Animal Crossing Pocket Camp

While 2017 was a questionable year, one of the best things it brought was the release of Animal Crossing Pocket Camp in November. I am now obsessed.

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The game

Animal Crossing has existed in the world of gaming since 2001, first appearing on the Nintendo 64. It has since then had 7 games released across the multiple gaming devices. Pocket Camp is the latest instalment of the Animal Crossing world and is also the first to be used on a mobile device.

The transition

Adorable. There are no other words for this game except that: ADORABLE.

It follows the general aspect of Animal Crossing in that you play as a little digital person who spends their time building the perfect community. It is an RPG world building type game, where you can create and build whatever type of society that you please: For example in New Leaf, you are the new Mayor of a small town. In Pocket Camp, you run a campsite. Throughout the game, your fellow inhabitants are anthropomorphic animals, from elephants to hamsters and all other manner of animals in between. You carry out activities for the animals from planting certain plants to building certain features and adding to the overall success of your chosen area.

In Pocket Camp you travel about the different areas and fulfil tasks for the visiting animals. In return, they give you certain supplies that can then be used to craft features and furniture for your camp site. Each time you complete a task for an animal you develop a better relationship with them which in turn helps level you up, and as you level up you can craft and build a bigger variety of items.

Interior design

On of the best things about Animal Crossing is the ability to create whatever environment you wish: In each game you are given you’re own little house which you can decorate however you like, and even the town itself can be moulded to look however you wish. In Pocket Camp, you are almost spoilt for decorating room as you have the main area of your campsite, where visiting animals can request certain items or pieces of furniture, as well as having your own personal camper-van which you can decorate as you own private residence. The game allows you to constantly change the campsite having different themes: You can build a tree house for the animals that love all thing ‘cute’ or a skating half pipe for those who love ‘cool’ things.

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Challenges

Animal Crossing is a game that also uses real time in it’s game play: 24 hours in game is 24 hours out of it. The game also changes with the seasons allowing you to build little snowmen in the winter or celebrate Halloween in the fall. In the main games the seasons also change which animals or fruit you can collect throughout the year meaning that you have to play for at least a solid year in order to catch the hundreds of different creatures that the game has on offer.

Pocket Camp also uses this to release timed events during the seasons. Currently as I write this, the game is running a Crystal Event, where each time you complete an animal’s task you are rewarded with crystal shards, which in turn can be used to craft items that are only available for a limited time. Over the Christmas period you could collect candy canes to craft cosy festive items and in the New Year you could watch a firework display. The upside to this is that you stay engaged with the game but the downside is that every item that is available for the limited event is also so darn cute that you become glued to your phone in order to get them all before the time runs out which is a whole new level of stress that only those who love collecting can really understand.

The Calm of Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing has always been a very calming game to play. Since there are no specific ‘quests’ that need to be completed, you can simply play the game at whatever pace suits you. The music is also calming as there is no real urgency for the game: It doesn’t matter if you want to play for 5 minutes or 5 years, the game ticks along as it needs to and you can spend your time with whatever activity you want to.

Pocket Camp is no different. As there are only 4 visiting areas, there are only 4 animals that have requests for you at any one time. Each animal has 3 requests to complete before they are satisfied, and depending on how much farming you’ve done before hand (catching fish or bugs or collecting fruit from trees and seashells off the beach) it will depend on how long it takes you to complete each task. At most, it can take about a half hour to finish all of the tasks (if that!) and I find this to be just the right amount of time to unwind: I can play it on my lunch break while I enjoy some food or even before bed instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media and making myself sad.

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Outcome

This game is just as adorable as the others. The game is utterly charming, with each animal having their own style and wit. It is varied enough that you don’t get bored but also slow enough that you don’t feel any need to rush through the game. As there are no levels to complete you also don’t have to hit certain save points or checkpoints as the game just saves as you go on and each time you complete a task or change location. It is fun and calming and just utterly serene in every way.

