Tuesday, December 23, 2014



Could I let 2014 slip away without one last blog post? I'm sitting at "home home", back with my family for the Christmas period, and I'm reminded of my old ways. The days, weeks, months I spent scribbling/typing away in time which needed filling or which was stolen from studying. I read a tweet earlier today claiming that a good writing tip is to write when you're supposed to be doing something else. The feeling of being naughty, knowing you're supposed to be researching for your coursework or getting ready to go outside. What am I avoiding now? A last minute dash to the shops for hopefully the end of the Christmas shopping period which I promised myself would happen in October. There's always next year..!

At dinner last night with some of my closest friends, we took it in turns to speak about the highlight of 2014. I know it's a question that's upcoming in my 5 year Q&A diary too. It's often a question I dread because when I reflect, the more painful memories always seem to stick out. In a privileged society like ours, it can seem almost like we treat happiness and pleasantry to be the norm and experiences which do not fit into that category are treated as blips on the smooth journey we expect from our lives. Do we always appreciate fully that these marks are as much part of our lives as the good stuff? Or is it a case of attitude and approach?

I've been taught recently to re-adjust the way I view decision-making and management of worries and anxieties by someone who enthuses about life and has much more positive eyes than I do. M posited the following: "Rather than look at why you wouldn't enjoy something, think about why you would". Rather than worry about what someone doesn't like about you, remind yourself of reasons why they do. Rather than formulate theories about how unbearable an experience is going to be, focus on the excitement and gratitude you might have for the opportunity.

The instinctive analysis that my brain decides to undertake at every given chance however warns of the dangers of getting carried away by not considering whether the bad outweighs the good. We can't ignore certain negativities for the sake of trivial indulgences, for example; it is a balancing act, of course it is.

But it can be a useful mantra I think - apply it to present-buying, a new opportunity at work, planning a trip. How can it help you? If you find yourself in a situation where you are needing encouragement to do something you're unsure on but ultimately feel like you want to do, maybe we should apply that logic.

Going back to the question of 2014's highlight - what would make you say you did enjoy it, rather than what would make you say you didn't? For me, it was my trip to Spain over the summer. Not necessarily for the travel aspect of it, which I suppose is the predictable part of the answer (travel is a popular highlight for most people), but rather for simple reasons of time and freedom to be me in different places with the person who so often I forget is a separate person to me.

Of course, we do carry with us grief, trauma, pain and it forms part of who we are, through the good times and the bad. Suffering doesn't go away but shiny stars do need a dark backdrop.

Or as Dumbledore would put it: "Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light."

Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to Basics

I can't write. I've tried and I've tried but I can't do it at the moment. Not in the way I would like to anyhow. Not even one of my Taking Stock posts.  Tiredness, distraction by other things, not enough reading, not enough imagining.

I've tried to put together pieces for this blog, I miss writing and I miss the cathartic value of putting pen to paper. I miss stringing together words in sentences which don't sound basic. I miss having something to say. I miss knowing my tone and voice.

My routine is a tiring one, fulfilling in many ways, but harsh on other passions like this, like reading, like writing, like yoga. In this adjustment phase, each day is a single-lane road, my body exhausted and mind consumed. I'm not unhappy, I'm just not exploring much in the way that I used to. I'm unhappy about that but I'm working on it. I never put pressure on myself to post on here, I only ever did when there was something within me that could not be still. The words would spill out without even trying. So why should I worry about this inability to convey now? Is it just not the right time or place? Is this the end of my run here? Quite simply, it is unsettling because I have a hundred thoughts I want to share, and thousands of feelings that won't quieten til they're out, but no tool to paint them with.

Writing fluidly comes with practice, so step one is this post - not least because it doesn't sound exactly how I would like it to. Step two will be picking up a book and starting there. I do believe that to be able to write, you must first read. Step three might come from your advice if you have any.

Thanks for bearing with me during the radio silence. I hope to be back properly soon.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lessons learnt moving out of home and away from London

I started writing this blog post a couple of weeks ago. So here is how it started.....

"I am writing this in my local library. We've been moved in two weeks and wifi still hasn't happened. This may well be a personal record... I am so eager to type all of my thoughts and observations out at the pace at which they're running through my head but unfortunately I've got to contend with a space bar which requires two thumbs to press it down and the eccentric sound of a father and toddler daughter singing a song from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". In a library. Yep. Welcome to my weekend! Life is weird away from home (London) sometimes. Anyhow, here is a little list of things I have learnt moving out of home... "

Then, as you can gather from the distinct lack of list, I decided to give up and go home (via three awesome charity shops). Now here I am two weeks later, sitting on my bed in the comfort of my new home with wifi galore. I suppose that can be lesson number one - transitions are unsettling sometimes but the beauty of them is that they're temporary.

