Gaming

A-Z of My Favourite Games

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Gaming has been a huge part of my life ever since I was just a toddler watching my siblings play on the MegaDrive and the PS1. The first games I remember seeing were Aladdin and the Lion King (so excited to play the remastered versions!) as well as games like Tomb Raider, Spyro and Crash Bandicoot. That means about two decades worth of games that I’ve played in my lifetime! So I thought why not compile some of my favourite games or franchises in alphabet form?

I thought this would be a great way to show you what kind of games I play while also reminiscing on games I haven’t played in ages. Of course, there will be many games left out on the list due to there being multiple that start with the same letter. I will be choosing the ones that mean the most to me, but I will give a shout out to some others if I feel it was close!

A – Animal Crossing

I was first introduced to Animal Crossing on the GameCube round a friend’s house. Being the sucker for cute animals that I am, it’s no wonder I love this game. It’s such a stress free and wholesome game (that I sort of wish I lived in). Though I love games with epic storylines or adventure, it’s nice to just sit down and plant flowers or talk to your animal neighbours for a while. I can’t begin to explain how excited I am for New Horizons!

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B – Bioshock Infinite

I actually haven’t played any other Bioshock games which is a shame, but I really loved Bioshock Infinite. The scenery is so beautiful and I love the whole steampunk atmosphere. It’s such an interesting world and combined with the shocking story it blew my mind. It was probably one of the first story games I played too so it felt like a whole new experience.

C – Crash Bandicoot

When the N.Sane trilogy was remastered, I was so happy; the first game in particular I have fond memories of and playing it again brought back waves of nostalgia. Hearing Crash’s ‘woah!’ and Aku Aku, I couldn’t believe I was playing the very same game I played all those years ago. I’m actually still on the first game because I’ve found it so challenging, which I don’t remember it being, though that’s probably as I never got that far as a child. One day I will have finished the entire trilogy (speaking it into existence to encourage me).

D – Destiny

I was so late to the party with Destiny but Jordan and I played through the story of both Destiny and Destiny 2. We’ve also been doing the raids with our friends which are super stressful but so satisfying when you finally complete them! The game has definitely come a long way since the first one and it’ll be interesting to see what Shadowkeep is like. Here’s a GIF of us doing a raid on the first game and half of us getting yeeted.

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E – Endless Ocean

This was a game I played on the Wii and I put a lot of hours into it! Which is strange, considering snorkelling is one of my worst nightmares as I’m scared of what lurks under the sea. You basically explore the ocean to find a variety of species and hunt for treasure, before your main goal is to find the ‘White Mother’, a rare albino blue whale. You can also have your own dolphins which swim alongside you! It’s a relaxing game, though it does give me a mini heart-attack when a huge shark or whale approaches you.

F – Fable

I started off with Fable III and adored it,  I’ve actually lost count of the amount of times I’ve replayed it! The whole vibe of Fable is just so unique, with British celebrities playing lots of the characters and the humour being top notch. I’ve recently started playing the first Fable and will move onto Fable II after that, which I’m excited for as lots of people have sung its praises. The age of the first Fable is clear from playing it, but it still has those over exaggerated British accents that make me chuckle.

G – GTA

I borrowed GTA IV off Jordan when I first got my Xbox 360, and I just loved being able to drive around the open world and mess around. GTA V exceeded my expectations with the even bigger map! The story was excellent and it was such a good game to play with friends online (though I do remember the hell that online was when it first came out). And of course, it was fun to play as three very different protagonists. I haven’t actually played it in a while so I must return to it soon. I’d love to visit LA just to see all the locations!

H – Harvest Moon

I still remember the day I bought Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life for PS2. I was at my nan and grandad’s in London, so I didn’t have my Playstation with me. Instead I re-read the booklet inside (I wish games still did that) eager to play it when I got home. I love the farming aspect and exploring the little village. My brother had a go and loved it so much he then bought it for his GameCube! I feel like the next Harvest Moon games haven’t been so good and would love A Wonderful Life remastered, though I know it’s not going to happen. I know it’s now under the name Story of Seasons, so I might pick it up when it comes to Switch to see what it’s like!

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I – Inside

I played this recently and really enjoyed it! I loved how you were thrown into the game and though you weren’t outright told the story, you could work it out as you played. There was an eerie atmosphere created by the dark scenery and the quiet soundtrack, as well as the general plot of using mind control to control who seemed to be brain dead people and being on the run. The puzzles were a good difficulty too.

J – Jackbox Party Games

Playing Jackbox for the first time, I thought it was crazy being able to play on your phone and get everyone involved even without owning a console or the game themselves. It’s not exactly ground-breaking technology, but it was the first time I’d played anything like it. It’s perfect for when you have friends and family round, and you can even play it with strangers online if they have the room code.

K – Kingdom Hearts

I spoke about this in my birthday post, but I’d only ever played the first game before I got the third one. It’s a very complicated franchise to keep up with as I haven’t had the right platform to play many of the games on, so I’m more of a casual fan. But I remember getting the first game in Woolworths (RIP) and loved that combination of Disney and anime. The third game is so beautiful as well and it’s cool to see the modern Disney films like Tangled brought to life!

L – Life is Strange

This is actually one of my favourite game series, though I know a lot of people think it’s cringey. I just got so attached to the characters and being able to redo your actions, seeing the various outcomes, was a cool aspect. I cried so much at the ending, then cried at Before the Storm…then cried at the one off prequel episode. I’m waiting until all of the Life is Strange 2 episodes come to Game Pass before I play it, but I’m so excited.

M – Mario Kart

It’s so cool to have seen Mario Kart evolve throughout the years on each console! I think everyone will agree it’s one of the best party games, despite it almost destroying friendships. I like that although the base game is pretty much the same each time, it’s exciting to see new characters and maps added, so you can expect what to get out of the game while also having a few surprises. Yoshi is my go to character! (Have to give a shout out here to Minecraft too, which will never die.)

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N – Nintendogs

This was a hard one as I couldn’t find any game that I’ve played beginning with ‘n’ so I’ve had to resort to Nintendogs, though it was a great part of my childhood! My first original DS came with it, so I spent most of Christmas day shouting into the microphone to name my dog and taking them on walks. We also used to have ‘toy days’ in primary school at the end of term, so we would all bring our DS in and trade items. Simpler times!

O – Old Man’s Journey

I was struggling to find something for ‘o’ when Jordan suggested Old Man’s Journey, so I started playing it. The art style is absolutely gorgeous, with hand drawn illustrations which could have come straight from a story book. There is no dialogue, the story of the old man looking back at his past shown through images. It’s a relaxing point and click game, which I would recommend for people looking for a chill, bittersweet experience.

