Wednesday, 29 March 2017

I QUIT MY JOB


Yes really.

In this modern age of unemployment and uncertainty I am actively chucking my job away. Am I insane? Probably...

Despite working in retail for a very long time, this isn't my life. It never has been and I don't think it ever could be. In my heart I have always been a writer. Right since I was a child of three or four and started forming my letters. And I need to give the possibility of earning a living as a writer, everything I have got or I am never ever going to settle into life.

Since leaving uni almost three years ago, I have always felt as if I have been waiting for my life to begin. I thought something would have happened by now to make me feel as if I had a place in the world. But nothing has come about. I have halfheartedly applied for jobs and not even received interviews and all the while gone a little crazy in retail. It is time for my life to change.

The thing is, young people are brainwashed into believing that their dreams don't matter. You have to get a 'proper job' - preferably something boring and hard that will suck all the joy out of life and place you in an office from 7am-9pm every day. Otherwise your life is basically not worth living.

News flash for you though - your life, young person reading this, can be exactly what you want it to be. Obviously you need a bit of money to survive. But other than that, you can do what you like. You should never place someone else's expectations for your life above your own.

Basically what I am saying is, if you want to travel, travel. If you want to get married and have kids, go ahead. If you want a 9-5 career in the city, do that. And if you want to write, bloody hell go and write. Right now. Why not?

That's what I said to myself about 6 weeks ago. Two days later, I had handed in my notice. Now the day is finally here (as I publish this I am about to start my final shift) and I am surprisingly apprehensive. Yes I know that this is the right thing to do and I NEED to give writing my attention full time. But my retail job has always been a little comfort blanket for me. A safety net that I can use to blame my lack of success in getting published. When I take that away it will just be me and my ambition to be a published novelist. That's really scary. But exciting too. Who knows what could happen in a week, a month, a year, 10 years... This is a new chapter and I hope it is going to be a great one. Whatever happens though, I know that it is an essential one and my life is going to be better because of it.

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/CharlotteCoster
Follow me on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/CharliCoster/
Follow me on Instagram http://instagram.com/walkingintothesun
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theworldwetread

Friday, 24 February 2017

Paris is still beautiful - February 2017


A couple of weeks ago, shortly before Valentine's Day I was in Paris. The city of love. The city of croissants and canals and the Eiffel Tower. The city of beautiful architecture and expensive coffee. The city that inspired countless literary greats (whose ranks I yearn to join). The city of windowboxes and balconies and picturesque squares. One of my favourite cities in the world.


I have been to Paris before. A few times. But it has always been in the summer and I was a little apprehensive of being there in the winter. In my head, the sun is always shining in Paris, the flowers and trees are always in full bloom and you can always walk around in floaty skirts and brogues. Paris wasn't the city where it rained or the wind whistled under your coat as you tried to enjoy a stroll along the Seine. Was it? Apparently, puddles do exist there. And occasionally you do have to duck into a coffee shop to avoid the horrendous weather rather than simply sit out on the pavement watching the world go by. Who knew? It didn't diminish it at all though. It gave it a new dimension. A reality that I hadn't really seen before. And of course, it was still beautiful. It was Paris.



As you can see from the last time I was in Paris in 2014, I have already been to many of the large sights such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame. Yet we did visit these iconic places again as I was with my sister who had never been before. I couldn't exactly stop her from getting her view of Paris from the top of that unexpectedly romantic big piece of steel could I? But (proving that sisters can compromise with each other now and then) to make sure I was kept entertained, we also visited some of the more quirky sights and wandered districts such as the Latin Quarter, Montmartre and the streets of Le Marais. They were still very much in the tourist zone but we were giving over time to simply walking and looking and therefore breathing in all of Paris. Everyday Paris. The Paris that was still beautiful despite the cloudily dull sky.


Occasionally I did go out of my way to ignore the tourist attraction that was right in front of my face. In particular, to the Notre Dame, the poor thing. I didn't mean to ignore its grandeur so fully but when I was there, I found myself looking at the ground instead. Everybody else was gazing at the sky while I accidentally walked into the back of selfies, trying to find a tiny golden plaque on the floor. The plaque that marked the centre of Paris.


And then I ignored it again, instead turning away, crossing the bridge and heading to the almost-as-famous Shakespeare and Company. Trust me to find a bookshop. while I was abroad. I was in good company with this one - Ernest Hemingway and Lawrence Durrell were just two of its many famous visitors and while I was having coffee, I spied Clemence Posey of Harry Potter fame which was quite cool. Not as cool as the bookshop itself though. This place can only be described as a haven for the book lover. Stuffed full of books old and new, it is perfectly equipped for every reader and traveller's needs. Their upstairs is beyond incredible, and rather than describe it, I think I will leave it for you to go and find out for yourself exactly how wonderful it is to be surrounded by books and book lovers alike. I haven't felt that utterly content in a very long time. I really felt like I was a part of something when I was there. It felt like home.


