Saturday, 15 September 2018

4Ocean Bracelet

Last year I was educating myself in cruelty-free beauty and now I've expanded into an eco-friendly life and seeing how I can reduce the amount of plastic and packaging I use in my day to day life. I also try to partake in beach cleanups near me, you can read about my first one here. A friend introduced me to 4Ocean. A company whose goal is to reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean by selling bracelets - yes you read that correctly. Customers can either get one single bracelet or a sign up to a monthly subscription to these bracelets, which are made out of recyclable materials found in the ocean. By purchasing just one bracelet, it allows the company to pull 1lb of rubbish from the sea.

As you can see in the images the bracelet has the 4Ocean logo, a thin adjustable cord which is made from recycled polyester, and recycled glass beads. Each month 4Ocean bring out limited edition bracelets of which they give profits to different charities. For example, at the moment they have a green and yellow bracelet to support Marine Nurseries.

So far there have been 1,144,460 bracelets sold, therefore 1,144,460 pounds has been removed from our oceans.

According to 4Ocean, it's estimated that 16 billions pounds of trash makes its way into the ocean.

They hire crews from around the world to clean up different aspects of the ocean. Over a year ago I was conducting some internet research for a video production company on ocean waste. I hadn't personally seen or heard of how much waste was in the ocean, I had never thought about it before. Until that is, I came across The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. A floating trash island.

The fact that these bracelets are made from materials found in the sea just astounds me. Earlier this year the BBC reported that there were more than 80,000 tonnes of rubbish forming this floating island. This specific area is between Hawaii and California, this rubbish patch is just one of five areas across the planet, but it's by far the largest. The rubbish congregates in areas where strong currents sustain the "island" in strong whirlpools. As well as the literal plastic pollution made up from bottles, containers and the like, these plastics then start to disperse microplastics into the ocean's water.

These items end up here either just by the sea drawing in rubbish from the land, winds depositing plastics, tools and nets used by fishing companies and fisherman, or even via boats which are trying to move recyclable items or rubbish to another continent to be disposed of or recycled. In the past year, China has refused to take in and deal with other countries waste and recycling. This could have an even bigger environmental impact on the UK if we struggle to keep waste out of our environments.

I don't want to bore anyone too much with my preachy environmental views, but my blogger friend Sophie has a whole bunch of informative posts on Environmental Issues and Zero Waste living.

Because I love our planet and nature, I've been making baby steps to try and reduce my contribution to our world's waste. My favourite alternative is reusable coffee cups, you can get aesthetic one's from Primark from £2.50. Using these cups can save you an average of 15p per hot drink from most coffee shops.

Let me know if you'd love to hear about my personal changes to try and be more environmentally friendly, it's something I've been getting very passionate about this year.

Photo credit: Connor Cleary on his Canon 5D Mark iii.

Disclaimer: I purchased this bracelet out of my own money and I've not been sponsored to write about 4Ocean or the topics discussed - I'm just really happy with this product and have a chip on my shoulder about plastic waste.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Victorious Festival | Day 3

Saturday had such lovely weather, but this whole weekend I had to scrutinise the weather forecast to try and wear weather appropriate clothes. Especially as the festival is right by the seafront it's going to be a bit colder and windier.

I had seen that the whole day was supposed to be raining and potentially have up to 40mph winds! Considering how I did not have sensible clothes on Friday when it was raining, there was not a chance I was going to make that mistake again. I had some blisters on my feet from wearing my Doc Martens all day on Saturday, so I layered up with three plasters and three pairs of socks to pad my feet out a bit. I went for doc martins again as they are pretty good in the rain and I've worn them in the snow earlier this year. I decided to wear my Victorious tee from the 2016 festival, my new Victorious hoodie, my coat and a black cap to stop the rain getting in my eyes.

My friend Danielle had told me that the festival team had started to prepare the site for the rain and winds so they had removed some of the flags, the hammocks in the VIP area, the TV screens by the stages had been moved down. The site looked so gloomy when we arrived, puddles of water started to appear around what is Southsea Common and there was barely anyone in the main area, they had all sought shelter or gone home to come back later.

The Sunday line up was ok, but all three acts that I wanted to see were all on at the same time: last performance of the evening on their respective stages. I wanted to see Years and Years (who I've already seen twice - they are amazing by the way), Lucy Spraggan and The Prodigy. As much as I wanted to see Year and Years and Lucy Spraggan, my younger teenage self would never have forgiven me if I passed on The Prodigy.

I wanted to try and catch some different bands throughout the day so I headed down fairly early to try and get some content. The weather was just atrocious. It was raining quite hard and constant and there weren't too many areas to seek shelter and I didn't want to stay out in this weather all day.

I had decided I wanted to get my hair braided as I knew it was going to get wet and thrown all over my face, and I just needed a neat girly hairstyle. Fortunately, I came across the All Out Beauty station, they had different compartments on the ground level where you can get your hair styled and take pictures with instagrammable backgrounds, and upstairs was a VIP viewing area of the festival with more aesthetic decorations.

All of the staff there were in high spirits despite having to sweep water off of the walking areas and their ponchos getting blown in the wind. They were all so lovely and friendly it made up for the horrible weather.