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P – Pokemon

I’m not the world’s biggest Pokemon fan as I’ve only played a few games like Mystery Dungeon and Black/White, but I also really enjoy Pokemon Go and recently Pokemon Let’s Go. I’m so excited for Sword/Shield, particularly as it’s inspired by the UK, and to see all the new Pokemon! It looks like it has so many new features too, and it’ll be fun to see it in all its glory with the Switch graphics.

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Q – Quantum Break

This is such a good game and I don’t hear people talking about it enough! Combining film and game, and seeing your choices affect the film you get, is so unique. I loved having that mixture of playing through an action packed level and then getting to put down the controller to watch what happens. It’s such a good example of how important story is in games like these. I definitely need to replay this one as it’s been a long time since I finished it for the first time.

R – Red Dead Redemption

I’ve gone on about Red Dead way too much on my blog already like in my review of Red Dead 2 and my soundtracks to listen to, but I honestly can’t explain how much I love this game. It is one of my favourite games of all time, and I was so happy that I loved Arthur just as much as I loved John. It totally exceeded my expectations and I didn’t think anything could top the first game. Jordan hasn’t finished it yet, so when I came out of our room crying my eyes out I couldn’t even explain why! (Shoutout to Rocket League too, I’ve played it for years and it’s a game I always return to despite it making me rage.)

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S – Super Smash Bros

Another one of my all time favourite games, Smash Bros Ultimate was mind blowing seeing just how many characters were in it, and we’re still getting more. I started off with Melee, also playing Brawl and the 3DS one, so it’s definitely one of those games I’ll keep buying for every console. It’s such a great party game and even though I’m not exactly into fighting games, I love the whacky items, the cool maps, and my favourite characters. I main Pikachu or Pichu. (Shoutout to Spyro and Sims here too.)

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T – Telltale Games: The Walking Dead

Cheating a little as this actually comes under W, but I couldn’t choose just one Telltale game for W. It’s such a shame what happened to them as I would have loved to see what the future held for their games. I’m still yet to play the final season of The Walking Dead, but I loved the first three. I actually think I cried more at the end of season one than I did with both Red Dead Redemptions. I started sobbing before *it* happened as it was spoiled for me so knew what was coming, then cried for half an hour afterwards. I would also tear up every time I thought about it for about two weeks. Yeah, I get attached to characters. As a writer too I love story driven games, though it does stress me out worrying if I made a wrong choice. (Shoutout to Tomb Raider here too.)

U – ?

V – ?

W – The Wolf Among Us

One of my other favourite games by Telltale is The Wolf Among Us. I’m absolutely gutted that we won’t be getting the sequel now, especially as this game ended on a cliffhanger. I loved the dark twist on fairytale characters and Bigby was a great protagonist because of how imperfect he was. It was also fun to work out the mystery and be a detective, which was a little different from the other Telltale Games. I think the artstyle of the Telltale Games in general too is really unique.

X – ?

Y – Yoku’s Island Express

I’ve only recently started playing this game but it’s so cute; you play as a beetle taking on the role of postman for his island. It’s a pinball style game, so you navigate the island using the bumpers to hit your beetle. The world is really pretty and it’s another game that’s quite relaxing which you can pop on when you don’t feel like playing a story game.

Z – Zoo Tycoon

I have such fond memories of Zoo Tycoon when I was younger, though it was stressful trying to please all your animals as well as keep the zoo clean. It helped my love for animals grow and learn more about different species. The latest Zoo Tycoon is good but doesn’t have quite the same feel as the old one. I’m looking forward to Planet Zoo as the graphics look amazing, and I know I can easily put hours into it.

 

I’m actually pretty impressed that I’ve only missed out three letters! But there we have it, that’s an A-Z of my favourite games. Are some of these your favourite games too, or can you help me out with my missing letters? Let me know down in the comments and thank you for reading!

(GIFs found on Giphy.com)

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing

The Benefits of Sharing Your Writing

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If you follow me on social media, you will have seen that recently I finished editing the first draft of my novel! It was such a relief to know that I was capable of writing an entire book and that my hard work left me with a finished product. However, the next step was to share my novel with friends and family for them to be my beta readers. Even though I’ve had lots of experience with sharing my writing at university, it was still daunting. Had my work all been for nothing and would no one enjoy it? Would they be too polite to tell me if they didn’t?

Thankfully, I’ve had lots of positive feedback as well as some great suggestions which will really help me get my novel up to scratch before I query to agents! But I know despite there being nothing to worry about, a lot of writers still have this anxiety surrounding letting others read their work. Which is quite ironic, considering if we want to publish our work it has to be read by others! I’m still not entirely confident whenever I do share my work, but I’m writing this post to encourage you to do so and explain why it’s extremely helpful.

To boost your confidence

One of the biggest problems I think writers face is not thinking we’re good enough. We pour our heart and soul into words, then think it’s terrible. Or sometimes we’re proud of it, but worry that no one else will like it. A lot of writers are shy, introverted people who perhaps struggle with self-confidence. But sharing with others is one of the best ways to overcome this in your writing.

Receiving compliments is a sure way to make you feel good about your writing. After all the work you’ve put into it, you deserve to be told how talented you are! It will inspire you to keep writing while also making you feel less nervous about showing others your work. It may seem a little big headed to enjoy being complimented, but it’s what you need to show you that your writing is worth it. No matter how ‘bad’ you think it is, it most likely isn’t, as you have spent so much time rereading it and analyzing it that you almost become sick to death of it! Of course, it isn’t all about the compliments though.

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To become used to constructive criticism

My main worry when I had to share my writing at university was whether or not I’d be able to handle having my work critiqued. I’m a sensitive person, and didn’t want to burst into tears at every negative comment I received! Luckily, the majority of people were really nice and offered great advice, not ripping into my work like I thought they would. Sure, there were a few condescending people, but if they’re not giving you advice in a polite, helpful way, then they’re just being rude. These people clearly aren’t thinking about your feelings and I’d do my best to ignore them!

This will then prepare you if you want to get your work published. You need to go through the editing process where you will receive changes to make, and then comments or reviews when your book is out there. It’s normal to feel protective over your work and feel hurt if someone points out something they didn’t quite like. But you need to remember that your work isn’t going to be perfect or please everyone. Constructive criticism is there to help you, and you don’t always have to take that advice if you really don’t want to. You know your work back to front, but if something isn’t clear or multiple people point out the same thing, it’s worth thinking about changing.

Remember, it’s all about the way people say it though; if someone says ‘I don’t like this, change it, this is bad’, they aren’t being considerate and not people who you should share your hard work with. But if someone says ‘I was a little confused by this, could you elaborate?’ or ‘I’m not too sure about this because of *insert issue here* could you maybe do *this* instead?’, this is constructive. We were taught in university about the ‘shit sandwich’ where if you’re critiquing someone’s work, you say something positive, some constructive criticism, and then something positive again. This is the right way to do it!

