Friday, 30 June 2017

when blogging bites back

You might notice that like 80 percent of all of my posts are missing.


It kind of sucks.

Basically, Photobucket (absolutely naming and shaming) decided to update its terms of service so that you can't use it as a photo-hosting service without paying for it. And I would be okay with this, totally, if I'd been given some forewarning and a chance to either switch service, or pay for Photobucket if it wasn't too expensive.

The issue is that, if there was a warning e-mail, I didn't get it. This morning when I went to post a book review, I was greeted with the horror of all of my photos being gone, or more so replaced with a really stark image screaming "PLEASE UPDATE YOUR ACCOUNT TO ENABLE THIRD PARTY HOSTING". Embarrassing much?

I mean, maybe Photobucket was never the right choice for this blog. The website has always been painfully slow on my ageing devices. I should have known they'd only allow their service for free for so long, but still, it's a pain. A pain that will take a few hours to fix.

There's one positive thing about this whole mess though (and it's not that I can't remember the order of photos in posts. I'm sincerely sorry if they're disconcertingly different). That positive thing is it is making me reflect on every post I've kept up. I've deleted a few boring ones over the years that I have no loving feelings towards, but I never really considered the value of most. This has given me an opportunity to delete the extremely lazy ones, where there are a couple of old photos with the words "s0rrY 4 n0t BLogG1ng" but a little bit more eloquent.

I guess I want to make this place more beautiful, and more me. You've probably noticed that I essentially don't put up pictures of myself. Just the odd vague side view. I suppose I'm still kind of scared to do that, but I would like to try to inject much more of myself, much more personality into this space.

I realise now how much I value this website. And now I want to make it even better, higher quality, more sincerity.

Until I get some old favourites up and running, there are a limited amount of posts live, but I hope you don't mind.

What's the biggest blogging disaster that's ever happened to you? This is most certainly mine. And yeah. I'm reusing an old photo- but it's so cool and the post I had it in was decidedly crap!

Anna x

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Be Yourself?

We often hear phrases, sayings thrown around like "they're just jealous", "be yourself- everybody else is taken", and "believe in yourself". For most of my life, I have dismissed all of these sorts of utterances as clichés. Everybody says these things, and I think that most of us don't follow them. We don't believe in them. They're stupid, untrue, idyllic.

Lately I've begun to realize that they're not so wrong after all.

For years, for my whole life, I've been afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. I've been afraid that people will laugh at me when I tell them who my favourite musician is, what movies I've cried at, what I think of things. I think I've been hiding. I often resort to saying "I don't know" or "I don't mind" in situations where I know what I want, but feel I can't say it. Me being non-committal in this way can make me seem passive, disinterested, despite my intention of being open and inoffensive.

Yesterday, I decided to say "yes" when asked to hang out with a friend in the evening, instead of hesitating about the fact that I hadn't been given enough advance warning. Unintentionally, I said what I thought, I let myself be free in saying everything that I wanted to. I danced in the dark, because that's what I like to do. I didn't worry that my dance moves were sub par, like I normally do. I normally start dancing, and get progressively worse when I start to think about how bad I must be.

When I go on hikes, I'm always afraid I'll fall. I'm afraid when I have to climb, that I won't be able to. I'm afraid to ask questions, and so stutter when I raise my hand. I trip on hikes, and get scraped on climbs, only because I am afraid. Not because they're dangerous.

Yesterday, after I let myself free with someone new, someone who had seen a lot of me, but never, maybe, the full me, she grinned at me as we parted ways. She told me that she'd enjoyed herself, enjoyed my company in a way she had never before.

Usually I might be insulted, at first I was confused. I didn't understand her phrasing, and then it hit me; she had a good time because I being myself. I was not afraid to speak. I didn't make up fake, agreeable opinions. I wasn't loud, or boisterous, I was still myself in outlook and thought, only in a less guarded way.

I worry that I'm a boring person, so much that I perpetuate it to the point of truth, by not allowing myself opinions of my own, a fashion style of my own. I make myself boring by the thought that I might be. I'm probably not your average person, the things I like to do may seem stranger or unfamiliar, but people are always interested in that. It makes a much better impression on people when I tell them about how much I like writing, and when I whip out my DSLR in front of friends who I've never discussed photography with. A much better impression, than when I tell people "I don't have any hobbies" or "I like to look at the internet in my free time- no favourite YouTubers of course."

In short, I'm still learning how to be comfortable in myself, but all the evidence I've gathered over these soon 19 years is leading to the same answer: It is not stupid to be yourself, it is not stupid to encourage others to do the same. We are not going to live that long, not one of us. We may as well try to be happy.

Do you have any advice on being true to yourself, or any ancedotes you'd like to share? I would love to hear them.

Anna x

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk

One of my goals for the summer is to try to enjoy my own country a bit more. I'm definitely someone who loves to take in nature and new things, but I rarely think to do it at home. I want to see new places, that are off my own personal beaten track.

That policy was taken into action this morning for the first time, when my good friend and I woke up (too) early and took a train to Bray in order to do this cliff walk. Admittedly, I was apprehensive. I am NOT adventurous and not a hiker. I'm always afraid of things going wrong and injuries and steep slopes that I don't want to climb. While I'm thankful that it turned out this was not the case on this particular walk, my willingness to just go and try it is something I'm happy about. I want to learn to be more brave, and more adventurous. 

The walk, needless to say, was beautiful and easy. The path was clearly laid out, with only one or two stony passages that one might need to take extra care with. It is very family friendly, and very dog friendly- just no buggies as the path is narrow by times. My friend and I talked and walked at a leisurely pace. We were overtaken by countless walkers, but still managed to complete the walk in about an hour and a half.

Once in Greystones, we explored the area, and sat around the various different mini beaches. We got lunch in the Happy Pear and were generally just content to laze and paddle bare-foot along the rocky shore line. The sun was much more prominent that I had expected and both of us ended up sunburned. A reminder to every mountain-climber: wear sun cream, as even if it's not too sunny, you're awfully exposed in the higher altitudes! Both of us were also completely exhausted after months of studying for exams, and a couple of weeks of doing them. It was a really nice experience, though I am red-faced now.

I'm excited to go on more mini-adventures this summer. Do you have recommendations, or plans of your own? I would love to know!

Anna x

Friday, 23 June 2017

Madeira // market place & last days

This post is long, long overdue. I have a billion (valid) excuses, mainly involving exams and the fact that I have to go through 2 extremely outdated computers in order to make one single coherent blog post. This will all soon change, thankfully!

My final couple of days in Madeira were strange. They were incredibly casual in many respects- we went into Funchal for some light shopping (I found wonderful gifts for my family) and had to pack up the house. We saw a final few things that my friends had not shown to me yet. I felt surprisingly sad about leaving. I had been in Madeira for just over a week, but organising my suitcase and watching the dehumidifiers being set up felt really final. I didn't want the beauty of the island to come to an end for me.

We were chased in the market by all kinds of merchants who wanted us to taste their fruit, sweets, and try out their wares. Some of them tried to serenade us by shouting "hey ladies! I like your style!". What especially didn't cut it for me was when an Australian man, getting  us to try some exotic fruit called me a Paddy when he found out I was from Ireland- his marketing techniques were unsuccessful to say the least!

After the trauma of market rush-hour, we stopped to try out a bakery/café which was, truthfully, still in the market walls. We picked out our treats and took them to a bench to consume. Delicious though they were, they were flaky and sticky and messy- not ideal for eating on the go. We ended up looking for a tap to rinse out hands under.

I've now been back home in Ireland for months. I still think fondly back on my time in Madeira. It was truly an amazing experience to travel with such a close friend, and see all kinds of things that I'd never seen before. I think it's safe to say we avoided any tourist traps. I saw all kinds of natural beauty (which I'm really yearning for now, after half a year of studying at home) and experienced what it's like to be in a climate where the most tasty, fresh fruit grows. Island life was different to the way I'm used to living (also on an Island...) The pace, the calmness was so different to my busy life. I definitely felt a sense of calm there, that I hadn't felt in a long time. For that, I'm incredibly grateful, and glad to have gone.
 The travel to and fro was very very long and complicated involving two planes which didn't connect with each other and a long waiting period. Only for that reason, would I be hesitant to go again. However, if there is ever a direct flight from Ireland to Madeira, I would totally recommend that people go. It's a small island, full of mystery, things to explore and food to try. It's hilly and steep (not my favourite things ever) but nothing seems so hard there once you try. I had a wonderful, wonderful trip, with some really sweet people. These photos are ones which I hold close to my heart.

What's your favourite place you've ever been to? Do let me know! This travel bug is intense...

Love, Anna

P.S. Please check out the rest of my Madeira series here for more information
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