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25 June 2014

The Fault in Our Stars, Honesty Time

If there was a guide on how to anger the whole internet, criticising The Fault in Our Stars would probably be in the first page of the handbook. I've been debating about whether to write this post for a long old time. I read John Green's The Fault in Our Stars last year after hearing the name thrown around a lot. I didn't know much, if anything, about John Green at the time of reading it, and before I'd read it I actually had no clue what the book was about. But now The Fault in Our Stars has turned into a worldwide phenomenon. And as the months turned to weeks turned to days until the release of the film, I've been left with one burning opinion which I've kept hidden from everyone. I didn't want to be thrown abuse on Twitter or argued down on Facebook. Now though, I've decided just to come right out and say it. John Green's, The Fault in Our Stars, is overrated.  Before you all gasp and turn off your laptops, never to read Alice's Antics again, I think it would be lovely if you just let me explain myself.

When I first read the book, I really wanted to like it. I loved the concept of the story and for me the problem is definitely 100% not the fact the two main characters have cancer. I know some people say it's romanticising cancer, but to me I definitely don't think it is. The book is simply a book about two teenagers who happen to have cancer, as opposed to two cancer patients who happen to fall in love. And if you think people look up to the book so much it makes them aspire to have cancer, then you definitely do not understand people. I know some very big fans of the book, and none of them think having cancer is a form of finding love. It's awful to say, but very often when someone is diagnosed with cancer, or any form of illness, people stop seeing the person and start to see the disease. I can vouch for this from my own mother who battled and overcame breast cancer when I was younger. We later moved to a different part of the country, something we were always planning to do, but after my mums diagnosis, moving away when she was cleared meant we could leave behind a lot of reminders. Later, she told me ''It's hard to carry on living life normally when you aren't treated like normal. I would go into a party and people would greet me and ask how I was, and when I said I was fine, they would then stop and say, 'yes, but, how are you?' ''. This is almost a direct quote from the conversation we had as it stuck with me so prominently. So for John Green to create Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters and give them a life outside of the cancer unit, it's something I highly commend. It opens up people's eyes to the people behind the sickness, which is a very underrated trait of the book.

But here's where all the fuzzy 'I love John Green' club comes to a close. I understand books need to be entertaining for them to sell, there needs to be a beginning a middle and an end, there needs to be a plot twist or a climax, or something in the middle. But why did he have to choose such an unbelievable scenario such as going to Amsterdam. Why could John Green not have written a beautiful love story about two cancer patients and made it all seem feasible and possible to, well, real life cancer patients? If you want to write a book from the point of view of somebody who has cancer then great, but you don't need all the fancy bits and unrealistic adventures to make the characters life worthwhile. People are so focused on how beautiful this love story is,' a modern day Romeo and Juliet', they are overlooking how these kids hopped on a plane to another continent. Met an author of a book. And kissed in Anne Frank's house, of all places. This in itself got to me a bit, I think John Green intended for the characters to be thinking 'there's so much bad in the world, let's make the most of what we have', but by setting this kiss in such a pivotal setting, where a real, breathing girl and her family, a long with millions of other Jewish people at the time, were captured, for me, it just seemed disrespectful. 

There were moments in this book, I laughed out loud, but half of the time I sat there feeling like I was reading one massive Tumblr quote. Which as it turns out, is exactly what half the book became. It's the first book I've ever read where I've hated the actual writing style of the author. I've read plenty of 'bad' books, especially those free ones you get on kindle. But they're bad because of the story line, or because the author has zero talent. John Green has got talent, and he can write a book, but in this one I feel like he just multiplied everything by 1000 and it didn't work at all for me. Particularly, when the pair are en route to Amsterdam, Augustus Waters delivers the perfect declaration of love to Hazel Grace. In fact he does not stutter, does not mumble, he doesn't even use colloquialism's, and it's not because Augustus Waters is a super human, and you couldn't even use the fact he's just found out his cancer is terminal... surely this would make him more nervous.... it's simply because John Green knew his target demographic would lap it up. He's a man of the internet, he knows what teenagers and young adults love, he gets the humor of Tumblr and the idolisation of Youtube, and he used this to the biggest advantage possible when writing TFIOS.

