Force Friday II at John Lewis


As an utter nerd, there are a couple of days in the calendar that will always be celebrated in weird and wonderful ways. You have May 4th Be With You, Harry Potter's Birthday on 31st July, going back to Hogwarts on 1st September an, of course, there's Force Friday. This time, the second.

This Friday, John Lewis on Oxford Street not only held an exclusive event to showcase their new Star Wars range (toys AND tech) but they set up a pop up Cantina Bar complete with actors from Secret Cinema mingling in character costumes and serving you drinks at the bar. Do enjoy this picture of me with my new BFF Chewbacca. The height difference is just BEYOND funny.

Picture by Charlie, Distracted



LOOK HOW HAPPY I AM.

The Cantina was exactly as weird as you wanted it to be. C-3PO was in his little net on the floor, all broken up. Little weird creatures sat in cages, the Cantina Band made us all dance and there  were Twi'leks everywhere, all painted blue and green.



The Cantina served pretty much non-descript mystery drinks in what look like little potion bottles, one of them tasted like Christmas in a bottle! If you couldn't be bothered to queue,well, lucky you! You'd be able to spot the odd 'smuggler' walking around in full costume, sneakily slipping people drinks out of his satchel. It was like you were actually on Tatooine and just like Secret Cinema a few years ago when I was completely overwhealmed and so very happy I cried.



I had a dance with R2-D2, was force choked by Darth Vader, cuddled Chewbacca and ran around wanting all of the things. I was in such a happy place.

Now, this is just a fangirl post about the Cantina itself but I'll totally be following up with a post on my top 5 products that I totally need to get... if you also want to go to the cantina to geek out, don't worry your little cotton socks. It's open all weekend so get your butt down there!


A few hours in Whitstable

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I have really been missing the sea. I'm hardly a beach person at all, as in lounging around in the sand for hours on end, but the smell of the sea and the sound of crashing waves really makes me happy.

Leanne is always one to spot a bargain and managed to get us day tickets to Whitsable for a whole £10 thanks to the South Eastern Hidden Gems promotion. I'd never been to Whitstable and actually couldn't point it out to you on a map because, dear lord, am I rubbish at geography... I kept getting it confused with Whitby. Both begin with W and both are by the sea...I think Whitby is by the sea?

Smashleighjayne

The ever wonderful Erica had been very recently and her Postcards from Whitstable post filled me with glee. I couldn't wait until I was exploring the coast in the sunshine, Instagramming all the things, eating all the seafood and obviously eating all the ice cream. Ever the optimist, I chose to wear a summer dress and sandals because if you have sunshine thoughts there will be sunshine, right? Nope.



It HAMMERED IT DOWN. And it Hailed. Our weekend was no where near as sunshine and picture perfect as Erica's but it was still awesome.

we arrived in sunshine, then it started to rain. Our only real plans for the day were to eat oysters so we took refuge in the Whitsable Oyster Company restaurant right by the sea. We got their last table, ordered 2 different types of oysters (The Casino Oysters were my favourite), Scallops, Mussels AND CHIPS. Despite the rain, thank god I was wearing a floaty dress...

Smashleighjayne

Smashleighjayne

These things are famous for a reason.

The Oyster thing was pretty much the only thing we had planned for our trip to Whitsable. Other than that, we just wanted to Instagram all the things. The weather really wasn't on our side though and due to their local Festival that day, we just knew we weren't as lucky as Erica.

Smashleighjayne


Every time we passed the bright pink Wheelers Oyster Bar there was ALWAYS a car parked outside, we had to duck into two different pubs to stay dry (at least I got to try a local beer, my favourite thing) and the journey to the castle plan was quickly abandoned WHEN IT STARTED TO HAIL. IN AUGUST.

Smashleighjayne

Smashleighjayne

Being by the beach regardless of the weather made me far too happy though. I plan to go back so I can sit in the sunshine, and breathe in the sea air. I'd love to hire one of the beach huts and just spend a weekend being my happiest. Plus, ice cream.

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THIS MELTED EVERYWHERE


Festival Survival and lessons learned: 21 vs 28

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Here's me at my first festival. so young. so very young.