Anyway, not only did I fail to complete the list or the blog post, I didn't return to Blogger again up until now. Where have I been? Well, just here really. Here and at work, and in my car getting between here and work. And on trains getting between here and work when work isn't at work. Up until this month - and can you believe that this is only post number three of September when we are pretty much in October? - I blogged regularly with the energy I'd been bottling up from all of those hours of rest. It was a full-time hobby, a creative outlet and something I loved. I still do love it now, but here's lesson number two - real life can get in the way!

I assume it is the adjustment that needs to be made when you move to a new town, in with a partner, starting a new job, thrown in with a weekend going back home for birthday celebrations, which has stolen me away from tending to this online space of mine. I come home and feel too exhausted to even turn the laptop on, let alone spill my thoughts onto paper. Oh and talking of paper, driving everywhere means that I spend little time on trains which means less time putting pen to paper for non-work related activities. So there's a little explanation of where I have been. I would imagine that my routine will form soon enough and that will make time for blogging, yoga, exercise and other things which have taken a back-seat.

So what else have I learnt about moving out of home? Well, mostly that parents do an amazing job managing work, life worries, organising and cooking meals, making packed lunches, doing the washing and ironing, owning an ironing basket in the first place, owning a hoover, using a hoover, knowing how to do basic plumbing, knowing how to dry a bath mat, taking care of more than one person and doing all of it everyday without fail. Wow.

But also that it is hugely exciting to know that you can learn to do all of these things, and more, yourself too. Things become second-nature, your skill set widens, your interests diversify...I wasn't anywhere near as interested in dish-drying racks ever in my life as I was trying to find the perfect one during week two of living here!

Also, there's a lot of paperwork involved in moving house. Keeping a folder handy for filing important documents and knowing where to find them is super helpful in those moments when you realise you're an "actual grown-up" now and it's your responsibility to pay for things that come out of taps and plug sockets. Get your favourite stationery involved so it feels less boring :)

More specifically, I'm having to get used to seeing a whole new level of road-kill in these countryside-ish ends. Blerrrrrrgh...not a sight I'm used to in London. Plus it reminds me every morning of a documentary I once watched in which I learnt that some people actively look for road-kill to eat for their dinner. Blerrrrrrgh again.

I suppose that leads on quite nicely to another major lesson I've learnt - and this may shock you so brace yourselves - there is a world outside London!! Growing up in one place, loving it and then leaving and not knowing if you'll ever go back is a daunting thought and one which I tried not to entertain too much prior to moving but crept into my head from time to time. Living away from the bustle of the city is somewhat of a shock to the system - as is the size of the "big" supermarkets (tiny, for the record) - but I am beginning to appreciate tranquillity and not queuing up for 15 minutes in each shop, not striding down the high street willing people to move out of your way because you are on a mission, nor being on a mission because quite frankly what's the constant rush all about? Sure, I miss the variety and choice of food, entertainment and people in London, I miss my family and friends, and I will always consider London to be "home home", but starting a new little life here, with all the humongous changes and (un)anticipated challenges, with M, quite frankly feels like one of the best things I have ever done.

And whilst that doesn't take away existing hardship, it certainly feels like a nudge in the right direction, which is the last little lesson I'll leave you with - if you can create a positive space in which you feel safe, whilst accepting that change is inescapable, then that's a pretty good foundation for whatever you decide to conquer next.

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sunday Round-Up

Hello from my new town! It is a weird feeling no longer living in my family home and being away from most of the people I know....in fact, ALL of the people I know minus 1 (albeit it a very important one). It feels different to moving away for university but it doesn't feel permanent yet. That'll probably take getting into the swing of things with the new job et al but so far, so good. It took precisely five people, two cars and a transit van to transport all of our stuff down here. That should probably read *my* stuff, since M's possessions were limited mainly to a couple of books, a chest of drawers and his clothes (not packed, just carried in the aforementioned drawers). Since the weekend we have acquired a lot more joint belongings, such as bed sheets, a giant straw laundry basket and a toaster. I've been busy getting to know the area this week, doing shopping and sorting out admin before my real job starts next week. I hope to be able to continue writing here as I usually do, although that may be less frequent to begin with than I would like. Anyway, without further ado, here's my Sunday round-up....

This week I have been....

Assembling :: flat-pack furniture

Buying :: bits and bobs for the new flat and work clothes

Eating :: with M each evening - what a treat! Also tried Five Guys for the first time, having heard such mixed reviews prior to trying. I really enjoyed it! Bit expensive (same kind of price as you would pay for Patty & Bun which is the superior burger...of all burgers ever, followed closely by Honest) but the chips are awesome (and you get loads), you can pick which burger size you'd like and the drink options are simply incredible. Yep *incredible*...

Drinking :: mixtures of all types of Fanta flavours; litres of tea

Reading :: a book about yoga, "Coming Up Roses" (Cath Kidston's business story) and a book about women and the suffrage movement

Having a love/hate relationship with :: not having wifi  in the flat! It is lovely to have more time to read, talk and play chess, but it has meant several trips to the library to sort out house admin.

