Saturday, 30 May 2015

10 Reasons To... love Taylor Swift

Simply put, I think Taylor Swift is the greatest person ever and these are my reasons.

1. She is such a nice person- Seriously, celebrity or not, Taylor is just so incomprehensibly nice. To list just a few ways she shows this: she visits children and fans in hospital to bring them gifts and sing with them, she comments on people's Instagram's to tell them "they are adorable" or "you look fantastic" and gives solid life advice on bullies and breakups (Image 1), she gave a random girl $90 so she could go somewhere nice on her 17th birthday, she gave a fan $1000 to help pay for college tuition, she flew to Ohio to attend a fans bridal shower (Image 2), and she sent 33 fans gifts and large packages of christmas presents just because she could.



2. The '1989' Secret Sessions- Before the release of her latest album '1989' she decided to invite fans to her many houses to listen to the album prior to its general release. she called these the 'Secret Sessions' and gathered fans from across the world on social media sites, such as Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. The fans would arrive at the house to be greeted by Taylor, who baked cookies for everyone, and then have a dance party to the album. This wasn't just for a few fans either, she held 5 Secret Sessions in each of her homes in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, Rhode Island and London and invited 89 fans for each. Meaning 445 fans in total.

3. 'Taylurking'- A special term used by T-Swift herself to describe the way she stalks her fans online. In her spare time, Taylor creeps on social media to see what her fans are up to, this may seem strange to a Swift fandom outsider, but to Swifties, it is an incredible life-affirmining moment. I feel Urban Dictionary captured the meaning best:

4. Her Besties in the Business- Swift and her girl gang are an inspiration to all. She has the greatest circle of friends that she has lunch, bakes cookies, goes hiking, goes shopping, attends award shows and concerts, has parties, and goes on holiday with. Of course the phenomenal 'Bad Blood' music video showed off some of her best buddies: Karlie Kloss, Selena Gomez, Cara Delevingne, Lena Dunham, Hayley Williams, Lily Aldridge, Ellie Goulding, Gigi Hadid, Zendaya, Martha Hunt, Hailee Steinfield, Serayah, Cindy Crawford, Ellen Pompeo and Mariska Hargitay. But some other of her best friends include: Lorde, Sarah Hyland, Jaime King, Jennifer Lawrence, Ingrid Michaelson, the Haim sisters (Este, Danielle and Alana), Emma Stone, Gracie Gold, Tavi Gevinson, and of course Ed Sheeran (Although he isn't a girl, he is an honorary member of the girl gang because he's an original bestie). Everyone should aspire to her level of #SquadGoals.

 5. Her international musical takeover- I'm just going to list things now because there is SO MUCH.
  • Taylor is the youngest songwriter to be hired by Sony/ATV Music publishing house.
  • Her lead single "Love Story" released in 2008 became the 2nd best selling country artist of all time. 
  • Taylor became the youngest sole writer and singer of a no.1 country song through her single "Our Song". 
  • Her album "Fearless" is the most awarded album in the history of country music. The album is certified six times platinum.
  • She is the first country singer to win an MTV Video Music Award, in 2009.
  • Taylor is the youngest artist in history to win a Grammy Award for Album of the year in 2010, when she was 20 years old.
  • In 2012 she achieved the most simultaneous U.S. Hot 100 Hits by a Female Artist.
  • In 2013, Swift was honoured with the CMA Pinnacle Award for her achievements as a country music performer and for her "positive impact" on country music.
  • She has written/co-written every song from each one of her albums.
  • Taylor is the top selling digital artist in history. 
Some statistics from her most recent album, '1989':
  • "Bad Blood" is her fourth Hot 100 No.1, following "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (three weeks at No.1 in 2012), "Shake It Off" (four, 2014) and "Blank Space" (seven, 2014-15).
  • As "Bad Blood" follows "Shake it Off" and "Blank Space" as the third No.1 from Swift's blockbuster album 1989, the set is the first to have three Hot 100 toppers since Adele's 21 in 2011-12: "Rolling in the Deep," "Someone Like You" and "Set Fire to the Rain." 
  • Swift not only tallies her fourth Hot 100 No.1, but also her 18th top 10. "Bad Blood" is her fourth from 1989.
  • The 53-1 jump for "Bad Blood" on the Hot 100 is the greatest to the top since Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" hurtled 72-1 in 2012, following its first week of sales. 
  • "Bad Blood" broke Vevo's 24-hour worldwide viewing record, with 20.1 million global views in its first day of release.
  • In 2015, Taylor became the first female solo artist to have three albums sell one million copies in the first week (The previous holder of this achievement was herself with two albums selling over one million copies in the first week - ‘Speak Now’ and ‘Red’).
  • She is the first artist since the Beatles to spend six or more weeks at number one in the US with three consecutive albums.
I kinda made a table just showing some of the awards she has won.
American Music Awards
Grammy Awards
People’s Choice Awards
Billboard Music Awards
Teen Choice Awards
Brit Awards

