Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A little look back and a long look forward


Whatever happens in life, there is one thing that is always certain - time keeps marching on. We keep on getting older (and wiser), we keep on going to work and sleeping and looking forward to things, we keep having birthdays and time keeps passing second by second. There's nothing we can do to stop it. So we might as well embrace it.

I try not to look back into the past too much...I mean, it's fine to reminisce about schooldays every now and then but I never want to look back to the extent I start analysing it or regretting it. Because I think having regrets is a little ridiculous.

Every decision you make, you do so to the best of your ability at that particular time. You make a decision based on what you know then. It's no good looking at that decision ten years from now and regretting it because of something that happened later or things you have learnt since. You had no way of having all that information when you made the decision and therefore it's all irrelevant. We can only make the best of the situations we are in right now.

This is what I tell myself anyway.

 2015 has been one of those funny years where I don't feel like much has happened but I have been constantly busy. I have been to the theatre plenty of times and saw several musicals for the first time that are now ranked in my top 5. I visited America for the first time and I became an aunty. All very exciting things (that I did write blogposts about so make sure to check out the theatre and travel tabs).

But this year has also had a bit of upheaval in it too. I have had three jobs and had to move back in with my parents. I wrote a blogpost about that too (that you can read here) and despite not being overly thrilled about it, I know it was the right decision. It has given me the opportunity to really think about my life where I can decide what's important and what I can aim for.

And this is what I want to concentrate on now. What we should all concentrate on. We shouldn't just look back at the past, we should look to the future and what we are going to achieve next.

For me, 2015 hasn't been a flashy year filled with jobs that are 30k a year or engagements of any kind (I swear this is all that I read on my newsfeed these days!) but it has been an important year all the same. I have set some balls rolling in various aspects of my life that, as we enter 2016, could potentially lead somewhere very exciting. This is what I love about the new beginning of each year - the possibilities are endless, if we use the year in the best way.

And I am determined that 2016 is the year that everything I want to happen, WILL happen. I have spent long enough preparing - I am determined for it to be a success.

So on that positive note, I will say my final words of 2015. Thank you my lovely readers for sticking with me throughout the ups and downs, silliness and rants of 2015. I hope you all have a wonderful new year and I shall see you in 2016.


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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Blogmas - The Man Behind the Myth


Everyone knows Santa. At least I hope you do. Surely you must do...he's the most famous man on the globe. Yes, even more famous than Kanye West or Barrack Obama or Benedict Cumberbatch. He's the man who brings hope and gifts to children everywhere. You know, the old one, in the red suit with the beard as white as the snow we always hope for on Christmas day.
But he wasn't always old! In fact, once upon a time, little Nicky Claus was a young boy.

A lonely little boy. No brothers, no sisters, not even a friend. He lived in a tiny village somewhere in the freezing cold wastelands of the very north. And all he had to keep him company was a smelly old dog called Rudolph.

They would often go walking together throughout the village and the surrounding woods. As he went, Nicky would wave at his neighbours who all smiled and waved back. They all adored him. He was sweet and polite and they felt faintly sad that he had no friends his own age.

To try and make him feel happier they would often give him gifts. A pair of shoes from the cobbler, a warm cake from the bakery and seeds for his vegetable garden from the general store. Other families might give him a piece of wood they had carved into a figure, or a new collar for Rudolph or a cup he could use every day. He was so sweetly grateful in response that they would give him more and more gifts until he barely knew what to do with them all.

One day, he had reached the woods on one of these walks. It was a freezing cold day in November and he was wrapped up warm in a coat and gloves and a hat. But it was beautiful too. The snow glinted in the trees, reflecting the pale winter sunlight so it danced around in front of him. He crunched onwards, looking up all the time and was so engrossed by the beautiful winter scene that surrounded him, that he barely noticed where he was going. Before he knew it, he realised he had tramped further into the wood than he had ever done before and had no idea where he was.

He didn't panic though  - after all, Rudolph was with him - and instead he pressed on. As he walked deeper and deeper into the wood, he become more entranced by the nature around him. Until suddenly, the trees became gradually thinner and he was out the other side.

Below him, at the bottom of a fairly steep hill, was another village that looked very similar to his own. He and Rudolph approached it cautiously, nervous of what they might find. Or who they might find. They'd never met anyone from outside their village before.

As they entered, Nicky noticed a little girl sitting on the ground.
'Who are you?' she asked 'I haven't seen you before!'
'I'm Nicky. Who are you?'
'I'm Donna.'
There was a pause as she looked him up and down.
'You came from the wood' she said at last 'Do you live there?'
'Of course I don't. I live in the village over the other side of the wood.'
'There is no village there. And the woods are dangerous, everyone says so.'
'No they're not! I can show you if you like.'

She agreed so Nicky led the way back through the wood and showed her his village and everyone who lived in it were so happy that he had a friend that they started giving her gifts as well.
'Wow!' she cried 'Thank you so much! I have never been given a present before!'

Throughout the next month Nicky and Donna (and Rudolph) became the best of friends and were barely seen apart. They often played in the woods and she introduced him to lots of other children who lived in her village.

Nicky found out that none of them had ever received a gift either. So, one day, in late December, he and Rudolph to decided to plan a surprise for them.  As normal, all his neighbours had given him gifts. But instead of using them, he had stored them away in a sack under his bed. And very early one morning he set off through the wood.

He walked on and on until he reached the other village. Normally when he reached it, he would find Donna immediately and they would go somewhere to play together. Not today though - it was still so early so she was probably asleep. He wandered the village alone and by every house he left a little present on the doorstep for one of the children. Something they needed. Shoes for the child who always went without, a cake for the boy who only ever ate bread, a brand new collar for the girl who was always chasing after her puppy and so on and so on, until all the children had something.

He knew how wonderful it was to receive a present and from that day forward he vowed no child would ever go without again. And so it all began...

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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Blogmas - The Carols Updated

It's the second of my Blogmas Posts that I have been writing this month and for today I thought we would take a look at Christmas Carols.
 

*Sighs Contentedly* Aren't they just one of the best things about Christmas?

I love singing and I love the wonderfully upbeat songs that follow us around during November and December. But if the whole 'Baby it's cold outside' thing is anything to go by (if you don't know what this Thing is then Google Funny or Die's re-enactment of it and you will see what I mean) then they are not entirely relevant to our times any more. I mean, do people actually watch their flocks at night any more? And do modern children actually know what a manger is?

Therefore, being the kind and helpful citizen that I am, I thought I would rewrite a few of the carols to be more appropriate to the modern age. See if you can work out which carols I have decided to update...

Single Now
Single now, single now, single all the year.
It is no fun to have no one to share this Christmas cheer.
Oh...Single now, single now, it kind of makes me mad.
No one there, to form a pair. This really is quite sad.

