What More Can I Do?


Hey everyone!

I’ve been thinking a lot since my post about why Black Lives Matter, about what more we can do as allies to help those in need right now. I live in the UK, and although it is portrayed that a lot of the issues going on are in the USA, that is certainly not the case. Racism is as deadly and as widespread as the pandemic we’re living in at the moment.

In my last post, linked above, I shared some books that you should definitely give a read if you want to educate yourselves further on the topic of race. Since then, I have signed a lot of petitions, and shared so many stories across my social media platforms. In the process of writing this, I’m watching a video on Youtube where all proceeds raised from ad revenue will go directly towards charities supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

So, this post is just a collection of ways you can help, even if you don’t have a lot of money to donate right now. Below, I’m going to link a whole load of petitions, videos, creators to follow, films and tv series to watch, and hopefully at least one of these will encourage you to help, and to educate yourself further. It is up to us, as allies, to do the work ourselves. In a video James Corden recorded for The Late Late Show, he said “how can the black community dismantle a problem that they didn’t create?” and this is something that we need to remember.

Without further ado, here is my list of ways you can help the Black Lives Matter movement.

Movies

  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
  • Selma
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • When They See Us
  • Moonlight
  • The Hate U Give

Tv Shows

  • Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap, Netflix
  • Time: The Kalief Browder Story, Netflix
  • When They See Us, Netflix
  • 13th, Netflix
  • Who Killed Malcom X? Netflix
  • Noughts and Crosses, BBC
  • Becoming, Netflix

Youtube

How to financially help BLM with NO MONEY/leaving your house:

Petitions/Donations

Black Creators to Follow on Instagram

I know that this is only a starting point for a bigger, ongoing conversation. But what’s important is that we don’t just forget about these incidents in the weeks, months or years to come. Change needs to start now. Like I said in my last post, if you have any other links, or suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

-Janet

Review on… The Bloodprint


Hey everyone!

I hope you’re all doing well. Today, I’m back with another book review, which is on Ausma Zehanat Khan’s adult fantasy novel The Bloodprint. It is the first in the Khorasan Archives series, and follows Arian, a member of the Companions of Hira, whose mission is to end the war started by the One Eyed Preacher and the oppressive spread of the Talisman. When it is thought that the Companions of Hira have discovered The Bloodprint, a script that can bring the One Eyed Preacher’s regime to an end, it is up to Arian and her second in command, Sinnia, to travel on a treacherous journey to find The Bloodprint, and bring it back to the council.

Generally, I think this book had a lot going for it. It comes across as being a feminist text, it’s set in a middle eastern setting and therefore the characters aren’t just white people; there is a lot of diversity, and it also looks at things such as religion, magic, and culture being important aspects of society and history. I think, as the start of a series, this has so much potential, and it was nice reading something with a lot of diversity, and a different perspective on the typical fantasy genre as a whole. I found that I was interested in the storyline the most, and I was curious to see what characters they meet on their journey, what else the world of Khorasan has to offer, and ultimately, what will happen when the characters finally get their hands on the Bloodprint.

However… I did have several issues with this book. Firstly, the world building. From the very first chapter onwards I found I was just a bit confused, and although I was intrigued enough in the plot to finish the book, it took me the entire month of May to get through! The Companions of Hira use an ancient scripture called the Claim to use their magic; however, it’s never explained what the Claim does, why it’s so important, and why these women are the ones who can use it. Throughout the novel, Arian is almost worshipped for being the First Oralist, but again… I didn’t know why that was so important.

Also, unless they are brought back in the books in the rest of this series, I kind of felt that bringing in loads of the companions at the beginning who weren’t actually that relevant to the rest of the story just added a bit more confusion for me. At the back of the book there is a list of characters, and many of them have “alternate” names that they go by; almost like nicknames. But I just didn’t understand why some had so many. This did unfortunately continue throughout the novel, with some of the other characters that they met along their journey. I could see why they added something to the story, but they weren’t always memorable. At one point, they meet the people of the young boy, Wafa, who Arian and Sinnia save from a slave train. They manage to save these people, but once they’ve been saved, I can’t actually remember what happened to them. Did Arian say goodbye? Where did they go? It just felt like they were there for no reason.

