Saturday, 2 September 2017

To the Lake District, Thank You for Helping Me Breathe Again

Two days away from the grey of the city. That’s all it took. I wasn’t happy and the intensity of people, of the lack of adventure and most terrifying of all, myself, diluted any hope I had left. I needed quiet. I needed something to help me climb out of my head and fall in love with the world again.

It was around midday when we set off. The skies were mellow and pale grey but my best friend and I were feeling yellow. I hadn’t seen her, (we’ll call her K.), for a while now so three hours on the motorway gave us the perfect chance to catch up. K. typed in the post code to the Lake District while I started playing the soundtrack to my summer - Lorde’s Melodrama album. We later turned to old Taylor Swift songs we both knew the words to, the melodies of childhood nostalgia, just as the sun began to line the clouds with a marmalade orange tint. We laughed at how terrible T-Swift’s new song is (despite it being embarrassingly catchy) and profusely analysed the Game of Thrones finale. Our time in the car extended by another two hours as the traffic hit so it was just after five o’clock when we arrived, excitedly following the sign to Low Wray Campsite, situated next to the largest natural lake in England: Lake Windermere. 

Since I’ve never been camping before and the last time K. had set up a tent was a good few years ago, we were slightly worried that it would go horribly wrong. Thankfully it didn’t take us too long before we were nestled in blankets, eating our lunch (K. a pasta pot and a tuna salad for myself), admiring the green hills with their smoky backdrop in silence. The rumble of engines turned our heads as two fast jets broke through the clouds above, powerful beasts capturing every campers’ attention. We smiled, wide-eyed, knowing that both of us were thinking the exact same thing.

With fresh air dancing in our lungs, we decided to stroll down to the lake. Its expanse was extraordinary. Having just turned eight o’clock, the sun was sleepy and would be settling down soon. The blue reflections gradually changed to orange and violet; I breathed it all in. My best friend and I sat and talked for hours, conversations rolling off our tongues with only a few short intervals where we’d stare out to the hills across the lake. I wanted to hold that moment forever.

Guided by the light of our phones, we walked back to the campsite. Wrapped in the safety of our blankets, eating small chunks of mango, happy.

Living in the UK, unforgiving clouds are unfortunately a permanent part of the sky so we don’t get to see many stars. But that night, the black was peppered with white dots unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. We lay there in silence, stargazing. The highlight, I think for both of us, was the moment we saw a shooting star flash across the sky, like an artist’s paintbrush slipping on a canvas. I held my breath, and we both made a wish.  

The night passed uncomfortably, as is expected when there’s nothing but thin material and a blanket between you and English soil. With sleepy eyes and dew-drenched grass outside, we wished each other ‘good morning’ the next day. Our bodies shook from the cold as we got dressed, listening to the birds while fellow campers began to stir.

We wandered down to the lake again at around eight o’clock, blankets and breakfast in hand. The morning light softened the hills and created a magical film-like effect. Hours rolled by as the sun rose, peach-coloured. We spotted one or two brave people swimming, battling the water and its icy temperatures, kept company by the ducks aimlessly floating by. Drops of light rain began to fall and disturb the still water. We huddled closer and inhaled its earthy perfume.

Across Windermere was a hauntingly beautiful hill. Clouds kissed its peaks, reminding us of its grandeur. It wouldn’t be an easy climb but we were determined. We walked along the lake’s edge, trying to figure out the best route to take, but to no avail. Unable to work out how to get there, we decided to sit on a cluster of rocks and look out to gather our bearings; a kayaker paddled by and we joked about asking him to give us a ride to the hill.

We did discover, however, the Wray Castle cruise departure point and decided to wait twenty-five minutes for the next boat to come around. Sitting amongst excitable children, nature-admirers and adorable dogs, we set off for our first stop: Brockhole.

Moving in sync with the water and being on top of the silver waves, in a way, gave us a sense of control, rather than when we were just observing from afar. The crackle of a microphone brought us out of a deep lull, as facts about Windermere and its surrounding beauty were told to us like mythical stories. Being able to see it while hearing about it made it all the more real.

Brockhole was a child’s dreamland. Family picnics, a zip wire, archery, pony rides, mini golf, treetop nets; we both wished to be young again. Overlooking the activities was a grand white building (the visitor centre, shop, information and toilets), its surrounding greenery maintained by kind-eyed gardeners. We walked down pathways, taking it all in before arriving back at the boat departure point.