Booking :: train tickets all over the place

Considering :: birthday plans

Enjoying :: having plants in the house...just a little Ikea one and a mint plant for the moment. Flowers are next on the list!

Please leave any tips for being a newbie in the workplace in the comments below! Hope you've all had a marvellous week - let me know what you did this weekend :)

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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

London // Rise 46, Clapham

You're all lovely, loyal readers (thank you, thank you, thank you!) so if you're a regular you'll probably be aware that I moved out of home over the weekend! Gulp!

In amongst all the organising and packing, I managed to get my closest friends together to have a "Leaving London" party. The venue of choice was a lovely little 1920's inspired cocktail bar, Rise 46, a short walk from Clapham Junction station.

From the Rise 46 website
You can watch Gatsby here!
I'd been in contact with the bar to book a small area for my party and I just need to make it clear how kind and accommodating Rise 46 staff were from start to finish. When my search for the perfect venue began, I e-mailed a handful of bars to enquire about booking and whether any events were happening etc, and most places seemed pretty half-hearted about it. I suppose they know that on a Friday night they are likely to be busy regardless of whether they have a booking like mine. Rise 46, however, answered all my questions, didn't require a deposit, didn't stress me out over a minimum spend, made me feel like they'd love to look after us and replied to all e-mails promptly and politely. A massive tick already before I'd even set foot in Clapham.

When we arrived, we were greeted by Sergio - a brilliant barman - who showed us our area and a complimentary bottle of Prosecco. Loooook...!

There were enough of us to make it feel like we weren't cut off from the rest of the bar, especially as the staff were so attentive. Before long, crowds of us gathered around the main upstairs bar as we had spotted sweetie jars...the intrigue hit all of us and before we knew it, there was a multitude of popping candy, lollipops and fizzy bubblegum bottles being shared around. I mean, just take a moment to think about that - you've got a huge jar of one of the most delicious cocktails you've ever tasted, and in the jar's lid you've got an abundance of sweets (and good ones too). Are you not sold on that alone?!

If you needed even more convincing that this is no ordinary bar, did I mention that they have a popcorn machine too? You're just handed little bowls of freshly made popcorn every now and again, amplifying the fun experience tenfold. You must be sold now, right?!

We were blown away by the range of cocktails Sergio made for us and the speed with which he did it. They were honestly amongst the best cocktails I've ever had - really carefully and skilfully crafted. It has made me want to learn how to make them just as well. Mojitos are usually my drink of choice but I don't think I even had a single one that night, on account of there being so many other delicious choices. If you don't believe me, take a look at the drinks menu here...how do you even know where to begin?! (Answer: sweets. Always the sweets.)

Photo of us sourced from Rise 46 website

Other handy information ::

You must try their :: porn star martini - seriously good.
You'll be dancing to :: all the types of tracks you want to hear on a night out, and live music on certain nights if you're lucky
You'll be surrounded by :: happy people
You'll be blown away by :: how yummy the cocktails are
You won't stop talking about :: the sweets and popcorn!
You can get :: 20% off your drinks on weekdays if you sign up to be a friend of Rise 46
You can find them at :: 46 Battersea Rise, London, SW11 1EE

On the "Leaving London" front - as sad as I am that I have left my favourite city, I am pretty excited to be able to adventure in a new part of the country and explore pretty little places I don't even know exist yet. Thank you to my friends for being such wonderful company and to Rise 46 for really looking after us - it was the perfect send off!

A huge thank you also to my friend Anj who kindly helped me out with photographs for this post. Pictures on a night out are tricky with the iPhone! Apologies for the graininess...do any of you take your SLRs out with you to bars?

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

What to do with Instagram photos {+ a little offer for you}

God knows how many folders full of pictures I have sitting on my phone, iPad, laptop, memory sticks, external hard drive. Slowly but surely I am beginning to realise that as fantastic as it is being able to take a gazillion photos and store all of them on a neat gadget, by forgetting or not getting round to printing them I am effectively devaluing the photographs. What's the point of them being tucked away on a device, only to be seen on a screen when or if I remember that they are there?

Like many, I took part in the 100 Happy Days project and chose to record this via Instagram. It made me think about the photographs that I took each day and how I shot them - resulting in some nicer than usual pictures I think as they had thought behind them.

With all of this in mind, I am making a more concerted effort to print my snaps and with the 100 Happy Days project, in particular, have a physical record of the little journey of happiness (or, you know, what the project symbolised personally). A quick scour of Twitter suggestions led me to a business called Inkifi who kindly gifted me a mini photo book full of photos that I could directly upload from my Instagram account to their website.

I'd never really tried printing Instagram photos before but having built up quite a collection of them, I hadn't quite figured out where or how I wanted to display them so this photo book was an ideal solution. I envisaged popping it onto a bookshelf in my new flat, changing the page it is open on every now and then. You know, the kind of prop that visitors take a peek at when they pop over and you yourself enjoy looking through a million times over.

