31 Aug 2015

6 Things That Made Me Smile This Week!

Hi world, long time no see!

I can only apologize about this series being absent from In The Clouds for so long. This is the first week that I have really been blogging religiously since the National Citizen Service had taken up the last three weeks. But now Beth is well and truly back.


This week has been one of those weeks where I didn't know if I was coming or going half the time. The weather's been absolutely terrible and just makes you want to curl up on the sofa under a big cozy blanket doing nothing. My dad's been rushing backwards and forwards to Yorkshire trying to sort out funeral arrangements for his aunt, on top of  the fact that my brother has dislocated his knee (with side effects that include moaning, grumpiness, loss of his sense of humor and just general winging) has meant me being forced to stay indoors most of the week. Now all the days just seem the same to the point where on Thursday I convinced myself it was actually Saturday, meaning it was time to sit down and watch the long awaited return of The X Factor only to find some weird antique programme on in it's place!

Anyway despite everything, some things did manage to put a smile on my face :

-A visit from down under: Even after my great aunt passing away and how upset my Australian uncle was, I was not for the life of me expecting a phone call from him to say that he was just about to board a plane to England that very moment! The next thing we knew we were picked him from the airport having not seen him for three whole years. It made for a interesting weeks that's for sure.

-Getting the girls together: Now that everyone is going their own way, whether that be 6th form or college, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get us all together ie that there was not a single day in the past four weeks that we could all do!

So on Tuesday, after many a text sent backwards and forwards ,we finally got to meet up for my belated birthday meal. A whopping three burgers, a plate full of chips and one blueberry Eton Mess later, we were buried under duvets watching Netflix together. You couldn't have asked for a better day!

-Lols with Tom Cox: At the moment I currently obsessed with a certain Mr Cox's books. Not only does he own two blogs (here and here) and write very funny books, but the subject matter is his seven very charismatic cats! And I'm a sucker for cats and books that are guaranteed to have you laughing out loud in under 2.5 seconds flat.

-Plum & almond tray bake: With the whole blogosphere chatting about The Great British Bake Off (because duh who doesn't love cakes!) I decided to get to work in the kitchen once more and whip up a treat. I found this yummy recipe online and was extremely pleased with the result. I even got a thumbs up from Toby who sat and hoovered up the crumbs I dropped on the floor like a dog!

-Etsy buys: This week I finally gave in to the call of Etsy (and it has been calling me A LOT!) by buying four amazing vintage prints from Kayley's shop, having Instagram stalked her for months...although I probably shouldn't admit to that! I just couldn't resist the purchase and now I finally feel like a proper blogger. Plus an inspiration quote or two in the house never hurts anybody, does it?

-This posts: All week I've been preaching about appreciating things and spending more time doing what you love. This post that I came across on Hannah's blog echos exactly that and more!

So let's catch up. How was your week?
Love Beth xx

26 Aug 2015

Why You Should Appreciate Everything

Not many things in this world annoy me, but the one thing that does is people who take things for granted. People who don't appreciate anything and expect everything. We are so lucky that we are able to say "tomorrow I'm doing this" and "next year I'm doing this" because for a lot of people this isn't a possibility. They are constantly living on the edge, wondering about whats going to happen the next day and the day after that.

Just look at Katie for example, a seventeen year old girl who battle with Cystic Fibrosis I have been following for the past few months. Despite receiving a lung transplant two years ago, she sadly passed away on Sunday 23rd August just short of meeting her idol Zoella. And as heart wrenching as this story is, it just goes to show how precious each and every day of our lives are and how unpredictable life can be.  

Just last week not only did my brother end up being rushed to the hospital in back of an ambulance after dislocating his knee, but on Tuesday (18th August) we received the dreadful news that my great aunt had passed away.

It was one of those moments where time seems to stand still and you can't really take in what you are being told. Are you sure? Really sure? But how...? It was just one big unexpected shock that nobody could have seen coming. 

Since my dad was a child she had been like a second mum to him, dotting on him like he was her very own. She was always the glamorous one of the family too, with long nails always freshly painted and wafted around the house on a cloud of flowery perfume fumes. But now that house is empty.

Life eh?

One minute you are arriving home from an eventful day at NCS and the next your family living on the other side of the world in Australia are jetting over to England for a funeral. So why suffer over seventeen hours stuck in economy when they could just send flowers and a condolence card? Because they are family and no matter where they are in the world there will always be love. Sometimes we can get so sucked up in the world and all it's technological beauty that we forget to appreciate everything and everyone around us. It's especially important to cherish our friends and our family- to me they are everything. My world revolves around them and I couldn't imagine life without them.

But one day the inevitable will happen...it's happening now. We have to spend as much time with our loved ones now as possible. Their love is unconditional and love like that should never be wasted. So go wild, be free, do whatever the fuck makes you heart happy and your head dizzy because tomorrow is no given prospect and today is not yet over.

Seize every sing god damn moment with them because somebody (don't ask me who!) once said that you don't appreciate anything until it's gone. For me that was true, but I really hope it won't be for you.

Sorry for writing such a long post, but I just felt it was something I needed to address. I couldn't let Katie or my aunt go without marking their life. Also when Katie was alive she set up a Facebook page to encourage people to sign up to the organ donor list after a double lung transplant prolonged her life. I just wanted to spread the word really as there is a drastic shortage of organs at the moment and wondered if any of you would or have signed up already?

Love Beth xx

24 Aug 2015

Go Set A Watchman | Harper Lee

You know when a new book is about to be published and you literally sit there all day like an over excited Labrador puppy googling article upon article about it and sneak peak extracts? Yeah, well that was me the week before Go Set A Watchman was published. You'd have thought I'd suddenly  received my letter from Hogwarts that had mysteriously got lost in the post for the past three years or something!

Instead it was the excitement at the prospect of finally, after fifty five years, having more words from Harper Lee and a chance to find out what really happened to all those wonderful characters once I closed the last page of To Kill A Mockingbird.

This book is set twenty years after the events of TKAMB, showing a much maturer Jean Louise Finch as she returns home to Southern American from the hustle and bustle of New York to visit her elderly father. But she gets a lot more than she bargained for as she soon learns how much her beloved hometown and close-knit family has changed, for the world keeps turnings no matter where you are in it. The book beautifully captures the painful transition of growing up and accepting that ones childhood is well and truly over.

Now, there was a lot of controversy surrounding this novel about the 88-year-olds health and the extent to which she was actually involved in publishing this book having written it as a first draft many years ago. But looking past that it did served as a very insightful companion, added a whole new meaning to TKAMB.

However, as much as I loved experiencing a different era of American history and being able to read about more adventures that Scout, Jem and Dill got up to that weren't mentioned in the other book, I did very much miss the first person narration as I think that was one of the reasons why To Kill A Mockingbird was such a hit. I'm still kind of recovering from the disturbing truths we learnt, including that sentence on page 13 which broke my heart and the discovery in Chapter eight which basically turns everything we ever thought we knew about Atticus upside down!

Overall this is a good book- I mean how could it not be if the Harper Lee had written it- and I think it is there to show that nobody can stay young forever and that sometime we all have to grow up, whether we like it or not. People need to stop thinking of Go Set A Watchman as a sequel but rather a rough first draft of a classic that was rightfully rejected by the publishers.

A real good read for Lee fans but nothing will come close to the brilliance of To Kill A Mockingbird!

Now onto the next book,
Love Beth xx

22 Aug 2015

Week One Of The National Citizen Service

No matter how much time I spend sitting here writing this post it will never do my NCS experience justice. The pictures won't show you quite how happy I was or the I-am-about-to-pee-myself-with-laughter jokes we had and the words won't show how much I've grown as a person and the things I learnt about myself. But such is life!

I'm not going to lie, before I saw the adverts on TV for the National Citizen Service I had never heard of it before. But basically it is a government funded programme for 15-17 year olds living in England and Northern Ireland where you get the chance to spent 3 or 4 weeks away from home, meeting new people, conquering fears, increasing your independence and learning skills that they don't teach you at school. It's about showing yourself how amazing you really are and that you can achieve anything you put your mind too.

It's not easy- at times it's bloody difficult. You are expected to push yourself and do things you never thought you were capable of before. Climbing across bridges and tightropes suspended in the trees 30ft above the ground anyone? You are put into a group of 12-15 strangers that you have never laid eyes on before and expected to work together as a team. You have to eat with them, sleep with them and socialize with them. And you cannot complain once!

 My two friends, Bethan and Meriel, and I opted for the three week summer programme starting the 3rd August and before we knew it the day was upon us. Cue mad last minute packing and constant thought of  'have I forgotten anything?' as the butterflies whizzed around my stomach left, right and center until I thought I was going to throw up.

Can you tell that I don't deal well with nerves?

Anyway, Week One is all about getting comfortable with the people in your group and pushing yourself out of that little cozy comfort zone that we are all know and love. Our group went to the Essex Outdoors Center and stayed on campus there for five days, taking part in adventure sport like archery, rock climbing and canoeing by day and sleeping in tents at night...yes tents! Why did it have to be tents?

Lets just say my previous camping experience did not end well...

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did I last the whole five days without becoming a big fat emotional wreak but I actually enjoyed myself. Not many people get the chance to spend 24 hours, everyday for five days surrounded by a bunch of amazing people. Bethan, Meriel, Alice, Stevie and Michael become my everything for that short period of time. They saw me first thing in the morning and last thing at night, watched me wear the same top that I wore the night before (and the night before that!) to go rocking climbing in, comforted me when I was thinking of throwing in the towel because the idea of spending another night in that freezing cold, spider ridden uncomfortable tent was unthinkable, motivated me to do the horrendous activities that involved heights since me and heights really don't get on and laughed so hard with me when we stayed up half the time drinking tea and playing cards in the pitch black. Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart!

The funny thing was that for the whole time I was there I didn't wear an inch of make up (not even mascara which has become a bit of a necessity when you have midget eyes like mine), smelt a bit sweaty, didn't straighten my hair once, discussed my toilet activities in broad daylight with a bunch of strangers and you know what...I didn't give a shit. For the first time in as long as I can remember how I looked was the last thing on my mind. And it felt amazing! I realize now I spent far too much time before worrying about how my hair looked, if this dress made my bum looks big and whether you could see that spot I tried for an hour to cover up. Who cares people! There are more important things, like making memories at NCS that will last a lifetime!

I got back from Week One late Friday afternoon (7th August) covering in painful cuts and bruises and stinking of pond water from where our canoe capsized. If you know me you would probably think that this was my worse nightmare and in someways it was, I mean communal shower? But somehow or another I find myself sitting here and longing to go back to that first week. Yes, the food may not have been great but at least they didn't starve us. Yes, the tents may have been freezing cold at night but I survived. And yes, I'm really bad at meeting new people but I did it and got to know some really lovely people.

I have to end this by saying a massive big thank you to my beautiful ginger friend Meriel who spent no less than three hours on the phone to me one evening, trying to encouraging me to sign up to do the National Citizen Service. I would not be writing this post had it not been for her very persuasive speech!

And NCS, thank you for everything. You made me feel amazing and showed me that you are never too old to get out there and do something new. I'm sorry for moaning about pretty much everything and I'm sorry for shouting at quite a few of the instructors to 'GET ME THE HELL DOWN NOW!' when I was doing the climbing wall. I did truly think I was about to die, not lie. Also you made me really appreciate my vision since attempting to do a military style obstacle course
blindfolded was not much fun!

So of course I would recommend this programme to anyone and everyone- shout it from the rooftops if I have too. If you are between the ages of fifteen and seventeen you better sign up NOW! It was an amazing experience that money really can't buy...yet it did. All £20 of it!

Who doesn't love a good bargain eh?

Love Beth xx

21 Aug 2015

Update | GCSE Results

At around 9:30am yesterday morning I was running through the school gates, arm in arm with three of my best friends for moral support, just eager to get my hands on that envelop containing my long awaited GCSE results. It felt like everything was moving in painfully slow motion as I was handed the letter and tore open the top, fumbling around inside to pull out a piece of paper that would make or break me. The drama was real people!

For the past two months, before that moment, I lost count of the amount of times people had asked me how I thought those eighteen exams had gone and my reply in all honesty was always 'I don't really know' since I had spent the majority of the exams panicking that I only had five minutes left to complete ten whole stinking pages of questions or attempting to de-cramp my poor pencil mutilated hands.