6. How she deals with the media- Since her massive hit 'Blank Space', which poked fun at how she is portrayed in the press, Taylor has started just straight up mocking the intrusive nature of the media. Her friendships with other stars get constantly questioned, and as well as dating rumours circulating with every guy she hangs out with, the media try to turn her female friends against her. However Swift was having none of this and recently took a stand against claims that her and Australian singer Lorde were fighting: “Media, when you say ‘Lorde & Taylor are fighting’-by fighting do you mean ‘FaceTiming constantly from US to NZ and LOLing at you’? Thnx bye.” Lorde echoed Taylor, retweeting her message, and writing, “sisters are doin’ it for themselves @taylorswift13.” 

Taylor also got caught up in a hacking scandal on Twitter where some of her private messages were leaked as well as the threat of her 'Nudes.' But as always Swift kept up appearances and simply dealt with the situation when she issued a badass reply to the claims on Twitter:

In addition Taylor has called the media out on being sexist, saying in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, “There was a bit of a reputation for having a lot of boy-bashing songs,” she said. “Which is a sexist way of saying heartbreak songs.” In another interview with Australian Radio station 2DayFM, Swift explained "you’re going to have people who are going to say, “Oh she just writes songs about her ex-boyfriends.” Frankly, that’s a very sexist angle to take. Nobody says that about Ed Sheeran. Nobody says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love-life, and no one raises a red flag there." Once again... Taylor SLAYS.

7. She is a Feminist- Taylor's 'Bad Blood' music video is evidence enough that she is a feminist due to the fact she has cast more females in one music video than some film directors have cast in their whole career. But in her own words, she said “As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all. Becoming friends with Lena – without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for – has made me realise that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”  

And of course the famous moment at the 2015 Grammy Awards when Entertainment Tonight host Nancy O'Dell commented that Taylor was "going to walk away with more than a trophy tonight, I think, lots of men," For a moment there was only an awkward silence from Taylor, who simply glared at her interviewer, for her extremely judgemental sexist comment. 

Until she completely shut down the reporter and coldly replied “I not going to walk home with any men tonight” she then continued on to say, “I’m going to hang out with my friends, and then go home to the cats.” BOOM.

8. Her dance moves- Well, for starters, HAVE YOU SEEN SHAKE IT OFF??? The entire video perfectly displays her dancing in all of its beautiful awkward glory. 

It has become common-place now to see Taylor dance awkwardly at every available opportunity, principally at award shows. If anything, it is expected of her, and those seated around her. But I don't think anyone is complaining, especially not Taylor. She even said herself, during an appearance on NBC's Late Night Thursday, how she "used to get really nervous at awards shows because, seemingly, they're a huge pressure cooker. And everybody seems to be sitting there trying to look more unaffected by being at this awards show than the next person next to them." Swift went on to say, "that can have an affect on you, and so you're in the front row and you're sitting there like, 'Maybe I should sit here like this.' A couple years ago I just decided, 'No. This is the coolest concert you could ever go to. This is like all these incredible acts playing their biggest songs and I get to be front row and I'm going to dance during this because I feel like it—and not because it looks cool, because it doesn't." Either way, I think its great.

9. She is actually hilarious- Despite being so self-deprecating, Taylor is often very intentionally funny. One example is that time she wore a "No its becky" t-shirt. A Tumblr user created a hilarious meme about a girl named Becky who allegedly died after a party because she "snorted marijuana one night." It was clear the user was joking but the picture was not of "Becky" but of a young Taylor Swift. When another Tumblr user commented, "Pretty sure that's Taylor Swift," the original poster replied, "No its becky." In reply, Swift herself made and wore a "No its becky" shirt in public soon after. Excellent move and a wonderful tribute to dead Becky. 

