Malta’s Haven Overtaken

In 2002 my family and I were in Malta and boarded a rickety, untrustworthy looking boat, captained by an old Maltese man with a flat cap and cigarette. He couldn’t speak a word of English. We sailed from between Malta’s mainland and Gozo, and docked at an area called the Blue Lagoon. It was exactly that. The only colours there were blue and white sand. At the age of 6, I remember seeing my dad snorkel in the clear water, and my mum telling me if I was as tall as her I would be able to walk from one island to the other, as the water was so shallow. The island was deserted, except for a handful of men at the small dock. Complete privacy and complete solitude. My brother, who was three at the time, and I paddled and made sand castles with the bucket and spade we had brought with us from the mainland. The rocks sticking out of the sea were like enormous sand castles. Looking back, perhaps they were made of sandstone. We lounged on the beach for hours. We returned to Malta three times, every other year, until 2006, and each time we visited our private haven, and it remained unchanged. 
Life got in the way after that. In 2009, my mum gave birth to my baby brother, Oscar, and money was too tight to go abroad. I never forgot Malta. I longed to return more than anything. In 2014, my family finally decided to do just that. I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait to show the new addition to the family our special place. 
Malta had not changed. The roads were the same, the weather and the colour of the ocean the same. What had changed was the level of tourism. We went back to the hotel we used to stay in each year to find it almost desolate. A place I made friends with, the place my brother and I learnt to swim, the kids club I used to go to, it had all changed. The hotel used to be full of families with young children. Now, it was more of cheap hotel for older people. It was dark. 
At least the Blue Lagoon would still be there, I promised myself. It was still there, of course, but it too had changed. My first suspicion arose when we boarded a shiny, white speed boat along with five other families. The boat was driven by a young man with a t-shirt that said ‘Blue Lagoon Tours’ on the front. On the ride to the Lagoon, he sped us along, trying to impress us with his spins and speed. It was great, but not like the nervous excitement provided by the old man and his cigarette. 
When we docked I was shocked. About five other boats were in the dock. Peddle boats in the sea. We were greeted by a man telling us it was ten euros to hire a sun bed for the day. As we climbed the hill before descending to the lagoon, I noticed a row of stalls selling rubber-rings, ice creams, buckets and spades; everything needed for a beach day. We’d brought our lunch with us as we were not expecting any chance to buy food. 
Down on the beach, it really hit me. There was no place to sit as the tiny beach was covered in sun beds, most of them with people on. Kids screamed, parents smoked. Where was my haven? The beauty was still there alright, but it was hidden by these new, touristic additions. I know we were tourists ourselves, but there was something in the fact that this was my special place – how dare they come here? 
The saving grace was the ocean. My two brothers and I played around and went snorkeling. It was our first family holiday with Oscar, so that was special. I also tried walking to the other island, and could do so without my head going under the water. It was strange to think that last time I was here I was the age of my baby brother. I wonder what his memories of it will be when he is my age. I hope he remembers the beauty, and not the tourists. 
Written for my Travel and Journalistic Writing module at uni 

How to help someone in an anxiety attack

I’ve tried to write these hundreds of times, but often when I am okay I can’t judge what I would want in the situation as well. I am currently coming out of an anxiety attack, so I’m channelling my feelings into this post. It’s a way to help myself and hopefully others with friends suffering with mental health.

  1. Tell them you love them. During anxiety attacks, I feel desperate and completely alone. I feel like everyone is against me and that I am worthless. The first step to helping someone in this situation is to make sure they hear that you love them, even if they don’t believe you. 
  2. Don’t tell them they’re being silly or over-thinking. This is the least helpful thing you can do. I know I am over-thinking, I do not need it clarifying. I need calm, kind reassurance that what I believe to be true is not. That I am not worthless and I am not alone. 
  3. Do not leave them until they are calm, and even if they say they are okay, stay by their side (physically or metaphorically) until you are certain. 
  4. Don’t make assumptions about what they need. 
  5. Give them a hug! I can’t describe the comfort of physical touch during an anxiety attack; feeling your body pressed together when it feels like it is falling apart.
  6. Don’t say ‘I’m sure you’ll be okay later’. I know it will pass, but right now I feel like the world is ending and my heart physically hurts. I need to think about right now, not later on. 
  7. Tell them you’re proud of them.
  8. Watch out for their tell tale signs that suggest they might be struggling. For me, when I am feeling anxious I grab a lock of hair and hold it on my lips. It’s something I’ve picked up over the last few months, and I find it weirdly comforting. 
  9. Encourage them to breathe slowly. Concentrating on your breathing helps relax you and slow down the racing thoughts of an anxiety attack. 
  10. Ask what you can do for them, but don’t make them feel like they have to make rash decisions. Right now I have no idea what would help me. Be calm and understanding. 
  11. Talk to them about happy memories. Reminiscing over the past makes me forget my anxiety for the future. 
  12. Get them a cup of tea! Tea fixes a lot of my problems, in the short-term, anyway. 
Feel free to comment things that you find useful, this is just a list of what helps me personally and I hope it will help others. 


