Celebrating My 21st Birthday!

One week ago, I turned 21! Yes, that does mean my birthday was on the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, which is why I decided to primarily celebrate my birthday the day before.

My parents drove 200 miles to Liverpool from home on the Friday night, and arrived at my uni house early on Saturday morning – with a bunch of stuff I’d left at home in September in tow. This was quite an amusing collection of things – reheatable hand warmers, a new jumper, my waterproof coat, and some other bits and bobs. When I moved into this house 2.5 months ago, I had belongings spread around the country – it took some time to figure out where everything was!

We didn’t linger in the house long; we walked down to Liverpool’s Key Lime Café, where they serve a variety of breakfasts, including American style pancakes alongside more savoury things like Eggs Royale. After a leisurely breakfast there, we headed to Central station and hopped on a train to Chester.

We’d decided to spend the day there rather than in Liverpool, as my parents had never been and I enjoy going. I think it’s almost the perfect city, in my mum’s eyes – plenty of history, interesting architecture, good size, but without the same mania that can surround places like London.

My entire family has a thing about history, I think – we’re all interested in it, and so I knew my parents would enjoy seeing the cathedral. We spent quite a long time in there, actually; I think we spent an entire half an hour trying to find one particular feature by a window… it turned out to be on a different window than the ones we were looking at. But by this point, my dad had a hankering for a coffee, and I was a little hungry, so we went to the cathedral’s café for lunch.

It was at this point, while we were waiting for our food, that my mum decided to reveal what she’d been lugging around all day in her backpack – when I’d enquired what was in it, her answer had been “space”. For some reason, I actually believed her! But, alas, she unpacked a collection of coloured envelopes and presents.

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Photos courtesy of my dad, who a) has a far better camera than I do, and b) was the only one to actually bring said camera with him… I forgot mine. I was also paying absolutely no attention the fact he was taking photos.

Now, in all truth, I hadn’t been expecting this – I knew their stay in Liverpool wasn’t going to be cheap, and I’d already had an intended-21st-birthday-present earlier in the year (awkward timing meant it arrived a little closer to my 20th birthday instead!). Nevertheless, I received a pair of earrings (which I’ve worn every day since), some perfume, chocolate and notebooks from my parents, and some other jewellery and cash from other relatives, which I’m very grateful for.

After lunch, we left the cathedral and had a bit of a lazy wander around the city walls and exploring the city, including a visit into a tea shop (my parents are definitely tea people, I can’t say the same myself) and an old pub with a good few centuries of history behind it.

Soon enough, the sun was starting to set and we went over to Miller and Carter for dinner – and odd thought, considering I’m pescetarian and they’re primarily a steakhouse, but they had a fair menu of non-meat dishes so I had salmon. I’m pretty sure my dad had steak, but I have no clue what mum ordered! Terrible memory, I know. I think I was a bit caught up in conversation to notice.


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The next morning, my parents turned up bright and early at my house again (it was now my actual birthday) and we went straight back to Key Lime Café for breakfast. This café is conveniently positioned opposite Lime Street Station, and thus in close proximity to St George’s Hall, where Liverpool’s Armistice Parade was due to take place. As we ate our breakfast we saw various groups of people in various uniforms getting ready for the parade.

We were careful to leave the café with a good amount of time before the parade was due to start, and managed to find a fairly good place to stand, a little way to the left of the monument pictured above. It was a lovely thing to watch; the crowds filled the area and during the ceremony, poppies were released from the roof of St George’s Hall, and petals were released from the top of the radio tower – the wind was blowing in the right direction so they all fell over the plateau and crowds.

I didn’t capture any of the parade and ceremony on camera; aside from the fact I forgot to bring my camera again, it seemed a bit inappropriate. But I had my poppy on, and my mum grabbed a programme they were handing out beforehand, and she managed to catch a few petals (that woman is amazing), so I do have some souvenirs.

After the ceremony had finished, we waited for the barriers to be moved so we could get closer to the monument (which I have walked past dozens of times and know quite well, but we wanted to see the wreaths). Then it was down to the docks to find some lunch, because the world would have turned upside down if an outing with my family didn’t largely revolve around food!

Sadly, the early afternoon meant it was time for my parents to leave. We got a taxi back to my house (instead of the 30+ minute uphill walk), and then my parents were off on their journey home.

So yeah, that’s what I did for my 21st! I’m never that big on birthday celebrations, and celebrating at uni can be a bit weird when your friends and family are miles away, but it was really nice to spend this time with my parents.

I Moved House – Third Time in Three Years!

Ah, the university life…

I’m very well aware, as you may be, that many people, when going to university, live in halls for first year and then find some housemates and live in a house/flat/whatever for the successive two years, or however long they may be there for. Well… not me!

I lived in private halls in first year because I didn’t get offered the university-owned accommodation I wanted, and the one they did offer me was far too high a price. Instead, I was in a five-person self-catered ensuite flat, with four people I’d never met before. The staff had managed to group the five of us together as all first years at the same university (they served 3 in the area). It was an interesting year, involving far too much cigarette smoke coming into my bedroom, a melted fork in the oven, and maggots in the flat.

In second year, I chose to live with four other girls, three of whom were also doing history, the fourth doing English. It was actually quite funny as I was the only monolingual of the group – the other languages spoken were Welsh, Punjabi, Greek, and Portuguese. This was a slightly turbulent living situation – two of us preferred to be far tidier than the others, and one housemate actually moved out shortly after Christmas. But, aside from the hiccups, it was a nice house, recently refurbished, with two bathrooms and it was close to the university – though on the other side of campus to my first year, not that this made all that much difference.

