20 years old

On the 25th November, I celebrated my 20th birthday. I took some time off work and spend Thursday evening – Tuesday morning in the company of my significant other. It was a complete delight.

On Thursday evening, Ben and I tucked into a nice curry from a local Indian with my parents, before I opened my gifts from them. I was lucky enough to receive a beautiful planner from Kikki.K and a jacket from asos.com, as well as a huge stuffed dog – I love them all dearly.

Ben and I stayed up until midnight watching Frozen, and when the clock struck 12 I opened my presents from the man himself. I got a variety of gifts from him, all of which I love. I was a particular fan of some Disney postcards that he’d bought me, with stills from the films as well as some of the drawings pre-final edit. It was amazing to see the work that had gone into the films, and also the skill of the artists that work on them. This went along nicely with the Disney book he bought me as well.

Among other presents, Ben had also bought me Disney Pictopia (which I thoroughly recommend if you love Disney!) and the most adorable little toy armadillo.

On Friday morning, Ben and I had pain au chocolat and spent the majority of our time wrapping Christmas gifts for friends and family. Just before midday, my friend Amy quickly popped over for a gift, and then Ben and I headed to Nando’s for a rather large (but very delicious) lunch!

In the evening, we headed back to Ben’s and watched Papertowns, which he’d bought me on DVD for my birthday, while eating ‘party food’, and many episodes of Skins, a TV show that I’ve seen at least twice through but love lots.

On Saturday evening, Ben had arranged a surprise meet-up with some friends of mine, who I wish I could see more regularly. It was an awesome surprise that ended up with us spending some time at a pub before moving on to Pizza Hut. Delicious!

Sunday was definitely the busiest day of the entire weekend. We picked my sister and her boyfriend up from the station and drove to my grandparents house. My Nan and Grandad had arranged for us all (mum, dad, Kat, Mat, Ben and I) to go out for a roast lunch at a local pub, before heading back to their’s for a game of Rummikub. I love spending time with my family, and I think every involved had a pretty good day. Nan even surprised me with a birthday cake!

In the evening, we returned to Ben’s where we watched Me Before You, another DVD that Ben had bought me and one that I have wanted to watch for ages. The book was beautiful and I was so pleased that the film lived up to expectations. And yes, I did cry.

Originally I had planned to spend Monday chilling and relaxing in time to return to work, but when it came down to it, Ben and I decided to pop to Bluewater and do some shopping. I went into the Kikki.K store and Paperchase and picked up some lovely new stationery bits, and also bought myself a new rucksack from Topshop which is definitely one of my favourite things and something I shall inevitably use for a long time.

We had a lovely lunch at Gourmet Burger Kitchen which I have recently become a fan of – particularly the skinny fries!

All in all, my birthday weekend was fantastic.

Christmas advertising

With the recent release of the 2016 John Lewis Christmas advert, which (after one week of being live) has over 16 million views on YouTube, it is evident that advertising can have a huge impact, particularly in the lead up to Christmas.

Companies spend millions of pounds on their advertising campaigns, and it’s clear that this has paid off for John Lewis, whose advert has become one of the most highly anticipated, and is almost a signifier to people that ‘Christmas is coming’ – not that we didn’t know that already, but it’s always nice to be reminded.

Today, another beautiful Christmas advert has been released that I wanted to share with you. You might have already seen it, or you might not have had the opportunity yet, but this, I feel, is one of the most well thought out ad campaigns I’ve seen. For me, it ticks all the boxes and really conveys a wonderful message. Christmas is a time to think of others, after all, and with that in mind I present to you the Alzheimer’s Research UK advert, Santa Forgot…

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia. It can affect anyone but everyone can play a part in fighting back this Christmas.

Having experienced the devastating effects that Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia can have on the lives of people left behind, this advert really spoke to me.

I’m not going to ask you to donate to the charity, although it would be delightful if you could. Instead, I urge you to think about the impact of diseases (both of the mind and the physical body) on the lives of individuals and their families this Christmas.

When you’re traipsing through aisles and aisles of Buster the Boxer merchandise, spare a thought for those who are alone or those who are grieving or those who are here in body but not completely in mind.

The Lego debate

Today, I became very infuriated during a conversation with a couple of anonymous male friends of mine, and I wanted to talk about it on my blog because where else do you go with these matters?

The conversation was regarding Christmas, a season that I look forward to all through the year. I’ve been really prepared this year, and it turns out that one of these friends has also been rather prepared (the other less so) and has bought his son some Lego for Christmas.

I should point out here that I have a lot of respect for both of these friends. I spend a lot of time with them and they are, on the whole, good eggs.

As both of these people have children, they are both aware of the toys available to societies little ones. The things that, in the lead up to the 25th of December will no doubt be put on many Christmas lists up and down the country, in the hope that someone might put in a good word to Santa and they’ll open their gifts to be overwhelmed with happiness at all the lovely new playthings they’ve accumulated.

Lego, as far as I’m concerned, is a unisex product. There is no restriction on who can play with Lego. It astounded me to hear one say to the other: “there’s not really any Lego kits for girls, is there? It’s all knights and pirate ships, they don’t really do castles”

Usually, due to the environment that we were in I would have just ignored this, but I was in a bit of a funny mood this morning so I decided to call this statement out.

From my perspective, girls can and do play with knights and pirate ships, and enjoy these things just as much as boys do. I see no reason why there should be gender stereotypes that say young person x shouldn’t play with that because they are a girl in the same way that there shouldn’t be stereotypes that say young person y shouldn’t play with that because they are a boy.

In our society, target audiences are incredibly important. I know this because I work closely with brands on a daily basis and I understand that in order for a product to work it has to suit the wants and needs of particular groups of people, otherwise you’d be shooting in the dark and crossing your fingers that someone might take an interest in your idea.

To me, however, the idea of gender stereotyping of children that are barely out of nappies is upsetting. Why should girls like princesses and castles and boys like cars and pirate ships? Why can’t they both like both things, or neither if they choose. Why can’t boys play with dolls if they want to and girls have toy soldiers?

I’d be interested to know your opinions on the Lego debate in the comments below.

Changes

For the observant among you, you may have noticed an aesthetic change to the blog. For the even more observant, you may have also noticed a slight alteration to my URL. I’ve switched from Blogger to WordPress and I couldn’t be happier. To me, this feels like the right direction for me to go with my little space of the internet. I hope that’s okay with you all.

There has been a lot of changes in my life over the past few months, but the key thing is my change of job role at work. I’ve gone from being an unqualified PR Apprentice to becoming a fully qualified PR Account Executive. The change hasn’t been massive in terms of the work that I’m undertaking, but I do feel a much greater sense of responsibility in my job right now.

I wrote a post on our company blog about my experience as an apprentice. You can read that here if you wish. I’m a real advocate of apprenticeships having been through one myself and seen the positive impact that it can have. I hope that I’ll have plenty more opportunities to talk outwardly about my apprenticeship experience on here in the future as I really do believe it’s helped to shape me as a person in some ways. I’m over the moon to have completed and passed, and I’m so glad that I have been offered a full time permanent position at Quantum.

Hopefully, over the next few months, you’ll start to notice a content change as well. I want to talk more about the things that I feel most passionate about: equality for all and mental health awareness. I’m hoping to get some good conversations started and perhaps make even a small impact on some people’s perceptions of issues that I feel should be discussed more.

As always, I’ll still be posting the occasional life update. Lots more photos and lots more fun. That’s what I’m hoping for.

I’ve missed blogging. Blogging has been a huge part of my life for years now. I set out to document everything from the beginning and that’s what I’m going to do more of now. I’m feeling focussed and ready to go.