Dashing through the bar, Shouting for a drink
Then into a car, trying not to think
how alone I am, at this merry time.
I know there's a man somewhere out there for me to find.

Oh single now, single now, better luck next year.
I will have fun with anyone who happens to appear.
Oh single now, single now, I shall find him soon.
He'll be hot and love me lots and sure to make me swoon.

12 completely unattainable gifts
On the 12th Day of Christmas dear Santa brought to me:

12 months of holiday
11 famous friends
10 million pounds
9 private jets
8 maids a-washing
7 non-rainy days
6 days in bed
5 diamond rings
4 stretched limos
3 mansions
2 cute puppies
and a man who loves me dearly

Party Night
Party night! Drunken night!
Alcohol has blurred my sight. 
Round the pubs in the town we all go
Drinking steadily, gently and slow. 
Till we pass out on the ground! 
Till we pass out on the ground! 

Party night! Drunken night! 
We stay out late until it's light! 
Sun shines down on to our face 
Then it's time to go back to my place 
To sleep off the hangover 
To sleep off the hangover 

O Christmas Eve
O Christmas Eve, O Christmas Eve,
the best day of the year.
O Christmas Eve, O Christmas Eve,
I am so glad you're near.
In ev'ry home, there is a tree
and lights and gifts and food to eat.
O Christmas Eve, O Christmas Eve,
You're here and the Day is soon.

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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Blogmas - 22 Things to Love About Christmas


This is my first of three blogmas posts that I have spent the entire month of December preparing. So make sure you check back every day in the lead up to Christmas, to see what I have come up with in celebration of this wonderful time of the year.

In today's post I have been thinking about what exactly makes Christmas so perfect. And, as it is 22nd December, I have come up with 22 answers.

1. Christmas Lattes
The only thing that makes saying goodbye to Pumpkin Spiced Lattes bearable, is saying hello to all the Christmassy delights that Starbucks, Costa and the rest offer. They are all full of sugar and terribly bad for you yet they taste so so good.

2. Adverts
For a long time the Coca Cola advert and its red truck has signalled the beginning of Christmas. But now the John Lewis advert has almost overtaken it in popularity. These mini films barely even seem like adverts and they always tug at the heart strings. The rest of the major companies try to keep up too. This year I think I actually preferred the Sainsbury's depiction of Mog (beloved from my childhood) causing havoc.

3. TV
Christmas and new year specials are always the best. I watch more telly at Christmas than the rest of the year put together.

4. Films
These are always heartwarming and make you feel so gooey inside. Arthur Christmas is by far my favourite but no one seems to have seen it??

5. Cosy nights in
With so much good TV on and horrible weather, why would you need to step outside? Better just to throw on your PJs and curl up by the fire, in warmth and comfort. During the summer months, I always feel guilty if I am not out and about, taking advantage of the sun...but Christmas is the perfect time to relax and take it easy while recharging your batteries a little bit.

6. The parties
If you can bear to step outside your front door, there are so many different parties to attend. Work dos and family dos and Christmas drinkies with friends. So many great chances to dress up in sparkly bright colours and dance the night away.

7. Mulled wine/cider
Yummmmmm. That is all.

8. Allowed to drink all day every day
For instance, you can go out for a Christmas drink on a Monday or start drinking Bailey's at 10am on Christmas Day (just me??) During Christmas you don't need to feel guilty about the amount of alcohol you are consuming at all. It's Christmas after all, it's time to celebrate. You can think about the consequences later.

9. Food
And that goes for the food as well. Ah the food! This blogpost could have literally just been a list of all the things that feature in our Christmas lunch. It is all so good and there's so much of it - I swear they consist of about five meals in one.


10. Chocolate for breakfast
Yep that's also a delightful little tradition. Just starts the day off right...

11. Hunting for presents
Now I might be unusual in this respect as I know for lots of people this is the worst thing about Christmas. But I love shopping for presents. It gives me such great joy to think about what they might like and track it all down to make a really nice gift. Plus it's guilt-free spending - you can really spend as much as you want and, for once, the more you spend, the better you will feel.

12. Christmas/New Year sales
Ah sales. I have my sale shopping down to a fine art. I go at about 10-11 on Boxing Day morning. Once the rush has happened and it's slightly calmer in the highstreet. That's the best time to get the best items and I always find something I want, *cough* I mean, need.

13. Shops being busy
Again, I think I might be unique in  this. But something I love about Christmas is how busy the shops get. The whole place is buzzing and people are often so excited. And we feel such an affinity with each other, all kind of sympathetic with how many presents we need to buy etc. It's a much more friendly time at Christmas.

14. Decorations in the town
On top of that, with all the lights and everything, towns look absolutely beautiful. London at Christmas is just stunning.

15. Theatre
Pantomimes, musicals, ballets...so much to see, so little time...

16. Carols and singing
Like Christmas movies, I think Christmas songs (be they pop or traditional) are the best of the bunch. All about love and acceptance and having a good time. They are so upbeat too, you can't help but feel happy when you hear them.

17. Kids' excitement
Have you ever been around kids in the lead up to Christmas?? They just go nuts and it's totally infectious. Teaching in a primary school around Christmas is such good fun although totally exhausting. I have no idea how little people have so much energy.

18. Fashion
Winter fashion is the best, there is no doubt about it. Summer fashion can be a bit bright and brash and make you expose bits of your body you don't necessarily like. But winter fashion is so cosy - chunky jumpers and scarves and warm colours, and boots and thick socks. It's all lovely.


19. Christmas Jumpers
And these had to have their own section - they are just so delightfully hilarious. Every single one brings a smile to my face.

20. Time off
It's always good to have a few days off to relax isn't it? Although it does seem to go a lot faster than I would like...always.

21. New Year
After Christmas Day, some people feel a little bit down. But I'm only just getting started. I love New Year. I normally head abroad to celebrate in a slightly different way every year, but if I don't I am always surrounded by a huge bunch of friends. And I always drink too much and have a giggle of a time. It's all about new beginnings and I always feel so upbeat and positive about it. I have so so many good intentions to have a fabulous year. Every now and then, I even stick to them.

22. Being with your family
I left this until last because it's definitely the most important thing as well as the most delightful thing about Christmas. I have four siblings and we are a little scattered about. So I love the time we can get together to just be with each other. It's perfect. And if none of the other things on this list happened, I wouldn't care, as long as I can spend the day with my family. That's what is truly important.

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Friday, 18 December 2015

12 Things you should know when doing your Christmas shopping


This is the 5th year I have worked in retail throughout the Christmas period but it's the first time I have been in a clothes shop. During the past 3 and a half months since I started at the high end fashion store, I have noticed there are a few little things that really really irritate the staff. And, as we are approaching Christmas, I thought I would share these with you - everybody wants the shopping process to be as smooth as possible in this final mad week. So just you make sure you follow this advice, or you might find your Christmas shopping doesn't go as well as you hoped.

1. If we greet you as you walk in the door it's because we have been told to, not because we are going to jump on you and make you buy clothes
This is a common misconception. All you have to do is smile and say hi back and then walk on purposefully through. We are human beings who are fairly adept at reading body language - we can tell you don't need help without you saying 'I'm fine!' really shirtily.

2. If you mess up the rail I have just tidied, there is a possibility I might kill you
This all depends if you mess it up for a reason. It's perfectly ok to go through a rail if you are looking for a size to try on. But you people who just move the clothes around and then move on - murder may happen. I swear some people do it on purpose - they are on their way out, see me crouching, sorting a rail of clothes, come over, swish it about a bit and then run out the shop. Yeah you'd better run...

3. Ditto with the table
I have just folded a load of t-shirts and you pick up a couple, hold them up and then chuck them back down. I don't like you people either. In fact, I dislike you more. Do you know how long it takes to fold a whole pile of jumpers perfectly!!!!!

4. If all hangers face one way and you place it the other way, we think you're dumb
Are you stupid? It actually takes more effort to hook it across the rail from behind. We try to make it easier for everyone by having the hangers hook on forwards but no no, some people just want to challenge themselves.

5. Politeness is key
If you smile at us, say thank you and don't treat us like dirt, we will do whatever you want. In fact, we will basically be like personal shoppers, running around and finding bits for you. Be rude to us and be warned - most of us do own a voodoo doll and it may be used on you.

6. Don't tell me the products are too expensive
I don't care - I get a 50% discount. But do you think I have any control over the price? At all? Like I can text the CEO and tell them to lower it for you...get a grip.

7. If you are going to stick around until after closing you had better buy something
Anyone who comes into browse at 5.28 may be hunted down and shot....especially at Christmas when really all we want to do is go home and drink.

8. There is no such thing as a cleaning fairy
If you drop clothes on the floor, or spill something, it isn't going to magically disappear. Somebody somewhere is going to have to clear that up. And if it's me, I will not wish you good tidings or a merry Christmas

9. I will not be impressed if you give me a £20 note when you're only paying £1
Did you know torture is illegal? What kind of sick pleasure do you get from watching us scrabble around attempting to scrape together enough money from both tills to give you your change?

10. Flattery gets you everywhere
All those wonderful people who tell me I look lovely or am lovely and slim or lovely and tall...thank you...I am very insecure and your compliments are just what I need to hear sometimes. Especially if it has been a long day and customers have been hell. I will literally do anything for anyone, but I will give it an extra 100% if you are nice to me.

11. We do care
This might not be the same for everyone but I know in my particular shop, we are not going to let you walk out of it unless we have done our very best to help you look amazing or buy amazing gifts. If you look bad, we will (politely) tell you so. So politely that you may not even notice (eg. we would try and find you something else!!). And if we say you look good, it's not because we are working on commission, but because we genuinely want you to be happy and to look/feel amazing. It's called job satisfaction. So don't doubt and question us a million times about our motivation. It gets boring after a crazily busy afternoon...

12. We are people
This may come as a shock to some, but we Product Advisors/Sales Assistants/General Assistants/Fashion Advisors are actual human beings. Not robots, not droids sent from head office to do their business, actual people. Please bear that in mind when you are shouting about something which is out of our control. Or if we make a mistake. Or if our smile is more of a grimace because we have had a horrible day. We deserve the same respect that you expect from us. Yet how many of you give it?

Merry Christmas to you all and may your shopping days be merry and bright this week!

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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Why The Hunger Games is so popular


As you may or may not have noticed, I have been a little neglectful of my blog over the past couple of months. I have definitely not updated it as much as I would like and the posts have been a little shorter than they have been in the past.

The reason/excuse for this is because I have been doing a lot of creative writing recently. Creative writing has always been my passion - ever since I can remember I have been writing stories and poems and novels. But now I am becoming ever more determined to turn it into a career.

Not only that...I am aiming a bit higher than just becoming an author. I want to become a great author. I want to write a great book with great characters (although potentially, if I want to succeed with this, I should think up a few more adjectives other than great...) that will live on long after I am gone and continue to be loved by thousands of people.

This is what I decided when I was in the cinema watching the final instalment of The Hunger Games a few weeks ago. A funny place to be considering my career, I know. But as we sobbed our way through various parts in the last half an hour (you know the bits I am talking about and don't deny you cried too!!) what struck me was we were crying about deaths of people that never existed in the first place. Suzanne Collins had done an epic job at creating such wonderful characters that we cared about them at a deeply emotional level as if they were real. That's an incredible thing to be able to do considering that a few years ago, those characters only existed in her head.

And I want to do the same thing!

There are several characteristics that make up a great book.. The plot of course is important (an addictive one with an ongoing theme to keep you turning the pages is ideal) but what is absolutely crucial, is that the book contains great characters. The main character has to be pretty badass to keep you interested in him/her (and their various antics) throughout several novels and films. But they don't have to be perfect. Far from it. To be relateable and for people to care, they have to be flawed.

As does the villain, because you need to be able to understand why they are acting the way they are. No one is simply evil for the sake of it. They all act in a certain way because of circumstances. As for the other characters, there are a whole host of friends who represent certain personality traits so they can help the hero/heroine in every way possible. And there will be a leading lad/lady to play opposite the main character: Peeta in the Hunger Games, for example. He is there to be the male equivalent of Katniss and so all the girls can fall in love with him.

There are already plenty of brilliant books out there which entice you into beautiful worlds and include amazing people who become extraordinary due to various talented writers. And I am more determined than ever to join that group of authors, producing something which people will fall in love with. I am giving my writing more time than I ever have before. So keep an eye out for this name - because one day I am determined it will happen!!

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Sunday, 13 December 2015

Why I don't go to Stage Door any more


This week I was reunited with the London West End which was absolutely wonderful. I do miss being able to just pop into London whenever I want. It is slightly more of a trek from all the way down on the south coast.

As you can tell from my previous blogpost, I was there to see Bend it Like Beckham which I absolutely adored. I truly had a fantastic time and after it was over, I was debating whether to prolong it slightly longer by visiting the Stage Door to chat to a few of the cast (most prominently Jamie Campbell Bower who is rather dishy!!)

It is not something I have done for ages and, although I was sorely tempted to go and meet a celebrity as well as a couple of theatre celebrities I very much admire, I decided against it. Which got me thinking about why exactly I did come to this decision.