So what happened this year? Well, almost from the beginning, one of my second year housemates said they were planning to live with other people in her third year. Then another wanted to live in a different area to where we were – further from the university, where we didn’t want to move to. So we were down to three, until the whole oh-wait-she’s-moved-out thing. This left two of us trying to find an affordable two-bed student rental house, preferably close to university, after Christmas – by which time most of the properties have been taken up. (Top tip: when looking for second and third year accommodation, figure out what you want as fast as you can in October and GET LOOKING!)

If we’d known it would have been just the two of us early on, we probably could have grabbed a lovely, fairly cheap place. As it is, we have a pretty small, slightly shabby house – but it’s actually a tad closer to university than last year, and the bills are included in the rent which is slightly cheaper than it was last year (though my third year loan is smaller too, thanks government).

Moving in at the beginning of this month was a bit of a nightmare, largely because the property wasn’t actually clean. Not too big an ask of somewhere you’re paying a large amount of rent to, right? For it to be clean when you move in? Well, apparently, yes it is. Spiders – both dead and alive – were everywhere. Cobwebs everywhere, too. Sticky floor. The whole shebang. It’s taken a good while to settle in here. Then there was a bit of an issue where I didn’t know where what felt like half my belongings were – at this point my things were spread between two houses in Liverpool, one in Telford, and one at home in Hertfordshire! Thus, it took a bit of time to pool everything together.

See, I actually don’t mind moving – I’d go so far as to say I quite like it. The variety suits me well, and I know it can be a hassle (thanks mum & dad), but all the same… it keeps things changing. I realise many people dislike change as a whole, but particularly when it comes to the changing of home comforts – I can’t say that’s something I find too challenging, but I understand why others do.

So yes, I’m in this place for a little under a year – I don’t plan on going home for all that long over Christmas and Easter this year, probably under a month in total, so I’ll probably be here until the end of the tenancy at the end of June 2019. Then, of course, I’ll be graduating from university and moving back home… which I’m just thrilled about, by the way (sense the sarcasm – next weekend’s post will address this a bit further). In consequence, this is probably the last time I’ll move house (aside from moving out) for a while, which makes me a little wistful, to be honest. But I suppose if I don’t have to spend months searching for where to live for the following year, I might have to put that time into pursuing other, possibly more productive, pursuits… we’ll see.

One thing I’m infinitely glad about, though? After this year, I’ll never have to deal with student landlords again! If you’ve experienced it, you know. If not… be glad.

Have you got any moving-house stories? Let me know!

Stumbling onto the Set of ITV’s Victoria!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that last week, I went down to Falkner Square in the Georgian Quarter of Liverpool with the aim of taking some photos, having come across the square while rushing to a flat viewing a few months prior. What I didn’t expect to find, however, was that the square was being set up for the filming of ITV’s Victoria!

They weren’t filming on the day I wanted to take photos, which sort of worked out for the best for me, because it meant I still got some good, non-Victoria-set shots. But we found out that they would be filming on Monday and Tuesday just gone! We didn’t end up seeing any of the shoots on Monday, when Jenna Coleman was there, because we’d already decided to visit Formby Beach, so on Tuesday we toddled off down to see what was happening. ‘Toddled’ being the appropriate word for me, because I had very sunburned feet from the beach and my shoes were still full of sand.

I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting, but what we found did not disappoint. Lots of extras in Victorian dress, an abundance of beautiful horses, and Prince Albert himself, Tom Hughes!

The first scene we saw being shot involved what looked like a war scene… We spent a while trying to guess what it could have been, but we saw a few takes of Tom Hughes and a soldier having a chat while the others bustled around them.

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As someone who one day would really love to work on sets like this, it was fascinating to me to watch what happened between shoots. As soon as they’d finished with that first scene, everyone behind the cameras jumped into action to prepare for the next. A fire engine had been parked nearby, and it moved up so they could use the hose to make the roads, which had been packed with a muddy-looking substance over the usual tarmac, look like it had been raining (something that surprisingly hadn’t happened in about a week).

A woman was busy telling all the extras where to stand, what to do, and when to do it. Horse-drawn carriages which had been parked up and down the roads started moving into place. Camera equipment was shimmied around. Tom Hughes stood in a doorway having a chat.

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It was amazing to see the landscape transform before our eyes, that’s for sure. And seeing carriages and people in Victorian dress standing next to huge light boxes and a modern fire engine was a bit of a trip!

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They took a few shots of some carriages driving by each other, the extras bustling along on the pavements. It was fun watching the horses – I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved them.

After the street shoots, everything died down pretty quick – we assume for a lunch break, because we wandered down the street to find a string of people in Victorian dress queuing outside a building where everyone was coming out with cake. (It looked like good cake.) But we did notice Tom Hughes run over to the kid crouched in the photo above to give him a high five before everyone went off for food, which was just really cute.

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When the filming looked like it had finished, we got the opportunity to walk across the set for a bit – I mean, nobody told us we could, but nobody stopped us either… We were just curious! But it was pretty cool.

This is one thing I love about living in a city like this, especially because a lot of filming happens in Liverpool because it can easily be made to look like both London and New York. James Corden and Paul McCartney were actually wandering around together the other day in the city centre and by Smithdown, filming Carpool Karaoke!

Until next time…