When I went to my first festival, I was rubbish at it. I bought a tent the day before, only took a sleeping bag and nothing to lie on, didn't take any weather appropriate clothes and forgot all the basics like hand sanitiser and loo roll. I spent so much money on food, it's obscene and I spent even more on alcohol. Oops.

I'm now nearly thirty and you'd think by now that I'll have learnt from my previous mistakes, The answer? Have I bugger. I leave tomorrow (at time of writing), I haven't packed a thing and I don't know where to start. I know that once Friday rolls along, I'll be so much more organised and the whole thing will be amazing. I just hope Milly remembers her tent.

I have been going to festivals for a fair few years now so there are definitely at least SOME things I have go better at (clearly not packing) and it really does make me chuckle about how different my experiences have been over the years.

Reading Festival 2013

The Basics at 21

I took NOTHING. It felt like that anyway. I didn't take enough pants for a start and it's only by some divine miracle that I actually remembered a deodorant, srlsy. I had to do a hasty run to the nearest Asda to pick up things like dry shampoo and hand sanitiser. As they had CLEARLY sold out of little stuff (guessing other Festival goers were equally as crap as me) I had to leave with big bottles which then just had to be thrown away as I didn't have space to carry them back!

The basics at 28

Fortunately, Push Doctor have sorted me out with the ultimate Festival Survival kit so I don't need to worry about it. even sun lotion! However, over most recent years I've made sure I have stocked up on travel bottles of all the necessities from superdrug way before hand. Less waste and less money spent. Winning on both fronts!

Sleeping plans at 21

My friend Silvia and I convinced ourselves that a tiny two man tent was all we needed... that meant very little space and a very uncomfortable floor. Sleeping in a tent is cold enough as it is but when there's just a thin piece of plastic and a sleeping bag between you and the ground, you get so much colder. Layering up with jumpers just won't be enough.

We had all of our stuff piled up at our feet so we had to sleep all curled up and woke up every morning with aching backs and necks. Totally don't recommend that nonsense.



Sleeping plans at 28

An air mattress is going to be your best friend. As will be a onesie. I plan on taking a Big Mac onesie with me because I am oh so classy and totally living the brand (#werk) as well as two sleeping bags just in case.

Milly has a 4 man tent so we'll have plenty of space for all our crap too. YAY! SPACE!

Food at 21

The only things I took with me at my first festival was a cereal selection box and super noodles. i had a camp stove for coffee in the mornings because I genuinely couldn't survive without it. This is probably the only sensible thing I did but it was literally just used for coffee. Cue me spending a hideous amount of money on burgers and cheesy chips when I could have actually used the stove to cook those bloody super noodles...

Food at 28

I've become a bit of a foodie over the years but I know I can't expect anything fancy from the middle of a field. As gas stoves are now banned (thanks youths), Milly and I will be collecting a solid fuel stove, a kettle, tins of sketti, bread and basic breakfast stuff that will be easier to cook. And obviously coffee. At least this way we'll be saving a few pennies by having a half decent breakfast. It'll also give us more energy than my standard 21 year old breakfast of pro plus, dry cereal (where do you keep milk!) and coffee. That's the plan anyway.

Basic hygiene at 21

baby wipes. I don't even want to think about it. I am ashamed.

Basic hygiene at 28.

Use the showers. Not only will you feel more comfortable, the other people on the train home will thank you. They do get busy though so I tend to go either at ridiculous O'clock or if one of the opening acts aren't really doing it for me.

Alcohol at 21

Drinking and eating at festivals is where you're going to spend most of your money. Plus there are all the queues and I had to carry my passport with me at all times because I looked (and sometimes still do) like I was 12. Not exactly ideal. Luckily our Festival Friends were better prepared than us and kindly shared their booze with us.

Such a classy chick. Some things never change.
Alcohol at 28

You don't necessarily need it as much as you think you do. Yeah it's nice but that doesn't mean you need to go to the bar every 10 minutes. To make life easier for the young of face, you can get an over 18 wristband and leave your I.D. and valuables in a locker (rather than under your mattress or hidden in the lining of your sleeping bag) and one of the best choices is remembering to take booze with you into the campsite. You can't take it into the arena but you'll definitely thank yourself later.

