Waking Up at 5am?!

Day One WindowWaking up at 5am is one of the most popular challenges on the internet. It seems to be the ultimate test of willpower and hardiness but I never took it seriously. As someone who tends to go to sleep just after midnight and wake up naturally at 9, I am now intrigued to see if I can improve my life by waking up earlier. A while ago, I downloaded the app Sleep Cycle in a last ditch attempt to sort out my sleep pattern. The app measures your sleep and, instead of waking you up at a set time with an irritating beeping, it wakes you up at the best time between two points with music that starts quietly and gets gradually louder. As it measures your breathing, it can tell when you’re sleeping and how deeply you’re sleeping so you’ll never get woken up in deep sleep and the alarm tone doesn’t get louder if you wake up. Before I started using the app, I was going to sleep at 1 or 2 and waking up at 10 or 11, so if I had to go anywhere early in the morning I would only get 5 or 6 hours sleep. Using the Sleep Cycle app I have learned so much about my sleeping patterns and I now aim for 8 hours a night.

But then I had an extended weekend off. The knowledge that I didn’t have to wake up early for anything was my downfall. I still woke up naturally at 9 but I would then sit in bed for hours watching videos and playing Sims 4. Before I knew it, the days were disappearing and I felt guilty knowing that I wasn’t doing anything to progress my life now that I’ve graduated university. What exacerbated this was seeing how happy and successful I was making my Sims.

I downloaded the game at the beginning of the extended weekend and it was the first time I had bought a video game since I was in primary school. I expected it to be a leisure activity and an escape from reality but to my surprise it just made me see my own hypocrisy. I was neglecting myself so that I could micromanage the lives of imaginary people. I made a household of 4 young adult sims and the first thing I did was give them all careers based on their personalities. The youngest sim had 5 days a week off so I set her tasks which nourished her creativity and increased her skill set. I taught her to fix appliances, I gave her an easel to learn how to paint and a guitar to learn music. I got her to read interesting books, to clean the house, to swim laps in the pool, and to go jogging. My sims have self-published books, sold paintings, and been promoted to roles I can only dream of.

Now, of course the game is unrealistic. It’s a game. But I get annoyed when my sims do useless things on their phones such as chat or go on social media when these are things I spend a lot of time doing. So I’m a hypocrite but now that I’ve realised this I can do something about it. Treat myself like I would treat a sim.

So I’m going to do it. I’m going to fulfil the cliche of lifestyle bloggers and wake up at 5am for a week. From tomorrow, I will wake up between 4:55 (sunrise) and 5:25 and head straight to the gym. I will work out for about an hour and then walk back home. I will then shower, have a healthy breakfast, and head to work. After work, I will attempt to use the rest of the day to do all that I can. I will draw, practice the ukulele I was given a couple of Christmases ago (and have hardly touched since), allow myself to spend time reading, experiment with cooking, clean and tidy, and attempt to fix things around the house.

These activities are all things I neglect or have given up on. I gave up on both art and music in school because I wasn’t a natural so I didn’t believe I’d ever be good enough to make my efforts worth it. A terrible mindset. I have now attempted a small sketch and a simple song on ukulele (I’m Yours – Jason Mraz) and I may not be Monet or Mozart but I enjoyed myself and I will get better with time. If this week goes well then who knows what might happen?

Learning French for a trip to Paris

I have wanted to properly learn a language for some time now but have never felt like I had the time and was never sure which to learn with so many to choose from: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Greek e.t.c. Not to mention languages from places outside Europe and extinct languages such as Latin and Ancient Greek! But my recent trip to France prompted me to learn some basic French which I hope to expand on afterwards. To do this I compiled a list of words and phrases that were most likely to be useful to me in Paris and which was short enough for me to learn in a limited to amount of time. The list is not perfect as I have never had French lessons and had to use the Internet and my own initiative to work out some of the phrases but English is the third most spoken language in the world and one of the friends I am going with speaks French so we did not really need to be perfect for my trip!

My list ended up like this:
• Hello/ Good morning/ Hi – Bonjour/ Salut
• Goodbye – Au revoir/ Salut
• Good evening – Bonsoir
• Goodnight – Bonne nuit
• Please – S’il vous plaît
• Thank you (very much) – Merci (beaucoup)
• Sorry – Dèsolè
• How are you? – Comment allez-vous?
• I am fine – Ça va
• Very well – Très bien
• Yes – Oui
• No – Non
• Okay/ agreed – D’accord
• And – Et
• With – Avec
• Or – Ou
• Excuse me – Excusez-moi
• Pardon? – Pardon
• How are things? – Comment ça va
• My name is… – Je’mapelle…
• I am English – Je suis Anglais
• Do you speak English? – Parlez-vous Anglais
• I do not understand – Je ne comprends pas
• Pleased to meet you – Enchanté
• Help me – Aidez-moi
• I am lost – Je suis perdu
• I am lost – Je suis malade
• See you soon – À bientot
• See you tomorrow – À demain
• Mr – Monsieur
• Mrs – Madame
• Miss – Mademoiselle
• Where is the…? – Où est le…?
• I want the…? – Je veux les…?
• A bottle of water – Une bouteille d’eau
• Tap water – Eau du robinet
• Chicken – Poulet
• Fish – Poisson
• Salad – Salade
• Potato – Pomme de terre
• Rice – Riz
• Pasta – Pâtes
• Tomato – Tomate
• Soup – Soupe
• Bakery – Boulangerie
• Butchery – Boucherie
• Cake shop – Pâtisserie
• Turn left – Tourner à gauche
• Turn right – Tournez à droite
• Where are the toilets? – Où sont les toilettes
• I want the bill – Je veux l’addition

The summer holidays is a great time for not only visiting new places either abroad or within the country you live but for learning new things and improving yourself as a person. Learning a new language, reading new genres, researching a topic that interests you or experimenting with writing in the form of blogging or short story writing are all enjoyable pastimes which can help to keep you productive, whilst spending time with friends and family either just relaxing or doing something active like cycling can help your physical and emotional wellbeing, something especially key for introverts as it is easy to isolate yourself during holidays!
As for me, I had a great holiday in Paris with my homemade phrase book (even though I rarely used it!) and wish anyone else planning to go to France luck with their French!

To see my Trip Advisor reviews for our B&B, the café we ate dinner at, and the boat tour we went on, click the links below.




Apologise versus Apologize

An age old argument: –ize or –ise. Is it apologise or apologize?

Until recently, I thought that it was apologise as I was told that apologize was American.

However, this is a common misconception as both are actually English.

When I discovered this, I was at a loss as to which to use. I then found that –ize was the original, with –ise being introduced later and neither being American.

But the fact still remains that many people believe that –ize is American and it can lose you respect in Britain.

However, as always in the English language, there are exceptions.

These words must end in –ise:





















There are also some that must end in –yse:









Personally, I still use –ise, as it is necessary to use –ise for some words but there are no words for which it is necessary to use –ize and I have always used –ise. If you live in the UK, then you should use –ise unless you are associated with Oxford University or Cambridge University, both of which will expect you to use –ize.

Fans of Inspector Morse will probably know that Morse himself condemns those who use –ise, calling them illiterate, saying that people who went to Oxford or Cambridge should know the right way, as the Oxford and Cambridge English dictionaries use a “z”.

If you live in America, then you should probably use –ize and people who live elsewhere, again, I don’t know, but as I said in my post about the Oxford comma, do what you feel is right and if you have been doing it one way all your life then you probably shouldn’t change now!

The Oxford Comma

The Oxford Comma. Some love it and some hate it. But why?

The Oxford comma is a comma that goes before the words “and”, “or”, and “nor” in a list of 3 or more items. For example:

“I had eggs, toast, and orange juice.”

Many people, including myself, were taught at primary school never to put a comma before the word “and”, as it is wrong. But is it?

The main use of the Oxford comma, also called the Serial Comma or the Harvard Comma is to avoid ambiguity and to clarify meaning.

Meaning is clear in a simple list with or without an Oxford comma:

“She wore tan shoes, pink shoelaces and a polka dot dress.”

This sentence clearly states three separate items of clothing.

“She wore tan shoes, pink shoelaces, and a polka dot dress.”

This sentence also clearly states three separate items of clothing.

However, in a complicated list, meaning can be ambiguous without the use of an Oxford comma.

“I’d like to thank my parents, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.”

This suggests that your parents are Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, a mistake which can be avoided with the use of an Oxford comma.

“I’d like to thank my parents, Bill Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey.”

The comma also helps in lists which contain compound terms (“meat” and “vegetable pies”) joined by a conjunction (“and”), such as:

“The bar sold cider, real ales, meat and vegetable pies, and sandwiches.”

Without an Oxford comma, this sentence suggests that the pies and sandwiches were vegetable:

“The bar sold cider, real ales, meat and vegetable pies and sandwiches.”

When planning to publish your work, you should bear in mind that some organisations such as The Associated Press, The Economist, and the New York Times dislike, avoid, and omit the Oxford comma.The comma has been part of Oxford University Press style for centuries, changing its name from the serial comma to the more well-known Oxford comma, but was rejected recently by the university’s branding people to get academics to be consistent. But the Oxford Press still uses it, along with The Elements of Style, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual, the American Psychological Association (APA), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the American Medical Association.

However, the general consensus seems to be that you can choose to use the Oxford comma, or not use it, but you should be consistent.


  • Primary school does not always teach you the right way to do things
  • Avoids ambiguity
  • Clarifies meaning
  • Matches the natural speech pattern of pausing before the last item in a series
  • Supported by Oxford university


  • Unnecessary in simple sentences
  • Some organisations do not allow it
  • In some instances it does not help clarity and can introduce ambiguity
  • Can be redundant, as the preceding conjunction serves the same purpose as the comma
  • Takes up more space
  • Mostly only used in America (obviously not a con if you are from America – use away!)
  • People such as teachers and employers may attempt to correct you

In conclusion

If you live in the UK, then either use the Oxford comma and swear by it, use it when it is necessary, or don’t use it at all. If you live in America, then you should probably use it. If you live elsewhere, I have no idea! But I would suggest you do want you feel is right wherever you live because, really, it doesn’t matter what other people think about your grammar unless people like your teachers or tutors are telling you to do it another way, in which case should probably listen to them… or carry on regardless if you want!


Mind Palaces

Mind palaces. Most of us didn’t know what they were before we watched BBC Sherlock’s The Hounds of Baskerville and were inspired by the scene in which Sherlock appears to have a brain like a computer. I was definitely inspired by that episode of Sherlock, but I didn’t take action for a long time as I didn’t think I would be able to make a mind palace, but I think that was more due to Sherlock making it look so complex!
I finally decided to make my own mind palace when I came across a Tumblr post about mind palaces. The person who wrote the post said that he used Hogwarts as his mind palace, but I found that my memories of Hogwarts just weren’t strong enough!
But then I found that it just happened. A world formed in my head, with infinite possibilities. My mind has a library, a room, a beach, and a wood! A mind palace can be anything you want it to be but you have to know the place you choose well or you won’t be able to use it for anything. But once you have found a place, real or imagined, that you know inside out, you can use it to lock away embarrassing memories or scary films that gave you nightmares, to make a place where you can go to relax and meditate to forget your worries, or to store information.
Mind palaces are usually used to store information in the way that Sherlock and Magnussen do, as the actual technique is Method of Loci, an idea originating from Ancient Greece, in which you use locations to store information. Method of Loci isn’t for everyone, as it takes a lot of time and effort and requires constant maintenance to keep your palace clear in your mind and your memories fresh. Rehearsal is key to memory.
Method of Loci may seem like a great idea for exams, but unless you are either naturally good at it or have practised storing memories, it probably isn’t the best idea, especially not just before exams, as memories will need to be rehearsed for a while before the exam.
If you do decide to make a mind palace, I would recommend doing some research on Google first. While writing this post, I decided to try out traditional method of Loci, using the guide on wikiHow. I thought their method of remembering words in an order based on objects in a room was a bit weird and I thought it would take ages to master, but decided to try it anyway… I was shocked with the results, as it worked perfectly and I can still recall each and every word in any order!

1. Cabinet – Star
2. Sofa – Candy (sweets)
3. Television – Wings
4. Fireplace – Salutations
5. Cupboard – Power
6. Litter tray – String
7. Filing cabinet – Stubborn
8. Umbrella stand – Shopping
9. Computer – Blonde
10. Dining Table – Steak
11. Washing Machine – Speakers
12. Sink – Grimace
13. Oven – Case
14. Bin – Couch (Sofa)
15. Fridge – Announcement

I would recommend you look at these sites on Mind Palaces: