Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Rest In Peace Carrie Fisher

To think just 2 weeks ago, it was the midnight premiere of Rogue One - I was yawning in my seat but grinning with excitement, crying from the emotion of it all, and gasping as she came onscreen, albeit a CGI version of herself. To think just 48 hours ago, it was Christmas Day - I was happy and re-watching The Force Awakens with my brothers, smiling as she came onscreen. To think just 2 hours ago, I was watching 8 Out of 10 Cats with her as a guest star.


Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher. Artist. Activist. Princess.

Star Wars has always been a huge part of my life, since I was a toddler forced to watch it by my older brothers, to a 17 year old whose frequent re-watches have become an escape from the apparent hell of A Levels.

For tiny Bethan, Princess Leia was the first strong, independent and courageous female leader she encountered. Before Hermione and Belle and Katniss, before I discovered Feminism and calling out sexism, before I understood how to form my own views and voice them, Princess Leia was my role model. She was involved in politics and fighting for good; she sacrificed herself for her friends and family; she could fight and shoot a gun and get herself out of tricky situations; she made Han Solo a better man; she had fabulous hair and sass I always aspired to have; and she stood up for what she believed in, no matter the cost. When Luke was whining about Obi Wan Kenobi's death (I mean, fair enough for the audience who knew and loved him, but mate, you've known him for all of 2 seconds, calm down), she quietly mourned the death of her entire planet - setting it aside while she fought for the greater good.

Princess Leia was everything I aspired to be as a child; she still is everything I aspire to be. Carrie Fisher was my childhood, my first role model, my inspiration.

Not only that, she was a brilliant human being. She helped countless people by being so outspoken on her mental health issues, and was an incredibly open and supportive celebrity - she told it how it was, she opened herself up to the criticisms of many in order to help those who needed it. She was witty and caring and loved by everyone. She was a game-changer in the movie industry with her frequent discussion of mental health and of the rampant sexism in Hollywood at the time the original Star Wars trilogy was made, and how she did her utmost to make Leia as unlike the over-sexualised and stereotypical female characters that were everywhere in Hollywood.

Twitter after her death was filled with tweets praising her, expressing their pain at her loss, their sadness that she was gone, and their anger at 2016 for taking her and so many other artists, creators and those who dared to be different.

I'm so angry at this world for taking her and so many others this year, but this one hurts the most. Because she gave me the foundations to become someone who was strong, outspoken, politically aware, feisty while still being kind and deeply good.

She gave tiny Bethan hope.

Rest in peace, you brilliant soul. You were and are the world's favourite princess.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Happy Anniversary

On this day, 3 years ago, I created what was then called The Teenager's Bookshelf. It was a simple blog, with one of Blogger's ready-made template designs, no real direction, and a writer with no idea what she was doing.

A swift change to Think. Read. Write. Dream. and a new blog design by someone who would soon become a good friend of mine (hi Rosie).

The beginning of Creative Thursday and the speedy realisation that I can't stick to a schedule.

A few months later and I now have two good friends (hello, Kenzie dear)

A few months after that and my content veers drastically from strictly book orientated to a big ol' mess of writing and speaking my thoughts and a dash of literature.

Fast-forward to now, Fiction and Tea, a new name, a new design (and a newer design on the way!), still the same old me and the same old content mish-mash.

It's been a fantastic 3 years. I've grown as a person; I've lost friends and made friends; I've forgotten and rediscovered my love of writing several times; I've gone through months of absence, blogged while revising for exams, written when I should have been doing homework. I've grown up with this blog, and I can't wait for another 3 years of writing and growing and loving art and literature and life through this blog.

Thank you to those of you who have been here since the beginning; thank you to those who joined me along the way; and thank you to those who've never stopped loving me and this blog and this journey. Just thank you to all of you.

x

Saturday, 5 November 2016

A Letter To 11, 12, 13 Year Old Me

Dear 11, 12, 13 Year Old Me,

How are you, sweet, innocent, naive child? I hope you're happy. You should be - there's no reason for you to be upset.

I'm just going to put it out there, first and foremost - you're not going to receive your Hogwarts letter, and your life will never be as cool as Hermione's. I'm sorry, it's just the way things are.

As an older, wiser, and arguably more negative and cynical version of you, I can tell you a lot of things for certain:

High school sucks for the first week, but you make some incredible, fantastic, delightful friends who you will remain friends with for the next 6 years of your life, and I hope for longer than that. Appreciate them please and thank you - they're kind of your family.

High school sucks in general, but only from Year 10 onwards. So I know you think your forgotten Art homework is the worst thing to happen to you in your life ever but it's not and you get an A* at GCSE, so chill your beans and stop crying. There's plenty of time and reason for that later on. Enjoy lessons when you're not thinking about exams and coursework and grades. Enjoy learning for a little bit. And don't be ashamed of your friendly relationship with teachers. They appreciate it, they love you, and ultimately that will work in your favour when you're older and need good UCAS references (cheers for being a nerd, lil one, this is working out great for me!)

I know you say you're not cringey because you're a cute adorable nerd, but you can be both - they're not mutually exclusive. In 4 years time, you will look back and want to die at some of the things you said/did/wore, but ultimately that's still your own opinion. Don't listen to what other people think of you - only you, and Older You are allowed to judge you. Hypocritical, because I still judge myself, I still care what others think, and I'm still a nerd, but I don't think I'm quite as cringey as you.

Enjoy the years of utter freedom. Read all of the books and watch all of the TV shows and go to the cinema and write. You haven't started blogging yet, or are just about to, but please just write. Your time just disappears somehow, so appreciate it while it lasts.