Money at 21

I had no budget. I used the cash machines that charge you an absolute fortune. I spent so much money on my card without a single thought that I lost count of my spending. Such regret in my life choices. I was broke for the whole of September...

Money at 28

I'll be taking a set amount of cash but I don't want to be oh so very poor in September again. For emergencies, I also have my Monzo Card (if you don't have one, get one) for emergencies which is very handy and can track all my spending. I'm desperately hoping to keep everything to less than £200 but I guess we'll just have to see what happens!

That time Charlie, Distracted and I were more excited about Nine Inch Nails than anything else

Now, obviously everyone's Festival Experience is going to be different, these tips are just based on my own. Push Doctor actually have their own rather nifty Festival Survival Guide that's definitely worth a gander. You may find your own way surviving 4 days in a field and if you do please teach me your ways.

Really, the only thing that matters is that you have a whale of a time. Dance, be silly, sing and giggle until your ribs hurt. You're going to love it.

Reading 2013... I'm not really sure what's happening either



*Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with Push Doctor but all lessons and tales of tragedy are my own. #SorryNotSorry

Things you need to do in Cornwall

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My little Sea and the City adventure with Travelodge and the Bangarang Girls seems a complete AGE ago. It's now nearly the end ofHOW?) and my need for another holiday is here again. I've just booked off a block of holiday to go on a mini staycation in the New Forest again plus an extra couple of days around my birthday so hopefully Gary and I can scoot off somewhere then.

It's been HAMMERING it down in London a lot recently and it's bringing back fond memories of dancing on the beach with an umbrella and eating ice cream in between rain bursts. Our trip to Cornwall really was glorious and, being the fabulous human that I am, I have put together a little list of things you must definitely 100% do when you go too.


Drive there

Yes, I'm sure the train is nice and easy but you don't want to restrict yourself to one place. When we went, we considered St Austell our 'base' and instead drove around and visited different towns to make sure we really got the most out of our trip. Some places were only 10-20 minutes away so you don't exactly need to drive for hours to find a new place to eat or a new beach to explore. It'll make your trip seem 'fuller'

Eat Cornish Ice Cream

Personally, I think this is a given because there is no better ice cream ON THIS PLANET than the Cornish variety.



Try the Local Sea Food

Dude. When you're by the sea, you need to try the sea food that has been caught right next to you. That's coming from someone who never used to eat fish (at all). On our first full day in Cornwall, we visited Charlestown and had dinner at Wrecker's and treated ourselves to a proper feast.

As a sea food newbie, I made sure I tried a little bit of everything. I wasn't brave enough to actually rip crab to shreds like Leanne (I tasted it, and it wasn't for me) but I liked pretty much EVERYTHING I had. Turns out I like Oysters now and their Sea Bass was the BOMB.

Smashleighjayne


Eat Cornish Pasties

To be honest, I'm starting to spot a bit of a theme here... It's kind of like I ONLY care about food...

Either way, pasties are awesome. I have loved them ever since I was a kid and how can you beat what is essentially a pie that you can hold in your hand? The pasties we got in Fowey (pronounced Foy) had come out of the oven literally a minute before we arrived and we had to carry them around for ages until they were cool enough to eat. It was totally worth the wait and the pastry crumbs all over me.

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Do more than just go to the beach

Yes, Cornish beaches are absolutely gorgeous, even in the rain. But there are rolling hills, port towns, Heritage properties, tiny little villages and OH SO MUCH exploring to be done and things to learn. yes, learning is cool.

Smashleighjayne


Try a local beer

This one isn't to everyone's taste but whenever I go somewhere new, I have to have a local beer. Preferably an ale. Just like the seafood, local beers always taste better when they just have to travel down the road to get to you.

pubs in cornwall

I do miss Cornwall, I honestly forgot how much I loved it as a kid so will inevitably be dragging Gary along for a weekend break to Cornwall next year. Hopefully with a little less rain. If you have any other tips for Cornwall, let me know!






*disclaimer, I was invited as a plus one for Travelodge's Sea and the City campaign but all the ramblings are my own.

Looking back on holiday moments and memories


I recently found myself in charge of organising the family holiday snaps for the past 20 years. There were beach scenes, mountains and all the cousins looking different each year as we got older. Seriously, if you looked at pictures of us back then and met us now, you'd think that we weren't the same people.