First impressions ::

Inkifi are a pleasure to work with - polite, helpful, prompt - and their products are evidently of high quality. As you can see in the photographs, the picture quality is lovely and the paper is pleasingly tough too. I like that they have developed their original roots in photography and web design and applied their passion to a newer medium too. Even more of a plus that they use environmentally sustainable materials.

What I love ::

i. that I have my recent favourite Instagram shots all in one physical place

ii. that I can flick through the book and look at the photos as though I am seeing them for the first time because having them off-screen is WONDERFUL

iii. that delivery was super speedy and free of charge

iv. the simplicity of the idea

v. the brilliant quality

vi. the community feel of Inkifi's website (oh and they have a blog!)

Two little things that I wasn't expecting ::

i. the book is smaller than I expected but then again I'm not really sure what I was basing my expectations on...perhaps the size I wanted them to be rather than any concrete facts. Not really too much of a problem, however, as I'm just used to its size now.

ii. the order of the photographs didn't match the order I'd chosen them in on the website which, again, isn't the end of the world, but did mean that a photo that I didn't really want on the front on account of me being in a hospital bed is on the front. Upon ordering, I had arranged the photos in an order that meant something to my little journey through the last year or so, but you know, it's not a huge problem - the book still looks lovely and serves the same purpose! Not a deal-breaker, but perhaps something to definitely check with Inkifi when you order with them, (and you definitely should order with them...stay tuned for the offer at the end!) especially if you are giving the book as a gift.

If you too are looking for lovely quality Instagram prints, I would highly recommend Inkifi's range of products. As I mentioned above, delivery worldwide is completely FREE of charge. The photo book featured in this post can contain up to 50 photos. They also do huge posters, magnets, square prints, greeting cards and other bits and bobs. I think all of their products would make lovely gifts.

 :: Offer ::

Tempted? Perfect - Inkifi have kindly offered Fill My Little World readers 20% off  so just enter "bee20" in the discount box when you order. Wonderful!

Let me know what you usually do with your Instagram photos and if you order anything from Inkifi :)


As mentioned above, the photo book was kindly gifted to me by Inkifi but all context is genuine and all views are obviously my own! 

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Taking Stock #11

T A K I N G // S T O C K

Making :: lots of lists of all descriptions

Cooking :: infrequently
Drinking :: cocktails, iced tea, water
Reading :: "Everyday Sexism" by Laura Bates; "Instructions for a Heatwave" by Maggie O'Farrell
Wanting :: things to go well
Looking :: at beautiful sights in Spain and the Basque Country; for a new flat
Playing :: endless games of "would you rather..." whilst wandering Valencian streets
Deciding :: on where to move to!
Wishing :: for the usuals
Enjoying :: exploring new places 
Waiting :: for move-in day!
Liking :: getting up and being able to do whatever we fancy that day whilst abroad
Wondering :: what I will do living in a county that doesn't have a Wasabi branch
Loving :: "The Visitors" at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao - oh my goodness
Pondering :: how feasible it would be to start learning the cello given how awe-struck "The Visitors" left me
Considering :: whilst in Barcelona, on a scale of 1-10, how awful it would be if we didn't have a flight home (answer - minus 1294814910)
Watching :: "Child Genius"; "The Great British Bake Off"
Hoping :: it's all good!

Marvelling :: how awesome brunch options in Barcelona are
Needing :: furniture
Smelling :: sun cream, seafood
Wearing :: dresses, long skirts, Sketchers everywhere
Following :: Cath's blog
Noticing :: more PR e-mails
Knowing :: my way around the Ikea website pretty professionally
Thinking :: overtime 
Feeling :: excited, content, sad, nervous
Admiring :: beautifully peaceful locations
Sorting :: through all of my belongings
Buying :: microfibre cloths, a vase, a double duvet, work clothes
Getting :: excited, stressed
Bookmarking :: recommendations in Spain; kettles; mattresses
Disliking :: ends
Opening :: good luck cards
Giggling :: so much at the concept of a Haim tribute band called Hm (who just hum)
Snacking :: on peaches
Coveting :: bed frames; trainers
Helping :: people with things I know about
Hearing :: the most gorgeous, tear-inducing exhibition at the Guggenheim - see above...this will probably get a post of its own soon enough given that I have mentioned it so many times in this post alone.


Are you also taking stock? Find previous editions here and the original source here.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Travelling with Airbnb

You'll all know by now that I've recently got back from a trip around Spain and the Basque Country. Lots of people have asked whether we stayed in hostels but actually what we did was book accommodation through Airbnb. Not enough people knew what we were talking about so I thought I'd put together this little guide to travelling with Airbnb to show you how brilliant an experience it can be...

What is this Airbnb you speak of? Is it like booking a hostel?

Airbnb is a website where people who have a spare room in their home can advertise it as a place to stay for visitors. In exchange for a nightly rate (which is very often cheaper than a hostel), your trip becomes a great deal more authentic as you get to stay in a local's home, naturally learning more about the culture of your holiday destination and picking up some excellent recommendations for eating, drinking and exploring. For us, it was a brilliant alternative to hostels. During our last European adventure, we inter-railed and stayed at hostels the whole trip, which was a great experience for meeting other travellers, but what we loved about the Airbnb experience was that we had more space and freedom as well as being able to get to know our hosts and any other guests they also had with them.

Somebody's home? As in, going to stay with a STRANGER? Isn't that a bit unsafe?

Airbnb is pretty good at the security side of things. They get hosts and guests to verify their identification online, for example. Sure it was a bit weird the first time we did it as, yes, you are effectively going to stay with a stranger, but the way the website works allows you to see photographs of the hosts and their homes on their profile. Plus you get to see what their interests and hobbies are, what they do for work, and they get to see the same for you, so you never know you may end up making some friends!

The other great thing is that after a stay, each party is encouraged to leave a review of the other which is then visible to anybody looking at the host or traveller's profiles. So you can generally get a feel for the type of person the host is and whether you would be a good match.

You can also see which area the home is in - plug the address into Google Maps and take a peek on street view to figure out if it's the type of place you would like to stay in.

Sounds pretty good. How much time did you spend with the hosts though? Doesn't it get a bit invasive and awkward?

In some instances you will be sharing the property with the host and in others you may have an entire apartment to yourself. All of ours were live-in hosts.

Some hosts are more hands-on than others, but the majority of ours spent time chatting to us each day, suggesting places to eat and sights to see. On the night of the football World Cup final, we had just arrived in Mallorca and our hosts showed us a non-touristy spot for some tapas and beer, and in the end stayed and watched the game with us. It was a fantastic way to get to know the place from the viewpoint of a local (needless to say that Mallorca's party/Magaluf reputation overseas was very saddening for them) and to visit restaurants, cafes and bars that we perhaps wouldn't have had the confidence to stride into.

At another Airbnb stay in Mallorca, we were lucky enough to play with the hosts' naughty little puppy whenever we had the chance, and the hosts shared such interesting insights into their way of life. It was such an eye-opening experience getting to understand how the locals live.

In terms of privacy, all of our hosts respected our space and made us feel as though we could use their home as our own. Naturally, it did feel like we were staying as guests in someone's home so we were on our best behaviour but like I say, they were all kind and encouraged us to make ourselves at home.

Ultimately, like most social exchanges, people will generally reciprocate your behaviour so if you wanted complete privacy then I'm sure that would be respected, but to me that is a wasted experience.

Do you only get access to a bedroom and bathroom?

Not necessarily. Some stays include use of a kitchen and/or communal area. Just check on the property's profile.

When do you pay? Is it expensive?

You pay at the moment you book but the host doesn't receive the payment until after the stay. It is generally cheaper than a hotel and mostly even cheaper than a hostel (especially in Western Europe) but obviously prices fluctuate depending on season/local events.

All in all, I couldn't recommend travelling with Airbnb more. It was an awesome way to meet people and stay in some really beautiful accommodation. I loved that we stayed in streets that were more residential, but only a stone's throw away from the touristy stuff if we wanted it.

Oh and by the way, I have written this off my own back - no affiliation with Airbnb whatsoever - just really enjoyed the experience!

If you've stayed in Airbnb accommodation, what did you like about it? And if not, do you think it is something you might try?

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Barcelona // Brunch in Barcelona

My summer holiday this year was a little trip through Spain and the Basque Country with M. We started in Valencia, flew to Mallorca, then to Barcelona and then zipped to Bilbao and San Sebastian. I found all of those places very beautiful for different reasons but when asked which place was my favourite, I find myself saying "Barcelona" without even taking a moment to think about it.

Brunch in Barcelona may perhaps initially strike you as an unlikely concept but trust me, it was one that featured very highly on my list of things I love about Barcelona.

Top three spots for brunch in Barcelona //

1  ::  Federal

2  ::  Caravelle

3  ::  Taranna

What I realised very quickly about Barcelona is that it is a very cool city. The people dress well, they have vending machines which sell headphones and the dogs are just top-rate. How fitting then that there are hip places for brunch - a scene which has taken over London like Cosmo takes over my keyboard every time I begin to blog (he was here a second ago) but given its frequency nowadays it is a bit laborious finding somewhere that is actually EXCELLENT as opposed to "meh, that filled me up I suppose".

Within a 15 minute radius of one another, a rather marvellous little walk nearby the apartment we were staying in will provide you with my top three options in Barcelona. I could have quite happily eaten in all three every day for the rest of my life if need be - oh, what torture - which is quite handy as they also do lunch/dinner too.

Which of these looks yummiest to you? Where is your favourite place for brunch where you live?


This post is dedicated to Sally from The Cafe Cat who is a fountain of exciting knowledge and without whom finding somewhere to stay in Barcelona would have been a great deal more stressful. 

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Friday, August 15, 2014

"Feminist Fridays" with Clear The Way

We all know that blogging is super and brings a host of opportunities that you would never have imagined when you first started out, right?

If you're a long-term reader of Fill My Little World or one of my favourite types of reader i.e. the type that goes back to old posts to figure out how all these ramblings came to be, you'll know that it kick-started properly (after older, half-committed attempts) after a period of illness a few years ago. It was my own personal project to focus on the splendid and I didn't realise how fantastic a tool it would be to connect with like-minded individuals.

You'll also have picked up on my interest in voicing opinions but not quite knowing how best to do so to do them justice - as explored here and here - so it is with tremendous excitement that I introduce you today to a blog which is new to me, but probably not new to many of you (on account of its marvellousness) - Clear the Way by Kate.

Kate has managed to find a way of creating a positive space to encounter feminism in an objective way. Each week, Kate asks a question - how do you deal with.....? As I explained to Kate herself when expressing my gratitude that she had cracked this code that had been troubling me, I find it so significant and utterly brilliant how she curates a platform for feminism and related issues to be discussed accessibly and relevantly. It has been a wonderfully enriching experience reading past entries and I'm so happy that we are able to talk about these things that are affecting us daily. Projects like this and Everyday Sexism are steps in breaking down barriers to discussion and give me hope that progress can continue to be made.

Step this way to see my thoughts on how to deal with negativity and disapproval surrounding feminism. Needless to say they don't stop me from trying.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Morning" on Creative Countryside

So you know when someone, something or a situation gives you freedom to do whatever you want and you initially think "oh my goodness, this is great"? It turns out that that stage doesn't really last that long before you realise that there's so many options you actually don't know what it is you want to do. Kind of like when there are too many ice-cream flavours to choose from in Amorino, or when you don't know which of the two dresses you've tried on and absolutely love to buy so you end up leaving both (anybody else work by that logic too?!). Kind of.

Anyway, Eleanor of Creative Countryside is currently on a holiday (hopefully having a lovely time!) and, in her absence, she has kindly asked whether I would write a post for her blog. Eleanor's blog sees such a lovely variety of posts with incredibly beautiful photos (you know the ones that just make your day shinier? Like that) and thought-provoking musings. She gave me licence to write about ANYTHING I wanted to and, of course, I just couldn't pick, especially when there are so many things I would love to write about on here that I probably will never get a chance to (I didn't realise that house-hunting is such hard work!!). In need of a stimulus, I turned to Eleanor's suggestion of "morning". I jotted down the first thoughts that came to mind.

If you click here, you can have a read of what I came up with. Let me know what you think and go and leave Eleanor some wonderful messages to return to - we all love that post-holiday "yay, I've got letters" feeling!


PS. Seriously, moving is stressful. Send tea!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Authenticity" and Tori's Tales

Dartington Hall, Devon

Today I have the pleasure of appearing on Tori's Tales to take part in the wonderful Tori's Quotes series. The series is one which I have been following since Tori created it in March this year - it reminds me of the words of wisdom I find on Pinterest on a weekly basis (how great that I have cut that down to weekly now, instead of "hourly"! A round of applause for me!). How funny that we take them at face value most of the time. I very often read those quotations and either identify with them or not straight away, based on gut instinct and natural reactions - I rarely stop to dissect the quotation to figure out if I REALLY agree with it or not. Tori's Quotes is one of the first opportunities that I've taken to really analyse something with reference to my own actual experiences, rather than how I feel about it on a snap judgement level. Which is baffling in itself given that I feel like I analyse (or over-analyse) most things.

The quotation up for discussion this month revolves around the topic of "authenticity" and reads as follows ::

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

       - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm a big advocate of being true to yourself and doing things in the way that works for you, not having to conform to the "norm" and being ready to challenge things that aren't quite right without fear of judgement.

What do you make of that in isolation? And how about if you relate it to blogging?

You can find my full thoughts on the matter here, but here's a snippet:

"Don't be fooled that you need to write in a particular way, or set your posts out in the same style as the other blogs you read....don't be afraid to stand out - nobody is interested in copies or clones. Your mind is capable of producing something incredibly unique if you let yourself." 

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Round-up

Good evening and happy Sunday. Sundays used to be the WORST day of the week because I used to spend the whole day doing homework. That seems to have now been replaced by blog and comfort related activities so Sundays are a great day in my book.

This morning, when my Mum poked her head around my door as she usually does each morning the first thing I said was "I'm so glad to see you!" because last night I had the second dream in about a week that I was participating in The Hunger Games. Last time, my dream's plot was fairly true to the book's storyline, but this time it had been tweaked a bit and we were transported into outer space and onto another planet. Having said that, I've only read book one (and not seen the films either) so don't tell me if I've just pre-empted how the story develops beyond the first part!

