Why Hate Valentine’s Day?

It’s that time of year again, when the entire world is split into three camps: the lovers, the haters and those who couldn’t care less. Despite the day’s focus on romance, there seems to be a huge amount of bitterness and hostility between the lovers and haters of Valentine’s Day, and I’ve never understood why. Personally, I love Valentine’s Day – I don’t go out of my way to plan something special every year, nor do I buy or expect expensive gifts and gestures. I just really like the idea of a holiday that’s sole focus is romance.

Matthew and I are both thrifty (well, you have to be when you’re a poor student) romantics at heart, so Valentine’s Day has never been a chore for us. Last year, we made a huge blanket fort, watched films and slept in the living room. It was memorable, cute as hell and it meant we could spend the whole night being totally together. Sure, we could have done that any other day of the year too, but our blanket fort felt like a great idea for Valentine’s Day. This year, we’re making our own pizzas, having a glass of wine and watching a film – for us, that’s perfect.

Valentine's Day Flowers - Why Hate Valentine's Day?

The busy parents, unhappy singletons and those who are struggling either physically or mentally, simply can’t and/or don’t want to celebrate, and of course I understand that. However, there are also some popular yet trivial problems that people tend to have with Valentine’s Day, and although I recognise them, I really do not understand them.

I love my partner every single day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day:

Of course, me too! But, I also don’t see any harm in saying “Happy Valentine’s Day!” instead of “Morning!” when I wake up – either way, Matt still gets a kiss and a cuddle.

You can’t celebrate when you’re single:

Sure you can. Go see your mum or your grandma and, if you have some money, buy them a bunch of flowers. Celebrate with your single friends. Why not just have a night in, with your favourite food and favourite film? Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, not just romantic love. Celebrate familial love, friendship and self-love.

It’s a day for couples to rub their relationships in other people’s faces:

Definitely not. If love, or seeing love in others, bothers you then you’re clearly going through some hardship that you need to take control of. If you’re not and simply seeing happy couples genuinely bothers you, you have issues and your hate should not be projected onto the happiness of others. That’s your problem, sort it out.

It’s just another money grabbing holiday:

Yep, probably, but who is making you spend money? Romance isn’t expensive gifts and extravagant date nights. It can be a homemade meals, or making your own Valentine’s Day cards. Self-love doesn’t have to be expensive either. No need for fancy spas: run yourself a bubble bath and paint your toe nails.

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There’s no need to hate Valentine’s Day. Even if you don’t celebrate, you have to admit, it’s a pretty cute idea. Love is in the air today, so don’t shoot it down.

What do you think of Valentine’s Day?

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Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

Giants of Rock | Minehead

Giants of Rock – sounds great already, right? – is an annual adults-only rock festival hosted by the one and only Butlins. I promise, this is not a joke post. Butlins really does host a rock weekend.

You think of Butlins and, like me, you probably think of the seaside, family holidays, cheesy music and a place as far away as humanly possible from several thousand rockers. You’d be right, because Butlins is an awesome place for a family holiday, but did you know they also regularly hold live music weekends just for us grown-ups? And they’re incredible.

At the end of January, Matthew and I, alongside Mark and Kat – also known as Matt’s brother & brother’s girlfriend, good friends, best man & maid of honour, which ever tickles your fancy – jumped into the car for a 5 hour car-ride down to Minehead. We booked this weekend away so long ago, on a bit of a whim really, after visiting Matt’s mum and her foster children during on of their family holidays at Butlins. All four of us are child-free and loving it, so whilst Butlins (and the prospects of music, drinks and swimming) is forever enticing, the idea of spending a long weekend around many, many children is not. All they had to do was throw in “adults-only” and “rock music” and we were sold.

The music was, obviously, the highlight of the entire weekend. Surprisingly, though, the surrounding area came a very, very close second and that’s what I want to share with you today.

Minehead Butlins Beach Sunset

The Butlins resort we stayed in was in Minehead – almost 300 miles from our home city. It’s down in Somerset (which is also kind of near Wales), so even the car ride was a thing of beauty. I’m a bit dramatic when it comes to nature, I guess you’d say. I can’t quite control my excitement with how overwhelmingly and sincerely beautiful I find everything. It still baffles me how people can pass rolling hills and not look at them in awe, but that’s a story for another day. So, when we rocked up at the resort and head down to the nearby beach, I was blown away.

The beach seemed to start right at the base of a huge cliff, before winding all the way over mounds of huge rocks, around the bright green fields of a nearby golf course and into rolling hills in the distance. It went on forever.

Minehead Butlins Beach SunsetMinehead Butlins Beach Sunset

We went for two walks on the beach. One walk was full of fog and an orange sun that made the whole place look warm (even though it wasn’t). Even in the fog, it was incredible. During the second walk, we caught the sunset before almost being caught in the high tide. You bet we practically ran back to safety.  I could have walked up and down that beach for days… but only minutes away was the Butlins resort calling us back with an itinerary full of rock music and how could we turn that down?

