My Travel Playlist

The offer of travelling is not something that I will ever, ever refuse. The world and the people in it totally fascinates me, and personally I’d love to see as much of it as I realistically can over my life. I love how people across the world can live so immensely differently to how I do, and I find it incredible to be able to experience their culture for even only a short time. Travelling can offer so much, but there’s something that these trips wouldn’t be the same without. Music.

The day after tomorrow, I’m heading up to London with my friends to fly down to Nairobi, where we’re taking on Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of the Meningitis Research Foundation – and of course checking out a safari and chilling on the beaches of Zanzibar. I’ve waited for this trip for almost a year now, and I’m sure I speak for my friends too when I say that there honestly aren’t words for how exciting it is. It’ll be an incredible trip to end summer with before we throw ourselves back into our final year of law school – and an incredible trip deserves an incredible playlist. This is mine.

  • Something Beautiful – Needtobreathe
  • Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams
  • Liv It Up (Teenage Wasteland) – Alexander Ludwig
  • Counting Stars – OneRepublic
  • Jet Lag – Simple Plan
  • A Design For Life – Manic Street Preachers
  • Baba O’Riley – The Who
  • Wherever You Will Go – The Calling
  • This’ll Be My Year – Train
  • Sunshine – Twista
  • Won’t Stop – OneRepublic
  • Dakota – Stereophonics
  • State Of Grace – Taylor Swift
  • Holding On – Simple Plan
  • She Doesn’t Mind – Sean Paul
  • Raise Your Glass – Pink
  • Many The Miles – Sara Bareilles
  • Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
  • Cheers (Drink To That) – Rihanna
  • Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Somewhere With You – Kenny Chesney
  • Good Old Days – Pink
  • California – Phantom Planet
  • Heal Over – KT Tunstall
  • Bonfire Heart – James Blunt
  • Live While We’re Young – One Direction
  • Summer Love – One Direction
  • I’ll Follow You – Jon McLaughlin
  • It’s My Life – No Doubt
  • Valley Of Tomorrow – Needtobreathe
  • Someday Soon – KT Tunstall
  • You And Me – Lifehouse
  • If Only I – Jon McLaughlin
  • Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine
  • Where I Sleep – Emeli Sande
  • Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root (duh!)
  • The City – Ed Sheeran
  • Homeless – Ed Sheeran
  • Home – Daughtry
  • Wake Me Up – Avicii
  • Light Up The Sky – Christina Aguilera
  • From This Valley – The Civil Wars
  • Beautiful Day – U2
  • Ramble On – Anastacia
  • Life As We Know It – Allstar Weekend
  • No Roots – Amy MacDonald

Boom. There we have it. Played solidly it lasts about 3.8 hours which is really only half the length of my first flight from London to Dubai, but I still have a day to add and I’m sure it will grow. That said, I’m pretty confident that this is the best travel playlist I’ve made to date. Kilimanjaro, let’s have ya!

My Rock

No, I’m not talking about a person or other being who is always there for me and whatnot. I’m talking about a literal rock. A big piece of granite that’s sitting on top of a big hill behind my house. My rock.

Something I firmly believe is that everybody has to have a place that they can call theirs. Somewhere that they can go to relax, get away from people – a ‘happy place’, if you will. It doesn’t matter who you are, sometimes life gets on top of you and your own space is absolutely necessary. For me, this is my rock.

When I’m not at University, I’m fortunate enough to live on the edge of Dartmoor. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s essentially a 954 square-kilometre expanse of hills, grass, rocks, rivers, and sheep. My house is less than a 2-minute walk from a large hill known locally as the ‘Beacon’, which for people who live around here marks the beginning of the moor, separating society from what lies beyond. On the very top of this hill is my rock.

I’d like to point out at this time that I refer to is as “my rock” because in my entire twenty years of existence, I have never seen anybody else on it unless I have taken them there. Which is exactly the beauty of it.

Picture this; you’ve reached the top of the hill. It’s a hot day and you’re out of breath and a little sweaty, but that doesn’t matter – you know when you get to the tor there will be the all-familiar breeze to cool you down. You now walk a short distance up a small incline through long grass, with nothing but the occasional dragonfly buzzing past you, and before you appears a mini-mountain of rocks. Naturally, you want to climb them because… well… you can. So you do. And you keep climbing until you’ve reached the very top one. You’re the highest point for miles around, and there’s nothing breaking the silence other than the soft breeze occasionally rustling the grass. Perfection.