I'm not a literature snob, I will read anything from Shakespeare to Charles Dickens to Jodi Picoult to, obviously, John Green. But I couldn't keep my silence about my opinion anymore. Maybe I just find John Green's writing pretentious, I don't know. I know it's the most popular book going at the moment so I am sure sure sure people will have a few words to say on my opinion. And that's totally fine. But please don't criticise and say I'm 'wrong'! Everyone is entitled to their opinions, The Fault in Our Stars just wasn't my cup of tea. I honestly could have sat and written for hours but I found this post really difficult to write as my brain felt a bit all over the place, so I've kept it to a minimum (you should all know by now my minimum is most's maximum) and hopefully it all came out in ordered, structured sentences. I will still go and see the film, and I still cried at the end of the book, which shows despite all my criticism's I did have an emotional connection with the characters. Although I also cry at everything ever, so who knows really. 

I hope you don't mind this rant excuse of a post. I feel like calling it a book review would be too generous! Feel free to suggest to me any books, even if they are by John Green (I've heard Paper Towns is quite good). 

Ciao for Now! 

22 June 2014

Summer Lovin'

Can you tell how excited I am for summer? How excited I am to be in summer? If my Summer Bucket List blog post didn't give it away, I am officially in a summery mood. Which was multiplied by eating watermelon today, the most summery fruit in the world. Summer summer summer. I want to sing the summer song like Olaf in Frozen. Unfortunately, despite what you may think from the title, this post isn't an announcement of how my quest to find an Italian husband has been a success, it's actually a little (probably not so little, knowing me) post on what I will be reading, watching, wearing and listening to this summer, so essentially you can be me. 

What I Will Be....

LISTENING TO: 'Low Wishes' Air Review - This album was introduced to me by Hannah Maggs, and since hearing it, I cannot stop listening. I downloaded it onto my iTunes immediately and I am officially obsessed. They're a small hardly known band from America, and oh lordy, what a gem they are. I purposely put this first as I really want you all to go and look them up on Youtube. My two favourite songs are Young and Low Wishes, but the whole album is definitely one of my favourite's ever already. 

READING: 'Beautiful Ruins' Jess Walter, 'Attachments' Rainbow Rowell, 'We Were Liars' E. Lockhart - Reading is a bit of a super power of mine and although I probably read a new book every three or four days, I thought I should narrow down my summer 'must reads' and was left with these three. Beautiful Ruins flicks between 60's Italy and modern day Hollywood, following the story of a Hollywood actress and a modest Italian man. I obviously haven't read it so far, but I feel like it's definitely a 'beach read', pretty easy with a bit of romance, the perfect book to dip in and out of! Attachments is another one I would call a beach read, but at the moment I'm really into Young Adult fiction, I go through various genre phases (before this I was reading all the classics, Frankenstein, 1984, Great Expectations), but Attachments definitely falls into YA. The book consists of emails between two work colleagues, revealing work friendships, relationships and a colleague who reads said emails and starts to fall for one of the women. Finally, We Were Liars has been recommended to me by a couple of friends, so I decided I should definitely give it ago, it's about a group of four friends called The Liars, and mainly follows the story of Cady, who comes from an extremely rich, distinguished family with a lot of secrets. I know this book has been nominated for several awards, so I'm quite excited to get cracking on it!

WATCHING (FILM): 'The Fault in Our Stars', 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes', 'What If' - Ok, I am going to reveal something only about two very trusted people know about me. But I am not a fan of the book The Fault in Our Stars. There, I said it. I will not elaborate on why, because I don't want my blog to be shut down and the internet to turn against me. And I want to survive to see tomorrow. But despite this, and for a reason unknown even to me, I am hopelessly in love with Ansel Elgort, so will definitely be seeing the film. Also, I love the concept of what the book was trying to do, so hopefully in film form I will enjoy it more (a sentence I never thought I'd say). Dawn of the Planet of the Apes looks like an epic adventure film, something I absolutely love, and I loved the first film so hopefully the second one will be just as good. Finally, I'm excited to see Daniel Radcliffe as something un-Harry related in this romance film 'What If'. I've only attended the cinema twice in Italy, so I have a lot of catching up to do and I'm also excited to see others like  Maleficent, Godzilla, The Amazing Spider Man 2 and Neighbors. (Fun Fact: I went on the Maleficent set whist it was being filmed, super cool Alice)

WATCHING (TELEVISION): 'Breaking Bad' - I know, please, nobody cry, if TFIOS reveal wasn't enough for one post, I haven't seen this yet either. I watched one episode and got so so bored. But friends, family, and probably strangers on the street would too if they knew, have persuaded me to give Walter and Jesse a chance. Maybe this time I'll even be able to see Bryan Cranston as Walter White and not Malcolm in the Middle's Dad. I can only tackle one 'whole' TV Series at a time, otherwise my brain goes into overload, so I need to wait for Desperate Housewives to finish before I can begin. If I watch 5 episodes and still don't enjoy Breaking Bad, then I will turn to The Walking Dead. 