Anyway! Recently, I have been...

Looking at :: potential new homes! House-hunting is a unique mixture of stressful and so much fun - any tips for moving house? Also, somewhere fun to have cocktails in south or south-west London on Friday night - suggestions much appreciated for this too.

Getting excited about :: furniture!!

Worrying about :: finding the right place; furniture!!

Wanting to visit :: Marina Abramovic's exhibition in London - have you been? Would you recommend it?

Eating :: peaches; at Turtle Bay in Southampton; at The Oriental in Birmingham; pizza at home and with M

Reading :: Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Enjoying :: hanging out with my sister in her house and visiting the library in Birmingham (check out those panoramics above!)

Practising :: yoga; motorway driving...

What was the loveliest thing you did this week? And tell me, have you had any weird dreams recently?

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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Finding joy and getting stuff done

Spotted in Valldemossa, Mallorca
As I write this, I am sitting in my room with a towel turban on my head. About 30 seconds ago, I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror and did an inward giggle. Do you know the ones I mean? Those discernibly silent laughs which speak volumes in your facial muscles, like someone has metaphorically turned up the volume on your favourite song and your nose and cheeks dance in a scrunched up fashion. Sort of like a crazy smile, I suppose. A crazy smile of a stunned gremlin.

Anyhow, aside from the fact that I almost didn't recognise myself because of the aforementioned creepy grin and hair-drying contraption on head, what I noticed was that this is the feeling I get when the simplest things manage to tap into the blotchy bits of my heart and push them away for a moment (or longer, if I'm lucky). Instead, they make room for a sense of confidence in the fact that a little thing has brightened up my evening.

Today was one of those days where I managed to scoop up all the confidence I could from small joys around me and dish it out in the tasks in order to get through my day productively. It was a huge success! I didn't even realise that's what I was doing until my weird mirror revelation a moment ago.

What I am trying to say is that you can be feeling intrinsically and somewhat permanently broken, sad or consumed on one level but it is important to remember that room for light can exist if only you allow yourself to see.

I hope that if you are in need of a coping mechanism, you haven't ruled out the little things yet.

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Sunday Round-up

A quick transportation back to Paris in springtime

This week I have been //

Reading :: oasis - guys, guys!!! My best friend has started up her blog again!! I can't even begin to describe how exciting I find this - I can now talk about blog-related stuff to another human being FACE-TO-FACE! I'm still wiggling with joy. Anyway, please be kind, have a look and leave some love - Cathy is an excellent writer, a marvellous hunter of fascinating things and the ultimate bookworm so I can GUARANTEE you will come away from her space feeling educated and nourished.

Listening to :: Daughter, Arctic Monkeys, Desert Island Discs podcasts for Zadie Smith (can you believe she wrote the brilliant "White Teeth" aged 22?!? 22!!) and Rankin.

Taking :: Cosmo to the vet for his booster jab

Trying :: to find somewhere to move to

Liking :: Sally's Wonderful Wednesday because I'm emotionally invested in her ability to craft the dreamiest of blog posts // Hayley-Eszti's unique and thought-provoking take on hearing music //  Sophie's collection of photos of two very lovely blogger faces // Leona's heart-warming tribute

Eating :: Ben & Jerry's ice-cream (two flavours at the same time because it was buy one get one free and there's no time like the present), fish and chips whilst catching up with friends

Missing :: being in Spain with M (you can bet your last Smartie that there will be travel related posts up soon!)

Tell me about your week - we must have so much to catch up on!

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Friday, August 01, 2014

52 Lists // Thirty-one

What is "good"? I remember being told in primary school literacy lessons to not use the words "good", "bad" or "nice" to describe objects. We know better adjectives than that, we were told. Yet so many things in the real world are ranked on "good" and "bad". In satisfaction surveys after a hotel stay, in discussions about whether your friend's new love interest is a "good" guy or not, or when someone's "bad" attitude towards something confuses you. Did you get "good" grades? Did you have a "bad" run? I'm guilty of it too but lets not settle and instead endeavour to use better words. 

Anyhow, the list above is of things that were either "good" (read soul-nourishing, peaceful, cathartic, helpful) for me, either because they helped someone else or sorted my life or head out a bit. 


List #31 in the 52 Lists project, hosted by Emma.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Some info for you and a small request from me...

Split, Croatia :: summer 2010

Just a quick note to say that I have finally updated my "About Me" page so please do have a click and a peek if you're interested.

Whilst we're on admin mode, could you do me a small favour? If you wouldn't mind and if it isn't too narcissistic of me to ask, could you please leave me a little comment below saying which types of posts you enjoy most on this blog and what you would like to see more of?

You see, pretty soon I won't have anywhere near as much time on my hands and I'd like to know which types of things I should prioritise for this online space and which can just be scribbled into a notebook.

