A Rising Star

I’m so thrilled that I’ve been chosen as one of this year’s Rising Stars by The Bookseller. Every year The Bookseller selects 40 ‘industry up and comers’ and following my nomination for Young Retailer of the Year, I was chosen! I’m so happy and proud and grateful and overwhelmed, and feel so full of love and support.

Here is what The Bookseller said:

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Read about all of the other Rising Stars here.



This story begins in early January, before Lucy had trotted off to Moscow and when I still had friends around to go to lunch with… happier times indeed.

Myself and Lucy were having a lovely last outing before her return to Russia and to celebrate, we had a fabulously middle-aged afternoon. We met outside Ask, enjoyed the most basic Italian lunches on the menu (spaghetti bolognaise and a carbonara) and had a wonderful discussion about interior design and home accessories: Lucy blamed this on the fact that she’s in her twenties; I had no such excuse. After lunch we wandered around Lakeland, browsing the pallet knife selection and comparing the size of cake tins before heading to Paperchase and finally Little Waitrose. I can safely say that I enjoyed every single moment of our afternoon.

Whist waiting for our buses, we decided against chatting with the fellow bustopers and instead chose to pass our final few moments together by reading aloud our horoscopes.

As an avid reader of Shout magazine back in the mid-2000s, I consider myself very well acquainted with the horoscope malarkey, as is Lucy because as all 13 year olds know, there’s nothing more fun than hoarding piles of magazines and dog-earing the pages with the funniest horoscopes to show to your best friend.

With our most patronising voices at the ready, we turned to the horoscopes page in Cosmo and began to read (long story short about why I’d bought a copy of Cosmo: I was in Boots earlier buying toothpaste and felt silly holding just toothpaste so grabbed a copy at the till. Impulse buying at its finest).

It had been a long time since I’d read a horoscope and my earlier confidence was beginning to dwindle. Mentions of ‘Money, Property, Possessions, Charity and Business’ were throwing me off and I was desperately searching the page for mentions of ‘hot lads’, ‘well fit crushes’ and ‘back to school’. Then I remembered that I’m 19, pulled myself together and began to read to Lucy.

It is really not your fault that you have been unable to run your money, business, property or charity properly, as you have been unable to get the full story or obtain a clear picture for months’, I began, looking up at Lucy. ‘What you have needed all along is the Sun’s ingress into Capricorn, a rather practical sign, so that you can gain new angles and see the situation from others’ point of view.’ There was certainly a look of confusion over Lucy’s face, and I’m pretty sure my face looked the same. What on Earth did this mean?

Unable to garner any meaning at all from the Sagittarius reading, we swapped roles and Lucy began to read mine. ‘Leo. Everything you own, earn or owe is a far bigger priority after Mars changes signs to Pisces on 12th January, when a person or organization which is low on tolerance or patience will affect your plans.’ Upon hearing such garble my face had definitely contorted itself into the following position…

This only serves to emphasise just how unclear one situation has become,’ continued Lucy, ‘as the Mars-Neptune conjunction on 20th January will reveal the lack of firm boundaries in an arrangement which is, frankly, all over the place.’

We sat in silence for a moment as we both attempted to understand what we’d just read. It was then that Lucy said, ‘you know, if we were in Russia right now an old woman would be telling us to stop sitting on this wall because it makes you infertile’. First the horoscope and now Russian nonsense, things were getting more confusing by the second.

I looked down at the magazine attempting to find something that I could agree with but despite my best efforts, I simply couldn’t see anything that I believed. It hadn’t been money wasted though because if not informative, at least it provided us with a good chortle before we said our final farewells.

Changing My Life One Avocado At A Time

Sitting in Nandos the other day, I decided it was time to make a change. Time to become a strong, sophisticated lady who eats like a Queen and looks like a goddess. A woman who’s sure of herself and not afraid to show it, and a woman well aware of what constitutes as fashionable food. The key to this change? An avocado of course.

You only need to open a magazine to see avocados plastered over every page. Avocado on toast, avocado with scrambled eggs, an avocado salad. They’re literally everywhere but only to be eaten by an elite few. My most recent trip to chicken heaven came during a low point in my life. I was suffering from third degree FOMO (fear of missing out), wishing desperately to be a part of the avocado movement. My FOMO was worse than it had ever been before and unexpectedly, my inhibitions escaped my clutch. Before I knew it, I’d uttered the phrase, ‘please add a quarter of an avocado onto that too’ when I was ordering my quarter chicken, chips and corn on the cob.

