Our Balinese Accommodation

From hostels of varying budget, to villas, to hotels and even a public library, we certainly experienced a range of accommodation in our 18 days in Bali. 5 different accommodations costing varying amounts, a staircase of quality up to the luxury of our final stop at the Jimbaran Bay Beach Resort and Spa. I know a lot of people who have been to Bali in the last year, and many that want to go in the future, so I thought I’d start my Bali blogs with a run down of our accommodation!

Accommodation 1: M Boutique Hostel, Seminyak (3 nights)

  • Cost: c. £8 per person per night
  • Breakfast included: yes, toast
  • Location: 7/10
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Overall rating: 9/10

Seminyak is a popular place for tourists to begin their Bali adventures due to it’s close distance to the airport. I’m so thankful we started here, as it’s where we met our friends who we travelled with for the rest of the time!

Okay, so our first night may have been disrupted by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1, but M Boutique was all we could have asked for. We stayed in a 6 bed female dorm, in wooden pods which were quite frankly adorable. Each pod had its own plug socket (incl. USB!) and a fold down table. Huge lockable boxes for our luggage made me feel extremely secure, as it’s only the second hostel I’ve ever stayed in.

The hostel was small but very social. Each evening we’d sit around the outdoor table by the pool with Bintangs sold cheap by the hostel, and share experiences of the day with fellow travellers, before heading out to La Favela – an incredible four-story club a 15 minute walk away.

We chose not to take up the hostels offering of toast for breakfast and went in search of eggs and (of course) avocado on toast each morning. We didn’t have to look far as just across the road was Kynd Community and Toolbox. Both offered a similar menu but with a difference – Kynd was pink-walled and full of hipsters getting photo after photo of their smoothie bowls, but Toolbox was far more relaxed, except for the extremely repetitive music.

Overall, M Boutique gave us the perfect start to Bali – meeting wonderful friends and beginning to feel at home in a more touristy area before moving to more traditional areas such as Ubud. The location was decent – a 15 minute downhill walk from the beach, but it would have been nice to be nearer to the markets and central Seminyak.

Accommodation 2: The Farm Hostel, Canggu (3 nights)

  • Cost: £13 per person per night
  • Breakfast included: yes
  • Location: 7/10 (fair walk from centre)
  • Value for money: 7/10
  • Overall rating: 7/10

Being named the best hostel in Indonesia, we had high hopes for The Farm. Welcomed with fresh towels (they had been dirty in M Boutique), we got off to a great start. A dorm of 8 girls, but this time the other guests were far less approachable. Katherine actually had a stand off with a girl at the air con who, in her jumper and shorts, was complaining of the cold.

The main thing I’d say about The Farm is that it is FULL of insta-models and surfers. I’m not surprised, the place is a perfect instagram aesthetic, but it was almost as bad for self-esteem as the beach bars!

I’m complaining too much – I did love The Farm. Our dorm’s ensuite was OUTDOORS – private of course. It was beautiful to shower under a full moon with the sound of crickets and an Aussie in the distance playing guitar.

We did try breakfast at The Farm, which was a huge bowl of ‘fresh’ fruit which, after perhaps being left out for god knows how long, gave me Bali belly. That was enough of that, back onto the avocado on toast. And there were plenty of places for that! We couldn’t get a seat at Crate so went for the less hipster version, the Loft. Far more chilled and absolutely perfect food.

Accommodation 3: Pondok Pekak Library and guest house (4 nights)

  • Cost: £9 per person per night
  • Breakfast included: no
  • Location: 10/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall rating: 9/10

Yes, we stayed in Ubud’s public library. A hidden gem, the library offers a guest house which is a two minute walk from Ubud’s main market. Pondok Pekak allowed us to feel that we actually lived in Ubud, I felt so at home. Walking through the library each morning the staff greeted us warmly (not a rare thing in Bali!!) and we even got hugs when we left. The best part of the stay was having our own space after a week of hostels, and god we spread out!

A near private pool, westerners were a rare sight at the library. Walking through each morning we would see traditional Balinese dance being practiced, or individual movement classes. The library was also across the road from a football field, where children of school age were constantly playing on teams, watched by many crowds.

