‘You can’t get lost if you don’t have a destination’


That’s what my newly made friend Jayne Thompson told me as we ploughed through a muddy forest on bikes, the wind in our hair and puddles beneath our feet.

As we cycled, those words stuck with me. Because for the first time on one of my adventures, I didn’t have any idea where we were going or where our bed for the night would be. 

We were wild camping – the act of sleeping somewhere untouched and rural, without toilets, showers or indeed a fee, which is technically illegal. However, it is mostly tolerated as long as you leave no trace, don’t light any open fires and aren’t really seen. It was my first-time experiencing this form of exploring, and the place I had chosen was perfectly suited to the task: the New Forest National park. Remote, beautiful and positively wild. 

The idea of going wild camping popped into my head after seeing numerous posts from other outdoor enthusiasts in adventure Facebook groups. It just seemed so simple. Grab a tent or bivvy bag, make your way to somewhere wild and pick your own camping spot, (normally with some pretty rewarding views) all for free. 

So I decided to do it. I posted on Facebook for advice and asked if anyone wanted to come with me, which is where I met Jayne. I ordered a tent, told my mortified mother, and later that week we were off.  

Seems simple, right? Well on paper it was, but in reality it didn’t quite feel like that. 

A couple of days before I started to get nervous. Everyone I told about my trip was looking at me as if I was crazy. ‘Why would you want to do that?’ ‘It’s not even the right time of year for camping!’ ‘Where are you going to sleep?’ 

I didn’t know, and their reactions were starting to put me off. They were making me doubt myself and my reasons for doing it, which is when I realised that wild camping, although growing in popularity, is still a relatively misunderstood concept. I wanted to go so I could feel a connection with nature, for some solitude and peace. I will admit as the date drew nearer doubts did manage to burrow their way into my mind a bit, especially when I was sat on the train, biting my lip and wondering what the hell I was actually doing, but I managed to be brave and ignore them.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to put yourself first and go.



Of course, as well as being nervous another feeling that coursed through my veins was excitement. Adrenaline. I was going on an adventure! I was going to be sleeping under the stars! 

I got off of the train at Beaulieu Road station and met Jayne who I soon discovered was lovely as I imagined, and we cycled off from there. We had decided to make a day of it and go on a ride before we camped, which was not only fun but a great way of exhausting ourselves so we’d sleep well later.

Once out there, we didn’t follow a map, we just went whichever way we fancied, which felt great. 

Emily and Jayne
Myself, Emily Cox (left) and Jayne Thompson (right).
Jayne Thompson cycling in the New Forest

I struggled a bit to keep up with Jayne as I’ve only got a road bike, and we decided to leave the boring tarmac and instead ride along mud ridden trails and grass pathways, which was a bit of a struggle for my thin tyres. But I managed it, and it was all part of the challenge. 



After a couple of hours, and unfortunate thing happened. The weather forecast defied what it’d told me earlier and it started to rain, which was a bit of a problem because I didn’t have my waterproof with me as I couldn’t find it, and I suddenly, those earlier doubts returned and felt quite silly and unprepared. 

Getting wet meant getting cold, and the rain soon soaked into my skin. As we headed back towards Beaulieu along the road my legs were aching and I was starting to feel more and more anxious. Getting these clothes wet meant very little attire left for the night ahead, as I didn’t have room in my bag for much. However, once again nature put a fresh smile on my face. 


Perhaps the best rainbow I’d ever seen appeared behind us, so huge that I couldn’t fit it all in one photograph. 


Spurred on by the rainbow and the blue skies ahead of us, we cycled the rest of the way back in no time and stopped off at a pub to dry off and get a sandwich. 

By that time it was getting dark so we left to find somewhere to camp, which may have been the most exciting bit of all as we had the whole forest to choose from! After a little cycle, we stumbled across an absolutely perfect looking tree a couple of hundred yards from the trail, with thick branches for cover and a fantastic circle of green beneath it. 



We set up camp quickly and Jayne got out her stove so we could cook some soup before bed. It was only 7pm but by then the stars were already out and we both stood and marvelled at them for a while. I was shivering a little and I could see my breath coming out in clouds in front of me, but when your view is an unpolluted blanket of starry night sky I can tell you, you don’t care. 

I got into my tent and Jayne got into her bivvy and we chatted for a few hours until we felt tired enough to sleep. It was then that I discovered my second problem of the trip. 

