Books

Right now, I have a problem. I am currently studying History and Archaeology at university, a degree that requires reading. Sometimes this reading is interesting and sometimes it makes me question several of my life choices. Either way I have a lot of it to do, and this means I do not have much time to read for pleasure. Of course I do have other time at university but I choose to use that watching a film or youtube, or to socialise. I really do want to read however, and I see so many books that look too inviting to simply walk away from and thus I buy them anyway.

And this is where my problem arises. I am addicted to buying books that I know I have no time to read. The picture below is the current pile of books I have (I am half way through the top one), baring in mind at the beginning of 2016 I had no books left outstanding…DSCF1089

The most annoying part of this problem is I know I could easily make time for reading and that my mind would thank me for it. Every night I lie in bed on my phone until my eyelids begin to shut by themselves and then finally I turn it off and sleep. I know how unhealthy this is and yet I continue to do it. If I turned my phone off an hour before bed and read for 45 minutes instead, I would fall asleep in a far more peaceful way.

This entire issue is of course all my own fault. Whether its because I’m too lazy to change my habits or I do not want to miss out on anything via social media, it is all my own doing. My laziness certainly impacts my actions far too much in my life but that’s a whole other blog post…

The point is I either have to make room for reading or stop buying so many bloody books! If anybody else has ever had this issue please tell me how to solve it because otherwise I do not see it stopping.

Niamh x

 

A Response

Some days you come across things on the internet that mildly irritate you, and that is normally what happens when I see someone complaining about veganism. When this happens I tend to shrug it off because I do not have the time nor effort to bother responding. Today, however, was different. Today I saw something that made blood totally boil and I really could not sit back and ignore it.

This post was an article on the Tab, an online newspaper for young journalists, and was titled “Is ‘vegan’ just a fashion trend?” I am sure most of you can already see why I was so mad. The article was an interview with a university student who believed the veganism was simply the newest trend and something no one should follow. This student, Andy Wright gave several reasons as to why this was his opinion and not a single one held any weight. Had he simply said that he was not vegan because he did not want to be then I would have ignored the article but his reasons were just incorrect and childish.

Is ‘Vegan’ just a fashion trend?

The first reason he gave as to why so many people are turning vegan was because they believed that meat comes from an unsustainable source and were concerned for the animals welfare. This much I will admit is true but Andy then goes on to say that if you, like him, the angel that he is, get your meat from a sustainable farm then everything is okay. The animals will live a happy, healthy life!!!!!!! I mean, whats not happy and healthy about living to 20% of your natural life expectancy(1) , riddled with disease and pumped full of drugs(2).

He then goes on to say that meat is good for us. Obviously he did not see that the World Health Organisation have now categorized processed meats as 1 on the carcinogenic scale meaning they cause cancer and red meat as 2A meaning they probably cause cancer. According to him a good balanced diet contains protein, which is another rare truth in this article. Only nuts, seeds, legumes and most veg are much better sources of protein than meat…

Andy then claims that we have canines for tearing meat, even though our full set of teeth are much more similar to a frugivore’s teeth than a carnivore’s teeth.

Now he comes onto why we should drink milk, and asks why we should stop after drinking our mothers milk. Well Andy, I can tell you why, because past the age of 7, our bodies cannot take it. You see there’s this thing in milk called lactose and our bodies break down the lactose into monosacoride with this thing called lactase. This is fine up until around 7/8, as this is when our bodies stop producing lactase. This means that the lactose filters straight through to our colon. Not good. And milk making us big and strong? I don’t think so.  A study done of Swedish women found that those who drank cows milk were more likely to fracture a bone. (3)

The other points in his article are all about how vegans are just following the trend but I really do not think, after all my points mentioned above, that I have to explain why this statement is false.

Hopefully Andy, and many others who agree with him, will read this post and understand why they are so, so wrong. And to all my fellow vegans out there, don’t let the haters stop you from doing your thang…

Niamh x

  1. http://www.peta2.com/issue/factory-farming/
  2.  http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/cows/beef-industry/
  3. http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g6015

Hidden Treasures

Something I have always loved finding are hidden treasures. A tiny cave on a beach or a quiet clearing in a wood. When these hidden treasures are history related its even better, and my most recent find was the Tudor House in Southampton. Located in the city centre, hiding behind St. Michael’s Church, this timber framed, stereotypical Tudor house holds 800 years of history, and certainly lets you explore the lot. I went with my boyfriend, a fellow history nerd, paying £3.95 to get in, a small price to pay considering the upkeep of the site. Inside there are many interactive displays, with recorded voices, light effects and even dressing up opportunities (that I fully exploited, see photos below).

But this post is not an advertisement for the Tudor House, this post, as the title suggests, is about hidden treasures. Every town has a hidden treasure,  its just up to the individual to find. Not every will have the same hidden treasures either, for me a historic masterpiece is a God-send but for others it would be just another building.

