The Big 3.0

This coming Friday I will turn 30. To say I am not thrilled at the prospect would be an understatement.

It seems like only yesterday I was turning 21. Oh, how young and hopeful I was back then. The years were stretching before me, filled with possibilities. I could be anything I wanted to be.

Okay, so maybe I am being a bit dramatic and I am sure there will be those of you who will be of the mindset that you can be anything you want to be no matter what age you are. Carpe diem and all that. The only thing holding you back is you.

Yes, it is true that life is what you make it. Unfortunately, it is also true that when you are a woman and of a certain age there are also certain expectations of you. By the time you reach 30 you are expected to have a place of your own (ha!), be on your way to engaged or married and be progressing well in your career.

Maybe these are old-fashioned views, but I certainly still feel like they apply to my life. It does not help that when I log onto Facebook another person from school has either bought their first home, got engaged or announced they are pregnant. After a while you do start looking at your own life and thinking, where did I go wrong?

I know I should not compare myself to others. It is not healthy and the sensible part of my brain does acknowledge that everyone is different. No two lives follow the same trajectory. And life really isn’t all that bad.

My twenties were a mixed bag, but I am sure everyone feels the same. I had some wonderful highs and some terrible lows. Crucially, I have made achievements in the last ten years. They may be small ones but they still matter. In the last decade I have successfully completed two degrees, met some amazing people who I think myself lucky to call my friends, got a good job and met an amazing man who makes every day so much better (corny, yes, but it’s true).#

I may not have ticked off many of the ‘big’ life goals, but I guess that makes the prospect of my thirties more exciting. There are still lots of things left on my bucket list and I will hopefully tick many of them off in the next ten years. Age is just a number. We should not feel defined by it. I may be saying adieu to my twenties, however I will continue to read YA, to express my love for Harry Potter/Disney/Pusheen through t-shirts and merchandise and to listen to pop songs. My passion for these things doesn’t have to change because I am turning 30. In reality, life won’t change. As you grow older you do change, but this happens in slowly, over the course of months and years. I know I won’t be the same person I am now in another ten years’ time, however that will be down to more life experience.

Goodbye twenties, it was (mostly) fun. Here’s to you, thirties. Let’s see what adventures you have in store for me.

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The One Where I Went to Friends Fest

If you’re of a certain age then you will inevitably be a fan of Friends. To be honest, I came to it a bit late. I never actually watched the show when it aired on TV. It wasn’t until 2010 that I really started to watch re-runs of it and, finally, got hooked.

Fast-forward seven years and I have now seen every episode countless times. Season 5 is my favourite because I love when Chandler and Monica first got together. Whenever I need a quick pick-me-up, I automatically reach for an episode of Friends. There is something timeless about it that I think everyone in their twenties and thirties can relate to.

When I heard about Friends Fest last year I was disappointed that there were no Scottish events that I could go to. Once again this year it didn’t come north of the border, but I wasn’t about to let that put me off. I had decided that I was going and so I managed to get tickets for one of the London events, which just so happened to be last Wednesday.

On arriving at Friends Fest the first thing that caught my eye was the Vegas Wedding Chapel – a chance to dress up as either a Centurion or bride and pose for a picture. My boyfriend got dragged along and although I don’t think he’d ever admit it, I think he secretly had fun getting to dress up as a Centurion.

Continue reading “The One Where I Went to Friends Fest”

Reasons I Love Autumn

Happy September everyone!

Can you believe how quickly this year is speeding by? Tomorrow is the start of Freshers’ Week but it only feels like the students broke up for the summer last week. My elders were forever saying to me when I was a child that the years fly by the older you get, and I now totally understand what they meant. It is less than 7 weeks until I turn 30! How did that even happen?

Anyway, I digress. September may mean back to school and university, but it also means that autumn is upon us. And it just so happens that autumn is my favourite season. Yes, I like summer. I like the long days and getting up in the daylight and being able to eat out till 9.30pm and going to the beach and eating ice cream, but…well, I haven’t actually been able to do any of those things this year. Summer has well and truly bypassed Scotland. And even if I had done all those things, they just don’t compare to all the great things autumn signifies.

Like what, I hear you ask? Well, here are my reasons why I think autumn is the best.

Beautiful Colours

I simply love, love, love how colourful autumn is. All the golds, amber, reds, yellows, browns…everywhere you look there is colour. As a lover of all things pretty and photographic, I can’t help but sigh over autumn scenery. Once the leaves turn it is like the world is gifting photographers with a ready-made canvas. Nothing can rival an autumn forest with a blue sky and fluffy clouds. Whenever I look back at our photos from Aberfeldy in October 2015, I am struck again by how breath-taking autumn is. Autumn is basically nature showing off, a bit like the male peacock when he fans out his tail feathers. Continue reading “Reasons I Love Autumn”

Floors Castle and Kelso

Despite having lived in Scotland for all but three years of my life, I haven’t really explored that much of it. Considering that the Borders are literally a stone’s throw away, it’s a county I haven’t ventured into very often. When I was off work recently, we decided to have a day trip to Floors Castle and the nearby town of Kelso, two places I had never visited before.

