I Was Born For This Review

Hey,

One of the books I read last week was one I’d pre-ordered. I’ve followed Alice Oseman since Solitaire (she’s my age), purely because the way she seems on her Tumblr chronicintrovert is really honest and truthful. You can also see aspects of her personality shine through in her characters which is really lovely to read.

Her book Radio Silence is one of my favourites because of all the messages and it’s unusual to see YA about academic stress despite it being prevalent.

So, onto I Was Born For This. Again, friendship is a great theme. Plus diversity (Alice consulted with both trans and Muslim people and gave them credit in the acknowledgements).

I like that Alice made Angel 18 years old. She went to meet one of her online friends so I’m glad she was an adult. I like how she also showed the upsides and downsides of online friendships – a good message for her younger audience. As always, she mastered character development (Angel learnt that The Ark boys aren’t living as perfect lives as she thought, and that she should love herself as much as she loves The Ark). I also loved how Angel showed some symptoms of anxiety but was also quite a chatty, sociable person at fan events. That was really good representation as it it’s usually the introverted characters that have anxiety.

The Ark boys were great. I love how Alice explored young musicians with anxiety. I loved how the boys learned that not all of their fans were crazy. I loved their friendship. I loved a scene with Jimmy’s Grandad so much that I cried a bit. I loved how each of the boys had a different personality.

I love how strong the character of Bliss was. She knew what she wanted in her future and put that above a relationship that wasn’t really working which was excellent to see.

At times I didn’t find Angel and Juliet particularly likeable – but I think that was the point. I did like who they became at the end and that’s the main thing.

Overall, I think Alice has written a very relevant novel. I hope this brings her more success, and more attention to her previous books. I would like book 4 very much!!

Rebecca.

Dartmoor Take Two – Live Blog

Hey everyone!
So we tried Dartmoor again to see if we could do a bit more walking than last time (and potentially camp for three nights). I thought I’d try something different and make notes of how I was feeling along the way. You’ll probably notice that I was quite miserable, but then it got better. I’m hoping when we do Fjallraven Classic Sweden 2018, I’ll feel a bit better after day 2 as I get used to the weight in my pack. This is also a record of things I’ll learn whilst practising.

Friday night
22:30 In the car, listening to the sounds of the trail podcast, wishing that Dartmoor wasn’t still an hour and a half away .

Dan started listening to the sounds of the trail podcast and finds it funny – I like it because there are lots of women and some of it is so relatable even though I don’t thru-hike yet.

Saturday
00:23 The tent is up, the stars are gorgeous, just inflating the mat and there we go. It is so much warmer than last time and nice to not be freezing. There’s a horse outside though (or two) and they’re creepy.

0:37 In my sleeping bag, warm, much happier than last time.

8:21 Awake and it’s warm!! Did get a little cold in the night.

I did get a little cold during the night – sleeping in trousers would probably be better given I’m a bit of a wimp.

10:21 we’ve put away the tent and been walking for 15 minutes or so. It really hurts and I hate this so much. But the little lambs were cute.

The first half an hour is always absolutely horrible.

11:01 Climbed up Bellever tor, no energy. Whyyyyy?

I forgot to mention that the view was beautiful.

11:39 So I hadn’t tightened my shoulder straps enough (urghhh) so that’s why the bag felt worse than last time. Still can’t say I’m feeling it yet.

Hadn’t adjusted it for just one layer – I had three last time I used it!

12:15 it’s lunch time – we made it to Postbridge – a pretty little village. Feel loads better (might be because we went downhill).

13:31 had a long reading break looking over the river. Very tired. We’ve only walked about 5km. 7 or 8 left.

14.38 Hartland Tor. It’s so hot today and I’m not feeling it. Urghhh. I want to feel it.

15:38 This is very hard today. But the sun’s gone in and we’re not too far off the forest…I’m just really tired.

16:07 Walked through a bog – can’t tell if my foot is wet from bog water or sweat. Probably both. Having to work out good crossing points distracted me from the fact this is hard.

It was good to have to think about foot placement instead of how warm it was.

16:23 There is just sodding brown everywhere.

Moorland – what can I say?

16:45 We are in the forest and I feel a bit better. Change of scenery is excellent because damn the Moors were getting boring.

17:27 Made it to the camping spot.

It was in a little wood just outside a reservoir area.

18:49 Just used the shewee. Love this adventure.

I bought a shewee because sometimes your legs hurt too much to squat. Was good to practise using it.

19:25 Tent is up, life is instantly better.

19:39 Even better, Daniel cooked dinner (I mean he does every day to be fair).

19:40 Ooooh pasta and weird french grains.

Total distance: 14.2km

Sunday
9:02 Slept okay but why do my arms and shoulders hurt and why are my legs fine?

12:12 Just been for a quick walk along the reservoir (bagless). I miss bagless walking…it’s too hot so saving the walking for later in the afternoon.

13:19 Note to self don’t take sleeping mat outside there are Ticks everywhere.

Fortunately didn’t get any bites, Dan can’t say the same. Little buggers.

14.19 Off we go, I really don’t wanna put this bag on.

14:59 A public loo! Just at the right time. Walking feels better today – I didn’t distribute the weight well yesterday which is why one of my hips hurt more than the other.

I put my clothes bag upright on one side meaning one side was much heavier than the other. Must learn to pack better.

15:36 Late afternoon is nice. Have a little headache though.

16:57 Uphill hurts. Bag feels better but the heat is relentless.

18:19 Walked through a forest, had a break and a read – back on the moorland but it’s cooler now. Enjoying myself again. It’s kinda beautiful.

20:04 Back at Postbridge, had dinner by the river (tuna and bean pasta). The ‘I’m doing cool stuff feeling’ has kicked in and I’m like yeeeeesss outdoors (also I saw a foal and some lambs which was awesome). I learned how to filter water.

Water filtering is actually easy. You just fill up a bag in the stream, attach this nozzle thing and squeeze the bag so the water goes into the container. Oh you can also drink from the nozzle – how cool is that? (It’s called the Sawyer Squeeze).

20:56 This is amazing. Up on a hill as it’s going dark. It is COOL and I’m not aaaah hot. Just gonna find a good camping spot.

21:21 Blessed with another public toilet! Tonight feels good. So so good. I’m so so happy.

Thanks Bellever Forest for leaving your loos open at night.

22:05 Ah it’s beautiful. The stars are out (maybe a couple of planets). There is no wind. It’s cool. It’s silent. I can see the car (we are going to the car now because I am totally on it). And I am enjoying night hiking.

22:36 Back at the car – 16.6km done today. Walking at night was soooo awesome.

03:15 I am home. Felt a bit sick in the car but so happy to have a bed.

Monday
13:04 I love Dan, he made me cheese and marmite on toast. Felt amazing to have a shower and sleep in a bed and urghhhhhhh it’s Tuesday tomorrow.

And there we have it, my second wild-camping adventure. Over in a flash (or not, it was a bit too hot to be happy sometimes!).

On to the next one….

Rebecca.

My First Wildcamp – Dartmoor

Back on Easter Bank Holiday weekend, I did my first wildcamp on Dartmoor (which also happened to be the first time I’ve had to carry my big 65L Osprey Aura backpack).

It was always going to be daunting – I’m not very strong and the bag was quite heavy (though in reality, no more than about 10kg).

The first battle was packing. My sleeping bag just about fits in the bottom of the backpack. I also find it really difficult to roll up my mat tight enough to fit in its case – but Dan was on hand to do it properly. I also carried water, snacks, clothes, waterproofs, toiletries and I think Dan had the rest (he’s good like that).

We arrived at Hound Tor on Saturday afternoon (we’d avoided the morning rain). The biggest challenge was picking the backpack up and trying to get it onto my back. Fortunately, once in place, the hip belt made and tightening the shoulder straps made it reasonably comfortable. Poles were lengthened and off we went.

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I can’t remember most of the route (I remember passing Widecombe-on-the-Moor at some point). And we went up a really big hill in the freezing wind. There was also some sort of trail race going on, but rather them than me. It was exhausting, cold and I was honestly a little miserable. But late in the afternoon, we started to go downhill again (and in my ‘I hurt so much and I’m so tired and bleeeeh’ state, started singing John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads).

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It felt good to take off my rucksack, but within a few minutes of stopping the walk I got really cold. I half-heartedly helped Dan put the tent up (it’s an easy tent to put up, but some of it is fiddly with thickish gloves on). By the time I could get inside, I was shivering and even more miserable and honestly had no desire to ever camp again. I think I even cried a little bit – yes, I’m a bit of a wimp. But Dan cooked us some pasta (mixed with John West packets of tuna or salmon and random cous-cous variations to add some flavour), and I ate it with my sleeping bag over my legs, with base layer, jumper, fleece and synthetic down jacket on. As I warmed up, I was lots happier.

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I slept reasonably well. Dan’s old inflatable mat was much more comfortable than the roll mat that I was using before. My sleeping bag was incredibly cosy. I slept in a hat. I woke up to the sound of sheep grazing. It was actually really peaceful.

Naturally, it was still cold in the morning. Naturally, I was too cold to change clothes (I did manage to change socks and wow it felt good). Naturally, I had to wee outside which was rather difficult with sore legs. But after that, we packed up and walked the last few kilometres back to Hound Tor. My collar bones ached a lot from the day before but everything felt better after the first half an hour or so. And it still hadn’t rained, which was awesome.

When we finished, we got celebratory cheeseburgers at the burger van, warmed up in the car, and drove home. And I actually felt really good. And I’d happily do it again (hopefully in slightly better weather). I’ve learned to put my thermals on before I get too cold to change clothes, to trust my sleeping bag which is warm even if it doesn’t look it, and that I can carry my big bag over a fair distance with hills in it.

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I can’t wait to give it a go again!

Rebecca.

Wild Embers – Nikita Gill

A couple of months ago I stepped into a new adventure – the world of modern poetry. The pretty cover, name and tagline of ‘poems of rebellion, fire and beauty’ caught my eye, so I bought Nikita Gill’s Wild Embers.

It’s feminist and empowering and easy to relate to. With rewritten fairytales and new depictions of goddesses, I was quite captivated by the magic of it all.

My favourites in the anthology are:

Miracle: The opening poem is perfect – reminding the reader that they are special and amazing. It really sets the tone of the rest of the book.

The Sun and the Moon: This one is really special to me as it reminds me of Daniel. I won’t be soppy and go into why but the poem is about being loved through your good and your bad days.

Unlearning: I think most women go through lots of self-esteem issues as they’re growing up and this one captures how important it is to learn that you’re allowed to change, and how all your bad times make you who you are.

With Love From Midnight: This one captures that every day is a new start, and no matter what happens, midnight always comes and you can start again.

Conjuring: I love this one. It might even be my favourite. It has excellent rhythm and really ties in with the #TimesUp movement and how women are supporting each other and fighting back.

Sleeping Beauty: I love this rewritten version of the story. It changes it to a tale of independence and consent and that we should teach our daughters that they can do life all on their own and succeed.

Journey: This one is all about how it’s important not to compare yourself to anyone else – something I try and fail to do.

Artemis: This is my favourite of the goddess poems. I’ve always been a bit different to most of the women in my family. I’m messy, not much for fashion / shopping and generally only do make-up on special occasions. This one shows how it’s good to be different and to celebrate your differences. It’s also written beautifully.

Courage: I love how this one shows that you shouldn’t have to hide your emotions and passion, and that you’re allowed to love lots. I love lots of people, and that’s okay.

Thanks Nikita for writing a collection that resonates with so many women. I adore how strong it made me feel to read it.

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Do you have any favourite poetry collections? Hope you pick up this one next time you go book shopping and enjoy it as much as I did.

Rebecca.