WALKER STALKER CONVENTION

If you follow me on instagram you may have noticed over the weekend I volunteered at the Walker Stalker con in London. WSC is a zombie, sci-fi and horror convention although for London it was primarily for the walking dead cast. 

How did it begin? It all started with the walker stalkers podcast with two guys called James and Eric, who were able to view the set of The Walking Dead and meet the actors from the show. From the podcast the idea of a convention came recreating the experience they had had with the cast and crew of the show along with other actors from zombie TV and films. It is not just a convention it is a place for fans to meet up and be apart of a zombie loving community. London marked the first time they did a convention out of America, it was also their 18th convention! 

Why did I volunteer? When I saw the convention was coming to London I was planning on buying general admission tickets, the cost for the weekend was £72 or £36 per day, with general admission there really are no benefits compared to vips, gold and platinum etc. You can view the cost of tickets and benefits here. Since I didn't really have too much money at the time I saw the 'be a volunteer' sign up and thought that might be interesting. Convention and event work has always been something I have had an interest in and volunteering seemed like a perfect way to explore this. In the end I ended up volunteering on the panels doing 12 hour shifts both days (6 hour and 12 hour shifts are available) my reason for choosing panels is down to the fact if I was attending as GA watching the panels is the main thing I would be interesting in seeing.  
walker stalker convention london



BOOK REVIEW - WILD: FROM LOST TO FOUND ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL BY CHERYL STRAYED

wild cheryl strayed

'At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.'

After I've finished reading a book sometimes I will do a search to read others peoples opinions on the book. Wild was recommended to me when I was in America, my camp mate and a guy from another trek group we bumped into were currently reading it. At the airport I had some left over dollars so decided to by some books, I spotted wild and a walk in the woods, both of them have a similar narratives and are based on true accounts in the end I only bought wild but added the other one to my to read list. I felt like this book was a perfect read for me since I had just traveled across America and I had the travel vibe and feeling like I had a new me attitude, after I had finished the book I was left feeling so inspired. 

That brings me onto reading other peoples thoughts some people claim that Cheryl Strayed is a liar and that her time on the PCT is fabricated, others feel the need to sit there and called her a 'whore' and a 'slag' for cheating on her husband numerous of times, the list goes on. I can only sit and believe that everything written in this book is a true and accurate account of Cheryl Strayed life and time on the PCT. 

Her writing is filled with adjectives and adverbs, some would say her writing style isn't the best, but I was drawn in immediately and 100% immerse in her story. When we aren't following Stayed's time on the trail we explore her life before the trek, the self-destruction that led her to where she is now. I enjoyed both parts of the story, the gritty details of the PCT, the survival details, the people she encountered, her blackened toe nails and toilet visits. She comes onto the trail only half prepared, she had supplies mailed to certain location, read guidebooks, planned how many miles she should hike, but she packed far more than she needed to wearing shoes that were too small for her feet. A lot of people seem to hate people who make stupid decisions and it seems this is where a lot of the hatred towards this book stems from, she wasn't experience she could had easily died of thirst or really hurt herself but she reminds me of an explorer, venturing into the unknown.

I think most people when picking up this book expect the book to be solely based on the PCT instead you get a book about grief, loss and self-discovery. The book is filled with brutal honesty from Cheryl, the book explores how she coped with her mothers death, depression, her addiction to heroin, her marriage and her infidelities. Yes, she is a little self-absorbed, inexperienced and makes rash decisions. We all make mistakes in life, cope with things different, the rawness of it all made me read on. The book throughout is beautifully narrated and entertaining, the idea of being broken or lost is something we may all relate to at some point in our life, her story about healing and surrounding herself in nature, doing something crazy by loosing yourself to find yourself really appeals to me. I truly admired her strength and courage. 

I wanted to savour this book, I didn't want it to end. I love that feeling when you've watched a film or read a book and you feel inspired and want to go out and do something about it. That's how this book made me feel. It made me want to pack up my bag and go hike the PCT although with training and not solo! 

THE HAPPINESS PLANNER

Last year I spotted the happiness planner on another blog and I was smitten, it had everything I could ever want from a planner from to do lists, goals etc. At the time however I already had a planner so didn't feel the need to purchase one. 

