The Autumn Tag!

We’re nearing the end of October, which means it is well and truly autumn – though I feel like somebody forgot to tell the weather, because I’m on the northwest coast of England and it was 17 degrees today! That’s like a standard UK summer. Regardless, the jumpers are out, the shorts have been left at home, and I was recently tagged to write about all things autumn by both Esther Ruth Wyse and Jess Cantoni!

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What signifies the start of autumn for you?

For me, autumn begins when the leaves start changing colour and I’m cold enough to put jumpers on again. Though I do get cold very easily – especially after the summer just gone! I know everyone else was hating on the 33 degree heat around London but I was LIVING for it. When it dropped to 22 degrees I was practically an ice cube, I’d gotten so used to the heat.

What is your favourite autumn scent?

I’d say my favourite autumn scents are orange-y, lightly spiced scents. Please note I’m very bad at describing scents, so that’s my best effort! But generally, if it’s orange-y coloured, whether it’s potpourri (not that I’ve ever bought that, mum does occasionally) or candles, I’m good with that for autumn.

What is your favourite autumn colour?

If you’d asked me this three, maybe four years ago, it would have been a red-wine burgundy. I kid you not, most of my wardrobe was that colour! Nowadays I’m really into the mustard yellows that have been in the shops for the last couple of years, and I definitely love gentle browns – y’know, for boots and things.

Are you a fan of PSL (pumpkin spice latte)?

I’ve never had one! I don’t really drink coffees at all, so it’s not a drink I’ve tried.

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What is your favourite autumn drink?

I like a good hot chocolate. Preferably on the really chocolatey side! I’m not always the greatest with dairy though, but I’ve recently started using oat milk and, turns out, that makes a very smooth hot choc.

What’s your favourite coffee shop and their drink of choice?

Like I said earlier, I don’t really drink coffee (caffeine + me = bouncing off the walls and a lot of inexplicable giggles), but I do love the frozen chocolate drinks from Starbucks/Costa every now and again – I have no idea what they’re called though, because Costa changed the name of theirs recently and I literally never remember what the Starbucks one is called! It’s that one… with the cream… and the ice… and the chocolate… Let me know if you have any idea what I’m on about.

Apple pie or pumpkin pie?

I’ve never had pumpkin pie either! I’ve definitely had apple tart before, which I’m not sure counts as apple pie, but I’ll go with it – it’s alright. There are better desserts, but it does the job. I prefer a stroodle, or an apple cake my mum makes.

What TV show, new or old, are you looking forward to in the next few months?

I usually look forward to the new series of Doctor Who, but I have no TV license or TV aerial in my third year student house, so can’t really watch TV as such… so I’ll be rewatching How I Met Your Mother, Friends, Once Upon A Time, and all the Harry Potters. Big shout-out to Netflix and DVDs!

What is your favourite autumn fashion trend?

Cable knits. C A B L E   K N I T S. I love a cable knit. So warm. So cosy. Jumpers, cardigans, socks, gloves, scarves… Give me all the cable knits.

What is your favourite comfort food to enjoy in the colder months?

Probably duck spring rolls. I eat a pescetarian diet in the main because of stomach issues, but duck spring rolls on an autumn night are so good. Alternatively, baked camembert and toast. My mouth is actually watering right now.

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What is your favourite autumn activity?

I love baking in the autumn, and cooking seasonal things – like soup. Last year I made pumpkin cupcakes and pumpkin soup for the first time, which I think went quite well – I usually end up baking at least a few times in autumn (this week I made sweet potato & leek soup and chocolate orange fairy cakes). I think carving pumpkins is fun too, but obviously that’s only really a Halloween thing. I’d like to go pumpkin picking at some point though!

Are you a fan of horror movies?

I’ve never been all that into horror films, because I’m not really into that thrill, but I have been watching some recently because I’m studying a Gothic fiction & film module at university so every week we have to watch a different film – we haven’t gotten to the modern ones yet so the most recent one we’ve seen was made in the 1960s! Having said this, an odd series of circumstances meant I did watch the Daniel Radcliffe version of The Woman In Black about five times from when it came out in cinemas to when it came out on DVD. Having said this, I don’t think it counts as horror… does it? So – long walk for a short drink of water – no.

