Burnt

#31: Remember yesterday, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

Hmm … this is tough because after yesterday’s prompt, I realised that the majority of things I own is just stuff. It has no real value and can easily be replaced (but of course at a hefty cost!). However, with that said, I would have wanted to have grabbed the rest of my photos (to make sure I hadn’t missed any important ones), any other sentimental bits and pieces, a bag of my best and warmest clothes/shoes (along with a make-up/toiletry bag), any electrical goods/favourite DVDs and I guess any money I had lying around (a very rare occurrence but I can hope I’ll have that in the future haha!).

I’ll no doubt realise in a few weeks that there is something super important I’ve completely forgotten about, that should have been in my top five … which is when I’d store it away somewhere secret, so if I ever needed to evacuate in future, I’d go to this place and grab it!

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Burning down the house

#30: Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

Well, I always hope this doesn’t happen in my lifetime but the first one, which I’m sure is on everyone’s list, is that I’d grab my box of photos. Not the recent ones that I have digital copies of, but the really old ones that I don’t even have the negatives for so could never be reprinted. Saying that, I currently have around 10 or so boxes full of photos that I should really go through and sort, putting all my favourites into one box, for ease of evacuation!

The second thing I’d make a grab for, is all of the jewellery that has been passed down the generations or given to me by dearly departed relatives. It’s not really that much; only a ring, a few mismatch earrings and a couple of lockets but they mean the absolute world to me and I’d be devastated if I lost them.

Thirdly, and I know this will sound silly, but I’d pick the teddy bear that I was given when I was born. It’s been around for as long as I have, so definitely deserves to survive! Plus it’s still in really good shape so surely has another 25 years left in him!

The fourth item I’d pick up would be my important documents … well the ones I know that I have in my room i.e. my passport, my degree certificate, my drivers license certificate, exam certificates and my signed original drawing of Ice Age’s Scrat from Peter De Sève (who I met on my press trip to Iceland and he drew it specifically for me, right in front of me!). I know the last one isn’t technically an important document but it’s still a piece of paper … I really should find out where my birth certificate is just to complete the set!

This last one is tricky … I could say iPad/laptop but pretty much all of my photos and videos are backed up on Dropbox so can be retrieved easily. Nothing else strikes me as ‘I’d risk my life for it’. I guess I’d instinctively grab my handbag, which commonly includes my purse, phone, keys (not that I’d need them if the house was on fire!), tissues, umbrella, hats and gloves etc. On second thoughts, I might grab my hard back copy of Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz, as he was the first person I interviewed face-to-face and he signed it for me with a personal message, which really meant a lot to me. On a side note, he was that impressed with my confidence that he invited me to his book launch at The Ivy Club Loft in London!

I might have a proper think about this over the weekend and start getting together an evacuation pack just as a precaution! (Similar to what Luis has written about in his post for todays writing prompt)

Through the window

#29: Go to the nearest window. Look out for a full minute. Write about what you saw.

Well, the first part of this prompt was an easy one as I sit next to one of the three windows in this room! The writing about what I saw part, is not so interesting. As I described in my post titled Clean Slate on day 13 of this challenge, what I see out of this window is very … how do I put this .. static! Now that we have entered the winter months, hardly anyone dares to venture outside to the courtyard area. So, with that in mind, the most exciting things I could see during my minute looking out of the window included, a chef in his chef whites, going back into the adjoining kitchen downstairs; people wandering around in the office opposite ours (remember the Hula Hoop shaping of the building) looking rather stressed out; and a warning cone, which warns people to be careful as the surface may be slippery, being blown across the courtyard by the strong wind! As I warned, not very exciting …

P.s. sorry for the 2/3 hour delay with this post – I’ve been in meetings for most of the day and have only just gotten back to my desk!

Ode to a playground

#28: A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. Write it a memorial.

Hmmmm …. after much procrastination, I’ve decided that even though I still visit this place from time to time, it played a big role in my childhood. The place I am referring to is The Natural History Museum in London. Before I start, I’d like to say thank goodness this is fictional, but if it had been destroyed my memorial would go something like this …

The Natural History Museum meant a lot to my family and I. We’d check in as frequently as possible (thanks to the free entry!), mostly during the summer holidays, and would often share visits with our friends and extended family. There was always lots of fun to be had there and, not that I knew it at the time, it was sneakily educational, too! I fondly remember being a member of the NHM for a brief period of time. This allowed us access to a marvellously decorated VIP room just off the main entrance and it always seemed to be empty when we went in, so it felt like it was our secret special room, just for us! It will be sadly missed by all who entered via it’s magnificent arches. Nothing will ever be able to take its place.