By this time I was soaked through, I bought some yummy warm churros and retreated back home for a nice roast dinner. Then headed back in the evening with Connor for The Prodigy. The band before TP were called Friendly Fires, and after questioning the frontman's (Ed Macfarlane) thrusting and bopping on stage and the crazy fans manoeuvering their bodies in no particular pattern, I was actually really into their vibe. It was upbeat and entertaining, I will definitely be checking out their music and would love to see them again.

We were so excited for The Prodigy to come on, we really wanted to be down in the crowd but Connor had really bad feet from working all weekend and didn't have suitable shoes on <insert eye roll emoji> but at least I could see the stage and all of the festival goers from the VIP area. I love watching the crowd and feeling the vibe from the audience, I soak it all in.

The minute that TP came on stage they completely changed the atmosphere, they had a crazy lighting set up and smoke that clouded over the stage. Maxim, Keith Flint and Liam Howlett were absolutely incredible. They had so much energy that you couldn't help but sing and dance along to all of the classics. They had made some changes to some of the tracks which made it seem more modern - I'm a big fan of a lot of Invaders Must Die tracks.

Out of all the acts I had seen over the weekend, The Prodigy were by far the LOUDEST. I don't know if it was because of the genre or the fact that they were the big headliner for the weekend but it was so great to have to music pulse through you. They were the highlight of the weekend without a doubt. There were so many great acts, but with their performance and the reaction from the crowd it was just unforgettable.

photo credit: Tom Langford

It was an amazing end to the weekend and I loved every second of it - even the rainy parts. I would one hundred percent go back next year. Victorious have got early bird tickets here - including whole weekend tickets!

Did you go to this years festival, or are you interested in next years? I'd love to know in the comments.

Disclaimer: Carousel PR were generous enough to grant me a press pass for the whole weekend at Victorious Festival which included access to the VIP area. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Sunday, 9 September 2018

Victorious Festival | Day 2

Saturday was a beautiful day, and because Connor had to work at the festival filming I invited my lovely friend Charis (as seen above) to explore and be my photographer.

We got to the site early to have a look around and get some photos with no one else around and grabbed a bacon roll from a food truck in the kid's area. There was also a chocolate company called Montezuma's giving out free bars of chocolate which was actually really nice, they have dairy free, gluten free and vegan chocolate bars. I'm a little bit in love with their chocolate and will have to seek out their Chichester store soon!

I love that at festivals there are cute little market stalls, especially as they might have something that you need like Charis needed sunglasses and lots of stalls had them! Plus it's another way to kill some time if you're waiting for an artist.

We survived mostly on the free Coca-Cola cans being given out, they had vanilla, peach and cherry mini cans and you could recycle them back to their area, and if you queued to go inside you could win prizes. Probably the best incentive to recycle cans ever and the vanilla was my favourite.

The Strongbow area were giving out free Dark Fruits ice cream, it was 1.1% alcohol in it so after they ID-ed me I enjoyed my ice cream. I loved how many companies were giving out free food and drink at the festival, I think it's a great way to try new things without having to burn a hole in your pocket.

As it was busier today there were a lot more people about, and I noticed a lot of rubbish just thrown on the floor when there’s plenty of bins. Literally, Victorious organisers had so many bins, recycling bins and even points where you give the cups in to be reused. 

Even in the VIP area a group of people threw all of their cans on the floor and just left about 10-15 cans of rubbish and they pushed crisp packets in between the wooden bench. Myself and Charis helped clean up the area when a litter picker came by.

It was lovely to walk around the full site today and have a look at all of the other food vendors and market stalls that had opened up. I even saw a human fruit machine, I’m not sure what they were promoting but it was hilarious. Lots of families invested in those inflatable sofa things where you have to run around with it to get air in it. Top quality entertainment right there.

There were a lot of younger festival goers today, and a lot more scantily dressed ones. The weather was a lot more suitable for that kind of festival vibe, but some of them looked so young and I saw a lot of bums and boobs.

Today I was most excited to see Gabrielle Aplin and Paloma Faith, I've been fortunate to see both of these artists before and loved them so much I needed to see them again. Gabrielle was on quite early in the way which was a lovely way to compliment her soft voice in the sunshine. I always forget how many of her songs I know, and I enjoyed singing along to Panic Chord, Night Bus and Please Don't Say You Love Me. I made a mental note to add some of my faves to a Spotify playlist.

I ran into some family friends who said I needed to watch the Happy Mondays, which I can say I only know about them because of Shaun Ryder when he was on I'm A Celeb. We didn't have anyone else we wanted to see at this time, so we thought we'd educate ourselves and see what they were like. It was fantastic, maybe not in the way of a good quality performance but one of the band members; Bez was so entertaining. He was playing the "maracas" but you could obviously see he wasn't contributing to the music as he sauntered up and down the stage doing a little mince-type dance and waving the maracas around. Bez absolutely made my day and I was in stitches.

One of my favourite independent restaurants is Pie and Vinyl in Castle Road, Portsmouth. They do amazing pies with all the fixings, it was so good to see them at Victorious. They had changed the names of the pies to have Victorious themed pies, I chose Chick-torious as it's one of my favourites and it's just delicious. They also have options for vegetarians, vegans, gluten free and dairy free food.

photo credit: Tom Langford

The line up for Saturday had a few well-known legends, as well as the Happy Mondays, Victorious also had Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys - with some of the original members, and also Paul Weller from The Jamm. I must admit I didn't know too many of their songs but I love God Only Knows What I'd Be Without You by The Beach Boys and Town Called Malice by the Jamm.

