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Ethical, Life

Living healthily & ethically should not be a privilege

August 9, 2017

Fresh cherries on a fruit stand at Granville Island, Vancouver
Since the start of 2017, I have been making a conscious effort to live more consciously and ethically. The two biggest things I have discovered since then are; 1) it feels overwhelming a.f, 2) it’s expensive. The first one is understandable but the second is not ok.

If you live in a modern country, you can walk into any town or city and find pretty much anything you want or need. Try doing that when you’re trying to only buy ethical, cruelty free, animal product free, and horrible chemical free products. It is hard. Luckily, my town has a Holland & Barrett, so at least I don’t have to buy my toothpaste online. I couldn’t even find a wooden toothbrush in any physical stores in my town. You can buy plastic toothbrushes in every shape and colour imaginable, but you want an eco-friendly alternative? Sorry, no chance.

Isn’t it ridiculous that it’s so hard to find highstreet stores that pay their workers fair wages and don’t damage the environment?

Some supermarkets in my area sell some Ecover and Method products (environmentally friendly cleaning), they sell soil association approved organic fruit, and handmade soap in zero waste packaging. But, they are more expensive than their commercial or non-organic counterparts.

There are good reasons for that, though:

  • Companies are not just using cheap chemicals or materials, they’re using more expensive, organic ingredients.
  • These products might take more man hours.
  • People are being paid fairly.

Those are all huge positives, until it comes down to the customers wallet. You can want to support all the ethical companies in the world but being able to do it isn’t always possible. Not everyone can justify an extra quid or two on every ethical item they buy, because that quickly adds up and eats away at your budget.

Surprisingly, shopping more ethically for clothing was the easiest part for me. Ethical clothing is vastly more expensive than highstreet garments and that truly demonstrates the problem with fast fashion. You don’t have to actually buy from ethical clothing companies to shop more ethically because there are plenty of second hand options available if you give yourself time to plan and search for what you need. But you can’t do that with your food shop, cosmetics or hygiene products.

This doesn’t just come down to me, or you, wanting to make an ethical choice, it’s also about our health. Organic, pesticide free fruit and vegetables are more expensive than non-organic produce. As I’ve already said, that’s because of the time and skill needed but being able to provide a healthy diet for our families should not be a privilege.

I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I do know that living ethically, healthily, and consciously should be available for everyone regardless of their budget.

The world has changed a lot since our grandparents were kids. While the technological age makes us more connected globally, I think it has made us disconnected locally; life seems to run at a faster pace and less thought is given to our communities and environment. In an ideal world, we could adopt a slower lifestyle, learn to make some of our own clothes, make our own cleaning products, and only buy from local farmers and growers. Unfortunately, that’s not possible for the majority of people.

I’m fairly certain that the solution to this problem is a huge overhaul in society but how likely is that? When your own government have to be forced by courts to do something about pollution problems in the capital city and publish a half assed, weak response that passes the responsibility, how does that kind of change happen? The public can have their say all they want but if the government don’t care then nothing will change. We need to encourage the people in power to make a change because it is unlikely to happen otherwise.

Maybe I am being unnecessarily pessimistic, but when you hear that climate change isn’t in your prime ministers top list of things to focus on, it’s easy to be disheartened. What does it matter if you or I change our habits if the government don’t care (about a lot of things concering most people)?

What on earth have we done to get to the point where living ethically, fairly, and healthily is a privilege?

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Life, Travel

The greatest adventures are with the greatest people

August 1, 2017

Watching the sun set at Moraine Lake, Alberta

In the past 12 months, Daz and I have had our fair share of adventures; we’ve been to Wales, Canada, Edinburgh, and Canada again. Though all of those places are beautiful, it’s the people you’re with that make it the best adventure.

I booked my first trip to Canada before I really knew Daz; I might have known him as “the grumpy pastry chef”. After a few weeks of being together, it became pretty clear to me that I would be moping around Canada on my own, missing him like hell if he didn’t come. In fact, I actually told him that if he didn’t come to Canada, he would ruin my trip to Canada because I would miss him too much. (Soppy, awh.) It’s kinda funny because this time last year he was moping on holiday in Ibiza with his family, and I was being a serious grouch at work.

