Festive Fun!

blog, christmas, festive, nanowrimo, tag

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Today I am gonna do something a little bit fun! I’m sure that many of you will have heard of the brilliantly talented Tom Fletcher of McFly/McBusted? If you have, you may also know that he, his sister and his wife all make YouTube videos and have started a Dear Tom/Dear Gi/Dear Carrie series – inspired by the VlogBrothers! Last week, Tom started a Christmas tag…and that is exactly what I am going to take part in! Whoopee – another Christmas post! Enjoy!

♥Fifteen Festive Favourite Questions♥

1. Favourite Festive food
There is so much food at Christmas! The festive food I love the most however, is probably sprouts. Unusual choice, I know – but Christmas is literally the only time of the year that we have them! Not a great aftermath, unfortunately…both of my parents like to be rather free when it comes to flatulence..!

2. Favourite Reindeer
Surprisingly, I haven’t seen anyone answer this question with Rudolph yet! Poor Rudy… For me, Cupid is my favourite – the reasons might be obvious…he is clearly the reindeer of love!

3. Favourite day from 12 days of christmas song
I can never remember the days. For some reason I like the tenth day – “Ten Lords a Leaping”. It sticks with me. I couldn’t tell you why…perhaps it could be to do with the fact that it sounds a little bit like “Time Lords are leaping”…that just leaves me with the image of David Tennant prancing around the TARDIS!

4. Favourite Christmas Song
My favourite ever Christmas song is actually “O Holy Night”. It’s probably something to do with singing solos from it at school each year! It’s so pretty. (Although “Baby It’s Cold Outside” comes in at a close second…)

5. Favourite Christmas Present
This is a hard one. Over the years I’ve had some really amazing presents. Books, CDs, films, art supplies – a macbook! (Although I did pay for half of that…) I don’t think I can choose just one! …buy if you’re gonna make me, I’ll go for my vast collection of books, which is probably made up mainly from Christmas gifts!

6. Favourite Christmas Film
My favourite Christmas film probably isn’t even considered a real Christmas film, but the one that we all used to watch when we were younger at my Grandparents house is E.T.! We used to watch it every Christmas, and for some reason Christmas doesn’t feel quite right without it!

7. Favourite Cracker Toy
The best cracker toys I’ve encountered were the musical whistles! My Gran had, for some reason, been saving this particular packet of crackers for years! We never opened them or anything…and then, I think it was last year, they were finally put out on the table. They come with sheet music and everything! You can play little tunes (and with a family as big as mine, you can actually make up the whole octave!)

8. Favourite Cracker Joke
I don’t know whether this one actually came from a cracker, but I’ll just assume it did!

Q: How do you catch a squirrel?

A: Pretend to be a nut!

I was a…sensitive child. Whenever I told this joke, people of course laughed at it – probably out of kindness more than anything. And then I would cry. I thought that they were laughing at me!

9. Favourite Christmas Decoration
I love tinsel. Silver tinsel to be precise! I don’t care what my mother says (she refuses to let us have it on the tree – thinks it’s tacky!) – it’s so pretty and sparkly and shiny! We don’t have it as much any more, but mum used to wind it up the bannister and hide Christmas lights in it, and it was just so pretty in the dark! I’m considering buying the Christmas tinsel wool to knit her a scarf with…I don’t think she’d appreciate it!

10 .Favourite Candle Scent
I love a bit of a Yankee Candle! I think my favourite one is probably the Winter Wonderland scent…the Mulled Wine one isn’t bad either.

11. Favourite Christmas TV Advert
This is probably a really random choice, but my favourite advert is the Boots 2014 advert. The John Lewis advert was adorable and lived up to expectations, and Tom Odell did a wonderful job with the music, but the Boots advert was really touching. It reminded me of how hard my own mother works (she is also a nurse) and it has kind of encouraged me to really try hard to thank her this year, for everything she’s done. Who knows how many more Christmases I’ll have at home, you know, before I move out and make a home of my own…gotta make the most of it!

12. Favourite Christmas Tradition
My favourite Christmas tradition is the Chocolate Oranges! I love ‘em! Every year, me and my siblings get a Terry’s chocolate orange in the bottom of our stockings. I usually manage to devour the majority of mine before I even get downstairs. The best part is the “core” of the orange, and if I’m not careful mum or dad will come along and scoff it!

13. Favourite Place to Spend Christmas
I’ve only spent Christmas away from home once or twice…One time in Barbados and the other, Scotland I think. But home is where the Christmas cheer is for me!

14. Favourite Christmas Fact
My favourite Christmas fact is that, on Christmas Eve French children put their shoes in front of the fireplace in the hopes that Father Christmas would fill them with presents. He apparently has a partner called ‘Le Pere Fouettard’ or Father Spanker! He would “reward” bad children with a spanking! How creepy!