Try to love yourself through the comments on your weight. Your ribs poke out, your elbows are pointy, your knees are boney. That's just how it is, and ultimately it doesn't matter because you're a kind and awesome person, and it definitely works out in your favour - now I can eat lots of biscuits with minimal exercise and still have a flat tummy. It'll be ok.

It gets better, I promise. This is, again, hypocritical, because I'm still self conscious, my self esteem is still lower than the floor, I still rely on the opinions of others to make me feel better far too much. But you learn to love some things - you're getting better. Your curly hair that you frantically brushed out and smoothed down to get rid of the frizz? Your curly frizz is now ideal for cute messy ponytails and adorable bouncy haircuts and I now have the affectionate nickname of poodle noodle. The eyebrows that you think look like fake moustaches stuck on your face are now your pride and joy, despite the fringe that covers them now - yeah, you read right. You get a fringe again, and it doesn't look too bad, if I do say so myself, now that you have straighteners.

That said, you still have issues with self esteem. But onwards and upwards, right?

You become more negative, your cynicism develops astoundingly quickly during Year 10, and your humour becomes drier, wittier, more sarcastic and infinitely funnier. Your stubbornness is an asset when you decide parties and drinking aren't for you, and your introversion both worsens and improves - you barely go out, but you get so much better at talking to people. I'm proud of you for that.

You've still never had a boyfriend, but that's fine. You go through a period of really wishing you had a boy to like you when you don't like yourself but, right around the time you uncover the term Feminist, you decide you like being single and, linking in with your swiftly developed cynicism, you understand that all high school relationships end sooner or later - either in high school or in divorce is how you so eloquently put it to a friend. Good one, you hilarious little cynic.

Appreciate your family please. Your mum is your best friend now, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Your dad makes you feel safe. Your brothers care so embarrassingly deeply about you. They're your friends first, brothers second, your confidants, your favourite people. They've got your back, and you've got theirs, you have inside jokes and nicknames and similar interests. You make them laugh and they do the same when the tears won't stop. Your family are your safety net, your support network, your home. Thank you for establishing that bond - I will be forever grateful for that.

I don't like myself much, but I've never not liked you. You are the happiest, purest, most self-assured version of us since we were a toddler. There are ways in which we've developed that I love, but there are things we've lost that I miss dearly. I miss our innocence, our pure joy, our free time and endless hours for sleep. I miss not understanding - well, not really understanding - what terrorism and mass shootings and bombings and world suffering was. I miss not seeing the hatred in this world, I miss not feeling this burden on my shoulders, I miss not suffocating from the pressure placed on me to do well in exams, in school, in life; placed on me by me. I miss feeling at peace, content, satisfied with where I am in life. I miss knowing that whatever I do, I am still a genuinely good and kind person, because that certainty that I am sweet and kind and likeable is gone now. I miss not feeling like I'm bitter and mean and a burden to be around, to have as a friend, to have as a daughter. I miss the lack of change, I miss having my most felt feeling being happiness instead of this grey emptiness, this numbness to life and all experiences, this constant clouding unhappiness that only seems to go away in the presence of a small number. I miss never having experienced a panic attack, never knowing what anxiety is, never feeling this constant sickness, lump, hole in your stomach.

You are an incredible human being. Keep being witty, sweet, generous, kind, adorable. Keep giving first and taking second. Be as selfless as you can, as caring as you can. You become an incredibly flawed character - I'm living with that right now. So just enjoy a life without pressure. Keep dreaming big, laughing loud, crying unashamed.

You do you, kid. I love you.

Older You x

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Time Likes To Run Away From Me

Time has a rather unfortunate ability to keep going while I continue to drown under school work and pressure. Bit annoying, can't be helped - I'm ever so sorry.

Things that have happened since I last posted:

I turned 17 and that scares me a lot (that actually happened before my last post but I didn't mention, so I thought I'd pop it in here).

I've started to learn how to drive and it is just as terrifying as I imagined, but I'm keeping a lid on the panic and AAAHHHH so that I don't do something stupid like crash or just never drive.

A Levels have started to suffocate me and I'm not entirely sure how to stop them.

I've made new friends! I had no intention of making new friends when I started sixth form, but I don't think anybody ever decides they're going to make friends. They are exceptionally lovely and hilarious and nerdy and I have already given my heart over to them completely.

Speaking of friends, I saw Anna again (link to her blog is here, link to her instagram is here). I met up with her in Bath, along with her friend Emily who is wonderful, and we went to see Sarah J Maas at the Bath Kids Literature Festival. I had a great time and I miss her a lot a lot a lot a lot.

This was just before we saw Sarah J Maas. Can you see the pure joy in my face?

(left to right) Me, Anna, Emily all looking suitably smiley.

This is us conquering Bath. Obviously.

I haven't been ill, which is incredible because I have an infamously poor immune system and my friends have been ill 3+ times. I honestly have no idea how I've done it, but I'm very proud of my body for not giving in to the colds floating about - A Levels are tough, I really can't afford to miss school because I'm a tad sniffly.