Sticking with the literary theme, I couldn't resist a slightly macabre visit to Pere Lachaise cemetery. I have to admit, I kind of love graveyards. I realise that this is a slightly weird confession to make. But I just find them to be so peaceful and pretty, full of beautiful structures and flowers. I like wandering around reading the names of the people buried there and trying to imagine the life that they would have led. Plus, I find them to be so full of love. People focus too much on the death side of it. But it is rarely the dead person who chooses the gravestone or the inscription or any of it. It is those who are left behind who have to organise all that and pay for it too. They are the ones who want to remember the individual in the best possible way. That's why graveyards always make me kind of emotional. This particular one was the resting place of the wonderful Oscar Wilde, one of my literary heroes. So of course, I wasn't going to miss the chance of being in his presence, and hopefully soaking up some of his leftover creative vibes. It was huge and we had a very calming walk amongst the graves and mausoleums, some of which were probably bigger than any future house that I would be able to afford. Once we were in the centre of it, it was unbelievably quiet and the cemetery was all you could see in any direction. It was beautiful.


When you think of beauty within Paris, you probably wouldn't automatically think of a graveyard. Or an abandoned train line for that matter. But that too was one of my favourite walks which we took. La Petite Ceinture it was called. Originally this train line used to run around the entire city but it closed down yonks ago. It is still there and nature is slowly but surely claiming its territory back. We only walked a small part of it: one of the little sections that has been opened up to the public and you are actually allowed to walk. The majority of it is out of bounds technically (although this hasn't stopped plenty of explorers and wouldn't have stopped me had the weather been slightly better!) but I enjoyed the little taster we had in the shape of the section within the Promenade Plantee.



I imagine that instead of the cemetery or the trainline, you would think of the highly manicured Tuileries or Luxembourg Gardens. Which are lovely in their own right. But it is worth the effort to travel a little further out where you can find the absolutely stunning Parc des Buttes Chaumont. We walked along the Saint Martin Canal to reach it, another lovely area, on our final morning and it was a perfect way to end the trip. A place of peaceful delight and divine views - which is basically what I have come to expect of Paris. And you need not anticipate anything less, you can be rest assured it always lives up to expectations.



Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/CharlotteCoster
Follow me on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/CharliCoster/
Follow me on Instagram http://instagram.com/walkingintothesun
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theworldwetread

Monday, 23 January 2017

La La Land


If you haven't heard of La La Land, can I start this post by asking WHERE ON EARTH HAVE YOU BEEN? Living under a rock perhaps? It has all anyone has been talking about since it came out in the UK and totally cleared up at the Golden Globes in the same weekend. I have seen it twice in the past week and may or may not go see it again because it has given me a lot of feelings. A LOT of feelings. Which I thought I would talk about here. As it is one of the jobs of this blog to be a haven of all things wonderful. And this was certainly wonderful.

Just before I begin my discussion though I would like to put a really big SPOILER ALERT right here. I just need to splurge a little bit and talk about everything to do with this movie so if you haven't seen it, stop reading here and go and see it at once.

There is no doubt that everything about La La Land is truly beautiful. The cinematography is stunning, the costumes are wonderful (I would like to own every single one of Emma Stone's outfits), and the acting is fabulous, particularly from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone - all those intense closeups where you can read every single emotion in their face. Truly incredible. And the music is just dreamy. You go into this little bubble of beauty when you watch it and you simply don't want to leave. But these are aspects that are obvious to everyone. I am not here to rehash what the critics of the papers have said so I will discuss it no further in that way. I want to get into the nitty gritty of it. Which basically means I am going to take little bits and analyse it to death. Sorry not sorry.

The character progression depicted within the course of La La Land is spot on. Actually I have often said how films normally don't manage to get this as right as La La Land has. Books do it well, because they have 300-800 pages to play with. TV series also do it well because they have 8 hours to achieve it. Films with a mere two hours of time often can't manage it. Particularly if it is an original film. But over the course of a little over two hours, you are invited into Mia and Seb's magical yet frustrating world of trying to succeed in their artistic dreams. You travel with them, sharing in not only the journey of their relationship with each other but the relationship with their art. And it's interesting that both try to achieve their aims in a different way - Mia relentlessly goes for audition after audition and is on the brink of giving up. And Sebastian sells out a little to do something that he doesn't want to do in order to sidestep into what is his ultimate dream. And you watch as they find each other and realise how much they both need the other to put them on the right track. Mia needs Sebastian to push her forwards, Seb needs Mia to pull him back and remind him of who he is and what he is working towards. And that leads to their success at the end.

