Friday, 27 December 2013

Round up of the year 2013

As I am leaving tonight for Spain (yay) I just wanted to quickly finish up my blog for the year, now. I realise that it is a few days early but bear with me =]

First of all, I hope everyone had a wonderfully merry Christmas with copious amounts of food, alcohol and love. Despite having a bereavement in the family very recently, we did actually manage to have a lovely one (thanks for asking :P) And I got this wonderful present. Well done godmother for winning the most thoughtful present of the year award :D I love it and am trying to find a way to place it in the header of my blog somehow!

It's been a pretty awesome year really. I have become tipsy in Prague, watched the sun set over Florence, listened to a proper Irish folk band in Dublin and am about to welcome 2014 in Madrid. I have seen huge numbers of brilliant West End shows (, I became the first ever online editor of the Film and TV section of Spark*; I completed my final placement at university and did so many other crazy exciting things besides. Hopefully 2014 will be just as good, if not better. I have decided that this is the year that things happen. What things....well we will all just have to wait and find out.

And now all that is left to say is HELLO 2014. I will leave you with a few of my favourite articles from the year gone by. And I will see you all next year. HAPPY NEW YEAR.

RIP Grandma
What happens after university?
How it feels to be single at uni
Tales of woe from a shop assistant
Boarding schools
Live, Laugh, Love
Thank you parents

Love Charlotte x

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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

My Advent Calendar

Over the years I have had every single type of advent calendar imaginable: religious ones, funny ones with jokes in, chocolate ones, posh ones and homemade this year I decided to do something a little bit different. Each day, I gave myself a different treat. As you can see in the list below, it didn't always involve spending a load of money and sometimes it was only small. But every day I managed to think of something that made that day special.

And just a little note about these treats...they weren't always planned. Sometimes I would reach the end of the day and realise I hadn't really done anything 'exciting'. Or I had (on the odd day) a frankly horrible time. But looking at the list, you wouldn't be able to tell which ones they were because on reflecting on that day, I was always able to find something that I had enjoyed doing. Something that made the day, just a little bit brighter. And that's probably a good resolution to live by. If you're always looking for the good, you are going to be a much happier person, and it will help you become more upbeat, generally.

So here's my list. I might start doing this throughout the whole year....makes life seem a little more thrilling.

Sunday December 1st - Visited Winter Wonderland
Monday December 2nd - Coffee and cinema with my best friend
Tuesday December 3rd - put on fresh bed sheets (BEST FEELING EVER - just saying)
Wednesday December 4th - Buck's Fizz and doughnut night
Thursday December 5th - had a celebratory meal with my fellow Spark* editors
Friday December 6th - had a Christmas singsong
Saturday December 7th - surprised my sister
Sunday December 8th - had a pub roast
Monday December 9th - wore my Christmas jumper
Tuesday December 10th - booked theatre tickets
Wednesday December 11th - visited the Coca Cola Christmas Truck
Thursday December 12th - had a drunken  dance
Friday December 13th - completed my placement
Saturday December 14th -  Went to the theatre
Sunday December 15th - had a pajama day
Monday December 16th - caught up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while
Tuesday December 17th - drank a celebratory mulled cider
Wednesday December 18th - went to bed with a hot water bottle 
Thursday December 19th - watched a Christmas film
Friday December 20th - had a family get together
Saturday December 21st - was cosy & warm inside while listening to the rain on the window pane
Sunday December 22nd - had cake for breakfast
Monday December 23rd - had a festive latte
Tuesday December 24th - went to the beach and watched the waves crash against the sea barrier

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Monday, 23 December 2013

What does Christmas mean to you?

When someone mentions the word 'Christmas' to you, what is the first word which pops into your head. Do you think of the food, the alcohol, the music and singing? Do you think of the fashion, cuddling up in Christmas jumpers and woolly hats? Do you think of all the millions of TV specials and films? Or do you think of Santa Claus or even the baby Jesus, who somehow seems to have been buried under all the consumer paraphernalia in this celebratory season?

To me, the most important thing at this time of year is family. And that's immediately where my thoughts turn in this festive period. This is a time, sometimes the only time in the year, when we are actually altogether and make the effort to spend some proper time with each other (which should probably happen a little more frequently but it's better than nothing right?!) We simply hang out, laughing, arguing, eating, drinking and generally having fun. We revert to our childhood selves and (ultra competitively) play board games and watch films. We go on walks, catch up on each other's lives and spend some quality time together.

Christmas can be stressful yet I don't think it should be. That's not the point. People rush around the shops, trying to find that perfect gift and stocking up on enough food to feed a small country. But I believe everyone should relax, stop a minute and just appreciate what is in front of them. Be thankful. If you are in the warm and dry, opening gifts, absolutely stuffed and surrounded by one or more loved ones, you are so much luckier than the majority of people on this earth. So just have fun and try not to kill each other in the process.

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Friday, 20 December 2013


Dealing with loss is never easy, whether it is tragic or expected, whether they are young or old, whether you are close or not. A couple of weeks ago my grandmother passed away, who I was very close to, after battling various illnesses. So I was almost expecting the news. That did not make that day or today, the day of the funeral, any easier. I am truly thankful to my amazing family and friends who have been dealing with my vividly varied emotions in the past fortnight. They have been so exceedingly helpful. To also help me get through everything, I wrote this when I found's not perfect. I simply scribbled it in about 10 minutes but it comes from the heart.

Bye bye Grandma
you are in a better place.
So I'll try not to be selfish about this,
I'll try not to miss your face,
your huge smile,
your ever ready love.
And I hope you're chatting to everyone,
entertaining the heavens above.
In the meantime I will carry on here
and try to make you proud
in everything that I say and do.
I'll stand out from the crowd
so you can spot me easily
and keep an eye on me
because I need all the help I can get
to be the best I can be.
Don't abandon me completely,
please stay by my side.
I need to feel that you're still around
but you'll never be far from my mind.
Au revoir Grandma,
off you go to your new home.
I know you'll be looking down on me,
so I will never feel alone.