The rock is my happy place for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the views are astounding. In one direction, Dartmoor continues on for as far as the eye can see with crystal rivers, trees and wild horses. Turn to face a different way, and you’re faced with civilization. Roads winding around countless fields, tiny cars and buses all headed somewhere. People are getting on with their lives down below, but I don’t have to be. Not on my rock. Look behind, and the dark turquoise sea lies beyond the rugged cliffs. Each view is as breathtaking as the last. But that’s not all. I love that it’s so high up. Just like anybody else, I have plenty of shit that goes on at home. With every step up that hill, I’m climbing away from it. And when I get to my rock – when I’m up there – what’s going on below me doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even factor into my mind. Up on my rock, I am totally and completely free. Time doesn’t exist. I don’t have to pretend to be anything or anyone to please other people. ‘Problem’ isn’t even a word and I can do whatever I want to do. It’s outstanding.

Everybody needs a place like that, and I’m glad that I’ve found somewhere that I love so much to be mine. When you’re surrounded by people all day and your problems seem insurmountable, you need to be able to do something that is surmountable. And for me, that thing is hiking that hill, climbing that rock, and enjoying total and absolute freedom from the world below.

Headlights & Tail-Lights

I’m fascinated by people. We’re so interesting, each and every one of us. Not necessarily in a set kind of way – some people can spend hours talking and never lose their audience, whilst others open their mouth and their words are boring, completely ignored after a few seconds. Some people wear clothes that others might consider strange, and some wear the same thing day after day. Yes, we’re interesting – but not at face value. Let me explain.

Pretend you’re driving down a motorway. There are cars in front of you, lorries speeding down the other side of the road, and that asshole in his silver BMW undertaking you because driving an expensive car still isn’t quite enough to fully inflate his damaged ego. Imagine as each one of those cars disappears into the distance, and how little we make of the fact we may never see them again. For some of those cars, we might only see them for a fleeting second as they speed past us at 70mph and around a corner. We have no idea where they might be going, who’s inside them, or where they’ve been. Each one of those cars has a different story. This is that fascinates me.

I think it’s just the fact that each one of the drivers of these cars have their own separate lives. They have friends, family, houses, flats, jobs, hobbies, everything. They have favourite foods and colours they hate, music they can’t help but sing along to in the car and dreams they’ve never shared with anybody. Every single person has a complete life that’s individual to anybody else on the road at that time. They might be driving to a wedding, or a funeral, or just to the supermarket to buy eggs. They might be headed to their airport to start the trip of a lifetime, or driving to hospital after receiving a phone call that made their gut sink. Nobody knows, and nobody ever will. I just find the whole thing amazing.

CHARITY PUB QUIZ, RAFFLE AND AUCTION! The Sportsmans Inn, 24/7/13 @ 8pm

If you find yourself in Ivybridge on Wednesday, July 24 at 8pm, head down to The Sportsmans Inn and have a go at the pub quiz, take your chances with a raffle and bid on some amazing prizes all in the name of the Meningitis Research Foundation! All proceeds of the night go to the charity, which helps detection, prevention and research of the disease. Only £2 to enter the quiz!

Be more dog? Go on then.

For those of you who live in the United Kingdom and watch TV on a fairly regular basis, I’m sure you’ll have seen the new O2 mobile advert featuring their new “be more dog” campaign. If you’ve managed to avoid it, I feel that I should take this chance to in fact congratulate you. I’ve seen it on youtube. On TV. On ads at railway stations and even on the screens attached to the treadmills at the gym. I know it almost word-for-word. As annoying as I find it, it actually has a point.

Not so long ago, somebody linked me to a post on a website that gives you sixteen small steps to happiness. It’s not that I was sad or particularly depressed, but I like these kinds of articles so I went ahead and clicked on it. I’m going to bring to your attention number eleven.

11. push yourself to go for a walk. take your headphones, go to the beach and walk. smile at strangers walking the other way and be surprised how many smile back. bring your dog and observe the dog’s behaviour. realise you can learn from your dog.

