Monday, 27 August 2018

A Travel Guide to Amsterdam

Post Updated November 2020

Amsterdam is a city I would happily return to time and time again. It's filled with so much gorgeous scenery, a bit of history (which I'm always a fan of), and a vibrant and fun centre. I've currently visited Amsterdam 3 times but I would still love to go back whenever I can! I can't quite place my finger on what it is, specifically, that appeals about Amsterdam but it's a place that whenever I go I feel so happy. I love wandering around the little streets and admiring everything that I pass. 

After my exams, some of my friends and myself flew out there for several days and I think it was one of the best holidays I've ever had. Amsterdam is such a chilled city but it has the perfect mix of fun and unique things to do whilst not being too hectic and wild - it's the perfect mix of relaxed but busy and I just love it as a place! I cannot rave about it enough and it's definitely worth a visit when travel is allowed again!


AMSTERDAM ATTRACTION 1: ANNE FRANK'S HOUSE

Perhaps one of the main reasons and most obvious attractions to visit is Anne Frank's House. This was my second visit but both times have been so utterly worth it. It's quite a harrowing, overwhelming and shocking experience and the house and museum really do make you reflect upon your own life and how lucky we are. Both times I've been struck by just how tiny the house is and it's amazing to think how many people lived there without seeing the outside world for such a long time, and sadly, how once discovered most did not survive the Holocaust. It's an attraction that warrants a visit when in Amsterdam and it's such an important part of the world's history.

The area surrounding the house is one of my favourite parts to Amsterdam and the Pancake House opposite does amazing food! The streets surrounding the house are full of independent shops that are lovely to have a browse around and on a sunny day, the whole street is gorgeous!


AMSTERDAM ATTRACTION 2: BOAT RIDE

You will never get very far in Amsterdam without seeing water as the canals are everywhere! Wherever you find yourself in the city you will most likely be able to see some water, and if not, maybe you're not in Amsterdam anymore! Taking a boat ride was one of the first things we did when we hopped off the plane and it was the perfect way to establish what we wanted to see and do whilst soaking in the sights (and sun) of the city. It was the perfect way to get a bit more information about the city and it's such a gorgeous place to sit and watch the world go by as you admire the view from the boat.


AMSTERDAM ATTRACTION 3: MUSEUM QUARTER

This part of Amsterdam is always bustling with tourists and there are so many museums in this area to choose from. As we were classed as students, most of the museums offer free entry so we took full advantage of this and we were able to pick and choose which museums we wanted to look at without having to worry about the price. The Rijksmuseum is probably the main museum in Amsterdam and it is huge! There are so many exhibitions and artwork throughout that you could easily spend an entire day in there and not even cover all of it. We also took a trip to the Van Gogh museum which was pretty cool. Again, it offers free entry for students and we were able to go wherever inside. I loved seeing the timeline of Van Gogh's life and his actual paintings in the flesh. Sadly, you're not allowed to take photos of them inside, though I did manage to take a sneaky pic of the sunflower painting when no-one was looking! If you're a fan of art then both of those museums are well worth the visit!

AMSTERDAM ATTRACTION 4: SEX MUSEUM

Did you even go to Amsterdam if you didn't visit the sex museum? This deserved a recommendation all to itself as it's just so wacky but also kind of brilliant. It's such a fun museum with all sorts of information, videos, pictures and interactive exhibits to gawp at! The tickets are only 5 euros and you will definitely have a giggle inside. The museum, though small, is absolutely packed with information and sex memorabilia from across the ages with all sorts of weird, wacky and wonderful sex extras! One of the bits I found the most interesting were the chastity belts for women, they just seem so absurd nowadays! The background noises really make the museum come to life and you're greeted by a lovely flashing man as you enter as he tries to grab you! It's a hilarious experience and such good fun!


Regardless of where you end up in Amsterdam, the city is stunning! There are so many places to explore and I love how wacky and vibrant the city and its attractions are. There really is something for everybody as you can visit and appreciate all the culture and history of the city or you can experience some of the more unique and wild things Amsterdam has to offer! It's got just the right amount of quirky and beauty that makes me always love a trip to this city!

Have you been to Amsterdam? What places do you recommend?

If you liked this post you might also enjoy a guide to Berlin and 5 days in Lincoln!

