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  • Maeve Waite

    Maeve Waite

    24 year old work psychologist, mental health advocate and future dachshund owner. occasional writer, baker and photo taker. posts have been featured on time to change and mental movement magazine, and I sometimes like to write all lower case.
    Oxford, UK

    I'm at the point in my life now where one thing I've realised that's so important to do, is to reassure people that whatever they feel is valid. It's ok to feel pissed off/angry/fed up/confused/happy/sad etc over whatever it is, even if someone else can't get their head around why.

    A lot of times when speaking out about my mental illness, I've been met with anger and annoyance, or even complete indifference. It's made me feel like my feelings didn't really matter, or that they only caused pain and annoyance, like a burden.

    After a while, this begins to seep into the rest of your life. I felt that if nobody really cared to listen to what I felt, why should they care about what I have to say? And so, I became known as a quiet girl, often with the word 'conscientious' written on my report cards at school. Being conscientious isn't a bad thing, but I came to resent it, because that seemed to be the only word to describe me. I knew there was more to me, but I didn't feel comfortable to be myself, or to be honest about my feelings.

    Things changed when I met my ex-boyfriend 7 years ago. While things didn't work out for us in the end, I'm still grateful that I could say at least for a short time, I had someone who paid attention to me without trying to offer advice or solutions that hadn't been asked for. I had someone who listened fully without judgement and sometimes, that's all you need. Therapy helped me for the exact same reason, and if I could afford to have a session every week, I would.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that now I realise how so many of us - those with mental illnesses and those without - probably underestimate our own feelings because we feel they'll be rejected or laughed at or brushed off like they don't matter. Any feeling you feel is valid because you felt it. It doesn't matter how much people will put you down, call you crazy, laugh at you, shut you out, or even just how quickly they'll change the subject - your feelings matter.

    This culture we have of brushing over everything - the British stiff upper lip especially - is rubbish. When we degrade feeling, we make it harder for those who can't cope with their feelings to reach out. We might even lose people for good.

    I don't ever want someone to feel as I have done because it's not true. It's easy to tell you to ignore what they say and 'you do you', but when you need help, that doesn't help. If you feel you can't talk to anyone about the most hidden of feelings - write it down. Journaling has become so helpful to me these last few months and I'm sure it's prevented so many anxiety attacks.

    One last time then: feelings matter, even yours.

    M x
    . Thursday, 19 July 2018 .

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    . Tuesday, 17 July 2018 .

    At the start of June, a couple of friends and I headed off to Lisbon for a weekend of sun and sightseeing. It was my first time ever to the capital, and also to Portugal - those I've somehow already managed to visit several Portuguese colonies...?

    Anyways, I'd heard good things about Lisbon, having heard it's quite a popular destination at the moment, and it didn't disappoint.
    From my other trips, I'd seen influences of Portuguese architecture and food which I loved, so to be right in the heart of it was amazing. Pastels, pasteis de nata, and so many hand-painted tiles and it was all beautiful.

    Staying at the Czar hotel in central Lisbon, we spent Saturday-Tuesday there, with an early flight out of Heathrow and an evening flight back into London City Airport. 
    Tip: If you're not great with flying, I'd avoid using City airport unless you have to - one of the most turbulent landings home!

    Over the weekend we explored the city - first we visited the pop-up Sweet Art Museum  which is basically every kid-who's-ever -seen-Willy-Wonka-and-the-Chocolate-Factory's wish come true. Free sweets as you go round, fun games to play and a massive marshmallow pit - you can't go wrong.
    N.B. this pop-up is coming to London soon...!

    The rest of Saturday was spent hitting up Parque das Naรงรตes - a beautiful chilled out part of town with cable cars, the marina and the university. We had lunch at a cafe overlooking the yachts on the water, feeling so peaceful so far away from the main city. I had no idea Lisbon was this big! 

    Sunday was spent up at Sintra, which is a town about an hour out of Lisbon in the mountains. I've done a separate post about our day there, which you can read more about here!

    Taken by my friend Jo!

    Monday took us to and around Alfama to visit the Time Out Market, the comercio plaza, Rossio, and Pink Street, a colourful street that used to be Lisbon's red light district; as well as Belem, where we got the famous egg tarts and where my friends surprised me with an early birthday sunset boat cruise (with wine)!

    I have never been sailing before so wasn't totally sure what to expect, but I completely loved it!

    We left Belem early evening and sailed up towards the main city, past Lisbon's version of the Golden Gate Bridge. I actually did a boat tour around the real version in San Francisco as part of my solo travel in 2015, so it was so nostalgic to be doing something similar in a completely different place! It was such a lovely present from the girls and totally unexpected - I honestly wouldn't have thought to do it - so thank you to them for one of the best presents ever.

    I totally recommend taking the boat tour if you want to get a different view of Lisbon - and their sunsets are stunning.

    Points from Lisbon:
    • for the love of god bring good shoes because it is HILLY
    • sometimes the metro only fits half the platform, so stand in the middle if you want a seat
    • the street art is everywhere and it's gorgeous
    • if you're a bit further out of the city you may end up walking on main roads
    • the egg tarts at Pasteis de Belem are second to none (but pricey).

    If you like this post, please give it a pin!

    M x

    . Friday, 29 June 2018 .

    Today I hit the big 2-5, and this past year has thrown up a few things that I definitely didn't see happening. Instead of focusing on what is no longer there, or what's changed, I'm laying out 25 of my happiest memories, and taking back this upcoming year with the intention to make many more. This is what I've got so far:
    1. Sleeping under shooting stars in Monument Valley, USA, 2015. We all slept in sleeping bags, and it was bladdy freezing, but a once in a lifetime experience!
    2. Feeling on top of the city having drinks in Hong Kong, 2017. 
    3. Watching the fireworks in Disneyland Paris with my best friends, 2017.
    4. Completing therapy.
    5. Being part of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony in Rio in 2016. 
    6. Eating ice lollies whilst posing for a family photo in Clonmel, Ireland in 1995. We still have this photo!
    7. Filming for a BBC documentary on anxiety, 2017. This was one of the scariest things I've ever done, but I felt so proud of myself afterwards! It's yet to come out but hopefully sometime soonish...
    8. Hearing 'I love you' for the first time.
    9. Flying in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, 2015. Absolutely incredible.
    10. Taking my mum to the Harry Potter studios, 2014. She'd wanted to go for such a long time, and she loves Harry Potter. It made her so happy and that's why it's one of my favourites.
    11. Being named my school's 'most likely to be a one-woman Friends tribute act' at the age of 17. I have used this achievement in many a job application in my time, and I stand by it.
    12. Seeing Joshua Radin live in London in 2013.
    13. Putting sand down my Grandad's back in Ireland, aged 3. I have no idea why I did this, but he was so good about it!
    14. Refreshers' Week, 2012.
    15. Watching over New York all lit up, from the top of the Empire State Building, 2015.
    16. Listening to My Name Is You in Herefordshire in 2013. You know when you have those moments where you're so happy, you're not sure you could be any happier, and you just know you'll remember it forever? This was one of those.
    17. Singing Shania Twain in the car with my mum on the way to pick up my A Level results, 2011. Shania is good for anxiety.
    18. Eating pastries in front of the Eiffel Tower and seeing it all lit up whilst interrrailing, 2013.
    19. Feeding Dolphins in Florida, 2002.
    20. Thorpe Park, 2009.
    21. Going on the bumper cars at my graduation ball in Southampton, 2014. The end of an era.
    22. Sunset boat cruise around Lisbon with my best friends for an early birthday present, 2018. Friends who sail together stay together.
    23. Seeing Zac Brown Band live in Toronto, 2015. Live open air concerts are the best.
    24. Every sleepover with my best friend Annie obsessing over the Jonas Brothers and watching too much Youtube. I can't even count how many we've had over the years, but Annie never fails to cheer me up/make me laugh/support me and she's the best. Also, Camp Rock.
    25. Walking around Tivoli Christmas Market in Copenhagen, 2017. Magic, but oh my god I've never been so cold.
    M x
    . Friday, 1 June 2018 .

