Revisiting my 2014 Goals

Ticked off
- Complete and be happy with my dissertation: dissertation is done and dusted! I'm pretty happy with it- which is a big thing for me. I'm my own biggest critic and so far I've only found one really annoying mistake which just so happens to be in the last sentence in my conclusion. Typical, really! 

- Start a blog: pretty self explanatory, finally tied the knot in August this year and Nomad Notebook was born. There's a lot to do, including a new header and theme but apart from that i'm pretty content with it. I'm just finding it a little difficult to reach out to more people but I'm sure it'll just take a bit of time. I'm now in that awkward stage of do I/don't I start promoting my posts on my personal social media accounts. Maybe soon!

- Visit London: we visited London in October to see some of my friends from university. I met up with one of my closest friends, Zoe, for drinks at John Salt and then some other friends for a meal at La Tasca.

Parliament of the UK
Visit Edinburgh: Me and Mr. Nomad did a road trip around Scotland, including a visit to Edinburgh and we loved it! Although I think I prefer the actual Scottish countryside to Edinburgh.

Clear out the old house and sort through my childhood belongings: my dad's house was full of my childhood things and I've managed to now clear all of that out.

- Take Mr. Nomad to France: I took Mr Nomad to France this July. France has been a big part of my life so it was great taking him to where I've spent much of my childhood and introducing him to friends.

- Hunt for the Loch Ness Monster: technically we didn't as we didn't go that far North, but as listed above we visited many lochs in Scotland on our roadtrip and got close to Loch Ness.

- Earn my Masters Degree: after much waiting and many heart palpitations every time I get a email notification from uni, I finally have my results for my masters degree in which I achieved a pass with distinction! So happy.

Walk some of Hadrians Wall: we did this on the way back from the Scotland roadtrip and on the way to visit my sister who's just started at Durham University.

Hadrians Wall
- Go on more walks and hikes: We've done walks in the Lake District, Whitby, Scarborough, Robin Hood's Bay, Falling Foss, Brimham Rocks, Scotland and North Wales.

- Go to a maze: we visited York Maze which was this year in the shape of Yorkshire's famous faces

- Visit The Forbidden Corner: we visited the Forbidden Corner for my sister's birthday.

- Get my hair cut at least twice: I managed to sneak a cheeky hair cut in before we moved so I've had it cut twice this year which is pretty good going for me! 

Take the camera out more: we've definitely made a big effort to use the camera more, especially since moving to Australia.

Settlement Cove Lagoon, Redcliffe
- Get a new suitcase ready to move: Mr. Nomad's parents bought me an amazing orange Atlantic suitcase.

- Give away some of our furniture when we move hose: we sold and gave away 80% of our stuff when we moved out.

- Raise some money for charity: I raised some money for Comic Relief through work this year, and we ended up donating much of our stuff to charity before we moved.

- Reconnect with old friends: It's been really difficult moving around so much and keeping in contact with everyone. I moved for my first BA hons degree to Leicester where I met lots of friends who are from the South. I then moved to York so seeing these friends was near impossible with both uni and work commitments. I managed to see them twice- once in London and another time just before I left for an early Christmas get together. I then had a dinner evening at my house with my secondary school friends just before I left too.

Goals I haven't managed to achieve
- Move house: we've kind of achieved this. We've moved from our lovely little flat in York back home with my mum whilst the final things were put in place for our big move to Australia. We have now moved to Australia but we're currently living with my uncle. We're hoping to move out in the New Year into our own place.

- Start running: I've dabbled, and I've failed. Basically a combination of time and winter approaching. I can feel all the fitnuts shaking their heads at me. Now we're in Australia i'm determined to get fit and healthy again. I've already been eating a lot better, just need to work on the fitness in the New Year. Hopefully when things have stabilised a bit I'll be able to join a gym and get started on this.

- Take Mr. Nomad on a surprise trip: no excuse for this one really. Must do!

- Decrease my body fat percentage: i've lost a little weight, but nothing to shout home about.

- Sell my car: this is currently happening. Luckily my Dad is doing this for me and there's someone viewing the car today.

- Find 100 geocaches: we sadly haven't found nearly as many as 100. It's my bad really as Mr. Nomad is always a keen bean to find them. 

Overall I don't think I've done too badly! Look out on my goals page for my 2015 goals which I will be changing in the New Year.

What are your goals for 2015?

My 5 Favorite Christmas Traditions

Whilst I’m not religious, I've always loved Christmas and with it the traditions that everyone has. There’s something nostalgic and special about seeing adults act like children when surrounded by snow, the UK’s inability to deal with the winter weather conditions and the insistence that me and Mr Nomad still getting excited to open our stockings. I thought I’d share a few of my Christmas traditions with you, and would love to know what your traditions are!

1. TV
I’m definitely not one to watch a tonne of TV around Christmas (and I've noticed since moving to Australia there is a severe lack of Christmas related programmes!), but I have a few childhood favourites that I love to watch every year. I still have the VHS of all these but unfortunately don’t have a video player anymore so I've found links to ones on Youtube instead if you’re interested in watching them!

