The Versions Of Us - Laura Barnett

It all started with missed train at 18:09 (or thereabouts) from Charing Cross, a dead phone and a cold weekday evening. It was when red cheeks, frozen fingers and the unannounced timings of the next train all were incredibly present, that I was led into W H Smith and ended up reaching for 'The Versions of Us' to satisfy impending boredom on my phone-less journey home...

But what if my phone hadn't died? What if the weather had been warmer and I'd decided to walk to the station and caught the train with 20% charge to spare? Would I have discovered this beautiful book? A book based around the sole premise of what if and the small, but poignant implications fate has on our paths and future. Who knows? (Perhaps that's another novel in there) But I'm incredibly glad I did come across this debut by my new literary love, Laura Barnett.

Described as a combination of 'Sliding Doors' and 'One Day' (having only read the latter, I was still sold)- this warming, and thought provoking book tells the story of Eva and Jim, two Cambridge students- throughout their lives- from their initial meeting, through various life events- and how things may have been shaped differently had they made different decisions. Told in three versions throughout (which is surprisingly easy to keep track of), you are led fluidly through the various outcomes as the story goes on (which makes a pleasant change from the books where you have to 'select' the ending yourself and end up getting in a bit of a pickle)- making the book easily digestible, hugely engaging and completely wonderful. Once, you reach the end, it's the kind of book you feel you could easily read again and pick up something new from- which is good, as I don't know if I'm quite ready to detach myself from that brilliant Cambridge couple just yet.

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(Jacket: C/O Edit the Brand, Top: Topshop, Jeans: ASOS, Boots: Camilla Elphick, Bag: Reiss)

Last week I had a bit of a sartorial epiphany (absolutely an exaggeration, but let's run with it because it sounds fancier than 'wardrobe realisation'). I'd spent the majority of week comparing myself to others. Be it people that had passed their theory test (because apparently, I still don't have the knack like a 17 year old boy), bloggers with a more slick, polished style (read: people that I absolutely admire, but found it easier to compare myself to than seek inspiration from) and everyone else online in between- and in short, it got a bit tiring. I'd started to feel a little bit insecure with my 'sense of style' (pardon the phrase) and felt like sometimes it'd just be easier to blend in more, and quit dressing up as a milkmaid/eskimo/Anchorman tribute (cross as appropriate) and take things back a notch.

It took me near enough from Monday to Saturday (with the help of plenty of kind words from some special people) to give myself a mental slap and to snap out of it. Maybe it was Emma's incredible post on having 'tunnel vision', the arrival of my silver boots of dreams (which, if Leandra, Chung, and Bowie can all don- then heck, I'll have 'em) or the fact I realised I was being pretty ridiculous (PMT?)- but come the weekend I felt a whole lot more myself. I pulled out my most Veronica Corningstone get up, popped back the two individual black items I have into my wardrobe and carried on doing me. Because, as I think I've worked out, that's what I do best. Cheesy post over. (At least it saved you from a whole post about silver boots, right?)



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We're all going on a summer holiday...

It's no secret that I'm a fan of a bit of border hopping. Travel has become quite a poignant part of this blog, and hopefully (from what I can gage) something you all enjoy too! One of my favourite parts (bar the obvious first hand experiences)- is being able to share past journeys and adventures, aiming to inspire and share some of my favourite little pockets of the planet, in hope it could encourage you to one day visit too. So, when Expedia told me about its #My139 campaign, I was keen to hear what it was about!

Now, the second best thing to finding a beautiful holiday spot, is realising it's affordable- and its campaign aims to let you lovely lot know that by opting for a package holiday (over booking all things separately- which can sometimes be a real faff anyway) you can, on average, save £139- which is quite something! So, to celebrate this, get a little nostalgic- and perhaps inspire a summer holiday or two- I've popped together my top 10 travel experiences- all of which, you guessed, come in under £139. Now, where's my passport?

1. The short-haul stay-cation to Edinburgh

A more recent one here- but for pocket efficient travel, a UK break is absolutely top of my list. With our flights to Edinburgh skimming just nigh of the £139 mark, we were pretty much able to book a whole trip with that amount saved- which is incredible, right? The holiday was one of my favourites, and although the journey took just under two hours, it felt like the perfect getaway. See my little guide here!