As an artist myself, in the form of writing, the struggle of both Mia and Seb spoke to me in so many ways. Both characters had moments that I related to. Seb at the beginning had this moment when you first saw him perform in the restaurant. His boss (with a cameo from JK Simmons) was very insistent that he should stick to the mind numbingly dull versions of Christmas carols. But Seb can't stop himself from performing something else. He threw everything he had into that performance but when it was over, the people in the restaurant continued as if nothing had happened. Nobody eating even glanced his way. And where I am applying to literary agencies at the moment, it feels exactly like that.

I think anyone pursuing a career in a creative art can also relate to the conversation that Mia had with her parents just after she had moved in with Seb. I know I certainly can. Here, they were clearly asking her how she was going to survive if neither she nor Sebastian were making any money and yes it was all very well that she was putting everything into her acting, but how was she actually going to eat? These questions (which my parents have asked me numerous times) are the little shout realism that are in the outer edge of the artists' brains. The parents are telling them things that they have pushed to the back of their minds because they can't cope worrying about not eating as well as the possibility of failure in their chosen career. The fact that Mia was having this conversation out of shot was a clear indication of how this was something that she was very much not focusing on, something that she was trying to ignore but she couldn't help but hear it from her parents. And it was Sebastian who was in shot who could see the damp stain on his ceiling and took the realistic advice on board, sacrificing his own dreams to support hers. They couldn't both be earning nothing after all.

I feel like people in general are saying how they related to Mia and sympathised with her a lot more. Most too, have been taking her side in their argument. But I became completely heartbroken for Seb at this moment. He was a bit of an arse, I admit that. But this was the beginning of the end for their relationship and I think he could see that. She was almost there and he knew that once she succeeded, she couldn't give her all to it without leaving him behind.  He had the hardest job of all in this movie. Because, having pushed Mia forward he had the joy of watching her fly but then, immediately, he had to let her go. Which he was more than willing to do because he was amazing and understood how important her dreams were to her. But I found that totally heart breaking.

There are a couple of quotes from Seb that spoke to me, in particular - firstly was when he told Mia to 'write something as interesting as you are' - YES! I am very much going to take this on board. Don't half arse things, do it properly and make every single thing I write as amazing as I am (within the limitation of the amazing I actually possess, of course). I am so passionate and I need to put all of my passion into all of my writing, all the time. The second of his quotes that I adored was when Mia asked 'Are people going to like it?' And his response was  'Fuck em.' DOUBLE YES! You can not write or sing or act or paint because someone else may or may not like what you are doing. To be able to throw your all into it, you have to do something which YOU are fully behind. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. It's the passion that counts and you can only give that if you like it. As soon as you start worrying about someone else liking it, you are only going to fail. Because not everyone is going to like it obviously. You just can't win if you think like that.

In terms of quotes I love, I could actually write down the entirety of The Fools who dream, which Mia sang at her audition. In fact, I could write an entire blogpost just on that song. Maybe I will. It was stunningly done, simple and effective. Just Emma Stone's face and the camera and those beautiful words.The lyrics were spot on. 'Here's to the ones who dream. Foolish as they may seem. Here's to the hearts that ache. Here's to the mess we make.' And later the lyric changed to 'crazy as they may seem. Here's to the hearts that break.'  I can't stop listening to the song and it resonates so so highly with me and my attempts to become a published author. You do start going a little bit crazy the more you get rejected, (but as Emma Stone also advised us during this song, a bit of madness is key) and your heart does break a little when you throw everything into your art and get nothing in return. But you have to keep doing it, and when you finally do go into the Seine (ie. achieve your dreams), you wouldn't change a bit of it, you would do it over and over again. Did you notice when Mia and Seb were dancing through their alternative life together, that when Seb and Mia danced up to the Seine, they turned away from it? She didn't jump into it like her aunt did in the song and therefore she didn't achieve her dreams when she was with him. Ugh *sobs*

Because there at the end, we had the crux of it. If you are going to succeed in your art, there are things you are going to have to sacrifice. And for Mia/Seb this was each other. Having pushed each other into their successes, they couldn't have each other too. Mia's stricken face when she realises she is in Seb's bar tells us exactly how OK she is with that. The look between Mia and Sebastian across Seb's, was so full of love and gratitude and the nod was the final thank you - the huge thank you that they gave to each other, for getting them to their successes against all the odds. Neither of them would have made it without the other.