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To have a fresh set of eyes looking at your writing

As I mentioned earlier, you’ve read your work so many times that it can be hard to not stress about it being bad, and you can easily miss out on typos or editing mistakes. Having beta readers allows you to see what it’s like for a person reading it for the first time with no prior information. This is of course helpful as when your work is published, this is exactly what readers are going to be experiencing.

Other people will spot things you won’t, from spelling errors to continuity mistakes. Don’t feel embarrassed at these, as every writer will have them in their early drafts. You want your novel to be the best it can be before you send it to agents, and though it doesn’t have to be perfectly edited, it will really help get it to a standard which will impress them.

 

I hope this has been helpful for writers out there who are afraid to show their work to others and just go for it! It is easier said than done, but once you do it, it gets a lot easier. Just remember that people are there to help you, and if anyone is rude, they don’t deserve to read your work anyway!

This also doesn’t have to apply to fictional writing, but blog writing too. I know a lot of people don’t like sharing their posts with people they know in real life out of fear they’ll bring it up. However it’s more than likely they’re going to be supportive and you’ll find you had nothing to worry about, but if they’re not…block them.

What are your experiences of sharing your writing? Let me know down in the comments and thank you for reading!

Reviews

First Impressions of the Wacom Intuos Drawing Tablet

Drawing Tablet

Illustration has always been a passion of mine alongside writing. At school, many of my Art projects were based around designing children’s picture books, and I even made my own by hand in university. However, doing everything by hand can be very time consuming, and there is more room for error.

So when Amazon Prime day came about, I did a bit of research and found the Wacom Intuos tablet. It was reduced from £60 to £40, which was around the price I wanted. I’d always fancied a tablet to improve my illustration and produce cleaner art work; Jordan ordered it for me as a birthday gift and I then waited eagerly for it to arrive.

Even just seeing the outside of the box made me excited and it didn’t take long before I opened it! Inside was the tablet, the pen, the USB lead and some instructions. The first thing you have to do is plug the tablet into your computer or laptop, and visit the website stated in the instruction booklet. This then installs the driver so you can use the tablet. If I remember correctly this only took a few hours and then it was ready to use.

The next step was installing the free software that comes with the product. This was actually one of the reasons I chose this tablet, as Photoshop and Illustrator are too expensive for me! You get a choice of one of either their photo editing software or their digital painting software. I went with the painting as of course this is what I bought the tablet for. To install the software you make an account with Wacom; again, this didn’t take an awful amount of time to download and it was ready to try out that same day.

The software is called Corel Painter Essentials, and it doesn’t look too dissimilar from Microsoft Paint. It looks overwhelming at first and there weren’t any instructions on how to use it, so I spent a lot of my time experimenting with it. There are lots of different pens and brushes for you to play around with which create various artistic effects. I have a cartoon-like style, so I love using a black pen outline before filling with the paint bucket and using an airbrush for shading! I would definitely recommend looking into tutorials on YouTube so you can really get to grips with the software, as incredible paintings can be made with it. Here are some of my designs so far, which you can check out on my Red Bubble store (casual plug).

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The tablet itself is very easy to use. Put the pen to the tablet just as if it’s a notepad and watch what you draw appear on your screen. The pen can be used as a cursor too by hovering over the tablet, so you don’t have to keep switching between that and your mouse. There are two buttons on the pen and four on the tablet, which can be callibrated to different shortcuts. I haven’t got round to doing this yet, but one of the buttons on the pen allows you to drag the canvas, which is great for when you’re doing little details and need to zoom in. You can either leave the pen in the dip where the tablet buttons are, or insert it into the loop on top, so you’re less likely to lose it.

I was really concerned about pressing down onto the tablet and how much pressure it could take without scratching. However it is very sturdy; of course you shouldn’t press as hard as you can, but applying pressure like you would with a normal pen doesn’t damage it at all. There will be some marks and smudges but these will wipe off easily. The pen nib does wear down a bit, but there are replacement nibs inside the top of the pen. I feel like the nibs will last a while though, so you shouldn’t go through them quickly.

Using the pen honestly doesn’t feel that different from drawing by hand, as it tracks your strokes extremely well. Unlike drawing by hand where you have to rub out or spend ages colouring in, the tablet is so convenient to undo your actions or use the paint bucket to fill. I love how my illustrations are much cleaner and more professional, perfect for what I wanted, for example designing stickers for Red Bubble.

Overall, I am really impressed with this product. I would have liked for there to be maybe a tutorial on the software, but the tablet itself doesn’t need much of an explanation. Installing the driver and software was straightforward, and I’ve had no issues so far. I’m very happy that this tablet has allowed me to expand my illustration and achieve what I want. It’s reasonably priced for what it is and great for beginners just getting into the world of digital art.

Do you have a drawing tablet and how have you felt it’s impacted your work? Let me know down in the comments and thank you for reading!

Travel

A Day at the Eden Project

Eden Project

Hello and welcome back to another blog post! My last blog post was about my time at the Tamar Otter Sanctuary on holiday, so following on from that, today’s post is about when we went visited the Eden Project! I visited years ago and really enjoyed it, but my nan had never been and we were happy to go again.

Once you get into the car park, you can either walk to the main entrance about a mile away or get a shuttle bus there. I’d recommend getting the bus to save that time and it’s a bit of a trek for someone elderly like my nan. At the main entrance there’s the visitor centre, with ticket booths, a café and a gift shop; the shop is always quite busy and crowded but particularly at the end of the day when everyone is leaving, so I’d perhaps have a look here first or somewhere in the middle of the day!

At the Eden Project, there are the outdoor gardens, two large biomes, a building called the Core, a stage and an arena. There’s not really any particular order you should visit these in, but for us it rained at the start of the visit and cleared up in the afternoon. Check the forecast before you go so you know if it’s going to rain, that’s the perfect opportunity to visit the biomes. Luckily, it poured it down just as we visited our first biome, so we could spend the sunny afternoon in the outdoor gardens.

The outdoor gardens are absolutely beautiful. There are thousands of different species of flowers and plants, with a variety of bright colours. It was so hard not to take a picture of every single flower I saw as they were all so pretty! The bees were loving it, and though I’m usually a wimp when it comes to wasps and bees flying near me, it was so nice to see them enjoying it, particularly the lavender. As well as flowers there were also herbs like thyme and mint, and allotments with pumpkins.

The Core building has a new exhibition called Invisible Worlds where you learn about things like human microbiomes and cyanobacteria, depicted in this huge sculpture below, which produce oxygen. It’s really interesting to learn about things I never knew about before, especially with interactive exhibits and lots of visual stimulation. It’s great for children to learn about science in a fun way. There’s also a café here too with lots of healthy and vegan options.

