HOW I WRITE

When I was at uni, I studied Photography and Video for my degree, and having only just left, everything I learned is still fresh in my mind. I use it quite a lot in my writing as I am very able to visualise what I write, quicker than I am able to write it.

I think for one particular “scene” (I still call them scenes in my writing) I even gave myself camera directions to help me write it!

The more visual nature of my writing does mean that sometimes I feel my dialogue isn’t as good as what it could be. It’s definitely something I want to improve on.

  • Just go for it

When I have a specific scene I write from start to finish. This can sometimes get annoying as I think of the next great scene I want to write, but it helps me feel the story more. The more I break up the scene writing, the less I feel it flow out of me 

  • Write it down, then type it up

Writing my work down using the good old pen and paper stems back to school days, where I realised I learnt more when I wrote down the work myself, instead of hair reading off a print out. Writing my stories down first is the same thing to me. I have a far bigger connection to it when I write it myself. I can see it clearer in my mind (and I can’t make squiggle notes on my computer). 

However you like to write, if you have your own special way of doing it, do it like that, because nobody knows your sorry better than you. 

I Got Trapped In My Hostel Room!

Given that I was trying to travel differently then usual, and after a great experience in Amsterdam, I decided to stay in a hostel again. This time, however, I opted for a private room, because sometimes I just need to be alone. Introverts know what I mean.

I stayed in a place called “Das Nest”, which had great reviews on Hostelworld. I looked nice, had a private room and was relatively cheap. It ticked all the boxes for me.

However, given that I didn’t know Budapest, I had no idea of the area it was in. It was in a place called the Jewish Quarter, which I can describe by saying it wasn’t the best of neighbourhoods. If Buda was the place of spas, glamour and gorgeous scenery, this was the bottom of the barrel. Maybe I’m being to harsh, I didn’t have many issues, but it’s hard to place it in the shadow of being overlooked by beauty.

So, not many issues I said, then what was wrong? This only issue for me, was the entrance. I’m pretty bold and not frightened easily, but a constant presence of men who looked like they would offer me drugs if I were anyone else did put me on edge.

I had to call several times to the hostel office to know how to get in, having to walk through the group in the doorway. Then through coded doors, up stairs or a lift to a floor number I didn’t know (I could only gather it was a top floor as the photos I saw looked like a sloped roof) and again though coded doors.

At one point I was thinking I wasn’t going to find the place and would have to find another hotel.

I think the place could have better prepared guests for this, as there was nothing to mention this ordeal when booking. In the end I didn’t mind it, I got used to it, but knowing this at the start would have made the whole experience a lot nicer.

When I finally, FINLLY, got in, I was given my room “the best room in the place” as told by the guy who worked there, I tried not to laugh, it was a hostel after all, but it would definitely suit me fine, as all I wanted was some peace.

The man who gave me the key said the lock was a little dodgy. And HE WAS NOT WRONG! And so began one of the most embarrassing moments of my traveling so far. 

Yes, I got locked IN.

I tried the lock, no luck. But that was ok, he said it was difficult. I was a bit kinder to it and tried again. Still nothing. Again and again I tried. Soft, hard, anyways you would think a lock worked. Still I remained trapped.

And yes, I was getting that desperate that the window crossed my mind, until I saw the drop on the other side. Unbroken legs please!

In the end I had nothing else to try then to ring the reception. The whole situation was so stupid that at first he didn’t understand, then it clicked, and I got a hearty laugh. I couldn’t help but laugh with him!

My saviour arrived quickly, but the fiddly door was still a little tricky. In the end it swung open, my first thought being at least I wasn’t going to go hungry that night. Typical. 

We need up playing with the keys a little bit, until I finally got the hang of it. The oddest thing you can think of, they key worked when it was only halfway in the door. As any person who has sever used a key, I was using it the right way, the ONLY WAY. But no, that is not how this key wanted to do things.

Side note here, the key hole was really big, as I could see who was outside, and therefore gathered people could see in. to fix this I left the key in the lock to block this.

The bathroom closest to me, the only one I used, was actually really nice, a lot better than the place I stayed in Vienna.

Lean In – Or Should We?