EATING: Eating Alice? Really? Well, actually, yes. I've always always been a vegetables over fruit girl, but living in Italy means the quality of all the fruit is so much nicer, I've become a sucker for it. From blood oranges to cherries to watermelon, everything tastes 100x nicer than back home. Here, I have access to a blender, as I am now officially a smoothie addict. I've decided when I am home there is no doubt about it, I will be buying a blender to create some wonderful fruity concoctions. My favourite at the moment is orange, (small) carrot, ginger and apple. I had it in a vegan cafe in Verona, and fell in love with the tastes. And it's completely guilt free, hooray!

WEARING: In terms of clothes, I have recently had a big of a kimono obsession, and so I am sure any outfit of mine will be with-kimono this summer. I'm also a big fan of the platform jelly's and I have always been a sucker for a lovely playsuit. But I actually wanted to talk about make up. I recently invested (if you're as poor as me, it is definitely an investment) in the Giorgio Armani Liquid Silk Foundation. And oh lordy, it is an absolute delight. I bought it with some birthday money after hearing so many make up artists rave about it, and I honestly can't blame them. I have pretty dry skin and keeping it hydrated takes a lot of time and routine, so I try not to put just any old thing on my face. It's light coverage is perfect for summer and it leaves your skin looking literally glowing. I can't recommend it enough. I don't really post pictures of myself on here, but I've left you with an un-edited natural light picture so you can see how incredible it is. Well worth the money.

Hope you're all having lovely weeks!
Ciao for Now!


18 June 2014

My Au Pair Experience

There's no two ways about it, becoming an Au Pair is terrifying. For most, you leave your family and friends behind for an extended period of time, you move to somewhere completely new and you basically have to start life from scratch. For the nutters (like me) who choose to move somewhere with a whole different language, life is particularly difficult because the normal every day things like going to the shop, getting a coffee, calling for a taxi, suddenly become a huge obstacle. As I said, becoming an Au Pair, is terrifying. 

I found my host family through the website 'Au Pair World' which had been recommended to me by a friend who was Au Pairing in Madrid. After a lot of emails and contacts from various families (including a nudist French family), I finally settled on a family of three from Parma, a small city in the North of Italy.  I was always pretty calm about moving away, but from the moment I woke up on the day of my flight, I had a sudden overwhelm of panic. What if I didn't get on with the family? What if they were mean? What if I made no friends? What if the child was awful? Basically, all the 'what if's' most people probably thought of during the build up, flooded me when it was far too late. I started to silently freak out, and this is a bit 'tmi' (sorry sorry) but at the air port I was the awful kind of sick where you have nothing in your stomach but your body feels like it needs to be free of everything. Needless to say, I was terrified. But I said my goodbye's, I made it on the plane and after a two hour flight and a 20 minute wait for the family to pick me up (where I text my parents a LOT saying they might need to book me a flight home because nobody had arrived at the airport), I had made it to my new temporary home.

a collection of pictures taken of Parma
As far as host family's go, I won the HF lottery. A lot of Au Pairs are asked to do light chores, prepare the children before school (aka 6am starts), make the family meals etcetc... I had never intended to land a family like mine, but when I did, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a small miracle. On arrival I was taken to my own apartment, 2 floors above theirs with a kitchenette, a bathroom, my own wifi and a satellite television. The 'Italian Phone' I'd been dreading to receive wasn't, in fact, a Nokia brick, but a new iPhone 5. The whole family spoke good English, my host parents get Edoardo ready for school in the morning so my earliest day begins at 3:30, they have a lovely housekeeper/cook which means my sole responsibility is looking after their child and it only took me a couple of days with Edoardo to realise, he is probably one of the best behaved children I've ever come across. 

Despite this dream life it sounds like I have, I would be lying if I said Au Pairing wasn't hard. Not only do you have to come up with hours of entertainment, but it's often hard to strike a balance between being the lovely Au Pair you want to be, but also being strict and letting the child know they can't over step the mark. You also have to understand that you're there to play with the child and if they suggest something you don't want to do, you need to grit your teeth and do it anyway. One afternoon, I played two hours worth of 'Real Life Angry Birds' which is a game I can't even begin to explain, and you definitely don't want to hear it anyway. As well as work, I think the hardest thing I've found whilst being over here, by a mile, is socialising. I never took into account how hard it would be to meet people when there's a language barrier. Albina, the Au Pair before me was lucky enough to meet some American's who introduced her to their friends and so on and so forth, but I didn't really have that kind of luck. Eventually, through various means, I met some people and actually made a life long friend in Alexandria, who was an exchange student at the city's University. But once she'd left, I was once again in a kind of friendship limbo. I've made some other lovely friends, but I'd be lying if I said my social life is anything like what I thought it would be. I thought being in a University town would make life easier, but unfortunately, because exchange students arrive together, they already have friendship's formed, and there are lots of societies held to meet other exchange students which obviously I couldn't go to. My biggest advice for someone considering to become an Au Pair, is to move to a big city, a capital or a major one in the country. Because there will be other Au Pairs there, all who know what it's like, and all who arrived with no one. 