I cut my hair shorter, dealt with triangle hair for a week and then I loved it. And now it's grown again, so it's more of a lob than a bob. I also toyed with the idea of growing out my fringe, but decided against it - A Levels have meant many late nights, which means I wake up later and groggier than usual, which means little to no time spent on my appearance minus a splodge of concealer and a dab of powder, which means ponytails every day. And nothing makes a ponytail look more deliberate and cute than a fringe. (shoutout to past Bethan for getting a fringe; you've saved me from continuous bad hair days these past 7 weeks)

Things keep happening and time keeps running away from me like an idiotic 4 year old that doesn't understand that the last time I said ok stop it now I was being serious. It keeps running and I'm too tired to make an effort and it's too busy laughing at me getting frustrated and annoyed that it doesn't see the rock before it's grazed its knee and is crying and blaming me for not stopping it.

A lot has been and gone since I last posted. I'm sorry it's been so long - it's never a deliberate absence, I promise. Time is an annoying thing.







Thursday, 15 September 2016

August Favourites

I decided to try a new thing today - I've done it once or twice before, but never continuously. I thought starting a monthly favourites would force me to blog at least once a month, and also (hopefully) force me into a blogging routine. So, here are my August favourites. (I know it's a bit late, but better late than never)

FILMS/TV

Stranger Things // I've just finished this Netflix original series and oh boy! I'm not great with scary things, but the jump scares and general creepiness is worth it for the characters, the storyline, and the incredible acting. I would definitely recommend to any fans of sci-fi or supernatural plots.

plot: On November 6 1983 in the town of Hawkins, Indiana, 12 year old Will Byers vanishes mysteriously. Will's frantic mother, Joyce, searches for him while Police Chief Jim Hopper launches his own investigation. Will's friends Dustin, Mike, and Lucas discover a psychokinetic girl who claims to know Will's location. As they uncover the truth, a sinister government agency tries to cover it up, while a more insidious force lurks below the surface. (cool, right?)

Gilmore Girls // I know this is a very old and loved show, but I've only recently started it with my mum. It's just been added to Netflix, so that's my excuse! It's such a lovely, happy show, and I love binge-watching it with my mum.

plot: The show follows single mother Lorelai and her daughter, Rory, who live in Stars Hollow and deal with the stresses of work, school, relationships, and life.

I haven't really watched any great films recently, so hopefully I'll have more in this section for my September Favourites.

BOOKS

The Shatter Me Trilogy // I read Shatter Me a couple of years ago, but had to put the sequel, Unravel Me, down when I was revising for mocks and I never went back to it. But this summer, I made it my aim to read this trilogy (and a few other books, obviously!) and I finished it when in France. It was so. good. Juliette's character development is absolutely incredible, and Tahereh Mafi's writing is stunning. The first book, Shatter Me, was annoying and average at best, but once Juliette began to realise that the world was so much worse than her romantic drama, it swiftly became a phenomenal story about accepting yourself as a monster, rather than denying it. Just... breathtaking. Definitely, 100% recommend to anyone that likes YA, dystopian, superhero-esque plots, and a lot of romance.

plot: Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17 year old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anyone, and the clouds are the wrong colour.
The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now, so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war - and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Animal Farm // George Orwell is an utter genius and this book must be read by everyone that has ever and will ever exist. That's all I have to say.

plot: The animals of the Manor Farm lived badly because their farmer Mr Jones, a mean and always drunk man, exploited them. One day Old Major, the old pig who is the animals' leader, calls a meeting with all of the animals, and tells them about a dream he had had the previous night about a farm run by the animals, for the animals.


MUSIC

Good Grief / Fake It / Send Them Off! - Bastille // I adore Bastille, and always have, and their three new singles are absolutely incredible. I'm listening to them on repeat as I write this. They're songs that you can't help singing along and doing a weird little dance to. Also, Dan Smith is a gift to this world. They're on Spotify, which is what I use for my music - unlimited free music? What is not to love? - but I'm sure you could find them on iTunes or Youtube.

Someone That Loves You / Treat You Right - HONNE // HONNE is a very recent discovery for me - their album Warm on a Cold Night is absolutely amazing, but Someone That Loves You and Treat You Right are my favourite songs from it, and maybe just favourite songs of mine, full stop. They're an incredible band, and I'm lucky enough to be going to see them in October. Definitely give them a listen, and start with these songs!

MISCELLANEOUS

My Macbook // My brother just bought a new Macbook, so I automatically got his old one - and I am loving it. It's so fast, I can message people without having to get up, walk upstairs, and grab my phone. I can write to do lists and have it pop up on my phone, I can access my camera roll on my laptop, and all of my important dates are synced up. It is so wonderful, and I am so glad I have it ready for the beginning of Sixth Form - I will need a good laptop for A Levels!

Paper Comets // I've already written a post on Paper Comets - find that post here and the actual zine here or here - but I had to include it in my favourites, because it has been a favourite of mine. I was absent from the blogging community for so long, so to be asked to take part in something as wonderful as this made me feel part of the family again - not forgotten, not left behind, still relevant and still loved. I've chatted with so many amazing bloggers - some already friends of mine, some new to me but close friends now. This experience has been the best thing about August, and I can't thank these wonderful girls enough. All of their blog links are in my previous post, so please check them out.

I really hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know if a monthly favourites post is something you'd like to see!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

exciting news!

A short post today to make a very exciting announcement!

I, along with some other bloggers (I will put all of their links down below because they are all fantastic), am part of a new online magazine called Paper Comets, and it is launching tomorrow!

(this is the cover - isn't it beautiful?!)

Paper Comets is a part of the Freckled Minds family (the website for it is here) and was organised by the incredible Morning from Ups and Downs (link here). It's a collection of written pieces, - short stories and poems - pieces of art, photography, and a lot of creative chaos.

