Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson- Review

Back with another book review!

In my review of Dolly Alderton’s, Everything I know About Love I wrote that the review was a long time coming because I had finished the book a month beforehand. Well, I finished this book in January so this review really IS a long time coming.

Diving straight in- I actually really enjoyed this book! I was a little unconvinced about it from the blurb, it didn’t really seem like my kind of book but I was proved wrong. I picked it up in the first place because my sister got me a scratch off book bucket list poster for my birthday a couple years ago and I’ve been slowly making my way through it, and this book was on it.

However, I soon got into the book- Bill Bryson’s way of writing is really funny. I actually laughed out loud which for me, is a rarity. The writing itself is very informal and relaxed, it’s very easy to read and it feels like he is just talking casually to his readers. The way in which the story is told is also very similar to that of a stand up-comedian, he’ll start with the main point and then break off into other little funny tid-bits. Also, his way of writing perfectly encapsulates British people and British humour. Not much happens in the book, it’s basically a book of people-watching, but if you enjoy sarcasm and dry humour you would really enjoy this book.

A wonder I have about this book is that I don’t see this book appealing much to anyone outside the UK who don’t really care about the British(…which is probably a lot). Not only would the humour possibly fall victim to being misunderstood and misconstrued, England doesn’t really come across as that appealing either. I know that Bill has written this book entirely out of his love for this weird England but that love mostly seems to be because of how awkward British people are, and I can’t imagine people being interested unless they’re British themselves. I read this book because I was interested to see what Bill wrote about England and as much as I enjoyed the book, it revealed to me that we are basically a country of dying high-streets (but all with our staple Boots and WHSmiths) so there’s not a lot to take away from it.

Anyway, it’s a nice easy read, perfect for reading on holiday – would recommend! (Now onto my next review of Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel which is a whole different story…)

Happy reading!

Hannah 🙂


How to Stay Motivated And Productive Over The Easter Break

Dear students, Happy Easter! We hope you’re enjoying your well-earnt break…but also don’t forget to revise!”. The Easter holidays can be hard with exams looming and all the distractions of home comforts, family, friends and…Netflix. I mean, c’mon we just want a break! With all these distractions, it can be really hard to stay motivated to revise when you’re back at home, but unfortunately, it’s got to be done. Here are some useful tips to stay motivated and productive over the Easter break, whilst still enjoying all the advantages of home…’

To read the rest of the article, follow this link! You can also read the last article I wrote for the GRB about productivity upgrades to your university routine here.

Thank you for reading and supporting, I hope you can take something useful away from the article.

Hannah x

What Are Students at University of Southampton Like?

Well guys,

I did plan to do this with my housemates first and spill the tea on Exeter (Exetah) students, but it’s Easter now and all my housemates are miles away.

BUT I am still in close vicinity with a real life student from Southampton, so welcome to an interview with a student from Southampton University who will be giving an insight into what the university is like. She’s the real cream of the crop, all round alright person and her housemates quite like her, its my…sister. Fun!

Tell the people a little bit abut yourself: Um, my name is Olivia, I take Bsc MORSE (Maths, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics). I like to do art in my spare time and I’m basically your average girl. I drink Strongbow Dark Fruit.

Why did you apply to Southampton?- Because, *sigh* um, because, um because I wanted to do MORSE but I didn’t think I was smart enough to get into Warwick and it seemed like a nice university from when I went to visit it.

What did you expect before you went to Southampton?- I just thought it would be really cool, meet some new nice people. I thought there would be a little beach that I could go down to every other weekend and I’d be shopping in West Quay frequently and be part of many societies, but ALAS.

What societies are you part of and what do you enjoy about them?- So I’m part of the art society and I enjoy that because it gives me time away from my house and I can sit down, chill out and be creative. I’m also part of the sign language society and we meet every week to learn new signs. I’ve got a jumper to prove that I go. And yeah, it’s cool. That’s about it really.

What is your opinion on Brexit?- *Nervous laughter* Why would you put that in? Is Southampton mean’ t to have changed my opinion on it? No, I just want to know if Southampton students are interested in Brexit or talk about it a lot. Uh, no we don’t discuss it in our house because we all disagreed with each other about signing Article 50. I think it’s been a complete mess and a lot of money has been wasted.

Is there an expectation to drink at university?- No, not really, even though I’ve encountered people who have pressured me to drink, that’s not what Southampton is really about. There are loads of opportunities to go out and drink or to just chill out with your friends and have a good time in an environment that will have nothing to do with drinking.

Are there any stereotypes about the students that go to University of Southampton?- Um, not really. Not that I can think of.

And finally, what would say about Southampton now that you’ve been there a couple of years?- Where do I start? I would say that there’s only four places to go, your home, university, Sainsburys and West Quay. Everyone turned out to be basic and from Surrey, no one one from the west country. People I’ve met at uni have been really great, but there is something about it that suggests Southampton doesn’t have its shit together. A lot of people only seem to be posh twats who take Engineering.Would you recommend the University of Southampton to someone looking into going?- To certain types of people yes. If you enjoy a slightly run down sort of lifestyle (can I just say that most students live a kind of run down lifestyle). I’ve enjoyed my degree though.

Well, thank you very much for being on my blog Liv and enlightening the readers a little bit about what it’s like to attend University of Southampton.

I am honoured to have been on the blog.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton- Review

Okay, so I did finish this book about a month ago but I wanted to put up my 100th post special and see the ‘Everything I Know About Love’ live show before I wrote this post so it’s been a while but I had to share my thoughts on this book!

Long story short, its amazing and you should definitely read it.

Okay, so long story long, my mum told me she was sending me a present but wouldn’t tell me what it was and then this book turned up (thanks mum) and I read the title and I just thought, ‘haha, FUNNY’, because I thought from an initial impression of the title, it was a book about how to be successful in relationships. Well, it is so much more than that, in fact it’s probably more about being unsuccessful in relationships (sorry Dolly).

This book is Dolly Alderton’s memoir and it follows her life from teenager years to turning 30 (new chapter in her paperback version) and it tell’s you everything she learns about love throughout those years but the main story running throughout the novel isn’t about a man, but about her friendships and that is one of the reason’s it’s so magical. (Because life isn’t all sunshine and roses and happy relationships.) There is really so much you can take from this book, Dolly talks a lot about self-love and her journey to accepting that you have to put yourself first sometimes which is something I think anyone could enjoy and benefit from reading. After I finished it I made two of my friends and my sister read it and they all took something different away from it. For me , one thing is that it’s made me think about my friendships at uni and to cherish (ew) them more because soon we won’t be living together anymore and I’ll won’t be able to mess around with my annoying (but great! Really topnotch.) housemates anymore.

Not only is what Dolly writes about wonderful but I also loved how it’s written; I have honestly never laughed more out loud at a book. I heard my friends laughing as they read it too and then I would dash over and demand to know what they were laughing at so I could join in with the joyous moment. The way in which Dolly narrates is like she’s talking to a friend, which I appreciated as a reader and as a viewer of her show. I really wanted to go to her live show to see what she was like in real life and to hear her talk because the book was so funny, but I was also a little sceptical about the concept of the show and I wondered if the show would seem a little scripted and unnatural? But no, Dolly and her friend Lauren chatted away, and to the audience too, in the same natural, funny manner the book is written and it was a brilliant show. Sadly I cant recommend that you see it as it was her last show of the tour, but if she goes on tour again, definitely go! (And then afterwards I met her and got my book signed and it was the best thing ever.) (I mean, I couldn’t not mention that.)

So, if you can get your hands on a copy, read it! It will teach you so much and it will definitely make you laugh.

Until next time,


I Interviewed My Housemates About Living Together…

MY 100TH post is here.

For such a special occasion, I thought I should mark it with a special post and as I’ve written on this blog many times about what it’s like at uni ,and given my side of the story, I thought it would only be fair to get my flatmates side of things, so I interviewed them. And opinions have been shared.

But before I get to the questions and the tea that was spilt, let me introduce them first:

Hannah O (HO)– Yes, I ended up with a housemate also called Hannah. Hahaha! Its brilliant. She shall be referred to as HO for Helpful Orange.

Becky (B)– The embodiment of any girl studying at Exeter, basic and likes going out. (But in a nice way Becky, love you!)

Tori(T)– When we started uni, Tori went through a phase of having a yorkshire pudding after every night out- it made her VERY memorable.

Emily(E)– Emily plays cricket. Also I think she thinks we’re all pretty stupid.

Abby (A)– Abby rows (so is very busy! and is a wise and calm influence around the house.