Father Christmas- my favourite of all of my Christmas programmes. It’s really funny, and honestly who doesn't like Raymond Briggs?

Old Bear­- there was something so comforting about old bear. I think I loved this programme too as one of my nicknames as a child was little bear. There was actually three episodes I loved; The Dolls House Christmas, Jolly Snow and The Winter Picnic.

Wallace and Gromit- the wrong trouser­s (sorry can't find a link!). Believe it or not this actually used to scare me when I was younger but I still loved it! All the Wallace and Gromit films are great though, especially A Close Shave.

Taleof Gloucester- A massive classic, and one which I've come to appreciate even more as I've grown up. It's quite a sad story, but has a heartwarming ending. 

The Snowman- another Raymond Briggs and probably his most famous, it always has me on the verge of tears when the snowman melted leaving his carrot nose, hat and scarf on the floor.

2. The Wreath
I’ve always loved putting the Christmas wreath up on the front door. My mum used to really enjoy doing this and putting up decorations on the banister which made me automatically love it- seeing my mum getting festive made me even more excited for Christmas, so this was something we did together. The one we used to have was wooden and plaited, and we used to decorate it with ivy leaves from the hedge outside and apple decorations with a robin to finish it off. It was always nice to come home and see this on the front door.
3. Getting up early
This is the one day of the year that I still don’t mind getting up early on. Me and my sister used to get up around 5am and had to watch TV and wait for my mum and dad to get up (there was an agreed time- normally  around 9am) before we could open our stockings downstairs. This gave both my mum and dad a chance to wake up and have breakfast before we opened them- although we were encouraged to bring them cups of tea in bed to lure them downstairs! I remember me and my sister daring each other to open the door to the dining room (where the stockings were), but neither of us would as we wanted it to be a surprise and knew my mum might hear us if we did. The build up to this was excruciating, and I remember us watching all sorts of TV programmes we hated as there was nothing else on at that time- notably The Hoobs (awful show!). Time used to feel like it would go so slow, and by the time we were actually allowed to open our stockings we were really tired!

4. Sledging and snow days
Living in the North of England had its benefits growing up- the snow meant there was quite a few days we didn’t have to go to school due to it causing havoc with our under-prepared transport systems and the heating (although my secondary school were particularly stingy on snow days!). The anticipation of listening to your school being named on the local radio station was unbearable, and the feeling when your school name got read out and we knew we could go sledging all day instead of being at school was amazing.

5. Traditional presents
Every family seems to have things they always got for Christmas. I know many of my friends used to get oranges in their stocking from father Christmas. For us- we always got flannels and soap (!?). Somehow Christmas couldn't be the same if we didn't get them every year though. Also, our stockings were actual skin colour tights rather than the modern stockings you see these days. Did anyone else have stockings made of tights?

What are your favourite Christmas traditions? If you don’t celebrate Christmas, what is/was your favourite winter traditions?Id love to know!

Sexism in the Media: boobs aren't news

(Photo Credit)
Whilst you'd think the media in the UK were pretty ahead of the game in terms of equality, there is one massive issue that I've been passionate about challenging. When I first told Mr. Nomad (he's fresh from Australia), he was pretty shocked. Our best selling newspaper The Sun, features topless 'glamour' models on page 3 of their newspaper, daily. There's even a movement No More Page 3 dedicated to the removal of this newspaper feature.

Now let me paint a scene. Up until a month ago, I was working in a pretty high end supermarket. One shift was at 6am on a Saturday morning, and the first job I had was sorting out the newspapers and putting all the inserts in. One of these of course, was The Sun. Let me tell you, I used to dread it every week. At 6am the last thing I waned to see was pages upon pages of topless females waiting for drooling customers to gaze over the images. However, what was worse was that I felt so uncomfortable serving customers who bought The Sun and similar newspapers and magazines (The Star, FHM etc). It made me uncomfortable; uncomfortable knowing that the person buying the newspaper was supporting and being implicit in regarding topless women in a newspaper as news. The Co-op (another British retailer) has gone part of the way to actually doing something; banning magazines with 'overtly sexual images' on, giving the publishers the option of delivering the magazines in pre-sealed modesty bags or the Co-op not selling them at all. Whilst I find this quite amusing (I mean, how embarrassing is it that people actually PAY to buy magazines that are disguised in paper bags?). But it's not enough. 

Aside from the fact that in the store I was working in these magazines were displayed and sold, what I found incredibly worrying was the kind of people that were buying these things. I'm talking grown parents with children, and honestly it made me feel a little sick. I found it really difficult to make a bond with any of these customers who, especially on a Saturday morning, were particularly friendly. One in particular was so nice to me but he'd buy The Sun and The Star every week and I just couldn't really see past it. What does leaving a newspaper around and exposing children to page 3 teach them? That women are to be valued and judged based on their bodys, and that conversation based on rating women on their body is okay? Something is seriously wrong here. Boobs surely aren't news?