The fates aligned because he was able to get it off work too, and we found the perfect flight for him which landed just before my flight into Calgary from San Francisco.

During our first trip to Alberta, we felt so at home. We got so much done in seven days (here’s our 7-day Banff & Jasper itinerary), and we were planning our return trip before we’d got to the airport to go home.

We spent months thinking about and planning the trip; whenever one of us was annoyed or stressed, we would remind each other of being back there together. And boy, did that thought get us through a lot of frustrating times.

Our trip was incredible. Even better than we thought it would be, not least because Daz proposed to me at Moraine Lake, our favourite spot (more on that soon). And it definitely sucked more when we had to fly home, though we are now definitely determined to call Canada home one day. 

If either of us had experienced the hammering rain, the chilled out vibes of Tofino, the sounds of Vancouver Island’s rainforests, Vancouver at night, the beauty of the Rockies, or seeing an avalanche on our own, it would have been pretty cool. But to do, see, and experience all of that next to your best friend, is the best feeling in the world.

Sure, travelling with someone isn’t always 100% rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies (I’m really not gonna pretend it is). I’m a miserable moose when I’m tired at the best of times, tired and annoyed at road closures is not a great combination and unfortunate for anyone around me. I’m also always convinced I know the right way (spoiler alert: I almost never do) and am a frustrating co-pilot because I say right when I mean left, and left when I mean right. But then again, nothing is ever 100% rainbows, butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us along (shout out to anyone who gets the Maroon 5 reference – from when they were good).

Daz is my favourite adventure buddy and I’m looking forward to so many more adventures with him and giving him the wrong directions, forever.

Happy birthday, Dazzle.

Who is your favourite adventure buddy?

Life

Turns out, relocating is hard

July 27, 2017

Edinburgh Princes Street Gardens

Captain Obvious Award of the year goes to me for that title; I’d like to thank myself for being so oblivious to the hassle involved in moving over 270 miles away. 

When we got the news that I’d been accepted into the University of Edinburgh, we found ourselves stressing about this huge list of things we needed to do. We made a start on a good chunk of them and began putting things into place. After we got back from Canada, we headed up to Edinburgh for a few days; Daz got a job and we tried to look at a few flats.

Tried is the key word in that sentence because despite wanting to look at around 10 places, we only saw one. Now, a lot of that is down to our naivety; places go in Edinburgh fast and we thought the best thing to do was to try and book viewings when we were up there, rather than a week or so in advance. The one place we did see, we fell in love with and we’re waiting on references to come back, so hopefully we have somewhere to live!

We’re trying to get things organised but without knowing 100% whether or not we have this place, we can’t change details or do super important stuff like telling Sky to sort our internet out so we can watch Game of Thrones the day it comes out. (You know, important first world stuff.) It feels like living in limbo a little bit.

The biggest surprise by far is how little time we have. Like most people, we get two days off a week (which clearly is not enough time to ever get things done – I want to adopt the Netherlands’ 29-hour work week.) but damn they are flying by. On top of that, we’re trying to organise seeing people before we move, which leaves so little time to get things done, especially as we both work weekends. 

Stress aside, we are very lucky because we have family and friends who offered to help us immediately, which has relieved some of the hassle. These are some of the people we’re going to miss the most and will happily accept into our spare room whenever they can get up to Scotland. 

When we are settled in Edinburgh I might do a blog post on “x dumb things you shouldn’t do when you’re relocating”. I don’t know about anyone else, but as I’ve lived in the same town for almost 25 years, I had no idea what to expect about moving to the other side of town, let alone another country.

Anyway, that’s just a little update on how the Edinburgh situation is going. I will be joyous when I attend my first day of my masters and will breath a huge sigh of relief because things will pretty much all be sorted. (Apart from my degree certificate because the University of Wolverhampton are incapable of doing anything that actually makes any sense to the rest of the educational world.)