       

A Lonely Planet Guide to Buckingham Mount

For my Travel and Journalistic Writing module at uni, we have been encouraged to write our own version of Jonathan Stern’s ‘Lonely Planet Guide to My Apartment’.

ORIENTATION
Buckingham Mount sits atop, unsurprisingly, the Mount, one of the steepest inclines in Leeds. The Mount’s vast incline can be daunting, if not terrifying, at first. First-time visitors are encouraged to seek medical advice before ascending the Mount, as first aid is not on hand for the breathless. After reaching the top you will be greeted at customs by a twenty-something in pajamas.
 
WHAT TO BRING
The inhabitants of Buckingham Mount are surprisingly generous, will welcome you with copious supplies of tea and biscuits. Customs will check with you how you like your tea, and it shall be provided for you. It is, however, advisable to bring a packet of biscuits as a gesture of your good intentions to the locals.

 WHEN TO GO

The best time to travel to Buckingham Mount is a weekend. Do not visit during the first two weeks of January or for first two weeks of May, as the locals are undergoing exams and will be distinctly unwelcoming.
LOCAL CUSTOMS
The population of Buckingham Mount enjoy anything that includes wine and garlic bread. It is a custom that once a week, an inhabitant will have what is called a Break Down, where the other inhabitants will comfort her with tea and biscuits. Do not be alarmed if this happens during your visit. In this situation, bring said inhabitant some ice cream, and fill in gaps of conversation with ‘I can’t believe that’ and ‘you poor thing’. Do not be afraid to hug the locals.




MALE TRAVELLERS

Due to a 100% female population, male travelers are encouraged to smile and be polite to the locals, so not to be banned from the country. Male travelers must always expect to have curious eyes follow them until the local women have worked out why you are there, and if they like your presence or not.

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? 






Creative what?

The earliest memory I have of thinking about careers is saying I would be a writer. At the age of six I wanted to be just like Jacqueline Wilson. My first book, ‘Daddy Goes to Space’, hand-written and illustrated by me; loose A4 printer paper stapled together; was ‘published’ (again by me) when I was six.

At eight, each time I slept at my nan’s house, I would wake her and my step-granddad up with a daily news report. I would wake up extra early and draw a map of England for a weather forecast. I would make up dramatic news stories, ‘the Prime Minister’s trousers fell down during a speech today’… 

Ten. I wrote family newspapers. Informing my own family about what was going on in their house. I’d interview my mum about what she thought of the new dog next door. Ask my little brother how he felt about getting grounded last week.

Twelve. Obsessed with Mizz Magazine, I would write my own. Beauty tips, agony aunts (the parts of the aunt and the person who wrote in both played by me), horoscopes…

Fast forward to sixteen. An anxious, shy girl at a huge new sixth form, I tentatively signed up for the student newspaper. People liked my articles and my linear drawings.

Eighteen. Still writing for the student newspaper, but hit with both anxiety and depression, I desperately tried to escape having to write for the paper. Who would want to read what I had to say anyway?

Nearly two years on I am desperately trying to get back to my twelve year old mindset. I want to feel like I can do anything I put my mind to. I write freelance, I write for my blog. But it’s no career. My whole life has been pointing towards a career in writing and journalism, but now it’s real and I need to make a career for when I leave university, I haven’t the first idea how.

Trying to apply for internships for my year in industry is almost soul-destroying. Who wants to hire a girl whose only talent is writing words on a page? You need more. I never played sport, I wasn’t good at maths, and certainly not science. Not good enough to pursue a career in it, anyway. The skill I have developed from the age of six isn’t enough.

So what do you do when your best is not good enough? I still haven’t found the answer, but if you have it, please let me 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

New Zealand, New Me?

New Zealand was undoubtedly the most implausible, ridiculously far-fetched experience of my life. How was I on the other side of the world? How was Shasta standing right in front of me, after I hadn’t seen her for three years? How was I getting a ski-lift up a 2797 metre mountain? I still have no idea.