Of course, papers and magazines like this still exist because of a much deeper misogyny that exists within British society, and all societies in general (I've noticed since moving to Australia that there isn't main tabloid newspapers featuring nude women, but still there are a vast array of 'lad mags'- this name makes me quiver- at eye level of children in retail outlets). Why is this an acceptable norm? I certainly don't want my potential children thinking it's normal or acceptable. If equality existed, this issue would be a no-brainer. Scrap page 3 and get rid of magazines exposing nude bodies to the eyes of children who have had no say in seeing them on a magazine rack. 

Join the F Word Monthly link up hosted by Elle Kiersten

What's your opinion on nudity in newspapers?

Life Lately; pre-Christmas celebrations, moving abroad & graduating

Pre-xmas celebrations, selling my first car, vacuum packing clothes in my suitcase, the carnage after a horrendous storm on our first day in Brisbane- unfortunately these people lost the whole of their roof of their house.
It's been a little quiet here over on Nomad Notebook but I've been a busy bee the past few weeks. Within the last month I've seen many friends for pre-xmas celebrations, graduated, packed up my life into two suitcases (how I managed this still baffles me) and moved across the world to Australia! Mr Nomad had been residing with me in the UK whilst I completed my Masters degree, but now I've finished we have moved back to his home soil of Australia for our next adventure together.

Whist it's been busy, it's been great to catch-up with some of my university friends and friends from secondary school, and we even managed to fit in a Christmas dinner before I left. I also got my university results for my Masters degree which I've been waiting for since September and I managed to get a Distinction for both my dissertation and for my overall degree so I'm over the moon. Studying full-time whilst also working part-time was really difficult but somehow I managed to pull through which is a great feeling.

Now i'm sat here in 26 degree heat and 70% humidity in a sundress writing this blog post- quite a contrast from wearing my hat and scarf in the UK (although it was over 30 degrees yesterday and we had the mother of all storms here in Brisbane with golf ball size hail stones which makes today seem mild). We had a nightmare journey over from the UK to Australia including a cancelled flight meaning we had to be put up in a hotel, and an extra flight from Manchester to Heathrow which added significant time onto the already horrific journey. Our airline also changed three times, but we're just glad to have arrived safely! I will probably write a post about the nightmare flight over as it's quite funny looking back on it and I definitely learnt some tips for long haul flights (like packing extra clothes and underwear in your hand luggage in case of cancelled flights and they refuse access to your checked in luggage..). 

What has everyone else been up to lately? Has anyone else moved abroad or had a nightmare flight?

Self-directed Learning Tips for School and University

Throughout my various schooling I've always felt a little dislocated from the classroom and lecture room setting. Whilst some people found it very easy to thrive in the education environment I have to be honest and say I struggled. I struggled in the classroom to make things work for me. My homework would always be above and beyond but during teaching hours I felt like I learnt very little and had to make up for it at home. I knew I was capable, evident in my homework and now my Masters degree, but it's been a long and difficult journey. The following tips are what I've learnt from my education experience, and how I've coped with a huge workload after school and outside of university lectures to succeed.

Read, read & read
Honestly, I have a very on/off relationship with reading but whenever I get into it I really notice a difference. It's inspiring and thought provoking. I used to read like crazy during the summer holidays and I actually think it stopped me going a little crazy when I didn't have a structured school timetable. Even reading the news and being up to date with what was happening around the world really supplemented my general knowledge and ability to participate in class.

Attend lectures and take notes
One thing I did throughout university was attend pretty much all my lectures, regardless of how tired or hungover I was. Me and my buddy Zoe would trudge to our 9am's and make sure we were there, keeping each other accountable. We didn't just sit there though- I found it very difficult to take in all the information that was often being reeled off by the lecturer. We took plenty of notes and made sure to catch up if we missed a lecture for some reason. When I found a topic particularly difficult,I re-read and sometimes re-wrote up my notes to try and get a grasp of a subject. This became really useful when it came to exams as I had a set of notes to go with the lecture slides that I could revise with.

Participate in group discussions and seminars
This is actually something I really struggled with (and still do) today. I find that the best way I learn is through discussion and interaction with others, but anxiety often got in the way of me participating in class. At Masters level I found it a little easier and found actually many other people were anxious in class. However, I do recall one class where my anxiety was through the roof every week (to the point where I would absolutely dread the class the following week after I'd just finished that week's class) and I didn't mutter one word throughout the whole term. Whilst this was poor of me, everyone in the class was on a different course (and had previous knowledge of the module we were doing of which I did not) and I found them extremely difficult to be in a room with. What was worse was knowing that everyone thought I had absolutely nothing of value to say and that I was frankly, stupid. If you ever feel like this, I highly recommend going to see the tutor running the class and tell them that you're struggling with the seminar environment. The tutor never did any group work or discussion (so I didn't manage to build any friendships in the class where everyone else knew each other), made us do individual presentations each week (which in theory I don't oppose but for me this was terrifying) and had absolutely no understanding how the class made me feel. If i'd have explained and asked her to do group work i'm sure i'd have been way more comfortable in the class as well as getting a lot more out of it apart from being worried all the time! I ended up getting a distinction in that essay for the module much to my tutor's surprise, but being part of the discussion would have really eased me a little into the class.

Bring notes to discussion and seminar classes
The anxiety I have over being the centre of attention made it difficult to speak in classes, however I found that bringing notes from my reading and research really helped me participate in discussions. It took the stress away from being nervous about the point I was making as well as helping me take away more knowledge and learning from seminars. I also found making a goal of participating once in seminars to really help build my confidence up to a point where I was better able to make use of class discussions.

Surround yourself with other people who want to do well
University has the advantage of putting a great mix of different people together. I've always been lucky in that I've had friends that have wanted to achieve and do well for themselves, so have had an interest in working hard, but I have witnessed some groups of people who spent the whole time at university going out and doing minimal work for their degree. Whilst some people can pull it off, I would have majorly failed if i'd have taken this path. Throughout second and third year in particular, I surrounded myself with people who wanted to get a good degree. Afifah was my trusty library buddy who also found working at the library was beneficial to her, and we also went to the gym together to have some chill out time. Sam was also my trusty housemate who i'd go to the library with on a Saturday morning with a flask of tea. My course mates also would spend a lot of time in the library doing their assignments and dissertations. Yes we messed about and had a lot of library breaks, but we also did a lot of work and we all did well because we put in the effort to supplement lectures and seminars.

What tips do you have for self study at school and university?

Recipe: Autumn Apple Upside Down Cake

A perfect recipe for a cold Autumnal day is this autumn apple upside down cake. It turned out surprisingly well and was a nice mid-week treat. I used some apples a neighbour had given us from their apple tree but any cooking apples will do fine. Normally we use our own apples as me and Mr. Nomad pick them from a local tree in the village, but we have stripped the tree bare so being given these was the perfect excuse to get baking! 

Autumn Upside Down Apple Cake

Yield: 9

  • 76g (1/3 cup) butter, cut up
  • 73g (1/3 cup) packed brown sugar
  • 6 small cooking apples (or equivalent), halved, stems removed, cored
  • 180g (1 1/3 cups) self-raising flour (I used Doves Farm gluten free) OR equivalent of plain flour and some baking powder
  • 134g (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 160ml (2/3 cup) milk (I used koko coconut milk, but you can use any)
  • 57g (¼ cup) butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla essence or almond essence

1. Preheat oven to 350F / 180c. Place the 76g (1/3 cup) of butter in a baking tin roughly 9x9x2. Place it in the oven for 5 minutes or until the butter melts. Take it out and sprinkle brown sugar over the melted butter; stirring until it’s all mixed in. Arrange some of the apple halves in the mixture with the cut side of the apple down. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the sugar is bubbling.

2. Whilst that is in the oven, peel the remaining apples and then shred them with a grater then set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, ginger and cinnamon. Add the grated apple, milk, 57g (¼ cup) of butter, an egg and vanilla or almond extract. Mix these together well until all combined. At this stage it won’t look very appetising but it will be good I promise! Once the sugar is bubbling in the tray in the oven, take it out and spoon the cakey mixture over the apples evenly. Some butter may be exposed but don’t worry about this.

3. Bake for 35 minute or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges and invert onto a platter (I used two chopping boards either side of the tin to make it come out without breaking). Cool for 20 minutes and serve! Perfect with ice cream or yogurt.

I made a gluten-free version by using Doves Farm gluten-free flour, and I used coconut milk instead of milk.

What autumnal treats have you been enjoying this November?

Travel Guide: Scotland Snapshot

When planning a trip to Scotland, it's actually really difficult to choose where to go. Although it's quite small, the distances between things are quite large and often require ferries. We took advice from both my dad who has motorbiked around Scotland for decades, as well as a mixture of TripAdvisor and general research. We had a fairly short time frame as we wanted to do the trip on a budget, so didn't reach the far North of Scotland or any of the islands as the ferries were quite pricey- but one day i'd love to go back there and do these. However, we still had a really good time and managed to find some great places to go, and all for free! Our main checkpoints for the trip were to explore the Scottish countryside and visit Edinburgh. We managed to do both of these and drop in to see my sister at the University of Durham on the way home.

Top 5 Attractions & Activities

1. Driving and exploring the Scottish countryside and lochs
This was actually my favorite thing to do in Scotland. True to Scotland's reputation, it was raining the majority of the time we were there so unfortunately we didn't get any good photos due to how dark and miserable it was, but the scenery remained stunning. None of our photos did it justice at all. We actually saw an Audi set that were clearly filming an advert around Loch Long.

Loch Long
Loch Long
2. Edinburgh Old and New Towns
Edinburgh was a funny place; it has a nice historic feel about it but I also found it quite cold with all the granite around the city. As we've lived in York for the past year, i actually think i preferred it in York but we still liked Edinburgh. We didn't end up going to the castle as the entrance fee was expensive, but we just enjoyed walking around the place. We also visited the obligatory Elephant House where J. K Rowling wrote much of the Harry Potter series.

Edinburgh City
View from Edinburgh Castle
The elephant house
The Elephant House
3. Poltalloch Estate & Church
This was a slightly strange one that i found on Pinterest. As a teenager me and friend were interested in urbexing (exploring abandoned buildings- not as strange as it sounds!) and taking photos and this place had a great history to it without all the usual security issues to contend with. We had a bit of trouble finding it as we had to drive through fields (which to us non-country folk felt a bit weird) and driving through private access ways, but the locals were really friendly and were happy to show us where to go reach the estate and church. You obviously have to be wary when walking around this place, but essentially it's an old manor house and gardens in which the roof was burnt down in order to avoid paying housing tax on it. It was fun to explore around and was a great bit of history. To get there is slightly difficult, but feel free to email me and i'll give you in depth directions!

Poltalloch Estate
Poltalloch Estate
Poltalloch Estate
4. National Museum of Scotland
We spent a good amount of time here, and would really recommend it to people with children as there's lots of interactive things to see and do including probably the best wildlife gallery we've ever visited. The building itself is a lovely bit of architecture and adds to the experience of exploring around the vast number of galleries.

National Museum of Scotland
5. Falkirk
Falkirk seems to be a hub of great places to visit, so was an unmissable location on the drive down to Edinburgh. The Falkirk Wheel is on a canal and instead of using the traditional lock system, uses a rotating wheel to move canal boats down to the next level of the canal. Parking was expensive, but you can watch the wheel for free, as well as walking up to the Antonine Wall (a stone and turf fortification built by the Romans before Hadrians Wall). We also visited Helix Park, the home to The Kelpies- 2 massive horse structures commemorating the heavy horse of industry and economy of the area.

Falkirk Wheel

The Kelpies
We actually had a lot of trouble finding somewhere good value for money in the West area of Scotland, but fell across The Village Inn; a B&B style accommodation but what felt like a hotel.  We paid £40 a night including breakfast and the room was really homely as you can see below. The bathroom also had a bath overlooking Loch Long which i definitely utilised!

The Village Inn, arrochar, scotland
The Village Inn, Arrochar

In Edinburgh we stayed outside of the city and got the bus in like many people recommended on TripAdvisor, as with a car it can be problematic and expensive. As we'd managed to find such a good deal at The Village Inn, we splurged a little in staying at The Capital Hotel but we thought it was also really good value for money. It was about £70 a night including a 3 course meal for two, but the rooms were huge, and also had a spa/pool/gym facility we used. The restaurant at the hotel- The Westview- also accepted the Taste Card (which allows you 2for1 or 50% off food bills) so we ordered dinner one night to the room as it was so good the previous night.

Edinburgh Capital Hotel
The Capital Hotel, Edinburgh

Where do you recommend or want to go in Scotland?

Savvy Student: 10 Ways to have more money as a student

1. Work before going to university and utilise your long summer before term begins. Getting a summer job or organising employment before getting to university can really reduce the worry of overspending, especially during freshers week. I had a gap year before attending university and worked part-time for half a year before going travelling. After travelling I still ensured I had a cushion of money in my bank account should I need it during university.

2. Budget before going to university and have a grasp on how much you have. In the UK, this normally consists of a tuition fee loan, maintenance loan, maintenance grant, any other bursaries or scholarships and of course any money you personally have. The key to making a sensible budget is to remember that a loan is  a loan, and not just free money. Work out how much money you have each week to play with, and come up with a suitable budget that leaves you with enough on the side for leisure activities, but that also saves a little bit in case there are any unexpected expenses. University is so expensive now that minimising the amount of debt you rack up is important whilst still making sure you enjoy yourself. These budgeting skills will help you so much when you leave education too.

3. Don't get sucked into bank freebies when choosing a student bank account. It's very easy to choose the closest bank to you, or the one offering freebies but make sure to do your research. Many of my friends dipped into their overdraft whilst at uni, so assess if this is something you're likely to do. If so, make sure you go for the biggest 0% overdraft bank account possible in case you run into money troubles. Ask yourself does the freebie such as a railcard make it worth getting a lower percentage bank account if you're likely to go into your overdraft? For some it is, and for others having a bigger overdraft is a necessity.

4. Learn how to cook and skip the ready meals as they're really expensive! Buying big batches of rice, pasta etc etc makes it a lot cheaper to eat as well as being way healthier.

5. Be shopper savvy and shop around for things. In third year me and my housemate Sam would often buy fruit and veg from the local market (which was waaaaay cheaper than any supermarket) and divide up things like big bags of peppers as we were both addicted to roast vegetables. And don't shy away from places like Poundland for basics like shampoo and kitchen roll!