The stage at the moment has an exhibition called Earth Story, which focuses on our planet and how important the animals are to the ecosystem. It showed if an animal went extinct how it would affect the entire food chain, as well as all the animals we have already lost. It was such an emotional video relaying the species that were gone even before I was born, and all the ones that are extinct at the moment. However, there was some hope, as a lot of these species are on the rise and making a comeback. There are lots of organisations and people doing their bit, encouraging us to do what we can to save the planet. Sadly this is not a permanent exhibition, but it was really effective in making you think about the actions you take.

The two biomes are the Mediterranean and Rainforest biome, joined by a building with shops and a restaurant, which has both indoor and outdoor seating. Again, the restaurant has lots of options for different diets, with a pasty shop and ice cream just outside. I opted for my favourite lemon sorbet which was lovely in the warm weather! I also bought some items in the shop, as they sell a lot of cruelty free, vegan, and plastic free things. I got a cleanser and a moisturiser which have actually made my skin feel so much healthier, and they come in glass bottles too. It’s just a shame that when I run out I won’t be able to get any more!

I also bought a shampoo bar to tackle use of plastic and palm oil, but unfortunately it hasn’t really worked with my hair! It stays sticky after drying despite washing and rinsing for ages. However I’m probably going to experiment with different amounts and see if that makes a difference because it wasn’t cheap and I really want to make that switch to a bar.

Both the Mediterranean and Rainforest biomes are so impressive. As a succulent fan I loved seeing all the cacti and aloe vera planets in the Mediterranean as well as citrons and sculptures in a vineyard. There was yet another place to eat here too with pizza and other Italian or Spanish cuisine, which would have been lovely to eat in surrounded by the vibrant plants, but we had already bought pizza for tea for when we got back!

The Rainforest biome was just as pretty and really warm, though there was a cool room there for people to go if it was too much for them. You can learn about how chocolate is made and how palm oil can be sustainably produced, while also seeing bananas growing on trees and pineapples in the ground. There is also a waterfall which is lovely and cool to stand by, and a hut to buy baobab smoothies from. There was an amazing walkway high above the entire rainforest, but because it is so hot at the top they have to close it if it’s too much. When we went to go on it, it was closed because the climate there at that moment was similar to Brazil!

That covers all the main attractions at the Eden Project, though there’s plenty of places to eat and drink around, as well as accessible pathways. There’s also a land train which takes you back up to the entrance so you don’t have to walk up through the gardens to get there, and children’s play areas.

Overall, Eden Project is a must-see place to visit if you’re ever in the area of Cornwall! It’s informative and amazing to view, with lots of events going on throughout the year suitable for all ages. I would warn you that it can be very busy in the summer holidays though, but I’m not sure if it’s less so at any other time.

Have you ever visited the Eden Project or would you like to? Let me know down in the comments and thank you for reading!

Travel

A Day at Tamar Otter Sanctuary

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Welcome back to another blog post! Last week you may have noticed that there weren’t any posts, but this is because I’ve been on holiday! I went to Devon/Cornwall with my family, where we stayed in a converted stable in the middle of the countryside. It was so quiet that it was almost eerie, and the sky was so clear you could see every star (we even saw a shooting star!). I was considering doing one big post about the whole holiday, but decided just to do a couple on individual days instead.

If you’ve seen my Instagram, I posted about my time at Tamar Otter Sanctuary. It was difficult to choose just ten photos, so I decided to do this post to show you some more photos I took on a proper camera! This is in no way sponsored, I just wanted to share what was a cool experience!

There are two types of otters at the wildlife park; the Asian Short Clawed and the British otters. The Asian Short Clawed are smaller, and we got to see a couple of them at feeding time! They were eagerly climbing the fence and squeaking to get our attention. If you’ve never heard the noise an otter makes, please look it up now as it’s one of the cutest things in the world!

There was another enclosure with British otters who would follow each other round wherever they went, relaxing by their pond to swimming around to climbing on top of a tree branch. It was so funny seeing them running around and being so interested in the visitors!

We listened to the birds of prey talk to get to know a bit more about them. They had various owls and eagles, but my favourite had to be the barn owl who looked so sweet. We learned facts such as owls have one ear higher than the other so they can hear both above and below them. You could even hold them and stroke them, but it was quite busy with a lot of children so I didn’t get the chance to do that. There were also some other little birds throughout the sanctuary too.

Various animals like peacocks and guinea fowl roamed free around the place, but this three legged deer was just the cutest. We’d been told when buying the tickets that this deer loved neck scratches but didn’t like it if you scratched his back. I can confirm that he absolutely loved having his neck scratched, looking very blissful, and he was even licking my palm.

My personal highlight of the day was going into the Woodland Walk, where fallow deer and wallabies had plenty of room to explore. You were not allowed to stray from the path and instead let the animals come to you if they were interested, staying quiet as to not startle them. You could buy feed for 50p, so we bought a bag and managed to feed both the wallabies and the deer! It was amazing to be so close to them and see how beautiful they are. Not all of them would be interested in you, but if you held out your hand or sprinkled some on the ground, a few would come over and happily eat from your hand.

It was such a cool opportunity to be surrounded by animals and learn more about them. It’s not very often you get to experience being close to a wild animal, and I liked that the sanctuary focused on not scaring them and letting them do what they wanted. You can’t force them to come up to you, so it’s a privilege when one does come close to eat from your hand!

This is definitely a place to visit if you’re in the area, particularly for animal lovers. It’s not the biggest place, but we spent a good few hours there and there’s also a café to have something to eat like cakes and ice cream. I’d like to go there again if I ever go on holiday nearby, as adorable otters and deer will never get old!

Have you been to this place or would you like to visit? Let me know down in the comments and thank you for reading!

 

Writing

Advice For Your Novel Writing Dream

Novel Writing Dream

Hello and welcome back to another collab post from Shannen and I. If you missed our first collab you can give it a read here, but this time we’re giving you an insight into why we write fantasy, as well as some tips on how to start that novel you just don’t know how to begin.

I’ve recently finished the first draft of my fantasy novel which I’m so pleased about! It has taken me a good two years as I started it at university, so finishing that last chapter was such a special feeling. After a break I’m beginning to edit it this week, before I start showing it to beta readers! That’s such a nerve-wracking but exciting event. Meanwhile Shannen is in the process of querying her fantasy novel to agents, which is amazing and I have everything crossed for her! It’s so great to see the accomplishments of fellow writers.

My Love for Fantasy

Fantasy has always been my favourite genre, whether it be book, film or game. I grew up with Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I was obsessed with unicorns, fairies and mermaids. I played with toys by myself, letting my imagination create a story for them. What drew me to fantasy was the entirely new world and its characters, so much more exciting than reality. I loved magic, talking animals, elves. It amazed me how they all came from someone’s mind, from their imagination.

