Monday, 19 December 2016

10 things that turn 10 in 2017 | Blogmas Day 19

The year turning to 2017 is going to hit me hard with nostalgia. It's hard to believe that it will hit 10 years since I started secondary school - 2007 honestly feels like it was only a year or two ago. I couldn't fathom that some of these things were released a decade ago, so I thought I'd share some of the most shocking.

1. These catchy songs

Shut Up And Drive and Umbrella by Rihanna. Big Girls Don't Cry by Fergie. Girlfriend by Avril Lavigne. Hey There Delilah by Plain White T's. Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood. Thnks Fr Th Mmrs by Fall Out Boy. The list is endless, but 2007 was a great year for music.

2. Some great films

Again, 2007 was a fantastic year for films. Ratatouille, Enchanted, Bridge to Terabithia, Hairspray, Blades of Glory, The Simpsons Movie and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix all came out a decade ago. 

3. The iPhone

A decade ago, the first, revolutionary iPhone was released. In 2016, the iPhone hit over a billion sales. It's difficult to comprehend that it was released a mere 10 years ago and today, it's a huge part of so many people's day-to-day lives.

4. Keeping Up With The Kardashians

Apparently, this show was first aired in 2007. So, happy birthday Kim K and co. TV series that also began in 2007 include Gossip Girl and Mad Men.

5. Tumblr

Every hipster's favourite social media platform was created in 2007, giving us a decade of memes and an entryway into mainstream blogging.

6. Pokemon Pearl and Diamond

This game was the inspiration behind this post. Recently, I've started re-playing Pokemon Pearl and I can't believe that Pokemon Gen 4 came out so long ago.

7. Lots of other great games

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Halo 3, Assassin's Creed and Tomb Raider: Anniversary are amongst the games that were released in 2007, which seemed to be a particularly fantastic year for gaming sequels.

8. Some viral videos that are still well-known today

Leave Britney Alone and Charlie Bit My Finger both turn 10 in 2017.

9. The anniversaries of some celebrity deaths

Anna Nicole Smith, Pavarotti and many others unfortunately passed away in 2007. 2017 also marks 10 years since the horrific Chris Benoit murder / suicide.

10. Scooch representing Great Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest

One of the most iconic Eurovision entries of all time. Scooch may have placed 22nd out of 24 contestants, but they remain legendary with their song "Flying the Flag".

What are some of your most memorable parts of 2007?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The top 4 books I read in 2016 | Blogmas Day 18

This year will go down as the year I sucked at reading. I read half the number of the books I read last year and I even struggled to update my Goodreads, so anyone who follows me on there will think I did even worse than I did. I'm entirely blaming my busyness this year - my reading started to slack at the time of exams, then I worked lots through the summer, then I moved, and my reading has only recently picked up. I did read some great books this year, though, so I wanted to share them like I did last year. 

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

This novel is a mystery, which is a genre that I don't often tip my toes into. I really enjoyed this though! It's fast-paced, but not too fast that you get lost with the plot. It follows the kidnapping of a baby while her parents are at a dinner party next door, and the point of view flickering between characters makes it difficult to work out the full story before it's revealed. I'd recommend this as an introduction to mystery novels, or as a book that's quick, riveting and very engaging.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

If I had to choose one favourite book this year, it'd probably be this one. "This Is Where It Ends" takes place over a period of 45 minutes and four different points of view, and it is based around a shooting in a high school. It's horrifying, but it's one that you need to keep reading to find out the conclusion. 

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson writes typical young adult, romance, cheesy books which I'm usually not a big fan of, but this was a guilty pleasure. It's everything I should have hated but it's cute and well-written, so I have to admit that I loved it. I loved the characters and how current it is without being cringy.

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

I've re-read this book so many times since reading it for the first time this year, and I can never get enough. I thought it would be a typical dystopian, but I was blown away. In this world, there are forced marriages between the rich and poor sides of town, and a girl is brought up by her father to marry the President's son so that she can assassinate him. This one is seriously underrated - I much preferred it to more popular books it's compared to, such as The Hunger Games. I need a film adaptation of this asap.

My copies of these books are sprawled between Scotland, France and my two kindles so I wasn't able to gather them all for photos, but give them a Google - or better, search them on Goodreads. They're all well worth your time and money!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Oh, Christmas tree | Blogmas Day 17

My mum's Christmas tree is always perfect. It has a colour scheme of white and gold and everything matches. It's perfect. In contrast to this, my tree is messy and there's absolutely no structure to it.