Saffron (S)*– Saff is the hardest partier in our house, yet is also managing to not fail her degree – she is the ultimate uni student.

Hannah V (Me)– I’m the odd one. Also the one writing this blog post (Hello.)

*Saff will be absent from this interview. Despite asking repeatedly for her answers, she hasn’t given them to me because she’s too busy romancing a fresher.

What was your first impression of everyone when we met for the first time?

HO: Hannah- who? Tori was the one from Essex, Becky was loud and annoying, Saff didn’t like snike, Emily was a lot shorter when we first met (Emily and Hannah went to the same school), Abby was tall and lovely.

B: Hannah was fun and had good banter (this is a win for past, socially awkward me.) Tori was normal(?) Saff was intimidating and unexpected. Emily was talkative and friendly,Abby was friendly and lovely, HO was quiet and moody, not a massive fan.

T: Hannah stood up for herself, liked banter and didn’t like me (this is not true, I loved Tori!), Becky was the ringleader, worried about keeping conversation flowing and if she was popular. Saff was scary and intimidating and had a TATTOO. Emily was chatty, sensitive and chameleon-like. Abby was quiet and kind. HO- I don’t know her, Mariah Carey

E:Hannah I thought didn’t like me (also not true!), Becky was the centre of attention, Tori was a dancer, Saff was scary, Abby was strong and HO I already knew.

A: Hannah was opinionated and slightly scary (sigh), Becky was bubbly and the ‘mum’ of the group (Becky did adopt a natural mum persona for a day, and then freshers week happened and it became obvious that this was not a suitable role.) Tori was quiet and studious, Emily was slightly girly and sporty, Saff was mad and HO was calm and funny.

Me: When Becky suggested at four o’clock on our first day that we start drinking to ease the awkwardness, I began to inwardly questioning my housemates.

What is one thing you do in the house that no one knows about?

HO: Play chicken goggles in the bathroom mirror whilst wearing Saff’s unicorn head and eating some bread. (I will offer no explanation for this, however I will say that this is very on brand for HO.)

B: There is literally nothing that I do that you guys don’t know about, sorry. (That is true, Becky can keep nothing quiet.)

T: Contrary to popular belief, I actually do work sometimes.

E: Can’t think of something you don’t already know.

A: The karaoke sesh is totally worth it (sorry em if you hear it through the wall).

Me: One time when I was really bored I hoovered the hallway.

What do you love most about our house?

HO: The endless supply of free food in the kitchen.

B:The light up tree decorations in the lounge, the double beds and our ‘cosy’ lamp.

T: The shower is the perfect temperature and pressure.

E: I love how much we laugh together.

A: The atmosphere when everyone’s hanging out in the lounge.

Me: I’ve found slug trails in the kitchen, but no actual slugs. I like the mystery of this.

I also asked what everyone hated most about the house but it would be a lot quicker if I just summarise everyone’s answers into: everything.

And finally, what do you love/hate most about each other?

HO: I love everyone’s sense of humour and I hate the mess.

B: I love when we all chill together and that everyone mostly gets along. I HATE that SOME people don’t EVER take the bins out and just don’t EVER make any EFFORT. (This answer has definitely not been embellished for dramatic effect and is definitely how Becky would say it.)

T: These people are some of my bestmates and I love being around them and that they help me grow as a person. I don’t like that some people seem to think I don’t pull my weight with cleaning, when I do more than people think!

E: Hannah, I love your mug collection (although also respects my wish to not use my mugs all the time, thank you Emily) and I hate nothing! (good answer!)I love that Becky is always smiling and hate that Becky is always ill. HO knows her own mind, yet always guilt trips us about killing the planet. Saff is a constant entertainment source but doesn’t always abide by the kitchen rota. I love Abby’s hugs and hate how she’s always busy. I love Tori’s unashamed ability to sleep through anything, and I don’t like how messy she is.

A: Love the openness and the relaxed vibe we have with each other, hate the two day old mess.

Me: I love that I can count on anyone for a laugh and how supportive everyone is of each other. I hate not being able to sleep because of noise. Especially musicals. Sung by drunk people. In the room next door.

The End.

Thank you to all my housemates for contributing and shedding an honest light on what it’s like living with people at university, hopefully we all like each other the same amount once everyone’s read this post.

Happy Sunday guys!

Hannah x