Everyone involved has spent so much time helping to put this together - I hand-lettered the logo, we all worked so incredibly hard on our pieces, so many of us sent in photos for the Freckled Minds Instagram (@freckled.minds), people have worked tirelessly to code and design the websites, and organising this whole thing has taken nearly the whole summer.

Huge, huge thanks are due to Morning for working so hard to make this possible - battling against varying time zones, the endless activities, responsibilities, school and work commitments that come with a group of bloggers bubbling with creativity, and the stress of organising so many people around a deadline.

I am so, so excited for this. School and exams and work have taken up so much of my time, and consequently, I haven't written - properly sat down and written - in too long. This was such a wonderful excuse, and such a wonderful push for my to open up a blank document and type away, to write and read and edit and rewrite and reread and edit some more. To write something and be proud of the outcome and the cause.

Morning will be posting Paper Comets on both the Freckled Minds blog and her own, so I'll leave the links down below and you just sit tight and stay tuned, because it's going to be amazing. I'm so glad to be a part of this.

Morning - Ups and Downs
Rose - Self Known
Ava - Quiet Land
Abbie - Abbiee
Rachel - Silver Mess
Sophia - The Teentrepreneur

UPDATE: It's here!!! Click the link to Morning's blog or to the Freckled Minds blog to see the first edition of Paper Comets. Eeep!

Friday, 26 August 2016

trying to be organised

I feel like I always write apology posts, but I am very sorry for not posting in so long. I sat down at my laptop and stared at a blank post on Blogger so many times over the summer, and each time I closed the window, shut my laptop, and grabbed my book or popped Netflix on on the telly.

I don't know what's happened to me - I had the desire to write, I had the time to write, I constantly have words spinning through my mind. But as soon as I put pen to paper - or, finger to keyboard in this scenario - I dried up. My tongue wrapped around itself in it's hurry to curl up and hide, the words in my brain screamed and died in my mouth, the ink on my hands disappeared back into my veins, and I was empty of words and thoughts and ideas.

And now that I'm forcing myself to write, to just write write write and ignore what I'm writing until the end when I go back and actually read the words, forcing myself to zone out and just type, oblivious of the thoughts I'm voicing... now that I'm doing that, time is up.

I had the whole summer to get back into the swing of writing, to post regularly, to chat with my dear blogging friends, to become a part of the community again, and I didn't.

And now there's a week left and then it's A Levels - aka, the year of The Hardest Work Ever In The History Of Time (an exaggeration, but it gets my point across) - and it will be so so so so much harder to fit blogging in to my schedule of work and extracurricular and my job. But but but

I will try!

I will try my hardest, and you'll have to just bare with me as I struggle through school and work and finding time to do the things I love. I'm in the mood for writing at this point in time, so I'm going to plan ahead and write a few posts now so that I can post them in the future when I'm too busy to write.

Apart from that attempt at organisation, I'm just going to try my best to post here regularly, and to become more involved in the blogging community.

I hope you've all had a wonderful summer! x

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

I'm Free

I have finally, finally, finally finished my GCSEs. I have finished the 6 week period of non-stop exams, and the countless months before-hand spent revising and neglecting the things I love most - reading, watching Netlfix, sleeping in, doing nothing. I have shoved aside the sleepy, zombie fog of exam-mode that had settled over my brain, the non-stop revision schedule, the fear of exams and the sleepless nights where anxiety woke me. The past papers are gone, the countless notes and flashcards recycled, the cramp in my right hand and the seemingly permanent ink splotch on my right index finger have vanished, and I am free.

The summer has begun, albeit a very rainy beginning, and there are lists and lists and lists of things I have wanted to do for months and now can. I can finally read without noting down quotes for themes, paint without an eye on my coursework deadline, sleep without setting an alarm for 7am, watch TV without making sure I'm not wasting revision time. I can be free, finally. The burden of exams has been lifted from my whole body and soul, and now all that's left is a lingering fear of results day. But that is months away, and for now, I can forget it.

Suddenly, I can go shopping with my best friend and not have to cancel because I'm stressing out about my history exam. I can read every book on my TBR list. I can blog every week, I can sit outside and feel the breeze on my face, I can cuddle my dog, I can lie on the floor for 20 minutes just staring at the clouds moving outside my window. I can stay up late watching Netflix, and glance outside at the stars just before I sleep. I can do whatever I want, and do so with the knowledge that I deserve it.

I have had no life for months, I have gone without for months, I have cried and stressed, I haven't slept, I have berated myself, I have forced myself to work more, to work harder, to work for longer.

And now, I can have my summer. My long, carefree summer.


(so that was basically a really long-winded way of saying I'm going to be posting more, more regularly now that my exams are done!)

Thursday, 9 June 2016

28.05.16

On May 22nd (ish) 2015, I sent a direct message on Instagram to @annasbookish, a book account I really liked. I knew Anna was around my age, I knew she loved Dylan O'Brien, and I knew she was an avid reader. She seemed cool, and nice, and funny, so I messaged her saying hi. She replied.

Fast forward a year (and a week) and Anna is running across the muddy entrance of the Hay Festival in a Jurassic Park t-shirt, running towards me, before I am squishing her against me in a bear hug fueled by a year of friendship and waiting.


She is no longer @annasbookish, the book account I like. She is Anna Caffyn, 17 years old, lover of Star Wars (my influence, obviously), intense Billy Elliot fan, and one of my best friends. She is kind and hilarious and amazing and too much like me for my first DM to have ever resulted in just an internet friendship.

She is not just an Instagram account. A year later, she is a real person, putting me on her Snapchat story, stealing my phone to take terrible photos, slapping my arm when I constantly bring up that I'm taller than her. I can hug her and randomly boop her nose and play with her hair.


