All Roads Lead to Rome – Day 1.

Several years ago Italy stole my heart for the first time when I visited the beautiful city of Florence in the Easter holidays with my family, and since then I have always dreamed of visiting more of the beautiful country. Top of my somewhat extensive list was Rome, the stunning capital of this wonderful country. I dreamed about getting to see all of the ancient Roman ruins, the statues and art, and the Vatican of course. Every year my university runs a history trip which is open to everyone studying arts, this year the trip was planned for Rome and I just could not miss the opportunity!

We arrived in Rome on the Friday evening so just got settled in to our hotel rooms and had a little wander around the surrounding area, but the following morning we were up bright and early, ready to explore the wonders of the city.

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We all hopped on the metro to the St Peter’s Square and round to the Vatican Museum. It is an enormous, labyrinthine place filled to the roof with astounding art which crosses the centuries. In a way though, whilst the art is amazing, the building itself was even more impressive. The ceilings alone are a true work of art…

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If you ever get the opportunity to visit it, the Vatican Museum is definitely worth a visit, if only for the marvel that is the Sistine Chapel. You don’t get long to take it in as the museum guards keep you moving as you cross the place due to the sheer number of people in there but it is simply stunning to look at. Having seen endless recreations and prints of sections of the painting it is incredible to get to see the original Michelangelo ceiling which was painted between 1508 and 1512.

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We were at the Vatican till well after midday so we got back on the metro towards the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain where we had a few hours of free time after lunch to wander around and soak up the vibrant atmosphere. Strangely out of character for me I didn’t get round to snapping any photos of my food because I was too excited to get tucked in! But I ate a delicious pizza marinara at lunch and then had a delicious spicy tomato spaghetti for dinner, followed of course by gelato. I’m not going to pretend otherwise, the gelato does rank pretty highly in the list of my favourite things about Italy… I had nocciola (hazelnut) and café and both were just mouth-wateringly tasty.

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The Trevi Fountain was one of my favourite sites in Rome, it is absolutely beautiful and there is something slightly magical about getting to see it all lit up at night and throwing a coin into the water. Florence may have my heart but Rome is definitely fighting for it!

Stay tuned for my next post with Rome day 2…

Sophie x

Seeing Red?

My hair is my pride and joy. It is one of my favourite parts of my appearance. Curly hair can be an absolute nightmare, it knots ridiculously easy, it dries slowly, it hates the wind, it never quite curls in the same way… But I wouldn’t swap it out for straight hair if you paid me for it (although sometimes it can be fun to straighten if for a change), I love that my hair is unique and slightly wild. I like to think it has a personality of its own!

I have blonde highlights in my hair which I really like but recently I’ve been feeling like a change.

When I was little I had auburn hair and I’ve been seriously contemplating going back to red. I’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest searching out shades of red to inspire me, here are a few:

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I just don’t know if I have the guts to make the change, or how red to go if I do take the plunge!

What do you all think? Would I suit going red?

Sophie x

Four Simple Goals… Before 2014.

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So my condition seems to be continuing to get worse, my pain levels are heightened, I have sharp stabbing pain in the base of my spine, I usually wake up with a head ache, and my energy levels are pretty low. In an effort to think positively and try to enjoy life despite all of that I thought I’d write about my current goals.

I was reading Elanor’s blog blueeyedgirlstrikesback and came across a post which she wrote, inspired by a post from A Beautiful Mess.

The rules, created by Elsie, are as follows:

1. Choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. Choose things you may not otherwise get done but are not difficult to accomplish.

2. Do not choose result oriented goals. Choose activity oriented goals. For example, instead of “lose 10 pounds”, choose something like “eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day”. Get what I’m saying? Positive actions instead of just the end result!

3. Choose personal goals you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! They can be daily, weekly or one time experiences.

4. Choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! It can be a small or large reward—it’s up to you.

5. Blog about your goals, each one as you achieve it and a big post when they are all finished before the new year! 

It would be easy to make goals which relate to my work, but I have so many writing and research related goals this semester already and rule number one states that my goals should make me happier. Whilst finishing all of my uni work will of course be a positive thing, I’d argue it isn’t about making myself happier.