6. Consider getting a part-time job to fund your student lifestyle. I actually didn't spend a lot of money at all at university, however I did have a car and insurance to pay and my maintenance grant wasn't all that big. I got a part-time job and worked only Sundays and the occasional evening and managed to pay for my weekly outgoings with it. During the summers I babysat when I was on holiday to fund petrol money and the cost of the ferry to France so I wasn't delving into my savings. I know a lot of my friends didn't have jobs during university, but they were able to ask for money when they needed it. Keeping as financially independent as possible is actually a really good lesson to learn at university and it prepares you for the "real world" afterwards.

7. Pre-drink and get water when you're out, trust me it saves so much money, as well as a hangover! I'd spend £4 on wine for predrinks and wouldn't have to spend anything else for the night. Tap water is always free in clubs, and they have an interest in making sure everyone keeps hydrated!

8. Ditch the fast food on the way home from a night out and have something you can munch on when you're at home ready. I often had chips in the freezer ready to cook when I got home which would also make me remember to down a pint of water! Some of my friends loved having toast, so would have that when they got in.

9. Share clothes instead of spending all that loan on the latest fashion pieces. Dresses and accessories often got circulated throughout our friendship group which saved a lot of money- especially on things you would only wear a few times.

10. Don't buy textbooks, just get them in the library. I had instances of people running to the library to get the books before everyone else, but with some books going for £20+ a pop, its worth the sweat! I became much better at this by my third year at uni, and often got the books out at the beginning of term ready to write my assignments as i knew once the deadlines started approaching there would be a mad rush for them.

What are your student money saving tips?

Feminist Role Models

Thinking of feminist role models was actually really challenging, but for all the right reasons. I'm surrounded by women who constantly inspire me, and really, all women are my role models, because lets be honest, we face a lot of shit. However, the women who inspire me the most are the ones that have gone above and beyond to speak out, often at their own expense, or who completely break the stereotype of acceptability for whatever reason. Whilst I could have written an extensive list of different women, I've listed 4 women who represent a different kind of inspiration to me.

Emma Watson- the one I've grown up with
An unsurprising choice in light of her UN speech introducing the heforshe campaign, but I've always taken a likening to Emma since being compared to her as a child (I think it was the eyebrows). She's an advocate for education which I really love as someone who wholeheartedly believes that knowledge equates to power. She stood up for Hermione's character stating how she admired that throughout Harry Potter, she never dumbed herself down as a female. Whilst she's arguably a little 'up there' to relate to, she has utilised her position in a positive way and I enjoy having someone similar in age who is interested in equality to follow.

Lara Croft- the one that shaped me as a child
Perhaps an odd (and maybe controversial) choice but one I've grown up aspiring to be like. I like how she's sporty and sexy. I grew up loving football and my favorite thing to do was play outside with all the boys. I was known as the "tomboy"; the one "who was actually good at guy things". When I wasn't outside playing football and being mocked for not playing with Polly Pockets and Barbies, there was something refreshing about playing as a woman on Tomb Raider. Lara Croft was responsible for my combat trousers but also the idea that in my head it was okay to be good and enjoy what boys did. I could be, dare I say it, attractive and sporty, and being good at football made me no less of a girl. Since becoming more interested in how inequality can affect children, I've found A Mighty Girl- a website where you can buy toys for 'smart, confident and courageous girls'- awesome! 

Cynthia Enloe- the one that has influenced me as a scholar
Cynthia is a feminist writer in International Relations who first raised feminism as a big issue to me in my field of research, and someone who made me realise why had feminism only been addressed in my degree at postgraduate level when it is such a developed area of research? Of course we all know inequality exists, but Cynthia made me aware of the inequality within my own research field of international security on a much bigger scale, and in ways I had never thought of. Her studies are really interesting- from a focus on different cultures re-instilling their subjugation to the invisibility of women to how bodies such as the military and the UN reinstill inequality through male dominance. She's also written a lot about ideas of masculinity and femininity- being judged as feminine based on a judgement of an issue or that an individual's own relationship to masculinity shapes what issues are important to them. She has made me realise just how important gender is within my own research discipline and how evolving such research is so important when I eventually pursue my PhD.

My Grandma- the one that reminds me I can when i feel i can't
A personal choice but one who defies the limitations expected of her as a female growing up. She did above and beyond what many thought impossible and ludicrous with the attitude of "can do". Excelling throughout school academically and in sports (and therefore has always been very supportive of me playing football), she worked for the secret services throughout WW2 surrounded by men who were paid significantly more due to their sex, using the Enigma machines that cracked German codes. However, working for the Government she subsequently got to travel the world after the war (I think my wanderlust can be partly blamed on her!) and she gained a lifetime of stories and experiences. She then went on to driving a car when it was thought quite frankly, ridiculous, and then became a teacher. She demonstrated a zest for life regardless of the limitations put on her.  

Join the F Word Monthly link up hosted by Elle & Kiersten

Who are your feminist role models?

