Unpopular Opinions – Christmas Edition

I don’t know why but I love writing ‘Unpopular Opinion’ posts so much! Sorry if you are sick of all the different versions I have done by now but I cannot get enough of creating them, so here’s another one all to do with the festive season and Christmas itself.

1. There is too much pressure put on giving someone the perfect present

It feels like people view the presents they are given as a signifier of how much they are valued by the giver. However, presents should be all about the sentiment, not the price tag or what designer label it comes from. Giving presents these days feels like you are having to prove to the person how much you cherish them but that feels impossible to encompass in an item or two, so it ends-up simply being an unnecessarily pressurising process.

2. Opening presents in front of the person who gifted them to you is tense

When I am opening presents, I am way too aware of my facial expression! I worry that I’m either looking unimpressed or that I’m making too much of an effort to look happy with the present which means that I end-up looking like I’m faking my reaction. There is no satisfactory way to open a present and I wish people would accept that I am being truthful when I tell them that I am really grateful for their present rather than seeing the look on my face as the real signifier of truth.

3. Crackers are a disaster waiting to happen

Who thought that having multiple contests of strength occurring at the same time around a dinner table loaded with glasses, plates and drinks was a good idea? The males in my family especially really like to muscle-in on the crackers, so much so that their arms end-up flying back when they break and I live in worry that a glass of wine is going to go flying!

4. Flashing Christmas lights are too intense

I much prefer the softer type of lights where they either fade in and out or just stay the same. Some of the flashing Christmas lights around where I live look they are trying to replicate a secondary school rave more than be festive!

5. There are no Christmas-specific films that I love to watch

To be fair, I’m not really a big film fan anyway (except for the in the case of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films!). Although, I distinctly remember the Grinch absolutely terrifying me when I was a child to the point where I would simply avoid watching it when it inevitably came on every year. It wasn’t even the fact that he was trying to steal people’s Christmas presents from their own houses which scared me, it was more about the way he walked around and his creepy fingers!

6. People who put cold cream on top of their Christmas pudding are going too far!

Every single year at Christmas, I will look around me as people tuck into their Christmas pudding and see people pouring cold cream (fresh from the fridge) onto their hot puddings and it continues to make no sense to me!

7. The expectations people have for Christmas Day are too high and put an unfair amount of stress on the host

Every year people stress about making Christmas Day absolutely flawless. People get so caught-up in trying to make everything look picture-perfect and ensure that everything goes off without a hitch that they forget to enjoy the moment. I feel sorry for all of the people who run around their kitchens, boiling hot and flustered, on Christmas Day and miss out simply relaxing with everyone else and enjoying the day for what it is. 

 

Find my other ‘Unpopular Opinions’ posts below:

Unpopular Opinions – University Edition

Unpopular Opinions – Harry Potter Edition

Unpopular Opinions – USA Travel Edition

Unpopular Opinions Part 2

Unpopular Opinions

 

If you want to hear more of my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter – @RyanBInNature

 

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Do not live and die by the judgement of others

Day by day I am noticing how much I constrain myself and tailor my behaviour through fear of how other people will judge me. I toe a line, telling myself that I am free and do not care about people’s irrelevant opinions when really everything I do, even down to what clothes I wear, is decided through the lens of what I know other people will find acceptable.

It is easy to pre-empt what other people will think and say. As long as you fall into line; dress, think and act like them, they will have no complaints. Do not challenge their view of the world and do not scare them by stepping out of place and becoming an unknown quantity. Do all these things and you will be safe. However, you will never be fully happy.

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”

– Sigmund Freud

Only as I am growing older, learning about new things, experiencing things outside of my small bubble am I realising the compromises I make in my daily life. The little decisions I make so as not to cause to ripples whilst telling myself that I am doing those things because I truly want to. Lie after lie legitimates my never reaching my full potential.

“None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being purposefully inauthentic is so boring though. When you look at the person next to you and realise that you have morphed into a similarly brainwashed creature who has followed the pattern of other people’s beliefs without question or issue. You have fallen into line so quickly and easily you never saw it happening. The most exciting thing you can do now is be fully and unashamedly yourself. Follow your intuition and impulses which are intrinsically unique to you. Express yourself in the brightest ways you can think of no matter what. Indulge in whatever interests you, no matter if no-one else you know cares about the same things. More than anything, become someone you can be proud of, not only now but years down the line when you are reminiscing about your life. Did you do your unique nature justice? Did you follow your passions? Did you take a stand for the things you believe in?