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Sunday, 15 December 2013


I'll be honest, it was the cast that really attracted me to go to see this play. I knew absolutely nothing about the play itself. And much as I would love to say I went to enhance my literary education, I really can't. Because when a cast is made up of Ben Whishaw, Colin Morgan, Brendan Coyle, Daniel Mays, Rupert Grint and Tom Rhys Harries, there's no way you can say no.

But ignoring that side of things for a moment, the play itself was absolutely fantastic. Hugely funny and gripping, it was an interesting insight into human character. Each character represented another part of society that you can find all around you, even if you don't work in a bar and the outcome was just so so funny.

Of course, a lot of this was down to the actors themselves. Daniel Mays' comic timing was spot on throughout and him and Rupert Grint had some great moments where they just bounced off each other. Grint was ok and played a character who was very similar to the Ron Weasley of the first couple of films, following the much brighter Potts (Mays) like a slightly lost puppy dog. Brendan Coyle on the other hand, couldn't be playing someone more different to his Bates from Downton Abbey. Keeping all the youngsters in order, with the slightest raise of tone, he showed his immense acting ability. Ben Whishaw was a scarily unpredictable character, who played out the sudden mood swings to perfection, sparring with Colin Morgan's character in a truly hilarious but frightening way where you weren't sure what was going to happen next. The pair of them acted beyond their years right to the sudden climax at the end. Morgan's final few moments on stage is one of the most heartbreaking and expertly acted scenes I have ever seen in theatre. And then finally, Tom Rhys Harries is a relative newcomer who, in my opinion, was one of the most impressive simply for his ability to hang upside down for around 20 minutes without passing out. No mean feat.

 As I have already said and can't stop saying, this play was just excellent. Excellent cast who acted excellently in an excellently written play...I think that just about sums it up. You have to go and see it. That is all.

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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I always say that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is my favourite Roald Dahl book. Which is a cliché in itself and I am not sure how entirely true it is. It has been a very long time since I have read it, although the fact that my copy is extremely dog eared indicates that I may have read it a lot as a child. But since then, the plot of the original story, has been polluted by two very contrasting films and now this - the brand new musical.

Produced by the ever brilliant Sam Mendes, everyone was expecting a bit of a showstopper and I was not disappointed. I have to say it is a beautiful musical. That's the only way I can describe it. The sets are truly something to behold. Each room that they go into is absolutely stunning with huge scenery, daring props (that are very reliant on technology it appeared) and wonderful costumes that all made it a marvel for the eyes. It was totally gorgeous. The detail, the brightness, the was all exactly right. No other musical has been quite that big.

Another way that this musical is bigger than any other than I have seen, was by the pure breadth of what was included within it. You couldn't say that it fit one particular style because everything was there - there was rapping, electro music, street dancing, ballet, tap, funny bits, sad bits, slow bits, action filled bits...what a complete and utter rollercoaster. In the same way that the children were on a massive journey so were we and it really did keep you gripped until the end.

Talking of the children, having a cast where the majority of the leads are below 12, is always going to be a massive risk. But these kids were great. Talented, professional and true to the original characters, while at the same time, bringing their own bit of flair to each one. They were all kept dutifully in hand by a host of awesome supporting adults, with Willie Wonka at the helm, played by Douglas Hodge. His wonderfully whacky portrayal was a little more subdued than either of the films' versions, making him much more lovable, as I always felt like he should be. He played him with casual skill, making it look effortless as he bounced off the children and drew you into the world.

This was a very good portrayal that you had enthralled in a different world for a few hours...there was so much going on you didn't quite know where to look. However, I was wondering how suitable it actually was for children, despite the fact it is a children's book and has always meant to be for children. And there were a lot in the audience. But would they actually be able to keep up? Would they understand some of the events going on? And what's more, would they hear the odd swear word that crept into a couple of the songs. But for me personally, I loved the whole exciting production. And as I was the one who grew up with this book constantly on my bedside table, that is how it should be.

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Wednesday, 4 December 2013


At the beginning of my blog, in my very first post, I made a number of declarations about what I wanted to include here - - and one of those bullet points I haven't even touched on once in the whole year and a half I have been writing for you. So to fill the little creative gap, here is a little short story for you that I scribbled a few days ago. Enjoy.

