5 Books You Need to Read, Recommended by an English Lit. Student

Now beside the possibly pretentious title I did really want to write this. Not because I think I know it all and believe I am the fountain of all knowledge when it comes to reading but because I’ve genuinely received something from each and every one of these books.

To me I find walking into a library or a book shop really overwhelming. I’ll pick up one book thinking it sounds great but then put it straight back in the thought that there could be something better around the corner. Unless I know what I am going in for, I can almost guarantee you I will come out empty handed.

In a lot of respects that is why I like my course so much. I get educated on history, world views and issues, language, the birth of societal norms and stereotypes and finally, the evolution of the world, all from reading literature. A lot of the time people view an English Lit. course as a waste of time but I would not have received the chance to broaden my horizons and my character without it. I would still be picking up and setting down books in shops, overwhelmed and possibly naive with the world.

So, I thought I’d share 5 of my absolute favourite books from my course thus far (I am currently in my third year). Each book is a piece of fiction and each are extremely important in their own form but together might make you look at things slightly differently.

Book 1 – Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a classic piece of literature. Very short in form with it being a ‘shilling shocker’ but all the same it is extremely captivating. Stevenson managed to create a whole new form of character identity within the split persona that went on to influence many thrillers and horrors you probably watch today. I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, Stevenson’s focus on good vs. evil is highly applicable to today and is probably why it remains so popular.

If you want a short read and love stories centred around crime, mystery, science and relationships then this is definitely for you! Plus he was Scottish writer so what’s not to love!?

Book 2 – Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

This is a more recent read but one I think would be important to add to anyones reading list. I must admit I have found Virginia Woolf’s reading particularly difficult to read in the past however I must give an exception to this particular novel. It’s written as a biography on Orlando inspired by Woolf’s relationship with Vita-Sackville West. Orlando is one of the first representations of a trans woman in literature, an inspiring tale which documents some of the hardships one faces being a woman, especially a trans woman in that era.

Woolf explores what it means to be female, a major part of this novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. Her narrative was gripping and both educated and informed me on the issues trans women face.

Book 3 – Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

Education through literature is one of the main things I am extremely grateful for. I think a lot of people believe we have to pick up non fiction books to become educated on matters of race, religion, gender, society, politics etc. but that is simply not the case. It is through reading and understanding experience that we can truly understand issues of representation and why such attitudes were created.

Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is one of my favourite novels, one I picked up in my second year. Detailing the story of Okonkwo we see the life of an African tribesman and the difficulty he faces when colonisers come to take over his territory. This novel is important for many reasons. To start with it is one of the first representations of African life that is not depicted through the eyes of a white man. Moreover, we see how colonisation really took affect and disrupted life for so many.

One of my favourite things Achebe has said is, “African people did not hear of culture for the first time from Europeans […] their societies were not mindless but frequently had a philosophy of great depth and beauty […] they had poetry and, above all, dignity.’ He highlights how his novel is there to depict how Africans were not brainless or culturally ignorant like many white men depicted them. African people have lives and a rich history one that existed before the colonisers arrived. A fact which seemed to be disregarded in literature and politics of the time. Achebe’s novel is one I could write about for ages but would probably disinterest you at some point. So instead, I implore you to give it a read. It’s engaging, educational and throughly interesting. A personal must have for your reading list.

Book 4 – Madeline Miller’s Circe

Circe is a reasonably new book, one I had the pleasure of reading in first year when it was new on the literary scene. If you love books based on myth and fantasy then you are bound to enjoy this.

The novel is a good example of how social issues can be intertwined into fiction, especially in places you would not necessarily think to find it. Circe deals with important themes of womanhood, abortion and fertility. A novel with significance to todays political climate as abortion is featured heavily across the world right now (read up on the horrible new laws in Poland for context).

Sarah Waters’ Affinity

This was another new read for me as it is part of my third year reading list. It tells the story of Selina Dawes, a spiritualist in a Victorian prison who plays with the mind of Margaret Prior, a Lady who visits the prison to conceptualise and understand her own mental ‘issues’.

Waters’ book is a mystery focussing on the life of both Dawes and Prior who eventually come together in this mysterious yet captivating story. It took me about the first quarter of the book to fully get into it but once you understand and are immersed into the novel you will not want to put it down.

As part of my course we looked into the idea of power and knowledge when it comes to prisons and the justice system. So, if that in any way interests you or you like stories based on magic and mystery then this will be right up your street.


As I said above, looking for new books can be daunting especially if you are looking for something with more critical merit or educational value. In that sense I hope you found this both interesting and informative.

I must also add that these books are in no way difficult to read, although Shakespeare is important I do not enjoy and nor would I recommend him to you (that is not to say his plays etc. aren’t great to watch, I just reallyyyy wouldn’t recommend trying to read them without the opportunity to have them translated).

If you want any more recommendations check out the ‘review’ section of my blog where you’ll find more novels and TV shows.

Let me know if you end up picking any of them up (tag me on instagram or Facebook with the links below!) or if you have any further questions let me know below!

Much love,

Sophie x


Some Happy News

This title is probably quite confusing but hear me out. Over the past 6-8 months I’ve repeatedly stopped looking at the news, mainly because it is filled with corona death tolls or the next impending lockdown. It is stress inducing and very much alters my mood.

Why is it as human beings we want to concentrate on the negatives so much?

I also find it largely difficult to look at because I know there are so many other important issues not getting reported on when they really need it. Through all of this I find myself on a cycle of anxiousness and disappointment and I know if I feel like this, there are probably loads more of you who are as well (at least I hope there is).

And that is not to say that the news on Covid isn’t important because I understand it is but when the thought consumes the majority of my head anyway why would I want to hear more about it ALL THE TIME?

So, I thought today I would highlight some more light hearted, positive articles and some general nice things going on in the world because we deserve to be informed and uplifted. It will literally take 10 mins and could make your day 100 times better. Remember looking after yourself is important!

The Happy Newspaper

I whole heartedly recommend you check out The Happy Newspaper where you can get a subscription to news that isn’t so downbeat and negatively driven. If you can’t afford the subscription their social media accounts are also a good one to follow for some more lighthearted content.

My sister started sending me their happy news updates from their socials and each time a huge smile breaks out on my face. It is refreshing to see people being celebrated and good things happening.