There are a number of reasons behind it. In a very simple sense, it is because I have grown up a little bit. I am not an adoring fan who wants to go and tell them they are awesome (although I am sure that is lovely to hear and I am not criticising anyone who wants to do that! Besides, I often do it on twitter anyhow). When there are a whole load of fan girls all jostling to see THAT celebrity who has been in THAT film, I just really can't be bothered to wait in a crowd of people to have a 30 second conversation with them and a scrawl on my programme.

Secondly, I do feel a bit bad for them. It's the end of their working day, it's late at night (either that or they only have an hour's dinner break) and they have just spent the past few hours pelting around a stage and singing their little hearts out. They are probably a bit knackered and kind of deserve a rest. But no no, we expect them to carry on talking to us. They just want to sleep.

Finally and most importantly, stage door destroys the magic for me. When I am in the theatre, I become so fully wrapped up in the show for those moments, I believe it is all real. I am so focused on the stage and become fully encompassed by the world that the whole company creates. This is why I am so touchy about Theatre Etiquette (do give my article a read if you are unsure how to behave!!) because if any of those rules are broken, my concentration is also broken and the moment is ruined. When the show finishes, I want to stay in that little bubble for a while longer and actually, going to stage door bumps you down to earth a lot quicker than is truly necessary. Seeing the actors as normal people in normal clothes, talking normally without breaking into song every other word, makes you realise that it was all just a story. But if you skip going to Stage Door, you can make that giddy, lovely feeling of joy last for most of the journey home. And that's no bad thing.

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Thursday, 10 December 2015

Bend It Like Beckham


I haven't written any theatre reviews recently. Which is partly laziness, I admit, but mostly because I haven't actually been to the theatre that much in the past 6 months. In fact, I have only been four times since the summer which is UNHEARD OF for me - but moving down to the south coast, and so far away from London evidently has its price. Plus I have a job now...yup...really... (I don't like being a grown up).

After I saw Bend it Like Beckham last night though (which you can buy tickets for here), I was adamant I wanted to discuss it with you all. I have been excited about this musical for a VERY long time, ever since it was announced that it was coming to the West End. I was a huge fan of the film starring Keira Knightley (did that really come out in 2002?!!!! That makes me feel old) so the story was always going to be a winner for me. And, as long as they didn't change it too much, they couldn't really go wrong.

They were very faithful to the story, which was great and I breathed a massive sigh of relief when I realised that they were sticking with it. They included all those little funny moments, which made the film so good.

The difficult part was always going to be the staging of the show though, particularly all the football bits. I was so interested to see how they were going to do it - and I am pleased to report it was very well executed. Sometimes they used lights in place of a football and sometimes they put the football on a string both of which sound a bit naff, but was forgivable due to plenty of actual football skill being included. I was very impressed to see that not one ball rolled off the stage or even where it shouldn't on the stage as it could have done so easily. There was headering, kicky-ups, kicking into a bag of balls (well caught Jamie Campbell Bower!!) and some gentle passing as well as all kinds of training exercises...I think I may be in awe of the fitness of the cast. There was a huge amount of running on the spot and pelting around the stage, more so than in your average musical but they did not let their energy dwindle throughout the entirety of the show. A feat in itself.

They were an extremely strong cast, both literally and figuratively. Newcomer Natalie Dew (playing the lead, Jess Bhamra) shone within the group of jewels and equalled Lauren Samuels' (Jules) slightly more experienced skill. They were incredibly well matched and I enjoyed the progression that their friendship went through. A lot of people come to see Jamie Campbell Bower playing Joe (who is famous for his film roles in Sweeney Todd and Twilight). I think he was potentially the weakest of the cast as his voice was a little thin, but that's not to say he was bad and I enjoyed the suavely arrogant portrayal of Joe he offered.

Bend It Like Beckham is not exactly a sophisticated musical but it is a fun, colourful production with some (perhaps a few too many) catchy songs that are emotive and funny at appropriate moments. It has so much going on you barely know where to look - really really worth a visit.

**This post was sponsored by the lovely people at BoxOffice.co.uk but, of course, all the opinions expressed here are my own =]

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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Book Challenge - Part 5

I have finally reached the end of my Book Blogging challenge, which I have completed in between all the other millions of books I have read. Which is why it has taken me all year to finish Bringing Up Burns' challenge. Believe me, I have read more than 26 books this year.

But here we are on the final part. As always you can read the previous part here and that has links to all the other books in the #26BooksWithBringingUpBurns challenge. I have really loved the books I have read as a part of this challenge and I hope you have liked the way I have interpreted the prompts.

If you have enjoyed the books I have written about and are interested in everything else that I read, make sure to follow me on Pinterest where I regularly update the world with what I have enjoyed recently.

21. A book with a great first line - Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
It took me a long time to decide which book to use for this prompt. In my head, I had many clich├ęd ideas such as Pride and Prejudice or 1984. But eventually I decided on the opening sentence from Far from the Madding Crowd.

So I bet you are wondering what the opening line is. It is as follows - 'When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun.'

This is a very wordy first sentence, I have to admit and probably not an obvious choice either. But I just loved it because it is so positive. They are describing a smile! Is there any better way to start a book than with a beautiful smile? It made me smile.

And I didn't stop smiling for the whole of the rest of the novel. It is an absolutely beautifully written book. Both the descriptions and the dialogue are so entertaining, which I find really rare within classic novels. I find that those authors are good at either one or the other. But Hardy had all areas of storytelling nailed.

I also adored the amount of character progression that you see within the book. At the beginning the main character, Bathsheba is a little bit of a cow. She strings along men and is generally quite rude to those around her, as well as being ridiculously selfish. But as time continues, she becomes more aware of the world and how you should behave. She has responsibility thrust upon her in the form of her uncle's farm and then there are some tragedies plus she herself is mistreated by her husband. So by the end she is a much more solemn and sensible lady, plus she is far far more likeable. And this is when she becomes worthy of Farmer Oak who she then marries.

It is a wonderfully told story, and it has made me fall in love with Hardy's writing a little bit. I must now read more of his - I think the famous Tess of the D'Urbervilles is next on my TBR list.


22. A book with pictures - Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
It's very unusual to find an adult novel which includes pictures. Even more unusual to include photographs. Yet Nick Hornby does it in his latest book, describing the completely fictional adventures of Sophie, a Blackpool beauty who accidentally becomes a leading comedy actress in one of the most popular BBC series of the 1960s.

As I say, it is entirely fictional, yet I guess the photographs and carefully included factual detail (such as political trends of the time, the other series that are mentioned, other comedians etc etc) all make you wonder whether it is actually real. You hurriedly start googling for a Sophie Straw and a series called Barbara and Jim.