Travelling with my family (and now my friends) is one of my all time favourite things and having the photos of our adventures together really hit home how important it is to me.You can have them up in frames, in albums like these from truprint or scattered across multiple social media platforms. Either way, having a flick through brings back some of the best memories and it got me thinking of my favourite holiday moments.

Two day drive to Italy

When I was a teenager, we drove to Italy. 2 families with six kids in tow. We stopped off at every border a long the way, we had walkie talkies in the cars, we got lost in Germany and one car broke down near Paris. It really sounds like the holiday from nightmares but it was actually one of the best I ever had. I met my first boyfriend, I got closer to my cousins and we have so many stories from that trip that we still chuckle over them today.


Getting up close and personal with some penguins

Yup, that's right. Actual penguins. Althougjh my trip to the Falkland Islands was kind of tarnished by being viciously dumped, I still got to experience a bunch of things only a handful of people can. I sat on a beach surrounded by penguins, we were followed by a sea lion, my dad went swimming with dolphins whereas I was too scared too...



First Holiday with friends

In second year of uni, a bunch of my old school friends (including Charlie, Distracted) took a trip to Barcelona. It was my first holiday without my family which felt a little strange, but I was spending it with some of the very best people. Some of the pictures we have make you think 'oh, Lord. What were we doing' but some of them also just make you smile. I still have vivid memories of shot bars and beaches but also of the architecture and remembering where to go for the best ice cream in the city. Oh yeah.



Going on holiday with my boyfriend

I have been on holiday with a boyfriend before but I was still at university, we hadn't been together for a long time and we both had very different ideas about holiday-ing. in 2015, I got to have my first 'grown up' holiday with Gary. We spent a weekend together in Nice and just RELAXED. No rushing around trying to get things done before we left. We didn't worry about being touristy, we just ate all the food, drank all the beer and chilled on the beach. It was amazing. We got to be silly together in a different place.



A holiday without the beach

Looking back on all the holidays I've had... I'm pretty sure a beach has always been involved somewhere. However, earlier on this year I went on a short break to Bucharest. A little city trip is something I hadn't done before and it was an entirely different type of holiday. Exploring was more important than relaxing and spending time with the best people in the world.


These are just some of my favourite Holiday memories and I'm sure there will be plenty more to come. What are yours?



*Disclaimer; this post is in partnership with Truprint but all words are mine, mine, mine.

Adopting with the RSPCA: Giving Dobby the House Cat a home

Adopt a cat RSPCA
Introducing, Dobby the House Cat
A couple of months ago, I got a text from the other half saying he wanted to talk about getting a cat.

It seems that my years of badgering him had finally bloody paid off!

We already knew that we wanted to adopt rather than buy. I've spent too much time watching Dog Rescuers and Kitten Rescuers (where I cry... a lot... and say I'm going to rescue all the animals), so I know that there are so many animals that need a loving home after past experiences. I mean, there's nothing worse than not being wanted and sitting there waiting for someone to take you home one day... So we started browsing the RSPCA website everyday and even set up email alerts.

As we live in a flat, we knew we needed a house cat. We didn't want to just get any cat and keep it in the house because we knew that wouldn't be fair. We did a hideous amount of research and discovered FIV positive cats and learnt that they are generally left behind the longest. This could either be down to how a lot of FIV+ cats are Toms who have their fair share of battle wounds, or a lack of understanding in the difference between FIV and HIV. Either way, our poor little Dobby (previously known as Victor) had been waiting at an animal hospital for nearly two months because no one wanted him. It broke my little heart and from the moment we met him, we knew he needed to come home with us.

Adopt a Cat RSPCA
Just look at those eyes!

We spent what felt like and age looking for Dobby before we knew it was him. Every time I came across a new 'profile' (LIKE CAT TINDER.), I bubbled with excitement. I was picking new names for them and pretty much getting WAY ahead of myself. We were doing this properly though.

Adopting a cat isn't as easy as rocking up to an animal shelter and saying 'I want a cat, please'. The people at the shelter want to ensure that you're going to give any animal you take with you, a loving and safe home. The first thing Gary and I did was pop by the visitor centre in Finchley to arrange our home visit. There were kittens and old boys and all sorts of fluff balls. I could have stared at them all day and desperately wanted to take them all home with me.

