Sunday, 22 April 2018

Another Earth Day, Another Photo Diary | Earth Day 2018

Hello guys! If you didn't know it already, today is Earth Day! It is international event held each year to remind people to take care of the world around them and to each do their little bit to protect nature. On Earth Day, organisations across the globe put on demonstrations, classes, talks, workshops, etc., to help educate people on the problems impacting the natural world, and how they can get involved in conservation. There are so many things that you can do such as donating money to charities and schemes, being more 'green' in your everyday lives which entails reducing the amount of plastics you are using or the amount of electricity you use, travelling via public transport or walking sometimes instead of always using your car, recycling and reusing things, buying from renewable sources or environmentally-friendly companies, litter picking, spreading the word about projects and/or signing petitions, or taking a more hands-on approach and getting involved in volunteering. There's seriously so much you can do! Even if you feel like it's a small, insignificant thing to for example use a reusable water bottle VS always buying water from the shop, believe me it's actually really helpful to the cause and is a very constructive thing to do to contribute to protecting and preserving the planet. Whatever you can do to help, please do it :) It's all a step in the right direction. Encourage others to do it too! 

On April 22nd annually, people are encouraged to get outside and immerse themselves in nature. You could go to a park, a nature reserve, for a scroll down the street, a dog walk, or even just venture out into your garden. Go anywhere where you can be outdoors and get a close encounter with the natural world, where you can witness how beautiful it is! Appreciate it, and take note of how important it is to protect it, so that we can go on appreciating it for many years to come, so that future generations can enjoy it! It is now Spring Time and we are starting to see flowers blooming, trees are beginning to bud, all of the animals are getting active again and yesterday & today I spotted my first butterflies of the year! It's an exciting time, perfect for getting outside after a long and cold winter :) 

Earth Day 2018

Nature for many people, myself included, has a very therapeutic effect on their well-being and mental health. There is something so relaxing and tranquil about watching the tree branches sway in the wind, listening to birds tweeting, hearing the trickle of a stream flowing over rocks, being able to smell the earth all around you. I find surrounding myself with nature makes me feel free; I am so focused on all the sights and smells and sounds around me, that I barely have chance to dwell on my anxious thoughts or worries. Who else feels this way?

Today I was not having the best of days, my physical health conditions have flared up, which in turn made me feel crappy mentally, things happened throughout the day to make me feel worse and I was just so tired that I got pretty emotional. I decided that I was going to go out into the garden and attempt to calm myself. I had been outside for less than 10 minutes, listening to the garden birds and feeling the sun of my face, breathing in the scent of the air after it had been raining (which is one of my favourite smells ever!), and I already felt a little better. I was inspired as always to go and grab my camera then, to have a wander around exploring all the intricate details in my surroundings. Nature photography is one of my absolute favourite hobbies, if not my favourite! As soon as I began to focus my attention on the tiny green shoots popping out of the soil, the rain drops glistening in the sun, zooming in with my camera on the tiniest leaf to magnify all the veins and textures, I felt content and in my element as they say :) I am a bit of wild child when it comes to being outdoors, I like to walk around bare-footed, feeling the grass between my toes and in this case, the wet mud squelching under my feet, haha! I took quite a few photographs, and I thought you might like to see them so I will stop getting carried away with myself (I can literally talk about flora and fauna all day!) and show you. Enjoy! 

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018

Just looking back through all of the photographs I've taken today has made me feel so good :) How stunning are leaves and flowers though!? It is truly amazing how complex and detailed nature really is. All of those colours and shapes and textures! Aren't they just so much more gorgeous when they are covered in raindrops?? When the sun catches them and makes it look like they are coated in glitter. I mean just look at the photograph above, that raindrop looks like a jewel. They are the diamonds of the natural world! (not that actual diamonds aren't natural, but you know what I mean haha). I'm really proud of this photo actually, and that's another thing I enjoy so much about nature photography. I always feel so happy looking through the pictures afterwards, reliving the wonderful moments all over again :) Which is your favourite photograph and why? I'm really curious to know!

So that's my Earth Day post for this year! I almost didn't get it posted in time because I've been doing so many things this evening, after my family who were visiting & having Sunday roast dinner with us today had gone home. I'm really glad though that I made the decision to go outside when all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and binge watch documentaries. It really did make all of the difference; after spending time in nature, I felt pretty reinvigorated!  I recommend that if you're feeling rubbish that you spend some time outdoors, even if it's just for ten minutes... just sit and take in everything around you, or close your eyes and just listen. I just want to end my post by saying let Earth Day be a reminder to you to get outside more and appreciate the wonders of nature, and to make changes in your life, no matter how small, like something as simple as using reusable shopping bags VS plastic carrier bags, because it is important to look after the earth that gives us so much :) I hope you enjoyed my post & photos, and I hope you've had a lovely day!