Do you ever do anything fun for Halloween?

I haven’t in recent years, but I do remember at some point growing up my parents threw me a Halloween-themed party (I have an awful memory but this might have been a birthday party, because my birthday is 11-Nov and therefore close to Halloween). They drew and cut out witch and monster heads and hung them from the ceiling, and the house got all decorated, so that was really fun. I did some trick-or-treating as a kid too, like everyone.

What was your favourite part about Halloween as a child?

Not sure about a favourite ‘part’ exactly, but my favourite memories would be the party I just mentioned, rewatching the early Harry Potter films, and watching all the Halloween films on the Disney channel.

Are you a bigger fan of Bonfire night or Halloween?

I probably celebrate Bonfire Night more than Halloween, so I’ll say Bonfire Night – though in my head I sort of rank them equally! Last year I did nothing for either, because I was in deadline mania, but I’ll see if there’s anything going on this year.

Where is your dream destination to visit in the autumn?

Don’t ask me that! There’s too many. Iceland in the autumn was amazing, but I’d love to see Madeira in autumn too.

Do you always forget about the clocks going back?

Usually I’m vaguely aware that it’s going to happen, but never know which day. Then I Google it after my mum reminds me. I have vague memories of getting ready for school at what turned out to be 6am instead of 7am once back in either primary or early secondary school, and I was really wondering why nobody else was getting up until I saw the time on a clock that changed automatically. I didn’t bother taking my uniform off before crawling back under the covers for a while.

When do you usually start preparing for Christmas?

Compared to most people these days, really late! I’ve always had a rule – no Christmas until after my birthday. My housemate, whose birthday is six days after mine, also has the same rule, so for us it’s mid-to-late November when we start thinking about Christmas! Although I have already started lightly Christmas shopping, but sometimes it’s just easier to get that done early. Considering my birthday is an entire six weeks before Christmas, I don’t think it’s too Scrooge-like – yet I have had birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper before… Not cool, guys. Not cool.

That’s all of the questions! Thanks so much to Esther and Jess for tagging me, and now it’s time for my tags – I feel like most bloggers I follow have done this one already so I’ll only tag a few!

Sophie from In Sophie’s Mind

Rav from An Earthly Mama

Kate from Finding Kate

Dani from World Meet Dani

 

Summer Envy

If I had the chance, I’d definitely live somewhere with more sun. Living in England has its perks – London, the history, the scenery – but as someone who constantly craves Vitamin D, it’s not the best. I’m not sure for how long I’d live somewhere else… I’ve always thought about living in New York for a time (not that I think that’s any sunnier than here, it’s just an amazing city I’d love to experience), but not indefinitely.

It’s days like these (23 degrees plus) that I love. The feeling of not shivering is very freeing. If I could spend all my days dressing in shorts and t-shirts, strappy (tank, if you’re anything other than English) tops and skirts, and little dresses, I definitely would. Although, having said that, I do appreciate a comfy jeans-and-jumper day. But not as much.

I get the feeling I’m just eternally pale, though. A couple of years ago I spent a month straight in Florida – the sunshine state – and got no darker. #Bonewhiteforever.

When people upload pictures online of their eternally-sunny country, I sit there and envy them. Faced with the prospect of a cloudy day in England 99% of the time, when there eventually is a sunny day, it makes even getting out of bed 100% easier.

It was amusing when me and my friends were deciding on where to go for our post-exams week away, and one of them suggested somewhere slightly north of us. I objected profusely. I am not going somewhere cold as soon as summer hits.

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I’ll never visit colder places – Iceland was one of the best trips of my life. I’d love to go back there, especially when it’s a little colder actually, because there wasn’t all that much snow in October. The pictures of Iceland when it’s January/February sort of time are stunning, just because of the complete blanketing of snow and ice.

Back on the summer envy though, the colours are so much nicer when it’s sunny. Anyone else noticed that? Compare two different pictures of the exact same place, one from a cloudy day and one from a sunny day, and the sunny day picture just looks infinitely… happier, I guess. There are very few exceptions to that general rule, and I think that’s only because some places in England are just so eternally damp that to see them dry counts as plain weird. But even university prospectuses make use of this little trick – they all only use pictures of the university buildings at their best and brightest on a sunny day, to make it look more appealing. The grass looks greener, the rooms lighter… the list goes on.

When I eventually move out of my home (after uni), I’d love to go somewhere where, even if I’m still in England, the rooms are brighter and more open. I think open plan is really nice, though my mum’s not such a fan, just because it lets the light travel unobstructed through the place. Walls just make a place dark.

But yeah. That’s this weekend’s thought, anyway. Well, that and the idea that in three or four years’ time, it’ll be my first summer where I won’t be facing the prospect of exams, and so won’t have to spend all day on nice days stuck inside just so I can see my laptop screen. That time will come eventually, I’m sure. *harumph*

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Once in a Lifetime

Last month, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Iceland for a week. I’d been looking forward to this trip since January, when I first signed up for it. Iceland is one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been, not least because I’ve never seen such a lack of trees…

The first of our stops was fresh from the airport: the blue lagoon. It wasn’t quite as sunny and blue as the website would have you believe, but that doesn’t mean it was any less amazing. The lagoon was originally a man-made mistake resulting from the neighbouring geothermal power plant, but the pool is mineral rich and the water is fresh and warm. Steam billows on the surface of the water from the contrast between the cold Icelandic air (I think it was 5 or 6 degrees when I went) and the warmth of the water. The fun thing I didn’t know was that in the middle of the lagoon is a bar to buy drinks using a clever little wrist band.

The north Atlantic ridge runs straight through the middle of Iceland, and this is a constructive plate boundary between the North American and the Eurasian plates. The placement of the country over this specific area means there’s a lot of volcanic and geothermal activity which makes for some epic photo spots (though most of these geyser sites smell very strongly of sulphur – which, in case you don’t know, smells of rotten eggs). The photo above is of one hot spring site, and it moved around a couple of years ago, destroying the old boardwalk. You can see the steam from the boiling water from miles around, and up close it was dense enough to block out the entire landscape behind it – it honestly looked like something from a Disney movie, old school style.

Another amazing activity I did during the week was seeing a lot of waterfalls. Iceland is also a glacial country, so the meltwater runs off into waterfalls. I actually had the opportunity to walk behind this one, and the power of the water hitting the plunge pool was stunning. We got absolutely soaked, as did our cameras, and fell over a fair few times because it was so slippery, but we beamed all the way through.

Possibly what I was most excited for was our “glacier walk”. I say that in quotation marks, because what we were told would be a simple walk turned out to be a full-on hike. From the visitor centre to the edge of the glacier was a 30-minute hike through a valley, and then we fitted our crampons and took up our ice axes and got going. We actually tasted some of the glacier ice from a meltwater pool, just FYI. It tasted like cold water, wouldn’t you know.

The hike was spectacular, and the geography student within me loved every second. The accident-prone klutz within me struggled a little more, but I managed without too many slips and trips.

One of the final things we did was supposed to be a 10km hike, which turned out to be a fair bit longer due to the main path being closed. We went, in crude terms, up, around and down a mountain. It was the last day and the first sign of trees which were taller than 3 feet high we’d had since we left from Luton airport. I’m no hiker, but I honestly had the best time on this mountain. As we climbed sheep tracks and footpaths, we were all beginning to strip off our layers, and just then it decided to start raining. Typical. (It wasn’t too much of a bummer, we were boiled and the rain was cool!)

These were just a few of the amazing photos I captured last month, but they each represent something I’ll never forget. Iceland was barren, powerful, colourful and the weather temperamental, and it was one of the best experiences.

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