The flight there was certainly a challenge, especially for someone who hates flying. Before this trip, I had never been on a plane for more than four hours. I flew from Gatwick to Dubai, Dubai to Bangkok, Bangkok to Sydney, and finally, Sydney to Christchurch. Phew. It took around 29 hours, plus the four-hour drive from where I live to Gatwick. The three-hour flight from Sydney to Christchurch was surreal. I had dreamt of The Meet ever since Shasta left; seeing her through a crowd in the airport, her unmistakable red hair. I used the three hours to mentally prepare myself, and by the time I landed in Christchurch, I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

The moment I saw her it was like the past three years never happened. I was sixteen again and happy. I had my best friend back. It was exactly as I had imagined, and our relationship had not changed a bit. Somehow, after moving to the other side of the world and starting a new life, Shasta had remained the exact same person I said goodbye to at St Margaret’s Bus Station three years ago.

First stop: Christchurch. The city was hit by a 7.1 earthquake in 2010, and six years later the evidence still envelopes the city. There is street art everywhere – apparently to take the attention away from the crumbling buildings and masses of building works. A Kiwi Brick Lane. An area of shops has been created out of shipping containers that have had one side ripped off to create glass fronts. Musicians play. Frankly the most unique idea and environment I have ever come across. 
I quickly discovered the Kiwi way of life revolves around exercise. The regular hikes we undertook made me question if I was in training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. We climbed to heights where the air became almost too thin for my asthmatic lungs to catch. Mums ran past us on steep hills with babies strapped to their fronts, and many OAP’s sped past me. It was a wakeup call, but it was liberating. At home I exercise at the gym to burn calories and build muscle. In NZ, I was exercising for the experience; the calorie burning and muscle building was a happy extra. 

In true American-self-discovery-movie style, we hired a car and drove three hours to Lake Tekapo. The drive in itself was awe-inspiring. We literally got on one road and drove the whole way without a single turn. Seeing the mountains in the distance for the first time was one of those movie moments when the little kid sees piles of glistening presents waiting for him on Christmas morning and rubs his tired eyes, thinking he must be dreaming. A crystal clear green screen, but this was real.
Yes, those are snow capped mountains, and yes, this was a regular sight.

The walks we took were utterly bewildering. We walked along hill-side cliffs, the billowing ocean to our left, rolling hills as far as the eye could see to our right. It made me feel insignificant in a beautiful way. We walked for hours without seeing a soul. It felt like we were the only people on the planet. Explorers discovering an untouched continent. There was something special about knowing that our footsteps would be washed away by the sea breeze and it would be like we were never there. 



As cheesy, corny and cliché as it sounds, New Zealand taught me that there is so much more to life than material things. Previously, I would roll my eyes at ‘Gap Yah’ students that travel the world to ‘discover themselves’ and find some inner meaning of life, and perhaps I still do. I didn’t discover myself, I discovered possibilities. I did something I never thought I could or would do and travelled to the other side of the world on my own. Though my anxiety hung over me along the way, I overcame it in order to have new experiences.

I planned to throw myself into exercise and adventure on my return, but the irony is that the extreme hiking and running has led to me injuring my knee, so I’m having to take things easier. The trip has shown me that I sometimes prefer long hikes to shopping days, new sports gear to new dresses. But as I sit here on the bus to London, my boyfriend asleep next to me, I am secretly looking forward to hitting Oxford Street!


Thanks for reading X 

A Plea to Bare with Me

My lack of blogging lately has been for a multiple of reasons:
  1.  I’m back at uni
  2. I’m extremely overwhelmed with the amount of work second year has thrown at me, and am also trying to write for Student World Online and The Gryphon
  3. My mood swings have been even more intense and rapid than ever before