It was a typically windy and showery day, but that didn’t take away from how lovely both Floors Castle and Kelso were. Our first stop at Floors was the gardens. There is a beautiful walled garden which is filled with an array of flowers. The colours were gorgeous and there were loads of bumble bees making the most of all the pollen. It was very peaceful in the walled garden, despite how popular it was with other visitors. With lots of benches dotted about, on a nice day I imagine it would be a great spot to sit with a book and while away the hours.

Adjacent to the walled garden is the Millennium Garden, which is designed with a French parterre. This reminded me of those grand lawns that you often see in stately homes in adaptations on the TV. We didn’t walk round the whole garden, but we did admire the apple trees which were laden with fruit. Continue reading “Floors Castle and Kelso”

Book Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Over the summer I have read a fair bit of contemporary YA. One that has particularly resonated with me is Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel.

To be honest, I don’t normally read books which deal with grief. It has been a subject that I have shied away from in the past, always thinking it was too depressing to read about. Having experienced the loss of my mum in January, I now know first-hand what it is like to grieve and so I decided it was high time I started reading books that deal with this theme. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index follows Juniper in the months after her sister’s death and what really drew me to it was the idea of the happiness index cards.

The Christmas before she died, Juniper’s sister, Camilla, gave her a set of index cards and told her to keep a happiness index. Each day Juniper writes down her happiness score out of 10 and lists what happened to her that day followed by a + or – sign. Since Camilla was killed in a tragic car accident, Juniper has been using the cards to help her get through her grief. Then one day she forgets to fill one out and then it goes missing. Can Juniper find the card before someone else does and discovers a secret she carries about her sister. Continue reading “Book Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index”

Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

One of the books I purchased at YALC was an advanced copy of Lauren James’s new book, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. It isn’t officially published until September but already there is a lot of hype surrounding it and there was a lot of buzz at YALC for it too. The cover is simply gorgeous – black with purple, green and silver shiny light strobes which catch your eye instantly. One look at it and I was in love, so it was inevitable that I would end up getting it.

I must confess here that until YALC I wasn’t aware of Lauren James. Turns out I must have been living under a rock as she’s pretty big on the YALC scene. She led the Unconventional Romance panel at YALC and she was so funny, confident and seemed really down to earth, so I definitely want to read her earlier books, The Next Together and The Last Beginning.

Reading the blurb of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe it promised romance, space travel and some sort of mystery. Intrigued, I couldn’t wait to get started on it. The book is only 290 pages long, so you can easily fly through it. I’m sure most people will probably read it in a day.

Centered around sixteen-year-old Romy Silvers, commander of the spaceship, The Infinity, the story unfolds as Romy eagerly awaits the arrival of a second spaceship, The Eternity, commanded by the charming J. Romy has been alone since her parents died five years ago and when she loses connection with Earth, her loneliness only intensifies. As she counts down the days until The Eternity arrives, we see her struggle with nightmares from her past and share her growing panic as she learns about a war on Earth which results in a new government called the UPR. Romy is distrustful of the UPR and their cold, impersonal emails. As each day passes by their demands become more and more prohibitive and Romy starts to suffer as a result. The only thing that keeps her going is day-dreaming about the day The Eternity arrives and she can finally meet J.

Sci-fi isn’t my usual genre, but I really enjoyed the setting of this book. James describes the ship in such detail that I felt like I was there with Romy. There are several twists and turns as the story unfolds and it definitely kept me guessing. Towards the latter half of the book there were parts that had me biting my nails in trepidation. James did a brilliant job of creating suspense and keeping you on the edge of your seat.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe covers many genres – as well as sci-fi there are elements of romance, thriller and the book also touches on mental health. Romy makes for a great heroine – she is brave, clever and self-sufficient but she is also vulnerable and is often plagued by self-doubt. It is impossible not to care about her and hope that she finds her happily ever after.

I really enjoyed The Loneliest Girl in the Universe as something different to read. If you enjoy sci-fi and/or thrillers then this book should be on your to-be-read list. James is a good storyteller and I look forward to reading her other books now. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is published on 7 September by Walker Books.

YALC

Last Saturday I ticked something off my bucket list – I finally went to YALC. For those of you not in the know, YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention, which takes place within London Film and Comic Con. A weekend dedicated to all things YA, it is basically a YA lover’s dream.

I have wanted to go to YALC since I discovered it existed and this year I decided to go for it and buy a ticket. Having ever only read about it through blogs and tweets, I didn’t know what exactly to expect, but it turned out to be the best day of the year so far, without question.

When I first arrived I was slightly overwhelmed. There were just so many books! Yes, it is a book convention, but I never imagined there would be so many. All the big publishing names had a stand and they all had offers. And did I mention the freebies? Bookmarks, badges, posters, flyers…there was so much amazing bookish swag that I felt like I was in heaven. Continue reading “YALC”