It wasn’t too long before we got to Ambleside, a quaint town with pastel-coloured bunting, cafes, small boats and souvenir shops. We sat on the edge of the harbour, grateful for the sunshine, watching young children feeding the ducks. A mother shouted to her son “don’t get your shoes wet!” I wanted desperately to say: let him feel the water on his skin, let him enjoy the small things.

For £8.25, the boat ride couldn’t have been more worth it.

Back at the campsite, we packed up the tent, grabbed some food from the car and sat down by the lake - our favourite spot - for the last time. Sometimes chatting, sometimes silent, soaking up the sun. In that moment, we both felt like the luckiest people alive.

On the drive back we sang the classics: Mr Brightside, Toxic, Hollaback Girl. It wouldn’t be a road trip without them. The sun painted the sky in the most stunning shades of pink and orange before disappearing, leaving blue shadows behind and a faint crescent moon in its place.

This might be a little bit of a bold (and slightly pretentious) overstatement, but I like to think that I fell in love with the world again, if only for a short time.  

 {All photos are mine and K.’s}

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Am I An Aesthetic? // Poetry

The idea of perfectly composed photographs and cinematography is interesting. It made me think about the way we can go into relationships thinking that it'll be all clichéd kissing in the rain and dancing under the stars (I personally blame Nicholas Sparks). It leads to seeing people as these beautifully constructed beings, when in fact, we're not.

I'm not an aesthetic to be admired at surface level; I'm messy and naive, I make mistakes and I can be a bit too much sometimes. But I understand that it's human to want the rose-tinted life, even if it is just temporary, because a little bit of temporary happiness makes the harsh reality a little less painful.

the world is an aesthetic to you
an idea, an image, a fabrication

evening sunlight
perfectly arranged tulips
pomegranate pink
backdrop of sea blue
breeze through fingers
shorts and converse

winter arrives
pomegranate pink
turns to blood
only when the sun sets
i remember the sea
is just the sky's reflection
and so sea blue becomes
heartache black
fingers numb, biting winds
cold legs, dirty converse

the world is an aesthetic to you
an idea, an image, a fabrication

am I sun-kissed?
does the light catch me?
am I an aesthetic?
am I art?

black and white photograph
ripped edges
tossed to the side
the same way winter
destroys flowers
you drained our tulips of colour
and the worst part is
i still catch you bathing
in the golden hour
with vivid colour in your eyes

I never planned for my blog to include so much of my poetry but I've been enjoying writing it so much that it's naturally found its way onto here so I hope that's okay.

What are your thoughts on this modern notion of aesthetics?

{Photo source: Nabsticle}

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Tangerine Boy // Poetry

I know it's been a while but it was late and I was eating a tangerine (which was essentially my dinner because I'm a lazy student who can't cook) and lo and behold a poem about infatuation and tangerines was born.

I learnt a couple of things from this:
      a)      inspiration can strike at literally any given moment
      b)     don't compare your crush to a fruit because I'm pretty sure that it can only go downhill from there

He's a difficult-to-peel t a n g e r i n e
You know the ones I mean
Leaves a potent scent
Underneath your fingernails
I try and untangle his stringy webs
Against the backdrop of sunrise orange

Maybe I'm thinking too much
It's just a colour and he's just another fruit
But it leaves me holding on
Fingers hooked
Juice bleeding down knuckles kind of hooked
Squeezing so tight my fingers turn blue

They say b l u e and orange are complimentary
But the acidity seeks the cracks in my skin
Burns and stings till I decide that
I can't pull apart his segments
Peel his hard skin
And to put it simply
The sweet turned sour and
I mistook him for my sunrise
When he should have been a sunset

{Photo source: Nabsticle}

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Four // Poetry

Two plus two no longer equals four.
The literature I purchase and the latest televised addiction
Resides in my head instead;

Absorbed without permission by sensory sponges -
No longer simplistic because
The sun is no longer a ball of fire
And the moon is no longer her best friend.
Children believe what adults deem unthinkable
And now there’s a reason why Catherine marries Edgar
And why motives drive our dreams,

There’s scientific reasons behind you and I
And for the price of bread to dramatically rise.
I wish that I still believed,
Believed that Tony Blair is an astronaut

And babies come neatly wrapped from God
And Catherine marries Edgar for love.
But it’s all settling inside through sensory sponges
In the irreversible clock that is my head -
Absorbing literary and televisual influences,
And bleeding out what once, equalled, four.