Some of the amazing people I've become friends with here
I think Au Pairing varies for each person. It depends on where you live, it depends on your host family, their life style, what kind of jobs you have to do. But as an overall account, I can say hand on my heart, I am so happy I did this. In the second month I had a sudden bout of extreme homesickness, and the first few weeks here were some of the hardest of my life. Everyone says if you get through the first two months, you'll be fine, and they're right. But nothing really prepares you. My whole experience could have been totally different if it wasn't for Edoardo. Being an Au Pair gives you a whole different connection to the children you're looking after. For the duration of the day, you're their mum, their dad, their teacher, anything you can imagine rolled into one, and it creates a unique relationship. I can't even put into words the love I have now for Edoardo, and out of everyone and everything I will miss here, I will without a doubt, miss Edoardo the most. For the last 6 months, my whole life has revolved around him, and I just feel so so lucky to have met such an amazing little boy (ooooh look at me gushing!). 

I couldn't recommend this experience enough. In half a year, I've discovered a whole new culture, I've learnt the best part of a new language, I've lived by myself, I've moved away from family and I've made friends I will probably keep for the rest of my life. Au Pairing isn't for everyone, but if you go about it the right way, you will have the experience of a life time. This has been one of my most requested posts but I knew I'd always want to write it at the end of Au Pairing so I can give an honest account, and with just 2 and a half weeks left, that's exactly what I've done. If anyone wants Au Pairing advice or has any questions, please feel free to comment or email me through my 'Contact Page'. I hope this has quenched your thirst for knowledge about my time abroad. 

Ciao for Now! 

15 June 2014

Summer Bucket List

My most recurring thought at the moment is 'can I fit into my empty fridge', which can only mean one thing, summer has hit Italy with a vengeance. If it wasn't for 6 weeks of travelling in August last year, I would probably have melted by now, just like the Wicked Witch. But thoughts of less than 4 weeks left have kept me from jumping into the freezer and instead I've decided I should probably make a list of things I want to do when I'm back in England. After over half a year away, I know I need to make the most of my time home with my friends before we all part ways again for various travels and university in September.With this in mind, I decided I wanted to make a list of 11 achievable goals for the summer.

~ traditional British beach huts on a bright sunny day ~ Blackpool ~ England ~

1) Throw a Summer Soiree
The combination of  a need to be hostess with the mostess and not having seen a lot my friends in a long time, has given me this idea to host a little summer gathering in my garden. The girls in my group of friends often throw dinner parties where we all bring food (and wine) and someone hosts, but since I haven't actually ever hosted -partly because everyone knows I can't cook- summer is the perfect time for salads and cool dishes. I have big plans to set out lots of candles and lanterns and lay down loads of cushions and big blankets and have a picnic style meal with my nearest and dearest.

2) Learn to Cook
This is definitely a must rather than a 'should'. As I'm moving away and into non-catered accommodation halls at university, it's time to step up and learn to cook. Right now, I am limited to toast, simple pasta and chucking things in the oven. But I could never make you a stir fry or a lasagna or, well anything. I am a reasonably good baker but for some reason, cooking just doesn't agree with me. I wish it did, but I am completely and utterly inept, it's an undeniable fact throughout the whole family. 

3) Spend More Time at the Beach
Back home, I live about 10 minutes from the beach, but I've always taken it for granted and never fully used it. Now that I've been living in a city and haven't seen the sea for a very long time, I'm absolutely longing for the waves and the sand, even if it's in the freezing British weather. Whether it's with my friends, or by myself, I want to make the most of living so close to the sea, I'm so lucky to live so close and when I start university I'll once again be moving away from it, so I definitely need to make the most of it now.