I would return to Pondok Pekak again and again. Though no breakfast was provided, there wasn’t a day we managed to eat breakfast as, in Ubud, the majority of activities involve early mornings, such as the 2am hike up Mount Batur. *PSA: Belvita breakfast biscuits in Bali are SO much better than in the UK!*

For those looking for a hostel in Ubud, I 100% recommend the one my friend stayed in, Puri Garden Hostel. 10/10 location, includes it’s own restaurant/cafe and has movie nights and morning Yoga!

Accommodation 4: D’Puncak Villas, Nusa Lembongan (4 nights)

  • Cost: c. £20 per person per night
  • Breakfast included: yes
  • Location: 5/10
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Overall rating: 8/10

Like all our friends, we were meant to be going to the Gilis for four days, and as it was Katherine’s birthday, we had splashed out on lovely villas. Heartbreakingly, the earthquakes destroyed our accommodation, and it was of course a no-go. It was bittersweet to see that Nusa Lembongan has done so well this summer as a result.

We booked D’Puncak last minute – a brand new complex. Here we finally found a decent included breakfast – you could choose from continental, American and Asian! Each villa was immaculate, square and identical, surrounding a pool.

The owner, couldn’t have done more for us if he’d tried. As soon as we arrived we were given his WhatsApp number (seemingly the only way people communicate in Nusa L) and given a tour around our rooms. Robes and slippers, this would be the perfect honeymoon destination!

I think the owner regretted giving me his WhatsApp number as I must have messaged him with questions 5 times a day. The complex offers transport to any part of the island for 100,000 rupees (£5), but it’s not like Bali where you can hire a driver for the whole day – mainly because there are no cars on the island! Eventually I relented and hired a scooter (sorry Dad), and I would only recommend going to Nusa L if you’re willing to ride a scooter.

Accommodation 5 and final: Jimbaran Bay Beach Resort and Spa, Jimbaran (2 nights)

Cost: Dream Room c. £29 per person per night

Breakfast included: yes (BUFFET!)

Location: 8/10

Value for money: 10/10 (a free upgrade helps!)

Overall rating: 9/10

Our last stop was a little luxury before the long-haul flight home. Hands down the nicest place I’ve ever stayed, but we could have been anywhere in the world. I would not recommend coming here expecting a true Bali experience. But for what we wanted – a rest and a little treat – it was perfect.

Originally we’d payed extra for the ‘Dream Room’ which featured a bath on the balcony (neither of us like baths, but if you can get one on the balcony, why wouldn’t you?), but on arrival we were upgraded to The Suite, with a sea view! The first sea view of our trip, the hotel is literally across the road from an idyllic beach.

Another perfect honeymoon destination, Katherine and I convinced ourselves that what we were doing was research for if we got married one day. Utterly pointlessly for us, the bathroom wall was a floor to ceiling glass window into the bedroom. Romantic, I’m sure, but for us, we were thankful to find a blind!

The buffet breakfast was a thing of dreams, though sadly lacking avocado. The hotels rooftop is a place to sunbath by day and drink cocktails by night. As the lift opened I audibly ‘WOW’d. 360° views across the bay, but also across building developments which have sadly run out of money and been left in pieces.

As I lie here now, on a double sun bed, on the rooftop of Jimbaran Bay Beach Hotel & Spa, I realise it’s the perfect place to end the holiday of a lifetime. A winding down to help us appreciate the more authentic, traditional places we have stayed. A wind down I need, being off to Poland just two days after landing in England tomorrow.

It’s obvious we haven’t done the whole travel on a budget very well, but the holiday has been everything we intended it to be. A treat after a year saving up in the working world. We experienced a range of accommodation and I can happily say I would return to all of them!

Stay tuned for the next Bali blog, coming as soon as I have a chance between flying, unpacking and repacking for Poland!

5 things I love about Leeds

T minus 6 weeks until I return to Leeds after a year away on placement, and I couldn’t be more excited. Having lived at home for the majority of the last year, I can’t wait for the freedom of Leeds – is it weird that I’m excited for my weekly trips to Aldi? It was hard to narrow down my favourite things about Leeds into one post, but here it goes!

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  1. Give It A Go activities

Throwing yourself into new experiences is more than encouraged at Leeds. The union offers Give It A Go activities which are usually free and always great fun, whether you find a new hobby for life or not! My friends and I have tried yoga, spin, and trampolining. One of my friends actually went on to compete for the University Trampolining team across the country after never having done it before! This year I’ll definitely be trying the meditation classes the union are offering.

  1. Cake

Through exam procrastination, my friends and I have become experts at where the best and worst cake is located in Leeds. You’re in for a treat if you’re a new first year – the cake at Balcony Café in the Union is yet to be beaten. Other top bakers include the Leeds Corn Exchange and Opposite Café (literally opposite the uni!).

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  1. Up north

I’m from Leicester, which some of you might say is north, but to me, moving to Leeds was moving up north – the furthest north I’d ever been! The location of Leeds gives you fantastic opportunities to explore northern England, which is made even easier by the opportunities the LUU provide to visit places such as Scarborough, Durham and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s definitely worth checking out the up coming events to see where Leeds can take you.

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Leeds is only a 20 minute train journey from York, where you can find Christmas markets, beautiful architecture and of course, more cake!

  1. The ridiculous amount of bars and restaurants 

The city centre of Leeds is relatively small compared to other cities like Manchester and Birmingham, but the amount of bars and restaurants crammed in is endless. Whether you want cheap and cheerful, cheap and classy, or fancy blowing out your whole student loan, there’s something for you. Crammed in alleyways and even on rooftops, you never need to go to the same place twice.

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Leeds: where classy cocktails in The Alchemist turn into double vodka cokes in Players followed by a Big Mac.

  1. Transport

Though you can walk from the train station at the bottom of Leeds to Hyde Park at the top in about 40 minutes, it’s up a HUGE hill, with the uni in the middle, and let’s face it, it’s Leeds and rains a lot. Thankfully, you can get from Hyde Park to the city centre for just £1 on the bus (with a student card). Even an uber from the train station to the Hyde Park area is only about £5, which is a god-send when you’re lugging a suitcase.

Oh Leeds I’ve missed you, bring on September!img_7337.jpg

42 for a year: why doing a placement was the best decision I’ve ever made

6:30am on Saturday morning. Head in agony, I have no idea why I feel so sick. Then I remember, a feeling I haven’t felt so intensely in an embarrassingly (for my age) long time. Hung over. I’m 21 and go to the University of Leeds, so how on earth was this feeling so alien to me? Why was my first thought when I remembered the night before: ‘I’m too old for this’?

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a middle aged woman inside, but this year I feel I truly embodied a 42-year-old. Doing a placement year was the best thing I’ve ever done, but it’s probably aged me by about 20 years.

I’ve treated this year as a sort of taster of adult life – I mean real, married with kids, adult life. I’m lucky my hours are flexible but most days I leave the house at 6:15am and get home at 6pm. My boyfriend and I live quite far apart, which means my little Citroen C1, Charlie, has been a bit of a home-from-home for me throughout the year. I’ve driven almost 30,000 miles in the year, and have the M1 – M69 – M6 route down to muscle memory. It’s been hard living out of a suitcase pretty much all of the time, and I can’t wait to have a proper base back at uni.

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30,000 miles, a new exhaust, new break pipes, new hubcaps and a new washer later. Charlie, you’ve been expensive, but thanks for all the miles x

The biggest difference between uni and full time work, which I now take completely for granted, is coming home from work and not having to do essays, course reading etc. The minute you leave the building that’s it for another day and your time is yours to do what you want with. It’s going to be bloody hard to go back to a degree which requires reading about 302048 million books a month.

Placement tutor: “List some things you’ve got out of your placement.”

Me: “Confidence, responsibility, a boyfriend…”

I have made a conscious effort to do things with my new-found free time to make the most of it before going back to uni, so it’s been a very busy year. First it was my half marathon, then I tried a jewellery class, which quickly ended when I got myself a boyfriend!* I’ve been so lucky to meet someone on my placement, and we’ve experienced so much together this year that university would previously have prevented us from.

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Legend

But what is a blessing is also a curse. Working full days means you have to find time to do other adult things, like go to the bank, the hairdressers, even reply to texts! Anyone that knows me also knows that if I don’t reply to your text in three minutes, I won’t reply for three hours, three days, three months. I’ve got even worse at this this year because I physically don’t have the time or the will to stare at my phone after a day staring at the computer. My first message to people is often “crap sorry forgot to reply”, and there’s a lot of “you’re back from your year abroad already? I thought you still had another six months left…”. I now totally understand how adults can go months or even years without catching up with close friends. I don’t think you can judge people on that, everyone has their own commitments and if yours don’t match up with someone else’s, you might miss each other for a while. Life is a balancing act.