I had a bit of an issue with Khan’s writing style sometimes; she often told the story rather than showed it. For example, not only do some characters have other names they go by, but so do some buildings. She could describe these places in such a way that makes the reader feel like they’re reading about something special, but instead she often introduces them as “The Palace, also known as…” And this happened a lot. It annoyed me because I felt that Khan had so much more to give, and sometimes she was nearly there, but then it didn’t go any further.

*SPOILER AHEAD* There is a point towards the end of the story, when Arian and her friends have just found The Bloodprint, after breaking into a Talisman city, and they literally turn around to find they are going to get arrested. There seems to be no fighting, no attempt of escaping… they just give in. There is no explanation, and it just fell a bit flat for me. This wasn’t the only time that Khan just told the story, rather than showing it. The characters at this particular point had just been through a great big fight scene, so I can understand that maybe Khan had to start wrapping things up… but it just didn’t feel right. I had to read that part again, because I felt like I’d missed something.

The final issue I had was the fact that Arian’s love interest kiiiind of had to keep coming in to save the day. For a novel that prides itself on being a feminist story… this was a bit disappointing. There was a whole backstory between these two characters, and it was obvious from the get go that they would rekindle their love by the end of the novel. I’m all down for a bit of romance here and there, but Arian was more than capable of doing a lot of these things herself, instead of… whatever his name is. I know I should know it, but I honestly can’t remember!

Overall, I gave The Bloodprint 2.5/5 stars on Goodreads. Like I said, I really do feel it has potential, and I’m on the fence about continuing on with the series. Part of me hopes that the world building and Khan’s writing style will improve with time, but generally, I just felt that I didn’t really care about the magic system of the Claim, because it wasn’t established enough at the beginning. But, it ends on one hell of a cliffhanger, so of course, I am left wondering what will happen next.

Have you read The Bloodprint? If so, what did you think?

-Janet

Why Black Lives Matter


Hey everyone!

I know some will think that this post is “late to the party” and maybe I’m writing this to get on that bandwagon, but whatever your thoughts on this post, it needs to be said. I also want to make clear that chances are likely I will say something wrong, and that’s not my intention. Please call me out if I am, because I want to continue to educate myself on this matter. I’m not writing this to join a trend. I’m writing this because it should always be spoken about, not just when a video goes viral. And if you have no idea on what I’m talking about, then a quick Google search of the events of last week should be a good starting point for you.

I am a white woman living in the UK. I was born in South Africa, I spent my childhood in Cardiff, before moving to a small town near Exeter, in the South West of England. Something you may not know about the South West of England is that it is a particularly white area- so I’m very glad that I spent a lot of my childhood years in places that were far more multicultural. I remember starting my new school at the age of 9 years old, noticing that there was hardly any diversity. From an early age I learnt about different people, different religions, different backgrounds. The colour of someone’s skin made no difference to how I perceived a person, and it still doesn’t. But I know that the way I view other people isn’t the same as everyone else, and I’m not naive either. I know that I’ve had it very easy compared to others, due to my white privilege.

The events that happened last week, the events that are still happening, and have always happened in the USA are simply disgusting. I have no hatred towards those protesting across the country. The racism and injustice has been going on for far too long and something needs to be done. I feel frustrated that I can’t physically do much to help, but I know that speaking out as an ally is a good way to start. I think it’s easy for a lot of us who aren’t American, to sit back and think, “well, it’s not my issue. It’s not happening in my country.” But, it is. And it always has been.

First, we need to take it back in time. I was so disappointed to learn just how much the UK had to do with the slave trade; I was even more disappointed to have learnt about our part in this barbaric trade at the age of 19 years old. During my school years, we learnt about the slave trade, but it was always with a hint of “the UK wasn’t really that involved though, it was an American problem” and it was always made clear that the UK ended their involvement in the slave trade far sooner than the States did. It was only when I started studying a specific module at university that my eyes were opened, and I was horrified. I felt ashamed that I didn’t know this sooner.

