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I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai

Hey Lovely People!

How are you all? I hope that September has treated you well and like me, you’re keeping warm from the rain outside. I noticed yesterday the leaves are starting to turn, clearly Autumn is upon us. Today I wanted to share with you one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read: I Am Malala. Wow. There aren’t enough words for this book. Malala Yousafzai is a name that everyone has heard of so I wanted to read her story and what an amazing story it was for me.

What’s it all about?

The book is written in five parts, covering various points in Malala’s life. Part One covers Malala’s life ‘Before the Taliban’. She describes her childhood home in Swat Valley where Malala, her father Ziauddin, her mother Toor Pekanbaru and her two younger brothers Khush and Atal, lived. Ziauddin’s father, Rohul Amin was an imam and a teacher. Ziauddin studied a Master’s in English at Jehanzeb College. Malala was therefore surrounded by great thinkers and educated minds. Malala is very honest in her narrative, they are a normal family and her brothers irritate her.

“I don’t want to be thought of as the “girl who was shot by the Taliban” but the “girl who fought for education.” This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.”

Her father opened the Khushal School with a partner Naeem, who had to leave himself due to financial problems. So, Ziauddin found a new partner, Hidayatullah, who helped him to bring the school into profit. This profit enabled them to open more schools in the area. Toor Pekai would bring any children who were in need to live with them and Ziauddin would give them free places in the school where they could learn and thrive.

Malala spends time in her narrative explaining the changes in political regimes in Pakistan, the first drone strikes in Pakistan in 2004, following 9/11 in America and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. I remember 9/11 in particular because it was my first day at secondary school. Just like Malala, many of us can relate to and remember events in history that have happened that have shaped our world today.

In Part Two, subtitled ‘The Valley of Death’, the narrative centres on the growing rise of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in Swat. Back in 2006, Fazlullah began an ever increasingly popular radio broadcast where, initially advice was given on matters such as ritual ablution and drug abstinence. However, the focus of this changed to the condemnation of music and dancing. Finally, the instruction came that women were to stay in the home. To Malala, who loved to go to school with all the other girls, this was a complete travesty. Nevertheless, this did not stop her from getting her education. Malala was absolutely determined to go to school.

“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow.” Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”

The war in North-West Pakistan was still raging and the return of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan has devastating results. As an activist for women’s rights, her return led to her assassination. This murder was just the start as the Taliban began to commit further murders. Ziauddin Yousafzai continued to speak out against such violence. His daughter, Malala, began to write a BBC Urdu blog under the pseudonym Gul Mukau, sharing tales of how life was during this time.

“If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?”

More woe descended upon Swat when after a Taliban edict in 2009, Malala’s school was forced to shut down. Malala and her family had no choice but to move to Shangla for the next three months.

Part Three is entitled ‘Three Girls, Three Bullets’. It is in this part where Malala describes her horrific ordeal with the Taliban.

“The Taliban could take our pens and books, but they couldn’t stop our minds from thinking.”

By 2009, the army have fought off the Taliban in Swat and the Yousafzai family return home. Malala’s school re-opens and she visits Islamabad with her school friends. Here she meets Major General Arthar Abbas and gives a public speech. Malala is used to giving regular public speeches with her father in various interviews. Each one bares the same message: criticism of the Taliban and the ineffectiveness of the army.

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

Mother Nature adds to the destruction of Swat, the 2010 Pakistan floods destroyed many buildings and left many people without food, clean water and electricity. Also, things are still very politically charged in Pakistan. CIA agent Raymond Davis murders two men and the Americans kill Bin Laden. The consequence of this is widespread mistrust of American influences in Pakistan by the public.

However, for Malala, it was like as usual. Malala began to win numerous prizes for her activism. She continues to speak out about a girls right to education. She appeared on Geo TV and visited the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Due to her courage at standing up for what she believes in, Malala started to receive death threats. This worried her parents immensely. In August 2012 when Zahid Khan was shot and killed, Ziauddin expected to be the next target. Malala also begins to worry that she too is a target but her focus is on her exams and she is desperate to study hard and do well.

