To Edinburgh and Beyond!

To Edinburgh and Beyond!

At the beginning of May, my dad and I booked ourselves a trip to Edinburgh. We were there for a long weekend and found ourselves right in the middle of cherry blossom season. Princess Street, The Meadows, and many more sights were colored pink with all the cherry blossoms in bloom and it might have been the prettiest sight I have ever seen.

I honestly love anything that has to do with Scotland, and Edinburgh has stolen my heart. The people, the architecture, and the whole feeling to the city. What’s not to love?

I felt pretty gutted that I had decided against bringing my SLR camera after one day of walking around (and we walked a lot) because even though smartphones take good enough pictures, pictures taken with an SLR camera are just clearer and brighter than any picture I could take with my phone. Translation: the former picture will just have to do.

The objective

Those of you that follow me on Instagram might know this already, but we made the trip with a very specific goal. About half a year ago I was admitted into the MSc Publishing programme at Edinburgh Napier. The academic year starts in September and I needed a place to stay (preferably where cats were allowed, because this crazy cat lady is taking her cat with her). I scouted ahead and had two appointments scheduled during my 4-day stay. The rest of the time we could spend whatever way we wanted… and that we did!

The weekend

The weeks leading up to this weekend were quite stressful. Something to do with life handing you lemons, as I was handed a lot of them. However, I got through them and on Friday, fresh out of work, I headed over to Schiphol (where my dad was waiting) and boarded the plane to Edinburgh. One flight and a taxi ride later we arrived at our hotel and I pretty much fell asleep a second after my head touched the pillow.

Fast forward to the next morning, where we woke up to 20-degree weather (say what?) and the whole day ahead of us. If I had to sum up our trip in just one sentence, it would be something along the lines of ‘lots of walking and good food.’ But that wouldn’t do the trip justice, of course, so prepare for a (slightly) more detailed account.

The first morning we didn’t really have a plan and decided to just walk in the direction of Princes Street. Armed with a cup of coffee we headed into the direction of Princess Street and wandered through St. Cuthbert church cemetery. It offered a beautiful view of Edinburgh Castle and became our next destination. We didn’t go in, mainly because the line was ridiculously long, but we people watched for quite some time and just took in the sight of Edinburgh stretched out before us.

There was so much to see that we pretty much just wandered around the whole day. Beautiful weather, good food, plenty of museums, and a pitstop at Waterstones. That Saturday was the bomb!

On Sunday we visited the campus that I’ll be studying at, made a visit to Nelson’s monument, and had an apartment viewing. We were really early (as in two hours early) and because the apartment is right next to The Meadows, we spent the remainder of that time on the grass. Did I mention that The Meadows was fully decked out in pink? See for yourself!

We had our flight home on Monday, but we didn’t have to be at the airport until 5 pm. Wonder above wonder we actually did have a plan for that morning. We walked to Holyrood Park and climbed Arthur’s Seat. Now, I did this the last time I was in Edinburgh as well and it was one of my favorite activities. It takes about 30 minutes to climb to the top, and the view is so beautiful!

Fun fact: we almost added another day to the trip (that’s how relaxing it was), but alas, the next day it was back to work for the both of us!

What about that apartment?

When I returned home Monday evening I had an email waiting: the room was mine if I still wanted it. So not only did I spend a glorious weekend in Edinburgh that had me returning ultimately relaxed, it also resulted in me finding a place to stay for the upcoming academic year. The best part? Fury (the cat) is very welcome as well. I’d call that a win-win situation.

Have you ever been to Edinburgh (or Scotland)? Tell me about your experience!

November ’17 Recap: When Life Becomes a Blur, But You Still Read A Lot

November ’17 Recap: When Life Becomes a Blur, But You Still Read A Lot

This post recaps my month: my personal life, the fun and not so fun; books I’ve read; movies/ tv shows I’ve watched; and all other things worth mentioning.

This post is embarrasingly late… As in half a month late, but you know what they say: better late than never! November was all about finding the balance between working and everything else. Little breakdowns, fun moments, excitement before the holidays: November had it all in spades!

