Maldives
Our World, Ramblings

Beautiful winter’s day for a beach clean

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Yesterday, along with my mum and sister, I took part in a beach clean at one of my local beaches. I’m not going to lie, Sunday’s are normally very lazy days for me where I catch up on the mountain of TV I have to watch, take a leisurely bath and do any other chores I need to do (currently the kittens are taking up most of this time). So when my sister suggested doing this, part of me wanted to stay in bed, especially with the bitterly cold weather we’ve been having recently. We set off with a flask of hot Ribena and were wrapped up ready for the Artic.

The statistics speak for themselves

The Marine Conservation Society has been running beach cleans for years but they’ve recently taken on the gigantic project of the Great British Beach Clean. According to stats from surveys carried out in 2017, an average of 718 litter items were found per 100m across the UK’s beaches. Over 30% of this comes from us; items that we are deliberately leaving on beaches or flushing down toilets etc. The majority of the items are plastic pieces and sweet and crisp packets. As well as ruining the look of our beaches, this is hugely dangerous to the wildlife around our country. The UK has some of the most diverse natural habitats in the world and they are being destroyed due to our impact. Anyone who’s seen Blue Planet this year will know the devastation plastic especially can do to our oceans. Turtles can get caught in it; fish are eating it and poisoning their young and even us. We don’t know enough yet about the impact that plastic has on us but it’s already affecting the other residents of this planet. Plastic bags can look like delicious jellyfish in the sea and tiny colourful pieces of plastic could probably be mistaken for fish.

A great day to make a difference

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Needles found in just under two hours on the beach

The turnout for the beach clean was amazing. Apparently, they normally have around 20 people attend but there were at least 100 people there of all ages. It was great to see parents bringing their young children to help. The amount of litter we found was staggering. Cigarette stubs, a load of cotton buds, plastic bottle tops, polystyrene foam you name it, it was there, we even found a whole broccoli. Even more worrying was the number of needles found which you can see above on such a well-used beach for walkers, children and animals. It’s so sad to see, especially as one of the clean-up leaders reminded us, the tide comes in twice a day so more is washed up all the time. It felt really great to help and I would encourage everyone to do one. A bracing walk on a cold winter’s day could be just what you need and you get to help the planet too.

We need to make a change

Maldives
Angel fish in The Maldives

We visited the Maldives last year as part of our honeymoon and were lucky enough to see some amazing underwater wildlife including reef sharks, dolphins, rays and beautiful fish. The idea that in the not too distant future these habitats and species won’t be around anymore is so sad. Coral reefs are dying due to rising sea temperatures and now fish are eating the rubbish we chuck away. Something needs to be done. The Marine Conservation Society is doing a fantastic job to try and change this. They’ve already had success by helping bring in the plastic bag charge in 2015 and run beach cleanups across the UK regularly. Click here to find one near you and sign their petitions to stop the devastation of plastic.

I would like to ask everyone who has read this to do a few things to help:

  • Share the messages in this blog and those of the Marine Conservation Society
  • Recycle as much as you can. Visit your local authority’s website for more information on what you can and can’t recycle
  • Sign the petitions the MCS are running which includes banning straws and other plastic cutlery from fast food chains
  • Don’t flush anything down the toilet that’s not meant to go down there
  • Small changes can make a big difference so leave a bag for life in your car or bag so that the use of plastic bags can be reduced
Ramblings

Welcome 2018

Happy New Year to all my readers and I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I enjoyed my first Christmas with my husband in our first home with our two gorgeous kittens. I hope you had a good rest and lots of fun with family and friends. I received a lot of rum this year, I think someone’s trying to tell me something. 2018 should hopefully be a good one. However you saw in the New Year, whether you had a quiet night in or you hit the town, I hope it was a good one. We went out for the first time at New Year to an alternative rock night which was fantastic. I have lots planned for my blog for 2018 so watch this space x

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Ramblings

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Photo by Tom Rickhuss on Unsplash

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers, I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating with your family and friends. I’m grateful to all those who spend the time reading my blog and the New Year will bring some exciting new changes as well as more regular posts. But for now, drink, be merry and have fun!

cider
Ramblings

Festive cider fun

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Anyone who knows me knows I’m a Somerset girl at heart and love a good cider. Bristol has its own cider shop which offers tastings and I’d been meaning to do one for a while. The first available one was the festive tasting last week and I’m so glad we went.