I would urge anyone to watch La La Land and it is possible to simply enjoy the ride. But if you are an actor, musician, artist, writer or anyone else wanting a career in something creative, it will speak to you on such a strong level, you definitely shouldn't hesitate. It gives you such hope to see your struggles depicted so epically on screen with them both succeeding in the end. If they can, anyone can. And that's what we have to bear in mind as we continue along our personal journeys. Thank you Damien Chazelle, Justin Hurwitz, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling...you did good. Really good.

(photo courtesy of imdb.com)

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/CharlotteCoster
Follow me on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/CharliCoster/
Follow me on Instagram http://instagram.com/walkingintothesun
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theworldwetread

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Reading Roundup


Last year I read 88 books. Can you believe it? I can barely believe it myself. That's an insane amount and considering that I was aiming for 55, I think I did really really well.

Out of those 88, I read 43 classics, 4 of which were Shakespeares, 2 were Austens and 3 were Dickens. I also reread all of the Harry Potters and 77 of my reads have been books I've never experienced before.

I have found some incredible new literature this year that have snuck into my list of favourite books so I thought I would share a few of these with you.

Firstly, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I have no idea why it took me so long to read this book. People have been recommending it to me for absolutely ages and I can see why. Immediately I was sucked into the world of intrigue that Zafon wrote about expertly. The mystery set within the beautiful descriptions of Barcelona and the bookshop where Daniel works, kept me turning the pages and I loved all the characters. It was satisfying and engaging and the plot involved around a book/author. What more could you want out of a novel?


Next up I read and adored Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale. Later in the year I read one of her newer ones The Heart Goes Last and I have bought Blind Assassin. It is safe to say I am now a huge Atwood fan. She is the queen of Dystopian future fiction. She just has this uncanny ability of finding the very worst in human beings, breaking down society and making stories around it. It is an epic, exciting read that definitely touches a nerve.

To see the good in human beings once more I read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. This is technically not fiction as it is based around Albom's own experiences, meeting weekly with an old tutor of his who is dying, but it does read as easily as fiction does. It is a beautiful, highly emotional read which makes you view life in a slightly different way and reconsider what is important.


Another author who has fast become one of my favourites this year is HG Wells. I read Kipps shortly after seeing Half a Sixpence at the theatre and found myself really relating to the retail struggles that he wrote about within this classic novel. Wells has a very readable style and I now really want to read The Invisible Man and The History of Mr Polly. I also love that he grew up down the road from me.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and The Tennant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte were two more classics that I hadn't read before and absolutely adored. Both were easy to read and had an element of mystery which kept me enthralled. But, most excitingly, each one had a very strong female protagonist which was quite unusual for that kind of literature. They were flawed and determined and jumped off the page to become real people. They were a joy to read.

And finally, I read what is now one of my favourite books at the very end of the year, The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This has been on my TBR list for a very long time after being recommended it repeatedly on Instagram. I am a huge fan of Fitzgerald, and I feel that this had echoes of him in it. Tartt has such an easy to read style and I was totally gripped by the intensity of the situation that the extremely normal main character found himself in. I feel like it could have happened to any of us and that was both exhilarating and exciting. Great book.


Talking of Instagram and while I am on the subject of rounding up 2016/books, I thought I might officially introduce my Bookstagram that I started last June: The Roaming Reader

I have been planning to start this up for a while as my love of books is so strong, I wanted to devote a whole account to pretty bookish pictures. And I figured it all makes sense. I travel around so much and whenever I do, I have a book with me to read whilst I am on the train/plane. Therefore, when I take my bookish picture in whatever fresh town I am, it records not only the place I am in, but the excellent book that I am reading too.

I have loved my 7 months that I have been a part of the bookstagram community. They are so welcoming and lovely and I hugely enjoy all the bookish discussions we have on there. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, do come and join me over there. I'd love to have you. And here's to a fabulous 2017 with many more fantastic books.

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/CharlotteCoster
Follow me on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/CharliCoster/
Follow me on Instagram http://instagram.com/walkingintothesun
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theworldwetread

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Happiness does not exist


At least, not in the noun form. Everyone is searching for happiness like it is this big magical thing that just pops along out of nowhere and settles down into our life, granting us everything that we have ever dreamed of. But life isn't like that. Happiness isn't like that. It is simply not a thing that you acquire and appears out of nowhere. Instead, happiness is something you have to work at. Which would make it a verb, technically. Something that grows and fluctuates constantly. You have to work out what makes you happy and then perform it. Which for someone our age is occasionally easier said than done.

I think there are two main ways that you can work at achieving happiness without having to make any prior decisions. Firstly: don't compare yourself to other people. Your life is your life. No one else's. It goes at its own pace and you are free to do whatever you want to do, when you want to do it. Who cares if everyone around you is getting engaged? And buying houses. And getting promotions. And travelling to far off beautiful places. And seems to have a better social life than you. And more money. They only tell you the good bits after all. They don't tell you about the stress of preparing for their workday every day.  Or how much they detest the early starts. They don't mention how they are so tired at the weekends, they only use them to sleep. You don't see all the petty arguments which rage between them and their significant other.

Secondly: don't listen to what people think you should be doing. Which is almost the same as comparing yourself to other people but not quite. Society is full of ideas as to what you should be doing in certain times of your life. And people (including your friends and family) love to tell you exactly what you should be doing right now and how you are failing. I am finding at the moment, that my friendship group is roughly halved and falls into two camps. Either they are getting engaged and buying houses. Or they are still out partying. I personally am in this stupid in-between category. I can't deal with clubs any more but I feel that I am too young to be home on a Saturday night watching Netflix. I don't want to sleep around, yet I am nowhere near ready to commit to someone for life (maybe I need to meet the right person - who knows). I feel I am too old to be part time in a job, yet I don't know what career I want yet. I am too old to get a dive of a place with a bunch of students but too young (/poor) to get a mortgage with a W1 postcode. Ahhhhh it's all so difficult and it's not helpful for parents/friends/strangers to sit there telling me that I 'should be doing this' and 'when I was your age I had achieved all this.' Ignore them and go your own way.

Happiness is an aspect of my life which I have put to at the bottom of my list of priorities but which I have finally learnt should be moved to the top. It is such an underrated concept and something I am working at. And actually I am doing pretty well and slowly working out how to be happy and what I have to do to feel it. Generally it is only when I compare myself to others and when I think about what I 'should' be doing right now, (i.e when I don't follow the above rules) that's when I get stressed and upset. Most of the time I am fine.

I always thought that by 25 I would have my life sorted. And suddenly 25 seems very very close. But there's still time. Maybe 2017 is the year when everything slots into place. Where I find a boyfriend I love and actually want to stick it out with. Where my book gets taken on by a publisher/agent. Where I settle in one city and want to stay. Or maybe it won't. And that's ok too. Life has a way of working itself out. It will all be ok in the end.

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/CharlotteCoster
Follow me on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/CharliCoster/
Follow me on Instagram http://instagram.com/walkingintothesun
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theworldwetread

Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Labyrinth

When I was in Edinburgh, I was trying to find a bookshop on my last day when I accidentally wandered past a little garden instead, in the centre of a square on the south side of the city. Nestled in amongst some university buildings, I walked through the entirety of the gardens and there in the corner of them, I located The Labyrinth.

A little plaque on the outside of the hedged-off labyrinth, told me that labyrinths are in fact different to mazes, which most people don't realise. Whereas with a maze, it tries to trap you within its walls/hedges via dead ends and misdirections, a labyrinth is very simple. There is no way you can get lost in one, as there is only a single route which leads you right into the centre. As long as you follow it faithfully and don't try to take any shortcuts, you should reach the middle without any problems.

The idea is, that while you are wandering the path set out for you, you are meant to try to completely relax. All the things that are worrying you, you need to bring to the surface and then leave them on the path so that by the time you reach the centre, you are at a point of complete peace. You can stand in that central point, regulate your breathing and feel like you have achieved something without the weight of worry, panic or any other negative emotion interrupting that.

And it really worked.


I personally used the labyrinth as a metaphor for my life. The path representing my life that I am travelling through and the centre representing my ambitions. At points, moving along this path, it felt like I was going to be there forever, and the ambitions that I was striving towards seemed to be just as far away as when I started. But slowly, ever so slowly, I came gradually nearer, until suddenly I was there. Occasionally I did go backwards a bit, and it seemed as if I was moving in the wrong direction yet it would always loop right back around. And when I finally reached that home strait, it was something of a surprise.

At some points, walking along that path seemed slow and unrelenting. But if I had sidestepped on to a different path and tried to take a short cut, it could, in fact, have taken me the wrong way, or even all the way back to the beginning. There is no shortcut to achieving my ambitions, I just have to keep on going, work hard, never give up and remember that every step I take is a step in the right direction. It's definitely a good thing to keep in mind.