“We were scared, but our fear was not as strong as our courage.”

However, what follows shocked me to my core, along with the rest of the world. After her Pakistan Studies exam on the 9th October, two men stop her bus and come aboard. They shout one thing: “Who is Malala?” Then three shots are fired.

“I told myself, Malala, you have already faced death. This is your second life. Don’t be afraid — if you are afraid, you can’t move forward.”

Part Four is subtitled ‘Between Life and Death’. We learn that one bullet travelled from Malala’s left eye to her shoulder and her two friends, Shazia and Kainat were also injured. Thankfully, not fatally.

Ziauddin gave a speech with the Association of Private schools before rushing to the hospital to be with his daughter. Her mother was learning to read and rushed home to pray. Malala was taken by helicopter to the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar where she was then airlifted to a military hospital in Rawalpindi. On the 15th October, Malala was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham aboard a United Arab Emirates jet. However, her father refused to come as the rest of the family could not travel without passports. She made the journey with her medical team, alone.

“I reassured my mother that it didn’t matter to me if my face was not symmetrical. Me, who had always cared about my appearance, how my hair looked! But when you see death, things change. “It doesn’t matter if I can’t smile or blink properly,” I told her. “I’m still me, Malala. The important thing is God has given me my life.”

Part Five is called ‘A Second Life’. Malala woke up in the Birmingham hospital on the 16th October. However, her thoughts were not of herself or her injuries. She was obsessed with the location of her father and the safety of her family. She knew full well that she and her family could not afford medical treatment. Finally the medical team answered her questions.

Malala received 8000 cards and many many presents. Her family arrived 9 days later to join her in her recovery. In November Malala underwent major surgery to repair her facial nerve. The following January she was discharged from hospital. In February she underwent further surgery to get a cochlear implant.

The story ends with her new life in Birmingham. She missed Swat and her friends terribly. Yet, she decided to continue her activism, to spread the word about the importance of education. She wants to become know for “the girl who fought for education” rather than “the girl who was shot by the Taliban”.

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

Overview

This book was so inspiring, so shocking and everything in between. Education is a massive part of my life. I remember as a young girl going to school, never questioning it or even realising how lucky I was. Reading this book has made me appreciate my education so much more. As a teacher, I want to share this book with everyone. I’m not really into reading about political history but because this was in my lifetime, I felt I appreciated it more. Obviously, it is something that has been in the press a lot so I valued having Malala’s own words. This girl is so inspirational, thank goodness for her.

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”

Finally, on a different note, today is the first day of Autumn. To celebrate, I’m launching a new swoosh at the bottom of every post. Hope you like it!

Big love all xxx

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Filed under Book review, Books, Education, Reading

Beatrix Potter & The Lakes

Hi All!

Apologies for my absence but I’ve been on holiday to the beautiful Lake District. I promise to catch up on all the wonderful things you’ve been posting about, but first I wanted to post about all things Beatrix Potter related from my holiday.

I’ve wanted to go to the Lakes for a long time for many reasons but the main reason was to see Beatrix Potter’s house, Hill Top. The Lakes is a stunning part of the country, with its beautiful water and greenery. Hill Top was a piece of this incredible jigsaw.

Everyone’s grown up with Beatrix Potter’s tales: Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Benjamin Bunny, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Tom Kitten and others, and I was no different. I adored them! The stories, the pictures, each being equally magical for me as a young girl.

It started with Peter Rabbit, originally written in a letter, being published in 1902. For well over 100 years, these stories have inspired and shaped many childhoods. The humble cottage at Hill Top is no less inspiring.

Beatrix Potter was a remarkable lady with many talents. She wrote, drew illustrations, painted, sheered sheep, ran a business and played a key role in the community at Sawrey. She bought vast amounts of land to protect it from future developments, meaning the rolling green hills were and always would be protected. The views from her cottage were just incredible.

As I was walking around her cottage, I felt nothing less than inspired. To see the places that shaped her stories, the life she so happily lived, was just sublime. Her cottage has been left pretty much as she lived in it. I felt if I closed my eyes, I could see her and her life here. There are references to animals and the outdoors everywhere. I personally loved this little fella:

Its small size made it feel even more intimate and homely. You could step inside and just live there. It was welcoming and cosy; I knew straightaway why she preferred here to her London home. It was peaceful and tranquil. As soon as you walked in through the front door, you could feel what it was like to be home.

Whilst exploring here, I also had the opportunity to see some of the places that inspired the stories I came to know and love. It’s something I really enjoy doing. When you’re able to see for yourself the pages coming to life, it is a gift. I felt so genuinely grateful that it has all been preserved for us to see and continue to love.

The first iconic location was Anvil Cottage which featured The Tale of Samuel Whiskers.

Second is the world famous Postbox from Peter Rabbit.

Next is the Ginger and Pickles shop. It doesn’t look like a shop now but the building is much the same. This of course comes from The Tale of Ginger and Pickles.

Then on the trail was The Old Post Office from The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan. This too isn’t a post office anymore but again the beautiful is lovely.

The penultimate place was Tower Bank Arms which was so lovely. We popped in here for a drink and some cake which was a naughty treat. However, it was a really quaint place. This features in The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.

Lastly, and from my favourite Beatrix Potter story, The Tale of Tom Kitten. I am talking about Tom Kitten’s gate of course. The view was spectacular. It’s a stunning place.

Hill Top is an amazing place. It’s thought provoking, inspiring and I had an amazing time. I think Beatrix Potter would be so proud of the legacy she’s achieved. For one lady to continue to inspire millions of children for generations is really quite remarkable. I’ve been so desperate to go and I’m so thrilled I have.

I hope you’re all having an excellent August. Enjoy the rest of the week!

Big love xxx

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Filed under Beatrix Potter, National Trust, Photography, Places, Summer 2018, Weekend Trips

Newcastle Adventure

Hello Everyone!

July seems to have become the month where I go off exploring. School hasn’t quite finished but this weekend has certainly made me feel like I am on holiday!

This weekend I spent time in Newcastle and the surrounding areas. It’s only my second time in Newcastle and I absolutely love it! There’s some really beautiful buildings here. I liked this guy most!

The first stop was Souter Lighthouse, standing midway between the Tyne and the Wear. This lighthouse opened in 1871 and stands proud today. It remains an iconic beacon. It’s the first lighthouse in the world that was designed and built to be powered by electricity.

Due to it being such a clear day, the views span for about 35 miles. Amazing!! You may remember from my previous post that being near the sea is one of my favourite things. This was just beautiful. Again, I felt like I was abroad. We need to cherish our British seasides really. They are just as good as any other.

After exploring the lighthouse and mooching about the coast, I then started to head towards Seaton Delaval Hall. This grand hall sits perfectly within Georgian society. However, it was more of a party house.

The Delavals had a flamboyant lifestyle and were full of life. They were known as the most notorious Georgian partygoers and pranksters. Everyone wanted to be invited to their balls and parties. It was hot topic at the time!

However, today this house requires your imagination as it was ravaged by fire two hundred years ago. It still wears it’s scars today. I don’t think this detracts from its beauty though. I think it adds to it because it survived.

The day of adventure didn’t end there! After having ice cream and lazing in deckchairs soaking up the sun, the last stop was to see The Angel of the North.

Created by Anthony Gormley in 1998, it stands 66ft tall looking over Gateshead. The wingspan is 177ft across, opening its arms across the city. Gormley wanted to create a sense of an open embrace.

I’m really thrilled I’ve seen her. Photos really don’t do it justice; you need to see her and experience her for yourself.

What an incredible weekend. I can’t believe I saw so many beautiful things in one day. We have some amazing places in this world but it’s what it makes us feel that’s just as special. This has given me the motivation to see out the last of this term. I can do it! If you ever have a sense of doubt, look out at this stunning view and give yourself five minutes. That’s my plan anyway!

Hope you’re all still enjoying this beautiful weather!

Big love all xx

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Filed under Days Out, Exploring, National Trust, Photography, Places, Seaside, Summer, Summer 2018, UK, Weekend Trips

Birthday Weekend – Flamborough Adventure

Hello Sunshiners!

July is upon us and it’s Britain is beautifully basking in the heatwave so far. Yesterday was my birthday and to celebrate my family and I are spending the weekend together.

Today we went to Flamborough because we fancied being by the sea. Flamborough is situated 4 miles from Bridlington. It’s a really beautiful little place; a hidden treasure. The little beach cove meant that we had found a lovely spot to spend the day.

I love being on a beach, the sand between your toes, the constant sound of the waves makes my mind completely empty. I’m completely at peace. I find it so therapeutic and calming. Today did not disappoint. In fact, I’m writing this on my way home, I’m that excited.

My birthday has been pretty awesome and I wanted to share it with you lovely people too. Have you any seaside stories? Regardless, I hope you’re enjoying the sunshine and taking some time for yourselves. You deserve it!!

Enjoy July everyone!

Big love xxx

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Filed under Days Out, Photography, Places, Seaside, Summer, Summer 2018, UK

Bank Holiday! A visit to Rievaulx Terrace

Hello lovely people!

It’s May! The sun is shining, the skies are the clearest blue and we have a three day weekend. What could be better? I hope you’re all soaking up the sunshine and enjoying this little break.

For me, I’m playing host to my lovely family who have come to stay. My parents are so important to me so I wanted to make sure they had a lovely time.

Yesterday, we had a little trip to Nunnington Hall which was just as beautiful as ever. I’ve visited here before – see here for more!

What came next was really rather special. We decided to continue driving for 8 miles to find Rievaulx Terrace. None of us had been before so we were really excited to be outside, exploring in the beautiful sunshine.

The Rievaulx Terrance was created by Thomas Duncombe II between 1749-57. It took one hundred men, eight years to finish. Incredible! He wanted it to be a place where he and his guests could see a distant view of the medieval abbey ruins in the valley below. He also placed two classical temples at either end of the terrace. This terrace was one of the earliest triumphs of the Picturesque movement for landscape gardening.

We walked through the woodland forest which was so tranquil. You could only hear the birds and the wind. There is something quite beautiful about that and the feeling it creates. Along the woodland are different sculptures as part of an exhibition. My favourites were the little owls in the tree and the hedgehogs.

When you come to the end of the woodland, you walk out onto a lush, green terrace. Just hiding at the bottom is the first of the classical temples: The Tuscan Temple.

The temple is closed to visitors, however the windows and mirrors provide you with view points. There is rich plasterwork inside, a painted roundel of a winged goddess. The tiles are 13th century from nearby Byland Abbey.

Arthur Young who visited in 1770 said: “Ruins generally appear best from a distance.” I have to say, I completely agree with him. I didn’t know what I expected from this place, but I was completely overwhelmed and in awe.

Every step you take reveals more of the ruins from below. It completely took my breath away. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen.

Photographs will never be able to do it justice. A photo can’t capture a feeling. Yet, I do hope it shows some sense of the wonder that this place creates and embodies.

Continuing the walk along the terrace brings you to the second temple: the Ionic Temple. Just when I thought this trip couldn’t get any better, we went inside.

Here the Duncombe family would have fed and entertained their guests. The interior is lavish and oozes elegance. I honestly have never seen anything like it in my life. I probably will never see anything like it again.

The frescoes show mythological scenes and are the creative work of Italian painter Giuseppe Mattia Borgnis, dated around 1753. The centre of the ceiling shows Aurora, Apollo and the Muses. It is beauty defined.

This day meant so much more than seeing beautiful places. It was time for my family and I to relax, breathe and restore and value our time together. The view and the temples were an added bonus. It was exceptional.

