29 Oct 2015

a letter to my 18 year old self, from my 25 y.o. self

My 25th birthday has now come and gone and I definitely feel like I'm still learning about what life is all about. Therefore, I decided this would be a good time to write a letter to my 18 year old (more naive) self.

So, you're 18 now. That means you'll be starting university soon. University won't be how you imagine it to be: you won't meet 'the one' but you will meet some amazing friends who you'll be friends with for life. You won't enjoy clubbing and that's fine as you'll meet others who feel the same way. And even though you're studying an academic subject, you'll always have that niggling feeling that you're not doing quite what you'd like to be. And that's ok too - things will work out in the end; life's funny like that.

You've come a long way from being the girl who grew up in Scotland and then the midlands of England. Throwing yourself into the heart of London is an achievement in itself and something that you never had second thoughts about: keep this fearlessness as it'll definitely come in handy in the future.

You'll change as a person (for the better) and it'll be a gradual change. They call it maturing and you'll do plenty of that in your three years at university. You'll play more than you worked but that's ok too - you'll get the chance to do university again where you can make up for this.

A lot of unplanned things will happen in the next seven years and although some of them will knock you back a little, you always find a way to pick yourself up. That's because you have amazing friends and family who are there for you every step of the way. Life is unpredictable and you can plan all you like and overthink things all you like, it will always stay this way.

You think you'll have your life sorted by 25 and let me tell you this now: you won't but that's ok. And you'll meet many others who won't have everything sorted by 25 too so you won't be the only one. You'll be just over halfway through medschool but you're doing something you love and that's the one thing that matters the most.

* * *

Have you ever done this on your own blog or in your journal? I use futureme.org to write letters to my future self and it's surprising to read back to see what was important to me a few years ago. Priorities change and I've also changed a lot as a person if those letters are anything to go by!

27 Oct 2015

september and october book reviews: the a list, through a glass darkly, love from paris

Another two months have passed where I've been reading, reading and reading. Most of this reading has been university-related but I still found time to read for pleasure. This time, my completed books are quite a mix...

The A-List by Zoey Dean

The A-List is the first in a series of novels about a group of well-off high school students in Beverley Hills. Think Gossip Girl but set on the West Coast. This review encompasses the first six books in this series (The A List, Girls on Film, Blonde Ambition, Tall Cool One, Back in Black and Some Like It Hot).
Image Credit: Goodreads

I (surprisingly) found myself enjoying the books I read in this series! Everything about the description, the cover and the premise should've had me running for the hills but they were such easy, summery reads (I read them in late August/September), that I didn't mind that the characters were all a bit one-dimensional, the plot a bit predictable (rich, over-privileged teenagers obsessed with their bodies, boys and social hierarchy) and that the setting was completely stereotypical.

Definitely more of a summer read and probably won't be as good when the nights are dark and cold. As a result, it gets a 5.5/10 for me. I must add that I don't think I'm the target age for this series though and that may have influenced my opinion of it! I still have four of the series to read but I think I will leave them for a later time when I fancy a lighter read.

Through A Glass Darkly by Jostein Gaarder

"It's almost Christmas. Cecilia lies sick in bed as her family bustle around her to make her last Christmas as special as possible. Cecilia has cancer. An angel steps through her window. So begins a spirited and engaging series of conversations between Cecelia and her angel. As the sick girl thinks about her life and prepares for her death, she changes subtly, in herself and in her relationships with her family."

I went from reading The A-List to reading something a bit more stimulating in Through A Glass Darkly by Jostein Gaarder, an author I had discovered in my teens.

Although the blurb makes it sound like quite a morbid book, I thought it did a good job of discussing death in a philosophical and thought-provoking way. The repeated visits by an angel allowed the reader to consider what death really means while at the same time, reading the thoughts of Cecilia. My favourite quote from this book is as follows:

'We see everything in a glass, darkly. Sometimes we can peer through the glass and catch a glimpse of what is on the other side. If we were to polish the glass clean, we'd see much more. But then we would no longer see ourselves... All stars fall at some time. But a star is only a tiny spark from the great beacon in the sky.'

Through A Glass Darkly isn't a long book - it only has 154 pages - but it is 154 pages of prose that will make you think about what the meaning of life is and also what death is too. I'm not saying you'll find out the meaning of life by reading this book but it'll definitely make you consider what life means to you. Overall, 9/10.

Love From Paris by Alexandra Potter

"How far would you go for love?

When new boyfriend Jack stands her up at the airport, Ruby Miller dries her tears, jumps on the Eurostar and heads to Paris. She thinks she's going there to visit an old friend and have a total break from romance. But the City of Love has other ideas.

A locked apartment where time has stood still, a bundle of long-lost love letters and a flirtatious French lawyer sweep Ruby into a mystery that spans three-quarters of a century. Who is the author of the letters? Why did the owner of the apartment close up the shutters and flee Paris before the war? And what secret was she hiding?

As the mystery deepens, Ruby turns love detective but it's not long before the ghosts of the past throw her own love affair into jeopardy."

I didn't realise that this book was a part of a sequel until I got to the end! However, it works as a stand-alone book anyway as Alexandra Potter sets the scene very well at the beginning.

Honestly, Love From Paris is a very good read - the pace is good and the plot made me want to carry on reading late into the night. It's a definite page-turner and the mystery of the love letters and apartment made me eager to find out if my own theory was right. I liked Ruby but I wasn't overly fond of Jack as he played such a tiny role within the plot that it made me wonder if his character was even necessary at all.

Overall, a solid 7/10 from me. A great plot marred by a few irrelevant characters and chapters.

25 Oct 2015

my week #184

This week was the start of two things: a new placement of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the start of my brace treatment. I've opted to go for adult braces or 'six month smiles' and they went on on Friday. My teeth feel a bit sore and I'm on a purée/liquid diet for the time being but I'm staying focussed on the potential end result.

How has your week been?

22 Oct 2015

introducing: daily listing/journaling in november #paperlovestory30days

In the past, I've seen other blogs do a '30 days of lists' challenge or something similar. In November, I'm going to try and journal once daily and what better way through making a list a day? Though in my case, I might do a list one day and then a journal entry the next - the point is, these are prompts :)

I decided to make a 30-day challenge where there are thirty prompts and here they are! Feel free to join in and use the hashtag #paperlovestory30days so that I can search for your lists on Twitter and Instagram :) It's lovely seeing other people's lists. Feel free to re-post the image on Instagram too (I'll be posting it on my account too at some stage) :)

Just to clarify: number 6 includes singers, bands, stand-up comedians, etc, hence the word 'artists'. How you choose to list or journal is your choice - prose, short lists, bullet points; they all count. The main thing is to put pen to paper.

Will you be joining me on this list challenge? Let me know so I can follow you and see what you put on your lists!  Leave me a comment/tag me on Twitter or Instagram :)

20 Oct 2015

25 things I've done before 25

All too often, we make plans about what we want to achieve in the future and I'm definitely guilty of this: '101 things in 1001 days', '30 before 30' and so on - these are just two of the lists I've got going about what I want to achieve in the next few years.

However, today, I thought I'd talk about 25 things I have managed to get done before turning 25. I turn 25 in a few days' time (unbelievable because I still feel about 18/19 mentally) so this is the perfect time to reflect.


1. I finished high school with top grades in the three A-Levels I did.
2. Graduated from university with a degree in Biochemistry.
3. Made it to medschool in 2013 (at the old age of 22!).
4. Made it halfway through medschool.
5. Realised that although a doctor's pay is pitiful compared to hours and responsibility, I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.


6. Kept this blog going for over five years...!
7. Done NaNoWriMo (and although it definitely isn't publishable, it was an experience).

Sports and Hobbies

8. Read a ridiculous number of books.
9. Played netball to a high level.
10. Saw George Ezra play live (earlier this year) and it was amazing.
11. Saw McBusted in concert at the O2 in 2014 - two of the bands I loved in my early teens!


12. Earned £1,000 for three weeks of work during a one-month summer break. (Not much, but I worked hard for it!)
13. Worked part-time alongside medschool so far.


14. Have lived in London since I was 18 years old and spent two years in South Kensington - something I never thought I'd ever be able to say!
15. Made some amazing friends during these two degrees and am constantly making more.
16. Got through some really hard times (emotionally, physically and mentally) and have come out of them all stronger.
17. Went gluten free as recommended by a doctor and have felt so much better as a result.
18. Have kept up writing in journals since I was 14.


19. Travelled on my own.
20. Spent Christmas in Hong Kong for the first time in over ten years (2013).
21. Passed my driving test first time.
22. And I now have seven years of driving experience (how did that even happen...)


23. Have never failed a test (fingers crossed this record continues!).
24. Did the whole Wimbledon experience of queuing up and then spending a day there.
25. Haven't figured out the meaning of life but I have a good idea of what the meaning of life means to me :)

* *

What have you achieved before an age milestone? :) It's always nice to think back and write down the things you have done because it just motivates you that bit more to continue creating memories that will last a lifetime.

18 Oct 2015

my week #183

There's a dreadful cold going around at the moment and I seem to have fallen victim to it during this week so I've spent this weekend sniffling and coughing. As a result, my week is actually quite boring and coupled with the fact that I've had a piece of coursework due on Friday, most of my time was spent refining that.