My best friend
You know how they all say that you have a devil sitting on your left shoulder while an angel perches on your right...and you should attempt to ignore that little thing speaking into your left ear at all costs? Well, they're all wrong. None of you know anything. Who knows what rubbish you have been paying attention to.
I was lucky enough to be put right very quickly. Because in my left ear, I hear only one voice. That of my best friend, Annie King. She's just perfect, everything that I could ever dream of being: kind, generous, wise and intelligent, creative and determined. And absolutely beautiful - slim with long brown hair that shimmers down her back. Never a horrid word is uttered from her perfect red lips and her pearly white teeth are always on show as she beams at everyone around her. She makes everyone feel good simply by saying hello to them. By turning those startling green eyes on you, you feel...just great. And then she smiles and you soar up to become the luckiest person in the world.
Not that you could be. Because, actually, I am the luckiest person in the world.
She is my best friend and I can talk to her whenever I want. And she talks to me, whenever I need her. Some would call her bossy. I think she's helpful.
She always reminds me when I have forgotten to do something. Like that time I completely forgot about this essay I had to write.
'You're not allowed any dinner until you get it done!' she told me firmly.
Unfortunately it took me two days so I missed a few more meals than just that one, but it worked. I got it done. In fact, I was given an A for it. It was all down to her.
And she was always there to motivate me too. When I was training for the half marathon, she was completely in charge of my diet, ensuring that I got that perfect balance. For weeks my food was restricted and my training was upped. But it worked. I came third. It was all down to her.
We did some work experience together recently and were totally rushed off our feet. But we dragged each other through it.
'Here have some chewing gum. And drink lots of water. You'll forget about it soon.'
She was right. As normal.
It was really hard that week actually. So much to do, so little time, So, at the end of the month, we decided to let our hair down a bit.
'Let's celebrate' suggested Annie 'I haven't been dancing for ages.'
I slipped on a dress and Annie beamed sincerely at me, forcing me to do a shy twirl.
'You look gorgeous' she enthused.
I didn't. It hung lifelessly down my body, attempting to cling to my pathetically small curves. Annie looked amazing. As always.
We downed shots. Then some drinks. Then some more shots. The wooziness had been in my head before we'd even started so I knew I wasn't going to last the whole night. This time I was right.
We'd walked about half a mile to the club. Easy. But as we reached the bouncers at the entrance, I let myself down. My head smashed on to the hard tarmac and my legs began to shiver uncontrollably as my breathing became fast and shallow. In the distance I heard several yells.
'How much has she had to drink?' A crowd was forming around me.
'Basically nothing. She was fine.'
'Did she eat anything?'
I didn't catch the answer to that one. I looked to my left and let out a small sigh of relief.
Annie smiled down at me and stroked my hair.
'You're going to be just fine.'
I know I was. As long as she was there. And she was always there. She was always right.
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Thursday, 21 November 2013

What happens next?

If you are around 21 or 22 years old I think you should give yourself a pat on the back. You have made it through 14 years of school, conquering SATS (when are these going to be scrapped?? These kids have only just learnt to write for goodness sake); GCSEs (and its coursework) and A levels (and its COURSEWORK). You stressed through personal statements and university applications. You managed to grab one of those elusive places (I still have no idea how I did that!) and you furiously scribbled your way through more COURSEWORKKKKK, presentations, essays, reports, commentaries, evaluations and exams to get that degree certificate. You're still in your early twenties and you have never before been able to move without a hefty textbook falling on your toe. But now, what has almost been 20 years of education, has come abruptly to a halt. And you are in the big bad world.


This is what hit me this morning. Whilst walking to a placement to get experience in a field that I know I definitely do not want to work in. The enormity of it all suddenly crashed into me. In just over six months, I will be free which should be super exciting. And it is. But it is rather like letting a child out of a playpen and into a ginormous toyshop. I have no idea where to turn. And it all costs money.

Unfortunately for me, not many of my friends are sharing my concerns. I am on a teacher training course so the majority of them know exactly what they want to do, come September. Snaps for them. I, however, have decided that teaching isn't for me and, as good as it is that I have found this out now rather than later, it has left me more than a little lost. Because I have virtually no clue about what I do actually want to do. Funnily enough, a mere few hours after having a mini melt down about this, my friend (on a different continent, hundreds of miles away) who graduated last July, messaged me for a chat, desperately needing my sympathy/advice because she was freaking about the exact same thing. It was good to know that I wasn't alone. And I have a sneaky feeling that the majority of people who are at university not doing a vocational course will be experiencing something roughly the same.

So my advice is this (I will try to stick to these rules as well)....use your twenties to try things out. Apply to every single job that takes your fancy and see what suits you. Don't get stuck doing something you hate (plenty of time to do that later) and definitely don't sell your soul to a company quite yet. No need to settle until you are completely sure you are not going to want to slit your wrists in 20 years time. If you want to travel, do that now too. Once you are on the job ladder, it will be so much harder to pull yourself off it and go back to having no money/having to start on the bottom rung again. And finally, don't worry about the future - try not to judge a job on whether you want to still be doing this in 20 or 30 years time because invariably that will freak you out. Just take each day/year as it comes. You will manage to find something eventually as life somehow does have a way of working itself out. That's the hope I am clinging to anyway.

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Thursday, 14 November 2013

List of performances I have been to see

This is for me more than anyone else and to show off just I am. So here I go

West End Musicals (in order of preference)
Hairspray - in Southampton and Norwich
The Lion King
Billy Elliot in Victoria Palace Theatre, London x2 and Southampton
Guys and dolls
Show Boat
Half a Sixpence - in Chichester x2 and Noel Coward Theatre, London
Miss Saigon x2
Made in Dagenham x2
Funny Girl
Jersey Boys x2
From Here to Eternity x2
Bend it like Beckham
Mary Poppins - in Southampton
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - in Southampton and Edinburgh
Book of Mormon
The Last Five Years
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels x2
Memphis x2
Once x2
Phantom of the Opera
Top Hat
Wicked x2
Wizard of Oz
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory x2
Grease - in Southampton
Chicago - in Southampton 
Urinetown the Musical
Kinky Boots
An American in Paris
Mamma Mia
The Commitments
Les Miserables x2
Kiss Me Kate - in Chichester
Mack and Mabel - in Chichester 
Matilda the Musical
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - in Reading
Dirty Dancing
In The Heights
I Can't Sing. The X Factor Musical
Viva Forever

West End Plays
The Cripple of Inishman
Shakespeare in Love
A Mad world by Masters (RSC)
Nell Gwynn
Bug (London Fringe)
An Enemy of the People (CFT)
A Room with a View (CFT)
Sex with Strangers (London Fringe)
Forty Years On (CFT)
The Country Girls (CFT)
Sweet Bird of Youth (CFT)
Gloria (London Fringe)