Newsround: Stories to Make you Smile

Newsround have been creating short videos documenting some positive news. This particular one concentrates on animals, including a young boy finding a very rare fossil. What’s not to love about some happy news surrounding some very cute animals? Find the video here.

‘Nigerian-Irish Teens Develop a Dementia App for Sufferers Coping With Lockdown–and It’s Won Awards’

I am all for celebrating peoples successes and these teenagers have done an amazing job at creating an app helping dementia sufferers during lockdown. Providing everyone with a bit more hope, this article is definitely worth a look.

Greek Athlete Helps Disabled Woman Reach The Top Of Mount Olympus […]’

I mean if there is going to be anything that restores your faith in humanity it’ll be with this guy. Sometimes it is hard to remember that good people and good things exist, especially when you’re stuck inside the majority of the time. Find the article here.

‘Man shelters 300 dogs from Hurricane Delta: ‘What’s beautiful is to see them happy”

If I am honest any story to do with dogs has me sold but when it has to do with someone saving 300, then I’ll click on it three times faster. This man’s story went viral and in doing so he has received so much needed funding for his animal shelter. Check out the story here.

Good Things Happening in the World

Although this was written in March it’s still highly applicable. It’s nice to remember what came out of such a bleak time and that it doesn’t have to be filled with dread and anticipation. Find the article here.

30 of the Happiest Animals in the World

Now this isn’t exactly news but it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face! It includes a variety of animals and they are absolutely adorable! If you click on any link make sure it is this one!


I know some people say that just looking at the good stuff is unrealistic and we have to be open to knowing the bad as well as the good. Well, I am sick of hearing about the negative so excuse me if I spend 20 minutes of my time looking at happy animals and some uplifting stories.

It actually surprised me when doing the research for this post how much major publications were filled with negativity. I looked at both The Guardian and The Times, 95-100% of their homepages all had news which either said something terrible, berated someone else or set out a bleak plan for the rest of corona. Not exactly something everyone wants or needs to hear.

Now more than ever the good stuff is needed so I hope I could put even the smallest smile on your face. Let me know what you think and if you have any happy stories to share let me know in the comments.

Much love,

Sophie x


Styling a Slip Dress for Autumn: Lost Stock Review

Todays post is inspired by one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe at the moment, the slip dress. It’s both versatile and extremely comfortable. Something I must admit I look for in all my clothing items.

The slip dress can be used for all seasons but in this post I want to highlight how it is perfect for Autumn. From dressing it up for a night out, to dressing it down for a more colder climate, this dress will soon become an essential in your wardrobe!

This particular slip dress comes from Lost Stock, a brand I featured in my post about where to shop sustainably, affordably. Lost Stock is a company that was started during lockdown and comes from Edinburgh! They support workers in Bangladesh who have been left without jobs because of coronavirus. Thus, every time you buy from Lost Stock, you are supporting a worker and their family. Lost Stock gives you three + items of clothing ‘from major retailers who have cancelled their orders because of Covid.’ Find out more about Lost Stock here.

I must admit the parcel took a while to arrive but if you follow their socials you know they faced an enormous amount of orders and obstacles which delayed the process.

Altogether we received three items. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of them all because I accidentally left one at home. We received a slip dress, a black tank top/loose vest and a navy top with lace detailing. In my opinion it was a good mix and although they weren’t all to my taste, we just supported a family who have been left with a horrible circumstance because of something out of their control. So really there isn’t much to complain about plus if you don’t like an item Lost Stock have supplied some fantastic alternatives or you can gift your item to someone you know will like it.

So now for the exciting bit! I’ve compiled 4 different looks with this dress (but I bet you can get a lot more!).

Look 1: Layers

White T-Shirt – Old New Look.

Belt – Old Primark

White Trainers – Adidas

This is one of my favourite ways to wear the slip dress. Perfect for pretty much all climates (apart from Winter but I have you sorted in the next few looks for that!). I love the detailing of the straps on the white t-shirt and paired with a belt means it looks a bit more casual and gives the outfit some shape. I also pair this with white trainers because (yet again) they are so versatile and comfy!

Add Another Layer

To make this more applicable to a slightly colder climate (which is pretty much everyday in Scotland right now) I add this wonderful cardigan from Becca Mac in Dornoch (one of the wonderful shops I featured in my post about Dornoch, who also have an online shop). The cream goes perfectly with the white shoes and t-shirt, while adding some texture and a much needed layer.

This cardigan has quickly become a staple in my wardrobe, functioning, I must admit, as both a cardigan and a dressing gown (the flat gets really cold okay!). Remember shopping sustainably doesn’t have to be about shopping at the most sustainable shop when you can’t afford it but more about how much you are shopping and what you need rather than what you want.

Look 2: A Simple Night Out

Such a simple dress is perfect for going out, especially if you have a dinner date or are out for drinks (which I hope will be soon, all going well). I pair it with trainers but if you really want to elevate it a pair of black stilettos would look amazing with this! It also looks great without the belt, perfect for having a big meal.

Look 3: A Cold Day Out

Find your favourite jumper, a pair of boots and your slip dress, then all combined you are set for a winner! I rolled the jumper up slightly and added my gold necklace. Transitioning this into a skirt means it is perfect for winter. This also looks great with a lighter jumper if you just want to chuck it on for ease.

Jumper – Old New Look

Boots – Old H&M (Similar here)

Look 4: Alternate Layering

This flips the very first outfit on its head. Take your favourite t-shirt, tie it with a bobble and tuck it under and you’ll get this cute but effective look. Paired with my black boots and an orange hat (which you can see in the video below) turns what is quite a simple slip dress into more of an ‘edgy’ dress.

T-Shirt: Old Topshop (Similar here and here)

Want to have a look at these outfits in motion? I challenged myself this week by making a TikTok/Instagram reel so you can envisage what these items look like in real life! If you enjoy it feel free to show it some love on these platforms, this way I can make you some more! Check it out here.


I hope you liked the multiple ways you can wear a slip dress! This is one of my favourite things about clothing, it makes you think out of the box. I promise you there are probably numerous ways you can wear every item in your wardrobe, you just need to take a moment and look at if differently.

