31 March 2017

Written by Ashleigh Hitter
for Daily Focal

Somebody said to me today that I was addicted to social media and I was completely affronted... Me? Addicted to social media? I got all moody and said I'm hardly ever on it, then I took a step back and realised I'm on it all the time! Because I now class myself as a blogger I use that as an excuse, got to tweet something lol, need to upload a sassy insty pic every other day, must share a thoughtful link or funny video on my Facebook page and although yes I do need to engage on social media if I want to get my name "out there" but maybe I should dedicate an hour a day to social media and find something more fulfilling to do in the other 23 hours of my day! Guess what? The world will still keep turning if you don't tweet one day! Here's a few ideas of what to do rather than pick up your phone and start mindlessly scrolling:

Catch up with your friends/family
How about rather than reading about people's lives who aren't that important to you on social media, taking that time to text (lol retro, I'd probably Whatsapp) a friend or family member you haven't spoken to in forever because "you don't have time" or, you could even pick up the phone and speak to your grandparents for 10 minutes, you know they'd love to hear your voice and they'll be telling all your other family members that you called.
[Number one grandchild award goes to me *inserts sassy girl emoji* lol]

Cook something
It doesn't have to be a calorie ridden divine Vicky sponge with fresh cream (although that would be bloody delightful) you could do something as simple as cooking your lunches for the week, not only do you get to eat the leftovers it'll also save you some money and prevent you from buying a sausage roll from the sandwich lady (again) and if you can't resist staying away from social media all night insty story your work of art or tweet about it! 

Get creative
Off the top of my head I can tell you 3 things I have been meaning to do but just don't have time... Well I would if I put my phone down. I still haven't completed my America scrapbook.I went over a year ago. My great British bake off (yep you heard right) colouring in book although so enticing has been left untouched and my positivity book has seldom complete pages! Surely more enjoyable than getting thumb ache from all that scrolling? And think of all the pretty pens/pencils it gives you an excuse to buy!  Once again if these delights are completed it makes much more exciting content for you to tweet/blog/insty about.

I'm not talking running a marathon here, but go out for a walk, bike down to the shop/park/river (the closest 3 exciting things to my flat) or just go out and get some fresh air. I downloaded the Fitbit app as was pretty sure smashing 8,000 steps in a day would be easy, oh how wrong I was. Just to put this into perspective it's 11:03 and I've done 64 steps, granted it's Sunday AKA bed day, but still set some targets (start small) and get a bit competitive with yourself. I'd much rather walk 1,000 steps than sit on my lardy for half an hour, because I can do that for the rest of the night! 


29 March 2017

Written by Lauren Francis
for Daily Focal

A tale as old as time Beauty and the Beast is one of the most iconic Disney movies, and the hotly anticipated live action remake has hit our screens. Sticking true to the premise of the original story, Belle (Emma Watson) is a strong willed young woman who is defiant in breaking free from the small, narrow minded village and adamant she will not marry the self obsessed village hottie, Gaston (Luke Evans). Meanwhile in the castle nearby the Beast (Dan Stevens) resides following a spell from the enchantress who cursed him and whoever was living there, only to be broken should the Beast fall in love - and be loved - before the last petal falls from the Enchanted Rose. 

I am throwing it out there early on that I am not the biggest Emma Watson fan, and was wondering whether I could look past this and enjoy the film. I did spend a portion of the film having flashbacks of Hermione and thinking will you please untuck that dress, but overall she does quite the dazzling job at portraying Belle. Dan Stevens had quite the uphill battle having to push past the CGI and make his character visually believable, which he did.

As with any remake change is to be expected and you will come away comparing it to the animated film. It very much focus on the love story between Belle and the Beast and discovering inner beauty. Despite the unease she experiences to begin with, I think most us would be petrified at the very thought of being locked up forever by an angry beast in a crumbling castle, she however warms far too quickly to him without there being any real character development. The Beast is somewhat on the sidelines and although there was some eluding in the prologue to set the scene on how he became a Beast, the focus remains firmly on Belle, her journey and snippets of her past.   