Have any of you guys played this game? Let me know your thoughts below!

T xx

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Vintage vs Old

It has long been a trope that if something is vintage then it automatically worth more: Clothing, toys, jewels, furniture. You name it and the chances are that the longer it has been in circulation that the more value it has accrued over that time. Yet these items may not necessarily be ‘old’ items. More importantly, when does something stop being seen as ‘old’ and starts being seen as ‘vintage’?

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Terminology

‘Vintage’ and ‘old’ are subjective terms: What one person would consider old another person doesn’t mean that it is actually an old item. One clear example of this is in toys: We as adults would look at a toy that has been in circulation for a year and deem it still relative, whereas a child may look at that toy and deem it old because it is not the newest version available to them. The same can also be said for fashion: Your mom may look at her teenage clothing from the 70’s and 80’s equipped with shoulder pads and spikes and see them as an old remnant of her past, whereas a high end thrift store in London would view those clothes as ‘vintage’ time pieces and be able to charge twice their value to sell it on.

The terminology also varies on what the item on question is: If a car is more than 20 years old, it is considered a ‘classic’ and is only known as ‘vintage’ if it was made between 1919 and 1930. ‘Vintage’ originally came from wine making, where ‘vintage’ wines were made from grapes that were grown and harvested within the same year and so are a representation of a very specific year of harvest.

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‘Vintage’ has now also become a sign of quality and is therefore desirable, whereas ‘old’ suggests that the item is simply no longer fit for use and outdated. In reality, while those shoes you have from last year may be technically ‘old’ they still work perfectly well (provided that they have no hole sin the bottom), whereas that vintage car which was made in the 1980’s may break down at every slight curve in the road. See…subjective.

The implications

Since the terminology is subjective, it allows retailers and designers to state what they believe their items should be labelled as. Etsy, for example, requires their users to only name a handmade item as ‘vintage’ if it is at least 20 years old. In the fashion industry, ‘vintage’ is used to describe an item that is easily identifiable to the time in which it was made. Going back to shoulder pads, despite your own personal opinion on whether they are wise fashion choices or not, jackets that contained them would most likely be considered vintage because they are iconic of 80s style.

It can therefore be difficult to distinguish between what is really vintage and what is simply ‘vintage style’, as items that imitate clothing of a particular era are not equal to those items that were originally made in an era. Clothing needs to be of  a particular quality for it to be considered vintage too as it needs to be able to stand the test of time: if that ‘vintage’ shirt starts to fade or the buttons slowly gape after a few washes then it’s probably not ‘real vintage’ but rather an ‘old’ item of clothing.

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Outcome?

The problem with labels is that they are all subjective and can, and most definitely will, change over time as new definitions are determined. If you are truly looking for something vintage it may be best looking for something that you deem as vintage: High quality items from a specific time period that brings that vintage joy into your lives, be it through an old jacket found at your local charity shop to a designer dressing table made in the 1950s. Just because something is labelled ‘vintage’, doesn’t mean it is, and just because something is labelled ‘old’, doesn’t mean it can’t still bring you joy.

Never Alone review

Created by Upper One Games, this is a puzzle-platform game centred around the stories of Alaskan Natives. It follows the story of a young girl and her companion fox on her adventure to discover the source of terrible blizzards that are ravaging her village.

The stories

Based on the  traditional Iñupiaq tale “Kunuuksaayuka”, you play as a Inuit girl named Nuna. She, along with her arctic fox companion, set out to find what is causing terrible blizzards that are destroying her village. As you play, different stories and tales from Alaskan natives weave themselves in the story and become sub-levels in their own right. In one chapter, you encounter the Sky People which originate from the story of how the aurora borealis came about: Children who got too close to the lights were plucked from the earth and now dance in the sky to lure more children to their beautiful but dark world. The stories are blended together pretty seamlessly and provide a good overview of all of the different stories told by the Inuit people.

The game is also very intimate: whenever one of the playable characters dies, the other character still alive curls up into a ball and cries (I am not joking) and the camera slowly fades to black while also giving you a close up of their devastated faces. It is like the game is punishing you for being so rash with your decisions, and trust me…after the second or third time this happens you really will take your time to think about the different choices available.

The game play

The game follows the same sort of style as Limbo and Little Nightmares, mostly focused around solving puzzles while running from the elements and animals around you. Being set in Alaska, the biggest enemy you face is the environment: The water will freeze you, the winds can sweep you away and the sub-zero temperatures can leave you stranded if you do not think fast enough. Throughout the game you have to switch between playing as Nuna and as the fox, as each has their own set abilities: Nuna can lift and pull items, throw them if needed and use the one weapon you are given, while the fox can jump to hard to reach places and also interact with the spirit guides that you use throughout the game. This also means the game can be played co-op with one player controlling each character, but as a single player game it also adds another degree of thought as you also need to think fast about which character you need to use at any given time and for each individual situation.

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As you play, you also unlock ‘cultural insights’ which are interviews and stories with Alaskan natives that provide more background information as to what you are about to play through. For me, this was really interesting, as you got to learn about a new culture while also seeing how the game developers used these stories to inspire different aspects throughout the game. For example, the only weapon you are given is not actually used as a weapon: The Bola is made up of a collection of weights that are tied onto the end of an intertwining cord that is spun around and thrown at a given target. In the game, you use this mostly to break ice blocks that are in your way or distract enemies while you escape. This lack of violence also relates to the Alaskan ideology that all of nature is balanced and that every action that challenges this can have very severe consequences.

Over all?

Definitely worth a play! If you want to play a game with a steady pace and an interesting story, then this is the one for you. The puzzle-platform nature of the game also means that there is no close combat interaction, so if you aren’t very keen on that type of play (I for one can not aim anything to save my life!) this game can give you adrenaline as well as a brain teaser while you play. It is beautifully made, with gorgeous images and a story just complex enough to keep you interested without being overwhelmingly complicated. The added notes about the Alaskan culture also makes the story more enjoyable, as you almost get a glimpse into how this culture lives on a daily basis.

Planning a story

NaNoWriMo awakened something within me, and that something is that I now can not stop writing: On my drive to work I am creating new characters, when I talk to me colleagues I start thinking about which conversations can spark a new subplot, and when I’m lying in bed trying to go to sleep I am thinking of different plot devices to push my characters and my story forward.

In doing so, I have (or at least i like to think that I have) created an easy to follow and easy to organise plan. I thought I’d share this with you all because I would have loved to have had some sort of guide when I first started writing stories fully.

Start with the basics

When I get an idea that I think I can run with, I usually start with three main areas:

  • The World: where is it set? What are the main locations? What are the main characteristics of each place?
  • The Characters: Who, what, when, where and why?
    • WHO are they? What is their name, age, personality. What makes them who they are and what events in their life have shaped them.
    • WHERE are they in relation to the World?
    • WHAT are they? If you’re writing a fantasy story, what race are they? Are they necessarily human? You could even be writing from the point of view of an animal or hybrid or even a plant.
    • WHEN do they become important to the story? If you are working with one main character, you may try to plan when they start to develop their character arc. If you have lots of sub-characters, you may have to plan when each one starts to interact with the main character or when they become important to the story.
    • WHY are they important? What is it about them that makes them necessary for your story to progress. What do they add to a scene or the overall story that no other character can add.
  • The main story: How does your story begin and how does it end? What events would you like to happen throughout the story? I find it is best to start as vague as possible – main character meets new character who changes something. Figure out how you can get the story to flow through your main milestones and then see how your characters can aid in that progress.