My roll mat was broken, leaking so much air there was barely any point blowing it up. This meant that I was forced to sleep on the freezing ground (it was 2 degrees) instead of a layer of air, and I was really surprised at the huge difference that made. Every time I would feel myself start to drift off to sleep a shiver would run down my spine and I’d realise, ah, the mat’s flat again. 

This did lead to a very uncomfortable and cold night’s sleep (I resulted in folding the mat in half at one point but still to little avail), which was a shame, but it by no means ruined it, and I know for next time to buy a proper durable roll mat to keep me off the ground. 

That said, being awake did mean I heard a fair few animals: birds, geese, owls, and a large bark/growl that sounded as if it belonged to something big. I googled it and perhaps it was a wild boar or a just a regular pig, but whatever it was it gave me a bloody fright! 

At about 7am, just when it felt like I’d finally got cosy and had stopped shivering; it was time to wake up and see the sunrise, and oh boy, I’m glad Jayne persuaded me to get out of bed so I didn’t miss it.


It was beautiful. The most stunning sight I’ve seen in a long time. Frost glistened on the ground beneath us, birds sung and chirped. It may sound cliche, but in that moment that view really did make everything worth it. 



Our camp.
There was frost on the ground everywhere apart from under our tree.



Myself, Emily Cox (left) and Jayne Thompson (right)


We sat for a while and had some tea and porridge for breakfast, the view just stunning. With the fresh air in our lungs and sun on our faces. One thought kept running through my mind. This is it. This is feeling alive. Isn’t that what we live for? 

After breakfast, we sat and procrastinated packing up and leaving. Shortly after that a dog walker nearly caught me going to the toilet and I had to dash behind a bush! So after that we did finally pack up and get going, which I understand is common courtesy anyway with wild camping: you arrive late and leave early so you’re not seen by passers-by.

After a short ride back to the train station we parted ways and our adventure was over, but I’d definitely do it again in a heartbeat. Just those few hours of peace and that connection with nature were worth the nervousness and the cold. I think times like that are really valuable for everyone, but especially people like me who live in a built up, fast-paced areas where you can rarely switch off and find some peace. I needed that.


Jayne Thompson (left) and Emily Cox (right)

For next time, a few things I’d do differently is: buy a new roll mat for a start, but also find some gear that packs down small. The less weight the better, and one of the reasons I was cold was because I couldn’t fit as many clothes as I’d have liked into my bag.

So, coming back to what Jayne said: ‘You can’t get lost if you don’t have a destination.’ I would agree wholeheartedly. Being prepared, yet not knowing and not overplanning this adventure was half of the fun. We never would have found that beautiful tree and the peace that came with it if we’d booked into a campsite for the night. 

If you’ve been thinking about going wild camping but haven’t quite made the leap yet, go. In my humble experience, it won’t all be perfect, but it’ll probably be pretty damn good.


Why writing fanfiction isn’t as crazy as you think

Fanfiction. Feared by all. Mothers hide away their children, teenagers joke and laugh or run for the hills. Most people probably won’t even know what it is.

But I do 😉

Of course, I’m joking, fanfiction isn’t really that bad. It is not a monster of any description, nor is it dangerous or evil, but it does have a bit of a bad reputation.

Before, when I was an ordinary person and not part of the so-called Sherlock fandom (a group of people who obsess over the BBC show – something I’ll get into another time) I didn’t really know what fanfiction really was, so here’s the definition for you:

Fanfiction: fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, film, book, etc.

So there we go, it’s as simple as that.

The fact is, no matter what way you wrap it, shape it, or slide it slyly into a conversation, fanfiction just ain’t cool.

Which is a shame really, because it’s the best thing I ever started writing.

The things people generally associate fanfiction with are nerds, weird sex, weird storylines, and generally very poor writing. While all of the above can be true in many cases – and hell, I have definitely read some weird and awful things – that’s simply not the truth about it.

Fanfiction is creative writing. It is taking characters or a setting that people already know and doing your own thing with it, and that is SO much fun; both for the readers and the creators.

I have read tragic love stories, fast-paced action, historical fiction, thrillers, you name it, if you want it from your favourite TV show, it’s probably out there waiting for you – you just have to find it.

