I don’t take long train journeys often. Being at university in Southampton everything I need is a short bus ride away. When I go home to Hertfordshire, however, I must take a train from Southampton to London Waterloo, which takes about 1.5-2hrs. On this journey I always make sure I have my ipod and headphones and often a book. I am sure I’m not the only one who brings entertainment for a journey this length, as shown by the actions of my fellow passengers. Very few sit there enjoying the peace and quiet of the train and relish in the rest it provides in the hectic life so many of us lead.

In my newly found opinion, train journeys are a time to relax, where for a short period of time you have no obligations, or duties. You can sit there and look out the window, taking in the English countryside. Most train lines run through fields and sometimes forests, and there is so much simple beauty to take in from these scenes. Even when not near the window you can close your eyes and take your time to think, about absolutely anything. In a world where we seldom have time to simply mull through what’s in our own heads, a train journey is a missed opportunity to indulge in this.

We live in a world where entertainment is thrown at us. Anything from phones, ipods, books, portable games consoles, laptops etc. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment whilst travelling, but we are missing a golden chance to do so much more. These distractions are conditioning our brains to want to be active all the time, and it means we feel so bored when we have nothing to do. Although this can certainly be a good thing for it makes us want to use our time, we should use the energy to declutter our brains.

So I, Niamh Elizabeth Bell, personally challenge anyone and everyone to take at least twenty minutes of your journey to think to yourself. No distractions, no excuses and nothing to entertain you but the wasted imagination we all have somewhere in our complex minds. For some it may be easy but for others it will be a struggle. Use the time to tackle any personal problems you have, those decisions you have to make but you really don’t want to or how to word a difficult answer to a difficult question. Even if it’s mulling over that heart wrenching book ending or cliff hanger in your favourite TV show, you’re still spending this isolation time with yourself, and that is what is important about this challenge. Spend time with yourself, away from the jam-packed existence so many of us have, and you might feel a little more on top of life.

Good luck,

Niamh x


Away with the fairies

I’ve always been a dreamer. A wishful believer in all things magical and mystical. The stories of fairies and folklore, of witches and wizards, dragons and demons.  Anything ethereal and out of this world has caught my attention since I was a little girl and now I’m 18 nothing has changed.

At times I feel like this interest has played a massive role in shaping me as a person. My favourite book when I was younger was The Three Little Witches Storybook by Georgie Adams, a set of stories that I still remember today.  I also loved the Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, a video I watched on repeat and a book I have read countless times. Irish folktales were another huge part of my childhood, especially as I am named after Princess Niamh of Tir na nOg…

However, this obsession with magic didn’t stop in my youngest years. I began reading Harry Potter when I was 9 and since then I have read every book so much the pages are nearly falling out and the films over and over again that now the DVD artwork had begun to fade. When I was 16 I bought the Lord of the Rings boxset (late I know) and I watched all three DVDs in a row, I just could not stop.

Still today at 18 years old, I watch these films over and over again, and often remember the stories I was read as a child. They’re such a strong part of my life that I recently got a witches hat tattooed onto my ribs… that’s how much magic means to me.

Arguably, many could say that I need to grow up and leave these things in my childhood, but I beg to differ. These stories shaped me as a person, teaching me not only to have fun and be confident in myself, but also certain moral codes, and that is something I am grateful for. Why should I as an adult ignore these things that shaped me so much? I’m not even sure I would define myself as an adult yet so even more reason to continue to immerse myself in these otherworldly creations. They may be there as a fun story for kids but they’re definitely an escape from reality for those older.

Niamh x