I’m really trying to enhance my poetry at the moment so I’d love to know if you have any tips or advice? Any recommendations for modern poetry anthologies that I might like are very much welcome too.

Fun fact: I genuinely believed that Tony Blair was an astronaut when I was younger…

{Photo source: Nabsticle}

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Candy Sticks

It was sometime after 9pm. The evening sky was a shade of blue like no other, a deep shade that perhaps only night owls can appreciate and souls of a more dark nature can understand. The air held an essence of familiarity; we inhaled its purity deeply and profusely, wanting to hold onto that warm feeling in our lungs forever.

“It’s really nice tonight,” my brother said.

“Yeah, it is,” I reply.

“You know, we’re going to miss this. Once we leave. In ten years’ time our late night walks will be nothing but a distant memory, and this neighbourhood will have changed so much.”

“Yeah, it’s so weird to think,” I said, followed by us both glancing around, trying to capture mental pictures of each stone, each puffing chimney, each individual front door. “Who knows where we’ll end up.” I smile, and we continue walking up the hill that has our footprints memorised so well.

The wind intensified – my skin approved but my hair certainly didn’t - as we reached the top of the hill and crossed the road towards Asda. We only needed to pick up a few things. Our basket was soon filled: Milkybar buttons (my brother was craving chocolate), a loaf of bread, apple crumble etc.

It was when we began perusing the confectionary aisle that I noticed it. A rectangular red box, blended into the array of sweets and sugary goodness so that I almost didn’t notice it.

Candy sticks.

I picked them up with giddy excitement bubbling within. I shook the box and heard my childhood echoing in my ears. I was no longer standing in a supermarket, but instead was transported back to the day when I bought a Spider Man themed pack with my friends from the Co Op down the road. To the moment when those papery sticks were poised between our small, not-fully-grown fingers, pretending like we were cool kids smoking cigarettes on the corner of our street. To the days when my mum imprinted the temporary tattoos that they came with upon my unscarred skin. Still clutched in my hand, we hurried towards the self-checkouts.  

Please fully insert your card. We giggled at the monotone voice after scanning each item. We couldn’t help it; the child in us was resurfacing. The wind was softer now as we walked the long way home.

“Look at us,” I said. “Doing a bit of grocery shopping. It’s almost as if we’re fully functioning adults.” We both laughed.

We pulled out the little box – only realising a decade later that even the packaging looked like a cigarette pack – and just like before, we held them between our now more experienced and calloused fingers, exhaling imaginary rings of smoke.

They tasted like cardboard and left a bitter taste of chalk in our throats. But we ate them anyway. As soon as we got home, I rushed to the sink and after a minute of dabbing, an image of a Sith Lord was stained onto my left hand. I laughed at how stupid it all was. I don’t even like Star Wars… But it made me so unbelievably happy. It was comforting to know that my past is still here with me, that it’s still a part of who I am, even if who I am is so far from who I thought I was going to be.

Who would’ve thought that a small red box, worth 40p, containing chalky sticks, could bring me so much joy. I’m going to remember it the next time I have my driving lesson, the next time I research career options, and especially next Thursday when I go to collect my exam results that are going to decide my future. I suppose the unpleasant aftertaste isn’t so bad when it reminds you of the you that you thought was long gone.

{Photo source: Nabsticle}

Monday, 25 July 2016

“No one is unhappy at Seed…” (+ Short Poem)

Seed by Lisa Heathfield evinces the struggle of human growth and the dangerous product of a restricted upbringing. The protagonist, Pearl, resides at Seed: a nature-worshipping community isolated from the poisonous Outside. With Papa S. as their leader, values and beliefs are contorted and become one-dimensional. Yet with new arrivals at Seed, the conformist society once based on fear, deceit and control is challenged, questioning everything Pearl has ever believed to be true.