“Expression is survival”

– Hayley Williams

 

Unpopular Opinions – USA Travel Edition

As I mentioned in my Remembering The Summer Of 2018 post, I visited the USA for the first time ever this summer. It was a bit of a whirlwind experience which jet lag made all the more surreal as well as the crazy humidity which lingered around me everywhere I went. Along the way, I developed my own opinions about some American quirks and confectionary choices so, without further ado, here are some of my unpopular opinions which I gathered during my travels!

1. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is disgusting

People talked at length to me about their passion for Dunkin’ Donuts and their coffee in particular (shoutout to the bus driver who raved about the place for a solid five minutes). So, I got myself a coffee from the buffet car on the eight hour train journey I took from Washington D.C. to Boston… I literally could not finish it because I hated it that much. This is saying something for me because usually I will be so desperate for caffeine that, no matter how grim a coffee tastes, I will chug it down anyway. There was also no other coffee choice available on the train, so I suffered the eight hour journey without my caffeine-fix (first world problems!). Honestly, I would see a Dunkin’ Donuts what felt like every five steps whilst I was in Boston because they are a Massachusetts-based chain, so it almost felt like the company was taunting me with memories of their horrendous coffee as I walked around the city.

2. Too many tasty things are displayed in grocery shop queues

My goodness, I had to develop an iron will whilst I was standing in the queue to buy groceries! It’s like they saved all of the most delicious, sugary items of temptation for the layout before the tills just so that I would have to stare at them in all their glory whilst I waited in line to be served. Really, it is an unfair tactic, I felt pulled in every direction whilst every flavour of Oreo was laid out there before me, ripe for my taking. You’ll be happy to know though that my lack of many dollars meant that I had to force myself to resist these sweet treats, otherwise I would inevitably have come back from my travels with rotted teeth!

3. America has way too many Starbucks

Sorry to continue the criticism of the biggest American chains but I felt like I was the places I visited were overflowing in a superfluous number of Starbucks chains. I feel like the little, independent coffee shops stood no chance against the power of a big corporation like that which dominated every street in every town. I like to support small businesses but that was hard since they seemed to have been mostly forced to relocate elsewhere because the cities I visited was so chain-reliant.

4. The idea of cream being put in my coffee is like sacrilege to me

Every time I had a coffee, which let’s be honest was very regularly, the person serving me would ask if I wanted cream in my coffee which is something you are never offered in the UK. Each time I would protectively cling to my coffee before they could get the cream in and plead for some soya milk whilst people looked at me as if I was abnormal for looking at the cream as if it were poison. There were even little cartons of coffee creamers in the rooms I stayed in. To be honest, I know I must be a very sad person but I just could not get over how millions of people were ruining their perfectly good coffees everyday by putting cream in there. Horrifying.

5. American airports are really confusing

I properly struggled with this one. I found American airports to be like highly distressing mazes which offered you directions in the form of very unhelpful signs for every mile you walked further into the trap. I’m glad I got to the Boston Logan International Airport about three hours in advance otherwise I would have had heart palpitations just trying to find my gate. I don’t know if other airports in the country would redeem my opinion of them overall but the two airports I went through over there were some of the most bizarrely laid-out places you could possibly come across!

 

CONTACT ME:

Twitter – @RyanBInNature

Instagram – @awalkwithnature00

Unpopular Opinions Part 2

I’ve decided to write a sequel to my first ‘Unpopular Opinions’ post because I enjoyed the response to my last one so much. It’s really fun to share your thoughts with other people and find that they agree with you when other people have always told you that your opinions are weird and odd. So, without further ado, here is my second post of my Unpopular Opinions and please leave comments about whether or not you agree with me down below!

1. I find yellow to be an annoying colour; it’s so bright and loud that it feels invasive and blares at you from across the room.

2. I hate champagne and proseco, they’re supposed to be celebration drinks but their taste is enough to put a dampener on any good news.

3. I think sliders are the worst footwear creations since Crocs, if nothing else I’m worried that people are going to slip out of them whilst going down the stairs and fall over.

4. The majority of premium range, expensive cars look repulsive to me, I much prefer the look of normal, everyday cars.

5. For me, Urban Outfitters is massively over-rated and overpriced, I just do not see the appeal.

6. I think greetings cards with glitter on them should be banned, I hate the stuff when it explodes out of the envelope and little specks of glitter hang around for years, stubbornly refusing to leave every orifice of your home.

7. I do not particularly like the taste of avocados, I find them bland and wouldn’t go out of my way to cook with them.

8. A6 notepads are little wads of frustration, you may as well try to cram what you want to write onto a post-it for all the space an A6 page gives you.

