work and studies and friends and relationships, and somewhere try to squeeze our hobbies and free time into already hectic schedules. It can all become incredibly overwhelming and unbearable.
     So it’s important that every now and then, we all just take a step back and breathe for a moment. Just breathe and relax, and remind yourself of what’s really important in life. Don’t get bogged down in the silly things that, ultimately, won’t matter. Take a minute to re-assess and re-prioritise. Don't be afraid to let go of some things.

     It can be very easy to argue that you don’t even have the time to do this, but it’s so important that you do, for the sake of your mental wellbeing. There’s no point in doing and having it all if you’re too exhausted and stressed to really enjoy it. I often feel guilty about rest days, as there’s so many things out there to do and see, that I feel like I’m wasting my time. But it’s impossible to keep going at full throttle all the time.

     So just give yourself one day every now and then, to unwind. Have a long lie, go for a walk, watch a film, take a bath; whatever you need to do in order to just switch off for a while. Shut off from the outside world for a while. Then, come back to the tough stuff with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Take it one task at a time and keep reminding yourself of what the most important things are.

     Yes, life is short and we should always try to make the most of the time we have. But what’s the use in filling every second of every day if it leaves you feeling too tired and worn out to actually enjoy all the things you’re doing? Don’t feel bad for pausing to actually take care of yourself for a little while. So, whenever life gets too hard again, just stop for a moment and breathe.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Farewell to Summer

     When did September get here? Yes, try as we might to hold on to it, summer is gone. The air has a chill to it and the leaves have begun to fall from the trees and the sun’s appearances, while rare in Scotland to begin with, are getting even less frequent. The floaty dresses and shorts are being swapped for cardigans and thick tights. I also see summer as being over since I have now finished my summer job and am preparing to start back at university in the coming weeks. These photos are just a few snapshots from the past months.

     The summer seems to have passed by very quickly in some ways, but slower in others. I started it this year with my European trip back in June, which was a whirlwind three weeks of travel, sight-seeing and partying with some great people. It will always be a trip that stands out in my memories, but seems like such a long time ago already. It was a great way to kick off my summer, after a pretty tough year abroad for me, but it meant that the fun part was over at the beginning.

     The rest of my time, July and August, were spent working at a children’s English language summer school. Having done it last year, I should have known what I was getting myself in for, but I’ve finished feeling absolutely shattered in every way. It is very hard work when children are involved, which others often underestimate. It also takes over my whole life, as I live on-site which is why I feel as though I missed out on summer a bit, and I now have very little respite before university starts again, since my holiday was at the start of summer. I do enjoy the job for the most part though, as I can have great fun with the kids and come away with some funny stories about them all. I also get on so well with the other staff, some of whom were new, but others who I worked with last year and haven’t seen since, so it was great to spend time with them again.

     I’m not too sad about leaving summer behind now though, as I did make plenty of good memories, both while travelling and working, and now I’m ready to take a break from both and get back to a bit of normality. And while I don’t mind the warmer weather, I’ve never been much of a sun child, and autumn is one of my favourite seasons. I’m looking forward to hot drinks and my warmer wardrobe and evenings spent indoors watching the rain and the colours of the leaves changing. And before you know it, we’ll be at Christmas time again!

     The changing seasons reminds us that time is always marching onwards, whether we like it or not. Nothing lasts forever, so rather than mourn summer’s passing, we should enjoy it while it lasts, and keep hold of these memories. Marking time like this also allows us to reflect on what we’ve done with our lives and make decisions about what comes next. We only get so much time on this planet, and we have to make the most of it.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Outfit of the Day - Ready, Set, Ceilidh

     This was my outfit of choice for a friend's 21st birthday ceilidh. Ceilidhs are fast and energetic, so the number one priority is wearing something that's easy to move in. I thought this dress was light and playful enough for the dancing, while still being formal enough for such an important birthday. I kept the jewellery minimal, since the dress has such pretty lace detailing, and flat shoes are a must for me at ceilidhs - there's no way I can do them in heels! I did have a bag and jacket with me too, but they spent most of the evening on a chair.

Dress - New Look, Shoes - H&M, Earrings - Unknown
Necklace & Ring - Market
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