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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

July in Review

Wow-wee, July was a busy ol' month for me. It's been jam-packed with lots of stuff - both of the personal sort and all the other things I do a wee cover of in these posts. So I'll say my apologies now in case this turns into a lengthy rambling one, but I'm sure some of you like those kind of posts... right? (Please say yes).

The Personal
Now I'm sure you're all sick of me banging on about it, but I went on holiday this month and had the best time. If you're a regular reader you will have seen my posts covering my time in Rome but keep an eye out - they will be coming thick and fast every Tuesday (and sometimes Friday) for the next couple of months because I have so much I want to share with you guys. Whilst I was in Rome, I was incredibly ill and it was one of those situations that made me really sit back and take stock of my life. It made me appreciate who I have around me - particularly Matthew hey, hello! - and made me just generally consider my well-being and made me realise it should be and now will be paramount. Before we jetted off to Rome though, Matt & I spent a weekend back in Cirencester, hiding in his parents house, hiding from his best friend. Ben turned 30 this month and his wonderful girlfriend wanted to do a surprise bash with his nearest and dearest. We had such a lovely evening and watching Ben react to us being there was so so lovely. I also spent a long weekend in Manchester visiting my best friend. I've only been to Manchester in sweeping visits so I had never really explored the city beforehand. It's a really great city with a cool vibe - I know that sounds so *hipster* or *old person* to say but it truly does. Everyone is fashionable, there's great places to eat and to drink, great independent places to shop and the graffiti/street art there is so impressive. Also I can't lie, the people there are so friendly.

I also spent a couple of days at my new job which was equal parts terrifying and exciting. Starting teaching properly is nerve-wrecking but after meeting some of the kids I'll be responsible for come September, I really can't wait to get started. This month I also got a new tattoo! It wasn't planned, it was an extremely spontaneous thing, but I'm probably more happy with it than any of my others. The wonderful Jake Beniston unleashed his artistic magic on a pretty big backpiece on me and I'm thrilled to have an ode to The Creation of Adam on my body for the rest of time. I might not be religious, but The Creation of Adam is a favourite art piece of mine and it also seemed fitting with my trip to Rome and other things that went on this month. It just seemed to come along at the perfect time so I had to snap it up. Make sure to check out Jake's Instagram here if you're into tattoos and need a new artist to consider - trust me, he's a goody!

I didn't watch a great deal of films this month but I did see a couple of new releases that are worth a mention: The Secret Life of Pets and Zootopia. Both movies are your typical kids funny animated film and both are worth viewing in my opinion. I saw The Secret Life of Pets first and thought it was great - it had enough funny things happening to keep kids entertained but it had enough of the one liners and adult humour to keep adults intrigued too. The voice actors used are fantastic and well-known names in Hollywood so it was fab to watch a film with such a strong cast. As you can guess from the title, the film is about just that - the secret life of pets - but of course there's a little bit of thrill and adventure thrown in there for good measure.

Now, Zootopia is definitely my favourite of the two and that's not just because it's Disney. The story follows Judy Hopps, a wee rabbit with a big dream to be part of the police force despite being small and not a predator animal. The whole film screams Disney from start to finish because I'm pretty sure they're the only company to think up such a bonkers movie, but it also has a great stereotypical detective story element running through the main plot. Again, the voice cast is amazing and the humour in it is fab (hello they have the best sloths ever, just saying). On a more serious note though, I found this film to be incredibly poignant and topical for the current state of our world. That sounds really deep and I won't discuss it too much in case you haven't seen it yet, but I'd the last 1/3 of the film, when things really start to happen, it reminded me so much of our current political climate, particularly in the west. If you haven't seen Zootopia yet I honestly couldn't recommend it enough. It might not be *up there* with my favourite animated films, but it's got all the right ingredients.

TV has been more or less the same as films for me this month - not very active. Whilst in Rome, Matt & I rewatched Modern Family on the days I was ill/the times it was far too hot to go outside and come on now, I don't need to tell you about how good Modern Family is - just go and watch it and you'll see what I mean. In all the hype of Pokémon Go, we decided to rewatch Pokémon Indigo League and relive our childhood. The only new shows I'm interested in at the moment is Stranger Things and Eden. Stranger Things is the latest Netflix Original series which everyone seems to be loving. From reviews I've seen, it has been described as a darker version of The Goonies but with aliens and if that ain't enough of a reason to watch it I don't know what will convince you. I haven't started it yet because I feel like it is something I will want to blitz through in a matter of a couple of days, so I'll wait until I have some days free and go to town on it this August.

