My Birthday Trip to Oxford | Oct 2020

To celebrate turning the ripe old age of twenty-three, I treated myself to a little getaway in Oxford and had the most magical time. Oxford has always been on my bucket list of UK cities, it is a city dedicated to the influence of literature and good stories, and as soon as I stepped off the train, it felt like I was being welcomed with open arms. The city is designed for wanderers it is so easy to get lost in your thoughts or conversation with a friend and still end up somewhere cosy and familiar. I’d give my left arm to wake up every morning with a coffee and sit reading my book in University Park!

When visiting new places, I make it my mission to find the best places to eat and the city of Oxford excelled! The current 10 pm curfew here in the UK meant that all the eating and the drink started very early, so we got dressed up and headed first for cocktails at Quod and then to this wonderful Italian restaurant called Branca! I can’t recommend this place enough, it was amazing, the Aperol Spritz and Gnocchi were a 10/10! We then finished the night with more cocktails at The Lighthouse, which again was stunning!

The next morning, after a very slow and steady wake up, we drugged ourselves up on coffee and made the most out of the city on a quiet Sunday morning, it was so peaceful. With rumbling bellies, we then took our recovering selves to George St Social for brunch which by no surprise was so good and exactly what we needed!

Now did you really go to Oxford if you didn’t visit a couple of bookshops? I’ll also leave a link to my Oxford book haul here, if you want to check that out!

Blackwells – I only wish that I had a Blackwells near me, as I’m obsessed! I could easily spend an entire afternoon exploring the endless shelves and magical adventures hidden in the pages that line the walls. Plus they had a good ‘3 for 2’ deal on readers favourites, so I had to pick up a few to add to my TBR!

Waterstones – Oxford’s Waterstones stands proud on the corner of Broad Street with its curved windows and grand architecture, making it a proud giant of the high street. With five floors of books, I can guarantee that you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for, or just something that picks your fancy. Although the cafe was closed, it looks like it would be the perfect places to sit and grab a coffee.

The Last Book Shop – One of my favourite things in the world is independent bookshops, and Oxford is full of them! We stumbled upon this bookshop when we were ambling around and I so glad I did as it soon became one of my favourite stores of the trip. If you’re looking for that cosy little bookshop stacked with loads of reasonably priced books, then this place is ideal. I couldn’t believe how cheap some of the books were and I had to stop myself from going overboard

Oxfam – A staple for anyone looking for some pre-loved bargains! There’s plenty of Oxfam’s in Oxford and are the perfect destination if you’re looking for your next read

St Phillips Books – This one is tucked away down a quiet alley and is very easy to miss! Every nook and cranny is filled with books, and it honestly feels like you’ve stumbled into an endless library filled with vintage second-hand books.

The Book Stop – A sister location to The Last Book Shop, this is another cosy and welcoming space that is filled with all genre of books. When visiting Oxford’s bookshops, I recommend to always start with the independents, not only does it help support local businesses but the chances are that you’ll find the book you’re looking for at half the price!

My Trip to the Book Town of Hay-on-Wye!

Hay-on-Wye is one of my favourite places in the entire world. Not only is it a celebrated ‘book town’ that hosts a fabulous literary festival each year, a festival that was sadly cancelled this year due to Covid-19, but it encapsulates the warmth and serenity of any typical Welsh town. To me it’s like a second home and will forever provide me with that little bit of joy. Even thinking about it and all of its bookshops is making me feel all warm and cosy inside. It was also at the Hay Literary Festival where I met one of my all time favourite authors Sarah J Maas, her work has had a huge impact on my life and I look forward to returning to the festival next year.

If you’re a book lover like myself then Hay-on-Wye needs to be on your bucket list of places to visit, its easy to loose yourself in the literary labyrinths of endless shelves and forget about the world around you. Richard Booth’s Bookshop, The Hay Cinema Bookshop and Addyman Annexe and of course the Castle Bookshop are among some of my favourites, as they all welcome you with open arms and house some our most memorable adventures.