9. The first Divergent film is great, the others I found quite disappointing especially considering I loved the books so much.

10. I prefer to go to colder climates on holiday when I go abroad, warmer climates just make me grumpy!

11. I hate it when people criticise fan fiction and fan art, people being creative in whatever form should be encouraged rather than demeaned.

 

5 Things To Do In London

For those of you who don’t know, I was born in London and have lived just outside the city for the majority of my life. I’m not a natural city-person though, crowds trigger my anxiety and I get easily stressed-out if there’s lots of noises around me. So, sufficed to say you might think that London would be an unbearable place for me but people overlook the areas of the city which aren’t filled to the brim with the hustle and bustle of thousands of people rushing past you. Apart from the most well-known tourist attractions, there are so many other places you can go without feeling like you are being suffocated by sensory overload. So, without further ado, here are 5 lovely things to do in London:

1) Go to Battersea Park

When you are walking around Battersea Park it is hard to believe that you are in one of the busiest cities in the world! It is an oasis of calm and nature within the hive of activity that is the city of London. The fields of green seem to stretch endlessly in front of you which is probably because the park spans a huge 200 acres! Just beyond the park is the scenic River Thames as the park lies on lively Southbank  Battersea Park has its fair share of history within it too as it was opened back in 1858 by Queen Victoria. 

bridge london

2) See a play at the Globe Theatre

Entering The Globe, it feels like you have stepped back in time. It looks nothing like the other theatres you can find in London, such as those in the West End. It is modelled on the theatre which William Shakespeare’s plays were performed back in the late 16th and early 17th century. It is an open-air theatre, so on sunny days it is a particularly glorious sight, especially as it is placed on the banks of the River Thames. Many of the audience members are extremely close to the stage, giving any play you see there an immensely intimate feeling within the magical atmosphere of the traditionally built structure. If Shakespeare plays are not your thing, the Globe also puts on lots of other plays by different playwrights. 

3) Go on the London Eye

My obsession with the River Thames continues apparently as the London Eye is also located next to the glorious river! The London Eye is essentially a giant ferris wheel which is designed to go very slowly so that the people in its pods can enjoy a spectacular view of London from the height of 443 feet. On a clear day you can see for about 25 miles when you are at the peak of the Eye’s cycle and this includes a bird’s eye view of the Houses of Parliament which lie just across the River and which hold an immense amount of history. I would definitely recommend booking your tickets in advance though, otherwise you might find yourself queueing for quite a long time before being able to board the Eye.

london eye

4) Have afternoon tea at the Intercontinental Hotel

This is a very luxurious treat but if you’re visiting the city why not feel like you are living the high life during your stay? Every facet of the hotel is exquisitely built and decorated, so much so that you feel like you are living someone else’s life whilst you are there! Each course of the afternoon tea is dainty, delicate and freshly made but by the end you will find to your surprise that you are completely full. Afternoon tea seems to me a very quaint English tradition or activity, so it is nice to indulge on the rare occasion when you can. Also, the hotel lies within a wonderful setting as it is surrounded by Hyde Park on one side and Green Park on the other.

5) Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour

The Warner Brothers Studios are in Watford, so they on the edge of Northwest London but are easily reachable within 50 minutes from Central London. At the risk of sounding cliche, the Studios are a mind-blowing and magical experience…honestly there is no other way to describe the feeling of walking through the creative masterpieces which make-up the world of Harry Potter. Even people I know who are not Harry Potter fans (which I thoroughly disapprove of) really enjoyed the Studios, simply for the rich, immersive experience. Often the Studios have different features on where they showcase particular features of the world of Harry Potter but my favourite part of the tour will always have to be seeing and boarding the Hogwarts Express for a myriad of reasons. I cannot put into the words the feeling which comes over me when I see the train, I would just urge everyone to go visit and see for themselves.

 

Learning How To Live

There is no colour to survival;
Plain existence only works in greys
As we are sucked down to basic endurance,
Withdrawn from the frivolous
And shrunk by the beauty,
The land killing and feeding us
Both by equal measure.

When our heart only beats-
Pounds like a drilling or drum-
We shrivel to the outline of a drawing,
Two-dimensional, graphite lines,
And our blood circles wearily.

Living is a different matter;
A contrast to survival, existence
More than duty-bound breathing.
Living is a colourful experience,
A sensory expedition to the brink,
The cherishing of the merry and the silly
With a rejoicing in the unknown;
The unfamiliar in ourselves and the Earth-
Our home.