4) Road Trip
Let's be honest, it wouldn't be a real Summer Bucket List, without the stereotypical 'Road trip' thrown in there. I'm old enough now that this is a real possibility, as most of my friends drive. Last year I was saving for travelling so I didn't do so much as all my spare time was spent working extra hours. But this year, although I do want to work, I'm also in no massive hurry to earn thousands of pounds, so I can take the time to spend some quality time with a few friends and go and explore somewhere new for a couple of days. 

5) Barbeque Halloumi. A lot.
This one needs no justification or explanation really.

6) Buy a Bike (second hand)
As I'm only home for a little while, I know it would be stupid to spend a lot of money on a brand new bike when I'm not going to be able to use it. But I really want to buy a bike to ride along the beach or through the country side. Everybody rides bikes here and it's so under rated as a mode of transport in England.

bicycles # summer # outdoor picnics # backyard fun

9) Master the Art of Melonade
This is the stuff of dreams, or so I've heard. I am a huge watermelon fan, it's probably my favourite fruit, and whilst I will be spending a whole lot of my time drinking Pimms, I'd love to make batches of this and keep it in mason jars ready for a hot day. I've had a look on the internet and have found a variety of different Melonade recipe's, so I'm sure there will be trial and error before I perfect it.

8) Read and Write More
Right now, I probably read and write more than I have in a very long time, but I know that's partly to do with not having as big a social life here as I do back home. It's really important to me now, that I keep up with the reading and writing I've been doing whilst away. Becoming an internet human stopped me from doing the traditional pen to paper, but you may have seen a couple of blogs back, I'm getting really into it again and I'd love to keep it up, at least until uni when I have real excuse to calm down on it a bit.

9) Visit the Zoo or the Aquarium
This is a slightly irrational, 'I have no reason I just really want to go' one. I haven't been to either in at least six years, and nothing makes me happier than animals. I just really want to go and have a picnic on one of those circular benches and doing a little dance to avoid getting stung by wasps as I throw my rubbish into bins and take selfies with the monkeys or blow fish and send to my friends saying 'Me and You' and wait in line behind 350 children for the ice cream van. I would just really like to go.

10) Start My Youtube Life
The only thing stopping me from starting this tomorrow is the quality of my camera. But when I'm back in England, even if I don't buy an incredible camera straight away, I have a lovely friend who's offered to lend me their's once a week. I have an introduction, a channel with subscribers and a really good idea of what I want to use the channel for, so I should probably start cracking on.

11) Meet New People
This is another cliche one, but I really want to actually make the effort to meet new people and meet other humans in person who I've met through the internet. There was a time where I'd go to huge lengths to hide the fact I'd met friends online, but now most of my real life humans know and are all pretty ok with it and I've realised that if they aren't, it shouldn't bother me anyway. I'm lucky enough to have met some amazing people through the internet and there are some lovely blogging ladies who are new additions to this list, so when I come back I really want to expand my friendship horizons even more. I have to do the obligatory 'it's import to be safe', because it is, but it's also important to meet new people and not contain yourself in a bit of a rut, you never know who's around the next corner!

I hope you like this little bucket list, I know some people will find '11' points annoying, and it sounds crazy but I'm just not a fan of the number 10 and 11 is a double number, which is all very nice. Let me know if you have any summer plans yourself or your own bucket list! On a (very very) side note, I want to apologise for the constant header changing on my blog. I'm just not content with my design at the moment and I'm trying out a few things, if you see something up for over a month, then I have probably settled, but at the mo I am trying my hardest to create a header I really love, sorry sorry sorry!

Ciao for Now!

8 June 2014

May Favourites

Hello June, where the bloody hell have you come from? This is actually another written by Alice, posted by James post, as right now, on this very day, it's my birthday (June 8th)!! I'm writing this a couple of days in advance but  this year I'm actually celebrating with the arrival of my mum, sister and aunty, we're going to have a bit of a 'girls weekend' in Milan! Which I'm really excited about as you can imagine, none of them have been to Italy before so it will be quite an experience. I'm definitely looking forward to showing off my tan a bit and making them jealous of the warm evenings here! Anyway, I've been debating doing a monthly favourites for some time now, but I never feel like I have enough bits and bobs. However, today is the day, and the merry month of May has brought me a good few possessions which I am absolutely loving! It's a mixture of everything so please stick around, even if you're not a beauty or fashion human. I've also written a little something in the 'letters' bit, so if you''re not into Monthly Favourites, it might be worth having a look down there anyway!