I want to turn the world in my mind into something that can be shared with others, just like Tolkien and Rowling did. I want people to feel the same way reading my work as I did watching Lord of the Rings or reading Harry Potter. This is why I choose to write fantasy. There are no boundaries and so many ideas to play with. I can create brand new species, a whole family tree, my own universe. The possibilities are endless, and I feel the same way I did when I was making my toy horses have adventures when I was little. My goal is for readers to be sucked in and have a break from reality, just as those I’ve looked up to have done!

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Shannen’s Love for Fantasy

When I first started writing around four or five years old, I used to write about fairies living in the bottom of my grandmother’s garden. I have always loved reading about magic. At first my love for fantasy began with books about unicorns and talking animals and Enid Blyton’s The Wishing Chair. After I moved to Australia, it continued with Mem Fox’s Possum Magic and Elyne Mitchell’s The Silver Brumby. These books all transported me to different worlds. While children’s books about animals that can talk aren’t the conventional fantasy story, it began a life-time love for fantasy books, and led to me writing my own.

As a young adult I loved reading Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and watching the films after I finished reading each book. Now I’m reading The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and I’m really enjoying it! Tolkien is such an inspiration and I admire his ability to have created a world, language and history of that world.

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How to Start Writing Your Novel

My advice

Something that always crops up in my comments whenever I do a blog post on writing, is that budding writers simply have no idea how to start writing a novel. Shannen and I have come up with some tips to help you conquer this and show you how to begin!

  • Brain dump – The first thing I did when my novel idea came into my head was to write everything I initially thought was going to be in the story. I wrote down character ideas, what the world looked like, and a very basic idea of a plot. A lot of it didn’t even make it into the novel, but writing it down makes your idea more concrete and allows you to mull over it. It’s essentially a basic outline of your novel, giving you something to work with. Anything you can think of, from the exact outfit someone is wearing to a vague image of your protagonist’s bedroom, everything is useful.
  • To plan or not to plan? – Shannen and I talked about this in our last post, but some like to plan meticulously while others don’t. If you’re itching to write after your brain dump, just go for it! But if you don’t feel like you know enough yet, try some of the planning exercises I mentioned in this post. Think about the things you’re not so clear on and do an exercise to do with that. Get to know a character by doing a character interview, or create a moodboard for your world. Plan however much you want to as there really is no right answer; it’s all about how confident you feel.
  • Write a scene – To get a sense of your writing style and your narrative voice, practicing a short passage is a good way to do this. It doesn’t even have to be a scene from your novel; try writing your protagonist starting their day or doing something as simple as walking through a forest. Think about whether you want to write in first person or third person, past or present, perhaps even try writing in all of them. Do you want to be an omniscient narrator or get right into the mind of your protagonist? What voice does your character have and how do they react to situations? These questions can be answered just by writing a page and may better prepare you.
  • Just write! – You’ll never start writing unless you get pen to paper or hands to your keyboard. Even if you have just a basic outline of your opening, get stuck into that first chapter or wherever you feel is best to start. If a part is fresh in your mind, write it down. My post on nailing your first chapter had things to consider including, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that initially. Just getting your story own is the most important thing. Don’t feel pressure to spend time making it perfect or worrying it’s not right. Your first draft is extremely likely to change! Enjoy the flow of writing and losing yourself in the words.
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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Shannen’s Advice

Every writer has their own creative process and approaches their work differently. You might have different ways of motivating yourself or getting yourself in the writing ‘zone’. My advice is to do what works for you. Personally, this is how I have started my novels:

  1. Envision an image for the world you want to create – Before I started my first fantasy novel, I drew a picture. It was a picture that I was randomly inspired to draw, and as I drew an image formed in my mind of the world I wanted to write about. It was a world of kings and queens and war, intrigue, love and sacrifice. These are themes that run throughout both my first book and the prequel, and pretty much sum up what the series is about.
  2. If you don’t know where to start, write a poem – When I was studying Creative Writing at university, I often wrote poems before starting short stories. I wanted to get my thoughts down in a meaningful, concise way, and found that poetry achieved that. I took each line and turned it into a paragraph, building on ideas.
  3. Know your characters – Write at least one paragraph of notes on each character, and know the following facts about them:
    Age, who their parents are, who their siblings are, what their role is in the story, and what their significance is to the plot. You don’t need to plot your story if you don’t want to. I find it easiest to write without sticking strictly to the plot, but it is essential that you know your characters because it is their personalities, relationships and choices that drive the story.
  4. Read – The thing that is going to help your writing improve most is reading other people’s books. Read, read, read! I cannot emphasize enough how important reading is when writing a book. I’ve written notes sometimes when reading a really good book, picking up helpful tips from the author. These tips can be on writing dialogue, capturing scenery, or sentence structure. One very valuable lesson I learned from reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was that short sentences can be very powerful. Meaning and emotion can be conveyed through as little as three words.

Finding the Time to Write

My advice

One of the main issues of writing a novel is finding the time to actually write it. There are jobs and commitments people have that take up all of their time, no matter how much they want to write. If you feel in that situation, maybe these tips can help:

  1. Designate a writing day – Having a day dedicated to write clears your schedule so you know that you do have that time. It doesn’t have to be the same day each week, but if you take a look at your calendar and see a free evening, mark it down. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get much done though, as writing can’t be forced. It’s just a way for you to know that you do have the free time there for you.
  2. Short bursts – Though it seems like there is no time to write, there are small breaks that can be filled with writing. Take public transport to work? Bring a notebook and write on your journey. Advert break on your favourite TV show? See how much you can get down. Waiting for your dinner to cook? Get your laptop out. If there’s a moment where you feel like you’re doing nothing or waiting for something, that’s the perfect opportunity to write. Even think about replacing a Netflix binge or gaming session with writing, so you can alternate between down time and working on your novel.
  3. Join a writing group – Sharing your writing with others is a great way to improve, so joining a writing group is not only beneficial but gives you a session to write in. Have a look if there’s anywhere locally such as a library which holds one, or organise it with friends. You could even hold an online one. As well as giving you specified time to write, it’s good for socialising with other writers.
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Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

Shannen’s Advice

Between university, blogging, work and life in general, I struggle to find time to write. Usually I’ll write when I don’t have any assignments due, or when I really need to offload stress and anxiety. I am always in a better mental space when I’ve been writing. Diving into the fantasy world of my characters offers a break from the craziness of normal life. I get to see situations and people through the eyes of somebody else. I’m not saying that my story world is a lovely, happy place – the Northern Kingdom is beautiful but it is torn by broken dreams, war and heartache. It isn’t perfect, and my characters go through some bad, tough, sticky situations. But I enjoy being in that world, alongside my characters. My favourite thing about writing is spending time with my characters – I’m sure this is something that other writers love about their craft as well. Like other art forms, writing can be sad but beautiful and meaningful at the same time. It’s an outlet for our personal struggles, anxiety and pain.