Once you’ve done this, it is like you have a whole new closet!

What was your favourite look? Have you tried Lost Stock? Let me know down below!

Enjoy the rest of your week,

Much love,

Sophie x


Weekly Thoughts: Online Learning, Covid and Finding Balance

I’m back with another weekly thoughts post so I can update you on what has been going on in my life and why I’ve been a bit distant on this platform. Even if covid is still ruling our lives (ruining it would also be highly applicable at this point), more than I wish to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed.

You might have noticed I’ve had to scale my posts right back to once a week. A decision I didn’t want to have to make but unfortunately I genuinely don’t have the time to sit and write something, take photos, come up with interesting ideas and most importantly, come up with quality content twice to three times a week. I want you to enjoy what I write and make sure it is worth your time to engage with. This at the moment is a lot more manageable once a week. Hopefully you understand and love the one blog post I do put out.

This annoying decision comes from the increasingly stressful lifestyle I’ve encountered after moving back to Edinburgh. I say lifestyle, it is entirely filled by one thing and that is online learning. What I’d like to call it at this very moment is, ‘the bane of my existence’. Don’t get me wrong, there are pros and cons to doing it at home, namely the chance to do it safely, which will always exceed the negatives. However, I can’t ignore the constant feeling that I am going to fail, the week of near panic attacks I had even when out and about supposedly relaxing and the impending dread of assignments which I have no idea how they’ll get done on top of the already huge amount I have to do.

So, if you haven’t already gathered the first few weeks of third year have been an absolute joy. I HAVE NEVER FELT BETTER.

You might be asking or just simply wondering if it’s just because I can’t deal with third year in general. Trust me I have thought the exact same thing. However, when your whole year feels the same and lecturers have openly admitted to giving you more work because you should have ‘more’ time, it’s hard not to get a tiny, tiny bit angry at the whole thing.

At this point I really wish there was more time in the day.

Balance on the other hand is something I’ve been trying really hard to implement because of this. I’ve never been good at looking after myself and I have a very long way to go but I’m hoping that soon (if my uni decide to be better in terms of workload) I can find a balance where I can get enough sleep in a night, don’t have to stress 24/7 and can actually take a day off. At least this way I can then sort my blog posts out, my print business can be less stressful and more enjoyable and I can generally feel better about myself.

Out of curiosity, how do you find online learning/working from home? Do you have any recommendations for finding balance? Let me know down below!

To top all of this off, this week (or the past month) has really got me frustrated at the medias perception of students and covid. Before you jump on me and start shouting at me in the comments, YES students really have not been doing a good job, mainly first years in halls. However, there are 18-23 year olds (including those both younger and older who are studying) who are trying really hard to abide by the rules. As someone who has friends and family who are high risk (who aren’t all in the older generation bracket might I add) I find it infuriating that people want to blame me for not sticking to the rules or being the cause of a second lockdown.

In fact I know A LOT of people who are older than I am, who have been a lot worse than my friends and I, when sticking to the rules.

If anything the whole thing makes me feel a bit disheartened. So please, if you are young, old or middle aged, please just do the right thing. I am sick to death of seeing my generation getting blamed, looked at or victimised in the press. But more importantly I am sick of being stuck in lockdown with the possibility of my friends and family being hit with covid.

If we all are a little bit less selfish and actually stick to the rules this can be all over with that bit quicker. Even if you somehow think you are invincible, or are ‘in a small area where it won’t touch you’ or generally couldn’t care less, take a second to think about the people who do care and who aren’t invincible. Do it for them.

I know this hasn’t been a completely upbeat post but I don’t want to paint a picture that everything is 100% great the whole time. I think if I did that you would expect the same for yourself and I don’t want that. Expectations aren’t good for anyone.

Whether you are having a good or a bad week, both are entirely valid, so don’t feel guilty for having either. If you’ve done something truly amazing let me know! Or if you, like me, have been bothered by a load of things recently or aren’t feeling great mention it in the comments. Life is crazy (especially at the moment) and that is fine!

Sending you all the hugs,

Much love,

Sophie x


A Week in Student Meals

If I haven’t banged on enough in my food blog posts about the frustration about not knowing what to cook, there is also the added pressure to do it cheaply.

This, I know, can be difficult so I thought I would combine both ideas in one and provide you with what we ate as a flat for a week on a budget of roughly £25-40 a week (for three people, including snacks, breakfast, lunches, dinner etc.), which roughly ends up being £10-15 a week per person.

Keep an eye out along the way for some tips on how to keep your weekly shop prices down and what recipes are perfect for giving you some leftovers for lunch the next day.

It is important to note that my flatmates (Kirsty and Mara) and I share cooking duties throughout the week and therefore split our shop. This in itself is a great way to keep costs down, so if you can, I highly recommend doing this.

Sunday

Homemade Fish Cakes

We pair our fishcakes with salad (which we buy in for lunches anyway), sweet chilli sauce and sometimes some peas or veg on the side.

Homemade fish cakes are one of the easiest and cheapest meals we make. Tuna for example is a staple in our cupboards and gets used for several main meals, therefore you’re not having to go out and buy fish (which I love but doesn’t usually come under our budget unless it is on offer). Plus this meal is super tasty!

Mara loosely used two recipes from BBC Good Food (we loveeee this website for our weekly meals). You can find all their fish cake recipes here.

Now if you have a sweet tooth and are looking for something chocolatey and easy then this recipe is perfect for you. Kirsty made a slow cooker chocolate cake which we paired with Lidls own Ben and Jerrys fish food (tastes pretty much the same at a fraction of the price). It wasn’t the best chocolate cake however Kirsty has recommended scouting about for some different options because the slow cooker reduces cooking time drastically! Perfect for students.

Monday

Cauliflower Steaks

We serve this delicious roasted cauliflower with pea puree (the fancy term for blended peas with stuff in it) – Boil peas (a decent bit because they’ll end up being blended), drain them and add two tablespoons of natural yoghurt, some herbs of your choosing (we have dried mixed Italian seasoning), season with salt and pepper then blend away – and serve with some couscous.