Image result for writing gifsPusheen loves to plan

Write it down

Being a visual learner, I like to be able to see all of my notes in front of me, and when creating a story I like to be able to add notes as when needed. Most times, I will do this in a notebook that I will section off into the three main parts. Then when I get a random idea pop into my head during the day I can write it down in the section. I can also look back through my ideas and reevaluate some of them: As I begin to develop my characters more I may see that some of the milestones I had thought of no longer seem relevant to my characters journey and therefore need to be rethought or changed around a bit.

If you are not a visual learner, find a way of keeping notes that works for you: You may want to look at keeping audio notes through the use of a Dictaphone or audio messages to yourself. It could be helpful to draw story boards for certain scenes or events to help you work out how you want it to play out in writing. However it is, keeping a trail will help you keep on top of your ideas and help you organise your story.

Start with setting the scene

Despite having so many ideas you may find that when you actually sit down to start writing you don’t know how to begin. When this happens to me (which is almost always) I find it helps to describe the setting first. What is the weather like? Does it have a particular smell to it? What colour is everything? It can be as basic or as detailed as you like and can always be completely removed in the editing stage of your writing. Once you’ve written a few sentences, you will most likely find that the scene starts to play out on it’s own and you won’t even be thinking about what is going down on paper.

Image result for writing gifsBilbo knew how to start a story…

Imagine you are watching the events before you

As with the above, if you find a scene is lacking something to help it along, I find a good trick to pretend that I am witnessing the events playing out in front of me: Am I stood in the office where the main character is having a brutal throw-down with their boss, or am I watching an old film about an ancient priest summoning evil spirits. When you can see it in your head it is easier to write down what is happening. Again, this can be as detailed as you like. It may be as simple as one character walking towards another person, but you can then build up to describe the gait of each character and the look of intent in each pair of eyes.

Breathe.

At the end of the day, writing should be fun. It should be the one thing you do that is solely and exclusively for you. When you’re first writing, don’t focus on what other readers may think of the scene, or what critics may say about your sentence structure. Write because you have a story to tell that only you can tell. If you don’t feel like writing one day, or the words just won’t seem to come out, then just walk away from it for a moment: Go and make yourself a cup of tea, do some household chores, watch a movie, hang out with friends and family and completely forget about the story. The words will come back to you when they’re ready to and you will be back on track.

Have you guys got any tips for writing? Let me know in the comments and share the lovely tips and tricks that you have found work wonders.

T xxx

 

CatQuest review

Overview

CatQuest is a action role-playing game created by The Gentlebros. This little indie game sees you play as a cat, who has to defeat the Dragon Lords in order to save his sister from an evil kidnapper. The game has everything that a role play does: Character personalisation, equipment upgrades, real time combat and easy to follow quests and side quests.

Characters

You play as the other wise nameless Hero Cat. You are accompanied by Spirry, a little floating cat spirit that acts as your guide and your feline Jiminy Cricket as you go through the game. You encounter a pretty wide array of NPCs, all of which have their own side quests that you can complete to varying degrees of difficulty to gain extra experience, money and sometimes even weapons or specialist armor and abilities. All of them are cat based in some way, from a macho cat sailor to a little pirate cat blacksmith. Even the enemies have punny names and cat like features…

Story

The story starts with your cat sister being kidnapped and it is revealed that you (or should I say, your Hero Cat character) is descended from a bloodline of cats known as Dragon Slayers. They are, quite simply, cats who are very good at slaying dragons, of which there are a lot of in the Kingdom of Felingard. Yes, all of the places have cat-related names: Purr Cave, Feurry Cave…and so on and so forth.

To defeat the many different foes you have your main melee attack and magic. As you progress through the game and go up through the leveling system, you unlock different spells and different weapon upgrades. The weapon upgrades are usually hidden in locked chests which are in turn kept guarded in the many different caves and dungeons that you come across. The spells are learnt as you complete quests, and you can upgrade these by paying with the large amounts of gold that you are rewarded from completed the many quests and side quests available to you.

