Adventures in Holland

I recently found myself at Liverpool Airport – with no family or friends – ready to jump on a plane to Holland. This little adventure came about during a drunken night last April in which myself and my friend Izzy decided I should go visit her at her parents’ house one summer. Back then it seemed like a bit of a pipedream, but after a lot of umming and aahing and a surprise financial increase, this crazy little idea became a reality. So, last week I somehow managed to navigate my way through an airport without getting lost (Go me!), and braved my irrational fear of planes to jet off to Holland!

The flight wasn’t too bad, it was a lot shorter than I expected, but then again I guess the gin helped (what? I was on holiday and it was an evening flight!). It took a while to sink in that I was in a different country – it did confuse me when I saw Izzy getting into what I thought was the driver’s side of her dad’s car – I didn’t quite get the feel of Holland until we arrived in The Hague. If it wasn’t the ridiculous amount of bikes (and there I was thinking it was just a stereotype) it was the abundance of trams that did it. I somehow expected them all to be yellow due to my various visit to Manchester but no, these were more traditional looking red and beige machines.

Holland is gorgeous, from the traditional Dutch architecture to the well-known windmills and canals it is so picturesque and beautiful. What I’d read about Holland or seen in photos or on TV were nothing compared to actually experiencing the place first hand. I visited a number of different places during my stay but here is a selection of my favourites:

Delft Market

Delft is such a pretty little town and full of history and culture. We visited Delft on a Sunday which turns out was market day. But it wasn’t like the tacky little markets we have in the UK, oh no, this was stall after stall of adorable handmade gifts, Delftware and various local produce. To top it all off they had one of those swing-merry-go-round rides that I hadn’t been on in a good ten years. Of course, being the mature twenty year olds we are we decided to have a ride, it was strangely terrifying, but maybe I’m just a wimp.

Ten to Three Bakery

Also in Delft was the girliest café I have ever set foot in. With an Alice in Wonderland tea party theme, the café was covered with an array of pink flowers and had no shortage of adorable mini cupcakes and delicious bro13939512_1300961319927501_8860960862477403192_nwnies. I tried the homemade cherry ice tea and an Oreo brownie and they were amazing. The place was surprisingly quiet, though we did go very near their closing time so this could have been why, but it had a lovely atmosphere and the staff were very friendly.

 

Van Gogh Museum

Probably one of the most visited places in Amsterdam (along with the Anne Frank House). I’m the kind of person that really enjoys art galleries so this really interested me. I’ve always admired Van Gogh’s work from a distance but never really delved far into his history beyond that one episode of Doctor Who. At the moment the museum has a special exhibition on Van Gogh’s mental illness which I found particularly interesting ‘cause I’m morbid like that. Seriously though it was fascinating to learn about the 19th century attitude to mental illness and how it’s progressed since then. There was only one thing that really confused me, one of Van Gogh’s most well-known paintings ‘Starry Night’ was nowhere to be seen, of course I know that clearly the museum did not have this painting but I still expected some kind of mention of it.

Bagels and Beans

Apparently a popular chain of cafés in Holland, we decided to give The Hague branch a go and ended up returning on the last day of my visit as we were so impressed. We made our first visit on my first morning in the country to grab some brunch, both being Bagels and Beans virgins, Izzy and I had no idea what to expect bu14039916_1300978026592497_2137846286069486259_nt we were definitely
impressed! We both quickly fell in love with the Parmabella Bagels and the flavoured lattes (I had hazelnut and Izzy had vanilla). I also gave the hot chocolate a try
and soon discovered that Dutch hot chocolate is so much better than at home, my God, I’ve spent the last week at the gym because of those hot chocolates. A funny discovery I made whilst looking down the menu was that they also did a ‘Dutch Weed Burger’. Of course I was too much of a chicken to try it but it made me laugh that they can so freely shove that stuff in anything.

Scheveningen beach

There’s so much to talk about at Scheveningen but I’ll try to keep it brief. First of all, we visited the Sea Life centre located near the beach. It was very similar to a lot of aquariums 13932888_1300973076592992_7202973764323807289_nback home but there were a few parts that really impressed me; the jellyfish that were in tanks with colour changing lights and relaxing music, I honestly want an entire wall of them in my bedroom, it would be so calming! They also had penguins and an otter enclosure, unfortunately by the time we went it was the otter’s bed time but we did sneak a peek at them… so c14051806_1300972749926358_7274790889124117436_nute! Also on the day we visited Scheveningen there was a fireworks display, from what I could gather it was a competition in which a different country competed each night, I think our night was Germany. Thousands of people were gathered on the beach or in the beachside bars and restaurants, huddled13921154_1300970543259912_9038887792586986579_n under blankets around fire pits built into the restaurants’ tables (the Dutch really know how to look after their customers). Despite the masses of people, we managed to get a pretty decent view of the fireworks, and some fireworks they were!