Three months, that’s how long I’ve been doing my work placement already! I’d like to say it’s been all roses and sunshine, but I like to be real with you and I’ve been struggling a bit with balancing my work and ALL the rest. I’m really enjoying my time at Overamstel Publishers. My internship is fun and I’ve really settled into my work, but outside of work, it’s been an effort to fit other things in.

The thing I found hardest during November (and even the two months before, I now realize) is that I barely find the time to go running or do my workouts. Not even just that, when I get home from work I feel so tired that I barely have the energy to cook a decent meal… and I love cooking! I think the main problem is that when I leave from home it’s still dark outside and when I leave work the sun has set already. If I want to go running I have to run through the city center in order for it to be safe. I normally run in the park right behind my apartment building, but to run in a park while it is dark outside just isn’t safe and I hate the alternative. It’s busy in the city center and SO MANY TRAFFIC LIGHTS where I have to stop.

I guess in a way, especially in the workout department, November disappointed me. I feel like I lost my dedication to running and working out, not even necessarily my dedication, it’s more like I lost all energy to do so and that gets to me. I want December to be different in that department.

Now, reading-wise life is pretty damn awesome. I talked a bit about it in my previous post: how working at a publishing house has developed my reading habits and the type of books I read. I read a LOT in November and an awesomely weird mix of books as well: I read some fantasy, an essay type non-fiction book, a memoir, a retelling. I love the reading I’ve done and I’m seriously hoping December will be just as awesome (just, you know, with some more workouts thrown in).

I have also been really active on Instagram and have been loving every second of it. I truly love photography and the more I do it the more I find myself developing my style even further. I am hoping to experiment some more photography wise in December. I even purchased a backdrop, which is a pretty big deal, considering I normally take all my pictures outside, haha.

I’ve been pretty horrid at keeping up with my own statistics, but as the books I’ve read (and the movies and tv-series I watched) have been pretty memorable I think I can provide you with a pretty good account.

Reading:

  1. The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine. (4/5). Review. If you’re into fairytales this one is a must read!
  2. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. (3/5). I had some pretty mixed feelings about this book, watch out for my review to find out what I thought!)
  3. Hunted by Meagan Spooner. (4/5). Beautifully crafted tale!
  4. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. (5/5). Reread… If possible I ended up loving it even more!
  5. Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas. (5/5). I FINALLY READ THIS, WHY DID I NOT READ THIS SOONER?!

I continued rereading the ENTIRE Throne of Glass series and am pretty pleased to say that I have finished them all and am currently halfway into Tower of Dawn.

Tv-series:

Shooter season 2, episode 5 – 8. I still love this show and *cough* the lead actor *cough*

The Gifted season 1, episode 1 – 8. This show is so good! Can’t wait for the next episodes (and the season finale!)

Hawaii 5-o, season 8, episode 1 – 8. I’m starting to think I have a thing for the number eighth, haha.

Movies:

A Christmas Prince. And guys, it was bad… so bad… I ended up laughing so hard because the entire movie was just so ridiculous.

Wonder Woman. Because I needed to watch this again to be reminded of the awesomeness that is this movie. IT WAS STILL GLORIOUS!

How did November treat you?

 

The Camino: 30 days, 775 kilometers

The Camino: 30 days, 775 kilometers

It has been more than a year since I walked the Camino. More than a year since I walked 775k for one whole month through hellish summer weather. Most friends call me insane for walking 775 kilometers in 30 days in full summer. I call it chasing your dreams and checking something, one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, off my bucket list. Last week I realized that I never really wrote a post about my experience and I desperately want to remedy this, because if there’s one thing worth sharing it’s this.

I think my Camino experience had it all, there was an abundance of good moments but, as expected with a hike that long, there were some really bad moments as well. I want to walk you through them and explain why even though there were quite some tears shed along the way I will go back and walk the Camino again in a few years time.

That first day was horrendous. We had to climb most of the way and instead of sunny weather, it was pouring rain. It was foggy, cold, and we were drenched after a few kilometers. Once we reached the top the realization set in that no matter how much you train, training in the Netherlands (where everything is flat) will never prepare you for that first day of climbing and going back down the Pyrenees. We were cold, tired, and our moods were pretty glum. You just gotta keep going, because there is literally nothing for miles. Regardless of the heavy snoring all around me, I slept like a baby that night. The next morning our clothes had barely had the chance to dry, but hey, it was dry!