Looking back now, I think that was a starting point for me to educate myself. I always took modules that focused on issues including race, and feminism, and I am so glad that I did. I have read so many books, both fiction and non-fiction, thanks to these modules that have taught me about race, and ultimately why black lives do matter. All lives can’t matter until black lives matter. If you want some book recommendations, I’m going to leave a list of some of the books that I’ve read that have really helped me in my understanding of this issue.

I am still learning, and am always trying to educate myself further on this issue. It was only last year that I read Renie Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, and again, that opened my eyes so much to the injustices black people face in the UK. We are not perfect when it comes to this matter, and it’s not just an American problem. It’s happening all over the world, and things need to change. While it’s important to learn about how people are treated in other countries and to speak out against it, the best way to start our education is to look at where we live first. Really look. Like I said, where I live is a very white area, so these matters may not appear on the surface… but the fact that I live in a “white area” speaks enough for itself. I don’t think it was something my parents necessarily thought of when we moved here, because we’re white. We “fit in”. I know for a fact that if I wasn’t white, it would definitely be more noticeable.

I feel like there’s certainly a whole lot more that I could say, and right now I’m not sure what that is. I hope that this post in itself is enough to get a conversation started among those who may not know where to start. Like I said, I’m going to leave a list of book recommendations for you to read, that are relevant in educating yourselves further. Some of these have become some of my all-time favourite books, and some I am yet to read.

Fiction:

  • Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
  • The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
  • The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

Non-Fiction:

  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  • The Autobiography of Malcom X, by Malcom X
  • Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Renie Eddo-Lodge

I know this isn’t a massively extensive list, and there are many more that could be added- so I’m opening this up to you! Please let me know of any books that you would recommend about this topic in the comments! For now, I hope you’re all doing well, and staying safe.

-Janet

8 Things I Want To Do After Lockdown


Hey everyone!

I’m sure, like many of us, I’ve been thinking about the light at the end of the very long, dark tunnel, that is this pandemic we’re living through at the moment. I often find myself daydreaming about things I can’t wait to do, and people I’ve been longing to see; I’ve imagined multiple emotional reunions with friends that I haven’t seen since October; and I’ve been impatiently waiting for that first Saturday morning when Parkrun is officially open again.

But I won’t give this whole post away, so let’s get straight on into the things that I am most looking forward to once lockdown is officially over!

Visit Winchester

Winchester is my home away from home. It’s where I studied my undergraduate degree, it’s where I met some lifelong friends, and it’s one of the most picturesque cities in England (in my humble opinion!) It will always have a place in my heart, and the longer I spend away from this city, the more I want to go back and visit!

Parkrun!

I already mentioned this earlier, but I cannot wait to go back to my weekly Parkrun! It was something I really missed while I was in Thailand, and it was one of the top things I was looking forward to going back to when I came home… so much for that! I have been trying to get out on runs whenever I can while I’ve been in lockdown, but it’ll be so nice to be surrounded by people again, and feeling that Parkrun buzz. I’m also excited to be able to sign up to charity races (or just general races), because I’ve only done two in the last year, and they were so much fun!

Visit friends

Again, this is very obvious, but something I’m excited for nonetheless. Like I said, there’s a lot of people I haven’t seen since at least October 2019, as I jetted off to Thailand for five months… little did I know I’d be coming back home into lockdown! I have been doing facetimes and skypes and zoom calls with a whole bunch of friends, which has been amazing, but nothing beats the feeling of having a good old fashioned, face-to-face catch up. I think this is one that I am most excited for!

Being able to travel

Although I’m excited to see people here in the UK, I can’t wait to be able to travel again! And I guess that also includes travelling around the UK. In line with the previous point, I would happily do a week-long road trip across the UK if it meant visiting every single friend who I haven’t seen in ages! And of course, I can’t wait to be able to travel internationally again. As a TEFL teacher, a lot of my work is abroad, and I did have travel plans for August of this year- still TBC- and it was something I was really looking forward to. It will be so nice to be able to travel without feeling terrified or anxious or guilty during this pandemic! This also means visiting family and friends who live in South Africa, other friends who live abroad, and hopefully one day being able to travel back to Thailand!

Get a job!

This might be a surprising one, but something I’m excited for anyway. Like many people at the moment, I am technically unemployed. I tried and tried (and am still trying) to get online teaching work, but it looks like everyone is in the same boat, and there’s very little work going. Surprisingly, I miss working! As much as I have enjoyed chilling out at home – it was definitely needed – I miss having a sense of purpose. I also found that I really love what I do, and now that I’m not doing it, it’s all I want to do!

Go to the cinema

The last film I watched at the cinema was Joker, before I went to Thailand. It was great, but little did I know that it would be a verrrry long time before I’d set foot in a cinema again, with that smell of popcorn and sugary drinks… Going to the cinema is one of my all-time favourite pastimes, especially when there’s a really good film on. So of course, this is something I’m looking forward to doing once this has all blown over!

Sit in a cafe with a friend (or a good book)

I just want to sit in a cozy little cafe somewhere off the main hightstreet of a city, with either a good friend, or, if I can’t find one, a good book. I find it so relaxing sitting with a hot drink, a sugary snack, and someone (or thing) to keep you entertained for hours, with the dull background noise of people talking, and barristers making coffee. Ah, bliss

Browsing in Charity Shops

I love going into charity shops, and having a look around at all the things they have to offer. I will almost always go to the books section of any charity shop, and happily spend hours and hours looking at all the covers. I’ve had to make do with buying my books online for what feels like the longest time, but I’m so excited to finally go back and support the local charity shops in my area, who I’m sure will be delighted to let customers back into their doors.

I’d be interested to know if any of them are similar or different to the things you’re looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

-Janet

5 Classics I Want To Read in 2020


Hey everyone!

I’m in shock that we’re fast approaching the 6 month mark of 2020. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been wondering where the time has gone this year! It’s safe to say that, for me, reading has been a massive escape during the weird times that we’re in, and as someone who does actually quite enjoy reading classics, I thought that for the second half of 2020, I would see if I can try and read some.

These are the five classics I would like to try and read this year!

The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells.

I got this beautiful copy of The War of the Worlds maybe a year or two ago now, and it’s a story I know very well… considering I haven’t actually read it! Here’s a fun fact, when I was in Year 12, I was part of a theatre company and we did a physical theatre based performance to the musical of The War of the Worlds!

The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas.

I bought this copy of The Three Musketeers in a charity shop many many many years ago, and it’s still one I’ve not got around to reading! (You’ll probably notice a theme with these books…) Again, I’m sure we all know the story of the Three Musketeers, but I’ve never read this story by Alexandre Dumas. I’m really excited to give it a go, and also…. the cover is just so cool!

Dr No, Ian Fleming.

I actually got this book for a university module in my third year and I never actually read it… considering I graduated a year and a half ago, I definitely should have read this by now! I don’t know what stopped me from reading this, but the James Bond stories are such a classic, and I know that it’ll be something a bit different for me to try. I remember when I got this book, I thought it was one I’d love, and that I’d actually read it but, alas…

No Name, Wilkie Collins.

I’ve mentioned several times in the past how much I love Wilkie Collins. I think he’s one of my favourite authors, and my favourite book of his is The Woman in White, which I studied for my dissertation. Having also read The Moonstone, I felt that it was only right for me to try and read another of his works, outside of my degree. Enter, No Name. Again, this story looks really fascinating, and if The Woman in White was anything to go by, I think this book is really going to be filled with drama and lots of characters who are lowkey really untrustworthy and unreliable. I can’t wait to read it! The only thing that scares me is the length…

Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell.