All in all my visit to Holland was an incredible experience and I hope visit again in the future!

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How to Stay Healthy for People With No Willpower

 I’ve always found it difficult to stay healthy, I’m a fairly active person but when it comes to willpower I have none. I have a huge appetite which has proved as my downfall when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but recently I’ve gotten far stricter with myself and I feel a lot better because of it. Strangely enough it is possible to have a healthy lifestyle with very little willpower, it’s all about getting into a habit and keeping motivated. So, I have compiled a list of tips that have helped me make little changes that have really impacted my health in a positive way.

Have Realistic goals

The best was to stay motivated is to have a goal to work towards. Whether it’s to lose weight, improve your stamina or just to have the recommended intake of fruit/veg a day. The key to this, however, is to not give yourself too many goals to keep up with, keep them few and achievable. For example, my goals are to exercise six days a week, eat more fruit and vegetables and to have two litres of water a day. These are very achievable for me as I find it easy to make plans and stick to them in regards to meals and exercise, however some people may need to start off with fewer goals and build up as they start achieving them – this is okay too.

Do it with friends

Another way to keep yourself motivated is to get your friends involved, join the gym together, go swimming or try something less committal like going for a walk (and catching some pokemon in the process – yes I am one of those people). Seriously though, you are more likely to stick to your exercise plans if you have a friend with you and it’s a lot more fun than being stuck on your own.

Keep track of progress

Keeping track of your progress is a great way to make you feel good about how much you’re achieving. A good way to do this, as well as the traditional ways of writing things down or weighing yourself etc, is to take selfies. I found this technique on another blog a while ago and thought it was such a good idea if you’re looking to lose weight or tone up. If you take a full body picture of yourself every month you will soon be able to see the changes to your body, and being able to compare the selfie from the beginning and the end will make you feel amazing!

Join a club

Sports clubs are brilliant ways to get your weekly exercise, they are fairly affordable and most leisure centres have a number of classes and clubs every week, as well as a number of local private sports clubs. I have been taking dance classes most of my life and have dabbled in a lot of different sports throughout my childhood. If you’re the kind of person who is always up for trying something new, then what are you waiting for? Hell, even if you’re not, get out there and try something, most clubs let you come to the first class for free so you really do have nothing to lose!

Don’t be disappointed

My last and most important tip is to not be disappointed and give up. We all have off days, we all have days where all we want to do is lie in bed and binge eat biscuits, there’s no problem with that! One lazy day is not going to undo all your progress, besides we need rest days so our muscles have time to grow and develop between exercise sessions. The bottom line is, if you really wanted that cake, if you really enjoyed it, don’t worry, you can always make up for it!

Five Signs That You’re a Dancer

Dance is a big part of my life, it has been for the last seventeen years. Even though I have left home to go to uni I still attend weekly dance classes. However, dancing isn’t just something you do a couple of hours a week, it tends to take over your life, here are eight things that only happen when you’re a dancer;

You practice everywhere

Whether you’re tapping around the kitchen, doing plies in supermarket queues or practicing Retirés whilst cleaning your teeth, we all do it. Besides the fact that ‘practice makes perfect’ this is kind of a compulsion for a lot of dancers, we just find ourselves dancing in everyday situations – it really is a problem, not to mention that it gets us some very disapproving looks!

You get changed really quickly

Anyone who has every performed in a dance show knows who manic quick changes are. I admit I find the adrenaline of rushing to a dressing room, removing every item of clothing and completely redressing – including hair accessories and tights – in under a minute a lot of fun. This translates into our everyday life too, we are so used to getting changed within time limits that we are perpetually fast dressers.

You can’t listen to a song without coming up with choreography

Whenever a good song comes on you feel that overwhelming urge to dance, however inappropriate a situation. You’ll be walking to town and that song will come on your ipod and you have an entire routine – complete with costume and lighten choices – formed in your head. You have to resist the temptation to demonstrate your spectacular performance piece and settle for minute hand movements in the hope that no-one will notice.