It seemed we experienced a month’s worth of rain that first day because aside from a few drops of rain there was no more the remaining days of that month. The heat set after that and let me tell you, Spanish summers are HOT. There is a certain point that first week where you feel like you’re just going through the motions: wake up early, eat breakfast, walk, eat lunch, walk, check in at Albergue, shower, sleep, get groceries, eat dinner, sleep. When I had some spare energy I took the time to take in some of the local sights, but what I just summed up is mainly what an average day consisted off. You have to get used to the rhythm.

Some days you have excess energy, others you’re so tired you’re barely able to take in all the beauty surrounding you. A good night of sleep is essential. But the rhythm gets comfortable. You make friends, and although I walked with a friend from the very beginning, you never really walk alone. There’s always other people on the road. And believe me, you’ll make friends for life because you’ll never experience what you have experienced with them. While walking there’s really nothing else to do but talk. You learn new words in different languages, you’ll learn what moved them to walk the Camino. EVERYONE has a story to tell and that’s one of the fascinating things about the entire journey.

The picture on top of this post is taken at the 100-kilometer point. That point is so powerful! Knowing you’ve walked 675 and have 100 left to go. 100 kilometer is NOTHING when you’ve walked that far. The friend I started the Camino with actually twisted her ankle two days before we reached Santiago. The entire thing was awful, her ankle was swollen and hurting really bad (and the closest hospital is in Santiago…). We walked the rest of the day and visited a clinic. They recommended her to take some rest, but she bought a brace and walked those last two days. You might call it irresponsible, and maybe it was, considering her ankle sometimes still troubles her, but at that point not walking is just not an option. We finished and concluded that month by sharing an apartment that last night with the friends we’d made along the way.

I was bone tired and honestly believe that I have ever been that exhausted in my entire life. I said to myself that this was one of those things that I’d do once in my life, but never again. At the time I meant it with every fiber of my being. Time is sneaky though. It has a way of changing your perspective on things, and all the bad things about my entire Camino experience just seemed to fade over time.

The positive memories remain and that rhythm of walking, the simplicity of walking, I remember with fondness. Because that simplicity is what I wish I could go back to when the days get rough. When life gets stressful and you’re running around doing whatever you wish for that simplicity again. And THAT is why, when I finish my master’s degree, I’m going back to St. Jean Pied de Port in France and walking that 775k to Santiago again.

Have you had a similar experience?

 

September ’17 Recap: Start of Internship & 23rd Birthday!

September ’17 Recap: Start of Internship & 23rd Birthday!

This post recaps my month: my personal life, the fun and not so fun; books I’ve read; movies/ tv shows I’ve watched; and all other things worth mentioning.

I have no other word for September than ‘busy’. September carried so many new opportunities and experiences for me. It was tiring in many ways as new experiences usually are, but also incredibly exciting and fun! Let me recap it all for you.

September marked the end of my summer break and the start of my internship at Overamstel Publishers! I worked alongside my study, but I never worked a full-time job before, so I knew it was going to be challenging. What I didn’t quite expect was how much I was going to love everything about the internship. I have wonderful co-workers who are a joy to work with. I love being surrounded by books all the time as well as getting to know the ins and outs of the publishing trade. I’ve been working there for a month now and I learned so many different things and no event is the same, which is what makes them so much fun, to begin with.

As the post title states, I turned 23 this month! Unfortunately, I was sick on my birthday (the entire week actually…). I caught a sinus infection and felt miserable for most of the week, mainly because my asthma started bothering me as well, but luckily I was at home and my parents made an enormous effort to make me feel like a birthday girl.

September was also the month that I redesigned my entire blog (as you might have noticed, haha). I played around with the idea of this header for ages and finally, I asked Anna Lena from Finelinervreter to design it for me. She truly is an incredibly talented artist and did such a great job designing my new header! If you’re not familiar with her work I highly recommend checking out her Instagram and let yourself be inspired by her work!

