NYE… worth the hype?

New Year. New Me. A lovely concept but more often than not – bullshit.

New Year isn’t an organic period of growth, it’s forced upon us. An ideal, a concept so unobtainable that it’s no wonder January gives us the blues. All these ideas based upon the thought process that human beings are rational thinkers is based upon nonsense, we’re not robots – emotions get sticky, mental health is hard, especially around this time of year. So drop the expectations, the notion that you are somehow going to be greater, far grander and even more talented this year than ever before. Growth happens throughout our life, at unexpected times, amongst horrid people, amongst amazing people and sometimes it hurts – the only guarantee is that its timing is not.

Earlier on this year I dropped out of uni, which I must say was the biggest relief of my life but also the hardest. With it a tsunami of emotions ensued – calmness followed by worthlessness, fear and a bucket load of self loathing. We’re all expected to take the same path nowadays, University was rammed down our throats from the minute we began GCSE’s so it’s no surprise that I felt like the greatest failure alive for having dropped out. Be that as it may upon greater inspection, I realised there’s a great deal of us out there who have done the same. Human beings can’t be put into boxes, labelled up and shipped off onto the same path, that’s what makes it all so interesting. No two of us are exactly the same, terrifying but also rather comforting. Life isn’t about comparison, it’s not about whose the most succesful or where we think we’re going. We make plans to kid ourselves that we are somewhat in control of these gloriously unpredictable lives of ours, but that isn’t how the universe works. People come and go, so do emotions and lessons.

There was one thing I promised myself coming into 2019 – to be present in every moment of my life, to feel everything. Joy, fear, despair, contentment. Putting this in to practice has taught me a lot, but most importantly that it’s not about waiting for the right moment, for the big house or the dream job or the perfect relationship. Happiness comes from peace, being at peace with yourself and trusting that you’re making the right decisions for you, despite criticism and others expecation. Self doubt is a condition of being, it’s okay to feel melancholy, it’s okay to have bad days, weeks and years. Comparison is deadly, focus on your own kind of happy and leave everybody else to theirs.

I guess the most important thing that has dawned on me in my 21 years on this planet is that it’s not about what everybody thinks of me or even sometimes what I think of myself, it’s about finding people who make you feel glad to be alive. Those kind of people that light a spark within you, with fire in their tummies and laughter in their bones. I thank god & the universe every day for the people I’ve been blessed with, all those magnificently, flawed, imperfect human beings that make you feel a little more whole and a lot less broken.

So have a Happy New Year and rock on!

Book Club: March

I’ve fallen into a bit of a reading slump lately, my concentration levels have fallen through so I’ve been unable to read any new literature – much to my dismay. March (and April come to that) have been very overwhelming with a couple of big changes to get my head around. To get my head space back I’ve turned to a few old favourites, as some may say an easy read, but what’s the shame in that? There’s nothing quite like rereading the words of authors who played a large part in my childhood and of which pushed me into the big wide, wonderfully explosive world of reading from a very young age.

Books of the month:

  • Peter Pan by J.M Barrie

Reading to me, isn’t about having devoured the dullest classics and calling them genius or lying about how much you enjoyed reading all of Shakespeare’s sonnets (of which I found terribly boring…) it’s about discovering authors who send ripples through your veins, transporting to you a world far away from that of your own. Peter Pan does this and more. This book is my favourite for a reason, the undeniable fact that I would give anything to stay young and free – forever. For as far back as I can remember it was Peter Pan I wanted to be and Neverland where I was to stay, a romanticized version of childhood in all its glory. A truly magical land full of everything make-believe, or so they’ll tell you. Even now I reread J.M. Barrie’s masterpiece and marvel in the wonder of it all. Tinkerbell and Hook, The Lost Boys and Tiger Lily, every aspect of Barrie’s writing is as wonderful as the next. It’s the imagination, the world beyond that of an adults mind that Peter Pan truly exists. A world where children believe all that their mind allows, taking them beyond the very realms of existence. Of all the books I’ve read, and the millions I have not – I’ll forever recommend this above all else… “All you need is faith, trust and a little pixie dust”

  • The Famous Five: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
  • The Famous Five: Go To Mystery Moor
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Twits by Roald Dahl

Happy Reading !! xx

Book Club: February

I’m a few days late on the February front but I’ve been a bit bogged down with uni work and reading about supply chains (not as boring as it sounds). However that leaves me writing this on World Book Day! Arguably the best day of the school year, dressing up as your favourite characters, being allocated reading time and best of all the book stall – the one day of the year it can be truly said that I miss school.