It is incredible to see how far animation has come. It is certainly evident from the outset that this is no half-hearted effort. I sat there totally engrossed on more than one occasion feeling like I was in the thick of it. The Beast’s kingdom was dark, gloomy and had me, metaphorically on the edge of my seat. Despite knowing the film inside out it didn't feel predictable.

We cannot talk about Beauty and the Beast and not mention the talking furniture whom actually steal the show. Emma Thomspon plays the talking teapot and the mother figure throughout the film bringing the air of reason to all. Chip, although not as cute as the animated number, you are still going to want him in your life. The real favourite was Lumière, the candelabra. Get past Ewan McGregor’s eccentric stereotypical French accent and he is just oh so loveable.

Gaston (Luke Evans) is bang on what you expect, self obsessed, narcissistic, and a swagger that oozes arrogance. I would like to mention the ‘exclusively gay moment’ between LeFou that caused some uproar, what an overhype that was. Why this should even cause outrage when this is 2017, is beyond me. 

The accompanying sing-a-longs were perfectly placed, with Watson, Evans and Stevens doing a far better job than expected. Thankfully those of us who are true to the original film will be happy as some of the classics were included as well as some new catchy tunes. Be Our Guest was a vision of jam packed action, proving to be visually the most vibrant and memorable part. Sadly I was a little let down by the iconic Beauty and the Beast which was flat and didn't bring the elegance and emotion to match the pinnacle dance between Belle and Beast. 

Beauty and the Beast is magical, witty, pulls on the heart strings and keeps you on your toes. It’s not easy to remake a classic and with the best will in the world it wasn’t ever going to replace the animated version. It has stayed true to the nature of the original film with some slight changes and didn't leave me disappointed. This 129 minute film is a must watch, in fact I would happily go right now and watch it again. 

Lauren's Film Review Ranking:

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24 March 2017

Written by Kirsty Hanson

for Daily Focal

Since I’m a massive book lover, whenever I hear news about books being adapted into films or television shows, I instantly become nervous; especially when they’re adaptations of books that I have read and enjoyed! There are a lot of adaptations coming in 2017, so I decided to compile a list for you with their release dates (if there is one!)

(Release date: 3rd March)

This is an amazing book about a popular high school senior called Samantha Kensington, who is enjoying living a wild day in February until she suddenly dies in a car accident. However, she still wakes up the next morning and the next morning, and the next (think Groundhog Day). Sam lives the last day of her life seven times until she finally realises that by making the slightest changes, she holds more power than she ever imagined.

(Release date: 7th April)

The book follows the character of August Pullman who was born with a facial difference that previously prevented him from going to a mainstream school. But now, he’s starting fifth grade at a prep school, he just wants to be treated as an ordinary looking book, but his classmates just can’t seem to get past his face. The book begins from August’s point of view and then switches to his classmates, his sister, and others point of views. The film stars Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay.

(Release date: 19th May)

We follow the story of a girl who is quarantined in her own home due to being allergic to everything. She is not allowed to step outside in case she dies. But then a boy moves in next door and she becomes fascinated by him and the mysterious life that he leads. Together, they will both discover a world that they never knew existed.

(Release date: 28th July)

This is an adaptation that I’m particularly excited about because I can’t wait to see Idris Elba portray the role of Roland! The book follows the Gunslinger, Rolans Deschain as he roams an Old West-like landscape in search of the dark tower, in the hopes that by reaching it, he will preserve his dying world. 

(No Trailer at Current Moment)

(Release date: 31st March)

I really didn’t like this book. I think I gave it 2 stars or something like that so I’m hoping that when this series comes to Netflix, it will be better than the book (because it can’t really get much worse!) The story will span over thirteen episodes (ha, see what they did there?) and follows Clay Jensen as he comes home from school to find a parcel on his doorstep containing cassette tapes from a girl names Hannah, who committed suicide.Throughout the book, we learn about why she committed suicide.