Thursday, 16 August 2018

A-Level Advice: 13 Lessons I Learnt in Year 13

Updated November 2020

It's no secret that A-levels are an incredibly stressful time with plenty to think about and do! I've finished my A-levels and managed to get into my first choice university and am about to start my final year so I've been through the stress of A-levels, the panic of pre-university jitters and have managed to survive freshers and my first year so I thought a fun little list post of some of the realities and experiences I learnt throughout my A-level years would be fun to look back on, and hopefully, I can offer some A-level advice to you too!


laptop next to mug, noteboook and pen studying
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash



1. No matter how much you like a subject there will be parts of it you will come to hate eventually if not all of it.

In theory, you should really enjoy the subjects you pick but they will always have parts you find less interesting or you might realise that you don't really like the subject at all. It's just one of those things and you'll soon realise what you really like!
 

2. You won't remember that homework for later - just write it down.

I was awful for this and never used to write things down and have to message someone to ask what we needed to do!

3. The AOs will haunt you for the rest of your life.

The English AOs were the bane of my life! Constantly being reminded of what they were and when to include them in your essays will be permanently ingrained in my mind forevermore

4. You're gonna have to answer that question in Spanish even if you have no idea what was just said cause you're the only person there.

I was the only person that studied Spanish at A-level so I had classes alone. This was both the best and worst thing as if I missed what my teacher said, zoned out for a second or didn't understand there was no one there to rescue me or help if I missed things.

5. Don't try and take 4 A-levels - you lasted a week with Maths.

4 A-Levels were too much work and although you liked Maths the workload wasn't manageable

6. The common room is always a distraction - if you want to work go somewhere else.

Don't try to kid yourself that you'll work hard despite the music, annoying boys shouting and the general bustle of the common room. If you're serious about working go elsewhere


7. Don't cram revise, you've tried too many times and it doesn't work.

I used to be a bit of a crammer in my younger years but at A-levels, there is just too much content to learn to be able to cram. Start early and  you'll thank yourself later

8. New stationery, whilst nice, is not a motivator to revise.

I love having new stationery but buying stationery is not a substitution for revision. You need to use it, not just admire it from a distance


9. There is way too much content to learn in History.

History has too much content! It was so difficult to revise for as even if you knew everything you were probably still missing information

10. Don't study the wrong book in English.

Shout out to my school for teaching us the wrong book for an ENTIRE YEAR! That really messed up my English A-level. Check the syllabus, just in case!

11. It's not that bad if you get something wrong.

It's not the end of the world if you give something a go and get it wrong, especially in Spanish. A language needs you to try and get things wrong rather than just not talking at all

12. Some people are idiots and you've just got to accept that.

My sixth form was full of clowns and people I'd rather not meet again - that's just life.

13. If you work hard now, it'll all be worth it in the summer and on results day!

Trust me, you'll be able to have the best summer and relax for months. Work hard now and reap the benefits later!


A-levels were, being completely honest, both a good and bad time in my life. Yes, they were stressful and weren't without several breakdowns but, overall did I enjoy them? Yes! On the whole, I liked my subjects, my classes and my teachers. I had good friends around me and we did a lot in those 2 years. Now I've come out the other side I can appreciate all the hard work that A-levels were and I hope you enjoyed this slightly jokey advice post!

What were your experiences at A-level like?

Friday, 10 August 2018

5 Things I've Learnt after Working in a Cafe

Post Updated November 2020

If you know me in real life you will know that I work in a cafe, and, having worked there for well over three years now there are a fair amount of things that are regular occurrences and annoyances due to dealing with the wonderful general public. I genuinely really enjoy where I work so this is by no means a grumble about the cafe I work with but, the general public can be challenging at the best of times so here are some things I've learnt since working in a cafe!


Photo by daan evers


THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT

The customer is definitely not always right - they just like to think they are. A customer cannot always be correct cause if that were true half of them wouldn't pay for food or drinks as they believe the price is too high! A few years ago one man basically shouted at me as he thought I'd given him the wrong change. He hurled all sorts of abuse and insults at me about how I must be stupid, how it's natural I only work in a cafe (nothing wrong with working in hospitality anyway!!) and I must not have a brain. It was such an extreme reaction and it can be so hard to not retaliate sometimes. Instead, I pointed out on his receipt that 'amount due' is the amount paid to me whilst 'change' actually meant change and what I should give to him - which was correct! He didn't apologise and he walked off rather red-faced.


