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Europe Travelling Vibes: Prague

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This summer I decided to do as much as I could to satisfy my travelling cravings, so booked an interrailing trip with my best girlies. I’d never been to Eastern Europe before, and what better way to do it than to check off 4 places in one fell swoop. We didn’t have much of a plan on our departure, all we knew was the places we were staying (not how to get there..) and the length of time we had in each country. I don’t think any of us expected to have as many ridiculous travelling adventures as we did, we thought our holiday would encompass sightseeing and sunbathing but it was so much more than that. We had all of the experiences, met all of the people and came away with all of the stories. So without further ado, the lowdown on our time in Prague, and the pretty but crazy place that it is…

So of course our day of arrival was the hottest day Prague had seen in about ten bazillion years. I love sun more than the next girl and can usually deal with a bit of heat but this took some acclimatisation. Did anyone ever tell you that backpacks are not the most useful thing for minimising back sweat? We arrived at quirky Hostel Elf in much need of cold showers, only to head into town to resume the sweaty bum and waistline routine. Our first mistake came from choosing a seat right in the centre of the Old Town square for our first Prague beer. They charged 5 times everywhere else and we were served by the moodiest woman I’ve ever encountered. To be fair I’m not very good at converting my English into English that other people understand. “Could I possibly have a lager at all?” did not go down well. “Lager you what?” All the death stares.

We had been told that a walking tour was the best way to see a city, and in hindsight I’d have to say I agree. Just try not to do it in 38 degree heat. Our fabulous Harry Potter-esque Czech guide attempted to guide us to shade wherever possible but we still managed to get seriously dehydrated. However we discovered much of Prague history, saw lots of Jewish synagogues and learnt an unexpected amount of art related facts. Gothic, Baroque, Art Nouveau, who knows? By far the most favouritest part of this tour was being shown the Astronomical Clock. It was actually a very interesting clock, but the great part about it was that on the map they had labelled it the ‘Astronomical Cock’. Most overachieving sight ever.

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My favourite day of sightseeing was when we crossed the river to walk up to the castle. Every czech word we learnt we seemed to turn into our own hilarious version. For example the ‘Prazsky Hrad’ castle became ‘Party Hard’. Who wouldn’t want to go to party hard?! The castle isn’t massively impressive as you approach it (particularly with scaffolding everywhere, they could’ve chosen another time to maintain their historical buildings, god) but once we got to the tower and climbed the most NEVERENDING steps in existence, it was magnificent. The views down to the castle and across the river over the rest of Prague were beautiful, and the top of that tower was about the only place we got a nice breeze going during our entire stay. We stood up there for a long time. Taking selfies, obvs.

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Food wasn’t high on our agenda in Prague, mainly because sun and sweat makes you hungry never. We had 1 proper meal in 4 days which was a traditional goulash with weird non-dumplings, but we still managed to experience some Czech funnel cake and smoked sausage (which I dropped on the floor causing people to slip on ketchup and men to laugh at me). So much girthy sausage. One of the reasons we loved Prague was because it was small enough that it only took a day or two to get our bearings, if you started at the old town square (where all the weird and wonderful happenings take place) you could find your way to pretty much anywhere. Except the time I found myself on the other side of the city at 3am having walked for 3 hours in flat sandals, armed with 1% battery and a map. But that story starts with a bar crawl…

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We did a fair few bar crawls over our interrailing time, but this was one of the best. Named ‘the clocktower crawl’ (cocktower?) they boasted traditional Czech bars and clubs and 2.5 hours of free sangria. Boy were they not lying. Situated in a dungeon of sorts, we drank inordinate amounts of homemade sangria which meant that by the second bar we had already forgotten our lives. True to their promise, we were taken to a standard Czech club where the music ranged from house to… house. Europeans sure love their house. As the DJ told me when I requested Rack City ‘sorry, I only play progressive house.’ Drunk as we were this didn’t faze us and we still took to dancing on the stage, because, why the hell not. It was after this that the drama and confusion ensued. Everyone got lost and whilst Grace was searching for a 24 hour bar (which she found by the way, well done Prague ten points to Gryffindor) I was wandering the city with no clue of where I was.

