I came for climate justice, I stayed for community

[Photo shows me, holding a pink flag with an XR logo in front of a crowd at Bluedot]

When I first heard of Extinction Rebellion (XR) in February 2019, it instantly caught my attention. A bold organisation demanding radical change, with a decentralised structure and clear aims I believed in: I got stuck right in. Climate action, which I would soon come to term ‘climate justice’, has been an issue for me which I have been passionate about for a number of years, but through XR and XR Youth (XRY) I finally felt able to make a more impactful difference beyond my own individual consumer or dietary habits. This blog will assume a link between inequality, exploitation and the need for extensive structural change to combat climate injustices, however I will link some articles at the end for more reading/greater depth if that link appears unclear.

Extinction Rebellion have taught me a number of things regarding the climate and humanity’s urgent need for action. However through talking with the general public, with climate groups across the world and to a number of youth often far younger than myself, some other things have become particularly clear.

Extinction Rebellion for me is no longer just about the climate

It is about something far, far larger. Much like groups such as Reclaim the Power, XR’s spirit and energy is instead about demanding and attempting to create a wider restructuring of society, to challenge inequalities and unethical systems and to come together across communities as much as possible.

For some background: most of the things within XR or XRY I’m involved with are very people-facing: I undertake outreach (explaining what XR is and answering questions), give talks and organise events surrounding international solidarity (collaborating with diaspora, minority + other community groups ‘glocally’, which is my main XR focus) and have a wellbeing role at actions (ensuring everyone is fed/watered/scouting out the loos and general useful things to keep activists on their feet and not burned out).

Despite my outreach roles, I no longer tell people in talks or activities that they should join XR. They are very welcome of course to join, and I truly do believe XR is doing some fantastic work, especially in smaller local groups. But it doesn’t matter which (if any) organisation someone is with or what type of action they are taking to fight inequality and reinforce cross-community links. It doesn’t need to matter what you are most passionate about tackling, instead a willingness to collaborate and connect is something I believe is far, far more important. A single organisation is so unlikely to be able to make change on the scale needed; people need to come together to connect, work together, and most importantly to learn from and share with each other.

A few experiences I’ve had exemplify this really nicely. Back in June I went to Keele University for a Friends of the Earth climate weekend, with youth from UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN), XR, People + Planet, Friends of the Earth programmes and also individuals not with organised groups. What made this weekend so fantastic was the range of experiences shared and the discussions had – discussions which not only gave people new knowledge but also developed active listening and communication skills. In some ways it wouldn’t have mattered if we’d done nothing that weekend to do with the climate, as we’d still come out of it far better off for having created a community I now know I can share ideas, resources and time with and know that I will be listened to and have things shared in return. My world got a little kinder and my communication a little better, and it is this feeling of sharing and community (rather than politics between groups or even new climate knolwedge I learned) that really stood out.

Another personal example might be the public XR discussions I’ve attended/facilitated on topics like food insecurity and how to save or grow food as a community. A range of skills, experiences and backgrounds are needed for these talks to succeed, but they also attempt to connect people over shared issues, and discuss together. While we are definitely attempting to tackle food insecurity within these talks and other events, spreading a ‘sharing mindset’ (e.g. sharing time, skills, knowledge, seeds, land to plant on) is actually the far bigger goal in some ways – it is what I believe we will need if we are to see climate justice, and indeed many forms of justice, come to fruition.

The climate justice movement which has gained so much momentum in the past year or so is therefore something far bigger than merely cutting carbon, and I believe something which is far more important. Community. Sharing. The idea that everyone has something to contribute (and if they can’t they are still needed and wanted). We absolutely need to demand government and institutional change and I do not want to dismiss this as unimportant (it will save lives), but community interdependence and sharing is critical especially in times of need, which climate change and the policies it will entail is bringing.

This quote from an article sums up my thoughts really well:

And I’m here to say that XR isn’t about the climate. You see, the climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system of that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life… Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the climate. It’s not even about ‘climate justice’, although that is also important. If we only talk about the climate, we’re missing the deeper problems plaguing our culture. And if we don’t excise the cause of the infection, we can never hope to heal from it.

https://medium.com/@plaosmos/extinction-rebellion-isnt-about-the-climate-42a0a73d9d49

While I definitely can’t (and don’t wish to) be a spokesperson for the whole of Extinction Rebellion or other groups I participate with, I do know that many are openly challenging unequal systems and aiming to create connections across communities. I do not want to imply that XR and other groups are consistently inclusive or representative of all citizens in their actions, as I am not in a position to be able to make that judgement for everyone (although I’ve tried to address this lots in person with people so please do comment if you have thoughts). But I do think that XR is doing something right. It’s focused on sharing resources, listening to everyone, undertaking Citizens Assemblies as a new form of decision-making, actively working to oppose ageism/classism/racism and so many other ‘-isms’. It isn’t perfect by any means. But it does involve and promote a mindset I truly believe we all need if we are to succeed in making the world fairer and to mitigate climate change as much as possible. If XR isn’t for you, have a look at Reclaim the Power, Wretched of the Earth or other groups I also believe have a much-needed focus on community connections. If a group isn’t for you, maybe community schemes, resource-sharing or individual actions like litter-picking could be.

Forget about whether you can go and protest climate change for a second, and also focus on challenging inequality and strengthening community however you can. Connect with people (of all ages and backgrounds) and just listen, grow or share food, fix things, lend a hand or your things to others. Challenge climate change in big ways, but please don’t see it as an isolated issue. It fundamentally isn’t.

Myself in a purple t-shirt with pink XR flags in the background, next to a member of the public in a black t-shirt
[Myself in a purple t-shirt with pink XR flags in the background, next to a member of the public in a black t-shirt]

Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts and thank you for reading! Here are some links as promised in the first paragraph. Huge thank you to Tomm too for the photo of me on the main stage at BlueDot Festival representing XR.

https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/climate-change-and-social-justice-evidence-review

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/fight-against-climate-change-fight-against-capitalism/

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24735

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Why Queer/Gay Media is So Important to Me

Living in the UK, many of us, irrespective of sexuality or gender, will have been exposed to some form of queer* media; LGBTQ+ Youtubers, increasing numbers of celebrities ‘coming out’, and television shows like Jessica Jones or Adventure Time including queer characters. In the UK and many other countries (albeit not enough), we see queer representation in the media, on the news, and on social media, and so it is easy to assume that members of the LGBTQ+ community are secure and supported in their queer identity in this country. It is easy to come to the conclusion that the LGBTQ+ community must surely now be in a position where role models within the community are visible and active, and a range of experiences can be comfortably explored.

Thinking back to growing up and questioning my sexuality however, it’s difficult to see this openness and security in my own (and others’) identities at all. I am thankful that I have always had a supportive family and predominantly supportive friends – occasionally somewhat clueless, but nevertheless there for me. Why then has it taken so long for me to feel legitimate as a queer person, even after I came out? And why could my non-LGBTQ+ friends go out in rainbow coloured clothing (or the like), and I felt that I was making a scene even just owning some?

While having a wonderful support network in many other senses, this summer I came to the realisation that a lack of queer role models was critical in feeling isolated in my sexuality. Lacking role models I could resonate with lead to feeling as if I had to ‘cover up’ being gay to fit in with everyone else in my life: wearing rainbow things or viewing openly queer media felt as if I was making a statement of otherness. Whilst loved ones gave me support, there was no one to provide me with guidance, and so I had no idea how not to feel ‘attention seeking’ and ‘different’.

Nobody told me that ‘gay’ was whatever I decided it was for me. Nobody reassured me that everyone finds their own unique way to present their queer identity, much like with other aspects of ourselves as individuals. Exploring and expressing queer identity therefore came solely from my knowledge of stereotypes (such as lesbians with short hair or men who are particularly concerned with fashion). Very few LGBTQ+ stereotypes have really ever resonated with me, and so for much of my younger teenage life, being queer was something to be glossed over and even rejected, instead of embraced, explored and enjoyed.

It is therefore only recently when finally embracing media such as explicitly LGBTQ+ podcasts, and unapologetically gay shows like Queer Eye, have I felt that I have significant queer people to look up to in my life whose experiences I can explore and compare with my own. The delay in embracing this exploration does feel somewhat due to queer media being far less mainstream perhaps, especially when I was younger, although recently it has got better and hopefully will continue to do so.

Exploring experiences shared by queer people has helped me to process my own feelings about being gay/queer and consider how I express myself in my clothing, language and even day to day conversations. In then discovering others within the LGBTQ+ community who also share their experiences openly, I have discovered a feeling of legitimacy in being queer, replacing my feeling of pretending with one of love for being gay.

So to sum up: more queer media please!!!! It has been so significant in creating comfort with my sexuality and how I show it to the world, and I think the world needs far more (and more varied) queer role models in the media for all the gays out there :)) x

Some Gay Media I Heckin Appreciate Always:

Here’s a cool podcast I love

Queer Eye on Netflix gave me so much life all summer and season 3 is out super soon!!

Rose & Rosie are two of my fav youtubers, but there are so so many more, like Dodie, or Alex Bertie who are fab

Jessica and Claudia are also some favs on Youtube!

 

*I’ve used the word ‘queer’ in this article as I feel it defines far more experiences compared to ‘gay’ (particularly when gender or asexuality is involved), although I personally use both ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ as umbrella terms. I am aware it’s sometimes, especially in the past, been used as a slur, however I feel that in LGBTQ+ communities ‘queer’ is being reclaimed, and I would love to get more behind that! (thanks to my friend Claire for influencing my thoughts on it!)

Thanks a million also to my friend Alex who helped to make my thoughts far more coherent!

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Summer Lavender Lemonade Recipe!

Every year from about the age of 14, I’ve made lavender lemonade. I originally discovered this online while searching for things to do with bits of lavender we’d had to prune, and with a few tries it turned out pretty good!

Once a magical drink which turned pink when lemon juice was added, and now also a solid favourite of mine, it’s super easy to make so I thought I’d share the recipe!

I love being able to use plants from my own (or my family’s) garden; it’s such a nice feeling to be able to create something from a plant you’ve grown, especially if, like me, you’re not a super good gardener!

You will need:

  • About 2 handfuls of washed, fresh lavender leaves and flowers, or at least 3 tablespoons of dried lavender
  • 1/2 a cup (80g ish) of sugar, I tend to use caster sugar
  • At least 350ml lemon juice, bottled or fresh (about 5ish lemons depending on size)

 

  • De-head or de-leaf the lavender stalks, or measure out a few tablespoons of dried lavender into a bowl or jug
  • Pour enough water to cover the lavender, and then a cup or 2 more, depending on how much lemonade you want
  • Leave it covered with a cloth/teatowel for at least 30 mins/1 hour, although it can be left even overnight
  • Once you’re ready to use the lavender, strain or sieve it so that you’re left with a darkish liquid and none of the plant
  • Make a sugar syrup by putting the sugar into 2 cups of boiling water until it’s dissolved. Leave this to cool
  • Add the sugar syrup to the lavender liquid, tasting every so often (but bear in mind the lemon isn’t in yet!)
  • Add the lemon juice, and mix! You can always make more sugar syrup (or just add sugar if you’re impatient like me) until it tastes how you’d like

I like to serve it cold with ice, and I’ve seen a few lavender cocktails it might be good in too!

If you make the lavender liquid with purple flowers, the lemonade often turns a peachy or pink colour once the lemon juice is added which is fun. If you use just the leaves it’s usually a yellowish colour. Both taste fab though!

Happy making,

Charlotte x

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Fundraising Tips & Mental Illness

This past year (from September 2017) I have been fundraising for Meningitis Research Foundation with the aim to make around £2600 in sponsorship and raised money. I will be climbing Kilimanjaro for them in September (2018). On paper this seemed originally very manageable – how many cake sales makes £2600? I thought. Not that many right?

Wrong.

Cake sales definitely do make some money, especially if you have some generous donors attending. But with an average cake sale getting between £20-50 if you’re lucky , that’s 52 of them for my goal of £2600!

So what else can you do to fundraise?

Bucket shakes are sometimes a good option, especially if you have a costume or charity top so that you can be seen and are able to be in a busy area. Some of my bucket shakes in busy areas earned around £100!

Less busy areas however are far less likely to earn you as much, and leave you with far less incentive to stay there for a long period of time. My worst bucket shake got me about £4.00, which after a long, cold day was particularly demotivating. (do also be aware that in most places you need a permit to bucket shake, and shaking your bucket is now illegal in the UK!)

Ebaying/Depoping has also been a good option for me, or even doing a physical table top sale. You do need to be aware of any seller’s fees, either in the form of a table fee or fees from Paypal, Depop and Ebay once an item has sold.

Unless you have some super designer clothes or cool furniture, it’s unlikely that this method of fundraising is going to earn you really big money. However I’ve managed to make around £80 with very minimal effort just on Ebay, so I wouldn’t automatically disregard this as a fundraising method.

It’s also handy to be aware of different postage options – often you can pay for a Large Letter in the UK rather than a whole parcel – have a look online or in your post office before paying too much!

Bag packing or supermarket collecting is also a great fundraising option, and likely to bring in more substantial money, especially if a few of you are doing it together!

Something to consider however is asking supermarkets as early as possible – I was rejected by a few who had already been booked up for the entire year by March, and some took multiple letters and emails to even consider my requests

Asking shops to put collection tins on their counter is also a good way to make some loose change – it won’t bring in anything big, but a couple of pounds is always helpful if you have the time to go around a few shops!

Corporate Sponsorship can also bring in substantial money if you are successful. I applied to the Blakemore Foundation in the UK and got given a cheque for £50 – not huge in the grand scheme of things but very little effort to write an email and far more than some of my bucket shakes were bringing in!

Friends and Family! Either helping to fundraise by giving their time, donating unwanted things to your carboot sales or giving money themselves, friends and family can be an invaluable resource to use while fundraising.

Websites giving cashback, or sites like easyfundraising are also really easy, passive ways to fundraise. They definitely don’t bring in lots of money, but combined with other fundraising I’ve found them really useful to keep money coming in!

A big event! Or a few semi-big events! Organising something like a pub quiz, bingo night or similar proves really effective in fundraising, especially if people are also spending money on a raffle, food, and alcohol while there. I didn’t do anything quite this big, but one church event brought in a couple of hundred just as there were so many people in one place donating!

Insights about how fundraising has impacted my mental health:

When signing up to fundraise I initially felt excitement, happiness that I was embracing my goal to give more to others, and confident I could make the amount set.

However barely a week later I felt overwhelmed, stressed that I wouldn’t be able to reach the target, and anxious that I wasn’t confident enough to do things like bucket shakes or talking to supermarket staff about bag packs.

Being diagnosed with anxiety & depression, I knew that fundraising would be perhaps more of a challenge than it might seem, especially on days where my physical symptoms of tiredness, heart palpitations and so on were particularly bad. I soon learnt that having a panic attack at a busy bucket shake doesn’t make you seem all that approachable, especially if half of it is spent crying in the nearest loos!

While this feeling of stress about my fundraising goal did continue throughout my fundraising, I have learned a few ways that were personally helpful in minimising any anxiety I might experience, and helping me on days where tiredness from depression was overwhelming.

  • More passive ways of fundraising such as Ebaying were useful when interaction with other people appeared stressful, and as they are online, can be done at any time of the day or night. This reduced some of my guilt about potentially missing bucket shakes due to anxiety or tiredness, as I was able to fundraise even in my own bed :))
    • This is similar to cashback sites and easyfundraising too. While these more passive methods of fundraising don’t bring in as much money in my experience, they were particularly useful for me when trying to keep up fundraising momentum yet also having to look after my mental health.
  • Friends and family are super useful. It wasn’t until near the end of my fundraising that I actually realised how much using the friends and family I have could have made my experience so much easier. Doing something in a group often makes it far less stressful for me, and having others there at cake sales and bucket shakes, even if only for some of the time, really encouraged me and made me feel more confident in myself.
    • Trying to raise money on my own for the majority of the time wasn’t half as effective as when with others, so I would really recommend even a few events with others there as support and extra help.
  • Keeping well-rested before events like bucket shakes was also something I discovered was a good idea! It might sound super obvious, but I really wasn’t aware of how cold you can get in winter standing outside with a bucket, so investing in a thermal and getting some sleep made a lot of difference!

Hopefully some of this has been helpful or interesting,

Charlotte x

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Swirled Clay Bowls

Inspired by Elsie and Emma over on A Beautiful Mess and their marbled clay dishes, I decided to buy some oven-bake clay and also have a go. I have to admit, it was much easier than I thought, required very little art skill (woop) and I’m super excited about how they’ve turned out!

So far I’ve found them really useful for random earrings and bobby pins I would otherwise probably lose, but they could be used to keep anything small, or just decoratively

If you want a predominantly white/lighter coloured bowl try and make sure that other colours don’t overwhelm the white, so go slow on how much you use. Another thing I found was to be careful not to over-twist the strands or over-roll (is that a word?) them once in a ball as it mixes them further which loses some of the individual colours.

How to make them!
Start off rolling out each colour of clay you want to use, with longer ‘snakes’ for colours you want to be more dominant and darker colours, such as black, slightly smaller. Then twist them all together and finally roll them into a ball!

If you have seams in the ball from the twists, these will stay when you bake the bowl so knead the clay and roll your ball out again if this happens so that it’s smooth.

Roll out the clay with a rolling pin or jar to about 0.5 – 1 cm thickness (about an English pound coin) – different rolling directions will change where the colours are so experiment until you get a pattern you like

Using a template or something like a jar to cut around, use a craft knife (or I used a regular kitchen knife) to cut out a circle to make your bowl, and place this in the middle of another (oven safe) bowl/ramekin, or if all your bowls are too small/ flat you could try turning one upside down and putting the clay over the bottom of the bowl for the same effect.

A clay circle inside another bowl
A clay circle inside another bowl

Bake them according to the instructions on the package (mine was 30 minutes at 130 degrees C), and leave it to cool before trying to take it out of the bowl. Because it’s oven-bake clay it will probably still be slightly flexible afterwards.

The greatest challenge I had in making these was getting them the right size. My first one came out very flat due to the fact that when I baked it, it was in a bowl that wasn’t quite as round as I needed, – so remember that the shape really depends on the bowl/ramekin you bake it in. Putting your clay in a bowl and having the edges not quite flat means you get wavy edges which I quite like.

You could then add gold gilding paint, which I really love around the edges! I found mine on Amazon for about £6 ($8.5ish):

With gilding paint
With gold gilding paint

I’ve also seen gold nail polish works just as well, which you can get much cheaper and might already have :) I’d be interested in trying other colours like silver as I think they’d work too

Over on XoJane I also saw that she had spray painted her bowls completely metallic gold on the bottoms which also looks super fab!

Happy crafting!

Charlotte x

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Romanian Train Trip!

In September (2017), my girlfriend and I went to Romania for 10 days, travelling to 4 different cities and towns, trying to get a feel for as much of the country as we could. Despite some people warning us that trains wouldn’t be comfortable, we took the train to each city or town (they were all absolutely fine!), and used the local trains or buses for day trips. The trains were pretty cheap, and so were Airbnbs.

For anyone planning to see Romania, I think our route was pretty good, and didn’t take too long, yet we still saw lots of different places!

Here’s a brief overview of what we did:

  • Brasov, including a trip to Bran Castle
  • Sibiu, including a trip to the Ocna Sibiliu salt lakes
  • Sighisoara
  • Bucharest

Brasov:

We flew into Bucharest and took the train directly to Brasov. This did take longer than expected: we missed the train we intended to get, but the journey wasn’t bad (around 2 1/2 to 3 hours).

While in Brasov, we took a day trip to Bran Castle, the only castle in Transylvania that fits Bram Stoker’s description in Dracula, and so famous for these connotations. The castle was really interesting to see, and the local area around it had some market stalls that were fun to visit.

Bran Castle was a bit difficult to get to and from: we did struggle a little finding the bus, and getting on a bus back to Brasov we realised there was only one an hour, and so we had to wait a bit. The buses run directly to Brasov however, so once you are on a bus nothing is complicated!

At Bran Castle!

The free walking tour in Brasov was also very good, and while on this we saw the Black Church, the Citadel Walls, Rope Street (supposedly one of the narrowest streets in Europe!), another beautiful church and Ecatarina’s Gate (part of the old defences of Brasov).

We also visited the White Tower, a number of Bastions, and the Sinagoga Neologa which was stunning.

While we saw a lot of the things to see in Brasov, we didn’t have time to do the cablecar which goes up Tampa mountain, which we would have liked to.

Brasov!

Sibiu:

Sibiu was lovely, and had so many ice cream places!!

While there we saw a number of towers and bastions, and the Holy Trinity Cathedral which has beautiful paintings inside. We also saw Sibiu Synagogue where, despite it no longer being an active place of worship, we were told the story of the synagogue in great detail and it’s beautiful inside.

Sibiu is also full of museums, the Bridge of Lies is essential to cross and to learn about, and it’s parks are lovely to wander.

Sibiu Coloured Houses!

We also did a day trip to the salt lakes (Ocna Sibiliu), which were super cool and fun. We took the train there from Sibiu train station, along with many other locals. There were lakes so salty you just float (!) and black mud you could smear all over yourself, as well as public-use sunbeds, drinks stalls and showers, so it was a really nice experience!

At the lakes!

Sighisoara:

Sighisoara was really interesting to visit, as it’s much smaller than the other places we went to. The coloured houses and various towers are really pretty, and getting around is pretty simple as it’s quite small! Going up through the middle of the Clock tower and Council tower was interesting, as both had amazing views and the Council Tower had an art installation inside

The Scara Acoperita (covered stairway) up to the Church on the Hill is cool to go up, and the graveyard behind the Church on the Hill was perfect for a peaceful walk. We saw a couple of other churches (the Holy Trinity Church is very pretty), and visited quite a few towers, as well as making use of local tourist shops.

While there we also discovered Kaufland (a huge supermarket) which was exciting as these don’t exist in England, so we stocked up on intriguing snacks and the like.

3 days in Sighisoara gave us more than enough time to do everything we wanted to, and so it was a nice rest period. We probably should have done 2 days here and one more in Brasov instead, but hadn’t realised this until we were there!

Sighisoara!

Bucharest:

Bucharest was our last stop, and differed immensely to Sighisoara as it’s the capital and the big roads were often 4 or 5 lanes wide!

Here we saw lots of churches, monasteries and synagogues, all of which were really interesting and beautiful.

These included: Templul Coral (this synagogue is beautiful outside!), the Great Synagogue, Antim Monastery, Kretzulescu Church (really interesting & also quite small and surrounded by the city), and Stravopolos Monastery

Cotroceni Palace was a little confusing to visit as there was only a museum open and not the palace which we hadn’t realised at first- but the museum was interesting still, and full of history.

Revolution Square and the Carol I statue gave us more insight into Romania’s history, both modern and earlier. The many parks and Botanical Gardens were also lovely to walk through, espeically as the weather was pretty warm.

Our view in Bucharest

Overall visiting Romania was a wonderful experience, and far more enjoyable than I had for some reason expected. Romania had seemed perhaps a strange choice for us to visit on holiday, and not a conventional destination, however I loved it and would love to go back and explore more.

Happy travelling! – Charlotte x

 

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Rome in 4 Days!

This Christmas (December 2017), my family and I took a trip to Rome for 4 days. We managed to see most of the main attractions, and by buying some tickets online beforehand managed to skip some queues and prevent some hassle.

Our itineray is below for inspiration should anyone else want to do Rome in a few days!

Day 1: Travelling/local area:

A large part of this day was spent travelling and checking in, however we found a lovely restaurant to eat dinner in and wandered around the area local to us – it was nice to get a feel for Rome on a weekday evening without having much of a purpose.

Day 2: Papal Audience, Spanish Steps, St Peter’s Square, Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica:

Most Wednesday mornings the Pope gives a Papal audience, which my mum and sister went to see – tickets have to be picked up beforehand on the Tuesday afternoon and queues can get lengthy on the Wednesday morning, however they assured me it was 100% worth the wait and a magical experience, especially as they are religous.

On the way to St Peter’s Square we saw the Spanish Steps, which provide some of a view over Rome and are nice to wander around.

Most of this day was spent going around the extensive Vatican Museums and St Peter’s Basilica. The Museums also include the Sistine Chapel, which, although was less impressive to me than I had expected, I wouldn’t have missed going to see. The tombs underneath the Basilica are also worth having a look at if they are open, and contain lots of former popes’ tombs.

Day 3: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Baths of Caracalla

The Colosseum was lovely in the morning and not too busy at first – I was truly impressed by it and it was easy to imagine events as they had been held there years ago.  We bought our tickets online which was relatively hassle-free, and the queue wasn’t bad at all.

Near the Coloseum there is also the Roman Forum which is interesting. It’s fairly large so takes a while to walk around, but I found it really cool to have such old buildings and monuments in the middle of the city – it was an odd feeling.

We also did the baths of Caracalla, which are well worth a look. They do close fairly early in the afternoon (as we found on day 2), but do not take too long to look around and are quite extensive.

Day 4: Catacombs, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon

This day we went to see the catacombs of St Calixtus, which was one of the highlights of the trip for me as it was really interesting to learn more about some of the lesser known history of Rome, and seeing where people were once buried was definitely an eerie thought. The tour guides that take all visitors around the catacombs were also super knowledgable and friendlt, which really enhanced the whole experience.

We also visited the Trevi Fountain, which is one of the largest in Rome and truly stunning. Not only is it beautiful to go and see, it marks one of the aquaducts from Ancient Rome and so (much like everything in Rome) has some interesting history behind it. Definitely worth a wander past!

Near the fountain is also the Pantheon, which is a dome-shaped church (once a temple) which is very impressive just because of its sheer size. The inside is also decorated nicely, and I am glad we looked in as it is particularly well preserved for it’s age.

In front of the Trevi Fountain!

Overall Rome is a lovely city and pretty easy to navigate on foot/some public transport. If we had had longer I would have liked to see some of the other catacombs perhaps, and spent more time just wandering. 4 days however I feel was a perfect amount of time to get a feel for the city and enjoy some great pizza places!

Charlotte x

 

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Favourite Sustainability Documentaries

As a far-too avid watcher of Netflix, combined with my perhaps obsessive interest in sustainability, I’ve seen many documentaries on the topic which have inspired me to continue living more sustainably. Perhaps more importantly they have also shown me things I did not previously know, such as appalling facts about waste and ethical questions within the fast fashion industry.

The documentaries below are all focused on sustainability and highlighting the need for change within our lifestyles, whether that’s through different fashion choices, our diet, or general buying and living habits. Something I particularly like with these is that the majority of them have websites linked to the documentaries with more info, resources and facts, which are really useful and I think a great way to ensure that their impact is as wide as possible.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret  – Largely based on explaining the need for a more veganised approach to our diets, Cowspiracy illustrates the huge damage that large-scale farming is creating through pollution and destruction. Much like The True Cost, their website also has some resources and facts about the issue, which are worth a read too.

The True Cost – focused on the fashion industry, this documentary really opened my eyes to the need for a new system of fashion and buying clothes, not only due to the huge waste that the industry creates but also due to the often poor conditions workers creating clothes live in. The website also has a number of extra videos annd resrouces which I found really interesting.

Food, Inc – This is somewhat similar to Cowspiracy in it’s focus on food, particularly meat and wheat farming as unsustainable and damaging. It’s slightly more USA-centric in it’s viewpoint, but the illustration of big corporations influencing the food industry caught my attention in particular, as it was something I hadn’t considered as much previously.

No Impact Man – This documentary honestly gave me so many feelings all at once. At first I was unsure I liked it, it seemed very extreme and not really sustainable for the majority of people at all – one family go entirely ‘no impact’ for a year, including no electricity, long-distance travel, or food from long-distances (such as coffee). But by the end of the documentary I felt I was left with a perfect message – it’s all about doing what you can and that individual differences can make an impact. As summed up by Colin in the documentary, ‘it’s not about deprivation, it’s not about not taking care of yourself, it’s the opposite. It’s about seeing: is it possible to have a good life without wasting so much?’

Watching the BBC’s Planet Earth and Blue Planet series (and the more recent second series which are both stunning) also highlighted the impact of pollution and global warming on wildlife and the world’s ecosystems, which I hadn’t thought so much about – these series combined with the recent photo of the seahorse and plastic cotton bud really made me consider how much waste I am creating without even thinking

 

 

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