If you recently read my post on ‘My Most Loved Recipes: Savoury Meals and Sweet Treats to Boost Your Week’ then you would have already seen this recipe. Cauliflower steaks constantly gets repeated in our weekly meal plan (also another great tip – plan your meals, this way there is no last minute dash to the shops when you’re hungry). It is a firm favourite and a great veggie option.

I recommend adding more paprika and garlic granules when baking the steaks. You can find the recipe here.

Leftover Tip:

We usually bake two cauliflowers for three of us, which depending on the size and how hungry we are provides a small amount of leftovers. I then had a sushi bowl with the leftovers the next day. Sushi rice is a great one to make throughout the week for lunch because it will last you a few days – we have it for dinner at the end of the week if you are looking for a recipe.

Tuesday

Sticky Cashew Chicken (GF)

This was a new recipe Mara was trying and it was a hit! Chicken thighs are a great way of getting protein while not breaking the bank. From lidl you can get a tray of 5 for about £1.75.

Mara paired it with some noodles and broccoli and it tasted great! (there was even some leftover chicken which I had with more of the sushi rice the next day for lunch).

Find the recipe here.

Wednesday

Baked Sweet Potato

Baked Sweet Potato is another favourite in our flat, it gets repeated weekly and is a great alternative to the usual baked potato.

It is also a great opportunity to use up some things you have in the fridge/cupboards.

I microwave the potatoes for around 20 mins (pierce them with a fork first) and then bake them for an additional 20 mins in the oven at roughly 200 degrees (fan).

This is another occasion where we use tuna (we add mayo and then either red onion or apple if we want) because its always in the cupboard.

It also provides the perfect opportunity to use the couscous from the cauliflower steaks which we also had with a salad, some leftover sweetcorn that was in the fridge and some beetroot which is also a staple in our cupboards.

Thursday

Corn Beef Hash

Corned beef is another cheap source of protein and potatoes are extremely cheap. So a win win.

Not the most appealing to look at I must admit but it is just what you need on a colder day. It very much reminds me of stovies (if you’re Scottish hopefully you’ll know what I mean), and reminds me of home.

You just need around 6-7 decent sized potatoes, all cubed and boiled until soft. Dice an onion and fry it in some oil, then add in the corned beef (break it up with a wooden spoon) and the potatoes. Fry unti it is nice and crispy.

I also decided when making this that I would spice up some ordinary baked beans by adding in some paprika, garlic granules and Italian seasoning. I like my beans over done (they go mushy) which means they go perfectly with this dish.

Friday

Lasagne

Now, who doesn’t love a good lasagne night, especially if it involves a side of dough balls or garlic bread! When having meat in our freezer we are lucky that we get to stock up from Costco however, we are also very good at finding a bargain. So, if you have a lidl close to you (which is our shop of choice) make sure to go earlier in the day because you’ll get great deals in their fridge section.

Tip: On the conversation of buying meat, we pretty much always freeze it, so you won’t need to worry about it going off. So if you see a good deal but its on its last day, don’t worry!

Kirsty loves making lasagne and is very good at it. She doesn’t really go by a recipe because they usually involve red wine, however she does recommend using a basic tomato base sauce, like a spaghetti bolognese (so any recipe should do) and then add a white sauce and lasagne sheets and top with cheese!

These dough balls were from M&S and were VERY tasty. Keep an eye out for Lidls ones too because they are also great!

This meal provided us with enough leftovers to have it again for our dinner on Sunday. So, a perfect meal to keep your costs down!

Saturday

Sushi Bowl

The prettiest looking meal, in the sense of it being one of the most colourful ones! This is very much a recipe which can be altered depending on what you have in the cupboard.

Make some sushi rice (instructions should be on the package), chop up some carrot, cucumber, fry some broccoli in soy sauce, garlic and honey, chop up some tomatoes, add some beetroot and if you want bake some salmon. When it comes to the salmon, this is something we found on offer (on reduce) in lidl so we decided to bake it in the oven for about 15-20mins in a soy sauce, ginger mix with some lemon and then flaked it over our bowl. However, this is often something we have as a veggie meal so don’t worry if you don’t have meat – this will also reduce the price. I also add a fried egg to the top (seasoned with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and paprika.)

When it comes to sushi bowls the toppings are just as important as the actual components to the main bulk of the bowl. Having sesame seeds, fried onions (this is pre fried and dried onions that you buy in a tub) and sriracha mayo are integral to the taste. Plus you’ll find yourself adding these things to a lot more of your recipes, trust me!

Tip: To finish off I thought I’d recommend what we always start with. Sit down before your shop and plan out what you’re eating when and who is cooking. This way you have a routine to your week and there is no last minute stressing. Additionally this is the perfect time to check what you already have in the cupboards, so you aren’t buying more than what you need plus you might be able to find a meal already available in your home.

It’s also important to note that all recipes are easily adapted. There is most likely some obscure ingredient somewhere or something you don’t have and that’s fine. The recipe will still be taste fine and substituting is always a great idea if you’re stuck. Google is your best friend!


So, that’s our week in meals! An assortment of veggie and meat meals, which can easily be interchanged depending on your preferences.

I think a lot of people have this idea that as a student you have to eat the bare minimum or beans on toast every night (not that there is anything wrong with beans on toast). But as three people who absolutely love food and cooking, that was never going to be an option.

It’s all about finding a balance and figuring out where you can spend more and where to spend less. Introducing more veggie meals and using what we already have is definitely huge steps we’ve taken to not only be more sustainable but also cheaper.

Feel free to let me know below if you want to see another blog post on our weekly meals. If you want some inspiration for lunch you can check out my previous post here.

Let me know if we’ve inspired you or you end up making any of the above recipes. We’d absolutely love to see your photos (tag me in my socials linked below)!

Much Love,

Sophie x


Review: A Look Into the Failings of the Police Force in ITV’s ‘Des’

*This post contains small spoilers in terms of statistics to do with the case that might alter your viewing experience.*

Des is a three part television mini-series based on the arrest of the Scottish serial killer Dennis Nelson. Debuting on ITV/STV on the 14th September, the show captivated and divided audiences with the horrific details of not only the murders but the investigation.

Dennis, otherwise known as Des, is played by the astounding David Tenant and is joined by fellow cast members Jason Watkins, Daniel Mays and Barry Ward (to name a few). All providing one of their best performances to bring this shocking yet highly interesting story to life.