(Release date: April - exact date unknown)

Neil Gaiman’s fantastic book - American Gods - will be receiving a television series on Amazon Prime in April. It will previously be aired in March on Star network in the U.S but unluckily for us U.K folk, we have to wait an extra month. I cannot wait for this adaptation as I’m quite curious as to how Ricky Whittle will be in the role of Shadow Moon. The book follows Shadow, a man who returns to his hometown to find that the love of his life and his best friend are both dead. He is then left on his own to put together the pieces of what happened. It is set in an alternate version of the U.S where gods of the Ancient Egyptian and Norse mythology live in hiding among the every day people. 

So there we have it guys! Those are my most anticipated book adaptations for 2017. I’m sure that they’re are going to be more that are going to be announced over the coming months and of course, we have the adaptations that have already come out this year like Lemony Snicket’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events. You can read my review of that here.


22 March 2017

Written by Ashleigh Hitter
for Daily Focal

I have always been a bit of positive Patricia, maybe verging on the side of annoyingly so. However, since hitting my mid (late) 20's it seems that I'm more of a moaning Morticia these days, which if I'm quite frank is a pain in the arse. I used to love waking up with a fire in my belly and a passion for things and turning those negative things into a positive, unfortunately of late that just hasn't been there for me. 

Buy here
With all this in mind and to try and focus my mind and spirit someone wonderful bought me "The Positivity Kit" a book by Lisa Currie and boy oh boy, it's just what I needed. With an opening scribe insisting "this is not a book to just look at. It's a creative space for you to draw, write, doodle over ad cut and paste. Soon it'll be a catalog of everything that makes you feel good and excited"  Just reading this got me in the mood and armed with crayons, fineliners and hope I started pouring everything into my delightful work of art. I'd like to point out here that my art is worse than my 3 year old nieces but I've enjoyed trying really, really hard.  

Every page is filled to the brim with things to draw, colour in and really gets your mind thinking about happy memories and things that fill your heart with joy. It will definitely take me forever to complete but I like the idea of that and I read through the whole book before I even put pen to paper..... because I didn't want to ruin anything, although it is aparent you can't do something wrong in this book because it is yours all yours and something to refer back to whenever times are hard.

This book has already helped me get that little bit of Patricia back and I hope she will shine through the more I complete of it. 

Let us know if you've competed a Positivity Kit or if there are any other great books that would help us on our journey!


18 March 2017

Written by Ashleigh Hitter
for Daily Focal

I can feel it, its coming (let's just gloss over storm Doris for a moment) Spring is most definitely on its way. I love the changing seasons in the UK because its just quite amazing seeing how our little world evolves and adapts.  I love wrapping up warm for winter, cue bobble hats and pom pom scarves (I salute you River Island) but I'm ready to get warm now, thanks. I've been very aware of my surroundings this week for some reason and that's when I've spotted these telltale signs of spring:

1. Snowdrops - scuzzy why have I never realised the wonderfulness of these beautioful flowers before? I have seen them everywhere and they have put such a smile on my face - however my friend did tel me it's unlucky to pick them and take them inside your home, not sure on that one?

2. The nights are drawing out - This is such an old person thing to say "ohhh Ethel the nights are drawing out aren't they?" in my head this is said in a broad Norfolk accent, but it's true, they are and its delightful. Waking up and it's not pitch black, leaving work and it's not pitch black, basically what dreams are made of.

3. Daffodils - Another thing of beauty, I've had a few bunches and watching them come out is probably better than cheese on toast.... note I said probably. What's better on a dreary day than bright yellow flowers and now I'm smiling just thinking about them.

4. Birdies - Lovely little birdies singing in the trees in the morning, yes, yes and yes.

So, although Spring doesn't official start until March 20th it's putting in the best of moods knowing that it's definitely enroute.


