Saturday, 15 July 2017

Photo Diary: Scottish Highlands in 35mm Film

After a month at home in Australia, I figure now is the time to start posting the latest rolls of film I had developed. It was so nice to pop into the photo shop and flick through these memories again, but there are so many photos that I think I will break it down into a few posts. Up first, my trip to the Scottish Highlands!

In late April, my friend Katy and I caught the train from Edinburgh up to Inverness for a few nights. We had booked a lovely Air BnB with a cozy living room because we knew that after a day of exploring we really needed to start studying for our Scottish Lit exam, and this space would be the perfect place to do just that. Needless to say, the apartment was so cozy we just drank tea and napped when we weren't outside, so that plan didn't quite work out... not helped by the fact that springtime in the Highlands isn't very 'spring-like' and it was sleeting/snowing for the majority of our trip. Oh well! We still had a blast. We walked around Inverness, visited Culloden Field, Clava Cairns and took a day trip up through the mountains to the Isle of Skye. Absolutely incredible.

One particular memory that stands out was stopping at a waterfall with our tour group, where we were given some time to climb up to the top and take pictures. I started the climb up, and quickly realized the terrain was exceptionally muddy. As in, so muddy my feet started sinking into the earth. I called out to Katy, who was watching from below, and lost my balance, ending up wrist-deep in the dirt. I ended up climbing down so that I could wash my hands, boots, and knees in the stream at the bottom, which was chillingly ice-cold. Ha!

I hope you enjoy these shots as much as I enjoyed exploring this beautiful part of the world!

x B

* Click 'Read More' to see all the photos!

Clan Fraser memorial stone at Culloden -- as a fan of Outlander this was simultaneously exciting/emotional 

Winding walk in the hail to get to Clava Cairns from Culloden

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Europe on Film (Part II)

After a frightfully stressful week of exam study, I am done! Free! Until August, anyways. Now I have a few weeks in Edinburgh with no classes, to just explore and relax without thinking about academics. So, more posts about all of that coming soon.

In the meantime, here is part two of my Europe film series, as promised.

x B

Spring afternoon by the water in Bruges

Heavenly canals in Bruges

Bruges streets 

Monet's Garden, Giverny

Monet's House & Garden

Classic favourite, Shakespeare & Company bookstore

Parc Monceau

Au Vieux Paris d'Arcole -- the prettiest cafĂ© in Paris 


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Europe on Film (Part I)

Earlier in my semester abroad, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. Given that Edinburgh classes meet far less often, and most of the semester requires only a small amount of study (the rest is reserved for the mountainous final exams), I kept wondering what to do with all my extra time. I signed up for a gym membership and started swimming regularly, and had more time to go on long walks, which I love! But I also needed some more creativity in my life. So, I bought a little film camera, the Olympus Trip 35, and I adore it! It was relatively cheap, and I easily found film in town. I took my new little camera on my trip to Europe, and recently had my film developed! To save you from infinite scrolling, I've split this post in two, and the rest will be up later this week. For now, here are some film photos taken around Berlin and Copenhagen last month. I hope you like them!

x B

In transit @ Amsterdam Schipol Airport

Mauerpark Flea Market, Berlin

Mauerpark Flea Market, Berlin    


Mitte, Berlin 

Frederiksberg Gardens, Copenhagen 
Nyhavn, Copenhagen


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

My PCOS Story: All About Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

"Live less out of habit and more out of intent."

I've been putting off writing this post for a long while, mostly out of fear that someone I know will read it (which retrospectively is really not a big deal, since I'm usually quite open about having PCOS). Despite being generally open with my loved ones about my PCOS and body image struggles, it is a touchy subject for me. That said, I feel it's important to address these issues as a vent for myself and hopefully something that others can relate to. A note first, though: everything I discuss here is unique to my experiences with PCOS, and other women dealing with it will have variations on this experience. So I'm not making generalizations, I'm just explaining as best I can the way that it has impacted my life and how I have dealt with it. I'd also mention how fortunate I've been to have a wonderful doctor who diagnosed me so early in my life, as well as a fantastic support system of incredible people who lift me up and help me get through the tough times that come with PCOS and life in general.

I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in 2013, when I was fifteen years old. Here is a good link to more information about the condition, to summarize, PCOS affects around 10-15% of women, and the variety of symptoms affect everyone differently.

  • Ovarian cysts: I had an ultrasound shortly before my diagnosis, which revealed cysts on both of my ovaries. The risk with cysts is that they can rupture, which leaves scarring on the ovaries, which in turn can lead to infertility. I've experienced a number of cyst ruptures, and can say with certainty that it is a horribly painful experience. 
  • Irregular periods: I had my first at age fourteen and didn't get the next for almost a year. I've been on the pill since I was sixteen, which means that I now get a period most months *cheer!!*
  • Hirsutism (excessive hair growth): this is different for everyone and while mine isn't too severe, I find myself plucking a chin or nose hair from time-to-time.
  • Acne: I'm turning 21 this year and still deal with regular bouts of inflammation on my face.
  • Chronic fatigue: since my diagnosis, I've had two iron infusions and still haven't been able to get my energy levels back to the way they were five years ago. I often lie awake for hours at night, which as a busy college student (or anyone, for that matter) is a total pain.
  • Mood changes: I'm thankful that this hasn't been a huge symptom, but I've struggled quite a bit with anxiety in the last year or so in particular.
  • Weight gain: this is the big one for me. Women with PCOS typically have two major issues affecting weight: higher levels of male hormones, and insulin resistance. Let me tell you, insulin resistance is a pain in my ass. It puts me at greater risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, breast cancer, and high cholesterol (which I do have and will expand on further below).


The big take-away when I was diagnosed was losing weight will help alleviate all of the other symptoms. Everything is linked. But for me, weight management has always been the hardest part of PCOS. As a child I dealt with an illness that left me bedridden and out of school for months, and I ended up severely underweight and unhealthy. I gained the weight back in time, and as I entered high school my weight kept creeping up, despite the fact that I was playing various sports 3-4 days every week. When I was seventeen I saw a dietician for a year and managed to lose 20 lbs.

As I finished high school and headed off to college, the sports finished, but my late-night snacking habits did not finish with them. For the first two years, I put my health on the back-burner and gradually gained a lot more than just the 'standard' fifteen pounds that comes with dorm life.

The summer following sophomore year, I lost about 15 lbs through extra walking and consuming less sugar. Then I gained it all back again, and some more.

This is the pattern that it has tended to follow, and from what I can tell from my research, this is very common among women with PCOS. There are all sorts of diets recommended for weight loss success, but the only one I have found to be successful for myself, is a dairy-free, refined-sugar free (or light) and low-GI diet. I'd also mention that I've been a pescatarian for about 10 years, so no meat for me.

Having high cholesterol means I need to watch my saturated fats and keep them to a minimum, as well as limiting sugar intake. I cannot stress to you how hard this is for me. I have such a sweet tooth that some days it feels near impossible. The only solution I have found is sticking it out for one week, and then it gets easier. But that week is basically hell for me. I'll expand on my diet staples for balancing cholesterol and satisfying my sweet tooth below.

As I previously mentioned, the diet that works for me is low-GI as well as dairy-free and refined-sugar free. A few of my favourite foods to balance my cholesterol are: salmon, chia seeds (these little guys are so versatile!!), flax seeds, oats, almonds, the list goes on...

As far as low-GI goes, the biggest change for me is switching white carbs for wholegrains and complex carbohydrates. White pasta and flour do very little for you nutritionally speaking. Loading up on fibre is so key with PCOS. It balances the sugar in food, so that the energy is released more slowly and lasts longer, keeping you fuller for longer. Simple carbs, like cakes and pastries as well as white pasta, acts as a sugar burst and you'll end up feeling a crash and then you'll just be hungry again. It's a toxic cycle and I find it frustrating all. the. damn. time.

