Work

The Curse of Coffee Culture

Hello again everyone! Apologies for my blogging break - the end of summer holidays and back to school have been crazy busy already so unfortunately my blog post frequency is likely to be reducing slightly for the next little while.

 

You’re probably aware that exam results have been released in the UK in the last couple of weeks - I’m delighted with mine and I really hope others are too. Last year, I shared both of my English portfolio pieces: a persuasive essay on veganism and a reflective essay about my Grandad. So to keep up the tradition (and provide content for a post - I’m really struggling to plan content so if you have any ideas then please tell me!) I thought I’d share my essays from this last year.

 

So today, here are my thoughts about one of my favourite beverages, coffee…

 
coffee
 

It’s a chilly October morning. Outside it’s raining cats and dogs. Strangers hurry past, wrapped tightly in their jackets, breath fogging in front of their faces. Tucked away in a cosy corner of your favourite coffeehouse, you’re bundled up in the blissful warmth of a thick jumper. The scent of freshly brewed coffee tickles your nostrils. Friends surround you, catching up over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. You indulge in a sip of your Pumpkin Spice Latte, revelling in the sugary liquid sliding down your throat. You are completely content, thriving on the bustling atmosphere inside the little coffee shop.

 

But have you ever taken a minute to consider the implications of your cup of coffee?

 

As a society, we tend to shun drug users who snort cocaine and smoke cannabis whilst glossing over the fact that caffeine, a substance most of us consume on a regular basis, is a drug too. A single shot of espresso contains an average of 75mg of caffeine - that’s more than double the amount found in a can of Coca-Cola. And although caffeine stimulates the brain and can temporarily improve concentration, the body rapidly acclimatises itself to caffeine until a regular coffee drinker is no more alert after their daily coffee than someone who doesn’t consume caffeine at all. Excess caffeine is particularly dangerous for women too: it results in a hormonal imbalance and has been known to result in miscarriage during pregnancy. Despite allegedly offering a short-term mood boost, long-term it has been proven to increase stress levels and worsen anxiety, commonly causing insomnia which can have a severe impact on daily life. But the stimulating effect of caffeine makes it addictive, trapping the consumer in a vicious cycle of coffee consumption from which it is impossible to break free without suffering unbearable withdrawal symptoms.

 
coffee
 

It is far from just the caffeine that society is addicted to: it’s the experiences we associate with coffee. Seeing friends, going on dates or studying subjects: the memories of people we’ve met over a cup of coffee make it inconceivable not to love the concept of chatting over a cup or two, regardless of whether we even like the drink. The natural bitterness of coffee itself appeals to few - most choose to mute this flavour with the additions of milk, cream and sugar until they can tolerate the taste. All of these extras, however, can pile up to an extortionate expense. Our obsession with consuming “trendy” coffees has turned modern society into coffee snobs. Those who make their own coffee at home in a stove top coffee pot spend an average of £0.09 per cup compared to the outrageous average of £1.60 spent at a single coffee shop. Although £1.60 may sound like a rather insignificant setback, it can add up to a cost of tens of thousands of pounds in a lifetime - and that’s not even factoring in the effect of inflation or the pressure to customise the most magnificent order possible.

 

Alongside this desire to consume the most “luxurious” coffee, however, is a bigger issue: the obesity epidemic. Fuelling this is a popular marketing strategy, used by most franchises, known as “upselling,” where customers are offered the chance to “improve” their order by topping with whipped cream or upgrading to large for just 50p. Not only does this scheme increase the cost of a coffee, it can result in an average consumption of almost 20,000 additional calories per person per year. The fact that caffeine makes food taste less sweet further worsens the situation: people are more likely to sweeten their drink or indulge in a sweet treat too. Moreover, the drinks served by Starbucks rarely even taste of coffee - they have so much sugar, milk and cream that they’re more like flavoured milkshakes than artisanal coffees. A Venti White Chocolate Whole Milk Mocha with Whipped Cream, for example, contains an outrageous 609 calories, 65.9g of sugar and 28.6g of fat, making Coca-Cola seem healthy with just 139 calories, 35g of sugar and no fat per can. Some would claim that these extra calories are negated by the effect of chlorogenic acid found in coffee (which supposedly boosts weight loss), but any benefit of this disappears once a slab of cake is consumed alongside. The general public is oblivious to the nutritional content of these enormous servings of cake - a lemon drizzle cake sold by Pret A Manger had more than triple the recommended daily amount of sugar for a child. Go on a couple of coffee dates a week and all those calories rack up rather quickly…

