June Favourites

So much for the end of exams meaning a slow descent into summer relaxation.. it feels like June has flashed past my eyes in a blink and has held host to one of the most hectic months of my life- and it doesn’t stop here. From partying on the sunny beaches of Spain (which you can read about here) to attempted skydiving (we couldn’t go up because it was too cloudy ugh) and what seems like endless university open days, June has been exhausting in the best possible way.

As I’m sure you’ll have figured out by now, I can’t last a day without delving into a good book, and holidays are absolute prime reading time in my opinion. Spain was no exception and my holiday read (well, one of the four) was a recommendation from a friend- More Than This by Patrick Ness. Without giving too much of the plot away, the novel follows the story of teenager Seth who drowns and wakes up alone in his childhood town, which he finds completely abandoned. I am terrible at describing books without revealing the whole story, but let’s just say there’s a bit of sci-fi, a bit of romance, but all done in a very atypical and totally not cliché manner. Go read, now.

Even though the sun has finally graced us with her presence, this hasn’t stopped me from dragging my laptop outside to watch the next episode of my new obsession.. yes you guessed it, it’s Game of Thrones. If you read my last monthly favourites, you’ll know that I’ve been wanting to start this show for yonks but had to painfully restrain myself until the end of exams.. but now that they’re over I have definitely grasped the opportunity with both hands, managing to get through 23 hour-long episodes in a couple of weeks. It’s totally not my usual kind of thing and I only decided to watch it after not-so-gentle coaxing by a certain obsessed friend of mine, but I totally love her for it. One tip, I wouldn’t suggest watching it with your parents.

Whilst watching said tv show or reading said book, I’ve been snacking on the same things pretty much every day this month- Penn State Original Sea Salt Pretzels, fresh raspberries and orange and cranberry juice.. absolute heaven for the hot weather, nothing more to say. And what music is playing in the background, you may ask. Well, the answer to that one is easy. Recently I’ve fallen in love with acoustic covers, and I found this one a few weeks ago, fell head-over-heels in love with it and haven’t taken it off repeat since. It’s a beautiful version of one of my favourite songs- Kids by MGMT- that is deconstructed and remolded beautifully by US band Lady Danville (listen to it here) and is absolutely perfect for summer.

In terms of the whole beauty thing, I am seriously loving the Revlon ColourBurst Matte Balms. I have the colour Audacious which is a pretty scary looking coraly-orange, but is just the most incredibly vibrant and gorgeous summer shade and I wore it to death when I was on holiday. Although being a matte balm, meaning they have the tendency to show up any flaws on your lips (bit of an issue for those with dry lips like me), they are actually really moisturising compared to others of the same type. I would still definitely recommend using a lip scrub first though.. coincidentally I am planning on writing a post in the next couple of days for my favourite homemade scrub recipe so that’s a good place to start (nice subtle self-promo there Beckie).

Now that I’ve got 3 weeks off work for various things, I can actually paint my nails, which may sound like a small thing but when you work in a kitchen three times a week, it’s bliss not having to use up gallons of nail varnish remover on perfectly good, day-old nails. What a first world problem. For perfect summer shades, the Barry M Gelly Nails are definitely the place to go, with such a fab shade range and a salon-looking finish. I’ve got the colours Blueberry, Almond and Papaya, and there’s definitely quite a few more I have my eye on!

As I mentioned earlier, the month of June has been completely packed with university open days, with the most recent being the University of Leeds last Friday. Now, I’ve only ever been ‘up north’ twice in my life and never to Leeds, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.. but I was most definitely pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure if having a city as a favourite is allowed but it was just too beautiful to not give a mention to, with the university itself comprising of endless beautiful red brick buildings that are overwhelmingly reminiscent of the typical American colleges that you see in films. Now it’s just the small matter of getting the three A’s that they’re asking for..

So I think that’s it- I could be here for hours rambling about my favourite things but I guess this is just a snapshot of what I’ve been loving this month.. if you can call 800 words a snapshot that is. Now I should probably mention before I post this that for ten days starting from Tuesday I will be at a summer school at Eton College which is pretty intensive, so I’ll say now that it’s unlikely I will find time to post next week! Never fear though, I’m sure I’ll hit you with my thoughts on the experience, no holds barred, as soon as I return. Try to contain your excitement.