Thankyou for reading!

Have you done anything to celebrate Earth Day today?

What was the last memorable natural thing you saw?

I'd love to hear all about it in the comments & why it was so memorable or special for you :) 

For more nature related posts, check out these below: 
| Spring Time In The Garden | Earth Day 2016 | Afternoon at Avenham Park


Saturday, 21 April 2018

Preparing To Travel When You Have Anxiety | Mental Health

Hey lovelies! If you guys didn't already know, my best friends & I are heading to Portugal next month and I am super excited! The main agenda for our trip is to celebrate the Eurovision Song Contest, which will take place on the 12th May in Lisbon, however we decided to book eight days and make it a holiday! It's been two years since I travelled to Sweden with one of my besties for Eurovision and with it being a longer trip too, I'm feeling pretty damn anxious >.< I have been preparing myself for this trip for a while now and I thought I'd share some of the ways that I've been getting myself psyched for my travels, to help my fellow anxiety-riddled people! Although this post should be helpful for anyone who's going on vacation and has some nerves surrounding it!

When it comes to travel tips, there's quite a few vlogs and posts out there all about dealing with in-the-moment anxiety whilst holidaying, or how to cope with specific anxiety surrounding the flight and/or journey itself, but there's little on how to prepare before you actually set off. For me (and I know for many others too) however my anxiety is a problem before an event or trip actually takes place. Anticipatory anxiety is what causes me to work myself up and I often let the panic build to the point where I end up having to cancel my plans. Holidays are great for this in one aspect because once you've paid all that money for your flights and accommodation and whatever, you can't really go back on it! This is a blessing in disguise though when you feel like there's no turning back, but in the end it makes you work through your anxiety and conquer your fears. I know that I felt great after I'd come home from Stockholm, I was proud of myself and I had the best time so all of it was worth it, even dealing with the stress of it all! Travel is really fun and you shouldn't let things hold you back from exploring new places :) Anyhow, I feel like I'm rambling, let's get on with this post haha!

Anxiety & Travelling

Lists are your best friend!

Making lists is something that I do all the time, on a daily basis, sometimes several times in a day. This includes to do lists, goals, weekly plans, money plans, blogging objectives, the list is endless (haha, see what I did there! XD I attempted to be funny). I find that planning my life like this really helps to reduce my anxiety. Having things written down after thinking them through in my head is stress-relieving. It allows me to feel... I don't know how to word it... secure. Secure in the fact that if I stick to my lists, everything will go to plan, and for someone with anxiety of which a very common symptom is a fear of the unknown/uncertain, of not being in control, this can be super helpful. Reading through my lists, and checking things off as I go along, helps to reassure me that everything will be okay and that I'm achieving something, no matter how small of a step I've completed.

So when it comes to going on a trip/holiday, I make no exceptions... I make lists, lots of them! I start a few months before the trip, so that I give myself time to mentally prepare for travelling and everything that comes along with it. It can be a stressful experience for anyone, but add a brain that thinks that anything and everything is a life-or-death situation, and it's a whole other thing! I re-write these lists over time, updating them and that helps me somewhat memorise them, which again gives me some relief because I feel that little bit more prepared. It's very easy in a panic situation to not be able to think clearly, so memorising things ahead of time can be important. 

So you're probably wondering by now what sort of lists I actually make, right? I write lists for what I need to pack in both my suitcase and my hand luggage, what I'm going to wear each day of the vacation, what I already have and what I need to buy, a plan for the travelling to my destination and one for the journey home (times, places I need to be, what I need to bring with me, etc.), what I'm going to eat when I'm out there... basically ALL THE LISTS! For any aspect of the trip I can possibly think of, I write it all down and it helps to clarify everything for me. I recommend that you have a go at this too if you struggle with anxiety or you are super nervous about your trip. You don't have to go as extra as I do haha! But writing lists and checking them off can be essential for keeping you from panicking last minute, which is only going to make things worse!

Excitement reduces anxiety

Those dreadful anxious thoughts that circulate constantly in our minds when we are worried about something can be greatly reduced when we have something to distract ourselves. Having things other than all of your negative feelings to concentrate on is super important whenever you're experiencing anticipatory anxiety. You need to be able to channel your thoughts onto positive subjects when you're starting to feel overwhelmed by your nerves! I know all too well that it is easier said than done to try to think about other things when you are in full on panic mode, but this is something that you really have to put all of your energy into doing. If you are looking forward to something it makes it just that bit easier to distract yourself. Whenever I get anxious before going to Comic Con each year for example, I think about all of the amazing cosplay I will see, I spend the days leading up to the convention watching YouTube videos of cosplay and looking back through photographs I took at previously Comic Con's I've attended. I think about all of the awesome merch I can buy and about how much fun I'll have spending time with my best friend. I save things onto my phone so that I have easy access to something positive surrounding the thing I'm freaking out about. 