 
takeaway coffee
 

Not only does coffee consumption affect the health of the human population, it also has a detrimental impact on the environment. Takeaway coffee cups are coated in a thin layer of polythene to make them waterproof and aid with insulation, but this makes them non-biodegradable. Technically speaking they’re still recyclable - but only by highly-specialised facilities, two of which exist in Britain. In the UK we get through a staggering 10,000 takeaway coffee cups in only two minutes; on a global scale, humans discard 16 billion coffee cups per year. That equates to 6.5 million trees, 4 billion gallons of water and enough energy to power over 50,000 homes. Some stores offer a discount for people who bring their own reusable takeaway cup, but the simplest way to tackle this issue is to simply use recyclable cups - a study showed that the majority of people would happily pay a little extra for their coffee if this was the case.

 

Coffee capsules used in the increasingly popular Nespresso machines are even worse. Made from a combination of aluminium and plastic, they’re virtually impossible to recycle - a problem that is worsened by the coffee granules trapped in the bottom of the pod. And this trend doesn’t seem to be disappearing - coffee capsules currently make up a third of the entire Western European coffee market and it is believed that by 2020, sales of coffee capsules could overtake that of teabags.

 
coffee
 

The packaging of coffee isn’t the only thing harming the environment: new farming techniques have a drastically detrimental effect too. Over 125 million people rely on growing coffee beans to survive, but the ever-increasing popularity of coffee has resulted in major changes in farming methods. Traditionally, coffee beans were grown under the shade of trees, a method which required no chemical fertilisers and encouraged greater biodiversity in the area. Now, the canopies which once sheltered the coffee plants have been obliterated so that coffee beans can grow in direct sunlight, resulting in a severe loss of biodiversity. Although the beans grow more quickly and are easier to harvest, they require large quantities of chemical fertilisers which deplete the soil.

 

We consume four hundred billion cups of coffee a year, but how often do we stop to consider the wider impact this has? Coffee is detrimental to our personal health, our finances and, most of all, our planet. And the funny thing is, most of us don’t even like its natural taste. We drink coffee to fit in with what we perceive the expectations of society to be: for many it’s more of a habit than a conscious choice. Completely cutting out coffee from our lives would be the simplest solution to these issues; but coffee culture plays too significant a role in modern society for that. Regardless of how we take our coffee, it doesn’t change our memories created over a cup of coffee, or the pleasure of indulging in the drink. Perhaps the answer is to take small steps towards a healthier relationship with coffee: next time you’re cosied up in your favourite Starbucks, maybe consider skipping the cake, going decaf or using a reusable takeaway cup.

 
reusable coffee cup
 

I really hope you enjoyed the essay and I’d love to hear your feedback! I still have a daily cup of coffee, but I now carry a reusable cup out with me (mine is from Stojo) which has been fantastic so far. It reduces the environmental damage and many places even give you a discount if you bring your own reusable cup too!

 

Hope everyone has had (or is having - lucky you who aren’t back at school or uni yet!) a fantastic summer and I’ll do my best to keep up with blog posts - as mentioned earlier, any content ideas would be much appreciated. Thank you for reading this far too!

 

Heather xoxo

 

* FYI as this was an exam piece and it has my copyright please don’t copy or reproduce it. It was hard work with many drafts and it’d be gutting for someone else to take credit!