Advertisements

Summer Solstice

Living in Wiltshire, within half an hour’s drive of both Stonehenge and Avebury, summer solstice is something that is pretty widely celebrated. But somehow until this year I’ve managed to miss it for some reason or other. However, 4am Saturday morning found me sat on a bank with Avebury stone circle to one side of me, and the incredibly beautiful rising sun on the other, surrounded by thousands of like-minded individuals fueled up on sleep deprivation and excessive amounts of scrumpy.

With record numbers of visitors thanks to the beautiful weather and the fact it fell on a weekend, the only way to describe the evening was magical. Fire-breathing and thunderous drumming that cut through the pitch black skies and midnight hush constructed an idyllic setting for talking to hundreds of people from all walks of life and dancing ’til dawn.

Even though there was a big police presence, I never once saw even the slightest bit of violent behavior.. the atmosphere was so laid-back and happy, with everyone united in the easily perceptible common purpose that was simply to have a good time. Stonehenge has been criticised for becoming increasingly commercialised over the years and losing its original magic, and I guess that’s probably inevitable, but there was certainly none of that apparent where we were. People told us to choose Avebury hands down, and boy were they right.

And Finally It’s Over

Yes, I’m talking about the seemingly never-ending exam season that everyone else seems to have finished weeks ago. As of Thursday, I’m free of exams for another year and it’s the best feeling in the world! As much as it sucks that I am already back at school and starting my A2 courses, I’m basically pretending it’s already the summer and this one is going to be a good ‘un- hectic but incredible.

For me, and I’m sure for a lot of others, summer is exciting not just for the warmer weather and lack of school, but for the huge expanse of free time that you can fill with exciting experiences. I’m the kind of person that is easily bored by routine and monotony in my life, and summer is the perfect time to be completely free to eradicate this… even if my tendency to love my bed and the internet too much can often lead to me not sufficiently appreciating it!

Summer is almost like another New Year, with my list-loving self writing resolutions about what I am determined to achieve by the time September rolls back around. As I’m sure you may have already guessed, this- as resolutions notoriously do- often fails to actually translate into reality and I’m left spending two weeks solid watching all 62 episodes of Breaking Bad (also known as my post-GCSE summer). I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said this previously; but this year is going to be different.

A lot of my list includes things from my bucket list, but I know that  a lot of these aren’t really realistic at  this point in time. However, I do have a few things on  the cards; from skydiving to possible wing-walking and bungee jumping, as well as holidays and Reading Festival, it should be a good summer. On top of that, I’ve managed to somehow get into a two week summer school at Eton College to study English at the start of July, which I am excessively excited about, and also have work experience at a big PR company in London.

Just to clarify, I’m not trying to show off here about all the great things I’m getting to do this summer- almost everything on there is being paid for by myself with money I’ve saved up over the past two years from my job. There’s nothing more important to me than to experience as much as is possible and to miss as little of the world as I am physically capable of. I’m not going to lie, I have been so inspired by people like Louis Cole, who is one of my favourite youtubers of all time, and who has the most incredibly open outlook on life and seems to get so much out of it in return (he’s buying a plane to turn into a house for christ’s sake). I know a lot of people really won’t care about this, and are perfectly happy to spend their lives solely in contact with the ordinary, but annoyingly (for both my brain and my bank balance) I just can’t be content like that.

 

Escape To The Sun

I’m hoping from the title and photos you can already figure out what my inevitable excuse for not posting when I was supposed to is. I arrived home from Spain on midnight on Monday and was at a uni open day all day yesterday, and being my usual disorganised self, I didn’t make time to write before I left or schedule a post for while I was away.. oops. Either way, I’m back home for the busiest couple of months in a long time and I am giddily excited (all in good time, people).

Although I don’t actually have my last exam until tomorrow, Spain was an amazing chance to completely and utterly unwind on a deserted beach in the baking sun by day, and accompanied by live music and mojitos by night. For a typically ghostly-skinned redhead like myself, the sun is as much a foe as a friend and seems to completely disregard the effort I go to in order to slather every inch of exposed skin in sun cream. Nevertheless, the warm weather was a perfect remedy to all the exam stress that has been building up over the last few months, seeing as the UK has unsurprisingly failed to provide us with more than a couple of days of bare-legs weather.

We stayed in a town by the sea about an hour from Barcelona called Calella (a large part of the trip was spent eavesdropping on people to try and find out how to pronounce it correctly- turns out it’s cal-ey-a for anyone wondering). Although this kind of touristy town is completely unlike the usual kind of holiday we opt for- we’re normally the cute villa in the middle of nowhere types- there was actually a festival on that my parents wanted to go to, and I’m never one to say no to live music! From impromptu jam sessions to all night beach parties, I can honestly say I had the best time.

Holidays like that make me appreciate so much the fact that I get to go to beautiful places and experience incredible things; I honestly believe that travel is one of the most enriching and fulfilling things a person can do with their life. The excitement of exploring somewhere completely new is second to nothing, whether that just be visiting a new town near you or travelling round the world.

I must say I do love being back to sleeping in my own bed though…

May Favourites

So it’s that time again where I wonder at how fast time is going, complain about the British weather’s apparent disregard to this, and ramble about the things I’ve been loving recently. This month has been centred around the dreaded exams and not a lot else, so anything that has acted as a form of distraction or relaxation has been greatly appreciated.

My primary source of procrastination is, of course, a good book. This last week I have started reading Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and it’s just one of those books that immediately grips you; it may be confusing but the characters manage to make a seemingly boring story line so much more complex and intriguing. I’m awful at describing books but long story short (I’m going to ignore that perfect pun opportunity), I really like it and know it won’t be long until I finish it, and will probably end up writing a full review if I can think of some more literary-related adjectives. I find Virginia Woolf such an interesting woman and reading her work really starts to give you an insight into why she was such a leading figure and Mrs Dalloway is definitely one of those books that everyone should read.

I am one of those people that can’t revise without music playing in the background, and this month I’ve been loving a whole load of summery indie pop/rock kind of songs that can’t help but put a smile on your face. I have my summer playlist on Spotify including songs from the likes of Crystal Fighters, Young The Giant and The Mowgli’s, but probably my newest and biggest obsession is New Politics. Their song ‘Harlem’ is without a doubt one of my songs of the summer that gets me shamelessly dancing around my AS Politics notes and you can listen to it here.

I have to be honest and say that I don’t have a TV favourite this month at all as I’ve been trying my best to actually do the revision thing and I know that as soon as a start a new series there is no way of preventing myself from watching twenty episodes a day. I have so many lined up to watch as soon as my exams are over (next week, praise the lord)- the first being Game of Thrones, so that might well end up making it’s way into my June favourites.

In terms of films, I have to give a mention to one of my favourite films that is probably the biggest teenage white girl cliché ever, but it’s just one of those movies I can watch over and over and it makes me laugh and cry every time. Perks is a beautiful book and the film really does it justice as far as it can, making a perfect post-exam watch. Plus it has two of my favourite actors, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, so what’s not to love?

On to beauty, and the Soap & Glory Peaches and Clean Deep Cleansing Milk has been my savior for bad skin reversal; since using this my face has got a whole lot clearer and it’s definitely down to this. I never really hear people talking abut this particular product in the beauty world, but for me it’s just perfect and has the most gorgeous smell.. and not to forget their ever-adorable packaging! Sticking to the skincare theme, my super dry skin has completely turned around this month thanks to the wonderful shop assistant in The Body Shop who spent a long time trying to find the perfect product for my skin, and eventually settled on the Aloe Soothing Day Cream. If a moisturiser could be described as thirst-quenching, this would be the one. As is typical when coming into summer, I’ve been loving using salt spray for that kind of beachy I-just-woke-up-this-fabulous look, and this month I’ve especially been liking the L’Oreal Matt & Messy Shine-free Salt Spray. It’s super cheap, super volumising, and just an all-round summer essential for me.

I’m sure most people already know about Graze boxes- but for those that don’t, they are small boxes that you can order one-off or regularly that are filled with delicious and healthy snacks that are literally heaven to snackers like me. Now, I know that these are pretty expensive for what they are which is why I sadly stopped my regular box, but through the exam period I’ve found myself craving these delicious treats and keep ordering boxes.. oops. My favourites of what I’ve tried so far have to be the black pepper popcorn and the boston baguettes.

Last but not least, my final two favourites are places that I’ve been recently with my dad, step-mum and half-brother and sister who are four and the most adorable yet patience-testing creatures known to man. With the nice weather (ish) we’ve been to both Westonbirt Arboretum and Cotswold Wildlife Park in the past few weeks, both of which are beautiful places to get outside with the family. I find that especially when I have exams, I spend way too much time indoors and it’s incredible what a few hours of fresh air can do for not only your physical well-being, but also your motivation and general mental state. And that’s coming from someone who generally prefers the company of YouTube videos to venturing into the outernet.