And whilst you're here, why don't you tell me how your week has been?

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

52 Lists // Thirty

Difficult to write a list like this without sounding too big-headed... However, I am taking it as an opportunity to think about the things that matter to me about myself so as to go forward prioritising those qualities and making the mark I would like to leave or at least what I think I am leaving.


List #30 in the 52 Lists project, hosted by Emma.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

52 Lists // Twenty-nine

The word "favourite" is something I really associate with my childhood. I have countless notebooks filled with lists of my "favourite" things, updated monthly, yearly, whenever I wanted to record a change (or lack of) in my life. Almost like my taking stock posts, I suppose. Anyway, what this association has meant for this list is that I've reverted back to naming books that I probably mentioned on some of these lists from however many years ago, such as "Kensuke's Kingdom" and "Noughts and Crosses". I think this was partly inspired by Jess' post on books which changed her. I think "Noughts and Crosses" is definitely a book that falls into that category - all about equality and love - or at least something that reflects themes that feature strongly in my life these days. Ultimately, my favourite books aren't necessarily ones I have read many times over, rather those that I could turn to at any point and read over and over and extract the same personal meaning and movement as the first time.

What are your favourite books, why and how long ago did you read them?


This is List #29 in the 52 Lists project, hosted by Emma.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taking Stock #10

Sun setting over Richmond

T A K I N G // S T O C K

Making :: words that weren't good enough to win Bananagrams...ahhh!

Cooking :: little, eating out more
Drinking :: champagne, Pimms, squash & lemonade/Fanta combinations
Reading :: "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins and "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell
Wanting :: the holiday to arrive quickly but then go by reallllyyyyyyyy slooooowwwwwwlllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyy
Looking :: for somewhere to live
Playing :: Bananagrams, Balderdash, Articulate
Deciding :: to worry less...
Wishing :: for the same thing as always
Enjoying :: time
Waiting :: for medical things to sort themselves out
Liking :: SUMMER
Wondering :: if the next couple of months are going to go as quickly as I am dreading 
Loving :: importing breathing techniques from Pilates/yoga into everyday life
Pondering :: how
Considering :: what to keep up and when
Watching :: Wimbledon, the World Cup (despite disliking football usually)
Hoping :: for a bit of a miracle really

Marvelling :: how much of an impact one person can really make in changing attitudes and where society goes from here i.e. Laura Bates
Needing :: a stronger back
Smelling :: Aussie shampoo
Wearing :: summer dresses!
Following :: adventures on some lovely favourite blogs, such as Sallytangle, Beside the Danube and Life Outside London 
Noticing :: little changes
Knowing :: that there's not long to go
Thinking :: about a million things all at once
Feeling :: collected in the eye of many storms
Admiring :: Laura Bates
Sorting :: holiday prep
Buying :: accommodation for the trip, summer clothes, many meals out
Getting :: closer
Bookmarking :: this video about "make-up", this article about a girl's amazing work experience discovery, Megs' beautiful photo-shoot and this article highlighting where women's speech stands in social situations
Disliking :: weakness
Opening :: windows and doors on account of the sunshine
Giggling :: pretty much all night at the Law summer ball
Snacking :: on fruit
Coveting :: Airbnb places...
Helping :: out with food shops
Hearing :: Chet Faker, James Vincent McMorrow, London Grammar, Chvrches


Are you also taking stock? Find previous editions here and the original source here.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Round-up with a difference

I am writing this in advance so I actually can't tell you what I've been doing this week. Not much a round-up then is it you might be thinking... You would be right.

Except I can tell you one thing...if you are reading this then that means I am currently sitting somewhere extremely sunny in Spain, with a plane to catch this evening again to the next destination. I would expect that I have already eaten a fair bit of paella, acquired browner shoulders and made at least a million embarrassing mistakes with my attempts at speaking Spanish.

I'll be here for a little while, hopefully giving my batteries a thoroughly-needed recharge. In the meantime, if there's anywhere in northern Spain you believe I must visit without fail, then do drop me an e-mail or tweet (see my Contact page) or leave a comment below.

Sending you all the happiest of Sunday wishes.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

52 Lists // Twenty-eight

A lot of things are out of my control so I don't often dream about personal things for my future any more. I feel like I've got to a stage in my life now where the things I used to dream about when I was younger are things that are within my grasp should I want them. That's a comforting feeling but perhaps it's made possible because the things I dream of aren't extravagant wishes after all. The other things I'm after are out of my hands and heartbreakingly so.

So to me it makes much more sense to dream about the wider picture and plant devices and gestures into my own life to work towards getting to those dreams, step by step. I'm pretty sure I'm incapable of achieving any of the things on the list above single-handedly but my hope is that they are also the dreams of many others and if we all make small changes and have conversations to lead to these changes, then perhaps we'll get there eventually.


This is List #28 in the 52 Lists project run by Emma.

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