 

References

 

’12 Health Benefits and 6 Disadvantages of Coffee (Smashing It!),’ Warrior Coffee

<https://www.warriorcoffee.com/news/2/12-health-benefits-and-6-disadvantages-of-coffee-smashing-it>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

Triggle, N. ’Public 'tricked' into buying unhealthy food,’ BBC News

<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41129960>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

Hurley, B. ’Coffee order: would you like environmental sustainability with that?,’ The Guardian

<https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/may/09/coffee-order-would-you-like-environmental-sustainability-with-that?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

Smithers, R. ’UK coffee chains criticised over sugar-laden products,’ The Guardian

<https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/06/uk-coffee-chains-criticised-sugar-laden-fruity-products?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

’The Effects of Paper Coffee Cups on The Environment,’ Green Match

<https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2015/06/the-effects-of-paper-coffee-cups-on-the-environment>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

Fearnley-Whittingstall, H. ’Viewpoint: The waste mountain of coffee cups,’ BBC News

<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36882799>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

Stokel-Walker, C. ’Is there a serious problem with coffee capsules?,’ BBC News

<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35605927>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

’Caffeine and Insomnia,’ My Life Stages

<https://www.mylifestages.org/health/sleep/caffeine_insomnia.page>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

Benson, T. ’How Your Coffee Got so Damn Expensive,’ ATTN:

<https://www.attn.com/stories/5117/history-of-coffee-cost>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

Jourdan, T. ’It can be good for your brain and waistline, but bad for your bones and kidneys: What your daily coffee is really doing to your body,’ Daily Mail

<http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2987126/It-good-brain-waistline-bad-bones-kidneys-daily-coffee-really-doing-body.html>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

Shilling, L. ’Retro coffee - was it really that bad?,’ Cafe Culture

<http://www.cafeculture.com/news/retro-coffee-was-it-really-that-bad>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

Ferdman, R.A. ’It’s true: Americans like to drink bad coffee,’ The Washington Post

<https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/02/24/its-true-americans-like-to-drink-bad-coffee/?utm_term=.d1a387b6f5fb>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

Goodwin, L. ’How Much is Starbucks Coffee?,’ The Spruce

<https://www.thespruce.com/how-much-is-starbucks-coffee-766065>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

’Starbucks Nutrition Info,’ Starbucks UK

<https://www.starbucks.co.uk/quick-links/nutrition-info>

[Accessed: 17/09/17]

 

DiSalvo, D. ’Caffeine May Make People Crave Sweetness, Study Says,’ Forbes

<https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2017/08/24/this-is-why-coffee-and-donuts-taste-so-good-together/#54010eac3b52>

[Accessed: 24/09/17]

 

Arumugam, N. ’Why Starbucks Has No Time For Me: The Science Of Being A Coffee-Hater,’ Forbes

<https://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2012/03/26/why-starbucks-has-no-time-for-me-the-science-of-being-a-coffee-hater/#221b1d182e20>

[Accessed: 24/09/17]

 

’Coca-Cola Classic,’ Coca-Cola

<http://www.coca-cola.co.uk/drinks/coca-cola/coca-cola>

[Accessed: 24/09/17]

 

’Coffe culture,’ Wikipedia

<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_culture>

[Accessed: 24/09/17]

 

Looijen, F. ’Coffee: Just an Energy Boost or a Social Atmosphere?,’ Masters of Media

<https://mastersofmedia.hum.uva.nl/blog/2012/10/19/coffee-just-an-energy-boost-or-a-social-atmosphere/>

[Accessed: 24/09/17]

 

’Coffee Farmers,’ Fairtrade

<http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/farmers-and-workers/coffee>

[Accessed: 24/09/17]

 

Myers, A.J. ’The dark side of coffee: an unequal social and environmental exchange,’ The Conversation