The Bristol Cider Shop moved a year ago to Wapping Wharf where a range of restaurants, bars and shops all have their own cargo containers. It’s an unusual but effective idea that really works with Bristol’s unique and quirky feel. The Bristol Cider Shop prides itself on only offering cider that has been produced within 50 miles which gives it’s a nice local feel. They also only sell cider that is made with 100% pure juice. I was shocked to learn that the minimum apple juice required by UK law is only 35%. I also learnt (although it seems obvious now) that dry cider has no sugar in it at all as it has all been removed by the fermentation process.

We arrived a bit early so popped into the bar opposite for a drink and it started to snow which made this first Christmassy event even more festive. We were greeted by the manager Seb who gave us a warming mulled cider which was a treat after being out in the snow. A lovely spread of local bread, cheese, crisps, pork pies and apples were laid out for us. The rest of the drinks were given to us in the order as if we were hosting Christmas. These included a sparkling celebration cider, cider brandy, a cider matured in whisky barrels and ice cider. We also tried mead which was unexpectedly delicious. We had 10 in total and I’m not going to lie, I did feel it a bit at the end. We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of the portions but it was help yourself, as long as everyone got some.

The cider toasties we had were to die for. I will definitely be going back for some more. Using cheese washed in cider, this made the best toastie I’ve ever had. The shop has a fantastic range of ciders and the staff are more than happy to recommend one if you’re not sure what you want. Afterwards we went to the festive Ultimate Power club night (see my previous blog post to see what you’re missing out on.) So if you’re a real cider fan or aren’t sure what cider to have at Christmas, get down to the Bristol Cider shop. It’s the perfect place for cider lovers.

Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash

Ramblings

Christmas 2017: Sleet, spacemen and sausages

Photo by Charlotte Coneybeer on Unsplash

I’m very grateful for all those who are reading this post after such a long gap. Weddings and the aftermath can be stressful and take up a lot of your time (more on this in the New Year). I thought as it is the season to be jolly I’d write a festive blog post. As I write this it’s currently snowing outside which our new kittens are finding very interesting. Although due to living near the coast, the snow rarely sets which is a shame.

Christmas is a time for family and friends Well this is what we tell ourselves but nowadays it seems to be a time of buying food you don’t need and drinking too much. I am one of those who does get very excited about Christmas food, especially party food when you’re not even throwing a party! Really it’s just food you already know but it’s miniature and therefore you buy into the hype. I have seen some pigs in blanket in Yorkshire puddings that I can’t wait to try. The majority of the time you’re so stuffed after what is normally the biggest roast dinner of the year but you still try and cram in crisps, chocolate and Christmas pudding. Growing up we would always have croissants for breakfast which I absolutely loved but really you should just eat fruit in preparation for the onslaught that is to come. So what is your favourite festive food/drink? Is it warming mulled wine or a mince pie? Take my poll below to let me know what your favourite treat is.

I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year. It will be mine and my husband’s first Christmas together in our house. Since losing my Dad in December six years ago I think I make an unconscious effort to be as Christmassy as possible so that it’s a joyful time rather than a sad one. I love giving presents, that’s so much more important than receiving them. A few years ago I surprised my husband with a trip to see his favourite footballer play and I was so excited yet impatient as had booked it months in advance and just couldn’t wait until he found out. Luckily he was overjoyed (there was even a tear or two).