I bumped into a basketball team that we had watched play 3×3 earlier that day and acted like a groupie until I realised they were of the creepy man mentality. Despite my vulnerable lone no phone situation I was not raped or murdered and managed to navigate my way to the aforementioned 24 hour bar to crash Grace’s date. After that debacle you’d think that bed would be on the cards, but no. Cheap goblets of beer and 7am sambucas were the way forward, of course. As the sun came up we danced to soul music in the beer garden with random high people and loved life. Don’t worry, the adventure didn’t end there. After returning our new friend to his hostel we then walked in circles for an hour attempting to cover the 5 minute distance to our hostel. I cried because my feet had never hated me so much. It was emotional. But hey, we got back just in time for breakfast with a weird gothic man pacing up and down the terrace in a kind of trance (hippie hostel, y’know) before 9am bedtime with a backdrop of ‘Jammin’. Hostel life.

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Our second most favourite night comes in the form of our favourite Czech word, Zlaty Strom. Which of course was always pronounced Slutty Strum. At the point of informing our hostel and the world about this club, we had no idea what it was like. It was only upon entering the medieval style club that we realised they took their name quite literally. The main focal point was a cellar encircled by a bar with poles along it, accompanied by pole dancers. Of course. Why would you not expect that. Surprise though this was, we enjoyed the experience more than the next man. Having been inspired by husky Irish men who constantly talked in percentage of hornyness, we decided to employ this tactic and upon every visit to the pole cellar updated our horny percentage. 30%? 50% definitely. Don’t worry we are not lesbehonest. Aside from the objectification of women, this club also had some great 90s and noughties music to offer. Pretty much every one of our dance routines came out on that dancefloor, resulting in vodka being poured on us from balconies. That’s what you want.

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The one place I wouldn’t recommend visiting is the famous 5 floor ‘biggest club in Europe’. Our first bar crawl took us there because, obviously, were tourists, but it was not our scene at all. We like small, probably skanky, dancefloors where the bar is never too far away. This was room upon room of music and people and getting lost in swimming pool pits and ice bars. If you’re that way inclined then go for it, but you’re probably 18 as everyone else there will be. The funniest moment of the evening was when we’d left the club and were waiting for a cab. We noticed that a group of guys had got into fisticuffs but not in the usual ‘ladladlad’ way. No sooner had the fight started than one of them broke down in tears because the drama was all too much for him. His friend comforted him by saying they could go to McDonald’s to which he wailed ‘I just want a burgerrr’. English boys in Prague, wow… Our Prague time came to an end too soon but I feel we definitely made the most of the city and it’s amazing ways. Next stop, Vienna…

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Dos and Don’ts of Festival Packing

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Do pack:

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Bumbag. My absolute favourite accessory to wear and one of the reasons festivals are so great. It’s acceptable to wear bumbags all the time. What’s not to love about a bumbag? It is so handsfree, all your belongings are easily accessible, and you look mighty cool. Well I do anyway. Definitely get a cool Aztec one like this one and don’t be a lameo with a dadpack. Or if you must be at least customise it with badges and all the glitter. I’ve gradually started increasing my use of the bumbag on general nights out and I haven’t been openly judged thus far… It will be a thing soon!

Torch. One of those things I always know I’ll need but slips my mind every time. Unless you’re planning on staying out until 8am every night (a definite possibility) you’ll need some light for your drunken tent search for pyjamas and teeth cleaning essentials. Ain’t nobody got time for stumbling over tent pegs and sleeping tent mates when all you want is a warm(ish) sleeping bag kip.

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Fancy dress. Okay okay, I know it can be very lame and over the top but if you can’t do it at a festival when can you? Pack up all those flower garlands and disco pants you bought for that 80s party that never happened and wear them with pride for all the festival enjoyment. Trust, no one will judge. People may even try and steal your fabulous attires.

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Glitter. On the subject of fancy dress, you will require glitter all day all festival. There is no excuse for being at a festival and not having glitter on your face. Nominate someone from your group who can apply glitter without making you look like you have a disease and demand that they glitter your face every day. You will become a happy glitter fairy sort of person and that’s always fun to be. You will also end up transferring glitter onto people whenever you hug or kiss them, so that’s great. Spreading the love and happiness and all that 🙌

Wellies. Don’t be the fool that forgets these. You might think you can brave the mud in converse but believe me, you can’t. You will get trench foot and fall over lots. Says she who wore flip flops out for the day when she knew it was raining later. You live, you learn… And you force your friends to piggy back you up the hill to collect said wellies.