Screen shot 2014-01-28 at 14.15.17Image: qualitycrown.com

Sliced bread

#27: Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread!” What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?

Firstly, where did this saying even come from?! … Well, after a bit of research, I found that this widely used saying dates back to 1928, when bread became available to buy pre-sliced and packaged for customer convenience. This took off with flying colours as consumers previously had to slice the bread themselves, whereas now that the slicing was automated, the thickness of each slice was the same! Hurrah to the disappearance of wonky sandwiches! This new sensation was advertised as ‘the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped’, which then morphed into the popular saying we know today. So, in layman’s terms, this saying refers to a recent invention that is likely to improve people’s lives.

So, with that in mind and without sounding completely cheesy, I’d have to say that blogging for me is the best thing since sliced bread! Since I’m very new to the blogosphere, after accepting the 365 Days of Writing Prompts challenge set by WordPress before the new year began, everything is still very exciting (which I hope will continue throughout the next 11 months, too!). I have chosen this as I’ve noticed that my writing is improving, all thanks to WordPress’ painless and innovative nudging to write daily blog posts.

On a more global note, I believe the best thing since sliced bread is an invention from the incredible Brittany Wenger, from Florida, who has created an easier and somewhat less painful way of diagnosing Breast Cancer, which has 99.11% sensitivity to malignancy! I truly hope we see this in hospitals worldwide soon, but until then I’ll certainly be taking part in this year’s Race For Life and doing my bit in the race to beat cancer … we will win!

My life is a musical!

Music heart

#26: What role does music play in your life?

Music IS my life. Ask anyone I know and they’ll tell you exactly the same. If I’m not listening or dancing to music, I’m singing instead! I must admit that I’ve actually lost count of how many pairs of in-ear headphones I’ve gone through, as one side always seems to fall silent after a few months … over usage! The genres I listen to and enjoy the most are the chart toppers, varied albums taken from West End shows and when extreme concentration is needed, wordless classical music (as this way I wouldn’t be able to get distracted by singing along!). Music allows you to be so expressive, it can be a complete mood changer (i.e. is great for a quick pick me up) and the majority of lyrics are easy to relate to and therefore possess powerful meanings and memories to various situations in your life.

If I was given the choice between listening to music whilst chilling out in my room or being able to boogie and appreciate music live, even though I love both I’d always, hands down, choose to be witnessing it live. Being able to see, hear and absorb the beautiful melodies, the buzz of the audience and of course the incredible voices, is simply a magical and inspiring experience. If it was up to me and money was no object, I’d make sure that I saw at least three live performances a week … actually, this is going to be one of my rules for when I move into London, as I’d have no excuse – it would be right on my doorstep!

Music is most definitely the way to my heart! … especially since the entire time spent writing this post, was accompanied by the magnificent sounds of Pharrell Williams’ Happy, Martin Garrix’s Animals, Bastille’s Of The Night, Katy Perry’s Roar, Little Mix’s Move, Ellie Goulding’s Burn and Gary Barlow’s Let Me Go, to name a few!

365 Days of Writing Prompts rebellion!

Dolphins

Today’s prompt of writing my own eulogy, was one that I didn’t fancy completing, so instead I thought I’d lighten the mood by sharing ten fascinating facts about dolphins. Enjoy!

– Did you know, newborn dolphins have a tiny patch if hair on their chins!
– If a dolphin becomes sick, other dolphins will take turns pushing it to the surface so that it can breathe.
– Some wild dolphins play catch with coconuts.
– Dolphins can swim up to seven times faster than the fastest swimming human!
– Dolphins have between 80 and 100 teeth.
– Fifty million years ago, whale and dolphin ancestors walked on land. They are the distant relatives of hoofed animals such as deer, hippos and bison!
– Killer whales are actually dolphins!
– A dolphin’s beak-like snout is called a rostrum.
– Dolphins have two stomachs; one is used to store food and the other is used to digest it.
– A dolphin’s eyeballs move independently of each other. One eye can look straight ahead whilst the other looks straight up!

Image: Chicago Zoological Society

Ready, set, go

#24: Set a timer for ten minutes. Open a new post. Start the timer, and start writing. When the timer goes off, publish.