Hornby, famous for About a Boy, has this winningly readable style with snappy dialogue and likeable characters. The book isn't actually substantial in terms of plot, yet you really want to know what happens to the characters as they progress through the making of the TV series. It is almost like a sitcom in yourself and you become emotionally invested with the characters and want them to succeed.

23. A book from the library - Lord of the Flies by William Golding
I haven't been to the library for a very long time and even with this prompt I cheated a tiny bit. I actually own this book as I bought it from a charity shop for a pound but it is, in fact, an ex-library book so it does kind of count.

Lots of people read this book for GCSE but I never have and this was the first time I have read it. But wow what an excellent book. The speed of the descent that the boys took into savagery was frankly terrifying but believable. And it does genuinely depict what would happen if the authority figures were ever removed from our society. I don't doubt for a second that there would be an attempt to keep order, but people would argue and everyone would want power and that's when the war would begin.

At the time of publication, lots of people complained about the ending and how, amongst all the anarchy (which is kind of heartbreaking) it is very neatly resolved by the ship turning up at just the right moment. I, however, don't think like that at all. My immediate thought was that Ralph never escaped his attackers and he was killed by them. So the officer who came to rescue them along with Ralph taking charge once more and Jack being reduced to a little boy again, was just his version of heaven rather than a depiction of real events. Golding was far far too clever, and his view of humanity was too perfect, for him to just wrap it all up in a nice little bow like that. And considering the only other good characters were killed, I think it would be very unlikely that Golding let Ralph live and order be restored.

24. A book you loved...read it again - The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Of course it was going to be this book. This is my favourite book of all time and I talk about it a lot. With friends, on Twitter, with random people I meet in the street...

I feel like it has everything - it has romance and a puzzle/intrigue you want to work out. It has such engaging characters and it is unbelievably heartwarming.

I talk about it lot on various booky blogposts and across my social media so I am not going to go on about it here. But I seriously recommend it. Go and read it right now.


25. A book that is more than 10 years old - The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
This only just snuck into being allowed for this prompt as it was published in 2003. But my god, am I glad I read it - it's a beautiful book.

The basic plot is that Eddie dies at the very beginning of the book in a tragic accident where he tries to save a little girl from a falling rollercoaster cart. And then, on his way to the afterlife, he meets five people from his past who can help to explain his life to him.

I love this version of heaven that Albom creates: that you get to meet important people (even if you don't realise just how important they are at the time) from your life and give your life meaning. This can then lead to peace and allow you to choose your heaven where you remain - which is basically the place where you were most happy on earth. It's beautifully done and Eddie goes on such a great journey from being completely dissatisfied with his seemingly pointless life, to being at peace with it and understanding that everything happens for a reason.

This is another lovely idea which Albom promotes throughout the novel - that all lives are interlinked and everything happens for a reason. Which he displays through a simple game of catch that he tells from two opposite sides - one it is just a game, the other it has much bigger consequences that Eddie couldn't have even imagined if he'd tried.

It is only a very short book - around 200 pages which I swallowed in a journey to London and back. But it is absolutely rammed with emotion and it will make you see life a little differently. Which is a wonderful thing to gain from a book.

26. A book based on a true story - War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
This book has been on my TBR list for about a year and came to the front of my mind when the National Theatre announced that the play is closing early next year. So I thought it was perfect for this prompt.

I think A LOT of books are based on real events. Obviously. For instance, if a book is based during WW1 there is going to be an element of truth to it, because the author will do their research to make it accurate and probably base it on the experiences of whoever they find.

This novel was based on a painting of a horse called Joey painted by a Captain James Nicholls. Both of whom are within the book. And although the story may not be true, I love that a portion of the characters are.

It is a very touching story. One of a deep friendship between the main character Joey (who is a horse - I love the unique viewpoint) and his original owner, Albert. They are separated for years and Joey has many adventures on his own both within the British army and behind enemy lines. And I love that about War Horse. It doesn't focus on the British viewpoint of events, but you get to see life in the German ranks too. And that helps us to remember, that they found it just as hard and suffered as many (if not more) losses and hated the war just as much. It is always a good thing to remember that the Germans were humans too and it wasn't their fault that these atrocities happened.

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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Why children should not be allowed on the internet


If anyone was on twitter last Wednesday evening they would have seen that SH*T WENT DOWN (excuse the expression)! It really did.

It all started when a blogger implied that Zoella didn't write her own blog. Now I don't know whether that's true (although lots of bloggers suspect it's true due to a drastic improvement in the quality and tone of her writing) and that's not what I want to discuss. But oh my days were the gates of hell unleashed on to that poor blogger, as torrents of Zoella fans staunchly defended her.

And by defend her, I mean attack anyone who dared to say a single word against her.

It is a lovely thing that Zoella has so many loyal supporters. HOWEVER, if they are going to be as rude and offensive as they were, then I would not be wholly proud of them.

The majority of these fans seemed to be around the age of 12 and female (precisely who Zoella aims her videos towards so I guess that makes sense). I got this information from various twitter bios, but even if this was not available, I could have guessed that myself. They reacted to the dissing of their idol in a suitably childish way - instead of having a calm and measured discussion, they attacked with angry and personal comments about why the blogger was the most awful person in the world to express the less than ideal opinion about Zoella.

This is exactly why children should not be on social media sites.

Some of the comments were downright nasty and completely unnecessary. If any sister, niece, friend or daughter (I am getting to that age where I could be a parent in the near future - although I am not quite the 40 years somebody accused me of being) posted anything similar online I would have a lot to say to them. The kids who were attacking any bloggers daring to discuss the issue, clearly don't have the maturity to understand the implications of the poison that they spread, poison that they would never say in real life and should never be on the internet. They don't understand that behind the computer screen is a real human being with real feelings, being hurt by their comments and, out of sight from their parents or teachers, I felt like they relished the lack of control.

Being an adult, I was able to laugh off the personal insults I received through the Twitter-sphere that evening. They were incredibly mild compared to some that others suffered. But I didn't actually say a bad word against Zoella, it was simply because I was entering the discussion that I was attacked. I knew I was not 40 or fat or ugly and my blog wasn't boring enough to send someone to sleep. But a girl 10 years younger than I, would probably have taken it much much more personally. And could have become extremely distressed by it. Therefore, to protect children, I feel like the minimum age on social media sites should be more heavily enforced.

I know the internet is a huge place and social media can be both good and bad. But that evening I definitely saw it at it's worst. I can now understand just how easy it is for online bullying to take place and this is something we should all watch out for more vigilantly.

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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Don't lose faith


I had a few blogposts planned for this week but after the sad events in Paris and around the world, I felt I had to put something about that here. It wouldn't feel right if I didn't.