I like visiting as many Christmassy events as possible. This year, I went to Bath Market and Dunster by Candlelight. Unfortunately, they’re both over now but check them out next year. Bath Market is a traditional Christmas market full of local gifts and food (there’s so much cheese and I’m pretty sure I tried it all). It’s also great for the gin and ciders lovers amongst you. Set with the backdrop of Bath Abbey, it’s truly a magical place to be. Dunster is a beautifully kept medieval village and castle and for one weekend, it’s lit just by candles and has its own little market. I would recommend everyone to check these out next year.

Christmas music is also one of the first ways the festive season feels like it’s begun. Though I feel it’s a shame we don’t have many modern Christmas hits though many try. Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton’s hit though is great (big fan of country music over here).

The majority of my favourite Christmas hits come from the cassette (yes we’re going back to the 90s) that my Dad would play in the car. I have very fond memories of us driving in the sleet, sometimes snow and having Chris de Burgh’s A Spaceman Came Travelling on full blast. I was so surprised to discover that many don’t know this but I think it’s a classic.
My other favourites of course include Wham’s Last Christmas, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power of Love and The Darkness’s Christmas Time.

So that’s just a few of my thoughts about Christmas and I hope you all have a wonderful time whatever you do. I will be posting a lot more regularly in the New Year, I promise. X

P.S. Don’t forget to take part in my Christmas food poll and follow me by clicking the links on the left if you enjoyed reading.

Disney, Ramblings

The day I met the Beast

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Last week I watched (for the second time) one of my favourite Disney animated films become live-action. It was truly magical and yes I did cry; pretty much the whole way through the first time around. In my opinion, the casting couldn’t have been more perfect with a range of fantastic actors and actresses. Emma Watson was a brilliant Belle, Dan Stevens, well I will talk about him later, the wonderful Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor and of course Luke Evans, who did a brilliant job of making you like Gaston, if even for just a moment.

Some people have an issue with Disney but I think films like this will always have a place. They are pure escapism but I think Beauty and the Beast, like many of the classic Disney films, has a message. Growing up, Beauty and the Beast was a favourite alongside two others which never seem to be as popular; Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. These deal with issues of prejudice and tolerance; accuracy obviously is not always present but for a child they were great. I do think the things you grow up with have a big impact on your personality; I remember watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the cinema; I would have only been four or five and can still remember getting upset at a scene where Quasimodo is mocked. This has always stuck with me.

Of course I’ve always loved the ‘Princess’ ones and I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that. True, they aren’t all brilliant role models for girls but unfortunately they are quite accurate to the times they were set in. Women were supposed to wait around to get married, and if that ended up being a prince then they would be much better off than the rest. Belle was always my favourite though and unlike the others, she shows something different. Firstly, she’s a bookworm which was obviously the big draw for me as I’ve always ‘had my nose stuck in a book’. Secondly, she wants to break the mould and go further than the small town she lives in. She doesn’t want to follow the path set out for her to become a silent and doting wife. Granted they do make a big deal of her being beautiful on the outside but I do think the film’s main message is that inner beauty is what counts overall. Shrek is another fine, although non-Disney, example of this

Of course I am a romantic, I can’t deny that and along with Disney, I love nothing more than a classic period drama or a bit of Nicholas Sparks. However, I was also (maybe wrongly?) brought up on James Bond. I used to watch the reruns on Saturday afternoons from quite a young age and unlike the majority of my friends, I’ve always loved a good action film. To go back to Disney I am always drawn to the more feisty female characters such as Pocahontas, Belle and Esmerelda who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in and occasionally fight for it too.

This has been my longwinded attempt of showing the world that I love Disney and I’m not ashamed. (Still waiting on that trip to Disneyland Sam :p). I think on one level they can be seen as entertaining films that all ages can enjoy but if you look deeper, the best ones do truly have a heart and a moral message at the centre.

Oh yes, did I mention how amazing Dan Stevens is as the Beast? You may have noticed the picture. By some miracle I was sat in the same restaurant as him on the weekend. I plucked up the courage to speak to him and ask for a photo as I knew I would always regret it if I didn’t. I have loved watching him since Sense and Sensibility in 2008 and he then became my favourite character in Downton Abbey. I managed to tell him how he ruined Christmas for me the year he was killed off. He was charming and lovely and a perfect choice for the Beast who underneath all that growling and fur really is Prince Charming.