Have you ever moved far? How did you find it?

Life, University

I did it, I got my first!

July 6, 2017

Dissertation hand in

Last Friday, I got the news I’d been impatiently refreshing my emails for; I have finished my forensic science degree with a first. 

I’m not going to lie, I am pretty proud of myself. I started university about six years ago now and dropped out after a year and a half because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted. After three years out I realised I loved science and applied to go back pretty much exactly two years ago.

It was nerve-wracking taking a pay cut and starting a part-time job but that hasn’t been as hard as I feared. My part-time job introduced me to a group of people who feel like family to me now; I have made friends for life and I hate to think what my life would be like without them.

I have worked hard and I’ve had amazing support from Daz, my friends and family. University is not something you can do on your own, you need a little bit of help, whether it’s someone making dinner when you’re furiously typing away, asking a friend to quiz you for an exam, or trying to explain your ideas or thoughts to someone who doesn’t really know what you’re on about – a different perspective can so often pick up something obvious that you’ve missed. (I tell you, I could have cried when Daz pointed something really obvious out about my dissertation project that I had completely missed.)

By far, the dissertation was the biggest challenge but it taught me so much. That said, I had no idea how I’d done by the time I handed it in and was convinced that because it was a double module I’d sabotaged my shot at a first. You know what it’s like when you spend so long on something and you have no idea if it’s good or a load of rubbish anymore. I am over the moon with a first, and I had no intention of getting anything less than a first when I decided to go back.

Annoyingly, my university doesn’t do graduation until September (I have no idea why) so I won’t actually get to go to graduation. The idea of a graduation ceremony did make me feel pretty nervous but it also felt like a chance to celebrate hard work.

I guess the moral of this story is don’t let yourself hold yourself back; if you want something, go out there and get it. I think there might be a second moral which is; you don’t have to go to university right after 6th form or college, and it might not even be for you anyway – don’t listen to lecturers or teachers who tell you you have to or should go, it’s your life.

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Life

My summer to do list

June 8, 2017

Pastel sunset sky

Daz and I could barely believe our eyes when we saw this at work a couple of weeks ago.

With my last exam over, and daily refreshing of the results page in full swing, I find myself faced with what might be the last summer break I have. 

Minimise

For years I have loved the idea of being a minimalist but it wasn’t until I moved in with Daz that I realised I had a lot of things I just didn’t need. I have zero plans of taking things I don’t need to Edinburgh with me so one of my main missions this summer is to donate or sell things I don’t use or need. My bookshelf has already taken a battering (I never thought I would say that) but I have a lot of books that I honestly won’t ever read to start with or won’t read again. I have discovered and become a little obsessed with eBay; though I do hate the trips to the Post Office, which I’m pretty certain is actually inside a sauna not at the back of my local WH Smiths.

 

Read more

University made reading for leisure pretty hard. I’m not going to lie, I actually do enjoy reading journal articles about the chemical composition of soil in and around gravesites but it’s not quite as relaxing as reading Harry Potter. Plus, your friends look at you a little odd when the answer to “what did you do last night” is “read about how nitrogen levels in soil changes when bodies decompose in it.” It’s a touch darker than “watched Orange is the New Black.”

 

Exercise more

At the beginning of the year I really got into hot yoga, and my back loves it, but my work schedule at the moment makes it really hard for me to go, unless I want to get up at 7am and I just don’t. I’m trying to get into the habit of practicing yoga at home and want to get out and go for pokemon walks walks more often. That last one really isn’t hard since we live so close to a forest.

 

Spend more time with friends

When you’re at school, you don’t even have to try to spend time with your friends. And then, all of a sudden, meeting up with your best friends requires military planning. Since I’m really going to struggle to see my friends regularly while we’re in Edinburgh, I want to make as much effort as possible to spend time making delicious cake and playing Pokemon Monopoly (it’s so much fun by the way) and Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.