Incense Sticks  Summer is here and I've found a whole new lot of lovin for incense sticks. I've always been a candle girl, but recently I've been given a lot as presents and so many of my friends are massive fans, I felt obliged to give them a whirl. My favourite ones at the moment are 'Tree of Life' which don't have a particular smell, but it's quite a floral scent and isn't too over whelming. In my apartment I'm a bit paranoid about lighting candles, so these have been the perfect escape, especially if you want a pamper night etc. I'm definitely going to bring them to uni, these particular type are also great because they don't let off a lot of smoke (I definitely wouldn't be popular if I set off our buildings fire alarm), they're such a great alternative, I can't rave about them enough!

Choker Necklaces I'm aware I'm a bit behind on this trend, but I went to Bologna a little while ago and picked up this necklace. Almost all of the 'jewellery' I wear are travelling bracelet, leather kind of style and I'm not really one for elaborate decor so when I spotted this, I fell in love. I have a black leather pandora which matches the necklace pictured. When I first saw chokers were coming back in fashion I wasn't a big fan, especially when people started wearing the black elastic-y ones you wear when you're 8. But these styles have really caught my eye, and I wish I'd picked up more!

Face Masks  I'm not sure if it's stress or a change in diet, but since moving to Italy my skin has been so inconsistent, it's become my worst enemy. I've always had clear, although dry, skin and so although I'm lucky it means when I get one spot, everyone's focus is on that point of my face. My host mum is a very big on skin care routines, something I've never really had, apart from exfoliating a couple of times a week. But about twice a week, after showering, I've started to use this bottled face mask for 15 minutes. And I swear to God, I feel like a changed woman. Not only is it amazing because it's in a bottle so I don't have to do the whole 'rip and tear' thing, but it's lasted a really long time. The one pictured is from Kiko Milano, an Italian brand, but I'm pretty sure other brands around the world will do bottled face masks too, I've just never seen them before!

Minty-Bluey Nail Polish  I'm going to lay my cards on the table and be honest here, the nail varnish in the picture is not actually the one I wanted to put in, but at the time, I couldn't find my Essie 'Rock the Boat' nail polish to put in the photo. I actually discovered later it was in my hand bag, whoops! Anyway, although it looks slightly duller, in real life these two nail varnishes are pretty much exactly the same, although the Essie has a slightly bluer undertone. But the moral f the story is, I am obsessed with this colour nail varnish, it's spring-y and it's a beautiful shade and it looks great when you have a tan. New fave.

Tommy Girl This one's a bit cheeky as I actually got the Tommy Hilfiger perfume for Christmas, but I also got a lot of others, and haven't really had a chance to give it a try. However, there's no going back now I've tried it. Normally I'm more of a sweet perfume time of person, I love vanilla's and floral smells, but this is a bit of a turn around on my usual. I can definitely see a business woman or a sports woman wearing it for some reason, but I love it. It's also great because it lasts pretty much all day, so you don't need to use too much!

Notebooks  To put it plainly, I am a bit of a stationary gatherer. I am faithful to no notebook and have about 50 half written notebooks lying around. It's an addiction I am trying to cure but to no avail, especially when on my recent trip to Tuscany I came across these gorgeous hard back notebooks and realised I had to add them to the collection! They're both so gorgeous and I love the designs on both of them, I just felt like it was a crime not to pick them up. I'm actually sending them home with my mother when she comes because I want to use them for university and not just abandon them when I find owl decorated ones or something!

Letters Since being in Italy, I've become a big fan of old fashioned letter writing. One of my aunty's bought me a Cath Kidston writing set as a going away present, and I've nearly finished the whole thing. I love love love writing to people, which actually brings me onto my next point, I was thinking of maybe doing a spot of letter writing to you, my lovely readers. It blows my mind when I see people from Singapore, Australia, India etc all read my blog, and I think it would be a really wonderful way to get to know some of you. If you do feel comfortable with becoming 'pen pals' of sorts, then please send me an e-mail (it's on mycontact page) obviously I'll need your address so please only do it if you're happy to give me that information! I think letters are so underrated with all this modern day technology, and it would make me so happy! If I get loads of requests then I probably will have to pick a few of you out at random, but I will respond to all the emails and will try my hardest to get as many done as possible! 

I hope you all have wonderful weekends, have a drink on me! My last ever year as a teenager, it's all a bit sad really. Let me know if you think the letter writing is a good idea in the comments! 

Ciao for Now! 


4 June 2014

How To Become a Blogging Human

I feel like it's very very early days for me to include the word 'successful' in the title, but one of the most common emails I get sent is asking for advice to set up a blog, and whilst I love conversing with all of you, sometimes repeating myself over and over gets a little tiresome. And since in the last few months about 15 people have set up blogs after reading mine (hooray!) I feel like I'm in a fairly good position to offer up some life advice on how to get started. 