And the best bit is the majority of it is not bad – not by any stretch. Some of the stuff I’ve read is actually better than the original work it was created from. The writing can be excellent, the stories can match the length and depth of any bestselling book, and it’s all created by talented volunteers who do it for free – simply for the love of writing.

Isn’t that great? Shouldn’t we be celebrating that?

I definitely think so, but for some reason it’s not talked about – or not in a good way at least. I guess with popular shows such as Sherlock it might be becoming slightly more mainstream, but I think we’ve still got a long way to go yet.

So, the next question is, where can you find these alleged pieces of art?

Well here is a list of popular fanfiction websites:

  1. Archive of Our Own

This is the main site – and the one you really want to be using because it’s where everyone and everything good is. A non-profit organisation that was established by fans in 2007, the site was literally created to serve and share the many forms of fanfiction. It’s mainly for writing, but you can also upload and view fan art among various other things.

Now, as a website, it can seem slightly complicated at first, but trust me it’s really great. You just have to stick with it. This is where you’ll find the highest quality and longest stories. You can search by the amounts of kudos (likes) or hits (views) to filter the best from the worst. You can also search by specific ships (couple pairings) or fandoms (TV shows/films) to get exactly what you want.

The best thing about this website – meaning it ranks higher than anything else in my opinion – is that it uses a list or news feed based system. So no matter how many subscribers you have or how many works you have previously posted, when you publish something, even as a complete and utter beginner, it will go on a certain list based on its tags and/or fandom and get views.

This is really great for creators because it means everyone gets the opportunity to interact and engage with an active and friendly audience – regardless of follower count or experience. The bottom line is, if your work is good, then it’ll probably get read.

This is where I do all my writing and reading and I would definitely recommend it over anything else. You can also upload original works too! It doesn’t even have to be fanfiction at all if you don’t want it to be.

  1. Wattpad

I didn’t really know what this was until people on Instagram started mentioning it, and to be honest I’m not really a big fan of this particular site. But I’ll tell you about it anyway.

Wattpad is a fairly recent creation. It’s more of an app than a website (although it can be used as both unlike Ao3), and it has a much larger following than any other writing-based app out there.

It gives anyone the opportunity to write and publish their own story online. The difference is that it’s centered around original works and novels rather than fanfiction (possibly why it has a much larger readership) which means there are all kinds of stories avaliavble – but fanfiction is still a prominent section.

The app is much clearer in its setup for writing and reading than any other and it’s generally easier to use. It is much more simple, compatible, and appealing, but sadly (in my experience at least) it is let down by a few major flaws.

-The writing quality is generally very poor. I don’t want to be rude but all the top works I’ve read on there are just awful, they really are – yet some have thousands of views. This is a mystery I am still yet to solve. You’re probably thinking it’s just me and my judgment, but honestly, check some of the works (specifically in the fanfiction section) and I think you’ll understand.

-When you upload a story it seems to get lost in the internet void. Unless you have a large social media following to promote your work, your story is unlikely to get views. It will just sit there forever, floating silently in the abyss, oblivious of any possible audiences or interactions. You will have to actively bring people to your website/profile if you want to get anywhere.

So this is definitely an option, and it does seem to be the latest thing people are talking about. But I’ve tried it and my personal advice would be not to bother.

  1. Fanficiton.net

Now I don’t know too much about fanfiction.net and I’m not going to pretend that I do. I know it functions well as a website and is fairly clear and easy to understand, but I don’t think it offers anything particularly new over Ao3, and when I joined a few years ago, it seemed like it was more for children rather than adults – if you get what I mean. I just didn’t like it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for you if the other two didn’t appeal to you.

So those are the main websites I’ve come across. If you do actually want to start reading or writing fanfiction or just try something new, then perhaps test them all out and find what’s best for you, because I am only speaking from my own personal experience here and some people really love Wattpad and hate Ao3, so I suppose it’s just down to the individual.

But, websites aren’t the only places you can find fanfiction. People literally write and produce it for a living. Don’t believe me?




These are all famous examples of works that originated from an earlier idea/book/story and are essentially fanfiction. They are all highly successful and popular in their own right.

So if there are people out there earning an actual living from it, why is it still considered shameful? Why do I brace myself for the good-natured teasing that inevitably comes when I  admit to someone I enjoy reading and writing fanfiction (and why have I used the word ‘admit’ as though I was guilty of something nasty?) Why is it the good-natured intent of the teasing still makes me feel like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be talking about in public, let alone admit to enjoying?

I don’t really know the answer, but I wish it wasn’t like that, because for all its stereotypes and flaws fanfiction can actually be very good. It’s what really got me into writing in the first place, and now I want to be an author and create my own original work. My dream is to publish a novel or write and direct my own screenplay. I enjoy reading and creating more than I ever did before, and more than that, I want to share this part of myself with people. I want to say to them, look at this story I’ve just created, without them thinking ‘oh, what a loser’ inside their head.

Above anything else, I want more people to give the bloody thing a chance so they can see its depth and beauty for themselves. There are so many talented authors out there, and so many people with the potential to grow into one. That just wouldn’t have happened to me if it wasn’t for fanfiction. I simply wouldn’t be so inspired to do what I do today: write

“I think fanfiction, or as it should be called, ‘Fiction’, is a wonderful thing and a brilliant way to start and continue writing, because it’s not self-indulgent in any way. Oddly enough, it’s the opposite of self-indulgent. You’re writing this, generally speaking, fan fiction for other people. You’re trying to entertain someone. You’re actively engaging in the business of storytelling. You will learn more from writing fanfiction or doing fan art, any of those things; you will learn more from doing that well, than you will from any writing course you go on. Because writing fiction of that kind is the job. It’s not like the job; it IS the job.

“Writing is not defined by whether or not you have successfully monetised it, although successfully monetising it is ace, it’s defined by whether or not you’ve written or created something people want and like. It is a brilliant and wonderful thing, and it is a joy to be involved in something that promotes and creates so much of it.”

-Steven Moffat, showrunner, writer and executive producer of the television series Sherlock and Doctor Who.

(I do not own copyright to any photos used in this article)

Is exam stress getting to you?


It’s that time of year again, when parents increase the nagging by 110% and all the young people begin tearing their hair out. Yes, let’s cut to the point, we all know it’s exam season, and that means…


But never fear. I am here, as an actual young person who has recently lived through 15 years of the cruel education system and survived (with only a few minor breakdowns), to give you my humble advice. So, let’s get started, shall we? Here are my top tips:

  1. Try your best.

Ok, hear me out here, this is really important. The phrase on its own sounds stupid and meaningless and it’s probably one of the last things you want to hear right now, but this is literally the first step on the ladder to exam happiness.

Because the thing is, if you try your hardest then you won’t have anything to feel guilty about if you fail. It’s as simple as that. Maybe it’s just me, but the only thing worse than flopping an exam is knowing you failed because you didn’t try hard enough. If you tried your best, and actually put the time in; no one, not your teachers or your parents or even yourself can get mad. Because it’s literally not your fault. Exams aren’t for everyone, and perhaps you just had a bad day, a bad year, or a bad subject choice.

But that’s okay, there’s no shame in admitting that if you gave it a good shot. Some things just don’t work out. Maybe it was a really important exam, but they’re not everything. Breathe. Calm yourself. If you want to get somewhere you will. There’ll always be a way around it I promise (I’ll share some of my own examples later).

But how do you try your best? Really? You hear teachers say it all the time, but what does that phrase actually mean in this context? Well, here are some more detailed tips:

  • Start revising early. Just an evening here and there, or the occasional Saturday morning at the library. Just start. You don’t have to create a timetable if you don’t want to (because I find them incredibly annoying personally) but you should set yourself a goal. Something realistic such as an hour each day. It hurts to say this but you really should use the Easter holiday and half terms to revise too. Just a few hours in the morning, that sort of thing.
  • Organise your notes and go through everything systematically. Maybe this is just me, but I like knowing I have covered everything start to finish, so make sure you allow enough time for that. Be organised. Highlight and prioritise. Put things into folders. It helps, and can also be a good way to procrastinate.
  • Do past papers. This is really important. It’s amazing how many people (former me included) revise but never actually look at the past papers – except perhaps in lessons. You need to understand the answer’s they’re looking for and how to write them. (Commonly called exam technique). This is literally half the challenge of passing an exam in the first place, so don’t be one of those people that miss it out or leave it to the last minute.
  • Look up specific methods of how to revise and find what works for you. Mind maps, flashcards, extra classes, acronyms, the lot. There are hundreds of different ways to revise, and in school we’re rarely taught what to do when the time comes. So look these methods up, try them, and then settle for the one that works best. I personally like taking notes and then turning the newly learnt information into a question. This way when I go through and try and answer all of the questions later, I know if the knowledge has actually gone in or not. (And a lot of the time you’ll find that it hasn’t.)
  • Ask for help, seriously, don’t be afraid. I know a lot of you won’t have a problem with this, but I did. Teachers can seem evil (and I believe many of them are – especially at secondary school ) but the trick is to identify which ones aren’t and will help. Even the horrible ones will probably look at you differently if you turn up at lunch with a question. If your teachers won’t help then try a tutor, your parents, or your friends.