One of the most successful things about this year has been the improvement in my mental health. Anxiety has made uni tough for me, but this year I simply have not had time to crash. Obviously, there have been a few (to say the least) lows, but I can say I’ve never felt so strong. Another adult step I took was buying a proper pill case (how thrilling does life get??) and wow it’s the best investment I’ve ever made. At uni I can miss a lecture if I don’t feel like going, but you can’t be like that in full time work. I’ve learnt to take responsibility for taking my medication, and stop pretending it’s ok to forget it.

I’m definitely ready to get back to being a student but I’m nervous because full time work has become normality for me. Also how on earth did I ever life without a proper salary each month?! I chose not to strictly save this year, and though I’m glad because it’s given me so many experiences, along with way too many new clothes, I’m now dreading the prospect of a student budget.

With two weeks left of my placement, I’m feeling so many emotions. Sad, excited, nervous. I’ve learnt so much in the last year and have gone from having no idea what I want to do, to knowing I want to go into PR and communications. I can not wait to get back to student life, and weirdly, some more of these hangovers!

Can’t wait to see you, Leeds.

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Top tips to securing a placement (from someone who applied for 50…):

  1. Don’t restrict yourself to one industry. If you’re looking for something in PR and are interested in fashion, don’t only apply for fashion brands. It’s likely you’ll get extremely similar experience in another industry that can be applied to fashion!
  2. Always get interview feedback. If you’ve had an unsuccessful interview, ask them where they felt it went wrong and how you can improve. This will help you do better next time!
  3. Don’t restrict yourself to one location. When I started applying, I was only looking at jobs in London. This restricted my choices so much, and it’s often the London brands that don’t pay – extremely logical for the most expensive city. You’ll probably find something just as good looking else where, and London will always be there.

 

 

White Chrysanthemum – please read this book.

I have recently read ‘White Chrysanthemum’ by Mary Lynn Bracht, and this is why it should be the next book you read. 

I’m bad for sticking to the same set of authors when reading outside of my English Lit degree. Elif Shafak and Khaled Hosseini have my heart when it comes to choosing a new book. But what the likes of ‘Three Daughters of Eve’ by Shafak and ‘A Thousand Spendid Suns’ by Hosseini taught me was that I cannot fall for a book set solely in the twenty-first century UK. I just can’t get sucked into a book that is set in the surroundings I already live in and know about.

‘White Chrysanthemum’ by Mary Lynn Bracht appealed to me because not only was it not set in England, it wasn’t set in the Middle East, which is where my reading generally centres. ‘White Chrysanthemum’ is set begins on the Jeju island off the southernmost tip of Korea, in the year 1943. The Second World War is well underway and Korea is under control of by the Japanese.

The book got another tip from me by being set in two completely different times – 1943, as I said, and 2013. I felt Bracht used this technique which is very common nowadays to successfully show the cause and effect of the Japanese occupation of Korea. As a history student, I’ve studied various aspects of the Second World War, but never from the perspective of the other side of the world. Previously, the Japanese role in the war seemed distant and uninteresting to me, but god, how Bracht’s novel has changed that.

This novel is beautiful.

We are introduced to the Jeju island and haenyeo women – free divers. These women are the bread-winners of their families, diving for long periods of time without any breathing apparatuses – a culture that has been alive for hundreds of years. A strong female community, the novel starts with a feeling of female empowerment. This makes the path the novel goes down all the more shocking. The novel is ugly, too.

The two main characters are sisters, Hana and Emi. Devastatingly, we see precious little of them together. It is only after Hana’s abduction that we see how close they were and how special their relationship was. Though we only witness Hana as a sixteen-year-old, we watch Emi grow from the age of 9, never knowing what happened to her sister. Hana’s abduction and the devastation of Emi’s life of turmoil – the cause and effect. Emi suffers a fate worse than death; watching everyone she loves disappear as a result of war.