Heathfield’s oxymoronic portrayal of Seed was particularly interesting to read. The idyllic description polarises the sinister reality, therefore blinding the community and preventing them from uncovering the truth in order to maintain passivity. I have always been intrigued by books about manipulation of the mind. There’s just something about them that I find so fascinating, hence why Seed has had a lasting impact, especially through the questions it has forced me to ask.

I think one of the most heart-breaking thing, for me anyway, was reading about Pearl’s naivety throughout the book. She has lived at Seed, she has idolised Papa S. and has worshipped Nature her entire life. This is all she has ever known. Imagine someone telling you that apples are in fact full of toxic chemicals and your heart doesn’t actually pump blood around your body. You’re simply going to dismiss it as complete nonsense aren’t you? So to me, disbelief being Pearl’s primary trait is understandable, as seeds have been planted in her head since an early age and have been watered with a dangerous ideology, and are now further suppressed from being able to fully bloom. And it is for this reason that I simply cannot dislike Pearl. Her character rendered a sense of poignancy within me and I found it unsettling to read, making me root for Pearl more than ever; I became desperate for her to find the freedom that she deserved.

It wasn’t long before I realised that this novel is perhaps a criticism of God and about putting our blind faith in an omnipresent being. As a strong believer of God, I didn’t like this, but I was still curious, still open to what message Heathfield was trying to give through her words. Papa S. can simply say that Mother Nature told him to do something, making it automatically justifiable, the same way a lot of actions are based on God’s wishes. Heathfield makes it seem as though this is a terrible thing and that following something that can’t be proven to even exist is wrong. Which it is, in the fictional world of Seed. But is it wrong in the real world, where religion can often offer so much guidance, peace and comfort?

The concept of a restricted world reminded me of Room by Emma Donoghue, a story told from the perspective of a five year old who has lived with his mother in one room his entire life. Just like Pearl, it is all that he knows and it’s shocking for someone like me to read, as I’m lucky enough to have received a good education and am able to make judgements based on more than one interpretation. But is that really true?

The dark nature of the cult in which Pearl belongs to feels all too familiar to the world we are currently living in, with corrupt leaders and suppressed ideologies. But do they perhaps give us a sense of belonging, safety, comfort? Or are we simply too naïve, or perhaps too scared, to believe anything else?

Which finally brings me to the question, are we living in our very own Seed?


I also wrote a short poem inspired by Seed…

Sunlight reflects against sequins
Dotted along her daffodil yellow dress,
Light flies like shooting stars of hope as
She spins in frivolous twirls with a spring in her step;
Laughter intersperses through the air
And her hair dances with the wind before she lands
In a giggling heap on the ground.
Fingers softly dig into the soil beneath,
Connecting her to her soul, breathing in and out in sync
With waving flowers of purple and pink  
Hidden between the grass holding secrets;
She whispers, “I’m free, I’m free…”
With a smile as bright as the light in her heart,
Blinding the monsters that creep in the woods from afar.


I really hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on Seed. Even if you haven’t read the book (which I highly recommend you do!) I would love to know what you think in response to the themes addressed in the novel.

Do you like book-related posts? If so, you can read my thoughts on The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger here.

{Photo source: here}

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Dirty Light

June concluded far too quickly. Before I knew it, along came July, bringing dancing droplets of summer rain with her. She left the city soaked with that rich earthy scent that’s impossible not to love, transforming my world into a still and silent slumber, with golden energy imbued in the air from the sun’s awakening.

I have always been appreciative of that morning light. The dirty kind. The kind that intensifies gradually and filters through the specks of peppered dirt on the window, the kind that still manages to bleed through the blemishes.

The light is the thrill and the control that comes with my driving lessons. It’s the guilt-free act of watching episode after episode of 24 and Happy Valley.

It’s calming, comforting, soft and honey-glazed.

The dirt is the ache, as I remember the corridors in Block 4 and the classrooms echoing with laughter. It’s the noticing of the books still collecting dust and the yearning for words when there are so few left within.

It’s lonely, haunting, cruel and blue-tinted.

It’s a bittersweet balance: disquieting but necessary. Too much light would force me to squint and too much dirt would distort my thoughts. And I’m well aware that it’s simply the end of strict routines and infinite to-do lists that renders my summer of (supposed) freedom to seem utterly hopeless…

Or perhaps I just need to take a little time and simply clean the damn window.

(06/07/16 – 21:18pm)

{Photo source: Nabsticle}