And it's the same when it comes to travelling! More than likely if you're going on holiday somewhere, you are going to be looking forward to it. No one is going to pay all that money to visit somewhere they don't want to go, so you're already one step in the right direction to begin with! There's already reasons why you are interested in visiting this destination and so it's time to focus on these reasons :) Are you a fan of history or architecture or art? Then have a google or a search on social media to find things that catch your eye! Are you going over to another town or country to see a live band or a musical? Then pour all of your attention into the fact that you actually get to see them/it in person.

For me, I love watching travel vlogs! I will (and have) spend hours and hours watching people's videos of their time visiting the place that I'm going to. The more amazing sites and interesting places I see, the more pumped up I get to see them for myself :) Honestly this has been something that has really helped me and I have not shut up to anyone who will listen about all of the awesome things to see and do in Lisbon! List making has overlapped with this too because I've now made lists of all of the sites I want to see! :D So if you are nervous about going on vacation, be sure to focus on why you want to go there and the fabulous time that you're going to have, and it will make such a difference to how you feel. 

Anxiety & Travelling

Planning is key

Some people would prefer to visit a new place and only have a rough idea, or even no idea at all, what to expect to see and do there. Although it can be exciting to not know too much and be surprised by what you discover when it comes to travelling, this is not something that is possible for most of us with anxiety. I love surprises when they involve minor things like opening presents and subscription boxes,  finding new items in a store, going to see a new movie at the cinema or trying sweets from another country, etc., all these things are not going to have a negative impact on how I function. But when it comes to visiting somewhere new, if something happens that I am not even considering and thus totally unprepared to deal with, it will more than likely have a big effect on how the rest of my time there goes. I will be on edge of said thing happening again and I might not be ready to deal with it in the moment and/or the aftereffects. Even things that seem like they wouldn't be an issue to most people may be problems for people with anxiety, so we have to prepare for so many things that might not even cross your mind. This is why planning is key!

I like to plan everything down to a T as much as is possible, but when you are travelling with multiple people this can be difficult to achieve as you have to take into account what everyone in the group wants to do. Of course travelling with a spoonie means that there are things that they are not going to be able to do so it's important that you are aware of their limitations beforehand. You wouldn't go to an all dairy restaurant (imagining that they don't have dairy-free alternatives of course) with someone who is lactose-intolerant. Just as you wouldn't go to a butterfly house with someone who has a phobia of butterflies. Planning with all people involved in mind is going to be something that will help you prepare for your travels and put your mind at ease about anything happening that you're not comfortable with or whatever.

The things that I like to plan include: what are the local attractions, how much it will cost for admission and how would I get there from where I am staying, what might I need to bring, and what can I expect from visiting such a place. Something that is a popular suggestion from counsellors and therapists is to create action plans for dealing with specific events that trigger your anxiety, such as 'going to the shopping centre'. You write down all of the things that make you anxious about going there, all of things that you predict might happen that would be a problem for you, and then write up solutions for how you are going to deal with it if what you predict does actually happen. It is also recommended that you score your predictions based on how likely they are to really occur. An action plan can be useful for anyone's mental health, whether you have anxiety disorder or not, so you should definitely give it a go if you think it might be useful for you :) 

Research, Research, Research

This point coincides well with what I said about planning, but it goes that one step further to helping those with anxiety prepare to travel. It's great to have an idea of what you're going to do on holiday and doing some basic reading about what your accommodation is like for example. However for me, researching everything I possibly can about certain places is reassuring and puts my mind at ease. I know that a lot of people like to be organised and thorough with their planning so they research the heck out of their holiday destination anyway, but I thought it was still an important suggestion to make.

When I've been researching for Lisbon, I've looked into all sorts such as locations of the attractions and what other things there are to see in the same area, so that I can spend less time on public transport. I checked out what kind of restaurants there are in Lisbon, what some of the traditional foods and drinks are, what the nightlife is like, what time the various public transport runs until, how far our accommodation is away from places I'm interested in going to, etc etc. I have read a lot of reviews about attractions, restaurants, the area in general, our accommodation and more, and seeing great reviews has helped me to feel more confident about visiting. I actually find researching really fun because I'm a dork like that :P Watching vlogs has always been a way of researching, and being able to actually visualise the locations is something that I find very useful. When I actually arrive at the destination and see places that are now familiar, it makes me feel less uncertain, and that little bit more secure in my surroundings :) 

Don't prepare everything in the last week!