As I’ve hinted in previous blogs, I am finding it incredibly hard being away from my boyfriend now that he lives in London, and it is even harder now I’m back in Leeds. I feel so far away from him and what makes it worse is I haven’t got my mum to look after me.
In my first ever discussion with a doctor about my mental health, we discussed my rapid mood swings, from extreme highs to extreme lows. The fact that these mood swings have crept back upon me is worrying because it suggests my citalopram isn’t working as it should be. My lows are becoming a sort of uncontrollable mania that looking back on feels like looking at someone else. Then, one thing can happen, like a phone call, and ‘click’, I am myself again. This is when I risk going into an extreme high, where everything is fantastic and I can do anything I put my mind to.
The result of thinking I can do anything I put my mind to is that in these stages I have taken on far more than I can actually handle. Hence being signed up to write for The Gryphon and Student World Online, as well as keeping up with my own blog, at the same time as completing a degree and searching for a placement year job for next year. All myself I have been the person who has gone the extra mile to impress academically, but at the moment I can’t focus; I can’t organize my tasks or even my money. It’s scary.
I also had a blood test yesterday (my first one, AHH!) to test for any dysfunctions with my thyroid, liver or kidneys, that could be contributing to my mood swings. For now, I am taking 30mg of citalopram instead of my usual 20mg (with the doctor’s permission of course). The word ‘bipolar’ has been mentioned which is very scary to me, and as well as a referral to a psychiatrist. My family have seen the signs of it for years and I am only now beginning to see it for myself. I’m home this weekend which is a great relief, and will be visiting Jamie in London next weekend.
So I guess what this post is trying to do is to beg you to bare with me while I sort myself out, because I love seeing how many people read my stuff and I love writing it too! I want to grow my blog but right now I’m a bit stuck, and we all go through that feeling.

X

Tips for Dealing with Long Distance Relationships at Uni (written by someone who is still learning)

We’re a bit cute

During my boyfriends fresher’s week, I was ‘thrilled’ (note intense sarcasm) to hear that he would be going on a themed night out where he would be handcuffed to two girls. The whole thing was so new to me and I had no idea how to cope with it. I was anxious because as a couple we had been thrown into a whole new situation where he was living in London and experiencing new things, and I was sat at home. The uncertainty of how the night would work, as well as not knowing the people he was with, caused a lot of worrying. Everyone deals with uncertainty differently, but it made me incredibly anxious.

I told him of my worries and what upset me even more was that he himself was beginning to worry that I didn’t trust him. This upset me because never, in the three years we have been together, has he given me a reason not to trust him. So why was I so worried? I think it was picturing him in such close contact with other girls, the possibility of them flirting with him, regardless of him reciprocating. My anxiety makes me think things that aren’t true, and I feel awful that I put my boyfriend through my topsy-turvy mood swings. Being with him is one of the only things that calms me down, so distance is a bitch.

So my first tip on dealing with long distance is this: COMMUNICATE! If you’re worried, bloody tell him/her! If not, you’ll spend countless evenings lying in bed wondering what he/she is doing and driving yourself crazy, when the reality is they’re probably thinking of you and wishing you were dancing along with them. Tip 2: texting is not an effective form of communication.We all know we say things via text that we wouldn’t out loud. You can come across in a moody way even if you’re not meaning to, and things can sound more harsh if you ‘accidentally’ full-stop him/her in the middle of an argument (despite you actually using proper grammar!). So make sure you both take some time to call or FaceTime, perhaps every other day. You’ll find you talk about things you wouldn’t bother to text about, like that coughing fit you had in a silent library earlier. Speaking over the phone is especially important during an argument because hearing each others voice allows you to access how each other are feeling.

Tip 3: Keep them in the loop

Jamie came to see me in Leeds at least once a month in first year

During your first few weeks at uni, you’ll be meeting all kinds of new people, and it is a time for you to put yourself out there as an individual for perhaps the first time. Do things for yourself and don’t be afraid to make new friendships, but don’t forget about your boyfriend/girlfriend at home. In phone calls you could tell them about the people you’ve met, the good and the bad. A good rule is to say goodnight before you go on a night out, that way your partner won’t be waiting for you to reply to a text you haven’t read because you’re having too much fun.
Similarly, if you’re the one staying at home, remember that your partner is experiencing a whole new life, and trust them to do so without leaving you behind.

Tip 4: Keep the romance!
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but postmen still exist! So why not write a cute note and post it to your boyfriend/girlfriend? Or, if that isn’t techy enough for you, send them a Moonpig card! Getting stuff in the mail is always a lovely surprise as it’s something that is becoming rarer nowadays.

Tip 5: TRUST
Has he/she ever given you a reason not to trust them? If not, why worry? Just roll with it and be happy they’re having a good time. A good way to build trust is to be open about new friendships, ask them if you can meet their new friends and try to get along with them. If you can trust the people your partner is living with, you’ll find coping with the distance much easier.

As I say, I am still learning. The person you really need to ask about dealing with long distance relationships is my boyfriend *queue soppy-needy-girlfriend mode* who has this whole thing down (but still misses me, I hope!).







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!

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