Thursday, 25 February 2016

New Zealand - 2015

I had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand back in October last year and have only now got round to uploading my video diary of my time there. I've been to New Zealand a few times now, both times before being when I was a lot younger and joined by family. This time was different and I was able to see a lot more of the country. My friend Louisa joined me, and we split the time we had there between both islands.
The majority of our holiday was spent in a van we called Terry, driving around the South Island eating noodles and porridge. That sounds terrible really, but it was honestly very fun. We saw and did some incredible things, including boat tours, glowworms, Lord of the Rings locations, rivers, bunji jumping, zorbing, kea birds, lakes, art, lugeing, The Remarkables and various other mountain ranges, Maori culture experiences and mueseum after mueseum. The highlight for me was visiting Milford Sound and kayaking in Harrison Cove. We filled our bottles with fresh Harrison River water and heard some interesting stories about moose. You'll notice theres literally about 3 seconds of footage of us on the water, but this was because we only had a low charged go pro with us at the time! I was way too scared to take my camera out considering this was my first kayaking experience.
I took a total of 900+ videos whilst there, and below is an attempt to arrange it into something worth watching. I've always wanted to try doing this whenever I've been on holiday in the past, so I'm quite pleased that I stuck with it and have something to show at the end! I made this for Louisa and I to remember our experience, but please enjoy.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Reading Challenge 2015 - The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I'm filing this book under a book a friend recommended. I went to visit my friend Laura who I've known for years. We were best friends in high school and I love that I still go to see her. It's not very often, but it's enough and it's good. 
Last time I went to see her she told me she'd just finished reading The Miniaturist and that she had really enjoyed it. Recommendation received! 
I actually enjoyed it. It's not something I would have ever picked up myself. I do love period novels, but the blurb didn't draw me in. I hate anything to do with dolls and puppets and I got that kind of vibe from the description. 
Anyways, it was great. Set in 17th Century Amsterdam and focusing on the life of a woman named Petronella whom had recently married a man named Johannes Brandt. The story, names and dollhouse are based on a real life dollhouse. I haven't read much about it, but I'm fairly certain thats true! 
There were a few things I really would have liked more of. The actual miniaturist herself didn't get much of a story and I would have loved to learn more about her. 

I've slowed down on the reading which I'm quite disappointed about. I'm hoping it will pick up again as I've got a small pile lined up on my desk.

What I've read so far : 

A Trilogy - James Dashner, The Maze Runner series
A Play - Shakesspeare, Love Labours Lost
A Book with Magic - Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Boys
A Memoir - Amy Poehler, Yes Please
A Book With a Number in the Title - Timothy Goodman & Jessica Walsh, 40 Days of Dating
A book a Friend Recommended - Jessie Burton, The Miniaturist

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Reading Challenge 2015 - 40 Days of Dating

40 Days of Dating by Timothy Goodman & Jessica Walsh 

I followed the blog this book originated from whilst is was being released. I found it a really interesting idea that these two people were posting daily updates on their dating experiment and I would check it everyday to see the latest instalment. I can't tell if I was 'rooting' for them, because I honestly just found the very idea that these two friends could try it amazing.
The second time I read it, in the book, the self evaluations and honesty really made me think about myself as a person. I like to think I know myself pretty well, but maybe not?

I don't want to go on too much, but rather just suggest that this book is worth reading. The whole story is up online, but what the book offers is the reality of what happens next. There's a whole other set of journal entries after the experiment which details the events of what happens after the 40 days are over. It's a really interesting read, even if it doesn't do anything for you personally.

I'd like to point out that I've also read 2 other books from Maggie Stiefvater's series, but alas! I feel they don't count because they fall under the same category as before. This makes me feel like I'm not doing too great on the list, but I'm determined that it'll pick up again. I'm already onto my next and I've got a pile sitting lined up for when I'm finished.
I'm counting 40 Days of Dating as a book with a number in the title.

What I've read so far :

A Trilogy - James Dashner, The Maze Runner series
A Play - Shakesspeare, Love Labours Lost
A Book with Magic - Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Boys
A Memoir - Amy Poehler, Yes Please
A Book With a Number in the Title - Timothy Goodman & Jessica Walsh

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Reading Challenge 2015 - Yes Please

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I both laughed and cried at this book. I was a fan of Amy Poehler before reading and now I think of her as one of my role models. There are plenty of woman with strong voices out there killing it at the moment, and Amy is definitely one of them.
I'm a fan of any women who have the courage not to be ashamed of what they love. I try hard to project that myself and women like Amy Poehler help me and encourage that journey.

I could read a whole book of her just talking about her children. I could read another simply on her behind the scenes stories whilst working on SNL. I could have done with more Parks and Recreation related tales, but understandably thats the most recent chapter of her life.

Amy Poehler takes sense. I love people who talk sense.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves Amy Poehler and her work, but also to anyone who needs a little pick me up. She's great at giving you confidence, is funny as hell and passionate about her job and love of improv. I really enjoyed this book and hope others get the same feeling of love from that I do.

An update on what I've read so far:

A Trilogy - James Dashner, The Maze Runner series
A Play - Shakesspeare, Love Labours Lost
A Book with Magic - Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Boys
A Memoir - Amy Poehler, Yes Please

Trams and Trains and Games, Oh My!

February 27th is my best friends birthday so I took a few days off work to visit her in Edinburgh! I arrived by train and met Fiona for a quick lunch at a place called The Edinburgh Larder. I'd been craving a full breakfast for weeks and weeks and we picked this place specifically for that. However we arrived just after twelve when they had just finished serving breakfast. I was gutted.
I eventually got to meet baby Dylan who is Fiona's sister in law's baby. He is the cutest little thing, though I'm pretty sure he gave me his bug. I had a bad case of sickness on Friday night, as did Fiona and baby's grandfather. Surely not a coincidence?
Even looking at these photos now I'm getting sickness memories!