‘White Chrysanthemum’ is horrifying, repulsive and addictive.

Bracht uses sixteen-year-old Hana as a tool for educating and sickening the reader as we are taken on her journey through abduction and rape. Hana, like two hundred thousand women during the war, was forced into sex slavery. She was a ‘comfort woman’ – a woman to rape as ‘good luck’ before Japanese soldiers went off to fight. Morning till night, men queue up at Hana’s door, as well as the other girls in the brothel-like captivity. She is raped constantly, all day, every day, for the duration of her captivity.

Bracht doesn’t let us miss a single second of the agony or a detail of the shame inflicted on Hana. We witness her being broken in a way she will never be fixed. We can’t look away when the doctor comes every other week, to check her for disease and effectively disinfect her vagina from the remnants of hundreds of rapists. We are forced to watch Hana and the other girls wash used condoms in a barrel of water, unable to cry out about how wrong that is. Even reading it hurts. I couldn’t put this book down.

The difference between Hana’s life and that of the majority of ‘comfort women’ is that she survived. Bracht almost blushes at this in her author’s note, where it is clear she felt a human connection to Hana. After the horror of Hana’s life, I wanted to thank Bracht for indulging in a happy ending with her survival. I promise I haven’t ruined the novel for telling you that Hana survives.

It is only at the end of the novel that you truly realise that Hana was just a symbol.

A symbol for two hundred thousand women and girls that suffered the same fate. I have no idea why we do not study this at university. It should be on syllabuses everywhere. We should pay our respect for those destroyed lives, both the dead and the survivors. We have learnt so much from the Second World War about conflict, and the point of learning about wars is to prevent them happening again. Learning from our mistakes. How are we supposed to learn from those mistakes if no one knows it happened?

Thank you, Mary Lynn Bracht, for this novel. Please read this book.Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 15.05.08

Twenty Sixteen Reflections

3rd January at 11:06pm, surely that’s not toooo late to reflect on 2016? I celebrated this New Years in the oddest way yet; at 12 midnight my boyfriend and I were stranded in the middle of Wimbledon Common with a bunch of people who may or may not have been in full control, hence the stranded part. On the upside, we witnessed fireworks across London, but these were through trees, whilst fearing for my life. A crazy end to an even stranger year.

So here we go.


1. Understanding mental health still has a long way to go. 
Recently I told some guy that I blog about mental health and he genuinely asked me, ‘what, so do you pretend to be mental?’ He didn’t seem to understand what I meant when I told him ‘I write from experience’. I’m sure if I’d have told him I write about something like asthma ‘from experience’ he’d have understood. I could have shown him my inhaler to help my physical ailment. I couldn’t show this guy my counsellor or my notebook.

2. Being a good person pays off. 
This actually happened on 2nd Jan 2017 BUT I say it still counts. I was in the queue in Cafe Nero with my boyfriend waiting for the small hot chocolate I’d ordered as I couldn’t afford a medium. The lady in front had ordered two drinks but could only carry one to the table. So, selfless human being as I am, I took the other drink over for her. The barista saw what I did and gave me a medium hot chocolate for the price of a small! Who knows what more good deeds could bring?!


3. University is not the be all and end all. 
Problems with my mental health this academic year have meant I’ve had to focus much more on myself and my wellbeing than my studies. Counselling, doctors appointments and breakdowns don’t exactly go hand in hand with a degree, so I’ve had to learn to prioritise mindfulness over revision. Ideally I’d like to do more uni work, and it’s something I hope to do this year, but I won’t look back and think I’ve not done the best I could. This year had brought more problems than worrying about a deadline.

4. If you want something, get it.

Cliche I know, but for someone with mental health it’s easier said than done. I’ve wanted lunch but not gone to get it because I couldn’t bring myself to leave my room. But going to New Zealand was a game changer. I wanted to see my best friend, so I went! It’s still my biggest achievement.

5. You’re going to get rejected. Get used to it.
Here’s where I am a hypocrite; I am not used to it. Each rejection from placement applications stings more than the previous, but it’s something I have to get used to. I have to write each cover letter like it’s my first application and I’m hopeful of success.