17 March 2017

Written by Kirsty Hanson

This May will be the second time that I have finished year one of university. Confused? Last year, I went to Staffordshire university and I hated it. Don't get me wrong, I met some awesome people and I'm still friends with some of them now, but I just had to leave. The course was awful. So I went to Birmingham City University and started year one all over again (doing a different course).

At the time of writing this, it's the end of February which means I've got an assessment in for the 1st March and two other assessment in for a couple of weeks. I think it's safe to say that I'm stressed out to the max. 

But how do I handle this stress and this workload? Well...

1) I do some of the work the day I get it. And by some of the work, I mean I do the reading. Each week, we are given reading to do for every module which accumulates to about 100 pages overall. So I do that straight away. 

2) After I've done the reading, I finish for the day. Reading 100 pages off a computer screen tires me out. 

3) A massive tip for you: don't do the work all in one go. You will get bored and you won't have any motivation. Do a little bit of the work each day so that by the end of the week, those little bits you have done and built up and you've finished it. 

4) Make time for you. You don't want to be doing uni work all day every day. You will start to resent your course and everything about it; you don't want that to happen. So make sure you make time for yourself, for friends, and for family. (And also for your other commitments such as your own blog)

5) Once you've finished and handed in an assessment or done an exam, treat yourself. It doesn't have to be something massive, but every time I finish an assessment, I buy myself a book. It gives me that extra motivation to finish because I know I'll be able to buy myself something I've wanted for ages. 

For those of you who are in the same boat as me at the moment: try not to stress. Take a deep breath and plan your work according to what suits you. 

I have 3 months now of pure assessments and sometimes I feel like I want to break down crying because it's too much, but then I have to tell myself that I just need to get through those 3 months and I have til September to concentrate on things I want to do that I couldn't whilst studying. 

Good luck with your assessments and exams.
Now go and kick some ass!


15 March 2017

Written by Annelies
for Daily Focal

My name is Annelies from The Frugal Teen, and this is my first post for the Daily Focal! I wasn’t sure what to write about at first but after having read Marc’s 10 random facts about the Netherlands, I thought I’d write a little about France (and in a separate post, Belgium) as they’re my two nationalities. I hope you enjoy!

1. Sports

Some people might just picture us as a country who never leaves the dinner table and is always snacking on cheese and baguette but actually we’re quite an active nation! We’re quite good at football- coming second in the UEFA Euro 2016- as well as cycling, rugby and horse riding.

Furthermore we have made our own games up such as the ball game petanque which you will see being played all over France, especially the picturesque villages!

2. Royal family

As you may well know, France has a particularly interesting history when it comes to the royal family, with the last two people on the throne being Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI who were guillotined (our own invention, oh yes) during the French Revolution. Did you know these fun facts though? That Louis XIV ascended to the throne at only four years old? Or that Louis XIX was king of France for just 20 minutes?! Yup. It’s worth learning French history just for those facts, trust me.

3. Food 

We are well known for our food it has to be said, there’s the stereotypical obsession with cheese, baguette and garlic, but we do eat other things not to worry. My favourite dishes include crepes, galette des rois, ratatouille and all those quiches we all love and cherish! 

4. Language

As with many languages there are different accents all over the country, however, as French is the official language of many countries from all over the world, including Switzerland, Canada, Ivory Coast, Luxembourg, Monaco, Congo and Niger, it’s safe to say we have more accents than most languages. Having said that, we don’t have as much of a gift at languages than perhaps the Dutch or Belgians as only 34% speak English but Spanish is often learnt in schools too.

5. Myths

Ok guys, let me clear up a few things for you here. Nope, French toast and French fries aren’t French inventions, the expression “let them eat cake,” is falsely associated with Marie Antoinette (it was created even before she was born), and “french kiss,” is just an English slur that doesn’t concern us at all, you just believed our culture was too orientated around sex!

