Sun, Sea and Shamu

Feet up, radio on, sun shining.. Stuck in a stuffy car for around an hour and a half, for the second time today. But bloody hell was it worth it.

Today we’ve been to St Pete beach at St Petesburg. White sand, Blue Sky, Sea like a bath… you get my drift. And since my last post, 3 days ago, we haven’t stopped so it has been really nice to relax today and get a little more burnt.

Over the past few days we’ve been back to Universal as we had an early entry pass to the park so that we could go on the Harry Potter ride without having to queue. It was a moving simulator ride, with effects so powerful that it takes complete control of your senses and was, hands down, my favourite ride I’ve been on so far.

We’ve also been to Seaworld to watch the Sea-Lion and Killer Whale show, which was breath-taking. Although I had been told beforehand that a few years ago, Shamu, the oldest killer whale had eaten one of the trainers during training. So I was a little concerned at how “mind blowing” the show was going to be.

20130620-202448.jpg

Yesterday we went to Epcot at Disney World for the morning but we spent most of the day at Animal Kingdom mainly because Kate and Colin knew how desperate I was to see some Oodays (thats the noise elephants make, obviously). And it was my favourite day, ever, especially the African Safari.

As crazy as I am about animals and zoo’s, I often leave a little upset at the way the animals are forced to live. But what I loved about Animal Kingdom was how big and ‘natural’ their habitats have been made, allowing them to live happily.

20130620-203749.jpg

Over the past few days we’ve been to a couple of shopping malls where I brought all my family a present. Even though my parents order me not to bring anything back for them, I have to. I love buying them presents. Plus, I owe it to them.

It’s been really weird not being home for Fathers Day today, but I sent him a soppy text in which he replied “what do you want?”. Little Daddy’s girl aren’t I.

The weather here is more up and down than me once a month. I started writing this post with the windows down, dazed by the heat and the sunlight. And within 10 minutes of typing, the windows are now shut and the rain is so heavy that the few cars I can see ahead of us are all travelling less than 10mph with their hazard lights on.

If you don’t believe me, these two photos below were taken within 20 minutes of each other.

Thank you for reading xxxxx

20130620-210009.jpg

20130620-205737.jpg

Advertisements

Good morning America

Really struggling to find time to blog at the moment, but today I set my alarm an hour earlier than I needed so that I could write a post on yesterday, which was easily one of the best days of my life.

I should probably start off by saying I’m not in England, I am in fact laying in an air conditioned room, lit by nothing but the scorching sunshine, still a few hours before my breakfast, whilst everyone in the UK would be digging into their Lunch, in Orlando, America.

Not only is Lewis a dream to be with but his parents, Kate and Colin, are two of the most generous people in the world. For Lewis’ 21st his parents said they’d take him to Florida, as it’s his favourite place in the world and that they wanted me to go with them. So here I am, nursing sunburn, after just one full day In America.

Yesterday was our first day and after waking up at 7am, partly because my body clock has no idea what’s going on, but also because I was too excited to sleep again, we headed to Denny’s. Denny’s as Colin always says is “The best place to go for breakfast because all the police go there”. Although there were no policeman parked outside and I struggled to fit through the door on the way out, I had one of the best breakfasts ever.

Looking at the menu and around at all the Americas, I realised that a full English at least double the size we normally eat at home, alongside a side of 4 pancakes drowned in butter cream and maple syrup is ‘your average breakfast’.

So after a few minutes deliberating I decided to give the American way of life a go, as I should. I ordered what were called ‘Puppies’, balls of pancake batter, coated in sugar and cinamon, deep fried and, of course, swimming in maple syrup. And my gosh, take me back. (I also had a bacon English muffin, because a breakfast isn’t breakfast without a bit of bacon).

We then planned on popping to Universal, “for just a few rides”. Within minutes of arriving that all changed. Kate and Colin decided to treat us all to get unlimited fast pass on every ride at both parks, I felt so bad and guilty. But there was no time to, we had just over 9 hours, till the park closed, to go absolutely crazy. And so we did.

Im not going to sit here and describe every ride because we’ll be here for days, but my favourite three were The Simpsons, Hulk and Popeye and Bulto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. Regrettably we begun on Hulk, less than an hour after I’d demolished my breakfast. But it was amazing. Your typical fast, loop-de-loop, upside down ride.