Anyway, here’s my advice:

  1. Add writing to your ‘to-do list’ every day, and record how many words you write per day. I usually do this in my writing journal, to track my progress. I find that doing this motivates me to write as many words as possible and to keep going. Sometimes the words flow easily, and other days they don’t. If you don’t feel like writing, don’t force yourself. It’s always good to take a break when you feel uninspired. Writing when you’re not in the mood is like working out when you’ve got no energy.
  2. If you suddenly feel inspired and want to get a sentence or paragraph down, type it into the notes on your phone or write it down on a piece of paper. I’ve often done this, and add it to my manuscript when I get a chance.
  3. I usually write first thing in the morning, because that’s when my best writing gets onto the page. Find a time of day that works for you; a time that you feel most productive.
  4. Try writing in a cafe. I love visiting my favourite cafe and setting time aside to write there every week. I know that I’ll always be productive with my writing while surrounded by books! Find a place that inspires you to write.

 

We hope any other aspiring authors out there can find this advice useful! It’s nice to give writing tips to fellow writers as working on a novel comes with so many challenges, and I wouldn’t be where I was today without that help from the writing community. Thank you to Shannen for collabing with me and you can check out her socials here:

Blog: https://shannenclaire.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shannenxclaire

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shannenxclaire/

Please don’t hesitate to ask for further advice down in the comments or let us know your ideas/what you’re working on! Thank you for reading and I’ll catch you in the next blog post!

 

 

Short Story Series, Writing

Part 6 Short Story Series

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Hello and welcome back to my short story series! If you missed the last one you can catch up on it here. For today’s short story, I was given the task of writing a story based on a historical event. I found this so daunting at first; historical fiction was not something I’d ever attempted and I was concerned about keeping it accurate. However I actually found the research side of it quite fun, trying to keep the story accurate while also adding my own spin on things. I chose to do the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, so here is what I came up with.

The Beheading of Mary Queen of Scots

The time had finally come.

Mary had awaited her fate long enough, fully prepared after being confined in yet another dingy room, this time in Fotheringhay Castle. She’d had plenty of time alone to think. She didn’t fear what was going to happen. Everyone knew this day would come and here it was.

The door clicked open behind her but she didn’t flinch at the sudden sound breaking the silence. Someone cleared their throat and Mary turned around. The jailer was there, who she’d seen plenty of times with his dark shaggy hair and a beard so large it seemed to suffocate him, his lips barely visible. However there were two more men there; one had a shining bald head with not a hair to be seen on his pointed face whereas the other had dark, thinning hair and a great beard reaching far below his chin. The pair of them were dressed smartly with ruffled collars and gleaming gold buttons. The Queen’s representatives.

The bald man began to read from a scroll but Mary hardly listened. She knew what it meant. There was only one bit of information that her ears filtered through to her brain. She was to be executed early the next morning.

“Thank you. This is good news,” Mary told them solemnly, her words unwavering as her lips moved softly, head bent towards the ground. “Nothing could be more welcome to me.”

The men frowned at each other and then looked back at her, bewildered by her composure. She didn’t cry or scream for her misery would finally be coming to an end.  Ever since she’d entered the country as a prisoner she had anticipated her death, knowing that it would come sooner or later.

“I beg of you, let me write my will and place my affairs in order first,” Mary urged, tearing her hazel eyes away from the ground suddenly, wide and pleading. “I just need a little more time!”

“No, no, Madam you must die, you must die!” the man with the thinning hair blurted out harshly. “Be ready between seven and eight in the morning. It cannot be delayed a moment beyond that time.”

Mary considered wildly slapping him across the face in anger. Surely they had the power to grant her request? She’d already proved she did not fear the execution. She simply did not want to die without doing the necessary procedures that anyone else on the verge of death had to go through. Why should she be any different?

She did not say this aloud. She only nodded.

Once the men were gone and Mary was alone again, she hurriedly started to write farewell letters, careful not to smudge the ink as her hand moved across the parchment. She wanted them to be perfect. Her ladies-in-waiting sobbed as she bid them one last goodbye but Mary shed no tears. Instead she prayed to God.

***

                Mary strode into the large room, her heavy black dress failing to falter her steps as it brushed the floor but only enhancing her majesty. Her black veil floated slightly as she walked and the golden crucifix she wore bounced just below her chest.

On seeing the linen covered scaffold in the centre of the room she was to be executed on, her expression did not change. Her lips stayed shut in a straight line, her heart-shaped face hard and unmoving like a statue carved from marble. Her eyes did not glisten with tears and neither did they glimmer with pride. They were dull brown pebbles, no life or shine, as if she was already dead.

Stopping before the scaffold, Mary called over her major-domo.

“Please help me mount this. This is the last request I shall make of you,” she said. After everything he’d done for her, making all of her arrangements and taking charge of all her business, Mary felt it was only right that this was the final thing he did for her.

She now stood on the scaffold; it reminded her of a giant dining table, the linen material acting like a table cloth to prevent spillage from spoiling the wood. That meant she was the meal, the centre piece that everyone was looking at. But it wasn’t a food or drink spillage that would stain the table cloth.

As a last bit of comfort, Mary requested her priest. The officers refused, offering a Protestant minister instead. For the first time her expression changed, her eyes burning and creases appearing in between her eyebrows as they shot towards each other. She shook her head furiously, appalled at the thought of anyone other than her priest, let alone a Protestant minister.

Mary ushered over her ladies-in-waiting to remove her veil and ornaments. The hooded executioner reached a hand over to do it himself but Mary reeled back.

“Nay, my good man, touch me not!” Mary cried, pulling away from him. However when her dress was lowered to her waist he gripped her arm and ripped off her doublet, the tight fitting jacket worn over her skirt. Mary attempted to cover her exposed throat and neck, covering the milky skin with her hands, aware of the hundreds of people watching her.

She kissed each one of her ladies-in-waiting for the final time, making the sign of the cross above their heads as a blessing. Tears filled their eyes and one woman began to weep, unable to contain her sorrow. Mary hushed her, telling her to stand aside silently and pray to God for her soul.

A handkerchief was tied around Mary’s eyes so all she could do was stare into blackness. Without hesitation, Mary kneeled down; the coarse cloth scratched at her knees and hands so she dared not move as to not graze her skin clean off. She could hear sobs and sniffs coming from all around her and for a moment she was shocked; hadn’t she been hated by these people?

Mary squeezed her eyes shut, muttering Latin prayer, repeating the same Psalm over and over again. She laid her head down calmly on the block.