The terrorist attacks that the world saw this weekend, and happen far more frequently than they should/we realise around the world, break my heart. It's hateful that humans want to destroy each other, simply for sport and to gain attention for their causes.

However, I am trying not to let the awfulness of a few humans, discolour my view of humanity in general. There is so much good in the world. Good that we often take advantage of. From little things like a bright smile or somebody letting you into a building first when it's raining; to the wonderful people who gave Parisians shelter so they weren't wondering the streets on that dreadful night. From someone saying thank you when you help them out; to the police/firefighters/doctors who save people's lives every day.

Don't harden your heart against your fellow man, and don't wish revenge. Just remember the love. It often takes the worst circumstances to bring out the best in people. But you saw both this weekend. Keep concentrating on the positive and try to ignore the hate.

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Meeting someone very special


No she's not mine unfortunately - she's such a gorgeous little thing, I wish she was. But ladies and gentlemen I wish to present my niece - Lily. At two week's old, she may be one of the cutest human beings on the planet. Scrap that, she is the cutest human on the planet. She was going to turn up on my blog one day and I thought it may as well be now. I can not wait to watch her grow! Now you'll have to excuse me while I go all mushy over her.

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Monday, 2 November 2015

Blogtober/Booktober

All of you who read this blog should know by now just how much I love books. I constantly have a book on the go and keep a mini review journal thing on Pinterest, including all that I have read, am reading and want to read (do give me a follow if you are on Pinterest too).

So, as I announced at the end of September, for Blogtober this year I thought I would combine it with the book bloggers' version of the event - BOOKtober. And, every day for the entire month, I recommended a book on my Twitter. But just in case you didn't catch them or for some reason don't follow me on Twitter (WHY??? Fix that right now here); here is a roundup of all my recommendations.

And just FYI - these are not just any old books. They are the books which I feel you HAVE to experience at some point in your life, either because they are important or just so DARN GOOD. They are the ones you should read before you die....

1. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffennegger.
This is my all time favourite book so of course I was going to start with this one. It is a romance but I think anyone could enjoy it as it's so beautifully written. There are a lot of characters in it and it has a very twisty-turny, plot. It is a wonderful story of people who draw you in and make them care for them in such a huge way. It is highly emotional, especially towards the end and it made me absolutely sob. I think all those reasons should be enough for you to read it right now.

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This is a book unlike any other. It has been described in the past as historical fantasy and that sums it up pretty well. It is fantasy, yet it is set in Victorian times which is a really unusual mixture. The descriptions in this are simply stunning and they draw you into the wonderful world of the circus. Plus there are short chapters and a very intriguing plot which will keep you turning the pages.

3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Another of my favourite books...although it is a really horrific version of racism in 20th century America, it is actually a really light-hearted book. There are some absolutely hilarious bits and the friendship that is portrayed (that was almost on the point of being illegal back in those days) is wonderful. I really love it. And when you read it, you will understand why I took a picture of it around cooking utensils.

4. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Obviously plots are really important in novels. But actually I rate great characters above a great plot. A mediocre plot can be saved if you really engage with and care for the characters. Luckily, this covers all bases. To be honest it's going to, it's Hardy. There are some brilliant characters, particularly the main one, Bathsheba. She is so flawed and just so human. At first I just thought she was a bit of a cow but she grows up throughout the novel, some bad things happen to her and she learns from them to become a better person in the end. The character progression is wonderful and totally realistic too.

5. The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada
This is a very short book, but it doesn't need length. It is haunting and emotive  and really draws you into both the horror and the beautiful friendship that was present within the concentration camps. They went through it together and that's how they survived. That and luck; being in the right place at the right time, keeping your head down and saying the right thing. That's what was clear within this book. The musical parts of the book were particularly wonderful and such a direct contrast from the grey awfulness and cruelty of the camp itself. This book will stay with you for a long time.

6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Another shorty but a goody. You will swallow this book whole and it has some really interesting themes within it. The ending is properly sad but if you are anything like me, you would have noticed how it was foreshadowed by events at the beginning. A wonderful little book, full of fascinating imagery and was such an interesting representation of humanity.

7. Me before you by Jojo Moyes
Moyes is a very talented writer and I feel she is slightly wasted on romantic fiction. But if that's what she enjoys writing, then I am not one to dissuade her. She creates wonderful, believable characters and there is always a surprising twist somewhere in there, which makes it so much more than your average romantic fiction. I have read and love a huge many of her books, but I think this is still my favourite. It is heart breaking at the end, but the story up until then is absolutely wonderful. I am really looking forward to the film coming out next year. Although I don't tend to watch book adaptions (as it normally ruins them) Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin in the leads should do it justice.

8. The Five People you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
I love this idea. Life is so confusing and anything that deals with the afterlife, gives such hope to its readers. But this version of heaven is one of my faves where Eddie meets 5 people who help him to make sense of his life. A beautiful idea and a wonderfully told story.


9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Not everyone gets on with Austen but I am a big fan of most of them. This was the first one of hers that I read and I think it will always remain my favourite although Northanger Abbey comes pretty close. She is the chick flick writer of her age and I love the ups and downs that the characters go through while they try to navigate that old lifestyle. I couldn't even imagine a world where all you needed to do was find a husband.

10. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
I was really lucky that, while I was studying English at GCSE and A level, I had fabulous teachers who inspired my love of literature rather than destroyed it. I studied Gatsby for my AS, and it was the perfect one to read into a little. There is so much imagery and I loved the vivid descriptions of the partying lifestyle in the 1920s.

11. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I do find John Green to be a little bit of an affected writer and his characters are way too wise for their years. But this is a touching book all the same. And I love the fact that it is a different kind of cancer story, centred around the love and positivity that Hazel had in her life, rather than focusing on the fact she is going to die soon.

12. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Someone described last week's recommendations as a 'little bit heavy' (I don't think they are but then again I probably have a better tolerance than most) so I thought I would share a few of my favourite books from my childhood. Starting with this marvellous book. I bet you guessed there would be a HP book in here somewhere. Very few people my age weren't touched by them. This one was always my favourite. It was the first one that I own in hardback so I think it was the first one where I became fully addicted to the series. And I like the fact it isn't too dark as Voldemort wasn't in it. A little bit different and really entertaining.


13. The Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton
Continuing along the boarding school theme, these were my favourite books when I was growing up. I became absolutely infatuated by the idea of boarding schools (so much so I did attend one from the ages of 11-18) and I never stopped reading them from about the ages of 6-15. Loved the characters and the whole setting - it definitely captured my imagination. Which is what a book is meant to do.

14. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My other favourite book when I was a child. I loved this story of the four sisters who had so many mini adventures together. I always wanted to be like Beth, sweet and kind and brilliant at the piano but even back then I think I was like Jo. And I am definitely like Jo now - a writer, who is passionate and loving but with a bit of a temper that comes out every so often. Yup, we could be twins.

15. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
This book is guaranteed to make you slightly addicted. The structure of the book goes 1 2 3 4 5 6 5 4 3 2 1. With each section having a different character. So the only character who's story is written all together is number 6. The rest are split...which means the entire first half is made up of cliffhangers. Each new story, you think you are not going to like the characters as much as the previous one, but you do and then you can barely wait to find out what happens to them all. It's all very cleverly done, not least because each of the characters are linked.

16. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
I studied this for A level and thank goodness it wasn't ruined for me. It is a beautiful and haunting book partly set in the 1st world war. Lots of description, lots of  imagery but also wonderful characters who you just fall in love with.

17. The Diary of a young girl by Anne Frank
When you read about the World War in history books, you read statistics about the number of Jews who were killed and you forget that every single one of them was a real person. Who was murdered for no good reason. Anne Frank's diary goes a little way to humanise those people who were killed. Understated yet brilliant.

1
8. And the mountains echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini is one of my favourite modern authors. He is actually the god of description and every single one of his books touches the heartstrings.

19. The Life and Loves of a He Devil by Graham Norton
There is nothing profound about this book but it is just so darn funny. If you are a fan of him and the show and celebrities in general, you will enjoy this book. It has many a hilarious tale in there and is not your average autobiography.

20. The Commitments by Roddy Doyle
I love Roddy Doyle's books. He has such a laid back style that is so easy to read and this one really made me giggle. He manages to capture human society perfectly.

21. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
This really touched a nerve. The descent from order to savagery seemed quick and very intense and kind of frightening. It was a really astute look at humanity.


22. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
This is a wonderfully written book showing the depths of mental illness. It is an aspect of health not often talked about, let alone represented in literature. It takes a little while to get into the book but it is great and worth persevering with.

23. The Narrow Road to the Deep North North by Richard Flannagan
This has some really brutal parts to it. But also a lot of friendship and love in there too. I disliked the main character a lot, but there are others who you can empathise with a lot more. And you can even sympathise with the torturing prison officials to a certain extent because everyone in there was being controlled.

24. One Day by David Nicholls
Do not dismiss this as chick lit. It is a rather wonderful and A LOT better than the film, which is so often the case. Such an interesting and unique structural idea.

25. I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak
Everyone has heard of The Book Thief but very few people have read any more of Zusak's. I actually prefer I am the Messenger. It is addictive as you try to work out where the messages are coming from and why he has to do this.

26. Boy by Roald Dahl
I grew up on Roald Dahl books. But this was always my favourite. I love that it shows how he first came up with a few of the famous ideas. And you see the boy behind the author. Last year I was lucky enough to be able to read his first ever handwritten draft of Boy. It was a very cool thing to do.

27. The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin
I have read a few of Toibin's and although he is very 'literary classic' he has an easily readable style which I love. This is a great depiction of the well known Easter Story, from a different perspective and makes it extremely realistic. Which is just wonderful. I love it when authors make you think in a different way.

28. Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
This book really affected me when I was read it and that's why I included it here. I couldn't stop thinking about it and at some points it made me feel quite uncomfortable due to the treatment of the main character. But if a book can stay with you like that, it's well worth a read. Plus there is a shocking twist at the end which I didn't see coming!!


29. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Another very haunting book which is wayyyyy better than the film. Beautifully told. Although the central issue is death it's not a downer at all. And it is very uplifting.

30. The picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
We should all read lots and lots of Oscar Wilde. End of.

31. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Along with Pride and Prejudice and Far from the Madding Crowd this is one of my favourite 'classics' and one of the first bits of classic literature I read all the way through (and enjoyed) because I wanted to, rather than being forced to for school. It will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason. Plus the author shares my name, which obviously means I am going to be just as successful as her and be read hundreds of years in the future.

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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Why 'nice' is an underrated word


I'd like you to have a little think for a moment and see whether you can remember those far off days when you were trapped in school. It might be a little harder for some of you than others (not being rude or nothing...but uh....you're getting on a bit now! Only joking - insert sticky out tongue emoji here).

Anyway, sorry got off topic for a second there. I was too busy insulting you. But have a think back and see if you can remember your literacy lessons in particular. What was that one word which you were told you shouldn't use in your stories?

Nice.

You were told over and over again that nice wasn't an acceptable word and you should choose another one. Maybe your character could be interesting. Or maybe they could be smart. Or maybe adventurous. But nice? No - think of something better.

It became a bit of a banned word within school. And over the years, it is drummed into you so much (NICE IS BAD NICE IS BAD NICE IS BAD) that this continues into adulthood as well. Almost like subliminal messaging.

So much so, it's not really seen as good enough if you are simply a nice person.

It makes me wonder whether this is the reason that there aren't that many genuinely nice people around. Or maybe it's because if you are nice, you are often taken advantage of. It is taken for granted that you won't complain about how you are treated and you will always do your best to please everyone all the time. You will keep putting up with the fact that everyone puts others first, and you are constantly cancelled on and let down.

But niceness should never be unacceptable. It is a HUGELY underrated quality that you don't see in very many people any more. This could be because it has been squashed out of people's personalities to protect themselves from dickheads or because they weren't that nice in the first place.

A place where you do find lots of nice people grouped together, is in shops. The people who work there only want to do their best to ensure you find what you need and leave the shop happier than you were in the first place. They are smiley and friendly and wonderfully nice. What do they get in return? A load of crap normally...with people shouting at them for things that aren't their fault.

Humans can be pretty horrible to each other. They say rude things and are selfish and judgemental. So when you do come across a nice one, my advice is hang on to them with all your might. You will need them to help protect you/make up for the waves of nastiness that will crash into you over the years.

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Thursday, 22 October 2015

Starbucks Joke


Let me tell you a little story...

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Charlotte who spent a bit too much time in Starbucks. Therefore, to amuse herself and liven up all those times she was awaiting her precious cup of coffee, she decided to play a little practical joke on the poor assistants within the coffee shops.

And that's how my game began it's life.

Basically, I decided to think up the most ridiculous name I could and see if I received a reaction from the barista who had to write said name on my cup. And I would work my way through the alphabet.

One year on, (I started around November last year) I have finally finished. Hoooooray. Which is just as well, because, now I have moved back to a little town, I am pretty sure they are starting to recognise me.

As you will see, a couple of them are missing pictures and towards the end I ran out of steam. But I hope the little stories attached to each name give you a giggle anyway. And to the baristas who had to write these down, I am truly sorry.