Decide Your Blog Style
In the blogging world, blogs are separated into 4 main categories, Lifestyle, Fashion, Beauty and Travel (fitness and health come under lifestyle). When you first decide to start blogging it's important to have a clear readership in mind. Some people, like myself, have a little bit of everything, but at the end of the day I know I'm a Lifestyle blogger because my content is primarily my yapping on about my life. If you're not sure, do some research, have a look at beauty or fashion blogs, compare them to the lifestyle ones. Generally travelling is an easy one to rule out, unless you're going somewhere exotic for a stretch of time, chances are you won't be a travel blogger!

 Choosing your URL is not to be underestimated, sure you can change it later, but it's far easier to just choose a name you like to begin with. Try to avoid lots of numbers and try to keep it short so people will find it easy to remember. Anything from alliteration to just using your name, it doesn't have to be completely creative!

 Designing Your Blog
Blog design is a tricky thing, especially if you have no idea where to start. First off you need to decide if you are happy having one of the blogger or wordpress templates. A lot can be changed and added to and most blogging humans just have a very edited template. If you want to customize it yourself, most boggers recommend using a programme like Photoshop or Gimp, but whilst internett-ing is a forte of mine, photoshop is not. In fact, I design everything using good old Paint. The most advice I can give is google, google, google. If there's something you want to learn how to do, just search it and for the most part, you will find it. If you're not tech-savvy or an html bird, then there's also the possibility of paying somebody to design your blog. Make sure they're a legit designer, most have their own websites, or you can simply buy a design from online, either way, these can be really expensive, so I'd definitely recommend having a go yourself first.

The First Post
Once you've established what 'style' of blog you want to be, it's time to write your first post! Most people, including me, write their first post as a bit of an introduction. Most of us when writing this first post, are literally writing to nobody, but try not to let that bother you. Your first post doesn't even have to be an introduction post, it can be whatever you want, but crack it out and make sure you proof read it before setting it free onto the world!

Get Connected
I can't stress this enough, if you want to be part of the blogging community, you need to put yourself out there through all means of social networking. Share it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, search for other blogs and write comments (don't hound blogs or write anything impersonal though, make sure you actually like the other persons blog and think they'll be interested in yours), also set up a 'bloglovin' account, which allows more people to view your blog and is a really popular networking site for bloggers. 

Meet Fellow Bloggers
Not only is it important to use social media for your own sharing, it's also a good idea if you want to meet other bloggers. A lot of blogging guys and gals use hashtags to promote their blog, #lbloggers (lifestyle bloggers) #bbloggers (beauty bloggers) #fbloggers (fashion bloggers) and #tbloggers (travel bloggers) are the most commonly used and searched for to find new blogs. If you find someone who's blog you love, tell them! There's nothing bloggers love more than to hear their content is making someone happy. Blogging is a great way to meet new friends as you all have it on common, there are often meetups or coffee mornings going on all around the world, especially if you live near a big city, so have a look around! Talking to other bloggers also keeps you inspired.

Stay Committed
You may think the hard part is done, but keeping up with blogging is harder than you think, especially at the start when there's not very many people following you. I was blogging to less than 10 followers for about 3 months before little Alice's Antics kingdom started to build, so don't give up. Some people lose interest and some just decide it's not for them, but if you give up because of your follower count, it says a lot about your motives for being a blogger. Everyone gets writers block, but don't let that get you down, just take the time and space you need and continue later on, you're not a failure for having a blank mind, it happens to all of us!

I really hope this clears up any grey areas for aspiring bloggers out there! 

Ciao for Now!

1 June 2014

Two Life Establishing Moments

Every so often in life, I have times where I can disconnect myself, step back and just think 'this sums up me and my life'. It could be how I deal with a situation, or winning something, but being me, I would say 99% of of the time this happens after horrendously embarrassing or awkward moments. And the thought I have whilst looking and thinking about what just happened is quite simply 'This would never happen to anyone but me'. In fact, these things happen to me so often that people reply to my stories and life tales with 'that's such a you thing to do' or 'this could only happen to you'. I realised pretty early on in life that I was set for a bumpy ride, and over the years I have somewhat established a hard skin to falling over, tripping up, saying awkward things, being caught in awkward situations, but on my visit to Tuscany, two events took place which, after careful pondering, I decided to share with the whole world on the internet. It's a bit like Embarassing Bodies when humans with awful problems decide to share with millions of people. Except my problem is my life.