15. Favourite Snowman Accessory
I love a carrot for a nose! He needs to be able to smell, right?

I hope you all enjoyed the questions – and more importantly, the answers! Should you feel the desire, I think that you should all go and answer them too! Spread the Christmas Cheer!

Christmas #2

blog, christmas, festive, nanowrimo

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Christmas #2

The other day, I posted a blog discussing why some people dislike the run up to Christmas…Grinch! I think I made it pretty clear that that wasn’t me! Today I am going to tell you all about why I love Christmas and everything about it!

The music. The music is wonderful! Somehow, it manages to lift my soul, hearing sleighbells, strings, choirs – the beautiful descants! Christmas songs are so uplifting, euphoric. I won’t lie, if you were a fly on the wall, you would hear Chrismas music being played all year round in my house! I love the idea of Carol Singers, although I’ve never been able to go around myself…

The decorations. I live in quite a small village, and at one end, there are two houses that face one another. Each Christmas, they seem to partake in an unspoken contest. Their houses are light up with every light and decoration imaginable! The trees in the gardens are adorned with lanterns and baubles, the chimneys host giant santas, and one of them even puts up inflatable Simpson characters! Last week, I was travelling home from work, and several houses had Christmas lights up already. Now that the nights are drawing in so early, it’s magical to see bursts of colour lighting up the streets.

Giving and receiving. Last Christmas, I had a student loan. I also had a job and lived in the Universities cheapest accomodation, and so I was able to spend more than I’ve ever spent before on gifts. People talk about the ‘gift of giving’, and I do believe that being able to present someone with a gift that I have personally picked out for them, and then seeing the happiness on their face is a really wonderful thing to be able to do. It’s also pretty nice being given presents too!

Family. As I think I mentioned in my previous Christmas post, at Christmas my parents host a party for all of my cousins, aunties and uncles to attend! I rarely get to see my relatives during the rest of the year. There are so many of them, and none of them live particularly close by. They’re busy with their lives, have jobs, are off at University. All of that is forgotten for a day when they visit. It’s lovely, although it’s probably a little stressful for my mother!

The food. With Christmas comes parties, and with parties, comes food! At Christmas, we eat foods that we don’t eat at any other point in the year! Mince pies, turkey, sprouts, mulled wine, Christmas cake…the list is never ending! Christmas is the only day of the year that it’s remotely acceptable to eat a full English, several chocolate oranges and then a massive Christmas dinner at the end of the day! I like to think that Christmas Day is also a calorie-less day too!

Midnight Mass. Christmas is the one time of year that a lot of people who don’t usually go, go to church. I love the service that the church next door puts on, and me and my dad usually get involved in leading the music side of things. This year, I have been asked to sing a solo as my contribution to the service, which is very exciting! The church itself is always decked out nicely, with candles and tinsel and holly, along with a full nativity scene at the back of the room. Despite the cold winds outside, and the lack of heating inside the villagers all turn up wrapped in scarves, hats and gloves. The community really comes together!

And of course there was a guy that a lot of people like who was born on that day – the baby Jesus!

A Blog About Blogging!

blog, blogging, nanowrimo

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Today I am going to, at the request of David, write a blog about blogging. (I didn’t know what to write about!) Okay, okay I’ll come clean. This WordPress blog isn’t the first blog that I’ve attempted to write. Over the years I have tried starting a blog on Blogspot, one on Tumblr, and I’ve even tried video blogging (or vlogging) on YouTube! They’ve never really worked out. In this post, I’m going to explore what may have prevented me from sticking with my previous blogs, and perhaps I’ll be able to avoid abandoning this one!

Firstly, I was too afraid to share my blog with my friends. I would type posts up on my laptop, upload them to the blog and then immediately delete any documents that I’d made, for fear that one of my siblings would find them. Sometimes I’d go as far as to delete my internet history! I treated my blogs like some dirty little secret, afraid that people would laugh at my opinions, my poetry, passions… Looking back I realise that it was all a bit silly really…

Secondly, I felt like my blog had to have one particular theme. Even when I started this blog, I did so having chosen one topic, with the intention of writing blogs solely about it. I felt like my blog had to be just about social justice, or just about fashion, or just about food. I felt like having a too varied blog would put people off and they wouldn’t want to read it. In hindsight, I realise how daft that was – I mean, who wants to read about the same thing every day? Who wants to write about the same thing every day? Variety is definitely a good thing; it’s what keeps people interested.