<https://theconversation.com/the-dark-side-of-coffee-an-unequal-social-and-environmental-exchange-46838>

[Accessed: 24/09/17]

 

Milne, L. ’Fights disease and helps weight loss: Surprising perks to your coffee fix,’ Sunday Express

<http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/562984/Perks-to-coffee>

[Accessed: 24/09/17]

 

Gunnars, K. ’13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science,’ Health Line

<https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee#section1>

[Accessed: 24/09/17]

 

Nordqvist, J. ’Coffee: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information,’ Medical News Today

<https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270202.php>

[Accessed: 24/09/17]

 

^^ approx. 700 words ^^

Alban, D. ’15 Links Between Caffeine and Anxiety,’ Be Brain Fit

<https://bebrainfit.com/caffeine-anxiety/>

[Accessed: 30/09/17]

 

’Insomnia,’ NHS Choice

<http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Insomnia/Pages/Introduction.aspx>

[Accessed: 30/09/17]

 

Domingo, I. ’What is the Kremlin and how to buy tickets online,’ Russiable

<https://russiable.co.uk/kremlin-moscow-buy-tickets-online/>

[Accessed: 30/09/17]

 

’The Most Obnoxious Starbucks Drink Orders,’ Huffington Post

<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/30/starbucks-drink-orders_n_3671496.html>

[Accessed: 30/09/17]

 

’Shade Grown Coffee,’ Earth Easy

<http://eartheasy.com/eat_shadegrown_coffee.htm>

[Accessed: 30/09/17]

 

Alexander, S. ’Revealed: the cost of your coffee addiction,’ The Telegraph

<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/news/the-cost-of-your-coffee-addiction-revealed/>

[Accessed: 01/10/17]

 

Alexander, S. ’How much is your coffee addiction costing you,’ Buddy Loans

<https://www.buddyloans.com/blog/how-much-is-your-coffee-addiction-costing-you/>

[Accessed: 06/10/17]

 

Bye Bye Highers

All of my Higher exams are finally over - yay 🎉! It’s been such a busy year (particularly in the last couple of months) and it’s such a relief to have it done at last. But as relieved as I am, I’m almost in shock too and feel a little lost at what to do. I’ve been prepping for these exams pretty much continuously for the last year (well, you could even say my whole life as Highers are the most important exams that Scottish high school students sit) and suddenly they are now over before I’d even really processed I was doing them. It’s terrifying to think there’s nothing more I can do to change the result that’s on my university application, but let’s not think about that - just got to wait until 7th August for the results...

 

 

As much as I’d love to be jumping around and celebrating the end of my exams, instead I find myself feeling emotional and exhausted 😫. It’s been such a draining year to simultaneously keep up with all of the coursework and navigate my rollercoaster of emotions too. It almost feels like I’ve been on my last reserves for the past couple of weeks, and to top it all off I’ve been sleeping pretty badly as well 😴.

 

trees at Kilmardinny Loch

 

Yet despite all this I’ve made it through my exams! That’s probably due to a variety of things…

  • Getting a little (who am I kidding, a lot of) motivation listening (and singing) to The Greatest Showman soundtrack on the way to every single one of my exams 🎶.
  • Smoothie bowls 😍. You all know I’m completely obsessed with these (check out these posts for my different recipes) and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had so many smoothie bowls in my life as I have in the last three weeks!
  • Having lots of lovely little conversations with people before and after exams (a huge help in distracting me from the prospect of the actual exam themselves).
  • Walking around Kilmardinny Loch many times for a little breath of fresh air - check out this post for more details about this beautiful location 🌳.
  • Doing yoga to keep calm and help me to relax (just another attempt at persuading you to give it a go in case this post didn’t already do so!) 🧘‍♀️.
  • Admiring (and photographing) all of the beautiful cherry blossom trees blooming in the streets 🌸.
  • Trying lots of new vegan food places with my parents (particularly my mum) - keep an eye out for my Foodie Highlights post at the end of this month for more details 🥑!

