Essential Reporting: Independent Bookshops – A Change of Pace?

Once you’ve struggled up Steep Hill in Lincoln – named that for a reason – and taken a few more steps, you’ll come to the beautiful Bailgate area located close to the cathedral.

Here you’ll find Lindum Books, a lovely little independent bookshop owned by Sasha Drennan. The shop, which has been here since 2014, stands out. It’s painted an attractive mint green colour and always boasts some wonderful window displays.

Currently in their window, you’ll see signs for their event this Friday for the talk from author Jane Robinson, about her new book ‘Ladies Can’t Climb Ladders’.

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With high streets across the UK struggling and many shops being forced to close, it may come as a surprise that independent bookshops are on the rise.

According to the Booksellers Association (BA), after 20 years of decline in numbers, independent bookshops have increased for 2 years running, with 15 shops opening in 2018 alone.

Sasha says that running an independent bookshop is hard work but very rewarding, and that they are important for a number of reasons.

“We provide a unique, enriched shopping and cultural experience, not just a soulless online transaction; and we provide opportunities to connect with others, in person, for our customers, our staff and our visiting authors – so important when so many of us only connect online yet say we are still lonely.”

Unfortunately, independent bookshops do still struggle, with there being downsides that they must work against. Sasha says how their rent and business rates are very high compared to their turnover and that they don’t receive as big a discount from wholesalers when purchasing books.

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Lindum Books, located in the Bailgate area

However, supporting your local independent bookshop generates income into the economy and provides people with employment opportunities. Bookshops can become a hub to give back to the communities that they’re a part of.

Sasha says that at Lindum Books they get to know their regular customers personally so can give advice on what books they might like. This is something that you wouldn’t experience in a chain bookstore.

With so much on offer it isn’t surprising more people are choosing independent bookshops. It seems that perhaps they’re on the rise because more people are seeking human interaction when purchasing their books. Having someone there to ask questions and speak to about new releases is a change of pace from online shopping – and there’s nothing quite like the smell of a bookshop!

Essential Reporting: Do you use your library?

Use of public libraries has been in decline over the years, which has led to many having to close. Many libraries that are left are no longer run by councils and have been taken over by volunteers from their communities.

According to Reading Agency, in 2019 the UK was home to just over 3,600 public libraries.

Statistics for visits to a public library, were completed by Statista in 2014. It showed that there were just over 282 million visits to public libraries that year, around 41 million less than 10 years earlier. Reading Agency, however, say that in 2018, there were around 233 million visits to public libraries that year. Comparing these statistics, it shows a drop between 2014 and 2018.

During this research, Reading Agency conducted a survey asking people in England how important they think public libraries are. 72% of the people they asked said they are an essential service to the community – so why are less people using them?

Greenwich Leisure Limited is the UK’s largest public library operator and their main aim is to keep public libraries open and encourage people to use them. After GLL took over some of Lincolnshire’s libraries, usage went up.

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Lincoln Central Library

Lincoln Central Library opened in 1914, and is one of the services that has been taken over by GLL. Lincoln Library offers classes to its members, a range of activities and lending of books, e-books, audio books, DVDs and more.

Louise Woolley, is one of the Library Managers at Lincoln Central. She says why she thinks public libraries are important.

“How many other spaces can you get where everybody is welcome and everyone is treated the same? There aren’t many spaces like that. We have elderly people come in who haven’t spoken to anybody all week and they can come in for a chat. We’re a lifeline too.”

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Taken inside Lincoln Central Library

GLL now help run 15 libraries across Lincolnshire but it’s not all good news.

Campaign group, Save Lincs Libraries run an active Facebook group where they post petitions and news stories to encourage people to help them in their fight. This all began when Lincolnshire County Council reduced funding to the county’s libraries in 2013 leaving many being run by volunteers.

Choosing to borrow a book from your library can help support public services and community libraries are always wanting volunteers, so if you really want to help save our libraries, get involved!

A New Year’s Challenge!

It’s a new year and as part of my resolutions I have set myself a new challenge! The aim behind my challenge is to blog more frequently – at least twice a month and to read more. I’ve been so behind over the last year with my reading because I’ve been so busy with university work. I love reading and it’s always been one of my passions, so I’m making time in 2020 to set some “me-time” aside and to read through at least 12 books throughout the year.

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I took this photo in November 2019 of Fenwick’s Christmas Charlie and the Chocolate Factory window in Newcastle.

So, what’s this challenge you ask? Well, I’m calling it my “Year of Roald Dahl”. I’ve worked hard to come up with different books and “themes” for each of the upcoming months and I’m so excited to share this with you all! I’ll leave the books as a surprise for each month’s blog posts, and you’re all welcome to read along with me if you’d like to! Please make sure you let me know if you join in, I’d love to see any posts you come up with for my themes. I’ll be using the hashtag #AYearOfRoaldDahl so please join in and use it too!

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Fenwick’s Newcastle Christmas window 2019.

Why Roald Dahl? I read some of his books as a child and loved them. I love the films based on his books. They’re feel-good, they’re happy and they’re full of silly words. I still enjoy watching Matilda on a Sunday afternoon. I thought it would be a great thing to do to get me back into the swing of reading. His books aren’t challenging and remind me of wonderful childhood memories. We all need to find our inner child and remember to do things that make us happy – that’s why I chose Roald Dahl.

Roald Dahl

To begin my challenge I’ll be reading Boy and Going Solo which is his autobiography. I’m looking forward to getting to know a bit more of Dahl’s life, which is why I chose this as my first one in the challenge – as an introduction, to teach me where he got his inspiration from for his wonderful worlds.

Let me know what your favourite Roald Dahl story is – and keep reading!

Rebecca x

Starting University and the dreaded Fresher’s Flu!

Picture this:

You start your first few weeks of a new university. You’re nervous, excited and feel like you’re prepared to get some serious learning done. You file in to new classrooms and find a seat, BUT THEN halfway through the session you realise the person who has sat next to you is sniffling. They’re coughing. They look so ill. That’s when you feel the sense of dread – you’ve just caught freshers’ flu from this lovely person.

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Image source: Google

So, what is freshers’ flu?

It’s basically what happens when a bunch of new people are together in a new place in close conditions, e.g. schools, colleges, universities, and all their germs mix together and then you catch it. I mean, that’s not exactly scientific but there is some more information available on Save the Student including ways to help make you better if you feel like you’re knocking on death’s door.

Why am I mentioning freshers’ flu you ask? Because I currently feel like I’m knocking on death’s door, that’s why.

New stationary

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Okay, on to the nicer stuff! I love nothing more than buying new stationary and the start of term is no better time. So far, I have purchased this cute notebook from Flying Tiger Copenhagen. The style is quite vintage and just plays into this old-fashioned journalist “aesthetic” that I could go mad for. Jack bought me a pack of new highlighters – that’s romance for you! These are in pastel shades and there’s nothing more useful at university than a good highlighter. I also have another new notebook, which again was a gift. I take a lot of notes and two weeks in, I already feel like I’ll be thankful of another notebook to spill over into when my first one is full!

What I’m loving!

Just to finish off, I wanted to share this ‘Cosy Autumn Wild Rice Soup’ recipe with you guys, that I found on Pinterest. I’ve actually made this and it was so delicious. Wild rice can be a bit pricey but I feel it is worth it. This recipe fed the two of us for three days, and I still have enough rice left to make another batch. Let me know if you try this recipe and what you think! It’s very autumnal and great for cosy nights in. 

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I hope you’re enjoying the changing colours of autumn and that you haven’t been affected badly by all the heavy rainfall we’ve had this past few weeks. If you enjoy the autumn themed content I’ve been creating, you can follow my ‘Autumn’ pin board on Pinterest to see what inspires me. 

Thanks for reading and remember to look after yourselves from Freshers’ Flu! x

A New City, A New Season

I love Autumn. To me it signifies new beginnings and I always feel more motivated this time of year. I class the first day of Autumn as the 1st of September, which coincidentally is also my birthday. Depending on how you measure the seasons, depends on when they start – for me, I stick to meteorological season. 1st September until the 30th November is Autumn, and that’s that!

Starbucks Lincoln

With the change of season, comes the dreaded pumpkin spice latte. I don’t personally drink coffee (it makes me go a bit loopy!) but Jack loves everything pumpkin spice, so while he is feeding his PSL addiction from Starbucks, I’m living off of their hazelnut hot chocolates which are to die for. We have just moved to a new city and are having a bit of a ‘fresh start’, however, admittedly, one of the first things we did was scope out the nearest Starbucks – awful, I know.

So, where is this new city? We have relocated to the beautiful English city of Lincoln! So far, I have been here less than a week and have managed to explore a little bit. Expect this blog to become my ‘Lincolnshire’ favourites because there is so much to do and see in this wonderful city and so much to appreciate.

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I also wanted to share how grateful I am to have been selected as a Hotel Chocolat partner for the next couple of months! This means that I get gifted chocolate from their gorgeous ranges and I have to share some creative content on my instagram page! It’s a dream come true really – working for chocolate. The bar shown in my recent photo was a 42% caramelised white chocolate bar from their single origin range. This bar was created in Dominican Republic, in the San Francisco de Macoris growing region. The taste of these bars is incredible, with different flavours featured throughout their range. This one had notes of butterscotch, malt and honeycomb which created a really unique taste. I can’t wait to try some more of their single origin bars and I will be sharing them on my instagram page, so give me a follow – @WhatRebeccaReads!

My September read is Pax by Sara Pennypacker. I’ve not been keeping up with my reading this year and I have so many half finished books lying around. I’ve gotten into the habit of reading a book and then passing it on, either to somebody in my life who has asked for it or I’ve been posting books to people around the world in hopes that they’ll enjoy it as much as me. I have so many books and it feels silly to keep them all when I could share them with other people. I really recommend people do this, either share them with other people in your life or donate them to charity shops. Everyone should have the opportunity to read and books can be really expensive so it’s a lovely gesture to pass one on!

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Finally, I wanted to share this recipe I found on pinterest when looking for autumnal breakfast inspiration. It’s a cinnamon porridge and me and Jack love it! I’ll link the recipe below if you want to give it a try.

Breakfast Porridge with Cinnamon and Sugar

I swapped a few of the ingredients and it was still delicious. I used oats instead of amaranth, as this was easier for me because I have a huge jar of oats in my cupboard. I had to reduce the cooking time by about 10 minutes for the oats. I also used cow’s milk instead of almond milk. I think it’s one of those base recipes that you could experiment with and add all sorts of extra ingredients or toppings. It also works great if you make a large batch and keep it in the fridge, just microwaving a bowl every morning – which is exactly what me and Jack have done all this week.

 

Anyway – hope everyone is enjoying the cooler weather. That’s all from me for now – Happy Friday the 13th! Hope it’s extra spooky!

Day Seven: Ration Challenge

Today is my final day! I’ve gone through phases of craving different foods over the past week – today it’s pasta! I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and enjoy some nice carrot sticks (thrilling, I know, but I’ve missed vegetables!) 

We woke up early this morning and did a car boot sale selling all the stuff that didn’t sell yesterday. We made a total of £18.50 this morning, so we’re super happy with that! I took my bottle of water and my dried apricots with me, so while everyone was tucking into bacon cobs around me I could enjoy my apricots. The food truck smelt amazing, and I’m not going to lie, it was torture.

apricots car boot

I feel that even throughout this challenge, I’ve had a very productive week and I’m quite proud of all the things I’ve managed to achieve this week. One thing I do wish I’d done, was to keep an eye on how much money I spent. I usually spend a little bit here and there, buying snacks and hot chocolates, and it would’ve been interesting to see what I bought this week in comparison. I think it’s pretty much £0 to be honest, so it’s something I hope I can keep up after this challenge. Repeat: I do not need snacks!

I visited family this afternoon and had my last black tea I was entitled to, then went home and had a nap – it is a Sunday after all! 

Today I used the last of my flour ration up to make crepes and sprinkled the last little bit of my sugar on them. I had enough of my flour left to make 3 crepes, but I have one of them to Jack (he had maple syrup – lucky!) I also think my crepe skills have got better over the week – ha! I chose to share my crepes because this is what refugees would do in camps. They have their own communities where they get together to share rations and meals – this was what was behind the spirit of joining a team during the Ration Challenge.

crepe 3

It’s bittersweet that my time on the challenge will be over once I wake up tomorrow morning, and I’m going to be very careful with what I eat and not rush into anything as not to make myself ill. I’ve never been so excited for carrot sticks before! This cause means a lot to me, and I’ve tried to prove that over the last week. Anybody can suffer from displacement and Concern UK work so hard to provide refugees and displaced people all around the world with food, education and medicine. So again, I would like to thank you all so much for being a part of making a change and helping me through this tough challenge to bring awareness of some of the struggles many refugees face on a daily basis. I’ll remember my experiences for a long time and I’m hoping it will change me to be more considerate and careful when choosing food options. To not be greedy and to be thankful of how much we all truly have.

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My carrot sticks are ready for tomorrow!

 

Sponsors are being collected until the end of June 2019, if you can donate a bit of loose change, it’d be so appreciated! If you’d like to support me by sponsoring me on my challenge, you can do so at the following link:

Every little bit helps to make a difference.

https://my.rationchallenge.org.uk/rebeccahardy

Day Six: Ration Challenge

I’ve found the idea of starving myself much more appealing than eating the same food over and over again, and I’ve been wondering whether refugees feel this way sometimes. We take for granted just how much variety is on offer to us and we pick and choose food as we please. One of the hardest things for me on this challenge has been making myself eat things that I don’t necessarily like and instead I’ve chosen to go hungry. I have the privilege that my time on this challenge will come to an end, but I wonder how long it would take for me to cave in and just accept a life eating rice. This challenge has been so eye-opening, and if you’ve been following my blogs I’m sure you’ve noticed that it has sparked questions along the way. 

ration challenge meme

After this challenge has finished, I am aiming to be slightly more conscious of my food choices and my portion sizes. It’s so easy to be greedy when we have so much on offer. It doesn’t mean we can’t treat ourselves and I’m absolutely planning on buying a happy meal for myself before I watch Toy Story 4 on Monday evening, but it’s about realising just how lucky we are to have this choice.

Today we took part in the village yard sale! We’ve been trying to declutter, declutter, declutter – people who have me on Facebook have probably noticed my relentless posting on Marketplace, but I’ve managed to sell so much this way! I helped out on that for the first two hours (we made £5.50 altogether!) and then I left Jack to it while I went to work.

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I work with food, so I’ve dreaded being around food while being starving, and today has been so, so hard. I’ve felt quite unwell all day and working a job where you’re surrounded by food, and having to lift and carry stuff when you haven’t eaten properly for a week has about killed me off today. I managed to drink plenty of water while working and ate my 40g dried apricots for today, which gave me a much needed sugar-kick.

I finished at 5pm, came home and slept until 8pm. It felt like a good idea to me to sleep for a while, I was tired, hungry, stressed and angry – this challenge pushes your emotions to such extremes.

I then made myself a crepe with a sprinkling of sugar with a small glass of milk to drink and I just kept reminding myself that tomorrow is the last day. The milk tasted weird, because my taste buds have changed, but at least my crepe turned out better this time!

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Thank you to everyone who has given their support to me, either morally or through sponsorship. 

If you’d like to support me by sponsoring me on my challenge, you can do so at the following link:

Every little bit helps to make a difference.

https://my.rationchallenge.org.uk/rebeccahardy