Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Hey, hi, hello (is a band which I used to be super into - and by super into I mean I quite liked one song of theirs, it started off by singing 'It's a beautiful day outside everything is ok and alright, your smile is a vast contrast to the things we said last night'. They are super pop-y and fun. Super. Apparently. You can tell when I've been watching American YouTubers...)

Soooo, as you might be able to tell, I have no idea what I'm going to write about, but I just thought I'd sit down and see what comes out of my fingers clickity-clacking on these here keys. I've got several blog post ideas, but they are pretty serious, and I'm too tired to formulate them. So, this is what you're stuck with. A ramble. About nothing, most probably. Have fun!

Today some of my lady flavoured friends popped over for a cuppa and it was really lovely, especially as I won't get to see one of them properly again till late June. She lives such a beautiful, crazy life, and sometimes I wish I had her guts to just go for things. This summer, she's working on a farm in Monaco for a month, then she's working with foreign language students at the other end of the country, then she's working at festivals. She never really plans anything, just goes for every opportunity she's given, which is great. I have no idea where she gets the money to do it, particularly as she loves in London, but she has such a full life anyway. I feel like I'm always torn between the present and the future. I want to live life to the full, but I also want to have a safe and secure future. It's really hard to balance, and sometimes I feel like I should be more like her, say what the hell to tomorrow and focus on living today. I'm a person who tends to regret things, though, not socially or memories wise (I never regret the things I do, unless I really hurt someone I care about), but in monetary terms. No matter how much you work, sometimes it feel like you need to have money to achieve your dreams. However wrong that might be.

Speaking of money, I stayed up till midnight watching Made in Chelsea, despite the fact I had refused work because I wanted an early night. I am an idiot, but man I love that show. There is something worryingly enjoyable about watching pretty rich people live their indulgent lives. Plus there was so much drama between Lucy and Louise and Pheobe and Alex and Spencer and Andy and oh my goodness so good.

On a very different note, the fella is coming back home in a few days, after he has been away travelling for almost 5 weeks. It's really weird to think about. Thinking about him I get stuck in this strange in-between stage of grief. Like, I know he is coming home soon, but he's still not here now, and I want him to be, but at the same time I want him to be off having fun in the world doing something he's always wanted to do. There's a selfish corner of my brain which is demanding he comes home now, and there's the paranoid corner which is worried things might not be the same. I have this habit of changing people in my mind when I don't see them for a prolonged period of time. It's happened once before with a boyfriend who I built up so much in my mind that he could never live up to it in reality. Suffice to say that relationship didn't last long, and I felt really bad about it because it was all in my head and there was nothing he could've done. So I really hope that doesn't happen again, and I really hope things haven't changed in our dynamic. We've always been best-friends before anything else, and we were both really worried that seeing each other would ruin that. Luckily, it hasn't, but I don't want this to have changed anything. I'm sure I'm worrying over nothing - everytime we talked its felt the same as it did before. But still. The brain eh? Can't function with it, can't live without it...

I've been really getting into BookTubers recently, as you might have guessed from my read-a-thon posts. They are such a lovely, fuzzy little community that I'd really like to get part of. Some of my favourites include:

thegirlsawthecomet (aka justkissmyfrog)
railroadreads (aka booksandquills)

They are all so insightful and well read (obviously) and funny and just plain good!

Right. Think that's probably all for tonight. I just felt like I should write something, just to spring clean my brain a little - and to stop me from continually refreshing my tumblr dash!

Best Wishes


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Tips and Tricks for Surviving 1st Year at Uni

So, you've just sat you're A2 exams, you're anxiously waiting for your marks to come back, and the whole summer is stretched out before you... University feel a long  way off, something to look forward to (hopefully), something to be afraid of (maybe), something to prepare for (definitely). But how can you prepare? Here's my little guide to get ready for University living! (Bare in mind, this will be tailored to arts/literature courses, but there's a lot of stuff which is general good practice)

a) Money, money, money 

  1. Check out how much money you're going to be getting from student finance, then check out the cost of your accommodation. Sometimes, the amount of money you'll be getting in won't quite cover the cost of the rent. 
  2. Equally, check when you have to pay rent, and the date your student finance gets into your account.  Don't get caught out by not having the money in your bank account on the day the rent needs paying! Most uni's will have the option of either paying monthly rent, or termly. With the monthly rent, you'll have more money in your bank account for more of the term. However, some monthly rents will start before you get student finance in. If you pick termly, you're bank account is going to get hit pretty hard  each time the money goes in. However, you'll have a better idea about how much money you realistically have to spend (or save) over the course of the term.
  3. Either way, it's a good idea to do a mock budget. I sat down with a calculator and worked out that if I set aside a certain amount of money for rent, food, clothes and books, I'd be left with £18 per week for other 'fun' things. Realistically this might not be exact - you might spend a lot more or less on some of the necessary things, leaving you with more or less money for extras - but it can give you a good starting point.
  4. Get a job. You ARE going to need more money. I know people whose parents paid for their accommodation, but still ran into debt. Get a job over summer, earn some extra pocket money, and SAVE IT. You'll have plenty of free time to spend with people who might be going away, you can spare the odd evening to earn more cash. You won't regret it.
  5. Put as much money as you can in a savings account - but make sure its one that you can still access. Every month, I put the majority of my earnings in a savings account, leaving myself less to play with in my daily account. This means I feel poorer than I am, so save more money by spending less.
b) Do the work!
  1. Preparing for seminars is really important. Remember, you're paying up to £9,000 per year, and even if the first year 'doesn't count you don't want to just throw that money away. Attend as many lectures and seminars as possible, you'll finds yourself a lot better prepared for the second year, when it really starts to matter.
  2. Practise over summer. This might sound ridiculous, but if you're on a lit course, you're going to have to do a lot of reading. Reading is a skill that you can train yourself to do, so read for half an hour every day. You'll soon find yourself getting quicker and better at it. Equally, you're going to have a read more than one book at a time, so practise swapping between texts. A lot of uni's will have reading lists available, so if you know you're slow, get ahead.
  3. For non-reading based courses, keep up with revision. Its amazing how much knowledge can melt away on long summers days. I'm not saying spend every second with your nose in a text book, but set aside an hour or two every week to keep your brain ticking over.
c) Remember your friends
  1. Spend time with your nearest and dearest over the summer, and make the most of it.
  2. Set up Skype or another messaging service of your choice, and start chatting to each other in a routine. Or, if you're staying close to home for uni, arrange a day a week when all your friends are likely to be free. The biggest mistake I made was loosing contact with some of my closest friends in the first term of Uni. Keeping in touch is so important, especially if they are stuck in a boring gap year job whilst you're off having fun with bright and shiny new friends.
d) Have fun!
  1. You're paying for the experience of Uni just as much as your paying for the education. When you get there make the most of what they have to offer - go to plays, poetry nights, gigs, the gym, the library. A lot of things with be cut price for students - I went to a play for £6 and poetry nights for £3, and the gym/pool is only £1.60 a go. My biggest regret if not using these facilities to their full extent.
  2. Don't spend all your money on booze. You want to remember your year. A couple of mates of mine went a little freedom crazy, and now they're seriously paying for it (both in the liver, the mind and the wallet).
  3. You'll have a lot of free time at Uni, and no one will tell you what to do with it. Use it.
  4. Join at least one society. I have made all my closest friends through society, and I'm living with people in my society. Some of the best hours of uni have been spent in society. Most are cheap to join if not free (mine was £3) and they are so worth your money.
e) Ask
  1. The biggest skill Uni teaches is to ask questions. Whether this is in a seminar, for an essay, or for help (scholarly or emotionally), the University is there for you. You are paying for a service, and that service includes the lecturers or the finance officers or the dean of students giving you a hand. They will appreciate being asked, rather than you struggling through and not doing the best you can.
I know some of this is perhaps more dedicated to what to do when you get to uni, rather than what to do before Uni, but its all stuff to think about. Oh, and if you've got a shared kitchen there's no need to bring toasters, microwaves, kettles etc. Most Uni's will provide the basics, and if not, you can work it out between your flatmates what to buy. You don't want to end up with 12 toasters but no kettles!

Best Wishes!


Monday, 20 May 2013

Read-a-thon: Round-up

So, if any of you have been checking out my tumblr (akintoarayofsunshine.tumblr.com) then you'll have seen my steady progress throughout the week, but here's my final round-up. I'll put the book title, the author, my original goal, and what I ended up actually reading.

She by Henry Ryder Haggard [finish] I achieved my goal and finished this book pretty early on in the read-a-thon (I think on the Wednesday). I enjoyed this book but didn't love it, and I gave it 3 stars on goodreads. Not sure if I'll do a review yet or not.

The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal [finish] I achieved my goal with this too! To be honest, I thought it was going to be a lot harder to finish this than it was, it was definitely slow going at the start, but boy did it kick in! I raced through this and finished it on the Tuesday (I think). I gave it 4/5 on goodreads, and there'll be a review up pretty soon.