A week later, Inspector Nicole from the RSPCA popped by to visit. I had been nervous all week because what if she decided we couldn't have a cat? I wasn't ready for that kind of rejection at all! Luckily, it wasn't as big and scary as I thought it would be. She also didn't just turn up with a cat like in the dream I'd had the night before... All that happened was she had a little chat with us, took a look around the house and then (happy!) started showing us pictures of cats in the area who needed a home. She mentioned Victor, a little Tabby stray who was currently sitting in the Hospital in Holloway after having an abscess removed and some of his teeth out. There was only one picture available on the website so she went to the hospital after seeing us, took a bunch more pictures and emailed them over. We booked in to visit him the next week.

The first meeting

When we finally got to meet him, he hid under the sink, would only emerge for food (despite me literally lying on the floor so I was his level and not big and scary) and basically didn't want to be anywhere near me and Gary. He was battered from his tough life on the mean streets of Hounslow and he needed a home. Despite Gary saying to me that morning that we might not bring him home, we fell in love with his little wonky face and he became ours and he became Dobby the House Cat forever.

For the first two days, Dobby stayed away. He was still unsure of where the hell he was after spending so long at the hospital. He didn't realise that the fancy bed was for him and (even now) he hasn't quite worked out how to use his scratching post. He hid under the bed in the spare room for two days but then he started to creep out a bit more and eventually get comfortable.

Now, he doesn't shut up and clearly couldn't be happier. He miaows all the time, stands up like a meerkat to lick your fingers, nuzzles up against you and has claimed one of our sofas as his own. In short, his a bit of a legend and the actual best boy.

Adopt a cat RSPCA

Adopting Dobby is the best decision ever, even if it has led to my mum asking whether it's 'first cat, then kids' (cue le me cackling away). If you're thinking of getting a little fur baby of your own, I strongly recommend you adopt. There are so many boys and girls who are desperately in need of a forever home.

Live in a flat? That's fine! These little tykes can't go outside. Want a kitten? They're all right here. We chose to adopt through the RSPCA and shall be supporting them even more moving forward. There are lots of other cats charities out there but through the RSPCA, this is some of the support you'll get.

  1. As many meeting with the cat you like, if you're not sure he likes you
  2. Free More Than pet insurance for the first 6 weeks (if you renew with them, they also make a donation to the RSPCA)
  3. Discounted Pet care plan for only £10 per month to cover all the necessities like additional vaccines 
  4. Check up with the RSPCA after the first 6 weeks to see how you're both getting along
  5. Support at the other end of the phone whenever you need it
  6. All cats you adopt are micro chipped, vaccinated and neutered/spayed
  7. A warm bubble in your heart knowing you've helped someone else find happiness

Now, just for the Lols, here's a bunch of things we have learnt about Dobby the House Cat since bringing him home:

  1. He like standing up like a meerkat. It's not very helpful when you're trying to put his food down
  2. He likes belly rubs, apparently this is weird for a cat
  3. He's missing lots of teeth so he has a wonky mouth and dribbles a little bit during chin scratches
  4. He doesn't know how to use a scratching post
  5. He's not fussed about boxes (weirdo)
  6. He has the loudest purr known to man...
  7. ... and the loudest miaow
  8. Who gives a crap about beds when you have a perfectly good sofa to malt on
  9. He desperately wants to try pizza (but is SO not allowed)
  10. He's the best and most handsome boy in the world
Don't you just desperately want a happy face like this in your life?


See more happy and fluffy cats using #MoreThanCat on Twitter or you could click right here

Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with the RSPCA and More Than but I was going to tell you all about Dobby anyway. All experiences in the post are my own and I genuinely like both companies. So there.

Why I'm afraid of the Handmaid's Tale


Now, this has been everywhere now and I'm a tad annoyed it took me so long to get on board. The Handmaid's Tale  is one of Charlie, Distracted's favourite books and she has been telling me to read it for years but I didn't pick it up until October last year. Fast forward to 2017 and everyone's talking about it again.

If you're not sure about what the Handmaid's Tale is (well, you should read it anyway), It's set in a Dystopian Future where women's money, livlihoods and, eventually, identities are stripped from them, all in the name of the 'greater good'.


The Republic of Gilead (former USA) is under the control of a Totlitarian Government, having overthrown the Democratic one before. The country is erily the same yet not at the same time. Spies (The Eyes) are watching every movement you make. There has been a drop in fertility and therefore a drop in childbirth. The women are blamed entirely for this. For their 'promiscuity', their general lifestyles, for being gay and so much more.

You look at situations like this and think 'that will never happen in the West'. What is shocking, is that makes it more shocking. It doesn't take away the reality of the world outside of our little corner. There are places in the world where FGM are practiced, women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to vote for the first time in 2015, there are countries in the east where women can't leave the house without their husbands and they can't drive. But it'll never happen in the West, never in our little bubble. Seeing it on our screens and hearing these things in English words make it real for us too, not just something halfway across the world.

I look at the handmaids tale and I realise that I already have more rights and priveledges than even my Grandmother before me (maybe even my mum, in some respects) and there's always a little niggle in the back of my head thinking 'what if they change their minds and this is all taken away?'. It's not an unrealistic thought to have, especially considering the state of the world right now.

My boyfriend doesn't really understand my feelings on this as it seems to farfetched. I think it could be too close to reality before we know it. That thought terrifies me.

We don't know when, how or if it would start bnt it would have happened before we have realised it. Everything we know and love can be swept away from uner our feet and we won't even see it coming.

Has the Handmaid's Tale impacted you as much as it has me? 

A weekend by the sea in Cornwall

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Fowey Harbour

It’s not very often I get to go on multiple little trips away in one year. After years of pretty much staying put in London, I’m absolutely loving it and am always thinking about the next break. I have loads of bloody holiday to take at work too so I should probably start actually sorting myself out.

This weekend, I was well chuffed to be Captain Charley’s +1 for the Sea and the City trip to Cornwall with Travelodge. I used to go to Cornwall all the time as a kid with my family for caravan holidays so I knew it would be an entirely different experience as an adult. For a start, I’d be more interested in exploring small towns and trying new food than dancing with Sid the Seagull and Lizzy the Lizard.

After a traumatic journey to meet the girls where I not only missed a train but I then missed my stop once I was on the train and had to turn around again… (I know, typical me), we were off on our five hour journey to St Austell. Praise be to Jasmin for volunteering her car and her role as driver. We wouldn’t have made it here without you.


Charlestown Cornwall
The lovely seaside town of Charlestown

I’d never heard of St Austell before and, after we had checked into our Travelodge, we eventually googled what to do on our little holiday, over freakshakes, pasta and hotdogs at the always classy Frankie and Benny’s. It turns out that cornwalls.co.uk said that ‘although some might describe it as pretty grim, it does provide an ideal centre for some of the loveliest beaches in Cornwall’. We did notice that it was, as Charley dubbed it, ‘the Chav Centre of Cornwall’, and when we asked some of the locals what we should do on our weekend away, they, in no uncertain terms, told us there was nothing to do in St Austell.  Hasty planning on phones over dinner was then underway. Note to self: Research where you’re actually going BEFORE you get there.


One thing I remember as a kid was that the beaches in Cornwall were always gorgeous, I mean, they have actual sand and everything. It was top of the list of things we had to do. After the absolutely wonderful (although slightly sticky) weather we have been having in London, I packed skirts and sandals in a positive mental attitude. When we opened the curtains the next morning, it was grey and drizzling. As the Scottish say, it was pretty dreich. Oh well, a little rain never hurt anyone!


smashleighjayne

Smashleighjayne
Left to Right:

Now, despite the negative statements we have seen about St Austell, they were definitely right about it being a ‘centre’, we had a whole day of adventures where we visited the beach and I had a little dance in the rain, explored the gardens of the fancy and stately home of Lanhydrock and popped by the harbour of Megavissey. As well as jumping out of the car in a tiny village because the houses were so instagrammable. Such blogger clich├ęs.

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My awkward/limping strideby with Jas. Picture by Charley.