    This post has been a long time in the works! For someone who literally lives on the doorstep of one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the world (I'm biased, and I don't care ha), I don't take advantage of it anywhere near enough.

    Home to the oldest English speaking university in the world and the alma mater of hundreds of famous people - including actors, writers, presidents, researchers, you name it - Oxford has a rich history that influences so many who come to study or live here.
    As a local who was born and raised in Oxford, I have a slightly different perspective. I wasn't a student here, but it's my home, so I'll always have a soft spot for the city.

    After reading a big amount of posts about Oxford, I thought it'd be a good idea to write something with a bit more of an insider's take on the city, because it's not entirely about the University, you know...

    Where to stay

    Oxford is not a cheap city. In fact, it's officially the most unaffordable city to live in in the UK (no I'm not bitter about the millionaires moving here to commute to London easily which has driven up the cost of living, not at all).
    The great thing about Oxford is that it's bang in the middle of the country (width-wise), so if you're in the South of England, you can easily go for the day if you want. Sorry northerners, it might be easier to stay the night, but you get more of the Oxford experience, hey?! 
    Not that I've ever needed to, but 2 pretty swish hotels are Malmaison Hotel, which is in the Oxford Castle complex, and is literally an old prison - but don't worry, it's fancy and nice and all that now.
    If you're famous/rich and reading this, you're probably gonna wanna stay at The Randolph Hotel right in the centre of the city. I can't comment on the rooms, but it has several drawing rooms, so you know it's gonna be of a pretty high standard.

    Another hotel further out from the city that I've heard are pretty nice is Artist Residence, out towards the market town of Witney (a name you might recognise as the constituency of our ex-PM...let's not get into that) which is actually quite a nice little day out if you're looking for something more Cotswolds-like without actually venturing that far.

    Or if like me you don't have a lot of money, there's a Travelodge on the Abingdon Road which isn't too far from the centre - you can easily get a bus taking you to the centre of town.

    I'll be honest - I don't know much about the hotels here as I've never needed to use them, so you're on your own with that one...

    What to see/do

    Ok, this is where you start to feel it was worth reading this post. I hope. I'm gonna include both the obvious (in case it's your first time to Oxford) and the less well known spots in the city, and slightly further out, that I think are worth visiting. So, here are my picks for Oxford:
    • Radcliffe Camera - probably the most instagrammed place in the city, and you can kinda see why. After living here for nearly 22 years of my life, I don't get tired of it.
    • Christchurch College, Cathedral & Meadow - this is one of the biggest colleges at the university, and probably the most famous. The Cathedral is actually what the Great Hall in Harry Potter was modelled on, and they filmed a lot of scenes in the college corridors. The meadow is a great option for a picnic in the summer, and you can walk right down by the river if you fancy seeing some rowers. Totally up to you, it is also a nice walk too...

    • Bodleian Library - the official University library, the second biggest in the UK, one of the oldest in Europe, it's huge. Worth a quick visit just to see the architecture!
    • Punting - you can go to the Cherwell Boathouse or Magdalen Bridge (which is cheaper), but you MUST go punting in the summer, preferably with a Pimms.
    • The Bridge of Sighs - even though it's more like the Rialto Bridge in Venice, this bridge, opposite the Bodleian and down the road from the Sheldonian Theatre, actually just connects 2 parts of Hertford College. It's a big tourist spot though!
    • University Parks - though it's further out of the city than Christchurch meadow or Wellington Square Park, it's a far bigger park, and perfect for a picnic.
    • Museums: Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers, National History - The Ashmolean has a huge selection of exhibits on, often with a lot of prominent or important historical artefacts or art, it's definitely worth going to (and it's free)! Pitt Rivers and National History Museums are more focused on anthropology, archaeology, and obviously national history, with collections from the university. Check out the shrunken heads at Pitt Rivers especially!
    • The Botanic Gardens - the oldest in Europe, and so so beautiful. A great place to get away from the bustle of the city and for a bit of calm. Read my post about it here.
    • Sheldonian Theatre - where everyone goes and graduates, but it often hosts concerts and speakers, so worth checking out. Also the Gargoyles, they're something too.
    • Port Meadow - perfect for a walk just outside of the city, making you feel like you're more out in the countryside, and you can walk down by the river too. Also, you're likely to meet several cows on the way.
    • The Covered Market - full of individual cafes and boutiques, this is one of my favourite spots in the city. 