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Rain jacket/mac/cagoule. Likewise, you will definitely regret not packing one of these bad boys. I choose to pack two (not a light packer as you might be able to tell), one for heavy duty thunder rain protection, and one for festival themed fun (see above). Or just to make me look like a spaceman. Yes it can be annoying when the sun comes out midway through the day and you’re left to tie your rainmac around your waist like an old man teacher on a school trip, but that my friends is English weather for you. There’s no predicting it, so be prepared or get ill. (Sitting on the wet ground for 2 hours at 8am can also do that to you, take note people).

Berocca. Every day at a festival has to be a good day, there’s no hiding in your tent all day and waiting for the hangover to pass. Things to do, people to see, crazy happenings to happen. Get some berocca down you as soon as the evil sun let’s you sleep no longer and you’ll be set for the days activities.

Facewash. Simple as it is, washing your face after a sweaty sticky (ew) nights sleep is one of the most glorious things you can do. I recommend The Body Shop’s seaweed facewash, it will make you feel like a totally new woman/manperson. Scrub all the alcohols and mud and mistakes away. Another GREAT thing to bring is face mist (again, I use The Body Shop). Go into your friends tents and wake them up with a spritz of this to the face, they’ll hate you at the time but then realise that you are a miracle genius.

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A large tent. This might seem like a luxury, but you will be living in this tent for a while and sleeping on top of all your belongings with a damp tent skin next to you just isn’t fun. Remember, 3 man actually means about 1.5 persons plus an unrealistically small bag. Being that person with the extra room means that you can change without getting cramp, you can be messy without it preventing you from sleeping, and you can provide an emergency drinking space when that pesky rain comes down (maybe more of a curse than a blessing, but at least everyone will love you and we all love to be loved).

Portable charger. If you take one piece of advice from this post, let it be this one. I got my portable charger from amazon (link) for £25 and it charges your phone fully 8 times – more than enough for any festival. Without it you’ll only end up losing all of your friends and searching crowds for hours, or paying extortionate amounts for someone to hold your phone hostage in a van for 30% more batteries. Some people choose the brick, but this way you still get to take photos and use whatsapp groups and all those things were unhealthily addicted to.

Shewee. I have a confession about this one. I bought it for Glastonbury because I am the most inconvenient wee-er in the world. Like, I will need to wee just when kanye west is about to start and we’ve found a good spot, or just when everyone has been for a wee and I thought I didn’t need to. Yes people hate me. So to minimise the hate I thought I’d be all brave and modern and buy a shewee. But I just didn’t have the courage to use it. First of all, Glastonbury is all about not peeing in inappropriate places and the designated shewee area had a queue longer than the Yorkshire pudding stall (yes, this was a real thing), but to be honest I didn’t really try to use it and I’m slightly regretting this now. Latitude is going to be the time when I learn to wee like a man, bring it on.

Portable shower. This was something that a friend brought and turned out to be an absolute life saver. No one wants to queue for disgusting festival showers and short of pouring bottles of water over your head, it’s either this or be a dirty skank for 3-5 days. I was surprised at how powerful the shower nozzle was, it actually felt like a proper shower, and at only £35! One tip – try to find a semi-sunny moment to use this, it’s still pretty damn cold so you’ll need all the rays you can get.

Don’t pack:

Too many clothes. I always love to have as much choice as possible when putting on an outfit, but festival packing is all about saving space for necessities (and there are a lot of them). Before packing those 3 maxi skirts, ask yourself if you will actually want to wear them after day 3 and all of the mud. Jeans are also the most unused festival wear, you’ll either be too hot or you’ll have soaked denim stuck to your skin. Grim.

Yoga mat. Sleeping is obviously something that you don’t do much of at festivals, so the limited sleep you manage to snatch has to be as comfortable as possible. I usually take a fold up cushiony thing that does the trick, but this glasto I was coaching it down there so thought a compact yoga mat would be more suitable. No. Just no no no no. There is literally zero points in having this monstrosity pretending to be a bed underneath you, you can still feel all the grounds and stones and a good nights sleep will not be on the table. Push the boat out and get a blow up mattress, 4 nights later your back and mental state will thank you enormously.