Right then, now that’s done, let’s back to the general revision tips:

2. Don’t revise in your bedroom (or an area where you regularly relax).

This is another bit of solid advice, because when you revise in your bedroom, you’re less likely to be in the mindset for work, and will get distracted. When you want to revise, make sure you get up (early is best, perhaps 9) shower and change, before going out somewhere and settling down in a new space. Try a quiet table in your house, a cafe or a library. This way you’re automatically ready to sit down and learn something in a work environment, unlike if you were just crunching on some toast in your pyjamas. I found going out to the library really beneficial, as it meant leaving the house and separating my home life from work. It’s also nice to get back and not worry about doing any more revision, because you’ve already done your bit for the day.

3. Get plenty of exercise.

It’s common knowledge that a healthy body leads to a healthy brain. Exercise can also improve your memory, so it might help to try and do some if you don’t already.

Now I know what you’re thinking, if you’re not a naturally sporty person exercise is horrible. I hated it at school, but trust me, doing it on your own terms is another experience entirely. Going out, whether it be for a walk, swim, or cycle, you name it, can be so refreshing. Taking an hour in the morning or the evening stops you from feeling like you’ve wasted the whole day inside revising. It also keeps you healthy, and really helps with your mental health. Whenever I start to feel myself slipping, I step up the exercise and time in the sunshine, and it really does help me feel better.

3. Put the phone away.

This point is pretty obvious, and I’m sure you don’t need me to say it, but we all get distracted by our phones sometimes. So make that urge even easier to resist by putting it out of sight. You can check it in one of your breaks, and use a computer (preferably not your own) to look things up instead. If you want to learn properly, then you just have to put it down.

It sucks. But it’s only a few hours, and the internet really isn’t going anywhere.

4. Reward yourself with regular snacks and treats. 

You did 45 minutes of solid revision? Yay! Go you, take a whole 15-minute break and get yourself a snack to celebrate.

Breaks are important. They allow our brain to relax and refresh so we’re ready for the next bit of learning. We can only concentrate for roughly 40-90 minutes anyway. So if you’ve done a sizable chunk of work, take a break, relax, and check your phone. You deserve it. I find setting a timer (say, 45 minutes?) and not moving for my break until that timer goes off is a great way to keep track of the revision you’ve achieved.

5. Get lots of sleep.

Gosh, I really am starting to sound like your mum here, I’m so sorry.

Life for a young person is stressful. I hate people who try and belittle our problems and pretend that it isn’t. Exams are stressful. Friendship/relationship drama is going on, and on top of all of this social media is constantly begging you to be checked and updated. It’s the biggest distraction in our modern society. It’s part of our lives now, and it can seem impossible to switch off (which is something no one over the age of 25 had to deal with when they were at school.)

I’m being a bit of a hypocrite here because I still struggle with this, but try and put the phone down get as much sleep as you can, mainly because it’s vital if you want to remember anything.

6. Keep your notes organised (and get lots of cool stationary)

I sort of already talked about this, but there is actually nothing more satisfying to look at than nice clear revision notes, trust me. Buy yourself a cute notebook and fill it with pretty gel pen colours and highlighters, whatever works. Ditch that boring black notebook your mum got you and go to town with a shiny rainbow one. Take pleasure in the small things, because for some reason, for me at least, it makes everything a little more bearable.

7. Try the Mind Palace Technique. 

This should excite any Sherlock fans out there. If you want to be a bit quirky, then you can try what I like to call ‘the Mind Palace technique’. This is where you create a load of posters or notes, and stick them up in different areas around your house; putting one on each wall in a room, or grouping them into subject topics or whatever. Then you run around every room calling out the information on each wall. (You might want to make sure no one else is in for this part.)