 

 

So now I have two whole weeks to myself to catch up on sleep and completely relax, before starting off my sixth year timetable and my final year at high school (aaaaaaaaaa!!!). I’m having a mini trip away with family to Paris soon 🇫🇷 (I’m soooo excited - prepare for many blog posts!) and I can’t wait to have some time to catch up with friends, work on developing my blog (any post ideas would be much appreciated) and just take time to look after myself and recover from the most stressful school year of my life (I’m hoping doing some more yoga will help with this!).

 

 

As cringeworthy as it is, I’d really like to take a minute to thank everyone who’s helped me through the year (both in education and just life in general): my teachers who’ve been amazing at helping me through coursework and the final exams 🤓, my family for supporting me in EVERYTHING and my friends for sticking with me even when I’m being a total pain at times. I also want to thank every single one of you who reads my blog: your kind and encouraging messages and comments have been so lovely to read and really boosted my mood whenever I’m feeling down 😊.

 

cherry blossom

 

Best of luck to anyone who still has exams left to go - if you’re looking for any tips check out this post to help with your studying. For all of you who are now exam free like me, enjoy! As exhausted as I am, I can hardly contain my excitement now that summer is so close and I’m actually free to go outside and enjoy the sunny weather rather than be stuck indoors revising ☀️. If anyone has any recommendations for things to do (or vegan places to eat) in Paris then please let me know in the comments.

 

Heather xoxo

 
Bye Bye Highers - Heather Rowland at hefafa.me.uk
 

Top 10 Tips for Exams

It’s crazy to think I’m now actually on study leave to prepare for my Highers - probably the most significant exams to set me up for the rest of my life (even if this does sound a little over-dramatic to say!). It doesn’t matter what my grades have been like throughout the year - the qualification I come out with in each of my five subjects (Maths, English, Biology, Chemistry and Physics) is all dependent on the final exam.

 

Stressed. Nervous. Exhausted.

 

We all sit exams at some point in our life and I’m pretty sure almost all of us can relate to those three feelings (and probably many more just like them). I’ve survived exams before and so I’m sure I can make it through these ones too - I’ve just got to keep on pushing through to the finish line (again I apologise for the complete over-dramatisation!). 

 

Anyway, to help focus through studying and exams I thought I’d share my top 10 tips for making it through these stressful times. Here it goes…

 

*Please note, I am by no means an expert in the field of studying and exams but I just thought I’d share things that work for me in an effort to try and help others. These tips may not all work for everyone but I hope they’re of help to some extent, even if it purely is just letting you know that you’re not alone in suffering from exam stress.

 

planner and laptop

 

1. Be organised.

This one seems pretty self-explanatory, but what a lot of people forgot is that being “organised” looks very different for each individual. I personally use my Urban Outfitters planner to make mini to-do lists for each day and to keep track of other plans I have, and to record what studying I do it each day. Study plans don’t really work for me (although I know they can be a brilliant tool for others) so instead I set myself a rough target for how much work I want to get done each day and then follow my gut instinct when choosing what to revise. The main thing is just finding out what method works for you and to set yourself realistic targets for your studying.

 

2. Use a variety of different revision techniques.

I love mixing and matching multiple techniques to revise for each subject as for me, it makes studying less repetitive and it helps me to reinforce the course material in multiple different ways. Handwritten notes are usually my first method, followed by lots of past papers, Quizlet flashcards (if you’ve not tried Quizlet before I’d 100% recommend - here's a link to my profile so you can see some of the study sets I’ve made), mind maps, BBC Bitesize, post-it notes around a room etc.. I find it quite helpful to look at a few different sources of information (class notes, BBC Bitesize and BrightRed textbooks being my favourites) to see facts presented in different formats too.

 

physics notes

 

3. Take breaks from revision.

I can’t even begin to emphasise how important this is. You have to take a break - in fact, lots of breaks! Not only is non-stop studying studying studying mind-numbingly boring, it actually becomes less effective as your brain struggles to process the overload of information, you become really tired and then you can’t concentrate at all! It’s so much better to alternate revising and having breaks (such as grabbing a snack, going on a walk or seeing friends) to give your brain some much-needed time to rest, plus it gives you time to have a little fun away from all of the work as well.

 

4. Switch off your phone.

Of all of the tips on the list I’d say this is probably one of the most important. About a month ago, I downloaded a little app called Mute that tracks how much time I spend on my phone and ever since then my phone usage has reduced hugely. Switching off your phone whilst revising helps you to stay focused on the subject you’re studying, plus it also gives you something to look forward to catching up on during your breaks from revision (although I’d recommend trying to do something more other than just scrolling through social media when taking a break - having a little walk in fresh air will leave you feeling way more refreshed and ready to revise again!).

 

ringbinders

 

5. Ask questions.

Your teachers are there to help you succeed so why not use them? Asking questions helps you to ensure you understand the material and helps to erase any uncertainties you have about the course content so is a huge step in preparation for sitting the final exam. And if you’re doubtful about asking teachers, try talking to friends doing the same subject to see if they can offer any help - explaining the answer to you will help them to revise too so it’s a win-win!

 

6. Keep calm (also see tip 2).

All of the stress, pressure and work associated with exams can become really overwhelming so it’s important to do your best to keep a clear head and try to relax. It can be so much harder to do than it sounds (it’s taken me a long time to figure out how to keep myself calm) but going on a little walk, doing some yoga or simply taking a minute to focus on my breathing has helped me loads, so I guess it’s just about finding a method that works for you.

 

english notes

 

7. Stay positive.

Having a positive attitude has a huge effect on how you approach your exams and revision. Although this can be tricky to maintain if you feel as if you’ve underperformed in an exam, it’s important to let it go and focus on achieving your full potential in future exams. Have faith in yourself - you’ve spent a long long time preparing to sit these exams and if you apply yourself fully you can do it!

 

8. Remember to eat and drink.

Staying well nourished and hydrated is so important to ensure your mind and body are in optimum condition for exams. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day also has huge benefits and should help prevent you suffering from headaches having been focusing so much. Trying to eat relatively healthy will leave you overall feeling more refreshed, but at the same time remember to enjoy indulging in snacks and sweets - it’s not every day you’re stuck sitting exams so you deserve to treat yourself for all of your hard work!

 

biology mindmaps

 

9. Sleep.

I cannot even begin to emphasise how important it is to fall into a regular sleep pattern to avoid complete exhaustion. It keeps you refreshed, gives you energy to focus and makes sure you perform to the best of your ability on the day of the exam, so I’d definitely recommend getting plenty of sleep! 

 

10. Find a way to motivate yourself (also see tip 7).

This one can be a little tricky at times but once again it’s all about finding something that motivates you to get the grades you want. Whether it’s a future university course, personal satisfaction or the prospect of some sort of reward once all of the exams are over, finding a source of motivation to push you through your revision is a brilliant way to ensure you perform to your full potential in exams. 

 

chemistry notes

 

Hopefully at least a couple of those tips will help you face future exams and leave you feeling a little more confident, calm and determined than before. There’s clearly a lot of crossover between different tips so I hope you manage to find a combination that works for you. If you have any questions just ask in the comments or email me through my contact page - I’ll do my best to reply as soon as possible. And if you have any tips for surviving exams feel free to leave them in the comments below too. 

 

Most of all I’d just like to finish with a huge GOOD LUCK to everyone sitting exams this coming month - believe in yourself and just remember that it’s not long until it’s all over and we’re free from studying!