It’s fair to say that for many years, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In was gospel to many a woman. Written from the perspective of a career woman looking to maintain a happy family, she addressed many aspects affecting young women, who want a job and a family. The balancing act that so many of us have to deal with often goes on quietly, which made Lean In a breakthrough.

Now, however, something seems to have changed. With Michelle Obama (Becoming is on my TBR) declaring that “Lean in shit doesn’t always work” is it time to change our view? Having read it some years ago, maybe times have moved on (5 years, is it really that long, or are we just moving so fast it feels like it? I need to sit down). Maybe it was never right to begin with.

The question is, does it work? What I think, and this sounds like a cop-out answer even to me, is that if it works for you, then yes. If it doesn’t, then no. It’s not a simple question to answer and can change from person to person, day to day. What works for you might be disastrous for me, and vice versa. But above all, if it gives you the motivation to try, then let that motivation take you.

When I first read it, I loved it. But then again, it told me what I wanted to hear, so I opened my ears and let it speak to me. You may hate it, and that’s perfectly ok. Not everyone is the same, nor should we be, you may not even WANT what Sandberg is selling.

But don’t let anyone else tell you what to believe in. Argue with me, argue with Michelle Obama, that’s how we get the conversation going. But listen to yourself. That way you can’t lose.

Best quotes from Lean In:

  • “Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder”
  • “Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about”
  • “The promise of equality is not the same as true equality”
  • “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

A Game Of Female Bosses

Let me say, I loved the idea of this (somewhat illegal) story. The idea of a 26 woman running a badass poker game in a world of men made me think, “you know what, I can be a badass too!” And I’ve still got a few years to go to get there.

Now with the concept of the story out the way, let me get down to the writing of the piece. I feel that it lets the story down so much. It is such a unique thing to write about in the fact it is supposedly true. (I say supposed as we all know biographies tend to embellish).

There are holes left in the story, small holes, mind you, such as jumps in time, “how did she get there” moments etc.

What bothered me the most was the lack of finesse in the storytelling. I could tell it was a biography because the story was presented in an “and then this happens, and then this happened” kind of way, the natural flow of a novel was left to the side in way of telling us what happened.

Relationships in the book were never truly developed, apart from those of her parents, and so the reader is left not caring about a relationship collapsing that she obviously cares a great deal about, and it’s a real shame.

Overall, it was a great opportunity wasted, a few more drafts and get the flow of the story right and it could have been great. But for now, all I am doing is wishing it was better.

2/5 (harsh way to start the new year. Sorry not sorry)

A Boutique Luxury Hideaway- The Exhibitionist Hotel London

London is known as being a city of eclectics, luxury, and art – and my hotel definitely got into this!

I stayed at the Exhibitionist Hotel, ideally located in Kensington. Not only that, but it was directly located on a quite street outside the national history museum. Never did I even think that somewhere so busy could feel so cosy and quite, just one street back.

With a name such as “The Exhibitionist” you would be right to expect something special.

One thing I didn’t know until I got there was that this was not just any building. No, it was next door to the psychics society, famously led by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock fame. As a huge Sherlock fan, this was really the cherry on the cake for me. I was where Doyle had been years gone by! 

I arrived early and handed my luggage in. I usually do end up getting there early, but I wasn’t upset my room wasn’t ready.

I came back when they said to, only to be told my room still wasn’t ready. Now that is annoying (and something that seems to happen to me a lot), but for the first time the staff dealt with it perfectly.

They gave me a space in the small lobby/ dining area and asked if they could get me a drink. Honestly after a lot of walking on a bad leg it was much appreciated.

Now, if somewhere says it’s 5 star, you would rightly think that it would be perfect (if reasonable), which is why I’m making a point to say there were no dressing gowns. The last 5 star place had one waiting for me (although far too large for me, but that’s my small people problem). 

This wasn’t a high place, cramming in as many rooms as it could, it was smaller than most hotels I have been in. Described as a “Boutique” hotel, I think that does encompass the feeling of the place. The smallness made it so you didn’t disappear.

The room was gorgeously appointed. Plush velvet coated the walls as a head board, stand out lighting added to the theme of the room (each room has a colour scheme, unless it is a suite, in which case it is completely uniquely designed).

The bed was as soft as anything I could have hoped for, perfect for my sleeping type. The duvet was the kind which you wish you had at home. The kind that would smother you in warmth and comfort whisker still being breathable.

I do wonder where hotels get them? I wish I could buy one like that but I’ve never come across one in the shops. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong place!

Out of my window there was what I figured to be a courtyard for another room. The only reason I figured what this space was because I may or may not have spied people taking their breakfast out there. Not creepy at all I promise! I did think maybe next time I should be just that bougie.

The artwork on the walls was a nice touch, and livened up what would otherwise be a quite dingy little space.

The bathrooms were a unique quirk that I liked. A know arched window through to the bedroom is something I have never seen before, and just the right amount of cheeky.

The glass was fogged so you still had privacy, but kept the standout feature.

The bath was glorious, as you would expect, even if I did go over board with the bubbles. The only issue, which is really a non issue, is that the headrest faces away from the window, with the taps face if towards it. What I would want to be able to do is lean back facing that unique feature, but have it hidden behind me! And the taps were far to bulky to lean against.

The room service was a little disappointing. It was a small or “boutique” as they call it, but I felt like they could have offered a few more options. The breakfast selection was lovely, but if you wanted dinner, you better want pizza! They had about 6 options to choose from (although they were kind enough to give you the chance to add more if you so wished, for a hefty fee)

To Very Good Lives

Stepping into a new year can be daunting, with so much pressure to make yourself a new you, a better you. It’s all about doing good things making waves, if you would believe the output of many publications. It can be hard at this time of year to accept that failure is good for you, just as much as starting a new goal. 

Perfection is what so many of us strive for, but that doesn’t mean perfection is the same thing to all of us. My perfect is not your prefect.

For the past few years I have been against New Years resolutions, instead trying to focus on making myself better any time of the year. And science agrees. A study’s have shown that those who wait until new year to start their goals end up doing worse than those who start before.

Some of my favourite quotes from this book really lend to the idea that life is not linear, that peaks and troffs only add to a tapestry that make our lives all the more interesting.

If we are afraid to fail, we would never fly. So try, even if you fall on your arse, at least you can say you did something.

I wish you all very good lives. 

A Mystery Between Pages…

NO SPOILERS AHEAD!

Diving into the classics this week, you could do worse than to pick up an Agatha Christie. I picked up a copy of Murder On The Orient Express while doing a weekly grocery shop, having just finished my last book, and looking for some new entertainment. Being honest, nothing else took my fancy, but this classic stood out to me. I surprised myself by not having read it before!

With such a legendary book, I didn’t know what to expect going into it. All I knew was that this had stood the test of time for a reason.

Set on the famous Orient Express, 12 people find themselves stuck on a train in a snow drift. Given that in Britain we have just had the worst snow storm I can remember, I found myself getting stuck into the story, the setting, everything.

Mrs Christie lets Poirot take the lead, unexpectedly finding himself on a train, with a murder committed on the other side of his wall.

The pacing was brilliant, unveiling new information and piecing it all together like a jigsaw puzzle. We are witness to interviews of the suspects, taking in one at a time what they say happened, the story all weaving together.

I would never spoil an ending, but I can say it was perhaps one of the most bittersweet conclusions that Mrs Christie could have written. I came into the book expecting for a murder to be solved but left with so much more.

I can see why some people wouldn’t like this book, but personally, I love it. Then again, I did grow up watching Mrs Marple whilst playing Cluedo (thanks, Mum.)

The only issue I had with this book is the somewhat outdated way some characters jumped to conclusions based on the characters home countries, as such one policeman exclaiming the Italian passenger must have committed the crime, due to its nature, “Latin temperament” was a notable quote. And I couldn’t forget the terrible misfortune of M. Poirot having to make do with a second class cabin (of which a big deal was made).

However, getting through these, how shall we say, differences, in how the world works now, the story still stands as a brilliant guessing game. I wanted to jump into the mind of Poirot, to see what he sees, trying to figure out the crime with him, as every conversation, he enters into has such meaning later on in the story, it is a definite must-read for any murder mystery fans.

4.5/5

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Top 5 cities I want to go to

Even in the same country, cities can have their own atmosphere (things I want to do in each place). The more you look into a place, the more gems you find. I wanted to take a deeper look into what I could do in these amazing cities, and I even suprised myself with some of them!

Are you supposed to amp yourself up in a blog post? Oh well too late.

Don’t Rush Your Traveling

There are so many places to go, so many sights to see. You have to get started now, if you ever want to see them all. And what about the future? When you have a job, or children? How can you travel then? And so on, and so on.

Stop, take a deep breath. The world (hopefully) isn’t going to end soon (although we need to pull our finger out about climate change)

Rushing to pack as much in as possible in a few short years will ultimately leave you exhausted, travel whipped lashed. 

You change, and so do places over time. What you might not have appreciated a few years ago, you love now. Just think of what that means for your future

If you went to the gym, you wouldn’t just go once, do everything quickly and expect to get the benefit, and to an extent the same can be said for travel. If you don’t stop and appreciate what your doing, you’ll never get the benefit.

So take the time to relax. Don’t try and fit your whole life into a few years. Look ahead.

Budapest

The amazing thing about Europe, is that you can drive for only an hour and be in another country. I decided to get a bus to Budapest, a place I had heard of vaguely, mostly via “Budapest” by… and a not much else. 

Despite this, I did as much research as I could before I went, because I am just one of those people that like KNOWING WHAT IS GOING ON. Which is quite odd because at the same time I would happily hop on a bus and just go, if money was no issue.

I had a few days in the city, which is actually two cities- creatively called “Buda” and “Pest.” The river Danube separates these two identities, with a glorious bridge linking them together. 

Buda is what I think of as old glamour. This is where you will find the bath, the magnificent scenery and a calm atmosphere.

Pest on the other hand is the reveres. New buildings spread around, it’s a tourist destination if I ever saw one. I feel like the have capitalised on the influx of tourism in recent years, with souvenir shops open the latest in the main city.

This is on top of passing a group of British tourists, dressed up in who knows what, running across the road shouting. I have never felt so ashamed but resigned. At least now I know why people don’t like the English! I was half in a mind to tell them off, but along they ran to whatever bar was selling the cheapest drinks.

One thing that took a little while to get used to, there were relatively few crossings where I was. For a very busy junction, I expected to see places to cross everywhere, but nope. Instead, there where a lot of underground pathways, used for their underground, which led to different sides of the street depending on which exit you took. If you went up the wrong one it was quicker to go back then wait on a break in the traffic.

The atmosphere 

With two cities, I can say there was two different atmospheres. I spend most of my time in Pest. The place had a buzz. People lived here. They partied here. And apparently, they like “Topless bars” or whatever was going on behind those doors, I didn’t want to linger. I always think it’s a shame when I see this. You just know they are targeting tourists, who more than likely wont respect the locals and would have definitely had a lot to drink. 

There were people milling around my hostel, and not the friendliest looking, which wasn’t always fun, but I never had an incident with them. I just kept my head down and didn’t engage.

The streets were generally clean, as much as you would expect any main city to be, and the streetlights meant I was never walking in the dark.

Walking around in the dark, in a foreign city I didn’t speak the language in is never the most comforting situation to be in, but the truth is I didn’t feel unsafe. Yes, there would be dangerous places, but traveling alone you do develop an intuition (if you didn’t already have it- us females are pretty smart). Not drawing attention to yourself is probably the best thing you can do. Often, I went out in a hoodie and jeans. A big sign to pickpockets- nothing to see hear folks!

Boat tour

Baths

An affordable luxury

It wasn’t expensive, but it wasn’t as cheap as some might imagine it to be. I’m ok with this as I don’t want to take advantage of locals

Things I didn’t like

There was a seedy atmosphere in some places, which I would liken to Amsterdam’s Red Light District

How much did it cost?

Hostel-140

Spending- 200 ish

Per day? 110 ish

Most expensive thing- The spa, more so than my room.

Level- budget

It was a great little break away on a budget. If you don’t go crazy in the spa like I did you would almost certainly spend a lot less well (depending on how much you like to party)

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