    Places to eat

    • There are plenty of pubs throughout the city - Oxford has a very good selection - but my personal favourites are The Turf Tavern (an old haunt of Bill Clinton apparently), The King's Arms, and The Eagle and Child (apparently C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien used to meet up here). Both are popular choices, where you'll get a mix of locals and students alike. Another favourite just outside the city is The Perch, which has the nicest gardens leading down to the river.
    • To get a good brunch selection, I'd suggest The Handle Bar Cafe for your Instagram needs, Turl Street Kitchen (the menu changes every day here FYI), or Queens Lane Coffee House, which is the oldest coffee house in Europe, and a personal favourite!
    • For a coffee stop, my favourites are: The Missing Bean, which is a cute little independent cafe (but is always full of students so get there quick if you want a seat!); Georgina's in the Covered Market, which is the most adorable upstairs cafe and they do a mean hot chocolate; or Society Cafe, Oxford's closest thing to a hipster-like-London cafe, where they are coffee experts.
    • Moo Moos do the BEST milkshakes. Better than Shakeaway and all the others. They're in the Covered Market - go go go!
    • An Oxford institution is G&Ds. There are 3 branches across the city, all with slightly different names, but they do amazing ice cream, sundaes, and bagels! A must do!
    • For afternoon tea, The Randolph does a cracking selection, but it's a little pricey. Other options include The Grand Cafe, which is pretty swish; The Rose, which is a cute little cafe on the High Street, and Vaults Cafe and Garden, which is right next to the Radcliffe Camera.
    • Dinner wise, it depends what you're after. With the new addition of the Westgate, Oxford has now got a huge selection of chain restaurants, but if you want something independent, there's plenty on offer. For American food, I absolutely 100% recommend Atomic Burger on the Cowley Road, or Oxford Blue Smokehouse. A HUGE Oxford favourite is Oli's Thai, just off the Cowley Road - it's so popular, there's like a 3 month waiting list, so book in advance! For Tapas, I recommend Al Andalus on Little Clarendon Street, or Arbequina on the Cowley Road. And for something fancy/romantic, go for Gee's on the Banbury Road (it's also highly instagrammable if that's your thing too).

    Cocktail O'Clock

    • Jericho is popular for its drinking scene. I love Raoul's Bar as they have a HUGE menu full of things you'd never try anywhere else. Angel's and The Oxford Wine Cafe are also good spots too!
    • I went to The House bar just off the High Street to celebrate my 24th birthday with friends, and really loved it! The decor is really lovely, the drinks menu is varied, and it's decently priced. Another hidden gem is the new bar called Under The Shop which is under Pint Shop on George Street. Very cute decor, and a very reasonably priced menu...
    • Somewhere you absolutely must go is The Varsity Club, and in particular, its rooftop bar. Here you can have a cocktail overlooking all the spires of Oxford, and it really is one of the best views of the city. Perfect in the summer!


    • Everyone and their mothers usually go for a trip to Blenheim Palace, which to be fair, is pretty nice. You can get passes to explore the palace and the grounds, and there are buses from the city centre. Also worth a visit to the nearby town of Woodstock too, as they have some nice pubs and boutiques.
    • If you're going as far as Blenners, you may as well go to Bladon, to see Winston Churchill's grave, particularly if you're into your history.
    • A lot of people make the trip to Bicester Village, which is a designer shopping outlet filled with all the fashion designer stores you could think of, at a fraction of the price. You can get a train there from Oxford station, and it takes about 15-20 mins.

    If you liked this post, don't forget to pin it!

    M x