 

What are your plans for this summer?

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Life, University

I finished university!

May 18, 2017

I finished university

On Tuesday, I sat my final undergraduate exam (providing I haven’t miserably failed and have to resit, of course), which means I have completed my undergraduate degree.

I remember writing a post a couple of years back about me starting back at university and I can’t believe how fast those two years have gone. I’ve worked damn hard, racked up some government funded student debt (woop!), and I have everything crossed for a first. I will be truly gutted if I get anything less than a first.

At the moment, I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I am relieved to be able to let my brain relax for a little while, for sure, but I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I think part of that is because I am refusing to get excited until I see my dissertation results, and also because I can’t go to graduation. For some reason, my university does graduation in September which is of absolutely no use to anyone who is going on to further education elsewhere. I have no idea why, most other universities manage to hold graduation in July.

It feels almost surreal to look back on where I was two years ago; I was still working in marketing and had decided I needed to be out of it by the end of the year and wanted to go back to university. I was really nervous about applying to go back to university and was worried a university wouldn’t want to accept me because I’d dropped out after a year and a half. (Jokes, they just want your money ;).) I’m so glad that I took a deep breath and went for it because I love where I am right now.

This summer is shaping up to be a hectic one, but not before a much needed getaway for Daz and I. We’re both looking forward to escaping to campfires, cooking under the stars, falling in love with and dragging ourselves up mountains.

How’s life?

Share The Love

Share The Love | April 2017 Edition

May 4, 2017

Share the love April 2017 edition

I feel like April has been a long month, not in a bad way it’s just that a lot of things seemed to have happened since March’s edition of Share The Love.

My dissertation was handed in at the beginning of the month (and that feels like so long ago now). Daz and I climbed a very steep hill near us, and I found out that I am super unfit. After a lot of email refreshing, I received an offer from the University of Edinburgh to study there and since then we’ve both done a lot of stressing and research into everything we need to sort before the start of September. I’m currently up to my eyes in revision; thankfully, I only have one exam though it’s a good job because this is a really hard one for me. I haven’t done any chemistry this complicated in about six years so I am really working hard and hoping it pays off.

 

BLOG – Jasmin Charlotte

Jasmin’s blog is not a new one for me, I have probably been reading her blog for about two years and I think I might have already featured it in a Share The Love post way back when. I would check, but I’m writing this instead of revising so…

Her blog is a great mix of travel, lifestyle, tech and blogging tips, and she loves space too (I always love a fellow space nerd). I always feel kinda cosy when I read Jasmin’s blog (maybe because I’ve read it for so long) because her posts read like a conversation and she writes some seriously thought-provoking posts, like why sometimes hard work isn’t enough and that’s ok. I also feel like Jasmin is one of the very few blogger who does sponsored content properly. It never feels contrived, it reads naturally and seems like something she would talk about anyway.

 

LINKS

10 travel bloggers share their favourite place on earth – Life With a View | A little tip of the hat to myself as I was featured in this roundup. I bet you can guess where I fangirled about, right? I always enjoy finding out what places other people love, so this is a fun read, even if you’re sick of hearing me talk about Canada.

How to do a successful spending freeze – Oddly Lovely | Cat is back blogging and I am so excited about it. For the past year, I’ve been visiting her blog about once a month just in case she snuck a blog post up without me knowing and now she’s back. It’s like a dream come true. And she also has some excellent tips on saving money, who doesn’t want that?

I fail everyday – Sustainably Vegan | I think that when you’re aiming for anything (it doesn’t even have to be related to a diet or a way of living), it’s important to understand that even when you see what you think is a perfect representation of whatever you’re aiming for on social media that the people behind that content fail too. Failure is good for us when we learn from it.

5 revision study tips – Ways To Study | I don’t know about any of you, but I am all about revision at the moment and any tips to help me get the best out of revision are always appreciated.

How to have a less wasteful makeup routine – Not So Quiet Grrl | Yet again, Nadia features here because she’s bringing some great tips to help me reduce waste.