I definitely have a tendency to make myself target orientated goals, things which have a structured method to achieve them and a finite ending but I rarely set myself more abstract, action orientated goals so I enjoyed this challenge. It wasn’t easy to create goals which didn’t have a completely set aim but it was a refreshing change. Here are my four goals:

1. Listen to my body more. I love my food but sometimes I think this impairs my judgment of when I am actually hungry and when I am actually full whilst I am eating. My younger sister has always been very good at only eating when hungry and stopping the minute she is full and this is something I want to teach myself.

2. Sing. Music, but more specifically singing has always made me happy. I can escape into the melody and the lyrics, express myself through the song. Although I have never really enjoyed singing for an audience because of nerves I had singing lessons for years and just adored singing for myself. I haven’t been singing much recently and I want to allow myself to find my voice again without the pressure of exams and concerts. What better time of year to do this than now with Christmas carols just around the corner?

3. Take more photos. My wonderful camera has been sadly neglected recently and I want to get back into taking more photos of daily life. It’s coming to Rome with me this weekend and I’m sure the beauty of the city will inspire me again.

4. Stretch daily. I look after my body as much as I can, it’s the only real way I have of trying to combat my condition, but I have to admit I haven’t been making much of an effort to take the time to stretch out my body everyday. It’s relaxing to do so it fulfills two positive purposes.

In accordance with the rules I will blog about achieving my goals and think up some nice rewards for when I do!

Let me know if you set yourself any goals this year too and whether you prefer target or action orientated goals :-)

Sophie x

7 Happy Things.

Sorry I’ve been rubbish at posting this week, I have spent two days in bed and my pain levels have been extremely elevated. Things are difficult but I don’t want to dwell so here are this week’s 7 happy things and hopefully a promise that you will get a second blog post this week!

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{Image via Pinterest, originally from j-siddhartha tumblr}

1. Having a lovely dinner at Wagamama with the beautiful Ellie. It was her birthday a few weeks ago and we hadn’t had a chance to meet up and celebrate but we found the time this evening and I got to give her her present.

2. Finally getting my hands on the NARS creamy concealer (in vanilla for anyone who’s interested), it’s really difficult to find and Ellie got it for me in Bath so I’m excited to use it!

3. Spending the weekend at home with the family. As I’d been feeling so rough all week I thought it would help and I have to admit my motivation to come home was partly down to how ridiculously comfortable my double bed is, you just sink into it, it’s such a luxury compared to student living.

4. Eating the traditional Swiss dish called Raclette, what can beat melted cheese, potatoes and charcuterie (cooked meats like ham and salami)?

5. Doing a morning in a Year 2 class in a primary school. Helping the class to learn about directions and right angles was so fun and I just adore the children so I’m really pleased that I get to go back there this week.

6. My dad’s toffee apples. I may not have been able to go to Bonfire night because of my pain but I did get to munch on one of the best toffee covered apples.

7. Looking forward to next weekend with bated breath – I’m going to Rome and I can hardly contain my excitement! I have a deep love for Italy ever since I visited Florence for the first time when I was 14, I love the country, the scenery, the culture, the food, the classical music, (although perhaps not so much the politics). I’ve never been to Rome and I can’t wait to discover the city, we’re visiting the Vatican and many celebrated monuments. We might only be there for what seems like a couple of hours but it’s going to be amazing!

Hope you all have a good week, after a bit of a right-off week I’m looking forward to hopefully having a much better one :-)

Sophie x

7 Happy Things.

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{Image via Pinterest, originally from Iulian Dumitru}

1. Celebrating Halloween with some of the best people I know! Prancing around as a black cat with some extraordinary looking people was so much fun it made up for the fact that we came home a little early because the club was so atrociously busy.

2. Getting to meet up with the lovely Baiba for coffee when she was back for her reading week, it is always nice to get to catch up with friends away at uni.

3. Reading J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan books (yes there are two) for my children’s literature module – perfect for moments of escapism.

4. Listening to songs like Rusted Root’s Send Me On My Way perhaps a little too often whenever I need a bit of cheering up!

5. Having a mini book and beauty shopping spree (also to cheer me up) because whilst it may be materialistic, buying a couple of lipsticks and a beautiful copy of Brothers Grimm fairy tales is definitely the little pick-me-up I needed.

6. Getting organised. It’s difficult to stay on top of everything when you’re feeling exhausted because it destroys your concentration but I’m just about managing with all my to-do lists, note books and diary. I will get through this term. I will.

7. Looking forward to Bonfire night on Tuesday. Wrapping up warm, a huge bonfire, fireworks, candy floss, a funfair, and friends – what could be better?