I read this, and couldn’t help but think how true it was. I smiled and went on with my day, but this O2 advert got me thinking about it again. People really can learn some valuable life lessons from their dogs. And now I’m writing a blog entry about it.

The way dogs view the world is nothing short of amazing. Take my dog, Logan, for example. This is a photo of me and him. Before you make any smart-ass comments, I’m on the left.

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He is quite possible the happiest dog in the world. Everything is incredible to this dog – he wakes up in the morning, and he can’t wait to see everybody. He often runs into my room, jumps onto my bed and licks my face until I give in and get up to give him attention. If he smells something exciting, it makes his day. God forbid anybody mentions going on a walk, at which point he acts as if he’s just snorted a line of cocaine. When he sees water, it’s like he’s never seen it before. Snow is exciting, and meeting new people is the be-all and end-all of life. All of this is fine, but not the thing I admire most about these animals. They will always forgive you, and will always be as loyal as anything. And most people – myself included – don’t have that trait.

I’m not saying that people should run and excitedly jump into streams as they pass them, nor am I suggesting we go and sniff the asses of our neighbours and friends. That would be a little weird, and you’d probably be removed from Tesco. But perhaps we shouldn’t take things for their face value. Maybe next time we see someone, we should give them a smile whether we know them or not. Maybe we should do things not because we were told to, but because we’re alive, and we can. More than anything else, maybe we should forgive people. I’m twenty, and unfortunately the bitchy, back-stabbing teenage drama phase of my life seems far from over. Every one of my friends has, at one point, complained about another one of my friends without them knowing. They’ve done things they were asked not to, they’ve screwed each other over, and huge situations have been made of it. Right now in fact, people which I won’t name but will refer to as ‘A’ and ‘B’ are in a ridiculously difficult situation because one of them began seeing the other’s ex without talking it over first. Something trivial that we’ll all forget about in a few months time (hopefully, because choosing sides is driving me crazy), but A overreacted and did something in revenge to annoy B. B then reacted, and so on so forth. It’s ridiculous. In this situation, a dog would perhaps be annoyed with you for a day, but as soon as they woke up the next day, they’d be running into your room and jumping on your bed licking your face. Humans aren’t like that. I’m guilty myself of not forgiving people. I’ve recently had a fight with one of my friends that I’ve known for years, and twice I apologised to be the bigger person, twice they showed me why I shouldn’t have done so. And I’m over trying to fix things. Even thinking about it annoys me, because it’s hard to let these things go. That’s the same for everyone. But imagine if we were like dogs, and imagine if we could move past these things and continue friendships and whatnot. Things would probably be much easier, much less drama-filled than they are right now.

Sure, occasionally everybody needs to take a break from certain friends and relationships. Sometimes they reform and grow stronger than before, sometimes people drift apart for good. But if we viewed things differently – whether it’s a friendship that’s falling apart, or stumbling upon that super exciting, life-making stream when you’re walking your dog – maybe everything would be easier.

So good on you, O2. Well done for telling people to be more dog. Because despite the fact that they chew up your shoes, shit in your garden and shoot you that soul-destroying look when you don’t share your slice of toast with them… dogs have kind of got the whole life philosophy thing sorted. Woof woof.

 

We’ve crossed the line; but did it ever exist?

At times, I almost feel sorry for celebrities. Okay, fair enough most of them have got millions of dollars and beach houses in Malibu and great clothes and worldwide fame (the list continues). But even with all that, there’s one thing they don’t have. Privacy.

I can be quite a private person. I love my friends and family, sure. But every now and then I need time to myself, or I go insane. I don’t share the intimate details of my private life with everybody, and there are some things I’d rather keep under wraps than have the whole world knowing. I’m sure that you – whoever you are – feel the same. But celebrities? This often isn’t an option for them.

At this point, people will begin to argue with me. “It’s what they give up when they get famous!” they’ll shout, or explain that “they knew they had it coming and did it anyway.” This could well be true. But the extent to which the public feel a public figure’s private life is their business is starting to worry me just a little. In this age of Hello! Magazine and Celebrity Big Brother, people can’t get enough. And maybe that’s not such a good thing.