You can do it however you like. You could dedicate one room per subject, then split the topics up by using the walls, or use the whole house for a certain topic you’re struggling with. It’s completely up to you.

When you’ve finished running around like a lunatic and calling out names, sit down at your desk, close your eyes, and imagine yourself visiting each room and reading the information – which is how you remember it. I tried it for the theorists in my English Language A level, and I was surprised at how well it really worked. You will look like an absolute clown, but it’s worth it. If you like a more active way of learning, then give this a go.

8. Don’t surround yourself with other people who are getting stressed. 

There’s always that one friend who is constantly freaking out, and exams are no exception. (This includes any stressful online group chats you’re in too.) The people panicking may be nice friends, but their stress will only make you more stressed, which is really bad for your learning. Above anything else stressing out only wastes time and will just make you feel awful.

In short, avoid all the stressed people and just focus on yourself and your work. Like I said, if you’re trying hard, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about anyway. It will be fine.

9.  Read the timetable so you actually know the date of your exams. 

Have you ever heard your mum’s friend gossiping about that one child from your school who forgot the date of the exam once and actually missed it?

Don’t be that person. It may sound obvious but things like this can creep up on you. Make sure you know all the dates and note them down, and make sure you’re aware of exactly which questions you’ll have to answer too; as often it can be confusing in subjects such as English literature. Do your research and be prepared. Don’t be that one kid every year who attempts to answer all six 40 mark questions in an hour. They don’t tend to do very well.

My story:

Finally, I would like to share my story with you; because despite reciting all this advice, I have never been an A* student.

I don’t know where exactly it all went wrong at primary school, but I suddenly fell behind with the basics in English. I remember being put into special groups and workshops – so I suppose they did try and help me catch up – but by the time I reached secondary school there were some serious gaps in my knowledge. I did well in SATS and got placed in a fairly high English set, (because the tests were on creative writing and word association etc) but the truth was I suffered severely with spelling, punctuation and grammar.

I distinctly remember my first English lesson at secondary school. We did a spelling test out of twenty, with very basic words. But you know what I got?

Nine. Out of twenty. The next lowest score in the class was 17. I’m not going to lie to you, it was pretty embarrassing. I remember blushing and wanting to die on the spot. Yet, no help was given, and so, because I was too nervous to ask, I went through the majority of school not knowing the basics. I scraped along by copying friends and faking ill to avoid spelling tests, but when GCSE’s came along, I got a D. I retook it and got a C eventually, but I’d failed. Clearly, I wasn’t good at English, even though it was what I enjoyed most.

Despite this, I still wanted to take it at college, but you needed at least a B to study it, which obviously I didn’t have. However, (and I’m not a strong believer in fate) a miracle happened.

They messed up my GCSE results and I didn’t get the correct marks, which meant on the day of college enrollment, when they asked, ‘”But will you have a B when your proper results come through, right?” I panicked and said:

“Yes. Definitely. I think did really well in that exam.”

Ha. I started on the course, and low and behold, when my real results came through, it was not the B I had hoped for.

But it didn’t matter because I was already in! I was on the course! And they never checked to see what my actual grade was.

The first year of college began, and it was a bit like school. The struggle continued, I was too embarrassed to ask for help, and at the end of AS (the first part of A levels), it wasn’t really a big surprise to see I’d ended up with an E.

But did I give up?
Nope. I just filed for another retake.
Standing in that office, filling out that form, was the moment I realised that if I wanted to have any hope of being a writer, I was gonna have to buck my ideas up. Really. So that was it. I googled all the advice I could, I went to extra classes, followed all the tips I’ve just given you here and then really tried.
And it worked, in the end I got a B at A Level, something, at times, I never believed would be possible.
Now, a year on, I’m training to be a journalist at my local paper. I frequently have work published and have done freelance work, written short stories, poems, this blog; and in September I’ll be off to university.
I think I’m finally getting there. And I do believe I have what it takes to be a professional writer.
Exams. Aren’t. Everything. Grades don’t define you.
I didn’t even need high grades to get into the course I am on now. There will always be a way around things. You just have to be proactive and look for it. Of course good results help, which is why you should try hard, but they’re not everything.
If you want it you will get there. Just believe in yourself and try your best. You’ve got this.

Why I took the plunge and finally deleted Snapchat

Snapchat. Used by millions and famous for its quirky filters. If you’re someone with a smartphone under 40, you’ve probably got it.