I know. I’m disappointed in myself too. This is possibly my sister’s all-time favourite book, and of course I’m expecting good things when I eventually get around to reading this! I believe I started reading it when I was doing my A-levels, but I didn’t fall in love with it, and so I didn’t finish reading it. But, it’s one I’ve been meaning to give a second chance to so I hope that 2020 will be that year! I think it would be really interesting reading it now, with all the political things going on around the world, so we’ll see how it goes!

So those are all the classics I’d love to try and read this year! Have you read any of these? What did you think? And are there any classics that aren’t on my list that you’d like to read this year?

-Janet

Do I Regret Leaving Thailand?


Hey everyone!

I’ve been back home in England for just over two months exactly now, and the longer I’ve been at home amid this pandemic, the more I think about my time in Thailand. I often find myself thinking what if I’d stayed? Of course, there’s no real way of answering this question. I’ve played multiple different possible scenarios in my head of how things could have been if I was still there… but there’s no way of knowing for sure.

As far as I know, the school I worked at hasn’t re-opened its doors for the students yet. Of course this is understandable given the times we are in. So if I had stayed, there’s no guarantee that I’d have any work, or any means of getting paid. However, I know that the school needs English teachers so I would still *technically* have a job, and some kind of security.

I had already decided that I wanted to just do one term long before I left Thailand, and as I’ve said before, I felt that I was very out of control in making decisions about flying home early, or continuing my life in Thailand until the date that I was supposed to leave. It was incredibly stressful, but I think at the back of my mind, I felt it was right for me to go home when I did. I didn’t want to be stuck anywhere with no means of getting out, or getting stuck somewhere with no money. I’m very lucky that I was able to afford the flight home, and in many ways, everything worked out in the end.

I am now safe, I am at home with my family, and yes, I am happy. I’m glad I’ve been able to spend lots of quality time with my family; I’ve Facetimed and Zoomed and Skyped so many people; more than I ever have before in this time period! Even more than when I was in Thailand for 5 months! It’s been amazing catching up with people this way, and for the most part, life in English lockdown hasn’t been all that bad for me. But as time goes on, I find myself thinking more and more about whether I should have stayed in Thailand. I really do miss it.

I think it’s safe to say that, had I stayed, I would have the exact same thoughts but in reverse. I would be wondering about life at home; I’d be thinking about my family and friends the whole time; I’d wonder if I had made the right choice in staying. But, like I said, there’s no way of knowing what my life would be like right now, if I had stayed in Thailand. I still have friends who are there, and they seem to be doing okay. I wonder if I would have been able to spend time with them, since the restrictions in Thailand are quite different to the UK. I wonder if I would feel safer from the virus, as it doesn’t appear to be as bad in Thailand as it is in the UK. I have so many questions, and not enough answers!

It’s safe to say that, looking back on it now, I really did enjoy my time in Thailand. It’s possibly one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, emotionally, but I would definitely do it all over again. I think this is why I really want to go back; Thailand will always have a place in my heart, as I learnt so much while I was there, in more ways that one. I became more independent; I learnt to love spending time by myself; I went and accomplished things I never thought I could. I know it’s one of those places that can be incredibly touristy, and sometimes it’s frustrating being surrounded by tourists. But I am so glad I spent time away from these crowds for the most part, because I think I got to know what Thailand is really like, and the beauty it really has to offer.

So, to answer the question: do I regret leaving Thailand? I don’t know, in all honesty. I feel like I’m sitting on a fence. Part of me regrets leaving, because I felt like there was so much more to explore. Part of me is glad I left, because I know for a fact that the 40 degree heat was not something I enjoyed, and I’m glad that I’ve left that behind! But, regardless of how I feel about having left Thailand when I did, I do know that I want to go back one day. Whether it’s to work, or just travel, I’m not sure yet. But I do want to see it again.

-Janet

Some Lockdown Essentials


Hey everyone!