We did Popeye’s ride about midday, meaning that around 8 hours later, when we left the park, we were only slightly damp. This ride is when ten people sit In a circle facing inwards, and ride down the rapids, it was so exciting as you had no idea how soaked you were going to get round the next corner. Plus, Colin clearly sat in the daring seat and came off the ride absolutely drenched, haha.

The Simpsons is more of a 4D simulator ride, and its absolutely incredible. Made me tummy go, like it does on a normal roller coaster, even though I was barely moving.

We then watched the Cinematic experience when the park closed which involved water falling, creating patterns and images, celebrating 100 years of Universal. Once this had finished, we left the park with only two parks unridden, and within minutes of my head touching the pillow I was fast asleep.

Yesterday was an absolutely amazing day, and I can’t wait to go back there. I am an extremely lucky girl and still have 13 days of this!

Speak soon xxxxxx

20130613-131633.jpg

My little Bubble

Call me crazy, but when I typed ‘What do you call someone who loves their pet more than anything else in the world’ into Google I expected to find at least one word that would fill the  definition. Perhaps I didn’t word it correctly? Or maybe I do love my cat a little bit too much?

But lets be honest, who doesn’t want a best friend, of almost 15 years, who never argues with you, never moans, always listens and is always there for a cuddle?

A week before my 5th birthday in 1998, my parents took me to the RSPCA rescue centre where I was allowed to pick a kitten to take home. We were told there were only two kittens available and my choice was between, as my mum described, “one beautiful grey fluffy kitten, who wouldn’t stop licking me and asking for cuddles”, and “one tabby, angry cat, who kept hissing at us and wouldn’t even come over to say hello”. So I obviously picked the latter.

I named him Bubble, and here we are 14 years, and 364 days later, the best of friends. Bubble doesn’t really like people, or attention, unless it’s from me. And I know that’s a very conceited statement but if you don’t believe me, pop over for an afternoon and I’ll be very happy to prove it to you.

Bubble will greet me at the door and follow me wherever I go, whether it be to make my dinner or watch me have a wee. Obviously when he was younger he had a lot better things to do, pimping. But now he’s a bit of a granddad, would rather a night in front of the tele than chasing pussy.

Obviously being at University has proved difficult and I always worry that one day, because of his age, I’ll come home and he won’t remember who I am. But he continues to prove me wrong.

I could sit here for hours sharing my love for bubble, but I’m finding It’s hard to write about him without sounding like an absolute freak. Plus Lewis will get jealous if I write more about my cat than I wrote about him.

Tomorrow Bubble is 15, and I would loose an arm and a leg for him to live forever.

Image

A good photo keeps a moment from running away

Many, many years ago the only way you could remember a moment was by memory. Years after that, when men paired top hats with pipes, and women donned corsets there was ‘film photography’ that, held up to the light, would show small black and white photographs often alongside blurs and exposure problems. Today we have the ability to snap, save and amend as many photos as we desire… And then leave it on our iPhones to never be seen again.

 Don’t get me wrong, technology has done wonders to our world, but very few nowadays experience that feeling of flicking through a photograph album, rewinding the memories and reliving the emotional connection.

 On the 7th of May I decided to spend my money on something other than Topshop and Nando’s, I ordered 96 photo prints from Printstagram.

 Stating the obvious, Printstagram works alongside instagram, allowing the customer to choose from a variety of ways to print out their very own photographs. Whether you want your photographs printed onto a calendar, a poster, into a book, a memory box, framed or simply into square mini prints then you can. It is a new company and as their e-mail stated, “they really appreciate the support”.

 I chose to have mine developed simply into square prints, so that I have the option to frame them, put them into an album or stick onto my bedroom wall.

 Although the e-mail stated that they should arrive within 4-10 days, I was pleasantly surprised with them delivered to my door within 3.

 The prints were wrapped up so sweetly, and printed in such fine quality on a lustre soft white card. As soon as I got them out I wanted to put them back into the packaging, as they were so beautiful I didn’t want to touch them until I’d decided what to do with them.

I’ve put a photo below of me holding one of my prints so you can get an idea of the size.

IMG_3640

 24 prints cost $12 meaning that in total I spent $48, which is £31. At first I obviously hesitated as, for a student, this is a couple of nights out, and Prinstagram is a fairly new company with mixed reviews on other blogs. But if you haven’t already guessed, they were worth every single penny, and once I have uploaded another 24 photos onto instagram that I want to print I’m heading right back.

So whether you’re revising, catching up on towie or chilling out, head over to Printstagram now, you won’t regret it. Plus, you get a free sticker.

IMG_3636

IMG_3638

Time flies, when you’re tipsy

I’m sat on a tiny uncomfortable sofa, in a horribly located, smelly house, whilst I’m hungover and hungry, and this is how I’ve spent my last year. And hands down, I have had the best year of my life.

For my second year at University I’ve lived with three of my best friends, Cameron, Chris and also my boyfriend, Lewis. Ignoring the constant talk of football, sound of Fifa related cupboard punching and the smell of corned beef, I couldn’t have picked three better people to live with.

 Today is my last day and night here, and I’m about to meet mine and Lewis’ parents for a drink before our pub dinner this evening. But beforehand I have to say goodbye to Cam, who I’m going to miss a huge amount. Not going to say anything else nice about him incase he reads this and gets even more cocky… if that’s even possible.

 I’ve been very lucky at University, making a lot of very special friends, and a few who I know will be my best friends for life. It’s quite weird really, there are people I’ve know all my life but will never have the same friendship that I have with a few people here. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent the past 2 years constantly around them, through the best and worst times. They’ve seen me tipsy, crying because I miss home, moody because it’s that time of the month and absolutely elated because my crispy seaweed has arrived.

 I’ve also been lucky enough to meet someone extra special to me at University, Lewis Everett. I don’t want to let you in on too much because I believe relationships should be kept between the two of you, but we’re both very lucky to have met each other. Although living together at University has proved difficult sometimes it has also helped to make some of the best memories of my life. And I know University will be one of many special memories.

 It’s ridiculous how fast these past two years have flown by, it’s a bit scary really. And now I’m welling up a little because, even though I’m happy to go home for summer, I’m sad to leave this life again.

 But I’m back in September for my past year. Probably sensible to give the liver a break anyway…

Image

And I can breathe again

 

“What course do you study at University?”, “Fashion Studies”, “Oh, so you spend 3 years colouring in?”. Fantastic.

I chose to pursue a degree in Fashion studies because I’ve always preferred working practically over academically, have a creative flare and a passion for fashion. Surprisingly enough it isn’t because it was the only course my grades allowed me to study and that they offer a £50 Topshop giftcard to whoever passes. In fact I left High school and Sixth form with 12 A-C GCSE’s and 1 A and 2 B’s at A Level resulting in enough UCAS points to have got on most of the courses at this University.

As a course, BA Fashion studies students are given freedom to work and no limits within what they design, whether it be a simple cotton shift dress, or a clowns outfit made from cellotape and pencil sharpening’s.  But if I want to walk away with at least a pass, there is absolutely no freedom within the amount of work needed to complete.

It grinds my gears when people say that Fashion is a cop out and University is just 3 years of drinking and sleeping. I’m not one to determine what other courses are like, but for me the last 2 years have been the hardest years of my life, and I have never put so much effort into something.

After a large number of all-nighters, tears and tantrums I’ve just ended my second year by handing in 20 sketchbooks/portfolios, over 10,000 words of essays and 4 final garments. And over this summer, I will have all of my Norfolk incestuous toes and fingers crossed, hoping that my hard work pays off when I receive my results, and that I can put to rest the upsetting myth, that us fashionista’s are brainless.

I hope that you’ll have yours crossed too

Image-2

Honey, What happened to the kids?

When I was in Primary School wearing pink would make me a “Townie”, all boys smelt and I never ever wanted to grow boobs. Today I’m walking down the aisle’s in supermarkets seeing padded bras for age 6+, scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed to see 15 year olds flaunting their baby scans and teenage girls wearing more makeup that your average Geordie on a night out.

Call me traditional, but I want my daughter to be dressed in cute, pretty clothing, appropriate for the weather, occasion, and more importantly, their age. But maybe I’m wrong in thinking that will be easy in the world we live in today.

“It’s funny how a man only thinks about the… You got a real big heart, but I’m looking at your… You got real big brains, but I’m looking at your… Girl, there ain’t no pain in me looking at your…”

These degrading, provocative lyrics were teamed with raunchy dance moves, a lack of clothing and a far from natural amount of make-up on the Pussy Cat dolls track, Beep. But as a single that reached 2nd in the UK chart and was part of the track list on two of the most popular CD’s sold to teenage girls, ‘Pop Party’ and ‘Now that’s what I call music 63’, was there any way of getting away from it with technology dependent generation?