I’ll admit that if I see a magazine by the checkout with bold red writing telling me that X has cheated on Y and got married to Z’s half brother A who is shagging B (and the story goes on) I might show a little bit of interest. I mean, I’m from Devon. Nothing like that happens here, so it’s interesting when it happens to other people. But there’s a limit.

Take example A – North West. No, I’m not talking about the direction, nor am I talking about the airline. I do of course mean Kim and Kanye’s baby daughter. The name of this child was kept secret for a long, long time. I don’t follow the Kardashians at all – for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what a single one of them is famous for – but even I had names being thrown at me in every direction. And all I could really think was two things. Firstly, who even cares? It’s just a name (though I’m going to take this opportunity to say that North West could be the coolest name ever). And secondly, why is it anybody’s business? It’s not! The parents of that baby may well have lived their lives in the spotlight, but maybe North won’t want to. And she shouldn’t have to. Unfortunately, that’s not a decision she’ll probably ever be able to make. When it comes to a child, the public really should have no right to involve themselves in that kind of business. Besides, let’s face it, that poor kid’s going to have enough on her plate growing up in that family. No pressure, right?

Secondly, the more recent example B – Cory Monteith. The ‘Glee‘ star passed away two days ago in his Vancouver hotel room. There you go – that one sentence. That is all any member of the public needs to know. But apparently I’m wrong. I read an article today from which I learned that the star’s autopsy will be sped up – and I’m quoting this directly from that article – “due to the intense public interest”. I mean, really. Are they serious? That information shouldn’t be sped up for the public. If it were to be sped up for anything, it should be for his family to know. His friends. Not some 14 year old ‘gleeks’ half way around the world that will in all honesty forget about it in a fortnight. I honestly find this disturbing.

This year, I studied media law as one of my legal modules at University. One of the first things we learned was that there was a difference between what the public was interested in, and what was in public interest. They are two very different things. Here’s an example – the public might be interested in that topless photo of Kate Middleton that surfaced a while ago. However, the threat of international nuclear warfare unless everybody in the UK stops buying stamps for a week would be in the public interest. These two scenarios do not cross over at any point. Mr Monteith’s health and circumstances surrounding his death may be interesting to the public, but those facts are not in the public interest and, as far as I’m concerned, have no obligation to be splashed across newspapers, magazines and websites.

What people seem to miss out on is that celebrities are people. People with a lot of money, dream careers and nice cars, but people none the less. It is not the right of the rest of the world to know that John Travolta’s son died, how Heath Ledger passed away or that Pierce Brosnan’s wife is no longer with us. The name of Beyonce’s next baby or even what kind of mileage Taylor Swift gets out of her car – it’s not our concern. And the fact that some people so strongly believe it is… it’s not a good thing.

It’s getting hot in here

I spent a little while trying to figure out what to blog about today. I’ve been neglecting my blog lately and figured I should try and update it a little more often, but it’s not always easy to think about what to write about. As if by magic, somebody on TV said “write what you know”. Which is fine, except the only thing I know right now is heat.

Lots and lots of heat.

One of the annoying things about living in the United Kingdom is that summer is generally one or two days a year where it hits a high of 26 degrees and everyone rushes to the beach and barbecues everything. Every year it happens, and every year everybody complains. This year has been different. We are currently in what must be about the sixth or seventh day of a heatwave. I’m sure to people who live on the continent or Africa or anywhere else would look at the 32 degrees it’s been today and laugh. But it’s killing me. I picked up a job over summer down here, and inside even with the air conditioning on, it was about 25 degrees. That’s not what you want when you’re working around hot coffee machines in what is essentially an oversized conservatory. Eughh.

At least we’re going to the beach tomorrow finally. I’m hoping that it won’t be insanely busy seeing as it’s a school day and people are at work – especially seeing as if you time it wrong, there’s about six inches of sand between the cliff and the water on this particular beach.

This perhaps hasn’t been the most interesting entry and will, I imagine, be one I look back on and think “did I really waste 5 minutes of my life writing this crap?” but the heat is pissing me off and writing about it distracted me from the fact that it’s midnight and I’m still sweating for a few minutes.

The end. Boom. Finito. Whatever.