 

Heather xoxo

 
top 10 tips for exams - hefafa.me.uk
 

Life Update

Happy Saturday everyone! Apologies for being away for a couple of weeks - ever since the snow has melted life has been pretty chaotic and my schedule has been so crazy I’ve not had time to blog at all. So I thought I’d give you all a little catch up on what I’ve been up to since my last post…

 

Music

You may know having read my About page that I’ve played the oboe for nearly nine years - there have been many highs and lows in my relationship with the instrument but I finally sat my ABRSM Grade 8 exam on Monday. It’s taken loads of lessons and practice (particularly since the start of 2018 - major thanks to my mum for driving me everywhere!) but I’m so glad to have it done and think it went pretty well overall - fingers crossed for the results!

 

I’ve also performed as part of woodwind trio led by a friend at my school’s chamber concert on Wednesday, and on top of all of that I’m away next weekend with school orchestra which should be great too.

 

From a general music perspective, recently I’ve been loving listening to the Black Panther soundtrack (if you’ve not seen it already I’d totally recommend it), FRIENDS by Marshmello & Anne-Marie, This Is Me from The Greatest Showman soundtrack (I saw the movie with my friend Sophie and absolutely loved it) and Breathe by Jax Jones (feat. Ina Wroldsen).

 

oboe and sheet music
oboe and sheet music

 

School

Although having a couple of days off with the snow was a great break, it turned school a little chaotic as we’re now a little behind on the coursework in some subjects. Everything’s getting crammed in pretty quickly with loads of tests, sending off portfolio work, doing my whole Physics assignment and making subject choices for next year (I’ve picked Advanced Higher Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Higher Spanish). It’s pretty crazy to think there are only four teaching weeks left in school, although I guess it does mean it’s less than ten weeks until I’m exam free!

 

english folio
physics assignment

 

EYP

A huge contributor to my crammed schedule has been European Youth Parliament (EYP). To sum it up, I worked with friends in my year to research a few controversial EU topics and to prepare speeches and fact sheets on each topic in preparation for a debating competition last Tuesday. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read as many newspaper articles in my life as I have in the last few weeks…

 

It’s involved loads of late nights staying behind at school and as crazy as it sounds, I’ve had so much fun researching the different topics with my group. To make it even better, the competition went really well and my team progressed to Nationals in Liverpool in September - yay!

 

EYP

 

Food

By now you’re probably well aware of how much of a foodie I am, so I thought I’d add a mini update on some of my favourite things I’ve eaten lately. I’ve indulged in one of my all-time favourite recipes, Minimalist Baker’s banana french toast (which you may remember me mentioning here and here); made pizzas at home (topped with as much chilli as I could possibly manage); eaten loads of porridge from my gorgeous coconut bowls (which have featured in almost every breakfast post I’ve done); cooked vegan chilli (keep your eye out for a recipe coming soon); and can hardly count the volume of soup I’ve consumed lately too!

 

But best of all is undoubtedly my recent discovery of Lotus Biscoff spread, which somehow is vegan too! If you’ve never tried then I’d 100% recommend. It tastes absolutely heavenly and is so indulgent you’d never guess it was vegan!

 

banana french toast
biscoff spread
chilli pizza
vegan chilli
porridge

 

Other

In case what I’ve already mentioned hasn’t been enough, I’ve also been doing a 30 day yoga challenge with my parents, which has been a great way to relax given everything else I’ve been up to. I’ve also come to love an app called Pause, which has been a brilliant way to de-stress and keep calm - I’d definitely recommend doing it as a way to take time for yourself away from the rest of your life. For me, it’s been a huge help in coping with some tough choices and emotional difficulties I’ve had recently (mini shoutout to everyone who’s been super lovely to me lately - thank you for being so wonderful!).

 

And in what little free time I’ve had in the last couple of weeks I’ve also loved catching up on Riverdale and Jane the Virgin on Netflix, plus watching the new season of Masterchef too (I think I’ve already figured out who I’m rooting for to win!).