We spent the day together. We shared a pastry and drank tea on a comfy leather sofa while exchanging presents. We immediately added a billion photos to our Snapchat story, despite the rubbish festival wifi (the use of Snapchat filters was endless). We wandered around the festival, we bought books, we sat underneath a tree and took selfies. We hummed songs and brought up inside jokes frequently, as well as making new ones (two flat whites, anyone?) We laughed and hugged and took photos and loved every second together. We had a day of just us, surrounded by books and sun and tea.

And then it was over. We were saying goodbye and hugging one last time. I was too happy to fully grasp that I wouldn't be seeing her again until July, but when I got home, I suddenly wished I'd hugged her more, booped her nose one more time, played with her hair endlessly. I wanted to sprint to England and bang on her door until she opened it so I could see her, actually see her just one more time. I wanted her to give me all of her friends' numbers so I could text them and tell them to never take knowing her for granted, to never get used to being able to hug her on a daily basis. I wanted to make sure they knew how incredibly lucky they are to have my best friend around them, all the time, someone they see at school and outside school and on the weekends.

I miss her every day, because now that we've met, it's not enough to just text and Snapchat and Skype. Now that I've experienced what it's like to hug her, I never want to let go.

I'll see her again, and soon. My exams finish on 21st June (my excuse for my absence - I am very sorry for being very on-and-off with my posting) and then I have a looonngggg summer, and a train that travels directly from my town centre to hers. We're seeing Billy Elliot together at the theatre near me on 9th July; I'm going to stay with her in the summer; she's hopefully coming down for a second time. We have 10 weeks and no reasons for not seeing each other as much as we want.

I also met Patrick Ness at Hay - one of my favourite authors - he wrote A Monster Calls, one of my favourite books.


He was lovely, and hilarious (and I am now so excited for the A Monster Calls film), and it was amazing to meet him but somehow, he was a minor part in my visit to Hay. Usually, I usually come to Hay to meet an author, and I'm excited about the festival because of who I'm meeting - Cassandra Clare or Sarah J Maas, or another of my favourite authors. But this year, Patrick Ness was not my source of happiness (though he did make my day even more spectacular). Probably because when I met him, I was already with the person I'd come to Hay to see.


In short - 28th May 2016 was one of the best days of my life.

(Please give Anna a follow on Instagram - @annasbookish - or follow her blog here)

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

I am afraid

I am afraid of many things. When I was younger, it was the dark that hid the monsters, the things that go bump in the night, and bugs. I'm still afraid of bugs, and I'm still not a fan of the dark, but that's mainly because it means I'm alone with my thoughts, and my thoughts are what scare me most.

As I grew older, I became scared of losing my loved ones, being completely alone forever; my own imagination scared me more than anything.

I've also realised that what I'm scared of falls into three categories:
- My imagination, and every horrifying daydream it sends my way
- Nouns (not the actual words, the objects that the word "noun" encompasses)
- Verbs (again, not the words that are classed as nouns, but the actions described as verbs)

My imagination is something I can't help, so I try not to read too much into those fears, as they are usually irrational and not worth thinking about. I am afraid of nouns because I've seen them, and they scare me - bugs is the prime example here.

But I'm afraid of verbs because I've never experienced the verb itself. I'm scared of flying because I've never been on a plane before. I'm scared of failing in school because I've never failed before. I'm scared of being alone because I've never been completely, totally, utterly alone - don't get me wrong, I'm an introvert to the core, and my alone time is precious to me, but to have no support system at all is terrifying.

The list goes on.

I've realised that I am afraid of a lot of things, and for a lot of them, the only cure is to experience them. To go through life and instead of feel like I'm facing fears, just do something, and once it's over, acknowledge in the back of my mind that I'm no longer afraid of that verb.

Because in life, the only thing being afraid does is hold you back. So really, the only thing to fear is fear itself (ta, FDR, for the great line), because fearing things is what can lead to an unfulfilled life. If you guard yourself from every new experience because it's new (and so scares you), you're not really living.

So be afraid of fear, and any bugs that you may encounter (because those things are evil), but try not to let the verbs get you down. Try not to let them stop you from experiencing things.

Try not to let them stop you from living.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

missing the colour in my life

As I'm sure is the case for many of you, I am currently off school for the Easter holidays. I remember when I was younger, these two weeks would consist of going outside, playing in the sun, seeing my friends and walking to the park with them so we could sit on the swings and chat, reading books, watching films, painting, lying on the floor in a patch of sunlight doing absolutely nothing.

Now, my two weeks consist of getting up at 8am, starting work at 9am, working all day, every day, (with breaks for food and making a cup of tea) until 9pm, when I go to bed. That's it.

My days are not spent in the sun, reading in the garden, but rather in the ray of sun that covers the kitchen table as I do practice questions and notes and past papers. I can no longer have lie ins, lazy mornings, days where I do nothing. Because every minute is precious and valuable and needs to be spent revising.

I'm writing this post in bed, just before I go to sleep, so as not to waste any of my day.

I make it sound like I'm some work machine with no breaks and no social interaction, which isn't true. I have breaks for meals, and making cups of tea, and also just 10 minutes where I might just wander into the living room and talk to my family. I see my friends, but during 'work sessions', where we both sit at either my or their table and do some revision.

It's more the loss of doing what I love that I was aiming to write about. I miss being able to read for a whole day, or just lying on the sofa watching Netflix with my mum. I miss painting because I wanted to paint, rather than because my art exam is in three weeks. I miss getting up at 10am and staying up until 1am, knowing I can catch up on sleep with a lie in.