In terms of my planner, I'm really loving this Rifle Paper Co diary. Sit tight for a post on how it's set up before the end of this year.

How has your week been?

15 Oct 2015

how my desk looks during a study session

Originally, I wanted to show how my desk was organised (at its tidiest) but that's not an accurate representation of how it looks when functional. So, today, I thought I'd share how my desk looked on the Sunday just gone (because I usually take Saturdays off when it comes to studying).

Allow me to explain the contents:

Top Left Quadrant 
You can see my bunny bookshelves there (courtesy of the children's section from Marks and Spencer's!) which sandwich my journal, Rifle paper planner, my Seize the Day journal and two other notebooks.

Just below that are some post-it notes, a stick of Burt's Bees lip balm and some other girly items (such as hand cream, tweezers and a pocket mirror).

I also have snacks at the ready here in the corner (both visible in the form of clementines, dark chocolate, mints and some ginger sweets in the fox ceramic pot).

The cream paper is just one side of the (almost ninety pages of) learning objectives I need to get through before the end of this academic year. Ominous times but I'm getting through them at a good pace so I'm hopeful they will all be done and learnt by exam time.

Top Right Quadrant
Some more post-it notes of various sizes reside here, pens, a learning resource on vaginal examinations (in preparation for my Obstetrics and Gynaecology placement) and some facial moisturiser (no idea what this is doing on my desk if I'm honest). My daily to-do list resides on one of these post-it notes too and at the end of the day, tasks that still need doing are transferred to a new list with the old one thrown away.

Lower Left Quadrant
Here you'll find a notebook from first year (after all, things learnt back then are still important now) and a textbook on Orthopaedics and Rheumatology.

Lower Right Quadrant
Again, nothing much here aside from my A4 Oxford notebook and my computer mouse.

I try and combine textual resources with online resources whenever possible which is why my computer is on during these study sessions. Another thing I like to have in the background is some instrumental or soothing music (Sleeping At Last is my current favourite) and sometimes, a candle will also be lit, especially if it's nearing bedtime.

Overall, my desk is a mess during these sessions but it gets tidied at the end of each day.

How does your desk look when used productively? Are there any items you need on your desk at these times?

13 Oct 2015

introducing the platinum 3776 Century 'Nice' Fountain Pen in a fine nib

Earlier this month, I talked about luxury journaling with Pen Heaven and you might have seen a pen that I've never mentioned before. That pen is the Platinum 3776 Century Nice fountain pen in a fine nib and it is one beautiful pen. 

The pen comes in a lovely white presentation box, a blue ink cartridge and also a converter. There is also a little leaflet included about the inspiration behind the pen and its design.

When I opened the box and saw the pen, my first thought was 'wow' - it really is beautiful in an understated way. The frosted barrel and the rose gold complement each other wonderfully and though I get that this combination won't be to everyone's taste, it definitely appeals to me. 

What's this? A 14k rose gold nib with a heart-shaped breather hole? To me, this pen is quite a 'romantic' one and these features just back that up. In my opinion, the overall design is quite feminine and sophisticated.

The nib you see here is a fine one and I've included four images of notes I had taken using this pen. The ink you see is the Platinum ink cartridge supplied with the pen and I really like the blue-black colour, so much so that when my shopping ban ends in just over two weeks' time, it might just be my first purchase. (Though I'd already broken it when I bought some Diamine ink for my converter once this cartridge ran out.)

This pen is a pleasure to use - the weight of the pen is even when the cap is posted and the nib writes like a dream with no feedback in my experience. It writes ridiculously smoothly and the barrel feels good in my hands. 

Honestly, this and my Pilot Vanishing Point are my two favourite fountain pens in my modest collection and I've found myself reaching for one or the other in my recent note-making sessions. If you're after a pen that looks good but also writes very well, this may be an option for you. 

Here are other reviews of this fountain pen: Ed Jelley, tinysnail at Fountain Pen Network and Inkophile.

Note: Although I was provided this pen free of charge, I have tried my best to review it as if I had paid for it. Thank you, Lucie at Witt Herring for giving me the chance to work with Pen Heaven.

11 Oct 2015

my week #182

This is my penultimate week on psychiatry and though I found it all very interesting, I'm quite certain it isn't a career path I envisage myself going down in the future. One thing I will miss are that ward rounds involve sofas or chairs and don't last five or six hours. I go onto Obstetrics and Gynaecology next - a specialty that I've been considering even before commencing medical school so I'm quite excited!

My planner is quite plain this week and I really like how it looks. This is mainly down to the fact that it's function over form now as I don't have the time to add in stickers or washi (both of which are now reserved mainly for my journal).

How has your week been?

8 Oct 2015

my study week #5 feat. a leuchtturm 1917 notebook

Last academic year, I talked about this Leuchtturm 1917 notebook I used for my revision notes. Today, I'm going to give you all another little peek into a selection of notes from it. I found that although it held all of the notes for that year's learning objectives, there were still some free pages towards the back. Instead of filling these with nonsense, I went over some bits that weren't covered very well that year and stuff that may come in useful for this academic year or the next.

As you can see, I've still used colour - Muji gel pens and Zebra Mildliner highlighters provide the colour and a Muji retractable gel pen provides the blue text. I've also used coloured post-it notes (in the next picture) to help with learning about the different bacterial organisms and their shapes under a microscope and whether they were gram positive or negative.

Until next time! Hope you enjoyed this extra glimpse into this notebook :)

6 Oct 2015

a fine line between personal life and blog life

Paper Lovestory has been going for over five years now and it is the longest I've ever blogged for. When I first started, I wasn't too worried about revealing personal information because I didn't think many people would be that interested in what I had to say! But as time as passed, I've had to be more careful with how much and what aspects of my personal life is talked about. You may have already noticed that fair bit in my weekly planner pages is blurred out but I am also wary of talking about the more private parts of my life in too much detail.

However, running a lifestyle blog without revealing some of the more personal bits of information isn't technically a lifestyle blog anymore. So where do we draw the line?

At the moment, I'm unsure. I feel that I reveal enough to be comfortable with the majority of the content I post but at the same time, I'm sure I could also reveal a bit more without compromising the 'boundaries' of my personal life.

Do you blog? If so, where do you stand on this? If you don't, what's your opinion of it as a reader? :)

4 Oct 2015

my week #181

Quite a plain week as I've been running myself ragged after staying at home ill on Monday! I'm not 100% yet but I've just got on with things as I won't let my apparent lack of immune system be a barrier to my studies.

October is also World Mental Health month (with October 10th being World Mental Health Day) and as I'm on psychiatry placement, I thought it would be fitting to say a few sentences about it. Increasing awareness of mental illness isn't a bad thing by any means - we all react differently to something as trivial as a film or a book so there's no reason to suspect that the same can occur with life events. And there's nothing wrong with that - we are all wired differently! We must all be more accepting of this. We strive for equality in things like race, gender and sexuality so there's no reason why we can't ask the same for mental illness - for it to be seen in the same and non-judgemental way as physical illness.

Quite fittingly, I blogged about journaling earlier this week and for me, journaling is a way I keep my mental health in check. This week, I wrote extensive entries twice after two harrowing days and without doing all that, I'm not sure I would've slept as well as I did.

How has your week been?

1 Oct 2015

luxury journalling with pen heaven

Journaling is something I've done since I was in my early teens but how I've done it has changed considerably over the years.

Over the years, I've changed a lot as a person and sometimes, it's nice to read old journals to see just how much (or little!) I've matured and how my priorities have altered after significant life events. I'm at the point now where I see journaling as something I actually set time aside for rather than do when there are a spare fifteen minutes.

In the past, I'd opt for a simple and plain journal but now that I take it a bit more seriously, I do try and add a bit of luxury to my (at least) weekly sessions. When Pen Heaven got in touch and asked if I'd be interested in writing about journaling, who was I to say no? They kindly embossed the Amalfi Large Leather Journal with my initials for me and you'll see it pictured below with a Platinum Century 3776 Nice fountain pen (more on that in another blog post!). When they arrived, they were beautifully gift-wrapped - how perfect would this be as a Christmas or birthday present for someone who has a soft spot for stationery?

The journal cover is a smooth, but not overly shiny, leather with the lining a soft suede. Inside, the paper is thick and plain and appears to take fountain pen very well (see below) though it isn't as smooth as Rhodia paper, for example. That said, the cream hue of the paper gives off a sophisticated air and I definitely feel very grown up when writing in it. The lovely leather tie can be manipulated into a bow if you so wish too.

I thought that I'd write more about journaling in the journal itself and you can read my, handwritten, thoughts on it all in the photo above. Writing down the things that take up precious real estate in my brain have been invaluable during my time at medical school so far - sometimes, I'll come home from a long day on placement and feel quite overwhelmed by something that had happened or something I had seen. Getting it all out on paper helps me relieve that burden without having to talk someone else's ear off or inadvertently cause them to also feel that emotional burden.

Even at this early stage in my career, I know that psychiatry isn't something I'd be interested in but I am a strong advocate for looking after your own mental health. For me, one way to do this is to journal on a regular basis and I'm sure this luxurious Amalfi journal will play host to many more emotional thoughts in the foreseeable future. 

Note: Thank you to Lucie from Witt Herring for supplying these samples for this blog post. Although I was sent these items free of charge, I have talked about them in the same way I would if I had paid for them.