Learning a foreign language: tips from a wannabe polyglot (spoiler – I’ve still got some way to go)

I’ve always had an interest in languages, which I wouldn’t say is usual of my monolingual social and family background.  I grew up in a small South Devon seaside town.  All of my family are English (and 90% of them all live in the same county I was born in so they’re very close by – as in no more than 6 miles away close by), we never went on holidays abroad because we couldn’t afford them and none of us had passports so instead we owned the ‘staycation.’  So there was nothing to immediately pull me towards learning another language.  Although maybe that’s it?  I’ve never really been exposed to anything other than what is comfortable so perhaps this is my way of branching and exploring?

When I was seven years old I had my first taster lesson of French at school.  We learnt things like counting to ten and introducing ourselves and the usual things most primary school children know.  This is where it all started and I’ve been learning French ever since.  Unfortunately, mainly due to the appalling English school system when it comes to learning languages, I am not fluent yet – despite over 12 years of French.  However now I’m at university, and learning language under the standardised European Language Framework, I’m getting so much better and really enjoying learning again.

Over my 12 years of foreign language education I’ve picked up some things that have helped with my learning and are a great idea if you want to maintain and/or improve your language ability.  In the last 6 months I’ve been learning Italian too so I am now actively learning two languages in addition to my own.  Here’s what I’ve found has helped me.

Continue reading “Learning a foreign language: tips from a wannabe polyglot (spoiler – I’ve still got some way to go)”


2017 Reflections and Dealing With my Fear of Flying

So, 2017 has been a big year for me.  I went to a book launch.  I went on holiday on my own, more than once.  I took a gigantic step towards my dream job and broke into an almost impossible professional field.  I started learning Italian and took drastic action to improve my French.  I walked up the Eiffel Tower.  I went to Disneyland for the first time.  I had a coffee with one of my favourite authors.  I almost finished writing a book(!!).  I saw the Northern Lights.  I saw sea otters playing free in the ocean…so yeah.  Dreams came true.  Perhaps biggest of all for me was the fact that my three holidays this year all involved me getting on a plane and bigger than that, I had to do it alone some of the time.  For most people this isn’t a big deal but I have a severe fear of flying which I am working to improve.

Unfortunately the first time I ever got on a plane was 3 weeks before my 16th birthday.  That’s extremely late for most people’s standards.  I have never been able to go on holiday abroad with my family and in fact didn’t even have a passport until that trip.  I didn’t have the luxury of being too young to remember my first flight.  A couple of things added up to make my first flight somewhat of a disaster.  One of those things was that it was a school trip – and we all know how horrible kids can be once they know something gets to you.  Another thing was my ears.  They never seem to pop.  Ever.  The pressure just builds and builds and builds until the pain is beyond unbearable.  I’d also never experienced that kind of altitude before and my body didn’t react well to it.  On top of all this I ended up sat in a seat next to a complete stranger, away from my best friend and we then had one of the worst landings possible for the first time on a plane.  I spent most of the week crying and begging my teacher to buy me a train ticket from Naples back to the UK and ended up almost being carried onto the plane back because I was in such a state.  It took me three and a half years before I left the country again, let alone got on a plane.

In the several years after that flight, the trauma of the memory spiralled, making my recollection now probably much worse than what actually happened, and I got to the point where I couldn’t even hear a plane fly over head or, when it was really bad, even see a plane without getting very distressed and crying.  I went to a convention at a hotel right next to Heathrow airport and had to walk into the restaurant with my back to the window because it was overlooking the landing runway.  Pathetic, right?  Even talking about it now makes my heart race beyond anything that is normal.  But it has improved.  My goal has always been to get to New York but how can I possibly do that when it involved an EIGHT HOUR FLIGHT.  Nope.  No thank you.

But I couldn’t live my whole life without getting on a plane again.  So I bit the bullet and when I was invited to an event in Scotland back in March,  I booked the 45 minute flight to Edinburgh instead of taking the easy option and getting the train instead.  I had to get on a plane for the first time in years and I had to grow a backbone and do it alone.  I had to do it.  Enter my ridiculous superstitions and coping mechanisms!!

Just booking the flight was a big step.  I did it at the kitchen table in the early hours of the morning with the help of my flatmate (who had to deal with me shaking so much I could barely type in my name let alone my passport number).  I had to book it from Stansted which I really didn’t like as I’d only flown from Gatwick before, and although I didn’t like it I thought that would be safer because I knew I didn’t die the last time I used that airport (I realise this is ridiculous logic as if I stuck to it I’d never go to new places ever again but just roll with my screwed up terrified brain will you?).  I also had to book Easyjet because that company had kept my alive the first time.  I then had to book a “safe” seat.  This is entirely based on my idea of lucky/favourite numbers and letters which basically means even numbers and window seat letters.  4A is the seat on a plane that makes me feel happiest.  3C or 6C would cause a meltdown beyond anything you’ve ever experienced.   Completely irrational I know but a “safe” seat number makes me feel better.  Which brings me on to window seats.  I have to sit by a window so I can see outside.  My first flight was in an aisle seat and I couldn’t see out (because leaning forward to look made my head swim and the arsehole by the window put the blind down so they could sleep) which was the worst thing ever.  Sitting by the window means that no matter how alien the feeling in my head, I can see the real world and, crucially, the floor thousands of feet below is staying still and level which seems to help keep my head still.