The Casual Vacancy  by JK Rowling [halfway] I completely surpassed my expectations and finished this book on Friday! Not sure how I feel about this yet, and I think Rowling should probably stick to fantasy, but it was a very easy read. 3/5, will review soon.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton [made progress] I totally achieved my goal for this, and am now on page 148/229. Very happy with this. Really enjoying this book, can't wait to finish it - hopefully today.

I'm very happy with the progress I made, especially as I had plans all week. Yay! I didn't get round to starting any of the books-to-take-my-mind-of-things books (other than VOGUE), but they're the kinds of things you can just pick up any time, so I'm ok with that. Really enjoyed getting back into sitting and reading for pleasure, but it was nice to have a goal too. Plus, now I'm 3 books ahead in my goodreads schedule, yay! Did any of you attempt the read-a-thon? How'd it go?

I'm going to try and get back to blogging more frequently (as she always says), but I'm not going to attempt a set timetable yet. In the meantime, follow me on tumblr to keep up with my little musings, and I'll speak soon.

Best Wishes!


Monday, 13 May 2013


Hullo team! So my life has been crazy busy over the past few weeks! I've had my last uni exams, been saying goodbye to friends, taking over secretarial responsibilities in Creative Writing Society, performing prose and poetry in front of Tim Clare. I feel exhausted.

With all this going on, I've been doing a pretty poor job of reading, so this week I am going to be taking part in an internet wide 'Read-a-thon'. I can't quite remember who started it up, but I heard about it from Jesse (YouTube, Tumblr and probably Twitter's 'jessethereader') and Katrina (littlebookowl). Basically, the idea is that you dedicate as much time as possible with the aim of finishing as many books as you can! Here's my reading list for the week:

She by Henry Ryder Haggard - I started reading this book, Goodreads informs me, on the 21st of March. This was right in the middle of my semester at uni, and so far I've got about 50% of the way through it. I'm really enjoying it, just need to remember to pick up my Kindle again and start reading! I want to have finished this book by the end of the week.

The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal - My papa gave me this book not too long ago and said I'd probably enjoy it. We have very similar reading tastes, and so far he's bang on. Started this book in the middle of April, just starting to get into it now. I'm on about chapter 10, so about 90 pages into the 350 or so. It's a biography of an object (specifically a netsuke) which has been inherited by the author, and he's tracing it's journey through his family. Really interesting so far, so I'm hoping to have finished this book.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling - I know, I know. I've owned this book for ages, I think my grandparents bought it me for Christmas, and I still haven't finished it yet! It's a mammoth book, and I'm about 100 or so pages in, although I haven't picked it up in so long I might have to skim read the whole start of it again, just to get my bearings! By the end of the week I want to have got at least halfway through.

The Age of Innocence by  Edith Wharton - I got this book as a present for my 18th and I still haven't read it yet. However, hopefully I'm studying Wharton next semester so I thought I'd get a head up and read some of her work early! This is only a short book, but I've given myself a lot, but I want to have made progress with this.

Now, because these are all quite heavy going, I'm going to give myself a couple of lighter-hearted things to read in between so I don't hit a reading slump mid week!

VOGUE and Miss VOGUE June 2013 ed - So I've bought VOGUE as I sporadically do, and I think it'll be really good to keep me focused on the heavier stuff. I don't really mind if I don't get too far through it, as I enjoy flicking through over and over again as the months go by.

Creative Writing Society Anthology 2012-2013 - I really want to give this a proper read to see what all my friends have contributed. I'll be reading a couple of poems or short stories whenever I feel I can't go on with my other novels. I really want to have finished this by the time the week is out, as it'll coincide nicely with our last workshops!

Pub Stuntman by Tim Clare - As I said at the top of this post, I had the pleasure of performing with Tim at the tail end of last week. He is an amazing poet and a stand up gent, and possibly had the best put down for a heckler ever. I bought his book there and then, really looking forward to sinking my teeth into some of his work. I want to have made progress by the end of the week.

So there you have it! I'll probably be doing updates on Tumblr as the week goes on, so you can follow my progress on akintoarayofsunshine.tumblr.com

Happy Reading


Monday, 6 May 2013

Oh Captain My Captian!

So, I just finished watching The Dead Poets Society and it's one of those films that you just want to watch again and again and it just makes you want to live your life and stand up for what you believe in and don't let anyone get you down ever again. And it also makes you want to tell everyone to go and watch it, even if they've seen it before to watch it again.

Ahhhh it's so good!

Seize the day!


ps. I also have a tumblr now. You can follow me on akintoarayofsunshine.tumblr.com