“In te, Damine, speravi; nan-“

The executioner swung his axe downwards which collided with a fleshy thunk, blood spraying onto the ground. Mary choked and gasped, pain searing through her. The axe was brought down twice more into her severed neck, a noise like someone squeezing a lemon echoing across the room.

Mary’s head was held high in the executioner’s hand, showing it to the crowd.

“God save Queen Elizabeth! May all enemies of the true Evangel thus perish!” he yelled, yanking off Mary’s head dress. The once auburn hair was now white, strands hanging limply around her face. The handkerchief still remained, eyes hidden from the rest of the world.


 

I enjoyed writing this so much more than I originally thought! As well as researching the events of the day, I also looked into the appearance of Mary and the Queen’s representatives. This made the story as accurate as I could make it, also including the things that Mary and the other people actually said. The only thing that research couldn’t tell you was how Mary felt. Only she could have told you what was happening inside her head, but I did my best to put myself in that position as well as looking into accounts of what her expression was like.

No matter how you feel about Mary Queen of Scots, it must have been terrifying to know that you are going to die, and being prevented from things that you want to do before your execution. I wanted anyone who read the story to empathise with her, as well as giving them an account which was as true as possible. I tried to make it very visual, so that readers could really picture everything that was happening. This is why I focused a lot on the clothes that Mary wore and what the scaffold looked like. I particularly like the line “a noise like someone squeezing a lemon”, no matter how gruesome it is, because you can imagine the sound so vividly!

I think the one thing I would change about this story is maybe the narrative voice. I feel like it’s quite passive, and should maybe more of a close third person to really envision the thoughts in Mary’s head. Possibly a first person account might have been better for this, so readers could be in Mary’s shoes. Writing dialogue in an old fashioned way too is something that I don’t like doing as I never do it, but of course this had to be done to portray the time.

Overall, I’m quite proud of this story considering it was my first attempt at historical fiction! It was fun to piece together all the research I found to make it accurate, but also embellish it a little to make it more dramatic. What did you think of it? Let me know down in the comments and thank you for reading!

Gaming

Games I’m Currently Playing #2

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One of the first posts I did when I started blogging seriously was about the games I was playing at that time. Gaming is something that I do everyday and though I have some games I return to often, the main games that I play change throughout the year. That’s why I thought I’d make this a series and do a part 2!

This isn’t a full list of the games I play, but ones new to me that I’ve recently gotten into. I’m also not including games I’ve reviewed for Rapid Reviews UK so you can check them out on the site itself, and please go take a look so you can keep up to date on the talented writers and game lovers there!

I’ve just converted to the Xbox Ultimate Game Pass, so I have over one hundred new games to play in a variety of genres, more than enough to keep this series going!

My Time at Portia

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I was so excited to see this added to Xbox Game Pass recently as I’ve been meaning to play it. I was a huge fan of the Harvest Moon game I had for the PS2, but others I’ve played haven’t lived up to that. This has definitely filled the Harvest Moon void, though it isn’t exactly the same. The main gist of the game is that you have taken over your father’s workshop in the town of Portia, helping the people while also improving your own farm. I’m not particularly far yet but it’s very addicting and I can’t wait to start buying animals, which was one of my favourite parts of Harvest Moon. You can see that this game has been inspired by Harvest Moon but it definitely stands out as a game on its own. I love the design of the characters and the town, and it has lots of unique aspects such as mining and fighting which Harvest Moon didn’t have. I can just tell I’m going to be grinding lots on this game to expand my farm!

Super Lucky’s Tale

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I saw this at E3 years ago and thought it looked right up my street. A combination of Spyro and Crash Bandicoot, you play as the cutest little fox trying to save his sister, going through different worlds with gateways to numerous levels. Each world has a different theme, all bright and colourful with great character designs. It’s not too challenging and you can fly through levels fairly quickly, but there are a lot of collectibles to find which makes the process a bit longer. I’m just playing through the levels at the moment in a laid back way and will probably return later for collectibles. The art style is really sweet and any game with animals always hooks me in! You can also dress up your fox which is why my Lucky is looking super cool in shades.

Monster Hunter World

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I’ve been intrigued by this game for a while but never knew much about it. For some reason, I imagined it like Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy, with that sort of art style and battles. I was quite surprised when I played the actual game but not disappointed. The game does have a story but you mainly stay at a hub, starting a quest from there which leads you to the outside world. I thought it was going to be more open world where you could venture through the land. However it is really fun and it’s multiplayer too, so you can work with your friends or people across the world to take down monsters. I honestly suck at the game so it’s a good thing you can team up as it gives me more of a chance to actually complete missions. You also have a Calico as your cat companion, one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen (I mean, look at his little hat and goggles!!) and I customised mine to look like my cats!

Ark Survival Evolved

Years ago I used to watch Youtubers play this game and thought it looked so much fun, but a little complicated. There just seemed like so much to do that it was overwhelming. I was eager to give it a go though and I really enjoy it! Basically, you’re in a land surrounded by dinosaurs and must keep your attributes up such as hunger and warmth to survive. I love the aspect of starting from nothing and having to work your way up by crafting things. It is a bit of a grind to level up and craft all the items but I find it strangely addicting. The best part is that you can tame the dinosaurs so they can help scavenge, can fight alongside you and you can ride them. So far I’ve only tamed Delilah the dodo as I’m very early game (Doris the dodo sadly died protecting me, RIP), but I’m having lots of fun and can’t wait to tame more. The game is so pretty too and I often stop to admire the scenery. Here’s a friendly Brontosaurus climbing over my makeshift house!

Update: That friendly Bronto and his mate got mad when Jordan took their egg, so tried to kill us and destroyed half of our new house…also Delilah is dead, RIP.

Strange Brigade

I went into this game knowing literally nothing about it. Jordan told me it was multiplayer and to download it so we could play with our friends. I only guessed from the cover art it had something to do with zombies. There is a hoard mode and the campaign, so we went into the hoard mode first. It’s the same concept as CoD Zombies, except it’s not just your average zombies, but skeletons, mummies, charging mythical bulls and scorpions. It was only when we started the campaign that I realised why that was; set in the 1930s, you can play as four different explorers, solving puzzles and fighting enemies in ancient Egypt. It’s so fun and purposely over exaggerated, so it’s cheesy but in a way that you can’t help but laugh. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a multiplayer game!

 

Those are the five new games I’ve been playing recently and I’ve really enjoyed all of them! I have to give a mention for Rocket League here too; it’s a game I play all year so I can’t really include it in the series but I do play it regularly, and I feel like I’m starting to improve after years of playing!

What games have you been playing at the moment? Have you tried any of these? I’d love to hear down in the comments, and thank you for reading!