Everyone I know gets kinda stressed when they are making sure that they have everything they need for their vacation ready and packed. However a lot of people I know sort most of these things out last minute, or at least within the last week leading up to their take-off date. This is something that I would advised against for anyone preparing to go on holiday, but even more so for people who are experiencing anxiety. There is nothing more stressful than feeling rushed when you're dealing with insecurities, and thoughts that you have forgotten something essential and that you are not ready to leave. It's horrid! So give yourself lots of time to get everything in order and to make yourself feel comfortable that you are well and truly prepared as far as packing goes. Try to get your holiday shopping done as early as you can. Make a check list and follow it, ticking off the items as you buy them. Read your list to someone else because they might notice something you've missed that's important to get for your trip. Even if you don't organise your suitcase and hand luggage until the final week before departure, I recommend having your suitcase ready and putting everything you buy inside so that you know where it is when you need to finish packing. Just do it as soon as you feel is good for you and then you can take your time :) Oh and make sure you know where your passport is if you're going abroad, find it early and pop it in your suitcase! 

Bring distractions & comfort items with you!

Lastly, I want to include a tip that isn't necessarily something you do to get yourself ready to go on holiday but more so to prepare yourself for any anxiety you'll experience on your journey and whilst you're there. As I was mentioned earlier in this post, distracting yourself from those anxious thoughts is something that will definitely help with your mental and emotional state, because you will not be focused on that negative internal voice, overthinking all of the worse possible scenarios. It is good to keep your mind occupied by doing things that you enjoy, whether that be by listening to music, reading, colouring in or doing a puzzle, playing with some kind of fiddle toy, drawing, watching a TV show or movie. Whatever it is that calms your mind or that pulls you in enough to focus on something other than your anxiety, bring it on holiday with you! Remember to download your music or shows/films for the plane beforehand because you won't be able to connect to the internet. Don't forget to pack a pen if you're packing something like a crossword book. 

Other than things to keep you distracted, it can also be beneficial to bring something with you that reminds you someone, something that makes you happy, something that is your good luck charm. Whatever it may be, take something that brings you comfort and make you feel better :) A lot of people experience 'home sickness', anxiety about being away from home, so a comfort item like this can help make them feel in a way that little closer to home.

So, those are all of the main preparations I make to give myself as much opportunity as I can to enjoy my holiday despite having generalised anxiety and social anxiety disorder. All of this might seem a lot to do before going on vacation, but for me these steps are essential for me to not be a complete nervous wreck. I am determined to not let my awkward brain spoil myself having a great time and doing something that I have always wanted to do, which is to travel. I might not be able to jet off all the time, or take advantage of those cheap, spontaneous trips available online, but I am doing my best to still explore the world one step at a time. I know that this was a long post, but I had lots of say and I hope that my suggestions are helpful! Let me know in the comments if there's anything  I missed that you do to help reduce your anxiety when preparing to go on holiday. 

Thankyou for reading! 

Are any of you guys going on holiday this year?

I'd love to here all about it! 

Check out this post I wrote all about travelling when you're a spoonie! 


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

April Kawaii & Geeky Wishlist

Hi everyone! It has been too long since I last posted my monthly Kawaii & Geeky wishlist!! This has been because of a combination of my crappy mental health, everything that I've been dealing with in my life for the past few months and not spending much time on social media. I didn't really have much on my wishlist at all during this time (other than ALL THE JUNK FOOD, haha!), however lately I've been starting to feel a lot better in myself and have been more active online. This means that all of the nerdy goodies available in the world have been brought to my attention once more, and I have quickly built up a list of things that I feel I am missing from my life XD So, I thought it was about time that I shared some of the wonderful items that I have found with you guys, & I hope that you enjoy reading! 

1. Card Captor Sakura or Sailor Moon Selfie Stick How cute are these selfie sticks!? I really want to start vlogging this year, hopefully starting when I'm on holiday in Portugal next month, and I am in need of a selfie stick to add some snippets of myself into my vlogs. Of course, I like to make everything in my life as kawaii as I possibly can, so I'd love a selfie stick fit for a nerd, VS a boring standard one! I personally prefer the Card Captor Sakura version. How about you? 

2. Care Bears X Kidrobot Blind Box Figures My regular followers will know that I am obsessed with blind boxes, and so it's not hard to imagine how much of my life is spent on YouTube watching videos of people unboxing them! These gorgeous vinyl figures by Kidrobot (a brand that makes ALOT of awesome blind boxes!) were recently brought to my attention on a channel called Banana Peppers, which is a side channel by the well known vlogger Graveyard Girl. I love her videos, mostly because of her quirky & fun personality, and I really enjoy watching her unbox things! You can check out the video for yourself here :) I really like the re-imagined style of these Care Bear figures, which were created for the 35th anniversary of the cartoon; the artwork is so cute! I grew up watching the Care Bears so they will always have a special place in my heart. Funshine Bear was my favourite. If you were/are a fellow fan, let me know in the comments which was your favourite! 