Controls

The attacking is pretty basic: You can just button smash the melee and this will usually do the trick. Different magic spells can be assigned to different buttons on your control pad and these can be used with the melee to help defeat foes. Some foes are weaker to magic spells, in some cases only needing one or two hits with a spell to be defeated. Other foes are weaker to melee. Magic is based on a bar that lowers when you use magic and is replenished by landing melee attacks. It is quite basic fighting, but it is good enough to keep the fights just long enough to need some thought and strategy but not so long that you lose interest in defeating that said foe.

Image result for cat quest gifsA little snapshot of how the magic and melee work together.

Final thoughts

The game is adorable. It is just the right about of action to keep you engaged, but fast paced enough that it doesn’t feel like a hard grind to the end. It is also very witty: At one point the creators also make a little cameo as anthropomorphic cats and help you along with a few weapon upgrades and new side quests. The game is charming, funny and the perfect way to unwind. While it is not a long game (I’d say no more than 10 hours if you want to complete every single side quest with every single weapon) it is heaps of fun and is worth a play just to see the Hero take a cat nap.

 

What I learnt from NaNoWriMo

NanoWriMo has finally ended!!

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Alright so it actually ended about a week ago, but I have spent that week catching up on sleep and just getting used to the fact that I actually managed to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I WON! As proud as I am that I managed to do such a feat, it also taught me a few valuable lessons.

1. Writing is not an easy job

Writing every day is, as I always thought, a relatively easy task. I did what every good Planner would have done and I had a set time line of how I wanted my story to go. But no matter how much I planned, sometimes the words just would not come. For the most part, I was just writing whatever came into my head and normally this had no story, no relevance and absolutely no sense to it whatsoever. At first, this made me mad: Why was this so hard when I knew exactly what I wanted to write about? Why could I suddenly not string words together? But after a few days of this, I just decided not to bother: Clearly the words will not come today so why force it. And then suddenly, as if out of spite, the words would not stop coming. I would be sat at work and the slightest phrase would appear in an email or in a conversation and I would suddenly be hit with inspiration.

Point is, when you stop trying to force the words, they come to you in a wave that can not be tamed, and all you can do is roll with whatever is being thrown at you throughout your wiring day

2. Planning is usually pointless

As mentioned before, sometimes the words will only come to you when you don’t want them to. The same can be said about the characters. In many cases, as much as I wanted to take my characters on one journey, as I wrote and the story began to unfold, my characters started to take me in a different direction. Again, at first I fought this, as I knew what I wanted to write about and I knew what I wanted my story to say. But as I wrote, my characters were constantly fighting me to take a different path and, finally, I let them. What followed was usually completely different to what I had planned, but it also allowed me to follow my characters naturally progression in the story and made them even more real than beforehand. For example, what had started as an innocent meeting between two of my characters, soon turned into a powerful love story that began to question where my story had originally planned.

My main message here is that when writing, let your characters take charge sometimes. Just let the words flow and see where your characters take you. As your characters begin to develop into true and real identities, they will undoubtedly behave in ways that you hadn’t thought was possible and you hadn’t ever considered. When this happens, follow them. Even if you go back and delete everything that you had written, you have explored a new avenue and learnt more about who your characters are and how they can help the story along in a new manner.

3. It doesn’t matter if you finish, just as long as you start

On the days when the story was disheveled and the characters were misbehaving and everything was going wrong, it started to become more of a chore to finish. As much as I wanted to ‘win’ NaNo, I also didn’t want to finish on something that was not true to what I had wanted to write. So I let go. I let the story go as it pleased, let me characters do as they wished, and most of the time I would end up with about 3000 words in one day about a scene I had never had any intention of writing. And with NaNo, it doesn’t matter if you do not get to 50,000 words and it doesn’t really matter if what you write is complete and utter drivel, but as long as you get words onto paper then you at least have a chance. And whether it is 5 words or 500 words, you are still in a better position than you were when you first started. And sometimes, that’s all that matters in that day.