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/CharlotteCoster
Follow me on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/CharliCoster/
Follow me on Instagram http://instagram.com/walkingintothesun
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theworldwetread

Monday, 31 October 2016

Edinburgh


I didn't think I was ever going to fall in love. I didn't think I was capable of it. But it's finally happened - I think it is safe to announce this important, irrevocable event in my life. Obviously I want all of you to be the first to know about it. In fact, I want to shout it from the heavens. And all over the internet too. I am in love with EDINBURGH.

London has always been my favourite city. Wherever I have travelled and whatever beautiful places I have seen, London has always felt like home and I didn't think anything was going to knock it off that top spot. But Edinburgh has managed it. I walked in and it just felt right. Like a breath of fresh air. This city has been waiting for me all this time and now I have finally woken up to it. There is so much history, beautiful views, stunning architecture, creativity (I was constantly surrounded by music and monuments to famous writers who found inspiration here too!), wonderful friendly people, there were quaint pubs and tea shops and hundreds of bookshops. Basically it is my idea of heaven.


As a staunch royalist, it shouldn't be that surprising to anyone that the royal offerings of Edinburgh were at the very top of my list to visit. So on the first morning, I sped up the Royal Mile and into the castle. Packed full of history, this huge castle was more like a mini walled village. It had so many different buildings to explore, the Scottish crown jewels, two prisons, the biggest war memorial I have ever seen and I even stood in the room where King James I (the first King of both Scotland and England) was born. I always find it so weird to think that millions and millions of people throughout hundreds of years have stood where I stood and walked where I am now walking. The magnitude of history can become a little overwhelming if you think like that.



I was thinking something similar when I was at Holyroodhouse Palace the following day. This is the Queen's Scottish palace (the equivalent to London's Buckingham Palace) where she spends a week to do all her Scottish business before heading up for her holiday at Balmoral. And as I walked those corridors, I found it amusing that the carpets had been rolled back away from where the public were allowed to walk. Can't have us commoners muddying her home, can we now?


The Royal Botanic Gardens were absolutely beautiful and a lot bigger than I was expecting. I was only going to spend a brief half hour to an hour in these before heading on down to the royal yacht. But they were so beautiful and there were so much more to them than I thought, that I actually spent most of the afternoon wandering around the peaceful gardens. Which meant I had to sacrifice seeing the inside of Royal Britannia but I still went along to the harbour to view it from the outside. Pretty big for a private yacht but this time I was disappointed on size - somehow in my head I was expecting a cruise liner and it wasn't quite that big. The gardens were much much more impressive. My favourite part, was the gorgeous Rock Garden where they had plants from all over the world at different levels. And right in the middle, towering above the lake, was a waterfall. Of course there was. The whole effect was stunning.





It is safe to say I did A LOT of walking when I was in Edinburgh. I had no idea that it was so hilly. It gave me a proper workout that's for sure and next time I visit I will definitely go to the gym for a month beforehand at the very least. I obviously explored the ground thoroughly, wandering all over the Old Town, the New Town, Stockbridge and the entirety of the Leith walk all the way down to the harbour (which was 2 miles each way, just saying!)




But I also made the effort to see the city from above. The castle was on a hill, well technically a volcano, giving me excellent views of the Old Town below and a bit of the New Town beyond. I climbed Calton Hill, which turned out to be an excellent idea as I met a lovely local who gave me advice on what I shouldn't miss during my explorations. Plus it gave me a slightly different angle on the town. And on the very first evening I climbed Arthur's Seat. Again, I wasn't fully prepared for this little trek. I mean, the hill is right in the centre of the city, how big could it actually be? Answer - it is HUGE. And climbing it in skinny jeans/little slippery ankle boots was not my cleverest plan ever. I think I would have been ok if it hadn't been for that. And the fact the 'steps' going up the side of it, should actually be known as 'little death traps that make you fall.' I can't believe I got both up and down them, all in one piece. It was totally worth it for the views of the sun going down over Edinburgh, though. It was truly beautiful and I don't think I have ever felt so content in all my life.


As I had seen so much of Edinburgh from above and at ground level, I had to complete the trio. It was only to make it neat and to ensure that I got the fullest view possible of the city. So I headed underground on the Mary King's Close Tour. I didn't really know what this was about, but it was, in fact, one of my favourite things that I did whilst I was there. All over Edinburgh there are these little alleyways that run down the hill away from the main streets. These are called Closes and the closes that we were being taken to visit were below the massive City Chambers building in the very centre of the city, right opposite St Giles Cathedral. They had originally existed as normal closes with people living in the houses. But when the City Chambers was to be built in their place, everyone was chucked out and they simply knocked off the top 3 or 4 storeys and plonked the building on top. So the closes still exist beneath the building. It was surreal to one minute be going down steps into what you think are going to be cellars and then to suddenly find yourself looking down a street. It's like an underground city. And it's these little quirks which made me fall in love with Edinburgh.


Another of the great things about Edinburgh which made me fall in love with it a little more, were all the literary connections. Considering that I had taken myself off on holiday in order to write, I really had managed to pick the perfect place. Every day I saw the Scott Monument (the largest monument to a writer every created); walked past the Balmoral Hotel where Dickens and JK Rowling both wrote masterpieces; sat in pubs and cafes that were frequented by authors and I'd arrived by the only train station in existence to be named after a novel. It was basically a writers' dreamland.



On top of that, there were SO MANY second hand bookshops there. Which of course I couldn't resist - it was definitely a case of eyes bigger than stomach kind of a thing. I bought far more than I could fit in my bag so I then had to buy another bag to lug them the 450 miles home. Oops. Oh well. I regret nothing.


I ended up dedicating the whole of my final day to bookshops and going on a proper tour so I could examine as many of them as I could find. I didn't want to leave any of them out, did I? I visited about 8 or 9 in all and they were all wonderful in their own unique way. One which was called Cabaret, was a weird mixture of homeware and books. So to reach the books, you had to go down this super steep spiral staircase. For a clumsy clot like me, it was an absolute death trap, especially because there were pictures and figurines alongside the staircase all the way down. It would have taken one tiny misstep for the whole lot to go flying. Armchair Books was my official heaven. Not only did they offer a student discount but there were just books everywhere you looked. The second you stepped inside, you were completely surrounded by them. It was wonderful.

I really can't believe that it has taken me such a long time to drag my ass up to Edinburgh. Sure it is a long way to go and extremely far out of this southern gal's comfort zone (like seriously, anything north of London is technically north right?) but this is one of the best trips I have ever been on. This city, with all it's creativity, gorgeous architecture and cute little cafes, is just so me. I will be back there for sure. And I definitely will be visiting the little Southern Cross Café lots more times when I return. When I am a bestselling author, I want a plaque attached to the wall going 'Charlotte Coster wrote her novel here'. Totally going to happen.

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/CharlotteCoster
Follow me on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/CharliCoster/
Follow me on Instagram http://instagram.com/walkingintothesun
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theworldwetread

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Week of Walks - Spain - September 2016


I love exploring new places. Whenever I go abroad or even if I have a single day off in the UK, I tend to pick a town and just wander around its streets. It's the best way to get a vibe for the place and from those peaceful amblings, I get far more of an insight into the culture than just sticking to the touristy sights. Don't get me wrong, I do love a good museum or gallery or a stately home. But better than any of that is simply walking through the town, gazing up at my surroundings.

Which is basically what I did when I visited Spain a few weeks ago.


I was staying in a town called Calella which was about an hour along the coast from Barcelona. It was a beautiful spot and had the best of all three worlds - an intricate and interesting town to explore, the hills behind it and the sea on its other side.



We started off by walking the coast, taking in the beautiful sea views and climbing up the cliffs. There were many different paths set into the cliffside and they took us higher and higher through the woods. On the very edge of one of the cliffs there was a lighthouse to warn passing ships of the jaggedly rocky coastline below. And even higher still were two medieval turrets that used to be watch towers before they fell into disrepair hundreds of years ago and were now simply a small tourist attraction.

From up there we had some excellent views of the town and the hills behind Calella gave us a similar view. By exploring Dalmau Park and again trekking through steeply ascending woods, we had the whole of Calella laid out before us with the sea beyond.


We travelled further along the coast as well, to the town of Santa Susana. At ground level it was very touristy with massive hotels dominating the beach. But if you moved away from them and bothered to climb the hill behind all of those grandly tacky structures, you got a real feel for the historical town. The architecture was lovely and I walked the winding roads until I was close to the top of the hill and could view Calella in the distance.



As we were staying so close to Barcelona I obviously couldn't resist spending a day exploring that wonderful city too. I felt that it was a mixture of many other European cities I had visited. It had the gridded structure and hip-ness of New York with the architecture and beauty of Paris along with the friendliness of London. We spent the entire day walking around it and went from Las Ramblas all the way up to Park Guell so it was interesting to see the difference between the ordinary apartment buildings and the grandness of some of the sights closer to the touristy sights. Gaudi's unique designs which we spotted frequently throughout our walk were also stunning.



So there is my advice for you. Whenever you visit a new place, make sure you do a lot of walking. That's how you can see the reality of the country you are staying in.

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/CharlotteCoster
Follow me on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/CharliCoster/
Follow me on Instagram http://instagram.com/walkingintothesun
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theworldwetread

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Buying Back My Time


During a dead period at work the other day I found myself daydreaming about being rich and what exactly I would spend all my money on if I did happen to win the lottery. Is it just me who does this? Please tell me it's not because I have actually found myself doing it an awful lot recently.

And it made me think - why exactly do I want to become a millionaire?

Because, to be completely honest, I don't need or want lots of money. Yes I really do mean that. I am a strong believer in how money can't buy you happiness and how there are all sorts of other stresses that come with having money that we just don't see. On top of which, there isn't an awful lot that I would want to do/buy that I don't do/buy already.

After thinking about the issue a bit more deeply, I realised there was only one true reason I would want to have more money = I would be able to give up my job and use all my time to write and push getting published. Essentially I want to buy back my time.

We all spend a hell of a lot of our waking life working. Time is one of those things which is meant to be inherently ours. We are born and we have a certain amount of it to use how we like. Except we can't. Therefore we spend money to grab some of it back for ourselves.

Mostly, we achieve this through booking a holiday (completely quitting our jobs may be a little too drastic for some). By spending a few hundred quid we manage to secure a week or two of our lives a year that we can use purely for ourselves. We can explore a new place, breathe a different air and totally relax. Essentially we can do whatever we want to do.

I find it so sad that we can't do what we want all the time. It is our life after all, yet we have so little control over it. Which is why buying back our time for ourselves is so very important. Book your weeks off somewhere exotic for an explore and a relax. Give yourself treats. Visit friends and family. Eat, drink, do whatever makes you happy and don't feel guilty for spending that money. Remember that your life IS yours despite the fact the majority of the time, it does not feel like it.

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/CharlotteCoster
Follow me on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/CharliCoster/
Follow me on Instagram http://instagram.com/walkingintothesun
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theworldwetread

Sunday, 21 August 2016

What makes the Olympics truly great


The Olympics is like marmite - it is one of those events which you either love or you hate. If you are really into sport, well then I guess this is what your heaven would be like. Sport on telly, all day every day on every channel. While the rest of us just endure, trying not to complain too much (even when the Bake Off is pushed back a few weeks QUEL HORREUR!)

I am not exactly what you would call a sporty kind of gal. I don't play sport, I never watch sport and prefer to sit reading/writing/eating cake/all three rather than attempt to run or do something similarly energetic. But even I get gripped by Olympic Fever.

It happened so slowly that I barely noticed it. At first I treated the Olympics with a certain nonchalance. Oh it's here...fine...if it has to be. Then I had it on in the background while I was doing something else. Then I started watching the odd event and then I looked up when the finals of certain events were, to ensure I didn't miss them.

Because that's what the Olympics does - it sucks you in. We all get swept up into this crazy two week adventure and go totally nuts. We just can't help it.

The reason for this, quite simply, is because the Olympic athletes are so inspiring. They have worked incredibly hard for many years to reach this point of skill and fitness - they are at the top of their game. And because the media bigs up their journey so much, we almost feel like we have been on this journey with them although the television crews can barely scratch the surface of the amount of work that truly goes on. And then we look on as they succeed or we see them fail.

Either way, it is incredibly emotional. These athletes put everything into the tiny amount of time it takes them to compete. Literally everything that they have. They don't half arse it, they don't give up. They fight to the very last second until they can give no more. And the emotions that are produced afterwards (whether that is due to elation or despair) are so raw, it is almost intrusive to watch it. And we go through the emotions with them.

I watched the incredible performances followed by the extreme happiness of so many athletes - Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow, Max Whitlock, Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, Andy Murray, Bryony Page and so many more....and I also saw the crushing disappointment of countless others.

I couldn't help but think what great role models these people are for youngsters. They advocate hard work, determination and never giving up on your ambitions which is an incredibly valuable thing to pass on to children. I hope that there were lots of children watching this summer, who then found out about a sport because one of their heroes won a gold in it. I hope they yearned to be like those people that we saw up on the podium. And I hope they copy them. Because if they do, there will be a great many fantastic Brits in the future.

Like what I say?
Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/CharlotteCoster
Follow me on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/CharliCoster/
Follow me on Instagram http://instagram.com/walkingintothesun
Like me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theworldwetread