Henry V - Globe Theatre
The Tempest - 3 times - Globe Theatre
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Globe Theatre
Romeo and Juliet - Branagh Theatre starring Lily James at Garrick Theatre
Much Ado About Nothing - RSC at CFT
Love's Labour's Lost - RSC at CFT

Gigs (most recently viewed first)
Katy Perry with Iconapop as the special guests
Maroon 5 with Robin Thicke as the special guest!
Nina Nesbitt (unplugged Live on the beach)
Paloma Faith
Jason Mraz
Joe Brooks
Hackney Weekend - Jessie J, Professor Green, Bombay Bicycle Club, Ben Howard, Tinie Tempah, Labrinth, Plan B
Lucy Rose
John Barrowman

Comedians I have seen live (most recently viewed first)
Miranda Hart
Russell Howard
Sarah Millican
Rhod Gilbert
Daniel Sloss x3
Ed Byrne

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Wednesday, 13 November 2013


It is safe to say that I have been to see quite a few musicals. And, despite the fact that each one is very different in terms of stories and sets, the special effects and structure of each one runs in a similar vein to the rest. Therefore, I didn't think that much could surprise me any more. I was wrong. From the very beginning, Once proved to be totally unique and unlike anything that I had come across in the West End before.

For a start you were allowed up on to the stage -  which is every theatre addict's little dream. So of course, we took advantage and went up there to buy our pint at the fake yet real bar that was used as both a set and an actual bar. As we were doing so, the stars of the show came out and started playing together. As if it was a real Irish bar. In Ireland. But it wasn't. We were in London. At the theatre. Mind = blown. With all the actors, present already, the pre show rolled effortlessly into the start of the actual show without a big deal. A mere dimming of the lights and a brisk shooing of the audience from the stage and we were immediately thrown into the Irish world that encompassed Once. But to be honest, we had already been there for quite a while and this unique beginning gave the show such a realistic feel to it, that you felt a complete part of the action, rather than simply watching a spectacle in front of your eyes. It also helped that the leading lady, Zrinka Cvitešić, appeared on stage after walking through the audience, giving the impression that she was one of us.

This realistic feel remained throughout the whole production, as did the set itself, never changing from the bar scene at the beginning. There were very few props and lacked even an orchestra with the small cast (which was only made up of 15 people) accompanying themselves on the piano, accordion, ukulele, guitar, violin and drums. So if you have taken away the majority of things which make a musical great, the cast has to be superb, to make up for it. And luckily this one was. In particular, the two leads (Cvitešić and Declan Bennett who are billed simply as Guy and Girl) but everybody pulled their weight and proved their musical talent as well as their excellent acting abilities. They all led us on an emotional ride that just chucked you all over the place.

If you are looking for a massive, extravaganza of a showstopper, this musical is not for you. What you will get is an uncomplicated, unfrilly display of pure talent that will take your breath away. With fitting dialogue and truly beautiful singing, I was totally enthralled right up until the deeply unsatisfying (but elegant) end.

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Saturday, 2 November 2013

Nights out at uni

Continuing along the what-is-it-like-living-at-uni theme that I seem to have going on here at the moment (I am clearly getting nostalgic in my old age) I thought that I would give a little insight into my experiences of clubbing as a student. And the main thing I have to say about this is that it is extremely hard work. For girls anyway. Let me explain...

Nights out for females, and some males as well, include properly intense preparation. We primp, pamper and make ourselves up, make heart wrenching decisions about what to wear and how to do our hair. It takes hours! While, at the same time, some guys just turn up after merely changing their shirts. I am so jealous of them.

But it doesn't stop there. Once we have gone through all that it comes to the actual event. For those of us that are single it turns into a night of eyeing up guys, deciding whether they are hot enough, flirting with those that make the cut, while trying to fend off those that don't...

But, believe it or not boys, not everybody does that. Sometimes we just don't want to 'pull' and have simply come out for a laugh with our friends. And yes, we may have made an effort but that isn't necessarily for your benefit. We just like to make ourselves look pretty simply because it is a great excuse to dress up and put on a pretty dress. It is the little girl inside of us making a reappearance, the ones who like to play princess. Therefore do not be surprised if we tell you to go away - not all of us want to pull. Least of all because a few of us, are actually in happy relationships. Or sometimes just because you are ugly.

So whether you are in a relationship or not, these nights do tend to end up as being quite hard work - whether you are trying to attract the opposite sex or beat them away. And they say a woman's work is never has never been more true.

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Friday, 25 October 2013

Single life at university

One of my female friends asked me the other day 'What is it like to not have a boyfriend while at uni?' She is 21 years old and hasn't been single since she was 16. In fact, she will probably marry this guy. Therefore if I wanted her to be able to understand what it's truly like, I had to come up with a very simple analogy. So what I eventually told her was this:

Being single at university is like looking for a dress in a charity shop. You normally aren't intending to go there but have a wander around to see if anything fits. You can be in there for hours, sifting through piles of crap yet find nothing which is always very frustrating. But now you have started searching, you don't want to give up. Occasionally you find something you kind of like but it's not your usual style and it's not long before you get bored of it. And then, very occasionally, you find an absolute gem. Something that you wouldn't dream that you would find and is so perfect for you that you couldn't imagine wanting anything else. Again, it might not have been exactly what you were looking for but somehow you couldn't imagine living without it. Those feelings of love and excitement never get old and it makes it all worth it.

That's what it's like being single at university. Carry on sifting through the crap, girls and guys.

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Oracle Student Takeover

For a shopaholic who has just received her student loan, this annual event at my local shopping centre was always going to be dangerous. Lured in by the advertisement of freebies and hugely discounted clothes, I spent A LOT. But who, cares? I have a lot of pretty things to show for it and that's all that matters.