New Domain!

This is just a little post to say Nomad Notebook has officially moved to! Although i haven't written many posts in the last couple of months, I've really enjoyed getting back into blogging and getting a domain was the next step for me. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything has moved across okay.

My Top 5 Travel Websites

1. Airbnb
Me and Mr Nomad love airbnb- a website where people rent out their homes for people to stay in. We have used it multiple times in different countries and have loved the ability to have a whole house with a kitchen (which saves us from eating out). It's also really nice to be surrounded by someone else's belongings like books; it really gives it a personal touch.  This is our go-to when it comes to finding accommodation when we are planning a trip away. There are some real bargains, especially in big cities where you pay a premium for hotels, or in remote locations that often lack hotels. You can sign up now and get a $28 off your first stay through mine and Mr Nomad's referral code

An example of a place we stayed in Ffestiniog, North Wales. Such a cute 2 bed-roomed cottage and only £35 a night.

Tripadvisor is another places we always check before we head to a restaurant, attraction or hotel. Whilst a restaurant may claim it is the best in the area, what do people who go actually make of it? Does a hotel actually look like the pictures that are on the website? Are there any tips when booking a hotel like asking for a room on the third floor with a view? Tripadvisor assists you with all of these questions. We have got into the habit of reviewing most hotels and restaurants we go to, ensuring we give credit where credit is due but also highlighting any improvements that can be made. 

Pinterest? I hear you ask, but yes- I always check here before we go somewhere. There's been a few places we discovered as a result of mooching on pinterest. Just make sure you check the places that are linked are accurate. For example, some pins have dead links or actually display somewhere very different to what the caption says. 

The Kelpies, Falkirk in Scotland. We found out about these via Pinterest.
The best place I have found to find flights. This website compares and finds the cheapest flights to wherever you search, displaying accurate and reliable deals. Many sites displaying flight deals are out of date which can be so infuriating. Also with skyscanner there is the ability to view a whole month rather than putting in specific dates which is really handy if you're not restricted by particular dates and want to find the cheapest available flights within a month time period.

If airbnb fails, then has been the best site for finding accommodation. Generally their rates are cheaper than others, but I do double check to make sure. 

Do you use any of these sites? What travel websites do you recommend? 

Living with... Coeliac Disease

Living with coeliac disease

This is part 1 of a ‘living with…’ series. Coeliac disease is something that’s becoming more and more common as more diagnoses are made, with the NHS stating 1 in 100 people have the condition. Luckily I was diagnosed when i was 7, so I've been able to adapt my lifestyle from a pretty early age.

What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition (not to be confused with an allergy or intolerance- but thank you so much to the media who have encouraged such conflation...) as a reaction to gluten. When eating gluten, the body's defence against infection mistakenly attacks healthy tissue due to it thinking gluten is a threat to the body. Normally it damages the small bowel (intestines) disrupting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food causing a variety of problems.

coeliac disease villi
Gluten destroying my villi since 1991. Source
My mum noticed very early on some of the effects of coeliac disease had had on me. I was visibly malnourished and looked like a child on a African charity advert with the very visible symptoms of malnutrition- bloated stomach whilst the rest of my body looked like it was wasting away. I was constantly covered in bruises due to a lack of vitamin K and was a very anxious and tired child. Furthermore, I would have stomach cramps and vomit on a regular basis and felt generally unwell all the time. Whilst these were my main symptoms that something wasn't right, the NHS list the following symptoms as key to diagnoses:
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia 
I feel like one of the main aims of this post is to raise awareness of the disease. Whilst my mum knew something was wrong and took me to the doctors, they quickly dismissed anything was wrong and instead blamed it on the vegetarian diet I had been brought up on (I was vegetarian from birth). Obviously this was quite upsetting for my mum as she was always very wary and conscious to give me a well-balanced diet. Further down the line, my symptoms prevailed and my mum decided to get a second opinion. After having my blood tests analysed they came back inconclusive which meant having an biopsy via endoscopy. As a child patient the endoscopy was really easy. I was asleep when they did it and it was basically a breeze until the nurses offered me toast after i'd woken up again... oh the irony. Many years later I had an endoscopy for another condition I have without being put to sleep and just under a local anesthetic, so I can say I've lived to tell the tale both asleep and awake. Whilst this wasn't the most pleasant experience, it was okay. I feel this part is really important- whilst times have changed and doctors are much more wary about coeliac disease, if you believe there is something not right, please keep seeking help until you are satisfied.

Lifestyle Change
After confirming I had coeliac disease, I have ever since been on a gluten-free diet. Whilst it was a struggle at first finding out what I could and couldn't eat, bearing in mind i'm also a vegetarian, it has become something of a second nature to me. There are so many hidden ingredients that contain gluten in processed foods that the easiest way to keep gluten-free is to eat clean and healthy.