My New Years Resolutions:

  1. Practice mindfulness
  2. Draw more
  3. BLOG MORE!!! 
  4. Get a placement (in PR) for next year 
  5. Be my own person.
  6. Be a nicer, more helpful person… and not just because it might result in free/cheap hot chocolates! 
  7.  … Learn how to get rid of the frames around pictures on this blog, anyone know? 






Ode to the Banana: A Student’s Recipe Book

Recently my housemate Liv and I have been experimenting with bananas in recipes and I wanted to share some of our ideas! As a student, it can be hard to get your five a day, and sometimes it seems easier to buy a packet of breakfast biscuits than make something healthy. After going home for the weekend and coming back to find a bunch of over-ripe bananas, I needed a quick solution, so here’s some of the things I found: 
1. The obvious: Banana cookies
Banana, peanut butter and chocolate chip to be precise. These are seriously tasty! Don’t worry if they’re a little on the soft on the inside when you take them out of the oven – they will firm up and will be lovely and chewy! 

Ingredients:

  • 125g mashed banana – basically 2 bananas I’d say! 
  • 130g peanut butter – try and buy the unsalted version to cut down on the calories! 
  • 70g dark brown soft sugar – sadly a little pricey, sorry…. 
  • 100g caster sugar – if you can’t afford dark brown soft sugar, you could just use 170g of caster, it won’t make too much difference! 
  • 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract – not hugely necessary?
  • 165g plain flour 
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 40g chocolate chips – 40g is a rough guideline, you may want to add more/less depending on what a chocoholic you are! 
Cook for 15 mins on gas mark 5/190C! ENJOY! 

2. Banana pancakes
I don’t just mean pancakes with banana on top, oh no! These are seriously healthy, energising pancakes you don’t need to feel guilty for!! They’re a great way to make a healthy breakfast feel naughty, and go great with blueberries and honey! This recipe makes 4 medium size pancakes. 
Ingredients: 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana
  • Yes, that’s it! 
Method: 
  1. Mash the banana. You can’t be lazy with this, you’ve got to keep mashing until its very runny! The more you mash the more like normal pancakes they taste.
  2. Add two eggs and whisk 
  3. You could add cocoa powder and/or honey and whisk at this stage for an extra sweet taste!
  4.  Pour the mixture into a frying pan with hot butter as you would with a normal pancake.
  5. Add your favourite toppings and enjoy! 
Photo credit: Liv Ingram (she makes them better than me!)

3. Nice-Cream (credit to Liv Ingram yet again!)

What’s nice-cream, I hear you ask? Trust in the banana and you’ll find out. 
Ingredients: 
  • Bananas (yes, again, didn’t you read the title?) 
  • Cocoa powder
Method:
  1. Mash the banana (well!!!) 
  2. Add cocoa powder and whisk 
  3. I know it looks unappetising, but bung it in the freezer overnight and trust me!
  4. Serve with fruit, chocolate sauce, cake, anything! (Maybe not cake, this is supposed to be a healthy recipe!! 
I hope you’ve enjoyed the recipes and give them a go. Follow these recipes to say goodbye to sadly binning over-ripe bananas.
Got any more ideas? Comment below, I’d love to give them a try! X

Churchill’s War Rooms: A History Student’s Perspective

This week I managed to get my boyfriend to agree to accompany me to Churchill’s War Rooms (created by the Imperial War Museum), in London. As a history student, I was so excited to get access to the actual rooms where the most important British decisions of the Second World War were made. The War Rooms have been made into a museum but is still actually where they were at the time, and much of it is untouched except for the addition of glass windows so sticky-handed tourists cannot touch. It’s located in the heart of British politics, next door to the Treasury and a stones throw from Westminster itself. The importance of the exhibit can therefore be felt before entry.

Queue hypocrisy: as important as the War museum is, I refused to pay the optional donation. This was for two reasons: 1) I am a poor student and did not want to go against my stance in my previous blog ‘A Student’s Guide to Experiencing London on the Cheap‘. 2) The price lists were rather misleading. In large print behind the cashier desk stated a students ticket cost £15.20, however in smaller print at the bottom, it said this price included an optional 10% donation. This sort of miscommunication is something I dislike; I would rather them have a donation jar at the end of the tour where I can contribute whatever I like without feeling pressured. Student rant over.