2. Dining and gigging in the Big Apple

During mine and Joe's trip to New York last summer, one of my favourite memories was having a proper 'date night' in a different city. Before we left we scoured out some of the gigs going on in the city, booked tickets- and then made reservations at a favourite restaurant- making for a completely authentic 'feel-like-a-local' experience. Although it wasn't the most elaborate thing to do in the city, singing along to Wolf Alice in a sweaty bar near Bowery will forever be amazing- and anyone can do it when they go (band permitting, obvs)!

3. Seeing Amsterdam's canals by day

One of my favourite ways to see a city is by foot, and if that means sacrificing some tubes, buses and trains- then so be it! But when in Amsterdam, if you can't possibly beat the sea of bikes, join 'em! Although we successfully weaved in and out of the swirling wheels and twinkling bells- hiring them was completely tempting, and I'm sure we could have seen even more had we done so! Next time...

4. Vintage scouring in Bologna

Digging out the most beautiful vintage in cities further afield is something I find hugely rewarding, so when I visited Bologna last year, it felt like a complete luxury to visit floor to ceiling vintage palazzos and spend hours rifling through rails of rainbow fabrics- not knowing what I could discover next (plus, the charm of having more spending money means more freedom for finds- huzzah)!

5. Guinness tasting in Dublin

Heading to Dublin was absolutely something I wanted to do with my mum (Guinness fan and Irish-accent lover extraordinaire), so being able to visit on a whistle stop weekend had to involve a touristy visit to the Guinness factory in the heart of the city. With floors of history, stunning architecture and tasting experiences (still not completely sold)- it was the perfect close to home must-try (and the flights were so speedy too)!

6. Crepes by the Eiffel Tower (and pastry, always pastry)

One thing that simply cannot be beaten are flaky, fresh and buttery French pastries (erm, and bread, and cakes- but let's keep things simple here)- with crepes coming in a close second. Being able to view one of the most iconic global landmarks (from Trocadero, top tip) whilst munching on a fancy pancake (ahem) doused in Nutella from a vendor is pure luxury, and doesn't cost a fortune if you're visiting the French capital either!

7. Escaping to Portmeirion

Of all the places I've been fortunate enough to visit, seeing the sloping great hills and breathtaking landscape of Portmeirion in Wales, is without a doubt one of the most beautiful. Having been on a couple of occasions for Festival Number six (arguably one of my top three UK festivals)- it always makes for the perfect U.K break, which is completely unlike anything, or anywhere you'll ever visit.

8. Tasting chocolate in the city of Brussels

Being able to visit somewhere and sample one of the signature delicacies (or, y'know, just incredible chocolate) is the number one way to my heart (shortly followed by shoes, my bed and small animals)- and being able to taste test chocolate in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe has to be up there. The fact it's a short Eurostar ride away (it's a shorter journey than Paris) just makes everything all the sweeter too!

9. Taking a Thai Tuk Tuk

Visiting Thailand, I was given the opportunity to try a handful of things it's likely I may never have done had I visited at any other time. One of these was taking a Tuk Tuk! Obviously you can do this whenever you go, but being a bit of a big girls blouse- probably wouldn't have gone ahead had I not been with a group. It was such an amazing (and purse friendly) way of seeing the city, and surprisingly relaxing too!

10. Braving the ferry to Liberty Island

My final 'budget travel moment'- has to be getting the ferry to visit a certain Ms. Liberty! Although the queuing does take a little while, braving the boat (something I'm not a huge fan of)- and getting to walk about the Statue of Liberty in the late summer sunshine was one of my favourite things in the Big Apple! There's a reason why it's such a big hit with tourists...

Now! I'd absolutely love to hear some of your favourite experiences too- I'm always on the hunt for exploration inspiration, so do shed some light in the comments! You can keep up to date with other #My139 experiences on the site here (with £500 being given weekly for five weeks towards a dreamy travel experience)!

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Post in collaboration with Expedia, but love of travel, pastries, saving money and seeing the world entirely my own

MEET OLIVIA

MEET OLIVIA

Hello, you! I'm Olivia, or Liv- a 22 year old girl living in London, spending most of her time blog writing, photo taking, social media updating and occasionally cake baking.

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