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Have you ever been to Minehead or Somerset? I wish we could have explored a little more but, this time, we paid for the music and not for the nature!

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Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

The Wall Street Crash

My lovely friend Kat, who’s a qualified makeup artist and is studying a degree in the subject, recently asked me if I’d be the model for a 1920’s makeup competition that she was taking part in. Now, if you don’t already know, I’m ridiculously uncomfortable in front of the camera. I can tolerate the odd “Matthew, take a photograph of me in front of this beautiful landmark” type thing, because I know it’s my camera and I could always delete it anyway. Again, when I’m feeling pretty fly (hands up if you just mumbled “for a white guy”), I’ll take a cheeky selfie. But, the idea of putting that power into the hands of a professional, meaning I’d be unable to double check and delete any images that made me look bad, gave me the jitters. She’s my friend, though, and I was absolutely over the moon to help her out. Either way, I got to dress up as a rich 1920’s lady of leisure and that was pretty exciting.

For me, a full face of makeup is made up of my trusty mascara, winged eyeliner, translucent power on my nose and a bit of red lippy. Being put into the hands of a makeup artist, who literally has a suitcase full of makeup with her, was pretty daunting. I was met with primer, foundation, a ridiculous number of different eye shadows, false lashes and lots of other things that I don’t even know the name of. Honestly, it felt weird but I definitely wouldn’t look too out of place during the 1920’s.

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The brief was “Wall Street Crash”. Kat’s plan was to do a full face of 1920’s inspired make-up, before sitting me down alongside lots of other models, as all of the makeup artists performed their special effects magic. I was expecting a pretty tense atmosphere but I actually had a really good time – Kat covered me in fake blood, cuts and bruises, whilst I just sat there and watched the world go by. There was such a range of different looks going on in the competition room. Some makeup artists went for realism, like Kat, and some took it to the other (far) end of the spectrum with stilettos in eyeballs or shards of glass sticking out of the model’s skin.

Kat’s overall look was incredible. It showed how I was trampled during the people’s rush to the banks, hence the huge bruising to one side of my face. It looks bloody painful, right!?

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Ouch…

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Didn’t she do such a good job!? If you want to have a look at her makeup artist Facebook page, you can click here! She posts all of her makeup work – from beauty makeup to special effects – on this page, so it’s definitely worth a like.

What do you think of the final look?

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My Year in Review #3/3 | Photographs

They say a picture speaks a thousand words… Throughout 2016, I took over 5,000 of them.

Despite how overwhelmingly rubbish this year was, when I look back on all of these beautiful photographs, I can’t help but feel thankful that some good came out of it. I saw some wonderful things, I made a lot of life-long memories and I grew hugely as a person. Yes, a lot of these memories were made as a way to distract myself from the big black dog but that doesn’t make those memories any less important!

So, to recognise all of the good that came from this year, I’m going to focus on those best bits in my final instalment of ‘my year in review’.

Here’s my best bits of 2016, summarised in photographs!

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Happy new year to all of my lovely followers, friends and family. 

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Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

My Year in Review #2/3 | Books and Films

Last year, during my first installment of ‘my year in review’, I was going through a huge book dragon phase. I spent a lot of free time with a book in hand, a cup of tea in the other and a kitten on my lap – as you can imagine, those were delightful months.

This year, I only read 5 books… I know I shouldn’t be, because I had way more important things going on, but I’m pretty embarrassed about it! I absolutely love reading and I would consider myself pretty well read, but 5 books!? Outrageous (okay, not that far, but you catch my drift). So, instead of simply having a look back on what I read, I’m going to briefly review my year through film and books.

My Year in Review 2016 TV Film and Books

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Books:

What books did I read in 2016?

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  • Fear of Falling by S.L. Jennings
  • The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Random Riggs

My favourite read:

This is really tough. On my Goodreads, I gave The Sense of an Ending, The Girl with all the Gifts and Miss Peregrine’s House for Peculiar Children all 5/5 stars. They were absolutely incredible, completely unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

The Sense of an Ending left me speechless for a very long time. It made me think about life, time and mostly about memory – it’s not something you consider a lot, but our memories are very fragile and can quite easily be manipulated by time. The Girl with all the Gifts was one of the best books I’ve ever read and it left me completely in awe of the author’s talent. It was ridiculously clever – a lot of real-life science was kind of flipped on it’s side to create the whole “what if?” With a completely unexpected final twist, I would read this again in a heartbeat. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was really wonderful too. It was on my to-read list for a very long time and it did not disappoint. The characters and the use of time were definitely highlights for me. I didn’t actually know it was part of a series, but there you go! I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Fear of Falling was a bit of fun, a bit of trashy writing but enjoyable. You know the type. However, I was a little disappointment with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I think I read it when I was very, very young so I counted my recent read of the book as my first time. It was not how I remembered it at all. I’m completely invested and in love with Lewis Carroll’s universe and everything Alice related will be forever loved, but the book itself left me a little deflated. Of course, Carroll’s writing and whimsy is absolutely beautiful, I just wanted more.