So what exactly did I buy? can see pretty much all of it here. And you can see that I am a woman of many layers because not only did I buy clothes but also a bag, a piece of jewellery and, most excitingly, notebooks. Yes you heard me right, I am a complete stationery freak and I am not even ashamed to admit it. Notebooks are my weakness - but I am a writer so it is completely necessary for me to have lots and lots of them rightttttttt?

The whole place was absolutely buzzing with students rushing from shop to shop trying to grab the best bargains before everything sold out. Girls were scanning the rails with serious dedication, swinging from one section to the next, never pausing for a mere browse. This was shopping at its most aggressive and not for the fainthearted.

We didn't bother with changing rooms and opted for a buy-now-return-it-later policy. We definitely didn't want to have any regrets when items were this cheap. So we bought. And we searched. And we bought some more. Right up until the end of the night at 11pm where there were only a few hardcore students left scraping the barrel and keeping the shop assistants awake. It hadn't been easy. We'd been pushed and shoved, elbowed and stepped on. There had been disappointments - perfect boots that didn't have our size, beautiful bags that had to be rejected because they had a mark on them. And what can I say about Topshop - a broken aircon system and too many people in that tiny upstairs bit (I can not WAIT until it expands next year) meant that we all had to strip off our layers and walk around as if we were at the beach.

But we made it! And to celebrate we went to Macdonalds. At 11pm. Which normally is only acceptable if you are trying to sober up. Even that had its problems. Firstly, they turned off the McFlurry machine. WHYYYYYY would they do that? So I had to settle for a toffee muffin which just wasn't up to scratch (I think it had been sitting in that display case all day). And then when me and my friend tried to go to the toilet (a basic human right) they had turned the motion sensors off. Therefore we had to pee in the dark. WHYYYYYY would they do that? Evil people. And let me tell you, peeing by phone light is difficult and frankly a little unhygienic.

Despite this though, I did have a fun night. After lugging all our purchases home, I think we were all a little delirious. But it was so worth it. I picked up some great bargains.

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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Why come to university?

Odd as it may seem, I am a little envious of 17 year olds right now. With school having just restarted they are approaching the most exciting time of their young lives – the exploration of universities, trawling the country for that perfect institution which can offer all the opportunities they want. If they want it. That is the big question that everyone is asking these youngsters – do you want to go to university? And their immediate response should be a resounding yes.
My own days of applications seem like a distant memory now, occurring almost four years ago as I prepare myself for my fourth year of Primary Education at Reading University. The past three years have been a whirlwind and this decision remains to be the best I have ever made. I chose to study Primary Education because I wanted to do something more than simply sit in a classroom (which I had been doing for the previous 14 years of my education) and within the course, I had a range of practical placements as well as the traditional lectures. Nowhere else could I have gained the breadth of experiences (both good and bad) that I did, which all helped me to grow into the adult that I am today. It is here that I am finally beginning to find out exactly who Charlotte Coster is. I thought I knew her pretty well by the time I’d left school, but over the past years she has continued to change in a way that surprised me. And she has done things, I never thought her capable of.
This is what university is all about – finding out who you are. It is so easy to look at the £9,000 fee and say ‘That is so not worth it, for a piece of paper.’ Which is completely true. It’s lucky that university is so much more than your final degree classification. It’s about finding a subject you love and doing it to death. It’s about doing an all-nighter because you’ve left that essay until the last possible second. And then getting the next one in a day early because you don’t want to give yourself any more grey hairs. It’s about finding a group of friends you can’t live without. It’s about learning to place more than vodka and pot noodles into your shopping basket. It’s about making mistakes and fixing them. And, most importantly, it’s about learning to live. And to be honest, that’s something that money can’t buy.
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Saturday, 12 October 2013

A quick apology

I am sure I wrote a post similar to this, last year as well, but I just wanted to apologise briefly (but profusely) for my lack of writing recently. The start of the year at uni is always a little crazy what with Freshers' week, trying to catch up with all those people you haven't been able to see for 3 months and sorting out everything for the coming year of study. And it has all been a little more poignant this year as it is to be my fourth and final one. Hugely excited as I am to be heading into the world of work, I know I will miss this place where I have had so many incredible experiences and made so many friends. Therefore I am trying to get everything out of uni that I possible can as I don't want to have any regrets when I finally leave. And that started with Freshers' week. I am proud to announce that I was out every night with the youngsters and I lived to tell the tale. Who knew that SO MUCH DRAMA could occur in one week?? But I guess that's what happens when alcohol is involved!

Sooooooo...bring on final year. Hopefully it won't just be a year of stress but also of fun, booze, and opportunities that I will grab before I leave them all behind. I will make sure I document some of it for you guys so you see what I get up to and I promise to be a little more faithful to the blog as the year progresses. Let fourth year commence.

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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Tales of a shop assistant

Today was a historic moment in Charlotte World. After over three years of working there, I finished my last ever shift at One Stop (even those in the UK often haven't heard of this shop - it's a convenience store and most of them have been overtaken by Tesco Expresses so it's a bit of a dying breed.) I made the decision to give up work a few months ago, so that while I am in my final year of university I can concentrate on my studies. I think I am going to find this year stressful enough without having to stress about paid work as well. When I head back down to my parents, I simply want to relax and chill and we definitely do not do that in this shop. So, although I may regret it when I am starving in a few months time, it is a huge relief at the moment.

Recently I have very much fallen out of love with being a shop assistant. I believe they are the modern day servants, or the closest thing that you will find anyway. Ever polite and friendly and smiling, all we get in return are grumpy customers who complain that our human customer service is not quite perfect enough. Or they send us on errands around the shop to find things that they could easily have found themselves if only they had used a little bit of common sense. I generally am quite a friendly person and always want people to like me. But I have become very bored of trying to be patient with those people who seem to have forgotten basic human manners. If they have been brought up well rather than dragged up, they should have learnt that it is common courtesy to say please and thank you. It is something which I do automatically now at 21, yet some who have had 20 more years of practice seem a little too busy looking down their nose at me to be decent.