The show is based on the biography by Brian Masters (played by Jason Watkins in the show) called Killing for Company: The Story of a Man Addicted to Murder and is directed by Lewis Arnold. The series expertly depicts the ongoings of the trial, the manipulative man that was Des and how the media and the economy affect murder investigations in the 1980’s (which is often highly applicable to today).

Not to summarise the show or give a detailed description of it, the series explores Des as a killer openly admitting his crimes and in a lot of ways not being ashamed of them. Tenant’s portrayal is done in such a way that you never side with Des but you also don’t hate him. To put it a better way it is more probable that you don’t understand him therefore you can’t have an opinion on him. A decisive way of acting which I applaud; I often find that serial killers can often be romanticised in such dramas.

Like I mention above, the show details the economic failings of the police force in bringing all of Des’ victims justice. We see that 6 out of at first a suspected 15-16 murders being investigated and proven. However, Dennis later admits to having killed 12, which means 6 murders are left without justice or knowledge. An upsetting reality for the families of those without a son/uncle/cousin/father etc.

This is a reality all too noticeable when the institution that should be running these investigation don’t get the funding to do so. A fact not just applicable to the 1980’s but also to today. The show outwardly highlights the problems associated with money and the justice system. A combination which many think should not be intertwined.

Trailer

Not only this but the show questions why such a man went undetected by the police for 5 years. After doing some research it doesn’t appear that this question has been outwardly answered, it certainly wasn’t in the show.

What I praise the mini series for is the lack of horrific detail or imagery about the murders. Like Daniel Mays said in an interview, it focuses a lot more on the psychology of Des. So much so that Mays woke up screaming to his wife one night because of the details of the case.

To briefly mention the aforementioned media, it was highly prevalent in the show how much stress they put on the police force. The amount of negativity it put the investigation under, makes you rethink their [the media’s] position entirely. I think in many ways we become so used to seeing such murders, especially such a high profile one like this, documented at an insane rate in the media. However, when does this become intrusive and actually delay the right for justice? On top of this the need to profile the murders in a sexual context was highly prevalent, making it more obvious that homophobia was a huge issue (and still is; the prominent nature of people automatically looking at this case thinking Dennis was doing it out of sexual attraction and desire is and was a huge issue.)

Thus, when combining the media and the economic short fallings of the police force it is no wonder they had to shut the case down. Not because there was insufficient evidence, not from a conflict of interest and certainly not because the arrested wasn’t guilty. It is a sad reality for all involved that such small and technically insignificant factors make such a huge difference in modern policing.

To suggest one final question, does this make you ponder the right for the media to be involved in such cases? Without them do you think the case would have been solved in its entirety? Or does it bring on the thought that people would deem such acts as not important if they weren’t broadcasted to the masses?

I highly recommend watching Des. I had never heard of the case before and with such complex issues being addressed, it is a show both entertaining and informational. Not only because the appearance of David Tenant and Des are eerily similar and his dead-pan acting enhances the storytelling but because it highlights some of the ugly truths of our justice system, which all too often go unnoticed.

Let me know your thoughts below!

Much love,
Sophie x


Sources used:

‘Des: True Story Behind new ITV Drama […]’ by Rhona Shennan, available here.

‘Daniel Mays: “I woke my wife up screaming because I had a nightmare about Dennis Nilsen”’ by Elizabeth Aubrey, available here.


Exploring Scotland: John O’Groats

I couldn’t not start a series on my blog talking about all my favourite places in Scotland and not mention one of the most visited and iconic spots. Plus it is (or was when I was at home) pretty much on my doorstep.

Growing up in the Highlands I have seen a lot of change when it comes to my local area, most notably in John O’Groats. Started in 2009 John O’Groats had a major facelift with the restoration of the hotel (which now looks amazing, although I am yet to see the inside of it), a new harbour square and the restoration of the commercial units (read more about it here). On top of this there is the addition of a recently opened Brewery and of-course the infamous sign.

Plus if you are looking for somewhere to stay there is also the lodges that were put up along with the development of the centre of John O’Groats, check them out here and of course the previously mentioned restored hotel which is by the same company and can be found on the aforementioned like.

I know that John O’Groats has never been some sort of hidden gem but I’d love to highlight the fact there is a lot more than just a sign in this lovely spot. There are a lot of independent, local businesses who are more than deserving of your support. So, I thought I’d highlight some of my favourites so you can plan out your visit and truly enjoy the amazing part of the highlands.

Eating

Stacks Coffee House & Bistro

From their Facebook @Stacks Coffee House and Bistro

Stacks is a must visit if you head to John O’Groats. I love their food and the inside is beautifully decorated and brings you a much needed sense of calm and warmth. Which is most likely highly necessary when you are visiting John O’Groats. They have a wide selection of seating with a log burner taking centre stage, plus they are dog friendly so what’s not to love!

Stacks are a family run business and often switch up their menu with amazing new dishes! While also offering cakes and special items to make you *extremely* happy.

One of my favourite dishes is their Mac and cheese toasted flatbread with crispy bacon, pictured here. The menu is filled with fresh and often healthy options so perfect if you are or know someone vegan.

Check out their socials for covid updates. The last time I was in it was more like a grab and go operation and we picked up a great selection of tray bakes!

Also from @Stacks Coffee House and Bistro Facebook page

Flavours

Probably one of the most talked about stops in John O’Groats, Flavours is a much loved day out for both tourists and locals. They have an impeccable selection of ice cream, toppings, sauces and confectionery to keep your sweet tooth happy for the afternoon.

A local business set up in 2012, there is no John O’Groats without Flavours. You may be wondering why you’d want ice cream when more often than not it is rather cold. Well, the ice cream is that good, you will want it in any weather, trust me.

Flavours have handled covid really well and the shop is set out with the upmost care. Plus the staff are lovely! See you just have to go a visit to see it for yourself now!

The Storehouse

Unfortunately I do not have any photos of the Storehouse and it is currently closed because of Covid. However, when it reopens and you want your hit of Starbucks coffee then this is the place to go. They offer a simple menu and have a little store of local goods to try out. I wasn’t hugely impressed with their offering but if you are looking for somewhere relatively simple with a great view then check them out.

The Seaview Hotel

I am purposely putting this here because I’ve never actually tried the food from the hotel (which is just as you turn into the long road to go into John O’Groats). However, I have heard really good things about it so if you want to add to my recommendation please do! I’d love some additional info on the place or to hear your own experience.

Visiting

John O’Groats Brewery Experience.

After only opening late July, this visitor experience is definitely one to try if you love beer and supporting local businesses. The John O’Groats Brewery have taken the brewing scene by storm, when working in a restaurant in my hometown last year the beer was flying out the door (or shall I say keg).

Set at the front of John O’Groats, my flatmate Mara thoroughly enjoyed her visit (I unfortunately haven’t been able to go yet but I must admit I am not a beer drinker. Mara, however loves the stuff).

They are also including a small bar in their experience (also yet to open) so you can try it right there.

Image from their Facebook @John o Groats Brewery

The experience itself is yet to open as of writing this however the shop is. So you can get yourself some great local beers right from the company itself!

Plus they also sell some merchandise, beer glasses (which are extremely affordable and well made) and they also stock some lovely local artists.

Mara was lucky enough to get a taster of the experience and was thoroughly impressed by what she was shown. So, if you are in the area now, defiantly go in a look and keep in mind that you should definitely go back once the full experience is up and running.

Image courtesy of their website

Puffin Croft

Puffin Croft is one of the best places to go for a wonder, especially if you have kids. Set amongst the owners home it is on the outskirts of John O’Groat, it is truly a lovely experience. They also sell produce which can be bought via an honesty box. Keep an eye out for the animals names to give you a giggle!

Go a Walk

I know this is probably one of the most obvious suggestions out there but Scotland, especially the highlands is known for its scenery. John O’Groats is especially lucky to be surrounded by both a lovely green landscape and the harbour/sea. This way you get the best of both worlds. Plus with the revamp it now boasts striking sculptural art, a newly done sign and some fabulous architecture.

Shopping

I wouldn’t say John O’Groats is overly known for its shopping however there are a few gift shops who stock local artists and memoirs which can remind you of your journey.

  • First & Last in Scotland is a small shop set right on the harbour front and is full of your cheesy mementos and local produce. There is probably enough magnets to last you a lifetime!
  • John O’Groats Knitwear and Cafe offer a traditional experience to shop for the most lavish wools and cashmeres. They also have a cafe in the back if you are in need of a pit stop
  • The North Coast Emporium is a large shop filled with local artists selling a range of different things from gifts, clothes and jewellery. It’s a great place to support local artists while purchasing something truly unique.

I hope you enjoyed my quick virtual tour of my favourite spots in John O’Groats. The place really has grown and now offers you not only spectacular views but numerous places to visit so you can make the most of your journey.

You can now spend all day in John O’Groats leaving fully satisfied and blown away by what’s on offer. Now more than ever local businesses need your support so go show them some love!

Make sure to tag me (@sophieseditblog on instagram or @sophiesedit on Facebook) if I influenced your decision to visit or similarly if you want to share your own experience please do!

Looking for somewhere else to visit? Check out my previous post on Dornoch here.

Where should I visit next? Let me know down below!

Much love,

Sophie x


5 Beauty Must Haves for your Makeup Bag

I know when shopping for makeup it can seem really overwhelming and a lot of the time we get sick of what we use. So, if you’re looking for any new products to try out or want some tried and tested recommendations then keep on reading.

I might add that if you are completely new to makeup or want some tips on how to apply it then Youtube is your best friend. So many people make tutorials nowadays so just search exactly what you want and you’ll get helpful advice straight to your phone.

If you are having problems with your makeup sitting on your skin it is quite possibly your skincare affecting this. A lot of the time your skincare products won’t react well to certain products being applied on top. This is definitely worth researching and if you want some advice on skincare I have done a post here.

Product 1 – Setting Powder

I am not one for ‘baking’, I don’t like overusing powder because I find it dries my face out, takes the glow out of my face and quite often makes my makeup look thick and overdone. For me, I like to use a quick swipe of powder especially if it’s sunny or I am doing something that will make my products slide of my face. This particular product Maybelline FaceStudio Setting Powder is one I have used for ages and is quite possibly a dupe for the Laura Mercier translucent powder. You get a decent amount of powder in it and importantly it has no smell (not that fragrance actually affects your skin in a negative way I just prefer fragrance free).

I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s both affordable and will become a staple in your bag. I have heard reviews that if overused you will get flashback so maybe not one to try if you like baking. After doing some research it has also been rebranded to Master Fixer by Face Studio.

Product 2 – Brow Kit

This is what I have used since I first started filling in my brows. The Eylure Brow Palette has been a staple in my bag for a long time. Using the brush they also supply I can get definition where I want it and have a lot of control. I recommend using a ‘spoolie’ brush to disperse the product once applied.

I am not sure exactly how widely available these are anymore but I have linked one above from Ocado if you want to give this amazing product a try.

Product 3 – Concealer

I have used A LOT of concealers and like a lot of people this is my holy grail. I’ve only used it for just under a year but the Tarte Shape Tape Concealer gives enough coverage that on most days I don’t wear foundation. Best blended out with a wet sponge, this concealer has honestly changed the game when it comes to my collection of concealers.

My mum bought this as part of a set from QVC and it’s probably the only place you can get this concealer from the UK. It is pricy but I would say totally worth it. Plus, you get quite a lot of product and you definitely don’t need a lot of it when applying it.

You’ll need to be quick when buying it or keep a close eye on the website because they sell out very quickly.

Product 4 – Liquid Eyeliner

Now I now a lot of people have trouble when it comes to applying eyeliner. Trust me, I was once in that exact position. However, with practice and patience (which I usually have none of) you can do it.

Collection’s Fast Stroke Eyeliner is one I have bought time and time again and will continue to repurchase. I started applying eyeliner with this, hence recommending it as both a good place to start or to continue getting that classic cat eye.

If I haven’t sold you yet it is an award winning product plus it has great staying power. To add to this it is extremely affordable! I even got my flatmate Mara trying eyeliner with this exact product. What is not to love!?

Product 5 – Cream Highlighter

I personally have moved away from more of the powdered formula highlighters because I prefer a natural glow that looks part of my ‘healthy’ skin. I have a few products I could recommend for this but one that I keep going back to (and which coincidentally has the label rubbed off of it because I’ve used it that much) is Pixi’s Flawless Beauty Primer. I think since I last purchased this product they’ve rebranded because instead of being called a face illuminator it has been branded a primer.

I can’t say I’ve used it as a primer however the natural glow it gives and the fact it stays on my face all day makes it a win to me. The full bottle is quite expensive however this stuff lasts AGES. As you can use it as both a highlighter and a primer then you’re getting 2 products in 1. If like me you want to try it out then have a look at Pixi’s sets. I was gifted this mini as part of a set with some other great products, they have a variety of sets available here.


I also know that makeup isn’t for everyone and that ideally we should all embrace our natural skin because it is BEAUTIFUL! However, if like me you enjoy the process of painting your face then I hope these suggestions helped.

As I’ve gotten older my taste for makeup has evolved and now more than ever I like my makeup to embrace all the imperfections it has while adding a subtle glow and bronze. Fuss free is kinda the way to go! I think, like with everything else, your attitude to putting makeup on is so important!

If you have any makeup recommendations leave them in the comments below!

Much love,

Sophie x


Print shop is available here.

My Summer Highlights

Considering I am moving back to Edinburgh today (I am writing this a few days before because to be honest there is no way on earth I could write a blog post in the car without being sick). On top of this uni is about to start *sends shiver through my spine*, so to round off the 6 months at home, I thought I’d share my highlights.

I must say that considering the summer was tinged with good ol’ Covid, (tinged is probably too light of a word to use in these circumstances but we’ll roll with it). I have to preface this with the fact I am in no way waving a wand to pretend it didn’t exist. All memories were part of lockdown and a constant feeling of ‘this could be my last day on earth according to the news’. Hence why I am stating the sorry old fact that Covid is and was a thing. Despite that, you have to look at everything and remember you still managed to be happy and experience great things even when the world was basically doomed.

To add another disclaimer, I have a veryyyy bad memory, so most of this came from my camera roll. So don’t be sad if I missed you out.

Long walks with the dog

I can’t even tell you how many walks I went on with the dog in these 6 months. One that particularly stood out to me is when we ended up going on an *extremely* long walk. You may be wondering why this memory particularly stands out, well that walk was 4-5 hours long. I couldn’t move for days afterwards and I’ve never felt hunger like that before in my life. However, to make the walk even better my lovely dog Ruby (who actually belongs to my brother but we’ve had her during lockdown) decided it was an optimum opportunity to stick half her body in a dead whale and this whale was HUGE.

I have never smelt anything like it.

Ruby was happy.

I was not.

To end off the note about this glorious animal I couldn’t not mention the countless amounts of smiles she brought to my face. I know that is super cheesy but coming from someone who never owned a dog I never understood, until now. Honestly not sure what I am going to do without her.

Not that she can ever read this.

Early Lockdown Catch-ups

I love catching up with friends on a normal day but when you’ve been stuck inside for what feels like too long and you can’t see them, a zoom call goes a long way. I feel like I am going to look back on this thinking how bizarre it is that we had to video call people just for a little bit of human interaction. Quiz nights were a highlight of my week even if I was so so bad at them.

I don’t think I will ever take for granted seeing people in person or even giving hugs.

Appreciating Home

I feel like this is a mindset rather than a memory but it made summer all the better.

This is the first time since coming home that I have fully appreciated where I have grown up. Not that I didn’t before but I think getting made to explore and find new areas that maybe I hadn’t spent so much time in, made me look at my surroundings in a different way.

This photo is from a time when my sister, the dog and I sat at the top of the salmon river and just chilled. We actually also watched a salmon jump for the first time which was great.

So at least I can say I gained something from the awful situation that is coronavirus. Looking at the positives definitely makes the negatives seem a bit less extreme.

Watching the Sunset.

If you haven’t checked out my Instagram (@sophieseditblog) then you wouldn’t have seen the post about watching the stunning sunset at Dunnet beach. I in-fact had never watched the sunset and considering we have optimal views for such a thing is quite shameful.

There is something quite calming about watching the sun slowly disappear while it paints beautiful colours across the sky.

I will have that beautiful view engrained in my brain and I am very happy with that.

Dunnet Forrest

I had a lovely walk around Dunnet Forrest. It’s a well kept area full of little sculptures and hidden gems. You can easily spend hours in it (we did). It’s a great place to feel fully connected to nature and gives you the chance to forget everything else.

This moment is particularly important because we managed to see two Deer in the Forrest. One extremely up close. Now I have seen deer before but never as close as this. So, if you get the chance to go a visit then do it and see if you too can spot some deer.

Starting a Business

I didn’t really want this to come across as a self promo but I couldn’t not mention the fact that my summer was extremely filled up with writing two blog posts a week and releasing two drops of prints. Thank you all so much for the support. I have nearly 50 followers getting emails every time I post and a Facebook and Instagram audience that grows weekly. I am just so glad that people enjoy what I write and on a personal note it is great for me to expand my writing knowledge. So, thank you and if you want to subscribe then please do. It’s a great way to stay updated and read when and where you want.

Baking

This is a personal achievement for me. I have never been a baker, in fact the majority of the time my bakes ended up being a massive fail. However, after nearly baking every week, especially at the start of lockdown, I now feel more comfortable in the kitchen and actually enjoy it. Plus I have had some delicious bakes from it.

You can find some of the bakes I’ve made here.


There are definitely more things I could have written about. For example my two trips to Dornoch which I’ve written about here or my countless trips for ice cream to John O’Groats but I would have been here for ages and that’s not to say they won’t feature in other posts.

I’d love to hear one of your favourite moments of Summer 2020. I can’t believe it’s coming to an end already.

Hopefully summer 2021 won’t be dictated by a global pandemic.

Much love,

Sophie x


Print shop is available here.

Exploring Scotland: Dornoch

I am very well aware that Scotland is my home country and exploring it may seem a bit odd however, there are so many hidden gems that I am yet to see and what better way to share them than in a blog post.