Finding ways for me to feel comfortable with getting on a plane was the first step to dealing with my fear.  I just need to keep being able to get on a plane.  Now don’t get me wrong, I sobbed from the second I got to the bottom of the stairs on the runway at Stansted until I left Edinburgh airport and the same on the way back but thats not the point.  I did it.

In June I flew to Paris to go to Disneyland.  This time I didn’t cry until I sat in my seat on the plane and only cried for the first 40 minutes plus landing on the way there and lasted until the take off engines started and only cried until we reached cruising altitude plus landing on the way back.  I did have problems at the airports though because they had floor to ceiling windows at the terminals meaning I had to sit and watch planes taking off and landing for ages which was horrible (whereas Stansted is completely boxed in until you get on the plane – God bless Stansted!)  When I went to Norway this Christmas it got slightly better again.  It was two flights there and two flights back – out of the four takeoffs I only actually cried once and just welled up on the other three (I seem to be pretty much okay now until the engines pipe up) and only cried on three of the landings – one of which was horrific because the back of the plane slipped around on the snow/ice (and for anyone who’s interested all the airports had floor to ceiling windows and I was fine until I got on the planes this time).  Each time I fly the list of conditions to make me get on a plane seems to be reducing or at least relaxing ever so slightly.

None of this is very interesting really and no one wants a play by play of my anxiety when I fly but my point is this: people were right.  It does get better the more that you do it and for me I think that’s the only way I can progress.  People telling me that it will be fine and that flying is apparently statistically safer than driving a car (which I cannot accept no matter the facts or figures – it just doesn’t make sense to me) does not help.  But getting on planes does.  I’m really proud that, even though I still make an absolute twat of myself on occasion, I know I can now get on a plane.

So thank you 2017 for getting me on a plane. And here’s to 2018 – the year I finally book that flight to America, because look at where planes can get you:


#AmWriting – NaNoWriMo 2017

It’s happened. I’m writing. I’m not sure how far I’ll get with this as I still have a full time job and university to contend with but…



So here’s a few things about my NaNo 2017 project to give you an idea of what’s going on in my head.

  1. It’s a Young Adult novel
  2. It’s set in some version of our future where the world has fallen due to deceit, dishonesty and blatant lies from those in power. They caused irreparable destruction, civil war and the end of the world as we know it. The people now in control are obsessed with honesty (to a dangerous level) and the new society of the ‘New Common Era’ is built with this virtue as its core pillar of strength.
  3. It follows my protagonist, Verity, who has been brought up by a kind neighbour, Mrs Andrews, after her father’s death. Mrs Andrews is the only family she has.
  4. Verity is a driven young woman who is working towards her dream job within the government and is just starting an apprenticeship in order to gain enough experience and earn enough money to be able to pay for her training.

That’s it. That’s all the information you’re getting until I get this published 😉 😂


Let me know below how you’re doing with your own NaNoWriMo projects and any words of encouragement would be much appreciated. 50,000 words is more than a marathon right now… We’ve got to have each other’s backs through this.

Good luck all and happy writing!!

Juggling and the value of a part time job

Anyone who knows me well will know that I am an incredibly busy person. Maybe even dangerously so. My gran says I’m not afraid of hard work. Everyone else calls me a workaholic. I’m not sure what label I’d put on myself. I only know that my brain is simply not cut out for university, and only the work I do there, to be my sole purpose of getting up in the morning. I need something else to occupy part of my days. Education can’t be my everything. I’d go insane if it was.

Because of this drive (can I call it that…?) I have always had at least one part time job alongside my studies. At the age of fourteen I began my first weekend job and by the time I reached my Alevels when I was seventeen/eighteen I still had that job and had acquired a second part time job whilst working full time almost every evening at my local theatre. Every second I wasn’t in a class room was packed with work to gain experience and earn some money to plan for the future.

You’re probably thinking I’m insane, right? But honestly I feel like a much better and more rounded person for it. If you need, or want, to get a job alongside uni then this might help you decide what’s best for you. You don’t have to go as mad as I did, and thankfully now I just have the one (almost) full time job, but maybe you might benefit from mulling this over.

Here are my tips for mastering the art of juggling.

