My Life

More personal ramblings.

T is for Travelling

I love travelling and seeing new places. For me, the holiday does indeed start in the airport – probably because I buy at least two books every time I’m in Duty Free! I like crossing off another country off my bucket list, or visiting a famous city. I’m not a fan of lying on the beach so I love holidays where I’m seeing new places, going to museums and getting the culture of a place.

I’ve been lucky enough to have visited a fair few countries over the years thanks to family holidays and school trips. I went to Moscow and Saint Petersburg when I was in college on a History trip, I went to Dubai over ten years ago as we had family friends living out there and the south of Spain is my home-from-home as my dad has lived there for fifteen years.

Recently I’ve come to love the idea of long weekends away, just three nights in a city and cram everything I want to see and do in that time. I’ve done that in Budapest and Prague with friends and the other weekend I was in Oxford for a friend’s wedding and then stayed a few days to see the city. My next few days away is going to be in May when I’m visiting a friend studying in the Netherlands. I think that’s where I’ve been lucky so far, I’ve had a lot of friends and family living around the world, or friends who also like travelling on a budget, so it’s not been too much of a hit on my bank balance any time I’ve been bitten by the travel bug.

I love to travel but it is always nice to come home to my own bed.

S is for the Spanish National Team

I am British (half English and half Welsh if you want to really get into it) but I’ve been supporting Spain’s national football team since 2007. That was when England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 so as my dad lived in Spain, I decided I’d support them for the tournament. I didn’t know I’d fall in love with the players and their style of play and ten years on would still be a huge fan. Supporting a national football team, especially one that’s not your actual nationality, can be a bit tough and stressful but it’s still a lot of fun.

I suppose I was quite lucky really. I started following their games and learning more about the team as it was on the rise. Spain won Euro 2008 in a 1-0 final against Germany, Fernando Torres scored the winning goal. He and David Villa were amazing throughout the tournament and it was the start of my love for Villa, a man who’s gone on to be Spain’s top scorer, and Iker Casillas, Spain’s goalkeeper and Captain – some of his saves were magnificent.

Spain went onto win the 2010 World Cup. I watched the final in my dad’s local bar and it was a tense experience – especially with how dirty the match was – but the reaction when Iniesta scored in the final minutes of extra time was worth it.

There was a tonne of expectation placed onto Spain at the start of Euro 2012, if they went on to win it they’d make history by being the first team to win three tournaments back to back. And win it they did.

There’s so many great things about Spain’s team during their golden era. The midfield was made up of Xavi, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso and they had complete control of the field. The defence of Puyol, Pique and Sergio Ramos was brilliant, Puyol would keep them in check and if anything did get past them Iker Casillas was in goal. Their style of play with the tika taka, keeping the ball on the ground and lots of short, quick passes had a big effect on the game of football and how other teams played against them. Some think it’s a boring way to play but I enjoy it because it shows how well connected the team is.

Spain crashed and burned at the 2014 World Cup but they did better at the Euros last year. Players are retiring and new ones are joining the squad, there’s a new coach and a new captain, but I will always continue supporting Spain.

P is for Red Panda

I love red pandas. They are my favourite wild animal (my favourite animal in general are dogs) and just seeing a picture of them puts a smile on my face.

I think the first (and only) time I’ve seen a red panda in real life was at Central Park Zoo in New York. They looked so cute snoozing in the trees and I instantly fell in love. They are such weird creatures when you think about it. They are very distantly related to the giant panda and while it’s stiped tail is a bit like a racoon it’s not really related to them either. I love it when animals, or nature in general, doesn’t really fit in the boxes we humans try and put it in.

I think red pandas are some of the most chill animals around yet they still get over excited or super surprised by little things – there’s the video of a red panda in Japan seemingly showing off to a rock which is adorable. I think that’s one of the things I like about them so much, they are a very gif-able animal – in fact there’s a Buzzfeed article of “The 27 Best Red Panda GIFs Of All Time” if you ever need something to make you smile.

Fun Fact: I had to get a cuddly red panda from the shop at Central Park Zoo because I’m a big kid and I named it Boris after the nice taxi driver we had that day.

N is for the Ninja Book Swap

The Ninja Book Swap is run by Bex and it’s a wonderful gift giving thing that happens a couple of times a year. It’s so much fun! You sign up saying you’d send someone a book (or two) and some gifts and then you get given that person’s wishlist and a list of their likes and then you go shopping for their parcel. Another, different person gets your details so you’re not sending to the person who’s getting a gift for you. I may have explained that terribly but it’s super fun.

I love taking part in the Ninja Book Swap. I think I’ve taken part four or five times now (it usually happens a couple of times a year) and I love figuring out what to get someone based on their likes or fandoms, and I love looking through someone’s Amazon wishlist even though I usually end up finding so many more cool books I want to read. I am one of those people who really enjoys buying people presents so the swap is perfect for me and my love of sellotape.

It’s also great because it’s open internationally so you get to meet new like-minded bookish people from across the world. While it is just a Christmas swap BrokeandBookish hosts a Secret Santa gift exchange every year which I’ve taken part in twice now. I think I just love the idea of buying books for people, learning about their tastes and not knowing myself what will be coming through my letter box. It’s a lot of feel-good fun.

The last round of Ninja Book Swap was closed to just past participants in the swap because things went a bit crazy for Bex but hopefully it’ll open up for everyone again soon.

M is for Museums

The Ashmolean Museum

I love museums. I love learning about old artefacts and seeing things from different countries, cultures, and times in history. When I went to New York a few years ago, me and my mum spent over four hours in the Museum of Natural History! That’s the longest I’ve spent in any museum so far.

Last weekend I was in Oxford and while I was there I went to three of the many museums around the city. I went to the Ashmolean Museum first and I loved how the museum was set out, it was bright and it had different areas for different countries and time periods. I also went to the Natural History Museum there which was super cool – I love it when you can touch certain exhibits (because I’m a big kid) and that was available there – and the Pitt Rivers Museum which is the fullest museum I have ever been too. It was a fascinating place and it’s crammed full of artefacts from different cultures and I especially liked all the various weapons and armour it has, from swords and knives to pistols and semiautomatic weapons.

The thing I love about museums is it’s one of those places where you’re not seen as weird if ou go there on your own. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with doing your own thing but sometimes you can feel a bit uncomfortable doing traditionally social things on your own – but not with museums! They’re a place of learning and reflection and you will get relatively few weird looks if you just sit and stare at a painting for a while. I have to say I’m not a huge painting/art gallery fan, I much prefer looking at “things” from past civilisations, but some paintings are certainly eye-catching.

In a couple of weeks, some of the boys at the school I work at are going on a trip to the Natural History Museum in London and I’ve been asked to be one of the designated adults on the trip and I’m so excited! I’ve never been there before so I think I’m going to be geeking out more than the kids!

L is for London

I love London. I went to university at the end of the Metropolitan and Piccadilly line so was less than an hour away from central London for four years. It was great. Even though I’ve always lived about an hour and twenty minutes’ train ride away from London, I never used to go up there that often till I was at Uni. Now some of my best friends live in London so I’m often heading up there to see them for the weekend.

While at Uni I’d go shopping on Oxford Street, head to Westfields for the day, go to see films at the BFI film festival in Leicester Square, and I’d just love to wander around the streets and find new and interesting things. I think my favourite place in and around London (so far) is Soho, I just love wandering those streets and finding cool shops or cafes, though Uxbridge still has a weird yet special place in my heart as it was my home-from-home for four years.

I used to work in London, kind of in between Old Street and Farringdon, and a couple of times there was a tube strike so I’d walk from London Bridge to the office and it was really nice crossing the river, and seeing the everyday parts of the city I wouldn’t normally see when sitting on the tube.

I love doing touristy things in London and I love seeing and doing the stuff only locals know about. I think it’s great living so relatively close to a capital city. I can go to shows in the evenings and still get home, I can go out with friends and then get the last train home. Not to still a phrase from Hannah Montana but living a bit over an hour away from London really is the best of both worlds.

F is for Feminism

I am a feminist. I believe in the equal rights and opportunities for both women and men, it’s something that should be common sense but often isn’t. There can be problems with feminism or with white feminists who tend to forget about women of colour or trans women but I firmly believe that as a movement it will get better as more people become aware of the problems and try to fix them.

I think feminism, and feminists, can be flawed but everyone is still learning and can improve. I love reading feminist literature from different writers to get different peoples points of view to help me inform my own opinion.

I’ve read feminist books like Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit and Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates and found them all interesting and anger-inducing (because of the injustices and stupid things talked about) and I have a load of other feminist books on my TBR. I think reading and hearing about other people’s experiences helps you grow as a person and become more well-rounded and even excepting of others.

Saying you’re a feminist on the internet can put a bit of a target on your back but I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing and likeminded people through it. Sometimes I feel saying you’re a feminist is shorthand for saying you’re an accepting person who wants a better society, or at least that’s my experience so far.

In short, I love being a feminist and I love feminism – especially intersectional feminism.