Eden is the other new show I've been loving - well, kind of. It's a Channel 4 show following a group of individuals as they spend a year living in the wilderness of Scotland, trying to start a society from scratch. As a fan of Bear Grylls' The Island and survival sort of shows, this sounded great to me and would be an opportunity I would love to have one day. The show is visually beautiful at times and the people all seem pretty great as a mix of individuals but honestly? I got *so mad* at this show. The idea is they're supposed to live off the land for a year, literally starting from scratch but the amount of amenities they have been given from the off-set (such as a boat to go fishing?!) is ridiculous considering the majority of the people on the show have some sort of trade or skill that could be utilised effectively (for instance, they have people who could easily construct a boat or raft - they already have a qualified fisherman too). I don't know, I want to love and enjoy this show but so far it's just made me angry and it's not because of the people which is what I usually get irritated by, but it's how the show has been planned and executed too. I've only seen the first two episodes though so I'll stick it out and hopefully learn to love it more.

July has been a super fab month for music. I've had some of my favourite bands releasing new music, some old favourites have been on repeat, and I've discovered some new gems. So first off let's talk about what I've been replaying. Green Day's Warning album has been a nostalgic positivity boost for me, Fall Out Boy's Inifinity on High has been getting some more love because usually it's their From Under the Cork Tree that steals the limelight for me, and I've also listened to a couple of guilty pleasure songs from A Rocket to the Moon on repeat too. The best nostalgia trip this month though? Without a doubt it has been My Chemical Romance. Oh those cheeky devils getting us all hyped up, thinking there was going to be a reunion or a new album then the day after their cryptic video teaser release I realised the date in their video was the anniversary on The Black Parade but just a month out... And low and behold, that's all they were announcing! My 14/15 year old self was truly gutted so I took a trip down memory lane with Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and my personal favourite, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love.

Now for some new delights to my ears. Since I was a teenager, Norma Jean have been one of my all-time favourite bands and during July they announced their new album, Polar Similar, would be released in September and teased us all with the release of the lead single, 1,000,000 Watts. It's a great song, sounds just like Norma Jean always sound (i.e. great) so I'm super looking forward to hearing more of that. Another album that almost slipped under my radar was Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us. Somehow I missed the release of this one back at the end of May but it has been repeatedly played in this household. It's your classic Architects album with Sam Carter's vocals making each single stick in your head for days. I'm a big fan of this and I'm sure I'll be listening to it a lot more in the coming months.

Another new album release I was ecstatic about was Blink 182 - California. Released on July 1st, I was so excited about this because again, Blink are a band I've loved since I was a teen hell, since I was around nine years old. California is their new album with Matt Skiba doing vocals instead of Tom Delonge and honestly? I absolutely love it. This album has somehow meshed together Blink 182 and Alkaline Trio's sounds beautifully yet has stayed true to Blink and is recognisably *their* record. It has a hint of old more pop punk Blink whilst also having a hint of their more mellow, almost instrumental stuff that can be found on their self titled 2003 album. And lastly, I'v discovered a new band! If you checked out my Music post a while back, you will know I've got quite the soft-spot for the female bands/singers especially if they've got an edge to them and have a bit of a 90s feel so there's no surprise that I've fallen hard for the band, Savages. This 4-piece girl band is not what you'd think of when you say "girl band" as their must is categorised as "post-punk revival noise rock" and I love it. They remind me of a mix between The Horrors (remember those guys?) and a contemporary, darker version of my ultimate favourites, 4 Non Blondes, so I can't wait to get my teeth into their albums a little more!

Video Games
On the game front I'll be honest, there's not been a great deal of change. I've stopped playing Kingdom Hearts Unchained X for the iPhone because it was getting a bit samey samey, but I've been playing a butt-load of Cooking Mama on the iPhone and duh, Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go seems to have taken over the world and I'm not even kidding. Everyone and their mum has been playing it and although it's come under fire from some people, I think it's one of the most positive movements in gaming history. I've read what feels like hundreds of articles from people saying it has helped them with their social anxiety, it's helped them make friends, it's helped them go on dates and the best one? It has helped a child with autism make friends. I've also seen friends lose more than a stone and a half in weight in a matter of weeks because the game makes you up and active (how amazing right?!). Although it frustrates the life out of me that there's only Pidgeys and Drowzees in my area - and that's if I even have signal - I think this app is just the beginning and I hope they continue to make it grow and people use it for good!

- A.
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