What I was pleased to find were the free audio sets we could take round with us. Yes, it meant we had to walk around the whole tour holding the headset to our ear like a telephone, but we gained so much extra information we wouldn’t have heard without it. Usually in places like this, these sort of things cost, so well done IWM, good job.

Here I must apologise for the awful photos I took on my iPhone 5s; the lighting in there was awful and most photos are taken through a glass screen!

As I said, the entire museum was virtually untouched from when it was left for the last time in 1945. Cleverly, clocks had been set to five minutes to five, as if waiting for the last meeting of the War Cabinet to take place on 28th March 1945. Papers on the tables are browning and curling, and fans on the walls rust. It was truly an abandoned treasure.

In this photo you can see Churchill’s wooden chair, far superior to the chairs of the rest of the war cabinet


 

The audio tour also provided witty information of the sort that one day I hope I need in a pub quiz. For example, a door marked as a toilet was actually the room which held Churchill’s private phone which connected him directly to Franklin Roosevelt. Seeing the room where Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the USA developed was somewhat of a history student’s dream.

Another fun fact was found at the weather forecast sign. As workers would often not venture outside for the entirety of their 12 hour shifts, this wooden box (shown below) would be changed depending on the weather. During a bombing, the forecast was changed to say ‘Windy’, which was a joke between workers.

Churchill’s domineering persona could be seen throughout the exhibition. Everywhere you looked there was a ‘Quiet Please’ sign, or signs banning any unnecessary noise. We also got to see Churchill’s alternative to hole punchers, which he banned for being too noisy. Staples and paperclips were not allowed. 

The most significant part of the War Rooms for me was the humanity on show. Every worker had a bed, because they often could not go home. Churchill and his wife had what they called a ‘Number 10 Annex’, where they could escape the underground rooms, but most other employees slept where they worked. On one man’s desk were three sugar cubes, which apparently had been found during Archiving in his desk drawer inside an envelope his wife sent him to work with everyday. Sugar was, of course, rationed, so they would have been very precious, but obviously not precious enough for him to remember to take them with him on his last exit from the building! 
Another fantastic part of the Churchill Museum was that I saw a colour photograph of Churchill for the first time! 

 Propaganda played a huge role in recruiting people for the war, and the collection at the War Rooms was fantastic! Churchill’s quotes have guided generations in paying their respects to those who fought in both world wars.

Key question: was the museum interesting for all? Of course it was for me, a history student and general WWII-nerd. It was very child-friendly, as Jamie and I have demonstrated below – a whole dressing up area! Yes, you too can look like Churchill. There was plenty of interactive parts too, as well as videos to watch.

V for Victory

Clemmy and Churchill?

Overall, Jamie and I both loved the War Rooms. It’s rare that we can decide on something we both enjoy, but this entertained us both! Keeping the memory of WWII (and WWI of course) alive is hugely important and Churchill’s War Rooms is a way we can take pride in the British stance against dictatorship. Keep Calm and Carry On!

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Got any thoughts on the War Rooms? Please comment (but please do not hate on me for not donating I AM POOR!)

My Top 10 University Essentials

1. A good notebook 
By this I don’t mean one of those 99p refill pads from Wilkos. I mean a pretty Paperchase notebook to write important things. I think everyone needs one of them… or five!

2. A mug
And tea bags, of course. Tea is an incredibly powerful bonding tool at university. I actually know people that brought tea and coffee with them to university, even though they didn’t drink it, just as a way to make friends! Geniuses.

My favourite mug is this one from Paperchase – their new Gothic Garden range. At £8 it’s a little pricey, but can you put a price on a pretty cup of tea? Especially when you can have a matching notepad!



3. A printer 
I went through first year without a printer, simply because there were plenty at uni and I needed to save money. This year, however, I am living further away from uni so I decided to treat myself.

Today I purchased my HP Envy printer from Currys PC World for £44.99, plus three years guarantee for £12.00! What’s put me off buying a printer before is the price of ink, which everyone knows is completely unaffordable for a student. Not anymore! For just £1.99 a month I can print 50 pages of colour with HP. The printer tells HP when you need a replacement cartridge and you get it delivered to you well before you run out, amazing! An added extra, 5 months free ink from Currys!

4. A blanket 
Everyone needs a cozy blanket for the duvet days we’re bound to have. For the homesick days and the hungover days.