Canvas shoes. So the weather is looking bright and sunny and heck there might even be a heat wave, and you’re like I’m going to bring my nice canvas shoes, they’ll be fine. Incorrect. You’ll spend the first day flouncing around on the long grass all la-di-da and then a tiny bit of rain will start and the whole field becomes a mudfest. Don’t do it to yourself and your shoes.

Houmous and pork pies. This is probably a very obvious one to most people, but apparently not myself. Last year I went about the festival food shop with the mentality of ‘what will I enjoy eating’ rather than ‘what won’t die in my sauna tent’. I ended up with very sweaty foods that were not edible at all, surprise surprise. Just a nono all round.

Crates of beer. When you picture a festival tent drinking scene, you probably usually picture sun and cans of cider. And understandably so. But those crates of beer or cider are an absolute nightmare to carry across the miles of festival to your tent. So maybe sack off that image and get yourself some nice compact spirits that won’t make you want to kill yourself halfway up a mega field. Or maybe a bag of wine. Don’t go drinking it all in one sitting though, it can only lead to bad things.

 

Why It’s Always Better To Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

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735967_10151730904118262_1823412258_o Dancing is one of the best things you can do. I’m not even going to say ‘in my opinion’ because it’s basically a fact. And when I say dancing, I don’t mean edgy head bobbing or two-stepping. I mean full on, going for it, not caring what anyone thinks of you dancing. Imagine phoebe running in friends and apply that to a music situation.

We all have our standard go-to moves that come out after a beverage or two, and I’m not judging that. Those moves are a good starting point for a night of dancing. For example my move would be the hand-waves, and everyone knows it. A friend and I once compiled a dance routine of everyone’s go-to moves and realised we must look like a bunch of twats when we all start dancing together.

But that’s entirely the point. Dancing can’t be properly fun unless you forget about everyone besides your immediate circle and just get low and jiggy with it. My absolute favourite nights are those where the music goes from high to high and the dancing gets more and more hilarious. The nights where randomers join your dance circle just because you are the most fun dancers in that club, and don’t you know it. 1275403_10151730959333262_718236710_o For example, this weekend we attended two 80s nights. Of course 80s music demands ridiculous dancing and so we brought together the greased lightning routine, the Whitney Houston power ballad, and the mustang Sally air guitar floor slide to create an all-encompassing dancing extravaganza. If the music turned to hip hop then you might see us slut dropping and twerking to flo rida, crumping and hip thrusting to Beyoncé, and generally being the most gangsta dancers you have ever seen. Alternatively a slow emotional song could come on and we would end up interpretive dancing across the dance floor, running and flailing and probably throwing ourselves at people. 10431682_10204967412927488_5591170099969414282_n 1238075_10151808865941609_138532339_n

Personally I’ve always employed the ‘dance like nobody’s watching’ attitude, but this year we actually made it a New Years resolution. And with that, we took it one step further. We started choreographing dance routines to our favourite songs which we would then crack out on the dance floor. And the funny thing is, dancing like nobody’s watching actually means that everybody watches. Who would’ve thought? Our attempt to dance without caring what anyone thinks has now become ‘making everyone aware of what dorky dancers we are’. And I’m pretty happy with that. Watch, appreciate, and start dancing like nobody’s watching.

The Repercussions of a Rare Lazy Weekend

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Last weekend was one of those rare ones that creeps up on you before you’ve made any plans. Having worked the previous weekend, I was rather excited by the prospect of a whole weekend to relax and recover from life. I planned to sleep, watch films, and eat many foods. So besides from an impromptu pub trip involving many games of pool, that is exactly what I did. And it was remarkably unsatisfying.

We tend to assume that in order to relax we need the polar opposite of our usual busy weekends, and so do absolutely nothing. But what this weekend proved was that doing nothing is actually more demotivating than being tired. It got to Sunday evening and I had consumed two dominos, watched Harry potter and far too much football, and not left the house once bar a brief outing to pick out carpet (not the most enthralling of trips). And all of a sudden I realised it was the start of a new week of work and I felt panicked and frustrated that I hadn’t used my weekend for anything productive or exciting. I would have no memories from my days off to make the Monday morning wakeup slightly more bearable.