Reading wise September was lots of fun! I started my reread of Eragon and I’m currently close to finishing the fourth and last book in the series. I should’ve reread this series so much sooner because I am HOOKED all over again! You can expect a very fun post on this topic on Thursday. Yes, you read that right, I am back to blogging baby! I am completely inspired and the posts are flowing out of my fingertips!

I splurged quite a bit on books this month. But hey, it was my birthday month, I’m allowed a little splurge every now and then (especially when it’s my birthday!). I bought Girls Made of Snow and GlassJane UnlimitedAn Enchantment of Ravens and If There’s No Tomorrow. I can’t wait to get cracking and read them all! I also started a book club! Which I will keep you updated about!

Working out wise this month started out GREAT! I ran two obstacle runs the same weekend: a 7k on 2 September and a 12k on 3 September. Then I got sick, but hey, I’m taking the time to get back to a 100% (my lungs are still not liking me, probably because of that hacking cough I couldn’t get rid of for two damn weeks) and I’ll be back running 12k’s in no time.


I haven’t really paid a lot of attention to keeping track of everything I’ve read, watched, and listened to this month, but I’ll do my best to list it all for you!

Reading:

  1. Eragon by Christopher Paolini. (5/5).
  2. Eldest by Christopher Paolini. (5/5).
  3. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. (5/5).
  4. Royally Screwed by Emma Chase. (3.5/5). This book was quite entertaining, to be honest.
  5. Paper Princess by Erin Watt. (2/5). For some bizarre reason I had to keep reading, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it at all…
  6. Broken Prince by Erin Watt. (2/5). I have some idiotic fixation wanting to know how this story ends, but still can’t say I enjoy the story.
  7. Twisted Palace by Erin Watt. (2/5). I AM A GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT… WHY?!
  8. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini – Currently reading.

Tv-series:

Shooter season 2, episode 1 – 4. I just realized I need to continue watching this! I wanted to wait until more episodes were available and then I forgot *gasps*.

Sleepy Hollow season 1, episode 1 – 5. Rewatching this! Yay!

Movies:

Do not laugh at me… I watched like three completely cheesy and REALLY BAD but terrifyingly enjoyable Hallmark Christmas movies #sorrynotsorry! I don’t even remember the titles, but they were so fun to watch because I could just shut off my brain and enjoy some good old chrismas themed rom coms!

 

Patience, Young Grasshopper: Instagram Tips and Tricks

Patience, Young Grasshopper: Instagram Tips and Tricks

It has been a while since I joined the #bookstagram scene and now I’ve settled into a comfortable Instagram routine I thought it would be fun to share some of my do’s and don’ts. I am in no way a professional or expert on Instagram, my follower count should tell you as much, nor do I know THE magic formula to grow your account. However, I do think that I have picked up on some things that might come in handy if you’re working on building your account.

Now, the main advice I was given when I started was: original content, good quality, and post consistently. Those are three very important things, but when you’re just starting out this might seem incredibly vague and just too broad. How can best be creative? What do you need to ensure good quality pictures? And, what helps you post consistently? I’ll share what I think those three things entail.

Original Content

The problem with original #bookstagram content is that when you first start out you have to find out what works for you. You see tons of people working with beautiful pictures that use tons of props and cool items and the first problem you’re going to run into is where to find all that stuff. Even more importantly, are you good with props? I hate using props… I love how much effort goes into those pictures, but whenever I try to incorporate them my pictures always become so messy. Props are just not for me.

I love working with nature. I love how clean my pictures look, the lush green and brown colors, and how nature does the work for you. My advice: try it all. Try working with props and try going outdoors with a big bag filled with books, but most importantly take lots of pictures. You’ll find something that works for you eventually and you’ll get better at it as well.

Good Quality

I can’t really tell you much besides what you probably already know about this. However, contrary to what you might think, you don’t need an expensive camera to take good quality pictures. If you own a good camera, great! If you don’t have one or can’t afford one, that’s fine. I bet you own a smartphone and one of those will do just fine. I know tons of amazing bookstagrammers that only work with their phone! Plus, there are tons of apps you can use to edit your pictures.