If you haven’t already, go out and see Beauty and the Beast. If you’re a die-hard fan you won’t be disappointed. Just be aware that if you’re like me you might like the Beast a bit too much.

Ramblings

A feminist rant…

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I want to write about something I never have before; Feminism. I don’t want to get into a debate about what a feminist is or isn’t but over the last few weeks, I have seen a few things that have made me a bit angry. I will start with the one that actually happened to me. Before I start it really isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things but it just bugged me. I was in a local pub with my fiancé and got up to walk to the bathroom. We were having a really nice night but I just discovered that I’d lost an earring. Not the biggest issue going on in the world but in that second I was a bit annoyed. On my way, a group of ‘lads’ I will call them, start giggling and one yells ‘smile’ at me. I was so taken aback and confused that I don’t know what facial expression I ended up giving him; probably one of complete bemusement. When I got back to my seat I was so annoyed. I felt quite intimidated walking back past them to be honest and felt 14 again. You know whatever they’re saying about you probably isn’t nice. Why should I smile for him? I think most people would agree that when you see someone smiling at themselves it can be a bit unnerving, as sad as that is. I posted this incident on Facebook and was flooded with responses from loads of my female friends saying this has happened to them. No men had had it happen though and it always seemed to be men that were the ones commanding the smile. Is this because there’s some deep rooted idea that women should always look attractive for men’s enjoyment? That guy did not know me; know what I was thinking or what was going on in my life so why did he feel the need to tell me to smile? I instantly became self-conscious that I constantly look miserable. I now vaguely remember that when I was back at university in Swansea I was occasionally told by strangers (men, I will add): ‘Cheer up love, it might not happen.’ How do they know it hasn’t already? A male teacher of mine pointed out that there was no right way for me to respond. If I’d smiled I would have been patronised and if I had responded I would probably have received a more unpleasant comment.

In a similar vein, I read an article last week where two colleagues, a man and a woman swapped their names over when they signed off on emails. Those replying to Nicole were patronising and uncooperative. She had been told she was working too slowly by her boss but it turns out that those she had to deal with would tell her she didn’t understand or take their time in responding. However, when she worked in exactly the same way but signed off as her male colleague, the complete opposite happened. This really appalled me that this blatant sexism for no reason other than a name still exists. I work in an office where a number of people rely on hearing back from clients on a daily basis. Luckily I don’t deal with clients but my work is indirectly related to them and it’s concerning if this is happening.
I couldn’t write this post without referring to one more recent feminist topic. Emma Watson has been subjected to criticism for her decision to pose semi-topless for Vanity Fair. Firstly, most people would agree that she is a fabulous icon for women in general. She does so much good work as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador as well as balancing her successful career and education. All this while still being a decent person from what I can gather. Now some ‘so called’ feminists are complaining because she has posed in the magazine. Firstly, she is not naked or in Playboy. It’s quite a tasteful photoshoot. But either way, from what I can understand in my limited knowledge is that feminism is about telling women they can do anything, not that they can’t. I would not choose to pose naked in a magazine but if someone chose to I wouldn’t brand them unfeminist. I believe feminism is, as Watson herself pointed out, about giving women a choice. Either way though, I think there are much more dangerous and damaging issues affecting women all over the world compared to this. Just some food for thought.

Image credit to pixabay

Ramblings, Wedding

Ireland: love for all!

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Last month, I was privileged to be invited to the wedding of my cousin to his long-term partner in Ireland. It could not have been a more wonderful time; the wedding ceremony was absolutely beautiful. For those who don’t know, my cousin Bernárd Lynch and his husband Billy Desmond have tirelessly fought for LGBT rights for many years now. He worked to help those suffering from AIDs in the 1980s and was persecuted for it. This hasn’t stopped him and he played a vital role in the passing of a number of equality laws in New York. However, through it all Bernárd has kept his strong faith against a religion that says his love is wrong. That kind of devotion is exceptional and I don’t know anyone else who can do what he does.