I thought I’d write a post listing a few of the things that have been getting me through the recent lockdown extension in the UK. For those who don’t know, we were initially under a three week lockdown, which has now been extended to a total of six weeks… at this point, no one knows if it’ll be extended any further! But these things have been a bit of a foolproof method of keeping me somewhat sane with the lack of socialization due to social distancing.

Technology

Obviously, I have a blog as well as a Youtube Channel (which you can check out here!) so having some standard pieces of technology are quite essential! I use the Canon EOS M3 camera to film vlogs and videos on for Youtube, and I do also use this to take pictures for my blog, as and when I need to!

Of course I do also have my laptop and my phone for general social media browsing purposes, and if I’m being completely honest, I use these things the most! As much as I’d like to try and reduce my screen time on my phone, in times like these it is important to keep in touch with loved ones- be it friends or family, or anyone else!

Arts and crafts

So this is basically a section dedicated to my bullet journal, and all the stationary I have to create spreads! For those who don’t know what a bullet journal is, it’s essentially this system of organising your life in a diary of some kind. I am currently using a dotted notebook from Typo, and it’s okay but not my favourite. It serves it’s purpose, so I can’t complain.

Although I don’t necessarily have anything to plan while in lockdown (as I’m currently still unemployed) it’s still nice to have a creative outlet that doesn’t require a screen. I always loved drawing and doodling at school, so this is a really nice outlet for me to carry on doing something that I would otherwise neglect.

The majority of my coloured pens are Crayola supertips, as well as some Stabilo point max pens that I’ve had for about two years, and they’re still going strong! Another firm favourite of mine are the Stabilo Boss original pastel highlighters, which again have lasted well over the past couple of years.

Fashion

Of course, I couldn’t talk about the current lockdown situation without talking about comfy clothes. My entire wardrobe is full of comfy clothes, with a few things for when I occasionally go “out out”. But, as we’re not allowed to go “out out” those will have to remain in the wardrobe for the forseeable future!

Although I spend a good amount of my days in leggings or baggy trousers, I am one of those weirdos who does spend all day in a pair of jeans… If I hadn’t spent five months in Thailand where I only wore my jeans a grand total of three times, I probably wouldn’t be wearing them so much now… but I kind of missed them? Jeans are a statement piece in my wardrobe so they have to be worn!

Next is my running gear! Since we’re limited to the type of exercise we can do at the moment, I’m so grateful to have a good, sturdy (if ancient) pair of trainers that are getting me through many a kilometre! If I’m not out running, I’ll probably join my parents on a dog walk, which is just as enjoyable.

And finally, here are some honourable fashion mentions:

  • My dressing gown
  • My pyjamas
  • My numerous pairs of fluffy socks

TV, Movies and Books

If you haven’t already read my post about things to keep you occupied in lockdown, you can read it here as it has some other things that are similar to this post… and more! One of those things being reading. I’ve always been an avid reader, for as long as I can remember. Lockdown has given me an amazing opportunity to fall back in love with reading, as I now have the time, and I don’t feel like I need to make up excuses as to why I “can’t read this or that”. Plus, it’s a great chance for me to finally get through the books that have been sitting on my shelves for years.

I’ve also been watching a lot of TV and movies over the past few weeks, and I’ve been on and off catching up on old episodes of Glee. My sister has now overtaken me, and I’ll probably just end up watching episodes whenever she’s watching them. We’ve also been watching some DVD’s, as we have collected so many over the years! We’ve been watching old, beloved films that we’ve seen countless times (such as Forrest Gump) as well as some newer ones that we never got the chance to watch.

I class this as an essential during lockdown, because like with reading, now is a better time than any to do these sorts of things without that little voice at the back of your head making you feel guilty.

Skin/Body Care

My skin care routine (both morning and evening) has always been relatively basic; I wash my face with Simple face wash, and then moisturize with either the Simple hydrating moisturizer, or I’ll use the Body Shop seaweed moisturizer because I just want to try and use it up. I don’t really want to use much else, because my skin is super sensitive, but I feel so much more human once I have washed my face and moisturized, and even if that’s the only productive thing I do all day, I know I’ll feel better for it. I class it as some self care, so I try and make sure I do this!