5 WAYS TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SPRING

Here in the UK we are experiencing the initial couple of weeks of Spring after the snow which covered us in March. So, here are five ways to make the most of this lovely season…

1) Keep a look-out for beautiful spring flowers
Spring flowers are my favourite of any season. The vibrant colours of daffodils, tulips and crocuses light up my day and give me a renewed sense of appreciation for my surroundings. I feel that Spring is when nature looks at its most hopeful, as new growth starts to flourish and what looked barren a few weeks ago suddenly looks bountiful and promising. So, as you are going about your days, try to keep an eye open for the variety of colours and shapes which Spring flowers offer and hopefully the sight of them will offer a bit more colour and light to your day!

2) Eat your breakfast outside
This one may sound odd but if you have a patio, garden or balcony eating in the glow of the sunshine can be a heartening start to your day and give you a brief time for reflection and appreciation before the bustle of daily life kicks-off. This may be especially appealing if you work in an office where you feel restricted from fresh air and the sun 

blog for spring 2during the bulk of the day.

3) Take advantage of the day being lighter for longer and go for a walk after work or school
During the winter it may seem like there are not enough hours in the day to do everything you want to and make the most of your time. However, the Spring offers a great opportunity to maximise your daily activity, adding to your sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Also, if you’re not great in the heat (like me), Springtime is perfect because the temperature remains at a happy medium.

4) Visit a farmer’s market
The inspiration of Spring and the returning blue skies and sunshine makes me more motivated to cook which feels especially good when you work with fresh produce from a farmer’s market. Getting your food this way can make you want to try making new meals when you see all of the offerings in front of you rather than buying your usual from the grocery store. Buying direct from farmers also has the added bonus of supporting farmers rather than when you buy food from supermarkets which does not offer farms as much profit.

5) Make plans for your summer
Spring gives us a renewed sense of anticipation for the summer as we remember the feeling of the sun on our skin and the gratification of more sunlight hours, so this is the perfect time to get started on your preparations for summer. This way you can look forward to all the activities you have planned in the near future and remind yourself of these whenever you are feeling low or demotivated.

CONCERT MEMORIES

My lungs are burning,
A fierce, fiery pain
Stops me from thoughtless breathing.
A sharp ache rattles my chest
As I heave, a heavy reluctant breath.

My legs; stiff and cramping,
Cry out for each and every step,
As I trudge wearily away from my bed.

My throat rasps; uncomfortable,
Every word grating on sandpaper,
Each vowel terse and spiteful,
Scratches and pokes it’s way to my mouth.

But these are my reminders,
Short-term souvenirs, feeding me
Memories of the night before,
When I let go,
Unshackled my battered, caged heart
And sung and screamed;
A whole other person taking over me,
A voice I hadn’t heard for years
Escaping me,
The girl of my childhood
Bouncing with joy,
Not hiding or second guessing,
But plainly professing,
My love for my best friend next to me
And the other fans of my favourite band,
Who poured their hearts out,
Vulnerable in an arena of thousands,
Connected by our emotion
Shared for songs that mean something,
To this family of our own making.

 

blog photo 5

THE ULTIMATE HARRY POTTER TAG

Often on my blog I talk about the things that get me down or make me feel anxious. It is a lot less often that I talk about the things that help lift me out of these dark feelings. Harry Potter and JK Rowling’s wizarding world in general is one of those uplifting things which can show me magic and escapism even when I am in my worst muggle state! So, to bring a little magic to my blog I thought I would do the Ultimate Harry Potter Tag…

1)Favourite book?

The Prisoner of Azkaban. Sirius Black is one of my favourite characters in the whole series of Harry Potter books, so I love the amount of focus on him in this book as well as Lupin and the tales of their days at Hogwarts. Plus, the presence of the dementors gives the book a really ominous and gloomy feeling which I really enjoy.

2) Least favourite book?

The Chamber of Secrets. This is not to say that I think this is a bad book at all, it’s just if I had to chose then I would say The Chamber of Secrets, although I do love Dobby’s presence in the book.

3) Favourite movie?

The Prisoner of Azkaban for all the same reasons why I love the book. The film also did such a good job of depicting the dementors, as well as Buckbeak and Lupin in his werewolf state.

4) Least favourite movie?

Again, it is The Chamber of Secrets which leaps out to me unfortunately.

5) Favourite quote?

The answer to this always changes but for now it is “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

6) Favourite Weasley?

I think Charlie Weasley is too easily overlooked by everyone. I think he is a great character even if he does always feel at a distance (to be fair he was working with dragons in Romania). He has the characteristic kindness of a Weasley (he helps get Norbert out of Hogwarts) whilst also having a rugged and playful edge to him.