I thought I would start a mini series on the blog that is purely focussed on showcasing lovely spots around Scotland. Not that I am made of money or will be travelling a lot (however if anyone wants to fund that sorta thing feel free to get in contact (I am sort of joking, secretly sorta not). Instead I’ll be posting about spots I find on a basis of spontaneity, so enjoy!

Dornoch is a town situated an hour from Inverness. It is especially quaint and picturesque with their town centre being immaculately looked after. Filled with cute little restaurants and quirky shops, a day in Dornoch is a day well spent.

Shops

Each time I go to Dornoch something new has opened and with the current situation there is never a better time to support small independent businesses.

Charity Shops – The Highland Hospice

Dornoch’s charity shop game is not one to be scoffed at. As of my knowledge they have two (who stock clothes, accessories, home goods etc.) and they are both worth a look. Unfortunately the cute one that is in a church is shut at the moment because of Coronavirus but when it reopens I highly recommend giving it a try; I found a second hand mens Ralph Lauren polo shirt for £10 once.

The next one (and the charity shop that features in the above photo and the two below) is the Highland Hospice. I am not sure who curates the items for the shop but the layout and vintage charm of the place makes it an extra special experience.

I bought a red thick knit for only £12 and I swear there is probably an item in there for everyone. Their Covid measures were great (hand sanitiser on the door plus only two people in at a time) and the women at the till was lovely. Overall a great experience and a shop that is both helping you add pieces to your wardrobe sustainably while providing you with a warm and eclectic atmosphere.

Dornoch Bookshop

A great place for kids and adults alike, the bookshop is bright on the outside and charmingly small on the inside.

I have to say it might be difficult to navigate when busy but if you are able to get in when its quiet you could easily spend 30 mins admiring the lovely selection of books.

They have a variety of kids, history, science fiction and Scottish books on show (plus many more) so if you’re looking for anything in particular its a great place to seek out the newest release while finding some great pieces of older fiction as well.

As you can see from the first photo they also have some random bits and pieces to keep the kids entertained. It’s a win win.

Becca Mac – Ladies and Gents Fashion Store

If you are looking for a bit of ‘high street’ fashion but independently bought then this is the place to go. Newly opened in September 2019, this shop has brought upmarket mainstream fashion to the highlands. Ranging in price the shop is beautifully decorated and immaculately looked after. Plus the ladies in the store are extremely helpful and kind. I bought a chunky knit cardigan (can you tell I’m getting prepared for autumn), which is both fantastically made and will last *hopefully* for years to come. Stocking both men and women’s clothes I’d highly recommend checking it out.

Dornoch Stores

@birkwood on instagram

Now if you are a huge foodie like me and like to try new and interesting things then this is the place to go. I will never go to Dornoch and not visit this place. They offer a multitude of fresh ingredients, baking, coffees, teas, local produce and a variety of different sauces/foods you’ve never heard of. The layout is great and they offer things I’ve honestly never seen anywhere else (especially outwith the city). If you are a local or are staying in Dornoch they also offer a freezer section full of homemade meals, croissants, chips and a load of other foods to satisfy your appetite.

I recommend picking up some of the strawberries or raspberries they have sitting out on the counter alongside a Mango dressing which honestly is one of the best I’ve ever tried.

I only wish they’d open in my hometown.

Eating

I must admit I have not tried every restaurant in Dornoch but I have tried two. I’ll leave all other restaurants at the bottom of this section.

Milk & Honey

Milk & Honey is another relatively new addition to Dornoch. It’s a cafe that specialises in coffee, tea, spiced milk & honey (which is seriously something you need to try) and food; brunch, lunch and cakes. Its a cute little spot that definitely leans more on the modern/clean side of things.

Kirsty, Mara and Katie (all of whom I visited Dornoch with – don’t worry we were extremely safe) had the Asian Pulled Pork toasted sourdough sandwich with either salad or lentil soup. All of whom gave the dish rave reviews. I had the Chicken Cesar Wrap with a side of chips. I wouldn’t say it was anything special but likewise there was nothing wrong with it. To drink however I had the spiced milk and honey. Which is what I would describe as Christmas in a cup, it was delicious and extremely warming. I couldn’t finish it purely because the spices are a lot to take but all the same it was delicious.

spiced milk and honey
Chicken Cesar Wrap and Katie’s Pulled Pork sandwich and soup

To add to this we shared a chocolate cake and a mars bar slice. The mars bar slice was probably on its last legs and definitely tasted like something I could have made at home. However, the chocolate cake was a solid 10/10. Moist and filled with the right amount of chocolate I would definitely go back for more. Plus it was a huge slice of cake.

Luigi’s

Fishcakes, Grilled Peach and Parma Ham salad and a Duck and Cashew salad.

I’m gonna keep this review short and sweet. Luigi’s is a popular restaurant in Dornoch, often very busy. They serve great food in a lovely space. However, when I visited recently (about a month ago) their covid measures were disappointing and made me feel uncomfortable. Yes they did have hand sanitiser and masks but the masks were rarely where they should have been and more often than not staff members were a lot closer than they should have been. If you want more information I did a review on my instagram (@sophieseditblog). The food don’t get me wrong is delicious I just wish they were more attentive when it came to social distancing measures and wearing their masks.

Other restaurants to try in Dornoch;

  • Dornoch Castle Restaurant
  • The Courtroom Dornoch
  • Royal Golf Hotel
  • Cocoa Mountain

Explore

I always say the best way to explore somewhere new is going a wonder. Being a big lover of architecture and interior design, one of my favourite things to do is explore and admire my surroundings. You never know where you might stumble upon.

We decided once we had walked around the idyllic centre of town (which apart from the photo at the very start of this post, I didn’t really get many photos of *a complete fail on my part*) we decided to go find the beach, which I did get some photos of.

Being lovers of the sea air, Dornoch beach was a great size. However, it was sitting in between/behind the caravan camp site and the golf course so it is good to be wary of that during the current pandemic. It would be great to sit at if the sun was shining either with a fish supper or a picnic. Guess I’ll have to go back?


Even then I say we probably didn’t see all of what Dornoch had to offer but this is a good start. Let me know if you end up going a visit or if you have any other recommendations.

Also if you have any suggestions of where I should feature next then let me know in the comments.

Lots of love,

Sophie x


Print shop is available here.