3. Vikings 'Ragnar Battle' Tee I am a big fan of the History Channel series Vikings, and even though I have been watching it for the last five years, I am yet to own any merchandise! (Pfft, and I call myself a fan!). Up until I spotted this awesome band tee style shirt, the only Vikings merch on my wishlist had been the Funko Pop's of my favourite characters. However, I now have a mighty need to add this tee to my wardrobe! I love the design with it's mainly blue colour scheme, and a huge print of Ragnar Lothbrok, the leading character played by the gorgeous Travis Fimmel, on the front. History geek me really likes all of the weaponry featured on the shirt, and I'm not gonna complain about the image of a topless Rolo Lothbrok on there either ;) Another thing that's cool about this tee is that there's also a print on the back, of a battle shield, swords and the TV shows logo. For only £16.99, it's a great buy! 

4. Gatomon Pin Badge by Megan Allison Design I have been following Megan Allison on Instagram for a while now after spotting a pic of her gorgeous Palmon pin badge. I immediately had a nosey at what other pins she had available and came across this Gatomon one! I watched Digimon as a kid, and although Pokemon always wins for me in the Pokemon VS Digimon battle, I did love the show and my favourite character was always Gatomon. How about you? Are you Team Digimon or Team Pokemon? Last year at Comic Con, I spotted an amazing cosplay of Gatoman and it re-ignited my love for the Digimon. Now that I will soon by able to display my pin badge collection, I feel like I can finally start getting all of the wonderful pins I've had my eye on for months, including this pin! I love the kawaii-style of this pin, the pastel colouration and all of the stars! *totally can't stop humming the Digimon theme tune*

5. Kirby's Dream Land Nendoroid Figure Over the last few months, I've been going through tough times and one of the things that has helped to keep me distracted from those horrid depressive thoughts has been YouTube. I can get lost into it for hours, and there's so many topics that I enjoy watching! One of them being room tours and shelf/bookcase tours featuring people's nerdy collections. I adore vinyl figures and I have been collecting them for many years now. I mostly have figures from blind box series by TokiDoki and Funko, but I have always wanted to branch out and get the more ornamental (and pricey >.<) figures of my favourite animation characters. Until last year, I had always shared a bedroom with my sister and this meant I had limited space to display all of my things. I therefore couldn't justify buying figures that were just going to stay in their boxes and be packed away under my bed or whatever. Now that I have my own bedroom and can fill the wall with shelves and have bookcases, there's nothing to deter me from saving up for the Nendoroid and Amiibo figures I want. Watching collection videos on YouTube has highlighted to me that there are some adorable Kirby Nendoroid's out there, and I think that's where I am going to start my collection of figures that aren't from a blind box. Not that I'm gonna stop collecting those :p 

6. Spyro the Dragon Phone Case by BluePotionCo Did you guys hear the news about the new upcoming Spyro game!? If not, they are remastering the old games for Xbox One & PlayStation 4. How exciting! All of us 80's/90's kids can relive our childhoods & the kids of today will also get to experience this awesome game franchise! I've been reminiscing about Spyro lately and wish that I could find my old PS1 games, but I have no idea where they are packed away with all of my stuff! Eeek, the joys of decorating. I was browsing through some of my favourite online stores the other day and came across this fantastic Spyro case by BluePotionCo, and I've fallen in love! I have had a phone case from this store before, a Pokemon case that you can read all about in this review I wrote if you're interested, and I was super impressed by the quality of it as well as how much more adorable the chibi character artwork was in person! It's about time that I invested in a new phone case, and I would love for it to be this one :) I think it's so great that it even includes the little sheep from the game! 

7. Calcifer Bath Bomb by SynthesisStudios Oh my gosh! I found this amazing bath bomb through Shut Up and Take My Yen, and I just NEED it now! If you've never heard of this before, it's a website that basically shows you all of the fabulous nerdy items that are available on the internet. I am addicted to bath bombs! I use them so much that I now feel really weird whenever I get into a bath that isn't colourful XD Who else has this problem? hahaha. I am always seeing awesome fandom bath bombs online, and I still haven't ordered any. But this Calcifer one might change all that because I really want it! The only thing stopping me right now is the price of shipping from the US, it's super expensive :( That aside though, this bathbomb looks so much like Calcifer, who is a fire spirit/demon from the Studio Ghibli movie Howl's Moving Castle,  and is almond scented which I'm all about... who doesn't want to smell like marzipan! The bath art that it creates also looks really cool. 

8. Guillermo del Toro Funko Pop! Vinyl I am super happy that they have finally released a Funko Pop! vinyl figure of this amazing director! Del Toro has been one of my favourite film writers & directors ever since I watched his horror-fantasy movie Pan's Labyrinth (2006) as a teenager. It has been one of my favourite movies ever since, and each movie by Del Toro that I have seen since then has been amazing. I really enjoyed his 2017 movie, The Shape of Water. It was weird and wonderful, which is right up my street when it comes to movies/TV shows. Along with the recent release of Pop! figures for The Shape of Water was this one of Guillermo himself, and I would love to add it to my ever-growing Funko collection. If they could now release some Pop's for Pan's Labyrinth, that would be great!

Thankyou for reading!

What's on your wishlist this month?

Also, if you're a fan of Funko Pop! figures, which characters would you like to see them make?


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Eurovision: First Impressions #2

Hello lovelies! It has been soooo long since I said that I was going to share a series of posts all about what I think of each of the songs that have been chosen to represent their countries at the Eurovision Song Contest this year, which will be take place in the capital city of Portugal on Saturday 12th May. If you're a regular follower of my blog, you'll probably know something about the things that I've been dealing with so far this year, the reasons why there's been so few posts on here lately. I wish that I'd been able to blog more, but my mind has just been all over the place, and for that I'm sorry guys! However, here is the long awaited Part 2 of my Eurovision impressions posts. If you didn't know it already from my twitter, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the ESC, and I have not shut up about it for the last couple of months! We only have a month to go now, and I am super excited. You can check out my first Eurovision 2018 post here if you missed it :) Even if you're not a fan of the Eurovision or have never watched it before, why not have a read and introduce some new fabulous and interesting music into your life? You never know, this time next year you might find yourselves invested in the hype and a fellow Eurofan! We may not have cookies, but we have quirky music and lots of drama so that's almost as good, right? XD 

Since writing my previous post back at the end of February, all of the forty-three participating countries have now revealed who they will be sending to the semi-finals in May. Only twenty countries, ten from each semi-final, will make it to the grand finale, to perform alongside the 'big five' countries: France, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom & Italy, as well as Portugal's act since they are hosting the show :) Even though by now I have obviously listened to all of the songs, I will still be sticking to just ten songs per post, in the order that they were announced. So without further ado, here's what I thought of the next ten ESC 2018 songs... 

11. Belarus- 'Forever' by Alekseev 

Me & my friends watched the Belarusian final and I'm not gonna lie, we really weren't fans of Alekseev's performance. It was so whiny in parts and seemed kind of out of tune. It was just one of those songs that you want to be over as soon as you start listening to it, oops! The song itself isn't bad but I really didn't enjoy the way it was sang. Since first listening to it though, I cannot deny that it's grown on me, thanks to the studio version of the song. Unfortunately though, it is still ranked towards the bottom of my top 43 because I cannot forget my first impression, and I am apprehensive about hearing it live again. Hopefully Alekseev has upped his game by then! Even though I definitely didn't like the revamped version, it's just so slow and makes the song feel like it drags on for longer, haha.  Fellow Eurovision fans, what do you think of the revamp? 

12. Montenegro- 'Inje' by Vanja Radovanovic 

Overall, this isn't a bad song; It just doesn't have that something special that would make me want to listen to it again and again. That being said, the chorus is nice and feels very heart-felt. Which makes sense now that I know the song is all about a lost love. The song somewhat reminds me of Disney song. The video that was released later for Inje has definite fantasy/period drama vibes, with it being set in a gorgeous castle and having lots of Princess running through the forest imagery. This for me made the song much more enjoyable than the live version I heard first. Personally, without the help of the video, I just find the song a little boring, and due to the fact that there are so many amazing songs in the contest this year, it unfortunately means that this song is ranked in the bottom ten of my list. 

13. Serbia- 'Nova Deca' by Sanja Ilic & Balkanika

I fell in love with this song literally as soon as I heard it! It is just such a unique ethnic ballad! I've never heard anything quite like it before :) It's so catchy to sing along too as well (apologies to my family hahaha)! I adore all of the traditional Balkan sounds/instrumentals, and to make it even more epic, it's performed in Serbian! I love that so many of the songs in the line-up this year are sung in different languages The vocals of the three singers are fabulous, especially when they are singing together. They complement each other so well! I'd like to add that the male singer of the band, Mladen Lukic, is gorgeous so that just makes me love the song more hahaha :p I have listened to this song at least three times a day since I first heard it, and I am soooo excited to see it performed live! 