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Must haves for NaNoWriMo

With NaNoWriMo starting on Wednesday, I thought I would compile a list of Must Have Items for NaNoWriMo. As this is my first attempt, I have done a lot of research as to how people make it through each day, progressing their story and, hopefully, winning NaNoWriMo.

1. Routine

The main thing people seem to swear by is a dedicated Writing Time. Once November 1st hits, allocate a certain amount of time everyday to writing and try and make it the same everyday. For me, I will most likely do all of my writing once I get home…perhaps while I wait for dinner to cook…from 7-9ish. My mornings are mine to get gym out of the way, watch my YouTube, catch up on Netflix, do online shopping. But my evenings will be for writing and developing my story as the month progresses on. Try and set aside a dedicated writing time with no distractions from your story.

2. Set yourself challenges

Most people set themselves little personal challenges. These can be as simple as certain word counts at certain points in the calendar: 10,000 every week, 25,000 by the 15th November, you get the idea. Many of the social groups and forums also recommended a ‘Double Up Day’ where you try to double your word count in one day of writing. These little challenges will help you stay motivated, as you are not always doing the same old writing day every day for a month. It can also give you a new sense of accomplishment, knowing that you take your writing to a new level.

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3. Rewards

No matter how dedicated you are to your story, as with any project there needs to be some sort of reward scheme in place for you to continue through. It can be hard to work solidly on one thing for a long amount of time with no break, and soon you’ll view it as nothing more than a chore that you have to do rather than a project you want to do. Maybe every time you reach a target (see above) you allow yourself to watch one episode of your favourite TV show, or a YouTube video. If you’ve managed to do a Double Up Day, then you are allowed the following day off…or at least only have to write half of your daily target.

4. Back up devices

No matter how you are writing your story (while most people do it on a computer, but some are choosing to do it by hand) make you have a back up system in place. If using a computer BACK YOUR STUFF UP. Even if you just email yourself a copy of the document at the end of everyday just n case, have something in place so you have more than one copy of your work. If you are writing by hand, maybe take pictures every time you finish a page of your notebook so you know where you have gotten in your story in case you lose the notebook or spill a drink on it. It is best to be too careful than to be left, after 30,000 of your story, with nothing to show for it thanks to a computer glitch or a spilt drink across your notebook.

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5. Pen and paper

If you are working with a computer, never underestimate the use of pen and paper. If you are a Pantser, making it up as you go along and just seeing where the story takes you, it can be helpful to just have a list on the go of places that you’ve created, characters that have appeared, names you like the sound of that you may want to incorporate, main plot points that have happened or you would like to happen. This is almost a midway point between a Pantser and a Planner, which allows you to let your imagination to run wild and dictate your story, while sill allowing you to keep a record of the key points just in case you need to refer back.

Any other tips you have? Let me know in the comments…I need all the help i can get!!

T xx

NaNoWriMo 2017 and Preptober

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a non-profit organisation that wants to encourage people to write a novel. You have the entire month of November to write 50,000 words…so I thought I’d give it a try.

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I have always loved writing but I will admit that it has been quite a while since I wrote anything fiction. The closest I get to writing these days is this blog, and let’s be fair I’ve been pretty sporadic with my posts lately. I think it’s because work is always so busy and life itself is just so hectic it can sometimes be hard to motivate yourself to do these little creative projects. So I have gone into NaNoWriMo as a complete newbie. Fresh meat. Or…fresh Tofu as I should say!

When it comes to writing for NaNoWriMo there are two types of people: Pantsers and Planners. Planners are those writers who have an entire scene by scene set up for the start of November, who know exactly how their story is going to go and how it is going to end. Pantsers on the other hand are writers who have nothing but a few ideas and their imagination to guide them once November 1st hits. Now I have always been a bit of a Pantser when it comes to my writing: I would write because I felt inspired in that moment to write a story, and can not remember the last time I actually FINISHED a story. So I have decided to become a Planner for the first time in forever…I have a notebook and everything! I even went so far as to colour code my story by main character perspective. How shmancy am I?!