Another time back in 2009 when she wrote her own monologue for 'Saturday Night Live' she poked fun at the recent events in her life and made everyone in the audience and behind the scenes laugh. More recently on Jimmy Fallon's 'EW' sketch in 'The Tonight Show' Taylor created an extremely amusing persona of 'Natalie' who dons a messy hair, big glasses and even bigger braces that really transform her into awkward teen that is in love with 'Pegacorns' and accidentally burnt herself whilst using a hot glue gun to make popsicle stick castles. (True story... She even has a scar).

And of course Taylor's consistently funny Twitter feed.

Even her pal Ed Sheeran thinks she is funny, stating once in an interview that "she's got the most English sense of humor out of any American I've ever met... She's just dry, she has a very dry sense of humour and Americans are usually quite kind of like slapstick comedy, that's like the big thing but she's very English." Well, if Ed can't convince you she's funny, i don't know what will?

10. She does what she wants- last but not least, you should love Taylor Swift because on every step to her incredible level of success, she has done exactly what she wanted. She has never let others do things for her and every decision made in her career and her life is her own, and I think that is truly inspirational to everyone everywhere. 'Time' magazine even spoke of "The Power of Taylor Swift" and how her rise to significance was all her own work. She is the living embodiment of the saying "be so good that can't ignore you." Even Steven Tyler of Aerosmith commented on Taylor, saying: "she's just so good she can do whatever she wants." Taylor never doubted her newest album, '1989's' success, she explains: "With 1989, I was really putting my neck on the line, because I was the one saying I need to change directions musically. And my label and management were the ones saying “Are you sure, are you positive? This is risky.” And I was the one who had to come back every time and say, “No, this is what we’re doing.” When I put forth an album cover that didn’t have half my face on it, and tried to convince my label that this was the best way to sell an album, you know, I got some kind of interesting side-glance looks. But I knew that this was the best cover to represent this record, because I wanted there to be an air of mystery. When I wanted to call the album 1989, people on the team questioned that. Every single element of this album has been called into question, and I’ve had to say “No, this is how we’re doing it.” And the fact that we came out and did the kind of numbers we did in the first week—you have no idea how relieved I was, because it was all on me if this didn’t work." Now, ever since she proved everyone wrong, her transformation from country to pop has been the best decision SHE has ever made and it just proves that as Queen of everything Taylor Swift can do what she wants. 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

10 Ways To... buy clothes for every season

I've always found trying to buy clothes for more than one season difficult, but if you know what to buy and what to wear it with, you're half way there! I've put together 10 essentials for your annual wardrobe which work no matter what the weather. 

1. Leggings- You seriously cannot go wrong with leggings, whatever the weather, they are a life saver... As long as they aren't see-through! They work best with long t-shirts or jumpers, and can be layered up or down depending on the weather. I buy them from primark for around £3 per pair.

2. Jeans- I would recommend light ones because they work better if it's hot out and they keep the outfit bright and colourful rather than just dark. In summer you can roll them up and pair with a t-shirt and for winter mix with jumpers or a coat and boots. These jeans are from Forever 21 for £7.99.

3. T-shirts- These are the best all season clothes, they mix with everything and of course they can be really cheap! Thy tend to be around £5 to £12 depending on where you shop. Wear them under jumpers in winter and just on their own in summer. 

4. Skirts- If you want something a bit more interesting in your wardrobe then skirts are perfect! If it's hot just pair with a t-shirt and if it's chilly out, wear tights and  layer up on jumpers. Mine is from H&M online for £6. 

5. Shorts- Basically the same concept as a skirt. 

6. Tights- They are multi-purpose. Under trousers in winter or with skirts/shorts on a cold summer day. Usually around £3-£4 for a pack of them in any supermarket. 

7. Cardigans- you can pick up cardigans for like £3.50 at primark and they are as good as any other. They can be used as layers or just to cover your arms in summer. 

8. Jumpers- I find zip-up hoodies are the best because you can layer them up in winter or leave them unzipped in summer. They can be anywhere from £6 to £20 but I find they are normally the same quality-wise, so the cheaper the better really. Buy one in a neutral colour so they mix with everything. 

9. Coats- A long coat to throw over anything when it gets cold is what you need to look for here. Go for standard  colours so it doesn't clash. Parka's are a good shout because they are fashionable, and are available in most places for a good price. I bought mine last year from Matalan for £35. 

10. Shoes- Trainers like vans or converse are good durable shoes for any season and I find that you can buy them new online (Ebay or Amazon) for almost £10 less than in shops. But if you want something more, go for boots like these ones from H&M (£24.99) for winter. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

10 Ways To... find sources

Ok so recently I've discovered that finding sources for school coursework, uni work or pretty much anything is impossible. Trapesing though books until your eyes hurt isn't the only way to find what you need. Using my extremely minimal experience in this I've tried to compile a list ways to help those who are struggling their way through mountainous piles of work. So, in no particular order, here 10 ways to find sources:

1. The library - I know, you've been told this by ten thousand people already, but it will help. You HAVE to use it right though. Walking in, and scanning the squat with no clue what you are looking for will serve NO purpose. The library will be organised into subjects of interests, so use this to your advantage and go in knowing what you want. Find the subject and the specific interest before you go diving into books head first. Or better yet, ask the Librarian where your field of interest can be found. Once you have found a selection, look at the contents and index to narrow your search, and see if the books are actually relevant or if the titles are WILDLY misleading. For example I was reading what I thought was the 'History of London' when in actuality it was based on migrating pigeon population. Ok, so now you have your books (possibly about 2-5 depending on how broad your search is), DO NOT read each and every page of these books, you will either die of boredom or old age. Scan the contents again and find chapters that are appropriate, or even better, if they have a references page, find the relevant ones and you have your sources, BOOM. (Obviously check they are legit and make sure they reference page numbers). Failing that, look at the index/ glossary and that should give you somewhere to start.

2. Talk to friends - First I would check they are reliable and/or have a similar aim/topic to you. They can recommend books, or if you are doing the same thing, share sources. Of course, you will still have to find some of your own sources otherwise your work will be dismissed for plagiarism.

3. Teachers/Lectures - Chances are they will know a lot more than you... That's why they are stood at the front. However you can't just directly ask for help, because they WILL say no. But instead ask for reading recommendations for your topic "just to get you started" or "to add a different perspective." Big words are bound to help you here.

4. Famous people's speeches - By famous, i don't mean Beyonće... unless that's what you're talking about? Anyway, what i mean is prominent historical figures, world leaders or pioneers in the area of work you are researching. You can use the internet to find these, just type in the name and what you're researching, even wikipedia is good because it has references at the bottom of the page that you can use to find where facts and sources actually come from.

5. Use others work - Like siblings, people who have done similar, pieces of work that the school/uni have kept as examples or find mark schemes for your work and the exemplar sources. Don't just copy it though, because again, plagiarism with screw you over. Use some of the sources that you can't find yourself and maybe get an idea of some of the books they've used. Just make sure you explain everything you've taken, by yourself.

6. University research websites - Regardless of whether you are in uni or not, the research they do there is great for finding sources. If you need detailed facts, historical reports and journals this is definitely where you should look. Just type in what you're looking for and uni websites are usually the first ones that come up.

7. Just Google quotes - Seriously if you've found a quote but have no idea where its from, just Google it and something will come up.
8. Google books - An extremely helpful Google resource which is EXCELLENT. Type in anything and a book will come up. If you find a book and want something specific, type it into the search box and it will highlight your search whenever it appears in the book. Sometimes school textbooks will come up but don't discount these because they tend to cite their sources quite well. 

9. Google Scholar - I'm not such a big fan of this one but it's great if you're not just looking for books. Court cases, laws, journals and stuff like that is where scholar really excels. It also have a citation importing feature... I don't know what that is but it's one of their main advertising points and it sounds kinda cool.

10. TV Documentaries - There is always something useful on TV. Lots of journalists, researchers and reporters make documentaries which are especially informative and beneficial to watch, because they are PACKED with great information.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Holiday- Waterside park, Paignton, Cornwall

9th August- 14th August 

The Lodge         


 Day 1
Ok so today we had a nice morning in the pool, the sun was out and it was surprisingly warm for a day that was forecast a hurricane. When we got bored with swimming we came back to the lodge for lunch, and then decided to walk to Goodrington to make the most of the sun. We had a really cute walk along the sea wall and there was even a small local music festival which was really enjoyable with a nice ice cream on the seafront.

He's clearly never seen Titanic.

Day 2

Today we took a trip to Kent’s Cavern in Torquay; I was expecting a slightly complacent tour guide (because they always get bitchy with you when you ask them questions) and an extremely limited look at the caves because, well, you’re entering rock forms that could literally fall and crush you at any second. But to my surprise we saw some amazing parts of the caves and our tour guide was genuinely hilarious and managed to entertain both the children and adults with information about the caves and some well thought out cave puns.

Outside the caves there was a woodland trail, and in the interest of getting our money/ Tesco vouchers worth we decided to walk around it, despite the imminent danger of rain. Along the way there was one of those stocks things where you put your face and hands through the gaps and pretend you don’t realise you look like an idiot when everyone laughs at you… of course my dad took this as his calling and of course I had to take pictures.

Day 3

BEACH!!! Even though we are only a 5 minute walk to the nearest beach from the lodge, we decided to travel a little further afield to Bigbury-on-sea which is where we used to go to as kids. So half an hour later we got there but ended up just sat in the car for another 20 minutes, hiding from the rain. After it had cleared up just enough for us to be able to get out of the car without it looking like we had all just been swimming, we hauled all of our crap down the steps and set up our stuff by some rocks. Undeterred by the rain we had a couple of games of beach football, which went well, other than the fact I managed to splash wet sand EVERYWHERE. When everyone had finished their lunch and the rain had died down again, Karen and I walked up to the top of the cliff next to us. When the tide is out and the causeway disappears it becomes an island, but luckily for us the tide was still on its way out so there was no risk of becoming stranded. As soon as we got back to everyone else though, the heavens opened and it rained non-stop for half an hour, we all had to huddle up into the pop-up beach tent and wait for it to pass. However it was pretty funny because we spent most of our time trying to figure out who farted. The rain eventually settled and we all ran back to the car, where I attempted to change my jeans on the back seat… it was successful but I elbowed Jordi in the face.

 Day 4
Today we went to the BIG SHEEP!!! It was the best day of the holiday so far! I love it there so much because everything is exactly the same as it was when I went there when I was younger. Me, Dad and Jordi went to the outdoor laser tag area where we got ready for 30 minutes of running around emphatically trying to both hide from everyone and shoot everyone at the same time. After we picked up the biggest and heaviest guns we could find, we all sprinted off to find the best ‘sniper spot’. We clearly had no game plan because we all ran off in different directions and ended up alone and vulnerable to attack. So after about 5 minutes I had already lost my 10 lives. Luckily we paid for unlimited lives so I went to get more. I then returned to my hiding spot, which was a helicopter strategically placed on a huge rock right in the middle of the combat area… inconspicuous, I thought. Once I realised this wasn’t the best place to hide, I went to find allies! Upon my journey I somehow acquired the most annoying enemy (he looked about 7 years old) who made it his mission to make me constantly run out of lives before I could get anywhere. I would go back to the main entrance to get more lives, then turn around to run back, and before I’d even moved 5 paces he’d shoot me and I’d run out of lives again. This continued for about 10 minutes until I stopped and waited for him to get bored and run off again. I finally made my way back into the combat zone and found Jordi and Dad, so I could actually feel like I accomplished something, but after 5 minutes of feeling invincible, our 30 minutes were up… typical.
Later on we queued up for the swan paddle boats and started eating our lunch. As luck would have it, it started raining, but fortunately it wasn’t that heavy so we waited it out and by the time we got on our swan boats it was brightening up again! Jordi and I somehow managed to turn our peddle boat into a dodgem car, chasing Dad and Karen around the lake island while Martha laughed in hysterics sat in-between them in the boat. We eventually settled down and returned the boats to the dock, and spend the rest of the afternoon watching the famous Big Sheep ‘Sheep Show’ and spectating the sheep race, for which we won a prize for betting for the winner!
Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures while we were there because I was too busy learning about sheep.
However, later on that day we went out to Appledore to get fish and chips for tea and I took some pictures of the food advertising van and our surroundings, because it was so pretty.

Day 5

We cycled down to Brixham today, it’s a choice I regret because I didn’t realise how steep the hills were and the pain was excruciating. However it was fun when we got there, because we each bought a massive 3 scoop ice cream which was literally piled to the sky. It was delicious. We stayed in Brixham until it got dark because there was a firework show that evening.  Once it had started we all sat on the dock watching them, and I can honestly say it was one of the best firework displays I’ve ever seen. The bright colours reflected off of the water and it looked amazing! It was comparable to London at New Year’s Eve. Plus the moon looked really cool.

 Day 6
We set off early this morning to get to where we were going for when it opened. As we have a national trust membership we thought “why not use it while we can?” So on our last day we went to Colton Fishacre, which is a huge 1920/30s mansion and its surrounding gardens, which stretch for miles. It was absolutely beautiful, so I think pictures are the best way to describe it.