6. Roman History of Paris 

Did you know Paris was once a Roman city called Lutetia? Once controlled by the Gauls until in 52 BC when the Roman forces led by one of Julius Caesar's lieutenants. They then controlled the city and made it Romanised, to a population of around 8,000. It was later renamed Paris in 360 AD. Many of the remains from the Roman’s time in control can still be seen in Paris today. 

7. Tourism

With France being a relatively large, beautiful and historical country, it's easy to see why it got 83.7 million visitors in 2014 (according to the World Tourism Organisation) and is ranked the world’s number one tourist destination! With the culturally rich Paris, the beautiful south coast, the green countryside and the mountains, it’s safe to say that there’s something for everyone.

8. The Alps 

France is home to Europe's highest mountain: Mont Blanc. It stands at a huge 4,810 meters and takes a long 10-12 hours to climb to the summit. Or you could take the justifiably more lazy route and take the 20 minute cable car trip instead so you can still get the stunning view of Mont Blanc. Its many surrounding mountains bring an abundance of skiers and snowboarders every year. 

9. French Empire 

France once controlled 8% of the world’s population, making it the second largest colonial empire in history. This leads onto another strange fact, (which I didn’t know before research) it has 12 time zones! This is the most in the world, due to its colonisation of islands, including French Guiana, French Polynesia and Saint Martin. 

10. Health care

The first artificial heart transplant and face transplant both took place in France. The heart transplant took place in Paris in December 2013. The “heart” was a bioprosthetic device, which mimicked a real heart’s contractions but is powered by a lithium battery and weighs 3 times more than the real organ. Might be a small, random and relatively unknown fact, but safe to say it proves to be a big step in medical science.

We'd love to know...
Do you have any other interesting facts about France we haven't mentioned?
[Leave a comment]


03 March 2017

Written by Nafisha Atcha
for Daily Focal

This week is National Eating Disorder Week and the theme for this year is to talk more about eating disorders. Having an eating disorder is quite possibly one of the most complicated surreal things a person can go through. It can trap you in this void. You can often feel alone and like you have no way out. If you are feeling like this, I wanted to share with you five steps to help you get out of that void and hope you can away from the troubling illness. 

Admitting you have an eating order 
The eating disorder voice can do a very good job at tricking you in to thinking the way you eating is normal and can overpower the rational part of you that knows otherwise. It takes immense strength to overcome it and admit you have a eating disorder. It is arguably the most difficult part of your recovery. 

Getting Therapy / Treatment
Often people with eating disorders feel ashamed and do not want to worry there loved ones with their thoughts and anxieties. Getting therapy bridges this gap as it allows someone who is not from your inner circle who has no idea of the person who you were before this illness took over. Their goal is to help you discect your thoughts and help you on your road to recovery. There are many forms of therapy options available to you and the eating disorder clinic will help you in choosing the right one to suit you and your needs. 

Listen to you and your body 
One of the weirdest thing you can find on the road of recovery is listening to your body. You spent so long going against your body, not feeding it in the correct way and in the initial stages you may have to work up to eating more. The one thing you have to relearn is listen to your body. From your body telling you it wants a piece of chocolate, eating that chocolate to having a glass of water.

Go at your own pace 
The road to recovery can take anywhere from a couple of months to a year. The truth is, that it will be one of the hardest things you have to do but it will the best thing you do. Do not get disheartened if it takes you longer than you imagine. You are essentially re training your brain and train of thought. That take times. It is possible but it takes time. 

Talk about it
When you open up to those nearest and dearest to you, you will find it easier to accept yourself again. The self loathing and hate you felt will go down and in turn will help you on your path to recovery. 

Eating disorders are one of the most self loathing, consuming, isolating ilnesses to have. If you are currently suffering from an eating disorder, please know that help is out there and you are not alone. 

If you would like someone to talk too about your eating disorder, please send me an email to and I will do my bets to guide you and help you in anyway possible. 


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