It was both a private and public celebration; their personal commitment to each other and the culmination of the work of many years that now meant they could legally marry in Ireland after the historic vote for same-sex marriage in 2015.

Coincidentally they were the first gay couple to marry in County Clare, where Bernárd was born, which made it an even more momentous occasion. I can honestly say I don’t think I have seen two people more in love and I challenge anyone to say that being gay is wrong.

As well as the wedding, the whole weekend was the first time I’d been back in Ireland, where my father’s parents were from, in about 14 years. It’s such a beautiful country and the people are so friendly; the stereotype says it’s the friendliest country and we really found that. It was fantastic to meet family, some of whom I’d never met and I instantly felt like I’d known them for years. We are already planning a road trip again soon.

I can wholeheartedly say that I am so proud to call them both a part of my family. I have always supported equal rights for people of all genders, races, sexuality, religion etc. but compared to the struggles and sacrifices they have made it’s nothing.  I implore people to think again when they make a judgement about a situation. Love is all that matters and I think that message has been lost somewhere along the way.

If you want to find out more about their work check out this charity they have set up to support LGBT people across Ireland.

Ramblings

New Years Resolutions

For 2017 I am making two new year’s resolutions. The first one will be obvious. Even though I profess a love of writing, I appear to lack motivation when it comes to writing this blog. I’m great at writing for others or for my new job but not actually for me so I am determined to update this blog regularly. Whenever I finish a great book, tv show or album I will report on my findings here. In other news,  I now have a real ‘grown up’ job as a copy-writer; not that my jobs before weren’t proper ones but there’s something about doing the 9-5 office thing that feels more adult than shift work. I’m really enjoying getting into a routine and more importantly, writing.

My second resolution is connected to the big event happening for me in 2017. For those who do not know, I am getting married in August. My fiance and I are going on an amazing honeymoon and I want to be able to wear a bikini comfortably so would like to lose some weight. I would not normally write stuff like this for people to read but if it’s out there it will hopefully make it easier for me to achieve. Don’t worry I’m not going on some fad diet and I won’t be posting annoying posts about tiny meals etc. I’m just planning on exercising more and eating better. Any tips appreciated.

Please let me know what your new year’s resolutions are and I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas and New Year.

Ramblings

Something that made me think…

So that promise I made to blog more regularly didn’t go quite to plan, but in my defence a lot has happened since my last post. I have also discovered that I get very easily distracted and have all these great plans to do things like blog but something always gets in the way. I need to find a way to improve my motivation.    Firstly I started my new job as a library assistant which I’m really enjoying but the biggest change is that I’m now engaged. I can see my posts becoming quite wedding related as there is so much to think about. It feels very grown-up to be sorting out wedding venues and photographers but in some ways I still don’t feel old enough. So that I’m not just talking about myself I also want to write about important things that have inspired or affected me. On Thursday night I saw the majority of a programme called Employable Me. It followed two men who have both struggled to gain employment due to their conditions. One has severe Tourette’s which gets considerably worse when in public and the other a form of autism which affects his communication, I don’t know much about either conditions so it was very insightful. It was so sad to see them struggle with rejection when they so clearly wanted to have gainful employment for themselves and their families. They both saw professionals who helped them uncover their potential; the man with autism was extremely clever at visual problems and the man suffering from Tourette’s had a passion and talent for photography which also calmed his tics down. The documentary ended with them both in jobs where the employer was able to see their potential behind their condition but it really got to me and showed me how lucky we are that the majority of us in this country can work (albeit that might not be in the exact career or field that you want or even the desired salary). There are also people out there who do not want to contribute to society and have no work ethic but this show makes me feel that hopefully these are in the minority and it also filled me with hope that there are workplaces that actually look at what a person can do regardless of any conditions or circumstances that affect them. It has definitely made me feel much more grateful for the opportunities I have had.

Emma: Some Sense and Ability, and a lot of Persuasion