My tree is purple and this is around the 13th year that I've had it - next year, I might invest in a new one because it's rather wonky nowadays. I used to decorate it in solely purple and silver decorations, but as I've gotten older, they've been replaced by various snowballs, bows and the odd Disney decoration (over the past couple of years, I've bought a Disney bauble each year with the hope that, one day, I'll have a Disney filled tree).

I'll leave you with those photos of my fave baubles - and yes, I'm well aware that this blog post is a bit crap. I've just been super busy catching up with people and rediscovering Pokemon Pearl since returning home, and I really love Christmas.

Friday, 16 December 2016

The Christmas tag | Blogmas Day 16

I'm not usually a person for tags, but what is Blogmas without a cheesy Christmas-y tag to get in the festive spirit?

tbt to when I worked at a santa's grotto

1. What is your favourite Christmas film?
The Greatest Store in the World! They used to play it on CBBC in the run-up to Christmas, and it's become one of my traditions to watch it at least twice for every December.

2. Have you ever had a White Christmas?
I think I have a couple of times, but not in memory. It's usually a very icy day rather than a snowy day.

3. Where do you usually spend your holiday?
At home with my parents and brother. It's even more exciting this year because I've been away from home for three months!

4. What is your favorite Christmas song?
Anything traditional. Or anything Buble.

5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
Yes! Christmas Eve is the time to open any presents from friends and my brother. We also give my parents their presents on Christmas Eve.

6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Cupid, Vixen, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph.

7. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
Honestly, just spending time with everyone, eating lots of food and relaxing with my family and friends. I love seeing Christnas markets and doing Christmas shopping - and I always look forward to Christmas dinner.

8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

9. What is your all-time favorite holiday food/sweet treat?
My mum's homemade chocolate trifle. So excited for it!

10. Be honest: do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts better?
I love receiving presents because it's very nice seeing that someone has taken the time and money to give you something thoughtful. Over the years, though, I've become such a giver. I start my gift purchasing in September so that I have time to find gifts for everyone that have some thought behind them, then I spend far too long wrapping them to try and make them look presentable. I also really enjoy the looks on people's faces when they open something that they appreciate! Because of that, I prefer being the one giving gifts.

11. What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
I've been very spoiled by my parents over the years but nothing compares to the year I received my own wendy house for the garden. It was a huge, wooden structure and it was absolutely wonderful.

12. What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
If I had to spend a Christmas away from family, I'd spend it in Disneyland. Imagine Christmas dinner with Mickey Mouse?

13. Are you a pro-present wrapper, or do you fail miserably?
I'm in the middle. I'm definitely not as good at my mum at wrapping, but I spend lots of time on my wrapping to make my presents look as decent as possible!

14. What made you realize the truth about Santa?
My parents told me when I was about eight. The other kids in my class were starting to break the news to everyone, so they told me before anyone else could. I think we all wish that we could have kept the illusion going for a few more years.

15. Do you make New Years resolutions? Do you stick to them?
Yes, I wrote a post about my resolutions here! I suck at sticking to them, but I try every year.

16. What makes the holidays special for you?
Having time to relax with family and friends. Everyone spends so much time working that it's nice for them to get a few days off to enjoy festivities. As I keep saying, it's all much more special this year because I'm living so far away from home. 

Let me know your Christmas traditions and what you're most looking forward to in the comments!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

A Christmas-y day in Bruges | Blogmas Day 15

Over a month ago, I was browsing cicevoyages for any interesting, upcoming trips when I spotted a cheap daytrip to Bruges. I've only ever visited Brussels in Belgium, and I adore it, so I jumped at the chance to get a direct coach from Lille - despite being at the top of Belgium, Bruges is only an hour's drive from Lille! We should have been a group of eight on this trip - however, Jess P ended up having other things to do and Luke fell ill the morning of the trip and couldn't make it (we missed you guys though!) so we were only six - Lauren, Jess R, Julia, Julia's two university friends Josie and Lucy and me.

When we arrived in Bruges, the bus dropped us slightly outside of the centre and we walked about 20 minutes to where everything is. The further we got into the centre, the more I loved it. Bruges is very Flemish and its architecture and style reflects its Flemish roots. The buildings were very quaint and I wanted to take photos of everything!

We started our day with lunch in a lovely little bar/restaurant just off the Grand Place (Jess' recommendation) where we ate far too much chicken before exploring the Christmas markets, which were very lovely - especially the numerous stalls selling handmade Christmas decorations! We were supposed to be going to an ice sculpture festival, but it was cancelled due to a high security risk. Instead, we spent the day wandering around the city, as it's a beautiful place to get lost in, and visited lots of chocolate shops. Earlier in the day, the group split up, and the other group discovered The Old Chocolate House, a lovely tearoom with the most exquisite hot chocolates so we had to follow their recommendation and visit later in the day. My hot chocolate was a huge mug of hot milk with a cup full of chocolate drops to pour in and melt. It was one of the best hot chocolates I've ever had!

I'd recommend a trip to Bruges to anyone, simply because it's one of the most picturesque places I've ever explored. I can't wait to return (Jess, Lauren and I are adamant that we'll get the chance to go with Luke). It was also so nice getting to spend the full weekend with Jess. She lives in a town outside of Lille so she can't always come to events and meet-ups, and it was just the loveliest thing having her stay for the weekend. Can't wait to see you after Christmas, Jess!!

As usual, I'll leave you with a selection of the 100+ photos I took. Bruges is so beautiful that I barely put my camera down.

the chocolate shops were divine

one of the nicest buildings.. and it's a zara

can't go to belgium and not have a kriek

the shops are so quaint

christmas spirit (we still can't work out what the symbol to the right is)

some of the most beautiful christmas shops are in bruges!

christmas things were everywhere

apparently some of jesus' blood is in this church

a man was blasting huge bubbles in the air in one of the squares, we stayed for too long watching/popping them

seriously bubbles everywhere

jess looking cute

watching a chocolatier make chocolate christmas baubles


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Tell the world I'm coming home | Blogmas Day 14

Today's post will be a little one, because as this post goes live at 6pm GMT, I'll be on a plane to Glasgow!

I left for Lille at 5am on the 15th of September, and I'll arrive home at around 10pm on the 14th of December. That means it's been basically three months since I've been in Scotland and seen my parents, and I'm very much looking forward to being home for a couple of weeks.

It's definitely been the quickest three months of my life and I can't quite believe that I'm halfway through my time in France. I feel like I've definitely taken advantage of where I'm living and I've really settled in. The next half will be spent travelling, attempting to perfect my French and spending time with some of the amazing friends I've made here.

And I'm excited for it.

See you in January, Lille!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

9 things I didn't realise I'd miss about home | Blogmas Day 13

France is wonderful. Home is also wonderful. There are things about home that are wonderful that don't exist in France.

 1. The wonders of the British high street. Gregg's, Boots, Poundland. Cheap and cheerful places to find things. Also Card Factory, because as Jess pointed out the other day, card shops don't exist in France and the only place to find Christmas cards is Carrefour for 5€ apiece.

2. The Scottish accent. And Scottish words. No one understands Lauren and I when we're "beeling" about something, or if we say something is "bogging".

3. On that note, not being foreign. Being Scottish here either results in a reaction of wonder or disgust. It's hard to tell if I'll be greeted with "I love your accent!" or "I hate Glasgow / Scotland / the Scottish accent" (thank you to the lovely English girls in Bruges who talked shit about the Scottish)

4. The Christmas build-up. The festive period here has been lovely, full of lights and markets. However, there's nothing quite like Christmas adverts and hearing cheesy Christmas songs on the radio.

5. Wetherspoons. Driftwood. Places to go for a cheap pint. Drink here is much more expensive. I can usually go out to a bar and spend less than a tenner - here a tenner would get me a drink.

6. Food from home. I touched on this in another post, but things like Cadbury's chocolate, sausage rolls, nice bacon, square sausage, good fresh rolls, so many unhealthy foods that are great but just don't exist here. French food is excellent, but it's not like food from home.

7. Some of the things I'm most interested in just don't exist here. For example, there are no drag shows or wrestling shows; two things I love seeing when I'm at home. Glasgow is such a varied city, full of different arts and performances, but it isn't as huge here.

8. Polite people. At home, people let everyone get off the train / bus / Subway before stepping on, but here it's pretty much a free-for-all. I never realised that the stereotype of mainland Europeans not knowing how to queue was so accurate.

9. Being busy on Sundays. Aside from bars, everything is closed on a Sunday. I spend most Sundays inside planning lessons for the week ahead because there's not much else to do.

As I said, I'm super happy with life here. It can be difficult adjusting to certain cultural things, though.