So the timer has been set and away I go! As I type today’s post, I’m eating my lunch – I’ve found that I can’t actually help but multitask nowadays, it just seems to come so naturally.

10 whole minutes … I had a bit of a reality check this lunch time. I only had £3 for my lunch today (which is more than I usually spend as I normally bring lunch from home), which is a tough budget to stretch when you’re in London, that’s for sure! I visited four lunch places before I went to Sainsbury’s (a supermarket) and found that they did meal deals for £3 … result! So I happily bought my lunch and set off on my journey back to the office. On my way, I spotted a homeless man taking shelter and trying to get some sleep by the entrance of the local tube station. I felt terrible as usually I would have gone back and bought him a sandwich, but since I’d just spent all the money I had getting lunch, I couldn’t do that today. I did consider giving him the food but I made the, albeit selfish, decision to keep it for myself as I knew that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my work if I didn’t eat. After I have published this post, I will be going online to find an organisation that could help him, as I remember seeing on Facebook sometime last year that if you tell this organisation where you’ve spotted someone living on the streets, they’ll be able to locate them and help them out (give them food, drinks, warm clothes etc). I’ll also update this post with a link (and a link only … no extra text), to this organisation so that others can do the same.

Since I spent a minute or so thinking about what to write, the initial plan was to check out the biggest trending topic and write something related to it. However, I think that what I’ve written was a much better choice!

UPDATE: After thoroughly searching the internet, I’ve finally found the organisation that helps individuals living on the streets of London, called No Second Night Out. You provide them with the details of where you spotted the rough sleeper and they will go out to find them. They’ll also update you on the situation after the intervention, which I think is a lovely touch.

The National Television Awards 2014!

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Last night I was lucky enough to be a photographer on the red carpet at the 19th National Television Awards, in the O2 arena, London. My mission was to meet and photograph a small group of children who had won a competition to become junior members of the paparazzi for the night! Albeit rather cold, it was great fun being able to mingle with the celebrities in such an open space, as opposed to being stuck in a squished press pit, and working with such lovely, enthusiastic children. Every celeb I spoke to was incredibly polite and very friendly, and were more than happy to let our junior photographers get up close and personal for that winning shot!

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The awards ceremony itself was, as expected, fantastic – although I did hope that The Big Bang Theory would win the Comedy category (as they are undoubtably my favourite thing to watch at all times) but Mrs Brown’s Boys were deserved winners as they always seem to have so much fun with the show! I was delighted for Khali Best, Eastenders’ Dexter, who won the Best Newcomer award and even congratulated him at the VIP After Party! Congratulations to Paul O’Grady for winning the Factual Entertainment category for his fantastic work on Paul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs – it always leaves me wanting to take a trip to Battersea to adopt one of their gorgeous pups! Even though she already had her name written all over the NTA award for Serial Drama Performance, following her highly emotional exit from Coronation Street on Monday, Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played Hayley Cropper, dragged her co-star and on-screen husband David Neilson (Roy Cropper) on stage to accept her award. This was such a lovely moment to be witnessing live as not only had they been onscreen partners since 1998, it was clear that they had become the best of friends. Corrie will not be the same without the loveable couple!

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All in all, it was a fantastic evening and quite frankly one I’ll never forget! Here’s hoping that I’ll be able to do the same this time next year!

Photographs taken by myself (of course, apart from the one I’m in!) – 1: Me standing next to a giant NTA Award. 2: One of the junior photographers hard at work snapping the stars of Mrs Brown’s Boys’ Brendan O’Carroll & Jennifer Gibney. 3: Two of our junior photographers with Paul O’Grady.

Shipwrecked

#23: Read the story of Richard Parker and Tom Dudley. Is what Dudley did defensible? What would you have done?

Answering this writing prompt straight after eating lunch was probably not the best idea but so they say, everything happens for a reason … even if it did turn my stomach twice over!

What Dudley did was in no way defensible and I wouldn’t even think of taking someone’s life simply to extend mine (as there was no way of knowing that by doing this, it would ‘save’ their lives indefinitely). Parker had only lived for 17 years, whereas the other three had already had a life, plus Parker most likely had the best chance of survival/recovery due to his young age. To think that this is actually something that really happened is simply revolting. I didn’t want to read on but I hope they all went to prison for killing an innocent human being!