What exactly is the happiness planner? Instead of focusing on productivity it aims to focus on what makes you happy, it is designed to welcome more joy, positivity and happiness into your life by applying practices of positive thinking, gratitude and self development. The planner is on the pricey side at £40.61, although only a few are left and have been reduced to £33.75. The planner ended up on my wishlist for my birthday and someone kindly bought it for me and it was everything I had expected. There were two colours to choose from and I was gifted the pink, gold and white one. 
the happiness planner

the happiness planner
The planner arrived in a beautiful gift box and was securely wrapped in bubble wrap, it also came with four gorgeous print outs to stick on the wall which include a bucket list and new year resolutions. 
the happiness planner

The planner itself is a hardback which I love it's accompanied with a spiral bound which makes it more practical and sturdier, it also makes it much easier to carry around. 
the happiness planner

Inside is littered with happiness and positive thinking quotes, the planner itself starts with a reflection of 2015, analysing aspects of your personality, dreams and goals. Each month is clearly marked, all starting with a plan for each month starting with personal goals and work goals, there is also a space to write about all the happy things you will do in that month. Each daily space includes: today I am excited about, exercises, main focus, meals, a schedules, a to do list, notes and place to write about the good things about that day and hopes for tomorrow. At the end of the month you have time to reflect on happy times, struggles, what you are thankful and more. 
the happiness planner

Overall the planner is perfect and although a tiny bit expensive it is well worth the money. I love looking through it, jotting things down and having the time to reflect on my day. Let me know what makes your ideal planner. 

Crafty Creatives - Chocolate at Home.

Chocolate is my favourite thing ever, not once have I ever tried to make my own chocolates adding in my own textures and flavours so I was excited to try the chocolate at home kit
crafty creatives chocolate at home

I do enjoy gettin my crafty creative box each month, however there are some crafts that I'm not interested in, some that take me a while to look at but this kit was done instantly due to my excitement. This was a quick and easy craft, the longest part was waiting for the chocolate to set. 

The kit was to make 2 x 200g chocolate bars, one rocky road and the other honeycomb and orange. 

The kit consisted off:
350g Belgium chocolate
15 mini marshmallows
7g biscuit pieces
3g popping candy
20g honeycomb pieces
20g orange fruit pieces
Reusable chocolate mold
Bags
Recipe card

crafty creatives chocolate at home

crafty creatives chocolate at home
crafty creatives chocolate at home
The instructions were easy to follow and I was impressed with the end result. I avoided the one with the marshmallows due to being vegetarian but both bars were quickly devoured by my family. 

I really love the idea of making your own chocolate so let me know your favourite flavours below. 

Crafty Creatives is a monthly subscription box that sends a new craft to your door each month (£15 + £2.95pp)  to view past boxes click here.

REVIEW - INSTANT WHITES, 7 DAY WHITENING SYSTEM*

Teeth, sometimes I feel like they are the bane of my life. Mine cause me number of problems (hardly attractive) but I yearn for pretty peal white teeth without the expense of getting them professional done. I have used numerous of products, toothpastes, specialised brushes and many others some made them slightly whiter but nothing to scream and shout about. 
REVIEW - INSTANT WHITES, 7 DAY WHITENING SYSTEM

The 7 day whitening system from instant whites (£29.99) is the latest product I have used. The product makes claims of seeing results in five minutes with teeth nine shades whiter in seven days. 
REVIEW - INSTANT WHITES, 7 DAY WHITENING SYSTEM

The packaging is really nice and sophisticated, with the swabs coming in a plastic case which could be easily re-used. The swabs are made of clear plastic so you can see the serum inside. 
REVIEW - INSTANT WHITES, 7 DAY WHITENING SYSTEM

The product is really simple and easy to use by pressing down on the end of the swab the serum squeezes up to the end.  You then use the swab to rub against your teeth for five minutes. The motion I used was if I were brushing my teeth, the serum has a nice minty falvour to it, afterwards you rinse you mouth out and it states not to consume any food or water for half an hour so I usually did mine before bed. A few of my swabs were broken so I couldn't use all the serum that was provided because it leaked out of the side which was a shame. 

My teeth will forever confuse me, one day they look whiter then the next day they have returned to a shade of pale yellow, some days they will look patchy, I have no idea why. At first I thought I was starting to see a difference, my teeth did appear whiter but by the time I had woken up in the morning they had returned to the colour they were before (if that makes sense.) This is another product that I would say was unsuccessful for me.

*This product was sent to be for reviewing purposes all thoughts and opinions are my own., 

A break up and the aftermath.

