Oh God, Britain

You have probably read in the news somewhere that last week the U.K. voted to leave the EU by a slim majority. It’s a big deal, not just affecting us Brits but the rest of the EU member states and even the world. I won’t go into the details of why I think the leave decision is a terrible idea (I voted remain, and I’m both gutted and terrified for my nation’s future). It’s been hotly debated for months now, but here we are with a decision that has left many feeling the same as me.

What I am going to rant about is what on earth has been going on since the result came through. Safe to say, nobody really knows. To sum it up quickly: the value of the pound has plummeted, our Prime Minister has resigned, nobody wants to take his job because it’ll be political suicide apparently, the shadow cabinet are blaming their leader Jeremy Corbyn for the Brexit result and want him to step down, and people are angry that the promises from the Leave campaigners are already broken. There’s a petition for a second referendum because some leave voters didn’t expect voting leave would cause us to actually leave the EU. Oh and Scotland, Northern Ireland and even Gibraltar are threatening various levels of independence.

In other words, British politics is a mess. It makes you wish we could just pretend this referendum never happened. But sadly is has happened, and although it’s not legally binding on parliament it’s safe to say it will probably have to be seen through. Britain has to negotiate a leaving deal with the EU (fyi the leave supporters basically want the same access to the single market and all the other benefits of the EU but without paying into the EU and accepting immigrants, so wish us luck). The next two years look messy and uncertain, and in the meantime we have to wait and see what the lasting impact will be on the economy and our welfare.

So that is how British politics has reacted to the referendum result, but what about the people?

This perhaps scares me even more than the politics. A lot of the British public are horrified, and are desperately clinging to any notion that we can reject the result and stay in the EU. Others are calling for unity after the country has been divided over this issue, and ensuring the fairest leaving deal possible. But there has been a worrying growth in reports of racist and xenophobic attacks against not just EU immigrants in the UK, but immigrants and ethnic minorities in general. I cannot deny there has always been a far right presence in the UK that has been hostile and even viscous towards anyone who isn’t white and British. Although it has been loud and often gets the media attention it wants, it has never represented a vast majority of the population. However this referendum has seemingly made it acceptable in some people’s eyes to become open about their xenophobia, and everyone from working adults to schoolchildren are being told to “go back to where they came from”.

This has to stop.

I used to have a feeling of pride towards being British (albeit always wary of the far right xenophobic attitudes some disguise as “British pride”). We are a socially awkward nation who obsess too much over tea and the weather, spend our lives queuing, and our literature boasts some of the greatest and most popular from Shakespeare to J.K. Rowling. We would go out of our way to avoid seeing someone forever rather than just admit to their face we don’t like them – just one example of how we overly complicate our lives to avoid turning any social situation from mild to intense. Mild is a good word to describe us: mild mannered, mild weather, even our nation’s dishes are mild in flavour (but delicious, I assure you).

Until now of course, now we’ve completely lost the plot.My pride has gone, but I’m hoping it will come back again. Those who boast of British pride, who think this Brexit will make Britain “Great Britain” again, are the ones who make me ashamed. No, not every one of them is a xenophobe, but it cannot be denied it’s the xenophobes who are using “British pride” to justify their racist abuse. How someone can be proud of a nation that turns its back on those who come here for opportunities, or worse attack them, who believes that being born British is a right not a privilege, who would rather a narrow minded, backwards looking nation than one that is beautifully diverse and multi-cultural is beyond me. The Britain I am proud of is the one that embraces all cultures to live safely and freely within our tiny island, who voted for a Muslim to be mayor of our cosmopolitan capital after he faced an Islamophobic campaign against him, where schoolchildren do not just learn about Christianity but all religions, and is a nation that people aspire to live in not just because of the opportunities their home country perhaps does not give them, but because they can come here, live here, and feel safe and part of our community. But I fear that this Britain is disappearing. It’s not been a week since the result, so everything happening at the moment is reactionary and not necessarily long lasting. But it’s worrying that it’s happening.

Like I said, our politics is currently a mess. The people we elected need to sort themselves out, and sort our nation’s political and economic stability out. (I think that sentence best explains why I am not, nor will I ever be, a political adviser). But I am not writing this about what I think Britain’s politicians should do, because I don’t have an answer to that. I am writing this with my thoughts on what the British public should do. We need to stand strong against the xenophobia that is erupting within the nation, and to counteract it and ultimately stamp it out. If you’re reading this, and you’re not a British citizen, I can assure you most of us want to welcome you with open arms whether you’re a tourist or an immigrant. I can only apologise for what impression you may have of the U.K. at the moment. Us British folk, we cannot let any incidents of xenophobia slide. We need to protect those in danger, and make them feel safe. I’m currently looking at a Britain I am not sure if I want to be a part of, but I’ll be ashamed to let my nation fall victim to the far right idiots, and turn my back and pretend there isn’t a British coat of arms on my passport. Instead of ignoring a problem, people need to unite to stare it in the face. It won’t go away unless people remain active and refuse to accept these attacks. To me, British pride should come from what the nation achieves in the modern day, the empire is for the history books.