You had the best dressing up clothes

If you’ve been dancing since childhood you will have most likely accumulated a plethora of costumes and always pined for the day you’d be invited to a fancy dress party (that didn’t clash with your dance class). When that day would come your costume was on fleek!

Your wardrobe is 90% shoes

Dance requires a lot of specialist clothing and equipment but most notable of them all is the shoes, each style has a specific shoe and if you take classes in a number of different styles you tend to build up quite an impressive shoe collection. From tap shoes to character shoes, jazz shoes to ballet shoes and you most likely have these in a number of different colours because let’s face it, us dancers are shoe addicts at heart!

Things I learned in Second Year – Domestic Edition

Having come to the end of my second year of university I feel that I am well qualified to discuss the many lessons I have learned this year. Some of which are more practical than others but they have all contributed to my maturing and becoming a slightly more adequate adult type creature. So here they are, five lessons I learned in second year:

  1. How to stay warm even in the coldest temperatures

Going from the cosines that is halls into a student house was always going to take some getting used to, however my flatmates and I drew the short straw out of all our friends. Not only was our house void of any insulation, we worked on a very expensive gas meter, meaning we had leave the house to top it up every time it ran out. Because of this we avoided using the heating as much as possible, causing us to become overly-acquainted with our Christmas jumpers well into the spring. If you’re moving into a student house in September I advise you, stock up on onesies, blankets and fleece jackets, you’ll need them!

  1. Bills are a thing that have to be paid

Another thing that we had to deal with upon moving into a house is the fact that we had to pay bills, like actually pay them, they weren’t included in the Rent! Madness! This took a little bit of getting used to. Arguments over who owed who what, who was using all the electric and having to remember the several different dates my bank account will be ravaged still haunt me. But despite all the drama I feel like I’ve hit a milestone and can cope with being an independent adult… sort of.

  1. Who your ‘real’ friends are

Now you’re not living a two second walk from your best friends’ front doors and with the increased work load you’re bound to drop a few friends. With the increased distance you will find it’s not as easy to run over to your friend’s flat at midnight and return at 6am, now you have to take an expensive taxi ride or a half hour walk that includes a few shady alleys to see them. But those you are willing to do this for and are willing to do this for you are the friends you will take with you into third year. Yeah it’s sad you’ve lost touch with that lad you used to fancy or the girl you were joined at the hip with during fresher’s week, but you both move on for a reason, it’s not all that bad.

  1. How to deal with people over the phone

I’ve never been good over the phone, I’ve always found it awkward, even more so when I’m talking to ‘professional’ people. Second year has well and truly cured that fear. I cannot count the amount of angry phone calls and emails to letting agencies, gas suppliers, internet suppliers etc that I have had to make this year, but each has made it easier and easier. Don’t get me wrong I have to mentally prepare myself before making a phone call, even to my Mum, but it’s gotten a hell of a lot easier. Also angry phone calls are a great way to let out pent up frustration, try it, it’s cheaper than therapy.

  1. How to fix things

Lightbulbs, kettles, boilers, you name it, in the last year it’s sure to have conked out on us. My flatmates and I have played electrician, builder and even boiler engineer this year. Student houses are notorious for being crap and ours was no different. But I guess a positive in amongst all the pile of faulty appliances is that we have actually learned some valuable life skills and haven’t – yet – blown anything up trying to fix it. Go us!

Top 10 Songs You Need to Listen to…

Thanks to a friend in university I’ve been listening to a lot of different artists lately, some of which are obscure international tracks whilst others can be considered more ‘mainstream.’ Here is my top ten list of songs I’ve recently started listening to and would highly recommend.

10. If I Was God For One Day – Neverstore

It took me a while to get into this song as I didn’t feel that the singer’s voice fitted too well with the music but once I listened to it all the way through it began to grow on me and I now really enjoy listening to it. The lyrics are a little predictable with a lot of rhyming couplets but it does, in the grand scheme of things, work.

9. Paper Light (Higher) – Loreen

I love the tune to this one, it’s the kind of song I can imagine myself dancing to (I’m an ex dancer, that’s how I measure a good song, if I can choreograph to it, it’s good). I also find that it’s really catchy and her voice is so calming.

8. English Kids in America – Lower Than Atlantis

I love the rock/boyband hybrid feel of this song, I listened to this a lot whilst on holiday in Majorca earlier on in the year and it really put me in the holiday mood. It’s a great feel good song that you can just close your eyes to and imagine you’re in sunny California.