I’ve also been making the most of my leftover bath products. Aaaaages ago I got a frosted berries scented bubble bath from the Body Shop, which I just used up last night, and I’ve also been using some of the Body Shop’s candy cane scented bubble bath too. I know it’s not exactly the right season for candy canes, but it’s basically just a minty scented bubble bath and I am here for it. Unfortunately, I don’t have any face masks, but the second I can get my hands on some, then I will!

So that is all for today’s post! Let me know what some of your essentials have been during lockdown in the comments!

-Janet

Some Movies I’ve Watched in Lockdown


Hey everyone!

Lockdown has really been an excuse for me and my family to have a movie night almost every single night. This is by no means me complaining! It’s been really nice and relaxing to sit together after we’ve eaten our food, and catch up on classics, new releases, or anything in between that we would never have the chance of watching all together beforehand. I’ve decided to list some of my favourite movies that we’ve watched so far, and share some of my thoughts on them.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Of course, I had to include this one. It is hands down one of my all time favourite movies ever, and I will never get bored of it. The story follows Forrest Gump, from his childhood years, to college, to fighting in Vietnam, and beyond. It is honestly one of the most heart-warming and heart-breaking films you will ever watch, and you’ll find yourself smiling the whole way through. Plus, there are some classic quotes in there too!

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Again, this is one of my all-time favourites, and one I could watch over and over again. The story follows Ralph Fiennes’s character Monsieur Gustave H. who is framed for a murder, and the new hotel lobby boy Zero, on their adventures to set things… right? Kind of? If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what I mean! It is hilarious, quirky, and artistic and just so much fun to watch. It’s one that I doubt will ever get old.

Coco (2017)

This is one of Disney’s newest releases, and definitely one of my top Disney movies to date. It is set in Mexico, and follows a young boy called Miguel, who gets stuck in the land of the dead. He has until sunrise to get back to the human world, and set things right with his family. The first time I watched this movie about two years ago… I cried. I don’t usually cry much when I watch movies, but this one got to me, and I think that’s why I love it so much. It’s so sweet, and the music is fantastic, and the story is just so heartwarming. It’s definitely a nice family movie to watch together.

The Departed (2006)

This was one I watched a few weeks ago for the first time, and I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It stars Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg and it’s essentially a movie about cops, moles, and gangs in Boston, USA. The whole movie has you questioning the character’s motives, and once it really gets going, you’re left wondering which mole is going to rat the other out first. I found that part of me wanted one to be ratted out, then the other, then the other… none of the characters are really perfect but I think that made it more real. If you’re wanting a bit of a thrill, then this is a good one to go for!

Shirley Valentine (1989)

I watched this for the first time with my mum and my sister, and it was a lot of fun. It’s got proper British comedy, and it absolutely shows the stereotypical British tourist on holiday too…! Shirley has always wanted to go to Greece, and so one day she goes with a friend of hers. Shirley learns a lot about what she wants in her life back home in her time away, and meets some wonderful locals. I loved this film, because I felt a bit of a connection with Shirley, especially in my own travelling adventures.

I’m going to leave it there for now! Maybe I’ll do a part two for this post in the future. Let me know about the movies you have been watching during lockdown! Have you seen any that I have mentioned?

-Janet

Book Series I Want to Finish in Lockdown


Hey everyone!

I’ve been thinking for a while about all the series that I’ve started and have never finished, and since we’re in lockdown, it’s a better time than any to get all that reading done! I’m currently plodding my way through The Bloodprint which is apparently going to be the start of a series… but I don’t think it’s one I will be in a rush to continue with…

So, here’s a list of the ones that I do want to finish!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I have read the first book in this trilogy, I have owned the second book (The Rosie Effect) for several years, and I recently discovered that there’s a third and final book! (The Rosie Result) I remember really enjoying The Rosie Project when I first read it a few years ago, but just never got around to reading the rest. So, this is definitely one I want to get through during lockdown!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I read The Maze Runner while I was in Thailand, as it was yet another book that had been sitting on my shelves for several years! I got through this one really quickly, and I was actually disappointed at my past self for not reading it sooner. I think I really would have loved it as a teenager. So, I have now got my hands on The Scorch Trials, and when I finish that one, I’ll order the next book in the series!