Continue reading “Juggling and the value of a part time job”

The things they don’t tell you about university

*Disclaimer: all opinions are my own. Any calculations made are rough figures and for more accurate information you should search for the official information on the relevant websites*

University is a period of any young adult’s life that they greatly look forward to. This opportunity for further education presents itself as a way to find yourself and further define the rest of your life it terms of career and lifestyle expectations. For many people it is the first time they have moved away from home and we relish the freedom this will give us. Often it’s just one massive three year party alongside lectures whilst you’re essentially living out the weird social experiment that is university halls. However, as much as all of this appeals to us, there are plenty of things that are left out when you’re in the process of university. I may only be in my second year but I know that these overlooked details can make or break your university experience. Before you make the biggest investment/decision of your life, maybe have a little look at the things you should be prepared for that not a single UCAS event will mention.

Continue reading “The things they don’t tell you about university”

NaNoWriMo 2017

Well hello. This is different from my usual posts. Some of you may have noticed that I’ve had an empty space at the side of my blog for some time now – ‘Friday Fiction.’ As someone who has had aspirations of having a novel published since I knew what that meant, I set up this feature ready to share some of my writing journey.

It’s pretty self explanatory really. Every Friday, or at least as many Fridays as I can manage, I will post something for you to muse over. This may well be a short ‘episode’ (short story is pushing it a bit, but some kind of fictional scene perhaps), or a poem. Maybe even a writing update or some tips from one amateur wannabe author to the rest of us out there.

So, to kick this all off…I’m toying with the idea of partaking in NaNoWriMo 2017! For those of you who don’t know what that is, NaNo is an annual event – National Novel Writing Month. It’s a scheme set up to encourage people like us to complete a novel of around 50,000 words in 30 days. It happens every November and thousands of people around the world fulfil their novel writing dreams by whacking out a first draft.

I’ve wanted to do this for what feels like a million years but never quite felt it was the right time yet. However this year is different. I’m in a better head space, I’m flirting with a plot and characters I really believe in and I’m excited at the prospect of what I could achieve. At the moment I am spending time outlining and researching and planning so that, all being well, I can crack on properly in November. I’m not ready to fully commit just yet though because I’m just about to start my second year at university and November tends to be coursework season so we’ll see what happens.

This is however my public declaration and the voicing of my private promise to myself that one day I will get a book on the shelves of Waterstones. Right now I’m going to focus on building good habits and getting into the practice of writing every day until November to at least give myself a fighting chance against procrastination, illness and the will to give up when the going gets tough – which has bred several half-baked attempts at novels in the past.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. That’s all I have to say this week. At the moment, NaNo I’m coming to get you!


Belle Notre Dame 🇫🇷

When I visited Paris this June, mainly for a long-awaited first ever visit to Disneyland, I spent a day in the city and smashed all my deepest feelings of Wanderlust. I mapped out a crazy day of all the attractions I wished to visit and I planned it all for less than 10 hours. It was marvellous.

I’m a huge Disney fan and of course The Hunchback of Notre Dame holds a special place in my heart. I think it does with anyone who feels even slightly different or on the outside of a crowd. Naturally this means that Notre Dame Cathedral has been high on my list of things I would love to see in Paris for some time now.

So I went. And I lit a candle. It was everything and more.

Continue reading “Belle Notre Dame 🇫🇷”

BBC Proms 2017 – Prom 65

This year I’ve decided to branch out my theatre habits.  Anyone who knows me well will have no trouble telling you just how much I like musical theatre and I am very good at clocking up some serious theatre hours in the West End.  However, I am less inclined go visit a play or other stagey event that differs from the jazz hands, tap breaks and power ballads that seem to bleed through my veins.  Since moving to London in the last year I am trying to make a conscious effort to change that and branch out my theatre interests. It is so important that all of the arts are supported equally and I cannot contain my love to just one corner of the stage.  So this weekend, I went to the PROMS!

Continue reading “BBC Proms 2017 – Prom 65”

Victoria Aveyard at Waterstones Piccadilly!

Good morning!  Happy Monday (or not…we all have a grudge against this day of the week).  Today I’m going to give you some book-spiration by telling you about the exciting YA event I attended in central London last week.  It’s given me a couple of extras for my TBR (when doesn’t this happen…?) and hopefully you’ll see something you like too.  I have read some of the books I’m about to mention here, and I will post reviews as soon as I can. For those I haven’t read, I will read and review those as quickly as I can. Until then…let’s get on with it!

Continue reading “Victoria Aveyard at Waterstones Piccadilly!”

Disneyland!! (For the first time!)

For as long as I can remember knowing the word ‘Disney’ I have wanted to visit Disneyland/world. The majority of my childhood was spent begging my parents to take me to Disney World Orlando to fulfil my dream of seeing that castle. The castle that bookended most of my dreams. Unfortunately that never happened. Until June this year.

It may have taken me almost 20 years but it finally happened. I still haven’t quite made it to America yet but I’ve found my way to a Disney site – Paris. In June 2017 I spent a magical week in Disneyland Paris and I’m going to share it with you. Although I would’ve loved to visit and experience the magic as a child, I still found it to be everything I’ve ever dreamed and more. For those of you who, like me, are waiting to visit Disney for the first ever time as an ‘adult’ (questionable term at best 😉) hopefully this will put you at ease.

Continue reading “Disneyland!! (For the first time!)”