This June I Have…

  
As with all June posts, I can’t believe we are half way through the year;  as always it has flown by and I can’t believe I have nearly finished another teaching year.  With every month of the year, June has been very busy and this month I have been…

…reading

I finished two books this month, The Kingmaker’s Daughter is another book ticked off of my TBR Pile and my Reading England list and Jilly Cooper’s Wicked is a book I have read many times before but I love a reread especially if it is a Jilly Cooper book.

…been to Centre Parcs

  
My Grandad turned 80 in June and as a surprise my Grandma booked for eighteen members of my family to surprise him at Centre Parcs, a place we have been visiting as a family for over twenty years.  We always go to the Longleat Centre Parcs, even though we only live down the road and I love it there.  There is so much to do, whether you are booking activities that you have to pay extra for or enjoying some of the free activities, such as swimming or just enjoying the beautiful setting.  Perhaps my favourite part of the weekend was spending time with my sister, her boyfriend and my boyfriend; it was great to just chill with them and hang out as a foursome.  I took my selfie stick along and got the above shot of me with Grandad and my brother photobombing.

…listening to Paolo Nutini

  

I began listening to Paolo Nutini’s Caustic Love album on YouTube after I heard Iron Sky on the radio, but at the weekend I decided to buy the album so I could listen to it on my crazy long drive to school.  I don’t drive every day as sometimes I stay at my boyfriend’s, but it certainly made the drive much more enjoyable yesterday morning. I certainly recommend the album and he has a beautiful voice. 

…fallen in love with Liz Earle products

 
I discovered Liz Earle through my BirchBox and as I had built up enough points I decided to treat myself to a full sized bottle of the Hot Cloth Cleanser and some moisturiser.  I love the cleanser; it smells amazing and leaves my skin beautifully soft and is lovely.  I like the moisturiser too and I put it on before I go to bed, but it doesn’t smell anywhere near as nice as the cleanser. 

…visited another Thomas Hardy property

After May’s successful visit to Max Gate Mum and I decided to spend a rainy Sunday morning at Thomas Hardy’s Cottage, another property just down the road from us in Dorset.  The cottage is where Hardy lived until he was 34 and it is not exactly the biggest of places, but it is in a beautiful location and although there wasn’t a tearoom so on the property there was one just a short walk away.  No visit to an author house would be complete without at least one book buy and this time I bought Claire Tomalin’s biography of Hardy; having read her biography of Jane Austen, I was keen to experience more of her writing.  And there was an adorable little cat just snoozing upstairs on one of the beds too, so that made me even more excited. 

Another lovely month and these posts are really helping me to appreciate how lucky I am and how many wonderful things I experience each month, proving that it isn’t just work, work, work! On to July, which I know is going to be an eventful month! 


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Am I Brave? 

This is a question that has been at the forefront of my mind this week, mainly because of comments some of my work colleagues and family members have made to me regarding my upcoming trip to Australia.  My work colleagues in particular, both women who are only about twenty years older than myself, keep telling me they think I’m incredibly brave for choosing to travel alone and, although I don’t really agree with them, it certainly got me thinking about my reasons for travelling alone and why I’m actually really glad I am going alone.

 This is quite clearly the exact opposite to what I will look like when I travel, but I like to pretend I could look this glamorous and effortless…even though I won’t be taking any high heels…or a bag like that. 

Jealousy

This is an obvious reason. I couldn’t stand to watch any type of holiday programme, in fact I still feel this way and I had friends who always seemed to be going off on amazing holidays (with their other halves, but I’ll get to that) and I was stuck at home just faffing about.  Now at the fear of sounding like a spoilt brat, I know I am incredibly lucky to have such a lovely and supportive family and circle of friends and to have had the upbringing and education I have had, but I grew up with one parent who – and I’m trying to be very diplomatic about how I put this – saw travelling or gap years as a waste of time, so whilst I was living under said parent’s roof I genuinely felt I couldn’t just go and do what I wanted to, so I never did.  So whilst I am interested and excited for my friends who jetted off to wonderful new places, there was always a teeny part of me that was a little jealous and wanted to have some of the same amazing experiences. 

I booked the tickets at a low point

So now I have half convinced you I am a spoilt brat, the above statement will have you thinking I’m a sad, lonely spoilt brat, but let me explain.  I had decided in the summer holidays that I needed to travel outside of Europe before I turned 30 and I had settled on Australia because I always said I would go and I have a friend there, but when my flatmate said she was moving I was a little worried I would never actually be able to afford the trip.  Couple this disappointment with a cold, autumnal night, a blip on the dating front (or a long break with the boyfriend) and a stressful job and before you know it you have booked flights on a plane.  

These are very superficial reasons for booking a trip alone, but the more I think about it I have lots of reasons why I’m glad I have chosen to travel alone.

I can do exactly what I want

I love my friends and family and I love experiencing different and exciting new things with them, but it’s so lovely to think that I can do exactly what I want in Australia and I don’t have to compromise.  If I want to visit every zoo on the East Coast there is no one to stop me (I mention zoos because I am currently dragging boyfriend to any zoo within a 100mile radius), if I want to just sit on a beach all day not talking to anyone I can.  If I decide to change my plans and mosey off in a different direction, I don’t have to consult anyone. The only downside is I’m not exactly amazing at making decisions but I’m hoping this will iron itself out for the trip.  

It’s empowering

I’m already fairly independent; at 16 I opted to attend a completely different sixth form from my friends in a town a few miles away; I moved away for university and for my job, both in cities where I knew no one and I have lived alone, so this is just an extension of me proving to myself I can do this and I can cope on my own.  I believe you can’t be truly happy until you are happy being alone and know you can survive on your own therefore this is just an extension of this belief.  I love the thought that in decades time I can look back and say ‘yes I did that all by myself’…with a little help from people guiding me in the right direction and to the best places to visit.

It is taking me way out of my comfort zone 

For someone who does a job that requires a certain amount of confidence I’m not always great at meeting new people. In fact I prefer to stay out of the limelight until I know the people I am with relatively well and then I open up a bit more.  I know that with no more than a week in some places, I can’t really afford to be my usual self, unless I do want to spend the majority of the time on my own, so maybe I’ll come back feeling more confident in certain social situations.  I feel certain people I know will laugh at this paragraph, especially those who have known me for years as maybe I don’t always give off this impression, but I know inside I often feel like a twat ha! 

I can read 

Now I am fully aware that I spend most of my spare time reading anyway, but without the distractions of TV and the Internet I am sure I will get the chance to read even more.  But then again, I will have so much to explore that maybe I won’t. 

I’m sure there are many more reasons why travelling alone is a good idea, but I can’t think of them right now. I’m not big on these inspirational posters and comments, but I do like the following one and I think it sums up my attitude to the whole thing:

  

June BirchBox

  

Well over a year ago (I should really change my subscription to a yearly one) I signed up to BirchBoxUK.  BirchBox is a monthly – and I love post – beauty box filled with six or seven exciting beauty and lifestyle products; these range from: shampoo, hair products, make up, shower gel, body lotion and a whole range of other little treats.  Not only that, but the boxes are adorable and often themed and are great for bunny rabbits to nibble on.  Upon subscription you fill out a questionnaire (you can change the responses at any time) which is like a mini beauty profile and BirchBox makes sure they send you products suitable to your needs and appearance.  You also receive BirchBox Reward Points for every box that you receive and for every review survey of your monthly products, which means you are soon able to shop and buy full range products online; this is something I have recently done and I might add a review on my new discoveries soon.  

So in this, my first ‘lifestyle’ blog post, I decided to review my June BirchBox which has a beautiful flower print designed with French Sole shoes.  

Not included in the photo is HIP Ultra Shine Shampoo which I recently took on holiday with me.  I have received a few mini shampoos over my time with BirchBox but this one might be my favourite.  It smells gorgeous (peppermint and eucalyptus oil) and was a decent size so I even let boyfriend use some.

The Penhaligon’s Iris Prima smells amazing, a mixture of bergamot, sandalwood and vanilla apparently, and then I saw the price tag and I think this might be the stuff of my dreams.

I have tried a REN face mask before which was lovely, so I was pleased to see another REN product, this time an instant firming beauty shit.  You just apply a few drops onto clean skin and you are left feeling wonderfully soft.

The products I have yet to try are the Balance Me Body Wash although my sister was moaning I had dry legs today so this can only be a good thing and the ModelCo Mascara but you can never have too many mini mascara so as far as I’m concerned. 

This month’s box also came with some Temporary Metallic Tattoos which might come in handy and a cute French Sole Shoe Bag which will definitely come in handy for Australia.

I can’t wait to see what next month’s box has in store

The Kingmaker’s Daughter

 

Title: The Kingmaker’s Daughter

Author: Philippa Gregory

Published: 2012

Challenges: TBR Pile 2015, Reading England

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis

Anne Neville is one of The Kingmaker’s Daughters.  Her father, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick has helped to put Edward of York (Edward IV) on the throne, usurping The Sleeping King and ousting the House of Lancaster.  But of course it is the late 1400s and life in the Royal Household is far from stable.  Although many are happy that Edward is King, lots are far from impressed with his choice of wife, Elizabeth Woodville – the subject of Gregory’s The White Queen.  It is this marriage that causes unrest within the House of York, pitching old friends against one another and brother against brother.  Throughout Anne’s life she is surrounded by numerous plots aiming to deceive and undermine the Royal Household; she is used as a pawn by the men in her life, from her father to her first husband (a challenger to the throne) to her brother in law (George) and to her husband, Richard III.  When Anne’s father switches sides and fights against King Edward, Anne survivors the stigma left by his betrayal and his deceit.  She marries Edward’s brother and rises to become Queen, however she spends her life in fear of Elizabeth Woodville and her suspected witchcraft.

My Thoughts

I forgot how much I enjoy Philippa Gregory’s writing.  I have read the books preceding this one in The Cousins War series (The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Lady of the Rivers) and have the next two books on my shelf and the narratives are just so engaging and interesting.  It is not my favourite area of history but Gregory really makes it come alive and it is so easy to become lost in the world of secrets, treachery and betrayal.  The great thing about Gregory’s novels is that they truly capture the female voice in a strongly male dominated society.  It has been awhile since I read the earlier books in the series but the great thing about this series is that each book is told from a different female character’s perspective so they over lap slightly and you can easily pick up on the links and it is interesting to read about the same event from different view points, especially opposing ones.  

I’m not sure how much I liked Anne Neville as a character; yes, I know she is a victim of the time period, but she is hardly the most endearing of people.  She is torn so much between her loyalties to different people in her life and her quest to fulfil her father’s ambition and become Aueen warps her and makes her overly suspicious of everyone.  I suppose I did finish the novel feeling sorry for her, mainly because her husband is beginning to become overly flirtatious with his niece, making a laughing stock of Anne in the process.  I was utterly convinced that Anne was going to be pushed down the stairs and that was how she met her death, but clearly I’m confusing her with another poor wife in history.  I was pleased that I remembered one character was drowned in a barrell of wine, so at least I’m not too lost in random historical facts.

A slightly rambled blog post I know, but I’m tired (ha!). I’m going to try not to leave it too long before I read the next book in The Cousins’ War series, but for now on to a favourite author and a fantastic reread.