7) Favourite female character?

Probably Professor McGonagall, she is fierce, defiant, protective and amazingly skilful. Plus, when I was 15 someone at school told me I looked like her when I had my glasses on, although I don’t think they meant that as a compliment…

8) Favourite villain?

Probably Bellatrix Lestrange, simply because of how infatuated with the dark arts she is and the fact that she has no shame about her blood lust!

9) Favourite male character?

Sirius Black. He is a deeply flawed character for sure but he is also resilient, resourceful and fiercely loyal. Wouldn’t you love to have him as your Godfather, even if he did come from a prejudiced family.

10) Favourite professor?

Professor Lupin! His classes were so fun and imaginative, plus he endorsed the emotional benefits of eating chocolate, so he sounds like just my sort of professor!

11) Would you rather a) wash Snape’s hair or b) spend a day listening to Lockhart rant about himself?

Definitely wash Snape’s hair. If anything, I think this would be satisfying in the end and it doesn’t really bother me, whereas I would probably end-up resorting to violence if I had to spend the day with Lockhart.

12) Would you rather duel a) an elated Bellatrix or b) an angry Molly?

Well an angry Molly killed Bellatrix, so probably Bellatrix.

13) Would you rather travel to Hogwarts via a) Hogwarts Express or b) flying car?

Hogwarts Express FOR SURE! I would love the sweeping landscape going by and stocking up on magical confectionary from the trolley.

14) Would you rather kiss Voldemort or b) give Umbridge a bubble bath?

Kiss Voldemort, am I the only one who is a little intrigued what this would be like *cowers away sheepishly*. The idea of Umbridge in the bath makes me feel physically ill anyway.

15) Would you rather a) ride a Hippogriff or b) a firebolt?

Definitely a Hippogriff, they’re so majestic and proud and it would make Hagrid happy.

16) Is there a character you felt differently about in the movies?

Ignoring the obvious which is Ginny Weasley, I would say Cho Chang. I think she is dealt with a lot more sympathetically in the movies, whereas in the books I share Harry’s pain when she gets on his nerves.

17) Is there a movie you preferred to the book?

No, just no.

18) Richard Harris or Michael Gambon as Dumbledore?

Michael Gambon for me, although this is probably just because I had more time to bond with Gambon’s Dumbledore over the larger number of films he did.

19) Your top thing (person or event) that wasn’t in the movie that you wanted there the most?

Harry, Ron and Hermione’s visit to St Mungo’s in The Order of the Phoenix where they met the Longbottoms as well as a much reduced Lockhart.

20) If you could remake any of the Harry Potter movies which would it be?

I guess I would remake the Philosopher’s Stone with all of the technical advancements which have happened over the years and improve the visual effects.

21) Which house was your first gut feeling you’d be a part of?

Slytherin as I have always been resourceful (basically a kind word for manipulative and sly!).

22) Which house were you actually sorted into on Pottermore?

Slytherin and I am proud of this (says she as she sits here typing wearing her bright green Slytherin hoodie).

23) Which class would be your favourite?

Defence Against the Dark Arts, there’s just something I find fascinating and empowering about it, plus it is practical and you get to use magic (unless Umbridge is teaching you).

24) Which spell do you think would be most useful to learn?

Well, I’d love to produce my own Patronus but I would hope that I’d never be in a situation that I would have to but maybe Expelliarmus which would embarrass anyone annoying me (I’m really showing my Slytherin side!).

25) Which character do you think you’d instantly become friends with?

Lupin maybe? I feel like he can see the best in people (unless they are dark witches and wizards) and he is tolerant, plus we could bond over chocolate frogs!

26) If you could own one of the three hallows, which would it be?

The Invisibility Cloak definitely, it would enable you to do so much and also avoid so many people. I think if you had the Elder Wand you would just become a target for people to try to disarm and kill you.

27) Is there any aspect of the books you’d want to change?

NO WAY! That question deeply offends my soul.

28) Favourite Marauder?

Padfoot aka Sirius Black, I definitely feel that he has got the best animagus as well.

29) If you could bring one character back to life, which would it be?

Sirius (can you see the theme here?). I feel like he got such a raw deal in life that it is only fair to give him a second chance.

30) Hallows or Horcruxes?

Well to make my own Horcruxes I would have to murder someone so that I could split my soul which definitely isn’t desirable so I would have to say Hallows.

Ok, so that was fun. Please don’t judge me for my answers (especially the one when I was said that I was curious to kiss Voldemort). I know that I wasn’t actually tagged to do this but it looked like fun so I did it anyway!