5. Garlic bread 
Perfect again for duvet days! Me and the girls always make sure we have a stash of it in the freezer and we put it in while we’re cooking as a communal starter, or have it with wine and a movie.

6. My laptop 
Obviously! Apple offer 14% student discount when you show them your university card/acceptance letter, making Macbooks so much more affordable!

7. A dressing gown 
A partner for the duvet days! Also essential for going out into the kitchen during those first few weeks when you don’t want to reveal your rabbit-patterned pyjamas to your new flatmates…

Selections of fluffy dressing gowns are a little scarce right now as it’s summer, but mine is a little like this one from M&S, because who doesn’t want to look and feel like a fluffy teddy bear in their dressing gown?

8. A food planner
You can buy these very cheaply from Wilkos, or if you’re feeling like a big spender you can get lovely ones in Paperchase. I swear by a good food planner as a way to save money. *Queue me revealing my sad life* Every Sunday I plan my meals for the following week, then I write a shopping list of the things I’ll need, and go to Morrisons in the morning. That way, I only buy the things I need, plus a few treats of course!

9. Photos
It’s so important to make your uni room feel like home, so photos are essential! I literally covered my pin board and some of my walls with photos of family and friends, and as the year went on, pictures of uni friends.


10. A communal biscuit tin
My flat and I came up with an idea to have a communal biscuit tin in the kitchen as a way to make sure there was always something nice to eat in the flat. Each week it’s a different person’s turn to buy them, and it’s a great way to have a catch up after a week of uni.

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Any vital items you feel I’ve missed? Comment your thoughts on the items you simply cannot live without at uni! X

My Short-Lived Bootea Experience

Day One

I love breakfast. Each day I take great pleasure in topping my porridge with handfuls of granola, a banana, grapes, and whatever other berries I can find. I’ve heard shop bought granola is full of sugar and isn’t that great for you but, come on, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and I WILL have my granola. 
The closest the Bootea ‘recommended’ eating plan gets to my breakfast is 3tbsp of unsweetened muesli with semi skimmed milk and an apple, so I have already decided not to follow the rules regarding breakfast. I usually enjoy a cup of tea with breakfast, but for the next 2 weeks that is being swapped for Bootea. 
After finishing breakfast and my tea, I am feeling tired, and not yet experiencing the energising results of Bootea. Perhaps this is due to the lack of caffeine. I’m going to the gym in an hour or so, and after that I will try and stick to the Bootea lunch menu!
Watch this space!

Day Two: Disaster

21:35
I was at my boyfriend’s last night so didn’t drink the evening Bootea tea, mainly because I’d read about the laxative effects it can have. Whether or not this was due to the 1 cup I drank yesterday morning, I had a sleepless night of feeling sick. Determined to continue the teatox, I drank the morning tea when I got home this morning. Since then I have been feeling exhausted (obviously due to the sleepless night) and very sick. As a foodie, this has not stopped me eating 3 meals today, but my appetite was definitely smaller! Success! But was it? 
I began to feel nervous about drinking the night-time tea, so looked up some side-effects online – of course I did this before buying the drink, but I stopped after reading the word ‘laxative’ – it seemed something I could deal with. HOWEVER, I soon found reviews from many women saying they had BECOME PREGNANT WHILST DRINKING BOOTEA. 

WHAT?

This is because the laxative effect in the night-time drink effects the contraceptive pill – a pill which I take religiously at 08:00 each day. Thankfully, I had only drank two cups of the morning tea and none of the evening, so I doubt my pill was disrupted. But what about the hundreds of other teenage girls who want to lose weight, and who instead gain the heavy load of a baby?! 
I have decided that for now, this is the end of my Bootea experience. I am pretty gutted, it cost me £20! I may take a break from the pill in late August and use the remaining tea then, but for now, no thanks! 

On a brighter note…. 

Just an hour before I found the horrendous side effects of possible pregnancy, I was starting to notice a flatter stomach which made me feel overall more positive about myself. Yes, this could be an early sign of the Bootea at work, but I have been exercising a lot more lately, so perhaps it is that instead? Bootea recommends no meat for the two weeks of the teatox, and I do intend to see this out, at least! 
Thanks Bootea, but no thanks. I think I’ll stick to a good ol’ sweaty gym session!