Becoming by Laura Jane Williams | Book Review

Occasionally in life a book will come along that make you stop in your tracks. It will be a book that you absolutely can't bring yourself to put back on the nightstand even when your eyes become heavy, a book that makes you feel the entire spectrum of emotions and a book that you will be chatting about everywhere from the office to the pub long after you've reached that final page.

For me, as soon as I opened the lipstick pink cover of Laura Jane Williams Becoming, it was that book. A ballsy, amazingly crafted memoir, Becoming is for everyone that has ever felt lost, broken and full of self-doubt.


Reeling from an unexpected break-up from 'The One', Becoming details Lauras battle with herself as she embarks on a journey that takes her worldwide from Derby to the Big Apple via one-night stands, the pursuit of a writing career and second chances in the form of a year long vow of celebacy in a sleepy convent in Italy.

The book is heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure as Laura pieces herself back together again after the ultimate betrayal, learning to love herself without the valiadation of anyone else. It's sad, but it's also sassy and full of the humour that any reader of Laura's blog will know and love. For a first book, it's an absolute triumph.


As a writer, Laura is a huge inspiration to me. She has a way with words like no other and I honestly can't tell you how much this book has stuck with me. To lay your entire life, your entire story in it's rawest form onto a series of blank pages is something that to me, is nothing short of amazing and it's something that takes an incredible amount of strength, grace and, in all honesty, a whole lot of self-love.

To say that this book has inspired me would be an understatment, to the point where this week, I took Laura's advice,  showed myself a whole lot of love and finally had the balls to click publish on a blog post that I never thought I would share - my very own becoming in the form of my 20 year Cancerversary. For that and for this little book, i'll be forever grateful.






Cancerversary



2016 is a pretty big year for me. It's the year that marks 2 years since I made the big move up North. It's the year that will be my 8 year anniversary with my lovely mister. It's 3 whole years since I finished university the first time.

August of this year also marks what i'm calling my Cancerversary. My 20 year Cancerversary to be precise.

Now, whether you're a regular reader of this little blog of mine, a new reader or someone that happens to have stumbled across it while browsing the inter webs, this will almost certainly be news to you. This will also be news to many, many people in my life, which is why this topic is something that I've put off writing about publicly for many, many years. It's something that even as a writer by trade, I find incredibly hard to find the words for.

20 years ago this month, my parents and I made the ill fated walk up the stairs to the 12th floor of a hospital in Devon where we were told that my suspected 'lazy eye' was in fact something much more sinister. 5 year old me, lazy eye and all, had cancer.

My life since that point has been somewhat unique, and in the same way that my body is now formed of a patchwork of thin pink scars, my life has become a patchwork of life saving surgeries, treatments, hospital visits and anxiety, intertwined with some of the most hilarious and incredible moments that anyone could wish to experience- enough happenings to fit into the average lifetime, packed into 24 little years.

20 years later, I've never been given that Holy Grail diagnosis of being officially 'in remission' which essentially places me in a bit of a grey area. I'm not what you would describe as 'ill'. I live (for the most part) a completely normal life, and generally can go about my days as any 'normal' 24 year old might. By the same token, I'm also not what you could describe medically as completely in the clear. On the outside, aside from the physical scarring, most people that meet me have no idea that i'm still carrying around this strange little burden of mine which is why in a strange way, I compartmentalize my life. I place that part in a little mental box, taking it out only when I feel that it's necessary to discuss, which in all honesty, is barely ever.

I of all people know how terrifying cancer statistics can sound. Currently, 1 in 2 people born after 1960 in the UK will develop some form of cancer within their lifetime. While I may be one of the unlucky 50%  what i'm trying to say with this post is that a cancer diagnosis doesn't have to be the full stop in your life. In some cases, it can be the comma.

I am living, breathing (although slightly weazily at times) proof that you can live your life with and after that terrifying big C. While a diagnosis like this isn't something i'd wish on anyone, as bizarre and morbid as it may sound, I can't imagine having lived a life without cancer in it and dare I say it, while times have been, well, frankly, pretty bloody awful, I would have been a completely different person without it.

One day, i'll find the words to tell my story properly, gory details included, but for now, in my own quiet little way, i'll continue to kick cancers arse. Should that mythical remission ever become a reality, i'll have the party that I planned all those years ago and raise a gin and tonic bigger than my own head to everyone that's lost their fight and the amazing people that are still fighting.

Until then, as I get ready to turn 25 next month, I can think back to that little girl in the hospital bed, on Ward 34 of Bristol Children's Hospital, wired up to drips and drains after surgery number 1 and smile. Not least because despite having undergone a major operation, I was still adamant that I needed to be wearing something professing my dedication to the Spice Girls at all times, but because 20 years later, that sassy little girl has done all the things that she shouldn't, by all medical reasoning have been able to do.

So, on that note, however selfishly, here's to me. 20 years later and still smashing it. 





Make A Wish | ChloBo Jewellery

I am a self confessed hoarder of what our lovely French neighbours would call bibelots - small objects of beauty, curiosity or rarity. Little trinkets, picked up from various places over years and years that instantly take me back to a time or a place.

A lot of these bibelots take the form of beautiful jewellery pieces, each just as significant as the last and each with it's own meaning and it's own story.


So, of course, when I heard about British jewellery brand ChloBo, a gorgeous website brimming with exactly the kind of sparkly pieces of heaven that I covet, I knew that i'd be a big fan!

Based on the idea of global travel and the spirit of adventure, ChloBo design and hand craft a range of sterling silver bracelets, charms, necklaces, rings and earrings, all designed to be layered and stacked letting you create your own little story through your individual collection.


Being a big fan of stacking various bracelets, I had a browse through their bracelet range, finally falling for a beautifully simple, rose gold mini star design*. One of the main things that drew me to the ChloBo collection was the fact that each of the charms that adorn their pieces have a meaning - the star is known as a wish symbol and is believed to bring wishes to life and being a pretty wish driven kinda girl, I couldn't say no!

Made of rose gold plated 925 sterling silver, the quality of the bracelet really is amazing and what I really love is that there's nothing overly fussy about the design, meaning that it's something that you can slip on with absolutely any outfit, for any occasion and it looks gorgeous.


Since receiving my bracelet in all of it's beautiful pink packaging, it's rarely left my wrist and has fast become a firm favourite, sitting amazingly next to my beloved rose gold watch.

I've already been eyeing up a few more of the company's designs, for stacking purposes of course, but with so many individual charms to choose from, from dragonflies for courage, strength and happiness to feathers for freedom and new beginnings, they'd also make really lovely thoughtful gifts for friends... or, you know, for yourself, you've got to treat yourself after all!


* ChloBo very kindly gifted me this bracelet for the purposes of this post, but as always, all opinions remain entirely my own! 


The Perfect Summer Scent | Paul Smith Rose | Review


If there is one scent in the world that makes my heart skip a beat,  it's the smell of freshly cut roses. Now as we edge ever closer to sunnier days- we are in England after all, so it's sadly a slow old process - i've been on the hunt for the perfect summery every day perfume. 

I've been a huge fan of Paul Smith for years, mostly thanks to my lovely dad, and have many a happy memory of wishfully browsing through his gorgeous store tucked away in a cobbled lane behind Covent Garden. So when I spied this beautiful pastel pink bottle on a recent shopping trip, I was almost entirely sure that i'd love it.


I'm not sure that love at first sniff is a thing, but Paul Smith Rose Eau de Parfum certainly comes pretty close. Combining fresh violet, rose and green tea with magnolia and Turkish rose this is about as close to a true rose scent as it comes. Not in the slightest overbearing, it truly does smell incredible, with a fresh, clear scent that is as perfect for every day as it is for night time.

After trying a good few perfumes in my time, I can often find typically 'summery' perfumes to er more on the sickly sweet side rather than the fresh scent that I was after, with many reminding me of raiding the Duty Free perfume shop on the way home from family trips to France when I was younger in search of the sweetest scent I could find. If there even is such a thing, this little Paul Smith beauty is a properly sophisticated, grown up scent and frankly, I always find it to be a good sign when you can't stop sniffing yourself!


In terms of lasting power, I've found that you really don't need much and a couple of spritzes will last all day. Although it does mellow on the skin throughout the day, even after a full day at work, i'll still catch the scent. Price wise, I picked up the 100ml bottle for just £25.99 at the Fragrance Shop, which for a bottle of this size is a bit of a bargain!

As a side note, it's also beautifully packaged. In a gorgeous floral box (regular readers will know, i'm a sucker for a floral print!) the perfume bottle itself comes inside a little floral drawstring pouch which I thought was a pretty touch and would make it fab to give as a gift.


Overall, this has fast become my perfume of choice and I've found myself reaching for it over the likes of my signature scent Marc Jacobs Daisy and believe me, that is a very big step!








Sunny Picnics & Summer Boots


When the sunshine makes an appearance in England, you have three very clear options- beach, beer garden or a picnic in the park.

So, as the mercury hit 25 last weekend, we grabbed the blanket, packed the hamper with plenty of tasty treats and headed off, book in hand, in search of a shady tree, finding ourselves in the beautiful Tatton Park.


With a fair old trek to find the perfect spot (i'm selective about my picnics, what can I say?) I thought ahead and opted for my favourite new tan summer boots from Heavenly Soles at JD Williams.

Tan boots, summer dresses and a tan, bottled or otherwise, is a match made in sartorial heaven so on this sunniest of sunny days, I went for a classic combo- white broderie anglais, ankle boots and a hat bigger than my own face.


These little suede numbers are the perfect tan colour, with just enough of a heel to make them perfectly comfy while still making you feel put together with a tassle that brings just enough Coachella-style to make me forget my major Instagram FOMO of a few months ago.

My absolute favourite way to style them is with a pretty summer dress, but the amazing thing is, they go with absolutely everything. From cut off denim shorts to skinny jeans, I can see these new favourite boots of mine rarely leaving my feet through the Summer and beyond.


So after finding the perfect picnic spot with the perfect shade to sun ratio - don't worry, my boyfriend despairs at me too... I kicked off my boots, flicked open my book and did the one thing you can do when it's this hot - snacked on miniature sausages and worked on my tan!
Hat |  Jack Wills    Aviators | Ray Ban   Dress | Jack Wills (Similar HERE    Bag | Topshop    Boots | C/O Heavenly Soles at JD Williams*


Caprera Foods Sample Box | Review

Since moving up to Staffordshire, one thing that i've really put more of a focus on is trying to use as much locally sourced food as I possibly can and since packing in the Pot Noodles and cheese toasties of my student days, I've become a bit of a food snob!

We're incredibly lucky in the U.K that our little island is packed with incredible ingredients,artisan producers and some of the most unique culinary creations this side of the continent but if you're not lucky enough to have some of these suppliers on your doorstep, it's not always easy to get your hands on.



That is where a fab little company called Caprera comes in. Essentially working like the food equivalent of Not on the High Street, Caprera brings together a host of small, independent food producers from across the entire country, handpicking the great and good of British suppliers and putting them together in one place. Selling everything from small batch gin to charcuterie, the site gives you amazing, hand produced products at your fingertips, with all of the choice of your favourite farmers market, without having to get up off of the sofa! Better yet, it will all arrive, beautifully packed in the post just a couple of days later!

The company very kindly offered to send me a sample box* of some of their favourite products to try out and share with you and as soon as the package arrived, I couldn't wait to have a peek at what goodies were inside! I certainly wasn't disappointed!


Having grown up in the Westcountry, I've got a huge sweet tooth when it comes to proper fudge so I was thrilled to find a package of Bhut Jolokia Chilli Fudge from Bath based producers Meg's Cottage. The fudge was typically indulgent with that familiar sugary vanilla flavour that reminds me of home, but with a very subtle hint (and heat!) of chilli. It was something a little different and although a strange experience at first, it was actually really tasty!


Next up, a bottle of Ginger and Plum Cider from the Garden Cider Company. Again, as a Westcountry girl through and through, there's nothing that says Summer to me more than an ice cold glass of cider... what's that saying? You can take the girl out of Devon...? Anyway, i'm yet to taste this one, but as soon as the sun makes an appearance i'll be reaching for it! Ginger is one of my favourite flavours and fruit ciders are so refreshing so I can't wait to give it a go!


Since becoming a bit of a gym bunny of late, I've been trying to make a few healthy swaps in terms of what i'm eating so these Melon and Orange Crisps from Nims Fruit Crisps are absolutely perfect. Swapping the usual chewy dried fruit snacks for something all together crispier and full of flavour, these are really tasty and will be perfect for that mid afternoon slump at my desk when i'm craving something sweet.


Finally, I received these Sussex Puddle Thins from Horsham Gingerbread. We're big tea drinkers in my house and with tea, must come biscuits so these are absolutely perfect. Crisp, lemony and perfectly buttery, they're the perfect dunking biscuit and I can't see them hanging around too long in the biscuit tin that's for sure!

You can try Caprera for yourself at www.caprera.com.