Blogging

The Mystery Blogger Award

Mystery Blogger Award

It makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside being nominated for awards and knowing that people are enjoying my blog, and when Amy nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award it was no different! Thank you so much to Amy for the nomination, I love that her blog is honest and has a chatty style that’s easy to read, so you should definitely go check it out!

Created by Okoto Enigma, The Mystery Blogger Award is a way for bloggers to show appreciation for those whose blogs they think are captivating and inspiring, full of passion and deserve recognition.

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The Rules

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  6. Nominate 10-20 bloggers.
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice.
  9. Share a link to your best post(s).

Three Things About Me

  1. For some reason there was a time when I was little where I wanted to be a farmer’s wife. I don’t think I quite knew what it entailed, only thinking I got to hang around with horses and chickens, with a farm dog and cat. Needless to say that’s not my aspiration anymore.
  2. My first journey on a plane was on a school trip to Poland when I was about 17. Everyone expected me to be so nervous but I was actually excited and enjoyed looking out the window, not even worrying when we had loads of turbulence. However since then I can be quite an anxious flyer.
  3. I really like drawing; I have notebooks filled with drawings since I was very young and spent a lot of my spare time doing it. I did Art for A-Level at school and did some children’s illustration in university, but since then I spend more of my time writing. I’m thinking of investing in a drawing tablet and getting into it again!

Amy’s Questions

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Oops, I’ve partially answered this one! Though there were a variety of things I wanted to do. Being a vet was up there, again thinking I just got to play with cute animals all day before realising it was a bit more gruesome.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever been given?

My sister got Jordan and I tickets to the Harry Potter studios and we made a weekend of it, visiting London Zoo too, so that was really fun! Jordan also gifted me an Xbox for our first Christmas which elevated my love for gaming.

What’s the emoji you use the most often?

According to my emoji keyboard it’s the red heart, but I feel like I use the blue heart and the heart eye cat emoji more than that!

What was the best advice you’ve been given when it comes to blogging?

Be yourself. There are thousands of bloggers out there but no one is you, so they’re not going to have the same writing style and same interests as you. It’s what is going to keep people coming back to your blog!

Cocktail of choice?

Sex on the beach.

My Nominees

This is the hardest part of these types of posts because although I’d like to nominate lots of people I’m never sure who has been nominated or not! So sorry if you’ve done this before and no pressure to do your own, but I am tagging:

Questions

  1. Do you remember the first film you watched in the cinema?
  2. Why do you love blogging?
  3. What is your favourite animal?
  4. What do you typically order when eating at a restaurant?
  5. What was your favourite childhood TV show?

My Favourite Posts

  1. Why Write?
  2. Games From My Childhood
  3. Helpful Planning Exercises for Writing a Novel
  4. Places I Visited in 2018
  5. 5 Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas

Thank you for reading and please go check out everyone who is linked in this post!

Lifestyle

Switching to Cruelty Free Make Up

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Switching to cruelty free make up is always something that I’ve wanted to do. Why should animals be harmed for the sake of my face? However, when walking into Boots I was never quite sure what was cruelty free and what wasn’t. Even after doing research, it seemed like a lot of brands weren’t available there or they were really expensive. I’m not huge into make up so I would never drop £30 on a bottle of foundation as I don’t really see it as a priority. I usually buy whatever is cheap but good quality, so for a while I’ve stuck to that under the impression that all cruelty make up was something I couldn’t afford.

But after seeing some blog posts and doing more research a couple of years later, I’ve found that there are actually brands out there that are affordable, vegan and cruelty free. I went to my local Boots in the hopes of spending some birthday money on cruelty free make up and I came away satisfied! All items are from the Makeup Obsession line by Revolution, so here is what I bought:

All A Blur Blurring Primer

Primers have been something that I’ve bought the last couple of years but I’ve never been sure whether they actually work or not. I’ve felt that make up goes on a little better but couldn’t quite tell whether it extends wear or makes much of a difference. However with this primer, I’ve noticed that it makes my make up a lot more even and clear, with less pores and blemishes on show, particularly on camera too. They also do a primer for pore minimising and one for redness, with all packaging in pretty pastel colours, so I might have to give these a try next!

Brow Goals Brow Pencil

My last brow pencil was on its last legs but it was the perfect shade for me, so I was worried about finding a new one. I thought this one might be a little too brown as I need more of a gingery shade to match my roots, but I bought it anyway and was super pleased to find the shade was perfect. The angled precision tip is a lot more precise than anything I’ve used before, meaning my brows are a lot more defined and I can fill in those small spaces without trouble. The brush also helps to shape them which is good as my brows are quite unruly, though I think I need to invest in a clear gel to set them too. My only concern is how long it will last as the lead is so small, so I’ll have to see how it goes.

Mega Conceal Longwear Concealer

There wasn’t a foundation in this collection, so I went for the Mega Conceal thinking it would be perfect for the summer when I only want a thin layer. A little goes a long way with this concealer and it does have a fairly good coverage. However, I have found that at the end of the day the texture seems to go a little strange around my chin and reveal some redness, as well as going oily. I’m not sure if this is a problem with the powder or not, which I’ll talk about next, or the fact that I’m spending long days in the hot sun, but it was quite disappointing as a base. I think it’s great for small areas and has a nice consistency, but it wasn’t as long lasting as I hoped, so I will be investing in a different foundation that is more suited to me.

Game Set Matte Powder

My skin has always been a little oily so I need a great powder to eliminate this, always going for a matte powder. I picked this one up and was impressed when I first put it on, making my skin less shiny and clearer. Though as mentioned above, I had oily skin at the end of the day and I’m not sure which product is at fault or whether it’s the heat. I’d need to top up throughout the day with this or perhaps invest in a setting spray. However I have always had problems finding the right products for my skin, and both this concealer and powder may work perfectly for you. Everyone’s skin is different and I’m still glad I bought these as I will continue using them.

Overall, I was impressed with what I bought, but finding something that works with my skin has always been a struggle and they are still good quality products. The primer and brow pencil will have a firm place in my make up bag! With an offer on at Boots, all of this cost me just £15! I’m glad that I can get cruelty free make up at such affordable prices with it also being good quality. I do have more to go with converting everything in my bag to cruelty free, but I’m happy I have made this start. Next on my list is a foundation and a mascara, and I may pick up some other bits too.

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Here are some other cruelty free brands as well as Revolution:

  • Sleek
  • Barry M
  • e.l.f
  • Nip+Fab
  • Soap & Glory
  • W7
  • bareMinerals
  • Natural Collection
  • No 7

These are just to name a few, so you are sure to find something in your price range and experiment with different products to find what is right for you. I think with the rise of cruelty free brands that are affordable, there really isn’t much of an excuse not to go cruelty free, and it’s such an easy change to make in your life.

What are some of your favourite cruelty free brands or products? Let me know your recommendations down in the comments and thank you for reading!