I want to be able to enjoy things again, instead of being a zombie with a sore hand and a blank expression.
My mind is grey, because I've given away the time I used for colour.

This isn't a rant, or me having a moan, because I know all of this will be worth it when I do my exams and feel 100% prepared, and when I open that brown envelope on results day. It will all be worth it once exams are over and I can spend my 10 week summer doing everything I enjoy. This was just an expression of my feelings, I guess. And how I get through missing the things I love.

Just one big push, and then summer.

x

Sunday, 20 March 2016

focus on the little things

As I enter exam season, when controlled assessments and GCSEs are flying towards my face at 100 miles per hour, I like to focus on the little things.

Like my mum handing me a ready-made cup of tea as soon as I walk through the door, home from school.

Like sitting in church, sandwiched between my two brothers, and listening to my vicar give a sermon on how everything will be ok.

Like laughing until I cry after a friend forgets she's not alone and sings a line of a song off key, out of tune and at the lowest pitch I've ever heard.

I like to focus on the little things, because there isn't one big thing in my life right now that makes me happy 24/7. It's the little things, like the people I love and moments with them, that keep me smiling on my darkest days.

When I'm exhausted and stressed and irritable, the right song (currently listening to The 1975's new album a lot, but specific songs - Halo / Lewis Watson, Dancing on My Own / Calum Scott) can make me 10 times happier, or reading an incredible chapter of my current read (Room by Emma Donoghue), or watching an episode of Agent Carter with my mum while chugging down luke-warm, forgotten tea and snuggling under a blanket.

I smile when a friend sends me funny photos because "you seem sad a lot lately, I want to make you happy", or when my brother buys me Reese's peanut butter cups to snack on during revision, or when I understand something in Physics that I've really been struggling at.

It's easy to miss and forget the little things, but please appreciate them. They could mean the difference between a happy day, or going to sleep feeling lost and alone.

x

Saturday, 5 March 2016

review: the truth about the harry quebert affair

Bonsoir! (well, it was the evening when I wrote this)

After thinking about the kind of posts I want to write, I've decided to start writing reviews of books, films and TV shows. I'd love for this blog to link more into my bookstagram, and so thought adding more literary content would be a good place to start!

I thought I'd start with a review of one of my new favourite books - The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair (a mouthful, I know).

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker (translated by Sam Taylor, as it was originally written in French) begins with the story of Marcus Goldman, an author flung into success after his first novel, who is struggling to write a second novel that will live up to his new-found reputation. He visits his old mentor, Harry Quebert - one of the country's most respected authors - in Somerset, New Hampshire, to find a cure for writer's block. But once the body of Nola Kellergan - a 15 year old girl missing for 33 years, with whom Harry Quebert once had an affair - is found buried in Harry's garden, Marcus' plan to write a new book is upended as he tries to prove Harry's innocence and find Nola's murderer.

Sounds good, right? It is.

The book is beautifully written, flipping regularly between Marcus' investigation into Nola's disappearance and Harry's relationship with her during the summer of 1975 - the year Nola went missing. Dicker captivated me with his complex and flawed characters and the intricate back-stories and secrets those characters had.

The book is split into three sections, and it was not until the third and final section that I was finally able to form theories as to what happened. Dicker keeps you so in the dark throughout the entire novel, feeding you tiny morsels of evidence for each character, so they all look as guilty as each other.

And the plot twists! I read the third section late at night, because I wanted to finish it that day. And it was just plot twist after plot twist after plot twist. He's the killer, no, she's the killer, wait no, they're the killers, wait no! My head was spinning, but it was never confusing - only ever thrilling and incredible.

I recommend this book to everyone that ever asks me for a book to read. It's just one of those novels that is perfect for everyone and anyone - and an instant favourite for most, like myself.

I hope you liked this post. Please let me know if you'd like to see similar posts.

Thanks for reading. xx 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

experiencing life with social media

Hello there.

After having an assembly today on how we should look up from our phones and experience the real world, I decided to write this post.

Because social media ISN'T A BAD THING.

Yes, we should spend time with our friends and family, speak face to face, go outside and enjoy the world without a phone in between us and it. But social media isn't the negative thing the majority of the older generation seem to make it out to be.

For a start, if the older generation had had the kind of technology and social networking sites that we have now, they too would have been constantly checking Twitter and scrolling through Instagram in their free time. But because they didn't have the kinds of opportunities that our generation have, they have the opportunity to act high and mighty because they played outside when they were my age. 

I agree that toddlers should play outside instead of watching videos on an iPad, and young children should experience grazed knees and tag and building dens out of mud, leaves and twigs. What I don't agree with is the negativity felt towards teenagers and young adults using social media constantly.

Yes, it isn't good to be constantly on your phone, and yes, it shouldn't stop us from experiencing the world.

But for some people, social media is a way for them to escape the world, because for them, the real world isn't that great.

People who struggle with making friends, or feel alone in their normal life can become friends with people online who have similar interests and genuinely care about that person. For that person, social media can become an escape and a life line. Because it's either be alone and scared to go into school.

Or be happy and go into school knowing that once it's over, they can disappear from this loneliness onto the internet, where their real friends are.

I'm not saying social media is a long-term solution to bullying, or loneliness at school or at home, but it is something to help people meet other people, to make friends, and to express themselves while life isn't the best.