THERE ARE TOO MANY ANNOYING ORDERS

Working with a coffee machine means that you can receive all kinds of crazy orders. Gone are the days when people want a simple black coffee with milk on the side. Nowadays, we have people asking for 1/4 shot latte (we normally put 2 shots in), skinny, decaf, soya cappuccinos and a whole host of other options to contend with. Christmas time is the worst as hot chocolates and cappuccinos become more popular, along with our 'speciality' drinks which require you to add different flavoured syrups to each drink (then try and remember which one was which), add your coffee and milk, then cream, then marshmallows, then sprinkles, then sauce and then serve all within about 2 minutes before somebody complains that you're slow! It slows you down so much that by the time you make 2 drinks you've got 8 more to deal with. 

RUDE CUSTOMERS ARE A GIVEN

Everyone makes mistakes, myself and the others that work in the cafe are not robots and it's natural that we might forget to give you a cake (especially when you're meant to help yourself as numerous signs tell you to) or accidentally make the wrong drink occasionally. We're all human and apart from apologising and making it again, there isn't a lot we can do. The amount of people who make snide or just plain horrible remarks is ridiculous. My friend once made a latte instead of a cappuccino, apologised to the woman and said she'll make another one and was told 'no wonder you work in a cafe'! More recently a man told me to 'wait' whilst he sampled his food then immediately said that it was cold and bring him something edible. His wife thought the temperature was fine but I had to take them both back and then promptly heated them up until they were absolutely boiling, served them again and hoped he'd now burn himself after being so rude.



PEOPLE NEVER TIDY UP AFTER THEMSELVES

We're a very busy cafe in a tourist attraction with a rather small cafe considering the size of the place and the number of visitors we get. It's not uncommon to have full seats and a queue out of the door for at least 2-3 hours with non-stop serving of food, drinks and cakes. It's a very busy place, and I understand how in a cafe the staff are meant to clear up after you. However, we have tray racks dotted about the place so people can quickly put all their stuff in one place so it's easier for someone new to have their seat and takes us less time to clean up, but people never use them which means it takes 3 times as long to get to a table and wipe it as you have to get separate trips to remove the stuff on the table and take it to wash-up. We also get a lot of customers who bring their own picnics and outside food into the place and expect us to clean it up after they leave a mess. It's not even the cafe's food/drinks/rubbish so I never understand why they think the staff should clean it up. We've even had people leave nappies or baby wipes around which is so unhygienic and just gross! In the summer, we tend to get a lot of wasps and people think it's so helpful to get a jam jar and leave it open to attract them so they're not disturbed whilst eating. Yet, this then means that one of us has to try and dispose of a wasp-infested jam jar without getting stung which is not the easiest of things to do! My favourite method is using the litter picker to grab it from a distance and walking with it to the bin so I don't have to get close at all - I've had a few customers say it's a genius idea and I'm always pretty pleased with that method!

PEOPLE DON'T READ SIGNS

We have numerous signs around the cafe directing customers as to what to do, but do people ever read these signs? Nope. Examples of signs include 'Please help yourself to cakes', 'Please help yourself to milk' and 'Make sure you have a table number before ordering at the counter', but do people ever follow these instructions? Never. The number of people who after making your coffee and saying the milk is a help-yourself service next to them that still wait around for you to give them milk is shocking and hilarious. People always wait for you to fetch them cakes even though the sign says to help yourself. The reason it says to help yourself is that when we're behind the counter we can't actually reach the cakes so it saves so much time for the customer to get than to watch us struggle to grab you a slice of Victoria sponge! If people read signs, the cafe would run a whole lot smoother!

I could probably continue for quite a while with things that are annoying working in a cafe, but despite all that I actually kind of enjoy it? This post makes it sound like I have an awful time working there but, to be honest, it's quite fun sometimes and you do get some lovely customers too! The days are never repetitive and I work with a lot of friends and good people making it a nice environment to be in. The cafe itself is situated in such lovely grounds with a grand house so there are definitely worse places to work! Although it has its annoyances, I do genuinely enjoy my cafe work, bad customers too!

Anybody else experience annoyances working in a cafe? Let me know!

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