Andromeda - greek mythology - The girl at the till asked me to spell it and she still got it wrong bless her! And the guy who was calling out the names after he had made them, didn't call out mine. I think he was unsure how to pronounce it.

It's actually a really pretty name, if a little bit of a mouthful. I sat down and the polish guy on the table next to me, asked me if I was greek. I said no, but it's just that my parents were really interested in greek mythology. He started to chat to me about mythology, about his polish name and how he always simplified it so people could actually spell it (Thomas instead of Tomasz). And then chatted/flirted with me for a bit longer. A great start haha.

Blodwyn - means white flower - I was actually on a date when I did this one. Just moments before, I had been explaining this game that I started two days ago. So when they asked for a name for our order, the guy I was with turned to me to offer one. I think it was to see if I really would do it. Therefore I said this name to the girl at the checkout who sighed and went...how was it you spelt that?

Chardonnay - wine - The guy hesitated ever so slightly and then asked me how to spell it! So I told him and added 'yes like the wine.' He made no comment though except for 'it's really long!' We then had a chat about how Starbucks didn't offer discounts to the Oracle Shopping Centre workers any more which sucked for him because he didn't get any discounts in the other shops!

Dothie - short for Dorothy - I automatically spelt it for him and he said he was going to spell it with 'tty'! I told him, with a completely straight face, I was special. After I paid he said 'thanks dothie!' And in my head I went 'who?' I need to be more committed otherwise I am so going to slip up! I was good with the first one as I had been planning to do this post for a while before I started the game! We shall see...

Egberta - bright sword - she didn't say anything while taking my name but repeated it with a certain air of incredulity and then couldn't quite hide her smile! Nearly made me giggle and blow my cover so I had to drop my eyes and pretend I was embarrassed about it!
 

Fabrizia - Worker - I was going to do Fanny for this one but I chickened out! So this is what I went for - pronounced fabreeze-ia! She asked me to repeat it but then didn't bat an eyelid! I went bright red though because she was standing next to someone who had served me the week before and I am sure he recognised me! I need to start going to a new Starbucks!! I also took a massive gulp and burnt my tongue so it was a bit of a failure of a trip!

Glennis - from the valley - The spelling was not even close!! Which made me laugh! I hadn't done one of these 'special names' in a while so I kept on not responding to my name! But hopefully he just thought I was a little away with the fairies! 

Helga - religious/holy - Was with my friend and couldn't keep a straight face because she made me laugh and called me an idiot. Behind the till, it was the same person who served me last week and he said 'remind of your name?' He blatantly knew I was making them all up! 

Isadora- I went to a different Starbucks this time but unfortunately it was still a barista I have encountered before. And he definitely recognised me! Oops! I might be starting to get a reputation. He repeated my name with incredulity and then asked me to spell it. I laughed with him and went 'and what'

Jaime - I pronounced it like the French word but he spelt it really wrong! I really like the name Jamie for a girl though. Not completely sure why but I think it's cute.

Keturah - Abraham's second wife - When I said my name the guy just gave me a look as if to say 'are you FRICKING kidding me?' And then he waited for me to spell it for him without even asking. I half laughed and did so. The pen wasn't working very well as you can see and he clearly couldn't be bothered to find another one and ask me to spell it again. 

Lois -new testament, greek name - I was a bit out of practice because I haven't bought coffee in ages. I hesitated and then said my name a touch too early but he didn't say anything. He did obviously think I was a man though, considering how he spelt it ha.
 
Mildred - I hesitated badly but I don't think she noticed! She hadn't heard the name before and said it was pretty. I was like really!? And then I forgot the name so when the guy called me out I didn't respond. Such a fail! It was just me in the queue though so that was ok I got there in the end. It didn't help he couldn't say it properly either.

Norma - The woman who wrote this was completely unphased and just calmly wrote it on there. And she was very patient dealing with my indecision about whether to go for a strawberry or caramel frappe. It's the big decisions in life that are important! 

Oregon - For months, I have continually been forgetting to say a different name but I thought I would restart. The barista was really good looking and he asked me how to spell it because 'he didn't want to make a fool of himself'. I said it was 'yeah like the spice'  He was definitely flirting with me and then we talked about how he got free coffee all the time! I felt a bit jealous actually, maybe I should start working in starbucks (Or not if they get lots of difficult customers like me).

Prudence - I think the woman recognised me because she repeated my name with disbelief. Either that or she just thought it was really ugly. No offence to any Prudences out there - but I just think of that horrible character in the St Clare's series by Enid Blyton!

Queenie - He repeated it when I told him my name and looked at me weirdly so I felt compelled to add 'it's a nickname.' He half laughed and went 'oh ok'. I am disappointed he didn't ask for more info. I had a whole spiel lined up about how my real name was Elizabeth! I think I am getting a bit too into this. It's quite fun pretending to be other people.

Roxie - This was rather a poor effort as I wasn't prepared and didn't have an R name lined up. I was with my friend too and when she heard me say the name she laughed so loudly and unsubtley. Apparently because I was 'so not a Roxie'! Which is kind of the point...

Savannah - This is one of my favourite girls names but the lady spelt it completely wrong! My friend completely pissed herself and made me laugh too.

Trixxie- He asked me how to spell it and after I chose this spelling I said about how most people don't bother to ask. He then said that I was the first Trixxie he had ever met and was it short for anything? I said it was actually a nickname and he asked me my real name. I said it was boring and that it was Charlotte! He said it wasn't that boring, he'd heard worse! He was really nice and I'm sorry you haven't met a real trixxie ;)

Ursula - I was with my sister and she gave me a look when I said it which almost sent me into fits of giggles! The barista took it in her stride though and just moved on to the next person without comment or even a flicker of emotion 

Virginia - This was my first pumpkin spiced latte of the season and I had a chat with the barista about how much I was looking forward to it!! They are so good but I think he now believes I am weird.

Winona - I added like the actress :) She commented that she had had a few other cool names that day including a Hamish and a Sherlock! I love the idea that someone pretended to be Sherlock Holmes. Maybe I should do that in the future and pretend to be various book characters.

Xenia - I had to spell it for the girl obviously but I think I confused her by saying it was with an X. The other girl who gave me my coffee refused to say my name. Probably because she recognised me and knew it wasn't my actual name! 

Yazi - This was actually the last 'special name' of the game because I did 'z' at an earlier time! I just kind of wanted to get it finished because some of the baristas definitely started to recognising me! So I panicked and just chose the first name that came into my head! 

Zante - I made a bit of a mistake with this one! I thought that zante was actually spelt xante so this was going to be my 'x' one but I figured this could be an excellent z one anyway! And she misspelled it. Am pretty sure she recognised me

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