Despite not reading a great deal in February, due to Milkman taking me longer than I originally anticipated, they all touched me in some way but none quite as much as The Tattooist of Auschwitz, I was recommended it to read therefore felt it was quite a good way to start the month and I certainly wasn’t disappointed…

The Tattooist of Auzchwitz by Heather Morris:

Upon finishing this book, in a teary and surprisingly hopeful state words eluded me, for I couldn’t quite conceive the hell these poor human beings suffered at the hands of evil, these people who believed themselves worthy to play the hand of God. Based on the tremendously heartbreaking and life affirming true story of Lale Sokolov, The Tattooist of Auschwitz takes us back to one of the brutalist and inhuman periods of humanity itself, a time when any difference in being meant persecution of an entire race. A sense of unease is ever-present as we are introduced to Lale throughout chapter one and is soon made clear that though we may read of the torment of these innocent lives that we will never truly know the horrors they witnessed. That despite our wildest imaginations we shall never experience the damage put upon thousands and thousands of these people. It’s truly amazing how through such a horrific period in time that such love and hope could be grasped onto, that in the darkest of places they would not admit defeat. It will always amaze me, especially upon reading true stories such as these, the incredible strength of the human spirit, that no matter how torn, defied or abused a human is, our power to survive the greatest atrocities is unbelievably strong.

“The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a story of two ordinary people, living in an extraordinary time, deprived not only of their freedom but their dignity, their names, and their identities, and it is Lale’s account of what they needed to do to survive. Lale lived his life by the motto: If you wake up in the morning, it is a good day”

Restless by William Boyd:

I was told to read Any Human Heart by William Boyd by one of my sixth form teachers and it was then I really fell for his writing, though this is only the second of Boyd’s I’ve read it won’t be the last.

Restless is a tale of deception, war, espionage and a little bit of love. Strict, controlling and to the untrained eye a true blue British Gentleman, Lucas Romer is a multitude of people but someone very different indeed to Eva Delectorskaya, a young Russian, living in Paris whom delved into the world of espionage through the British Secret Service. A thrilling read and impossible to put down, as all great Spy novels should be.

Milkman by Anna Burns

The man in Waterstones told me this was his second favourite book of 2018 so there was no way I could ignore a recommendation like that.

The Universe of Us by Lang Leav

One of Instagrams favourite poets Lang Leav isn’t to every literary critics taste but I can definitely get behind her poetry.

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Happy reading !! xx

 

Book Club January

Reading is an utterly objective act, however as Andy Miller so eloquently explained, if you don’t like a book there’s only one person to blame and that’s you. Some of my favourite books are an excruciatingly long, hard process to read and others take an hour from front to back so my preferred method of reading can’t be streamlined into one category. That however, is the wonderful thing about the literature we read. I’ve not yet found a genre I don’t enjoy, although crime whips me into a frenzy you’ll still find me way back in the library crying at Peter Pan for the 164th time.

I’ve decided to take my passion for reading and integrate it into this little blog of mine as a monthly instalment of everything I’ve read, you guessed it, in that month. Hopefully inspiring you (or not) to read some of the books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed or felt an uneasy indifference towards. If you’re feeling inspired maybe let me know what you’re reading and if I should be reading it too!

January Favourite: Immortality by Milan Kundera

Milan Kundera always leaves me with an array of confusing and magical thoughts. They can’t always be transferred into words though pondering and thoughtfulness are amongst those I can. I believe the most wonderful thing about Kundera is his ability to write. His ability to create a world that is utterly real and make us question the very earth beneath us. January is my least favourite month, truth be told I think it’s because I don’t like beginnings. I always find them hard, awkward and a little icky so I needed something to ground me back into real life. What I needed was Milan Kundera to answer my existential questions of life and the universe that were stopping me sleep at night. It’s a massive stretch to say a book changes our lives, because often it means we just enjoyed it … but Kundera changes my life every time I read him. It is especially through Immorality that I am left in complete awe at how his metafiction world is portrayed and born of a simple feminine gesture. His execution is so eloquent, so beautiful, his extent of vocabulary makes you smarter and his intricate mind questions your own. I’m not saying Immortality was the easiest book I’ve ever read, some days I wasn’t in the mood to sit down and have my mind picked to pieces but through Immorality, Kundera makes you question your own beliefs on love, living and whether you fear the reaper more than you’d care to admit.

Other books I’ve read this month (in order of favouritism):

  • In A House of Lies by Ian Rankin (one word: phenomenal)
  • Bleeding Heart by Ian Rankin
  • The Thing About Life is That One Day You’ll Be Dead by David Shields
  • The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight
  • A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown

 

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Happy reading! xx

 

 

 

A word on gratitude.

So it’s New Years Eve 2018, I’ve just got back from having a coffee with my Mum & Gran and it had me thinking about everything I have to be thankful for. I can’t say I’m a fan of New Years, the idea that another year of my life has gone by and an array of expectations are coming our way for January (a new start, a new life, a new me!) fills me with an ickiness of sorts; however, having said that I do believe it’s the perfect time for a moment of gratitude, for the life we live and the world we call home.

Upon waking up this morning, my mood was foul and even coffee couldn’t cure it so I went on a long walk with my gorgeous pup. I forced myself to really see the world around me, from the fields I was walking through to the small chirping of birds and rustling of trees. There’s a wood that I cross whilst walking and it’s come to be a sanctuary of sorts, the word ‘komorebi’ means “the scattered light that filters through when sunlight shines through trees” and it has come to be one of my favourite sights – it reminds me that no matter how I’m feeling or how awful I feel something is, other than death or life threatening situations that nothing is ever as bad as it seems, there’s always something or someone in this life to be thankful for. Once back in my humble abode, I started by filling in the Moonology diary I was gifted by Father Christmas (my mum) an unexpected present but possibly my favourite as this coming year my aim is to listen to the universe, the moon and myself more. Some zodiac yoga was then in order, to piece my mind together before a boozy night seeing the New Year in with my friends.

It’s these little things that get me revved up and thinking about the rawness of the life I’m leading. In this ever-changing world where content is being produced at a faster rate than ever before, where the Kardashian’s rule and money is everything, it’s very easy to get side tracked from the important things. Guaranteed if you’re reading this you’ve got a roof over your head and shoes on your feet so you’re luckier than most. In amongst this we forget, more often than we should how much we take for granted the mundane things in life such as water, a warm bed and the people who love us despite our bad moods and annoying habits. Life can be disheartening and really hard sometimes but it can also be so mind blowingly brilliant. It is creativity that keeps our spirits alive, so discover things you love, force yourself to look at who you really are, find the things that take you to the highest extremes of happiness where it beams through your veins like great fire balls of light, allow yourself moments of insanity, of genius, to be a part of something more, tell the people you love that you love them and live even when you don’t feel like it. This year I’m especially grateful for all the new places I’ve visited, the books I’ve had the greatest pleasure in reading every day, for my education and the music I get to dad dance to, for my family and friends who support me through all the weirdness and mind boggling confusion that is my brain and to my mum and dad who wash my car, put food on the table and love me even when they probably don’t feel like it.

Turning 20 this year had me feeling a certain type of way and it wasn’t great. I romanticized my teenage years so much that leaving them felt as though I was leaving a part of myself behind. A lot of confusion, decision-making and melt-downs have happened in 2018, my year out was slowly coming to an end and a decision had to be made, what job am I going to apply for or do I bite the bullet and head back into education? I decided on the latter and despite quite a few niggles, I got there in the end. So this year was about challenging myself, beginning a course I knew nothing about and figuring it out as I went along. I’ve faced a lot of fears and gone through many periods of growth, though at the time it felt as thought I was trying to walk through a brick wall but with a bit of help and a lot of love I made it through.

What I’m trying to say is that this year has taught me a lot about myself, that despite anxiety and fear life’s just about taking the first step even if you have no idea what’s to follow, that living is about the small things, the smell of old books, lazy mornings and walks along the beach, loving yourself is more important than seeking approval from others and that Christmas isn’t about the presents but about the people you spend it with. You’ve just got to trust yourself in the process of figuring out who you are, because there really is no concept of new year, new me – we can’t just upgrade ourselves as we please, it’s about digging into the darkest parts of ourselves and accepting them. So the lesson that I’m to focus my energy on in 2019 is being true to myself, not worrying about who I am or who I’m going to be. Though life is fleeting and tragically temporary, this year I’m allowing myself to be brilliantly present in every moment of my life, through contentment, boredom, happiness and even sadness because every emotion is a blessing for it shows how alive we are, it’s an example of the breath in our lungs and the heart in our chest. It’s a show of all we are and all that we have and ever will be. Be present in every form of life you may take a hold of, allow yourself to fall into the emotion of it all, because you’ll never be as young as you are in this very moment.

So for the New Year, I’ll leave you with a little quote from Roald Dahl, a vivacious soul who never stopped dreaming.

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Happy New Years folks x

Book Club: John Rebus

 

Cynical, flawed, old-school, Scottish. John Rebus is a brooding soul who’s maverick actions often lead him into the dark underbelly of Edinburgh. The Oxford Bar is his local, you’ll find him in the back, a cold pint of IPA glued firmly to his hand.

– – – – – –

As I write this it’s 10:47pm on Wednesday 21st November. Rather be the Devil sits beside my laptop as I sit in awe at the incredible Ian Rankin who has done it again, turning John Rebus from a concept, an idea, into the real life character who I’ve welcomed into my life. Rebus, once a figment of imagination is far more than that, he’s a living, breathing ideal – someone we can look to in times of uncertainty, someone we can trust will always get the job done.

Despite having always been a crime enthusiast, devouring TV detective series and casefile podcasts, I’d only read a few crime novels. It wasn’t until my friends mum actually gave me the first in the Rebus novels, Knots and Crosses, that I’d heard of them – I’ve been hooked ever since. So in the past 12 months I’ve spent one to many late nights devouring every book ever written by Ian Rankin. Luckily I’ve finished just in time for, In a House of Lies . Who can ever know the truth?

– – – – – –

Rebus grew up in Fife along with his brother Michael and stage hypnotist father. Leaving school at 15, the gruff young man joined the army. Delving even deeper Rebus applied for the SAS, it wasn’t until a tormenting training experience that left him in pieces after being selected for a secretive elite programme, that Rebus realised the army life was not for him. Here began his career in Lothian and Borders police as a detective constable in Summer hall, which we later find out wasn’t as squeaky clean as we’d hope, (Saints of the Shadow Bible is a treat).

A deep love for books, music, cigarettes and whiskey. The things he loved most are essentially those that have driven him away, ironically, from the ones he loves the most and along with his job playing a large part in why all his romances are fleeting. Siobhan Clarke, colleague and protégé is just about the only female in his life left. Platonic and often a fatherly daughter relationship, Siobhan keeps Rebus in line (as much as one can) and often takes the wrap for his maverick ways, landing herself into a little trouble along the way.

‘Nobody wanted to nail Morris Gerald Cafferty as badly as John Rebus did. He wanted a full-scale crucifixion. He wanted to be holding the spear, giving one last poke just to make sure the bastard really was dead.’  Cold, calculating, Edinburghs answer to Al Capone. Morris Gerald Cafferty, ‘Big Ger’ to those who know him – the most notorious gangster Scotland has ever seen and Rebus’ arch enemy. We see wild scenes of violence and chase in their younger days but as the series goes on it’s clear to us that the broken ribs, car crashes and pools of blood have taken a toll on the great physical men they once were. We’ve seen them fight, work together and in some warped circumstances, become ally’s. Their relationship is enigmatic but one thing is for sure, the fire that lines the depth of their bellies is far from burnt out.

Detective Inspector Rebus, written by another author in another novel could have easily turned out to be quite an unlikeable character. It’s only through the way in which Rankin writes that we begin to admire Rebus. Despite his fierce, sometimes dark nature Rebus is a contradiction. Though sarcastic and cynical there’s a hope within that cannot be denied. It’s his raw and often benevolent actions that show a noble man, that despite himself, believes in justice because without it, what is there left? It’s with unthinkable plots and twists like no other that readers are left, alongside Rebus pondering the very existence of morality itself.