After my wanderings around all the bookshops, I grabbed myself a coffee and headed down towards the river where I just sat looking over my purchases and watch the world go by, it was wonderful.

Now did you even go to a book town if you didn’t come back with a mini haul of books? I could have easily bought loads of books, but I’m running out of space on my bookshelf so I only got a couple.

Where I Was From by Joan Didion – As many of you know, Joan Didion is soon becoming one of my favourite authors, there’s something heartbreakingly raw and introspectively delicate about her writing that makes it so magical. So when I saw this book for a couple of pounds, I knew I couldn’t resist.

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – Last year I read Circe and absolutely adored it, so I’m eager to read more of Miller’s work and dive back into the wonderful world of Greek Mythology.

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan – It’s very easy to become overwhelmed when exploring the bookshops in Hay so I always look for my go to authors, McEwan, Mitford and Didion. I’m very proud of my McEwan collection and then I realised that I was missing his new release so there was no hesitation as I made my way to the till point.

Roaming Around Roma – Rome 2019

Going to Rome was the perfect opportunity to channel my inner Lizzie McGuire, and although I didn’t fall for a gorgeous Italian man or perform at some European Music Awards, I did manage to experience all of what Rome had to offer. Myself and two other friends planned this trip a few days after our exam and ultimately our last day of university, and it was the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past three years and celebrate our achievements. We all shared similar ‘must-do’ lists, that included the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, The Forum, The Spanish Steps, The Pantheon and Vatican City, which made the trip very easy and surprisingly relaxing despite the amount of walking we did.

We booked an incredible place through Air B&B that was only a stones throw away from the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican City, a perfect location that allowed us to explore these usually crowed places during the evening. We were also five minutes away from a cosy yet lively side street that was filled with little restaurants, bars and the best gelato place in Rome!

On our first full day we all went on an open bus tour around the city which allowed us to see all the typical touristy attractions with ease. It sounds cliche but it was so surreal seeing the Trevi Fountain and the Coliseum, and its fair to say that I probably took too many photos of both of them! There wasn’t much structure to the trip except a to-do list but things changed when it came to finding tickets to go in the Coliseum, that queue is huge! Luck was somehow on our side and we managed to find a really cheap tour for both the Coliseum and the Forum with one of the nicest and sweetest tour guides in Rome.

After seeing the chaos of queuing outside the Coliseum, we tried planning our trip to the Vatican Museums but everything was super expensive so we deiced to get up early and queue without a tour and only needed up queuing for 40 mins. The chaos, however, was found inside, among the sea people that overwhelmed the endless corridors and exhibits making it difficult to truly appreciate the history of everything. Notre Dame will forever be my favourite Cathedral in the world but St Peters Basilica is a close second. Words can’t describe the grandness and the sensation that overcomes you after entering through its towering doors, if you plan on visiting Rome in the future make sure this is on you to-do list as it truly is breathtaking.

After consuming my body weight in pizza and taking far too many pictures we had to say goodbye to Rome and make our way back to the UK with bags packed with Italian biscuits and memories I know will last a lifetime.

My 21st Birthday Trip to Edinburgh – 12 Days of Blogmas


I’ve been dying to go to Edinburgh for years now and I promised myself that for my 21st birthday I would go and experience this wonderful city and I did! Edinburgh is probably my favourite city in the entire world, everything about it is wonderful, there are so many hidden places and historical aspects that captured my heart so much so that I am now applying to hopefully complete a masters there next year (fingers crossed!)! It was the first trip I’ve taken with my university housemates so I was a little worried about everything was going to go but all of them helped make it such a special trip and we’re already planning where we’re going next!

We stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb right on Princes Street which is right in the center of Edinburgh and was the perfect base camp as it meant everything was nice and close. It also meant that we could cook a few meals for ourselves as well having a well-sized place where we could all chill and have a giggle! We were also really fortunate with the weather and it only started raining as we left, so I’ve got loads beautiful pictures of the city all with clear blue skies!

We were only staying for three days so as soon as we arrived I turned into a serious tourist with a schedule and list of places I needed to visit before we left. On the top of my list was, of course, Edinburgh Castle which was just absolutely stunning and provided some beautiful views of the entire city. There’s just something about castles that I love, the history behind them and even thinking about life when the castle was inhabited has my imagination running wild.

Another place on the list was the National Museum of Scotland that was home to the one and only Dolly the Sheep who was the first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell. I didn’t know what to expect from the museum as was worried that some of my friends would find it boring but we all absolutely loved the place especially their animal and fashion exhibits! We could have happily spent hours there, so if you’re going up to Edinburgh soon then definitely add the museum to your list of stops!

Many of you will already know that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, so Edinburgh was a dream for any Potterhead! There are so many places that have connections not only to the books but also J.K Rowling herself, like the Elephant House Cafe where she wrote the first book! I also dragged my friends around Greyfriars Graveyard to try and find Tom Riddles Grave! One of my favourite spots in Edinburgh has to be Victoria Street which was the inspiration for Diagon Alley and is full of colourful buildings and adorable little shops. Also for Outlander fan,s there’s a lovely cut out of Jamie which is the perfect photo opportunity for any fan!

As for food and drink, I can’t recommend @Pizza enough, its the perfect place for a chilled and hearty meal! Here you’re able to customize your own pizza for a really reasonable price as well as being able to taste some of their delicious craft soda’s. The other place we fell in love with was Tigerlily a stunning cocktail bar that has a beautiful flower wall which was perfect for taking loads of photos!

It was such a wonderful trip and it’s always a good sign when neither you or your friends want to leave!

Places I Want to Visit Because of Books

I finish my second year of University in a week, which is terrifying but that then leaves me with three months to do whatever I want and I am desperate to use this time traveling to different places. This then got me thinking about real places I want to visit because of books and I thought it would be nice to share my list and find out what places you guys would love to visit too!

Paris – Anna and the French Kiss

I was lucky enough to go to Paris for my 18th Birthday and I’ve always had a deep love and passion for the city and French culture. Everything in Paris is just so beautiful and I remember visiting places they talked about in the book, like Point Zéro outside Notre Dame which is where all the distances in France are measured from. It is because of its beauty, culture, and history that I am desperate to visit Paris again and visit some of my favourite tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame. I wrote a blog post about my trip so feel free to check that out here!

Amsterdam – The Fault In Our Stars

If everything goes to plan this year I should be going to Amsterdam early next year with some University friends. Whilst there we plan to visit all the historical places such as Anne Franks House and of course I’ll visit the iconic TFIOS bench and ride a bike around the city because it is such a beautiful and fun city with hundreds of places to explore.

Scotland – Outlander

Mine and Eleanor’s dream is to one day do a trip up to Scotland and visit as many places as possible that feature in the TV show because we love this show sooooo much. I need to visit Jamie’s home, Lallybroch, Castle Leoch and finally, the stones at Craigh na Dun and maybe I’ll be transported back in time to find my own Jamie Fraser!

Hawaii – Everything, Everything

A place I probably won’t be visiting for a while yet, but Hawaii looks absolutely stunning and one day I hope to go swimming and snorkeling in the sea there because it is just so blue and clear. The whole island looks like a magical paradise and I can already picture myself lying in a hammock drinking a large cocktail or glass of wine!

New York (In Winter) – Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

New York is at the top of my bucket list destination wise and is a place I one day wish to visit with my mum and sister especially in the winter with all the Christmas decorations and lights. I’m a country bumpkin but I’ve always found big cities to be really magical and wonderful place despite the masses of crowds and traffic! I’d be a typical tourist and would want to do all the touristy things like visit Central Park and the Empire State building.