6 easy ways to spring clean your blog – The Scarlet State | It’s time to clear out the cobwebs.

Why is it so hard to be self-promotional if you’re a woman? – The Everywhereist | Once again, Geraldine raises an excellent point and makes me laugh and seriously think about it at the same time.

 

 

WATCHED

The end of April was Fashion Revolution Week, which encourages us all to think about the people who make our clothing, and the conditions they work and live in as a result of fast fashion. After seeing Nadia mention that she’d watched True Cost documentary, I decided to give it a watch and was horrified at people trying to justify the way “the system” currently works. It sickened me and it makes me so angry that people and the environment are being treated horrendously because fast-fashion retailers want more profit.

It isn’t a nice subject at all and it made me feel sick to my stomach that I’ve been a part of it, we’ve all been a part of it; we can’t keep burying out heads in the sand. It’s time to learn, question, and criticise anything we’re not happy with.

 

LISTENING TO

Oh, it has been a good month for me musically. Paramore released Hard Times, which makes me want to dance badly; though, that is the only kind of dancing I’m capable of doing. Pvris also announced a new album and released Heaven, which I cannot get enough of either. All Time Low also released the third single off their next album, Life of the Party. I’ve pretty much been listening to those three songs mostly.

 

POPULAR POSTS ON GIRL IN AWE

 

How was April for you?

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Life, Scotland, University

We’re moving to Edinburgh!

April 27, 2017

View over Edinburgh from Edinburgh castle

Last week, we got the news we’d be waiting on since the start of February; the University of Edinburgh made me an offer on the best masters course I’d found.

I cannot tell you how many times I have refreshed my emails over the past two months, or how many times I’ve logged into their applicant hub hoping to see an update. The stress and hassle of my current university who don’t seem to understand what an interim transcript is and my tutor and I having to make one because they’re so useless. The anxiety Daz and I have had, stressing about how close it was getting and all the things we need to do and we still don’t have a decision. It was all lifted. I could have cried; but I didn’t because I am not human.

Well, I say the stress was lifted. It was and it was quickly replaced with a load more stress and things that need sorting.

Daz and I spent a few days in Edinburgh towards the end of last year when they had a postgraduate open day and we both fell in love with the place. I love Scotland, I love Edinburgh and the university was everything I thought it would be and more. Some of the buildings look like they’re straight out of Hogwarts; which I guess they kinda are since J. K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh when she started writing the books.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

The course is my dream course. Friends and family kept asking me if I’d applied anywhere else and I kept saying “no, because no where else does a course that is anywhere like this one. I have to get in because everything else seems pointless in comparison.” It was, of course, the most expensive course I could have applied for but the way I see it is that it would have been a waste of money doing a cheaper course because it wouldn’t get me where I want to be. The optional modules are all so exciting and I CAN DO A MODULE ON FORESTS! I cannot tell you how excited I am for that. I love forests.

Having lived in my hometown all my life, I’ve visited places and yearned to experience what it would be like to live somewhere else. Especially somewhere so fancy-looking, I mean Edinburgh has a huge castle on a hill (Ed Sheeran?) that is always in the corner of your eyes. What I also like about Edinburgh is that it isn’t so busy that it overwhelms me and stresses me out; though I’m told it will be completely different when the Fringe Festival is on.

I’m looking forward to living somewhere new but I am very comfortable where I am, as is Daz. The thing I am most nervous about is leaving my current job and finding a new one. I love the people I work with, it’s like a family. I am worried that wherever I end up working in Scotland (Hard Rock Cafe, I’m coming for you…goals) won’t feel quite the same.

Of course I will also miss my family and friends. There are plenty of ways for us to keep in touch though, and none of them appear remotely unhappy about the prospect of visiting us in Edinburgh.

It’s a really exciting next chapter that seems full of a lot of unknowns at the moment but I’m sure things will become clearer over the next few months. We’re also both seriously excited about getting to explore Scotland on our days off because it is all kinds of beautiful.

It sure is a weight off.

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