On the second day in Tuscany, after a 9 hour day of traipsing around towns the day before, my host family decided we needed a trip to a spa resort. On arriving, we were all given dressing gowns and after paying we were free to use the two massive thermal calcium pools and sun bathe with beautiful views over the Tuscan hills. After about an hour of lazing about, my host mum passed me a sheet of paper and said 'this is for you'... it was a half hour relaxation massage. At first I panicked because, although my Italian isn't terrible, Massage Itlalian Language is not quite in my vocabulary... and also, I am not really a massage kinda gal. But after my plan to escape and laze in another part of the resort was thwarted by my host dad offering to show me the way, I had to succumb. It was only a massage after all.

I went into the waiting room, where on offer was ice cold water or hot chamomile tea. There were a couple of other ladies waiting in there too and a lovely calming music playlist. The peacefulness worked its magic because soon my panic ebbed away and whilst waiting, I found I was quite excited for my 'Relaxation Massage'. A couple of very made up masseuse' came and took the other ladies away until it was just me on my own. And then my name was called. At first, I didn't even think it was me the voice was calling to, I thought a couple had entered without me realising. Except then it said my full name, and sure enough it was an Italian male masseuse.

I have no problem with guys wanting to be masseuse'. In fact, if you are an attractive male, or a boyfriend, I positively encourage massaging. But this was entirely different. I followed him nervously into the room, debating whether to just take down my bikini straps or undo the whole thing, considering whether to rest my head on my hands or lie them flat. I was interrupted by the masseuse saying 'Please hang up your dressing gown on the hook, put this on and lay on the bed face down'. And then he passed me a little plastic bag. As soon as he left I ripped open the bag, to find a thong made from what looked like tracing paper and string. And that was all I was given. The thought of slipping my (completely unprepared) body into this tiny thing made me feel sick, and I considered making a run for it but got scared they would catch me or he would see me sneaking out of the room. So instead, I slipped off my bikini, put on this god awful thong and after a second of hesitation, grabbed a towel lying on the floor and put it over my bum, before lying face down on the massage table. In came the massage man, who simply tutted at the towel, removed it and replaced it with a clean but smaller one higher up my body and I am positive not much was left to the imagination. And then he just started dripping hot oil over my body and began his rubbing and squeezing and poking and prodding all whilst I silently cried and begged for it to be over. But oh no. Just as I thought things couldn't get any worse and after him literally rubbing oil over every inch of my back and legs, he asked me to turn over. And, like a helpless, stranded whale, I hmf-ed my way around, and quickly realised that at least half of my bits and bobs would be on display at one time. The next 10 minutes where excrutiating, and way too close for comfort. After 30 minutes of endurance he finally finally finally stopped and told me I was a) very tense and b) could stay in the room for as long as I liked. Needless to say, the second he was out, I threw on my bikini and ran for that door. 

For most people, the universe would probably decide that's enough mortification for a life time. But as I am not most people and bad fortune follows me everywhere, two days later horrifically embarrassing moment number two struck and this time, in front of far more people.

On the way back from Tuscany, my host family offered to drive back via Pisa to give me the chance of seeing the big leaning tower itself and for us to have a spot of lunch. After eating, we went to the grounds where the leaning tower is and sure enough, it is no cliche, there were literally hundreds of people doing the 'leaning-with-your-hands-out-in-support' pose. As you'd expect, the place was very busy although there was a lot of space (and two other beautiful buildings) so it wasn't too cramped or anything. Maybe it was karma for believing I was too cool to do the leaning pose and opting for a simple stand awkwardly pose, (as if I'd ever be too cool for anything), but as I was walking with my host family, uploading a picture of the leaning tower of Pisa to my instagram, I tripped. I don't even know what I fell over, my feet sometimes just decide they've had enough for the day, but I really stumbled and as natural instinct would have it, I grabbed onto the nearest thing to support me. Which happened to me a fully leaning-in-support-pose German man. So I grabbed onto his hand as the woman taking the picture, and my host family, and all the other people around me watched. And although I didn't quite drag him over with me, my attempt at saving myself didn't even work. I fell flat on the floor, the man was fuming, I was bruised and my host family were crying with laughter.

I hope you feel enlightened into what it's like to lead my life. Maybe you'll even take pity on me. You definitely should, it's not easy being Alice Dodd. I should add that apart from these two incidents, the trip was really lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was going to write a post on it but didn't want to bore you, so thought I'd just 'fess up to these two moments in my life which are high on my leader board of 'worst existing moments ever'. I hope you're all spick and span! 

Ciao for Now! 

Before the fall.


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