The thing that bugs me most is the automatic assumption that I am stupid because I work in a shop. If people were a little too obvious about this, I would casually drop into conversation how I was a training to be a teacher at a top English university and that normally shut them up. But even if I wasn't, none of the people I work with are stupid. It all suits us for different reasons. Some are deciding what they want to do next, some have families and the flexibility is useful for them, some are making their way up to manager positions...whatever the reason, no human has the right to look down on someone else because of their choices. And the people I work with are far more friendly than any I serve so I hold them in far more esteem despite being mere shop assistants!

Saying that, I did have some fun times. My colleagues are amazing and I made some awesome friends. We always had such a giggle, whoever I worked with, mostly at the customers. I was flirted with, shouted at, thanked, praised, criticised, embarrassed by and laughed at by a huge range of people. I had drunk people slurring at me, I was asked on several dates, fancied by a kid, and had some of the weirdest conversations ever. All in all it's probably made me a better, more patient person. So it must have done me some good.

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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

About time

It's very easy to enjoy Richard Curtis films, although they do tend to be aimed at the same group of people every time. And clearly I am part of that group as I seem to like every single one.

To be totally honest though, I wasn't sure of this one. The trailer just showed it to be yet another mundane romantic comedy and I have kind of grown out of those recently. It just looked like any other. With significant traces of The Time Traveller's Wife, it seems that Rachel McAdams once again finds a time traveller for a husband. How does she manage it? I didn't think there were that many of them about.

But the trailer definitely does not do this film justice. What is sadly missing from those little clips is the warmth and humour brought on by the incredible talents of Bill Nighy, surrounded by an excellent cast. It is an adorable story and despite the idea being a little far fetched, it is vaguely realistic with compassionate dialogue and emotions that most can relate to. Domhnall Gleeson (who is basically unknown except for brief appearances in Never Let Me Go, Anna Karenina and Harry Potter) is an excellent leading man who sweeps us along with his humour and a lot of sensitivity.

It took a while for it get going and the slow pace at the beginning was a little dull. But once it finally did get into the swing of things, I fell in love with the cute story and the mix of emotions that it made me feel along the way. There were many laughs and a few tears (well, I don't cry generally at films...but I nearly did. So if I was normal I would have). One of the best moments was undoubtedly the message that it ended very abruptly with. It reminded you of what it believes to be the most important thing of all - love, friendship and living for today. And I agree with the film. You shouldn't regret what has gone on in the past, as you are unable to change it. Just live for now and work to change the future so you can live life to the full. If we all followed that, I am sure the world would be a much happier place.

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Sunday, 1 September 2013

Shoutout to myself

As I took so much effort coming up with a new Instagram name and editing each of my blogposts to display this name, I thought I would bring it to your attention.

Welcome to the social media world, WalkingIntoTheSun. I am quite proud of my little Instagram gallery which I have been adding to since last July so go and check out my cheeky snaps. There are a few pretty sunsets in there, lots from Italy, a few fashion, a few of my face and many other things besides.

If you don't have an account, there is a link below. And, if you do, make sure you follow me - as you can tell, I do update regularly. Here are just a few  examples to whet your appetites

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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Top 10 items to pack for university

This time last year I wrote an article about what all first year students should make the effort to do in their Fresher's week (which you can read here So this year I thought I would be a good Samaritan once again and very helpfully tell you what to pack. In reverse order, here are the top 10 items that you just can't live without at university during your Fresher's year.

Number 10: Toothbrush
Pretty self explanatory really - no one will like you or talk to you if you have stinky breath. Honestly, as if you have to ask...

Number 9: Ipod
Hugely useful for a number of different reasons. It can be a good ice breaker at the beginning, to start discussions about different music that you can be great if you join certain sports and are training or running for them. And finally it can be used in an academic sense as well. Some people like to record their lectures and this can then be uploaded to ipod and listened back. A good way of revising later in the year.

Number 8: Alarm Clock
There's no way you lazy first years will get out of bed without one. Especially now there are no parents to kick you out of it first thing. If you want to make those horrendous 9am lectures, you might have to invest in one.

Number 7: Diary/Calendar
Again, this is completely necessary to make sure you turn up to all your commitments at the right time, in the right place. And this is not just for academic ones either but social and society get togethers. There is a huge amount going on at uni and if you want to keep track of everything, this is a necessity.

Number 6:  A pair of trackie bottoms and a hoodie
Although during the first few weeks, Freshers tend to dress up in their best clothes for lectures, this urge doesn't last long. Believe me, older years look and laugh and you can always spot who the first years are. When you are bogged down with work and had no sleep for three nights straight because you are trying to finish an essay (or just have great stamina for going out) it will be a marvel if you manage to pull jeans on. These two items of clothing are a must for those slobby days when you can't be bothered to move. Or those stressful ones, where you can't leave your desk. Or, the worst of the lot, those hungover ones where you can't move without puking.

Number 5: Photographs
Leaving home can be a bit strange and discomforting. Make sure you have plenty of keepsakes to remind you of everything. And gradually over the year you will add to them with all your great Fresher's memories. Lots of halls don't like blue tac so make sure you bring white tac, frames and pins as well.

Number 4: A formal dress/suit
Most universities will have a Freshers' ball or formal of some kind. And will definitely have certain events throughout the year. So make sure you have a suitably stunning dress or suit to wow your fellow students with.

Number 3: Bottle opener
In an effort to get away from the stereotype of nobody actually being able to remember their freshers week at all, universities definitely won't supply this, even if they are kind enough to supply other cutlery. It's an absolutely must.