7. Brother – Matt Corby

This one sort of reminds me of a strange mixture of Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers, anyone else think that? no? just me? Okay. It’s got a modernised folksy feel to it. The drum beats throughout are the best part for me and how they stop at the bridge and start back up again, I love me some dramatic drums!

6. Cool Kids – Echosmith

The lyrics in this song tell a really clear story and are relatable, come on didn’t you want to be one of the ‘cool kids’ in school? There is a heavier emphasis on the lyrics than the actual music in this one, but that is by no means a bad thing. Recommended for fans of Paramore as Echosmith are fairly similar.

5. Somebody Like You – Max Elto

This one is another one I can imagine myself dancing to; it’s got a solid beat and a catch chorus. The vocals really are something on this one, Liljegren and Ryberg have a seamless vocal chemistry.

4. Heroes – Måns Zelmerlöw

As the winner of the 2015 Eurovision song contest, I had to include this song! The build up at the very beginning is fantastic, making the chorus all the more dramatic. I also particularly love the lyrics to this one, I find them to be really uplifting. If you like Avicii’s Wake me up, you’ll like this!

3. Fairytale – Alexander Rybak

Dem Violins though! Listen to this song without whacking out your air violin and joining in, I dare you! Another Eurovision Winner from back in 2009. This is definitely an all time favourite of mine, for both sentimental reasons and also because it is a genuinely brilliant song. The lyrics and vocals are flawless, they follow a clear narrative and paint a vivid picture for the listener.

2. Pra Te Fazer Lembrar – Lucas Lucco

I just think this song is beautiful, the perfect song to slow dance to. I can only analyse this from a musical point of view as I cannot understand the lyrics completely (blahblahblah MUSICA!) but I think the fact that I don’t understand the lyrics makes it all the more beautiful, I enjoy the mystery of not know what it’s about and just being able to sit back and appreciate it for what it really it – good music.

1. Out of Mind – Tove Lo

My favourite track on this entire list; you will have likely heard of Tove Lo before (I adore her). This song, although pretty negative in subject is so relatable, anyone who has experience unrequited feelings for someone can agree wholeheartedly with the lyrics. She completely sums up what is going through your mind when you can’t stop thinking about that certain someone, that is why has made it to the top of the list.

**Thanks to James for introducing me to these songs**

5 Types of People You Meet at Uni…

I’ve recently finished my first year in university, it’s been an incredible and very educational experience, so I thought I’d spend a few posts sharing the wisdom I’ve acquired with you all. First off is a list of the types of people you are likely to meet in university (based on the kind of friends I’ve made in first year), if you are already in university I can probably guarantee you know at least one of these kinds of people…

1. The Host
This is the person who organises all the parties, their flat suddenly becomes THE place to go on a Friday night and they know absolutely everyone. If you ever want a guaranteed place to go for a drink, become friends with a host.loose-house-party

2. The one you never see (AKA the ‘Paul Lamb’)
There’s always that one flat mate you never see, you meet them on the first day and then they are AWOL until the end of the year. The only indications of life seem to be the mysterious pot noodle cartons appearing in the kitchen and the painfully cringy sex noises. Also affectionately named ‘Paul Lamb’ after the character from Fresh Meat.tumblr_mcw8doNmdZ1rd3rgeo1_500

3. The one that gets around
This person has an embarrassingly large catalogue of sexual exploits, all of which you have been given detailed accounts, however reluctant you may be to hear them. They are literally obsessed with sex and like to find friends to go out on the pull with them, they are by no means bad people, they just get a ridiculous amount of sex.e846cc9f9a79312a06982ff4936e4538

4. The Game changer (AKA ‘Sandy’)
This is that one person who starts uni fresh-faced and doe-eyed , but by the end of the year is as much of a drunken mess as the rest of the group. This dramatic change, known as ‘The Sandy Effect’ is the result of a naïve, sheltered person finally being able to grow up and be independent. It starts with a few glasses of vodka and ends with weed and casual sex. Might want to keep an eye on this one.tumblr_mcpznp21JE1ryjwc0

5. The Mother
The mother is the most sensible of the group, she will take it upon herself to cook for you, look after you when drunk and round up everyone at the end of a night out. They more often than not get more of a thrill out of making sure everyone is having a good time than actually getting slathered themselves. They like to make sure you’re well fed and have the kettle going at the slightest sign of trouble, ready for a cuppa and a chat.dany-unsullied

**No images are my own, all copyright goes to the rightful owners**