Thirdly, I often lost the ‘will’ to carry on. Like I said before, I never used to share this on my Facebook or Twitter. No one knew about it, and so no one cared. Alongside writing, I also love singing and I have a Youtube channel which I post song covers on. Whenever I upload a video I share it straight to my Facebook profile where my friends can give me feedback. If I don’t post a video for a couple of months, someone asks me why – it keeps me motivated. Although I don’t share this blog directly onto my Facebook page, I link it to my Twitter and other social networks that I use. Knowing that there’s a chance that my blog is being read by my friends and family (even if it is just my Dad!) makes me want to stick to this. I think that some people have a certain opinion of me, the opinion that I don’t see things through to the end, that I quit too early on. This time, it will be different! (Don’t they all say that..?)

Finally, I didn’t think that I was a good enough writer. One of the many reasons that I didn’t like to show my writing to my friends was because I thought that they would think that it was rubbish! It wasn’t just that I thought that they’d disagree with me or that they’d laugh at me for having a blog – how uncool! – I just had so much self-doubt in my writing ability. Regardless of the fact that I have an A-Level in English Literature and that I excelled in the more creative projects in class, I just didn’t have enough faith in my writing. It has only been more recently that I have realised that you don’t need to have a degree in English Literature or whatever to be able to write well, or to write something that other people are interested in.

I have spent too long caring about how other people would judge me, how my friends would react to me writing my daily thoughts and publishing them on the internet. A simple blog. Now that I’m slightly older and, dare-I-say wiser, I know that I just need to do what makes me happy, and writing is among that very long list of things that make me happy! If you enjoy writing but are afraid of what other people will think of you, I really do urge you to go ahead and write any way! Share it with a close friend or someone that you know who enjoys writing too. Ask for advice on how to improve and try to take any criticism that comes your way constructively – really try not to take it to heart. Good luck!

Time, please slow down!

blog, nablopomo, nanopomo, nanowrimo, writing

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This morning it hit me. It is November. It is the fourth day of the eleventh month! I can hardly believe how fast the time has flown, how quickly this year has tiptoed past me, without even catching my notice. It’s kind of scary, really. It feels like only yesterday that fifteen year old me was sat in a classroom, bored out of my mind and just wanting to grow up! To finish my GCSE’s, leave school, get a job – to get away from the bore of classes that weren’t art or music or drama. I thought that my maths homework was the hardest thing in the world and that school would never end. But it did.

I took a Gap Year which flew by – too fast. It was probably the best year of my life. I worked at the Oakes in Sheffield; we ran activity camps for 8-18 year olds and it was wonderful! I met some of the best people that I know that year, and even though I’m personally particularly terrible at staying in touch, I know that whenever I go to talk to any of them, it is as if no time has passed at all. Last week Jemma, my old roommate posted a photo of us with two other girls, commenting that it was a two year old photo! I just don’t know where the time has gone. I guess something good came out of my gap year ending – I met my boyfriend!

I went to University for three months after my gap year to study music. I soon realised that University was not for me; I mean I was bad enough at school, I don’t know why I thought that going back was going to be of any use! I’m glad I went. I know that if I hadn’t, I would have spent the rest of my life wondering. It was an experience if nothing else – it gave me a taste of independence, leaving a good flavour in my mouth (much to the despair of my parents…) Whilst I was there, David practically lived with me. He travelled down on a Tuesday evening after college, and then travelled back again on a Sunday night – I’d go to the station with him, and then drop in at church on the way back. It was wonderful. I was with the man I love.

I also got a job at the bar that was located right below my lectures. When I was working I’d be able to hear the concert band practicing, students learning their recitals and impromtu choir practices. Every face was friendly and familiar, I got to know third year music students, one even asking me to sing with her in her end of year recital! It was such a great job and I loved it. It might sound crazy, but working is one thing I’ve always enjoyed. Earning my own money and saving up for a nice ukulele or microphone, being able to buy my own sheet music, books and stationary! It’s something I excelled in. So I left.

Now, life is whizzing by and I can’t stop it. I know that I’m only 20 and I’ve got my whole life ahead of me – I get told that all the time. I just can’t help but feel that if I relax, if I start getting complacent about my life, I will just miss it. I won’t even realise it, and it’ll be gone. I want to write a sucessful book, find my dream job, perform in a professional musical performance, travel, get married, have children and then bring them up right…I guess I just want to make something of my life, and after realising how fast these past eleven months and four days have passed, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that my life will have been for nothing. That when it inevitably ends, all memory of me will die too. I’ll just be another soul that had the great privelage of walking the Earth.