Nicole Shirt-slinger, the lead singer of the Pussycat dolls, is just one of too many wrongly idolized women. The extent of editing and makeup that is pursued on her appearance, and most other female celebrities in the spot light, is so idealized that most girls can’t attain it. And call me crazy, but I feel Nicole looks so much better without make up on. Why is it that I had to go out of my way to find a picture of her ‘au’naturale’, but her fictitious face is flaunted everywhere I look.

Image

In the past month I’ve seen 3 girls on my Facebook, younger than 18, uploading photographs of their “modeling shoot”. These weren’t the kind of photo’s you’d frame and give to your grandparents to display on their mantle-piece. They were the kind you’d see in those top-shelf magazines, that would please the lovely gentleman you see, that drive the white vans.

Young girls shouldn’t be posed up against poles, enhancing their pre-pubescent chests, caked in collection 2000 makeup, wearing revealing garments which display deceitful slogans. But if it’s available and publicized everywhere, how do we stop it?

The problem with the fashion available for young girls today is that it’s allowing them to advertise themselves without even realising it. Promoting the idea that women and girls are being viewed, treated, portrayed and groomed as sexual objects.

I’ve seen t-shirts for girls aged 4+ bearing the slogan “Future WAG” and 3.5 inch high heels being sold in New Look, starting at size one- the size of an average 8 year old. Not only is this dressing young girls like sexually available women, it isn’t ideal for growing feet.

In addition I noticed that the shorts were getting shorter, the shirts were getting tighter and the slogans were getting more suggestive. It seems that today’s young girl doesn’t want to own a plastic Barbie doll, instead she wants to be one.

So in a generation where teenage girls are hidden behind a mask of make up, an armor of Paul’s Boutique and are the mother to a child instead of a furby, is there any chance of getting our little angels back?

Let me leave you with this genuine photograph of just one of the 100,000 American children, under the age of 12, which take part in U.S child beauty patents.

highglitttt

Lilies are everlasting

When you get given a bunch of flowers they often last a few weeks before they start to wither. The most beautiful flower I’ve ever been given lasted for 96 years. She was called Lily Whiting, and she was my Great Granny.

Just like the flower, Lily was beautiful, strong and pure. At a young age she followed her heart and moved to Wales where she met Frank, the love of her life. There she pursued her dreams of teaching and Frank continued to work on the farm. They then married, and had 3 children. Lily was a Mother, a Granny, but unfortunately also became a widow. But she never gave up. The love she had for her family kept her and her heart strong and on August 2nd 1993 became a Great Granny, but to me, my ‘Gar’.

429575_10151376323607535_1372948340_n

From what my mum tells me, and the tens of photo’s I’ve seen, in my early years she treated me like her own. And as the years went on nothing changed. She always had time for me, was always interested to hear my stories, always listened, and always put everyone else first.

I’ve never felt so much love around me on Valentines day than I did this year. 14th February 2013 was the day of Franks birthday, the day we had to say goodbye but the day two lovers were reunited. Gar was against funerals, she always said she’d “rather celebrate a life than mourn over it”. As a result we arranged a small, beautiful ceremony filled with only family. And just as I thought I had no tears left the vicar says something really special:

“Lily was always so caring, and had a special love for all of her Grandchildren, and loved spending time with them. After Christmas dinner, about 15 years ago, no one could find Lily, or her eldest great grandchild, Zoe. They spend a while searching the house, and the garden, but presumed they must have gone out for a walk. A little while later they saw movement inside Zoe’s new pop up tent she got for christmas and her and Lily were both curled up inside it having an after dinner nap”.

Always loved, never forgotten xxx

843887_10151279572637535_1172797078_o-1

If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving definitely isn’t for you

Unfortunately for me, 5 of the most important people in my life live on the other side of the world. My Auntie Mary-Anne, Uncle Shaun and cousins, Lachlan, Larly and Ana live in Grafton in New South Wales and I don’t go a day without wishing I could see them. But them living there does give me and my family the perfect excuse to visit Australia.

My last visit was with my family for 5 weeks throughout December 2010 and January 2011. And whilst I was there I decided to do the highest sky dive in Australia, at 14,000ft landing on the beach.

When my Dad first asked me I didn’t really give the idea much thought and accepted the invitation with alacrity. It wasn’t until the phone had been hung up and the date was confirmed that I realised what I’d just put myself in for.

Straight away I open up my laptop and within seconds of hitting ‘search’ Google tells me that around 35 people a year die of parachute fails in America alone. Suddenly my mind starts wandering…

A few sleepless nights later, I’m there, signing forms to say that I wouldn’t sue the company if I were injured and that nobody in my family could sue them if I died.