The main reason I wanted to write about this is to let you guys know why I may be a bit quiet for a while in November. But also, and probably most importantly, I wanted to let all of you who read this know about NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t cost anything and if nothing else it should be a load of fun to just write a novel. Set yourself the challenge and finish that novel you always thought about writing. I have also seen just how social it makes people: Every area has it’s own ‘territory’ of writers and they run Write Ins and Plan Days throughout November, where writers of all backgrounds and walks of life can get together and just talk about writing…get some feedback, share ideas and just enjoy being creative with like-minded people…just for fun!

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While there are no real prizes at the end of the month, you will leave the process with at least two things: A brand new novel (or at least the start of a new one) and maybe even a new found love for writing in general. In this day and age, when there is so much bad stuff in the news and in our minds, I want to use NaNoWriMo as a way of showing everyone that there can always be joy in a good book…especially one that your wrote yourself and could even lead to inspiring others to write their own too!

So what do you say? See you at a Write In soon! ❤

T xx

The little things in life

Every day at work, at around 12.30pm, one of the council street cleaners will do her round outside of my office where I currently work. She pushes her cart, sweeps up old cigarette butts and crisp packets, before taking a 5 minute breather on the park bench. At around 12.45pm, the man I can only assume is her husband comes strolling out from one of the side streets with the tiniest and most excited pug puppy I have ever seen. The pug pulls his owner over to the lady, who meets him with almost equal excitement, and they have a little walk around the green patch of scenery close by, sit down, and have a little lunch break together.

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I have watched them enough times while I am waiting for my documents to print or for certain files to finish copying, that I have their routine down. I am very much a people watcher – leave me at a little coffee shop with a massive mug of tea, my book and a nice window seat and I could happily spend my day there watching the many passers by go about their business. It is one of my little pleasures in life, and one I wish I could do more. Plus, I genuinely believe that a proper cup of tea can cure all ailments…so that always helps!

The last couple of months have been pretty stressful for me for a whole array of reasons and while I sat watching the little pug bounce happily around his owners’ boots, I began wondering if it would ever be possible to be as happy as that little doggo. I feel that this is something that has been left off of the curriculum at schools: How to be happy. More importantly, how to be happy wherever you may be in life. Yes I may be 25, and as far as society is concerned I am a fully functioning adult that should be more than capable of looking after myself. In reality, I am not…or at least I don’t feel like an adult. I still live at home with my parents, I’m still on their car insurance and I have only very recently finished my education and managed to get my foot onto the career ladder of my choice. All the while I have my peers – or worse, the younger generation – working in high flying jobs for better pay, with their own mortgages and living the life that I at 16 thought I should be living at 25.

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However, every now and again I am reminded that life is short: With all the horrible things going on in this world from terrorist attacks, mass shootings and the threat of nuclear war, I am reminded that time is fleeting. My first 25 years have flown by and I already feel like I wasted so much of it worrying about things that did not even deserve a minute of my attention. Who cares if my hair is getting frizzy? Why do I care if I look tired or have bags under my eyes? Last night I stayed up until midnight (for the first time in months may I add) and watched a movie with my Dad, eating biscuits and candy and laughing about the events of Geordie Shore. Was I tired the next day? Ashamedly so. Did I regret my choice? Hell no. The little things in life, as cliche as it sounds, really will become the most important things.

So this is my message to you, lovely few of you who will read this, or stumble across it late at night by accident: Enjoy the little things. So what if your thighs are a little bit thick?! Revel in the fact that your legs are strong enough to carry you wherever you need to go. So what if your hair is super untame and won’t style right? When you’re 80 with thinning grey hair you will long for the wild locks of your youth. Ignore the negativity that other people will try to force on you because at the end of the day, the only person you need to impress is you. You are the only person you will have to live with every second of every day for the rest of your life, so you might as well learn how to love the little things that make you special.

Let me know what makes you guys grateful. What little everyday things make your day infinitely better?

Should Photoshop be illegal?

In recent years there has been a lot of controversy around the use of digital enhancement software: The main issue of debate tends to focus on the fashion industry, as it is argued that magazines and editorial shoots gives young people an unrealistic and, in many cases, dangerous expectation of how their bodies should look. But it does raise an important question, as to when – and if ever – digital enhancement is necessary.

Why use it?

For most people in the creative industries, photo-manipulation is a basic tool in every trade. You can use it to make photos stand out more by making certain colours pop while other colours are muted; It allows you to ‘revamp’ images over the years to keep up with the changing industries; it also allows you to perfect every image that you take by allowing you to remove blemishes, straighten out lines, level the contrast and so on. The possibilities really are rather limitless as you can essentially make any image you have into a completely new and maybe even completely different picture. Furthermore, photo-manipulation is not an easy task: Besides from needing a very steady hand and a keen eye for detail, you also need heaps of patience to be able to sit and stare at the same pixel images for many hours at a time while you work on a particular project. This means that the more you practice, the better you get, and if you are someone who wants to work in a creative industry, these skills are invaluable.

Does it really show skill?

On one hand, it does take a certain level of skill to manipulate a photo: Even if you are simply adjusting the colour ratios of a photo, you must still have at least a basic understanding of the software as well as an understanding of photo composition. However to some extent, it almost doesn’t matter if the photo you have taken is completely pants if you have the knowledge to manipulate the original into something artistic. On the other hand, can you still deem yourself an ‘artist’ or a ‘photographer’ if you need to rely on software to make your photo great?

Does it create false expectations?

One of the universal truths of modern day society is that when you compare yourself to other people, you are undoubtedly going to become sad and disappointed with what you have in life. This is made worse when the pictures you are looking at are not the entire truth of that person’s life, nor is it an accurate representation of society as a whole: As beautiful as celebrities can be and as flawless as the Victoria Secret models are, the majority of photos taken of them are then manipulated to look more appealing than they are. The time old story of ‘sex sells’ means that we are more likely to pay attention to a beautiful body than we are to the sight of your average person, even though the average person is an attainable role model to have. In recent years, fashion companies such as Dior have even banned super skinny models in their cat walks, so why are we not banning them in photographs?

The dangers?

To begin with, super skinny models only add to the stereotype that in order to be considered ‘beautiful’ you have to weigh as little as possible. This is not only bad for society, where the percentage of people with eating disorders is gradually rising every year, but it is also bad for the industries that condone them, as it almost suggest that they care about making money more than they care about the people who sell their clothes for them. It also portrays an image that the people in modelling campaigns are the ‘normal’ people of society, and it is everyone else who looks bizarre, when it reality it is the opposite way around. But not only do these people already have incredible bodies (simply because they work out, eat healthy and, mostly, because it is literally their job to look stunning) but then editors set to work to exaggerate the images more: legs get longer, skin gets smoother, lips become fuller, muscles get more defined, until we see an image that is not only a poor representation of society, but a bad representation of that model as a person, as though the hours they have spent in the gym and all that clean eating was pointless because a piece of software s what makes them look flawless in the end.

The upside?

Photo manipulation can be hours upon hours of fun and since the software is still surprisingly new, it is very hard to become a master of it. The software is constantly developing and improving and as such so are the skills that come along with it. It also is now becoming a sought after skill in the creative industry, with more and more employers wanting at least a basic understanding of photo manipulation software. It stands to reason that there is a clear need for it in society otherwise why such a high demand for the skill within the workforce? It could even be argued that photo manipulation is an art form in its own right, as it combines many different disciplines, while still requiring an in-depth knowledge of them all in order to create an image that is new and striking.

So what do you think? Is it really necessary in an artistic world, or is it doing more damage then it’s worth? Let me know 🙂

T xx