If you want to use props and/or take your pictures inside, you’ll need a good and even background/backdrop. You can simply find a spot with an even background in your house, but if not there are tons of shops online where you can find cool mini backdrops for a reasonable price. Or, if you’re creative you can fabricate one yourself. Just google it! You can have a marble-like or wooden backdrop, there’s something for everyone!

Post Consistently

Now this, I can help you with! It’s going to sound so logical and self-explanatory, but take pictures a week or month ahead. I used to take the picture I was going to post that day the morning itself, which was so counterproductive. Whenever I had something going on that day I often forgot to take a picture and thus had nothing to post that day. So, with a little help, I started taking pictures for an entire week ahead. I would take pictures every weekend (read: I’d drag a week’s worth of books to my parent’s house every weekend) and that way I was sure I would be able to post consistently.

Do you have trouble figuring out what you want to post about? It might be a good idea to join a #bookstagram challenge then! The challenge will provide you with a theme to post about and provides a fun way to meet new people by visiting and interacting with other people that use the same hashtag. It’ll also help you to stay creative! I have been participating in the #grimdragon challenge for about two months now and I love their daily challenges!

Remember, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily have to work for you, try different things and find out what works for you!

 

 

I’m Not Superwoman: It’s Okay When It Doesn’t Work Out

As my active lifestyle is a big part of this blog I think it’s important to share the highs as well as the lows with you. So today I want to share what’s going on workout-wise lately, or rather, how it hasn’t been working out for me the past month. As many of you might know, I pride myself on being active, on being a runner, and on my workouts in general because I enjoy them and they’re a big stress reliever. I even give the advice to people that when life get’s busy to keep making effort to do your workouts, because it helps deal with stress. I tell most people that, but when push comes to shove I guess I am crap at following my own advice… And you know what: that’s okay.

My workouts have NOT been working out for me the past two months. I still run, but you could call it sporadically at best, and my gym-time has pretty much cut back to zero hours a week. The cause? Three things: exams, deadlines, and life. I am currently finishing up my third year of university, and will, hopefully, graduate this year. The deadlines, my thesis, the finals… they had, and still have, me in its grip. Then, life got rough for me. I won’t bore you with the details, that’s not what this post is about, but let’s just keep it at the fact that I had a really hard time dealing with everything this past semester. With everything going on, and the added stress of deadlines and finals approaching had me increasingly stressed. My workouts went down the drain in no time.

As much as I loved working out, I did not have the time nor energy to spare. And, as I’ve slowly come to realize, that’s okay. It’s okay not to be superwoman. Sometimes you simply don’t have the time or energy to spare for workouts when there’s so much going on around you. I don’t have to be able to lift all the weight of what’s been happening on my shoulders while getting good results at university and have the time and energy to spare for working out three to four (or five) times a week. It took me a while to come to this conclusion. And truly, it is so important to realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a step back, nor is it ‘bad’ that I wasn’t as active in the gym as I normally am. Working out should, above all, be fun. Not a must. Not something to feel guilty about when you skip a day or two (or a month). You do it for you and nobody else.

It took me a while to come to this conclusion. And truly, it is so important to realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a step back, nor is it ‘bad’ that I wasn’t as active in the gym as I normally am. Working out should, above all, be fun. Not a must. Not something to feel guilty about when you skip a day or two (or a month). You do it for you and nobody else. So yeah, maybe I have been a slacker workout-wise, but hey, if slacking allowed me to keep up my grades while dealing with all that was happening around be then I am glad to have been one!

So far I have mentioned what has been going on, but what about what is going on. Well, luckily, I am doing a bit better. I made the deadlines (only a few left) and I had my last exam yesterday. Life is still not back to normal, but it is slowly getting there. I am planning on picking on my run training again today (starting with a comfortable 5k run) and might pick up HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) again because it goes very well in combination with running.

The good news is that I’m back to working out now! My sister joins me on my runs a lot and, as you can see, we have fun while doing it. If you learn anything from this post I hope that It’ll be that having fun is most important when it comes to working out. If it starts being anything but fun, if it becomes a must instead of a want, something has to change. This wasn’t the most upbeat most, but I want to keep it real on this blog. It might seem like working out comes easy to me, but it takes time and dedication, and sometimes this can be hard to find and there’s no shame in that.