After hearing some of the golden oldies, we moved over to the Castle Stage to see the lovely Paloma Faith. Admittedly, I don't know much of her newer songs but I loved her first two albums. Paloma was wearing a pink patterned A-style cut dress with funky pink glasses - she kind of reminded me of Linda from Gimme Gimme Gimme but it was a good vibe.

photo credit: Tom Langford
I wasn't really into Paloma's performance, it was a bit odd and I know she's a very quirky person but I personally wasn't really enjoying it and it just felt like something was missing? We left after four songs as I wasn't feeling it and we partied our butts off in the Strongbow arena and met with my boyfriend and friend. It was really good to just let loose the dance moves as everyone was having a good time and the DJ set had constant tunes playing. It was a really good way to end the day.

The Saturday was so amazing, it was great to have a bit of sunshine and there was an amazing sunset behind the festival. It's in an amazing setting taking up most of Southsea Common, the D Day Museum, and Southsea Castle.


My Sunday post will be up soon!

All photos taken of me were by my friend Charis on my Canon EOS M10.

Disclaimer: Carousel PR were generous enough to grant me a press pass for the whole weekend at Victorious Festival which included access to the VIP area. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Victorious Festival | Day 1

outfit: denim jacket - cancer research, dress - h&m, sandles - new look

This was my first whole weekend at Victorious Festival, being fairly local this festival is in a really good location and I had attended one day at the 2016 one. It is quite handy that you can go to a festival on your doorstep for no more than £45 a day, but it would be quite handy to release weekend tickets - which Victorious are doing for next year! You can already grab an adult weekend ticket for £80.

I managed to bag myself a press pass for the whole weekend, which included access to the VIP area. And my oh my, did this come in handy to hide from the wind and rain!

The VIP area had hammocks, hay bales, a cute circus tent with loads of seating, unique food vendors who weren't in the main area, massages, face painting, a bar and a viewing area for the main stage. This place was heaven when the weather decided to attack Portsmouth. I chose the wrong outfit of course; a completely summery festival look for anticipated photos. 

I've never paid for a VIP upgrade before but had always wanted to know what it was like, the viewing area was a godsend as it meant that a shorty like me was guaranteed to actually see what was going on! The fancy flushing toilets were such a nice surprise - I've had my fair share of horrible portaloos so this was a sight for sore eyes.

my goofy cute boyfriend
It looks like they’ve expanded their stages from when I went two years ago, there were more places to buy food and drinks from, some cool photographic signs, lots of colourful flags and hilarious Dave signs. 

the common stage
There was a food vendor called Passion and Smoke selling poutine! Which usually you can only get in Canada (I was informed by my lovely new friend Danielle that 7Bone in Guildhall Walk also do it - review opportunity to come) It was really nice but went cold a little too quickly and I’d have liked it if the cheese curd had completely melted but it was still goooood. They also had seasoned the fries which tasted lovely.

poutine on the right and delicious churros on the left
We arrived early on Friday to try and get some photos before the festival-goers turned up, but the site was quite limited as they were still setting up the other areas. There was the Common Stage, Strongbow DJ Bar and Beats and Swing tent available and a lot of food trucks were open.

One of the first things we did was check out the merch stalls, the merchandise was dirt cheap! T-shirts for £12 and hoodies for £23. I’ve never seen festival merch prices like this and I’m in love, I'm used to £20-£25 for a shirt or £40-£50 for a hoodie at most gigs. I was most definitely getting a line up t-shirt and line up hoodie.

After exploring the main area, the weather got quite bad so I sought refuge in the VIP area out of the wind and rain. I have been taking up reading again as I've always wanted to re-read the Harry Potter series as I'm pretty sure I didn't read most of them properly when I was around seven. I started chatting to some other festival-goers who I was sharing the table with and despite the gloomy weather they were very chipper, and it restores my faith in humanity when people can be really friendly in less than ideal situations! Think about it, would that have happened on a train? Probably not as train commuters are usually grumpy and don't want to be near anyone - I have been one of these people!

But put those people into a festival and those frowns turn to smiles, even with people dancing in the rain and puddles.

I caught a few of the acts at the beginning of the day who I liked; Marley Blandford, Hymn for Her and Come Together. One of the things I love about festivals is just rocking up to a stage and not knowing the artist or band and then falling in love with their sound. I'm one of those people who doesn't mind going to concerts of bands I don't know because listening to them live for the first time is such an amazing experience - plus you have the memories from the festival/gig attached to those songs.

photo credit: Tom Langford
I thought it was kind of odd that Kaiser Chiefs weren't the headliner's for Friday, I don't really know The Libertines that well. Ricky Wilson was such a good front man for the band, he put all of his energy into his performance and even at one point he started to climb the scaffolding around the stage - I'm sure this is a huge health and safety risk but it was pretty cool.

By this point I couldn't feel the lower half of my legs or my feet so Connor and I shivered our way back to the car. I was looking forward to getting all toasty in the car, and the fact that Saturday was supposed to be warm and sunny! It was really good to experience the Friday line up and I was excited for what was to come next.

Keep an eye out for the Saturday and Sunday posts!

All photos taken of me were by Connor Cleary on his Canon 5D Mark iii.

Disclaimer: Carousel PR were generous enough to grant me a press pass for the whole weekend at Victorious Festival which included access to the VIP area. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Monday, 20 August 2018

Brushbox Review

I've always been that person that forgets to top up on toothpaste, or change their brush regularly for hygiene reasons, who can remember when they started using that toothbrush?  I read a post by my friend Sophie about Brushbox and I was convinced that a subscription box would change my life for the better!

You can build your subscription box to suit your needs. Starting from £3.50 a month, but you pay every two months, as your box contains two months worth of supplies which would make it £6.00 every two months.

You can get boxes from one to four people, I decided to get a box for two so my boyfriend and I always have our supplies as we usually end up having to wrestle with the tube of toothpaste when we've got to the bottom of it until the end of time. You can choose between having adults or children in the subscription which would be useful for families.

There are three variations of the toothbrush; Pure, Smooth Bamboo and Curved Bamboo and these come in different colours randomly selected with your order. It's noted that if you're looking for a handy subscription box that is more eco-friendly, the bamboo toothbrushes can be decomposed in compost (with the bristles removed), and the pure ones can go straight in the recycling!

I chose the Smooth Bamboo (an extra 50p each) as I've started to be more eco-friendly conscious and was curious as to the feel and effect of an eco-friendly toothbrush as I've always had plastic. You can also add on dental floss and a tongue cleaner to your order, but I opted for just the brushes and paste for now.

My subscription contains two Smooth Bamboo toothbrushes and four tubes of toothpaste (two tubes per adult) which costs £13.98 every two months (there's no extra delivery charge to get it straight to your door - very handy!).

My Brushbox was a surprise to my boyfriend, but he was actually really into trying the bamboo brushes! I've been using these for a couple of months now and I love them. The brush is nice and smooth, and the bristles are softer, which is good for me as I can have quite sensitive gums. The toothpaste comes in little one-month use tubes as a blue paste with an adequate minty taste, I'm not a fan of overbearing minty toothpaste.

I was really happy that the majority of the box and packaging is recyclable, except the toothpaste tube I believe.

For every box purchased Brushbox donate products to those in need across the world, so by us keeping up on our tooth cleanliness we can help give others the materials needed for healthy teeth.

You can sign up to get 50% off your first Brushbox here*, and if you only want to try out one box you can cancel at any time but I guarantee you'll love the luxury of having your toothy essentials delivered to your door!

I really love the products in this box, and I can't imagine going to a supermarket or drugstore again to purchase my dental goodies! Plus there's the bonus of knowing that this is a more environmentally friendly way of keeping up with dental hygiene!

I hope you liked my post, I know I haven't been posting much - or if I have it's been mainly mental health related! But I've got lots more blog posts in the pipeline, so keep an eye out!

Love Saffron x

*Disclaimer: by using this link to purchase your Brushbox I will receive 50% of your order total for referring you to their service.


Thursday, 19 July 2018

My Graduation | 2017

It's been one year since I sass walked across the stage at Portsmouth Guildhall and became an official graduate of the University of Portsmouth.

 Graduation is supposed to be a happy day, where your parents get to see your friends and a little bit of your life at university.

For me, it was stressful. My graduation was at 1pm so I had plenty of time to get ready in the morning - except my staple eyeliner had run out and I couldn't find any nude tights because I messed up the fake tan on the legs a few days before. I had to run into town and pick up said items and run back.

It was the first time in my life that I was doing a full face of makeup and doing my hair, I wanted to look my best for all of the photos with my family and Connor.

In hindsight, I should've hair-sprayed my loose curls more as the wind brushed most of them out. It just had to be rubbish weather on my graduation day!

Once me and my family got some professional photos taken we met up with Connor's family just before the ceremony.

Also, no one tells you how awful the cap and gown are to wear. The cap is constantly moving even when hair-gripped into place, and the gown just wanted to kill me, and the hood was always slipping and making you look scruffy.

I didn't know what to do with my stuff for when I would sit down during the ceremony, so I only took my purse which could fit my phone in. I didn't really have any female friends that I could get some help with on that topic, so I was frantically looking around the graduates to see what other females were doing. I contemplated taking my phone with me and placing it in my tights - I quickly thought that was a bad idea as knowing my luck my phone would start sliding down the tights as I would walk across the stage in front of everyone. In the end, I opted to leave my things beneath my chair and hope that no one would steal them during the ten minutes I was away from my seat.

When they call your row to make your way backstage it all starts to feel very real. There are last-minute helpers to adjust your gown and cap in case they've gone wonky since the last time you checked. At this point, you're still in an alphabetical queue moving towards the stage. My heart was almost beating out of my chest as I started to see the stage, Sandi Toksvig (my Vice Chancellor at the time) and my lecturers seated on stage. I kept telling myself to not trip, smile and try to have a quick glance at where my family were seated.

It's all over in a matter of seconds. You can go back to your seat and never have to worry about walking across that stage again.

The worst part of graduation for me was that I wasn't sat near anyone I got on with in my class, so effectively on my own. I had to listen to the student speaker about looking around to my peers and the journey we've had together. The guy I was sat next to didn't even have the courtesy to say hello back to me when I sat down. That just about summed up my relationship with my peers. I zoned out of the extremely peppy speech. She wasn't talking about my university experience, and I also didn't want to cry and mourn the loss of the experience I could've had, thank you very much.
Connor was my rock throughout university, the fact that we both did the same course meant we knew exactly what the other was going through. Thank you, Connor, for your blunt honesty, and occasionally being really sweet and helping get to the other side, I love you.

The best part of the day for me was having mine and Connor's family together for the day, and having photo's taken to capture the memories. It's something that doesn't happen very often and I treasured it. Considering my own family is rather small, and I had lost some family members whilst at university, it's important to me to make the most of special occassions.

One huge piece of advice I have is...TAKE AS MANY PHOTOS, VIDEOS AND BOOMERANGS AS PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE. I was so stressed and caught up in the day I didn't even realise I missed out on some great photo opportunities. For one I don't have a single outfit shot of just me on my own. I'm gutted. After all the searching for my outfit and deliberating I didn't have one single full body photo on my own.

Oh, and girls, always trial hair and makeup in advance. And don't fake tan for the first time a few days before graduation if you plan to have your legs out. You are welcome.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Living with Post Traumatic Stress

I've had this post on my mind a lot since publishing My Bedroom Caught Fire.

I just saw a post which triggered me. It's like my body goes numb and my panicked heartbeats thumping against my chest are the only things I can focus on. But I have to snap out of it, and not let it consume me.

As most of you might know I still suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder and depression, it doesn't always affect me, but I've had painful reminders that it's still very much a part of me.

Experiencing the house fire first hand was one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. When I talked to my counsellor the week after the event, she mentioned being careful of post-traumatic stress. In just that week I was having unbearable flashbacks, fire-based anxiety and trouble sleeping.

On top of all of that, I was confused as to what I had actually lost in the fire, I had to go through the things I had at my mums to clarify what was gone. I also spent quite a few months spending money I didn't have to replace a lot of the stuff I lost, I was trying to fill a void and try and go back to before the fire happened.

As if I didn't need any more trauma, in the last two years I've frequently been the punch line to very painful and cruel jokes. I understand that to other people, it can be funny. There's plenty of hilarious fire content to be said. But, I don't want to hear it. I deal with my PTSD symptoms almost every day, I don't need someone else to be reminding me further of my traumatic experience, and to be mocking me as well.

I'm usually in shock when it happens, I can't believe what they've just said. I just ignore it as I don't really want to address it in front of them and usually other people. But also, no one ever stands up for me, they join in laughing.

Is it funny that I lost the majority of my belongings? That it put an even bigger wedge between me and my housemates? That I jump in the air when I hear a siren and it kickstarts my flashbacks? That I can't even look at candles? That people who didn't know about the event gifted me candles that I can't use? Let alone the fact that the Grenfell Tower incident is still very raw, I don't think jokes about fires are funny.

One of my most vivid panic attacks after the fire was when I was on a work placement. I was having the time of my life, I had an amazing opportunity to learn and have a film credit on my CV. When all of a sudden all of these howler smoke detectors were set off. Immediately I could feel my heart doing gymnastics and looking for help or a cause as to why the detectors were going off. No one was reacting. I couldn't hear anything anyone was saying over the top of these shrill fire alarms. I was ushered into an empty room while the crew were sorting out the current scene. I couldn't see or hear anything other than the alarms. I could feel the panic rising and walking around the room trying to figure out what to do, was there a real fire? Has everyone evacuated and left me behind? I walked out to where the crew were which was reassuring that everything seemed to be fine. As I was carrying food (not that I felt like eating it now, I was sick with anxiety) I was yelled out of the room back into the previous one, but other crew members were in there now. I thought that maybe I could calm down, but it was too late.

I needed to get away from everyone and the terrible noise that was not cutting out. I could feel tears welling up and my breathing starting to get shallow, I left the room and tried to get out by not being seen. Unlucky for me it seemed that all of the film's crew were in that part of the building, I ducked into a small room and hid as my eyes streamed and my breathing became out of control. I left the building as fast as I could into the darkness (as it was night) and carried on walking around in a clear state of panic. Even though I could no longer hear the alarms, and there was no immediate danger.

I tried my breathing techniques I was taught during my counselling vigilantly. Eventually, I calmed down a bit and tried to track down my boyfriend, who fortunately was working on the film as well. When he found me we decided that the best thing was to go home. I was still really traumatised from my episode and was in no state to carry on working.

When I told the production manager about what happened and why she was really understanding and said if the alarms went off again to stop what I was doing and just walk outside (as leaving situations used to be my coping mechanisms). When it did happen again, I was surrounded by people so I knew it was ok and it was just a smoke machine that set them off. The issue is that when one goes off they ALL GO OFF. But, the production manager came running in to find me and told me to go outside, but I reassured her that I was fine as I could tell it wasn't real. I was so grateful that she was understanding and cared about my welfare.

I generally don't tell employers about my mental health problems or about the fire. If I thought that it would affect the quality of my work then yes I would tell them, but since I was discharged from counselling I've been handling it myself and referring to my family and boyfriend if I feel like I'm slipping.

Since my first panic attack from an accidental fire alarm, I've managed to improve my coping mechanisms. It's strange that perhaps it needed to happen so that I could try and move on with my life. It's still horrifying when one goes off. Recently I was bed bound by a virus and a smoke alarm went off and the sound sends my body into shock and I freeze and barely breathing. It's like I'm trying to hold the panic in, or if I don't breathe I won't panic. I just had to lay there and listen out in case it was a real fire, whilst giving myself a pep talk that it's probably just the toaster that set it off.

Now, does any of that sound funny to you? I hope not.

All year round my PTSD is triggered by candles, fire alarms, BBQ's, bonfires, sirens, news about other fires and even just a familiar object or smell. I had never experienced such brutal flashbacks in my life until the fire. It's like I'm back there again, in my bedroom in front of a growing blaze screaming the house down for my housemates.

I just want people to understand my side, and how your words can affect me or anyone who might've been through the same and who even might have lost more than me.

Just think twice before making a joke at someone else's expense.

Saffron x

Sunday, 17 June 2018

How University Broke Me

I've been speaking to a few people about my experience at University, and thought I'd write up a little post in case more of you want to hear how my time went...

When I look back now to nearly four years ago when I begun University, a lot has changed.

I was a lot slimmer, albeit I had a little belly it was nothing compared to my permanent food baby. I was a lot happier within my own skin, and had just begun an exciting adventure. I had suffered with untreated social anxiety from my teenage years, but I had been growing out of it and developing my social skills.

My finances weren't great, I had to get help from my parents to pay my deposit for my first year house and everyday spending. When my student loan actually came in I paid my rent for the first term in full so the rest was to save or spend. I had a rough budget for food each week, around £20-£25 but I used to raid the reduced section like a pro.

I'd started collating friends on my course and sampling the university lifestyle.

Flash forward to now:

I'm probably the heaviest I've ever been, the most unhappy I've been in my own skin since discovering my stretch marks a few years back. I try to cover up so people won't notice but it's getting to a point where I just look like a huge blob.

And I've more or less left University how I entered it, with no-one except my boyfriend; Connor.

How does that make me feel? Well in all honesty it's a whole mixture of emotions. I'm starting to prepare my mind and my body to shift my un-wanted pounds (post or video to come soon if I find the motivation). I do mourn the University experience I didn't get to live. Sure I went on nights out and learned how to cope on my own (just about). But uni has been tainted by all the bad memories, the stress, drama and fall outs.

I often wonder what it would be like if I hadn't of gone and gotten around £50,000 in debt, and went out and got some real experience in the industry. I would be far more employable that's for sure. Yes, I have a shiny degree I've worked for, but I don't have the experience, or enough of it to be desirable.

University has opened a few doors for me, I wouldn't have gotten most of my experience without it. But, I can't help but feel that if I had maybe done an apprenticeship or an internship I might've gotten more.

The main consequence of going to uni was how much my mental health deteriorated, and the domino effect of how that changed me as a person. As mentioned before there was a time were I was surrounded by lovely friends and going out each week. I started getting stress induced anxiety during my first year but I didn't really pick up on how bad my mental health was until second year. This was through all of my physical anxiety symptoms disrupting my life. When I started to seek help, it was the best thing to have happened to me.

However, during my counselling my Granny got seriously ill and passed away, and then the day after her funeral My Bedroom Caught Fire. These were two HUGE setbacks and I had to work even harder to try and survive each day. To be able to cope with all of this I decided to move back home with my Mum, so that I could have a bit of sanctuary where it was peaceful and I felt like I had my own space again.

By doing this it detached me from University life. It was a lot harder to go out now, I was becoming more isolated and friendships started to crumble. I didn't want to lose that close-ness but I wasn't the same person who started University anymore. I wasn't their friend, I was now a complete stranger who couldn't promise them the friendship they once had. But, my mental health benefited more from it, I had more alone time to focus on myself.

Even though I was doing better and my grades were excelling in my third year, a lot of damage had been done. I was extremely forgetful, my self confidence plummeted along with my self belief and of course I had to deal with my anxiety, PTSD and depression on a daily basis.

If I could go back to before University with all of this information and chose to do it again, I wouldn't. I know I've learned a lot from this experience but I lost so much at the same time. I lost myself, my friendships and two family members. My Dad used to say to me that it was much more important that I left University with my health, rather than beating myself up so much for a shiny degree.

I do believe that University can be a good thing for some people, some career paths you may need a degree to work your way up, or some people might want to go into academia. It's also okay to go if you want to have the experience of University if you have a passion or interest in a specific subject. I just think that in the end University wasn't for me. When I realised that, it was too late.

So there's my story. I know I may have skimmed over areas, but I didn't want waffle too much. I just wanted to cover my story as to what went wrong for me.

My lovely friend Lily, has written a post about her choice to not go to University.

I would love to hear about your experiences of going to University, or if you didn't!

Love Saffron x


Sunday, 20 May 2018

My Bedroom Caught Fire


Two years ago on the 20th May, my student bedroom caught fire.

I've been debating for a while whether to write a post or do a video about it. Some of you might recall in some Twitter chats that I wanted to post something but felt too afraid. Well, this is it. My deep dark secret that still haunts me to this day.

I talked to those close to me about posting this and no one had anything negative to say, I don't know why I've been so self-conscious about it. Maybe because it's quite personal and it's been nice that not everyone knows what happened.

On the 19th May (the day before) it was my Granny's funeral, I had been devasted and in mourning the few weeks after her death.

The Day Of

At 9am I had my hour counselling session on a Friday morning (for those that don't know I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression) it went really well and I actually left feeling uplifted and good about myself. This might've been a sign that I wasn't actually ok.

I went back to my student house and I was sorting through and clearing out my things, as I'd decided to move back home early due to my mental health and loss of my Granny. I cleaned our kitchen and opened all of the windows to freshen up the whole house as it could get a bit stuffy in there. I was actually feeling really good like I had a fresh start and my mind was clear.

Earlier that morning I had lit three candles in my room as I liked to light scented candles on a regular basis.

I chatted to one of my housemates for a while then when she left I carried on tidying my room, I had to move my clothes horse/drier out of the way so I could get to the other side of my room. I began sorting stuff on my desk when in the corner of my eye I could see a sparkly kind of light. When I looked to my left, my clothes horse was on fire. Molten bits of clothes dripping onto the floor, I tried to stamp out the embers.

I stepped back in shock trying to find something to cover it and put it out but there was nothing near me as I watched the flames get higher and higher. I screamed for my housemates calling their names and shouting FIRE. I've never heard myself screech so loudly. They came rushing up and said to grab my phone and leave. As we were leaving I tried to call 999, I was in a panic and couldn't remember where I lived. When we were outside I was flapping in frustration and anxiety as my room was filled with smoke. I was lucky that the fire station was only around the corner from us.

As the fire engines came my housemates made sure to get our neighbours out of their homes. I couldn't believe what actually happened. It must've been a bad dream. Crowds began to gather watching all of my belongings burn, I had people coming up to me asking what happened out of sheer nosiness, they didn't actually care. I didn't want to talk to any of them.

This is me in the left hand corner. In hysterics.

I didn't know what to do, where to go. I would sit on the floor opposite my house with my head in my hands trying to figure out what went wrong and trying to catch up with the present. I couldn't sit still, I wanted to do something that wasn't just watching my life burst into flames.

My phone only had 4% battery, I sent my parents and my boyfriend a text:

"My room caught alight I'm fine and fire ambulance here"

My Dad was in the area and called me straight away as I cried hysterically explaining what had happened. By the time he came they had cordoned off the area around my house, there were three fire engines putting out my room. Firemen and women checked that we were all out and who was present and to get details of what happened.

Which was that I had a tea light in a candle holder on a table in my room, and I placed my clothes horse with lots of clothes on, on top of said candle. Within seconds the whole thing was on alight.

A couple of the firefighters approached me as I was the only one who'd been in the room for quite a while whilst it was on fire, they asked if I had any medical conditions. I thought I'd let them know that I suffer from high anxiety levels as I wasn't sure if I was going to have a panic attack or not. They asked if I wanted to be checked over, I looked over to my Dad and he nodded, I suppose he wanted to make sure I hadn't been harmed and just to check I was ok. They checked my heart rate which I think was way over 100 beats per minute, which wasn't a surprise. They gave me oxygen therapy to help bring my heart rate down.

By this point my Mum had come as well, I can't imagine what I state I must've looked. Their daughter being treated in the middle of the street. I'm very glad that I didn't move too far away from home so my parents could be there for me.

Some paramedics arrived and they did some further tests on me. I had never been in an ambulance before, the two guys were lovely and chatty. I wasn't quite sure how I was supposed to act anymore. My heart rate had been brought down, but I was still dealing with what had happened. A firewoman brought over to me the remains of my MacBook in some sort of evidence bag, in case I could get anything off of the hard drive. Fortunately, I had handed in all of my university assignments, I was just more concerned that I wouldn't have a laptop at all, it went everywhere with me. I'd taken it to Boston, America and even Paris! When we took apart my Mac the hard drive had completely melted.

There used to be a protective blue case on the outside, I think it protected some of the metal outsides.

That black stuff is the remainder of my bag that my Mac was in on my bed.

Once the paramedics said that there shouldn't be any damage to me from the smoke I was free to go back outside. It had been nice to not look at my charred window for a while, a bit like an escape.

When I left the ambulance my other housemate had returned, and I felt really awkward. Some of the edginess of my anxiety had been taken off, which left me feeling rather empty and unsure of what to actually do in this situation: I had accidentally set my room alight, of which may have caused damage to my housemate's rooms as well. In most situations, I'm a bit quiet and socially awkward anyway, and this was heightened tenfold because it was something I feel couldn't have been helped, I didn't mean to burn all of my possessions in my room.

My belongings in the foyer.
I remember looking at my singed items that had been thrown into the foyer outside our house, and my DVD's where there, some of the discs still salvageable. I started to joke about watching said singed discs, which of course wasn't the right thing to do or say but I was still in shock even though I'd been given oxygen etc it wasn't making me act or think clearly.

We weren't allowed into the house as it might have been unstable, so I had no idea what the house looked like, how much damage there was or what might've survived. At the time I didn't want to look, I'd seen the outside and was dreading the inside. As there wasn't anything I could do, my Mum took me home to have a shower and get changed as I stank of smoke and only had a jumper, PJ bottoms and socks on.

I felt as though I had nothing, all I had was the clothes on my back and my dead phone on me. Even though I had some belongings at my mum's I'd say three-quarters of my stuff was in my student house. I kept running through that afternoon, what I could've done differently, what I should have grabbed on my way out. But there's no use, you can't change the past.