I also love to walk. I aim for 45-60 minutes every day. Sometimes this feels ridiculous and I just climb into bed at 4pm when classes finish, but it's another thing that is a great habit to have. Once you can do it for a week, it'll be much easier to do from then on out.

I also want to mention something that I feel is important to acknowledge: I have dealt with emotional eating for a good ten years or so. It can be really shitty and gets me feeling down regularly. I'll have one good day and then the next I'm feeling stressed out and deprived, so I'll stop at the store and buy everything sweet in sight. And regret it approximately five seconds after I've eaten every last morsel. I just feel that it's important to acknowledge that a journey to health and a balanced lifestyle is really tough. I've found that everyone deals with this on some level, so just be kind to yourself and treat your body with the respect it deserves. Living with PCOS is life long, so quick diets and solutions just won't work. Take your time to figure out what works for you.


I'd like to end this post by sharing some of my favourite quote when it comes to fighting PCOS.
"A little progress each day adds up to big results." Some days it is so bloody hard just to make small changes, but even the tiniest change each day can amount to something wonderful over time. So take your time, find your balance, and smile big!

If you also have PCOS, I hope this post has helped you to feel that you are not alone in your struggle!

x B

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Long Overdue: A Photo Diary

I thought it was about time to share some of the highlights from my visit in England, as well as my time in Scotland and trips to Ireland and Northumberland. More travels in the next month means many more adventure photos to come! Many of these are just iPhone photos, so I'll try and get some HQ Canon images posted soon.


Friday, 10 February 2017

The Edinburgh List

Princes Street viewed from Calton Hill

Hello world!

Yesterday marked one month since I started my program in Edinburgh. Every day has been a whirlwind of adventure, excitement and wonder. It's nice to sit back and reflect on what I've been up to so far, but I also have a long and ever-growing list of things I want to do before June. So, here is where I'm going to keep my to-do list, marking things off as I go. And below, some photos from the last couple of weeks, out and about.

Art & Culture:
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Scottish National Gallery
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Camera Obscura Museum
  • Bookshop Tour
Historic Sites:
  • Holyrood Palace
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Real Mary King's Close
  • Underground Edinburgh
  • The Georgian House
  • St. Giles's Cathedral
  • Greyfriar's
  • HMY Britannia
  • Nelson's Monument/Calton Hill
Towns & Natural Scenery:
  • Portobello Beach
  • Leith
  • Stockbridge
  • Dean Village
  • Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
  • Arthur's Seat
  • Ting Thai Caravan
  • Cuckoo's Bakery
  • Forest Cafe
  • Urban Angel
  • Princes Street Starbucks (the view is great!)

Edinburgh Castle viewed from Princes Street

Early blossoms at a cemetery in Perth

More lovely cherry blossoms

View of Perth and the River Tay


Friday, 27 January 2017

Study Abroad Diary: Nesting

The day I arrived at my Edinburgh accommodation, I nearly broke down in tears. I've always felt it is important to have a 'safe space' that you can escape to when needed, and to find my room adorned with red curtains, red carpet, and a bright blue door (not to mention the extremely dated furniture), was a bit of a shock. After a little bit of a meltdown and some complaining to Mum, I decided it was time to visit IKEA and turn this dark space into a cozy and inviting bedroom for the next six months. I've always loved turning something plain into something beautiful, so this was the perfect challenge. And the results? A total success. I love this space now, it is the perfect inviting place to be after a long day of classes and exploring Edinburgh.

Some of the key purchases I made were a floor lamp and lovely green desk lamp from IKEA, as well as a faux sheepskin rug for my chair (it's so fluffy!) and of course, a nice selection of novels. My advice would be to have a look at your budget, see how much you can spend on decor, and just go for it. It has made my time so far substantially more comfortable. If you are planning to study abroad, or even if you just find yourself with a space that's a bit 'umph,' I hope you can find some inspiration here.

Papercutting is a new hobby! Add some tealights and you have a very 'hygge' setup. 

Adore my new IKEA bedding

Mood lighting, only six pounds at IKEA!

My ever-growing stack of books, I'm doing well with the Goodreads reading challenge for 2017.

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