Don’t get me wrong, spending chill time with my nearest and dearest was absolutely fabulous, my body definitely thanked me for the reduction in alcohol intake, and I wore no makeup or bra all weekend. Score. I’m not saying being lazy and making ramen and having ridiculous chats on the sofa isn’t enjoyable, I just think that if I’d maybe interspersed it with an activity or outing of some kind I might have felt like my weekend had amounted to something. Another downside of that feeling is that it’s now Thursday and I feel like next weekend should be beginning right now. I’m desperate for freedom and fun eventful days and evenings after only 3 days back at work.

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At the end of the day life always comes down to balance. Attempting to balance out a weekend of no sleep and indulgent partying with one of all the sleep and not moving just isn’t going to work. A weekend in itself needs to be balanced, partying and making the most of life whilst still finding the time to relax and let your body recuperate from a hard week of work. Too often I will squeeze a multitude of plans into the weekend without allowing myself time to breathe. And it makes the following week of work a hella lot harder to get through. So allow yourself time to sleep, you deserve it. Just don’t let that sleep extend until Sunday night or your uneventful weekend will be over and you may possibly end up going mental.

25 Things About 24-Year-Old Me

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At the end of last year I reflected on a list I had made (on Facebook notes, asif that was a thing) when I was 18, entitled 25 things about me. It was quite hilarious, very cringe and completely me. Now I’m almost half way through 24-year-old-ness I thought it might be fun to come up with 25 things about me and see how they’ve changed (chances are not much…):

1. I’m secretly a bit of a gangsta, getting low to 90s hip hop is one of my favourite pastimes.

2. I love eating good foods and believe all social occasions should be centred around meals. Fajita nights just cannot be equalled.

3. I also love baking but I’m actually quite bad at it. Exhibit A: brookies. Exhibit B: cake that volcano erupted all over the oven. Let’s blame my inherent kitchen failure nature.

4. I wish I could play guitar and be in one of those edgy cool girl bands that don’t exist.

5. I choose to surround myself with people who match my weirdness and find my quirks hilarious rather than judging them.

6. Life is too short not to stay up until 6am on the weekend when you’re having all the fun.

7. I can’t not buy anything with elephants on.

8. I love the way yoga makes you forget about life’s business.

9. I wish I could genuinely meditate.

10. I should probably live in a country where I can eat falafels everyday and have all the bohemian materials and decors.

11. I spend all the moneys on holidays and festivals. My future self will most likely resent this, but present self doesn’t care. Summer ❤️

12. I like making videos, probably a bit too much. Who doesn’t love re-watching their most drunken moments?

13. Vodka makes me forget my life.

14. I’ve adopted a tradition of getting piercings to celebrate things. Let’s hope I don’t have too many more celebrations as the remaining piercing areas don’t seem particularly appealing..

15. I don’t like the lord of the rings. I’m sorry, I tried. I’m just a Harry Potter gal through and through.

16. I am a major nerd when it comes to sporcle quizzes on Harry Potter and Friends.

17. Ross is the best friends character and I can’t believe I haven’t realised this until now. L-o-v-e love.

18. I wish I could simultaneously travel the world and stay in London with all my fabulous friends. Both these things would make my heart happy.

19. I suffer from a serious case of word vomit. I will often impart far too much information and weirdness to new people.

20. I’m still a child. I love nothing more than playing games, laughing all day at nothing in particular, and being as silly and ridiculous as possible.

21. My sister and I will never be too old for doing hand clapping things as we walk and taking surprise ugly face photos.

22. Dimples and cable knit jumpers are the one 👌

23. I am apparently gangly in nature and have been compared to the blow up man that flails in the wind outside car warehouses.

24. I am always actually the drunkest. This is probably due to my love of doing all the shots. Luckily I am a happy drunk (you might say perfect) so I like to think being the drunkest just adds hilarity to my friends lives.

25. I am always the hostess. I will never stop being that person that throws all the house parties and BBQs and dinners and film nights and tea mornings and dominoes afternoons.

I’ve just read through my 18-year-old self again and there is a freakish amount of similarity. I might be in a different stage of life but the things that make me ‘me’ have not changed much at all. I’m still a weirdo who loves Harry Potter, doing childish things and throwing all the parties. Loving life.

Why Getting Over-Excited About Summer is a Good Thing

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Everyone always makes fun of us Brits and the way we completely overreact when the sun shows it’s face in April. We get our legs out, put our coats away in the depths of the basement, eat ice lollies, have BBQs in the evenings even though we need blankets to stop from freezing, and sit out in the sun every chance we have, inevitably getting burnt. I can safely say that I am guilty of every one of these and the sun has only been out for a week. And I am not ashamed of that fact.

My belief is, we have suffered enough. Winter in England is so dreary and long we pretty much hibernate, going straight home after work because it’s dark and everything just seems 100x more effort when it’s cold or rainy. So when it gets lighter and sunnier why shouldn’t we make the most of it? We only have very limited months in which to partake in traditional English summer activities before the darkness takes over again. I don’t know about you, but I plan on having at least one BBQ a week from now on. Because why the hell not.

I actually find that I don’t realise how much I’ve missed the sun and what a difference it makes to my mood until it comes back into my life. And then I’m like OHMYGOD HOW HAVE I LIVED WITHOUT SUN. I need to be outside forever, drinking all the cider and listening to jazz and letting those beautiful rays sink into my skin. The sun is so uplifting it’s like an instant mood-changer, I can be underground in a grump and as soon as I emerge into light everything is forgotten and life is happy. And Londoners are happy. That’s a statement you don’t hear often but people on the streets of London genuinely seem more friendly and less ‘get out my way bitch’ in summer.

So really, getting over-excited about the sun is beneficial to life. You know, endorphins and all that shiz. You people with your year-round hot climates can laugh all you want, but I will get my legs out when it’s barely 15 degrees, and I will take my lunch to the park even if I have to fight for the only spot that’s not in tree shade. Because the sun is worth that fight. And I can put up with being freezing for 10 hours of the day if it means for 1 hour my pasty legs can get some happiness. They’ve been deprived of it for 6 months, they deserve it.

Here’s to Actual Life

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One of my most used phrases is ‘what is life?’ Usually this would be in reference to a ridiculous occurrence or revelation brought on by deep chats. Yet I now find myself using it in the sense of pondering over when I can call myself an actual real grown up type person. Up until this point in my life I’ve gone from education to frolicking around the world to random jobs and volunteer work. And now I’ve finally started my career in the charity sector and I have a real long term job with like responsibilities and stuff. So is this actual life?

If I looked at a week of my life on high speed mode I would probably see lots of standing on tubes (where I am now), sitting at desks crunching numbers and making phone calls, going for drinks and dinners and consuming all the foods and wines and cocktails, and lying on the sofa watching friends and Harry potter at the end of it all. And as exhausting as that sounds (and is), that basically is life working in London. Breaking life into segments makes every aspect of it appear imperative and exciting even if the overall picture is manic.

I’m not complaining, I absolutely love that I’m now doing something I enjoy rather than something that just serves the purpose of getting me out of bed and paying the bills. I get to use my brain, I get to apply my geography degree to a career that isn’t teaching or colouring in, and I’m allowed to put my passion for charity and travel into an actual job that I actually get paid for. I’ve also surprised myself in that I like working with young people when it was never something I aspired to. But they can be pretty cool and inspiring with all their keen zest for life and excitableness. I definitely sound like a grandma right now when I’m actually younger than some of them, but hey I’m allowed. I am a working woman hi.

My start on the career ladder may be an indicator of actual life, but my living situation definitely is not. There has been some progress, soon I get to move into my own room (yes ladies and gentleman, I am 24 years old and I still share a room), but said room is still in the parents house. All I can say is, saving money to move out in London is pretty damn hard when girl gotta buy all the holidays and festivals and cocktails and pretty summer clothes. And now I get to start pinteresting many many bohemian bedroom styles and buying hippie materials and everything with elephants.

I think we all get to the point where we realise that we have to stop waiting for life to start. This is life. These are the best years of our life, in fact. And if my life is defined by having a great job in Central London, drinking all the wines, and taking over my parents living room for dominos Sundays, then that’s a-okay.