An Interview with Francesca Haig

The other day I was given the opportunity to attend an interview and question and answer session with Francesca Haig who is well known for being a previous senior lecturer at the University of Chester, her various collections of poetry and her very successful young adult novel ‘The Fire Sermon’ which has been picked up by Dreamworks to be made into a film. The event went really well and I loved hearing more about her poetry so much so that it now enables me to view it from a different perspective and in an entirely new light.

We began the discussion, by asking who her main influences were when writing her poetry and novels and they included the famous American and confessional poet Anne Saxton, Cormac McCarthy especially his post-apocalyptic novel ‘The Road’ and finally, the English poet Ted Huges. Her response to all our questions was delivered with such enthusiasm and passion for writing, which was one of the things that I enjoyed the most from being able to talk to her, that and the fact that from listening to what she had to say enabled me to gain a deeper and more emotional insight to her poetry.

We discussed mainly her early poetry, which is predominantly confessional and tends to focus a lot on her sister and her sister’s eating disorder especially in her poem Koonya, Tasman Penisula. I’ve never truly appreciated the purpose of line breaks and structure within poems, however, when discussing them in this poem I was able to discover a more emotional and heartbreaking tone as well as discovering a completely different meaning to various lines. So despite the fact that most of her poetry is free verse and isn’t limited to any structure, the importance of structure isn’t less important or exciting. Additionally, Haig has a gift for metaphors and her advice for creating a good and effective metaphor was for it to be different but plausible and you will know it’s successful when people envy your writing!

I wanted to share one of my favourites from her collection and just show off how beautiful and emotive her poetry is. Koonya, Tasman Penisula is a poem about her sister, which focus on the condition anorexia and its impact on the poet as the involved observer:

Koonya, Tasman Penisula

The tide retreats,
the beach exhales its crabs
Translucent, a stranded jellyfish hold
its coloured centre like a
foetus in a lab jar.
We watch the floating gulls
threaded on the horizon

and imagine the safety of distance.
Lying on your back next to me,
your hip bones are the fins
of two sharks circling closely.
Your ribs are the ridged edge
of a stack of plates.
How close we are

to throwing up the
white flag of our palms.
You shift your driftwood legs
and dream of suicide.
We are too
exhausted to deny
the lone tern’s cry.

My favourite line from this poem, in particular, is ‘How close we are // to throwing up / the white palms of our hands’ as from a first reading without the line/stanza breaks it just shows the theme and feeling of surrender. However, if we take each line on its own it presents something much more emotional and meaningful. ‘How close we are’ can be linked with the relationship and the bond her and her sister share and the statement of love. But with the stanza break and the lines ‘To throwing up the / white flag of our palms’ presents the idea of frustration and that the speaker is giving up on her sister. For me, this is the beauty of poetry and one of the things I admire the most about good poets is their ability to evoke various emotions from their work and formation of words. One day I hope I can be as good as them.

This post was a little different that anything I’d done before but I really wanted to share my experience and I’m sorry if it felt more like an analysis than a blog post. Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever read any of her works or what you thought of them.

Our Spontaneous Trip To London


Another post which is well overdue (as you can see Eleanor and I are super organised at the moment) but we wanted to share our experiences and tell everyone about our spontaneous and fab time in London. When I mean spontaneous I really do mean it, as it involved me sending a message to Eleanor a couple days before at 10pm asking her if she wanted to go to London! That night we booked train and theatre tickets as well as freaking out about how spontaneous this all was because we are never like this!

When the day came it was a very early start and started off with a 3 hour train journey which we both spent gossiping and catching up. Admittedly, when in London we managed to get ourselves lost on the tube (that was Eleanor’s fault) but it wasn’t for long before we were back on track.  First stop was Leicester Square which I literally freaked out over because this is where most of the UK premiere’s are held and I am a huge film lover. There we had a quick lunch and enjoyed the sunshine before heading to the theatre. Les Miserables is one of our all time favourite theatre productions so seeing it in London was very exciting for both of us! Although we were right at the back (in the cheap seats) we were able to see and hear everything and didn’t take away anything from the experience. The whole cast was incredible and we just loved everything about it from the sets to the songs.