Advertisements

Places to Go: Current Travel Bucket List

we travel

Nearly a year ago I wrote this post about travel destinations I am super keen to visit. I have visited zero of them (whoops), but they are still my top destinations I am determined to visit in my life. However some of these are still quite fanciful, due to money/time/difficulty to make the trip. So I also have a list of destinations that are a little more realistic in achieving sooner rather than later!

Nordic Countries

Specifically Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland. Y’know, the expensive ones… Whilst Iceland was on my previous list, the idea of travelling across all five countries gets my adrenaline pumping! Each country offers beautiful cities and absolutely stunning landscape to explore – the mixture of city streets and cafes combined with hikes into the wild promises an unforgettable trip I should say!

Canada

I have a friend who emigrated there last year with her family, and although I was saving up to try and visit this summer, life (aka health) got in the way and instead the only trips I’m doing are ones to the hospital for blood tests and the like. But less of the woe is me, I’m still hoping to one day get out there when I can trust myself on a long haul flight (and providing I find the right travel insurance). Canada sounds great: friendly, fun, and although I’ve visited the U.S.A many times it would be something special to see a whole other side to North America. Especially if I see a moose.

Lisbon

I’ve never visited Portugal, which I think is crazy. It seems to be often forgotten about in favour of Spain, but offers a whole new culture and history I’m sure is well worth exploring. I don’t know a lot about Lisbon, but to me it sounds like a great, modern European city: fun, hip and welcoming. I bet it’s the perfect travel destination for a long weekend of fun, culture and booze with friends!

Berlin

Another European country I have never visited and am slightly cross with myself for that fact. My dad often says to me “You’ll like Berlin”, and after nearly 22 years of watching me grow to being nearly as tall as he is, I suppose he knows me quite well (not that I always listen to his advice). However even without having visited this city yet I can already see why: its story, its people, its vibe, and the fact that it is popular with the hipsters. I’m dying to check out actual German markets in actual Germany, so maybe a Christmas trip should be on the cards…

Elephant Sanctuary

Where? I haven’t decided yet, but reading up on spending a week volunteering in an Elephant Sanctuary in either Thailand or Sri Lanka sounds amazing. Even if it will be spent cleaning up their poo… From what I’ve read it sounds like the safer side of voluntourism – the kind that does help rather than hinder. I’ve had an obsession with elephants since I was little and this seems like the safest, kindest way to interact with the magnificent beasts and make my inner child (and outer child tbh) squeal with joy.

 

Any tips for any of these destinations? I would like to have a couple crossed off maybe this time next year, but realistically I’m looking at the next two/three years (plus I get easily distracted and this list WILL expand).

The Alhambra

image

 

The Alhambra in Granada is one of the must see places if you ever visit the beautiful city. The Moorish influence of Spain is more prominent in the southern regions of the country than the north, and the Alhambra is an amazing example of this rich heritage.

Except tickets are in high demand, and I booked the trip to Granada a week before going. They recommend booking Alhambra tickets a month in advance. So I was unable to go inside this amazing building, hence why the polaroid is looking over from a distance. But it’s always an excuse to return!

Mindful Escapisms

019

When life can get you down, sometimes it’s a good idea to take the time to switch off from stress and worries. To reconnect with a happy state of mind and feel refreshed. Here are a few things I do when I’ve been sulking for too long and need to take a step back from feeling irritated. I’m not a yoga or meditating kinda person, so these are simple but effective things for anyone!

Property Shows

This is a weird one, but when I’m at my mums I find myself watching a lot of property shows. A Place in the Sun and Escape to the Country are great. TV shows like these I find are the best ones to switch off and escape with – no drama except whether a couple want open plan space or a large garden! Good to curl up with over lunch or a cuppa and think about which properties you would buy with your future infinite finances.

Little Tasks

These can be odd jobs around the house like cleaning a room or the washing up, or doing something productive (like me writing a post), but something that is not strenuous and easy to accomplish. The process will take your mind off things and having it complete afterwards will make you feel better about life.

Little Plans

Sometimes, to get through a bad day it’s a relief to have something planned later in the week, such as a meet up with friends. My mum always says “it’s nice to have something to look forward to”, and it makes sense. Looking forward to something helps keep you positive.

Future Plans

Even with little plans in the near future, it’s also good to think about long term and have bigger things to look forward to. Due to recent events I’ve had to forget my travel plans for this summer (boo), but there’s always next year (and now I’m looking at even more plans because who needs money).