What had I just done? I couldn’t believe my momentary lapse in sense. Shocked, my head began to fill with questions that I couldn’t answer. Had I done the right thing? Is my social standing high enough for an avocado? Did the waiter at the till laugh at my request but I missed it because I was too overcome by the situation? Stumbling back to the table, I waited for my meal to arrive.

Looking down at my plate, I was now facing a new problem. I’d eaten avocado before, in the safety of my own home where the only person around to judge is my dog but I’d never eaten avocado in public and never eaten it as an accompaniment to an already completed meal. I was feeling out of my depth as endless avocado eating options began to circulate my mind. Do I go for the avocado first, eating it directly from the tiny, pristine bowl that it came in and leave the rest of the meal for later? Or do I eat the avocado at the end, like a pallet cleanser before I consider the desert menu? What if I’d missed the point entirely and proven that I truly am an avocado novice; what if those well acquainted with the beautiful green fruit (or is it a vegetable?) eat it withthe meal, and order cleverly enough that their dish of choice is complemented by the avocado.

There was a lot to consider and I was beginning to feel worried that I wasn’t prepared enough for the job. But time was running out and my hunger was forcing me to make a decision. In a panic-driven move, I adopted the all-in-one method and, as gracefully as my hunger ridden body could manage, I pilled as much onto my fork as possible.

The first bite confirmed that I had made the right choice but I couldn’t stop myself from devouring the entire dish. There was a party in my mouth and the avocado was definitely welcome. I can’t imagine that there has there ever been a more delicious meal than medium spiced chicken, chips, a corn on the cob and an avocado quarter. I walked out of Nandos a different person than I walked in. The avocado had changed me; I was a new woman, a healthier woman, a more sophisticated woman, and most importantly of all- I was an avocado eating woman.

Support Systems

As someone who has – and continues to – suffer from a mental illness, I recognise the importance of forming personal support systems. However, until recently I’d not found a proper place to go when I needed the understanding comfort of someone who knows how I feel. I’d always thought of ‘support systems’ as being a group of unwell people sat around discussing their illness and dwelling on their sadness but I’ve come to realise that it doesn’t have to be as dismal as I first thought.

I’m so fortunate to have such kind and caring family and friends, all of whom take the time to understand and listen when I’m unwell. But in the same way that I don’t understand an awful lot of things, my friends and family don’t fully understand what it’s like to be depressed or painfully anxious. Over the last few months, I’ve been taking the time to read other people’s blogs to hear their stories and to see if any of what they’re saying resonates with me.

A couple of days ago I came across a piece that Scarlett Curtis had written for the Daily Mail about how baking had became her constant while she suffered thought the madness that is anxiety and depression. She talks about the obscene number of US comedies that she’d watch when she was lying awake in the middle of the night, the cakes she’d bake because recipes made sense and how she’s no longer afraid to speak about her illness. Following the link through to her blog, I discovered that we’re the same age and both suffer from anxiety and depression as a result of illness – something which I think unless you’ve been through, you simply cannot understand.

It’s very strange to stumble upon someone who gets it. Someone who puts into words my own feelings as if I’d written them myself (although she does a much better job of it than I ever have). It’s incredibly comforting to read someone’s own account of something that I know so well and it’s encouraging to hear the improvements that other people are making. I read lots of blog posts and articles and think, ‘I can’t do that. My anxiety won’t allow me to do that’ and it’s inspiring to read about someone who too was trapped inside their bedroom but has said ‘actually, I can do this’.

I’m definitely getting better and with every week that goes by I notice improvements in myself. That’s not to say that I’m ‘back to normal’, as is evident by the file full of tragic late-night blog posts that thankfully haven’t made it from Word to the internet.

It’s in times like those – when I’m sat in bed propped up by cushions that my friend made me (reminding of just how much I miss her), hugging my 18th birthday llama (present from my best friend, currently residing in Moscow- oh how I miss her too) with a bowl of Cheerios and a seemingly unfixable sadness – that I’m so incredibly grateful to have found someone who is, I consider at least, like me. Someone who despite living in New York, someone who despite me having never met, someone who until recently I’d never read their blog, makes me feel a little less alone.

You don’t have to know someone – nor do they have to know you – for you to find comfort in what they’re saying. I firmly believe that, with any illness but mental illness in particular, the more you express, the more you share and the more you talk, the easier it becomes. With writing for Young Minds and writing on my blog, things are getting easier and the late night list writing and teary blogging is becoming increasingly less common.

Sometimes all it takes is an understanding ear, even if that ear doesn’t know it’s listening.

On a similar note, there’s a lot of campaigning being done by fantastic charities to make 2015 the year that stigma towards mental health problems ends. These charities are encouraging everyone to share their stories, whether they have suffered from a mental illness or supported someone who has, showing that is it ok to speak about our feelings and ok to ask for help. There is no shame in having a mental health problem and the It Gets Brighter Campaign aims to show support and solidarity so that stigmatisation stops this year. All of my pieces about my experiences with anxiety, agoraphobia and depression are linked on the Mental Health tab at the top. Thank you for reading and I’ll leave you with these fabulous pictures that Stephen Fry tweeted.

Casual Homophobia

Homophobia is something that has always made me very cross. Not because I’m gay but because I’m a reasonable person who understands that being gay is normal and that gay people should be treated in exactly the same way as those who are straight.

Recently, homophobia has made me particularly cross because as I begin to understand more about the world, I realise that negative attitudes toward those who are gay are still very much prevalent in society. Blatant homophobia, along with sexism, racism and classism, has and always will exist because the ignorant and hideous will always be around.

Casual homophobia, however, can change and this is the type that makes me the most cross of all.

To me, the sexual orientation of another person simply isn’t important. If that person wants to shout and scream about it then that’s their choice. Equally, if a person wants to keep their sexual orientation between a few close friends then that’s also their choice. Sadly, it seems that there is a pass-it-on mentality amongst people whereby gay-gossip has got to be spread so that everyone can have their say on something which frankly isn’t any of their business.

But none of this will change whilst sexuality continues to be broadcast as if it’s news. When Tom Daley released a video about his sexuality, it was talked about on BBC Breakfast, in the same broadcast that featured the weather and terrorism. Why is it that a 19 year old’s sexuality was being presented as news? Had he made a video telling us he had a girlfriend would that have made BBC news too? Of course not, and that’s what has to change.

We can’t expect people to become more accepting when our national news broadcast still talks about gay people as if they’re novelties. For young gay people, ‘Coming Out’ videos can provide huge support. They let people know that it’s ok to be gay, that for some people it takes time to understand who they are, and that it’s ok to tell their friends and family because they have nothing to be ashamed of. But all of that is undermined the moment we broadcast it on the news. The ‘Coming Out’ videos that make the biggest impact are usually made by established YouTubers where the video is merely another update for their fans about their life and unless we start reporting every hair cut or new pet that YouTubers have, we have to stop reporting on their sexualities.

When reporting YouTuber Connor Franta’s sexality last month, BBC Newsbeat even summed it up themselves in their article saying, ‘Connor Franta has revealed to his fans that he is gay. The 22-year-old told his 3.6 million subscribers, as well his followers on Twitter, in a six-minute video called Coming Out’. His fans, the only people for whom this ‘news’ would have been of interest, were provided the video so it was completely unnecessary for Newsbeat to even run a story on it in the first place.

Casual homophobia can change but the reaction from the media as well as the everyday person needs to change too. To me, the only reaction to finding out that somebody is gay to say ‘ok!’ because it’s normal to be gay and whether it’s a little giggle at the situation, a ‘can I tell so-and-so’, or a barrage of abuse, it’s absolutely wrong to treat a person differently because their sexual orientation.

I know that this is a topic that’s very heavily debated and so if anyone has any differing views then please comment below- I’d love to hear what you think.

PS: a big thank you for all of the kind comments about my last post, 2015 – The Year I Become FABULOUS.

2014 in Pictures

For me, 2014 has been the most incredible year! It was the year that things turned around, the year that I stopped saying ‘no’ and started saying ‘why not’. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to try things that I’ve never done before and have been able to make some incredible memories with the people that I love.

Health wise, 2014 has been fantastic. I finished my Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, I’ve done things that have pushed my anxiety to the limit and I’m in a much happier and healthier place than I have been for a very long time. I’m so grateful for the support from my friends, my family and my boss, because without them I’d not have had the year that I did!