Time, please slow down! You don’t need to fly so fast. Just float…

Where Can I Find The Time??

blog, nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, reading

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I am ashamed of myself. Last Christmas my wonderful boyfriend bought me six books. They were “Bridget Jones’ Diary” by Helen Fielding, “The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul” by Deborah Rodriguez, “Grimm Tales” by Philip Pullman, “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte, “Dracula” by Bram Stoker and “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien. I have read the grand total of one. One book. “Bridget Jones’ Diary” is the only book that I have managed to complete, and that took ten months! If you read my previous post, you’ll know that when I was younger I read an awful lot of books! Every spare minute was spent reading, but for some reason I just haven’t found the time over the past year to sit down and read. I’ve started books, but just not finished them – and not for lack of interest, either!

I have several hobbies. You might already know that I am a bit of a knitting obsessive; if I am watching the telly, or a film, or if I’m skyping David I’ll have a pair of needles in hand and I will probably be working on my most recent project. So long as the pattern isn’t too complicated, I don’t even need to look at my knitting and so multi-tasking is easy!

I also love art; for Valentine’s Day, David bought me a scrapbook which is something I like to work on when I get a bit of time. I’m filling it with photos, and movie tickets, and campsite reciepts – memories of our life together. I have so far filled the scrapbook up to…Valentine’s Day! I have a bit of a way to go..!

Music is life. I love to record covers for my YouTube channel, and I will occasionally make a bit more of an effort with editing – it can sometimes take up a whole afternoon! Sometimes I’ll create simple audio recordings and upload them to my Soundcloud instead.

And now I am working on my novel – I don’t really have any control when it comes to picking a time or a place with my writing. If I feel inspired or have an idea, I just have to write it down! The other night, I was drifting off to sleep and *BAM* – I had a thought! I had to search for my glasses, and then my notebook and with the aid of my phone’s light, scribble a couple of sentences down. Then came the task of falling asleep, ideas whizzing around my brain yet knowing that I had to be up at 6 the next morning!

So where does reading fit in? My working hours are 7.30-4.00 plus overtime, and I occasionally take a book into work with me to read, but that doesn’t always work out. Do I wake up earlier and have an early morning read? Or sleep later and run the risk of being tired at work? Do I cut my Skype calls short, or spend less time knitting? I really want to complete a couple more of my Christmas books before the next batch arrive next month! I know I’ll have to make small sacrifices somewhere in my life and I’ll have to make them soon.

Do any of you have this issue? How do you counter it? I’d really love to know!

I Love Writing

blog, nanowrimo, reading, writing

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I love writing. Ever since I could read I have wanted to write a book of my own. I would take a book in to school every day when I was younger – whether it was one of my own books, or one I was reading in class you couldn’t tear me away from it. During my break times, when everyone else was playing “Kiss Chase” or “British Bulldog”, I was sat on the wall with my nose buried in a book. The dinner ladies were my best friends, and they’d (have to) listen as I told them all about the world I was reading about at the time. I was a sensitive child and I thought that I was being bullied for a lot of my life – I’ll be honest, looking back, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed. Although that didn’t make it any easier. Reading did. It would transport me to a magical world somewhere, a place where no one could hurt me.

I remember when I was about 8 years old, I started writing a short story about a servant girl who was born, lived, and worked in a Lord’s castle. The Lord was a good man, but his son was tyrannical, evil. He had this vendetta against the servant girl and did everything he could to make her life a misery. I think my eventual aim was that the son would start to fall in love with the servant. They would fall into this forbidden love, possibly get caught and banished from the land – but love would prevail! I illustrated the story and everything – I wish I could find it now, but I’d probably be too embarrassed to share it with you all anyway.

Back then, I wanted to be a published author, and that passion has never really waned. I read as much as I could, and I wrote as much as I could. I think the problem I had back then, the thing that held me back was that whenever I expressed a desire to be an author (or an actress, or a singer…) I was told that it was just unrealistic. “Authors rarely make the big time,” and “unless you plan on being JK Rowling, you’ll never be able to pay the rent!” Writing is really in my family. My sister, Hannah won a Creative Writing competition when she was (I think) 16, at Keele University; I believe that my younger sister and I have poems in an actual published book of selected poetry – full of poems written by school children; my oldest sister writes for a blog, who she also proof-reads essays for, freelance; my Grandad writes short little poems. Writing is really part of my DNA and I still have this desire to write and write!

Now, I am 20 and I have all of these ideas in my head that I just have to get down on paper! Short stories, poems and even novels come to my mind. I know that I was only told that writing is a difficult field to get into because it is true, and the people who told me only did so because they were concerned. However I honestly believe that with a little bit of persistance, anything is possible. Currently it is the National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. The basic aim is to write (and complete) the first draft of a novel. I plan on writing every day, whether it be a blog post, a poem, a book review or a bit more of my current writing project. It is supposed to take 21 days to form a habit, so writing a little bit every day for 30 days should really get me into the cycle of writing! Wish me luck, and if you are also wanting to write a little bit a day, good luck to you too!