– – – – – –

So I hope you’ve enjoyed my little review and ramble on a much larger series of books and if you haven’t already, check them out! As you can tell, I’m a massive fan – happy reading!

xx

Heading to the beach…

Saturday, the royal wedding – I couldn’t just ignore it? Sadly I had to work, however we managed to watch the whole thing on the iPad without many interruptions – customers wanting to be served during the ceremony? I don’t think so. Afterwards a few friends and I took advantage of the beautiful weather by heading to the beach for fish & chips with the obligatory ice cream.

I often forget that not everybody has the luxury to drive 10 minutes to arrive at the beach, certainly making us very lucky so as summer slowly creeps up on us we often take advantage of the light nights spending our time down on the sand until dark.

By the time we’d eaten and walked down the wind was a bit nippy but luckily I’d planned it well by wearing trousers, these are my summer staple linen trousers I got from Mango, I’ve been looking for a straight leg pair like these that are high waisted and I finally found them. The button fasting at the front gives them some detail making it much easier to wear casually with a shirt or tee without having to worry about much else. I paired mine with a pair of white Birkenstocks and ‘honey’ tee which I got from New Look, it’s almost sold out on the website but I bought mine from a store so it’s likely there’s still some available.

With it I had sunglasses from & other stories and my newly purchased earrings from Accessorise. I’ve had my denim shirt for quite a while and worn it so much the label’s rubbed off so I can’t actually say where it comes from.

When I was younger living in the countryside wasn’t “cool” and the thought of big cities was particularly of interest to me – but now, even visiting them can be somewhat overwhelming. 10 year old me certainly thought at 19 I’d be moved out living in London somewhere but as I’ve learnt there really is no need to plan your life out as it’s never going to go exactly that way, no matter how desperate we may be for it. It’s when I think of this that I’m so grateful to be living this life in this body of mine and I can’t think of any other people I’d rather be living it with.

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Treat yourself

Sunday I went on a little shopping trip, I didn’t come away with much in the way of clothing but I did grab a couple of bits I’ve been wanting for a while so I thought I’d share them with you…

Vogue

Because everybody has their monthly magazine subscription.

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Boi-ing Airbrush Concealer

I’ve been wanting a better concealer for a while – to my upmost annoyance the bags under my eyes never disappear, no matter how hard I try, so like many I’ve been watching youtube video after video trying to find the one for me. After spending a while trawling through the internet I’ve figured out that when it comes down to it, Benefit are affordable and pretty good at what they do. As I’m quite pale shade no.2 was the one I went for, I hear that as the texture is seriously creamy you can apply it with just about anything but I’ve been using the little Real Techniques sponge which works really well for me. It says flawless coverage and it’s pretty true to its word.

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Tassel Earrings

I just can’t deny myself a funky pair of earrings. Who can?

 

Floppy Hat

If you didn’t already know – I have a massive head. Therefore I’ve long accepted that my old straw hat is just too tight for this lovely weather so I decided to buy myself a new one. I love hats in general but especially big floppy ones like this from Accessorise which will pair perfectly with linen shorts, tees and summer dresses.

Side note – I’m a big believer in protecting your skin from the sun, skin cancer and leather like skin just isn’t worth it in my book – it’s important to wear suncream and protect the rest of your body but the skin on your face is far more delicate, meaning hats are pretty important as they add a little bit more protection.

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Skincare: April Favourites

Skincare is one of my favourite topics, probably because I’ve always suffered with sensitive skin and acne, so experimenting with different products to see what works best for me has been going on for as long as I can remember. From that this post was born, I thought I’d do a small review on my 5 favourite products that have been helping me recently and I hope they can help you too!

 

Dior Hydra Life Sorbet Eye Cream:

This I bought on a whim after watching a video of Camille Rowe’s essential beauty items where she says it’s “a bit of a life saver” and I kind of have to agree. I got this when I came off a course of roacctuane and it was too harsh for my then, extremely delicate skin however I waited a few months to try this again and as the drugs had been flushed out of my system my overly sensitive skin managed to toughen up, if only slightly and I was able to use this. Again, it’s not a product I use everyday although during winter it was all but crucial to my skin routine. Sadly this is the only product from the hydra dior collection that is sensitive enough for my skin so I can’t recommend products it layers greatly with however I use it along side either Origins rejuvenating treatment or Nivea daily essentials moisturiser and it leaves my skin feeling seriously hydrated.

Ultrasun Suncream:

I wear suncream on my face all year round, even in the grey drizzling months of winter. It started off as a necessity when I was on a course of roaccutane for my acne and has now become a habit, just like cleansing and moisturising my face. This is partly due to Sali Hughes – I take everything she says as gospel – who reminds us to wear some form of SPF in all weathers and temperatures, even through autumn and winter. It took me a while to find one that didn’t bring me out in yet more spots, but ultrasun has been my go to for two years now. Depending on the season the factor I wear varies, I’ve currently got SPF 30 but when this one runs out I’ll be heading to the 50’s. If like me, someone of you are unlucky enough not to be able to slather any old suncream on your face due to the inevitable break out, I’d definitely give this a try.

The Neem Dream Bar:

I bought this recently at Camden market on a trip to London with my friends. I’ve always suffered with eczema and try to keep the products I use as natural as I can get – otherwise a breakout is bound to occur, so I thought I’d give this a try. The Neem Dream bar contains organic neem oil, organic shea butter and coconut oil, along with a few other ingredients but all are natural. Neem oil is also used to treat acne although I’m yet to try it for this use. Using this bar and Aveeno moisturiser alongside one another, I’ve finally all but rid myself of red raw skin, just in time for the summer months!

Cetaphil Daily Wash:

Now the aesthetic of this product isn’t nearly as tantalising as some but I was prescribed this by my dermatologist – who better to tell you what to use on your skin? – and for those of you who are spot prone or have more severe acne like myself this is a really gentle wash that cleanses your face without any worry of breaking out or clogging up your pores. Like all good skincare products, they cater to different skin types, I myself have oily and sensitive skin but they also have normal, combination and dry skin choices. Although I use a number of other things to keep my skin relatively clear, since using this product I’ve seen a definite improvement in my skin and would recommend anybody struggling with any form of acne/spot related problem to give it a try.

Washed Blue Clay – Problematic Skin:

This is also from the brand Read/The/Label who do many clay masks, the one I have been trying out is washed blue clay for problematic and oily skin, whilst I’m writing this post I’ve got a face smeared in the stuff. The great thing about this product is that the powdery formula can be mixed with anything from water to milk, I myself have used it with water and green tea and looooove the results! To use you mix 20% water to 80% clay, basically until it turns into a paste. Although you can use a brush to apply, I find it a lot easier to just use your fingers. It might take a few tries to determine how long you leave the mask on – that depends on your own skin however, I’ve found that 20 minutes is long enough for me. Straight after use this mask, like others can leave my skin feeling dried out so I like to use a stronger moisturiser/over night mask than I would use everyday. I used to use Clinique’s Moisture Surge Overnight Mask which always worked well for me but I’ve now started using Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask, this stuff is amazing and I can’t recommend it enough with or without the clay mask!

Is Spring on its way?

Although on the fashion front autumn is my favourite season spring tops them all, new life, the promise of more sunshine (we hope), daffodils & jackets.
Nothing inspires me more than a garden full of flowers and a house come to that, but with the snowy weather reports I’m not confident we’ll be seeing any sunshine soon so recently I’ve been taking a bit of extra time to admire all the plants (mostly cacti) that are scattered about my house.

 

Growing up I’ve always been surrounded by plants and flowers. A combination of my Grandad who for as long as I can remember has spent all his free time in the garden creating beautiful spaces and my Gran who’s spent much of her life flower arranging, filling every possible windowsill/work top with flowers and plants, is where my obsession began.

 

Other than cacti I’m completely clueless with plants, because let’s be real – cacti are the easiest plant ever to look after, hence why they’re the only one I’ve not killed. But with a bit of advice from my grandad I’m praying these bulbs will bloom and possibly be planted in the garden next spring!