So, in this post I’ll be doing a year in pictures to celebrate the fact that I have something to show for 2014! Let’s go!









Photo Run-Down
Edward’s Sweet Sixteenth- he got a Virgil Tracy costume and we all wore Thunderbird masks for lols
Jim and Sarah’s Wedding photo booth fun
My Letter of the Week in the Radio Times / Claim to Fame- Frankie from the Saturdays tweeted my Young Minds campaign
Me and Soph lookin’ fab at the Sixth Form Summer Party
Me, mum and Immy at the Race For Life
Imogen’s 14th Candle Blow-Out / Me in Shrewsbury on the only sunny day of the summer
Both from France- me and Ed outside our house on the left and me and Imogen on the right… jk it’s me in my natural habitat; surrounded by goats
Me, Lucy and Ellen before my 19th birthday party
Spiders in Salem
Ice Skating at Rockefeller / Me and Immy in Plymouth
Harriet and Me; Bookshop Goddesses and all-round angels
Me, Lucy, Tom and Ellen ft. Ronni at Christmas Games Day / Immy and me
Me, Immy and Frankie / Grandma and Grandad with me, Ed, Immy and Frankie
Grandma and Grandad with me, Ed and Immy – none of us at our best but a lovely photo all the same

Thank you for everyone who read by blog in 2014 and I hope you continue to read it throughout 2015! Lots of love!! XO

Too Fat and Too Thin

This is another piece about body shapes, for which I’m not sorry. I wrote Skinny earlier in the year and now I want to speak again about body shapes and our attitudes towards them. I know that this has, and will continue to be, a heavily talked about topic but I really believe that it’s a conversation worth having.

A couple of days ago I was watching Meghan Trainor’s new video, Lips Are Movin, when I discovered an entire comments section dedicated to slagging off her appearance. Meghan looked gorgeous in this video as she did in her last and the video was fun and inoffensive, with really not a lot to talk about. Yet somehow, there was.

Scrolling through the comments was an absolute effort. Firstly, there was hardly any talk of the actual song which is a huge shame but secondly, her weight was being used against her in every possible way. The weight comments were split into 2 groups; those saying she’s too fat and those saying she’s too thin.

As with most singers/dancers/anyone who’s remotely famous there are people ready and waiting to call them out on being fat and Meghan is no exception. The comments had the predictable, ‘ur fat go die in a hole’; the topical, ‘Her lips are movin, and her fat is jigglin’; and my personal favourite, written by someone so openly willing to prove themselves as a huge douchebag, ‘Although her body is very ugly and disgusting, her face is slightly above average at least’.

The other half of the comments were filled with things like this; ‘so funny how all about that bass was about loving yourself and now shes skinny’ and ‘she’s not even fat anymore, she’s lost tons of weight :/’. There was also mention of her now being one the ‘skinny bitches’ that she mentions in her previous song.

It’s not as if comments like these are anything new, nor is what they’re saying original but still it strikes a chord that women are so eagerly judged about their appearance to the point where Meghan is being called out for being too fat and too thin all at the same time.

The media is keen to call anyone fat (even when they’re pregnant – Kim Kardashian a perfect example having been called a fat whale when she was 8 months gone) but I was surprised at the outrage that people are expressing about how she’s lost weight. These comments spoke about how she’s turned her back on girl power and become yet another Barbie doll singer which I think is not only ridiculous but shows a lack of understanding about the message from her first song.

Yes, in All About That Bass she does bad mouth thin girls (skinny bitches) but then attempts to remedy it later by saying ‘no I’m just playing … every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top’. Certainly, this could have been phrased better to become a more inclusive line but as one of the so called ‘skinny bitches’, I’m not terribly cheesed off. That’s why I don’t really understand these comments about Meghan’s weight because she’s clearly and proudly an advocate of body confidence whether you’re large or small.

I find the whole weight issue very hard to understand because at the same time as Meghan Trainor is being hated on for being too thin, Victoria’s Secret angels are being hailed as body inspiration when they are half the size of Meghan. It simply doesn’t make sense that a normal sized woman is both too thin and too fat and a thin woman is just right.

Looking back at the video again it appears that things are changing as a lot of the nasty comments have been removed. We need to self-police, to stand up against comments that are unnecessary and do as our mothers told us, to say nothing unless it’s nice. It doesn’t even need to take any effort to make a difference as the biggest change would occur if we simply said nothing at all.