When I was up in the plane it was a rollercoaster of emotions. Being a very impatient individual the boredom of waiting around till we were high enough to jump was leering, but was quickly interrupted by frissons of thrill, nerves and straight to the point,“am I going to die?”.

As you can imagine looking out of the window to try and distract my thoughts didn’t help either. About 90% of what I could see was the ocean and when you’re hovering about 3 miles above it, aware that within a few minutes you’re going to be free falling towards it, the beautiful, serene and halcyon era that the ocean usually creates doesn’t seem to be there anymore… all I could see were sharks.

Sitting on the edge of the plane I looked down, swallowed hard and thought to myself ‘It must be alright, thousands of people of done it before’, and then… ‘But this time it’s me- that’s the difference!.’ And I’m out…

Freefalling for 60 seconds, relying on some guy you’ve just met an hour ago to pull the parachute and save your life is unexplainable. But one thing I can tell you is that the 60 seconds I spent freefalling from a plane, over the Australian ocean, with a stomach full of butterflies and the idea that the rest of my family were either watching me from the plane or experiencing it too were the 60 best seconds of my life. And unless I got to do it all over again, strapped to Juan Mata, I don’t think I could ever create a minute of my life to come anywhere near.

No matter how grandiloquent I am with my choice of words, the experience of Skydiving really is inexpressible. I feel like I’m trying to paint you a picture of a rainbow with only black and white paint.

So if you’re reading this whilst sitting on the fence about a decision to sky dive, I dare you, you won’t regret it.

SKYDIVE

Don’t wear skinny jeans to a Chinese buffet

After rolling out of bed at 1pm, I rounded up the troops and then drove to Norwich with Rosie, Toby and my boyfriend, Lewis. We began by going to Hollywood bowl, where I got absolutely destroyed and came a shameful last place. We then took it to the pool table where I, once again, got destroyed… Don’t be rude.

We then made a trip to Riverbank Chinese where I paid £13.99 for an ‘all you can eat’ buffet, yet my mind, the same one that had got me in Riverbank in the first place, convinced me that buying a coke to accompany my buffet would be a waste of money. So whilst I stand at the bar waiting for my tap water I notice a clipboard with the daily pay for each worker and at £6.20 an hour it makes me think. My £13.99 alone had paid for both of the waitresses working during the hour I was there. Where was the money of the other 70 odd diners going? Yet this thought was soon pushed to the side when I made my way back to the table, via 100+ Chinese dishes.

Whilst I tucked into what turned out to be an extremely mediocre, Chinese buffet, eaten from cold plates, surrounded by a lot of over excited, screaming teenagers, about to attend an under 18’s night at Wonderland, I still felt extremely satisfied.

Perhaps it was because I was a student enjoying a break from having to cook and wash up, or maybe it was the freedom I had to eat as much of whatever I liked.

Yet around 6 platefuls each later, flies being unzipped and both siblings taking a trip the toilet to “make some more space”, we couldn’t eat anymore. As usual, the system had beaten us and some very sneaky businessman’s wallet had just got a little heavier. And it’s never until after the meal, when I’m leaving the restaurant, that I decide to weigh up the pros and cons…

Realistically buffets aren’t ‘eat as much as you want’, they’re ‘eat as much as you can’. And for a 19 year old female, the size of an 11 year old, with eyes too big for her stomach, I’m just the sort of victim they want walking through their door.

To us we see a service offering us unlimited, high standard food. To everyone working in the buffet industry we’re a bunch of ignorant fools.

Having more complex dishes in a restaurant requires more ingredients, time, training and organization. Riverbank’s menu offered mainly chicken and prawns, unlike traditional Chinese food, which offers numerous amounts of different meats and fish. And I’m sure that, just like in most other business, produce is brought in bulk resulting in negotiated prices.

Another thing I noticed was the food had already been prepared into dice sized portions, which I had to eat from my tiny plates and tiny bowls, creating very small portions, meaning less waste and less paid workers washing up.

Additionally, almost every time I returned to my seat my glass had been filled up by a waitress of fresh tap water, how kind I thought… Until a few glasses later I’d realised how quickly it was filling me up.

As a result I ate a very average amount of food, for the price of about 10 platefuls. So well done Riverbank, once again you mugged me and my family off… Yet I’m sure I’ll see you again soon

 Image