However as it turns out all those months spent bent over my desk, studying text books and badly written colour coded notes actually paid off. That little piece of paper in my hand was telling me that I had passed all twelve GCSEs, achieving 1 A*, 5A, 4B and 2C. As I left with those results firmly clutched in my hand to treat myself to a Starbucks and slice of cake, I couldn't help doing a little jig. Yes, I may not have achieved the best grades in the year but I passed every single exam and reached the individual subject requirements to study them at A level! So basically I am one happy bunny right now and currently digging into a box of celebratory chocolates. Who knew being a geek could be so rewarding?

You lot have had to listen to quite a lot of my GCSE related stress here and obviously my studies and recent National Citizen Service programme which I took part in, has meant lots of time spent away from blogging and the internet altogether, leading to an increase in lovely guest posts which you can view here. And I can only thank you, my friends and family for being so supportive of me and my attempt to carve a path for myself in this world which is no easy task, believe me.

Currently I'm in the process of letting the fact that I actually passed maths- like really passed it- sink in as I finally unpack my suitcase, download the pictures I took and collect my thoughts enough to write a blog post about my NCS experience now that it is over. Those three weeks that I spent away from home seemed to whiz by and now I'm a big, fat emotional wreak about the fact that it's finish for good. It will be nice to find some time to sit down and write about it at the weekend, that's if the phone ever stops ringing with the constant stream of 'Congratulations' and 'Thanks a lot, I had a £10 bet on that you would fail everything!'

Ah, aren't family just the best? 
Love Beth xx

2 Aug 2015

A Holiday and An Eventful 16th Birthday

I was thinking of doing a 6 Things posts as I have been behind on them recently but I just don't have time, so this is a quick spur-of-the-moment type life update to say that yes, I have been away but no, I haven't forgotten about you lot one bit.

Yesterday I got back from holiday with my friend Jane and her family after spending a fun packed week in Norfolk, exploring the coastline (just look how beautiful it is!) and gift shops while attempting not to spend all my money in one go and listening to stories courtesy of Jane's 80-year-old Grandmother. It was such a refreshing break from normal every day life and I definitely ate double my weight in food thanks to THAT American Diner! But who cares, I was on holiday after all. The only problem was that I had no internet connection for the whole week and now have a million and one blog posts to catch up on. I always say to people that even though I am a blogger. I not addicted to my phone and could happily live without it. However, sometimes I wonder if maybe that isn't the case and that is a slightly scary thought.

We also had a rather eventful last day on Friday not just because it was finally my 16th birthday (and that is a scary age!) but because a lovely local fish and chip shop caught alight right in front of us, forcing us to camp out in the street for 3 hours until the firefighters got the blaze under control! It was like a real life episode of Coronation Street, with a mad bingo-winged-woman shouting that "it was gunna blow". An experience like that really does show you how powerful the force of nature can be and makes for a rather memorable birthday indeed.

As I was away for my 16th, my family decided it was only right that we celebrated together the following day which meant I basically got two birthdays like the Queen. Because I'm THAT amazing! I got the most beautiful Pandora ring, tickets to see The Lion King at the Lycrm Theathre in London because who doesn't love Disney, the complete Harry Potter book collection, a bookcase to display them in rather than having to pile up all my books on my draws like I did previously and much more. I even got a birthday cake like I did when I was a kid once we got back from dinner at The Kings Head.

At the moment I'm in between packing for NCS, having just unpacked from holiday and washed all my clothes in the space of a few hours like a mad woman! Quite a few people were surprised to hear that I was doing NCS as camping and anything adventurous that involves heights (I'm talking about you rock climbing!) are my worse nightmare. I think I must have been slightly intoxicated when I agree to do it but the prospect of spending three weeks with a group of my close friends and gaining experience for my CV for only £20 was too good an opportunity to be missed. So there I'm not entirely stupid and anyway it's good to get outside of your comfort zone sometimes. Even if it is slightly daunting!

I hope you enjoyed the last Guest blogger who featured here and are looking forward to meeting some new bloggers as the weeks go on. Just so you know I'm not currently accepting anymore guest writers but if you leave your email I can contact you for future help.

Wish me luck,
Love Beth x
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