For me, hidden treasures are important because they bring a bit of joy in the form of the simple things, and in your own town, what more could you want? So many people want to travel and explore new places and, don’t get me wrong, I definitely fall into that category, but I feel this want often leaves people dissatisfied with the town or village they call home. I have always found my home town extremely boring, the people there being the only reason to go back. However, a few summers ago, my friends and I rediscovered a tiny river along a public footpath, and a shaded woodland area to accompany it. Needless to say countless picnics were had here and many hilarious memories made.

So if you spend too much time wishing you were somewhere else, try and find exciting places in your own town, these places definitely add that extra spice to life and I love them. Besides, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side…

Niamh x

 

 

 

Mondays

I see Monday as a good day. A chance to start again, to improve, to put into practice what you may have learned from the week before. Everyone is so obsessed with New Years Resolutions but why wait a whole year to change your lifestyle and habits?

This Monday, for example, I decided I was going to do a blogilates video everyday I didn’t make it to the gym. So far I have kept to it but if I do break it I know that next week I can just start over again. I know its easier to do it in the morning so I make sure I give myself the time every morning to do it, even if it means getting up earlier. I have also found its easier to do if I have danced around my room to a few favourite songs first…

This new information means that next week it will be even easier for me to include a workout in my daily routine and is a perfect example of me using what I have learned this week in the new week facing us in a few days time.

The change may not be a physical change but a change in your outlook. I am a strong believer in think positive and positive things will happen, but it takes a long time to apply this thought process in all aspects of life. As with many things practice makes perfect, so if I have spent the past week thinking negatively then I make a conscious effort on the following Monday to seek the good things in every thing that happens. It may seem like a tiny change but I feel like it leads to an all round happier life which leads you to live a better life.

This outlook I have may be easier for me as a university student as a Monday morning does not mean the start of a 9-5 week but even if you are going to school or work for next five days a new week is a perfect opportunity for you to put extra effort into your schoolwork or for you to be more enthusiastic with other colleagues and raise the morale of the whole workforce.

I am sure I am not the only one who has this mentality but I definitely recommend it to everyone. Starting the week with a positive mindset certainly makes the rest of it more enjoyable 🙂

Niamh x

 

Trains

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

 

Feminism is not over, Emily Hill, the battle is still very much in motion.

Many of you may have seen a few weeks ago the headline article Emily Hill published in the Spectator, regarding the “end” of feminism. When I saw the title ‘feminism is over, the battle is won. Time to move on,’ I was immediately appalled and angered; how foolish can a person be to genuinely think feminism is no longer needed? But then I took a step back and calmed down, for there was no point in getting angry if I had not yet read the actual article. Unfortunately it only got worse. It seems Hill, along with many many people, does not actually know the definition of feminism. And this makes me cringe. How can one write a headline piece in Britain’s longest running magazine and not even bother to do her research?

The definition of feminism, for anyone who did not know, is the social, political, economic equality of the sexes and it is called FEMinism because it fights to eliminate the negative connotations surrounding femininity and feminine qualities. It is quite clear that Hill does not know this and has totally focused on white feminism and chosen to rip it apart in this article. Although it is true that many do focus primarily on white feminism, this is not purely what the movement stands for and it should not be obsessed over. She uses examples from her own life and data regarding education in England to prove her point. Amy Poehler’s car analogy is a perfect response to these futile statistics. When asked about people denouncing feminism, Poehler replies with ‘That’s like someone saying “I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.”‘ Hill is bashing feminism because its done its job for her and now its no longer needed.

Another mistake Hill makes is believing that all feminists think that women should cover up? She references the beach body ready campaign in April this year, that was rightfully objected to by many women. However they were not objecting because the women was in a bikini but because it insinuated that only women of a certain body size were ready to strip off at the beach. One thing feminism fights for is that a woman should be able to wear whatever outfit she chooses without being objectified, whether that be shorts and a crop top or a burka.

The list goes on; she belittles street harassment, groups all feminists as internet trolls and downplays the caution taken against being sexually assaulted on a date (despite someone being sexually assaulted every 107 seconds in America and 70% of rape cases being date rape) to being ‘ridiculous’.

The biggest problem I have with this article is not what Hill writes but what she fails to write. She misses out the biggest issues women and young girls face; FGM, forced marriage, forced child pregnancies, young girls being traded for cattle, being stoned for adultery, being stoned for being a rape victim, rape victims being forced to marry their rapists, no right to an education… the list is endless. However, just as importantly, Hill totally disregards what feminism does for the struggles men face, as a result of patriarchal values; mainly raising awareness for male mental health and high male suicide rates. This is issues are also so so important and should not be disregarded.

Overall, my main problem with this article is the uneducated, sweeping statements it makes, based on generalisations and stereotypes, and honestly, Emily Hill, it is incorrect, it is poisoning and it is embarrassing.