14. Germany- 'You Let Me Walk Alone' by Michael Schulte 

My friends & I wanted to watch as many of the National Final shows as possible this year, and I love Germany so it was one of the shows at the top of my list to watch! It can get very hectic to keep up with all of the shows, especially with many of them airing on the same night! My fellow Eurofans will remember the hell that was Saturday 24th February XD My favourite songs going into the German final show, 'Unser Lied Fur Lissabon', were I mog die so by VoXXclub & Jonah by Xavier Darcy. I really really wanted to see VoXXclub sent to support Germany at the ESC! The song was so catchy and upbeat. The band of five guys are really energetic, so the song just makes you want to dance along! I was also so happy that it was performed in German, vs English like all the other competing songs. I am learning German right now and I just love the sound of the language! However, none of my favourites won the show so that was pretty disappointing! But I have to thank the show for bringing VoXXclub to my attention because I listen to their music quite frequently now :) 

You Let Me Walk Alone is actually a really good song and I ranked it third after Jonah before watching the live National Final. It is a song that I could very much see in the Top 40 charts. It has serious Ed Sheeran and The Script vibes! It's a lovely song to listen to as you're going to sleep in my opinion, it's relaxing. It's full of emotion, and that makes it an endearing hit. For me though, it is one of those songs that doesn't scream Eurovision. One of the reasons I love the ESC so much is that it brings songs/artists into my life that I wouldn't find otherwise. I like foreign songs, folk and ethnic sounds, something unique and fun and often too 'out there' for non-Eurovision fans. This song is not very different and although I can't deny that it's a great song, I just think that it gets lost amongst the other songs in the competition this year for me. With Germany being a member of the 'Big 5' this song is automatically sent to Eurovision, and I feel like it's got a very good chance of scoring high points with the viewers at home because of it's familiar sound. 

15. Moldova- 'My Lucky Day' by DoReDos

This is another song that has been such a grower for me! It wasn't even until very recently, and I mean within the last couple of weeks, that my opinion of it changed. Me and my friend listened to it on a drive through the countryside and sang along, and in that moment surrounded by picturesque fields with the sun shining bright, I decided that I in fact didn't find the song too bad at all! It was very fun and uplifting, I mean it just makes me want to celebrate! That being said, I can't forget my first impression of the song. After listening to the live performance of it, I was honestly like 'what the heck did I just watch?' XD The staging was very interesting... there were lots of moving mirrors and then a random outburst of traditional dancing :D It was one of the worst that I'd heard at this point VS other songs so I was bound to have a lower opinion of it. Now though with all 43 songs confirmed, it's no longer in the bottom ten of my ranking, and I find myself listening to it more and more.  With better staging, the song could certainly go up in my books. In the official video, we see the artists in an array of colourful outfits and I'm hoping they bring this flamboyant energy to Lisbon! I'm actually looking forward to dancing and singing along to it at Semi Final 2. 

16. Slovenia- 'Hvala, ne' by Lea Sirk 

My immediate impression of this song was 'Ooo this is sounding like it could be really good'. I thought that the singer looked pretty quirky and her voice was nice, so I was looking forward to finding out how the song would play out. At around a minute in, the song was sounding like something I would enjoy. Then suddenly, the chorus just ruined it all! haha :D I'm not sure what to really say about it! It has a very bad sound that makes me wish the song would stop... followed by some crappy attempt at rapping. There's also a lovely screeching sound when the singer tries to sing a high note towards the end of the song, eeek. The dancing looks pretty rubbish too, as well as the strange outfit Lea Sirk is wearing. It reminds me of wearing a bin bag as a cape for Halloween when I was a kid, oops! All of these things can be improved though before May, but I'm not sure what can be done to save the actual song in my opinion. It's right at the end of my top 43, just above my least favourite song, and I don't see it moving unfortunately. 

17. Ukraine- 'Under The Ladder' by Melovin 

This song is in my top three, I just LOVE LOVE LOVE it! The voice of Melovin (Kostyantyn Bocharov) is just something I wasn't expecting from such a young person; he's only 21. It has a definite 80's feel to me and I am a big fan of 80's music! Alongside that, it is an alternative song. The singer is certainly alternative- he wears a white contact lens in one eye which is very cool too :) I also really love the staging of this song... especially two minutes in when we see Melovin climb a random set of stairs leading up to a piano. In the official music video, we get a very awesome camera pan looking down these stairs, and the effects are just epic! It looks like a spiral vortex into hell or something XD Right up my street as far as aesthetics go! 