I'm lucky enough to just enjoy social media for what it is - I don't have to use it to compensate for what is lacking in my every-day life. I have an amazing family, wonderful friends and a great school life. I can blog when I want, which is a sort of escape, because I can talk about things that I don't feel I can with other people - usually because I can't find the right words in the moment, but I can when I have time to think before I type. I can Instagram photos of my friends and my dog and me, and then I can switch accounts to my bookstagram and smile at the wonderful comments my followers leave me. I can gaze in utter shock at the little follower count next to my username reading 2051. I can go onto Twitter and quickly type out a pun, or something embarrassing I did, or an angry response to sexism in the media. I can Snapchat one of my best friends, who I met through Instagram - and who I'll be meeting in a few months time - and can talk to her about my day and hear about hers, which makes it feel like I see her every day. (by the way, if you want to follow Anna, her blog is here - annasbookish.blogspot.com - and her bookstagram is @annasbookish. She's amazing and I love her dearly)

I can go on social media and say what I want to say, write what I want to write, post what I want to post, be who I want to be - which is who I truly am.

I know one of people's main concerns about social media is that everything is staged, and only our best bits are revealed to the world. We get an airbrushed look at other people's lives, and are never exposed to any gloomy days where life is rubbish and you just want to lie in bed with a blanket and Netflix.

But I am who I am on social media. I don't pretend, I don't hide. I explain that I didn't post a photo because school is hectic and I'm under a lot of pressure. I apologise for not replying to a direct message because I had a rubbish day and I didn't feel like doing anything other than lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling.

I find I can be my purest and realest me online, because I'm around people that like me for me. Anna has seen some of my worst days and still loves me. My real-life friends have stuck with me for 5 years, and my family will always lovely, despite all the arguments we've had and the things we've said.

The point I am trying to make with these extremely long post is that: yes, go outside, and yes, experience life. But don't think experiencing life means putting down the phone. Because my life is infinitely more special with my 2051 followers, and Anna, and her Snapchats, and my pictures, and you guys, and this small blog, and my hilarious 2am tweets, and the comments under my photos.

So maybe think about what you've gained from social media next time someone makes a judgy comment about having your phone glued to your hands. Because I sure as hell have gained more than I've lost.

Thank you all for reading. x

(While we're discussing social media, if you want to follow me on anything, my links are on the left under 'Let's Socialise' and on my Contact page.)

Saturday, 20 February 2016

rip Harper Lee

Before I start, I'd just like to say: I hope you all like my new(ish) design. I haven't changed the actual design, or the layout, but I created a new header - I'm so in love with the cursive font - and I've added photos to my About and Contact page. Have a browse, if you want. :)

As some of you may have heard, Harper Lee died yesterday (19th February), at the age of 89. I studied To Kill A Mockingbird last year for the first 50% of my English Literature GCSE, but honestly, it didn't feel like work.

To Kill A Mockingbird is definitely one of my favourite books, and I think it always will be. It's one of those timeless books that was read when it was first published, is read now, and will be read in 50 years time.

It's a book that promotes equality and pure goodness, and Atticus Finch, while fictional, is one of the best role models for anybody. As is Harper Lee - as one of the most famous authors in history, you would expect her to have become egotistical, big-headed, and a lover of the spotlight. Quite the opposite is true - she was rarely seen in the media, and never let the fame and praise on an entire planet go to her head.

She will be missed greatly by all.

RIP Harper Lee.

(Sorry for the short post - I'll write something a bit longer next, but I felt I said all that needed to be said about this tragic passing. Thanks for reading x)

Thursday, 18 February 2016

reintroducing myself

After posting yesterday, I decided to tidy up my blog by finally writing my About and Contact pages. Writing my About page made me realise how much I've changed since I started this blog in 2013.

So I thought I'd reintroduce myself, with some this or that questions. If you want to know more about my personal interests, check out my About page - this post is just going to be quick answers to random questions I thought of or found online.

Cats or Dogs?

I am definitely a dog person! I have a golden retriever called Ruby. I think cats are cute, but definitely dogs!

Tea or Coffee?

Tea!!!!!

Instagram or Twitter?

I love both, and use them regularly, but I think Instagram just because of the friends I've made through my book account, and the fun I have taking and posting photos.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Pfffttt, Star Wars obviously! Have any of you seen The Force Awakens yet? I've seen it four times, and I cry every time. I've also just finished a Star Wars re-watch marathon. It's one of my favourite franchises.

Kindle or Books?

I was given a kindle for a Christmas present a few years ago - I bought 5 books on it, and then bought all of those books in physical form. Soon after, I gave my kindle to my mum. I just missed the feel of the pages and the smell of a new book.

Team Cap or Team Tony?

Is anybody actually Team Tony? Captain America is clearly on the right side. I'm so excited for Civil War to come out.

Early bird or Night owl?

Night owl - I like my sleep too much to get up early and I always end up scrolling through Instagram until midnight.

Sweets or Chocolate?

I do love sweets, but definitely chocolate. I get tired of sweets really quickly, but I never tire of chocolate.

Marvel or DC Comics?

Marvel. I love Batman - especially the Christopher Nolan trilogy - but Marvel have too many amazing characters, films and TV shows to not be my favourite. Have any of you seen Daredevil or Jessica Jones on Netflix? Or Agent Carter? They're some of my favourite TV shows - I can't wait for the second series of Daredevil and JJ. I've just started watching the second series of Agent Carter, as it's only just airing in the UK.

Sun or Rain?

I love the sun, but I find rain so calming. I love being in bed and listening to a storm outside, or being outside and splashing in puddles. Sunny weather is lovely, and I'd hate it to rain all the time, but it does rain the majority of the time in Wales, so I have to see the positives of it!

Maths or English?

English! I'd love to do English and French at university. Languages fascinate me, but it's definitely the literature aspect of English that makes it my favourite. I think primary school-me would be shocked to hear that I enjoyed Maths during my GCSE years, and that I got an A* in my November exam. I've now dropped Maths, despite my enjoyment of it, to give myself frees where I can focus on my other subjects. So, English.

Summer or Winter?

I think Winter. I prefer being cold than hot. I love snuggling up in blankets and wearing layers and layers of woolly jumpers and thick socks.

Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?

I loved the LotR films as a child - Legolas my toddler-self's dream man (still is, to be honest) - but Harry Potter is and always will be one of my favourite book series. I'm so excited for the Cursed Child to be published!

Coke or Pepsi?

I don't really have a preference, I'll drink either.

Pancakes or Waffles?

Neither? I hate both of them. Anything made from that weird batter stuff I just... bleurgh. Unless smothered in Nutella and covered in strawberries, I can't eat either of them. Sorry.

Shower or Bath?

I have both regularly, but I think I prefer showers. They're just quicker, and they allow me to dance around while belting out Disney songs.

Ketchup or Mustard?

Ketchup! Mustard is disgusting.

Movies or Reading?

I think this is pretty obvious, but reading. Obviously I love films, but there's nothing quite like reading words and imagining new worlds, characters and relationships, playing out scenes in your head and smiling at the love or hate or worry you feel for fictional people.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I just thought I'd do a short post to reintroduce myself, as I have changed since the last time I talked about me as a person. I also have a lot of work to do today - including the reshelving of all of my books (I had to stack them on my floor as I've changed my bookcase for a floor-to-ceiling one) and just general school work.

I'll post something better - and a bit more thought out - soon. Hopefully tomorrow!

Thank you for reading. Please comment below if you agree, or disagree, with any of my answers. x

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

how time flies

Why, hello there!

So, a results day (all A*s I'm happy to announce), 2 maths exams, a christmas, 2 english language exams and a valentine's day later - how have you all been?

I think my only excuse for not posting is time. Time is relative, but it always seems to run out for everyone. I wake up at 6:30 for school, and suddenly it's 9pm and all I've done is worked. I've left myself no time for the things I love and enjoy: reading has been neglected for quite a few months, blogging has been shoved under the metaphorical bed in the cluttered room that is my life and writing hasn't been a part of my life for several years.

Time is something that I find difficult to juggle. It's like I'm sat at a pottery wheel, and time is a lump of clay in front of me. But, as proven by my 7 year old self, I'm rather bad at pottery. I think I've made a decent bowl and then suddenly the wheel speeds up and the clay - or time, in this analogy - flies off the wheel and I'm out of clay/time.

This was taken mere moments before the clay flew off the wheel. Yup, it wasn't just an analogy - it actually happened.

So hobbies, passions and anything that isn't school related has been pushed aside as I focus on molding the little time I have left around school work so I don't crash and burn during summer exams.

But I'm stressed and I'm tired and I woke up at 3am this morning with a burning desire to write something. And so, after a whole day of clearing my bookshelf, re-shelving books onto my new (larger) bookshelf, working on my art exam, making flashcards and notes on Nazi Germany and running around making tea for family members, I sat down in my room with my laptop, took a breath, and started this post.

I'm not sure what made me wake up, what urged me to write, what made my heart pound frantically against my chest from the need to just write something, but I think an aspect of it was an email I received from my dad.

On February 15th this year, I went to a National History Museum about 20 minutes from where I live. It's not a normal museum - they take apart buildings from various parts of history, brick by brick, and then rebuild them on their grounds, putting the bricks in the exact order they were originally in, until the building is now on their grounds. They have a lake and streams, with a wonderful willow tree, and old buildings scattered everywhere.

I've been there many, many times, but I went with my dad for the specific purpose of taking photos for my aforementioned art exam project. While taking a photo, my dad took a photo of me, standing on a rock in the middle of a stream with my camera in hand. At the time, he mentioned remembering taking a similar photo around the same area.

The next day, he emailed me the photo he took, plus one from February 16th 2008. Of me in the exact same place.



These photos, 8 years and 1 day apart, show me how far I've come, how far I have to go, and how fast time flies. At 8 years old, I probably felt like I'd never be more stressed. That class test was probably stressing me out, or an argument among friends might have seemed like the biggest worry that I would ever have in my life.

And now, at 16 years old, these exams seem like the most important thing in my life, this year feels like the be-all and end-all, my GCSEs have priority over everything else in my life - whether that's hobbies, friends, family or just my own happiness.

My point is, time passes too quickly for me to sacrifice my own happiness for academic results. And I know, after I publish this post, shut down my laptop, tell my family I love them, go to sleep and start another day, I won't change anything. But it feels really nice to write this down. It feels nice to write again.

Sorry for the long post. But I hope you're glad I'm back - I know I am! I'm hoping to give myself more time to do the things I love, but if I can only manage one, I choose blogging.

I think I'll change what I'm posting. I'll post things like this, but I think I'll also start posting book and film reviews, so that this blog links in with my Instagram account @fiction.and.tea (it's focused on books, if you couldn't guess) I have a slideshow of my feed over on the left, so if you like the look of it, do give me a follow - there's a link under my 'Let's Socialise' section.

If you'd like to, comment your blog links below, or any thoughts you have. Thank you for reading x