Nap

If all else fails, take a nap. I always struggle with not napping too long and tend to wake up all groggy and feeling meh… but apparently 20 min naps or 60-90 min naps are the best, whereas 30 min naps are the worst.

Pamper

Everybody deserves even just an hour where they put their phone away, and dedicate time to their self. Bathe, shower, face mask, hair mask, shave, try out new make up. Whatever will make you feeling like a million dollars, even if you have no plans top step outside that day.

Positive Vibes

And by this I mean switch on some music, and nothing depressing or dramatic (trust me, from a former My Chemical Romance fan, I’m aware when music just makes you feel mad at the world to no advantage to yourself). But on some feel good tunes and enjoy. I like listening to musicals (Rent, Cats or Avenue Q are pretty upbeat…mostly), or the earlier stuff of Green Day!

Summer Clean

DSC_0426

I know that every year people get all excited for a “spring clean”, but personally spring has never been that for me. Whilst in education it’s always been a time of much stress, exams and deadlines so there was always little time to organise and sort ones life out. Plus these past couple of years spring time has seen my health at its worst so personally I think the season is cursed. Not to mention the weather is never what it promises to be – often it is still confused as to whether it is winter still or not, maybe through in the odd summer day but still thinks it’s better to rain throughout.

But summer is my favourite season. As a kid it meant holidays and my birthday. As an adult I just feel like the world is more positive during summer, people are happier, and everything has potential. And it signals change: there’s always something new to start in September so the months before are spent getting ready and building excitement (you can tell I’m still in student mode even after a year…)

So here are a few things that can help turn summer into a season of fresh changes, and feeling good about yourself!

Declutter

When my dad sold the house and I had to pack up my belongings, it felt so good to finally rid myself of all the useless garbage that had been filling my room for years. And by garbage I mean clothes, broken toys, ancient school books etc. As someone who has no idea where they’ll be living in the next few months or next year, I try to keep my necessary items to a minimum (which is hard…), so it’s good to also reduce all the material baggage I’ve left forgotten about at home. So to feel less tied down by stuff, have a good sort out and rid yourself of the things you don’t need anymore. And of course give the still usable stuff to charity or something, and feel good about doing a good deed!

Clean Eating

When the days are really warm I find myself craving chocolate and heavy meals less, and increasing my fruit and veg intake. Carbs still remain part of my world, because carbs are amazing. But it’s a good excuse to dive into the world of healthy eating more and snack and cook healthily, which is not just good for the body but helps the mind feel more active. The odd ice cream is allowed too of course.

Read

Going on holiday without a book is like going without sun cream. DON’T. (But less likely to cause cancer if you forget…) But you don’t need to be on holiday to soak up a good novel. Studying English literature meant I would spend September-June reading what I had to, and other novels I would buy for fun would be stored away on the bookshelf. So that meant come summer time I could read whatever I wanted, and it was great (probably should have spent more time reading in advance the next semester’s books but oh well). Reading is the best exercise for the mind, and are what lazy summer days are meant for.

Bit of Sunbathing

Enjoy sparingly, and make sure you’ve applied sun cream everywhere of course, but summer is unsurprisingly the best time to soak up vitamin D, which helps us stay in a good mood among other benefits to our health. In Britain we reportedly don’t get enough sunlight to keep our vitamin D levels up to a satisfactory level, so that’s the perfect excuse to spend lunch times outside.

Picnics with Friends

Or anywhere with friends. But there’s something fun about grabbing an assortment of snacks, rugs, and just enjoying watching the world go by. Some of my favourite days spent with friends are picnics in parks, from going to the castle in my home city to wandering over to the local park in London (where it seemed half of East London would gather on a sunny day). But it allows some much needed bonding time with friends, and a chance to put worries to the back of the mind and have fun!

(Dog) Walking

Walking can be enjoyed with or without a dog, but everything’s better with a dog. So if you don’t have one, grab one. (Offer to walk an elderly neighbours or borrow a friend’s or something, I shouldn’t encourage dognapping…) During the colder seasons dog walking can be a bit of a chore, as the weather is bad and my dog has a habit of getting mud all over me during this time. But when the weather is glorious it is so much better, and it’s heart warming to watch the dogs running about in their element, rather than hurriedly exercising them so you can return home and get warm again. Plus it’s easy exercise to get you out of the house and soaking up the sun.

Viaduct

image

The other day I went exploring the beautiful Yorkshire countryside with my mum and grandparents. This did also involve getting lost down some windy roads and getting up close and friendly with some cows…Yorkshire is great!

This is the last photo I took with some expired film I’ve had for ages. I’ve recently bought some of the new version of The Impossible Project’s colour film, which has improved quality so I’m very excited to get inspired!