And So did I, until about two minutes ago.

Yes, I have finally taken the plunge and deleted the little yellow ghost app from my phone, and god, it feels like such a breath of fresh air.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I actually stopped enjoying my time there and started checking it only out of necessity, (because that can be said nearly almost social media to some extent), but Snapchat had definitely become the worst. I was checking it unconsciously before I even knew what my thumb was doing; because I felt like I had to otherwise I might miss something. Because I needed to see all the great things my friends had been up today, because-

Actually, I don’t really know why I was checking it, but one thing that did become clear, is that it wasn’t making me happy.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t enjoy witnessing and celebrating all the great things my friends do every day, because I do, but most of the stories I saw consisted mainly of this:

“Look at me I’m so cool I’m clubbing.”

“Look at this really hilarious thing that is happening right now to me and my friends.”

“Look at how much work I have to do – poor me.”

Just…no. I’m not interested anymore. For some reason, all of the above either leave me feeling jealous, bitter, or annoyed. And also a bit sad because I don’t speak to some of those people anymore, and they appear to be doing just fine without me.

To put it simply: I feel like what I’m doing isn’t good enough because it’s not as much fun as whatever my friends are doing. It’s a probelm I’ve been trying to narrow down for a while, and to me, the whole thing just seems to be a competition to show off who has the best life.

I am so done with that.

My life is fine. It is good – great even. Sure, there are bad nights and bad days sometimes, but that’s ok. It’s actually normal, and we should stop pretending that our lives are 100 percent perfect on social media all the time, because that’s inaccurate, and just leaves people feeling invalid.

So goodbye to it all. It’s gone. I’m free. Sure, Instagram and Facebook are probably the next worst culprits, but they’re not so bad, and I can probably deal with them for the time being.

It’s not like the app ever worked properly on my phone anyway. For now at least, good riddance.

MAESTRA – a thrilling let down


Maestra, it’s a book by author L.S Hilton that came out in September earlier this year. You probably haven’t heard of it – I’m not expecting that you have, and the fact is there’s a good reason for that.

It’s a shockingly boring, slightly confusing, and a remarkably un-sexy disappointment.

Sorry Hilton. The writing wasn’t bad though.

The plot is undoubtedly what lets this book down. Strange and unrealistic, you find yourself raising your eyebrows and muttering “Huh?” as you reach then end of the page rather than rushing frantically to read the next one – and that’s at the bits you’re supposed to understand.

The story begins with our protagonist, Judith Rashleigh, working at a prestigious art gallery called ‘British Pictures’ in London. There’s some talk of her day to day work, some art references that (let’s be honest) most people are unlikely to understand, and some standard flashbacks to her unhappy childhood and neglect by her apparently alcoholic mother. I’ll admit that I was vaguely interested by that last part, but overall the first couple of chapters were dramatically unenticing – especially for a book which repeatedly named as a ‘shocking thriller’.

Um…did those critics read the same thing as me?

Don’t get me wrong, some of it was shocking, but only in the way that felt weird and unsettling rather than gripping and exciting. When things start to go wrong and Judith gets fired from her job for uncovering something that the art world wants to keep hidden, she suddenly flies off the rails, dropping everything to overturn her life and complete an absurd one-stop tour of Europe, leeching off the rich and murdering every other man she meets.

Exactly, sounds crazy and unbelievable. That’s because it is.

And if this wasn’t off-putting enough, the ridiculous need to label drop every item Judith wore or purchased soon became incredibly dull, (along with the plot), and only led to me rolling my eyes before marking Miss Rashleigh down as shallow and unworkable character. Witty and smart but also a bit of a psychopath, as you press further and further into the book, it’s hard to understand if you should be rooting for her, or hating her, and unfortunately, I found myself favouring the latter.

A plot such as this is just far too confusing and unrealistic to ever lead to something successful, and the likely hood is that you’ll put the book down and think “Uh, I’ll try and get to grips with that later” – and then never pick it up again.

Which is a shame really.

Though, to be fair to Hilton, it wasn’t all bad. As I mentioned before the writing was fairly good, captivating me to some extent, and meaning I did manage to get a fair way through the story voluntarily before I began physically forcing myself to the end. So, I would say it was just about worth the £3.99 I paid for it, because it did save me from boredom at a couple of train stations.

But honestly, I’d be annoyed if I’d paid more.

The beginning

Wow! Look at that title, what a cracking start. “How original” I hear you say from underneath your raised eyebrows.

But I ask you, (very kindly of course) not to click back yet, because despite first impressions this isn’t just me being boring. It’s me being honest. See, I made a promise to myself, a sort of bargain if you like, that if I do this, I’m going to tell the truth and be myself right from the very start. 

And the truth is this: I can’t be bothered to think of anything else. I don’t want to sit around pondering for hours, trying to conjure up some marvelous, extraordinary, concoction of words that string together to form a perfectly original title for my first ever blog post. I mean who has time for that? I already had enough stress just thinking of a decent username. So after a mere minute of pondering, I decided to stick with ‘The beginning’, because that’s what this is really. The start of my story. Plain and simple. 

I debated boring you with a list of meaningless facts about myself…where I live, how old I am…etc, etc. But then I realised, that’s dull, and probably not what you actually want to know. What’s more interesting is why.


Why does someone take the time to create a blog, curl up in bed or sit perched in a hustling coffee shop, laptop or phone in hand, thoughts and emotions tumbling from their fingertips and spilling into the boundless reams of webpages and hyperlinks that so gracefully make up the Internet that you’re using right at this very minute.

I can’t vouch for others, because actually I know very little about blogging (shh, I know you can tell) and as it happens I know even less people who actually do it.

But for me, well.

My answer is simple and complicated all at the same time.

I’m at that age where family occasions, which used to be vaguely bearable, have now descended into a swirling abyss of awkward questions and sly remarks, that go slightly along the lines of this:

“What are you going to be doing next year then?”

“Are you going to university?”

“What do you want to do with your life?” 

My reply is one of two things, and I still haven’t decided which one grants the worse response.

If I blush nervously and say that I don’t know, that I have ideas but am unsure of them because they change as frequently as the weather, (and you know, university is kind of an expensive experience to be splashing out on in the name of an idea, a possibility.) then they tend to stare down at me through pitiful eyes, because their son or daughter has already applied and got a place at somewhere “really nice” and they won’t just be floating through life meaninglessly existing as they expect I will be doing so for the next year.

Or, if I am feeling slightly braver, I will tell them my plans for a gap year with confidence. Explaining that the career areas I can see myself going into fall roughly into the boundaries of acting, creative writing, journalism, film and media production, and composing scores on the piano.

And actually, on second thoughts, I have decided that the response to my brave statement is probably the worst. Because the most common reply I get is:

“Oh. All that stuff is really hard to get into…”

And I feel it right then, that they don’t think I can do it. I can see, that trapped tightly behind their stiff upper lip is the urge to tell me to give it all up and go and study Psychology or something. “Something a bit easier”.

So, if we rewind a second, drag ourselves back to the original point I was making. This is the reason I am sat here now in a crowded corridor balancing my laptop on my knees and typing away frantically at my keyboard.

Because I have decided that I enjoy writing, and would possibly like to do it as a future career choice. So what do writers do? Some of them have a blog.

I’m not going to go through and explain the benefits of writing said blog, since, you’re not the new ones here and I expect you already know all of that. But I would like to explain the sort of topics I will be writing about, as I feel you have a right to know and that’s what people normally do in introduction posts instead of rambling on pointlessly for nearly 800 words…sorry about that.

So, now you know my style slightly better I will allow myself to give you a basic introduction.

My name is Emily (how dull, so it’s shortened to Em) and I’m currently a student in second year of sixth form college. I study English (and other non related stuff), and through writing this blog I would like to explore several different aspects of writing. I think I am going to try my hand at writing a few reviews, mainly on new TV episodes and the occasional film, since as mentioned earlier I’m very interested in all that stuff. I’m also going to write monthly posts with regular updates on my life and projects I’m working on (I’ll make sure it’s interesting, promise). The final thing I am going to try is travel writing, since I will be doing a lot of travelling next year and would like to document it as best I can. But that’s a while off, so we can forget about that for now.

I can’t say these ideas are set in stone and won’t change, because they might. But I must say I’m very excited to have begun this as I’ve wanted to for a while and it feels nice to actually introduce myself.

Frankly, I’m flattered if you read all of my uncoordinated rambling to the end, so, thank you. I can’t wait to meet all of you fellow bloggers and get to grips with how this works.