Exploring The Netherlands

The Hague





The Hague
The Hague
So last week I visited The Netherlands with a friend and I think I need to live there at some point it was incredible. We stayed with one of my friends relatives who showed us round both The Hague and Rotterdam which was lovely and meant we didn't have the embarrassment of saying we didn't speak the language for a couple of days. After that we explored by ourselves, starting with Amsterdam with a recommendation that we start our exploration on the western side where it is quieter and has lots of unique shops that we couldn't find in the UK. We ended up in The Tulip Museum which is almost opposite the Anne Frank museum if any of you fancy a nose around. Following our small exploration of the area we headed to Museum square which as you can see above had loads of Miffy's lined up. Naturally we had a look around the Rijks Museum which currently has a fantastic little exhibition about the history of the fashion magazine, which was mostly demonstrated through the use of illustrations on postcards.

When it comes down to it, I am definitely an Amsterdam person I love the contrast between the old houses with some of the newer buildings, with everything running alongside the seemingly canals. But I would be more than happy to stay in The Hague as well as it still has the contrast between old and new and the culture that I love about my favourite cities. It was also full of loads of super cute shops where I purchased a pair of green sunglasses that look a lot like a pair that Taylor Swift sports...  Rotterdam for me at least was all most too new, all of the architecture clashed, and it was almost too clean and maybe because we visited on a weekday it was really quiet. Other than that Rotterdam is pretty cool and my friend and I ate all of the food when we visited the Markthal. As well as that the docks are pretty damn impressive.

XO, Miriam 

Down By The River

//Jacket - Singapore Airport//Top - New Look//Skirt - Topshop//Tights - TU//Shoes - Converse//

Now that I am on summer break I have more opportunities to explore where I live, and while the quayside isn't a new area to me it is one I will visit and re-visit over and over again. So expect more riverside backdrops over this summer, because I am going to be there a lot. Despite it being June the weather has gone back to being inbetween seasons, with clouds coating the sky in a weird bright white that makes it hard to see and the need for tights has also reappeared.

A little story about this jacket: I got this when I was 10yrs old when I was at Singapore Airport during a 7 hour layover with my family. Both my sister and I loved the jackets and skirts that the air hostesses wore on the Singapore airlines flight. So my parents bought us some, and due to being tall and therefore needing a larger size than was correct I still have the jacket. The skirt was lost in a fashion experiment involving scissors...

So anyway I am currently residing in Holland and have been for the last few days, I cannot wait to share all the photos I have taken with you!

XO, Miriam

The Book Club| A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - 5/5

I'm going to start out by saying this book made me cry on a full bus, and there was nothing I could do to stop that happening. I didn't cry because of the concept in general but I cried because of what the book did to me in that one sitting that I sat on the bus and read it in. It drags out some of your worst moments, some of you darkest moments and asks you to tell the truth to yourself, the same way the monster asks Conor to tell the truth about his nightmare and the other monster he is so afraid of. This book makes you see the way that your thoughts can lie to you to make your world seem brighter but really if you admit the truth you leave behind a heavy burden on the floor that you no longer seem to carry.

Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?

From other people's comments and the cover I kinda expected it to be more of a dark fantasy novel than a contemprary one. However Ness has blended the two seemlessly, with the monster who visits Conor at 12:07 in his nightmares, but when he wakes up there is evidence of the monsters presence. Ness inserts the elements into the narration that touches one, tears others apart and perfectly shows what we call life. The book deals with how those who live with family members who are ill perceive things, how they believe things even when they have been told there is nothing to believe in, and how they hide behind shadows and lose themselves in their thoughts.

I don't know how I will ever be able to review this book properly, or recommend it to anyone because it breaks your heart to read the words. But here we are, read it but remember:

“You do not write your life with words...You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”

XO, Miriam

The One Direction Tour

So a couple of weeks ago two friends and I headed off to Cardiff to see One Direction, both of them are huge fans and me well I'm never quite sure but their music sure is catchy. I have tried before but you can never quite capture the feeling of a concert in words, so this time I won't try. I will just say that both One Direction and the 'warm-up' act McBusted were absolutely incredible and as always the Millennium Stadium created a fantastic atmosphere for the music.

XO, Miriam

Do you believe in fate?

Insert irrelevant selfie here

I think I have mentioned before that I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason, be that meeting people, events changing your perspective and even which book you pick up next.

So I guess you could say I believe in fate.