If my housemates hadn't been home, I'm not sure how long it'd have taken me to leave the house. I was stuck in that one spot panicking. The only reason I left was that my housemate told me to leave and that released me from that spot. I also might've gone back into the house to try and save some belongings whilst it was on fire. Fortunately, I did not, but I was very close. I knew how much I was losing, the longer I saw it spread and break my bedroom window.

I would not wish this upon anyone.

I was lucky that no one got hurt, it didn't affect any of the houses surrounding us. But it did spread through the house because I had opened the windows and didn't close my door behind me as we were more or less running outside, and I wasn't thinking straight. I'm not an expert but I think if I had shut my door the fire would've spread into the roof more and could've set the other houses roofs alight also. But I can't be sure.

The Aftermath

I was on edge and became really jumpy after the fire, I was still in a state of shock and wanted this all to be a bad dream and to wake up. Over the weekend I kept having nightmares about the fire and the things that I'd lost, I started to worry about electrical fires and kept thinking that I could smell smoke all the time. I decided that I needed to go back to the house to see what was left to try and prevent my nightmares. I was dreaming about my letters and notes that my Granny had written for me in the few months before she passed away. I had put them in my diary and carried them with me everywhere as I held them close to my heart.

I had to arrange with my landlord about going to the house as my keys (student house, my mum's and my work keys) had perished in the fire as well as all of my ID, bank cards and passport.

I was not prepared for what I saw when I entered the house.

This is what I saw first, black smoke that's stained the ceiling and walls as it was put out by the firefighters.

This was our upstairs bathroom.

This is upstairs facing towards my room which you can't see at all.
It was really eerie to see what the fire had touched and to have seen its path through the upstairs of the house. But I was on a mission to search for the things I wanted most: my keys, purse, passport, my letters from my Granny, and a Celtic pin my great aunt gave me.

There used to be three shelves on the left side with all of my books and DVD's, and one candle was there. On the right side was a rail for my clothes and a set of drawers underneath.

They had to board up the windows, which made it quite dark in my room and we had to use torches to search through some of the rubble. In front of the window was where the table was with the candle and the clothes horse.

You can kind of make out some of my belongings but they've all more or less melted together.

My desk used to be against the far wall, with a notice board with pictures on it. That was where I was standing when I saw my clothes horse covered in flames.
It was really horrible having to dig through the remains on my floor to try and find anything that I could use and take home. I was getting more and more upset the longer that I couldn't find what I wanted. After sifting through what might have been some of my ceiling, I found my diary. It was quite scorched, but somehow my Granny's letters were just about saved in between the hardback cover. I nearly burst into tears at how happy I felt to have found them, they are priceless to me. I also found my purse but more of less everything was useless, my ID was burnt around the edges but I was able to use it whilst I waited for a replacement. Somehow, my great aunt's pin that was tucked away in my purse for good luck had just about survived. Again, it's another priceless possession and I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have found the pin and the letters!

In the photo above you'll see me finding some photos one of my close friends gave me for my 20th birthday, it was one of my favourite presents as she chose three photos from over the years. She'd handwritten "Happy 20th Birthday Saffron" in different coloured pens and used to be situated above my desk. By this point I was a bit annoyed at the amount of stuff that wasn't worth taking home as things had holes in, stank of smoke was charred or stuck to other objects, I put it back where I found it. But my boyfriend; Connor picked it back up and reprinted the photos exactly the same, cut out the handwritten message and re-framed it for me. That was such a lovely gesture, as I loved looking at that photo frame every day, and he made that happen for me again.

Here is the candle holder which had the main candle which started the fire. I was really surprised to see it around the area it started in. A lot of people didn't believe me when I told them it was just a tea light that started this. But actually candles are a huge fire hazard and there's a lot of house fires each year (I know this because I searched the internet to find out how common it was).

My main purpose of this post is to make others aware of house fires, especially the use of candles. I had been using candles since I was in my early teens and had usually been careful. A few times I would fall asleep whilst having candles lit (which is bad, don't do it!) but I had at times been reckless if I put them near a lot of objects as I can tend to be a messy person. This was why I lost so much, there were a lot of accelerants in my room: clothes everywhere, perfume bottles, igniter fluid for lighters and my bedding was nearby.

Even though two years have passed I'm still not over the fire. I've gotten better as I'm less jumpy and less on edge. I've been in some situations where fire alarms have gone off and it's caused a panic attack, but it's a learning curve. I'm never going to be the same as before the fire, it was a huge set back with my mental health. I still sometimes think I can smell smoke and have to check the whole house is ok. It feels as though a piece of me died that day. It took me a while to feel like me again.

Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night as a huge warm wave passes over my face as though flames were in the room.

I don't use candles at all anymore. It's kind of sad but it makes me feel better and safer, my parents use candles but I won't light them or touch them. I've thought about using them again, but I'm still not ready.

All I can say is that I am thankful no one got hurt, it could have gone a lot of different ways as I've played out a few in my head. The firemen and women, and paramedics were lovely and really helpful, I didn't get to find out their names but I did thank them.

It's hard that I sometimes have to go past my old house, but it's unrecognisable now.

I hope that this post will help someone out there to not have to go through what I have, it's not only affected me but my old housemates, my landlord, my parents and friends. There's a ripple effect with these kinds of traumatic events, and I doubt it'll ever leave me.

Stay safe,

Love Saffron x
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