This post has been sat in my drafts for a long time, it's been edited and reedited over and over again. I have debated whether I should even post it now since a year has past since these events. Personally, I am not sure I can turn the thoughts in my head into words and truly express what I mean but I will give it ago. I've decided to finally write this post because breaking up with someone is something we all go through and we all have our own ways of coping and dealing with them. 

At the end of 2014 I made one of the toughest decisions of my life. I broke up with my boyfriend of five years and two months, he was my first love, my first boyfriend, the first person I had slept with, my first everything. I truly believed we would be with each other forever, the person I would buy my first home with, go travelling with and have lots of adventures with. But I was living in a bubble, a deluded fantasy because he didn't want the things I wanted, I wasn't happy but I spent most days convincing myself that things would change. They never did and even though I loved him, I had to end things and choose my own happiness for once in my life. 

It was not an easy break up, afterwards we went round in circles of seeing each other again, him telling me he could change over and over. Throughout the last year I have had teary phone calls from him, emails, face time and more. I really wanted to remain friends but sometimes that is easier said then done. It is hard to loose someone who was such a big part of your life, your best friend, someone who you truly care about. 

After we broke up, I thought things would change, that I would be happy. That ending my relationship would turn me into my old me again, the person I had lost along the way. Instead I lost all motivation, I slept a lot, I struggled to get myself out of bed in the morning. The things I enjoyed doing such as blogging and crafting, I took no interest in anymore. I had never felt so lonely coming home after work and having no one to kiss, no one to hug hello and then have to climb into my single bed at night and have no one to wrap myself around. I cried night after night, locked myself in my room and convinced those around me I was doing fine. It is okay to admit to yourself or others than you aren't okay, it can be hard trying to fake a smile while the inside of you is breaking apart, the hardest for me is that I kept myself to myself, I didn't let anyone in, didn't talk to anyone.

For the first time in a long time, I finally starting to feel like the old me, the happy me. He has a new girlfriend and at first I was resentful but that soon past, I know now that he has begun to heal and is happy and that is all I ever wanted for him. 

Below I have complied a list of 'tips' that may or may not help those in a similar situation.

Do cry. 
I'm a firm believer that crying is good for you, just to let all of your emotions to spill out. Although I did not do this, talking to other people about how you feel can be helpful as well. Even if you don't want to talk about it surround yourself with people who make you happy, people who can take your mind of things. 

Keep busy.
I think the hardest parts after a break up is those moment when you have nothing to do and your mind focuses on those things you don't want to think about. For me I had to keep busy whether that was going to work or to college, reading a book to cuddling my dog, sometimes it is the smallest things that can make a big difference. 

Invest in yourself.
I like the idea of working on myself as a person, investing in yourself can be anything from learning new skills, exercise or eating better, anything that makes you feel good about yourself. It can also be spoiling yourself from clothes or finally buying Netflix and relaxing in bed watching a film you've been wanting to see for ages. 

Focus on your dreams and goals.
Travel is a big thing for me, my main goal in life. Being single I could finally do that, a lot of people put their dreams and goals to the side for many reasons mine was my ex. I didn't hesitate in making my goals come true afterwards and booked a trip to America soon after and this year I'll be going away three times, something that would never have happened if I was still with my ex. 

Feel free to share any advice below.

TREK AMERICA FAQ

So now that I have finally reached the end of my Southern Sun trek america posts I thought I would do a FAQ. I will try and cover as much as possible about the trek and hopefully help you decide if this is something you would like to do in the future. If I haven't answered anything here feel free to ask away in the comments.

Travelling solo.
One thing most people can be nervous about is travelling solo, people always see me as this shy girl who might struggle to do things like this. However, the people who make comments like that are the ones who seem to not have the 'balls' to actually do something like this. Yes it is nerve-wrecking, stepping out of your comfort zone if it is the first time you ever done anything like this but I would say go solo! My reasons for this is for example if I had gone with a friend I might not have been as open bonding or talking to the rest of the group and clued myself to that friend for comfort. Everyone else is in the same boat of not knowing anyone (most of the time.) 

Money.
How much?
This will very between the tour you are doing, the first thing I did was calculate how much all the extra activities would cost even if I planned on doing them or not, after that I then added up the food kitty money which is ten dollars per day, the southern sun tour was 21 days, so $210 went straight in the kitty. The thing post people forget is that the at the end of the tour you tip your tour guide, a recommended $5 to $10 per day, a tip anywhere between $105 to $210. All of this for the southern sun tour came to around $2200 (£1500 approx.) Everyone will be different on how much they want to spend and the optional activities they want to do but I recommend doing it this way in case you change your mind on what you want to do and plus if you don't want to do something it is spending money. Once I worked out the cost, I decided I wanted to take £500 for spending money so $712.
Did you spend it all?
I mentioned the food kitty above, at the end of the tour whatever money is left in the food kitty is given back to you, in our case we all got back $40 which all of us were quite pleased about since we also used our food kitty to pay for hostels and lodging in some areas. By the end of the tour I came home with around $500, again this goes on peoples personal spending habits but for me I didn't spend as much on souvenirs, this money was also left over from optional activities.
Credit/Debit card or cash?
One thing I was worried about was carrying money on me, as well as running out of money. I got a credit card with money on in case of emergencies which thankfully I did not need. I decided to take $500 in cash with me and purchased a FAIRFX card a currency card that you pay money onto and converts it into dollars. If you do come home with money you can use the card to pay for items as normal or go to a cash machine to withdraw the leftover money.

Phones and WIFI.
So I was the idiot who thought they would get a travel phone, the phone was rubbish, wouldn't let me make phone calls and the internet took forever to load but I was so worried I would not be able to get in touch with people at home if I needed to. Turns out I was fine with just my iphone. The van has wifi, along with two charging points. The wifi has a limit to how much can be used per month, once it reaches that limit it cuts off so only 3/4 people should use it at the same time. Our wifi actually ended up breaking so we went the whole tour without it, the whole thing had to be replaced but this was a rare incident and it wasn't too bad being in the van without it. All campsites and hotels have plug sockets so you can charge your phone there, I usually did mine in the morning whilst getting ready. Out of all the campsites and hotels we stopped at I think around 3-4 didn't have wifi. 

Extra activities.
This was something that bugged me a little on the tour, after looking at the optional activities that were listed on the website for this particular tour only a few of these actually got mentioned by our tour guide. I'm not sure if the tour guys chooses the optional activities we can do or what. For example there is the option do to white water rafting, for those who do not want to do it have the chance to go hiking according to the website, whereas our guide told us if we didn't want to go white water rafting there was nothing else for us to do. Another example is that in Memphis our campground was next to Graceland, on the website there are numerous optional activities to do here, yet none of these can actually be done since it involves a drive into Memphis so you're stuck with Graceland, again I don't know if this to do with which tour guide you get. Ours wanted to look around Graceland himself. There was an optional activity to do a cooking class in New Orleans something someone was interested in doing but it was never mentioned. At the start of the trek we were given a list of optional activities available which again makes me things that the tour guide might pick and choose certain ones. 

Camp life.
What were the camps like?
All of the camps we went to were nice, each one of them was unique and different in their own way. We had ones just on a patch of grass, ones in the middle of a forest, up mountains it was fun arriving at each site and not knowing what to expect. The only thing that was a problem sometimes was the walk from where we had pitched out tents to the showers/toilets, there was nothing fun about needing the toilet in the middle of the night and having to walk five minutes to it in the freezing cold.
What are the facilities like?
My expectations of the facilities was not high, I was expecting dirty showers and toilets but they were the complete opposite. Everywhere was clean, all of the showers were hot, no problems at all. A few of the camps had place to wash your clothes, some even had kitchen facilities. 
Tents?
We had to stay in the same tent throughout because our guide wanted us to see if we could pick up on any problems with the tents or not. No one in our group did by the end of the tour. They are spacious, fitting two people as well as large suitcases. They were easy to put up and get down. The only thing I could fault was that when it rained there was some rain water that managed to seep through the tent.
Chores?
Yes you have chores! The group gets split up in to teams, we had two groups of four and one group of three. One group cooks, one group cleans the dishes and the other group cleans and loads the trailer, this changes daily so everyone has an equal share of  each job. Although when it came to loading the trailer everyone pretty much helped each other it was tricky at times getting everything to fit. 

The van. 
Was it comfy?
I wouldn't say the van was uncomfortable but it was sometimes hard to find a position to rest your head for example. Most of us took blankets and pillows into the van if we wanted to go to sleep etc. As for room this depends on your group size, we had 13 people including the guide in a van that fits 14 people so we always had extra room in the back, if there was 14 people it would have been slightly cramped.
How long are the drives?
Being someone who gets travel sick I was dreading the drives. The longest ones are between 7-10 hours but in all honestly they were never that bad and I didn't get travel sick once. Strange since a 30 minute bus drive into town can make me feel incredibly nauseous. 
Did you get bored?
Surprisingly no, most people tend to catch up on sleep but I stayed awake through most of the drives and never got bored. I loved looking out the window at the scenery etc. Music can be played, if you have an iPad you can watch films etc. 