I honestly think that you are always where you are meant to be at any given time. You can look at this two ways both literally so you are physcially present where you are meant to be or not so literally and that your thoughts, feelings and mental state are what they should be right now for you. I remember when I was in secondary school thinking I should have my life planned out, and while the rest of my friends knew what their next step was and what they wanted to do with that in their life all sorted out, I didn't. I never really have, but looking back there isn't much I would have done differently, the things we choose shape who we are people. We choose certain paths because that is what is right for us at that moment, events before have shaped us and changed us before we choose and all of those things have happened for a reason.

This isn't just about big life decisions, it is about the small things like deciding to go to that party because you haven't left the house or been social in a while and meeting some of the people that are now some of your best friends. It is watching a film, reading a book, or talking to somebody that changes your perspective on your situation right now. If you look back and see how many of the great things in your life may not have happened if you had left the house 5 minutes later, if you watched another cat video on YouTube instead of  reading that book for class.

So yes I guess you could say I believe in fate. But I also think you can change your fate.

XO, Miriam

An Artist's Love

 //Button-down Shirt - My Boyfriend's//T-shirt - Primark//Leggings - Primark//Shoes - Converse//

 I don't know why but I always imagine the traditional artist to wear men's shirts and either distressed jeans or leggings. Now I know that is not the case, but this image of people or make a living from their art, teach art or study art has not been helped by those I have been exposed to. All of my art teachers at school, had messy shirts or skinny jeans sometimes both, not to mention the way the stereotypical art student at my university dresses. But the reality is that I only see a snapshot of what they wear, and while it helps to identify them or tell me certain character traits about them, like any outfit would I don't know much about artists. I personally like to be as comfy as possible when I am being creative, which for me means editing photos and sketching in my journal.

Now can I point out how cool these leggings are, and that I am annoyed at myself for not sharing them on here sooner! Yup that is right these leggings are covered in spells from the Harry Potter books, notice how the "Engorgio" spell is ironically placed on my thighs... Having said that these are the best leggings, and while I know they will probably be gone by the end of summer I am content to wear them for the next few months of photo editing and dog-walking. So now you know what I personally wear to be creative, and from what I have heard from other bloggers they also wander about in what I like to call outdoor-pyjamas or the faithful jeans when they aren't taking photos of themselves or going to work.

XO, Miriam

The Book Club| More Than This

More Than This by Patrick Ness - 4/5

"Know yourself and go in swinging."
I have heard plenty of people within the book blogging and the booktube communities rave about Patrick Ness, so when I saw this book in the Oxfam tent at Hay Festival for only £2 I had to pick it up. I don't want to give too much away with this review, but the basic premise is a boy dies but then he wakes up, is it the afterlife or another life. This is one of the best YA novels I have read all year, not that I have read very many... The concept of the book is near-perfect with a concept that makes you think about the possibilities that our future holds, with our ever changing and more extreme climates, along with more extreme wars, and whatever else the future holds on this planet.

"A book... it's a world all on its own too. A world made of words, where you live for a while."

This is by far one of the most thought provoking books I have read in terms of thinking about the possibilities that are held by the future, and how we can affect those outcomes. I wish I could say more about how much I loved this book and some of its flaws but I really think this is one of those books that has to be read without knowing too much about what happens. However while I cannot reveal what happens I can say that I have a love-hate relationship with narrative style/the main character the lines a blurred as the narration focuses on his life and experiences most of all. To begin with I enjoyed the almost two part narration between what is happening in the 'present' and his 'memories' it began to frustrate me as while I knew more than the characters he interacted with I was still left waiting to figure out why they are where they are. This is both really cleverly written in that you can't put the book down, but also annoying in that you can't put the book down to reflect until you have finished it. I read this book in 3 sittings...

"You said we all wanted there to be more than this! Well, there is always something more than this. There's always something you don't know."

As John Green says on the cover "Just Read It"

XO, Miriam

I Can't Keep Still

 //T-shirt - Urban Outfitters (Emily's)//Jeans - Hollister//Shoes - M&S//

There is something different about this summer so far, or my perspective has changed over the past year. It is like I can't keep still, I have never wanted to travel so much, to so many places, it is as if living between two or three different places has instilled a need to travel not just a desire to see the world. Because of this I am trying to save up for some bigger travelling trips over the next couple of years, which means I am on a spending ban, for clothes, make-up and books. Currently the plan is save up enough to buy a ticket to New Zealand in a couple of years, then any money after that I will use to travel around Europe some more.

This will mean a lot of borrowing my sister's clothes, like this lovely top I picked out from her drawers the other day. I kept the outfit pretty simple as always, and stuck to my uniform of jeans and a top, maybe one day I will branch out of the uniform more often but for now it is summer in Britain and my skinny jeans are not going anywhere soon. Actually they aren't going anywhere ever. Sorry this post doesn't make much sense and is all over the place, I am trying to sort a lot of stuff out to do with work and a few projects I am working on. 

XO, Miriam

Hay on Wye Literature Festival

Queuing to see Neil Gaiman

Last week I headed out to Hay on Wye just over the Welsh border and began a week of stewarding the events as well as being a full scale book nerd for an entire week. I went last year but as a member of the public, this year I decided to become a volunteer steward with one of my friends from university. I have to say having stewarded The Oxford Literary Festival I thought I would have the hang of it but no. Hay is a whole new universe, a brilliant universe, but a new and sometimes confusing one none the less. It is a universe I am going to travel back to year after year, whether I go back to Hay on Wye or one of the global Hay Festivals I will keep going back. As a volunteer, as a member of the public or maybe even as an intern or as part of my job.

Watching Frank Turner

That is the thing about Hay it isn't just books, I mean books are the centre of Hay but so are the musical performances, the actors, the directors of films and the comedians. I have been back home for four days and it already seems like a lifetime ago, it is as if as soon as it ends everybody begins to wait with baited breath for the next one. It isn't like most festivals, while yes there is mud and probably rain (because you know it is hosted in Wales) there are also carpeted walkways and the nicest people you will ever meet. The authors aren't bombarded as the enjoy the festival for themselves, I walked past and directed several comedians that anywhere else would have strangers asking for photos all the time. It is as if Hay makes everyone equal, like we all have the potential to produce something creative or outstanding, there is no "celebrity" hierarchy.

Watching Climbing Trees
The best ice cream I have ever tasted.
XO, Miriam

The Book Club| InkHeart

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - 2.5/5

I feels like I spent forever reading this book but the reality is that life got in the way with exams to revise for, Hay Festival to attend and packing to leave university halls I took me a while to get into this book. Well that and it didn't get good until the end. My sister who has read the series already has told me that the second and third books in the trilogy are far better than Inkheart. So I will carry on to the next books in the hope that they improve.

"Books have to be heavy because the whole world's inside them"

I think my main problem with the book is the way the action in someways repeats itself, there was no real need for some things to happen, this mostly includes Basta's constant commentary and Dustfinger's complaining. Having said this the character development was exceptional, I feel like I know Elinor and Meggie, that I understand why they act the way they do, and that while the book is narrated in the third person I feel like I know what most of the characters are thinking at any given moment within the book. To me it is a shame that the action and the rather neat ending of the book doesn't reflect the characters, I really hope the subsequent books change my opinion of Cornelia Funke, as currently I am not a huge fan... Having said this I loved the use of quotes from other books at the beginning of each chapter, as someone who had knowledge of most of the quoted novels they really enhanced the characters and the subsequent action.

Overall I am going to test out the rest of the trilogy but there are no guarantees on whether I will finish the series. I would recommend this book to people who love books, as they are discussed a lot, and when I say a lot I mean it.

"Books are like flypaper, memories cling to the printed pages better than anything else"

XO, Miriam

Eating Habits.

This is something I have been wanting to talk about for a while now on this little space on the web, I have briefly mentioned it on Instagram and Twitter (@coffeechanel) but I haven't fully explained what I am doing and what I plan to do with my eating habits. I am changing the way I see food for my health physically and mentally, as well as in part for the environment and as a way to shine light on poor farming habits. From this description and if you have seen any of my Instagram posts lately, you will have guessed that I am working towards eating a predominately vegan diet. I am currently still eating both meat and dairy products however in smaller quantities that before. I personally see meat as a treat food and only eat it when I know that the farming practices have been organic and the animals have been allowed to live outside. As for dairy I stand by the same principles for buying it however I do eat it more often.

For now I am trying to eat two vegan meals a day and then eating a vegetarian meal with my family later in the day. I am doing this along with only eating meat once or twice a month. My aim by the end of the summer is to have three vegan days a week and four mostly vegan days. I am doing this gradually as I need to work out what works best for my body as well as not forcing my diet on my family and making it easier to visit friends and family. At the moment I tend to eat my vegan meals at breakfast and lunch as my family are still at work and school so it is easier for me to eat then. I also know that during the summer my sister and I are planning to do a week long vegan challenge and eat only vegan meals and foods, I don't know when this will be but I will update you.

Here are my favourite vegan food and lifestyle inspiration accounts on Instagram:
Essena Oneill:
Bonny Rebecca:

Marit Ingela:

If you know of anymore brilliant vegan lifestyle and food Instagram accounts send over the links to me, I would love to check them out!

XO, Miriam