I wish you all a wonderful bank holiday. Enjoy the sunshine, you all deserve it!

Big love all xxx

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Filed under Days Out, National Trust, Photography, Places, UK

York Minster

Hi Lovelies!

I do hope you’ve all had a peaceful week. As April draws to a close, I found myself needing a weekend to recover and relax. Sometimes we all need that time to just stop and reflect. After a very lazy morning on Saturday, I decided to pop to York. I absolutely love it there: the cobbled streets, the eclectic mix of different shops and the beautiful Minster. (I am ashamed to say I’ve probably walked past it, looking up, at least a handful of times!)

As you approach the Minster, it is clear to see that it’s a magnificent piece of architecture. I really do feel like it’s incredible that buildings have stood through momentous historical events. Of course things change them, people and weather mainly, but they still stand tall and strong.

The Minster was built over 250 years, starting in 1220 and finishing in 1472. The first thing that got me was the fact that generations of people worked on this building to never see the end product. This building was the centre of so many lives, just as it is today.

My absolute favourite aspects were the many medieval stained glass windows. The detail, the stories and the conservation are just mind blowing. I found myself completely taken with them as I looked around. I personally liked The Great East Window. This is the size of a tennis court so it really isn’t a surprise that it caught my eye. More than half of the England’s medieval stained glass is at York Minster.

From the outside the glass looks divine, but it is once you are inside the pictures come to life. When the sun shines in it must create a rainbow like reflection. I also loved the glass which shows the Tudor Roses. Again, massive in size and colour, it sits proud at the top of the Minster.

Along with the glass, the ceilings are also incredible in design and colour. It feels so grand, so impressive. It’s awe inspiring to be within there. As I was walking around there was music playing in preparation for the Evening Song service. It was like a heart beating.

I found myself feeling incredible moved as I walked around. I had tears in my eyes for so many reasons. The numbers of men and women who died to save us in many battles and conflicts. The beauty that building creates even after a fire threatened to destroy it. The moment of reflection to think about my own loved ones and put everyday trials into perspective.

York Minster is the beating heart of the city. It is astounding in so many ways and I feel truly grateful to have seen it. After all, I am a firm believer in it is how a place makes you feel that stays with you longer than the sights of that place. This place with certainly stay with me.

Here’s to May everyone! I can’t quite believe it.

Big love. Xx

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Filed under Days Out, Photography, Places, UK

Treasurer’s House, York

Hey guys!

Happy March! Just when I thought spring was fast approaching, more snow came. However, that did not stop me exploring this weekend in York.

I absolutely love York; it’s such a beautiful place. The shops are quirky and there is something interesting around every corner. (Not forgetting the Harry Potter shop which I did of course visit!)

I braved the snow and the biting cold to visit Treasurer’s House. I didn’t even know it was there. From the outside, it looks like quite a humble home. I didn’t quite realise what massive surprise lay behind these doors.

Purchased in 1897 by Frank Green, this property became a lavish show home, filled with antiques, art and furniture that he loved.

The house was so impressive that Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (the Prince and Princess of Wales at this point) requested to come and visit and stay. That’s saying something!

The rooms are incredible and eclectic. The size is quite overwhelming. Each room showing a different period of time; a different idea and perspective. My favourite was the rather amazing Blue Drawing Room.

The Tapestry Room was also just awe inspiring. I loved learning about how some tapestries were found behind the walls by pure chance. I find it incredible that tapestries can survive hundreds of years. It’s amazing.

This may sound strange but whilst I was there, I felt completely hidden. Despite being in the centre of York, surrounded by the Minster and many many people, I felt like I was just at peace really. I loved it.

If you’d like more information, look here. It’s definitely worth a visit. There’s a cute little cafe there too and a ghost tour!

I’ve also had chance to finish reading this months Read The Year Book too, so stay tuned for that post!

Sending you all my warm thoughts!

Big love xx

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Filed under Days Out, National Trust, Photography, Places