I say this a lot whenever I go down to Edinburgh, but I love Fiona's family. They're the type of people that treat you like one of their own. I've only met Moira and Robert a few times, yet I can sit down and have lunch with them when Fiona goes to a meeting. It's comfortable and welcoming.
Moira gave me a piece of her famous beetroot cake which was warm and with cream.

On Thursday morning I'm pleased to say I finally got the breakfast I'd been craving. Mimi's bakery was the destination of our dream breakfast. Thick slices of french toast, syrup and bacon. Fiona's had sausages and tomatoes. It was breakfast heaven and we were stuffed for the rest of the day.

 We also headed down to The Game Masters exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. You pay to get in and are allowed to play with all these retro and modern games freely until the exhibition closes. We ended up playing some old school Donkey Kong, Pacman, Asteroids, Space Invaders and I had a few rounds on Elevator Action. I think that and Pacman were my favourite from the older machines. I also played some Mario 64 and we both had a go at Super Mario Bros and Harry Potter Lego, which was harder than it looked! We couldn't get past the troll in the girls bathroom. Seriously, how do you get past that thing?!

There's was a rule about no photography which was a shame, but I still took a sneaky photo of Fiona. Those machines were too cool not too.

We had a little walk around the museum too and did some Chinese crayon rubbings like children. Classic Fiona and Cassie day out really.

All in All in was a fun day and I'm just kind of bummed that by the evening I was starting to feel nauseous. Think I'll stay away from sicky babies from now on!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Reading Challenge 2015 - The Raven Boys

WARNING : I will most like talk plot points, so SPOILERS. 

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

This series is my new current obsession. I went into this not expecting too much, as I made the time honoured mistake of judging a book by its cover. The sheer mention of 'true love' made me question whether this was going to be another twilight mistake. However, I'm so pleasantly surprised by this story. I love it.

I have a deep love for witches, psychics, myths, legends and all things magical, and this book does a good job of including those, whilst somehow not over doing it.
The story does focus on the inevitable relationship between Blue and Gansey, yet somehow doesn't make it the main plot interest. There's plenty of other plot points that are far more interesting. The mystery of Noah, possibly one of my favourite characters, and the abusive relationship with Adam and his father had me on the verge of tears.
I just think this book does a great job of making me love these characters. They're all so different and so complex. I'm dying to read the next two to hear more about Ronan's back story. I'm aware that Gansey will eventually sneak his way into Blue's heart and I'm waiting for the confrontation and heart ache of poor Adam, who I guess will be cast aside. It's going to hurt, and I'm going to love it.

Adam is possibly my favourite character, along with Blue. I love Adam's independence and unwillingness to let others have any say over his life. Except of course for the relationship he has with his father, which somehow makes him more human than any of the other characters. His story arc builds till be eventually breaks.
Blue is such a strong person. She's sensible, which I like. I've read so many books where the main protagonist is strong, yet kind of foolish or reckless. Blue seems to be aware of the consequences of her actions, which is refreshing.

I've probably said enough. I ordered the next two in the series and cannot wait for them to arrive. I need my fix!
I had a look to see what I could categorise this under on the list, and I think I'll count it as my book with magic. I want to read the rest but I'm not sure I'll count them in the final total.
Onto the next one!

An update on what I've read so far :

A Trilogy - James Dashner, The Maze Runner series
A Play - Shakespeare, Love Labours Lost
A Book with Magic - Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Boys

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Simple Sundays - A Favourite Pastime

I've Posted so much today!
I haven't done a Simple Sunday in a while, and today is such a simple sunday that I couldn't pass it up.

I was in London from Wednesday to Friday for work. I don't know about you, but having a few hectic days followed by two completely non hectic days is such a weird experience. I don't really know what to do with myself.

Whilst I was travelling down, I started on one of the next books in my reading challenge list. I'm not sure what made me want to read this book, as at first I was a bit sceptical, but I pulled it out on the train and pretty much had to force myself to stop and get some work done. I've wrote a quick update on it which will be posted soon in the reading challenge tag.

Anyways! I've now finished the book and I've become a little obsessed. I love that feeling of being so into a book series that it sits constantly at the forefront of your mind. I haven't found a book like that in a while so I'm very happy. There's honestly no better feeling. Books can have such power.

True to my habits, I've started sketching the characters. I don't know if anyone else does this, but I tend to build up this image of what certain characters look like then try my darned hardest to project that onto paper. There' something very satisfying about seeing characters slowly take physical form in front of you.
I sat until two this morning doodling away. I'm very happy with them, but I'm not the best at showing people what I draw. I'm still a bit self conscious because I tend to see flaws in everything I do. I've posted one, which you can see above. Im still not great at drawing hands, so I've tried to include this in each of these sketches so I can get my practise in.
I tend to have to tell myself a lot not to be embarrassed by what I create. It's definitely a confidence issue. I have to mentally yell at myself to be brave and upload stuff. Theres a little voice in my head that's scared people will judge or tell me it's not good. Which hey, it might not be.
I draw/paint for myself in the end. Which is why it is so rare for me to upload anything to big ol' internet. The internet can be a scary place, after all.

I know I'm not the only one who suffers this. There's a lot of negativity out there, and I for one just try to avoid that as much as I can. It can make it difficult to want to put ourselves out there and not have our say. Today I'm feeling brave, so I'm embracing that.

I know I've rambled on a bit about something so minor as posting a picture, but it's a topic I'm constantly debating with myself about, and I wanted to say my piece.

hope you're all having a lovely weekend!