What to pack. 
Sleeping bags?
When I was looking into this some people said wait until you are there to buy a sleeping bag, you'll save room in your suitcase etc. I took one with me and so did everyone else but one person. One of the first things we did was shop for pillows and this girl went to find a sleeping bag and couldn't find any, saying that though there were a few extra spares in the trailer so she used one of them. Afterwards most people left their sleeping bags to be donated to trek for future use to save space in their bags. If you do plan on taking one, check the season and the weather conditions you'll be staying. I took mine home with me since I had borrowed it of someone I would have left it otherwise. 
Clothes?
This really depends when you go but I would say the essentials are a rain jacket, a warm jumper, basic tops, shorts, comfy shoes and a few going out a clothes and for girls at least one pair of heels if you're going Vegas! I took clothes I wouldn't mind wearing over and over. If you forget something everything can be bought over there, a few of us picked up clothes from Walmart every time we went. 

Creepy crawlies.
I'm mentioning this because with camping you expect this, I don't mind bugs etc. but I can imagine a few people might. I can't say we really encountered loads of creepy crawlies, the only time we saw spiders but lots of them was at the campground where we went white water rafting. 

Safety.
Not once on this trek did I ever feel unsafe, not camping even when I slept in a tent by myself, got lost in the dark in Santa Fe trying to find the way back to the campsite, not when we went out at night etc. I felt at ease and secure. But I would say if you do go out at night make sure no one ever goes home alone, I know that is easier said then done when people have been drinking. 

I hope this helps, please leave comments below with any questions and I'll add them to the post. I honestly cannot recommend trekamerica enough. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and left me yearning for more. I've already booked my second trek for this year and plan on making it a yearly thing. 



TREK AMERICA - LAST DAY IN LA

I decided to have a day in LA before flying back home in the evening. I didn't make any plans on what to do or had any idea how far the hotel was from the main attractions. A few people made plans to go to the Warner Brother studio tour, since I didn't know what else to do I went along. 

One of the first things we did was go in the batman hanger filled with cars from the films including the new Batman VS Superman film. They also had a batman signal which you can turn on and off. 


It was fun driving around all the sets and hangers. You might recognise some of the houses and places from Pretty Little Liars, something I am yet to watch, but I now finally have Netflix so I may have to binge watch it. We also got to walk inside some of the houses, being an ex media student it was quite fascinating seeing TV shows and films use the space provided to film, how the same street can be converted into multiple locations and things like that. 

We got to walk through this massive building which had thousands and thousands of props all of which were neatly organised. Maybe you'll recognise a few of these props?

Next up was a Batman and Harry Potter museum, I looked around the Batman section first mainly because I was more excited about the Harry Potter section and wanted to spend more time in that part. Many of you may know that one of J.K. Rowlings conditions was that Harry Potter was to be filmed in the UK but it was still fascinating to get to see all of the props although it wouldn't be able to compete with the studio tour in London. I tried the sorting hat on and got sorted into Hufflepuff, I wanted Ravenclaw but turns out not once in the films did the hat sort anyone into Ravenclaw hence no voice recording. 

After the driving part of the tour was over we got dropped of at the another big building, that goes through production, how things come together and showing the final result. Being a fan of Tim Burton I loved the Corpse Bride figurines. Many of you who have seen LOTR and the Hobbit know that Peter Jackson used forced perspective to make things appear smaller or larger than they actually are, here they had this table that you could sit and can get a photo taken off showing how this works, I did it with Aiden once looking all small then ginormous although I still haven't got these photos! 

The best moment, being a fan of friends since I was a child I got to go to Central Perk and sit on one of the Friends sofa, big fangirl moment. I loved every second of it and at the end they have a coffee shop with the same name, slightly regretting not picking up a central perk mug. 

Afterwards since me and another girl were flying back tonight we headed back to the hotel by bus. We somehow managed to figure out what buses to catch, four in total and it was one of the most awkward bus journeys of my life, on one bus every just stared at us. I felt quite out of place. 

Let me know if you recognise any of the places from films and TV shows featured above! 

I had the most amazing time, and to any thinking off doing anything similar to this I would just say do it! You can see the rest of my posts here. 

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