 

happy hair flick

 

Anyway, now that all of that’s over everything is beginning to calm down a little and I should be able to get back to blogging more often (although perhaps not as frequently as at the beginning of the year). I just can’t wait until exams are finally over and I can be stress-free for a little while over summer.

 

Let me know if you’ve got any requests for future blog posts (I’m always looking for new ideas!) and I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to lately in the comments too. To stay more updated on my daily life add my Instagram, @_hefafa_. Have a great weekend!

 

Heather xoxo

 
Life Update - hefafa.me.uk
 

Unicorns, Clean Bandit and Lots of Random Stuff

Once again, I’ve been super busy juggling life both in and out of school, so I thought I’d give you another little update of some of the different things I’ve been up to lately!

 

Halloween Party

One of my friends had a big party to celebrate Halloween and it ended up being a costume party… After having a minor panic about what to wear, I opted for using my new sparkly dress and going as a unicorn (one of my all time favourite creatures - did you know that the unicorn is actually known as the symbol of Scotland?!).

My glittery pink dress was from Urban Outfitters (I can't find the pink glitter version online, but you can get the same style in loads of different colours) and I bought the unicorn horn from Topshop. It originally had a veil at the back, but it was too much hassle so I just cut it off for ease (and I actually preferred it this way anyway!). I wore all my usual jewellery and had a little glittery make up on my face for extra sparkle.

The party itself was a tonne of fun chatting to loads of different people etc. It was definitely entertaining and eventful!

laura and ellie
euan, cara, naithan
julie
nathan and the girls
unicorn glitter dress
megan
cara

 

Essays, Tests and Assignments

On top of trying to keep an active social life, I’ve been super busy with all of my school work - I’m sure everyone sitting their Highers relates to the same struggle! I’ve had assignments to finish, tests to prepare for and essays to write for my English portfolio. I’m definitely coping much better at balancing the workload, but I have been pretty emotional trying to write my personal reflective essay - it’s so tricky to try and incorporate description and reflection and creativity on a really personal topic. I am making progress though - nearly half way there now!

 

French Toast

What’s a weekend without a fancy breakfast?! I’ve shared this recipe here before, but this weekend’s treat was a recipe from Minimalist Baker for banana french toast. It’s really easy and so tasty - I’d never imagined I’d still be able to indulge in french toast as a vegan! Obviously it doesn’t have the same eggy taste and crispness as normal french toast, but I actually love the sweet banana flavour and the gooey texture. I topped with my usual fresh berries and maple syrup (it was scary how much maple syrup we actually got through as a family, but oh well!) - what a delicious breakfast!

french toast 2
french toast 1

 

Clean Bandit

 

My trip to the Barrowland Ballroom on Sunday night to see Clean Bandit start their new tour was absolutely amazing - best concert I’ve ever been to! The location itself was brilliant. It’s such a beautiful ballroom (the neon light’s outside are so bright and fun!), the acoustics sound fab and I love how it’s that bit smaller compared to other concert venues - I think it makes you feel so much closer to the artists.

Clean Bandit were amazing. I’ve always enjoyed listening to their singles but have never really listened to their album. Each individual player in the band were phenomenal - I found the complex layering of different rhythms so fascinating. And the singers were wonderful too, covering every song fantastically. My new favourite is Come Over (feat. Stylo G) - I’ve been listening to it on repeat ever since the show!

In addition to the fab performance, they chucked out loads of glitter which I collected and am saving for no reason whatsoever, but why not?! And best of all - I managed to get one of the band’s set lists! It’s currently sitting in my room, ready to framed as soon as possible!

barrowland ballroom
clean bandit
pre show
clean bandit set list
clean bandit on stage

 

So yes, I’m busy as always and am having so much fun with everything I’ve got going on. Apologies for my less frequent posts, but I figure it’s more important to enjoy experiencing life than just spending all of my spare time documenting it. Hope you liked the mini-catch up!

 

Heather xoxo

 

What have you been up to lately?

 

header image