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Again, this is a series I started a long time ago, but just never got around to finishing it, or keeping up with the new releases. I read the first three books (Throne of Glass, Queen of Midnight and Heir of Fire) and the prequel, and although I adored these books, life just got in the way! So I’m hoping to start the series from the beginning, and actually make the effort this time to finish the series.

The Palace of Laughter by Jon Berkeley

This one technically doesn’t count as a “series I want to finish” but it’s a series I want to re-read during lockdown. These were my all-time favourite books as a child, and I really think they deserve more credit. I think this was really the series that got me loving books and reading (although I loved reading anyway, this book was very much a game changer). I think this will be quite a quick re-read, as I’ve already read them in the past, and they’re children’s books, so it’ll be fun to take a trip down memory lane!

So those are all the book series I want to finish in lockdown! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these, what you thought, and if there are any book series you’re planing on finishing during lockdown!

-Janet

10 Years Online


Hey everyone!

Yesterday afternoon, after I’d already written and posted my post all about the books I’ve read in lockdown, I got the wonderful notification that I’d been expecting…

I’ve officially been part of the WordPress community for 10 years! It’s crazy to think back on all the years that I’ve been online. Blogging was the first form of “social media” that I ever joined, and I remember not telling my mum that I had a blog for years, and now she’s one of my biggest supporters!

I remember 13 year old Janet, sitting at her desk, looking out the window, trying to think of something to write, and after a while, I gave up blogging. Although I opened this account 10 years ago, it was only a few months later that I actually got used to writing posts. Some of my first posts included one about my cat, who at the time of writing, was walking all over my desk; one was about how annoyed I was that it was raining, and if you really felt like it, you could go back and have a read for yourself. There’s no way I’m linking those posts for you to find so easily!

This blog has seen me through some of the biggest changes in my life; from doing my GCSE’s and A-levels, to the whole drama about getting into university; to the friendships I made and the break ups I endured; to the solo travels I embarked on and trying to figure out what to do as a fully functioning adult. This blog has been my outlet to just… be. I find writing is a therapeutic way for me to just figure things out that are going on in my head, and I find so much joy in sharing my favourite things with the internet.

This blog is literally the story of my life, and I don’t know where I’d be without it.

Through this blog, I have met some incredible people. It’s sad to think how many people have come and gone and that there are some people who I am no longer in contact with; but there are some who I talk to on a regular basis (shoutout to the Unicorn Squad group chat on Twitter) and I’ve even had the privilege of meeting some of my fellow bloggers in person. I’ve branched out so much over the years, and I’ve learnt so much from everyone that I follow on this platform.

Of course, I have to be honest and say that after 10 years online, I thought I would have made it by now. Do you know what I mean? Once it actually became a thing for people to make money from writing, I thought hey maybe one day that’ll be me. But it’s not. And I’m okay with that. I don’t want my blog to become my job, because I think it would take the fun out of it. I love writing on here, but I don’t think I’d fancy the pressure of writing for someone else. This has always been for me, and it’s going to stay that way for as long as I’m writing on here!

There’s so much more I could still say, but I think this is a good time to bring this post to a close. I know for many of us, 2020 was meant to be the best year yet… of course, it’s not really gone that way so far, but as always, I have hope that things will get better. Writing this, and looking back on the times I’ve shared with all of you, has made me realise how important this space is for me, and just know that whatever happens this year, me and my blog aren’t going anywhere.

To those who have stuck with me from the beginning (sorry to sound like that person but I genuinely don’t think there are many) thank you. To those who have only joined me today, thank you. To anyone who read my posts in between, thank you.

-Janet