Sophie x

Shaken, Not Stirred.

Shake me and I rattle.

Yesterday morning I was off to the doctor’s to try to sort out my every worsening health. Of course, an appointment at 10.10am quickly became an appointment at 10.45, which was followed by a mad dash to the chemists to pick up new prescriptions before cycling at breakneck speed back to my house to pick my books up, and then whipping off to uni. By the end of the morning I was already shattered!

But it was actually an incredibly productive appointment. (Even if I did almost get a bit tearful.)

The result of this visit to the doctor’s is that I now feel a little like a cocktail of drugs.

Shake me and I rattle.

But although I’m not a huge fan of being on lots of medication,  it has gotten to that point where I just want to find something that works. It has been almost 7 years now since I first started experiencing pain. That is a long time in the lifetime of a 20-year old. It has been 7 years since I could walk around in the day and feel absolutely no pain, I honestly cannot remember what it feels like to not have, at best, a slight aching pain in the base of my spine. And it has been almost 3 years since I had a really good night’s sleep, since I woke up feeling like I had the energy to face the day.

So if this cocktail manages to dull the pain and gives me decent nights and smoother mornings, then sign me up forever!

Sophie x

7 Happy Things.

So I’ve not been feeling very well, as my last post suggested, and I’ve struggled towards the end of this week to keep my chin up and carry on with life. It is difficult to put into words how much being in pain, in such pain as this, can affect your mind and body. It is all-encompassing. It is all-consuming. My body aches and throbs all over and my mind is dulled. It is so hard to stay positive when my future feels so uncertain, will my exciting plans ever been realised? It is hard when you know that being poorly makes you less interesting as a friend, less appealing as a partner, less able as a student…

But I won’t let it pull me under completely so in an attempt to (at least metaphorically) pick myself up a little I thought of 7 happy things from this week. Enjoy!

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{Image via Pinterest, originally from sacramentostreet}

1. As the picture suggests, it is most definitely hot drink weather. I don’t like tea and I rarely drink coffee but the minute the cold weather strikes I turn to one of my favourite treats – hot chocolate. There is something so comforting about a lovely chocolatey hot drink to warm you up. Of course I don’t just drink ordinary hot chocolates, oh no, I go all out! Hot chocolate just isn’t the same without whipped cream and marshmallows, and if possible chocolate sprinkles. I’m not fussy. Promise.

2. I was doing some blog reading this morning and stumbled upon this post from This Book is Reserved. How beautiful are those covers? I am desperate to get my hands on a copy of The Secret Garden and The Wizard of Oz because the former is one of my favourite childhood stories and the later is so wonderfully colourful.

3. Getting the volunteering position I wanted! I had an informal interview on Thursday at a fantastic centre run by a charitable organisation and got the place so I’m over the moon about that. I’m going to be working for an after-school club run there for young people with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism. It’s such a brilliant programme as it gives the young people a safe environment, it’s a place where they can just be themselves and relax. I’m so excited to start volunteering, I’ll be there once a week for two and half hours, working with a group of boys aged 13 to 17. It’s a completely new challenge for me but I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in and learning all I can!

4. Going food shopping with my mother (who was lovely and drove over to give me a lift to the supermarket so that I didn’t have to walk!) and having a fully stocked fridge again. I have a fridge full of delicious healthy foods to inspire me and get me back on my feet. Plus a couple of little treats because who can resist After Eight yoghurts?

5. Hearing the best news about my dissertation. When we were first assigned supervisors my heart sank slightly, I’d been given a lecturer who I like as a person but find really difficult to work with. I’ve been emailing her over the summer but I was really struggling to get anywhere. It’s been worrying me for ages as one of the most important things in a dissertation is who you work with so I was ecstatic when my absolutely lovely personal tutor offered to supervise me instead.

6. Having little Clive from two doors down pop in for a cuddle. If you don’t follow me on Instagram (@sophiejuliette_mh) then you won’t know that Clive is the adorable little cat who comes round to say hello and hang out when her (I know, Clive is a girl) owners are out.

7. Pleasant interludes in my student life – this week it was going for coffee, or hot chocolate in my case, with my mother on Friday. I met her before my seminar and it was really nice to have a little chat as we are very close. This coming week I’m going for lunch with my friend Aimee and the following week I’m going out for dinner with the lovely Ellie as a late birthday celebration for her :-)

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Sophie x