The worst thing really is the dismissive approach many people have to it. Firstly this is not an intolerance, it is a autoimmune disease. And yes, it does matter that the recipe has 'only a few drops of soy sauce in'. Some studies have shown that 1/145th of a slice of bread can seriously affect a coeliac. Same goes for cross-contamination. The media have really latched onto the gluten-free fad for people trying to lose weight or who have a slight intolerance, and this has proved a big problem as people lack an understanding of what being gluten-free entails for coeliacs- it means 100% eliminating gluten. And what it means when someone eats gluten can be completely detrimental to both their physical and mental health for a prolonged period of time. I noticed my anxiety and fatigue were significantly increased if my diet came into contact with gluten, and i felt generally unwell for a prolonged period of time. And this is just me- some people have it a hell of a lot worse.

The unwanted attention is also an annoyance. To be honest, I've learnt to just be self-sufficient in being able to provide food for myself at dinner parties or to just stick to plain old salads when i go out to eat. When friends or family say "well where can YOU eat?", it makes me feel like a complete spanner. I'd quite frankly order a bowl of vegetables whilst everyone was tucking into pizza than have this question thrown at me every time we go out to eat. I dislike attention at the best of times!

I had coeliac disease before it became a trend
Gluten Free Food
I’m actually not a huge fan of the gluten-free food you can buy in supermarkets. The same goes for vegetarian versions of meat. They're often very processed and have a lot of preservatives in (whilst also costing an arm and a leg) which is such a shame. I’m planning on writing a post on my favourite gluten-free foods you can buy, but I mainly stick with basic things like pasta, and flours to make pizza bases etc. Pasta is probably one of the few things that I don’t mind buying from the gluten free section as it's not too expensive and it's useful when i need a quick meal. Generally though I prefer to stick with naturally gluten free food, or just stick with vegetable alternatives. One thing I am looking forward to getting though is the Udi's Mince Pies, they are amazing!

But wait, so you cant eat gluten OR meat… what DO you eat?!
The initial reaction to everyone I tell about my dietary requirements, which can sometimes be annoying. Gluten isn't in everything, and neither is meat! There’s so many things out there you can eat, and without gluten or meat they're often healthier for you- so whilst it may be annoying, it does have its benefits. There are many grains that are gluten free with quinoa and brown rice being two of my favourites. Restaurants are generally a lot more clued in than they ever have been with gluten free items often being circled on menus, and some restaurants even offer gluten free pasta, pizza etc. I will endeavor about making a post about the best restaurants I have been to that cater for coeliacs. 

Do you or anyone you know have coeliac disease? Do you have any foods that you have to avoid?

My 90's Childhood

Reminiscing about my 90's childhood is one of my favorite things to discuss. I've even got a Pinterest board dedicated to remembering my childhood! I've decided to compile a list (mostly for my own nostalgic gratification) of the things I particularly enjoyed or remember during my childhood. Please share with me the things that you remember from when you were growing up!

Glitter batons, tamagotchis, beanie babies, polly pockets, yoyos, adjustable fisher price roller-skates, water ring games, velcro catch game, blo pens, bumble balls, gel pens, MASH writing game, viewmaster, cats cradle, French skipping, hit clips, slinkys, pogs, gooey aliens, fashion plates, post office toy, ballerina jewelry boxes, fun fax, screwball scramble, my beloved Gameboy b&w, art sets. 

Glitter Batons, Fisher Price Skates, Fashion Plates, Gooey UFO, Ballerina Jewelry Box, Screwball Scramble, Viewmaster.
TV Programmes
X change, round the twist, smart, kerching, the queens nose, the demon headmaster, recess, rugrats, the wild thornberrys, sweet valley high, mona the vampire, the lampies, the ghost hunter, fun house, the moomins, SM:tv live. 

Baby-g watches, choker necklaces, snap bracelets, scrunchies, flares, lunch boxes, jelly shoes, braids, puffy paint for drawing on t shirts, temporary tattoos, clarks shoes, dungarees, bandannas, butterfly clips, tearaway popper tracksuit bottoms.

Baby-G Watch, Rainbow Brite Lunchbox, Butterfly Clips, Teraway Popper Tracksuit Bottoms, Scrunchies, Clarks Lightup Shoes, Snappers.
Whistle pops, pringle holders, bubble tape, party rings, sunny D, white aeros (really want these back), fruit roll-ups, um bongo, turkey twizzlers, curly fries, caramel apple pops, cereal with toys in, extra dissolving mint strips, fruit salad sweets, wham bars, pingu ice cream, taz chocolate bars, chocolate cigarettes, BN biscuits, skips, discos, sour polos, hubba bubba, cherry drops, wagon wheels, wonkas exploding chocolate (really want these back too!).
Tomb raider, roller-coaster tycoon, theme hospital. The sims, wolfenstein, theme park world, Kid Pix, Aladdin, red alert, prince of persia

See-through telephones, inflatable chairs/backpacks/everything, bath oil beads (loved the way these looked/felt!).

Does anyone else remember these?! What things do you remember from your childhood?