Full book reviews: 

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Film:

Total number of new films watched: 26 (half of which were watched over the Christmas period!)

Highest rated films: 

  • X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
  • Chicago (2002)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)
  • Skyfall (2012)

Lowest rated films: 

Sausage Party (2016) – This was one of the worst films that I have ever seen. It was stupid and not remotely funny. I kid you not there was a full on animated food orgy to end this disaster of a film. Just… what…

Suicide Squad (2016) – So much potential, yet such a disappointment. The director could quite easily have been replaced with an A-level film student with a handout of $175,000,000 and the differences would be minimal.

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Special mention: HBO’s Westworld (2016) was one of the most extraordinary pieces of television I’ve ever seen. I’m finding it hard to put the series into words, so I highly recommend any sci-fi fans to just watch it. You will not be disappointed.

Considering the year I had, that’s a pretty good haul of books and films! I read some absolutely incredible novels and I even reignited my huge (and pretty sentimental) love for film. That sounds like a good thing to me.

What was the best book you read this year? Did you watch any great films?

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My Year in Review #1/3 | The Blog

My friends, it’s so good to be back. It’s been a while. Did you miss me? I properly missed you, all of you.

I’m not going to coo about how unbelievable it is that it’s been a whole year already because, frankly, this year feels like it lasted an absolute lifetime. As I’ve told you, repeatedly, this has been the worst, most soul-destroying year of my life and I can’t believe I’m still around to see the back of it – honestly, it was touch and go for a long time. But, I made it. I’m here and we can all kiss this disaster of a year goodbye in just one more day. Hopefully, that black hole of negativity that I’ve been waving around will disappear too.

I know, I know, the passing of one more day won’t actually make a massive difference in any literal way. It’s just another day, after all. For me, though, it’s more of a symbolic passing. Au revoir, you arse.

Anyway, despite the little amount of time I’ve spent around my lovely little blog this year, it still means so much to me. I’m hoping that 2017 will reignite the love I have for writing and socialising with the wonderful people I’ve met during my time as a blogger, because that’s something I miss for sure.

So, what did my blog accomplish throughout 2016?

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Blogging Stats:

Total number of posts published in 2016: 156 – considering it feels like I wasn’t around an awful lot, that’s not bad!

Total number of followers overall: 465 – I didn’t reach my goal of 500 WordPress followers, but I did reach over 650 followers on Twitter which was an unexpected delight.

Total number of unique views in 2016: 16,933

My Year in Review | The blog

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Best Posts:

Statistically, my most popular posts of 2016 were:

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Blogging Goals for 2017:

Post regularly: This year was a bit of a mess for my blog, and if I have any regular readers left I’ll be flabbergasted (how wonderful is that word?). I’d love to begin posting regularly again and, hopefully, planning my posts more efficiently will help with this!

Interact with my readers more: I failed so bad with interaction, especially during the second half of the year. I miss you all, and I can’t wait to see what you’ve all been writing about.

Read more blog posts from other bloggers, old and new: I haven’t read somebody else’s blog post in a very long time (apart from the odd one that catches my eye on Twitter). Sitting down and reading my friends’ posts used to be an important part of my blogging setup, so I can’t wait to get stuck back in.

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Do you have any personal goals for your blog in 2017?

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Getting Festive in the Studio

Can you believe that it’s the first of December? I still don’t have my Christmas decorations up and I don’t actually see it happening any time soon. For someone who normally has their Christmas decorations up in the first week of November, this is a bit of a big deal!

Despite the lack of festivities in my personal life, my photography studio been been regularly bringing a snippet of Christmas Day into my home.

Recently, I had the sweetest little elf visit for a Christmas photo-shoot, and once you see his little smile, you won’t blame me for wanting to share these with you. With his little pointy ears, his festive cheer and his childish wonder, he brightened up my home. I admit, I did feel a festive twinkle whilst photographing this beautiful baby in his little elf outfit. I’m only human!

The Rose Quartz Photography Christmas PhotoshootThe Rose Quartz Photography Christmas Photoshoot

Once he left and the Christmas props had been packed away, however, all signs of Christmas cheer vanished into thin air and the reminder that Christmas is almost upon us made me cringe. I promise, I’m not always this much of a Grinch. This year has been tough – really, unforgettably tough – so mustering up a bit of happiness for something that 2016 has to offer me is proving a lot harder than I thought it would!

The solution: lots of Christmas photo-shoots!

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Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills