I agree with Jenni Murray

I have been listening to Woman’s Hour regularly for a while now, and their podcast is one of my favourites. They explore a wide variety of opinions on as many subjects, which makes for engaging listening.

In the past few days, one of the presenters, Jenni Murray, has come under criticism for expressing supposedly transphobic opinions in an article she wrote. The Telegraph writes a good summary of the situation.

I think Jenni Murray is completely in her rights to speak out about issue affecting women. After all, she is the presenter of a female centred radio show, and these are issues that she has to encounter professionally on a regular basis. She is right to stand up for women and for the language we use to talk about female bodies.

I know BBC presenters are supposed to remain completely neutral, but she shouldn’t have to remain silent on the subject of misogynistic ideology that harms women.

I am ready for a radical feminism takeover of Woman’s Hour. Jenni Murray seems to be almost there with her stance on this subject, but I think it’s clear that she feels pressure not to be too controversial. I hope Jenni Murray continues to stay true to her opinions and isn’t bullied into agreeing with the liberals.

(Just for fun, here is a debate with Julie Bindel on the controversy).

Skies and Seasides: Scrapbook #6

Since being back in England, I have been revelling in the gorgeous open and dramatic skies. I love going on a walk on a moody stormy day.

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I didn’t realise how much I needed my time out in nature until I didn’t have it there.

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Also, some beautiful reticulated irises in someone’s front garden.

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At the weekend, I went down to Brighton. We stayed with some family friends, and I got to sleep in the lounge with a real fire. It was super cosy.

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I don’t know why I love the West Pier so much, but it looks pretty eerie on an overcast day.

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Brighton has so much cool graffiti, and this one in particular caught my eye.

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Blogistential Crisis

I sat down this week to write a blog post, and I realised that I didn’t want to. And when I realised that, it begged the question: why am I doing this?

I originally started this blog to share my experiences in the hope that it might help other people. Over time, I have branched out and written about all sorts of different issues and interests, and this blog has become more of a reflection of my personality than a place to vent.

Now, I am really struggling with how personal I want this blog to be. Every time I post something, I think, would I want my family or friends to see this? And sometimes, if the answer is no, I don’t publish it. I have even deleted a lot of my past posts for that reason, and I’ve stopped writing posts when I am caught up in strong emotions, such as sadness or panic or stress.

However, I have talked to some really lovely people as a result of sharing personal stories, and to think I might not have talked to them, and might not interact with more people like them in the future if I don’t over share, is sad. But the thing is, my mental health is taking up less and less of my life. I am doing so well with my depression at the moment, my anhedonia is basically gone and I feel like an actual well rounded person now. Anxiety is still a massive problem, and being out in public/talking to people is a huge struggle for me. But I worry that if I keep writing about it, and focusing on it, it will keep taking up space in my life and in my head. I would rather talk about the things that I am achieving and doing rather than the things I am not. Or maybe I just feel a bit fake, like I shouldn’t be doing so well in my recovery when others are still struggling. Maybe I’m afraid to be feeing better.

It’s also important to be able to have a space to be authentically you. I’m trying to reconcile with whether for me that means it’s okay to have a place on the internet to share my deepest secrets and feelings. By not sharing the dark things, am I representing myself authentically? Maybe it would be better for me to keep some things private, now that I have the tools to deal with my issues, journal in my own time and use the blog as a form of positive self expression and exploration.

I’m also wrestling with social media in general. I think a lot of the time it can be really negative and put pressure on people. But I realise that I have just written about not wanting to share the bad parts of my life, which is something that social media gets a lot of criticism for. You only see the good days, but that doesn’t mean that every day is a good day. Additionally, why do I want to share my life? Why do I want to post things on instagram, or blog about my holiday? What is the driving force behind that?

I also worry that writing so much for my blog is taking away my writing energy for creative projects. I have had an idea for a story for over a year now, and I haven’t done anything with it. Maybe if I wasn’t forcing myself to write short blog posts every week I could work on it. I also have a load of other projects on the internet, between YouTube, my birding blog and my Etsy shop.

So should I stop writing regularly? Keep this blog as a place to share travels/adventures and photography, or wait for inspiration to strike, or should I keep plugging away at it until the inspiration comes back?

That was a big ramble, a lot of questions and a lot of mixed feelings. At the root of this there is a larger issue. There are things that I want to write about that I am finding to difficult to publish. That’s why I am struggling to find my voice, because my voice is defined largely by the things you don’t know about me. Or do I need the courage not to care and just have this blog for me?

UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRGGHH

 

The Best Biscuit Recipe!!

I know this is not what I usually blog about, but I made these biscuits the other day from my grandma’s recipe, and they are the best thing I have ever made ever.

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This is the original recipe. Obviously, not vegan if you include the lard/butter, but I just replaced that with margarine.

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Another thing to note is that this makes “about 65 biscuits”!! I did half quantities, made them a bit bigger, and that made about 20 biscuits. Here is the recipe for my version:

8oz/225g plain flour

4oz/115g sugar

4oz/115g golden syrup

4oz/115g margarine/butter

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp baking powder

Bake for 12-15 mins at 160°C

The recipe is for ginger biscuits but I definitely think you could modify it to make all sorts of different flavours. The ingredient that makes them so delicious, in my opinion, is the golden syrup, as it makes them extra soft and chewy. I am definitely going to see if I can make some chocolate chip cookies using this recipe.

I hope you enjoyed this, I loved the biscuits so much that I just had to share the recipe. Let me know if you make them!

A Week at Home: Scrapbook #5

I got home from China last week, and at the weekend, my family and I celebrated by having Christmas! All of the grandparents came over, and I was able to give them their gifts from China, and tell them all about my trip. Missing Christmas this was especially hard, because I know how lucky I am to have all my grandparents, and I realise that every year spent together could be our last. That sounds morbid, but what with recent health scares it’s something I have to come to terms with.

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I also got some lovely gifts, including some new pants and a Christmas candle set. My room now smells like a pine forest.

The English weather has been gorgeous this week, with warmer days and beautiful stormy skies. I have had a couple of walks out in the fields (how I missed them), and have been enjoying seeing all the British birds. I saw this song thrush when I was getting dressed one morning and literally dropped everything to get a picture of it. I posted this photo (and many more) on my new birding and wildlife blog.

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Perhaps my greatest achievement this week: I finished my crocheted blanket! It adds some lovely colour to my room, and I can just picture it thrown over the back of a sofa when I eventually get my own place.

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I have also made some steps towards organising my future. I have a job interview later today to be a cleaner. I think it would be really handy, as I would be self employed and able to pick when and where I worked. It’s not the most aspirational job, and to be honest, I was embarrassed to tell people about it. I’m trying not to let their judgement pull me down (I’ve held back tears more than once since I told people). But this is not the end goal, and it pays better than my retail job. I can’t worry about what people think, and what assumptions are made about jobs such as that.

What is important is that if I get it, it will help pay for my course! I am so excited to start learning more about animals, and continue learning German. I hopefully will also have time to do some volunteering. There is a shelter for retired greyhound dogs near where I live and they need people to walk them. If only I could get paid to do something like that!

Of course, the best thing about being home is being able to hang out with my best friend. She doesn’t judge me, and she helps get rid of some of the stress I am feeling about the future. Making calls, changing jobs, and meeting new people are all things that I find incredibly difficult. It’s the little things like my cat, crafting, and nature that help me through.

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China Review

I am back! I am home! My China adventure has ended. I thought I would take a moment today to reflect on the experience, the ups and the downs, and see where I am in my life now.

What has going to China taught me? I have certainly learned to challenge myself, in every aspect of everything. I have challenged my independence, proved that I can do extraordinary, scary things by myself, and create fantastic experiences and memories for myself. I have challenged myself socially, by living with other people, entering into a new work environment, talking in front of large groups of people are working with children.

I don’t have one stand out experience that I can label as my best experience. However, I can say that it was an overall positive experience, which I am very happy about.

The first few days, and weeks were certainly a highlight, hanging out with my flatmates and realising that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. We went out to eat, see the city, played cards at home, and generally had a really fun time. It was the first time in a while that I had properly laughed and enjoyed other people’s company.

I really enjoyed my second trip to Suzhou. Simply being alone, doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, was a delight. I know I spend a lot of time alone, but there’s always the people I live with or work with there in the background, and in Suzhou it was just me. I loved having a hotel room that was all mine, and with an en suite so I didn’t really have to leave my room, and I enjoyed an evening vegging out and eating good food.

There were also many lovely moments with the children I was teaching. I particularly enjoyed the baby class, which was basically singing and dancing with adorable pre-school children, but it was nice being able to talk, play and laugh with older children as well. I thought I would really struggle to b confident enough in front of the kids, and while it took me a while to warm up, I eventually got there.

My worst experience was probably the situation that arose with a particular flatmate. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but it was over Christmas and New Year, when I was missing spending quality time with my family, and it exacerbated my feelings of melancholy. Overall, I was very lucky, and I think I have been cured of my fear of living with other people.

Not necessarily a bad experience, but something negative that turned out to be amazing was my second day in Nanjing. Nanjing was not my favourite trip. I was travelling by myself (because of the whole flatmate situation) and I felt down and unmotivated. On the second day, I got to Linggu temple, having not had a proper breakfast, as there were no places to eat near my hostel, and I was not enjoying myself. I was really questioning what the point of travelling was if I was just going to different places, taking photos, and leaving without having fun. However, when I got to Linggu pagoda, and climbed to the top, I looked out, and despite the smog and crap view I felt really happy. I realised that it was quite amazing that I had climbed to the top of this tower After that, I had a really great day simply looking at all the touristy things and living in the moment

That was China, so what’s now? I have realised being in China and being surrounded by bilingual people that speaking another language is both useful and rewarding. Sp, I am currently trying to relearn German, which will maybe lead to some trips to Germany, and maybe a job over there.

I also want to do some kind of course to tackle another one of my big anxieties: education. I have found a zoology course, and an ornithology course, that look interesting, now all I need to do is make a decision and go for it. Alongside all that, I am hoping to get a part time job to cover the cost of my education and maybe have a bit left over so I can travel.

China was amazing, and I feel that it really gave me perspective on my life and what I want to do. Now, I am looking forward to moving on and growing, and being happy. Here’s to the next chapter!

Shanghai Part 2

Before I flew back home to the UK, I had one last trip back to Shanghai. I felt really comfortable, as I knew my way around the centre pretty well. In addition, I was staying in a room all by myself, which is a luxury that I always look forward to.

On my first day I went to Century Park, the largest park in Shanghai. The plum blossoms are just starting to bloom, and there was a whole section of the park full of beautiful pinks and whites, along with a few yellow osmanthus trees.

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I was also treated to one final bonsai garden before I left China. They were all in blossom, which only added to the effect. I think now that I am back home, I may have to invest in a bonsai tree of my own. They are just so cool!

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Some of the trees had multiple coloured blossoms, this one I thought was especially stunning. I’m not sure what causes it, but the effect is lovely

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The next day, I went to the Shanghai Natural History Museum. Natural history museums are my favourite, and wherever I go I make sure to visit the local one. I do have a some criticisms of it, as there were some live animals in the museum, which I didn’t know about beforehand (and was disappointed to see), and I was not overly impressed with the quality of the exhibits in Shanghai. It was also the kind of crowded that I’ve only ever encountered in China. However there was an interesting exhibition on extinction, and an amazing rocks and minerals exhibition. The museum was very big as well, so there was lots to see, and overall, I had a nice time.

The museum was located in the Jing’an sculpture park, and although I didn’t spend much time there, I did really like this sculpture against the city backdrop.

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I then walked to old town. I did some shopping and had my last baozi, which were sweet red bean flavour.

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After I had a final walk along the Bund and down Nanjing road, which is the first place I travelled to in China. It felt like a fitting end to the whole trip.

All of my photos are now up on my Flickr  in an album, which you can see here. This is the final chapter in my Chinese adventure, but I am looking forward to  whatever adventure comes next!