This is where things get a bit cringe-worthy, as we were seated next to this good-looking bloke who we did get speaking to and he found us very funny with our stupid comments and general behaviour. Anyway, the conversation was beginning to flow quite nicely and soon we moved on to the topic other shows we had watched. When asked her opinion on a show, Eleanor decided to embarrass herself by replying with the comment ‘oh that’s fabbo’ in a very posh British accent; Who on earth says fabbo?!? Well, that was it, when we had both realised what she had just said we were in heaps of laughter and still take the mick by sending ‘fabbo’ to each other! From there it went downhill, we kept jumping at all the gunshots and even debated whether to get £3 ice cream in the interval. At the end of the show, our handsome stranger left his seat in a hurry and we will never know whether it was because of Eleanor and I or the fact he had a train to catch….

The rest of our afternoon was very relaxed as we spent most our time in Green Park soaking up the beautiful sunshine and doing typical touristy things like visiting Buckingham Palace and Nelson’s Column. The journey home, however, has to be one of my all-time favourite journeys as it was filled with hysterical laughter as we looked back at the day’s events.

Overall, it was a cracking day which I’m sure neither one of us will forget and it is easy to say that we both recommend that you go and see Les Miserables because it was just incredible! We also want to encourage our followers to go on more spontaneous trips as in my opinion they’re the best and you never know what’s going to happen!

Cassandra Clare ‘Lady Midnight’ Book Signing


Last weekend Eleanor and I, along with 800 other people queued for over 4 hours to meet the wonderful Cassandra Clare. For those who don’t know Cassandra Clare is the New York Times Best Selling Author of the amazing ‘Mortal Instruments Series’ and was on her UK tour for the release of her new book ‘Lady Midnight’. I will link our review here on Lady Midnight which Cassandra Clare actually read, which we both seriously freaked out about!!

Her signing was in Birmingham and Waterstones had already announced that the queue would start at 3pm with the signing at 5pm, so we popped into the Handmade Burger Co. for lunch (it was delicious!). It was bang on 3pm when we arrived and the queue was HUGE!  So far not so good.

However, we were able to meet some lovely people when queueing and it turned out we had so much in common and made the 4 hours waiting in the queue go a bit faster. We all had such a great laugh together and it felt like we had known each other for years so I highly recommend that if you attend a signing make friends with the people around you! When it came to the end of the signing we were all pretty upset that we had to go our separate ways but don’t panic we had each other social media and we plan to all meet up again soon!

We finally met Cassandra Clare and she was lovely! She had a brief conversation with both of us, asking Eleanor who her favourite character was (she replied Magnus! Good choice) and discussed our newly found friendships with me! Both of us got ‘Lady Midnight’ signed as well as one other book stamped with the angelic rune which looks pretty cool! Overall we had a fab day filled with excitement, laughter, and friendship!

My Trip To England’s Largest Bookshop!


Yesterday my brother took me on a birthday trip to London! The predominate reason was to go and see the West End show ‘The Book of Mormon’, however we had a spare hour, so we went to Floyles, the biggest bookshop in the UK!

This was hands down the most beautiful bookshop I have ever been in, the 8 floors just held rows upon rows of books for me to peruse, I could have been there a lot longer than an hour! One of my most favourite aspects of this bookshop was that it was so open and bright, as you walked in you could look up and see very floor, accommodated with a massive skylight! It was go pretty, and the smell wasn’t bad either!

There were also loads of wonderful quotes painted on the walls, one of my favourites (as seen in the photo that was really badly taken) was ‘Welcome book lovers, you are among friends’ it was so simple yet really quite touching. I also noticed when I was there that there were loads of special editions of books, I don’t know if this was because it’s a very famous bookshop, but one that caught my eye was a signed, first addition of Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare! If I didn’t already have a copy then that would have gone straight in my basket!

I seriously need to return to Foyles with a lot longer than an hour to spend in there, and I would seriously recommend any book lover to visit if you’re ever in London, it’s situated on Charing Cross Road, but I shall leave a link to the google maps HERE.

I hop you enjoyed this different kind of blog post, and please let me know if you have ever visited Foyles or are planning to visit!


Little Me in Paris – Paris 2015

Paris Blog 2

This is something a little different to what we normally post however I really wanted to share my experiences and travels with everyone so I thought I would do a blog post on my recent trip to Paris! I recently turned 18, and as a surprise I was whisked off to Paris for three days. It was my love for French and Francophone culture which inspired my parents to take me to Paris and it was amazing to see and learn more about the famous landmarks in Paris.

My trip began with an early start on Wednesday morning where we traveled down to Luton Airport and flew over to Paris. As soon as we got off the plane, we were thrown into an action packed day! First step was to get tickets for the metro which is the underground train system in Paris, and I was able to practice some of my French speaking! Our first stop was Notre Dame and the flower market!

Notre Dame is one of my favourite Parisian Landmarks just because it is so beautiful both inside and outside. It’s grand and gothic architecture left me speechless and it was interesting to learn more about it’s history. Outside Notre Dame was ‘Point Zero’ marking the exact spot from which all distances from Paris are measured, which I only knew about thanks to ‘Anna and the French Kiss’! This is one of my favourite books at it was again really nice to visit places mentioned in the book! I also thought it would be nice to visits the Bridge of Locks where people put locks on the bridge to symbolise their love. Ah it was so romantic! 

After this we went and vistied Luxembourg Gardens which again was stunning. Another thing I loved about Paris was it’s parks. It is a very small but important element and really helped show the true beauty of the city. It was lovely to see all the autumn colours come to life among the trees and take a seat to relax away from the bustling city. The evening soon approached us and we headed back to the hotel to change and then go out for dinner. We found this small but lively restaurant along the high-street and for the first time ever I tried snails and I liked them! I will certainly be ordering them again!

The second day again started nice and early with a trip to the Arc de Triomph. Though it was relatively foggy the next morning it didn’t stop us seeing all of Paris when we climbed to the top! I was certainly bigger than I expected and it was great to watch different cars manoeuvre around this tricky round about!

We then wondered down the Champs Elysee and marvelled at all the beautiful boutiques and designer stores like Louis Vutton and Gucci. After a long trek down the Champs Elysse we reached the Place de Concorde and the Louvre. Though we didn’t go inside it was nice to grab a quick picture with the famous glass pyramid. Next stop was the Sacre Coeur. 

Located at the top of a hill, Sacre Coeur looked like something out of a fairy tale and the views from its doors was even more break-taking! By now the weather had improved immensely and you were able to see the whole of Paris! It was nice just to wonder around the small streets or sit and watch the world go by as sellers, artists and tourists filled the market square.

On the final day, we saved the best till last; The Eiffel Tower! Again it was another early start as we wanted to try and beat the queues but this wasn’t the case! When we arrived the queue was huge but it didn’t take long for it to move and soon enough I was standing on the Eiffel Tower looking over Paris! We were so lucky that it was another perfect day with blue skies and we were able to see everything! We did go all the way up to the summit and Oh my it is very high! I had to restrain myself from shouting ‘I’m the king of the world’ with my arms held out wide because that is exactly how I felt! After three amazing days it was time to fly home and as we were flying out at night we were able to see not only Paris but London all lit up.

This was one of the best trips of my life and I can’t wait until my third year in University where I plan to spend my year abroad in France! Hope you all enjoyed this little blog post and I hope I’ve inspired many of you to visit Paris!