The song goes calm for a moment when Melovin starts to play the piano and following that the loveliest high note! He plays that piano with such passion, and it's awesome to see his head bobbing along to the beat. Then suddenly we get FIRE STAIRS!! And I am now livin' for this performance! I am praying that he's allowed to recreate this on the stage at Lisbon. It is by far my favourite staging in the ESC 2018 line up! Under The Ladder was immediately one of my favourite songs and it has stayed in the top three of my ranking ever since :) I never thought after 2016's  winning song, 1944 by Jamala (of which I really wasn't a fan) that Ukraine would be so high on my list ever! Just shows how fantastic Melovin is! Even though most of us fans still don't know what he's singing for the majority of the song, you can't deny that it's brilliant and if you don't agree, you're wrong :P 

18. Hungary- 'Visziat Nyar' by AWS

This year is a first for Eurovision fans! We've seen several awesome rock hits representing their countries in the competition over the years, straight away the winner of 2006 comes to mind, with the legend that is Lordi taking the title home for Finland with Hard Rock Hallelujah! (This is song is actually the reason I first fell in love with the Eurovision Song Contest when I was in my early teens!). However, 2018 brings with it the first ever metal/screamo song! It is something I never thought would be sent to represent a country for Eurovision and I'm all about it!! As you guys know by now, rock/metal is my preferred genre of music so I was delighted to see such a song selected by Hungary.

Even before this song was announced, I'd been listening to quite a bit of Hungarian rock music thanks to Spotify :) I just want to say that Hungary should be very proud of it's alternative artists! Fingers crossed this song will make it into the final. It's memorable, full of energy and boosts some fabulous growling ,that reminds me of my teenage years when your ability to growl was something to be shown off amongst my friendship group XD ahh, those good old emo days, haha! I am also super happy to see another song preformed in it's native language this year! It seems that Salvador Sobral winning with his Portuguese song, Amar pelos dois, last year does have some positives after all! 

19. Latvia- 'Funny Girl' by Laura Rizzotto

After being gifted with the likes of AWS, Melovin, SuRie, Rasmussen and all of the other wonderful, super talented artists in the competition so far, Latvia's entry just seemed so boring to me, and I have maybe listened to it again twice after the initial time hearing it. It's not a song that's catchy or one I want to sing along to or is it eye-catching in any way for me. Laura Rizzotto does look stunning in her red dress though! Funny Girl is not memorable and without sounding too harsh, I just don't care about it. The singer has a lovely voice so I feel like she deserves a much better song to showcase her musical abilities! The lyrics do represent something that can suck to experience... when you're only seen as the 'funny one' by people you have a romantic interest in, or when your friends all seem to be getting the attention of people when you're just only ever viewed as the friend VS the girlfriend/boyfriend. It is something that people can relate to, but despite the familiarity of the lyrics, the song itself just doesn't do it for me. Not gonna lie, I just forced myself to re-listen to it for this review, and its' actually gone down in my top 43 ranking :D yeah, not a fan! (Sorry if you are! Don't hate me >.<). 

20. Armenia- 'Qami' by Sevak Khanagyan 

When listening the 2018 Eurovision songs on YouTube beforehand, my friends & I discovered that there were so many amazing artists competing to represent Armenia and just got so invested in Depi Evratesil (the Armenian semi-finals and national final show). We watched every one of them and were rooting for all of our favourite songs: Puerto Rico by Kamil Show, You & I by Asmik Shiroyan, Poison (Ari Ari) by Tamar Kaprelian and of course, the fabulous Qami.  I have to admit that my favourite song in the selection was the one by Asmik. It was one of those songs that fills you with that immediate 'feel good' feeling. It was a great song to sing along with and I really wanted it to win when I was basing my opinions solely off the studio versions of the songs. But when it came to the live shows, Sevak's song just shined through as the best vocally and performance-wise. The power and passion in his voice was amazing to hear! It is a fantastic ballad and again, I loved that it was sung in countries native tongue. Armenian sure does sound beautiful :) 

Qami is a song that really builds. It starts off calm and slow, and then Sevak just belts his best voice out with such strength two minutes into the song... and you're just like wow! HELLO THERE YOU! ;) My first impression was that I would be very happy if it won, but because of the pop vibes and energy of the other songs in the line up, I thought that it would be overshadowed for the voters at home. But Thank goodness! The Armenian people really came through! I was sure that Qami was my winner as soon as I listened to it live! As much as I loved Asmik's song, she didn't perform as well as I had hoped she would. And Tamar's song that I was sure would win because it was a popular hit with fans... pretty much flopped live! For some reason, she sang it with not much power at all and really slow compared to the studio version. Why girl why? But yeah, Sevak's song is amazing! Even better than his studio version. I was lovin' the song so much right away, and so was over the moon when he won! 

So, that's what I originally thought of the next ten confirmed songs competing for a place in the Eurovision Song Contest finale this May. Again, I'm not sure how well I write these music reviews but nonetheless, I hope they make for an intriguing read! I promise I won't leave it this long to share my next ESC impressions post! It will be up some time next week, so if you're interested please check back then :) We are getting closer and closer to the final and I am too excited!

Thankyou for reading! 

Do you watch the Eurovision Song Contest?

What's your favourite song out of the ones I've mentioned in today's post? 

Want to learn more about the ESC? Then have a read of these posts :)

Blog Design Created by pipdig