Number 2: Notebook
Fresher's is a once in a lifetime occurrence that won't be repeated so many people like to keep a diary or scrap book during their time to remember everything that goes on. I did and it's a lovely keepsake that I will hang on to for the rest of my life.

Number 1: ID (eg passport or driver's licence)
These days you can't get in anywhere without it. So if you don't want to feel left out when everyone else is off enjoying themselves, I suggest you remember it. And then try your best not to drunkenly lose it.

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Saturday, 24 August 2013

Top shows I have seen

Today is a landmark day...exactly a year ago I went to my first ever West End show - the Wizard of Oz. Which was clearly the start of a slight addiction. Like with smoking, once I had the slight taste of it, I longed for more and over the past twelve months, I have ended up going 14 times. So this is where all my money has gone...but why not? So long as you are enjoying yourself does it actually really matter?

Far and away the best is Hairspray - so upbeat, colourful and fun. love every minute of it. Billy Elliot is my next favourite - slightly less colourful as it is set in the grim north in a grim period during the 70s but it remains to be the only musical that has moved me to tears. Believe me - that never happens. Had some truly stunning dancing in it. Next up, I love Jersey Boys. Entertaining throughout, it was very skilfully done and there was A LOT of singing. Not quite as much as Les Mis though - a happy medium. Number 4 in my rankings, I only saw the other day but I simply adored Top Hat. It is a really simple plot, has a cute romantic story and is really very funny. Loved all the tap dancing as well...definitely my favourite kind. And then next up is Wicked - one of the most famous musicals of our age. Such a captivating story and I love all the progression of the characters and how it fits into the Wizard of Oz.

So there you have it - a brief run down of my absolutely favourites out of the many I have seen and they are definitely my highest recommendations. I will have to see how these rankings change in the next year or so and how many other joyous productions I see. Let me know what your favourites are or if you view any of mine in a slightly different order.

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Friday, 23 August 2013

When the world JJ Marshall

Recently I was asked by brand new novelist JJ Marshall to be the official reviewer for his debut novel and to let him know what I thought of it. I was honoured, especially as I had enjoyed the book so is what I said. Check it out and then buy the novel - it's really enjoyable =]

When the World Ends... is the debut novel from exciting new author, J. J Marshall. Set 100 years in the future, the 21st century earth as we know it now is slowly being burned up by the sun and the story follows 17 year old Alec Corbett’s struggle to prosper in the new harsh environment of space. Not only that, but there are more sinister forces at work beneath the surface, who pose a threat to all of humanity. And somehow Alec gets right in the middle of trying to stop it.
Being drawn into this futuristic world is quite an experience. The twisty-turny plot will keep you captivated from beginning to end and Marshall will completely absorb you into this make believe world that he has created. Through detailed description, he leaves no stone unturned and it is a credit to the depth of his imagination that translates every aspect of this new version of earth on to the page.
The main protagonist, Alec is likeable and well explored. His character sees the biggest progression as the novel continues and he has been given a sufficient amount of emotional depth to allow the reader to care about what happens to him. His dialogues with other characters are well thought out and help to continuously move the plot forward in a gripping way. The introduction of a main character reasonably late in the novel was an unexpected and exciting occurrence and I look forward to seeing her develop further in the remaining two books of the trilogy.
This book is a well written, gripping, plot-driven adventure and Marshall’s easily readable style makes it effortless to read. Within its pages there is something for everyone – from action to romance and everything in between. The author skilfully keeps you enthralled with shock revelations and a fast pace that makes it addictively entertaining. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how the story continues so make sure you don’t miss out on this thrilling new summer read.
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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Happy birthday

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to The World According to Charlotte Costerrrrrr
Happy birthday to you.

This blog is exactly a year old today. It's been a good year - 47 posts consisting of a mixture of discussions, silliness, reviews and personal articles. And just over 4,000 views from all over the world. Next year I am aiming to reach 10,000 views and 100 articles so keep checking out this site for more awesomeness!

Thanks to anyone and everyone who has ever read my articles. Please keep doing so. =]

Love Charlotte x

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It's ok to be weird

The title of this blog post is actually a quote from one of my friends, which she said to me quite a few weeks ago now. But I have been saving up this controversial sentence as I thought it would make an interesting discussion. Because is it actually ok to be weird? Or are we actually living in a seemingly all-accepting society that is completely different just below the surface.

The society we live in now, appears to be (and is advertised as) the most free society of our modern era and us western women in particular can enjoy many more freedoms than we have done in the past 100 years or so. Now I am not about to get into an equality debate or a race debate or anything like that. Believe me, I have a lot to say on these issues so it's not probably not the best idea to encourage me. What I really want to talk about is the general acceptance of people.

I have found, that the older I get the less I care what people think of me and I think this is a part of growing up. When I was a child and more so when I was a teenager, all I wanted to do was please people. That led to people thinking I was two faced etc etc but it is much more complicated than that. It was that I didn't think myself to be good enough so I hid who I actually was and became what people wanted me to be.

However, as I hit university and became surrounded by quite a few others who were just as crazy as I am, the real me started to emerge. Which, quite frankly, is bordering on insane (although I do still say that it is training to be a teacher which has driven me to be this way). And we all agree that life would be a lot more dull if we were normal. But even if it wasn't, we shouldn't have to live to other people's expectations. For once, I think we should all be completely in charge of our personalities and not be drive to act in a way that society expects from us. Or by copying people who we expect to be the norm (such as on television or in magazines). It is our life and we should live it exactly the way that we want. So go on and have a go - do something whacky, behave inappropriately in public, have a laugh with your friends...generally it makes life far more enjoyable.

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Saturday, 3 August 2013

Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge

It's not every day that a birth of a baby makes front page news of every newspaper, national or local, in the country. Shock horror: woman who has been pregnant for 9 months, gives birth. But then this was no ordinary baby.

This was the baby of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who was born at 4.24 on 22nd July 2013. Within minutes of the announcement of his birth (around 8.30pm on the same day), Twitter and Facebook had gone crazy and he had his own Wikipedia page. Not many four-hour-olds can boast that distinction. So why is the country so infatuated by this undeniably cute little thing?

I think for a lot of people, the royal baby proved to be a wonderful distraction from our own everyday stresses and worries. Here was this little beautiful child and we could all share in their celebrations and joy. Brits love to feel patriotic and, similar to the Jubilee and Olympics last year and the royal wedding the year before, we just love to show off our love. Throughout the days we live in our news tends to dwell on the hardships and depressing things going on in our world. So it's no wonder we Brits love to jump up and celebrate anything that we can. And what a thing to celebrate. Birth and life instead of makes such a change! No wonder we grasped it so strongly. London went crazy with flags everywhere and announcements all over the place. I won't be surprised if the 22nd becomes a national holiday...anything to cheer us up.

What I do find rather depressing though, is that this little creature is more important than I will ever be. Isn't it insane, that this tiny baby will one day rule us? It is the first time that my generation have experienced these feelings and it will be so interesting for us youngsters to watch him grow in the same way our parents watched William progress into the heir he is today. It was definitely a historical moment and one that I am really happy that I got to be a part of.

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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Interrailing around Italy!!!!

It is safe to say that I have wanted to go to Italy for a very long time. Ever since I can remember, in fact. And I am not even sure why because until fairly recently, I have not even known what there is to see in Italy. But since my teenage years, I have become obsessed with the idea of going. And finally this dream of mine has come true - what a total dream it was.

We went literally everywhere starting in Venice - such a beautiful town. Full of the most beautiful views and canals. I loved the lack of vehicles on the roads, due to the fact that most people travelled by boat which left the pavements and roads completely free. Plus, I was in my little piece of heaven because Venice is full of the most beautiful architecture. I am a sucker for beautiful buildings, squares and bridges, so I was in my element here.

Next up we travelled to the nearby town of Verona and the 24 hours we spent here was definitely not enough. It is an undeniably cute town, filled to the brim with culture, music and literature. I was able to visit Juliet's square and house (although she was a fictional character, Shakespeare based both his main characters on real people) which delighted my literary nerdiness. Plus we were able to get tickets to watch the opera in the Roman arena for that evening - with the beautiful backdrop and the amazingness of watching a Verdi opera in Italy, it made for a pretty perfect evening.

Bologna ended up being a complete joke. Our instructions told us to get the no. 25 bus from the station and it would stop right outside our hotel. So we got on to the correct bus but ended up going the wrong way out of town. So we got off it, swapped to the other side of the road, and travelled back through the centre of Bologna, this time getting off at the right stop. But what a local had told us would be a 20 minute walk turned into an hour and half's walk to our hotel (part of it following the motorway). Needless to say we were extremely grumpy by the time we had checked in and eager to get out of that silly town. So all we saw were the brief glimpses from the bus window but I did see some of the many porticoes that my guide book had described to me.

So we headed on swiftly to Florence. This was one of the places that I was most looking forward to and I saw an incredible amount of beautiful art this weekend including some excellent Botticellis. I climbed a million steps to the roof of the bell tower which hurt a lot but was so worth it for the views of the town. Another highlight was the Pitti Palazzo, the stunning home of the Medici family. Elaborately decorated and accompanied by huge stunning gardens, we spent hours there. Was totally gorgeous. We spent our final night there up at Michelangelo's square watching the sun go down over the city. It was truly lovely and made even more special because I spent it with my American friend Laney who I hadn't seen since March while she'd been rushing around Europe. She returns to America in two weeks time so I am glad I got to see her before she runs back across the pond.

Next we headed down (on a double decker train) to Naples. But actually we didn't spend a lot of time in the city itself. The evening we arrived, we went for a wander and finally I felt that I was in real Italy (rather than being in a touristy equivalent). We had the best pizza ever that first night, not overly surprising considering that it is the Home of Pizza. The next day we had a day of historical education, visiting Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Vesuvius. I climbed a volcano. Was an incredible experience, lending us some beautiful views. And it is the only active volcano on mainland Europe. Walking around Pompeii was one of my favourite experiences as well. It was so huge with so many well preserved buildings. It is incredible to think that once upon a time, this was a busy living town, and then in mere hours everything was wiped out. Weird. After an extremely active day soaking up history, the following one we decided to soak up some rays on the island of Capri. Not far off the coast of Naples, it was an excellent respite from the general craziness of the holiday with lots of sunbathing and swimming involved. It was the first time I had set foot into the Mediterranean and was just what we needed.

That evening, trying to seat ourselves so we avoided our worst areas of sunburn, we set off for our final stop - Rome. This was actually very like London in it's buzzing nature and I could actually see myself living there. It was wonderful, had the best ice cream ever and was just buzzing with famous sites and general busy-ness. We had our one and only proper meal with dessert and everything so we got a taste of Italian tiramisu (which is so much nicer than the English one btw). And my favourite place had to be the Trevi fountain. It was quite stunning and watching all the tourists pose around it was very amusing. The colosseum was also, obviously, quite exciting to see and when we were up on one of the top levels, we were (un) lucky enough to be caught in a thunderstorm which was quite a spectacular backdrop to something that is very beautiful in itself.

As you can probably tell, I adored every second I was in Italy. I had so many incredible experiences and saw so many things, that I will never ever forget. I have built it up in my mind, so much for so long and it would have been very easy for me to be disappointed. But I wasn't - it was a perfect, hilarious, crazy holiday. I couldn't have asked for a better one.

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