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Here's my stupid 'I have Ice cream' face - Picture by Jas
Walking, eating, sitting, driving. We made sure we could see as much as we could and eat as much as we could, not a single moment was wasted. We tried new things and got to know eachother even more and, all in all, we had the BEST time.

smashleighjayne

Breaking up our wanderings, Charley and I not only used our little Travelodge to sleep and refresh (dude, are those beds COMFY by the way), it also became a little blogging hub for us. A place to bounce hashtag thoughts off each other and remember anecdotes and quotes from the night before edit photos and check Twitter. Thank you Wifi. It’s the reason why I have this post up sooner than any other I have done this past year. I’ve actually had time and a place to do it!

smashleighjayne

Cornwall is so much more than just sandy beaches though. There are National trust building scattered all over the joint, brewerey's and independent bars, AMAZING food and, well, too much to discuss in one post. watch this space instead for more things to do in Cornwall.

In the meantime, you can keep up with our adventures and more that Cornwall has to offer on Instagram right here:

#BangarangByTheSea


#SeaAndtheCity


What Harry Potter means to me: 20 years later



I have never hidden my love for Harry Potter, not once over the past 20 years. It's all a part of my charm, really.

From the "Boy who Lived" to "Nineteen Years Later", the Harry Potter books have been with me through everything and have shaped the person I am today. I have been to midnight releases, seen the play twice, become an ambassador for Lumos and I am still waiting for my Hogwarts Letter. Everything I am started with a few notes written on a napkin all those years ago.

There are a lot of people who dismiss the Harry Potter books as children's books which will always irritate me, they are so much more than that. These books introducted me to the most wonderful love and the most harrowing grief. They helped me to understand the horrors of the world even if I couldn't stop them. The held me as close as I held them and they kept me safe. Certainly not just a children's book.



When I first picked up these books at the age of 9, I had no idea, as cliched as this sounds, the journey I would go on. I had no idea that a book series would bring me so much happiness and also so much heartache. I didn't know that they would become a security blanket for all of the hardest moments of my life and I had no idea that at the age of 28, I would be as excited as I was yesterday when I finally bought my first set of robes.

I can't really explain why these tales of a boy wizard mean so much to me but I can tell you a few times I have needed them and how they helped me.

When I was little, I was quite smart, I don't mean like a child genius, but I was clever and as a result I was bullied. It didn't stop when I got older either. The same thing happened all over again when I went to Secondary School. As a kid, I automatically assumed something was wrong with me. Hermione Granger taught me there wasn't. When I was going through the motions again as a teenager, she reminded me there was nothing wrong with me. I used her as my inspiration to always aim for the very best. Yes, Hermione didn't have the best time for a while and also did a 'I'm running to the toilet to cry', but she was the 'brightest witch of her age'. Being smart was her strength and i would also be mine.



When I moved to University, I was afraid. Not as in, scared to death, but nervous. I was moving out of my home town and moving to a strange city where I knew NO ONE. I was alone. But then I remembered Harry's first journey on the Hogwarts Express. He was alone in a whole new world let alone a big city. He did alright, didn't he?

Last year, my Nanna got sick and passed away. The first thing I did when I was packing to go up to Scotland to see her was pack the The Prisoner of Azkaban. I bloody needed it. I had my own Dementors to fight and will do for a while over the coming months. I used it as my talisman. I used it to feel safe and strong. The Dementors are still there but I have my own little Patronus whenever I need it.



These are just a handful of times where I have needed these books. Not all the times I need them are hard either. I use Harry potter and the Philosopher's Stone as my travelling book whenever I'm going on a long journey. Gary and I have spent all day watching all of the movies and doing Harry Potter puzzles just because we can. I read it in the bath, I read it on the tube when I've had a tough day at work and I am always carrying at least one thing that is Harry Potter related.

I feel extremely proud an honoured that I am a part of a family beyond imagination. I've made some of my closest friends through our mutual love for these books. Harry Potter has given me strength so many times and I'm sure it will be the same for my children, when I'm finally brave enough to part with the exact copies I have held dear for so long.



I will be there when they find the Stone. When they close the chamber. When they save Sirius. when they join the Order. When they mourn for Dumbledore. when they mourn for them all. It'll be as real for them as it is for me.

Happy birthday, Harry Potter. Thank you, Jo.